Congratulations! You survived Friday the 13th!


Congratulations!

Depending on where you live, Friday the 13th is either over or nearly over!  And, if you’re reading this, you survived!!!!!

Obviously, you listened to Crazy Ralph and you did not have sex, smoke weed, skinny dip, go out at night, take a boat trip to Manhattan, go into space, go to sleep, go out for firewood, ask any strange people if they needed help, go looking for your friends, strip down to your underwear so you could go run around in the rain, or have any fun whatsoever!

In other words, today was a boring day for you!  But you survived!

In honor of your survival, here’s the end theme from Friday the 13th.  This was composed by Harry Manfredini and, believe it or not, it’s actually a rather beautiful piece of music.  So, celebrate your survival by listening.

And be prepared to make up for lost time on Saturday the 14th!  Be bad…be very bad….

 

In Memory of David Bowie


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Last night, when I heard that David Bowie had died, I immediately flashed back to the summer of 2003.  I spent that summer hanging out with my friend Jay.  I was an aspiring writer and he was the musician who got all the girls.  Jay was also a David Bowie fanatic whose cover of The Man Who Sold The World was at least as good as Nirvana’s.  When I think about that summer, I remember the all-night bull sessions, smoking in Jay’s backyard, watching reruns of Hawaii 5-0 and agreeing that McGarrett was one cool dude, and the weekly poker games where I always seemed to lose.  But mostly, I remember David Bowie providing the greatest soundtrack anyone could want.

Over his 50 year career, David Bowie reinvented himself many times.  When he released his first single in 1964, he did so under his real name.  He was 17 years old when Davie Jones and the Queen Bees released Liza Jane.

By the time he released Space Oddity in 1969, Davie Jones had become David Bowie.  Space Oddity would introduce the world to Major Tom, a character to whom Bowie would return in the future.

1970’s The Man Who Sold The World is often erroneously believed to be a retelling of Robert Heinlein’s novella, The Man Who Sold The Moon.  In 1997, Bowie himself said that the song was about being young and feeling incomplete.

Life on Mars? was once described by BBC Radio 2 as being “a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dali painting.”

1975’s Golden Years, with its chorus of “run for the shadows,” is one of my personal favorites.

In 1977, David Bowie appeared on the final Bing Crosby Christmas Special.  He and Bing performed Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.  At the time, Bing was quoted as saying about Bowie: “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well.”

In 1980, Major Tom returned in Ashes to Ashes.

Rather than grow stagnant as an artist, David Bowie was always reinventing himself.  In 1997, he proved he was still a force to be reckoned with when he released I’m Afraid of Americans.

In November, David Bowie released Blackstar.  In the song’s video, Major Tom made his final appearance.

Lazarus was the last single that David Bowie released during his lifetime.  The video was released three days before he died and feels like it was his way of saying goodbye.

Rest in peace, good sir.  And thank you for the music and the memories.

2015 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 10 Favorite Songs!


Whenever we have visitors here at Shattered Lens HQ, the first thing that they always seem to notice is the wide variety of music being played.  Considering the number of contributors that we have working here on any given day, it makes sense.  After all, we all have our own individual tastes in music and we’re not afraid to play it loud.

Of course, I’m sure it can be somewhat jarring who is, for the first time, discovering the aural experience of walking down a hallway here at the TSL Building.  As you walk by Necromoonyeti’s office, you hear the sounds of metal thunder.  Across the hallway, Arleigh might very well be listening to The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.  Even further down the hallway, you might hear the blogger known as Jedadiah Leland listening to anything from Nine Inch Nails to Ornette Coleman or maybe you’ll even hear my sister singing along with Beyonce.  Eventually, you’ll reach my office and, nine times out of ten, I will be blasting EDM (or occasionally Britney Spears) and dancing, only turning the music down if Leonard Wilson stops by my office to continue our debate as to whether or not Aaron Sorkin is an overrated misogynist.

(Occasionally, if I’m lucky, I can convince Valerie Troutman to come to my office and sing the Degrassi theme song with me.  Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through….)

Anyway, my point is that every writer at the Shattered Lens is an individual with her or his own taste in music, movies, and … well, everything.  So, when you look at my list of my 10 favorite songs of 2015, you should keep in mind that these are my ten favorite songs and they do not necessarily reflect the musical opinions or tastes of anyone here at the Shattered Lens but me!  And, in fact, if you want to see just how eclectic a group we here at the Shattered Lens, be sure to check out Necromoonyeti’s list of his favorite metal albums of 2015!

Anyway, here are my favorite songs of 2015.  Notice that I didn’t say “best.”  Instead, these are some of the songs that I spent the previous 12 months obsessively listening to.  When I make my autobiographical movie about my life in 2015, these are the songs that will appear on the soundtrack!

Honorable Mention: Elle King — Ex’s and Oh’s

Ex’s and Oh’s has pretty much been my song all through 2015.  However, the song itself was originally released in 2014 and this is a list of the best songs released in 2015.  That said, hardly a day in 2015 went by without my listening to and singing along with this song and there’s no way I can’t include it.

Special Bonus Track Included Because Otherwise There Would Be 11 Songs Listed And Lisa Has A Phobia About Odd Numbers: Ellie Goulding — Love Me Like You Do

And now the list:

10) Adele — When We Were Young

9) Icona Pop — Emergency

8) Kelly Clarkson — Take You High

7) The Chemical Brothers — Sometimes I Feel So Deserted

6) Public Service Broadcasting — Go!

5) Taylor Swift (featuring Kendrick Lamar) — Bad Blood

4) Purity Ring — Bodyache

3) Big Data (featuring Jamie Liddell) — Clean

2) Public Service Broadcasting — Gagarin

1) The Chemical Brothers (featuring St. Vincent) — Under Neon Lights

For my previous picks, check out 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014!

Tomorrow, I will be posting some of my favorite things that I saw on television in 2015!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy
  4. 2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime
  5. 2015 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For The 16 Worst Films of 2015

2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees


The 2016 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced and classic rock wins the majority; with Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Chicago and Steve Miller. Getting a boost from ‘Straight Out of Compton‘, N.W.A. rounds out this years inductees.

Eligibility requirements:

To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.” **

Deep Purple:

Waiting for more than 20 years, Deep Purple finally got the honor they deserved. Deep Purple has been listed as ‘Heavy Metal’, ‘Hard Rock’ and ‘Progressive’. Having sold over 100 million albums, they are one of the most influential bands of all time. The band has gone thru many line-up changes thru the years, and it will be interesting to see which members show up on stage.

Chicago:

Formed in 1967 Chicago pulled a brazen move with their first release,  Chicago Transit Authority being a double album, which went Multi-Platinum. Self-described as a “Rock and Roll band with Horns” Chicago has changed their sound thru the years, but remains one of the best selling and longest running bands of all time.

 

Cheap Trick:

Having preformed more than 5,000 shows, Cheap Trick is one of the most enduring bands of all times. Formed in 1973 they broke thru in Japan first, before the US, often referred to as the ‘American Beatles’. In 2007, the Illinois senate designated April 1st as Cheap Trick day as opposed to April fools day in honor of the band.

Steve Miller:

Although releasing his most notable hits with the ‘Steve Miller Band‘, Miller is being inducted alone. After a storied career, Miller may be ‘The Joker’ after all!

N.W.A.:

Pioneers and legends in the Rap and Hip-Hop genre, N.W.A.’s induction into the HOF is only the third Hip-Hop / Rap group to be let in. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren and the late Eazy-E were portrayed in this years Oscar nominated ‘Straight Outta Compton

Lyrics NSFW:

Snubs:

Among many left out this year were ‘The Cars‘, ‘Nine Inch Nails‘, ‘YES‘, ‘Janet Jackson‘ and ‘The Smiths‘.

The 31st Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Barclays’ Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 8, 2016 and be filmed by HBO for a later broadcast.

**VIA https://rockhall.com/inductees/induction-process/

In Memory of Ornette Coleman


Ornette Coleman

On Thursday morning, jazz legend Ornette Coleman died.  He was 85.

My father loves jazz and I grew up listening to a soundtrack that included Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman.  Out of all of them, Coleman was his favorite.  As he would always say, no one else sounded like Ornette Coleman.

Ornette Coleman spent a lifetime reinventing both himself and jazz.  A tireless innovator and a fearless experimenter, Ornette Coleman returned jazz to its improvisational roots.  With his 1961 album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation, he not only popularized a new approach to jazz but gave it a name as well.  As Coleman himself once said, “For me, being an innovator doesn’t mean being more intelligent, more rich, it’s not a word, it’s an action.”

Rest in peace, good gentleman.

Neon Dream #9: Air – Alone in Kyoto


Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation left a strange impression on me. In a way I can only really compare to Casablanca, it burrowed into my memory like an actual personal experience. I don’t review movies, and I am ill equipped to explain what made it such a special film for me, but the bond that Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) forge over a few days in Tokyo is something I’ll always carry with me and look back on fondly. That’s pretty weird, but I’m not complaining.

Music was essential to Lost in Translation, embedded into scenes as a part of what Bob and Charlotte actually experience. The hotel lounge has a live jazz band. “The State We’re In” by The Chemical Brothers plays in the club they visit. Phoenix’s “Too Young” pumps over the stereo when they go to a friend’s apartment. A woman dances to Peaches’ “Fuck the Pain Away” at the strip club. The actors aren’t just seen singing karaoke; they perform it at length. Coppola was pretty clever about extending this integration to the more traditionally situated background music. Happy End’s “Kaze wo Atsumete” enhances the feeling that Bob and Charlotte are winding down from an exhausting night, but it drifts faintly into the hallway, as if playing from the karaoke room. Charlotte is wearing headphones when we first hear Air’s “Alone in Kyoto”. The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” kicks off as Bob enters his cab. The encore of “Kaze wo Atsumete” in the credits could easily be playing in Bob’s head. Almost every song in the movie functions within the environment, not just as a peripheral enhancement.

Garden State tried something like this a year later, though I don’t recall the extent of it beyond the awkward Shins sequence. The effect was a sort of garish, in-your-face endorsement of director Zach Braff’s favorite tunes. It didn’t really cut it for me, in spite of the soundtrack’s impressive cast. In Lost in Translation, Coppola was a lot more attentive to creating continuity between songs and bringing musicians on board with the film’s atmosphere. She didn’t stop at using “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine; she dug founder Kevin Shields out of relative obscurity to compose four original pieces. A lot of the other artists formed a pre-existing community of sorts, suited to engage the project as art rather than a quick paycheck. Soundtrack supervisor Brian Reitzell performed drums for Air on their 2001 album 10 000 Hz Legend. Both Air and Roger Joseph Manning Jr, a fellow studio musician on that album, contribute original music to Lost in Translation. Phoenix previously performed with Air, and Sofia Coppola ultimately married their singer. While their contribution was recycled (“Too Young” appears in the context of young adults who would have been familiar with obscure but up and coming artists; using Phoenix’s first single made sense), the band was still involved in Coppola’s social sphere of musicians.

“Alone in Kyoto” plays as Charlotte travels through the classic side of Japan, visiting shrines and observing ancient customs. While that could possibly put it at odds with my theme, Air’s approach keeps the feeling modern, casting tradition as a subtle, delicate element of the present rather than as a form of escapism. It also occurs in a sequence without character interaction, permitting a pure sense of exploration. Within Lost in Translation‘s soundtrack, “Alone in Kyoto” reaches closest to that Japanese dream that still permeated a lot of American subcultures in 2003. The movie itself brought many of us the closest we would ever come to actually living that dream.

Review: Marduk – Frontschwein


A part of me feels totally out of my comfort zone reviewing Marduk, but I keep coming back to the band over the years in spite of it. The classic Swedish style of black metal, as popularized by bands like Dark Funeral, Naglfar, and of course Marduk, never managed to appeal to me much. It was all about this relentless brutality–an aesthetic not far removed from death metal–when I was turning to black metal for its occult appeal. It was Satan as a cold-hearted masochist, but I wanted to legitimize Catholic blood libel. Live dissection vs goat sodomy. That’s pretty clear, no?

But, aside from the fact that they were just better at it than everyone else, Marduk initially stood out to me for their song titles and lyrics. “Christraping Black Metal”, “Fistfucking God’s Planet”, “Jesus Christ… Sodomized”, this stuff was priceless. I think when I viewed it as a comedy I could get into the over-the-top, machine gun-paced blast beats as something delightfully ridiculous.

That sort of entertainment value can’t hold out forever, and it was ultimately Marduk’s shift towards martial themes that kept me attentive. They did it on Panzer Division Marduk in 1999, and they’ve turned to it again with the Iron Dawn EP in 2011 and now Frontschwein. If there is any one thing that this style of music captures effectively, it is 20th century warfare.

song: Frontschwein

Marduk capture the violent chaos of war on a level I have only heard rivaled by Germany’s Endstille, and while modern themes do not permeate all of their albums, they stand at the center on Frontschwein. The album recounts events in World War II from the perspective of Germany as a bloodthirsty machine reveling in cold destruction behind its thin veil of justifications. The connection is not merely lyrical, though Mortuus’ vocals are surprisingly discernible, allowing bits and pieces of war imagery to seep into your head unaided by a lyrics sheet; you can hear to conflict in the music: sliding guitars as falling bombs, blast beats as bullets. It’s methodical, rhythmic, and relentless, in contrast to the more eclectic approach the band has taken on Satanic-themed albums like Serpent Sermon. It is Marduk as I like them best.

That being said, it does feel repetitive at times. This style always does, to me at least, and I feel like Marduk relegated their less interesting songs to the middle, bookending the best of them. “Frontschwein” is followed by the incredibly catchy headbanging march of “The Blond Beast”, and Mortuus’ constant screaming of “Afrika” in the song of the same name forces your mind to picture a bloody desert battle between Rommel and Patton’s grunts. “Wartheland”‘s slow pummel with distinct lyrics like “succumb to domination” feels like an endless wave of Nazi forces marching in to conquest and occupation. The track titles in general go a long way towards steering the music towards its intended imagery. (I absolutely love the album title. I don’t know if it’s a common word or one of the band’s own crafting, but it certainly projects the overarching subject matter: humans as bloody fodder in an unstoppable military machine.)

But by “Rope of Regret”, my ears grow a bit numb to the pummeling. I enjoy the song when I listen to it in isolation, but I rarely can remain attentive long enough to reach it if I’m listening to the album as a whole. The next four tracks, all fairly typical in style, fade together for me whatever their individual worth. “503” is ultimately the song that draws me back in. A song of conquest, it drastically slows down the pace, listing in a dominant voice the conquests of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion. It makes me snap back from my zoned-out state and again picture the album as a vision of German brutality in World War II rather than a jumble of noise. The song is well-placed, because it leads the way into “Thousand-Fold Death”.

song: Thousand-Fold Death

And “Thousand-Fold Death”… holy shit, this song alone is worth buying Frontschwein for. It’s got the best guitar licks on the album, but this song is all about Mortuus. He does things with his voice on this track that will give you motion sickness. It’s not just the sheer quantity of words per second he manages to belt out–his clarity while doing it is unbelievable. If I ever doubted that Mortuus was an incredible vocalist before this song, I certainly don’t now. The album ends with “Warschau III Necropolis”, an eerie, ambient mix of samples from militant speeches and battles, brass, and bizarrely distorted spoken words that manages to capture the grim nature of the album through a totally different means.

There is a reason why I have listened to Marduk more than any other band that plays that brutality-driven Swedish varient of black metal, and Frontschwein captures what I like about them best. I am a bit hesitant to say that I like it more than Endstille’s Infektion 1813, but those two albums definitely stand leagues above anything else I have heard in a genre of metal that, I’ll admit, I seldom find to be very creative or inspiring.

Check out Frontschwein by Marduk on Century Media.