Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Howlin' Rain

The new project by Ethan Miller (Comets On Fire) and John Moloney (Sunburned Hand Of The Man) called Howlin' Rain can be succinctly summed up in two words: FUCK YEAH!. This is the second side project from brain damaging psychedelic bands to take a turn towards a pastoral classic rock sound. Phil Franklin (also of Sunburned) had released his Franklin's Mint album a couple months earlier, but these albums aren't really cut from the same cloth. As I stated earlier in the Franklin's Mint review that it's is a good hangover record, but the Howlin' Rain is a record to listen to while you're putting your body through what will cause you to be hungover the next morning. It has a hanging out at your friend's weird cousin's farm and drinking beer with your shirt off and blasting at your empty cans with shotguns and all the dudes have long hair and the chicks are wearing tank tops and cut off shorts and there's a barbeque and a bunch of dogs running around and at night someone rolls up joints on a Skynyrd album and everyone gets naked and jumps in the pond kinda vibe. They channel the same kind of energy running through early 70's Allman Bros. and Grateful Dead albums, but it's not without some of the Comets/Sunburned nastiness. (And say what you will about the Grateful Dead being boring hippie wankers. While in the mid-80's they turned into a parody of themselves and Garcia weighed 300+ pounds and was more interested in Haagen Dazs and heroin than remembering lyrics to songs he had been singing for decades, you can't deny that Workingman's Dead and American Beauty are some solid country tinged rock n roll albums). Ethan Miller's voice sounds like a red-lined, beat-up pick-up truck careening down a dusty road on a beer run, especially towards the end of "Death Prayer In Heaven's Orchard" and on "The Hanging Heart", the latter a blistering 9 minute plus epic with Miller dipping into his Comet's styled fuzzy freaked-out guitar tone. A couple tunes feature nice little touches of banjo, like on "Calling Lightning From A Scythe" before they wind themselves up into barbarous rock-n-roll abandon. Tim Daly brings the squalling saxophone sound that appeared on the Comet's "Blue Cathedral" record to a few songs as well, most notably on "Indians, Whores, And Spanish Men Of God", which also has the coolest bass line since Grand Funk stopped being relevant. The album closing murder ballad "The Firing Of The Midnight Rain" is one of my favorites. It's another one of the tunes that they're in no apparent hurry to finish up, with it's deep, head-nodding bass groove anchoring some guitar licks inspired by the aforementioned pair of Grateful Dead albums. In contrast to the gravelly vocals on most of the other songs Miller's voice is more soothing, and has an extended repetitive outro with the album's finest vocal harmonizing singing "all young men sleep easy / in the mud beneath the midnight rain / all love flows towards the ocean / with a smile upon my still face". And the second best reason to actually go out and buy this album instead of downloading it is the blotter paper worthy watercolor art work done by Arik Roper.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The events of my 6-6-06

Here's a quick breakdown of how I spent my 6-6-06:
12:00 midnight: camping on state land with some old friends. while we didn't quite adhere to all the slasher flick cliches (no booze, drugs, or sex) we did have the classic 3 dudes/2 chicks ratio and brought an axe to chop firewood with, but luckily for us the only blood drawn was from mosquitos. went to sleep uneasily with visions of dying at the hands of serial killers. Left the axe stuck ominously in the tree. I have seen far too many movies.
3 a.m. Awoken by a text message that read "Let him who have understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, six hundred and sixty six". as if I needed a reminder. Spend the next 5 hours tossing and turning because it's too hot under my sleeping bag and the coyotes keep howling and I can hear other things crashing through the woods.
11 a.m. Back in Detroit. Had my fill of sleeping without a roof over my head for a year. It's not natural to not have concrete under my feet. I sleep easier to the sound of gunfire and squealing tires. Win $27.50 in a single slot machine pull as I walk through the casino to get my parking garage ticket validated, so not only do I park for free, but make a tidy profit as well. Suckers.
6 p.m. Finally awake and really hungry. Go to the bar for "one quick beer" to strategize the rest of the evening. Want to play Slayer on the jukebox but there isn't any. Instead of going to get a nice healthy veggie burrito, the freezer at the bar breaks and there is a free feast of onion rings, fries, and chicken wings which I eat because I have been the world's worst vegetarian lately. 3 beers later I get a call saying I'm on the guest list for the Whirlwind Heat show so I make my way over there feeling like I may vomit from the grease.
9 p.m. Watching Whirlwind Heat. It looks like my friends and I are the oldest ones there, except for the one mom that is also in attendance. Their set was hot, but needed to be played in a smaller room. There probably weren't more than 80 people there in a room which holds around 450. Their spastic energy was somewhat diminished by all the empty space, but that didn't stop them from kicking out their fuzzy 33-rpm-porno-funk-cranked-up-to-45 jams to an appreciative audience. I guess it's hard to really get too crazy with someone's mom around. Still trying to figure out which side of the fine line that separates stupid from clever that the song about selling sperm is on.
10:15 Left the Stick before Be Your Own Pet played and made my way to the Lager House for Wolfbait. While waiting at the bar for their set to start, get a text message about how terrible Be Your Own Pet is from the door guy of the Stick. I figured as much, and there was no way I was going to miss Wolfbait on 6-6-06. I would pretty much be a fucking fraud. In a world where metal is in danger of taking itself way too seriously, all these brooding pasty boys with black hair and lip piercings screaming in bands with sentence fragment names (As I Lay Dying With My Bride In November or whatever), Wolfbait celebrates the glory days of metal with tongue in cheek reverence. When's the last time you saw a guy wearing Blind Guardian t-shirt and a black hooded cloak onstage while he cranked out Maiden and Priest worthy licks on his guitar? I didn't think so. He can even wax philosophical with the best metal frontmen with words of wisdom like "Midnight only lasts for a minute". You couldn't even see the fucking drummer because his kit was too big, and hell yes he has a double bass drum. They also have a song called "Eat Pussy Til We Puke" which is just as good of a name of any Anal Cunt song, but about a thousand times easier to listen to. I really wanted to stick around to see the new band featuring members of Rocket 455 (the greatest Detroit band you've never heard of who for all practical purposes should've been big rock stars) but I was just too worn out at that point. Wolfbait rocked my ass off.
11:45 p.m. Urinated on the tree in my backyard before wearily making my way to my bed for a proper night's sleep, free from the howling of coyotes and other things crashing through the woods.