Recent Posts in books
March 3, 2014
by Doug Moore
Jason Netherton w/ Misery Index (left), Union Pool, 2010 (more by Samantha Marble)
Though Maryland deathgrinders Misery Index recently announced that they're releasing their fifth album in May, they've been unusually quiet for the past few years. That's partially because drummer Adam Jarvis has been pulling triple duty behind the kit for Pig Destroyer and Fulgora, but other members have been busy too -- specifically, frontman and sole original member Jason Netherton has been working on a book about the history of death metal. Entitled Extremity Retained: Notes from the Death Metal Underground, the book will recount the genre's history in a Studs Terkel-esque oral history format:
Extremity Retained: Notes From the Death Metal Underground is a sincere and exhaustive contribution to the oral history of death metal music and culture. The outcome of three years of research and interviews, Extremity Retained intends to capture the experience and ethos of the international death metal scene from its origins in the late 1980s, through the successive incarnations and evolutions that made it the subcultural force it is today. Comprised entirely of first-hand stories, anecdotes and memories, the book reflects on such diverse areas as the early fanzine and tape trading culture, regional 'scene' reports, death metal performance and technique, the recording process, as well as life on tour, all in an effort to identify the vitality and unity that gives the underground its enduring spirit. Ultimately, the idea is to explore the scene through the voices of those who helped create it, in order to understand better how the death metal underground 'worked' in its early incarnations, how it has evolved, and where it is going. Featuring original cover and section art by Matt "Putrid Gore" Carr, incidental art by Gary Ronaldson, with design and typography from Tilmann Benninghaus and title page by Timo Ketola.Other writers have addressed the same part of music history in book-length formats -- the most notable example I can think of is Decibel showrunner Albert Mudrian's Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. Netherton's take on the subject should be novel for two reasons. The first is the oral-history format; while these books are usually full of block quotes anyway, it'll be interesting to see what happens when its subjects are left to speak almost entirely for themselves. The second novel bit is Netherton's own perspective. Unlike most writers who've tackled death metal history, Netherton was an active participant in the scene he's covering, recording his first work with Dying Fetus in 1993 and tracking a demo even earlier.
Extremity Retained will come out on April 11 via Handshake Inc. (recently responsible for putting out the new Gridlink album, among other things). Stream some crusty early-'90s Dying Fetus with Netherton on bass and vox below...
February 21, 2014
By Doug Moore
The Jesus Lizard at Irving Plaza, 2009 (more by Lori Bally)
Storied American noise rock unit The Jesus Lizard originally broke up in 1999, but reunited for a bit between 2008 and 2010, during which they played some memorable shows in NYC and elsewhere. The band are technically back together as of last year (they scheduled, and then canceled, an appearance at the 2013 All Tomorrow's Parties in Australia last October), but you wouldn't necessarily know it. When the members have engaged in publicly visible activities at all, it's mostly been oddball collaborations or solo work, like vocalist David Yow's long-awaited solo LP or guitarist Duane Denison's Unsemble collaboration with members of Einstürzende Neubauten and Silver Jews.
At least now there's evidence that the band still exists in some form, in the shape of an official Jesus Lizard coffee table book. Yes, for real. The book is a characteristically cock-eyed retrospective of the band's original 12-year run. According to its publisher Akashic Books, it offers the following:
The Jesus Lizard Book is a coffee table affair of exclusive photography, art, and other imagery with written pieces by all four members of the seminal indie rock band the Jesus Lizard. The layout is stylish and elegant, particularly in contrast with the harshness of much of the band's music. Included are many Polaroids by David Wm. Sims, a delicious recipe by David Yow, a concise list of every show the Jesus Lizard played, and writings by two producers who recorded the band--Steve Albini and Andy Gill. There is biographical material of each member that covers childhood to the demise of the group. Other contributors include Mike Watt, Alexander Hacke, Steve Gullick, Rebecca Gates, Jeff Lane, Sasha Frere-Jones, KRK, Bernie Bahrmasel, and many more.If you need further empiric evidence that the Jesus Lizard still exist, you're in luck: the band are doing a couple events around the book's release. They'll have a signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square on March 25 (more info); and then a a book release party at Greenpoint's Word bookstore on March 26. The festivities start at 7pm; entrance is free, and Brooklyn Brewery is providing refreshments for the event. Visual contact with David Yow's hairy torso not guaranteed.
Sounds a little weird, but not nearly as weird as David Yow's recent and characteristically Yow-esque book of illustrated cat puns (also an Akashic book). You can read an interview with Yow about this crowning artistic achievement on Catster.com. A brief excerpt:
What's been the strangest reaction you've had to one of your illustrations?It's that kind of interview, unsurprisingly. Check out a few of Yow's cat pun illustrations below...
Well, a homeless guy came in the gallery and saw "Catnip" and started masturbating.
December 13, 2013
by Bill Pearis
I've been reading a lot of music books of late, spurred on by travel, TV shows being on hiatus and my realization that there were some cool new books out. It kicked off with Morrissey's Autobiography and has kept going (with much better books, to be honest). So it seemed like a good opportunity to round up some of the year's more notable releases, including books about Everything But the Girl, Johnny Cash, 4AD Records, The KLF, and one that attempts to take in the entirety of the modern pop era. Check out the list below...
December 8, 2013
Sorry Morrissey fans. The NYC book signing that was announced for this Thursday (12/12) at Barnes & Noble Union Square is not happening. Don't blame Moz, though. Says B&N:
There was a miscommunication solely on the part of the store and Morrissey was not scheduled to make an appearance here on 12/12/13 as we had announced in error. We hope to see him in the future, but there is NO scheduled signing for Morrissey at this time. We greatly apologize to his fans and our customers for any inconvenience this has caused.Well that's a bummer.
In other Morrissey news, February 24 sees a reissue of his 1992 album Your Arsenal on heavyweight gatefold vinyl or a CD that comes with a DVD of Morrissey's October 1991 concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
December 7, 2013
by Bill Pearis
Morrissey's Autobiography was released this week in North America in hardback -- and the UK got a hardback version this week too (the original was a Penguin Classics paperback). That's the US and UK hardback covers above, respectively.
be in NYC this week for a book signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square this Thursday (12/12) at 7 PM. According to B&N, there's no reading or performance, just a straight signing, and "Your receipt for book = ticket!" This should be an interesting scene.
UPDATE (12/8): Turns out this isn't happening. Bummer.
In related news, there have been unsubstantiated reports that the US and UK versions differ, and that some details about Moz's '90s relationship with Jake Owen Walters have been edited out. I bought the import a while back and that section is definitely one of Autobiography's most interesting, a rare glimpse inside a personal life Morrissey has successfully managed to keep personal until now. The first third of the book, detailing his life growing up a very poor Manchester, is probably the best part.
The latter half, though, spends a lot of time complaining about Rough Trade boss Geoff Travis and refuting -- line-by-line -- the ruling against Morrissey and Marr in the royalties lawsuit that Smiths drummer Mike Joyce won. There's also a lot of stuff like this:
Michael Stipe appears at Caroline Place, and we have tea in the back garden as the dunghill wafts of Queensway restaurants foul the air.Have you read it yet?
'I don't like this area,' I tell Michael.
'Then why do you live here?' he asks.
'I have no idea,' I reply.
'When I first heard Everyday is like Sunday I felt very jealous,' he goes on, and he explains how he, too, would like to go solo.
'I didn't ever want to go solo,' I say, 'I thought the Smiths would run for at least thirty albums.'
We walk through Hyde Park and then slowly across to Hammersmith. We enter the Hammersmith Odeon through the stage door, and six minutes later Michael walks onstage with REM. He is wearing the same clothes that he has worn all day, and he hasn't brushed his teeth.
December 2, 2013
by Wyatt Marshall
A couple weeks back we talked about Metal Meowlisha IV: A Headbangers Furball, death metal greats Obituary's fundraiser fest for feral cats in the Tampa area on 12/21 featuring Exhumed and Terrorizer (lineup below). Those in need of further proof of the inborn bond between metal man and kitty cat need look no further than the previously mentioned Metaldudes Cats book titled, fittingly, Metal Cats will be published in April 2014 and is meow available for pre-order. The book, cover art above, contains photos of over 100 metal musicians and fans with their cats, including:
Black Goat, Thrones, Isis, Lightning Swords of Death, Winterthrall, Wizards of Wor, The Cauterized, Book of Black Earth, Skarp, Harassor, Akimbo, Aldebaran, Atriarch, Oak, Ghoul, Ludicra, Holy Grail, Xasthur, Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct, Exhumed, Anhedonist, Morbid Angel, Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Gypsyhawk, Nausea, Phobia, Napalm Death.That's a lot of cats! A portion of the proceeds of Metal Cats will go to no-kill shelters.
In other metal book news, a new Slayer biography has emerged, titled Slayer 66 2/3: The Jeff & Dave Years. A Metal Band Biography. The book was written by DX Herris, who previously has written about Slayer in his 33 1/3 series entry, Slayer's Reign in Blood. The book clocks in at a whopping 628 and here's a description:
This timely rock biography answers burning questions, shatters popular myths, and uncovers new truths about Slayer, the iconic group that became the embodiment of heavy metal. This full-length, exhaustively researched account of the thrash kings' career recaps and reevaluates the years guitar hero Jeff Hanneman and drum legend Dave Lombardo were in the group. Over the course of 59 chapters, 400 footnotes and three appendices, it profiles the members and presents dramatic scenes from 32 years in the Abyss: A fresh look at the group's early days. Reign in Blood tours. A European invasion. The Palladium riot. The seat cushion chaos concert. Newly unearthed details from Lombardo's turbulent history with the band. Historical artwork and photos never seen in public before. The entire diabolical discography. Hanneman's hard times. The Big Four's big year. Lombardo's final exit...And a lot more -- sounds pretty thorough. It's currently available in an interactive e-book edition for... $6.66.
Slayer recently rolled through Madison Square Garden with Gojira on their first tour since the passing of Jeff Hanneman. We'll have photos soon -- did you go?
Meowlisha 2013 line-up below...
November 21, 2013
"To Me You Are A Work of Art" is a photo project in search of anyone with tattoo(s) related to, or inspired by, Morrissey and/or The Smiths. The photographs will profile fans and all their tattoos from various cities across the country over the course of the next few months. All photos will be taken by Toronto based photographer Patrick Moore.Someone tell Chris Gethard! More info in the flyer below...
The New York City date is this upcoming Sunday, November 24th and will be held at the Rocks Off offices in the Lower East Side (195 Chrystie St #401B) between 2pm and 4pm.
For any additional information - email YouWorkOfArt@gmail.com"
November 14, 2013
Johnny Marr @ Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 (more by Tim Griffin)
Having influenced everyone from The Stone Roses to Radiohead to Deafheaven, Johnny Marr's guitar sound is easily one of the most recognizable, unfolding and swelling its notes, layer upon layer, with a melody that's as dense in its bombast as it is playful in its simplicity. A mere twenty-six years after leaving The Smiths, Marr released his first solo record, The Messenger, earlier this year. It's not to say there wasn't anything going on for Marr during the time between, however. In fact, while much of Smiths fandom has continued to revel in mourning and reunion speculation, Marr has spent the time since simply defining the terms of his own artistic progression. Membership in bands such as Modest Mouse, The Cribs, Electronic, The The, and innumerable guest spots for those artists who mince no words concerning the obvious influence for them has allowed Marr to properly illuminate the evolutionary arc of his career as a thankfully unfinished piece. I had the opportunity to talk with Johnny, who is on tour now, about The Messenger as well as his creative process and what his thoughts are on writing an autobiography.
For The Messenger, I'm curious as to what kind of worked as a creative catalyst for you with the album. Why a solo album now? Was the creative process for the album different here than with your other projects?
Johnny Marr: Well, the reason the record happened when it did is because I had the ideas for the songs. I always have ideas for music and riffs and guitar parts, but over the touring years with Modest Mouse and The Cribs, I got a lot of ideas for things I wanted to sing about. It's a good start, so this album is actually driven mostly by lyrical concepts - ideas for what I wanted to sing about. That kind of ruled out the idea of me handing over the music to someone else to write lyrics, so it just fell together that way. It certainly wasn't my thinking that now would be a good time to do a solo record or have a solo career and then try and go about doing it. I just heard the songs first. I couldn't wait to get in the studio after coming off the road and just see if these things would turn into tracks. And the actual writing and recording of the record happened really quickly. I was demoing a song a day, and I ended up writing almost thirty songs - like, twenty-six or twenty-seven songs for it. It was a very inspired time. As for the creative process, I'd forgotten that I would be the producer. I was just working in the studio with my friend Doviak, and I had decided to do these songs. As I said, the demoing started to happen pretty quickly, and then I realized that the decisions of what microphones to put on the cymbals and what bass sounds to use was on me, and I'd not been in a position before where I was writing the lyrics and singing and playing the guitars and keyboards and finding the right microphones for cymbals. Technically, I was kind of a challenge I hadn't considered. It made me a bit of a grumpy person to be around for a couple of weeks [laughs]. Whereas in the past, you see, I was always fine with doing that - with being the first person in the studio and the last person to leave. It's a different thing when you're singing and writing the words. You need to be in a different headspace. I found that somewhat of a challenge for the first week or first few weeks. But now I've done it, and I'm proud that we managed to pull that off. I roped Doviak as co-producer to stop me going completely out of my mind or killing everybody in the building when I couldn't find the mic to put on the kick drum [laughs].
November 7, 2013
NYC photographer Tod Seelie has been taking pictures of New York City since 1999 (including some for BrooklynVegan), and he's now compiled selections from his 14 years of photographing the city into a new book, Bright Nights. In a piece on the new book, Animal New York writes:
[Tod] has been shooting iconic New York -- not your shiny postcard tourist New York, not your banal work-a-day New York. Seelie shoots sweaty basement DIY shows, firey tall-bike jousting Bike Kill, Swoon's Swimming Cities trash-art-rafts on the Hudson River, lawless block parties, artists, train-hoppers, anti-heroes -- our heroes. He's kayaked to abandoned hospitals on New York's lesser known islands, crawled down subway tunnels and climbed bridges. Name a place. He knows how to get there. I've asked him, "How?"The book is being celebrated with a party in Brooklyn at Silent Barn tonight (11/7), which includes sets from local rock bands The So So Glos, Unstoppable Death Machines, Ken South Rock, Amour Obscur, and Japanther, whose Ian Vanek contributed an essay to the book. Advance tickets to tonight's show are off-sale but there may still be tickets at the door..
"If you see an island and there's water in the way, get a boat," he says, smiling. "Figure it out."
For two months, Seelie sifted through 14 years of New York photographs, film rolls and negative stacks, mating deliberate diptychs for the book. "That's at my ex-girlfriend at my old apartment in Bed-Stuy in 2003... That's my friend Porkchop in Staten Island on the train tracks in mid-2000s. It was like a playground out there."
Why now? "I'm trying not be an art handler anymore. I have to start having a career," he says. "There're all these hacks doing boring photography. I'm doing something wrong."
Tonight's party is about a week and a half ahead of Tod's book tour, which includes dates in Asbury Park and Philly but no other NYC dates at the moment. All dates (many venues still TBA) are listed below...
November 4, 2013
by Bill Pearis
Morrissey on Morrissey
A couple Morrissey tidbits for your Monday. In a somewhat cryptic note on Moz mouthpiece site True to You, they note that the former Smiths singer was "discharged from Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles following treatment for concussion, whiplash and an arm injury." No information about how he sustained these injuries, but "Morrissey would like to thank the medical staff at Cedars-Sinai for their 'outstanding level of care and attention'." Feel better, Moz.
In other news, Penguin Classics UK has announced that the audiobook version of Morrissey's Autobiography will, sadly, not be read by the man himself. They have gotten, however, another Morrissey to read it: actor David Morrissey who you may know as "The Governor" on The Walking Dead or from the BBC series State of Play. He will certainly bring a gravitas to the proceedings the soft-spoken singer probably wouldn't have. We shall hear -- the audio version is out December 5 in the UK.