Unfortunately the spambots or whatever the fuck they are have found my site so I now have to approve every comment to stop a bunch of penis ads popping up. Please don’t let it out you off leaving comments. They are much appreciated.
Taken July 20th, 2011, Los Angeles, CA.
‘The Dwarves Are Born Again’
Your safest bet is to avoid this album, go nowhere near it or anyone who had anything to do with making it: they are bad, bad people, and, like sticking your dick in a $20 hooker, will only lead you to trouble. Excuse the analogy, but this is a Dwarves album and you’ll find much worse. Oh so much worse.
“A cure for cancer or for AIDS/ to volunteer in fire brigades,” ponders frontman Blag Dahlia on the opening track, before deciding, “let’s just get high and fuck some sluts.” And this is just track one! It’s called ‘The Dwarves Are Still The Best Band Ever’, and the scary thing is they may just be right, because 25 years into a ‘career’ that should have lasted ten minutes The Dwarves, alone in their field, “like turd in swimming pool”, are virtually untouchable.
Six years on from the last slab of horrid genius, ‘The Dwarves Must Die’, ‘…Born Again’ maintains much the same formula, and, like it’s predecessor, the same feeling that you should wash your hands after touching it. Because make no mistake, like the aforementioned hooker, this new album is utterly infectious. “Your 15 minutes are up”, tick, tick, tick, “we’re here to tell you, you suck!” tick, tick, tick… That one’s going to be stuck in your head like the later stages of syphilis. It’s called ‘15 Minutes’ and clocks in at less than a minute. And it’s that way with pretty much every song, each and every one of them a nasty little rash that just won’t go away.
The clever bit is that The Dwarves disguise most of their tunes as throwaway -three minutes or less of obnoxious pop punk with some sing-a-long swearing, blink and you’ll miss it -but there are elements and flavours of multiple genres, all very carefully layered and often camouflaged. Don’t be fooled by the nudity and mayhem, these boys know exactly what they’re doing and probably have done since 1997’s classic ‘The Dwarves Are Young And Good Looking’. Phil Spector got it wrong with The Ramones, if he was even attempting this, but here is a record that is polished without being cleaned, like the difference between trailering a car to a custom show or driving it there. The Dwarves drive it like they stole it with the top down and the radio blasting nothing but hits. “LAPD is after me! Let’s get this party started!”
Bad, bad people. Bless them.
SEAN WHEELER & ZANDER SCHLOSS
Walk Thee Invisible
Fans of those Salton Sea crazies Throw Rag may have been curious enough to check out frontman Sean Wheeler in his acoustic guise alongside one time Joe Strummer collaborator Zander Schloss. If you have, and they play many shows in many dive bars, recently coming through town with the mighty Masters Of Reality, then you’re in for a treat. Wheeler is as much an entertainer as he is a great singer, evoking thoughts of some punk rock rat pack with Wheeler as a tattooed Sinatra. He’s a crooner, always with smile and a joke up his sleeve, but a teardrop on his face.
Walk Thee Invisible, as you’d expect from an acoustic album, is a perfect representation of the duos’ live show, with all its moods and all its ups and downs, right up to the gospel track Spiritual that people tend to talk through. Not that the song doesn’t make sense, but it’s perhaps too personal for a crowded room, Wheeler the sinner where other have feared to tread, baring his soul for all to see. Indeed, it’s that kind of album, seeped in the memory of whiskey and lost loves, with song titles like I Wish I Would’ve and Stranded, in many ways an old mans’ bar album, but again, so much more. And such is Wheeler’s roguish charisma that they’re always a wink in the eye that has seen so much regret, a knowledge that no one else is to blame and that tomorrow holds no fears.
It’s best to pick your moments. Walk Thee Invisible is a tough album at times, a wolf hidden in all this melancholy mellowness, and will catch you off guard on the wrong day, inviting you to wallow, as sour as sour mash. But you get that feeling that’s not the point: more than anything this bitter sweet collection is a celebration, sometimes for it’s own sake, for having come out the other side with the ability to still laugh. In truth it’s probably an old farts album, or at least it should be, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed Seasick Steve down (check him out if you haven’t already!), shifting millions of albums with a very similar path, so maybe this will do well. It’s certainly as deserving.
Shot yesterday, June 24th, 2011, West Hollywood.
Kerrang! November 27th 1999. Lemmy’s favourite interview!
QUEENS OF THE STONEAGE
Los Angeles, Wiltern Theater
Just behind the lighting desk in the little VIP area The Queen of England is rocking out to Queens Of The Stoneage. It’s a truly surreal sight, Dame Helen Mirren, eyes closed, fully absorbed in the music, anticipating every beat. Queens Of The Stoneage are that sort of band nowadays, fully integrated into the mainstream, the big rock show selling out two nights back to back. Half the crowd come for the hits and then text each other through the rest.
But tonight is a little different. Tonight Queens are playing their self-titled debut album in it’s entirety and that, in the States, means all the die-hard fans come out of the woodwork, especially since the album was never given a decent release in the US and has been out of print for so long. You have to know this one, and tonight the crowd (including Dame Mirren) knows every song back to front and inside out. For tonight at least, the bands is ours again.
Admittedly this is a very different line-up to the three-piece of 1998 when the album was released, but any worries that they might tamper with the classics is needless, as everything from ‘Regular John’ onwards through ‘Avon’ and beyond comes note perfect. Indeed, true to their word Queens literally play their debut in it’s entirety including the bonus track ‘The Bronze’ before they venture anywhere near the newer material for an encore. LA crowds may not dance much, but you’d be hard pushed to beat the roar of approval.
There’s a saying among the Mexican community here: ‘we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us’ and that holds true with Queens Of The Stoneage. Hearing their debut in this context it’s clear that Queens never really moved to the mainstream, the mainstream moved to them. They still confound at times, even to the extent of playing dull shows sometimes (though this is not one of them), and they still provoke a response. Of course it’s nice too feel like this is still out little secret and maybe tonight it is, but the reason Queens Of The Stoneage have hits is quite simple: they’re really very good indeed.
For Terrorizer Magazine.