boozy musings

After a rather inexcusably huge gap in posting, I've published a short reminiscence of my time in Ireland over at Blotto, the Journal of the North American Booze Council. It is, as one might expect from the venue (both of publishing and of subject) largely focused on drinking.

I've reproduced the introductory paragraphs below, and a link to the balance of the essay immediately follows.

Ireland is, first, a blur of ancient stone walls flashing out of the night as we blast down back country lanes, fifty kilometers per hour on the black left side of the road. Sarah has only been driving for a month. She and her sister Emma collected us after we touched down at Shannon, we weary and bleary and them bearing broad smiles and accents. They were, immediately, the most fun people I had ever met, but it was now obvious that in this Rover was where we were going to die, grinning, sung off to heaven by broadcast American blues music.

No one dies in Ireland before they’ve had a pint.

Second Class on the Overnight to Drunkistan, or The Boozy Foreigners – Part 2


from the mouth of the Squirrel

Recording engineer Tom Beaujour took to his Nuthouse Recording blog recently to describe the "punishing task" of tracking the forthcoming Flaming Tusk full length:

"The absolutely massively named Flaming Tusk and their debut album was up next. Crazy-ass extreme underground metal. A smarter, more well-read bunch of guys you have never met. They are obsessed with bizarre spirits (of the alcoholic, not supernatural type) and had bottles of some of the weirdest shit I have ever seen (artichoke liqueur, anyone?) at the ready at all times."

Read more about Tom's further adventures recording Five Finger Death Punch, Mutiny Within and Upon A Burning Body here.

The new Flaming Tusk full-length will be out Januaryish.


douse the stars

Xristophage, Drummer

The Flaming Tusk recording session has been going tremendously well so far. In the first four days we got eight songs tracked with the full band, and our remaining four days will consist of guitar solo overdubs and the remainder of the vocals. I, personally, am rather astounded at the amount we've done so far and how incredibly rad it's all sounding even before any kind of real mixing work has happened.

While the band has been relying on a combination of NJ Transit and the MTA to get to Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken, our intrepid engineer / producer Tom "The Squirrel" Beaujour prefers to arrive in a much more rock n' roll manner, i.e.:

This being our first time in a Real Recording Studio, we've all been working out various methods of expressing what we're trying to get across. For example, our drummer Dumnorix Χριστόφαγος conducts guitarists through the control room glass in this manner:

We haven't decided on a name for the album yet, though we have a good amount of time before doing so becomes necessary. Days Without God is a popular choice on the shortlist, but I imagine the brainstorming will ratchet up during the mixing and mastering process. Album art will likely wait until we decide on which of the many metal labels out there deserves to release our apocalyptic awesomeness, but I assure you it will be great.

I leave you with a little taste of what's to come...

Visit flamingtusk.com for lots more video snippets of the work-in-progress. As always, the Abigail EP is available for free download from music.flamingtusk.com


"The USA Today" and Dan Brown deserve each other

I do not intend to read Dan Brown's new novel. I DID read The DaVinci Code because the entire world would simply not shut UP about it ever ever ever, and I completely hated each individual page.

Because I am a very petty man, I was incredibly delighted to find my rubbernecked reading of "The USA Today"'s, uh... words... about Brown's latest justified by the gift of the following exquisite sentences:

Langdon is a professor of "symbology." (Brown says there's no such academic field. "The closest is symbiotics.")

If there were such a thing as "symbiotics", I assume it would actually be the study of the lucrative synergy between hack lowbrow novelists and remedial newspapers written by and for the lexically challenged.


and... go

This is it, eleven days until Flaming Tusk charges into the studio to begin recording the followup to the Abigail EP. It's a fairly un-metal thing to say, but I'm a big fan of Nada Surf's Weight Is A Gift so it's quite exciting for me to work with producer / engineer Tom Beaujour seeing as how he was responsible for the recording on that there record. Also, hell, he's the editor-in-chief of Revolver Magazine so you know he's got an ear for the heavy stuff. We're going to be knocking out this whole thing really quickly, but we've been rehearsing the material diligently and I'm pretty confident we're going to make excellent use of our studio time.


these are the bands I know, I know


photo by Michele DiBernardo

Seize Them! played the main stage at the Astoria Music Now! festival (because of the exclamation point, mostly) on July 25th. It was fantastic to see such a concentration of great Astoria bands and musicians, and I hope we get to play it again next year. As usual, the recording of the show is available for free download at seizethem.com.

Flaming Tusk will be taking a good chunk of September to record our new, uh, record with engineer/producer Tom Beaujour at Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken. We're hoping to get a bunch of our new songs tracked, and following immediately after our last day of recording Flaming Tusk will be playing a show at The Cake Shop on September 20th with Athens, GA's own The Dumps. We're probably going to be playing GREAT after two weeks in the studio, so you definitely don't want to miss this show.


Seize Them! in print

At long last, Seize Them! has been recognized in print. The luminaries at local press outlet Ins&Outs Magazine have released their article on us which began with an interview way back in December.
Seize Them! in Print
The actual article, unfortunately, is not on Ins&Outs' website, but I did take the time to type it all out and post it on Seize Them!'s site so you can read it here in its entirety.


motion pictures

Flaming Tusk played Hull's Sole Lord record release party on May 26, and here is a video clip of us playing "I Nap In Blood" from The "Abigail" EP.


doing the Charleston

Here's a great set of pictures by Vanshnookenraggen from last night's Flaming Tusk / The Witches Tit / Hull show at The Charleston.



The rosebush in front of my house is doing rather well this year.


Mastodon 5/9/09 at The Fillmore New York


Last night I caught one of Mastodon's two NYC shows at which they are playing the entirety of their new album Crack The Skye. I'm a big Mastodon fan, but I'm upfront about my favorite stuff of theirs being Leviathan, two albums back. Crack The Skye is a good record, but it is significantly more "rock" than Mastodon has been in the past (though some folks said that about their last record, Blood Mountain, too), with clean vocals and, y'know, choruses. I predicted (to my friends and bandmates) it would be a huge crossover hit, and that seems to be coming true what with CtS's activity on the Billboard charts of late. My hope is that their next record will be extra-brutal, leaving all the new fans going "...what?".

The show went off well; they started with album opener "Oblivion" and went straight through, guitar-exchanging time between songs smoothed over by atmospheric keyboard washes and video projections that seemed primarily derived from the film Alexander Nevsky. The crowd, somewhat to my surprise, seemed both very familiar with the new songs and definitely on board with them, if the fist pumping, singing along, and mosh pit activity are any indication (despite all of the above tapering off as time went on). The material does come off a bit better live than on record, in my opinion, which is a credit to the crushing power of Mastodon's live presence.

Speaking of which, the band (and especially lead guitarist Brent Hinds) really came alive after the CtS portion of the show had ended and they moved on to a selection of hits from Blood Mountain and Leviathan (okay, and "March of the Fire Ants" from Remission). I don't know if that stuff is just more fun for them, or if they were psyched to have finished with the "business" portion of the show, but it definitely left me wanting to see a more typical Mastodon concert wherein they play anything they feel like playing.

The night's two opening acts were Intronaut, from LA, and Kylesa (fellow Atlantans to Mastodon). Intronaut were decent... Most of their songs had a few cool moments and a couple of songs were rocking all the way through, but overall I found them to be too pretty too much of the time. Kylesa is a band I'd wanted to see for a while, and I did enjoy them, though you have to work pretty hard to convince me that your band really needs two drummers and I'm not sure they really did. Musically, they're certainly heavy and can bring the crushing riffs, though the lead guitar work tends to be a little simplistic.



Internet, I call your attention to Seize Them!'s first show of 2009, the AMandA party on 4/18/09 at Wonderland Collective.

We burned the warehouse down, but first we played the Doctor Who theme song.

Download the whole set for free at seizethem.com.


flaming tusk envideoed

An intrepid audience member captured Flaming Tusk's performance of "Ichor" during their 4/6 Precious Metal gig at Lit Lounge.


two things and another thing too

A: I am so very happy that the American Right feels the need to run into the room and shout 'MR. ROGERS SUCKS!!1!1' in order to get attention. Or maybe all the R fogeys have realized they're about to be replaced by people like the new guy running The National Review, so it's just cane-waving at lawn interlopers.

B: Wired, Make and Paste magazines have clearly all been talking to the same design consultant. Next time you're near a recent copy of any of the above (especially Paste), pick it up and pay attention to how the covers feel. Some very smart person clearly has been exhorting publishers to enhance the ways in which print offers a richer experience than pixel-based media. Touchscreens aside, reading blogs lacks tactility.

C: Monday night's Flaming Tusk show at Lit went over really well. Rumor has it some operative or other captured part or all of it on video.


MetalKult.com pimps Flaming Tusk

Interweb metal mainstay (and Guitar World affiliate) MetalKult.com has seen fit to recommend that folks come out for Flaming Tusk's April 6 Precious Metal show at Lit Lounge.

Read all about it.


SXSW Day 4, Sat. March 21

Saturday was a much lighter day than either Thursday or Friday. I began my adventures at the Flatstock poster exhibit at the Austin Convention center where there were reams of incredibly cool concert posters on display by the artists who made them. I wasn't in a buying state of solvency, so I had to satisfy myself by taking cards and dreaming about the day Flaming Tusk or Seize Them! goes on tour and needs awesome posters for advertising and merch. Someday, someday... The work of Matt Parrillo from Monolith Press and Brian Mercer of Mercerrock were particular highlights.

Finally managed to catch up with my friend Garann at Waterloo Park for some of the day's free shows. Israel's Monotonix were crazying up the place with their garage punk chaos, which was admirably tight given the band had set up in front of the stage in the mosh pit and were frequently riding pieces of the drumkit on the upstretched arms of the crowd. I believe they claimed some kind of world record for having performed eleven shows at this one SXSW festival, but their precise meaning remained unclear due to accent thickness.

Monotonix was merely the warmup for my second Circle Jerks show of the festival, and they killed it once again. Far more stage diving at this show than the one at Emo's, and in my estimation (if this show was any indication) stage divers have suffered some serious ego inflation over the past decade or so.

I dropped in to Elysium out of curiosity about the second Japan Nite showcase. You can never be sure what you're going to get, musically, from the Japanese: wild creative experimentation and slavish imitation seem to the the two most likely options. I suppose that's true of music everywhere but somehow this polarization seems to express itself most clearly w/r/t old Nippon. Special Thanks from Aichi prefecture were taking the stage as I arrived and, sadly, they sit solidly in the latter category. Uninspired pop punk with cutesy girly vocals delivered by a lady who appeared to be about thirteen. Nothing to see here, and you've heard it all before. To their credit, the band was having a great time despite equipment problems.
Special Thanks

For what may turn out to be the final official music event of the festival which I attend, I caught the PJ Harvey and John Parish show at Stubb's. Ms. Polly Jean is as compelling as ever. She and her band were working a WWII vibe visually, PJ in a blazing white torch singer gown and hairpiece/hat, her band in suits and fedoras. This show established a theme for me of seeing big name performers I like playing material I've never heard before, in this case cuts from the recently released "A Woman A Man Walked By". The music was still essential PJ: simple, atmospheric, idiosyncratic, primal. I very much want to hear the record, but I'm not sure an outdoor amphitheater is the right venue for this stuff. At its quieter moments, backed by banjo or ukelele played gently and mournfully, the music failed to reach the back half of the crowd or touch the louts who'd rather shout drunkenly to each other about air mattresses and "dry showers". An intimate club, small enough for the bigger moments to frighten you slightly, would be ideal.
PJ Harvey & John Parish 2

The show was over too soon, the clock forcing the band to make way for The Indigo Girls and, later and most unfortunately, Third Eye Blind.

Sunday is likely to see me drinking in more of Austin, TX than can be had by wandering East Sixth Street and vicinity so this is likely my last South By Southwest post. If the stars align, the next time I'm here I'll be playing with one of my bands. Or, at least, I'll bring somebody with me to augment my mediocre networking skills (though, on that tip, I did manage to give CDs to quite a few band members... here's hoping they don't lose them). Until next time.


SXSW Day 3, Fri. March 20

The vernal equinox ensured that today's festival doings would receive equal amounts of daylight and darkness. I got into town early (meaning, 2PM) because there were Things To Do!

First off, I sat in on a demo listening session at the convention center. The panelists were four producers in various genres, and they were pulling submitted CDs out of a bin and listening to the first verse and first chorus of the songs their supplicants wished them to judge. Despite frequent caveats of "we don't know anything!", the panel generally proceeded by explaining what would make the song in question blow up huge on the radio, or why it never would. Afterward the producers made themselves available for meeting and greeting, so I took the opportunity to press the Flaming Tusk EP on Don DeBiase, the one guy who seemed amenable to metal. He seemed very excited to get it.

I discovered via SMS that The Onion were presenting a showcase at Radio Room featuring Ra Ra Riot. I really liked their self-titled 2007 EP and I wasn't sure I'd make it to their 1AM show, so this was serendipitous. I probably missed half of their short set due to the length of the line (in the afternoons, one's badge counts for naught. you wait with the rest of the peons), but what I saw was as lush and danceable as their record, with the added perk of seeing all six folks including the cellist and violinist bop around enjoying themselves. They also drew one of the most tightly packed crowds I'd been in since the beginning of SXSW.
Ra Ra Riot

I stuck around to catch ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, who I'm not terribly familiar with but thought might be interesting. They definitely brought the fire with a rave-up apocalyptic groove. I'm not convinced the second drum kit was necessary, but it at least looked cool to have two drummers set up face to face mirroring each other's slammings. The crowd was singing along and trying to avoid the drumsticks and water bottles being thrown from the stage.

The first show on my To See list for the day was Brooklyn metal act TOMBS at Room 710. Brutal blackened post-hardcore (you realize I'm just inventing genre names, right?). I was jealous of their sonic intensity. Crazy psychedelic washes of noise backed by blastbeats and bass chords. The guys look like they will kick your ass, but I spoke to guitarist Mike Hill for a bit after the show and he was happy to meet a fellow metaller from NYC. He took a copy of the Flaming Tusk EP with enthusiasm and I told him I'd do my best to catch their next NYC show on April 12th at Public Assembly (with Ghengis Tron, Black Anvil and Wetnurse).

The Southern Lord Recordings showcase at Emo's Annex kicked off with Thou from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They were decent enough doom metal, but the show felt a touch flat and uninspired. Their vocalist would do well to work a couple of variations on his stock scream into the act.

Next onstage was Eagle Twin from Salt Lake City. They were another octave-dropped guitar and drums two-piece and it's possible my feelings about them were clouded by how much I liked Jucifer two days before. I was mildly disinterested until, perhaps ironically, they got to their more minimal material about halfway through their set. Eagle Twin have some good ideas but they might do better with a wider sonic palette. The guitar tone was impressively huge, though.

I ducked out of Southern Lord's show in order to catch Texas black metallers Absu at Spiro's Amphitheater. Absu black-metalled so hard that they evilled a hole into their snare drum. Fortunately some dark angel lent them another one. They're not so black metal that the drummer/lead vocalist is above cracking jokes in his death growl voice. The crowd was very pumped up, abetted by Captain Morgan and his wenches handing out free rum shots and branded swag.

The highlight of my evening was seeing Rwake at Red 7. They completely destroyed the room with their Arkansas-bred intensity. It was the first show of the night that had me headbanging and holding up invisible orbs. The stage was full of people who looked like they were just this side of becoming toothless meth addicts, but for their decision to crush metal riffs. I really wish their set had been longer, but such are showcases. I had the chance to speak to lead vocalist CT for a bit after the show as he was selling Rwake merch and he accepted my offer of the Flaming Tusk EP enthusiastically. He also mentioned that he was looking for another band to fill out a bill in Brooklyn that one of his friend's bands is playing, so here's some crossed fingers that CT doesn't lose the disc and likes it.
Rwake 1

I returned to the Southern Lord showcase and missed the beginning of Wolves In The Throne Room's set, but what I did see was great. Lit only by two candelabras flanking the stage, WITTR poured out a tarry black torrent onto the crowd. Atmospheric and harsh, but never without a keen sense of droning melody, like a clawed hand reaching up to scratch the stars from the sky. The band plays like you just might never hear anything again once they're through with you, and you have little choice but to submit to the crush.
Wolves In The Throne Room

Finally, Pelican. Chicago's instru-metallists. They seemed pretty psyched about having just signed to Southern Lord, and they played some tracks from their forthcoming EP. They were high-energy, heavy, stony, doomy... Southern-Lordy. I'd definitely see them again.

And that was day three! Lots of good shows, and hopefully effecting pressings of the flesh. Will I survive Day Four? Tune in tomorrow to find out.


SXSW Day 2, Thurs. March 19

I got a pretty late start after adjusting to this whole idea of "there are things that you want to do happening all day and all night", but I wound up at the tail end of the Kerrang!/Guitar Hero party at Wave. It was, theoretically, invite-only, but I wasn't hassled at the door for being a badge-wielding gate crasher so I suppose they must have been nearly out of free booze.

Attack! Attack! from the UK were playing, and while the ample pogoing happening onstage indicated the band was having a great time I was distinctly underwhelmed by their nümetal-cum-metalcore schlock. It managed to sound overproduced even live. This is what you think is rad enough to import from overseas, Kerrang!?

On the sun-dappled front porch of Beer Land Texas I found The Fresh & Onlys from San Francisco flailing out their energetic, rave-up garage rock. Lots of fun. They, like quite a few other bands I've seen so far, were afflicted with PA problems, but once power was restored they brought back the rock, and it was good.
The Fresh & Onlys

I followed a stiltwalker down the street to Headhunters and stumbled upon Austin's own Meganaut. They've got the self-promotion angle locked down. The dudes were delivering heavy party rock that in its weaker moments drifted toward hair band territory, but it was saved by the reassuringly beardy, bluesy vocals. Not sure I'd seek these guys out again, but if they're playing the bar you're drinking in you'll likely be satisfied.

Today's theme was seeing bands from New York City, and I started off by checking out the Tee Pee Records showcase at Room 710 to catch Kreisor. They're a big-riff three piece who were playing heavy rock with a strong 70s-via-retro-90s vibe. Sadly, they seemed to fall a bit short of the mark. The guitar solos were simultaneously wanky and simplistic, the bassist dropped the ball on the backing vocals, and I left after three songs.

For the remainder of the night I parked myself at The Ale House for the The End Records showcase. This was a good choice. I only caught the tail end of Junius' last song, but I liked what I heard. Next up was Brooklyn's Hull. I'd wanted to see these guys for a while, and I guess it took flying all the way to Austin to do it. Nevertheless, Hull blasted out a toppling wall of stoner-flavored sludge that got everyone in the club fired up. Lots of hair in faces. Nice guys, too. I spoke to Carmine, one of Hull's three guitarists, for a little while after the show about NYC metal and promised I'd come see them again when they played back home.

Next up was These Are They from Chicago. Their vocalist claimed that we were witnessing their first live show, but if he hadn't tipped us off there would have been no way to tell. Very tight, if perhaps only medium-technical death metal. The bassist and rhythm guitarist were headbanging along and tossing their blondeness all over the place, but the vocalist and lead guitarist could stand to amp up their stage presence at tad.

Back to the New Yorkers: Goes Cube shook the Ale House with very heavy post-punky spacerockmetal. Very full sound for a three-piece band. The guitarist was the first band member of the evening to fulfill the punk tradition of coming off the stage to play in the audience. The club got progressively more crowded as Goes Cube's show brought people in off the street, so they're doing something right.

Chicago's Tub Ring are not only a band, they're their own mosh pit. In any given song it's a tossup as to whether the keyboardist / maraca juggler / backing vocalist will spend more time playing or standing on his instruments. They're impossible to classify musically. I heard everything from electro-klezmer to extreme noise terror, all of it heavy, unrelenting and turned to eleven. Their breathless live show is a great rock and roll spectacle, but it's hard to tell how their sound(s) might translate to a record. Super nuts, but they got the girls dancing so what more can you really ask for?
Tub Ring

If you're into thrash, Early Man sure are a thrash band. Flying V guitars chugging away at high speed on the 6 string, ripping riff after riff. That said, it's thrash. If you're looking for anything else, you're out of luck. Early Man are singular in purpose.

Day three beckons. Last night I swapped sleeping orientation on the couch to balance out my musculoskeletal stresses. One must pace one's self


SXSW Day 1, Wed. March 18

As with all conferences, I assume, the whole adventure begins at Registration where you hope your hefty fee will actually result in receiving the magical badge which grants access to everything you want to see. I must have gotten there at prime time (about a half hour after registration opened), as there wasn't much of a line after I finished up.

Wandered through the trade show, but wasn't terribly tempted by any of the vendors. I must have missed all the best free swag.

Afterward I wandered around Austin's 6th St., drinking in the festive chaos. I've never been to Austin before, so to me it looked like all the bars in the city must occupy this one five-block stretch. I am assured that this is not the case.
6th Street

The first bit of live music I took in was the final two songs of Roman Candle's set at Troubador. They're a rocking five-piece from Nashville by way of North Carolina. They were having a great time and I'll have to make sure to check out more of their music.

Next up I drifted over to the outdoor stage set up in the parking lot at 7th St. and Neches. Austin's Snake Skin Prison were setting up, and their start got delayed by generator problems which left the PA unpowered. To kill time, their bassist went on an effects-heavy hard rock jam excursion to the delight of more or less no one. Once the PA finally kicked in, the band had started up a hard rock cover of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" which was pretty uninspired. They got around to some originals afterward, which were built around hamfisted weaksauce wankery and embarassingly stupid lyrics. They appeared to have some local fans, though.

I saw The Van Pelt from NYC on the schedule and the name rang a bell from my indie/hardcore/emo friends listening habits back in the 90s, so I caught the final two songs of their set. They sounded really rich and full, despite having broken up in 1997. The crowd was very enthusiastic, continually calling for "one more". Might not be a bad idea for these guys to keep on going.
The Van Pelt

Finally 8:00 rolled around and it was time for the first show on my To See list: Jucifer on the Emo's Annex stage. I didn't really know anything about them ahead of time and was very pleasantly surprised to discover that they rocked my face right off. Guitarist Amber Valentine (really? "Amber"? in a band that sounds like this?) generates a huge, crushing octave-dropped tone through a wall of bass cabinets AND handles the light show with a bunch of foot pedals. Musically, I could only come up with "crazy powerstoner doomthrash" as a descriptor. They're a two-piece, in the vein of Hella or Lightning Bolt, but apparently Jucifer predates both of them and I have to say I find Jucifer much more interesting. They played with total passion, the drummer hidden behind a wall of fog and grinning like a loon as he smacked the hi-hat with his foot. Go see these guys. They're nominally from Athens, GA, but I talked to Amber after the show and she clarified that they "haven't really lived anywhere for eight years".

Next up was a portion of the Texas Hardcore showcase at Red 7, and I caught Hatred Surge play their short set. They played with admirable passion and intensity, but ultimately the music was, well, hardcore. Which is to say: fast, chaotic and indistinct. The crowd dug it, and the crowd looked very much like hardcore crowds always have. 'X' tattoos, Xs on hands in thick black marker, and one kid actually wearing a JUDGE t-shirt. The venue did have a vendor of shirts and 7-inches, which felt appropriate.

Back over to Emo's Annex (which, by the way, is merely a tent in a parking lot) to see Valient Thorr. I'd been warned ahead of time that they were, well, questionable, and my warning was correct. While they have a highly energetic stage presence, musically they're hair rock in denim vests. Metal fans be warned. I ditched 'em after two songs and wandered over to see...

The Circle Jerks! The badge-holder line was long, long enough that the guys behind me from Time Magazine and Spin decided to give up. But I did make it in, and I saw what I'd estimate to be half of their set. I must say, they were killing it up there. Despite age and the bald patches mixed with dreadlocks on the vocalist's head, the band ripped it up. Plenty of offering the mic into the crowd for shout-along lyrics, as at any good punk show. The guitarist bounced all over the stage, and the crowd clearly felt the Circle Jerks still rage after all these years.
Circle Jerks

Finally, to round out the evening I caught The Decemberists at Stubb's. They were playing the entirety of their new album, Hazards of Love, which was interesting for me as this was the first time I'd ever seen The Decemberists despite being a fan. A friend of mine had expressed some negativity about the leaked copy of HoL he'd heard, but I think it hung together pretty well as a performance piece. My verdict is still out on the album, as I haven't listened to it yet. I'm sure as with most Decemberists stuff, I'll start out mildly indifferent and wind up enjoying it greatly. The band was clearly having a great time, and Colin Meloy rocked out quite a bit more than I would have imagined.
The Decemberists

And that was my day one! I retired to my accommodations with aching feet in anticipation of Day Two. Stay tuned.



Photographic proof of the "Abigail" review printed in the April, 2009 issue of Decibel magazine. Page 88.

Decibel Magazine, April, 2009


"Abigail" in Decibel Magazine

Decibel magazine's Cosmo Lee (also of metal mp3 blog Invisible Oranges, Stylus, PopMatters, and Pitchfork ) wrote a brief blurb about the Abigail EP on the Throw Me A Frickin' Bone page of the April '09 issue. Here, reproduced in its entirety:

Astoria's Flaming Tusk wins the odd bird award here. I have no idea what to call this. You Fail Me-era Converge, but sludgier, proggier and with black metal rasps? It's messy, but melodic and strangely compelling. You can download it for free at the band's site. Try or die!


Go buy every single copy of this issue you can find.


kill the undead

I am tired of zombies.

No, fortunately, I am not besieged by walking corpses (anymore), but I have reached and breached my saturation point with the resurgence of the zombie in popular culture. That I have just learned about the existence of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is partly responsible for this, but the feeling has been growing for some time.

Now, that book may be hilariously awesome and my criticism isn't directly aimed at it. But reading the title did force my brain to state, unequivocally, that no, everything is not better with zombies in it. As I'm one of the subliterate few who've never actually read Pride and Prejudice, I grant that it's entirely likely that it IS better with zombies in it, but I try to make a point of not allowing contradictory specificities to get in the way of a good sweeping generalization.

I understand the horrible appeal of the zombie. What is more frightening than a mindless, inexorable killing machine which goes beyond mere murder and threatens to turn the victim into another rotting, ravenous abomination? Creepy. The enemy that can't be reasoned with, threatened, or even defeated. Certain death. Scary stuff.

I also understand the usefulness of the zombie as a blank slate for cultural commentary. First, the zombies were the Communists, coming to enslave us all into their hive-mind, arms outstretched, desirous of devouring our free, capitalist individuality. Then the post-modernists had their way with the trope and the zombie became, ha ha! reversal!, the very television-saturated, consumerist breathwasters who epitomize the American Way. As they say on The Internet, I see what you did there. Ultimately the zombie can stand in for any enemy which cannot be understood or communicated with and which seeks nothing but our total destruction.

My nascent rejectionism has nothing to do with that, though. Mythical monsters are only useful as commentary on our fellow humans after all.

It's the sheer, ever increasing volume of zombie-related material. Why does the world need even one more zombie story? Is the next zombie movie going to be somehow scarier, or funnier, or more clever than the scores which have come before? Isn't it telling that the most major innovation in recent zombie history is depicting them as fast runners instead of foot-dragging lurchers? Is this all we've got?

The modern cultural consumer is well known to want "the same, but different" across all media and all genres. I suppose I can't fault our pop artisans for putting food on the table by giving the audience what it desires. But I, I am tired of it, in the same way I've long been tired of cop/doctor/lawyer/family drama TV shows.

The undead are over, and I'm signing the Do Not Resuscitate order.



Several of the voices in my head have been complaining that all I ever post about in this space these days is Flaming Tusk (next show Feb. 9 at Lit Lounge). This imaginary criticism is, I suppose, accurate.

To be fair, the Tusk and Seize Them! have been, together, almost the entirety of my creative output over the last several months. My "job" has been pretty slack since late December, so I don't even have any fun anecdotes about famous people or Cinematic Excess. The idea of writing something tickles my brain, but I still suffer from my chronic problem of lacking a story idea compelling enough to get me typing. Last night I even considered writing Doctor Who episodes but where, I must ask, is the line between writing "on spec" and writing "fan fiction"? As I lack any contacts or credibility with the BBC I fear any efforts on my part would fall into the latter category.

Rest assured, Internet, that as soon as I do or think something interesting you'll be the first to know.


this thing is happening

Encounters With The Tusk 1
9:30 PM
also: The Fakers
Blue Leader
Human Host
Family of Love

I even put wheels on my 4x12 cabinet because holy hell are those things difficult to move.