He’s Dead! Thank “god” for That!!

glad this fucker is DEAD

Fred Phelps: GOOD RIDDANCE!

By Kent Manthie

Well, finally, someone most people wanted to see go, went. While too often we read in the newspaper or see on TV, that so-and-so has died and it’s usually some brilliant mind who has all-too-tragically, died, usually far too young, not to say that it’s a shame when we lose any great person who’s work or presence has filled many with pleasure, pedantry, glamour, great music and many other wonderful qualities.

But on Thursday, March 20, it was a different story. Fred Phelps, a guy whose name you may not instantly recognize was a particularly awful, disgusting useless person who is only known to many due to his hate-filled work with an organization he called “Westboro Baptist Church” died. He was 84.

It may be hard to believe but this monster actually had a law degree he got in 1964 from Washburn University, in Topeka, Kansas, where he settled in 1955. After doing some silly missionary work, Phelps settled down in Kansas and practiced law, focusing on civil rights!!! According to ABC News, in 1979, “the Kansas Supreme Court stripped him of his license to practice in state courts, concluding he’d made false statements in court documents and “showed little regard” for professional ethics. He called the court corrupt and insisted he saw its action as a badge of honor. He later agreed to stop practicing in federal court, too.” The so-called church, Westboro, has remained a small, far-out sect, with only about 100 members – mostly related to Phelps, the father of 13.

So, why is such great news that this evil swine is dead? Well, Westboro “Baptist Church” is the group that’s been going around to funerals of recently deceased gay men, purposely targeting soldiers from the military, having been killed in either the war in Iraq or the one in Afghanistan. This group of bigots and tiny minds, would show up at the dead, gay, young men’s funerals and disrupt them by standing just outside the cemetery gates with handmade placards that read “God Hates Fags!” and similarly vile slurs.

One wonders why it is that, even though these bastards had the right to say what they wanted and to have these demonstrations as is mandated in the first amendment to our US Constitution; something which I would never for a minute want changed for any reason. I mean, that is what “free speech” is all about – the freedom to say the most unpopular and the most seemingly outrageous things. That’s why it was constitutional for the “American Nazi Party” to have their march in Skokie, IL some years ago, why the internet abounds with all the crazy, nutty things on it.

I’m sure that many people who drove by these fanatics when they were smearing the recently deceased soldiers who happened to be gay, had the inclination to throw rocks at them or get a gun and shoot as many as possible – especially the old skeletal, human scarecrow, Phelps. But of course, that wouldn’t have gotten them very far. With all the police presence that would obviously be there, anyone who did that would be arrested right away and while the majority of people in the country would cheer this person on, they would still, most likely, be convicted of assault or murder.

Westboro “Baptist” Church (if any other actual Baptist churches felt any sympathy for these scum then they, equally, deserve our scorn). Anyone who thinks that Phelps and his crew of goons represented anything close to Christianity obviously doesn’t know the first thing about it. Any “Christ-like” figure would never have approved of this type of behavior. Wasn’t one of Jesus’s famous sayings “love thine enemies” – well, Phelps & co. never even knew the innocent dead people they maligned and viciously attacked with their hateful slogans, so technically they weren’t “enemies”, therefore this “Church” was is about as far from Christianity as one can get.

They first gained notoriety back in 1998, when Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming, for what many, for a long time, until relatively recently, thought was a “hate crime”, that he was killed for being gay, when, in fact, contrary to what his killer, Aaron McKinney claimed at his trial, he and Shepard were well acquainted. The other boy who was involved did not actually know Shepard, but McKinney & Shepard had a history of using and selling methamphetamine and apparently, the two had even had “intimate relations” of their own. So Aaron McKinney lied through his teeth when he said he killed Matthew because Shepard had “made advances” toward him either at the bar were they met that night he was killed or in McKinney’s truck on the ride, after they left the bar. The real reason that Matthew Shepard was murdered had nothing to do with his being gay – he was killed because he, allegedly, had about six ounces of meth on him at the time he met up with McKinney and Russell Henderson, the other guy who was convicted of murder, but who claims to have not done anything but drive – he never tried to stop McKinney either and in a situation such as that, a person in Henderson’s position is, in most states, guilty of murder just as much as the one who dealt the fatal blow. Anyway, McKinney and Henderson’s plan was to rob Shepard of the six ounces of speed he had, which would’ve been a great windfall for them. All of this new information is detailed in a recently published book, entitled The Book of Matt. It is an astonishingly well-researched and heavily detailed book about the events in question as well as the booming methamphetamine scene in both Laramie, WY as well as Denver, CO, where Shepard had lived before coming to Laramie.

But I digress. Getting back to these assholes who call themselves “Christians” when they have absolutely nothing to do with anything about Christianity, nor, I assume, do they even know what Christianity is. If there was such a thing as “hell”, that is exactly where Fred Phelps would be burning right now. It’s too bad there isn’t and that as soon as this thing expired, he just ceased to exist, but at least he won’t be around to run his cult of bigots.

I’ve also read, in the Washington Post, for instance, that all the crazy antics that Fred and his cult pulled off, were actually, in some backward way, something that ended up helping the cause of gay rights in the end. Why? Because when the average, unbigoted, American, with an open-mind saw this kind of stuff going on, besides inspiring revulsion and antipathy towards Westboro, would push people who might be on the fence when it came to gay rights, or better put, were not against gays but weren’t “activists” in any way, to support those who were gay rights activists and be more open to get educated on the idea that tolerance is what America is supposed to stand for.

So, one could say that the extremely vile antics of this circus which posed as a Christian church helped to galvanize the gay rights movement in this country and to get it to where it is today.

Either way – good riddance, Fred Phelps. You won’t be missed (by anyone that matters)!!!! -KM.

Music Review: Magic Carpet Circus

Lousy with Sylvanbriar Cover - of Montreal[New Music]

Of Montreal: Lousy With Sylvanbriar

From Polyvinyl Records, 2013

Review by Kent Manthie

Kevin Barnes’s traveling circus, aka Of Montreal are back. This time with new, mellow toxic gold (my italics) encased in the new CD, Lousy With Sylvanbriar. The tunes are smooth, groovy, laid back, a slight change from the whimsical wildness of Skeletal Lamping, or Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer. Still, though, there is a lot of the core of what O.M. is all about – many time changes, the same creative crucible of dada style lyrics and a wild self-expression. I still have to say that I like it a lot better than False Priest, which, after the peak of Skeletal Lamping would’ve been extremely hard for anyone to follow-up. I was excited at first, when I initially received False Priest, because it was the follow-up to Skeletal Lamping. But, after the ‘honeymoon’ wore off, it started getting on my nerves. There were some good tunes and hummable hooks, but also there were a few cuts that didn’t have a long shelf-life. I got over it, though, especially when thecontrollersphere came out a year or so later. It was an EP of supposedly what you would think was left off of False Priest, but if it was, they left the wrong stuff off!! I really dug that one, even though it’s only about 22 minutes.

Well, fast-forward to just a couple months ago and they’re back! This time the product is named Lousy With Sylvanbriar. It’s much more groovy in places and doesn’t have as much dada to it, if you know what I mean. Included on here are some honestly cool riffs, hooks, musical phrases and whatnot. In all, I’d say it’s rather a “celebration” record. I honestly can’t articulate what it was about this CD that reinvigorated my status with the band. The je ne sais quois that got me hooked at first listen was, I expect, something that had tapped into my subconscious (not so deep as to get way down into my un-conscious), but it was just below the relatable. If you’re a serious fan, after a listen (or two) then you, too will understand what I’m getting at.

The song “Belle Grade Missionaries”, for instance, is a catchy, toe-tapping, sing-along. It still has the typical surrealist lyrics and circus-like atmospherics that are the essence that of Montreal stand by. There are guitars and an organ featured very well on “Belle Grade Missionaries”, it fades out at the end with a sexy Rickenbacker-like guitar solo, with an undercurrent of an organ shimmering in the background.

After this one, “Sirens of Your Toxic Spirit” is a down-tempo, quiet yet (in of Montreal’s own way), it’s got its own complexities. What I mean is that it’s not just Kevin singing and playing an acoustic guitar or a piano, but a panoply of instruments chiming in and out, such as a cello, organ, synthesizers and other various cosmic sounds. “Colossus” is also a little on the mellow side, but not syrupy or hokey, but, as with the album in general, a unique, psychedelic-tinged album. It’s nice to see that of Montreal has not remained static in their musical output. Just for example, look back to 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic through the album that saw them shifting into a more whimsical outfit, Sunlandic Twins, in 2005, through their funky, musical interpretation of Magritte, Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? (2007), which was followed by an EP also released in 2007, Icons Abstract Thee, which was a continuation of the ecstasy-filled romp of Hissing Fauna… Then with the release of 2008’s Skeletal Lamping, a sexually charged escapade of kaleidoscopic proportions of Montreal seemed to have hit their peak. I say “peak” because False Priest, which, when I first received it I enjoyed all right, but it didn’t take too long for it to, so to speak, run out of steam. It had its moments, but I think False Priest was made under impossible circumstances, such as, maybe they were trying too hard to come up with something that could top the theatrical, androgynous album that really spoke to a generation of youth who were alienated, felt trapped in a box and who detested labels of any kind. Not only that, but it was one hell of a great album, musically. It was completely unique and there was nothing to whom I could compare it to. Also, who knows, what was going on, personally, in the lives of Kevin Barnes and other band members, stuff that can affect artistic creativity and the sense of being on the cutting edge.

Last year (2012) of Montreal put out Paralytic Stalks, which did produce a “hit” of sorts, “Dour Percentage”, which made its rounds on “modern rock” radio stations and then disappeared as quickly. I even remember seeing them as the musical guest on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show, performing “Dour Percentage”. I must admit, that,while Paralytic Stalks had it’s moments, it, too, wasn’t a great album. After this album had been out for a time, it really didn’t click with me the way the three albums after Satanic Panic in the Attic came out (Hissing Fauna…, Icons Abstract Thee (EP) and Skeletal Lamping) did.

I can still recall when Satanic Panic in the Attic came out in around 2006 and I reviewed it for Polyvinyl Records, their label. I thought it cute and catchy with an androgynous spin to it, but not a dripping wet, sexual springboard, which was yet to come. That’s what I got after their next two CDs: Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? And Skeletal Lamping. Now, when I term it so, I don’t do it with a dismissive attitude or as a cop with the “derivative police”. What I mean is that its androgyny is much more sexually aggravated and like an repressed sexual being who has held it in for too long, explodes with excess. But along with the aforementioned, exploded creativity that was also unlocked, a great wave of depraved, dark, danceteria club, 3AM, type of creativity. Wake up the next day and write like Oscar Wilde. I think this catharsis was achieved and after those two CDs were let loose, that’s when False Priest was next up. When thinking back on it, I think that False Priest was an attempt to continue with the orgiastic, kaleidoscopic, Marcel duChamp vision that the previous two (Hissing Fauna… and Skeletal Lamping) had. BUT – as I mentioned, thecontrollersphere came out after False Priest, as if they were outtakes or whatnot, not from the last CD, but unreleased stuff from Hissing Fauna… and Skeletal Lamping, at the risk of repeating myself. For another great EP, check out an earlier released EP, Icons Abstract Thee, from 2007.

Now here’s where I have to say something about of Montreal’s earlier work: even in the midst of the “cutesy” stuff of Satanic Panic…, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse and even the compilation, If He is Protecting Our Nation…Who is Protecting Big Oil, Our Children? of Montreal did squeak through a cool, rambling CD, The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower, which, somehow, foreshadowed the loosey-goose stuff yet to come. Actually, there is no of Montreal CD I would say “don’t listen to”, because then one would not see the evolution of this unique musical combo.

But now, with the release of Lousy With Sylvanbriar, of Montreal redeemed themselves with a great album, one that, indeed, was catchy and captivating, from beginning to end. Songs like “Amphibian Days”, “Triumph of Disintegration” and “Raindrop in my Skull” are just a few samples of the great, seamless way this album erases the mistakes of the past but it doesn’t go backwards, to recapture the greatness of those mid-career days, but it takes the good elements of them and adds present and future sounds that are brilliantly put together and by the end of the album, you’re just not ready for it to end.

Now that we have this great new album out to celebrate, I can put Skeletal Lamping away for a bit, while I focus on Lousy With Sylvanbriar, which will have my full attention for a time. -KM.

Lovely, Raw and Wicked Licks

Hickoids

Hairy Chafin' Ape Suit cover

Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit

Saustex Media

Review by Kent Manthie

Austin, TX’s Saustex Media has proudly just released the newest from South Texas legends, Hickoids, a band whose history goes way back to 1984. Their original “run” went from ’84 to 1991. It was in those heady days before technology and robots took over things, when there was still genuine spirit in the arts. But that’s another story…

Now, three albums into “Hickoids Version 2”, the long-awaited Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit has just hit the street. The Austin Chronicle observed, of Hickoids’ continuing adventures in music, that they’re “still as badass as ever”

The album starts out with a bang-up job on “Fruit Fly” a rowdy, beery, hazy rock, like a brick through a plate glass window. “TJ”, a “balls-to-the-wall blast” harkens back to the days of “version 1”, since, at least, the first bit of the tune was started back in the mid-late 1980s days, by singer/songwriter Jeff Smith, who was the primary songwriter back in the good old days; he’s also one of the links from the past to today’s Hickoids – the song was also written with Pepe Lopez of the Dallas-based Loco Gringos. The song keeps showing up in Hickoids live set list over the years and with that kind of practice, it’s finally been “put to bed” so to speak, sparking up the raw, pull-no-punches, kick-ass rocker that it is today.

Today’s Hickoids consists of the aforementioned singer, Jeff Smith, Tom “Tony” Truskovic on guitar, Davy Jones, also on guitar and vocals too, Rice Moorehead on bass and vocals and Lance “Slowpoke” Farley on Drums and percussion.

The music on Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit is made up of raw and gritty rock, some country-rockabilly hybrids and they add a bit of Tex-Mex spice here and there. Besides the opener, “Fruit Fly”, another real rocker is “Stop It, You’re Killing Me”, a guitar-heavy pistol that runs to just under seven minutes. “TJ” is a kind of mix of rock ‘n’ roll and country: Texas-style, that is. “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me” and “Cool Arrow” have more of a country vibe to it, but in a good way. What’s great about Hickoids is that they don’t sound dissonant or inconsistent by changing up their sounds, each tune is in just the right order and, fast or slow, they’re all smoking hot. In fact, some of the guitar licks are reminiscent of Greg Ginn’s pacing, sometimes frenetic grunge (Black Flag and SST Records founder Greg Ginn, I mean) and sometimes I’m reminded of the groovy pre-punk killer Stooges albums, like Funhouse, on which the jams just go on and on, seamlessly to the end. “The Working Man’s Friend” is a slowed down rocker, but don’t dare call it a ballad, because it isn’t close!

One thing that Hickoids have which a lot – or even most – bands who have the history they have, or even more, is that even though they’re in what one might call a “comeback” vein or, as was mentioned, “version two”, they still have “it”. They are not washed up dudes who used to be great and now are only going through the motions in order to have an income, they still have their hearts in it and, though their lineup has changed a little since they first formed back in 1984, their new stuff is damn interesting and I would LOVE to see them play live at a club – some dark, smoky place, where people are jumping up and down, the drinks are being poured and once they hit the stage, I can see these guys wanting to play on and on – up to or maybe past closing time. They really have that moxie in them.

Besides having one of the best album titles I’ve heard in a long, long time (Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit), the CD cover is done well too: a must-see. With the demise of just about all chain record stores, the only places you can go are independent record stores nowadays – but that’s because of the internet-based ways of buying, such as Amazon.com and similar sites, but there’s also Saustex’s site, which I’d recommend visiting – you can get it through that too. Their URL is: www.saustex.com. Definitely a delight and worth the wait! Check it out! -KM.

Rumba Rush


Lili Anel  CD cover
Lili Anel

I Can See Bliss From Here

Wall-I Records

Review by Kent Manthie

A new album’s worth of music is out now from Lili Anel, entitled I Can See Bliss From Here, a really smooth, jazz-based sound; one from which one can hear ‘bliss’.

On this new CD, Lili’s collaborated with Dale Melton on about 90% of the songs, as well as a variety of backup musicians on the various songs – i.e., there are different lineups on each song; not a totally different group on each tune, but a great variety of rosters.

The opening cut, “Climb the Wall” starts the CD out. It truly is a blissful earful – it has a great jazz backing band playing behind her beautiful, heartfelt alto voice. Besides the 60s-era jazz sound in it there is also a bit of hybrid mixed in: especially via the percussion, the song adds a bit of Cuban Rumba and her singing is a smooth, velvety overlay. Right from that song and onwards, throughout the album, her voice reminds me a little of the legendary Joan Armatrading, both singers have somewhat deep, strong, powerful voices that rise above the music without taking away from the sensation of it. Another fabulous song on here is “Blindsided”, a slow-ish tune that features a wonderful Hammond B3 organ that meanders throughout the song. “Living for Today” goes in a slightly different direction – instead of the sax & horns or the organ, much is made with a Latin rhythm and a jazzy acoustic guitar. “Got Me Thinking” slows things down a little, it’s a pure pleasure to listen to – it reminds me, as well as other songs on here, of Joni Mitchell’s legendary Blue. One other mention to make is another musician who is featured on many songs on I Can See Bliss From Here: drummer Charlie Patierno, who can really play those drums – besides keeping time, Charlie really takes off like a great jazz drummer would. As far as the aforementioned Hammond organ, as well as other keyboards – piano, “Wurli”piano and even picking up a Fender Telecaster guitar on one track (“This Love is Over”).

I Can See Bliss From Here contains 12 tracks on it, averaging about 4:30 per song, some a little longer, a couple a little less, but each cut just seamlessly goes into the next without any inconsistencies or sounds that don’t fit. Another tune worth pointing out is the quiet, but upbeat number, “Losing My Faith”, featuring the splendid piano stylings of Dale Melton, who, on the inside of the CD sleeve, is mentioned as a good friend and at whose studio, “The Sandbox”, I Can See Bliss From Here was recorded.

Born in New York City’s Spanish Harlem and raised also in the Bronx, Lili grew up in quite a diverse cultural melting pot of a city, which was a great driver of the sounds which has influenced her. In 2004 Ms. Anel moved to Philadelphia, where she was welcomed warmly by the local music scene; she was embraced with some Philly airplay as well as guest slots on NPR. In the time since, she started showing up in various places around the East Coast area, including Delaware, New Jersey and Lehigh Valley, PA.

The jazz & Latin rhythms of the music reflects not only the wide influences she picked up in NYC, but also from the fact that Lili comes from an African and Cuban hybrid heritage, which, musically, really does take a turn into a great combination that sizzles.

When she was getting started in her music training, she began by attending the Leonard Davis Center of Performing Arts, a part of the City University of New York, where she trained with legendary jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan for a year as a part of a one year workshop. The Performing Arts Center was a rigorous and stressful training program and besides the one year workshop in which she trained with Jordan, Anel stayed an additional year at the institute before taking a leave of absence from which she declined to return. Instead, she enrolled in Eddie Simon’s “Guitar Study Center”. This was quite an unusual experience: only able to afford the cost for about a year’s worth of training there, she was determined to continue on and she did, by “auditing” many classes, where she did indeed pick up a lot of abilities that were, no doubt, already innate but which brought them out in the open. Soon after, Lili was showing up to various “open mic” sessions at Greenwich Village clubs which eventually led to her being “discovered”, getting offered more and more gigs at clubs in the City, where she blossomed and at the same time, started putting together a backing band.

I Can See Bliss From Here is Ms. Anel’s sixth CD and it is an exciting, fresh sounding album. As the years go by, it seems that Lili is progressing more and more, not merely running in circles. It’s great when one comes across a singer/band who is continually progressing as time goes on and this is definitely the case with this album.

Any fan of jazz/Latin hybrid vocalized music should really get up and give I Can See Bliss From Here a listen. It is astounding how well synchronized the whole band is, including the singer. -KM.

new music: TRILINGUAL ep

Trails and Ways CD cover[New Music Review]

Trails and Ways Trilingual EP

Self-Released, 2013

Review by Kent Manthie

Oakland-based indie delights Trails and Ways have just released Trilingual, an EP that this Bay Area quartet recorded on their own, with no label support, in a collective “house”-cum-studio in Oak-town, called T. Rex Manor. The four of them, two guys and two gals, Keith Brower Brown, Emma Oppen, Hannah van Loon and Ian Quirk, have just put together five tracks that appear on this brand new EP, Trilingual, an aptly titled album for a band who mix together songs with lyrics in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

This whole project of Trails and Ways started after Keith and Emma, the vocalists, had graduated from UC Berkeley and then went abroad in their separate fashions. Keith traveled to Brazil to get a first hand working knowledge of the country’s renewable energy sector by getting “hands-on” experience. This noble endeavor is not atypical of the modern college graduate; many go to Europe or Asia or other parts of the globe and either do further studies or spend a year or so roaming around, seeing the world and “finding oneself”. Well, this is how Keith spent his time.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Emma Oppen went to Spain, where she indulged in something a bit different: she immersed herself in a quest for spiritual awakening, adventure and in search of good waves for surfing.

After this time living abroad, both came back to Oakland and crafted a v

ision for a sound of music that was a hybrid of all they had experienced and added some original stuff to it as well; Keith brought back a mind full of ideas that included bossanova and Brazilian Jazz; Emma brought back with her a concise, tightly woven songwriting craft that the two put together. The third element that was added was the addition of more familiar but nonetheless stunning and warm but sometimes rough and raw fringes of “basement-based” dream-pop.

When they’d returned to Oakland, the two hooked up with two more mates, classically-trained musicians, Ian Quirk and Hannah von Loon, both of whom h

ad been musical since their childhood. Ian has been an evolving,constantly practicing and learning percussionist who is now at ease with the drums, drum machines and various types of rhythm treatments. Von Loon, on the other hand, was raised as a child to play violin as well as piano – things she took up at the tender age of three. But it wasn’t until she was in high school that she really fell in love with what would become her passion: guitar. She did a great job in that area by learning the many-faceted grooves of the Beatles catalog.

The four of them have combined to create a fascinating, layered, textured, springy brand of what is indeed trilingual – their lyrics being in a fluid mix of the three aforementioned languages – the tongues of the countries the former two had been as well as their native English.

One of the tunes that stick out right away on Trilingual is “Nunca”,

a comfortable layering of equatorial splendors and American club beats and a mesmerizing fluidity of vocals, shared by both Keith and Emma. The first cut, “Como Te Va” has a little of the Cocteau Twins’ sound injected into it as well as a beginning that made me think of Stereolab, but not as high up in the clouds. On “Tereza” Emma sings with a breathless energy that is both plaintive and seductive.

With the travels Keith and Emma did, far and wide as well as the extensive musical accomplishment of Ian and Hannah, this EP has a special vibe to it, one that is not derivative or a knock off of 100 other bands you hear coming and going all the time on FM radio. It’s not edgy or raw, not too ethereal, but a swimmingly pop sunbath. I sure hope that more is heard from this quartet of unique individuals soon.

KM.