Category Archives: video

Doomsday – at least it’s fun to sing about

doomsdayHere we go again. A bunch of people are freaking out over another doomsday. I guess I shouldn’t make too much fun. Way back in the ’80s when I was a Baptist I got hyped up because some radio preacher or other had me convinced the end was nigh.

I remember how let down I was when I didn’t get raptured at the stroke of midnight at the church New Year’s Eve party. Luckily I never actually told anyone what I was thinking, so my embarrassment was minimal.

Since then I’ve lost count of the “doomsdays” that have come and gone. The Y2K scare was a big one, but there have been others. Since there are plenty of real and serious problems in the world, and since nothing lasts forever, I imagine the day will come – though I have a feeling we’ll go out with more of a whimper than a bang – but in the meantime I’ve got too much short term trouble to deal with to freak out over what New Agers or Mayans or TV preachers say.

One thing about it though… The idea of doomsday is a hell of an inspiration for musicians. Some of my favorite songs are end of the world songs. I don’t know if we’re supposed to disappear at midnight or if whatever it is takes place sometime during the day, but if you’re still here and our technology still works, check out some of these songs:

Daniel Knox – Armageddonsong


Jill Tracy – Doomsday Serenade

Michael Schenker Group – Cry for the Nations

The Handsome Family – When that Helicopter Comes

The Legendary Pink Dots – This Could Be the End

Chris Cornell – Preaching the End of the World

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The Sword makes ‘melt your face off’ metal

My relationship with heavy metal has been spotty over the years. I grew up on the stuff they started to call metal later on – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC and the like. Once the hair bands of the ’80s turned up I started to lose interest, getting more into grunge, postpunk and indie rock. And death metal with the cookie monster vocals has always turned me right off. But certain metal bands can still, as a friend of mine put it, melt my face off – in a good way. One of those is an Austin, Texas-based band called The Sword.

I discovered them at Fun Fun Fun Fest back in November. I saw several good bands – it was a frustrating night as several bands I really wanted to see were playing at the same time. Got to check out Peelander Z and Disappears again. Both of those rocked as expected. And I got to see Public Image Limited. That’s the legendary act that convinced me to go in the first place. Johnny Lydon (known to many as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) is overweight, but still kicks ass. My concert buddy Chris Kinney thought they sounded dated, but I still got into it. Maybe I’m dated.

But just as he promised, the top band of the night turned out to be The Sword. They had a ton of energy and reminded me of a somewhat sped-up  Black Sabbath. I wouldn’t know it because I don’t play D n D, but I was told a lot of their lyrics are based on Dungeons and Dragons scenarios. Per Wikipedia, they also get a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology and science fiction writers like George R.R. Martin. Whatever the source, they come across as bad ass. Lots of science fictiony, Frank Frazetta-looking videos to be seen on Youtube.

Is this badass or what?

And check out this cover of ZZ Top’s Cheap Sunglasses. Wish I’d been there to see this.

The band’s official website is SwordOfDoom.com. And check them out on Facebook.

Edit: I was just informed that the band actually has its own hot sauce that can melt your tongue off while their music melts your face off. Tears of Fire, was made to the band’s specifications by Tears of Joy hot sauces “banned in most galaxies” it is apparently incredibly hot. I’m afraid and tempted at the same time. If you dare, you can get it here.

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Experimental film music from My Education, Einsturzende Neubauten member

Einsturzende Neubauten is one of those groups I always put in the category of “respect more than enjoy.” (Also, I never could and probably never will pronounce their name correctly – I finally gave up and took to calling them “Ein” for short).

They were among the pioneers of industrial music – an aesthetic that takes what used to be considered just plain noise – and incorporates it into songs. I have gotten into some of their early stuff, but honestly it comes across as abrasive and hurts my ears after a while. One exception – an old school song that I always enjoyed is “Yu Gung” – very exciting stuff and catchy in its way.

Thanks to my friend Chris Kinney, I recently discovered that there is more to Einsterzende Naubauten than I new – especially recently. The group has left much of the abrasiveness behind and taken a much more melodic approach.

“Sabrina,” from their 2001 album Silence is Sexy, is a pretty good example.

A few weeks ago, I attended a showing of Glasshouse at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, an event co-hosted by The Church of the Friendly Ghost. Glasshouse was a silent film about Danielle de Picciotto’s last night in New York City in 1987.  Accompanying the film was an ensemble that included Ein member Alexander Hacke, Danielle de Picciotto (who gave a spoken word performance about her experience) and Algis Kizys (The Swans, Foetus).

It was on a Sunday night and I was a bit drowsy – I had already had a very busy weekend – so the music and scenes drifted in and out of my consciousness, very dreamlike. Some of the sounds were darkly beautiful, others more abrasive and strange. At times it was almost catchy.  All in all a very surreal experience.

I can’t find any video of the Glasshouse performance, but here’s an interesting collaboration between Hacke and de Picciotto.

My Education

My Eduction from Psych Fest 4 (where I could’ve seen them, but for some reason didn’t)

As interesting as the main act was, I was most impressed by the live opening act, an Austin-based ensemble called My Education. Chris liked them so much, he bought several of their albums. I will probably buy a couple of them myself.

The group consisted of drums, piano, bass, guitar, slide guitar and violin. They performed a beautiful, flowing postrock that reminded me a lot of another Austin group, Explosions in the Sky.

The music really went well with the trippy video. They make excellent movie soundtrack music. In fact, they wrote a score for the 1927 German expressionist film Sunrise. You can watch the movie and hear them perform live at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar in Austin on Sunday, Sept. 9.

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The dark side of social media: brilliant video for Knife Party’s ‘Internet Friends’

Filmmaker Thomas Kanschat’s new video for Knife Party’s “Internet Friends” takes a clever (and violent) swipe at social media.

I’ve been planning to talk about filmmaker Thomas Kanschat’s videos for quite some time now. Once I found his latest, I can’t wait any more. I was already impressed by his unofficial videos for the Mr. Bungle songs “Pink Cigarette” and “Retrovertigo.” Both were violent and disturbing, yet inspired, creative and full of sick, twisted humor.

Now he comes out with this horrific gem, an unofficial video for “Internet Friends” by Knife Party. I’m not really into dubstep, but this is so brilliant, I can’t resist it. To describe it without giving too much away… It starts out with the story of someone who is the victim of an Internet stalker, but it becomes so much more – a satire about the dark side of social media. (Knife Party loved the video, btw, saying it was much better than the one they commissioned, then rejected.)

I am highly impressed with Kanschat’s filmmaking skills – he reminds me of Chris Cunningham (the guy who did those disturbing videos for Aphex Twin). He is looking for musicians to collaborate with and I think he has the potential to make a hell of a horror movie.

And before you watch it: It’s really violent. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I think I’m almost as impressed with Kanschat’s timing as I am with the video itself. To publish a video  about the rise and fall of Facebook just as the company had its overly-hyped IPO was a stroke of marketing genius. I bet the video goes viral any day now.

I also remain highly impressed with his video for “Pink Cigarette” by Mr. Bungle.

Check out Kanschat’s Vimeo channel. And his Youtube channel. Lots of video creepiness to be seen.

Be sure to follow TKANFILM on Twitter. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

I would love to see him make more videos for some of my favorite bands and I hope he gets some serious filmmaking work.

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Happy 420 Day: legalize it or not, musicians are probably still going to advertise it

Still a couple hours left to 420 Day, the unofficial day in March when all pot smokers make an effort to light up on the same day. I’m not one of those – the one and only time I tried the stuff I did too much at once and got sick as a dog. Never again.

At the same time, I’ve had a lot of friends who do smoke and being a music lover I can’t help but notice that Weed is a rather huge influence on many of my favorite artists. I also happen to think the War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster, giving us nothing but powerful gangsters, corrupt officials and highly militarized police. And in Mexico a lot of chopped off heads.

Time to face facts and legalize it. All drugs really, but especially marijuana, even though I’ll never take another puff. This article in Forbes sums up my thoughts on the matter pretty well: Let’s Be Blunt: It’s Time to End the Drug War. Will we ever have leaders with enough honesty and courage to actually do what obviously needs to be done? Not optimistic, but one can always hope.

In the meantime, might as well appreciate some of the great songs we never would’ve had without marijuana. At some point, I’ll go whole hog and list a ton of songs about drugs, pro and con. There are so many.

First on the list has got to be Winning the War on Drugs by my recently disbanded favorite live act, the Asylum Street Spankers of Austin. They captured the cynicism of that particular war pretty well.

Followed by the very obvious and to-the-point Legalize it by the late Peter Tosh.

Plus a few more favorites…

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Repeater – best take on gothic postpunk I’ve heard in a long time


Last night I was listening to a Pandora station based on ’80s postpunk band The Chameleons, when suddenly a song jumped out at me: “A Second Home,” by Repeater. I thought, wow, postpunk is my thing. How could I miss an awesome band like this?

I looked them up and found that they are in fact a current band from Long Beach, California, and everything I played by them I absolutely loved. They sound like a combination of Chameleons, Joy Division, Comsat Angels, maybe a bit of early U2. The singer has a bit of a rough voice which is very expressive. Themes tend to be rather dark, even goth. Right in that postpunk sweet spot that I cannot resist.

I have already purchased mp3 downloads from their 2008 album Iron Flowers and their 2011 album We Walk from Safety (which would’ve been a very good candidate for my best of 2011 list if I had found it in time). I have also found some impressive videos for their songs.

This one gives me the willies:

I think they’re doing what Interpol tried to do, but the songcraft seems much stronger. Interpol got old after a while, as I began to sense that they had a vibe and not much else. I think Repeater will be on repeat in my stereo for a long time to come.

Visit their website and check them out on Facebook.

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Before you point a finger, remember ‘Everything is a Remix’


When I was a teenager, I read a story by Orson Scott Card that made a big impression on me. “Unaccompanied Sonata” tells the story of a young prodigy in a future society where talented musicians are isolated and forbidden from listening to the music of others, to prevent their work from becoming derivative.

I don’t want to give too much away, but he rebels, listening to a beautiful piece by Bach. He is forbidden from making music. He does it anyway and is repeatedly punished in horrible ways that ultimately make it impossible for him to make music again. In the end, he becomes part of the very establishment that tormented him so.

I thought of that story when I discovered Everything Is a Remix, a blog about the video series by the same name by New York filmmaker Kirby Ferguson (the one who produced this video about Protect IP, mentioned previously on my blog). The first three videos in the series have been produced and a fourth one is on the way. They can be found on Ferguson’s Vimeo channel as well as Youtube and I recommend them highly. They are fascinating.

The video series points out – very effectively – that very little if any of the entertainment we enjoy is truly “original.” Everything borrows from something else. Movies, music, ideas. And that’s not a bad thing. Bits and pieces of art can recombine and become fresh and new again. I love the old blues music Led Zeppelin ripped off, but I also love Led Zeppelin, can’t imagine what my teenage years would’ve been like without them. Amazing powerful stuff. And much of it purloined.

Same thing with hip hop. That used to be one of my complaints about hip hop before I learned to enjoy it: “It’s just someone talking over someone else’s song.” Sometimes that’s all it is, but in the hands of someone creative, it becomes something much more.

Anybody remember the outlaw album DJ Danger Mouse put out in 2004? He took Jay-Z’s Black Album and mixed it with songs from the Beatles’ White Album, to create The Grey Album. Modern, streetwise rap music, mixed with some of the most beloved classic rock there is. It took off like gangbusters. The studios’ reaction to that very pirate project was predictable. EMI tried like hell to get it off the Internet, even though Paul McCartney and Jay-Z were fine with it, but there was no stopping it. The album went viral and was a very hot topic in the music press for a while.

Something else that will freak you out… Sometime watch Zero Hour, a movie about a plane trip that goes awry when the crew gets sick and a passenger – a washed up, nervous ex-pilot – has to take the controls. Sound familiar? That’s because they borrowed the same exact plot for the comedy Airplane!

Watch the Everything Is a Remix for plenty of other examples. Here is the first installment:

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

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