An Open FUCK YOU to American Apparel

I never felt great about supporting you American Apparel. Let’s face it, you’ve had a storied history with a creepy founder who sexually harassed  women employees and trouble with allowing unionization in your so-called textile worker friendly business. But, I’m not going to lie. I loved your clothes. They were soft, and cut nice and had great colors. I own over 30 shirts produced by your brand. I’ve bought three “Legalize Gay” shirts. I touted you guys to friends, and got others hooked. It was the kind of word of mouth promotion that corporations love; free, personal endorsements. I moved product and converted others because, despite some questionable practices, I was happy to spend good money on quality clothing that was also made in the United States.

from her website http://www.fattyd.com (NSFW)

But you’ve slipped some bullshit by me. In 2010, adult film star and beautiful goddess April Flores (note, this link is NSFW) approached your company about a line of clothing for bigger ladies. You wonderfully blew her off stating, in paraphrase, that your company wasn’t interested in catering to that market. Honestly, if I had known that then, I would have walked on it. I was probably too busy watching Flores reclaim the definition of beauty and disrupting the hetero-normative, male centric, white, straight sexual paradigm with fury, vengeance and beauty. The fact that you couldn’t get on board with such an amazing artist, activist and feminist is appalling, especially since you have never shied away from the adult industry before. After all, your adds mimic softcore pornography and you embraced Sasha Grey at the height of her adult film career to sell socks. I admire the shit out of Sasha Grey, too. And I thought that was a bold move on your part, to sell sex with such an articulate, challenging actress. The dynamic was awesome and powerful. But I wonder what she thinks of you snubbing Flores because she doesn’t fit in to your companies ideal of what beauty is. And just so we are clear, American Apparel, April Flores is stunning. She has a charm, personality and playfulness about her being that makes the pale, pasty, kids you normally depict looking starved and fucked up even more pathetic.

It seems the backlash you all received for this triggered change. I was very, very happy about this. You decided to introduce plus sizes for women into your catalog, creating cuts for more body types. This is was actually awesome news. A company, that is fashionable and functional, finally embracing the broad spectrum of what beauty is. And then, you kinda mis-stepped.  And honestly, when I heard about your campaign to find the next American Apparel model to sell your plus sizes, I gave you another pass. You utilized poor language in looking for “the next BIG thing”. It was insensitive word play. That should be pretty obvious by now. But you know what, not the worst thing you could have done. Language is tricky and word play can get you in trouble sometimes. It was dumb, clearly it was dumb.

Enter Nancy Upton. This awesome, 24-year-old Texas lady wasn’t to psyched on your ad campaign and talent search. So she decided to make a statement, entering the contest, posting in provocative(and often very beautiful) shots that included food. Not healthy food that we should all indulge in, but the kind of fat, gross, high calorie, low healthy nonsense us American’s shovel down with rapidity. Upton wanted to make a statement and she did. She also won your contest. Which honestly isn’t a surprise. I voted for her myself, because I felt like she created the kind of open and honest dialog this country needs when it talks about health, and body image, especially where women are concerned, and beauty. I also thought utilizing your platform, in contrast with your linguistic blunders was totally appropriate.

Up to this point, you and I were still cool American Apparel. It seemed like you were gonna take your lick with grace. I realized that obviously, Upton wouldn’t be your model and I didn’t even expect you to open a positive dialog with her about the project, your future ad campaigns or any of these issues. That wouldn’t have bothered me either. Upton’s activism was enough in my opinion to at least create some kind of public discourse. I wish the story of Flores had flourished a year ago like this one, because as much as I admire Upton, I think additional factors made the Flores debacle less succulent for blogs and press outside of queer porn bloggers and the adult industry. People didn’t want to touch it because it’s hard for the public to believe that a woman of Flores’s stature could be a porn star. Oh and also, porn is still taboo in this fucked up culture.

So why did your creative director Iris Alonzo have to write that open letter to Nancy Upton? I realize since then that you have reached out to Nancy and are making a modest, if less than humble attempt, to meet with her and continue this discussion. But seriously, I just can’t take the bullshit in this letter from you. It’s more corporate double speak trying so hard to evade responsibility for being stupid. And you’re not even fucking BP or Coca Cola or one of the other millions of shitty, unethical, violent, corrupt companies that exist. You aren’t perfect as an organization and a participant in capitalism, but you are so much better than this letter. So much better. You could have humbly taken the shot, recognized your mistakes, reached out to Upton and the public and your loyal customers and maybe even increased the dialog. You had an opportunity to make the real changes in the industry this letter states you desire to do, and instead you acted like an insulted politician and lashed out. And that was it for me.

Whatever becomes of this campaign, this debacle with Upton and the rest of your company no longer concerns me. I can no longer, in good conscience continue buying your products, recommending your company or associating myself with you any further. I’m not happy about this at all, either. But if you refuse to take corporate responsibility and be humbled by negative reactions from the public when they have a fucking point, then you are no better than your competitors and the other mongrels that are only concerned about profit margins. I will not use your products in my personal life, for any band or creative project or extol the softness and warm feeling I once received from putting on an American Apparel shirt nearly every day of my life. It’s over between us American Apparel.

Sincerely,

Erik Gamlem

Please Note: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of  the other writers or staff here at Error Vizion. This opinion piece was written by Erik Gamlem without prior consultation with the other members of Error Vizion. If you have some hate you want to rock, direct it at him. He’s a big boy, both literally and figuratively, he can take it.

The Problem with Being A Fan

I’m supposed to be reading The Secret Agent by Sir Robert Conrad. This book is about a supposed anarchist-cum-terrorist who botches his targeted explosion because he gives his bomb to his autistic brother-in-law who kills himself, possibly to save others, a theme I have yet to read about anywhere else. And I know you’re thinking this can’t possibly be relevant to the image to your left here and what could an early 20th Century Novel not really about politics, anarchism or terrorism have to do with The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and why are you even writing about THAT album, but it’s important.

In 1991 I entered High School in the Northern Virginia Suburb of Herndon. That summer, thanks in part to Perry Ferrell, I discovered Black Flag and turned down a long and dangerous path of punk rock idiocy. Three weeks after I entered into the most terrifying institution I could imagine, my favorite band The Red Hot Chili Peppers, released the epic (and I do mean epic) album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Not until 1993, when Fugazi released In On the Kill Taker did I really consider any other albums. Oh sure I was introduced to King Missile, The Dead Milkmen, Blur, The Butthole Surfers and a plethora of other awesome and weird bands, but nothing held my attention like Blood Sugar Sex Magik. When John quit the band in May of 1992, right around my 15th birthday, I was devastated. That single act on his part is still, to this day, unforgivable to me. A person with that much natural talent should have the damn decency to keep his shit together and realize he was in the most magical band that ever walked the planet. The point of this is that Blood Sugar Sex Magik came at a pivotal part of my life and largely got me through a lot of odd times. I shed old friends and gained new ones, found there is a pecking order and hierarchy in life and it’s bullshit and marginalizes everyone,  and that any descent from the norm is treason. You can call this band mediocre and radio rock and bullshit, and to some extent I will agree with you, but these tattooed, free wheeling, hyper-sexualized, physically sexy and utterly talented four men were all I aspired to be. Some of that is true even today.

Currently, I am living in a new state, at 34, totally unemployed and thus unencumbered by adulthood and once again finding myself inside the halls of institutionalized learning. There are differences of course. I know a lot more now and I am a lot more confident at 34 then I was at 14 and I have a clearer, more detailed view in how the world works. Largely my suspicions of my youth have been confirmed. But, I’m still anxious as hell, feel out-of-place and wonder if this is all just one big joke being played on me. And somehow, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still there for me. And it’s partly the same, and partly different. I did drive to school this morning, I’m With You emitting from my speakers as the cloud of slumber slowly relinquished from my head. The spirit of the music I loved 20 years ago is still there, somewhat, and it helped me to be a bit more confident and sure of myself. Chad Smith’s steady, solid drumming is like the foundation of each step I take (even hindered by crutches), putting the world beneath my feet. Anthony Keidis’s imperfect voice and vocals are childlike and playful (most of the time) and makes my heart sing. And what can be said of the flowing, freaky bass lines of Flea. They enter a sphere all of their own, giving me swagger and sway. It’s so familiar to me, like an extension of myself. But obviously all is not the same.

I am a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I refused to endure the negative when One Hot Minute came out (the album is horrible, by any standards) and embraced it fully. I still accept that bastard step child. I lived through the jockish Californication which was the return of John and somewhat of a return to form. I celebrated and loved the mostly amazing By The Way  and am angry to think that Flea almost quit because he felt understated on this record (I won’t forgive him for that either). I even braved the sloppy, useless double album Stadium Arcadium seeing the band for only the second time on that tour. That concert by the way, even amongst 25k other people from 100 yards away from the stage played directly into my heart. Seeing John Frusciante even from that distance is one of the singular most important moments of my life. Other people celebrate their marriages or the mediocre, redundant births of their idiotic and unentertaining children. For me, it was seeing a rock god tear apart every aspect of my being in what was essentially a concrete bunker. There is nothing magical about the “wonders of childbirth” and nothing remotely important about “the unity of family”. I love my parents, they did amazing and great things for me. But John Frusciante bending steel against wood and smashing his finger tips on that fret board were all I needed to sustain me for the rest of my life. Pathetic, I am sure. But my values clearly differ from those of the rest of so-called “normal society” so if you are offended, good. I don’t like you any way.

The problem with being a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan is having to defend this band. They have drifted their feet into the wadding pool of mediocrity. After Stadium Arcadium I can’t even blame or be mad at John for leaving the band. I would have left while that monstrous disaster was in process. But even still, I don’t care. I can’t really defend most of their career, their actions or their behavior. I have been a fan of this band since I was 11 years old. They lip synced “Me and My Friends” on a TV show that was shot at Paradise Bowling. Dead Kennedy’s DH Peligro played drums and it might have been John’s first appearance with the band in public. All I remember was they had tattoo’s, mohawks and wore dresses and it was the most amazing moment of my life up to that point. There was clearly a marked difference in my appearance and attitude at that point. So, seriously, how can I objectively defend this band when they are so central to who I am now. I submit this, to you dear reader, the following. All of us start out star struck. No one comes from a singular point of DIY ethics and coolness. We’re dorks before we’re hipster dorks, running around in ill-fitting jeans and stupid Keds shoes. And we don’t get to pick the moment that alters our state of consciousness into an awakened state. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, for better or worse, did that for me. And as far as I am concerned, it was for the better.

So here I am, almost 25 years into my love affair with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a new album and another new guitar player at the helm. What do we do with this? How do we even feel about this? Is the three days I’ve spent, relentlessly listening to this album even enough time to unpack everything and anything about this? Is it even fair to my love of this band or the love I still feel from them. Because I do feel like they care. As soft as they may have gotten, nothing about the relationship between Flea and Anthony indicates anything but love. It’s an abusive, fucked up relationship (if you haven’t read Scar Tissue you should. I mean it breaks down like this I grew up. I did Heroin. I got clean. I did heroin. Someone Died. I got clean. I did Heroin. and so on and so on. But it’s still telling) but it’s a relationship of great love. And I still feel that love when I hear this band. Yes, they wrote “Sir Psycho Sexy” which is totally sexist and borderline appalling. But if you can listen to “Lovely Man” and not get choked up then your soul is more black and cold and empty than mine.

Photo By Clara Balzary (Flea's now adult daughter)

Where to begin (is it even worth it) with I’m With You, their first new offering in five years? Well, “Monarchy of Roses” and “Brendan’s Death Song” are some of the best songs that this band has ever written and “Dance, Dance, Dance” while not perfect is the strongest closer on any Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album in their nearly 30 year career. And while I suspected that they would lean on Josh Klinghoffer, who is younger than I am, to reignite this band, instead Flea once again takes center stage as the principle, a role he hasn’t really had since Mother’s Milk. This is partly problematic, because as a bass player, there is no one better (except for Mike Watt, whom Blood Sugar Sex Magik was dedicated to). Seriously. But he’s not the strongest song writer. Here is where John’s talents, not just a great guitarist, but as a great arranger and song writer are missing. Josh is a natural fit for the sound and the feeling he imprints is seamless, even though he is quite a different musician than John. But the songs are meandering, lacking focus and punch. After the fourth song, the slow but solid “Ethiopia” I’m With You loses it’s footing. There are some great, funky, hard-hitting parts, some even reminiscent to some of the best and earliest work, like the bridge on “Look Around”. This smooth, sinister break could have easily fit perfectly on Freaky Styley and it makes my heart warm. But even lead single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” starts off strong, funky and beautiful and diverts into something radio friendly and less fresh. The lyrics, as I am reading now, just make me want to cry, because they are cringe worthy. The song never gets off the ground, feeling older than I think even Josh should have allowed.

Other moments of music are sweet and sugary. Josh, much like his predecessor (and some would argue mentor) John has an innocence in his approach to the guitar, which is so necessary for a virtuoso. Further, his vocals, whether a part of the background offering support, or giving a punch to a song (such as on “Did I Let You Know”) are just stunning and beautiful. It’s could be suspected that John foresaw his second departure  sooner than he let on and groomed Josh to take his place. This is a service I think that both the Chili Peppers and their fans should be thankful for. For Josh does interject that much-needed young blood at such necessary points on this new album, making at least a worthy if wobbly entry into the canon.

What I think this album could have used was some more new blood. Because more than anything, I think Rick Rubin is mostly at fault here. It’s true, I believe at the time of Blood Sugar Sex Magik he was the perfect spirit to inject this band with some far out shit while simultaneously holding on to the reigns. But Rubin has just become another icon of the dinosaur music industry he once brought to its knees with the likes of Slayer and LL Cool J. And I think his inattentiveness to this project (and just about everything else he’s worked on in the last ten years) is beyond apparent. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are soulful, talented and amazing. But they lack focus, clearly, and this is where the role of the producer is so important in rock. Without John’s strong sense of arrangement, the Red Hot Chili Peppers suffer from their own abstract nature, now allowed to wander around their own landscape, without actually taking a good hard look at the aesthetics of their garden.

I’m not sure if, ultimately the problem is me or them. After all, when Blood Sugar Sex Magik came out, I didn’t even read record reviews, let alone obsess for  thousands of words in print about albums. My love for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was pure and unencumbered with many confusing years about ethics in music production, DIY attitudes and fuck all punk rock. Even at the height of my punk rock posturing, I made room for the Peppers, unforgivingly so. But at a certain point, love stopped being enough and I wanted more. Granted, there is more on I’m With You that touches my heart then anything they’ve done since By The Way, which is nearly ten years old already. But I still feel distanced, if only slightly. But is it my over critical, sarcastic, pessimism that created that small scratch? Or am I being too forgiving? I’m sure almost everyone who reads this would say so. After all this is The Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of the most popular, recognized bands on the entire planet. To many, they define what is wrong with major labels and the music industry. People find them overplayed, mediocre and bland. And maybe my love blinds me from this slightly. But they mean so much to me. I trace my personal history, not just in terms of my musical aesthetics, but my own personal identity back to that moment when I saw them as a youth, because that was when my awareness for all things occurred.

There is ultimately no solution to this for a die-hard fan. They are my first, one and true great love. I am a dedicated fan, through the good and the bad, no matter what fetid garbage the naysayers hurl at me. I will stand by this band until the end (which to you probably seems like it will never happen) believing that nothing better can ever happen to a person than this music. Which, rationally, I know is not the case. But just don’t argue with me. I don’t want the bubble to burst.

Fordists – Watch You

The Fordists
Watch You
Amor Y Lucha

Washington DC is a city of spooks. Around every god damn corner you will find some twisted looking bastard, with tightly pursed lips and a terror in their eyes and you know that idiotic motherfucker works for one of the eight billion fucking “intelligence” agencies that our ever paranoid government has set up and funded at your expense over the last ten years. They are so prevalent and terrifying, one can only come to the conclusion that these paranoid, uptight bastards are being bread. And that is actually true now. Thousands of new buildings have sprung up around our nations once beautiful capital to house and employ literally millions of people who bought into the bullshit taught to them in high school and college in an effort to spy on our neighbors, countries abroad and you and I. Massive amounts of data is collected daily and haphazardly analyzed by people not intelligent enough to drive a car 10 miles without getting in a deathly accident in a failing effort to protect us. Washington D.C. is a scary place.

With this back drop of suburban sprawl, scary parents, and total spy warfare going on, it’s not really a wonder that The Fordists exist. This trio of young lad’s are clearly paranoid. No, this isn’t the spazzed out, hardcore inspired music of Washington DC in the 1990’s. The Fordists are far too angular and calculating for such unabashed destruction. And this attention to detail works in their favor, making the best, post-rock spy music one has ever heard.

Drenched in flavors of the best parts of a post-punk apocalypse, The Fordists make a new sound. It’s rooted in familiar territory, but it’s so fresh and scary. The pounding, distorted bass is the sound of a hammer of hands pounding on your skull. The guitars weave this cutting pattern of steel threads through your brain, each point felt, the small streams of blood accumulating at your feet. The drums placed well in the mix, hit with precision but tend to be at their own pace and speed, regardless of the paranoid musing of the rest of the band. It’s all quite terrifying, especially when one considers this band isn’t trying to overload you with power and noise and volume. Things are by no means pretty, but those images of steel beams being erected in place of trees along the Potomac river make you feel like maybe nature is growing those buildings. That is the sound of Fordists.

Listening to music that feeds your own paranoia, reminding you of Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and 1984  is probably not that great for your health, but that doesn’t fail to make The Fordists one of the most interesting bands to come out of Washington DC. The lineage is there, and that makes me miss my former home a bit, but like so many other great bands, they take that legacy and put a unique, new and in this case down right nightmarish twist into the whole thing. Anthropologically, The Fordists makes sense in this day and age. These three young men came of age in a time of terror, that was talked about in the riddles of racism, hatred and persecution. Meanwhile, the landscape of their childhood was torn apart by awesome machines and the hands of men redirected their sight lines to massive edifices of concrete and glass. That DC’s youth didn’t pull some kind of crazy, utopian suicide pack ala Suicide Club is a god damn miracle. Instead, The Fordists display the fear and hope people can feel simultaneously and created something truly interesting.

Identity Crisis: (not so?) Briefly On Kreayshawn

Erik, no one cares about Kreayshawn anymore. She blew up like two months ago and you are just getting around to talking about her and we’re already on to the next thing that you have not been paying attention to. So, why for the love of god, you fat, old man, with your Raw Nerve 7″s and your Lungfish reissues (that consequently the kids also don’t care about) are you bringing this up now? Denman already dropped science about this Oakland rapper lady back in May. What is it that you could possibly want to add to this conversation?

All valid statements from the peanut gallery that is raging inside my head as I type this. But see, I can’t stop thinking about Kreayshawn. The infectious flow and beat of “Gucci Gucci” is out of control; delivered by this five foot three, petite young woman, with hoop earrings you could drive a Plymouth through, and hair that looks like it was made in a factory by the nimble hands of child laborers in Kuala Lumpur, rather than put together at a beauty salon. But Kreayshawn, like a lot of young hip hop artists bothers me. There is a lack of authenticity that I don’t seem to be the only one bothered by, but there is also this new, harsher use of language by today’s youth that I just don’t understand.

First and foremost, Kreayshawn is not the first midget white lady to drop some mad science. I am shocked at how much the internet seems to forget with its long line of information available but it’s utterly short attention span. Back in 2005, the internet, by way of Great Brittain gave us Lady Sovereign, who wreaked havoc on the world, got signed by Jay-Z, made some amazing singles and then seemed to fade out. The question of authenticity was raised then, but Lady Sovereign’s witty, grime delivered rhymes included her own self deprecation and silly appreciation, often in the same breath was fun. Not being a grand follower of Grime or understanding British Hip-Hop which is probably much more complicated than the US Hip-Hop scene, I can’t say with any authority that the SOV was not authentic. But nothing felt forced. Clearly, Lady S was not trying too hard, and yet it was still fun to listen to.

So the first thing that bothers me about Big K here is the name itself. Kreayshawn sounds like one of those made up names consisting of two or more names that you’ve actually heard. And while this may sound terrible, my experience in corporate America has taught me that such practices are fairly common among mothers and fathers in African-American families. None of my middle class white friends have kids whose names have hyphens in them is the point I’m trying to get. I’m not bagging on the practice, in fact, I think it’s cool. How many more god damn Sarah’s and Laura’s and Kelly’s do I need to know in my life? But Kreayshawn was not named Kreayshawn at birth and her parents clearly are not of the community in which one finds this to be acceptable by their peer. It would be awesome if they were, but they named her Natassia Gail Zolot, which is already unusual enough. It’s been suggested that Natassia’s stage name is the bastardization of Creation, and if so, it’s not a very good one. Natassia is exotic and interesting enough there pipsqueak. There is nothing authentic in this whatsoever. It’s the adaptation of, rather than the reinvention of a theme that does not fit the personality. At all.

The search for authenticity continues in the “Gucci Gucci” video as pointed out far more poignantly by others. Kreayshawn is supposedly a part of the The White Girl Mob, but this video lacks any kind of mob of white kids, let alone white girls. Or girls, or bitches as she loves to refer to women as (we’ll get to this). The video is a mob of young, black men, the industry standard for the supposed audience of hip-hop. Even though white boys, from small cities are generally the one’s coping  hip-hops worst en mass. I’m glad she’s claiming love for other little teeny girl white shorties, I guess(?). But I don’t see it, here, in your break through video/song, Kreayshawn. What I see is you, a token entry into a community that I see no connection to. The kids aren’t decked out in the ridiculous uniforms, the black teen boys you surround yourself with, are pretty much in the same clothes that kids have worn for years. You seem out of touch, not down to earth at all. And is it just me, or does this feel like Kreayshawn is the masters wife out in the field? It’s not a delicate image to have transmitted at you and I can’t think of any equally poetic or polite way to point that out. But she’s decked out, obviously not in Gucci or Prada or whatever she’s allegedly railing against, but definitely her fashion sets her not just apart, but above the black, male youth she is exploiting for authenticity.

Finally, and only because the internet works so fast, I can’t help but wonder what the end game is for her. Nothing about the image feels authentic or looks authentic. It might not be as far-stretching as Lady Gaga, the current queen of visual manipulation (yet), but it seems like an act. A ride down her tumblr account recently shows a much more subtle, plane Kreayshawn. Further, recent news indicates that she is now the mastermind behind the soon to be released new music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is a band I love, but I am a 34-year-old white male whose sensibilities were produced in the 90’s. I love them, but they are the bloated, outdated rock stars that hip-hop is supposed to be railing against, not embracing them. This seems highly careerist of her with the benefits more to RHCP gaining youth market validity while she just looks like she grasping.

I’m old, I get it. I’m continually reminded of this  with the continuation of Glee, The Bear and The Bunny and Ke$ha’s continued career that was not laughed out of the executive office of a so-called major label recording company. I am not a target audience for anyone, anymore. The times in which media dabbled in Death Metal and Punk Rock seem to be over, having co-opted what they wanted from it and filtering it out of public awareness. Kreayshawn, despite her so-called swagger and anti-feminist front is a safe bet. In fact, it’s this lack of authenticity that makes it perfectly reasonable to assume she will succeed where Lady Sovereign failed. She is non-threatening, if ridiculous looking. But me, I don’t get why it’s so intoxicating now.

Lungfish – Unanimous Hour Reissue

Lungfish
Unanimous Hour
Dischord Records

If it comes as any surprise to you at this point, that I am now, and have always been a Lungfish worshiper, then clearly you are not one of those people who has followed me from blog to blog as I spread the gospel anytime said band, or any of their members does anything. This is a mistake on your part. As our time on this planet slowly passes around the sun, hurling in the spiral of a galaxy the rockets through the universe, the legend of Lungfish grows, the devotees numbers increase, and thus the religious experience deepens. Lungfish are not one of those bands that would cash in on this new-found audience or attempt to relive past glories. Nor are they interested in explaining the mystique or mystery. Like their Down City brethren in Fugazi, the Baltimore quartet is content to exist in the riddle. Will they or won’t they isn’t so much the question, for their body of work speaks in tongues unlike any heard before them. It is the majestic that propels the legend forward.

It helps that Dischord records is in a state of true archiving now. The mission of the label was always to capture a scene and a moment and as the founders find themselves actually fathering children and shifting from the present scene to the legacy they were a part of, attention is being paid to the back catalog and the archives left by giants. Last year the label reissued Pass and Stow, an album that sat squarely at the epicenter of the Lungfish output in what is thought to be the reissue of the entire catalog. It was met with gratitude by fans of the band. Most of us devour the bands entire 11 album catalog, but the added attention to the details sometimes buried by inadequate technology created a more lush and burning Lungfish then we had ever heard before.

The trend continues now with the reissue of Unanimous Hour. Here, we find a Lungfish at the top of their game and at their most experimental. Preceded by the stark Artificial Horizons,  an album that was so saturated in heavy guitar and repetition, Lungfish challenge the notions that they are a one trick pony on Unanimous Hour. Sure, you get the drone heavy trudgers here like “Mated” or album opener “Space Orgy”. But here, on Unanimous Hour, Lungfish once again turn the dial and show you something completely new.

The reverberating “God’s Will”, which includes Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye doing one of his best vocal performances, is a repetitious ballad to a higher power. This of course is the first hint at Higgs’s devotion to something greater that the public is just recently beginning to get more insight into. The song is soft and delicate and radiates out with a swirling guitar note that seems to burst and bloom from the center of the song. On “Metatron” the band mostly drops out for a near A cappella performance by singer and lyricist Daniel Higgs. This is a spooky, nearly neo-folk performance accompanied more by sound scape than actual song, though a simple acoustic guitar can be found nearly buried in the background.

The real treat of this album, and one that is done kindly by the new remixing and remastering treatment is epic album closer “Hallucinatorium”. This 7:52 second ditty swings along quiet and slowly like a brutal lullaby, the band seemingly tempering themselves. It was also somewhat recently revealed in a review by DC’s Aaron Leitko this songs interesting history. The even slower, weirder second half is the result of a trick employed by producer Ian Mackaye to fit the lyrical output of the prolific and esoteric Higgs. The song is haunting as it is slowed to a crawl. The guitar strings feel pulled at with great effort. The bass and drums feel doused in pseudoephedrine and Higgs drags out his words, the trademark bark forming, but never exploding from the back of his throat.

Unanimous Hour always seemed light and soft and remained understated in the bands canon, at least it did for me. Considering too this was the album that was released around the time that I discovered the band, it’s rather amusing to me that today, it stands out as such a different album. If you had asked me which album should be reworked and released first, Unanimous Hour would not have originally been my first choice, but as it follows Pass and Stow on this great reworking project, I am glad to find things in this album that I once missed out on. The record industry, from large corporate conglomerates to epic indies are all feeling the pinch, and so often these reissues feel like cash cows. But Dischord, always with grace isn’t attempting to bring back old fans, but instead to make available it’s catalog at the highest quality sound. Of course there is no other band on the planet that I want more of, the legend of their vaults is almost as epic as the band themself, but Dischord choses instead to offer the albums as they have always stood, relying not on gimmicks and the promise of low rent b-sides, but the actual power of the albums as they were recorded, imagined, conceived and presented. The higher quality mastering makes for a much deeper sonic experience which comes from a desire to capture the best of the bands as times change. Unanimous Hour is a needed record, as all Lungfish albums are, but it’s one whose new treatment exemplifies all that Lungfish created.

Death Grips – Ex Military Mix Tape

I told Denman, the high priest of Error Vizion, I was gonna write another long tome on Blue Crush 2 this week. But here’s the thing, for someone unemployed, I have a lot going on. I am failing at designing t-shirts and screening them (Hi Mike Dwyer! I haven’t forgotten about you), I’m playing a bunch of music, I’m working on becoming a professional shopper/fashion advisor for ladies (even though I look like a Norwegian troll), dealing with being unemployed, delivering newspapers every other day, publishing books, having existential crisi (is that how you pluralize crisis?), and buying guitars I can’t afford. Shit is getting real in Albuquerque. As such, I just didn’t have the time or energy to deconstruct the worst film ever made this week. I am not sure when I am going to have time to deconstruct said film either or do any of the other massive posts you’ve grown accustomed too. It’s gonna be a few weeks. I know, relief hath come to thy readers of Error Vizion.

However, the fruit of all this work came in the form of Death Grips. I was delivering papers with my friend Nolan, who delivers papers for his part-time job, and he played this mixtape,  Ex Military for me while we delivered the news. While chock full of recognizable samples from Link Wray, The Beastie Boys, Black Flag, Jane’s Addiction and Charlie Manson, This shit is off the hook. It’s dangerous, full of energy and totally raw. Hip Hop over the last few years has failed to impress me but Death Grips makes me want to start a ruckus up in this motherfucker.

I don’t know anything about Death Grips, except that the website they have is full of awesome audio/visual stimulation and you can get into the crunky, cranky, skunky music that will make you want to slam any small child or person into the hood of one of those eco-cars and punch police officers in the face. Then you can go home and smoke some weed, or vacuum the rug or watch The IT Crowd on Netflix or do whatever it is you do after you riot. I like to sip on some wine, eat some pasta in my bathrobe and get a foot massage from a 21-year-old college co-ed. But that probably won’t happen. Death Grips can however. Download this now. Make life better for yourself.

Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Fucked Up
David Comes to Life
Matador Records

Dear Fucked Up,

I’m having a bit of an internal issue, and I am sorry to say that my brain is going to vomit out some nonsense in response to your album, David Comes to Life and some of your aesthetic and production decisions and a bunch of other stuff that does not have to do with the actual music of David Comes to Life. I didn’t plan for this to happen. I’ve been listening to the album for weeks now since I got it on the By Early, Get Now program in which I dropped like $42 dollars to get double vinyl and some seven inches and a slew of other shit. I did this because the story you were talking about and the manner in which you presented it in press leading up to the release was intriguing. I want to just say, I really love the music on this album. I think that this is the culmination of your band to this point. I feel the guest vocals are finally appropriate and make sense for the band and that, despite being a bit of a dramatic rock opera, this is the most focused, fully realized Fucked Up album or project you fine Canadians have pulled off.

But I am having a crisis in relation to music and privilege these days. Actually, I’m having a lot of issues with the privilege filter in relationship to the world. And while some of this is an obvious internal struggle, I am channeling it through the world of these overwrought blog posts that I write. And as I think about David Comes to Life, this massive product that I have spent money I don’t really have and I think about David’s plight, as much of it as I have absorbed, I can’t help but balance it against this existential crisis I am experiencing.

David, in some ways does come to life and does so in a manner similar to my awakening. I have worked in factories before too, but I also spent ten years working in a corporate job for a financial institution in which my job was to protect and recover money stolen from said institution. This job was often at odds with my personal world view. What the fuck did I care if some Nigerians or Russians stole money from a bank that underpaid me and gave “golden parachutes” to CEO’s that continually decreased profitability and viability of the bottom line where my meager paycheck came from? And soon, I became disillusioned, desiring a revolutionary action much like the one David attempts to undertake. And while this is romantic, it is the romantic story of people who have obviously never lacked access to they system, who have never had to struggle, I mean really struggle.

I worked with a fair amount of people who, despite having full-time employment, in seats adjacent to mine, did have to struggle. And while my paycheck barely covered all my expenses, many people around me were not so fortunate. This is partially because the system is inherently racist and sexist and these people, women, single mothers, “minorities”, gays were often passed over for raises and promotions, punished by management for their differences in how they worked, the communities they were from and how they communicated. I can’t help but notice that the protagonists in your story are all white, working class (based on the historical mythology), presumably straight people who have the privilege of feeling this uproar.

Society allows even the middle class, white kids, raised in the same discontent, this kind of outrage. And it’s not that this outrage that David feels is unwarranted, but it’s misaligned. Does this act of terrorism he had planned, that eventually damages and kills someone he love benefit those that do not have a voice and a choice? Because there must be people in this light bulb factory who live in communities that are truly disenfranchised that rely on these jobs of meager skill and meager empowerment to survive because they are not allowed to be included.

And so this begs the question, why the grandiose of this release? After all, you want to tell a story about the working class to the working class, but the working class doesn’t really have access to this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love the album, the layout and your aesthetic. I love the extra songs that continue the tale, and add more layers. I love the compilation David’s Town and how it adds more detail and color and helps me relate. But it’s not accessible from a purely economic point of view. I don’t totally fault you for this in an environment of intellectual theft. All the kids are stealing music and you clearly put a lot of work into this. The days of Sandinista! are over, sadly I know. But the verbosity of this project is already a hindrance and ultimately you are speaking to the hipsters, too self involved to actually give a shit what you’re talking about, or to idiots like me, who already over-think these things. This isn’t so much a critique and an observation and a question. But I can’t help think about Joe Strummer and D Boon and all they taught us about trying to connect punk rock with the people who need it the most. The intellectuals and the cool crowd are not those people. Can we brainstorm new ideas, new methods and new means of reaching out to create this dialog? Because I do love this story. Beyond all these questions and this crisis of mine, I connect and relate to it deeply. Not just on an intellectual level, but on an emotional and visceral level as well. This is the power of punk rock and I want more people to hear it. Not just as ripped MP3’s stolen from mediafire or sharespace, but through the beautiful visuals that accompany it, with the giant poster sized lyric sheet spread across the floor, tactile and fully engaged.

After all this musings however, I am still compelled to joy. The buzzing guitars are awesome as always, Damien’s bark warms my heart, the cutting hits and blasts make me excited. Those that don’t engage with patience are missing out on a truly great work of art. The flaws of context are not those of your own personal failings. My own ramblings here come from a place of privilege, despite unemployment and rapid declines in wanting to re-engage in the system of work for commerce. I realize that my choice to even buy this epic story was one that so many people don’t have and my participation makes me complicit in the same questions I ask. But the music drives me first and foremost and through the last several years, while I have been intrigued, now I am fully vested. David Comes to Life is a monumental achievement, and I am glad to praise it amongst the waves of adoration.