Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wish You Were Here
Leslie Simon
(Harper Paperbacks)

Well, would you look at this? It's Holly's first Sleazegrinder book review! (As an aside, this is actually the second book that I have been sent to review, but the first one was so dreadful that I elected to ignore it. If you come across it in a bookstore someday, might I suggest that you ignore it, as well? Ah Christ, I feel guilty even typing the title so you'll be able to recognize, and, therefore, avoid, it. If you really must know, you can message me. I'd offer to send you my copy, but I'm using it for scrap paper.)

Okay, where were we? Ah yes, Wish You Were Here, the second bound literary offering from 's Leslie Simon, coauthor of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. (I am infinitely thankful that I didn't have to read that one, let me assure you.) In this "essential guide to your favorite music scenes-from punk to indie and everything in between," Simon focusses on eleven influential American musical hotspots, providing a brief history of each scene, its major players (including bands, albums, record labels, promoters, and clubs), and a handy Lonely-Planet-esque guide to the area's notable venues and eateries. Each chapter also offers a snide comedic bit poking fun at the various scenes and their accompanying scenesters. Simon writes like a true grinder of sleaze, albeit one raised on a consumer diet of Gossip Girl, Perez Hilton, Dashboard Confessional, and Diet Coke. But she does know her musical history, and her knowledge of popular culture is frightening in its scope. (More names were dropped in the writing of this book than flakes of snow fell in southern Ontario this past winter. And we got a lot of fucking snow, man.) Would I recommend this book? Sure. Maybe not to hardcore sleaze fans, because you probably don't give a shit about where Conor Oberst played his first gig, but I'd recommend it to fledgling music fans raised on consumer diets of Gossip Girl, Perez Hilton, Dashboard Confessional, and Diet Coke in a heartbeat. She's smart, sarcastic, and fun, this Leslie girl, and she also recognizes Adam Levine (from Maroon 5)'s inherent douchebaggery, and that definitely counts for something.

(As an aside, one thing that drove me bonkers about this book was the footnotes. The notes themselves were always informative and/or entertaining, but the asterixes used to direct the reader to said footnotes were printed in what has to be the world's tiniest font. Most of the time, I wasn't even aware of a footnote's existence until I saw the text there at the bottom of the page, and then I had to scan the page with a magnifying glass to locate the little fucker to which the footnote corresponded. Harper Collins, if you're reading, might I recommend fixing this in subsequent printings? Your readers will thank you.)

Iggy Pop
Lust For Life

From an eighties German TV show, broadcast back when lil Iggles had a brief spell as chart fodder with his banal, barely adequate version of Real Wild Child which ironically cast him more as Debbie Gibson’s love hunk in some teen movie (maybe not something we wanna see) this slight (40 minute) snapshot raises itself above any castigations of being risible slew for featuring an exquisite exchange with the presenter of a Canadian TV chat show, where it really seems like Mr Pop is going to ‘do an Emu’ and eat his patronising face off. You can almost see the visible switch in personality and slip into punk-psychologist mode.
Without Ron Asheton’s death (who features here in an unfortunate tashe episode) occurring in a ghastly coincidence with this release, the interview with Ron and footage of him twanging away between shots of the old neighbourhoods would always have been of interest, especially in light of The Stooges reunion, as would the primitive clips of Iggy wiggling, though centrestage must go to the rooftop interview, the enigmatic manic charisma provoking much awe-struck rewatching, above the bizarre approximation of what passed for a haircut on the live clips from the then current Euro tour. As always with such releases, a bumper pack with a few similar programmes would be welcome and certain parts without subtitles isn’t much help unless you habitually lapse into German after too much of your favourite slump-juice, but this is an intriguing, if not essential, aside, though one that smacks of hard-faced cash-in. Appropriate really, what with Iggy’s cavorting about for the car insurance yen.
Stu Gibson
2nd District
Poverty Makes Angry
People Like You

Second album of street-sleaze punk-pouting poetry from these gallant Ruhr rockers rampages all over and through the bones of their vehemently excellent debut like heroically trash messed humvees far more like a Hanoi Rocked Undertones than towels of doldrums thinking pretending not to be potty-trained passes for a patina of punk n’ rock’n’roll. Fuck that. Despite the too mannered at times requisite disdainful Lydon yelp like Jimmy Pursey being served by the Young Ones’ Rik, Marc Ader’s delivery is of refreshing sardonic eagerness cauterised by caustic cynicism with an at times deeply affecting slur. Neither tawdry sub-Manics wannabe tat nor laboriously lobotomized bonzoi bobbins though they sure can rustle up some Harry-hurrying chantarama as on the brilliantly observed wittical Sporting Socks and Sandals and The Last Anthem. From the deranged boys swinging a go go from opening night chandeliers instrumental opener of Monoxide to the frenetic salute of I Love My Life to The Only One and Drinking (The Song) to so long adieu’s The Hardest Part and closing down last swing for the old veneer of Don’t Fear The Fear this is up there like a very thirsty dog with the very best of recent low-slung, belt-loosening (see Die Hunns last, f’rinstance). Indiscriminate passion without discretion, and far more than Backyard Babies with extra tracks. Stu Gibson

The Creepshow
Sell Your Soul
People Like You

Here People Like You disinter for your mortal interest the debut from Canadian necrotisis-freaks The Creepshow for a reekin’, rock-wreaking resurrection worth running back into the house where the bad things are, no matter what the audience may tell you. Sometimes, those characters might actually be onto something. By and large this has several moments to gouge yourself with. Originally on Stereo Dynamite (and with current singer Sarah Blackwood’s sister of sin Jen on vocals) who, if recent Matadors album Sweet Revenge is anything to go by, may not be the best label for our horrorbilly heroes. Released in 2006 it’s not so much the long-awaited release it’s touted as, though availability may well have been an issue. Anyway, whether an already avowed zombie zealot or kooky psycho-poptart new flesh for the old flailers then a treat is instore for your infection ready sub-dermal sores as, besides the noted Zombies Ate Her Brain - possibly about the sweetest sub-two minute serenade since, well, The Horrorpops pristine second album, there’s the plaintive cowgirl’s lament of The Garden and the showdown hoedown split-up spat with The Matador’s Hooch of Doghouse that kick into a passing fence-post and dismember the likes of the skirt-shredding Shake, that already drives stakes through the Horrorpops’ white wedding dress in a freak shower, there’s a live video and cutesy vid-clips of ...Brain and The Garden. Whether you feel the urge to rip up floorboards and perhaps a friend or two's demure features before racing out like the rage of 21 Days Later ultimately depends on your stomach for zombie-pop, but it's definitely one you could hang pretty much a whole cast on. Stu Gibson

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