Prince

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Where does one even start when discussing someone like Prince? His body of work, and life in general, was so massive and expansive that it’s a bit overwhelming even thinking about trying to write about it. In fact, this is probably the seventh time since his death that I’ve tried to sit down and write something, anything, about Prince. His art means a lot to me and his body of work is staggering. 39 (!!!) full length studio albums, 136 music videos, 104 singles. That’s insane to even fathom. To put that in perspective, Bob Dylan had over 2 decades of recording before Prince released his first album and Dylan only has 37 studio albums. Needless to say, the man was prolific. It’s also rumored that he has enough unreleased material to be able to release a new full length album every year for the next century. But that’s all just statistics that you can find anywhere. I wanted to write something personal over losing someone whose music has become incredibly important to me.

prince batman

I’m basically a new comer to the world of Prince. I haven’t been listening to him my whole life. Yes, I remember watching his music videos on MTV as a kid and he’s always kind of been in the ether of my life, but I wasn’t actively listening to him. Like everyone else, I was familiar with his major hits like When Doves Cry, Kiss, 1999, etc, but my introduction deeper into the music of Prince came from three things: Jonah Matranga covering The Cross, Ween covering Shockadelica, and Kevin Smith discussing him at length, especially the 1989 Batman soundtrack. The covers by both Jonah and Ween became absolute standouts in my world. The Ween one being goofy and basically making the second half of it their own, and the Jonah cover being unbelievable heartwarming and personal. I would listen to both of them all the time. On top of that, the more and more I listened to Kevin Smith’s podcast and the more I heard him talk about Prince, I knew I had to dive in.
Now, the obvious move would have been to start out with something like his greatest hits or Purple Rain. But the first full Prince album I sunk my teeth into was the aforementioned Batman soundtrack. I was hooked immediately. It’s weird and counter intuitive to the dark and gritty take that the Dark Knight’s first foray into serious film was going for, but it works so well. Songs like Partyman, Batdance, Lemon Crush, and Scandalous are poppy, sexy, grandiose and everything else Prince was known for. And most of all, the album was fun.
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After becoming obsessed with Batman, I started to immediately devour his ‘classic’ albums. Prince, 1999, Around The World In A Day, Purple Rain, Sign O’ The Times, Emancipation. I fell in love with all of them. I’ve spent the last 5 years basically living off of Prince’s music. There hasn’t been a full week that I haven’t at least listened to The Hits/B-sides compilation. I listen to I Wanna Be Your Lover and Little Red Corvette every single morning when I leave work. Prince has become a part of my DNA and one of the things that I’ve bonded with people over. I could talk endlessly about his guitar playing at the end of Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad or how I Would Die 4 U is an absolutely perfect song. Or how I get chills at the scream he uses on If I Was Your Girlfriend (“Sometimes I trip out on how happy we could be, PLLLEEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEE”). Or how much his cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me effects me on a deep, emotional level.
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On the day Prince died, I woke up to text messages, tweets, and direct messages from people offering me condolences like I had lost a member of my immediate family. It was weird and wonderful and actually incredibly comforting. I had never met the man, or even seen him perform live for that matter, but his impact on my life had been so big that people knew I was going to be devastated. And I was. I was in complete shock, as most of the world was. No one really saw it coming. Everyone on my Twitter timeline was sharing stories and their favorite songs that whole week. It was wonderful and therapeutic and beautiful to see how many lives Prince had touched with his music. It was especially great to see the usually serious and stoic metal community come out and talk about how much Prince inspired them or how much they loved his work. Hearing stories of practically every band playing shows that week opening with Purple Rain (shout out to Mutoid Man for the best version I heard) or seeing a band like Noisem paying respect was great. But the thing that finally sent me over the edge and made me tear up and cry was seeing the video of the massive crowd of people celebrating his life and work in Minnesota. It looked liked blocks had been taken over, with every light being turned purple, and everyone singing along to Purple Rain. It hit me hard just how much he resonated with people. His songs were the soundtracks to millions of peoples lives. I can’t even imagine how many awkward sexual awakenings happened to his music videos. Or how many dance parties 1999 or Let’s Go Crazy have been played at. The sheer magnitude of the lives he had made better through music is awe inspiring.
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If anything comes from his death, I hope that a new generation of people discover his music and check it out. In my opinion, he has at least 4 perfect albums (Purple Rain, 1999, Controversy, and Prince) that should be heard. I envy the people that get to experience his work for the first time now. It’s a journey into musical genius that is unrivaled. Prince was on a whole other level. He wasn’t weird, he was unabashedly himself and turned that into an exceptional musical career. He was constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of popular music. There will never be anyone else like him and the world is a lot less magical without him in it.
 This is a video for Prince’s cover of Bonnie Raitt’s song I Can’t Make You Love Me. It has been on constant rotation for me since Prince left us. It’s one of the most beautiful renditions of an already beautiful song that I’ve ever heard and it makes me equally happy and sad while listening to it.

Band Crush Wednesday

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I’ve been working on this for 2 days, trying to articulate what I feel, and still don’t know what exactly to say. This weeks Band Crush Wednesday is David Bowie, for obvious reasons. I’m still in shock and very mournful about his death. Bowie, along with The Cure, are the two longest lasting musical imprints on my life. My mom listened to both while she was pregnant with me and both have lasted with me to this day. A lot of people way more eloquent than I have written much better things on the man and his music, so I won’t try. If you have listened to David Bowie, you know. If you haven’t, I urge you to jump into his vast and amazing discography.

Life On Mars?

I’m Afraid Of Americans

Rebel Rebel

Blackstar

And finally, as a fitting tribute, this is Seu Jorge playing Life On Mars?, which is one of my all time favorite covers.
 

#MetalBandcampGiftClub

The world of metal, like the world in general, is a constant bombardment of shit. Metal news sites and blogs are usually a pile of negativity. There is a lot of “OMG Dave Mustaine said something stupid again!” or “Justin Beiber spotted in a Slayer shirt. Get outraged!”. Most sites that cover metal seem to be more interested in the clicks that negativity and shit talking bring them than actually covering cool things that happen in metal or promoting up and coming bands. How many times can someone really read a ranking of Metallica songs or a post making fun of something the singer from All That Remains said?

Last week, in the midst of a bad night, a friend of mine on Twitter named Jeremiah Nelson (@_jeremiahn on Twitter) decided to go onto Bandcamp and send people gifts from their wishlists, trying to turn his bad night into something positive for his friends. In the morning, as people were waking up and seeing emails about new albums they were gifted, Zachary Issac (@MannyOWar on Twitter) came up with the simplest of ideas: people should randomly gift Bandcamp albums to each other all the time. Thus, the #MetalBandcampGiftClub was born.
The idea is that anyone who was interested in partaking, get on Twitter and post your Bandcamp profile with the hashtag #MetalBandcampGiftClub. People follow you, you follow them. You gift people albums from their wishlist (or if you know their email, you can send them albums you think they would like) and you get albums gifted to you. The first day, I received 13-15 new albums, most from people I had never even talked to before and now we have back and fourths on Twitter daily. It’s incredible. You’re receiving the gift of new music, the gifter gets the satisfaction of making someones day a bit brighter, and bands / labels are getting their cut, while metal sites have settled for just writing scathing takedown pieces aimed at dismal Spotify rates without, you know, actually offering a solution of any kind.
There have been some pretty amazing positives that have come out of this whole idea in the last week alone. A lot of people will gift albums from bands they are friends with when they see them in a wishlist. We actually got the Couch Slut album ‘My Life As A Woman’ into the top ten best sellers for about 2 days straight and a bunch of Slaves BC albums into the top ten as well. It’s extremely gratifying to see bands be like “Hey, we were able to fill our gas tank and buy ourselves dinner for the first time in a week!” all because of some metal fans being nice for once. Funny story: David Hall, the man behing Handshake, Inc., actually tweeted out about how he was worried someone from Couch Slut had died because of the spike in sales. Which in itself is a sad condemnation of the way the media in general works. “Oh, someone died? I guess I should buy their album now.”
It’s amazing to me how many metal news sites basically decided that this rad thing “wasn’t news.” But so be it. That’s the world we live in now. If it isn’t clickbait-y enough, who cares? All that matters in the end is bands are making at least some money from fans being nice to each other instead of bickering endlessly about how everything is terrible. Bandcamp has taken notice and has contacted some of the people who spearheaded this whole thing about interviews. They’ve stated that in the first 4-5 days, over 250 albums were gifted. Take into account that a majority of those albums are at least $5, meaning bands and artists have made roughly $1250. IN FIVE DAYS! All from the simple idea of giving things to friends and trying to put a smile on someone’s face. Viva #NiceMetalTwitter and the #MetalBandcampGiftClub.
If you are interested in getting involved, check out the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club website (created by Mr. Skull Toaster and all around excellent human being, Seth Werkheiser) for all of the details. (There is also a list being compiled of everyone’s birthdays so you can be bombarded with a bunch of new music on your birthday!)
Also, the podcast As The Story Grows had Jeremiah and Zach on to talk about the whole thing. It’s about 30 minutes and a fun listen. Check it out HERE!
And a shameless plug: My Bandcamp profile is HERE if you want to follow me. And follow anyone I follow on their because they are all amazing people and linking 65 something people on here would be too much.

RIP Gunnar Hansen

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Gunnar Hansen, the man behind the mask and chainsaw in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 68. Horror has taken a hit lately with Wes Craven and now Hansen passing away.

Hansen starred in around 28 movies, not including documentary appearances. His most famous and life defining role was of course Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. His wild and manic portrayal was the perfect fit for the gritty and raw feel of the movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface

New Dr. Colossus Video + Australian Tour

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In the midst of all of the Treehouse Of Horror celebrating on Xtapolapometal, Simpsons themed doom metal duo Dr. Colossus released their new music video for their single, Excellent. The song deals with the unrequited love of Smithers for Mr. Burns and obviously takes place in front of a power plant. The video also features a quite unsettling female dancer in a Mr. Burns mask. You can check it out below.

Also, for any Australian readers, Dr. Colossus are embarking on a mini-tour throughout your land. I highly encourage anyone able to to go see them. Dates are below. For more info about tickets/venues, check out the Dr. Colossus Facebook page.

Friday November 6th – Edinburgh Castle, Adelaide
Saturday November 7th – The Loft, Warnambool
Friday November 20th – The Workers Club, Melbourne
Saturday Novermber 21st – River Rocks 15, Geelong
Friday November 27th – Waywards at The Bank Hotel, Sydney

And if you go, pick up one of the best t-shirt designs of all time:

moleman