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idiotprogrammer on 03/14/2016 at 02:37AM

Monk Turner’s God Complex”: A Suburban Rock Opera with Mythical Overtones (Review)

"God Complex" album cover

Monk Turner is a talented and prolific songwriter who has glommed onto the “concept album” genre (producing about 25 concept albums so far). (Note: He won the grand prize for his birthday song in the FMA birthday song contest). I wrote a long profile of Monk Turner a few years ago and have followed his recent releases over the years. A few years ago the concept was “Emergency” (imagining disaster in Los Angeles). More recently the concept was colors; each song was about a different color — and that includes a lot of obscure colors like fuchsia, cerulean,  Zymenchlora (yes, it’s a color — I checked). (Check out my 6 word review of it).  A central aspect to the concept album is that it lets the artist  explore a variety of moods and styles within a certain theme. Turner mashes a lot of retro pop styles with contemporary instruments and idioms.  All the albums have elements of 50s  rock and 60s folk and funk, but they still feel “new.”

For this concept album, each song is sung by a different Greek god or goddess (but transplanted into an era of modern suburban angst).

My questions when approaching a Monk Turner concept is to ask: will individual songs stand out more than the concept itself?  Is the melody decorating the lyrics or vice versa? Also, how much do the songs abide by    traditional pop song formats (in terms of catchiness and production values)?

For this album, I feel that the overall concept stands out more than individual songs, that the lyrics drive  the melodies (PS, they’re also hilarious!) and that the songs are quintessentially anti-pop; I don’t even think it would fall into the category of alternative (though there are certainly rock elements on the edges). In fact, the songs strike me as very theatrical — something which belongs  onstage or (heaven forbid!)   a Disney animation movie. To invent a category for this album, the first thing which comes to mind is    offbeat suburban rock opera.

Turner wants to make the Greek gods recognizable to modern audiences, so he depicts them with  modern personalities. We are supposed to sympathize with their perspectives and  see a little bit of ourselves in them.

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MartyMcSorley on 05/13/2011 at 01:00PM

The End of Irony: Captain Ahab shadow puppet/video extravaganza

The End Of Irony

The first time I experienced Captain Ahab was also the first time I experienced Friends Forever, Animal Collective, ZS, Rose4Bodhan, Mr. Pacman and Rubber-O-Cement at this totally epic festival dubbed Neon Hates You back in 2002 -- a truly life changing, epic event.

I honestly had only heard of like 2 bands on the bill and was just kinda along for the ride, but after being assaulted by a home made bass wielding alien fly in an animated cardboard world of sonic madness, then dodging flaming tennis balls thrown from guys paying synths in costumes stolen from the set of Power Rangers, trying to navigate the twists and turns of a militaristic flying V double jazz trio form hell, watching a dude with a dolphin on his head turn the venue into a ball pit and finally seeing 2 dudes in masks from Brooklyn in hold a room just by banging on some old pvc buckets and messing around with a broken guitar, this show without a doubt set my standard for what I want from musicians and performance artists, complete sensory overload, no matter your budget.

Smack in the middle of this was Captain Ahab. A dude with hair down to his ass that kinda looked more like he was headed to Ozfest than this DIY one. After apologizing for being sick he told us that he was going to have someone else dace for him that night. He proceeded to dive into hyper-intelligent, angry as fuck, slightly homoerotic, electronic grooves that included covers of Avril Lavigne's Sk8r Boi and J-Lo's Jenny on the Block. We had no choice but to dance, and if you had the balls to front and pretend that you didn't want to be a part of this party, his dancing sidekick, looking like he was straight out of a Tom of Finland sketch, wrangled the jaded stranglers to the center of the floor to be harpooned by Ahab's mighty beats. I was in love.

Almost ten years later, a few world tours, a concept record written as a 14 year old girl, song placements in The Office and Snakes On A Plane, Captain Ahab is still going strong and is not afraid to attack his audience's senses from all sides, but he is no longer content with making genre bending dance music that has the power to unite all walks of life in sweaty shirtless harmony. Ahab wants to end all of our preconceived notions of what is good or bad, wipe the slate clean, and start taste all over again. He bought some friends along to help, and they have created a shadow puppet/video extravaganza to help usher everyone in to The End of Irony.

So with that. I'll get out of the way and let you aboard that ship that will I am pleased to present. Captain Ahab live on WFMU complete with integrated video and puppet show:

Get the full story from their mouth with the post set interview here and check out more tunes from Captain Ahab here on the Free Music Archive

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Nat_Roe on 11/26/2010 at 03:30PM

Robedoor Live at WFMU (mp3s)

IMG_4729 A couple weeks back LA noise titans slash cultural lynchpins Robedoor did me the honor of recording a live session in WFMU's studios during a rare and excessively brief East Coast tour. Although Robedoor began as a two-piece drone band with dozens of releases on just about every cool noise label out there, the recent addition of Geddes Gengras as a drummer has brought the band closer to the unholy realm of doom metal.

Alex Brown supplied (among other things) keyboard riffs that form the backbone of the jams - his rig is so bass heavy that I actually couldn't tell whether he was up too loud in the mix or whether the floor was just shaking. Britt Brown played guitar and vocals, with a slew of pedals to throw off any semblence of the concept of a "song". The track "I thought you were the Devil" is off Robedoor's recent LP on Important Records, Burners. Parallel Wanderer, by far the longest track in this session, will appear as a full side of a yet untitled upcoming LP. This seems to be following Robedoor's usual method of writing songs: jamming it out with live improv until the completed song idea emerges from the murky depths.

IMG_4727Or maybe the secret to Robedoor's success is putting beer in every meal they eat? Alex runs an excellent and hilarious food blog called Hot Knives that seems to indicate a predilection for hoppy breakfast dishes. Speaking as somebody who loves nothing more than the rhetoric of high end menus, the Hot Knives archives are great because you get classy dishes with rock and roll commentary. For god's sake, he teaches you how to make the "über pre-choucroute", Kimchi from scratch!

Then again, Robedoor's ability to touch on a hundred genres at one is probably because Robedoor members are so involved with underground noise culture. Britt Brown runs Not Not Fun records, which has released a ton of material from many perennial WFMU favorites. I'd explain more, but there really aren't words. I'd recommend blasting this live session over your best sound system while nerding out to lists of releases from Not Not Fun and Robedoor on discogs.

Thanks to Jason Sigal for these photos and for help with engineering the recording.

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bondad on 02/23/2010 at 01:00PM

New Farmer (feat. Mia Doi Todd)

About a month ago, John gave me an album entitled Follow The Music: A Commemorative Sampler of Elektra’s Pre-Rock Era. Essentially a collection of folk music, I quickly became enamored with a number of different elements of these recordings. The intentional: the simple forms of the songs, the directness of the lyrical meaning. As well as the elements inherent of the time period in which they were recorded: The fuzzy, consonant-shy vocal sonority, the time constraints of recording vinyl, the hiss and scratch of vintage technology. Using all these elements as criterion for the composition, I began. This simple song encapsulates an entire relationship in three and one half minutes, and features one of Los Angeles’ most creative musicians, Mia Doi Todd.

I hope you enjoy “New Farmer”.


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