Being watched

Posted: August 25, 2012 in Musical Ramblings

really well written story..can’t wait for part 3!

Fifilynx's Blog

Bill slowly stretched himself into standing position. Rubbing his forehead, he felt the blood rush back down to his toes. He stood tall and arched his stiff and painful back, fucking old age, he thought. He could use a cup of coffee, but still felt nervous and was afraid to turn on the lights and give away his presence. He felt his way across the room in the dark, stumbling over clothes and books scattered across the floor. His shin found the bed first and quietly cursing he lay down on his back; still thinking about the two of them as he drifted off to sleep.

Bill awoke to yelping, giggling and thumping from kids careening about the hallway. Goddamn brats, he muttered dragging himself up from the bed. His back still ached, although he couldn’t be sure if it was from bending over the keyhole for so long or…

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A music journalist in the 90’s (back then this actually was a job) once described Soul Asylum as ‘the quintessential little band that could’ and I can’t think of a better way to sum them up. From their inception as Loud Fast Rules! and then as Soul Asylum through the 80’s they lit up the Minneapolis club scene garnering a reputation as a fearless live act but always remained in the shadows of their more well known contemporaries in Husker Du and The Replacements. They did have their day in the mid 90’s with 1992’s Grave Dancers Union (which spawned the mega hit ‘Runaway Train’) and 1994’s Let Your Dim Light Shine which included the equally massive lead single ‘Misery’. Since then however, life has changed and despite two further major label releases, the musical landscape had changed and continued commercial success eluded them.

Following the tragic death of bass player and founding member Karl Mueller from cancer in 2005, the band slowly began playing live again and more recently have toured the US extensively in recent years with former Replacement Tommy Stinson on bass.

This brings us nicely to their new album ‘Delayed Reaction’ and whether it’s any good. After multiple listens I can answer that with a resounding yes. Lead single ‘gravity’ wouldn’t sound out of place on 1988’s Hang Time (generally accepted by fans and critics alike as their best). ‘Lets all kill each other’ continues the energy and showcases the harmonies between Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy which have been honed over their 30 years together.

Slower introspective songs also feature, best illustrated by the haunting ‘I should have stayed in bed’ and ‘By the way’. ‘The Juice’, ‘Take Manhattan’ and ‘The Streets’ all continue the rocking trend and although there are a couple of tracks which I could disingenuously describe as filler, overall this is an impressive effort from a great band.

I’d say welcome back Soul Asylum, but the truth is they never really went away.

Soul Asylum are:
Dave Pirner – Lead Vocals and Guitar
Dan Murphy – Backup Vocals and Guitar
Tommy Stinson – Bass
Michael Bland – Drums

‘Delayed Reaction’ was released on 17th July 2012 through 429 Records

First off I’ll declare that as a big misfits fan and card carrying member of the fiend club, I really really wanted to love this album. Since the split with Michale Graves following the Famous Monsters tour Jerry Only (the only remaining original member) has been touring with his version of the band featuring Dez Cadena (formerly of black flag) on guitar and Robbo on drums. They did release 1 album which was the disastrous Project 1950, Jerry’s tribute the music of the 50’s and those influences can also be heard to varying degrees on The Devils Rain

This iteration of the band is essentially the same but with Eric ‘chupacabra’ Arce (formerly of Murphy’s Law) on drums replacing Robbo (allegedly because his Columbian citizenship causes touring complications). As The Devils Rain is the first new misfits release in over ten years there are massive expectations which sadly this album just doesn’t live up to. That said, the album itself is better than I expected it to be. Compared to (original vocalist) Glenn Danzig and his replacement for 2 albums in the 90’s, Michale Graves, Jerry’s vocals just don’t cut it. That a deal couldn’t be struck with Danzig (very unlikely) or Graves (more likely) to bring back a ‘proper’ vocalist for these sessions is a real shame because I couldn’t help but think with either of their input these songs would have an additional edge they both deserve and need. Ah yes, the songs. Certainly not terrible, but not great either. The title track, along with curse of the mommy’s hand, the black hole, father and vivid red are all heavy melodic numbers and if these were sung by Graves I would likely be blown away. Sadly they are not, which makes them mediocre at best. Where do they go and death ray are good songs, but more vehicles to illustrate Jerry’s aforementioned love of 50’s rock n roll rather than the misfits legacy. 

If this album had been played to me and I didn’t know it was a misfits release I’d give it 6 out of 10 and listen to it occasionally. The fact that I was waiting so long for this to come and listened to it as a huge fan leaves me disappointed and still yearning for a conciliation with Danzig or Graves.

You know that old saying, some things are better left in the past? Well I could not think of a more apt description for the Michael Monroe gig I attended a few Saturdays past. I was always a big fan of Hanoi Rocks, and when they were derided by many others as nothing more than a bunch of glam rock posers, I was always quick to jump to their defense.  Anyway, the point I’m making is not about what a great band Hanoi Rocks were, its that they are so closely associated with a scene that it makes their music almost completely irrelevant today.

This leads me nicely onto the gig I attended on Saturday 16th April at the iconic Rock City venue in Nottingham. Firstly I should admit that we were very late for the gig and only caught about 5 songs (including the encore). The reason for was because I had been following MM’s Facebook posts on the rest of his UK tour and there was a definite pattern to the stage times being somewhere around 9-9:30 each night. So considering I was only in Nottingham for 1 night, myself, my partner and friend decided to eat and visit a few pubs beforehand as the support bands didn’t interest us. We got to the venue about 9:40 to hear MM onstage already so rushed in to find the place half empty, MM jumping about the stage like a livewire and the rest of the band looking bored or embarassed (or both in the case of the legendary Wildhearts man, Ginger). We managed to catch the Hanoi Rocks classic “Malibu Beach Nightmare” which sounded good, but as I was watching I just couldn’t shake the feeling that we were witnessing a “doing it for the money” scenario and that saddened me. Yes, MM was energetic and sounded good, but there was no engagement with the audience. He reached out to crowd, smiled wickedly, sang to us, but it was just so emtpy. And the band, well they sounded good – but with that amount of musical heritage on stage thats the least you’d expect. The gig ended about 3 songs after we arrived and they did the obligatory walk-off and reappeared to play 2 or 3 more. To be honest by that point I had given up caring. A colossal disappointment and a lesson learned – some things are best left in the past.