Saturday, December 17, 2005

Good news ... Venom is back with a new album due out next year. They have a typically brilliant/stupid "advertisement" streaming on their website, so turn up your speakers and dig it here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Buy me a X-Mas gift here ... FIENDISH CURIOSITIES!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Local Seattle noisemakers that I'm going to interview tonight for Resonance magazine ... finally shoving some truly ugly rocknroll into those limp-wristed pages.

Dig "Rot Macumba" first, and if it sounds like music to you, keep on truckin'. And if you happen to be near the Lobo Saloon tonight, stop by and buy me a drink. See you there.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Donna Wilkes Unofficial Fan Site

What? You've never seen Angel? Or Blood Song? What about Hello, Larry ? What the hell have you been doing with your time?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mexican Rock and Roll Rumble!

One of my favorite bootlegs comps, all on line as MP3s courtesy of this cat what calls himself RecordBrother. You'll dig this, no doubt.

I recommend starting off with track #8, "La Noyia De Mi Mejor Amigo" (translates out to "The Girl of My Best Friend") by Los Sinners, a band name I've contemplated stealing many times. Includes the best version of "Hello I Love You" ever recorded, bar none.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Michigan Chillers!

Who knew such a thing existed? My 11-year old nephew Anthony, for one. I just learned today this is his favorite series of books, as I'm sure it would be for me if I was his age. The puzzle of how to make Alpena, Petoskey and Gaylord seem like exciting places to kids weaned on video games and gory prime time television has finally been solved.

Anthony just started guitar lessons too, which means he has a head start on me, development-wise (I didn't actually "learn" anything til I was 15 at least). I plan on sending him an Apollo 9 cd as soon as he learns three chords, just to reinforce how much can be done with them. Younger nephew Brandon (seven years old) is enrolled in ballet right now, and reportedly he's already the most advanced in his class. Unfortunately, I have no wisdom to pass down on the dance front, but I'm proud nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Damned Damned Damned project was anticlimactic, of course, but a purely positive experience and that's all I can ask for in this life. Everyone at the Fun House was on their best behavior, I got to play as loud as I fucking wanted, earned a small amount of free bourbon and ten bucks to boot. Jeremy made me proud by declaring onstage that "everything the Damned did after this record sucked ass," thus alienating 75% of our potential audience and driving many of them to the back porch area of the bar to ignore us.

I broke a string on "I Fall," just three fucking songs in and wham, right during that great bridge ("I'm a fallin angel, fallin down, be a fallin angel, wontcha come on around"). Luckily, the crestfallen look on my mug drew a good samaritan to my side, a bass player from a suburban-Seattle Oi band who offered to help and changed the string in about a quarter of the time it would have taken me. I admit that threw me off my groove and there were some tuning problems that I had to finally just ignore, but for the most part I kept it together and there were a few transcendent moments where we were all playing the same thing at the same time. Unfortunately, now I want to buy a bass amp, which will be hard to pull off without some sacrifices ... I should never have sold the Sunn.

Brother James did a fine job as Brian James, and I'm glad to report that I resisted his insistence on all of us dressing up in "punk" costumes. "You gotta get in the Halloween spirit," he said, "come on, that's what punk is all about!" I disagreed with calm ferocity even as he taunted me, but he just couldn't understand that what he interpreted as a fear of letting loose was simply my innate sense of dignity ... so James spray painted his hair an egg-yellow color, wore white lipstick and convinced drummer Vic to mascara on a pencil-thin moustache (which I have to admit looked awful cool). A pair of pink sunglasses was my only concession, so when the moment of truth onstage came, I got looser than anyone in the room and looked sharp doing it. Baby, these Seattle cats need to relax and get righteous ...


One of the stranger films of the pre-hardcore era, Fluctuations is a unique collusion of underground art sensibilities and crass smut appetites. Non-narrative sex films aren't entirely unusual, but this baffling softcore feature doesn't appear to be a patchwork of outtakes like more cynical exercises, so perhaps director/screenwriter Leo J. Rhewdnal had a method to his madness. Fluctuations flits from one strange image to the next, occasionally capturing a physically alluring moment, but more often simply gaping at the strangely passionless clutches of two, three, or more writhing bodies. The photography isn't entirely flattering to its subjects; stretch marks, cavernous pores, and tummy rolls figure in nearly every frame, as the decidedly ordinary cast casually simulates a variety of positions, obsessions, and kinks. Scab fondling, simulated "water sports," and shaving cream warfare figure in the bizarre displays, with occasional interruptions from a kung fu demonstration in someone's living room. Fluctuations' out-of-sync soundtrack, filled with raspy, distorted panting and scatological dirty talk, helps plunge some of the sillier scenes into an eerier place, turning two nude, giggling young people into figures from some disturbing wet dream. Perhaps this is a bold, honest attempt at boiling the skin flick down to its basest elements, discarding silly stories, cardboard characters, and other filler for a stream of sexually provocative acts. Most likely there's something more pretentious at work in Rhewdnal's concept, but luckily whatever it all means has been lost to time. Fluctuations is probably too abstract for most viewers to stay interested for its entire 69-minute run, but there's no other film quite like it, and that's high praise indeed. — Fred Beldin

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cassette Jam '05

Everybody run right out and dig my cover story in the latest Resonance, available at a corporate bookstore chain near you. And yes, I asked him all about OK Soda.
I think it's safe to say this officially now ... my old lady, Lori Shakespeare, has nabbed herself a new job in the University of Washington library system that will afford her slightly more money and considerably more respect. Things were up in the air for a while, but this essentially stakes us down to Seattle for at least another year (barring unforseen disasters/triumphs). Lori gets her MLS degree in December and she'll be eligible for full-on librarian gigs after that, but Seattle isn't the strongest market for such things, so it's possible we'll have to leave for her to pursue a real career.

Personally, I'm glad we're staying for a little while longer. Like all places, there's a lot to hate about Seattle (the bus system, panhandlers, inefficient police force, general big-city frustrations) but on the whole I love it here and there's still some unfinished business I'm trying to wrap up before we move on.

By the way, I haven't exactly fixed the comments section, but they are functional again ... you just have to click on the # below each entry to get where you need to go. Don't ask me how, why or how ... the personal computer is like a car to me, I know how to drive it where I want to go, but once something goes haywire I'm completely lost (though I can occasionally jerryrig an improvised fix).

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Damned project was nearly derailed Friday, and then again Saturday. Mere hours before our first full-on practice we all got phone calls from frontman/genius Jeremy (he of the scarves and tight pants) who sullenly declared that there was no way he could go through with this thing he had started. Various financial and residential pressures were turning his head inside out, he had no time to adequately rehearse, and there was no way he wasn't going to suck once the big day came. I gently suggested he sleep on it, as he's usually a very enthusiastic cat (to a fault) and I was sure he'd change his mind the next day. He did. As for Friday, however, the band (imaginatively named "New Rose" by Jeremy, by the way) was officially off, and I was pretty irritated, so I rented a handful of Doris Wishman films and beered it up.

Saturday, I get the call that our guitarist Brother James was still hip, and was essentially taking over organizational tasks in an effort to make it happen. So an afternoon practice was arranged ... this time it was my turn to make a frantic phone call. I've been having minor (but persistent) chest pains for the past few days, and a sudden flareup an hour before practice was too weird not to investigate. With Lori's prodding, I urged everyone to practice without me, and I split for the emergency room.

I got the full treatment ... EKG, chest X-ray, blood work, and the good news is I was not having a heart attack. The doctors couldn't identify exactly what I was experiencing, but immediately life-threatening causes were not to blame. It was a stressful afternoon, lying nearly nude with a needle in my arm for four hours waiting for results, listening to the heartbreaking caterwauling of the psychotic patient a few rooms over ("WHY CAN'T I SEE A DOCTOR? I'M VOMITING BLOOD! HELP! I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE! DON'T LOCK ME IN THIS ROOM! I'M VOMITING BLOOD!"). More doctors today, in a less intense atmosphere, but I'm not so worried anymore. The pain is barely noticeable, but it is real and is still with me, even as I write this. With luck it's just stress, which means it won't be going away for a while, but psychosomatic illness is something I can live with.

Sunday I got up early, spent several hours working on "the book" (more information to come), a few minutes doing homework and was off to practice at last. With better organization we could have easily shaved two hours off the session (my time is stretched thin these days and two extra hours would have been very welcome) but when it finally came to all of us rocking in unison, everything sounded great and I'm confident that Halloween night will be swimming. The drummer is a maniac Keith Moon type, and playing that bass with said maniac was very satisfying. After seven years, I still have the beat ... the callouses on my fingers could be thicker, but aside from that, I wailed solid.

The next week will be full, at least three more practices, homework, class, last-minute Resonance stuff and a million other tasks I'm sure I'm forgetting about. Fellow heads, please forward a portion of your stash to my secret mailbox ... I would hate to have to depend on my own naturally-produced endorphins over the next seven days.

Friday, October 21, 2005

El Smasho on All Music Guide

Pretty nice review, this, and J. Ankeny had some kind words for the "Notorious/Frank's Five Speed" single as well ... didn't think I'd ever see the day. If only I had the forethought to make sure my name was on the record somewhere. The first, still undocumented single had actual song credits, but I got ripped off on this one ... for the record, "Foster Brooks" is mine, a bitter tribute to an old girlfriend named Cindy that I wrote after repeated exposure to Superchunk's "Slack Motherfucker." Well, at least Tom Deja's name will live on in infamy. All hail Sonic Tom!

Speaking of rock n' roll, I'm playing bass in a Damned tribute band on Halloween night at a Seattle dive called The Fun House. We're doing the Damned Damned Damned LP in its entirety. For those of you keeping track, this will be the first time I've played bass guitar in front of an audience since 1998 ... I got the Knobgobbler restored special for the occasion after seven years of decaying in various closets. First full-length stage gig since The End Times in 1999, not counting this incident. Come on out if you're looking for booze on Halloween and can afford to stay up late (we're headlining for some reason ... tonight I meet the drummer for the very first time).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Untied, a short film by Deborah Stratman

Currently writing an article about Stratman for Resonance. If you can get hold of In Order Not To Be Here, check it out, it's powerful work, a creepy crawl through a midnight suburb as seen through the lens of a surveilance camera.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Back again from another trip, this time east to Minneapolis for the nuptials of my cousin Aaron and his ladyfriend Eli. As both parties are confirmed renaissance fair enthusiasts, I was concerned that the culture clash would be entirely too harsh to handle. As it turned out, no costumes were involved with the ceremony and both Lori and I had a fine time, despite a total lack of alcohol at the reception (they had a Mountain Dew bar ... yeah, it was that kind of wedding).

The train was excruciating. My fear of flying kept us on the ground, and the 36 hour ride there was spent in coach, "sleeping" upright amongst hillbillies, corn-fed Midwesterners, a gaggle of Amish folk and one mouthy, no-class African American girl who bitched loud and often and blamed racism for the fact that no one could stand her. Actually, the fact that she was tolerated at all was a miracle of politeness and/or passive-aggression on the part of everyone around her ... when a second young black person got on board she dove into full-bore ghetto mode, cussing up a storm about how badly she needed the chronic and how the train personnel were out to get her (again, racism).

Thankfully, we rode the sleeper car on the way back, and it was much better. The room was tiny, but private, and the ability to lie prone made all the difference for our mood. Meals were included; the food was terrible, but there was lots of it. Still, we were ready to kiss the filthy streets of Seattle by the time we returned. Unfortunately there was no time ... it was straight back to work for the both of us, Lori to sweat over her portfolio for grad school (she's done in three more months) and me to struggle with a batch of DVD reviews for Resonance.
The Tell Tale Heart

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Just got back from a whirlwind car trip down the Left Coast, where I marvelled at the majesty of the Pacific Ocean and logged many hours of mountain driving. Lori and I needed the chance to get out of town and just coast without overwhelming plans or destination, so we rented a car and took the miles as they came. First stop Manzanita Oregon, where we found the most beautiful beach and most charming accomodations of the entire trip ... after that we hugged the coast as far as we could, checked out Mendocino California (an arresting view but the town is a bit "calico" for our tastes) among other cities until we hit San Francisco, where we cruised Fisherman's Wharf (and contemplated the wax museums) and the Haight-Ashbury district (which wasn't disappointing in the least). Then the fast track home up I-5.

We're both more relaxed and in better humor. We lost about $25 each in roadside casinos and I added another "Mystery Spot" t-shirt to my collection (thanks to Confusion Hill in Piercy California). We dug a lot of Motorhead, Coltrane and Alice Cooper on the road and discovered the first wine we've liked enough to get snobbish about (Andrew Rich Coup d'Etat Red Rhone Blend 03). All in all, a successful endeavor.

Now we're back to gangland outside our windows, humiliations in the workplace and an entire DVD review column due yesterday. At least the goldfish didn't die.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

All Movie Guide: The Monkey's Uncle

Be forewarned that this witless but diverting Disney comedy (a sequel to The Misadventures of Merlin Jones) contains far less monkey-related frivolity than the title might suggest. Tommy Kirk returns as science whiz Merlin Jones, who becomes the legal guardian of a chimpanzee named Stanley in hopes of teaching the beast advanced social skills. This initial storyline is set aside once the Midvale College football team is endangered due to low grades. In exchange for the acceptance of the best fraternity on campus, Merlin develops an "honest way to cheat" by implanting exam answers subliminally while the football heroes sleep. After some initial controversy, this successful method is hailed by the faculty as a perfectly legitimate escape route for terminally lazy students. Unfortunately, the football team is threatened once again when a generous endowment comes with strings attached, and the result is an end to the popular collegiate sport. Merlin is called upon to build the world's first successful man-powered flying machine, for which an even bigger cash payment will be awarded by a more football-friendly donor. Can he do it? It takes a lot of dubious science and a token song from Annette Funicello to find out, but precious little of the simian-based comedy the viewer might be expecting. After dominating the first few scenes of The Monkey's Uncle, Stanley the chimpanzee fades to the background, appearing from time to time to help Merlin out in the lab, make coffee, and chatter into the lens as punctuation to the pratfalls of his human co-stars. Veteran character actors like Frank Faylen and Leon Ames bluster nicely, but Kirk and Funicello aren't overly ambitious as the youthful leads and their fellow students fare no better. Enlightened parents may want to think twice about subjecting their children to the prehistoric gender dynamics of The Monkey's Uncle. True, Annette is a college student, but appears to be interested only in receiving her MRS degree, and supportive boyfriend Kirk says things to her like "Try to think intelligently instead of like a girl." For Beach Boys fans, the best part of The Monkey's Uncle will be the film's opening credits, in which the fab five rock a frat party with Funicello on lead vocals. While they punch out the irresistibly catchy theme tune ("Love his monkeyshines/Every day his valentine/I love the monkey's uncle and the monkey's uncle's ape for me") the camera gets an skirt-level eyeful of the dance floor and lively footage of the original pre-Pet Sounds Beach Boys with their lovely guest doing what she's best at, namely being cute and singing silly songs. It's nearly worth the price of admission. FRED BELDIN

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl 2001

Markie Post as Electra Woman in a failed bid at WB stardom ... could it be the next Heat Vision and Jack? No, but I wanna see it anyway. Get Ready To RAWK!!!!

K&K Mime Ministries

Thanks to Bryan "Bong" Ramirez for sniffin' these links out. You won't believe those evangelist mimes.

Check out the Bonger's latest jam ... Ex-Cocaine's already-obscure Keep America Mellow LP, out now on Killertree Records.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

High on Mount Rushmore

Also-rans of the San Francisco psychedelic era, Mount Rushmore gigged frequently with fellow travelers Big Brother and the Holding Company, Canned Heat and Quicksilver Messenger Service, but this debut LP is evidence enough of why they aren't held in the same esteem. Mount Rushmore pumped out competent electric boogie with a boozy edge, but they coast on distortion and attitude rather than song craft or instrumental prowess, placing them firmly in the garage band tradition but not among the trendsetters that shared their bills. The brief liner notes introduce the band as self-proclaimed "country boys" who "dig to take their funky grey truck on the road," and they sound like hicks too, full of confidence and bluster but possessing only the simplest of skills. Opening a debut LP with Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free" is a bold move and a curious choice, establishing the territory that the band will mine and exactly how they measure up to the gold standard (in Mount Rushmore's case, nowhere near). However, High On Mount Rushmore contains some tracks of interest to the dedicated psych-rock historian. "I Don't Believe In Statues" closes out side one and functions as a manifesto of sorts, an indignant outsider cry set to charging riffs that sound like an Amboy Dukes record warped by the sun. The ten-minute epic "Looking Back" scores highest in rock action, plus it features a crude but convincing space jam breakdown that boasts disoriented feedback, thunderstorm sound effects and random hippie banter floating through the atmosphere. The LP concludes with a taste of Mount Rushmore's live act, as a small but enthusiastic audience joins the band in the studio to encourage their hammier tendencies. The resultant medley includes "Dope Song," a jokey jug band-style marijuana anthem, a boneheaded, boisterous sing-along complete with kazoo and sure to irritate any hippie hater. High On suffers from tinny sonics that sap volume and tone and much of it sounds more like a demo than a finished album, but the low budget suits Mount Rushmore. In 2002, a European label called Lizard released a CD containing all of High On Mount Rushmore plus the sole follow up LP Mount Rushmore '69, but otherwise all of this obscure psych band's material has been difficult to find and not often sought out. Fans of The Up, Blue Cheer and other Aquarius Age punks might hear music in Mount Rushmore's clumsy jams, but a full-fledged renaissance is unlikely beyond a minority of collectors. FRED BELDIN

Monday, August 22, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Village People's Renaissance

Can't resist ... I always wanted to hear this and I'm glad to stumble upon it. This is of course the post-disco (yet still quite gay) Village People, trying on some New Wave costumes and sounding to these ears more than a little like the Surf Punks. In other words, pathetic. It's a long, long way from the glory days of "My Roommate" and "Hot Cop."
Los Punkrockers

A Spanish punk rock band covers the Sex Pistols album in its entirety and Strange Reaction posts the whole damn thing. It's awful, it's great, what's the difference, you should check it out.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005 - Fugitive couple fights extradition on murder charges - Aug 12, 2005

I don't care what anybody says, this is the most romantic story I've heard in a long time. The Lifetime version is gonna be a real tearjerker.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Download this legendary collection now. It might be their greatest record ever. Troy pleads for a PayPal donation if you go all the way with it, which seems fair, so do what your conscience dictates. Regardless, it's worth your while to listen.
Pretty creepy.

I found this via RAGZ DANDELION's blog. Thanks Dave!

My piece on the new Gus Van Sant film for Paste magazine ... the paper version isn't out as of now, but you can read it here for free.

I haven't been posting too often, for no discernible reason. Lethargy, mostly. Not a whole lot of news to report, but I have been busy. My writing assignments have been getting better, but the dough is still tiny. I may take a non-credit certificate course in editing at the University of Washington (four classes, three terms). Mark Lansing is getting married in the spring and he asked me to be his Best Man.

I wasn't invited to my 20-year high school reunion, but if you check out this link you'll get a good look at why I don't give a fuck. It's mostly student council types, probably some football players in there, who remembers? There's a long list of people they claim they couldn't track down, but I don't think they tried very hard. I'm on that list as "missing," but I'm easy to find. My mother has the same phone number we had in 1985 and a quick Google search on my name provides many avenues of contact for me, including Resonance magazine and this here blog (in fact, just in the past two months I've heard from old ELHC galpals like Vanessa Lucas and Sarah Stollak, this after years and years of silence, so I know it can be done). So I think this is a case of a bunch of 38 year olds throwing themselves a party, and not wanting to be bothered with former kids they didn't find desirable way back when.

It's funny, I completely forgot that the 20-year anniversary was coming, until a friend of mine here in Seattle mentioned he was going to his, so I did the math and found the info online. I'm not offended, I barely remember these people and was beyond bitterness well before I graduated. I'm simply amused that for some folks it's still high school, all these years later ...

Friday, July 22, 2005

dressed for the h bomb: Fear

Good Lord, I've been wanting to see this for over TWENTY YEARS and it's pretty fucking great. Check out FEAR on Saturday Night Live, Halloween 1981 with none other than Donald Pleasance introducing them. Thanks, John Belushi ... (and "malfeitor" from

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day, everyone ...
Modest Proposal: Review

My review of "Brother vs. Brother" gets reviewed by Modest Proposal magazine. Fair 'nuff. But believe me, boys, I'd love it if every musician interviewed in Resonance insisted on discussing the Civil War. Fuck it up, if you can, and I'll say right on. It's funny how you can be on the same side as someone and still get called a fascist.

As funny as "Brother vs. Brother" is, I still say there isn't enough to recommend this thing to anyone who won't be getting a promotional copy. It's a 30-minute in-joke filmed like a public access show, and by the half-way mark the point has been made. It sells for about $15. Any takers?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Strange Reaction � Blight
The Class Reunion Massacre

This genuinely disturbing proto-slasher is guilty of the same gaping plot-holes and cardboard characterizations as any other, but a good cast, creepy ambiance and swift pace make it an obscure gem. Filmed in the years before Halloween and Friday the 13th would ensure slavish devotion to the time-honored "Ten Little Indians" template, Class Reunion Massacre embellishes the basic body count plot with a half-baked supernatural back story, tacking on a befuddling prologue and epilogue that add a welcome absurdity. A mystical child rising out of a lake, a third thumb, divinely inspired slayings and a bloodthirsty fire-and-brimstone minister; nothing is ever adequately developed or explained, so the film becomes memorable simply for its opacity alone. Luckily, the cast don't over play what are essentially stock horror victims (avaricious attorney, good-hearted party girl, sensible lesbian, etc.), so there's real tension during the murder set-pieces, particularly a brutal ladies' room drowning featuring Jeanetta Arnette and scene-chewing psycho T.G. Finkbinder. The special effects splatter nicely, and an eerie tone plants the queasy suggestion that the filmmakers were sympathetic to the religiously-motivated maniac's horrible deeds. Fred Beldin

Saturday, June 04, 2005

My god is a prankster god
Holding out the joy buzzer as we exit the womb
Laughing, saying "sorry" and not meaning it
"You're all right, kid"
He smokes a cigar, inhales because he can
Turns Monday back into Sunday
And erases phone messages for the hell of it
My god is a prankster god
And all I know is you better learn to laugh with him
Or else none of this is ever gonna make sense

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

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An obscure band that has nonetheless attracted attention from record collectors (more for the fact of their obscurity than any other reason), Agape was a hippie-era psychedelic hard rock act that used the music of youth rebellion to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fred Caban was a young guitarist from Azusa, CA, who became a born-again Christian shortly after graduating from high school in 1968. In an effort to help evangelize his peers, Caban formed the band with bassist John Peckhart and drummer Mike Jungkman. They were one of the earliest Christian rock bands, established in a time when the music they played was still being shunned by established churches (the few they approached for concerts rejected the loud music they played, despite the message). Agape performed wherever they could, on beaches, in schools, and in parks, and released their debut album (Gospel Hard Rock) in 1971. Their sound was typical of the era, blues-based hard rock in the tradition of Cream, though the group's garage band level abilities lent the music a raw, clumsy appeal that nicely matched their lyrical sincerity. The band added keyboardist Jim Hess and released Victims of Tradition in 1972, which featured a more progressive approach, as well as a front cover that pictured the group performing in a graveyard. Several lineup changes occurred as the years progressed, but Caban kept Agape going in one form or another throughout the decade. Original copies of Agape albums are very rare today, and can fetch as much as 300 dollars from collectors due to the unique appeal of their "hippies at Sunday school" vibe. In 1996, Hidden Vision Records released a CD, called The Problem Is Sin: Live and Unreleased, that compiles demos for an unfinished third album, live performances taken from a promotional eight-track cassette that was distributed to local radio stations in 1973, and a brand new instrumental track performed by a reconstituted version of the band. Fred Beldin

Gospel Hard Rock

This early attempt to fuse the popular sounds of artists like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience with an evangelistic Christian message comes off as ham-fisted and naïve, but undeniably genuine. Agape doesn't quite live up to the "hard rock" portion of their album's title, filling most of the tracks on this debut with watery blues, lightweight guitar textures, and clumsy, half-spoken vocals. Still, they do find a few excuses to freak out on side two; "Freedom" contains some lengthy, double-tracked fuzz guitar solos and "Choose" features a thick, galloping Grand Funk Railroad-style approach during the instrumental sections. The album's closer, "Rejoice," begins as a disturbing reading from Revelations set to eerie psychedelia — all discordant strings scrape over a slinky, sinister vamp, eventually bursting into heavy riffing and a rousing chorus of "Read your Bible!" Singer/songwriter/guitarist Fred Caban was definitely preaching to the converted, delivering frankly simplistic testimony and borrowed Biblical passages stitched together with awkward sincerity. In the turbulent era that Gospel Hard Rock was recorded, it might have helped the group's cause to directly address some of the spiritual crises that their youthful audience was facing rather than just parroting doctrine and language that hippies had already decided they couldn't accept. Perhaps because of this veneer of innocence, original copies of Agape's albums are highly sought after by record collectors, sometimes commanding up to 300 dollars apiece from entirely secular fans. Fred Beldin

See also: Hidden Vision: Agape

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday, May 13, 2005

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Looking out the window, a pair of homeless-by-choice post-teens. A big, baby-faced thug with a shaved head pushing a shopping cart full of pillows and clothes. Perched atop is the most beautiful girl he'll ever be with, a filthy former cheerleader who just woke up in the park, stoned and barefoot with a stylish cigarette in one hand, riding like royalty and having the time of her life. Her loyal subject looks tired, but exhilarated.

Monday, May 09, 2005

"The war will wage in my guts
Til the devil bites the dust
I never saw him losing a race, but I think he must."

We got Heart Food by Judee Sill this weekend ... quite stunning. Think the best of Joni Mitchell without all the ostentatious trills and jangle, a somber female late-career Phil Ochs, a dark set of songs with glimmering redemption just a few feet out of reach. Former prostitute, oscillating junkie, only two albums completed in her lifetime which were (obviously) too heavy for the marketplace of the early 1970s, then dead of a Mexican overdose at age 34.

There's some good unreleased demos & such you can check out here if that sounds good at all. Do it, I sez.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Softcore Pornography.
OK, til I give enough of a damn to fix 'em, I'm wiping the comments feature off altogether. I'll have to reinstall eventually, at my leisure.

Saw the film ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, it's gonna be the hot indie sensation of the summer so brace yourself for Miranda July. It's as good as the hype, and next week or so I get to interview Ms. July, so I'll let you know if she's a phony.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Garage Hangover

I dare you to download "What A Way To Die" and not suddenly want to get totally drunk. Do it, now.

Friday, April 29, 2005

So it's a fact now, Hasil Adkins is dead. A nasty way to go for a still-young man.
Best tribute so far online is here ...

Sex Kittens Compare Scratches

Download and savor "No More Hot Dogs," my favorite Haze track of all time.

Once Soren busted up a small gathering I was hosting in my Lansing, MI duplex apartment by suddenly grabbing his guitar and launching into a full-lunged version of "No More Hot Dogs" round midnight. The neighbors were on the phone within minutes but it was worth it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

All you chumps I know in the mudwest have been whining girl-style about the weather God's been dumping on you lately, but here in Seattle the weekend was beautiful, the first true spring feeling of the year and Lori and I took full advantage. Saturday we took a long, long walk to Ballard, where I cashed in a gift certificate at Sonic Boom (local CD/record outfit), courtesy the Resonance Corporation. I had planned on using the windfall to snap up something new, something modern, because even as I try to keep up with "what's happening," I rarely shell out for the latest great record. I figured I'd leaf through the stacks, pick up a couple fresh In The Red/Goner/Sympathy discs and see if any of them have any staying power. But as usual, I remain mired in the past ... I ended up with 13th Floor Elevator and Love records, plus a great comp of Black Power soul with selected moments of speeches from Malcolm X, Huey Newton and other righteous brothers.

To continue ...

At the recd store I ran into Eric Kohler, a guy I knew over a decade ago in East Lansing, a former backcook at El Azteco that some of you might remember. He's a carpenter here in Seattle now, has a fledgling garagerock band and he joined the old lady and me for a few drinks mid-afternoon. A nice surprise for sure.

Also got the amazing F FOR FAKE to review for Resonance, so I dug that for a while Saturday night. The last film Orson Welles finished, a wild, unpredictable documentary about an art forger ... as good as CITIZEN KANE sez I, more profound, anyway. Criterion is releasing it as a double DVD package, it's worth a weekend rental for sure.

Sunday we were up early and spent most of the day doing a spirited spring clean, swapping furniture from room to room and creating a lot more space for ourselves. Did some rare shopping for clothes at Red Light (which is right around the corner) and scored, finally. I nabbed a choice cowboy shirt, black with descending eagles as the lapel design, and it fits my sagging frame just right. Most always the good stuff is too tight, fit only for the tiniest twentysomething hipster ... this time the old man gets the prize.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Now, my take ...

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All Movie Guide: Whodunit

Whodunit? (aka Island of Blood) is a lousy but creative body count picture that occasionally transcends generic shortcomings thanks to an always-entertaining level of absurdity. A movie producer assembles a cast of cliché twentysomethings (soulful folkie, African-American dancer, talentless rich girl, sullen punk, etc.) and brings them to an isolated island to make an upbeat, inspirational youth film. Before shooting can commence, an unknown maniac starts picking them off one by one, using the lyrics of a violent rock song for inspiration. The noisy, repetitious New Wave number encourages the listener to "Burn me, burn me, burn me/Face to face" or "Chop me, chop me, chop me/Face to face," with enough verses to ensure unique demises for at least seven victims. When a slasher film opens the festivities with a a young man being boiled alive in a swimming pool, it's a good sign that the proceedings will continue on an offbeat path, and Whodunit? delivers an exploding boat, a battery acid shower, a graphic chainsaw dismemberment and the old stand-by mid-coitus machete stabbing. Like most of its brethren, Whodunit? suffers from redundancy and too many scenes in dark, shadowy spaces, and the eventual revelation of the killer's identity is particularly stupid. Still, slumming horror mavens will have a good time if this obscurity crosses their path. - Fred Beldin

Of course, the last word should always go to an expert, in this case the exhaustive slasher film database Hysteria Lives!
My word of the day.

My film of the day is Island of Blood, aka Whodunit?, for which I am currently finishing a review. However, I doubt that I'll be able to explain the film's charms better than "Slasher Reviewer," a commenter to the IMDB website, so I'll let him take it from here while I go back to work ...

"I've had this movie for quite some time under the title WhoDunIt and found it under Scarred Alive recently and is also known as Island Of Blood? So be warned you may think your getting 3 really cool movies but your really getting 1. This movie is awesome and a must have for a slasher fan. Anyone that disagrees should go stuff there head in the toilet and flush it about 666 times! Great gore, great 80's music what more can you ask for? I love the tape recorder that the killer leaves at all his murders with the songs playing, "kill me" "burn me" etc...Just a great movie if you like the Friday The 13th series and other mainstream slash and hack films. This flick is in my favorite 20 slasher movies for all the right reasons..Unique kill scenes, naked chicks, and dead bodies everywhere!!!Slasher reviewer gives this one all his thumbs up!!!Killer!!!"

Friday, April 15, 2005

"What? You gonna put poison in my coffee?"

"Yep! And you'll die!"

"No, I won't. I'm an inter-dimensional being, who transcends time and space; the laws of psychics that apply to you don't apply to me."

Well, I'll tell ya, THAT shut him up. Based upon my intelligent observational skills, I determined that he was boasting. But not for long ...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

In honor of Soren Davis' 40th birthday ...

"Haircut Stomp" by the Family Haircut

MP3 File

There's no better compliment you can pay a friend than to steal an MP3 right off his website and post it on your own, and this is what I have done. To be honest, it's not the first time I've done it. I hit a really rough patch in my life last fall and most of my blog posts during that time were plagiarized directly from Soren's archives. No one noticed, or at least everyone had the grace not to call me on it.

But this is a great fucking song from a godammn good band that never put out anything while they walked the earth of Chicago back around the turn of the century. Most no one ever heard of the Family Haircut, and until Soren becomes the basis for some arcane musicology thesis 100 years from now, the band might remain mere memory, so here's the best number to suggest their charms. One chord, one idea, one more crazed Soren Davis performance. And that wah-wah solo, it's perfect. The stage is coated in beer from the very first stomp of Soren's foot, he hollers something about his train transfer for a while, a call and response mysteriously begins ... quite a fucking workout.

Anyhow, it's Soren's birthday, so drink a 40 to his memory. Uh, I mean honor. What's the one for when you're not dead?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Talking Jesus, Mary and Moses dolls due to go on sale in May - Apr. 12, 2005

Good LORD this is fucking stupid. When The Man can sell blasphemy to the children of the faithful, we're all doomed to the lake of fire.

And I hereby forbid the further use of numerals to replace prepositions. This means you too, Troy Gregory. I don't care if you're a genius or not, just quit it.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Check out "Hot Butter N' All." Amazing.

Monday, April 04, 2005


Got a new "client" (if that's the word) ... after six months Paste Magazine returned my initial email and I conned my way into reviewing THE NOMI SONG for their summer issue. It's a damn good movie if you have any interest in the subject (which I do), nicely constructed and full of long lost clips. So they'll be getting 150 words on Klaus Nomi from me by the end of the week, and here's hoping I can parlay the assignment into bigger and better things, like some music coverage ... they're big on Torch & Twang-style stuff, so once again my interest in sheer noise terror and outsider weirdos will have to be repressed (speaking of which).

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What makes a man start fires?

Better gear up for at least three months worth of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, because this latest teenage atrocity is bound to throw pundits into a self-satisfied bluster. It seemed like school massacres were out of fashion, like Marilyn Manson or the Spice Girls, but there's one thing that the human race will never conquer and that's simple madness. What can you say about a 17 year old who kills his own grandparents and figures he's got nothing to lose so why not fuck up all those assholes at school too? Was he just nuts? Did he follow a dark path he'll be paying for eternally? Or is he the same as any of us, ready to become a monster whenever one of our synapses misfires or the pesticides in our breakfast cereal react badly with our allergy medicine?

At what point does evil, the conscious choice of wrong over right, cross over into insanity, a human being overcome by brain chemistry and frustration? Too often I fear we're all just slippery, stinking bags of chemicals at the mercy of biology without the sentient souls we like to pretend we have. Will God have mercy on a man who hears voices and does what they tell him? Will Jeffery Weise go to hell for his actions? No one yet understands exactly what triggered this latest Columbine, so I'm not basing this rambling ramble on anything other than my own obsession with the nature of our thoughts and decisions. It would be nice to believe that each man has the choice to either create or destroy, to strive for good or succumb to evil, but it gets harder to swallow with every year I live.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Hey, has anyone else noticed that Mobil commercial that used a bowlderized version of the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" as background muzak? How do you all feel about being a fucking demographic?

It's been a lethargic weekend, notable only for ... for ... well, I guess I saw a good movie on Saturday night, Alone In The Dark, which features Martin Landau and Jack Palance as psycho killers on the loose. Hell yeah, what a cast, right? It's probably not so easy to find, but it's worth hunting for, a real laff riot and actually scary to boot. Donald Pleasance is on hand as a pot-smoking psychiatrist, "Murdock" from the old A-Team series is the nominal hero and there's a quickie appearance from the Sic Fucks as well doing their deathless hit "Chop Up Your Mother."

I love you all.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Finally, some recognition.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Program Details for Preventing the Spread of Disease

Hello to everyone who might actually check this thing from time to time. I've been working on and off, here and there, once in a while on this article for Resonance about ephemeral films and really haven't had words to spare here. Everything's pretty cool around Seattle, tho ... Lori and I are very happy and in love in our relatively swanky slightly hi-rise apartment on University Way where the vivacious energy of the street junkies and boozy tough boys enlivens our spirits whenever they threaten to ebb.

After tonight I'll be basically done with this fucking thing. Til then, check out another great, weird health-ed film circa 1940. We can discuss its importance another time.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Friday, February 04, 2005

Happy Birthday John Carradine

Check out my Film Threat tribute to everybody's favorite actor, John Carradine, who turns 99 years old today.

Monday, January 31, 2005

My "life" is a little more settled now than in recent days. I spent two weeks working on a book proposal for a publisher who made the mistake of showing reserved interest in a concept Mark Deming and I have been knocking around. I don't think they're gonna bite; it's not exactly up their alley and I can only assume that the proposal I sent was not up to industry standard snuff (it was my first attempt at one, after all, I hardly know what I'm doing). The best we can hope for is a speedy rejection, so we can retool the thing and send it off to someone who might be more inclined to actually publish it.

Anyhow, that consumed me but good for two weeks, and last weekend was spent trying to catch up on other projects. I finished writing my celebration of the great John Carradine, who will turn 99 years old this Saturday (don't bother sending a card, he's dead), so check for that on this weekend. I also spent time on an article I'm writing about ephemeral film (by which I mean gory old drivers' ed films, military propaganda, industrial training films and the like) for the next issue of Resonance and I've interviewed Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Archives and two fellas who run something called the Found Film Festival. Tonight I begin transcribing and hoping my 45 minutes worth of taped conversations start turning into a story.

It's my mother's birthday today. Like every year, I celebrate this day by respecting her privacy and not calling her or cluttering up her mailbox with gifts.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Sadness is all around me
The road ahead is cheerless
The past seems to be a dream
Which torments my sore heart
Looking at this dreary landscape
I wish I could forget
Love and faithlessness
But my memory is my enemy
And it keeps the past awake
Coachman, don't ride
The horses so hard
I have nowhere to rush
I have no one to love
So don't drive so fast

(from A Treasury of Russian Gypsy Songs)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Hail, Flaster

Out of the fuckin' blue, ol' Scott Flaster (late of the Actionaries and Small Brown Bike, now rocking Chicago in Gasoline Fight) gives us a call last weekend and before we know it, Lori and I are drinking multiples with Stinky and his lovely bride Cara. They were in town for a brief getaway from the Wind to the Rain, and we jawed for hours. It was refreshing to see someone of the old school, although Flaster's beard has grown to intervention level and the sight of his head entirely covered in orange fuzz was disturbing.

We had such a good time with the Flasters that Lori and I decided on a midnight run to the local hot tub place (cleverly monikered "Tubz"). We frolicked for an expensive hour while listening to disc 2 of the Rhino No Thanks! compilation. Nothing like making out with your wife in a hot tub with "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" blaring.

Dig Scott's new record label: Seventh Rule Records

And rock band: Gasoline Fight

Monday, January 17, 2005

Americans are Fuckin' Hilarious.

Download and Behold My Japan

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I daresay this is the coolest website of all time.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


A long-lost former associate (Mike Boyd, ex of Lapeer County Rockers for those in the know) is trying to make it big in Nashville and has been including a few Clutters songs in his repertoire. Yeah, yeah, I know, he's insane, doesn't realize just how much bad luck and bad karma is associated with those numbers. Anyhow, he wants to gain the performance rights for two of these songs I wrote, and publish them under the umbrella of his publishing company, just to make everything official and professional and all.

Anyone know anything at all about how this process works? I trust this guy (and his crazy ol' dad, who appears to be acting as his manager), so it's not a matter of worrying about being ripped off by him, it's every other motherfucker in the music biz that I'm suspicious of. If anyone has any essential advice, please pass it on. These songs sure aren't making me any money right now, so I really have nothing to lose, I just wanna make sure my name stays attached to them all the way down the line.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

"Depression is the only filler for the emptiness." - The Dave Hill

Anyone with whereabouts for the aforementioned sage should contact me pronto. Mr. Hill was for many years my guru, the holy fool who could always put things into perspective. My guess is that he's re-shaved his head, given up and gone back to school, probably the only safe place for him. Either that or he's fallen off one too many roofs and is panhandling somewhere in California, terrifying well-groomed passersby with rants so mad they can only be the truth. Whatever, as long as he's not singing anymore ...

The holiday was a blur, a necessary blur that was indeed relaxing but I didn't catch up on any writing to speak of. As soon as I was back to the temp gig I found myself shaking nervously, mind racing about everything I wasn't going to be able to accomplish after a full day of numbness. I just don't have the energy level I used to ... a natural enough phenom, but I don't seem to have more than 5 or 6 good hours in a day, and I hate having to use them up punching numbers into databases. By the time I get home I can either take care of chores or try to write (and the words don't always come). I'm cutting way back on the intoxicants to facilitate a healthier body and, theoretically, mind, but so far I'm as sluggish and dazed as ever. Nothing is worse than waking up with a hangover when you haven't had a drink in three days.