by Tom Hallett
I never thought I’d start a column talking about the weather- the last, yawn-inducing bore of a conversation-maker that usually spells the end of a chat for me. So it fuckin’ rained last night- who gives a rat’s ass? Hurricanes? Old news. Snow in Southern California? Frost in Florida? Heavy flooding in Hawaii? Ho fuckin’ hum. But over the past few days, the weather has been increasingly wending its way into not only the conversations around me, but actually welling up and carrying me into its wild, bestial heart.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It keeps you fit- the alcohol, nasty women, sweat on stage, bad food- it’s all very good for you.”- Bon
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad”-
last night, for instance. Bored and left with the ravaged aftermath of a particularly
brutal house party, I decided to stroll on up to my local for a quick one and
the comforting company of some almost-strangers. As I left the house, the skies
began to light up with hot streaks of white lightning, thunder rolled ominously,
and tiny pitter patters of rain lit upon my leather jacket. I considered chucking
the idea and just stayin’ home with the three brews I had stashed in the
vegetable drawer of my fridge, but decided to brave the elements and sally forth.
I was just over a block away from the bar when the loudest, most sinister thunder
strike I’d ever heard cracked the night sky with an almost sonic boom.
Lightning began flashing all around me, and the skies opened up and poured down
their sooty, poisoned cargo. For a moment, I thought about ducking under a nearby
tree and waiting out the downpour, but a strange feeling came over me and I
did exactly the opposite. I threw back my head, opened my jacket, and took that
rain straight in the face. I dared the lightning to burn me alive, laughed at
the thunder as it roared its fury and frustration, and slowed my pace to a near
crawl. When I dripped my way through the door of the pub, nobody seemed to notice
just another thirsty, half-drowned street rat in black leather elbowing his
way through the crowd. I bought a drink, filled the juke (all sad songs) with
filthy lucre, and sat watching the rain, randomly blinking away my own pointless,
unbidden tears in time with those fat, lonely droplets.
When I woke up this morning, I had an e-mail in my box from a good friend who
lives near St. Paul. He’d just written to say hi, thank me for some shit
I’d done a few weeks back, and give me his usual good-natured razzing.
None of this would seem too out of the ordinary, but this time out, considering
the night I’d just experienced, my buddy had the oddest suggestion for
Knowing that I’d been DJ’ing a few nights a week at a local club,
he had come up with the following plan for me: “I saw this program about
storm chasers on TV, down in Tornado-Ville, right where you live. I think you
should get a truck, a new turntable, some albums with songs about storms, drive
right into a tornado while playing your favorite storm songs, and see what happens.
I bet you could find hidden songs that were never even put on the albums. I
know if your intent was good (i.e. heart in the right place), you wouldn’t
get a scratch- and you would be inspired by nature’s power and the glory
of it all. Well, just a thought. I see you being the next great musical storm
chaser, and after you drive into that tornado, who knows what Midwestern town
you would land in? You would be like a mix of David Bowie and Dorothy from The
Wizard Of Oz- just a completely new approach to music and the forces of nature.
Just think about it, Tommy ... dreaming is free, and so is the weather. And
a tornado’s force could spin records really fast ...”
Well, I’m taking that advice to heart tonight, bro. The wind is raging,
tornadoes are tearing across the Midwest like the wrath of some ancient Native
American gods, the gutters are full and engorged with the spat-out refuse of
our used up world, and it looks like a great fucking night to run an extension
cord out to the porch, plug in my extra turntable, throw on some kickass albums,
and laugh once again in the face of nature’s fury. And as the press kit
for the band I’m reviewing this week suggests, I won’t cry- I’ll
roar. Thanks, Danny. The first song will be for you, brother ...
Middlepicker Brings The Nasty
Royalty, Etc. Records
was always a bit taken aback that Middlepicker
axeman Kyle Kosieracki’s first big local project- the skronk-a-riffic
Grickle-Grass- never quite caught the fancy of other local writers. I mean,
hell, they wrote probably the best song ever commenting on the evil Telecommunications
Act that effectively destroyed radio in America, “Disney On Ice.”
I’ll never forget that damning, oh-so-true line: “And I know that
everybody’s got their vices/ Some people buy clothes at ridiculous prices/
But I’ve got a feeling that if Walt was still alive/ We’d still
have our good old REV 105 ...”
Well, thankfully, KK is back with Middlepicker, a project he started a few
years back in cahoots with producer/rocker extraordinaire Mike Wisti, and this
time he’s brought that snarling, righteous fury to a whole batch of killer
new tracks. Middlepicker (KK and Bill Zastera on guitars, Kristen Anderson on
bass and Justin Lawson on drums) spouts the same anti-asshole sentiment that
GG did, but with five years or so more pain, frustration, and hard-won wisdom
behind their wall of buzzing, howling guitars.
Kicking off with the driving, insanely catchy riff of “Subtle Sway,”
... Brings The Nasty immediately stakes its musical ground- songs that
rage, roar and rant with such a palpable sense of loss and sorrow that you don’t
know whether to raise your fists to the heavens (like that old duffer in Caddyshack-
what a way to go!!) and dare the gods to fuck with you or bow your head in abject
defeat and just let the whole fucking mess that is life today slosh over you
and carry you away.
though, Middlepicker manages to rouse not only their own inherent, soul-deep
rebellion, but yours. “Last Of The True Detectives” slams out of
the gate like a cross between a lost Fugazi track and the best fucking live
Superchunk performance ever captured on tape. Wisti’s magic touch is all
over this album- the sonic blast of guitars, solid bottom ends, and urgent vocals
are mixed to perfection, bringing live faves like “The Nasty” to
splendid, nearly overwhelming clarity. Besides, how could I resist a song that
urges, “Keep your finger on the Pulse ...?”
There simply isn’t a bad cut on this record, but my standout fave is the
angst-ridden, fuck-it-all, visceral gut-punch of “Hark!” Listening
to lines like, “Hark! Moving at the speed of Dark/ Backwards from the
point of the start/ Remember when you gave it the spark/ Said that you’d
never part ... is it just a bad dream?” makes me realize just how deep
KK and the gang have taken me inside of their own dream- and how closely it
resembles my own. This album is destined to find ears not only outside the Midwest,
but across the universe. Me? My only regret is that I don’t have it on
vinyl, because it would make the perfect soundtrack to the storm raging outside
my window and in the darkest depths of my soul. Oh well, who said I couldn’t
play one CD? Crank this one up, way up ...
That’s it for this week, folks. Tune in again for more of the same next
time out. Until then- make yer own damn weather- and news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events you’d like to see mentioned
in this space, or you’d just like to encourage me to hold a long metal
pole above my head during the next lightning storm, send replies to: Tmygunn777@peoplepc.com.