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  1. Finally, somebody else has stepped up to the plate. Hopefully, we'll see a nice little battle between Sinner and Alcaraz for the year-end No.1.
  2. I've been reading the first volume that Fantagraphics put out.
  3. This week I've been reading Castle Waiting by Linda Medley. It truly is the most delightful book I've read in a long time. In fact, it's the most excited I've been about comics since I discovered Strangehaven and Age of Bronze. It reminds me of when I first discovered the early issues of Bone and bought the first trade paperback with the Great Cow Race. Beautiful black and white cartooning and a pure joy to read. I was so absorbed in the story that I put everything else aside this week and only read Castle Waiting. Loved every single panel. Check this out if you enjoy enchanting storytelling.
  4. Congratulations to the Celtics. A model of perseverance, teamwork and selflessness.
  5. This hit me harder than expected. RIP, Jerry.
  6. How do you feel about the 2001 Lakers who went 56-26 and then dominated the playoffs with their 15-1 record?
  7. If the Celtics win the chip are they going to get the credit they deserve as a historically dominant team?
  8. Mmm, Mandom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chnXo839XVs
  9. I've been listening to a lot of Manu Dibango this week. He is mostly known for his international hit, Soul Makossa, which was covered by a bunch of artists in the 70s, but he has an interesting discography beyond that song. Interestingly, while Soul Makossa encouraged United States recording artists to incorporate more African sounds into their music, Dibango borrowed quite heavily from American funk music and later in the 80s even tried to incorporate an electronic sound similar to Herbie Hancock with Rockit. Listening to a bunch of Dibango records let me down a jazz-funk rabbit hole and now I'm on a Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes kick.
  10. Roger Corman Appreciation Night -- Not of This Earth (1957) Corman was hugely prolific during the period where he worked for American-International Pictures, churning out 9 films in 1957 and another 9 in 1958. The pick of the crop was this highly entertaining sci-fi horror film about an alien visitor to Earth who constantly requires blood transfusions to survive. Shot on a shoe-string budget with plenty of dodgy day-for-night shots, Corman excels at maintaining a tight narrative focus. Paul Birch is eerily convincing as the alien visitor, who uses mental telepathy to control his victims' minds and has piercing eyes that burn right through a man's skull. The film is not without sympathy for Birch's character, whose home world appears to have been devastated by nuclear war, but ultimately there are allusions made to emotionless, foreign invaders and there's no prizes for guessing where they came from in the 1950s. The film is tightly focused until the end, and there is a terrific climax and resolution, which is another reason why this is a cut above the typical B-films of the era. Great stuff.
  11. Jokic vs. Gobert was vintage Dream/Robinson.
  12. Bill Nelson's Chimera... this was an outstanding new romantic synthpop record. May be one of my favorite records of the year, EP or otherwise. Yukihiro Takahashi of Yellow Magic Orchestra collaborated with Nelson on several of the tracks and at times this feels like an extension of the Naughty Boys record I loved so much. Great record. The Human League's Fascination! -- speaking of New Romantics, it's The Human League. The Human League were under immense pressure from their record label to produce a follow up to their Dare album and released this EP as a stop gap measure. It's a credible effort. I prefer the tracks where Phil Oakey sings lead vocals and the girls do backup vocals, but I can see how the alternating vocalists may be appealing to others. Fall of Saigon's Fall of Saigon... I have mixed feelings about minimal synth. I can enjoy it as background music if I'm in a relaxed enough mood, but if I want to put on a record and get a hit of something, it doesn't really do the trick. This was another group with alternating male and female vocalists. The pair produced quite different sounding tracks. I preferred the female vocalist, whose tracks were built around haunting melodies. The male vocalist's tracks were closer to art pop. Children's Hour's Flesh... this was a Kiwi post-punk and whose members went on to form The Headless Chickens, a band I'm much more familiar with having watched a lot of Kiwi music TV in the 90s. Not a bad record this. Outside of the Dunedin sound, this was one of the most interesting records to come out in NZ in 1983. Mecht Mensch's Acceptance... low fi hardcore record. Some pretty intense thrashing. They slow things down at times before lashing out again. I quite liked the vocals on this.
  13. Subhumans' Time Flies... But Aeroplanes Crash... I liked this better than the previous Subhumans EP. A bit more variety. They even try to stretch their talents with a piano number. Let's Active's Afoot... if there's one thing I've learned from this crazy, stupid project of mine it's that I'm a fussy listener when it comes to jangle pop. I absolutely love jangle pop. At least I thought I did. Apparently, I don't have much time for second tier jangle pop. I can imagine more loyal fans of the genre getting more out of this EP than I did. Let's Active were Mitch Easter's band. Easter did production on R.E.M.'s Murmur and Reckoning albums and was gunning for a similar sound. He gets there at times, but vocally he's no Michael Stipe. The Alarm's The Alarm... The Alarm do this interesting Bob Dylan meets punk & new wave thing on this EP that they didn't really do their debut LP, which was more of a Big Music record. Interesting is always good. Armored Saint's Armored Saint... some people claim that this group was America's answer to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. If that's the case, it's a pretty half-arsed answer. The guitar work is good, and they have a good rhythm section, but they were never getting anywhere with the vocals. IIRC, the lead singer went on to sing for Anthrax. Savage Grace's The Dominatress... another LA metal band trying to copy the European sound. Sexy album cover notwithstanding, this is a fairly weak imitation of Euro metal. The vocals are better than Armored Saint, but when you consider what other groups were doing in different parts of America, they probably would have been better off trying to do their own thing. The Body Electric's Presentation and Reality... another forgotten New Zealand record. This was Wellington group trying to go full tit with a new wave, post-punk, synth pop sound. Not bad, but personally when I listen to a New Zealand record I want to hear something Kiwi from it, not some dude trying to sound like he's on Top of the Pops. Overkill's Power in Black... Overkill are one of my favorite metal bands from the 80s. This EP was a demo. It sounds like a demo, especially under headphones, but the energy is there. L.S.D.'s Destroy... perhaps not the best hardcore EP to come out of Japan, but I liked the barreling sound. It actually reminded me of Japanese speed metal. The Style Council's À Paris... I've got to admit that Long Hot Summer is growing on me as a single. The rest of the EP is decent as well. If their debut LP had been a bit stronger they might have weathered some of the criticism better. Or perhaps not since Weller as a God in many people's eyes.
  14. H-Bomb's Coup de métal... this EP kicks ass. H-Bomb didn't record a ton of stuff before broke up, but this EP and their 1984 Attaque LP are some blistering French metal. This gets my highest recommendation if you're even slightly interested in metal from '83. The Sisters of Mercy's The Reptile House E.P. -- goth rock is distinctly not my thing, but I can listen to it. This EP, however, was slow. Really slow. United Mutation's Fugitive Family... it always used to amuse me how metal bands came up with their names. It was like they scribbled down a bunch of badass words and drew them from a hat. Now I'm thinking that hardcore band names may be even more amusing. Then again, based on some of these guys' lifestyles some of these names may not be a joke. This is a pretty cool hardcore record that is notable for its vocals. The grunting sounds close to Sakevi from G.I.S.M. Not sure if that was an influence. Amebix's No Sanctuary... these guys would go on to become crust punk legends. Here, they were just starting out. Sounds a bit like early Killing Joke. Mindless Sinners' Master of Evil... Mindless Sinners were a short-lived Swiss group that played fairly typical Euro metal. Worth checking out if you're on a Diamond Head kick and feel like unearthing a largely forgotten band with a similar sound. 3 Teens Kill 4's No Motive... quirky record from New York City's No Wave scene. The band only released this single EP. Very artsy, for want of a better word. Having read some Hip Hop Family Tree recently it's impossible not to notice the hip hop influence. Discharge's Warning: Her Majesty's Government Can Seriously Damage Your Health EP... there's no beating around the bush with this EP title. There's also a lovely drawing of Mrs. Thatcher on the cover. Their fans see this as a drop-off from their previous material, and they would continue to drop further, but I liked this well enough. It's slower and has more of a metal sound, but I'm ok with that. The Nurse's Nurse... all-girl Japanese hardcore band. Like you're gonna resist. It's fairly catchy as you can imagine. Worth checking out if you like Shonen Knife or the 5.6.7.8's. Adrenalin O.D.'s Let's Barbeque... very suburban sounding hardcore record. I don't know if really was a bunch of neighborhood teenagers jamming together but that's the aesthetic. Vixen's Made in Hawaii... how could beautiful, serene Hawaii produce this pulsating speed metal record? Wasn't a big fan of the female vocalist, but the guitar sound was awesome. Gotham City's Black Writs... decent Swedish metal, but the vocalist had no chops. Wretched's In nome del loro potere tutto è stato fatto... Christ almighty, you have to be brave to listen to this one. It felt like a pair of arms were climbing out of the speakers and shaking me senseless. The Nits' Kilo... this band keeps confusing me. I love some of the singles I've heard from them, but it doesn't seem to come together on their records. At least not for me. Francesco De Gregori's La donna cannone... nice change of pace. Basically, Italian singer-songwriter doing contemporary folk. Nice break from all the hardcore EPs from '83. The Embarassment's Death Travels West... okay, now here's a bit of a discovery for me. And I really mean for me as others like Robert Christgau have championed this short-lived group. Really upbeat, enjoyable post-punk record. Probably owes more to the late 70s than being a true 1983 record, but it made me want to listen to the rest of the group's output. The discovery of the week.
  15. Antidote's Thou Shall Not Kill... pretty cool New York hardcore album. Manages to be angry but rhythmic at the same time. New York had an amazing music scene in 1983 and this is a nice little slice of what the punks were up to. The Scientists' Blood Red River.. Punk blues EP from Australia. Sounds like they could have opened for The Birthday Party. Pretty cool. Deep Wound's Deep Wound... decent little thrashcore EP from the guys who'd go onto form Dinosaur Jr. Big Black's Bulldozer... I can't remember if I've listened to much Big Black, but this was the EP where they found their footing. Lyrically, the songs aren't as controversial as the records that followed. It's really the guitar sound that they begin to develop here. Art of Noise's Into Battle With the Art of Noise... this is an early sample-based electronic EP that is pretty much off the hook. Dudes going crazy with the technology in 1983. Jag Panzer's Jag Panzer... also known as Tyrants, this is honest to goodness US Power Metal. Has my full respect. Cause for Alarm's Cause for Alarm... another New York hardcore record. I quite like the New York sound. It's fast and furious, but music you can head bang to if so inclined. Say Yes to Apes' Who's That... this is a New Zealand record I had no idea existed. The front man is the actor Kevin Smith, who played Ares in Xena and Hercules. I met him when I was a teenager. I'd been jumped by a bunch of guys and they'd bottled me, and I met Smith in a gas station. I was bleeding from the top of my head and asked him for a lift home. He declined. He couldn't really sing but it was a post-punk record so that didn't matter much. Had no idea he was in a band in the early 80s. Tall Dwarfs' Canned Music... this is a group with a much bigger rep in New Zealand as they were a key figure in the Dunedin sound. Plenty of weird loops and random samples. These guys were inventing indie rock in the most isolated corner of the world. Good stuff.
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