Friday, 21 June 2019

Aw mom, you're just jealous, it's the Beastie Boys Book

Trust me, you've never read anything like it.

There's thousands of band/artist autobiographies out there and sometimes it feels like I've read them all, but this book is truly one of kind. Close to 600 pages long, it's not just the fascinating story of a truly unique band - it's also the story of New York City at the end of punk and the beginning of hip hop, a story of growing up in public, a story about artistic integrity and navigating the trappings of fame and, most of all, a story about friendship.

Chock-full of hilarious anecdotes and touching reminiscences, mostly written by Adam Horowitz and Michael Diamond but with the ghost of Adam Yauch floating over every page, it also features many guest contributors associated with the band in various ways: Author Jonathan Lethem, the band's original and ousted drummer Kate Schellenbach (later of Luscious Jackson), directors Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson, comedian Amy Poehler and others offer their own take on aspects of the Beastie Boys' career. There are many laugh-out-loud moments here, my favorite one probably being a prank Yauch played on Horowitz that started in 1992 with the punchline delivered 15 years later. Oh, and their 2007 gig in Athens gets its own chapter, thanks to the assholes who ruined that year's Ejekt Festival and set fire to the band's dressing room.

Read this book now. Or, alternatively, buy the audiobook where Horowitz and Diamond are joined by the voices of Snoop Dogg, Kim Gordon, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Bette Midler, Rosie Perez, Will Farrell, Bobby Cannavale, Reverend Run and dozens of others.

If you're a fan, this book is everything you've ever wanted. If your relationship with the Beasties is limited to the basics, you'll still enjoy it immensely. Right now, it's my favorite book ever.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2019

BARONESS – Gold & Grey
Their magnum opus and one of the best metal albums you’ll hear this year. (9)

BILL CALLAHAN – Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

Ex-Smog mainman and legendary indie rock Casanova (he has dated Joanna Newsom, Cat Power and a bunch of other high-profile female musicians) on low-key, quiet songs about settling down, sung in his trademark baritone voice. It’s OK, not great, but will get 9/10 and above from nerdy music critics with no romantic life of their own. (7)


The boss replaces the E-Street Band with strings and goes for a Burt Bacharach/Glen Campbell vibe. Solid songwriting and top-notch storytelling, as always. (8)


14 years since they released an EP together, Americana heroes collaborate again for a new album. Fans of both acts will enjoy. (8)

EAGLES OF DEATH METAL – EODM Presents Boots Electric: Performing The Best Songs We Never Wrote

A bunch of cover versions even sillier than the band’s name. (6)


Having Chuck E. Weiss as a mentor must have been a VERY interesting way to enter the music business but Eleni has always had her own voice, and after 11 albums it has evolved into a strange but interesting hybrid of folk, pop, jazz and slowcore. (7)


American folklorist unearths and modernizes a bunch of traditional tunes on his third album. (7)


This South Korean band plays the exact opposite of K-pop – a thrilling, epic mix of post-rock and metal with traditional Korean instruments that ends up halfway between Godspeed You! Black Emperor and, well, Emperor. (8)


Celtic-tinged traditional metal without being Thin Lizzy karaoke. Better than the Bible Of The Devil album by the way, just saying since the two bands are linked in more ways than one. (8)


Their first album sort of sucked, the second ruled. Their third album sort of sucked, the fourth ruled. Their fifth album sort of sucked, this is the sixth and of course it rules – a true return to epic punk rock form. (8)

WARRIOR SOUL – Rock ’N’ Roll Disease

The band still rocks like a motherfucker but decades of debauchery have taken their toll on Kory Clarke’s voice – he used to sound like a punk Marianne Faithfull, now he sounds like a punk Marianne Faithfull being choked to death while suffering from bronchitis. (7)