Well, well, well… Christian Fitness outdid itself – thrice!
“This Taco Is Not Correct” is quite simply, not right. Possibly a few bricks shy of a full load, and definitely not paddling with both oars in the water. Christian Fitness is coming straight at you with a rusty butcher knife in one hand and a roll of duct tape in the other whilst seeking direction from Miss Manners on the proper etiquette for killing. Yet, as is always true of this band, the insanity is only insane if you don’t believe in the message. They call out dark truths, whistling into mad corners others choose to run past. If band lyrics could walk, you’d avoid eye contact and hastily cross the street when coming up on Christian Fitness.
Fuck it, why not all of them. Who am I, a critic? Decide for yourself as the influences are all over the place, and yet lovingly adopted as its own. But do take care to create an ambience for listening in your favorite (un)safe space, splay yourself across the floor (preferably a surface that carries vibration well), get into or take something that gives you comfort and pain simultaneously. Ready yourself for a feedback distortion baseline harmonic lyrical heaven.
It seems that this evil-dark-side/emotional-lover-side of Falco passes unfettered through his deeply held demons and angels manifested as Christian Fitness prior to filing the final papers with Future of the Left. Ridiculously complicated arrangements of melodic feedback, canonical instrumentation coupled with layers upon filthy layers of percussion, and peepshow lyrics brazenly showcase the cracks of humanity. It’s a circus freakshow with Falco as the ringleader, top hat and all. And if the tremors aren’t enough, the bassline will surely kill you, thus making Christian Fitness the best band to blast the scene since Mclusky or Future of the Left. Either way, take comfort in knowing that your favorite band wants you dead.
“Read the uncomfortable dynamic between hunter and hunted. I don’t know if there is a difference, personally. On your own side of the earth, mine is unknown, and here, conversely, you are a mystery. I respect that. But I must destroy it.” – excerpted from “happiness is not for amateurs”
“If your best friend handed you his dick and asked you to fillet and cook it…. Would you comply, without a second thought, without a lot of money on it?” – excerpted from “more skin for the skin-eaters”
I stumbled upon Public Image Ltd.’s 2015 release,What the World Needs Now…, with high recommendations.
I found this album to be difficult, uncomfortable, confrontational, emotional and very revealing. For an album that was termed to appear as not caring, it seems to care quite a lot. And while the fuck off attitude of John Lydon may be what is expected, there’s a lot more happening underneath – well beyond the first four tracks.
The poetry of John Lydon is paired down, no nonsense, insightful, hilariously maddening and also quite tender. A fistful of truth inside a hailstorm of experience devoid of false hopes and external prophets. Lydon himself being a prophet inside his own realm, while simultaneously being the anti-prophet to everyone else. I assume he’d say “Lydon prophet? He’s fucking bollocks!” -OZ
A reaction to society, truths and religion, Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “Well, when it became evident that no governmental or economic reform was going to make the people much less miserable, the religion became the one real instrument of hope. Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so Bokonon made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies.” John Lydon is no Bokonon.
So what happens when posed with the ‘religion’ of musician worship in the form of musicians as prophets and deliverance? Well, you get what the world needs now. And it is another fuck off. And I’m inclined to say it’s one of the more enlightening sentiments I’ve heard in a song in awhile. As I read through a few reviews prior to writing this one, I found them lacking any of the edge that PiL brings to the table in What The World Needs Now…. I wondered why this could be so overlooked.
Rather than immediately get into a nasty discussion, let’s just read a couple reviews. Yes, let’s.
“What the World Needs Now… is the sound of a band not really caring too hard about their current stature. Luckily for the listener, the pros outweigh the cons.” –PopMatters
Hahaahahaha. Well, yes. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. How rather nice of PiL to care enough to not care about their stature.
Another review excerpt from one of my favorite publications, Pitchfork.
“Other mid-tempo tunes on What the World Needs Now… don’t fare as well. The line between compelling repetition and tedious wheel-grinding is pretty thin for this group, and though Lydon always battles valiantly to breath [sic] life into flatter songs, he can’t save them all. Things never quite fall apart completely, though it does become tough to find a heartbeat inside the fuel-deprived ‘Big Blue Sky‘. It doesn’t help that the tune’s disengaging loops and arena-rock choruses last for over eight minutes. […] Those kinds of struggles come during What the World Needs Now…‘s second half, which makes the album feel a bit like a five-mile race run by a sprinter.” -Pitchfork
Well, that sure is a mouthful. Key phrases to consider: “arena-rock” and “flatter songs.” (I remain uniformed, however, of John Lydon and the band’s running prowess. Maybe if they trained longer or worked Saturdays? Just a thought…) Either way, I figured Pitchfork was on to something, as I must have missed the mark on so many of my opinions. I fashioned a letter.
If there’s one thing I am sick of, it’s John Lydon belting out a fucking flatter tune to appease the arena rock masses. I assume you also know he is a huge butter whore, which also explains A LOT. I heard he got PAID actual money for doing those commercials. Thankfully, you, Pitchfork, have revealed his equally butter-flavored sellout album for what it is. Delicious on popcorn? Sure. But have we music aficionados been reduced to this…
Or even this…?
(Even the flippant remark that he does not support butter farmers because it was their career choice. Does this Pistol have no shame?)
I for one am sick of reviewing this shit, despite the fact that my irrelevancy in the realm of things is far greater than the apparently irrelevant discussion of relevancy within music. Surely this shameless Butter Whore must realize his own irrelevance? Did the Sex Pistols wonder at their own relevancy over tea and crumpets? One may never know. What I do know is this. I call on you, Pitchfork, to join me in boycotting musicians! Let us no longer waste our thoughts on these pedestrian endeavors, forcing us to meander the musical dregs only to degrade ourselves with such creative slag! As soon as you put down your tablets, we’ll do the same!
God save the fucking margarine – all the best!
Relevancy. Does it have a place?
So I can’t help but wonder, in all of the criticisms and phraseology of review writing, if the words “still relevant” are a requirement for any artist over the age of 40. A pat on the head for still being alive and making music. Moreover, I wondered if anyone had that same audacity when questioning the relevancy of a band like the Rolling Stones, all well over 40, and still making the same record. I sought. I got my answer. That answer is “NO.”
A 2015 Pitchfork music review granted a rating of 10 out of 10 for the reissue of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers,
the original release being 1971, in case you may have forgotten. If you had forgotten, it may possibly be because you weren’t born yet or because it was 44 years ago. But now, thanks to Pitchfork, you CAN remember. And also thanks to Pitchfork, if you want to know what’s relevant today, better travel back to 1971, when real rock ruled the world. Yesssss. That t’IS corrrrect-ah! [in John Lydon trilled pronunciation]
I continued to look through these apparently “once relevant” artists.
Beware Patti Smith fans! I found that Patti is also sadly irrelevant. 🙁 🙁 That’s TWO sad faces for Patti. I bet the Dalai Lama would have rethought his appearance at her show at Glastonbury had he bothered to read Pitchfork prior to wasting his own holiness on such an irrelevant artist. Oh well, you may be able to transcend the inter-connectivity of causation, but you can’t always transcend the wrong entourage. Better luck next time.
Anyway, Patti has not gotten a review over 6 stars from Pitchfork in years, except for the re-release of Horses, originally released 1975. She managed to pull down a 9.3 stars out of 10. (Sorry Patti, still not as good as the Sticky Fingers re-release. Maybe there’s something you could learn from them if you just go back and really study the album. Or maybe rock only ruled the world in 1971. It’s likely one of the philosophical questions for the ages.)
Genius truly never met a better sidekick. And by genius I do mean Stuart Berman of Pitchfork. All I have to say is, “You know what Stuart. I like you. You’re not like the other people, here, in the trailer park.”
A few tracks of note for me
Double Trouble. Well now, anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows this is actually a love song as well as an acknowledgement that your significant other may one day kill you in your sleep, and that’s okay because it’s worth the risk. For after all, “Domestus is domestic bliss-ssssssssssss.”
Know Now. I still laugh through the entire thing. Anyone who has ever been alive in this world should be laughing their asses off at this song. If they aren’t laughing, fuck them. Feel free to let them know, “Know what I know now so now you can go!” Clearly they do not appreciate the inappropriate hilarity of having the life sucked out of them, repeatedly, by a trusted someone. Likely, they may be your personal “Know Now” so tread heavily as you deliver the message to this special someone.
Life Time. Deep introspect of loose ends. Unrequited sentiments and love, not romantic love, but the need to redeem and place meaning. The late night tossing and turning. Therapy in offices and that same self-medicating therapy inside of bars and initiating alleyway fights. The leering sneering past mocking you until the moment you can finally stare it in the face, absent blame, now with acceptance. Especially when hiding and running has long lost is romanticism and meaning. Maybe not even forgiveness but a reckoning. Knocking the pedestal and finding your way out of the pit.
So is the poetry of Mr. Lydon: “We have a broad scale to travel. Just let it trickle in the mind. Just to know it, hear it, and hold it. Oh! Even seems unkind. It takes a whole life time, being sorry to you. It takes a whole life time, for what happened to me. It weren’t like nothing happened, but something happened, alright?! But it weren’t all right, and still, it’s not, not proper to me! It takes a whole life time, being sorry to you. It takes a whole life time, for what happened to me. We lost and found. We found another other in each other. And it’s loss and love and anger and the rage and the coincidences. In the sentence until the pages of sense, picture the puzzle. It takes a whole life time being sorry to you. It takes a whole life time for what happened to me. Picture the puzzle.”
Not Satisfied. This track reminds me of an entire life rant inside my own head that I attempted to verbalize to the intended, someone I loved or hated desperately, possibly both, and came out the other side enraged that I didn’t do my love-hate justice. All the while my object of intense affection is completely indifferent to my screams. The stabbing repetition: “I’m not satisfied! Not in my head. Not satisfied. …Not!”
The whole of experience rolling around a bass driven maze grinding along a vertigo guitar riffing the rusty corridors. I imagine a boxing ring floor littered with teeth and blood and one guy who keeps getting up and up, no matter how bad he’s beaten. The crowds screaming to him to stay down until everyone realizes it’s a death match. All fist punching to the choral “I’m not satisfied! Not!” What a great fucking track. Lydon’s desperate pleading vocals, “Why can’t I remember your name? Ain’t that your name?! Not satisfied?!” I suspect this song has to do with Lydon’s childhood meningitis struggle. Possibly a stark reminder that true terror is being locked inside your mind without hope of being understood and absent meaningful human connection.
Despite the many reviews opining on the state of Lydon’s musical relevance, there is no mention of the lyrical revelations throughout.
An unraveling of roots running deep and the imperfect process of getting to the core of why it matters. The process of taking on the world with the final mania being the battle within ourselves to wrestle some meaning out of this fog – often too late to share it with the ones we most want to. Corny? Played? Overdone? There are centuries worth of plays and novels and music addressing this simple idea: Why and the world. But still, it isn’t old. It is the stuff we’re made of, after all.
Introspect and thoughtful consideration. So states Mr. Lydon, “What the world needs now is another fuck off.” And we do need this. But not for the obviousness of the sentiment, but for missing what’s in between. What we missed and what we continue to miss in the world. What we continue to dismiss and lazily declare as irrelevant, whether music or refugee children being kicked down by adults whilst trying to run for safety. Human trafficking. Running from death. So when you consider that type of reality, music seems like a pile of dogshit next to what truly matters. Then again – music has saved many lives and it has been a universal conduit for change. Music, done well, it’s a dangerous beautiful thing.
What the World Needs Now… seems a challenge to us to finally give a shit in the form of fuck off, having been so tired of trying to convince people otherwise for so long. “Not global villages, but one globe.” It’s a pathetic easy time to gloss over someone’s anger or forget about the billions sharing the same experience as we. If you happen to be a sarcastic asshole at times, people seem to think that’s all you are. But I hold true to my opinion that socially awkward sarcastic assholes are often most sickened by societal ills. And they often show their disgust and need to protect the exploited in the form of fuck off anger fits. So it’s not a love song or even if it is a love song, it may not come in the expected form (aka, Double Trouble).
The band’s name is after all Public Image Ltd., so what else would you expect other than a mockery of public image, especially its own?
As I pass the reviews and the cynicism and the questions posed about relevancy, I wonder at the state of our viewpoints on creation in general. Why the artistry for musicianship – angry street punk or silver spoon violinist – why does anyone create? Why make statements about relevancy when the statement itself isn’t even relevant? Whom of these reviewers could define relevancy and why they are even writing about it? I know I can’t.
What is relevant? A better question posed to artists themselves as opposed to critics. Until then, fuck off.
andrew falkous has blown our minds. falco side project, falco noise, falco genius. i might put on a suit.
christian fitness silently spawned on bandcamp in 2014 as a side project to future of the left (fotl).
i realize it’s 2015, but hey, we never promised timeliness. we did promise music recommendations. behind on the first release, i am scared of everything that isn’t me, but ahead on the upcoming 2nd release (below). i’m early for something – complainers.
christian fitness. future of the left. mclusky.
i must make mention of all three as mr. falkous has been a force throughout. as always, do not expect a rehashing of the latter two, seems more a melding of the influences of one man on himself. a self-directed inspiration from the basement of his house and the assistance of many, including cats.
if you’re a charles bukowski fan, christian fitness is up there for the sheer commentary of the human condition as well as their shared prolific creation. writers and musicians…. they never get a break. they’re ridiculously under appreciated. and falkous is one of those artists.
besides being himself, and therefore his own influence,
i wanted to toss in some unexpected music that passed through my head as i listened: brief interpol (debut) echoings, nightfreak and the sons of becker, the birthday party, bauhaus, the jesus and mary chain. some bouncy 60s throwback harmonics. interesting indeed. throughout it all, the signature bass, canons, machine gun drumming, and equilibrium disruption guitar tread the landscape. there are a lot of layers going on in this album; reminiscent of future of the left’s notes on achieving orbit (a truly fantastic track).
choose a track? nope – i won’t.
a lengthier post may follow, but for now, i wanted you to hear it. revel in this creation. anticipate the next.
Most music reviews, as “professional” music critics write them, use a litany of familiar musical references so that the critic can save time, avoid thought and still receive a full paycheck. It’s a great gig if you never have to look in a mirror or leave the house. It’s a great gig if you never die. The gods and goddesses are pissed; they are waiting because, yes, it is a sin to saunter past inspired musical creation and ignore its presence in exchange for false securities. As An Untitled Musical Project (AUMP) simply stated, “Being on the dole isn’t rock n roll.”
we don’t do music reviews. We do infrequent musical essays when a “product” demands our attention.
It’s true, we will never be able to compete with Pitchfork; writing meaningless shitty drivel has become a unique artform perfected by those reviewers on the dole. We’re not looking to upset the precarious balance between corporate-sponsored critics and the thoughtless paycheck-driven rants that seem to have become the very definition of the music industry. We write about what we like in hopes that music that deserves attention won’t be dismissed because it’s not “easy”.
And yet, here we are. The best album of the year is…. It’s a ridiculous exercise. It’s more absurd since the internet has made music so accessible. Tens of thousands of releases via labels, websites, YouTube; who can possibly choose one release and call it “the best”? Despite our protest, we’ll give it a shot, if only for fear that a great band will be completely forgotten.
As the four (or is it three) major labels have eliminated A&R departments and concentrated on marketing a handful of “proven” sellers, new bands and musicians have never been in a better place for calling their own shots. For 99.9% of artists, the chase to sign with a “major” is not only unimportant, it is undesirable.
Established artists are even less in need of corporate labels and, clearly, labels have little influence on music icons, like Lou Reed. Critics matter even less, except for the fact that they still hold music publications hostage with their opinions, some less daring than others. Examples, you say? I’ll indulge…. Lou Reed and Metallica united for a project called Lulu. Metallica fans sent death threats to Lou because of the project. Now that’s when you know Lou’s project was some serious fuckin’ art. A vast majority of critics recommended no one even buy Lulu, one going so far as to say, “It has been said that this album is experimental, so I feel it is safe to say that this album was a failure and nothing of this sort should ever be tried again.”
All of this musical highbrow debate got a fire into us at BustedatOZ.com. We decided to write our own review because, well, fuck them. We made it clear that Lulu will, in time, make the critics and rock establishment look as ridiculous for their condemnation as they did when they heaped the same uninformed scorn and disdain on Lou Reed’s “Berlin.” Lulu is a painful, beautiful and disconcerting project that reconfirms a simple fact: Lou Reed is among a small handful of truly literate musicians in rock n roll.
Future of the Left (FOTL) released “The Plot Against Common Sense,” also condemned by the likes of strategists at Pitchfork. This is the other 2012 release for which BustedatOZ.com provided a musical essay (and we appreciate the unwashed corporate Philistines at Pitchfork for making it so much fun).
Falco has written some of the best lyrics in his 12-year career and FOTL continue to expand musically, especially in concert with the addition of a fourth band member. Falco’s brilliance is not about rock clichés, preaching to a choir or even trying to change your point of view. Falco simply and powerfully provides his observations and opinions in an incredibly literate and satirical manner. I doubt that he gives a rat’s ass as to whether he is changing anyone’s mind about anything. Like Lou, Falco’s music and lyrics demand thought. What an insignificant price to pay for the gift of art.
So there is music, art and something called ‘edge’. My friend, Liz Bjorkland, was one of Chicago’s original punk musicians going back to the time that OZ (1980s) was just starting and Naked Raygun and The Effigies were in their infancy. Liz, and her husband, Steve Bjorkland, continue to be among the most vital of Chicago’s original punk musicians (their current project is High Value Target). I believe that music is “better” now than it was in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Certainly, the musicianship is better. Liz agrees to a limited extent. Her point is valid and almost convincing to me. As I suggest new bands to her, she often tells me that they are musically accomplished but they lack an edge. There was an edge to most punk bands when the scene exploded in the 1970s. That edge is not nearly as pervasive among new bands and it hasn’t been for years. What happened?
I agree that bands with a real edge are hard to find, even though there is an abundance of good musicians and releases. Lulu and Future of the Left’s “The Plot Against Common Sense” easily stand out as the best releases in 2012 because they are lyrically and musically brilliant…. definitely an edge.
It would be easy for BustedatOZ.com to name either release the “best” of 2012, despite the ridiculousness of the effort. Fuck easy.
Our choice for best release of 2012 is The Taxpayers: God, Forgive These Bastards Songs From The Forgotten Life Of Henry Turner.
I am reluctant to use the word “beauty” to describe this release because it is an uncomfortable, sometimes painful, borderline tragic and beautiful experience. It is a little like listening to Lulu or like watching Punch-Drunk Love. It’s our own discomfort that results in us embracing somebody else’s life and journey as if it were our own. If we are anything more than a detached observer of life, we all know a Henry Turner. The Taxpayers make sure that we know him even better. The Taxpayers have made him universal, immortal and part of us.
The Taxpayers are not prisoners of musical genres or conventions.
The band uses music to drive the lyrics. How best to deliver the story? Few bands have the diverse musical talent to pull this off as masterfully as The Taxpayers. Few bands hear music quite like The Taxpayers. They have incorporated nearly a century of musical styles and influences into their musicianship. That would be impressive enough. But, instead of merely incorporating a huge range of musical influences, The Taxpayers have reinvented, pureed and served up the music of generations into something boldly unique, challenging and, yes, edgy. This album refuses to allow for complacency no matter how often you listen to it.
After repeated listening, one of the album’s lasting impacts is the unexpected. Bombast and subtlety are balanced delicately and awkwardly throughout this album. I imagine that might also describe the life of Henry Turner.
Henry Turner. Was he simply a misfit? Some of us are. Was his life one of misfortune beyond his control or missed opportunities that he chose to ignore? Was he an asshole or was assholism his defense? None of that is important. Henry Turner was a person and his dignity as a person is revealed in the course of these songs.
The next time you are walking down the street and encounter your Henry Turner, don’t look away. Make eye contact. Ask how his day is going and engage in conversation. You may discover that you will have a story to tell about your Henry Turner as remarkable as the story that The Taxpayers have created on God, Forgive These Bastards Songs From The Forgotten Life Of Henry Turner.
I was about half-way through listening to God, Forgive These Bastards Songs From The Forgotten Life Of Henry Turner when I grabbed a pen and paper and started making a list of musical influences I was hearing on this album. I’ve never been inclined to do that in decades of listening to music. When I reached the half-way mark of this album for the second time, I had already sent an uncontrollable boy, overly-excited e-mail to Becky (our music essayist extraordinaire) about my audio-induced cum shot that convinced me that I had discovered the cure for blue balls.
Becky’s response: Who doesn’t The Taxpayers pull from? It’s hard to listen to songs and say well I hear this and that or they sound like so-and-so from circa blah blah blah. The brilliance of The Taxpayers is that they sound so familiar but yet they are, well, themselves. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s difficult to find that in a band and even more impossible to pull off in one ‘sound’. For example, a single track contains about 10 influences, either all at once or in succession but nothing of a rip off on any of them. That said, it’s not an artsy trip though some reference hell… It just is and it fucking works. Bizarre? I’d say so. And if you love punk in all its spirit, for all it represents – holy shit – you found the right band.
BustedatOZ.com is committed to music that matters. We believe new artists that are creating challenging and quality work deserve those of us that appreciate art to pay attention, spend time listening and thinking about the work, and then make a real effort to support the artist.
The Taxpayers releases are available for download and are available in formats other than MP3. The fact that the band makes available downloads in no-loss formats is another example of their respect for their fans.
Buy The Taxpayers
You can buyGod, Forgive These Bastards Songs From The Forgotten Life Of Henry Turner and previous The Taxpayers’ release here. We encourage you to buy everything being offered and you won’t be sorry. The Taxpayers have made it very affordable and offered a number of download formats. Please pay a fair price for these downloads because touring is expensive and paying more than the minimum will help get this vital band back on the road.
We considered there might be some backlash to the opinion of critics herein. Possibly something along the lines of “easy to critique a critic, it’s not your paycheck on the line….” Correct. It is not our paycheck on the line. But it is your paycheck. It is your responsibility. It is your writing that holds a certain power. When so many newer artists are creating some of the best music of our lives and are deserving of our attention, is it necessary to write another review about U2, McCartney or any other musician signed to a major label and devoid of anything interesting to say since 1980? We believe that art criticism should include, in a big way, brilliant artists that are not receiving the recognition and exposure that they have earned. Writing a review about the next Rolling Stones release is meaningless; it will still sell exactly what the last 10 Rolling Stones’ releases have sold and not a single person will be inclined to buy or not buy it based on a critic’s review. Why not use the power of your publication to encourage your readers to discover new or underappreciated artists?
And now for something that makes us most hate music critics, the never-ending, space-filling references to musical influences.
Here is a list of influences that Becky and I compiled during our very first time listening to God, Forgive These Bastards Songs From The Forgotten Life Of Henry Turner, the best album of 2012.
The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower
West Side Story (the musical)
They Might Be Giants
The Mountain Goats
Bob Dylan (pre-1976)
A Salavation Army Band (that doesn’t mind a drink or six)
Squirrel Nut Zippers
This musical essay is dedicated to a much missed musical pioneer…Willy DeVille. Willy’s music reflected street life in a way that sets a bar for urban musicians, no matter what the genre. His music also celebrated and honored the history of R&B, jazz, blues, New Orleans and rock n roll. Willy became on overnight punk hero with one song, “Cadillac Walk.” There is not a punk alive that does not know that song. Willy was also a pioneer with free sharing of his music and there are many live shows available that were all recorded with his permission and shared with his encouragement. I was blessed to see Willy in concert a few times and I have amassed a large collection of his concerts on both video and CD. His studio albums establish him as one of the finest arrangers of music of our generation. Without hesitation, I believe that Willy would have loved The Taxpayers God, Forgive These Bastards Songs From The Forgotten Life Of Henry Turner. The Taxpayers share Willy’s commitment to sharing the charms, contradictions and struggle of street life and they share his belief that great music deserves even better arrangements.