Monthly Archives: July 2013

Instant Finds – Rolling Thunder

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Revenge movies are a tricky thing.

On one end of the spectrum you have violent power fantasies like The Crow, Desperado or Machete; unrealistic hyper-violent orgies of death and destruction that paint vigilante justice as a swift and powerful sword of righteousness.

On the other end are movies like I Saw The Devil, Hard Candy and Memento, which suggest that when someone takes the law into their own hands they risk turning into the very monsters that they are after.

And then there’s Rolling Thunder, a 1977 revenge thriller co-written by Paul Schrader, which seems to straddle the line between both sides, suggesting that while vigilante justice may be “right” in some cases, you’re not going to come out a better person having committed it.

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My Weirdest Record: A Musical Seance by Rosemary Brown

I’ve been reading and writing about music for most of my life, but when I found out about Rosemary Brown, I was convinced that I found the strangest story in the history of popular music.

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A rather common British widow living in a quiet London borough, Rosemary Brown appeared from out of nowhere in the late 60s with a rather bold statement: she was a psychic medium, and history’s greatest classical composers, including Beethoven, Chopin and Brahams, were contacting her from beyond the grave to share “new” musical compositions with her.

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Vinyl Review: Daft Punk – Get Lucky 12″ Single

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Remixes have always been a part of dance music, but it seems like they matter now more than they ever did before.

It’s always the remix that gets played at the club. It’s the remix that takes a summer festival crowd by storm. It’s the remix that charts at Beatport. If the modern ‘EDM’ scene has proven one thing, it’s that if you want your track to really take off and get that crossover appeal, you better be ready to hand it off to every DJ and producer in the world to let them dismantle and reconstruct it in their own image (especially if that image is “sick dubstep“).

So when Daft Punk announced that they would be handling all the remixes for the singles from Random Access Memories, a lot of people were taken aback. Still, it kind of made sense. For whatever reason, most remixes of Daft Punk tracks tend to fall flat. They always seem to strip away what makes the original tracks unique, and instead just transform them into standard, boring club tunes (Glitch Mob excluded).

But even if Daft Punk had given “Get Lucky” to a thousand producers, DJs and other artists to remix “Get Lucky” to their heart’s content, it’s safe to say that none of them would have taken the track and done what Daft Punk did with it, which is hardly anything at all.

Although that’s not really a bad thing.

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Vinyl Review: Maniac Soundtrack (Death Waltz Edition)

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It’s weird buying a soundtrack to a movie that you have no plan on actually seeing, isn’t it?

Well, that’s what I did with the soundtrack to Maniac, the latest high-end vinyl only release from Death Waltz Recording Company. And I’m glad I did, because while I have no desire to see the Maniac remake produced and co-written by High Tension director Alexandre Aja and starring Elijah Wood, it sure does have one hell of a fantastic score.

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Adventures in Red Book Audio: Don’t Play This Disc!

In the early days of CD-ROM gaming, a lot of games made use of Red Book audio, the same audio standard used by audio CDs. This meant that many of these games had crisp, digital audio that was light years ahead of the 16-bit MIDI audio that was commonplace at the time. It also meant that you could put the game disc in your CD player and play the music off of it like a regular CD.

Sadly, that didn’t last long. In Japan, game soundtracks were (and continue to be) a pretty big deal, so allowing gamers to just pop the game disc into their CD player and rock out to the soundtrack kind of cannibalized that market. Additionally, there were some games that could never use Red Book audio because of size limitations, or other technical concerns. Simply put, most games you’ll find for any of the early CD systems have no Red Book audio of any kind.

If you ever tried to put any of these games in your CD player, you would just be treated with one long “data track” where all the game information was stored. In my personal experience, this track was usually silent, but apparently some CD players would try to read these tracks as audio, causing loud digital garbage to be played out of your speakers.

If developers were smart, they would have tried to sell that shit to Lou Reed, but instead, they decided to try their best to make sure that gamers never attempted to put those discs in their CD players, lest they blow speakers or cause some other damage to their home audio system. To this effect, they would usually put warning in instruction booklets advising gamers against putting CD-ROM gems like Gex into their car stereo.

However, to really drive the point home, sometimes they would also stick in an audio warning on the disc itself. It was a tactic that was entirely pointless though, since the “data track” with the potentially damaging audio had to be the first track, meaning that any warning about the hypothetical damage caused by putting the disc in the system would play AFTER the possibly dangerous track had already finished playing.

Also, for me at least, these warnings created the unintended effect of actually making me want to put game discs in my CD player even more, just to find out if they had some weird warning on them. In effect, I was actively doing what they were warning me not to do specifically because they were warning me not to do it.

That was how teenage me stuck it to the man.

Anyways, I was digging through my old games and thought it would be fun to show off some of these goofy warnings, a strange byproduct of a bygone era in gaming. Hope you find them interesting.

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Ryan Davis: 1979-2013

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Rest in peace duder. I hope there are plenty of stupid movies on laserdiscs wherever you are.

Game Review: Rogue Legacy

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Rogue Legacy is one of the most addictive games ever made. How addictive is it? Well, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was at my father’s house right now, sitting in front of a laptop that is not capable of gaming of any sort, I’d probably be playing it right now.

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Unboxing Gallery – Envy: Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs And Flows

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Envy is a Japanese post-hardcore/post-rock/post-metal/post-whatever band that has built up quite the following in both their native country and in the states. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Temporary Residence has released this, Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs And Flows, a massive box set that includes every single song the band has ever commercially released.

Did I say massive? I said massive right? Because holy hell this thing is massive.

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Instant Finds: The Apple

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Disco was the hottest thing in music for a good chunk of the 70s and into the 80s, and during that time Hollywood certainly took advantage, with blockbusters like Saturday Night Fever and The Wiz.

But disco-themed hits seemed to be few and far between, and for every Saturday Night Fever there seemed to be at least three Can’t Stop The Musics. Hollywood just couldn’t translate disco’s success into box office dollars, apparently.

One of the biggest bombs that tried to cash in both on the disco craze and the surprise success of Grease was The Apple, 1980 musical produced and directed by Menahem Golan, the b-movie god behind such “classics” as Delta Force, Superman IV and The Masters of the Universe.

The second I found out about this film, I knew I had to see it. A disco musical directed by the man who decided that Dolph Lundgren should star as He-Man in a feature-length film? C’mon.

I knew it would be bad. I knew it would be a spectacle. I knew it would be ridiculous.

I did not know it would be an allegory for the rapture.

The Apple is a weird film.

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Vinyl Review: David Bowie – Heathen (V&A Exclusive Music On Vinyl Edition)

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David Bowie’s Heathen is a tremendous record. First released in 2002, it was the closest he came to mainstream success in over a decade, and his first “rock” album that was worth listening to since his work in the early 80s. It showed his amazing staying power as a creative force, and was a surprising return to form for an artist that many critics had written off (once again) by that point.

Sadly though, it’s been nearly impossible to get on vinyl since its original release. No one was buying vinyl in 2002, so when labels were generous enough to press copies of albums, they were typically in very limited, one-off runs. Hence, copies of  Heathen have become somewhat collectible over the years, going for close to $100 on auction sites.

Thankfully, that madness can come to an end, thanks to Music on Vinyl stepping up to the plate and re-issuing the record on high-quality 180 gram vinyl.

However, with that comes an entirely new madness in the form of a maddeningly rare variant.

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