Use Your Discretion – The Guns ‘N Roses Conundrum

Photo from deviantart.net

Photo from deviantart.net

Guns ‘N Roses’ “Appetite For Destruction” is unquestionably one of the greatest debut albums of all time.  I was in fourth grade when that beast came out and I’d blast “It’s So Easy” and NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police” in the park on a boombox (when nobody was around) and think I was Bruce Willis.  (Bruce Willis was the baddest person 4th grade Mike Brody could think of.)  I didn’t have a clue what “turn around bitch I got a use for you” meant and I really identified more with Weird Al Yankovic’s extended polka parody jams, but screw it.  CLASSIC ALBUM.

Guns ‘N Roses’ next official album(s), “Use Your Illusion I & II” is a whole ‘nother story.  What in the good god was happening here?  This behemoth brings up memories of previous double and triple albums that really should have been one, like the Beatles’ self-titled (better known as the “White Album”) and The Clash’s so-you-thought-we-were-good “Sandinista”.  The major difference is you could actually cut those two into a real album.  Try doing it with Use Your Illusion.  It’s impossible!  There’s two many ten minute long epic ballads squished with rockers that should have been three minutes long but ended up being six just so Axl could go “Eye-eee-eye-ee-eye-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” or “YOWZA!” at the end of all of them.  WTF, Axl?  There’s a 100% zero chance I would like this if it came out today, but the fact is it came out in 1991 and I was wearing a lot of denim.  My judgment wasn’t exactly razor sharp.

So screw Frankensteining this bitch into one album.  It can’t be done.  Instead I’m going to listen to all 30 songs from both parts and rank them from “best” to “affront to humankind”.  The links on a song mean there’s a video for it, which I strongly suggest watching.

1) “You Could Be Mine” – I used to blast this (and Soul Asylum’s “Somebody To Shove”) in my room while getting ready for B-team basketball practice in 9th grade.  Let me tell you, nothing gets you pumped for not getting playing time, even in practice, like the lines “With your bitch-slap rappin’ and your cocaine tongue…”  This is also from that wonderful time when bands would just splice in clips of a movie into the video with no continuity whatsoever so they could be on a soundtrack.  Axl’s crotch!  Eddie Furlong!  Axl’s crotch!  Arnold givin’ a thumbs up!  Arnold’s computer-eye zoomin’ in on Axl’s crotch!

2) “Don’t Cry” – I loved the video back in the day, but watching it today brings up many, many questions.  1)  If you’re going to go walking through a freezing tundra-land, why are you wearing a daisy-duke pirate costume?  2) How did Slash manage to drive a car off a cliff but jump out in time to grab his guitar and take his shirt off?  3)  How is he getting home?  4)  Why is Axl super stoked to see his hands shaking at the psychiatrists like it’s a fancy card trick?  5)  Why does he look like a tiny, naked, muscle-less Incredible Hulk making shadow-birds in the afterlife? 6)  How are any of these scenes even remotely connected?  7) Where’s Izzy?

3) “November Rain” – Axl gets married and then she dies without explanation.  It takes ten fucking minutes to tell that story.

4) “Coma” – This is far and away the best non-single on the album and is a pure delight on the psychosis scale.  Axl’s in a coma and astral projects to some ice-beach (did he bring the pirate suit?!) and at the same time, some weird demon/devil voice is telling the doctors to “zap the son-of-a-bitch again” with the electric paddles.  But wait, Axl doesn’t want to come back because his girlfriend’s complaining that all he wants is sex, sex, sex, all the time!  Ya know?!

5) “Estranged” – This was my emo jam as a 7th grader.  “When you’re talkin to yourself. And nobody’s home.  ALONE!”  Yeah, that never happened, because I was 13 and living with my parents.  This video is important for being coo-coo even by Axl’s standards.  There’s not a shrink alive who could make heads or tails of this mess.  It starts with an actual text definition of the word “illusion”.  Then Axl showers with his clothes on and has the SWAT team called on him for some reason.  The SWAT team doesn’t actually do anything to him and then he’s on stage at a concert.  Then people in all white take him (also wearing all white, but with the word “DEEP” on his chest) into a limo to go to a jet literally filled with water and dolphins.  You know, as you do!  Then he goes to a bar where the jet dolphins follow him through billboards (I’M NOT FUCKING MAKING THIS SHIT UP!  CLICK THE VIDEO ON THE LINK!), then he jumps off a battleship that he somehow got on and some roadie tries really half-assedly to save him from a nearby but not-too-close dingie.  MORE DOLPHINS!  When did Axl become a frumpy-dumpy Ren Fest girl?  Then MOTHERFUCKING SLASH RISES FROM THE WATER LIKE AN ABE LINCOLN JESUS (which is pretty bad-ass, actually).  Cut to the next day when a helicopter saves a not-actually-drowned Axl who’s still in the water (fuck you, roadie!) and then Axl looks wistfully into the bleachers while a solitary white signature Axl shoe sinks to the bottom of the ocean and a text definition for “disillusion” flashes on the screen.  And if you don’t believe me about this next part, fucking watch the goddamn video: IT ENDS WITH AXL ON HIS COUCH GRINNING WHILE A MOTHERFUCKING DOLPHIN WEARING EITHER A PLAID TOWEL OR AXL’S SHIRT CLICKS HAPPILY NEXT TO HIM.  WHAT IN THE NAME OF HOLY FUCK JUST HAPPENED!!!

6) “Civil War” – Christ, how do we follow that one?  It took me roughly twenty years to figure out that the opening audio monologue was a part from “Cool Hand Luke” and not just a typical Looney Tunes soliloquy of Axl’s.  “What we got here…is a FAILURE…to COMMUNICATE”.  Extra points to Axl for ruining an otherwise poignant song about war and class division by randomly bleeting out “Ain’t that fresh!”

7) “Dead Horse” – Honestly, this was the dark horse (no pun intended) song of the album.  Really catchy.  The video is pretty straight-forward concert footage but the song is notable for having what 13-year-old Mike Brody thought was the most profound line of all time: “I’m a son-of-a-gun and a gun-of-a-son.”  MIND. BLOWN.

8) “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – I didn’t know who Bob Dylan was when I first heard this song.  And when I finally did, I was shocked to find out that the original version was over three minutes shorter, didn’t have background singers or a segment in the middle where a guy calls someone and leaves a message that says “You just better start sniffin’ your own rank subjugation jack, ’cause it’s just you against your tattered libido, the bank and the mortician forever man and it wouldn’t be luck if you got out of life alive.”  You taking notes, Zimmerman!?  THAT’S poetry!

9) “Get In The Ring” – I don’t know if this even qualifies as a song so much as angry liner notes with guitars and yelling over it.  You think music doesn’t influence kids?  I had a kid throw a basketball at my head in 7th grade and scream the lyrics of this song at me: “What are you pissed off cuz your dad gets more pussy than you?  Fuck you.  Suck my fuckin’ dick!”  “Yeah, I’m in 7th grade. EVERYBODY gets more pussy than me.  Inanimate objects get more pussy than me and they will for years.  I know because I’m telling this story from the future.”

10) “Live And Let Die” – Why not cover a Wings song, Axl?  Why not.

11) “Don’t Damn Me” – This song literally starts with Mr. Rose making the sound that Wile E Coyote makes when he gets hit on the head with a frying pan.  I can’t decide if that loses it points or gains it.

12) “You Ain’t The First” – Nobody taught more hairless pre-pubescent kids how to be misogynistic than Axl Rose.  He’s the Michael Jordan of future trashy Indianans.

13) “Shotgun Blues” – “Ooooh, you want a confrontation. I’ll give you every fuckin’ chance. With your verbal masturbation. Me…I just like to dance!”  Did Axl just challenge someone to a dance-off?  CHA-LLENGE!

14) “Right Next Door To Hell” – This is the cut-off point.  This is where the songs go from pretty okay to pretty bland, soon to be followed by “Did a drunk manatee make this?” This particular song is alright, but was a lousy choice to lead-off UYI #1.  Like starting a wedding proposal with a fart.  Probably for the better, considering how those end up for Axl.  (The marriages, not the farts.  I don’t know how his farts go but I’m guessing they’re over ten minutes long.)

15) “Yesterdays” – This one has a video too, but they were getting pretty lazy by this point.  It was like their 12th single and not a DOLPHIN TO BE FOUND!

16) “Perfect Crime” – A TWO MINUTE SONG!!!  Did Axl huff too much paint in his Hakeem Olajuwon K-Mart specials and forget to finish it?

17) “Garden Of Eden” – “Garden Of Eden” is like “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” if Michael Stipe was more like Charles Manson and kept getting forced to make videos.  I think the “Blair Witch Project” cost more to make than this one.

18) “Locomotive” – This fucking lizard-turd of a song is 8:42 long.

19) “Bad Apples” – Jesus fucking Christ this is getting hard to stomach.  Who in the hell was letting Axl do all of this?  I have 11 more to go!  I’m actually listening to all these!  Not one person was like “Hey Axl, we don’t have to put ALL 30 songs we wrote on.  I think ten or twelve is fine.” No, all of Axl’s songs are like soccer mom kids.  Everybody gets a trophy!  No losers!

20) “So Fine” – This sounds like “Don’t Cry” if it had diarrhea.

21) “Pretty Tied Up” – I’m fairly certain this song is about kidnapping and torture.  YAWN.

22) “Back Off Bitch” – I will cough up $100 to anyone that can prove they’ve listened to this song on purpose between the dates 1993 and June 28, 2014.

23) “The Garden” – It’s like “The Garden Of Eden” without a video and less of a point.  I will say it is mildly fun to hear Axl groan “BYE-BYE” like a sad ten-year-old to a pony he didn’t get to ride.

24) “Double Talking Jive” – Axl, nobody’s going to believe you’re a gansta if you wear cut-off jean shorts, okay?

25) “Bad Obsession” – “I called my mother, she’s just a cunt now.”  That’s a line that Axl Rose wrote on purpose and put into a song.

26) “Breakdown” I’m not even sure if I listened to this song when it was new.

27) “Dust N Bones” Yeah, great idea.  Make the second song on the first disc a five-minute IZZY song.

28) “14 Years” Yeah, great idea.  Make the second song on the second disc a four-and-a-half-minute IZZY song.

29) “Don’t Cry” (Alt. Lyrics)  “You know, I really didn’t understand life until that second, alternate-lyrics version of ‘Don’t Cry’ where he said ‘Eh’ instead of ‘Uh’.”  You pompous, ginger-headed, biker-shorts wearing idiot.

30) “My World” – Do you know how bad a song has to be to be the worst song on Use Your Illusion?  THE WORST FUCKING SONG EVER WRITTEN!  Where to start? The opening line is literally written in the lyrics as “You wan’da step into my world”.  It sounds like Weird Al doing a parody of Nine Inch Nails trying to rap, as written by Vanilla Ice.  If that’s not bad enough, throw in some super awkward chants “Do it! Do it! Do it!” by Axl that sounds like he’s either killing himself, masturbating or both.  I think I’d rather listen to Limp Bizkit fronted by Shaquille O’Neal after he ate a whole Thanksgiving dinner.

THE END.

EYE-EEEE-EYYEEE-EEEEEE-EEEYYYYYEEEE-EEEEEEEEEE-EYEEEEEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

YOWZA!!!

Mike Brody’s Top Albums (And The Worst One) Of 2013

Someone told me that year-end best-of lists are self-congratulatory and pretentious.  Screw that.  I love best-of lists! Every year I scour hundreds of them online, looking for golden nuggets that flew under my radar.  I’m an anti-social and mildly agoraphobic hermit and god only knows what my collection would be like if I only went by the Muzak at CVS.  So no apologies!  And here’s MY end of 2013 list:

(Click on a link for a video from each respective artist)

Worst album of 2013:  Black Flag “What the…” – Calling this band Black Flag is like digging up the corpse of Dave Thomas, waving his unattached skeleton arm around and calling it “Wendy’s.”  Horrendous.

TOP TEN:

10 – Bad ReligionTrue North” – I never would have guessed that I’d be putting a Bad Religion album on my best of list past 1994, but here we are.  The booky-wook brainhead punks put down their thesaurus and bifocals long enough to write a catchy, energetic, mildly old-school punk album where only 25% of the songs sound the same. This is the best thing they’ve done since the very underrated “Stranger Than Fiction.”

9 – IncendiaryCost Of Living” – Too many hardcore bands either sound like Youth Of Today Champion hoodie-worship or Hatebreed uber-metal moshpit muscleheads.  Incendiary seem to take their inspiration from that nougat-y middle period between those two, where Inside Out and Chain of Strength lived.  This porridge is not too metal, not too crew.  Perfect.

8 – WindhandSoma” – DOOM!  God bless Black Sabbath for inspiring so many bands to sound like this.  Thick and heavy as molasses!  They have a lady singer and I couldn’t even tell at first.  I can’t imagine why these guys aren’t bigger but it’s surely only a matter of time.  My only complaint is that the last track is a 30 minute song, which trails off into ten minutes of rain sounds.  Come on guys, you’re screwing up my shuffle!

7 – Lipstick HomicideOut Utero” –  It’s nice to have a band from Iowa break out nationally that isn’t heavy like Modern Life Is War or Slipknot.  It proves that Iowa can be fun.  I’m a proud Hawkeye and Iowan living out of state, and nobody believes me that Iowa City is the shit.  It is, and so is Lipstick Homicide.  Think Descendents and Screeching Weasel fronted by lesbians at a party.  Best melodic punk album of the year.

6 – His Electro Blue VoiceRuthless Sperm” – How hungover were these guys when they decided to call this album “Ruthless Sperm”?  It makes me think of the movie “Critters” but with rolling balls of semen.  Run!  Splat.  How’s that for a sell?  Let me put it this way: In a year full of wussy-ass post-punk shoe-gaze turtle-shit, it’s nice to hear a band that can take a cue from the 80s and still be creative and aggressive about it.  They sound like Al Jourgensen singing over a very pissed off Joy Division.  Thanks for proving that the 80s can still punch you in the face instead of tickling your butt.

5 – SuperchunkI Hate Music” – If you know Superchunk already then there’s no need to tell you about them and if you don’t know Superchunk you probably aren’t reading this.  It’s Superchunk.  They don’t put out bad albums.  Frankly, I’m starting to take it for granted.  Double-bonus props/nerd-points for the Jackie Mittoo/Skatalities reference.

4 – Rival MobMob Justice” –  Remember when I said it was no good if a hardcore band sounded like an 80s youth crew?  I lied.  Not only are the Rival Mob the most kick-ass old-school styled Boston hardcore band of the last 20 years, but the singer also looks just like Rob Delaney.  What’s not to love?

Photo from altpress.com

Rob Delaney? Photo from altpress.com

3 – NailsAbandon All Life” – Remember when I said it was no good if a hardcore band sounded too metal?  I lied.  Holy shit, this is the sound of fucking death coming for you.  Not slowly in your sleep, not with time.  Right now.  It’s busting down your bedroom door.  Brutal beyond description.

2 – DeafheavenSunbather” – Oh boy do black metal purists hate this band.  I just imagine a bunch of Norwegian, corpse-painted dudes in Road Warriors outfits wringing their hands and throwing their battle-axes at this record while cursing San Francisco and PBR to Jötunheim.  How bad-ass is it for a band to take such a macho, even (allegedly) homophobic genre and add melody, emotion and a PINK ALBUM COVER into the mix.  It transcends musical style and flies into the face and up the nose of convention.  Black metal is great, but it’s one of the most codified genres of music there is.  These guys done just smashed it all up.

Deafheaven - "Sunbather"

Deafheaven – “Sunbather”

1 – Grant HartThe Argument” – For someone who was 1/2 of the Hüsker Dü writing team, Grant Hart sure is criminally underrated.  Yeah, he only puts out about one album per decade and I honestly don’t think there’s a picture of him post-1990 that doesn’t look like he’s a slowly shriveling window-apple.  But then he turns around and drops a concept album about Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”  And it’s amazing.  Yeah, I know that sounds boring as hell on paper.  An album about an old book?  Is this even music or NPR?  Why not a speech about Abraham Lincoln?  It’s music!  Every song is a different style/genre and it rivals some of the poppier stuff he did in Hüsker Dü.  Best album of the year.  Just don’t look at his teeth.

HONORABLE MENTION (In no particular order): War Generation – “Self-titled,” Altar Of Plagues – “Teeth Glory And Injury,” Cloud Rat – “Moksha,” Modern Life Is War – “Fever Hunting,” Gorguts – “Colored Sands,” Mikal Cronin – “MCII,” The Ocean –  “Pelagial,” Oblivians – “Desperation,” Darkthrone – “The Underground Resistance,” Gogol Bordello – “Pura Vida Conspiracy,” NERV – “EP,” Sickoids – “No Home,” Lumbar – “The First And Last Days Of Unwelcome,” Major Arcana – “Speedy Ortiz,” Skeletonwitch – “Serpents Unleashed,” Terror – “Live By The Code,” Ty Segall – “Sleeper,” Waxahatchee – “Cerulean Salt,” Tomahawk – “Oddfellows,” Night Birds – “Born To Die In Suburbia,” Coffins – “The Fleshland,” Dillinger Escape Plan – “One Of Us Is The Killer.”

ShowBiz Pizza & The Scariest Band in The World

There are several candidates for scariest band in the world.  Some people think it’s Marilyn Manson.  Others shiver at the thought of Norwegian Black Metal or GG Allin after a Mexican buffet.

But make no mistake, scaredy-cats.  The most terrifying band in the world, without question, is Billy Bob Brockali & the Rock-afire Explosion.

Screw whoever created this demonic robot band.  They turned what should have been a delightful trip to ShowBiz Pizza Place in 1984 into a fit-throwing hellride.  I distinctly remember trying to line up the ceiling pole with the giant, menacing, man-eating, keyboard-playing gorilla so I wouldn’t have to look at him.  I was too afraid to even touch my bland, cardboardy pizza.

Granted, I was also scared of Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine, because I literally thought that the rhythm was gonna get me.  So I was a bit of a pussy, but still.  In six year old Mike Brody’s mind, every time that spawn of Satan/Michael McDonald wannabe pushed a keyboard button, another one of his chimp-minions ripped the face and genitals off of hordes of unsuspecting children.  Strangely, his name was “Fatz Geronimo” and according to the Rock-afire Explosion Wikipedia page, Fatz is “a parody of real-life entertainers Fats Domino and Ray Charles.”  So, terrifying and racist?  Nice combo, ShowBiz Pizza Place!  Thanks for the memories.

85% of all child bed-wetting is caused by this damn monkey. Photo from kindertrauma.com

85% of all child bed-wetting is caused by this damn monkey. Photo from kindertrauma.com

The rest of the band consisted of other inappropriate horrors like a wolf with a ventriloquist doll, a “loose” mouse named “Mitzi,” a dog with a pornstar name (Dook LaRue) and a John Wayne Gacy-esque bear in overalls.

"We all float down here, Billy."  Photo from wikimedia.org

“We all float down here, Michael.” Billy Bob Brockali chooses a victim.  (Corpse in oil drum not shown.) Photo from wikimedia.org

Eventually, like a habitual criminal with a long rap-sheet, ShowBiz Pizza Place quietly changed their name and morphed into Chuck-E-Cheese.  Do not be fooled.  Billy Bob Brockali, Fatz Geronimo and Looney Bird are just biding their time and waiting until you forget.  Then, like the clown from “It,” they will return to claim their blood.  And with a Rock-afire Explosion, they will eat all the first-borns of the world and rule for a 1000-year Reich.

I hope that shitty pizza was worth it.

The Only Thing Worse Than Steely Dan Is Their Fans

Steely Dan's Box Set - Only $300!!!

Pictured: Steely Dan’s box set – Only $300!!!

This March, I wrote a blog describing in great detail my burning hatred of Steely Dan.  It didn’t go over well with their fans.  Except for two positive comments, including one that I had to delete because it inexplicably ended with a jab at “The Jews,” they were all foaming at the mouth mad.  So in the spirit of communication, let me address each of them in chronological order:

SD1

Strangely, this first one is the only one I agree with.

SD2

Wow, what a lucky woman!  Between her having to iron your sweat pants every day and being forced to listen to horrendous 80s synth-pop while driving you to the food court, I can’t imagine why your marriage wouldn’t be going great? (Even Talk Talk doesn’t like Talk Talk.)  Be honest, you’re not married.  Your “wife” is a small tree trunk chopped down with lipstick smeared on and a wig.

SD3

Bad taste in music and no sense of humor is a lousy way to go through life.  But what I can’t figure out is how can fans of the most Quaalude-y, 70s elevator music band of all time be so angry?  How much cocaine do you have to ingest before your energy level rises above Bob Ross?  And other than cold and fruit, the word “fusion” should never be associated with anything, ever.  Especially jazz.

SD4

This one might actually be my favorite, because I freakin’ can’t stand Emerson, Lake & Palmer.  They’re the only band that might rival Steely Dan in pompous, self-congratulatory noodling.  So I knew that a bunch of prog-rock dorks’ heads were going to explode like Ian Anderson tipping over after too many one-legged flute solos.

SD5

If there is one thing I want readers of this particular blog post to understand, it’s that if I ever say the words “lush harmony and wonderful idiosyncratic lyrics culminating in a slick cohesive result” please stick an ice-pick into both of my ears in a slow, jiggly fashion.  ICK!  Gross!  Seriously?  I guarantee this guy talks to his toast.

For the record, I love punk rock and anything with heart.  Bad Brains, Black Flag, Ramones, Replacements, The Clash, Jonathan Richman, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Louvin Brothers, reggae, world music and on and on.  I.e. the opposite of Steely Dan. It’s not about musicianship.  But do you know what I don’t do if someone doesn’t like that stuff?  Cry in my glittery unitard and throw my 45 keyboards around in anger.  Because I’m an adult.

Feel free to leave more hate mail on this blog.  But rest assured, your anger makes my soul glow bright.

Acting president of the Steely Dan fan club.  Photo by gamekyo.com

Acting president of the Steely Dan fan club. Photo by gamekyo.com

The 15 Greatest Iowa Bands Of All-Time

Yesterday, I posted my “15 Greatest Twin Cities Bands Of All Time” list.  Today, I’d like to go back to my roots: Iowa.

I grew up in the Hawkeye State.  And although I love it like a little brother, I also reserve the right to make fun of it like a little brother.  BUT ONLY I CAN!!!  Not even other Iowans get to make fun of Iowa, just me!  Don’t tell me it’s boring to drive through.  Iowa didn’t ask you to visit.  What did you expect on the highway?  Ferris wheels?  The Lollipop Guild?  Here’s the trick to driving through Iowa: Expect nothing, and you’ll never be disappointed.

Anyway, regardless of what people think, there is a long and rich history of music coming from Iowa.  You probably just didn’t know.  Sit back, and prepare to be wowed:

15) House Of Large Sizes – House of Large Sizes is Iowa’s Yo La Tengo.  They’re an indie rock band that’s been around for decades, everybody respects them and nobody listens to them on purpose.

14) Modern Life Is War – MLIW is undoubtedly, without question, 100% the coolest thing to ever come out of Marshalltown, IA.  The second place award goes to a homeless person that fell out of one of their 500,000 trains.

13) Slipknot – Slipknot increased our list of famous people by 75% just by existing.  There’s nine of them!  Iowans are required by law to like Slipknot, even if they hate their music.  This rule also applies to the Field of Dreams movie, Radar O’Reilly from MASH and meth.

12) Ummm….hmmmmm.  Okay, what’s the next one?  Oof…this is kind of embarrassing.  Bands from Iowa…bands from Iowa.  Buddy Holly died here!  So did Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.  But that was all together.  Did I mention that Captain Kirk’s character is supposed to be from Iowa?

11) Oh shit!  Greg Brown!  I forgot about Greg Brown.  I don’t know any of his music but he seems cool.

And there you have it!  The greatest Iowa bands of ALL TIME!!!

Council Bluffs Rock City!  Photo from iowamusicreview.com

Council Bluffs Rock City! Photo from iowamusicreview.com