Apr 052014

(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers, and this is his report on Day 5 of the experiment.)

I’m afraid I didn’t get much listening time yesterday, probably because I didn’t have any prolonged, sedentary activities to perform (i.e., studying). In fact, I really only got to one album, an electronic album recommended by a couple people from a feller named Mosh. The album was Monarchy (not his most recent release, as I eventually found out).

While it was a very enjoyable background album, and thankfully did not sound like Transformers fornicating, it confirmed many of the other suspicions I have about electronic music. Quite a lot of the electronic music I’ve heard tends not to go for a sonic journey, as much as to paint a picture of a given atmosphere (or just go for a perpetual dance beat). That’s one of the things I enjoy most about most metal, and about the new discoveries I’ve made on many fronts this week. If anyone has some suggestions as to electronic artists who can actually achieve that type of aural excursion, please leave them below, as I would be very intrigued to hear about them.

Apr 042014

(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers, and this is his report on Day 4 of the experiment.)

Very early on in my music listening career, I was very much into rap. Part of it might have been the combination of the ease of access to it (all I had to do was go to the Top 100 iTunes songs chart to find plenty of stuff for my young ears) with the misguided idea that girls had “cooties” or something, and that listening to other types of pop would make me “girly”. In hindsight, I want to slap my former self for ever thinking like that, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was the way I thought once.

Nevertheless, I used to be mostly a rap fan (specifically the popular stuff). That all changed when I first picked up, played, and became obsessed with Guitar Hero III (maybe as a third or fourth grader; I’m not in the mood to calculate when exactly it would have been). That elucidated to me the wonders of classic rock, and sent me on a decade-long tailspin that has landed me here, deeply entrenched in the metal underground.

When I began to get more immersed into rock, and especially once I found heavier metal, I began to swear off all types of rap, perhaps in realization of how awful my music taste once was. Honestly, I hadn’t even tried to look into rap for years, until this project hit.

Apr 032014

(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers, and this is his report on Day 3 of his experiment.)

This third post is going to be a bit light on music, as was my day, for the first time in a very long time.

Like most NCS readers, I tend to fill my earholes with music on a semi-constant basis, in both appropriate and inappropriate social contexts. For the first time in a long time, I really didn’t listen to much music. In fact, I didn’t listen to anything besides a bit of random radio garble while driving various places, at least not until a little before 7 o’clock at night.

Part of this might have been that, unlike yesterday, I had no plan at all as to what I was going to theme my day with. My brain racked for a bit in search of an idea, but for most of the day nothing came to mind that seemed fitting. Part of it was also definitely a lack of opportunities to listen, since I had a calc test and part one of my two-part final essay in a Literature class. This, combined with a lack of sleep from studying the previous night, left me in a rather crabby mood, and not particularly receptive to music.

However, I eventually came around. I started by checking out a band recommended in the Day 2 post, The Goat Rodeo Sessions.

Apr 022014

(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers, and this is his report on Day 2 of his experiment.)

As I forecast in my Day 1 post, Day 2 was an excursion into the vast world of jazz. Copious amounts of studying in the wake of finals simultaneously pushed me to wit’s end and gave me a lot of time to listen to a lot of jazz.

I started the day with a band that is perhaps not entirely jazz, but is awesome nonetheless: Steely Dan. They and Aja were perhaps the most recommended band and album throughout the various mediums on which I solicited non-metal suggestions. The album seemed to be right in the middle of classic rock and jazz, reminding me of The Eagles or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young in places while staying jazzier (with a faint Kenny G vibe hanging in the air) elsewhere.

It was a great start to the day for my ears, and is a band and album I foresee myself revisiting quite a bit (especially considering that I just saw a show listing for them at Humphrey’s By the Bay, which might be one of the coolest places to see live music).

Apr 012014

(Last Friday, NCS guest contributor Leperkahn announced that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal, and he asked our readers for suggestions of non-metal music to explore. He received a flood of comments, which are damned interesting to read all by themselves — HERE. Beginning today, Leperkahn is revealing his choices and documenting his listening experiences.)

It has begun.

I have not listened to metal since midnight last night, after one last farewell listen to Opeth’s Blackwater Park. In its place, today has been filled with various folk excursions, all of them coming from your lovely suggestions. On the whole, I had a generally positive experience with my selections today: some awesome, some not-at-all-my-thing, some meh. We (the royal we) shall document them chronologically.

The morning started off with the ethereal acoustic guitar of Musk Ox (pictured above), which paired perfectly with the speed of my Monday-afflicted brain (Chai tea helped too). Founding member  Nathaneal Larochette and a changing line-up of cohorts do an excellent job of creating marvelously sparse, yet epic accompaniments to the album covers used (especially the later covers). I only had time to listen to the few single tracks Musk Ox had uploaded (one of which came from the Whom The Moon A Nightsong Sings compilation that was suggested at some point), as well as one of the EPs, Entre La Terre et Le Ciel.

On a surface-level listen (which was all I was capable of this early in the morning) the songs seemed rather similar to each other, aiming for a flowing atmosphere and mood rather than attempting to distinguish songs. All in all, Musk Ox proved a promising start to the experiment.

Mar 282014

(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn has embarked on what appears to be a foolish endeavor. Against our better judgment, we’re helping him out by letting him solicit your suggestions for this hair-brained escapade. This will end in tears.)

Greetings, NCS comrades.

As a few of you may know, I’m still in high school (only for a couple more months, though). My elective class for this semester is a journalism class. For one of the capstone-y projects of the course, I am supposed to do an experiential blog. More precisely, I am tasked to alter my life in some meaningful (but feasible) manner, and write about the process as I go along.

I have listened more or less exclusively to metal for a couple years now, with only a few conscious forays into other areas (by conscious, I mean outside of the pop music that cannot be escaped by any sociable person). Thus, I thought it fitting – difficult, but certainly feasible – to try and live an entire week without any metal in my life. None. At the many times I would usually listen to metal during the week, I will instead listen to another largely unrelated genre.

Mar 222014

Aw hell, here we go again.

The writing has been on the Facebook wall for a while, and I’m not talking about your writing. I’m talking about the invisible writing of Facebook’s programmers, the increasingly demonic sigils inscribed into the backbone of the Facebook monolith that determine what its users will and won’t see in their news feeds.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written on the subject of how Facebook manipulates the selection of content that each user will see, but the story is a continuing one, with a consistent theme. This is just the latest chapter in the company’s efforts to leverage their gargantuan user base for the extraction of more advertising dollars — including money that Facebook Pages can spend to “promote” their posts so that more people will see them.

Honestly, on a day-to-day basis I don’t pay much attention to developments such as the one I’m about to describe. Other people watch Facebook’s moves like a hawk, because they can have a big effect on big bidness. I generally avoid the subject because it makes me queasy. But my fellow metal blogger Angry Metal Guy recently alerted me to a new piece of intelligence that confirmed some of my recent suspicions — and I’m writing about it because misery really does love company.

Mar 152014

Hey, I’ve been drinking mayonnaise, but I think Mr. Pickles is one metal doge! I think you will, too, even if you’re laying off the mayonnaise.

What?  You don’t know about Mr. Pickles?  Read this description of the new Adult Swim cartoon series, coming this fall:

“In Mr. Pickles, the urban sprawl of modern society pollutes the old-fashioned town where the Goodman family lives with their lovable pet dog, Mr. Pickles, a deviant collie with a secret satanic streak. From creators Will Carsola and Dave Stewart.”

Go ahead, watch the pilot for the series next. Trust your old pal Islander: No matter what else you see today, it will not top this video for sheer undiluted whatthefuckedness.

Sep 112013

Today is the 12th anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers in Manhattan. I don’t like to think about it. Even 12 years later, the memory of watching the whole, horrible spectacle unfold on TV all day is painfully vivid. Unfortunately, it became even more vivid because the TV at my house this morning was tuned to a news channel that replayed, for several hours, the same coverage of the event that it broadcast 12 years ago. I didn’t sit there and watch all of it, just enough to sink my spirits again.

Both before and after 9/11/01, worse things have happened in other countries, and I’ll admit that the emotional trauma I feel in thinking about this tragedy is a product of the fact that it happened in my own country. Tribalism is still very much with us, isn’t it?

Well, I don’t want to dwell on something so morbid (I don’t enjoy thinking about morbid things unless it’s morbid music). I also don’t know that anything good comes from this kind of remembrance; for me, it leads nowhere, it’s not intended to be political in any sense, it’s just an expression of grief, a grief that wells up inside on these anniversaries whether I want it to or not.

The memory, which makes me far more sad than angry, shifted me away from the metal I intended to listen to and moved me to a song by a one-man Swedish black metal band named Lustre, whose 2013 album Wonder (about to be released on the Nordvis label) may be the most beautiful one I’ve heard this year. It’s one of many I should have reviewed before now but haven’t. While I try to re-orient myself to what we usually do at NCS, I leave you with that simple but moving song. It’s name is “Moonlit Meadow”.

Sep 082013

We’re kind of light on the metal at NCS this weekend, and I’m about to explain why.

At the beginning of the summer my wife and I watched a documentary about a band. My wife, to put it mildly, is not into metal, so it was more a question of me going along on her ride than me being behind the wheel. The movie was History of the Eagles. In a word, it was superb.

I suppose it helps to like The Eagles’ music, which I do, but as a look at the rise and fall and resurrection of an unlikely group of very talented and collectively dysfunctional singers, songwriters, and musicians over a 40-year period, the movie is a fascinating story in its own right. (Did you know that The Eagles, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which was released in 1976, was the best-selling album of the 20th Century in the U.S.?  True story.)

Right after we finished watching the movie, my wife asked if we could find out whether the Eagles were touring again — and of course, they are. Because she and I almost never hear live music together and because we haven’t taken even a short vacation together in quite a while, I splurged on a very pricey pair of tickets to an Eagles show in Vancouver, BC, which finally took place two nights ago on September 6, 2013. We hit the road from Seattle that morning.

With five hours of the indie rock and alt-folk favored by my wife blasting in the car on the round trip and a long evening of The Eagles in between, the closest I got to metal until arriving home again last night was driving past The Rickshaw venue on the way into downtown Vancouver. But I couldn’t help thinking about the contrasts with metal that the weekend revealed.

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