WHAT WE DO IS SECRET Trailer
What We Do Is Secret (DVD)(Peace Arch Entertainment)(US)
It finally happened they made a movie of the legendary and elusive Hollywood punk band the Germs and it's actually okay. Okay, in the sense that i got my jaded ass way fired up again about music and art as I watched the movie revisit the dawn of the DIY movement in the US, a time when the focus would shift back toward American music in the underground culminating in 1991 with the mainstream breakthrough of Nirvana (perhaps the "circle two" referenced in the movie). Some (including myself and filmmaker Rodger Grossman) would go so far as to say that much of that seismic shift began with the Germs and their polemic frontman Darby Crash. As subsequent bands that followed in their destructive diaspora were either "in the car" by being directly influenced by them or "throwing rocks at them", fleeing in terror to borrow an analogy from Pleasant Gehman- who wrote a tremendous eulogy for the group in a 1982 issue of the fanzine New York Rocker. This particular movie tells the story of Crash and his relationship to the band during the turbulent late 1970s. Mostly tall tales with some touching interplay between the band members I was left with the same puzzled feeling I had when I saw the Brian Jonestown Massacre documentary Dig having worked with or known many of the folks in this movie as well. Sadly most of the characters and acting in the films is bad in an after school special kind of way and the bent of the story is hollow with emotion and message. Crash is portrayed as a role model when in reality historically he was not and his destructive demeanor had a lot to do with his early suicide death at 22. The only actors in my opinion that captured the essence of their characters were the guy who played personality Rodney Bingenheimer and actor Noah Segan who captured drummer Don Bolles' goofy personality perfectly. It is the live performances and archival nature of this film that adds to the band's cultish mystique but they also fail to capture the true feeling of the era-overboard hedonistic indulgence, unbound creativity, and limitless (and when I say limitless I mean LIMITLESS) depravity. The book Lexicon Devil does a better job of putting the band in their proper context in the early and influential LA scene but again the live performances and the amazing soundtrack help to breathe life into these walking cartoon superheroes and bring them to life again after all of these years. I for one couldn't be happier!
Simian Mobile Disco-Fabriclive 41 (Fabric)(UK)
The latest mix from UK electro upstarts Simian Mobile Disco is an exciting mix crammed with some pretty unusual twists and turns that even left me scratching my head at times. Always restless and never afraid to take chances the popular duo manages to create an easily accessible dance mixdisk that is also fun and lively even after the first listen. Opening with an electronic classic from composer Tomita, SMD deftly weave 8 bit funk like Smith & Hack's "Space Warrior" (a track so retro my wife exclaimed "Did I just lose my guy?") around more melodramatic indietronica like "Blind" by Hercules & Love Affair. In fact DFA is probably a good reference point for this mix even in acts like Popof, Discodeine, and Bobby Peru who are not on the label. This mix is certainly thaty kind of electro and discopunk-some good and some not so good. However, seminal dance classics like Plastikman's "Spastik" and Green Velvet's "Flash" temper this mix with a fine club edge while leftfield turns like the bizarro Moon Dog /Fine Cut Bodies mash-up and the Walker Brothers classic that closes this disk definitely will keep listeners on their toes as the two succeed in creating a soundtrack for Generation ADD.
The Black Ghosts-S/T (Iamsound)(US)
Simon Lord, one four of the Simian equation (two others being Simian Mobile Disco-see review above) teams up with Touche (he of irritating late 90s big beat combo the Wiseguys) for a self-titled debut that is a saccharine coated guilty pleasure amid a sea of serious German techno. The fact that the duo flee so far from the world of techno into a world of sugary pop hooks drenched in discopunk is actually a little bit refreshing. Most of the tracks have good catchy hooks like "Anyway You Choose To Give It" where Lord's vocal talents really come shining through. One of the surprise acts for me 2008, I am actually genuinely interested to hear what these two decide to do next.
Copyright-Voices & Visions 2xCD (Defected)(UK)
It's almost hard to believe that two dudes from England, one from the north and the other from London, could be imbued with so much soul. The duo of Sam Holt and Gavin Mills as Copyright in the past decade have had a tremendous run of chart topping house music singles that had me thinking they were black and most likely from New Jersey. Their new album Voices and Visions is really just a collection of the pop music that Copyright has weaved as a singles artist including the megasmash "He Is"-included on this collection. There are some nice singles on the album including "In Da Club (Shake Sh*t up)" featuring Mr. V and the electro tinged "Classic Beat" with KC Flightt but overall there is nothing here I ain't already done heard. The second disk is a greatest hits collection that includes an obvious selection of floorfillers from the Ferrer & Sydenham Inc. remix of "He Is" , to the raucous reworking of "Put Your Drink Down" again with Mr. V, and a rendition of the classic "I Can't Get No Sleep" that was hard to distinguish from one by Kenny Dope. These guys wear their influences well but why should I care when I can always listen to Masters At Work do it better?
Genji Siraisi-Surviving Freedom (Uncensored Remixes & Naughty Bits)(Expansion Team)(US)
Siraisi is the drummer for NYC jam group/acid jazz combo Groove Collective and on this ambitious remix collection twelve diverse artists tear apart his album Censorsh!t (which I didn't think was all that great) with some diverse and not altogether unpleasant results especially in comparison with the source material. The No Luck Club get the nod for best remix with the deep and jazzy techno stabs on the appropriately named "Wishing In Solitude", Q-Burns Abstract Message lends some dancefloor oomph on "Four Letter Scan", and Siraisi under his pushtobreak moniker drops a four part live mix. The mix is severe mindf*ck at its best as he combines the late 80s cut & paste Steinski & Double D style with house, krauty drums, and bubbling acid in ways that only hint at the greatness of Groove Collective. This is one that'll grow on you.
Free download from the new album: