Joe Dante ‘The Second Civil War’

Released in 1997 as a made-for-HBO movie, The Second Civil War— directed by the great Joe Dante– is a dark comedy for our dark political times. With a plot centered around an immigration issue that divides the country and spirals out of control, and a cast that features a dipshit president, irresponsible journalists, and a governor who closes his state’s borders to immigrants, this thing seems even more relevant now than it was back in ’97.

A satire with a thematic thread about the nature of facts and truth in media, politics, and culture running through it, the movie is cutting and unmerciful to its subjects, perhaps due to the fact that its writer, Martyn Burke, started his writing career as a journalist covering the Viet Nam war. And mixed in with the scathing social and political commentary is the kind of slapstick humor seen in the 80s spy movie spoof Top Secret!— directed by Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker and co-written by Burke– which works to reinforce the absurdity of it all without softening the blow when the film goes all in with its premise.

I saw The Second Civil War for the first time a few weeks back and found it to be the most appropriately cynical film about culture and media I’ve seen since Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, but with the tragic farce– or farcical tragedy– tone of Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s bleak as fuck. If you watch it, maybe double feature it with another great Dante flick, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which rips into commercialism via a Trump-like character but won’t leave you staring so deep into the abyss.

Then, just to have a load of laughs and unburden your heavy heart, maybe top the whole thing off with Dante’s Innerspace

The Golden Boys ‘Better Than Good Times’

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Ever wonder what it would sound like if the members of the best damn rock ‘n’ roll band in Austin got together after about five or so years, corralled a bit of controlled chaos and grit and melody, and channeled it into their best damn record since their last best damn record ?  Me too! And now that I know, I’ve been spinnin’ The Golden Boys Better Than Good Times like a motherfuckin’ top!

Better Than Good Times is out now via 12XU, and available there and via Bandcamp. Rock it.

Derais ‘Of Angel’s Seed and Devil’s Harvest’

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Ever wonder what it would sound like if Gollum took up Tuvan throat singing, rounded up some Orcs, and started a funeral doom metal band deep under the Misty Mountains?  Me neither! But now that I know, I’ve been spinnin’ Derais’s Of Angel’s Seed and Devil’s Harvest like a motherfuckin’ top!

Of Angel’s Seed and Devil’s Harvest is out now via 20 Buck Spin, and available there and via the Derais Bandcamp site. Rock it.

Alaric ‘End of Mirrors’

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Ever wonder what the Psychedelic Furs would sound like if they reinvented themselves as a doom metal band with some prog tendencies? Me neither! But now that I know, I’ve been spinnin’ Alaric’s End of Mirrors like a motherfuckin’ top!

End of Mirrors is out via Neurot Recordings, and available there and via the Alaric Bandcamp site. Rock it.

Neil Young ‘Hitchhiker’

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At long last, just over 40 years after it was recorded during a single August night in 1976, Neil Young’s Hitchhiker sees an official release. And what a release it is. Packed with known and loved songs, most of which have seen the light of day in one form or another over the years, Hitchhiker is pure, raw Neil– guitar, voice, harmonica, some piano, recorded straight through, excepting a few pauses for, according to his memoir Special Deluxe, “weed, beer, or coke.” Outside of stumbling upon him at some little known roadhouse bar, this is as raw and pure as it gets, and it’s worth rushing out to buy just to hear him roll through an acoustic version of “Powderfinger”. But then there’s the ever-enigmatic “Pocahontas”. The crushing “Give Me Strength”. The searching, wandering artist travelogue of the title track. And “Campaigner,” which draws a straight line from Nixon to our current Oompa-Loompa-in-Chief. Really, though, the pleasure is hearing the album as a whole piece, cover to cover, from the opening “You ready, Briggs?” to the last fading notes of “The Old Country Waltz”. Though the recordings have the feel and charm of demos, the album as a whole has the feeling of a fully realized vision, and you owe it to yourself– and to Neil– to hear it that way.

Hitchhiker is out now via Reprise and available pretty much anywhere you can buy music. Hook your local record store up with a few bucks, and yourself up with a great fuckin’ record.