The first time I saw Sean Morales play he was staggering around the stage, cigarette dangling from his lips, doing his best Keith impersonation, as part of the beautiful mess that was Austin garage punks Titz. Since Titz, he’s kicked around in different bands with different sounds over the years– a bit of garage soul with The Stepbrothers, the annihilating space rock of James Arthur’s Manhunt, and did I see him do some time with quirky electronic collective Ichi Ni San Shi? I think I did…. His latest project is his debut solo record, Call It In, and what a mighty fine project it is.
Recorded with a number of stalwarts of the Austin underground rock ‘n’ roll scene– including folks from The Young Mothers, OBN IIIs, the Golden Boys, and James Arthur’s Manhunt– this thing possesses a casual confidence as it moves seamlessly from the easy groove of opening cover “Video Life” to dirty, broke down blues to a sort of twisted, loner psych folk before wrapping the whole thing up with a bit of scrape and grind. And though it’s a largely mellow affair, it’s got plenty of grit. Keith still makes it in, but so do plenty of others like Skip Spence and Chilton, and as a whole the album sounds like it was written and recorded by a dude with a pretty great record collection who knows exactly what he wants but is open to anything that happens.
Call It In is out now on Super Secret Records. Check it out here.
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.
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.
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!
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!