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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Music: Castanets & Mount Eerie

I wanted to give you guys a head's up on two new records that are currently ruling my world. I love music so much, probably more than film, and when something remarkable comes along, that I can't take out of my CD player, I feel compelled to share with you guys.

Castanets: Texas Rose, The Thaw and The Beasts(Asthmatic Kitty): For those not in the know, Castanets is the project of one Ray Raposa. This is his seventh album, and the grandest project that he has done before. I think the best label for what Ray does is "gothic-country", but even that doesn't do him justice. Stylistically, in the past, he has been all over the map, but this record sounds like he has finally honed it down into something cohesive. This is one of the most beautiful records that I have heard in quite sometime. It falls in the folk category, but is prone to noise freakouts, and fat programmed beats. "Rose", the first track, begins as an achingly beautiful folk song, and builds up into another beast, complete with Queen-like backing vocals. "No Trouble" is a blues song with phat beats, that is a lovemaking song if I ever heard one. Every song is a keeper, even the "interlude" type songs, as they add to the entire atmosphere of the record. This is the kind of record that you need to sit down and digest as a whole. Not to be split up on an IPOD, or listened to casually, this record needs your attention! If I had to describe this to a novice, I would say it sounds like Roger Waters(Pink Floyd) and Ennio Morricone(film composer), tripping on Peyote, and covering old blues songs in the desert. If that description tickles your fancy, be sure to pick up a copy, and support independent artists. It is not officially out yet, the street date is late September/early October, do yourself a favor and pick it up, if you don't love this, you are deaf!!
Mount Eerie:Wind's Poem(P.W. Elverum & Sun): Mount Eerie is another one-man band, and the man responsible is Phil Elverum, previously of The Microphones. In the past, Mount Eerie has produced moody, dis harmonic, folk songs that could be played around a campfire. So when I heard that Phil had been listening to a lot of Black Metal(particularly Xasthur), and his next record was going to greatly influenced by said genre, I knew that I had to hear it. Then the next article I read said that besides Black Metal, it was equally influenced by David Lynch's masterful series Twin Peaks, I knew that this record had my name all over it!!
Unlike the Castanets record, Phil's songs do not follow traditional structures very often. That is not a bad thing at all, and lends itself to the atmosphere immensely. I was kind of shocked that it doesn't really contain any actual Black Metal at all, it just takes the cold atmosphere of that genre and mixes it with the head-fuckery of Lynch and produces something altogether new! This is not really a record that I can explain with words, but some adjectives that come to mind are: dark, brooding, atmospheric, and spooky! This one really takes a few listens to actually sink in. After the 3rd or 4th listen, all of the subtle nuances that Elverum creates finally start to stand out, and you realize all of the work that actually went into these songs. If you are a fan, of dark, moody music, I cannot emphasize how much you need this record!! If you dig Xasthur or the Twin Peaks soundtracks, or any of Elverum's past catalog, run out and buy this one. It has already been released on his own label, so once again, support underground and independent music, and keep your money out of the hands of big companies and corporations!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Catching Up

I wanted to say sorry to the few readers that I have for the down time recently. We had a bit of tragedy in our lives. My partner, Jeff, had an accident and severely broke his leg. He had to spend 4 days in the hospital, and it was not a good stay. First of all, he had to have reconstructive surgery on his leg, complete with steel rods, screws and plates. As if that wasn't bad enough, we had to deal with a heaping dose of homophobia, while in the hospital. These backwoods rednecks acted as if a gay couple had never been in this hospital before. We spent our 17th anniversary in there, and a shitty doctor had the audacity to tell me that I "wasn't Jeff's family", therefore I wasn't privy to any information about his condition. For those of you who know me, you must know how this pissed me off. I have told several friends that mine and Jeff's world is small, and filled with only awesome people. I haven't had to deal with this mentality in a long time, when it happens, it is like a slap in the face, and I damned sure didn't like it. Jeff's surgeon even make comments about us being "democrats", like we are fucking idiots and don't know what he was alluding to. Well, we are back at home now, and Jeff is slowly making some progress, so hopefully I can continue to update Vitamin Burger more frequently. Don't think that we will take this lying down, we already have some calls into some lawyers, and some Gay Rights groups, hopefully justice will be served.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alice Cooper: Where Have I Been All These Years? Part I

I have recently, after all of these years, discovered Alice Cooper. It's not like I wasn't aware of the man and his band. I remember buying his best record, 1971's Killer, on vinyl when I was 8 years old. I even replaced that record with a cassette version when I was a teenager. Of course I was familiar with his hits, but I can't explain why I never delved deeper in to his vast and varied catalog. I feel like I lost cherished time with one that I love, time that I will never get back. Alice Cooper, the band, has to be divided and dissected in chapters, because they took many stylistic turns, and all of those era's have positive aspects.

The band was formed in 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. The classic lineup with Vincent Furnier(Alice) on vocals, Dennis Dunaway on bass, Glenn Buxton and Michael Bruce on guitar, and Neil Smith on drums, pushed the boundaries from the onset. They were discovered by the late Frank Zappa, who found their mix of androgyny and humorous lyrics very appealing. He signed them to his own record label, and got them gigging around California, where they started to perfect their original brand of shock-rock immediately. After two records on Zappa's label(Pretties For You & Easy Action), they were signed by Warner Brothers Records. Originally Alice Cooper was the name of the band, and the man still went by his god-given name. Fans immediately took to calling Vincent Alice, and he realized the advantages to creating this sick, shocking character.

Their first record for WB was Love It To Death(1970), and spawned the huge hit, I'm Eighteen, and the band was all over the airwaves. To speak honestly, that track does capture the feeling of teen angst better than any I can recall. Killer,followed the next year, and is the bands best record, in my opinion. In eight tracks they capture so many feelings(straight ahead rock, trippy psychedelic songs, anti child-abuse songs), and is one of the most atmospheric records of that time period. School's Out followed in 1972 and the title track was a huge hit as well. The band was already a headliner and selling out the biggest stadiums in the world, but alcohol and ego problems were causing inner turmoil. The other band members were growing tired of Alice being the focal point of the band, and the growing theatrics in the show. 1973 brought the release of Billion Dollar Babies, the record and the tour were the biggest things the band had done to date. The tour was choreographed by Broadway names, and the stage show was so big, it couldn't even fit into some arenas. Parents around the world loathed Alice, and they gave them all the ammunition in the world to hate them with. Alice beheaded people, stabbed babies, raped nuns, you name it, he did it, and the kids ate it up like it was free candy. The tour went on for almost 3 years, and the band was in turmoil upon its completion. The other members wanted to go and record solo albums, to garner their own recognition.

Near the end of 1973, the band pulled it together, and recorded Muscle Of Love, their last record as The Alice Cooper Band. The tour did well, but Glenn Buxton's health was so bad they hired ghost players to fill in for him. At the end of the tour it was decided that the band would take a much needed break. After the vacation they were to recovene and record their best record yet. Instead, they never got back together, and Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and became a solo artist. In the next installment, we will discuss that period and Alice's new wave/art rock period, which I find to be the most apealling and intriguing.

Monday, August 10, 2009


As a music lover, I don't just listen to music to pass the time, I like to get something out of the experience. That's why I love lyrics, and pay attention them closely. One of my favorite bands is Phosphorescent, a Brooklyn by way of Athens, Ga band, that has wormed thier way into my heart with Matthew Houck's beautiful and sparse lyrics. They recently did an album of Willie Nelson covers(For Willie), and Mr. Nelson was so impressed, he got them added onto this year's Live Aid concert. Here are the lyrics for one of thier most beautiful songs......enjoy!!

" Toes Out To Sea"

drink in the darkness

then in the morning wake to sing

i'm only breathing

to soak in the sweetness that you bring

your pursed lips blow

perfect o

as you break your body

like waves onto me

so take my finger

and trace it along your parts that glow

but satisfaction is something

i don't guess i'll ever know

and i don't know

where to go

and i don't know

what it is you'd have me to be

barely walking

to carry yourself back home to sleep

it's cold to let go

but colder the longer that you keep

and you don't know?

your family ghost

won't be tamed

just by trailing your toes out to sea

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Skeleton Crew(2009)

I decided that I would not just review films that I like, sometimes you need to get the word out, so other film lovers can avoid those films. Or if you are like me, a bad movie lover, it might convince you to check it out anyway. I usually can find something to like in every bad movie, not so really in the movie I am about to discuss.

Skeleton Crew is a brand new horror film out of Finland. I haven't seen many films from this tiny country, but they have some of the best Black Metal that the world has to offer, so I decided to give it a chance. Anchor Bay usually puts out some decent stuff, and thier trailer made it look delightful. I have to say that it did have some decent gore, and that was it's only redeeming quality. It borrowed very heavily from the overrated "torture porn" genre. If you have seen any of the dreadful Saw or Hostel franchise films, you know what you are going to get here.

The film starts out with the "movie within a movie" scenario, and unfolds to be a film crew in an abandoned Mental Hospital, shooting a horror film based on actual murders, that took place in that exact location. 30 years ago, a Dr. Andersson, killed and tortured his patients, and recorded for posterity on a hand-cam. Needless to say, the director of the film, becomes possessed by the spirit of the Dr., and starts killing off the cast, to make his own movie. Sounds cool, doesnt it? Maybe on paper, but it doesn't translate well to film. I can say that this film holds the honor of having the most annoying actor ever, in any film that I have ever seen. David Yoken is that actor, he has to be seen to be believed. The ending is one of the biggest cheats that I have ever seen, and doesn't leave you feeling resolved, only pissed off!!

In conclusion, fellow bad movie lovers may wanna check this "shit pickle", but I can't rightfully recommend that you do so. If you want to check out Yoken's performance, just so that you can say you have witnessed the worst actor ever, then go for it!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Towelhead(aka Nothing Is Private)(2007)

Sometimes films are just entertaining fluff, and sometimes they can be so much more. Some films can tear at your heart strings, and some can teach lessons in morality, that is exactly what Towelhead does. I had wanted to see this since it came out, and it was on my 300+ Netflix que, but I finally received it, and watched it last night. This is the kind of film that sticks with you for days. Leaving a grimy film on your skin, that numerous showers cannot wash off. But that is a good thing, as it makes you realize some of the predjuces that we all carry around, in some form, from day to day.

Summer Bishil plays Jesira Maroun, a half-american, half-lebanese 13 year old, and she is the film's tour de force. She adds a depth to the character that makes you want to reach out and grab her, and slap her at the same time. Jesira lives with her Mom, who definitely wouldn't win any Mother of the year awards. She makes Jesira move to Texas with her father, after her Mother finds out that her own boyfriend, has been helping Jesira shave her nether regions. This was brought on by taunting from classmates and calling her "chewbacca", when she wore a bathing suit. Jesira's father is a spectactle to behold, played campily by Peter Macdissi(Six Feet Under). He sticks to the old ways of his country, and doesn't allow Jesira to wear makeup, or have any of the acoutrements that a normal teenager has.

She is taunted in her new school with racial epiphets such as "towelhead", "sand nigger", and "camel jockey". She meets Thomas, a black boy, that is particularly enamoured with her. Needlees to say, Jesira's father will have nothing to do with this, as he says it will bring shame upon her. In the meantime, her redneck neighbor, Travis, who is married with a child, decides he has designs upon Jesira. The tragedy of this story, is that Jesira has no positive role models in her life, excluding the amazing Toni Collete, who plays her other neighbor, that acts as a surrogate Mother to her. Jesira is just discovering her body, and is a chronic self stimulator, and pleases herself wherever she goes, even at school! She revels in the sexuality provided to her in copies of "Palace" magazine, provided by her pedofile neighbor Travis(Aaron Eckhart).

The film, directed by Alan Ball, is very similar in tone to Todd Solondz's masterful "Welcome To The Dollhouse". It manages to capture the painful longings of adolescense with the country in war peril of the original Gulf War-era. Late 80's and early 90's pop hits provide a nostalgic background to help you relate to the film. It is seriously one of the most amazing films, that I have seen in a long time. If films that brutally capture the teen years, despite some pedofilic scenes, appeal to you, check this out. I had to keep in mind that Bishil was in reality 19 years old when the film was shot, to avoid feeling sickened by her sexual exploits.

Good films make you think, they shock you, and should leave a lasting impression. Towelhead does all of these things and more.

Friday, August 7, 2009

KISS: Sonic Boom???

As a lifelong KISS fanatic, I am very excited by the fact that there will be a new record released by them in October. This will mark the first record since 1998's Psycho Circus, and hopefully will be a marked improvement over said record. This will be the first time that guitarist Tommy Thayer has been on a record with the guys, while Eric Singer has drummed with them on record before. All of the haters wanna complain that Ace and Peter aren't in the band anymore, but they ruined thier chances a long time ago. I loved the original band, but it will never be like that anymore. So as a mega-fan, I am happy that Gene & Paul have decided to continue rocking in thier abscense. Word on the street, is that the album will be called Sonic Boom(although it hasn't been confirmed yet). It will be a Wal-Mart exclusive, and will have 2 bonus disc's, one of the Japanese only album they did last year, when recording old songs with the new members, and a Live DVD!! I most definitely will be there to get it on release day......Fuck the haters.

Pajo-"Scream With Me"

If you are like me, you grew up with The Misfits. They were an institution, they had an evil image, catchy as fuck songs, and Glen Danzig!! Despite whatever drivel he releases now under his eponymously named band, you can't go wrong with The Misfits.

David Pajo(Slint,Zwan,Aerial M, and Will Oldham), on his third solo album, has delivered an all acoustic, cover album of classic Misfits tunes. I have to say that, despite the variety in all 10 of the original songs, Pajo makes it sound like 1 long song. That's not neccesarily a bad thing, especially if you like down-tempo folk. It's quite funny to hear classics like Angelfuck, Hybrid Moments, and Teenagers From Mars, delivered in such a deadpan manner. I have actually grown quite fond of this disc, after repeated spins. I wouldn't recommend this to casual fans of The Misfits. But, if you like Pajo's earlier works, and The Misfits, you should definitely pick this up. It only runs like 28 minutes, so unless you have ADD, the tempo things shouldnt be a problem.

The Psychic(1977)

Ok, so I am an Italian horror freak!! Argento and Fulci are gods to me. So by some chance this 1977 Lucio Fulci film has alluded me. So when my friend Jackie gave me a copy, for some reason, I filed it away and didn't watch it. I guess the same reason that I never rented it when it was on VHS years ago, I was afraid that it wasn't gonna live up to meisterworks like The House By The Cemetary, or The Gates Of Hell.

So last night, I am pilfering about to find a movie to watch, and it gleamed out at me like a beacon in the night. I slapped it into the DVD player, and sat back to watch a good ole' Italian gore-fest. Well, that's not exactly what I got!! The film begins in a flashback, and a little girl witnesses a woman take a swan dive off of a cliff. In true Fulci fashion, it shows close ups of the womans face slamming into the cliff on the way down, and getting pulverized with every blow! I was so excited......well, that's where the gore ends in this film. Don't get me wrong it's a very good film, but it is a giallo film, and not really a horror film. I really did like the film, not as much as his earlier efforts, but the acting was good, and the suspense was top-notch.

Jennifer O' Niel stars as a psychic, who marries a very wealthy, older man, who seems to be very suspicious. When she starts having premonitions about a certain room, and a woman being bricked up inside of a wall(alive), she starts investigating. When she decides to redecorate one of her husbands villas, she finds that the room that she has seen in her visions, in is fact, in her husbands house. She enlists the help of her psychiatrist, to help her solve the mystery of the body in the wall. Her husband thinks she is crazy, and she is starting to think he knows more than he is saying. In order for me to avoid spoilers, I won't say anymore about the plotline.

If you are in the mood for some Italian horror, that is lite on the gore, and heavy on the suspense, you could do a lot worse than this little film. Severin Entertainment has put this out on DVD finally, it does look a little like a video transfer, but I think that it adds to the ambiance of the film. Check it out!!

Welcome To Vitamin Burger, May I Help You?

Greetings and salutations, folks, welcome to my new blog. Blogs are about as common as athlete's foot these days, so I figured I would throw my two cents at the world! In case you don't know me, my name is Mitch, and I am 37 year old gay man. I am obsessed with Horror Films(primarily slasher films), music(many varieties, but mainly Black Metal), and food(many varieties). I couldn't come up with one theme that I wanted to devote this blog to, so I decided that it will encompass all that interests me. I am totally a novice to this blogging thing, so bear with me, and hopefully I will get better. Tips for adding pictures and cool designs to the blog will be greatly appreciated!!