Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Perhaps some of you have already heard about the band TERRIBLE FEELINGS. I wanted to share some (particularly extreme) thoughts on the group after seeing them when Night Birds was in Europe because I simply couldn’t stop thinking about how great they were. When I got home (now weeks ago) I wrote what you see below. I honestly read it back to myself and laughed - it didn’t seem possible that I could be accurate, so I decided to wait a bit and re-read it, thinking my perspective might change from such an extremity. Well, it didn’t! Read the following and check this band out online. I have 2 of their three 7”s here at Co-Op 87 if anybody needs the real thing …
From the UK to Germany to France and back and more - Night Birds’ 2011 European tour was laced with cool new bands. For some reason though, the band I heard about the most was a new Swedish group - TERRIBLE FEELINGS. “Angst-ridden power-pop”, “gloomy; with great energy”, “weird, not like anything else” … it seemed like people couldn’t pin down an exact (or even helpful) description for the band, and after hearing how great they were so many times, I honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to like them. Being wrong was never more delightful. Night Birds’ last gig in Europe was in Bremen, Germany with none other than Terrible Feelings. As they hung out before the show, shot the shit with the other Night Birds, and set up they all seemed perfectly sweet and well-mannered.
Then, about to get into their set, they started to test their gear a bit … Generally, I’m not into too many guitar sounds I hear live. I don’t think of myself as a snob, but I really do lean strongly to the side of treble-soaked reverberating wackiness over anything that’s bound to come out of a Marshall stack. So, when Anton of Terrible Feelings started filling the room with his wildly echoing double Music Man amp set up, I almost dropped my drink.
THEN, they actually started playing.
It was like someone set a wild animal loose in the room. Individually, the band were trapped in their own worlds of manic but perfect performance - the rhythm section of Andy and Willy pounding away a solid foundation in an educated Garage rock fashion, leaving space above for Anton (who quite seriously is one of the greatest guitar players I’ve ever seen) to weave rabid, reverberated lines of melancholy psychedelic surf-pop all around it. And Manuela - dear God! A possessed vocalist of the highest order, at once magnetically sexual and legitimately terrifying, she can crawl and slide with the best of them. I couldn’t help but think of early prime-era Debbie Harry or Iggy. And if you’re lucky enough to catch her eye, you can see the hot-orange glow of Hell in her gaze. This is a band without fear, and everyone in the room was wrapped around their little finger for it.
Some bands can ensnare an audience with antics. Some with politics, and some with cute outfits. Rare today is the group that actually mesmerizes an audience with the base elements of pure, white-hot Rock N’ Roll - which to me means the perfect blend of one thick stream sheer unbridled live ferocity and another of naturally brilliant song writing craft. And that’s what Terrible Feelings are, Rock N’ Roll; in the truest sense of the term. Meaning that while Terrible Feelings are instantly classic and widely appealing in their energy and ability in the way that the true greats of music were, they’re also totally (shockingly) fresh. The rather drastic comparisons that come to mind are band like the RAMONES - blending their obsessions with junk culture with primitive performance and marrying love of Glam and misfit-rock to the wide-eyed simplicity of 50’s and 60’s AM top 40. Or NIRVANA, who took all that the Ramones showed them, threw in the heaviness of Black Sabbath; filtered it through inescapable familiarity with the best music on the 1980’s underground from Scratch Acid to the Wipers to the Pixies and laced it with the pained scrawlings of a suicidal teenager’s notebooks for lyrics.
TERRIBLE FEELINGS’ music displays knowledge of every worthwhile shred of music that preceded it and basically sounds like none of it. Fucking rare.
I too will offer a confounding personal description of a band that I’d actually feel comfortable calling “THE NEXT BIG THING” (a phrase that’s really become antiquated beyond belief, but still - if there’s any justice or hope left in this cold, cruel world TERRIBLE FEELINGS will end up rich and famous beyond belief). To these fairly dumb American ears I hear kinship to the tough, fuzzy genius of SHOCKING BLUE’s first LP but with keen understanding of any decent counter-culture aural fad of the 90‘s and 00‘s … or perhaps the earnest pop genius of the first two BLONDIE LPs being ground though a pre-heroin STOOGES meat grinder. Take all of that diarrhea-of-the-keyboard nonsense I just said and put it next to this - hopefully most of you are familiar with the HIPSVILLE 29 B.C. compilation series, and it’s the first thing I thought of when I heard Terrible Feelings. Painfully REAL music, with equal amounts of strength and somberness, played by young people who seem as if they would die if weren’t for being able to hammer out these crude dollops of heartfelt, honest Rock N’ Roll. It’s “the real deal”. No shit, no joke, no fuckin’ around.
As a sincerely neurotic and clinically anxious pessimist I’d also like to bring up the unbelievable lyrical content that Terrible Feelings manages to bring to the already musically-flawless table:
“Don’t have childish visions
You won’t achieve a thing
There’s no meaning”
“Deny yourself fulfillment dreams
And you will live happily”
“Where do good dreams go?
I haven’t seen them for a long, long time
To my unborn child
There is nothing to enjoy in life.”
These are lyrics of stark naked sincerity, with one foot firmly planted in the cement of teenaged frustration and the other in the tar of adult intelligence. The words of Terrible Feelings songs are akin to the kind of things those of us with an unshakeable affinity for despair repeat to ourselves in our heads over and over and over again; unable to break the dark spell of gloom cast by being able to see the world as it actually is. In a way that I can easily compare to Nirvana and Leonard Cohen, Terrible Feelings have lyrics that you’ll actually want to read along with as you listen to their records. For those of us who live in the dark, Terrible Feelings will mean a whole lot.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
FRANK HENENLOTTER RETROSPECTIVE
Uncut, uncensored, unhinged - Director in person!
November 4-6 at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave, NY, NY 10003
“I always felt that I made exploitation films. Exploitation films have an attitude more than anything – an attitude that you don’t find with mainstream Hollywood productions. They’re a little ruder, a little raunchier, they deal with material people don’t usually touch on, whether it’s sex or drugs or rock and roll. They’re what I grew up on.” –Frank Henenlotter
Anthology is thrilled to unleash a wild and bloody batch of Frank Henenlotter’s classic films, all uncut, uncensored, and completely unhinged. Henenlotter is one of those mythic directors that people immersed in Exploitation and Horror culture absolutely worship. His knowledge of genre and classic films is scholarly, he’s been one of the primary behind-the-scenes brains at Something Weird Video since their breakout, and his films are both celebrations of American Exploitation cinema and legitimate extensions of it. It’s a tough line to toe indeed, but being an obsessive 42nd St. moviegoer from the time he was a teen was the perfect classroom for Henenlotter – he endlessly soaked up celluloid scum until he had no choice but to make his own vile offering to the cruel gods of ‘the Deuce’ in the form of his first feature film, BASKET CASE.
BRAIN DAMAGE (1988, 84 minutes, 35mm-to-video.)
Considered by many hardcore Henenlotter fans to be his finest, BRAIN DAMAGE is a wild yetcohesive patchwork of addiction-fueled mania, set in the disgusting glory oflate-80s NYC. Brian meets Aylmer, a mysterious, ancient, snake-like (ok, phallic) parasitic creature that lives off of brain juice, which it consumes by poking a fang into the host’s spine. The reward (or bait) that Aylmer offers for his meals is an overpowering color-soaked mind-trip that proves to be quite addictive. Gory, goopy, and hilarious, BRAIN DAMAGE is also somehow personal and touching. It’s perhaps the best example of Henenlotter’s extraordinary ability to make us sympathize with characters who are insurmountably separated from society by deformity and dementia. Featuring spectacularly funny (and uncredited) voice work from none other than John Zacharley! Drastically cut in its original theatrical release, BRAIN DAMAGE will be theatrically screenedhere totally uncut for the first time. – Friday, November 4 at 7:00 and Sunday, November 6 at 4:30.
FRANKENHOOKER - (1990, 85 minutes, 35mm.)
Easily Henenlotter’s most comedic film, FRANKENHOOKER still packs a wallop of 42nd St. sleaze, coated in bright purple slime. It’s the weird tale of Jeffery Franken (played by the hilarious James Lorinz of STREET TRASH and PUNCH THE CLOCK), a med school drop out who tragically loses his bride-to-be in a remote-control lawnmower accident. His love for her runs so deep, however, that he devises a way to get her back – and with a better body this time. Traveling from suburban New Jersey into Manhattan to find specimens for his fiancée’s reanimation, he crosses paths with tough guy pimp Zorro, and the downward spiral of fun andfreakiness goes full speed from there on out. It’s Henenlotter’s twist on BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and his version has a lot more prostitutes than James Whale’s. Not to mention “Supercrack”… –Friday, November 4 at 9:30 and Saturday, November 5 at 9:30.
BASKET CASE - (1982, 91 minutes, 35mm-to-video.)
The cult classic that started it all, painstakingly restored this year to its intended specifications and now completely remastered. Duane Bradley has a relationship with his twin brother that most people would consider odd – after all, Duane was born with his brother Belial growing out of his right ribcage. Yes, it’s disgusting – that’s what their father thought too, so he hired some unscrupulous doctors to sever the boys’ ties. Henenlotter’s debut is the most bizarre tale of brotherly love ever committed to film, and a brilliant, low-budget time capsule of Times Square and NYC in all its early-80s scum and glory – seeing the streets as they were then is worth the price of admission alone. Due to painfully scarce prints, BASKET CASE hasn’t been screened theatrically (possibly at all) since its 80s stint as a real-deal NYC Midnight Movie. We won’t tell you what’s in the basket though…you’ll have to see for yourself. –Saturday, November 5 at 4:45 and Sunday, November 6 at 6:30.
BASKET CASE 2 - (1990, 90 minutes, 35mm-to-video.)
Sequels can be tricky business. Duplicating the original film’s storyline almost never works, but departing from its style isn’t a solution either. Henenlotter pulls off the impossible here with a wildly original follow up that maintains thefirst film’s strong characters. Kevin Van Hentenryck returns as Duane Bradley, still toting around his big ol’ basket. This time he escapes the confines of the concrete jungle for a nice relaxing stay with Granny Ruth, perfectly played by legendary jazz vocalist Annie Ross, of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Granny Ruth has a soft spot for nature’s special ones, and she knows that other folks don’t share her point of view. So she’s worked hard to secretly operate a safe haven for freaks – lots of freaks – and lovingly takes Duane and Belial under her wing. But, as outsiders get wind of who might be hiding out at Granny Ruth’s, the boys’ sibling rivalry kicks into high gear again and the real freakshow begins.
–Saturday, November 5 at 7:00 and Sunday, November 6 at 8:30.
Credits: Organized by Mike Hunchback; special thanks to Frank Henenlotter, Joe Bob Briggs, James Glickenhaus, and Nadia Rawlings.