Monday, December 19, 2016

Are We Madly Insane?

Dr. Dog
Shame Shame
2010, ANTI-
produced by Rob Schnapf
Tony Leaman - bass, vocals
Scott McMicken - guitar, banjo, vocals
Frank McElroy - guitar, vocals
Zach Miller - pianos, organs
Juston Stens - drums, percussion
Erik Slick - drums, percussion

  • Stranger
  • Shadow People
I heard this band do an interview for the Bonaroo festival for NPR, which included a version of Jackie Wants a Black Eye. They played that festival on Friday in The Other Tent. Of course, I looked the band up and found this record.

It's their first album on ANTI- records after spending five years with Park the Van. The album has a throwback sound that reminds me of the Byrds, CSN, and the Band. It is light and folksy, the kind of songs that are easily reproduced by open mic warriors. They are a product of the 90's jam band scene that produced bands like Guster, Dispatch, and Wilco. This one may be their best. Also, it comes with a fold out poster!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why Do You Hate Me So? I Dont Know

Hootie and the Blowfish
Cracked Rear View
1994, Atlantic
produced by Don Gehman

Darius Rucker - vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion
Mark Bryan - guitars, mandolin
Dean Felber - bass, piano, clavinet
Jim Soni Sonefeld - drums, percussion, piano

  • Hold my Hand
  • Let Her Cry
  • I Only Wanna be with You/Use Me
  • Time
  • Drowning
This band stormed onto radio in 1994. After the pop-synth, glam rock of the late '80s and the thrash metal, grunge of the previous few years, the Hootie and the Blowfish released a debut so different and refreshing that it climbed the charts.

If I had to describe a distinguishable 90s pop rock sound, I'd say Hootie and Blowfish nailed it. They are bouncy and fun and happy-go-lucky, light with a hint of gospel, but also had a roots blues sound that will break your heart. Darius Rucker's baritone was something rare in rock music. I think, in retrospect, the band always had a country cross-over feel, so it is no surprise that Rucker made a career in country.

This record sold 10.5 million copies in its first year. It went Platinum 16 times. It is the 16th best selling record in the US of all time. It was number one on Billboard 200 five times and also was number one in New Zealand and Canada.

As quickly as this record rose, there was an equal and opposite backlash. I found this odd at the time, and still find it odd now. Was it because radio overplayed it? Was it because there were unfounded rumors they were gay? Was it because the front man was black in a predominately white man genre? I'm not sure, but the record still holds up as a genre melding eulogy to a loved one. Haters, predictably, were wrong.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Take the Gun, Leave the Canoli

The Gotham mafia may be one of my favorite Batman villains. No one else seems to fawn over them the way fans do for any of the other Batman villains. Looking up Falcone or Maroni fan art on the internet is useless. I can find a billion awful Harley Quinn pieces, but Carmine Falcone turns up just a few scans from comic pages.

Batman's origin always included becoming Batman to fight crime in Gotham, a city with a high crime rate. Miller, I think, wanted to ground his Batman in reality, and historically big cities had organized crime problems. Gotham, being the culmination of every corrupted, dark, and dangerous part of every city everywhere, should have organized crime.

Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Sal Maroni as a mobster responsible for disfiguring Two Face, and created Tony Zucco as the mobster who put a hit on Dick Grayson's parents. But organized crime didn't take a front seat to Batman stories until 1987. Frank Miller rebuilt the Batman mythos, taking it back to the 1940s stories of Kane and Finger, which meant darker, grittier stories. The Batman:Year One origin debuted Gotham's organized crime family, the Falcones.

Jeph Loeb's The Long Halloween expanded the Falcone Crime Family, basing it off of the Corleones from the Godfather. He tied the Maronis and Tony Zucco into the story as well, but maintained that the Roman Empire, as Carmine "the Roman" Falcone's criminal organization is known, had the most power and influence.

The pulp theme of mafia families holding so much power that only a vigilante operating outside the law can take them down can be seen across all entertainment mediums, in novels, comics, and movies. The Long Halloween/Dark Victory storyline helps transition Gotham organized crime from realistic mobsters to comicbook villains like the Black Mask and Maxie Zeus by showing the downfall in a who-dun-it serial killer murder mystery. Spoilers follow, just so you know...

Carmine Falcone:
The head of the Falcone crime family. Took power from his father, Vincent, the founder of the mob family. His sister Carla Vitti lives in Chicago and is the head of a crime family there. Known as the Roman. Created by Frank Miller in 1987. He has claw marks across his face, courtesy of Catwoman. He is murdered by Two Face.

Sofia Falcone:
Changes her name to Sofia Gigante, also known as the Hangman. She poses as crippled in a wheelchair, and takes over the family business after her father Carmine dies. Gigante murders ten people connected with Harvey Dent and his rise to District Attorney. She is also killed by Two Face.

Mario Falcone:
Based on Michael Corleone, Mario is the elder son of Carmine. He is absent for most of the Long Halloween and Dark Victory storylines, as he has been living in Italy undercover, much like Michael Corleone in the Godfather. When Mario returns to find his family mostly dead and the business in ruins, he scuttles the rest, burns the house down and rebuilds.

Alberto Falcone:
The younger son of Carmine, Alberto is also the Holiday Killer. He fakes his own death and starts targeting Maroni Family members, killing a dozen including Salvatore and Luigi Maroni, and his own aunt Carla Vitti. He is later killed by his sister Sofia.

Salvatore Maroni:
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1940 as a vehicle for creating Two Face, Sal Maroni is the mob boss responsible for scarring Harvey Dent with acid. He is the son of Luigi Maroni, and father of CJ, Pino, and Umberto Maroni. The Maronis and Falcones have a long history of rivalry and competition. Salvatore is killed by Alberto Falcone.

Tony Zucco:
Also known as Boss Zucco, he was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger also in 1940, and also as a vehicle to introduce another more important character. Zucco is the mobster responsible for extorting the circus, and sabotaging the high wire act, killing Dick Grayson's parents. Jeph Loeb included Zucco as an underboss in the Maroni crime family. Dick Grayson and Batman scare Zucco so much, he has a heart attack.