Archive for April, 2009
If you’re into inflammatory comments and scathing professional commentary, then an afternoon spent reading film reviews for the locally produced Gone the Way of Flesh will do your body good. Based on what I can tell, most critics think the film is poorly made, incoherent, and unwatchable schlock (though, in this writer’s eyes a little schlock never hurt anyone), but to get the whole picture of this little movie, we must first take a moment to learn about a band.
The band in question is a Pittsburgh based outfit going by the name of The Jason Martinko Revue (fronted, not surprisingly, by the multi-talented Jason Martinko), a band that takes classic ‘50s drive-in era rock and melds it with a swing/surf-punk sensibility to create a sound equally fresh and nostalgic. Formed in 1999, and performing (according to their website) “in countless seedy bars & roadhouses,” the band achieved a moderate level of success in 2003 when they released a self-titled album that had a modest number of sales. It was also around this time they came up with an extremely innovative way to promote their band: writing a movie.
That movie, of course, became Gone the Way of Flesh, a tale of a killer that was stalking women at rock concerts, kidnapping them, and visiting unspeakable tortures upon the groupies with a maniacal zest usually reserved for screen villains and Fox News correspondents. (Guess who portrayed the band in the film.)
Taken on its own, the film seemingly has plenty of faults, but when viewed as part of an inclusive multimedia experience, Gone the Way of Flesh takes on a truly engaging and fun perspective. (And it certainly has become such an experience: the band recently screened the movie at the Oaks Theatre in Oakmont, Pennsylvania—and immediately played a live set afterwards.)
With the torture-oriented subgenre of horror becoming increasingly popular in recent years (think Saw or Hostel), and its audience growing larger and larger, the fact that Martinko and Co. tapped into this filmic subculture was ingenious, helping to push their music past the bar scene that can trap so many local bands. Not only that, the film itself has become something of a minor cult favorite, going so far as getting a glowing endorsement from the godfather of gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis.
“I thought I’d seen gory, irreverent, don’t-give-a-damn movies as far out as they could get. Wrong! That label now belongs to GONE THE WAY OF FLESH” – it’s right there on the DVD box. As far as the horror industry goes, it’s the seal of bloody approval.
Following the film’s 2007 release, the Jason Martinko Revue showed little sign of slowing down, releasing a new album, “Damaged Goods” (which, coincidentally, features a song titled “Gone the Way of Flesh”) and recently announced that their production company, the aptly named Cut’N’Run Productions, is already at work on creating a sequel, tentatively titled Gone the Way of Flesh II: Fresh Bloody Flesh.
So critics can say what they like, but when considering the innovative route the Jason Martinko Revue has taken in getting their music to the world, I can’t help but applaud their efforts. Whether they are getting screams from fans at their concerts or screams of terror in the theaters, I maintain that they are a bloody good time.
This spring, Open Thread is holding its first-ever Tri-State Chapbook Contest in partnership with Encyclopedia Destructica! We’re taking manuscript submissions now until June 1st, so check out our handy guidelines.
Once the deadline rolls around, Open Thread will announce a set of finalists for each state – Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – and send the manuscripts off to our final judges! So start submitting, and tell your regional cohorts! In the meantime, get to know our guest judges.
Ohio: Tyler Meier
Tyler Meier’s poems have appeared in AGNI, Cranky, Forklift, Ohio, Prism Review, and the Seattle Review. Poems are forthcoming from Bat City Review and Washington Square. He works as the managing editor of The Kenyon Review.
Pennsylvania: Claire Donato
Claire Donato grew up in and around Pittsburgh, PA. She is the former poetry editor of The New Yinzer and has studied poetry at The University of Pittsburgh and, most recently, Brown University. She is the author of a chapbook, Someone Else’s Body (Cannibal Books 2009). Her poetry and prose have been published or are forthcoming in journals such as Harp & Altar, Caketrain, Coconut, Fou, Gustaf, Dewclaw, The Open Face Sandwich, and Gray Tape. She currently lives in Providence, RI.
West Virginia: Isaac Pressnell
Isaac Pressnell received his MFA in poetry from West Virginia University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tar River Poetry, Ninth Letter, DIAGRAM, Opium, and Bravado. He lives in Keyser, WV where he teaches English at Potomac State College.
Tyler, Claire, Isaac, and all of us at Open Thread can’t wait to read your chapbook manuscripts, so upload yours now!
Little over an hour south of Cleveland in a small town called New Philadelphia, I stood witness to an awesome funkadelic assault on the senses, a musical melee delivered by mercenaries of sound who call themselves The Jazz Cream Assassins, and admittedly, fell victim to the groove.
Originating in Athens, Ohio, but touring healthily around the eastern Ohio/Youngstown area, the Jazz Cream Assassins are a jazz outfit that harkens back to the era of 70s-era funk fusion. Being a big fan of 70s and 80s exploitation cinema, I could not help but be reminded of some of the very best grooves from some of my favorite blaxploitation film scores when the Assassins got into the midst of their instrumental riffing, and that, in of itself, is perhaps one of the highest compliments I can pay a group of white guys playing within this genre.
Fronted by Zach Quillen (though, with the extreme talent possessed by each and every member of the outfit, it’s hard to imagine just one man out front), the band melds traditional jazz with vocal oriented tracks (that would be Quillen’s smooth voice you hear) to create a soundscape at once familiar to smoky bars and gin joints, but also shockingly fresh and new. The band truly excels when they are playing one of their original tunes, such as the unabashedly direct “Dance Bitch”, which encourages you to do just that, or the band’s ultra funky titular tune, “Jazz Cream”, which I considered to be a great highlight of the evening, as it certainly got the boys and girls alike out on the dance floor to shake it like no one was watching.
The band also showed their innovative skills when playing cover versions of songs such as Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, turning a straight-forward acoustic folk hit into an extended jazz number, complete with instrumental solos and a rhythmic breakdown that took Stephen Stills & company’s classic protest song and turned it into a sweat inducing jam.
By this point in the review, I think it is clearly obvious that I cannot recommend the Jazz Cream Assassins enough, and if you can get to see them live (and you should, they seem to have dates lined-up from here until the end of the Mayan calendar), you will not be disappointed.
For further information on the band, as well as several full length song samples, check them out on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/thejazzcreamassassins
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