GWAR's Dave "Oderus Urungus" Brockie Put the World Into Perfectly Disgusting Perspective

GWAR's Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus
Bandleader, visual artist, entrepreneur, monster-maker, cable news pundit and World War II scholar Dave Brockie is dead. He leaves behind an enormous extended family of artists, musicians and cohorts that he supported, inspired, and gave a start to. The Richmond, Va., native is probably best known to Earth-bound scum as Oderous Urungus, the hulking alien frontman and mastermind behind heavy metal legend GWAR.

Simpletons would probably dismiss GWAR as a gimmicky novelty act, but real heads know that it was one of the greatest bands to ever grace our puny presence. Formed in 1984 in the midst of Reagan and PMRC-era censorship and paranoia, GWAR managed to take things far beyond the point of bad taste.

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Jonathan Richman to Appear on Radio Valencia, Discuss Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground

Jonathan Richman
This Sunday, March 2, would have been Lou Reed's 72nd birthday. To honor him, the great local singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman will appear on Radio Valencia's Wax! Crackle! Pop! show to talk about his hero Reed and his most famous musical project, the Velvet Underground.

Richman, of course, is famous in his own right as the leader of raw power-pop band The Modern Lovers, and a longtime solo artist known for his sincerity and playfulness. Early on, Reed and the Velvets were a major influence on Richman -- it's not hard to hear at touch of that raw New York drone in "Roadrunner," for example.

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How Girl Talk Taught Me to Love Music

Categories: Appreciations

Christopher Victorio
Girl Talk at Treasure Island Music Festival. He performs tonight for the Independent's 10-Year Anniversary series.
There's something crucial about listening to music as a teenager that no one tells you at the time: If and when you do fall in love with a certain sound or scene, you're going to fall hard. It's going to be an affection so consuming, an infatuation so serious, that you may cling to that aesthetic with unabashed loyalty. This phenomenon of adoring something so seriously can happen to anyone, but when you're a teenager and click with a sound -- or an artist, or an album, or even a song -- that bond can easily feel like the center of your world.

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Girl Talk

R.I.P. Pete Seeger, the Voice of Americans Overcoming

Pete Seeger in 1955
Pete Seeger, who died last night at age 94, was the voice of America. His high, wailing tenor had a fragile, human quality that struck deep into your heart when you heard him sing. He didn't have the smooth voice of a pop singer. He had the rough, untrained voice of a working man, which is what he was for most of his life, despite being born to a relatively well-off family. Without him, the 1960s folk revival -- a movement that revitalized American popular music -- wouldn't have happened. He opened the door that Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, the Byrds, and every other folksinger and folk rocker walked through.

When he discovered an old spiritual called "We Will Overcome," he rewrote it into "We Shall Overcome." That song spread quickly throughout the ranks of demonstrators and activists to became the anthem of the civil rights movement. It helped transform America's racial politics and remains as moving and relevant today as it was when Seeger and his co-writers -- Guy Carawan, Lucille Simmons and Zilphia Horton -- wrote it in the late 50s. (The writers all agreed to donate the royalties the song made to civil rights organizations. The We Shall Overcome Fund is still generating enough money to fund African American groups fighting discrimination.)

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Harry Connick, Jr. Is the Greatest Thing That's Ever Happened to American Idol

Categories: Appreciations

Just as the youngsters -- with all the twerking and the swag and the Instagram filters -- are apparently deserting Facebook in droves, American Idol no longer holds the appeal that it did five years ago. In fact, Wednesday's premiere episode for Season 13 arrived with the lowest viewing figures for an Idol premiere ever. (Still, with 15 million turning in, we doubt Fox is all that worried.) It's fair to say that part of the problem with this season is that, despite the return of J-Lo on the judges' panel, there aren't that many teenagers who really give a flip about the other two judges, Keith Urban, and now, Harry Connick Jr.

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The Everly Brothers Blended American Music Like No One Before Them

R.I.P. Phil Everly
There were harmonies in American pop before the Everly Brothers, mostly based on the singing you'd hear every Sunday sitting in the pews of almost any African American church in America -- strong call-and-response harmonies and rich choral tapestries of sanctified soul. Doo Wop, early girl groups, and R&B artists used them, and kids like Dion and the Belmonts and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers blended them with the sounds of the street corner and took them to the top of the charts. Those early kinds of harmonies were ubiquitous -- until the Everly Brothers arrived.

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In Light of Foreverly: Growing Up With the Stark, Sentimental Beauty of the Everly Brothers

Categories: Appreciations

The original.

The Everly Brothers
were my first favorite band, although at the time I first heard them, I had no concept of what a band, or group, or even an orchestra was. I did have a brother, however, and listening to the Everlys made me imagine how much fun it would be to sing with him, to sit around our home strumming guitars and making music together. The voices of the Everlys always sent chills down my spine. When I was young, I didn't know they were singing harmonies, only that the combination of their voices produced a shimmering, visceral effect, one that made me feel things I'd never felt before.

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Here's To You, Alternative Tentacles: Top 3 Things We're Covertly Listening to at Work In Honor of the Punk Label's 33 ⅓ Anniversary

One-time presidential candidate/prolific social critic Jello Biafra plays with his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, at Slim's Nov. 15.

Are you reading this while sitting in an office with other people? If so, did you bring your headphones today? Do you have a good sense of when and where it's appropriate to run in circles, smash things, and loudly swear about religion, the government, your parents, etc.?

Alternative Tentacles, the storied record label founded in San Francisco in 1979 by Jello Biafra and East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys (initially in order to self-produce "California Uber Alles," arguably one of the best debuts of all time), is throwing itself a party Friday night at Slim's to celebrate its 33 ⅓ years in existence. Now based out of Emeryville and still overseen by Biafra with the help of a tiny staff, it's one of the longest-running independent record labels in the U.S. We have it on pretty good authority that this show will be a fine place to take part in the aforementioned activities.

However! If, like we do, you want to get started early, below are a few historical gems the Internet has bestowed upon us. (We know Jello isn't really a fan, but there's some pretty good stuff on there.) Note: We're not responsible in the event that you get too amped and behave inappropriately in an office setting.

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Lily Allen's Back and Mad at the World (Especially Robin Thicke)

Categories: Appreciations


It's been three long years since Lily Allen bestowed some good old-fashioned British snark on our ears, but yesterday she re-emerged with some fresh new material and, boy oh boy, it's bitchier than ever. Literally.

Before you hit play on "Hard Out Here," you might want to look over your shoulder and make sure your boss isn't there -- mostly because of the giant swipe she takes, 3.08 minutes in, at Robin Thicke's repugnant "Blurred Lines" video. Hold onto your pants, everybody, because it's a doozy...

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One Fantastic Ride of a Life: Dub Mission's DJ Sep Remembers Cheb i Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah and DJ Sep.

[After hearing the sad news that DJ Cheb i Sabbah passed away last week, we reached out to DJ Sep, producer/promoter and founder of Dub Mission, who was also a friend of Sabbah's. She wrote back with this remembrance.]

On my computer is an 82-page "worksheet" document, an absurdly long to-do list. On page 11 is a reminder to send Cheb i this email:

So I discovered something interesting the other day....."Cheb" means young. "Sabbah" means morning. "Cheb i Sabbah" means young of the morning. Sepideh [my full first name] means white, used to describe dawn, as in white of dawn....WE HAVE THE SAME NAME!  :)

I never got the chance to send the email.

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