I have been really obsessed with Antony & the Johnsons since I moved to Los Angeles. I'm not really sure why. I did first listen to him when I initially moved to Los Angeles in 2001, so maybe I have him attached to Los Angeles in my mind. I was immediately in love with him. He was like a stretched out version of Marc Almond-- a bit more intense and not as flamboyant. I guess he had a different kind of flamboyance. He's also incredibly interesting and completely engaging. I wanted to know more about this man. My love for him grew after I eventually moved back to San Francisco. After recently finding myself living back in L.A. once again, I inevitably began listening to all his albums. I listened to them over and over again as I unpacked and rearranged my new apartment. I even broke out a live bootleg album that a friend of mine had made for me. I normally stay away from the live albums-- I would rather physically be there at a live show-- but I even became obsessed with this live album and soon had all his comments to the crowd memorized as if they were part of the album. So of course I was excited to find out that Antony would be featured on a new album coming out this year. Hercules & Love Affair just released their self titled album in the U.K. on DFA Records. You might have to wait a couple months for a domestic release, but in the meantime it is more than worth the import price for this amazing new debut album. You will find Antony on the vocals for four of the ten songs. He also sings some back up on an additional song.
I was really not a fan of Greek mythology in high school. I actually failed the test we had on the subject and had to take a creative writing class that same year to make up for my failing semester of AP English. My English teacher was obsessed with mythology and I seriously think 95% of the semester was devoted to mythology, just as 95% of my junior high English class had been devoted to Anne Frank. But things tend to always happen for a reason. My creative writing teacher was one of those inspiring teachers you have that you remember forever. The class was fantastic and I ended up writing some fantastic little stories and even wrote a whole play about high school angst with one of my classmates. The class opened up my mind and really helped me to start seriously thinking about life and literature. Still though, any time I hear anything about Greek mythology I get a really sick feeling in my stomach. Homer's Odyssey still gives me chills when I think about it. Maybe someday I will try and tackle it again. I may have a better ability to understand it after watching all these movies about Hercules.
In spite of my gut reaction to mythology, The Clash of the Titans was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I think it might have just been because of my senior year high school teacher. Perseus, played by Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans, was the great grandfather of Hercules! There was actually a film made out of the Odyssey in 1997 starring Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi, Isabella Rossellini, and Bernadette Peters. I only wish this had aired on television when I was still in high school-- I may have done better in the class. Hercules has been the subject of many films over the years. Lou Ferrigno played him the 1983 movie of the same name. Kevin Sorbo played Hercules in the 90's television show. Ryan Gosling played "Young Hercules" in 1998.
Here is where it gets really weird: I was just watching The Terminator last night. (It is something I like to do a couple times a year.) The opening scene shows Arnold having a conversation with 3 street punks. One of them is Bill Paxton, who finally got a fantastic role on Big Love. One of the other guys is Brian Thompson. I was actually looking at him last night thinking to myself, "I know that guy was in a bunch more movies but I just can't remember which ones." So I had answered my very own question, but by accident. Brian Thompson played "Punk #2" in The Teminator. This was his first role in 1984. 16 years later he played Hercules in the television adaptation of Jason & the Argonauts starring Jason London as "Jason." And Brian Thompson also had a role in the Kevin Sorbo show Hercules: The Legendary Journey. And how could I forget the most amazing Hercules of all, which was Arnold Schwarzenegger in Hercules in New York from 1970! This was also Arnold's first movie! It seems all the Hercules movies and shows can be connected together. And of course, Hercules & Love Affair are both from New York and they could have easily called themselves "Hercules & Love Affair in New York." I could go on forever.
So I guess I have a love/hate relationship with Hercules and Greek mythology, but I absolutely love this album by Hercules & Love Affair. I even think I might love the artwork and packaging as much as I love the songs themselves. Seriously, it is currently at the top of the list for album packaging/artwork of the year. Because of this album I think I am going to actually make a top ten album packaging list of the year. It still manages to fit into the hip electro look of DFA but it is also very classic looking. The album is some serious fun. They may have been aware of how fantastic and great this album was as they were making it, but that does not make it any less fantastic. It could have easily been released in 1984, but it also could have easily been released in 2010-- which is also when the new Hercules movie comes out!
Antony's voice is always fantastic, and it just flows perfectly into these songs. They would have been amazing electro songs before he was even added into the mix, but he just makes them that much better. The other songs feature Nomi, Kim Ann, and Andrew Butler on vocals. Even with all these different vocal styles and personalities, the album still flows perfectly. I recommend that you put the album on repeat, because my only complaint is that it is a little too short. As soon as it ends you will want to listen to it over again. After a great year of music last year, I was seriously worried that there would be nothing to look forward to this year, but luckily that has not been the case. The movies this year might be getting off to a horrible couple of months, but music seems to be just getting better and better. This album really can't do anything but make you feel fantastic. It has got a great disco sort of feel to it, but it's not copying a genre or making fun of it. It feels like the future. This will most likely become the album of the year and be bigger than Madonna. I love it.
Here is the video for Blind...
I really love when album release dates get pushed backwards. It seems that albums are always getting delayed and confusing the fans more than necessary. I love it when an album actually gets released before it was originally planned. This happened with two albums this week. The Raconteurs' next record was going to come out in a couple weeks but is now coming out today. Gnarls Barkley was also going to be in a couple weeks but the release day actually got moved to last Thursday. Whatever the reason may be, I love the fact that distributors and retailers can work it out and actually make an album come out early. It gives me hope. By the way, the new B-52's album is also fantastic. It has been a long while, so you may not expect it, but they are just as fun as ever.
also out today...
"Funplex" by the B-52's
"Oi Oi Oi Remixed" by Boys Noize
"Greatest Hits" (domestic version) by Morrissey
"Odd Couple" by Gnarls Barkley"
"Consolers of the Lonely" by the Raconteurs