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"Charismatic Icon Animal Man"

I listen to a Hell of a lot of music. However, I don't consider myself to be an expert when it comes to knowing the intricacies of the music industry, nor do I claim to be terribly selective, spending hours upon hours finding the little niche of music I love to listen to. Yeah, I get what's easily accessible. <SNOBBISH-AMERICAN-'TUDE>One of the pluses of a modernized country.</SNOBBISH-AMERICAN-'TUDE> But with that said, I do listen to more different styles of music than most people and I have a fairly firm grasp on the rock/alternative scene.

One of my favorite bands has come to be the Rollins Band. Now, most people are familiar only with Henry Rollins, the lead singer for the band. He looks scary -- not in the way of someone who looks repulsive, but more in that he isn't someone you'd feel terribly comfortable around. Rollins has been in several big-name movies like Johnny Mnemonic, a movie in which he was one of the few memorable characters; The Chase, featuring the doused match Charlie Sheen and the frequently debloused Kristy Swanson; Lost Highway, another frigging weird David Lynch production; and Heat, which is one of my favorite '90s movies. Quite an impressive resume for a musician, if you ask me.

And the Rollins Band has played a part in several other movies through its soundtrack contributions. Most notably is "T-4 Strain", a song the Rollins Band produced with Goldie for the "Spawn" soundtrack. You remember Spawn, don't you? The creature straight from Hell who's no doubt going to come back at its video release as a cute, cuddly Hellmonster ages 6-14 stuffed doll? The movie, I hear, failed miserably, offering about as much usefulness to the movie industry as Martin van Buren did to the US's history. But you've got to hear the soundtrack. Not only is the music excellent, but they managed to pull together a very diverse bunch of bands to work on a soundtrack. One of the best soundtracks I've heard. The Rollins Band has helped perfect some other soundtracks as well, including the Crow CD. Another favorite of mine (and the movie was a bit better than Johnny Mnemonic).

So what do I like about the Rollins Band so much? Well, at first, I bought "Weight", which was the album released before last ("Come In and Burn"). Listened to it purely from a musical standpoint, as I am wont to do. Some listen for the lyrics, some for the music, and some for both. With me, it takes a drilling into my head to learn the lyrics of a song.

Oh yeah, and about lyrics... Hey, you bands out there, just give us the damn lyrics in the CD booklet. We're tired of misinterpreting lyrics because you thought it'd be cool to mumble into the microphone! And what's more, if you provide lyrics, don't mess with them! Filter did a nice little jobby of putting one half of the songs' lyrics perpendicular to the other half, on top of it. How unreadable can you get?

So yes...the Rollins Band produces powerful stuff, regardless of the album. I still prefer "Weight" to the others I have heard, but the songs always have that perfect blend of anger, remorse, self-criticism, and conflict (see: Ben's Guide to What He Digs and How He Goes About Digging It). Not whiny or preachy like a bad Stabbing Westward clone.

You reached out,
You got burned,
Made tough by the lessons you learned.
You never thought they could be so mean,
Be so hard and cause you so much pain.
Like a fool,
You tried again.
You really wanted to be their friend.
But looking back you see they just wasted your time...
Self-loathing, the anger inside,
You covered it up with pride.
You always found a way to blame it on yourself.

After awhile, I started reading the lyrics of the songs to see what they had to say. Usually I don't bother, being confronted with the usual elementary end rhyme gibberish that bands like Marilyn Manson and Weezer are well-known for. But you know...most of these Rollins Band lyrics deal with conflicts I have myself. Not to elevate the lyrics to a status they don't deserve, ...

It doesn't matter what you say
Because they'll always find some meaning in it anyway.
Make them feel like they're part of some big event.
They'll be too busy cheering to wonder where your talent went.
They really need you.
They've got to have you.
You're the only one who understands.
Slender messiah, god with a song.
Turned strung out wreck who stuck around too long.
Tragic hero coming down hard.
The joke's on you, you got played like a deck of cards.

... but the lyrics deal with insecurities and unpopular viewpoints about popular media, self-consciousness, and anger towards laziness. You know by now that that's what I tend to rant about. Me. All about me. My issues, what I crave, what I don't have. Sometimes even what I do have.

Sure it's an exercise in self-indulgence, but look, no one else is paying attention, so if you're good at expressing yourself in a certain medium, why not exploit it?

The Rollins Band certainly hasn't made it into the upper tier of bands that gets played on MTV and gets plastered all over the walls of teenagers' rooms.

And me...well...you know me.

My favorite bands have to have lyrics that I identify with. They can't just be bands I listen to simply for the music (well, techno doesn't count ;) ). There has to be something else there, something to personalize the music made by some group of schmucks you'll never meet and never see and won't know they even exist if it weren't for the TV in front of you.

And the Rollins Band has done an excellent job of that, entertaining intelligent and conflicting self analysis in its many albums. It also has a great, hard sound to it with a great lead singer.

It just goes to show you how the good are often not recognized, but used if and only if convenient to those who have the power to abuse the freedom of success they more than likely do not deserve.

As for me, I think I'll go back and buy some older albums by the Rollins Band, just to see how they've evolved. I doubt they'll beat "Weight", but I guess we'll see, won't we? Find a band you really enjoy and support it by buying its albums. A lot of excellent bands out there aren't getting gobs of easy money because they're rarely played or seen.

At least expend the extra effort to buy the albums of those bands you hear about but never hear. Just because you haven't seen the video for "Liar" on MTV doesn't mean that the Rollins Band is horrible.

I'll hide behind a smile and understanding eyes.
And I'll tell you things you already know
So you can say, "I really identify with you so much."
And all the time that you're needing me
Is just the time that I'm bleeding you.
Don't you get it yet?
I'll come to you like an affliction
And I'll leave you like an addiction.
You'll never forget me...you wanna know why?
'Cause I'm a liar.

Just means that the discriminating youth of our day prefers to sit around all day merely to tape the videos for Vanilla Ice, "Barbie Girl", or the Spice Girls. Heh.

Sad, isn't it?

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