DeFaced by Michael Stahl: Refused Are (Not) Fucking Dead

23 04 2012

DeFaced‘s Michael Stahl graces SNT with a concert review… !

In January, I wrote here that The Shape of Punk to Come, by the Swedish hardcore band Refused is a must-own album due to its uncanny levels of creativity and staggering influence on the world of heavy music. I’d also mentioned on a few occasions that the anti-capitalism/anti-establishment/anti-anything-organized lyrics contained in said record are still incredibly relevant and “could give the Occupy movement a potential rallying cry.” Thanks to a twist of fate, or sheer laziness, Da Leopard finally posted the piece about a week ago [ed’s note: i resent that..], days before Refused were set to play the yearly Music Festival To End All Music Festivals, also known as Coachella, and two sold-out nights at Terminal 5 in New York City, none of which I was aware were in the works upon penning my article last winter.

Incredibly, I was able to, not only seemingly score tickets to last night’s Terminal 5 show, but I hijacked them off StubHub just this past Tuesday for seventeen bleepin’ dollars! Throw in the required overnight shipping and fees and I swore that my fake Refused ticket was in the mail. But, oh no, by Friday afternoon my very legit-looking pass was in my hand and I cradled it like I might imagine one would a baby sloth who had lost its way.

Sunday had come and, wondering when the jig would be up, I anxiously handed my ticket over to the girl who really looked like she wanted to be there, so she could infrared Star Trek laser blast the barcode and, potentially, allow me into the venue. Alas, God saw that the ticket was good.


DeFaced by Michael Stahl: Five Rock Albums You Should Own

16 04 2012


That Inspired Big-Name Acts You Probably Don’t Own, But Totally Should

A Blessay by Michael Stahl

Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts
Released: 1998 Genre: Punk/Hardcore/Emo/Screamo
Influenced: At The Drive-In/The Mars Volta, Isis, Thursday, Panic! At The Disco

From the moment this album begins with a sound byte declaration of “They told me the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do. Somehow baby, I never thought that we’d do too,” privileged listeners become immediately cognizant of an impending assault of creativity comparable to few other sources. Now over 13 years old and the extreme polar opposite of “dated,” this work of Swedish hardcore rockers sounds as fresh and edgy as ever, thankfully rendering that intro’s self-fulfilling prophecy unfounded. Pit Shape against any punk album since and many would have a fit trying to comprehend how it has gone so unnoticed in the mainstream and calculating an assumed release date would prove equally as trying. As the United States continues to toil in rocky, murky economic waters, the opening lyric “I’ve got a bone to pick with capitalism / And a few to break” could give the Occupy movement a potential rallying cry. From “Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull,” the newly-hooked travel through some radio station signals (interludes that were totally jacked by Panic! At The Disco on their work A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out) to land on “Liberation Frequency,” a track about the band’s desire to hear more envelope-pushing music dominate the airwaves, vocally highlighted by: “We don’t just want air time / We want all the time / All of the time.” After the eardrum clapping “The Deadly Rhythm” (with jazz ensemble intro), the more catchy “Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine,” and the acid jazz break “Bruitish Pome #5,” the album’s cornerstone track “New Noise” begins to unfold with marching band drums building upon a repetitive guitar sequence. After a slowed-down house music sidestep, vocalist Dennis Lyxzen returns to yelp: “Can I scream?,” hoping that the louder he offers the option to listen to more challenging works of art, the more people will heed the call. Some of the most incredible audio engineering exists midway through this LP when, as “New Noise” comes to a prolonged, screeching close, a live speech about capitalism actually being “organized crime” is blended in as a skit/intro to “Refused Party Program,” creating the illusion that the previous song was being performed on stage all along. More calls for revolution are announced in “Protest Song ’68,” a plea for people to revert back to the proactive mindset of the 1960s. By the time one gets to the tour de force “Tannhauser / Derive,” exhaustion may have settled in, but the Celtic violin startup will redux the hype that has been similarly insisted upon by Dropkick Murphys in their more recent and popular classic “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” Front-to-back, The Shape of Punk to Come is a must-own and appears to only have grown in terms of relevance and importance.


DeFaced by Michael Stahl: LEGO Creative

19 01 2012


A Blessay by Michael Stahl

A recent Newsweek article about falling levels of creative aptitude in American children over the course of the past two decades is incredibly alarming if one subscribes to the thought that there is a correlation between a person’s creative ability and their chances of constructing a thriving life of productivity. E. Paul Torrance did and he was dubbed “The Father of Creativity.” Torrance was able to whip up a series of tests that have become the “gold standard in creativity assessment,” which are still used today. Scores have been decreasing, after holding steady for thirty years, which likely comes with little surprise to even the most casual of pop culture observers, who have watched sitcoms dematerialize into reality television and Hollywood produce countless unoriginal movies either based on already-published works of literature or previous films. In the first week of 2012, Jersey Shore unleashed their fifth season on the universe with promises of more “crazy” antics and nine of the top ten grossing films in America are either film versions of another’s written work or a sequel, with the lone exception, The Darkest Hour, having “a flatlining screenplay and [an] absence of even a single compelling character.” (Perhaps the next winter solstice will bring a more favorable “spiritual transformation;” the doom and gloom is already here.) However, a subtler trend has also emerged that further exploits a lack of priority placed on creativity and it lies in the recent advertising campaigns for one of the nation’s most beloved toys: LEGO bricks.

Currently, LEGO heavily promotes their play sets, which come with pieces more intricate than ever before and instructions that are similar to those for IKEA furniture.


The advanced LEGO technology has made it difficult for children to create their own unique toys because the pieces included in the sets are specifically designed for kids to construct the model on the front of the box, with the directions also stifling independent thought on the part of the builder. Furthermore, the commercials barely have the presence of a child at all. Faceless fast-motion hands put together a toy that resembles something kids have recently seen in a movie or a cartoon that miraculously comes to life on its own. Capitalistic cross-promotion is at work here, creating a greater disconnect between the builder and the authenticity of what they have assembled.


DeFaced by Michael Stahl: Vote Mex In!

4 01 2012


A Blessay by Michael Stahl

Yeah I’m a Mets fan, so you can try to discount this entire piece as orange and blue propaganda. I don’t care. Living in New York City, I’m exposed to an over-abundance of positive Yankee press and the Mets deserve to have someone be bombastic in their name for a change.

I fell in love with the Mets in 1985, and ’86, obviously, validated my admiration for them. Mets pride though has eluded me, and the rest of their fans, ever since. Unless we count Endy Chavez’s catch in a losing effort against the Cardinals or Jose Reyes’ cowardly bunt single in the first inning of the last game of this past season which helped award him the batting title as outstanding achievements, there hasn’t been much to pound our chests over. Therefore, the 1986 World Series Champs team remain the darlings of the Mets fan base who are under the age of about 50.

Keith Hernandez, arguably the most valuable player of that team, found himself on the ballot again for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, this time with the Veterans Committee granting him consideration. He failed to gain the necessary votes, but year in and year out, it continues to baffle me as to why he is not a Hall of Famer. For so many reasons, Hernandez should be inducted, giving the diehards something to cheer about.

The Numbers:

When stacked up against other Hall of Fame first basemen, Keith Hernandez’s offensive numbers, though not face-melting, are respectable. He has more hits, home runs, runs scored, and a higher batting average than five of the eighteen who are already in the Hall and bests half of them in the highly regarded category of on-base percentage. Many argue that because he was a first baseman and not a prolific power threat, which is to be expected from that position, Hernandez’s accomplishments fall short. However, anybody who knows a shitball about the history of first base is aware of the fact that Keith holds the record for Gold Gloves there, 11, all of which were won consecutively. It was his defense that had the biggest impact. To that, critics will point out that only middle-infield players should be voted in solely based on defense, like Ozzie Smith and Bill Mazeroski, because a lack of offensive production from those spots is outweighed by the benefits of having speedy, agile, skilled glove-men present there. But if there isn’t room in the Hall of Fame for the greatest defensive first baseman of all time, then how can defense be considered part of the criteria at all?

Other Honors:

Keith Hernandez won a batting title and the National League MVP in 1979. In 1982 he won the World Series with the Cardinals, knocking in eight runs in the seven games. 1986 brought him a second championship ring and he was the Mets’ unquestioned leader. Keith was an all star five times, won the Silver Slugger twice (but was not an offensive threat…), and finished second in the MVP voting in 1984.

His Mustache:


I’ll just give you Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage. All in the Hall of Fame. All have amazing mustaches. Keith’s is right there with ‘em.


New Series on SNT: DeFaced!

20 11 2011

We at SNT are very pleased to introduce a brand new series of posts:

by Michael Stahl

           You’ll never be the same

We’re definite fans of Mike’s reality-twisting wit and perceptivity, and of course the fact that he knows very well how to roll with both the profane and profound! We’re really psyched to welcome him to the SUGAR -N- THUNDER family with this, his inaugural post, that offers a new take on one of America’s best loved sitcoms: Seinfeld!

DeFaced will feature Mike’s counter-critical approach applied to, not just film and television, but, in the spirit of SNT’s all-inclusive wingspan of topics, “anything and everything” that comes to either his drunken or sober mind.

Welcome, Mike!


A Blessay* by Michael Stahl

To begin simply, Seinfeld is one of the best television shows of all time, regardless of genre.  And it would be hard to argue against anyone who ranks it at the very top of such a list.  The innumerable Seinfeldisms have been well-documented: “double-dipping,” “re-gifting,” “close-talker,” and so on and so forth.  Multiple networks still constantly air reruns, and we’re grateful for that because it’s still better than anything else on (Can it be over 13 years since the last new episode?).  This brand of success is attributed to the very plain fact that bazillions of people can relate to the content, just like any form of entertainment that garners such mass appeal, coinciding with overwhelming critical applause.  I present to you a new way to quantify that show’s ability to attract such a dynamic audience with the use of New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix.”

I’d guess that anybody who picks up a hard copy of New York Magazine, and is familiar with its typical layout, will inevitably make a concerted effort to peruse the final page.  The Approval Matrix is the staff’s way of creating a “deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on [their] taste hierarchies” and is divided into quadrants rating what is despicable vs. brilliant vs. highbrow vs. lowbrow in all that is that edition’s week in pop culture.  Should a (drunken?) person view The Approval Matrix as a dartboard, Seinfeld, the series as a whole, scores a bull’s-eye.