As far as causes go, I have always had mixed feelings about the use of music to aid whatever or whoever needs help. Requiring help means you needs to appeal to a broad audience that has as a common thread said cause. So how is it that one can use such a thing as music, with all its subjective glory, to hit enough people in their squishy emotional center with something that can either have too much variety to try to please too many, or base it all on just one style and only appeal to a certain sector of a community? Things like this are done constantly, but with the help of well-established, commercial artists with mass appeal. Unfortunately, for decades now, one cant help but visualize television ads and infomercials, pleading for your help with this or that, with patronizing, orchestrated scenes played out before expensive cameras. These commercials have one of two effects on people, as they either make the gullible cringe, cry and contribute, or cause the logical to cringe and click either MUTE or either of the two channel up/down buttons, annoyed by the insincerity of these charities that most often only aid their own overhead “needs”. Honestly, how on earth can one know for sure where the hell their donations are going?
Sarah McLachlan can star in all the TV spots she feels like, even the likes of Trent Reznor, whom I admire and is a huge influence on me, but “sad” music over stock footage of animals suffering only serves them as artists in the public view. It is excellent PR. That reflects terribly on society. Why should it take a million-dollar face for you to put a dent in your credit card? There is lots of selfishness to be seen here. It is certainly convenient for you to enter a few digits, receive some flattering correspondence in your mailbox [printed on very lovely card stock and such] which you can slap on your fridge or bumper, like a jewels encrusting your flashy Good-Guy badge. It doesn’t matter to most if they made a difference or not. It takes great means and effort pillowed by great resources to make an actual difference, let alone to track down your donation.
Charity is a tricky business. It has become just that, business. The people who unwittingly support crooks in the guise of angels are the same people who wish to “save the earth” and all that jazz. While this is not without good sentiment, it is not very smart if you’re just going to trust anyone who is hundreds, even thousands of miles away, hiding behind stars and galas. The real way to help is to get your hands dirty. Missionaries have only the church to thank for their travels, and the underhanded and cruel practice of spiritual exploitation and degradation throw a terrible moral stain on whatever aid they give. The most tangible way of helping is to go out and DO. Getting involved on a local level is the best an average person can do if it’s truly heart-born within them to have any real impact. Not everyone is Sally Struthers. It makes no sense to attach a highly emotional cause to likening yourself to a public figure, that is only akin to self-glorification. There seems to be little way around it, and if you’re a musician, you’re there. So, one of the few ways to use your name in cases like this is to attach something worthwhile to it, something genuinely enjoyable. Painfully clear examples of what “We Are The World” spawned abound.
Awfulness of that farce aside, this compilation is no such embarrassment. This is not some sappy, $19.99+s/h embarrassment. This is a fantastic, uplifting collection of tunes, compiled to help out a local, proven no-kill shelter and animal rescue organization. This is not a disc that sits in some warehouse by the thousands in order to fill the coffers of some corporation-sized entity. PAWS, or the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, is a multi-faceted organization, not multi-tentacled with suckers waiting to grasp at anyone and anything. This wonderful group handles not only a long-term home for disadvantaged pets, but offers low-cost veterinarian services, has a foster care network in place, and is non-profit.
I didn’t rant about music and celebrity to simply be bitter, but to help illustrate the contrasts of that world, and the Post-Industrial one. Many of us lead somewhat solitary lives, seeking only sparse company that either stimulates with intellect, or gives us unconditional love. Most often, the only way this kind of love comes to us is in the glorious form of a pet. When to the rest of the ignorant, emotionally maladjusted world we seem to be malignant, subversive degenerates, our capacity to feel is only displayed in the company of creatures that have only a sense of survivalist-judgment in place by nature, not prejudice or impossible societal standards. And yet, with standards in mind, this compilation is one that raises not only standards for tools of charity, but for compilations themselves.
There is an immense amount of heart in this pair of discs, but next to the deep feelings that bore these songs are the songs themselves, and most are good, not just good intentions. The first CD, “Attack Cat” is the Deathdisc. It is fascinating to listen to a disc jam-packed with a genre that I thought was teetering on the ledge over oblivion, Death Rock. My experience in Los Angeles has been that of countless Joy Division rip-offs and Siouxsie clones, but many here have a voice of their own, but very much rooted in the style of this dark rock-form. There is the intertwining of styles, with psychedelia, electronic, even surf-rock. Disc two is not without its guitar-based tracks, but it is more synth-centric. The direction of this side “Nap Cat” compliments the lighter beat-based of disc one, and the variety is no less impressive.
It is refreshing and heartwarming to really feel as if the projects that contributed their talent to this specially priced set truly put their own attachments to their own domesticated critters to great use. The best thing about “More Than Nine Lives” is that it is literally more than just a fund-raiser, it’s a group of tracks that is self-upholding, not just something to grab because you wish to help out a fine organization. You don’t have to be a crazy cat lady or dog enthusiast [or hoarder] to appreciate this compilation, just a big lover of darker music in the rock and electronic vein of things.
1 Mueran Hermanos – Exito De Una Ex Santa
2 Bestial Mouths – Caverns
3 Synapscape – Red-eyed Puffback
4 100bluemen – 4Pfoten Fur Ein Halleluja
5 Blood Rhythm – Get Your Paws out of the Goblet, Aliecat!
6 The Frozen Autumn – Rallentears
7 Bootblacks – Save Me Mariah
8 Sullen Seranade – Coyopya
9 Nadja – Prowl
10 The Spiritual Bat – Hypnotic
11 Cult Of Youth – Untitled
12 His Electro Blue Voice – Red Earth
13 Dream Affair – In Vain
14 Moon Women – A Collection of Thought
15 Entertainment – The Threatening Paws
16 Lowness – TTMC
17 Creepoid – Stranger
18 Seamripper – Seven Stitches
19 Nothing – The Rites of Love and Death
1 Access To Arasaka – Freeside
2 Author & Punisher – Below Above
3 SGNLS – That’s the One
4 Claps – Silent Still
5 Monica Richards – The Strange Familiar (Radio Feline Mix)
6 Primary Colors – Fading Collapse
7 Crash Course in Science – Cow Cat
8 Void Vision – Not Much of Anything
9 Revel Hotel – All I Never Wanted (Let It Go)
10 Worms of the Earth – Kaivalya (Genghis Cat Mix)
11 Erik Wollo – New Horizon
12 Black Tape for a Blue Girl – Caughtstranger (previously unreleased instrumental mix by Sam)
13 Zero Degree – Halcyon (Planetfall Mix)
14 Totakeke – Onchyectomy
15 Live Not on Evil – Scary Polka
16 Population – Mourning Dawn
17 Love is Nothing – All Cats Are Grey