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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Me and the Major

Songs in me heads:
"Me and the Major" by Belle & Sebastian
"Fox in the Snow" by Belle & Sebastian

NME has some info about Frank Black's next solo record. Very interesting list of session musicians . . .

Neil Diamond to work with Rick Rubin. Read all about here.

Defamer pointed out this article in Variety about the narrowing window of movies' theatrical release to DVD. Then the Los Angeles Times has an article on Blockbuster's latest hang-up with late fees. Regardless, other than seeing this and this in the theater, I'm kicking it at home with this service.

Large Hearted Boy posted a link for the new video for the Decemberists. After hearing a song in CD Addict and after seeing this video, I think I need to get Picaresque . . .

Finally, here's a nice little quote from the Onion: "It says in the Bible that the morning-after pill is wrong. I believe the passage is Pharmaceuticals 3:16."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sooner or Later

Song in my head:
"Sooner or Later" by the Grass Roots

Starting off the week with some sad news. Very sad.

Last week, it was the La's. This week, add the dB's to the list of '80s bands getting back together. Rolling Stone has the story.

The tracklisting for Paul Westerberg's forthcoming "best-of" is available here. Thanks Chrome Waves!

Jon Brion is working with Kanye West? Read more here.

Weekend wrap-up:
Took things very easy due to the heavy rain on Saturday. Stayed in and listened to Neil Young's Decade and disc 1 of the 1981 10-CD box set Friday and Saturday night, respectively. I watched this classic movie Saturday morning and was really blown away by it. More proof that Hitchcock made human dramas dressed up as genre pictures, Notorious is way more of a love story than a spy thriller. Since I'm through with that DVD and the two other DVDs I checked out, I sent them back this morning. I hope to get End of the Century, Burn to Shine and another installment of Later with Jools Holland in the mail this week.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Knockoff Project

Ever look at an album cover and say, "This looks familiar"? This website may help.

Have a good holiday weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A relatively small number?

Here is a blurb in the New York Times about the American version of the Office:
"Luckily for NBC, which bought the rights to the British comedy, only a relatively small number of viewers in the United States have seen the BBC version."

Only a relatively small number of viewers? This sounds in league with Simon Price's allegation that the Manic Street Preachers have no American fans.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Whatever and Ever Amen

I remember seeing the "Battle of Who Could Care Less" video on 120 Minutes. After viewing the video a few times and really enjoying the song over and over again, I decided to pick up their album, Whatever and Ever Amen. From then on and well after their break-up, I've been a big fan of their music and Ben's solo material. Whenever people ask me, "Who are your favorite bands?," Ben Folds Five is one of the names I bring up along with face to face, Wilco and so on and so forth. I think the reason why I still like their music is that their songs are full of melodic hooks, smart lyrics, great harmonies and lots of other things I can't put into words. I've often listened to their records in my car and they feel like a great soundtrack to a lonely drive. Not to sound melodramatic, but I remember driving around Kingwood on prom night looking for a pair of guitar strings with my dubbed cassette copy of Whatever and Ever Amen on. I had no interest in going to prom and I was doing what I wanted to do. However, I feel like the path of thinking for myself is who I am, but it's really lonesome. Maybe I'm just tired of living with the degree of misery I've inflicted upon myself is why I started thinking about this yesterday when I picked up the remastered version of Whatever and Ever Amen (with some great bonus tracks). I still love the twelve songs on the original record, but I don't really feel like slipping into an old shoe at the moment. The bonus tracks (especially "Video Killed the Radio Star," "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Mitchell Lane") make me put the CD in the car stereo often. Maybe when I hear Ben's next solo record, Songs for Silverman, at the end of next month I'll have some new piano-based rock to chew on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Onion

I don't know if the Onion has done something along these lines, but I think this would be funny:

Woman appearing to be on cell phone was actually talking to herself
HOUSTON, TX-Lisa Jones was spotted near the intersection of Maple and Pearl talking outloud to no one in particular on Tuesday afternoon. Due to the popularity of headset attachments on cell phones, many of the passersby believed Ms. Jones was talking on one. Jones, self-diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, said she was conversing with one of the many voices in the "room full of voices" she hears in her head. No word if any charges were filed as Ms. Jones was whisked away in a straightjacket.

We spies/We slow hands

Songs in my head:
"Hungry Eyes" by Eric Carmen
"Slow Hands" by Interpol
"Next Exit" by Interpol

Torr posted some very cool Belle & Sebastian news yesterday. I know, all of these songs are previously released but I prefer two CDs filled with music rather than seven EPs.

Add the La's to the list of bands reuniting, says NME.

Punknews.org has the tracklisting and cover art for the forthcoming At the Drive-In anthology. I didn't know they covered Pink Floyd and the Smiths . . .

MTV has some info about the upcoming Dashboard Confessional record.

Was this show so foreign to people that it had to be Americanized for a wide US audience? As someone who loved (and still loves) the British version, I'm in the dark as to why an American version is necessary. Think I'm blowing smoke? This franchise is very British yet that hasn't stopped it from having a wide appeal. I'm unnecessarily comparing peaches and bananas here, but my hard-headed nature encourages such . . .

Check out the press release for my book over on Mission's site.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Three days of fun at SxSW (sans wristband)

Songs in my head:
"Staying Fat" by Bloc Party
"L'via L'viaquez" by the Mars Volta
"Fooled With the Wrong Guy" by Beulah
"Operator" by Jim Croce

South By Southwest Wrap-up

Thursday night
I get in and hang out with Jeff for the night. I was still recovering from minor flu symptoms so I wasn't too keen on going to a smoking bar. We ended up playing Taboo with a couple of Jeff's friends who were well on their way to being Invincible Drunk. Somehow, Jeff and I lost to them.

Friday
Meet Nick and a wonderful mate from England named Marc at Emo's and go from there. We walk all up and down 6th Street and see a couple of bands play at a venue right next door to Friends. Following that, we get to La Zona Rosa as Alternative Press' party/show was finishing up and I met Aaron Burgess, someone whose articles I've enjoyed for the last few years. I kinda felt like Brodie meeting Stan Lee in Mallrats and thought he was a very cool and genuine guy. We briefly went to the Insound party to watch some of American Analog Set and then the three of us split up. I went to Friends for the Polyvinyl showcase and saw Picastro, Ida, Decibully, Saturday Looks Good to Me and Of Montreal. The show was awesome but the venue was packed to the gills. I made it through most of Of Montreal's set but I just couldn't take the heat and the claustrophobia anymore. 6th Street felt like Mardi Gras x 10 that night.

Saturday
Met up with Marc and later met up with Nick. Saw the Lemurs play at the Dizzy Rooster and thought they were pretty good. Marc and I walked all the way down to Waterloo Records only to get caught up in a ten minute downpour. Luckily the sun came out and we met up with Nick at Bigsby's for Young Heart Attack. Then we went to a small coffe shop close to UT and saw Bring Back the Guns finish their set. The Guns are always a sight to see but I just wish I could have seen more of their set. For the evening, I met up with Jeff and a friend of his named Alex. We wait in line for about an hour and a half to see Koufax at a sushi bar. While we were waiting we started talking to some guys in front of us. Turned out they're from Kingwood and we shared some good stories. We get in right as The Honorary Title finishes and Koufax was next. I was so excited to see Koufax for the third time and they now have Rob and Ryan from the Get Up Kids in the band. They played a lot of great new songs along with some choice cuts from Social Life. Very cool way to end SxSW for me.

Wrapping things up:
I'm amazed at how many people I recognized just walking around. Whether it be an old friend I hadn't seen in a while, a band members I had seen in the Big Takeover or meeting some of the people I've been in contact for the book, it was a really good time. The whole vibe of the events are just about playing music over the marketing of music. There were no Beatlesque mobs of fans around the much-talked about bands. Case in point, I saw three of the four members of Bloc Party just walking down the street. Nevermind the fact that their posters of their Fader cover were all over the place, they just looked as excited and curious about who's who and what's what to see around town. All in all, a very successful time. Now back to writing this book I've been telling people about . . .

Saturday, March 19, 2005

An update of sorts . . .

I'm here in Austin with a little update. I've seen some really good bands and met quite a few really cool people. The weather is pretty amazing because it's not hot; it's sunny and windy during the day and a little chilly at night. I'll go into more detail in the next few days about what all has gone on because I'm not done here . . . . .

Monday, March 14, 2005

Warmer Than Fire

Songs in my heads:
"Warmer Than Fire" by Ash
"The Sweetness Of Death By The Obsidian Knife" by Ash

Very eventful weekend:
Friday night was Red Animal War at the Gypsy Tea Room. This was a very special set that included the band's two former bassists, a second drummer, percussionist and even a saxophone cameo (for the rarely played, "Straight Lines for Construction Workers"). Jeff is off to Miami to drums to play with these guys and the other guys have other projects going on. I'm not sure if this was the band's final show, but it was a very cool set. I have pictures and the setlist to prove it . . . .

Saturday morning, I took Miss Juliet for another hour-long walk and got a little sun. The weather was warm (but not humid) and the sun was out in full effect, so the day was beautiful. After my shift, I opted to chill out at home and work on a two-disc Ash anthology. I put all my favorite album tracks, singles and b-sides onto two full CDs, all in chronological order. Shall be some good listening on my way down to Austin this week.

Sunday, an early kickball game gave me even more sun, but the experience was tons of fun. Some of the highlights were: Josh answering his cell phone and catching a pop-fly at the same time, two young kids playing a few innings with us while their parents played softball, Jason from the Happy Bullets caught two bobbled catches that bounced off the first baseman, and I scored a few runs.

Following the game, we had a big birthday party for my cousin. Since he turned 18, I figured I should give him something more than just a gift certificate, so I gave him Sparta's Porcelain and Ash's Meltdown. I prefaced my gift-giving by saying something along the lines of, "You may or may not have heard these bands late at the night on the Edge, but I think you'll like these bands." He appreciated them and believed he heard Porcelain a few nights before. Sometimes the effort is just putting the music into the people's hands . . .

Thanks to Torr's post about six Doves acoustic tracks, I know of another cool blog to check out on a regular basis.

Rolling Stone lists ten artists that currently have a lot of promotional dollars behind them.

Bob posted some news about the final Hey Mercedes show and the artwork for the final EP. Maybe "That's Right, I Said It" will be the live track . . .

I shall be in Austin this weekend for SxSW. This is my first time and I have no idea what's in store. More info next week . . .

Friday, March 11, 2005

I love the 1980s (sans cynicism)

Jim DeRogatis has a list of ten things he hates about music of the 1980s. I agree with some of them (especially the over-production, drum machines and synthesizers - those have not aged well), but I feel I should post ten things I love (read, not in a cynical way) about the decade I grew up in:

1. Ground zero for modern-day Do-It-Yourself (DIY)
Just read Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life and realize that the "decade that didn't matter" did matter. If it weren't for bands/labels recording their own records and booking their own tours, there would be no Alternative Nation.

2. The advent of the CD
After music came out on compact disc, the problems with vinyl seemed to disappear. Thanks to CD, there were no pops or cackles. The true sonic clarity of CD didn't really come into its own until digital remastering in the 1990s.

3. MTV
Yes, image has always been a cornerstone of marketing music but having a TV channel devoted to running "music commercials" was new. MTV introduced a visual radio station and introduced a lot of kids into the power of music (whether the music was "meaningless" or not).

4. Hip-hop
When I think of hip-hop, I often think of it as self-improvement through material rewards. Creating a false sense of reality is not something I can sink my teeth into, but hip-hop has done great things. Creating something out of recorded music and putting your own spin on it is unique. Granted, samplers, turntables and drum machines are not the same as guitars and drums, but they emit sounds and can manipulate sounds. A DJ or a rapper may not be 100% original with using somebody else's recorded material, but this is a form of inspiration.

5. Michael Jackson's Thriller
Funky, danceable rock with a wall of solid production translated into accessible pop songs. A record that still holds up.

6. Mindless dance music gave way to loud rock music
As years pass and things seem simpler to sum up, "brainless" mainstream music often gives way to "good" mainstream music. After years of dance music in the disco formula (repeat solid beats and simple keyboard melodies) and all the hair metal, grunge was a welcome alternative.

7. 120 Minutes
Starting in 1986, the visual radio station of MTV introduced ground-breaking artists/bands to the Sunday night specialty show audience. No matter how small the audience was, the kind of promotion made an impact.

8. Not all blockbuster bands/artists performed mindless songs
R.E.M. and U2 sold boatloads of records, yet had credibility, something so many pop acts bypassed for the supposed lasting power of fame. The morale to the story: not everything on the pop charts was "meaningless."

9. Post-punk
Using the energy and attitude of punk in songs with unorthodox rhythms helped inspire those stilted in the loud-fast-rules confines.

10. Metallica
Debate all you want on when the band's quality went down (I don't believe it ever did - it evolved), but this metal band didn't abide by rules or trends and still don't. So many metal bands stay within their parameters and burn out.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Get Up Kids (1995-2005)

Punknews.org has the info.

I Keep a Diary

Song in my head:
"I Keep a Diary" by Braid

We had a photo shoot last night at Lance's house. This was the first time I'd ever done one and it went very well. Maybe I'll post some of my favorites up on my Myspace page. Interestingly, I kept laughing at random quotes from this movie but I held a straight face long enough for the 70+ pics we took.

This is some sad news. For those who didn't know, Hill was from Haddonfield, New Jersey (the basis for the setting of Halloween and town name) and had a hand in writing the Laurie Strode character as a very strong person.

This box set from fellow Exploding Plastic boarder Ian is pretty darn sweet. 10 CDs of music, all from 1981. Ian says he's not printing any more copies, so I'm glad I ordered a copy just in the nick of time. Shall be a good companion to Left of the Dial.

Torr has some good news for us Idewild fans: Warnings/Promises will see a US release in August. The record is really growing on me . . . Just for fun, play Hope is Important and then Warnings/Promises and they sound nothing alike. Sometimes I wish more bands were like this . . .

Monday, March 07, 2005

In 1985 . . .

Songs in my head:
"Until the End of the World" by U2
"Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" by U2
"Colorblind" by Counting Crows
"1985" by Manic Street Preachers

Weekend wrap-up:
Friday, I stayed in and watched Episode IV. What can I say, the movie still holds up and the changes from the original to the Special Edition don't bug me (does it really alter the whole movie when Greedo shoots less-than-a-millisecond before Han?). The heart of the film is still intact and I recognize the changes from the original, so it's not like my childhood has been "erased" by them.

Saturday, I took the dog for an extended walk (read: one hour up and down our street) and she wasn't pooped when we came back. After my shift, I went out to Fort Worth to see these guys, these other guys and a few other guys play a tsunami benefit. Very good show and good to see a lot of familiar faces (especially this guy).

Sunday, I laid around and took it easy before kickball at 4pm. Light mist didn't stop us from playing one and a half games. Kickball is always fun even when our team gets slaughtered. Just playing with your friends/peers is so much fun.

NME reports that the next Weezer album is called Make Believe.

On tap for book writing/revising this week: I hope to get more of the Jawbox chapter revised while ironing out a rough draft of the At the Drive-In chapter. More vague info later . . .

Friday, March 04, 2005

Manuscript replica . . .

Song in my head:
"Rolodex Propaganda" by At the Drive-In

We recorded two new songs last night at a recording studio in Irving. The studio time was free because the studio engineer was a recording student and recording us was for a project. We recorded two songs live in about an hour and they turned out very well. I couldn't believe that the recording didn't take too long and sounded so good. The engineers were really nice and very appreciative that our songs had only one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, one voice and a bongo (they recorded death metal bands all this week).

Book-wise, I keep meaning to go through the Jawbox chapter with a fine tooth comb, but I keep getting side-tracked by stuff. Despite getting side-tracked, I did some tweaking on the At the Drive-In chapter. Maybe I can get more stuff done during the day today while I do laundry.

Look at track 15 on this compilation. I think this is a textbook example of why people don't like it when a song gets a lot of airplay/exposure to a wide audience.

Seeing a band named this makes me wonder: is a band named the Critics not too far away?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

One Day Later . . .

Songs in my head:
"Snowden" by Doves
"Landed" by Ben Folds

Thanks to everyone who responded to yesterday's post. I'll try and keep this blog up-to-date on book-related things, so keep checking back in. Funny thing is, I came up with a good idea for my next book yesterday morning. Luckily, no pile of shingles were dropped on my head to get inspired.

I picked up the Mars Volta's Frances the Mute and Doves' Some Cities yesterday. I give both very high marks after a few spins. Probably the biggest surprise with Frances the Mute is the funky-with-Spanish-lyrics track, "L'Via L'Viaquez." The track is wild and has this great slow-down with all sorts of percussion and piano. Now I haven't listened to the record the whole way through, but I enjoy what I've heard. I think Some Cities is Doves' best overall record. Lost Souls has some bright spots in a rather down feel, The Last Broadcast has amazing anthems, but Some Cities trims the fat away and makes the songs into a solid album. Highly recommended.

Here's another '80s college rock band reuniting: according to MTV, J Mascis, Lou Barlow and (hopefully) Murph will perform as Dinosaur Jr for some shows this summer and fall. Now if Ben Folds Five could get back together . . .

Honestly, if Ben Folds Five didn't get back together, I wouldn't mind. Their three proper LPs (and their amazing performance on Sessions at West 54th on DVD) still hold up for me and I look forward to what their ex-bandmates do next. I downloaded Ben Folds' new single, "Landed," last night and listened to it about six times. It's the kind of track that makes me smile. The wait for Ben's new record Songs for Silverman is a little long: it will be released at the end of April. While the wait is long (yeah right), the remastered version of Whatever and Ever Amen (with "She Don't Use Jelly," "Air" and "Mitchell Lane" as bonus tracks!) will be released on March 22nd, according to the Suburbs. Woo-hoo!!!!!!

Reading DVD File's review of the Incredibles, I think I should just buy the DVD, even though I haven't seen the movie. It's on my Netflix queue but sometimes when the demand is so big for a movie, you have to wait a while to get it. Hmmmm . . . .

This book won't be out for a couple of weeks but I'm really looking forward to reading it. I started reading Russell Simmons' Life and Def last night. A very straight-forward and easy read so far . . .

Now back to making my book an easy and straight-forward read . . .

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

One Year Later

It has been one year to the day that a small pile of shingles hit my head and I started writing this book. Sounds like a strange form of inspiration but that's what happened. Here is an update on what all has gone on since the last March 1st . . .

My initial intentions were to showcase various bands that made an impact on what is sometimes dubbed post-hardcore, rarely dubbed whatever-you-call-it-core, but often dubbed emo. My intentions are still intact but there is a whole lot more to just retelling a band's past. Inspired by the idea of "art and community" (as Zach Barocas put it), this is a serious look at creating art on your own terms, being part of a community and why those are still important today. I'm not trying to sound bitter, but after seeing a form of underground music be molded into something simple and marketable, I feel I should speak up.

So far, I have interviewed the following (this is not for bragging rights - this is to show how extensively I've gone to get facts straight from the sources, not just from articles and interviews):
Ian MacKaye, all of the members of Jawbox, all of the members of Braid, Adam and Chris from Jawbreaker, William Goldsmith from Sunny Day Real Estate/The Fire Theft, Dan and Davey from the Promise Ring, Jason Black from Hot Water Music, Matt Pryor from the Get Up Kids, Jim Ward from At the Drive-In/Sparta, Jarrett Wrenn from At the Drive-In, Zach Lind from Jimmy Eat World, engineer/producer Ed Rose, Dave Marsh from WHFS, John Davis from Q and Not U, Matt Lunsford from Polyvinyl Records, Elizabeth Elmore of Sarge/the Reputation, Norm Arenas from Texas is the Reason, Mike Harbin from Burning Airlines/Silverthree Recordings, Darren Walters from Jade Tree, Bryan Jones from Horace Pinker/OffTime Records and Ron Marschall from Christie Front Drive.

In addition to my interviews, a lot of my research material comes from back issues of Punk Planet, Alternative Press, Law of Inertia, Flipside, Maximumrocknroll, Guitar World, Rolling Stone, NME, various online articles, interviews and fanzines, along with films like Another State of Mind, DIY or Die, Hype!, Instrument, The Decline of the Western Civilization and what I remember from listening to Sunday night radio specialty shows and watching 120 Minutes on MTV. That's just the tip of the iceberg with research/inspiration; almost everything I watch/hear influences me.

The structure of this book is very similar to Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life. As in, the chapters are broken up by band/label. I am focusing on one crucial label and nine bands: Dischord Records, Jawbox, Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate, Braid, the Promise Ring, Hot Water Music, the Get Up Kids, At the Drive-In and Jimmy Eat World. I'm not trying to be super-comprehensive; I'm focusing on bands/labels that you cannot argue their influence. Sure, there will be a lot of bands/labels that will get at least a mention, but those nine bands and one label are the main focus.

As of today, I have significant ground broken on all of the chapters (including an introduction and an epilogue) but I have no idea as to when this will be done. Watch this blog for updates. Feel free and leave a comment below or drop me an e-mail at this address (connect the dots here so I don't get spammed by bots): ejgrubbs at comcast.net