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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Warped Two

Reading through Pete's article on DFW's suburban mall punk, I find myself preparing for a major generation gap at Sunday's Warped Tour date. Seeing myself, a thirty-year-old with an old soul but reluctance to adhere to certain adult responsibilities, being around a bunch of teenagers and college students eating up all sorts of music, multimedia, and extreme sports, will definitely be something I don't see everyday. And that's OK by me.

I remember seeing a major generation gap when my band opened for Tilly and the Wall a few years ago. None of us had heard of the band, but there was a line almost wrapped around the venue before the doors opened. We played to our biggest crowd, and many of them were teenagers or UNT students who had never heard of us before. After the show, our lead guitarist came up to me recalling times when he wondered why old guys were at punk shows. Now he was the old guy, and just didn't get what these young folks were about. Personally, I didn't understand why all these folks in thrift store clothing were doing choreographed dance moves to modern hip-hop playing on the PA speakers.

Accepting the fact that people older than me gave me room to like what I liked when I was a teenager, I choose to not dump all over teenager's tastes in modern music. Make no mistake, I'd rather jam out to Hot Water Music's No Division than Paramore's Riot!, but that's what I do on my own time. That's what I value about listening to music by myself. My tastes aren't threatened by mall punk, yet things can feel incredibly alienating when people seem all excited about the kind of clothes the members of Forever the Sickest Kids wear or how many records Hawthorne Heights sold in one week.

I know there are times when I can be the bitter old man, yet when I see somebody that's my age or older be even more bitter, it's amazing how I can wise up. I don't see a sense in tragedy that At the Drive-In turned out the way they did or how the Get Up Kids ended up second on a four-band bill with Dashboard Confessional headlining. That's just the way things happened, and no amount of lifetime bitterness can really change that. So I just accept the fact that teenagers will like what they like and instead of sneezing at it, try to get a sense why they like it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Warped

This Sunday will mark only the second time I've been to the Warped Tour. I was asked if I planned on covering it for the Observer, and I figured what the hell. I figured this will be a worthwhile (and very large) show to cover, so I'm looking forward to it. Of course, I'm over-preparing for a long, hot day with all sorts of precautions. Sometimes I wonder if the Boy Scouts motto of "Be prepared" is more about overpreparing and overanalyzing for things that may or may not happen. I know that all too well.

I got lucky when I went to my first Warped Tour back in 1998. Since there was a threat of rain, the entire show was moved from the parking lot to inside the Astroarena. The Astroarena was built for conventions and not built for concerts, but that didn't stop Nirvana from coming through there on the In Utero tour. I never heard any complaints about sound or the sound system, but then again, you can miss a lot of over-ring and flutters with earplugs in. Keep in mind, that over-ring is what causes your ears to ring for days after the show if you didn't have earplugs in.

Anyway, because of apparently crappy sound system in the arena, NOFX decided to throw their entire payment for the day out into the crowd. As somebody who had spent an entire year on a few e-mail discussion lists reading debates about punk rock, making money off of playing punk rock, what it means to sell out, who has sold out and who hasn't sold out, none of those debates mattered when I saw this sea of teenagers and college students rush to grab a dollar bill or two.

There were many great sets I saw that day, including Bad Religion, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, 22 Jacks, Unwritten Law, and the Rev. Horton Heat. And I got to see them all in the safe and cool confines of the indoors.

But now, looking at Warped Tour in 2009, I understand I'm not the same pop-punk/hardcore fan that I was in 1998. I've been critical (and still am) with the idea of mall punk, mall emo, and mall hardcore, but that's simply the purist in me. Another side of me comes through when I think about how glad I was that there was (and still is) something like the Warped Tour.

Jaded hipsters who claim to value booty-shaking music as much as atmospheric, Beach Boys-like rock can sneeze all they want to at the bands on the Warped Tour. Yet there's something to be said about music that impacts you at a young age and you still value that music years later when you don't listen to it that much (or at all) anymore. I haven't heard any of the latest records from any of the bands playing this year's festival, but there are quite a few bands that I look forward to seeing (like Bad Religion, the Ataris, and Underoath). I still have a taste for this music, so I figured I'll go for it and hope to have a good time, even though it will very obvious I am not a part of the target audience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking a break from all your worries

Once again, a look into my motivation to do things and the lack of motivation to do things.

In the last month or so, I've decided to take on a feat that seems big and momentous, but I'm up for the challenge. And that challenge is to watch all eleven seasons of Cheers. Watching all those episodes might take the rest of the year, but I don't mind. And I don't mind hearing "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" over and over again.

What prompted this desire came from the last show I had a tremendous drive to watch from start to finish: the re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica. While watching the "Taking a Break From All Your Worries" episode with Ronald D. Moore's commentary on, he confirmed that the episode's title was indeed a nod to the Cheers theme song. Couple that with the fact that the entire series was on DVD, I figured why not.

I saw a few episodes of Cheers when it was originally on. But due to the fact that the lighting (yes, the set's lighting) was dark and the subject matter seemed very adult-like, I cannot remember which episodes I ever saw in the original run, and I cannot say I was a fan of the show. Well, thanks to whatever technology that made the episodes look better on DVD, I can now see Sam's eyes and the bar itself. And it helps that I'm older so I get more of the adult subject matter.

Contrast all this with trying to get into Strangers With Candy. Jason lent me the entire series on DVD, and despite rave reviews from people I trust, I just cannot get into this show. Getting through the first disc was difficult, and I'm not that compelled to finish watching the entire series. Too many one-off episodes with very little continuity can make me wonder why I'm watching something. Couple that with the fact that I didn't have the drive or tremendous curiosity to know how the show begins and ends.

So I guess that's a good way to say that when I'm completely driven to do something, I want to see it through to the end. But if I'm not, doubts and overthinking will just derail everything. Thus explains plenty of other things in my life that have nothing to do with watching TV shows on DVD.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

8

Well, after months of rumors, the big news is now official: the original line-up of Sunny Day Real Estate will stage a fall tour to coincide with reissues of their first two albums, Diary and LP2. Couple that with more rumblings about the recent patching-up between former members of At the Drive-In and the Get Up Kids reuniting and touring (as well as Hot Water Music), and you have some really interesting codas to the bands featured in POST.

Am I happy that some of the bands I featured have reunited? Sure. Am I in a rush to put out an updated version with the band chapters for the Get Up Kids, Sunny Day Real Estate, and At the Drive-In? Not really. My book covers roughly the years between 1985 to 2007, even though I made the material as current to when my deadline for edits came (which was mid-2008). You can't wait forever for these things. I had heard about discussions of a Sunny Day reunion, but nothing was set in stone. Again, I couldn't wait forever on these things.

Besides, the whole coverage of the book is of a certain time and place. As I've repeatedly looked at Our Band Could Be Your Life as inspiration, I'm glad that bands like Mission of Burma and Dinosaur Jr got back together years after the publication of the book. Yet when I want to understand why they're revered in the first place, the beginning of the story is more important than the coda.

I look forward to seeing Sunny Day Real Estate and the Get Up Kids when they come to town later this year, but for me, the impact of these bands has already been set in stone. There was a major time in my life when this stuff was my absolute favorite music, and to be honest and hope I don't sound like I'm "over" this stuff, that time has passed. I'm glad there are more upbeat endings, and once again, I'm glad I didn't print certain quotes from some people I interviewed saying their band(s) would never reunite.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What a Wonderful World

Something peculiar came over the speakers at the Tom Thumb I regularly shop at a few weeks ago: Joey Ramone's version of "What A Wonderful World." In that moment, I realized that everything is right in this world. Sure there's unpleasantry and unfairness, but to hear Joey's rendition of a song made so iconic by Louis Armstrong, in a place that caters towards anyone and everyone, was great.

What I find interesting is how all of my life, up until college, the music played in grocery stores was easily considered soft rock to easy listening. I still love that music to this day, but I understand when certain people curse the name of Barry Manilow or Engelbert Humperdinck for creating schmaltz for the establishment. That kind of music is the opposite of rock music: loose, care-free, and angry. In other words, music that's perfect for parents shopping for juiceboxes and grandparents looking for Fixodent.

If anything, I would expect Kenny G's redundant version of "What A Wonderful World" (where, like Natalie Cole's version of "Unforgettable," sampled the original song and added new things on top of it) to be played in a grocery store. So hearing Joey's rendition -- which sounds pretty much exactly like if the Ramones did the song -- I just had to smile.

I argue that there are many little things in life that make life incredibly worthwhile in between the few big things. For me, it can be as easy as hearing a punk icon between random interruptions for price checks and Carrie Underwood songs.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Never Too Late

I don't think it's ever too late to see coverage for POST. This one is from last week on the NBC Around Town blog. Also mentioned is Zac Crain's book on Dimebag Darrell.

POST: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore, 1985-2007 by Eric Grubbs (iUniverse, 2008)

Former Punk Planet scribe and recently recruited Dallas Observer music reviewer Eric Grubbs wrote a book about a lot of the same bands anthologized in Andy Greenwald's Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers and Emo. Where Greenwald acts as an anthropologist, psychoanalyzing Jimmy Eat World on tour to some disappointment and conducting interviews over instant messenger with whiny, suburban Dashboard Confessional fans, Grubbs is a geneaologist, dissecting At The Drive-In's song structures and tracing trends -- he calls them "bloodlines" -- back to Dischord Records. Grubbs got his brain picked for Greg Kot's Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, released last month on Simon and Schuster.

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The road taken

Yesterday, Donna wrote a very thoughtful post about the road taken and the road not taken with the path she and Noel have gone down. Coming from the perspective of being married with children, there are plenty of trade-offs. Sure, there might be less opportunity to ride rollercoasters around the country, take in ball games around the country, or going out to the movies regularly, but like my sister and brother-in-law say, the emotional rewards of being married and raising children are plenty.

The deal is, this way of life is the complete opposite of what my day-to-day life is. As great as it may be, there's plenty that isn't great.

I've known people who would like weeks, even months, off from their day-to-day life. The deal is, I highly, highly doubt these people would really know what to do with all this time off. On top of that, trying to adjust to a different schedule would not be easy. You might miss the crap, but you'll miss the great stuff too.

As it has been made abundantly clear to me since Jason moved out two weeks ago, I don't like living alone. I'm looking forward to my new housemate moving in at the beginning of July, but until then, it's a big quiet house. I've lived alone in a small, cramped apartment before, and it's essentially the same feeling. I like having people I like around. The loner mentality I have was a lot easier to play into when I lived with my parents. Thankfully, I'm in no rush to move back home.

There is plenty in my life that is great. There's plenty of flexible time to do whatever I want to, like write books, listen to a lot of music, watch DVDs, surf the Internet, and so on. If it's a Saturday night and I don't have plans, if I want to play Madden '09 for two hours and then go out to the movies, that's my call. If I want to stay up until 4am working on a show write-up and then sleep until noon, that's my call. But as great as free time is, I think there are drawbacks to having too much free time. I know this all too well.

The hope for my future is that I can still do all the things I do now, but sharing them with others in a homelife situation. Whether that just means a spouse or a spouse with children, my desire is to improve my life, not take away the things I love just for the sake of falling in line with adulthood.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Scare the Crap Out of Me in a Film

I recently took in a viewing of The Brood, David Cronenberg's 1979 classic film. While watching it, I found myself severely creeped out. Even though the film's plot has a very common structure (you can guess who's gonna get off'ed from a mile away), the pacing, editing, and music all made for a great racking of the nerves.

Yet here I am all these days later, thinking about the things that truly disturbed me or made me feel really uneasy about the film. Turns out I've felt that way before with other horror movies (and believe it or not, documentaries), and I noticed a pattern. So much of a pattern that I thought it would be fun (?) to share these things.

Three Ways You Can Scare the Crap Out of Me in a Film

1. Involve young, innocent children being abducted or chased.
In The Brood, Candy is just a nice little girl who's dealing with her parents' divorce. Seeing her get all caught up in the mess was not pleasant. Also see the first Saw film and the original Hills Have Eyes for more examples.

I'm pretty sure this is my internal parent getting upset even though I don't have children of my own. Maybe this is because of me remembering what it was like to be a child and the fact that I'm an uncle.

2. Don't show all of the monster(s) right away or at all.
In The Brood, you rarely get a full view of the evil, murderous, deformed children. Unlike the highly-overrated The Host, the lack of seeing the whole monster makes an even bigger impact. Your imagination has to kick in and fill out the missing pieces, and it's amazing what we imagine.

3. Music!
This one is very broad, but music can make or break any film. In a suspenseful/horror flick, it's absolutely crucial. Howard Shore's score in The Brood is incredibly over-the-top, clangy, and completely effective.

That's just three things off the top of my head. These three things have been done in other films I've seen to a lesser impact, but these are three of the biggies. Now to see if any European horror flicks from this decade have any of these three qualities . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Viva Voce/Cut Off Your Hands DC9 review

My review of the Viva Voce/Cut Off Your Hands/Robert Gomez show is now online.

Viva Voce, Cut Off Your Hands, and Robert Gomez
Hailey's Club
June 12th, 2009

Better Than: imagining Clap Your Hands Say Yeah covering Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends in itsentirety.

Hailey's hosted another fine show on Friday night, but only a couple dozen people came out to see it. Luckily, this small crowd really wanted to see the acts.

Viva Voce, supporting its newly-released fourth album, Rose City, headlined with a full hour-long set. The former duo (now a quartet) played a handful of fine songs from that latest record, as well as older favorites like "From the Devil Himself." It helped that Anita Robinson, with a gentle, soothing voice, was quite ferocious on lead guitar; from bluesy bends to searing slides, Anita did what great guitarists do--make it look so easy.


Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Collection

During this move down the hall, I realized that the two bookshelves I inherited can now replace my overstuffed DVD rack. What I'm doing with this rack is using it for its original purpose: holding CDs. While I don't want to say any ballpark numbers, I will say that the number of CDs that were on the floor of my old room on Monday was enough to fill almost the entire floor.

When the CDs were mostly put in the big shelf I have, I found myself with a lot of space on my other rack. So I've finally been able to do something I've never done before: unpack boxes (yes, boxes) of CDs that have stored promo CDs I picked up from KTCU, Punk Planet, and various other outlets that never really caught my ear or I never listened to.

Yes, I am padding my collection, but I have a very good reason to do this. If I let my collection stand before all the "padding," the rack would tumble over because of a lack of weight. Plus, I'll get a chance to give a good second rope-around to stuff I have not heard in years, or ever in my life.

From the way things look, I might be going in the ways of people I know that have devoted entire rooms to a record collection. From a full basement to an entire wing of a house, I might end up being that guy.

I don't mean to say this in a bragging kind of way. As a matter of fact, my collection might peter out since the number of CDs I buy and/or received has greatly diminished over the years. I'm not compelled to sell a lot of the stuff since there is some reason or two to hold onto the things. These are documents you know, especially of a certain record label that has gone to great lengths to milk great genres while putting out terrible to mediocre to incredible records in its time.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

How Well Do You Know Me?

If you've seen these "How Well Do You Know Me?" quizes, I thought it would be fun to explain some things behind the one that I created for my friends to take. Since one of the greatest difficulties I had in high school and college was overthinking and second-guessing multiple choice tests (or multiple guess, as one professor I had called it), I figured I could explain some of the ideas and answers.

Do I own Grubbs Nissan, the car dealership?
a)Of course, and George Grubbs III is my father!
b)Yes, but I also own Grubbs Infinity.
c)Nope. That's a different Eric Grubbs.
d)Maybe, but in a limited capacity.

Even to this day, people ask me if I own a Nissan dealership in Bedford and if I'm George Grubbs III's son. Well, I can't get you a good deal on a Nissan, and my father's name is Roy James Grubbs III. So the answer is "C." My sister, cousins, and a few friends answered this one correctly.

Which one of the following bands do I NOT like?
a)Ben Folds Five
b)Wilco
c)Creed
d)Journey
e)The Dillinger Escape Plan

I have loved Ben Folds Five and Wilco since 1997, Journey since my youth, and the Dillinger Escape Plan since Miss Machine came out. I have never outright hated Creed's music, but I've never loved it. And I've never liked that part in "With Arms Wide Open" that sounds a lot like "Here Comes the Rain Again," nor have I ever liked that guitar fill in every chorus of "Higher."


What's the name of my first book?
a)This Band Could Save Your Life
b)Imperfect from Now On
c)When We Were the Kids
d)Richie Manic Was a Fake
e)Post

Regular readers of this blog know this answer. "This Band Could Save Your Life" is one of the most-often-used incorrect names for Our Band Could Be Your Life. I have yet to read Perfect from Now On, so I figured it would be funny to use "Imperfect from Now On" as a possible answer. "Richie Manic Was a Fake" is a completely made-up name, but I do like the Manic Street Preachers's music.


Which one of the following radio stations have I NOT reported traffic for?
a)K-104
b)KLUV
c)KERA
d)KSKY
e)KVIL

This one is rather difficult for non-DFWers. KERA is the local NPR station, and I've never done a traffic report for them, yet.

Which one of the following critically-despised movies did I love?
a)Mamma Mia!
b)The Spirit
c)Wild Hogs
d)Big Mama's House
e)Ishtar

Out of all of these movies, Mamma Mia! is the only one I've seen so far. And yes, I loved it.

Which star from Buckaroo Banzai did I meet in an airport once?
a)Peter Weller
b)John Lithgow
c)Jeff Goldblum
d)Ellen Barkin
e)Christopher Lloyd

I met John Lithgow at a New Orleans airport when I was very young, very into Buckaroo Banzai, and just so happened to be wearing a Buckaroo Banzai T-shirt on this occasion.

I'm working on two new books, what are they about?
a)Star Wars fans and the teddy bear industry
b)European horror flicks and suburban rock bands
c)Sexual escapades and Ben Folds
d)My family and double-bass drumming
e)Bob Dylan's beards and CD-ROMs

The answer is "B." The other ones are book ideas I've never considered doing.

Which band I have not played with?
a)Ashburne Glen
b)Commonplace
c)The 11:30s
d)Public Abuse
e)Slave One

This one is kind of a trick question. I have played full-time in Public Abuse (my high school band), Commonplace (a band I played in for a few months in college), the 11:30s (the main band I played in, during and after college), and Ashburne Glen (since fall of 2003). I did jam one time with a former member of Slave One. Turned out we had completely different ideas about what emo sounded like and I never saw him again.

Who did I dress up as for Halloween last year?
a)Patrick Bateman
b)Sean from Sean of the Dead
c)Bruce Wayne
d)Jeff Tweedy
e)Ron Burgandy

I rarely dress up for Halloween anymore, but I was required to dress up for a Halloween party last year. I kept it simple and dressed as Simon Pegg's character from Sean of the Dead.

Which one of the following bands did it take me about ten years to like?
a)Wilco
b)Captain Beefheart
c)Pennywise
d)Zao
e)Ash

I've never heard Captain Beefheart's music, so that's not the right answer. Believe it or not, but after finding Zao's Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest to be kinda funny/kinda cool in 1998, I found their music to be incredibly powerful and cathartic in 2008 and beyond.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Movin' on up . . . the hall

I'm currently undergoing probably one of the strangest moves I've ever done before: I'm moving down the hall. More specifically, I'm moving to the back bedroom in the house I've been in since September of 2004. There will be some packing, but very little of it. It's just moving things here and there for the next three weeks into a larger bedroom that was once occupied by Jason. (He moved ten minutes away to a house with his girlfriend, and I have a new housemate moving in during the first week of July.)

Prior to living here, I moved a lot of times for college. During my first semester at TCU, I lived in an apartment fifteen minutes away from campus, and cannot say it was the most joyous time of my life. I moved into a co-ed dorm the following semester, then into the newly-built on-campus apartments the semester after that. By then, I had already moved more times than I had ever moved. Frankly, until I moved to where I live now, I never really got the sense that I had a home away from home. Apartment life just seemed like a room, a small bathroom, kitchen, and den, and a lot of alone time.

I'm very happy to have a friendly parting of ways with my housemate. Unlike previous roommate situations, there were no hurt feelings or a sense of relief when the other one moved out. Though I miss having the dog around, I'm penciling in a trip to a nearby pound to find a new companion to have around.

Yet still, the whole idea of moving without packing or having my parents and friends help me move is a strange sort of thing. I like the slow pace, but find the clean-up work a long slog ahead.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The End of July

In no fault to the band Sarge or their song "The End of July," but ever since I heard that song for the first time, something usually crappy happens to me in July. Seven years ago, I was told someone was moving into my apartment when the lease was up. Two years ago, two people I highly value were almost killed in a helicopter crash. One year ago, someone I truly valued died suddenly of a heart attack.

With almost every year, all the really crappy stuff is saved for July and July only, and I can't seem to understand. I don't think I'm a crap magnet; these are just things that come with life. There's the good and the bad, and how you look at them is big key to understanding life.

On one hand with next month, I have jury duty. On the other hand, I have a new housemate moving in. On one hand it will be hotter than blazes, as my mother would say. On the other hand, I might have a new dog to have around the house. On one hand, electricity bills will be higher. On the other hand, BSG will come out on Blu-Ray.

So yes, things might and will happen that will suck, but I don't want to forget the things that are great, rewarding, and fulfilling as well. So, bring on July, and also live every day before and after it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rock & Roll Creation

As much as I liked the ANVIL: The Story of Anvil documentary, I couldn't help but wonder why a lot people, whenever there's a fictional film or documentary on a band, almost always bring up This is Spinal Tap. It's as if there's only one movie out there about being in a band, metal or non-metal, and it's the classic "rockumentary" about the fictional band, Spinal Tap.

Please do not think I'm hating on This is Spinal Tap. I love that film, and it's funnier on repeat viewings over the years. What I'm trying to ask is why so many people think bands on film are subject to the drama, dilemmas, and humor only found in This is Spinal Tap.

In the case of ANVIL, the comparisons are easy to make because there are many obvious tie-ins: band doesn't get more than cult praise, the drummer is named Robb Reiner, there's a shot of turning a dial up to 11 while they record their new album, the road manager and guitarist fall in love, the band visits Stonehenge, and so on and so forth. Yet what makes ANVIL a really powerful, inspiring movie beyond all that: it's more about long-lasting friendship and sticking with the things you love to do, no matter what. Now that's something that goes way beyond knowing "Metal On Metal" or what Lips's real name is.

But remembering reviews of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco, I'm led to believe that a lot of those reviewers have only seen This is Spinal Tap. Nevermind The Filth and the Fury, Westway to the World, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Gimme Shelter, The Last Waltz, and so on; it's got to be "Hello, Cleveland," Jazz Odyssey, and Stonehenge, and nothing more.

Maybe I'm not understanding how most people have seen This is Spinal Tap more than The Filth and the Fury. But it's not like those other films have never seen the light of day on DVD. It's just that Spinal Tap is a much easier and more common sign post. To me, there are many different ways to talk about the multi-level relationships that go on within a band. It's just frustrating to hear people think there's only one story to go back to.

Monday, June 01, 2009

All You Good Good People

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon a large stack of CMJ sampler CDs in Jason's CD shelf. Now, if you ever were in college radio, CMJ is a familiar (and, in my opinion, very reputable) source for telling the difference between the chaff and the wheat. Having a monthly sampler CD included only sweetened the deal.

Now, the stack of samplers were from 1994 to 1999, also known as the time that I really got into music beyond what was on regular MTV and radio. From listening to Lunar Rotation or Modern Rock Live to taping 120 Minutes, there was plenty of great stuff out there. And I have to admit, there was a lot of sentimental stuff that came rushing back into my head when I saw the samplers on Saturday night. And -- no surprise -- it got me to thinking.

For most of the 1990s, major labels were willing to do things like re-release Catatonia's Equally Blessed and Cursed stateside and release Smoking Popes records. In other words, bands who weren't aiming for the top of the Billboard Top 40 pop charts could get onto a major label and get some nice exposure on college radio. These days, that's definitely not the case.

I don't mean to be of the attitude where everything was great was when I was in college, but I can't help but be aware of how long this approach to music distribution has disappeared. As somebody who hasn't been involved with college radio for years, I'm curious if bigger independent labels like Merge and Saddle Creek have picked up the slack. Since the major label attitude has been a "blockbuster or nothing," I'm thankful a lot of larger independent labels picked up bands like Spoon and gave them a better shot.

As I listened to songs like "All You Good Good People" by Embrace and "Joy" by Gay Dad, I couldn't help remember the context of when I heard these songs. Since there were so many similar bands out there, and a lot of new bands demanding your attention for possible radio airplay, it was easy to pass over good stuff.

Of course, the danger in roping back around to stuff from the past can create the illusion that things were better in the old days, and the days ahead will suck. Well, listening to "All You Good Good People" now is a whole different experience compared to listening to it when the song first came out. There's no talk every week about Oasis or the Verve or the Stereophonics or Feeder or Suede and so on. There's no drive to be on top of things. It's leisure instead of competition.

Frankly, I like roping back around to artists I didn't really "get" back in the day. Recently, Beth Orton's first two records have caught my attention way more than they did back in the late 1990s. I missed out on her seminal stuff the first time; I'm thankful that I found out about it eventually.

So that in itself is a great reason to go back to eras gone by. I just don't want to buy into the trap of nostalgia.