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Showing posts from April, 2005

Ryan Adams

Reading this thread (and especially the second post) makes me beg this question: why do people think Heartbreaker is the be-all, end-all Ryan Adams solo record? I own all of his records with Whiskeytown and his solo records (save for his hardcore punk side project with Jesse Malin called the Finger) and I can't say I have one be-all, end-all favorite. I like all of the records, especially Stranger's Almanac , Pneumonia , Gold , Rock N Roll and Love is Hell . Sure, a lot of his material is sad but, it's not stupid melodrama. His lyrics are honest, his singing is even more honest and his music is filled with vibrant colors. Yet still, something about Adams' solo debut, Heartbreaker , makes it the yardstick for everything else he's done. The album features some amazing tracks like "To Be Young," "Come Pick Me Up" and "AMY" but there are some tracks that just don't really do much for me. Some songs are just too slow, too sad and jus


Last week, I watched this movie. Covering the rise/decline of the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, you don't have to know anything about their music to enjoy this documentary. If you like to see what happens to a band after the word-of-mouth buzz/hype dies down, I strongly urge a viewing. Underground bands get a lot of people talking when they have a sort of "untapped potential" buzz. The scenario is like this: band supposedly has a unique style and a good live show, then there is a bidding war between labels, the band is signs with a label, and then, anything goes. Sometimes the band a) makes a good record and gets big b) makes a bad record and gets big c) doesn't get big but makes a good record and has a sizable audience d) doesn't get big, makes decent record and retains a sizable audience e) doesn't get big, makes bad record and is almost completely forgotten about According to the doc, the Dandy Warhols didn't really break big in the U

Songs for Silverman

Ben Folds releases his second proper solo LP, Songs for Silverman , today. I've had a copy of the record for a week and I already think very highly of it. This is definitely a more mature record in the sense that Ben has shed some things from his past. There is no silliness-with-implied-seriousness like "Rockin' the Suburbs" nor are there any really sad songs like "Carrying Cathy." (If you want to hear some silliness, definitely check out his version of the Darkness' "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" off of the Super D EP.) My only complaint about Folds' first solo record, Rockin' the Suburbs, was the lack of a "band" vibe in the performance. Folds recorded all of the instruments (save for strings) and while the songs are very good, everything is safely performed. I missed the vibe of Ben playing with live musicians; the banged-out notes and the lively dynamics of three people working off each other was missed. Well, Songs for

Book Update (4.25.05)

Here is an update on my book's progress: Last week, I finished up a draft of the Braid chapter. This is my fourth nearly-completed chapter (nothing is complete until it is printed) and I plan to work on the Promise Ring chapter this week. I have no idea as to when the whole book will be done, but I may be done by the end of the year. I'm a slow writer but I write and revise everyday. Here is the title of the book: Post - An Anthology of American Post-hardcore/Whatever-You-Call-It-Core 1985-2005 Yes, it's a mouthful, but it works. This isn't the definitive anthology or the only history of the genre, but it is an anthology by one person with a lot of people helping out. The title was inspired by this article and especially this line: "If Jawbox was proto-emo then J. Robbins’ new band is post-emo. Or pomo. Or primo. Or something." I liked the use of "post" and the word has often come up in the last eight years (from the band name of Post From Vermont t


I've talked about kickball many times on this blog but I don't think I've explained why I love this game. Simply put, I have a lot of fun playing with my fellow friends. The key word is fun ; as in, there are no competitive trappings involved. While we tease each other and pretend to act competitive, we just enjoy playing together . Playing a game is far off from observing a game. Being on the field with the wind blowing, the sun shining in your face and the outcome of the inning/overall game resting in you and your friends' hands is awesome. Maybe this represents my anxiety-filled/control freak side, but having an actual hand in the outcome of the game is empowering. Playing kickball for three to four hours every Sunday is a great way of spending some time outside. Even though my body is sore for a few days after every game, I don't care. The pain and sores pass, but the memories of having fun are hard to forget. Yesterday, we played three full games in some glo

Later . . .

After viewing this DVD and this DVD, I'm now a huge fan of this show. I'm so much of a fan that I wish us Americans had a show like this. If they can Americanize Pop Idol as American Idol and Americanize the Office as the Office , why can't we have an American version of Later . . . with Jools Holland ? I hear the excuses now: "Live music shows do not attract large audiences," "Late-night talk shows with one musical guest are enough," etc. Hear me out: one of the most marketable things about selling music and image is by showcasing the artist in a "live" setting (Anybody remember this show?). Since music videos are mini-movies and not live performances, wouldn't live performances (no lip-synching allowed!) be a good alternate view? I think people want a taste of what they might see live. The appeal of Later . . . with Jools Holland is the showcasing of a wide variety of artists every week. Old and new acts are showcased in a live s

the Raspberries

Most people know Eric Carmen for his solo hits, "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again." Any time some American Idol contestant belts out "All By Myself" and thinks that Celine Dion was the first artist to do the song, I cringe. Any time somebody dumps on the apparently flimsy pop of Carmen's "Hungry Eyes," I get annoyed. If people want to diss Eric Carmen and his Top 40 "fluff," feel free, but check out his old band, the Raspberries . The Raspberries had a few big hits in their day, including "Go All the Way," "Let's Pretend" and "Overnight Sensation." Often placed in the '70s power pop canon with Big Star and Cheap Trick, I think this grouping is fair. You can hear some Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson in Carmen's voice along with the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Who and even some glam rock in their music. You're not going to find a lot of lyrical depth in songs about driv


I remember when Coldplay first came onto the pop music scene. As Oasis-influenced/Radiohead-influenced Britpop was breathing its final breaths, Coldplay's "Yellow" came out. A pretty ballad with simple lyrics, a catchy guitar bend and straightforward drumming, "Yellow" was memorable, but it very well could have been a one-hit wonder. People (including myself) had enough of all these singers that went for high notes like Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley did, but I thought Chris Martin's voice had some vitality. When I heard "Trouble" and "Shiver" after scanning Parachutes for other songs to play on KTCU, I became a huge Coldplay fan. The songs touched me in the right way with melody, hooks and solid drumming. After hearing the album, all of their b-sides (which would make for a fine LP itself), a live show on the BBC, I was nuts about Coldplay. For a few months in 2002, I kept seeing this local cable channel playing a VCR copy of a Coldplay c

Pavement, the Rock Band

As I've become more cynical and crazier, I've realized that Pavement is a band that gets better with age. No doubt about it, Pavement rocked, but they also had a sense of humor. Humor wasn't very prevalent in the early-to-mid-'90s alternative rock nation when rock was meant to be "serious" again. Depending on your viewpoint, rock from any era (including the 1980s!) can be serious and life-changing. For somebody that hit puberty as the alternative nation spread across the US suburbs, I was slowly introduced to the ocean of underground bands/labels that keeps the mainstream afloat. I have my theories as to why Pavement was so appealing when they were around and why they are still appealing today: 1) They weren't too serious, but they weren't too silly. There is a rather large line between the sides and Pavement walked the line very well. You could say that "Cut Your Hair" is a silly pop song about long-haired bands, but upon closer inspection

Dashboard Confessional

After posting in this thread on the Sound Ops board, I figured I should explain myself a little more. To recap: I like Dashboard Confessional . Yes, I'm talking about the mostly-acoustic rock group with its enigmatic lead singer/songwriter, Chris Carrabba. There is definitely a devout cult following to the group (especially Carrabba) and you can consider me a member of the cult. However, I'm not hypnotized by the music as the media tends to shine the most light on. While there are plenty of people who sing along to every word and act like they are possessed by Chris' presence, I just enjoy the music. I will say this, I rarely pay close attention to lyrics. I pay more attention to the moods, rhythms, feels and most importantly, the melodies. If Thom Yorke of Radiohead sang a beautiful melody while reading off his list of groceries, I probably wouldn't realize that he was doing that. The point is, I never really noticed the rather "high school-like" lyrics foun

Bloc Party

I like Bloc Party : sans NME covers, sans Fader cover and sans the older band t-shirt that a band member wears in a promo photo. I'm not really into these modern, '80s-styled, post-punk bands, but I really dig Bloc Party's music for a variety of reasons. When I tell somebody about their stuff, I often reference the guitar melodies and vocal melodies first. Kele projects his unique and accessible voice clearly and has an impressive range. The guitar interplay between Kele and Russell has all sorts of post-punk noodling but not all post-punk noodling. Throwing some shimmering effects and warm harmonies in the guitars is a very welcome addition. The rhythm section is strong and helps push forward the guitar and vocal melodies. Still, the melodies you hear in songs like "This Modern Love," "Little Thoughts" and "Like Eating Glass" are tasty ear candy. The first song I heard by the band was "Staying Fat" from the 'red' self-title

Lost in Space

Aimee Mann will release her fifth proper solo album, the Forgotten Arm , on May 3rd and I will pick it up on that day. As music writers (journalists, bloggers, etc.) prepare for its release, a lot of them refer to Mann's previous album, Lost in Space , as a disapointment. Well my friends, Lost in Space is not a letdown, a bummer and definitely not a disapointment. Some history between me and Mann's music: Magnolia and Bachelor No. 2 were my introductions to her solo material and I quickly fell in love with her spare arrangements of melodically rich songs. Her lyrics speak volumes, even though they appear vague and personal. A side note of twisted humor, I loved how the big label she recorded Bachelor No. 2 for thought it was not radio-friendly and chose not to release it. Given the album's exposure through the Magnolia soundtrack and the publicity of the album's delayed release (and oh yeah, really amazing songs), Mann had the last laugh. Releasing her stuff on he

Well played, clerks

The title of this post and my previous post come from episodes of this show. As a fan of Kevin 's work since college, I still find myself quoting lines from his movies, commentary tracks, Q&A's, etc. The deal is, while I still think highly of his writing and his wit, I don't keep up with his latest projects as much as I used to. Maybe because of the fact that I'm into other things other than just what he's doing. Maybe because of watching his collection of Q&A's on An Evening With Kevin Smith I grew tired of his dry delivery and the annoying spotlight of certain fans that I don't identify with. Maybe because I can't indentify with all the comic book fans that want to tar-and-feather him for not completing comic book story arcs. Maybe because of him saying he's done with Jay and Silent Bob and the View Askewniverse and then brings them back for DeGrassi Jr. High and now with Clerks 2 . I just can't pinpoint to one reason. I know that th

Objection your honor! The pod race was pretty cool.

In preparation for this movie that will open with a PG-13 rating , I watched this movie and this movie over the weekend. Understand this, I am a huge fan of A New Hope and it may very well be my overall favorite of the entire series. Maybe because of the fact that Episode IV feels like the most "complete" film of the six movies and the character arcs of Luke, Han Solo and Leia are so strong, but I can't pinpoint one reason. Anyway, when I saw Episodes I and II in the theater, I really enjoyed them, but I wasn't as emotionally charged by them like the original trilogy. Not helping my attempt to make a concrete opinion were the annoyingly loud moans, groans, gripes and harsh critiques I read and heard. I know there is different vibe to the prequels, but after viewing them again, I feel that they are incredibly underrated and misunderstood. I've trusted Lucas but now I really get what he's been saying all along. Themes of oppression, control, destiny, every

Who is really getting served?

MTV News reports some information I know the world is waiting for: news on the You Got Served sequel. "We weren't going to do a [ You Got Served ] sequel at first because me and Omari, we was like, 'We don't want to touch it, let it stay a classic,' . . . But so many people came up to us and said, 'Where is "U Got Served 2"?' . . . We don't want it to be the same, but we don't want to be too different." This may sound crazy, but this article is very inspiring to me. This says a lot about dimishing returns and why things appear bigger when they're on the rise or in development rather than when they actually arrive. Ah, the cornerstones of hype.

(The Ever-Changing) Price of Gas

Special note: since some of this subject matter is very Kev -like, I decided to write this post in the vein of his posts. So with that in mind, here is a TPE post written in the vein of a Kev post (now for Kev to do a post in the vein of a TPE post): After my afternoon shift Monday night, I stopped by a nearby gas station advertising $2.14 for a gallon of unleaded. As I was pulling in, I saw a guy standing on a ladder with a handful of plastic cards with numbers on them. I figured I should pick up the pace so I could still get the "cheaper" rate, but when I put my debit card in, the machine wouldn't read my card. I pulled the nozzle out anyway but the machine said unleaded was now $2.16 a gallon. I filled up, paid the cashier and went along my merry way. Understand this: I keep my eye on rising gas prices but when the price of a fill-up costs me $100 a pop, I'll start complaining. Right now a fill-up for my '02 Camry is around $27-$30. I'll survive since I rec

Now the plain blondes are playing along with you

Songs in my head: "On the Table" by Carl Newman "Old Man" by Neil Young MTV News has a great article that compares sports fans to music and movie fans. I especially dig this quote: " And then there's the pronoun abuse. 'We won the game!' You did? Really? When was the last time you heard a fan of Wes Anderson's films exclaim, 'Hey, did you catch our latest movie, The Life Aquatic?'" Here's my deal about sports: I enjoy watching sports (especially football and baseball) from time to time. I really enjoy playing sports (especially kickball and flag football). However, I do not understand people who get depressed when "their" team loses or get an orgazmic buzz when "their" team wins. Pardon? Just because you tune in and/or attend a game does not make you a member of the team. The audience enhances the game and makes the vibe very exciting, but still, there is a big separation between the audience and the players

I'll go back/if you ask me

Songs in my head: "Little Thoughts" by Bloc Party "Like Eating Glass" by Bloc Party This past weekend saw some of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, the Incredibles and four hours of kickball. Friday, we saw most of Radiant* s set and thought they were pretty good. Like a more accessible version of Interpol, there is a lot of dreamy guitar pop in their sound. Saturday, instead of trying to wade my way through all the people going to see this movie, I stayed in and watched this movie. Another fantastic addition to the pantheon of smart and funny movies dressed up as kids' movies, the Incredibles gets my approval. Hearing Chasing Amy 's Jason Lee in the role of a villain was great to hear again (he was so good as a baddy in Dogma ). Sunday, FOUR HOURS of kickball meant some sunburn over the few spots I didn't cover with sunblock. However, a funky suntan means way less to me than the all the fun I had in the warm and windy weather. It was so windy that our