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Showing posts from June, 2005

The One That Started It All

I held out with getting onto MySpace for the longest time. It looked like a silly way of wasting time by posting poorly-lit pictures of yourself and making friends with people you'd never meet in real life. Well, I signed up a few months so I could in touch with a lost friend and I've been hooked ever since. As of last night, I'm incredibly glad something like this is around. Why? Because I found the guy who pretty much started me rolling on my book, all the way back in 1987. Here's the story: when my family lived in New Orleans, my sister and I went to a private school about 45 minutes away from where we lived. I didn't really have any neighborhood friends and having schoolmates from all over the city presented problems with hanging out. Sometime in second grade, there was this new kid in my class named Andrew that came late in the school year. Andrew didn't have the best of times with our teacher and he once he had a total meltdown in front of the class. I f

Hated the movie? Here's your money back.

The Wall Street Journal has this article about movie theaters offering a refund to those disappointed with Ron Howard's Cinderella Man: Hate the Flick? Some Theaters Offer Refunds By KATE KELLY Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL June 29, 2005; Page B1 Faced with sagging box-office revenue, studios and theater chains are testing out novel strategies for getting the public back into movie seats. Those tactics will be in full force during the coming Independence Day holiday weekend. Continuing a promotion unveiled last weekend, AMC Entertainment Inc.'s theaters plan to offer full-ticket refunds to moviegoers who don't like "Cinderella Man" -- a flick that opened to disappointing attendance. The no-hassle money-back guarantee is a rarity in the business, where fans who sit through awful flicks usually leave with little more than bad memories. But AMC's results are encouraging enough that CinemarkInc., another big exhibitor, is planning a similar promo

Major or Minor Threat? (update)

Dischord released this statement about Nike's usage of Minor Threat's album art for an ad: To longtime fans and supporters of Minor Threat and Dischord this must seem like just another familiar example of mainstream corporations attempting to to assimilate underground culture to turn a buck. However it is more disheartening to us to think that Nike may be successful in using this imagery to fool kids, just beginning to becoming familiar with skate culture, underground music and DIY ideals, into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike's mission. In any regard, we would like to thank the many people who have written to us in the last several days to express their outrage, support and encouragement. Punknews.org scooped Nike's response : Nike Skateboarding sincerely apologizes for the creation of a tour poster inspired by Minor Threat's album cover. Despite rumors being circulated, Wieden & Ke

Everybody's Working for the Weak

Friday night was a great bill at the Barley House: Horses and Chatterton , both from Fort Worth. Neither band was a disappointment and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Following Horses' proper set was the debut of the Lewis Morning News, a band featuring all of Horses' members and their friend Miles on lead vocals. They only play Huey Lewis & the News covers and this set featured "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "The Power of Love." Hearing those songs brought back great memories of DeLoreans, bassists with sunglasses and combed-back hair. After the show, I went straight home and took a shower. As I'm brushing my teeth, I hear Jason and Cari coming in. They tell me that a certain person from a certain band might be coming over to our house. The person comes over about 15 minutes later with a friend, so we hang out for a while. Who is this person? Well, I hate the word "rock star," but this person is in a band that a lot of people in the indie

Major or Minor Threat?

Punknews.org posted the following story (first scooped by Pitchfork ): According to this story , multi-billion dollar shoemaker, Nike has stolen the legendary artwork of hardcore pioneers, Minor Threat. Destined for a campaign called Major Threat , the style and iconic imagery was used for the advertising and done so without the permission of Washington, D.C. based indie Dischord . The label owns the copyright on both the recording and artwork . OK, it's one thing for Rancid to pay homage to Minor Threat's album cover with their artwork for . . . And Out Come the Wolves . It's a whole other (and incredibly insulting) thing to do this. Yes, Dischord is a part of the broad view of punk rock; just like how SST Records, the Ramones, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Green Day, Bad Religion and the Bad Brains are lumped together. However, Dischord is not synonymous with big corporations and the kind of games big corporations play. Say what you will about Ian MacKaye's perso

Book Update (6.23)

Time for a progress report. Five chapters are done and there are seven more to go. Here is the chapter run-down (the ones in bold are the ones that are done): Intro Dischord Records Jawbox Jawbreaker Sunny Day Real Estate Braid The Promise Ring Hot Water Music The Get Up Kids At the Drive-In Jimmy Eat World Epilogue Right now I'm in the middle of writing the Get Up Kids chapter. I have no idea when I'll be done with this whole thing, but my guess is this fall.

Breakin' and (Usually) Makin' Up

From MTV.com . Update at 6:20PM EST on 6/20/05 Billy Corgan Says He Wants To Re-Form Smashing Pumpkins Last month, Billy Corgan scoffed at the notion of the Smashing Pumpkins ever reconciling and regrouping, but now he is singing a different tune. In a full-page newspaper ad, the alt-rock leader declared plans to bring back the band. (and just a few headlines below . . .) Alter Bridge's Tremonti Says Forget About A Creed Reunion Bad news for any diehard Creed fans out there waiting for a reunion: According to former Creed/ current Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti, it's never, ever, ever going to happen. I find this funny: bandmates will talk and talk about how a band will never, ever get back together or how they will never have some member back in the band. Then when they do get back together, they make light of what they said in the past. I remember when Jimmy Chamberlin was kicked out of the Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan said, "He's out of our lives

Batman Begins Again

I have not seen Batman Begins yet. My excuse: I've already seen a great dark Batman movie: Tim Burton's Batman . My excuse sounds lame, but I don't really feel compelled to rush out to see Batman Begins . Not to discount director Christopher Nolan or the actors involved (especially Christian Bale), but Batman is hard to beat. Even though certain never-satisfied fanboys don't think highly of Batman , I think Batman still holds up. It's dark, it's humorous, it's well-acted and it's well-made. How many shades of dark do we really need? Dark, but with extra dark? Dark with lighter dark? I've heard that Batman Begins effectively tells an origin story. Sounds very interesting and tempting but in a summer filled with remakes, is there anything new or interesting at the big box office? Maybe my tastebuds have changed too much over the years, but why should I bother seeing a remake of something that's rather fresh in people's minds? Remaking

The Wicker Man

I watched a literal cult classic Saturday night. The Wicker Man came out in the early 1970s but I don't think the movie's central theme of Paganism vs. Christianity is outdated. Not a horror movie per se, but it's definitely a head-trip. The reason why I rented this movie is interesting: technically, I rented the wrong movie. Here is the story: I like Pulp's song, "The Trees." The song samples a simple, but very effective melody played by an orchestra. I checked the We Love Life liner notes and thought the sample was from The Wicker Man soundtrack. Turns out, "The Trees" contains no sample from The Wicker Man. "The Trees" samples a song from the movie, Otley (with Tom Courtenay) but I didn't find this out until I finished watching The Wicker Man . Another song on We Love Life , "Wickerman," samples "Willow's Song" from The Wicker Man . I goofed, but I really enjoyed the movie anyway. I'd love to see Ot

Body of Song

I like Bob Mould's music (solo and his work with Husker Du and Sugar). However, after all the talk about how he was retiring from loud guitar rock following 1998's The Last Dog & Pony Show , I was skeptical about the word that he was returning to loud guitar rock with his new record, Body of Song . Well, the skepticism is gone. Interestingly, this skepticism was wiped away after listening to only 30 seconds of one song. The song, "Paralyzed," is available for download on iTunes and I took a listen to the free 30-second clip. Sounding more pissed-off and more immediate than anything he's released in a long time, I'm excited about Body of Song . Adding fuel to excitement is the word that Body of Song has some of Bob's best stuff since his Sugar days. Funny, people were making the same comparison when The Last Dog and Pony Show came out. Regardless, I look forward to the new record. I will admit, I was not too hot on his electronica-based stuff on M

A Makeshift Peter Sarsgaard Film Fest

By pure chance, I rented three movies featuring this guy all at once. Garden State , Kinsey and Shattered Glass were movies that I was interested in simply because of their stories. After my Peter Sarsgaard film-trifecta, I have to say I'm impressed with Mr. Sarsgaard's acting. I thought his performance in Shattered Glass was the best out of the three. As Chuck Lane, Sarsgaard plays a tough, but fair editor who was part of the uncovering of Stephen Glass' made-up stories/articles. Sarsgaard walks a very fine line between ball-buster, family man, professional and hero. Not an easy part to effectively pull off, but it's pulled off very well. After some researching online for Sarsgaard's film history, turns out he is yet another person to add to the list I'm compiling called, "Seinfeld Guest Stars That Went On to Bigger Things." This list already includes Jon Favreau, Courtney Cox, Peter Krause, Kristen Davis, Michael Chiklis and a whole slew of oth

In Your Honor

Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters clan released their fifth album, In Your Honor , yesterday. 20 songs are spread across two discs and one disc has all rockers and the other disc has softer, mostly acoustic material. Though I've only listened to the whole album once, I think it's pretty strong. My biggest complaint about the band's previous album, One By One , was that it was all rawk . Even the slower songs are big rockers. As evidenced on all of the other Foo Fighters records, the band showed that they could also be pretty and melodic. This softer side was jettisoned on One By One and I missed it. Dividing up the softer and rockier material for In Your Honor sounded like yin and yang before I heard it. I thought you could make one solid disc of material. However, after actually listening to the whole record, I think the album works as two discs. One main dynamic per disc may be a test of the listener's patience, but almost all of the the material is strong enough t

Reunited and it feels so . . .

With all sorts of bands reuniting these days (Gang of Four, the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, the Raspberries) it looks like these bands are on the same path that X has been on for the last few years. X has not released a new record in years and ever since they reunited with original guitarist Billy Zoom, no new material has surfaced. They only tour here and there as each of its members have their own projects going on at the same time. I think this type of reuniting is a good thing. A lot of bands think that when they reunite, they have to write and release new material. Well, considering the fact that the majority of the audience wants to hear the material they fell in love with (the older material), playing new material is a little useless. When people see Paul McCartney, they want to hear Beatles songs and some of his stuff from the 70s. He plays a few new tracks from his recent solo album but as far as I know, he doesn't play any older solo material from the 80s or 90s. This makes se

The Bloody Basin

Seeing the debut of "The Bloody Basin" (aka, a joint project with [Daryl] and Black Tie Dynasty) at Sons of Hermann Hall on Friday was a trip. Starting off with an opening act consisting mostly of '90s cover tunes transposed to piano ("Big Empty" by Stone Temple Pilots, "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead, about three Pearl Jam songs, including "Black") was an amusing sight. I felt nostalgic hearing songs from younger days as lounge music fodder but it was a funny experience though. Black Tie Dynasty was up next and they did not disappoint. Yes, they have the dark look and sound ala Interpol and Echo and the Bunnymen, but these guys aren't mopey clones. Their songs are really punchy while being atmospheric at the same time. All four members had great stage presence, making the visual experience just as fun. Overall, I was very impressed. [Daryl] slayed as usual: they even played a few new songs to boot. Once their proper set was over, h

Why I still don't have an iPod

"These men have helped design the most beautiful object art in music culture since the electric guitar. That's the iPod." That's what Bono recently told Greg Kot in an interview for the Chicago Tribune . I don't know about you, but I think that line is hilarious. Anybody remember the Walkman? Since I'm on the subject, my "devil's advocate" voice wonders why I don't have an iPod. I am not knocking the iPod here , but for my own personal use, I have a lot of reasons why I don't have one. 1) Too expensive -From $100 to $400, that is too much change for something I don't think I would use very often. If you want more music stored in your iPod, you have to pay up. Besides, what I want to hear changes from hour to hour (sometimes from minute to minute), so I'm not sure if even 60-gigs of space are enough. 2) The annoying two-second gap -A lot of albums do not have gaps between tracks (especially live records). The listening experien

Knowing When to Lead

Growing up in the 1980s, my perception of guitarists in rock bands was simple: if a person sang lead vocals and played guitar, he/she only played rhythm guitar. I never saw a singer/guitarist play a lead guitar solo. Solos were played by a lead guitarist who normally didn't sing (not even backing vocals). So when I saw Nirvana performing in the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video, I was confused. Where was the fourth member that only played guitar solos? A lead singer/guitarist could also play lead? Wow! After seeing Manic Street Preachers, Pavement and Superchunk in live settings, I realized that this activity is very prevalent. What I think is amazing is that these singers sing their heads off (yes, even in his conversational singing voice, Stephen Malkmus still sang his head off) and play leads at the same time. These leads aren't made up of "liquid fingers," but they are more than bends and single notes. I wonder how such coordination is possible. Then ag

Hey, Remember the '90s?

It's finally here: the first major box set to cover music from the '90s. It's called Whatever: The '90s Pop Culture Box and there are a whopping SEVEN discs. Billboard has the story and here is the track listing: Disc one: "U Can't Touch This," M.C. Hammer "Nothing Compares 2 U," Sinead O'Connor "No Myth," Michael Penn "Ladies First," Queen Latifah featuring Monie Love "Ball and Chain," Social Distortion "Birdhouse in Your Soul," They Might Be Giants "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns," Mother Love Bone "Here's Where the Story Ends," the Sundays "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," C & C Music Factory "Groove Is in the Heart," Deee-Lite "Right Here, Right Now," Jesus Jones "New Jack Hustler (Nino's Theme)," Ice-T "I Touch Myself," Divinyls "Unbelievable," EMF "Hard To Handle," the Black Crowes &q

A Ghost is Born

Almost a full year has passed since Wilco's A Ghost is Born was released. After listening to it all the time for months, I had to set it aside. I decided to pick it up again yesterday morning and it still sounds fresh to my ears. "Spiders," "I'm a Wheel" and "Company in My Back" are some of the tracks I keep coming back to. Normally I can't stomach hearing a 10-minute track over and over again, but like Television's "Marquee Moon," "Spiders" builds and builds to a great conclusion. The song keeps going on and on and on and it ends without going too long. "I'm a Wheel" is a charging rock track while "Company in My Back" has such a beautiful chorus melody with a mandolin. Like almost all of their records before, Wilco went through a major line-up change around the release of A Ghost is Born . Now a six-piece, I've heard nothing but positive reviews of their live shows. I'm curious what th

We're puttin' the band back together

This past weekend marked the first time I was in a wedding for a close friend. While I had been in weddings before for family members or friends of the family, this was a first for a close friend. Matt, someone I've known since elementary school, got married on Saturday. Since high school, we realized that we liked a lot of the same music and movies, and we've been close ever since. As the years passed, we all moved on to other things in our life. Oftentimes this required moving out of town for school or work, making contact a little harder. I won't lie: making the decision to leave town is hard. People say making new friends in a new town is easy, but it's been very hard for me. I do miss seeing Matt and our other friends on a regular basis, but I wouldn't be happy if I stayed in Houston. Ever since I moved away for college, trying to get "the old gang" back together in one place has been tough. Not because we didn't want to see each other, but our

Going Mobile

Off to Houston this weekend for Matt's wedding. Should be a great reunion of the old gang from Kingwood. Rain is in the forecast, but before you start quoting Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," understand that the wedding ceremony and reception will be indoors. As much as people moan about the humidity in Houston, I don't think it's much different than Dallas's humidity. You get used to it after a while, especially after living in Texas for 18 years. At least the wedding is not outside in July. Kingwood is my old hometown and that's where my parents live, but I haven't lived there for four years. After moving ten times since I moved away for college, I finally feel like Dallas is my home. I dig the town and I'm not itching to move out of town . . . yet. Considering the fact that I moved three times before college, the shifting of dorms, apartments and roommates in college and post-college made me think that home meant "unstable" and &qu

More cowbell!

OK, I've seen the SNL sketch a few times: Christopher Walken plays a producer working on Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." It's a typical Saturday Night Live sketch: one joke told in a variety of ways to induce laughter. In this case, Walken's character keeps demanding "more cowbell" from the cowbell player, portrayed by Will Ferrell. I think the sketch is funny (especially Walken's stunted delivery of the lines), but I wonder: what causes people to do things inspired by it? There's a blog named after it (Hi Kyle!), the sketch has been downloaded all over the internet, message board avatars feature a loop of Ferrell hitting his cowbell, people bring cowbells to shows and some variation of "I've got a fever and the only prescription is, more cowbell!" is a common phrase. Not to knock the humor of this sketch, but I want to know why there is a bridge to action. Is it because Ferrell is so goofy as the hairy cowbel

MacArthur Park

As I've blogged before, I don't pay close attention to lyrics when I listen to music. The vibe of the song is more important, so this is why I often miss some rather silly lyrics. Case in point, the lyrics to Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park." Here are the lyrics to the first part: Spring was never waiting for us, girl, It ran one step ahead as we followed in the dance. Between the parted pages and were pressed in love's hot, fevered iron like a striped pair of pants. MacArthur's park is melting in the dark All the sweet green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don't think that I can take it Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again! Oh, no-o-o-o! I recall the yellow cotton dress Flowing like a wave on the ground around your knees. The birds, like tender babies in your hands, And the old men playing checkers by the trees MacArthur's park is melting in the dark All the sweet g