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Showing posts from August, 2005

We're goners Scoob!

You know that line, "Don't sweat the small stuff?" Well, I didn't understand this in college because what other people thought was "small stuff" was "big stuff" to me. Worrying about grades, getting to class on time and not studying enough were just some of my worries that induced panic-filled freakouts. Then I had the post-college, "Now what do I do?" blues that almost everybody has. They don't teach you how to deal with this stuff in school, so I had no idea on how to handle most of this (hence, more panic-filled doubt now with feeling utterly worthless). When I would ask an older person about what to do, I'd hear tired cliches that I couldn't fully understand. Sure, water may slide off of a duck's back, but I didn't think that a duck would enjoy getting unintentionally wet. Anyway, relief from all these old school, simplistic and hindsight-filled phrases came in the form of a Scooby-Doo episode. I watched Scooby-D

Miami, New Orleans, London, Belfast and Berlin

I was born in New Orleans in 1979. In my time there (which lasted until summer of '87), there were a few threats of hurricanes but nothing incredibly harmful came of them. Just watching the TV yesterday, you could say it was inevitable that a bad hurricane would hit the town, but I don't think anybody really lives to see such devastation. New Orleans is a classy town filled with lots of history, so seeing it flooded out was very sad. I haven't heard about what all was safe and what was destroyed, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear about some irreplaceable things that were lost. Now I don't know how badly damaged it was, but the most memorable place that sticks out in my mind is Cafe Du Monde, best known for its beignets and coffee. I remember it very well from my formative years as a resident and a little better in later years as a visitor. Sure, you can have beignets and milk at home but the kind of atmosphere you have there is unique. When I saw this quote fro

H2O Go!

"My friends look out for me like family" - from H2O's "5 Yr. Plan" "I was thinking about the good ol' times/and all the people who helped me survive/and who the hell knows where I'd be without the branches of a family tree" - from H2O's "Family Tree" While I haven't really kept up with H2O in the last few years (I don't even know what label they're on now), their impact on me is still felt. Here's the story: Back in the late-'90s, I thought hardcore-tinged punk rock was synonymous with tough guy machismo. If you weren't ready to throw down in a mosh pit, it was best to stay away. I didn't hear much about brotherhood in this music; I heard shout-along slogans about being straight edge and how much life sucked. In other words, I thought all hardcore was a voice of frustration, not a voice of hope. I was introduced to H2O via a short-lived show on MTV called Indie Outing , which showcased up-and-com

More about that book title . . .

I touched on the book's title in an earlier post, but I only really touched on the main title, Post , and not the second part, An Anthology of American Post-Hardcore/Whatever-You-Call-It-Core 1985-2005 . Here's a breakdown of the second part: An Anthology of My book is not meant to be the only history of this genre, hence the 'an' and not a 'the' in the title. Maybe it's because of reading a lot of articles by this guy that I truly believe that there is no such thing as one historical account of things in the past. I'm not speaking for everyone involved; I'm seeing it through my own eyes, my own experiences and my research and relating them to what I feel is pertinent to talk about in the long run. Think of it as my view with a lot of other views but not law. American Post-Hardcore/Whatever-You-Call-It-Core This genre has many names: emo, spazz and math rock are just some of them. Since my book is more about the ideas of Do It Yourself that spr

About that cover photo . . .

If you've checked out Mission Label's press release for Post , you've seen the book's cover photo. If you're curious as to who that is or where that came from, there's a story behind it. In early 2000, I went to a show in Denton at a renovated car garage called Green Means Go! I showed up early to see the first band play and that first band was Red Animal War. I had heard a couple of their songs online beforehand and had walked in right as they were finishing a set at the Door a few weeks before. I liked what I heard but I wanted to hear and see more. I made sure that I didn't miss the show at GMG! and I was glad that I came out early. Why? Because their set changed my life. I had always heard of people that dropped everything to help a band out but I didn't understand this until I saw Red Animal War play. Here was a band of guys that looked intense (on and off stage), played intensively and rocked hard. Their songs were jarring and angular but there w

You're a few years overdue . . .

. . . for a book update, so here we go: As of late, I've been working almost exclusively on the Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World chapters. I interviewed former Get Up Kids drummer Ryan Pope on Monday and the conversation went really well. We touched on a lot of things that I've always wondered about the band. Now I'm trying to think of what else I could ask his brother, Rob, when I interview him. I'm sure I will leave no stone unturned. The spot in the Jimmy Eat World chapter that I'm currently on is just after they signed with Capitol Records and were about to record Static Prevails . These were some different times back in 1995/96 and I hope that comes across. Due to the fact that Christie Front Drive is often talked about but never really described in other places, I figured the Jimmy Eat World chapter was the best place to bring them up. Along those lines, I feel it's safe to come out and say that each chapter is not completely focused on the band/label i

"ork-pop"

I am not knocking people who call bands like Architecture in Helsinki, Head of Femur and the Polyphonic Spree "ork-pop" ( a shortened nickname for "orchestral pop" bands - these are bands that utilize horns, strings, and pianos, in addition to drums and guitars, in a rock setting ) here, but something about the sound of that nickname puzzles me. I keep thinking of orcs, the name of Sauron's goblin minions found in JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings . Orcs and pop music? Orcs epitomize evil and ugliness, not good and happiness. Yeah, I'm stretching things here, but when you are a big fan of both orchestral pop (read yesterday's post on Petula Clark) and the Lord of the Rings books and movies, I feel torn on what to call this style of music. How about orchestral-pop? The name fits well with the sound of the word, "orchestral." If this is pop-rock music played with a wide assortment of classical instruments, shouldn't its nickname be cl

Petula Clark Appreciation

I have a new CD in my collection that I'm going absolutely ga-ga over. No, it's not some post-hardcore band from the mid-'90s, an orchestral pop band from Canada or a punk band. It's The Ultimate Petula Clark . Yes, Petula Clark, the woman behind such hits as "Downtown," "My Love" and "I Know a Place," is getting more time in my CD player than others. I don't know if it's because of hearing songs like "Don't Give Up" and "I Know a Place" on the radio, the Seinfeld episode in which George tries to decode a boss's assignment based on the lyrics to "Downtown," or going to the Smoke and the Lollipop Shoppe get-togethers that have kept Ms. Clark's music around me, but all of these have been factors. Having all the great tracks on one digitally remastered CD is a joy and it makes me think about why I like them so much. Essentially the material found on The Ultimate Petula Clark is energized,

Be Good to Yourself

For the last few weeks, I've perused MelodicRock.com thanks to this post. The one feature I keep coming back to is the one that has new interviews with the members of Journey. While I'm in no rush to pick up Journey's new record, Generations , it's cool to read interviews where the band members are taken seriously. Yes, I'm very well aware that I'm talking about Journey, the prototype for corporate rock in the 1970s/1980s, but as I've said before, I still love this band's music. Even though I often rock out to their Greatest Hits and their last studio album, Arrival , I don't know too much about the band's history (other than what their Behind the Music showed). I did not know that the bassist on the Raised on Radio tour was Randy Jackson of American Idol fame . Yes, the guy who says "Dawg" was in Journey. What else I don't know about this band, I'm sure I'll find out in some tell-all biography some day. Reading Melo

In Defense of Drums

Kev chimes in with a handful of musician jokes so I had to add some of the jokes I've heard about my musical instrument of choice. Here are a few: What do you call a guy that hangs out with musicians? A drummer. What's the last thing a drummer says before he leaves a band? "Hey guys, let's try a song that I wrote." How do you get a drummer off your porch? Give him the $12 for the pizza. What do you call a drummer that just broke up with his girlfriend? Homeless. I know, "har har har." I've heard these jokes for years and think they're pretty funny too. However, the perception that a drummer is a loser/non-musician is a misnomer. There are/were plenty of smart people behind the skins that treat the beating of drums and cymbals as musical instruments. They think of drums as single-note bells; each drum and cymbal represent a different note. It's up to the one holding the sticks to make the notes work. I think drums work best when

Since You Went Away/I've Been Hanging Around

Does anybody remember a time in the late-'80s/early-'90s when techno-pop groups teamed up with popular female singers that had been out of the spotlight for a while? I'm talking about the Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield on "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" and the KLF with Tammy Wynette on "Justified and Ancient" as prime examples. These are great tracks but I wonder, were these pairings made in order to make these singers hip to a younger generation? Obviously they worked for me, but what about the people that grew up on "Son of a Preacherman" or "D-I-V-O-R-C-E"? I didn't grow up on a lot of rock 'n' roll oldies or country music, so the chances of me being exposed to those ladies' voices was very slim. I'm sure there was quite a bit of eye-rolling by longtime fans but if the track is great and still holds up, how can this be a problem? Until a few years ago, I only really knew Shirley Bassey through her r

Ever Revolving, Never Evolving

Reading this article about Fenix TX reforming brought back all sorts of memories of my time around Houston-based pop-punk. I came into pop-punk a little late the game in the late-90s (high school was ending, college was starting) after I was a Green Day and face to face fan for a few years. Fenix TX (originally named Riverfenix), 30footFALL and Middlefinger were some of the more popular Houston-based bands at the time. Now that I know what the Fenix TX guys are up to, I wonder what some of those other bands are up to. Believe it or not, but I never saw 30footFALL play a show in Houston. They played packed shows at Fitzgerald's all the time, but I never got around to seeing them. The first (and only) time I saw them was in Dallas at Trees back in 1998. They put out a record on Nitro ( Ever Revolving, Never Evolving ) and toured with the Offspring, but other than that, that was the last I heard of them. I saw Riverfenix and Middlefinger play live only once (both times were on the

The 10+ Minute Epic

I don't usually listen to songs that are ten or more minutes long. I think songs usually say everything in five minutes, tops. There are plenty of exceptions but I think there is a big difference between Wilco's "Less Than You Think" and Television's "Marquee Moon". In the case of Wilco's "Less Than You Think," there is a sound collage of low hums that comes in after few minutes and it never lets up after fifteen minutes. There is no payoff for the time you spend waiting for something to happen. There is no big ending a la the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" (not that all long songs need one), but I after a few minutes of constant humming and buzzing, I just think, "Why bother? I'll just skip to the next track." In the case of Television's "Marquee Moon," if the song was anything shorter than eleven minutes, I would feel short-changed. If you've ever heard the song, you know the song just keeps b

Ride the Cliche

We hear cliches everyday but we rarely stop and wonder where they come from. For me, I try to avoid the cliches that I don't know what they really mean. Of course, the meanings are open to interpretation but there usually is a consensus. To try and find out their origins/meanings, I often turn to this site. GoEnglish.com doesn't have every cliche I've wondered about ("oil and water" and "let it roll off your back like water on a duck" are just some of them), but it has plenty. I know a lot of this is "duh" for a lot of people, but for someone that wants to know specifics about these phrases, I seek clarity from more sources. "Between a rock and a hard place" is one of those phrases I never really understood until recently. I kept having this visual of being stuck between rock formations on a beach and not having a way to get out. A rock is a hard place so what makes it sound like there is a difference between a rock and a hard plac

Hard Times Are In Fashion

Koufax released their third proper LP, Hard Times Are In Fashion , on Tuesday. If you've followed these guys since the beginning, you know they have yet to make a record with one consistent line-up. Essentially a duo consisting of guitarist/vocalist Robert Suchan and keyboardist Jared Rosenberg, they've had a few drummers, bassists and even once had a second keyboardist. Now as a five-piece with Ben Force on second guitar, Rob Pope on bass and Ryan Pope on drums, and despite all the shifting line-ups, Koufax has made yet another solid record. For such a guitar/keyboard-heavy band, I think it's cool that Hard Times Are In Fashion features some pedal steel guitar on a few tracks. Now don't take that to mean that Koufax has gone into hokey country territory. This is some of the same good stuff they've done since their debut LP, It Had to Do With Love , but with some new touches. Suchan's lyrics often touch on relationships, whether they're on friends or gi

Oral History

Along with reading four other books, I'm in the middle of reading Saturday Night Live 's oral history, Live From New York . The book is a monster at 656 pages, but after reading the newest Harry Potter book (at 652 pages) in one week, I realized I could eventually finish Live from New York in a timely fashion. Back when old SNL reruns (as in, from '75-'80) were on cable, I couldn't get enough of stuff like the Coneheads, the wild-n-crazy guys, Jaws making door-to-door visits, cheeseburger cheeseburger and Nick the Lounge Singer. Since I haven't seen an old rerun in years, I'm in the dark with some of the relatively obscure sketches/actors that are brought up. Sometimes topics change from paragraph to paragraph and I get lost. Thankfully co-authors James Miller and Tom Shales add some commentary here and there to help tie things together. With certain other oral histories, there isn't enough commentary or no commentary at all. Probably the biggest off

Bring Back Fugazi?

From time to time, I receive random "friend requests" on MySpace. Usually it's some band that I don't know who is trying to build up their friends list. While I haven't done this myself, I believe these bands find possible "friends" by searching via musical preferences and pick any/all persons that fit their criteria. Since I want people on my friends list to be people I actually know (or may know through another friend), I usually click 'deny' with these kinds of requests. Well, yesterday I received a friend request from Bring Back Fugazi . Technically, this profile isn't a band or a random person, this profile is set up to, in the words of the mission statement: The purpose of this is for people to express their complete dissapointment [sic] and devastation during this interim period (which may or may not be permanent) in which Fugazi doesn't exist. For those of us who know, when you see a band like Fugazi they have the potential to de

Sunday Double Header

Due to severe boredom, rainy skies and no kickball, yesterday became a movie double header of Bananas and Danger: Diabolik . I gotta say, I enjoyed both of them, but for very different reasons. I've only seen a few of Woody Allen's "classic" movies: Manhattan , Annie Hall and Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask . Great stuff, but Allen has done so many movies that you have a hard time keeping up if you're a casual fan. Bananas is more of a slapstick satire than a dramatic comedy but it still has a heart. I want to see more of these kinds of Allen flicks. Looks like I'll be bumping up Play it Again, Sam and Sleeper on my Netflix queue . . . Like a lot of people, I was first exposed to Danger: Diabolik through the Beastie Boys' "Body Movin'" video. When I saw the film on Mystery Science 3000 , I thought it was a really terrible movie that looked really good. The sets are really cool but the actin

Something extra . . .

Here's some satire for today : Album Still Not Good Even After Repackaging BAKERSFIELD - Despite selling 300,000 copies upon its initial release in 2003, Emerson's Blood's Time is a Devastating Burden is still not a good record, critics say. Even with its recent reissue with five bonus tracks and a bonus DVD, Time still "reeks of cheesy, meathead riffs and childish lyrics," according to Big Time pop music critic, Bob White. "You still can't get the past the fact that this record was created for mass consumption by a younger audience and this same audience quickly dismissed it once a fresher band came along." The members of Emerson's Blood, who are currently working on their "most intense and heaviest record to date," according to the band's publicist, hoped that the reissuing of Time would be a treat for longtime fans and introduce new fans too. However, longtime fan Bill Gershon feels shortchanged by this. "I bought th

Kidz Bop

Daniel has a great article on a disease that has plagued parents now for a few years: Kidz Bop . In the dictionary of my mind, here's what I pull up with ' Kidz Bop ': noun. blog fodder. 1) CD compilation series that features remakes of popular tunes of the day featuring adults and children singing together. 2) Reportedly each volume sells a lot of copies, thus giving off the notion that there is an audience that wants more volumes. 3) Induces eye-rolling with people of all ages, including children. My guess is that these compilations are put together to appeal to both parents and kids or just kids. My feeling is that there is a great misunderstanding here: when you have out-of-tune young kids singing about very adult-oriented things (from frank sexual innuendo to transcendentalism), you really have to wonder if these kids are being taken for a ride. Hear me out: I think music should be for anybody, but rehasing it isn't best in the long run. Just like how remakes

Lookout!

A number of music news sites (like Punknews.org and Pitchfork ) reported yesterday about the current, uncertain future of Lookout! Records. The Cliff's Notes version is that Green Day, like Screeching Weasel and Avail, pulled their Lookout! back catalog and the label laid off six of their nine employees. Now I know all is fair and unfair in business, but the timing of this really sucks. Here's why: Lookout! was synonymous with bubblegum pop-punk in 1990s. They released classics by Screeching Weasel, Green Day and The Mr. T Experience but as the decade faded away, Lookout! slowly reinvented itself. When they added Ted Leo/Pharmacists, they gained one of the most vital and important bands in music (not just in punk music) today. I know it's a cliche to call Leo "the Man," but I can't think of anyone else currently making music that is as politically-minded, inspiring and humble as Leo. Anyway, Lookout! added some great bands to their roster over the years, li

Obligatory Sufjan Stevens Post

A few weeks ago, I couldn't avoid an MP3 blog or a music news site without seeing something about Sufjan Stevens and/or his new album, Come On Feel the Illinoise. Well, I finally got around to listening to it last night. Folks, I'm very impressed with what I heard, even after one listen. The word I keep using to describe Illinoise is that it's very pretty. "Pretty" can mean a lot, but in this case, I mean it as there is a lot of orchestration, warm melodies and zero bombast. It's a record brimming with colors: acoustic guitars, keyboards and flutes are just some of them. Plus, the songs flow well together. They're different from one another but they don't jump all over the place. And this was all from one listen. I look forward to more listens of Come on the Feel the Illinoise , but I figure now is a good time to talk about some of my favorite albums of the year so far. Bloc Party, Silent Alarm Aimee Mann, The Forgotten Arm . . . And You Will K

Button Down

After years of wearing band t-shirts all the time, I decided to make a wardrobe change earlier this year. I still wear my Sparta, Grade, Slowride, Josh Rouse, No Motiv and face to face shirts but I felt that I should try out other kinds of shirts. So, after a few trips to Ross and Kohl's, I've found some new designs that fit my personality: button-down shirts with pseudo-Hawaiian and other offbeat designs. When I say "pseudo-Hawaiian," I mean a design pattern that doesn't stick out in a tacky way. I don't like 'hot' colors so I'm a little choosy on that end. With designs, less is more with me. I'd rather have a black shirt with two black widows crawling up cobwebs than a hot red shirt with fifty Cadillacs and surfboards. A particular design I'd love to find is one with a couple of flames, bowling balls and bowling pins. I'm on the hunt . . . I can't pinpoint one person to my inspiration for such shirts. I could say my landlord Ja

Besides

I don't know how they pan out, but b-sides collections often work well on their own as stand-alone releases. Not "proper" albums, per se; rather, they're enjoyable collections of orphaned songs. Listening to Belle & Sebastian's Push Barman to Open Old Wounds over the weekend was a great reminder of this. For a lot of bands, b-sides are quickly written, quickly recorded and tacked onto a single to help sell it. In all fairness, b-sides often give bands a little more room to stretch out with songs that normally wouldn't fit their mold or style. Sometimes these songs are relegated to b-side status because there were stronger tracks and they would disrupt the flow of the album. Then there are bands that have so many songs written and recorded that they don't know what to do with them all. Because of these factors, an alternate album (or albums) is created. Case in point, the singles from Idlewild's previous album, The Remote Part , featured a number