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Showing posts from December, 2005

Why I have an iPod

Earlier this year I blogged about why I don't have an iPod. I still stand behind my reasons (the cost, the annoying two-second gap between live tracks, etc.) but I've never thought iPods were bad or useless. I had a lot of reasons why I didn't have a bulky, expensive model but I wasn't really thinking about the smaller, cheaper models like the Nano and Shuffle. Upon receiving an iPod Nano from my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas, I believe I've found yet another way of enjoying music. My iPod has only 2GBs of space but this works better for me. There isn't enough room to put a variety of full albums in the library, but that shifts the focus onto individual songs. I put a lot of my all-time favorite songs in from iTunes, press the 'Shuffle Songs' option and see what comes up. I currently have 111 time-tested favorites loaded, including songs by Suede, Petula Clark, Koufax, the Beatles, Public Image Ltd. and the Jam, and plenty of room left. This i

Hey, Remember the '80s?

Bob Mould chimes in with some inspiring words in The Big Takeover #57. Reading this quote gives me even more hope because it comes from a guy who lived in a very similar climate in the 1980s: "It's gotta change. And it will change. And I tell my younger friends-people that are in their late-20s to mid-30s, when they get panicked and worried-we went through this before, 20 years ago, in the Reagan years. We got out on the other side. It took awhile, and a lot of damage got done, and a lot of lives were lost in a different way in the '80s, but you get through it, you know?" I was born in '79 and was very oblivious to what was going on in the world. I kept hearing about "Star Wars" on the news, but I always thought they were talking about my favorite movie. I remember being very annoyed that I couldn't watch cartoons one morning because some guy named Oliver North was giving testimony. I remember lampooning Reagan's voice in a talent show in ele

Post excerpt

Yet another Post excerpt summing up my current mood (especially the last line). Hope everybody had a nice Christmas. Following the success of Very Emergency , the Promise Ring was in a tricky situation with Jade Tree. The band wanted to do more with the sound of their records, the look of their records and overseas distribution, but Jade Tree could only offer them a certain amount. The label couldn’t offer numbers in the six-figures to sign a new act, let alone make a very polished-sounding record for an established act. If Jade Tree did throw that kind of money around and didn’t make a profit, the label wouldn’t be around anymore. The label was always a very small operation; even with the success of the Promise Ring and Lifetime, it was run out of a spare room in the house that Owen and Walters shared. With help from interns over the years, Owen and Walters were the only full-time employees on the label. In 1999, Jade Tree expanded by hiring on two more full-timers and moved

The Lesser Lights of Heaven

If you've ever heard Zao , chances are you haven't forgotten what they sound like: extreme, exorcism-like vocals over brutally heavy riffs and big drums. No, this isn't the kind of music I listen to on a regular basis, but I respect it and enjoy listening to it from time to time. After seeing the recent 3 and 1/2 hour documentary on the band called The Lesser Lights of Heaven , I don't know if I find the band's history more interesting than their music. Other than Napalm Death, Zao is the only other band that I know of that retains none of their original members in their current line-up. Led by drummer Jesse Smith and a number of membership changes over a dozen years, certain members like vocalist Dan Weyandt, guitarist Scott Mellinger and guitarist Russ Cogdell floated in, around and out of the band. Now without Smith in the band, it sounds like blasphemy that the band is carrying on with the Zao name. I don't think it is, but how I feel this way can only be s

Against what?

"'You're not punk and I'm telling everyone'/Save your breath I never was one" -Jawbreaker, "Boxcar" Punknews.org reports some pretty big news : Against Me! has signed with Sire Records. For those that don't know, Sire Records was the home of a number of influential acts in the late-'70s/early-'80s (like Talking Heads, the Ramones and Madonna). It's also a major label. Against Me! is a folky punk act that has released records on non-major labels like No Idea and Fat Wreck Chords. Is there any reason to get all in a huff about this? No. Has this ever been a reason for me to get all up in a huff? No. As someone who was introduced to modern rock music through artists on major labels, I never had a problem with bands signing with major labels. Being someone who didn't have a lot of access to music other than the radio and MTV, I didn't feel compelled to find what else was out there. When I got sick of what I heard and saw on re

Trees

Yesterday, Torr posted the news that Trees, one of Deep Ellum's best known clubs, is closing soon. Yes, the club where Kurt Cobain smacked a bouncer with his guitar and was then smacked by the bouncer (see the Nirvana: Live, Tonight, Sold Out!!! video for documentation) is closing its doors. I've had some very mixed feelings about the place over the years, but it's sad to see a major Deep Ellum venue close down. I saw a number of shows there and have a lot of stories. So I will first talk about the memorable shows I saw: The Vandals/30footFALL, fall '98 This was the first show I saw in Dallas after moving to Fort Worth for school. Good, fun punk rock viewed from the balcony on stage right. I had never seen 30footFALL play in their hometown of Houston (where I lived primarily between 1987-1998) so it was cool to finally see them live. At the Drive-In/Murder City Devils/400 Blows, winter '00 ATDI was supporting their fantastic Relationship of Command record and

Gang of Four

After reading Jack Rabid's interview with them in The Big Takeover #57 , I decided to dust off my copy of Gang of Four 's Entertainment! Boy, I think it's safe to say that I finally get this band. As I've mentioned before, there was a point in my high school years (junior year especially) when I started searching for music instead of accepting whatever was on MTV or the radio at the time. Thanks to mentions in Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama and J. Robbins' kudos of it in a Guitar World article, I was interested in Entertainment! At that time, Henry Rollins' and Rick Rubin's label Infinite Zero had reissued it along with out-of-print Troublefunk and Devo records. This was some good stuff, but after having Entertainment! in my library for years, I never really "got" it. Now after hearing quite a few bands that the press has lumped them together with, I get Gang of Four. For the longest time, I thought Gang of Four was a funky Clash. Very

Post excerpt

Here's a little bit from the Jawbreaker chapter. The line about the merry-go-round seems to echo my current mood: DGC was behind the record and got the band a lot of publicity, but they couldn’t wait forever for Jawbreaker to break out. “There was definitely a six-month wait-and-see period,” Schwarzenbach told Punk Planet years later. “We were doing a lot of big press with newspaper columnists and, almost always, they had no familiarity with the band and none of them would say if they even halfway liked our record.” The band kept moving along and they had a few new songs in development, but overall, their shot on a major label had passed. “Our intention with a major label was to try to move it up to a new level and to do something different with the band,” Bauermeister said. “After a year of trying to market ourselves, we were still in the same place we were before. It looked as though nothing had changed. We would have to tour even more.” The band was on a constantly m

Curb Your Enthusiasm

After hearing much adulation from trusted sources (read, friends who understand my sense of humor), I gave Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm another shot. Being someone who quotes lines from Seinfeld almost every day and still enjoys watching it, I cannot say I'm a fan of Curb . Hear me out: a few years ago, I watched the "Chet's Shirt" episode (the one with Larry going to Ted Danson's child's birthday party and getting his two front teeth knocked out). I thought the episode was all right, but not anything great. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I rented the first season of the show on Netflix. I watched nine out of the ten episodes and found myself laughing pretty hard at them, but not really wanting to watch them over again. Why am I not compelled to watch these episodes again? The uncomfortable aspect. A lot of the show's humor comes from any one of the characters making a big deal out of a relatively small thing and being in awkward situations

How Strange, Innocence

Explosions in the Sky came into my life at a time when I was listening to a lot of other instrumental rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai. After receiving a copy of EITS's Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever , I kind of schlepped over it because it sounded like a smaller, lo-fi version of Godspeed and Mogwai. Listening to EITS again after four years, I realized that I have been missing out. Reading about the band on Chrome Waves (full archive of posts here ), reading all the rave reviews about their second proper album, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place and them doing the score to Friday Night Lights kept the band in my thoughts. It was all of those things, but I now consider myself a huge fan after reviewing the band's "first attempt at recording," How Strange, Innocence , for Punk Planet . The story goes that the band recorded How Strange, Innocence essentially as a demo for anyone that wanted to h

Merry Christmas, Damnit! Part Deux

I'm still having a good December, but the topic of making the holidays into one big vanilla milkshake rears its ugly head again. Listening to last night's replay of Ernie Brown , one segment was about how some schools are trying to ban Christmas songs being sung. Just like my thoughts on saying "Merry Christmas," have you ever heard of a child running home and crying that he/she was offended by Christmas songs? Well, if there were songs called "Santa Claus is Really Your Dad," "Buying Your Gifts Put Mommy and Daddy in the Red for Another Year" or "Christmas Kills Puppies, Kittens and Babies," I'd understand, but how can a song like "O Holy Night" be offensive? Then I read this great article in the always-satirical, The Onion , this morning: Activist Judge Cancels Christmas WASHINGTON, DC—In a sudden and unexpected blow to the Americans working to protect the holiday, liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Steph

Holiday changes

Here's an excerpt from Greg Kot's year-end round-up on music in the Chicago Tribune : HERE'S THE MESSAGE the record industry sent music lovers just as the holidays approached: DROP DEAD. With compact-disc sales tanking for the third time in four years (down 10 percent so far from 2004), the major labels got increasingly desperate in 2005. Sony-BMG began encoding CDs with copy-protection software to limit copying of the discs. But the software exposed consumers' computers to Internet viruses, and Sony BMG had to recall millions of the infected CDs. The $6.5 million public-relations disaster was the latest black eye for an industry that sees Internet file-sharing as a threat to its existence, rather than a doorway to creating a new business model that would enable artists and record companies to reach more listeners than ever. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents more than 1,450 companies, says there are 900 million unsanctioned

Merry Christmas, Damnit!

Kev has blogged about this before, but I thought I'd chip in some more comments with my feelings on the subject. Have you ever met anyone who was offended by the words, "Merry Christmas?" I haven't and I don't think I'll ever be offended by that line. I'm not an atheist or a churchgoer, but I honestly don't know how I could be offended by such a remark. Apparently some people are, but I question if these people are really offended. A line like "Merry Christmas" is as harmless as "Have a nice day." Of course there is no guarantee as to how large or small the merriness or niceness one's experience will be, but the sayings are often meant in the most kindest of ways. Granted, "have a nice day" has no words relating to a messiah, but "nice" and "merry" are friendly bedfellows. I say "Merry Christmas" in a way that owes no implication of a certain religious denomination because wishes of

The Grammys

Once again, a post on the AV Club blog inspires a comment from your's truly: Does the world need another rant about the Grammys? posted by: Keith Phipps December 8, 2005 - 11:37am Oh Grammys! Each year I can feel you trying hard for legitimacy. Each year you never quite get it right. It's cute, really. You're like the 48-year-old suburban dad who thinks owning an Audioslave CD sets him apart. Somewhere deep inside you know you're the least legitimate major awards group. But you keep trying. So, yeah, thank you for a Best Alternative Music Album category that makes sense. It's nice to know you've heard of the Arcade Fire. And, oh yeah, U2. They're still good. Thanks for nominating them for that album came out last year past your inexplicably early deadline. And, uh, yeah, The White Stripes are on there a couple times. That's cool. John Legend. Fine. Fiona Apple, Kanye West, The Killers... There are some good names on here. But, wow, Male Pop Voca

Favorites of Year's Past Revisited

Since I've been writing up my favorite records of this year, I've decided to revisit some of the ones that I called my favorites of yesteryear. Ryan Adams, Gold The album of 2001 for me. A 16-track album with ups and downs in moods, but never drags. Even though it came out in the fall, I got more into it than any other record that I got that year. Interestingly, the album really made an impression on me after sitting in stop-n-go traffic on I-45 through Corsicana for 50 minutes. I had a lot of time to listen and I think that's the beauty of traffic: it's an opportunity to spend more time listening to music. I think I listened to the album 1.5 times and by the time I got out of the bottleneck, I knew what was going to top my year-end list. Now, I don't listen to Gold as much as I do with later efforts like Love is Hell and Rock N Roll , but I still think very highly of Adams's overall work (even though I gave a cold shoulder to some of his new records that c

Not Fickle, Just Choosy in 2005

It fascinates me how some bands are paraded with compliments one year and are egged with harsh criticism only a short time later. . . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead were pegged as saviors of rock when Source Tags & Codes came out in 2002, but this year, there were way more negative reviews of Worlds Apart than positive reviews. Maybe that's the standard definition of backlash. I think of it more as what Kevin Smith went through with Mallrats when it first came out. He describes the feeling as one minute people want to hear what you say and think and then another minute the same people are telling you that your ideas suck. Is this being a fickle turncoat? I don't think so. People judge a work one at a time because loyalty can be blinding. This year, a couple of bands that I really like their earlier efforts released new records: Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie. Here are my reasons for why I didn't bother picking up their new records: Coldplay, X&Y

Almost favorites of 2005

I’m hesitant to call these my Least Favorites of 2005 or The Most Disappointing Releases of 2005, but I think of these records as records that I spent some good quality time with but just didn’t find the urge to keep going back to them. The Mars Volta, Frances the Mute As someone who really enjoyed (and still enjoys) their first album, De-loused in the Comatorium , I found Frances the Mute a tad frustrating. The band sounds quite wayward (see the half-hour-long finale, “Cassandra Geminni”), anti-climactic (see “The Widow”) and a tad on the silly, but fun side (see “L’via L’viaquez”) on this record. I can listen to the long songs on De-loused without any hesitation; however, I can’t say the same about Frances . This isn’t a sophomore slump, but it’s just a little more of a challenge than I can handle. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Cold Roses I’m still in the dark as to why people think Adams’s debut record, Heartbreaker , is the best album of his career. Many people compared Col

Favorite music of 2005

This is by no means a list of all the music I’ve fancied this year, but here is a highlight reel. I can’t give these albums justice by just listing them, so I feel it’s necessary to explain why I like each one. Bloc Party, Silent Alarm I’m still not sold on dancey guitar rock in the vein of Gang of Four. For all of 2005, Bloc Party has been painted by the press as a dancey rock band, right up there with Franz Ferdinand. Upon listening to Silent Alarm over and over again this year, I feel that there is way more to this band than just jagged guitars and jumpin’ drumbeats. Silent Alarm isn’t confined to all things considered post-punk between 1979 and 1981. I hear splashes of mathy, mid-90s post-hardcore in spots but then I also hear traces of early U2 (especially Boy ). These songs go places but they don’t lose the listener in the process. Each one has its own recognizable melody, beat and flavor, so Silent Alarm rarely drags. From the crashing opener of “Like Eating Glass” to the

Why do we care?

I planned on writing a blog post on the following topic, but Nathan Rabin over at the AV Club wrote up a really good post before I could write it. Here is his post and here is my comment: Why do we care? posted by: Nathan Rabin December 1, 2005 - 4:57pm Howdy you alls, I know it's been longer than a camel's dong since I last rapped at ya (to borrow the immortal opening gambit of one of my favorite columnists) but I been all busy and shit, rocking, rolling and also whatnot. So anyway, I read William Goldman's "The Big Picture" a little while back. It's a pretty mind-bogglingly useless book cobbled together haphazardly out of similarly lazy and pointless columns Goldman wrote about two intertwined subjects in the 90s: handicapping the Oscars and making wildly inaccurate predictions about various film's box office potential. Part of what makes the book so useless yet strangely addictive is its incredibly short shelf life. Who exactly is hungering in 2005

Last Book Update of 2005

It's been a relatively long time since I've given an update on Post . Well, here's an update: Writing and researching continues, but at a rather slow pace. I used to work on stuff everyday but that changed in October, following my temporary unemployment. I took it rather easy for most of that month. This was the first time since college that I ever had a break from something work-related. I got a lot out of taking almost a full month off and while it put my mind at ease, my writing took a passenger's seat. It's strange; not being on a regular work schedule probably would have been a golden opportunity to write all the time. Not in my case. With being out away from a work environment, the inspiration to write grew to a halt. Now that I'm back in a work environment, the writing has really picked up. Most recently, I have been fleshing out the Jimmy Eat World chapter. After 18 pages, I took a breather and tooled around on other chapters. The Hot Water Music chap

RIAA satire

The Onion always comes through with great satire. In honor of my post on MP3 blogs, here's a little blurb about the RIAA found in this week's Onion: RIAA Bans Telling Friends About Songs November 30, 2005 Issue 41•48 LOS ANGELES—The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. "We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material," a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. "We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating 'buzz' about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves." RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-