Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2006

Nobody Likes You

A preview of Marc Spitz 's latest book , Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times and Music of Green Day , appeared in Alternative Press a few months ago. I liked what I read, especially the nice long quote from none other than Bryan Jones of Horace Pinker. Just based on these excerpts, I was really looking forward to the book. Besides, this is an official biography where the band members, along with a number of key people, were interviewed directly. So why do I feel like Nobody Likes You is an excerpt from another, much longer, yet-to-released, biography for Green Day? Nobody Likes You is very well researched. At 190 pages, there are no glaring topics not mentioned. I loved how the whole Gilman Street area mindset/sell-out backlash is discussed with prime quotes from Fat Mike and Jello Biafra. This section was probably the most thorough analysis of what selling out meant to the area and it's well put. However, once the band members' beginnings, the band's

iTunes Shuffle 12.28.06

"(I Want to Be An) Anglepoise Lamp" by the Soft Boys I remember when my friend Goose told me to drop everything and buy the Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight . He called it "Eric Music" as it mixed punk rock with garage rock and jangle-pop (some of my favorite styles of music). I had him burn me a copy as I wanted to be 100% sure. He was totally right. "Anglepoise Lamp" is not on Moonlight , but it has everything on it that makes the Soft Boys the greats they are. "Champagne from a Paper Cup" by Death Cab for Cutie This version is from the You Can Play These Songs With Chords compilation. Ben Gibbard sounds more like Doug Martsch than Ben Gibbard here. That said, this is a nice little short song from the band's early days (an era I'm slowly rediscovering). "Kingpin" by Wilco Bluesy country from Wilco's transformation album, Being There . Though the band doesn't play a lot of material from this era now, this song has


Time for another poem. This time, if Bukowski wrote about today's weather in Dallas: Rain rain it reigns over everything i want to do it sums up my mood but i see some clearing the rain brought some cold yet there is no ice no panic no fear just some skids at a stoplight i want some more clearing before i walk outside do the drunks care about the weather? i guess i'm an exception winter is supposed to start tomorrow but it feels like fall just started halloween felt like yesterday hell, last year's christmas party felt like yesterday time goes too fast in a weekly routine my shopping is done i cross my fingers for no return trips even if it totally clears i've had enough shopping for a year i'm too old to play in the leaves i'm too aware of the mud on the ground i think i'll enjoy the ground when it goes back to dirt maybe i'll have something else to complain about

You Could Be Born Again

I've always had a soft spot for sunny, almost-whimsical pop music from the Sixties. It's why I get a smile on my face when I hear "Windy" by the Association or the Friends of Distinction's version of "Grazing in the Grass." It's what drew me into LOST 's second season opener with the use of Mama Cass's "Make Your Own Kind of Music." There's no "rock" element here; it's just warm and sugary melodies with horns, pianos and layers of vocal harmonies. I first heard of the Free Design 's existence via Stereolab's song of the same name. I heard accolades about their material over the years, but I never heard any of it until yesterday. Sound Opinions features a super-obscure Christmas track, "Shepherds & Wisemen," on this week's show. I played the track about three or four times before I cast my net out for some of their material. Good friend Mark supplied me with the Kites Are Fun compilation,

Update from J. Robbins

J. posted a message on his website over the weekend following up on last week's news release: 12.13.06 It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. Partly, I haven’t had the time or energy, but mostly it just didn’t feel appropriate to write about a family crisis on my music/work/vanity website. This is the place where I indulge inconsequential musings about music or politics, throw down Top Ten lists and propound my love of whomever I am lucky to be working with at any given time ... but things have definitely changed around here and especially since Kim and Bill put up their page for our son Cal , I figure it’s time I said something about what’s been happening. Above all, I want to say THANK YOU - though words barely seem adequate - to Kim, Bill, Margaret Morgan and friends in the UK, and to everyone who has donated anything or even just sent a message of support. Janet and I feel more than ever that we are part of a real community, irrespective of geography but shari

Favorite Music of 2006 - Part III

Sometime in January of this year, I had a craving for Pantera's music. I hadn't really listened to these guys since high school, but when I heard them again, I didn't feel like I was in a timewarp. Receiving a copy of the band's "greatest hits" collection, I was struck by how incredible this music still was. I've always held fellow bands like Metallica close to me, but I never thought 2006 would be a year I would really get into a few newer metal bands. I've thought all year long about why I feel drawn to this kind of music. Depending on the band, stuff like crunching power chords, noodly riffs, shouting/singing vocals and busy drumming don't seem stupid. They actually feel pretty inspiring. Again, this depends on the band. A few metal bands have blown my mind this year and here's the list Killswitch Engage I've posted so much about these guys this year, so I'll keep it short. This is some tuneful and tasteful metal that's also crus


When you interview people for a book or documentary, you can't help but get close to them. In my time of writing and researching my book, I've become close to a number of people I've interviewed. This is not so I can take advantage of them and exploit their "dirt"; this is because I relate to who they are and what they are about. Plus, I'm a big fan of what they've done (be it playing music, releasing albums or writing about music). So it was pretty heartbreaking to get the news about J. Robbins's son, Callum. 10-month-old Callum was born with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA affects the brain's ability to communicate with the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, breathing, and swallowing. The prognosis is very grim: even if he lives past his second birthday (which a large percentage of children with this don't make it to), he'll never be able to walk. The cost of treatment is very expensive an

Favorite Music of 2006 Part II

Today's list consists of "catalog artists" (aka, artists that have been around for years). Coincidentally, all of the following released new material this year. Yet it was mostly older material that really rocked my brain off. Tom Waits Until October 2005, I thought Tom Waits was The Guy With Nearly-Unlistenable Songs That Somehow Wrote The Very-Listenable, "Downtown Train". Being introduced to his gentler material (like "Take It With Me," "Tom Traubert's Blues" and "Ol' '55"), I realized there was more to this guy. With the acquisition of Used Songs , a collection of his material on Asylum, I dug even more. Reading Innocent When You Dream , reading the Complete Idiot's Guide on Jefito and seeing Big Time , his "unlistenable" stuff became pretty listenable. Now I'm at a point where I want to have almost every album of his. While I await some nice record company to remaster and reissue his back-catalog,

Favorite Music of 2006 Part I

2006 was indeed a great year with music. I'm working up to my absolute favorites of year, but before then, here are some records I really enjoyed in 2006 that were released in 2005. Against Me!, Searching for a Former Clarity Searching for a Former Clarity came out in fall of 2005. I was curious to hear the album when it was released, but I heard all sorts of drastically mixed reviews. Some said this was a great step forward. Some said the demos were better. Others felt the band could never top their debut, Reinventing Axl Rose . Fate stepped in by receiving the record to review for Punk Planet . I wasn't sure what to think of it based on my first few listens, so I kept listening to it again and again. I reached a point where I couldn't stop listening to the album (well after I had written and sent off my positive review). Why could I not stop listening? Well, the band has its own blend of harsh punk rock with pop-punk and folk (and they do it very well). Other bands do th

Sister I'm a Poet

A few days ago, Jen posted a link that imagined Poems That Were Considered and Rejected Before 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Was Established as "The Official American Christmas Poem." Poems from Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Edgar Alan Poe were imagined and I thought the results were funny. Feeling inspired, I decided to chime in with a poem I thought Charles Bukowski would write: sleigh ride even in winter my ears bleed i never wanted to see that broad again but i did i paid too much for too little in return i ask why why so much for a sleigh ride no jingle no jangle just cold air breezing through my clothes i think about why i gave the bottle up just for a night to be with her and her damn little ride then i remembered the smell of that perfume that laugh that lipstick it was all there but the cold brought me back back to where i was before she called i just can't hear that jing-jing-jingling I don't fancy myself a poet; I was just doing what I thought o

Top Mall Punk News Stories of 2006

No matter how absurd mall punk can be, I can't really turn away from reading about it. I figure one must arm him/herself with as much information for the most amount of ammo. Some of these bands I like, but a number of them I don't like at all. I've found trying to read about a band I really like requires digging around stories about bands that I don't care about. So, here's a short little list of news stories I found fascinating (in good, bad or both ways) in 2006. Top Mall Punk News Stories of 2006 Hawthorne Heights vs. Victory Records 2006 started off with some very shady attempts by the label to get the band's second album, If Only You Were Lonely , atop the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The plan backfired and the record debuted "only" at number 2. In August, a bombshell was dropped: the band was suing to get off the label. The label counter-sued and things are still up in the air. I'm still not a fan of HH's music, but what they did w

Student Bodies quotes of 2006

I make no secret about how much I love Student Bodies (read my review here ). Every year, there are a number of quotes from the movie that stick in my head. Simply, this is really smart, deadpan humor that hasn't become stale. Here's this year's list: Top 10 Student Bodies Quotes for 2006: 10. " Talking? During horsehead bookends?" 9. " Why do they always run away from me? It's the galoshes. They're a dead giveaway. Why do I wear them? It isn't even raining!" 8. "Hasn't there been enough senseless killing? Let's have a murder that makes sense!" 7. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sahara Tahoe. It's showtime! " 6. "I can never stop thinking about it. Funerals get me hot." 5. "I'll get it. I'm farthest from the phone." 4. "Please, don't be so formal. Call me Daddy." 3. "How do you feel about sex?" " Sex? " "Did I mispronounce it?" 2. &qu

Top Ten Quotes

Time for some fun with year-end lists. I'll get to my favorite records of the year (you can read about ten of them in the new issue of Punk Planet ), but for the time being, let me share some quotes I gathered from interviews this year. Top Ten Quotes I Heard This Year During Book Interviews: 10. "I don't feel like I've changed the reasoning that I'm doing any of this shit. You're playing a show for the people that are inside the room, not the people who didn't bother to show up. You're putting out a record for the people who dig it." -- Chris Wollard 9. "His singing gave me the courage to sing like a girl." -- Jeremy Enigk on Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren 8. "When you're talking about rock -- and this goes for any type of rock -- if it isn't a little bit dangerous and it doesn't piss off the parents a little bit, it's questionable and suspect. That's just a safe assumption to me." -- John Congleto

Through the Fire and Flames

Credit goes to the folks at for pointing this out: CRACKED 's Five Most Unintentionally Funny Albums of 2006. Albums by My Chemical Romance, the Mars Volta and Jibbs are listed, but the one that I find very appealing (even with all the silliness) is DragonForce 's Inhuman Rampage . A video for "Through the Fire and Flames" is included and I've watched this video a handful of times. I gotta say, I like this song. Yes, these guys have an Iron Maiden meets Swedish metal vibe. Yes, these guys sing about pain, burning, darkness, freedom, flames and fighting over and over again on the album. Yes, there are about seven guitar solos in "Through the Fire and Flames" alone. Yes, this is pure guitar wankery, but damn, this stuff is tuneful (to my ears at least). A few months ago, a friend of mine who came up through the same post-hardcore/emo/pop-punk stuff that I did, was so excited to see DragonForce play live. As a matter of fact, he changed his

Hurting Each Other

I'm a MySpace addict. I check my account a half-dozen times a day for various matters, like show updates and messages from friends. I know I'm not the only addict around the people I hang out with. Yet I find it odd when people take great offense to actions that seem like a dis by their friends. In particular, declining Friend Requests and changing the order of your Top Friends list. This all may sound so silly, but it's serious business for a number of people. Late last year, I spoke with a couple friends of mine about receiving Friend Requests from people they didn't know. One said she received a request from someone that was a friend of a friend of a friend. Since she didn't know this person, she declined her request. A short while later, she met this person face to face. The encounter was awkward to say the least. This person took great offense to the supposed flat-out rejection. But I wondered why. Is the acceptance of a Friend Request symbolic of acceptance i

Happiness and cheer

With the holidays coming up, I'm slowly making my way into some holiday shopping. Nevermind the long lines, sparse parking and crabby customers, it's the Christmas music that can be annoying the most. I can tolerate hearing the classics to a certain degree (Phil Spector's Christmas album still rules, Big Crosby's stuff is still good, U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is still great, the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" tears me up inside and so on), but a number of songs are played to overkill. Doesn't matter where you are; you can't escape these songs. So in the last five years, I've decided to make my own Christmas mixes from various sources. These are songs that I have yet to be tired of. I still listen to the Vandals' Oi to the World once a holiday season. Nothing like songs titled "A Gun for Christmas," "My First Christmas as a Woman" and "Hang Myself from the Tree" to liven

Say Cheese!

Taking a little cruise down memory lane last night on YouTube , I came upon a few videos I remember seeing all over MTV in their day. Here are three of them: White Lion, "Wait" Firehouse, "Love of a Lifetime" Nelson, "After the Rain" Listening to these songs again, I don't find anything wrong with the songs themselves. They're tuneful and filled with melody. However, I can totally understand why grunge was such a great thing for me, the 7th grader in '91/'92, and the jaded rock music critic who was much older than me. The biggest thing that strikes me with these videos is how goofy-looking guys take themselves very seriously. But how can White Lion's singer consider himself a serious musician when he's constantly bending down in leather pants? How can the guys in Nelson take themselves seriously with their whole look? "That's what people did in those days" they would probably argue today. But come on, this is pure che

Living in Happy Hollow

I think it's very safe to say that last night's show at the Gypsy Tea Room was the best show I've seen all year. Cursive headlined, Jeremy Enigk played second and the Cops opened. Yes, I usually complain about paying for service fees and parking for shows like these, but this one was totally worth it. I was lucky to see Jeremy play twice as he played a five-song set at Good Records in the afternoon. As a longtime fan of his stuff, it was great to see him perform solo with only guitar and piano at his disposal. He played songs from his recent solo album, World Waits , along with a couple of prime tracks from Return of the Frog Queen (including "Explain") and a song from the United States of Leland score. Though he would play all five of these songs again in a few hours, I didn't mind. The Cops are from Seattle and their material often reminded me of Mission of Burma. Though there were no noise-filled jams, there were definitely parts that sounded like the


I'm not an expert on Robert Altman's films. I can't say I'm a big fan of his work. However, he was a filmmaker that took a lot of risks on stuff that most people wouldn't dare do. (How many films not involving Christopher Guest have you heard of where they started shooting a film with a general idea instead of a script?) He was unafraid to say stuff that a lot of people thought about but couldn't put into film. This is why it's sad to hear the news about his passing. A number of Altman's films are staples in film courses and film schools. Myself, I was first introduced via the eight-minute, one-take opening in The Player . Blasting the MTV style of fast-cutting while paying homage to Orson Welles' Touch of Evil opening shot, I was impressed. M*A*S*H came a few months later, but I didn't see another Altman flick until earlier this year. If you only look at his highest-grossing films and say that's all the worthwhile stuff he did, you're

Kingdom Come

I wrote a similar post about this earlier this year, but I want to bring up the topic again: why is modern hip hop/rap considered so . . . hip? I'm talking about the people that love the orchestral folk of Joanna Newsom, the poppy rock of Destroyer and the brutal metal of Mastodon who also love modern hip hop. I ask this as Jay-Z's "comeback" record, Kingdom Come , arrives in stores this week. Full background recap: I've never been a full-fledged fan of hip hop/rap. There were times in middle school and high school where it seemed cool, but never as cool as classic rock, grunge and metal. I couldn't understand how white suburban males found solace and inspiration in this stuff (from the music to the fashion). I couldn't understand how guys my age found Too $hort singing about prostitutes and Public Enemy singing about racial tension cool. What was so appealing with songs about gritty street life? What was so appealing about wearing Los Angeles Raiders jack

Some sharing for an early weekend

Time to share some funny/amusing stuff I've read in the last few weeks that you might enjoy: Useless Advice from Useless Men answer a question by a mother dealing with a three-year-old who has gone beyond being a Toddler Terror . My favorite line is the opening line: "As someone who does not have children, I know exactly how you should be raising your kid." Jeff gave a link to Py Korry's review of Paul Young's new album, Rock Swings . Yes, the same man that gave us such pop hits as "Everytime You Go Away" goes the crooner/swing route on songs like Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Ryan (formerly of Trickles of Reason and now of Zine -O- Phonic ) sent me a link to a local band called face to face. No, it's not the Eighties Boston band or the might Nineties pop-punk band of the same name; this one is a praise and worship band.

Paradise Lost

I've seen my fair share of documentaries. Some great, some OK and some just appalling ( Riding In Vans With Boys comes to mind). I had never seen one that left me incredibly disturbed and frightened at the same time. Besides, I always thought that was a feeling that you could only get from watching a gritty, but fictional, horror movie like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Exorcist . Documentaries don't have those jumps like the ones you find in the original Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street . Well, Paradise Lost (and especially its sequel ) have changed that perspective for me. I had seen Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger's revealing look at the making of Metallica's St. Anger in Some Kind of Monster , but I had never seen the film that put them first in the spotlight. Paradise Lost originally made headlines because it was the first time that Metallica allowed some of their songs be used in a film. Well, the focus of documentary itself made an even bigger im

Sunken Dreams

. . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead feel like they've been around for ages and well, they have. I remember reading about them some ten years ago in a Rolling Stone recap of South By Southwest. Just the name itself sounded cool. Picking up on their recorded material with their second album, Madonna , I've been lucky to see them live twice (right after Source Tags & Codes came out and a few months before Worlds Apart came out). Yet being a Trail of Dead fan for the last couple of years has become a very defensive thing with their post- Source Tags & Codes material. Source Tags & Codes , the band's 2002 major label debut, came out a time when people were convinced that dense modern rock was becoming mainstream again. Records by the Strokes, the White Stripes and At the Drive-In released in the previous two years came out to critical raves and legitimate enthusiasm by the buying public. Yet when Matt LeMay's 10.0 score of Source Tags & Code

The Universal

Up until a few months ago, the place where I started and stopped for information about movies and TV shows was the Internet Movie Database . Now, I go there less and less because Wikipedia has so much more. So I wonder, what happened to the IMDB? It used to be so packed with information but it seems so on the cusp compared to what Wikipedia has. Case in point: I watched Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and three episodes of Police Squad! last night. Curious about details about both features, I hit up the IMDB first. The page devoted to Paradise Lost is scant with information beyond some reviews and some trivia. The page devoted to Police Squad! has some nice tidbits, but feels a little lacking. Hitting up Wikipedia, I found a ton of information, especially in the case of Paradise Lost . Not only is there a page devoted to the documentary itself, but an incredibly thorough page devoted to the West Memphis 3. Police Squad! 's page is also thorough and pr

X Marks the Hope Box

In my nine years of playing shows, never have I played a show quite like the one we played Saturday night at Hailey's . Opening for Tilly and the Wall and Pony Up! , we hoped this would be a fun show. As simple as it sounds in words, it was and so much more. When I pulled up at 7:50, there was already a line of about thirty people. As the rest of us loaded in, more people kept showing up and lining up. By the time we got to play, there was roughly 100 people watching us and plenty more listening outside in line. 100 people may sound like small potatoes to some, but not for us. Plus, this was a whole different crowd. Our last show in Denton was two years ago at a diner where the audience consisted of some friends of ours and the band members in the other band on the bill. Despite some missteps (a longer, makeshift intro on one song, on-the-spot transposing in another), I felt like we did a great set. I couldn't stop smiling and singing along not because of how large the crowd

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard this One Before

Merritt has the full story on her blog about this, but here's the Cliff Notes version: a friend of ours was at a mall and kept noticing a female working at a kiosk desperately trying to have people stop and talk to her. Stopping people mid-pace, the hope was to get these people to see what she was selling. The friend walked by this girl a few times as he wandered through the area a few times. After repeated pleas, he decided to have some fun with her. Responding to her question of "Can I talk to you guys a moment?", he responded by saying with a smile on his face, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." He figured since he had walked by her a few times, along with the smile on his face, she would understand that he was joking. Instead, our friend was given looks of pure aghast. He felt sorry that she didn't catch his cajoling, but I think he did something we all wish we could do. I am not a fan of the practice of breaking into a person's personal zone for the sake of selli

As Daylight Dies

Killswitch Engage has the distinction of being a band that I had never heard before this year and has become one of my all-time favorite bands. I know statements like that are ripe for tearing down by others, but that's how strongly I feel about this Massachusetts-based quintet. The band's fourth album, As Daylight Dies , is not likely to gain the kind of kudos that Mastodon's Blood Mountain received earlier this year, but it is no less an incredibly strong effort. As Daylight Dies is the first record in the band's career where the line-up is the same as its predecessor. Shifts in the drummer, guitarist and vocalist positions did not drastically the band's sound on their previous albums; they helped the band grow into a titan. But what happens when it feels like it's grown big enough that it isn't likely to drastically go anywhere? That's what I wonder when I listen to this record. The eleven songs do not detour from what KSE fans are used to hearing:

Politics Shmolitics

Yesterday, the more pleas I saw for people to go out and vote, the more uncomfortable I felt. Plenty of the blogs I hit up everyday said something along the lines of "Vote and if you don't, don't complain." Folks, this is why I find discussing politics so alienating. There are plenty of reasons why I don't discuss politics on here or in my everyday conversations. The biggest reason is because I don't have a lot of interest in politics in the first place. By what I've seen, heard and read for the last eight years, political debates are usually pissing contests. Judging by the views I've processed, it would be easy to think that we're all slowly going downhill either on the left, right or down the middle. Yet I don't think we're going totally downhill or totally uphill. Debating the direction we're going seems futile, especially when adults start screaming at each other like they're in grade school. To my ears, political debates are s

This One's For You

Yesterday's focus was on Scott Walker. Today's focus is on Barry Manilow . Yes, the man behind such hits as "Mandy," "Can't Smile Without You" and a handful of other songs you couldn't escape in the Seventies. I grew up listening to his stuff and still like a lot of it. Yet I was appalled to see a display in a bookstore last night for his latest album, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties . Here's my reasoning: A big chunk of Manilow's audience is older than me. So I've wondered why these people want to hear re-recorded versions of songs they've heard for most of their adult lives. Following up The Greatest Songs of the Fifties , Manilow goes through versions of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," "And I Love Her" and "Strangers in the Night" on this collection. Manilow doesn't drastically change the songs' arrangements here; it sounds like he's phoning this stuff in. Sure, he's serving his

Boy Child

The music of Scott Walker has finally hit me like a pile of bricks. I've had samplings of his solo stuff and his material with the Walker Brothers over the years, but I'm now fully-engaged. This has been five years in the making. Back when Ash's Free All Angels came out in 2001, I was struck by the orchestral sample used in "Candy." It was from the Walker Brothers' rendition of "Make It Easy on Yourself," a Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune. I had never heard of the Walker Brothers, so I thought this was some obscure sample they dug up. When I read the news release that Scott Walker was producing Pulp's We Love Life , I wondered what the big deal was. Who was this guy and what was so great about him? I got around to hearing some Walker Brothers while I worked at an oldies station and I liked what I heard. However, the word about Scott Walker's solo material was that it was even better. My interest was considerably raised upon reading Scott Pla

American Hardcore

After a handful of months of watching the trailer and reading reviews about it (one here and another here ), American Hardcore finally hit Dallas this weekend. After seeing it today, I'm very safe in saying that I prefer American Hardcore the film over American Hardcore: A Tribal History , the book in which it's based on. American hardcore itself has only really been talked about in small doses in books and films. Michael Azerrad delves into it quite well in Our Band Could Be Your Life , as do films like Another State of Mind and The Decline of Western Civilization , but there was an even bigger story to be told. When I read American Hardcore: A Tribal History for book research (how can you talk about post-hardcore without knowing what hardcore was?), I felt like I was reading an encyclopedia with narrow-minded/catty exposition courtesy of the author, Steven Blush. While the quotes and stories are really cool and the information is incredibly thorough, the book got very re