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Showing posts from January, 2006

In a Future Age

Thanks to David at Largeheartedboy for pointing the way to this article by Michael Patrick Brady on Pop Matters. Brady's topic is a topic I can relate to: which artists/bands will the children of the '80s and '90s claim as all-time greats when they reach their 30s and 40s? It's a something to ponder, but not something to be fearful of. Every once in a while, publications like NME and Rolling Stone run lists of the "greatest artists of all time." On these lists are plenty of artists that Baby Boomers loved that still hold up today, but there are even more that just elude generations after them. So, what's gonna happen when the boomers aren't the desired demographic for most advertisers? "When the boomers are no longer the economically and culturally dominant generation, they won't be running the magazines nor will they be buying them," Brady wrote in his article. "And the new list readers aren't going to spend their inheritan

Where's the best buy?

Seeing Frank's discussion today on Best Buy's sales tactics that lure people away from buying records at indie stores reminds of me of my own personal experience on the matter. As someone who worked for Best Buy off and on for three years and has friends that own a small indie store in Carrollton, I thought I'd chime in on the discussion. In the early '90s, the options I had with buying CDs were incredibly limited. I was living in Kingwood, a suburb 30 miles north of Houston, and the closest record stores were Sound Warehouse, Camelot and Sam Goody in the mall, and a tiny indie store called Sound Disc. I forget how much CDs were at these places, but I believe they were usually $15. In these pre-Internet days, this was variety. Sometime at the end of middle school and the beginning of high school, I heard about this place called Best Buy that sold CDs at cheap prices. This sounded very tempting and I ventured out to see this place. Turns out, Best Buy was super advanc

"Family-friendly"

It has come to my attention that a certain TV channel positions itself as a "family" channel while it often shows theatrical PG-13 movies in its regular line-up. Now I'm not saying this as a moral crusader for "family values," but did I miss a shift in what's considered "family-friendly" and what's not? When I last checked, G meant the film was OK for all ages to see, PG was OK for children under 13 and PG-13 was OK for children 13-years-old and up. Sure, age is not the 100% connection to maturity level, but it's a decent ballpark estimate for growing children. So what does it mean when something that could be construed as "family-friendly" for families with young (read: 13 and under) children has content that isn't really appropriate for them? I remember when my mother had some concern about my older sister seeing a movie rated PG-13 called Ferris Bueller's Day Off . My mom wasn't throwing a big stink about it; it w

Chronology is King

I really like "greatest hits," singles collections and other sorts of compilations on CD. However, I'm not too hot on placing the songs on them out of chronological order. Here's the story: Tom Waits' Used Songs collects 16 choice cuts from his career between 1973 and 1980. Waits started out with some rather safe singer-songwriter material, like "Ol' '55" and "(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night." Then he started moving towards the material that he is more known for: from powerful ballads to avant garde-jazzy-blues. Hearing this period be jumbled up on CD is a tad frustrating for me. Why? I like to hear the progression of an artist, album by album, not just a random mixture of songs. In the case of Waits, hearing his voice on a song like "(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night" (which sounds more like a Bruce Springsteen knock-off) be followed by "Muriel" (which showcases Waits' trademark croak) doesn

Diseases of the Tongue

After a year and a half of not playing shows, our band played at the Cavern last night. The night went by very quickly and I'm still trying to collect my thoughts. To be honest, I felt we had a great set with no major slip-ups. Sure, there were some bum notes, forgotten lyrics and dropped beats, but the point was we came out strong and played well. This kind of satisfaction in a show like this has been a long time coming. When I was very young, I thought it was cool to be up on a stage playing for adoring fans. When I actually started playing instruments like the drums and guitar, I realized that I enjoyed playing more than anything else that came with it. Sure, it's nice to play to a large and responsive crowd, but I've always chosen to focus on the people up on stage with me and how we play off each other. I've played to two people and I've played to 200 people and it's always been about the chemistry between me and my bandmates. What's so strange abou

First Book Update of 2006

It's been a while since I've chimed in on the status of Post , so here's the latest: -I've begun working on the Hot Water Music chapter. Like all the other chapters so far, each one started out from a loose outline of facts, paragraphs and quotes. At this stage, the chapter is too rough to tell how it's going to end up, but just like the other bands/labels I'm featuring, I want to pay tribute to them the best way that I can. -The Jimmy Eat World chapter is currently stalled. I have all the info that I want to finish the chapter, but I keep getting sidetracked. I think a part of this is trying to explain how a younger generation latched onto a commercialized version of emo/post-hardcore and geek chic. I could be all bitter about the subject, but putting too much anger into writing distracts the overall message. Deep down, I do feel there are positive aspects to this kind of mainstream embrace, but also feel there are major downsides to it. There is no white wit

Expectations

For the longest time, I could never really understand criticism. I always thought the one dishing it out considered him/herself free of mistakes (aka, perfect). Well, knowing what I know and going through what I've gone through, I've realized that no human is free of mistakes. As a matter of fact, I have a phrase that I like to say: Shit happens and those that don't believe it happens are full of shit. I don't mean to be tacky or profane, but come on, why do people put others through the ringer thinking they are fully realized and free of fault? Maybe deep down these people do know that, but they put on a mask to hide this. I think we can be spared of a lot of grief if people were a little more honest with themselves. I've been fussed at for years by all kinds of people. Shame, regret and guilt were some of the usual feelings I felt whenever this would happen. Fearing I would never be forgiven for my "careless" mistakes, I would close off more and mor

The Numbers Twist

Last Friday night was spent watching Bram Stoker's Dracula , but Saturday night was a much better experience. I saw The Numbers Twist play with El Gato and [daryl] at the Doublewide. The Numbers Twist consists of three members of Red Animal War (Justin, Matt and Brian) with two drummers (Todd from Doosu/Flickerstick and Tony from Tendril). As a longtime fan of Red Animal War, I was very impressed. I'm starting to see two drummers in groups of all sorts of styles: from The Go! Team to . . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead to the Happy Bullets (almost always when they play a show with The Tah-Dahs). Sometimes having two drummers at once sounds like a sloppy mess, but in the case of The Numbers Twist, they made for a powerful force that was felt . Rather than playing the exact same things together, Todd and Tony gave each other space. If one was hitting the hi-hat, the other was hitting something else (from a rim to ride cymbal). They didn't step over each others

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Until last Friday, I hadn't seen a really bad movie in years. Before, The Beach and the original When a Stranger Calls were probably the worst movies I'd ever seen. Now I can add Bram Stoker's Dracula to that list. I remember the trailers for the movie when it came out in 1992. The movie looked cool, but I wasn't completely drawn to see it. I had read part of the book but never finished it. Fast forward to a few weeks ago: I'm reading Innocent When You Dream , the Tom Waits reader that came out last year, and I see that the great Mr. Waits had a role in this flick. I felt compelled to see another flick with Mr. Waits as I had recently seen Short Cuts and saw Down By Law a little more than a year ago. He was good in both flicks so I felt inclined to see if he was good in Bram Stoker's Dracula too. Well, he's probably the only thing worth watching in this train wreck of a movie. Waits plays Renfield, a once sane man now locked up in an insane asylum be

Tattoo You

I've never really felt compelled to get a tattoo. I don't believe there is one design, phrase, name or graphic that I would like to have on my body for the rest of my life. I like looking at tattoos, but they aren't for my body. Besides the permanent factor, another major factor that shields me away from getting one is the pain that one endures during the procedure. No matter where it's done on the body and no matter how small it is, it hurts . I would rather suffer through such pain from surgery, but surgery is done to help something heal, not to decorate. In the last few months, I've seen tats over a place on the body that makes think of even more pain than one placed on a traditional spot: the throat. The first guy I saw with a throat tat was Jacob Bannon, vocalist for Converge (pic here ). Nevermind all the tats he has below his neck (he has plenty), but just one above it makes me squirm. It's hard for me to look him in the eyes with this. Now I'm not

Help the Aged

Reading through the most recent issue of Alternative Press , I came across a quote in a review that really struck me: Fire, Blood, Water 's tracks burst with the kind of fuzzbombs and jangly riffs found on your parents' old Replacements and R.E.M. records, but feel as fresh and innovative as the latest iPod jam. Your parents' old Replacements and R.E.M. records ? I couldn't believe it at first, but then it sunk in: those who grooved to Let It Be and Murmur when they first came out are old enough to have teenagers. I'm curious what kinds of conversations parents like these have with their kids about music. But, there is a stumbling block that often rears its head. For some reason, a lot of children resist a lot of things that their parents were into when they were their age. What is newer/closer in age to younger people is often more appealing than something older. This definitely applies to music. There are exceptions (like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who,

The first record

I often hear this question asked between music fans: what was your first album? For me, I can't give a straight answer because there are various categories (and formats) involved. Here are some of them: a.) Vinyl album that was given to me Early on (as in, five or six years old), I had a couple of Alvin & the Chipmunks records where they covered such classics as "Leader of the Pack" and "Jessie's Girl." At the same time, I had a record from Showbiz Pizza (a place very similar to Chuck E. Cheese) featuring music that the house animatronic band played. b.) Vinyl album that I bought for myself Pet Shop Boys, Actually . Hearing "It's a Sin" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This" on the radio and on MTV really grabbed me to get this. This is the only 12" vinyl I've ever bought. c.) Cassette tape that was given to me Starship, No Protection . I got this when I was in 3rd grade because our teacher allowed us to play one ta

Jingle jangles

For quite a while, I thought having one's music in commercials seemed like a good thing. A VW commercial introduced me to a Nick Drake song. An AT&T commercial gave Kings of Convenience a second chance for me (I originally blew them off as a Belle & Sebastian knock-off). After reading an interview with Tom Waits in The Onion AV Club from 2002, I wonder about the real pros of having your music be used in commercials. Here's a snippet that really clicks with me: O : I still can't hear "Good Vibrations" without thinking of Sunkist. TW : Oh, wow, yeah. That's exactly what they want. They want to plug your head into that and change the circuitry. While you're dreaming about your connection with that song, why don't you think about soda or candy or something? It's too bad, but it's the way of the world. They love to get their meat-hooks in you. Mr. Waits has a great point. Combine a song (popular or not) with a commercial and chances are

Either/Or . . . Or?

From time to time, Jason and I find ourselves saying this quote about bands/artists: "You either love 'em or you hate 'em." The deal is, when I think about it, I often find myself liking a band or artist, but not really loving them nor hating them. Some aspects I love more than others, but more often than not, it's a general enjoyment. A great case in point: Morrissey. I enjoy his stuff with the Smiths but I often find myself listening to his solo material more. I've always enjoyed his voice and his lyrics, but I don't worship him. There are people that I know that can't stand the man (whether it's his singing voice, his lyrics, his image or what he says in interviews), but then I know people that adore him. There is a thought that there is no middle ground, but there is, whether we acknowledge it or not. You can make the same assessment about Tom Waits. Back before I knew he wrote gorgeous ballads, I had a pretty firm repulsion with his junkyar

Live documentation

Bloc Party releases their first DVD , God Bless Bloc Party , today in stores. As much as I am a fan of this band, I'm holding off on picking this up for the moment. Why? Live releases (whether they're on CD or DVD or both) are getting out of hand these days. The way things used to be was that a concert on vinyl, CD or video showcased an artist's material over the span of a few albums. You could hear and see the development of the artist with the variety of songs that are played. The concerts were long, thus giving more bang for the buck. Now, more and more young bands are putting out DVDs after only one record. The result: there is a dearth of material to choose from. Essentially, it's the first album played live without much variation from what is already on tape. A cover, a b-side and/or a new song often fill out the setlist, but the bulk is from the first album. I don't know about you, but I think this is a rip-off. It seems like the sights of a long career in

MP3 blog gripes

I've stated on this blog before about how much I enjoy MP3 blogs. They're the real deal; the people writing about bands/records want to write about them and share them with others. I still enjoy reading these sites, but I have some reservations with what I often see. Here's some background info: I was involved with my college radio station for about four years. Lots of incredible, great, OK, bad and terrible records passed through the station the whole time I was there. I was introduced to a number of bands that I still think highly of today (ie, Idlewild, Hot Water Music, Ryan Adams, Weakerthans, Hey Mercedes, Doves and others) and a ton of terrible bands/records that I have forgotten about. It was a true hunt for the good stuff and I was often rewarded. The problem with that hunt was trying to stay on top of things. Once some record was en vogue with a certain crowd, there was a desire to find something else to praise. So much time was spent listening to records that i

"Worst Year Ever"

Rolling Stone has its year-end wrap-up in their latest issue. The title and subheading say it all: Music Biz Laments "Worst Year Ever" - Labels' woes continue as album sales drop seven percent, while digital single sales surge. Here are the stats: album sales are down 7.2 percent while digital downloads are up 150 percent. Translation for the anxiety-stricken: PANIC! Translation for the calm: quit fighting and adapt if you haven't already. On the next page, a separate article brings up an interesting issue: sales from single digital downloads from services like iTunes do not bring in the kind of money that albums do. That's a big "uh oh," but ultimately I have very little sympathy to the major recording industry's woes. This is like seeing a gambler lose a good chunk of change by putting too much blind faith into certain "sure-fire" things. You can be as scientific as you want with what works and what doesn't, but nothing is certa

Who I am and who I am not

As long as I have lived in the DFW area, I've been asked if I'm related to the Grubbs family that owns a number of car dealerships in town. Well, I'm not. My uncle traced the whole family tree and found out that we're not related to them. End of story, right? Well, it turns out the owner of Grubbs Nissan in Bedford is named Eric Grubbs. Just as a reminder, that's not me. When I first moved to Fort Worth, I received a rather panicked phone call late one night. The conversation went a little something like this: MAN: Mr. Grubbs? Eric Grubbs? ME: Yes? MAN: Are you related the Grubbs family dealerships? ME: No, that's a different fam- MAN: Well, we've got a situation going on out here where we have some people locked out on the lot. Can you come on down- ME: I am not related to those Grubbs. That's a different Grubbs. MAN: Oh, sorry! A few years later, KRLD ran a show on Saturdays called The Auto Show. It was sponsored by Grubbs Infinity and its c

Return the Gift

Have you ever played in a band that was compared to another band that you had never really heard before? I wouldn't say that has happened to me, but after listening to Bloc Party's Silent Alarm for most of 2005 and recently listening to Gang of Four's Entertainment! and Return the Gift , I wonder about other bands. In the case of Bloc Party, the young band's music is often compared to the music of the legendary post-punk band, Gang of Four. Members of Bloc Party have said many times before that they weren't really influenced by GoF or much of any post-punk circa '79-'81. Since these guys are my age, I can understand not knowing much about the genre. Sure, I've been a fan of Mission of Burma for years and listened to Gang of Four from time to time, but that was pretty much the extent of it. If I started a band that I thought was different and unique by adding a dancier feel to poppy post-hardcore, would I be considered a Gang of Four knock-off too? Th

TV on DVD

As much as I am a fan of Lost , I was skeptical about owning its first season on DVD. Why? Owning seasons of TV shows on DVD are not the same as owning films on DVD. Of course that's a big "duh!", but in the case of a show like Lost , owning the first season on DVD is crucial in understanding the arc of the series so far. There is an obscene amount of TV shows on DVD these days. From popular favorites to cult classics to shows that only lasted half a season, it's hard to find a show that's not on DVD. However, the big question about owning entire seasons on DVD: will you really watch these episodes over and over again? In the case of Lost:Season 1 , seeing the development of the characters and the island's mysteries are worth watching over and over again. There are so many things that are laid out in every episode that it's easy to get confused. For the ones paying close attention, there are plenty of payoffs abound because you often pick up on something

The problem with being "Single?"

Driving around town for the last few months, I've seen a few signs (from billboards to tiny plastic cards sticking out of the ground) that carry the advertisement of "Single?" with the name of a website listed below it. Now I may be taking this wrong way, but I get the feeling this kind of advertising is no different than saying "Overweight?" or "Depressed?" The message that I get is that this single word is a major problem in someone's life and it needs to be fixed. Well, who said this stuff (especially being single) was really bad? Being overweight and/or depressed are not traditionally good for one's health, but I don't think of being single as one. As I've learned the hard way, things sell a little better when the means to take care of these "problems" sound cheap and easy to do. There's nothing like imagining in black and white in order to crush one's expectations. I've been single for a number of years and

What's the real prize?

A few Thanksgivings ago, I found myself bored out of my mind at my parents' house. I didn't bring anything down to read, so I watched a lot of TV, moreover, MTV. On one particular day was a marathon of Making the Band , a "reality" show which followed the development of a boy band called O-Town. Since I couldn't find anything else on TV, I decided to give a few episodes a try. To be blunt, this show was as funny as This is Spinal Tap , but the sad thing was, it wasn't made up. If O-Town doesn't ring a bell, they briefly caught some waves as the boy band tidal wave between '98-'00 was fading away. They were rather embarrassing with their faux-pop/R&B and super-contrived, watered-down image (the same formula that sold millions of records for other groups) and they disappeared after the release of their second album. O-Town was a little too late for Backstreet Boys-like notoriety, but they did manage to have a couple of high-charting singles and

Hardly Clerkin'

Here's a Monday treat: the Clerks 2 teaser trailer can be found here . This is a teaser; as in, barely anything is revealed about the plot other than Randal and Dante are now working at Mooby's. Familiar View Askew faces (Ethan Suplee, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck) have cameos alongside the main regulars from Clerks but with very little dialog. At least it's better than that silly Hannibal trailer a few years ago (whose sole film frame was a recycled shot from The Silence of the Lambs ). I have to be honest: there is quite a deal of skepticism on my end for this movie. I still enjoy Clerks , the Clerks cartoon and the "Flying Car" skit that appeared on The Tonight Show . However, the thought of devoting a whole other feature to Dante, Randal and Jay and Silent Bob feels like a stretch. Wasn't everything said at the end of the first Clerks ? There was hope for these guys to turn their lives around and the ending was very open-ended. Having a sequel quashes the o

Where do you put all the rock music?

Remember when a number of rock radio stations (as in, hard rock to metal to modern rock) were dropping like flies all over the country? It wasn't that long ago and it seems like the sackings have tapered off for the time being. As of late, I've noticed a trend with a lot of songs that were mainstays in the format: they are getting a lot of play on talk radio. These days, I hear songs by Pantera, Guns N' Roses and Van Halen used as theme music for a number of talk shows. It doesn't matter if it's a liberal or conservative show; I hear them on both. I find the usage rather cool, but I'm a little confused: why hard rock over other kinds of music, like dance and pop rock? Is the intent to grab the listener's ears? Maybe it is, but why do so many shows use this kind of music? Hear me out: I still dig this music even though I listened to it much more when I was in middle and high school. Hearing "Mouth for War" again reminds me of the good ol' day

Friday Night Lights

Just like Frank at Chrome Waves did , I decided to watch Friday Night Lights especially to hear Explosions in the Sky's score. As a fan of EitS, I found their "from total silence to total violence" music perfect for this story based on the 1988 Odessa-Permian Panthers football team. As someone who went to many Texas high school football games in middle school and high school, I was already familiar with the world that FNL is set in. In Texas, high school football is a big deal. In a lot of cases, the stadium is a social epicenter for the town. The players, the coaches and the team represent the hope of the community and a lot of faith is sunk into them. Friday Night Lights shows a small town's intense obsession with the sport (local businesses close down for games, for example) and takes a rather neutral look at it. The town expects perfection with a winning season and a state championship, thus raising the pressure level to a rather unrealistic view. While the t

Further Seems Forever: 1999-2006

Punknews.org has the news . It's sad to see yet another great band in the post-hardcore vein break up. Recent others include Bear vs. Shark, Q and Not U, Pedro the Lion and Troubled Hubble. This is another bummer in a series of bummer band break-ups. Further Seems Forever may always be thought of as the band that Chris Carrabba left to do Dashboard Confessional full-time, but they did great stuff after Carrabba left. 2004's Hide Nothing was a short, but memorable record with their third lead vocalist (and former Sense Field frontman) Jon Bunch. I was fortunate to see the Hide Nothing line-up twice in 2004 and was very impressed by both shows. This news doesn't come as a shock since the band announced they were on hiatus a few months ago. Hearing about the end of the band makes me want to dig out some of their older material before they signed with Tooth & Nail. They had a fantastic track on Deep Elm's Emo Diaries along with a handful of great songs on a split E

The Sporting Life

Because of the Rose Bowl game last night , I once again bring up the relationship between sports teams and its fans. Not in any way to take the piss out of UT's win last night (it was a thriller), but I'm still in the dark with how spectators feel they are a part of a team. There is no 'I' in 'team' and I feel there is no 'we' in 'team' when it comes to fans and teams. All I can do is watch, observe and react to a game. I don't think I'm a part of the team I'm cheering/rooting for no matter where I am (whether in the stands, at home or out at a place with a big screen TV). Like it was brought up in the MTV.com article I posted the last time I talked about this, do you hear Peter Jackson fans talk like this: "Hey, have you seen our latest movie, King Kong ?" Sports are exciting to watch and they are big business, especially in the case of college and professional levels. No matter what PR nightmare a sports team or league

I Love the 00s

Over the past few weekends, I've caught bits of VH1's I Love the 70s , I Love the 80s and I Love the 90s . If you've seen these shows, you know the format: take some iconic trend or item that was popular in the day and have actors, comedians and musicians discuss them. The material is rather sarcastic, deadpan and often funny. Not every little thing is raked across the coals, but quite a bit of it is subject to witty/attempting-to-be-witty banter. Seeing these shows and listening to what people my age and younger talk about, I wonder: when did pop culture become such a big joke? Maybe pop culture has always been seen as a big joke, but this kind of looking back is relatively new to my eyes. Maybe Seth McFarlane's Family Guy was really ahead of its time back in its few first seasons (talking about the A&E Biography on the other guy in Wham! to talking about Tom Hanks' comedic streak) and maybe ABC's Clerks cartoon was even more ahead of its time (from ta

The Life Pursuit

I've been digging Belle and Sebastian 's sixth proper LP, The Life Pursuit , quite a lot lately. I don't know how they do it, but they keep putting out really good records. A much more electric and keyboard-heavy record than before, I can't help but compare a number of songs to 70s glam rock and Steely Dan. For a band that used to remind me of the energy of Stereolab's faster material, I think it's amazing that B&S can still hold it together over the years. Not every band is this lucky. A pundit's opinion of B&S is that the only B&S record you need to have is If You're Feeling Sinister . While I would not argue that the record is their best from start to finish, they have so many good songs on their other records that warrant listening too. I know a lot of their songs sound alike, but they're different enough for me to enjoy them as their own. It's kind of like the Ramones' back catalog: you're not going to find much variatio

Listening

I often wonder why people's opinions on music get tangled up because of perception. We're not blind; we judge the whole package (the music, the image, the coverage in the press, what critics say, etc.). But why do we discount the value of music because of things that have nothing to do with the listening of it? I'd like to say that I judge every artist based on the music, but I'm guilty of this kind of scoffing too. For example, I have never enjoyed Britney Spears' music. What I've heard is trashy, beat-intensive R&B with faux-sexy vocals. Other than the outro to her song "Lucky" owing some melodic similarities to Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and the chorus to "Oops! I Did It Again" reminding me of Barbra Streisand's "The Woman in Love," I have not made a connection to her music. Maybe because of the fact that I like the songs I compared to her songs is why I get some sort of feeling. With what I perceiv