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Showing posts from April, 2006

Find 'em . . . eventually

There was a time when Best Buy aggressively pushed obscure artists destined for major popularity in all of their stores. With their "Find 'Em First" campaign in '99, artists like Remy Zero, Rufus Wainwright, David Garza, Kelly Willis and Mary Cutrufello were given some nice exposure. In addition to commercials that played in the store on a loop, Best Buy Radio played a couple of tracks from each artist every hour on the hour. I couldn't avoid these guys as I worked in the media department and frequently walked by the TV department. With the tagline of "You don't know now me now, but you will," I wonder how much of a help this was for these folks. I am by no means a big fan of any of the aforementioned artists, but I think it's interesting to revisit them, especially since one of them is currently featured all over a certain TV commercial. At the time of the Best Buy promotion, Remy Zero was supporting their critically-acclaimed sophomore album,

A pitchfork in the road

This morning, Large Hearted Boy posted this Washington Post article on the popular indie music publication, Pitchfork Media . Though there have been plenty of articles on the 'fork in the last few months, this one really struck a nerve with me. I have a love/hate relationship with the site, but I can't deny its impact on music listeners. I don't exactly remember when I started reading Pitchfork, but I think it was around the time I was a junior in college. I was getting more involved with my college radio station and Pitchfork was frequently brought up. At the time, I thought the site was the only major place to find record reviews and news on indie bands that I was interested in. Keep in mind, this was before there was a proliferation of MP3 blogs and similar resources. With certain reviews, I felt like the reviewers were trying to be smarter and more indie than the average indie rock fan. There was the infamous 10.0 review of Radiohead's Kid A penned by Brent D

If it's too loud, turn it down

I haven't been to many instore shows in all my years of going to shows. The first one I went to was accidental: Harvey Danger was performing at the Tower Records in Austin and my friends and I didn't even know it until we got to the store. We heard them soundcheck and play one song, but that was all we saw. We didn't dislike what we heard, but we were going some place soon and we had to leave. After that one, I saw a couple instores at Waterloo Records, but they were also by accident as I was there to shop. A few weeks ago, the Happy Bullets and the Tah-Dahs played a free instore at the last Tower Records store in Texas. This store just happens to be less than ten minutes away from my house, so I figured what the hell. This definitely was a different kind of show as there would be no cigarette smoke, no bar in the back and plenty of area to move around. The show was by no means packed, but plenty of familiar fans, friends and family gathered around the small stage set up

"Kids"

Last September I blogged about why I don't like to use the word "kid" when describing younger music fans. I still agree with my views, but I have some more to tell as I've noticed/remembered some stuff in the last few weeks. Again, I don't fault people who call them that, but I'm always looking for a word other than "kid" when describing someone who is a few years younger than me. Honestly, I don't understand how I, a 27-year-old, could call a 17-year-old a "kid." "Kid" implies that the younger person doesn't know as much as the elder, but come on, when do we really know everything? For me, I look at pictures of Eric and Amy 's daughter Hailey and Jeff and Leah's daughter Sophie Bean and I see kids. Hailey and Sophie are only a few months old and they're just beginning childhood. I don't know how their parents will react when they want to go to live shows of their own, but I bet the parents see a lot

Would you remake this?

Watching the teaser trailer for the upcoming The Omen remake, I got to thinking about another way of explaining why remakes are nine times out of ten worthless. This time my side involves something by Leonardo da Vinci (and yes, it's tied in with some book that recently went to paperback and a forthcoming film based on that book). Wouldn't it sound incredibly ridiculous to remake da Vinci's painting, Mona Lisa ? An iconic painting with a warm, but rather mysterious, aura around it, people have known this painting as a truly timeless piece of art. So, how would matters sound if some person or persons somewhere thought the painting needed to be introduced to a new audience and commissioned a remake? Take any painter (no matter what experience he/she has) and tell him/her to give this remake a modern flair. Nevermind the fact that millions of people flock to see the original painting year after year, how many people would like to see a remake and keep coming back to this r

The Joys of Spanish Television

With the small amount of TV that I actively watch, I find myself watching more Spanish television than English. The kinds of shows I watch in particular are popular American shows that have been remade for the Spanish-speaking market. What's strange is that I don't care to watch shows like Fear Factor , American Idol , Blind Date , Jerry Springer or Cheaters , but I get a kick out of their Spanish counterparts. After six years of Spanish in school, I still can't speak or understand the language at its super-fast pace. I can get the gist of what is being said, but if I find myself lost in a Spanish-speaking country, I'm in big trouble. Regardless of the language gap, I can follow along with the shows' seemingly no attempt to cover up the fact that they're presenting something really forced and contrived. I know so much English-speaking TV is also this way, but they try and make some of their content believable for the English audience. Not so for Spanish TV-at

Girlfriend Music

". . . and everyone's girlfriend knows the words by heart" -Horace Pinker, "Appreciation" --- I'm not sure where I heard the label, "girlfriend music," but I've been trying to come up with a more concrete understanding. From what I've gathered so far, girlfriend music essentially is music that the boyfriend doesn't really like but he listens to it because his girlfriend likes it. I know I hate pigeonholes, but I think it's fun to come up with some ideas about what falls into this category and what doesn't. What's interesting is how wide people's love music goes beyond gender. If I were to think of Top 40 girlfriend music, I'd probably say light rockers James Blunt, Daniel Powter, David Gray and Train are culprits. I'm talking about music that features a rather soft voice over a polished mix of guitars, piano and drums. I have nothing against artists like this (as a matter of fact, I like a few Train songs an

What Republicans Have Taught Us

I'm not a huge fan of political mudslinging, but my friend Mikey sent me this and I couldn't help but repost. This is pretty funny and right on: What Republicans have taught us . . . Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony. The United States should get out of the United Nations, but our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, butmulti-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops inspeeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation

Ten Silver Drops

Until last week, I kept mixing up Secret Machines with two different record labels: Secretly Canadian and Simple Machines . Upon hearing tracks from Secret Machines' sophomore album, Ten Silver Drops , there is no more confusion. For us Dallas folk, we may recognize the members of this band from their time in some notable '90s bands. Brothers Ben and Brandon Curtis played together in UFOFU, Ben played in Tripping Daisy and Brandon and drummer Josh Garza played in Captain Audio. Though the band relocated to New York a few years ago, they've made no attempt to hide their past. Hearing what these guys have done together of under the moniker of Secret Machines is a point of pride. The band's debut album, Now Here is Nowhere , is a pretty expansive collection of spacey rock, but I find it a tad frustrating. Songs build and build and sometimes emit tuneful melodies, but that's only sometimes. Ten Silver Drops does not have this problem as melodies really come out of

Plans

"We make plans for big times/Get bogged down, distracted" -Bloc Party, "Plans" --- I often hear the line (or a variation of it), "Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think things would turn out the way they did." Thinking about the experiences I've had in the last ten years, there is very little that I thought would happen or expected to happen. So I wonder: why do we expect life to go accordingly to our plans? A relatively new idea that I embrace everyday is there's very little I can control in my life. I can steer a lot of things, but I'm not in full control. I don't mean this in a defeatist kind of way, but matters rarely happen the way I thought they would. Regardless of what I think will or will not happen, the feeling is much different after the fact than before it. Again, what's the purpose of expecting life to curtail to our dreams? I have a theory about what we hope will happen versus what actually happens: they are r

The Real Deal

"We don't touch music anymore. People download it, preview it, and delete it." -Bob Mould, in a recent Punk Planet interview Amy wrote this up on Wednesday about the modern day version of sharing music. I agree with her views as how it is incredibly easy to find an MP3 on the Internet of some band you're interested in. While this is all convenient, as she put it best, "it used to mean something to hold that cassette tape or record or compact disc in my hands and rock out with my friends. don't get me wrong, i now feel that mp3's and mp3 players are super convenient but it's definitely lacking in the excitement department." I agree with that, but all to a certain extent. I think about the pros and the cons the Internet has given me the music fan over the years. I feel there is still a sense of surprise in finding a new band or record that I wasn't actively seeking out that really blows me away. A great recent case in point is the Secret M

Can you really take this seriously?

Despite all my grumblings about mall punk, blink-182 is still one of my favorite pop-punk bands from the late-'90s/early-'00s. Yeah, they had their goofy videos with all sorts of toilet humor, but they were pretty consistent with coming up with good tunes. After a couple of hit records, they made a rather bold move with their fifth album, blink-182. The songs on the album were a step away from songs about relationships in a high school-like mindset. Many songs have darker moods and feels while still being lively and energetic at the same time. Interestingly, the album was a hit with fans, but ultimately, it turned into the band's swan song. With drummer Travis Barker doing a variety of things (including being in an MTV "reality" show called Meet the Barkers and being featured in cell phone ads) and bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus producing records and working on a new project called Plus-44 with Barker, guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge has made the most noise post-bl

An Old Fangled and Misbegotten Genre

I believe my first introduction to mall punk was in August of 2000. Nevermind Alvin and the Chipmunks covering new wave songs in the '80s and nevermind the mainstream's exposure to Green Day and the Offspring in the mid-'90s, I'm talking a youth culture that was raised with poppy punk rock rooted in the '90s than the '70s and '80s. This culture grew up knowing the way to look "punk rock" was to go to Gadzooks or Hot Topic in the mall (hence the title) and buy some loose clothes (including baggy pants and shirt along with the option of a baseball cap intended to be worn backwards). My introduction came from a band called A New Found Glory . At the time, I was a street-team member for Vagrant Records and had to show up early to certain shows in order to pass out whatever promotional material I had. face to face, one of my all-time favorites, was playing at Deep Ellum Live on a tour sponsored by Napster, and I was so thrilled to see them play again.

. . . but gravity always wins

I think it's hard to remember a time when Radiohead wasn't a groundbreaking band. Well, upon viewing the (relatively) recently released DVD of a live set from May 1994, a lot of memories and thoughts came rolling in. For a brief moment, forget about OK Computer , the career-defining album the band released in 1997. Back in '93 and '94, they could have very well been perceived as a grunge knockoff from the same school that Bush came from. They had an enormous-selling single called "Creep," a song that seemed to bottle all of the things perceived as stereotypical grunge. With its mopey, self-deprecating lyrics and soft to blaring dynamics along with an accompanying video featuring a singer with bleach-blonde hair looking like he's asleep at the microphone, Radiohead seemed to fit perfectly with the times. Yet the band was more than just their grungey contemporaries: they put out a stellar second album that put them in another place way far away from anyo

Critics at their worst . . .

"Critics at their worst could never criticize the way that you do" -Aimee Mann, "Nothing is Good Enough" --- As I finished up another round of reviews for Punk Planet last night, some thoughts on criticism in general came to mind. I think about how I used to respond to it and how I respond to it now, plus the kind of feedback one gets when stating it. In the case of the records I receive for review for PP , sometimes I get truly awful stuff and sometimes it's really incredible stuff, but most of the time it's so-so/mediocre. I hate using the word 'meh,' but I think it definitely can be used in this case. Interestingly, I think the mediocre stuff inspires me to think a little bit harder about what I want to say. But, there's a trap that used to bug the crap out of me years ago: the mentality of a critic where nothing is ever good enough. Well, after reviewing records for a few years, I can now see where that sentiment comes from, but I don&#

Comicology

For half of college and a couple of years after it, I was a big fan of comic books. I have to thank writers like Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis for writing stuff that made me really interested in comics again. The inclusion of comic books in Smith's films (especially Mallrats and Chasing Amy ), along with his runs on Daredevil and Green Arrow , got me fully into something I had briefly dabbled in when I was younger. Plus, Bendis' Powers was one of the best comic series I had ever read. So, why don't I read comics on a regular basis anymore? From time to time, I read trade paperbacks or graphic novels (a full storyline in one binding). Sure, it's not the same as reading a new issue each month, but the story is the most important part of the reading experience for me. As I've said before, I'm such a slow reader, so these benefit me better. Then there is the whole aspect of collecting comics. Since the first issue in a series is usually worth something

Our Generation's Packaged Nostalgia - Touring Edition

Remember that Diet Dr. Pepper commercial where there is a group of Village People lookalikes performing under the name, the Retirement Village People? Well, if you don't, the point was to show that most revised versions of something popular are not the same as the real deal. Apparently the Dr. Pepper company thought their diet version was as good as the regular version, but I'm still not sold on any kind of diet cola. Nevertheless, a really interesting subject to ponder is this: when should a band call it a day? After years of seeing oldies acts come through town, it doesn't surprise me that a number of acts that I grew up with are doing the same thing. A most recent and notable example is a tour featuring the "New" Cars and Blondie. These tours are nowhere near the caliber of reunion tours from indie acts like the Pixies, Mission of Burma and Dinosaur Jr. These kinds of tours are not for the hardcore fan. You're gonna hear the songs that you hear on the radi

I Don't Wanna Grow Up

"When I see my parents fight/I don't wanna grow up" -Tom Waits, "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" "I want to be stereotyped/I want to be classified" -Descendents, "Suburban Home" "Changes somehow frighten me/but still I have to smile" -John Denver, "Poems, Prayers and Promises" --- Props to Eric and Jason Simon for pointing the way to this article that inspired today's second post. Last weekend, a certain all-"news" TV channel was doing a story on "grups" (aka, people that still act young well into their adult years). Sending a reporter out on a busy street, stopping whoever looked like a grup/indie yuppie and through the magic of editing, a "point" was made: there are people actually like this out there. Yes, twenty/thirtysomethings are still listening to indie/hipster music and acting little younger than their age shows. I was very annoyed by this story and quickly turned off th

iTunes shuffle (4.14.06)

Here's another iTunes' shuffle for this week: "Ode to Manheim Steamroller" by Reggie & the Full Effect I think my father has every Manheim Steamroller Christmas CD, but I don't think he has any of their non-holiday releases. The music was fun to hear when I was young, but I find much less favor with them now. I think I've heard their version of "Joy to the World" enough times in my life, but it's not about to be removed from retail outlets' holiday music rotation. Oh well, but this Reggie track is a lot of fun. "Both Sides Now" by Judy Collins A favorite of mine growing up. Joni Mitchell wrote it, but Ms. Collins hit this version on the head. The keyboard hook is pure candy and it's never lost any flavor with me. It's one of those songs that means more than just the sum of its parts as I age. I've always thought the lyrics are about seeing life from both sides of a coin and realizing that you're just on the t

Voices Carry

I constantly hear different voices in my head. Regardless of other people's voices I hear, there is an ongoing point/counterpoint debate that is a part of my inner-dialogue. On one side is a voice expressing something I'd like to do, but that is usually countered by a voice that doesn't want me to do it. It's really tough to do anything when there is a fear that something bad will happen as a result. Well, I'm still working on this, but there are times that I just need to acknowledge the devil's advocate and just go for it. What is this "it" I'm referring to? I think it's called life . Early on with writing Post , I came upon the thought that the only person holding me back from writing a book was myself. Nevermind the workload, the physicaly/mental cost, or any possible negative effects, if the tales of Jawbreaker, Braid and the Promise Ring remained at bay as bedtime stories for my grandchildren, I felt that I would have accomplished someth

Looking for the Heart of [Sunday] Night

Pearl Jam has been on my mind lately. Regardless of the fact that they have a new album coming out soon, their name and music have come back into my life. It's not like I swore off listening to them forever, but I just had not actively listened to their music in years. Just like Nirvana, I rarely listen to grunge these days. I do have fond memories of listening to them in middle and high school and upon revisiting them, I think they hold up fine. How did I come back to these guys? Sunny Day Real Estate, of all bands. Currently, I'm doing some extensive research on the Seattle grunge scene as a backdrop for what Sunny Day Real Estate was not directly tied to. While SDRE was on Sub Pop during the peak of the genre, that's where the comparison ends, until Dave Grohl steps into the picture. When Sunny Day first called it quits, drummer William Goldsmith and bassist Nate Mendel joined Grohl's new band, Foo Fighters. But what's the connection to Pearl Jam? A little radi

A complete idiot's guide

Check out my "Complete Idiot's Guide" to Ben Folds Five and Ben Folds' solo material up on Jeff's blog today. Grab the MP3s while you can; I don't know how long they are kept up there (maybe a week). Though I don't have one favorite band of all time, Ben Folds Five is one of my all-time favorites. To sorta-quote a line from a certain concert from their's: If you've heard these guys before, then you're a fan. If you haven't, you're about to be.

Double Wide

As another Deep Ellum venue closes , the area feels more and more like a ghost town to me. The thought that I was at the Double Wide merely two weekends ago for the Undeniable Records show is still fresh in my mind. Maybe I'm going through the "disbelief" phase of grief since this closing came as a shock. I saw a number of shows at the Double Wide in the last few years and by pure coincidence, some of the best ones were recent. The Numbers Twist blew my head off, as did [DARYL], the Golden Falcons and Saboteur, for various reasons. The sound was always incredible; I could actually hear things like shakers and backing vocals. On top of that, the layout of the whole place was fantastic: if you just wanted to sit and drink, you could go inside to the bar or outside on the patio. If you wanted to see the bands playing, you went into a separate room connected to the patio. The layout was ideal for a lot of people and unlike a certain now-closed venue nearby, they had really