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Showing posts from May, 2006

Save Heebie-Jeebies

Despite my annoyance with errors and misspellings, I, like everyone else, am prone to these mistakes. No matter how many times I go over something, chances are good that I'll find a typo or a missing word later. In the case of band biographies, matters of truth are always twisted around. However, whenever I come across an article that is so wrong, I'm reminded of why I write in the first place. A few weeks ago, Kyle forwarded me an article that Scott over at AP found here . This write-up on Lifetime is mostly correct, except for one huge glaring error: New Jersey had yet another music arrangement called Hellfest in 2005. Lifetime was asked to reunite and play for a charity event for the save heebie-jeebies foundation. Heebie-Jeebies had been a club that Dave and the band mates grew up playing, so naturally they agreed and were feeling confident about the whole ordeal. Heebie-Jeebies? It's one thing to mistake New York's legendary bar CBGB's as See-Bee-Gee-Bees

Book update 5.30.06

Things are relatively active on the book writing front. The research continues as some matters need more coverage (ie, straight edge and the Seattle music scene), so editing is still a ways away. I'm currently digging through all my stuff for the Hot Water Music chapter. With their recent break-up , this definitely changes some things. I don't mean this in a bad way, but the past tense will be used more than the present. A handful of interviews still need to be done. Sometimes tracking people down and getting them on the phone is a major task in itself. People forget to call you back, go on tour, etc. This is par for the course, but I gotta remember, when the interview happens, the result usually quashes all headaches leading up to it. Is there a release date for Post ? Nope. I'd love to have this done by the end of the year and that may very well happen. How this will translate into print form is a bit foggy for the time being. Nick and I aren't squarely focused on

A Proper Rifle Assembly

Almost every time I drive on I-30 through the Fair Park area, I see signs for the Starplex. The deal is, the Starplex was renamed the Smirnoff Music Centre a few years ago. So, why are the Starplex signs still up? I don't know. I've only been to the place once, but I believe Starplex signs are still up all the way to the venue. Despite putting up all sorts of new highway signs for better visibility in the last year, the old brown Starplex signs remain. In my time as a Dallas resident, I have never ventured out to the place. Big acts, from Rascal Flatts to Def Leppard, play there and I have no desire to go out to see acts like this. The venue itself is open air with a grassy lawn area in the back, thus making it a full blown shed. Though I've only been there once in my life, I remember the Smirnoff as being almost exactly like the Woodlands Pavilion in Houston (a place I went to many times in high school and college). Some of the most memorable ones I saw at the Pavilion

Pulp

Pulp has been on mind as of late. As the name of Bukowski 's final novel before he died, the name of a great Sheffield band , part of the name of a movie from '94 and other things, pulp has a good name except in the world of orange juice. When I was younger, I didn't like pulp in my OJ. The strands hampered the taste of squeezed oranges, so I preferred pulp-free orange juice. I don't know how long the major companies (Tropicana and Minute Maid) have produced pulp-free/lite-pulp, but it's nice to have choice. At this point in my life, I don't mind the pulp. I still don't like seeds in watermelons or seeds in lemons because they're hard to chew. With pulp, it's not hard to chew and I don't mind them in my drink. In addition to milk and water, OJ is something I drink as a standalone drink. Having some in the morning is especially a nice little boost, plus it's healthy. I credit Sir Douglas for recommending OJ to me because of my periodic so

Like You Were Never There

Austin's Moonlight Towers played at the Barley House last night and something struck me right as I walked in the door. Thinking I would find a lightly packed place filled with SMU students, I found a packed house watching the Dallas Mavericks game. By the time that Moonlight Towers played at 10:30, the game was done and a large number of people left the place or just went outside to hang out on the patio. During the band's hour plus set, the audience consisted of me, members of Kissinger and some people still hanging around the bar. Seeing the place clear out like this, years of going to bars to see bands play gave me a moment of clarity. I don't go out to bars unless I'm in the company of friends and/or I'm seeing a band play. I don't drink that much in the first place, so I need something to occupy my time. I go out for the music and if I were to run into friends at the place, that's even better. In a situation like last night, I was there strictly to

Hold Your Fire

Despite what rock historians say about how grunge cleared all of the decks of popular rock music in 1992, hair metal didn't completely vanish during that time. I can think of at least three notable and wildly popular songs from this era with bands that had big hair, big choruses, big guitar solos and big drums. The way I think about bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, they were the policemen that showed up to the hair metal party and pulled the plug. There were still a few stragglers rockin' out, but by the time of Beavis and Butt-head , hair metal had turned into a popular joke. First of all, there's Saigon Kick 's "Love is On the Way." Probably the easiest way to have a crossover hit in any time period is by doing a ballad. This worked for a number of hair bands (from Warrant's "Heaven" to Extreme's "More Than Words" to even Guns N' Roses' "Patience") and this worked in 1992 for Saigon Kick's "Love is On

Producing

Producer Gil Norton has often come up recently in a variety of places. First, there are lengthy interviews with the man in Fool the World:The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies as he produced the Pixies' three albums for Elektra. Then, he's the one that produced some of my favorite tracks by Feeder (especially ones from their fourth album, Comfort in Sound ). Plus, he produced probably the best Counting Crows record to date, Recovering the Satellites (an album I'm just now beginning to understand its brilliance). Lastly, he produced How We Operate , the fantastic new record by Gomez . So, what's the scoop on this guy? Norton's name was first brought to my attention back when I listened to Modern Rock Live , a syndicated radio show that aired on Sunday nights. One particular show that stood out for me was when the Foo Fighters were on. They were promoting their new record at the time ( The Colour and the Shape ) and Norton's name was brought up since he p

Southland Tales

If you didn't know what writer/director Richard Kelly has been up to since his '01 cult hit Donnie Darko , well, he has a new movie coming out this year: Southland Tales . Despite all my jaded feelings about newer films (and the obstacles in seeing them in a theater) in the last couple of years, this is actually a film I'd like to see when it gets a theatrical release. Details on what Southland Tales is about have been abstract until recently. Interviews with its stars and Kelly have talked about certain things that happen, but only recent reviews have talked about key plot points. By going off of what I've read, this film is definitely not for everybody. A multi-character film with a backdrop of futuristic sci-fi, black comedy and social commentary is not guaranteed box office gold. I seriously doubt the film will play well for a mainstream audience, but neither did Donnie Darko when it was released into theaters. If I'm interpreting what I've read correc

KISS will be my instrument!

I really don't know why I want to see this film in its entirety, but I'm curious if anybody I know has a dubbed copy of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park . Though I often criticize brainless action flicks, unfunny comedies and painfully cheesy kids movies, I can tolerate a certain level of kitschy camp. What little I've seen of Phantom makes me want to see how bad it really is for a historical perspective and for some fun entertainment. Debuting on NBC in 1978, this TV movie would go down as the beginning of the end for the original KISS line-up. Up until that point, KISS seemed impossible to stop. Platinum records, sold-out arena shows and a large number of loyal members in the KISS Army fan club, KISS was one of the biggest bands of its time. They definitely put on a show for people and they tried to be seen by as many people as possible. This all came at cost of course. Band members fighting with each other, their egos, plus the glitz and glamour of the whole thing w

Do the Vampire

Listening to Eric and Amy 's podcast over the weekend, I heard a great way of describing certain modern bands that dress up in sleek, Goth-like clothing: vampires. Which bands are we referring to here? Well, let's look at the most popular offenders/artists in the last year or so: Alkaline Trio , My Chemical Romance , Aiden and believe it or not, Green Day . Some of these bands make (or used to make) good music despite the image, but some are just jokes to begin with. Regardless, what's so appealing about looking like a vampire? I don't know about you, but when I was in high school, I didn't really search for an identity. Yes, after seeing flannel shirts on MTV, I felt it was OK for me wear them, but as far as I remember, this wasn't an attempt to fit in. I was an invisible quiet guy with a small group of friends. I enjoyed playing in rock bands and listening to music, but I didn't intentionally dress up to make a personality statement. There were plenty

Be Here . . . Later

If you've been near a TV or a radio in the last few months, you've probably seen/heard a commercial for the "new" AT&T. Talking about "your world delivered" via all sorts of stuff (e-mail, blogging, etc.), each commercial features "All Around the World" by Oasis . Every time I hear this song, I keep meaning to write up a little story about the fabled album that closes with this song: Be Here Now . This is also the same album that is seen as the final hurrah of '90s Britpop. Oasis broke out big time in England in 1994 with the release of their debut album, Definitely Maybe . Simple in nature but incredibly tuneful and brash, Definitely Maybe and the half-dozen singles off of it were not really like anything out there at the time. The band paid homage to the great musical acts of the '60s and '70s and was unapologetic about nicking riffs, melodies and lyrics from them. Hailed as heaven-sent, the band inspired a younger generation t

Sitting in the waiting room

Of the 91 songs Fugazi has released so far, why is "Waiting Room," the first song from their first release, the most often covered? Not that "Waiting Room" is a bad song, but if there is one song that most people know by Fugazi, that's the one. I've heard a few other covers (including face to face's version of "Merchandise" and a local punk band covering "Great Cop"), but so far I've heard the song covered in a variety of places over the years. A few years ago, Voigt was playing at the Liquid Lounge with the Cut*Off and the Action. During soundcheck, the Action's bassist started playing "Waiting Room"'s intro bass riff, Cut*Off drummer Jim started singing "I am a patient boy" and I yelled, "I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait." We all three looked at each other and shared a brief little moment. We had a brief connection and smiled. "Waiting Room" isn't as well-known as say, Journey

Patt Minfield

Yesterday's post was on Steve Isaacs, but today's post is on probably the most influential MTV VJ on me: Matt Pinfield . If you watched 120 Minutes in the mid- to late-'90s, you remember Pinfield as the portly guy with a shaved head and a raspy voice. I remember that description of him, but the most shiny quality about him was his vast musical knowledge and friendly manner. He knew more than the average record store geek and he didn't throw around any record store geek attitude in the process. He showed me how being a big fan of the music led to other fields of knowledge. Not only did he know the players, but the producers, record covers, obscure references, videos and so on. He was definitely the guy you'd go to for his opinion on stuff. So where do you go for his opinion now? That's rather interesting. First, I gotta mention the TV show, Farmclub.com. Farmclub was a merging of website, talent show and American Bandstand for the nu-metal, modern rock and ma

The first ones of our kind

Does the name Steve Isaacs sound familiar? Well, if you watched MTV back in 1992-1994, you might remember him as one of its VJs. He had shoulder-length black hair and hosted the afternoon show, Hangin' With MTV . He was a fan and friend of grunge bands like Pearl Jam (they even gave him a platinum award for their debut album, Ten ), but he wasn't a stereotypical grunge fan. Always cool and laid-back, but not too laid-back, Isaacs was one of my favorite VJs back in the days when MTV catered to my demographic. The interesting part of why I bring up Isaacs now is not because of his new band, The Panic Channel (which happens to feature three ex-members of Jane's Addiction who are not named Perry Farrell), but because of his previous band, Skycycle . The name Skycycle may not ring any bells, but I distinctly remember their debut record on MCA Records, Ones and Zeros , back in '98. What's odd is that despite a number of promo copies being sent out (with full artwork a

You're the Reason I'm Leaving

The more time and frustration that comes on this matter, the more I fell less inclined to go out of my way for it. That sums up my feelings on a lot of matters these days, but the one matter that has been on my mind as of late is shopping for used CDs. I used to drive all around town for the best price on a CD, but I'm more and more drawn to picking them up via online sources (especially Amazon 's used marketplace). I can't comprehend buying a new CD for $18.99 when Best Buy might have it for $13.99 or a locally-owned CD store may have an opened copy for just $8.99. I don't think I'm being a cheapskate on this, but at the rate CDs are swapped digitally for free, the lowest price is where to gravitate towards. In Dallas, there are a handful of great, locally-owned CD stores that sell plenty of used CDs. In all of them, I've found so many great bargains that I've lost count. I can live with a CD that's been touched by other hands before mine that may or m

Got your picture in the magazine

Here's how a few records get introduced around our neighborhood (cyber and physical). Chris posted a write-up/MP3 on Denmark's Figurines recently and Jason took a listen. Liking what he heard, he bought the band's second full-length, Skeleton . After playing it for me and Taylor on our way back from a party (in which Chris was one of the guests) and getting a little lost, I heard a handful of tracks. So, over the weekend I burned a copy of it and now I can't stop listening to these guys. Let me get this comparison out of the way first: singer/guitarist Christian Hjelm has a singing voice that recalls Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock and Built to Spill's Doug Martsch. In other words, it's high-pitched and a little nerdy-sounding, but very melodic and colorful at the same time. There are times that he sounds like a dead ringer for those guys, but since I don't mind Brock's or Martsch's voices, I don't mind Hjelm's. Musically, the majority of

You Could Be Mine

I fondly remember Guns N' Roses back in the day. (When I mean "the day," I mean elementary school and middle school for me.) Compared to the average big rock band with big hair, they were the real deal. They weren't pretty or nice. They lived the debauchery of rock stardom to a T in their videos, image and in their songs. They had a number of great tunes that were dangerous and poppy at the same time. But this was a good 15-20 years ago. Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion are still fantastic, but I'd love to see them be remastered on CD. That's just me, but there's a big event on the horizon for a lot of longtime fans: a new album and tour. Now I'm wondering with the upcoming release of Chinese Democracy , why are people looking forward to this? Make no mistake, Axl Rose is the definition of untouchable rock star. Always hours late to promotional appearances, easily angered and very uneasy to please, this is not the kind of person I'

Hey when she sings

If there is one modern artist that evokes a melting sound from those that speak her name, it's Neko Case . I myself do not own any of Case's records (yet), but the more I hear from her and read about her makes me want to get at least her latest, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood . But how do I describe what's so great about her? As usual, let's start with some backstory: Coming from a background of punk rock as a drummer, Case first gained some national notoriety with her country-tinged folk. Releasing her debut, The Virginian , in 1997, Case would find a new audience in 2000 with her involvement with the New Pornographers , a "super-group" of sorts. Featuring the talents of vocalists/guitarists Carl "A.C" Newman and Dan Bejar up front, the New Pornographers released their debut, Mass Romantic , to rave reviews. I myself was a little slow in listening to the record, but when it was reissued in 2003, I downloaded it. Bouncy pop that's smart and fun

Live Your Heart and Never Follow

Despite the announcement a year ago that Hot Water Music was on an extended break, now the word is that the band is done. This doesn't come as a surprise, but I must stress that just because a band isn't playing together anymore doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I'm sad to see them go, but there is plenty to cherish from their time together as a band. Hot Water Music was the last band that I decided to devote a full chapter to in Post . At the time, I had No Division , A Flight and a Crash , Never Ender , and Live at the Hardback , in addition to MP3s from various other releases. I knew a little bit about their story and felt they needed some coverage, but I wasn't sure if they deserved a full chapter. After my friend Seth told me, "Hot Water Music saved my life," there wasn't a doubt in my mind about how much I should devote to them. Out of all the bands that I'm spotlighting with a chapter, Hot Water Music was the most prolific. Si

The Drumming Life

I've discussed this before on this here blog, but I want to bring it up again: is a drummer a musician? I think so, but I can understand that certain people don't agree. No, drummers don't necessarily play melodies; they augment them. They're a crucial part of a band, yet drummers often get a bad rap. Yes, I've heard plenty of drummer jokes, but they've never been proven true for me. I've never gone homeless because I broke up with a girlfriend. I've never left a porch after I was paid for the delivery of a pizza. I've never been let go from a band after I suggested we should play songs that I wrote. And no, I'm not a guy who hangs out with musicians. I started playing piano in elementary school and picked up the coronet in middle school. I grew up wanting to be a guitar player, but as time passed, I was drawn more to the drums. I would get out empty coffee cans and plastic bowls for drums and chopsticks for drumsticks. From time to time, I wou

Life's not fair

Something I've joked with a number of people about in the last few months is that whenever I talk about how life isn't fair, I say I should start an aggro-rock band and yell "Life's not fair!" over and over again. The deal is, this is a direct nod to Papa Roach 's '02 single, "She Loves Me Not." I know life isn't fair, but I find matters amusing with how others talk about this. "I don't know/If I care/I'm the jerk/Life's not fair/Fighting all the time/This is out of line/She loves me not, loves me not/Do you realize, I won't compromise/She loves me not, loves me not," so the song's chorus goes. Frontman/lyricist Jacoby Shaddix made no secret that this song was about his wife. He openly discussed the lyrics in interviews like this . "Being in a band and being a rock star, I gotta put a lot of energy and emotion into what I do," he said, apparently unironically. "I'm always gone and I'm alwa

Label spotlight: Polyvinyl Records

Though I'm still in the research-gathering stage for Post , I have planned out some nice coverage of labels that I liked back in the day and still like today. I'm happy to see a number of labels (like No Idea, Jade Tree, Polyvinyl, DeSoto and Second Nature) keep their legitimacy instead of cashing all of their chips for mall emo. Though labels like Epitaph and Vagrant are still criticized for their mall punk releases, at least they put out a wider variety of stuff that isn't strictly tailored for the mall crowd. Under the Epitaph umbrella, we've seen releases as diverse (and really great) as Converge, the Weakerthans and Neko Case in the last few years. With Vagrant, we'll be seeing the new releases from unique acts like the Futureheads, Lemonheads and the Hold Steady in the near future. I hope to cover all of these labels to a decent extent with Post , but as a little taste, I wish to spotlight them here without the constraints of a book format. For starters, today

Countdown to the disappointment

Believe you me, I didn't intend to spend three days answering the simple question of "what's so great about ________?" but something happened right after I posted yesterday's column. Here's the story: Each week, Torr posts lists of albums and singles coming out in the US and the UK. Sometimes he adds a brief little comment to an item (sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes in-between). Knowing that he doesn't often rave about stuff (at least from what I've seen), when he does rave about something, I'm likely to check it out. He recently posted about a single by a band called Boy Kill Boy , declaring their single "Suzie," "Perhaps the single of the year." When he posted a link that had four tracks from Civilian , the band's forthcoming album (including "Suzie"), I downloaded the track. Immediately upon listening to it, I loved it. But why? Shortly after a guitar fade-in, drums and guitar kick in wit

What's So Great about the Barrier Reef?

As if yesterday's post wasn't long enough, Jason still asked me: what's so great about bands like Band of Horses, Sufjan Stevens, the Black Angels, SOUND team and the Secret Machines? Now I will attempt to unveil the mask that is often referred as, "I dunno -- I just like it." Band of Horses , not to be confused with Horse the Band or a couple of bands called Horses, has a new record out on Sub Pop Records. I've heard a couple of tracks from Everything All the Time and the band I'm reminded of is My Morning Jacket. This is rock that isn't afraid of twang and twang that isn't afraid of rock. This isn't hokey at all and I like what I've heard. Fans of My Morning Jacket may take to this a little more or less because of the sound comparison. Sufjan Stevens , coming off of a breakthrough album last year, recently released an album of outtakes released called The Avalanche through Asthmatic Kitty. Though I've only heard his material fro