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Showing posts from July, 2006

The neutering power of iTunes

With as much time I spend in front of my computer, I'm now understanding why I should not listen to music on it that often. Why? iTunes through standard issue computer speakers are no match for CDs through bookshelf speakers, car speakers or even boombox speakers. I love listening to songs that I have yet to burn onto a CD on iTunes. I love the vast library of music I have at the click of a mouse. I love making mix CDs on iTunes. I love the 'shuffle' options if I'm feeling adventurous. I love the fact that the files don't take up a hard drive and a half for all the music I have on there. What is not cool is the playback sound: unless the song is by Michael Jackson, I have to crank up the level to hear a decent amount. Why is this a problem? Because this takes the juice out of so many songs, especially those considered in the "metal" genre. A few weeks ago, I took a listen to a few Slipknot tracks from their second album, Iowa . I was looking for a certai

This Town's Disaster

Blackpool Lights paid a welcome visit to Dallas last night in what I believe was their first trip here. Featuring Jim Suptic of the Get Up Kids on lead vocals and guitar, the band could be best described as straight-up, forward rock in the vein of the Replacements' Tim -era and Paul Westerberg's early solo records. Unlike the Replacements' reputation for dodgy live sets, Blackpool wasn't sloppy, drunken rock 'n' roll. They had a blast playing, despite the fact that twenty people were left in the venue by the time they played. I missed the first band due to various factors, but I caught openers Days Away and House of Heroes . Days Away plays a pretty interesting mix of funk, chilled-out rock while also having a poppy, emoish side. However, this wasn't nasal screamo or fluffy posturing. This was good (their drummer was fantastic) albeit a little too jazzed out for my tastes. House of Heroes was good but something about them felt too calculated. When I mean

Disco for Daisies

In my short time of seeing shows at the Cavern, I have seen two-piece bands (ie, the Lord Henry) all the way up to six-piece bands (ie, SOUND team and Pegasus Now). After last night, I can now say that I have seen eight- and nine-piece bands play on the Cavern's tiny stage. Austin's Golden Bear and the Channel came into town to spread some good tunes for us Dallas folks. I didn't get to see all of Last Picture Show and Belafonte, so I can't really describe what I saw. I was there to see Golden Bear and the Channel as they play a friendly mix of layered chamber pop without feeling like kids' music. With eight members onstage, there wasn't much room for moving around during Golden Bear's set. Three guitars, one bass, one rather large vibraphone, one regular-sized drumset, a saxophone and two keyboards stacked on top of each other is really pushing how much you put into the Cavern's space. Josh was doing sound and gave every instrument enough volume to

Your Generation

Chris Dahlen has a great Get That Out of Your Mouth column on Pitchfork today. Here's a tidbit: We don't have a new Bangs or Thompson yet because pop culture today is primarily a technology story. And we don't know how to write about technology. I couldn't agree more, but I'd like to throw in my two cents about the topic. I've never read Hunter S. Thompson and have only read snippets of Lester Bangs' work. I read the Bangs biography, Let It Blurt , by Jim DeRogatis and found the story of Bangs to be rather interesting. However, at several points in the book, I was asking myself "What the hell is going on here?" with a lot of Bangs' writings and interviews (especially the ones with Lou Reed). I felt like I was missing something or not in the loop of an inside joke. Plus, I would not be satisfied with a fan saying, "You either get it or you don't. No explanation needed." With reviews and interviews that sounded more like tangents

History's Stranglers

In addition to magazines like Rolling Stone and Punk Planet , I enjoy reading Alternative Press on a regular basis. Yes, I'm fully aware that I am not in their target demographic, but I get some good stuff out of each issue. I do get very annoyed at plenty of things I see in each issue, but I've recently realized some yins and yangs about life in the last few months. I cringe when I read that line in the Cartel article about how they don't want "to put out records that are only gonna sell 50,000 copies." I cringe when I read about how Eighteen Visions are trying to be rock 'n' roll stars. I cringe when I read about how many young bands laugh at the notion of paying any sort of dues. Yet in the same pages of this same publication, I read about bands like the Bronx , the Format and Head Automatica , aka, bands that are not strictly for the fans of mall-ified versions of music. I don't know exactly how these three bands will be thought of in the futur

The World Has Turned and Left Me Here

With yesterday being a day off, I took in an early afternoon screening of Clerks II . As someone who's had my fill of the cheerleading and mudslinging of writer/director Kevin Smith over the years, I wondered if I was seeing this flick out of some sense of loyalty. Well, shortly into the movie, I understood why I wanted to see this. I was someone who didn't really get into Kevin's films until college, roughly a year before Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back came out. I had seen Clerks and Mallrats in high school, but didn't understand their brilliance until I saw Chasing Amy and Dogma . Make no mistake, the five movie posters signed by Kevin that hang in my room are a testament to my fandom. Now I'm at a point where I still really enjoy Kevin's writing (especially his Darth Vader piece in Rolling Stone last year) and all of his films, but I've had enough of Kevin Smith, the dodgy stand-up comedian and target for arguments among fanboys. Trying to speak of

Robo-greeting

Whether I'm entering a bookstore, grocery store, buffet pizza place or Chinese food restaurant, I keep hearing these stock greetings with some variation of "Hi" and "Welcome to [insert name of business]." While it may be nice to be recognized, I've become annoyed with these kinds of faux, stylized greetings. I don't mind when the cashier at Taco Bell says a spontaneous "hello" and takes my order. The "hello" is genuine, even if it's for the sake of ordering some Mexican fast food. I do mind when I enter a place that makes excellent, inexpensive Chinese food and the attendant taking the orders says, "Hi, welcome to [insert name of business]," the same way to every customer. They say this in a way that sounds like they have been brainwashed into saying this. Now these kinds of robotic greetings have sprouted up in my favorite bookstore. I don't know if this is at all of the bookstores in town, but one in particular I

Why blogging matters

Ryan over at Good Hodgkins has a great essay about the importance of blogs. He states his reasons concisely (complete with statistics!) and this gets me to thinking some more about blogs in general. Most notably, I think about why I have way more blogs on my blog list than any other websites. This leads me to think about why I blog in the first place and why I read blogs more than anything else. I started this blog strictly out of necessity. At the time I started (October '04), almost every single website I read talked about the World Series and the upcoming presidential election. Not to say I wasn't interested in those matters, but I didn't care to read about this stuff everyday. I like reading about music and movies, but at the time, I didn't really know of any websites that talked about music and movies the way I liked to read about them. In college, I would read sites like Pitchfork , Punknews.org and Ain't it Cool News for music and movie news and reviews,

No Idea Records interview (extended edition)

I'm totally stealing the idea of posting extended editions of interviews/articles from Kyle , but as someone who wants to know more, the more the merrier. Here's an extended version of my interview with Var Thelin from No Idea Records that ran in Punk Planet #74: The roots of Var Thelin’s Gainesville, Florida-based label were planted by the kind of desire that is always there: a necessity of expression. Starting first as a zine in '85 with a friend who had done a DIY comic and having “no idea” what to call it, No Idea was born. Thanks to the help and encouragement of their graphic arts teacher, Thelin and his friends learned how to start from scratch and have a finished project in their hands. After releasing a few issues and reading about a zine up north that came with a 7”, the same would be incorporated with No Idea. Releasing its sixth issue with a 7” with local band Doldrums, No Idea Records began to slowly take shape. After releasing 7”s featuring bands like Rado

A night with the Lost Generation

I can't remember the last time I saw a six-band bill, but this was the case for last night's Lost Generation show at the Double Wide. We played first to a decent-sized crowd at around 9. Thankfully nobody cried foul about us playing the same set we've played at our last three shows. Thankfully nobody threw eggs at me when I completely lost the beat at one point during our first song. I think it's safe to say the night started off well. Record Hop was up next. I had seen them play a few times before and enjoyed them, but wasn't bowled over by them. Now with a different drummer from when I saw them last, they really impressed me. Yes, their guitars sound like something that is perfect for stoner rock or greasy rock 'n' roll, but they are neither. They rock with a smart sense of dissonance, dense melodies and pure riffin'. I had the pleasure of talking with Ashley and Scott following their set and found both of them incredibly kind and genuine. For me,

La Lucha Libre

I still watch a small amount of TV on a weekly basis, but a large number of that amount is devoted to programming in Spanish. Secretos Houston and Jose Luis: Sin Censura are still some of my favorites as they make zero attempts to hide how fake the storylines are. Plus, there's something really funny about watching really bad acting by non-actors. In so many ways, this is like watching WWE with its staged-but-entertaining appeal. In the last few weeks, I've found matters to be very funny with how "sports entertainment" is not just devoted to Raw , Smackdown and Saturday Night's Main Event . I recently watched an episode of El Show de Maria Laria which featured masked luchadors talking about their problems with one another. Just the mere idea of masked luchadors sitting and discussing their problems with one another on a talk show is hilarious to me. Since these wrestlers were rivals in and out of the ring, they had quite a few fights on the set. Watching the

Lay your armor down

I've blogged about Dashboard Confessional before , but I want to talk about them again since I've been listening to their new album, Dusk and Summer , a lot lately. To recap: I like this band's music, own all of their proper albums, have seen them play live and I say all of this with zero irony. Since I was a Further Seems Forever fan at the time when I heard a couple of tracks off of The Swiss Army Romance , I was pulled in by what Chris was doing with this quiet little side project. Well, after the second record, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most , was out for a couple of months, I noticed how fast the now-a-band's popularity spread. Some friends of mine really loved this stuff, but a ton of others just hated this (and continue to hate) this stuff. I have my theories as to why certain people are so attracted to Chris and why other people are so repulsed by him, but let me get to the bottom of how I feel on the matter. Yes, watching the audience be so mesmer

Foul Weather Clothes

We used to have a political reggae one called "Equality Street." -David Brent, The Office --- I can tolerate a degree of what I consider traditional reggae. I'm talking Bob Marley, Desmond Dekker, Peter Tosh and so on. I have no problem with hearing a little bit of a style that is so laid-back in cut-times, but too much can be aggravating and tortuous. Like my frustrations with the Tejano music I hear blasting out of cars around my neighborhood, the beat is at the forefront while limp melodies are there somewhere in the back. When I was in college, I knew some people that were really into reggae. Yes, some were potheads, but some were not. The point is, I just couldn't understand how people could listen to those repetitive beats for hours at a time. Then again, I'm sure there are people that wonder how the hell I can listen to the fractured beats found in post-hardcore or the rocket-fueled beats found in pop-punk for hours at a time. But I argue there's m

Anonymous

Even if you visit just a few blogs on a daily basis, the chances are very good that you're going to see a comment left by a person who leaves no name. Since many blogs via Blogger require at least a username to post, some people will create a profile, but not a blog. There are plenty of other blogs, including this one, that allow anonymous comments to be posted. Usually, people leave their names, but sometimes they don't. I know blogging isn't for everyone and I think it's fine to have non-Blogger users post their feelings, but comments from anonymous users have become a cowardly shield of sorts. Around here, a prime spot for catty anonymous comments is We Shot J.R. , a Dallas-based blog devoted to local and national music. In hopes of voicing an opinion in the blogosphere without burning bridges in real life, its writers do not reveal their real names. I can understand this motive but I don't agree with this approach. On here and in real life, I'm not into hid

(The Gym is) Neutral Territory

So Eric and Amy saw Lifetime over the weekend (review and photos here ). As I ponder how envious I am of their experience, I think about how much this band has been name-checked in the last few years. Without running a laundry list, I think about what usually happens when popular bands name-check relatively obscure bands. Some may cry foul about such, but why is that a bad thing, especially in the case of a band that has been broken up for a long time? One of the most cross-referenced bands of my generation is the Pixies. I think the main reason why is because Kurt Cobain once claimed that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" sounded like a Pixies song. For us listening to White Lion and Vanilla Ice when Doolittle and Bossanova came out, we probably wouldn't have understood the hoopla about the Pixies. Yet for us who went through the filter that Nirvana showed us, we would understand in due time. With Lifetime, bands like Saves the Day, Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday have

It's a hundred degrees and you've got a sweater on

With temperatures topping the 100 degree mark in the last few weeks, I think about something I saw two years ago while I stood in line at a show in Houston. As I waited for the doors to open to see Braid for the second time on their reunion tour, something very odd caught my eye. As a resident of Houston for twelve years, I know how intense the heat and humidity can be. However, something I'm still in the dark about is why anyone would ever wear wool slacks and a thick sweater-vest in this weather. Well, I saw a pudgy guy in this get-up as I stood in line. I was sweating profusely despite being in a T-shirt and shorts, but not as much as this guy was. I understand someone bringing a jacket or a sweater to where he or she works because of the indoor temperature, but not to a show in the summer. A few years ago, Goose , Nick and I talked about an imaginary emo band called the Crying Sweaters. They never actually practiced or played any shows; they were just a figment of our imagin

Danse Macabre

Years ago, my friend Steve thought a great live pairing would be [daryl] and the Faint . At the time, the Faint had just put out their second album, Blank-Wave Arcade and [daryl] was just getting started (I think their first EP was out). The sole link between the two bands was that they used vintage keyboards circa the '70s and '80s. I never thought the pairing would work but I think I saw something like this last night at the Double Wide. Sparklepussy Barbie is not a Faint knock-off, but they could be compared to them. Featuring members of the Deathray Davies (including one who used to be in [daryl] years ago), the band fuses live instrumentation with loops, keyboards and electronic drums. They don't sound doomy, but they aren't really richly melodic either. All throughout their set, I kept thinking about my conversation about the Faint with Steve all those years ago. With [daryl], after six years of seeing them play with various line-ups, I have yet to tire of th

Tricked

I make no secret that I'm a slow reader. However, whenever I read something in record time, I wonder what's the deal. Last year, I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a week. Earlier this year, I read Jim DeRogatis's Staring at Sound in less than a week. This week, I set a new record as I read something in less than 48 hours. What book was the one? Alex Robinson 's graphic novel, Tricked . David posted a nice little write-up on the book earlier this week in his ongoing "Book Notes" series. Reminding myself of Robinson's previous book, Box Office Poison , some major urges came to me with wanting to read Tricked as soon as possible. Without ever having read a single page of Box Office Poison , I put the book on my Christmas list a few years ago. All that I knew about the book was that there was a storyline about comics and movies. With a name like Box Office Poison , I thought I was getting a harsh satire/ribbing of the movie industry'

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire

Does anybody have a particular time of the year when a major change in your life tends to happen? For me, they tend to happen in the mid-summer or early fall. Four years ago this month, I was informed by my roommate that a friend of his was moving into our place -- implying that I had to move out. Scrambling, I found a nice and inexpensive apartment in north Dallas and have lived in the town ever since. Almost three years ago, I felt like my relationship with one band had ended and I would find myself let go from the band just a couple of months later. Almost two years ago, as I was moving into the place I live in now, I had to leave one of the companies I worked for. I couldn't put this change off any longer and when my other job offered me a full-time job, I bolted. And this all happened as I was moving in August with no fear that this was the right move for me. So why am I bringing this up now? Well, this feeling has come back. I'm not moving to a new place to live, but I&

What's taking so long?

Since this blog was created initially to give progress reports on Post , I think I need to address the proverbial elephant standing in the corner. The book is not done as I have a few matters to attend to before I have a draft ready for printing. The timeframe is indefinite, but I'm hoping this situation will be different in a few months' time. First of all, the interviews. As much as it would be easy to use all second-hand sources (ie, articles and interviews), I have strived for authentic, straight-from-the-horse's-mouth material with my own interviews. A few notable people will not have new quotes for the book, but they definitely get coverage via articles and such. Believe me, I've contacted them for input, but looking at some signs on the wall, they are saying they're not going to participate. While I'd still love to have their input, I have plenty of input already. I honestly don't know how many people I've interviewed (I lost count after fifty)

Music kids love, not kids' music

I may scoff at the labeling of my generation as "grups" and "indie yuppies" by the media, but one of the cool things I see with "indie yuppies" in particular is what kind of music they play for their children. Sure, there might be some Barney and Sesame Street songs in the mix, but that's not even half of the music they hear. In general, the music that the parents listen to is the music that their children listen to. The kind of music they listen to often sheds a lot of light onto their personalities. So, with people that came of age in the '80s and '90s with the mass appeal of alternative rock, I don't find it surprising that "good" music is being played for their kids. I in no way ever thought the music I was first introduced to via my parents (big band to soft rock AM gold) was bad. Sure, frequently hearing "The Tonight Show Theme" in the car drove me bonkers for a while, but I still like a number of the artists

Why You'd Want to Live Here

When I first moved into the place I'm living in now, I noticed some urban renewal was going on around this part of town. Old apartments, restaurants and other businesses were slowly being torn down and posh condo/townhomes/apartments were built in their place. Now this development has reached a point where it's not just in our neighborhood, but almost the entire area slightly north and east of downtown. While I think it's great to clean up certain parts of town, Jason and I are wondering: where are all these new residents coming from? Are the suburbs that bad? I have yet to meet anyone who has moved or is about to move to one of these new digs. These places are posh , but they are also super-expensive . I do not have the kind of money to live in one of these places nor do I really want to (apartment life just isn't the same as living in a house or duplex). But the average profile of people moving into these places are in their mid-20s to mid-30s. In other words, this

Let's Go to the Hop

As I watched one of my all-time favorite movies last night ( American Graffiti ), I found myself bopping to the soundtrack. Yes, I was bopping to songs like "Let's Go to the Hop," "All Summer Long" and "I Only Have Eyes for You." These songs sum up the rock 'n' roll of the day before the British Invasion and still rock. These songs hold up so well despite the fact that most of its lyrics are about teenager/young adult life. So I wonder: why does the Crests' "16 Candles" hold up after all these years when I think a song like Fall Out Boy's "A Little Less 'Sixteen Candles,' A Little More 'Touch Me'" will not? A line like "'Cause you're just the girl all the boys want to dance with/And I'm just the boy who's had too many chances" does not sound very far removed from the kinds of lyrics you've heard in any part of rock 'n' roll's past. I think several other facto

Jesus and Tequila

Here's another Saturday post on what I did last night at the Cavern . Chris DJ'd upstairs while Sean Kirkpatrick played a set downstairs. Though there were two other acts playing downstairs, I skipped out on them to spend more time upstairs. Yes, I was one of those guys, but I couldn't help be drawn to where my friends were. Sean plays in the pAper chAse , a band I'm still really just now discovering. With his solo shows, I'm already a big fan, especially after last night's set. Playing by himself with a full, 88-key keyboard/piano, the sound was spare but that wasn't a drawback. Similar to his stuff with the pAper chAse, there is an almost constant flowing in and out of major and minor keys. Sometimes this happens in just one chord progression. Now, that may sound more like lazy playing, but I disagree. I think this is more of the approach akin to a quote I once heard Page Hamilton say: music theory is a good thing to learn and then forget about. Sure

Journalism 101

Rather than continue the bloggers/fans and SOUND team vs. Pitchfork debate from earlier in the week (full round-up here ), I have to shed some more light about who I am and who I am not. I did not major in journalism in college; I majored in radio-TV-film and minored in advertising/PR. I have never written for a daily newspaper or a weekly paper. I have been blogging here since October 2004 and had never blogged before then. In addition to writing an article/interview on No Idea Records for them, I have written music and DVD reviews for Punk Planet for almost a year. I have written some concert, movie and music reviews for various online places (from Doomed Moviethon to Jeff's blog ) in my time and am currently writing a book of my own, Post . So why am I showing all my writing cards here? To explain why I didn't understand a comment made about "Journalism 101" on the Life of a Zane blog earlier this week. The "Journalism 101" example was about identif

Weight

When I was a sophomore in high school, Henry Rollins really spoke to me and my friends. Thanks to MTV's constant playing of Rollins Band's "Liar," I felt like I was hearing a song by a guy who could really tap into my teenage angst. Sure, a band like Nirvana supposedly spoke to more people with abstract lyrics, but when I was in high school and was very angry about various matters, "Liar" was intensely personal and explicit. Now when I listen to the song, I really can't get into it. Not that there is a lack of anger in me, but I can't into this kind of expression of anger. That said, I can't underscore enough how important certain other works from Rollins are to me. After hearing "Liar" so many times, me and my friends were open ears to whatever else Rollins had cooking at that time. Released a short while later, Get in the Van is a collection of journal entrys from Rollins' time in Black Flag. Releasing a book and audio CD with