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Showing posts from September, 2006

Away message

I'm taking a few days off from writing to head on down to Houston. My good friend Chris is getting married on Saturday. For the time being, here's some good reading material: Tom Waits' interview with The AV Club from a few years ago. Merritt 's Dallas Observer article on karaoke. Kyle retells his time at Touch & Go's 25th anniversary show. Eric ran into an old bandmate of his during a pitstop over the weekend. Finally, here's yours truly making a funny/insane face .

I ain't got no crystal ball

I've never been a big fan of Sublime's reggae-punk-ska, but I feel bad for their hardcore fans. Billboard reports that a four-disc box set featuring previously released and unreleased material is on the way. How is this a bad thing? Well, the number of posthumous vault-raiding collections greatly outnumber the band's proper releases. That usually isn't a problem, but the quality of them is very suspect. When they were together, the band recorded three proper albums, Robbin' the Hood , 40 Oz. to Freedom and Sublime . Sublime would be the band's breakthrough record with the mainstream, but that success was very bittersweet. Shortly before its release, frontman/guitarist/songwriter Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose. In the following years, the effects of apparently a bad record deal have yielded compilation after compilation. Here's the rundown so far: Second Hand Smoke (1997) Stand By Your Van -- Sublime Live in Concert (1998) Sublime Acoustic: Br

Tramps like us

Credit goes to David for pointing this article out. The Dallas Morning News ' Thor Christensen reviews a handful of this fall's hotly-anticipated records by acts like the Killers, Beck and Janet Jackson. Responding to a claim made by the Killers' Brandon Flowers that his band’s new album is 'one of the best albums of the last 20 years," Christensen wrote: "Every musician wants to record a classic album, but the odds against doing it are astronomical: For every disc that earns the 'timeless' tag, 10,000 wind up in the $5 bin at used-CD stores." Very true words. So I wonder: is there a bulletproof way to make something classic and timeless? Earlier this year, Tom DeLonge shot himself in the foot by hyping his post-blink-182 band, Angels and Airwaves, himself. If there's one major lesson to be learned, it's that the general public, not the musicians, producers, record label folks or the critics, that decide if the music is good or not. How


Now let's make sure, that this time, this never happens again. --Dante Hicks, Clerks cartoon Over the weekend I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is having some major "life" issues. I don't remember if this was about a possible relationship, a job concern or something else, but I told him in a serious/sarcastic voice, "Do what I do: avoid life!" Then I started thinking about how mentally tied-up I am. I tried to understand why this is the way it is. I'll say this flat out: I don't like making mistakes or doing something that I'll later regret. Making mistakes is what got me fussed at for most of the my life from a variety of sources. Because I made a "careless" mistake, that would make me regret why I even made the decision in the first place. Now I feel like it's difficult to make decisions beyond what clothes I'm going to wear, what food I'm going to eat and when I'll do laundry. Why? Because I wan

Feeling the rapture grow

When I was in college, I would often hear about Blue Velvet . All along, I thought these people were talking about National Velvet , the 1944 film about horse racing starring Elizabeth Taylor/Mickey Rooney. I didn't recall Dennis Hopper being in it or the film being rather bizarre. If anything, it was a film that my sister liked when we were younger. Somewhere along the way, a nice friend of mine explained what the difference was between the two films. There's no Elizabeth Taylor, horses or syrupy music in Blue Velvet and there's no Dennis Hopper, oxygen masks or dismembered ears in National Velvet . On top of that, I seriously doubt that my sister would like Blue Velvet . I can't give a movie review of Blue Velvet right now because I haven't seen it the whole way through. No, I didn't stop it because I was offended or grossed out; the copy I rented from Netflix had two long scratches on it. I didn't realize they were there until I reached the 35-minute ma

What is this?

I don't know how they found this clip, but Jason and Merritt have it on their respective blogs. Where exactly is this clip from? Moreover, what the hell is going on in this clip? Here's what I can tell you in brief: it's a little man/child who dances as his family watches. The spoken language sounds Spanish, but it could be something else. Why am I some interested in this? Well, instead of dismissing this as some silly, random YouTube clip, I think about what it could possibly be. Moreover, how does somebody find a clip like this? With Twin Peaks still fresh in my mind and the first thirty-five minutes of Blue Velvet very fresh in my mind, I think this clip is akin to David Lynch's work. Maybe because of the dream-like quality, I think of the Black Lodge sequences on Twin Peaks . You know, those backward-sounding conversations where you don't know if it's a dream or reality? That's what I thought as I tried to understand its bizarro nature (especially th

This fire burns always

One of the more anticipated records of the year for me is Killswitch Engage's As Daylight Dies , due November 21st. I'm of the attitude that I will buy it the day it comes out, but with seeing a pattern in the band's back catalog, I might have to wait a few months. No, it's not because of delays, but because it will probably be reissued in less than a year. Eric totally sold me on the band with his post on the band back in July. Featuring two newly recorded tracks found on compilations (one original, "This Fire Burns," and one cover, Dio's "Holy Diver"), I was certain that they would reappear on a future KSE release. I hoped "This Fire Burns" would show up on As Daylight Dies , but according to a recent MTV news story , the song will not be on it. Then I started thinking that the album, just like all of KSE's records, will get the reissue treatment. But I wonder who gets to benefit most with this? For the fans that want it when it

The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton

David posted the link for this article a few weeks ago, but I'm just getting around to reading it. Decibel Magazine , the metal magazine run by Choosing Death author Albert Mudrian, recently printed a round table discussion on hipster metal. Featuring John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel and a couple of writers, they discuss metal's rather hip nature in the last few years. Seeing positive record reviews on bands like Mastodon, Isis, Killswitch Engage, Converge and Slipknot in publications that seemed to steer clear from this kind of music, there is something going on. I do wonder how this happened. I think a comment Slagel made in the article nails it on the head: The hipster kids are writers -- the indie rock people -- they're no longer going, "Oh, metal. Behemoth, they're horrible! So now all of a sudden some of these really cool bands are really good and those people are getting into [them], but I think it's more a validation

Just Say No

Even as my ten-year high school reunion looms, I'm still trying to get over some high school angst. No, it isn't about my hairstyle or why I liked Silverchair, but with saying no. I have no problem telling panhandlers or door-to-door solicitors no, but other matters are much more difficult. If work calls me on short notice to fill in or the band is asked to play a last minute gig, I'm torn. If I didn't have anything lined up for that time, I say yes. But what about when I already have plans? How important are those plans compared to what is being asked of me at the last minute? The reasonable and understandable answer is to say "Sorry, I already have plans." No problem, right? Well, when I was in the high school band, nothing else could interfere with one's attendance to band practices. If you already had plans, you had to break them because band always came first. If you weren't there, everything would fall apart and a major guilt trip was coming your

We could plant a house/We could build a tree

MTV News has a great little write-up on a question that's been asked by many for the last fifteen years: Could there be another band like Nirvana come along and completely change the way we think about popular rock music? Forget the Next Big Thing -- the Next Nirvana would be a band that no one would have predicted such a major takeover. The deal is, anything is possible, but the odds of this happening now are much greater compared to how they were in 1991. With the immediate blockbuster success of Nirvana's Nevermind in late-'91, major labels were caught off guard and tried to catch up in 1992. What made the whole alternative/grunge tag appealing was its vagueness. Bands like the Flaming Lips, Helmet and Soundgarden sounded nothing alike, but they were not hair metal, so major labels were interested. Granted, those three bands had major label deals before Nevermind came out, but they definitely had an easier time finding a larger audience after that record came out. Wh

Everybody knows what's best for you

As a follow-up to my previous post on faith and organized religion, the topic has reared its head again in my head. I still do not label myself as a follower of a certain kind of beliefs. I'm spiritual and hopeful, but I'm easily deterred by negativity. What's been annoying me in the last few weeks and months is the certain ways that people try and force their religious beliefs down people's throats, even if it's by walking on eggshells. Being reminded of a show we played a few months ago, I think about what one of the other bands on the bill said during their set. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of, "I just wanted to let you know that Christ is in our lives. We don't want to call ourselves Christians because a lot of people these days have made it a bad word. If you want to talk to us about it, we'll be around after we play." I've never understood this approach. This "we'll be around afte

Like Eating Glass

After being available in limited release earlier this year, the God Bless Bloc Party DVD saw a wide release a couple of months ago. Part of that wide release included being available on Netflix , so I was finally able to see it. Despite some lackluster reviews, I wanted to see it. Well, I'm glad I saw it, but a certain percentage rubbed me the wrong way. Bloc Party is an incredible live band and a full live set alone is worth putting onto a DVD. Yet God Bless features a documentary that splices interviews with parts of a live set in LA. To be frank, the presentation comes across as a distraction. Featuring a number of awkward moments during interviews, this stuff made me wonder about the nature of interviews in general. I remember seeing Matt Pinfield trying to get the guys from Blur to talk on 120 Minutes . He might have had better luck doing dental surgery without morphine. Speaking just above a whisper, getting a full sentence out of them was hard. I felt the same watching a b

Steady as She Goes

Merritt briefly mentioned Meg White from the White Stripes in her preview of the Raconteurs show: With the White Stripes, Jack carries the duo, while Meg provides a writhing sexiness. But I ask--do her tribal gyrations always translate into good musicianship? Thought not. I might be off here, but her statement feels very overdue. Even as a White Stripes fan, I totally agree. The frustrating thing has been whenever someone criticizes Meg White's drumming, a number of people will shoot back that her drumming is just fine. Not that I'm an expert drummer, but I often feel like Meg is not carrying enough of the load and it's unfair to Jack. Not only is there a hole in the band's sound with only guitar, drums and vocals, but the strict simplicity of Meg's drumming leaves too much space. She rarely plays beyond a basic stomp and sounds either incredibly timid or too arrogant to play anything more. She gives Jack too much basic stuff to play on top of, but he does a prett

Wolf Like Me

Jason has some very valid gripes about the way we read about music these days, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. I've covered this topic before, but as time goes on, I think about other things that I hadn't thought about before. Let me make something clear right away: I do not think of MP3 blogs as "mini- NME 's" as fellow Dallas blogger Stonedranger called them. The NME is about 98% full of crazed hype and exaggeration with whatever band is popular or about to be popular. My eyes might be deceiving me, but I have yet to run into a blog that goes about discussing bands this way. Sure, you'll hear a lot about the new TV on the Radio, M. Ward and Joanna Newsom records right now, but you're not going to find them on a Best Records of All Time list ranked higher than Revolver or My Aim is True anytime soon. I get the sense that MP3 bloggers want to share the music they're grooving to as fast as they're being exposed to it. I don't kn

There's a gas shortage and A Flock of Seagulls. That's about it.

Following up my previous post on Angels and Airwaves , there's been something that's been kicking around in my head for the last few days. To recap, former blink-182 guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge starts a new band with the advance buzz (from DeLonge himself) that this band is special. ". . . it has the conceptual depth of Pink Floyd, it has the anthemic architecture of U2 but it has the energy and youthful vibrancy of Blink," as he told MTV News . In addition to the claim that their debut album, We Don't Need to Whisper , was "the best fucking album anybody has heard in 20 years," DeLonge hyped the record and band up so much that a major backlash was inevitable. After reading several reviews on the record and hearing half of the record, I think it's safe to say this: what DeLonge aimed for resulted in something that came up very short. I can hear the traces of Pink Floyd, the Cure and U2, but Angels and Airwaves comes across as A Flock of Seagulls

Better Off Without a Wife

All my friends are married Every Tom and Dick and Harry You must be strong of you to go it alone Here's to the bachelors and the bowery bums Those who feel that they're the ones that are better off without a wife --Tom Waits, "Better Off Without a Wife" Ernie Brown's recent (and excellent) article inspires another post. This time, instead of wondering what to call this decade (I'm still not so sure about the Oughts as a title), I gotta say something about what his article is mostly about: being single these days. I still stand behind what I wrote the last time I talked about this subject, but Ernie's article got me to thinking about many other matters. To recap: I'm single and have been single for a handful of years. Depending on what I look at, that can be considered a blessing, a curse and sometimes a mixture of the two. I would like to be with somebody not for the sake of thinking I'll be a "complete" person, but for the sake of shar

I belong to the _____ Generation

Until I read Alissa Quart's Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers , I thought I was a part of the generation known as Generation X. Since the Generation X tag was frequently used throughout the Nineties to describe this young generation that was into grunge/alternative rock, I thought they were talking about me. Well, upon reading Quart's description of Generation Y, I realized that my birth year placed me in the category of Y and not X. Why do I bring all this up? Because I don't think I'm really at ease with being a part of one generation over the other. I'm still in the dark as to why I thought Generation X was something that covered at least thirty years. So, I resort to what Richard Hell sang about his own generation identity confusion: "I belong to the _____ Generation." Reading Wikipedia's thorough entry on Generation X, I'm still confused. First gaining recognition in 1964 and appearing again in the following three decades, Generati

This is the next century . . .

A major lingering question for the last couple of years has been this: what are we gonna call this decade? The Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties were easy, but six years into this first decade of a new century, the Oughts keeps coming around. I never would have thought of this label, but I'm curious if this is a good way to label this decade. Until a few weeks ago, I only heard about individual years (like "oh-six" and "oh-eight"), but no decade names. I thought the 2000s was a good name. I also thought the Double O's was a great label, but then I realized that the year number is made of digits, not letters. The Oughts tag was brought up in a book interview I did with Jim Suptic a few weeks ago. I didn't really understand what he was talking about until he said, ". . . or whatever this decade is called." Now, after reading Ernie Brown's excellent article on being single these days, the Oughts tag feels like it's going to stay.

Shut the Door

I don't mean to be an unsympathetic jerk here, but I've decided to disable anonymous comments on this blog. Why? I've had enough of the random visitors who leave poorly-written, typo-filled cheapshots under the generic name of 'anonymous.' Why did I enable the option in the first place? So non-Blogger users could comment. I like open dialogue, so I didn't want people to feel like they had to be Blogger member in order to comment. Well, after one-too-many catty, nonsensical comments, the option gets the heave-ho. My previous post on anonymous comments generated some great comments from regular readers. Some of them used their real names and some didn't. I have no problem with people who use usernames, but I've had enough of the comments that simply say, 'anonymous.' Why? Well, as jonofdeath put it best: What they are saying is completely disposable. I agree. Thinking about it, and this may sound extreme, but these kinds of comments are about on

Waiting for the Next End of the World

All this week I've been watching the second season of LOST on DVD. I couldn't help it as the third season starts in a few weeks and I wanted to be reminded of what all happened last season. Not only have I picked up a number of matters that didn't get in my first pass, but I've often thought about why people had such an adverse reaction to this season. I argue that there has been no dipping in quality, intrigue or character development, but still I think about why people were rather disappointed with certain episodes and the season in general. I will admit it -- there were several times during the second season where the preview/trailer was more exciting than the actual episode. Locke, Sawyer and Jack meet the Others? Awesome! But all I got out of the meeting was vague information and a decent flashback on Jack. However, knowing where the rest of the season goes, this episode was a nice little taste of what was to come. This was the case for a number of other episodes.

Rings Around the World

Along the lines of my recent post about 40-50-year-old men wearing Hawaiian shirts -- what's the deal with men wearing their wedding ring on their left hand's middle finger? Yes, the traditionally longest finger that can be used to make an obscene gesture is being used as a ring finger. Here's my question: why? Are there different meanings for the ring finger these days? The first time I saw this arrangement was on a 60-year-old man who had recently lost a lot of weight following surgery. I figured that his ring's size was too big for his ring finger, so he moved it to a thicker finger. Case closed, right? Well, a short time later I saw this arrangement on a healthy 40-something that had not lost a significant amount of weight. Now, I've seen it on a guy who's my age. On the flipside, I've never seen a woman wear her wedding or engagement ring on her middle finger. It's solely been men. So I wonder: what's the advantage or is there an advantage at a

Nevermind the world . . .

Some of my regular readers work as editors, so maybe they can help with answers to these questions better than others, but anybody can answer: Since when did the letter T become something you frequently capitalize? How do you properly cite a blog or a website? I remember the Associated Press writing style in college, but to my knowledge, that style is always being tinkered with. So I wonder: did I miss a memo about the letter T? Are blogs and news websites still not worthy of italics? I bring all this up because of a book I'm currently reading. It's called Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash and it was written by Pat Gilbert, a former editor at British mag, MOJO . I'm firmly well aware of the differences between American and British writing styles as I read this book, but I keep noticing the letter T being capitalized in spots where they normally wouldn't. I'm talking a line like, "Musically, there wasn't that much separating The 101'ers

I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday.

I think it's very safe to say that if Noah Baumbach had never co-written The Life Aquatic with Wes Anderson, I would have never heard of Kicking and Screaming . Forever confused with the 2005 Will Ferrell/Robert Duvall kids soccer movie of the same name, Baumbach's 1995 film could also be considered one of the seven movies that Parker Posey acted in that were released that year. Add Eric Stoltz to the mentions of who's in the film and you have a film ripe for indie film stereotyping. So why should you give a crap about Kicking and Screaming ? Because it's a story is about a time in our lives that is too often looked passed as a brief transition. Originally titled Fifth Year , Kicking and Screaming portrays the first year of a handful of friends post-college. Opting to stay close to the university they graduated from, one re-enrolls, one ponders either graduate school or a job, one drifts with no real goals and one tries to get over a break-up. Doesn't that sound

"You can find it anywhere . . ."

With all the information that's easily found on the Internet, I'm surprised by the lack of information about Mike Judge's new film, Idiocracy . Other than some recent reviews/news found on Ain't It Cool News , trying to find even a trailer for this film is difficult. I could speculate 'til I'm blue in the face as to why Fox is releasing this in limited release with barely any publicity, but there's a deeper matter at hand. No matter how vast the Internet is, there's still plenty of stuff out there that isn't on it. Despite featuring Mike Judge (of Office Space , King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-head fame) as the director, Luke Wilson as the main star and a hilarious premise ( A civilian enlisted by the Pentagon to take part in a secret "Human Hibernation Project" awakes 500 years in the future. Despite having been considered a dullard in his own time, he is now the smartest person in the world ), this has yet to catch much attention.

Take me to the Black Lodge where you live

As I was getting into LOST for the first time last year, a fellow ABC series with a devoted cult following was often mentioned: Twin Peaks . I had never seen the show but heard plenty of raves about it from a variety of people. A neighbor two doors down from our house was addicted to the show when it was first on. It's hazy now, but I remember various news stories about the appeal of the show and so on and so forth. However, nobody really wanted to fess up about what this show was about. Being in sixth grade in 1990, I didn't get Twin Peaks at the time, but then again, I didn't get the fuss about Seinfeld either. Those opinions changed over time. I remember Matt showing me his copy of the first season of Twin Peaks on DVD a few years ago. I loved the box's design and wanted to finally watch an episode of the show. Yet it wasn't until yesterday that I watched the first four episodes (thanks to Netflix). I quickly realized that trying to get complete enjoyment of

Frankie died just the other night . . .

As I read the newest issue of AP the other night, a certain recurring idea kept coming into my head: what's the deal with all these modern rockers looking like how Nikki Sixx has looked for the past twelve years? I'm talking black, feathery/spiked hair with tattoos all over the place and torn-up black clothing ( example ). You're seeing this more and more with bands like Papa Roach , Escape the Fate and Eighteen Visions . I'm getting the feeling this is becoming the look of '80s hair metal's spawn now and we're just getting a taste of this. Hold onto your seats folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride. Especially in the case of Papa Roach, the latest promo pic says it all. A nu-metal tablescrap that should have gone away like Coal Chamber and Puddle of Mudd, how this band still has a large audience is beyond me. Instead of looking like the normal dudes they were at the height of their fame ( example pic ), now they look like clowns, especially frontman Ja

We're not the first/I hope we're not the last

Do we really need another film about punk rock? It depends on what it covers. If it's on something that hasn't been explored enough in film, then by all means yes. American Hardcore is based off of Steven Blush's oral history/reference book on American hardcore between 1981 and 1985. The book has come in handy with a lot of information for my book (ie, Gainesville's Roach Motel's recorded output, straight edge's influence, early days of Dischord), but if you're expecting American Hardcore to be like Our Band Could Be Your Life , read Our Band Could Be Your Life . Blush comes across as someone who feels that hardcore came and went solely between 1981 and 1985. The word/idea 'hardcore', just like punk, has evolved into different meanings over the years, but that's not the case with telling the story of American hardcore, at least in Blush's eyes. I argue that you can't read American Hardcore like a start-to-finish novel. Like a really g