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Showing posts from October, 2006

What can I do?

With yesterday's post still fresh in my mind, I think about how far DIY translates. For a lot of people, doing it yourself is seen as an exclusive thing with making music. You know, start your own band, write your own songs, record your own songs and book your own shows. Well, since that pile of shingles fell onto my head in March '04, I realized how much further I can apply the idea of "If you don't like this, do it yourself." As I've said before, I didn't like how the mainstream media picked up and jumbled the story of post-hardcore/emo, so I started writing a book and a blog. While writing the book has been a little tougher than blogging, it's not like this is advanced rocket science. Something like blogging is easy and free, so what's holding people back? I believe motivation is a major factor here. People have their reasons (there's no time to blog, there's nothing interesting to say) and they are valid, but it's not like bloggi

History Lesson - Pt. II

When I was in Chicago last October, I noticed some posters at Beat Kitchen advertising shows where local bands covered well-known, national bands. Thinking this was a cool concept, I wondered if these kinds of shows ever happened in Dallas, Fort Worth or Denton. Well, fast forward to this past Saturday, Dan's Silverleaf in Denton hosted "Our Band Could Be Your Band," a tribute to the bands featured in Michael Azerrad's book, Our Band Could Be Your Life . Since there are thirteen bands featured, this could have been a day-long concert. Instead, the show began at 8:45 and it had to end before the bar closed at 2am. So, each band had only ten minutes to cover an average of three songs. This was a great set-up, but I wish the bands had more time to play as precious minutes were eaten up by a babbling MC (more on him later) and babbling gushers introducing each band and reading a passage from the book. It was great to hear stuff from the book be read aloud, but it got old

I Second That Emotion

I have the attitude that the more books there are on one subject offering different viewpoints, the better. In the case of Nineties pop-punk, post-hardcore and that dreaded 'e' word, books are scant with information. Andy Greenwald's Nothing Feels Good does very little to describe the history of this era as that was not the crux of his book. While I continue working on Post , I want to let you know about a couple of books that are scheduled to come out in the near-future that touch on this era. First of all, Marc Spitz , co-author of We Got the Neutron Bomb: the Untold Story of L.A. Punk , releases his next book, Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times and Music of Green Day , next month. Alternative Press recently published a sampling from the book and it looks very promising. Green Day's story is definitely something that interests me, so hopefully this will fill some holes in the supposed black hole of music's history between '94 and '01. S

The Bear Chronicles

Credit goes to fellow friend/blogger Steve as he gave me the heads-up on last night's show at the Cavern featuring February Chorus , Green River Ordinance and Oliver Future . All three bands have ties to my previous life as a Fort Worth resident, so last night's show was a mini-reunion of sorts. February Chorus features Brandon Lea from Flickerstick, a band that I've always liked but have never seen live. The band also features a former bandmate of mine named Taylor (we once pulled double-duty as the rhythm section for the 11:30s and Voigt) and Jordan formerly of the Audiophiles (a band that shared stages with the 11:30s and Voigt). I had not seen these guys for at least three years, so it was good to check in with what they've been up to. I don't know if February Chorus is a side-project or not, but judging by what I saw, I'm hoping that they're not. I like Brandon's vocals, so I was pretty set in that department. But what sold me were the shoegazer

It's Not Over

I've talked about face to face at great length before (some posts are here and here ), but I want to talk about them again today. Last week saw the release of Shoot the Moon: the Essential Collection on DVD. Two discs filled with a documentary on the band, (most of) their videos and their final live show in 2004. Though I will always hold this band close to my heart, this felt like a great way of putting the band to rest. I don't mean that in a morbid way, but a nice capping off. face to face was a band that was very well-known in their day. The wild popularity of Green Day and the Offspring in 1994 turned a lot of people (especially suburban teenagers like myself) onto what all else was out there in the pop-punk world. I was introduced to face to face via a segment on the band on MTV's The Week in Rock . Covering the band's recent matinee show at CBGB's, the interview sold me on them. At a time when pop-punk was all about being bratty and juvenile, the guys in

When I was a young boy

Despite all the coverage My Chemical Romance has received in the last few years, I've only heard a couple of their songs. I've heard "I'm Not OK (I Promise)" a few times due to the fact that it's on a free DVD I received with a magazine. I've heard "Helena" only once -- it came on at a local bar Jason and I frequent. Had Jason not said that it was My Chemical Romance, I would have never noticed. The band's third album, The Black Parade , arrives in stores today. Though a trip to the record store is on the schedule for today, I won't be picking this one up. I'll definitely be picking up Sparta's Threes and hope that I can find Converge's No Heroes with relative ease, but why no love for My Chem? Simply, I don't really get a charge out of these guys. But there's more to this. If I was younger and didn't know a lot about what all is really out there in the music world, I'd be all over this record. A few weeks

It's Hard to Know

Here's a little snippet from POST from the still-in-progress Hot Water Music chapter: Then there’s “It’s Hard to Know,” featuring a call and response with the immortal line of “live your heart and never follow.” The interesting thing is, this part was not in the song when they entered the studio. This wasn’t the sole empty spot; Schreifels recalls other songs having entire instrumental parts with no lyrics. He urged the band to write more lyrics, so more lyrics were written on the spot in the studio. “They would go in the other room and they’d just come back with some insanely inspirational thing that I’ve seen people just losing their mind to,” Schreifels remembers. “They really understood how to tap into people’s enthusiasm, hopefulness and rebellious spirit in a real positive way.” In the case of the call-and-response in “It’s Hard to Know,” “I was like, ‘Dude, you can’t have this instrumental section. You gotta have something there. And we gotta have some back and forth or s

Alive or Just Breathing

When you put something out there for the public, it's tough to escape it. Be it a record, movie, painting or book, it will stick around. If you're a part of something that inspires people for years, be prepared that you will probably be asked about it for the rest of your life. In the last few days, I've run across a couple of people in print that have two different views on this. This week's edition of the AV Club features an interview with Pixies frontman/solo artist, Frank Black. Here's the part that really caught my attention: AVC: Writers often use Pixies as a point of reference for your new albums, instead of discussing them in terms of your other solo work, which seems strange. How do you react to that? FB: It's not weird, because Pixies are a big reference point, and writers assume they have a stupid audience that isn't going to understand the article unless there's some catchphrase they're going to recognize. And that's okay. It'

Do the stars conspire to kill us off with loneliness?

Credit goes to the Wee Demon for pointing out Sam Roberts' article in the New York Times about how the number of married households in the U.S. is now a minority. Here are the stats from the survey taken in 2005: 55.2 million out of the U.S.'s 111.1 million households were made up of married couples (with or without children). That said, Roberts added this: The numbers by no means suggests marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry. But marriage has been facing more competition. A growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners, and the potential social and economic implications are profound. So, what does this mean to me? Well, the results accurately sum up what I see on a regular basis with the people I hang out with. Taking an inventory of my friends and the acquaintances I normally run into at shows

How It Feels to Be Something On

Book update time! As of last night, here's the latest with the nuts and bolts. The Sunny Day Real Estate chapter is halfway through completion. The Dischord chapter is almost to the Fugazi section (in other words, it's near the halfway point). The Hot Water Music chapter is 3/4ths done. The epilogue and prologue are a bunch of ideas that may or may not end up in the final cut. All of the other chapters are in a spot where they are ready to be put under a microscope. The question of "What's taking so long?" appears again. Though I have a lot of time to commit to working on the book these days, I spend a lot more time researching than actually writing and editing. With researching Sub Pop and the Nineties alternative rock explosion for the Sunny Day Real Estate chapter, I've gone over parts of books like Come As You Are , Our Band Could Be Your Life and Loser: The Real Seattle Story and Doug Pray's documentary, Hype! Why all this research on something s

C is for Cookie

The Cookie Monster has been on my mind as of late. He's always been one of my favorite Sesame Street characters, right up there with Bert & Ernie, Big Bird, Elmo, Grover and Oscar the Grouch. I don't have any complaints about him. Everything -- from his big floppy neck to his blue fur to his bouncing eyeballs -- is great. For a one-note character, I find him so endearing, but why? A big no-no in script-writing is making one-note characters. Sure, plenty of writers sculpt one-note characters and critics tear them apart (see reviews of pretty much every splatter/slasher flick post- Halloween ). With the Cookie Monster, all he wants are cookies even if he also has fruit and vegetables in his diet. No matter what the sketch is, chances are good that there will be some scarfing of a cookie or a few cookies. After 20+ years of watching these kinds of predictable sketches, I never get tired of the Cookie Monster. What's been so funny about taking the piss out of metal band

There I stand neath the Marquee Moon

With rain in the forecast for most of the weekend, I'm glad both of the outdoor shows I saw to went off without a hitch. Friday night was spent at the Amsterdam Bar with the Bracelets , Pegasus Now and the Happy Bullets . Saturday night was spent with Moonlight Towers at Lee Harvey's. I noticed with both shows how the bands sounded so much better because they were outdoors. I wondered how this was possible. Aren't outdoor shows supposed to be all thin-sounding? With Friday's show being Andrea's final show for a while with the Bullets, I really wanted to come out. It didn't matter that the State Fair was wrapping up for the night one block away and parking was difficult -- I had to go. Some of my favorite songs feature her on lead vocals and I don't know if they'll perform them in her absence. So, after enjoying the Bracelets (whom I previously saw at Rubber Gloves sitting in front of the stage with only acoustic guitars and no mics), I was treated to

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Continuing my appreciation of modern metal, I think about a key difference between today's metal and Eighties metal: the singing. These days, it's common to find a band with a singer that can sing clearly, scream his guts out and make grunts like the Cookie Monster all in the same song. What's very uncommon these days is the high-pitched alto that was a key part of high profile bands (like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest) and lesser bands (like Grim Reaper) in the Eighties. There are plenty of bands today that still use this approach, but I'm not hearing that in bands like Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, All That Remains and As I Lay Dying. This is a part of the sense of relief I have with these bands. From a hindsight perspective, I wonder why the mixing of opera-like vocals with riffin' guitars and pounding drums was so prevalent in the Eighties. Yes, heavy metal has plenty of ties to classical music, so maybe that's a key with the opera angle, but metal is (and wi

Said the Spider to the Fly

Chris from Gorilla vs. Bear addressed Rolling Stone 's recent graph/article that pokes fun at "how the geeks who control the music blogosphere destroy the bands they love." Claiming that Chris's raves about the Cold War Kids' show at the Gypsy Tea Room in June was the high point of their career, Chris responded: Does anyone else think that mainstream publications are starting to give blogs way too much credit (and by extension, way too much blame) by overestimating the impact that the blogosphere has on a band's career? Here's what I wonder: how come bloggers are treated like they live in a land far, far away from the where "traditional" and "regular" critics live in? I've discussed this topic before on this blog (which celebrates two years today), but once again, some more ideas have come into my head. When I read this graph, I feel like bloggers are being pissed on for doing something that critics in print publications do all

Hello, Control

I'm still a big fan of iTunes . I haven't tried Napster , Urge or eMusic as I've been perfectly happy with Apple's program ever since I downloaded it two years ago. However, an annoying new feature has come up with its latest version, 7.0. Whenever you pull up your music library, a sidebar taking up 3/4ths of the screen appears plugging the iTunes Music Store. Why is this an annoyance? Well, first and foremost, since you can't close the sidebar, you can't escape it. I believe a music library is a private collection, a spot away from the music store. So what's the need for constant advertisements and plugs? To provide a better visual, let me describe what I see whenever I pull up a song in my iTunes library. When I listen to "This is a Fire Door Never Leave Open" by the Weakerthans, I see a graphic for Left and Leaving , the album that it comes from (and available in the iTunes Music Store), along with a list of the Weakerthans' other albums

I'm not crazy

With my review of George Romero's The Crazies now up on Doomed Moviethon , I have a few things to add. So far, this is the only Romero flick I've seen without zombies in them. The Crazies is not his best work, but it's definitely not something you should pass up if you're a fan of his best work. I'm a firm believer that Dawn of the Dead is his best film, but the road to making that film required some trial and error with his films before it. In the ten years between his zombie flicks, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead , Romero directed four films, worked on a short-lived TV show and made a documentary on OJ Simpson. The four films, There's Always Vanilla , Season of the Witch , The Crazies and Martin , were not widely-released in theaters and made little returns at the box office. Night of the Living Dead had become a midnight movie favorite around that time, but there wasn't a large carryover to his new films. This was the Seventies, a t

Altered Beast

Friday night was devoted to avoiding the Texas-OU crowd filling up the bars in Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville. Instead of staying at home, I decided to hit up the Double Wide to see my friends in Blood on the Moors . Showing up at the insanely early time of 9pm, there was plenty of parking and not a lot of people in the venue. Dodging that bullet, I proceeded to have a great time at the show, but it definitely was a different kind of experience for me. I can't remember the last time that I saw hard rock bands play with a sense of flair but with a lot of fun and irony too. When it comes to what is considered hard rock (head-bangin', but not total fuzzy sludge), I've seen one-too-many bands in the last few years act like they're all important while they proceed to not rock. They don't act like they're up there for a good time -- they're up there for a serious cleansing of their souls. In direct contrast, the three bands I saw onstage Friday were having a go

Tommy can you hear me?

Merritt continues to openly express her love for pants on Suck It Trebek. I don't know why she likes pants so much that she wants a T-shirt that says "Pants," but this makes me think of a question that I've asked for years: why are Tommy Hilfiger 's jeans so important that there are T-shirts devoted to advertising them? Maybe this is a question perfect for Useless Advice from Useless Men , but let me explain some more. A few years ago, I saw a guy my age wear a T-shirt that said "Tommy Jeans." To be funny, I wondered if his pants said "Tommy Shirts." That was a no-go, so I've always wondered why the jeans, more than anything else Hilfiger puts out, are worth this kind of advertising. Sure, I've seen a number a T-shirts that have logos of Lee, Levi's, Dickie's and Docker's, but no big plug for their jeans. Is Tommy Hilfiger, the man who designs such apparel, trying to make his jeans stick out more than all the other clothe

Fixation on the Darkness

Chris over at Culture Bully has a great discussion/review of Mastodon's Blood Mountain . Reminding me of the my recent post about hipster metal, Chris nails something on the head that I didn't even touch on: Metal is and will always be somewhat inaccessible to the vast majority of listeners, and there within lies the difference between it and any number of albums that have given foundation for bandwagon-jumpers through the ages. How true, but why are a number of critics now warming to modern metal? The music has definitely not softened or become something totally different, so what gives? Maybe this is along the lines of when I heard all sorts of praise for Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come . Hearing only a few tracks, I wondered what was so great about something that came across as a retread of Nine Inch Nails and hardcore. Upon hearing the record the whole way through, I "got" it and have continued to love it ever since. Echoing Chris's statement, I&#

What's to get?

Yesterday, a number of blogs and message board posts praised Pitchfork's "review" of Jet's new album, Shine On . What was the line used over and over again? Best Review Ever (as posted on a number of sites like We Shot JR , Good Hodgkins , the SOMB ). What was so great about it? Well, instead of a rating or any text, it's just a clip of a chimp drinking its own urine. Tee-hee, haa-haa, right? Not to me. Pitchfork has had its fair share of intentionally funny reviews, like Nick Sylvester's write-up on Audioslave's Out of Exile . Personally, I don't get a strong sense of satisfaction with these kinds of reviews. I make no bones about how goofy terrible bands like Panic! At the Disco and Hawthorne Heights are. Yet if I'm going to take the time to talk down about them, I can't just post a clip or snarky comment and expect people to get what I mean. I remember a review that ran in Guitar World years ago for Iron Maiden's live album, A Real

Move Out, Move On

In the broadcasting field, "blowing up" a station means that a station underwent a format change. Blowing up stations is nothing new, but it still catches people off-guard. Why stations change formats is usually for various reasons, be it ratings or something else. From the listener's perspective, I have yet to run into someone that was incredibly thankful that a station flipped. More often than not, I hear about people annoyed about such change. My 18-year-old cousin still complains about how the hard rock station in Dallas, the Eagle, flipped formats to Lite Rock a few years ago who then flipped to Tejano. I get the feeling that plenty of people pulling up 107.5 FM today will be wondering what happened to its smooth jazz format. No longer the Smooth Jazz 107.5 The Oasis, it's now MOViN' 107.5. Instead of Dave Koz, Chris Botti and Kenny G, 107.5 now plays 50 Cent, Prince, Marvin Gaye and Will Smith. I'm sure my fellow blogging friend Kev will be happy to kn

In convenience

Chris 's wedding over the weekend was fantastic. A lot of fun and good times were had and a lot of ideas came into my head. The reception was long and eventful with a lot of food and dancing, but a very strange sight happened during one of my trips to the bathroom. Being on a Saturday, there were plenty of college football games, along with crucial baseball games, played on this day. I heard about the Cardinals-Astros game, along with the Baylor and Texas A&M games, in various areas of the reception hall. Not being up or really into sports, I figured all this stuff was on par with people not really up on music listening to me talking about music. In other words, it's like hearing a discussion in a foreign language, but it's all in English. You know English is being spoken, but it's definitely not the kind of words that you're used to hearing. That said, I stopped in my tracks when I saw a man dialing his cell phone while taking a leak at a urinal. What was the