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Showing posts from November, 2006

Hurting Each Other

I'm a MySpace addict. I check my account a half-dozen times a day for various matters, like show updates and messages from friends. I know I'm not the only addict around the people I hang out with. Yet I find it odd when people take great offense to actions that seem like a dis by their friends. In particular, declining Friend Requests and changing the order of your Top Friends list. This all may sound so silly, but it's serious business for a number of people. Late last year, I spoke with a couple friends of mine about receiving Friend Requests from people they didn't know. One said she received a request from someone that was a friend of a friend of a friend. Since she didn't know this person, she declined her request. A short while later, she met this person face to face. The encounter was awkward to say the least. This person took great offense to the supposed flat-out rejection. But I wondered why. Is the acceptance of a Friend Request symbolic of acceptance i

Happiness and cheer

With the holidays coming up, I'm slowly making my way into some holiday shopping. Nevermind the long lines, sparse parking and crabby customers, it's the Christmas music that can be annoying the most. I can tolerate hearing the classics to a certain degree (Phil Spector's Christmas album still rules, Big Crosby's stuff is still good, U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is still great, the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" tears me up inside and so on), but a number of songs are played to overkill. Doesn't matter where you are; you can't escape these songs. So in the last five years, I've decided to make my own Christmas mixes from various sources. These are songs that I have yet to be tired of. I still listen to the Vandals' Oi to the World once a holiday season. Nothing like songs titled "A Gun for Christmas," "My First Christmas as a Woman" and "Hang Myself from the Tree" to liven

Say Cheese!

Taking a little cruise down memory lane last night on YouTube , I came upon a few videos I remember seeing all over MTV in their day. Here are three of them: White Lion, "Wait" Firehouse, "Love of a Lifetime" Nelson, "After the Rain" Listening to these songs again, I don't find anything wrong with the songs themselves. They're tuneful and filled with melody. However, I can totally understand why grunge was such a great thing for me, the 7th grader in '91/'92, and the jaded rock music critic who was much older than me. The biggest thing that strikes me with these videos is how goofy-looking guys take themselves very seriously. But how can White Lion's singer consider himself a serious musician when he's constantly bending down in leather pants? How can the guys in Nelson take themselves seriously with their whole look? "That's what people did in those days" they would probably argue today. But come on, this is pure che

Living in Happy Hollow

I think it's very safe to say that last night's show at the Gypsy Tea Room was the best show I've seen all year. Cursive headlined, Jeremy Enigk played second and the Cops opened. Yes, I usually complain about paying for service fees and parking for shows like these, but this one was totally worth it. I was lucky to see Jeremy play twice as he played a five-song set at Good Records in the afternoon. As a longtime fan of his stuff, it was great to see him perform solo with only guitar and piano at his disposal. He played songs from his recent solo album, World Waits , along with a couple of prime tracks from Return of the Frog Queen (including "Explain") and a song from the United States of Leland score. Though he would play all five of these songs again in a few hours, I didn't mind. The Cops are from Seattle and their material often reminded me of Mission of Burma. Though there were no noise-filled jams, there were definitely parts that sounded like the


I'm not an expert on Robert Altman's films. I can't say I'm a big fan of his work. However, he was a filmmaker that took a lot of risks on stuff that most people wouldn't dare do. (How many films not involving Christopher Guest have you heard of where they started shooting a film with a general idea instead of a script?) He was unafraid to say stuff that a lot of people thought about but couldn't put into film. This is why it's sad to hear the news about his passing. A number of Altman's films are staples in film courses and film schools. Myself, I was first introduced via the eight-minute, one-take opening in The Player . Blasting the MTV style of fast-cutting while paying homage to Orson Welles' Touch of Evil opening shot, I was impressed. M*A*S*H came a few months later, but I didn't see another Altman flick until earlier this year. If you only look at his highest-grossing films and say that's all the worthwhile stuff he did, you're

Kingdom Come

I wrote a similar post about this earlier this year, but I want to bring up the topic again: why is modern hip hop/rap considered so . . . hip? I'm talking about the people that love the orchestral folk of Joanna Newsom, the poppy rock of Destroyer and the brutal metal of Mastodon who also love modern hip hop. I ask this as Jay-Z's "comeback" record, Kingdom Come , arrives in stores this week. Full background recap: I've never been a full-fledged fan of hip hop/rap. There were times in middle school and high school where it seemed cool, but never as cool as classic rock, grunge and metal. I couldn't understand how white suburban males found solace and inspiration in this stuff (from the music to the fashion). I couldn't understand how guys my age found Too $hort singing about prostitutes and Public Enemy singing about racial tension cool. What was so appealing with songs about gritty street life? What was so appealing about wearing Los Angeles Raiders jack

Some sharing for an early weekend

Time to share some funny/amusing stuff I've read in the last few weeks that you might enjoy: Useless Advice from Useless Men answer a question by a mother dealing with a three-year-old who has gone beyond being a Toddler Terror . My favorite line is the opening line: "As someone who does not have children, I know exactly how you should be raising your kid." Jeff gave a link to Py Korry's review of Paul Young's new album, Rock Swings . Yes, the same man that gave us such pop hits as "Everytime You Go Away" goes the crooner/swing route on songs like Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Ryan (formerly of Trickles of Reason and now of Zine -O- Phonic ) sent me a link to a local band called face to face. No, it's not the Eighties Boston band or the might Nineties pop-punk band of the same name; this one is a praise and worship band.

Paradise Lost

I've seen my fair share of documentaries. Some great, some OK and some just appalling ( Riding In Vans With Boys comes to mind). I had never seen one that left me incredibly disturbed and frightened at the same time. Besides, I always thought that was a feeling that you could only get from watching a gritty, but fictional, horror movie like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Exorcist . Documentaries don't have those jumps like the ones you find in the original Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street . Well, Paradise Lost (and especially its sequel ) have changed that perspective for me. I had seen Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger's revealing look at the making of Metallica's St. Anger in Some Kind of Monster , but I had never seen the film that put them first in the spotlight. Paradise Lost originally made headlines because it was the first time that Metallica allowed some of their songs be used in a film. Well, the focus of documentary itself made an even bigger im

Sunken Dreams

. . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead feel like they've been around for ages and well, they have. I remember reading about them some ten years ago in a Rolling Stone recap of South By Southwest. Just the name itself sounded cool. Picking up on their recorded material with their second album, Madonna , I've been lucky to see them live twice (right after Source Tags & Codes came out and a few months before Worlds Apart came out). Yet being a Trail of Dead fan for the last couple of years has become a very defensive thing with their post- Source Tags & Codes material. Source Tags & Codes , the band's 2002 major label debut, came out a time when people were convinced that dense modern rock was becoming mainstream again. Records by the Strokes, the White Stripes and At the Drive-In released in the previous two years came out to critical raves and legitimate enthusiasm by the buying public. Yet when Matt LeMay's 10.0 score of Source Tags & Code

The Universal

Up until a few months ago, the place where I started and stopped for information about movies and TV shows was the Internet Movie Database . Now, I go there less and less because Wikipedia has so much more. So I wonder, what happened to the IMDB? It used to be so packed with information but it seems so on the cusp compared to what Wikipedia has. Case in point: I watched Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and three episodes of Police Squad! last night. Curious about details about both features, I hit up the IMDB first. The page devoted to Paradise Lost is scant with information beyond some reviews and some trivia. The page devoted to Police Squad! has some nice tidbits, but feels a little lacking. Hitting up Wikipedia, I found a ton of information, especially in the case of Paradise Lost . Not only is there a page devoted to the documentary itself, but an incredibly thorough page devoted to the West Memphis 3. Police Squad! 's page is also thorough and pr

X Marks the Hope Box

In my nine years of playing shows, never have I played a show quite like the one we played Saturday night at Hailey's . Opening for Tilly and the Wall and Pony Up! , we hoped this would be a fun show. As simple as it sounds in words, it was and so much more. When I pulled up at 7:50, there was already a line of about thirty people. As the rest of us loaded in, more people kept showing up and lining up. By the time we got to play, there was roughly 100 people watching us and plenty more listening outside in line. 100 people may sound like small potatoes to some, but not for us. Plus, this was a whole different crowd. Our last show in Denton was two years ago at a diner where the audience consisted of some friends of ours and the band members in the other band on the bill. Despite some missteps (a longer, makeshift intro on one song, on-the-spot transposing in another), I felt like we did a great set. I couldn't stop smiling and singing along not because of how large the crowd

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard this One Before

Merritt has the full story on her blog about this, but here's the Cliff Notes version: a friend of ours was at a mall and kept noticing a female working at a kiosk desperately trying to have people stop and talk to her. Stopping people mid-pace, the hope was to get these people to see what she was selling. The friend walked by this girl a few times as he wandered through the area a few times. After repeated pleas, he decided to have some fun with her. Responding to her question of "Can I talk to you guys a moment?", he responded by saying with a smile on his face, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." He figured since he had walked by her a few times, along with the smile on his face, she would understand that he was joking. Instead, our friend was given looks of pure aghast. He felt sorry that she didn't catch his cajoling, but I think he did something we all wish we could do. I am not a fan of the practice of breaking into a person's personal zone for the sake of selli

As Daylight Dies

Killswitch Engage has the distinction of being a band that I had never heard before this year and has become one of my all-time favorite bands. I know statements like that are ripe for tearing down by others, but that's how strongly I feel about this Massachusetts-based quintet. The band's fourth album, As Daylight Dies , is not likely to gain the kind of kudos that Mastodon's Blood Mountain received earlier this year, but it is no less an incredibly strong effort. As Daylight Dies is the first record in the band's career where the line-up is the same as its predecessor. Shifts in the drummer, guitarist and vocalist positions did not drastically the band's sound on their previous albums; they helped the band grow into a titan. But what happens when it feels like it's grown big enough that it isn't likely to drastically go anywhere? That's what I wonder when I listen to this record. The eleven songs do not detour from what KSE fans are used to hearing:

Politics Shmolitics

Yesterday, the more pleas I saw for people to go out and vote, the more uncomfortable I felt. Plenty of the blogs I hit up everyday said something along the lines of "Vote and if you don't, don't complain." Folks, this is why I find discussing politics so alienating. There are plenty of reasons why I don't discuss politics on here or in my everyday conversations. The biggest reason is because I don't have a lot of interest in politics in the first place. By what I've seen, heard and read for the last eight years, political debates are usually pissing contests. Judging by the views I've processed, it would be easy to think that we're all slowly going downhill either on the left, right or down the middle. Yet I don't think we're going totally downhill or totally uphill. Debating the direction we're going seems futile, especially when adults start screaming at each other like they're in grade school. To my ears, political debates are s

This One's For You

Yesterday's focus was on Scott Walker. Today's focus is on Barry Manilow . Yes, the man behind such hits as "Mandy," "Can't Smile Without You" and a handful of other songs you couldn't escape in the Seventies. I grew up listening to his stuff and still like a lot of it. Yet I was appalled to see a display in a bookstore last night for his latest album, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties . Here's my reasoning: A big chunk of Manilow's audience is older than me. So I've wondered why these people want to hear re-recorded versions of songs they've heard for most of their adult lives. Following up The Greatest Songs of the Fifties , Manilow goes through versions of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," "And I Love Her" and "Strangers in the Night" on this collection. Manilow doesn't drastically change the songs' arrangements here; it sounds like he's phoning this stuff in. Sure, he's serving his

Boy Child

The music of Scott Walker has finally hit me like a pile of bricks. I've had samplings of his solo stuff and his material with the Walker Brothers over the years, but I'm now fully-engaged. This has been five years in the making. Back when Ash's Free All Angels came out in 2001, I was struck by the orchestral sample used in "Candy." It was from the Walker Brothers' rendition of "Make It Easy on Yourself," a Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune. I had never heard of the Walker Brothers, so I thought this was some obscure sample they dug up. When I read the news release that Scott Walker was producing Pulp's We Love Life , I wondered what the big deal was. Who was this guy and what was so great about him? I got around to hearing some Walker Brothers while I worked at an oldies station and I liked what I heard. However, the word about Scott Walker's solo material was that it was even better. My interest was considerably raised upon reading Scott Pla

American Hardcore

After a handful of months of watching the trailer and reading reviews about it (one here and another here ), American Hardcore finally hit Dallas this weekend. After seeing it today, I'm very safe in saying that I prefer American Hardcore the film over American Hardcore: A Tribal History , the book in which it's based on. American hardcore itself has only really been talked about in small doses in books and films. Michael Azerrad delves into it quite well in Our Band Could Be Your Life , as do films like Another State of Mind and The Decline of Western Civilization , but there was an even bigger story to be told. When I read American Hardcore: A Tribal History for book research (how can you talk about post-hardcore without knowing what hardcore was?), I felt like I was reading an encyclopedia with narrow-minded/catty exposition courtesy of the author, Steven Blush. While the quotes and stories are really cool and the information is incredibly thorough, the book got very re

End Hits

Kyle and Josh have an interesting discussion over at the AV Club: does rock and roll ever forget? They're talking about an artist that has an appealing creative quality for a while, but then it seems like the quality is gone. To further illustrate their point, Kyle quotes a line by Abe Simpson: "I used to be with it, but then they changed what 'it' was. Now, what I'm with isn't it, and what's 'it' seems weird and scary to me." The main example they use is Ian MacKaye. MacKaye has made a wide variety of rock music since 1979 and has been pretty consistent. The Slinkees/Teen Idles and Minor Threat played fast punk rock, Embrace was not as fast and a little darker/moodier, Fugazi was arty and jazzy and his current band, the Evens, is softer and melodic. Does he still have the proverbial 'it'? I think so, but I can understand why people may still play 13 Song s more than Get Evens . My opinion on the Evens is this: their music is worthwhi

Ghouls Night Out

Our third Halloween passed us last night without a hitch. Jason and I, along with our friend (and new neighbor) Ryan, gave out 90% of the candy we had in 45 minutes . We thought we were prepared; we had twelve bags total and wanted to save some for our big party this weekend. Well, we packed it in early and we didn't turn anybody down, but our street was packed once again. Police were directing traffic and everything. Pure insanity, right? Not really. Just a lot of people coming and going. I will to admit to playing favorites with passing out my favorite candy. As a fan of Reese's white chocolate cups, I handed them out to kids that had really cool costumes. One dressed as Spider-Man, one dressed as Jason Vorhees, one dressed in the ghost Scream costume and one dressed as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. Everybody else got KitKat, M&Ms, Almond Joy, Snickers, Butterfinger and regular Reese's peanut butter cups. What we have left is a plastic Jack-O-Lantern