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Showing posts from January, 2007

The Ballad of Johnny Burma

Props to Eric for giving a heads-up on the recent DVD release of Not a Photograph , a documentary on Boston's beloved Mission of Burma . Taking in a viewing a few days ago, here are my thoughts. First and foremost: I'm not a huge fan of Burma's work, but I'm a fan. Though last year's The Obliterati is really good, the Signals, Calls and Marches EP is still my favorite. That said, I wasn't watching the documentary in hopes this would be a concert film. I honestly wanted to know how in the hell did this band get back together. Based on what I've read in Michael Azerrad 's Our Band Could Be Your Life and interviews with the band post-reunion, their break-up was not an ugly ordeal. If anything, it was a sad one spurred by vocalist/guitarist Roger Miller's tinnitus. Not a Photograph fills in the gaps as far as what each of the three main band members have been up to. Miller has been working on music, bassist/vocalist Clint Conley has worked in TV, a

We speak in different voices

I make no secret about how much I love At the Drive-In. I make no secret about how influential this band was in its day and is still influential. Every time I see a video for a band featuring five skinny guys in tight clothing, singing songs with shouting/singing vocals and noodly guitar lines, I revert back to those guys from Hell Paso. Yes, that band who was seriously considered a shoe-in for rock royalty but is now thought of as a "Oh well, they broke up too soon" band. Since '01, many bands have (knowingly or unknowingly) aped the formula At the Drive-In did so well (which can be traced back to a number of bands on Gravity Records). So when I heard a song (and saw its video ) from a highly-touted young band, I couldn't help think they owe some sort of debt. But this band supposedly has an "it" factor. After giving the song a few listens, I'm still asking myself: what's so great about Saosin ? I might be reading into this, but I wonder what their

Friday Satire

Time for some more satire . . . Man Appalled at the Abundance of Bum Notes in Oldies Music It had been a few years since Marc Griggs listened to an oldies radio station. A regular listener of hot talk, modern rock and classic rock, he was shocked to hear a number of songs on 97.4 the Drive with bum notes, botched drum fills and some off-key vocals. “I could’t believe it,” Griggs, 47, said Tuesday after his twelve-year-old daughter turned the radio dial to the Drive. “Music is supposed to entertain me without making any mistakes.” A number of songs Griggs heard, like the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Sonny & Cher’s “The Beat Goes On” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” infuriated him. “There’s a really noticeable guitar hiccup at the end of the ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ Cher sings most of ‘The Beat Goes On’ in a different key and the drummer isn’t perfectly in sync when the third verse of ‘Sound of Silence’ starts.” Compared to the modern music Griggs enjoys, from Nickelb

Look through the classifieds

In the last month or so, the search for band members has been brought up in some conversations I've had. Kyle 's new band Sound on Sound is looking for a bass player and Ryan is looking to start a new band. In talking with both of them, amusing/odd stories about the responses to "[musician] wanted" ads were brought up. If you've played in a band or wanted to start one, chances are good you have some funny/frustrating stories. Here are a few of mine in recent memory. Four years ago, the 11:30s were down a bassist and a guitarist. Our fill-in bassist couldn't play with us anymore due to scheduling and our second guitarist moved back to San Antonio. Thinking I could keep the band alive as a trio, I posted a flyer up at Good Records for a bassist. I got a couple of legit responses, but both of the guys didn't return phone calls or e-mails after showing initial interest. (Come on, is it that tough to say you're not interested? I don't do subtle.) One

Can't You Hear Me Knockin'

I've received quite a bit of positive feedback from people who saw the Rolling Stones Hoot Night last Friday. Danny over at Boca Tinta has a great review of the whole show and said some very kind words about my playing. I left a comment ("All those years of fearing I would be thrown out of bands because I didn’t hit hard enough have worked!") and I thought it would be cool to share why I said that. I think it's a pretty funny story. Back in high school, my first real band (as in, we played shows and wrote original songs) started out by playing a lot of Nirvana covers. We played "Drain You," "Rape Me," "Territorial Pissings" and "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" and we even covered a Wipers tune that Nirvana covered ("D-7"). Our singer/guitarist was a huge fan of Nirvana and had a ton of rare Nirvana stuff on tape and on CD (thanks to those numerous Outcesticide bootlegs). I didn't know how far his fanaticism about Ni

A Place for Friends (. . . And Cam-Whores)

Over on Keith's blog, he has a post on a recent checking of his MySpace account: lots of Friend Requests from "cam-whores." If you're on MySpace, chances are very good you've received a Friend Request from these people. More often than not, they're fake spam profiles featuring some young female jailbait wanting to "meet new people." I am not bombarded by these on a daily basis, but I get a few every week. The delete button is always hit with these requests and the volume of requests has yet to be a problem. But I wonder when I see a number of single female friends of mine who have their profiles marked as "Private" (meaning it's not viewable to people other than the ones on their Friends pages). Furthermore, I have yet to encounter a male's page listed as "Private." Are single women just overloaded with requests from male cam-whores and their ilk? Is the quantity so large that women have to go into hiding? Technically, I&

You better stop and look around

Playing two shows in one weekend is way more than I normally play. On top of that, both shows consisted of totally different sets and band members. So this is why I'm running a little slow today (yesterday's muddy kickball game also has something to do with this). As previewed in my previous post, I was a part of the Hoot Night at Club Dada on Friday. Covering a handful of Rolling Stones songs ("Paint It, Black," "Mother's Little Helper," "Ruby Tuesday," "Heart of Stone," "Angie," "Let's Spend the Night Together," "Get Off Of My Cloud" and "Honky Tonk Women"), our little makeshift band got the crowd hopping. I had never played to a dancing audience before, but it was fun. I give a lot of thanks to Ryan for getting this ball rolling for us. What was peculiar about the other acts was how they reworked Rolling Stones songs and how certain people in the audience treated them. The Naptime Shake

On With the Show

Some time ago on this very blog, I shared my frustration of drummers who play with only one cymbal. I'm talking drummers who have this notion that one cymbal can cover all sorts of bases when it comes to crashing and riding on a beat. I've seen and heard one-too-many drummers with this set-up and they drop beats and accents in the process. It's annoying to be frank. So why in the world am I playing with one cymbal tonight? I have some very good reasons. Tonight is another "Hoot Night" at Club Dada . The last Hoot Night revolved around songs by the Beach Boys. Tonight's revolves around the Rolling Stones. Ryan from Zine-O-Phonic approached me about putting a band together for this and I agreed. Along with members of Blackheart Society and the Felons, we have a handful of Stones covers to play. In learning these songs on the drums in the last few weeks, I couldn't help but notice that Stones drummer Charlie Watts is very conservative with his cymbal hits. S

Yesterday's Papers

Jim DeRogatis 's review of the new "reality" show I'm From Rolling Stone had me with its headline: I was once 'From Rolling Stone,' and it wasn't anything like MTV's new show . DeRogatis's time at Rolling Stone has been well-documented elsewhere (he has a whole chapter devoted to it in his book, Milk It! ) and the sour grapes are still there, as evidenced by his review. I have yet to watch the show, but I get the sense it's like so many "reality" shows: expose and embarrass people by tricking them into thinking they are gaining something while losing so much in the process. People want to see the show itself and (more often than not) could give a rat's ass about what happens to these people after the season (or series) is over. This is not the kind of stuff I call entertaining, but this brings up an interesting, albeit whole other topic: why the hell am I still reading Rolling Stone ? Say whatever you like about who's cover

'Cause the good ole' days weren't always good and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems

A screening of Dazed and Confused at some point during the high school years is a rite of passage for many. More often than not, a trip to the local record store to pick up its soundtrack happens in the next few days. I never had that experience, but I don't feel any regret. If anything, I'm glad I saw it when I was older and away from that world. In my case, I did not see the film until I was well out of college. I heard a little about it in high school; it was supposedly all about hanging out and smoking pot and it was so cool. If memory serves me correctly, none of my friends smoked pot. The classmates that did were not the kind of people I hung out with or wanted to hang out with. So why in the world would I want to see a film that's filled all these mellow pot-smokers? (That's probably the best excuse I can give you. I should also add there was never a point when a friend had a VHS copy and suggested we watch it one night. I wasn't about to go out and rent it

These glory days can take their toll, so catch me now before I turn to gold

I like hitting up a bookstore or two every few weeks. Though I have a stack of books left unread (Nick Mason's bio of Pink Floyd, High Fidelity , and a bio on the Creation are just some of them), I'm always on the lookout for something else. Depending on how bad I want to read it, I may bring it home and start reading it immediately. But in my search for finding those kinds of books, I stumble across ones that make me scratch my head. In the last year, I've come across two authorized books written by legendary people in the industry that sound really intriguing: Ed McMahon's Here's Johnny and Hal Blaine's Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew: The Story of the World's Most Recorded Musician . These guys have been around for a handful of decades in show business and what all do they say in their biographies? Not much. I have yet to read either book start to finish, but after skimming through them, I wonder why they are so thin. McMahon's book is 240 pages, an

Said the Spider to the Fly

I knew going into a screening of Kill Your Idols last night that a certain percentage of the film would consist of back-biting comments. Still, I wanted to see it in hopes I could get something out of it. I couldn't have foreseen being so annoyed with certain aspects of the film that I would go home and spend four hours working on my book's prologue. It's not like Kill Your Idols is a bad film; I just find non-stop complaining with little acknowledgement of hope very frustrating. Kill Your Idols ' 75-minute runtime is split between showcasing New York's original no wave scene and a handful of modern bands that come from its influence. People like Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Lydia Lunch and Alan Vega are interviewed as well as members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and A.R.E. Weapons. Basic backgrounds on the forefathers were nicely done, but when it came to what some of its forefathers think about today's crop of bands, I became very agitated. Why the agitatio

How It Feels to Be Something . . . Off

Overall, I've really enjoyed Apple's upgrades with iTunes 7.0. That gapless playback option makes live records/bootlegs enjoyable to listen to. However, the latest snag comes from something I've found to be really funny: totally different artwork sometimes comes up when you select a track to listen to. For example, after ripping four tracks from Weezer's debut album, The Blue Album , the artwork that pops up is from the band's third album, The Green Album . Both records are listed as self-titled, so it makes sense for the mix-up. But here's what makes things odder: after ripping the title track from Sunny Day Real Estate's How It Feels to Be Something On , the artwork from the band's Live record comes up. Pure catalog mix-up, right? Well, here's an even stranger thing: after I ripped a couple of tracks from Neil Young's Greatest Hits , the artwork for Blondie's Greatest Hits came up. I gotta wonder: how do things like this get mixed-up? This


After months of hearing mostly positive reviews, I finally saw Idiocracy last night. Paired with Office Space and Beavis and Butt-head Do America , it was a Mike Judge triple-feature. Watching them back-to-back-to-back, I must say that Idiocracy is worthy of Judge's previous two films. Luke Wilson plays Joe Bauers, an average guy who is frozen for 500 years along with a prostitute named Rita (played by Maya Rudolph). After waking up in 2505, they find America has devolved so much that they are the smartest people on the planet. The effects of corporate takeovers and mass reproduction of nitwits, America is now Uhhmerica. Joe and Rita try to find a time machine but run into a lot of obstacles along the way. This isn't a stark look at the future like Blade Runner or Fahrenheit 451 . However, this isn't some stupid look at stupid people. Similar to his approach with Beavis and Butt-head , Judge makes stupidity funny. The humor is very deadpan and a tad dark, but not so dar

Callum Robbins benefit(s)

More updates on the continued support of Callum Robbins: Two benefit shows are happening this month: one is at North Six in Brooklyn and the other one is at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Here are all the details: Friday, January 26th at North Six Ted Leo (solo) Medications The Forms Last Letters Doors at 8. Show at 9. $15. Saturday, January 27th at the Empty Bottle (surprise special guest) Chin Up Chin Up Bobby Conn The Life and Times Red Eyed Legends Show at 8pm. $15. Special thanks to for the heads-up. Stay tuned for more benefits.

Parents Just Don't Understand

And now, time for some satire . . . Blogger’s Parents Don’t Understand What’s So Great About the Music He Writes About DALLAS -- Bill and Linda Pearson are still trying to understand what’s so incredible about Grizzly Bear. And Joanna Newsom. And Girl Talk. The reason? Their son, Greg, has written about these acts, along with hundreds of others, for the past year on his blog, the Employment Pages. Mr. and Mrs. Pearson, 58 and 56 respectively, remember a time when there was no Internet, MP3s or iPods. “We came from an era where music was something you lived with,” Bill says, “and there were no fears about exceeding bandwidth or hard drive space.” Greg, 28, says his parents just don’t understand the mode so they don’t understand the music he praises. “Joanna Newsom’s voice melts my brain,” he says. “Joni Mitchell just doesn’t do it for me.” Last year, there was a brief turning point: Greg wanted to borrow all of his parents’ Fleetwood Mac and America LPs. “With Midlake’s The Trials of Va

American Hardcore - the DVD

According to their MySpace page , American Hardcore will be released on DVD February 20th. Some 90 minutes of extras will be on there, including deleted scenes and full-length performances. If you want a well-done, thorough, yet straight-to-the-point documentary about American hardcore punk circa '80-'85, this is the one. I highly recommend it.

Ache Delay

My recent New Year's Eve festivities were like the last two New Year's: dancing away at the Smoke . This time, I danced for about four hours straight. Stomping around on the hard floor, I knew there would be some aches and pains the next day. But I wasn't prepared for what happened the next day. I woke up in the morning not hurting at all. I felt fine . . . until the afternoon. After sitting at my desk for a few minutes, I got up and my calves were sore. Really sore. As in, hurting-to-walk-sore. So I wonder, has anyone ever had this experience of ache delay? Back in college, I frequently went to the on-campus gym. I ran on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes and lifted a lot of weights. I was sore immediately after I was done and remained sore for a few days. So I'm well aware that if I do intense physical stuff with my body, there will be aches and pains. But they're good kinds of aches and pains. As much as I am prone to avoid matters where physical pain is a result,

Me, Myself and I

I have no idea what makes a random YouTube clip go viral. Most of the time, if it's something so funny, bizarre and/or awkward, you have to share it with friends immediately. Those friends find something of value and pass it along and so on. The passing becomes so fast that right when you want to show it to some friends, they've all seen it. So I was surprised to see this clip (found on Defamer via Junkiness ) be passed over yesterday. It's a promotional video from 1988 centered around actor Corey Haim called "Me, Myself and I." If you have nine minutes and thirty seconds to spare and want to feel better about your life, check this one out.

Todos Los Dias

I joked on another blog about blogging everyday, even on holidays. The deal is, I'm amazed at how certain blogs are updated every single day of the year. Even more, people like David at Largehearted Boy and Frank at Chrome Waves have their daily updates online by 9am. So I have a few questions: How do people go about this? Do they always have a computer with Internet access at their disposal 24/7? How much time do they spend blogging? Blogging is important for me to do, but I can't do it everyday. I tried blogging every single day last year and I stretched myself too thin. Looking into the new year, I think I might cut back on blogging so I can finish my book. I live a rather solitary life, but I can't spend it all in front of a computer. The deal is, a number of these bloggers don't have solitary lives. Some are married (with or without children), some are in committed relationships, a lot of them frequently travel around the country (or the world) and most of them

High Fidelity?

This was posted a few months ago, but I'm finally getting around to writing my take on it. Here's the gist: with the iPod and various other MP3 players becoming more of the standard with listening to recorded music, is audio fidelity not a priority anymore? "Back in the day, high fidelity was a big deal, a significant aspect of the listening experience; any serious music fan was, to some extent, an audiophile," Michael wrote. "That's all gone by the boards. Now, music fans walk around with those awful standard iPod headphones – they don't care a jot about frequency response or stereo imaging, they only care about the convenience, portability and perhaps prestige of the player." So that makes me ask: how come we live in a culture that prefers the pristine sight and sound of HDTV and DVD, but doesn't seem to care about audio fidelity of music? Are we just really accepting that computer-based stuff (ie, MP3s, YouTube videos) aren't up to snuff,

The Journey Continues . . .

This piece of news doesn't surprise me. Here's the statement: JOURNEY NAMES JEFF SCOTT SOTO OFFICIAL NEW LEAD SINGER December 19, 2006 -- Jeff Scott Soto has been officially named the new lead singer of Journey. He had been filling in for Steve Augeri, who had to leave the U.S. tour with Def Leppard shortly after it began on June 23 due to illness. “We are so grateful to Steve for all the years he dedicated to Journey,” says Journey in a joint statement. “We thank Steve for all his hard work and we wish him only the best in his future endeavors. Over the past few months, we’ve come to realize that Jeff has proven himself above and beyond that he can sing the hell out of our songs and we’re happy to officially welcome him as part of the family. We’re excited to start a new chapter with Jeff and we’re excited about what the future may bring.” Steve Augeri states: “Singing for Journey these last eight years have been the most challenging and the most rewarding of my career.

The latest from J. Robbins

J. posted another update on the fund and his son, Callum: 12/31/06 Goodbye to a year of extremes. If this is the last thing I will write here in 2006, I have to say that the degree of goodwill, kindness and support my family has experienced in just the past couple of weeks has had a huge impact on us, and it is helping in very concrete terms to make a way forward for our son Callum. He will have his first adaptive high chair/play chair in January, one that supports his back and trunk and will help him make the most of his limited arm mobility. We have to pay for this piece of gear up front, and then insurance decides what if anything they will reimburse. It has not been easy to get my head around the idea of my family as a charity ... but before Kim and Bill put up their page for Callum, we wouldn't have been able to put the money down for this chair, and now thanks to them, we can. This amazes me. Even in a year that brought us a challenge we'll spend the rest of our lives tr

It Still Moves

Back in 2002, Goose and I saw Guided By Voices at Trees. It was an amazing show, albeit the things you'd expect at a GBV show. Bob Pollard bounced around the stage drinking beer after beer. They played something like 40 songs in over two hours. Nate Farley was so drunk by the end of it that Tim Tobias was telling him which chords to play. This show ended up being the only time that Goose or I would see GBV. It was also the first time we ever heard of My Morning Jacket . At this point, MMJ was a relatively unknown band with two proper records out. Following the end of their tour with Guided By Voices, they would tour with Doves, become one of Dave Grohl's favorite new bands and sign with RCA Records' ATO imprint. Since then, the band has released two stellar albums, It Still Moves and Z , and has toured all over. I am happy to see this promising band deliver and grow. Their DVD/CD set, Okonokos , serves as a reminder as to why I love this band. While the two-disc CD is goo