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Showing posts from April, 2007

Denton Rock City

Props to Largehearted Boy for linking the Fort Worth Star-Telegram 's recent article on Denton's music scene. The gist of the story: is Denton's scene about to be the biggest and most influential spot in Texas? The how's and why's are discussed, but something I've always wondered about is what makes the town's music scene so special. To me, you don't move there thinking your Creed knock-off will get big. If anything, you're there to further explore sounds that aren't mainstream or predictable. There is something about college towns: they have their own self-contained music scenes. Given the location, a big metroplex is usually far away. So, instead of pining for scenes like the ones in LA, Chicago or New York, a different kind of vibe comes out. Of course you have those cheese rock bands that play at sports bars and frat parties, but you have all these bands that are nothing traditional. In the case of Denton, the 40-minute distance between Dal

You Know You're Right

I've been curious about Everett True's recent biography of Nirvana, Nirvana: The Biography , ever since it came out. It's 656 pages about one of the the most important bands in rock history, all written by a noteworthy journalist and longtime fan. After reading some reviews and portions, I'm not sure I want to read it simply for one large reason. And that reason is: the biographer makes it abundantly clear this is his story, loosely implying he's as important to the story as the the principals featured. This, in my opinion, takes a lot of power away from the overall story. True has plenty of legitimate credentials and bragging rights to write a biography on Nirvana. He was the Melody Maker journalist that Sub Pop flew in to write the infamous spread about the Seattle music scene. He introduced Kurt Cobain to Courtney Love. He wheeled Cobain up on stage at the band's legendary set at the Reading festival in 1992. He was a friend of Cobain's and had written

The World Won't End

Last week's edition of Ask the AV Club kicked off with the following question: Is American Idol bad for music? Specifically, will AI take us to the point where an entire generation will largely listen to and identify with anesthetized, focus-grouped pop music written and composed by studio rats, sung exclusively by flawless, mass-approved performers? The answer he got from Noel was pretty right-on: The real danger of American Idol —if there is a danger—is that the young kids who grow up wanting to be on the show will pick up only on the superficial qualities that allow its contestants to go far. As much as the judges cry out for "originality" and urge everyone not to "play it safe," it's obvious that curvy women in skimpy outfits who sing 20-year-old Top 40 hits with lots of flashy vocal runs can count on winning praise and votes, week after week. Now, I'm well aware that American Idol is its own thing, but I think its impact in the long-term is simi

Make Me a Mixtape (11-year-old edition)

For his birthday, I've been commissioned to create a mix CD for my eleven-year-old cousin. I was given a few ideas along with songs he really wants to hear. The first five tracks are the ones he really wants to hear (in addition to a few other upbeat Beatles tracks). So, I decided to make the following mix CD. Any ideas/suggestions would be great. Maybe those who know 11-year-olds well could really help. (I'm especially looking at you, Py and J .) 1. "Who Let the Dogs Out" -- Baha Men 2. "Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner" -- John Williams (from Star Wars Episode IV ) 3. "The Imperial March" -- John Williams (from Star Wars Episode V ) 4. "The Battle of Yavin" -- John Williams (from Star Wars Episode IV ) 5. "Yellow Submarine" -- the Beatles 6. "Help!" -- the Beatles 7. "With A Little Help from My Friends" -- the Beatles 8. "Nowhere Man" -- the Beatles 9. "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"

Turn My Headphones Up

Last week, Idolator gave a heads-up on a story concerning the ridiculous amount of times certain back catalogs get reissued. Since we've heard about the artists that have received this treatment over and over again, what about the ones who've never been given their proper due? So, I decided to do a list of albums I'd like to see get the reissue treatment once and for all: Metallica's material up to the Black Album Kill 'Em All , Ride the Lightning , Master of Puppets and . . . And Justice For All are great records, but sound incredibly tame on CD. A commonly used word in describing non-remastered material is "thin." Well, that's very much the case here. Plus, maybe we'll finally hear Jason Newsted's buried basslines on . . . And Justice For All . Neil Young's 70s solo material Neil has released so many albums in his lifetime that his work in the 70s gets kinda lost in the shuffle. The deal is, albums like Harvest , Everybody Knows This i

The mind of an unassuming dude

This week's edition of Leah's Girl Talk podqast deals with a personality I know all too well: the unassuming dude. Meaning, the kind of guy who's nice, funny and caring, but doesn't seem inclined to get out and play the dating field. As much as I hate labels (they make you dismissible), I have a lot of the traits. And I have plenty of reasons why. I'm not speaking for all unassuming dudes, but I have a very big fear of being burned by someone. It's not like I think all roads in relationships lead to burned or broken hearts, but I've been very affected by such stories by friends of mine and my own experiences. So, my theory was to just completely avoid the circumstances that could lead to this. I decided years ago I would never drastically rearrange my schedule for someone else. I plotted my own detour and have been on it ever since. I figured if I entrenched myself even more with music, film and books, I wouldn't have to worry about those things ever ge

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

Leah recently posted about a T-shirt she ordered. The shirt's message: "Meat is Murder -- Tasty, tasty murder." As someone who used to have "meat is murder" and "fur is dead" bumper stickers on her car, she fully acknowledges her opinions have changed on the subject. I in no way fault her for changing her mind. As a matter of fact, I commend her for being honest with her past and present. She is a human and it's normal for humans to change their opinions about things. However, there was a time when it seemed like anyone changing his or her mind on eating meat, drinking alcohol, or experimenting with drugs would be subjected to a blacklisting. These times may still be going on, but I remember back in '97 when people who followed the militant straight edge path were staunchly opposed to any kind of drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking cigarettes, or eating meat. For those that broke "the edge," they were seen as traitors and treated

"Just go explain the situation, Miles."

If you watch LOST , or practically any other TV show, you're bound to have a moment where you say, "Where have I seen this person before?" But there are times when you don't realize somebody on the show played a small, but very memorable character in a film you saw once. In my case, that belongs to M.C. Gainey aka, Mr. Friendly, Zeke, and currently, Tom. Gainey was recently featured on the Official LOST Podcast and the topic of his acting career was brought up. Not only has he done a lot of television work (including the beloved Adventures of Brisco County Jr ), but he was also in Sideways . His character has no name other than "Cammi's husband." If you're putting two and two together, he's the naked guy that runs after Paul Giamatti's character after he retrieves the wallet. Yup, that's Mr. Friendly in all his glory. The thing is, I re-watched the scene to see if Gainey looked recognizable compared to his character on LOST . Other than

Everyday I Write the Book

Details are scant at the moment, but as of last night, I've begun writing another book. Unlike Post , it will be fiction, but it's heavily based on personal experiences. The idea has been brewing ever since my trip to Chicago in October 2005 and I finally got the motivation to start writing it. This time, there was no pile of shingles hitting my head or anger towards a certain book on the topic. I just couldn't stop thinking about this and wanted to put words onto a page. There's no title or deadline, but it's a fun little project to work on right now. If you want some ideas as to what it's about, let me share with you a passage from Post centered around No Idea Records' Var Thelin: Thelin saw plenty of bands play together for four or five years, write lots of songs and usually turn into something special. But by the time that happened, they were gone; usually because the band members graduated college and left town. “At best, you’d be left with one demo ta

So Yesterday

Fellow blogger/AV club member Donna gives some useful information about something I've wondered about: can we really predict what determines a hit song or movie? I'm not exactly sure what makes a movie a hit, but I do have ideas about hit songs. The smoother on the ears, the better. Where you go from there is anyone's guess. If anything, Top 40 pop hits sound smooth. There's no dissonance to be found; it's just polished, shiny sounds. Makes sense, right? Well, for me, I still like plenty of pop hits from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, and part of the Nineties. But there seemed to be a major drop-off in the late Nineties. Ever since then, it's been difficult to find anything pleasing to my ears that constitutes pop music. Why the late Nineties? I'll give you two great reasons why: Matchbox Twenty and Britney Spears. From the rock angle, Matchbox Twenty made faceless rock even more faceless with their bland chord changes and uptempo beats. From the pop an

Fidgeting Wildly

A few months ago, I posted the following comment on a friend's MySpace page: Hey, when can my metal band get a nice, big write-up in one of the magazines you write for? We don't have a label yet, but we're working on it. We haven't played a show yet, but we have some offers. As a matter of fact, we don't have any songs just yet. Oh yeah, we don't have a name yet or any band members. We have a manager though! That said, how can this be cooked up in a couple of months? :-) I wrote this after hearing about a few bands that formed more like the Backstreet Boys than a garage band. The comment was meant to be a joke, but ever since I wrote this, I've read about more bands that form this way. It's not an across-the-board epidemic, but I'm baffled by how bands form this way. Is this really a band at all? Be it Panic! At the Disco, Cute is What We Aim For or Boys Like Girls, these bands come together and cut a record just a little after the conception period.

Take Your Time

I can't think of a lot of bands that have been around for a number of years, put out a number of records, and are still interesting/relevant to a sizable, modern audience. There are a few I can think of, but Low seems to fit the criteria as of late with me. Formed in 1993, the band has released eight proper albums, a slew of EPs and singles, a couple live records, a box set, and a DVD. Pretty impressive, but for so long, it seemed like they had only one vibe. Their songs were not just slow and calm, but the dirge-like feel found on them was easy to dismiss. For me, I wasn't too impressed by what I heard for this very reason. The saving grace was Alan and Mimi's vocal harmonizing. But that wasn't completely enough for me to dig into any of their records. Well, thanks to a recommendation (and liking the sound clips I heard) on a recent Sound Opinions podcast, I decided to check out their latest, Drums and Guns . No, this isn't the most cheerful music, but it's n

I Second That Emotion

When word came down last year that my friend Trevor was co-authoring a book on emo, a fellow friend asked me how I felt about this. Even though the time it's taken me to write my book has been double the time it took for his book to be written and published, I have no sour grapes about it. The way I see it, the more different, legit views on something, the better. But I was concerned about how this "emo joke book" would go over on me. As regular readers know, I'm pretty uptight about how the mainstream has rewired everything remotely emo into a commodity. I'm also firmly aware I'm not in the book's target demographic. Still, I found Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture to be an enjoyable read. If there's one genre that's overdue for satire, it's mall emo. Too many bands have taken themselves too seriously kicking out jams that will probably be best remembered like Eighties hair metal. All those flat-ironed haircuts, tight clothin

Bunch of savages in this town.

I have yet to see Grindhouse , but something Keith wrote in the comments section of his review really made me think: One of the sagest pieces of advice I ever received as a critic was that you can never judge something by its worst fans. If I'm reading this correctly, what I gather is that you can't fully judge something by what fervent fanboys and doubters say. Sounds like a reasonable judgment right? Well, why do we give so much power to what these fervent people have to say? A part of reading online news stories/reviews is seeing the comments section. Sometimes the comments can be valid, but more than anything, they're knee-jerk reactions to whatever the topic is. They can be well-written, but more often than not, they're immature and tacky. There's a whole culture around online comments sections that I've never fully understood. Does being the first one to post a response qualify you as a winner? Not in my book, but it is for plenty of people. Does a poorl

Black Christmas

The name Bob Clark might not ring any bells to you, but I'm sure you're very familiar with one of his films. He directed A Christmas Story , the beloved tale of Ralphie and his desire for a BB gun. But Clark made plenty of other great films, along with critically-panned clunkers. So the news of his untimely death yesterday was incredibly sad. If there's something about Clark that should not be forgotten, it's his major achievement in the horror film genre: Black Christmas . Don't mistake Clark's 1974 original for last year's lame remake . Believe it or not, but the man behind the tender Christmas Story also made a menacing film about a killer stalking a sorority house around Christmas time. Clark's Black Christmas came out a few years before John Carpenter's Halloween and still holds up as well as Carpenter's flick. Though Halloween has certain similarities with it (namely, the first-person view from the killer), Carpenter wasn't rippin

You've Done Nothing

No matter what stage you're at in life, there are pros and cons. I agree with the Joni Mitchell line of "something's lost, but something's gained in living every day." In my case, being 28, single and happy has been a good thing for me. But there are definitely gripes that come up from time to time about being single. I'm talking about the nagging desire to change the status of being single to being in a committed relationship. No matter what, I can't help but feel defensive about this. From what I've seen with web ads and billboards for dating services, it seems like you're in luck if you're single and Christian. Consequently, if you don't label yourself a Christian, you might as well just sit in some dark corner and rot. Yes, I'm exaggerating things, but the point remains. What about people like myself? Do we not "matter" to the dating service market? Certain people I know have strongly urged me to join a singles group at a

A Life Less Ordinary

Sometimes you should just take risks. My Complete Idiot's Guide to Ash went online today and it serves as a reminder to the risk I took getting into the band in the first place. Back in '96, while on a family vacation in London, we visited the Tower Records in Picadilly Square. I picked out a CD I wanted to get (Metallica's Load came out that day) and my father found a few Ted Heath CDs that were unavailable in the US. Tallying up the cost, my father told me to pick out another CD for import tax reasons. Apparently if you spent a certain amount you wouldn't have to pay extra taxes on them. Well, right after he told me this, there was a large display for Ash's 1977 in front of me. Even to this day, 1977 's cover is arresting. A camouflaged-colored, mirror image of a knocked-over trashcan makes an impression. Maybe it was the green (my favorite color) that caught my eye. I had heard of Ash only a few days before. 1977 had just come out and the band was doing

The WaMu Way

While driving down the old street I used to live off of last week, I saw something that seemed right out of Mike Judge's Idiocracy . The Washington Mutual bank is now WaMu . No, it's not just a website URL; the whole place has been re-branded this. I can understand how an abbreviation can be useful ( ie , NAACP instead of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), but Washington Mutual is not a mouthful to say. So, what's going on here? The sound of WaMu just sounds odd to me. Part the sound of a baby crying and part the sound of a cow mooing, this name sounds like something Ben Burt would have for something in one of the Star Wars films. I definitely wouldn't think of a bank when I heard this. It's like if Bank of America shortened their name to BoA or Wells Fargo shortened their name to WeFa . My big "huh?" is why the need for a name change. Maybe this was made to tell the difference between Washington Mutual and Northwestern Mut