Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2007

So far away, we wait for the day

If you've ever played any of the Guitar Hero games, you'll probably be amazed by this clip brought to us by Robert Wilonsky. It's funny, I told Jason last night about how DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames" was on Guitar Hero III . Now this afternoon he forwards me this post. Very cool. Happy Halloween!

The New Blood

As I read Noel's rundown of all eleven (!) films in the Friday the 13th series (including Freddy vs. Jason ), I thought about my days as a horror movie sequel fan. I never got to the point of seeing the Sleepaway Camp sequels, but there was a time when I wanted to see all of the movies in a series. Scream 2 had just come out and I loved it as much as the first Scream . So I figured this would be a worthwhile quest. Maybe my memory is hazy, but I think my quest began and ended with the Halloween series. To recap: I had seen bits and pieces of the TV-version of the original Halloween (you know, with the extra scenes included) before watching the sixth entry, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers . I figured I knew enough backstory from what I had seen in the first movie to get the gist of the sixth one. Turns out I was right even though I found the ending to be a big cliffhanger and a letdown because Donald Pleasance passed away before the film was released. Nevertheless, sinc

Gonna Fly Now

Recently taking a listen to Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino's commentary track on Hostel Part II , a lightbulb went on in my head. Discussing how Hostel Part II begins exactly where Hostel ends, Tarantino describes how he'd combine two movies onto one VHS tape and show them to friends. In one instance, he took Rocky , cut out the end credits and had Rocky II begin right away. Not only did I find that to be a pretty cool and fun thing to do, but I found something deeper with Tarantino's mention of Rocky . If you're familiar with Tarantino, you've probably come to the conclusion he knows practically everything about almost every movie ever made. From the most obscure to the best known, he's probably seen them all (especially given his time working in video rental store). But what fascinates me is to hear a guy be so passionate about films in general, from the most commercial to the not-so commercial. And it's a good kind of fascination. Now, maybe vocal

Punk Planet Reviewer Spotlights Part 3

from Punk Planet #77 Therapy?, Infernal Love Ireland’s Therapy? was like a secret handshake in my high school. The few fans that I knew would say their name with a deepening of the voice and a widening of the eyes. This trio had something special going on, but nobody could really explain what exactly it was. Upon hearing Hats Off to the Insane and Troublegum , I think I knew what was up. Up until that point, Therapy? had a string of singles, mini-albums, and records that were very melodic and punky but also sounded like Prong and Helmet records. Yet on ’95’s Infernal Love , the cold industrial sounds were replaced by smoother sounds coupled with a wider scope of songwriting. From barnburners like “Stories” and “Misery” to the Police-like “Bad Mother” to the stellar singles of “Jude the Obscene” and “Loose” to the peaceful “Moment of Clarity,” Infernal Love is probably the band’s finest album start to finish. Also special of note is their strings-and-vocals version of Hüsker Dü’s “D

Punk Planet Reviewer Spotlights Part 2

from Punk Planet #73 Handsome – s/t In a time well after grunge had lost its bite and before nü-metal became moronic and contrived, anything could go in major label hard rock in 1997. Comprised of ex-members of Helmet, Quicksand, Iceburn, Murphy’s Law and Cro-Mags, Handsome had an incredible amount of potential in this vacuum. Mixing the moody, detuned heaviness of their older bands with poppy melodies, Handsome presents a band with a lot of bang. With a blow-out-your-eardrums kind of mix, Handsome sounds very modern by today’s standards. The notable exception is that instead of the standard, sing-through-the-nose vocal technique that so many bands embrace today, vocalist Jeremy Chatelain projects a clear and aggressive voice devoid of sap. Plus, thanks to Terry Date’s production, the band sounds incredibly heavy, but not sloppy, muddy or cheesy. Though the band’s career was doomed early on (various band members made no bones about not getting along with each other in interviews), th

Overthrow Cock Rock and Idolize Your Girlfriend

Sad news to pass along about Lance Hahn, vocalist/guitarist for J Church . He passed away over the weekend. Here's a post on with more information. Kyle posted the following bulletin on MySpace: Hey everyone, Word is rapidly spreading through the grapevine that Lance Hahn, founder and frontman of the beloved J Church, passed away today after a long illness. As a fan and friendly acquaintance of Lance's for 15 years, I'm crushed. J Church is one of my favorite bands, and their music occupies more space on my iPod than anyone else's--it should considering they released 10,549,420 albums. Snd On Snd was truly honored to release a split 7" with J Church this year. While we're helping plan a memorial/benefit show, we want to help NOW. So, 100% of the proceeds from any order of our split will go to Lance's memorial fund. Send $6 (postage paid) via PayPal to . You can also donate $$ directly at . Please help! We'

Punk Planet Reviewer Spotlights Part 1

(Note: A regular feature for Punk Planet reviewers was a Reviewer Spotlight. The record had to be at least five years old, could be on a major label or indie, and could only be spotlighted once. With Punk Planet shutting its doors earlier this year, I figured I should preserve some more of my contributions by reposting clips on this blog. Enjoy!) from Punk Planet #68 Ash, Nu-Clear Sounds The Fair Warning / Ignorance is Bliss of their career, Ash’s Nu-Clear Sounds stands apart from their other records. The band’s pop-punk-by-way-of-grunge-upbringing took on a dirty lo-fi sound for their third LP, but Nu-Clear Sounds is still very worthwhile. Rockers (“Jesus Says,” “Wild Surf,” “Projects,” “Fortune Teller”) give way to pretty ballads (“Folk Song,” “I’m Gonna Fall”) while also boasting pure raunch (“Numbskull,” “Death Trip 21”), but it works. When the record was released stateside on DreamWorks (while the label also had Elliott Smith, Creeper Lagoon and Rollins Band on its roster),

Within Your Reach

Pretty much every one of the thirteen bands featured in Our Band Could Be Your Life deserves a full book devoted to them. The entire career of the few that never signed with a major label are well covered, but for the bands that did, I argue there's way more to tell. Not to make light of Azerrad's focus on the bands' independent label days; rather, certain bands' stories go in some interesting directions post-major labeldom. If I were to narrow down the list, it would be Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and the Replacements. Sonic Youth's career was documented in Alec Foege's Confusion is Next , a book originally published in 1994. I've always thought there should be an update to Sonic Youth's story since a lot has happened since publication. But I strongly felt there was a need for books on the band formerly known as Dinosaur and the band often known as the Mats. Well, sometimes wishes get granted and proper books come together. Jim Walsh, a friend and fellow

The Door in the Floor

I recently paid a visit to the new location of a Deep Ellum staple, the Door . Taking over the building where the Gypsy Tea Room once was, things weren't that much different, which was fine by me. I will say though: a few weeks before going to this show, I saw the rubble of the old Door location and kind of felt like Ben Kenobi when Alderaan was zapped in Star Wars . Nobody was killed in this case, but it felt like a lot of memories had been reduced down to almost nothing. And that is, for a lack of a better term, draining. The old Door was the place where I saw the Get Up Kids attract a crowd that was double the venue's capacity. When I interviewed various members of the band for POST , they still remembered that show (especially the heat in the room). This was the venue where I saw Braid on their reunion tour and interviewed half of the band for my book. These are just some of my memories of the place as I saw plenty of great shows between 1999 and 2007. Now, as mentioned in

Digital Ash

Last week, an extensive entry about the future of the music industry appeared on the New York Times ' Freakonomics blog. A college professor, an author, a music producer and two label owners chimed in with their opinions for a refreshing and very well-done piece. One quote by author Fredric Dannen really touched a nerve with me though. And I don't mean this in a negative way. Rather, it was the realization about a trend whenever there is a new, major advance in technology: . . . consumers of recorded music will always embrace the format that provides the greatest convenience. No other factor — certainly not high fidelity — will move consumers substantially to change their listening and buying habits. Amazing how this simple explanation explains the popularity of the eight-track, the four-track cassette, the Walkman, the MiniDisc, and the iPod. It even explains the popularity of the CD, but there's something I've never understood with those that, even after all these ye

When Bland Questions Get Bland Answers

Word spread last Friday afternoon about an apparently bad interview with Sigur Ros on NPR's The Bryant Park Project . Prefaced that the interviewer still loves the band's music, he went on to write this: . . . the band showed up promptly at 11am (EDT) and commenced to give what is possibly the worst interview in the history of electronic media. Seriously. It was that bad. Right away, I'm thinking this is not going to be good. Didn't matter how bad the interview actually went; the claim about being "possibly the worst interview in the history of electronic media" rubs me the wrong way. It's just like whenever someone says anything is the "worst ever." Meaning, an exaggeration that makes something seem the worst of the worst when there has been way worse in our society's long and rich history. Besides, anytime a claim like this is made, there is usually a counter claim that this wasn't so bad after all. (I still stand behind the fact that

Hunting Bears

Following up on yesterday's post, I thought I'd share my feelings about another way of hearing In Rainbows : a web stream. Hearing a couple of tracks via's media player , I was reminded of how effective this can be. Seems archaic these days, but it can be a great alternative to all the endless hunting for a .zip file. Sampling an album this way eliminates the worry about taking up precious hard drive space. Yes, I'm stingy about hard drive space because I don't have 250 gigs just waiting to be filled up. Though the bit rate is usually lower than 192kbps (the Radiohead tracks I heard were 128), I have an idea about whether or not I like the song. If I like what I hear, I'm more than likely to search for a CD-quality version of the album or even buy the CD itself. And just to make myself clear: I don't mind previewing a song at a lower bit rate. I simply prefer to listen to a CD-quality version if I want to hear the song or album over and over again. B

They say the future's beginning tonight . . .

I've been rather silent on the blog in regards to Radiohead's recent announcement about their seventh proper album, In Rainbows . To recap: if you want it in digital form, you name the price on how much you want to spend for it (and that includes $0). If you want it in double vinyl, you pay $81 after taxes and conversion fees and should receive it well before Christmas. If you want it in double-CD form, you'll have to wait until 2008. As those who pre-ordered the album digitally await the e-mail that includes the album in a .zip file, an e-mail has circulated about the stats of the MP3 files themselves. They are DRM free, but there's a catch: they are at 160kbps, 32kbps below the standard, CD quality of 192. Now this makes things rather polarizing to me. I think it's great how the band has given fans a lot of options. Servicing the ones who like the album in physical and digital formats, this plan beautifully bucks the way albums have been released. But the word a

You can't be a spectator, oh no, you got to take your dreams and make them whole

A large piece of advice I'd give to anybody who wants to write a book, direct a film or write a screenplay is this: not everybody is going to "get" it. What's there to "get" and what's this "it" I'm referring to? Well, I'm referring to the non-believers who could really care less about what you're doing and the people who suggest significantly changing what you're doing in hopes it makes sense to them. There in lies a test to see how strong you feel about your material. I wouldn't suggest saying such things as "Over my dead body." Rather, politely consider what he or she is saying, but still stick to your gut and your heart. It may seem scary to want that, but hear me out. Something about life in general keeps me going back to that line in Hot Water Music's "It's Hard to Know": live your heart and never follow. I'm sure almost all of my favorite books and movies encountered numerous skeptics

Clap your hands if you want some more

Just a public service announcement: the Pipettes ' We Are the Pipettes was released in North America this week. To my eyes and ears, it's proof positive that pop music 1) can still sound like it was cut by real human beings in a real studio, 2) be fun but not fluffy, and 3) be sexy but not slutty. It's worth your time to check them out if you agree.

the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on

A post on Idolator yesterday fueled more rumors about Journey's possible new frontman, Arnel Pineda. Reposting a picture of Pineda with the current members of Journey, this looks to be more than just a snapshot of a fan with his favorite band. Though no official statement has been made about the vocalist situation, speculation is running wild online. Jess's Idolator post attached a clip of Pineda covering "Don't Stop Believin'" with his band the Zoo, along with the classic Journey line-up doing the same song back in the day. I must say I'm impressed with Pineda's abilities. Checking out other clips online, including this version of "Faithfully," I think he might be the right guy for the band. Pineda clearly has the vocal chops and has paid his dues on the tribute band circuit. The deal is, for almost any other band, reaching a point like this is ripe for ridicule. Bands like Judas Priest and KISS have carried on in the past and present with

Like sand through the hourglass . . .

Annie Hall: It's so clean out here. Alvy Singer: That's because they don't throw their garbage away, they turn it into television shows. As I've written before, I haven't had cable TV installed in my place of residence since '02. Even after all these years, I like not having the temptation to endlessly channel-hop. The amount of time that frees up to read a book, surf the Internet, watch a DVD and exercise is immense. And I'd like to keep it that way. While there is plenty of great stuff on TV, so much else is -- not necessarily terrible, but -- easy to get hooked into. And that's where things really touch on a weakness I have. Nevermind all the hours I spent watching cartoons as a kid or MTV as a teenager, but I distinctly remember watching USA one summer almost every single weekday. What was the hook in their mid-morning? Superior Court , Divorce Court and a similar-themed show whose name eludes me now. Unlike The People's Court , these shows did

Half a million dollars will always be missed

The topic of Jackie Brown was recently brought up in a conversation I had with Nick. With his praising of the film after a recent viewing (on pan-and-scan VHS, no less), I got to thinking about filmmakers' careers. Moreover, the film that follows the career-making film and seems destined to disappoint and be tossed aside by fans and critics. This is beyond the simple premise of "the sophomore slump" as I've seen it with third, forth and fifth films. I'm simply trying to understand how the playing field can get manipulated and overshadow any follow-up, whether the film is good or bad. Jackie Brown followed Pulp Fiction , the movie that -- in case you forgot -- elevated Quentin Tarantino from ace indie movie writer/director to the pop culture stratosphere. Releasing Jackie Brown in '97 after the Pulp Fiction buzz died down, the movie seemed to be quickly tossed aside by the public at large. It seemed as though the mass audience had written Tarantino off unti

To avoid fainting, keep repeating, 'It's only a movie'

I recently watched the theatrical version of The Exorcist (aka, not The Version You've Never Seen) with William Friedkin's commentary track on. Even with Friedkin's voice drowning out most of the dialogue and music, the film still terrified me. Those fast cuts, spooky lighting, and demonic images still make for one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. But I still think the movie is fantastic for its look at religion and good versus evil. Thus leading me to a weird spot: do I really want to watch a great movie even though it's rather unsettling to watch? I say yes, but with reservations. The AV Club compiled a list of 24 films that, while great, are painful to watch again and again. For the ones I have seen ( Requiem for a Dream , Straw Dogs , Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple and The Last House on the Left ), I concur. Seeing the lives of protagonists worsen because of drug addiction, innocent women be raped and/or murdered, and hearing audio