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Showing posts from August, 2008

Area codes

In a time when I didn't have a cell phone on me all the time (eleven years ago, to be exact), I remembered a lot of people's phone numbers. Even when we had to start dialing the area codes, it was easy because all of my friends lived in the 281-area. Speed dial slowly came into my life, as did cell phones, and now I'm here with the following situation: I know my office's number, the Traffic Tip Hotline, various dispatchers' numbers, and my parents' home number off the top of my head. In regards to my friends, co-workers, sister, and the rest of my family, I don't have a clue what their digits are. Why? Because they're all stored in my speed dial on my cell phone. There was a certain flow to remembering people's seven- or nine-digit number. That flow could be annoying at times, but if there was an emergency, I'd know exactly what to do. Now I'd be up a creek if my cell phone went dead. It's strange how much faith we put into these small

A whimper, or the best possible choice?

A local band I have truly admired for the last five years is about to call it quits. I've seen them play well over thirty times and have never been let down. I'm not going to say their name here. Rather, I wanted to focus on a deeper issue: how this band chose to put out their final album. Most of the songs from this final album have been played live many, many times before. The recording of this record has been over a few years, and was finished well before it was released a few weeks ago. From a distant perspective, this record looks to be coming out on a whimper. All these years later and they're self-releasing this on CD-Rs and basically giving the record away? What's going on here? Some backstory: the band's previous album was released on a local label, and thanks to a good publicity push, got some nice writeups in the national press, including Entertainment Weekly . There was something surreal about seeing this band written up in EW , even though it was a ve

All I wanted was to be a mariachi

I wanted to finish Robert Rodriguez's Rebel Without a Crew before I shared these thoughts. Now that I'm done with it, let the floodgates open. Even after all these years since El Mariachi debuted theatrically in 1993, I find Rodriguez's story still inspiring. I don't often come across people that driven to do something. And I don't mean people who are ambitious in becoming famous. I mean people who have a desire to do something with low overhead and levelheaded ambitions. I mean, El Mariachi was originally made for the Spanish home movie market in hopes that Rodriguez could gradually move onto bigger-budgeted films down the line. Fate changed that, as plenty of people know, but Rodriguez has never forgotten his Mariachi way of doing things. That's a great reminder to those who are struggling to make something; whether it's a film, book, or record. I still don't have any ambitions to make a film, but I like hearing stories about how drive and naivet

It Still Moves

As I watched My Morning Jacket play for nearly three hours Saturday night, I got to thinking. Not only was I blown away by the band's performance, but I was proud by how the band has stuck around and remained relevant and refreshing all these years later. That might sound all syrupy and cheesy, but I've seen one too many promising bands get derailed in their ascent. I think it's important to single out the ones that don't unravel. The last time I saw the band live was in 2002 when they opened for Guided by Voices. As odd a pairing as My Morning Jacket and GBV was, I didn't mind. My Morning Jacket was one of those pleasant surprise opening acts, up there with the experiences of seeing Red Animal War and Moonlight Towers for the first time. My Morning Jacket hasn't gotten screwed by a bad record deal, a bad manager, or a decline in interest by a large audience. Hell, they even overcame the loss of two key members a few years back. Their latest record, Evil Urges

Jerry Finn follow-up

With the recent passing of Jerry Finn, Will over at Popdose put together a great MP3 sampler of Finn's work as an engineer. Definitely worth checking out, especially the tracks by Kara's Flowers, Superdrag, Morrissey, and blink-182.

Just minutes away . . .

Well, I still don't have a firm release date for Post , but I have some great news. Today I received and approved the final corrections made to the manuscript and cover. The whole thing looks really good and professional. And I like how my basic design in Word has turned into something better-looking than anything I could have imagined. As far as timeline goes, copies of the book should be available in the next three or four weeks. I don't know if any stores will carry this right away, but you will be able to order copies from Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble's and Books-A-Million's online store. I don't know about pre-orders just yet. I will post links as soon as they're online. Currently, there are no plans for a book release party or in-store signing. I'm up for doing them, but I'd prefer to wait and hold a copy of the book in my hand before I do anything more. Review copies will be sent out to a number of writers that I have talked to over the

Rodeo Jones

While we all sit tight to hear about a release date for Post , here's some little fun tidbits to check out: --MTV has three live performances of the original Sunny Day Real Estate lineup. All three songs were taped for the band's 120 Minutes performance, which have been floating around YouTube for quite some time. (Gracias, Punknews.org for the heads-up.) The video quality is superb, as are the performances. Now if they could only upload that incredible live version of "Seven" from the Jon Stewart Show on the MTV site . . . --Kyle did a lengthy post on Fuel -- and no, not the Fuel that did "Shimmer" and "Bad Day" and wanted Chris Daughtry to join their band. This Fuel was a band I never saw back in the day or heard on record. I remember watching a live clip of the Promise Ring and seeing Dan Didier wear a Fuel shirt. Fuel is briefly mentioned in the epilogue of Post .

Information Travels Faster

Something I've wondered about for the last year or so is, will music journalists who have made a career out of writing for magazines and newspapers still be relevant in the digital age? I asked this to a writer I've been reading since the mid-nineties and his answer really made me think. He said without any fear or resignation in his voice that, from here on out, more people will read his stuff online than in print. He didn't fear for his job; he just understood how people read his stuff these days. Another writer whose work I've admired since the nineties recently wrote about this topic, and I've had some more thoughts on the topic. I still clearly remember a time when Rolling Stone , Spin , Guitar World , and the Houston Chronicle were the main ways I read about music. When I found a copy of the Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock , I thought I had found something extraordinary. Reading all of these entries pointed me towards even more records and bands. But

All Through the Night

Remember when I blogged about all those Raspberries songs with "night" in the lyrics? Well, it was recently posted on ericcarmen.com and there were a few responses. Now, not to be a jerk, but I thought it would be fun to respond to some of the comments. I take it most of these comments were lighthearted, so I hope my responses come across as lighthearted. The guy obviously never heard "Sunrise"! Nope. Never heard that song. All I have is Overnight Sensation: The Very Best of the Raspberries and "Sunrise" is not on it. Again, I just couldn't help notice that the first half of that greatest hits collection features "night," "tonight," or "overnight" in the lyrics. Obviously this guy doesn't get that "nights" are much more romantic than mornings and afternoons. Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" would sound silly as "Are you Lonesome This Morning?" "Nights in White Satin"

To all the songs I've massacred

Last Friday I met up with Todd for a night of karaoke. I had not done karaoke in at least a year; I think the last time I did it was a rather melodramatic version of Bonnie Tyler's melodramatic song, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I think I ripped up my voice when I did it, so I wanted to take things easy this time. Going with the rather safe choice (for me) of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," I didn't rip up my voice. I had fun and plenty of people danced. Plenty of others who weren't dancing took pictures of my rather amusing dance moves during the extended conga break. Not every run at karaoke has been fun, and whenever I botch a song, it kind of taints it for me for a while. Here's a rundown, along with witnesses to back up my claims: "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop Witness(es)? Matt , Chris , and Tim. How bad was it? Really bad. Shortly into it, I realized Mickey Thomas's vocals were way out of my range. The us

Hall of Shame

Reading Keith's post about the Burger King employee who took a bath in his workplace's sink and uploaded footage from it onto his MySpace profile got me thinking. Moreover, thinking about the time in 1994 when some of my fellow ninth-graders decided to film themselves blowing up mailboxes and setting fire to air conditioning units around Kingwood. (If you're thinking this is a far-flung connection, let me explain: Keith found the article while reading through his hometown's paper, the Dayton Daily News . Reading the post this morning, along hearing about the story on the radio and TV, I thought about another case of stupidity caught on tape, but from my hometown.) The specifics are hazy now (and details are kind of hard to find on the Internet), but a few Kingwood high-schoolers got into some major trouble after a tape of them vandalizing neighborhood houses came into the possession of local police. Keep in mind, this was 1994, the time when Beavis and Butt-head wa

Jerry Finn

Some really sad news about Jerry Finn, the producer/mixer behind a number of great records that still sound great today. Producer Jerry Finn Taken Off Life Support August 12, 2008 , 3:25 PM ET Jonathan Cohen, N.Y. Blink-182 and Morrissey producer Jerry Finn has been taken off life support after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage last month. According to a post on the Prosoundweb forum reprinted on Morrissey-Solo.com, Finn's family made the decision on Saturday. Read the rest of the article here . The number of albums he worked on is long and quite impressive: Green Day's Dookie and Insomniac , Sparta's Wiretap Scars , Superdrag's Head Trip in Every Key , almost all of blink-182's major label albums, Jawbreaker's Dear You , AFI's Sing the Sorrow , and Rancid's . . . And Out Come the Wolves . Finn, along with Rob Cavallo, Chris Lord-Alge, and Tom Lord-Alge, pretty much created the sound of big and punchy pop-punk and emo primed for radio airpla

The mind of a self-deprecating man

"Watching Spaced is kinda like watching a Kevin Smith film if Kevin Smith had any real talent." --Kevin Smith Seeing this quote on the back of the Region 1 box set of Spaced reminded me of something I've heard plenty from Kevin (and have experienced in my own ways in my life): self-deprecation. I don't exactly know what compels people to be so down on themselves, but I have some observations. There's something that naysayers want (and is something that we all want): to be heard. It's why we speak up, right? We want to be acknowledged, yes? Well, acknowledging that gripe, even if you disagree with the gripe, at your own expense can be a way of saying you're not oblivious to your limits. Limits can be seen as flaws, but they can also be boundaries that you're most comfortable with. A phrase Kevin has often used when explaining his self-deprecation is to "steal the thunder" from his worst critics. Whether or not that makes his worst critic

Adapting

Borrowing Nick's copy of Adaptation this week, I'm reminded of my trepidation towards Blu-Ray DVDs. No, it's not like I tried to watch a Blu-Ray DVD on my regular DVD player. Rather, it was a reminder of short-lived attempts to make higher quality DVDs. I watched Adaptation in Superbit, a format that stripped away supplemental features for a better-looking picture. Not many DVDs were produced in this format, and the format was discontinued. Frankly, I didn't notice a spectacular difference between my other DVDs. I wondered if this was only really noticeable on high-end DVD players and TVs. Even after all these years, I still think my Monster cables make my DVDs look great. This leads me to my current thoughts on Blu-Ray. As amazing as they look on the TVs I see at Best Buy, I'm yet to be convinced I should replace my regular DVD collection with Blu-Rays. I doubt I will replace my entire collection when I eventually purchase a Blu-Ray (and Region-free) player. I

Shortcomings

A follow-up to my earlier open call for comic suggestions. Donna came through with some great suggestions , as well as some others, so I did some shopping last weekend. Here's an inventory: I picked up Pyongyang, A Journey in North Korea for a number of reasons. The artwork is easy on the eyes and the book looked like a pretty easy read. I decided to read this one first and read half of it in a day. There's a lighthearted nature in this book based in a setting that is rather terrifying in some ways. The epic Blankets , which Noel called, "like an epic-length comic book version of an emo song," was also picked up. Whether I like it or not, I'm a late nineties post-hardcore/emo geek, and that's perfectly fine. There's a difference between those who still wear old Promise Ring or Get Up Kids shirts that they bought at a small show back in the day and those that wear guyliner and think My Chemical Romance invented emo. I'm guessing Blankets is more my

To all the bands I didn't form

I've been playing in bands since 1996. I've always enjoyed playing in them, but these days, I like a slower pace of things. No multiple practices in one week where we play songs over and over and over again and still screw them up live. Nope. I just like playing shows here and there and playing with people I like to play with. It's rare that I've played with more than one band at a time. Probably the heaviest workload was playing full-time with Voigt and the 11:30s. Building up and tearing down a drum kit a few times a week can be taxing on the body. Despite all this, I've thought about forming bands over the years, but they never came to fruition for various reasons. Here's a list: A melodic post-hardcore/hardcore band The story? When I moved to Fort Worth in 1998, I was in love with Lifetime's Hello Bastards and Jersey's Best Dancers . Coupled with my love of Jimmy Eat World's Static Prevails and Braid's Frame & Canvas , I wanted to

8/19/08

Once again, I'm holding my tongue wondering when I will be finished with the final book proofs. This afternoon I received .pdfs of what appears to be the final book layout. At this stage, I can't change anything other than mistakes made by the design department. And there is plenty to change. Most notably, anytime there's a word with "fl" or "fi," there's a small square box in place of the letters. Fun! I have until the 19th of this month to submit the changes, and I think that's plenty of time. I think these changes will take less time than the previous ones. I believe these errors were made converting font and format, so it's not like an issue of blaming one person or thing. I'm not trying to talk smack about my publisher here. I think it's great they're actually letting me see what they're sending to the printer. I just hope this is the final, final, final round of changes. UPDATE: Turns out my Adobe Acrobat reader is a

Thank You Too!

I've been a fan of My Morning Jacket ever since I saw them open for Guided By Voices back in 2002. Something about the combination of country, space rock, and southern twang really blew me away, even though I was there to see a headliner with a sixty-song set of two-minute pop rock jams. I've followed MMJ's recorded output since that day while poking around with some of their early material as well. It's still a toss-up between It Still Moves and Z for me with my absolute favorite as both records are pretty different from one another. I don't know where I'd place this year's Evil Urges yet, as I wanted to address something about this record. For understandable reasons, Evil Urges has been characterized by longtime fans and critics as an experiment gone wrong. A couple of songs early into the record are vastly removed from anything the band has ever done before. The atonal, R&B stomp of "Highly Suspicious" is probably the biggest offender.