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Showing posts from August, 2009

Caught by the Fuzz

Over the weekend, I was reminded again of how frustrating new DVD technology can be. In this most recent case, I saw that Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are now available on Blu-ray. Both movies are two of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in the last few years, and their DVD extras are exceptional. Except for the fact that both movies have already been re-released a couple of times each. And that's not counting the Blu-ray version or HD DVD version. Since the popularity of both movies have been substantially bigger in England, it makes sense that their Region 2 DVD editions have way more supplements than the Region 1 editions. So I was surprised when Hot Fuzz came out as a three-disc set in the U.S., importing all of the extras from the Region 2 version along with some more things. Alas, the Region 1 version of Shaun of the Dead only has half of the supplements from the Region 2 version. I'm thankful I held onto my region-free DVD player. Now with the Blu-Ray editi

Flip the digital switch

I've mentioned before how I don't have cable television. I have plenty of reasons why I still don't have it since the switch from analog to digital signals, but I thought it was time for an update. Basically, if I want to watch a Cowboys game this fall or a new episode of LOST next year from my couch, I'm screwed. Rewinding a bit: back when I was talking with my new housemate, Matt, I asked if he wanted cable TV when he moved in. He declined, citing many of the same reasons that I haven't had cable since I moved to Dallas seven years ago. Since we both work in places that have several different televisions always on, there is a desire to not have the TVs at home. That's where the Internet, DVDs, and books come in handy. So with the digital switch, and after a few channel scans, all we really get off the rabbit ears are the local CBS affiliate, a local station with ties to the CBS affiliate, and a few Spanish language stations. That's right: no Fox, NBC, or

Behind Quiet Little Voices

Like I couldn't be any more self-conscious about things, I figure it would be interesting to turn the light around with yesterday's post. Too often you read critics who go to town on some band, movie, trend in music, or trend in movies and it just seems out of the blue and angry. "What's gotten into that guy?" people wonder. Well, let me just speak for myself on my issue with rock drummers who only use one cymbal. I think of that Blackpool Lights' song, "It's Never About What It's About," when ranting or arguing about something. Meaning, what you're ranting or arguing about is indicative of something bigger that's on your mind. This might seem like old news to folks, but it still feels new to me. In the case of rock drummers with one cymbal, I have the bias of being a guy that has enjoyed playing in bands, but isn't currently in an active band. All of the bands I've played in have been fun, but I tend to forget that when I rem

Quiet Little Voices

After seeing so many bands and have enjoyed many of them, unfortunately, I still have a deep-rooted prejudice with loud, dynamic rock bands. I must confess again that I hate it when a rock drummer only uses one cymbal. More specifically, besides a hi-hat, this drummer thinks that all he or she needs to rock out is one cymbal. Yes, just one cymbal can hit like a crash but also be played like a ride. Well, not everybody's music is like the Flaming Lips, with all sorts of coloring by guitars and keyboards and programming. And not every drummer is as crafty on the drums as Steven Drozd. And not everybody can play like Centro-matic's Matt Pence either. So that said, I get rather annoyed when I see somebody holding him or herself back from rocking completely out with just sticking to one cymbal. Dynamic-wise, it's just not enough in a rock band. To recap, because I've blogged about this before (and I'm too well aware of that): on a cymbal, you have three primary spots to

Crack the Skye

Once again, I'm amazed at how music you resist time after time finds a way of eventually capturing your attention. And your enjoyment, I might add. This time, it's on Mastodon. Recap: when I first heard the name Mastodon online (probably on Pitchfork or the Sound Opinions Message Board), I thought this was referring to that side-project by former Strife frontman, Rick Rodney. Rodney was the band, playing everything, and there was a song by him on the Songs for the Brokenhearted compilation put out by Glue Factory. The reason why I had the comp was because Jimmy Eat World had a rare song on it: their version of the Wedding Present's "Spangle." When I kept hearing about Mastodon as a metal band, I wondered if this was still Rick Rodney's project. Granted, he sang for a pretty intense metal/hardcore band before, but I would not classify his work under the Mastodon moniker as metal. Finally I figured out that Mastodon the metal band did not, or ever have, Rodney

Organization (CD-R edition)

Reading through a recent post by Kev, I have to address an ever-growing puzzle for myself as a music fan: how to organize my CD-Rs. I have my reasons for organizing my CDs with jewel cases, but CD-Rs with no jewel cases? Different sort of thing. I distinctly remember back in high school when I asked my friend Tim why he alphabetized his ever-growing CD collection: "So I can find 'em." Suddenly in that moment, the reason to do this made complete sense to me, and I have always alphabetized my CDs since then. But the thought never occurred to me when I started burning CDs in college. Since my collection was small, I never thought about doing that. Now I've amassed hundreds of CD-Rs and a vague idea of where each one is. I think how I organize my CD-Rs is based on when and where in my life I got them. But in hopes I don't sound like Rob Gordon from High Fidelity , this is not a filing by autobiography. There was a time when I burned a lot of XTC, Idlewild, and the Pe

The End of an Era (Cassette Tape Edition)

Last week, I did my first interview in well over two years. I believe the last time I did an interview was for Punk Planet , for a piece that ended up making the cut for the final issue of the magazine. I must say, after two years of not doing an interview, I still really enjoy talking to band members from bands that I like, and the conversation flowed really well. Once I have my article my published, I will hopefully repost it here. In the meantime, I realized something over the weekend about a rather bygone era that I still choose to do my interviews with: a cassette recorder. Not a micro-cassette, but one that holds a four-track size cassette. Yes, as in the size of cassette that, along with millions of kids from the 1980s, listened to on a Walkman back in the 1980s. Well, after a trip to Best Buy on Friday, I see that either the store no longer carries blank cassette tapes or they just moved them somewhere else. I have a feeling that they no longer carry them. So this means I will

One day, it's a whole different story

I am rather baffled by the way that certain movies have a bad reputation for years, but one day, it has a completely different one. I fully understand that opinions are subjective, yet when a movie is seemingly so hated for years and years, I find things strange when people start praising it. It's like I could start hearing all sorts of praise for Mamma Mia! after hearing nothing but negative reviews since its original theatrical release. Wouldn't that seem strange, or am I just listening to loudest haters too closely? I remember when I didn't follow what movie critics thought about movies currently showing at the box office. I never read a review of Buckaroo Banzai growing up, nor did I ever read an analysis of Back to the Future 's script, but I watched those movies at least a dozen times each growing up. Only until high school was I really aware of what critics or academics thought about movies. Now I'm trying to get a point where I was before all of that. What

No stars are out tonight

Over the weekend, while watching a clip of Jack Wagner performing "All I Need," I wondered about the art of a good lip-sync performance. In the case of the Wagner clip, it is the exact opposite of Michael Jackson lip-syncing to "Billie Jean." Here's a rundown: What's wrong with the "All I Need" clip 1. Clearly, the instrumentation of the group is nowhere near what you're hearing. Jack might be strumming a guitar in the intro, but you sure can't hear anything other than vocals and keyboards. And drums never sound like that in a live setting. 2. You see half of his backing group singing backing vocals, but all you hear is Jack's voice. 3. And yes, the hairstyles and clothes are silly. (Yeah, yeah, it was the 80s, I know.) What's right with the "Billie Jean" clip 1. There's a big difference between a lone singer lip-syncing to a backing track and a group miming to a backing track. 2. The dance moves totally sell the per

Life is not a waiting room

This week I hope to interview a relatively young band I have come to like quite a bit in the last few months. I was asked by my editor to do a small piece on this band, and I hope to cover their next Dallas show as well. The deal is, I want to ask questions that are not generic, but aren't too inside. And this attitude is very fresh in my mind after a brief encounter at the Warped Tour. Though the day was cloudy with some visits from the sun, that early July day was still hot. The three bottles of water I had went a long way for me to survive the day. But there were a few trips to the press room where I just sat and relaxed for a few minutes. During one of those trips, I experienced an interview that I know all too well. It's the kind of interview you've heard plenty of times before, and the kind you've seen plenty of times before. Questions like, "How's the tour going?", "How would you describe your newest album?", and "What do you like abo

What are The Whispers?

As enjoyable as it was to read this list of fifteen mysteries the final season of LOST "must answer," a part of me had to say, "Oh, come on." Even though the final season of the show doesn't start until my nieces turn three and I reach the one year anniversary of my thirtieth birthday, I can't help but think about what we will see. And also, what we'll have to figure out for ourselves. Maybe because we never get all the answers to life while we're living, there's a desire to know all the answers with the TV shows and movies we watch. In the case of finding out Libby's backstory, I seem to be in a minority that frankly doesn't think there needs to be more backstory told. Damon Lindelof even ironed everything out in a recent interview , and I'm satisfied with his answer. Maybe because the audience was teased with a possibility for more info about her, given her abrupt departure from the show, is why this is. I have no idea where the f

Everyone's Waiting

I fully understand that not everybody finds the subject matter of Six Feet Under appealing. Who really wants to watch a drama about a family who owns a funeral home when you can watch The Bachelor instead? Well, I really loved the first two seasons of Six Feet Under because it was a show about making the most of life in the shadow of death. As a very moving show, I loved watching the series up to a certain point. Once again, I choose to not evoke the superficial tag of "jump the shark," but I slowly lost interest in the show once Nate became more and more of a person I hated. What if Luke Skywalker abruptly turned to the Dark Side after Obi-Wan Kenobi died in A New Hope ? I wouldn't buy into it, and I didn't buy into it when Nate turned to the Dark Side on the show. So in my viewing experience with the show, there's a stopping point with Nate's near-death experience in the opening scene of the third season. I have not had any great desire to watch the rest

Take Me Away

A few years ago, I praised Killswitch Engage on this here blog quite a bit, as well as a few other modern metal bands. I still consider myself a big fan of The End of Heartache and As Daylight Dies , as well as KSE's Set This World Ablaze DVD, but trying to get into their latest, their second self-titled effort, has been difficult. I still call myself a fan of the band, and in hopes of not coming across as a fickle fan who abandons ship on a band (and burns the ship and claims to never really be on the ship anyway), I have some explaining to do. I think it's fitting that the person who introduced me to the power of this band via his blog is also the person who best sums up my issues with 2009's Killswitch Engage . Eric's review is right on the mark. There are definitely great moments right out of the gate with the first two songs, and just when the record starts to feel really stale, in comes in a phenomenal intro on "Take Me Away." Yet "Take Me Away&q

How to enjoy A Summer Place

I talked about it a few weeks ago, and I now I'm reporting on my thoughts on A Summer Place . Let me put it this way, if you like camp, you're in for a treat. Of course, I'm not talking about going out in the woods, pitching a tent, and making a fire. No, this is the kind of movie that should be enjoyed with a drinking game. I should say before I go any further that some of the acting is really strong, especially Richard Egan. That said, pretty much every character in the film is a one-note character. And just like imagining an entire concert where the main instruments play one, maybe two notes, imagine that for a little over two hours. Um, yeah . . . Basically, if you're up for it, take a drink whenever the following happens: --The still-popular "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" kicks in. --A major music sting occurs when a parent faces the camera. --A long-winded soapbox about love is spoken. --A close-up of a person with a single tear occurs. --Bart t