Thursday, June 29, 2006

the pizza jawn

Over the past two weeks, I've had this awesome craving for pizza. Let it be known, I love pizza in the way I love Chinese food, burritos, and various family members. I wanted to list my favorite places to get pizza, but it's taken me about a week to compile the best of the best.

Best pizza joints (in no particular order, and only in places that I've lived at or visited)

1. Little Caesars
Anywhere in the U.S.

Little Caesars is probably the best national pizza chain. During the height of their popularity in the 1990s, Caesars (along with the signature character of same name) could be found everywhere, including K-Marts. In 2006, you're hard pressed to find a Little Caesars in Washington, but I hear that they're existent in the midwest. At least I can still find Crazy Bread somewhere.

2. Pagliacci Pizza

Seattle is more of a gourmet pizza kind of town and Pagliacci is one of the few places you can go to find affordable single slice pizza. If you were to get a large specialty pie, it may cost you some change, but it's worth every single cent.

3. Mountain Mike's

When I was a kid, there was a Mountain Mike's near the elementary school, so I'd save whatever bit of money was left over from buying comics to head down to the double M to get their personal pan pizza. That was the greatest place to get pizza when you're 9 years old and you don't know any better.

4. Fat Slice
Bay Area, CA

When I think of the phrase "more bang for your buck," Fat Slice immediately comes to mind. You get these huge single slices for $1.99 or something insane like that. One time I went into a Fat Slice and saw Planet Asia, so you figure anything good for a rapper is surely good enough for you.

5. Edwardo's
Carol Stream, IL

I dig the phenom that is stuffed pizza. Edwardo's in Chicago suburb Carol Stream is the finest of the fine. The pizza is expensive, but it's the pizza equivalent of dining at pricey steakhouse.

6. Sparta's Pizza House
Lynnwood and Bothell, WA

Edwardo's be damned. Illinois is so far away that if I want a decent stuffed pie, I go to Sparta's, which, truth be told, is just as good. In addition to their pizza, Sparta's also has a great Eggplant dish, but we're not really talking about that, are we?

7. Unnamed Pizza Place
Chinatown, New York City

On my second to last day in New York, I came across a random pizza joint in Chinatown and had the New York pizza ever. I thought of myself as somewhat of a makeshift NY food critic since I'd been to every restaurant that was in the city in my two-week stay. I Google searched for pizza places in Chinatown and Joe's Pizza is all that came up. I'm not sure if that's the same place, but if it is, hit it up.

8. Straw Hat Pizza/Chuck E. Cheese (a.k.a. Showbiz)
California/United States

Like Shakey's, Straw Hat and Chuck E. Cheese are best for large group events and such. They make good pizza, not great, but with places like these, it's all about the atmosphere.

9. Papa Murphy's
Anywhere in the U.S.

The idea of a take-n-bake pizza is contrary to what getting a pizza is all about, but it's really good as far as glorified frozen pizza goes.

10. Hot Mama's Pizza
Seattle, WA

Located between Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College, Hot Mama's is the perfect place to get a cheap slice while hitting the books. The pie is greasy, but such is the nature of pizza.

down with the king 2k6 (and by king, i mean jesus)

Yesterday, XXL's Tara Henley waxed poetic about the surging popularity of Christian Hip-Hop and yet, while I'm not in any place to necessarily debunk her argument per se, all I can think is, "Is there any other kind of Hip-Hop?"

To me, Hip-Hop (musically) often treads on religious ground. Like the Blues before it, much of the religious content in rap is more of a passive praise for God and Christ, but it still tells you where the rapper's faith is coming from. Any emcee who isn't down with Christ and his message, typically subscribes to the eternally popular Five Percent Nation of Islam (or at least some form of Muslim belief), so you can understand why I'm a little hesistant to believe that God talk in Hip-Hop is a somewhat of a new force.

But at the heart of her topic, Henley is writing exclusively about Christian Rap -- the kind of safe Hip-Hop you'd see on Trinity Broadcast Network, BET's Sunday programming and at Christian bookstores.

Like any pop music fan, I've written off the Christian version of anything, mostly because as a youngster, I went to youth groups and was exposed to stuff like Amy Grant and Stryper. And like all other Christ-subgenres, I was quick to write off Christian Rap as well. I didn't care too much for watered down Hip-Hop; in my mind, there was no difference between the Gospel Gangstas and MC Hammer.

Of course, this changed once I heard L.A. Symphony, a California-based Hip-Hop group who didn't swear and rapped about hanging out with friends...and Jesus. Their production was somewhat top notch, too, as they had dudes like Prince Paul step behind the production booth. L.A. Symphony never got the kind of recognition they deserved, probably because they were signed to BMG's religious imprint, Squint. Like David Bazan before them, they were the victim of "too-Christian-for-the-mainstream-too-mainstream-for-the-Christians" mentality.

I can grasp why so many rappers have a passive expression of faith, usually reserved for liner notes and award shows, but, as I stated before, God and Hip-Hop go hand-in-hand, and unless someone tries to unearth the Flatlinerz or Gravediggaz, then you can't really convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

fair review

"The Best Worst-Case Scenario"
(Tooth and Nail)

Aaron Sprinkle is the man who was behind the boards for some pretty great albums -- MxPx's "Pokinatcha," Eisley's "Room Noises," Dolour's "Suburbiac," and Waxwing's "Nobody Can Take What Everybody Owns," to name a few -- as well as playing in some pretty successful bands himself, namely Poor Old Lu and Rose Blossom Punch. Well, Sprinkle is back at it again with his new band, Fair.

Like his past bands, Sprinkle's Fair relies heavily on catchy choruses and simple song structure to get their listener's attention. "The Dumbfounded Game" sounds like something that would've appeared on a later Rose Blossom recording, not that that's a bad thing. Fair's debut is slightly more subdued, so it doesn't really ring of what Tooth and Nail has been releasing recently.

The main downfall of this record, despite how beautiful it sounds, is how similar most of the songs are. They are all pretty much midtempo and follow the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format, which gets dull about midway through. Luckily, the strongest tracks("Confidently Dreaming," "Unglued," "Bide My Crime") are able to highlight how good these songs can get.

There's a lot of potential with Fair; hopefully, they'll get their chance to rock out before some sort of premature break up like Sprinkle's other projects and the bands he's produced.

Monday, June 26, 2006

tidbits 6/27/06

* it's been awhile since i did once of these, huh?

* notable new releases:
underoath "define the great line"
blackpool lights "this town's disaster"
the pacifics/illmind "split ep"
the marked men "fix my brain"
otis redding "stax profiles"
anterrabae "and our heart beat in our fingertips, without reason"
nelly furtado "loose"

* "the sure thing" is a better movie than i remember it to be

* "my date with drew" is also a great movie.

* greatest american fast food? pizza, of course.

* why am i still writing these tidbits? i don't know. whatever....

Friday, June 23, 2006

album o' the day

Jimmy Eat World

This morning, I was standing at the bus stop watching the sun rise with "Table For Glasses," the opening track to Jimmy Eat World's third album "Clarity," blaring in my headphones. It was a very surreal (read: emo) moment.

Due to the success of their "Bleed American" record, many people have looked over this album, but it's constantly cited as one of the most influencial rock records of the 90's. At its core, it's very textured and complex, yet subtle.

"Table For Glasses'" low-key intro is light years different from the album's closer, "Goodbye Sky Harbor," which begins as a straight forward rock song and eventually morphs into a European dance track that ends at the 15 minute mark. "Crush" takes on a Jade Tree-esque pop-punk song, while "For Me This Is Heaven" is a song with a mixed message of sorts: is singer Jim Adkins lamenting on romance or death? But the song is clearly the highlight, as on the disc, the chorus is printed as a rhetorical question to the listener, "can you still feel the butterflies?"

I don't know what else to write about this record other than, if you haven't heard it yet, then there's something missing from your life, and for that, I am very sorry.

Stream "Clarity"

has myspace screwed the internet?

Over the past few weeks, Myspace has been under scrutiny as being a haven for perverts and pedophiles seeking out teens to have their way with. All this attention is no doubt due to two factors: 1. Dateline's continuing "To Catch a Predator" series, and 2. a recent $30 million lawsuit against the site for preventing a 14 year old girl from getting sexually assaulted.

I guess all this attention finally got congress to try to do something about it, since next week they're voting on restrictions for community sites, such as Myspace, Friendster, Facebook, et al. Details of the restrictions haven't been released yet, but since congress can't even agree on which donut is supreme, Krispy Kreme or Dunkin', then I highly doubt that they'll come to a quick agreement on what the necessary steps are to protect children from internet predators.

Though this vote for restrictions (as well as the lawsuit) may seem like a trival thing (at least to your run-of-the-mill teen Myspace user), it'll no doubt set legal precedence for who is responsible for the safety of the user: the government, the individual or the company?

Myspace has already taken some precautionary measures by blocking an adult's access to view a minor's account unless they have their full name or e-mail address. But, as many news sources have pointed out, there are ways around it, such as changing the age on your account to a minor's status. Addtionally, Myspace is also allowing their adult users to have private accounts, an option only given to minors.

But is it too little, too late? Perhaps. Then again, this isn't the first time the government got bent out of shape due to the content (and consequences) of a glorified message board. It will be interesting to see whether the laws will shape the internet, or if the internet will shape the laws.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

OMG!!! THE NEW FORMAT!!!!! (Cue swooning girls)

The Format
"Dog Problems"
(The Vanity Label)

Every time a band tries ripping off latter-era Beatles, that band should give Julian Lennon a percentage of their sales, not because he's the son of John Lennon, but rather because he was pretty good at ripping off his father's songwriting style. At the very least, the lesser Lennon was able to rip off the Beatles before all these nu-emo bands came into fruition.

With that in mind, Arizona's The Format should give a sizeable chunk of their sales to Julian Lennon. Make no mistake, this is very much The Format, but rather than making generic bland pop, they've taken a pretty ambitious step in their self-financed and self-released sophomore full-length, "Dog Problems."

What plagued The Format's debut was the pretense that they were going to be the next Weezer or Jimmy Eat World; much of that is removed from "Dog Problems." Instead, there are many intellgent and catchy tunes.

"She Doesn't Get It" employs bells and lots of snare (see also: The Dismemberment Plan); "Snails" is a folkish song which could pass off as a Rilo Kiley track, and the record's parting shot "If Work Permits" is a lonely acoustic track that is a stark contrast to album's constant spit-and-polished-pop.

There's no real sophomore slump as The Format has done the (typically) unthinkable and wrote a better second album.

Just don't tell Julian Lennon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the changing times

When I first started digging (read: buying sampled records) almost ten years ago, I was pretty diehard about getting original versions. I rarely purchased bootlegs or second pressings. Even to this day, I have only two reissued records on my shelf ("Coffy" and "Pass the Peas," if you were curious). Even buying reissues on CD was out of the question; it had to be vinyl.

Over the last few years, I've gotten pretty laxed about my buying methods, particularly in regards to buying CDs. I'll throw a few dollars to cop a mix-CD of breaks or a reissue.

Specifically in the last 10 months, I've found that the Daptone imprint has been putting out some pretty rare and very good reissues. There have been some that weren't very good, and maybe were put out in the hopes that soul nerds such as yours truly would buy them on name brand recognition, but, for the most part, Daptone has been pretty consistant with their releases.

It's sort of mind-boggling to accept this fact; after all, Daptone is the same label that has released albums by the hipster Aretha Franklin, Sharon Jones (who is a quite good singer, but whose fans are questionable at best). In turn, Jones' popularity has ushered in people like Jamie Lidell, whose whiteboy Stevie Wonder act is more akin to Jamiroquai than Issac Hayes -- plastic and absolutely dreadful.

Still, I will probably continue to throw wads of cash towards Daptone since they'll no doubt keep putting out ridiculously great albums such as "Soul Explosion" by The Daktaris and avoid shameless reissues (i.e. Victory Records).

Monday, June 19, 2006

back to school...maybe?

[Here's one of the few posts where I'll actually write about my personal life. Enjoy.]

So over the weekend, my wife registered for classes so she can get another degree in something that will make her money. She's aiming for something that's somewhat of a viable career. I, on the other hand, also have a BA, yet I'm not really doing much with it, save kicking some articles over to Redefine and a few freelance things here and there. And I'm not complaining. Hell, I've been writing for free since 1999. But I started to think, "Maybe I should do something with my degree, or at least further my education." Here are some of my options:

1. Get my master's degree.
2. Get a degree in another field. A BA in creative writing? Sounds good to me.
3. Get an AA in culinary arts.
4. Go back to school for personal enrichment (i.e. learning Hebrew).

So that's what I have going on right now. Like I said, I have a few options, but it'll probably take some time to sort it out in my head. I have at least two years to figure out what I'm doing with the journalism thing. At the very least, I can finish my children's book.

Friday, June 16, 2006

britney spears was on dateline and people wondered if they were stuck in a time warp

So last night, a very special episode of "Dateline" aired in which fallen pop-princess Britney Spears addresses issues that have been hitting the tabloids recently, such as her failing marriage, her manny/bodyguard (word to Kevin Costner), and her parenting skills.

I don't really want to give this chick any more press than she really deserves, but let's go back to that last issue. So a while back, Spears was photographed driving with her 6-month-old kid on her lap, weeks later, she brought the kid into the hospital because he fell out of his high chair, which was followed by a visit from California's Department of Family Services. As of two weeks ago, Spears again nearly harmed her son while going out with him, holding drinks in one hand (?), and almost dropped him before muttering "This is why people carry guns" to all the photographers. Oh, and there was that whole incident of driving around with the car seat improperly installed.

During the interview, Spears said "People a lot of times think that because you're a celebrity, you're taken care of more. In some situations, people -- you get it worse."

Here's my two cents (among the many pennies that people who have more credibility than me have thrown in): Of course you're going to get it worse, you're a public figure!

On top of that, if you live in the public eye and you're visibly being an idiot with your child, you have every right to be scrutinized. If it was any person who was not a celebrity who might've made the mistakes that Spears has made, their kid would've been gone by at least the second incident, yet she still retains custody of her son.

Spears' lack of parenting skills is a testament that celebrities will always receive better treatment than the rest of us, that they will, essentially, get away with murder (word to OJ). If tabloids and the people buying up those magazines have made her question her abilities as a parent, well then maybe she should take in to consideration that maybe it will make her a better parent, if not cautious.

But then again, she's about to pop out another spawn to unleash to the public, so who knows? We'll probably have at least another two years of this crap to deal with before she retreats and becomes the female version of Marlon Brando.

Without the Oscar, mind you.

[related links]

Matt Lauer Vs. Britney (Where's Stone Philips?)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

...yes, i am going to watch "the fast & the furious: tokyo drift"

[Lil' Romeo likes 'em fresh off the boat, son]

I really hated "The Fast & The Furious." It's one of the worst movies I have ever seen, for many reasons, yet it really boils down to its thin storyline. With this in mind, I am going to put down $10 to see "The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift."

The bulk of my desire to see this flick is mainly placed on the shoulders of director Justin Lin, who is taking over the franchise from John "Boyz 'N the 'Hood" Singleton. Lin directed "Better Luck Tomorrow," which was one of my favorite movies in the last few years. I do realize that this a total popcorn movie; it's going to be vapid, dumb, but most of all, entertaining.

"BLT's" principal cast members Sung Kang and Jason Tobin have supporting roles in the film, as well as Tarantino's favorite Asian, Sonny Chiba. Even C-List celebs like Lil' Bow Wow and one of the kids from "Home Improvement" are in this thing.

Aside from all that, however, this is probably the only big studio film, directed by an Asian-American, with a mostly Asian cast, to have the kind of press it's been getting. The shit is everywhere: Myspace, TV spots, snipes. I can't walk anywhere in downtown Seattle without hitting an ad for "Tokyo Drift" somewhere. So even though I absolutely hated it's predecessors, I'm going to throw down some change to see this flick. If not to be completely brainless for an hour and a half, then it's for my peeps.

(or whatever the kids are saying these days)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

jesus is magic? no good

Sarah Silverman
"Jesus Is Magic"

I haven't seen this movie yet, but her routine isn't very funny. It's a real shame because I really dig Sarah Silverman as an actress, but as a comedienne, she's pretty bad. There's no real punchline anywhere in her routine. Silverman reminds me of the kid in the first grade who would say "damn" or "hell" and thought he was the man. Go get Eugene Mirman's "En Garde Society" instead. That's everything that "Jesus Is Magic" isn' funny.

the future...maybe?

The Futureheads
"News and Tributes"

For their 2004 self-titled debut, UK import The Futureheads ended The Killers-dominated summer by kicking out some serious rock jams. It was all sorts of poppy, but it didn't overtly try to rip off Depeche Mode. Instead, The Futureheads paid homage to Gang of Four and Dexy's Midnight Runners, but not before getting lumped in with every band from the UK who had guitars and didn't sound like Coldplay, therefore, sounding like Gang of Four: Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, etc.

Their sophomore release, "News and Tributes," finds the band with a new found stateside interest, as well as a new American label in pop-punk powerhouse, Vagrant. If you were hoping that they would trip on themselves and start hammering out buzzsaw guitars and screamo-ing vocals, you're sorely mistaken.

If "The Futureheads" was their tribute to Gang of Four, "News" certainly owes a lot to Hall & Oates. On tracks like "Skip To the End" and "News and Tributes" The Futureheads exhibit blue-eyed soul-styled harmonies over treble-heavy guitars. The melodies are catchier than ever. In short, The Futureheads are moving closer to becoming your favorite pop band.

Unfortunately, there's a bunch of bonus tracks from a previously released EP tacked on to the end of the album, so the record tends to drag, but it's still a lot better than half the new releases that occupy space at Tower Records.

Friday, June 09, 2006

making a brand out of a name (or how to sell out your company)

No matter how much I blast his business practices and ethics, Tony Brummel will always run to the bank. Laughing. Hysterically. Like a 8 year old girl who just tricked a boy into kissing ugly ass.

Two weeks ago, I bought a copy of "Wonka Vision" and it had an ad on the back cover for their newest pop-punk sensation The Sleeping. At the bottom of the ad there's a website called VictorMe, Victory's take on Myspace. The other day, I checked it out and made my own wacky profile.

As an "online community," it's not bad. It's sure a lot better than Friends Or Enemies. It's way more user-friendly and just a lot better looking. Ironically, Victory's anti-Myspace looks exactly like Myspace.

I don't think VictorMe will beat Myspace. For one thing, VictorMe only features Victory's bands which, I suppose, is the whole point of the damn site. To bring together Victory's cult of high schoolers. The other thing is that Victory's bands still have their Myspace pages available.

If Brummel wants to strengthen the VictorMe brand, he should probably remove all of his bands from Myspace to make VictorMe the exclusive home to his artists. But again, the Myspace name is so recognizable that VictorMe attempting to be considered a competition is pretty futile. But kudos to Tony Brummel for making his hardcore label less and less hardcore by the day.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Shake the Sheets: A Mid-Year Status Report of Music

It's June, so there've been a bunch of awesome and not so awesome releases in the past six months. Let's (as Rasco would say) run the line, shall we?

Best Pop Album
Maritime, "We, The Vehicles" (Flameshovel)
Davey's songs just keep getting better and better. Much of this album recalls the wit and melody of "Nothing Feels Good." If there was ever a happy medium between somber and poppy, this album is it.

Rookie of the (Mid) Year
Broadway Calls
Their debut "Call the Medic, We're Begging Please" has just been picked up by State of Mind Records and is probably the best pop-punk record of the year. So feel free to leave those Fat Wreck bands alone.

Already Overhyped Artist
Lady Sovereign
Seriously, she sucks. Unless it's Slick Rick's new album, I don't want to hear anymore rappers from the UK.

Best Hip-Hop Album
El Da Sensei, "The Unusual"/Apathy "Eastern Philosophy"
I couldn't really pick between these two and only time will tell which one will stand out by year's end. They're both heavy on 90's style production and they both come from incredible crews. Who knows? Maybe it'll be a tie again in December.

I Can't Believe They Fell Off
Dilated Peoples "20/20"
Back to the lab, fellas.

The Record That Gets Stuck In My Head For Days
Saves The Day, "Sound The Alarm"
Even if I haven't heard a song for weeks, I'll be humming a line at a bus stop or something.

The Record I Almost Forgot About
Morrissey, "Ringleader of the Tormentors"
It's so good, but with all the craziness happening, I almost forgot that this album was in stores.

Most Anticipated Hardcore Album
Sinking Ships, "Disconnecting"

Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Album

Worst Hip-Hop Album (So Far)
Mobb Deep, "Blood Money"
Somebody call Shirley Manson because there's some garbage over here.

Worst Pop-Rock Album (So Far)
AFI, "Decemberunderground"
You guys are, like, 45 now. Just stop with the whole "Halloween-Is-My-Favorite-Holiday-The-Misfits-Are-So-Great-I-Am-The-Saddest-Person-Ever" crap. Geez.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

more reviews!!!!! 666 madness!!!!!


Neil Diamond has more rock power than AFI. See:

This album sucks donkey balls.

laugh now, laugh more later

Ice Cube
"Laugh Now, Cry Later"
(Lynch Mob/Virgin)

Before becoming a decent box office draw, Ice Cube was a rapper who defined the West Coast territory more than his former NWA brethren and certainly more than his Grammy-winning contemporaries. Cube consistantly put out great records from the beginning of his solo career in 1991 up until 1994, with his "Bootlegs and B-sides" compilation of remixes and singles.

Then came the horrendous "War and Peace" discs, a double album set of party jams and generic gangsta rap. The thing that set Ice Cube apart from any no-name gangsta rapper was that his vivid tales could be balanced with political, social and cultural commentaries, such is the case with classic songs like "No Vaseline," "Black Korea," "Wicked," and "Cave Bitch."

For the last year or two, Cube has promised us a back-to-basics album which has been released as "Laugh Now, Cry Later." For the record, it's not the worst Ice Cube record, but I hope that this lukewarm album won't be his swan song.

There are some good moments on this album, namely "You Gotta Lotta That," "Why We Thugs," and "The N***a Trapp." And then there are some horrible songs such as "Child Support" and "Go To Church." For the most part, however, "Laugh Now" is incredibly boring. The beats are pretty standard West Coast stuff and Ice Cube hardly raps about politics. In fact, many of the songs have to do with how much of a G he still is. Cube, we all know your real name is O'shea, and that is not gangsta.

My recommendation is to stream the album on iTunes and pick which songs you feel is worth downloading. As for Ice Cube, I hope you can still get in touch with QDIII or the Bomb Squad, playa because you still have some decent rhymes left in you. Don't waste them.


According to my co-worker, June 6, 2006 a.k.a. 06/06/06 is also known as National Beat-Up-An-Emo-Kid-Day. Hmm.... I realize that 06/06/06 (otherwise known as 6/6/6 for some ridiculous reason) would be a cool marketing coup for all the crappy records and movies coming out today (the new AFI? Yuck. The Omen remake? Hell no.) but it still seems as though people are using today to justify a form of bigotry (such as the National Beat-Up Whoever Day) or doing really dumb shit (like sacrificing lambs, virgins, and toasters or whatever people who are super into Insane Clown Posse or Alkaline Trio do).

Here's my thought on the most evil day of the calendar: dudes, it's just another day. Sheesh. It's not as cool as, I don't know, Thanksgiving. A day where it's okay to eat a ton of food and get fat. You know what other day is cooler than 06/06/06? Christmas Eve. It's the day that has forever been burned into my psyche as "The 24 Hours of 'A Christmas Story.'" Seriously, 24 damn hours of Ralphie beating up Scott Farcus, triple dog dares, and other awesome scenes from that movie. Classic. Christmas Eve is also my kid's birthday which has usurped the special meaning of 12/24 from "A Christmas Story," but it still rules over June 6, 2006.

I can't wait until Christmas Eve.

Monday, June 05, 2006

&*$%!#$$%!!@#$%^^#$# (or an anticipated reunion show that a few people will give a shit about)

[i meant to post this yesterday when the news broke, but can be wack like that sometimes]

Decoy Music is reporting that the Murder City Devils are plotting a reunion show.

In the immortal words of Stone Cold Steve Austin, I believe a hell yes is in order.

For those who don't remember, the Murder City Devils was a Seattle-based band that was singing songs about drinking, sailors, idle hands, and other things before all those things were "hip." The gang is probably more known for the bands that formed in the wake of their demise, namely Pretty Girls Make Graves, Dead Low Tide, Smoke and Smoke, A Gun Called Tension, Modest Mouse, blah, blah.

Anybody who has ever seen these guys (and girl) play live, or at least have seen their final performance on DVD, know that the MCD can get pretty crazy. So yeah...I think my heart just totally skipped a beat or five.

Friday, June 02, 2006

when the cool kids take over....

Controlling the Famous
"Automatic City"
(The Militia Group)

Head Automatic
(Warner Bros/Cardboard City)

Ah, the ubiquitous nature of the hipster (or "people with awkwardly cropped haircuts"). Just when I thought that they could keep their penetrating ways out of the sacred grounds of hardcore and pop-punk...BAM! They thrust their idiotic presence in the genres and pretty much influenced an entire generation of kids to lose their minds and start humping any article of clothing with a unicorn. Unicorns are cool, but not that cool, ese.

Southern California-based label, The Militia Group, has hit somewhat of a stride in signing bands that people actually care about. Last fall they released an album by a great band called Fielding. Now they give us Controlling the Famous who's not nearly as great. Or good. Or anything positive, actually. They're quite terrible.

Even though the cover art for their debut "Automatic City" boasts "weird" artwork and unicorns, the music doesn't sound anything like the art would suggest (which would've been dance music). No, CTF sounds like the remnants of 90's/00's rock: Hoobastank, Vertical Horizon, etc. Every song has this really lame guitar lead and I just imagine the guitar player making this kind of face. As my friend Tamryn would say, "No good."

Unlike Controlling the Famous, New Yorkers Head Automatica boast an impressive line-up of hardcore superstars who've decided to make coked-out dance pop. Their debut "Decadance" was a surprise hit and they were able to put on some pretty entertaining live shows when singer Daryl Palumbo wasn't in the hospital.

Their new album, "Popaganda," doesn't really capture the fun of their last album. All the pop hooks are still in place, as is Palumbo's unique voice. But, for example, the single "Graduation Day" sounds a lot like a Third Eye Blind song, and it's a bit soon for a 3EB tribute band now, isn't it?

The rest of the album is a hit-or-miss affair. Anytime they try to recreate the mood of "Decadance" (like on "Laughing at You" or "Scandalous") they hit, but in other instances they miss. Badly.

Maybe with this two-tier failure, the hipsters will leave the pop-punk labels and the hardcore kids alone. Perhaps I can goad them with a real unicorn and a gram of blow. Then again, I don't really have that kind of money, so I guess I'll have to hate from the shadows.