Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Papa Bear, R.I.P.

As a parent in their mid-twenties, I can tell you that it may be easier for me to buy books for my kid now, as the books that I grew up with are relatively fresh in my head and have not been rotted out by the effects of alcohol and drugs.

So when it came time to buy books for my daughter, I naturally picked up a ton of "Berenstain Bears" books. Reading the wacky adventures to my kid brought me back to when I was 6 and got my first "Berenstain Bears" book. Well, to pay tribute to Stan Berenstain, who passed away today, I urge parents to peel their children away from the television and marketing icons such as Dora The Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, and Hello Kitty, and kick a little Berenstain knowledge their way.

Related Links:
Yahoo News: Stan Berenstain Dies At 82

Fort Minor In Emceeing

Fort Minor
"The Rising Tied"
(Machine Shop/Warner)

A few years ago, I was asked to interview the members of an up and coming band called Linkin Park. When I met the two members of the group (the DJ and bass player) who I was supposed to talk to, I was asked to leave them alone because they were "trying to get pussy" (DJ Joe Hahn's words, not mine). Instead the opening group, Styles of Beyond, gave me an interview, and I laughed at Linkin Park's elementary brand of crappy rap rock and subpar Deftones imitation. Over the years, I simply ignored Linkin Park to the point where I didn't realize they still existed; but I actually thought that I should give lead rapper Mike Shinoda's Fort Minor alter ego an objective review, so here we are.

Like many hip-hop releases, Fort Minor's strength lies on the shoulders of its guests rather than it's main artists, so while Mike Shinoda isn't the crappiest MC, he's clearly not in the league of his Fort brethren, Styles of Beyond; don't even get me started on how he's dusted by the Roots' Black Thought, Celph Titled or Common.

One interesting collaboration that caught my attention was Onelinedrawing/Gratitude/Far's voicebox Jonah Matranga singing the hook on "Red To Black." I'm assuming that was the workings of Warner's A&R people since Gratitude was on Atlantic. Well, the song isn't that good anyway.

Shinoda tries to do the whole "I'm a creative MC" metaphor in "Cigarettes," but it's pretty stupid. Nas should sue him for stealing the idea and cadence from "I Gave You Power."

The drum loops pretty much sound the same: basic, sterile and processed loops that come with any program for your PC or Mac; it's made to sound like an MPC, but it comes off very amatuer-ish, which I guess is something you can expect from a first time MC, but for someone who bagged Jay-Z to do the intro for their album, I would've expected more. Maybe a Primo beat, or Pete Rock, or MF Doom? I can't stress how generic this album sounds....

Given the the amount of time and money put into this record, it pains me to think that Prozack Turner's album will never see the light of day, but Mike Shinoda and Fort Minor pissed away their major label bucks on backpacker hip-hop that would've sounded better 10 years ago. I guess I wouldn't go out of my way to buy "The Rising Tied," but I'm not going to kill anybody who's playing it. Yet. Give it two weeks, I might be sharpening my knives.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

MP3J's? What Other Stupid Slang Words Will These Ducks Come Up With Next?

Last month, I wrote this angry piece about the artform of DJing dying at the hands of hipsters and iPods. Recently, Martha Irvine gave her two cents on the same idea. Irvine's brief look is far less subjective and a tad bit more well rounded, but I never said I was writing an article as much as it was an editorial.

Here are some quotes taken from the article and some more of my radical thoughts on them:

"Everybody wants to be a DJ," says Toro, a 29-year-old Californian who recently moved to Chicago and now manages Bar Louie in the city's Gold Coast neighborhood. "People enjoy having a little control in their lives."

*No shit, Sherlock. Of course people enjoy having control of their lives, but when you go to a bar/club, you should not expect the DJ to have every song at their disposal, let alone bow to your request if there are hundreds of other people to attend to. This cat needs to read my guide for bar patrons.

Numark Industries, for instance, is out with a mixing device that allows users with two iPods to segue one song into the next. It's fairly basic stuff - and not something necessarily aimed at professional DJs.

*You can do this with a Realistic mixer from Radio Shack and those will cost you about $50.

Some professional DJs say they're waiting for technology that would enable them to perform on a single portable player all the creative mixing and "scratching" they do with vinyl albums.

*Unless there's a machine that will slow or raise your BPM on an MP3, then attempting to mix using an iPod is useless. Who the hell wants to spend money buying two iPods for "mixing" anyway? Also, the way I see it, scratching is something that should only be done with wax. If you try it with CDs, MP3s, or those old keyboards that had a "scratch pad," that's just lame.

"I've been here some nights when people dance. It's always something different," says Bullard, who also heard the crowd groan one night when someone played a cheesy remake of a popular tune by The Smiths.

*See my Eurythmics Review.

"It's the same thing as sharing a hot new 45 or tape or CD," says Susan Barnes, associate director of the Lab for Social Computing at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York.

*It's NOT the same thing as sharing a new single or whatever. Part of being called a DJ has been built on getting rare cuts, bootlegs, etc., playing them and gaining notoriety because YOU'RE the person who spent all day looking through dirty bins and going into shady record stores where the owners are trigger-happy and not customer friendly. Besides, if everybody had the same remixes, playlists and whatnot, that wouldn't make your selection unique now, would it?

"It becomes more and more of an art form to select out what is good - because a lot of what's out there is not good," says von Seggern, author of the book "Laptop Music Power: The Comprehensive Guide."

*Thanks for letting me know that, Mr. Hipster. I would never be able to discern that there's bad music out there on my own. Ass.

"You can have the fanciest gadgets and gizmos, but if you don't get your crowd, there will still be nobody on the dance floor," says Patrick Kowalczyk, a 37-year-old New Yorker who works in public relations and DJs during his off hours

*That's what I said!

She's also gotten a kick out of impressing friends by using an adapter with a built-in FM transmitter to play tunes from her personal library on cab radios as they ride through the city.

*I'm certain that a cabbie who has to haul a bunch of drunken idiots around for a living is just going to enjoy listening to "Flap Your Wings" or The Bravery. In this case, vehicular homicide is justifiable.

In that regard, he calls his portable music player "a savior."

*Yes, it's indeed a savior until it runs out of battery power and Apple makes you buy a new one. Or until some hoodlum steals your stupid iPod and smashes it to pieces when they learn that's loaded with five collections of REO Speedwagon and Air Supply songs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Best of, Schmest of the Deuce K Pound (2005)

This is the third draft of my "Best of" list. The first version was way too long and focused more on albums that I hated, which was almost every major release (see: M.I.A., Coldplay, etc.). The second was a little leaner, but was still way too word-y, as I tend to get. But I ain't Pitchfork (mostly because I WOULD NEVER give Lil' Kim a rating over a 4), so this is my uber lean "Notables" list for the 2K5. I will have a worst album list, but y'all can wait for the negativity.

Most Important Album
Sage Francis, "A Healthy Distrust" (Epitaph)
I'm not sure Epitaph has released any album this good since Refused's "The Shape of Punk to Come." This is one of the few hip-hop releases in their catalog, but it stands to be their most punk rock in the last few years.

Most Overhyped Album
M.I.A., "Arular" (XL/Matador/Interscope)
This particular album was hard to keep on the racks at Easy Street because Pitchfork hyped the hell out of it. But to paraphrase Mr. Har Mar Superstar, anything that Pitchfork is excited about is immediately suspect. I didn't buy the whole Sri-Lankan Missy thing. M.I.A. is awful and annoying. I'd rather spend my money on a REAL hip-hop album (like The Coup's "Genocide and Juice") and not on this poor imitation of a poor imitation.

Best American Band that Sounds Like a British Band
Nightmare of You, "Nightmare of You" (Bevonshire Label/Eastwest)
The Killers tried making a stab at this category by reissuing "Hot Fuss" with bonus tracks, but they lost out to this quartet from Long Island.

The Paris Hilton Award
Fall Out Boy, "From Under the Cork Tree" (Island Def Jam)
It seemed that for awhile, you couldn't walk a foot without seeing Paris Hilton's ugly face on some magazine. Fall Out Boy has had similar exposure this year where they've appeared on a ton of magazines (Alternative Press twice!), televsion, and all over Warped Tour -- all to promote an album that wasn't as good as their previous offering. The children can keep their sacred cow, I'll always have Dag Nasty to fall back on.

Comeback Album of the Year
Thrice, "Vheissu" (Island Def Jam) (Rock)
Common, "Be" (GOOD) (Hip-Hop)
For both these acts, this was a stellar year for releases. Thrice took a very large leap outside of the "emo-metal-hardcore-openchordchugging" box and made a beautiful record. Common dropped the hippie vibe of "Electric Circus" and made a record that's most like 1994's "Resurrection."

Best Compilation of the Year
Motown Remixed (Motown)
Unlike "Verve Remixed 3" or "Beatles Regrooved," the heads at Motown went and sought out good producers to retouch their classics. The Jackson 5 never sounded so funky until after Z-Trip laid down some thicker basslines.

Letdown of the Year
Handsome Boy Modeling School "White People" (Warner)
Z-Trip "Shifting Gears" (Hollywood/Warner)
There are many similarities to these two records: fans have been salivating for these releases for years; they both featured Chester Bennington from Linkin Park; and they were not very good. For all its hype and budget, Z-Trip failed by not focusing on the "turntable music" image he's been trying to shake for the last three years. Instead we get a bunch of rushed vocal tracks by Soup from Jurassic 5. Similarly, Prince Paul and Dan the Automator may have bitten off more than they could chew as Handsome Boy 2 stumbles into calling itself a "concept album."

Second Spins
Kanye West, "Late Registration" (Roc-A-Fella)
Death Cab for Cutie, "Plans" (Atlantic)
The incredible media coverage of Kanye West made me put off listening to his album until recently. I've been hearing the singles since March and having actually sat down and listened to it, it's quite good. I still stand by my review of Death Cab's fifth album and major label debut, but a few more of the songs have grown on me.

Best Video
Blue Scholars, "Freewheelin'" (from "Blue Scholars")
Well first of all, for an independent video, it sure as hell doesn't look like someone at the Art Institute made it with a budget of $200 (for catering and extras). So Geo and Sabzi have that going for them. Secondly, there's something entertaining about Geo (who's Filipino) rhyming in the "International District" (formerly Chinatown).

Best Single
GZA and Ras Kass, "Lyrical Swords" (from "Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture")
I shouldn't have to write anything about this crazy tune.

Rock Album of the Year
Eisley, "Room Noises" (Reprise)
The Dupree family should be proud of this album as it captures sweet melodies and lush images wrapped and transforms them into the catchiest pop record of 2005.

Hip-Hop Album of the Year
The Perceptionists, "Black Dialogue" (Def Jux)
It's skilled as it is scathing, insightful as it is entertaining. The Perceptionists are Public Enemy for a generation of apathetic, internet news fed b-boys.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

early tuesday morning riffin'

- Last night I went into my former place of employment, Easy Street Records, and for a little over $20, walked out with the following:

Boom Bip "Mad World" (7" single)
JR Ewing "Split" (7")
Christie Front Drive "S/T"
Red Knife Lottery (note: what a crappy name) "So Much Drama"
Scraps and Heart Attacks "Still Sick"
Breaking Pangaea "Cannon to a Whisper"
Jazzefatnastees "The Once And Future"
Lisa Loeb "Firecracker"
The Little Mermaid Soundtrack
The Gloria Record "S/T"
Grey Two Eleven Presents Assemblage Vol.1 DVD

There were some other records that I wanted to get, but I thought to wait on. I don't really need the instrumental version of Common's "Be," but it would've been nice to have a double for the Dangerdoom single.

- Still no word from Taking Back Sunday, which kinda sucks because I feel totally ripped off for having taken five minutes out of my day to fill out their membership form. Aarrrgh!!!! Yo, Taking Back Sunday, we know you dudes can write some good pop songs, so when are we gonna hear something that's more like "Little Devotional" and less like "This Photograph is Proof"? (man, that song's terrible)

- From all the dude bro guys I know, I can't stop hearing about Jessica Alba is "hawt," though let's not forget the idiocy she displayed in that trainwreck of a show "Punk'd" or her lack of acting ability, for that matter. And from all my indie street cred peeps, Jenny Lewis or Feist seem to be the femme de jour (and I'm not going to get into the weird metalcore kids who are digging the girl from Bleeding Through who looks like that H.I.M. guy). Well I say "pshaw" to your ladies of the year...y'all sleeping on the Tuesday Tart that is Rory Gilmore:

In the immortal words of Noregea, "Whut?!? Whut!?!"

[be back with a real article soon]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Eurythmicize the Smiths

"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" (from "We Too Are One" Legacy Version)

This 1989 cover of The Smiths classic was recently included in the reissued version of "We Too Are One" by the Eurythmics. Annie Lennox's operatic vocals lend well to the tune, maybe in a roundabout sort of way, challenging Morrissey's own vocal stylings. Still, whenever anybody does a Smiths cover (myself included), it almost always pales to the original, and this song is no exception. The bleak and sterile sound of the cover is suggestive of the end of what we know as "new wave" as it misses much of the heart and soul captured in the Smiths' version. But had the Eurythmics pumped out the tune before The Smiths, I'm almost certain that the thoughts I've conveyed in this review would be reversed and I would be writing about the irrelevance of guitar rock in the 1980s.

Friday, November 18, 2005

friday midafternoon BS

Exempli Gratia -- whose bassist and guitarist [Morgan and Ian] recorded all three Season of Death/Breathless Mahoney EPs -- are looking for a band to headline their show at The LAB in Seattle on dec. 10th. According to the band's myspace journal, one of the bands they approached was Daphne Loves Derby (from Kent, a suburb of Seattle), who asked for a $1,500 guarantee for a Seattle performance.

At the risk of sounding a little crass, let me say, "I CALL BULLSHIT!"

Unless you're a touring band, you have no right to require a guarantee, ESPECIALLY if you're playing in the town that made you (and subsequently live in/near).

I guess I'm a bit more cross about this particular band having a guarantee because, to be frank, they're not that good. They're alright if you like generic bands that shamelessly rip off Jimmy Eat Thursday Taking Back Hawthorne Fall Out Reggie And The Get Up Kids.

And if you think that Daphne Loves Derby is just sooo cool, I'd like to state that I saw the band in their humble beginnings when they were opening up for my cousins' band and playing Taking Back Sunday and Brand New covers, keeping in mind that this was around 2002, so "Tell All Your Friends" and "Your Favorite Weapon" had not been out for very long.

Bands like Daphne Loves Derby are just prime examples of capitalist suburban kids who are faking emotion to write drab, terrible music to make a dollar. They don't give a shit about playing for the kids, because if they did, they wouldn't ask for such a hefty guarantee, especially since they just got off a national tour with all kinds of exposure.

I'm boycotting Daphne Loves Derby, their ridiculous name, and their idiotic "ideals." I suggest that you do the same, but if you don't I won't think of you any less. Maybe.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

crap, boobs, crap


"As some of you may know, Lifetime got back together to play HellFest this past August, after being given the opportunity (by the Fest’s organizers) to raise a large amount of money for the charities of our choice. We were readying ourselves for what could have been a pretty alienating experience, playing the Enormo-Dome in front of 8000 metal-core dudes, when much to everyone’s surprise, the Fest got cancelled at the last minute.

With the help of Margie Alban at Do It Booking and a host of other hardworking friends, we were able to scrape together 3 days of amazing and much more intimate shows. That weekend in August turned out to be a seriously transforming experience for this bunch of aging and sometimes cynical punks. Thanks to all the old friends and new kids who came out to sing along, I think the five of us felt transported back to a time when our lives were first changed by music.

To make an already long story shorter, we have decided to play together again, not as the resurrected corpse of a one-off reunion show, but as a group of guys who love making music together. We will remain committed to our families and our other musical endeavors, so we’re unsure of how often you’ll hear from us, but you can expect more shows and more music in the coming year. We will be playing some shows in California at the end of January, 2006, in L.A. and San Francisco. Thanks for your support."


On the Real, All You Crabs Know The Trill...

[six days have passed and still no word from Taking Back Sunday...hmm...I also added some more links including the best American actor in the last 15 years, John Cusack.]

Bun B

This hasn't been the best week for my copy of Pedro The Lion's "It's Hard To Find a Friend." Every time I put the disc in my computer, something comes across my desk that I just have to listen to and review; earlier this week it was G-Unit, then it was the "My Space" comp, and now David Bazan has fallen victim to UGK's Bun B and his new solo offering "Trill."

Growing up on Bay Area Hip-Hop, it's natural that I enjoy its first cousin in Southern Rap. So groups like UGK, Geto Boys, and even Master P entered my steady diet of JT The Bigga Figga, E-40, and Mac Mall. I suppose I found this brand of pimp rap particularly interesting because like the rock bands I was listening to at the time (Smashing Pumpkins), their narrative rhymes were inviting and vivid. It was a lot easier to listen to than read, that's for sure.

So when I put on "Trill" I was somewhat disappointed having been a fan of UGK since the mid-90's when they were signed to Jive. It's not a terrible album, per se, but it's obvious that Bun B is going for hit songs and not a cohesive record. Songs that look awesome on the tracklisting easily get a "meh" out of me: "Get Throwed" with Pimp C, Young Jeezy, and Jay-Z is a lackluster track over a generic 808 drum loop; "I'm Fresh" could've been good, but it falters fast; despite "What I Represent" being a storytelling track, it's rather dull.

But there are quite a few bright spots on this album. "Trill Recognize Trill" has Bun trading barbs with Ludacris; "Who Need a Bitch" features an ageless Too Short and a suddenly relevant Juvenile, and, surprisingly, "Late Nite Creepin'" with The Transplants is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

All in all, "Trill" is a solid record and one that I would put into rotation from time to time. I wouldn't say that it's as good as "Ridin' Dirty" or "Too Hard to Swallow" but it was good enough to give Pedro The Lion some stiff competetion as my Thursday morning soundtrack.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

International Noise Conspiracy Interview

[this was originally done in the spring of 2004 for a publication that didn't use this interview and since "Armed Love" finally came out in October, I'd thought I'd repost it here for s&g-- ry]

The International Noise Conspiracy is a politician’s nightmare and not in an NWA way. Tinny guitars and keyboard-driven melodies are the anthems of revolution. With a new album completed, singer Dennis Lyxzen spoke about punk politics, working with Rick Rubin and “refused” to talk about his previous band.

CHASING COOLNESS: How’s the new album coming along?

We’re almost done. We have a little bit of artwork left to do.

You worked with Rick Rubin. How was it working with a legendary producer?

It was pretty awesome. He definitely knew what he wanted to do with us and he knew what we could become. It was really cool. We had a really good time working with him.

You’ve also made the move from Epitaph to American, which is distributed by a major ( Island ) and as is such, you guys have gotten a lot of criticism for moving up. How do you counteract that?

Well, you know, people who criticize moves like that usually criticize from the basis of a punk rock ethic…. I think that the political ideas that we have are more important than to be a part of a certain scene…. There’s nothing outside the capitalist spectrum that we live in, so it’s kind of naïve to think that just because you’re on Epitaph, things are different from being on a major label. It’s just a part of the same idea – the same money, the same system. [They] aspire to become big labels. There’s no “outside of the system,” there’s no escaping it, so we figured, let’s just use this opportunity and let’s reach out to more people.

So the more people you touch with your message, the more you’ve accomplished.

Yeah, hopefully…. We’re not the saviors of the world or anything. We’re just a rock band that plays music. That’s what we like to do anyway, and talk about our politics that’s inspiring and fun. And if we can do that to more people than less people, then that’s great, because we’re not interested in maintaining punk rock as an underground phenomena….We’re interested in overthrowing the capitalist system and playing some good music.

You guys are also doing Warped Tour this summer, do you have any thoughts on that?

We don’t know much about the Warped Tour. I know it gets a lot of shit from a lot of people. It shows that something potentially subversive comes along, it’s really easy to turn it into a non-stop cash machine. You got Warped Tour in your shopping mall, so it’s no wonder why it’s doing so good. But I also think it shows that something that subversive and challenging, if it’s that big, it shows that there’s a lot of potential for change…. Whether you like it or not, there’s a lot of these kids that like these bands because they’re angry and whatnot…but there’s a lot of kids there who feel out of place and kind of fucked up and by being on Warped Tour we can show them that punk rock does not have to be about a pair of shorts and jumping up and down.

That’s a good way to look at it. Now, you’re going to be stateside for a while and it’s been sometime since you’ve toured here, do you think that there’s going to be a shift in your audience? Are you hoping to gain a new audience of people you haven’t heard T(i)NC before?

Of course. I don’t know if things have changed, the record’s not out yet and, like you said, we haven’t done anything in a while, so right now, we’re doing this tour to get the word out. Go out there and play in front of people. Just make people excited about the band again. Hopefully the record comes out and…we’ll reach a lot of people that never heard us before.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

America Hearts Compilations!

Various Artists
"Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" Soundtrack

Various Artists
My Space Records Vol. 1

This should be a golden age for compilation records. iPods and iTunes are insisting that people shouldn't be afraid to have an eclectic selection of music and, ultimately, the success of MP3 players are the end result of people buying up the "NOW! That's What I Call Music" series. People don't want albums; they want hits.

Recently Interscope is double dipping their corporate fingers in this notion with the releases of G-Unit's "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" soundtrack and My Space's eponymous compilation.

Curtis "Fiddy/50 Cent/Chef Boyar-Fiddy/Interscope" Jackson visibly expands his G-Unit empire (clothing line, label, crew, film division, etc.) on this compilation. G-Unit, which began with 50, Lloyd Banks, and Young Buck, is now including Olivia, Mobb Deep, Spider Loc, Mase, and M.O.P.

A G-Unit fan probably isn't expecting anything new from this soundtrack and they shouldn't. Like most gangsta rap, Fiddy and the Unit have relied heavily on consistancy. Similar drum loops, hand claps, and singy-songy choruses are thrown around on songs like "Have a Party" and "We Both Think Alike." It's apparent that all G-Unit songs are copy-and-paste versions of DJ Premier-style production (bells, hand claps) and Bay Area hip-hop.

The bright spots on this album should have been Havoc and Prodigy, collectively known as Mobb Deep, yet they ruin it by virtue of the fact that the infamous Mobb were putting out better records in their teens. Now nearing their 30's and Mobb Deep have slid back into the stone age. Their tired violent raps sound great when backed with a menacing jazz loop, but on "Get Rich" they are on mid-tempo, faux West Coast beats. It's just sad.

"When Death Becomes You," M.O.P.'s contribution is the best song on this soundtrack, but it's ruined by Fiddy's mush mouth mumbling during the intro.

This soundtrack is an accurate reflection of the G-Unit themselves: bloated and, possibly, going nowhere. If there is an inch of success with this particular recording it's due to rap fans who ought to know better and ironic hipsters.

And it's those same people that have steered My Space to dot com gold. That Tom guy who appears on everybody's friend list thinks that his interweb gold can translate to a platinum record.

Sorry to break the news, Tom, but this compilation album is about as useful as one of those stupid Jamster pop-ups that I get every time I log on.

I guess the key selling point for this album is that you get additional pictures added to your account when you purchase it. BFD, suckers. Why don't you just get a Photobucket account and add those pictures to your journal. There, I've defeated My Space's marketing staff! Give me a job!

Anyway, despite the fact that there are numerous hip-hop, country, and funk groups on My Space, the compilation record itself almost exclusively focuses on the emo-pop-punk variety (I say almost because there's one track, Tila Tequila's "Straight Up," that steers more toward horrendous cock rock that should never see the light of day). Every song on this album is already available on other records, as well as Purevolume. There is NO reason to buy this and, therefore, NO reason this compilation should exist.

This is the worst idea in the world. Well, it's not as bad as the U.S. invading Iraq, but it's up there with Bill O'Riley still having his own show and the new breakfast sandwich at Burger King.

I hope that both "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" and "My Space Records Vol. 1" tank so that people can get back to enjoying albums and not singles collections.

Related Links:
Jordan Baker's Take On My Space Records
Riff Raff's Review of the film "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'"

why nobody respects "punk rawk" these days

[rp note: as of 7:50 am, and a full day 4, no calls from taking back sunday. i wonder if they know this tally exists. probably not]

Like many kids who discovered independent rock music in the mid-to-late-90's, I used to adore Jade Tree Records. From the moment I borrowed a copy of "Nothing Feels Good" (I was a bit of a late bloomer with the Promise Ring) to the day when I stood outside Tower Records in the cold to get my copy of "Winners Never Quit," I ate anything that this label put out. I guess that's why I can empathize with kids who hang onto every release from Drive Thru, Victory, Vagrant, or Fat. I may not necessarily like that kind of music (any more) or their bands, but I suppose there's some sort of connection between the first time I heard "Hello Bastards" and the first time that Frannie Friendster (swish for using the Friendster reference) from Michigan heard "Tell All Your Friends."

I personally can write that the first time I heard Lifetime's "Hello Bastards," was similar to the way I felt when I saw Public Enemy a year or two before their break-up: it was exciting, captivating, and just fucking good. But unlike P.E. (who I've seen twice now), I discovered Lifetime well after their break-up and shortly before the end of Kid Dynamite.

So when Lifetime announced that they were reuniting for Hellfest, I was as happy as R. Kelly outside a public high school. Not that I could afford to fly out East to watch them, but the idea that if I had a couple thousand dollars at my disposal, I could hop on an Alaska Airlines flight to catch one of the best bands on Jade Tree's roster.

Whomever said that lightning doesn't strike twice is probably full of more crap than a 50 day old latrine since Lifetime is doing a three date stint on the West Coast in the new year. My happiness was shortlived, however, when I scrolled down the Punk News message board and found this awesome response.

Not to sound like an old person or anything, but what the hell are wrong with these kids? Stating that the Warped Tour is better than a Lifetime show is a lot like saying that Hitler was a humanitarian, or that MC Hammer is a better emcee than Rakim. Warped Tour as a corporate entity is not fit to be on the same message board as Lifetime or any Jade Tree band. To paraphrase Jason Mewes, Warped Tour is fucking clown shoes.

I don't have to go on an even longer rant by suggesting that without Lifetime bands like Saves The Day, Fall Out Boy, Brand New, New Found Glory, blah, blah wouldn't exist...because THEY fucking said it. In a horrible rag like Alternative Press, no less. Like Biz Markie said, "Respect the architect." Buildings don't build themselves, you potzers.

So there it is, I'm done. Check out Lifetime, if you've never heard them before. And if you are going to Warped Tour this year, have fun paying $25 + surcharge to go to the event, $15 for parking, $8 for pizza, $5 for water, $20 for an Underoath shirt, and realize that good bands are often discovered, never sold to you.

Lifetime Best Coast Tour Dates:
1/27/06: Los Angeles, Troubadour
1/28/06: Anaheim, Chain Reaction
1/29/06: San Francisco, Slim's

Monday, November 14, 2005

somebody at the fader likes me!

as of 11/14/05, 8:59 am, still no calls from taking back sunday, making the tally up to 3.5 days (i'm not counting it out, yet).

that's right, on the cover of fader is the beautifully crazy cat power! totally badical. real updates coming soon.

Friday, November 11, 2005

vets' day rambling...

As of 1:22 pm PST, still no word from Taking Back Sunday. So we'll mark that: Day 2. No calls.

...and Joel, I did fall for the ploy of joining the TBS street team, but it was all in the name of unprofessional journalism! Huzzah!

This morning, as I was driving to work, I was listening to The Smiths' "Louder Than Bombs," and I want to share the story with you on how I first heard that particular album:

August 1994: I had just turned 13 and I wandered to the old Tower Records in lower Queen Anne in Seattle (it has since been demolished). I had some birthday money to blow and my dad bought me a portable CD player for the big 1-3, so naturally, I had to buy CDs. I must've spent about an hour in the rock-pop section before I saw that "Louder Than Bombs" in one of the many listening stations. I'd heard Morrissey before and completely hated him, probably because when I first heard "The More You Ignore Me..." I was 11 and my favorite albums at the time were "Mack Daddy" by Sir Mix-a-Lot and "Check Your Head" by the Beastie Boys. I looked at the track listing and took notice on the third song, "Shoplifters Of the World." I played it and the Moz's operatic voice filled the headphones. It was the most unique and beautiful song I'd ever heard. I even thought about lifting it, but never buying it. In the end, I left "Louder" at the listening station and bought "Illmatic" and "Midnight Marauders" instead.

In relation to my Smiths story, I'm going to cover "Panic" for an upcoming release.

Check out Bedford Falls, a band from Tacoma, WA. It's really some of the best stuff I've heard come out of the Northwest in the last few years.

And finally, I have some new writing over at Redefine.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

taking back the telephone

Rock and Roll band Taking Back Sunday recently posted on their site that they will be calling any random person who enters their telephone number into the membership form for joining their street team. Personally, I think that the idea of street teams are pretty stupid to begin with. If your music is solid to any degree, it should be able to hold its own weight and not need the assistance of 1,000,000 salivating teenagers who hang on to every single word as if it were the word of God.

But then I thought, aww fuck it. Who wouldn't want to talk to these cats? At the very least I can get a half assed interview for The Coolness... But that's really up to the band now isn't it?

From this moment on, until the band calls me, I will keep a tally of how many days has gone by before I receive a call from any of these fools, if I get a call anyway. Their previous two albums have been certified gold, and they've recently wrapped up a large scale venue tour so they probably have a gazillion real fans out there before they get to some kid who wants to shoot the shit.

Day 1. no calls.

i can't wait for the official KKK NOW Vol. 25!

This is fucked.

Smoosh should just sue them for stealing their steez, except for the whole racist, Nazi part.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Real World Sucks, That's Why I Watch The Real World

(yo, i added some links, including one for a badass site i almost forgot about called angry asian man. peep it)

In all honesty, I haven't seriously watched (as if there was a "serious" way to watch) "The Real World" since their Las Vegas season. That season was so craptastic, I decided it was best to treat the show like a cheap tramp and stay the hell away. For people who aren't up on television, "The Real World" is a show that MTV traded music videos for in 1991 and has since taken the credit for spawning the ongoing reality show craze (which I swore would die, like, two years ago). Now MTV has a whole stable of shitty shows like "Road Rules," "Date My Mom," "Some Crappy Sweet 16 Show," and "Laguna Beach," amongst others.

I was talking to my girlfriend about a plan that my cousin and I had if we were to ever be on "The Real World" and that would be to break a table upon meeting the other roommates to instantly start some shit. Of course if anybody does that from here on out, I'm suing you because you stole our idea. Anyway, that conversation made me remember how fun "The Real World" used to be; when you could plan drinking games around an episode, or how you could easily lampoon the stupidity of the people from your cold, sad one bedroom apartment in Ballard.

So here's a recap of the only seasons of "The Real World," I will recognize:

Season 1: New York
Ryan Sez: Boring. The only cool parts were Heather B. rhyming and Heather B. getting arrested for having to throw down the mighty Boogie Down fist. Kevin was cool as well.

Season 2: Los Angeles
Ryan Sez: A whole bunch of yelling and David getting kicked out were the highlights. Dominic was the person that I would become by the time I was 21 (minus the smoking), and Jon ruled because he sported a Hulk Hogan t-shirt years before Andy from Kane Hodder was rocking his signature Macho Man shirt.

Season 3: San Francisco
Ryan Sez: There's this interesting chapter in Chuck Klosterman's book, Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs, where he mentions that Puck and Pedro break the fourth wall in this season, inviting viewers to participate, be it from the confines of their televisions. He's right on the money on that, as well as the fact that it became the Puck/Pedro show. I personally related to Judd.

Season 4: London
Ryan Sez: Like New York I, it was duller than a pencil after the SATs. Highlights: Neil getting his tongue bitten off, receiving a pig's heart for Valentine's Day and Lars.

Season 5: Miami
Ryan Sez: It was the first of many "sexy" seasons with unsexy people. There was something relatively gratifying about watching their business fail, though. And that Sarah chick seemed pretty cool.

Season 6: Boston
Ryan Sez: Man, this season was the most entertaining of all of them. All stereotyped Real World cast members and village dolts were in place. It's easily in the top three as far as best seasons go. It boils down to two episodes: 1) Kameelah explains to Sean that the reason he may have had food poisioning was due to someone ejaculating into his food and 2) Montana getting fired for giving kids (literally, children) alcohol. Yes! Uberdrama! If I had to recut the season, however, I would create a two hour special with just the Elka storylines, because she's a fox.

Season 7: Seattle
Ryan Sez: This one should be momentus since it was filmed in my borrough, but it was pretty dumb. They worked for The End...big fucking deal. They should have done something cool like worked at Easy Street or something. Still, if I have to give props to someone in this season, it would have to be David because he was a man's man.

Season 8: Hawaii
Ryan Sez: Hella nekkid people. There was an alcoholic and a slut (separate cast members, mind you). Slim Kid Tre from The Pharcyde made a psudeo-celebrity guest appearance as a possible love interest of cast member Kala and ended up looking like a sucker on some "Looks Like a Job For" Big Daddy Kane shit. I think this is the season where I actually started to feel myself getting dumber as I watched.

Season 9: New Orleans
Ryan Sez: I don't like to use the term "clusterfuck" very often, but I'll use it to describe this season. New Orleans = clusterfuck.

Season 10: New York II
Ryan Sez: They should've subtitled this one: "New York II: There Are No Regular Looking People Now." This is probably where the show took a pretty huge dive in terms of connecting with a mass audience. The same problems are still there: racial/ethnic stereotypes, love triangles, class, job problems, blah, blah, and it's just as interesting as past seasons, but you realize that EVERY SINGLE cast member is photogenic. This is another one that I'd put in my top three best seasons, though, probably just for the episode that had those jackasses from Midtown (the band, not the section of Manhattan).

Season 11: Chicago
Ryan Sez: I don't really remember much about this one except for the fact that Anessa walked around naked and Cara was hot. They should've casted a rapper on this season.

Season 12: Las Vegas
Ryan Sez: This is the reason I stopped watching the show. It turned into a hedonistic, vile piece of trash, no better than Ricki Lake or Jerry Springer. Pregnancies, sex, and alcohol was thrown about like a hoochie showin' off the goods. I suppose that it was "appropriate" that for the show to go this far, it take place in Vegas, but Lord Almighty! It was like STDs suddenly appeared on my television screen. I think I had to take Haz-Mat showers every time I watched the show.

...That's it. No more good seasons. I've watched a bit of the San Diego season a few years ago while I was doing laundry and it didn't do much for me. So, stop watching TV, otherwise, you'll find yourself writing meaningless commentary about an equally meaningless television show.

Monday, November 07, 2005

An Etiquette Guide for Club Goers and Bar Patrons

Despite what most people assume, DJs only have one job: to make you shake your ass so you can buy more drinks. This last weekend I DJ'd a bar where some frat kids kept shouting: "Play Meat Loaf! Meat Looooaaaffff!" I responded by playing Malcolm McClaren. Now getting requests to hear stuff is nothing new, it's just damn annoying. If these people were so hard up on hearing "I Would Do Anything For Love," then they should've left, went home, and downloaded it from iTunes for $.99! It would've saved me the trouble of hearing them bitch. These are the moments where I pine for the days when I used to be elevated from the crowd. Still, I thought it through and decided to write down my opinions on how to treat your local DJ:

1. Do not make requests:
I, personally, will only honor requests from the bar staff and it's because they're paying me. I do not want your silly ass coming up to me asking to hear some Journey. If you don't like what I'm playing, go somewhere else. Or get an iPod and become a wack ass DJ yourself.

2. Don't dance too close and bump my table:
Over the last year, I've been doing house parties and people never seem to understand the phrase: "Get the fuck away from my table, you're making my needles skip!" But seriously, if you're going to be the person who screws up the vibe, then prepared to get destroyed by at least a hundred drunk people who just want to dance.

3. Don't bring drinks to the table:
In addition to sober people making requests, we have drunk people who make requests. They visibly have had too much to drink and they spill their shit all over my records. Bollocks, I says.

4. Let the DJ know that they're doing a good job:
Everybody -- be it president, landlord, whore -- likes to hear compliments. If the DJ has successfully put the groove to your rear, then let them know, otherwise, they'll feel even more underappreciated. It's kind of like tipping your bartender.

5. Get your wack ass CD/record away from me:
Don't slink up to the DJ booth when a demo in your hand expecting them to play it at that exact moment. We'll play what we please. This ain't the MC Hammer story. If someone hands me something, I'll take it home and listen to it there and decide whether it'll make my set the following week. If it doesn't make the cut, then I'll have a new drink coaster.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hey Racists, Get Your Hella Grooooooove On.

A few months ago, this article appeared in the Washington Post regarding a theme night in New York called "Kill Whitey." The story and issue has since been addressed on Poplicks, as well as Brainwashed (the latter being a bit more interesting since there's confirmed involvement/colorful quotes from one-half of annoying indie duo CocoRosie).

Well now party people, we have another example of so-called education being put to good and socially positive use. MTV (of all resources) reported a "Thuggin'" theme party at the University of Chicago, in which mostly white students participated in living a "Black" lifestyle by wearing big pants, gold chains, and drinking 40s from paper bags.

While there are many issues to address, I think the obvious is the most important: who the hell thought this would be a good idea?!?

It reminds me of when I first commented on the "Kill Whitey" story in Poplicks (via Myspace) and someone replied to my opinions (which was addressing the ignorance of hipsters by their embrace of hip-hop excess [see: 50 Cent, fashion, 40 oz., etc.] and not their enjoyment of the music/art) as "not being able to take a joke."

It's interesting when people who come from a conformed, homogenic society such as suburbia treat Black culture as a joke. As an Asian-American, I don't feel like it's exclusively a "white" thing to adapt Black culture, I just think that white suburban kids are lampooning and making light of a whole race of people.

An incident a year ago while working at Tower Records happened where an Asian woman sought me out specifically because I was the only ethnic employee there. She was looking for a Mario Winans CD, but just referred to him as "Mario" (apparently, they're such good friends that they were on a first name basis), so I kept showing her CD for Mario the kiddie R&B singer. When I didn't realize that she was looking for the Winans brother she said, "Don't you know anything about Black music?" I suppose I could've gone on some tangent about my extensive knowledge of soul and jazz, but I don't think that would've gotten me much sympathy.

Her statement, as well as growing up around other Asian-Americans, made realize that perhaps people who are not Caucasian tend to embrace African-American culture because that is the closest American culture we have to relate to in mainstream society. While that thought alone is a no-brainer for any person in a freshman sociology class, it definitely begs the question of who can appropriate what.

Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans also make up a lot of hip-hop's audience to the point where we have our own idols to look up to whether it's DJ Q-Bert (a Filipino) or Kid Frost (a Mexican). Still, if/when we participate in hip-hop and African-American culture it's never questioned, but probably because we're not making fun of it. There are hardly ever any ill intentions (hardly being a choice word there).

In the incidents regarding the "Kill Whitey" and "Thuggin'" parties, these people were clearly attempting to participate in hip-hop, but they were doing it in jest. Imitating what media outlets such as MTV and BET have shown them and not realizng that they're no better than Al Jolson in blackface.

I'm not suggesting that all white people are "cooning" it up when it comes to hip-hop. Far from it. I just think that in these circles -- hipsters and ignorant college kids -- it's more of a case of laughing at the other (probably because they fear the other, then again, I'm no psychologist). It just seems to happen real frequently and without consequence. I seriously think that it's time that those of us who are involved in the hip-hop community take a deep breath and start putting in calls to M.O.P.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Better Than Sara Lee

I'm a fan of Jason Lee and like many people in their twenties, my fascination began with this gentleman's scene-stealing performance in Kevin Smith's "Mallrats," and not "My Name Is Earl," like most people who just discovered TiVo. But I suppose that appreciating the man is still better than ignoring his nearly flawless body of work. Not to say that Lee has been in movies that haven't sucked, in fact, most of the Jason Lee movies I prefer watching are downright horrible and are almost carried on the shoulders of a man who once played someone named "Banky." Here's a list of craptastic movies that were made better by Jason Lee and Jason Lee alone:

1. Kissing A Fool (1998)
This was supposed to be David Schwimmer's tour-de-force as he broke out of his "Ross" mold and played an oversexed TV sportscaster. What it actually ended up being was Lee's first leading role and his occassional fall back (i.e. spineless, dorky guy with a heart of gold; see: "Heartbreakers," "Mumford")

2. Enemy Of The State (1998)
I hate Will Smith. The once-Fresh Prince isn't so fresh these days. Lee plays a computer nerd and dies in the first few minutes of the flick. His short presence in the movie destroys Will Smith's character's life for the next 70 minues, so you almost feel vindicated.

3. Big Trouble (2002)
I read this book and absolutely loved it. It was charming, brilliant and would've made for a good movie. Would've. Instead, the movie bares very little similarities to the book and is only saved by Lee's role as the homeless recluse "Puggy."

4. A Guy Thing (2003)
This is a slow, dim-witted movie and is the acting vehicle for Julia Stiles' breasts. Lee does show up playing his dorky/lovelorn archetype and does it well. Great flick for Lee and ONLY for Lee.

5. Heartbreakers (2001)
I saw this on an airplane somewhere and I thought it was dumbest piece of shit ever. It's a waste of film. Jason Lee plays a guy who's to be conned out of his money by Jennifer Love Hewitt, which confirms my longtime suspicion that Ms. Hewitt is indeed a parasidic succubus. This movie isn't any good at all. Don't watch it.

Jason Lee is in some fine flicks, too: "Mumford," "Chasing Amy," "Almost Famous." Those are all worth a purchase or rental at your local video store. Just not "Heartbreakers." I feel like I should burn my hands just for typing those words.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Noodling in August

August Burns Red
"Thrill Seeker"
(Solid State)

Dear Solid State Records,

I know that you've had some recent success with Norma Jean, but can you please stop signing bands that sound EXACTLY like them.

Additionally, as a music and art fan, I do not appreciate bands that have aimless guitar solos like they were Eddie Van Halen and sloppy, proto-typical artwork.

Furthermore, this band is called August Burns Red, which has got to be one of the stupidest names in all of music (and that includes Arsenio Hall's rap persona "Chunky A"). It's like they went to one of those websites that has an Emo Name Generator and got that name. It's really stupid.

So, good luck in the future and please think twice before you manufacture and distribute another cookie-cutter metalcore band like Stupid Band Name (f.k.a. August Burns Red).


Ryan P.

another reason why the convergence of technology and corporate america sucks

This was originally posted on Paste Punk, but I'd thought I'd repost the link for the hell of it. In short, those awesome Copy Controlled discs from Sony/BMG (i.e. Static Lullaby, Acceptance, Dave Matthews Band) have software on them to jack up your PC. Have fun.