Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The dawning of a new type of indie label...

Over the weekend, I had the chance to watch the Lucero DVD, "Dreaming in America," (review coming soon) and there was an interview with Fred Feldman, who founded Triple Crown Records (Brand New, Scraps & Heart Attacks) and currently heads East West (Warner Bros.), and he talked about signing Lucero and giving the band their own label, Liberty and Lament. A similar deal was given to Nightmare of You for their Bevonshire imprint. As I was watching this, it reminded me of an e-mail that was authored by Lyor Cohen when he took over Warner Music Group, basically explaining the resurrection of the East West and Asylum labels and their plans. Shortly afterwards, Tony Brummel of Victory Records sent out a response bashing Cohen's plan.
Here's the e-mail exchange if you want to read it. (Courtesy of Punknews.com)

Much of DVD deals with Lucero's desire to own the master of "Nobody's Darlings," as well as have a decent record deal, and the formation of Liberty and Lament made that desire into reality. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that Nightmare of You probably has a similar deal with their label. Now while artist-owned vanity labels are nothing new, the ownership of the master recordings are, and labels almost always get the masters until the company dissolves and the recordings eventually end up in public domain, if not in a sea of litagation.

It's pretty funny that Brummel went out of his way to criticize (not to mention personally bash) Feldman and WMG's business practices when none of the artists on Victory own their master recordings, which is probably why Taking Back Sunday's debut has been released three times (first as a standard, then with enhanced content, and most recently with a DVD). Many of the bands don't even have publishing rights.

I'm not suggesting that all major labels, specifically Warner Bros., are perfect, but at least in the case of the East West and Asylum imprints, they're retaining artists' rights.

A few years ago, I had a chance to interview members of a defunct Victory band called Student Rick. The drummer at the time seemed displeased with the label. "They're only giving Taking Back Sunday a push now," he said. "They don't care about the bands that don't make them money." According to them, their tours were self-funded and often took place at churches or houses, while other Victory bands enjoyed sponsored tours throughout the U.S. in mid-sized venues.

I guess I wouldn't be writing this sort of thing if Brummel didn't go out of his way to publicly talk shit about major labels, when he can easily be exposed as a hyprocite for inflicting the same practices that people like Steve Albini and Ian McKaye have warned against. I just hope that the bands on his label will be smart enough to renegotiate their contracts, then again, they might be happy with the 10% discount from Hot Topic.

[Related Links]
Thursday Leaves Victory
MCA Acquires Victory

album(s) o the day

Amanda Rogers
"Daily News"
(Immigrant Sun)

More Emm Gryner than Gwen Stefani, Amanda Rogers' sophomore album, "Daily News," is the kind that you listen to and you realize why you fall in love with the girls in the art department, rather than the cold, calculating alcoholic zombies in marketing. Rogers dishes out a well-proportioned ratio of melancholy stanzas to skillful piano playing. This album is strong enough to bring the most jaded music fan to their knees.

The Roots
"Illadelph Halflife"

The Roots' third record "Illadelph" is often touted as their strongest of their catalog. The improvisation of "Do You Want More?!?!?" is removed in place of stronger rhyming and structured hip-hop tunes. It's also a darker record which explores the nature of biters ("Clones"), posers ("What They Do"), and self-doubt ("UNIverse at War"). ?uestlove and gang use elements of opera, jazz, and good ol' hip-hoppin' to make a truly classic album, a notion that is played upon the album's back cover with a parody of the cover art for "Meet the Beatles."

[Related Links]
Amanda Rogers
The Roots

Monday, January 30, 2006

Got a case of the Mondays?

Create your own motivational poster!

Here are some that I made this morning:

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pink vs. "the stupid girls" and more...

* Pink's new video for "Stupid Girls" makes fun of all of those Hollywood celebs that need to get a swift roundhouse kick to their collective faces. The song's not really catchy, but it's a well made point nonetheless. It's like that the time when I bought the Dixie Chicks CD because they spoke out against Bush.

* An explaination for the prior post: this morning I came into work a little disappointed and frustrated and that post is what I had in me. After having the whole day to weigh my options and think about how I feel, I don't think I will give up. My fiancee pointed out that I still got a lot closer than 245 other people, so there's no reason to be discouraged. It's kind of like being a band on an independent label and waiting for the right major label exposure. It'll happen but only with determination. Like Corey Hart said, "Never surrender."

* Punknews posted about some indie labels/distributors going against Bust Buy's $7.99 promotion for other indie releases. Releases include: Panic! At the Disco, Dangerdoom, Bloc Party, Underoath, and Aiden, along with some scattered Matador titles.

Funny thing about those releases is that none of them are truly indie. Fueled By Ramen is distributed through the Universal Music Group, Epitaph and Vice are through Warners (soon to be EMI, by the way), Victory Records is distributed through RED (Sony), and Tooth and Nail is distributed through EMI (not to mention that the Nail has been "incorporated" for some time). Many of those releases would've eventually ended up at Best Buy, whether or not this sale would've happened.

So really, I think the only shady thing about the promotion is that Best Buy is marketing it as an indie/outside of the box sale since many of those bands have already received a ton of exposure through Pitchfork and MTV.

The kids who will go to Best Buy either a) don't have independent record stores where they live or b) just don't care, and the nature of the suburban youth usually weighs on the later. They just want to consume and that's what many of those indie/not-indie bands represent.

It reminds me of this interview I had with Nabil Ayers from Sonic Boom Records where he said that people will shop at Best Buy if they're looking for a Top 40 release, or need to be told what to buy, people will shop at indie stores if they want to converse and find people to relate to. There's a lot of validity in the idea that he never looked at chain stores as a competition because the people who will want to shop there will go there. Since the interview back in 2001, Sonic Boom has opened up two more stores in the Seattle area. Here's an image version of Nabil's feelings:

* And I give you the next big business in the dot com industry: Huh.

Tired of Being Broke and Broken

Rejection is a hard pill to swallow; it doesn’t matter if you’re 14 or 40, heartbreak always ends the same way. Over the past two weeks, I applied for a position at a local alternative newspaper and last week, I got an interview. In between the interview and actually hearing the outcome of it, I broke one of my own rules: I’d put all my eggs in a single, proverbial basket. So ultimately, when it came time for said publication to tell me that they offered the position to someone else, I watched helplessly as my professional goals and personal life unravel rapidly.

As I’ve stated many times, I’ve been writing for the better part of a decade (actually, it’s a decade in September) and I love it. The challenge to be confined to a small space, but have the ability to convey emotions, opinions and ideas is something that I never tire of. Even when I was burned out on writing at 17, I found myself at Skratchcast and Urban Earth, within months of proclaiming my exodus. It’s something that I have built my life around.

Within the last year, I felt that having a degree in the field, I should actually make a run for it. Since graduating from college, I’ve run the gamut of jobs: record store clerk, bank employee, video store clerk, and production technician (whatever that means). So, I sent out resumes and writing samples to many of my favorite publications, eventually only hearing back from one, in the form of a rejection. But, being the optimist that I am, I soldiered on. Which leads us here: for almost 12 months, I’ve been pecking away, trying to find my place within the newspaper world and, still, nothing.

My recent rejection is just another corpse in the graveyard of failures. I guess I’m taking this one pretty hard because it seemed the most promising. I feel that these days, few people are really saying something of value, this is especially true of alternative weeklies. It would’ve been great to have the potential to scream some of the thoughts that I’ve had in my head since I was 15, but that’s not the way it’s going to be this time. I’m not sure if the person who they chose over me will fall into the category of apathetic, hip writer, or if they’ll be one of the few with valid feelings about the world around us.

Last night, I came to the conclusion that having the rug pulled from beneath you time after time is just cause to put it all away forever. I wrestled with my conviction about God. I see why people don’t believe in God. It’s easier to accept that the shortcomings in your life are either of your doing, or just bad luck. Throw God into the mix and, instead, you find yourself questioning whether God really cares about you if you’ve been suffering in one form or another since you were five.

There’s a lot that I’ve been through in my short life; many things that would’ve broken people long ago. I’ve always moved on, but after years and years of taking it, it’s beginning to wear on me. I’ve spent years being told that I will get my opportunity to say what I have say, and every year it drifts farther and farther away from me.

I don’t know if I will continue to write or not. I wish I could end this on a positive note and give a rousing motivational finale, but that’s not how real life works anymore. When your family depends on you and you let them down, it’s easier to sell yourself – and your dream – out for their benefit.

In my head, I keep going back to this memory I had when I was 16: this kid, who was probably about 12 or 13, told me that he liked my writing and that he was inspired to write because there were no other Filipino people he could look up to. Moments like that don’t happen anymore and only time will tell if they’ll ever happen again.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

last call for alcohol

a little known tidbit about ryan p:

i don't drink alcohol. not to say that i've never gone out and got completely trashed for the sake of getting trashed, but it's been nearly a year since i had my last sip of "the drank." going back to a non-meat diet followed suit shortly after, so i can say that i feel a little healthy. there are many reasons that i could go off on, but it's a lengthy list and i don't feel strong enough about the issue in general to go on a tirade about it. to me, sobriety is a personal matter, not unlike religion. i'm not really in a position to castigate anyone who drinks because:

a) the drinking habits of other people doesn't directly affect me (unless they're driving drunk, but that's another matter altogether)

b) i do not claim straight edge (or hardline, if you want to get technical)

c) having been a druken fool myself, i have no room to speak on it


joel to the h examines the battle between "your" and "yr"


the new issue of redefine featuring my interview with nightmare of you, a feature about tattoos, and several reviews is available now. it's free and can be picked up at these locations. read it for allen huang's musings on music...that guy will be famous someday.


alkaline trio has a new video for "burn" (which was the weakest song off of "crimson"). in the vaudville-themed video, the trio play their usual performance clip BS as girls and freaks dance around them. the one thing that grabbed my attention was that matt skiba (with make up) looks like billy corgan from the "machina" era of the smashing pumpkins.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This is why major labels suck

Various Artists
"Future Retro"

Somewhere in Los Angeles, a young 20-something record exec, who discovered 80's music when they rented "The Wedding Singer" from Blockbuster, thought it would be a good idea if they took some of the 80's hits that they heard from the clubs they do blow at and have contemporary dance producers remix them. You know what else is a good idea? Finding this asshat and executing Redman's "Six Million Ways to Die" quote.

On this terrible, terrible comp, The Cure, Morrissey, INXS, Depeche Mode, New Order and a bunch of other bands who are on hands and knees waiting for their royalty checks get the remix treatment. All the tunes are morphed from cornerstones of musicianship and melody to something that would've appeared in that stupid Katie Holme's rave movie "Go."

I guess this is some attempt to cash in to the children who are still wishing that they were living in the 80's (even though the majority of them were born in 1985 and forward) with their terrible asexual haircuts, disgusting sense of fashion and desire to do a rail in the Cha Cha's bathroom. Most of these same kids have trust funds, so they'll probably drop the $15 it costs to buy this piece of shit. Oh well. I'm sure they'll sell it back to the record store for more coke money within a few weeks.

'Fugee-La' is slang for 'Sell out'

Many moons ago, the Fugees announced that they were reuniting and working on a new album. Since then, one lackluster song has been circulating on the internet and I thought, 'That was that,' until this morning when a pop-ad for Verizon came up on my screen, prominently showing the Fugees.

The Fugees, in their heyday, never did this sort of schuck and jive before. This is the sort of thing I would expect from Wyclef or Pras, but Lauryn Hill? She's supposed to be the reasonable one. She's the sort of woman that is to be a pillar of example to young women everywhere (except for that whole, 'I'd rather abort my own child than accept that white people buy my music' thing).

But I guess Verizon has stockholders to please and if giving the Fugees a ton of money for free downloads of their new (and possibly crappy) songs, as well as their likeness rights, is what it takes then so be it.

By the way, have these people realized that their hasn't been a Fugees song in major rotation since 1997? Just a thought.

[Related Links]
Cell-ing our Children

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

motownphilly back again

random things before i move on to bigger and better things:

- in an interview with decoymusic.com, former further seems forever singer jason gleason says:

"Well Tooth And Nail is run by Satan, and that’s pretty much the reason. Myself, Bella, and Salvatore had the worst experience with that label."

- sleep station (who has recently been reincarnated as new london fire) has a very underrated album called "runaway elba-1," and the world needs to know.

- and yes, nas has signed to def jam, meaning that we'll see some awesome crossover guests on his next album that could include the most creative visionaries in the last 100 years: bon jovi, sum 41, fall out boy, joe budden, ja rule, ne-yo (wtf?), and the killers. ha! actually, given that dj premier has said in print that he will work on the next nas album, it'll probably be pretty good.

- finally, what's another release week without some shitty hardcore/metalcore/screamo/extream-o band releasing an unncessary reissue of a shitty album?

(from theprp.com):

"It Dies Today will be reissuing their latest effort "The Caitiff Choir" as a CD/DVD package through Trustkill on March 21st. The new version will feature the album remixed by producer Eric Rachel (Atreyu, God Forbid) and will also be remastered with all new artwork. In addition, the re-recorded versions of the material from their "Forever Scorned" EP will also be included, plus their cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence". Furthermore, the DVD portion will include the videos for the tracks "A Threnody For Modern Romance", "Severed Ties Yield Severed Heads" and "Enjoy The Silence", complete with behind the scenes footage of all 3 clips compiled by director Darren Doane."

somewhere, off in the distance, kerry king is wondering why he even bothers in the first place.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Let's Hear It For Love: Will the Smoking Popes Ver. 2.0 Survive in the 2K6?

I first became aware of the Smoking Popes over 10 years ago because of a little coming-of-age flick called "Angus." They contributed a song ("Mrs. You and Me") to the soundtrack, which I was a fan of since it had Weezer, The Riverdales, and plenty of other bands who went onto obscurity.

I'd forgotten all about the band until five years ago when I was talking to Kris Roe about bands that inspired us to make music and he brought up the Popes. A few weeks later, I was shopping at Ameoba Records in San Francisco and I found "Destination: Failure" and "Born To Quit" in a clearance bin. I quickly snatched them up since they had been long out-of-print.

Months after my find, Double Zero released "Live" and "The Party's Over," a collection of so-so covers that was to be their swan song.

Now over a decade after hearing my first Smoking Popes song (and relentlessly ripping off "Star Struck One" and "Just Broke Up" in various bands), they've reunited, signed with Victory, and are releasing another live album (with DVD, of course).

This is sort of a weird thing for me to wrap my head around since lead singer Josh Caterer broke up the band after accepting God and, in turn, forming Duvall, a band that is sonically identical to the Smoking Popes, yet walks that thin line of "are they/aren't they" Christian rock. Many of the Popes' songs center around heartache and honesty and in his heyday, Caterer was never shy about throwing a swear word or four into his tunes.

I guess I also see this reunion as being a bit forced since many bands, namely Bayside and Alkaline Trio, have made their careers based around lifting the Smoking Popes' self-loathing-lyrics-backed-by-up-tempo-pop-punk sound. They're probably just trying to get their due. And I can honestly say that there's probably no reason why they shouldn't. There's a new generation of heartbroken kids who need some refreshing tunes to save them from John Hughes-penned angst and out-of-control make-up rock. The Smoking Popes have those kind of songs, let's just see if they continue to hold up, or if they'll be regurgitated in a world of screamo-ing.

[Related Links}
Smoking Popes
Smoking Popes on Myspace

Friday, January 20, 2006

album o' the day

Tegan and Sara
"So Jealous"

"So Jealous" is pretty much the antidote for the drab Friday morning I'm experiencing in my Seattle office right now. It's cold and wet outside and not even the promise of donuts or hot cocoa can put an end to this endless winter.

Then I discovered the enhanced portion of my copy of "So Jealous" and fell back in love with Tegan and Sara Quin and their infectious brand of power pop. Though there's underlying theme of rejection, the album's hooky melodies make it very contrary to feeling like crap.

So here's to more freezing Friday mornings; as long as I've got "So Jealous," I think the world will be a better place.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

it's like myspace, but cooler and without the corporate ties!!!

Friendsorenemies.com is a site that's like an alternative Myspace for the Myspace generation (read: young, somewhat computer savvy, mostly white, suburban kids) and since I'm such a media whore, I decided to sign up.

The site, though still in a beta stage, is still a little easier on the eyes. So far I haven't encountered a bunch of shameless half-naked bimbos, older sex-craved businessmen, people who frequent nightclubs and drink Incredible Hulks, or annoying layouts created with half-assed HTML skills

The major aesthetic difference of FOE is that you can also add "enemies" to your profile, going along with that old mafia mantra: "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

At this point, it's probably a little too soon to determine whether it'll by a hit like Myspace or fail like Friendster. Although with all the free advertising that FOE honcho and occasional musician, Pete Wentz, has been giving, I wouldn't be surprised if we were talking about how all the cool kids are on Friendsorenemies and only dorks use Myspace.

dis songs and other fun things

everybody is writing about cam'ron's shot at jay-z, "you got it." it's pretty terrible, even as far as dis songs go. personally, i think my favorite battle songs are "dear el-p" by sole and "real muthapukkin' g's" by eazy-e. man, those are some serious jams.

a site worthy of mention: fab channel. they have streaming live footage of an assortment of rockin' bands like these arms are snakes, bright eyes (doing both his acoustic and electronic stuff), bloc party, open hand, stars, black rebel motorcyle club, etc.

gawker posted a shortened version of a testimony that paris hilton gave and they threw a nice little PS at the end.

have you heard the new cat power album? damn it's good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

album o' the day

Tha Alkaholiks
"Coast II Coast"

There aren't many rap groups who can command respect from true hip-hop heads, while publicly proclaiming that their only goals are to get tanked, laid and high. Then there are Tha Alkaholiks, whose 1992 debut "21 & Over," is Bacchanalian excess commited to tape. Though they managed to have a string of hits such as "Make Room" and "Mary Jane," they never seemed to be anything more than a trio of drunk, oversexed rappers.

And then came 1995's "Coast II Coast" which still contained many of their familar party themes, but solidified the group as strong emcees who knew how to pick beats. "Daaam," the first single was backed by a Diamond D beat and surrounded by incredibly witty lyrics. It was a simple formula, but it managed to be Tha Alkaholiks' strength.

"Coast" was very much a mature album, not only stylistically, but in the records that followed, Tha Liks would to surround themselves with an extended family who were insanely talented -- Xzibit, Lootpack, Madlib, and Defari, just to name a few.

But "Coast II Coast" is their transition from drunken fools to respectable fools, and with their final album looming in the foreseeable future, listening to the album is the best way to celebrate.

what-up dates

you'll notice three new links: a FAQ link i just added and two lists for DVDs and my record collection. yes, it's a bit nerdy of me, but that's what i do to keep my self a little entertained. the lists are works in progress so that's not everything, just what i can remember.

byron crawford wrote a post about aaron mcgruder's episode of "the boondocks" that featured an out of touch and living dr. king. check it!

i'm off to lunch now, so i'll be back within the hour to post some more crap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

the coolness presents the snippet post

Senator Hilary Clinton likens the Bush Administration to a plantation. The White House has yet to comment and conservatives have no idea what she's talking about, as per usual . Here's a snippet:

"The House 'has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about,' said Clinton, D-N.Y. 'It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.'"

Ya don't say? That can't be true, can it? I don't know...should we rewind back to last November in the Murtha v. Schmidt debacle that led to the biggest televised Republican fuckup in the last year?

Or just watch the SNL version. It's more or less the same.

[props to bornbackwards.com for posting these links back in nov.]


Former Roots keyboard wiz and "hot" producer (can anybody say Da Rockwilder?), Scotty Storch, lets loose about his excesses, "relating" with Paris Hilton and Lil' Kim, and boasts about charging $80,000-$90,000 a song. WTF? This guy might be jobless once people figure out that Casio made a keyboard with preprogrammed Swizz Beatz tracks on it. Maybe Pete Rock and Marley Marl should come back and end this toy's career.


Despite rumors and fraudulent bands scamming money from sponsors, Warped Tour honcho Kevin Lyman said that he will not shut down the tour, which makes me wonder, "What else can I do to make him quit?"

FYI: Charging $40 a ticket, $20 for a bottle of water, $35 for a Transplants hoodie, getting dirt kicked into your eye by some asshole who just discovered hair dye and Anti-Flag, Alkaline Trio tattoos, allowing the US Marine Corps to set up a recruitment tent, and touring in tour buses is not very punk rock.

Be back later, my sweets.

Friday, January 13, 2006

slang words that should be cool again

the slang words and catch phrases that people use these days are stupid. here's a list of my favorite terms of my day:

ron artest
bubb rubb
bubb rubb remix

why other countries make fun of america

According to MSN and Forbes, Paris Hilton made $6.5 million and her listed profession is "personality." (whether she has one or not is up for debate).

This article claims that the average 2000/2001 salary for a school teacher in New Mexico was $33,785.

Surely, I can't be the only person who sees a problem here. But then again, I don't give a crap that Nick and Jessica broke up, either.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

you are the falling star

Earlier today I started thinking about how annoying those stickers at the top of all of Victory Records' releases are. They compare the band that they're trying to sell to bands and genres that don't even come close. For example on the Black Maria's sticker it reads: "For fans of Muse, AFI and The Used!" But The Black Maria sounds like some cookie cutter late 90's rock band like Third Eye Blind.

Lately, Victory has probably committed more crimes than Drive Thru, Vagrant, and Fat put together. For one thing, Victory's growing roster has an uneven ratio of listenable bands to bands that should be considered musical atrocities. Let's look at the list....

Good bands currently on Victory:
  • Spitalfield
  • Straylight Run
  • Darkest Hour
  • Bayside
  • Smoking Popes (this is questionable since they've yet to put something out on the label and all their good stuff was on Capitol anyway)

Here's a list of the crap bands on Victory:

  • Atreyu
  • Aiden
  • Bury Your Dead
  • Action Action
  • A Perfect Murder
  • Waterdown
  • The Black Maria
  • The Forecast
  • Hawthorne Heights
  • June
  • The Audition
  • The Junior Varsity
  • Scars Of Tomorrow
  • The Hurt Process
  • The Tossers

Man, my fingers are starting to ache, typing all those bands out. But you can see my point. Don't get me wrong, there's some Victory releases in my shelf at home, but they're either something that's fucking incredible (Thursday) or something I got for free (Silverstein). It just seems at some point they just stopped caring, or at least started to care about money rather than the message. Early Victory bands such as Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Hatebreed, Grade, and Boy Sets Fire were actually good. They were politically and socially meaningful. Even an "emo" band like Grade stood on a higher platform than some of that wack sing/scream shit that Victory is releasing these days. It's just disgusting.

I hope that some day Victory Records stops becoming a money making machine for someone's townhouse in Chicago and becomes a real record label again.

album o' the day

DJ Jazzy Jeff
"The Soul Mixtape"

Hey scenester, put your copy of "Trapped In The Closet" away because here's some real R&B you may appreciate. Actually, dead that. The only other R&B album you might own is TLC's "CrazySexyCool" or Usher's "Confessions" so you probably wouldn't know good music if it had a parade in your living room while you're trying to catch up on "The O.C."

The man of ...The Fresh Prince fame has had somewhat of a career resurgence since his 1999 blends mixtape and it's been pretty much uphill for Jeff since he hasn't been riding Will Smith's tattered coattails. In addition to discovering Jill Scott, 9th Wonder, and producing some of the best underground hip-hop that doesn't come from some mushmouthed southern rapper, Jazzy Jeff has taken it upon himself to put together a compilation featuring some of the best R&B artists you've never heard.

The overall vibe is mid-to-late 70's soul from the Tappan Zee-inspired song "Build a Fire" by Michael Bohannon to the Pete Rock-produced Leela James track "No Tears," there's some serious winners here. Unlike most "mixtapes" there's actual mixing involved here and not some idiot shouting over an intro "EXCLUSIVE CUT!! FA RILLL!!! CRUNK!!!" or whatever slang terms are hep with the children these days.

It's a nice subdued album to put in your stereo on a lazy Sunday and isn't that what being a Jazzy Jeff is all about?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wet Hot American Baxter

The Baxter
Starring: Michael Showalter, Michelle Williams, Paul Rudd, members of Stella/The State/Wet Hot American Summer

Like many people in their mid-20's, I remember watching this show on MTV called "The State," a sketch show that had much of the off center, comic bookish humor that I was accustomed to, and not the dumbed down variety like the early 90's run of "SNL." Unlike some of my same-aged peers, however, "The State" and its various sketch incarnations such as "Viva Variety" and like-minded "Upright Citizens Brigade" stays intact with vivid memories because I did not ravage my brain cells with drugs or multi-flavored Slurpees.

Many of "The State's" principal cast went on to other non-sketch comedy related projects like "Dawson's Creek," "I Love the 80's," and "Stella." In 2001, most of the cast reunited for an off-kilter camp comedy called "Wet Hot American Summer" and like "The State" it was massively insane and funny. With a second wind in their collective bodies, "The State" kids go at it again with "The Baxter."

A departure from the shock and shuck of "Wet Hot," "The Baxter" relies on the subtle and tepid humor of screwball comedies (see: "My Man Godfrey") and it's plot alone is unique. The story goes like this: in every great romantic comedy, there is always the "other person" (i.e. Tim Robbins in "High Fidelity" or Patrick Dempsey in "Sweet Home Alabama") that the romantic interest is obviously not right for. But when the credits roll and our protagonist gets the person they've coveted, what happens to the other person? "The Baxter," as coined by Michael Showalter's Elliot Sherman, is the jilted ex-lover, the person who is left at the altar in all those trite movies.

Like the title suggests, "The Baxter" attempts to follow life of this person after the credits have finished and the theater staff is sweeping the aisles.

Sherman is backed by an unlikely sidekick in Cecil Mills (Michelle Williams), who plays the kind of leading lady role that Merna Loy would've died for in her heyday. As the story unfolds, you find that everybody is a baxter to some degree, Elliot merely plays an exaggerated, archetypal version.

What I thought was so great about this film is that it didn't try to repeat the schtick of "Wet Hot American Summer." It's a cohesive film, easy on the eyes and on the heart. Though it's influenced by the films of yesteryear, it works in 21st century as well and doesn't undermine the intelligence of the audience.

"The Baxter" is a damn sweet movie and everybody should watch it once. At least before ingesting a large size Vanilla Coke Slurpee.

why john cusack is better than collin farrell, bruce willis and other nameless hollywood hacks

"Must Love Dogs."

Yeah, when you take a look at it's plain cover art and read the story (abridged version: a recent divorcee starts internet dating, hilarity ensues), it's easy to write it off as another piece of Hollywood crap -- the kind that overshadows decent pictures such as "Better Luck Tomorrow," "Good Night and Good Luck," and "Bubba Ho-Tep." There's one element that makes this movie transcend the category of "barely passible" to "pretty fuckin' good": John Cusack. He's probably the only person with the initials J.C. that people of all faiths and non-faiths can respect and agree on.

Like a few actors before him (Gregory Peck and Cary Grant), Cusack can star in a steaming pile of a story like "Must Love Dogs" or "Serendipity" and turn it into a cinematic wonder. Sure this dude has some missteps ("Tapeheads" and "Roadside Prophets"), but for those few films that didn't work, he has an arsenal of work that validate him further -- "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," "Say Anything," "City Hall," "Cradle Will Rock," I could go on forever.

To me, the mark of a true actor is to not only appear in shitty movies and make it better, but to also appear in good movies and turn them into excellent films. And that's what Cusack has been doing for nearly 30 years. That's why he's a god among men and no flash-in-the-pan hack will ever touch him.

Related Links:
John Cusack's Blog
IMDB Resume
Say Anything the Band

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ozma returns! frank baum's estate re-readies lawsuit!

Of all the many groups who formed due to the success of Weezer, none were more fruitful than perhaps Ozma. In 2004, the band decided to call it quits and went on to start other powerpop bands or appear in Rilo Kiley side projects.

Well if you've been waiting for an Ozma reunion, congratulations, your wish came true. If you weren't waiting for these crazy kids to get back together, then sorry chump, better luck tomorrow.

While it's good that the band that ripped off Weezer and made better records than said Rivers Cuomo-led band will live to see another day, I'm a bit baffled at their break up to begin with. While other recently reunited bands such as Lifetime, Kid Dynamite and INXS, have waited years for their bands to come back into fruition and/or relevance, Ozma's return after a year and a half apart hasn't necessarily been warranted outside of how quiet most of their post-Oz bands have been.

Still, with they sudden explosion of keyboards amongst pop-punk bands, it's probably best that Ozma come back into the fold and show all these whippersnappers how the professionals do it.

With all these recent reunions, however, I'm only hoping that we won't see the return of Citizen King or Jimmie's Chicken Shack.

Monday, January 09, 2006

i am so s-m-r-t

according to msn, seattle is the most educated in the US.

"Data collected by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey shows that 51.3 percent of 25-and-over Seattleites have a bachelor's degree or higher...."

i'm glad to have contributed to that statistic, however, seattle is still:

a) a very expensive city to live in
b) has the worst drivers this side of california
c) has very little ethnic diversity within the proper metro area

but seattle still rocks! go whitefish! i mean, seahawks! football! yeah!

and on a completely unrelated note, aiden has gone from a terrible pop-punk vampire band to one of the few rock and roll bands to be immortalized as dolls:

from a customer called 'barbie fan' on amazon.com/sparkle retail:

"Ok fine....he IS kind of ugly,. but he's PERFECT for my actout!!!!His knees bend, his arms bend, oh and his hair....they seemed to put some men's hair gel so it's won't fly during the play.It's quite educational, because he tells kids not to be TOO disappointed...Yes.He dosen't come with skates, but on the bright side, he comes with shiver!!!And, why not make some skates???I don't have Brietta the pegasus, and yet, I made paper wings and used that for my normal horse instead...I don't have crowns, so took it off from my old princess Barbie.It's already a good smile for a MEN!!!!wHAT DO YOU EXPECT??(Oops....Capitalized....)Well overall....it;s a Barbie, it's prince Aidan,And he is kindof the main character, so why not try??His clothes are good afterall....Hope this Helps!!Barbie Fan "

i shall return with better shit to say later in the day (hey i'm a poet and i didn't even know it)

Friday, January 06, 2006

in an era of jackass-ery

you have to love the internet, specifically google video. the gv has a ton of stupid video brought to us by people who have high-speed internet, video cameras, photoshop, and way too much time on their hands. below is a list of some of my favorites so far:

(ps: all of these are work safe)

mortal kombat

fall out boy, "dance dance" (it's a little like the video posting from earlier and though not as good, it's still crude and funny.)

get up kids (a collection of old footage that was originally going to appear on the scrapped get up kids dvd)

warped tour + "hackers" = underworld: evolution...the soundtrack!

Various Artists
"Underworld: Evolution Soundtrack"

It's the return of Chasing Coolness Funtime Review:

Underworld: Evolution Soundtrack: Hi, I'm the soundtrack for a sequel to a movie that did marginally well, yet was panned across the board by horror/sci-fi fans alike because I had a badass story that went absolutely nowhere. You'd think that the cash in on "Underworld 1" was over with the release of the special edition DVD, but it's not.

Anyway, like the "Blade" and "Judgement Night" soundtracks*, I'm made up of electronic producers who've teamed up with the world's leading pop-punk and "metal" labels (Vagrant, Victory, and Roadrunner) to put together an obviously bad idea. Even though another pop-punk meets techno soundtrack came out ages ago and failed, I won't because I have Aiden on my tracklisting!

Atreyu: ROARRRR!!!! We're Atreyu. We have a song on the soundtrack that wasn't good enough to make the tracklisting of our upcoming NINE song album. It's not as sweet as our heinous cover of Bon Jovi's "Bad Name," but it's still pretty good. There's this one part where we go "RAWRRRR!!!" and then what's-his-name does a cool guitar solo on his guitar that looks like a broken toy.

Alkaline Trio: Even though we've been together for 10 years and we're still opening up for bands like My Chemical Romance, we're continuing our recent selling out by including a snazzy techno remix of "Burn" on the soundtrack. If you remember the tune, it sounded like a Linkin Park song, except not as good. Now with this electronica remix you can smoke pot and drop E while listening to our devlish music.

Aiden: Man, look at our press photo! We're just begging to be on a soundtrack to a vampire movie. The song that we gave "Underworld 2" is a single from our crappy CD. Sorry we weren't creative to write anything new. And for the 5 kids who bought our CD that this website slammed, don't worry, we'll buy you drugs and have sex with you.

The Lost Boys Soundtrack: New vampire movies and vampire soundtracks suck! We had the rockin' Doors cover by some band and that dude who played the saxophone for the concert beach scene. We rule, "Underworld: Evolution" doesn't!

Underworld Soundtrack: Yeah, nevermind...don't buy me. I'm only a huge waste of money and plastic. Go buy the new Some Girls album instead.

[*note: i realize that the 'blade' soundtrack was mainly electronic and hip-hop artists collaborating and 'judgement night' was rock and hip-hop artists, i was using those examples to merely demonstrate that this genre meets genre schtick has been done before. and by better artists.]

for your sluggish friday mornings...

a few things before i go post crazy for the rest of the day:

1. medication is damn expensive when you don't have insurance.

2. i was advised by my doctor to not eat sugar while i'm taking said medication, so i have to go without ice cream and candy for 10 days.

3. byron crawford, the self-proclaimed rhymefest career ender, wrote this awesome and incredibly accurate take on hipsters.

4. a little while ago i added absolute chump to the link list to your right. check it out...it's probably one of my favorite sites at the moment.

5. KOCH has been reissuing bob james' previously out-of-print catalog through his recently resurrected tappan zee imprint. do yourself a favor and start buying them up.

catch you in the hours....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

back in the day before i had status and before i had a pager

rather than lament on the last year, yesterday evening i found myself lamenting on the last 10 years. i was going through old published pieces and reading how much i've changed as a writer. for one thing, i'm not writing exclusively about hip-hop, which is kind of a sad thing. the other thing is i don't think i'm nearly as arrogant...yet i'm probably more of an asshole. ultimately, though, the last 10 years have slowly chipped away at my naivity as a person and it shows in my writing. i'm admittedly more jaded about music and i seldom find new bands and artists to be excited about. i'm not going to be 14 again, so i won't act like i give two shits about panic! at the disco. i've grown to loathe publications such as skratch (who still owe me two back issues and money from the 2004 warped tour issue), alternative press, and absolutepunk because they have a platform to really say something but they squander it away to write about what kind of m.a.c. make up gerard way uses.

...then i think about whether i'm saying something myself. at large, nobody cares that "drumline" is one of my favorite movies or that i really like nightmare of you. i'm not noam chomsky, or even john mccain, and i am not saying anything new, either. after the guilt melts away, i just say "fuck it. i love writing about the tunes that are shaping the world, so let's do this like brutus."

that's the last 10 years of my life as a writer. in a nutshell, of course.

exxxtra thoughts:

* megan seling's "FSU" piece, has spawned some interesting opinions on the Northwest Hardcore Message board: here and here.

* former season of death/breathless mahoney/the cootees singer jiles brandon has some songs on the internet available for your listening pleasure.

* avenged sevenfold is not a very good "metal" band.

* big business is an awesome "metal" band.