Wednesday, May 31, 2006

tidbits 5/31/06

it's been a while since i rocked one of these, huh?

* one of my favorite sites, has closed its (internet) doors. a statement is available here.

* former waxwing singer and star of the edge of quarrel, rocky votolato has a new music video here.

* before it gets completely shut down, peekvid has a ton of awesomeness.

* sasquatch came and went. bleh.

* the new "superman" soundtrack has a bunch of really, really shitty bands. there's a flaming lips cover by nightmare of you that's pretty good. download it on itunes.

* champion broke up and a million straight edge kids turned emo for a day. now they're all about sinking ships and whatnot.

* redefine will be publishing my interview with sinking ships as soon as i finish it (sometime tomorrow probably).

* watch tacoma's owen hart do that thing they do...(nsfw)

in rap slang would it be 'da da vinci code' or what?

Over my honeymoon, I had the chance to read the first half of "The Da Vinci Code," mostly to psyche myself for the movie starring the ever-loveable Tom Hanks ("Bosom Buddies" what?) and every indie rock boys' fantasy Audrey Tautou.

Unless you've been living under a rock, or Yakima, WA, then you're aware of all the "controversy" surrounding the book/movie -- mostly by people who are really into Jesus and their fear that unlightened people may take Dan Brown's book/movie as (pardon the pun) Bible truth.

Here's the thing, the book (I've yet to watch the film), is really, really mediocre. The most interesting part of the "The Da Vinci Code" is that Brown takes liberties with historical facts and creates this conspiracy theorist world that Mel Gibson would be proud of. As I made my way past the 50th chapter, however, I seemed to remember another Da Vinci-themed story that was less complicated, yet infinitely better than "Code."

"Hudson Hawk."

Again for those whose residence is beneath the earth or Yakima, let's recap. The year is 1991 and Bruce Willis takes Sony's money, as well as some of his own and makes the biggest stinker of the decade (and this was in the first year). With a budget of $65 million and earning $17 million, "Hudson Hawk" stands to be one of Hollywood's biggest disasters, perhaps bested by "The Postman." Despite its failure, however, it has a pretty good storyline (at least by Hollywood standards). Check it: career criminal, Hudson Hawk gets out of jail and is quickly blackmailed by a wouldbe gang and their financiers. The catch, Hawk must steal various works of Da Vinci art so these people/defacto alchemists can turn lead into gold.

While it's not nearly as intriguing, or as smart, as Brown's story, Hudson Hawk's dilemma preceeded "The Da Vinci Code" by 15 years. Yet in the wake of anti-Catholic sentiments and such, Bruce Willis' opus is overshadowed in favor of the higer profile "Code," which, again, is an intelligent story, but far less entertaining.

Ultimately, the point of my rant (other than to bitch about the lame hype surrounding "The Da Vinci Code" book and movie) is that the best way to remove press from the supposedly Anti-Christian film is to buy the upcoming Special Edition DVD of "Hudson Hawk." Toss that barebones version away and get the realness. I wonder if Sony put this out because of "The Da Vinci Code?" Probably. Still a better flick, though (maybe).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

angels and airwaves...not a new christian rock band

Angels and Airwaves
"We Don't Need To Whisper"

For all the hype surrounding Tom DeLonge's (ex-Blink 182) new band, it sounds like what you'd expect it to sound like: a Blink 182 album.

For what it's worth, all the hype has been brought on mostly by DeLonge himself, by doing a year's worth of press, calling his band the "next U2," posting short clips of the album's accompanying movie, and bringing on one of the greatest drummers in the genre (Atom Willard).

Sonically, "We Don't Need To Whisper" lifts its influence from the final Blink 182 record, an ecclectic cluster of electronic-rock-new wave moments pressed to wax. The album's best parts happen when there is no singing; "The Adventure" has a drawn out instrumental intro that encapsulates the strength of this band, but when DeLonge's recognizable whimper chimes in, the song is pretty much over.

Much of DeLonge's lyrics don't match the playing ability of the band, and reads more like junior high poetry rather than the Bono-like success that DeLonge is aiming for.

Angels and Airwaves may or may not get big, but one thing is certain, if you must own this album, you should hope that you could find it in the used section.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

wrecking reviews

The Wreckers
"Stand Still - Look Pretty"

The short story of The Wreckers will no doubt be one that people will forget, but for pop culture geeks like yours truly, it will surely be the tale of strife that only a handful of people would care to hear. Former pop princess (Michelle Branch) ready to move on in her career, (thanks in part to a Carlos Santana-penned hit) hits a wall with her label (Maverick) when they refuse to release an acoustic folk album, even though the songs and the "new" band had floated to a primetime television show ("One Tree Hill") and a headlining mid-sized venue tour had gone underway (orignally billed as The Wreckers featuring Michelle Branch). Said label passed on the album and the pop princess unleashed a firestorm of insults on her myspace (which has since been deleted). Then the label's parent company, Warner, is able to generate moderate success with another pop-folk-country-girl group hybrid (Eisley) and all is set to go with The Wreckers.

Though it should be noted that The Wreckers don't really sound anything like Eisley. For one thing, it's not nearly as atmospheric or dense. It's pop-country, not unlike the Dixie Chicks. But it's not idiotic like, let's say, Toby Keith. It's straight forward CMT stuff. Really easy to listen to, with a couple of potential big singles to make your ears pop.

"Tennesse," for example, has all the elements of a solo Michelle Branch tune (catchy, good vocal range) but mixed with a slide guitar and some shakers. In fact, save a few sparse moments, Michelle Branch never gives up the mic to her fellow Wrecker, Jessica Harp (who got her big break as Branch's back-up singer/best friend).

The reality is that "Stand Still - Look Pretty" is a new Michelle Branch record, but due to the nature of country music and fickle pop fans, it couldn't be sold to Branch's fanbase. Instead what we have is a sexified, prepackaged duo ready to be marketed to a demographic who realizes that there are no supermodels in their genre. Putting aside the obvious selling points of The Wreckers, however, their debut isn't half bad. If anything, it mirrors the band's story -- mildly interesting with a few moments of excitement.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ms. Sancha
(Low Profile Records)

Reviewing this is, as they say, shooting fish in a barrel. But seriously, how bad can a rapper named "Ms. Sancha" on the Chicano-centric rap label, Low Profile Records be? Pretty fucking bad.

Sancha's breath-y rap style is an exact rip-off of the sexy style that Lil' Kim had -- except it's for 50 minutes, rather than the occasional chorus.

The album's title track, Ms. Sancha proclaims that she will be your "internet slut," all the while going into specific details about various sex acts. The song is probably the pinnacle of hypocritical female rap -- on the one hand, Ms. Sancha raps about her troubled past (and inadvertaly becomes a gangsta in the process), but on the following track she talks about going down on some ese, all the while setting the collective women's lib movement back 100 years with the cover art alone.

Musically, is pretty much par for the course as far as west coast gangsta rap goes: over used Zapp samples, gun and sex talk, rap about cars, blah blah blah. Whoever produced this shit (there are no production credits on the liner notes, but an ad for Low Profile's releases, as well as a website called Latinas Gone Wilde), must've recently purchased a vocoder since it's used on every single track.

I would only recommend buying this if you are a) already a fan of the Low Profile roster b) deaf or c) interested in hearing exactly what a trainwreck sounds like.

Friday, May 19, 2006

playing safe: the winner of top model is...

Despite its overall greatness as being a pretty poor reality TV show, the finale for "America's Next Top Model" was fairly uneventful, save the uber psycho hose beast, Jade, getting the cut early in the show.

The two finalists, Joanie and Danielle, were pretty good, yet none were as skilled (or passionate) as past winners. Perhaps it came down to these two girls because they were safe choices, especially after last season's upset (the upset being that the winner, Nicole, has thus far been a pretty useless top model...but then again, aren't they all?). I was actually predicting that Danielle would get the cut and it would be between Joanie and Jade, based on the fact that the two had spent the last three episodes feuding.

In the end, however, it was the two girls who went the distance by getting surgery on their teeth -- on camera no less. I suppose by the time they announced the winner (Danielle, by the way), it didn't really matter since either girl was a better pick than Cycle Five's Nicole or Jade. The dull finale did nothing for me unlike Cycle Five's or Cycle Two's. If there was ever a time to start swearing off "Top Model," it's probably now.

But that CSI

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the price is wrong, bitch

[the visual definition of a douchebag]

The recent success of NBC's "Deal or No Deal" is not unlike that of ABC's 1999 juggernaut, "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," in which contestants, as well as home viewers, are sucked into an hour-long test of human greed and general ignorance. Not to sound pretentious, but why the hell would anybody want to share the stage with Howie "Bobby's World" Mandell is beyond me. It's sort of like standing next to a rabid dog -- you don't want to be there, but you don't want to move for fear that they'll attack and give you rabies.

Well, as "Millionaire" proved seven years ago, the idiocy of America trumps over quality programming such as "Veronica Mars" and "What About Brian," and I'm punished by having to see Mandell's stupid face in between segments of "Scrubs."

Somewhere, deep in my little heart, I want Bob Barker to shove his skinny microphone up Howie's nose and make it pop out of his Lex Luthor-esque head. Deal?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

tidbits 5/11/06

* that new taking back sunday album is a lot better than "where you want to be." kudos.

* pitchfork is reporting that there's a new bjork box set on the horizon. better start cashing in your coinstar jars soon.

* eugene mirman has a new album on sub pop called "en garde society," it's pretty damn funny. check out this mp3 which does not appear on the record, but is just as hilarious.

* audrey tautou is in "the da vinci code" co-starring with tom hanks' curly mullet cut.

* i won't be updating this as often as i used to since i'm moving this week and getting married the following week. i'll try to throw some reviews and some more tidbits but my occasionally thoughtout diatribes are going to have to wait until i get back from the honeymoon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

album o' the day

Saves the Day
"Bug Sessions Vol. 1" EP

Seldom has a new recording made the album o' the day, let alone an EP, but today, it's going to be Saves the Day's acoustic companion to the recently released "Sound the Alarm."

Recorded during the same sessions as "Sound the Alarm," "Bug Sessions" revisits seven tracks from the band's history, reworking them to a stripped-down, non-electric sound. All the songs lend well to this format and actually have a hint of the indie pop sound they were trying to get with "In Reverie."

Unlike other acoustic recordings that seem more like a cash-in, "Bug Sessions" still manages to capture the greatness of the songs while it also breathes new life into them. "Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven," may sound a little better as an acoustic track, since you're able to hear exactly what Chris Conley is singing; a standard from "Can't Slow Down," "Jodie," also translates well without the urgency of fuzz, in fact, if slowed down a bit, it could be a Death Cab for Cutie song.

From what I understand, this is EP is exclusive to their tour, so if you're a fan of Saves the Day, you may want to go out of your way and get this.

Monday, May 08, 2006

how bad is "blood money?"

Mobb Deep
"Blood Money"

I've been a Mobb Deep fan since "The Infamous" and as they got closer to achieving commercial success, they've gone farther and farther away from the dark, dank feel of that debut album. But they would still put out good records; even when Havoc gave up his producer title to focus to rhyming, the Mobb brought in the Alchemist to balance the scales. Their last album "Amerikkka'z Nightmare" wasn't as good as its predecessors, but it was still good. Now aligned with 50 Cent's G-Unit posse, Mobb Deep have offered up "Blood Money." So how bad is "Blood Money?" The phrase "The Funky Headhunter" comes to mind.

There's not a doubt in my mind that at least 500,000 kids will buy this record, but those same kids may not realize what a steep decline Mobb Deep has taken to get a gold plaque. It's the lowest-common-denominator-rap: wack beats, horrible lyrics, and cheap drug talk.

When comparing "Blood Money" to "Hell On Earth," it's difficult to comprehend the fact that we're talking about the same group. Maybe major label politics and watching their peers hit mainstream success have made Mobb Deep soft; grit for gold, if you will.

Whatever the case may be, "Blood Money" is not worth going into detail. I can't write about specific songs because it's all one long terrible song.

Maybe Mobb Deep will come to their senses, drop Fiddy and starting putting out good records again, but I doubt it. I'd rather see these clowns break up -- and that's how bad "Blood Money" is.

Friday, May 05, 2006

tidbits 5/5/06

* have you heard that rapper ak'sent? they really are just signing anybody these days. here's the quick low-down ak'sent is an 18-year-old female rapper from south central (of course), whose main gimmick is that she's half-mexican and half-black. she hasn't even gotten shot like fiddy. wtf. although the brightside to this is that if she does well, then someone could sign my kid to a major label once she's able to "spit some hot fire."

* furonda got the axe on "top model;" i'm only sort-of-caring because it's the end of the television season and "scrubs" and "csi" are starting to look pretty dang good.

* more screen shots of "superman returns" have been popping up all over the interweb and i suspect it's going to suck pretty bad. but i'll probably end up watching it because it's a comic book movie.

* on that note, i've been writing and illustrating a comic recently. unfortunately due to "legal" issues (and the fact that i'm just plain embarrassed by my lack of drawing talent), i can't take credit for the work. it is on the interweb somewhere. maybe a livejournal.

* on that same tangent, i have an outline for a comic mini-series about two kids who solve a crime with the aid of their talking panda bear. if anybody wants to do the art, let a brother know.

* the smoking popes are touching ground in seattle later this month (may 22nd to be exact) and while i'm not up for reliving my awkward freshman year, i have been listening to "destination: failure" a lot recently. take a trip down memory lane, peoples.

* be back later.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bamboozle: It's Like Hot Topic Gave Birth To 101 Poser Punks

This weekend, thousands upon thousands of attention-starved teenagers the liberal media refers to as the "emos" will descend upon New Jersey to participate in the Spring weekend precursor to Warped Tour, The Bamboozle.

Boasting a line-up of something like 200 bands, the Meadowlands will play host to such illustrious bands such as Lifetime, Circa Survive, Saves the Day, and The Bled, as well as some some not-so-great bands like Fall Out Boy, Aiden, and Paramore (yuck!). They've even thrown in Method Man, crooner Van Stone, and former Legends of the Rodeo mouthpiece John Ralston.

Yet despite what may seem like a good idea on paper (definitely a good idea when you think of the sales figures), it looks like a bad idea to me. For one thing, the notion of squishing a bunch of unruly teenagers into an enclosed space to catch Pete Wentz's sweat can only lead to riots. The other reason why I tremendously dislike The Bamboozle, Warped Tour, and their other festival counterparts is simply for that the fact that they are contrary to the spirit of punk rock, or whatever diluted version of it exists these days.

My friend Adam, who once worked at Tooth & Nail Records, went to The Bamboozle's competition the NJ Skate and Surf in 2004 to represent the label. His take on it was that it was like a big mall. I haven't been to a festival-type of event in sometime but even going as far back as 2001, the last time I went to Warped Tour, the influence of corporate sponsorship has become even more apparent.

Bamboozle is probably the worst single event since it stretches its line-up over two days, yet tickets are $32 a day, but after Ticketmaster's lofty surcharge and building usage fee (?), the ticket actually goes up to $40 and $80 to see two days worth of crappy fifth generation screamo bands and their pathetic fanbase is $80 too much.

Not to mention that you run into the same problems that you would at a Warped Tour or Bumbershoot where two bands that you want to see are playing at the same time.

While I understand that the "low" price of $80 seems like a deal for some 15 year old kid who can see all of his favorite Best Buy bands in the same venue, the adage of "quality over quantity" comes into mind. By trading in intimacy and a lower ticket price of one band, you're getting a hoarde of sweaty teens, poor sound (so you probably won't hear your favorite band), and even more overpriced merch (oftentimes, bands price their merch based on the what the venue's cut is, so being that this is a sports arena, expect to pay $20 for a Taking Back Sunday t-shirt), as well as overpriced food, water, and medical attention.

Bottom line: Bamboozle is basically a weekend getaway for a bunch of kids who are friends via Myspace and whose commonality is their love of Aiden and AFI. And while they may feel that they are gaining something of substance for the 48 hours and the hundreds of dollars that they're going to spend sweating amongst their ilk, in actuality, it's Bamboozle's sponsors and event organizers who are going to achieve something of substance. Like a Benz.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

the locker room daze

[Maybe it's just me, but was there anybody else who found insanely difficult to use yesterday?]
Last week, I achieved new levels of boredom so I decided to take a trip through the ol' Myspace and look at what the people of my graduating class are doing these days. It's a little bit of unsurprising, mildly entertaining and interesting to say the least.

Here are some things I did learn that maybe you'll find useful, or perhaps they will inadvertently answer some questions....

1. This guy who used to call me a fag in Honors English freshman year is gay and living in New York.

2. A girl who used to be my partner-in-crime in art club hangs out with a star jockette from the softball team.

3. About half of my former schoolmates who are on Myspace have children (in most cases multiple kids).

4. One dude who used to be a chronic pothead (no pun intended) is now training to be an ultimate fighter.

5. There are a sprinkle of hipsters in the graduating class, but most people have been able to hold on (or rather embrace) to their suburban ideals.

6. One kid who was just brutal to me during sophomore year was working for a high ranking government official, but was subsequently fired during the recent White House shakeups.

7. Kids who were in typically "dorky" clubs such as art club, yearbook, or DECA have aged better than the kids who coasted by and spent their weekends getting messed up and defiling each other.

Like any normal human being, I get sentimental about particular events in my life and high school is not one them. I loathed high school and when I think about who I was back then, I haven't really made a big change, personality-wise. In fact, it was probably the general discomfort of high school that probably pushed my introverted demeanor further.

Regardless, that's what high school is all about isn't it? Painfully awkward moments and mayhem. With that in mind, the 10 year high school reunion that will hit in three years should be a blast. Or at least one hell of a trainwreck.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

album o' the day!

Josie & the Pussycats
"Josie & the Pussycats"
(Play Tone/Epic)

These days, there's seldom a movie that comes out where the soundtrack is just as crucial as the cast members. Soundtracks have become disposable; cheapened mix-CDs showcasing current hitmakers, whose career highlight is a soundtrack song (i.e. Goo Goo Dolls).

In the case of "Josie & the Pussycats," a film that is inherently all about original music, directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont enlisted the production skills of Babyface and the vocals of Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo. The result is one of the best original soundtracks in the last decade.

Both the movie and the music were slightly ahead of its time. The movie, a scathing indictment of corporate sponsorship (marred with irony since it was distributed by Universal and included a promotion with The Bon/Macy's), tanked and all elements of its bold-faced hypocrisy were dismissed.

The soundtrack would've been perfect in 2005, as Fall Out Boy and other pop-punk acts were breaking out of a niche market and were being issued gold plaques.

In the end, the soundtrack serves as a reminder that there was once a time when boy bands ruled the charts and an imaginary pop-punk band fronted by one of the most underrated voices of the 90's were considered the underdogs.