Thursday, August 31, 2006

best. videos. ever.

Earlier today, I had this urge to watch "Throw Ya Gunz" by Onyx and I spent a good amount of time lurking through YouTube to find crazy rap videos that I haven't seen in years. God bless the interweb.

Real Live, "Real Live Shit" (1995)

Onyx, "Throw Ya Gunz" (1993)

D&D All-Stars, "1,2 Pass It" (1995)

E-40, "Cap'n Save a Ho" (1994)

Rappin' 4-Tay, "Playaz Club" (1994)

Mariah Carey/Mobb Deep, "The Rain (Remix)" (1997)

Lords of the Underground, "Here Come the Lords" (1993)

Showbiz & AG, "Soul Clap" (1991)

Black Sheep, "Without a Doubt" (1994)

Volume 10, "Pistol Grip Pump" (1994)

Tha Alkaholiks, "Make Room" (1992)

The D.O.C., "It's Funky Enough" (1989)

Boogiemonsters, "Strange" (1994)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

why idlewild the movie will fail...

On Monday, I had the chance to catch VH-1's music video countdown show, in which they had OutKast spout off about their new movie, "Idlewild," before introducing the video into the top 10, or wherever it was. During the interview, Andre 3000 -- who did most of the talking -- pretty much gave away the entire plot of his flick, then realizing what he had done, refused to explain the ending, though you could pretty much figure which direction he was going to go in.

Whether or not "Idlewild" will be a disaster has yet to be seen, but I can't help but think that the movies ninth place ranking has something to do with the fact that eccentric 3000 basically saved all of his fans $9 each by rambling too much.

Now I'm not certain if the world needs an OutKast movie per se (surely a full-length Scooby-Doo and Harlem Globetrotters movie is far more profitable), but I don't think the studio, the group, or any other person involved with the flick can blame bootleggers and YouTube for this misstep.

the wack parade

I love concept albums as much as the next guy. I can spout off ten concept records that are brilliant pieces of audio art; but sometimes, I think that there are bands who bite off more than they can chew (read: try too hard).

For example, over the weekend, the geniuses in My Chemical Romance unveiled a teaser for their new album, "The Black Parade," in which they shun the normal band handle, as well as hold a mock press conference to talk about their new band, or rather its reinvention (on a side note, singer Gerard Way also sports some rad golden locks).


Is it so hard for a band to just record an album, release it, and play songs from it? Is it really necessary to dump a bunch of money into a promotional effort that may backfire? Do I have to remind My Chemical Romance about Garth Brooks' ill-advised Chris Gaines fiasco? I guess by doing this, Gerard Way and company feel that they're taking their band to the proverbial next level, but this is kinda (read: really) stupid.

It's not like David Bazan actually tried to kill his wife when Pedro the Lion's "Winners Never Quit" came out, or the guys in Coheed and Cambria tried to embark on whatever weird space adventure those records are about.

One of the great things about concept albums is that they challenge the artists and band to allow an idea to become this great narrative, wildly spun with metaphors and pop hooks; however, once fashion and hype enter the equation, I think that the concept gets bogged down and becomes a cheapened shell of its original vision.

[Related Links]
The Black Parade

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

oh heavens!

"Patent Pending"

It's interesting that Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba would name his new band Heavens as he is a self-proclaimed atheist, as well as a member of the Church of Satan. Being a little too ironical, aren't we?

Still, one can't be too mad at Skiba; after all, he did write some of the best pop-punk songs in the last ten years and he may be personally responsible for all the mallgoth teens that are currently taking up all the good user names on MySpace.

Heavens is a stark departure from the three-chord glory that the Trio usually offer and is a little more bleak. Actually, it's more along the Joy Division/Bauhaus side of things. It certainly isn't a bad album. There are clear winners with songs like "Heather," "True Hate," and "Dead End Girl." But they are also very subdued songs and I don't think your run-of-the-mill Alkaline Trio fan will dig this stuff too much.

However, if you're one of the many people who are still trying to ride out this '80s revival until your legwarmers aren't cool anymore (again), then by all means check out Heavens. They're worthy of a spin or two, but that's it.

yo b, where ya been?

it's been a while, so i'd thought i'd give you the update:

last week, i got really sick and i stayed home for a good chunk of the work week. let me say, however, that i am glad that i have a job with medical insurance. following my three days off of work, i jetted to hawaii for a wedding, where i stayed in paradise with a respiratory infection. that part kinda sucked, but all in all, it was cool. i have a lot of stuff to write about, but i have to organize my thoughts and take it one hour at a time.

Friday, August 18, 2006

snakes or shallow broads?

[kenan of "good burger" fame will be screaming like a little bitch about some motherfucking snakes]

So this weekend, the blog hit that no one has seen, "Snakes on a Plane," is opening. It's a bit of a gamble on New Line's part by using the Internet to promote their movie, with very few TV spots and what have you. But I have a feeling that this movie will be a hit, if only generated by hipster buzz and word-of-mouth alone (God knows that shitty Cobra Starship song isn't really doing the movie any justice).

However for the people who are not feeling the hipster vibe of Samuel L's latest creation, they can watch "Material Girls" starring the Duff Sisters, Hilary and Haylie -- two WASPs with high cheek bones doing a movie about rich white girls, not unlike the Wayans' brothers' tour-de-force "White Chicks."

With those choices in mind, I will take the jump and urge you to watch "Snakes on a Plane." Yes, it will be bad, it will be ridiculous, and it will have cheesy lines in it, which will probably put it on the same level of cult status as "Road House," "Point Break," or "Big Trouble in Little China." At the very least you can hear Samuel L. Jackson screaming for two hours, which is always a plus in my book.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

damn that "supernova" show!!!

It's been a few weeks and I'm still watching that damn "Rockstar: Supernova" show. A few things have crossed my mind while watching this:

a) Every guy tries to sound like Eddie Vedder or, to a lesser extent, that douche from Creed.

b) All the girls except for Zayra, the Latin Bjork, sounded the same: husky as shit.

c) Jason Newsted is probably the only redeemable member of the band.

d) Lukas Rossi looks like a Garbage Pail Kid come to life and his name should be Lukas Puke-Ass:

Last night they kicked off Zayra, the only contestant who was worth a damn; not because she's hot, but rather because she didn't come off like a overtly pretentious karaoke singer who had clearly been influenced by two decades of MTV and a feeling of self-importance. All the contestants -- in one way or another -- are fucking idiots. Even my personal favorite, Magni, exhibited levels of douchebaggery by stating that Radiohead's "Creep" was his generation's anthem (or as he put it, their "Satisfaction"). That sentiment told me two things about Magni: one, he must be a lot older than me, since "Creep" was a hit when I was 11, and two, he had never heard "The Bends."

Also, I wonder how, if at all, "Rockstar" is rigged. They've kept on some of the sorriest sacks of shit for weeks: Patrice Pike, a Hooters waitress who couldn't sing her way out of a paper bag; the afforementioned Lukas, a wannabe hipster (or as my wife and I like to call him, "Aiden"); Storm Large, who is really a giant pair of breasts with a smoker's voice; and Toby, who is only likeable because he's like an Aussie version of Stifler from "American Pie."

The way I see it, the only people who have a shot to win this stupid contest are Magni, Ryan Star, and Dilana. Magni because he can sing, Ryan Star because he's the only guy there who looks like he belongs in a band with Tommy Lee, and Dilana because she's so full of herself that she'll probably shoot everybody else so she could win.

Of course this entire post begs the question, "Why the fuck am I still watching this show?"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

emo is dead

Last night, I was flipping through channels and I caught part of that not-so-awesome UPN show "Girlfriends." In the episode, one of the main characters was auditioning to be the singer of some rock band and described her vocal style as "emo." She then went on to give some outrageous vocal performance that mirrored Cat Power.

Now the concept and usage of "emo" in the English vernacular is about as overused as the word "the," but it's still really weird to hear it used, especially on primetime television and on a show that has nothing to do with the pop-punk/indie rock subculture. Hearing the word used in that context was uncomfortable, not in that "giving a speech" sort of way, but in that "getting a colonic" sort of way.

I'm assuming now that "emo" has hit a low-tier network like UPN, we can expect it popping up in Time, Redbook, and the mother of all out-of-touch publications, Rolling Stone.

Monday, August 14, 2006

pick a B.C. date, because you're history

(or why in ten years, no one will give a shit about

I've always had this love-hate relationship with Pitchfork. On the one hand, it's usually the first site I'll check out to read about bands that I'm halfway interested in listening to; on the other hand, a good chunk of the artists they cover turn out to be a huge letdown, often derative of an obsolete (read: annoying, studpid) brand of music.

Over the last year-and-a-half, Pitchfork has let me down more and more, giving webspace to stinkers like M.I.A., Gnarls Barkley, Lil' Kim, Test Icicles, and Lil' Wayne, all the while shitting on stellar releases by Little Brother, David Bazan, and Eugene Mirman.

Every time I get a cheap laugh at Blue States Lose, I realize that though Pitchfork and their ilk have the world by the balls at the moment, it won't last long. Sometime -- hopefully soon -- the world will revolt, and all the coked up hip kids with their stupid rattails, fake gold chains, and Bruce Springsteen "Born in the U.S.A." t-shirts will find themselves scrambling to have a halfway original thought.

snakes on a mutha*%$@*#$@#% plane

Various Artists
"Snakes On a Plane: The Album"
(Decaydance/New Line)

You know how I feel about the title track by Cobra Starship, so I'm going to bypass that song altogether, but then again, the rest of the soundtrack is more or less like that: an endless series of pop-punk songs remixed by various techno producers. Blah. There are some ill-placed songs by Spearhead and Donavon Frankenreiter which are better suited for some weeded out, neo-hippie compilation album. This soundtrack fucking sucks.

You know what doesn't suck? The new DJ Quik greatest hits album, "Born and Raised in Compton" (Arista). It has every great Quik jam from "Tonite" to "Safe + Sound." It even has some of his relatively obscure 2nd II None tracks. Oh Em Gee. So the lesson here, children: buy the new DJ Quik album over "Snakes On a Plane," though I guess it's not that hard to top a soundtrack that looks like it came some scremo-ing kid's playlist.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

(not) gatsby's american dream

Gatsby's American Dream
"Gatsby's American Dream"

Once upon a time, Gatsby's American Dream was One Point Two, a band from the suburbs of Seattle that sounded exactly like Blink 182. When that version of the band dissolved, most members went onto form Gatsby's American Dream, who started off as a Saves the Day rip-off band with their debut "Why We Fight." From that point, Gatsby's next few releases, the Orwell-inspired "Ribbons & Sugar" and the scene-crucifying "Land of Monsters EP," catapulted them from a mere cover band to the darlings of pop-punk. Aside from being technically sound musicians, there aren't too many good things I can say about this band: they're derivative, trite, and they get too bogged down with their unnecessary want for concept songs.

Their new self-titled album is more of the same, instead of being a pop-punk band, they've decided to exploit the dance pop that seems to be all the rage. Listening to this record is a lot like listening to a high school jazz band, you can really tell that there's a lot of talent there, but it's all going to waste on really boring material. All the songs on the album sound exactly the same and I ended up shutting it off halfway through in favor of watching "Futurama," which has some of the same concepts as Gatsby's topics, but seems to be infinitely more entertaining.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

bumbershoot me in the head

Every year for as long as I can remember, the Seattle Center hosts Bumbershoot, a three-day (or sometimes four day) cultural exhibition that mostly focuses on music. Scheduled for Labor Day weekend, Bumbershoot has long been a great deal for local folks because of low-priced tickets and an eclectic range of bands and musicians.

Over the last six years or so, the tickets have gone up. A lot. The last year I paid for tickets (1999), I was able to buy a two-day pass for $15, which also included TicketMaster's service charge. Back then, entry into the festival was $10; now, it's $30. What the hell?

Although the festival has been gaining a lot of traction in the last three years, and therefore more notable acts have been booked, I can help but think that this is all a bad idea. Is it going to get to the point where it will be an exclusive event and tickets can only be afforded by the extremely wealthy? The spirit of our homegrown festival is that it's for locals to enjoy and cheap enough for a kid with a paper route to go watch Beck, or whoever.

Now it seems as it's catered to rich hipsters and grups, those who don't mind blowing a portion of their coke money to ironically watch 3 Inches of Blood shred for 30 minutes.

I would love to see Bumbershoot scaled back as a low-key, low-priced event, as it was when I was growing up, but seeing all the tourist money coming through, I doubt that'll happen. Shame on you, Bumbershoot.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

trouble in paradise

Yesterday evening, Hawthorne Heights issued this statement announcing their exodus from Victory Records and their impending lawsuit.

Big surprise.

Victory has had a long-standing reputation of treating their bands like crap and several of them such as Thursday, Taking Back Sunday and Student Rick have made their distaste for the label publicly known. But Hawthorne Heights is the first to sue the label for owed royalties and such. I'm curious to figure out why bands still sign to Victory when they've had a bad rap for nearly 10 years. Any dolt who reads the liner notes will notice that all the publishing is copyrighted to Another Victory Inc., Tony Brummel's publishing company.

Victory is one of many independent labels that has taken advantage of bands for years and hopefully this lawsuit will allow bands to retain artists' rights, then again, that's what lawyers are for.

Monday, August 07, 2006

best mall-punk albums

I couldn't sleep last night so I decided to pop in the New Found Glory live DVD, "This Disaster," which I've held onto for the last year with barely a viewing. In fact, xChris Jacobsenx from Wait in Vain may have had it longer than I have. Anyway, it got me thinking of all the great pop-punk albums that I really liked at one point or another; and I don't mean pop-punk in Jawbreaker, Screeching Weasel or Mr. T Experience sense, I mean straight up mall-punk jawns. The kind of pop-punk that kids who shop at Hot Topic and watch Fuse all day are into. I know that I've taken some jabs at the subculture, but it doesn't mean that I can't like some of the bands that represent them. Besides, it's not like I'm 14 and going crazy because I saw the dude from Fall Out Boy on some crappy WB show. Yech.

Best Mall-Punk Albums (in no particular order):

1. MxPx "Life in General" (Tooth and Nail)
Before releasing a string of poor releases, MxPx capped off their official tenure at God-friendly label, Tooth and Nail, with a loud, poppy record that captures all the angst of high school while simultaneously retaining a respectful amount of virtue.

2. The Ataris "Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits" (Kung Fu)
When you visit The Ataris' website now, they list bands such as Swervedriver, Death Cab for Cutie, and Sigur Ros as their primary influences. Once upon a time, there was a version of the band that was influenced by Jawbreaker and Lagwagon, and thus was far more interesting.

3. Home Grown "Kings of Pop" (Drive Thru)
Like Blink 182, Home Grown's grade school humor is what made them likeable and "Kings of Pop" is the car crash of fart jokes and melodic pop songs.

4. Fall Out Boy "Take This To Your Grave" (Fueled By Ramen)
Even though they're arena-bound rock stars now, once upon a time Fall Out Boy was a band that played tiny venues to small crowds of kids who gave a shit. This album is a concise representation of what makes the band work -- heart-on-sleeve-but-blood-soaked lyrics with a touch of hardcore sensibility.

5. Saves the Day "Through Being Cool" (Equal Vision)
Before Fall Out boy, New Jersey's Saves the Day brought out the self-deprecating and all encompassing hateful lyrics with hardcore melody to the forefront. In fact, you may even consider "Take This To Your Grave" a rip-off of "Through Being Cool."

6. Knockout "Searching For Solid Ground" (Fearless)
Chicago's Knockout is cheesy, trite and so damn catchy you can't help but dance around to this disc in your underwear. Word to Tom Cruise.

7. New Found Glory "New Found Glory" (Drive Thru)
Jordan Pundik's high pitched vocals are part of the charm. The rest can be summed up as "energenic," "fun," and "not as annoying or shitty as Good Charlotte."

8. Blink 182 "Dude Ranch" (MCA)
Oh man, before you listen to any other album listed here, listen to this first. You'll have a decent reference point for the rest. "Dude Ranch" features a pre-platinum, pre-Travis Barker Blink 182, a raw band full of potential and dick and fart jokes.

fat mike vs. xchristian punkzx

I recently caught an episode of Fuse's "Warped: Inside and Out," a show where they take you "backstage" to witness all the happenings of the corporate punk orgy otherwise known as Vans' Warped Tour.

In this particular show, NoFx's Fat Mike sat in on the Warped Tour bible study, occupied by mostly Tooth and Nail bands, all the while cracking jokes and throwing in some casual swearing. It was a very surreal segment. On the one hand, you had Fat Mike who tried to make light of his argument with the bands by saying that he "loved pissing people off." Yet you can't help but think of what his motives were to sit in on a bible study, if not for a laugh at the expense of these kids.

One thing I did notice during the segment was when Fat Mike attempted to debunk their Christian guilt. It was a pretty painful thing to watch, not unlike the drill scene at the end of "Pi." I couldn't help but feel sorry for these bands who, while they meant well, obviously had a lot of issues that had them pulling at both ends. It reminded me of when I was going to SPU and there was a debate regarding girls who were into Jesus the way that they'd be into boys, moving well past admiration and hope and into the romantic jungle.

In a lot of ways, the roundtable discussion Fat Mike has with Underoath, Emery and Amber Pacific is the sort of male version having a romantic sentiment toward the Lord. Not in a sexual manner, but these guys were so heavily into the guilt aspect of it, I don't really see them enjoying their lives, and if a band who moves hundreds of thousands of units can't enjoy their life's work, is it even worth it?

Friday, August 04, 2006

more masturbatory musings

If you don't get sick of me through this thing, you'll certainly get sick of me now:

my new 'blog, "Stay off the Crack!"

I'll probably move the tidbits over there, otherwise, Chasing Coolness will pretty much stay intact with reviews, criticisms on pop culture, and food.

watching will ferrell's rapid decline

Will Ferrell's latest movie, "Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," opens today and it will probably be the number one movie in America, or at least crack the top five. This film is the latest in the many sad movies in which Ferrell's talent is wasted on playing the-simpleton-with-a-heart-of-gold-who-must-triumph-over-adversity role. So really, Ferrell is basically taking the Adam Sandler way to fame, rather than Eddie Murphy, or some other SNL cast member who doesn't suck.

It's pretty sad to watch Will Ferrell, who was great in "Melinda and Melinda," piss away any credibility he had to basically play roles that mix-and-match Frank the Tank from "Old School" and Ron Burgundy from "Anchorman." I mean, this is coming from the same guy who gave us a pretty rockin' G.W. Bush impersonation.

Based on all the TV spots that were playing during "Rock Star: Supernova" and "CSI," I suspect that I won't be watching "Talledega Nights" for two reasons: 1. it looks like a steaming pile and 2. my mom once told me to never trust a man with two first names. So there it is.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

mixtape o' the day

"Rekonstruckted Elements"

I think this originally came out in 1999 and I got it from the Stones Throw merch table at B-Boy Summit at UCLA. God, that was ages ago and I was still in high school. Sigh.

Anyway, on this tape, former Skratch Pikl and Beat Junkie, Shortkut, recreates hip-hop songs by using the original source vinyl and drum loops. There's also some awesome guest appearances by Swift Rock, Vin Roc and Q-Bert. Part of Shorkut's routine ("Listen to the Bass") from the 1998 US DMC Finals is also on this release.

This particular tape makes me long for the days when mixtapes were more than a marketing ploy, a tool for disses, and a source of fodder on

against me...or you...a review

Against Me
"Americans Abroad: Live in London"

Live albums are always tricky releases; you can either have this awesome collection of songs or a document of how shitty you sound live. Plus, you're assuming that people would be interested enough in your band to demand a live recording. For example, I would never buy a live album from The Stills because they sound the same live as they do on their record. There's no witty back-and-forth with the audience, they're pretty much like, "Hey, we're The Stills and here's a song...." Against Me, however, are worthy of a live record.

If you've seen these guys rock a club or a basement, then you know that they get pretty crazy live, same goes for the kids who go out of their way to see them, too. The album captures all the raw energy that you'd witness at an Against Me show. What makes this particular live record so different is that you can hear every lyric that Tom Gabel sings, which is usually rare in live albums. Hell, you can hear the backup vocals, as well as the crowd chants.

All the favorites are on this -- "Sink, Florida, Sink," "Reinventing Axl Rose," "TSR," "Don't Lose Touch," they even threw in a new song (the title track).

Ultimately, "Americans Abroad" is able to avoid the biggest mistake of the live record by jumping from catalog to catalog, not to say that the set isn't diverse, but a bulk of the material is culled from their last two albums, "As the Eternal Cowboy" and "Searching For a Former Clarity."

There are very few live albums I would recommend as a starting point (this is especially true of punk bands like Against Me), but I would strongly recommend this one, even if you haven't heard the band before. At the very least, this album will serve as a buffer for the band's upcoming major label debut.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

how to destroy popular youth culture

Many of my posts in the last few weeks have had to do with the lacksidaisical attitude of youth culture these days. For the budding journalists, photographers and musicians of today, everything is easy for them with the advent of blogs, affordable digital cameras and Myspace. Earlier, I got stuck watching a special about Warped Tour on Fuse and I felt like that was the last straw. It's like nobody's even trying to do/see/hear anything different; I'm not quite sure if we can blame kids anymore, I suppose they only mimic the complacency that they see in the rest of America: people who've accepted that we're lead to certain doom by a president who wouldn't know his ass from a donkey on the side of the road, people who will accept anti-Semitism with open arms, and people who will ensure that Toby Keith still has a career.

The best thing to do at this point is to destroy everything that American youth culture has built up as their sacred cows. I'm not suggesting that anybody dies, or anything, but you can make a change using non-violent protest. Word to MLK.

1. Boycott Hot Topic, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, Vice, CNN, Fox, Spike TV, Absolutepunk, and Myspace.

2. Cancel your subscription to cable.

3. Sell all your band merch.

4. Burn all releases that are from a major label, or a major label distributor (Fontana, WEA, RED, ADA).

5. Don't use a Sidekick.

6. Use a 35mm camera.

7. Stop drinking Pabst and/or Sparks.

8. Stop referencing the '80s.

9. Stop wearing pink.

10. Do whatever you want and ignore this list.

You see, it's pretty complacent to follow this list as well. I suppose this entire post comes from a place of frustration because I can see a clear line where the trends will change, or continuing on for another year while the music aspect itself becomes this convulted joke. Either way, it's weird when you can see counterculture end. But what do I know? This is coming from the same dude who compared New Found Glory to The Cars.

the rock power of new found glory

[just because i used to scream about death and veganism doesn't mean i can't look good]

For many hipsters, jaded music fans and parents, New Found Glory is nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan sensation, whose musical confines has long been stomped on by bands like Blink-182, NoFx, Green Day and Screeching Weasel. Yet, the Florida band still commands a certain amount of respect, which can be attributed to non-stop touring, a dedicated fanbase, and guitarist Chad Gilbert's presence in seminal hardcore/metal band Shai Hulud.

That said, I think it's a bit safe to say that New Found Glory is not like The Wonders, especially when you take in to consideration that they've been around for nearly a decade. This morning, I caught the video for their new single, "It's Not Your Fault," and it dawned on me that New Found Glory will probably be like The Cars. They will release a bunch of cheesy, prepackaged pop-punk, but then 10 years from now, people will probably remember the band fondly. Can you imagine future hipsters dissecting a song like "My Friends Over You?" I can and it's both frightening and comforting at the same time.

[Related Links]

New Found Glory on MTV