Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Video: Kevin Devine and Jesse Lacey, "Tomorrow's Just Too Late"

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Redux: The Ataris, "End is Forever"

Almost everyone I know who's met Kris Roe, the singer and guitarist for The Ataris, have told me he's kind of a douchebag. Actually, that's an understatement. I've definitely heard from one person that he's the biggest douchebag from Indiana and a former roommate tell me that he's a fucking asshole. And I can kind of see that, but the two times that I've spoken to him he was polite, so I have nothing ill to say about him on that level.

The Ataris are probably one of my favorite sophomoric pop-punk bands from the 90s, particuarly their watershed album, "Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits," which served to be my personal soundtrack for the latter part of my high school years.

In my freshman year of college, they released "End is Forever," which was their "serious" album of sorts. There were still some fast pop songs and most of the songs about love were boiled down to a middle school-level, but songs like "Fast Times at Drop Out High" which covers the topic of an adopted child (a lost brother Roe later found out about) and "Road Signs and Rock Songs," which addresses the polarizing effects of being a band on tour and being away from the ones you love. Through these weighty themes, and for better or worse, The Ataris started branching out as a mature band (for lack of a better term).

It's interesting that The Ataris were pretty much castigated because of this (and moreso over subsequent releases, "So Long, Astoria" and "Welcome the Night") in 2000, yet other contemporaries like Sum 41, Blink 182, New Found Glory, and Alkaline Trio followed this pattern in the years to come and while they were not without their critics, they didn't seem to get hit as hard as The Ataris did.

In the last few years, The Ataris sort of fell apart on the weight of their own "vision" (releasing an indie rock album for a crowd of teenagers who know you for a Don Henley cover will do that) with Roe doing solo acoustic tours of "Blue Skies..." and selling off his possessions via eBay. Though the band has always pretty much been Roe, many longtime collaborators, like John Collura, Mike Davenport and Chris Knapp, have been shown the door. A new version of the band has a new record coming out soon, promising to recapture the "End is Forever"-era, so it'll be interesting how this all pans out for them.

"Summer Wind Was Always Our Song"

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Video: Descendents, "I'm the One" and Lifetime, "Airport Monday Morning"

Descendents, "I'm the One"

Lifetime - Airport Monday Morning

Lifetime, "Airport Monday Morning"

This weekend I was jamming out to "Everything Sucks" by the Descendents. It's one of their later-era albums and it seems to be the one that is largely ignored (along with "Cool to Be You"). It's a little bit more polished than the rest of their catalog, but it still holds up. The same could be said for Lifetime's self-titled album, which took me a long time to get into. In fact, I probably didn't really care much for it until after I saw them on their reunion tour almost two years ago. Yeah, it's a little overproduced but it still knocks. I guess for a lot of these older punk rock dudes that's the goal: putting out a solid record that even the most jaded of fans can appreciate.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Video: None More Black, "Oh, There's Legwork?"

Easily one of my favorite Schevchuk bands, None More Black is far more melodic than Kid Dynamite, but has all the clever lyrics that makes Jason Schevchuk one of the most quotable lyricists in punk rock. This is my favorite NMB song, chiefly because (other than being ridiculously catchy) contains the following lyrics: "We are the brand new beatniks/We are the down and out/We are the bleeding hearts beating syncopated broken rhythms/Our speed is all too breakneck, we need to slow it down/Tired of being sleepless/Tired of being broke and broken." Fucking genius.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Fun while it lasted...

I haven't had the opportunity to write about "Ashergate 2009" recently, but here's the quick rundown:

My least favorite rapper, Asher Roth, played at Rutgers and tried making light of last years Don Imus/Nappy Headed Hoes comment. Obviously, this did not play out very well. But to give my archnemesis the benefit of the doubt, he was trying to lampoon Imus. Fair enough. Then Roth is quoted in Pitchfork as saying "You guys (other rappers) are disgusting." Again, in all fairness, he was talking about the plight of Africans and how American rappers tend to spend their money. This coming from a guy who basically glorifies date rape on his single about college and used the release date 4/20 as his marketing ploy.


Eskay and the Nahright crew weren't having this and issued a Roth ban until homedude apologized, which he did, assuming that Steve Rifkind threw a chair at him or something that he picked up from working with ODB or MOP.

Personally, I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion to a certain degree. More than anything, however, I doubt Asher Roth -- as a white kid from an affluent suburb -- is in any position to talk about how rappers who have typically come from places of poverty should spend their money. Yes, I am being a hypocrite here since superficial musical acts are usually who I talk shit about the most, but given the nature of my upbringing, I feel like I have a much better grasp on the socio-political implications than some severely mediocre college rapper. I'm just sayin'.

That being stated, I'm actually a little bummed that the Roth ban is lifted. The reality is that if the ban had stayed in place, Roth already has such a following (there's no accounting for taste) that just because a singular hip-hop website (even if it's the best one) stops posting about him, it won't hurt his career among fans -- only credible hip-hop heads. Which, as I write this, was probably the point all along. Oh well.


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