Oh, not really. Well, maybe, depending who are. I'm sure nobody comes here anymore, but in case you do and you live in or around Durham, Charlottesville, Providence, Boston, Baltimore or New York, I cordially invite you to come see the Fake Accents as we embark on our first ever tour. It will be good and fun, I promise. Mention this blog, and get a discount on our debut CD! OK, the rest is just pasted from our MySpace cuz I'm lazy. I have tons of shows to tell you about, theories about the unfortunate Jeremy Pivenization of America, many reasons why people need to stop complaining about "Lost" and NBA predictions galore and all that kind of stuff, but who knows when I'll find the time to share everything with you...
We're hitting the road for a week or so. If we're coming to your city, you should come see us. If we're not coming to your city, you should probably move to one of these cities. Or at least visit. On the day we play.
Saturday, 10/21, Charlottesville, VA @ 1714 JPA (Free, 9:30 p.m.)
With Kittyhawk, the Railways
Monday, 10/23, Providence, RI @ Hourlgass Cafe (Free, 8 p.m.)
With Lame Drivers
We'll also be playing live on WMUC's Third Rail Radio on Sunday 10/29. You can listen on the Internet, starting around 6 p.m., although I can't imagine we'll be playing until 7:30 or so. And we've got a very cool D.C. date when we get back:
That's all for now. Go Wizards.
It was surprisingly good for the first 45 minutes or so, but as the set entered its second hour it started getting very old, very fast. Like, in a 20-minute span it went from "Hey, I'm really enjoying this" to "Man, I really wish this was over." It seemed lots of folks agreed because there was a serious exodus during the set's last half hour. But the one thing that will be remembered about this show is the Great Dickie Peterson Story Telling Moment. It's been almost a couple of months, but I'll try to recreate the moment, and perhaps ZR can chime in with any additional memories.
So the new guitarist dude, who looked straight out of central casting for Guitar Teacher Who Almost Scared Me Off Of Ever Wanting to Play Guitar, with his mullet, leather vest, medallion, etc., broke a string or something, so there was a brief break in the set. New Guitarist Dude told the audience that Dickie should tell a story, because he has some great stories. So Dickie -- also dressed straight out of the '80s (what is up with that?) -- proceeds thusly. (This is a rough approximation of what he said, it was a while ago and maybe ZR can help fill in some blanks.
"So we're on tour in Japan. And we're playing with this Japanese band and they don't speak a damn word of English and we don't speak a damn word of Japanese. But their drummer was talking to Paul, our drummer, and they just kept talking to each other and they had no idea what each other were saying but finally the Japanese guy said, "Sake!" And then we just all started shouting, "Sake! Sake! Sake!" and had a bunch of drinks. Later that night we saw him on the elevator."
Brightblack Morning Light/Espers
In some ways it's good to write these things so long after the show because then I get to see what actually left an impression. What I remember about this one is that as I walked up the stairs at DC9 the first thing I saw was a dog. That's most of what I remember. OK, not entirely true. Espers were very good. Orchestral folk, long songs, tons of guitars, much, much hair. After about 25 minutes I thought I would have had my fill, but they certainly kept the momentum through the entire set. I was impressed. Still can't bring myself to play the record all that much, but then again it's not the greatest record to listen to while sitting in front of a computer.
Brightblack was decent. It's the whole one-trick-pony-but-a-pretty-neat-trick thing. Syrupy. I think it was decided that "syrupy" would be the word most often used to describe the band's sound. Those slow, druggy grooves are nice, but the songs don't really go anywhere, and it was even more apparent in a live setting. And the chick's vocals were just about completely inaudible and were indeed totally incomprehensible, which made it just silly for her to talk to us between songs. For a more professional and timely take on the evening, I'll just point you here.
We Are Scientists
Hoo boy this was painful. They mean well ... but you know what? I'm not even sure they mean well. They might just be really damn good at seeming like they mean well. I had to listen to their record a bunch before the show and they hit you right off the bat with that "My body is your body song" and man did that just give me a chill. Not a good chill, obviously. There was very little to enjoy about the show and they were a whole lot more late-'90s crap alt-rock than I thought they'd be. For once, I was wishing for more skittery dance-punk. For a more polite take,
It's hard to think of a worse idea than covering Neutral Milk Hotel, but I'll be damned if Adam and his band of two (yes, including saw) didn't pull it off marvelously with a fine rendition of "Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone." His self-titled album on High Two really is one of the best records of the year. It'll take you a while to get into because it is very long, with exclusively very long songs, but you'll dig it, trust me. Do people still listen to the Mountain Goats? If so, you'll like this record a whole lot more.
Camera Obscura/Georige James
Tracyanne looks so damn serious up there on stage. Singing these catchy, pretty songs and looking totally joyless while doing it. Not that that's a bad thing, it's just very striking. Played basically the entire new album, plus a couple of old hits. Nothing here changed my opinion that this is a very solid B+ band. The more upbeat tunes are the best, but if they were all like that, they wouldn't carry the same clout. They get the ratio just about right. Was pretty drunk for this one, so don't remember much else, except apparently Tony Hawk was there and got the boot, or something like that. Georgie James ain't the same without AB behind the kit.
Acid House Kings/The Legends
Acid House Kings were pretty hilarious. The dude talked for at least a minute in between each song, and I laughed at least once each time I think. Pretty fun set, too. Good decision to keep it to just around 30 minutes. A little over the top at times, but plenty catchy. The Legends were quite good and wholly derivative, and no, the two aren't mutually exclusive. The first album is still loads better, but the newer stuff wasn't bad. Stretch that out to 250 words and voila.
A month and a half ago ... I remember it being pleasant. And that the lead singer's dad (I think -- definitely someone's dad and probably someone's granddad) was there. And that the lead guitar lines reminded me of Neil Young a lot. I think the highlight of the show was that this was seen by a blog I like and gave me credit for what I thought was a pretty good line. Much better than the stupid lead angle. I actually Googled something like "Vetiver" + "I Love the 70s" to make sure nobody had made a similar reference and one of the first results read something like "Michael Ian Black hasn't been good since the original I Love the 70s" and I was like, "That person is totally right" and of course it was just SD.
Konono No. 1
The hottest show I've ever been to. It wasn't a particularly brutal summer in D.C., but there was a 2-3 week period in late July and early August where it was your classic, disgusting D.C. heat. This was one of those days, like 95 with that thick ass humidity. In other words, a pretty bad day for the Black Cat's air conditioning to break right before the show. The Konono folks didn't seem to mind, they still wore their flannel shirts and looked plenty comfortable. But it was just too hot up there to enjoy things. I couldn't stay upstairs for more than 15 minutes at a time, regularly going outside to enjoy the 85 and humid cool. It sounds like there are many more people in the band on the record than there are live. Which may very well be; I would guess it's pretty expensive for a not-really-all-that-popular-all-things-considered band from Congo to fly over to the U.S. and play indie rock clubs. I don't really partake in "physical activities" so to say it's the most I sweat in ages isn't all that revelatory, but still worth mentioning.
I was really sick this night. There's no way I should have gone out, I still had a 100+ fever, but I went anyway. Only stayed for 30 minutes of I guess an almost 90 minute set. I was too sick to really enjoy it, so I figured if I wasn't going to enjoy it, I may as well go home. PS and ZR said it was the most awesome thing since Pissed Jeans, but what else were you expecting them to say?
Good D.C. rock moment, though. Scene is outside the Warehouse Next Door. Homeless dude comes along, offering up some sort of Wizards bag for $1.35, or whatever bus fare is. And sure, that was supposed to come off all highfalutin. Anyway, no takers, what else does he got? Out comes a throwback Gilbert Arenas jersey. Not quite as great as it sounds -- I'm fairly certain it was the one that was a free giveaway at some game this past season -- but still, it's a Gilbert Arenas throwback jersey. (The '70s red, white and blue Washington Bullets one, not the even cooler late '60s Baltimore Bullets one that I have.) Homeless guy says he'll part with it for whatever. A clearly excited PV -- friend of SD, serious Wizards fan -- reaches into his pocket to see what he can he offer. But before he can do that, one Ian Svenonious, quick as a cat, pulls out a crisp Hamilton and acquires the jersey. And promptly gives it away. Not to PV, obviously. Oh, PV. Will you ever win? I doubt it, and I hope not. No offense.
Foo Fighters/Frank Black
I was plenty scared, I admit. I've seen Foo Fighters plenty of times, but this was the first time in nearly 10 years. Seeing them on that first ever tour, opening for Mike Watt at the Black Cat, that's a pretty cherished memory. Skipping the second half of the school day to go hang out at Tower Records for about five hours before they played a free show there in '97, that's a pretty cherished memory. Hearing "My Hero" hundreds of times in my life ... well, after that first year or so I always associated it with the Varsity Blues trailer so it made me go "Ah don't wownt yo-ur loff!!" So that could be worse.
In any case, this was an acoustic tour, and that was probably for the best. I'm sure that at this point a Foo Fighters rock show is a pretty over-the-top extravaganza, which just makes me very uncomfortable and angry. So this acoustic thing, with an eight-piece band was definitely over-the-top, but in a more tasteful way. And hey, Pat Smear was there, making his Pat Smear faces. Hard to go wrong there. Grohl's a funny dude. Maybe not quite as funny as he thinks he is, but I don't let that stop me, do I? And I got to hear a Nirvana song sung by the person who originally sang it. Never thought I'd be able to say that. Trying to sound smart.
Frank Black did a half hour solo acoustic opening set that was as good as that sort of thing could be. No talk, just song after song. Great voice, good intensity, a few Pixies songs, the perfect opening act for a show like this.
I know you're going to think I'm either kidding or insane, but this was certainly the best show I've seen so far this year and it will take quite a performance to knock it from the top spot. Now I'm not one of these people who complains about crowds, but I do believe that a legitimately hyped crowd can make a show better, and that was certainly the case here. It really did put things over the top. Rancid played almost all old stuff, maybe only half a dozen songs that aren't from the first three albums. This show was the night after Foo Fighters and it was like 10th grade all over again. How much Foo Fighters and Rancid did I listen to in 1995? A whole lot, that's for sure.
Anyway, it wasn't just fun, it was a great performance. Tim Armstrong just does what he does, but Lars really holds the fort down. Lots of hits from ...And Out Come the Wolves (would've liked "Roots Radicals," that's for sure, though) and Let's Go and even a couple of Operation Ivy songs. Not just Foo Fighters and Rancid on back to back nights, but hearing Nirvana and Op Ivy songs on back to back nights! Ah, nostalgia. More.
It is what it is at this point, y'know? The pope analogy that I used last year still holds, I just wish it didn't cost $50. That's like, 12 iced venti mochas. Anyway, this was the weakest of the three ballpark shows I've seen over the past few summers. The first two songs were ruined because his voice was just as bad as it could possibly be, and unfortunately those songs were "Maggie's Farm" and "The Times They Are A-Changing." It's hard to describe exactly what he sounded like, so I simply said he sounded like "something that has rabies." Not sure exactly what, but whatever it is, it's rabid. Voice got better as the night went on and the show was enjoyable. Got to hear "Positively 4th Street," which I'd never heard before, so that was cool. But no other real standouts. Bob, switch up the encore, please. I mean, keep "Rolling Stone" if you want but gives us something else besides "Watchtower," OK? As always, just about every other setlist on the tour looks better than the one I got.
Is it false hope to think that he might be playing guitar on the fall tour since he's playing guitar in that iTunes commercial? Probably, right? Whatever, I'll still go, duh. I wonder when he'll start playing stuff off the new record. Which is fine, by the way. I mean, I'm still going to listen to my Blonde on Blonde outtakes with much more regularity than Modern Days, but whatever. Also, I wish we got Kings of Leon here instead of Jack White, although the wispy moustache off between Dylan and White should be the premier event of its kind so far this century.
This kid gets more coverage than Steve Smith on 3rd and long. (No? You don't like that one?) And it's certainly a bit much. Good record, good sound (although he's hardly the only indie rock-ish type person taking cues from the old eastern bloc right now, that's for sure), decent show. A complete madhouse at the Warehouse, line around the block. Typical D.C. -- either everyone is into it, or nobody is. Let's not go there right now, though. First song was a total Neutral Milk Hotel dirge and it was awesome and it was probably the best part of the set except for that damn nifty "Postcards From Italy" song. I'll be honest, his voice got on my nerves. So affected, so put on. I mean, he makes it work on record, but it was hard for me to watch him do it. It's like that episode of Seinfeld with Mel Torme where Jerry says, "I can't watch a man sing a song." And Elaine goes, "What are you, crazy?" And he goes, "They get all emotional, they sway. It's embarrassing." And honestly, that's sort of how I felt. It's silly, I know. I'm silly. But it's fun to be silly.
OK, that wraps up this marathon edition of show diary. I left out a whole bunch of local stuff, I'll do a roundup one of these days, maybe. Right after those 24 rankings...
This is kind of last minute, but if you find yourself in the D.C. metropolitan area tomorrow night (Saturday, 8/26), you should come on out to Galaxy Hut. The Fake Accents -- featuring yours truly, ZR, PS and Mai, who has never made an appearance here on SD -- will be celebrating the release of our debut album, "The Big Disconnect." If you've thought to yourself, "Well it seems like DM likes the Fall, the Clean and Pavement, but I can't really be sure," just come on out. You'll know for sure. As an added bonus, if you mention Soi Disantra, you can get a copy of the album for just $5! OK, so everyone can get the CD for $5 at this show, but still.
As another added bonus -- or, to some people who used to write for SD, the main attraction -- performing first will be the one and only Graham Smith, whom you may remember from such epic SD interviews as this two parter.
Graham should go on around 10, the FAs around 11, but you should show up earlier and drink some. It'll make the show better, trust me. This is an event not to be missed!
Oh, and if you live in or around Charlottesville, Philadelphia, Northampton, Boston or Richmond and wanna hook us up with a show in late October, please send me an e-mail.
What?! I'm still around? Yep, I am. Anyway, here's a take on last night's The Alternative. Only the first hour. Because really, isn't that plenty? And the Yankees/Red Sox game was still on. Can those motherfuckers ever finish a game on the same day it starts?
1. New Order -- "Bizarre Love Triangle"
A solid enough opener, especially since The Alternative certainly isn't shy about playing stuff from Republic. For some reason I've been listening to the Warsaw stuff fairly frequently as of late. I think that reason is because it's really awesome. Is it wrong to like that better than either Joy Division or New Order?
2. The Polecats -- "Make a Circuit With Me"
Can't say I'm too knowledgable about these dudes. At least I think they're dudes; the video doesn't really provide conclusive evidence. The only way to describe the lead singer is as some sort of new wave/rockabilly version of Carrot Top. One of those just unscionably ridiculously looking bands, but a decent enough little tune.
3. Iggy Pop -- "Cry for Love"
Wow was this terrible. Think of the most processed, cheesy, '80s sounding bullshit you can imagine and that's this song. Just pathetic. Not even ZR will be able to defend this.
4. R.E.M. -- "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
On the bright side, it wasn't either of the overrated, mega-overplayed ones ("Losing My Relgion," "Everybody Hurts") and it wasn't one of the pure shit ones ("Radio Song," "Shiny Happy People"). But this came on right after an ad for a contest where you can win a trip to Georgia to see reunited R.E.M., and it also mentioned their upcoming CD of greatest hits from the I.R.S. era. (Isn't that basically Eponymous?) So it was sort of a tease. I don't think SD has really given its official take on R.E.M. Here's a brief take: great band, obviously, but I think I needed to be there when it was happening (and by that I mean those I.R.S. years) to consider them a pantheon band. Also, New Adventures in Hi-Fi -- very underrated.
5. Material Issue -- "Diane"
This was obviously a very pleasant surprise. A recent member of the ROL Club, this was the "Concept Version" of the video. I've seen this a few other times, I believe, because I definitely remember thinking, "Boy does he look a lot like Britt Daniel." At least in that video. Not as much in this clip of the band performing "Diane" on Dennis Miller Live. In the video Jim Ellison is playing ... you know those guitars, that are like, double guitars, you know? Also, Diane, in the video -- not the most graceful of ladies, but charming nonetheless.
6. Inspiral Carpets -- "Two Worlds Collide"
No, not for me. So big and bombastic and textured. The opposite of most everything I go for. I have a feeling that people who like this probably go big time for Muse. And you know SD's feelings on Muse.
7. James -- "Born of Frustration"
Again, no, sorry. Too British, too sweeping, too much damn singing. By the end of the song the lead singer (I believe his name is James?) is doing some silly Geronimo chant. Still much better than Inspiral Carpets.
8. The Cure -- "Pictures of You"
This was from a recent live show, within the past couple of years. So that was disappointing. I mean, it's an excellent song, it's hard to deny that. But the Cure ... again, just a little too much singing, too much drama. I officially feel that "I like" the Cure, but if you like the Cure, you probably like them more than me. Does that make sense? Once I got to high school, I was pretty much over them.
9. Blur -- "She's So High"
Man do they look like huge dorks in this video. Pretty great song, though, one of the better shameless Stone Roses ripoffs. Blur's one of those bands that I look back and say, "Hmm, I suppose I can see why I was really into them for that short time." I think a part of it was that for some reason I had about 100 cassingles of "Song 2"/"M.O.R." that I gave to all my friends (yes, I had plenty of extras) and was pretty into that and Parklife at the same time. Still can't quite comprehend why I liked 13 so much, though...
10. Depeche Mode -- "A Question of Lust"
Martin Gore may sing this one, but Gahan is still the highlight of the video, with his silhouetted, twirling tambourine playing. Sounds cool, no? Also, it's the highlight because man does this song blow. That's what I wrote down in my little notebook. It's one of those that about a third of the way through you're like, "Eh, this isn't really the greatest, is it?" and by the end it's just, "This flat out blows." If Gahan would have died back when he tried to make it happen and they made a biopic right then, David Duchovny would have really been the only choice for the lead role. As for Martin Gore? Perhaps the lovechild of Edward Scissorhands and the Flock of Seagulls guy? OK, I guess that's more or less just the Flock of Seagulls dude.
11. Nine Inch Nails -- "Down In It"
I admit that I still remembered the first eight or so lines to this one. Hearing it in the same hour as New Order, it's easy to realize that this is basically the same exact thing except with a really angry dude who really hates jocks singing. We all know about Trent Reznor's lyrical prowess; this one isn't really one of his worst, but the "I used to be so big and strong/I used to know my right from wrong/I used to never be afraid/I used to be somebody" part is pretty special. And by special I do indeed mean retarded.
12. Peter Murphy -- Who the Fuck Knows?
Missed the title of this one. Whatever. Fulfilling The Alternative's quota for over-produced solo crap from former lead singers of '80s bands that were overrated to begin with.
13. Garbage -- "Only Happy When It Rains"
Nope. Never understood Garbage and never understood the Shirley Manson appeal. I suppose if you're into Scottish clown-looking women, she may be your thing. As for Garbage, just so processed. That's not what music sounds like, is it? Also, what's the deal with the title? Supposedly it's an homage to JAMC, but I'm sure the Reids are like, "Uh, yeah, thanks, appreciate it." Maybe Butch Vig thought, "Hey, I produced Nevermind, I can get away with this." But you know what, Butch? You did a shitty job on Nevermind. This is another one of those songs where right after it starts I was like, "Oh, right, I don't remember this one being too terrible" and by the end I was like, "Yeah, my memory really does suck."
No joke, I think this is probably the best thing that's happened to me all summer. It's been a shitty summer, to be sure, but don't discount the happiness I feel right now.
I was really thinking of getting season tickets this year, too. Oh well.
That right there is the best Photoshopping I've done since I put myself into that Vanity Fair cover with Scarlett and Keira. Anyway, Jared wants to leave, and I say let him leave. The Wizards have long said they'd match any deal he signs, but let's hope that was just talkin' the talk. If there's one thing that would really make my life more miserable than it already is, it would be knowing that I'd have to deal with Jared Jeffries on the Wiz into my fuckin' 30s.
I thought we'd take a trip down memory lane to all the times we've talked about Jared here on SD. Let's begin the journey...
November 10, 2004
Choice excerpt: "On the other end, Jared Jeffries falls down as he tries to shoot it."
May 1, 2005
Choice excerpt: "Jared Jeffries is just not a very good basketball player ... has absolutely no touch around the basket. He can sometimes make a nice move and get to rim, and he will then proceed to smash the ball off the rim or the backboard, potentially injuring anyone who is in proper rebounding position."
May 13, 2005
Choice excerpt: "Despite the best attempts by “Fuckin’” Jared Jeffries (that’s his official new nickname) to sabotage the Wiz early on, they held a two-point lead at the half."
February 8, 2006
Choice excerpt: "OK, that was pretty good. Best performance of the night so far, which is sort of like when I said earlier that it was the best 29 seconds of Jared’s career. It’s all very, very relative."
April 26, 2006
Choice excerpt: "I should take this time to note the much-improved play of late by Jared Jeffries, and I should also take this time to thank his mother for finally calling him and telling him to shave that beard. Speaking of Jared, the Wizards suck because they really, really need Jared Jeffries to play well to win. That's never good."
So there you have some of the highlights of SD's hate affair with Jared over the past couple of years. It's nothing personal, dude. It's just that you're not very good at basketball and I'd rather my favorite team spend money on good basketball players than not so good ones. When you break it down like that, it makes plenty of sense. I mean, you don't think the Wiz regret matching that 6-year/$39 million deal Etan Thomas got from Milwaukee a few years ago? Jared gained a repuation as a "defensive stopper" this postseason, but that's as much due to who he's surrounded by, as anything else. So let Jared take his act to the Big Apple, where the press will surely have a field day with his inability to do anything at all except for that Jared Jeffries specialty -- tipping balls. And yes, that is open to any interpretation you like.
Lily Allen -- "Everything's Just Wonderful"
Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are. I never go for the "irresistible" pop stuff, whether it's hipster bloggy (Annie), Timbaland-whatever (Aaliyah, Nelly F.) or somewhere inbetween (Kylie, recent Madonna). Just not my thing. But boy do I love me some Lily Allen. It's not just that it's very simple and very catchy, but it's also really damn charming. At least I find her charming. I don't care if she's rich and prefab. After listening to the album enough I've realized that I get my fix after the first four songs, all of which are now a part of "My Top Rated" playlist. "LDN" is still the best bet to end up on the year-end countdown, but this is the one I've been enjoying most this week. It sort of reminds me of "The New Pollution," a song I never really liked back in high school. But it's got everything that makes me love her -- it's kind of funny, she curses, it's to the point. Bravo, Lily, bravo.
Modest Mouse -- "3rd Planet"
A couple of things that I used to do a whole lot that I stopped doing almost entirely that I've started doing again -- driving around at night and smoking cigarettes. I'm not really a big Modest Mouse fan -- far from it -- but the band writes good songs for driving around at night, good songs for smoking cigarettes, and when you combine the two, it's a pretty wonderful thing. I can't really listen to Modest Mouse while not doing those things, actually. And I really only like the first five songs off The Moon and Antarctica, anyway. And that one song just makes me think of the "Mom's have changed" minivan commercial. But this song is a killer, a definite masterpiece. Did I mention how I like cursing in songs? For a while I liked "Dark Center of the Universe" better, if only because that was a better showcase for Brock's best talent (repeating the same phrase with different, interesting intonations), but this is the one that stands up to three, four straight listens.
Liz Phair -- "Divorce Song"
Liz Phair probably wins the award for artist/band of the last decade whose post-peak body of work has been so utterly terrible and embarrassing that it really makes you not want to listen to her good stuff at all. But goddamn if Exile isn't a really great album, still. I wish that "Flower" was never on there, because it's a terrible song that distracts from the rest of the album, but whatever. This one was always my favorite back in the day and it still is. Hey, how about that, she curses. The one thing that always confused me was why she stole his lighter. I never figured that one out. It seems like it wouldn't be an easy thing to hide, and if you light a cigarette in his presence he'd probably be like, "Hey, isn't that my lighter?" But what's the big deal, anyway? I bought a six-pack of lighters the other day, I wouldn't care if someone like Liz Phair stole one of 'em.
Material Issue -- "Diane"
I suppose this is sort of an appropriate pairing; didn't Material Issue and Liz Phair collaborate at some point? Before Jim Ellison suffocated himself to death, of course. Probably not quite as bad as the Elliott Smith route, but definitely not the quickest and least painful way to go. Which is sort of the point, right? "Valerie Loves Me" is the obvious hit from this album, but "Diane" has the most staying power, I think. Who wouldn't love a 19-year-old with her own helicopter and submarine? Valerie, Diane, Renee, Christine ... dude had a lot of ladies in his life. That makes his suicide either even more questionable, or, more likely, all the more understandable.
The Oranges Band -- "I Live Alone"
On Monday night, ZR and I will be heading up to the Ottobar with our new BFFs to catch TOB. Yes, I still get super-excited every time I get to see TOB, even though it happens fairly frequently. I recently decided that my favorite moment in any TOB song is the first few seconds of this one right here, the kind of fake start followed by a "Hoo!" (which is different from "Woo!" mind you). It's not as pogo-inducing as "Success" or "My Street" or as pretty as "Open Air" or "Ride the Wild Wave," but it's heavy, repetitive, features a great one-note solo and is done under two minutes. There's this song of mine that ZR and I are working on right now that he really likes and I like it to, but I feel it might be just a bit too much of a straight rip of this tune. And for me to say a song of ours is too much of a straight rip of another song, then you know it's gotta be pretty shameless. I'll recap Monday's show in the upcoming "Show Diary, mid-June through July" which will also feature fun stuff like The Great Blue Cheer Banter of 2006 and The Full African Experience of Konono No. 1 at the Black Cat.
It's been quiet here lately. There's been a bit of a disturbance in the force at SD. We'll just leave it at that. Things may pick up again soon, although with fantasy basketball season around the corner, I must say my blogging energies will probably be focused elsewhere. I'm really, really trying to become John Hollinger's apprentice, and while I think my work at SD may help out, it's just a neat little extra. 24 Power Rankings? Never. Sorry. I think I accidentally erased it from my Tivo. No, I didn't. But whatever. Don’t expect, don’t expect…
Anyway, I was up in Pittsburgh last weekend visiting the half of my family that I don't often see. That includes my brother who just turned 14, meaning he'll be starting high school in the fall. I’ve never lived with him, so I’ve never been able to have too much of an influence, especially when it comes to music. His tastes are … well, I think pitiful is the word. It’s complete top 40 hip-pop, NOW-type stuff. I looked through his iTunes, it wasn’t pretty. Most songs on the T.I. album got four or five stars, while “Can’t Buy Me Love,” which I guess my mom must have put on there, had one star. Ouch. Why not just delete it, I asked him. “I dunno, sometimes I like it.” I didn’t want to force stuff upon him at too young of an age, because really, he needs to discover for himself. If he at least has a self-developed like or love for music, then you can work on taste after that. But you can’t force it.
He went to a small, Jewish private school up through eighth grade, and in the fall will be starting at a public school where he’ll have to pass through a metal detector everyday. Not that it’s too ghetto or anything, just showing that it will be a shift, and I figured this would be a good time to try to begin to steer him in the right direction. Gently nudge, at least. I mean, you don't go from Yung Joc to Young Marble Giants overnight. OK, you probably never go from Yung Joc to Young Marble Giants, but you get my point. So for his birthday, I decided to buy him six CDs -- three of his choice, three of my choice. Here's how it went.
His Choice #1 -- The Fray, How to Save a Life
I promised I'd hold no editorial control over his choices, and he really tested me with this one. Perhaps the most perfect example of Music For Normal People. Which isn't a good thing, obviously. Not that I've subjected myself to too much of this, but it sounds to me like Keane with a hint of Nickelback, and is one of those bands that makes you think of diseases you'd rather have than listen to this band.
My Choice #1 -- Arctic Monkeys, Silly Long Album Title Goes Here
Not that I particularly like these guys, but I have nothing against them. Seems like perfectly competent alt-rock that might appeal to people who don't usually listen to that sort of thing. My brother had never heard of them, which shows just how disconnected from rock music he is. I figured they are "cool," they curse, it's catchy, why not?
His Choice #2 -- Mobb Deep, Blood Money
This one really threw me off, until I looked at the package and realized it had Fitty/G-Unit all over the place. Part of me wanted to say, "If you want a Mobb Deep album, why don't you just get (whatever the "classic" one is)." But again, his choices were his choices.
My Choice #2 -- Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak
Originally this was going to be Franz Ferdinand, but I thought AM and FF would be a bit of U.K. overkill. And I still like this album. I have a feeling that Kings of Leon will probably end up with a more impressive career than the Strokes, which I would have thought was ridiculous when I saw both of those bands play together a few years ago. The dude's voice was my main issue with picking this one, I can see how it would befuddle someone who only listens to rap and MFNP (see the Fray, above).
His Choice #3 -- Field Mob, Light Poles and Pine Trees
I'll fully admit to never having heard of these guys. Apparently they are "down home" Southern rap, or something. The new Nappy Roots? I dunno. I hope my brother likes it.
My Choice #3 -- Ghostface Killah, Fishscale
He obviously likes rap, so I figured I'd give him a DM-approved one. I could've gone with an old-school Wu-Tang joint, but I figured I'd keep it current. I obviously don't listen to much rap, but this is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year so far. I threw it into my iTunes without all of the skits, so that makes it a lot easier to get through. I thought my bro should get some gritty hip-hop as opposed to all of the crossover tested and approved stuff he listens to.
I told him he had to listen to all of the CDs and write me a few sentences on each one. Because there's nothing kids like more than homework over the summer. I predict that he listens to Ghostface once, listens to about two or three songs from Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon and tells me they are all "pretty good." Fuckin' kids.
At this point, the SD Hall of Fame seems to have two distinct types of members: established proto-indie rock classics and my favorite indie albums from the '90s. Hey, it's my HOF, so that's fine with me. Time for one of the latter today.
Smog is one of those bands that I feel gets overlooked due to his amazing consistency. (Speaking of consistency, just get used to me jumping back and forth between referring to Smog as a band and a person, OK?) He's gone about his business, on Drag City for his entire career, releasing roughly an album a per year, always at least solid, often near-brilliant, but lacking that one defining album that made lots of people take notice at once. Well, I think Knock Knock is that brilliant album.
Not that I was listening to his albums in order from the beginning, but looking back now it seems that Knock Knock is the one where just about all of those emo-y qualities from the earlier records disappeared. It's as if Callahan realized that feelings are for suckers and that the best way to go through like life is to look at everything with detached amusement. I support him on that. There are still some pretty poignant moments here, but there's always that hint of smirkiness, that makes you think twice about whether he's saying something meaningful or just something that sounds good over the two chords he picked for that specific song. On to the rankings...
1. Hit the Ground Running -- The perfect slow-build, element-adding, repetitive, hypnotic sing-along. Century of Slang would make a pretty excellent blog name, only slightly behind SD in its late-'90s Drag City referencing. I was hoping it'd be more interesting. Alas. Although a cat dying from "a serious injury to his legs along with a mixture of shock and old age" is somewhat interesting, I guess. No? No.
2. Cold Blooded Old Times -- I think I might actually prefer the solo acoustic version from the 7", but the hand-clapping, jam-out ending version here is mighty all right as well. Two chords, phrases that make you nod thoughtfully and a children's chorus that isn't just not annoying, but actually adds to the song.
3. Teenage Spaceship -- This was the favorite back in '99 when the album came out, landing somewhere in the top 10 on the Soi Disantra Top 33 of '99 Countdown on WMUC. I tend to have a pretty decent memory about stupid things like this, and I think it came in at #7, just behind forgotten classic "Fox Trot" by Manishevitz. Go ahead and download that one and enjoy it. "Teenage Spaceship" is a delightful little meditation on ... something. This was saved as a draft for a bit and I'm just finishing it up now after coming home drunk from the Camera Obscura show, so, y'know? THIS SONGZ REUILLZZZ!!!
4. I Could Drive Forever -- Another one of those songs that just goes to show that you don't really need a whole lot of ideas to make a great song. But it does help to have the most effortlessly cool vocal delivery around. These songs are great because they simmer and then build a bit and then you think it's going to hit that big point ... but nope. That was it. You were waiting for it, but it was happening. Sucker. So then you go back and listen again. Sometimes what's not there is as important as what is there, y'know? (That's obviously a sentence written while drunk, duh.)
5. Held -- It's basically a toss up between this one, "River Guard" and "Let's Move to the Country," but the "woo"s at the end put this one over the top. It's so out of character, but it works so well. This song could almost be like a Nick Cave tune, y'know? That's a good thing, by the way.
Worst Song -- No Dancing
Maybe the toughtest album yet to pick a "worst" from. Which makes sense with Smog, since it's all about that consistency. The combination just doesn't really do it for me here -- the metal-y guitar, the kids choir, the strings. The subtlelty is lost. Or something.
The Ramones, Ramones
Archers of Loaf, Vee Vee
Can, Monster Movie
The Fall, Grotesque (After the Gramme)
Bob Dylan, Desire
Beulah, When Your Heartstrings Break
The Wedding Present, Watusi
The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico
It's been too nice around here lately. Time to get nasty. As we enter the second half of the year, it's finally clear who we despise. So here's SD's Official 10 Bands We Hate in 2006. If you like one of these bands, hey, nobody's perfect. If you like two of these bands, you might want to re-think a few things. If you like three of these bands, we're willing to make you a mix CD for a very reasonable price. If you like four or more of these bands, you probably got here by Google blog searching one of those bands. Nothing to see here, move along.
Anyway, in no particular order...
Stellastarr* -- Probably the worst offenders of over-stylized crap rock that somehow gets passed off as "indie" these days. I started finding Paul Shirley's columns far less entertaining after he talked about how much he loved this band. The whole thing was just tainted. And also, the gimmick sort of died once he wasn't in the NBA anymore, didn't they realize that?
Nelly Furtado -- We get it, we get it. You're a whore. You're loose, you're promiscuous and will probably have sex with anything that fits in your vagina. Wow, that was unnecessarily and unexpectedly graphic, wasn't it? That's not usually like us at SD. Apologies.
Architecture in Helsinki -- Proving that not just Canadians have bands with too many members who serve absolutely no purpose but to attempt to make uninteresting songs sound interesting by playing random instruments. Australia, we expect better from you.
Red Hot Chili Peppers -- For the record, I'd like to state that I was definitely among the first people to notice that Will Ferrell and Chad Smith are quite obviously long-lost brothers. It's truly frightening. But not as frightening as the fact that as I was reading the cover story in the recent Rolling Stone that it dawned on me that this band may very well be remembered as one of the top bands of my "generation" in 20 or 30 years. So very wrong.
Tilly and the Wall -- (Can't ... type. Gagging ... too ... fucking ... much. Stomach pains ... from so much ... gagging.)
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins -- It seems we have quite an issue with the Saddle Creek-affiliated ladies. Do you blame us? I didn't think so.
Radio 4 -- OK, here's one we can all agree on. Right? Stylus's positive review of their record combined with the lukewarm-at-best review of the Camera Obscura record made it clearer than ever that bizarre, at-odds-with-the-rest-of-the-Internet reviews is their driving force.
Muse -- Certainly the most unlistenable band here. Consider them the Mohammed Atta of this list -- even more sinister and guilty. Most of these other bands, I can at least understand what the appeal might be. That's not the case here.
Mates of State -- Old reliables, a throwback to the college radio days of yore. One of those bands like Of Montreal that's not only still around, but actually fairly popular. Weird. And both bands play at the State Theatre when they come through town. I think that says a lot right there. Anyway, Mates of State give people who can't sing a bad name, which isn't cool.
Refugee All-Stars of Sierra Leone -- Yeah, real cool, your country people are still in living hell and you're "bringing the situation to the attention of the American public" but really just getting high with the hippies at Bonnaroo. Leave the subject of the plight of suffering Africans to the people who really know what's going on there -- Bono and Angelina Jolie.