Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The year end thing

Every website and blog on this planet is now prepping a year end or decade end list. That's a silly and stupid waste of time. Of course I want to do it too. I think I'll do just a year end list though. To do a decade list is kind of an idiotic thing for me to attempt. My tastes in everything changed dramatically in ten years so it would be kind of stupid to do a "best of the decade" or whatever. Plus. we all know the last ten years blew donkey balls anyway. It's much easier to do a best of the year thing. So enjoy my shitty little post.

BEST IN MUSIC: this in no way implies I have heard everything that came out this year. Not even close. This is just my personal favorite stuff.

Albums: The TOP 3
1. Dinosaur Jr- Farm: The best album by anyone this year. Period. If you don't agree I don't care. Fuck off and get your own blog.

2. NOFX-Coaster: This is the best thing this band has done since "Punk in Drublic". I was kind of amazed actually.

3. Propagandhi- Supporting Caste: They did it again. If every album they write doesn't make you feel guilty or stupid something is definitely wrong with you. The only band that inspires me to read more. Still.


1. Polar Bear Club- Chasing Hamburg: Great album. I don't have much else to say on the matter

2. Paint it Black- Amnesia EP: This is how hardcore should be played.

3. Baroness- The Blue Record: The gnarly whatever the fuck metal they play is still there with more noodly guitars and some Thin Lizzy thrown in for shits and giggles. I'll allow it. Also, they're better than Mastodon.

Other albums I liked in no order:

The Appleseed Cast-Sagarmantha(I think that's how it was spelled)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- I forgot the album name. Yes that's a real band.
Dead Swans- Sleepwalkers
Soul Control- Cycles
Russian Circles- Geneva
Pelican- What We All Come to Need

Worst albums:

The new Set Your Goals. What a giant piece of shit. Everything that's wrong with the current punk rock scene.

Poison the Well-The Tropic Rot: A huge waste of time and a major disappointment. This is the sound of a band that doesn't know what the fuck it wants to do.

I don't give a shit about: The new Converge album. I don't care what it sounds like. Nor do I care about the new Weezer. I'm sure it's shitty.

Best live band: Ceremony. My head just un-caved itself 6 months later.

Also cool to see live: The Get-Up Kids, Face to Face, These Arms Are Snakes, Baroness, Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion

NOFX: Still sucks live

Saves the Day: continues to disappoint me

Best Album cover: The Crystal Castle's "Alice Practice" EP. Madonna with a black eye? Priceless. Their music is fucking dumb though.

Everyone needs to stop: liking Kings of Leon

Everyone needs to remember: Michael Jackson touched children inappropriately

Dropkick Murphys: needs to break up. It's music for frat boys who want to seem edgy.

I still hate: Phish

I'm Glad: I don't know who Lady Gaga is.

Old Bands I got really into:
The Jesus Lizard

I wish: Alternative Press would go away, kids stopped dressing like highliters, all skinny jeans lit on fire, a record store would open near my house that isn't Best Buy, Wu-Tang would play my basement, all shows weren't in fucking Brooklyn or Albany, and Jawbreaker would reunite.

Other things I want: A new Pig Destroyer album, a new Ted Leo album, to finally see Dinosaur jr, a Saves the Day album that doesn't suck, an album from Blake Schwartzbach's (Jawbreaker) new band, Dave Matthews Band to swallow acid collectively,


Best Movie: Inglorious Basterds. Yeah it's a controversial choice. However, I don't care what you think. The Hangover was close though.

Worst Movie: Anything done by Michael Bay. I didn't even see Transformers 2 to know it sucks. Same with (C)GI Joe. In fact, stop ruining my childhood cartoon nostalgia goddammit. Also, Funny People sucked as well.

UPDATE: When I previously posted this blog I made a terrible mistake. I neglected to mention the one movie I hated more than any other. I hated it more than dropping my car keys so they slide under the car and bounce in the middle so they can't be reached. I am talking about the abomination that was Watchmen. Wait, you're thinking, Watchmen was bad? Yes. Zack Snyder is as bad as Rob Zombie if not worse. He is the quintessential frat boy who read a comic book once and plays a lot of Halo. Let us briefly go through his career, shall we? Dawn of the Dead? Zombies don't fucking run shithead. 300? The first comic book he ruined. It managed to be the only movie ever to be both homoerotic and homophobic all at the same time. That brings me to Watchmen. It is, like all Alan Moore works, unfilmable. You can't possibly hope to convey on screen what that comic was all about. Anyone who has actually read it knows exactly what I mean. The only saving grace was the guy who played Rorschach. He nailed it. Zack Snyder went for his "Dark Knight" and struck the fuck out. Avoid. Oh wait, most of you did. Good call.

Since I phased out my horror blog: Martyrs was amazing. Everything else kinda sucked. In fact all the great horror movies I saw this year were French. Weird.

Paranormal Activity: surprised the shit out of me. In a good way.

Rob Zombie: is a fucking hack. Stop making movies.

Zombieland: was probably great but I don't remember it due to inebriation.

Best DVD acquisition: The Beyond

Megan Fox: is hot but stupid.

Natalie Portman: should marry me.

I still don't care about: celebrity deaths.

I got really into: Old school Kung Fu movies. Like with the bad dubbing and everything.

I was glad to see: The ninja movie make a comeback. Even though I didn't see it.

I am: The Bear Jew

Best older movie viewed this year:
John Woo's The Killer. Holy shit.

Hollywood would do better without: James Cameron and his CGI nonsense bullshit. Avatar? It looks like someone just filmed a kid playing Halo. I'm just waiting for the Celine Dion song. Also, the woman who wrote Juno and Jennifer's Body should stop all future projects immediately. And furthermore, no more fucking shitty remakes. And what the fuck happened to real action movies? Oh, and since when does Sherlock Holmes know karate?

Oh yeah fuck Twilight too.

Happy New Year. Assholes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A post that reeks of shame

You knew this was coming. Well, maybe you didn't. In fact this was a post I didn't want to write. But shit why not. All of you at least know about the new MTV abomination that is "Jersey Shore". I like to pride myself on being almost completely unaware of current pop culture. Blissfully unaware. However, about two weeks ago I was watching TV on a Thursday, eagerly awaiting the new "Always Sunny..." episode when my roommate informed me that we will be watching the aforementioned MTV nonsense. I flipped out a little. I hate MTV. This is well documented. I knew nothing about this show. Since I don't watch much TV (certainly no MTV) I saw no commercials for this program, nor did I have any idea what it was about. I assumed it was a shitty reality show. I was pretty much correct in my assumption, but I really had no idea what I was in for. Show starts, and...it's a bunch of stupid fake tanned kids with over-gelled hair or silly fake tanned slutty girls with fake accents. So it's like going to the Newburgh waterfront. As a TV show. I should hate every minute. Yet I found myself laughing hysterically at these people. And yes it is laughing AT them. It's like MTV decided that this type of person, the identity challenged kid with over-expensive clothing and a Dragonball-Z haircut, needed to be ridiculed. I watched, and I laughed. A lot. I even looked forward to the inevitable 28 million re-runs of every episode.

It helps that these kids are terrible people. Really terrible. And it helps that when I see these people in real life I hate them just as much as on TV. It also helps that I love trash TV, and Bret Michaels Bang Bus isn't on anymore. What the hell happened in these kids' childhoods that made them this way? Doesn't matter. Many people see this show as a sign of the coming apocalypse. They might be right, but I think they care way too much. It's a fucking TV show designed to exploit those they showcase for profit. Nothing more. An entertaining one at that. This brings me to the crux of the post here. There has been some major controversy (I suppose) about last night's episode. Firstly, I would like to go through some of the characters (because that's what they are). There's a guy on the show who calls himself "The Situation". Skip him, he's a steroid addled mongoloid from the depths of hell. He will die alone in a hospital due to AIDS. One could only hope. Then there is "snookie". What the hell is that thing? She looks like something Godzilla would fight, only in Hobbit size. She was described in an article as a "troll" or "goblin". Yes this is all true of course. I would like to describe her more as a mutant the ninja turtles would come across in one of their adventures. The Shredder created her out of the ooze I think. I think she was a stunt double for Slimer in the first Ghostbusters movie. Matters not of course, let me get to the point. Last night, this silly Jabba the Hutt-like creature was punched in the face. MTV, despite showing it already in commercials, declined to show it in the actual episode. MTV clearly caved into whatever pressure was being thrown their way( probably by women's groups, maybe even PETA), and took the scene out. They only show her being annoying and then on the ground crying. That's fine I guess. I just think it's hilarious that suddenly MTV has a morality issue. Since when? The station has been showing questionable bullshit since The Real World like 4 or 5 and now, suddenly, they can't show a punch in the face. Wasn't it that fuckin Tila Tequila nonsense where they showed the same guy getting punched like every 5 minutes? I am not saying I want to see a girl get hit. Not at all. But that snookie thing isn't a girl. It's a demon from "The Evil Dead" and needs to be stopped. Guy might be a hero. Then, after the episode, they show a Domestic Violence Hotline thing. How the fuck does that even apply? She got punched in a bar by a drunk guy. Period. She didn't get laid out by a guy she was fucking. By the way I'm pretty sure that guy is ruined. Way to sign a release so MTV can show your face asshole. MTV is evil. Always has been. Yet, they managed to finally put something entertaining on TV. If now they'd cancel everything else they air it might be a channel worth watching occasionally. No not at all actually.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"I'm dumped she's a lesbian..."

I have been playing Weezer's "Pinkerton" album straight through for this entire day. I have not listened to anything else. I intend to continue this tomorrow as well. Why the "Pinkerton" album? My question to you is why the fuck not? It is a classic. Quite possibly the best album of the 90's. Yeah I know that's a bold statement. There are a lot of albums that were better. Of this I am sure. However, I don't care about those right now. I do not know every word to The Jesus Lizard's "Goat" album, despite the fact that maybe musically it's better. I do know every single fucking word of the "Pinkerton" album. This album is significant for a lot of reasons. One, it is Weezer's last good album. To me it's their only GREAT album. I know, I know the "Blue" album is good what the hell am I even saying? Fuck that, "Pinkerton" destroys it. There are no hit singles. No "Buddy Holly" or "The Sweater Song". That's one reason why it's so good. It is an album devoid of any real pop sensibility. It is way too weird for normal consumption. In fact, songs about Japanese girls and their letters and what they might wear to school pretty much nail the coffin shut on MTV air play. To me, that is why everything about this album is fucking great.

One huge reason, the songs themselves. Just a few honorable mentions. To go song by song would be kinda ridiculous. "Tired of Sex"? Yeah a nerd like Rivers Cuomo wrote a song with this title. But it's not even really about that. I won't get into it, but when he starts, I don't know yelling or yelping? It's frustration city and if you can't relate you aren't human. "Why Bother?"? If you listen to this song, really listen, and hate it afterwards I think I hate you. Then right after this, we hear "Across the Sea". This song is probably played at Rivers Cuomo's therapy sessions. I won't get into what it's about. I take from it what I want. And it's fucking brilliant. Every line. Next on the track list, "The Good Life". Yeah, I really don't wanna be an old man anymore. I'll skip to "Pink Triangle". It's about being in love with a lesbian. "Every one's a little queer. Why can't she be a little straight?". Fuckin brilliant? Yeah you are totally right. As we get to the end of the album, we get a little sadder, even more nerdy. Okay, so maybe I did mention most of the songs. Sue me. Weezer was never fucking better than they were right here. In fact they sucked tremendously right after and to this very day. Really, what the fuck is "Raditude"?

Sadly, as I sort of just mentioned, Rivers Cuomo would never make an album like this again. They would make a series of power pop albums that had a few great songs, but as a whole blew goats. There are a trillion reasons why this happened. I don't care to mention them here. All I know is "Pinkerton" is stupid good. There will never be another "Pinkerton". No band will top its lyrical brilliance, or anything else about the album. I don't fucking care what you think. You are wrong. I literally belted this whole album out 8 times in the last day and a half. I don't even know why I felt the urge to continuously listen to this album. The usual reason, i.e. I'm having what I call an "I hate girls" week, isn't even close to occurring. I think I really just want to keep listening to it. Maybe because Rivers Cuomo is insane and I want to hear the last great thing he did before he went bat shit crazy. Either way, listen to this fucking album right fucking now. Thank you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just when I thought I was out...

What is it about winter that makes me suddenly need to hear metal? Especially black metal? I don't get it. For the last year or so I have been sorta subconsciously distancing myself from the metal. I still would listen to it when the mood struck me, but I was concentrating my musical tastes elsewhere. Yet as I type this the world outside is an ice covered mess of shit and all I want to do is listen to Immortal's "Sons of Northern Darkness" album. It's a strange phenomenon.

In college, all I would listen to was obscure metal. Mostly from Scandinavia. Now why would I enjoy such a thing? Because I don't care what happens in music, death/black metal will never ever be cool to listen to. Or so I thought. More on this later. In my senior year of high school, there was a radio show that ran out of WestConn on Sunday nights. They played a lot of underground metal and hardcore. I was tired of hardcore at this point in my life. This was the era of Botch and bands that wanted to be Poison the Well. The era of breakdowns every 12 seconds and good cop/bad cop vocals. Boring. Of course, I wasn't astute enough to look in the indie rock direction for solace. Not yet. Also, hardcore became a hipster cool guy thing to listen to. This seemed wrong then and it is still wrong now. So one night, I was listening to this radio show while doing my math homework and I hear something fucking scary come out of the speakers. It was a song by a death metal band called Incantation. It was fucking evil, and heavy, and definitely not cool. I loved it. I then went on a 5 year spree of buying cd's from any extreme metal band that caught my fancy. I still love the old classic death metal albums I obtained then. For a long time, there were no bands obscure ENOUGH for me. Not only did no human ever hear of the bands, they couldn't spell or pronounce their names either. Now I listened to other stuff, but this was a priority.

Then something happened. I would see death metal shows and...I would leave bored. Before this I would see metal shows and it would be fun just to figure out what the logos on the shirts in the crowd were. Then one day I would see the same thing that disgusted me about modern hardcore creep its way into metal. In fact, by this time there wasn't much of a difference. It became an At the Gates rip off fest every night. A lot of younger bands just simply copied and pasted their sound. At this point I also read a book about black metal that made me lose my taste for the genre. I knew the Mayhem/Burzum story beforehand(if you don't know what I'm talking about it's kind of a long story. And I don't have time. Sorry.), but the weird line between black metal and Nazi stuff was a bit much to take. I don't want to have to worry about that shit when I pick out my music. Then came the fake grindcore bands like the Red Chord and Job for a Cowboy and all that myspace shit. And then suddenly, the hipster Botch crowd started to get into black metal, something that still makes no sense to me. This is evidenced by Hydra Head records signing black metal bands to be part of their history of price gouging their records. So in essence, metal and me didn't get along so well anymore.

Then last week it snowed like a bastard, and I found myself uploading every single metal album I had back on my itunes. It was a strange compulsion. I forgot how much I really like this crap. Metal isn't political, or uplifting. You can't listen to it when your girlfriend dumps you. You can't wear death metal shirts to a bar and expect ladies to be lining up to be your future child support recipients. But despite all this, metal is undeniably entertaining. Songs about vikings and battles are nothing if they're not funny unintentionally. Bands that sing about satan? Come on you know that's funny. And sometimes, the music fucking shreds. A good metal song will make you set permanent appointments to a chiropractor. I may have lost the faith once, but I'm back. Now I have to catch up on all the good shit I missed. And it's all because it snows like a bastard in New York. Go figure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Subgenres are stupid

As you know from the previous post, I picked up Chuck Klosterman's new book, "Eating the Dinosaur". I actually finished it today and I should say he's back in form. This is not a book review, however. I mention the book again because he mentions Weezer and how "emo" Rivers Cuomo is and other related things. I am going to start this off right now by saying this: the word "emo" is fucking stupid. There is no such word, and no one who knows anything about punk rock in any form should ever use it. "Emo" was originally coined to mean "emotional hardcore". Again, what a stupid fucking phrase. "Emotional Hardcore" is like saying "tasty chocolate" or "fast Corvette". It is completely redundant. ALL hardcore and punk rock is emotional. I used to think "emo" was just a made up word used by Spin magazine because they are completely devoid of any creativity or knowledge of what they write about. Therefore, in order to label something to make it easy on them, they made up the term "emo". No, I was wrong. Maximum RocknRoll made up the term as a sarcastic and derogatory way to slag a certain sound in punk rock. The name was applied originally to bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace out of DC. MRR in its silly defenders of the faith attitude created a monster with this. The name stuck and now literally thousands of bands are labeled (read saddled) with the moniker "emo". What the fuck is "emo" anyway? I've been listening to punk rock most of my life and I still have no fucking idea. As far as I can tell, and as far as the rock music media is concerned, it means punk rock about girls and breaking up with them. That is a gross generalization. Many bands slapped with this bullshit categorization sing about a whole mess of topics. Breaking up with some lady is really a minor part. But again, it is a stupid nonsense categorization. It doesn't really exist. You can't lump bands as diverse as On the Might of Princes, Saves the Day, and Jawbreaker in the same fucking subgenre. It's not like in metal where there are literally a hundred different subgenres that for some reason make sense. A genre by definition means that artists in that category have to adhere to certain sonic rules in their music. "Emo" as the mainstream rock world sees it can't possibly do that.

So how did this happen? How did so many bands get shit on with a stupid subgenre tag that doesn't exist? Well I think I can maybe answer that. The musical style came out of hardcore as a reaction. People were tired of punk rock as it was. Ian Mackaye says in an interview in the American Hardcore movie that "the violence became too central". The DC scene which he helped start became a violent skinhead filled nightmare that was no longer fun. Rites of Spring and Embrace were a direct result of that. The songs were more personal, emotional is a stupid word to use. Both bands would end up mutating into Fugazi, nothing more needs to be said there. Other bands in other areas would do the same. Violent scenes spawned bands that wrote silly pop songs on purpose. Songs about girls, about not fighting, about being nerds. The Descendents actually perfected this before anyone. This is the stuff that pretty much anyone on the planet can relate to, and being able to relate to the music is the only way it really works. Lifetime, Jawbreaker, The Promise Ring, Texas is the Reason. I could go on. This is the root of what would be called "emo". Its not anything really different. If you must call it something call it pop punk or indie punk. That makes more sense to me.

All of these bands are great. Some of the bands that came later are great. Everything was fine. Then came Chris Carabba and Dashboard Confessional. This would embody what the rock press would call "emo". An overly sensitive cry baby and a guitar singing songs without any hint of irony about his most personal issues. How fucking boring can you be? Didn't matter, the ladies ate it up (some dudes too). Everything changed right there. Innovation in punk rock is an absolute must, and I always say that it can be anything the audience wants it to be. However, what Carabba wrote and writes still are Cat Stevens songs with tattoos and better hair. All of the bands I mentioned before were humorous about being fucked over by the opposite sex, or life in general. That's what made the music great. Jawbreaker didn't sing about losing the girl, they sang about never having her to begin with and then chain smoking because of it. Even Saves the Day, who have since kind of shat on their past greatness, are extremely metaphorical and ironic. Even in the songs that border on the over-emotive, Chris Conley manages to put a bit of the "it's my fault I suck" attitude that Dashboard Confessional absolutely lack. The Get Up Kids are another band that slipped in that ironic intelligence. I don't believe Chris Carabba ever had any real trouble with the ladies. I don't care how sincere he claims to be, I don't buy it.

The "emo" moniker now reigns supreme in punk rock. There were equally stupid subgenre names that spawned out of that as well. Screamo is just one off the top. What a stupid fucking name for a genre of music. The problem is that the name won't ever go away. Klosterman calling Weezer an "emo" band is a total example of that. Weezer has nothing really to do with punk rock. If I were to compare them with anyone I'd say maybe The Replacements meets the Beach Boys meets Kiss meets Van Halen. The term has become so normal to use that people completely outside the punk rock community not only know what it is supposed to mean, but they use it in their normal discourse. Klosterman doesn't really know what he's talking about in this instance, but it's forgivable. I understand why he wrote it. Rivers Cuomo embodies the stereotype that the media has given the fake subgenre. A nerdy guy singing songs about girls. Wasn't rock music designed for nerdy guys to sing about girls? I mean how the fuck else would a guy who looks like Keith Richards ever get laid? I work at a high school. I can't count the times kids use the term "emo" to describe something punk rock related. It's now an adjective in our regular speech. Also, and most disturbingly, "emo" sells records. Just ask Fall Out Boy or Paramore. Even though it has to be said that these bands are completely inauthentic, the kids don't care. Fall Out Boy's lyrics don't even make any fucking sense. Paramore? It's a girl barely out of high school singing about the prom or whatever. Just call it what it is. Vapid Power Pop. Fucking ABBA with distortion.

My proposal is to get rid of the term "emo" from normal discourse relating to punk rock. Or anything else for that matter. If you want to tell me how a new band might sound, compare them to another band. Don't use the term "emo". I am not in any way a scene warrior, but the term is fucking stupid. "Emo" is another nonsense word to describe music that is hard to categorize. We should stop actively looking to throw music into neat easily labeled trash bags. If we can do this we can get rid of stupid nonsense genre tags, like "emo" or "viking pagan black metal" or "mathcore". Honestly, what the hell does any of that mean? I think the best way to get rid of stupid genre tags is to completely avoid rock music media. SPIN and Rolling Stone and NME and all the other wannabe music taste makers. Cut them out of your life. Figure it out yourself. That's the best thing I can say. Now here's a picture of Fugazi:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Curse of Nirvana

I think this blog has gotten pretty political lately. I don't want to keep boring all of you (the two people who might see this) with more soapboxing(although I could thanks to New York and its backward thinking on marriage rights, but I digress). Therefore, I would like to get back to the music. I recently picked up the new book by Chuck Klosterman, "Eating a Dinosaur". I did this despite kind of hating his last non-fiction book, and utterly ignoring his novel (pretentious much?). Anyway, the book is kind of written along the lines of "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" in that he writes essays about his personal insights about pop culture related things. Personally, despite the fact that I believe he is a gifted writer, I think his taste in pop culture is kind of limited. His knowledge of music is pretty limited to what Rolling Stone says is cool. But whatever. I'm getting away from my own topic. He has a chapter in the new book where he discusses Nirvana. It got me thinking a little bit about what happened to that band. I have liked Nirvana since I was too young to like anything. Especially, music like that. I am not going to get into the events surrounding Kurt Cobain's death. I am also not one of these fans that obsessively tries to find every B-side the band ever recorded. I have a theory about Nirvana that really doesn't have much to do with Nirvana. They are the band that accidentally cursed indie rock forever.

Everyone knows about Nirvana. They recorded one album on Sub Pop, then signed to Geffen, and released the only really good (except Weezer's Pinkerton) major label rock record in the whole decade. Nevermind was a monster of an album. Personally, I always liked the songs that didn't make MTV better than the singles. There were maybe 4 songs total that weren't singles. Yet, despite this huge success, Nirvana was not the band this should have happened to. Nirvana operated from a different barometer of what success in music was. They were a small market band that played huge arenas, and they were never ever comfortable with it. A lot of people will say, "what the fuck are they complaining about?". My answer to these people would be that not every band forms to make hit records. Nirvana was a band that accidentally had a mega hit record. The media latched on quickly, and only helped to make the band even more uneasy with their fame. It had to be a little tough to see meathead jock frat boys loving "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Makes your music a bit less than authentic. Nirvana was a band that struggled to find credibility in a corporate rock shithole world. They were a credible band, but not in their minds. They did everything they could to change this. I honestly believe that Kurt Cobain would have much preferred to play shitty dive clubs for the whole of his music career instead of the arenas.

They would play a ton of shows after Nevermind, put out a great album of B-sides called Incesticide, and then they began to plan what Klosterman calls, "their bad album". I disagree with Klosterman, and anyone else who thinks In Utero is a bad album. In Utero was a calculated move, a master plan of an album. Everything about the record suggests a band trying to regain some integrity they believed they lost after Nevermind. It seems like they were determined to piss off the same mindless audience that bought their last album by the truckload. Frat boys need not apply. It was going to be an album for the underground kids. They even had Steve Albini master (read produce) it. Albini's name was and still is synonymous with integrity and ethics in indie rock. It also means noise and heavy distortion. Not to mention the man produced some of the greatest indie rock records ever (Pixies "Doolittle" anyone?). So Albini was an obvious choice. It's still a pop rock record. There are hooks, loud quiet loud dynamics, but it's noisy, distorted and almost pissed. There really was only one song that could have been a single. The album just isn't accessible to most people. Yet as I write this I am reminded of a band that should not have been at all listenable to the mainstream public yet also sold a stupid amount of records. Coheed anyone? I'll get to them later. Anyway, Nirvana would not make anymore albums for reasons I think everyone knows. Thus bringing us to my theory. Nirvana was the first band from the underground music scene of the 80's to make it. I mean really make it. Husker Du may have signed to a major before breaking up but by and large people have no idea who they are. Nirvana was the first and therefore set the precedent. Labels are still combing the clubs looking for the next Nirvana. And they have signed anyone they think has any similarity, in attitude or influences. A solid majority of these bands end up in the bargain bin at your FYE, on drugs, or even dead. This is the curse.

If you listen to the radio these days, you will hear an awful lot of bands that have a somewhat punk rock sound. I won't get into why this is a shitty thing but you get the point. However, for every Green Day or Paramore there is a New Found Glory or an Alkaline Trio. For every Dashboard Confessional a Jawbreaker. Or a Samiam. Or a Jawbox. The list goes on. Bands that had their brief little moment on the radio and where promptly dropped the minute their label lost money on them. Nirvana should be a cautionary tale. A story older bands tell younger bands to scare them. This might happen if you sign to a major. Many bands that have come from the underground to the mainstream like to say that "we want to change the industry". Nirvana actually did this, but they weren't trying. Rise Against, Against Me!, take some notes. The Nirvana curse killed Jawbreaker and other bands because these bands weren't comfortable with success. Playing in front of thousands is not why these people picked up instruments. Your band will NOT change a fucking thing.

This brings us to the curious case of Coheed and Cambria. I can't think of any band in recent memory that the Nirvana curse has hit harder. It's almost a textbook case. A small band on a small label, Coheed brought some really original ideas to the table with their first album. First of all, it was (and every album since has been) a concept album. A dorky Sci-fi story I still don't really get. They sounded like Rush and Thursday had a malformed alien child with a story to tell. When I bought that first CD, I thought no person in the regular radio listening world would ever latch on to this. It was original and completely amazing. That's why the next album exploded. It shouldn't have. But it did. The second album was more prog, more metal, and completely weird. Yet I didn't turn on my television once that whole year without seeing their video. It still boggles my mind. How the fuck does a band with a chia pet haired falsetto singer sell millions of records? So what happened? They wrote a shitty follow up record, developed coke habits, and basically imploded. I don't know if this band wanted success, but they definitely could not handle it. I hear now that a new record is on its way (I didn't check out the last one) but I'm not sure many people still care.

There are exceptions of course. There are the bands that not only embrace success but seem to revel in it. These bands were not really independent to begin with. It's a mentality not just a record label. Blink-182 and Green Day wanted the success. That's why they are good at it. It wasn't a hard decision to jump either. Some bands manage to walk that fine line. Bridging success with DIY ethics. NOFX is the best example. Those guys are millionaires but I won't ever hear them on the radio. Maybe NOFX should set a new precedent. I do believe that there are more victims of the Nirvana curse just waiting to happen. Mastodon is an example, AFI as well. These bands will implode. It's just a matter of when.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

War, Politics, Rambo III

Apparently those in government haven't seen Rambo III. If you dear reader, also have not had the pleasure, I will give you a brief synopsis. This is the one where Rambo has to go on another mission, this time in Afghanistan, where his mentor Col. Trautmann (I think that's his name) is being held captive by the Russians. Wait, why the fuck are the Russians there in the 80's? Oh ok yeah Afghanistan was Russia's version of Vietnam. They spent a lot of time, and many people needlessly died so they could gain control of Afghanistan. This, like Vietnam (and Iraq, now) didn't turn out so well. We all know what happened next. So wait ok, why was an American military guy there in the 80's? Because we liked to fuck shit up for the Russians wherever and whenever possible in our 50 year pissing match otherwise known as the Cold War. Yeah, American military and CIA people trained the Afghan resistance to use the missile launchers that they now so lovingly use on us. This isn't me making shit up. It's fact. So why do I bring up Rambo III? There's a line in the movie that somehow seems very relevant right now. I'm paraphrasing but in the quote a resistance fighter says to Rambo that no foreign invader will ever take Afghanistan or its people. Something about not being slaves, and so on. This idea is repeated several times in the movie, almost as an abstract lesson about the futility of it all. Maybe something about freedom. Or maybe it's still just Rambo blowing shit up with exploding arrows, snarling at the bad guys as he dispatches them by the hundreds. Maybe President Obama needs to watch Rambo III.

Yeah, I watched the speech. My assesment? This war is Vietnam II. It was mismanaged from day one and will continue to be so. No amount of troops will change that. All it will do is send more kids home in flag covered coffins. Yes, I am opposed to a troop surge. I am opposed to war as a whole and nothings ever going to change my mind. This is not what I voted for. I voted for the end of two useless wars and health care. Looks like Santa (or in my case Hanukkah Harry) isn't bringing me what I want this year. I should also mention that in no part of the speech did he mention how we are supposed to pay for the surge. Isn't this supposed to be the worst economic climate since 1929? Obviously, our President's not worried about it. The money will magically appear for this I'm sure. Yet, we just can't seem to find the cash for a free health care system in our country. Nor can we find the cash to rebuild New Orleans. But fuck it, we got plenty of money for blowing shit up. Want proof? Watch the same Republican congress people and Senators that blast the public option every day trip over themselves to be the first to praise a troop surge. I'm sure that GI Joe Lieberman will practically drool on camera when he goes on the cable news network rounds in the next few days. Hell, none of their kids have to go fight so what does it matter to them? But pay for a system that guarantees health care coverage to all Americans? Absolutely not. That's socialism.

Maybe everybody needs to see Rambo III.

Jello Biafra (of Dead Kennedys fame...I hope I didn't have to tell you that) has a new cd coming out with his new band. It's called "The Audacity of Hype". That's exactly how I feel right now. Lotsa hype, nothing else. I am pretty close to being at the end of my tolerance rope for this administration. When a Republican takes office, you know what to expect. So when they make horrible foreign policy decisions or have insanely backward ideas about social issues, you shouldn't be surprised. In an odd way, it's almost comforting. Like finding the last roll of toilet paper when you're sure you ran out. In some even weirder way, it's far worse when the Democrats take office. When they take these same batshit crazy policy positions, and act on them, it's almost like a kick in the face. Some recent examples: NAFTA, health care, troop escalations, etc. It hurts because these people supposedly know better. They pretend at least to have progressive ideas and they talk them up constantly. Then we stupidly elect them, and they are reminded by their corporate masters who really runs things. "Fuck up kiddo and we'll make sure you get nothing out of us when it comes time to re-elect your silly ass", "you just keep things normal. Don't get all FDR on us". Then suddenly we hear things like "be patient", "we have a lot of work to do", and other lovely catch phrases of the political bullshit planet. This typically follows another disappearing campaign promise. So I guess maybe we are the ones to really blame. No politician is as progressive as they pretend. If they are, they are promptly taken care of. Ask the Kennedy's if I'm lying. We know this, so we should know better. Now in a year I might eat my words. Obama might pull some crazy stunt and maybe this country will change for the better. I doubt it though. The same people who fucked this country up still have their jobs. Even if no one else here does. Audacity of Hype. I wish I thought of that.