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Friday, November 29, 2002
Restate My Assumptions
A hugely entertaining, insightful blog that I notice is not in our links. I'm sure I stumbled upon this searching for something on Marcello Carlin's almost peerless blog, The Church of Me which, sad to see, does not have its archive up at the moment. (Sad, in particular, because this holiday weekend I finally have time to give it the attention it deserves.) Anyway, Dan Emerson is the name of the fellow who runs this post's titular blog and he has a fresh, honest writing style -- and loves Dexy's Midnight Runners, to boot -- so you guys should check him out.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Random thought (and my first blog entry)
Did you ever completely change your opinion of a band after seeing them live? I've been listening to Explosions in the Sky a lot lately, and it occurs to me that before I saw them in concert, I had completely dismissed them as somewhat bland GYBE!/Mogwai rip-offs who brought nothing original to the table. And well, in a way I guess they sort of are like that. But I've been enjoying their album a lot anyway, and I'm wondering if it's maybe just because of the incredibly intense and passionate show they put on, or if I've just given it a chance to sink in.
Either way, the rumors are true: they're fantastic live, and they ain't bad on record either.
Monday, November 25, 2002
A few months ago (well, maybe many months ago), I posted a little thought on Obie Trice, Eminem's new protege (after Royce da 5'9" and D-12 -- man, he really wants his true hip-hop credibility from Black America, doesn't he?)... and I just wanted to mention how his new song is totally and amazingly bitching. It features the small little sample from "Without Me"... and I wanted to recommend it to you guys. The 8 Mile soundtrack itself isn't bad, and I hear good things about the movie, too....
Well, off to go listen to Black Moon. Oh yeah. Black Moon.
"The Tide Is High"
Attn: Nick and Todd. The Blondie version is also a cover. (maybe that's not news to Nick.) Original was by rocksteady group the Paragons. Two of them are ace and one is not. No points for guessing which is the odd one out!
Thx, Todd, for reminding me that I need to do my own FT Focus Group Ballot.
RE: OKGo....I love it when reviewers disagree!
Makes for such juicy discussion!
Because, I happen to fully and greatly approve of the Quirky Jerky Boys from Chicago!
The anthemic and MTV-ready "Get Over It" ingeniously plays up on the popular big arena sound, mixed with the high energy delivery of currently hot bands like the Hives, Strokes, etc....but, deeper within the disc, OKGo goes for camp and fun..and a little bit of something not so ordinary...On Purpose.What's wrong with that?
I've seen a couple of their live shows and the audience completely gets it.Kulash is a madman on stage, flailing about singing beyond his range, and having a hell of a time giving the people what they want. He sings with a sincere, tongue-in-cheek modality that keeps you guessing...
does he mean what he says?
does he say what he means?
Who knows? Who cares?
I've seen the guys use a cowbell and switch instruments with comical results..hell, it's only rock n roll..why not have fun with it?
Also, I've had the awesome opportunity to interview Kulash recently. In person, he is the most sincere, open, and upfront person you'd ever meet.Yeah, the man is a bit too smart for his own good and turns even the simplest question into a full-fledged philosophical debate--with himself, no less!
He talks too much (self admitted) and thinks too much..so, I'm guessing, this goes a long way towards explaining why the music of OKGo is filled with paradoxes.
Because, Kulash will be the first one to admit that even he doesn't know what it all means...it's all good fun.
From a purely musical standpoint, the band is well aware of their 'sound'. They 'intend' to sound like Queen, and Adam Ant and Cheap Trick. A band that covers Toto's "Hold The Line" and 'means it' understands full well that they are going to be labeled quirky and irreverent. It's all fun.It's all good.
The first version of their debut came off as too artsy..too smart, so the band intentionally dumbed it down..so the story goes. Good choice, bad choice?...Hard to say.
But, OKGo has talent to burn and once they're ready and secure enough to show it, they will.
For now, they're having a helluva blast just playing around.
Saturday, November 23, 2002
With the recent wave of "indie retro" bands slowly losing fuel (The Strokes, Hives, et al.), I find myself harkening back to the days of yore in 2000. One certain retro-styled group, Air, caught my attention with the Virgin Suicides score. What a fantastic album. Sly, understated, and often creepy, this Bacharach-lite music brings an element to pop music that seems to be MIA. It expands on his obvious symphonic and piano elements, but adds distinct minor key organ tones, trippy spaced-out drums, and at times, some wailin' guitar solos. It's more than background music, more than makeout music, it's introspective, plaintative, and the, well "airy" feel makes for a satisfying listening experience. And besides, that totally bitchin' video for "Playground Love" has a singing piece of gum - perfect for the swank mood. I know everyone loves Moon Safari (rightfully so), but what does everyone think of this almost completely instrumental album?
Friday, November 22, 2002
Us Against Them
Going through links today and I noticed that this site is back in order. Cool. Also added some random stuff, the most exciting thing obviously being Simon Reynold's blog entitled Blissblog.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
I don't know if the news has reached America yet, but last night in germany Michael Jackson waved a baby out of a hotel window by it's neck in front of thousands of fans. Uri Geller reckons Jacko is a good parent because he wants to "bring his kids to Exeter." The rest of the world thinks Jacko is a loon 'cos he waved a baby (his baby?!) out of a window over a balcony. By its NECK.
The world is so mad it hurts.
From the point of view of an English person who is the same age as Mr Skinner and who has lived (albeit for only three years) in the post-industrial pre-culture that is the English midlands (Mr Skinner being, I believe, from Birmingham), I can safely say that I have been in those pubs and clubs and kebab shops that he talks of. Maybe not the same precise ones, but wherever you are geographically in this spiritually-impotent youth-culture, you have those experiences, great nights that are unplanned and involve just a few mates mates round a table with some beer, big nights out that end in bathos and near-disaster, situations where you feel threatened, situations where you feel threatening, days on end when you don't wanna do anything, caught in relationships you don't know if you wanna be in, but you don't wanna be out of either. Skinner's gift is taking those moments and capturing them near-perfectly in terms of his lyrics, and his unsentimental and un-whining delivery add a sense of regret and poignancy that, say, Coldplay, are striving for really fucking hard, but don't get because they're too busy being 'sensitive' and so on, while Skinner knows full well that sometimes he doesn't want to 'love' a woman or be good to her, sometimes he just wants to fuck her and leave, and he knows full well that he's fallible and male and weak and shitty and his head will turn when a pretty girl goes by even if he's desperately in love with someone at that very moment. Plus he's done it all with great arrangements and tunes which are, and this is THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT, very enjoyable.
Roxanne, I probably won't be reviewing it, as Scott has already done so for the site.
Here's the link for his take on it. After you've read that, I have this to add (because I agree a lot with what Scott says about the album:
For lack of a better analogy right now, I'd have to compare Mr. Skinner to a young Bob Dylan. This is a guy taking the constraints of a certain genre, tilting them on their head and beginnning to craft into this own image. I'd have to say that being American it may have taken me longer to get into this album because of the inherent references to all things English here. But when it hit- it hit. Skinner talks about being bored and lazy and playing Playstation and then he talks about missing his girlfriend because he couldn't be arsed to remember when they were going to meet or arsed to get up and go. This is the type of stuff that, at 20 years old, I'm sure any kid can relate to (I'm so bored/I have so much to do duality of adolescence). What's obviously great besides the authentic lyrics is that here is a truly British MC- not one aping off stylistically or subject wise from Americans, which has been the big problem with English hip hop, supposedly. I'm guessing a lot of critics feel that this album is going to be a door opener for a whole lot of British MC's to throw their hat in the game and establish a cultural and national identity- just like the American New York rappers did back in the day when their rhymes were very much involved with the politics and racism of the time.
If you're still unconvinced, maybe this message board thread will help. It's pretty obvious judging by the responses that you're not alone. I think it may be a case of critically acclaimed, publicly ignored, especially in the United States where there would seem to be little to no market for an authentic British rapper.
Side note: I helped push Original Pirate Material to number one at my college radio station two weeks running. Hooray (?)
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Todd...You're listening to The Streets...Original Pirate Material....
will you be reviewing it, or can you just blog us
and let us know what you REALLY think?
I've been hearing reactions that range from
'this is really great stuff',
to 'this crap is redundant and uninspired'...
I'm really really interested to know YOUR take.
Personally, I listened to it a few times
and I'm not much impressed.
I dig the house/underground garage beats,...
some of the phrasing
and rap cadence smacks with moments of nuance
(the dude's british, afterall!),
but on the whole, it ain't the greatest....
Maybe I'm missing the point....?
Monday, November 18, 2002
Inspired by Chris' Diary article, I've decided to post this extract from a short story I wrote a couple of years ago while addled with drink and drugs at university. It's about a bloke who can fly, but this particular piece deals with working in a record shop and being a miserable misanthropic romantic fool.
For more self-indulgent toss, see www.lushalcoholsaint.co.uk
I thank you...
--------I used to harbour vague ambitions of one day being a singer songwriter, someone in that sensitive, intriguing tradition, Nick Drake, Neil Young, even Bowie, I suppose, through to more modern artists like Jeff Buckley. However, not being blessed with any discernible vocal talent beyond a deep and rather erratic rumble of a voice (to be sensitive you need to be able to do falsetto, definitely), and despite various attempts to play guitar, I'd never even been able to pick up even the rudiments of playing a tune, so I guess that dream's gone west. I am good at listening to music, though. Very good. And I am, very literally, selling records now. They're just not mine.
--------But music doesn't really mean as much to me now as it used to. I thought I'd never, ever say that. I'm quite hurt that I've admitted it, actually, because for a long time music was what made me feel better about things. But I can't sit around waiting for people to release records just so that I can carry on being alive. I'm not going to find revelation in a record anymore, and I'm not sure that I ever did when I was a teenager, because what I think of as revelation these days is far different to what I used to think it was.
--------People hand me a CD, and it's always CDs, noone buys vinyl these days except DJs and tapes have all but died out, and I scan the barcode. I swipe the electronic tag to neutralise it, I say £15.99 please, I take their money, I give them change, I send them on their way, knowing that they're convinced that what they've just shelled out on is going to change their world. And also knowing that it probably won't, certainly not in the long term.
--------I'm tempted, quite often, to tell people what I think of what they're buying, but something (decency, maybe?) always, without fucking fail, stops me from opening my mouth. Even though, it really is against my better judgement.
--------This band is talentless, their tunes are awful.
--------This record's badly produced and it sounds like shit.
--------These pretty chancers are just recycling Swedish pop from before you were born, little girl, and by getting to Number One they're debasing and devaluing our culture.
--------Pete fucking Waterman wants you to buy this record and he's a git so don't.
--------And it's crap too.
--------The lyricist here doesn't ever deal with real human emotions, so the chances are that by listening to his pseudo-intellectual statements, you'll start to become very uncomfortable with your own feelings and push them away from yourself, until you end up a hollow wreck of a human and unable to communicate meaningfully.
--------Jazz should be listened to live, for fuck's sake.
--------He's an actor, and not a very good one at that. What makes you think he can sing?
--------Their first album was ace, but by buying their fourth you're just funding the singer's ridiculous cocaine habit and delicate ego.
--------You think this record will change your life, but it won't, you'll just take drugs while listening to it and convince yourself that you'll achieve something tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes, you lazy piece of indulgent shit.
--------These people like to make you think they're sincere and revolutionary, but their bosses at Sony sell guns to children in Ghana and therefore this band are responsible for people dying, and you're buying their fucking record off me, so that makes us responsible too, how dare you put me in this situation, you black-nail-varnish wearing freak? You know nothing.
--------Those last two I really, really have to stop myself from saying to people almost every day. Why? Because the people I want to say it too think they know better. They think they're somehow not a part of all the nasty shit that goes on in the world, but if they knew that they were funding it… Well, they'd wish they could fly away, I suppose. One day I'll tell one of them the truth. Well, what I think is the truth, anyway. In the meantime…
--------I'd like to say, It dawns on me, but dawn is a hopeful, new beginning and what I'm realising right now isn't hopeful, new, or positive in any way. But it's still there, I'm still realising it.
--------I am partially responsible for the perpetuation of evil and exploitation and ignorance and hatred in the world.
--------And I'm only getting paid £5 a fucking hour to live with this knowledge.
--------Something's wrong somewhere down the line.
--------Is it any wonder that I don't listen to music much anymore?
--------But I still think and feel, somewhere deep in the back of my head and the bottom of my heart, that if I could only conquer the guitar and the keyboard (beyond my childhood excellence at chopsticks) and somehow stretch my larynx, that I could find the magic chord, the words that reveal the truth, and I could change the world into a better place with just one song.
--------Never gonna happen.
--------But, although I'm never gonna change the world with music, I can still fly, and that's a pretty fucking big achievement, really. If I could teach the world to fly, rather than sing, would that make it a better place?
--------After all, if I can fly, why the hell shouldn't other people to be able to? Why aren't other people flying already?
--------That thought's never crossed my mind before. Strange. I've never, ever considered that anyone else on this planet might be able to flap his or her arms and float away, swooping on the breeze. Maybe some people do it all the time, but just keep hush about it because of what might happen if non-flyers found out? What if everyone else in the world can fly, and they've tried to keep it a secret from me because they don't think I deserve to fly, and I just discovered it by fluke? Or, even worse, what if I was right to think that noone else can fly at all, and I'm the only one, and what if one day they do find out and try to stop me?
--------What if I really am all alone in this thing, not just through my own choice by flying well away from people and towns, but because noone else can or will ever be able to fly?
--------What if I'm just dreaming the whole damn thing?
--------I scan another CD single by some boy-band who look like they've been genetically spliced from Take That's faeces, and I hand it back to the young girl, who desperately wants to be much older than she is, in a plastic bag that won't decompose until her great-great-grandchildren are dying of atmospherically induced asthma and cancers caused by genetically modified foods as they reach 200 years of age. Buying this record won't make these computer-enhanced monkeys love you or give you babies so you can get a council flat, I think. They don't even know you exist, and they don't care. Just feed their bosses your pocket money.
-------- "It won't make you happy," I say, but she's gone before she can be infected by my cynicism. My head hurts and I want to go home.
Friday, November 15, 2002
Tatu- Not Gonna Get Us
Absolutely incredible. This song races through and reminds me a lot of the Run Lola Run songs featuring Franka Potente. The best part about this song is the chorus when the song's production gets too thick and gooey.
The lead singer reverts back to her mother tongue, undoubtedly UNABLE to find the words in English for her passion for her lover.
Reminds me vaguely of a bad sitcom where the girl can't remember the name of the guy she is currently dating, so i the throes of abandon she reverts back to her old lover's name.
Obviously one of the top ten singles of the year for me. I'm still not going to forget "Dirrty" though!
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Whoa. Looks like someone has been reading their Lester Bangs books. ;)
In any case, Sam insisted I listen to the aforementioned track and, yes, indeed, it's fantastic.
Welcome to the staff, Sam.
Ah, my very first "blog" as a member of the Stylus crew. Better make this bad-ass and simultaneously indierific.
Dudes, you want to know something awesome? The Essex Four... or actually, Three... are back, and they've got a new anonymous 7" passed to XFM and BBC1. Blur are back from the brink, without Graham Coxon, and in this new Big Willie Orbit-produced track (that may or may not be on the new album), have reentered another stage of bold reinvention - it's a long way from "End of a Century" my friends.
Wanna know where to hear this? This should be the place to go, and at 19:09:00, Steve Lamacq introduces something to blow your mind.
You want minimalist techno? You want throbbing drum beats, a waning synth drone, guitar gurgles and an understated Albarn vocal? half-assed politics? You want a sound unlike anything ever from Blur? Motherfuckers, you're at the right place. After the harsh verse, Albarn comes in with a sweeping vocal - "Don't Bomb When You're The Bomb" is the title of this record, and when he repeats this over a thumpin' Alex James bass and a trippy Rowntree drumbeat, you've got a renewed sense of hope for this band.
Here's to hoping the "Fatboy Sessions" are half as good as this bugger from Orbit (the producer of the last album, 13) - and that Blur continues along this challenging and exciting road on the upcoming record. And that they tour America. Please tour America, buds.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
"Hey Ma" makes me want to piss my pants.
It's been about 8 years since I knew all the words to a non Wu-Tang or Nas song, and this is it.
So good. The piano.. and the lyrics are funny and witty, it's the perfect summer song (at least it was, you know, during the summer)..
I shouldn't like Cam'ron, but I do, I really do. When I reviewed his album, that song made me retch, but it is a grower. The chorus is still kinda iffy, but man, how can you argue with "Nah, I'm a changed man / Look at the range, man / I got a whole new game plan / She looked and said 'That's nothing but game, Cam' / She was right, she was up in the range, man / Dropped her off now I'm flipping the cell, I had to call up L / 'Yo L?' (What up?)' 'I hit' (What else?) 'Plus dome' (Say word?) And we got it on tonnnnnnnnniggggggggght"... ah man.. it's no Bonnie and Clyde '03, but it's close...
Now, off to listen to "The Blueprint 2" and hopefully contain my joy.. 'cause it's so god damn good.
Friday, November 08, 2002
Well..I was at the Sun show (in NYC during CMJ)...and it put me to sleep, sorry to say. The same goes for Happy..he was meek, off-key, and his solo act (a guitar and a keyboard) left a lot to be desired....
Call me biased, but I dug the shit-hell outta WATERSHED! Watershed now features Mark Borror (of that perennial Columbus pop-punk trio, TWIN CAM) on swung-down-low-to-the-ankles guitar....and, though they sound a bit too much like Offspring, (but with better harmony), they belt it out mighty mighty!
I just wondered if perhaps NYC had an extradition treaty with Columbus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Sunday, November 03, 2002
Columbus Music Explosion
Amazingly, I have to say that all four of the Columbus crew are into music that is not conducive to figuring out the deep underground swells of Columbus music. We're all into music that seems like it'll nevah make the big time. I do, however, have it on good authority that a group name the Sun should be making a pretty big noise in the indie community soon whenever their album comes out. I think a few years ago there was a great scene for Columbus rawk music but it sort of died down for a while. In short, girl, I have no idea! What were Happy Chichester and Watershed like?
Reason #138 that Dirrty is the Bestest!
It sounds like absolutely nothing else on the record at all.
Oh, hey...got a question I want to throw out there: is there FINALLY a Columbus, Ohio music explosion happening?
Columbus has not been known as a hot-bed for the most trend-setting, cutting-edge music as it is town begrudged for catering to mostly cover bands ("Play FREEBIRD!!").
But, during the past few weeks here in my great City, I have witnessed one too many Columbus/Cleveland area bands taking the New York City stage...Happy Chichester and WATERSHED stand out...and, I'm just wonderin--
When did we let the Columbus dogs out?????
CMJ...Hey Todd....didn't know you were there too!
I did the CMJ craze as well...and I'm still crazed!
I, for one, steered clear of the panels because in my book, it's all about the music.
I kept my bopping-to-the-beat head down in the Village and on the Lower East Side, checking out bands like New Jersey's Locket (pseudo punk, but mostly whining), and thoroughly enjoyed Arizona's Before Braille (the guys were careening off the walls!).
My chief complaint??...being locked out of venues because CMJ in all its twisted wisdom limited admission for badge holders. One would figure, if I can go to the CMJ website and create an online itinerary, that my CHOICES would somehow be logged in and registered and I would be assured admission.
If the event was already beyond CMJ quota, I should/would be informed instantly, before I made plans!
Be that as it may, I can't fault the bands...they did their jobs and I had a hella good time. I'm still slightly hung-over!
Catch ya next time, CMJ...no matter how screwed up a corporatized-no-longer-grass-roots event you are, you can't keep me away from the MUSIC!
CMJ and Me, Part Three
Due to idiotic scheduling on my part (you do see the trend of self effacing comments and bile that is sputed towards artists that could just as easily be put back on myself, I hope), Friday was due to my last day at CMJ. I needed to get back to school so I could write this today...er... Last night at home was much better than anything I could have done in New York, anyway, I DIGRESS.
I skipped the panels this day so that I wouldn't fall asleep at any shows, although I did miss the one that I was hoping to go see: "Sample & Hold – Is Electronica Stuck in a Loop?" just because I wanted to meet the Warp Records and Carpark Records guy. I would've said "OH MY GOD! I like Richard D. James becuase he is so scruffy, but still makes the bomb beatsWOOOO!" and "Marumari may be married, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't love meWOOOO!" Instead I watched Henry Fool at my friend's apartment and finally met his girlfriend that I had been sleeping in the same apartment with, but never talking to since we had completely different schedules. The movie was nice, she was nicer- but I promptly went out because I wanted to check out the WMFU record fair.
It was at this non-CMJ sponsored event that the best thing happened to me, probably, all week(end) (isn't that always how it is?). I was scouring the racks, wasting as much time as possible, realizing that I could probably buy one thing and one thing only and it was probably a CD, since I have both of my turntables back at my home away from college, that I saw some John Fahey CD's. My interest piqued a bit and I looked further at the CD's and saw a ton of Sonic Youth side projects and other assorted avant rock stuff, as well as some Jim O'Rourke CD's. I was amazed and as I looked up I saw a familiar green cardigan from press photos and a guy talking about the beauty of one of Led Zeppelin's records (I forget which, leave me alone) and I realized it was Jim O'Rourke. I said, "Hey, uh...are you Jim O'Rourke?" He was looking away and the guy next to him seem bemused by the question and wouldn't answer. I repeated myself and he replied, "Um, I don't know, are you going to hit me?" I laughed a bit and then said, "No, um, I really liked your last record, uh...Insignificance?" He said "Thanks" and then I said "uh...bye?" and then I walked away, bought Messtheitics Vol. 1 and walked out.
After that I went over to see the Owen show, which was 21+, so I got locked out of that. Thanks Polyvinyl! Undeterred, I went and ate at a Wendy's and watched the American Bandstand 50th Birthday Celebration or something or other and it was really cool because a lot of people really seem to care about Alanis Morrisette still. Who woulda thunk? I enjoyed, much more, the cut aways to the audience rather than the performance itself, as the audience was seen swaying in their seats and clapping along wildly to the song. I got vaguely depressed as I read the free magazines that the CMJ people had allowed us to take and decided to give up writing about music forever (you see how long that lasted). Taking my depression and my belongings I went to see the Flower Booking Agency Showcase!
This meant Shiner, Oxes, and Har Mar Superstar. Shiner on record isn't that amazing, but their live show was incredibly tight and forceful. If you get a chance, I highly reccomend seeing them, especially for their cover version of MBV's "Soon". Next up was Oxes. Indeed, they broke out the boxes, wireless guitars, faux guitar god faces, and ultra serious artist faces throughout their set. It was both a good time and a fun time. I was expecting them to be a bit too complex or a bit too ironic and "haha we are playing instruments just like these other people who suck/we really like to appear cool" but they didn't come off that badly at all. Their cover song was the beginning of "Last Nite" by the Strokes, but it quickly devolved into some heavy rock. Very good stuff, overall. Lastly, we had Har Mar Superstar. My notes read: "less tan Ron Jeremy". His rhymes were all about sex, his beats were frequently little to be noticed (although some were incredibly hot), and his costume got less and less as the show went on. I found out later that night that this guy who looks like he is 35 is actually in the neighborhood of 24. Whatever. It was fun for a few songs, but his refrain of "I'm the fucking best, give it up" at the end of each song only seemed to get more applause from the crowd because he was that much closer to leaving the stage. A lot of people seemed to be into it, though. I hope they support him by buying his album.
I then went to my friend's apartment and slept till the next morning and took a cab and came on home. All in all, an average fest that maybe could have been better if I had stayed on Saturday night, but I'm not crying about it. And if you missed the whole thing, neither should you.
CMJ and Me, Part Two
Day Two was punctuated by me wanted to punch the people at the CMJ panels in the face. Let it be said that I somehow stumbled into the Internetrelated panels, which unbeknownst to me, were led by people who talked about the new law regarding webcasting radio which makes it prohibitive to smaller stations with small budgets from running their business. The conclusion drawn by this first panel was: there needs to be a distinction between small, large, and non-profit webcasters, rather than everyone paying the same royalities to artists for webcasting on the internet. THANKS GUYS. Now, do something about it. And make sure I don't have to do any work to make it happen. The second panel was by far the more boring one. It was represented by people who were in the business of offering up music for free and for pay on the internet. The guy who runs Kazaa and another guy who helps run Listen.com's Rhapsody program, which is a subscription based service. Those two were the higlights, except for the guy who worked at AOL. Note to that guy: The reason you are successful is because you have lots of money behind you. Not because you are doing anything innovative. In any case, the Kazaa guy and Rhapsody guy started to get into the semantics of their different positions and the Kazaa guy kind of looked like an idiot. (But he made mention that he is being sued by "the most powerful 29 corporations in the world" multiple times!). By the end I wanted to punch them all in the face. Their problem is that they believe that Kazaa and Soulseek and Audiogalaxy and Napster will go away. It's been four years now. "Criminals", if that's how you want to term them, are always going to stay ahead of the game. Especially when other criminals are going to make it easy to be criminals. The final panel was called "Check Your Head - The Music Consumer Focus Group". It was composed of people picked by CMJ to be average joe's and jane's/music consumers. They turned out to be picked by people at CMJ. Their make up consisted largely of musicians or people who were involved in the music industry somehow. I left early.
After going to that I went out to New York and went around to music stores again. It seems like there is little to do in New York that doesn't cost money, except for window shopping. I went into the other Virgin Megastore and listened to the little booths they have for the top 40 and was disappointed to see someone listening to the Christina Aguilera album. This happened at Tower Records, as well, the previous day. I went downstairs and looked at the classical section and quietly bemoaned myself for having no basis for figuring out what to get. I quietly made calculations in my head about the probable costs of the next few days in regards to what I could/should buy. I decided that I couldn't be spending money on Ives or Penderecki right now, so I went over and read the NME until my friend was done with work. That rag is absolutely absurdly amazing. The captions to the pictures are the best part, of course, but the flashiness and hyprebole was through the roof. I think I read the word "explosive" and "mind-blowing" at least 10 times in less than 20 pages.
My friend gets out of work around 7, so I decided to go over and tell him my plans for the evening and stay in Manhattan. I did this and raced off to the Hammerstein Ballroom to see DJ Spooky and the Optometry Project. They started early, which I appreciated. Did I mention that nearly everyone's set at CMJ was about 35 minutes or less because of the amount of bands? The band (William Parker, Guillermo Brown, Matthew Shipp, a violinist, and DJ Spooky) played some selections from Optometry, DJ Spooky's latest. It was not neccesarily my cup of tea, but I could see the obvious proficiency of the acoustic instrument players. The turntables, on the other hand, were manned by someone I already have a negative feeling about- and they, perhaps because of that, did not deliver anything that added to the proceedings. But, as DJ Spooky mentioned several times in the evening, "it was 21st century jazz" and, well, I guess I'm just stuck in 1999. I'd take the rest of the group playing together any day. A very personal and potentially stupid aside: Spooky consistently lets us know that he was on the real and that this shit had been recorded with no one in the room at the same time. You know what? I DON'T CARE. I want it to sound good, challenging, interesting. And the more you say you are on the real, the less I believe it.
After this show, which wasn't as bad as I make it out to be, I went over to Irving Plaza to see Blonde Redhead. I forgot that !!!, Calexico, etc. were playing too and the place was insanely packed. The line outside was prohibitive and moving extremely slowly so I made my way towards the Knitting Factory to see Fog, and mybe the last half of Cex. Due to my incredible sense of direction I finally found myself at the Knitting Factory at the end of Fog's first song. This group, by the way, was probably the best group I saw while I was there. The lead singer rocked some turntables (a-ha, but tastefully, Mr. Miller) and the keyboard while running through a number of his songs on his self titled record. His between song banter featured a run through of a Cam'ron song and some slight bitching about a bad record review he received in the Village Voice. The final song, somewhat obscured by the loud talking at the bar, was a Hank Williams cover of a song detailing how wealth will never make you happy. I forget the name, but it was a beautiful ending to a great set. The second/final act that I saw at the Knitting Factory was Soviet. A hearty thank you goes out to the guy who nudged me and asked me if I was OK while sitting in the corner half falling asleep to their set. This isn't to say that they're bad, as I slept till 3 PM the next day, but it is to say that they didn't excite me in anyway. I would reccomend them if you want to hear an updated Depeche Mode minus the Mark Bell production.
Undaunted by the fact that I had nearly fallen asleep at the Knitting Factory, I made my way to CBGB to see Moneen, my emo guilty pleasure. Before that I sat through the Stereo which played amped up power pop. Cute stuff, but nothing that Ultimate Fakebook hasn't copied off Weezer hasn't copied off Cheap Trick before. They are pretty good at what they do, but if I had to sit through a record I would shoot myself in the head. I felt almost the same way about Moneen before seeing their show. Sitting through their record was hard, as they were very emotional, very hurt, aching with something, etc. all the time. Their show was very good, however, as they played very well, had great energy, and made me buy their record at the end. Their new songs, admittedly didn't sound like a huge change that I was hoping they would go in- search out more diverse directions like the first song on Theory of Harmonial Value, guys!- but it was a live setting and they didn't want me to think about it so I didn't.
I won't recount the problems I had figuring out how to get back to my friend's apartment in Brooklyn, but let's just say that Uptown and Downtown are two signifiers that need to be displayed much more prominently in the train stations in Mahattan. Jerks.
CMJ and Me
After getting into Laguardia in the middle of the day and registering at the Hilton, I had a bunch of time to kill. So, what's a boy to do all alone in Manhattan for the second time? That's right, I went to Other Music, Tower Music, Virgin Megastore, and McDonalds. I'm nothing if not a gloriously example of capitalism.
After hooking up with my friend at his work and dropping my stuff off in his apartment in Brooklyn, I went directly to the Jade Tree showcase to see Tim Kinsella in person for the first time. I was pretty excited, as I'd enjoyed greatly, the Joan of Arc work and didn't mind Owls at all. They turned in a pretty average performance, I thought. Nothing exciting or unbelievable. My notes on it, however, say "Tim Kinsella=Bobcat Goldthwait (?)". It looks like they were having a lot of fun playing, which I was surprised about- I guess all that math rock might sour the mood.
In any case, next up was Denali. Their performance wasn't phenomenal or anything, but the fact that their songs are very strongly emotional and visceral helped it out. The crescendos were crashing and the chord changes were sweeping, epic gestures. The most interesting portion, for someone who has already heard the record, was the fact that Keeley Davis was operating (what looked like) a CD player that added some nice atmospheric flourishes to the songs. This band, live, could kill someone not ready for what was about to occur. For better or worse, I was.
Next up was Strike Anywhere. Now, during this set I had a sort of existential hardcore crisis. I had to wonder to myself whether my Refused and Converge and Pg. 99 records really meant that I liked hardocre or whether I liked something completely different. What I mean, more specifically, is whether I enjoyed hardcore that wasn't, in fact, hardcore, but at the outer reaches- stuff that brought in outside influences more often than not. I would have to think that, all in all, that Strike Anywhere is great at what they do, which is straight up punk/hardcore music with a supposed vegan (?) edge. But what they do is utterly boring and useless to me. As Morrisey would say "Their music doesn't say anything to me about my life." Maybe ending that description with a quote by Morrisey says it all.
After that I made my first venture into the labyrinth of the New York Subway to head over to Brooklyn for, you guessed it, an electroclash DJ. The DJ in question was DJ Hell, who as my friend tells me, is moving more towards the industrial side of the spectrum to include some new sounds. I was tentatively excited to hear this new fangled electroclash thing in person. Before that, though, was Midwest Product who were probably the highlights of the evening for me. Their show blended electronic pulses and a guitar, drums, and a bass. Sounds bland, I know, but it had quite a bit of energy and even when the slower songs came on I was impressed by their ability to create a groove. The show was somewhat hampered, for me, by the fact that a gril on cocaine was dancing wildly next to where I was attempting to sit down and watch the band (yes, I am THAT guy) and a French couple that kept looking at me out of the corner of their collective eyes (yes, I saw you, what the hell did you want?). But, that was just personal preference.
Next up was the DJ (?) Kill Memory Crash. As my friend put it, "Some interesting tunes, but horrible mixing and...was that big beat?"
Finally DJ Hell got up the decks. He played a few tunes, we were suitably impressed and suitably tired. As my friend had to work in the morning, we adjourned for the evening. The ride home was punctuated by some nice Italo stuff that I forget the name of now.