July 27, 2001

Napster Bad, Metallica Good?

Maybe Napster is killing music after all.

Not in the RIAA sense of screwing thousands of starving musicians out of publishing revenue that is rightfully theirs. Hell, I've played on quite a few records in my day, and I've never seen one red cent from publishing.

No, I would posit that Napster is killing music simply because it's just too much of a good thing.

Sure, at first an endless supply of free music sounds like a good thing. I can download something I've heard about, or never heard about, swish it around, and spit it out if it's wack. If it's good, I add it to my folder of more than 3,500 other wonderful mp3s. (I'd have more, but my 13GB hard drive is pretty much maxed out.)

So my Winamp is on endless shuffle, and I can listen for a whole week at work and never hear the same song twice. Groovy. But as time goes on, I start to wonder, "Is this all there is? Am I missing something? Is there something out there that I haven't heard?"

And like the actor or rock star or politician who has easy access to every sexual aberration, I've become bored of the plain vanilla. I feel compelled to seek out new, strange sensations, musical perversions I never would have considered before Napster. Like Fantomas or Dillinger Escape Plan. These bands are like musical paraphilias, the aural equivalent of frotteurism. These are the kinds of bands you want to sleep with, but no way are you bringing them home to meet your parents.

Napster is to music what the birth-control pill was to sex: We can now listen without responsibility. If I'm actually paying for this stuff, all of the sudden I'm a helluva lot more selective. But with free music, like free love, I'll slip it to the fat girl in the corner without thinking twice.

Napster may be in its death throes now, but the damage has been done. I've already got every Elvis Costello and Burt Bacarach demo there is, as well as all the really cheezy emo-pop I wouldn't be caught dead walking up to the counter to purchase. God forbid I should have to start cruising mp3.com for my fix.

Oh, and the Metallica thing in the title? That was just a gag. They suck too.

July 26, 2001

They're all gonna laugh at you

Besides sounding like the guy from Human League, Jesse Hartman of Laptop writes some damn good songs of spite. Whether it's "I'm Not The Reason (You're Screwed Up)" or "I'm So Happy You Failed", he's pretty much a dickhead. And I like that in a rock star. Aside from the anger, his songs are catchy as hell and Laptop's new album, "Opening Credits" is a nice diversion from rest of the current indie scene.

But the aforementioned Human League factor does play in - and if that synth-pop, pseudo-Euro sound ain't your bag, wait it out a few plays and he'll find a way to infect you.

July 25, 2001

Let rockers sleep on you floor

A few weeks ago I went to see Nada Surf. It turned out to be a great geek rock night. Nada Surf were out this way with Ultimate Fakebook, and Sheila Divine. I have been a UFB fan for a long time and it was great to see them again. Guitarist and lead singer Bill McShane told me that their label Sony 550 went bust and bought out their 2 album contract, so while they are still looking for a new label they felt like they made out like bandits. They are due to cut a split EP with fellow Kansas residents, Reggie and the Full Effect. Reggie are another Get Up Kids side project. UFB previewed a few of their new tracks for the EP, most of which had a more, dare I say it, 'emo' quality. It sounded great.

Sheila Divine were the surprise act of the night. Lead singer, Aaron Perrino, sounded like he was channeling Bono on most tracks. Rockin'. He also had a very strained expression on his face. Like a little kid that had too many sausages. I couldn't help laughing, sorry Aaron.

Nada Surf, if you haven't heard them since their song Popular was... well... popular, have a more recent album that sounds incredible live, The Proximity Effect. They are already back in the studio recording songs for a new album and getting reading for a national tour shortly. I would definitely try to catch the show. Opening for them will be SoCal bands Ozma, and Rilo Kiley. RK sound a bit like Liz Phair meets Nada Surf, but don't take my word for it. Download Rilo Kiley's Science Vs. Romance and Wires and Waves , then check the tour schedule and offer them your couch if you are in a geographical position to do so.

July 22, 2001

Up what?

While running the new Uplister WinAmp plug-in I was happy to find a great source of new music. The plug-in can 'see' what music you are currently playing and pulls up similar playlists created using Uplister. The genius here is that you find new music by browsing the lists and bio information for the creators. Currently, I am infatuated with lists created by Vanderbilt University college radio dj, Courtney (aka Coco ). Hopefully the fun won't end in September when Uplister plans to launch a 'paid subscription' service.

July 20, 2001

Cover your ear holes

I can't believe I have been so lax in reporting on this atrocity for so long. I thought if I didn't talk about them they might just go away. I am talking about this summers Lit , Sum 41. Like all present (and future) one hit wonders they have one decent song that is being played to death on rock radio, 'Fat Lip'. I will give them that much but that's where it ends.

I watched them open a show a few months ago. They were doing their best 'rock star impression'. They were acting like it was 1987 and that Bret Michaels was going to snort coke off strippers with them after the show. Lots of lame Queensryche and Yngwie Malmsteem intros, and mostly showboating guitar crap.

Now before we go any further, I love guitars in rock. I don't mind a metal lick or two, I have the new Tool album but this just sucked. I once saw Smashmouth perform almost all of Van Halen 1 at Bimbo's and I ate it up. It was well done. Sum41 just don't have the skills to pay the bills.

However, they do have have one hell of a PR/Marketing company working for them. If this is the first time you are hearing of them then you have already been covering not only your ear holes but your eyes as well. Currently they are number one on MTV's TRL, have a live televised concert being promoted on MTV, and are available in all Target stores. Now just as a test ask your local Target store if they have the latest Tahiti 80 album or Nada Surf. I am sure they will turn you away for asking for bands with talent. It's a hell of a time to be a rock star.

July 19, 2001

File under 'Ass'

I'm not sure what's better - this new 'song' featuring Eminem's mom, Debbie Mathers, as she pleads to her son for some sort of reconciliation, or the accompanying flash movie.

It's good to know that if you look hard enough, there's always enough suck in the world to balance things out.

July 16, 2001

I love a good musician inside joke lyric

'Baby girl, I know I've been going through a lot of changes lately;
but if I don't the music stays in the same key.'

Download See If you Swim by Self to hear it for yourself. Hit the label site for even more Self B-sides in MP3. One of the best bands your not listening to yet.

July 13, 2001

Lint in your ice cream

Carl 'Suck' Steadman weighs in on crappy MP3 recordings..

'..how can musicians allow 64kbps recordings to be released on the net as "preview" tracks (which, presumably, don't threaten record sales due to their low fidelity)? Yes, they "work" inasmuch that as a consumer you can judge whether you'll like the CD or not. But it's not as if your local Haagen-Dazs franchisee mixes in a little lint...' [read the entire comment]

July 11, 2001

What's the deal, Kelley?

The Breeders will be playing their first ‘real’ show in years at Chicago’s Congress Theater (2135 N. Milwaukee Avenue) on July 14th Other bands confirmed are Low and The Butcher Shop Quartet who will be performing Stravinski's Rite Of Spring. Doors open 5pm.

It’s an all ages show. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased in person from Reckless Records (cash only 773-235-3727 or 773- 404-5080), online from Schubas Tavern (credit card, $2 service charge), or via money order by emailing your request to breederstickets at hotmail.com

July 10, 2001

Believe the Hype

I didn't want to believe it. After reading about The Strokes in NME every week for the past month, I just didn't want to jump on the musical band wagon and hail this fab five as the 'best thing to come out of New York City in the last thirty years'. Then I listened to their first EP, 'The Modern Age' (released in the UK on Rough Trade Records and XL Recordings/Beggars Group in the U.S.) and I became one of the many newly converted. To put it simply (I don't want to add too much more hype), "The Strokes ROCK!!"

Now you can believe it. Returning to the U.S. from sell-out tours in the UK, Europe, and Australia, The Strokes will grace the West Coast with five dates in late July and early August. For their sold-out London gig on June 28th, some fans paid scalpers up to $175 a ticket! Don't go broke- buy your tickets now and let The Strokes remind you what rock 'n' roll is all about!

  • July 31 The Casbah, San Diego, CA
  • August 3 The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
  • August 7 Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
  • August 10 Roseland Grill, Portland, OR
  • August 11 Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA

Look for The Strokes' debut full-length album, 'Is This It' in U.S. stores September 25th on RCA Records.

July 05, 2001

This Ain't No Hat Music

Well, I've been so busy following Jason's edict that I haven't had time to post! Apologies.

I opted to skip the Warped Tour in favor of seeing the Derailers at Slim's this past Saturday. If you're not hip to their Austin-by-way-of-Bakersfield pure country sound, you must check out the Derailers at your first opportunity. They are impeccable showmen, amazing musicians and songwriters, and gracious human beings. Their Buck Owens-inspired sound sets them far apart from their New Country brethren, although they did recently take home the Best Independent Video award from CMT for "The Right Place."

Their next release (and their first on Sony Music Nashville), "Here Come The Derailers," has a tentative release date of August 14th. So check out the album, and don't miss the Derailers when they come to a honky-tonk near you. That way, when they're in the Country Music Hall of Fame, you can say you saw 'em way back when. ...