Saturday, April 30, 2005
For the 2nd night in a row, I went to the Talking Head on Friday, this time to see the Oranges Band and Travis Morrison. The last time I saw Travis a couple months ago I was pretty impressed by how quickly he had put together a new lineup for his backing band and pretty much a whole new set of material. He was once again playing with this new band, apparently called the 'Travis Morrison Hellfighters', and while I wasn't as bowled over as I was the other time, they were still pretty good. Mostly new songs, but they closed with the awesome hidden track from Travistan, whatever that's called. He also said that they're recording the new album in July, and that it will be called either Star Sapphire or Go Fuck Yourself, or Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

The Oranges Band have been a staple of the Baltimore scene the past few years, and the singer, Roman Kuebler, is one of the owners of the Talking Head. Their 2nd album is coming out on Lookout! in June and they played a lot of new stuff. The last time I saw them was a couple years ago so I only knew the older stuff but it was still a fun show. Pretty much all their songs, regardless of tempo, have the same steady, easygoing chug, but a certain handful have simply monstrous hooks. The new songs sounded a little more varied, and in that respect were promising.

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Friday, April 29, 2005
On Thursday I went to the Talking Head to see a Baltimore band called Karmella's Game. I first saw them about 6 months ago, opening for Travis Morrison (who, as it happens, is playing there on Friday). I was pretty impressed with them at that show, but it wasn't until about a week later that I realized that the lead singer of the band was a friend of a friend that I'd met once or twice about 3 years ago. So when I went to see them again the other night, I said hi to her after the show and told her that her band kicks ass. Because they do. Karmella's Game play synth rock but not at all the kind that's in vogue right now. In fact they're pretty dorky. They even wear matching outfits that kind of look like a private school uniform with ties and sweaters and everything. Their songs are catchy as hell and full of climaxes and breakdowns, but seem to have linear structures full of non-repeating sections, it's actually kind of proggy. And all their synth lines sound like the epic melodies in the background music of, like, old Mega Man games. And there's more than a little emo in their throaty harmonies. But it's all done with so much ridiculous energy and power, constant punching the air and clapping in the air and pointing in the air during the cool parts, and there are a lot of cool parts. Their one EP is out of print right now, but they were giving away burned copies at the show, which I got one of, and I think they've got a full-length on the way. Two of the other three bands were also local, and the other one was The Reputation from Chicago. Apparently they're on Lookout! Records, and they were pretty good too. In the context of the bill, they were kind of a palate cleanser simply by being clearly a few years older than anyone in the other bands. So unlike the other bands, their garden variety indie didn't have any traces of emo in it, which was kind of refreshing. Overall, it was a pretty good show, though, and it was kind of nice to see a bill where 3 of the 4 bands are female-fronted.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Here's something to read while you're waiting for a chance to see We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen: some great D. Boon anecdotes from Tom Troccoli. And check here to see if there's going to be any screenings of the movie near you. May 2 at the Black Cat! I'm so there.

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Monday, April 25, 2005
My cousin Matt, who's currently in Beijing for a semester abroad, is blogging in China. When I last saw him around Christmas I was pretty impressed with the fact that he could speak Chinese, although I'm of course in no position to evaluate his accent or accuracy or anything.

In other familial blogging news, the new look here at Narrowcast comes courtesy of my brother Zac. Nothing drastic, I was always happy with the color scheme and bare bones layout, but it's nice to get something tailor made to replace the generic template I'd been using for the past 6 months. Actually, exactly 6 months as of yesterday. Wow. And a year coming up for Gov't Names.


Sunday, April 24, 2005
Lake Trout are a band from Baltimore that I've seen at least a dozen times over the past 6 years, one of my favorite live bands. They're not very hip to like around here, I don't think, stemming from the fact that they were identified early on as a jam band, although they seem to have spent most of their existence shying away from that categorization. There's a lot of improv in their live shows but it's mostly repetitive, loop-y playing, not a lot of solos or real 'jamming', so to speak. Around the time I started seeing them their drummer was heavy into playing drum'n'bass style, which he's pretty amazing at, and being a drummer I've always been pretty hyped about the idea of playing those kinds of fast, skittery beats on real drums (I've also seen them do some pretty impressive Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin covers). But then there started to be a lot of other bands copping dance music influences on the jam band circuit, so they were pretty unsuccessful at alienating that audience with that sound. Then they started to move back toward song-based material, although songwriting isn't really their strong suit and their singer is a lot of people's least favorite thing about the band (their best album to date is their one official live album, which is 90% instrumental). Plus the material was suffering from a too obvious Radiohead influence. Still, their last album was pretty good for what it was. Around this time, they became friendly with the Dismemberment Plan, who wrote "The Other Side" as something of a Lake Trout homage after seeing them for the first time. They also played a bunch of co-headlining shows with the Plan before they broke up, and started playing on more indie rock bills and weening themselves off the jam band festivals that were probably more lucrative gigs. They used to play most of their local shows at the Recher Theatre (cover-band and frat-guy-friendly place in Towson), now they usually play at the Ottobar (indie rock club in the city).

Lake Trout's been kind of scarce in the area over the past couple years, recording a lot and only playing out of town, although it didn't occur to me til someone mentioned at their show on Friday at the Ottobar that it was their first show in Baltimore in a year and a half. They've got a double album coming out this year, and the 2nd disc is supposed to be mostly instrumental, which I'm pretty excited about. A lot of their best material has been kicking around live sets for years and is mostly instrumental or features their keyboardist Matt (who's not the lead vocalist on most songs) screaming nonsense through a ton of distortion. That stuff is the main reason I still go to their shows and it's never been featured on any of their records, so that disc 2 should be good. Their set on Friday was about half familiar stuff and half new stuff with vocals, most of which wasn't especially promising or different from the last album. They encored with a cover of Helmet's "Unsung", which was kind of awesome. Everyone who came to the show got a free CD at the door, of 2 songs that are going to be on the new album, one of which is their okayish cover of "Street Fighting Man".

What I left the show remembering more about, though, was one of the opening bands. Not the first one, though. When I was first walking into the club, I honestly couldn't tell if there was a band onstage or the soundman was playing Interpol or something on the PA. It turned out to be the first band, Bettersea. I don't necessarily think every band that sounds like that is chasing a trend. In fact, I think it's pretty plausible that there are thousands of guys who have been waiting for years for a chance to play in a band that sounds like that. But that might be even more shameful, in a way.

I was really impressed with the 2nd band, Apollo Sunshine, though, who are from Boston. You know how when you're watching a band you've never heard before and they turn out to be good, first you think oh, I think I'll stick around for them and wait til after their set to go to the bar/bathroom/Ms. Pac Man machine? And then a few songs in you start checking your wallet to make sure you have enough cash to get whatever they have at the merch table? Apollo Sunshine had that effect on me. Most of the stuff I've looked at about them on the internet has pointed out comparisons like the Flaming Lips, Elephant 6, Beck; basically reference points that would usually provoke fear and apprehension in me. But they were seriously good live. Like, 3 songs in they have a roomful of strangers cheering as much as they would for the headliner, that kind of good. Just some goofy bearded guys (I overheard Mike from Lake Trout say to someone that the guitarist from Apollo Sunshine looks like the Burger King, like the one from those weird "wake up with the king ads", which he really does) making really upbeat tuneful guitar music with unpredictable song structures and some bitchin' solos. Not necessarily something I'd enjoy on record, but they really really sold the material live, and were clearly having a lot of fun doing it. When a band from out of town drives all that way and puts on that good a show (and they took long time setting up and started late so they ended up having to play a short set, probably not much more than 20 minutes), I feel almost obligated to buy something and give them some gas money for their troubles. They only had a live CD to sell, one of those Instant Live dealies, and it was recorded less than 3 months ago, so it has pretty much the same stuff I saw them play (although the drums are mixed too low so it lacks a lot of the oomph). They have one studio album, but it's a couple years old and most of their set appears to be newer stuff, so I'll have to wait until their next album to see if they can translate those songs to the studio. Definitely something I'll be looking forward to.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005
Mark McGrath Wonders: How Can I Become Rod Stewart? Upon reading this headline, I wonder: is Anthony Miccio writing for MTV News now or something?

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Friday, April 22, 2005
From the Washington Post:

Warming Up the Diplos

Some diplo eyebrows were raised yesterday and Monday when the State Department's internal television station switched themes. The station usually airs the department's daily news briefing, officials' testimony on C-SPAN, documentaries on foreign policy issues and such during the work day so employees can edify themselves.

But the last couple of days they've been showing " Karl Rove -- The Architect," the "Frontline"-Washington Post biographical piece on the White House deputy chief of staff. So when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads back to California for the U.S. Senate race, then Karl. . . ?

It just entertains me that apparently the Post's official abbreviation for diplomats is "diplos". Although I'd be more amused if it was "Dip Set". Or "Hollertronix".



Thursday, April 21, 2005
Last night there was a standup comedy show at my college featuring a few cast members and regulars from Chappelle's Show. The ticket price was a little steep for a campus event (and I didn't even get the student discount because I've been at this damn school for so long that my student ID is out of date), but I figured what the hell. The theater has maybe 400-500 seats and it was pretty full in there. The MC of the night was Donnell "Ashy Larry" Rawlings. I think his voice and delivery are pretty much inherently funny, but his material was pretty run of the mill blue/politically incorrect stuff that was only occasionally really funny, pretty much Comic View grade stuff. I wonder if he's aware of the fact that he's got a local dance hit in these parts (his catch phrase was sampled for the Baltimore club track "I'm Rich, Bitch" by DJ Technics). The 2nd performer was Marina Franklin, of "nigga you smell like french fries" fame. She had a nice conversational style of comedy, not constant gut busters but a lot of funny personal anecdotes. She's fine, too. The big last set of the night was by Charlie Murphy. He's got a good relaxed storytelling pace, as evidenced by the "true hollywood stories" sketches. At the end he told a good Rick James story, too. Got into some kind of deep stuff, too, sometimes got serious. He talked a lot about how everywhere he goes now people shout "CHARLIEMURPHY!" at him, and about how when people ask him if he gets tired of it, he says "no, because that's my name, so it's better than when I was 'Eddie Murphy's brother' for 16 years".

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Mixtape Tuesday

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Sonic Youth - The Notorious Rockin' Lee

side 1:
1. Skip Tracer
2. Eric's Trip
3. Genetic
4. Paper Cup Exit
5. Pipeline/Kill Time
6. Karen Koltrane
7. Karen Revisited (aka Karenology)
8. Lee Is Free

side 2:
1. Mote
2. Hoarfrost
3. Hey Joni
4. Saucer-Like
5. Wish Fulfillment
6. In The Kingdom #19
7. Rain King
8. I Dreamed I Dream
9. NYC Ghosts & Flowers

Last summer I made this tape of (almost) every SY song with Lee Ranaldo on lead vocals (Lee and Thurston both sing on "Unwind", which I couldn't fit on). The title of the tape comes from the Goo demo track "Lee #2", which was retitled "The Notorious Rockin' Lee" on the Blow Job bootleg (the demo is instrumental but there's supposedly a live recording out there of a version with Lee singing on it). And "Lee Is Free" is an instrumental but included for obvious reasons as end-of-side filler.

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Monday, April 18, 2005
Recently there was an amusing ILM thread about the reactions of UPenn's student body to the news that Sonic Youth had been booked for their spring concert. Of course, probably every school complains about their spring concert no matter who it is. I know mine does. This year my school got Third Eye Blind, and I think a lot of Towson students were just happy that for once it wasn't a hip hop act. Go figure. But what occurred to me in the course of the thread was that it was the closest show to me of the round of shows SY are doing this week, and in all likelihood my best chance to see them live until the next album and tour. The starter of the thread, Maria, offered to pick up tickets for non-students, so I took her up on it and went to the show on Friday.

I've only really been in Philly a handful of times and the last time was over 2 years ago, so I never really have a firm concept of how long it takes to get there and how to get around. So I ended up getting on the road way later than I should've to meet up with Maria. In fact, I got there a good hour late, and then it took me nearly another hour to confirm that I could not find the meeting place and find a working payphone to get in touch with her (this is the part where my friends and family once again chide me for still not having a cellphone). So it was a pretty ridiculous comedy of errors. But Maria was cool about it and left my ticket at will call. She tried to give me a description so I could spot her in the crowd, but I had no luck with that, so I never got to meet up, which was a bummer.

The openers were Cat Power and Citizen Cope. I got into Cat Power back in the mid-90's when it was just another band that Steve Shelley played in and I liked those records, but then I liked each record after that less and less and the whole weird cult that developed around her and her notorious live shows just turned me off. So I always kinda prided myself on the fact that I never saw Cat Power live. But since she was at this show and I got there early enough, I ended up seeing most of her set. It was actually kind of cool to walk through all these old buildings on the UPenn campus and into this little clearing full of purple light coming from a stage surrounded by not that many kids with a woman playing these quiet simple songs on piano. So her set was kind of pleasant and relaxing after driving and walking around Philly for a few hours. I didn't recognize many songs, since I never bought her last album and then got a promo of it a while later and could barely listen to it. She never broke down or did anything weird, just switched from piano to guitar and back a few times and barely said anything and ended her set abruptly.

The less said about Citizen Cope the better. All his songs seemed to be about guns and jail and homeless people and crazy people and were sung in some kind of ridiculous affected bluesman voice.

Sonic Youth's setlist: I Love You Golden Blue / Stones / Pattern Recognition / Unmade Bed / Eric’s Trip / Bull In The Heather / Dude Ranch Nurse / Paper Cup Exit / New Hampshire / Rain On Tin / Teenage Riot

Overall a pretty similiar set to what I saw them do last summer at the 9:30 Club, although a little sloppier, which is understandable since that was during a full-on tour and this was a shorter series of gigs. But I kinda went in expecting that, and even hoping for a lot of stuff from Sonic Nurse, which I liked to begin with but it's actually grown on me in the past few months to the point that I've decided I like it better than Murray Street (although "Rain On Tin" is one of my favorite SY songs ever and I'm pretty happy that it's remained in their set). Thurston forgot to sing at the beginning of "Rain On Tin", which is kinda funny considering the whole song only has like 8 lines, so Kim reminded him and they started it over. "I Love You Golden Blue" had a longer noise intro than I remember it having last time. "Stones" was one of my least favorite songs on Nurse but it's one of the best songs live. I'm still bummed that they never seem to play "Dripping Dream", though. "Eric's Trip" is never as good live as it should be, although "Teenage Riot" was maybe the best live version I've ever heard, and ended with a long long noise finale. At the end Thurston came down on the ground in front of the crowd and jammed his guitar in between the bars of a metal girder in front of the stage, and a roadie had to go get it out after the show.

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Sunday, April 17, 2005
in my stereo:

Brooke Valentine - Chain Letter
The Movement volume #3: Bmore Live 2005
Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Trust
Prince and the Revolution - Parade
Lake Trout - Another One Lost
Grand Buffet - Dicer: The Unheard Funk Tracks
Will Smith - Lost & Found
Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
DJ K-Swift - The Club Queen Jump Off
Steely Dan - Everything Must Go

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Friday, April 15, 2005
Lately I've been coming to grips with my conflicted relationship with writing about music. Obviously it's something I like to do, but I've thought long and hard about whether I want to keep it as something I just do for myself and for fun, on these blogs and on message boards, or if I want to try my hand at professional criticism. My only real previous brush with semi-pro music writing was almost 5 years ago, when I wrote for Pitchfork. This was kind of back before they were the behemoth that they are today, although they were well on their way at that point. (I was there at the time of the infamous "wizard's cap" Kid A review, which at the time brought a big jump in hits because this was at the peak of the Napster stuff and it was a big coup for them to download and review it weeks ahead of time and beat all the print mags to the punch.) I was pretty aware of their flaws and limitations even before I got inside the organization, but I thought that once I was in I could do my thing and maybe thrive. I didn't really fit in with the house style, though, which at the time moreso than now was really jokey/snarky/conceptual reviews, none of which I really did. They'd actually add jokes and humorous asides to my reviews, which were apparently too dry for Pitchfork. After 3 months of grinding hard to meet deadlines even though I was broke and couldn't afford to buy CD's and had to depend on promos that were always mailed out late, and was on the bottom of the pecking order so I end up with the really bad no-name promos and wrote a lot of negative reviews (but didn't take the opportunity to give exaggeratedly low scores or write a funny crazy high concept review), I was kinda relieved when I was let go after having a spat with Schreiber.

So that kind of left a sour taste in my mouth, as far as the whole writing for other people thing. I realized for one that I wasn't wild about word counts, and I like to be able to say exactly as much or as little as I have to say without having to chop it down or pad it out. Plus my real ambitions have always been with making music, not writing about it. I have enough respect for criticism that I'd like to do it well if at all, but if I had to choose I'd rather make ok records than write great reviews of them, that's just where my priorities are. And while there are plenty of respectable critics who are also musicians and I don't really buy the critics-are-frustrated/failed-musicians line, I think that most really good critics are pretty happy doing what they do and just don't have an itch to scratch as far as making their own music, which is fine. But for me, if I was just a critic and nothing else, I would be a frustrated musician.

But then, I started a couple blogs, and in the past year I've probably written more about music than I had in my entire life before then. It was still a comfortable distance from 'real' criticism, though. In the past 3-4 years that I've been an active participant of ILM and, subsequently, the blogosphere, I've gotten a pretty good glimpse at the world of music criticism and certain communities of critics. And while I've gotten to interact with and to some degree get to know a number of published critics (several of whom are linked on the right), and respected their ambitions in that field and wished them well in racking up bylines, I was still pretty convinced that that was simply Not For Me, and was pretty content burning my free time and energy detailing new and sometimes ridiculously obscure rap music on Gov't Names, just because I'm a nerd and that's my idea of fun. I mean, blogs have really spoiled me as a writer. I never have to worry about editors or wordcounts or who my audience is. I don't have to worry about if something's relevent enough to write about. You can assume a lot of knowledge on the part of the reader without having to over explain anything. And this can make for insular, in-jokey writing, but for me it's been pretty crucial when writing about hip hop, where there's a few miles of subtext underneath any given song and it feels condescending to go over all of it every time.

In the past couple months, my mind was so far from the notion of reviewing records for someone else's publication that I had seriously considered asking Pitchfork to remove my name all my reviews, to erase any evidence that I had once been a real critic in any capacity. I just didn't want it to be Googlable anymore. The only thing that really stopped me is that I couldn't think of a suitable alias to tell them to use, or a way to make the request without it sounding like "I'm embarrassed to be associated with your site". Which I kind of am, but it doesn't really matter that much. Besides, I can probably name a couple dozen past or present Pitchfork staffers who I can vouch for as writers and/or as people. So I don't mind being in that company. And I'm not particularly proud of any of my reviews for them, but I'm not quite embarrassed either. I was 18 at the time, and by that token, they're alright. But so little of it was about music I gave a rat's ass about, and if I look to them for anything now it's to learn about my weaknesses as a writer.

But anyway, after all this convincing myself I didn't want to be a critic, a funny thing happened. Last week, out of the blue I got 2 e-mails in the space of 3 days, from editors from publications I read and respect, asking me to write for them. I was on the verge of politely declining the first when the 2nd arrived, and at that point I started to think maybe this was an omen that I was being stubborn and shouldn't ignore the opportunities I was being given here. That, and it all came as too much of a ego boost to treat ungratefully. Let it never be said that I'm invulnerable to appeals to my intellectual vanity. So I said yes to both, and I've been turning it over in my head ever since, regretting the decision one minute and being completely at ease with it the next. But mainly I know it was the right thing to do and I just need to get over my hangups and reprogram myself out of a few years of aversion to writing in any kind of mediated or controlled environment.

What I'm most intimidated by, oddly enough, isn't having to not write like a blogger. I'm more afraid that I'm going to swing too far in the other direction and try too hard to write like a real critic. I know how I can freeze up in front of a generalized audience. That's how I ended up with those dry, stiff Pitchfork reviews. And even though both of those editors persued me on the basis of my blog writing and have no intention of messing with the voice I've already established there, I know I'm going to have to really struggle against certain instincts just to preserve that voice in the forum they're giving me. On the upside, I have a lot more freedom write about what I want to write about now. One of the reasons things didn't work out with Pitchfork is that I didn't come in as the token rap guy, so it was an uphill battle to get permission to write about any rap at all, and ultimately I lost. But now that I've got a couple hundred Gov't Names posts under my belt to show I can write about it, my new editors will probably expect me to write about rap to the exclusion of other music more than I want to. That's a minor detail, though. Bottom line is, I can and do enjoy writing in a way that's suitable for proper record reviews, and I look forward to trying my best and applying all the skills I've learned and preferences and opinions I've acquired since the last time I tried. And if things go well with these 2 gigs then maybe I'll really get out there and start freelancing. But one step at a time.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005
A couple years ago I started getting my hair cut at this old barber shop near my apartment at the time, and I still go to it even though I don't live as close to it anymore. It's near campus so it's not really out of my way. It's staffed by these funny white haired old barbers, they even have one of those red and white barber poles. It's probably the only place in the shopping center it's in where all of the employees and most of the clientele are white. Well, that and the branch of the Baltimore County Police Department that, weirdly, is also in the shopping center, in between the stores and stuff. Seems like a really odd place for that. A lot of the other places are like dollar stores and lake trout (which is a soul food dish that's really popular in Baltimore, there are lake trout places everywhere). Last time I was there for a haircut I saw a guy in the parking lot opening a new CD and realized that there was a music store over on the opposite end of the shopping center that I'd never been to. It's called Planet Replay and it's nothing but used DVDs and video games and CDs. It's awesome. A lot of the CD cases are in too good condition to be actually used, I get the feeling a lot of their stuff comes from cutouts and pressing plant overstock. I don't generally spend a lot of time looking through used bins in the music stores I usually go to, but this place just had so much that I had to pore through it, and everything was so cheap. There's very little rap, I imagine what they do have gets picked over pretty quickly. But there's a wealth of classic rock and 90's alt stuff and random country and pop and soundtracks. I think it's going to become the place for me to satisfy my jones for MOR/dad-rock like Springsteen and Steely Dan and the 3rd Stone Temple Pilots album that I remembered liking a few songs on. I always want more of that kind of thing but usually never get around to picking up stuff like that because I feel like a sucker paying more than 10 bucks for it when there's so much new stuff to hear, but now I can find all of that for sometimes as little as 2 bucks.


Mixtape Tuesday

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The 3rd mix I ever made for J.G., in August of 02.

side 1:
1. Jeff Buckley - "Lover, You Should've Come Over"
2. The Posies - "Somehow Everything"
3. They Might Be Giants - "New York City"
4. Pulp - "Disco 2000"
5. Ben Folds Five - "Fair"
6. Ted Leo - "Parallel Or Together?"
7. REM - "Sweetness Follows"
8. Ben Kweller - "Falling"
9. Death Cab For Cutie - "Photo Booth"
10. The Posies - "Fall Song"

side 2:
1. Sparklehorse - "Box Of Stars (Part One)"
2. Talking Heads - "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"
3. Ted Leo - "Come Baby Come"
4. Sonic Youth - "That's All I Know (Right Now)"
5. The B-52's - "Rock Lobster"
6. The Dismemberment Plan - "If I Don't Write"
7. Jon Auer - "Love My Way" (Psychedelic Furs cover)
8. Ben Folds Five - "Emaline" (live)
9. Sparklehorse - "Heart Of Darkness (wiggly)"
10. Rufus Wainwright - "Hallelujah"
11. Jeff Buckley - "Grace"
12. Ken Stringfellow - "Here's To The Future"
13. Cat Power - "Sea Of Love"
14. Sparklehorse - "Box Of Stars (Part Two)"

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Monday, April 11, 2005
There's something very surreal about channel surfing and stopping on a cartoon on one of the evangelist networks because you recognize the voice of Tim Curry. I mean, I know he's done a ton of voice work, but he still seems like an odd fit for that particular project. I mean, dude was the sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania. It doesn't appear to be listed on his IMDB page, but it's called Kids' Ten Commandments and Moses puts the smack down on him for making false idols.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005
Minor Celebrities And Their Doggy Doppelgangers


Saturday, April 09, 2005
in my stereo:

Beanie Sigel - The B.Coming
DJ Quicksilva - The Hot Boy Volume 1
Dinosaur Jr. - Bug
Brendan Benson - The Alternative To Love
The Pretenders - The Pretenders
Bossman - Charm City's King, Mixtape Vol. 2
Enon - Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence
Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
Blink 182 - Blink 182
Trick Daddy - Thug Matrimony

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Friday, April 08, 2005
This week MTV premiered Meet The Barkers, their new reality show starring the family of Travis Barker of Blink 182. Not sure where they're going with this one -- I mean, I could see a show about the frontman of a popular rock band, but the drummer? I'm a drummer and even I know where our place is in the grand scheme of things. The only drummer in the world who's truly a celebrity is Tommy Lee, and that's only because he also accidentally became a porn star. I think MTV is banking heavily on Travis's hot beauty queen/actress wife, and hoping for a dumb blonde dynamic now that Newlyweds is off the air. Travis is maybe my favorite drummer from a band I don't particularly like, although I'm not sure how I feel about a grown man who wears skater shorts and a mohawk. And the theme song (Blink covering "Another Girl, Another Planet") makes me cringe. But at any rate, it can't be as bad as that amazingly boring Dave Navarro/Carmen Electra reality show they tried to do, and the first episode showed some promise, especially in the following exchange, after Travis wakes Shanna up:

Shanna: "I had a dream about Justin Timberlake, and Usher was there too, and I had to pick between the two of them"

Travis: "who did you pick?"

Shanna: "I didn't, you woke me up"

Travis: "I'd pick Usher...he's a better dancer"

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Movie Diary

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
(And yes I am totally stealing the idea/format from Hillary)

1) Ladder 49: The trailer made it look alright, at least in the way that a sap like me can appreciate. But they really didn't hit the mark at all, it just kind of keeps going and trying to make you feel something or give a damn and I really couldn't. And usually I like Joaquin. And the fact that it was filmed on location in Baltimore is only utilized sparingly, actually mentioning the name of the city maybe twice in the whole movie and namechecking fictitious crabhouses. I wouldn't be surprised if they picked the location based on the fact that Baltimore has so many buildings that they could cheaply burn down for the movie. Mayor O'Malley has a little cameo in there, too. Is Baltimore really as Catholic as the movie depicts it? My dad says it was when he was growing up but I never really got that impression, and the movie makes it look like Boston-level Catholic.

2) After Sunset: Short of actual nudity, this movie is enormously generous to the demographic I will refer to here as "people who have a boner for Salma Hayek". Like, way beyond just the usual obligatory PG-13 cleavage shots. I really think they could've increased their box office take significantly if they had cut the trailer to reflect this. Go figure. Otherwise, it moved along at a good pace, decent little heist movie with a few implausible twists and contrivances. Am I crazy for kinda wishing Woody Harrelson was in more movies these days?

3) Flight of the Phoenix: I watched this with my mom and step-dad, who are fans of the original with Jimmy Stewart, and they said it was a good remake, although I think I'd like the original better. There's something about that kind of movie about earnest people in a desperate situation that I think worked a lot better 40 years ago when it wasn't a rule in Hollywood for every character to have an endless supply of snarky put-downs for each other. Also, it's one of those movies where the music supervisor seems to be going for the most inoffensively generic acceptable-for-all-audiences music for every scene. I think in the first 10 minutes they went through both Johnny Cash and James Brown (although it's kind of funny that I only recognized "Nighttrain" because of the Baltimore club mix). And don't even get me started on the part where suddenly it's revealed that the big manly men stuck out in the middle of the desert have a CD player, and put on "Hey Ya" and start dancing like Carlton from "The Fresh Prince". Seriously, WTF.

4) Gangs of New York: I worked at a post office the summer before this came out, and working in those places you end up reading a lot of magazines, and I read a few articles about all the trouble that plagued the filming of this and was pretty interested in seeing it but never got around to it when it was first out. But a couple weeks ago hanging out with J.G. at school we saw it at a party. It's weird to think that this is the kind of movie that gets watched at parties at an all-girls school, but evidently it is. I like the fact that even though it's largely fact-based and historical, it all feels so surreal and unlikely, especially the clothes. I mean, it might be really accurate and true to life, but it just looks so over the top and ridiculous, in a good way.

5) Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Actually only saw about the first half of this, which happens a lot because there's a Playstation/DVD player in my office and the guys I work with rent stuff a lot when there's nothing to do, and I'll end up seeing half of a movie if they're watching it at the beginning or end of my shift or it gets interrupted by the need to do actual work. What I saw was good though, better than I expected. All the stuff I read about it made it sound like it was basically the same as any stoner buddy flick with the exception of the buddies being Asian, but the race of the leads was referred to quite a lot in what I saw, and that usually accounted for the sharpest jokes.

6) Down Periscope: Another one seen at the office. For some reason I think someone here actually owns a copy. I mean, low brow 90's comedy, ok, sure, but this? I think I forgot it existed after opening weekend, and figured so did everyone else. The cast is a veritable who's who of 2nd and 3rd bananas (well, maybe not so much "who's who" as "who's that?"), the highlight being Toby Huss, who I regard warmly for his role in "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" and the bizarre MTV spots he did in the early 90's ("mornin', of the mornin' to ya").

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Mixtape Tuesday

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
I made this tape a few years ago when I was swapping mixes with somebody, but I never got around to sending it and I don't think I ever got theirs either so I didn't really feel bad about it. I think I set out with the goal to just make a good-ass rock tape and not too heavily indie, I think it came out well.

side 1:
1. Pearl Jam - "In Hiding"
2. fIREHOSE - "Formal Introduction"
3. The Posies - "Flavor Of The Month"
4. Enon - "Come Into"
5. The Who - "Substitute" (Live At Leeds)
6. J Mascis & The Fog - "Same Day"
7. REM - "Little America"
8. The Dismemberment Plan - "Onward, Fat Girl!"
9. Superchunk - "Hyper Enough"
10. Built To Spill - "You Were Right"
11. Elliott Smith - "L.A."
12. Jeff Buckley - "What Will You Say"

side 2:
1. The Talking Heads - "Paper"
2. Mike Watt - "Against The 70's"
3. The Clash - "Tommy Gun"
4. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Afro"
5. Queen - "Liar"
6. The Dismemberment Plan - "The Ice Of Boston"
7. Sonic Youth - "Teenage Riot"
8. Sparklehorse - "Someday I Will Treat You Good"
9. The Posies - "Ontario"
10. Ben Harper - "The Will To Live"
11. Guns'n'Roses - "Rocket Queen"

Narrowcast Loves CMT

Monday, April 04, 2005
Hot Apple Pie - "Hillbillies"
This seems predistined to be a hit right out of the box like "Redneck Woman", although I'm not sure how much I like it yet. You know what I mean, though? It's like those "you know you ghetto" songs that are big every couple years, except now it's white people learning to reclaim terms of self-loathing with a prideful anthem. Or maybe I'm giving this song too much credit, it's a bit sillier and more nonsensical than "Redneck Woman", but you know what I mean. I honestly didn't realize until seeing the video for the 3rd or 4th time that it's a shot-for-shot remake/homage/parody/whatever of "Drop It Like It's Hot". I mean, it just looked like a black & white performance video until I realized all the details are the same. Except they didn't do the part at the end where Snoop pulls up his pant leg and shows you his sock. And as far as I'm concerned that's the most important part.

SheDaisy - "Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing"
This has to be the first time a band has sung about finding its own CDs in the bargain bin. I respect that kind of self-awareness.

Cowboy Troy - "I Play Chicken With The Train"
I'm actually kind of impressed with his flow on this, it's nothing special but way better than that blocky slow 'old school' type rapping he does on that Big & Rich song. That white kid named Chance that was on Muzik Mafia TV is still way better though. CT's definitely wise to do a single with B&R on the hook and go straight for the country audience instead of even trying to go for the hip hop audience. I mean, country is definitely more open-minded to that kind of crossover these days, who would've predicted a year ago that Nelly would be in heavy rotation on CMT?

Jo Dee Messina - "My Give A Damn's Busted"
There's something about post-Shania country with sassy spoken bits over the music that's like nails on a chalkboard to me, and it feels both like she takes a decent song concept and goes nowhere with it, and like it could've been phrased better (although I'm not sure how; 'I'm all out of damns to give' maybe?). And those pants in the video, ugh. There is one lyric I love, though ("You can crawl back home, say you were wrong/stand out in the yard and cry all night long/go ahead and water the lawn").

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Sunday, April 03, 2005
Last night I went down to D.C. to see my friend/ex-roommate/ex-bandmate Mike in a play. He's playing piano and doing musical director stuff and acting a little in a production of Ring Cycle! The Musical, which is a whimsical attempt to condense Wagner's 15-hour opera into 90 minutes. It kind of gets across the original story and some of its music while being very silly and kind of a parody at the same time. The funniest parts were me were anytime Mike had a line, though, just because I think he's one of the funniest people in the world without ever trying. Overall it was better than I expected it to be, although the friends I went with were being bitchy and snarky the whole night, especially in regards to the play.


Saturday, April 02, 2005
The other day while discussing the Rocky IV soundtrack with someone, I Googled "Eye Of The Tiger", and found one of the most puzzling sites I've ever seen:

"Welcome to eye of the tiger website. Here you can find all sorts of information on the songs, Bohemian Rhapsody, Eye of the Tiger, Another One Bites the Dust and Highway to Hell. These are all great songs that have sent shivers down the backs of many in the last 40 years."

First of all, this site is about those 4 songs and those songs only, which is weird enough in itself. Second of all, none of those songs are even 30 years old. And there isn't even that much info on the site about those songs. The 'song notes' for "Eye Of The Tiger" consist of a quote from an review, which concludes with this: "Oh, and don't get this band confused with the TV show, because one is a great rock band, and the other is a show featuring a bunch of old people running around naked on the beach, and well, there's quite a difference!". I guess I'm just intrigued by sites like this that have such a narrow focus and yet so little to offer on even that specific subject. The internet is weird.


Friday, April 01, 2005
Here's a decent little essay by Thurston Moore about mixtapes and cassette culture, a topic near and dear to my heart. Apparently it comes from a book on the subject edited by TM that's coming out in May, which is the kind of thing that gets me excited. I'm feeling especially sentimental about it right now since just a couple weeks ago the record button on my stereo's tape deck stopped working and I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it makes more sense to finally get a CD burner than buy a new tape deck, which means that I may have already made my last mixtape. Sigh.

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