Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Green Day-Last of the American Girls


Enjoy this new Green Day video, because I don't have much to talk about today...and Billie Joe Armstrong is still cute after all these years. The blonde wigged dancing chicks I could do without...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ricky Martin Announces Homosexuality...

...and I am just as shocked about this one as I was when Clay Aiken came out. I'm happy for you, Ricky. You just announced to the world one of the most obvious statements ever made.
In his official statement, Ricky discusses how he was hesitant to come out, and pressured by others into remaining silent. Conveniently, now that it has been several years since receiving any mainstream media attention, he decides it's the perfect time to let everyone know what we've always known.
Lance Bass, Clay Aiken, and now Ricky. None were shocking revelations. None were at the height of their popularity. It's always good to see someone be true to themselves and who they are, but for the right reasons.
Maybe I've got this all wrong. I'm not gay, so I have no idea what it must be like. Would anyone care to correct me on this, or do you support my opinion that this seems more like a play for some press than an honest-to-goodness declaration of sexuality.

What say you, dear readers?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Miley Cyrus is Going to Quit Making Music

What? The headline wasn't awesome enough?
One less person making obnoxious, watered down, generic pop music. Err...one less person making it for her, I guess I should say.
Clearly she inherited her awesome musical talents from her equally musically gifted father.
Miley says she wants to focus on acting in the movies. This is her way of ruining another creative medium!
She's apparently releasing her last album in June, at least I think...I try not to pay too close attention to crap.

What "musician" do you wish would quit making music?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

STP Couldn't Be Bothered to Record New Album Together

Once upon a time, Stone Temple Pilots were one of the first bands I rattled off when asked who some of my favorites were. Even after they released a couple of albums I could have cared less about, including the clunker Shangri La De Da, I still stood by a band I loved.
After they split off, Weiland becoming part of the mildly successful Velvet Revolver, and the DeLeos becoming part of the not-nearly-as-successful Army of Anyone; I still remained a fan.
I was cautiously optimistic at the thought of new music from a band I've loved for more than half of my life. Their new self-titled album is set to be released on a date that has personal meaning to me. May 25th is the date I was hired to be on-air at 93 Rock. That same night, I went to see Scott Weiland perform in Velvet Revolver.
Tonight I read about the making of this new record, and I was disappointed to say the least. Bassist Robert DeLeo has been quoted in an interview as saying all of the rest of the members of STP gathered without Scott to make music, while somewhere across the country, he was recording vocals. DeLeo attempts to put a positive spin on this concept by insisting: "...it's a great achievement being able to write and produce and do this record the way we did. I'm very, very proud of that."
Really? You're very proud of the fact that your band can't collectively get its shit together to make a record? You know, one of the most basic functions of being a member of a band? His quote may as well have read: "We can't stand to even be in the same room as Scott Weiland, but we'd like to prey on the loyalty of people that have been loyal fans of our band for the last fifteen years. So we thought we'd just phone this one in, and hope no one notices the difference"
Am I crazy here? Am I going off on an insane tangent, or does this not irritate anyone else?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CD Prices Lowered

It was recently reported that Universal Music Group Distribution is lowering the overall cost of a cd to $10.00 or less. To this I say too little, too late. Seven years ago, I worked at an F.Y.E. music store. During this time, small music stores and relatively well-known chains alike were starting to close their doors across the nation. Business was suffering. Everyone from Tower Records to Virgin Megastores saw their demise due to poor record sales, largely due to the fact that internet downloads were increasing in popularity. Back then, the solution seemed simple to me. I was stocking the shelves of F.Y.E. with cd's whose stickers read upwards of $19.99. Wouldn't it make sense to lower the cost of the cd in order to move more product? My co-workers and I scoffed when a cd would go "on sale" for $15.99.
I do not fall in this camp, but many people my age (and many more in the generation below mine) are content to download a few songs off of the internet from an artist they like, without purchasing or even listening to the album in its entirety. An album is created to be a whole body of work, and should be treated as such.
I suppose music lovers from older generations still purchase cds, but most people tote around iPods these days, or listen to mp3s on a similar handheld device...even their cell phone.

What do you think about Universal lowering prices?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Musical Genres

I was browsing a website that breaks up music by subgenres, and I was surprised to see labels for things I'd never heard of. Everyone knows Rock, Hip-Hop, and Classical. But have you heard of musique concrete or Filk? Do you know the difference between traditional jazz music and free jazz?
Pirate metal and wizard rock are both actual genres, the latter being based on the Harry Potter novel series. No, I'm not joking. If there's a concept for music, it's probably already been done. The list of rock genres alone is staggering. Exactly how much do you need to break your music down, classifying and reclassifying it?
I'll just stick with listening to things I like, staying away from things I don't, and avoiding labels altogether.
Do you have a favorite obscure music genre?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trailer Shark at Respectable Street Cafe

Last night, I attended Slammie Wedding Bash at Respectable Street Cafe in West Palm Beach. Although there was a great lineup with several bands I am familiar with, my purpose for making the trek out of the Broward County comfort zone was to see Trailer Shark's first show. Trailer Shark is a classic rock cover band...with balls. Let it be known, this is not a bunch of guys in their 60s trying to relate to the "kids". Trailer Shark is an honest to goodness, hard hitting, rip your face off with awesomness, good band. Comprised of members of Indorphine, Raped Ape, Stillkept, Pro Pain, Cyst, What Wishes Can't Mend, and Gonema; the band's lineup reads like a best of the Florida music scene over the last several years.
The band played two sets, with a brief break in between. They plowed through songs by bands you'd expect to see on a classic rock setlist: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple. But they also dug a little deeper for bands like Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, and Blue Oyster Cult.
After the second set, I made a run for the door to hit a second show in Broward.
Without calling anyone out, let's just say the boys playing covers in Trailer Shark blew the band I saw next playing original songs out of the water.
I can't wait to see them again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Juke Box Hero

Yeah, that's right. I just went Foreigner on your ass. So it's Friday night, and I got to thinking about days of yore, where I used to spend my night on a barstool at Poorhouse or Dicey Riley's, drinking and enjoying good company. The perfect companion to this experience is a few singles and a well stocked jukebox.
Nothing kills your buzz faster than someone ruining the ambiance of your favorite watering hole by throwing on some garbage that would make a teenager squeal. To be fair, I understand that a good jukebox should contain music from several genres. But playing "I Want it That Way" does not make you trendy or ironic, it just makes you an asshole that people want to throw balled up beverage napkins at.
So how do you play to an often mixed crowd? Survey the room as your stroll up to the machine. The purpose is not to appeal to everyone because you want to impress, but to appeal to everyone so they don't use the extra credit feature to skip your song and play theirs next in line.
Almost everyone has been drunk and down on their luck at least once, so you're always safe with Johnny Cash. Skip playing Folsom Prison Blues for the millionth time and choose "Sunday Morning Comin Down" instead.
Ok, you have two more credits, what to pick? If you're in a bar, the odds are pretty good that someone, if not the great majority, is trying to get laid. Play Violent Femmes' "Add It Up". Last credit. Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline" or Queen Bohemian Rhapsody". If your timing is right, fellow bar patrons will be drunk enough to kick off a rousing sing along.

One to avoid? Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " It's been ruined by hipsters in tight jeans with stupid haircuts.

What songs do you play on the jukebox at the bar?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Workout Mix

Listening to music while you work out is a good way to motivate you to push yourself. The right songs can get you amped up. They don't necessarily have to be fast-paced. A good driving beat can be just as effective.
Here are a few of the songs I like to work out to:

Head Automatica-At the Speed of a Yellow Bullet
The Cardigans-Lovefool
Gnarls Barkley-Transformer
Blur-Girls and Boys
Foo Fighters-Stacked Actors
Daniel Bedingfield-Inflate My Ego
The Dandy Warhols-We Used to Be Friends

Many people like to work out to dance or techno music, some like hip-hop, but I go for something a little different. What is your preference?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Musicians Say The Darndest Things

Perusing Rollingstone.com, I came across this gem of a headline: Billy Corgan on John Mayer: "He's Trying to Destroy His Career". If that does not make you laugh, then you are a soulless human being whose funny bone was ripped out early in life.
When celebrities try to comment on the actions of their fellow species, the results are often hilarious at best. As we all know, celebrities are a mess. We're all a little messed up, sure. Maybe your dad wasn't around or your mom drank too much, but that can't come anywhere near the fucked up lives of famous people. So when they point out just how messed up someone else's life is, the irony is so great it's ridiculous.
How about instead of playing armchair psychiatrist, you stick to playing your music?
Sound like a deal?
What's the strangest thing you've heard one musician say about another?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Missed 'Em The First Time Around...

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you miss falling in love with a band at the height of their popularity. Perhaps you were too young, or you weren't into that particular genre at the time. Maybe you'd heard of the band, but you needed a friend to introduce you to their music.
Whatever the case, when it clicks...it really clicks. This clicking feeling is generally followed by beating yourself up over the fact that you didn't like them sooner, especially if they're dead/defunct/really old.
I never knew much about the Pixies in the late 80s and early 90s. To be fair, I was six years old when Surfer Rosa was released. In my early 20s, I met a friend that was obsessed with their music, and it lead me to give them a listen. Frank Black's gruff and earnest vocals captured my attention immediately, and I was intrigued by his many alter egos.
The only song I knew by Faith No More when I was a teenager was "Epic", but years later, I discovered the many works of Mike Patton: Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantomas, and my favorite: Peeping Tom.
Kris and I were listening to the double disc Best of Radiohead collection last week, and he couldn't help but note one of the songs from early in their career was reminiscent of The Stone Roses. I admitted that I was familiar with the name, but I'd missed hearing them entirely, and here I sit listening to them for the first time. I like it.

Which bands do you enjoy now that you wish you'd discovered sooner?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chris Brown's Awkward Message to Fans

Following last year's scandal where he physically abused Rhianna, Chris Brown is so desperate to win back fans that he is recording audio messages asking them for support. In the awkward message, Brown states that a lot of radio stations aren't playing his records, and that he "can't be an underground mixtape artist". Coming off equal parts arrogant and pitiful, Brown often stumbles over his words and laughs nervously.
When you're a celebrity that makes a grave error in your personal life, fans take it to heart. Fans expect their favorite celebrities to set an example, and domestic abuse is not something that anyone takes lightly. Though an artist's work should stand independently of their personal life, we live in a world where pop culture is often the central focus of the news. It is easily accessible for anyone with a computer or internet capable handheld device.
Musicians and other celebrities are human, and therefore make mistakes just like everyone else.
I'm not a fan of Brown's music, but I am a fan of Scott Weiland's. Weiland was arrested for domestic violence several years ago, and it didn't make me want to stop listening to his music. It made me sad for him as a human being, that he couldn't get his act together, but I will always be a fan of his music.
Should the less than reputable actions of a musician be taken into consideration when judging their music?
When a musician you love does something stupid, does it change your opinion of them?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Deftones-Rocket Skates

The Deftones have released a new track, titled "Rocket Skates". It's from their upcoming album, Diamond Eyes, due out May 18th.
This album is their first release since 2006's Saturday Night Wrist, and also marks the first album without bass player Chi Cheng. Cheng was involved in a car accident in November 2008 that left him with severe injuries, rendering him in a minimally conscious state from which he is still recovering.
"Rocket Skates" is a hard hitter, assaulting the senses right out of the gate. It's reminiscent of their early work, and much more heavy than anything they've put out in recent years.
I look forward to hearing the album in its entirety.

Which Deftones album is your favorite and why?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Musicians and Tragedies

In light of Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse's recent death, I found it appropriate to address this subject. It seems the words "creative people" and "tortured soul" go hand in hand. What is it that drives some of music's most talented individuals to abuse their bodies, or worse, commit suicide?
The reason his death is even more hard to swallow is he survived a brush with death once, and he still ended his own life. Paraphrased from Wikipedia:

While on tour in 1996, Linkous overdosed on alcohol and other substances in his London hotel room. Rendered unconscious by the combination of drugs, he collapsed with his legs pinned beneath him, and remained in that position for almost fourteen hours. The resulting potassium buildup caused his heart to stop for several minutes after his body was lifted up. Subsequent surgeries saved both legs but left him wheelchair bound for months.

I recently discussed here the deaths of Layne Staley and Bradley Nowell, two more musicians with a history of drug abuse and depression. Personally, I have never battled depression, so it is difficult for me to wrap my head around wanting to end my life.
Kurt Cobain, Jon Bonham, Ian Curtis, Shannon Hoon, Hillel Slovak...just to name a few. All with a history of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, or both.
So sad that so many talented individuals couldn't find the help they so desperately needed to turn things around.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Anyone Can Play Guitar

Unusual Instrument Usage in Modern Pop Music

The standard roles in a five piece band are lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.
Some bands are not satisfied with traditional instrumentation. Bored with the lineup, they go looking for ways to alter their sound, such as Radiohead did by eliminating their label as "guitar rock". They incorporated instruments such as a glockenspiel, as well as drum machines and samplers. A Perfect Circle's debut album, Mer De Noms relies heavily on gourd instruments and violins to set the often dark theme of the music. The White Stripes experimented heavily with the marimba on their album Get Behind Me Satan, and The Roots have evolved over the years to include a sousaphone as a regular part of their lineup.

Some bands don't just experiment on a song or two, but use unusual instruments as part of their regular lineup. In addition to the traditional guitar, bass, and drums, Dave Matthews Band has a violinist and saxophonist.
Artists like Robert Randolph and Ben Harper forgo the standard electric guitar in favor of pedal steel and lap steel guitars. Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson use a ukulele.

Beck is so experimental with unusual instruments, that I had to use wikipedia and google images to figure out what some of them were. The list includes: sitar, banjo, glockenspiel, slide guitar, vocoder, and melodica.

Musicians that think outside of the box make some of the most creative and beautiful compositions.

What are some of your favorite examples of unusual instruments in contemporary music?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog Riffing Challenge Topic #4

Tonight's question is as follows: How did our parents' taste in music (or non-taste, for that matter) shape our own likes and dislikes?

This is the easiest one of all. My mom went to three concerts while I was still in the womb: Springsteen, Rush, and The Allman Brothers. When I was five years old, she took me to my first concert: Julian Lennon. She and my father taught me almost everything I know about the genre known as "classic rock". They introduced me to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Monkees, and a lot of other bands I still love to this day.
As for dislikes, my mom is a huge fan of Prog-rock, such as Yes and The Moody Blues. I don't particularly care for these bands anymore. As soon as I began to develop my own taste, I stopped listening to those bands. They're just not my taste, as an adult.
As for non-taste, my dad doesn't like much by the way of contemporary music. He'd prefer to stay firmly planted somewhere around 1975, musically speaking, with very little exception.
When I read this question, non-taste really jumped out at me as an experience my husband had. Kris's parents listen to country, christian music, and a smattering of 80s bands like Journey and REO Speedwagon.
Anyone that reads this and knows my husband knows that he is a bigger music elitist than I am. He learned nearly everything he knows about music, classic and contemporary, on his own.
We're taking all of the passion we have about music of all kinds and passing it on to Jonas. It is our responsibility as parents to give him a well-rounded musical education.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blog Riffing Challenge: Topic # 3

The question is: "What did you hate in high school that you now love? Vice versa?"

My answer is:

Hated: Most rap and hip-hop, for starters. Music was not as easily accessible when I was in high school as it is now. I didn't have a home computer and internet until after I graduated, so I couldn't search for music and skim articles for new things. I also didn't have a lot of friends that were into hip-hop. The ones that were liked the pop garbage you hear on Top 40 radio. When I went to college, I discovered Outkast, The Roots, Goodie Mob, and Q-Tip. When I met Kris, he introduced me to a lot of good indie hip-hop: Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock, and El Producto. The entire Definitive Jux label has a great roster of guys you won't hear on the radio.

I also hated female singers. I've revised this over the years for the likes of Shirley Manson, Beth Gibbons, and a handful of others. I still don't like most of them, but that's an improvement upon the zero I liked in high school.

Loved: SmashMouth. I loved Steve Harwell's silly personality and bouncy lyrics. I bet I'd probably still like parts of Fush Yu Mang if I heard it today, if for nothing else but the nostalgia factor. After hearing them on every children's film soundtrack for the last ten years, I quit giving a damn.
Sugar Ray. Hmm. I don't even know how to explain that one away. Haha.
Counting Crows. I think my love for them began to fade when I saw them perform live for the first time. Adam Duritz doesn't just take liberties with his songs, he completely rearranges the composition when he plays them live. I've never been one to want a live performance to be a note-perfect rendition of the album track. But can it at least sound like it's in the same galaxy?
Pearl Jam. I know I'll get a fight on this one from the diehards, but I quit caring about their music three albums ago. I'm not the a-hole that thinks Ten is their best work and their only listenable material. Quite the contrary. Vitalogy, No Code, and Yield all have great tracks and shining moments. Maybe I outgrew them. Maybe they outgrew me. Sorry, Vedder.

What do you listen to now that's different from your tastes when you were younger?

Ed Note: The photo included in this blog was taken my Sophomore year of high school, at Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

RIP, Rock Star

I was recently asked which dead performer I missed out on seeing live. Two men from the same era came to mind instantly: Brad Nowell and Layne Staley.
When I first became aware of Sublime in 1994, Bradley Nowell had just overdosed on heroin. I was barely a fan before the opportunity to see him perform live went away.
Sixteen years later, I still listen to the albums fondly, but am also chilled to the core at times by how miserable he was with his life. The same can be said for Layne Staley. Reading lyrics to songs like "Down in a Hole" and "Angry Chair", it's painful and heart wrenching to imagine what his life must have been like, especially at the end. There is so much despair and desperation in the music of these two men. It is difficult to listen to, and hauntingly beautiful all at once. I have a strange fascination, that borders on obsessive, when it comes to rockstar junkies. But that is a blog for another day, my friends.

For the two or three of you that actually comment on these blogs, let me say in advance: I chose two contemporary artists, because I wasn't even alive yet when John Lennon was killed. I can't take some of the greats into consideration if I was too young or not in existence to attend a concert!

Who did you miss out on seeing live?

"Loneliness is not a phase
Field of pain is where I graze
Serenity is far away"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Music Written for Others

My friend Heather recently posed this question to me: Can music written for an artist by someone else be performed as passionately as it could be if they had composed the piece themselves? I think there are several determining factors when you pose a question like this. What is the relationship between composer and performer? Producer Linda Perry has written several songs for Pink, but they have developed a close relationship over the years that stemmed from Pink's devotion to Perry's music as a young woman. Pink felt an emotional connection to Perry's music and lyrics long before they ever collaborated together. Our emotions and experiences shape who we are, and that often translates with music, as well.
Perhaps, as a performer, you're given a piece of music that was not written by you. By putting your own heart and soul into singing and playing the piece, it in turn becomes a part of you.
On the other hand, when you see a teenager perform a love song that was clearly written by an adult, it can often be hard to swallow. The tween Disney group has yet to experience anything resembling love. There is nothing wrong with that, but they also don't have the experiences to draw upon, thereby making the performance difficult to believe.
What do you think?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Superawesome Blog Riffing Challenge

So, chatting with a friend tonight, I lamented that I'd missed several days of music blogging due to horrific illness. I wasn't feeling particularly creative, and I asked him to give me a topic. The only requisite is that it be music-related, as this is a music blog.

His topic? Lisa Loeb.

So, when "Stay" came out, it was 1994 and I didn't have the slightest clue as to what it felt like to be in love, or date a guy, or even what it was like to kiss a guy. (That'd be 1995, in the interest of full disclosure)
At the time, my tastes were all over the map, musically. I was just starting to discover music that wasn't what my parents listened to. I didn't really like female singers much, but this chick had a neat voice, and the story behind her song was ok. Further more, I wanted a few girl songs I could sing along to. That summer, I made a mixtape (Yep, remember those?) that included Warren G and Nate Dogg "Regulate", Madonna "Take a Bow", and Soundgarden "Burden in My Hand".
How's that for an interesting, if random, mix?
"Stay" was also on said mixtape, and to this day I sing it sometimes when I do karaoke. It's not usually my first choice, but every once in awhile, there's good ol' reliable Lisa Loeb.

So there's my story, and here is my call to you: I'm opening up my blog this week to topic suggestions. You can give me just a name, a genre, a song, a concept...anything music related. I have to riff on it, whether I like it or not.

Ready? Go.