24 January 2009


Combined iPod failure and computer meltdown has lead me to completely restore my hard drive. Due to my impatience/incompetence, a lot of stuff I would have liked to bring with me into the Obama administration has been left behind, sadly. Some things I will miss--like my iTunes-purchased copy of Autopsy's Mental Funeral--and I'm glad others have been left in the dust of yet another ACER Aspire 5000 malfunction. **Sigh** Damn ye, cheap technology. 

One thing I have decided to leave behind is Last.fm. This website is a great way to stay in touch with musical polymaths who have moved away (i.e. You can see what they are listening to), but be wary, because it can just as easily turn into a way of advertising your prestigious palate to others. For example, Last.fm takes a while to adjust to an abrupt shift in musical tastes, and for a while there my reignited love affair with metal led me to become thoroughly interested in out-scrobbling Devendra Banhart and Animal Collective with Black Sabbath, The Sword, and Slayer. 

My newfound clarity has shown me the error of my ways. Who cares what the rankings are? Answer: no one should. Last.fm was great, but music is truly about a personal experience, and I am now finding that an evening alone with Amon Amarth's Twilight of the Thunder Gods (especially check out "Varyags of Miklagaard") on my headphones and 4-5 beers in my belly is about one million times more rewarding than having to worry about a website truly reflecting something as personal and transient as one's current musical taste. In summation, Last.fm is damn cool, just be careful of the obsession-factor. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Viking metal to listen to and some villages to burn. 

22 January 2009


Has anyone else seen this damn commercial? I suppose it can be considered whining, but one thing I can't help but be petulant about is multinational corporations and insurance companies using rock music to sell their dirty, overpriced, blood-drenched poison-merchandise. Do whatever else you want in your commercials: list your drug's lethal side effects really fast, cast Howie Mandell in them...fuck, you can rip off Wes Anderson's indie sensibility for all I care! But one thing I will not stand for is wielding the power of ROCK for twisted, ill deeds. Fuck you, Pepsi. Fuck you, advertising world. Respect the power of rock. Face facts, people: you will never be as important and vital as this: 

18 January 2009

Bruce > Everyone Else

My dream setlist for Bruce Springsteen's Inaugural Concert:

1. "Born in the USA"
2. "American Skin (41 Shots)"
3. "American Skin (41 Shots)"
4. "American Skin (41 Shots)"
5. "American Skin (41 Shots)"
6. "American Skin (41 Shots)"
7. "Dancing in the Dark"
8. "My Love Will Not Let You Down"
9. "41 Shots (Reprise)"

Please, Bruce. Don't back down.


The Band are one of those bands (like the Grateful Dead or Metallica or Weezer or, well, all of my most favorite bands) that grabs me by my emotional testicles so hard at first that I think I hate them. If that doesn't quite make sense, what I mean is that some music generates such a powerful gut reaction that it seems like I have to go through a period of denial before I admit that, yes, this music is brutally amazing.

I had always heard the Band, primarily through an old drinking/music buddy (Shout out Mike Finn--P.S. My dad wants to remind you that you still have my bass guitar.) whose personal style closely followed Band-member Robbie Robertson. When I got a job at a crazy little bookstore in Georgetown, my exposure to the Band quadrupled, as my boss gave me the choice between Music from Big Pink or more obscure Vanguard folk stuff that I'm not that interested in, good as it may be.

At first, the voices repelled me. They sounded whiney. I didn't like the fact that they were Canadians appropriating and celebrating Americana in their songs. I didn't like their weirdness. I didn't like Garth Hudson's keyboard playing, mostly because as a teenager my parents had taken me to see a local radio concert at which he was the guest star, and during the final band he wandered on stage playing a saxophone in the middle of the set and refused to leave. (He was a very old man at that point, so only a teenager could hold that against him I guess.)

Then I got into Bob Dylan. Though they were called the Hawks at the time, most of the Band's personnel played the songs of Blonde on Blonde behind him, and their 1966 concert at Royal Albert Hall is both infamous and totally mind-blowing. That album (which I highly recommend) is where I first really listened to and fell in love with Levon Helm's drumming, which is tastefully reminiscent of Ringo Starr's perfectly-placed fills and also fucking ROCKS. Perhaps most important of all, though, was the reversal of my opinion of Garth Hudson. Rather than low-mixed old-man noodling, as I had previously thought Garth was solely capable of, I discovered vaporous, bubbling tones and brightly psychedelic organ chords, and he and Robbie Robertson's guitar solos absolutely made those Dylan songs what they are.

The Band, in my opinion, has every right to call themselves The Band because they are one of the tightest bands ever, perhaps rivalled only by the Beatles. These guys are pop geniuses, period. They are a gnarly bunch of dudes (see above album cover photo) who sound beautiful together and are also capable of true weird gold. But mostly just gold. Put this shit on your stereo, drink some wine from the bottle, and pass it to the guy/gal on your left. Or right. Whatever. Enjoy.

Albums to check out: The Band, Music from Big Pink

02 January 2009


Mainstream culture has its merits, to be sure, and I am not one to reject something based solely on the sheer number of people who appropriate it as "their own." Trouble is, sometimes the mainstream is a hot tub filled with rotting oatmeal and polluted fish carcasses (and other stuff), and it is at these times that an extended dip in a cool, refreshing smaller stream is not only nice--it's necessary. Dublab is one of those streams. 

Located in the heart of a currently interesting Los Angeles, Dublab broadcasts delishus weirdness to you and me via its website and its podcasts, which are available for free on iTunes (hint hint!). In my opinion, this podcast is required listening for the musically curious, especially at that price. 

On the bus back from the yearly family gathering that happens to coincide with a national celebration of the initiation of 3 centuries of Indian genocide, I had some time to catch up with the dublab podcasts that were in permanent back-burner exile since my re-discovery of metal, and I came across a true gem: DJ NOBODY'S BLANK BLUE (pictured above). Surprising, original, equal parts show-offy and spiritually expedient, this guy knows what he's doing, and even if he doesn't, IT'S AMAZING. It completely transformed the bus ride home--the trash and jungle rot of the I-95 shoulder was suddenly replaced by a big field of 32-bit Nintendo flora under a big weird sun. Basically, best Donkey Kong soundtrack ever. Get this shit.