Friday, October 2, 2009


So Friendly Neighborhood Records is legitimately off the ground. We have two releases out now. Monday we are releasing stuff by moon trees, Alex's (of Ghost Mall un-fame) little side project.


Download that right now. It's really good.

Ghost Mall shows coming up. Some art show after party stuff.

10/3 in Kingston
10/10 in Brooklyn


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Started a record label.

Check it out. Friendly Neighborhood Records. (blog) (myspace)

Right now this is only the creative project of Sunshower Orphans and Ghost Mall but will hopefully include material from E. Carson, Whalebeard and Cody Torlincasi among others.

We'll focus mostly on small free releases until we have the money to put out a physical release. If you like us to host one of your releases, send us an email at fnrecords [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Local Bands To Love: Wood Burning Stoves

I don't know how I haven't written about this band yet. Granted I have been slacking on these little features.

Anyway, Wood Burning Stoves are a great band from New Paltz. I have had the pleasure of playing with them on quite a few occasions. They are loud, dynamic and aggressive in the vein of Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Jawbreaker.

See for yourself.

They just released or are going to release their first album. 6 songs of distorted guitar, bass and drum goodness. Get at them at their myspace to get a hold of more of their music.


There will be some when WBS send me some!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This is living.

The centerpiece of the greatest weekend of my life.

This is Ghost Mall playing a little earlier. We hit some technical difficulties during "40 Nugs."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Balloon Ideas

This is from the show on Tuesday featuring Cameron Wisch (with video work from Eric Drasin), Elemeno, Datadog and Ghost Mall! Cameron put it together. Thanks to everyone that came and played.

This is happening!

>>====> Exciting punk/hip hop show
JULY 4th, 2009 @ Lit Fuse Cyclery
409 Willoughby AVE. Brooklyn, NY
1 to 4 pm Benefit BBQ!!! BYOB (BBBQ)

-Ghost Mall (Queens, NY Pop Dance)
--MuhammadAli (Houston, TX Hawd Raaawk)
---Ninjasonik (Brooklyn Tight Pants)
----Deathset (Gold Coast/BMORE O.G. lineup)
-----Japanther (Brooklkyn pop punk dance)
------w/ DJ Ephew (El Paso, TX elctro dance beats)

$5 - $10 dollar sliding scale. LETS DANCE!
>>===> 3000 dollar goal for Ephew's new leg

Also, Ghost Mall has five songs.

The End.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Unsubstantiated Ramblings: June 3rd, 2009

- The next great American indie rock band, Sunshower Orphans, has filled out their lineup.

- Ghost Mall is playing a killer 4th of July show. I'm pretty sure it is benefiting the good people at Showpaper. Japanther, Ninjasonik, The Death Set and Muhammad Ali are also playing.

- Holy shit, Muhammad Ali is such a good band. (More on this in the future.)

- I just started listening to the New Bad Things, J Church and Bent Outta Shape. All great bands I'll never get to see live. I hate being late to the party.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ghost Mall Update.

I needed to write something so I decided on this.

We finally had practice today. It went pretty well. My throat is a little sore but that's all part of it. We rerecorded the vox on "40 Nugs" and "Young Liars." We also came to the stunning realization that, while we did name our song after the comic book Young Liars, it is very possible that David Lapham named his comic book after the TV on the Radio song. So it has come full circle. aybe I'll change the name to "Danny & Sadie" or "Getting Your Junk Cut Off By A Midget Sucks."

We have our first summer show booked! It's at Retox with Apeshit! They're a hardcore band. I really want to play with Cerebral Ballzy. They are a great hardcore band. We also are probably playing with Japanther on July 4th. It's becoming a tradition.

Oh, and we sort of wrote a new song. More on that on June 11th.

This is a super lame post but whatevs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Local Bands To Love: Pizzza Time

Steven Barry, the drummer of my old band Hidden Power, is an extremely talented individual. This is his secretive little new project, Pizzza Time. It has the same name as a Ducktails song and I guess that's fitting because it does sound a bit like Ducktails. But on "Hope You'll Be Home" he isn't afraid to be on the much noisier end of the spectrum of this kind of tropical psychedelia. It's melded with a Black Moth Super Rainbow kind of sound too. It leaves me a little speechless. I like it because it is good. And I think I might be in the background of "Let's Just Be Friends."

Pizzza Time - "Hope You'll Be Home"
Pizzza Time - "Let's Just Be Friends"

Unsubstantiated Ramblings: May 21st, 2009

A few things to address in this edition concerning last night's St. Vincent show.

- St. Vincent was fantastic. Never change.

- Pattern Is Movement, don't play any songs without your drummer. He was my favorite part of your set besides that killer cover you did and your beards.

- When you go to a show, don't sit on the floor while you're waiting. It is very rude. Especially when you get up and then come back to find people standing where you were once sitting so you just plop yourself down on their feet. I'm looking at you guy who was actually a girl. But seriously, don't go to the show early if you're not prepared to stand for a while before a band comes on. GO SOMEWHERE WITH CHAIRS! Webster Hall has no chairs on the main floor for a REASON! This isn't a picnic. This is indie rock. Kay Booboo?

- Clapping guy. Give it up. You shouldn't clap along to every song. I will give you credit for clapping in time on every song and being a little creative but dude, once it gets so quiet that your claps are drowning out the singing, you should just stop.

- If you're going to stand against the barrier, I would hope that it's because you are a huge, huge fan of whatever band is playing. So you should probably be up there singing along, watching the band and making them feel good about their career choice. You should not be fucking around with your camera settings. You are not in the photo pit. Let the people getting paid to take the pictures, take the pictures. Your job is to watch the show and not have your camera tell you what the rule of thirds is. You want something to remember the show by? Then actually watch it! And buy a t-shirt.

- Webster Hall, turn the bass down. What's your deal? The bass is always really high at every show I go to inside of you. Chill out.

- Move over Jenny Lewis. I have a new indie rock crush. Annie Clark you have my heart. Seriously, nothing more attractive than a girl shredding on guitar.

That is all. Most of this has been a gross exaggeration.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Unsubstantiated Ramblings: May 18th, 2009

-Sunshower Orphans have rereleased their first EP, Thing We're Supposed To Forget, as a free download. You can get it HERE. It's a bit different from their more recent output but still pretty solid stuff.

-The new Sonic Youth album, The Eternal, is pretty good. It took me a while to get to it but I'm glad I did.

-I saw The Soloist last night. I was told it was awful. I thought it was okay. I wasn't feeling all the long classical music over birds flying or random colors scenes though.

-I saw Japanther on Saturday. They played for an hour and a half. I'm pretty sure I heard "Not A War" about three times. But I did get to hear a bunch of songs for the first time and THEY COVERED MY FAVORITE RAMONES SONG!

Local Bands To Love: The Touch Yourselves

I saw the Touch Yourselves last week in a kitchen in New Paltz. Their set was illuminated by an open microwave and camera flashes. Maniac drumming, catchy guitar hooks and Johnny Cash covers make them a lot like a Lightning Bolt with discernible lyrics. It is easy to see the Zach Hill/Brian Chippendale influence on drummer Devin Brown but it's nice to see that put together with something less abrasive than huge walls of noise. Devin's brother Chris can shred. 'Nuff said.

The Touch Yourselves - "We Are The Bees"
The Touch Yourselves - "(Burning) Ring of Fire"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Local Bands To Love: Sunshower Orphans

In the interest of full disclosure, Sunshower Orphans are my friends. Mike and I were in an awful band in high school that he was smart enough to get out of. Then at some point after the demise of the first incarnation of the Sunshower Orphans, he decided to quit music forever and sold all of his equipment which was a damn shame because they were responsible for one of my favorite songs of all time, "Polly Ana."

Anyway, Sunshower Orphans is back in all their 90s slacker, shoegaze-y glory (although still rounding out the live lineup) and Holiday Records is releasing a FREE digital single featuring two fantastic tracks, "Lies in Sepia" and "Manic Flaneur." Two masterpiece pop songs. Seriously. Just as good if not better than the EP they released last year.

Sunshower Orphans and Holiday Records. Doing good things.


Sunshower Orphans - Lies in Sepia Digital Single
Sunshower Orphans - "Polly Ana"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Local Bands To Love: Sharks Roar

Keys to making me like a band:
1. Write good songs.
2. Don't sing. Yell.
3. Lots of electric guitar.

Sharks Roar fulfills all three. They are a punk power trio in the vein of Jawbreaker with a little Modest Mouse thrown in for good measure. They only have a bunch of demos on their MySpace right now but honestly the quality of the songs FAR exceeds the quality of the recordings. The lyrics of "Yellow Piracy" ooze with the bark of a bittersweet lover: "I'd be happiest taking everything down with the ship. I'd be happiest taking everything down." and the music is loud and fast. My favorite is "Books" but that's just because I think that "Write a book about it!" is a great refrain. They should have their album finished and out sometime this summer. Stop listening to me. Start listening to them.

Sharks Roar - "Books (Demo)"
Sharks Roar - "Yellow Piracy (Demo)"

Friday, May 1, 2009

Alien Lanes

We finished our own lives. Now we finished off the wine. Now we're used to staying up all night. Two hearts beating OH YEAH! OH YEAH! Japandroid's "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

It's almost raining today.

My little brother's school was the one that had the Swine Flu outbreak. I think the whole Swine Flu thing is a bit silly. Diseases are dangerous but this one is dangerous to Mexico and babies only. If you start feeling sick, go to the doctor. This super flu is treatable. Everyone stop freaking out.

The semester is winding down. Ghost Mall has been going pretty well. We have our seventh show tomorrow. We still have only 4 songs but hopefully that'll change soon. I guess 7 shows isn't that big a deal either but considering Hidden Power had only 8 in 6 months, 7 in 1 is pretty good. The plan is to write a few more, record them and shop them around to a couple of labels. Maybe put out a 7"

Oh check out this band, Sharks Roar. Killer dudes. Killer tunes. Like a more melodic, less abrasive Jawbreaker.

My external hard drive decided to delete all of my Pavement. Bummer.

Summer is almost upon us. So time to break out the summer records. Here's a list of favorite summer records of mine.

Desaparecidos - "Read Music/ Speak Spanish"
Japandroids - "Post-Nothing"
Guided By Voices - "Alien Lanes"
Japanther - "Skuffed Up My Huffy"
Pavement - "Slanted and Enchanted"
UGK - Any and everything.

That's the short list. I'm really digging that Japandroids record and Guided By Voices lately.

Just about time for band practice. Playing with Terror Pigeon tomorrow!

What are you doing?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Little Rebellion!

I am a Web Editor for a new online publication that caters to the New Paltz community.

Check it out!

In other news:
-The new Dirty Projectors is great.
-I can't stop reading "Scott Pilgrim"
-Listen to Plumtree's Predicts The Future

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scary Monsters and Superfolks

Love has that funny way of finding you when you look away. It happens every single day. Don't believe me look it up. Lima Research Society's "Magic Juice Box"

So I've been reading Robert Mayer's Superfolks and it is one of the most refreshing things I've read in a long time. For those not in the know, this book was published in the '70s. It is almost a prototype for the deconstruction of superheroes that would be seen in Watchmen and Miracleman. But this book is much funnier than those books set out to be. Our hero is from the planet Cronk. He is basically a Superman analogue who has all the powers but when he uses his x-ray vision for checking out women he always runs into something.

He can be weakened by Cronkite. Hilarious!

The book is riddled with little digs at movie stars and obscure pop culture references. Which, while it is a treasure trove for a junkie like me, frames the story so well. He lives in the same world as our favorite heroes. But they are dead and he is forty.

My friend picked up Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's Umbrella Academy recently. Originally, I was out off by a musician making a comic book. Even though I have a soft spot for all of MCR's albums (you chalk it up to some high school nostalgia but The Black Parade was a pretty fun exercise is raising glam from the dead). The first arc is pretty fantastic but I hate that there isn't more of this book. I want to know everything about the characters. It bothered me that I didn't know more. It was like coming into a movie halfway through. I suppose that that is just the literary device that is easiest to use for a rock star who is constantly on the road. Still, it's frustrating.

In other news, my band played it's first show. It went well. We played three songs in a black-lit room. Tons of bands played: Cameron Wisch, Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt!, Math the Band, Lima Research Society, Landlords, Elemeno Pete, Santa Dads. It was a good day. Cameron Wisch really blew me away. He used to drum for Ra Ra Riot. Definitely one of the sickest drummers I've ever seen.

We have another show on Friday. Zombie-style.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Now at midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row"

Watchmen was much better the second time around on a screen bigger than my house when I wasn't pressed up against the front of the theater, needing to basically lay down in my seat to actually see. (Damn New Paltz Cinemas!)

After watching it the first time I was kind of mystified by it. I mean, they did it. Filmed the unfilmable and all that jazz. Couple of problems though.

1. The soundtrack was too loud and no one should have sex to Leonard Cohen. That man's gravely voice will have you losing wood faster than Rue McClanahan naked on a freezing winter day.

2. Malin Akerman is the worst actress ever. She ruined just about every scene she was in.

3. The resolution of the movie took too long. After the plot is revealed, it should've been Rorschach dies, Nite Owl gets mad and cut to the newspaper scene. cue credits and bad MCR cover of Dylan.

4. The Dr. Manhattan/ Silk Spectre scene on Mars was completely unsatisfying. (See #2)

5. I wish Ozymandias wasn't so villainous. And I wish Matthew Goode was a better actor.

Watching it the second time, I was distracted by less things like the gratuitous amounts of violence and blood and all the annoying slow motion. I think the movie is really as faithful an adaptation we'll ever see. Almost everything is covered. Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis' homosexuality is alluded to. The Rorschach scenes are fantastic.

I was much more skeptical a few days after the first time around. The message of the material does change through this adaptation but I think that the book just takes the film's resolution ne step further. In the book, I like tot think that there is world peace for a split second before the Squid wipes everything out. The movie just never lets the world end.

Maybe it's too nicely packaged. But maybe that was the only way to do it.

Oh, and go watch those opening credits at least. They are easily my favorite part of the movie, Jackie Earle Haley not included.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rebirthed Like a Phoenix Through the Spirit of the Beat published one of my pieces today!

It is called "Rebirthed Like a Phoenix Through the Spirit of the Beat"

Here's the beginning:

The walls are sweating. I’m sweating. I’m stepping on someone’s broken beer bottle and a large plank of wood just fell from the ceiling. Feedback rips through the room. The basement is packed like the E train during rush hour. A broken chair, a mop and scraps of duct tape litter the floor. They used to be a mic stand. The crowd looks on expectantly, straining to see over each other. I quiet them down.

You can read the rest here.

This feels really good. Thanks AP.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Endings: Slumdog Millionaire and Joss Whedon Says Something I've Always Said

I will go where I will go, and I will jettison all dead weight, and I will use these words for kindling, and I will sleep by the garden gate. My garden will grow so high. My garden will grow so high that I will be completely hidden. The Mountain Goats' "Island Garden Song"

It may be a little late to talk about the Oscars but whatever.

Since "Slumdog Millionaire" won all those awards, I've been thinking about why it was so successful. Now I liked 'Slumdog.' I went to go see it without any preconceived notions or ideas about it and came out of the theater pretty happy that I had seen it. It was the feel good hit of the year and certainly that added to it's popularity.

But I can't help but think that movies like 'Slumdog' make us, as Americans, that much more desensitized to the world around around us. Some atrocious things happen in that movie but in the end the hero gets the girl, wins the money and everything is great. I feel like this movie has (incorrectly) given people the right to think that they don't have an obligation to help those in need because hey, they win a million dollars. I realize that I'm really not giving people a lot of credit but I think people rally behind movies like this because recognizing something like it seems like doing some sort of favor to those involved in making it.

Maybe I'm being too cynical.

In other, geekier news Joss Whedon (creator of Firefly and Serenity among other fantastic things) agrees with me. I have always said that the reason that Marvel Comics just work better is because their characters always seem more human. Even Thor bides his time between immortal god and human doctor! Of course, I will give that Batman has all the qualities of great Marvel characters. Mr. Whedon does have a point there. Still Spider-Man. He's from Queens. I could practically be him.


Glad to have good ol' Joss on my side.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I feel so dumb

Sometimes, when sailors are sailing,they think twice, about where they're anchoring and I think I could make better time of my time on land. I'll drink less 'cause lord knows I could use a warm kiss instead of a cold goodbye. I'm writing the folks back home to tell them "hey im doing alright" The Format's "If Work Permits"

This post will make me sound selfish and immature. You'll probably I am spoiled and have entitlement issues. Just warning you.

It all ended last year. It was early February. It didn't seem real. It didn't seem definite, more like a cruel April Fool's joke played 2 months too early. We didn't talk, I mean, we couldn't. There were a few vague internet postings and that was it. The Format broke up. A band I considered a favorite of mine since high school and one of the only ones to truly endure into college was finished. So I stopped listening to them. Cold turkey.

I thought I could avoid the new bands pretty easily and I did.

But today I found out that fun is touring with Manchester Orchestra and I will have to see them live.

This is the biggest problem in my life right now.

Poor me right?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Everyone is wasted as a means of getting through.

"Is tomorrow just a day like all the rest." How could you know just what you did? So full of faith yet so full of doubt I ask. Time and time again you said don't be afraid. Jimmy Eat World's "Goodbye Sky Harbour"

Japanther came to New Paltz yesterday.It was fantastic. I haven't seen them since September. It was like being reunited with old friends. They asked about Hidden Power and were kinda bummed when I told them we broke up. Those guys are without a doubt two of the hardest working musicians in music today. They were in Louisiana yesterday morning, got back to the city at 5pm and made it up to New Paltz at 930. They played from 11-1130 then drove back to Brooklyn to play another show at 1am. Insane.

I was talking to Matt about journalism and stuff. It was their first time in New Paltz. He told me about this documentary called Rock My Religion. Basically this conceptual artist, Dan Graham, made a film between 1982-1984 about how rock n' roll is the America religion for the secular era. I'm trying to get my hands on a copy of it. It seems pretty interesting.

Aha! I've found it. You can watch it here.

I get to wallow in some nostalgia tomorrow night. Jimmy Eat World's Clarity tour with my best friend. The last time we saw Jimmy Eat World was with Green Day and Against Me! at Giants Stadium like four years ago. I was standing in the second row and I might have a few tears squeak out during "A Praise Chorus." JEW was definitely one of the band that shaped my love of music. They were one of the first bands I was ever really passionate about. One of the only bands I would wait with bated breath for that Tuesday that a new record would come out and actually spend my meager high school income on when I knew I could get it for free on the internet. I mean say what you want about them. Are they changing music? No. Do they mean a lot to a lot of people? Sure. That's what keeps rock n' roll alive. If there's no one to believe in it, what's the point?

My girlfriend has a Mohawk and lightning bolts shaved into the sides of her head. Also, I hated Spiderman of the Rings but Dan Deacon's new album Bromst is pretty impressive.

Stay celebs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Soul Rebels

Underground classics is what they used to say before. Now we break the surface quiet like an alligator nose. They hate it, cuz they know if they don't get it, then they may be slow. We still gonna blow like the horn played by Horatio Talib Kweli's "Soul Rebels"

What purpose does music criticism serve? At least book critics write. Music critics aren't always musicians. My friend Mike and I got on the topic yesterday. Mike is a fantastic musician. We had a band together back in high school. He's going to be a lawyer when he grows up. Here's just the good stuff.

Me: I mostly hate GnR (and hair metal in general) because bastards like Chuck Klosterman revel in the nostalgia of it to the point where he actually gave Chinese Democracy a A-. People will take that seriously
Mike: I don't read him; He's a joke.
Me: And then everyone in my journalism classes wants to write like him. I mean, I used to read him a lot but after reading some of it, you start to see right through him.
Mike: Extended pieces on music are pitiful. Keep it to 1,000 words or learn to play an instrument.
Me: His sports pieces are his best works, I think.
Mike: Never read 'em. But I don't know anything about sports.
Me: You have no idea how annoying it is for every asshole who wants to do entertainment journalism to say in class "Well I'm really inspired by Klosterman's style and blahblahblah." He's just a watered down Lester Bangs Severely watered down.

Of course this led to a couple of much bigger topics.

Mike: Idols in criticism are all a farce. Trying to live vicariously through people they wish they could be.
Me: Isn't that how so many things start though? Wanting to be your idols?
Mike: Absolutely, but it doesn't translate well into a different medium. In this case, anyway. Like Hunter S. Thompson. It's funny that people who consider themselves liberal freethinkers enjoy him because he is simply one big self-celebration.
Me: And a gun toting maniac.
Mike: That too.
Me: He is a helluva writer though.
Mike: He is an OK writer, but what he stands for needs to be forgotten.
Me: I don't think it needs to be forgotten entirely.
Mike: Remembered only for the sake of avoidance. See, emulation is good when it's Kevin Shields emulating the Jesus and Mary Chain. But only because Kevin Shields had talent and vision. However, while everyone has the ability to emulate, not everyone has talent and vision. So not only do you get Hunter S. Thompson, but you get the people in our generation who think he's cool, and who try to live that lifestyle, when they are really just selfish suburban idiots who will never accomplish anything. Emulation becomes infinitely reductive, you see, until the very last person has no ideas whatsoever and is as much a spoonfed drone as middle management at Citibank.
Me: I couldn't agree with you more. But I don't think that there is a better system in place for recognizing innovation. Every year albums are praised for bringing back old genres and lost influences. Movies win awards for being adaptations or biopics and true geniuses aren't recognized until after their time. What's the solution to that? How do we stop making copies of copies?
Mike: Human ingenuity. It's like evolution. There is a germ of something new in the midst of everything that is borrowed or stolen. Like the last Animal Collective record. I mean, you can throw "Beach Boys" at that but you'd be grasping for straws. There are no real reference points.
Me: I would only throw "Beach Boys" at a few vocal parts. Not much else.
Mike: The point is that the whole thing put together has no predecessor and that's where innovation comes in. And i wouldn't say geniuses are ALWAYS ignored in their time. The Arcade Fire's records get a lot of hype and i think that's justified.
Me: Yeah. They don't always get ignored but when they are realized they are marginalized by the hype machine.
Mike: Well that's a separate point altogether. I agree with that.
Me: How are you innovating? How is your art evolving then?
Mike: It changes as your life circumstances change. For a long time I didn't have time to listen to a lot of music and yet I still found myself heading in a million different directions. In every change in timbre, or arrangement, there is something new. I've been sampling a lot more lately--am i the first person to sample? No. But I can't name many other records that mix hip hop/soul samples with dreary shoegaze guitar. That doesn't even mean it's necessarily good--there are just so many variables in music that to attribute every potential outcome to a predecessor is impossible. I mean your point is well taken, and it's the basic postmodernist viewpoint that dominates a lot of music criticism (especially Chris Ott, et al) But that's why you have to think like a musician instaed of a critic.
Me: So you're saying the best music critics are musicians? I guess I can get behind that. Although, anytime I've ever been in a band, I tend to appreciate the bands I play with more openly than if I wasn't. But i suppose that's a good thing. Most bands have something good going on even if its not incredibly clear at first listen.
Mike: That's exactly what I'm saying, yes. I mean, to put it impolitely at least book critics are writers and a lot of them have indeed written books themselves. Bob Dylan made this same point when he put out his memoir.
Me: That's why I never review bands I don't like.
Mike: Haha, well i would never take it that far.
Me: I mean, I never review Coldplay because I don't like them. I know I'll write a negative review.
Mike: Yeah, I could get behind that. I think SOMEONE has to do it, because not everyone listens to music within the indie paradigm. But if you don't want to, as a critic, you shouldn't
Me: But i will review the new Deerhunter record because I like them and if they make a bad record I can honestly review it as something that disappointed me
Mike: Yeah, that's a fair distinction.
Me: There is no point in being negative for the sake of being negative.
Mike: It's not the stream of things you would consider transcendent.
Me: Right. That's a main problem I have with Pitchfork.
Mike: Well, I think there is definitely a time and a place for that. That's the function of criticism, lol. But yes, if you mean should Pitchfork be reviewing Coldplay and mainstream rap or whatever. I don't think they should either.
Me: Not only that. They assign more than one writer to review a band over time. The guy who reviews a band's first album doesn't always get to review their second album. I understand trying to get varied opinions but I think that first guy has a bit more clout.

And now the ever-present grading discussion.

Mike: To tell you the truth, I don't respect music criticism in general. It can serve a utilitarian purpose, which listeners need. But as far as, should whatever point system rating some dickhead in chicago gave to an album matter to me? I don't think it should.
Me: I never give albums grades. I refuse.
Mike: Now granted, it's a great guide, and Pitchfork serves that purpose.
Me: True.
Mike: It can be your older friend who knows cool stuff.
Me: But what does 6.8 mean?
Mike: Right, that's my point. It means something different to everyone. Which is why I think the whole thing as an enterprise is flawed, but I know that's a minority opinion especially within my group of friends.
Me: Exactly. I think some music criticism is great. Trend pieces, profiles on scenes and bands even show reviews but album reviews give me a hard time.
Mike: Right, I would agree with that.

And now, the institution of music criticism/writing/journalism. Whatever you want to call it.

Mike: I'm also not a fan of the Lester Bangs experimental type pieces. It's like... write a novel, or join a band.
Me: Oh I love them and he had a band!
Mike: Yeah, and it sucked.
Me: At least he had the balls to do it. You think Chuck Klosterman is gonna go start a hair metal band?
Mike: The thing is, music criticism never ILLUMINATES anything for me. The one time that has ever happened for me, has been Bangs writing about Astral Weeks.
Me: Excellent album.
Mike But still, I would rather listen to Astral Weeks than read Lester Bangs writing about Astral Weeks. I don't know. It just strikes me as so peanut gallery. So little kids wanting to do what the big kids do.
Me: Yeah but some people wouldn't listen to Astral Weeks if Lester Bangs didn't write about it.
Mike: I don't think I'd give him or any critic that much credit. Good music finds its way back to the mainstream anyway.
Me: But that was the case for some people.
Mike: Hell, music itself serves that purpose and word of mouth.
Me: But some failed musicians wanted jobs close to something they like and some writers don't have the cajones to pick up a guitar.
Mike: Then that's their flaw, not their gift. It doesn't take much. Look at the Ramones. You dont even have to care. I don't see why it has to be canonized as a respectable "art form," "music criticism"
Me: I don't think it should be canonized.
Mike: But it is. It's an institution
Me: It's hobby writing.
Mike: Well, as long as you realize that, that's the point I'm trying to make. Pitchfork/sites like it/blogs try to put it into a whole new paradigm and get paid a lot of money/attention for doing it. But most importantly, writing about music will never get you laid as much as playing it.
Me: Most importantly.
Mike: Well you know, it would be pretentious to say that any musician is bereft of that motive somewhere inside him/herself
Me: That's the only reason I try singing.
Mike: Haha. That's the most honest thing you've said so far. And I mean, it doesn't even negate the product. Like i was saying before about what makes things innovative--it's all circumstance. If the Ramones made music today, no one would give a damn but they made music where and when they did, so they mattered.
Me: I would!
Mike: You'd be alone. I'm sorry.
Me: I love the Ramones
Mike: So do I. But I mean, to clarify my point on innovation, I'm saying that they would not matter nearly as much.

The usefulness of music criticism.

Mike: Circumstance. The extramusical stuff, historically. That matters too and that's another place where critics could potentially be useful
Me: Documenting history? Recognizing something new?
Mike: Yes, both of those things. In one sense, as i said, your point is right, everything has SOME precedent, but at the same time, it doesn't matter if anything *IS* new. It matters if it SOUNDS new to the people listening to it at the time, so that they get lost in the experience.
Me: Agreed.
Mike: But again it's very risky because everyone's got their own thing to say, their own backgrounds to take to writing. And as you said sometimes truly great things get ignored--now who would you blame that on? Obviously not the musician
Me: Not at all. Circumstance.
Mike: Right. Which encompasses people too. i.e., critics, fans
Me: Yeah I'm just trying to get out of this with my career intact. Haha.
Mike: I mean like I said, it definitely serves a purpose. I wouldn't know a lot of the music I do without it. But at the same time, a deconstructed community can serve that same purpose and also be more fluid and less institutional.
Me: But there comes a point where you have to question the vaildity of it all.
Mike: Now you're getting it, but I would take that much further. You ALWAYS question the validity of it. That is your STARTING point.
Me: I think the Internet is that deconstructed community.
Mike: To an extent, but even then you have to clarify. Message boards, yes. Blogs that post records, yes. Review sites, not necessarily.
Me: But with so many people telling you their opinions you can truly sort out what is what. You can decide for yourself whats valid and what isn't.
Mike: Precisely.
Me: Things without grading scales.
Mike: But that means you have to approach everything with skepticism, rather than awe/idolization
Me: By doing so you recognize others' awe/idolization and even hatred in an effort to make your own decision.
Mike: Indeed.

I realize I didn't do much talking there. But I agree with a lot of what he said. As I've continued on my path as a Journalism major I've been moving farther and farther from straight music criticism. In the form of album reviews anyway. I have a lot more fun writing literary journalism pieces about other things. I mean I still have some pretty intense feelings towards bands I like and bands I don't. But I mostly don't want to write about bands I don't like. Where's is the merit in ripping a band to shreds? I guess it depends. If Japanther put out a really terrible record, I would be pretty angry and probably write a pretty bad review. In that case I think it's okay. I'm allowed to be angry at my favorite band. But am I allowed to hate The Fray's album when I went into the record knowing I didn't like the band already? That's a gray area. They could pleasantly surprise me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The answer is right under your nose.

All is well for now but hell is far too close to turn this car around when the only ones making any sense are playing kickball and smoking candy cigarettes. This Is My Suitcase's "Some Grand Romantic Gesture"

I loathe Valentine's Day. Consequently, I had a pretty good one. No reservations. No grand romantic gestures. (Partly because I don't think there is such a thing as a grand romantic gesture if you waited to do it as obvious a day as Valentine's Day) No nothing. Stayed home. Ate store-bought sushi. Played (and won) Trivial Pursuit. Watched a movie. Went to bed. Total cost? About 12 bucks.

My mom and I talked. Both of my parents are born again Christians. Somehow we got on the subject of faith and the Bible on the way home from the grocery store. The grocery store! That's an awfully short trip for such heavy topics. I think that it all started from some mention of my mother's disapproval of "the homosexual lifestyle." Not hatred of the people themselves. Just the lifestyle. Her words not mine. We agreed to never agree with each other on that. But that ultimately led to our faith discussion.

I told her that I do believe in some sort of higher being. I mean that only makes sense right? It had to all start somewhere. Could be God. Could be Allah. Could be Bruce Springsteen. I don't know. But there must be something bigger. I mean people in churches go nuts sometimes. Not in an actually crazy way but more in a "Wow they've got some passion" way. But I've never been jealous of that. I've always had that.

I feel close to god sometimes. Not in big churches. Usually much smaller spaces. And everyone around me is smiling and dancing. Everyone has their hands up. Kids are flying with a little help from their friends and strangers. All the girls' make-up is running but no one is crying. Everyone is singing hard. Everyone knows all the words. I got there clean and I'll leave with a little bit of everyone on me. Whoever is behind that microphone speaks the truth. There is no doubt about that. It's been documented in vinyl grooves scratching along in our bedrooms.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blank Generation

To hold the t.v. to my lips, the air so packed with cash. Then carry it up flights of stairs and drop it in the vacant lot. To lose my train of thought and fall into your arms' tracks and watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot. -Richard Hell and the Voidoids' "Blank Generation"

This is a column I wrote this week for The Oracle.

Blank Generation

A friend of mine said on Monday night that it was completely inappropriate for Barack Obama to be asked a question about Alex Rodriguez’s recent outing as a steroid user during a press conference about the recession. I adamantly disagreed, as did the other two people in the room.

The one non-believer stated that in reality, baseball has nothing to do with the recession. Baseball is just something trivial and we would understand his point if the president was asked a question about “American Idol.”

He obviously does not understand the magnitude of A-Rod’s betrayal.

Click here to continue reading.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Got no car. Got no money.

But I let you down and swollen and small is where you'll find me now with that silver stripping off from my tongue you're tearing out and you'll never hear me talk
- Neutral Milk Hotel's "Where You'll Find Me Now"

Vassar kind of looks like Hogwart's. (Not that I like Harry Potter. I'm not one of those obsessives that can find a reference to that kid wizard (kizard??) in everything. Just making an observation) Big trees, scary buildings, spooky night. It all adds up.

Most importantly, the reason I was there was to see Nodzzz (!) and Wavves (!!). The show was in the basement of one of the buildings. I think it was called the College Center. Whatever it was, it was the biggest building on campus. The basement was a bar and the bartender looks miserable. I guess all old, black bartenders who are working at a college where an arty punk show is happening look that miserable on a weeknight.

The first band that played was Bird Names
. They were a five member kind of psychy, kind of folky, kind of poppy band. They call it intuitive pop. I don't call it that. I call it I-like-that-you-have-a-singing-saw-but-besides-one-song-that-sounded-like-a-spazzy-60s-pop-song-I don't-give-a-shit-you-sound-like-band-practice-by-people-on-drugs. The band looked straight out of episode of Pete & Pete. One of the guitarists looked like he should be in the Melvins and I'm pretty sure that the other one didn't play his guitar. It looked like he just shook while standing on the balls of his feet and strummed furiously while hoping the right sounds came out. The second drummer/singer told us that they would trade prescription pills for merch. Well fucking a. I have nothing against people who want to do drugs. Whatever. Just don't be so fucking obnoxious and by obnoxious I mean don't look stoned out your mind all the time and think that everything that comes out of your mouth is hilarious. It's not cute. All that being said the band had a few good tunes. Artie, the strongest man in the world must be proud to call these kids his neighbors. I'm partly a sucker for chanting songs. Basically anything gang vocal-esque is good in my book. They had a couple of those. The last song was especially good.

Nodzzz took over from there and everyone ventured onto the wooden dancefloor part of the room where Bird Names had previously been sprawled across. Nodzzz is only three guys. No bass. No bullshit. Their record is only 15 minutes long. 'Nuff said. They opened with my favorite song, "Controlled Karaoke." That got everyone doing that awkward kind of bend at the knees bop along move that you do when don't really want to/ can't really jump up and down. Plus enthusiasm isn't always cool to show (duh). Nodzzz also asked for prescription medicine. Mostly amoxicillin though.

The crowd was weird. It was a lot like any of the shows that I might be at at home. I mean none of these kids would look out of place at The Market Hotel. You had some boys with skinny pants, plaid shirts, beards and red Steve Zissou hats and girls who refuse to believe that tights aren't pants. (They aren't. I don't care how long your shirt is. It's not okay.) Did I mention how beautiful people at Vassar are? Well, yeah. I'm convinced that prettier people go to schools that I don't go to.

Nodzzz finished in what seemed like 10 minutes. It very well may have been. Wavves was up next. First thing I noticed was the awful/great rat tail he had going on. Second thing I noticed was how small he was. I mean not in a bad way. I'm just usually surprised because I assume that people I've never met/seen are the same size as me. But I am a giant so that is usually never the case. Plus guys in bands are usually small(er). That's a gross generalization. Wavves played stuff from all their releases. Surfy, No Age-y stuff. Got the crowd doing the whole let's sway til we fall over or the one guy who is jumping up and down smashes our feet. This time I was the guy jumping (and smashing, I suppose).

I realized that people love clapping. Little Wavves kept loosing his guitar cable from his guitar during his little rock out session and everyone jumped in with that: clapclap clap clapclap clap. Seriously. Who doesn't love the anthemic drum beats that allow for that kind of clapping. It was happening all night. For every band!

Woods closed the night out
. They had a sound manipulator guy on the floor and I really like the band they used to be. But I was just kind of underwhelmed by them. Wavves had me so pumped that I couldn't properly enjoy Woods' mellow pop. I also didn't see the need for the sound manipulator guy although I suppose I would notice his absence. He just looked silly on the floor. They closed with a Dead cover. Milkmen that is. Good on 'em.

I love free shows.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tramps like us.

Everybody needs a place to rest. Everybody wants to have a home. Don't make no difference what nobody says, ain't nobody like to be alone. - Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart"

Late nights are especially conducive to writing. Late nights are also especially good times for Paul Baribeau and Ginger Alford covers of Bruce Springsteen. I'm going to continue blaming my recent Boss kick on Kurt Warner and this.

It has occurred to me that Kurt Warner is a living Bruce Springsteen song. A mix between "Born to Run," "Long Time Comin'" and "Glory Days" with a touch of "Queen of the Supermarket." Let's take a look at the facts.

1. Bruce Springsteen writes a bunch of songs about the triumphs and failures of working-class Americans.
2. Kurt Warner was a working class American who was a stock boy at a grocery store after getting cut by the Green Bay Packers.
3. Bruce Springsteen has written a song that takes place in a supermarket.
4. Kurt kept trying and eventually became the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. He won a Super Bowl and a bunch of awards. He hit a rough patch and then made a stunning comeback.
5. He even married his wife before he was rich and famous! And she was a divorcee with two kids! And her parents died in a tornado! Her life was probably also written by Bruce which is why she married Kurt Warner.

This shit belongs on "Born to Run."

Two questions:
Is Bruce Springsteen God?
If he isn't, how did he write Kurt Warner's life?

I am blown away.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Way to go, Kurt.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing, through the graves the wind is blowing, freedom soon will come; then we'll come from the shadows. - Leonard Cohen's "The Partisan."

I never root for the winning team in the Super Bowl. Maybe it's some sort of aversion I have toward winning that comes from being a Jet fan. At least it's not like last year. Still I really thought that Arizona had a shot. I used to really love Kurt Warner. Being 11 years old and thinking that if I could just get a job at a grocery store then I too could become an NFL quarterback fueled many hours of Madden and alleyway football with all the other kids on the block. Whichever team JT was on always won.

So today to celebrate the greatest game on the gridiron, I ate too many chicken wings and listened to John Madden babble about things that everyone could obviously see. It made the extremely pedestrian first three quarters a bit more interesting though. Probably the best part of the game was The Boss at halftime. Now I'm not sure if he meant to slide crotch first into the camera or you just couldn't stop sliding in time but everyone in my suite was glad to have gotten a face full of a working class American hero. He was really hamming it up too. There was even a little planned skit thing with one of the referees and then Steve Van Zandt yelled that it was "Boss Time!" Cue fireworks, screaming fans and more pigskin.

The commercials weren't spectacular this year. I think advertisers really phoned it in. The best commercial involved a koala with a British accent getting punched in the face. Good work Too bad I'll still never use your website.

Oh, this made me pretty happy to read about probably because bowel movements have been on the brain since my roommates have all been trying (only some succeeding) to light their farts on fire. Apparently putting subliminal messages in poetry in bathroom stalls stops people from using as much TP. Good to know. Thanks, Japan.

The Oracle starts back up this week. More long hours and the dreaded orange office.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thanks Grandma.

Hard work helps the time go by. Hard work helps the time go by. - Paul Baribeau's "Hard Work"

My roommates are drinking awful scotch whiskey. We had a discussion about where is came from. I said Scotland but my roommates were thrown off by the inclusion of scotch and whiskey in the title.

Some excerpts:
"Whiskey is only brewed in America. If it's not made here, then it's bourbon."
"This smells terrible."
"Where did we get this?"
"Alex's grandma gave him like 6 bottles of booze."

As it turns out Inver House Very Rare Scotch Whiskey, is made by a Thai company. But Scotch whiskey is whiskey made in Scotland. You be the judge.

I've been looking at tons of internships. I can't wait to not have a job. I'm pretty sure my dad is still hoping I'll be a doctor. I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed with everything that goes into to eventually finishing college. Paper work, health insurance, hopefully not living at home. I wonder why I couldn't just go into something more sensible but then I remember that at least being a writer is a rewarding kind of misery. I submitted a piece I wrote for class to another publication. Waiting to hear back now.

The perfect song for this entry just came on. Yeasayer's "2080"

I can’t sleep when I think about the times we’re living in,
I can’t sleep when I think about the future I was born into

Yeasayer reminds of what a more focused Animal Collective would sound like in a future where they don't want to fuck with you. Much more straightforward. Less wankery. I mean Animal Collective is good but come on. Sometimes you want to know what a band is saying to you. Gotta love all the yelping they do though. Anyway, "2080" is all about the future not being everything you thought it would be. But I guess you just have to give it a shot despite that. I think that's something that we can all relate to: nothing living up to our expectations and preconceived notions.

That's all today.

Goodnight, cool world.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The things I love all have one thing in common

I really enjoy talking to Josh about music. We don't understand each others' tastes sometimes but we can usually have pretty intense discussions. After his show the other night we had one such discussion that began because of his band's complete lack of respect for the trailblazing and quintessential sounds of At the Drive-In and the search for a reasonable definition of post-hardcore.

I'm still completely dumbfounded that his bandmates give The Used any credit for anything that isn't managing to use chains in a song (See: That John Lennon song they covered) and being to blame for all the mall punks. Meanwhile, they have the nerve to say that At the Drive-In sucks. I understand that I'm a little too obsessed with music history and stuff and I understand that one of the original points of hardcore was to forget all the music that came before and create something new but not for nothing all these post-hardcore bands sound kind of samey. So I don't think they should act above a band that really paved the way for them.

I got a little off track there. Josh ended up talking about how he doesn't think he could ever have a meaningful relationship with a girl that doesn't appreciate Saves the day the same way he does. I'm glad that I have enough people in my life that I share music and ideas with that that isn't a specific criteria for a life partner for me. But I know EXACTLY where he's coming from. What's the point of spending your time with someone that doesn't absolutely love certain things the same way you do? Sure, opposites attract but is attraction enough?

I always get bummed out when someone doesn't like a song or band I recommend to them. Unfortunately, we can't force everyone we meet to see through the green glasses of our own Emerald City. But if you can't come with me to see Japanther and have fun or you can't listen to the Weakerthans' Left and Leaving without it breaking your heart or you refuse to understand why a band like At the Drive-In works me up into a frenzy of air guitar moves, jumping off shit and drooling all over myself because my mind is just completely blown each and every time, then I don't know why we even speak to each other. The things I love all have one thing in common: they are mostly impossible to explain to everyone I meet and at the same time I cannot stop talking about them.

My favorite feeling in the world is someone saying to me "Hey man, I checked out X Band and I love Y Song. Thank you so much. I get it now." Usually it's not in those exact words but you get it.

There is a flip side though. I hate letting people I'm the biggest fans of in on my little secret. Which in and of itself is a ridiculous sentiment to harbor but you know, certain things are ours. Certain things we consider a part of us. Why would I give someone I don't like an arm or a kidney?

That's preposterous but everyone is like that about something.

Time to sleep. School might not be canceled tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm awful at this. I never blog.

So I didn't do a best of 08 list this year. (Last year? Whatever. I'm still writing 08 after all my dates)

As far as disappointments go. I didn't have many. Japanther let me down a bit. But Skuffed Up My Huffy is probably better than anything they'll ever release. Fuck. I don't even remember what else I listened to.

No Age was good. The Mae Shi was good. My friends Frat Dad put out some phenomenal demos. I was feeling The Black Lips, Parts and Labor, Jay Reatard and Times New Viking. Lots of loud, noisy boy music. Deerhunter put out three good releases.

The last album I bought was Q-Tip's The Renaissance. It mostly made me want A Tribe Called Quest.

Los Campesinos! put out two albums I really liked. I even really liked The Black Kids album because that didn't want to be anything more than just a pop record.

In 2007, I gave album of the year to Lifetime's self-titled comeback album.

This year, I'll give it to The Gaslight Anthem. Springsteen punks.