That's when I drove East down 1-12 from Baton Rouge to Mandeville to pick up my stepbrother who stayed with his friend through Katrina. Even my quaint little suburban town, which is separated from New Orleans by a 24 mile bridge, wasn't safe. Instead of flooding, there were trees everywhere. Through stores. Through cars. Six through my dad's house. Two feet of water in my mom's house.
These are the tracks of a Hurricaned House.
Now, I'm laying in bed, on the third floor, waiting for Gustav. I have beer. I have pop tarts. I have enough clean boxers and shirts when the power goes out.
This week, I was going to talk about Viral Marketing, but by this time tomorrow, I'm unsure if I'll have power at all. Who knows when this thing will ACTUALLY hit.
Mother nature is a reluctant bitch. Reluctant enough to take our property through absolute chaos. Right now, mother nature wants to put a smile on that face of mine.
So I am here today to inform you that I will be bringing some photos around Baton Rouge and a report of how bad it was or wasn't.
And if you don't here from me. I died of either being struck by something by wind or the pop tarts ran out. I would think the later would be a more interesting story to tell in line at the gates.
To my Louisiana brethren, stay safe. Guess mother nature isn't a Tigers fan?
This is only an attempt. Because I don't think like everyone else.
I have contacted Mr. Tate on several occasions for a number of articles I was working on to get an opinion on certain subjects. I have gotten little to no response. But before everyone starts the hate on Tate (HA!)l, the man is busy, and I respect and understand this immensely.
But there's a hurricane supposedly heading up the Mississippi River's ass at the moment, and everything is beginning to sound reminiscent of a few years ago.
In my marketing class yesterday, I was given an assignment. I would have to talk to one successful person and ask that person what three things (even if the answer was sex drugs and rock and roll) made and continue to make their business successful.
Again, I could just ask my boss at the restaurant I work at, but I think and reach out further.
If you read this, at all, would you list the three reasons that your little college project (to my understanding) became and continues to be a success?
Thank you for your time.
For now, I have to go pick up beer and pop tarts before Kellogs starts gouging prices.
I'm 22 years old after Friday. Today, I continue the long road to 23. Not that really shitty movie with Jim Carrey, but the age when you are completely on your own with no health and dental, graduated and starting into the mirror with a, "What the fuck do I do now?" look on your face.
But as I sit on the balcony typing this, while Fay pours on my car to rust it over more than it already is, I have a lot to think about, and appreciate. So this thought drives down the left lane of this post.
In the right lane, I've been listening to a lot of older music lately. Wait, not exactly older, but let's narrow it down to albums I gave a few listens to and then decided to take out another day. "Those albums." The ones I took off a friends iPod to give a listen because I "heard good things" about or it "makes a statement about the music that came after." This is my ride in the right lane of thought.
So, now I look up, and there's a left lane ends into a one lane road sign. And here we go.
This summer has been a long adventure of going places unexpected. And I can honestly say that I haven't picked up on a lot of newer artists as a soundtrack to that adventure. I've been re-examining the ones that matter to me as a music critic. Figuring out what other critics are talking about, and possibly why I completely disagree or more than agree with their thought process. I've always done this, just more so lately than usual. I'm not sure I've I'm reaching that boredom point with music lately, or nothing has really grabbed my ear that I overheard or reviewed this summer.
Like those elder albums that matter, I also thought long and hard about the friends and family in my life, and who I miss, and who's album I haven't heard in awhile. I also think about what's to come. I've been thinking about graduating with two freelance jobs (this one included), my stint at the radio and school paper-- still scratching my head about that move to Austin, and what albums I'll be listening to and are waiting to listen to this time next year (I'm more than specifically talking about you camp Glassjaw!).
I'm also in the midst of writing a novel. Half journalistic, half my insane thoughts on first listens and repeat visits to my favorite genre. That genre that had me in the basement of Hodges Hall on the LSU campus for four years giving everyone one an insane hour every Saturday afternoon for four years. I'm in the midst of writing about and interviewing the post-hardcore scene. It's not the completion of the project that worries me-- it's how well it will be received if someone actually publishes it.
This is my one lane of thought. Sometime within the year between YOUR one night of debauchery, just take a look at YOUR life. Look back and appreciate the elders who showed you something new. Think about the adventures on stage or on the floor. Keep being anxious for what is about to come. I promise it will all be unpredictable, but each note will connect itself to another movement that makes up the grand composition that is only part of a smaller triad.
I may be a bit worried, but it also means I'm anxious. I'm just anxious enough to try those albums and artists that I keep hearing about. I'm just anxious enough to attempt something with my life, even if sometimes I'll have to pick myself up. I'm just anxious enough to keep doing something so in a year I'll have some health and dental.
Stay anxious. I'll be back to talk about the industry next week. But for now, tonight, I interview Matt Pryor. This year is already starting off a blast.
What is pop music? Is it the Tiger Beat full spread photos that are strung up across thirteen year old girls walls, and the pedophiles who stalk them? Is it the bubble gum pop hits of The Partridge Family? Maybe it's the circus of melody across some of my favorite records like Dog Problems and Black Foliage: Animation Music Vol. 1.
When conducting an interview with Jaguar Love, I asked them if they could define pop music, if there is any distaste toward it and how they felt about it being ladened across their debut record Take Me to the Sea. I got surprising answers across the board.
The members didn't seem to mind the pigeonholed. In fact, Jay Clark had a hard time singling out the genre, stating that he doesn't go in recording anything with a mindset of a genre. As for Cody Votolato and Johnny Whitney, they felt that sometimes pop music can show signs of maturity.
And then, there's Hannah Montana. What I would guess is the next generation's Britney Spears. So I know two things about this: 1) It's the new sixteen-year-old boy fantasy and 2) she'll be doing coke lines and showing up Spears by literally marrying a pile of trash from a trailer park. A fucking heap of trash!
But is it the processing of the the labels that give pop the bad name? Should we blame the voices, the millions that votes for American Idol, the marketers or the artist themselves? Is it wrong to have melody? Sure, I love the post-hardcore scene that continues to tear down the epileptic seizure it creates, but man, I can always go for some good melody.
But I guess it really comes down to the shiny accessible road that most can drive their ears along. So how do we tell the difference between the individually wrapped slices of cheese and a well thought out progression in a C major scale.
Well, I guess in the end it all comes with that maturity that Votolato and Whitney were speaking about. How many 21+ Hannah Montana fans are out there? The ones that aren't fans because of the "cool-to-be-lame" montage of thought, but the die-hard creepers.
Pop music on a large scale has always been big with a younger audience because of its appeal both visually and audibly. Here's a humble moment: when I was a little kid, I owned the New Kids on the Block album. I fucking loved the "Right Stuff" and it made me think I was the shit at the tender age of six. I liked my mom's Paula Abdul, Jackson (Micheal and Janet) and George Micheal albums. As a kid they appealed to me on a fun level. Sure, I didn't understand the sexual undertones of all of them, but they were fun!
Then a record changed the way I looked at music. One morning, while my mom was cleaning the house, she slipped into the record player The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. It was fun on a whole new level. It was pop on a whole new level. It was as accessible as the other less critical records I was listening to just a few years ago. This is where I stepped over the line of the processed meat grinder to the creative community.
Maybe I can't answer what pop music is myself. But according to Dictionary.com, it is defined as: "music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock'n'roll with more rhythm and harmony and an emphasis on romantic love."
Well, fuck. I think even that's right and wrong. We'll never define this shit. I'm going to toss in New Found Glory, I can always get a grasp on that, and never feel bad.
So when I started all this writing a few years ago, I guess all I wanted to do was interview bands. Let's face it, when you start that off in high school, your professionalism is on par to being a lowly fanboy.
Years later, I've kind of changed my questions up a bit, and I've noticed that its followed the way the industry has been working itself as of the past two years. I've always been concerned about the music, but the industry plays a large roll in this as well. The distribution and marketing of our favorite artists' music takes its toll on us and I believe even more so on them. With gas the way it is, I believe the "starving artists" are on their way back.
But again, the music-- that's what I'm focused on. So when I received an Entertainment Weekly (for some reason we've been getting them for the past few months) in the mail with an article on the "Top 100 Classics in movies, television and music of the past 25 years," I immediately turned the pages to the music section. Number one: Purple Rain. Okay, this album is a pop masterpiece, and an almost guaranteed panty raider.
Number ten: In Rainbows. Okay. Weird on two ends. It's the latest release, and it's higher than OK Computer, which clocked in at #62. Now it seemed Entertainment Weekly's reasoning for the one album before the other (OK Computer was just part of the #51-#100 list with no explanation) was because of the distribution model of the album.
If we're talking about music then, shouldn't OK Computer be up on this list? Didn't it change the landscape of what is to come? If Revolver came free to everyone in the 60's, should it rate higher than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? If Led Zeppelin's III was given to everyone on their birthday the year it came out, would it be better than the solid rock songs on IV? Classics should be based on the music, not how they changed the model of the industry. It concerns the artist that the industry is making their money off of. Sure, bands like Harvey Danger and The Format all gave their albums out for free, but Radiohead's distinct difference was the "pay-as-you-want" model.
According to a Financial Times article this week, it looks as if the industry is possibly looking to embrace the model because of the money Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have made using it. In fact, does anyone have the numbers for Feed the Animals yet?
But the model itself is flawed. The bands that are using it right now possess large followings. No matter how much you want to give something to throw up a huge finger to the industry, in the end, a few years will prove our instinctive nature to take what we can get for free. Even as a child, I was happy with the free toy in the cereal box, not $3.95 for S&H with two box tops.
I really enjoy doing this blog each week, and for the other site I'm working for, I'm really enjoying doing articles on my favorite bands and finding out why their compositions are the way they are, and why textures continue to change like seasons across their albums. Sure, I'm interested on how they are coping with business changes within the industry, but it really comes down to the music and how that's going to change artist after them.
Someone needs to send this to EW and let them know how to judge the notes across albums, not the ones and zeros and greens and pounds, depending on your location.
Really? I think this has gone way too damn far? All I care about is football season in the next few weeks in Death Valley, and now I have to fear the RIAA who are about to string up my school like a marionette.
Well, I guess that I've got nothing to fear since I stopped using P2P when I left high school, and never even touched torrent systems. But I still have a bone to pick with the Recording Industry Association of America.
The RIAA does have the right target: poor college kids. That's right, if I were to sue someone, I would probably want to sue a demographic of citizens that can barely afford a hundred dollar used biology book that they can't sell back because the "new edition" is going to be used for the following semester. I'm going to sue the demographic of citizens who live off meal plans paid for by scholarships. I'm going to sue kids who are forced alcoholics of Milwaukee's Beast and five dollar handles of rum.
The RIAA are essentially trying to launder money for shady tactics from Unicef.
But alas, they are targeting the demographic that gives them an office in our countries' Capitol. Let's face it, those iPod Nanos are filled with singles and mixes of the same crap a college kid can turn a local radio station on and listen to. So maybe I should have no sympathy for my demographic.
Since my school didn't make the the top school list, and USCarolina and Tennessee did, maybe we have figured out how to beat the system. and their asses on the field as well.
Let's talk about the two big factors here: a) our schools' funding and b) our personal funding.
What gives the RIAA the right to in any direct or indirect way deny funding to universities? Unless they are going to send me a check for the $2500 tuition for next semester, or pay my technology fee for a printer that doesn't work 15 minutes before I have to turn in a paper-- then they can blow it out their Gregorian Chant listening asses.
If my memory hasn't escaped me, I thought that within the bill, I read that students could be denied personal funding such as revoking scholarships if caught using P2P or filesharing networks on their campus' grid.
"I already can't afford to go to school. My parents bought me an iPod. I mean, where do you expect me to get those Bob Seger tracks to put on when I open that handle of Old Crow or flat of Nat Light's." - college student
As outrageous as it may sound, I believe the industry's distribution model is going to change way before the RIAA can get a grip on their job. I even think gas will go back to $2.50 before the RIAA does what they're set to do.
Wait: it has hit me. If the RIAA can get gas back down to at least $2 to $2.50, tell the textbook publishing companies to lower their prices and stop ripping students off, and come fix the damn printers in my library: I promise I'll buy at least one CD or vinyl every Tuesday. Promise.
First off, I would like to thank Adrian for the spotlight. Without him, I wouldn't have even thought about doing something like this if it had not been for his suggestion.
Secondly, I would like to thank all the positive feedback, and those withholding a debate (please do not, let's argue, I get bored in class and that's why I end up with two C's in summer school, ugh!). If there is one thing that I have learned this summer in ethics though, is that you may think you have the ultimate point of no return, and then someone comes in, tears you down, but if you are humble enough, take the criticism as something to construct more ideas off of.
Lastly, if it wasn't the positive feedback from a bunch of strangers I've never met, hearing a band say that your article was one of the best written articles he's read in awhile dropped my jaw.
To that, I present it to you here. Want to know how the RX Bandits are doing and what the new Portugal. The Man sounds like, read on to this shameless plug. HA!
Besides the Spanish Final at 730 this morning, dealing with my apartment move, and the barrage of work ahead of me in the next few days (restaurant, reviews, and moving)...this has all made my day.
Thank you again. So much love. Keep watching reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm, my favorite show at the moment,
Then for the past month I got a 30 minute break, just to head to Media Ethics for another hour. Needless to say, by lunch time, I was more ready to nap before work than to grab a sandwich.
So four weeks later, here I sit, a man of a lot of broken Spanish, and wondering what, if anything, I got out of four weeks and six case studies papers in ethics. Well, I really wouldn't have an answer if it hadn't been for the past two weeks.
See, ever since my sophomore year of high school, when I ditched art for music, I wanted to write about music from there on out. I wanted to interview my favorite bands. I wanted to write and let the world know about my favorite music. I wanted to incite people to pick up something I was listening to, or go to a concert I was going to, and I wanted them to enjoy it.
After four years of working for a college radio station, endless journalism classes, and a small stint at the school paper, I've come to realization: I'm going to continue to be poor doing this, but I love it.
In the past few weeks, we discussed in ethics class how the media, the people who are the watchdogs to everyone else, aren't exactly that ethical themselves. And after hanging backstage at a few shows this week, and being able to preview some new records months in advance, along with finding out some information, that even I am withholding from smearing across the Web, I realized that other outlets of media wouldn't be so kind.
These are my ethical decisions. Sure, I love to bring down how corrupt the industry can really be. When it comes down to it, its all about the almighty dollar-- some a lot more than others. But there should be a line drawn between the public interest and pure morbid curiosity. Sure, I asked some questions this week, and got some answers out of curiosity, but some answers are better from the source at their time of disclosure. After speaking with some artists, I realize why they hate the media and the industry as much as I do sometimes: Because sometimes we cross a line of curiosity that should be left alone. Sometimes we don't always have to be the fly on the wall.
As journalist, sometimes we cross the line into artists lives. We're supposed to be the ones shining a light on the people on stage and their music, but sometimes we end up shining past that to personal matters or sensationalist crap (I absolutely hate Showbiz Tonight).
We must continue to be watchdogs on the music industry. They're the ones that crave our pockets. The artists, which I hope most, are the ones in it for the fun and the art form, but again, they have to pay the bills, and are working musicians.
Sometimes, I just believe we get worked up by the artists we love and their personal lives, rather than their music. And sometimes we get so worked up about the music that we open the curtain to it before the bands do. I know I'm no more at fault than anyone else on this site, so I'm not going to point fingers, I'm just stating a problem.
So this week, I would ask that you think a few years back, when we didn't have all of THIS: Internet, chat rooms, forums, etc. Think back when you just went to a show, took some pictures and enjoyed yourself as much as the bands enjoyed playing for you. It's the music industry's job to create trends, we're just supposed to be here listening to the notes across the fretboards and beats on the snare.
An artist this week told me that they use the digital effects in the studio to further their music, not using them as a crutch. Sometimes I feel as journalist, we use this damn Web as a crutch, and maybe that's pretty unethical.
And Adrian, I passed 1,000 views...thanks for getting me to start this damn thing.
It's Friday night, and I'm downloading both In Utero and Nevermind off of iTunes.
I actually own every Nirvana album, but they're at my mother's house. Since my car won't make it out of town because it possess a death rattle coming from the engine, this is going to have to do for now.
I also downloaded the single "You Know You're Right" from that whole legal debacle that ended up with a self-titled greatest hits record and a larger, but overly hyped, box set. Point is: "You Know You're Right" is a really good song. No, fuck it. That song is awesome. It's raw, to the point, and everything Cobain and Nirvana were about. I'm not talking the "holier than thou" worship some people give the band; I'm referring to the honesty surrounding the music.
Anyway, the greatest hits and box sets have been used for years to make some cash from former label artists. New case and point: Radiohead's Best Of. Seriously, it's a lackluster clump of singles and less than steller "fan favorites." Bon Jovi's Cross Road record was better than this shit. Wait, that was a really good greatest hits record. The Beatles' 1 was also a great exception. Maybe that Def Leppard Vault album too...but that's up for argument.
Even the double record of Radiohead "hits" put out wasn't worth the purchase. But greatest hits records usually follow a simple format. It consists of hits (DUH!!!) which usually are made up of the lists of singles you've heard throughout the 10 (some artists, even shorter) years the band has been around. Interweaved throughout are live tracks, rare unreleased demos or b-sides, for the vinyl-inept out there. Sometimes there can be great acoustic versions, sometimes tracks were better scrapped.
Sometimes, in the case of Nirvana, there's a gem, which ends up a single to sell the record, and is well worth the purchase. To that, I say, thank you iTunes for giving me the ability to purchase just that single. But boo to you for making me take out the money for the back catalog. Then again, just maybe in that back catalog I'll discover something that won't make that greatest hits record the corporate agenda had planned out for me.
On that note, this will be posted Monday. By then, I'll be sifting for that personal gem through my two purchased albums. And on a side note: Did anyone think that new Brand New song was very acoustic Nirvana-esque. Listen to it again. Think about it. Get back to me.
Alright. That was harsh. But now that I have your attention, I'm about to vent. So either leave now, or spend this time in which you should be staring at your summer school teacher, riding a bike or paying attention to your significant other, and lose yourself into what I have to say.
For four years of college tuition, I guess all I really want to do is talk about music, review music, bitch about the music industry (see previous post) and just interview really great bands and find out what makes them tick. Like the faux Lester Bangs told that kid in that movie, "It's just a shame you missed out on rock 'n' roll."
I've used Purevolume and Myspace to scan for bands. In fact, my favorite way to find new bands is to go to shows to see openers, or find out who my favorite artist are listening to. But with the "uploading-studio-in-box" used by every suburban kid with Garageband or an illegally downloaded version of Reason, every 18-year-old seems like a fucking rock star these days. Then again, rock has been about image for sometime now.
Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to interview Russian Circles, and with that, their newest member, Brian Cook. He said something that really hit me when I asked him what he thought about the growing number of bands across the Web, and whether he would have wanted this source of marketing when Botch was around? His answer:
"I feel like a lot of bands need to take those smaller steps and play smaller venues and towns. I kind of like the fact that those first four years of Botch weren't documented. Some bands are hitting the road or putting out records too early without honing their craft. They need to find a bit more identity and figure out what they're trying to do."
To my very last vent in this ramble. I've been reading Chuck Klosterman's Fargo Rock City-- which is fucking amazing-- and he makes some interesting points about music with the way he defends the 80's hair metal scene he grew up with. While you really need to read the book to get a good grip on what he's talking about, it boils down to this: Music is going to be art to someone, special to someone, meaningful to someone, and maybe a giant sack of shit to others.
What all these thoughts add up to:
I recently wrote a review on this site for Jamies Elsewhere's new record, where a good bit of backlash was received. Guess what, that's part of the business. But Brian Cook has a point. I think it's just another band that hasn't honed their craft. Who knows? Jamies Elsewhere's next record could be incredible.. I always go into each NEW band with a chance, but it gets harder these days with these flavors of the week. I've been wrong about a few bands in my lifetime. I can admit this. But I've been young and juvenile, and that's what I feel a lot of these young bands are. Some are not putting in enough time and DIY and are just getting out there and getting big just to end up on the "break-up" post on this site.
I know Klosterman is right. I know what Lester Bangs was telling that kid, and for some reason it hits home all the time. But I'll keep writing reviews and keep receiving some negative feedback, because that's what critics do and get. I don't know if I'm right, but I have been around the block to the record store a few times in my day, and I feel I have pretty diverse record collection (lacking in the rap and country dept. a bit though).
So to Jamies Elsewhere, maybe I should apologize for the harsh words, but I will continue to hone my craft, if you, and all the other signees of the week continue to work hard and do the same.