There must be some point in your band when you need to realize just how far you're willing to go for success. Yeah, good songwriting is king when it comes to establishing yourself as a premiere musician/artist, but what if you really don't make music that's all that great? Not being a good songwriter is only a minor roadblock on the path to becoming famous. You can shill your music out for Nerf commercials (see: Forever the Sickest Kids), you can make an "innovative" new genre blending a bunch of sucky genres together (see: Brokencyde), or you can choose the lowest denominator of all and make yourself a gimmick band. See: Vampires Everywhere!
Gee, wonder why this band just cropped up out of no where. I don't know if you were able to get it by their band name or the promo photo where their skin is paled out and darkened around the eyes, but if you're still confused about how vampiric these guys are, check out their "names":
Maybe you weren't beaten over the head that they're vampires. Perhaps the bio, written by Michael Vampire himself, could give you further insight.
Not only is this the kind of angst-ridden, thesaurus-referencing drivel that 14 year old Twilight fans love, it's a proclamation: Michael Vampire stands for vampires. It's also a way for him to say that he's had this idea for this band since before Twilight and vampires became a trend. The BS meter on this guy is flying off the charts.
So, great, this is just another one of those myspace bands that crops up as an attempt to get some sort of exposure and then gimmick their way through a three-year tops career of playing VFW halls and church basements, right? Well, I would think so (and I did a couple of weeks ago when I first heard of them), but they just signed a deal with Century Media Records and they're actually a reputable label. The unfortunate thing that is going to happen is that you will end up hearing about this band and you will probably see little 14 year old Twilight girls loving them and embracing their "lifestyle."
But maybe we can look past the gimmick if the music is good? As I said earlier, gimmicks are cover ups for bad songwriting. The video below is their single and I stand by my assertion.
Yes, that is that girl from The Real World. Yes, the video is shot to look exactly like a scene from Twilight. Look at the way the "vampires" walk together in a brood looking menacing! Listen to the autotuned vocals when the singer isn't screaming! Feel captivated by the off-beat drum/guitar combo!
Meet Morgan. This is my roommate Doug's cat. Here's the thing: I want to love this cat. The only problem is that he doesn't love me back.
When Morgan first started living here, he wasn't used to the surroundings nor us and used to hide upstairs in the loft. Before he moved in with us, he wasn't used to the attention we gave him. Once he did get warmed up to us, he was all over us. No joke, we would sit down and he would literally climb on top of us. As often as this was an inconvenience, it was honestly nice to have an animal actually like me.
Then things went sour. Morgan got so dependent on being around us that when we would go to sleep, we used to close the doors. He started crying outside of our doors, just so he could be around people. Doug started letting him in his room and that was it. Morgan hasn't been the same since. It's Doug's cat, so it's for the best, but Morgan basically sneers at me every time I look at him. Don't let the picture above fool you; the cat is a brat. I'll pick him up and put him on me and give him all the attention in the world and brush him and give him treats, but whenever Doug walks in the room, he drops me like a bad habit.
Did you know that Blink 182's "The Rock Show" was penned out of anger? Who knew that the summery reflections in the song were a kind of spiteful reaction to being told that their follow-up to Enema of the State wasn't poppy enough ("First Date" was also written this way)?
I didn't until I received Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song. When I was approached to see if I wanted to read this, I was skeptical, as I didn't know how it would apply to the average AP.net reader. The book sells itself as "The stories behind 101 of your favorite songs." Do I really care about the story behind Usher's "Yeah!" or "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club?
Apparently I do. When I decided to get the book on the whim to see what it was all about and became pleasantly surprised to see entries by Hoppus and Tom Higgenson's "Hey There Delilah," I thought that would be all I cared about. But if there's one thing that the Chicken Soup series is good for, it's to keep you reading. Their formula for short story after short story is like keeping a jar of candy in front of a bored coworker; you go through one after another without even realizing it until it's all gone. So it is with these stories. I admit I was interested in Corey Taylor from Slipknot's "Duality" and Art Alexaxis from Everclear's "Father of Mine," but I didn't think I'd be as engrossed as I was reading about how Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" was actually about her struggle with her record company (I always thought it was just about her in a relationship).
So, the real question is whether or not the book is worth reading. I think, as a music fan, it's definitely something to give a shot just out of pure interest for what these songs really mean and where they came from. It's a quick and manageable read, with most stories being a few pages, so there's not much to digest. Though I've never been a songwriter myself, I think aspiring songwriters would learn a good deal on where these hit songs came from and how inspiration can literally strike anywhere and come from the most unlikely of sources. It's a fun read, and you may get a new found respect for some artists you never thought deserved a second thought.
I know I probably talk about Thrice a lot, but if I had to rank my favorite current active bands, it would probably look something like this:
1. The Dear Hunter
4. Jimmy Eat World
They're one of those bands where the sum of their parts vastly outweighs the individual efforts, as I've loved all of their albums, but they've never had an album that was just a monumental achievement to me that a Is A Real Boy... or The Dear Hunter's Act II was for me.
What they have had is one of the most consistent collections of any band where I can honestly say that at least twenty of their songs have been my favorite for some time. On my lunch break right now, I was just going through some random websites and "The Weight" came up on shuffle and it is just awesome. Dustin's voice screaming the "Come! What! May!", the subdued guitar in the beginning getting louder as the other instruments join in...
I know that Beggars got a lot of attention initially because of its early leak, but I hardly hear anyone talk about it anymore. Is it the best album of theirs? No, if we're giving it to studio albums, I'd go with Vheissu probably (live album being my favorite overall), but the worst Thrice album is better than the best albums from most bands. Revisit Beggars and you may just find a new favorite song like I did.
Recently, Drew posted a blog about how LOST fans are the most annoying genre fans on the planet. In his comments, I said that Apple fans were more annoying, and I'm sticking to my guns, because you're never going to see something as boring as this from a LOST fan.
Yes, that is a wedding taking place in an Apple store. Yes, they mention Steve Jobs in their vows.
Not that it wouldn't be awesome, but I don't think a LOST fan would ever have their vows be, "Til Smoke Monster or time travel or Others do us part..."
Drew, you're wrong.
(Unrelated, but every single blog I've posted today has had a title with a mathematical equation. I've overdone it.)
People often write these funny lists and graphics on the Internet about common misspellings (example), but one of the more egregious ones that I've never seen pointed out is the difference between bawling and balling.
Bawling is pretty much hysterical crying. Balling is playing basketball and the action of a baller. It's hard to take someone's story seriously on the Internet when they're meaning to describe how sad they were that their friend just died when I'm picturing them dribbling up and down a basketball court.
In high school, I was really big into Magic: The Gathering. I would still be today if I had a constant group of people to play with. Unfortunately, my playing time is sparse, but I do have a huge hole in my heart where late nights of Magic and Code Red Mountain Dew used to be. As also a huge Zelda fan, this immediately appealed to me:
My friend Emily from college has a blog, See Emily Blog. She is an extremely intelligent person and very passionate about the things she believes in. One of them is the modern woman and her role in society. I don't know if Emily would consider herself a feminist because there's no way I would even begin to broach the topic as I am a man and I probably couldn't keep up with her in a battle of wits regarding gender roles (What's my credibility? I'm thankful my girlfriend does my laundry for me.), but from what I can infer, she uses her blog as a platform to speak her mind on what matters/is appealing to her. A while ago, she posted about A Single Girl's Guide to Dating. It is an old-fashioned look at gender roles and how women were supposed to behave on dates. Sample picture:
Things certainly have changed, eh? But are they better?
1950 - Don't drink too much so you can keep your dignity.
2010 - Snooki.
I look at both of these, one with the oppressed, reserved woman, the other with the outrageous, exposed woman. I feel bad for both. One is restrained by society's shackles and the unchained one is just giving all women a bad reputation with her behavior. Am I wrong for thinking that someone like Snooki is giving women a bad image? Maybe, but I think that the guys on the show aren't doing anything to help the stereotype of the sex-crazed superficial guy that often is tossed around ("Guys only want one thing..."). Obviously women have it better now, but the loosening of the chain seems to have laid waste from the suburban housewife stereotype (see: general perception of post-war 1950s life) to the slutty vixen (see: Maxim magazine). Are things better? Yeah, there's a ton more freedom for women, but now there's a whole new stereotype that's been created.
Anyways, the entire point of posting this was so I could update Emily on some other sexist vintage things.
Well, I wouldn't say I'm a loner, but I was listening to Say Anything's "Admit It!!!" and that line is not only the part that was on as I started typing this, but it's sort of relevant so I'll keep it. Hope it doesn't sound too stuck up.
Yesterday was the ten-year anniversary (oh man old school) of Midtown's Save the World Lose the Girl. Anyone who has known me on this website and in life knows how much this band means (meant?) to me and realizing that it was ten years is quite a shock. As I can still put this album on and love it the same as I did when I was 14, what's really changed in a decade of life and how has this one album affected it? We'll take a cause and effect look at what things would be like if I never discovered this album.
Let's talk technology. When I found this album, I downloaded it off Napster one song by one song on a slow 56k modem that was the only line in the house. So if I was halfway done with the song, if someone called our house (when people actually used land lines), the connection was broken and I had to restart. I would pray for a solid hour of no one calling so the songs could download (to put it into perspective for those of you that didn't have to deal with 56k, in the time it takes to download an HD movie these days, you could download a 3 minutes of low bitrate music). I found an online club on the Internet via Yahoo! Groups called The Midtown Club and it was there that I was able to find like-minded fans of the band and even get to talk to the band at the time. It was awesome to have that sort of connection with the band and it paved the way for what I love doing right now as an AP.net staff member. Through Midtown, I learned about AP.net with Jason's review of Forget What You Know, registered later in Oct. 2004, became staff March 2007 and am still here nearly three years later loving new and old music alike in the digital age.
Let's talk relationships. When I found this album, I was going from 8th grade to high school. As a fan of Midtown, I sort of carved out a niche and started having things in common with other people that enjoyed the music. There weren't many, so when I did find someone (in real life away from the Internet) that actually had heard of this band, I bonded with them through music. In fact, the shared love of the Drive Thru Records roster is one of the things that got my first girlfriend and I interested in each other. We shared tons of music this way and went to Warped Tour and, I think, had a solid run. After we broke up, I became pretty jaded about things and it was right around the time that Forget What You Know came out. It clicked instantly and if I didn't have the influence from STWLTG, I probably wouldn't have found the perfect medicine for me. Sounds lame, but music did mend a broken heart. I was then dating another girl at that point, who I dated for nearly four years and that was the direct result of the last girl. She didn't share my love of Midtown like the first but, at that point, I was okay with it because I didn't want to be defined by a band. As much as I love the music, I can separate myself from it, and I don't think that I was able to do that in high school, as it was my "thing," maybe even my gimmick (yet here I am writing this). And after we broke up, it led to me with my current girlfriend, who I believe I'll be with for the rest of my life. In the past ten years, I've kissed three girls, I've dated three girls, and this past weekend I just bought a house with one of them. (Simmer down, playa.) I graduated high school and college and I got a real world job. And you know what? I can look back and say that I'm proud of my life and the things that I have done.
Midtown's old bio used to read, "Can a song change the world?" Probably not, but when I look back at things Sliding Doors-style, it's strange what 12 little pop punk songs can do for one person.
And, thankfully, my current girlfriend will sing along at the top of her lungs with me to "So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb We're Safe" in the car. Soulmate.
If the neon/Brokencyde craze and typing lYkE DiS are any indication, I simply do not understand today's youth. Weird that a 24 year old could think that, but it's true. Fun fact, I was going to write, "When I was their age..." but I caught myself and instead wrote this sentence detailing how I was going to write that other sentence that points out a stereotypical phrase uttered by the elderly. I hate going to the mall/movies/Starbucks on a Friday because there are always obnoxious teenagers hanging around and being stupid. I guess that's how I was ten years ago, too, and I realize it. At that age, you really think you're on top of the world and smarter than everyone around you. I go back to my high school blog and cringe. At 14, I was thinking I was writing these really profound essays on the state of the world and things that would really change the way people acted. Naive. Now, I look back and I realize -- I was a teenager. That's what they do. They are annoying and presumptuous and think they're better than everyone else. You look back at the old television shows from the 50s and such and teenagers really were nice Leave-It-to-Beaver-esque "Oh, let me help you cross the street" kind of good Samaritans. Not anymore. Today's teenagers are a different breed of greed, myselfism, and excess. As much as teenagers changed, I hope the elderly have not. Check out this letter from Mark Twain:
How great must it be to not have a care in the world about what you say and the fact that you're finally wise enough to say everything in a perfectly articulate way? I aspire to be a grumpy old codger like Twain here, simply because being older probaby isn't as bad as the media makes it out to be.
Paul Shirley, whom I enjoy(ed) reading on ESPN, was fired today, after posting what many are calling "the epitome of American ignorance" -- an article that lashes out against the crisis in Haiti. You can read it here. One particular part of it that people are criticizing is:
I've posted about him on AP.net before, as I find it pretty awesome that someone in the NBA listens to the music we do. While it sucks that I probably won't be reading about Manchester Orchestra on ESPN any time soon, ESPN seems to have made the right publicity move on this one. Goes to show that you always have to watch what you say if it's going to stir some controversy, as this is going to absolutely crush his credibility as a writer to anyone that reads him. If anyone has ever questioned the power of the Internet, look at what it did to completely ruin public perception of a man in less than 24 hours.
- Reformatted my Zune and putting a ton of new music on it. Well overdue.
- My sister and her boyfriend Ethan just got a new puppy and I enjoy seeing pictures of it and am rather excited to meet it this Sunday. Her name is Greenly. Check out more at Danielle's tumblr and Ethan's tumblr.
- My girlfriend also updates her blog sometimes, called Slightly Domesticated. This is fun to read and chronicles her life living away from her parents. You can see all the sweet Christmas cards we got in her latest entry (as of this post).
- Work is busy as usual. Less and less time per day.
- I've been playing The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and, honestly, it's pretty disappointing. The thing that I love about Zelda games is the open world exploration and just doing whatever you want. With this game, I just want to get it done and over with. Whereas console versions of the game make me want to just spend hours getting lost in it looking in every single crevice of the world, this one does the exact opposite, where I'm rushing to get things done and just beat the damn game already. That's not to say that it's a bad game because it's not; everything it does is well-executed and suits the system really well. For me, the usual Zelda magic that I've loved in past console versions just isn't there. I never want to just pick this game up and explore. Luckily I also got Dragon Age: Origins for Christmas so that should satisfy me. I just feel like after Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, no game has come close to being nearly as good.
- As a Vikings fan, this season has been pretty awesome. I don't know how well they'll do Sunday against the Saints, but here's hoping they make it to the Superbowl and win. A Jets-Vikings Superbowl would be really awesome in terms of media stories as Favre was a Jet last year and all. Though Peyton Manning vs. Brees/Favre would be equally entertaining. Regardless of what scenario we get, it should be a fun Superbowl. I am excited for chicken wings.
- My little brother (11) is becoming quite the connoisseur on the Internet in regard to email. He is at that age where forwards are cool and he even makes his own with random questionnaires. Here's a sample:
First of all, what prize does an 11 year old have to offer and where did he come up with these questions? This stuff cracks me up.
- Welp, that's all for now. Hope you're all having a great day.
Midtown put out Forget What You Know on Columbia Records, Acceptance put out Phantoms on Columbia Records. These two albums are both what I would consider the best albums of the bands' careers, not to mention the best albums that came out each year these were released. I loved them and I thought to myself that these bands are destined to be a hit. How could Midtown not have gotten on the modern rock charts with "Give It Up"? How could Acceptance not be everywhere with "Take Cover"? Those songs are pure radio bait, not to mention good songs.
It didn't happen. Both bands no longer exist.
I hate to jinx them, but I fear that I'm falling into the same trap with Valencia. I listen to their music and I wonder how they're not on the radio yet with "Carry On" or "Where Did You Go?" This band makes such great music that to see Columbia barely giving them any promotion is heartbreaking. Maybe they're just building a fanbase so the next album is ready to dominate the airwaves, who knows? It just seems that they're on their way to being a casualty of the scene: making genuinely good music with good lyrics and no gimmicks is losing out to the fads. Here's hoping Columbia realizes what a great band they have on their hands and gives them the push they deserve.