Tuesday, June 30, 2009

American Media Breaks My Heart

Because of my duties at AbsolutePunk and all that's going on at RMP, I am not going to be writing much music in here anymore. I'm seguing this into just whatever the heck I feel like. For those that enjoyed "We've Never Heard of You Either," enjoy the archives/back entries and dive into my reviews at AbsolutePunk and all the music-related posts at RMP. For now, let me just wax poetic about whatever I feel like.

For starters, why is Michael Jackson's death so celebrated? Why can't people accept that championing a perverse, disillusioned, eccentric and incredibly odd person is borderline ludicrous. Sure I understand he contributed a lot to the music world, but he hasn't exactly been relative since the mid 90s. Okay, he made a brief blip on the radar with "You Rock My World," in 2001, but come on, he's been nothing but tabloid fodder for almost two decades. The point is, the media needs to focus their attention on soldiers on the frontlines and the fact that Iraqis rejoiced over us leaving Baghdad. Or how about the political quagmire in Iran, or the nuissance that is the North Korea. Hell, there are even more interesting stories in Africa than this Michael Jackson eulogizing and funereal curiosity. As an admitted music fan, I appreciate what he did for the pop charts and the influence he had on far too many, but I am pretty much tired and done with all of this press coverage.

That being said, it's more than just MJ. The last month-and-a-half devoted to Jon and Kate Gosselin is nauseating, embarassing and downright pathetic. Their sad plight is much the same as various couples across the country. Stop making it a bigger deal than it is. How about we focus our attention on the Web 2.0 inspired Moldovan revolution, or the rebuilding of L'Aquila, Italy. Or the political coup in Central America.

I just don't understand why American media focuses on the most trivial of stories. I really don't.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Blah About the Belmont Stakes

I'm deviating away from music for the third consecutive post (and my first since April 2009) to talk about the Belmont Stakes. I went this year, for the first time since 2000 (or maybe 2001, I don't remember) and pretty much dreaded it. Being that only 50,000 or so would show up, I was kinda amped to attend and see a few good stakes races too. Oh yeah and the Belmont. That, too.

So I parked ($10, as opposed to the $2 on other days) and all of a sudden I realized why I had stayed away. College kids were tailgating just about everywhere and while that's festive and convivial and cool, it's not my thing and kinda off-putting. But so be it, so it goes. I walked in and paid the $10 (it's $2 every other day) and tried to find a reserved ticket window. I bought a program ($5, up $2.50 from the everyday price) and watched the races from the second tier, near the LIRR entrance. Upon overhearing that reserved ticket sales were upstairs, I headed up there and got a seat on the third tier auxiliary. I was so high up I only saw the last 500 yards of each race. And then there were the masses of people, most of whom were inebriated or intoxicated. This was only 50,000. I cannot imagine 100,000. I don't do well with crowds and just 50,000 was too much for me. Upon leaving after Summer Bird's victory, I reminded myself why I enjoy the races on a ho-hum weekday or a sunny weekend with a Grade III. I like the space and the quiet and the wise guys. I can do without all the rest. Even if most of them are the glue to keeping this race aloft.

As for the race, like I said, I didn't see much. But Summer Bird's move was awesome. I think it's great that his trainer, in his first year of training has won a Belmont. That's wild. He's only 35. That's even more crazy. I also read that his owners have been in the game since the 80s and once had a champion with LeRoy Jolley. They are both Indian, doctors and bred Summer Bird themselves. Kinda cool, actually.

Alright that's enough. One of these days I'll write about music in this thing. At least I think. I hope. Who knows?

Friday, April 10, 2009

This Nation is Off Its Rocker

Well, alright. I'm back. It's been quite awhile. I had a few ideas percolating for this blog but decided to hold back. One was a draft bashing Scott McClelland and another lambasting 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley. One day I hope to bring them back to life, but not now. For now I want to focus on this nation's lovefest for our current president. Don't get me wrong, I like the enthusiasm. I enjoy the passion and the energy people have about politics again. Especially that of twenty-somethings and teenagers. Our nation has needed that kind of fervor for quite some time. And while there are many things I admire and respect and enjoy about Barack Obama, this nation's obsession is a bit crazy. As proof of this, here are two examples:

Texas Freeway To Be Named After Obama

and lastly, a Barack Obama Chia Pet.

Texas legislation indicates that a freeway can only be named after a person if they are deceased or have played an important part in Texas state history. Barack Obama is neither of these things. He's a mortal man, and while his incredible story is admirable, uplifting, exciting and full of promise, let's not put the cart before the horse. I realize that our nation is mired in problems,and most of those are from a one George W. Bush, who I praised in the last post, but let's not ahead of ourselves. Don't take this commentary to be a knock on Obama. I like the guy, I like some of his policies and I like what he has done for this nation. But should we really get this lathered up and this excited when we still have a lot of work to do? Yes, his accomplishments are historic, unprecedented and a source for hope for millions, I can't deny that or knock it down, but I can knock down the media's fervent desire to vault him to a lofty rank.

That being said, I'm done being political.
This is a music blog after all, so I'll get back to the music.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

America At War

Last night at dinner my father’s face lit up as he was paying the bill. Was dinner that cheap? Considering he and my mother both had two large glasses of wine and we all ordered specials, I presumed that wasn’t the case. When I asked my father why he was smiling, he pointed to the fine print at the bottom of the bill. Written proudly was the phrase, "God Bless America." It sounds funny to say, but I was proud of my father for that. Being the ardent Republican that he is he has supported the Bush-backed war from its inception. As someone who lost a host of friends, including his most dearest in 9/11, my father has supported the war through and through. But after six years people seem to have forgotten that we are at war and if they haven’t forgotten have a strange way of showing it.

Certainly the media could portray the positive events occurring in the Middle East if they so choose, but that’s another argument for another day. Warring nations have existed in our history for years upon years and while it’s certainly the hope that in these modern times we can fight and play fair and resolve our differences through other means, we have to be somewhat realistic. I am certainly dismayed by many of the decisions President Bush has made since we invaded Iraq but I do believe he is making an attempt to halt the infusion of radical Islamic terrorists from taking over the world. Certainly the invasion of Iraq has spurred the terrorist cause only more so but their grotesque schemes has been wretched and vile since the ’70’s and nobody in the world felt compelled to do something about it. Part of our makeup as a nation is loyalty and despite how horribly this war is going we should stand behind those soldiers that wage their lives to defend our lives. They don’t want to be there either, but they’re doing so to defend our freedom. I want them back home and safe just as much as the next guy (I lost a high school classmate that died while serving in Iraq and my sister’s boyfriend is currently over there) but there will be no progress if we don’t keep our forces over there.

If you don’t want to defend the war, then take a look at the simple math of it. In the six years since 9/11, there has not been a single successful attack on U.S. soil, the unemployment rate is the lowest its been in 20 years and the stock exchange is still solid, intact and consistently doing better than it was six years ago. If you had assured me that would be the case on September 12, I would not have believed you for a second. You would also say that given those circumstances our president would have a 70 percent approval rating. That is anything but the case. If I give my Dad some credit for being so conservative, it's that he's so staunch and ardent in what he believes. He is much like our president and we need more people like that. I tend to agree with my father when he says that in 20 years, George W. Bush will probably be looked at as a far more influential president than history has indicated thus far. I hope he's right. That's enough politics for now.

Bring on the hate mail.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Streets, The Sounds Gets No Love From Me.

Guitar, bass and drums. It's not a novel concept. In fact it's used often on records. But when that's all a band relies on, something falls apart and in the case of New Atlantic's debut CD "The Street, the Sounds and the Love," plenty falls apart.

I've been a fan of New Atlantic for going on four or five years now. My brother saw them at the new defunct Empress Ballroom four summers ago and assured me, "This is a band that's going to make a statement soon. I promise you they will be big." As my brother so often does, he was correct with this band. Touring on the strength of two DIY EP's, the band has made its name with a polished and professional live set and for returning music back to it's essence. There are no catchy gimmicks, there are no tricks, no loops, nothing fabricated about their sound at all. In fact, lead singer Giovanni Gianni has a cool, silky-smooth delivery, but that's the first of many problems on "The Streets." Gianni never utilizes his vocals, in fact he's restrained for much of the disc and when he does choose to belt out, he almost sounds as if he's screeching.

Now that is not to say that this CD is a total flop. In fact lead track "Cold-Hearted Town" has been in my head for days since I first heard it. Lead single "Wire and Stone" is super catchy and many of the songs on the disc are just that, catchy. But sometimes there's more to a disc than just catchiness. Unfortunately, New Atlantic doesn't seem to get that. On prior demos, such as "Swimming In Lake Erie" and the "The Best Day of Your Life," the band utilized a piano and made that the song's centerpoint, while pianos are used on "The Streets," they are so only sparingly. When eleven straight songs offer up the same guitar/bass/drums formula without much of a wrinkle for originality, the end resuts are rather decimating.

Perhaps what's so frustrating is knowing that New Atlantic is far better than this disc alludes to. Mayhap on the next disc, they will knock one out of the park, but for now this is a bunt single that failed to advance the lead runner.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't Tell All Your Friends...Well Maybe....

I return to the blogosphere after a 12 week layoff. I've been quite busy with my new gig at StarCPG.com as well as with ResidentMediaPundit.com that I've neglected this puppy quite a bit.
So in a haste to get back into it here goes one CD review.

SoCal native William Tell gained most of his fan base while touring with the alt-rock band Something Corporate. In the late 90's and early new millenium Something Corporate gained an almost cult-like following and packed venues on an everyday basis. Then lead singer Andrew McMahon's leukemia worsened and the band fizzled. After McMahon's immune system picked itself up again he started anew with the band Jack's Mannequin and the other Something Corporate members were left to fend for themselves. Drummer Josh Partington formed the band Firescape and William Tell released his debut record "You Can Hold Me Down."

Whereas Jack's Mannequin has garnered instant success, Tell is still struggling, but that won't last for long. The disc, which was released this spring, is sprinkled with plenty of modern rock nuggets to put him back in the spotlight. Opening track "Jeanne" has a power-pop, Jason Falkner feel to it while single "Slipping Under" has Top 40 smash written all over it. Then things get a little murky. On the funk, psuedo-rap of "Fairfax" Tell pushes the envelope a little too much and the song falls flat. "Maybe Tonight" is dreamy and is one of the album's more decent songs, but "Like You, Only Sweeter" tries to be mean and punishing and is anything but. On the plaintive "Young at Heart" Tell earns points for tackling a tough subject: suicide, but his weak vocals don't do much to give the song any real sense of pizazz. The album's two best songs "Sounds" and "Just For You" come towards the end. The piano-based title track, which comes across as more of an opus closes the disc and ends it on a winning note. Unfortunately there are too many iffy tracks to give this disc a glowing review but considering this is a debut it's a nice step in the right direction. Watch out for this guy. His next album may be huge.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Movies with Heroes: Ok, so they are technically an "emo" band and I wasn't supposed to write about these kind of bands in here. The fact of the matter is these boys bring the rock. This stuff is melodic and radio-friendly. Best part is these guys haven't even made it big yet. I'm sure that will change in due time. For fans of Jimmy Eat World, and the like. Definitely a band more people should be listening to. http://www.movieswithheroes.com/

Shelby: Oh my word is this band good. This is U2 like rock. Anthemic, epic and ass-kicking. My guess is this band would be bigger if they were in a smaller city. Being a good band in New York is like being a pigeon in New York. So much of one thing makes it hard for something to stand out. I imagine it will be a little while before this band ever breaks the ranks, but so what? It's freaking great music. And when I say freaking great, I mean some of the best music being made on the planet in 2007. Period. End of story. shelbynyc.com

Vega4: This band has hit-maker written all over them. They are a Snow Patrol clone but that's not a bad thing. They actually closely resemble the band Rubyhorse if anybody remembers them. I saw them live recently and oh man were they entertaining. Lead singer doesn't really do much up on stage but he does have an incredible voice. The lyrics are lacking on some songs but man are the hooks top notch. They feature a drummer from Canada, guitar player from New Zealand, and a bassist and singer from Ireland. What's not to like!? http://www.vega4.com/

Ok three for now. I'll write more later. Just had to get those ones up and out.