Thursday, March 25, 2010
Everyone, that is, except my mom.
You see, my mom is like June Cleaver minus the dress and the necklace. She's just so gosh-darn wholesome it makes my teeth ache. Here's the trouble – she's a big music fan, loves to dance and sing along to songs she likes. Which is why it gives me a severe case of the giggling crazies to watch her exuberantly bounce around waving her hands in the air to a jam that is clearly about fuckin'. If only she realized it.
CHINA GROVE – DOOBIE BROTHERS
Man, my mom likes her some Doobie Brothers. The Doobs have the distinction of being one of those rock 'n' roll outfits that aren't quite blues, not really country, but not standard bubble-gum 70s rock either, and that really appeals to the sock-hop dance set. But according to my longtime correspondent Brent “Pop Culture Guru” Chittenden, “China Grove” shares something in common with “La Grange” or “House of the Rising Sun” in that it's about a brothel. Now I'll admit I didn't immediately get the connection, but there's certainly some raunchy stuff happening between the preacher and the teacher, who are ostensibly the talk of the town gossips – apparently the sewing circle isn't lying because when the sun gets to falling down, the insane preacher and schoolmarm Miss Perkins are definitely doing something brothel-worthy. Hooray for Texas.
CAT SCRATCH FEVER – TED NUGENT
Every good mom knows about cat scratch fever. It's a real illness that can afflict children if they're – go figure – scratched by a cat's nasty litter-encrusted nails. Typically it manifests as a rash and fever, which is not unlike many of the symptoms associated with what the Nuge's song is actually about: STDs. Okay, the argument can be made (and my mom made it) that the “fever” he's suffering is just the sheer force of his libido burning him up, but come on – it's the Nuge. You know he's had him some skeezy groupie lovin' that probably bequeathed onto him that delightful “burns when you pee” sensation – and no, I don't know what that feels like, so don't start. Though I have to admit, it's pretty impressive that a ten-year-old Ted had the wherewithal to go see a doctor after contracting it from the girl next door. Most kids don't even know what that equipment is for at that age. Then again, he did grow up in Detroit – take what you want from that.
TORN – NATALIE IMBRUGLIA
Remember Natalie Imbruglia? She was the really cute Australian girl who rose to prominence in the late 90s with her cover of this tune by the virtually-unknown Scandinavian outfit Ednaswap. Moms the world over loved Natalie for her pop-dance musical sentiments and the fact that there was absolutely nothing even remotely controversial about her. I mean, look at the girl. She's pretty, friendly, and Australian. There's no such thing as a mean Australian, is there? (I mean, apart from Mel Gibson, obviously). Anyway, it turns out this innocuous song is also about sex...sort of. It's about rape. Yeah. It took me ten years to figure out that gem of knowledge, and when I did, I never looked at the guy in the video the same way again. I don't trust men who are better-looking than me as a general rule, and now I have good reason. Remember ladies: just because he looks like a hunk of burning love doesn't mean he doesn't moonlight as Shifty McRapist, Predator At Large.
SHE BOP – CYNDI LAUPER
Anybody want to explain to me why this woman was popular, ever? Leaving aside the fact that in her prime she looked like some kind of haggard fairy cultivating a serious pixie dust habit and inhabiting my nightmares, her voice is enough to give my eardrums boils. And the saccharine, upbeat synth that typified pop music of that era (1984) always sets my teeth on edge, particularly when it's played ad nauseum at my thrice-remarried Aunt Edna's wedding reception, which is exactly when my mom starts really hitting the dance floor. Personally I hate dancing; it strikes me as the equivalent of very public, very exhibitionist masturbation, which in the case of Cyndi Lauper is a good thing because that's exactly what “She Bop” is about. It took me a while to figure that out because her voice is so processed (and so impossible to listen to naturally) it's hard to hear the lyrics, but they're there, all right: “picking up a good vibration”... “better stop or I'll go blind” (learned that little fact from Green Day myself, but I digress)...when you actually filter through the pop pabulum and listen to what she's saying it's unmistakable. Thankfully these days Cyndi has long since given up “messing with the danger zone” in favour of being mercifully obscure, but her shitty jack-off music lives on.
THE WANDERER – DION AND THE BELMONTS
Of all the songs on this list, the crowning jewel has to be this little ditty from one of those late-50s sock-hop bands that all sound the same to me. Dion and the Belmonts are in regular rotation at the James household, along with contemporaries Buddy Holly, Del Shannon, Bobby Darin and the Big Bopper. My mom loves this stuff, mostly as a function of being a child of the 50s. She always goes on about how music used to be so upstanding and decent, before the days when “that rap crap” introduced naughty words into recorded music. From now on, Dion and the Belmonts will stand as testament to my belief that people have always been filth-brained sex addicts, even in the pristine 50s. “The Wanderer” is basically a folk tale of a guy who goes from town to town, wooing and screwing and then vanishing before anybody can even nail down (har har) what his name is. They just call him, predictably, “The Wanderer”. In a world dominated by STDs (thanks Nuge) and support groups for people with commitment issues, this Wanderer guy would be strung up, but back in the 50s, as long as all the nookie took place off screen and nobody was shown sleeping in the same bed, I guess it was fair game. Wholesome like a fox, that wanderer.
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
My mom's not stupid; far from it. She's a very smart, very hip lady who's a joy to be around. But her brain just doesn't function the way mine does – that is to say, she doesn't see dancing boobies in every dark corner and gyrating hips on every billboard, and she certainly doesn't hear the nastiness I hear in music. But fair is fair, and there's no denying the limitless ability we have in making sure sex is as present in our tunes as it is everywhere else.
Except my bedroom, Mom – my girlfriend still sleeps on the couch, I promise. (She'll probably buy that.)
Alex James is the head writer at State of Affairs and can regularly be found playing Natalie Imbruglia records backwards hoping to hear her phone number
Monday, March 22, 2010
Who is he?: Roky Erickson began as the lead singer for the 13th Floor Elevators and pioneered the psychedelic rock genre. Roky was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he involuntarily received electroconvulsive (shock treatment) therapy. Once being released from the hospital several years later, he began a solo project inpsired by his love of horror films. Almost a decade later he was convinced aliens were going to come down and harm him - to the point where he hired a lawyer to make a legal document saying that he was himself an alien, in the hope they'd leave him alone.
Idea for show: The Alien Whisperer. Think you're going to be abducted by aliens? Don't have a good enough lawyer to help you prove you're one of them? Call Roky. He'll come to your house and let those aliens know what's up.
Co-Starring: Gary Busey.
Who is he?: If you're a guy and don't know who Lemmy is, put down that tropical wine cooler and grow a pair. Lemmy is the lead singer of the legendary metal band Motorhead. His diet consists of speed and whiskey, and he has a full time job: being awesome. Did I mention he's a living sex legend? Well, that seems like a given.
Idea for show: Lemmy of Love. Lemmy finds men who simply cannot pick up at the bar. He then shows them the art of being awesome, all while making them get drunk off of Jack and Cokes and downing speed. Will they succeed and go home with their dream lady of the night? Only time will tell.
Co-Starring: Gene Simmons.
Who is he?: Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, is a musician and actor. Selling over 40 million albums and starring in over 50 movies and television shows isn't exactly a small-time thing. Also, Marvin has had some constant run-ins with near-death experiences. He survived a horrible car crash, got hit in the head with a shot put, caught Wolff-Parking-White-syndrome, and recently, his private jet had to make an emergency landing when the forward landing gear gave out.
Idea for show: Try to Live with Loaf. Basically you're put in real life-or-death situations with your new pal Meatloaf. Think you can survive getting hit in the head with a shot put? Find out.
Co-Starring: Samuel L. Jackson. I just think if he was at the sidelines screaming at the contestant it would be better in every way possible.
Who is he?: Seriously, how does this guy not have his own reality show already? Jay-Z is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America with a net worth of over $500 million dollars. Not to mention he has sold 40 million albums world wide, co-owns the New Jersey Nets, and is the creator of Rocawear. No big deal.
Idea for show: Jay-Z is Cray-Z. He just has too much money. It's impossible to spend it all in a lifetime, but damn it, he's going to try. Watch Jay-Z drink a lot of expensive alcohol and go out on ridiculous spending sprees. Ever seen a private jet filled with caviar, strippers, and trampolines? Jay probably has.
Who is he?: Who cares? He had one hit and now hates himself for it. http://yeahoyeah.com/video.aspx?id=1158
Idea for show: Very Vanilla. Basically Jersey Shore, Intervention, and Newly Weds (Jessica Simpsons' show) all put into one. Watch as Vanilla apologizes to people, lives off of no money, and strikes out with girls.
Co-Starring: Katy Perry. Naked. I don't see why else anyone would want to watch it. Or maybe Marmaduke.
Friday, March 19, 2010
And since I'm a masochist, I'm willing to revisit those traumatic tunes for your enjoyment. Here they are, in no particular order.
LIVE - LIGHTNING CRASHES
Man, was this song ever big. In fact if you ask most people to name a Live song, this will be the one they name – and if you ask for a second Live song, they'll probably look at you blankly and start drooling. Too bad, because Live did all kinds of other great stuff, but I digress. I remember hearing this song for the first time at a seventh-grade Valentine's Day dance, and I was struck by how fundamentally unromantic placentas are, but it didn't stop me from saddling up and bravely asking a girl in my class to dance. She laughed at me. I left. Okay, next song.
OASIS - WONDERWALL
Oh, Oasis. I have a special place in my heart for this band, and this song in particular. Before you start shitting on my head I'm well aware they were never, are not, and likely will never be very good, but when you're thirteen years old, things like quality music pale in importance next to What's Cool, and boy, was Oasis ever the bee's knees back then. Wonderwall was definitely top-of-the-heap on that album, and it was played over and over at every party I went to that year. In a desperate effort to improve my personal “cool” factor I sat down and learned how to play it on guitar, at a time when my musical abilities didn't match my musical ambitions, and so I very likely made a fool of myself. But the worst had to be listening to it on repeat in my friend Tim's basement watching everybody else dance. I sat on the bed drinking Coke and cursing my missing balls.
AEROSMITH - CRAZY
This is kind of a weird addition to the list, I know, because even though Get A Grip was released in 1993, Aerosmith inhabited a genre that predated my generation considerably – not too many 13 year olds I knew were really into classic rock, but Aerosmith was a curiosity. Maybe it was because Mrs. Doubtfire was released the same year and everybody jumped on the “Dude Looks Like A Lady” bandwagon, but either way, “Crazy” wound up on regular rotation at school dances for several years. Looking back now it's really funny to consider how little we understood the lyrics to that song – I remember having an involved conversation about why she “ain't wearin' nothin' underneath that overcoat” - we all figured she'd be kind of cold if that were the case. Regardless, “Crazy” holds the record for the Soundtrack To The Most Turn Downs Ever in my books. Seventeen, if you wanted an exact number, you fucking sadists.
BUSH X - GLYCERINE
Also known as The Other British Band (right behind Oasis), Bush X's rock sentiments were more palatable to a lot of my contemporaries than the obvious Beatles knock-off pop offered up by Liam and Noel. But the album “Sixteen Stone” was notable for having an inordinate number of soft-rock ballads (i.e. more than one), and “Glycerine” was by far the most popular. It had everything: catchy four-chord rhythm, Gavin Rossdale's delightfully-gravelly voice singing vague lyrics about...well, about a girl, I think, though it could just as easily have been Jell-O based on the title, and even a string section. Perfect slow song. Sadly, I wouldn't know – this song was played at my eighth grade graduation, and that was one cluster-fuck of a celebration, let me tell you. The girl for whom I'd fostered a borderline-unhealthy crush-turned-obsession promised me a dance at the end of the night (gasp) and in my haste to run to the DJ and request this song, she wound up dancing with some meathead jock she would later go on to date through most of high school. Thanks a lot, Bush X.
BRYAN ADAMS - EVERYTHING I DO (I DO IT FOR YOU)
Everybody get your sick bags ready, because this is perhaps the most saccharine song on this whole list. For those of you not old enough to remember anything but the recent Olympics, I can assure you that once upon a time, Bryan Adams was indeed a superstar (insofar as a Canadian musician can be a superstar, anyway). His music was all over the radio, and throngs of teen girls would flail their arms and sing along with “Summer of '69” while being blissfully ignorant of the implied double entendre. This song was Bryan's biggest contribution to the soft-rock genre and went a long way towards defining him as an artist. Much to my chagrin, because at that time there wasn't a teenage boy alive who could hold a candle to his smug, self-satisfied, leather-jacket-wearing, coiffed-hair, muscly singer body, balls-to-the-wall sex appeal. Even if I had gotten a dance out of this ultimately depressing number (which would later go on to feature prominently in Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country, usually played over the battle montage from “Saving Private Ryan”), it's guaranteed the young lady wouldn't have been thinking of me. She would have been thinking of Bryan, and to be honest, I wouldn't have been able to blame her. Still can't, come to think of it.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, obviously – I could write a book about the abysmal failure that has been my romantic life over the last ten or fifteen years (and one day I just might!) - but I think you get the idea. Anybody else out there have a song they love to hate because of how shitty it makes them feel? Hit us back in the comment section – because misery loves company.
Alex James is the head writer at State of Affairs and can regularly be found repelling down tall buildings in the dead of night.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Here is it again, everyone's favourite excuse to wear their most ridiculous green get-up and drink excessively! That's right, it's St. Patrick's Day, and I don't know about you, but I'm not Irish so rather than pleading ignorant I decided to educate myself as to what the big deal is. At least we won't have to worry about turning Lake Ontario green, right?
Although I never did find a 3 leaf clover picking through the grass as a child, I have found some great music over the years. Here are not two, nor four, but three lucky charms that ought to start a jig. May the beer and whiskey flow long and free!
The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar
Dropkick Murphys - Amazing Grace
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Monday, March 15, 2010
This lyric sums up the way I felt about “Them Crooked Vultures”: loving them wasn’t so much a choice as is was a compulsion from the opening beat to the last. When I heard underground rumblings that Dave Grohl had mentioned he, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones of former Led Zeppelin fame were getting together for a side project in early ’05, I nearly jumped out of my skin. As a huge Queens fan I had been patiently waiting almost a year for a new Queens album or the promised re-release and tour of the band’s self titled album. “Them Crooked Vultures” not only whet my appitite, but fully satisfied me and more.
The band has somehow managed to combine the overdriven guitars and haunting vocal styling of Josh, the almost roboticaly perfect hard hitting sound of Dave, and the funky heart stoping bass power of John, throw in a little Alain Johannes (a studio musician who co-wrote “Hanging Tree” from Queens “Songs for the Deaf” and played bass on “Lullabies to Paralyze”) for good measure, and you got a musical gumbo that Emeril Lagasse would be proud to call his own.
Now these guys are no strangers to sucesful “side projects”. John has been fairly low key in his post-Zeppelin days, playing a few festivals like Bonnaroo in ’07 and a few shows here and there with the Foo Fighters. Dave and Josh have been extremely productive in time away from their main” projects, playing in (between the two of them) bands like “Eagles of Death Metal”, “Probot”, “Nine Inch Nails”, ”The Prodigy”, and “The Desert Sessions”, so these guys know how to rock, and how!
Straight from the opening blues/funk inspired track “ No One Loves Me…” and the seemingly Queens inspired “New Fang” on through to the hauntingly Zeppelinesque “Gunman” and Burning hot organ solo of “Caligulove” and the dizzying (pardon the pun) orchestration of “Spinning in Daffodils”, this album starts off in a thundering stampede and finishes like a freight train dropkick to the face. If you’re a fan of anything these three musical titans have been involved with, go out and pick up “Them Crooked Vultures”, get a bottle of your favorite whiskey and be prepared to have a great time.
But until you hit your local liquor store, here's some TCV videos for you...
Mind Eraser, No Chaser
No One Loves Me And Neither Do I
Friday, March 12, 2010
So I married both my loves (playing music and making people laugh) with a healthy dose of narcissism and started a guitar comedy outfit. We're getting pretty good as the shows pile up, but you can't know where you're going unless you know where you're coming from, and the following five artists still trump everything and anything I've done so far. And, if any of you five are reading this, I'm available to open shows. Just sayin'.
JOHNATHON COULTAN – FIRST OF MAY
Most people have never heard of Jonathan Coulton outside purist nerd culture – he's best known for writing the song “Still Alive” for the credits of the hugely popular video game “Portal”, but he's also an accomplished stand-up guitar comedian. His background as a computer programmer and graduate of Yale University's math program makes him suited to write about those topics in his music (“Code Monkey”, “Mandelbrot Set”) but it hardly stops there. He's written love songs about mad scientists (“Skullcrusher Mountain”), local ho's (“The Town Crotch”) and even children's birthdays (“I'm Having A Party”), not to mention an evocative acoustic arrangement of Sir Mix-a-Lot's epic hit “Baby Got Back”, but for me this one takes the cake (which is, evidently, A Lie *nerd reference*). Because really, is there any better way to celebrate the warm weather when young men's thoughts turn to love than spreading out a picnic blanket and getting it on the way nature intended? I submit there is not.
STEPHEN LYNCH - D&D
Stephen Lynch is Adam Sandler on stage. No, really – the West Michigan drama graduate was tapped in 2006 to play Sandler's iconic role as Robbie Hart in the Broadway musical based on “The Wedding Singer”, but his comedy style lends itself well to the Sandler fanatics out there. His songs are a bizarre marriage of a powerful, dynamic voice and a fourth-grader's sense of toilet humor. Fans love his irreverent take on topics ranging from his relationship with his best friend Mark Teich (featured on the left in the video), the ins and outs of dating a Nazi (“Little Tiny Moustache”), religious musings on what the devil is really like (“My Name Is Satan”) and how much it must suck to be Jesus' brother (“Craig Christ”), and even the pain and devastation of fathering a deformed child (“Ugly Baby”). Suffice to say that, if you're attending one of Stephen's many, many shows throughout the year, you'd better leave your political correctness at the door. His ode to Dungeons and Dragons might strike a little too close to home for a guy like me, but thankfully, all those years of bullying have given me a thick skin. And Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but that's neither here nor there.
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS – BUSINESS TIME
You'd think a band that bills themselves “formerly New Zealand's fourth-most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” would be a little less well-known, but the fact is after years of touring, a radio show on the BBC and a TV show on Comedy Central, these charismatic Kiwis are about as well-known as guitar comedians are likely to get. As the only duo on this list, they bring something unique to the stage: I can tell you from experience that two guys writing is better than one guy writing (much as “two minutes in heaven are better than one minute in heaven”). Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement's writing might not be as clever as Coulton's or Lynch's, but their onstage presence and chemistry are unbeatable. Whether they're celebrating the ultimate victory of machines over man (“The Humans Are Dead”), spinning bedtime stories for children (“Albi The Racist Dragon”) or dealing with the troubles of our times (“Issues [Think About It]”) it's pretty clear nothing can keep this dynamic duo down. Not even being abysmally bad in bed, if the women in the front row of that show are any indicator.
ROB PARAVONIAN – CANON IN D
What's really funny about this tribute to the Nine Hundred Songs That Share The Same Chord Progression is that Rob Paravonian complains Pachelbel was a “one hit wonder” and then never released any more music. Okay, he released some, but not a hell of a lot – believe me, I checked. You see, as a musician I can genuinely relate to this song on a deep, personal level. The more you play covers in bars, the more you start to notice the patterns Paravonian pointed out: his montage barely scratched the surface. But for this reason, I'll admit I spent weeks sending this video to every musician I knew. They all agreed, predictably. So does Rob Paravonian really count as a guitar comic, or is he just another internet sensation that we'll never hear from again? Only time will tell – though I can wholeheartedly say I hope not everything he does from here on in consists of the same four chords.
BO BURNHAM – MY WHOLE FAMILY
Now this is the power of the internet at work. Bo Burnham is, quite literally, nobody – from nowhere. Until he discovers YouTube and starts posting hilariously tongue-in-cheek songs that give us an insider's look at a KKK Barbecue (“Cook Out”), provide an easy-to-understand explanation of mathematics that rivals Jonathan Coulton (“New Math”) and even invites us into a support group for Santa and Tony the Tiger, among others, to vent their frustrations (“Rehab for Fictional Characters”). It's genuinely pleasing to see a kid so young (he's 18) be as self-deprecating and honest even as he's making me giggle like one of his classmates – plus, he's a hell of a piano player. This might be the most controversial entry on this list, because Bo's stuff is very much an acquired taste, but thanks to the power of YouTube (twenty million hits to his page at last count) it looks like people the world over are jumping on that bandwagon. Now if only I could figure out how to make people's jokes about me into a six-figure salary – from the comfort of my freaking bedroom.
JON LAJOIE – EVERY DAY NORMAL GUY
I nearly forgot this guy, but thankfully my buddy Aizen called me on it before I sent this article to Van Der Sweet to be posted. By now everybody with an internet connection knows of Jon LaJoie, the visionary musician who brought us “Show Me Your Genitals”. The man's a poet on par with Cohen or Dylan – who else but a genius could bring us lines like “I can't have sex with your personality / and I can't put my penis in your college degree”? Okay, maybe he's not everybody's cup of tea, but you can't deny that the prepubescent in you giggles at his potty mouth and the disenfranchised adult in you genuinely relates to songs like Everyday Normal Guy. That's sort of the point, isn't it? Besides which, he scores high in two of the major selling categories on the Alex James scale of cool: he's Canadian, and he did a commercial espousing the benefits of Not Giving A Fuck. This man could be my soul mate.
So to all the aspiring comedians out there, I say this: yeah, you were cool for a while, but musicians are cooler – and now we're encroaching on your territory. Maybe Jay Leno should take up the tuba. Now that would be some funny shit.
Alex James is the head writer at State of Affairs, and can regularly be found hiding under your desk, recording your conversations and blackmailing you with the evidence later.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Nowadays, when any of these groups or musicians are brought up, you have to state vehemently that you never liked them from the start and you insist you knew they were going to become the jokes they are, for the most part, considered today. Why is this? Why have these former stars been deemed unfit to be considered "talented" now? I mean, the numbers speak for themselves. New Kids on the Block sold millions of records in their prime (22 million worldwide for their second album to be exact). Somebody liked them. To this day they are considered pioneers in their own right, and were the reasons for the "boy band" appeal that happened after them in the 90's and early 2000's. MC Hammer's album was the first Hip Hop album ever to achieve diamond status, and Vanilla Ice's video topped charts for a long period of time.
So again you gotta ask yourself the question. Why was it so uncool to like them then, and so cool to hate them now? Because even then when you were much younger than you are now, even if you may not act like it, you could pick out gimmicks and/or sell outs when you see one. No matter how naive we as the audience may be to music entertainment BUSINESS, we're not idiots. We know when we're being force-fed something to the point where it sticks with the masses, becoming all we are able to hear. That being said, every generation has those gimmicks/sellouts. The problem is sometimes, you can't necessarily pick out the ones who will be sellouts until it's too late and they've already sucked the energy out of you with their talentless acts. So here is where I'm going to try to help out to the best of my ability. I'm going to pick out those "talents" right now, and tell you the reasons why you should expect them to come up in conversations with your friends ten years from now as people they should never have given money to:
Okay let me put this "debate" to bed: Auto tune is not here to stay. It will be deemed a fad and ten years from now, people will listen to albums where artists used auto tune extensively and think: "what the hell was I smoking to like this?". Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreaks and Lil Wayne's Rebirth album are officially put on notice. But the artist that will suffer most of all is T-Pain. Geez, is he ever annoying (but catchy) in no small thanks to his assistance in overusing auto tune. And like every fad that masks a lack of talent, it will not last. T-Pain's more recent music has him actually singing without the help of auto tune to assist him. But as you would figure, his voice just comes across as annoyingly whiny. If you're a betting man or woman, bet on T-Pain not making it through the next decade. Unless you catch one of his songs jokingly being rehashed in a karaoke bar.
This one's a tough one not only because of her current success, but because of her collaborations with talents that have shown staying power, such as Beyonce or Madonna. Aside from that, however, I would have said Lady Gaga would be a laughing stock by 2020. Of course if her current persona doesn't come down to earth she may become a laughing stock out of principle. Despite her talents, Lady Gaga comes across as somebody who is trying too hard, thus making her feel real gimmicky in a quirky, abstract sense. Don't get me wrong, I celebrate diversity and creativity, but when it's at a compromise of your God-given talents, it becomes an unnecessary crutch.
Gene Simmons may have been on to something when he criticized Mr. Lambert for being too vocal about his sexual preference. Now my reasons for agreeing with this statement may be different from his: I do believe it is wholly unnecessary and, again while maintaining the overall theme of this article, gimmicky. There is nothing wrong with an individual being proud of his orientations, sexual or otherwise. But for Adam Lambert to do this, fresh off his journey on American Idol, in which he wasn't even successful might I add, he might as well be a complete stranger. How about you gain some notoriety through your music first before you proclaim your sexual preference to the world Adam? At this point nobody would care if you're gay OR straight. This is somebody I hope people will see through and be laughing at by 2020.
It's actually a shame that people are already laughing at this one, given his importance to the emerging hip hop artists in Atlanta, but that's behind the scenes. What the general public sees of Lil Jon is a musician with little talent and lots of catch phrases: "Yeeaaa!", "Ookay!", "Wwhatt!?" Just a few of the words he was known to say in his token loud, annoying way. He was a producer first and an artist second, hence the reason you heard little from him, but fans nowadays and 5-10 years down the road will remember him for nothing more than silly catch phrases.
What about you? Who will you consider a joke when you're reminiscing about the music you used to listen to back in the good ol' days with your friends or your family? Who's silly facade will you see past? Believe me, there will be no shortage of options.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Show Review: New Found Glory with Saves The Day, Hellogoodbye, and Fireworks @ Royal Oak Theatre (Royal Oak, MI – 03/04/2010) - Posted by BLANKO MEOW
The undisputed champions of pop-punk are back with another headlining tour dedicated to all the long time fans of the band. It’s the 10 year anniversary of New Found Glory’s Self Titled album which is what this tour is based on. This is definitely a special show that any fan will not want to miss, especially with such an amazing line up of bands.
Michigan has always had a reputation of being a dirty sketch hole of a state. There’s a heavy crime rate and a cashiers are always working behind bulletproof glass. To my surprise, Royal Oak is such an artsy and posh area with a good upkeep. The concert venue looked like a legitimate performance theatre as well but altered into a concert club. It was a good vibe of mostly people in their 20’s inside with less teenagers, which was expected considering the fans grew with the band.
The first band on was Fireworks.
This was a hometown show for them, so everyone knew who they were and were really stoked to see them. It’s rare that you see the entire crowd knowing all the lyrics to the very first opening band. They played a huge selection of songs off their debut album ‘All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion’ and even a fan favourite off their EP ‘We Are Everywhere’. The crowd was definitely warming up early into the day and they’re for sure a band to look out for in the future. The new wave of pop-punk bands is looking very promising with Fireworks pushing strong.
The next band on was Hellogoodbye.
They’re probably the oddest band on the line up that doesn’t really fit in with the others but being friends with New Found Glory, they were invited to be on the tour. Surprisingly, they had a good crowd response throughout their set. Over the past while, Hellogoodbye has changed their sound from having syth and effects to now being more of an indie pop-rock band. I don’t blame them though considering the bands of today have butchered their sound with mass amounts of autotune. They stuck to playing mostly older songs off their self titled EP which seemed fitting considering the older crowd who would have listened to them back in the day. Some fan favourites from their debut album were on the setlist, as well as two new songs that showed their change in sound towards a more indie feel. They did a great joke entertaining the crowd and cracked a few jokes in between songs.
The direct support, Saves The Day, was on next.
It was very fitting to have them on the tour as the main opening band considering they’ve been around as long as New Found Glory, are well respected in the “scene”, and share the same fanbase. Singer Chris Conley never disappoints the crowd performing a wide selection of songs ranging from their first album all the way to their current one. They barely talked at all in between songs just so that they could play more. Everyone was singing along and emotionally connecting to the lyrics in filled with exaggerated analogies.
New Found Glory were finally on now.
This was the moment everyone waited for. The stage props were filled with images from the Self Titled album’s CD booklet. As the band was going on stage, their intro song was ‘Party In The USA’ by Miley Cyrus. It was a hysterical moment with people laughing and dancing around for the fun of it. Once the band started, they played the entire Self Titled album from start to finish in celebration of that album being 10 years old. This is why this tour is very special since the band has never played a setlist like that before. The crowd got really into it with endless moshpits, circle pits, and crowd surfing. You could tell that those songs brought everyone back with memories of their youth. It felt as if the crowd sang louder than the band at some points. They played a long encore too which had various greatest hits and fan favourites including songs such as ‘Hold My Hand’ and ‘Understatement’. Not once did the energy from the band or crowd ever lose touch. The band was very thankful to the fans throughout the performance because of still being supportive after many years. In my opinion, they’re one of the best live bands that don’t require any production at all.
It was an amazing show with an outstanding line up of bands. You couldn’t have asked for a better New Found Glory tour. The only downside was the amount of audio feedback you would hear inside the venue, which seemed hard for the bands to fix themselves since it was due to how the venue is constructed. When you know all the lyrics to the songs though, as everyone there seemed to, your own singing will drown out the audio difficulties. This is definitely a tour worth checking out more than once.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
So, earlier, in my groggy morning state I was asked to write a blog about sex. More specifically songs to have sex to. When I was younger I could never give myself a tug if music was on, something about hearing a sad, angsty guy singing was always a little distracting. However, as I aged and began having sex with real, tangible humans I realized music can really change the whole dynamic. So here is a list that started out as a purely enjoyable fun list of songs to romp-a-roo to and quickly became a glimpse into my psyche. Too many rat fetuses coated in sweaty dust up there me thinks. What?!!? I don't know...
With that rant I bring you, SIX SONGS TO LISTEN TO WHILE HAVING SEX:
FUNKADELIC - I GOT A THING, YOU GOT A THING, EVERYBODY'S GOT A THING
"I got a thing, you got a thing, everybody's got a thing." Well, I'm sold and you should be too! This is for wild, riotous sex. It will get your heart pumping and your sexual imagination reaching new carnal levels. The kind of sex you have after a night of partying and are functioning enough for an evening of humping. Starts off nice and funky and later evolves into a blasting of sheer primal energy. Your sexual performance will not compete with the song itself but it may trick your partner into thinking you are a good energetic lay. I can't express enough how absolutely amazing this song is and how intense the sex would be with this blasting through your speakers. I see distant dogs howling, jealous neighbours scoffing and legs and arms all over the place. Get on this and don't be afraid to try that new trick out. BLASTING! BLASTING! BLASTING! The sweet inner and outer beauty of raw animalistic fornication!
THE CRAMPS - WHAT'S INSIDE A GIRL
Dirty, unexpected friend sex (no strings attached. REALLY!). What's inside a girl? Well get in and find out, shitheads. Feel that sex flem! Climb the walls of life. Slide yourself into the world of goo! (no, not the game, Nerds, the real world of goo).
JEFF BUCKLEY - EVERYBODY HERE WANTS YOU
For some soft sensual love making. That's right, love-making. From my experience (my dainty, flaky, uneducated experience) Jeff makes women melt. And let's face it, he makes any honest straight man question his sexuality too. Sometimes I like to pretend I'm making love to him while this song is on. What? This is supposed to be about the lady, the love, the perfect moments that are sex. Listen, the bottom line is if this doesn't ooze hot fleshy goodness from you I don't know what would. So if you can't feel this you are probably paying no attention to the needs and desires of your lover. This is how everybody should view their significant other. I mean that!
A side note: If you have ever seen the film Pump Up The Volume starring Christian Slater then you know the sexy scene in the movie. You know, where the girl takes her top off outside. (My teenager-self masturbation favourite!) Anyway, the song that plays there is a song I am yet to have the pleasure of lovemaking to. One day. If you don't know what i'm talking about here is the scene:
HERBIE HANCOCK - WATERMELON MAN
For some good, lengthy, funky sex (if the man can handle the 10 minutes). And If he can, you're in for a good little journey. From full on funk to the subtly soulful, this song will take you on a nice ride. Another plus is that the beat isn't 190 beats per minute, so you don't have to be extremely fit to pull it off. You just gotta ride the groove like a wave. I like to throw in some off beat elements when I'm working my stuff, I sometimes try to replicate the guitar sound with quick bursts of pull in, pull out. It never really sounds like anything but hot corn on the cob penetrating a stick of butter. Nevertheless, try this on for size and see how it fits. Better than any condom i'd imagine. Get in touch with your inner blackness! Be the groove!
TOM WAITS - HOIST THAT RAG
You've been drinking for days. The ashtrays are full. Lots of shit has been happening. And it hasn't been good. This is animals bucking! This is a hazy afternoon lay. You don't care about the person, they don't care about you. This is a meat war. The "I see no point to refuse sex," sex. The foreplay consists of yellow nicotine fingers crawling around looking for a hole to make barely wet enough for full on penetration. Oh and don't forget you hate yourself. He hates himself. She hates herself. I hate myself. The world and your life are dragging like a decaying slug along a Nevadian dirt road. Sometimes life really is a hole.
. . . Am I the only person who's had this sex?
LEONARD COHEN - CHELSEA HOTEL NO. 2
For the old, exhausted relationship. The one where both parties have had to sacrifice their self esteems in order to keep things going. Where, after the sexual passions have subsided you are both left realizing there is nothing but two lonely bastards sitting in the cold lake of wishful thinking. This is often where apathy to all things begins to develop. One of life's many curses. Ugh, I'm aching just thinking about it. May you never have this sex.
I know, I know. You now have no interest in sleeping with me. Be that as it may, I'd still try to stick it in you.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Well, it's Monday and let's face the fact that it's more than likely you had your fair share of debauchery at the local watering hole over the weekend. You may or may not remember but when the lights came on and everything spun before your eyes, chances are you wondered "Hey, what happened to the party? Where is everyone that once filled the bar? Could it be the day that music died?" Not to worry my friend, what you're hearing is none other than the sweet sound of "last call". In other words, it's your friendly neighbourhood bar staff's way of saying "goodnight," or "go home, you drunk." Now that it's Monday and you're sober (hopefully), what better way to remind yourself of the drunken mistakes you made on the weekend by sitting back half asleep in your chair and listening to some tunes you probably heard, but don't remember. With that, I present to you the 5 Songs You Most Likely Heard During Last Call on Saturday:
KING HARVEST - DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT
DONOVAN - HURDY GURDY MAN
MC5 - LET ME TRY
JOHNNY CASH - WALK THE LINE
Friday, March 5, 2010
Have you ever been at a bar enjoying a hard earned adult beverage when suddenly your ear drums are assaulted by a Guns 'n' Roses/House Of Pain mix over top of a distressing electronic loop? I've lived through it and if you even have to wonder for a second what my reaction was, don't even bother scrolling down to the awesome selection of Rock 'n' Roll below to kick off the weekend. You probably won't like it.
Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love
The Beatles - Hard Days Night
The Cars - Just What I Needed
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Hey Tonight
Loverboy - Working For the Weekend
Okay, not really. It's closer to my colon. You'll see what I mean.
Today's offering comes to you from Jordan Roseman, better known to the listening public as DJ Earworm: a San Francisco-based “mashup artist” who has achieved worldwide fame thanks to his allegedly clever “United State of Pop” remixes featuring the Billboard Top 25 most popular songs of the year.
There will be a moment of silence for our good friend Originality, murdered by unimaginative DJs like Earworm. While it's entirely possible to be original and innovative in an electronic music format, that's not what this is about. At all.
Don't believe me? Check out the Best of 2009.
All right, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?
First of all, I am apparently so far out of the loop when it comes to modern music that I actually had to look up the Billboard Top 25, because I recognized roughly ten percent of the featured performers (I almost wrote “musicians” but I try to avoid typos).
Of course nobody can miss the Black Eyed Peas featuring that skank who peed herself that time, or the creepy dude with the fake nails and the God of War lightning bolt drawn on his face (wait, that's a chick? Did we ever get a final word on that? Actually, never mind; I don't care).
Also figuring prominently was Taylor “I'm Gonna Let You Finish” Swift and Billy Ray's daughter. I know this because when I first watched it I had to ask a friend the identity of the attractive girl with the guitar – and yes, when he told me it was Hannah Shitting Montana I died a little inside and felt an overwhelming urge to go door-to-door in my neighbourhood identifying myself as a dirty old man.
It was nice to see Jason Mraz featured briefly towards the end; he's a very talented guy even if that song of his is overplayed to the point that hearing it makes blood gush from my ear canals. And I was pleasantly surprised to see the Kings of Leon represented amidst a sea of boring corporate hip-hoppers.
But otherwise I was lost. Let's go through it with my trademarked arduous attention to detail. Ready?
0:02. Oh goody, I hate it already. Pop dance music sucks.
0:19. Who's the guy with the magic-fire hand and the ambiguously-homoerotic posse?
0:42. How did that Gosling guy from Breaker High manage to score a record deal?
1:02. Look! It's a real band with instruments and everything! Sadly, this is the last we'll see of rock and roll in this video. Speaks to the state of affairs (*shameless plug*) of current music, doesn't it?
1:05. Is that broad making out with the dog?
1:14. I don't know who's wearing the Communist teeshirt, but this has always bugged me. Communism was not cool, is not cool, and never will be cool. Don't believe me? Go ask the Russians, or the Chinese (if you can somehow contact them). Want to be edgy? Come out wearing a swastika teeshirt. I'll see you at the public lynching.
1:32. Since when does Justin Timberlake ever touch a legitimate instrument, let alone a piano?
1:50. Anybody else confused as to the suddenly-religious message? “I found God”? This video has gone a long way towards convincing me God doesn't exist.
1:53. Oops, I was wrong. Rock and roll makes another appearance. Still not enough to offset the suck.
2:03. Man with drum on head, haphazardly beating it with drum sticks. Somehow I imagine he's hearing exactly what I'm hearing. Want to trade places, Drum Guy?
2:18. Thanks Lady Gaga. We didn't get enough of your puh-puh-Pokerface the rest of the year.
2:25. Why is Fergie channeling Lady Deathstrike? Look bitch. Overly-detailed acrylic nails didn't make us forget about Gaga's questionable gender, and enormous fuckoff claws are not going to make us forget about the pee incident.
2:28. Oh good. Now all the Jersey Village People have hands made of fire. Flaming Jagerbombs, anyone?
2:36. This image calls to mind galloping on horseback. Was this the intent?
2:42. I'll admit to being impressed that DJ Earthquake managed to shoehorn a song about blowjobs into the tone of this song, which tries valiantly to be uplifting, but Flo Rida scares the shit out of me. Look at the size of that man! I'd probably blow him if he asked, just to avoid his rage.
2:57. Does anybody else think the pseudo-white guy in BEP is even scarier than Flo Rida? He looks like my grandmother.
3:05. Jason Mraz is not enjoying this nearly as much as he looks like he is.
3:19. I paused this and looked at it for a half hour, and I still don't know what those people are doing. They look like survivors of a very sexy shipwreck having an orgy in a life raft.
3:20. Hip Hop Lion. What? For a split second I thought Pedo Bear was making a cameo.
3:26. Dusting furniture made out of hot women. At this point – sure, why not?
3:38. Man unimpressed with pillow. Uncle Alex unimpressed with the life choices that led him to write this article.
3:43. I bet she doesn't even need those glasses to see. Fucking hipsters.
3:58. Miley Baggins has finally made it to Mount Doom and now she's going to throw her guitar into the pit. A grateful nation applauds.
4:04. The 80s called. They want their shitty graphics back. Your sunglasses suck.
4:09. Oh, fabulous. Now Hip Hop Lion is playing basketball. Way to avoid obvious stereotyping of Africans. (That's a twofer.)
4:13. Damn, she's not at Mount Doom at all. She's in a valley. Hopefully she's pointing at the bomber flying overhead swooping in for a live-ammo practice run.
4:26. “Life is beautiful”. That's definitely what I took away from this video.
4:35. Whew is right, Guy I've Never Heard Of. I spent a full five minutes thanking every major and minor deity I could think of that it was over.
Wow. That was unpleasant. A lot of people are going to give DJ Earwig a lot of credit for putting this montage together, mostly because the average dullard who listens to this kind of music is going to be awestruck at how he managed to get all of them in the studio to re-record their vocals in the same key. I don't give a lot of Lady Gaga fans credit for intelligence, obviously.
Let's talk about auto-tune for a second. On second thought, let's not – we've had quite enough of it here. Congratulations DJ Earwax: you've stolen T-Pain's crown for Most Egregious Use Of Autotune Ever. It's a tool designed to correct minor inconsistencies in vocals, and while I'll admit this list adds up to a hell of a lot worse than “minor inconsistencies”, there is such a thing as too much. This is too much.
And now the tune is automatically in my head forever. Well played, DJ Earthworm.
Frankly the bit at 2:48 where that hipster girl holds up the “sorry” sign should speak for almost everyone on this list. DJ Earfuck (I'm reaching at this point) managed to blend the shittiest of the shitty into a gigantic shit smoothie, and the masochistic voice that lives in my head is throwing its fist in the air and giving Mad Props. The rest of me just wants a drink. Going down, down.
Alex James is the head writer at State of Affairs and can regularly be found there, expelling rage and ego to his throngs of adoring fans, or else at the bar. Today: bar.
much like getting punched in the groin you know it's going to be bad but sometimes it's worse than expected. this band provides exactly that.
it's unexpected and unnecessary just like when for no apparent reason this song breaks out into auto tune just to justify how awful they are.
if it came down to getting hit below the belt again or listening to that song...i would have to go with the hit.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
It's strange how this came about. I was watching a link at yeahoyeah.com with this rather obscure band talking to Dame Dash. Dame Dash of all people.
Now for those that don't know Dame Dash, you can thank this man for the dominance of the most popular hip hop mogul to date Jay-Z. He opened the door for him and in the fifteen or more years he's been in the game, I have not seen Dame Dash deal with any artist that isn't well known. But, when you have a history of building up one of the greatest of all time from the ground up, you demand to be listened to. Which is what The Black Keys were doing. They listened and they heeded his word. and from that the collaboration that created the album Blakroc was born.
Despite the blues/rock sound from The Black Keys, this is not a reason to sleep on this album. This is a solid HIP HOP album. Why wouldn't it be? Given the fact blues and rock is a part of hip hops ever expanding origins. Blakroc boasts some of the best names hip hop has ever brought forth in the game. And there in lies the genius of this project. It's not just an album where the band got any artist Dame can get his hands on. For each track Dame suggested individuals he thought would meet the tracks' criteria. Most notably Mos Def who has made it clear he has been an absolute fan of the rock group for some time now. I would have to say he fit the tracks he was on more than other artists on the album. "On the Vista" displayed his lyrical talents in an appropriate way as well as his vocals. His vocals were more prominent in "Aint Nothin Like You". This song invokes a mood in me that wants to go to a blues club with a pint of Guinness in hand and just sit and reflect.
Then there's Jim Jones who collaborates with Mos Def on this track. Jim Jones has come a long way, lyrically, from his early days with Cam Ron and it shows on this album. If this was four years ago and you were to tell me that Jim Jones was to be on the same track as Mos Def, I would have asked "why does Jim Jones want to embarrass himself like that?" But he really displays a lyrical talent that, while still needs work in my eyes, is really reflective and deep. This is something that is slowly becoming a rarity in today's current form of hip hop music. He goes at it again later in the album in what became my favourite song "What you do to me" alongside M.O.P. member Billy Danze who comes enthusiastically hard as he always does.
Other highlights for this album were tracks that boasted the affiliate of Jim Jones, Noe. The two tracks Noe were on, "Hard Times" and "Done did it" really give you a sense of this up and comers talent. Wu-Tang Clan was featured heavily on this album with a track that included Raekwon, "Stay off the F**ckin Flowers", and two from Rza "Dollaz and Sense" and "Tellin me Things I don't want to hear".
Black Keys produced a track called "Coochie" which featured the vocals of the late Ol' Dirty Bastard as well as Ludacris and I have to say, if there was ever a low point in the album it was this. Ludacris just doesn't fit the chemistry of the entire album and Dirty's vocals over the Black Keys production just don't go right together. If this is the only complaint I have though, it's not much as this track is still decent regardless.
If this is the direction Dame Dash is headed towards, I am onboard for this journey. Despite the rocky dispute that ended his 10 year partnership with Jay-Z and Jay-Z's continued success WITHOUT Dame, you still have to respect the man with the credentials he has under his belt. And if he going to be the "saviour" for hip hop music that doesn't suck, if he wants to be known for no longer being affiliated with "whack" music, namely mainstream artists, then I'm all for it.
In a time of excessive pop and glam rock, 80's Metal stood out like a sore thumb and eventually became one of the raddest styles of music to ever grace our pumping stereos. When people think of 80's metal, surely they think 'Metallica.' Their commercial success has given them that recognition. However, there were certain other metal bands that came out in the 80's that rocked harder, faster, and better than Metallica. I believe they deserve the same kind of recognition, and much, much more. Leaving aside the wonderful things Metallica has given us, such as the suing of Napster, DVD's about their feelings, and St. Anger, here are FIVE bands and all the right reasons they're far superior to Metallica.
I thought I'd start with Megadeth because there seems to be some controversy between them and Metallica. The diehard Metallica fan maintains that Dave Mustaine (Megadeth lead singer and founder) was kicked out of Metallica because he drank too much and wasn't good enough. WRONG. Clearly what happened is this: James Hetfield had starting writing the album 'Load' back in the early 80's. Mustaine thought it was such crap, he picked up and left to start a real band and to drink as much as he wanted without having to hear Lars ulRICH whine about it. Mustaine's new band was so damn good that Hetfield and Metallica scrapped 'Load' and attempted to play real music like Mustaine was doing over at Megadeth (See Megadeth's "Mechanix" and Metallica's "Four Horseman"). A decade later, after Metallica ran out of ideas and needed more money they resorted back to 'Load'. Now that the story is straight, here's some Megadeth:
Now this one's easy. Slayer is harder, faster and just plain better than Metallica in all aspects. No one in Metallica could last a second playing in Slayer or living their lifestyles. Another good thing about Slayer is the fact that they have NEVER made, let alone released, a shitty album, and metal bands tend to come out with a few in their careers (Load, Reload, St. Anger, etc.). That's 14 Albums and still going strong. Trust me, there's nothing quite like waking up first thing in the morning to the tune of 'War Ensemble'. Yeah I'd like to see the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra keep up with THIS:
3. IRON MAIDEN:
They may not be part of the "Big Four" thrash-metal bands of the 80's, but Iron Maiden still has to be mentioned as being far superior to Metallica. Maiden mixes metal with emotion in fantastic style, from their trade-off guitar solos, to Bruce Dickenson's screaming vocals, to Steve Harris' bass riffs rolling faster than a steam-train at full speed. It's widely believed that Bruce Dickenson has the most identifiable voice in metal. Put his voice against James Hetfield's cockrock-like voice and we have no contest. Or as James Hetfield would put it, "NO CONTESTAAAAAH"
Ahhh, Testament. What a fantastic band. They may not be the fastest, but they're definitely the hardest band in this article. Go ahead, put on the album "Low" by Testament and then put on ANY Metallica album after. You'll feel as if you're listening to Justin Bieber. When you're through laughing, line up Testament's James Murphy and Metallica's Kirk Hammet for a speed-metal lead-solo contest (man that sounds awesome). Once again Testament is far superior. And yes, I'm aware that Testament started kicking major ass in the 90's but they started off in the 80's. So there. Oh and also, Testament can play live - which I certainly can't say about Metallica.
So far I've mentioned vocals, guitar playing ability, speed and hardness, but when I think about Pantera all I can think is AARRRGHHHHHH!! Talk about a raw sound that just burns the soul. Pantera also has 10x more energy, and even though it goes without saying, has 10x more PASSION as well. Pantera is yet another band that absolutely makes Metallica look like dainty tinkerbells floating "off to never never land". Also Phil Anselmo is one of the hardest and scariest looking dudes out there, so I fear if I don't put Pantera on this list I'll be killed by his stare.