Tag Archives: New York Times

Kuma’s Secretly Hearts Emo

I’d heard of Kuma’s Corner for months and have craved their metal-themed hamburgers and pretzel buns for many a month I’ve lived in Chicago. Tonight, I set out for the famous metal bar and was able to snatch a spot before the looming crowd grew larger than the small room had space for. And I noticed something so curious that the New York Times picked up on before I was able to get to my WordPress:

I DON’T know what I was expecting — guns? outlaw bikers? — but the restaurant, with its high ceilings and a pleasing corner location, didn’t end up all that threatening. Sure, there were drawings of half-naked female vampires on the walls, a scrawl reading “Die Emo Die” above the bar, and the incessant and propulsive fluttering of double-kick bass drums chugging under growled vocals on the sound system all night, but my girlfriend’s parents — not the target demographic, one assumes — described it afterward as “a hoot.”

Yep. “Die Emo Die.” The Times piece actually makes it a bit more prevalent than the three words actually are. They’re scrawled in chalk, are a bit small and sit atop a gigantic picture of a bear. And with all the other chalk descriptions (what charity they’re giving money to this month, the burger of the month), t-shirts and random ephemera on the wall, it isn’t terribly noticeable. I guess that is unless you’re me and it sticks out almost immediately. It also helps that I sat at that part of the bar directly facing those three words.

And yet, just after sitting down something curious blasted through the bar’s speakers. At The Drive In’s “One Armed Scissor.” At The Drive In, a band that is by any other means, emo. Sure, it’s hard as hell, but it’s emo nonetheless. So, I smiled to myself, made note to my roommate who joined me in the metal meal quest and awaited the arrival of my burger (the “Melvins” burger.)

And man was it delicious. The atmosphere there was great, and is certainly another fond reminder of some great metal acts that exist. It’s just another great place that only seems to exist so perfectly in a place like Chicago.

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…And I’m All Out Of Bubblegum

Oh, the many wonders of Goggle:

With all the video sites out there, I tend to forget Google video exists, but they’ve got some great stuff.

Like John Carpenter’s They Live, a fantastic cult movie that seems as ingrained in today’s society as the 80s. The protagonist is a wandering, jobless American who just wants to do things right and work hard (yada yada yada), the economy’s bad and people are living in shantytowns in LA (there was an NY Times article about tent towns popping up across California this summer), there’s conspiracy, fear of the other, fear of the government, etc. You can twist it into whatever socio-political perspective you want to push, but as a sci-fi action film, it hits it right on the head. And any Shepard Fairey fan might be able to see what he found so fantastic about this film and what certain images, ahem, “crop up” in his art.

I know, kind of a random post, but this is one of those movies that really lives up to whatever standards of cult fandom are out there… and there are a ton.

Scoop?

Well, I haven’t gotten out to Warped just yet, but even so, it seems that I got the jump on the New York Times with my piece on the whole scrunk thing for The Phoenix.

Ok, perhaps that’s a huuuuuge overstatement, but Jon Caramanica did notice the combination of electronics and screamo as sure as I did:

Each summer the Warped Tour traverses the country, surviving through big-tent optimism and style agnosticism. A few years ago it was selling emo, and after that, screamo. But 2009 will be remembered as the year the Warped Tour transmogrified into a rave.

Well that should certainly prove something to the kids commenting on my article on Jason Tate’s AbsolutePunk blog that I’m not the only one who can see an aesthetic realm where Attack Attack and brokeNCYDE coexist as peers.

Gonna check out Warped on Tuesday… I’ll be interested to see how Massachusetts kids react to bands like Millionaires, who (according to the Times article) got quite a trashing.

Also, I apologize for a bit of a lag on many writing fronts as of late (especially with America Is Just A Word). Summer has finally hit New England and I’ve taken to a bit of relaxation here and there. But, I shall continue onwards soon enough!

16

In a good-natured piece in one of the many blogs run by The New York Times entitled, “‘Emo Lincoln’ Gets the Flickr Treatment,” Noam Cohen and Robert Mackey point out how the the following photo of Abraham Lincoln is tagged with the words “emo” and “punk” (as well as, curiously not mentioned in the article, “werewolf”) on the Library of Congress’ Flickr photo stream. Here’s the picture:

emo Abe

emo Abe

There have been so many pieces honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln, so many recently published books celebrating his life and legacy. But this piece hearkens back to the many images of Lincoln that have been dreamt up in the American cultural mindset. Here are a few favorites. Enjoy:

“Clone High” Abe:

Obama Lincoln

Obama Lincoln

The Electric Six Version:

and finally…

the saddest five bucks

the saddest five bucks

Maybe It’s Called “Grammy” Because It’s For Old People…

I didn’t even bother watching the Grammys (nor have I in the past… well, who knows), because, well, for one thing, I rarely go out of my way to watch TV (especially on a Sunday night). But for one thing, of all the inumerable awards out there, the Grammys seem most meaningless; they toss aside critical flavor and often consumer favor for boomer taste. If you were to look at the nominees for many of the awards this past year, then yes, you may have to contend with the idea that 2008 was a lously year for music (especially considering the big winner of the night was an album that didn’t even come out this past year). And sure, Lil’ Wayne got a lot of awards, but they seem tailored for his genre and not his proven artistic merit… after all, they have so many hip-hop-based awards, somebody has to get them. (Not to rag on hip-hop, but rather the mindset of the award categories and concept… the hip-hop category appears to be the only one that does promote forward-thinking and inventive musicians on a mainstream level.)

And this is far from a unique complaint on my behalf. Just look at The New York Timeslive blogging from when Robert Plant & Alison Krauss won the big one…

 

“11:23 p.m. | Album of the Year — Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Raising Sand”

Dave: Come on, you knew it.
Jon: I mean, what can you say? I did indeed know it. It just would have hurt to say it.
Dave: Is it really that bad a compromise?
Jon: Let’s think of some collaborations we’d assemble next year to win a Grammy.
Dave: Mick Jagger and Cat Power?
Jon: Julian Casablancas and Iggy Pop.
Dave: M.I.A.’s baby and Aretha Franklin.
Jon: Pretty sneaky, sis!
Dave: But back to the question at hand — is it that disappointing a victory? It could have been Coldplay…
Jon: I’m not disappointed in the music, only in the inevitability. I mean, next year, let’s dispense with pretense and nominate five albums for the NPR/AARP set.
Dave: This can’t be seen as a crossover album, one that reaches out to older listeners and, um, medium-age listeners?
Jon: Your great-grandparents, and your grandparents!
Dave: My parents and me? I like Zep, they like Zep. It’s a start.
Jon: Not my parents and me. I appreciate your Yes We Can attitude!
Dave: Next time you want to talk about your parents, I’m charging you $125 an hour.
Jon: It’s not that the Grammys need to surprise or shock, but more that they need to reflect what’s actually happening in popular music. Otherwise, they run the risk of becoming a niche event. $125? That’s a bargain.”

 

Talk about nasty! And these guys aren’t exactly spring chickens to boot. (Just check out this hilarious annotated review of The New York Timespiece by the Fader on a Wavves show from this past weekend – the kind of gig that would seem to appeal to the most notorious vinyl diggers and uber-hip and not the middle-to-upper-class readership that NYT is famous for garnering.)

But their message is clear, and it’s something along the lines of “this is a farce. One big, giant stink that basically curtails the idea of an awards show celebrating current music, another bland attempt to celebrate the bygone eras, no matter what the music they produce today sounds like.” I could go on, but there’s plenty in there for another combination. But in essence, you don’t have to be some rabbid fan of indie, emo, hip-hop, reggae, salsa, klezmer, jazz, blues, funk, soul, R&B, world music, or even rock to notice that there’s something wrong when one of the only albums of this decade to sell over a million copies in a day (Tha Carter 3), a record that broke taboos for consumption and distribution while breaking online sales (In Rainbows… though it was released in 2007), and a couple of equally popular current pop acts are beat out by a baby boomer choice record that came out a year previously and also won “Record of the Year” despite having no discernable single released (according to Allmusic). It just doesn’t quite make… any sense really. 

In closing here’s the only thing from the night that I’ve been able to view on YouTube, and only one of two that I probably would’ve enjoyed seeing live on TV (the other being the performance of “Swagga Like Us”). And because this is YouTube and all, I was hoping to have been spared the introduction, this time an unfortunately horrendus ode to Radiohead’s brilliance by Gwyneth Paltrow (we understand you love ’em – your husband has made a career of trying to sound like them). Anywho, here goes:

Breaking News: iTunes and DRM-Free Songs

New York Times technology correspondent Brad Stone has some great information on the future of DRM-free songs available on iTunes. Blogging live from the Macworld Expo, here’s the quick and dirty down low:

“1:37 p.m.: More background: EMI had been the only one of the four major labels to offer DRM-free songs through iTunes Plus. The other three held out, demanding the right to set a range of prices for songs. They also wanted to spur the growth of Amazon’s MP3 store as a competitor to iTunes. But now Apple has given in on variable pricing, and is now fully joining the DRM-free movement.”

Does this mean all songs on the iTunes store will be DRM-free? It’s too soon to tell what the consequences are, and with the impact of variable pricing, how that will impact the number of people who buy music from iTunes and elsewhere. And to think, the infamous EMI is the first to offer DRM-free tunes… wonder what Johnny Rotten makes of all this… or better yet, what today’s punk and emo bands think…

 

Updates/More Information:

 

Here’s more information from the Apple website on the iTunes DRM changes:

“High-quality, DRM-free music. 
iTunes Plus is the new standard on iTunes.

Now, you can choose from millions of iTunes Plus songs from all four major music labels and thousands of independents. With iTunes Plus, you get high-quality, 256-Kbps AAC encoding. All free of burn limits and digital rights management (DRM). So iTunes Plus music will play on iPod, Apple TV, all Mac and Windows computers, and many other digital music players. It’s also easy to upgrade your iTunes library to iTunes Plus. You don’t have to buy the song or album again. Just pay the 30¢ per song upgrade price. (Music video upgrades are 60¢ and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.)”

 

*One reader asked for a definition of DRM-free. As the above piece indicates, DRM stands for digital rights management, which basically meant there were controls exercised over the music you would purchase from iTunes, despite the fact that you’ve purchased it. For example, there are limits on how often you can burn a song (breach the limit and you can no longer play the song), once you burn a song it looses its quality in the copied version, you can only play a song on certain digital music player (aka if you purchased music from iTunes and it was a DRM file, you could only play it on iTunes), etc. DRM-free basically means all these regulations placed upon songs you would pay to download that were encrypted in your music are no longer in place if you are to download music from iTunes. Basically, you will have complete control over the music you purchase.

They Said It…

Right on the button… The emo-inspiring (in pop terminology, that is) webcomic title of Pictures For Sad Children has some of the driest and most on-point sense of humor I’ve seen online. And the depictions of music blogs and obsessions with top 10 lists is pretty histerical, even given my own end of the year lists.

Still, the thing I love most about end of the year lists isn’t an incessant need to categorize everything, but rather reflect on some of the music/movies/whatever that I found particularly compelling from the past year. These lists are often attempts by many to stand the “test of time,” but in many ways they’re a great marking for an individual’s personal state-in-time. Looking back on some of my previous end of year lists, I see records I undeniably loved and still cherish, but I can see there are other albums that would have garnered higher spots and some records that mean more to me as a, dare I say it, nostalgic item more than “album # of whatever year it is.” Looking back, there are some albums I might dig up soon and give another re-listen (because catching up on music is a job in and of itself).

Largehearted Boy has a full listing of countless year end music listings, to which this blog was humbly included, so check out that site for all the music you could ever want and more. I will not even attempt to match what he’s done, but rather give something of a breakdown, matching where I placed my top 10 against other listings. Enjoy:

# 1: TV On The Radio – Dear Science,

#1: Ann Powers (L.A. Times), The A.V. Club, Chris DeLine (Culture Bully), Entertainment Weekly, Jon Pareles (New York Times), Josh Keller (Culture Bully), Michael D. Ayers (Billboard), MTV, Rolling Stone, Spin

#2: Edna Gundersen (USA Today), I Guess I’m Floating, Margaret Wappler (L.A. Times), Stereogum (Gummy Awards), NME, TIME, WOXY (Top Played Albums)

#3: Blender, New Haven Register, Tiny Mix Tapes, Uncut Magazine

#4: Alexandra Cahill (Billboard), Erik Thompson (Culture Bully), Greg Kot (Chicago Tribune), NPR Listeners Poll

#5: Amy Lindsey (KEXP), Justin Harris (Billboard), Cleveland Plain Dealer

#6: Pitchfork, Troy Carpenter (Billboard)

#7: Associated Press (Best Rock Albums), Nate Chinen (New York Times), Q Magazine

#8: Susan Visakowitz (Billboard)

#9: Cortney Harding (Billboard)

#10: Jessica Letkemann (Billboard)

#11: Chicago Sun-Times

#20: Mojo

#27: Drowned In Sound

#33: Amazon.com editors’ Best Albums

#50: Paste Magazine

General Favorite Listing: John Bush (Allmusic.com, top pop albums), Heather Phares (Allmusic.com, top pop albums), James Christopher Monger (Allmusic.com, top pop albums), Jason Kinnard (KEXP), Joan Anderman (Boston Globe), Kelly Hilst (KEXP), Limewire Music Blog, Sarah Rodman (Boston Globe),

Honorable Mention: New York Observer

#2: Why? – Alopecia

#1: Morgan Kluck (KEXP)

#6: About.com

#7: Drowned In Sound

#8: Eric Mahollitz (KEXP)

#10: Morgan Chosnyk (KEXP)

#11: Tiny Mix Tapes

#13: Stereogum (Gummy Awards)

#24: Cokemachineglow

General Favorites Listings: Kyle Johnson (KEXP)

Honorable Mention: Pitchfork

#3: Parts & LaborReceivers/Escapers Two

#5. New Haven Register

#6: Greg Kot (Chicago Tribune)

#9: Amazon.com editors’ Best Alternative Rock Albums

#12: Chicago Sun-Times

#25: I Rock Cleveland

#53: Amazon.com editors’ Best Albums

General Favorite Listing: Allmusic.com Best Noise Albums

#4: Sun Kil MoonApril

#1: Erik Thompson (Culture Bully)

#2: Jonathan Cohen (Billboard)

#5: New York Observer

#7: Robert Thompson (Billboard)

#8: Paste Magazine

#16: The A.V. Club

Honorable Mention: Pitchfork

#5: PonytailIce Cream Spiritual

#8: Blender

#12: Tiny Mix Tapes

#13: Fact Magazine

#50: Pitchfork

General Favorite Listing: Allmusic.com Best Noise Albums

#6: Neon NeonStainless Style

#7: Uncut Magazine

#11: NME

#28: Mojo

General Favorite Listings: Stephen Thomas Erlewine (Allmusic.com, top pop albums), Matt Collar (Allmusic.com, top pop albums),

#7: The Mae Shi – HLLLYH

#8: Baltimore City Paper

#18: Pitchfork

#8: The DodosVisiter

#2: Josh Keller (Culture Bully)

#5: Katie Hasty (Billboard)

#9: Chris Barton (L.A. Times)

#10: Eric Mahollitz (KEXP), NPR Second Stage

#12: Cokemachineglow

#23: Stereogum (Gummy Awards)

#24: I Guess I’m Floating

#39: Paste Magazine

Honorable Mention: Pitchfork

#9: Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires

#8: Drowned In Sound

#10: NME

#46: WOXY (Top Played Albums)

General Favorites Listings: Melissa Trejo (KEXP)

#10: Food For AnimalsBelly

Looks like it’s just me…

…then again, this list is quite short of “comprehensive.” And in the end, it’s ultimately the individual who chooses what they like, right?