Tag Archives: Nickelback

Downlo(d)

I’ve got an odd relationship with downloading. I’m usually outspoken against it when discussing the subject with most of my friends, but usually for a variety of reasons that you really can’t articulate when these types of conversations boil down to lots of yelling. I’ll diffuse the normal “record labels and artists” and “pirating” and blah blah blah arguments that are usually the focus of the downloading conundrum for folks.

A big frustration for me with the design downloading is a certain culture that’s been generated because of its appeal. One would assume that, with millions and millions of songs and bands at one’s fingertips that one would relish the opportunity to listen to at no cost. In theory, it’s a great benefit for the consumer.

In theory.

But really, from what I’ve witnessed, it (more often than not) creates a Consumer culture, with a big “C.” Considering the ease with which one can accumulate albums, the potential to seek out a hard-to-find gem in the same way that so many vinyl junkies can be whistfully nostalgic about is really gone. A few clicks of the mouse and it’s yours. And just about any other album you can think of.

So, instead of pouring over a piece of music, one can just accumulate a massive sonic library packed with things that they might never properly touch or listen to. The ability to say ‘I’ll download it” and not only not think twice, but not think about the album or song after the music is in your possession is increased tenfold.

How do I know this? Well, it could be from witnessing friends who ingest music without a thought (be it to the amount of time that was put into the piece of music or to the potential legal ramifications of their actions or merely stating the thought/sentence “I’ll just download it”) and, more often than not, usually let the music lay waste.

Or I could also know it from my own actions in the past. Not necessarily with illegal downloading of the sort: I maybe illegally downloaded a few dozen songs at the tail end of high school and promptly deleted most of those songs when I acquired the albums from other means. It’s more of my music acquisition in other areas. For example, I was a DJ at my college radio station for 4 years. During my shows, I’d pop a CD into the stereo system linked to the airwaves, eject it after it played, and then popped it into my computer. With literally thousands of CDs at my beckoning call, I could go on music binges, often uploading more songs than I could possibly listen to. I’d often try to, but I still come across the spare album I’ve rarely listened to (which makes for a fun listen in and of itself). (You could argue that, this action too, is just as illegal as downloading. But beyond my own arguments of merit, you have to take into account that most record companies realize that when they send music to a radio station – which are usually run by people who love music – people at radio stations are going to want what comes in the mail. Especially – gasp – college stations.)

At the same time, I also know I’m something of a music fanatic, and I take the time and energy to comb through blogs, newspapers, magazines, flyers, record stores, friends conversations, etc etc to find out about music. But my “Consumer kulture” really comes into play with a large majority of music listeners in the country. This mass is the same line of people who, decades before leading up to now (and even including the present), got their music listening “habits” from the major sources of music distribution, be it radio, television, newspapers, magazines. They listened to whatever landed on their grid, be it good, or bad (especially “or bad”). So now, today, when downloading – and illegal downloading – account for a majority of music consumption today, why is it that “bands” and “musical artists” such as, say, Nickelback (who I pick on a ton, but for good reason) continue to not only retain a large popularity of corporate radio/television while most critics and people who consider themselves to have musical taste largely detest the group? When Joel Tenenbaum‘s court case against the RIAA recently went to trial, were the illegal downloads in question the products of someone who poured through the dregs of the net in order to find these jewels? No. Nothing but Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and other 90s alternative ephemera that, while good music, is the kind of collection that corporate radio has been surviving on since 1991 and Joel himself was reared on as a child. Most folks who are sued for illegally downloading tend to get caught for gathering some monolithic singles, which happen to be under the ownership of the big record companies in America. I would be hard pressed to see the RIAA hightailing it after some kid who illegally downloaded Black Flag’s My War and a couple of Jade Tree albums, though color me red if that indeed has happened. However, that would be the mark of someone who used downloading to seek out unfamiliar, unavailable, and unique musics and took the time and energy to do so. And that’s not the case that I see with a majority of people who download.

Of course, that is all a mass generalization, but sometimes generalizations are needed in order to gain a perspective on a certain culture…

Anyway, this brings me to a certain situation one of my downloading fiend friends was so quick to throw back in my face:

A handful of weeks ago, I discovered an excellent MediaFire folder through last.fm, and it is like discovering a holy grail of sorts. It’s officially called “Emo: 1985-1999,” though the url attachment is “emoisdead” (a query I’d argue against, but that’s another aside). Upon opening the link, I was blown away. 36 pages of 1st and 2nd wave emo acts. Many of them rarer than rare. Obscurer than the most obscure, out of print 7″ out there. For who knows how long I was so overwhelmed all I could do was click through the pages and stare in awe. There was some stuff I’d only heard whiffs of. And all on one site. And all for free.

Sort of.

As I said, I haven’t downloaded anything that hasn’t had the artists consent since the tail end of high school. I’ve got ye olde emusic account, I still buy CDs, I’ll grab stuff from blogs, and scour the net for musician-approved downloads. But, from all the huff and puff and ribbings I’d give friends who’d download a torrent without hesitation or afterthought and (sometimes) no interest in the artist, it would be an awful conundrum for me, especially when I’d discuss this. Because how could I not. This was a find!

Of course, it came back to hit me in the ass with one friend. And of course, whenever I’d provide some sort of insight into why I’d want to download some of this stuff or any claim I thought was legitimate, the potential for real discourse was closed. And I understand why, and I certainly deserved a good ribbing.

But, for me, there’s so much more than just Consumption. I’ve got an academic-strength interest in emo, and, after all, I’ve got America Is Just A Word in the works. And I believe I’ve still got them principles to back it up. There’s plenty of stuff on the mediafire site, and plenty I won’t download. There’s some stuff from Gravity Records or Dischord that I just won’t dare touch. The music is still in print, I can still purchase it. I know (and in some cases, have met and talk to) the artists and labels benefit from this, that there’s not some convoluted big-label hierarchy that most of my money would be going to, but the people who’s work I genuinely support. (Though I don’t necessarily have any qualms for/against major labels and taking money away from them… I don’t care for a lot that goes on in their system, but man, there are some great bands on major labels.)

But the other stuff on there? Some of that stuff just isn’t available anymore. And some stuff never was available.

Like Strictly Ballroom, which featured The Postal Service’s Jimmy Tamborello on bass. Their 1997 record Hide Here Forever came out on Waxploitation Records and is out of print and not even available on iTunes in the US (and only partially elsewhere). And it’s in the MediaFire emo folder.

Or Trocar, who’s Citywater album, which is apparently available on Self-Satisfied records, except for that any link to purchase the CD from the location on myspace in nearly impossible to get to without some anti-virus spyware popping up warning of various hazards, and they even say download it if you so feel like having it and give a link too (though it ain’t their preference). And it’s in the MediaFire emo folder.

Or The Promise Ring’s 3 track demo, a tape that was never meant to be created to be distributed for commercial sake. And it’s in the MediaFire emo folder.

Or Watercolour, a band I can’t track down for the life of me, and one which has no discernible song titles on their unreleased album, Stories About Old Rich White People, but it’s available on the emo-themed MediaFire site.

This is stuff for the superfans, the folks who seek out music, and it should be available for them. And because of downloading, it is. And whoever made the MediaFire emo folder isn’t the only one out there. A chunk of these hard-to-find bands are doing it themselves. Be it The Trigger Quintet posting all their songs for free download on last.fm, The Shyness Clinic letting folks download their entire discography off of Facebook, or James Joyce of Chocolate Kiss posting a link to download the band’s album Onethrutwelve on his blog with an accompanying history of the band and the story behind every song (complete with liner notes), it’s clear that these artists want their stuff out there… otherwise, why would they make and record their music in the first place?

I’m not necessarily defending myself… rather, I’m just happy I discovered this treasure, and am happy to continue to share it.

So, for those interested parties, here, once again is the link to one hellofa emo library:

Emo: 1985-1999

Do whatever you will whenever you will.

Below are a handful of tracks I’ve enjoyed while combing through the massive list available. Enjoy:

The Trigger Quintet – “A Return Home”:

Strictly Ballroom – “Something That Just Is”:

Trocar – “Cathy – Little – Big – Man”:

Ordination of Aaron – “New Face”:

Roosevelts Inaugural Parade – “Darkened Sky”:

Watercolour – “Track 1”:

Chocolate Kiss – “Yellow Bear”:

Chune – “Water Sandwich”:

The Promise Ring – “12 Sweaters Red”:

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Lionize the Losers

The NFL regular season wound down yesterday, which left me pretty excited seeing as the Baltimore Ravens have made the playoffs and have a pretty good chance of taking their season beyond their Wild Card spot. The Detroit Lions have finally gotten national attention where there was none previously by becoming the 1st team to go 0-16 since the season was expanded from 14 to 16 games. Just as the Patriots were celebrated for their undefeated regular season last year (which we all know the ending of), the Lions have gained a bit more publicity than any other season in the past decade… and they go out without tarnishing their defeated season as the Pats did last year (tarnish depends on your perspective of the Pats from the fan’s seat).

There’s something so endearing about the state of teams/players in competitive sports, where the losers get just as much attention and adoration as the winners do. Even in a state of mind where there can only be one winner, there are so many stories that fill a season/year, because otherwise, we might just be bored with the competition. But the “loser” narrative is so intriguing, mostly because it isn’t celebrated by its fans.

In music, there’s nothing quite like it. Sure, “loser” became a catchall term for the grunge/alternative scene of the early 90s, epitomized by Sub Pop’s flagrant hype machine printing out t-shirts of the term by the truckload.

But the question I’m thinking of remains: who celebrates a “loser” band, aka a bad band? No one would willingly plunk down any money to go see a band they absolutely hate (never mind one’s own limits for spending money on bands one likes). But there must be some celebrated band that people love to hate, and I’m not talking just Nickelback (they still manage to sell millions of albums and play amphitheaters). I’m talking a band that sucks so much that people off all backgrounds detest them with the mightiest passion, hate every song, buy their merch just to burn it. Methinks – and probably because the underlying subject of this blog might tip it off – of an emo band immediately, as there have been hundreds of thousands of bands to soil the name of the genre in no time. But nothing stands out in particular, and even what I feel are the most idiotic and contemptuous emo groups have their own devoted, rabid fanbase, ready to tear apart haters at a moments notice. But there must be one out there…

So where is this mythologically bad band?
I can only think of Manowar, but come on, their whole package is too hilarious… or maybe that’s the right qualification…

A Heavy Cure

You have to hand it to the Boston Herald on this one. The Weekly Dig usually dispenses the mean-spirited disses, but this Michael Marotta column on bad summer trends takes the cake. Specifically, the following point:

Ivy League indie rock

Right now, Vampire Weekend and Chester French are taking our hard-earned money with half-hearted indie songs. But you know that when their 15 minutes expire, they’ll become our bosses. Double-whammy bar, indeed.

Finally. And I thought I was the only one who saw nothing in Vampire Weekend. Just like every white person, I enjoy my fair share of indie rock. But a band like Vampire Weekend just absolutely kills the point for me every time – it creates a formula and brings it to its dullest nadir.

Thank goodness for Heavy Heavy Low Low.

Heavy Heavy Low Low

Heavy Heavy Low Low

When I stumbled upon the description of the San Jose group’s newest album, Turtle Nipple and the Toxic Shock, I could feel my pupils dilate. Suffice to say, I was quite curious to hear what a collective sonic sample of Black Flag, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and the Beach Boys would sound like. Needless to say, the album didn’t live up to my expectations, mostly because I couldn’t imagine any sort of aural idea for what the band was shooting for. And it certainly provided me with a nice kick of, well, punk fury.

Turtle Nipple and the Toxic Shock

Turtle Nipple and the Toxic Shock

Though HHLL clearly bare the mark of an act drenched in third wave emo/screamo, that was just a starting point for the band. Much as the description that emblazons the new album notes, Turtle Nipple and the Toxic Shock sees the group foregoing typical grindcore fare that they seem to have gotten stuck in on their earlier material. Sure, they’ve got aggressive, speedy blasts of punk delivered in seconds flat (Black Flag; check), they’ve got adam’s apple-smashing screams surrounding meticulous, mathy chord progressions (Dillinger Escape Plan; check). But, they seem matured and self-assured, as the second half of the album opens up with restrained treks into atmospheric and ambient pop territory (Beach Boys; well, sort of check). It may not be the most listen-able record of the summer, but it certainly is an enthralling, unexpected, and exciting trip. Now there’s something I can’t say about Vampire Weekend.

Heavy Heavy Low Low – Inhalent Abuse (video):

...for a great 90s night

...for a great 90s night

If you’re in the mood for some great rock music that won’t hit you like a sack of rocks, download Nick Catchdubs and Mr. Ducker’s Radio Friendly Unit Shifter Mixtape. It’s a 90s-themed jam that reworks some great “old” tunes. And the only nostalgia it seems to bring up is a reminder of the time before commercial radio was one big Nickelback song.