Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

Juice Sux

I did a little write up for The Boston Phoenix this week on Jamba Juice’s blatant rip-off of Get Your War On. I’d always been a fan of David Rees and GYWO since I came across it in high school (back when I, yes, did in fact read, Rolling Stone… and yet, I knew there was something odd back then when the most interesting thing I learned about from the magazine was a webcomic and not, say, music), and his on-point humor and creativity has always been something to relish. (Yes, even whilest Rees incorrectly attributed cultural points towards emo when describing Mark Sanford as the “first emo governor.”)

Rees is certainly well aware of the odds against and in favor of him, and is fortunate enough to not only take as much of it in stride, but really use his humor for his own benefit in battling Jamba Juice… or, as he likes to call it, Jawa Juice.

You can read more about it in my article here, or in the pages of online text Rees has dedicated on his site to the campaign against the juicers…

I’ve also got a scan of the print edition of the article up, and feel free to browse it below (although, if you want to actually read it, you may want to look at the online version or try to pick up a copy of it than try to discern the tiny type below):

Umm… What?

Rolling Stone, you take the cake:

…so we can pretty much pin the entire state of emo at this point on Minor Threat.

Why do I even bother? Do the folks at RS even know what music is anymore? They’re probably too busy catching up with The Beatles circa 1966 to even try to recognize what music is being made now, never mind back in ’82.

This news byte by Daniel Kreps landed on the site about a half hour ago and references yesterday’s Drowned In Sound interview with Jim Suptic of The Get Up Kids. Obviously, this is a little side snipe that is supposed to be funny, but considering the entire article is based off of a snippet from another interview, there’s no stopping the nitpicking on this one.

Because it’s not just that one sentence that display’s RS‘s inability to perform as the kind of magazine it advertises itself as, it’s the entire article. The entire article is based off of another person’s hard interviewing skills, and the fact that Rolling Stone merely ripped off a few questions from that person’s interview (and it may have taken a lot to get that out of Suptic), made it the basis for a big news article, AND STILL CONSIDERS ITSELF THE TOP OF THE MUSIC JOURNALISM HEAP is absolutely ridiculous. Sure enough, I wrote an entire post based on the same responses, but I don’t pretend to be the source of important music information today. And, I beat RS to it to boot.

And as for Kreps, the auteur of this fine piece of RS BS? The one who insinuates that Minor Threat is the reason emo sucks today, simply because Suptic referenced Fugazi as an influence and Ian MacKaye was in both bands? (As an aside, I’m sure Suptic would have something to say about Kreps’ idiotic pandering.) Well, who knows much about him, but, if this happens to be his Twitter account, the following isn’t unsurprising:

dktw

Is the “bio” comedy through Irony? If it is, I can’t say that I entirely get it.

Minor Threat – “Filler” (live):

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?

Nothing About Vonnegut

Sometimes life feels like a Kurt Vonnegut book, the way seemingly random events and lineages come together in unknown ways. It also helps when you checking out a heaping helping of Vonnegut novels from the library and his particular method of story-telling seeps into your life.

My current fix

My current fix

Let me explain:

Having recently graduated and awaiting the days before I enter the world of employment, I have to amend some of my routines in life. Specifically, I have to watch out for what I spend my money on. As I don’t do anything in the ways of illegal downloading, my music collection has grown in odd ways and forms in the past few months. As I rarely have the chance to buy anything new, I’m always on the hunt for free albums that musicians have circulated online. And more and more, my newly-acquired musics are within the realm of hip-hop. And justly so.

Mixtapes have always been a key tool within hip-hop circles as a way to circulate music. As each day passes, it seems that more free mixtapes are cropping up online, completely free of charge (at least, for a short span of time). And so, in my quest for free music, I happened upon a very Vonnegut-like happenstance: I discovered a great hip-hop artist that hit very close to home.

Wale

Wale

Wale (not to be confused with the irresistible Pixar film Wall-e) is a DC-based rapper who has recently signed with Interscope. For years I searched far and wide for a hip-hop artist who managed to break out of the confines for DC. Because in the world of DC hip-hop, if you don’t make it out of town, you’ll be on the out in town. I remember spending years clipping articles from The Washington Post about the search for DC’s great hip-hop hope… or hype. For some reason, of all the big cities in the union, DC was practically the only one without a well-established hip-hop artist or scene to call its own. Punk, jazz, funk, soul and any number of other genres had some great member who called DC home. But not so much in the ways of hip-hop.

As soon as I left DC for college – only to return for short breaks – Wale began to hone his craft. In 2006, Wale released “Dig Dug,” which grew into a huge hit in the DC metro area and its surrounding states. Since then, Wale has been heralded in everything from The Fader to XXL to Rolling Stone to Entertainment Weekly and my faithful Washington Post. Wale’s gotten chummy with the big kids such as The Roots and Lil’ Wayne, performed his song “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.” at the 2007 MTV Music Video Awards, and announced his signing with Interscope this past March. And all this time I was trapped in the college bubble.

And then this past weekend I noticed Wale was among a number of artists performing at Rock the Bells when it rolled through Massachusetts on Saturday. And I noticed he was from DC. Today I found myself a link to Wale’s most recent mixtape, The Mixtape About Nothing, a creative ode to Seinfeld. The mixtape was released back in May, but it’s never too late to discover it.

The Mixtape About Nothing

The Mixtape About Nothing

As numerous critics (and there are a ton that have turned their heads to hear this one) have commented on the mixtape’s peculiar relationship to Seinfeld, I was more taken by Wale’s intricate use of go-go. Go-Go is a DC-creation, one of the two dominant strains of music that have made their root in the city these past few decades. While emo eventually made its way out of the DC area after toiling in the underground punk circles of the nation’s capital, for the most part go-go has yet to really survive outside of the city’s limits. Go-Go, a subgenre of funk known for its call and response involvement with the audience, its syncopated rythms punctuated with a mass of percussive instruments, and its ability to draw out funk-grooves for lengthy amount of times (it’s ability to “go and go” in effect) has mostly spent its lifetime in the DC area. The two most recognizable go-go names/phrases outside of DC today are Chuck Brown – the genre’s creator – and the song “Let Me Clear My Throat.”

Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown

Remembering all those years back, reading articles proclaiming that DC’s best hope for hip-hop haven, The Washington Post noted that the individual that does make it should do so by making use of the city’s beloved sound, hip-hop’s distant cousin – go-go. And correctly so. Wale does this flawlessly on The Mixtape About Nothing and with enough gusto to (hopefully) impact a generation of international hip-hoppers. While “The Opening Title Sequence” is a great sampling of the Seinfeld introduction and has taken the critics’ cake, “The Feature Heavy Song” practically steals said cake with its go-go driven beat that takes a crack at all the morbidly uncreative instrumentals that have plagued mainstream radio stations.

Wale is being proclaimed as the next big thing. But for right now, my encounter with The Mixtape About Nothing is a tale for how I found my way back home through a musical entity I wish was produced when I still could hop on the Metro and go-go around DC.

Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing

Wale – W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. video:

Bastards of Pop

By now most music-loving folk are aware of the pay-what-you-want, online release of Girl Talk’s latest album, Feed The Animals. But this isn’t about that… well, it’s almost not about that. As any other savy internet users are concerned, a trio of folks hailing from the greater Baltimore/DC area new about this all to well. Funny thing is, the title of Girl Talk’s new album is startlingly similar to a certain activity that these three individuals do to fulfill their creative impulses. And darn it if the members of Food For Animals didn’t do something about it. The savvy members of one of the top experimental hip-hop troupes in the country put their imagination to the test and came out with a remix of Feed The Animals that is as hilarious as it is genuinely well-crafted. The inversion of the Girl Talk record cover didn’t hurt either.

Girl Talk\'s Feed The Animals

Food For Animals\' remix

Sure, this may sound like another attempt by an under-appreciated musical act trying to grab some limelight off of the backs of pop sensations. Actually, pop sensations may be the key word to why this isn’t a case of bandwagon-ing popularity. That same realm where Girl Talk has become such a heroic image is one where Food For Animals have gotten their fare and deserved share of praise and following as well; from Spin to Pitchfork, numerous well-regarded places of music criticism have praised FFA for their latest album – Belly.

No, this is not a case of scraping for some 15 minutes of fame. This isn’t even about fame. This is a great case of that simple keyword… community. The FFA remix is more a work of humorous camaraderie than anything negative or self-serving. For Gregg Gillis and FFA, it is another mark of a shared aesthetic dedicated to the opposite of pop-sanctuary; underground artistry. Their physical hometowns may be separate (Pittsburgh for GT, and Baltimore/DC for FFA), but their ideal one is a special place known as Wham City.

Brooklyn\'s Matt & Kim at Whartscape 2007

Wham City is a collective of artists and musicians who’ve made a hometown in Baltimore. More than that, they’ve made a scene-worthy presence out of Baltimore. Although Wham City is a close-knit crew (headed by electronics wunderkid Dan Deacon) and is not the entire community of Baltimore’s diverse art-punk scene, they have nevertheless become the center and face of the creativity bubbling out of the once-forgotten town. While institutions as high on the music-critiquing food chain as Rolling Stone have come a-calling, it has yet to diminish the creative culmination of the relatively anti-establishment scene. If anything, it’s simply drawn other like-minded individuals to the area and those who have made themselves an important part of building an artistically-challenging community. The connections within the scene are more personal than musically-similar. This year’s Whartscape Festival features, along side Gregg Gillis (playing with his side project Trey Told ‘Em) and Food For Animals, a number of musicians from across the country who are more dedicated to pushing the bounds of music than they are to carving a universal pop niche. There’s The Mae Shi (from LA), Black Dice (NYC), Parts & Labor (Brooklyn), and a ton of local Baltimore acts. What they lack in definite sound they make up for in their shared passion for underground music, ingenuity, and community.

Emo was birthed out of a very similar thesis of community as seen through performance. Music was the cache, but it wasn’t the only distinct quality of those communities. The places friends within the scene would interact and think of as home bases, the venues that bands practiced and played, the ideas that individuals shared and used to challenge one another – not just musically, but in life – were as integral to the scene as the tag placed on the original scene’s existence.

The Revolution Summer scene, the first community to be burdened with the label “emo” was a particular exemplary of the feat of flexibility. Some ideological and musical characteristics were shared, but the common bond over strengthening the community beyond the rigidity that defeated DC’s hardcore scene was stronger than any detrimentally-inclined tag. The acts that followed in the footsteps of the broken-up Revolution Summer acts continued to build on the ideas of community, welcoming other individual-thinkers into their world, and emiting a new crop of bands that did little to conform to any standards. Groups like Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses, Shudder To Think, Jawbox, and a host of others opened up the interpretations of the local “emo” sound to distinctly new possibilities. And others flocked to their community. Bikini Kill, though not emo, left the West Coast for DC, while Dischord welcomed Baltimore’s Lungfish in with open arms (quite a feat considering that Dischord was meant to be a forum for only DC acts).

With the breakthrough of alternative music into the mainstream, the emo acts of DC formed connections with others across America through correspondence, touring, and even producing; Jawbox’s J Robbins was a primary producer of many well-known 2nd wave emo acts. As the ideological, aesthetic, and musical aspects of emo spread around the country, tight bonds were formed by dis-separate acts throughout the Mid West. Those who form the core of 2nd wave emo acts  – The Promise Ring, Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, Christie Front Drive, etc – were all connected through friendship rather than sharing three chords.

Even today, when emo has lost a lot of its elasticity of definition due to stereotypes, community is as an important aspect as ever. Acts bond through touring (such as playing together on Warped Tour), shared record labels (Vagrant, Fueled By Ramen), a communal upbringing (such as Thursday and numerous other acts who honed their sound in New Jersey basements), and friendship (be it Thursday and My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco). Community is the strongest bond of the most-creative (and often times, successful) emo acts. Those bands looking to take advantage of a currently-popular, commercially-consumed genre tend to bring out the worst in emo. But it’s community that has allowed emo to continue to thrive and survive to this day, and it’s community that will continue to drive some of the most ingenious and forward-thinking musical movements.

Food For Animals – Girl Talk

Baltimore’s Double Dagger at Whartscape 2007: