Tuesday, December 29

Girls On the Floor

Textin' me a 100 times, callin' me a 100 times..

[Listening to:  American Head Charge - "Walk Away" ]


Friday, December 25

You Guys Can Keep a Secret, Right?

My son is coming by in a few hours to have Christmas at my place. Unexpected money troubles mean it's not going to be a very big year present-wise, but that's not really what it's supposed to be about, despite everything you hear. It's more about making sure that the people you love know that you care.
Anyway, here's what he's getting:
..Think he'll like it?

[Listening to:  Chimera - "Down Again" ]


Monday, December 21

Scarily Accurate


[Listening to:  Esperanza Spalding - "Precious" ]


Sunday, December 20

Not a Creature Was Stirring

Squirrel-gate is officially done.
Last night when I got home from the club, the little guy was once again in the middle of my living room floor. It's just this time he was curled up in a little ball, not doing so well. I got a shoebox, lined it with an old sweater, and put him in there.
By morning it was over.
Thankfully my son was is spending the weekend with his mother and didn't have to see any of it, but that didn't make me feel like any less of a Christmastime jerk.

I mean, what had to be done was done -- he'd been showing up and leaving behind little calling cards for almost two months now with little or no signs that he ever was going to go away or stop -- but it still kinda sucked to find him there like that.

All that being said, now that I look back on this whole bizarre episode, it's pretty clear that even though my place at the top of this particular food chain has finally been re-established --
..Little fucker still got the last laugh, didn't he?

[Listening to:  Bullet for My Valentine - "4 Words (To Choke Upon)" ]


Wednesday, December 16

Traffic Warning

If you see me rolling up in your rear-view, you might just want to let me by -- because this is on the stereo, and it's not coming off.

[Listening to:  The Yoshida Brothers - "Mr. Nagano's Foolish Proposal" ]


Tuesday, December 15

Jackie Treehorn

sandwich tumblr_kuo0r5RRvR1qa1id2o1_1280

[Listening to:  Imogen Heap - "Have You Got it In You?" ]


Monday, December 14

That's My Jam: Fallen Angels

The problem with most pop-oriented rock bands is that they're usually not heavy enough for rock fans, but in large doses they tend to get too abrasive for people who like more danceable fare. Results vary slightly if the guys in the band are good looking -- but in general when you find yourself caught between audiences like that, it's easy to get swept under the rug.

Oh sure you'll find a handful of rabid followers, but if you can't land that one hit song that everybody likes to have around when they need to wake up in the mornings you'll always sort of be on the outside looking in.

Such is the case I fear with Ra, a self-glossed alternative metal band from LA that showed up on my radar somewhere in the early 2000's with a great little song called "Do You Call My Name?"

Ra has all sorts of things going for it. Arresting vocals, tight melodies and pop-song like hooks, heavy guitars and a taste for exotic influences in their songwriting. A few years back they did a cover of the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" that ranks as one of my favorite cover versions of all time.

The problem with Ra (at least for me) is that they never really seem to dive below that surface. They always sort of stay in a range where all their good songs are, you know ..ok, but all their good songs sound oddly similar to each other. There's a driving beat, a soaring, easily repeatable chorus, and just enough of a rock edge to get your head bobbing..
But not much else.
Think of them sort of like Disturbed -- just a lot less heavy, and without all the shouting or dissatisfaction with the government in their lyrics.

Or to put it another way: Ra is the band I never buy whole albums from off of Itunes, but I rarely have much interest in downloading illegally either (is that just me, or does anyone else have bands in their libraries like that?). The songs catch my interest -- but the albums are more often than not letdowns in comparison.
It's simply faster for me to shell out the $0.99 and cut to the chase.
And yet, when one of their songs gets into my system, it tends to stay there for a while. Like this one, that's found it's way into heavy rotation once again lately. Makes for really great driving music when you want to get out the road and sing along at the top of your lungs.

Btw - Even though I generally liked the movie Constantine (or at least enjoyed what it was trying to do) I was really hoping to find a better video to go with this song. Unfortunately the only other choice I had was a similar clip featuring snippets of that Kevin Smith movie Dogma. Keanu's a risk I admit, but I really want you to appreciate the song -- so I refuse to let your very first exposure to it be associated with alternating images of Ben Affleck acting like a douche and Linda Fiorentino talking religion to Alan Rickman while wearing a flannel shirt and a pair of granny panties.
So, you know -- don't say I never did nothin' for ya.
Anyways, here's Ra, with Fallen Angels.

[Listening to:  Nine Inch Nails - "You Know What You Are?" ]


Wednesday, December 9

The Ghost and the Darkness

So just how serious is this squirrel thing getting?
Today I had a little extra time, so I went home for lunch. When I walked in the door I noticed a little orange business card on my kitchen counter. Apparently the pest control guys had come by sometime earlier this morning to check on the bait traps they'd set out.
And after they left, the squirrel came out of his hiding place
..and pooped on it.
Seriously, what kind of crazy fucked-up Secret of Nimh type bullshit have I stumbled into here?

[Listening to:  The Blood Brothers - "Rats and Rats and Rats for Candy" ]


Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

"Don't get it twisted, now -- I will leave a bitch at Sonic for ordering fries instead of tots."

[Listening to:  Jimmy Eat World - "Bleed American" ]


Tuesday, December 8

If You're Havin' Girl Problems I Feel Bad For You Son

So yeah.. he's still here.
I'm starting to get the feeling my landlords are getting a kick out of this. That once I step out of their offices after explaining yet again that "There's a squirrel in my apartment" they just look at each other for a few seconds before erupting into a snicker-filled fit of laughter at my expense.

Sure they say they've called the pest control guy, and there are little notes left on my counter saying that bait/poison has been strategically placed for the little guy to choke on --
But day in and day out, he's still there.
And it's not just that he's in the place. It's that he's like right in my face about it -- literally. The other morning I woke up on the couch to find him sniffing at my outstretched hand.
Leave it to me to get the Hova of the squirrel set.
We'll see how smart you are when the K9 come..

[Listening to:  Down - "Nothing in Return" ]


Monday, December 7

That's My Jam: The Bob Saget Realization

Like many a young lad of my particular generation and background, my first exposure to Snoop Dog came from the popularity of the videos he made in the mid 90's backing up Dr. Dre, followed by his solo clips -- especially Gin and Juice, which was an instant MTV hit with almost anyone who saw it, regardless of their preferred musical taste.
The groove was solid, the voice was unique -- what's not to love?
Being a fairly strict metal-head at the time, my exposure to hip hop as an overall scene was largely limited. The best way for me to probably illustrate this to you was that I was still at a point where I thought hip hop and rap were essentially the same thing. You can call it a cultural divide if you want (and I'm sure that played some part in my naiveté) but really, it was more about lack of exposure to the genre than anything else.

Despite my headbanging lean, there were plenty of pop albums in my CD collection. But the truth of the matter was that I really hadn't taken the dive deep into different genres and style, instead just dabbling whenever I came across a single that I really liked.

It added to what I thought at the time was the diversity of my musical taste -- this idea that having my Napalm Death CD's nestled next to the Public Enemy, Bob Marley, and Bjork was somehow proof of a higher taste in music than other people around me, when in truth it made me pretty much just like every other high-school/college kid out there at the time.
Never was this lack of understanding more apparent than when I made the decision to finally pick up Snoop's debut disc Doggystyle, so that I could listen to "Gin and Juice" whenever I wanted, instead of just waiting for it to come on the radio.
One of the things that I really liked about "Gin and Juice" was the fact that here was a song literally about smoking weed, having sex, and getting drunk written in such a way that you knew exactly what was going on, but none of the words had been changed or cut up to soften the blow. The MTV version I had grown to enjoy was the perfect mix of clever wordplay and implied vulgarity.
I even thought myself hip beyond belief for having a pretty good idea of what Indo was.
..Then I played the album track.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you think you know something, where you feel like you're right on the pulse of what's happening, only to have it come crashing down around you like a house of cards?

Because suddenly when the REAL lyrics came pouring out of the speakers revealing to me what was almost an entirely different song -- with entire verses I'd not heard before laced with all of the words and ideas I had loved him for cleverly working around..
Lets just say it was not a proud moment in white-boy history.
It's funny, because I actually worked at a Radio Station at the time this was happening. Add to that the fact that I was a huge fan of several prog-rock groups who performed 10-minute songs laced with profane lyrics and objectionable references, I was well acquainted with the idea of what a Radio Edit was, and how it could easily change the entire mood and effect of a given song just by taking out a few choice words or cutting out an extended musical break.

And it's not like I have sensitive ears to profanity. I love cuss words. I'm all about the freedom of speech and challenging people who are offended by words themselves and not the mindsets of the people who are speaking them. Hell, I used to ask for George Carlin cassettes for birthday presents when I was younger. What's more -- I'm constantly correcting myself in front of my son to make sure he doesn't adopt particular facets of my speaking style too early in his own elementary school career.

It was that I had come to believe that Snoop Dog was one kind of raw, only to find out that apparently I really didn't know what raw was. Despite my love of Ice-T's albums and going through the pre-requisite stage of sneaking listens to "forbidden" Too Live Crew and Too Short albums in my car in the 80's (which were rude in their own way, but to be honest -- felt more like novelty albums than actual statements about an artist or a given lifestyle), there was something about the whiplash of thinking you knew a song and an artist only to realize you had been taken in by the clever wrapping paper and popular media image to the point where the realization felt like some sort of sucker punch.

The best comparison I can think of were the stories of Las Vegas comedy audiences who spent money to see the act of beloved TV dad and America's Funniest Home Video's host Bob Saget expecting to get an evening of funny voices and embarrassing mother-in-law/what's the deal with airline food-type jokes, only to be shell-shocked to the point of walking out when they discovered that when not tethered by network executives and the promise of a huge paycheck, Bob Saget is one of the most vulgar and inappropriate comedians working today.
Of course when you get right down to it -- Saget made a boatload of money being America's most non-threatening honky, enough that he really doesn't have to care what people think of his real act, or need to placate them in order to continue being a success.
Simply put, the reason he is able to be his own depraved, profane self largely because
of how good he was at being the guy you could bring home to mother for so many years.
Similarly, Snoop Dog's mass appeal is only really a minor reflection of what his albums and live performances actually bring. It's certainly not a new game -- people like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Red Foxx had to dance around censors for years as they battled through the twin worlds of their popular media image and their real performing selves to reach audiences.

Even today, when you think of the kinds of movies that Eddie Murphy ever seems to make anymore versus the reason so many people love Eddie Murphy -- you come to realize that whether real, imagined, or for whatever reason self-imposed (i.e. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's decision to make kid movie after kid movie despite what seemed like a limitless horizon for success as America's next action star) that this concept of having to have multiple versions of yourself is still very much alive and well.
So much so that when artists seeking mass appeal don't play the game, they quickly
find themselves on the wrong side of the public opinion they're trying so hard to win over.
Think for a second about how good Middle America seemed to feel about adoring American Idol runner up Adam Lambert -- only to find out that instead of that lovable Will and Grace/Clay Aiken kind of homosexual that everyone seems to enjoy hearing the humor and fashion sense of -- he was that "other kind of gay" that actually likes to have sex with other men.

The reason I bring this up is that there's a song out there that I'd only heard on internet radio in it's uncut, full-length version. A song that and I'm digging on pretty heavy. Filled with the snarl of Pantera, the tempo of classic Bay-area thrash, and the kind of anger groove that really gets a headbanger like me going -- Lamb of God's Redneck was instantly a much-repeated favorite on my iPod, both for drumming along with on the steering wheel of my car or cranking through the headphones at work.

I realize this kind of music isn't for everyone -- but if people were going to enjoy a song in this style, this was in my opinion as good a place to start as any. If crossover acts like Mudvayne and Korn could sneak singles into the ear buds of folks who usually wouldn't give them the time of day -- then there was clearly room for the catchy hook and angry vibe of this tune.
Which is probably why they decided to make a video for it.
Except that they decided to make this video, which might be one of the lamest things I've ever seen.
Now before we move on, I have a couple of points I'd like to make about the clip itself:
  1. Three Strippers!? That's the best you guys could come up with? The casting agency for the video found half a dozen soccer mom types to be horrified by your antics, but you could only convince three of your skanks to go on camera for you? That's embarrassing, son. Go back and try it again.
  2. If you're like me, and found yourself wondering why the lead guitarists hands seemed to be flailing all over the place during his closeups in the "live concert" part of the clip, it's because (for some untold reason) he's not keeping his thumb on the back of the guitar neck, which is really sort of weird.
  3. Even in a video as bad and as cliche as this one, a clown getting punched in the face is always funny.
Anyways, I know there's probably a few of you out there who are thinking, "Hey it's just a dumb music video, who cares?" -- and to an extent you're probably right. Lamb of God is an established and popular metal band with legions of rabid fans. When you get right down to it, they don't really need a hit music video.

I suppose that it's even possible that when presented with the idea to promote a "hit single" -- that the band took the shrewd step to make the worst possible video they could so that the label would never bother them with such noise again and they could just move on with the business of being a working, touring band.

All that being said -- what I find really odd about the whole thing is that when you think about the way acts like Snoop Dog and Lil John and Ludacris had to sort of tone down the rawness of their songs while simultaneously amping up the pop appeal of their videos to help them reach a wider audience, here you have a hard-charging heavy metal band who you would think would be looking for the complete opposite result.
And yet they've created a video with jokes that wouldn't really cut the mustard on a throwaway episode of Two and a Half Men.
It's not like the whole "Metal Band shows up in suburbia and terrifies your parents" is a new idea -- Twisted Sister made an entire career of videos like this back in the 80's. But you'd sorta think Lamb of God of all people would jump at an opportunity to promote themselves as hard partying degenerates who are out to turn your normal bright and happy world upside down, but instead they're just sorta goofy Lenny and Squiggy level malcontents who eat all your snacks and stand in front of the screen door while decent people are trying to get outside to refill the punchbowl.
Watch out Parents -- Lamb of God is coming to to corrupt your kids and hit you in
the face with a pie. The Devil himself fears their joy buzzers and whoopee cushions!
Seriously, Lemmy Wept.
But it got me to thinking about this whole idea of artists playing parts of their images up or down in order to appeal to certain audiences. From Lady Gaga's crazy costumes and "shocking" production numbers to Taylor Swift's unending efforts to look like the most innocent and non-threatening White Girl ever to sing songs about being a princess who is sooooo in love with the guy who helped her look for her lost puppy and then they shook hands and parted ways amicably -- there's always some sort of hustle going on to try and make sure people associate bands and singers with certain ideas and social scenes. But I can't be the only one who was pulled in by a groups image or sound making me think they were something only to have them turn around and be the complete opposite.
So the real question is, have you ever had this happen to you?
And if so -- who was responsible?

[Listening to:  Janes Addiction - "Suffersome" ]


Sunday, December 6

Glyph

..Ever feel like this?

- Via Deus Ex Malcontent.

[Listening to:  American Head Charge - "Never Get Caught" ]


Wednesday, December 2

Tennis Bracelet

I can support from afar. I can comfort. I can bring a smile, make you laugh, and inspire an emotion. I can make your heart rush and your skin feel alive. I can listen when you want to talk. I can be the voice on the line when you're feeling alone. I can be the music in your ear when you don't want to drive in silence.

But I cannot stop you from doing anything. I cannot make you love me back.
Only you can do these things.

[Listening to:  The Cool Kids - "Bassment Party" ]


Tuesday, December 1

Baboons on the Road

A team of anthropologists went to the deepest regions of the Amazon to study primitive cultures. Upon arriving in the tribe's village, they heard the constant sound of drums far off in the jungle.

When they asked a tribesman about the drums, he replied "That's our enemy who live deep in the jungle. You must pray to your God that the sound of the drums never, EVER ceases. It's very, very bad if they do."
A few days later, in the middle of the night -- the drums stopped.
The tribal villagers started freaking out, running around, screaming in holy terror. The anthropologist found the tribesman he'd asked about the drums prostrating himself on the ground, shrieking entreaties to the heavens for deliverance.
"THE DRUMS HAVE STOPPED!!! OH GOD, WHAT HAPPENS NOW?!" the anthropologist screamed.
The tribesman looked up at the anthropologist, his skin pale with fear, his eyes huge and watering..
"BASS SOLO!!"

[Listening to:  Erykah Badu (feat. Roy Hargrove) - "Think Twice" ]


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