Friday, February 27, 2009

Idol Beat: Brooke White cameo, filler out the ass, no surprises.


March is a kind of awkward, in-between month, isn't it? Not as cold and inhospitable outside as the weeks leading up to it, but not quite springtime, yet. It's like the adolescence of months or something. Gawky. Gangly. Embarassing and embarassed. March isn't daring or welcoming. It's lazy, and that laziness is massively contageous - to the point where you just wanna stay inside and veg and watch television.

Thus, March seemed like the right time for Voguing To Danzig to launch "TV Loves You Back" Month, in which I and a bunch of friends and correspondents blather on, unleashed, about television. Shows. Commercials. Characters. Plotlines. Whatever. So I asked a bunch of people to contribute, and a few expressed interest, and were able to interest other folks.

Part of the point of this project - inspired, it must be said, by Brandon Soderburg's "Dilla Month" - is to bring disparate individuals together to create something, an event. In college, my friends and I used to fantasize about starting a magazine where we'd publish articles from everyone we knew, regardless of whether or not they actually were writers, per se, about whatever they wanted to write about. Of course, that never happened, and for various reasons probably never will. But enterprises like this and Dilla Month are important, because they foster a sense of community and inclusion in a time when everyone's so scattered. We trade emails and (some of us) occasional phone calls, but how often do we actually work together on an endeavor - even something as trivial and frivolous as a month of blog posts about the international addition to television? If "TV Loves You Back" Month inspires imitations, then it's a success. Hopefully, we can also confuse the holy heck out of some Restiform Bodies fans.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adam Lambert: totally fucking amazing in this week's first Idol Beat post.

#993 Wheatus "Teenage Dirtbag" [Columbia, 2000]

One meathead high-school loser with an unrequited crush.

One classmate chick who rocks, in Keds and tube socks.

One asshole, glock-toting boyfriend.

Two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby.

Toss in some squeaky guitar slides, DJ-scratch wickety-wack, and leftover hooks from Weezer's Pinkerton and you've got the recipe for adolescent existance-of-soulmates delusion - a millenial John Hughes fairytale that makes more sense as a fluke single than it does a realistic event.

The video treatment almost writes and films itself. Of course the boyfriend's blonde and has a bitchin' ride. Of course no-one cares about the protagonist; he's invisible, intangible, a self-loathing non-entity. Of course the love interest enjoys the musical stylings of Iron Maiden and invites our hero - in pinched Joey Adams voice, no less - to accompany her to an Iron Maiden concert.

Of course; it's a fairytale, which is why we never find out how the asshole bf reacts when he eventually discovers that his squeeze is actually a teenage dirtbag who's been making time with, well, another teenage dirtbag.

There's an air of naïve escapism around "Teenage Dirtbag" that's stirring even today - otherwise, I wouldn't have included it on this list - but the song stands as a stark reminder that wanting desperately for relationships to endure and mean something profound is bullshit wishfulness, that willing others to need you is a fool's obsession. Random John Ashbery interjection: "You have it, but you don't have it." Think about this: "Teenage Dirtbag" smoked, but even though Wheatus are still a going concern, they're not on the tips of any wagging tongues and hip young bands aren't covering them. Like the rap-rock revolution, your twenties, and the random distractions that crowded them, Wheatus are essentially over. Nothing is static.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There are hidden treasures, and then there are hidden treasures. There's a secret impulse on the part of music writers to keep all the good stuff close to the vest; usually we get over it and start blabbing about really amazing obscure/underrated bands despite ourselves. So: I give you Kim Ki O, from Istanbul, who are giving away their first two synthed-out/Stereolab/Krautrock/synapse-massaging albums on their web site, and you should get up on this action now if you need some knots kneaded out of your neck. Thanks, Idolator!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Holy shit. R.I.P. Rickey Wright, a fellow music writer I never met in person but chatted with sometimes on ILX. So random, and I regret that I never got to know him better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Idol Beat: Tatiana del Toro, we hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Idol Beat strikes again as we move into Fox's winnowing of the Top 36 down to the Top 9, or Top 12, or whatever.


A pre-edit version of what appeared in today's Clevescene:

What Happened
(No Fun)

Titling your debut album Bullshit Boring Drone Band is a bit of a gamble for a young underground outfit; there's the inherent danger of self-fulfilling prophecy, of handing lazy critics the rope with which to hang you. Happily, Cleveland's Emeralds are gifted enough to play that kind of risque self-labeling off as tongue-in-cheekiness. Early discs like 07's Solar Bridge revealed the trio to be heirs apparent to dimension-surfing krautrock acts like Cluster, thickening Brian Eno-esque ambience into a subtly psychedelic paste. What Happened builds up from that trippy template, stirring in elements of noise and discord with face-melting results. "Alive in the Sea of Information" plays host to insiduous synth-on-synth violence, as razor-toothed Parkinsons' loops nip haphazardly at the heels of starry-eyed, drippy-bass, and fantasticly flatulent drones alike. "Up in the Air" is something of a tonal way station, with thermal updrafts, thumping pulsations, and rippling sonic mirages intersecting briefly before vanishing into the ether, then - eventually - gliding back. After opening as a tentative organ meditation, "Living Room" morphs into a woozy primordial ooze: the introduction of a plaintive guitar exoskeleton provides a structure to which electronic twitters and squiggles can be affixed en route to the blaring, black-metal denouement that's stealthly foreshadowed. And just to prove to us - and perhaps themselves - that they're not taking this space-rock stuff too seriously, hints of "London Bridge Is Falling Down" crop up intermittently in Emeralds' sublime pea soup.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

99-Cent Forget-Me-Nots - the original concept - is reconceived, slightly, as
Post-Valentine's Day Relationship Rescue Songs.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

This sort of future-fic thing I wrote "about" J. Dilla's "Lightworks" for Brandon Soderberg's blog - the project was for various writers to tackle a different Donuts song each day of this month - is up, now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here's the other half of this week's Idol Beat.
Second Idol Beat piece is up here, with a third to follow later today. (The music editor split my gargantuan summary into two parts.) Y'know, the process of writing about this show on a weekly basis is either clarifying why I'm getting sick of it or causing me to become evermore disillusioned with it, I'm not sure which.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


From today's Clevescene:

Zero Boys
Vicious Circle
(Secretly Canadian)

Whenever something as potently pugnacious as Vicious Circle gets a reissue and dissemination to a larger audience, you've gotta wonder: How many thousands of forgotten, anthemic three-chord gems languish in Reagan-era obscurity, awaiting a triumphant rebirth? Like every third punk group, Indianapolis' Zero Boys flickered, crashed and burned quickly, leaving a mere handful of recordings reminiscent of Stiff Little Fingers and the Misfits in its wake. Originally issued in 1982, Vicious Circle was the second of these, supercolliding mercurial punk-pop dynamics with hardcore's abrupt brevity and outsider stance. That means 16 songs hurtling by in less than a half hour with no quarter taken none given, and topical bases hit with the I'm-in-a-rush velocity of a speed-dating session. A refutation of the era they were stuck in, "Livin' in the '80s" dabbles in rockabilly and finds frontman Paul Mahern unleashing the sort of cavernous yawp that Perry Farrell would perfect with Jane's Addiction in later years.


Find it here! Enjoy!

Friday, February 06, 2009


I usually hate anti-drug commercials - and I'm somebody who doesn't do drugs. But this one is so determinedly insipid that I can't help but guffaw everytime it airs; it's everything: the general fog of cluelessness, the careless faux-Stereolab space-age bachelor-pad muzak, and the montage of the various characters nodding in moronic agreement. If I were running this particular advertising campaign, I would continue to keep it in circulation, but over time I'd tack on additional, ever-more-frightening scenarios: "I crashed my car and wound up in traction!" "I broke my best friend's jaw!" "I accidentally smoked my hemp couch and almost burned down my house!" etc.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

So the first installment of my weekly American Idol recaps is up on the Houston Press music blog, and I think it went okay. Due to time constraints - and the fact that I didn't want the thing to spiral to 1,000 words - it isn't in any way comprehensive. A good many tidbits were left out. Ah well.