30 June 2006
SLEATER-KINNEY: NOT THAT GREAT
You have got to be kidding me: best band in the world? Please stop clowning yourself. Does everybody forget what happens when a Sleater-Kinney album comes out? Here is an hour-by-hour blow-by-blow account of a Sleater-Kinney FAN talking to himself when a new S-K album hits the filesharing sector:
5PM-"Fucking dog in Christ's shit, it's the new Sleater-Kinney album, this one surely has the longevity that all the others had"
7PM-"I'm still listening and it's been exactly two hours--five bags of cumdogs this is great"
8PM-"Oh look that Matos guy put it as his number one album on his once pretty awesome, now erratically updated blog"
9PM-"..." (nobody cares about Sleater-Kinney)
No band in my mind comes close to this hot-then-cold in three hours BUT THEY'RE STILL TEH BEST bullshit. Nothing personal. I'm the same way with S-K. When I used to exercise at Maxim Health I would listen to "Jumpers" on the bike; tellingly, when I got off the bike I would stop listening to "Jumpers." See where I'm going with this? Why can't we leave S-K on the bike? Are there complicated gender issues I'm missing, some weird backhanded cred involved in saying a girl rock band is better than a guy rock band? Have you listened to Sleater-Kinney's lyrics? Obviously I'm bummed that so many of you are bummed, but maybe this is what needed to happen for everyone to realize the truth about "the best band in the world": not great for freeweights.
28 June 2006
Riff Market 50th Post Spectacular
Tokyo Police Club
Download: "Shoulders & Arms"
Somebody surely calls it pulling a Mitchum, esp., "you start to realize that the bands you're listening to are actually younger than you are, for the first time, and this realization finally breaks the dam you've built against constantly playing Spot-the-Influence"--growing weary of new bands, returning to older records more facilely, giving up on The Latest for the sake of The Favorite. Me, I tend not to trust anybody under 40 anyway, so whatever. I wasn't thrilled to see the Xs on Tokyo Police Club's high school hands, true--not because it makes their debut EP any less spectacular, somewhat because it makes me feel old and a little creepy. Mostly though I just hope these guys actually get a chance to play high school dances and pool parties at their friends' parents' expensive country clubs, make bad jokes at coffeeshop gigs where all their friends show up but nobody buys anything to drink, sleep with groupies only named Kate so that way they always remember her name. These guys need a chance to operate in the tradition of well-rehearsed but not necessarily tight young rock bands before everyone besides me and Brooklyn Vegan sings their praises--they might have already missed that.
No secret I hate what the internet's done to young bands, the voracity with which they're consumed and never allowed to matriculate, "strike while the iron's hot," etc. Tokyo Police Club fit pretty much right into that wedge of ultra-cool blog-approved nervous jittery indie-remixable post-plunk that sounds good on computer speakers and iPods but most cases nothing else--they have the sound but unlike, say, these clowns, they have the songs too. If they tour enough, they'll get a following quick, sell a lot of merch, play some festivals in Europe where they'll sell even more merch. They'll try to write some songs on the road, maybe, but you know what those kinds of songs will sound like.
More likely, people will need another band in that mold to blow up, TPC are good and young and ultra new and not from the US, so they'll be it, and suddenly all the reading and practicing and music-listening time turns into endless touring and trying to get people to buy them beer in bars. This is the worst kind of cradle-robbing, because honestly I don't think these guys even want to blow up right now. We're talking about a band with this effete keyboard player who puts his finger into his ear so he can sing on pitch the counterpoint verse of "Nature of the Experiment"; he closes his eyes too, leans in all "Vicki joins a rock band" type WB teen dramas episodes. The lead singer's hair falls into his face like any other rock star, except his hair's just long, definitely not stylized such that it falls in his face but he can still see through it. The drummer can't play eighth notes on the high hat with one hand, so he has to use both sticks, throws them down really hard, and it's a wonder the tempo never drags. These are TPC growing pains and I hope they grow out of them--aren't grown out of them. Because when a big deal comes their way, all their two-minute songs will become four, all the awkwardness pro forma rockpose, all the high school talent show-ness something much much worse--something that tries really hard to hide the fact that the songs are good, but the high school talent show-ness of it all, the fingers-crossed hope we don't trainwreck, is the reason we stump for them.
26 June 2006
SWORDS GOT AWESOME
Visit: Easily the Best Wedding Band in NYC
If you've ever seen rich white people in Manhattan, you probably noticed they were doing something totally hilarious, like complaining about the rising price of slaves or using their breast implants as stress relief balls. But not all rich white people think it's OK to treat silicon like mere sex objects. Some of them throw awesome parties in Central Park for their 21-year-old daughters, invite all their daughters' friends, and hire a wedding band to play all the hits and get people dancing to the beat. That's what happened last night, which got me thinking: Somebody should make a movie about wedding bands. It could star Tom Cruise and it would be very serious.
Think about how awesome wedding bands are. They only play awesome songs for one--none of the shitty songs real bands have to play at their concerts, and none of the shitty songs real bands have to write to make their awesome songs sound really awesome. Also, when a wedding band plays an awesome song, people like the song but love the band, as in "oh man this band knows 'Pon De Replay'?! and they're playing it to the best of their ability? holy f!" It's never, "Oh awesome, this song I like came on, let me get my friends and dance to the beat just like I always do." To say nothing of the fact that everybody in wedding bands loves the songs they play, probably more than the original performers. Like, you just know Frank Sinatra hated the part of the show when he had to sing "New York New York" and a bunch of middle-aged jerkoffs in the frontrow would start a kickline, but a wedding singer can't wait to sing "New York New York," or the song after it, or the ad libs he'll inevitably do during "Play That Funky Music," which respectable wedding bands will play--at most--every third song.
A lot of people complain that wedding bands don't do enough rap music--the music of the streets, the CNN of the blogosphere, the books on the shelf of things. But the whole wedding band operation is still pretty illegal, no? All the "charts" these bands write for themselves, well, they should be buying the sheet music, and the performance rights. Instead they're paying their keyboardist to listen to Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," transcribe it for everyone in the band, and keep a straight face when the lead female singer shakes her butt on stage and accidentally knocks over her mic stand. Is that woman "2 legit 2 quit"? I don't know, but it definitely makes up for the fact that a lot of these wedding bands don't deal drugs like wedding rappers do.
Obviously all wedding bands are better than all DJs, but how obvious is it? Take a look at your average DJ. He's probably a pretty handsome guy in the gritty, doesn't shower, doesn't give a fuck sorta way. He has a bag of records and he knows how to put them on a machine to make sound come out of them. Now take a look at your average wedding band bassplayer. He's about fifty, has long hair parted down the middle, and he's playing slap bass over pretty much every song. First he's playing slap bass on Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," now he's playing slap bass on Stone Temple Pilot's "Plush." What DJ would have ever thought to do that?
Granted DJs are better when it comes to really new songs, and wedding bands would do well for themselves if they stuck to playing songs that weren't Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started." Case in point. Last night Hank Lane's Kenny Ford ensemble played Journey better than a DJ playing Journey, and all my rich white friends in the room joined me on the dancefloor to do the Rodney Dangerfield golf course dance from Caddyshack. The birthday girl's dad complimented me on my dancing, and I felt like the life of the party. Then the band played Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl." Some Harvard kids wearing seersucker pants started a dance circle, I jumped inside and started shaking my hips. My butt was sticking out really far like in rap videos--I was practically in the club. But suddenly everyone stopped dancing, and I felt like Rodney Dangerfield's son Jason Mellon from Back to School: "I just made, the diving team."