Chris Daughtry of the multiplatinum band Daughtry inducted Bon Jovi and Sambora. Afterward, Bon Jovi, with Sambora on a double-neck guitar, performed “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” one of Bon Jovi’s many signature hits.
Earlier in the evening, Daughtry talked about the impact Bon Jovi had on his band. “They’re a huge influence on our career as songwriters, as performers, as people,” he said.
As it happens, I knew Chris Daughtry for several years before he became famous — played guitar together, I went to see his Creed/Tool-sounding band play shows in town a couple of times, all that good stuff. His ex is still one of my closest friends, and she told me after his stint on American Idol that it really irked her to see him playing a Bon Jovi song on there, given that he had always hated them and given her shit for listening to them. She’s gonna love this.
- Pinback – The Hatenaughts of Melancholy Wall
- Masters of Reality – High Noon Amsterdam
- FC Kahuna – Hayling
- Fireball Ministry – Master of None
- Ween – Big Fat Fuck
- Silver Ginger 5 – Doggin’
- Les Claypool – Iowan Gal
- Scissor Sisters – I Can’t Decide
- Populous – Bon Bon pour les Rappers
- Moon Far Away – Sobiraetse Liubeznoy
- Fishbone – Properties of Propaganda (Fuk This Shit On Up)
- Mozart – Three German Dances, K. 605: No. 3 in C, Trio “Die Schlittenfahrt”
- Virgos Merlot – Come Apart
- Tori Amos – Taxi Ride
- The Flaming Lips – The Gash
- Clutch – Texan Book of the Dead
- Diary of Dreams – Nekrolog 43
- God Lives Underwater – Behavior Modification
- Iron & Wine – Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car
- Jacknife Lee – 1970s Dictator Chic
Well. That was all over the place.
- One Day as a Lion – Wild International
- Kyuss — Demon Cleaner
- The Future Sound of London — Slider
- The Dead Milkmen — The Thing That Only Eats Hippies
- Salt — Beauty
- Supreme Beings of Leisure — Never the Same
- Yoav — Club Thing
- Wino — Silver Lining
- Meshuggah — Entrapment
- Martha Wainwright – I Will Internalize
Awesome. I just downloaded the new Wino record this past week. That and Kyuss have me feeling like busting out all the stoner rock I have. Just feels like springtime music to me.
Yoav is an interesting artist. Born in Israel and raised in South Africa, he developed a unique way of playing guitar:
“It was summer solstice and I’d gone with my guitar and some mushrooms into Central Park. The plan was to zone out and lose myself in my playing. For some reason, I started banging out rhythms on my guitar and I got really into it. There was this school field trip of 7 or 8 year old kids walking by and they suddenly started dancing to what I was doing. I was playing these crazy drum ‘n’ bass rhythms and they were whirling around me like trance hippies. It was incredible. I felt like I was DJing with my guitar.”
Yoav had stumbled upon his new direction. “As a songwriter, the guitar limits you to strumming or picking. It’s very different if you can write something to a beat. I tried to translate dance music to guitar. I started pounding it, learning what I could do with it, using it as my decks. You can get an assortment of kick drums and snare drums by hitting it in different places or a synthy sound by playing with feedback. The more I did it, the more possibilities I found. It became all-consuming for me.”
Supreme Beings of Leisure are basically Morcheeba with slightly more world music influence. Not terribly original, but still enjoyable.
Two bands from Sweden, Salt and Meshuggah. One alt-rock, the other extreme metal.
This made me think of what it would be like if Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon had a slightly better sense of humor. I stole the post title from a thread I saw some months back where someone called her that – the only other part I remember was one of her own comments, where she (apparently in complete earnest) argued that schlocky art corroded the mind, spirit, whatever, in the same way that junk food affects the body. Spoken like a true straight-edge militant. She has the kind of grim Puritan zeal about attacking artists she considers impure that most people outgrow once they leave high school, but since she refers to herself in an ironic, self-aware way as an “Insufferable Music Snob”, I guess that makes it okay. Or something.
Shit-talking is fine if done with a sly wink and a smile; with the understanding that ultimately, whatever moves you for whatever reason is fine with me. I good-naturedly tease friends about music taste sometimes, but I’d have to have a major thorny stick up my ass to make a sustained effort to try and convince them to stop listening to an artist I hate or to start looking down on them for musical incorrectness. When you find yourself seriously trying to argue that some artist is harmful to impressionable minds, it’s time to calm the fuck down, shut the fuck up and stop taking yourself so seriously. What makes the music snobs so tiresome is their myopic inability to understand that other people approach from different vantage points and take different things away from a song (or any work of art, for that matter). I don’t listen to bands to receive philosophical or moral instruction; I listen to them because I like the way their music makes me feel. If the lyricist happens to be really inventive and thought-provoking (Beck, Neil Fallon from Clutch, Andrew Wood from Mother Love Bone), so much the better. Mark Sandman of Morphine was a goddamned genius and created some of the most original, hauntingly beautiful music ever, but his lyrics were pretty ordinary; I don’t think I can come up with any that I would bother quoting. I also listen to some cheesy pop because the melody is pretty and prompts me to daydreaming. It doesn’t suddenly make my IQ drop fifteen points and inspire me to go buy framed pictures by Thomas Kinkade.
Rosenbaum said it in a funny way, but really – he hates the guy’s music so much he went out and bought a greatest hits compilation (rather than, say, downloading songs off of LimeWire) just to, um, figure out why he hates it so much? Riiiight. And Ted Haggard was just delving deep into the sordid homosexual lifestyle in order to better understand how Satan could tempt people away from God. Sounds like someone has himself so indoctrinated with ideas of what he is allowed to like as an intelligent, culturally educated man that he can’t just enjoy a melody even if the lyrics are insipid. This kind of rigid insecurity is really fucking sad, that people like this are so fragile they fear being changed for the worse by a song, movie or a painting.
I know, it’s a pretentious post title, but I didn’t want to call it something generic like “Best Albums of 2008”. I’m just jazzing it up a little. That’s how I roll.
At any rate, I was going to aim for the usual ten or so, but I realized that I really didn’t hear ten great albums released this year. Many of the ones I was eagerly anticipating turned out to be uninspired (Dandy Warhols, Earth to the Dandy Warhols), uneven (TV on the Radio, Dear Science), or just plain bad (Primal Scream, Beautiful Future). So I’ll just list what occurs to me, and maybe throw in some other notable discs that weren’t actually released this year, but I played the hell out of anyway.
Beck, Modern Guilt
I was overjoyed to finally hear of the release date for this back in the summer, but that was quickly tempered by fear: how could this possibly follow the sublime one-two punch of Guero and The Information? I utterly worship those records; should I just steel myself to accept that chances are he’ll never be that good again and just enjoy whatever moments he can still offer? Well, I’m happy to report that I don’t have to cross that bridge for a while yet. The biggest disappointment for me was the album’s brevity, barely more than a half-hour long, while on the plus side, songs like “Profanity Prayers” and “Soul of a Man” are as good as anything he’s ever recorded, and several others aren’t too shabby either. The worst of Beck is still better than the best of many other artists.
The Vines, Melodia
The pop sensibilities and psychedelica of the Beatles mixed with the bipolar punk of Nirvana, sometimes in the same song. Their first disc, Highly Evolved, cast a shadow that the subsequent three haven’t quite escaped from, but Craig Nicholls still writes great songs within those boundaries.
Tribe After Tribe, M.O.A.B.
African acid rock. That’s how Robbi Robb described their music way back when, and I guess it suits as well as any label can. I couldn’t possibly detail all the ways he and his band have influenced me. I bought their record Love Under Will on June 14th, 1994. I still remember the date because…well, because it was one of those life-altering events that make it impossible to forget where you were and what was going on. It was so heavy, but in a percussive way, not like the wall-of-guitar sound I was used to hearing from metal bands. The lyrics were abstractly poetic without being completely impenetrable. I spent months listening to it every single day, and always seemed to find something new in one of the songs. It changed not only the way I wrote music and poetry myself, but the way I thought about and understood music, for that matter. The only other two records I could name that had a comparable effect were Metallica’s …And Justice For All and Type O Negative’s October Rust.
A decade and a half later, they’re thankfully still at it, even though I had to buy the album through his website thanks to a lack of distribution – isn’t that always the way of it? In a just world, this band would be a household name.
Favorite song: Burning Bush
Econoline Crush, Ignite
Last I had heard, their criminally overlooked 2001 album Brand New History was their swan song, but I heard of this one shortly after it had been released (late last year, technically). Picked up right where they left off, they did. I’ve always loved that Trevor Hurst’s voice sounds like Ian Astbury of The Cult mixed with…new wave influence, maybe? Something ’80s, I just can’t quite place it. Sharp, punchy alternative rock with a little electronic feel added in. Bonus fun fact: a friend of mine saw these guys in a club many years ago, and the local paper had screwed up the time and date of the gig. Combined with their invisibility on most music fans’ radar, this led to no one being there for the show but the aforementioned friend of mine. Rather than go back to the van or motel to sulk, they decided to treat it as a rehearsal and played their entire set while he watched, then hung out and shot the breeze with him for a while afterwards. Super cool guys.
Favorite songs: Get Out of the Way, The Love You Feel
King’s X, XV
The legendarily underappreciated Texas trio, King’s X. Almost every rock musician knows and reveres them, but that’s never translated into record sales. They’ve got it all except mainstream success. Other friends of mine have gotten to open for them and share the stage for a couple songs, even, and once again, great guys. Fifteen releases later, they show no signs of letting up, and thank goodness for that.
European electro-pop. I didn’t like it at first listen, but then it grew on me. Another one of those where the expectations are so high, it’s almost a sure thing that you’ll be initially let down, and that was the case here. I still don’t think it’s their best overall, but the song “Versus” would be good enough to cancel out ten more shitty songs.
Best New Old Band of the Year: Folk Implosion
How the hell did I miss these guys back in the late ’90s? I heard the song “Natural One” on the radio one day this past summer, recognized it, thought, “Hey, I like that song, I should find out who it is and look them up,” and so I did. Nothing extraordinary, just great alternative rock with Lou Barlow’s subdued, almost insecure voice tucked away inside it somewhere.
Sigur Rós, Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
Takk..and Ágætis Byrjun will always be the gold standard for me when it comes to these guys, but while this may not be on the same level, it’s still Sigur Rós. ‘Nuff said.
Favorite song: Inní mér syngur vitleysyngur
The Fratellis, Here We Stand
Good ol’ raucous rock ‘n’ roll. Not quite as good as Costello Music to me, but still fun, and that’s all that matters here.
Jon Crosby leaves behind his folk-traveling minstrel experiments for a return to the industrial/electronic rock that he started with. Favorite song: Lift Me Up
The Black Crowes, Warpaint
The roots-rocking, rabble-rousing brothers Robinson finally got back together and put out something new, hilariously taking a bite out of Maxim in the process. Once again, this doesn’t compare for me to their best work (Amorica and Three Snakes and One Charm), but I still enjoy it and think the Crowes deserve better than to be constantly slagged off as Stones/Faces ripoffs. Favorite songs: Oh Josephine, Locust Street
The more we think about all that has been and will be, the paler grows that which is. If we live with the dead and die with them in their death, what are our ‘neighbors’ to us then? We grow more solitary, and we do so because the whole flood of humanity is surging around us. The fire within us, which is for all that is human, grows brighter and brighter – and that is why we gaze upon that which immediately surrounds us as though it had grown more shadowy and we had grown more indifferent to it. But the coldness of our glance gives offense!
Behavior that is excited, noisy, inconsistent, nervous constitutes the antithesis of great passion: the latter, dwelling within like a dark fire and there assembling all that is hot and ardent, leaves a man looking outwardly cold and indifferent and impresses upon his features a certain impassivity. Such men are, to be sure, occasionally capable of neighbor love – but it is a kind different from that of the sociable and anxious to please: it is a gentle, reflective, relaxed friendliness; it is though they were gazing out of the windows of their castle, which is their fortress and for that reason also their prison – to gaze into what is strange and free, into what is different, does them so much good!
But the really reckless were fetched by an older, colder voice, the oceanic whisper: “I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing. That is how I shall set you free. There is no love; there are only the various envies, all of them sad.”
— W.H. Auden
Cool article. My favorite part:
“Solitude is a healthy way of being alone with oneself. One engages in an inner dialogue,” Dumm says. “One of the things that our culture really tries to discourage is thinking, reflection, seriousness. I think that we have to have more confidence in our ability to be thoughtful people. We spend an enormous amount of time worrying about ourselves, but not an awful lot of time caring for ourselves. Caring for ourselves means thinking very seriously and carefully about the conditions under which we’re living our lives, and how others are living theirs, and taking instruction from the way that others have lived their lives.”
The part I would take issue with:
While technology has given us all sorts of novel ways to connect and stay in touch — from Facebook to texting to Twitter — Cacioppo contends that such digital communications are great if they facilitate and enhance face-to-face interactions, but they can increase feelings of loneliness if they are a substitution for in-person interaction. He compares online communication as a balm to loneliness to eating celery when you’re hungry; it’s food, but it’s not going to fill you up like a nutritious meal.
I’ve always been a solitary person, content to spend hours or even days alone with only superficial social contact, and I’ve never considered it a problem. Others have, as I’ve been accused of being everything from rude to mute to mentally retarded for my tendency to speak very little to strangers or mild acquaintances, and then only when spoken to. I have very little ability or patience for meaningless small talk, and wish other people didn’t feel the need to drown out the sound of the wind whistling through their heads by jabbering about nothing in particular. I am definitely one of those who most often feels “lonely” in a crowd or a social gathering where I don’t really have time or freedom to be alone with my thoughts. I don’t know whether it’s a question of being overly cerebral or intellectual (not in the “good lord, I sure am a genius” sense, but in the sense of being analytical and dispassionate) or perhaps some genetic factors, but it is as close to being an essential part of my being as I think a person can have. Personally, the Internet (and especially the blogs) has been a godsend for a social misfit like me. I suppose I would be considered by Cacioppo to be one of those who use it as a substitute for face-to-face interaction, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve found just as much, if not even more intellectual stimulation and interesting characters online in the last several years than I have in the previous few decades of real life. I feel just as much affection for Roy Edroso, Scott & S.Z. Heywood J. and IOZ as people I encounter in the course of a day; maybe in a different way, but no less meaningful. I wouldn’t claim that I “know” people I interact with on the blogs in the same way that I would in person, but who cares? This sort of medium allows you to distill the most interesting parts of what people are all about, their better essence, without the dross that makes up much of their lives. I don’t “know” the artists whose work I treasure either, but my life is no less enriched just because I haven’t seen them sitting around in their underwear scratching themselves. In fact, that might lessen the effect they’ve had on me, might diminish some of the magic. I don’t doubt that for most people, they need to regularly see a smiling face or feel a warm body near theirs to feel well-adjusted, but I’ll take passionate written exchanges of ideas over up-close-and-personal yammering about the weather any day and feel completely satisfied.
“When evening comes, I return to my home, and I go into my study; and on the threshold, I take off my everyday clothes, which are covered with mud and mire, and I put on regal and curial robes; and dressed in a more appropriate manner I enter into the ancient court, of ancient men and am welcomed by them kindly, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born and there I am not ashamed to speak to them, to ask them the reasons for their actions, and they, in their humanity, answer me; and for four hours I feel no boredom, I dismiss every affliction, I no longer fear poverty nor do I tremble at the thought of death; I become completely part of them.”
Speaking of art…I’ve been single for the last few years, and long ago passed the grace period where people left you alone out of respect for a recently failed long-term relationship. Now I get hints from everyone from my mom to my friends, who ask if I’m dating again, who was that girl they saw me talking to, don’t I get lonely around this time of year, and so on. It’s a shame that thanks to centuries of moping Romantics, the epigones of Young Werther disingenuously turning all the best reasons for being a lone wolf into hackneyed clichés, nothing I could say won’t sound like sour grapes or desperate posing or overcompensating. But the truth is, I realized some time ago that music is what makes me happier than anything on earth, with literature a close second. The most transcendent moments I’ve ever experienced have been in the grip of a song or a beautiful passage in a book. I know what it’s like to be in romantic love, of course, and I’ve had moments in a relationship where I felt very happy and content, but still, that sublime sense of dissolving in something much bigger than my tiny ego, of almost existing temporarily somewhere beyond space and time – that belongs to art. Perhaps for all the pleasure Nietzsche has given me with his grandiose, bombastic literary style and quirky insights into the nooks and crannies of life that make me laugh at the discovery of things I never would have thought of on my own, I’m moving more towards a Schopenhauerish view of life, to escape the horrors of the world via the contemplation of art. (I haven’t thrown any talkative old ladies down a flight of stairs yet, but there’s still plenty of time for that.)
So, yes – I might be the only person bounded in the nutshell of my house on Christmas Day, but as long as I have a rack full of CDs and shelves full of books, I will count myself a king of infinite space.
Is there something wrong with these songs? Maybe there’s something wrong with the audience!
— Against Me!
I saw the Pumpkins in August and got treated to much of the same: taking the stage an hour and twenty minutes late a la Axl Rose, two extended trippy jams (honestly, if you expect people to sit through twenty minutes straight of echo, delay, chirping birds and bubbling bongs, pass out some fucking LSD already), griping about middle-aged fans who are stuck in the past and only want to hear the old songs (from the guy who just covered a godawful Pink Floyd song), and only a couple songs from each of their earlier albums. Oh, but there was the, ah, unique encore: a cover of Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime”, complete with kazoo solo – seriously. Billy’s alternate lyrics: “In the summertime, when the weather is fine/ you can stretch right up/and shoot yourself in the head…you can tell everyone to fuck off.” The next day, I checked their website and saw that they were supposedly only doing a two-week warm-up tour, and had already announced that they were going to play the same setlist every night. Apparently it was such a success they decided to do it some more. (I remember rolling my eyes upon reading, several years ago, that Billy was taken with New Age pseudo-philosopher and fellow chrome-dome Ken Wilber – maybe some of that narcissism has rubbed off? Not that Corgan has ever been a shrinking violet…)
Of course, I’m all in favor of artists following their muse wherever it may take them, and Billy Corgan has already given me so many songs that I’ll be listening to all of my life, so even if he decides to make a whole record of kazoo covers, I don’t really have any right to complain about it. What does piss me off is the attitude that people who aren’t down with your current aesthetic sensibilities are somehow fake or fair-weather fans, as if we’re obligated to be equally enthused about subpar music.
I first became aware of them in late ’91 thanks to a tiny blurb in the back pages of a guitar magazine, listing this “folk-rock” band as someone to watch out for in the future. I bought Gish and loved it immediately – as most of my friends were asking me if I had heard this new band called Nirvana, I would say yeah, but I really like this band called the Smashing Pumpkins. “Smashing Pumpkins?! What next, Ravishing Rutabagas?! Haw haw!” Two years later, they were blasting “Cherub Rock” along with all the other Lollapaloozers.
I found something to like on all their records. Of course I loved the My Bloody Valentine-derived wall of sound of Siamese Dream, and the Flood-produced stripped down sound on Mellon Collie. Even on Adore, I felt “To Sheila” and “Pug” were as beautiful as anything Corgan had ever written. Machina didn’t really grab me, but there were still a few good songs, and the net-released follow-up, Machina part Deux, had another song, “In My Body”, that I rank with any of their more famous songs. And the Aeroplane Flies High box set of b-sides and other unreleased material was an incredible grab bag of diverse songs. Everything from full-on aggro-metal to soft acoustic ballads to techno-oriented songs to just plain unique things that I can’t compare to anything else; I’ve enjoyed all of it.
Zeitgeist, though, was just plain flat, uninspired and boring. Oh, the critics tried to warn me, but I figured, hey, it’s the Pumpkins; there’s got to be something on there I’ll like. Nope. Even after several listens, I can hardly remember any of the songs. It’s not that it’s radically different than their past efforts, it’s that it just sounds like leftovers that weren’t good enough to make any of the last few records. It’s insulting to be told that it’s somehow my fault for not being able to appreciate that, as if I’m one of those baby boomer-types, listening to a radio station that only stops playing the same classic rock bands from the 60s and 70s long enough to play a “new” band who blatantly mines that exact same territory. I listen to a pretty eclectic range of music, so it’s not that I’m threatened by change, Billy – it’s just that, to quote the cultural critic Butt-head, “I don’t like stuff that sucks.”
The most gripping documentary I’ve watched in forever. I’ve already told all my friends about it, so I might as well tell the teeming multitudes of readers here, too.
The story is of Iraq’s first and only heavy metal band and their attempts to stay alive, sane, together, and get the fuck out of there. There’s only scattered footage of the band playing (they could only play ten shows in eight years due to the various impediments, from no electricity to fundamentalists threatening to kill people to rockets from Apache helicopters destroying their practice space and all their equipment).
It’s just numbing to see what kind of hell they lived in, even if you have been reading about it for the last five years. Planes approaching the airport have to come in at 27,000 feet and do a corkscrew dive to the landing to avoid being shot down by insurgents. The two guys going there to film this have to be escorted everywhere by twelve armed guards for $1500 a day while wearing bulletproof vests, being told to expect sniper shootings when out driving, being told to stay away from windows. The vocalist and bassist are best friends since childhood and live fifteen minutes apart, but at the time of one visit by the crew, haven’t seen each other for six months because walking down the street to the other’s home would result in being shot or kidnapped on the street. Other offenses that would result in them meeting up with bullets at high velocity: wearing metal bands’ t-shirts, wearing goatees instead of beards, growing long hair, being seen talking to visiting Westerners. One store that sold musical instruments closed down because of death threats from fundamentalists. The aforementioned rocket attack on the building where they practiced. Machine gunfire in the background while they talk to the camera outside an apartment complex. Six million people in a country of 26 million are either dead or in exile. Almost one fucking quarter. These kids have spent almost their entire lives dealing with the brute reality of American occupation and off-and-on bombing and sanctions while living under Saddam, only to see it get worse. And yet, they’re still warm and friendly to these visiting journalists from Canada and NYC. Can you imagine your typical American being hospitable to a visiting foreigner from a country that had been attacking us for the last two decades while killing or scattering 75 million of us?
It’s touching and somewhat surreal, then, to see this almost childlike, pure faith in music that gives them hope and strength in the midst of all this. I thought I lived for music, but even if I could have all my current collection and then some, I’d rather commit suicide than live through all that. They end up going to Turkey by way of Syria in hopes of finding a place where they can actually play shows and go to a recording studio, while dealing with the stress and anxiety of being homesick exiles at the mercy of bureaucrats. They can never go home again thanks to the international coverage their story attracts; they’d be shot on sight. They’re incredibly upbeat throughout the film, but at one point, while they’re trying for official UN refugee status in Istanbul, the drummer starts to feel despondent over the thought that they might come so far only to be split up and sent to different cities in Turkey, where none of them know the language and feel like retarded cavemen, as he puts it. He says, “Nobody wants us. Nobody will just let us be. Iraqis are like the plague of the world. Why don’t you just fucking nuke us all and be done with it already?” Knowing that members of some of the American bands they idolize, like Metallica and Megadeth, have expressed a desire to do exactly that almost made me cry at that point.
And if it doesn’t fill you with a burning desire to go string up every last member of the Bush administration from lampposts and use them as piñatas, you must not be human.