Thursday, August 2, 2007

Make Music, Not Class-Divisions

Get this; in Washington state, they're going to play classical music in bus shelters and bus stops to create a non-violent environment/aura and deter criminals from hanging around the bus shelters.

What the f' is this? When Mozart composed, I'm pretty sure he didn't intend to hold the ghetto at bay in some shitty part of a Washington city. The entire thing promotes the gap between the classes and feeds the stigma of classical music being "elitest" or exclusive instead of stopping crime.

It won't create an aura in which crime will just disappear. Crime will go elsewhere, or still happen, but c'mon.....Don't use Brahms that way.

A psychologist from the Criminal Institute says the purpose of the program is to "mix different types of activities in locations that are crime-ridden to change the composition of the environment". And *then*, the bus driver said, "the reason we don't have music on the buses is that you can't please everyone. It would just cause drama."

I gotta agree with the bus driver. This has to be abuse on some level. How about taking the money the city spent on the speakers and electric equipment for every single bus stop and using it to hire quality music teachers for the underfunded schools instead of draining their funding when they don't pass tests as if the mere lack of a music class will motivate children to learn more.
C'MON people!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cover Me

You've heard about it, the Metallica v. Napster debate or popular musicians such as Van Halen or Led Zeppelin suing nightclubs for paying cover-bands to perform without paying royalties to the artists, or Eminem suing Apple over unauthorized downloads on iPods. I've been thinking about this for a while. I can understand an artist suing over the download thing because it's stealing. However, Metallica would've killed for that kind of recognition when they were first starting out, and I think I can safely say the same for any music-artist bringing a lawsuit against those who are infringing on copyright laws. It's almost a signal for the artist on their way out. "okay, guys, I'm leaving. Don't steal my stuff," and a lawsuit follows shortly thereafter.

Why don't current music-stars sue over copyright infringement? Because they love the recognition. Because, even though teens sit at home and download a song from the internet, they will still go out and buy the album. The possession-of-goods stigma lives on. You're okay if you've got the album downloaded and burnt, but you rock if you bought it. Considering the amount of money lost in the downloading/stealing shenanigans, it actually serves to profit the band.

Never before in musical history has there been that kind of publicity. Never has a band gone from zero to Guitar Hero in less time than it takes for your computer to tell you your download is complete. The artists who are popular in the moment will embrace the internet for launching them into super-stardom and will create their own webzines, fansites, become Myspace whores, etc.

Yeah, it's wrong for their intellectual property to be stolen, but with the monetary gain and fame gain it gives them by letting others do it while they're still in the spotlight, it's no wonder they hold out for wrinkly old-age to bring 14 year old Joe's parents to court to sue him for downloading their first hit from three decades ago.

All I'm sayin' is, I see what's going on here, and in the live music venue, if there's a cover-band, then royalties need to go where royalties should legally go. No one has a right to profit off of someone else's song without paying that someone else first. I agree. I think there needs to be some serious reform with regard to how musicians are treating the copyright laws in light of the internet making new stars' careers and breaking the banks of the ones who don't perform anymore, rather rely on the royalties for their paycheck.

I'm just sayin'...Van Halen begging for change on the sidewalks of San Francisco is not a good image for me. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Of Monkeys and Men

Korn has done some trailer to-do about De-evolution, the idea that man is evolving backwards and that the species has taken a U-turn. However, they didn't give Devo a nod for the De-evolution theme Devo has been plugging since 1972. Casale, from Devo, has said this about devolution, "When you have an administration like we have, everybody learns that ‘fuck you’ is the rule of the day. Every time the president speaks it’s a painful example that de-evolution is real.”

Reminds me of the movie Idiocracy. There was this big dumb-humor element to it, but the truth in it stuck with me. The direction the masses are headed in pains me and movies like Idiocracy and Jesus Camp keep me up at night, clutching my pillow.

So will Korn nod in Devo's direction? Apparently, their fan base has lashed out at Devo for bringing it up. Perhaps Korn would do well to remember who they opened for in 1996's Lollapalooza (Devo). While it's true that Devo has influenced many of today's bands (Casale claims credit for influencing such bands as LCD Soundsystem, TV on the Radio, and Interpol) perhaps both need to take a step back and look at which theory they're only proving.

On a lighter note, Devo may be coming out with a new album. Their first new one since 1990. It depends on Mothersbaugh, musical genius that he is, must be swamped with Sims music. ;-)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rose Bowl 2005

January 4th, 2005, Ashley Simpson was severely boo'd at the end of her halftime performance during the Orange Bowl. This created a lot of controversy between Simpson's fans and those who completely dislike Simpson. There were arguments about whether or not it was linked to the SNL incident from the October prior, and that perhaps all of the 72,000 Rose Bowl fans had seen her milli vanilli and disapproved.

The more likely story is that the IQ of the screaming crowd dropped as soon as the first "boo" was picked up. I've heard this stated in various ways, but the main theme is that, when a crowd begins to work together for a common purpose (be it beating the shit out of someone, or boo'ing an untalented star), the IQ of the crowd is determined by taking the individual in the crowd with the lowest IQ and subtracting ten points from it.

I *do* feel bad for the girl. But, I mean, the media is making her out to be a martyr now, as if she's "fighting the good fight" and "such a strong woman". Y'know what would take more strength? Admitting that she doesn't have the talent required to make it in a business that requires talent, and stepping down.

In any case, it wasn't about Ashley Simpson. She can go on as many talkshows and cry about it to try and regain composure in time for the release of her third album, but it's about recognition. My faith in the culture was renewed when they began to shout things at her because, as much as they buy into the pop-flawed sexamusicality, they will still stand up and degrade that which tries to pay for something intangible like "talent" or "ability".

Heh. Or "tact". I'm just saying.

I'd also like to mention that nowhere in this post did I say Jessica's name. Damnit.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

you didn't write that

So it should come as no surprise that the majority of today's pop artists or one-hit-wonders are less than great at writing their own music. But now you won't know who sat down and thought it out, or who took money made by acting in poorly made teen-films, money used to stuff coke up one's nose or put designer brands on ones back, money used for the last-minute limo to stumble into a studio, hungover and strungout, to buy someone else's song and say they wrote it.

Apparently, music-artists look better to the public if they say they write their own songs. So even if you have no talent, you can still *pay* for talent, which is one of the fundamental flaws of today's music industry. P. Diddy was quoted as saying, "Don't worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!"

I guess the thing that really gets to me is the arguments that happen over this. I read about Avril Lavigne fighting to keep some kind of artistic integrity intact and, I'm sorry, it's laughable to me. How can you write a song and spell the title of it incorrectly and still claim some sort of musical integrity? A famed songwriter for many artists, Chantal Kreviazuk, accused Avril of not giving her credit in her newest album and Lavigne's people are defending her. There's big drama connected to this argument and questions of ethics are coming into play.

Everyone has lost sight of the actual point: there *are* no ethics when people like Avril Lavigne can make the money she makes off of the low-quality music that comes out of her studio. That goes for too many of today's artists. So why are people scrambling to take credit for what is destroying music?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

So I show you some more, and I learn.

I was sixteen when I first heard Tori Amos's "Jackie's Strength" on the radio in my aunt's old Mercedes (which I now own) parked at a gas station.

I had been playing the piano for eight years and was starting to experiment with my own style; coming up with tunes and cheesy lyrics. I wasn't sure which way to push in terms of my style. I mostly listened to radio-esque music, favoriting the poppiest charts and mainstream styles, but I didn't feel any of it when I sat at the piano. It felt wrong and out of place to bang a major chord for a million bars while belting out "i love you, come back to me, you're the best, i'm so sad" and cheese of the same ilk.

But here was piano on the radio. I didn't know who she was, but she was strong for not buying into the silky pop tones that laced most artist's voices (or, if they didn't come prepackaged with the sound, they were given it in the computer lab) and when the strings came in over the chorus, I was hooked. My aunt returned to the car and I asked her at the end of the song if she knew who the artist was. She told me and smiled. She said she thought I'd like her, and then she bought me her album for my birthday.

I didn't listen to it very much right away. But I remember needing something to listen to while I painted my new room. I put From the Choirgirl Hotel on as I painted and began to memorize each track, singing the lewder lyrics under my breath in case I was caught. It was sixties punk all over again. It was rock and roll, underground politics, blackmarket, anti-authority at its best all wrapped up in this voice that didn't care about pop-sound or the opera singing techniques I was taught from a young age. She breathed into the microphone and the vocal coaches gasped, and I applauded inside for the courage it took to step outside of the lines in that musical-leash.

I had seen her pictures on the album artwork for From the Choirgirl Hotel, but that was as familiar as I was with her appearance, and I took to not reading her lyrics until I was sure I knew what she was saying, then I'd go back and see what the difference was.

I don't find as many musical-greats as there rightly should be, but Tori is definitely one of them. Who is your musical hero, and why?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

we start with wes

Wes Anderson; brilliant, talented, thirty-eight and (get your throwing-panties ready, ladies) single. Anderson directed such satires as Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, and Rushmore. His new movie, The Darjeeling Ltd., is scheduled to be released this December (or October...depending on your source). A quirky mix of sixties block-colors and the exaggerated reality of a character's journey, Wes embeddes layers of dark comedy in his movies and weaves into them upbeat, almost chastisingly poppy music to contrast the heavy burden of life some of them feel compelled to sleep under.

Within all of Wes's movies, he brilliantly meshes the soundtracks with the script (not an easy task). Of course, it sometimes calls for a shift in styles of music and, for those fans of the outcast-genius, we will follow a musical thread of suggestions with a couple common "wes-esque" themes.

This entry would be amiss if I didn't mention The Decemberists's brilliant tribute to Anderson's "Rushmore" with their music video "16 Military Wives". The Decemberists are from Oregon and headed by Colin Meloy who possesses a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana (there's hope for those CW Majors yet!). The band is known for their incredible live shows, performing such tunes as "The Mariner's Revenge Song" as a musical with the ghost of a sailor's mother flying in on strings. I'd catagorize them as indie-folk with a unique twist. Their newest album, The Crane Wife, hit the stores last Oct./Nov. and is worth looking into for more of their folkie goodness.

Anderson recruited Seu Jorge to act on the set of The Life Aquatic and sing renditions of David Bowie songs in portuguese. If he looks familiar outside of The Life Aquatic, you may have also seen him in the movie City of God where he played the character Mané Galinha. Jorge's website seems to be under construction but he released an album called The Life Aquatic Studio sessions with enough rehashed David Bowie to make any eighties child cream their panties.

Another incredible indie movie, Garden State, features a scene in which the character played by Natalie Portman offers Zach Braff's character her earphones, saying that the song will change his life. The song, "New Slang", was written by The Shins and features lyrics traditional of surrealist poetry that'd make you outcast-geniuses go ga-ga for in scrambling with the meaning. While "New Slang" didn't change my life (personally), its certain je ne sais qua element has landed here in our indie soup. The band is also from Oregon and they are classified as indie-rock. Their new album, Wincing the Night Away, was released January of this year.

Or maybe you're looking for the tradition Wes Anderson quirkiness without all the extra words. After all, there's only so many ways to say "genius" before you have to stop talking and just know. Wes Anderson likes to use Mark Mothersbaugh to soundtrack his movies. Mothersbaugh participated in The Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Bottle Rocket soundtracks and has a large repertoir of soundtracks, gaming music, and commercial tunes.

Architecture in Helsinki is a band catagorized as avante-garde indie pop (french for "post-modernism". ha!) They're planning on touring this fall and their new album, Places Like This, will be released in August. Woo! Put aside your chump-change and buy it.

A band who has toured with Architecture in Helsinki and hails from Scotland is Belle and Sebastian (named after a french children's book)and they've established quite the reputation for any underground rehashed sixties-pop fan. Their album Tigermilk was recorded in three days and the original vinyls sell for 400gbp! Their newest album is The Life Pursuit, released in 2006.

I encourage all to leave thoughts, requests, suggestions, etc. I hope this helps some of the fans of Anderson's work. If you need more, ask and you shall receive.

"Sic Transit Gloria"