Wednesday, October 29, 2008

People Try To Put Us Down (And, Alarmingly, Are Succeeding)

But it's bad when it's one of our own.

Anyone heard Hilary Duff's cover of My Generation? I have.

I want to OLD SHAME now.

This song is absolute trash.

The worst bit is that I found myself liking it. And therein lies both the defenestrative motivation and a hint at what is wrong with music today. It appears to me that the market is flooded at the top (i.e. the hits and the most popular acts) commercial creations.

No, really. Boy bands? (Actually, most rock bands have, historically been mostly or wholly male. The term 'boy band', hopefully to become derisive, referring to N*SYNC and the Backstreet Boys, is limited to the pure pop sphere. At least I hope so.) They were put together to sell; I cannot imagine a boy band coming together in the way The Beatles or Electric Light Orchestra or even The White Stripes did (excepting the thankfully fictional Fingerbang, and no, that's not what it means, Cartman. Oh wait. It was Cartman's idea. Never mind). So have all these teen idols like Britney, Lindsay Lohan, Christina Aguilera, Duff, Hannah Montana (and her equally kid-friendly alter ego, Miley Cyrus), and the rest of them.

One of my biggset complaints is that virtually NONE of them write their own songs. Most of the bands I've really grown attached to were led by or had one or two good songwriters as members. Realize that you're reading a fan of Rush, Neil Young (and Crazy Horse, Stray Gators, International Harvesters, Buffalo Springfield), Creedence Clearwater Revival, Styx, and Billy Joel; whose songwriters are, respectively, Neil Peart, Neil Young (duh), John Fogerty, Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw and James Young, and Billy Joel (again duh).

I am willing to go so far as to say that Neil Young is the greatest singer/songwriter of our time. He's always made his music the way HE wants to. It doesn't matter to him what other people think of his work; he's going to do something that he likes anyway. He may have rolled into the ditch (albums Time Fades Away, Tonight's The Night, and On The Beach) or flipped out completely (his Geffen contract-David Geffen actually sued Neil for making 'unrepresentative music) but whether he knows where he's going with something or not he does everything he can to get something he will want to show the world.

By contrast, most commercial music is made with the implicit goal of pleasing everybody. The motive is not to do spectacular or groundbreaking or truly emotionally captivating work; it's to sell vapid, worthless records and make money. It seems as though the record companies know this. It would explain why CD prices are still around $15-$20 per CD and all we hear in the top 40 are acts that can't really play playing for audiences that can't really listen. Record execs seem to prefer to rake in the cash rather than be known for picking talent. God forbid something truly amazing and mind-blowing like The Doors' and Led Zeppelin's debuts were back in the late 60's end up on the charts. Seriously. How in the hell could some random Britney single ever fucking well compare to Dazed And Confused (Led Zep) or Hey Hey My My (Into The Black) (Neil & the Horse) or even Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics? It can't.

There's one apparent member of the teen idol singer club I can't really be mad at; in fact, I'm not sure she belongs with the rest of them. For some reason, I'm tempted to lump Shakira in with the Britneys and Duffs and Cyrii that are clogging up the top ten lists, but I just can't bring myself to do so. Probably because she's not really pop, in the same vein as the former, from my point of view. I'm guessing, by virtue of liking Ojos Asi, that she's tapping into something different. That her musical backgroud is different also helps. There are Latin musical sounds mixed with Lebanese influences in Ojos Asi, instead of cookie-cutter pop fakery. And best of all, she's been writing songs since she was eight. Doesn't she also play an instrument or two? She stands out, instead of blending in; and that's one of the criteria by which I judge music. The harder it is to compare or describe something, the more likely it is that I'll like it. (Note: I just checked out her Wikipedia page and noticed that she's 31. [She's still hot.] I think her age lends her an extra point in my eyes for musical credibility.)

One of the ways to counter this deluge of drek is to support independent music. I'm not saying 'burn your Wolfmother CDs in the streets' (because Wolfmother is actually good); but rather find the places in your area that host local and regional bands, unsigned artists, and other random people with guitars (like whoever stole Sonic Youth's instruments back in the 80's, I'm assuming).

I don't usually like to rant and rage, but this needed it. It really did. Once a cover by someone who likes and respects the original artist makes it into the top 40, I'll be happy. I think it'd undo some of the damage Dillary Huff has done.

Thank god I had P.O. Box 9847 by The Monkees to recover with. (That's saying a lot, surprisingly. Even though The Monkees were a commercial product (hence the nickname 'Prefab Four'), they did some suprisingly good work-actually their album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. was some of their best work in my opinion. Also they didn't really NEED Davy Jones, right? He was just eye candy. He played the freakin' tambourine. What The Monkees with just Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith could have done would have been very interesting to hear.)

Incidentally, xkcd.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Electrical Banana

Sombeody just used the phrase 'weapons-grade sex toys'. O-kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.......

Thursday, February 21, 2008

All I Got Is Your Photograph


This is the method used to make those awesome psychedelic bumps on Adult Swim! It's called tilt-shift photography. Apparently it results from misalignment of the front lens of a camera, resulting in a gradient of focus. I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but I think I can see why I made the assumption that the scenes in said bumps were modeled.

Some people think that learning how something was done, getting a behind-the-scenes look at something ruins their perception of it. In this case, not for me. Now I know that anything I take a picture of can be modeled-even if only in a photograph.

A lovely gallery of this sort of work can be found here. Even though it's digital manipulation used on some of these images, I still can't get over how powerful they are, as a total experience. Understand that we're excluding their music from this discussion.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Donna Ashita Ga Kitemo Kono Omoi Wa Tsuyoi

I wondered if this was available on the Tubes of You. Younha is damn cute too.

I first heard Houki Boshi as an ending theme for a portion of the Bleach anime. The intensity was what got to me first. For a Japanese pop record, the execution of the wall of sound is top notch (not that I know enough about Japanese music to say so with authority, but it reads well). Her voice is beautiful too. I almost want to cry at certain parts of the song-and then, in the very next note, I want to laugh like I've never been lonely. It's an emotional roller coaster, or is for me at least. I love the sound of her piano, as well. It sounds synthesized, but like it's an antique synthesizer. The video is really cool too. Younha sitting on top of the world, literally. The shots of her at her piano, showing us just how cute she is (like so many Japanese chicks. Japanese chicks are the cutest of all the hot Asian chicks, no question) and the bits where she's holding the box with the little diorama in it are enthralling.

My little sister is going to love this.