Archive for February, 2011

A Critical Thinker Tries Dubstep

February 28, 2011

Got it...but what else???

I consider myself to be a music enthusiast.  I’m sure some people think I’m a music snob, or a music nerd, but I don’t like those terms since I try not to reject one style over another, and I am happy to listen to music I don’t like or understand.  I love Outsider Music, I listen to the latest pop star and the latest alt-country act with equal excitement.

A year or two ago I went to see Ministry live, and opening for them was Meshuggah.  I have to admit…I loved the show!  I actually preferred Meshuggah over Ministry.  They opened my eyes to the complex nature of metal. I couldn’t understand it!  I couldn’t figure out how the musicians did it. That’s what drew me to the genre…it was complex, mysterious, and unique.

I get you, you scary scary men.

See…before that moment I didn’t ‘hate’ death metal but I also never really looked into it.

Fast forward to now…and for a  year I’ve been told that Dubstep is ‘now’ the best music out there…the future…is going to take over…blah blah blah.  I reacted the same way as I did with death metal…I asked a few people to send me links to ‘amazing’ Dubstep, you know, that song or artist that made them fall in love with the genre.  Song after song was sent my way with descriptors like “Sick!” “Amazing!” “Best song I’ve ever heard.”

Song after song bored the living fuck out of me.  Literally!  The ‘sickest’ song to me sounded like a track that was going somewhere…and then opted to go nowhere instead…and that choice is what people love!! It built me up to expect a payout but instead slowed down, turned up the bass, and often did little else.  I didn’t get it, but I also couldn’t see what people were talking about.

That was my problem…if I don’t understand but can see what people like about a genre, I give the genre credit.  But I could see no redeeming characteristics, and worse…no one could describe it for me!!

…requests for “What is it you like about these songs” were constantly met with the same notes I was given before…Sick! Amazing! Best song I’ve ever heard.

 

Dubstep Enthusiasts according to Google.

But WHY!?!?

I asked if you could dance to it…no response.

I asked if it was better to listen to if you were high…no response.

At this point I almost felt like dubstep was popular because…it was popular!  Like Zsa Zsa Gabor, famous for being famous.

A recent comment on my blog brought the subject back up, praising the music industry for catching on to the popularity of dubstep much faster than usual:  Britney Spears incorporates it, radio stations are even dropping in dubstep tracks, a ‘dubstep’ DJ (…though most of what I’ve heard has been drum and bass or other genres) graced the cover of Toronto’s free culture weekly, NOW, last week.

But no one has been able to explain it to me other than to reject me for not getting it naturally!  “Oh…it’s underground…you wouldn’t get it.”  Like I’m ‘not a kid today’ so I can’t get it.  I’m pretty kid like.  Ask anyone…I play with stuffed animals AND play my music loud!!

This past weekend I listened to CRAPLOADS of dubstep, I found a track or two I enjoyed for what it was, and tried to immerse  myself.  I still can’t see it as anything different than a passing musical fad – like happy hardcore, or grunge.  There are many salespeople and fans, but it’s almost like they’ve either sold their previous preferences to engage themselves ‘solely’ in the genre, or have been fans since it’s emergence five or six years ago and have rejected all other music as a result.

Which may be a reason I don’t get it…if you’re close-minded and only like a genre, you’ll defend it to the death but probably can’t explain it well to the uninitiated because there’s nothing to compare it to.

Correct me!  Educate me!  Don’t just push me aside and tell me that if I don’t get it now I probably never will.  I’m a music enthusiast, I want to get it and I know there’s a reason you like it.  I just need a fellow enthusiast to tell me how!

Awesome Album Cover…Saturday: Red

February 26, 2011

…Saturday…not Friday!  Blame Narnia, Cracked Canoe, and my awesome roomie and his bf.  Today’s theme, RED!  GO RED!!!

 

Obviously the Stripes are here...this is my fave!

And…the best red-themed album cover…ever…in history…

Hope you enjoyed!  I promise to be more on the ball next week!  Lots happened, and lots more is expected to in the coming month!  Expect updates on an amazing artist doing what she can to get big here in the city, me getting back together to write songs and perform with my high-school band mate, a pop star exploding on the scene (…or not…it’s literally just getting started right now!), how I think Drum and Bass and New Age are similar, causality, the internet, authorship, and much much more!

YAY!

Awesome Album Covers…Coming Soon!

February 25, 2011

As you can see...I am a sad kangaroo fenced in by work!

…I ran to work this morning and forgot that my REAL responsibility is to collect you awesome album covers today!  I apologize!  How could I be so vain!

Expect them this evening!!!

Podcast of the Week(?): The End Of Music?

February 23, 2011

Heya everyone!  Roo here.  Talking like I’m on a podcast, and with good cause…because I listen to a lot of them and, although I’d love to do one myself, I’m currently leaving it to the experts.  You may have noticed the question mark in my title.  It’s because I’m acting like I’ve had this ‘Podcast of the Week’ thing for awhile, or will keep it going, but I have no clue if I’ll even remember it next week.  It just makes a fancy title.  So I used it.

RadioLab is a genius show produced out of New York City that blends art and science, tackling amazing subjects in a similar way to ‘This American Life’ but with a scientific twist.  Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are very entertaining and likeable, and the way shows are edited almost like rhythmic music makes it incredibly listenable.

The podcast I suggest you listen to is called Pop Music, specifically for the last story about ‘The Elvis of Afghanistan.’  It’s a bit of a cautionary tale…which tells us that even when you think things are good, and that nothing can change…it can.  Give it a listen!  You can stream from the site:

RadioLab – Pop Music

Or, if you like podcasts like me, why not subscribe!

The Experience: Browsing and Consuming Music Today

February 22, 2011

The music experience has changed.  I was grocery shopping this past weekend, and while going up and down the aisles I had a weird flash back to the idea of ‘shopping for music.’  I’ve consumed music in so many ways:

  • Traditional Music Store: heading to an HMV, Tower Records, Sam the Record Man, or whatever…all new CDs, a wall with the latest new releases organized by chart position, genres galore (the most popular currently with a big section, plus a massive rock/pop area)…
  • Traditional Used CD Store: you never know what you’ll get, if you’re lucky organized by genre but sometimes in a ‘SURPRISE’ bin where awesome discoveries are made
  • Record Store: Flippin’ through vinyl, often decisions are made by how cool the cover art is or by the uniqueness of the name
  • Online Digital Downloads: from iTunes to Bandcamp, flip through artists over the net, sample the album, and grab for free or for a price
  • Radio: Flip through stations, hear classic hits and new tunes
  • YouTube: I mostly discover remixes or clever covers this way, or (as I do with this blog) it’s a way to introduce someone to a new artist or song without having to own the mp3
  • Stage Side: Grab the CD at a show…I did this with pre-Dogs Eye View Peter Stewart at a Tori Amos show, or more recently with Donovan Woods opening for Tunng in Toronto
  • Television and Movies: Watched Grey’s Anatomy? Scott Pilgrim vs The World?  There’s a whole new way of discovering awesome music.

Gradually, the traditional shopping and consuming experiences are disappearing, replaced by digital download cards, The Pirate Bay, placement in commercials, or nothing.

What is the future of music consumption?  So much is dependent on friend suggestions, on word of mouth, on random discovery.  How many new artists have you discovered through radio?  Or does radio seem to be playing catchup with the buzz bands we’ve already been listening to for years?  Have you visited a record store recently, or caught a random show by a random band?

How do you experience ‘music browsing’ nowadays?  …I’m asking!  I’d actually be interested in your comments, starting with telling me how you used to consume and shop, and how you do it now.  I have friends who joined the CD revolution as it was dying off and only really know music as a free online download…others started with vinyl and wish it never changed.

Please let me know!  I’d like to do a full report sometime soon so we can see how things used to be, how things are now, and hopefully…predict how we’ll browse and consume music in the next few years!

Sunday Sunday Sunday! + ‘The Overgrown Spatulas’

February 20, 2011

Something new Sunday is still encouraged!  It’s kinda late to ‘go out’ and hit a record store, used CD store, or a local new CD store (…in Canada we have HMV…in the US I guess you go to Barnes and Noble or something??) and check a listening station or two out, but you can still do online discoveries!

Last week I suggested you browse to a radio station and ‘Listen Live,’ even try a genre you don’t normally listen to.  Why not head to BandCamp and browse, or even MySpace! Give a few random indie artists or new bands a listen.  Even if you hate it, why not give an entire song a try instead of skipping!  Expand yer brain!

I’m gonna do music skimming tonight.  My ‘Something New’ trip today was to a gastropub…it’s like eating at a pub but the food is more expensive and fancy!  Aside from the overly-hipster atmosphere I was pretty damned pleased with my high class breakfast burrito, though I most enjoyed munching on my bestie’s Mac and Cheese with truffles and fancy aged cheeses!

But this ain’t a food blog (…I may occasionally break into a food or booze review…it’s all to help you live a better life!) so get out there, discover!

If you’re desperate for something offbeat, I’ll direct you to my first high school band: The Overgrown Spatulas.  It’s…pretty weird shit (I was 16 or so when we formed) that tried to blend catchy tunes and general strangeness.  With nods to Hayden, Nirvana, and the Smiths…as well as a general love of cheesy tunes and misplaced ‘fake anger’ (me and co-songwriter, Ryan, weren’t angsty teens but our friends were so it was kidna fun to pretend to be).  Each song was lovingly recorded in Ryan’s basement on a Fostex 4 Track recorder.  If you can’t find anything else…give it a shot!

…and don’t judge me.  Please.

Awesome Album Cover Friday – Space!

February 18, 2011

It’s time for another instalment of Awesome Album Cover Friday!  I was hoping to incorporate both meanings of ‘space’ into this theme – both outer, and ‘use of.’  In the end…all I discovered is that space is a goofy…goofy place…

...I'm beginning to think that 'Space' was a fad half a century ago!

One of my favourite album covers ever, by artist and cartoonist Seth...I used to serve him latte's...didn't realize it was him till years after I'd met him!

And this weeks “How does that go with that?” award goes to…

And there you have it!  If you have a suggestion, a comment, or anything there’s a fancy comments section below for you!  And if you’re into hearing more from me I have one of them Tweeterer accounts: @Potoroo where you can hear about music, my day, updates on when I stub my toe or write a song, who I think is cute…and on and on and on.  Wheee!

The Snare Trap: Bieber is Bigger than Jesus!

February 18, 2011

Bieber bashing is the latest craze…if you could monetize it I’d bet it would make more money than the Hula Hoop!  Some people like belittling his hair or lesbian-like features…others prefer to target the fans who adore him.  Yah…good job big guys…attack the kid-singer and a bunch of 12 year old girls.

The newest source of ‘fun’ is his Rolling Stone interview.  You know…where the kid who sings songs about loving girls and is ushered from one place to another by an expert team of handlers, bodyguards, and consultants decided it was FINALLY time to let his hatred for all women be known to the world and announce that he thinks rape happens for a reason!  Everything does in fact!

Let’s infer from his statement that he also agrees with terrorism, eugenics, and corporate fraud!!  He did say everything!

Everyone…Bieber clearly did not sift through his thoughts and come up with ‘Rape Happens For A Reason.’  He’s a 16 year old kid.  He was answering a question about abortion and, upon saying that he doesn’t like the idea of killing babies, was broadsided with a question about victims of rape.

…wait a second…why the hell were they asking Bieber about abortion in the first place???

People are so caught up in his flub (or, maybe, Rolling Stone’s clever editing) that they aren’t questioning the reason for the flub in the first place.  Since when did we need to know a kid star’s opinions on the hard hitting political topics of the day?  No one is acknowledging his half-decent answer on the US health care system that was entirely based on his experiences and the experiences of his entourage.

Bieber got caught in the media snare, so desperate for something to talk about that they often have to lead celebrities to give themselves a scandal.  Why celebrities? Simple: if Jim, a mechanic at AAA Lubrication and Transmissions, said that ‘rape happens for a reason’ then he’d get a backhand and told he’s an asshole. He wouldn’t get the attention of the world.  If Bieber says it…the world knows!

The snare trap is annoying, but NOT as annoying as the people who feed off whoever is trapped there.

Honestly…The View?  I get it…it’s a women’s show for women and the comment is insulting…but are they so stupid there that they can’t see the big picture.  If I’m not mistaken, they’re all mothers…I’m not a mother, or a father, but I strongly believe it wasn’t Rolling Stone’s place to push a kid to talk about abortion and rape.

Another media snare is the ‘post-comment spin,’ you know…like this:

Being led into a trap, or accidentally wandering into it, doesn’t matter.  Rolling Stone has it’s story, people will buy magazines, and they have at least another year before drifting into obscurity.  They’ve also managed to feed the never-sated Bieber-hatred machine…how much you wanna be the next cover will either be a scantily-clad rock chick or some bad ass guitarist.  They have to balance the fact that they had the Biebs on their cover this month (…I don’t care what you think…I like what they did with his hair)

…and before you get all huffy and angry…I’m not comparing Bieber to John Lennon, nor am I saying Bieber shouldn’t have taken a second to think through what he was about to say…I said a LOT of stupid stuff when I was 16 and I didn’t have cameras on me 24/7.

Please…PLEASE…consider the motivations of a person before using their words to vilify another.  A magazine needs to sell advertising space and therefore needs to sell issues.  A journalist needs to get a big story so they can justify their next pay raise.  A kid singer is excited to have an interview with a major music magazine (and cover as well!) and probably thinks he’ll be talking about girls and music.  A women’s show needs to (rightly) defend women if they feel they are being attacked.

In the end…this is about free advertising from a scandal and advertising dollars from magazine sales.  And all you need is the most popular kid in the world to fall into your trap.

Tough Chicks

February 17, 2011

Tura Satana - The toughest chick...EVAR!

When I was in high school I had a thing for tough chicks.  It should be noted that the tough chicks I was into are all fictional, not traditionally beautiful, and pretty mannish: Ripley from Alien, Tank Girl, and Aeon Flux.  I mean…Aeon wore some skimpy outfits but…I didn’t pay attention to them.

…a guy in high school who is into fictional chicks who are like guys.  Yah…how the hell did I keep my dirty secret so long, I’ll never know.

One bonus to these interests was that I also liked tough chicks in music.  And I don’t mean tough chicks like Joan Jett, or Courtney Love, or anything like that.  Mine were tough in a different way…one weighed under 100 pounds but I was terrified to meet her in an alley.  Another was pretty girly but had dark undertones to her sweet music.  The third…nope, she was fuckin’ tough…claws and all.

PJ Harvey

Her wail sent chills down my spine.  The rawness of her music totally inspired me to be as raw as her even when I tried to make pretty songs.  Her face is so piercing.  I heard stories of her performing before Nine Inch Nails and seeming like a small child on stage in a cat suit, flailing about with a fresnel light.  She weighs 90 pounds soaking wet but would kick my ass…I know it.

Tori Amos

If you know anything about this girl you know that she has some sort of influence on me.  One is pretty obvious (look up!) but also she was a piano player back when that was my instrument, before I discovered the guitar and bass and everything else.  Also, she wrote harsh songs that were so pretty it was so easy to miss their meaning trapped in the melodies and instrumentation…but trust me…there is something dark brewing inside this preacher’s daughter.

Bjork

Probably the toughest of the chicks…and not just because of this:

Think about it…she grew up in Iceland…ICELAND!  That isn’t the Midwest, the east coast, or the prairies…it’s fucking Iceland, colourless land of steamy earth and cold.  She also probably has a few screws loose, but those screws fell into the part of her brain that controls creativity and musicality.  Her sound is unique, and each album is unique as well.  She experiments with music and how it’s made.  Would you fight Bjork in any of these vids?

And my final proof…Bjork gettin’ pierced and sewed…say no more…

RIP Trish Keenan of Broadcast

February 17, 2011

It’s weird when news comes late.  I wrote an article on this band just over a week ago, and I just found out today that their unique vocalist, Trish Keenan, died of  pneumonia in January.  Thanks for the awesome music, Trish.

Click here to see my Music Monday post on Broadcast.