Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You Are All Whores, Or, The Downward Spiral Of Pop

It's been a while, but there is a certain #1 song that has gotten me so infuriated that I had to come out of retirement. "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry is this year's best example of lowest common denominator music. It's the song I dread hearing while I'm having lunch with my daughter in Subway, which unfortunately has happened more than once. She likes Subway.

I'm sure you've heard the song, either by accident or (ugh) on purpose. You either love it or you hate it. It's just one of those songs. I hated it the first time I heard it, and I throw up a little bit every time I hear it. The worst experience I've had with this song was at the gym a couple weeks ago. Not only did I have to hear the entire song played really loudly, but the 40-something spinning class instructor even sang along to it. Yeah, I go to a spinning class. What?

This horrible trend of pop tarts out-trashing the other pop tarts really exploded when Britney and Christina put out their 2nd albums. They both went from innocent to super-whore after only one album. Sure, Madonna was kinda racy back in the 80's and 90's, but nothing compared to what's going on now. "Justify My Love" was at least a better written song than "I Kissed A Girl". When I first saw the title of the song on the iTunes home page, I assumed it was a remake of that 90's song of the same name. I think I could have handled that. But the reality is so much worse.

I'm not offended by the song. I don't care that she is singing about sexual curiosity. The simple fact is that pop music has hit an all time low. I don't care how "hot" you might find Fergie or the
Pussycat Dolls. That doesn't excuse the garbage they release disguised as music. There is no such thing as subtlety anymore. Early rock music was dangerous because of what people thought might have been implied in the lyrics. Now everything is as blatant as possible, or in the case of something like Fergie's "London Bridge" it makes so little sense that you can do nothing but assume it's something filthy. Because everything else she sings is pure smut. And these are the "artists" being played to death on Top 40 radio.

I personally listen to plenty of music that gets slapped with the good old Parental Advisory sticker. But I consider myself a good parent, and I don't play that music in front of my daughter. I'm really careful as to what is played in the car when we are driving. I have no problem with her listening to whatever the Disney machine churns out. I feel pretty safe about that stuff. But I know she'll grow out of it, and that worries me. If we're at the point where "I Kissed A Girl" is the #1 song in the country... Ugh, I just can't even think about this any longer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Stop Being Stupid, Stupid

No matter how lame MTV and MTV2 (only ONE HOUR for Headbanger's Ball now?!) continue to get, I still find myself drawn to The Real World and those drama-filled extreme challenge shows the cast members end up on. It's the perfect thing to numb the mind before bed.

Without a token gay activist roommate, or one in need of some type of intervention, the drama between the kiddies is minimal this year in comparison to previous seasons. So the big blow-up for the week was the housemates bickering over which band(s) to film during SXSW as part of their "job" while in the house. Oooh!

Laci, the token too-punk-rock-for-this-crap hipster chick, is whining about how everyone else in the house is stereotypical and that they listen to stereotypical music. Hey, she just might have a point. At least I can understand what she is saying, and her dialogue doesn't have to be subtitled due to a thick regional accent. Danny, I'm laughing in your direction! But the comments she makes on camera about how real musicians don't want to make money is just childish high school scenester bullshit. Any "real musician" would love to make a career out of writing and playing music. That's the dream right there - to reach an audience who likes what you have to say, and not have to return home from tour to your mom's mildew-ridden basement. Careers allow us to make money and support ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with being a music snob. But if you're going to speak in front of a camera and potentially be seen and heard by millions of viewers, you should maybe think about how you want to represent yourself. Stick your nose up at manufactured boy bands or "artists" that lip sync. Stick your nose up at Top 40 radio stations that taint the airwaves with the same novelty sounds hour after hour.

Bands can't control their popularity. Do they deserve being deserted by their fans because they have to play bigger venues to support demand? I didn't stop buying Metallica's albums because they got too popular. I stopped buying their albums because they started writing pop songs instead of epic heavy metal. Shut up, stop being stupid, eat a sandwich, and go buy a CD so some real musicians can feed their kids.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Old Man Winter Retires from the Pit

We saw Me First and the Gimme Gimmes tonight at Irving Plaza. It was fun and I have no real complaints. The band reminds of the Rat Pack will all their jibber jabbering on stage I tried to dance during the early part of the show but I didn't have the patience or the energy. I also appeared to be surround my children. Granted I'm 28 but still...I think the moshing and skanking needs to come to an end. The last time I saw Helmet, I was nearly blinded in one eye. The last time I saw Life of Agony I was kicked in the balls twice and I threw my back out. Some dude clawed up my face during an Anthrax show, which I think was in 2004. I can't keep track anymore. Needless to say, tempting fate with crippling myself has gotten to be old hat. Clutch was fun on New Years but there aren't too many bands out there right now that I care about where I can dance the night away and not get clobbered.

I have a lot of memories from Iriving Plaza: Hearing Shelter play "We Can Work It Out"; Being knocked in a tight spiral and falling straight down on the wet and dirty floor during Slayer on the Undisputed Attitude tour; Getting to see Cracker, Lords of Acid and Concrete Blonde all in the same year; doing the Wall of Death/Braveheart during Lamb of God; all the moshpits where I wasn't defaced or manhandled but instead was able to dance and meet cool hardcore/metal head friends; meeting Mike or Frank or whatever his name was, the old dude who was at every show and became a show staple; Being able to see Korn and Sugar Ray when they were good and before they were too big; Hell even finding the place the first time when we used to walk from Penn Station to Union Square in the dead of winter because we were too poor for cabs and too scared/stupid to ride the Subway...and lord knows we weren't driving at that time.

I'll miss all the old NYC concert halls. I'll miss the Roseland and Irving Plaza. I'll even miss the Bowery Ballroom, though I didn't see too many shows there. I'm sure I'll see some shows while I'm in Miami. Apparently Ft. Lauderdale is the place for metal shows in that area. Maybe I'll be able to catch a show in Tampa when my parents move down there. It won't be the same because there really is no place like NY. That's OK. I''ll live.

NYHC DOWN FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I Spit On Your Grave


Conservative columnist William Grim (wgrim@myrealbox.com) wrote a piece entitled above, that essentially blames the recently murdered heavy metal guitarist Darrell a.k.a. “Dimebag” Abbott of causing his own death. He says that heavy metal itself is the culprit and had Abbott not created such wretched “music” then a “fan” wouldn’t have been moved to murder. But here’s Mr. Grim in his own words, “I cannot deny that there much in Mr. Abbott's demise of one being hoisted on one's petard. The squalor, inhumanity, filth (both in the metaphorical and hygienic senses), depravity, ugliness and ignorance of everything that heavy metal represents (Like rap, I cannot use the noble term music in a description of heavy metal) creates a mindset among its devotees in which Mr. Abbott's assassination was an event that was all but waiting to happen.”

As a matter of fairness, the line before the above statement was, “I in no way want to engage in a blaming the victim scenario.” I cannot see how he isn’t blaming the victim here but hey, he’s the writer of the piece and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The bulk of the piece revolves around trying to get good conservative folks to take back the arts in the name of all that is good and Godly in the world. For example, “Here is one area in which conservatives have failed and failed miserably. Whether it is out of a lack of interest or despair, conservatives for too long have ceded the entire field of aesthetics to the trust fund red babies of the blue states. And look at what this has brought us. So-called heavy metal music, so-called rap music, operas and stage plays in which modern "stagings" reduce Verdi and Shakespeare to the condition of a schizophrenic's finger paintings. Leftist domination in the visual arts has made a mockery of the aesthetic greatness of modernism and replaced it with the turd encased in Lucite. And the grammatically-challenged racist rantings of Amiri Baraka now pass for poetry.”

For someone attempting to paint himself as a thinker of the highest order, I’m left perplexed as to why he’s attacking a murder victim whom he’s never met. He’s also apparently never done a serious study of the origins of heavy metal, the psycho-dynamics of why it appeals to certain segment of the population (in the millions world-wide mind you) or the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in former soldiers returning from combat.

Nathan Gale didn’t kill Darrell Abbott because the devil or the rhythm made him do it. Nathan Gale was a former marine and apparently was in desperate need of therapy. Locals in his area of Ohio saw, “…his hulking, hooded figure walking quickly up and down Fifth Street several times a day, often dressed in the same outfit for days in a row.” (Credit VH1.com) That’s a clear sign of some degree of dementia, in my humble opinion.

The armed services are hiring licensed clinical social workers to work with former combat soldiers to properly reintegrate them back into society rather than just cutting them loose “Rambo style”. I don’t know what happened to Gale or how he left the marines but this sad incident, as well as his inexplicable behavior was a tragic cry for help. It was not an indictment of the lyrics and style of underground music.

I’ve been critical of liberals for resorting to name calling when logic failed them but Mr. Grim reminds us that conservatives are just as fallible in the childishness department. “He (Abbott) was an ignorant, barbaric, untalented possessor of a guitar and large amplifier system. Freakish in appearance, more simian than human, he was the performer of a type of "entertainment" that can be likened only to a gorilla on PCP. Lacking subtlety, wit, style, emotional range and anything approaching even the smallest iota of intellectual or musical interest, Mr. Abbott was part of a generation that has confused sputum with art and involuntary reflex actions with emotion.”

As Andrew Sullivan would say, you sir, get the Malkin award. I think it’s rather morbid and classless to insult the recently departed. Especially when you espouse the aesthetics of Bach and Beethoven. Mr. Grim would most likely be saddened to know that many musicians in heavy metal were inspired by classical music and some were in fact classically trained musicians. He would most likely be flabbergasted to know that black metal musicians such as Dimmu Borgir employ the use of a full orchestra when recording their albums. My how gauche!

Mr. Grim’s entire column sinks to depths of grave robbing in my opinion. He is using the occasion of a musician’s tragic murder to invoke the “Culture War” and promote elitism. He’s doing this in blind ignorance of the music he’s criticizing. I doubt Mr. Grim has ever spoken to a fan of heavy metal or has been to a concert. I would gather he’s never actually ever done any fieldwork and interviewed any metal musician to see if his hypothesis, that they’re all “simians,” is actually valid. That is what we academics like to call, “fallacious thinking”.

Maybe I’m giving him too much credit and he just likes to pick on kids and dead people from his computer in Germany where nobody can confront him. But then, I don’t know the man and I don’t want to be judgmental. That would be classless.

I am willing to make a deal with Mr. Grim however. If he can assure me that men and women across the globe will never bring children into the world they don’t want, then I will condemn heavy metal, the music I clung to in my formative years. If he can assure me that fathers across the globe will never abandon their children, then I will condemn heavy metal, the music I clung to in my formative years. If he can assure me that a mother will never again birth a child addicted to drugs, then I will condemn heavy metal, the music I clung to in my formative years. If he can assure me that every child in every part of the world will grow up in an environment free of crime, filth and disease, then I will condemn heavy metal, the music I clung to in my formative years. If he can assure me a child will never be molested or raped ever again, then I will condemn heavy metal, the music I clung to in my formative years. If he can invent a cure for alienation, then I will condemn heavy metal, the music I clung to in my formative years.

In the words of Socrates, “I only know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Mr. William Grim sir, you stand in good company.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dimebag Darrell is Dead

The link to the CNN article is on the title of the post but here is the horrible sum it all:

"COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- A gunman stormed the stage during a heavy metal concert in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday night, firing at the band and audience and killing four people before a police officer shot and killed him, police said.

One of the dead was guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, 38, of the band Damageplan. The gunman also wounded two people."

At this time the police don't have a motive for the killing. This appears to be a senseless violent act of an obviously sick man.

My condolences to all of the victim's families including the Abbott family.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Night The Metal Community Called In Sick

Shadows Fall w/ Damage Plan & The Haunted
Irving Plaza, NYC 11/29/04

I have been to plenty of metal shows in my time, and certainly many took place at Irving Plaza. The place has a capacity of about 1,500 I believe, but it's odd though how small the place looks when you can see most of the floor. Sure, plenty of folks show up late to shows for various reasons. Some closed minded individuals would rather kill time at the corner bar so as not to be exposed to something different, AKA the opening band(s). Some have to work late. And some are just slackers who can't get themselves into gear to get anywhere on time. So keeping all that in mind, I kept waiting for the club to fill up. But it never did.

In an unexpected twist, a night at Irving Plaza, AKA Old Reliable, actually started before 9PM. Thanks to this, I and my comrade Markkind missed the beginning of The Haunted's set. I was fairly disappointed since I've never seen them and have been a fan for over four years. In this time I've come to learn that if a European band you enjoy is actually able to get into the country to tour, you better go. Cuz you never know when a band member will get linked to a murder, and in turn prevent the band from touring outside Europe.

Anyhow, The Haunted are still fighting to build their audience in the States. This was apparent by the lack of interest displayed by a good portion of the crowd while they were playing. I just don't understand folks sometimes. If your motivation to buy a ticket was to see Shadows Fall, I can't imagine that you'd be so put off by The Haunted. If you were there for Damage Plan, then I understand your issues. I was certainly entertained by their fine thrash metal offerings. The singer struggled to get the audience to throw up their "horns". That shouldn't be a tough request to fill people. It's not like he was expecting everyone to throw up Westside gang symbols. Now that could be asking a bit much.

When you throw a band like Damage Plan (half of Pantera) on a bill, you're going to attract a lot of knuckleheads still clinging to the old days (only 10-15 years ago) of Pantera as if that great band never inspired any of today's young bands. It's the same mentality I witnessed at Ozzfest where the "old school" guys are either too thick headed, or too drunk, to connect the dots between Black Sabbath and Dimmu Borgir.

Seeing Damage Plan live proved what was only hinted at on the CD. They are a band consisting of two talented musicians carrying too much dead weight to balance things out. The songs are boring with lyrics on the level of a local neighborhood bar band made up of ex-high school football players. Their plethora of swag displayed some hot quotes (probably stolen from Beavis & Butthead), one of which was "It's All About Blowin' Shit Up". Am I the only one who notices that there are three syllables in both Damage Plan and Taliban?

The singer for Damage Plan wants to be Phil Anselmo so bad he can taste it. He's got the macho posturing, shaved head, and forehead vein-popping growls down to a science. He's even mastered the art of running off at the mouth between songs, something that has gotten worse with every Phil Anselmo-fronted band show I've seen. Markkind and I have come to the conclusion that this can all be tied to Dimebag Darrell... and his Beard Of Doom.

We've decided that this Beard Of Doom emits an airborn virus that, with repeated exposure, causes the lead singer of the band to utter complete nonsense instead of singing and giving the fans what they paid for. So much time is wasted, and so much fan anger builds up... but wait! Here comes the guitar player to get the crowd back in line with some hot licks. It's all one big sinister plot, I tell you what.

The only thing that saved Damage Plan's set was the inclusion of two Pantera tunes, which certainly woke the place up. It was the first, and only time that night where the floor was whipped into a real giant moshing frenzy. After they left the stage, much of the "old school" crowd left the building. I had no problem with that, more room to breathe.

I did think of what it would look like to the guys in Shadows Fall when they took the stage though. The place was half empty, or worse! It was just sad. Where were all the loyal metalheads that filled up Irving Plaza almost exactly one year ago the last time I saw SF headline the joint? Was it because the band just played a headlining show in NYC within the last two months? Was it because it was a school night? Was it the inclusion of a more mainstream band like Damage Plan on the bill? All I know is, I was half expecting the singer to walk out on stage, look around at the half empty club, put down the mic, drop his pants, take a dump on the monitor, pick his pants and the mic back up, and say "Good night everybody!"

Instead, the band came out and played as tight as ever amidst a series of technical problems that had to be dealt with between each song for a while. Then again, they did bring up the fact that their Boston Red Sox embarrassed "our" NY Yankees recently. That seemed to get a few goats, and more than one sheep. I was most pleased with the inclusion of the title track from Of One Blood, the album that sold me on Shadows Fall over four years ago. The delays seemed to force the set to be shortened, which is odd because I've been to a few shows at Irving Plaza that went to 1 AM. They barely played more than either of the two openers.

All in all, Shadows Fall are one of the best American metal bands out there today. They are not to be missed. They never disappoint me anyway. Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell, I'm sorry Pantera is over and done with. You're not fooling enough people to carry on with the nonsense that is Damage Plan for much longer. And you crazy Swedes in The Haunted, please keep your noses clean between now and the spring when you promised you'd be back to tour the States. Don't let me read about any criminal shenanigans!