Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If I have my nose turned in the air...

...it's only because I'd rather not look you in the eye.

As the Staten Island Advance has seen fit to remind me, I'm have sometimes described myself as a snob when it comes to the rock stuff. Of course, I've been called a snob many times before I started calling myself one. The first instance was probably during my teen years when a classmate vehemently called me a snob for saying that Unrest was better than Pennywise. (I'm not sure if history has proven me right on that one.) It's happened recently as well. The editor of A New Nuance chided me as a snob for not particularly looking forward to the second Arcade Fire record and saying that I found Clap Your Hands Say Yeah as "dull as dishwater." (In case you don't remember, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was a band briefly popular in 2005.)

Using the historically tested method in identity politics of turning a negative into a positive, I decided to adopt the word for myself thus negating its derogatory power. (i.e. "Snob" is my N-word.)

What's fascinating to me is how well it's worked. Almost too well. When people call me a snob, it's a pejorative. When I call my self one, I'm self-aggrandizing even if I mean it in a tongue in cheek, self-effacing way.

When I tell a friend I don't enjoy a particular artist he or she likes, I'll follow it up with "But I'm snob, so, you know..." I don't mean this to imply that I have better taste than anyone else and can't be bothered with your inferior myopic nonsense. I mean that I have a huge personality defect that makes me very particular and judgmental about music generally made with guitars so heed not and listen to what you like.

A similar point was made in this week's Popless column over at the Onion AV Club. Noel Murray writes:
It's odd how defensive people get when they mention certain bands or movies, like, "I know people will jump on me for this, but I really like Groundhog Day," or "I hate to admit it, but The Bee Gees have some good songs." There's an assumption being made, that the world at large has agreed that some things are meant to be taken seriously, while others are "guilty pleasures" (or just plain "suck").
(For the record, Groundhog Day is a great film and the Bee Gees have some outstanding songs, particularly on their first few albums. However, the band Murray mainly uses to illustrate his point in the introductory essay is Steely Dan, who are awful. But that's neither here nor there.)

I've often wondered the same thing. Why do people get so apologetic for liking Justin Timberlake or Amy Winehouse or even the Killers? They sell millions and millions of records! Tons of people like them! I'm the one who likes the wacky fringe shit! I should be apologizing for contemplating if if the Disco Zombies song "Drums Over London" is racist or simply sung in character. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that's exactly my point.)

For all these reasons I've decided that I need stop referring to myself as a "rock snob." (Also because the other "self-described music snob" in the AWE piece likes these guys thus proving the term totally ineffectual at conveying my personal taste.)

I may have to go on a little hiatus from this blog until I come up with a better term to describe what kind of music I cover here. (And not because I'm going to be really busy with work and other things for the next week or so). The best I can come up with so far is "dumb smart guy rock." Can you do any better? Please share.

Speaking of "dumb smart guy rock" I was lucky enough to catch Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps at Brooklyn's favorite illegal performance space/sauna on Sunday night. So good were they, I briefly forgot about the awful, stomach-turning events of that afternoon. Their respective 2008 releases, The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In and US EZ, are highly recommended.

Also highly recommended for those in the New York City area is the Tyvek/Thomas Function show at Cakeshop this Friday, October 3rd. This marks the first time that two of the bands from this blog's "Make This Band Your Myspace Friend" feature have played together in New York. (Especially noteworthy since I've only done the feature 4 times.) Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it as I'll be attending a wedding but don't let that stop you from going. In fact, you might have a better time without my presence. I can be a bit of a snob from what I hear.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Unblinking Ear Podcast: Awe Inspiring!

Okay maybe it's not that awe inspiring. Maybe I sound more like I just ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using bread that probably should have been thrown away like two weeks ago.

Anyone who wants to make me a home-cooked meal will get their band played on the next podcast. Despite others' claims of my integrity, I'm really not above a little quid pro quo.

Download The Unblinking Ear Podcast

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This Moment in Slack History: Morsels from the Last Great Era of the 7 Inch Record

"This Moment in Slack History" collects songs from 90s indie 7 inches. For further explanation, please see my original post here.

Space Dust "Cool Car"

Since we're already on the subject of brilliant music from New Zealand from yesterday's post, I thought I'd share with you this whirling dervish of psychedelia from Space Dust. I'm hard pressed to find concrete info on the band. I believe this 1994 7 inch (limited to 500 copies on the 18 Wheeler label) was their debut. It seems as though they released 3 full lengths and shared some members with another New Zealand outfit named Brother Love which was also the stage name of guitarist Martin Henderson. If anyone has any further info, don't hesitate to share it. No matter what their history, this slice of Kraut-rock informed dream pop (or it is dream pop informed Kraut-rock?) has long been a favorite in my household. And now hopefully in yours as well.

Download Space Dust "Cool Car"

Monday, September 22, 2008

File Under I Had No Idea There Was a Video for This Song

Can also be filed under "Brilliant Music from New Zealand" and "Bunnies."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You might also enjoy...

This week, the long-deleted curio of punk rock cinema Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains was released on DVD, the first time it's been available in any format since it's original theatrical run. I was lucky enough to catch it quite accidentally on late night cable many years ago and I can tell you without reservation that it contains some the best acting in the respective careers of both Diane Lane and Steve Jones. I took a look at it on Amazon and noticed something strange:

Now do you think that some are contemplating "I was thinking of getting this obscure punk rock film but instead I'm going to get this hack-y already forgotten thriller starring Al Pacino. I would just go to the theater to see Righteous Kill, Pacino's all new hack-y thriller, but I'm not really the type to leave the house?" I will admit, however, that I could see a correlation between admiring both scandalously clad punk girls and Tina Fey.

You may have noticed that it seems a lot of people bought Fabulous Stains along with Earrings of Madame de... Click on that film's Amazon page will tell you the 4% of those who viewed that item ultimately bought Road House, which is, unfortunately, not the Patrick Swayze movie.

(Ed. note- If anyone who wants to have a Fabulous Stains/Swayze-Road House double feature, please drop me a line.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Unblinking Ear Podcast: Don't Cross the Streams

Thanks to some good advice from a very nice fellow, I can now stream my podcasts right here on the blog, thus saving you, dear reader, the trouble of multiple clicks on your mouse and perhaps even carpal tunnel syndrome. I wouldn't recommend playing more than one simultaneously however. It may not result in all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't sound very good.

Download The Unblinking Ear Podcast

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm Not Sure If You Can Play This on Your iPhone

Link courtesy of J. Frontirré:

Admittedly, that might be a bit harsh but you really shouldn't be watching the love scene from Mulholland Drive on your way to work anyway.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Out-of-Print Digital Relics: Peter Laughner

As unlikely as it seems, vinyl is not the only sort after medium for rare music. An increasing number of CDs are falling out-of-print and fetching high prices on eBay and Amazon. Sure, you can probably find just about anything via Soulseek or some other file sharing service but I thought I'd make things easy for you.

Peter Laughner Take the Guitar Player for a Ride
Tim/Kerr Records put out this collection of unreleased material from Pere Ubu founder Peter Laughner back in 1994, 17 years after the guitarist's death. A seminal figure in the Cleveland proto-punk scene, Take the Guitar Player for a Ride consists mostly of demos Laughner recorded himself though there is some material from his various bands including the pre-Ubu/Dead Boys outfit Rocket From the Tombs as well as short-lived acts like Friction and the Finns. If your interest in piqued Handsome Productions has a lot of biographical material (including Lester Bangs' obituary) as well as many CDs for sale of concert and demo recordings from Laughner's career. (I can't speak for the sound quality on any of them though.) And of course, Pere Ubu's early recordings and the Rocket From The Tombs collection The Day the Earth Met Rocket from the Tombs are highly recommended.

Download Peter Laughner Take the Guitar Player for a Ride

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Grind Her Up (This has nothing to do with Sarah Palin)

Despite the inclusion of both the Vomit Pigs and Bobby Soxx in my punk rock podcast, you can really never have too much Texas punk rock can you?

You have to give the Uncalled 4 credit, not just for this Cramps-meets-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre ripper of a song and video but for having the foresight to defraud collectors scum years before eBay even existed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Unblinking Ear Podcast: Punk Rock Special!

(From my autobiographical comic about my difficult teen years.)

Here at last after weeks in the making (or more accurately weeks in contemplating and procrastinating, an hour or so in the making), it's the all punk rock edition of the Unblinking Ear Podcast. It's a small sampling of my favorite punk rock tunes from the late-70s and early-80s. Maybe some of your favorites are included as well! (Though probably not.)

Warning for the extremely sensitive: this podcast contains strong language, adult themes, barely competent musicianship and fidelity roughly the quality of a broken answering machine.

Download The Unblinking Ear Podcast