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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Another Halfassed Guide to Frasier, PART 1: Introduction

Television is a pretty awesome thing in my mind. Growing up as an only child in an older neighborhood(read: all the other kids on my block were in high school while I was starting elementary school in 1991... or was it 90?) in my small southern suburban town, our TV was kinda like the sibling/friend that wasn't there. You see, when I was very young, I got stung by this wasp at the wave pool in Nashville, and it was totally unprovoked, so I developed this totally irrational fear of bees and wasps. I mean, in my mind, these insects were malevolent enemies of man, and would kill me if i wasn't  careful. This meant not going outside too much and immediately returning to the safety of the house. Also at work was fear that cars would run me over(as they had done to my labrador puppy when I was three)  that drug pushers and street gangs lurked around every corner and would murder me if I wasn't careful. 

That last one was of course fed by all the TV I would watch while avoiding the bees in the declining neighborhood of 1930's homes and low rent shotgun houses a few blocks from downtown Murfreesboro and the downtown Murfreesboro housing project(please do not mistake this as me saying I am 'Hard' or 'From the Streets' as my folks beat a hasty retreat from the area when I was 4 and its not like I was witnessing drive bys, though I was always sure I would just taken out when I would take the trash out later in child hood), as I had been seeing probably unhealthy amounts Reagan era anti-drug propaganda on the. So what I'm trying to say is that me and TV and cinema are all tight bros from way back.

While most of my friends first memories of going to the movies are of late 1990 offerings(Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) my first trip to the movies was to see Ghostbusters II in 1989. This is a big deal because lets face it, when you're only 3 or 4, six months is a pretty big jump on your homies when it comes to movies. It meant I was watching The Little Mermaid in its first theater run while those suckers had to wait a whole year for the VHS to drop, and when they were watching in awe at their first sight of the silver screen at the Rocketeer, I already knew what was up. I have a pretty keen memory for the movies and TV I watched at this young age. Commercials, TV shows, a Bush press conference that was the first time my shows ever got preempted– all clear as yesterday. I also recall the moments leading up to my drinking a whole bottle of amoxicillin right down to the shuffle step I had to do to get it out of the fridge with out my mom seeing me. I don't recall the subsequent phonecall to poison control. 

That said, I remember first run episodes of Cheers, too. This was after we moved across town to the house I did the bulk of my growing up in. The house where my mom planted a garden that attracted more bees and led to me spending more time inside(I didn't hate being outside, I loved it. I just hated bees more. I eventually got the hell over it though!). Cheers was a show I watched with my dad. usually in the small bedroom in our new house that he had turned into an odd sort of office/room full of hunting/shooting/reloading gear. So at night, mom would be grading her student's papers in the living room and dad and I would sit in the big arm chair and the bean bag chair at his feet and watch Cheers. Or the Flash(for its one season, with Mark Hamill as The Trickster). Or The Simpsons until mom would yell at me for watching such things(except for The Flash. That one was ok for me to watch). My favorites were Norm and Cliff, likely because I got more of their goofy humor, like getting tattoos on their butts, but getting them swapped so Norm has Cliff's tattoo (an eagle with the words "god bless the US Postal Service) and vis versa. That's classic comedy right there. Totally unnoticed for the most part was one Dr. Frasier Crane. 

Fast forward to around 1994, and I began watching this show about a snobby Seattle radio show host and his equally snobby brother and their salt of the earth Dad. It never registered that this was a Cheers spin off to me, as i had forgotten Frasier's character totally. This was likely due to the fact that towards the end of Cheers, Frasier grew a beard (which I did recall: the smart beardy guy on Cheers) Over the next ten years, Frasier would become my favorite TV show. Dad and I would tune in to NBC every week (typically thursday night) and would watch the reruns on Fox.

Including watching it on TV as kid, I would say I've seen the whole series all the way through about three times. 

I wanted to watch the show a fourth time through, but i knew i needed something different to keep me engaged and thinking and to keep the show from getting stale. Perhapse I could write an episode guide? I put the idea on the back burner until at a thanksgiving party in 2013, an acquaintance and I were discussing 90s sitcoms which of course turned to Frasier. She'd never been a fan because she couldn't stand Frasier's character. While disussing this, the question came up about what exactly was Frasier's true character? Is it the face he puts on for the public he is constantly trying to impress and one up? Is it the crabby fuddyduddy with tinges of asshole-ism he displays to his family and inner circle, or was were those faces merely masks the real Frasier was putting up to hide his insecurities and failures? It was something I hadn't really thought much about myself.

This guide aims to help lead folks through the eleven season of the show. Its gonna try and do a lot. We'll look at some memorable quotes, count catch phases and tropes, talk about some behind the scenes stuff, and more. But the heart of this guide will be seeking to discover just who is the "real" Frasier Crane and what makes him tick. Moreover, why did so many of us come to love the "Loveably Pompous" Psychiatrist. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

So obviously there's not been much going on here lately(ever).

"What has been going on?" I hear you cry.

Well lots of things. First of all around the of my last post I began writing for a Nashville based web site called Sinizine. At that point my meager out put of music journalism was diverted full force into that venture. It was a pretty cool experience, actually. I got to do some cool interviews  got guest listed into some shows, was actually published, not by myself but by a man named Dave who actually had some faith in my skills. I also began to date a wonderful woman who also had faith in me and she became the focus of my attentions more and more. I actually wrote about her on my other blog, that may not be set to public anymore.

Two years later, the Sinizine crew are working to launch a new publication that will be a multimedia experience across several platforms and buzz words. This new venture is gonna be probably the major focus of my creative output for the foreseeable future, and really I should be working on that instead of typing this. Its called Roots and Relevance Quarterly (R/R) and we're working on the pilot issue now.

While R/R perhaps will be a venture that will bring me clout and some sort of future in music journalism, its also a real publication which while I have a fair bit of say in guiding its content at the moment, wont always be about the exact bands and music I love. This coupled with the fact that several months ago i set about digitizing my entire music library, I now have new reason to update here again, and one less excuse not to.

The first order of business will be to clean up this sites drafts folder. Of all the 38 posts I've written here, 13 haven't even been published or even finished. That said the write ups likely never will be because im a strong believer in the adage "you can't go home again" and so try and continue an incomplete thought from 3 years ago would be just a futile reminder of all my past failures. So instead ill try and write futile reminders of all my most recent failures.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Enough- 2010 Demo Cassette

Band: Enough
Year: 2010
Label: self released
Format: Cassette
2. Search Inside
3. Focus
4. Knock Me Down
5. Look Ahead
6. Step Back
7. Enough

Nashville Straight Edge band Enough didn't come out of nowhere in 2010; there was a lot of chatter about this band in the few months leading up to their first show on November 7. And it wasn't a little basement show either, in just two months, Enough have shared stages with Fire and Ice, Mother of Mercy, and Bitter End, the very happening hardcore bands. This is across a span of two shows at the time of writing. The first pressing of their demo tape sold out in a single evening, The second run of the tape has also sod out, and the 7" release of the demo has been sold out mostly in pre-orders, and Enough have already scored distribution in Europe. About the only thing harder to get than a hard copy of their demo is their t-shirts which sell out at every show they play.

So one would expect nothing but greatness from a band that is that in demand after playing only two shows right? Well that's just the thing—how great can a band rehashing 25 year old Youth Crew era hardcore be?

Perhaps to understand that, one has to know a bit about their home scene of Nashville, Tennessee, a scene populated by almost every possible brand of hardcore except Youth Crew revival. I was luckily able to snag their demo at the Love Is Red/Hollywood reunion show last month.

The first thing I noticed was that the tape's art work was a rip off of some old Token Entry art as opposed to the art on the first pressing, which while simple, was at least original. I'm also told the tape it self was better on the first pressing with its orange cover and blue tape. This tape was just a generic blank with hand written label.

Musically, everything here is run of the mill Youth Crew Revival fodder, with various songs about being stabbed in the back, unity, and general positivity. 5 of the 6 songs with lyrics involve opening your mind, or opening your eyes or some other allusion to sight. All are hook laden with gang vocal refrains every so often. The stand out track is the anthemic eponymous track 7 which is a youth crew song about bigotry and closes the tape nicely.

The musicianship and songwriting is solid, with all four members having come from other area bands, but no one strays far out of the youth crew mold on this record. Which is really the crux of the issue: no matter how good the band is, Enough still just a third or fourth generation clone of 80's New York hardcore.

While Enough is certainly doing the style justice, when compared to what is going on nationally in hardcore, they come across as just another drop in the bucket. Locally, however, they present a style that has been sorely absent in their home for quite some time. It is this scarcity in the face of a seeming insatiable demand that fuels the Enough machine. While there some detractors who are of the opinion that Enough are reaping an unfair amount of success for very little toil thus far, Enough's success is also a statement about the business side of hardcore. They have met a demand in the scene for a specific brand, and while perhaps not as experimental or artistically inclined as other bands, they have been rewarded for giving the kids what they want.

Free download link provided courtesy of Enough:

Facebook: EnoughXCrew

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Quest for Bob part 1: "magnum opus"

I throw around the term "Magnum Opus" a lot. As an aspiring music critic(i.e. This Hack's for Hire(oh look, a Toasters pun(and triple parenthetical clauses!) I tend to try and quantify where my favorites bands peaked and waned. With the Slackers, I must say some what emphatically, the Wasted Days album will probably turn out to be their best work, particularly when considered as a multimedia album, since the CD and LP are so startlingly different in scope and overall tone and focus, they form what is pretty much a two part release. Where the two platforms do overlap, the tracks are alternate version, possibly even alternate takes, but that requires research, which as a Hack, I have not the time for; gotta get those words to make that dollar-- hence appositives and parentheses and interjections. With the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, I think most would be hard pressed not see the band's fifth album, 1997's Lets Face it show cases what I think most fans would see as the confluence of their older, hardcore influenced sound, with the pop sensibilities of their later records. I say most, because I personally think Question the Answers Captures them at the critical point just prior to their pop success, and showcases what for me, the band was all about before said mainstream breakthrough, yet let it be known, that Lets Face It is probably one of the best rock albums of the 90's. I will fight you over this a-la "Beat It" music video.

I feel that with certain artists and genres I can critically look at their work and make such qualitative judgments with a fair amount of accuracy. I begin to have some trouble with older artists, as I can not evaluate them in the context of their time, or have not heard enough of their catalog to pin down an actual peak. Boston(S/T) is an exception, and perhaps so are the Velvet Underground (White Light/White Heat), The Who(Who's Next(that one hurts to say it), and maybe, if I want to step on some toes, The Beatles(Rubber Soul). But one artist who i don't even know where to begin with is Bob Dylan. Normally, i would just poll my friends who like Dylan and ask what they would pick as his best album ever, but i know that would be an exercise in futility. This one likes the Nashville Skyline era Dylan, soandso like the early electric stuff, and guy tree, doesn't really know much about Dylan or even music it turns our, and was just rocking what ever Rolling Stone had told him to.

Granted, much of my own curiosity about Mr. Dylan's music is fueled by his receivers throne in the Great Hall of Rock Journalist Fellators(along with John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, and others). Not to say that such seats aren't warranted to many artists, but i just refuse, as Lester Bangs refused before me, to buy into that every artist can maintain a consistent greatness for twenty to thirty years. It just doesn't work like that. Because it doesn't work like that, it means that some point Bob Dylan peaked, and perhaps he pealed again a while later. Further more, when we compare folk Dylan talking about the times and how they are a changin' and answers blowin' in the wind to the one strung out in Mobile, Alabama or contemplating Tombstone, Arizona and talking about ladies laying across his big brass bed or what ever he's turned out in the last year, you now have a series of eras to compare. 

I must say that I am not attempting to deride Dylan, but it has always seemed to me that artists with careers as long as his have lot of shit covering the diamonds in their catalog. Now one could just take those stones handed to him by others in the form of bits from sound tracks, compilations, etc. We all know that "Blowing in the Wind" and "The Times They are a Changing" are American classics, and that Hurricane was a land mark hit of the 70's and so on. But at some point, curiosity means that one has to put on the haz-mat suit a-la Bill Murray in Caddy Shack and go into the tainted pool to retrieve the proverbial gem(or candy bar, as was the case in Caddy Shack).

Its time to suit up...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Resonance: Rock and Roll Radio is dead; long live Rock and Roll Radio

 DISCLAIMER: This entry was composed over about 4-6 months and at least 5 writing sessions. I don't know what its about anymore, what it was about in the beginning, and it will probably be revised in the future until I'm happy with it.

Everyone has those songs that reach into their chest and squeeze their heart. Some even can pull it out and have it catch fire a la Temple of Doom. I've done nothing this week but listen to those songs.
I guess I'll start with "Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio" by The Ramones. Joe Queer sums up this song for me:

I talked to Joey about it, and that song, “Do You Remember Rock ’n’ Roll Radio?,” (sings)  “Do you remember lying in bed, with the covers pulled above your head?” And I said to Joey, "I couldn’t believe you wrote that line.” And he just laughed and asked why, and I said I thought I was the only one who ever did that. 

The idea of listening to the transistor radio until you fall asleep seems to be a sort of archetype in this country. I used to tune my clock radio into into the Oldies station when i was little, or sometimes into one of the myriad country stations. When I was in middle school and early high school, I began tuning into Beth "Damn" Donahue on 102.9 WBUZ at night, and listening until Valery came on to do overnights, at which point I began to fall asleep. Not too many years later, i got turned on to college radio and my mind was blown. Goal No.1 from then on was to get on that talk'ity box. Which I successfully have done. I'm sorry-- BACK TO THE RAMONES and Rock n Roll Radio

I never listened to the 80's Ramones stuff until I heard "Danny Says" and at the risk of an Interweb shitstorm(HAHA! no one reads this blog!), End of the Century became one of my favorite Ramones Albums. That and Leave Home. All the songs on End of the Century just speak to me. And Phil Spector's wall of sound is a nice change of pace. I love songs about the radio, particularly ones about making it relevant again. Down by Law's "Nothing Good on the Radio" still kicks ass and rings true today, in spite of being some how more dated than the former song that came out like 15 to 20 years prior. 

Rock n Roll Radio hearkens back to an era that, as a college radio DJ, I wish i could be a part of. I'm the sort of guy who gets chills during the scene with Wolfman Jack in American Graffiti 

Now, I personally substitute Wolfman for Murray the K, because I thought The K sucked up too much to the Beatles. Not to malign the man, but I just wasn't impressed with that sort of thing. Anyway, the point is that radio, which for me is a treasured medium, is in its death throws as far as having any real cultural relevance. To illustrate, even NPR news corespondent Mara Liasson also moonlights on Fox News to pay the bills.

As I look to start a career in radio, I begin to notice that there is little place for the things I want to do. Gone are the days of a few DJs breaking new artists by taking a chance on a debut single that had come in the mail. Now the new stuff that breaks on most commercial radio stations is what has been sent down from the ivory towers in New York, L.A., and --in my neck of the woods-- Nashville. I am sure that to a point, it has always been this way, but with so many stations turning to syndication, automated systems(particularly Variety Hits formats), which require no DJs at all, and remove most of the slight programming input DJs and listeners ever had.

I personally feel this has killed radio. Many of my reasons are summed up in this Wolfman Jack interview from 1995:

While I some what wonder about the validity of The Wolfman's notions of computers using advanced algorithms to select the hits, its not far from the Truth(with a capital T, to underscore the subjective nature of this truth) that much of our modern hit parade has been completely mechanized. The thing is, while I can remember scores of chart topping artists since the mid 90's, I can recall very few of those hits and much of them don't really seem to evoke much emotional response from me. Bare in mind that I am referring to top 40 pop hits, as opposed to say some of the very iconic rock songs from that time. Furthermore, many of these songs I remember seem to have faded from the cultural memory around me. You don't still hear Pennywise's "Fuck Authority"(peaked at 38 on the Modern Rock Tracks) in most markets. Likewise with most Green Day songs released after 1997 and before 2004(and even the singles from American Idiot have all but disappeared from most airwaves)

Granted top 40 was never about playing songs that were popular, but will I turn on my radio in 25 years to an oldies station and think "Ah, I remember the last time I ever kissed my first girlfriend before she went back to Tokyo, this song was on the radio" when I hear 311's "Amber". Probably not... when was the last time you heard a 311 song other than "Down"? And then only during a 90's weekend on the Modern "Bro(read: Cock)" Rock stations.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Catalyst #1: Descendents

I can't recall the exact circumstances now, but in a sad and pathetic twist of fate, Descendents songs have served as the catalysts for a number of my troubles with my now estranged ex-girlfriend(this includes some ALL songs, too)

This thought occurred to me this morning, but I couldn't remember what the first song that made me ask susan a question the next day that was answered with a long pause and followed by the words "Thomas. . .  Fuck! I'm not doing this anymore."

You would think that that song would have stuck in my head like glue, but it didn't and now, I'm going to figure out what song it was. A lot of people suggested "Clean Sheets", but I'm about positive that wasn't the song. that song was September's theme. That may be my next post.

For what ever reason, I suspect it was "Good Good Things". More tomorrow. I have a lot of Descendent's albums to listen to

Friday, January 1, 2010


Was god awful for me. Fuck 2009. What's more, it infuriates me when I say "I'm so glad to have this year behind me, and am ready to start a new chapter in my life." only for the schmuck I'm talking to to say "Man I LOOOOOVED 2009, it was great. What are you talking about?"

Well, lets go with music for a start(since this IS a music blog) My favorite records that came out this year were by and large, hardcore records and maybe one ska album, and one pop-punk albums. When you think of the heyday for the latter two genres in America, both were incredibly popular in the 90's, when we weren't stuck in a country that has never been conquered by an occupying force, when there was a bull market, and our president was banging all the fine(and not so fine) ladies. Now we have a disappointment of a president, a public so polarized, i see no hope for reconcilement or bipartisanship, the economy still teeters on the brink of collapse, and life generally sucks. Lots to be angry about these days, and I feel hardcore thrives in that kind of climate

So what are my 2009 picks?

Dolcim - Guillotine Rides
Screamo has really gotten interesting in the last few years. Its gone from the Jerome's Dream and In/Humanity stuff to these big epic songs full of crescendos, and honestly, its pretty amazing and I love it. Dolcim play Envy style screamo, and the hints of their Cease Upon the Capitol heritage are also evident from time to time. Honestly, these guys will probably on 2010's list when the new album drops. heard some demos, and discussed the ideas fueling the new record and damn... it's gonna rock.

Coke Bust - Lines in the Sand
Best straight edge hardcore album of the year. These guys have gotten all kinds of good reviews, and its because they're keeping it real, and not totally aping the whole Ceremony/Black Flag thing that's big now, and they aren't trying to sound like Have Heart and Bane, which while I love all those bands except have heart, its nice to see some bands not trying to sound like them for once. Think Youth Crew and Noisy Hardcore crossover. Keep watching these guys

Aggrolites - IV
The best ska album of the year. Traditional ska/rocksteady played with soul, but not like soul(unlike every traditional ska band at the moment) The Soul/Ska fussion stuff is getting played outm but these guys go back to basics.

Moutheater- Ornament
Melvins style grunge. Pretty evil and proves that not all modern grunge has lost its teeth and power.

Lion Of Judah- Number-rology
LoJ are back with this 3 song EP. All more post hardcore than the Universal Peace album. This one leans very much on the Dischord sound of the mid-late 80's.

Give- Self Titled
These guys came outta no where. Post hardcore ala early 90's Fugazi with some southern rock tossed in for good measure. These guys play one of the best live shows I've seen. Thrashing around, wailing on guitars so they have to be retuned every other songs. Thought that kind of sloppiness coupled with somehow tight and in control musicianship died in the 90's

Rouge Nations- Be Your Own Rouge Nation
These guys play straight ahead punk rock ala TSOL, Dead Kennedy's and such like. Smart lyrics, too

A Place to Burry Strangers- Exploding Head
If Devo and Black Reble Motorcycle Club made hot monkey love, this would would be their hot monkey love child.

Teenage Bottle Rocket - They Came From the Shadows
Pop Punk heavyweights return with a new album that got a little too Fat Wreck-ish at times. Still solid and about the only really good pop-punk album to drop this year, IMO.

La Roux - S/T
These synth pop newcomers are making some waves in that scene. Totally chanels the best of 80's synthpop

Cursive- Mama, I'm Swollen
Cursive returns to a sound and concept more reminiscent of Domestica

Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans
I say these guys are the kings of modern noise rock in the vein of Flipper or Jesus Lizard
As We Let Go- Above the Clouds
Japanese Hardcore. Think more like Champion or Bane and less like Gauze or Gizm

Brainwreck - Power On
Out of all the noisy hardcore bands that have cropped up in Nashville, these fellows are the best.

In Defence - Into the Sewer
Party thrash inspired hardcore from the twin cities. Lighthearted, but know when to get serious

STAPH - Keys
Emo. Real emo. 90's ish stuff with a lot better production.

Nationale- 2 song demo tape
90's emo sylings with a female singer. RIP
Trenchfoot- Not Smiling tour cassette
Pop punk not unlike a really simplified and less depressed Off With Their Heads
Cannomen- Demo Vol. 2
Garage inspired Hardcore Punk hearkening back to 80's stuff.
Leach - demo CDr
Nashville Hardcore vetrans playing Weezer style power pop
Guide - demo CD-r
Murfreesboro TN hardcore with some Youth Crew vibes.

That's the list. I don't think I have to justify these. they're all amazing. I make these lists by basically sitting and writing the first things that come to mind. I figure if I remember them when I think about stuff I liked, they must be the best I heard that year. I also only put stuff I've actually listened to on the list. I know there are lots of other great records that dropped this year, but i didn't hear 'em. I own some I know would be on the list and I haven't played them yet.