"The Bear's Den" Tribute: No Use for a Name

It was announced this past Wednesday that Tony Sly, the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the band No Use For A Name died suddenly (cause still undetermined). He was 41.

In 2005 KXSC DJ Barry Levine interviewed Tony at the Warped Tour. This coming Monday, August 6, Barry will re-run the interview, originally aired October 25, 2005, on The Bear's Den as a tribute to him.

Tune in this coming Monday from 6-8pm to The Bear's Den to celebrate the life of this unique voice of California punk rock.

Stephen Hawking speaks at USC

03-10-2009 World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking delivered a lecture at Bovard Auditorium on Tuesday March 10th entitled, "Out of a Black Hole." Dr. Hawking questions the vacuousness of black holes, describing how things can get out of a black hole to the outside and possibly on to another universe. Dr. Hawking is a theoretical physicist & the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He is also author of the best-selling "A Brief History of Time," (1988), which describes black holes, the big bang & superstring theory. An accompanying article of the event in USC's Daily Trojan can be found here
Photography Credit: Taylor Foust


This has been pent up for a while but I have finally gotten up to the point where I have to put it out there.  Stevie Wonder is the man and everyone should know this!!  if you haven't heard his album Songs in the Key of Life it is definitely something that everyone needs to pick up and listen to!  There are too many good tracks on the album to count and each one is imaginative and creative in its own right.  It took him nearly three years to finish this massive double album ( an extra ep had to be included in the original pressing to fit all the songs on) it was definitely worth the time in the studio.  There are so many good tracks on the album but one of my favorites is a song called "Pastime Paradise".  Many of you may have heard a sample from this song in both Coolio's "Gansta's Paradise" and Weird Al's "Amish Paradise (I still like Weird Al's version better, thats right I said it), but here is the original which I think is definitely Wonder-Full(terrible pun but what do you expect?  its midnight).  Anyways take a listen.  

Elefante Gigante

In the past decade the record label Elephant Six has turned out some really great bands, but the odds are you've probably never heard of them.  If thats the case let me fill you in on some history.  Begun in 1993 by Robert Schneider, William Cullen Hart, Bill Doss, and Jeff Mangum it was only active until 2002 but in that small amount of time signed dozens of bands.  Some notable bands from the Label were/are Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Olivia Tremor Control, Of Montreal, Beulah, Circulatory System, The Sunshine Fix, Elf Power and many other notable side projects and off shoots.  These bands all had held the idea that they whould bring back music from the sixties and, to verying degrees, each band attempted to do so before either moving on or breaking up.  If you haven't already heard some of these bands here is your chance to hear some of my favorite songs by some of these artists. Enjoy! Apples in Stereo   Neutral Milk Hotel   Olivia Tremor Control   Of Montreal   Beulah   In case you enjoyed some of those videos you will be pleased to know that the Apples in Stereo (one of the founding bands of the label) brought back the Label in 2007. Elephant Six is back in business! Woot Woot.

Grrr...izzly Bear!

So this week has been a busy one.  I started my new job, had a midterm and needed to schedule a dentist appointment for my wisdom teeth to be removed, so its needless to say I haven't had much time to blog.  However I have had some time to check out some good new music.  My friend introduced to a song called "Knife" by the Brooklyn band "Grizzly Bear" and I have to say it is a song to behold.  Very ethereal and moody complete with haunting moans and crisp soft guitar in the background.  It sounds kinda like Radiohead "Kid A" but a little more poppy.  Heres the video for the song which has an extra dose of creepiness to it, which makes it even cooler. Enjoy.   p.s. Don't set your toaster oven to "dark" to make pop tarts.

Best of 07': Part Two

Here's the second half of my top 10 favorite albums of 2007... 5. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam I think I've listened to "For Reverend Green" more than any other song this year. It's wonderfully grainy, and the vocals display Animal Collective at the top of their game. Technically, the singing is rather poor; but it manages to be raw and feral with childlike sincerity and spirit, and I just feel that life-affirming tingle when I hear the singer's ferociously cathartic screams. And this is just one song I'm talking about; many critics have cited the opener, "Peacebone," or Strawberry Jam's centerpiece "Fireworks," as the song of the year. The album may seem like group's usual sound, but is that really an issue when that sound gets better with every release? After listening to Strawberry Jam, the handle "Animal Collective" seems quite apt for such mastery of that balance between the savage and civilized. I'll be looking forward to their next LP. 4. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime Minimalism seems like such a compositional cop-out. One of the difficult things about composing/songwriting is linking together ideas in a manner that sounds effortless, coherent, and intelligent. That's what's meant when something sounds "inspired." There's not much of a challenge if all you need to do is cook up a musical nugget that can be drawn out for several minutes. That's why minimalism is often boring. But Swedish artist Axel Willner, with the stage name "The Field," manages to avoid this pitfall with From Here We Go Sublime, a work of techno-minimalist glacial goodness. Every idea he dreams up does not warrant a change. They're strong enough to stand alone for quite a while. And not only does Willner seem to know this, but he's mastered the right timing for the shifts when they do come. They're subtle, with just enough wit to keep your interest, not only in the development but with their respective foundations. The music isn't immediately gripping, but it's certainly not boring. For lack of a better word, it's just...chill, and this is how The Field avoids both saturating the listener with too much of a good thing, and diluting itself with time and repetition. Extrapolating this over ten tracks, it's no surprise that this is one of 2007's most consistent albums. 3. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala For some reason, Jens Lekman always feels like a guilty pleasure. There's that crooning baritone, the lush orchestral samples, and the occasionally cringe-worthy lyrics of a hopeless romantic. Blend them together and you get a plate of concentrated cheesecake. And like an image conscious teenage girl ("this will go straight to my thighs!"), you know it tastes great, but after consumption comes regret. On opener, "And I Remember Every Kiss," Lekman sings "You get a gun and you name it after a girlfriend" as the strings soar to the heavens, and I think "pff, what the hell does that mean???" But I love it. Somehow, Mr. Lekman manages to make all the drawbacks of his music, paradoxically, not drawbacks at all. It's delightfully cheesy, and has a very classic feel. Lekman's previous release, Oh You're So Silent Jens, had some great tracks, but a lot of filler; the 17-track compilation easily could've done with 7 or so less. But there is not a poor moment on Night Falls 12 songs. During the course of this semester I must've played at least half of them during my DJ shift, and many of those more than once (especially "Shirin"). There's plenty of cheesecake to go around. 2. Radiohead - In Rainbows Okay, okay, I know that every music critic ever is on Radiohead's nuts. And I know In Rainbows is one of their weaker releases...but we're talking about, arguably, one of the world's greatest bands. "Mediocre" for Radiohead is still quite good, and relative to everything else, this is one of 2007's best. One of my friends mentioned that their choose-your-own-price marketing revolution may have distracted people from the quality of the music itself. I think he meant this in a bad way, but I think of it as a challenge. When you buy something, you almost feel pressured to test your product, to scrutinize it and decide if you got your money's worth. When something is potentially free, any notion of exchange has vanished. You don't feel the need to justify your investment. In Rainbows must not only deal with this, but it must grab the listener from the your-price-tag novelty and say "Yeah, it's cool but I'm worth noticing, too." And I think it meets this challenge. Opener "15 Steps" is nothing special at first, but as soon as York sings "One by one....," it hooked me immediately. Many of the songs follow the same trend; they don't immediately catch your ear, but they all have at least one climax, that "moment," that you'll want to hear over and over. The middle of Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, and the last minute of "Jigsaw Falling Into Place," in particular, come to mind. It's been said that Radiohead has more or less "played it safe" this time. Compared to Kid A, In Rainbows is not exactly artistically courageous. But in addition to the aforementioned trend, there are a couple things I've noticed in the songs that make this LP distinctive in its own right. For one, there's a much greater focus on rhythm. In the past, I've heard people accuse Radiohead of having little of it, and they're right. Save a few songs, there's not much on their past six albums you can tap your foot to. But In Rainbows has much more pulse. Not only does this become obvious on the opening two tracks, but even the slower tracks (i.e. Nude, All I Need) have a prominent cadence. Furthermore, melody is subdued for a greater focus on mood. The songs here don't have a sing-along quality; in fact it's difficult to recall the vocal melodies. While Yorke still sings, he steps down from center stage to blend as an instrument with the rest of the band, allowing an atmosphere to envelope the listener. This effect is enhanced by thicker textures. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, for example, is probably their most polyphonic song to date, and there's a surprising amount of strings in the latter half of the album. None of these changes are bad things; they're just different. What's interesting is that the third track, "Nude," is nearly a decade old. Radiohead have played that song live since the OK Computer era, when it was also known as "Big Ideas." And it doesn't sound out of place at all. To be fair, they've changed the song a lot since then, but I think that's a testament to both the brilliance of music and Radiohead's creative skill; the song has been vastly modified stylistically to fit the overall delivery of the album, but it has still maintained it's compositional core. I confess I do like the older version better, but it's still intriguing to think how something can sound so familiar and yet so alien. And that's kind of how In Rainbows is. It's a more accessible Radiohead, but it's certainly not a throwback; they've still got some tricks up their sleeves. 1. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters I don't get people. This album got solid reviews during it's release (8.6 from Pitchfork, 4/5 from AllMusic, B+ from Stylus), and I haven't seen it on any of the end-of-year lists I've read. Does the album not age well? Are they too Scottish? Or am I just retarded? Anyway...despite my frustration, I think The Twilight Sad are the best new artist of the year, with the best album of the year. They've created their own sound with shoegaze and folk, weaved with pent-up frustration and the vast, beautiful night sky. Their instrumentation, with the shimmering guitars and yearning accordion on "That Summer, at Home I had Become the Invisible Boy," is demonstrably gorgeous. The song titles are long-winded, but it's clear The Twilight Sad wants to evoke visceral images, for they execute it remarkably for such a young band. On "Last Year's Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard," not only does the music sound like rain, but downright oppressive rain, beating down the vocals, which can only emerge cross-faded in the isolated distance. Like the band name itself, everything on Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters is melancholic but radiant, executed with both grace and aggression, capturing the emotional range of anyone who's...well, human. "Mapped By What Surrounded Them" and " I'm Taking the Train Home" pack a one-two punch as the album's zenith, but there's not a bad song on here. One of my few complaints, however, is that the album is only 9 tracks long. And I know The Twilight Sad has more to offer. Their 5-track, eponymous 2006 EP contains two songs that were not included on Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, which is a shame because they're both phenomenal. If you like Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, be sure to get those two songs. Ironically, the lyrical content primarily revolves around the troubles of being a kid and growing up. But this isn't anything I relate to at all; my childhood kicked ass. But then again, I didn't grow up in a broken home, which I would assume is a primary conflict in this album (just look at the cover art). So obviously, the reason I love this album is not because it resonates with me thematically. The music is stunning enough in its own right. So maybe those who can relate will like The Twilight Sad even more.....or maybe not if it hits too close to home. I say you take the risk. This one should not be overlooked.

My '07 Top Ten (Part 1)

Counting down from ten, here are the first five of my ten favorite albums from 2007. Rankings are always difficult after the top five, so the following feel a bit indefinite to me...but I tried: 10. Burial - Untrue I've just started listening to this, so there's not much I know about dub-step artist Burial. But with an impressive net score of 91 on metacritic.com, and a good first impression, I feel Untrue deserves to be included on this list. By just the artist, album, and cover art, you have an idea of what it sounds like. It's a bit like Massive Attack, but with the eerie darkness of Black Heart Procession and a hint of that Daft Punk flair (some tracks more than others). Untrue evokes a range of enigmatic moods that warrants repeated listens. 9. Robert Gomez - Brand New Towns Upon hearing Robert Gomez, the Elliott Smith influence is immediately obvious. While it's possible he may just have the unfortunate circumstance of having an eerily similar voice, Gomez is by no means a rip-off artist. While the songs have the beautifully vulnerable, melancholic feel and whispered vocals of Elliott Smith, all the ideas on Brand New Towns sound compositionally fresh. One never feels he's trying to fill the loss of Smith with himself. His music's more of a tribute than an ape-ing, for he creates his own agency. The songs have a bit more harmonic daring, and some are actually optimistic! Gomez is clearly talented, for Brand New Towns is remarkably consistent. There's nothing drastically innovative going on here in terms of style/genre, but Brand New Towns is a songwriter doing what he does best, and that's good enough for me. 8. Frog Eyes- Tears of the Valedictorian Frog Eyes is hit or miss for a lot of people. With their penchant for manic vocals, volatile harmonic movement, and raucous instrumentation, many find them difficult to listen to. Frog Eyes offers no relief for such individuals, as they continue to explode with unruly charm on Tears of the Valedictorian, which becomes obvious from the start on the ironically titled opener, "Idle Songs." What intrigues me about Frog Eyes is how they manage to create such brilliant, inspired motifs and lace them within a circus-like maelstrom of sound. It sounds spontaneous yet preconceived, primal but cultivated. It's intoxicating, and they champion this approach with "Caravan Breakers, They Prey On the Weak On the Old," one of my favorite songs of the year. While the album could be described as "more of the same," one does notice that many of the tracks are longer than usual. Whereas 8 of the 13 tracks on 2004's The Folded Palm were under 2.5 minutes, the 9 tracks of Tears of the Valedictorian run for an average of about 4 minutes. They feel more like movements then songs, as seemingly unrelated ideas are connected within the same song. That said, the style still sounds very Frog Eyes, but there are few bands out there pulling off songs of jarring grace so well. 7. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin It would seem that the positive response of Band of Horses' debut album, Everything All the Time, gave them the confidence to polish their craft, for Cease to Begin sounds more cohesive and mature. While the debut album had plenty of engaging themes, they were undermined by mediocre song structure. They would be approached too quickly, left undeveloped, or overshadowed by too much other, less interesting material. But on Cease to Begin, the core delight of the songs are carried through their entirety; you love them from start to finish. The best examples of this are the phenomenal "Island on the Coast" and "Cigarettes Wedding Bands." Cease to Begin has some down-tempo numbers, and while they are warm and professional, I would say they are the album's weakness, as they damage its consistency. Nevertheless, the album's highlights more than outweigh its setbacks. This album was surprisingly good, and I feel like an eye should be kept on Band of Horses' future output. 6. The Tough Alliance - A New Chance Another pleasant surprise from Sweden. The Tough Alliance sounds like Röyksopp and Junior Boys teaming up with Jim Henson. It's primarily vocals and synths/electronics, all wrapped in tangible fun. It's frisky, giddy, and high-spirited, but it avoids drowning you in sunshine and the obnoxiously saccharine, cloying nature of twee-pop groups like The Polyphonic Spree (sorry TPS fans) with variations in ambience and mood. "Miami," for example, is in minor, but still creates an energizing texture. Just listen to "Something Special," "First Class Riot," or "The Last Dance," they should put a smile on anyone's face.

Listen to Friends of Dean Martinez!

Anyone who's from Arizona, like myself, will most likely have the following reaction when they hear anything about Tucson: "Booooring...." Normally I would agree. Is there really more to Tucson than U of A? And yet, this listless city is the birthplace of one of the most underrated post-rock groups I know of, Friends of Dean Martinez. Now, the indie community has plenty of post-rock/instrumental artists to wade through...Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think, The Album Leaf, Dirty Three, etc. And many of these groups have done very well, despite writing music completely antithetical to songcraft: prolonged, restrained, lyric-less and inaccessible opuses. For instance, Mogwai worked with Clint Mansell in scoring Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, Explosions in the Sky composed the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights, Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "East Hastings" was featured in 28 days later. I guess there's this trend of post-rock music being integrated into films. And it works very well. That said, does Friends of Dean Martinez bring anything to the table in the face of these instrumental juggernauts? Absolutely. I wouldn't claim outright that they are better artists than the aforementioned groups, but Friends of Dean Martinez are by no means derivative or lackluster. And after 13 years and 9 LPs, they maintain that difficult balance of being innovative without compromising artistic identity. But they're still nameless, even within the underground circles of music enthusiasts. I don't really know why. Perhaps it's the cumbersome stage name they carry, which probably incites a "Who's on First?" scenario every time it's brought up: "Hey, have you heard of friends of Dean Martinez?" "Who? I don't know who that is. Does he have no friends or something? How sad." "No, they're a band" "Oh, what are they called?" "Friends of Dean Martinez" "No...like, what do they call themselves as a band?" *slap* But a lot of (in fact, most of them) post-rock bands have longwinded names. It might just be the misleading surname "Martinez," which initially made me think of a mariachi band (certainly not the case). Or it could be the fact that "Friends of Dean Martinez" sounds like one of those temporary support groups that play at local bars to raise money for a buddy in chemo therapy. Or it could be that Tucson stigma. Maybe everyone else just thinks FODM sucks. But I'm still going to try. Now, FODM does not have the operatic orchestration of Godspeed, the vicious dynamics of Mogwai, or Explosion's angelic guitar riffs, but they are champions of mood and sonic scenery. Their music is frequently described as evoking desert landscapes, but not in a pejorative sense. Some tracks may feel forlorn and desolate, but they carry an allure of tragic grace. Some songs are markedly sinister, while others are downright gorgeous. The group also has interest in hispanic culture, as evidenced by some of their more rhythmic songs and occasional, Spanish song titles. In addition, they clearly enjoy the retro feel (they have a whole album titled "Retrograde"), and as a whole, FODM can come off as ironic, but it's never destructive. Stylistically, FODM is pretty consistent. The tempo for most songs is pretty gradual; in fact, while some are rather sluggish and boring, the grave movement often contributes to an endearingly barren atmosphere. Instrumentally, acoustic and/or steel guitars are very common. Above all, a yearning slide guitar is usually center stage, stringing out a melody to tie a song together. In essence, most of FODM is pretty western sounding. Pianos and string sections are occasionally used, and FODM's later recordings feature more synth-work. On rare occasions, Friends of Dean Martinez demonstrate their versatility with a surprisingly disparate number, being either jarringly experimental or just mind-blowing. However, as with most post-rock groups, they require patience from the listener. But they may not be for you if you don't like subtlety. Unlike Godspeed, Mogwai, or Explosions, abrupt changes and extremes in rhythm or dynamics are rare. Their stability in is more like The Album Leaf. Anyway, if you have a hunger for more instrumental artists, or just feel adventurous/curious, give Friends of Dean Martinez a shot. Their latest album from 2005, Lost Horizon, which is on KSCR's new wall, was my gateway to their music. The latter half of the opener, "Landfall," is particularly phenomenal, but, like most of the album, is quite unlike the rest of their music. As of right now, their 2000 release, "A Place In The Sun," might be my favorite FODM album. It has good variety and some gripping, haunting tracks, although 2004's "Random Harvest" might be their most endearingly dark LP. I would suggest any of those three to start with.

Recycled Sounds: The Unassuming Return of Britpop

If you were a freedom-loving U.S. American in the mid-1990s, you surely remember the tense (and, in retrospect, patently ridiculous) battle for college rock supremacy between Hootie and the Blowfish and the Dave Matthews Band. It was a conflict that threatened to tear a nation of khaki-shorted collegians apart solely on the relative merits of "Let Her Cry" and "Don't Drink the Water." Now, imagine that same battle with way better music, far more drunken publicity interviews, and much bigger stakes (namely, the victorious band getting to define the cultural values of its nation and hobnob with the head of state; can you imagine Darius Rucker hanging out with Bill Clinton?). That, in a nutshell, was the Battle of Britpop (ca. 1993-1997) waged between Blur, a group of erudite, post-mod schoolboys, and Oasis, a band seemingly motivated only by the prospect of fame and their disdain for their fellow bandmates. To make a long story short, Oasis won the battle but Blur won the war. It was a seminal moment in the type of British rock history that only the British can truly comprehend. However, both bands had notable Stateside success during this period (even if Blur's biggest hit mostly consisted of Damon Albarn yelling "Woo hoo!" at the top of his lungs), ushering a brief cultural fad known as "Cool Britannia." The invasion was brief but influential, reminding Americans that there was life after grunge and introducing Yanks to a previously unseen side of British youth culture with a distinct nationalist flair. The Britpop influence was so pervasive by '97 that even its demise came from within, headed by the unlikely tag team of Radiohead and the Spice Girls. Ten years later, there's a distinct feeling of deja vu. Radiohead is more relevant than ever. The Spice Girls are touring again. Beckhamania has gripped the Los Angeles elite. And many a band that entrances the hipster audience hails from Britain--they just typically specialize in dance-punk or art-rock nowadays. Britpop, it seems, is as dated as Noel Gallagher's bowl cut and Union Jack-emblazoned guitar. America's embrace of music steeped in English esoterica hasn't endured quite as long as its fascination with music based on Lewis Carroll-esque nonsense words like "zigazig-ah." But in the UK, where a fierce loyalty to the product of native musicians remains, Britpop isn't quite dead yet. Even Oasis is still charting. Some of the neo-Britpop vanguard has made fleeting advances towards American chart success but hasn't gotten much farther than The O.C. soundtrack (a la Kaiser Chiefs). Razorlight, in its distinctly cheeky fashion, even penned a breezy single entitled "America" for its most recent album, only to see it gain far greater notoriety in the UK. Americans' tolerance for references to "old Leodiensians" and ebullient shouting of 12-digit mobile phone numbers only extends so far, I guess. It's a shame, because the vestiges of Britpop have carried on in acts a lot more lighthearted than Coldplay and Keane, where such bands' bowdlerization of Britpop is a capital crime. You can see it in The Hoosiers--an English band with a name that has to be the logical conclusion to the neo-Britpop obsession with its forefathers' unexpected success across the pond and the subsequent generation's failure to capitalize on it: The Queen doesn't need any more saving. God save Britpop instead.

Recycled Sounds: Back to the Old Country

As far as cultural warfare goes, the Cold War is so passé--mostly because, in a few years, a majority of young musicians won't be old enough to remember it at all. But back in 1987, when the Berlin Wall still stood as a concrete reminder of entrenched ideological differences between the USSR and the United States, the supposed resistance to American cultural influence in the Eastern Bloc was put to the test through the efforts of none other than Billy Joel. Though I'm not sure how effective "Uptown Girl" is in improving diplomatic relations, Joel's sojourn through the Soviet Union took the first steps in the process in reconciling the consumerist cool of the New World and the tradition-rich culture of the Old World. And though it's been over 15 years since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the seeds Mr. Joel so courageously sowed have finally borne delicious musical fruit. The rise of Beirut, led by 21-year-old wanderlust Zach Condon, in the indie scene is built upon meandering European folk music rhythms and a decidedly pragmatic Soviet-era aesthetic (as the cover art for 2006's brilliantly-titled Gulag Orkestar will attest). On the other side of the ruble exists Gogol Bordello, a New York-based band peddling a sort of gypsy/punk rock fusion. Fronted by Eugene Hütz--a man whose style exists somewhere between Fiddler on the Roof and late '80s club kid--the band's eight-year reign has sounded (to WASP ears, at least) a lot like the fun ethnic weddings at the community center that you were rarely invited to. Yet what comes through in their most recent single, "Wonderlust King," is something even more, something that connects with the fact that a semester abroad in Prague is just as coveted now as one in London or Paris. Apparently there's a killer party somewhere east of the Rhine, and Hütz wants you to come along: Fans of Slavic folk music the world over salute you, Billy Joel.

Monkeys, waterfalls, and Packers! OH MY!

Do you have one of those music videos you just wish you never saw? The video for that song you were listening to and just thought, "Hey, I wonder if they made a music video for this... it's pretty good." You then proceeded to look up and watch the video, only to be disturbed by its contents. Don't worry, you're not alone. I, too, had this unfortunate experience lately with the song Do You Right by 311. The song is fairly relaxing (it's about marijuana - what did you expect?) and I figured it could have a decent music video to go along with it. I'm not sure if I have the proper words to express what I saw after that... an extremely colorful mural, back-up vocalist SA Martinez busting some strange moves in fast motion, lead vocalist Nick Hexum shirtless (but in a baggy jacket) sporting a Green Bay Packers cap while awkwardly moving his hands around, waterfalls, rocks, and a few species of monkey zooming by in the background - I'm so confused. This one scene, at exactly 1:24 into the video, contains most of the elements of my confusion: Now I know this video is from the early 90s, but are we really going to let that be an excuse for this absurdity? All I can say is... witness it for yourself here.
Currently listening to

First Straw

Powerpop Bounces On...

When I first discovered and got into the genre 4 years ago, I thought Powerpop had more or less been dead for 10-15 years. I bought and downloaded every compilation I could find: the D.I.Y. series, the Children of Nuggets 4-disc set, anything that included "Yellow Pills" in its title, etc... There were plenty of compilations to find if you looked hard enough. And there was a reason why the sound quality sounded so poor: Everything was recorded in the 70s and 80s. Every now and then I'd discover a song from the early 90s, but generally I couldn't find anything substantial "powerpop" later than 1993. What happened to this once magical genre? Yellow Pills The Records, 20/20, Badfinger, Cheap Trick, The Motors, The Bats, the dB's, etc... Their sound was seemingly terminated somewhere in the late 80s... Rather than continue on about my frustrations... I'll get to the point. Powerpop got lost amid the punk movement and the MTV generation. Much of early punk was an outlash almost directly at the suburban spheres where Powerpop bands flourished. The two hated each other. Neither got much public attention and skinny guys in skinny ties were easy targets for the punks. Where does MTV fit in? I was a tyke when it started up in the 80s, but anyone from that era can tell you the music they featured was mainstream and still is. They weren't revolutionary because they featured music videos from underground bands, they were revolutionary because they played music videos (I'll give them credit for championing pseudo/post-powerpop bands, however. Read up and R.E.M., if you are interested). There's no clear boundary in my mind it was more or less a gradual decrease in the number of bands cranking out jangly guitar-licks and straightforward lyrics about girls they are hopelessly in love with. The day came sometime last summer. I moved back to my hometown for 3 months to wash dished at a local restaurant and enjoy the scenery and culture of the Deep South. I think it was a dream I had or a hallucination... whatever it was it finally made all the elements crystal clear to me. Theory: Powerpop from the 70s/80s never fully died out. It simply became gradually less accessible to the public therefore limiting expose to the thousands of teens that form bands everyday and emulate their favorite groups. It's not a nobel-winning theory, but I think it works. I realized this after coming across bands like Gentleman Jesse and His Men, Cause Co-motion, True Love, and The Nice Boys. All contemporary groups with sounds straight out of the late 70s. But why all of a sudden are they popping their heads up? Why not in 1995? Why not in 2000? It's my belief that downloading, blogs, and music forums have all enabled a new generation of impressionable teens to stumble across the genre that would have otherwise been forgotten. I mean... how did I find out about the genre? I read a thread about it on a music forum. Thank technology for allowing the cycle to continue. The Nice Boys - Johnny Guitar

Hall & Oates: Makin' the Women Swoon 30 Years Later

I'll tell you what, I've had my doubts about growing old. But after seeing Hall & Oates at the Hollywood Bowl in the $7-nose-bleed section, I am officially ready to turn 50. Granted, I don't have the golden vocal chords that Darryl Hall does, but seeing college-aged girls drool over a man who could be their father has given me some hope about old age. Here's a video: Not only did their songs sound great after 30 years, they actually added a 4-piece stings section and a wizardly-looking utility musician on stage for some quality break-downs and solos that didn't come off superfluous. If you missed them, sorry. If this is the first time you've heard of them, it is time to jump on the bandwagon. I would recommend buying/downloading The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates (2 Discs).

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