KSCR - Live from Comic Con 2010

One week of the year, San Diego is host to one of the largest gatherings of its kind, Comic-Con International. Comic-Con is host to a myriad of exhibitors and professionals attracting enthusiasts of comic books, film, television, video games, anime and science fiction.

It’s no surprise Disney once again earned the spotlight this year, kicking things off with a press conference for the much anticipated film Tron: Legacy. Scored by mysterious electronic duo, Daft Punk, it will undoubtedly be the highlight of the coming holiday season.

Outside the conference, Tron fans scoured all over downtown San Diego as part of a Tron Legacy scavenger hunt via Twitter. Participants were provided with instructions and coordinates for each "mission," culminating in a rendezvous at the “End of Line Club” at Flynn’s Arcade.

Named after the arcade from the original film, Flynn’s is a unique installation created exclusively for Comic-Con weekend for fans and other members of the Tron world to converge. Inside, one can find a fully functioning video arcade with classics like Galaga and Asteroid, memorabilia from the original film and an incredible “space-station” environment populated with citizens from the Tron world.

KSCR’s own DJ Ahmar aka VFN had a chance to visit Comic-Con 2010 and enter the world of Tron at Flynn’s arcade. (Fun fact for Daft fans: Inside, we spotted Mr. Michel Gondry, director of the memorable video for “Around the World”)

Click Here to view the photos through Flickr. Photos taken the weekend of July 22-25 during Comic-Con 2010 in San Diego, California.

Big thanks to Walt Disney Pictures, Comic-Con International, KCRW and Myspace.

"The View From Nowhere" is a weekly show airing on KSCR Radio in Los Angeles


Experienced super-alts know that vinyl is super hip, super pretty to look at and makes you seem super pretentious in front of all yr entry level alt friends. Thus, being the extremely experienced super-alt that I am (HAH), I present my newest (and final) KSCR on-air endeavor to all our loyal listeners: That's right --- for my final semester on-air at KSCR, I've decided to dig deep into my extensive vinyl collection of first-press editions and put them on air for your listening pleasure. So heads up vinyl junkies; tune in every Sunday from 6-8pm this semester to hear full album sides, various 7" records and musical criticism and pop theorizing mumbo-jumbo right here on KSCR. I'll also track what albums I'll play each day on KSCR's Twitter. If you aren't already, make sure to hop on the social networking bandwagon and follow us!

Bicycle Thievery Near USC and Beyond

The USC campus has never been immune to bicycle thievery, but in the last month this has proved especially apparent. Within my small circle alone, two bicycle thefts and two wheel losses (unfortunately including my own) have occurred in the last month. Here are a few tips for novices and experts for prevention:
  • Get a great U-Lock. This article by Slate may be two years old, but the principle remains the same: not all locks were created equal. Another lesson learned is that security may come at a price. The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-lock was the winner and can be found on Ebay for as low as $50. An investment, really, as the true value of a bicycle is not known until it's gone...
  • Even for short-term locking, use a cord lock in addition to the U-lock. Especially if you have quick-release wheels and even if you have a bolted-on wheel, an additional 15 seconds of locking really is worth it.
  • Lock through the frame, wheel, and to a rack, even if this means more walking to find an appropriate place. Pull the cord lock through your frame, front wheel, and to your lock.
Other guides to safe locking: SF Bicycle Coalition, eHow.

Riding After Midnight: Late Nights and Bikes in LA

Midnight Ridin' (Judas Priest reference in the title there...) 12:30 AM, Saturday night.  I was debating between going straight home after leaving my friend's place and stopping at another friend's for a party...just for a second...maybe one drink... Seriously, just one.  Oh COME on, quit judging me... I was riding down 29th Street on my Bianchi road bike when I decided to call my friend to see if her shindig was still going on, so I stopped at 29th and Menlo.  As the call started to go through, I noticed a mass of 40 to 50 bicycles approaching with little lights twinkling like diamonds.  I knew those bicycles had to be the Midnight Ridazz... * * * * * * * * * * Midnight Ridazz = a party on wheels.  Power in numbers, in two wheels we trust.  Riding with friends and having a beer without ever stopping at a bar (or stopping in general).  Just looking for an escape on a cool weekend night in LA.  Dancing to music from a sound system pulled by a bike trailer--one hand in the air, the other on a brake lever (or maybe you don't have brakes, you fixie hipster--yeah, I went there). And the journey itself is the only destination. Midnight Ridazz started one night in 2004 when a group of eight friends in Echo Park were bored and decided to make a bit of an event out of their usual trip to the bar.  They biked through Downtown and surrounding areas on a tour of local fountains. The group of friends turned into a mass of people in a matter of years, almost exclusively by word of mouth.  With the growth of cycling between 2004 and 2008, especially road and fixed-gear cycles, the group exploded; eight people became (in some cases) eight hundred, and rides couldn't be organized by a few people. Now, anyone can organize their own ride on the Midnight Ridazz website and see who else is organizing theirs.  Typically the rides are 20 to 40 miles at a slow to medium pace, often taking place in Echo Park, Downtown, or Hollywood--many times, all of these places in one night. The explosion of alternative bike culture around the United States has spawned an entire culture around late night rides.  Midnight Ridazz isn't the only late night ride in Los Angeles anymore.  Besides the dozens of smaller rides throughout the week, there are major staples in the diet of late night LA rides. Monday, there's the now-legendary Wolfpack Hustle: unless you're mad into lycra and have Tour de France aspirations, this is probably the fastest ride in the United States.  Tuesday, Bicykillers in the San Fernando Valley--don't ask me the details of the ride, thems Valley folk.  Wednesday, the Koreatown Forge and Gorge: pedal reasonably fast, eat shittons of food--what more in life is there?  Last Friday of every month, Critical Mass: arguably the largest and most famous ride because it takes place all over the world on the same day: young, old, hipsters, business people...all out for a slow-paced joyride throughout their respective metropolises.  The Saturday after the third Friday of each month, C.R.A.N.K. MOB, a self-proclaimed "monthly bike ride dance party masquerade carnival sextravaganza": more party than ride, but it's all the same in the end, really. But of course, there's the classic ride: the Midnight Ridazz Friday night rides. * * * * * Spoke Cards Come to think of it, my first ride was a Midnight Ridazz ride.  The "Mother of All Rides" in mid-March was a glorified scavenger hunt.  Two people dressed in egg costumes hid throughout a moderately-sized section of Hollywood.  Four groups, each with about a hundred to two-hundred riders, went on a hunt for the "eggs."  Once found, the winning groups got spoke cards: collectible momentos as proof of going on a ride, to be proudly displayed in the spokes of your bike wheel. (And no, it's not like putting baseball cards in your spokes when you're a kid because you wanted your bike to sound like a motorcycle.)  From there, the four groups converged and sped through all parts of Hollywood and surrounding areas: The Grove at Third and Fairfax, Hollywood and Highland, and Melrose. As I made my way through the massive pack of riders, the music changed: one person slung a ghetto-blaster over his back, playing the best in electronica at the time (Digitalism!), then another bike pulling a sound system blasting guilty pleasures (Journey? Foreigner...dear God).  I talked to strangers--elated to be on the ride, excited to meet me and anyone else.  There were moments of pure speed.  Heading South on La Brea from Hollywood toward The Grove is a slight downhill.  We picked up speed, gunned passed cars, cheering all along the way. If you asked me why this first experience got me so hooked on bikes, it would be hard to put it in words.  I think part of it is the innate human desire for the thrill of velocity, the lust for a bit of controlled danger.  Good music blasted from trailers throughout the mass of 5-600 people had lots to do with it.  But I think most of it had to do with the beauty of human congregation in pursuit of noble goals.  Simple goals.  Share the speed, the feeling of exclusivity, the collective ownership of the road for at least one cool night.  A few miles.  A few hours in an alternate, irreverent reality. Most cars we encountered that night honked in approval, and drivers cheered out their windows.  You can't help but holler back.  And smile. And maybe that's what it was...I couldn't stop smiling that night as I cruised through those potted-and-pitted Hollywood streets. * * * * * * * * * * The twinkling lights and bikes approached and stopped at the same corner I was on, 29th and Menlo.  What a strange place for a group of riders... ...what a strange group of riders. Some cyclists were in full Viking suits (yes, with horned helmets), some with puppets, others in shiny metallic jumpsuits.  I approached the group and asked someone (who turned out to be Ryan, the ride organizer) about the ride... Me: Hey, what ride is this? Ryan: Midnight Ridazz, Robots ride! Me: Where we going? Ryan: Dunno, but we're gonna party, come with! The Robots ride, it turned out, was an off-shoot of Midnight Ridazz.  Like C.R.A.N.K. MOB, it's more like "party with a bit of riding" than "riding with a bit of party."  Fine by me. We biked through The Row, and not surprisingly, ran into many Greek parties and people.  Most were appreciative.  One was a douchebag.  He took his bike (a beach cruiser, but not that it REALLY matters in the end) and threw it into the street for the express purpose of fucking somebody up.  Unfortunately, somebody did fall as a result of it.  Well, one of the Robots riders didn't take that so well...Fist + Face. We ended up on the USC campus at McCarthy Quad and Leavey Library.  The promenade in front of the library, so often frequented by students looking for a smoke or phone break any other day of the week,  filled with people looking for a beer and dance break.  After everyone had their fill of dance and drink, we rolled out to the LA Coliseum, where just hours before, it was populated by tailgate parties for a USC football game: middle-aged men recalling their college days to the dismay of their wives and embarrassment of their four-year-old children. Once there, we went down to the bowels of the Coliseum's underground parking structure.  We carved through the parking lot ramps and got to the lowest level in the parking structure, where dancing, drinking, and debauchery continued. It seems maybe as though we were in Hell...so far beneath the earth, with so much vice.  But to everyone there, it was Heaven.

Mr. November.

With the changing of seasons comes another dismal opportunity to create a [brand new] playlist, befitting the not so sudden, and ever so slight drop in temperature that generally occurs as we plunge deeper into the year, and consequently deeper into that pile of leaves, which at USC is that mire of papers that has gathered around one's desk-- the intensity of it depending wholly on your personal level of procrastination, a direct measurement of exactly how many days you chose to dance in an inebriated state to M.G.M.T. (to whom no one has a reason to listen to except for the reason above) instead of doing work. Regardless, Matt Berninger may have been doing likewise in his younger days as he reflects back on the autumn season. The National- "Mr. November"   "I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders". With his cavernous deep voice and well carved cheekbones, it is not difficult to see understand why, as this lead singer proves awkward looks to be an unnecessary (although common) component to being frontman of an indie band. Kudos to those of you already familiar with the band, shaking your head to my cliche choice of song for said playlist, which is not so cliche at all with the exception of the title itself.. Those of you familiar with the band, but unaware of the existence of albums other than Boxer, should have their indie status examined. Those fully aware and fond of all albums, especially the Virginia EP, should lose their hipster status altogether... (I mean, half of the new EP wasn't even new). For those who've never heard the band, here's a chance to have a listen and redeem yourself: http://www.myspace.com/thenational Have a listen, but if your immediate reaction is to add them as a friend, then you my friend, are behind the times. Dear reader, what are you doing with an active myspace and without a proper blog account? I guess that's what we're for. So stay tuned and keep reading.

Larry David and New Poppin' Music

First and foremost, for all you Seinfeld,and Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, or for all of you fans of funny, please take some time out of your day for Larry David. Yes, he may be an ignorant SOB sometimes but it makes for the most uncomfortably wonderful kind of comedy around. Critics will deem people like LD as the dark side of humanity, providing nothing more than negative commentary. I must (un)kindly disagree. David will say everything that people only think, when others are too scared to talk. And it is fucking hilarious. While he may not be for everyone, it's worth a shot to convert as many people as possible. His comedy may have been around for years (Seinfeld--which I think pales in comparison to Curb Your Enthusiasm) but I think everyone should check it out. I mean, who doesn't like watching people feel uncomfortable? Hilarious.  Here's a link to an article he recently wrote about the upcoming election. Check it. Secondly, new music. I am proudly using my first post to provide a shameless plug for my friend's band. Formerly known as Panda, Dizzy Balloon (huh?) has been around since middle school. Over time, their sound has grown and matured into something new. This past year, they recorded a full length album. Check out the myspace. If this music doesn't get your toe a-tappin', I don't know what will. See, I took care of your afternoon entertainment. Enjoy.  

Save The Chimps!!! (By Listening to Buena Vista Social Club)

As I was doing my daily perusing around the internet I stumbled upon an article that shocked me.  It read

Chimps: Not Human, But Are They People?.

At first I clicked on the article expecting an article that would finally tell me that chimpanzees are just furry dwarves with hands for feet (something I always suspected after watching videos like this one)   But what I found out in the article was even more frightening than a chimp getting a haircut.  According to scientists, via WIRED magazine, the chimp population has now reached critical levels.  In recent years the number of chimps has fallen from 10,000 in West Africa to only a couple thousand.  I was appalled by what I had read and immediately needed to get a hold of the situation.  To help put things into perspective I listened to a band I had just discovered a band called Buena Vista Social Club.  A collection of all the great Cuban artists of the 40's and 50's they joined together in the late 90s with slide guitarist Ry Cooder to form this Cuban Super group.  Their afro-cuban beat helped me put things into perspective and realize that I can't do anything about the chimp population, but I can dance like an idiot in my apartment to "Candela".  So to help you forget your worries I am putting the song up here for your enjoyment.  Dance away.  

Movie Trailers

Studios heavily rely on movie trailers to attract audiences to their new movie.  But, with so many movies coming out each month, the sinking economy, and rising movie ticket prices, what distinguishes one trailer from the next?   Some studios try to place a song, popular or not, to try and draw the audience into the movie and to help them feel more connected. Sure, there's the standard Harry Potter-Dark Knight-Star Wars trailers that only use composed music performed by orchestras and since the books/previous movies of these movies are already so vastly popular, there's no need to make the trailer stand out in a musical way.  However, more independent movies or movies with a less solid fan base sometimes try to catch viewer's attention through music. The "Watchmen" trailer debuted at comic-con this year, with "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" by the Smashing Pumpkins playing in the background, and with the song the trailer attracted some much deserved buzz.  The movie itself does not boast a celebrity cast and cannot rely on the fan base of the graphic novels and therefore by creating this dark trailer with dark images and an even darker song, the caught people's attention.  Personally, I had never heard of the novels and I was never a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins until this movie trailer.  Now, I love the song, I love the trailer, and I plan to see the movie.  Maybe I'm just an easy sell. Garden State now has a cult fan base, however, when the movie was in production, there were no paparazzi staked out in between scenes on the set to see Zach Braff and Natalie Portman hanging out.  And so, when it came time for Fox Searchlight to release a trailer, they called on the help of the Postal Service's song "Such Great Heights" for background music.  Maybe the movie became so popular because of the acting and the killer script, but I like to think it had something to do with how well the song went with the trailer theme and made you think, "Huh.  This movie is totally about my life." And then there's this summer's comedic hit, "The Pineapple Express."  The trailer not only brought back M.I.A's song "Paper Planes," but the trailer also hinted at the genius of James Franco, who has never been cast as a strong leading figure in a movie before.  For the greater part of August, "Paper Planes" was played on the radio and I caught it as some people's ringtones too.  Also, the movie was a success (the trailer song was not played in the movie, though that would've have been so cool) and James Franco now has a legit career (maybe). Does the music that's played in a trailer sway your decision to go see in theater?  I would say sometimes it does.

KSCR Top 30 for 09/29-10/5

Here's your weekly update of the chart KSCR submitted to CMJ for our most played music:
1 COLD WAR KIDS Loyalty To Loyalty Downtown
2 JENNY LEWIS Acid Tongue Warner Bros.
3 STARFUCKER Starfucker Badman
4 FUJIYA AND MIYAGI Lightbulbs Deaf Dumb And Blind
5 OKKERVIL RIVER The Stand Ins Jagjaguwar
6 RA RA RIOT The Rhumb Line Barsuk
7 SPINTO BAND Moonwink Park The Van
8 HARD PLACE Get Your Hopes Up World Famous In San Francisco
10 NOAH AND THE WHALE Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down Cherry Tree-Interscope
11 DEERHOOF Offend Maggie Kill Rock Stars
12 LAND OF TALK Some Are Lakes Saddle Creek
13 WOMEN Women Jagjaguwar
14 MOGWAI The Hawk Is Howling Matador
15 TV ON THE RADIO Dear Science Touch And Go-Interscope
16 CONOR OBERST Conor Oberst Merge
17 PINK SPIDERS Sweat It Out Mean Buzz
18 I SET MY FRIENDS ON FIRE You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter Epitaph
19 ETTES Look At Life Again Soon Take Root
20 POLYSICS We Ate The Machine MySpace
21 EMILIANA TORRINI Me And Armini Rough Trade
22 ABE VIGODA Skeleton PostPresent Medium
23 ROY HARGROVE Ear Food Groovin' High-Emarcy
24 HIGH PLACES High Places Thrill Jockey
25 LYKKE LI Youth Novels LL
26 HERMAN DUNE Next Year In Zion Everloving
27 XX TEENS Welcome To Goon Island Mute
28 BRIAN WILSON That Lucky Old Sun Capitol
29 ONE FOR THE TEAM Build It Up Militia Group
30 CRYSTAL ANTLERS Crystal Antlers [EP] Touch And Go

The Comeback Kid

A lot of artists in history (and a lot of artists these days) have been trying to make bank off of their past popularity. They seem to either reunite with their former bandmates and put out an album/go on tour, or just one of the band memembers scrambles to put out a solo record. Has anyone else noticed this? First let's talk about the most recent "hit" comeback group, New Kids on the Block (who may not have left an impression on many college students today seeing as they're... a little older). I remember my big sister listening to them on her tape player. Anyway, their new album recently came out, debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200, and they're currently touring around the U.S. selling out shows everywhere. But... did they come back with a quality cd? Are they money-mongers? Check out their summer success, cleverly named "Summertime", which is actually quite catchy. You do have to keep in mind how old these guys are. Is it respectable to be making music videos and teen-pop songs like "Summertime" when you're that old?     Next up on the agenda is the Spice Girls. Who could forget when they came to L.A. and rocked everyone's world? I didn't go the concert, but I can tell you that I didn't stop hearing their songs escaping from overly-jacked up iPod headsets, people's mouths, and various computer speakers in my dorm for WEEKS afterward. But, did anyone listen to their "comeback" song? The song did so poorly that they didn't bother releasing an album, but the tour was such a success they added several shows nationally and worldwide. Where's the new material? Cashing in nostologia can be great, but where's the comeback kid? The performer that comes back to show that they still have it, not that they had it, and they can repeat what they did before.     A little further back we also have the uber successful and vocally talented Mariah Carey.  After her Glitter bombed as a movie and as a soundtrack, her record label, Virgin Records, dropped her.  Then she signed on with Island Def Jam and released Charmbracelet.  Remember that one?  Not really, that's because it sorta bombed too.  Then, in 2005, the Emancipation of Mimi came out and all became well for the diva.  She won four Grammys and "We Belong Together" became a staple in pop culture at the time; it spent 14 long weeks at number one.  This past year, she followed up her comeback album with "E=MC²" which by all means was a success as well.  "Touch My Body" flexed it's chart muscle and became Mariah's 18th number one hit.  Should Mariah be labeled as best comeback of all time?  Are these two albums comparable to the hits that made her famous and respected in the first place?  (Emphasis on respected!)  I admit, "We Belong Together," was a pretty smart song to release at the time.  The charts were dominated heavily by R&B type songs. More recently, there's been a lot of buzz about Britney Spears trying to get her stuff together for a major record and tour package.  Though Blackout was slated to (maybe) be her comeback album, it fell short of people's expectations, especially after the VMA's and absolutely no promotion on her side to support the work.  The album was not condemned by critics and fans; it debuted at #2 and Rolling Stone even wrote, "When she's not gearing up for a meltdown, Britney's wielding more melting-ice imagery than An Inconvenient Truth: She's gonna "break the ice," "hit defrost on ya," 'cause she's "cold as fire, baby, hot as ice." Fire and ice — Robert Frost said the world will end in one of those two ways, consumed by passion or frozen by rationalism, and it's clear which option Brit will take. But meanwhile, she's gonna crank the best pop booty jams until a social worker cuts off her supply of hits."  Now, she's really gearing up for it, with a world tour in the works and a new album, "Circus" to come out in December, will the once "Queen of Pop" get it together for long enough to take the world by storm (maybe even take it away from Miley Cyrus?).  Do we hope so? Now tell me, who's your favorite comeback kid?

Comic Books Killed the Video Star

Comic books are the new music videos. Or the old music videos, come back to the new. They’re something, anyway. Music is having a more direct effect on comic books, to the point where comic books are starting to refer to themselves in music industry terms. For example, the anthology PopGun (which is awesome, by the way, and will appeal to both old lovers of comic books and neophytes alike) bills itself as “the ultimate comics mix-tape.”



Musicians are finding a lot of success in the comic book world. Some admittedly are doing things of dubious quality (Courtney Love published a short lived series through TokyoPop which was incredibly underwhelming), but on the flipside we’re getting some really cool comics out of the music industry.


One of the most awesome things to come out of this are music/comic collaborations, wherein comic book artists and writers go back to musicians songs and adapt them into short comics. Tori Amos, for instance, has long been tangentially involved in the comic book arena (she wrote the intro for Death: The High Cost of Living) through a relationship with Neil Gaiman, the great author of the Sandman series. Amos has just published her own music/comic collaboration. Comic Book Tattoo, a massive book put out by Image Comics, is huge collection of comics based on Amos’s songs. It is so cool. Not everything in it is for everyone, but there’s at least one thing you will like.


Comic Book TattoBelle and Sebastian have done a similar thing with Put the Book Back on the Shelf. However, Put the Book Back on the Shelf just seems to be quirky for the sake of quirkiness -- indie just to be indie. I love Belle and Sebastian’s music, and when this book first came out, just the idea of it blew my mind. But since its sequel and the subsequent publication of Comic Book Tattoo, the shiny veneer of novelty has worn off. Hardcore fans will still like Belle and Sebastian's result, but bigger, more diverse anthologies like the aforementioned PopGun and Comic Book Tattoo are probably the way to go.


Put The Book Back on the ShelfBut for comic book nerds everywhere, our time in the spotlight is coming. We’re getting hip, my friends. Between awesome bands and Christian Bale, comic books are being drawn out of the basement and into the light. They’re claiming some of that cool that emanates around the music scene. Someday, someday soon, a sweet ass pen collection and a stack of Green Lantern issues will be as hot as a kick ass Fender Stratocaster.

KSCR CMJ Top 30 Playlist for the week ending 9/28/08

Hello there. I'm KSCR's Music Director and every week I submit a playlist with the top 30 most played albums at KSCR that week to the College Music Journal (CMJ), which tallies similar reports from college radio stations across the country. This helps them publish charts akin to the Billboard charts, but for music circulating on college radio stations as opposed to commercial stations. KSCR's genre directors also submit the top 10 albums played within their respective genres: Hip Hop, Electronica / RPM, Jazz, Loud Rock / Metal, and World music. Here is the list for what was played last week:

Radio 200

Rank Artist Recording Label
1 ABE VIGODA Skeleton PostPresent Medium
2 TV ON THE RADIO Dear Science Touch And Go-Interscope
3 JENNY LEWIS Acid Tongue Warner Bros.
4 DR. DOG Fate Park The Van
5 WALKMEN You And Me Gigantic
6 HEARTS OF PALM UK For Life Hypnote
7 THE FAINT Fasciinatiion Blank.wav
8 MOGWAI The Hawk Is Howling Matador
9 HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR Hercules And Love Affair Mute-DFA
10 SIGUR ROS Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust XL

Radio 200 cont'd

11 METALLICA Death Magnetic Warner Bros.
12 ETTES Look At Life Again Soon Take Root
13 POLYSICS We Ate The Machine MySpace
14 HOLD STEADY Stay Positive Vagrant
16 BRAZILIAN GIRLS New York City Verve Forecast
17 THE COAST Expatriate Aporia
18 DAEDELUS Love To Make Music To Ninja Tune
19 STILLS Oceans Will Rise Arts And Crafts
20 CALEXICO Carried To Dust Touch And Go-Quarterstick
21 EMILIANA TORRINI Me And Armini Rough Trade
22 OKKERVIL RIVER The Stand Ins Jagjaguwar
24 RAPHAEL SAADIQ The Way I See It Columbia
25 LYKKE LI Youth Novels LL
27 NEW YEAR The New Year Touch And Go
29 ED LAURIE Meanwhile In The Park Dangerbird
30 INARA GEORGE AND VAN DYKE PARKS An Invitation Everloving

Settle or Be Sued

Settle or be sued. These are the two options given by the settlement letters that many college students have received. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently sent out its thirteenth batch of settlement letters and of the 401 notices, 50 target USC students. Most will probably settle, whether through the RIAA’s p2plawsuits.com or otherwise, but what happens if someone actually decides to go to trial? After 20,000 cases never made it into the courtroom, the first lawsuit to go before a jury against an individual file-sharer was resolved. The jury considered the case, Capitol Records v. Thomas, for four hours before declaring a verdict: the defendant was guilty of copyright infringement and charged with $9,250 in statutory damages for each of 24 tracks, totaling $222,000. Jammie Thomas, a 30-year-old single mother from Brainerd, Minnesota, was responsible not only for this sum, but also legal fees for both sides, making the total likely to approach $500,000. In statements during the days following the trial, jurors stated they came to the guilty verdict in a matter of minutes, with the majority of deliberation over the amount. While two jurors desired the maximum penalty of $150,000 per track, one held out for the minimum of $750 each. The final number of $9,250 was a compromise. While Thomas asked the district judge to set aside the judgment as "unconstitutionally excessive," the penalty was chosen by a jury of 12 ordinary Americans from her own state, making this a difficult point to argue. The real question, though, is how 24 tracks, which could sell for a total of $23.76 as legal downloads from the iTunes music store, are worth $222,000. The answer lies in current copyright law. While Thomas was accused of illegally downloading over 1,700 tracks from Kazaa, the lawsuit concerned 24 tracks found in her shared folder. The tracks Thomas made available could have been downloaded by thousands of users, or no one. There is then no way to calculate the exact losses to the copyright holders. In situations where exact monetary damages cannot be calculated, the copyright law allows for statutory damages of $750 to $30,000 per infringement (per track) and this can be increased to $150,000 for willful infringement. This means Thomas could have been held responsible for $3.6 million had maximum penalties been applied. Of course, the RIAA had a substantial amount of evidence against the defendant in this particular case. While Thomas' defense consisted largely of "I didn't do it" and the suggestion that someone else may have been using her Internet connection, the RIAA presented a number of counterarguments. Both the MAC and IP addresses of the file-sharer matched those of Thomas' computer at the time file sharing occurred. The computer was password-protected and only she had access to it. She had a 13-year history of using her Kazaa username ("Tereastarr") on everything from e-mail accounts to a match.com profile. There was a strong correlation between her musical tastes and the artists in the shared folder. She lied about the date she replaced her hard drive. The defense called no witnesses. It would be interesting to see how the case turned out with less substantial evidence. Guilt could be more difficult to prove in future cases. Jammie Thomas has responded to the lawsuit by saying she is innocent and vowing she will be "a thorn in the side of the RIAA" for the rest of her life. She is appealing the court decision and has set up a website for donations, which raised nearly $16,000 in the first few weeks after the decision. With over 20,000 lawsuits and thousands of pre-litigation letters sent to college students, the recording industry is spending millions of dollars trying to control piracy. According to The Daily Chorus, P2P downloading has actually increased by nearly 70 percent since the lawsuits began four years ago. There were at least 2 million users trading over 800 million total files the night Thomas was accused of sharing those 24 songs.
Jammie Thomas’ 24 Shared Tracks:
  • Aerosmith - Cryin’
  • Bryan Adams - Somebody
  • Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar On Me
  • Destiny’s Child - Bills, Bills, Bills
  • Gloria Estefan - Coming Out of the Dark
  • Gloria Estefan - Here We Are
  • Gloria Estefan - Rhythm Is Gonna Get You
  • Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
  • Green Day - Basket Case
  • Guns N’ Roses - November Rain
  • Guns N’ Roses - Welcome to the Jungle
  • Janet Jackson - Let’s Wait a While
  • Journey - Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Journey - Faithfully
  • Linkin Park - One Step Closer
  • No Doubt - Bathwater
  • No Doubt - Different People
  • No Doubt - Hella Good
  • Reba McEntire - One Honest Heart
  • Richard Marx - Now and Forever
  • Sara McLaughlin - Building a Mystery
  • Sara McLaughlin - Possession
  • Sheryl Crow - Run Baby Run
  • Vanessa Williams - Save the Best For Last

"Who gives a fuck about an 'Oxford Comma?'" We Do.

Vampire Weekend came to the Echo last night and they killed. These witty preps from NY played a great live set, effectively translating their unique sound onto a live stage with a ton of energy. Long live danceable bass lines, airy island guitars, and diverse rhythms. Oh! and that keyboard! The boys got some chops. Did I mention the wonderful lyrics? Hold on, I think I'm drooling. Indeed, there's a lot of buzz surrounding this band of four Columbia grads - so much that even MTV got an interview with Ezra, Rostam, Christopher, and Chris. The best part about all of this? Vampire Weekend doesn't even release their debut self-titled until January 29th. Granted, their notorious "Blue-CDR" of recorded full length promos was leaked and has been floating around the internet for awhile. But, that's a lot of hype for a band with no official LP. So, why all the buzz? Answer: Gloriously catchy tunes, excellent live shows, and a fresh sound. Say all you want about Paul Simon's Graceland, early Talking Heads, and African tribal music/drums. These kids can play fantastically well, and desearve the attention. Here's a video of "Mansard Roof": Pick of the set: "Oxford Comma." Vampire Weekend is out 1/29/08 on XL.

CFCF: An electronica like no other

Yea so this electronica artist from Montreal keeps coming out with consistently good tracks on his myspace page. From Kanye remixes to straight-up orginals, CFCF brings a sound that is instantly familiar. Maybe not as technically impressive as Daft Punk, but certainly as original. The sounds this guy makes with his computer are superb. Enough said. Check it out. And if you don't trust me, trust PITCHFORK WHO HAS NAME-DROPPED HIM MULTIPLE TIMES !!!!!


Here is a fantastic blog about the fall of OiNK and its prophecy of music industry revolution It's a bit long, but a worthwhile read. There's a section in particular that I want to post below, for it yields understanding to the incentive and opinions behind many of us here at KSCR. "Unlike newspapers, record companies own the distribution and the product being distributed, so you can't just start your own website where you give out music that they own - and that's what this is all about: distribution. Lots of pro-piracy types argue that music can be free because people will always love music, and they'll pay for concert tickets, and merchandise, and the marketplace will shift and artists will survive. Well, yes, that might be an option for some artists, but that does nothing to help the record labels, because they don't make any money off of merchandise, or concert tickets. Distribution and ownership are what they control, and those are the two things piracy threatens. The few major labels left are parts of giant media conglomerations - owned by huge parent companies for whom artists and albums are just numbers on a piece of paper. It's why record companies shove disposable pop crap down your throat instead of nurturing career artists: because they have CEOs and shareholders to answer to, and those people don't give a shit if a really great band has the potential to get really successful, if given the right support over the next decade. They see that Gwen Stefani's latest musical turd sold millions, because parents of twelve year old girls still buy music for their kids, and the parent company demands more easy-money pop garbage that will be forgotten about next month. The only thing that matters to these corporations is profit - period. Music isn't thought of as an art form, as it was in the earlier days of the industry where labels were started by music-lovers - it's a product, pure and simple." Hopefully, the digital revolution will eventually banish money grubbing executives from recycling music as a disposable flavor-of-the-week. In addition, I suggest anyone who believes "indie snobs" are informed not by personal taste but by a self-righteous, just-for-the-sake-of-it rebellion to the "sheep" of pop culture, to read the above essay and then consider the common defense of mainstream music: "Popular music is popular for a reason. It wouldn't be popular if it wasn't good."

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.

How can I take you seriously when you're wielding a medieval weapon?

We've all seen it - a photograph of some freaky looking metal band wearing spiked armor with one or two hands grasping a mace, sword, or some other medieval weapon (note: if only one hand is used for the weapon, the other is likely taking to be clenching an invisible apple). Today wasn't the first time I witnessed such a thing, but it was more like the next-to-last straw. As I was browsing Last.fm's metal tags to find some new music, I unfortunately stumbled into the dark realms of VIKING METAL *queue mad riff, stage blood spewing out of guitarists' mouths, and random Nordic chanting* Such music requires a very specific fanbase, and I'm wondering who these people are... To dig deeper, I sifted through some forum posts related to artists like Ensiferum and Moonsorrow (who produce songs like that unforgettable tune Kylän päässä and the jukebox classic Ukkosenjumalan poika) - there I saw devoted fans describing their relation to extremely distant Nordic ancestors. I can respect these bands' connections to their ancestry, but when is it just going to far? Surely you don't expect me to take you seriously when you're dressed like you got here with Bill and Ted on their excellent adventure from 1,400 years ago (and in some cases actually riding a Viking ship): Of course there are those more civilized Celts: Luckily the bands (but not necessarily the fans) that I've seen so far actually hail from Scandinavia...that makes their outlandish acts a little more acceptable. It seems it will only be a matter of time, however, until I come across an all-American alternative. That would be the last straw! (and as 311 would say, "there is no reason to take it there at all") The silly band member photos aren't restricted to just viking metal, though. Many genres categorized under the "metal" bubble follow this trend. I think one of my favorite metal bands, All That Remains, shares my pain: Link: More photos of Ensiferum Link: More photos of Moonsorrow PS: If you're Nordic...please...don't take this personally.
Currently listening to (in the year 2007)

All That Remains
The Air That I Breathe

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.

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