31 October, 2006


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

24 October, 2006

Falling for Fall Out Boy

I tried not to like them, believe me I did. It’s ridiculous how far I went to ignore their music. For at least two years I’ve been changing the station on the radio and ignoring Fall Out Boy, the band many music connoisseurs love to hate. I could lie to my readers and tell them I find Fall Out Boy’s music trite, their emotion false, and their love of incredibly long song titles lame, but alas I’m an honest person. I enjoy listening to Fall Out Boy. Finally it’s out, and the real question isn’t why do I like them, the real question is why do I feel so guilty about liking them? Peer pressure is many times more of a problem around indie music lovers than around their pop music counterparts. I know I’m personally guilty of laughing at other’s music choices, but I usually try to give everything a fair shot.

To elaborate on my point here’s a little personal anecdote: One day I was talking with a close friend about music. As we were discussing our feelings about Fall Out Boy another friend (an annoying one:) made the comment that “Fall Out Boy is the worst band ever!” Unfortunately, this friend will not listen to reason (it has been proven that the title of worst band ever goes to The Locust not Fall Out Boy, but I digress.) At a later date I had the pleasure of a good laugh when this same friend who claimed that “Fall Out Boy is the worst band ever!” revealed that he knows all the words to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” which happens to be one of his favorite songs.

I guess the real point of this story is that music is what you make of it. Your musical tastes are built upon your personal interests, expectations, knowledge, and experience and in the end, it all comes down to what your ears like. There’s no point in trying to change your feelings about music because you believe others will perceive you in a certain way. Screw what others think! Put on your headphones and turn up your Fall Out Boy (or Warrant for that matter.) Keep your ears and mind open to different sounds and different opinions, but make up your own mind about the music you love.

Boo!: A Sort-Of Halloween Playlist

Despite the fact that I’m a giant baby when it comes to scary movies (I couldn’t sleep after watching “Signs”) I enjoy Halloween. Maybe I’m a masochist or maybe I just like the idea of changing yourself for one night. The possibilities are endless and you get free candy! In honor of this crazy holiday I’ve created a playlist of songs that remind me of Halloween. Not all of the songs are spooky and you won’t find most of them on a Halloween compilation cd, but they all remind me of the otherworldliness of that final night in October (MWAHAHAHAHA.)

“Evil” by Interpol: Maybe it’s just me, but everytime I here this song I can see zombies rocking out to that crazy steady bassline. Certainly evil.

“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo: The title alone conjures pictures of skeletons in party hats. This song also makes me think of the Death Day party in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. Quick trivia question: Which member of Oingo Boingo went on to spooky soundtrack fame? Danny Elfman of course!

“Teenagers from Mars” by the Misfits: The underrated horror-punk band of the ‘80s sing about teenagers from mars. Also check out the Network’s cover of this song.

“Supermodel Robots” by The Network: With sirens blasting in the background, what could be creepier than starving supermodel robots? The Network are the kings of dress up. It is rumored that three of the members are Green Day in disguise.

“Fashion Zombies!” by the Aquabats: A really weird and cool band singing extremely Halloween worthy tunes. This song is making fun of goth/emo kids everywhere with a thinly veiled (barely veiled) metaphor. Just check out some of the lyrics:
“...So lock those doors and windows
They crawl the malls to shop
For tight black jeans and spiky belts
and scissors for the Zelda cut
and there is no explanation
These creatures are just victims
Dressed in expensive fashions
To look like they crawled out of coffins...”

“Going Under” by Evanescence: This whole album freaks me out so much that I can only listen to it on sunny/extremely happy days. Don’t listen in the dark!

“Gone Daddy Gone” by Gnarls Barkley: These guys have a great love of Halloween masks which they seem to wear for every photo-shoot. This song was originally done by the Violent Femmes, and although it isn’t spooky per se, I find that everything Gnarls Barkley does scares me a little (in a good way!)

“Knights of Cydonia” by Muse: Starting off with the ominous sound of horse hooves and lasers (?) this song is pure eerie fun. Although it does remind me more of cowboys than knights, it definitely makes me pause and listen hard every time I hear it on the radio. Listen to the lyrics, they’re great.

“Dragostea Din Tei (Original Romanian)” by O-Zone: The only scary thing about this song is how much I enjoy listening to it! Oh yeah, and it’s in Romanian which, surprisingly, is not as scary as I had imagined.

“How Soon Is Now?” by The Smiths: Morrissey man, he used to be so weird now he’s just depressing, but that isn’t really the point. This song is great with a loooong intro. It always makes me think of that part in “The Wedding Singer” when Linda comes back, and that’s hands-down the creepiest part of that movie.

“Just Like Heaven” by Dinosaur Jr: They took an already eerie Cure song and made it weirder with all kinds of spooky distortion. I love it!

“Bat Country” by Avenged Sevenfold: This song is just so cool, and the drummer and guitarist are AMAZING. Even if you don’t want to listen because of the massive MTV video play check it out, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

17 October, 2006

Everything you need to know about...Lydia Vance

Lydia Vance is a new band from Las Vegas. I recently corresponded with lead guitarist Brendan and asked him a few questions about the band. These are definitely guys you should check out. In the short time they’ve been together they’ve written some very solid material, and they certainly have the talent to continue writing and growing as a band. Lydia Vance is:

Brendan on lead guitars & vocals
Travis on guitar & vocals
Jarred on bass
Aaron on drums

It was a pleasure interviewing Brendan. Here is the transcript for your entertainment; everything you need to know about Lydia Vance:

Music Snob: So, it’s great to be interviewing you! How long have you guys been playing music together?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): 4 months.

MS: I can definitely hear punk in your music, along with rebel country and grunge influences. These genres are known for their artist's scorn of fame and disinterest in money. What do you guys want from music? Would you like to “make it big”?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): All we want is to have a career and longevity. We want the band to be our full time job. If we make it big, that’s a huge plus.

MS: Besides the influences you mention on your site (Thin Lizzy, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, and Johnny Thunders) what artists, movies, books have influenced your music?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Me personally, I'm a big fan of bukowski and jd salinger as far as books go. I love all kinds of movies, huge fan of christopher walken. He’s pretty much the greatest man alive.

MS: What is it like to be a band living in Sin city? Are you getting more attention with the recent fame of the Killers and Panic! at the Disco?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Vegas is Vegas. There’s always been a lack of all age venues, something that makes it incredibly hard to thrive as an up and coming band. But somehow we always find a way to make do. Of course with the killers and panic's success it has had the industry buzzing quite a bit around here, but that has had no affect on how we do things.

MS: Any local band recommendations?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Jr. Anti Sex league.

MS: Do you have a favorite venue in Las Vegas/the World? What do you like about it?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): There are no real venues left in vegas, besides say the house of blues or the joint. We have yet to play out of town, so as far as other clubs, I’ll keep you posted. haha.

MS: Will you be touring soon? Any plans for an album?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): We will probably be touring extensively in the months following the release of our ep. The ep comes out in November and is entitled "Fight Fire With Kids On Fire". Pick it up.

MS: How do you guys go about the song-writing process?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): I usually write all the songs, and then it builds from there.

MS: What are you trying to say with your music?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): That life is fucked up, and you’re not alone with your problems.

MS: If you could play any instrument other than your own, what would it be?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Drums!

MS: The Stones or the Beatles? Why?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): Beatles, more hooks.

MS: Is there anything else the public should know about Lydia Vance?

Brendan (Lydia Vance): We make good house pets! Thank you to all our friends and fans, and anyone who supports us. And especially YOU for interviewing us!

Songs about Books

Music and literature have influenced each other for a long time. “The Odyssey” is one ancient example of how music has been used to spread classic stories. In the 20th century, music and literature began to grow apart, as the major art forms diverged and multiplied into many separate genres. Recently, there has been less celebration of classic literary works through song as musicians become more involved in their own stories (which are many times equally interesting.) Even poetry has lost its mainstream popularity, as the rich rock star became the preferred hero of teens and adults everywhere.

The classics of music and literature remain to be interpreted in interesting ways by both writers and musicians, and it is completely appropriate that celebrated contemporary literature be expressed through music. Some recent artists are taking part in the long history of telling classic tales through music. These musicians take the most celebrated and exciting literature of the last decade and express these timeless stories in song, and they do this with flare and originality.

Take, for example, the Gothic Archies. The Gothic Archies are best known by kids and their extremely fortunate parents who listen to Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on tape. The Archies are lead by Stephen Merrit of the 6ths and Magnetic Fields, but the Archies are somewhat more musically dark than these other bands. This is not to say that the Archies’ music is depressing, although that seems to be exactly the point of songs with titles like “Smile! No one cares how you feel”, “The World is A Very Scary Place”, and “Scream and Run Away.” These songs are actually filled with dark humor, like Lemony Snicket’s books. The monotone delivery and the echoing music recalls Joy Division and only adds to the creepy fun of the Gothic Archies’ songs. Most of the lyrics revolve around the trials and tribulations of the Baudelaire children, the heroes of “The Series of Unfortunate Events.” I would recommend that any fan of Lemony Snicket’s books listen to the Gothic Archies, and that anyone who isn’t a fan of “The Series of Unfortunate Events” buy the new album “The Tragic Treasury”. The music really does complement the books, but it is just as interesting on its own.

Another example of literary rock stars are local cult favorites, Harry & the Potters. As their name implies, the Potters sing about the magical adventures of one popular boy wizard. They’re surprisingly good at what they do, capturing the pressures of adolescence that are so prevalent in the Harry Potter books and turning them into finely crafted rock songs (including a lighter friendly ballad “Save Ginny Weasley.) The number of bands influenced by the “Harry Potter” books is immense and not surprising given the book’s popularity. A quick search of Myspace shows such wizard-worthy musicians as; Ginny & The Heartbreakers, The Whomping Willows, The Hungarian Horntails, The Parselmouths, Dobby & The House Elves, The Moaning Myrtles, Romilda Vane & The Chocolate Cauldrons, The Wands, The Bandon Banshees, and Hollow Godric among others. Harry & The Potters even have an evil nemesis band in Draco & The Malfoys who proclaim “Evil Wizard Rock Love!” on their Myspace homepage.

It is obvious from the sheer number of musicians interested in writing about contemporary classics that the interpretation of literature through music is not dead, and has even forged new territory with the celebration of excellent children’s books. People are still being effected everyday by stories told in books and in song, and music and literature continue to effect and influence each other greatly.

10 October, 2006

The Boston Dolls

The Dresden Dolls are not a new band, in fact they’ve been the underground darlings of the Boston alternative scene since at least 2004. Known for their niche market of German influenced punk cabaret, the Dolls put on an exciting live show and write interesting, humorous, and catchy rock songs. “Coin-Operated Boy”, “Girl Anachronism”, “Sing”, and “Backstabber” are played regularly on local radio stations, and the Dresden Dolls have won numerous BMAs, were mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine, and recently toured with the MTV love-boys Panic! At the Disco.

Despite their popularity in such a seemingly normal city as Boston, the Dresden Dolls consistently push the envelope with their songwriting. The Dresden Dolls combine the catchiness of Broadway with the nonconformist tendencies of punk rock, and a passion for thought-provoking lyrics with a certain flare for drama.

Amanda Palmer who’s in charge of piano, vocals, and lyrics, and Brian Viglione on drums are audacious and dramatic, crying out for your attention like a goth kid with food coloring blood stains painted under his eyes. Bold is a word that readily comes to mind when listening to the new single “Backstabber”, Amanda Palmer’s feminist anthem to the male chauvinists of the rock world that is as powerful and poignant as anything Kathleen Hanna (Le Tigre) has written. Yet, what really captures your attention as you listen to the Dresden Doll’s music isn’t the boldness of the songwriting and delivery, but the echoing emptiness between the loud statements. The staccato beats of the drums and the percussive use of the piano and vocals leave an emptiness around the music, and, like the best literature, the white space that surrounds the sentences is just as important as the written statement.

The Dresden Dolls do not create flavor of the moment music, they are serious and challenging and they have a message beyond the obvious dress in black and shave your eyebrows. The Dresden Dolls are trying to say something and they deserve your attention, so open your ears and listen to the whole song.

03 October, 2006

Welcome to the Circus

The musical circus that is. A place where vocal acrobats take hold of the microphone and everyone seems to be acting like a clown. Justin Timberlake is sounding more like Michael Jackson by the day (not necessarily a bad thing!) and The Killers have somehow turned their Las Vegas glam-rock into slightly harder glam arena-rock with lyrics about small-town life (not something I’m complaining about.) Even if you’re enjoying the recent carnivalesque musical landscape, it’s nice to know there are a few bands you can always count on to be weird.

The Lemonheads: These guys have been around for a long time, and the latest incarnation just dropped a self-titled album in September. Evan Dando writes pop-punk that is probably most reminiscent of the Smoking Popes; pretty, witty, and charming. This new incarnation is as good as the first. Dando delivers his lyrics with the sound of vocal boredom (perfected by NPR news anchors) and throws in a psychedelic riff or two. “The Lemonheads” sounds like the kind of album you’d listen to at a party in Munchkinland where everyone is pogoing and singing along in a high voice.

The Munchkin Party Anthem: “December”.

The Hold Steady: I’ve mentioned this band before, but they’re worth mentioning again. Craig Finn delivers his mostly spoken-word vocals with a certain anger and cynicism that pays homage to Jello Biafra, and although the lyrics are not as politically clever as the Dead Kennedys’ they are clever in their own way. The Hold Steady include minute details in their songs; old friend’s names, code-like references to personal incidents, things that I could never hope to fully understand. The truth in these songs; feelings of teenage angst, boredom, anger, and confusion, resonate loudly despite and perhaps because of these individualized tales of youth. The point of the album seems to be that despite the differences and the details, everyone feels these emotions when they’re growing up.

Best Teen Anthem: “The Swish”

The Go! Team: Combine spastic cheerleaders, cartoon theme songs, and the Supremes and you get The Go! Team. This band seems to be trying to convey the message of sunny, happy people chanting over backbeats everywhere. Basically, The Go! Team is the only band I’ve heard who can pull off such a quirky genre combination and not sound ridiculous. Not that ridiculous is necessarily bad, it’s just that these guys retain their street-cred while they’re screaming like cheerleaders. Now that’s talent.

Best Hip-Hop Cheerleader Anthem: “Ladyflash”