I'm still not sure that anyone actually reads this, but I noticed that I had the settings so that you couldn't comment if you weren't a registered user of blogspot. That's bullshit, and I changed it. So feel free, if you read this, to post comments to support me, argue with me, tell me about shit, or call me an asshole.

Better post to come soon, but probably not this weekend...it's going to be a long one!!

Happy Labor Day. For those of you that are working on it, think about the irony and piss off your boss a lot.



Best Breakup Album

The Format - Dog Problems
Probably not what you were thinking of after reading this title. Understandable, but equally regrettable.

Not many people know about this small-time Arizona band. Hell, I found them on accident. I was in Myrtle Beach surrounded by those wannabe punk/emo/artsy young girls who go from staring depressingly at the floor to shrieking with joy when they're favorite boy with dyed-black hair plastered at an angle across his forehead takes the stage to croon about the last girl who dumped him because he was a whiny little...

Sorry, got carried away there for a second. I was waiting to see Motion City Soundtrack. I was contemplating slitting my own wrists as I watched two untalented "rock" bands wear matching hoodies and yell about how their rich, suburban life was so hard because daddy didn't understand them. I wanted to write the whole concert off...a $24 wasn't worth sinking into a deep pit of depression and teenage angst.

Finally, the third opening band. (Side-note: is it ever really necessary to have three opening bands?? Everybody came to see the main band. We all know that. One band to get the crowd excited. That's it. Stop the charades, already.) No long swooping hair cuts; no matching hoodies; to tight t-shirts and women's jeans. This is when I fell in love with The Format.

Their latest album, Dog Problems, is the best breakup album I have ever heard. Maybe it's just my skewed experience on the subject, but these fellas from Arizona characterize a bad breakup perfectly.

In 47 minutes, lead singer Nate Ruess pushes the listener through a carnival of bitterness, betrayal, breakup and, finally, freedom.

I could easily dissect each of the 12 songs, but instead I will split them into halves: the carnival, and the clean-up.

The first six songs (carnival) are the crescendo at the end of the relationship that finally explodes in the seventh song, "Dog Problems." This half of the album sounds like a depressing carnival, with melancholy lyrics accompanied by full horn lines and stride piano lines. Ruess sets up the personal nature of the album in the first lines of "I'm Actual": "Can we take the next hour and talk about me?"

"Dog Problems" is the climax. You could even find the point in this song where the demeanor changes from sadness to acceptance to happiness: "B is for believing you'd always be here for me/E is for everything, even when we'd see it through/ C, C is for seeing through you, you are a fake, which brings me to/A, because, because you always run away."

Gone is the carnival -- we've moved on. A solid pop-rock form carries us through the last half of this album, characterizing the balance the writer/singer has finally found after all the bullshit.

I could write so much more about this, but it's 2:33 in the a.m. and I have class in the morning. Instead, I'll leave you with some of my favorite lyrics from the album and with the hope that you will do whatever it takes to pick up this album. It's as beautiful musically as it is lyrically.

"Snails see the benefits, the beauty in every inch. Oh why, why-oh-why-oh-why, are you quick to kiss?"

"Tick-tock, you're not a clock. You're a time bomb, baby, a time bomb, baby, oh."

"I started sending you a note. Oh, how I hope that you're happy. I hear you're somewhere in the sand, and how I wish I was an ocean. Maybe then I'd get to see you again."

"Meet me in the middle. Well c'mon, let's make up a dance. And we'll agree to call it the compromise."



Arizona, Pat McGee and the Hill

When I said I wouldn't blog for a while, I didn't mean a week. Ooops. I guess that stuff happens when I get set loose on the Hill. Anyhoo, a quick update: I'm moved into my sweet new apartment with a nice stereo, and all my CDs and a couple of guitars in my room. I think this may be the perfect way to live. It's great to be finally out on my own in the place I love and some of my favorite people around me.

I know I mentioned them in an earlier post, but I have really fallen in love with Arizona. Their CD Welcome Back Dear Children finally came in the mail and was in my car for four straight days. They have this great lighthearted sound that brings together all the things that I love about music: good beat, fun catchy lyrics, and perfect melodies. I can't help but compare them to Belle and Sebastian, but that doesn't mean that this album is Dear Catastrophe Waitress Pt. Deux. These guys aren't signed yet, but I think that adds to the enjoyment I get out of these guys: to know that they are doing it for the love of it, and they're doing the grunt work. Much love to the boys and the best luck that I can possibly send their way.

On another musical note, check out Pat McGee Band. I've seen them live a few times, once at an campus block party, once with Sister Hazel and once with my favorite band of all time, SK6ers. I finally got a couple of their albums from a friend who had been hoarding them for months. They're nothing ground breaking, but you have to respect the music. It's good acoustic-rock with some O.A.R. influence. Check out their stuff if you get a chance, and their live show is definitely worth the ticket.

Finally, I just finished reading my first Hunter S. Thompson book yesterday, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and was blown away. This Gonzo journalism is the most amazing stuff I've ever read. I have a feeling he will definitely be an influence on my writing, especially if I get into novel writing. I found a great quote by him towards the end of the book that I think is hilarious and oh-so-true, even though it bashes my major and future profession. He has a point that no one can argue against:
Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits--a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.
Read his books. It must happen.

That's all for now, I'm wiped after a long weekend.



Elton John and the Internet

Thanks to Stereogum for this little quote in their "Bigmouths Strike Again" segment. The good Sir Elton John had interesting things to say about the internet and it's effect on people and social interactions. I don't know how reasonable his hiatus idea is, but I have to say I think it'd be an interesting social experiment. I'll have to agree with the Sir here. What do you think?

The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision. It’s just a means to an end. We’re talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that’s not going to happen with people blogging on the internet. I mean, get out there — communicate. Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. There’s too much technology available. I'm sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today.

I promise I'm done for the night, or possibly for the weekend...we'll see.


Concert Review Controversy

I regularly read a blog by local music critic/writer David Menconi called On the Beat. It's a great way for me to keep in touch with the local scene and hear about some great new and old Triangle bands I'd never known.

Yesterday he blogged about the recent John Mayer/Ben Folds show in Raleigh that I decided to skip out on because I didn't want to ruin what was the magic of my first Ben Folds show in Chapel Hill this year. Anyway, his review of the show was pretty much what I would have said: Folds was great, Mayer was kinda boring. He got tons of replies saying he was crazy for saying that, asking if he was at the same show they were, and yelling at him for praising the vulgar and offensive Ben Folds.

I gave him a little comment agreeing with him, and he sent me a link to this article he wrote years ago called "Critical condition: a few thoughts on reviews." As a journalism major and aspiring music journalist, I loved this piece. People expect critics to have some kind of universal scale on which to measure music. That's not possible. Music is about experience and emotion, and can be different for each person listening to it. I'm not going to say much more, because his article says it all for me.


Sousaphone Hero and Good Bands

This is great, and makes me ridiculously happy, no matter how false it is. Much love for the sousas.

I've had quite a lot of things I wanted to blog about lately, but not enough time to do it. I've been getting new music like crazy and wanting to talk about it all, but I'm in the middle of getting packed and ready to move into my new apartment in Chapel Hill. Instead of blogging about all those bands, I'm going to compile a list of bands/artists you should know and love if you don't already. Maybe at some point after this chaotic move I'll tackle each group, but for now here's the list:

The Great Outdoors
The National
Bishop Allen
Page France
The Brunettes
New Motels
Old Crow Medicine Show

That should get you started. Enjoy the great music!!!


My Latest Obsession: Arizona

No, not the state, though I've heard it's lovely there, except for the whole 100+ degree thing.

Since I've gotten my external hard drive (a lifesaver for a music junkie like me) I've been downloading a lot of new bands that I read about on blogs. It's a good way to hear new stuff, discover new bands and see what else is out there for free. Today I was doing just that when I stumbled on one of the best indie-pop-rock bands that I've heard in a while: the NYC-born/Asheville, NC-based quintet, Arizona.

Quick sidenote, I think it's interesting that Asheville is slowly becoming the NC indie music mecca. With a lack of good venues in the triangle (save the few in Chapel Hill/Carrboro) and, I guess, general lack of interest, so many good bands have passed up the Triangle on tour and opted to play in one of the many good medium-sized venues in Asheville. I wish the Triangle would get their ass in gear. I'm tired of missing great shows or traveling three hours to see them.

Anyway, Arizona weave together fragile harmonies and soft acoustic melodies to create the sound you would hear if musical fairies were dancing through a dewy meadow on a spring morning. Yeah, that metaphor was a bit out there. Suffice it to say that they're one of those bands that you find yourself smiling and bobbing your head to. If you haven't heard of them, do not be ashamed. The band is still unsigned and they're debut album and two EPs were all self-released. Hands down, they are the best unsigned band I've ever heard, and the best band that you've never heard.

I'm here to change that now.

Here's the video for a "Pant = Whisper" off their first EP The Sun and the Room.

You can check out other videos of the band and listen to some streaming tracks on their Myspace page. Do it now, it will make you a better person...ok, maybe not, but it will make me happy.