Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Crash Course in Indie Music

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
If you haven’t heard about these guys, you had better put on your fleet feet and sprint to catch up to the fucking wagon. If you were a big fan of The Talking Heads, well, you’d better do the same. This band is going to fucking explode, probably the biggest underground buzz I’ve seen since Interpol, and they’re MUCH peppier; I even threw away all my razor blades. If this song doesn’t get your head nodding and your foot tapping, you’re probably just plain deaf. A dead-on driving drum beat, simple and clean rhythm guitar work, and insidious whining vocals bring this song together into a fantastic orgy of positivity. If you needed any further proof, the NBC show “The Office” featured a party scene in which this song was in the background.


Dreamend - "Slide Song" and “The Old House & Its Occupants
This misty, grave-faced band from Chicago blew me away when I first heard "Slide Song" and “the Old House & Its Occupants.” I felt like I had just walked into a ghost jazz club and when the songs ended all the ghosts would hold me down and suck out my soul. Fortunately, this treat doesn’t stop with these songs. The above tracks only serves as a vocal break between tremendous movements of violently contrasting drum work that slaps and hammers your wandering imagination to follow the plunky lead guitar as it spirals its way down into the deep echoing guitarwork. The album, “…as if by ghosts,” easily wins one of my Best of 2005 awards for being a terribly intense concept album. You might be tempted to classify it in the “post-[rock]” category, but I think the band members would hang me and offer my soul to Satan if I did that. Dark Side of the Moon is nuts and gum compared to this.


Emperor X - “Garbage Shaft Floor-by-floor
Smart-rock combined with punk; there’s nothing like it that you’ve ever heard. The gritty garage sound of this track combined with the incredible (yet odd) lyrical flow and off-beat drumming create one of the most rocking underground songs I’ve heard in my life. If you need to win a broomball championship game at 2am, or a kickball flipcup competition, this is the song you listen to beforehand.


[you can find the song on the band's website]

Giant Drag - “This Isn’t It
Did someone say Barracuda? No, this isn’t Joan Jett, but this chick rocks just as hard and just beat up Ms. Jett in the parking lot. Don’t be fooled by the simple guitar work or harmonious lyrics (she is a woman after all), these lyrics sink deep and tell a bitter tale of love gone horribly wrong. She is not gonna take any shit, and she wrote a cool song to tell the world about it, so listen to it or else you’re next.


Irving - “I Can’t Fall In Love
Irving. Who? Never heard of ‘em. Damn right. Here’s a one-hit wonder waiting to happen, but regardless, this song is catchy as all hell. It truly reminds me of a mid-90’s I can’t put my finger on, but somehow sounds like a tribute to that song which I can’t think of. You won’t be disappointed.


Jesu - “We All Faulter
So much cheer thus far, let’s make room for some brood metal. What’s brood metal? It’s long-winded, self-indulgent, muted guitarwork dripping with distortion and doomsday vocals. From the mind behind “Godflesh,” Jesu (I suppose Jesus is redundant since Jesu already has an “s”) tears into your soul and eats it instantaneously. Then it vomits a new one for you and makes you eat it. You’re meek, you’re small, you’re hopeless, you should’ve died when you were born. Welcome to Jesu and the horrific introspection that he inspires. Make sure you cue a ramp-up song after this one, or grab the razor blades you threw away after ditching your Interpol albums a few days ago.


Books on Tape - “Grey Matters
It’s often subliminally understood within indie rock pretentia that electronic and sample rock/dance went out about 5 years ago when Moby hit it big, and again when Fatboy Slim paid Christopher Walken to dance to a track off of “Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars.” Well, this “band” (actually a single person) is about to show you that there’s plenty of dark energy left in the flagging electronic scene. Throughout Books On Tape’s individual tracks, you’ll be passed from sinister synth rhythms to hollow beats until you finally reach the precipice from where you’re dropped headfirst onto rock-hard bass. It’s as if the Beastie Boys teamed up with the Crystal Method to beat the shit out of Fatboy Slim, and everyone took a shitload of whipits and red bull in the fray. Enjoy.


British Sea Power - “Carrion
If you can’t make it past BSP’s seemingly homoerotic opener “Men Together Today,” you’re going to miss several gems, including the standout track “Carrion.” I mean holy shit does this band know how to cut through the muck surrounding catchy indie rock. The New Pornographers could take a lyrical (not to mention a wardrobe) lesson from this crew of Londoners. Not nearly as forced as a Decemberists whaler’s chanty, BSP manages to create a simple, catchy melody backed by throaty and peculiar vocals that really gives you the sensation of being shipwrecked on a beach in the 17th century…with a rock band. “Carrion” only makes you want to listen to the rest of the oddly naval album. Check out tracks “Favours in the Beetroot Fields” and the Gregory Maguire’s Oz-inspired “Something Wicked” as a follow up.


The Magnetic Fields - “I Wish I Had An Evil Twin
Somewhere between a Weird Al song and the Crash Test Dummies, The MagFields fantasize about everything their conscience wouldn’t allow in “I Wish I had An Evil Twin.” One of the most “curious” bands around, and who performs entirely drum-free shows (which are rudely interrupted by high-fives sometimes…), decided to toe the folk rock line with their album “i.” On “i,” every song begins with an…”i.” Wee! Either way, this song is pretty cool, and it’ll get a few smiles in social situations that could eventually lead to gay sex. This brings me to another point. Folk is coming back, no matter how you classify it. Decemberists, MagFields,…. All folk. You’ll see. Like MTV News, you heard it here. First.


Mixel Pixel - “At The Arcade
Ever wish you grew up in Bikini Valley, CA? Well, now you can revisit that bizarre fantasy I just had. Mixel Pixel writes a whiny, irreverent homage to teenage life in the Valley with “At the Arcade,” and one to just how random and superficial it is, but viewed from within a 15-year old arcade fan’s mind, tinting the whole sordid affair so that it’s not only forgivable, but humorous, and more intelligible than this run-on sentence.


Okkervil River - “Black
Counting Crows meet The Wallflowers. This Jersey (seriously) band hits the bullseye with this track, not to mention the album. There hasn’t been an acoustically patient band this talented and focused since, well, ever? This track in particular unfurls a blood-boiling tale of abuse and jealously which will easily resonate with any male. If you don’t check out this free tune, you’ve done yourself a serious disservice.


Rogue Wave - "Endless Shovel"
You are a fool if you can’t dig this song. Psych-pop rock genius Zack Rogue (who legally changed his last name to “Rogue”) lays down unbelievably tuney (a new word!) rhythms and harmonies in this lyrically indecipherable track. The entire album culminates to this eventual release of psychokinetic refrain, and it still somehow leaves you wanting to hear it over and over again. No amount of description can do it justice. Another crystal example of a passionate song becoming unwound and ending as if you swore you wrote it in the first place.


Say Hi To Your Mom - “22nd Century
See ya Weezer. This solo New York musician who lives with his mom (still) enjoys writing fuzzy guitar rhythms while singing warm vocals about robots, spaceships, and teenage romance promises over them. There’s nothing you won’t miss about everything else on your ipod while you’re listening to SHTYM. The ignorant youthful expectations and promises just make you want to build your own time machine and travel back to 5th grade (to invest in Google…sigh). Fuck yeah, it’s about time.

[you can find the song on the band's website, too]

a rumination on my access to porn

First read this:

Basically, the Administration is going to try once again to clamp down on the dissemination of "inappropriate material," i.e. porn, using a law it can't pass. So ...

You know what? Fuck bush and fuck the administration. This is the last straw, I'm tired as shit of people trying to take away my porn. If some kid wanders onto a porn site, then he probably meant to, because the last time I accidentally stumbled on a real porn site was about a decade ago when I typed in

If a kid wants to find porn, he's gonna find a way to find porn, and if he doesn't want to, he won't - it's as simple as that. The lengths I've gone to at times, personally, to find porn despite a variety of complex obstacles is embarassing, but I did because I wanted to. And: reality check, teenagers have a sex drive too, so you'd better lock them in that fucking closet when they turn 13, otherwise they might just turn into yet another adult (for instance:,,13509-1995482,00.html).

And, can you really justify a child seeing a boob as inappropriate and illegal whereas the same kid can watch a TV show in which 10 people are killed, not to mention contain low-core sex scenes and constant sex banter? Hell, I can't think of a child who is actually more disturbed by seeing a surprise pair of breasts or simulated fellatio than a guy getting his head blown off. Why? Because nudity and sexuality is a cultural taboo, whereas violence is a universally social crime; ergo the child is actually smarter than the adult. A kid doesn't realize nudity and sex are bad, but still knows that violence is bad; it's as fucking simple as that. Fuck the ostensibly morally superior minority, and bring on the boobs!

All this from a guy who saw Die Hard in the theater when he was 8 years old, too.

The hardest part of a blog entry is figuring out where to start, which is why I always begin by talking to my alter-ego, Benjamin. Benjamin is Simon's brother, whom I pretend to be when I get drunk on U Street. Anyway...

So before I took this job ~1.5 years ago I hadn't really traveled that much, nor have I traveled that much as of the present, but I have been able to see much more of the U.S. than previously. Aforehand, I'd been up and down the East Coast between Vermont and Miami, of which about 1500 of the 2000 miles in between are for shit (see NJ, NY(-C), downstate CT, RI, VA, NC, SC, GA, northern FL). I'd also been to the Midwest aplenty (MI, IN, IL, OH (fuck Ohio)), and in my roadtrip in Senior year of school at UM(ichigan) drove through KY, TN, AL, AK, LA, TX. What's missing? Every state west of the Mississippi. If you've ever traveled through the central, western, or SWern U.S., you will probably have noticed very stark differences.

I've never been to Denver, or for that matter, any of the West or Plains states. I regarded Colorado as filled east to west and north to south with the craggy peaks of the Rockies, and the breadbasket states as tennis court-flat farmland. To my surprise, landing at DIA, the airport as well as the city were in the middle of the dead-flat was Denver. Denver is, yes, a mile high, but it sure as shit doesn't look like it. It is "nestled" conveniently against the shoulder of the continental divide, which actually makes a shitload of sense when you think about why it ever worked as a city (not many people live in the Himalayas, Andes, etc). In fact, probably about 20 miles separate the plains of Denver from the "foothills" of the Rockies. The Great Plains are so flat, in fact, it really blew my mind. Were a road straight enough, and the landscape not altered by human hands, a road really would disappear into a point on the horizon. I mean it's dead fucking flat. But then, to the west, you have these enormous orrogenies (seriously, it's a geologic term) jutting out of the plains like teeth; I mean, it looks like that crazy scene with the knight and later Atrayu in The Neverending Story. I can't even imagine what people like Lewis & Clark first thought when they came upon them (but here's a go at it). "Wow, Lewis, these ironically flat plains must go on forever, we'll surely discover the other side of this continent in NO time at ALL!" "Absolutely." and then... "What the fuck is that? Oh shit are you fucking kidding me? How tall are those fucking things? And oh my god...are those MORE mountains behind them, and they're taller? Oh fuck THIS!" In fact, when seeing the less developed parts of the country, one really has to give a big "fuck yeah" to the original explorers, not to mention the native populations they incidentally killed off.

An aside. If you've ever read Lord of the Rings, you'll have noticed an uncomfortable degree of landscaping described. The problem I always had with that was that I could never picture what he was trying to describe. The reason behind this, I believe, is that I had never seen landforms in any way similar to those in the book. I suppose most people in the world know how a gulch, gully, valley, and cleft differ, but you know what...I don't. I'm guessing that Tolkien was a traveler.

So I wasn't going to Denver, I was going to Boulder, which is nestled even more comfortably in the arms of the easternmost Rockies, in the foothills, I suppose. What surprised me most about the Rockies, other than how immediately they rise from the plains, was how the "foothills" were mountains of their own right, and there are only about two rows of them before you hit the real Rockies you see on Coors Light cans. Back in Maryland I'm used to the slowly rolling hills in the western part of the state ever more slowly revealing haggled mountains worn down over about an eon; this transition occurs on the order of 100 miles for God's sake. In the eastern Rockies, it's about 5 miles.

I am out in Boulder for a sciency conference on astronomy and earth science, and rather than sit through another afternoon glancing wistfully at the peaks out the window, I decided just to rent a fucking car and go driving. After a tip from a friendly local (I think there's only 5 unfriendly locals in all of Boulder), I drove through a winding road at the base of a canyon towards a mountain town named Ward. I really couldn't tell if the road was going up or not, which was a severe concern, since I wanted to see bald eagles and dragons clawing about on the precipitous snowy summits. Then, somewhere along the drive, my ears popped, I guessed I was going up. Then after about 45 minutes of obstensibly beautiful scenery through rugged terrain, I come upon the town of Ward. I'm almost certain that if I stopped in Ward I would've been shot for meat by the still-stranded Peruvian soccer team from the movie/reality Alive. Ward was at about 9500 feet, and apparently somewhere around that altitude, road signs are no longer required by state law, as you would understand if you saw this town. Ward, literally a ghost town (it's populated by about 400 ghosts and a van-full of stoned teenagers), sits protected on the leeward side at the peak of mountain. So I continue on my mystical journey up through Ward and take a turn onto a road towards my next destination, Nederland. The first 10 minutes of the road to Nederland is some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen in my life. Not only was the wind blowing at about 70mph along the ridge of the mountain, but the vistas that opened before me were awe-inspiring. At one point I looked down south over the continental divide, over the shorter foothills, and through a valley east into Colorado and further into Nebraska. I'm a terrible judge of distance, but I must have been able to see at least 300 miles out. If I was Legolas I would've shot an orc. To the west I could see the caps of the real Rockies, poking up higher and higher with their bald white peaks, as if each were struggling to be taller than the next.

As I continued on the road, several other views struck me with enough beauty to throw my purple Chevy Impala rental onto the side of the road and dash into 50mph winds and oncoming traffic to snap pictures that probably will turn out shitty anyways. The funny thing about running any small distance at high altitude is that you won't realize how hard you are struggling to breathe until you stop running about 100 feet from where you started and double over with your hands on your knees to catch your breath. Towards Nederland (apparently a pot-smoking mecca), the road dipped further and further, so I became disappointed that I had reached the zenith of my journey already. As you know, I don't like to peak too early on (that's for the ladies)... Driving through Nederland, I was a bit put off that the town had deceived me, only a mere 8500 feet above sea level. However, the drive back to Boulder reframed my entire impression of this journey. As I dropped closer and closer, the walls of the mountains closed in tighter and tigher upon the winding road, and there were even about 40 different pull-offs spots along the way where locals parked their cars, got out, and started climbing 1000-foot cliff faces right next to the road. How do I know they were rock climbing? I saw them, and it was so badass. In fact, until then I was proud of myself (as a flat-lander, as they call the Plains folk) being able to successfully navigate the road, but this put me to shame. My desire to take pictures led to a few tight traffic spots, but I think it was well worth it, including a badass shot of a shear cliff face with the setting crescent moon just above it.

I'm not really sure what the point of all this is; I guess it's to loquaciously tell ya'll that if you haven't seen the mountains in the West, you haven't seen shit. Also, I always feel that driving is the only way to really understand a place. You can fly to LA, Chicago, Houston, Denver, upstate NY, etc etc and just do your thing you came to do and never get to really understand it. I know that some people don't really care either way, but I'll never understand that. If you take the time, even just half a day, jump in a car, and explore, what you see and experience will really tell you so much more than anything short of living there. When I fly I never feel like I traveled anywhere, more like I jumped in a capsule a la Aliens and arrived at my destination, never having traveled through any space. I suppose, as Tolkien thought, I believe that it's the journey you take that opens the whole world before your eyes.

Some songs are so stupid, so cheesy, or just so fucking bad that the time it takes between hearing the first note and my hand hitting a button to turn it off defies medical explanation as a reflex. This isn’t VH1, this isn’t a countdown, it’s a random list of songs I hate, and therefore also songs that YOU hate, because you don’t have any power of choice when you’re reading my flawless logic; but since what I say is fact, it’s not technically logic because logic is needed to prove things that aren’t obviously true.

There is something about each of these songs that just drove me to immediate insanity when I heard them on the radio. And that means that these songs were actually popular, and people liked them. In fact, people I knew liked these songs, and they will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.In no particular order, and with no mellow, irreverent mid-30’s narrator, and no annoying washed-up Jenny McCarthy to make ugly faces instead of baring her breasts, let’s do this:

Alien Ant Farm, Smooth Criminal.
Ok, big start. I saw the video for this before I heard the song, which in the 90’s was usually a really bad sign. Also, this “band”‘s first hit was a cover song, of Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson also sucks, I don’t care what you say, Michael Jackson sucks, he just plain sucks. He’s not a good musician, and I’m not going to admit he’s “at least good at producing, man.” No, he’s terrible. He’s also not a great dancer; he’s a great body manipulator, but that’s it.

Back to “AAF” (which is what this glop of white boys wrote on their drumheads and t-shirts in the video).
Scene: AAF sitting around the guitarist’s mom’s house one day. “Hey, since we can’t write our own songs, let’s just take someone else’s and make it different in someway!” “Great idea, but whose song!?” “Who’s the most popular pop star of all-time?” “Peter, Paul, & Mary?” “No, besides them.” “Michael Jackson?” “YES!!!” “Now which song?” “Who cares, it’ll be novel! Remember when Marilyn Manson covered Sweet Dreams? It’ll be like 10,000 times more popular because MJ is more popular!” Band together: “COOL!” So began the story of AAF. A few months later their video (which included a number of fisheye band-bending-over-to-camera-on-ground shots) appears on MTV 40 times a day, at which point they begin talking about their next song on TRL, then their jet crashes into a mountain for all intents and purposes and nobody hears of them again.

If you check their website (yep, they’re still around, unfortunately), you’ll see they’re booked solid for one whole show in Ferrum, VA. Ferrum (after mapping it) is a quick 6 hour drive southwest from DC, 3.5 hours west from Richmond, and 2 hours north of Greenboro, NC. In fact, it may as well be on Jupiter, because nobody has ever heard of it. Fuck Alien Ant Farm, fuck AAF, they got what they deserved.

Creed, With Arms Wide Open
Ok, here’s a tricky one. Creed’s first popular album entitled “I’m Not Yet Jesus-Enough” was pretty rocking. It offered a good selection of hard rock songs, moaning vocals, and a fresh sound (which, in retrospect, was a grim portent to the following years in popular music). Lead man Scott Scabies admitted they were a Christian rock band, which everyone seemed alright with as long as it was veiled in badass lyrics like “Demons cluttering around / My face showing no emotion / Shackled by my sentence / Expecting no return / Here there is no penance / My skin begins to burn.” But then they made a second album. At first, the single, “With Arms Wide Open” was tolerable, as it stayed put on the radio.

Then came the video. Holy shit was that a self-indulgent piece of A/V Christ-promoting bullshit. I know EXACTLY what lead man Scabies thought, too. [to himself] “Hey…now that we’re popular…I can use the band’s influence to gather all the lost sheep to the herd, His herd. I owe it to myself, and to them, my fans, who aren’t Christian or otherwise non-practicing.” So Scott grew his hair down to his shoulder blades and created a video which included about 400 different versions of Christ-imagery, including Scott handing a piece of chocolate birthday cake to Jesus in a Nazareth Chucky Cheezes scene. Also, the video exposed just how hokey and trite the music was. That’s it for this one, it doesn’t deserve any further explanation.

Sugar Ray, Fly
Ughhhh….we’re in the dredges now. Sugar Ray’s first album was actually pretty good, but the only people who listened to it were those who received it for Christmas from hip uncles who thought their nieces and nephews liked ‘that new radio song’ “Fly.” So began the invasion of “Fly” (not The Flys, “Got You Where I Want You,” which was kinda cool). I believe this was one of McG’s first music videos. McG is a small asian man who likes bright colors, goofy objects, and shit-eating grins in videos. I think he’s related to Joel Schumacher. The video featured a sexed-up Mark McGrath sidestepping around a rotating apartment with bright pink, bright green, and bright orange furnishings, wallpaper, etc. I think even the sky was fuscia. Mark sang about wanting to ‘fly,’ an unobvious simile to fucking in this case, while a homeless black man rapped unintelligibly in the background about something.

What’s even worse is that this reggae-influenced song was almost left off the album entirely since it didn’t fit in any way with the rest of it, which are all punk rock songs. But, their producer, who was also sucking Michael Eisner’s penis for permission to put Sugar Ray’s new ditty on Disney’s shadowy sister’s, MTV, TRL. Yes that’s right teenagers! Disney owns MTV! Maybe it’s not so controversial and in fact may be the most heavily censored channel aside from the Disney Channel! Fuck you. Point is, this song sucks, and so do you if you ever said “I just want to fly” and chuckled when Mark McGrath made a snide remark during MTV Spring Break model competitions.

Barenaked Ladies, One Week
That’s right, this group of Canadian socialists sucks. Many people love them, and people I've known very well for a long time still love them. It’s like taking the Chinatown bus to New York, or catching your little brother touching the cat inappropriately - it’s awkward to acknowledge and difficult to understand and accept, but probably necessary. ‘One Week’ sets the stage for crappy overplayed radio fungasms in the same vein as Harvey Danger’s “Flag Pole” and Bloodhound Gang’s “Fire Water Burn [aka. the roof is on fire].” When I used to say, “this band blows,” inexorably some quiet thick-rimmed glasses-wearing jackass would start up with, “but the other songs on the album are REALLY good and some are SO deep.” Really? Let’s find out.

Actual lyrics from:
One Week’: You’ll think you’re looking at aquaman / I summon fish to the dish, although I like the chalet swiss / I like the sushi ’cause it’s never touched a frying pan / Hot like wasabe when I bust rhymes.

Long Way Back Home’: I have to go / I already know / Why not spend a week on a star / No time, he can’t get there by car

'Leave’: I’ve informed you to leave / ’cause I can’t afford to lose more sleep / I get ill when I get tired / So I’ll try to rest if you’ll stand guard / Do do do do do do do do whoa / Do do do do do do do [very clever rhyming pattern, is that iambic pentameter?]

Told You So’: A viral infection that can incubate for years / Caused by affection fallen deep into arrears / No medication to procure / Makes me pure, there’s no cure, I am sureOkay, that’s enough for me.

These lyrics are obviously something I wrote in 8th grade with a 12th grade thesaurus. With the exception of Our Lady Peace, Wolf Parade, and a select few, Canadian bands don’t grasp the realities of life below the 112th parallel. They write songs about Santa and bells.

Goldfinger, Here in Your Bedroom
Sometimes there’s a song you initially like, but have a distinct distasteful feeling in the back of your throat that you just can’t figure out. And, as you listen more and more to the song, it becomes more obvious: it’s just a stupid song. This is a good case-in-point. And with lyrics like, “you may change but I still stay the same,” or some variation…look, if you’re going to say anything about change being hard and actually using the word “change,” you may as well turn in your mic.

Smashmouth, All-Star
(silence). Ok, well… (silence). So… (silence). I…(silence). There’s not much to say about this one. Many theses have been written on how Smash Mouth contributed to the collapse of modern society. McG is largely responsible (the little asian guy who directed Sugar Ray's 'Fly'). My roommate sophomore year (Nate) and I once counted how many kneel-down two-fingered across-the-screen swipes the lead singer takes at the camera during this song’s video, I remember it was something in the realm of 25.

Rumor has it the band stole those stupid looking ATVs from the set, too, thinking that their sudden celebrity status afforded them the right to theft. Joke’s on them, because nobody cares about Smashmouth anymore at all, and in fact President Bush’s first State of the Union address called for the ‘full, swift, and decisive removal of all copies of Smashmouth’s sophomore outing, “Astro Lounge,” from the public’s possession, and for those albums to be loaded onto the space shuttle and shot into the Sun.” Unfortunately, this is one of the few things Bush did right, even though it inevitably failed when the shuttle exploded and littered southeast Asia with copies of this shitfest. Intelligence sources believe Kim Jong Il of N. Korea has been using the full track list of Astro Lounge to come up with a song so bad it will make the West surrender before a shot is fired.

I should also note that while searching for the album’s title, added this important tidbit; it should not be overlooked:
“Customers who bought this album also bought:
14:59 ~ Sugar Ray
Sugar Ray ~ Sugar Ray
Floored ~ Sugar Ray"

…Holy cow, I’m good at this.

Nickelback, How You Remind Me, from their freshman album ‘Silver Side Up’
Oh man how I wish I had a Delorean. I included the album title to make a point. The band’s name is “Nickelback.” Their album is “Silver Side Up.” Now let’s make some assumptions. Nickelback is aware of their name’s derivation being “nickel” and “back,” thus the back of a nickel. They know that nickels are silver, at least in color, not in composition [nickels are made of…nickel, atomic element no. 28]. Nickels are silver-colored on both sides. Ok. Now let’s check out the title again, “Silver Side Up.” Oh ok, this could be some intended play on words. But none really make sense. My guess is that Nickelback was trying to be tricky and playful by suggesting that no matter what, their band would always be popular, or at least will have a great prominence, logically based on their choice of band name.

Anyway, “How You Remind Me” was terrible, and not at all different from Seven Mary Three’s "Cumbersome,” whose lead guitarist and vocalist had been playing guitar for only 2 years when the album dropped. Also, the lead singer of Nickelback is named Chad, which is a dick name.

Some underperforming Chad’s from over the years:
Chad Henne, UMich quarterback;
Chad (neighbor), unassuming jackass;
Chad (northeast African country), a desert-covered battle-ridden wasteland.

That’s perfect logic ladies and gentlemen.

Blind Melon, No Rain

If you couldn’t tell from the video, this band had no idea what the hell it was about. Everyone praised this group of drugged-up hippies for their mold-breaking bumblebee girl music video and acoustic love rock album, even though nobody knew what the hell they meant with either. Lesson 1: hippies do not have sufficient attention-span to create music or video understandable whilst sober. Lesson 2: hippie bands who spring up in the middle of a decade of decadent heroin use will suffer the same fate as their hard rock counterparts. Lesson 3: Blind Melon sucked.

I’m sorry that the lead singer died, that does blow, since no band no matter how bad deserves that kind of thing [except true bastards like Rick James and Frank Sinatra], and I also kind of liked their rocking follow-up on the next album “Galaxy.” Unfortunately, singer Rachel or whatever (he had a girl’s name) didn’t listen to or watch the video for “Galaxy,” which fiercely warned of the danger of needle-drug use, and he died less than a year later from a heroin overdose. Nevertheless, "No Rain” washed away as quickly as it came and nobody thought of it until this article was featured on CNN two weeks from now.

The Cardigans, Love Fool
I had to suffer through an hour-long set of this flaky fairy-rock band before seeing Better Than Ezra about 4 years ago. What a lackluster bunch of crap that was. The lead singer seemed like she was about to fall asleep at any moment, and the guitarist performed most of his set by satellite sitting on a couch in his home in Malmo, Sweden. The drummer simply didn’t show up because he took too many quaaludes. Love Fool ended up in exactly seven Meg Ryan movies in 1999, and then they disappeared due to an act of God. They had a lot of trouble claiming damages on their insurance policy because of it.

Meredith Brooks, Bitch

She’s a bitch, and she wants everyone to know about it. A weary end to the short-lived and clunking girl rock fad.

OMC, How Bizarre

In Junior year of high school, a group of us guys went down the beach with some girls we know, some of whom were our girlfriends. The dudes in the hotel room below us were a year older and far stupider, but far brighter when it came to keeping our girls entertained. They played OMC’s ‘How Bizarre’ incessantly for 4 days straight and managed to lure most of our girls (except the fat and ugly ones, smartly) downstairs to their place to listen to this awful song on repeat. No other song on that CD was ever played. I can’t imagine why.

The fact that 16 year-old high school girls wooed over this song is evidence enough that it is awful, but I’ll supply some further evidence if you’d like. This is OMC’s only album. It would be an obvious move to create another album after capitalizing on such a simple song as “How Bizarre,” so why did OMC not do so? Perhaps because the band featured a New Zealand-born middle-class Los Angeles resident pretending to be a Mexican gangster from El Barrio? Couldn’t be.

The Verve Pipe, Freshman

The main reason to include this song/band is because it confused a generation of music listeners between “the good Verve” and “the bad Verve.” The Verve Pipe is “the bad Verve,” The Verve is “the good Verve.”

The Verve Pipe is a band from west-central Michigan who now resides where they came from. The Verve is an English band rooted in classic-rock who wrote the song “Bittersweet Symphony” and who broke up not long after they became big because the Rolling Stones were greedy assholes. The Verve Pipe wrote a song about being Freshman and being in love, etc., so highschoolers everyone were required under curricula to adhere to its popularity. Even though the song is actually about a teenage girl who has an abortion without the consent of the father and then kills herself with sleeping pills out of guilt, youngsters everywhere took it upon themselves to dilute and translate it into their inane and carefree lives. "The Freshman" then became prom songs, senior graduation themes, and Freddie Prince Jr. emotional epiphany moments. Probably played on the radio more times than it’s rained in London, I got pretty sick of this misinterpreted and poorly written sob song.

It should be noted that The Verve Pipe’s 1993 effort was entitled “Pop Smear,” and that their current website is selling a seemingly bootleg compilation CD of similarly shitty and forgettable songs which I actually forgot to include. Thanks to the 40-year old members of The Verve Pipe for the unintentional assistance!

1. John Mayer - "My Stupid Mouth"
2. Tabitha's Secret (Matchbox 20) - "3 AM"
3. Better Than Ezra - "Good"* (exception)
4. Five For Fighting - "Easy Tonight"
5. Shannon Worrell - "Eleanor"
6. Vertical Horizon - "Man Who Would Be Santa"
7. Train - "Meet Virginia"
8. The Gufs - "Give Back Yourself"
9. The Verve Pipe - "Spoonful of Sugar"
10. Shawn Mullins - "Lullaby"
11. Guster - "Window"
12. Hootie & The Blowfish - "Old Man & Me"
13. Cary Pierce - "Vineyard"
14. Edwin McCain - "Solitude

New Radicals, You Get What You Give

The big finish! These guys were somewhere between inverse Oreo’s and dorks. I mean, they tried really really hard to seem badass in their video and touch up their image, but you could see right through this talentless ragtag gaggle of Midwestern dopes. I just know that the guitarist wore anime t-shirts and a trenchcoat when they weren’t on camera. The lead singer (even on camera) wore white sneakers, black bellbottoms, and a deep v-necked, black, long-sleeve shirt, reminiscent of Zorro. To top it off, literally, he wore a floppy tan beach hat. Like, what the mother of fuck? And to boot, the song’s video featured them frolicking around a closed mall pretending to rough up the place.

I think they might have knocked a few leaves off of the fake plastic trees, at most. Their hearts just weren’t in it. I imagine that the song itself was some reflective message on the reciprocity of one’s deeds in life, and intended to inspire a youthful generation to follow in their fashionable example. Of course, the members were about 18 years old when they wrote this song, so perhaps they found out later that getting what you give also applies to writing albums and were thus doomed to one-hit wonderhood. But then again, their downfall may also be due to this perturbative event in June of 1999: (clipped from an unofficial Angelfire New Radicals fan site, the last trace of their existence apparently) “It has just been announced that Gregg Alexander (lead singer) has reportedly locked himself in a basement and canceled all tour dates.”
WELL, THAT WAS A MINDFUCK: A story of a viewing of the film 'Donnie Darko'

To begin with, if you've seen the movie "Donnie Darko," (hereforth, "DD") read no further, because I'll spoil the shit out of it for you. I'd enjoy doing that, so if you are so averse to conflict that you will take bullshit from people over the internet, then keep reading no matter what.

Anyway, let me set the stage. My Chilean girlfriend Dana and I ordered DD from Netflix about 3 weeks ago, knowing nothing about the movie but hearing great things about it. I heard it was "fucking hilarious, " and she heard it was "fucking great," among other "fucking [adj.]" combinations. Obviously, fucking was the lowest common denominator of DD, and anyone that knows me for 5 minutes knows that I won't pass on a movie with that much fucking. So it takes us 3 weeks to watch it, and against my better judgment, I decide not to go out on Saturday, Halloween night for the non-student working class mid-20's cross-section. But we don't start watching the movie until about 1130pm, so the movie continues on well into the late night of October 30.

So the movie begins more or less with a delusioned (literally) Jake Gyllenhall (I made no attempt to spell his name correctly) as Donnie Darko (the tragic hero, albeit it one with a very uncreative last name), at dinner with his typical American family, arguing with his sister and using many naughty words such as "fuck." Then he goes to bed and sleep walks, narrowly avoiding an odd instance of a jet engine crashing into his bedroom yet remaining intact and landing on his bed. During his wanderings, he's told by a psychotic authoritative man-sized rabbit that the world will end in 28 days. The day he is told this is October 2. The movie more or less countsdown to October 30 at this point.

During these 28 days (later - see zombies), Jake, I mean Donnie, discovers how to see into the future after a secret screening of The Abyss in his basement, then vadalizes his school, and also burns down a pedophilic motivational speaker's house. As it all adds up to October 30, Jake, I mean Donnie, slowly begins to piece together how the world is a big deterministic cause-effect chain (not a tree), and searches for a way to save himself from dying alone during the End. As an ultimate result of his ill-fated search, Donnie's girlfriend gets run over by a dude on Halloween eve who is dressed in a demented rabbit costume (also seen in Independence Day), who he quickly shoots in the left eye (an impressive distance shot for a novice). The movie turns a screw, Donnie travels back in time and decides to lie in his bed and sleep soundly the night of October 2/October 30 when all the shit goes down with the jet engine, thus sacrificing himself, facing his only fear (a theme of the motivational speaker) of dying alone, and obviating all collateral harm/death to others and avoiding personal grief.

Needless to say, it's an incredibly unsettling film, not to mention bizarre and difficult to follow. All in all, it makes one question the scope of tragedy in life, and puts you in the uncomfortable position of someone who is increasingly delusioned about something so seemingly trite as the end of the world. But rather than leading towards a scattered perception of reality, the movie (and Donnie's purpose) converges as Donnie finally takes the world by the balls and sacrifices himself for everyone's salvation; though it can be said that he finds his own, as well.

So in conclusion, an extremely introspective movie about forseeing one's death and its consequences, and being able to choose in retrospect of options therein, all while exploring the tapestry of human existence and God, motivated by an imagined psychotic bunny rabbit who foretells of a culmination of events to a Doomsday on October 30, the same night I watch the film. Now that's "fucking weird."
by Count Langenhoffen

An Aviary (capitalized because I would own it, and everything I own instantly accords pronoun status) is a large enclosure filled with trees and such for the purpose of enclosing birds. You've seen aviaries in such blockbuster classics as Jurassic Park 3 (dazzlingly directed by Joe Johnston, between October Sky and Hidalgo) and The Haunting (which features a pre-celebrity Owen Wilson decapitated by a haunted fireplace[seriously]). So essentially the birds think they can fly through the webbed steel forming the aviary, but it turns out that steel reacts to birds the same way it does to everything else; they hit it, fall, and usually die. BUT, as Darwin taught us, the next generation of birds will know how the system works, and shall obey it unflaggingly, and so they become the living attraction of said Aviary.

Now, my Aviary will be fucking enormous; not because the birds need room to fly, but because I'm a big guy. In fact, my Aviary will be devoid of those dirty ornithological rats. If birds find a way into my Aviary, it's probably entirely coincidental. As soon as you walk into my Aviary you'll be confronted by some kind of spike or boulder trap; notice I use "you," since I would never fall for my own traps. If you make it past the trap(s?), you'll notice the air is pungent with a tenebrous pall, due in large part to the still black pond to your right and the cobwebbed man-sized iron cages squeaking longingly towards the floor which are numerous and hanging from the roof. Spiders are rampant, though not so many so as to draw your attention too much from an omniaural moan permeating the wispy white fog. There's some wilting shrubbery that's not been clipped for years, but its plainly obvious they were shorn to resemble souls writhing in the fires of Hell. Twisted trunks of half-dead trees litter the place haphazardly; there's a pretty cherry blossom, too (for contrast by juxtaposition). This is obviously just to create the mood for my Aviary, so that the next door neighbor's kids feel compelled to breach my Aviary. Then, once inside, they'd be forced to serve me (not sexually) until their premature death or embark as a group on a dangerous quest for a pirate ship full of gold hidden in a secret cave within the sewers of the town. If none of the kid's are Asian, then they won't have the quest option, since no one can convincingly yell, "Booby traps!"

Now, being a business-minded person, considering the logistics of maintaining a model aviary requires some serious rumination. First, manpower. Simple. Pay some poor Polish countrymen to immigrate over and upkeep my aviary (I wouldn't use "Aviary" in the newspaper ad so as not to stir suspicion). Their rudimentary belief in the spirits of the Old Country would surely remain alight as they torment in my hellish Aviary. And while they toil and cry out at spirits nonexistent, they'd come to me begging to allow their indenture to end. I, of course, would grow to twice my size and cackle ghoulishly at their simple beliefs and hilarious terror. I might allow them put a bird in my Aviary if they agree to stop being fed, but the odds that they learn conversationl English are slim to none.

Another important logistic is always making sure the troops are officious in their duties, so once in awhile I'd release a pack of hounds or swarm of locusts into the Aviary. I might also release one of those badass string-tripped swinging log traps that did in the Predator, and I think also may have taken care of Benicio's character in the cinematic feast that is The Hunted.

If the INS or similar got too hot on my Aviary, I'd just cover it with a tarp whenever they came by looking for missing Poles. If they ask what's under the tarp I'd probably just make the whole damn thing send itself into another dimension, and then return when everyone's not looking.

What's most important for an Aviary is, of course, having a secret room where you crossbreed various hapless animals via torture. There'd be strungup bunny rabbits, kittens, otters, dolphins, parrots (since they can talk), chicken (in the form of buffalo wings in the freezer), and then a couple of random beating cows' hearts connected to more electrodes than seems necessary for good measure. I'd also pay Edgar Allen Poe's great grandson to sit in a tall black chair and read aloud The Telltale Heart and The Raven at odd temporal intervals. When the creatures I manifest are ready to unleash doom upon the world, I'd make sure they go straight for the places of worship, just to fuck with everyone's psyche.

One last item, let's throw in some gargantuan pterodactyls with lasers attached to their shoulders like those Dinobots.

I feel that building from this simple Aviary template, I'll have countless hours of entertainment to tide me over until my battleship is complete.