Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crazy Heart

I love the genres of punk and country music and yet it completely baffles me that so many kids who are into punk have absolutely no love for country. Three chords. Hell-raising. Personal demons. Working-class music. There's no two genres that could be more similar. And as far as rebellion goes, I'll put country music artists up against any genre of music around. And I'm not talking about the Taylor Swifts or the Kenny Chesneys.

In the early days, country music was defined by the honky tonk sound of Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, etc. up until the 1970's when Nashville began to crank out a more pop, radio-friendly sound that still dominates the airwaves and continues to alienate country music fans to this day. Those who refused to play by Nashville's rules were known as "outlaws" and included names like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Jennings, more than anyone else, epitomized the movement as he was the first to battle Nashville and actually win creative control over his recordings.

2010 will see the release of the film Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges about a country singer in the "outlaw country" mold which I hope will shed more light on the true nature of country music instead of the garbage that is played on the radio. The soundtrack for this film includes: Billy Joe Shaver, Townes Van Zandt, the Louvin Brothers, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, etc. With those names, the Crazy Heart soundtrack could quite possibly be the greatest country music soundtrack in the history of film.

Friday, December 25, 2009


If the Academy Awards committee decides to come up with a new category for most bizarre, fucked-up film of the year, I assure you that Lars von Trier's Antichrist will win in a landslide. I never, ever want to see this movie again.

I went into this movie last night without a clue as to what it was about. The only other movie that I've seen from von Trier was Dancer In The Dark starring Bjork which I thought was a great film. My brain was not really prepared for what I saw last night. Von Trier has been accused of misogyny in his movies and with this film he said that he was going through a deep depression during its creation. Whatever. I didn't pay 7 bucks to psychoanalyze the guy - I went to watch a movie. I'm not easily shocked or offended but I am squeamish and easily annoyed. I did not enjoy this film. If the job of art is to provoke - victory is yours, Lars.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Favorite Songs of 2009

My favorite song of '09 was an easy pick from the second I heard it and I still feel the same about it every time I hear it. Nite Jewel's previous EP is one of my favorites of this decade, but "Want You Back" is her best song yet. Anywho, this is the list of my 10 favorite songs from 2009:

1 - "Want You Back" - Nite Jewel
2 - "The Fear" - Lily Allen
3 - "Stillness Is The Move" - Dirty Projectors
4 - "Solitaire" - Wilco
5 - "Save Me From What I Want" - St. Vincent
6 - "Hideaway" - Karen O. and The Kids
7 - "When I'm Gone" - Vivian Girls
8 - "That Look You Give That Guy" - Eels
9 - "Lady Luck" - Richard Swift
10- "Midnight At The Movies" - Justin Townes Earle

Best Music Video:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Favorite Albums of 2009

Well, it's that time of year again where I narrow down the very few records that I've listened to this year and give you a "definitive" list of what I think is great. I hope you enjoy this crap shoot.

My album of the year is a very divisive one and the negative reviews of it have made me absolutely nuts because it's so far off base. At times I honestly think I like this album better than(yes, hold your breath)Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It may take some time for people to come around, but Wilco(the album) is a masterpiece all the way through and they are chock full of(GASP!)radio-friendly songs. But let's get back to the reviews, shall we?

"The major problem is that this doesn’t sound like a band that’s pushing itself any more, or at least not making the same sort of pushes that lead to the brilliant sucker-punch of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the vastly underrated A Ghost Is Born."
-No Ripcord review

What do you want Wilco to do? Throw pots and pans in the air for the avant garde kitchen sessions? Wait. Is that bacon I hear frying in the background?? Wow! That Jeff Tweedy is an absolute GENIUS!

"To simply not want to skip tracks isn't exactly saying anything."
-Lost At Sea review

Really? Call me crazy, but I usually tend to skip a track if I don't like a song. You are lost in the coconut, my man.

"Wilco is a Great Band, if you like stuff that’s boring. And a lot of people seemingly do."
-Dusted Magazine review

If you're 19 and have ADD, I'm pretty sure Wilco is not for you. I, on the other hand, like to drink homemade lemonade from my porch while eating a BLT from tomatoes I grew in my garden. Different strokes for different folks. I'm pretty sure a Hank Williams album would be snoresville for you as well.

"Wilco (The Album) isn’t a failure--not by any means--but when a band has become so attached to the notion of change and then stagnates, it casts a heavy shadow that’s hard to escape."
-Tiny Mix Tapes review*

*See above response to No Ripcord review review

I honestly don't care if you like Wilco(the album) or not, the point I'm making is that music can be simple, radio-friendly, dad-approved and enjoyable(yes, hipsters, I'm talking to you).

Fever Ray - Fever Ray
This is my runner-up - a dark, isolated classic from Karin Dreijer Andersson.

Everything Goes Wrong - Vivian Girls
Many reviews of this album will tell you it's a "grower" and it's true. It took me a while to warm to this album but once it grabs you, you're hooked.

Mind Raft EP - Deradoorian
The travesty of this EP is not the lame pitchfork review but the fact that pitchfork was one of the very few to review it at all. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece by the multi-instrumentalist of the Dirty Projectors.

Actor - St. Vincent

Fits - White Denim
Austin's own keep getting better.

Hombre Lobo - Eels

Midnight At The Movies - Justin Townes Earle
Please don't associate country music with what you hear on the radio. They would never play a guy like Justin Townes Earle. And there's a whole crop of these folks that are actually good who toil in the underground away from Nashville.

Truelove's Gutter - Richard Hawley

Ashes Grammar - A Sunny Day In Glasgow

Albinis vs. USPS

Steve Albini is the lead singer of Shellac, the highly influential band out of Chicago, and he's one of the most sought after producers in music today(he produced Nirvana's In Utero). He's also considered to be one of the biggest assholes in music, but in a recent Chicago Tribune report it seems that Albini is anything but as he and his wife, Whinna, pack a rented van loaded with cash, toys, and clothing and distribute it to the needy in his hometown of Chicago every Christmas.

"People have all kinds of bad luck, and there are only a small number of ways they can be helped through institutional programs or government programs," Albini said. "With us, people don't have to stand in line, fill out forms or justify themselves to a bureaucrat."

The funds are raised at an annual Second City charity event through audience member donations, which Second City matches, as well as a round-the-clock fundraiser that features musicians and comedians. The largest chunk of the money comes from an auction in which audience members bid for an in-house concert by Wilco frontman, Jeff Tweedy.

But, alas, Scrooge has appeared this year in the guise of the U.S. Postal Service. You see, through the century-old "Letters to Santa" program, Albini's wife is able to wade through the thousands of letters sent to "Santa" to find the neediest of families and then make their charitable deliveries from there. But a policy change by the post office has changed all of that. Citing privacy and security concerns, the names and addresses of "Dear Santa" letters are now blacked out which will now make it virtually impossible for "Santa" to find their homes.

Mark Reynolds, a spokesperson for the Postal Service in Chicago, said that the policy was altered last Christmas after a convicted sex offender in Maryland picked up a letter written by a young girl. Well, how about this post office - don't let convicted sex offenders rifle through your mail, geniuses. The post office already requires ID before taking a "Dear Santa" letter, so why don't you take a little more time to go online and see if they are, actually, a convicted sex offender. Trust me, the post office has no trouble in taking their own sweet time in doing things.

However, because of this new policy, the post office is now offering to deliver your "Dear Santa" donations.

Whinna Albini said the idea of mailing the gifts is laughable. Some of the apartments they've visited in the past had no functioning mailbox. In other instances, a large package would be stolen by neighbors almost immediately, she said.

"Just the idea of mailing a gift, it almost makes me think the postmaster general has never been to a housing complex," Whinna said. "If there's no human contact, it will kill the program."

I, personally, find it odd that a cash-strapped institution such as the post office is killing a program like "Dear Santa" yet somehow finding a way around it by offering to deliver your donations if you simply pay the postage on it. Merry Christmas.