Short Attention Span Theater

Come inside, come inside. There’s some musical philosophy, a review of a free EP, a rant against posers, fun, frivolity, and a whole heaping helping of snark.

Poppin’ Off on the Top

This week’s Top 10 Hot Modern Rock Singles, as per

1. Foo Fighters, “Long Road to Ruin”
Not to offend all the Grohl Trolls out there, but I keep wanting to be as impressed by the Foos as everyone else seems to be and I’m still not getting it. I loved the first album when it came out; I was too young and stupid to realize I was listening to Nirvana’s reject bin. Every album since then, they’ve delved more and more into power pop to the point that I’m a little embarrassed to call them “rock” anymore. Dave is a talented songwriter and musician, and his side projects rarely if ever miss. His voice, though, is just too soothing and sedate to do justice to the songs he’s writing. If “Long Road to Ruin” was made by Maroon 5 or someone rather than a band that everyone already respects, it would be written off as the lightweight trifle that it really is.

2. Linkin Park, “Shadow of the Day”
Jesus. Speaking of a band that’s still popular just because they used to be popular. Anyone who claims to like this tacky piece of melodramatic pap is seriously deluded. I know you probably wrote “Linkin Park 4EVER!” in whiteout on your backpack in 2001 but you’re just embarrassing yourself by supporting unmotivated filler like this. I’m sure that I’ll hear this song on a continuous loop in Hell.

3. Puddle of Mudd, “Psycho”
Oh shit, don’t look. Maybe if they don’t know we’re here they’ll go away again. For some reason I thought modern rock was getting better. I need to lay off the narcotics.

4. Seether, “Fake It”
While the song itself is serviceable if I’m being nice, its simple existence makes me happy. For those not in the know, Seether’s singer used to date Amy Lee of Evanescence (Don’t email me if I spelled it wrong. You cannot fathom how little I care.). They broke up, and she wrote “Call Me When You’re Sober” about him. While under any other circumstances I’m a staunch feminist, I call this song the Co-Dependent Bitches Anthem. “If you loved me, you’d be right here with me”? Sure, unless he has a career or friends or a life that involves someone other than you, you narcissistic cum dumpster. So dude writes “Fake It” in response. I’m sure that 90% of the people who listen to “Fake It” probably have no idea what or who it’s about, but the fact that the same co-dependent nutcutters that probably had “Call Me When You’re Sober” as their ringtone in 2006 are probably rocking out to “Fake It” right now fills me with a smug satisfaction.

5. Paramore, “crushcrushcrush”
Definitely the catchiest song on this list. Even though they get promoted like a manufactured bubblegum emo band, I get a sneaking suspicion that Paramore are the real deal (although in interviews, the little singer girl sounds like she’s not fully aware she’s in a band). The lyrics are all out of a high school romance drama, but they aren’t as literal and obvious as a lot of their peers. I’d put good money on this band actually aging well, and in 5 or 10 years releasing an album that won’t be nearly as successful as what they’re doing now but will get critical acclaim and put them in a position that, say, Nada Surf or Silverchair are in now. Either that or they’ll turn out to be a typical run-of-the-mill emo confection that will sink like a stone when this trend ends. Either way, “crushcrushcrush” is catchy.

6. Foo Fighters, “The Pretender”
See what I mean? Dave lets a little thrash into his voice and the song rocks three times harder than their average song. Eventually Grohl’s hardcore and metal roots will manifest into something other than Probot and the Foos will release their equivalent of Metal Machine Music. All the trustafarians and fairweather Grohl Trolls will drift away and we’ll all see who really respected him to begin with.

7. Jack Johnson, “If I Had Eyes”
Jack Johnson, I think, fulfills a vital need for music these days. Even though Sleep Through the Static is supposed to be his “negative” album, not enough people are making uncynical positive music. There’s been this asinine assumption for way too long that for music to be “raw” and have “real emotion” it needs to be angry or depressive. The only people who counteract that are dunderheaded pop stars whose music has all the real emotion of the Burger King jingle; or reflexive reactionaries like The Polyphonic Spree who turn positivity into a gimmick and bury it under too many layers of irony. Reading Johnson’s recent Rolling Stone feature and getting a feel for the kind of simple mellow life he lives, which I am more envious of than any smokebeaten rawkstar hedonism, definitely shows that Jack Johnson’s the real shit. And remember the Curious George soundtrack he did? Yes, parents, you should be playing his records to your kids, specifically in the car (and not a new one with DVD players in every crevice) on the way to the beach or the mountains. Jack Johnson evokes a simple and beautiful world that your little sugar-hooked video game junkies may never know.

8. Rise Against, “The Good Left Undone”
When I first heard Rise Against (live, opening for Strung Out in the summer of ’02) I HATED them. They played an anemic set and they seemed way too impressed with themselves. All the recorded output I’ve heard by them has had me eating crow, because they are political in the only way I can tolerate politicism in music anymore—subtle and not preachy. They use time shifts like brushstrokes in a painting, without the jarring effect that hardcore bands seem to love playing to Teutonic aggro-nerds that need to get laid. “The Good Left Undone” isn’t quite “Prayer of the Refugee” but it reminds me of better days when modern hardcore-punk wasn’t so self-conscious. It’s also refreshing to see an act in the punk idiom that understands the power of a hook without trying to neuter it into a chant or anthem—which doesn’t mean that you can’t chant to this song and it isn’t an anthem, because you can and it is.

9. The Bravery, “Believe”
I really dug “An Honest Mistake” a few years ago but I was convinced that The Bravery were one-trick ponies and their retro-cool New Romantic imitation wasn’t going to last. The single “Time Won’t Let Me Go” showed that behind their hipsterism they was some real songwriting talent, and add to that “Believe”, which also shows hit-making talent. This is the kind of song that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it spins the hell out of it, and it’s the kind of track U2 only wishes they could still make. Plus, I’ll give singer Sam Endicott credit because it was such a scandal amongst the Pitchfork-by-way-of-TMZ crowd a few years ago that he used to be in a ska band; that ain’t a bad thing, goddammit.

10. Avenged Sevenfold, “Almost Easy”
All the metalheads I know seem to think that A7X jumped the shark after M. Shadows shredded his vocal chords and had to start singing rather than screaming, but to me that just made them distinguishable and I think Shadows sounds appropriately ugly to match the gutter-rainbow sleaziness of their sound. The only thing about this album that gets me, as opposed to City of Evil (the only new metal CD I’ve paid for since the last millennium), is that now they sound like they’re trying to do a retro-’80s metal thing rather than sounding like the real deal. The chorus to “Almost Easy” is too flowery and harmonic to sound like anything a real hesher would rock, although the rest of the track is the kind of don’t-fix-what-ain’t-broken simple metal beast that would have got Beavis & Butthead off the couch 15 years ago.

Song for the Thong

What I like to listen to when making love lately: “Shadowboxer” by Fiona Apple. While the lyrics are actually a kiss-off, this song from Fiona’s somehow both over- and underrated debut album is the sultriest piece of music ever recorded. While Extraordinary Machine showcased a more mature and energetic Apple, most all of Tidal is good for getting down in the kind of intimate way you can really only have with someone you’ve never slept with before. It’s by no means cold or impersonal but there’s a formality to this song that will make you feel close without that sticky insecurity that comes with playing a song that is too intensely emotional. Put this on with your bed buddy and let Fiona’s smoky croon take you to that place where you know the night is going to be a memory before it’s over.

Answering Esquire’s Questions

The newest issue of Esquire magazine has a feature with 7 music-related questions meant to prompt discussion. Here’s my take on them; please leave yours in the comments below. Also, I don’t know what the rules are for copyright as related to what I can reprint here, so go visit this link and read the questions yourself. What, you think Widro is gonna pay for it if I get sued?

[Editor’s Note: The Editor has checked, and it seems as if listing the questions in, er… question is acceptable so long as Esquire is credited as the source, which it has been. Carry on, then…]

1. In light of such innovations as Facebook and Thomas Friedman, is “world music” any longer a valid designation?

Arguably not. With the Internet reaching all corners of the earth, people in foreign countries are now free to hear any music they want, rather than just what gets exported to them. As an offshoot, you get artists like Bonde Do Role, combining their native styles with American principles like hip-hop and dance-funk. Does that qualify them as world music? No more than any other baille-funk outfit were in the pre-Internet days. Remember, squids, “world music” was an obnoxious hippie/’90s-yuppie designation that conflicted white people like the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh or Paul Simon came up with to make the kind of music they were playing more marketable. A bunch of white musicians fed up on pop and rock and in search of some “soul” to make themselves feel more legit, so they appropriate foreign music unfamiliar to most American kiddies and try and pass it off as being deeper than their original musical orientation. The whole thing smacks of “noble savage” racist condescension.

Worse, the indie-rock darlings of this month, Vampire Weekend, take Paul Simon’s Graceland as their primary influence and all of a sudden the media wants to believe that it was some seminal classic. Maybe it’s just the papers I was reading, but I’ve never heard anything positive about Graceland my entire life, until now. It’s always been described to me (and described it must be, because Paul Simon isn’t nor will ever be my particular poison) as a pretentious and precious confection by a white poser trying to gain cool cred by doing Elvis one better and copying the original black music. Now we’ve got a band of whelps who are trying to gain indie cred by appropriating Paul Simon’s appropriation of a musical styling that none of the aforementioned would have ever heard had they not been rock musicians to begin with. And all the original African music artists that invented this kind of music? Probably all dead from AIDS or starvation. Ain’t life a bitch?

2. Has hip-hop become that unbearable, or have we just grown old and predictable together? Follow-up: Is it possible to be obnoxious and boring at the same time?

I’d like to say, only if you’re a white middle-aged magazine writer who probably never liked hip-hop to begin with and only pretended so because it’s politically correct. Truthfully, it’s pretty hard to defend stuff like Soulja Boy and Flo Rida when compared to pretty much anyone in the history of hip-hop with the possible exception of Vanilla Ice or P.M. Dawn. All that really indicates, though, is that the mainstream appropriation of hip-hop is finally complete and any talentless kid with a catchphrase that would work as a ringtone can be a pop success. Hurricane Chris and MIMS should be placed in the same league with the Backstreet Boys and Ricky Martin—not 2Pac or 50 Cent.

Is hip hop dead, though? Hell, no. Hip hop is deeper now than I think it’s ever been. Artists as disparate as Gnarls Barkley, Talib Kweli, even the Gorillaz or Gym Class Heroes can all fall under the hip-hop description. Average-joe hip-hop fan probably is probably still enamored with the brand of gangsta rap prone to thug-life fairy tales, but an adventurous listener (i.e., a music geek like me) can find all kinds of validation in the different directions an artist like The Coup can bring to hip-hop. You’ll scarcely if ever find, in a genre so prone to macho posturing, lyrics like those featured on Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere. Which to me dictates that hip-hop as a genre has deepened, enough so that such a thing as alternative hip-hop (a fair enough distinction for Gnarls Barkley, as I’m sure a lot of people don’t consider them hip-hop at all) can now exist and not alienate most fans of the genre or be written off as a failed experiment. Hip-hop is probably more alive now than ever, because it’s become safe for the kind of experimentation and geeky obsessiveness that differentiated indie rock from mainstream rock 20+ years ago. I’m actually excited to hear what kinds of hip-hop we’ll be hearing in the next 10 years or so; I imagine that it will be amazing.

3. Name a guitarist under age thirty who is as good or famous as Hendrix, Page, Townsend, and Van Halen were at twenty.

There aren’t any, because no one cares about guitar talent anymore and they never will again. However, in a year or so I’m sure there will be a Guitar Hero virtuoso who will become as famous as Van Halen ever was. Hopefully this induces Eddie Van Halen to kill himself.

4. How come the best song about Iraq—Andrew Bird’s “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm”—was actually written during World War I?

A loaded question if there ever was one. Most of the songs written about Iraq over the last few years have been more of a reflexive attempt to capture some of the ’60s-folk protest spirit or the ’80s anti-Reagan punk rebellion than anything. We live in way too informed post-modern times to come up with anything unique or truly indicative of the real experience of being an American today, because being an American today means living in rehashed versions of the past and our collective experience is only that of being compared to generations past. Iraq is Vietnam, Bush is Reagan, indie rock is new wave, or disco, or late-’70s punk or mid-’80s arena rock à la U2. Protest songs in response to military aggression are all too informed by the long history of genuine protest songs in this country to be a valid statement of anything that actually has to do with Iraq. And while I’ve tried to avoid a lot of them on the grounds of burnout, I can pretty safely say that a pseudo-folk ditty by one of the Squirrel Nut Zippers is FAR from the best song about Iraq, written during World War 1 or not.

5. Is American Idol successful simply because we like to laugh at pathetic losers, or because it’s almost impossible to find real singers on pop radio anymore?

American Idol isn’t a success because we all love to laugh at deluded people who think they can sing (especially since the last few seasons’ audition weeks have been filled by people who obviously know they can’t sing, and are just hamming it up to try and get on TV) and it’s not because of any perceived dearth of decent singers on the radio (because (a) no one listens to the radio and (b) if anyone cared about about actual talented singing as opposed to depth and personality they’d be in gospel churches every Sunday rather than at home listening to it). It’s because it’s a good TV show. There’s drama, there’s an interesting cast of characters, it allows everyone to play armchair critic and then cast their vote accordingly. As a music critic it warms my cynical ol’ heart to see that the most popular show on American television is devoted to analyzing and critiquing musical talent. I care not a whit about anyone on Idol once the show ends, but during the season it’s one of the few things that usually draws me to the idiot box. Or it did. I don’t watch it too often anymore simply due to the fact that it’s become too reflexive and self-informed. Singers go on Idol to try and win Idol, and they sing in such a calculated and rehearsed way that it’s become like the Miss America pageant. The show jumped the shark after Taylor Hicks and it probably won’t come back until they weed out all the fame sharks and try and cultivate some real artists.

6. Now that Taco Bell is using Joe Jackson’s “One More Time” to move Enchiritos, will the punk generation stand by while its most treasured musical touchstones are sacrificed on the altar of commercialism the way Baby Boomers have?

OK, so now Esquire has officially called it? There is such a thing as a “punk generation” that existed 30 years ago or so and now they’ve become fair game for nostalgia? Just wanted to be officially clear, since everyone who heard a Clash song once in 1979 feels qualified to claim that punk is either dead or never existed or that it was a mindset and not a type of music or whatever. Of course, these people and their identity crisis over something as simple as musical taste and fashion is the reason punk is dead; they killed it with lairs of cynicism and self-loathing. So will they care if songs they like are used to shill tacos? Shit, no. They’ll bob their heads and sing along like all the hippie-crits did, and never think twice. What will be the real test is when Madison Avenue tries to sink their teeth deeper into ’80s hardcore (which is the direct parent of anything that has since been considered punk, so all the “punk died in 1979” dinosaurs can suck a dick) and whether or not any of those bands will prove to be as hypocritical as the Summer of Love generation. Hopefully, Jello Biafra will work overtime to stop that from going on.

7. Given that they are composed and arranged by some of our most brilliant musicians, should movie scores be considered the classical music of our age?

Yes, absolutely. If you hadn’t heard it before and didn’t know what it was, “Theme from Jurassic Park” would be considered a classical work as talented and seminal as, at least, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”. Movie scores are one of the more frequently ignored genres of music. Problem is, there isn’t really anything that’s going to come along and all of a sudden make movie scores tre chalit in the way classical is with certain people. Most classical fans are snobs who wouldn’t condescend to listen to a movie score, and most popular music fans wouldn’t listen to anything composed and instrumental like classical music, and both pretty much consider movie scores to be utilitarian and purposeful rather than a genuine expression of creativity; so really, movie scores are just going to be the underappreciated version of classical music until Rhino Records puts out a compilation of them and all the people who still buy CDs decide to get into it.

Death Threats Written in Guyliner: The 4th Stooge The Snake God EP

No, not a long lost 78 of Emil Sitka and his vastly underrated sousaphone playing. The 4th Stooge is a ska punk band from Kissimmee, Fla., that rose out of the ashes of longtime central Florida punk-scene road dogs Playground Heroes, Suckerpunch and Screaming For a Reason. (Baby, I’m a Nepotist: the guys in this band were/are good friends of mine, and I used to follow Playground Heroes around like a Deadhead.) You can check out The Snake God on their MySpace page. It’s what independent punk rock should sound like: roughly recorded but passionately performed, all whiplash youth energy and smartass lyrics. Liberal politics come into play but they fall more into the “we’re all f*cked” vein rather than the “get off your ass yargle blargle!” vein. These guys are all on the south side of their twenties or older, and they are at a crucial age for someone who grew up on a steady diet of punk. All the angst and the sick sense of humor is there in force (and indeed, while not being an outright comedy act, The 4th Stooge are one of the funniest bands you’re likely to come across.) But these guys aren’t the kids they used to be, and a sense of foreboding cynicism leaks into their lyrics in a way that they never did with Playground Heroes. I have a theory that in the next 10 years or so we’ll see an outbreak of miserable old cranks playing punk (thats another rant for another time, squids) and The Snake God is a prime example of the direction that angry-young-male music is going in when the angry males ain’t so young anymore.

As a fan of ska and reggae, I find it really disconcerting that so many 3rd wave ska or ska-punk bands use a simple rocksteady beat in their upstroking. Rocksteady is one of the coldest and most predictable forms of Jamaican music, and there is a lot of other ground to tread there. The 4th Stooge avoid this trap in “Keep the Darkness Away”, with a reverberated atmospheric dub-scratch beat. Lyrically, it’s a bitter pill of a breakup song; its feet are more in the post-New Romantic vein of college rock circa 1991 than today’s whiny emo. Serious ground is also trodden in “The Last Supper” and “Headfirst”—the latter a political number that links oil dependency with blowhard American pride. This is the highlight of the EP, with a dropout chugging riff and unison vocals that build into a chant along tagline to the chorus. The major downfall of this song and the EP as a whole is that, being self-funded independent artists, the recording is seriously lacking in sound quality, especially in mp3 format. Sound compression buries the bass and drums in the mix, and singer Chris Daley’s voice sometimes jumps between sounding like an overdub and being lost with the rest of the band. Daley would never win a singing competition but his throaty gargle fits perfectly with “6 Pack of Beer’n a Bridge Out”, a funny take on the drunk guy that always shows up at the party. “Dahmeresque” illustrates one of the fundamental quandaries between being a young-dumb-full-of-cum punk and an adult with responsibilities: quitting your job to go on tour, and the accompanying anxiety. The song is a love letter to the youthful freedom and rebellious spirit that drew so many of us to this weather-beaten genre in the first place. Then there’s “U B Sonny Bono I’ll B the Tree”. To whit, these lyrics:

I hope the checks from Hot Topic finds you well
I hope your bus crashes and you burn in Hell
I hope the drugs you take fucking melts your brain
I hope you eat a bullet just like Kurt Cobain

The guyliner-bedecked target of that little sip of Haterade? That would be major-label MySpace darlings From First to Last. The story, the way I remember it, is that way back in the day when they still lived in central Florida, the original few members of From First to Last’s ever-changing lineup were a Blink-182 clone named First Too Last. During the earliest days of both their and Playground Heroes’ existence, the two bands would wedge all their members into a cramped little van and take off for dates all over Florida and further. That right there is a powder keg for acrimony, but what exacerbated it was that First Too Last made it crystal clear that all they were interested in as a band was a record deal. Granted, this is probably all that 90% of any bands want, and the other 10% probably won’t admit it.

Of course, the now much more Fuse-friendly-named From First to Last aren’t Blink-182-ish pop punk; they’re cookie cutter post-hardcore screamo (with an album titled after the most obvious quote from Heathers) and raking in the big bux, boyo. The point being that they in all likelihood never cared particularly what they sounded like, just so long as it appealed to as many people as possible and resulted in record-label money. Epitaph were the first to fall for it, before Capitol signed and then released FFTL and an Interscope imprint snatched them up. “Sonny Bono” is The 4th Stooge’s riposte to their former van-mates, and while the lyrics make it clear that there’s a touch of jealous green in their spectrum (“I guess I’m just pissed for failing / but there’s a lot of people just like me”) it still comes off as typical punk-rock anti-corporate big-label bashing.

The point is, so what? If anyone deserves that treatment it’s From First to Last. While I don’t really care about bands “selling out” to big labels (I forgave Against Me! for it, and they were stridently anti-major. FFTL only existed to get on a major so they’re at least not hypocrites); it’s hard to look past the fact that their sound changed. Granted, bands change up their sound all the time, and evolving is pretty much a necessity for any band worth their salt. It’s just a smidgeon fishy that in the early ’00s, when Blink-182 and Sum 41 were the happening-est little punks on the radio, you have a happy little pop-punk band called First Too Last. Then everyone simultaneously gets depressed (9/11. I’m convinced it was 9/11 that brought emo back.) and all of a sudden it’s time to break out the girl jeans and guyliner.

You can’t really fault a band for having a career goal, but when the music becomes secondary to that, you’re just jacking off in a mirror. There is nothing I hate more than someone who wants fame and groupies and uses whatever style of rock music that is popular to get that—at least when the music they make is cookie-cutter focus-grouped populist horseshit meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The grist mill of the Popular Music Industry has produced some (probably unintentional) quality music before but for every freak occurrence there are about ten From First to Lasts out there hopping from trend to trend until they find one that clicks. What’s really mind-numbing is that in 10 or 20 years a lot of these bands will be playing the state-fair and strip-club circuit, and not only will a million white-trash retards bring their demon spawn out to see them but one of them will probably pull some shit like Great White and end up killing a hundred people.

It’s amazing that a supposedly “heartfelt” genre like emo has so many bandwagon jumper bands attached to it. Plain White Ts? Five years ago they sounded like The Strokes, then garage revivalism died on the vine and now all of a sudden dude’s got an acoustic guitar and singing his Livejournal. Story of the Year? They were a nu-metal band called Big Blue Monkey until the guy from Goldfinger managed to foist them on an unsuspecting public. They aren’t really around too much anymore, but then mediocrity is mediocrity. What’s really f*cked up is that he did the same thing with The Used (first) and as a result of being pimped all over MTV and associated with Kelly Osbourne, no one respects The Used anymore, which is unfair because they had an original angle and a boatload more songwriting talent than most of their peers. (That last album was the opposite of the bandwagon effect; they think to have a legacy in rock you need to do an experimental album. Listen, fellas: when your experiment is writing a song that sounds like the score to The Goonies, the sample has been contaminated and the experiment is a failure, better get mom to help you make a model of the solar system.)

If there are any young band members reading this please, please, PLEASE pay attention. If you’re interested in being in a band simply for the idea of getting on a record label and making money, don’t. The record industry is circling the drain. You know all those songs you download on LimeWire rather than buying the album? They’re gonna do that to you, too… if you make it that far. Which means that no one is gonna pay you for it. Which means even if you do get on a record label, you’re going to have to sign a contract that Mr. Burns wouldn’t give to Homer Simpson. You’ll have to give up more than half of your touring revenues, more than half of your merchandise sales and more than half of your frigging royalties; meaning that money you get paid to write the song in your mom’s basement after your shift at Wendy’s will end up going to a label executive with a Porsche. And, of course, there’s no job security. Even if you are genuinely talented and write an album that will redefine rock music for the next decade to come, we music geeks are fickle little bitches. Longevity was best left to the Baby Boomers; we want what’s going to be hot tomorrow, and we want it yesterday. Growing up in the shadow of our narcissistic parents who think every song that came out when they were kids is the best rock will ever get means we don’t want anything more than a month old; if it’s not the newest it’s not the best as far as we’re concerned. And guess what? The record labels keep getting merged and bundled into bigger and bigger conglomerates and eventually all music outlets will just become satellite branches of a huge corporation, none of the executives of which will give a hot f*ck how good your album is if it’s not rakin’ in the shekels. So eventually there won’t be any major labels. You’ll be back on the fry line at Wendy’s, hustling to pay back your advance (because you blew all that money on hookers and blow, didn’t you? You did. You did.). And apart from the teenage girls that your kid-diddling ass will naturally attract, no one will even think you’re cool because you were just another indistinguishable flavor-of-the-month act from a genre that will naturally fall out of favor until, maybe, your grandkids get into it. But only, like, ironically.

So who’s right? Money-hungry posers like From First to Last? Or angry could’a-beens like The 4th Stooge? Obviously you know where my vote is cast. Just remember: For want of a horse, the kingdom was lost.

A Little Esoterica

– So Metallica’s next album is supposed to be a return to their ’80s thrash sound. Again. Just like St. Anger was supposed to be and wasn’t. I’ve lost so much respect for Metallica these last ten years that I can’t even listen to their older stuff anymore without thinking about how much I genuinely loathe them nowadays, with one exception: I actually liked pretty much all of Garage Days. Doing a bunch of covers outside their comfort zone seemed to refresh and challenge the band in a way that they surely haven’t felt in years, and the album created a new life for a lot of otherwise forgotten and overlooked songs. But of course, the legion of Gennessee-drinking wife-beaters who still haven’t forgiven Metallica for The Black Album pissed on it, because it wasn’t “real” Metallica. So I say, f*ck all them. Metallica should release an album that is manifestly NOT metal, and does the exact opposite of trying to please their impossible-to-please fanbase who can’t get over the ’80s. Metal is angry young man music, not rich old man music, and Metallica would be well-advised to foster their Lynyrd Skynyrd obsession rather than their Venom obsession. Of course, everyone will still download it anyway, so it’s not like Metallica will be happy either way.

– So Michael Stipe came out of the closet. It’s funny, I always actually thought of Michael Stipe as seeming so obviously gay that he couldn’t possibly be gay, because professional autistics that make indie rock like his never do anything you expect of them. Billy Corgan is going to have to get caught banging Paris Hilton on video to restore some balance to the world.

– So Stone Temple Pilots have been recording some songs together again. Will someone explain to me how all through their careers, STP have to be one of the most acrimonious and divided bands in music, and yet as soon as both Weiland and the DeLeo Brothers (plus the drummer) drift off and start bands with other known musicians and get some critical acclaim, they all of a sudden want to get back together, and Matt Sorum is telling Rolling Stone that he thinks Weiland might leave Velvet Revolver for STP. I think I’ve figured it out: the DeLeo brothers sell Weiland his smack. They supply him with heroin, and he supplies them with a centerfold singer to whom to attach their songs and bring them some fame and ducats (and I’m sorry, but the T-1000’s little brother from Filter don’t fit that bill, brotha). Weiland’s like that really sweet girl that’s dating some abusive prick even though she knows she can do better; because I get the feeling that somewhere under all the bullshit, Scott Weiland is actually a more talented artist than either Robert or Dean DeLeo. Or the drummer.

Aight minions, I’m gonna kick rocks for this time. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of Gnarls Barkley’s new album. Til then, if you’re drivin’, don’t drink; if you did drink, don’t drive.

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