Thursday, November 29, 2007

Best Christmas gift EVER.

Confession: I'm obsessed.
I. Love. BlackRebelMotorcycleClub.

This band fulfills all remaining schoolgirl I-love-all-things-rock desires I have in my body. Last spring I wrote a raving review of their album Baby 81, and I'm about to do the same for American X: Baby 81 Sessions, their newest gift to the music world.

Track Listing:
1. "The Likes Of You"
2. "Vision"
3. "The Show's About To Begin"
4. "MK Ultra"
5. "Whenever You're Ready"
6. "20 Hours"
7. "Last Chance For Love"
8. "American X" (short film)

Personal favorites: #3 and #5. American X: Baby 81 Sessions will be available for musical ravaging in the US Dec. 4. Here's what guitarist Robert Levon Been has to say about it on BRMC's blog:
"We're proud of all our songs, even the ones that don't make it on the final album, they have a life force of their own... And we simply wanted to find a way of getting those songs out there.
As well as this short 9 minute film we created for "American X" with our friend and visionary artist Jamie Dagg, with whom we believe in and even paid out of our own pockets to get this released.
The strange thing is that for every album we've recorded there's at least twice as many songs that never see the light of day. So someday, hopefully when we're dead, maybe someone will unearthed all of it remember that, hey maybe those 3 strange kids that all dressed in black weren't so bad after all."

Spin it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Speaking of (the) Eagles

I thought it was interesting that Cole decided to blog about (the) Eagles. The "cheesy good guy" Glenn Frey is mentioned in Steve Martin's new autobiography, Born Standing Up. (To read a full review, check out Friday's Arts page in the Daily Iowan.)

Here's a little blurb from the middle of the book. I believe this scene took place in late 1972 or early 1973.

"One late night I was lingering in the bar and talking to Glenn Frey, who was just leaving his duo, Longbranch Pennywhistle. He said he was considering a name for his new five-man group. 'What is it?' I said. He said, 'Eagles.' I said, 'You mean, THE eagles.' He said, 'No, Eagles.' I said, 'You mean, THE Eagles?' He said, 'No, I mean, Eagles.' The name of the group, remains, of course, Eagles."

-(the) Ann Colwell

They Still Got It

I know, I know, the last time you listened to the Eagles was either in a grimy country bar or after you told your Dad that you weren't going to listen to Brooks & Dunn so he'd better choose an alternative.
And while "Hotel California" is in the same cryptically epic category as "Stairway to Heaven" and "All Along the Watchtower", the rest of the Eagles discography goes by the wayside.

Fusing country and rock much as Johnny Cash did (but to different generations), the Eagles established the template for guitar heavy melodies, vocal harmony ridden ballades, and the most recognizable band members since the Beatles.

It's the differences of each member that helped fans recognize a certain performer and led to their wildly successful group and solo career(s). Drunken bad boy Joe Walsh, cheesy good guy Glen Fry, singer/drummer (at the same time) Don Henley, and gender confused vocalist Timothy B. Schmit each gave the different component in an era of lead singers and ambiguous back-ups.

After 1977, fans thought that they'd heard the end of the Eagles. In 1999, however, a reunion ensued, showing that 50-some year old men can still pack a high C and sex appeal. 8 years later, greater surprise emerged: these washed up old guys made an album-a damn good album.

The album, Long Road Out of Eden is no last ditch effort for ex-rockers to make money. Instead, it is a fierce 20 song double disc set that explores blues, rock, and country. With singles galore, "How Long" is only the beginning of an Eagles resurgence into radio, TV, and movies.

-Coltrane (Cole) Cheney

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i'm a gummi bear!

In my quest to procrastinate my life away, here's a clip I watch near-daily basis:

Now, was that not the best use of 36 seconds ever? Try watching in slow or fast modes - it's hard to imagine, but it's even funnier than the original.

- Susan

Monday, November 26, 2007

i'm outside your window with my radio

One of my favorite comments I ever got on a story I've written for the DI was on this review, in which I basically rip Ohio-based emo band Hawthorne Heights a new one. The day after it ran, a coworker came up to me in the newsroom and said, "I read your Hawthorne Heights review...I never knew there were so many ways to be mean." At the time, I was bizarrely proud.

Yesterday, AbsolutePunk broke the story that Casey Calvert, the 22-year-old rhythm guitarist for HH, had mysteriously passed away in his sleep. As medical reports aren't back yet, it's unclear what the cause of death was, but the band posted a message to its fans begging them to not buy into rumors, and that Calvert wasn't doing anything illegal that might have caused his death.

He was 22 years old, married, and, from what I can tell, the possessor of a bright future. It's a tragedy any way you look at it. And while I can't call myself a Hawthorne Heights fan, the struggle the band had against the evil of Victory Records and Tony Brummel is to be commended.

Essential Hawthorne Heights listening: "Niki FM," "Ohio Is For Lovers," "We Are So Last Year," "Light Sleeper."


Kylie Minogue

We received her H&M swimwear line right in time, but when it comes to Kylie Minogue’s actual *profession* (singing, dancing, being three feet tall), we don’t get the goods. At least not yet — the Aussie wonder’s new album *X* drops in the U.K. this week, while all us stateside sloths will wait until February for the glitzy jam.

Unfortunately, delayed release in the states is par for the course with Minogue, whose last two full-length albums, 2002’s *Fever* and 2003’s *Body Language* hit our shore months after their initial debuts. Fortunately this time, thanks to the powers that be (OK, fine, Perez Hilton), we’re in on the scoop. Plenty of *X*’s tracks have surfaced: “Speakerphone,” “Sensitized,” “Stars,” and the first single “2 Hearts” among the flock.

Based on said material, one thing is certain — Kylie loves robot noises. Every track teems with electronically tweaked vocals, a la Cher’s “Believe.” Unlike that immortal singing machine, however, Kylie pairs her vocals with some of the most willingly stupid lyrics of her career. Forget the silly, step-by-step instructions of “The Locomotion” or the crush-struck wails of “Love at First Sight,” because “Speakerphone” goes where no pop song has pranced before: the children’s game “Operation.” In order to muster the dance-paced anatomy lesson, you may find yourself abiding by the track’s dopey, delicious command: “Set your mind on freaky mode.”

“Eyes! Lips! Hearts!” the song yelps, before zipping back to that skeleton rundown. “To your jawbone/ To your neckbone, collarbone/ Let it go on to your backbone / Move it on through your hipbone.”

Sound a little campy so far? Like a song you may have chanted, with full choreography, after the hokey-pokey at a kindergarten picnic? In person, the track also *sounds* distinctly familiar, like Britney Spears’ recent album, which is no surprise considering producers Bloodshy & Avant handled both Spears and Minogue.

Now just a second. Kylie’s always been pop, yes, but hasn’t she, like Madonna, transcended the banality of Spears? Or the transparent sexuality? Naturally, similar production doesn’t necessary give way to an all-out Spears imitation, but the unbridled electronic squeaks and coos feel more than slightly derivative — and, yeah, a little awkward coming from a 40-year-old.

“Stars and “Sensitized” tend to follow Kylie’s tried-and-true routine: dancefloor-filling, inoffensive, perky numbers. And “2 Hearts” is fun but underwhelming, even underwritten. The chorus tries to brassily proclaim, “Two hearts beating together” as novelty. Nope.

While there’s certainly promise within the album’s frenetic energy, we can only hope more of that wholesome, yet still sensual Kylie breaks through on the as-yet-unreleased tracks. At worst we could just end up demanding, “Gimme more,” from our mis-stepping starlet. I won’t further discuss the furor of such an armageddon.

By Louis Virtel

Monday, November 12, 2007

Feeling a Little Like Norma Rae...

Things that I miss/will miss because of the Writers' Strike:
-Late Night with Conan O'Brien
-The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
-The Colbert Report
-Real Time with Bill Maher (which I think would be in reruns anyway at this point)
-The Late Show with David Letterman
-The Office
-30 Rock
-Saturday Night Live (though it hasn't been good in years)
-Scrubs (it's the last season!)

...and so on.

OH WELL. This TV fan is breaking out her The Office and Scrubs DVDs, listening to old Real Time with Bill Maher podcasts and using this time to catch up on reruns of everything else, because at the end of the day, there's no show without the writers. I wouldn't have gotten into most of these shows had it not been for "new media" like DVDs, webisodes and online streams that let me keep up with multiple shows that air in the same timeslot. This video proves the writers really are the core of our favorite programs.

Here's another video, made by the Writer's Guild of America, in case you aren't
sure what the strike is about.



P.S. Ellen Pompeo (known to most of us as Meredith Grey) said not to watch the online episodes of shows because writers aren't being paid for them. This makes me wonder if I shouldn't watch the reruns because then the networks are still getting ad revenue. And should I not listen to podcasts and watch DVDs because writers are unfairly compensated for those too?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Movie Addiction

So recently I've had a bit of a movie addiction... in the last week I've seen Saw IV, Dan in Real Life, and Michael Clayton.

Saw IV was brutal and gruesome, like the previous ones. Personally, I'm not a fan of scary movies and blood makes me a wee bit nauseous, but Saw IV was pretty decent as far as I'm concerned. I haven't seen the third one and still didn't feel like I was missing much when viewing the fourth. I was, however, a little disappointed with the ending. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it, but I felt like the screen play writers just copped out or couldn't think of any other way to end the flick. I give Saw IV ***.

Dan in Real Life was a HUGE disappointment for me. I had eagerly anticipated the release of this romantic comedy, but now I wish I wouldn't have wasted my money. I cry in just about any movies (especially Bambi when the mom gets shot) and did not shed one tear. If you've seen the trailers for the movie it looks hysterical... but the trailers capture every funny line in the movie - that's it. And four minutes worth of humor is not enough to span an entire full-length feature. The plot was cute and the characters played their roles well, but overall it just wasn't enough. I give Dan in Real Life **.

My most recently attended movie was Michael Clayton, featuring George Clooney - and I loved it. Not only because I think George Clooney is the hottest man alive, but because the plot was so riveting. The movie did drag a bit of first, but it was necessary in order for the foundation to be laid for later parts of the movie. And, as the credits are rolling, George Clooney almost cries. I don't think I've ever seen him cry before. Enough of my middle-school-girl crush ramblings though. I recommend the movie. I give Michael Clayton ****1/2.

And... through tonight the theater at Coral Ridge Mall is having $4 and $4 popcorn/pop combos for their anniversary.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wow, I absolutely love Say Anything

I wish I could dance like Max Bemis does in the "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" video:

Also: the new single, "Baby Girl, I'm a Blur" is fabulous. The band has received positive reviews for their latest album, In Defense of the Genre, released a couple weeks ago. The album is a double disc and features a ridiculously high number of guest artists, including Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara, My Chem's Gerard Way, and [my girl crush] Hayley Williams from Paramore.

What's not to love?

— Susan

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Taking a cue from Radiohead...

Paste Magazine (a monthly publication covering "indie" culture in music and literature) has begun to offer yearlong subscriptions for as low as a name-your-own price (actually, $1). Being a journalism major, and being one of the cheapest people alive, I couldn't pass this up.

Here's the link:

As I got ready to enter my credit card numbers into the system, a wave of guilt hit me. I was prepared to pay $1 (I paid nothing for Radiohead), but then they hit me with the following facts: Newstand price of Paste is $65.45, one-year subscriptions are $19.95. I couldn't just pay $1 for 11 issues and 11 CDs (roughly 220 songs), especially after having worked at a magazine this summer.

So I paid $5, and still feel slightly guilty, although I am stoked about getting Paste for the next year. Here's my justification: If they weren't having this promotion, I wouldn't have paid them anything. And $5 will cover postage. Same thing with Radiohead; I wouldn't have bought In Rainbows, but I'll download it if they're willing to give it to me for free. Who knows, maybe I'll become a Radiohead diehard at go to a concert sometime.

It's a risk, but I'm hoping for success for both Radiohead and Paste - a good outcome will only lead to more media to give away free content. And I'm all about free. Especially when Ryan Adams is on the cover.

— Susan

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Innocent Criminal

This past September 14, I morphed from the criminal I'd been my whole life into something new — someone innocent, Sure I rang in my 21st birthday with 21 pitchers at Fieldhouse, but I was also celebrating something of greater grandness — the opportunity to drive down the street free of guilt, enter the football stadium without a devil on my shoulder, and cross the street without fear. Yes, being legal is less about the booze (we've always been able to get plenty of that anyway) and more about being a full human being with (the most) complete rights (we'll ever get).

Everyone that's been underage in Iowa City should know what I'm talking about. Before I turned 21 I felt like a delinquent during even the most ordinary routines. If I so much as walked by Liquor Downtown on the way to a friend's place I felt like I had sinned. At the grocery store... Oh god, I bumped into a wine rack? I hope no one saw me. I really didn't mean any harm. At Starbucks I'd be standing behing a police officer and expect him to whip out his breathalyzer (regardless of if being 10 a.m. on a Monday) and demand that I blow. That security guard at Old Capitol? I was sure he was waiting to whip out that warrant for my arrest. He probably even had pictures of me drinking at my friend's off-campus apartment. I'd probably been bugged. If a cop car drove on the same street as me on my way to church (okay, probably more Hamburg Inn) on Sunday, my heart would skip 3 beats.

Sure I consumed (illegal) alcohol in my underage youth. A little paranoia would never really stop me. But I don't think the problem was me drinking underage. I think the greater problem was oppression — I was trapped into believing that I was a bad person for being under 21. Blame it on the press, our legal institutions, Bush for godsakes even, but until I turned 21 I felt inferior. And I've never had so much as a speeding ticket in my life or a detention of any sort, for that matter.

And I didn't even notice it then. But I do now. It was an epiphany, really.

Striding into the Kinnick parking lot for the Western Michigan game, I finsihed off a Coors and through it in the trash can. Right outside of the gate. In view of security guards. Inches away from police. Real ones. Yea. Can you believe it? And they didn't even look at me like they used to, never gave me that questioning glance, that god-aaful disapproval. In fact, they didn't even pay me notice at all. It's like some mark disappeared off of my forehead at 21. I just blend in with all the other adults now.

I ordered a glass of wine with dinner the other night out at Devotay with my parents. Sometime in August I drank an (illegal) glass (or two or three or four) with my dinner at home. Six months earlier I was drinking a glass of wine (legally) with my dinner as well, only in Greece rather that the states. They all tasted damn near the same, minus a butter overtone here, an almond undertone there, a cheap, cardboard aftertaste more often than not from a box. And I acted more or less the same with each glass and each glass acted much the same as well — as a complement to my dinner.

So someone tell me why I've been a criminal for my first 20 years/252 months/7,300 days. Why must (mostly) responsible drinkers like myself be punished mercilessly for our lack of age? Or better yet, why must we put an age on anything at all? We're racing to another milestone and then in five years we'll wish we could regress again.

Americans should spend their time more wisely — stop the old from restraining the young, imprisoning them, belittling them. We only have so long to be under-21 and instead of wishing it would come sooner we should be savoring it.


i wanna be the minority

From an interview with Billie Joe Armstrong, in honor of Rolling Stone's 40th Anniversary:

What is it like being a middle-aged punk? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

I remember walking out of a gig in Chicago, past these screaming kids. There were these punks, real ones, sitting outside our tour bus. One girl had a forty-ouncer, and she goes, "Billie Joe, come drink with us." I said, "I can't, I've got my family on the bus." She goes, "Well, fuck you then." I get on the bus, and my wife says, "Did that bitch just tell you to fuck off? I'm gonna kick her ass right now." I'm holding her back, while my child is naked, jumping on the couch: "Hi, Daddy!" That was my whole life right there — screaming kids, punks telling me to fuck off, my wife getting pissed, my naked son waiting to get into his pajamas.

Guys, this is why I will always and forever, 110%, love Green Day beyond all reason. Also, Adrienne Armstrong. Still the best rock star wife/girlfriend ever, for my money.

Come out with another goddamn album, already!!