When discussing the "legitimacy" of piracy and the like, people will often cite bitrate as a reason. "Well, why should I pay for something that's not lossless?!!" Sure, it's a valid complaint. But does it justify theft?
If a band is only selling an album at 128 and you prefer 320, does that justify an illegal download? I'm not sure.
As a Calvin & Hobbes fan, this is an issue I've been struggling with since childhood. I was a nerd even then and fuckin' gobbled up all sorts of interviews and such with Bill Watterson. He would always emphasize the imagination behind what he did and how he felt merchandising his creation would cheapen that aspect of it. Hobbes was supposed to have the voice the reader gave him, not Bill Murray. He didn't want stuffed tigers hanging off of car windows. He wanted to control his art. And he did. Sort of.
To this day, you can see Calvin pissing all over the Ford logo. And bootlegged t-shirts sold on the Internet. While the elementary school me would never dream of purchasing a urinating 6 year-old in bumper sticker form, I sure as hell would have loved one of those t-shirts. But I remember thinking--even then--that it would have gone against the creator's wishes.
I got one for my birthday at one point, felt guilty about it, and asked my mom to return it for me.
Because that's not what the creator would have wanted. In hindsight, asking my mom to return it for me was a bit on the "overkill" side of things. But I knew I couldn't have worn that shirt without feeling like I was betraying the man behind the characters that made my day just a little bit brighter.
I'm not saying we need to stop downloading music. And I'm not saying the people behind it are evil (unless, of course, there's bootlegs floating around of Slick Shoes songs that people mislabel as Fenix TX, Blink-182, et cetra--then that's just confusing for junior high schoolers on Napster everywhere).
But I'm saying we shouldn't kid ourselves. You don't need to think that it's wrong, but we should all start admitting that it's still a little bit not quite right. Know what you're doing and own it. Don't attempt to justify it.
You say you love the artist, but you're rockin' a t-shirt with a little dude and his stuffed tiger making an awkward face. And the creator doesn't support it. Nobody should crucify you for it--and Mr. Watterson would probably be stoked that you're a fan of his work. But really, he just wants you to buy the books, and dive into his world.
See what I'm saying? Maybe not. The comparison kind of falls apart at the end. But hopefully it made at least a tiny bit of sense.
It's been a while. What can I say? Life's been busy. I've been slowly but surely climbing the ranks at work; and I still enjoy it as much as I used to. I've been dating a lovely lady for nearly seven months at this point with nary a squabble over something that doesn't involve listening to a Shins album from start to finish or running late to dinner. I've even been doing less damage to my liver via alcohol.
That being said? Here's some musical recommendations (read: brief reviews of albums I've been digging as of late). I've been listening to more new music as of late, thanks to that Spotify thing--and a growing disinterest in a few of the podcasts that have been stealing my time slowly but surely over the past year or so.
Direct Hit! - DOMESPLITTER
This band sounds like Dillinger Four and Andrew W.K. playing Plants Vs. Zombies together while listening to early Green Day. Their new record DOMESPLITTER should gets fists in the air and all sorts of "HEY! HEY! HEY!" chants going in a live setting. Check it out at the band's Bandcamp page.
Aficionado - Aficionado
Warning: The subsequent description won't do this album justice. Currently, this is a strong contender for Album of the Year. Guitars weave between a sharp crunch and noodly, the rhythm section is tight, and the male-female vocal duo keeps things interesting. And the lyrics seem to focus directly on honesty, sincerity, etc. in a way that points fingers as much at the band themselves as the audience. Others have beat me to the Cursive and Piebald comparisons, and these are definitely apt but I'd also put it out there that fans of Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Say Anything, and/or Weatherbox would do well to look into these guys. I fuckin' love this record.
The Copyrights - North Sentinel Island
Telling you the Copyrights sound like early Green Day, Off With Their Heads, the Dopamines, Dear Landlord, Teenage Bottlerocket, etc. would be a fair assessment, but it would also do the band some injustice. They aren't quite as gritty as Off With Their Heads or Dear Landlord and they're far from the saccharin sweetness of Teenage Bottlerocket. They land squarely in the middle. And with North Sentinel Island, they manage to throw in plenty of big hooks coupled with slick production and interesting song structures to stand out from the pack.
Bomb the Music Industry! - Vacation
One look at the Vacation lyrics sheet will tell you that BTMI! mastermind, Jeff Rosenstock is happier. Maybe not happy, but happier. And that positive attitude permeates the album--music and lyrics. Subtle hints of Weezer, Beach Boys, and Elvis Costello abound. No ska. Just well orchestrated, punk rock influenced power-pop for those who would rather smirk when they feel good instead of smiling.
I've never been happier to have travel plans cancelled on me. After a brief drought of show-going, I'll certainly be making up for lost time this week.
Tuesday, May 10th - Manchester Orchestra, Cage the Elephant, and O'Brother @ House of Bluse
Wednesday, May 11th - Fake Problems, Laura Stevenson, Into It. Over It. @ Middle East Upstairs
Friday, May 13th - A Wilhelm Scream, No Trigger, Half Hearted Hero @ Club Hell
Saturday, May 14th - Face to Face, Strung Out @ the Paradise
Sunday, May 15th - Dear Landlord @ Great Scott
Yup. This should be a fun, alcohol- and rock-fueled week of...Fun. Hah! Seriously. So pumped.
So. You'd rather own a flashy t-shirt than the music itself? I think I'm seeing the problem here. Fashion before passion. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go wear an H2O shirt while listening to Nothing to Prove. On vinyl.
My vote? Eat less fast food, drink less beer, buy more music. Put your money where your mouth is. Yes, I'm on a high horse. But I bought this high horse: It came as a bonus track with the deluxe edition of that record collection I have.
Tonight I began the process of packing my life into a series of cardboard boxes while listening to the webcast of KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas. Between the bands I grew up on playing the songs I loved (Cake, Bad Religion, Jimmy Eat World) and the task of going through my old shit, deciding what stays and what goes, thinking about the memories attached with those items...Nostalgia hit me. I know, I know. Shocker. Bear with me here. This nostalgia has a purpose.
I started thinking about the past year, where I'm at versus where I was. I took a peek at my blog entries from December of last year and I'm happy to say? Times have changed. I'm a work in progress, but this year? Progress was the operative word. The year started with a blackout New Year's Eve, fights with friends, a toxic relationship with an ex-girlfriend that was inhibiting my ability to truly move on, too much drinking, and a brand new apartment.
I think the last one helped. I've been drinking less. The cynicism, sarcasm, and generally negative attitude has faded--or at the very least, I've been able to pinpoint when it happens, call it out. I did some dating and avoided one-night stands. Work has been a benchmark year
I've been drinking less, I've been running more, I did a bit of dating. The ex is no longer in the picture--and for the time being? That hurts. But that will change. I'm learning how to be alone. Maybe I'll be able to actually move on in 2011. She saw this apartment. I have memories of her dog sitting on my futon. We went for walks near the Reservoir. We saw that movie roughly four times in that one theater.
Next week I'll be in a new apartment in a new part of town. No memories, a fresh start, the same attitude, the same friends, the same job. But a brand new neighborhood. And another chance to start again.
This song hit me over the head. We could all stand to be a bit less pretentious, a bit less "tunnel vision" when discussing the current state of music and the role the bands we love play in the grand scheme of things...
Let this be another angst-ridden album
Let it be another band that tugs at your heartstrings
When you're alone
It's nothing but a quick fix
The lyrics from your favorite songs
are the things that just can't save you from
Vicious cycles of self-deprecation coupled with
Victims and assholes that feed into that masochistic mindset
Vicious cycles, and they're capitalizing off of you
Sat in a room full of pseudo-intellectuals
Having a conversations about emotion and
It's role in the music we play
In the music of our day
They said they prefered the grunge rock era
Like that was much better
In other news: I really can't wait for Lipona's next full-length. Can't come soon enough. If you're a fan of Set Your Goals, Strung Out, A Wilhelm Scream, Bad Religion, or the long-missed Marathon...Take note. These dudes are coming for you with rad riffage, bouncy choruses, and sweet-as-fuck vocals with bite.
I've never been any good at compiling these based purely on the music alone. Inevitably, the albums that creep into my Top 10 have left a mark, offered some guidance, and served as the soundtrack to the year.
And 2010 hasn't been any sort of exception. Looking back on it? I couldn't have asked for a better crop of records to help me through it all. Last year's list felt disconnected. Sure, they were great albums--but none truly hit home on an emotional level.
It felt good listening to Real Ghosts Caught On Tape three times in a row today. That doesn't happen often enough. But it's happened quite a few times this year with several albums. They might not be the most influential, brilliant, or even "good" collections of songs.
But I'll be damned if they didn't hit me where it counts. Just sayin'.
This video gave me butterflies. One of the most underrated hardcore bands in recent memory. If you didn't jump onboard when Canyoneer was released, if you were too young at the time? You have a second chance. They're backed by Set Your Goals, Polar Bear Club, Strike Anywhere, A Wilhelm Scream, and all those other bands you love. So why not?
Hearing the new songs makes me giddy. Like, f'reals. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to change my pants and listen to their 2006 record, Canyoneer for the umpteenth time...
Some bands are special because nobody else knows them. Other bands are special because they hit your heart and you simply don't understand why nobody else cares about them as much as you do. Scream it from the mountain tops when you find those bands. They deserve it.
Fun song, fun video. If I had a car in the city, you better believe I'd crank this up on a warm summer night. And if I had a girlfriend, you better believe this would wind up on a mix C.D. But I don't. And I don't. So instead? I'll just blog about it. Eff yeah, compromise!
Inspired. Ready to fall in love again. That's how I feel right now. The real trick is capturing the way one feels after a live show from an artist who moves you with their voice, their guitar. And not just their words.
If anyone knows how to bottle that, please be so kind as to let me know. I'd be pretty grateful. In the mean time? Back to spinning those records ad nauseum in an effort to push this life forward.
I've been thinking over it
I think too much
It hinders my spirit
When there's never enough
Shell-game sleight of hand
To wish for something more
Honest husbands, cheating wives
Generous buyers, greedy stores
"I'll get through it, I'll get through it"
I'll say it ten times over: "I'll get through it, I'll get through it"
"I'm better than this"
That's what anchors me (I mean it weighs me down)
Can't give thanks to fear, can't say no to crowds
Guess I'll just play dumb (shouldn't be too hard)
Peaceful people, violent guns
Sober drivers, drunken cars
I'm better than nothing and nothing is better than this
Having to work Saturday afternoon negated any shot I had at partaking in Record Store Day on the specified date. I was a bit bummed that I wasn't able to get my hands on a few of the titles as a result (mostly Hot Water Music and the Bouncing Souls, but something tells me that none of the record stores in my area were carrying those, anyway) but I had some luck today on my weekly trip to Newbury Comics.
They had plenty of copies of the live Manchester Orchestra and Weezer b-sides E.P.'s, both of which I picked up. But the real treat? The limited edition clear vinyl version of the Hold Steady's new album, Heaven is Whenever. HOLY FUCK! I was ecstatic. I snagged the last one at my store. I'm a happy boy.
Long live flipping through the records in the used bin, the vinyl shelf, and the new release rack. Seriously. Is there any better feeling than finding that out-of-print major label debut, the Japanese import live album, or an album you bought in high school but couldn't fully appreciate at the time in the used bin for $2?
Digital has it's place, of course. But there's nothing better than rushing home to listen to an album for the first time, flipping through the lyrics, and mulling over the artwork. Sigh.
So. What did you get your grubby li'l paws on? Anything special?
Leaning against the countertop, the tips of my thumb pressed against my chin. An empty Corona bottle in one hand, a twenty in the other. My roommate was in the bathroom, leaving me alone, heavily buzzed, and attempting to buy another two beers at an all too busy bar. Unable to get the bartender's attention, I smirk. My ears wander, focusing in on a conversation just to the right of me.
"I just...I really need to get laid." It was a female voice. I take a quick glance and arch an eyebrow when the source is confirmed--the attractive, curvy girl I had seen on-stage all but twenty minutes prior. Precisely my type. My jaw slacked slightly, my body tensed. Several scenarios played out in my head, none of which involved a fuck so much as me cracking a joke, striking up a conversation, and making her smile. Asking her out on a date. Dinner and a game of mini-golf. Thumb wrestling. And y'know, that thing I denied flat-out previously. Hah. I said all the right things. Y'know, in my head.
Of course, this was all subconscious procrastination. When I finally came to, she was long gone. Just as well. Pretty girl mentions sex. Guy going through dry spell has interest piqued. Never a great way to start. Been there, done that, felt like a waste of a condom. I need something real, something with substance. Think with your dick/vagina gets you nowhere.
Roughly an hour later, one of the bands I was there to see, declared that one of their songs was about when you see a girl at a bar and two scenarios run through your head:
- "She's way too pretty. She'll reject me."
- "Well, I could go up to talk to her, have an awkward conversation where you struggle for the right words to charm her, get her number, spend a bunch of money taking her out for three weeks, then realize it's not working out, and then have another awkward conversation calling the whole thing off."
Or something like that. Either way? On occasion--not to say that opening my mouth would have led to anything of any sort--but sometimes, on occassion...