Category Archives: Music

Ready to Admit Something

I like the Gin Blossoms, dammit.  I don’t care what anyone thinks.  New Miserable Experience a great, listenable album.  No, its not Sgt. Pepper’s or Exile on Main Street, or even Tommy or Never Mind the Bollucks or whatever fucking obvious comparison  you want to make.  And yes, its "pop-y".  So what?  They’re good, enjoyable songs, and the song "29" strikes a chord with each passing day that I get closer to that age.

So to all you music elitists out there who hate them becuase they made the alternative popular, deal with it.  Get over yourselves and enjoy the goddamn music.

You Can’t Help a Junkie

In a previous post I talked about music overload, but even given that, I had to share what I think is just one of the coolest services I’ve seen in a long time.  Its called Shazam Entertainment and lets you find out the name of any song or artist that you hear simply by sending a text message to them and holding the phone up to the music.  Their technology recognizes the song and sends you the info.

Seriously, isn’t that just the bomb-diggity, if you’ll allow me to say so?  I wish I had that recently a few times at Bukowski’s Tavern in Boston (follow the link to a great web site, but Bukowski’s deserves a better rating than it gets there.  I think the beer selection is really good, and the burgers are awesome!) and both times some great music was playing that I couldn’t identify and the servers didn’t know since it was some mix disc.  Very cool garage rock type of stuff that I definately would have gone out and bought.  Or downloaded.  Or requested on radio.  Or on satellite radio…. you get the idea.

Anyway – that’s my shout out to Shazam and my wish that they bring the service to the good ‘ol U.S. of A. or that a similar service comes soon.

(Just in case you’re wondering how I found about this, it was through a great web site called

Its Alright Mama

There was a point while watching the DVD included in Korn’s Greatest Hits during the song "Got the Life" where Jonathan Davis’ lyrics are actually much clearer in concert than they are in the studio version and that got me thinking about the classic old parent’s argument against their kids’ music of "you can’t even understand the words!"

Give me a f’ing break… really… first of all, let’s get the obvious argument out of the way: many of these parents grew up liking Bob Dylan.  Now, I’m as much of a Dylan fan as anyone, honestly, but let’s face it – he sings and it sounds like he’s in the middle of a stroke or an orgasm, possibly both. 

Secondly, how many people who make this brilliant comment about it being important to understand the words actually could tell you the lyrics to their favorite song anyway!?!?   As someone who likes to talk about music a lot, I end up talking about it with a lot of people more often than usual, and my experience has shown that while people identify with certain songs, they really couldn’t tell you the words to them.  Hum a few bars, perhaps take a good guess.  Hell, there’s an entire web site dedicated to misunderstood lyrics.

It doesn’t piss me off that they don’t have the words to their favorite song memorized – it just bothers me that they will discount one generation’s music because of something that obviously doesn’t matter that much anyway.  I love reading lyrics and knowing what they actually say, but I’m the exception to the rule.  So parents of the world – come up with something better, will ‘ya? 

And if you ever catch me saying that to my kids sometime, please remind me that I own the Greatest hits of Motorhead.  Then slap me in the head and tell me to shut the hell up. 

Thank you.

A Cheap Fuck for Me To Lay

I have to admit that for a long time, I couldn’t really like the band Korn, nor any of the numerous knock-off bands that came after them.   It wasn’t for any musical reasons, but rather personal ones involving a former flame and her spring break fling with a drummer from an L.A. rock band that played Korn rip-off music.   Nothing like having your feelings crushed to turn you off a great band….

However, she’s long gone, married with two kids and I’m glad to not be involved in that, so I can now listen to Korn’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 with impunity.  Listening to them again makes you realize the influence on heavy metal.  I won’t say whether or not that’s a good thing, since the basic elements of their dark, heavy and brooding style of heavy metal appears to be surprisingly easy to duplicate and has resulted in a slew of sound-alikes that concentrate more on gurgling guitars and simple, violent lyrics rather then creating the more unique blend of grooves, heavy metal, and twisted imagery that made Korn so popular.

Of course, there are accusations that the Korn sound wasn’t original to begin with, but then again, most "break-out" bands that popularize a particular style of music tend to get slapped with that accusation.  Whether it be timing, better production, "pop-ier" songwriting, or just sheer luck, there’s almost always other bands that have been doing the same type of music for longer and go unrecognized.  Deal with it.   

So what of the music?  Well, hell, it is good (assuming you like really heavy stuff, of course) – guttural, throbbing guitar and bass lines that cause entire neighborhoods to turn and stare when you drive through them with the windows down and the radio cranked up.  Its satisfying hunks of heavy metal that can cause the floppiest fop to seethe with testosterone. 

The trademark Korn explosion of sound after the teasing feedback-drenched notes is definitely one of the most delectable nuggets of musical satisfaction in recent years.   The ability to create musical drama is what separates them from their brethren – too many bands keep up the dense, high-speed metal going from start to finish in their songs; and definitely too many bands trudge their way through dark, pseudo-scary Black Sabbath rip-off riffs for agonizing, depressing minutes on end (shout out to Timat here). 

The tension and release of Korn is what made them appealing to metalheads everywhere, and expanded the audience for it as well.  Let’s face it – the role of heavy metal is to release energy: work out aggression through headbanging, moshing, screaming, and generally acting in a socially unacceptable manner.   Korn’s build-then-release style of creating songs lends itself perfectly to this, allowing some breathing room, and a chance to pent up one’s energy between sonic blasts.

Granted, this is hardly a new concept – one could say that Korn simply took the "rave-ups" of the 60’s and made it heavier and louder, and you wouldn’t be far from right.  If the Yardbirds were a lot more pissed off and tuned their guitars WAY down low, you have a good basis for Korn. 

The Greatest Hits album itself is a great overview – as someone who as seen them live twice (Once at Woodstock ’99 and once while on tour with Rob Zombie, and yes both times it was with "that girl"… *sigh*) but never owned a disc by them, it gave me the perfect set of songs that were great in concert.  I really don’t want to do the usual song-by-song bullshit analysis of it – I’m not enough of a fan to lend a critical eye towards it all, and I’m sure that the most hardcore fans will be upset at the exclusion of numerous songs, as is the case with any greatest hits compilation.  The mix is good, and offers the perfect sampling for the casual fan or general appreciator of their musical influence.

As good as the music disc is, the DVD bonus disc might be even better.  A six song compilation of their surprise CBGB club performance is what to play for a non-believer.  Its been a few years since I saw Korn live and forgot how intense they are – everything is amplified: the volume, the bass lines, the feedback, Jonathan Davis’ singing, and the just-on-the-edge nature of the songs and their lyrics.  Their songs become a heart-pumping wall of menacing sound, one that will make you wish you were in a mosh pit RIGHT NOW, or that you had that high school bully tied up in a chair in front of you just so you could kick the shit out of him. 

In Honor of Jimmy Smith

I just read in Newsweek that Jimmy Smith passed away recently, and was saddened both by the news and the fact that it seemed to go relatively unnoticed.  Jimmy was a revolutionary jazz organist, who brought a distinct funkiness to the world of jazz and helped to make the organ a legit jazz instrument.

On a personal level, it meant a lot to me, as he was one of the artists responsible for my interest in jazz in the first place.  His song "Walk on the Wild Side" (no relation to the Lou Reed song, BTW) was on a jazz compilation disc that my dad had.  I heard this song and fell in love with it, and the disc became mine.  It still stands as one of my all-time favorite jazz songs.  The sampler disc is no longer in print, but you can get the song and his other best songs on Jimmy Smith’s Finest Hour, which is my favorite greatest hits compilation. 

Also, if you want to find out more about Jimmy Smith, visit my favorite music info site (anyone got any others as good or better?) at

Keep on jazzin’

Music Overload

A couple of years ago, the pundits were running around predicting the death of the music industry because of MP3’s, digital formats, pirating, etc. etc.  blah blah blah. 

Well, let me tell you, I have recently realized that for the first time ever, even *I* may be overwhelmed by the music choices out there now.  I now have a CD collection thats over 1,200 strong, an iTunes program that has 100’s of songs, both downloaded and ripped from my CD collection, and XM radio that I can use both in my car and in my house, as well as an additional subscription to them online so I can listen to them at work.  Add to that just the regular radio stations out there, and I’m able to be surrounded by music 24/7/365.

Now I’m thinking of adding an MP3 player to that mix just to be a bit more "portable" (was away on a one-night business trip last week and brought along a CD player and a CD, and realized that it would have been nice to have an iPod, in case anyone would like to buy it for me….). 

Don’t get me wrong – I’m lovin’ it, but I’ve had XM for almost a year now, and iTunes for about six months, and I’m realizing that my CD’s are starting to collect dust unless I’m ripping them onto iTunes.  Though I’m still buying new ones.  Its remarkable to be able to have all these great musical choices at my fingertips.

I guess the question is this – do all these new channels of distribution have any positive impacts on the art of music?  I’m listening to the "Unsigned" channel on XM as I write this, and I hear a lot of stuff that’s not groundbreaking, but still far better than most of the crap that’s on regular radio (which I actually can’t stand any more, except for the local classical and public radio stations, which don’t have all the usual obnoxious FM radio station hooey).   I’m glad that they are getting airtime SOMEWHERE, but wouldn’t it be great if more people could hear them?