Cornell’s First Meeting of the Ornithology Club: Andrew Bird Live

By DJ JT

Last month I had the immense pleasure of going to Ithaca to listen to a bird whistle, sing, and play violin, glockenspiel, and guitar. Andrew Bird’s performance was magnificent and one of the most incredible displays of musical genius I’ve witnessed in quite some time. After Alpha Consumer, the band formed by some of the members of Bird’s backing band, played a loud set with some very powerful lead guitar work Andrew Bird stepped onto the stage and immediately set to work recording his loops. The acoustics of Cornell’s Bailey Hall are notoriously good and thus only made the hum of his violin that much more succulent.

Andrew Bird has an enormous repertoire to choose from when playing live. His choices for that evening’s set included pieces from his work with the Bowl of Fire (“Why?”) to some of his classics (“Plasticities” and “Weather Systems”) to his latest work off of Noble Beast and Useless Creatures (“Anonanimal,” “Nyatiti,” and “Carrion Suite”). Perhaps the most incredible part of seeing Andrew Bird’s display of musical talent was seeing it all come together in real time. Using a couple loop boxes he made it seem as if there were an entire string orchestra, a whistler, a singer, and someone playing the glockenspiel all on stage at the same time. He would often have ten to fifteen loops going at any given time. At times the musical polymath would speed one up, put it at half speed, or kill the loop and bring it back later in the song. Although Bird’s virtuosity of the violin was an amazing thing to hear and to see it was very nearly matched by his mastery of his loops.

The first half of Bird’s set was a solo set; he invited Alpha Consumer (two of the three members being in Bird’s backing band) to play onstage with him. As Bird is working on a new album with his band, a sizable number of new songs were played (some of which had been recorded as recently as two days prior). However, the band did play some celebrated classics such as “Fake Palindromes.” The show ended with a crowd keeping time by clapping along to “Some of These Days” from his Bowl of Fire days—making it feel like something of a square-dancing jig—and a beautiful solo rendition of “Weather Systems.”

In the end, it was Andrew Bird’s violin playing that brought out the most intense state of musical euphoria that evening. The harmonies he created that oftentimes seemed improvised were brilliantly devised as well as his solo work throughout the night. To truly understand and appreciate Andrew Bird as a force he must be experienced live and in a silent, dimly lit setting to be truly felt. When I closed my eyes the setting and the music made it possible for me to feel as if I was the only one listening to this master of music in a hall of a thousand people. This ornithologist can give nothing but praise for the great Andrew Bird and can do no more than exhort you to find where he’s playing next to find out for yourself why I have the utmost respect for this enchanting virtuoso.


DEATHFIGHT: Esperanza Spalding vs. Justin Bieber.

 

By Dan Pinsk

On Sunday, February 13th, 2011 something miraculous happened: a talented artist beat out a tween heartthrob for Best New Artist at the Grammies.  That’s right folks, Esperanza Spalding, a talented jazz fusion upright bassist and singer won out over Justin Bieber, whose greatest strength is whatever the fuck keeps his hair like that (seriously, what the fuck is that?  Is it some type of special space-polymer hair gel?  I mean that looks like NASA grade material right there).  This sparked an uproar across the internet, as Justin Bieber fans and anti-Bieberites waged war across Miss Spalding’s Wikipedia page.  The first shot fired in this war was the replacing of the line about her win with “BIEBER 4 LYFE”, and the returning volley was started with “HaHa Justin Bieber, you’re just a little boy with no Grammy for Best New Artist”.  I am here to fire the last shot in this war.  No, my friends, I’m not here to decide who really deserved the Grammy (it was Esperanza), I’m here to decide something much more important:  who would win in a fight, Esperanza Spalding or Justin Bieber?

Do you really believe Beiber can fight anyone? Anyone at all?

While Bieber is inarguably a less talented musician he does have one thing going for him; he’s boys with Usher.  Usher is friends with Ludacris and Lil’ John.  Lil’ John has the East Side Boys.  What I’m saying is that Bieber has a fairly large crew that could potentially aid him in training him and supporting him in this fight.  Usher especially packs a dangerous punch with his Dance-fu (Seriously, did you see the music video for “Yeah!” a few years ago?  He can pull himself along the floor with invisible rope!  He’s like the most badass mime ever!).  With training from Usher, and Lil’ John defending him with his ultrasonic blasts of “WHAT!” and “OKAY!”, Bieber definitely has a shot in this fight.  He may be small and look like a metrosexual chipmunk, but he does have an army to go to war with.

Esperanza, on the other hand, is mostly a lone soul on this battlefield.  She’s collaborated with a few artists before on the Jazz scene, sure, but most Jazz musicians are…less than useful in a fight.  Sure, Stanley Clarke may be an exception, being a fucking giant, but that’s about it.  She’s not out of this fight though, not by a long shot.  You see, Esperanza Spalding is an upright bassist, and one who was trained at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the nation’s top contemporary conservatory.  She carried around a big honkin’ piece of wood all over Boston, with no car and no one to help her out.  She’s a strong chick, something you can probably tell from her sweet afro.  This doesn’t even account for her finger strength, acquired from years of playing on the long, thick bass strings.  Hell, she could crush Bieber’s prepubescent balls between two fingers if she wanted to.  She also has her bass, a notable weapon in her practiced hands.  It is a well known fact that all students studying at Berklee are required to fight to the death with their instruments during the graduation ceremony, weeding out the weak musicians and leaving only the strong.  Basically, THIS…..IS…..SPALDING…and she’s a tough, funky, woman who can hold her own in a fight, without any help.

Esperanze Spalding soul-funk ass-kicking bad-assery personified

So who would win?  Sorry Bieber fans, it’s Esperanza.  She’ll take out his crew in a matter of moments.  Lil’ John is the easiest, all she has to do is offer him a collaboration and he’ll switch allegiances.  He needs the money…and the fame, and I don’t think The Lonely Island’s been calling.   Usher can be dealt with by playing a funky bass line, as he’s a slave to the rhythm.  She should be able to get him to dance himself to death, or at least tire him out and leave him open to an attack.  Ludacris would be dealt with using Esperanza’s bass fighting skills, and that would just leave Justin.  Out of respect for the Bieber fans and their twofold losses, I won’t go into detail about his defeat.  In conclusion:  Esperanza Spalding is superior to Bieber in every way.  Now, I just hope I don’t incur the wrath of the Bieb-DAN PINKS iS a HuGe Sluttt LOL HE SuCks sooooomany ballls.  BIEBER 4 LYFE!


Don’t Panic! Yet

By Carmen Rey

 

Panic!’s new album cover

In 2006, a lot of American teenagers fell in love with the sound of Panic! At the Disco. Their outrageously long song titles and the ridiculous way they made their entire concert into a circus act won the hearts of many new fans. So after “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” had played itself out at every clothing store that catered to teenaged girls, we were a bit sad to see their catchy tunes disappear.

A few years later they were back, and boggling our minds again with this concept of “Nine in the Afternoon”.  This song seemed to be the only thing worth hearing on the radio from that album, though I must admit there were some other catchy tunes that didn’t quite find their way to the airwaves.

The album Pretty. Odd.  seemed to be the last of this band – at least, we thought it was. They went to work on a new album, but only a few months later two of the four members told fans they were leaving because of creative differences, leaving only lead singer Brandon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith to sweep up the pieces of the broken band. That coupled with the recent drop of the exclamation point in their Panic! and fans were baffled by what to expect from their beloved band. They were gone.

Or so we thought.

Now, 3 years after their last album and the loss of their guitarist and drummer, Panic! At the Disco is back and rocking about as well as they ever did. Urie and Smith have trucked on despite their missing bandmates and have already released the first single, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” from their album Vices and Virtues, due to release March 22.

The boys decide to turn in their big top fashion and for Steampunk chic but that’s not the only thing that’s changed about P!ATD. Without Ryan Ross playing the guitar, Panic!’s sound is just a bit different from what we knew. A little safer, I suppose. Even the song titles are safe in comparison to the lengthy titles that no one can ever truly remember from “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”. Urie’s voice and harmonies still have me humming along but I’m not entirely positive how well this new CD will do with “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” as the first single. After winning hearts with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” it’s a little hard to come back with something that seems so tame by comparison.

Personally, I miss the old sound, but when the band splits because of creative differences, you know that something’s about to change. The most I can say is that I hope that Urie and Smith can keep Panic! going strong enough to have their fans coming back for more. I know I’m looking forward to the rest of the album; at least “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” didn’t scare me away from them entirely. But here’s to hoping.

Creating an Album

By Jesse Gillenwaters

This winter break I put out an album under my rustic moniker “Basic Printer.” I’ll start by telling you I get a hell of a lot of questions about the choice for my artist name. I guess that’s pretty good. I’d rather it invoke some thought than have it be something more expected. But I still don’t know how to answer the question of how I chose my name…to me, it encompasses my sound a bit: unreliable at times, “older-new,” beeps, clicks. Perhaps interesting to look at. 



Basic Printer

The name of the album is “Poor Ian,” a concept album of a character named Ian. It’s a (perhaps loose) story of an introvert who gets so caught up in the wonderful world that is his mind that when he feels something external, he doesn’t know how to deal with it…and let’s say he lets it get to his head. But I don’t feel right summarizing the story exactly, I’d like to let the listener imagine Ian as they like.

Making this album was magical. I would start with a handful of electronic devices: microphones, old musical toys, triangles, synthesizers, drum machines…and then I’d essentially pick one and see what I could do. One thing leads to another and by the end of the song you have a really innovative, weird sounding composition. I’ve always made music this way: starting with a single notion and letting it inspire the rest blindly. Sometimes I feel guilty in doing this…but what I’ve learned is that you have to enjoy the end product for what it is. I really have to get to know my own songs when I’m finished with them. Sometimes I change them entirely right before I think I’m finished. I tend to be thankful for this for a few reasons…one of which is that I have something to analyze when I’m done, not some tired sounding thing I had lying in my head for years. Another part of it is that it’s hard to get a song to sound similar. For many this is too unconventional, but I embrace it; I don’t think every thought in Indie-Rock, sometimes I think in House or Minimalist or Metal. There’s no reason a musician should limit themselves to a genre. Take a look at Radiohead, The Beatles, or Pink Floyd…similar idea, no?

Perhaps both the climax and the resolution of the album is track 12: “Birds.” To me, it is the emotional core of the album. Primarily, it’s a metaphor involving two birds, where (in a nutshell) one flies away from the other, never to see the other again. The lyrics incorporate a bit of Ian’s thoughts, desperation and curiosity, not knowing whether to blame himself or the other bird for her departure…What I liked about it is that the listener might feel bad for “Ian” or might stand by the “bird” that leaves him. A set of lines that always stuck with me from the song go as such:

"You’ve flown far by now, in this I’m sure."
"I’ve repelled you miles from my core."
"I don’t know why I’m so bad, I"
"Figured you’d just give me a try."
"But now I find myself all alone."

The song is extremely dark, but Ian’s narration always remains somewhat neutral; not blaming her, not blaming himself. The vocals are run through a soft yet full vocoder, it being tugged back and forth between pitches a large interval apart.

I’m very proud of how this track came out. It’s very black and purple, with a silvery glow to it all.  (Did I mention I have synesthesia?) To me it best encompasses the character, despite other great “snapshots” of his tendencies, “Unwind Me” for example. It’s a very lo-fi, grainy song, involving musique concrete for percussion, acoustic guitars, a ribbon-synth, and triangles. The song premises Ian in the first half of the album as savant-like: “He was always a good conversationalist, always quick to pick up on every cynical twitch.” It’s clear that Ian isn’t oblivious…in fact perhaps part of his demise was because he was TOO conscious. By the end of the album, we find Ian deteriorated to a pathetic repetition of two lines: “Don’t leave me here to die. I want you here all the time.”

The instrumentation, as was implied earlier, is perhaps juxtaposed and old. Old synths, pre-90’s drum machines, a secondhand acoustic guitar. I was fortunate to have such a collection at my disposal…as a result however, I learned to embrace “limitations” like tape noise, unco-operable synth sequences, and non-programmable drum machines…they force you to use things much more interestingly, and it certainly gives them personality you couldn’t find in an “all-in-one” Korg workstation keyboard, that’s just so impersonal. The album is certainly a ride…80’s sounding synth pads, distorted drum machines, Mellotron, pumping kick drums, searing synth melodies, loud guitar solos, folky chord progressions, and even a tiny bit of sampling.

The album was very therapeutic to make, and taught me that living in your head and feeling like no one will ever understand you is just silly. It is hard to connect with people on a 100% level, but people and family and friends are a lot of fun and have a great deal to share with you, even if they don’t “get you” at times. And this is what was so therapeutic about it: It’s directly from inside my head. If there’s nothing you don’t get, you might find it in “Poor Ian:” my dark trunk of thoughts.

Music Without a Label

By Christine Spilka


Nathan Williams, of Wavves

Who says the major labels have to control the music industry? Independent artists do not have to wait in line to be signed, nor do they have to change for a label once they are signed. The music industry used to pay for recordings in exchange for copyright ownership. This has remained fundamentally unaltered since Elvis’s time (Hunter-Tilney 2). With the new age of the Internet and new affordable production software, artists are taking full advantage of the opportunities available. Social networking sites, self-production software, and music distribution websites are allowing independent artists to create, promote, and distribute music on their own, eliminating the need to be signed to a major label.  Although this method may not be a viable income for newer musicians, artists have the opportunity to have their music heard by the right ears, while more popular artists can take full ownership over their songs.

Social networking sites and blogging are on the rise, and music artists have the opportunity to present their product to a fan base that will follow them, whether they are close friends, strangers, or important businesses. A recent social media study from Edison Research states that the percentage of Americans maintaining a profile page on one or more social sites doubled from 24% in 2008 to 48% in 2010. Even more astonishing, the actual number of Americans who check their social networking sites multiple times a day is 39 million (Webster 1).  Independent artists are taking advantage of these social sites by attracting followers and subscribers to their sites. While Facebook is mostly used for friends and family, anyone can subscribe to an artists’ music page on twitter, including magazines and major news outlets.  Many other social networking sites help make do-it-yourself projects possible, including Bandcamp, Tunecore, Cdbaby, Wordpress, and blogging.      

 Saidthegramophone.com posted one of the tracks from the then-unknown indie act, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on their music blog. Other music blogs quickly picked it up and added to the internet buzz. Less than two months later, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s debut album landed atop Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart—despite the lack of a label deal or distribution agreement (Bruno 2). Other artists like Clap You Hands Say Yeah have also been discovered online. Colbie Caillat, 22-year-old singer-songwriter, was myspace’s most popular unsigned musician. She was discovered and is now signed to Brushfire, the same label as Jack Johnson (Stewart 2).

While self-production allows artists to create a piece of work that includes self-expression and originality, but there are also many downsides to home recording. Some of the disadvantages to home recording are the cost of the equipment. Anyone familiar with the costs of recording equipment and software would agree that it is not an easy thing to save up for. Although this may be true, an artist does not need to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. The most ideal self-mixing program is Pro Tools. It has professional quality and is used in actual recording studios, but it costs a steep $600 for the newest full version. There are alternative programs one can use though, like Logic Express, which costs $200, or even Garageband, the free Mac software program.

Nathan Williams, under the name Wavves, is a noise pop musician based in San Diego, California. Since he recorded his first LP using Garageband in his mom’s basement in 2008, he has gained notable media attention from Pitchfork, ABC News, and other websites. Currently signed to Fat Possum Records, Williams released his second full-length album, Wavvves, in 2009 and his third album, ‘King of the Beach’, on August 3rd 2010. Both albums received a “Best New Music” rating on Pitchfork, which is ranked as the number one Indie website by Topsite.com. This proves that anyone with any kind of recording equipment can make a record, put it online, and receive attention for it. Pro tools, Logic Express, or Garageband can be a reliable software options for any artist.

The Internet provides ways for musicians to distribute their music on various websites. Mp3.com offers thousands of free downloads of independent artists, giving the artists more opportunities to be discovered (Loden 1). Websites that give artists revenue for releasing their music on such websites include Weedfiles.com, where the artist receives 50% of sales. CDBaby and CDRevolution offer artists 75% of sales on a consignment basis, as well as additional promotion. The desire to self-release music is growing increasingly popular not only with upcoming musicians, but also with those who want flexibility to be more creative with their work.

Radiohead self-released their album In Rainbows online in 2007, telling fans they should pay whatever they thought the music was worth.  It was found that the album sold more than 3 million copies worldwide after the hard CD was released. Radiohead would keep all the revenue they raised themselves-and have, for the first time in their career, copyright ownership of their songs (Loden 1). This is ultimately what Radiohead had done by giving fans the option to download the CD for free. Online distribution sites can and should be used, but an upcoming artist should not rely on these sites, for record labels provide practical starts to careers. In the early stages of distribution, these sites can be beneficial for an artist by getting their music recognized by potential fans and/or record labels.

Self-production software, social networking sites, and music distribution websites are allowing independent artists to create, promote, and distribute music on their own, eliminating the need to be signed to a major label. Artists use do-it-yourself methods for various reasons, but whatever the reason may be; they have the resources at-hand to get their name and music out to the public. Through social networking, musicians can create fan-bases and followers that can assist them in sales and promotion when later distributing a product. Self-production can be made possible by affordable software and equipment. Whether an artist wants to create music for their own pleasure or they want to be the next big thing, the tools and resources are available to make that possible.


The Whitestripes Break: Moe Knows How That Shit Went Down

By Dan Pinsk

The following is the conversation that led to the end of “The White Stripes”

Meg: Hey Jack!  You uh…you want to record another album?  Get the ol’ family band back together?  Maybe go on tour or something?

Jack:  Family…oh! You mean the White Stripes?  That old thing?  Heh.  I guess I just sort of forgot about that whole thing.  Ya know, cause it was only half a band and stuff and I’ve been performing with The Racontours and The Dead Weather.  Ya know, those supergroups where I actually have good musicians to play off of?

Meg:  Yeah, but I was your first.  What do you say, eh?  You want to help your “sister” out?

Jack:  Okay gross, stop it, we have actually had sex.  You’re my ex-wife.  I don’t know why we played up the whole brother-sister idea back then, I was really REALLY high, okay?  Cut that shit out.

 Meg:  I thought you did it so you wouldn’t have to pay alimony. 

Jack:  And it worked!  I’m really not sure why you agreed to that by the way.  You could be making millions by sitting on your ass and living off your famous rock star ex-husband.  Oh wait, you did that anyways because you’re a terrible drummer!  You just hit the bass drum half the time!  Honey, you ain’t Neil Peart.

Meg: S-so…you’re…you’re not….you’re saying…

Jack:  Yeah, I’m good.  I’m just gonna go jam with Alicia Keys and get paid millions to write the Bond theme.  Wait, I did that already.  That’s okay, Dangermouse just called.  He said he wants to record with me and Norah Jones.  Heh, maybe she can be my new “sister”.  Okay, ew I just thew up a little.  I’m just trying to imply that I’m going to get intimate with her.  Physically intimate.  Ya know.  Sexually intimate.   I plan on boning her.  And she’ll know why!  Ho ho!  Another one for the Jackster!

Meg: Please Jack…I’ll do anything!  Just…just one more album…maybe a farewell tour?  What do you say Jack, please?  I’m on my knees here…

Jack: I can see that!  The whole world saw that already on the internet!  And seriously, watching that video was not pleasant for me.  Do you know how unpleasant that was for me to watch every time I showed it to my friends? I almost threw up the popcorn Chet made.  

Meg begins to weep.

Jack:  Yeaaaaaaaaaaah….soooo, I’m gonna go.  Have fun being a solo artist!

At that point Jack walked out the door and slammed it in Meg’s face.  She continued to cry in the fetal position on the floor for several hours.  Jack’s agent made the post officiating their break up.  


DEATHFIGHT: Prince vs. David Bowie (and Batman is involved, too)

By Dan Pinsk

For a while now I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with my friend, Jon.  The discussion involves two titans of classic rock, Prince and David Bowie.  It started out as the usual “Who’s more awesome?” debate, in which I took the side of Bowie and he took the side of Prince, but this was too hard because we were both too stubborn and because I like Prince too much and I wasn’t winning.  Then it evolved into something much more interesting:  who would win in a fight?  Today, I’m going to try answer that question. For this contest we’ll look at both performers in their peak decade:  Prince in the 80s and Bowie in the 70s. 

Do you seriously think you could mess with that?

Let’s start off with Prince.  The guy was a champ in the 80s, ruling the charts with Purple Rain and Sign O’ the Times, starring in a string of entertaining, if terrible, movies, and all around freaking people out with his choice of clothing and scary thin mustache.  Now, based on Purple Rain, we can assume he’s a badass.  I mean, he’s a tiny guy, but he rides a sweet purple motor cycle and he’s kinda toned.  He also wrote Darling Nikki.  I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but it’s a really badass song that I can only assume he wrote while doing sexual kung fu.  Moving on to later in the decade he did the soundtrack for the movie Batman 89, the first one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as the Joker.  This can only mean one thing:  Prince is friends with Batman.  Ho.  Ly.  Shit.  This obviously means that he has been trained in at least three different disciplines of martial arts takedowns specializing in breaking criminals’ spines AND he has a collection of batarangs.  In fact, due to his size and acrobatic skill, I wouldn’t be surprised if he went out as Robin on patrol with Bats sometimes (seriously, that would be so awesome.  He could’ve handled himself against the Joker, unlike some people!).  So, in conclusion, tiny black effeminate Robin using sexual kung fu to write amazing songs and riding a purple motor cycle into battle.  

David Bowie had more personas in the 70s than a Multiple Personality Disorder patient.   Ziggy Stardust, Halloween Jack, The Thin White Duke, they all influenced his music and his actions.  For the sake of argument, David Bowie IS these characters.  I’m going to focus on the two most famous ones, Ziggy and the The Duke.  Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with weird and gilly, and the Spiders from Mars.  He debuted with the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and if I had to tell you that I don’t really care to know you.  He was an alien human hybrid who came down to earth during the end times to act as its saviour through Rock and Roll, and ended up being consumed by his drug and sex habits and by his rabid fans.  He also had a huge dong.  Seriously, that’s one of the lyrics.  So basically, he was a rock and roll alien/God, who was consumed by the turmoil of Rock and Roll.  Ziggy Stardust wrote songs in which he claimed to be an alligator, a space invader, and a rock n’ rollin’ bitch who wanted his fans to shoot him in the face with rayguns.  That’s got badass written all over it.   The second personality, The Thin White Duke, was a much darker character.  He was a soulless, insane, authoritarian, amoral aristocrat who sang romantic songs with a hollow, cold heart.  He debuted in the album Station to Station, and was fueled by “red peppers, cocaine, and milk”.  During interviews he said that “Britain could benefit from an authoritarian leader” and was once stopped at the Russian-Polish border for possessing Nazi paraphernalia.  He was fucking crazy, and dangerous as hell, a result of a cocaine infused downward spiral for the rock star.  This is less badass and more batshit insane, but no less dangerous to an opponent.  So to sum up David Bowie, well hung alien rock star fueled by cocaine and with total disregard for humanity.

Ziggy Stardust, in his “preparing to kick your ass” pose.

So who would win?  Honestly, I don’t know.  On one side of the ring we have an acrobatic kung fu sex machine who throws batarangs and on the other we have a pale faced psychopath with little respect for humanity…..and……..fuck, I just proved that David Bowie is The Joker, didn’t I?  Well this is embarassing, here I thought I was writing a respectable piece about elderly rock stars beating the ever loving shit out of each other and now I’m just ranting about the never ending struggle between the Dark Knight and his greatest foe.  Oh well, I guess the world will never which effeminate rock star would make the other scream like a little girl.

Beatles Colonize iTunes: What’s All the Fuss About?

by Dan Spaventa

 

When the homepage on my macbook alerted me on Monday November 16th that tomorrow would be a day “that you’ll never forget”, I expected Apple to deliver a technical innovation more grand than anything previously conceivable. Basically, I expected nothing short of a paper clip-sized machine made of recycled materials that could simultaneously stream every movie ever made, update my facebook status by voice command, project the New York Times Arts and Leisure section onto any surface, provide a soothing back massage every hour on the hour, produce holograms of my dead relatives doing karaoke of each song on my iTunes library, and gently clip my toe nails one-by-one. Since the Mac guys had never before made so bold a promise to me and have revolutionized most elements of technology I use daily, I braced myself for something profound.

The next morning when I woke up, I giddily booted up my computer and, to my surprise, saw none other than the Fab Four staring back at me from the Apple homepage with the announcement “Beatles Now on iTunes” on display. I sat there dumbstruck as if I just opened up a Christmas stocking filled with SAT prep books and dead butterflies. Naturally, my initial reaction was: That’s it?

Of course I realize that the dissolving of years of holdouts preventing iTunes from selling Beatles records meant a big day for Apple. The longstanding dispute provided unavoidable criticism of the iTunes service since its inception in 2001. Undoubtedly Apple will continue to profit from this agreement for decades, so congrats to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. We’re all pulling for you.

  As grand a feat as this was for Mr. Jobs, was it really a big day for us? We all have those nights where a 3 a.m. purchase of Mean Mr. Mustard would tickle our fancy, but a day that I’ll “never forget” was too bold of a promise that Apple did not deliver on.

Any actual Beatles fan has not have been deprived of the music to this point, as digital music is not the be all and end all of attaining our music. I doubt any fan looked upon Apple’s announcement with tears of happiness streaming down their cheeks, taking a mental picture of the moment and vowing never to forget it.

Yes, I guess it is a cool thing that The Beatles finally join every other important artist on one of the biggest music selling services today, but believe me, this was hardly something I will never forget. Next time Apple makes so bold a promise, it better be half as good as my initial expectation.

Weezer Finally Redeem Themselves

by Dan Spaventa


After Rivers Cuomo’s 80‘s porn star ‘stache on the self-titled red album and the floating dog of last year’s Raditude, Weezer’s latest album cover for their new record Hurley hardly feels out-of-place. Only Weezer could put Jorge Garcia, the actor who portrayed the large lovable Hugo “Hurley” Reyes on the hit TV series Lost, on the cover of their LP without their fanbase raising a finger. After 2 very questionable (mildly entertaining in a so-bad-its-good sort of way) releases in the self-titled red album and Raditude, Weezer fans can exhale a sigh of relief now that the band is back to doing what they do best. Hurley, the band’s first record on indie label Epitaph Records, is a return to the pop-punk sound that attracted the band’s wide fan base back in the 90‘s.

 

Hurley’s first single, “Memories” is a nostalgic homage to all the fun the band had back in the 90‘s “pissing in plastic cups” and “watching freaky dutch kids vomit then have sex”. The catchy chorus, featuring a cameo from the cast of Jackass, will be a loud raucous sing-along at Weezer shows for years to come. “Trainwrecks” takes a darker turn, reminiscent of the raw, personal Pinkerton-era sound of the band, while “Hang On” gives the album its quintessential power-pop ballad. A jarringly out-of-place bonus track of “Viva la Vida” showcases the fact that Rivers Cuomo does not have Chris Martin’s vocal range, but surely Cuomo’s fans won’t mind.

 

Finally what would a Weezer album be without at least one instance of nonsensical delirium? In the catchy power-punk track “Where’s My Sex” Cuomo looks around for his socks, considers the cultural significance of his socks, and scares himself with the social ramifications of not finding his socks. Now insert the word sex every time he means to say socks and Weezer has created another bizarre geeky anthem for the next generation of their fans. Hurley would be proud. 



Final Grade: B

Key Tracks: Memories, Hang On, Where’s My Sex?, Trainwrecks

Indie Music can go Suck it…Sort of

By Dan Pinsk

When you hear the word “indie” what comes to mind?  Low budgets?  Complex, open ended, storylines?  Michael Cera in short shorts?  If I add the word music to that, what do you get?  Reverbed out guitars?   High pitched vocals?  Connor Oberst in….well no, he doesn’t really dig the shorts shorts (I think it’s a body image thing).  Now, I admit to liking some indie rock (I absolutely <3 IO Perry and Ra Ra Riot and there’s nothing better for a good cry than a Bright Eyes song), but I really don’t think the word fits the genre.  

 

Indie these days is being used in the same way that the word “alternative” was used in the 90’s.  Don’t know how to describe it?  It’s indie!  Bam!  Label it, put it on the shelves, and watch the money…slowly dribble in from the few kind souls who still purchase music.  I don’t really have a problem with this.  It’d be hard to find music if each band had a label that truly reflected their sound (Oh, you want the new Javelin album?  It’s over in the Nouveau-80’s-trip-hop section), but come on…a lot of these bands sound alike. 

 

I’m talking about indie outfits that really don’t need to be labeled as such, they just need a subgenre label of rock.  I’m talking about bands like Ra Ra Riot, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Maps and Atlases.  I’m talking about bands we could define as ___-rock.  Symph-Rock, Synth-Rock, Reverb-Rock; these are all names I would prefer.  Hell, if symph-rock became a real genre I’d be ecstatic (Seriously, Ra Ra Riot, I love you.  Alexandra Lawn, you are the most beautiful and talented woman in the world).   Even “Blank”-rock would be kind of a cool genre name, but only if you guys pay me for every time you say it because it was my idea.

 

All of this would leave the indie genre open and clear for bands that really need the label, because they truly are too unique to put under any other genre.  Bands like Man Man (I’ve been describing them as carnies with far too many instruments), Gogol Bordello (Gypsy-Punk works fine I guess, but it’s gotta be a lonely genre), and Beck (Who I also <3, and who is possibly the only genre buster I would miss defining cause I love the idea of “Electro-Folk”).  

 

I know this is a really stupid complaint that I have, but it’s something that really bothers me.  I also know that some of the bands I mentioned really are “indie rock”, but I don’t like the idea of indie being a modifier here.  It dilutes the word and causes confusion between blank-rock styles and the truly odd fare that need the indie label.  

 

Finally, I feel the need to say this.  Yes.  You’re right.  This whole article was really all just a thinly veiled rant about how much I hate hipsters and their shitty music.  I hate the bands that you think are indescribable, but are actually just whiny effeminate men with a little guitar proficiency backed by 3 synth players.  Please, for the love of God, stop being a “thing.”  Your ugly sweater parties and ironic games of kickball make me sick.