Times are tough all around. Unemployment levels in America recently hit 7.6%, with 598,000 people losing their jobs in January alone. Economists predict this trend will get much, much worse before it gets any better. So needless to say, there are a lot of good people in this country out of work through no fault of their own.
So it’s nice to know at least one asshole is losing work just because he sucks at what he does.
You’ve probably heard of Carlos Mencia a time or two before. He’s the professional prostitute who’d be more than happy to call his own mother a beaner, just as long as someone was willing to pay him to do it. As a comedian, his major strengths are stealing other comedians’ material and reminding you roughly every three minutes of how “controversial” he is. And, as with most things in life, if someone feels the need to keep telling you over and over how [fill in the blank] they are, chances are they really aren’t all that [fill in the blank]. Thus, Carlos Mencia is about as controversial as a three-day-opened bag of chips, unless you consider the act of being unfunny to be controversial, for some reason.
That doesn’t stop Mencia from trying, however. So he’s been doing roughly the same shuck-and-jive act for the last three or four years and, like most untalented assholes in this country, becoming very rich and famous from doing it. Just ask Dane Cook. But the problem with being a flash-in-the-pan is that you do, in fact, flash in the pan. Just ask Dane Cook. And then, from there, it all goes downhill. Which is where Carlos currently finds himself, at the very bottom part of the slide right before his fat ass falls off and hits the gravel.
And he hadn’t even had a chance to make any shitty Larry the Cable Guy-style direct to DVD movies yet. Shame that.
So let’s see what’s happening with old Carlos at this particular point in his death spiral. Oh, looky here. Turns out that, while making fun of “wetbacks” is always good for a chuckle with the crackers, it doesn’t quite go over so well with actual Mexicans. Imagine that.
CARLOS Mencia’s plan to raise PTA funds for students in Santa Monica is muerto. The Comedy Central “Mind of Mencia” star was to headline a fund-raiser this month for the Edison Language Academy, a Spanish-language immersion school. But his humor offended Mexican-American activist Elias Serna. School superintendent Tim Cuneo told Post correspondent David Finnigan he dropped the show because of “issues regarding safety. There were veiled threats [of disruptions].” Serna claims Mencia isn’t in touch with his Chicano/Mexican-American heritage and needs to “see his responsibility to his Latino audience. Mencia almost entirely relies on put-downs of Mexicans.” Mencia’s flack, Howard Bragman, said: “Carlos tried to do a good thing and because of one guy’s actions, the kids ultimately suffer.”
Gotta love how Mencia’s PR flack is a big a bitch as he is. “Won’t somebody think of the children?!” Well, if all it takes to make children suffer is denying them their ability to watch bland, shitty comedy, then I guess I wholeheartedly support child abuse.
If I ever run for President, please don’t use that last statement against me.
First of all, I’m sorry I made you have to watch that. I saw about the first thirty seconds while posting it and now part of my soul is bleeding. Second, I really tried to find a clip that didn’t have the dumbass prefacing his ridiculously inappropriate Katrine jokes by making beaner cracks or telling you how “controversial” and “edgy” his lame material is, but would you believe that no such clip actually exists? Yeah, what a surprise.
Anyway, the Krewe of Orpheus for some reason didn’t think that jokes about poor black people drowning in New Orleans was really all that funny, so they yanked his invite and replaced him with Joan Rivers. Yup. Joan Rivers. You know, when the immediate choice to replace you as a comedian is Joan fucking Rivers, an intelligent person would take that as a reflection on their limited comedic abilities. I’m pretty sure the thought will never even occur to Mencia, however. That would require self-awareness.
As much I might enjoy the schadenfreude of Mencia’s sudden inability to hold onto a job, you know what might be even better? If he hadn’t been asked to do these appearances in the first place. Wouldn’t that be a novel concept? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if fat, unfunny, worthless pieces of shit just died in the streets penniless and unloved, like nature intended them to, instead of constantly being rewarded for their mediocrity over and over again?
Maybe it’s just all this hope and change bullshit that’s floating around all over the place these days, but I dare to dream of a future for my unborn child that is completely and totally Mencia-free. I want my daughter to know a world where no matter who you are or where you’re from, you can get ahead in this country, just as long as you’re not a big, fat, talentless load. Dream with me, America. Dream of a world without Mencia.
Come together, people. We may never get the economy fixed again, but together, at least one of us can brain Carlos Mencia with a brick. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
Y’all know the Grammys right? That awards show that honors the best in music by giving awards to musicians that haven’t been relevant in twenty years? Yeah, that’s the ones. Anyway, crappy awards shows need liveblogging too. So let’s do an impromptu one, and see what comes of it.
The following liveblog is in 3-D. Please put on your glasses now.
This Top Ten list of albums from 2008 was due yesterday, but I waited until today to post it. Let’s pretend it was a tribute to “Chinese Democracy.” I want to let it go …. but I just can’t.
2008 sure was a fantastic year for music. For context, the mythical griffin, “Chinese Democracy” came out, and it wasn’t the best album of the year. Hell, it wasn’t even the best album released that day. But, I digress. Also, I didn’t have nearly enough money to buy all the ones I should have. So, no Bon Iver or Deermilk or M83 or Beyonce or Lil Wayne. Excuses, I’ve got a milli.
Regardless, here it is. The third in Sod Blog’s trifecta.
10. We Are Scientists — “Brain Thrust Mastery”
We Are Scientists go all Bloc Party on this, settling in from their post-punk thrash and concentrating on pop appeal. Sure, they lost an awesome drummer, but “Brain Thurst Mastery” is wholly satisfying, and the remaining two guys seem like pretty awesome guys. You think we could ever be friends?
9. Wolf Parade – “At Mount Zoomer”
Wolf Parade’s first disc was Scarlett Johanssen. First time you saw her in “Ghost World,” you didn’t know who she was, but you knew right off that a near-criminal obsession was at hand. Wolf Parade’s second disc, “At Mount Zoomer,” is Zooey Deschanel. You took notice of her as the sister on “Almost Famous,” then you marveled at her voice in the ending credits of “Elf,” and after repeated appearances in film, over and over, you finally figure out Zooey’s got Scarlett totally outclassed.
Maybe I should’ve put She and Him’s album on this list.
8. My Morning Jacket — “Evil Urges”
You know the first few, discombobulating minutes you experience after you walk into a crowded bar, and all your senses are just on overload, what with the stench of cigarettes and testosterone, sights of humanity spinning all around you and the sounds of all these assholes screaming at each other? And you realize there’s a band playing in the corner, all scraggly and bearded, dressed like they should be unloading a truck at Wal-Mart? Based just on their appearance, you assume they’re playing “Midnight Rider” or “Black Betty,” but then your bearings come rushing in and it hits you … “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”? Prince? Your ears and your eyes are locked in a struggle to the death. “Touch me; I’m going to scream,” you whisper to the closest possible stranger, before you run out, crying.
Yeah, I suppose not. But this album jars my equilibrium to the point of ecstasy.
7. Kanye West — “808s and Heartbreaks”
I’m just fascinated by this guy. He takes all the shit in the world for making these grand statements about how important he is to the press, and makes a spectacle when he doesn’t get his just due. Someone like this can’t possibly be real, can’t possibly be a fully functioning human being with insecurities and feelings and all that. Most likely, he’s Britney Spears. And then he releases “808s and Heartbreaks,” which on its face sounds like the most ridiculous concept possible — No rapping? Just singing and Auto-Tunes? Really? — and it’s the most authentic, painful expression of breakup and remorse since Beck did it.
In other “psychological analysis of a megalomaniac” new, “Chinese Democracy” might have been in this spot, but I can’t have too heads as big as Axl’s and Kanye’s on the same list. Too top-heavy.
6. Kings of Leon — “Only By the Night”
Seems like every year, somebody’s gotta get the “trying to be U2″ tag, and this was the Kings’ turn. So every song’s an anthem? Big deal. It’s not as strong a total effort as their previous, “Because of the Times,” but “Sex on Fire” rocks harder than anything on that album, and there’s plenty of other gems on here, “Use Somebody,” “Reverly” and “Notion” … oh, and “Cold Desert” … plus “Closer,” which is actually the opener. … Fuck it; the whole album’s killer.
5. Vampire Weekend — “Vampire Weekend”
Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma? I do; I’ve got to correct at least one of those goddamn things out of copy daily at my day job. Nobody nerds quite so strongly as these guys, and yes, I get that they’re probably the whitest band on the planet right now (sorry, All-American Rejects). But it’s inoffensive indie rock that makes me feel all worldly and book-smart. My self-esteem could use that kind of boost.
4. Murder By Death — “Red of Tooth and Claw”
Why do I love this band so much? Is it the cello on every song? Yes. Is it the lead singer’s Johnny Cash baritone? Yes. Is it the literary themes? The concept albums? The visage of “B” movie westerns and film noir? Yes, yes and yes. “Red of Tooth and Claw” has a storyline like “Who Will Survive ..” did, but it’s less dreary. The songs rumble and chug, sharp like a razor, steady as a train. And there’s never any lack for details in a Murder By Death disc. Rich instrumentation. Rich songwriting. Best of all, it’s a bloody, horrific ordeal.
Once again, no one bares their guts quite like Murder By Death.
3. Paul Westerberg — “49:00”
Westerberg could read classified ads out of the City Pages for 49 minutes, and I’d put it in my Top Ten, so don’t anyone look surprised. On “49:00,” he doesn’t venture too far from his home base. All the songs are ragged and unproduced and just adorably amateur, like all his material in the ’00s. The difference this time is that all the songs are blended together into one track (which doesn’t actually run 49 minutes, but that’s a different story for a different time) and was made available for download for a mere 49 cents. Excited? Don’t be; it’s not available anymore. Again, another story.
Like the running dialogue in your head during any 49 minutes of your day, the songs shift tones and subject at the drop of a hat, sometimes two different songs play in opposite speakers, everything moves along a distinguishable string of logic, but the string is tied in knots. Just hit play, and let your mind wander.
2. “The Gaslight Anthem — “The ’59 Sound”
Did you know the Gaslight Anthem sound like Springsteen? No, it’s true. They picked the A-perfect time to be doing so, too. Just like the Boss stood up and stood out from the pack during tough economic times in his and the Anthem’s home state, New Jersey by so perfectly capturing the struggles of the blue-collar worker, eking out a living to support his family while his hometown and surroundings disintegrated, the Gaslight Anthem is stepping into the worst economic crisis of a generation. So, maybe borrowing Springsteen’s echo and drawl just lends enough credibility to every lyric, every note, that you know these guys are for real.
Contagious energy, unforgettable hooks, a reverence for rock’s roots and sincerity. This one is a landmark.
1. TV on the Radio — “Dear Science”
We all get that this band is two or three planes of existence above the rest of us. So, yeah, their first two albums are brilliant works of art. But can you enjoy either disc all that much? Not really. Appreciate, yes. Enjoy? Except for impossibly-catchy “Wolf Like Me” on “Cookie Mountain,” not as much. But, here it is, third time and they put it together. Genius songwriting, exquisite layering, art that will outlive any of us, and you can pop it on at your next party. No one will even look up from the bowl of Cheez-Its to notice you took MGMT out of the rotation. Equal-parts literature, politics and ass-shaking. It’s perfect.
Also, it’s quite apparent that they can never follow this up. Where can they possibly go from here? Can’t get higher than the mountaintop.
Goodbye, TV on the Radio. I love you.
1: Paul Westerberg – “49:00″ (Screw you; it’s one track. That counts.)
2: Weezer – “The Angel and the One”
3: TV on the Radio – “DLZ”
4: Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”
5: Murder By Death – “Ash”
6: The Gaslight Anthem – “The Backseat”
7: Vampire Weekend – “Oxford Comma”
8: Wolf Parade – “Language City”
9: Bloc Party – “Signs”
10: Kanye West – “Love Lockdown”
11: We Are Scientists – “After Hours”
12: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines”
13: My Morning Jacket – “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream”
Ah, the holidays – a time for yuletide joy, spending time with family, and the opportunity for Nate, Kelly and I to go toe-to-toe on the best music of the past year. It seems like only yesterday when I dominated them with my 2007 list (and, for some odd reason, was accused of getting too competitive with my list-making prowess). So here we go, 2008 style:
Imagine every song you’ve ever heard, intentionally or otherwise, mashed into one album and 14 songs. Sounds like a headache, huh? Not quite. While this album isn’t up to the standard that Girl Talk set with the brilliant 2006 release, Night Ripper, it’s still just stunning to listen to. Hearing songs that I grew up listening to sampled, screwed up and set to hip hop beats is, well, it’s a head-trip, that’s for sure. You spend half of your time marveling at every riff or beat or lyric that you recognize, stunned that your music knowledge is actually much larger than you ever imagined. Hearing Twisted Sister and Temple of the Dog provide the backdrop for the same song, with snippets of ten other songs that you know but can’t quite place, it’s impressive in it’s scope.
I’m not the biggest hip-hop fan, but for some reason, Atmosphere has always held a special spot in my playlist, with their compelling beats and insightful, real-life lyrics. This album, which I think features Slug’s most direct storytelling since Lucy Ford and some genuinely compelling beats. The realism that Slug dabbles in, instead of the extravagance of mainstream hip-hop, is so much more relatable. Atmosphere is the group that introduced me to the idea that I didn’t have to go back to old-school Public Enemy-type hip-hop to find music in the genre that didn’t focus only on booty, benjamins and booze. Atmosphere certainly does that, telling us stories about homeless men, men missing their dead fathers or even prostitutes with vibrancy and heart.
The Constantines are rock and roll in the same way that Creedence Clearwater Revival was rock and roll, Led Zepplin was rock and roll and Pearl Jam is rock and roll. Grunting, sweating and screaming, they pound through songs that are as elemental as dirt. Kensington Heights isn’t a departure, but a natural progression, as The Constantines have expounded upon their early reliance on Fugazi-ish silence and explosion with more driving beats, melodic departures and howling guitars. This is the sound of a band at the height of it’s power, at it’s apex. The only complaint I have with the record is that they still haven’t fully been able to capture the raw emotion and power of their live performances, but they’re getting close.
For a debut album, Army Navy’s self-titled, is a pretty damn good way to start. Combining elements of Apples in Stereo’s joyous, percussive, driving beat and Superchunk’s wide-eyed taking in of the world around them, they have managed to craft a fun, rollicking ride of an album. Kicking off with the excellent “My Thin Sides” and finishing with the 70′s pop cover, “Right Back Where We Started From,” they hit the right note over and over again. This is the kind of album that, while not necessarily full of deep meaning and music virtuosity, gets stuck in your head and will not leave.
Kicking off with the angelic “Get Better,” this new album by husband and wife duo Mates of State is easily their best so far. With their perfect harmonies, lighthearted and uplifting lyrics and simple organ, drum and vocal style, they wrap you in happiness and don’t let go. I can’t imagine a better album to cheer someone up with. They’re not exactly stretching themselves musically from their other releases, but it still feels like a step forward, like all of the elements that have always been their found a way to lock together in a more pleasing way. It’s not all that different, just better.
This album came out of nowhere, for me. Admit it, you’ve never heard of Rural Alberta Advantage, either. In fact, I just bought this record two weeks ago and it really threw a wrench into the assembly of my list. Fittingly enough, this album is one that sneaks up on you, as well. The songs aren’t necessarily slow-burners, like a National record, but they nonetheless gain flavor over repeated listens. The track, “Edmonton” is emblematic of this, with the nasal to the point of ridiculousness vocals and simple arrangement wrapped around a simple repeated line “what if I’m only satisfied when I’m at home?” and it’s variations. That simplicity is beautiful, and so is this album.
Sometimes, an album comes out and is so stunning in it’s brilliance that most people don’t fully know what to do with it. That was Dear Science for me, at first. Full of complex songs with influence drawn from very diverse sources, this album was almost too much to take, the first time I listened to it. Even now, there are songs like “Family Tree” that just leave me speechless. The more I listen to them and watch the progression of their amazing albums, it strikes me that TV on the Radio is our generation’s Steely Dan; they’re a band that everyone likes to appreciate and call genius, but their music is tossed aside, as if it is inconsequential to their success as a band. Basically, they’re the band that every hipster calls their own, even if they don’t own the album. They’re a stamp of cool.
Okkervil River started out in the heroin sheik shadow of Bright Eyes. For many, they were just another over-wrought, sprawling indie pop band. With their last few albums, they’ve emerged from that shadow fully-formed, a tight band with better songs than most of us gave them credit for. Will Sheff sings and howls with gusto and purpose still, but also manages to tone it down and create an album that stands out as better than their past triumph, Black Sheep Boy. With standout tracks like “Calling and Not Calling My Ex” and “Lost Coastlines,” this album hums with emotion.
If you missed this album, it’s too late and too bad. You missed a sloppy gem. 49:00 is one track with many songs pasted on top of, around and over each other. Songs start out of nowhere and end just as abruptly. It’s odd that a concept such as this record, had it been attempted by anyone other than Westerberg, would have fallen flat and seemed childish and trite. But in the hands of old Paul, it’s a masterpiece almost on the same level as his double album Stereo/Mono from 2002. The songs (and pieces of songs) are captivating and exciting, mimicking the unchecked possibility of skipping around the radio dial. Especially of note is the last 5-6 minutes, where Paul shotguns through a medly of classic songs and then rocks out on guitar while his young son takes the mic. 49:00 was pulled from circulation for unknown reasons, but the group of covers was probably it’s undoing, since you can almost bet that Paul didn’t ask for permission when he threw them in there.
If Springsteen and Alkaline Trio had a love-child, The Gaslight Anthem would be it. Growing through Boss-ish tunes like “Only Cowgirls Get the Blues,” “The High Lonesome,” and “Meet Me By The River’s Edge,” they make their intentions known early on. They are here for nostalgic reasons, to reimagine all those hours we spent as kids, sitting by the radio, waiting for that one song to come on so we could sing along at the top of our lungs. The ’59 Sound is replete with passages from Otis Redding, Bruce and even Counting Crows, that are evident upon second and third listen. But instead of sounding desperate or lazy, they sound familiar and comforting. Listening to this album is like being a child and re-discovering music all over again.
DeVotchKa – A Mad & Faithful Telling
Brilliant, eccentric and comforting music from these Denver-based troubadors. Not quite up to the high-water mark that they set with How It Ends.
Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
Jenny has positioned herself as the heiress to Neko Case as the new indie chantouse. Her first solo record was dynamite and Acid Tongue is easily 10b on my list. She’s right on the verge of fully realizing her potential oustide of Rilo Kiley.
Songs of the Year
The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
Mates of State – Get Better
Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines
TV On The Radio – Golden Age
Ghostland Observatory – Heavy Heart
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – We Call upon the Author
Tim Fite – Big Mistake
The Ravonettes – You Want the Candy
With the advent of services like iPodmeister (www.ipodmeister.com), which is a service that will digitize your CDs for you, put them on a new iPod or iPhone and take the CDs as payment, I am wondering is this legal?After reading an article in the Star Tribune about this very thing, I began to think—will the RIAA or worse yet, Lars Ulrich show up at my door if I were to take advantage of this?I am trading the music to get a digitized version of it and they can now sell those same CDs for a profit.
Somewhere there are a group of lawyers yelling at each other because they figure out how to make this not legal.
Who needs Bit Torrent or even illegally burned CDs any more?Just trade in your current buttload of CDs for a new iPod full of all your music.It’s genius.
Should the Captain do this?Should the Captain tempt fate and trade in all his ABBA CDs?
I hope ABBA doesn’t show up at my door to beat the crap out of me.That might be worse than Lars.
So, the long-awaited Axl Rose album (it’s not G’n'R without Slash and Duff and you all know it), Chinese Democracy is out. People, important people, have weighed in on it. In general, the reviews aren’t glowing, but aren’t terrible. It’s a passable album, by the standards of the public. But, honestly, who cares?
Do you still sit around your house, awaiting the return to fashion of Zubaz and hockey hair? Do you pine to be able to refer to an occurrence as “gnarly” or “tubular” without a sarcastic tone? Do you really want to return to a world where women tease their hair, have gigantic rolling bangs and reek of Aquanet from five feet away? Do you miss your burgeoning coke problem and constantly refer to the advent of grunge as “the day the music died?”
The answer, if you’re any reasonably-adjusted individual is; of course not. No one wants to don their favorite Hypercolor shirt, slip into a pair of leather pants and grab a Crystal Pepsi. That time is over, and thank god it is, because it was awful.
To be fair, Guns and Roses was, for a lightning flash, a beacon of hope in a sea of Ratts and Poisons and Skid Rows and Whitesnakes. But all of that ended with the Use Your Illusion albums. No one cared about The Spaghetti Incident? and no one really seemed to care all that much about the next G’n'R album until it started getting release dates that it consistently never met. That was nine years ago. I remember because I worked for a radio station and we’d get industry magazines listing upcoming releases. We’d watch as Chinese Democracy was delayed and delayed and delayed, and guess what? After awhile, we simply stopped caring, because something better inevitably came along to divert our attention.
Chinese Democracy is a bloated vanity project that has little to no place in our current music sphere. It’s the last of it’s kind, lonely as it wanders the earth, looking for comraderie and a mate that it will never find. Big studio albums are a dead art. If anything should pound that point home, it’s the millions of dollars (reportedly over $20 million) that it cost to make this album and the 15 years that it took to bring to fruition. The label will never recoup it’s investment in the album through sales and might not even do it through touring, as Axl has historically been a nightmare on tour, with cancellations and near-riots to his credit.
So I say let the past be the past. Move on. If you want to hear a great new album, buy something from an artist that’s still relevant, not one who quashed a possible Replacements reunion (Tommy Stinson, the bassist for The ‘Mats, was the studio bassist for most of Chinese Democracy, Axl wouldn’t let him have time off to do a tour and small recording session with former frontman, Paul Westerberg…therefore, Axl’s a jackass). Find new and upcoming artists, find a local band to satiate your desire for music. There’s plenty of both out there.
If it’s rock you want, check out a band like The Constantines. Or The Gaslight Anthem. Or the Young Sportsmen. Or any number of upcoming bands. As a matter of fact, if you have no idea where to start, tune in when Chris, Kelly and I count down each of our Top Ten Albums of the Year in two weeks, right here on Sodblog!
It’s Saturday night and my wife and I have parked our lazy asses in front of a cable movie to pass the time. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a real cinema classic. Like most unassuming Americans, we’ve seen this movie, or parts of it, dozens of times. It’s ubiquity on TBS and TNT around the late 1990′s and early 2000′s led to me using far too many quotes from this mid-level comedy.
“Like a glove.”
“Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.”
That last one has nothing to do with the movie, I just hate Dan Marino so very very much.*
So, we’re both well-versed, against our will, in all things Ace Ventura. Which makes it all the more unnerving when we noticed that, the last few time we’ve caught it, we’ve noticed added scenes that we don’t remember from the days when one of us (not me) had it on videotape. This movie came out fourteen years ago, you can’t do that.
It’s like if George Lucas decided to throw in a scene of Indy cuddling with his pet snake to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark or if Alfred Hitchcock added a slapstick ending to Psycho or if Steven Spielberg digitally removed all of the guns from E.T. (oh yeah, that actually happened…bastard). After seeing these movies so many times over the course of our lives, the shock of such a sudden change could potentially be too much to take.
These are the things that cause brain aneurysms in young adults.
For those in the know, here’s just two of the different, new footage that we caught, as well as a few that were cut out:
Added: A scene where Ace is confronted by a bunch of locals in a bar while trying to find Ray Finkle’s parents.
Cut: Ace’s trip to the mental hospital, where he pretends to be a tutu-wearing former NFL star in order to make a bunch of goofy faces and, oh yeah, find some “evidence.”
Added: Ace revisits his hippie friend, trying to find more info on Finkle and Einhorn’s connection, going through their credit reports.
Cut: The part of the scene where Ace originally finds the stone from the AFC Championship ring in Snowflake’s pool where he pretends to be Hans, the German dolphin trainer.
After a little research, I discovered that this is an actual phenomenon, but not the reason why. So, we now know that we’re not crazy for thinking that these scenes were new and not what we remembered from this unnecessarily unforgettable movie. Now, if I can just shake that feeling that I actually saw a version of The Goonies with the deleted octopus scene in it at a friend’s house when I was a kid, I’d be okay. I know that it exists, but have no proof that it was added to the movie for television syndication. It’s okay, I’ll work through it.
I can’t stop smiling. Hell, I can’t even sleep. It’s five in the morning and here I am, wide awake at my computer, with tears welling in my eyes, trying to take it all in. Not only do we now have the first african-american president in our nation’s history, but we have the first african-american president in our nation’s history and he won by a landslide.
I feel so good about us as a nation. So good. It feels the same way that Christmas morning always felt when we were kids. There’s unlimited possibility and I just want to tear all of the wrapping off of it.
Sam Cooke was right all those years ago. It was a long time coming, but a change is gonna come. Yes it is.
This isn’t just about racial change, either. It’s about generational change, about having a person in charge that looks at the world in a fundamentally different way than anyone else could. Barack Obama looks at the world in the same way that I do. In the same way that more and more people do. Our generation is one of the first to live in a full post-racial world and now we have our leader.
On the same token, I can’t even begin to imagine the emotions that people who lived through the fight for civil rights are feeling. One of the images that I can’t seem to get out of my head is that of Jesse Jackson crying in the crowd at Obama’s victory rally in Grant Park in Chicago last night. Whatever you think about Jackson as a person and a public figure, the sheer outpouring of emotion from him and many others really sent me over the top. I mean, can you even imagine the complete about-face emotionally for a man like Jackson who marched and worked with Martin Luther King Jr, was there when MLK was shot and now, all these hard years later, gets to see the fruit of King’s vision come to pass?
Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.
Playing the part of musical trendsetter is a tricky business. Sure, you could become the next White Stripes, but you could just as easily become the next Detroit Cobras or Dirtbombs or Vines or whatever. Every five years or so, we all get bored with the music that we’ve been listening to and decide to grope around for something new. Of course, when considering a new type of music to get into, it helps if that music hearkens back to something that we’re already comfortable with, or at least something that we’ve heard before. This is how that whole late-90′s swing revival happened.
You think we’d learn. But no, we keep going on in this fashion. We’ve worked our way from swing to garage rock and now we’ve plowed through faux-disco and are well into our 80′s no-wave period, with the first hints of a psych-folk period creeping around the corners. It’s maddening, when you step back and look at all of it. It looks so stupid and arbitrary, how much music influences everything. From what we wear and eat and drink to how the other media we consume is constructed. Before you know it, you’re watching a hard-boiled 70′s-ish cop drama with a pair of tight jeans on, sporting a semi-ironic Led Zepplin t-shirt and drinking a Pabst. It’s dangerous following trends. Dangerous and expensive.
This is why I tend to like timeless things. A nice, clean, white t-shirt, for one. Black tennis shoes for another. Hooded sweatshirts, too. Some things never go out of style, they just get adapted to fit the newest trend. I’m the same way with the music I like. Sure, I can get into the newest and freshest interpretation of what was hot 25 years ago like everyone else,(Shameless plug: Just a few more months until I unveil my “Best of 2008″ List!!!) but time after time stuff that sounds like no time in particular is always near the top of my list.
This is why I like The Replacements and Wilco. Their music is malleable and timeless. Take a listen to an album like Being There or Tim and try to tell me I’m wrong.
This is why I’ve fallen head over heels for The Reigning Sound. Specifically, their 2003 album, Time Bomb High School. With a title that brings to mind the Ramones, a sound that alternates between Eric Burdon and The Animals, Big Star and George Jones, they’re the epitome of a timeless band. This album could have come out in 1963, 1975 or 1994 and I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
The opener, “Stormy Weather” is pure Nuggets-era garage rock, on the heels of that is “Straight Shooter,” which sounds like The Sonics reincarnate. It quickly moves to “You’re Not As Pretty,” a beautiful heartbreaker ballad that is one pedal steel interlude away from a Conway Twitty record. From there on, it’s just good music. There’s no other way to put it. Pure guitar, bass, drums, soulful vocals and the smattering of Hammond organ power this wonderful testament to music.