Category Archives: Music

An Initial Evaluation of a Handful of Songs from Teeth Dreams, the New Album by the Hold Steady, as Played at Their 10th Anniversary Concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

AHHHHHHHHHH! THESE SONGS ARE SO AWESOME! THAT FIRST ONE WAS GREAT BUT I HEARD IT ALREADY, AND THAT SECOND ONE WAS JUST AS GOOD, BUT THE THIRD ONE WAS EVEN BETTER AND I DIDN’T THINK THAT COULD EVEN BE POSSIBLE! WHY DID I HAVE TO WAIT FOUR YEARS FOR THESE SONGS?

Wait, I waited four years for these songs? The Hold Steady has been a band for ten years? Am I really that old? Come to think of it, the crowd was jumping around a lot less and there was maybe only one beer spilled on me. Are we all getting old? Sleepy.

Maybe just don’t watch the Grammys?

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

You are messing up my twitter

2014 Grammys are evilFor the reasons outlined below, I’ve already decided not to watch the Grammys. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to check in on my social media at some point. People are always using the internet to post things I’m not interested in, but I was taken aback about how many people care about the Grammys in this day and age. I don’t need to hear about how Macklemore is overrated or underrated.  I don’t need to hear pretty much anything about Taylor Swift ever again. I have nothing against these people, but I hear more than enough than any person needs to about both of them by virtue of the fact that I’m an American with an internet connection. The night of the Grammys, I’m somehow getting extra Macklemore & T Swift in my life.  All I wanted was to check the news and I was just flooded. I come into work the next day (the in person version of twitter and facebook) and everyone is still talking about it. I can’t escape.

Sherlock was on!

Sherlock The Sign of ThreeThe night of The Grammys was the American broadcast premiere of the one where John gets married. I don’t care if you were one of those people who used Dirty Internet Tricks to watch the episode beforehand or one of those people who doesn’t care about Sherlock. IT WAS THE ONE WITH JOHN’S WEDDING. The shortest stag party ever. The best best man’s speech ever. Sherlock thinking his morning tea just appeared. That hug! Mrs. Hudson’s hat! Molly’s bow! And yes, there was also a clever mystery of some sort. Something so much better was on TV for the whole land to see, even if you were seeing it for the second time. I also watched Downton Abby and it was maybe the best episode of this lackluster season, but I wouldn’t fault you for not watching that.

Why were you surprised there wasn’t a real Lou Reed Tribute?Metallica at The 2014 Grammys

One of the things that people complained about was the lack of a true  tribute to Lou Reed beyond whatever weird thing Metallica did. Lou Reed was a true rock iconoclast. His work was dedicated to deconstructing all that came before and building something new from the wreckage. His influence was greatly responsible for the garage, punk, post-punk, alternative, and indie movements (among others). He was basically the godfather of all the recording industry was against in the 70’s and 80’s before they figured out how to profit off of it. There’s nothing the Grammy’s could have done to properly honor his legacy, especially paying him tribute. I’m not interested in the Grammys because they are structurally unable to appreciate Lou Reed.

If you have an opinion about this, it is meaningless

Just look at this list.  Eighty-Two Categories! How can you get mad that “Royals” lost Record of The Year when it won Song of The Year? Do you even know what the difference is? Scroll farther down and see how ridiculous some of those categories are. Don’t forget that there’s also a Latin Grammys on top of this. If you created an award show you cared about, is this how you would structure it? In some ways, all awards shows are meaningless. The Grammys seems to elevate this meaninglessness to new heights. I want to be upset about how much crap gets honored over what I like, but it’s nothing to get worked up about. 

It’s not even fun

This structural issue also means that you can’t easily do a Grammy pool. Think about it. Do you know anyone who has a Grammy party like people have Oscar parties? In my cantankerous old age, I have soured on awards shows in general (obvious, I know). That being said, I can understand the fun of an Oscar party.  I think a Grammy party is my version of hell.

Feeding The Beast

The Grammys are like Tinkerbell: they only exist because you believe in them and clap real hard. Maybe we should demand something better. Instead, this wave of social media I was inundated with perpetuates them. In a day and age when DVRs should help us from staying up late on a Sunday, people instead watch awards shows live for the express purpose of live tweeting and interacting with other live tweeters. This creates trending topics in social media and breathes new life into events that should be passing by the wayside. The internet was supposed to give us the tools to create and explore what we wanted on our own without corporate interests gatekeeping. Right now, we’re stuck in a feedback loop and it’s painful.

This is the 21st Century

I don’t think that technology killed music, but it did deal a mighty blow the music business. The Grammys are just a leftover of a bygone era. They have tried to adapt by downplaying the actual awards and promoting the types of performances other ceremonies have been doing for years. Some of them are even enjoyable. But why sit through hours of acceptance speeches and stuff you don’t care about to maybe catch something inspired when I promise you it will be online the next day, even the dope commercials.

Death to the record industry!

Home Taping is Killing MusicI’m sorry. I know how this last part makes me sound, but it’s a pretty inescapable truth. The Grammys never are and never were a celebration of music. They are a celebration of the recording industry as it existed in the previous century. At some point, their business model shifted from exploiting artists to protecting the intellectual property those exploited artists generated. For decades major record labels leveraged their recording, distribution, and promotion resources to create a system where they profited much more than the actual music makers. In an era when all of those activities can be done to some extent in a bedroom with a personal computer, we should question what value the corporate music industry provides and why we would want to celebrate that.

They Might Be The Dismemberment Plan

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

They Might Be Giants & The Dismemberment Plan

Before I even heard “Waiting,” the first new recording by The Dismemberment Plan in over a decade, I was reminded of They Might Be Giants. That was because of The Plan’s initial distribution method for the song; in order to hear it, you needed call a phone number and listen to it as a voicemail greeting. For over twenty years, TMBG ran their own Dial-A-Song service, which did the same exact thing. Once I heard “Waiting” in higher fidelity, the comparisons continued.

The keyboards beep and boop like a cartoon robot. The beat is bouncy, with a mix of live and synthesized instrumentation. The beginning and end contain unothodox samples. The lyrics are clever rhymes taking a different look at the ordinary. All of these things in “Waiting” reminded me of They Might Be Giants, and I’m not the only one. In this interview with Dismemberment Plan frontman Travis Morrison, Dan Weiss describes Uncanney Valley, their forthcoming reunion album as “a dozen They Might Be Giants-esque pop songs.” This excites me for a few reasons.

As they get older, The Dismemberment Plan are getting away from Pixies-like dynamic explosions, shouting, and clever but bitter lyrics that initially drew me to them in college. That doesn’t mean that they’ve slowed down, but focused on other strengths. Foremost among these is a sense of exploration and experimentation. I don’t think there’s a better model for longevity in music through trying different things than They Might Be Giants.

The older I get, the more I find my musical tastes solidifying in a way I swore they never would. I’m more interested in listening to bands I already like as opposed to discovering new sounds. Favorite bands that are always trying to change and push their boundaries is an effective, comforting way to push back against the atrophy.

About The Name Singing About Economics

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

Singing About Economics is a horrible name, one of the reasons I think it fits for this blog. In the short time I’ve been doing this, I’ve found my blogging to be both needless and self-indulgent. I needed a name to acknowledge that so it was out in the open up front and I could move on.

The first title for this blog that I thought of was Dancing About Architecture, from the famous quote: “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I need to be honest and say that I first heard a variation on it in a movie I’m embarrassed to have seen, Playing By Heart.

I did not like that movie, but I did like that line. It perfectly captures what I dislike about most music journalism: it shouldn’t exist. I’ve always felt that music writing is the ultimate job for Those Who Can’t Do, perhaps because it’s something I’ve always been interested in doing. Since the whole point of this blog is to get me writing again and I will probably write a lot about music, it made sense. dancingaboutarchitecture.com is owned by a domain reseller that wants over two grand for the name, so I decided to research an alternative with a similar meaning.

I’ve most often heard the original quote attributed to Elvis Costello, but I was always suspicious of its provenance. Then I came across this excellent blog post from Quote Investigator. It’s always a good feeling when you google something and the top result is a well researched article that precisely answers your question instead of an unanswered forum post or a Yahoo! Answers page.

According to the Quote Investigator, the earliest version of something resembling the quote is found in an issue of the New Republic in 1918: “writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics.”  The domain was available and a star was born.

One problem with this name is that you can sing about economics. For proof of concept, I humbly submit the song “Gold Standard” by Albany Legends The Orange. I once saw them perform this song at a show at Valentine’s, prefacing it by saying, “This song is about monetary policy! And girls!” They’re specifically using it as a metaphor to talk about relationships, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless.

Starting To Write Again

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

I’ve started and restarted this first post almost a dozen times. What you are reading is the last attempt. The whole point of this blog was just to give myself a place to write again. Just write and not worry what comes out in the hope that the quantity will eventually lead to the quality. I used to enjoy writing and I used to be good at it, or at least I think so. I know for sure that I’m not anymore. There are a lot of reasons for this. When I started working in marketing and doing lots of copywriting, I had to force myself to focus on the parts of writing that I didn’t like. Being persuasive and concise can be important, but it’s no fun when they are of absolute importance in everything. The bigger problem is that I stopped almost all the other writing I was doing. Now I work in a different field and I don’t write at all anymore.

So it’s time to write. It’s not important that it be good or important at first, I just need to get it out there. I have totally been that person who sits on the couch and thinks they have a great novel or a screenplay in them if they when it’s been months since they’ve written anything. I need to actually do the damn thing before I worry if it’s any good. In the 1970’s, Jack Benny bemoaned the death of vaudeville, saying it was a place where talent could be lousy and gradually learn how to be good. In that respect, this blog will be my turn of the century variety show.

In the interest of hitting the ground running with material, I’m creating The Hundred Song Exercise. A group of my friends put together a list of our hundred favorite songs for the first decade of this millennium. I had a good time putting together my list, but not a lot of time reflecting on it. The goal will be to take all 100 of songs from my personal list and write about each one in a different post. I’d like to finish that up in about three to four months, but I’m not going to beat myself up if it takes longer. I plan to write about things besides music, but this will probably occupy most of my blogging time, at least at first.

I know that I could do this anywhere, like a free blogspot or tumblr blog. The other thing I wanted to work on in addition to my writing is my coding ability. Almost all of my coding skill have come from necessity, learning the bare minimum to get by in non-programming/non-development jobs where I have to edit some html and css and maybe little php or javascript as well. Greater practical tech skills could only enrich my life, I think. I think I have the potential to be more successful in life than I have been to this point. At this point, it’s up to me. This blog is most likely not a stepping stone to fame and fortune, but I hope it can give me focus and practice help me with whatever’s next.