Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Decemberists, 'The Hazards of Love', or 'A Blight Upon My iPod'

Wow. Just wow. This is awful on a scale of metaphysical awful-tude I can barely describe to you. I read a lot about these guys 'challenging their audience' and 'not selling out'. Somehow following up a career of very listenable songs laden with faux-intellectualism and over the top bullshit encyclopedia referencing with a bullshit concept album about some simp farting around with queens and forest nymphs means you're staying true to yourselves.

It says a lot that I had to debate whether to bash these guys as 'wimp rock' or 'nerd rock'. I get the feeling these guys are now catering exclusively to people who come home, don capes, sit down at their PC and assume the role of a 63rd level dwarf-mage. 

Where once I had hope that these guys would develop into something large and awesome (in the direction of the very good song 'Sons and Daughters'), they have folded in on themselves into something small, inward looking and suitable for high school drama classes. I can just see some pile of nerds somewhere putting this ridiculous piece of music on as some sort of 'see how arty we are' nose-thumbing at the football team. F U, nerds.

Also worth noting, the Pitchfork review features the following sentence: 'The Hazards of Love, inspired by UK folkie Anne Briggs' 1966 EP of the same name, has thick stoner-metal sludge and peat-bogged prog-folk arpeggios.' Seriously, man? Are trying to outdo the band? At long last, have you no shame, sir? At least they gave it a 5.7, about the equivalent measure on the Richter scale this shitstorm clocks in at. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kanye Out Of His Mind

We like-a da crazy! Again, for no particular reason, I really enjoy video of people who are completely out of their minds. Here we see Kanye West's occasional detachment from reality laid bare in yet another installment of craziness.

I have a theory about this kind of thing. I respect two kinds of people who get famous: 

1) People who get famous and basically stay friends with their same friends and are grounded and basically enjoy the awesome parts of being famous like the money and the sex but seem like they'd be pretty great to hang around with regardless;

2) People who get famous and go full-hog fucking crazy. I mean crazy to the point where any friends they had the day before they blew up would claim not to be able to recognize a single piece of their behavior. 

The following people would fall into the first category: George Clooney, Bill Simmons, Chuck Klostermann, Bruce Springsteen. You get the idea. 

The following people would fall into the second category: Tom Cruise, Phil Spector, Axl Rose, Hunter S. Thompson, Willy Wonka, and yes, Kanye West.

Well done, Senor West. You're nutz. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Most Awesomest: Guns N' Roses

It’s been a long time since “Mr. Brownstone” rocked our fucking faces off, but the recent release of “Chinese Democracy” allows what is left of Axl Rose’s assembled group of Spinal Tap impersonators to be included on this list.  The real reason for inclusion obviously – OBVIOUSLY – has nothing to do with the fact that anyone we know even likes these guys.  It has all to do with the fact that “Chinese Democracy” took fifteen fucking years and over $13 million to record, mix and release.  The making of this record has been documented ad nauseam, but it’s worth revisiting.  

Axl (who is starting to look like a white trash version of Mario Batalli) and the boys made lots of outlandish and laughable requests of their record company masters, but the coup de grace has to be the fact that Buckethead, the prog-metal prodigy that wears a KFC bucket on his head (BUCKETHEAD -- get it?), claimed that he would not play his horrific solos unless the record company constructed a CHICKEN COUP in the studio.  

We still don’t know if all of these requests stemmed from Axl and Co being delusional, out of touch metal heads with a bizarre senses of entitlement, or whether it was one big joke to see how far they could push before the record company snapped.  Whatever the case, a chicken coup was erected and this album did finally get released, which means that, despite the fact that it sounds like a horrendous rip off of Korn (which is in itself some of the worst shit we have ever heard), Axl won.  Dr. Pepper drinkers won as well.  That Axl is proud of the final product (i.e. a gigantic piece of rat dung wrapped in plastic) makes him completely awesome in our book.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Most Awesomest: Ted Fucking Nugent

Uncle Ted is the “drive at five” rock block champion of Michigan.  He’s way bigger there than The Boss is in Nueva Jersey.  We know this because we’ve visited his giant bow hunting mega store in Jackson, Michigan, after scarfing down a cheeseburger and root beer float at an A&W Restaurant.  The store itself is just fantastic if you are fine with the fact that it is not more than a mile or two from a giant state prison.  The Motor City Madman has always been always enjoyably insane, but he’s actually getting even crazier with age.  His recent “Anthony Bourdain No Reservations” appearance was eye-opening in that he definitely takes all of this shit oh so seriously.  Maybe that’s precisely what makes him so awesome.  

He’s also about 250 pounds these days, which is starting to make me wonder if his “kill it and grill it” lifestyle isn’t as healthy as he claims.  Discipline, Uncle Ted, DISCIPLINE!  That’s fine, though, Uncle Ted never ceases to make us laugh, and sadly, convince us that WE are the schmucks and he’s got it all figured out.  Consider this tasty snippet of Uncle Ted’s lifestyle from the afore-linked Salon article:

“So it's lunchtime. What are you eating? I'm eating this most miraculous protein. I can only tell you it was made by my buddy, Pete the butcher, in Reed City, Michigan. This guy is my favorite Pollack. He creates a wild boar-venison combination kielbasa to die for. [Squeals] It's so good, it's almost like sex! And yes, I cooked it myself, because I am very independent. I breed my own wife, play my own guitar, shovel my own horseshit, chop my own wood, grow my own trees and scare my own white people. Thank you very much. “


Monday, March 16, 2009

Hard To Tell Who Should Be More Embarrassed ...

Coldplay or Radiohead? Coldplay, you suck balls. Radiohead, you're overrated. And now you're both wrapped up in a story about Miley Cyrus. Is it harder to believe that Radiohead would actually respond to a whiny 16 year old or that Chris Martin would actually hang out with one for awhile? I hate both of these bands. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

For No Particular Reason ...

I love this ad.

Live Review: The Black Lips 3/9/09 Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Remember in College when you looked forward to a big event like an 80-keg pig roast or a 21st birthday at a friend’s house in Westchester and repeatedly promised anyone that would listen that you’d singlehandedly drink the joint dry, smash everything in sight, fall into a tiger pit, bleed on the back seat of your car and get caught naked in your friend’s shrubberies?  

This is how the Black Lips roll on a nightly basis, even when they tour India.  It’s hard to claim that these antics are not a part of their attraction, but the reality is that I was hoping to not have to deal with flying drops of urine, and in this way, the night was a success.  In truth, I didn’t go out at 11pm on a Monday night to see how they can top their debauched antics from the Mercury Lounge; I went to see a grimy, energetic, garage rock show and these clowns from Hotlanta delivered.

The Black Lips call their sound “flower punk”, which is really just a more playful way of describing their debauched, lo-fi, early Kinks-style garage rock.  Whatever the case, their loose sound makes for a fantastic live show, complete with crowd surfing guitar solos, Keith Moon-style drums, a bass player that rocks a full grill of gold teeth and a guitarist that is dressed like a Mexican peasant with a giant Amish-style pilgrim hat.

Even though we were spared the whizzing in the mouths and penis-playing antics of past shows, and they didn’t have to flee the country as a result of their on stage provocations, you do expect their brand of punk rock to spawn a wild scene, and true to form, people generally jumped around like crazy throughout their set.

How was the music, you ask?  They actually only played for a little over an hour and part of that hour was spent trying to tune their guitars, though they did apologize for the multiple delays (“Sorry about this.  The reality is that only two of us graduated from high school.  We’re still making a living, though…”).  When they got going, the songs were wild and full of energy and full-tilt rocking.  A Black Lips show is just a really good time in general – the hooks are dirty but catchy and the songs themselves are all enjoyable on a bunch of different levels.  Antics and live gimmicks aside, I actually really like their past two albums, so it was great to see those songs played live.  If these guys had played for an hour and a half on a Friday or Saturday night, I could see that show registering up there in the pantheon of Awesome.  On this past Monday night in March, it was pretty damn enjoyable, even though it fell short of being completely fucking awesome. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lars Ulrich of Metallica: What a HUGE Prick!!!

Can you believe this fucking asshole? What a fucking asshole! Read this article. I hate this pompous, fan-hating prickbird. He turns in his own people, like the dime-store stool pigeon that he is. This man actually went to The Man and turned in his fans, personally turning over a box of information on those who had downloaded his music on Napster into the cops. 

Reasonable people can argue about stealing music, and let's be honest, it is stealing. Someone made something, you didn't pay for it, you stole it. But fuck this guy. It might be different if every interview I have ever seen with him wasn't somehow some huge mastubatory whack-fest of gigantic proportions. 

Even more annoying is picturing him sitting around with a half a dozen friends 'enjoying a bottle of wine', in their elbow-patched smoking jackets and downloading music from the Internet for the first time. What an out of touch, million-dollar douche. Lars Ulrich loves the smell of his own shit and is loathsome and smells like shit. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Live Review:Ben Kweller (with The Watson Twins and Jones St. Station) – 2/25/09 – The Town Hall, NYC

 She Hate Me loves Ben Kweller and dancing three year old little Kwellers, apparently:

I’ve always kind of thought that Mr. Kweller was something of an underrated musician and songwriter and that seemed to be confirmed last night by his immensely enjoyable homecoming show at New York ’s Town Hall.  He was clearly humbled and excited to be there (as evidenced by his ill red smoking jacket and the disgustingly great crust-ache he grew for the occasion) and it showed as he pulled an Elvis Costello and ripped through 19 songs in less than an hour and half. It was not only very refreshing to see him finish a song and go right into the next one, but it also kept him in step with the countrified vibe that he brought as part of his solid new album, Changing Horses.  

He played a great set of songs -- all the hits and basically the entire new album, and, as usual, his entire backing band was stellar (despite the fact that his slide guitar player looks eerily similar to Matt Damon’s character in The Good Shepherd).  It was impossible not to like any song he played, and the country theme extended even into some of the older stuff.  He never even bothered to pick up an electric guitar, so the show lacked the overall RAWK of "Commerce, TX" or “Wasted and Ready” or some of those blues guitar freak-outs he had at Webster Hall when we saw him with Gomez in 2006. 

I think what makes Kweller so enjoyable is his knack for being earnest and sentimental without being overly dramatic.  There’s a strong sincerity behind his songs that really translates well live, and he understands that there is no need to over-emote to give them some punch.  Instead of screaming or whining or agonizing, there’s this lilting sense of youthful nostalgia and optimism in his voice.  He’s adopted a bit of the Gram Parsons sound these days, but my man is clearly not down with the “love hurts” crowd, and his songs are endearing because of that fact – they are peppy and introspective at the same time (and maybe even borderline sappy), but they always work perfectly and they never don’t deliver a good pop hook.

This was evident throughout the night, but no more so than during the closing number “Penny on a Train Track”.  As the song kicked in you could see a little three year old boy dancing backstage, and as the song went on, the kid began jumping up and down behind the band.  In between lyrics, Kweller said “that’s my boy” and it clearly was a cool moment for him – kind of like the apex of his return back to the place he had lived for 10 years, and as the crowd seemed to sense this, people started spontaneously rushing up the aisles towards the stage.  For first time in the evening, everyone stood up and was dancing, smiling and cheering wildly.  

The last time I saw something like this was at a Ryan Adams show at The Beacon about 5 years ago.  He closed with “Come Pick Me Upand there was a spontaneous bum-rush to the stage and by the end of the song, Sad Sack Ryan was playing harmonica with 30 people surrounding him.  The moment was cool because it was genuine, but it was slightly ruined by the fact that everyone was taking camera phone pictures on stage.  A similar spontaneity took place with “Penny” but, as with all things Kweller, there was an undercurrent of sentimental innocence that made it so cool, even touching.  Instead of frat boys taking pictures of themselves, the crowd was reacting to Kweller’s three year old boy’s hilarious dance moves.  

Kweller has a great knack for stripping away the nonsense and keeping things relatively simple, upbeat and optimistic.  That soft lilt in his voice (not dissimilar to that of Jeff Tweedy or Jerry Garcia) works so well because it exudes a lack of pretension and a lack of cynicism.  “Penny” embodied all of these things and it was just as energetic and organically enjoyable as the entire set of songs he played.  The Williamsburg crowd’s jaded cynicism sometimes overtakes some these New York shows, but Kweller is clearly apart from that whole scene and he’s all the better for it.  As we walked out of the theatre, we couldn’t help but smile and feel as though Kweller’s show so aptly delivered in all the same ways that make his music so satisfying to begin with.


Walk on Me


Family Tree

Things I Like To Do

Wantin’ Her Again

Old Hat

Gypsy Rose

On My Way



Sawdust Man

Homeward Bound

Hurtin’ You (with Watson Twins)


The Rules






Penny on a Train Track


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review: M. Ward, 'Hold Time'

... or 'How I Know Certain Websites Dedicated to Music Have Trouble Walking Because Their Heads Are Up Their Own Ass'. 

Case in point: Pitchfork, a site I frequent frequently, and which I express respect for. Anyway, they get it wrong a lot, probably because assigning different reviewers with vastly different tastes to write about new music produces skewed results. They clearly make the mistake of giving albums like 'Hold Time' over to the guy who really enjoys things like recordings of whale-fucking mixed over the sounds of some guy's cat being humped by the neighbors dog called 'Juxtaposition'. This guy probably sidelines for NPR and hates things like cohesive song-writing, actual people playing real instruments and lyrics that make sense. Or just actual lyrics.

They gave 'Hold Time' a 6.8, like some bitter freedom-hating Russian judge ball-slapping one of our Olympians during the Cold War, and we all know it's a farce, and Dad is swearing at the TV and Mom is calling her friends to bitch about it, and the announcers are holding their heads and wailing, and the injustice of it is too much to handle, and the people in the stands are baying for blood and threatening to burn the Stade Olympicano in some shithole country to the ground. 

Sorry about that last paragraph. I tend to lose myself. 

Moving along, Matt Ward seems to have become the antithesis of everything horrible in the music world. What a backwards compliment, but it's true. With so much douchey art school mush out there being put out by tuneless assholes stuck in a state of permanent musical jerk-off (Animal Collective, what's up?!), it's nice to put something on that sounds like ... something. 

Said something is MUSIC, i.e. guitars and drums and actual people. A full NINE of the thirteen songs on this album are 4 stars, and that is all you need to know. This album is a respite from all the releases that are soul-less and boring right now, which is almost everything. The world is in a temporary State of Suck.