May 172016


The Feds got Al Capone on tax evasion charges rather than the more horrendous crimes he committed. In similar fashion, rock critic Sasha Frere-Jones was nabbed for running up a tab at a strip club rather than alleged Rock Crimes, as documented here (for gross exaggeration of research) and played out at least one other time in the Halls of Rock, possibly back in our days as a YahooGroup, when I believe I actually had a couple of e-mails back and forth with the critic over whatever instance of shoddy criticism it was that we flagged.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Frere-Jones recently filed a $5,000 expense report for a venue that the paper discovered was actually a strip club.

Asked to explain, Frere-Jones said he was writing an article about a rapper. But according to the insider, the rapper’s representatives told the paper that no interview had taken place.

In addition, a source close to the situation said that Frere-Jones had accepted a luxury trip sponsored by Dom Pérignon to The Joshua Tree National Park in April — a freebie that is considered a no-no by most mainstream news organizations.

I know, I know…taste is taste and to each his own and whatnot, but I always thought that guy wasted a lot of word and pseudo-social criticism on a fraction of musical content. Funny, to me, that he tried blaming the strip club tab on a rapper.

Mar 102014

My mind has been blown by Future Islands on Letterman

A friend of mine posted this article and it piqued my interest.

The headline pretty much says it all: The author was blown away by this performance. The singer has an idiosyncratic presence, with some oddball dancing, waving his arms and pounding his chest, not to mention his vocal style which is soulful but ventures into Cookie Monster territory, along with some “vocal mugging.”

But now I want to know, what do YOU think? Click the following link to assess this mind-blowing performance, and don’t give up before the end of the chorus at the 3:20 mark!

Feb 032014


In honor of the great (and now stupidly frustratingly dead) Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose Instant Offense acting chops managed to raise even Almost Famous, one of the most grating, ass-kissing movies I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting through, let us celebrate music critics, as portrayed on film.

Both real and fictional music critics appearing as characters in movies are eligible. Real critics playing themselves are eligible, but they must appear in a dramatic film, not as talking heads in an actual rock documentary. Critics appearing as themselves as talking heads in mockumentaries, however, are eligible for inclusion.

Since this is likely to be one of our more exclusive Last Man Standing competitions, multiple portrayals of the same critic are eligible, provided you specify a new film.

Got that? So, Lester Bangs, as portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous is OFF the board, but I can think of at least 3 other critics who appear as movie characters. I’m sure you’ll think of more!

[NOTE: I dug up the 2009 interview Hoffman did with Terry Gross on Fresh Air that’s stuck with me through the years. Click here to listen. At the 20:30 mark, Hoffman starts talking about sports then addiction. I wanted to high five that guy at that point and still wish I could.]

Oct 302013
Fire away!

Fire away!

Listen, I’m in an incredibly bad mood today (it has nothing to do with you), but don’t think I’m not man enough to welcome an intelligent discussion on a piece of rock criticism that appeared in The Washington Post.

On a friend’s Facebook page people are sharing mixed opinions on critic Chris Richards‘ handling of his negative review of The Arcade Fire‘s new album, Reflektor. It’s not Richards’ opinion they seem to be reacting to but his tone. I don’t get it. What’s wrong with a critic thinking an album sucks and writing about it as he or she feels? Why do I sense some candy-ass regard for the critic’s tone? It’s a stinking rock ‘n roll album and one person’s opinion of it. It’s not a dissenting opinion on a Supreme Court decision.

After winning a Grammy for album of the year in 2011, they’re still the biggest rock band on the block, still making music mysteriously devoid of wit, subtlety and danger. And now, they’re really into bongo drums, too. We should all be repulsed. Only partially because of the bongos.

Candy-asses of the Rock World: Please explain what’s wrong with this negative review of The Arcade Fire’s new album, Reflektor.

People on my friend’s Facebook page are lashing out at this guy for being “tragically hip,” for feeling slighted by the “cool kids.” In my formative rock years, these admittedly pathetic feelings were a badge of honor, a rite of passage. What rock snob worth his or her salt didn’t feel left out by the cool kids? Is it no longer cool to feel left out? Is everybody happy nowadays? Everybody but me and Chris Richards?

Just last week I was asking my 16-year-old son if there’s anything kids can be made fun of these days. We were joking around, but there was an undercurrent of snobbish pride in our joking. In a world where young people can walk around in “slides” (ie, those sporty flip-flops) and white knee-high socks without shame, how can anyone know their place, from bullies to misfits?

Listen, anyone past a certain age should grow up and grow past whatever feelings might have fueled their essential take on rock ‘n roll, but if in our judgments of rock ‘n roll music we totally deny that kid, be it a kid who sat at the cool table or one who was excluded, I’m not sure we’re fit to listen to rock ‘n roll any longer. Or maybe we’re not fit to critique it any longer. Rock ‘n roll is there for the taking, enjoying, hating, whatever. It’s not something we are obliged to approach and assess through some formal, respectful, educated, mature eye. That is one approach that can be taken, but why should it be the only approach?

Jul 312013
To be honest, I have no intention of listening to this.

To be honest, I have no intention of listening to this.

From eMusic‘s “New This Week” page, where a “staff contributor” summarizes new releases available through the site:

Grant Hart, The Argument – Latest solo record from the former Husker Du member, and a 20-song concept record based on Paradise Lost. I’ve been hearing some pretty great things about this, to be honest; some places are calling it his best-ever solo work and the first ever to touch his Husker Du work.

Listen, I know it’s 2013 and too many people don’t give a shit about the goods they are selling, but what’s the writer being “honest” about? I know this page does not pretend to offer the same thing as a critical review of the goods for sale, but the other blurbs for new albums do contain at least hints that someone actually listened to the music, or at least read another critic’s/publicist’s thoughts on the music. If the writer has the time to hear “some pretty great things” about the album, shouldn’t he or she make an effort to at least listen to the 30-second samples of each song that accompany an eMusic item available for sale/download?

Jul 032013

I’m composing this from my phone, so stick with me. I just read a long, detailed, highly critical review of The Lone Ranger on Grantland. The critic rips the movie to shreds, not in a mean way, rather from the perpective of a kid who feels betrayed by the art form he grew up loving.

Rock critics used to slam big, blockbuster releases all the time. It seemsit’s been years since a major media outlet has simply broken down all the ways a crap mega-album stinks. It can’t be that no records by big artists stink any more. But critics act like everyone’s got something to say. I’m not buying it. Can anyone dig up an intwlligwnt, critical piece on a rock album from the last 5 or 10 years?


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