Nov 052013

I had an unfortunate experience on Monday morning. I’m sure it was exacerbated by driving to work in heavy traffic, and thanks to Daylight Savings, right into the sun. I was tired, I was cranky. And I made the mistake of listening to The Lumineers. A colleague lent it to me, and stupid me, trying to be open-minded about new music these days, decided to give it a listen.

I made it through about two thirds of the album before switching it off. I had to put on the Mamas and the Papas to get the bad sound out of my ears (tangent: “Shooting Star” is such a goofy and weird track that it always puts me in a good mood).

But back to The Lumineers. This band is the epitome of many things I am hating about a current trend in popular music. What is that plinky-plonky sound? Oh, it’s the arrangement of multiple acoustic instruments. What is that echo? Perhaps it’s to make us think that that wash tub bass is being played and recorded in a barn. What is that horrible whining sound? Yessirree folks, it’s the nasally, earnest voice of the lead singer.

And then I looked at a video:

You don’t want to hear their cover of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”

Monday evening, Mr. Royale listened to my rant and came up with an interesting analogy: The Lumineers are like Haircut One Hundred. Instead of artfully-draped sweaters, we have suspenders. No more classic haircuts; we’ve moved on to facial scruff. Created for style; substance is of limited value. The recipe has been changed up, but the intent is the same.

But my question to you is How did we get here? Why is faux folk played on acoustic instruments by bands most likely from an urban hub so popular now? Is this Retro Retromania? Don’t tell me that Fleet Foxes started it. Say what you like about their beards, but those bad boys can sing. Was the start of this evil trend Arcade Fire, the band that tried to temper their bombast by telling everyone that at least the recording was made in an old church? I really liked that first album of theirs, but I’m guessing that if I listened to it now, I might feel differently. Help me, and please explain what happened.

And you can not tell me the answer is menopause.

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?

Oct 042013


Listen, I’m not one of those misogynist Yoko haters who blame her for breaking up the Beatles. As much as I grew up loving—and still love—the band, I think they broke up at the right time. By 1974, it would have stunk to have seen them go through their worst solo phases collectively. Imagine if they’d done like the Stones and survived into the ’80s and beyond? No thank you! There are enough 50-year-old fanboys still trying to pull off a variation of the moptop to carry on their would-be sagging legacy.

I’ll go one step further in making it clear that I’m not a Yoko hater: I think that, next to dropping acid, Yoko is the best thing that happened to John. It was cool seeing John grow up and become a somewhat peaceful family man. It gave me some hope during tough times. She seemed like a great match for John, and a cool person in her own right.

What I am is a music fan who is completely sick of Yoko’s attempts at making music—or perhaps I should say our attempts at liking it. I like Yoko’s first Plastic Ono Band album. It’s a great “F-U!” album, with John and that raw, minimalist band cranking out a racket behind Yoko’s screeching. She did some other screeching recordings in that format in the early ’70s that I also enjoy. Then she got the bright idea that she should sing actual lyrics with something resembling a melody. Beside her lone vocal line in “Bungalow Bill” and her chorus vocals on “Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)” I have felt that Yoko has no business going anywhere near actual lyrics and anything resembling a melody.

I mourned for the widowed Yoko as much as the next Beatles fan when John was murdered at the release of their Double Fantasy album, but I gladly skipped every one of Yoko’s songs. As a singer, she’s well beneath “rank amateur.” The likes of the B-52s could rave all they wanted about the influence Yoko had on them. They had a chance of getting a dinner invitation. What did I have to gain by pretending to like that shit? Julian wasn’t her kid, and I was way too old to have a play date with Sean.

Yoko’s still at it, and my Facebook feed is ablaze with people raving over her performance on the Late Show With David Letterman, backed by the so-cool-I-can’t-believe-I’m-worthy-of-living-in-the-same-world-with-them Flaming Lips (and Sean). If she’s not already, I bet Yoko will be trending today. Have you seen this yet? Check it out:

Continue reading »

Oct 042013


So I’ve been going through another Nuggets binge. I’ve always dug the Amboy Dukes and would love to buy Journey to the Center of the Mind, but I’m conflicted. I really, really hate almost everything about Ted Nugent and what he stands for politically, socially, and musically

Should I put all my prejudices away for the sake of the music? I like Woody Allen, for instance, but feel skeevy about his personal marriage, yet I still watch his films. Am I a hypocrite? Would it be better to “steal” the album off the web so I don’t have to put a dime in Nugent’s pocket? Or is that a blurry line I don’t want to cross?

Or does the album not live up to the 2 to 3 great Amboy Dukes songs I’ve heard?

Help me, friends of the Hall?

Sep 302013

I’d like to start this historic post by thanking “snyder” for alerting us to a problem with the Categories links. The Back Office will certainly look into why the “Users Guide” category, for instance, no longer links to all threads specified for that category. I SUMMON THE BACK OFFICE TO CHECK OUT THE CATEGORY LINKS AND SEE IF THEY CANNOT BE RESTORED TO THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE. Thank you.

Next, I would like to commend “snyder” for voluntarily leaving the H-block, coming into the light, and ending his RTH Hunger Strike. In the soft-spoken,, tactful manner that characterized his participation on our original listserv version of Rock Town Hall, he worked through the technical glitch of the Users Guide category and posted the following astute comment and thread-initiating question:

Where the fuck is this user’s guide? A fuckin’ comment box does not explain shit. If this is how one is greeted when coming out of the wilderness, better to be the Unibomber.

Well, I’ll put the point of things here and leave it to whatever circle of hell this will be trapped in:

Would someone explain to me the appeal of the Miracle’s “Save Me?”

I got an email the other day with this video:

Two acts in the Snyder pantheon, the Saints and Undertones, (as well who knows how many others) have also recorded covers of this in their day. Why is that? Why not a cover of “More Love” (my own slightly more personal favorite amongst dozens of other great Miracles songs)? It’s not that I dislike “Save Me,” but in it’s original time I have to say it barely made an impression on me. And even today I can’t say anything stands out about to me.


The man has spoken. In public. For all the world to see. Please explain to our old friend the seemingly exaggerated love for “Save Me” among punk artists.

Aug 292013
Hey Bud, why are the Velvet Underground used as the background for this festival's ad campaign?

Hey Bud, why are the Velvet Underground used as the background for this festival’s ad campaign?

Townsman cdm raises a good point on the recent All-Star Jam:

Is it my imagination or is the Budweiser Made in America concert inexplicably using pictures of members of the Velvet Underground as wallpaper on their website? If so, why?

The Townsperson who can track down an explanation from Budweiser or the ad agency behind this website will be rewarded with a case of beer, even Bud, if that’s what you like.

Aug 192013
Why bother?

Why bother?

Sometimes, when people learn I gave up drinking a lifetime ago, they ask if I ever drink non-alcoholic or “near” beer. I do not and never have. Why bother?

I drink a lot of caffeinated coffee, on the other hand. Personally, I feel the same way about decaf coffee, although we keep it around the house for friends who can’t handle the real stuff following dinner. Privately I grumble that some of my friends are wimps for not drinking coffee with me at night, but as a father, there have been times when I’ve made our boys and their friends decaf coffee so they can feel part of the fun after having participated nicely in a long, adult dinner. Maybe beer-drinking dads keep near beer in the fridge to let their underage kids feel grown up.

I’ve been thinking about compiling my personal Why Bother list, and it will likely include a subcategory for musical instances of Why Bother. Maybe you can help me with that part of the list, and feel free to add some general life Why Bothers while you’re at it.

The first musical Why Bother that comes to mind for me is bands with 2 drummers. Other than the fact that it initially seems like a cool idea and looks good, why bother?


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