Wednesday, June 10, 2009

8 Random (And Mostly) Musical Observations To Kick Off The Summer

1. I am currently typing this on my laptop at Union Park in Chicago. I decided to show up a month-and-a-half early for the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival to squat my area near the stage for Fucked Up’s set. Is there any possible chance that won’t be the best hour of the festival? No, there isn’t. And that’s with a fantastic lineup, too. Good job, Pitchfork. Hey, speaking of which…

2. …this particular article on Pitchfork reporting that Kim Gordon criticized Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want scheme for In Rainbows made me laugh. Well, at least this sniveling line from staff writer Ryan Dombal did:

“Please don't make us choose between Radiohead and Sonic Youth!”

Jesus. By the way, I kind of agree with most of what Gordon says, but look how the same Ryan Dombal handled the story when Robert Smith of the Cure said essentially the same thing about In Rainbows. No, they don’t play favorites. I love it when two of their favored artists get in a spat. I remember when David Berman of the Silver Jews said not nice things about Radiohead, and Pitchfork reacted like a scared nine-year-old boy hiding in his basement listening to his parents fight and just praying that it would all end soon. Good stuff. Also, on an almost completely unrelated note, I don’t know why, but it really bothers me how Pitchfork reviews always have a comma outside of the quotation marks for a song title. For example, look at how they used the comma after the song “Champions” from their recent review of Mos Def’s latest, The Estatic:

“…aside from the aforementioned Oh No and Madlib contributions, "Life in Marvelous Times" recycles Mr. Flash's beat for "Champions", his collaboration with French rappers TTC…”

Come on, how do you screw that up? Pitchfork is the best and most influential independent music site on the web, but at the end of the day, they’re still the Chicago Manual of Style’s bitch.

3. Former NBA journeyman, Paul Shirley, has a great column on where he writes rather generally about rock music. I especially enjoyed this particular column. For whatever reason, I’d rather read about music from a non-music guy like Shirley than from the likes of David Fricke or Ryan Schreiber any day of the week. Good writing, non-music guys are more relatable and readable than 90% of good writing critics who actually have a background in music or music journalism. Just my opinion. Also note that Shirley is 6’10, which means there are a lot of angry people standing behind him at concerts. Hey, speaking of which…

4. …he may have been standing just to my right at the Hold Steady concert this past Sunday night at the 9:30 Club. I was there with my brother and we were standing in the highest part of the balcony and there was a guy on the row below us who was still blocking a bit of my view. And I’m about 6’1 so it’s not as though I am small. It was fine though, he was only shielding me from Tad Kubler, and the show was amazing as expected. I told my friend Val that it may have been the best sounding Hold Steady show I have ever seen. She reminded me that I say that after every Hold Steady show I go to. What she doesn’t know is this time I meant it. When they came out for the encore, they played a cover of Minutemen’s “History Lesson – Part II.” It was a bit sloppy as Craig Finn tried to mix in lyrics that related to him and the Hold Steady, but we all loved it anyway.

5. It looks as though the Smashing Pumpkins have found a 19-year-old drummer to replace Jimmy Chamberlin. (Searching for something to say.)

6. I have almost finished reading Chuck Klosterman’s first novel Downtown Owl. If you’re a fan of Klosterman, you’ll probably enjoy this book, although not as much as his non-fiction material. (For me, it has been well worth the read for this line on page 184 alone: “People said Koombah looked like Rollie Fingers without the handlebar mustache. This meant he didn’t look like anyone.” Every other sentence could have been utter nonsense and I would have felt like I got my money’s worth for that line alone.) If you don’t like Klosterman, don’t bother. If you have never read Klosterman, start with Fargo Rock City and maybe work your way to Downtown Owl.

7. If Phil Spector being acquitted of a murder he obviously committed would have saved me from seeing this picture, I would have been all for it. And if I'm Dobby from the Harry Potter books, I sue.

8. And finally, Jack, we’re sorry for stealing your picture of Bry Webb from the Constantines. Please forgive us. It (probably) won't happen again.

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