You and I in a little toy shop

by on February 14, 2005 @ 4:14 pm

Department store chain JC Penny decided to use ’80s German pop star Nena‘s song “99 Red Balloons” in a recent Valentine’s Day jewelry ad. The opening lyrics go as follows:

“You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
‘Til one by one, they were gone.”

That makes sense for the ad. The ad’s a jewelry sale ad for V-Day, so they show a guy giving a girl jewelry as they let all these red balloons go. The whole thing’s shot in the vague soft-focus sort of way, and it seems all happy and romantic. Ideally, I suppose it also makes you want to buy your woman a heaping of gems and precious metals to dangle off her body. There’s a problem with the whole thing, tho’. See, the whole song is actually about nuclear war. The remainder of the song talks about “the war machine spring[ing] to life” and “call[ing] out the troops” and so forth. I don’t exactly bloom with warm fuzzies when I think about a city turned to dust.

Two other examples of idiotic commercial song use include Lou Reed‘s “Perfect Day” in an NFL ad (the song being about dying from AIDS). There is also my personal favorite: Iggy Pop‘s “Lust For Life”, in a commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines… “Lust For Life” dealing pretty much exclusively with drug use and abuse.

For more info on such cultural disjunction, check out Rob Walker’s article “The Commercial Clash.” He mentions the songs I’ve covered, as well as a healthy slant towards the Clash‘s use in advertising.

The Incredible Jimmy Smith scoots on

by on February 9, 2005 @ 2:20 pm

Apparently Jimmy Smith – master of the B3 and the funkiest jazzman you’ve ever heard or will ever hear again – died last night. It’s the saddest news I’ve heard in a while. It was just a couple of months back that I mentioned to my jazz-nut friend that we should go on a pilgrimage to his hometown and meet him. If you haven’t heard the incredible Mr. Smith’s Root Down set, you haven’t lived.

The Esoteric posts advance new music

by on @ 2:20 pm

Kansas-based grindcore band The Esoteric (featuring members of Coalesce and Reggie & the Full Effect) have posted an advance track from their forthcoming new album. The track is called “Ram-Faced Boy” and is available for listening on their MySpace site and available for download exclusively at the Prosthetic Records website. The new album is entitled With the Sureness of Sleepwalking and is available in stores April 19.

Look for them to tour the West Coast with Node of Ranvier March 10-26 and to head out to the South and East with Remembering Never, the Acacia Strain and Since the Flood for all of April leading up to our appearance at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on Saturday, April 23.

For more info, check out their website or go here for a smapling of mp3s and live videos clips.

CD Review: Various Artists – “Atticus… dragging the lake III”

by on February 7, 2005 @ 5:34 pm

Well, another year, another Atticus compilation. The clothing company owned by members of blink-182 is noted for not doing much more than putting out this annual comp and a bunch of t-shirts with the word “Atticus” on them. There’s usually a picture of a bird, too (ooh- Atticus Finch. How clever).

Anyhow, the comps usually collect an unreleased blink-182 track, some of the current bands on the SideOne Dummy roster, a selection of what the trend of the moment is (pop-punk on the first, screamo/hardcore for the second, and indie/emo for this new one) and a smattering of straight punk bands for cred.

They’re not neccesarily the best way to get new music you’ve never heard before. A lot of the tracks on …dragging the lake III are either off of already-released or soon-to-be-released records. The Street Dogs song is off their upcoming Back to the World, the Death Cab For Cutie track is from last year’s Transatlaticism, and the MxPx song is from their recently released dvd B-Movie, among others.

The Atticus series has a good bunch of tunes, which are great for the Hot Topic crowd, but may be a bit boring for those already “in the scene.” Still, they’re a great deal, as you can usually pick them up for as cheap as five bucks at places like the aforementioned Hot Topic, as well as Best Buy. Maybe not something you’d be itching to buy if you’ve already “discovered” the bands involved, but it makes a nice ready-made mix cd for road trips.

SideOne Dummy Records
Atticus Clothing

Idle acres

by on January 31, 2005 @ 11:40 am

The Belles have posted two new songs to their MySpace page. The songs are from their forthcoming album on Second Nature entitled Misery Loves Industry.

The album is due out later this year. In the meantime, check out the two lovely acoustic-pop offerings from the band, which are the title track to the new record and “Clouds Over Stansted.”

CD Review: A Change of Pace – “An Offer You Can’t Refuse”

by on @ 11:20 am

I’m awfully happy that A Change of Pace is still in high school. I’m also happy that they’re from a small town like Peoria, AZ. This means that they have the potential to expand their musical borders, which are pretty small and confining at the moment.

This isn’t to say that A Change of Pace doesn’t have something to offer, as they do. The band is signed and is still in high school, which is pretty impressive considering they can actually play their instruments and write their own songs. Getting signed to a record deal while still in high school seemed to be the exclusive realm of jailbait girls for a good long while there.

Yes, the band has talent. Sadly, it’s talent that is both stuck in a rut and unfocused. I’m not sure how a band can manage to constrain themselves and yet be scattershot about the whole thing. The way it breaks down is this: A Change of Pace can’t decide whether they want to be a Further Seems Forever / Jimmy Eat World kind of poppy emo band or whether they want to be a Thrice / Thursday kind of screamy emo band. So they combine elements of both, without really commiting to one style or another.

Now, while they skew to the pop side (for the sake of radio play, one would assume), the forays into screamo seem a bit forced. Then, when one gets used to the screaming, the pop side seems pretty forced and out of place. They haven’t reached a combinant level that’s to their abilities yet. A Change of Pace needs to decide whether they want to be screamy and a bit pop, or poppy and a little bit screamy. Once they have that small decision out of the way, the band’s going to be set, and ready to go places.

You can download the leadoff single, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” from the band’s website and see what I mean. It’s a musically strong tune and is only lacking focus. A Change of Pace has the potential to break big in the next year, if they can figure out who they want their audience to be.

Immortal Records
A Change of Pace

Split up rock ‘n’ roll

by on January 18, 2005 @ 2:52 pm

Kitty Play Records will be releasing a limited edition Supersuckers / Burden Brothers split 7″ later this year.

Here’s the official label word:

“Supersuckers either you know them or you don’t. But if you don’t its because you’re head has been under a rock for YEARS. This band from Arizona hails all the way back to the Sub Pop Seattle grunge rock days and they have been touring a city near you ever since. The Supersuckers thought releasing a split with the Burden Brothers was such a cool idea, that they are going to self-release a completely different Burden Brothers split 7” on their own Mid-Fi Records as well.

Vaden Todd Lewis, Taz Bentley, and Casey Orr have been in a lot of awesome bands, but the band that matters most is the Burden Brothers. After a series of 3 amazing box sets on Last Beat Records, the Burden Brothers, have released their full length, “Buried In Your Black Heart” on Kirtland Records. Quit asking for new Toadies, Reverend Horton Heat or GWAR albums and check out the Burden Brothers instead.”

The Kitty Play 7″ will be limited to 1,000 copies, and according to a message posted by the Burden Brothers on MySpace, each artist’s cut will be a live song.

The Burden Brothers also recently released a live dvd entitled RYFOLAMF on Kirtland Records.

Now that is honesty

by on @ 2:21 pm

Britain’s Ikara Colt has broken up. This is a good thing.

No, I don’t hate the band. Far from it. As a matter of fact, I consider “Rudd”, off their debut Chat and Business, to be one of my favorite buzz/garage/alt./whatever rock songs of the past five years. What makes this a good thing is the following (summation from NME): “the Colt’s oft-expressed and entirely admirable opinion that after five years, all bands should be taken out and shot.”

That’s right. The band said they would break up after five years, and then they fucking did it. And it’s not like they were doing poorly. All of their albums have received good reviews, and they had a successful US tour. As they put it on their website: “[W]e always said that we would split up after five years and that five years is up, better to go out this way than to turn into some old, tired and jaded outfit.”