The Death of the Music Industry

The music industry as a whole has been in desperately terrible shape for some time now. I think you could probably blame the 1980’s and that whole era of crapulence, but it might be impossible to pin down the exact moment that this lumbering giant started it’s slow decent in to the pit of image over function. Whatever started it, it would appear that the end of the “big label” is quickly coming to an end, and I’d like to think that I can explain to you why, and how truly thankful I really am that this industry is going to implode.

First of all, let’s talk about modern times. Let’s look at the very thing that the music industry is blaming for the decline in record sales; downloading music!! You do it, I do it, and I am going to guess that your dad does it too. Well, how else is he going to get his mitts on a copy of Golden Earring’s “greatest hits”? Anyway, the point is that downloading music has had ZERO effect on the music industry in a negative way*. The fact of the matter is that the labels are SCARED that people will hear the absolute TRIPE that they are demanding that their artists put out, and in return, no one will buy the disks. It’s a valid fear; I would challenge you to find ten CD’s that have been put out in the last year by the major labels that contain more than one or two decent songs. And at the end of the day, those people don’t want you to know that you are shitting SEVENTEEN dollars down your leg by purchasing a musical abortion. Their hope is that everyone buys the disk the MINUTE that it comes out so that no one has time to listen to it and tell their friends not to waste ONE LOWLY DOLLAR on an album that you wouldn’t break in half and slit your own wrists with.

Secondly, when was the last time that someone came out with a song that didn’t sound like it was written by a troop of two year old, autistic chimps? Can I quote some Nickelback lyrics for you? Thanks:

I like your pants around your feet
And I like the dirt that’s on your knees
And I like the way you still say please
While you’re looking up at me
You’re like my favourite damn disease*

I’m sorry? What? Is this what people are passing off as lyrics these days? Now, this shit might fly when played at the local school for the deaf and rhythmically challenged, but I HOPE that the average person is insulted when this garbage flows in to their speakers. I like to pretend that people are OUTRAGED when some redneck uses monosyllabic words to describe receiving fellatio from his dentally handicapped mother. I like to imagine a world where NO ONE buys this disk and then the guys from Nickelback go into some sort of weird early retirement as gladiators, forced to fight lions and tigers to the death, armed only with nerf baseball bats and their “ROCK n ROLL ‘tude”. But I guess my dreams are all I have for now.

Finally, I put some of the blame on the consumer. Yes, you. If there weren’t people outside record stores, waiting in the rain for the newest Shaggy release to come out, then I suppose the companies would stop writing them checks and allowing them to make “music”. Whether the average consumer puts together that the music industry is pure business or not is beyond me. Most people I talk to seem to think that success is marked by the pure numbers of disk that you can sell, not the quality of the art that is created. If it’s strictly a numbers game, then doesn’t that put the Backstreet Boys and *N’Sync up there as some of the “greatest artists of all time”? How many people threw twenty bucks in to the shitter by adding that “soundtrack to the end of the world” to their collection? 2.4 million in a week*. TWO POINT FOUR FUCKING MILLION PEOPLE IN A WEEK. You mean we have people STARVING TO DEATH in the streets, but 2.4 million people can shell out a crispy, new Andrew Jackson for a disk of songs performed by guys that can’t even tune a fucking guitar? You people have NO shame.

So what am I saying? Am I saying that music is dying? Am I saying that no one will release any more disks? No, I think you will find that the major labels are going to dry up and blow away like so much rancid dog shit, and the Indie labels are going to push through even harder now. I am saying that you should pay attention to labels like Trustkill, Solidstate, Rhymesayers, Def Jux and Victory records. The bands that deserve the attention will eventually find a way to get the attention. I keep hoping for a repeat of the early 1990’s. I keep hoping that some little band on a little label will come along and kick the music industry in it’s collective balls and give the music back to the artists; Not people named Ludakris, Nelly or Scott Stapp.

Review: Warped Tour 2004(Indianapolis)

So I pull into the parking lot around 10:50, and the gates open at 11:00. I make my way to the back of the line and proceed to stand in the 88 degree weather for the next thirty minutes before entering the gates. Last year, sealed bottles of water were allowed into the venue. This year, they made us take the caps off and throw them in the trash so we couldn’t refill and reseal them later. Looks like I’m drinking straight from the fountain today, or paying $3.50 for a bottle of Dasani. So after having my bottle cap confiscated and being frisked by the security guard, I make my way into the gates and head out in search of the Alternative Press tent. Once I found it, I wrote down the schedule of the bands I wanted to see. First conflict I see is Anti-Flag playing at 1:00 on the Teal stage, and Avenged Sevenfold playing at 12:50 on the Maurice stage. I had never seen either band play, so it was a tough decision, but I opted for Avenged Sevenfold. That gave me a little over an hour to find each stage and check out some of the merch tents. I seek out the Avenged Sevenfold tent and check out what they have. I pick up a Death Bat logo belt buckle for $12 and move along, picking up various free stickers from each booth. I don’t know about any of you, but if it’s free, I’m picking it up regardless of what it is. Everyone can afford free. It seemed like less people had free stuff at their tents this year though. I checked out the Punk Voter tent and grabbed some anti-bush stickers. They had one that said “American Errorist” with a picture of Bush on it, as well as one with the well known “Not My President” logo. I find the Rise Against tent where Tim, their singer, was working the merch. I tell him I really like his band and that I’m looking forward to seeing them play later. He thanks me with a hand shake and I pick up a sticker and a promo disc with two songs from their upcoming album, Siren Song of the Counter Culture. After that, it was time to head over and get a decent spot for Avenged Sevenfold.

I found the Maurice stage, and it wasn’t like last years. For some reason, they decided to make use of the Amphitheater this year and make two stages out of it. They divided the stage in half, with one half being the Maurice stage, and the other half the Volcom. This meant there were seats! You can’t have seats while Avenged Sevenfold is playing. Luckily, there’s a rather large pit area down front with no seats. So I find my spot, and I’m standing right in front of the first row of seats, which will prove to be a bad idea when the music starts. The band ended up going on about five or ten minutes later than scheduled, so their set was going to be shortened. They played Chapter Four first, and as soon as it began, the crowd went nuts. It seemed like everyone in front charged the rear because I ended up laying across the first row of seats, with several other people on top of me. After I was able to get out from the pile, it was on. This band is pure energy on stage, and it transfers directly to their audience. They ran through a couple more songs, then finished up with my favorite song, Unholy Confessions. My only complaint is that a twenty to thirty minute set is too short for a metal band like Avenged. I’d really like to see them on a show of their own.

Up next it was either Underoath at 1:45 on the stage or Taking Back Sunday at 2:00 on the Teal stage. I first decided to watch fifteen minutes of Underoath, then head over to catch the last half of TBS. I changed my mind and decided to get a good spot for Taking Back Sunday. While waiting for the band to play, there was a girl near me who kept talking about how many times she had been to Warped, and blah blah blah. Another girl stated that it was her first concert, to which she replied “You shouldn’t came to Warped Tour for your first concert. You should’ve went to see some Emo band.” I tried so hard not to laugh right in her face. What does she think Taking Back Sunday is, a hardcore band? So anyway, on to the show. They started out with Bike Scene and the crowd was really into it, with a lot of people singing along. They also performed Great Romances Of the 20th Century, You’re So Last Summer, as well as two of their new tracks, Bonus Mosh II and another one that I can’t remember the name of. They finished up with Cute Without the ‘E’, which was a real crowd pleaser. I really got into their show and enjoyed them playing, but I was left wishing I had watched Underoath perform instead. I don’t know, they just sound better on disc I suppose.

After Taking Back Sunday, I had about an hour to kill until Rise Against played on the Maurice stage. So I wandered around looking at the merch tents for a bit, when I came upon the Epitaph tent. There was a guy on a megaphone telling all of the girls “if you want to get moist, go watch Atmosphere performing right now on the Maurice stage.” Wow, I’m not a girl but I want to get moist too. So I went over and checked out Atmosphere, who is also the only hip hop act on the tour (I believe). Even though I arrived a bit late, I was able to get right up front by the railing. I had heard several tracks by Atmosphere, but that was about as far as my experience had been with them. After seeing their show, I was really glad I had decided to check them out. they started out with a song that I was familiar with, Trying to Find a Balance. They asked for a lot of crowd participation; waving your hands, making a gun out of your fingers and shooting at the sky, etc. They also ran through Always Come Back To You, Bird Sings Why The Caged I Know, and God Loves Ugly. Of course, there were many more that I don’t know the names of, but it was a great show. On my way out of the amphitheater, I stopped by the Atmosphere/Rhymesayers tent and picked up the Atmosphere album Seven’s Travels as well as a tour only disc, Thirty-seven Random Volume 3. It features some live tracks and some mixing on one disc, and on the second disc there’s thirty-two remixed and rare Atmosphere tracks.

Rise Against was performing next on the Maurice stage. I saw them play at Warped Tour last year and was really looking forward to seeing them again. So I find my spot, again right up against the railing in front of the stage. The band performing on the Volcom stage next to them got done early, so Tim came out and said they were going to go ahead and play because he didn’t want us to wait any longer and they could play more songs. I thought that was really cool of him, because they didn’t have to actually go on for another ten to fifteen minutes. They ran through all of the crowd favorites, such as Like The Angel, Blood-Red, White, and Blue, and Broken English. The band was full of energy and the crowd was feeding off of it very well, replying back with sing-a-longs, fist pumping, and crowd surfing. Tim paused for a minute to speak. He said that the Warped tour wasn’t about “Dodge cars, Samsung cell phone ring-tones, or Army recruitment tents. It’s about punk rock.” The crowd cheered him on, and he then dedicated the next song to all of the people who were there for “the right reasons.” They performed some of their older songs from The Unraveling, Anywhere But Here, which is a song from their upcoming album. They also performed Give It All, which is from the Rock Against Bush compilation.

After they played, it was supposed to be Bad Religion on the Brian stage at 4:30. So I headed straight over to the stage, only to see that Flogging Molly was playing. I was confused, because they weren’t supposed to play until 6:30. So I headed over to the Vans tent to check out the schedule. Apparently the Alternative Press tent had the wrong times for some of the bands. So I corrected the times on my paper, accepted the fact that I had missed Flogging Molly, and headed out to catch From Autumn To Ashes on the Maurice stage. The songs I remember them playing were Milligram Smile, Lilacs and Lolita and they finished up with The After Dinner Payback. They’re another band who puts forth a lot of energy on stage, and in turn, their audiences puts forth a lot of energy in the pit. After FATA was done playing, I quickly made my way over to the Teal stage to catch the end of Alkaline Trio, who had started playing at 5:00. I caught their last song, which was a This Could Be Love/White Wedding(Billy Idol) medley. New Found Glory was playing on the same stage at 6:00, so after Alk3 I headed up front to get a good spot for their set.

There were a lot of people lining up to watch NFG, quite a few of them were younger girls. So I stood there in the sweltering heat for a half hour, surrounded by prepubescent future groupies. Yay for me. But I wanted to see New Found Glory, so I dealt. The band came onstage, and my ears were shattered by girlie screams from all around. They went directly into the fan favorite Hit Or Miss. I really don’t know who was singing more, Jordan or the audience. The crowd was really into it, and the crowd surfers…God damn the crowd surfers. I was sick and tired of being kicked in the head all day, and I really wanted to just let one of these kids fall on their head. But yeah, they played Understatement and then went into Bruised and Broken, in which Jordan encouraged people to crowd surf and to “keep ’em coming.” Thanks Jordan. The crowd surfers were coming, one by one, sometimes two by two. It was difficult to keep up with them, and I’m really surprised none of them were dropped on the concrete. Nope, but one was dropped on my head. After Bruised and Broken, I headed over to the Brian stage to get a good spot for Bad Religion. I’ve see NFG before anyway.

Bad Religion comes on and the crowd goes crazy. They first perform Oveture, which is the intro to their latest album The Empire Strikes First. They then go into Sinister Rouge, which is quite possibly one of the best songs they’ve ever made. Definitely one of my favorites. Watching lead singer Greg Graffin perform onstage, it’s almost as if he’s giving a lecture. Makes sense I suppose, considering he does have a Ph.D. and has previously been a teacher at Cornell University. They performed tracks from their new album, such as Atheist Peace and Gods Love. They also performed some older fan favorites, such as American Jesus, Recipe For Hate, 21st Century Digital Boy, and No Control. Other songs performed were Epiphany and Supersonic. I left their set a few minutes early so that I could get a good spot for NOFX on the Teal stage. When I was walking out of the Bad Religion crowd, I spotted some of the guys from Avenged Sevenfold enjoying the show. I would’ve loved to have them sign my program, but didn’t want to interrupt the show for them. Instead, I settled for just a hello and telling them I enjoyed their show earlier.

Lots of people already waiting for NOFX, but I still managed to get a good spot close to the front. The first song they played was Murder the Government, which Fat Mike adapted the beginning verse to be more current. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it started out “I wanna see Dick Cheney have a heart attack. I wanna see us get the fuck out of Iraq.” They made jokes and poked fun at people between their songs. Fat Mike said he hurt is neck, so he walked around like a robot most of the time and couldn’t move his head. Hefe said he was full of shit and didn’t hurt his neck, but if that’s true, he did a damn convincing job of playing it off. It was funny to watch, but I kind of felt bad for the guy. If he honestly hurt his neck, then I’m glad to see they still played. They performed Kill the White Man, which is a slower, reggae styled track. They played a lot of older material, such as Bob, Bottles To The Ground, Drugs Are Good and Fuck The Kids, which was requested by someone in the audience. They only played a couple of songs from their latest album, which were Franco Un-American and Oops, I OD’d.” They finished off their set with the unrecorded crowd pleaser of a tribute to Mr. George Bush himself, Idiot Son Of An Asshole. Excellent way to end an excellent performance.

Up next on the Brian stage was Yellowcard at 7:30. This is why I love Warped Tour. You can see a metal band at one point during the day, then a hip hop act, and later a pop-punk band all in the same day. I love the variety. So I get over to the stage and Yellowcard is already playing. I don’t plan on watching their entire set, so I don’t worry about making my way through the crowd and instead just stand near the back. The songs I saw them play were all from their latest album, Ocean Avenue. They performed Believe, Way Away, and Only One. After that, I was off to the Teal stage to catch the last band of the day, Story Of The Year, who was playing at 8:00.

I get over to the Teal stage and get close to the front just in time to see the band walking out to play. They started out by playing And The Hero Will Drown, which is the first track off of their album Page Avenue. These guys were full of energy from the start, and were jumping all over the place. The crowd was really into them as well. In order to beat the traffic, I had only planned to stay long enough to hear them play Until the Day I Die. But as they got further into their set, I realized they were probably saving it for last. I saw them perform Divide and Conquer and Anthem Of Our Dying Day as well as another song which escapes me at the moment. I then decided to call it a day and head out. As I was driving out of the parking lot, I could hear them playing Until the Day I Die.

Highlights of the day: Avenged Sevenfold, Bad Religion, From Autumn to Ashes, and NOFX

Disappointments of the day: Missing Anti-Flag, choosing Taking Back Sunday over Underoath, $3.50 bottle of Dasani water.

Pimping Jesus, and other passtimes of the American Right

Centuries ago (a little over two, to be exact), America was born. Or borne. However the hell you spell it. anyways, two centuries ago, a group of displaced Brits decided to, on the shores of the Atlantic, give Democracy a chance. And they did. And boy, they got results you just can’t argue with.

While other countries were exploding in horrible bloody fireballs, we were safe over here, examining dresses for cumstains. While other countries were enveloped in mass genocide, we were busy pretending to like watching Space Jam. While other countries were caught up in famine, monsoons, and other things that bum us out, we were focusing our intellect on the truthfulness of the virginity claims of Britney Spears. And lord, didn’t it pay off? Economic prosperity. Wal-mart. Double stuffed Oreos.

See, all this is simple. Life your life, enjoy yourself, and let people settle their own lives. Let them live with their decisions. Let them be happy, or be sad, based on what they’ve done. But of course, there’s one group that really hates that idea. One group that believes what they say is right. And right ain’t their middle name.

It’s their only name, kittens.

Yes, the American Right. Not to be confused with the limp-wristed, Tisk Tisk Leftists, the American Right has taken the world by storm. If you don’t want them around, fuck you, they’re coming anyway. You want those ballots read that would prove your guy won Florida? Eat me, I’m Right. You want your twice-elected president to serve his full term? Shut up, you unamerican hippie, I’m right. You elected a dead guy instead of my buddy? Fuck you, I’ll give him a job. Because I’m Right. And you, the American people, you’re wrong. I’ll take whatever I want.

…and right now, what the American Right wants is Jesus. Yep.

“Jesus would have been a Republican” was a letter I recently read in the Gazette. God, you know, he’s right. Jesus hated those fags, didn’t he? And he loathed abortion. And the environment… well, he had to have hated that. He was raised in the desert! Right?

You see, Jesus was a meat eating, tobacco smoking, gun-toting millionare. He had a hard-on for war. He loved getting in wars and fucking with people just for the hell of it. You? What are you doing? Fuck you, here come the bombs, bitch! Etc, etc, etc. And he loved money. Hell, he would have put them Republican moneychangers right there at the front, to help the party he loved win.

…what’s that you say?

Moneychangers in the temple?

Jesus did what?

No, shut up. I don’t give a damn about your Bible. Jesus is mine, and I’m taking him. I’ll pimp him like a set of implants on the front of my party, let ’em bob around and get people’s attention. I’ll use him the same way a used car dealership will use a local celebrity to move product. Because I come first. Me. My vision. I’m Right. Jesus died on the cross for sins… so I’ll do as many of them as I can. Not the icky kind… I’m not Clinton, I’m Newt Ging…shit. I’m Strom Thur… shit. Well, not the icky kind anyway! After all, lying about energy won’t hurt anybody. Sending boys to die in bloody explosions won’t hurt anybody that matters to me. Yes, I’ll be rich, I’ll be Right, and when I die, my gun toting savior will ascend me into heaven, while the hippie commie bastards burn below.

Am I Right?

Or have you Left already?

Wasted Words 30

Hello boys and girls. Yes, it’s me again. Thrilled, aren’t you? I thought so. As you know I went on vacation a couple weeks ago to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We spent a week down there and had a great time. We rode go-carts, went to an amusement park, did some shopping, visited an aquarium, and went to Dolly Partons Dixie Stampede dinner show. Oh, and we went to the beach. It was the first time I had ever seen the ocean. I must say, I learned two things during my visit to the beach. The water tastes like crap and the sand gets everywhere. Yes, I do mean everywhere. Aside from sand in your crack and choking on salt water, the beach was pretty cool. This Thursday, I’m going to the Warped Tour in Indianapolis. Last year I wrote a review of the show, and I plan on it this time around as well. So look for that in the next week or two. Until then, enjoy this weeks column.

Unearth The Oncoming Storm
2004 Metal Blade Records

Have you turned on a “metal” radio station lately? If you haven’t, pat yourself on the back and know that you’re not missing anything. If you have, then you’re perfectly aware of the garbage that is being passed off as metal these days and it’s not pretty. Bands like Korn, who’ve never got over being picked on in middle school. Slipknot, whose members are so embarrassed about the music they play that they insist on wearing masks on stage. Even pop-rock/adult rock bands such as Nickelback and Creed get play on metal stations. Yeah, they’re about as metal as Dashboard Confessional is hardcore. If you’re one of those poor souls who have run into this issue, then fear not because there are still bands making great, ass kicking metal music. You just have to search past the radio airwaves to find them. Enter Unearth with their blend of metal and hardcore. This Massachusetts band has been unleashing head pounding metal to the masses since 1998, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down either. The recent release of their Metal Blade records debut is definite proof of this.

The album kicks off with the politically motivated track, The Great Dividers. Immediately, this song kicks you in the ass and lets you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. Opening tracks, I feel, are a very important part of setting the pace for a good album. Unearth made an excellent choice for that task with this song, which asks, “Does hate mean freedom?” The album manages to hold the pace set by this opener all the way until track nine, Aries, which is a slower song featuring some piano work and subtle, barely there vocals. Though it’s a big change from the rest of the album, this is a great song and greatly displays their versatility as a band. The album also features the song Endless, which was previously available on the four song EP of the same name, released in 2002. This is one of my favorite songs by the band, as well as the first song I had ever heard by them. The breakdown in this song is extremely addicting and should contain a Surgeon Generals warning. I hear it causes random windmills and floor punches, so consider yourself warned. Along with a perfect opening track, I believe the band chose an equally perfect closer in False Idols. Blazing guitars, lighting fast drums, and yet another great breakdown carry this song and round the album out quite nicely. As cliche as it might sound, this album features something for every heavy music fan. The hardcore kids will absolutely love the plethora of breakdowns, while the metal kids will worship the guitar work. Hell, soccer moms everywhere might even enjoy the piano work in Aries. Hey, it could happen. I’ve certainly seen stranger things. I personally love the entire album, and I’m glad to hear some socially consciouslyrics on a metal album. Unless I’m missing something, you don’t seem to hear that often. This album definitely ranks way up on my favorites list and will definitely be getting plenty of play time in my CD player. If you like what you hear on the album, be sure to go out this summer and support the band on the Ozzfest second stage. You can also catch them at Hellfest, as well as various shows with Lamb of God, Every Time I Die, and Atreyu.
Recommended tracks: Endless, Black Hearts Now Reign, This Lying World
Recommended if you like:
As I Lay Dying
Killswitch Engage
Avenged Sevenfold

They just won’t quit, will they? The Federal Marriage Amendment was voted down, but now they have another trick up their discriminatory sleeves. This week, the US House of Representatives will vote on the Marriage Protection Act (HR 3313). If passed, it will prevent the Supreme Court and all other federal courts from considering any challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. To break it down, they weren’t able to change the Constitution so now they want to prevent the federal courts from protecting the constitutional rights of LGBT Americans. I strongly urge you to write your congressman or woman and let them know that you won’t tolerate this discrimination from our government. Head over to the Human Rights Campaign web site for more information.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, I’m out.