Archive for the ‘ Music ’ Category

Life is Music April 30, 2013: Gay in the (w)NBA

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song.

It’s been a huge deal the past few days that Jason Collins is the first NBA athlete to come out as gay. (Phew, that was a lot of links.) I don’t care much for sports, but I do care greatly for fact-checking. And Jason is far from the first famous athlete to be publicly LGBT*.

Many women athletes have told the world that they identify as gay. The website The Advocate, for instance, is currently running an article on Brittney Griner, a gay woman in the WNBA. The article, which talks about how she came out before her first pro game, is being featured on the site at the same time as an article hailing Jason as the first out NBA athlete. And it’s not unrelated that the sub-headline of the article questions whether Brittney’s gayness will interfere with the femininity of women’s sports.

I offer many kudos to Jason. In this world that wants to know exactly what’s going on in everyone’s bedroom, it must be incredibly tough to be a public figure and share something so personal and private about oneself, to open oneself up to such criticism. Even in one that’s becoming more accepting of gay men, Jason has already had to deal with intolerance.

As if this blog doesn’t have enough RVIVR, “Wrong Way/One Way” offers a message appropriate with today’s topic. While I want to reinforce that many athletes (including many women) have come out with much less fanfare, what’s really important is that everyone is accepted for who they are, no matter who they love.


Life is Music April 23, 2013: Put your wallet where your classroom is (because you have to)

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song. Today, coming in just over the wire, the first generation to be worse off than our parents keeps getting hit harder!

There’s lots of ways this seems to keep happening. Today in particular, Cooper Union announced that they will start charging up to about $20,000 in tuition for students who can afford to pay. Considering how mind-blowingly expensive some colleges are, this might not sound like much. But Cooper Union is a venue of higher education that has offered free tuition for accepted students for more than a century.

“The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” the board chairman, Mark Epstein, said in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.”

That’s interesting. And, I’d argue, inaccurate. I don’t know the details of the true costs of operations for the school, but I’d say it’s a pretty devastating change in character for Cooper Union to start charging students. Charging students tuition is pretty incongruent with a mission of offering a quality education without having to worry about cost.

It’s a sad day for higher education. But really, it’s just another continuation of a trend in rising college costs. And so, this week’s song is Big D and the Kids Table’s “We All Have to Burn Something.” Because this event can be described as infuriating, and saddening, but not that surprising considering the state of higher ed (and the toyed-with futures of millennials).

By the way, I originally planned on covering how fans are asking Streetlight to consider changing their venue location in Virginia due to recent homophobe comments made by someone who worked there. It’s a story worth following, and likely I’ll post more about it if the venue does get changed.

“Mothers of Young Men Killed by NYPD Call on Musicians to Write Songs for Justice”

I would like for the artists to bring that pain out that I hold inside for my son’s death.

What say you, music makers?

(via Colorlines)

Another Record Store Day success story

Another Record Store Day success story

Rocket from the Crypt: “Group Sounds”
Samiam: “Clumsy”
Gray Area: “Fanbelt Algebra

Not found:
Husker Du: “Statues”

Found, but not purchased:
Notorious B.I.G: “Ready to Die”

All in all, a most punk rock Record Store Day 2013. All fantastic albums, now all in my vinyl collection.

In which I review RVIVR!!!! (Exclamation points mine)

Every so often I go to a show where one of the bands look like they’ve having the best time of their lives during the show. Even less frequently does more than one band appear to be having the Greatest. Day. Ever. at that very show. And only once, in my experience, has that happened twice in one day.

And yet, this was Saturday at the final two RVIVR shows of the tour. I went to both, and going to see two RVIVR shows in one day is up high on my list of things in life that I did right. One show was better than the other, meaning they were both fantastic, crowded punk shows. Both took place in the tiny back rooms of bars, with a small stage that couldn’t quite contain the volume and force of the music.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan ahead for taking photos, and my smartphone/high-tech camera was full to capacity and wouldn’t take any pictures. Luckily, I attended the show with F Yeah! Queer Music, where you can find a few photos and another great review. Both shows were so small and we planned well. Even at the packed and sold-out Union Pool, we managed to get close to the stage. This meant singing along and dancing literally alongside various bands before and after their turn on the stage. At one point, I found myself next to the members of Dogjaw, and told one of them how much they killed it at both shows. Saturday was way better than the third-to-last show at NYU on Tuesday, she told me. That one was weird. These last two shows really were the best.

And what more could you really hope for at the finale?

The Homewreckers opened the St. Vitus show with a classic punk sound and empowering tendencies. Guitarist Cristy C. Road also took part in an event at the New Museum the following day, and wrote a raw graphic novel that I plan to one day read in its entirety. “When capitalism falls/I’ll still meet you at the shopping mall,” went the awesome chorus of one song.

Dogjaw was next at St. Vitus. They played both shows, and they did so with furious intensity. They are raw and vicious and don’t hold back on stage. They will blow out your eardrums and you will want more. Listen to them. Seriously. They have a sound that will blow you away.

Extra Feeler opened the Union Pool show. Like Dogjaw and The Homewreckers, they’re a solid group of three with the basics of guitar, bass and drum. Three instruments, lots of power.

Shellshag is crazy. They’re reminiscent of the White Stripes in that the guy is on guitar while the lady rocks on drums, with a similar shoegaze-y feel on some of their songs. Wiki says they formed in the same year, so it’s likely a coincidence. Shellshag brought their own set up (a mic tower, three drums), started their set with a music video, covered songs by RVIVR and The Cure, and ended their set with a guitar handing from a chain on the ceiling, at which they threw drumsticks. Super danceable and insanely fun.

And then, RVIVR. Oh man. There are so many words, so many positive adjectives and adverbs to use for these shows. I described Dogjaw as empowering, but it’s so fitting for RVIVR, too. Free. Bold. Mind-blowing. Impossibly catchy. Real. They played through a good part of their discography, and their energy didn’t lag for one song.

Amazing shows. So glad I went to both. Can’t wait to see these bands again.

“Mikey Erg joins every band in history”

Pictured L-R: Mikey Erg, Tommy Erg, Marky Erg

ERG – 182 Pictured L-R: Mikey Erg, Tommy Erg, Marky Erg

Tumblr never stops creating beautiful things.

Noteable Mikey Ergs in every band in history:

ERG – 182 (pictured)
SleatERG Kinney
The MenzingERGS
The Bouncing ERGS!
Jimmy Eat ERG
Joyce ManERG
Mikey Stripe of The ERG Stripes

You know you want to see more.

Life is Music April 11, 2013: ‘Accidental Racist’ is awful, not accidentally

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song! This week’s rudieTuesday falls on a Thursday, because, well, life happens. But it’s worth it, because this week is a playlist instead of one song.

You may have heard about this week’s story on or before rudieTuesday. It may have prompted face-palming, eye-rolling, or laptop-across-the-room-throwing.

That’s because this week’s news story is the existence of and subsequent viral nature of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s hit single, “Accidental Racism.” Whoops!

Most articles written about this song have had a decent grasp on how bad this song is, and why it’s so bad. Unfortunately, but as to be expected, not everyone realized this.

The Village Voice’s take on the song, for instance, is disappointing at best, and offensive at worst. Author  Alan Scherstuhl calls the song “imperfect” at worst and “more complex than the simpleminded reactions it has stirred” at next-to-worst. Oh, how now even close that is. I adore the Village Voice and hoped for better, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from someone writing about country music in NYC.

This song is awful for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that racism is still a problem. The generalized white guy in the song’s biggest problem is his t-shirt is offensive and he’s ignorant. The generalized person of color in the song’s biggest problem is that he’s likely to face discrimination in education and employment, and be targeted by police who assume he’s a criminal because of his skin color. Brad Paisley’s biggest problem is he probably thinks this song is a positive step towards stomping out racism. LL Cool J’s biggest problem is he thought participating in this song would be a good idea.

In response to this inane song, The Atlanic posted a list of songs about racism on the non-awful end of the spectrum. I thought the idea fit with the spirit of this blog, so below is my own short playlist. Enjoy! And, ya know, smash racism. (Some lyrics NSFW.)

The Coup – “We Are the Ones”

Brother Ali  – “Uncle Sam Goddamn”

Mos Def – “Wahid”

OPM – “Unda”

Operation Ivy – “Officer”

Blogger’s note: You may have noticed this playlist is half the length of The Atlantic’s playlist, and still not all punky music. This is because, while a number of punk bands do tackle the issue of racism, few of them are people of color themselves. It’s an interesting tie-in to this issue. Punk is dominated by white dudes. As a result, this playlist is short, as to not also be dominated by white dudes.

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