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reyFirst, a little story: I used to be an obsessive user of Livejournal. I started back in 1999, before Facebook and microblogging. I posted long, personal entries, often accompanied by photographs (I wanted to be a photographer—I became a poet instead). One of my favorite journals was by a writer whose handle I can’t quite remember, but it included the name “Lolita.”

I kid. I have nothing to contribute in terms of White Rock journalism, which is fierce over here as of late. And that’s not to say I haven’t loved this year’s releases by screamy white-boy bands like the Japandroids, the Cloud Nothings or, say, Titus Andronicus. White Rock is in pretty good shape, and when is it not?

Nah, right here is this petulant white boy’s favorite rap tracks of 2012, in no particular order, mostly Black, in no way comprehensive, just as good as good gets.

Is it that time again already?

Hell yeah, Dre.

Welcome to the 2012 holiday season. Are you ready for it? If you’re anything like the staff of TNB Music, you are most certainly not. But that’s OK, because once again, we’ve got you covered.

 

“Anytime you’re playing music for the crowd instead of yourself … you’re fucked.” … Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, in I’m Now.

Who the hell is Mudhoney?

I asked that same question of my students. I teach American history and music at a small college near Philadelphia. Last week, before mentioning Mudhoney, I asked the 18 to 20 year-olds if they had heard of Pearl Jam. Nearly every hand went up. I then inquired about their familiarity with Mudhoney. Blank stares. So, as with my students, I will provide you with a little Grunge 101.

Listen, dear readers, I want to discuss the records that exist only in my mind. You know, the ones that would be perfect if you added one key component, or the ones that could never exist no matter what, but they should. Like if you poured glue all over the shitty Zeppelin record and then played it at 45 speed while the glue dried. Or if Alice Cooper scatted over Coltrane’s Ascension.

These, then, are those records.

While numbered, this order is contextual only—it can be rearranged by whim.

Proceed.

Unless your name is Axl Rose, then ten years is a hell of a long time to get something done. In fact, most people can accomplish terrific feats of mind and body in well under a decade. Hell, with only eight years, US presidents have repainted the entire cultural landscape of the planet. But if you’re not in a hurry and you don’t mind waiting for the right moment to find you, then ten years is perfect.

In 2001, Ohio-born Scott Shriner stepped into the job as Weezer’s bass player—a position he has comfortably helmed for six of the band’s nine albums, through the present day. With followers whose fervor rivals that of Southern snake handling cults, this is officially a “high-profile gig” and with a steady diet of touring and albums over the past ten years, Shriner hasn’t spent a great deal of time surfing QVC. Until lately.

Guns N’ Roses mercurial frontman Axl Rose has pulled the ultimate deke on the music industry–he has decided to take a pass on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Specifically, he has declared that he will not be attending this weekend’s induction ceremony, and via a letter to the RRHOF, he is requesting that he not be inducted in absentia.

Unfortunately, this announcement will be confused as news. People will come at him from all sides, triumphantly pointing out the Orca-sized holes in his arguments and decrying his ongoing megalomaniacal delusions. This is simply pointing out the obvious with a sense of discovery. In fact, such attention will only buttress Axl’s view of himself as a tragically-misunderstood, well-meaning, regular guy, constantly fending off the unprovoked attacks of the media and his former bandmates (the ones who made the music that he sings).

There is no news here.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” -Zen aphorism

Death has parted us from another pop star. Whitney Houston, aged 48, drew her final breath inside a bathtub full of water, her heart finally waving the white flag from a fourth-floor hotel room floating somewhere above the boulevards of Beverly Hills.

Call it “hair metal,” “glam metal,” or “sleaze rock,” but the unique sound that came from the Sunset Strip in 80s Los Angeles was once the dominant vibe of commercial radio. Guns N’ Roses’ sonic masterpiece, Appetite for Destruction, emerged as the high point of the genre, which subsequently expanded and diluted as record labels rushed forth to cash in on the cultural hysteria. Weaker, lighter fare, packaged as “metal” and “hard rock,” found overexposure on MTV and by the decade’s end, the music industry was already searching for the next big thing.

The 90s saw hair metal reduced to butt-of-joke status as gravely serious bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana rolled out music that was low on image but high on intensity. Some hold that grunge killed hair metal, but the fallacy of that statement is that hair metal never died- it simply returned to its hardcore fans. In that process, many of the 80s’ biggest names failed to move on to the next millennium, but of those that did, none made music with the consistency and caliber of L.A. Guns.

Welcome to TNB Music!

By Joe Daly

Notes

 

With the recent upgrades to the site, we are pleased to announce the launch of TNB’s new music section.

The steering committee got together with the planning committee and we broke out a few ad hoc committees before circling back and debriefing the joint committee oversight board on what we should call this brave new section. After an expansive, fiery and briefly violent debate, we settled on:

TNB Music.

Back in February, Justin Bieber was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category. Since North America’s youth was in the throes of “Bieber Fever,” he was the odds-on favorite, though it’s worth pointing out the publicity machine behind the curtain, which timed the release of his 3-D film, “Never Say Never,” for the same weekend as the Grammies.

But something happened on the way to Bieber’s supposed Grammy coronation—he didn’t win. Instead the award went to Esperanza Spalding, a relatively unknown jazz singer and bassist.

In the hormone-addled hearts and minds of teenagers, Bieber and his $750 haircut can do no wrong. Within hours of the Grammies, an angry mob of “Bieliebers” chose Spalding’s Wikipedia page as the target of their outrage. They changed her middle name to “Quesadilla,” and added comments such as, “She now has the 2011 Grammy for being the Best new Artist! Even though no one has ever heard of her! Yay!” One even used all caps:  “JUSTIN BIEBER DESERVED IT GO DIE IN A HOLE. WHO THE HECK ARE YOU ANYWAY?”

Vox Rockuli

By Joe Daly

Notes

It is the most important instrument in rock and roll and far and away the most underrated.

It takes years to finesse and the cruel irony is that just when most musicians start to master its many nuances, their physical aptitude for it begins to diminish.

It is the voice. The vox. The pipes, the golden throat, the mouthy spitter of words. OK, I made that last one up. It’s late. Cut me some slack.

The delusion persists that while you can teach yourself an instrument like the guitar or the piano, the voice is something you either have or you don’t- you spit out of the womb and either you sound like Aretha Franklin or you’re the next Bea Arthur. Sure, it’s understood that talented people might be able to improve their range with a vocal coach but most are convinced that they either sing like a bird or that they can’t sing for shit. Good luck convincing the latter folk that with a little training they could have million dollar voices.

But they could.

In fact, they have.

Shivers

By Hank Cherry

Notes

Rowland S. Howard wrote the song Shivers as a teenager. It’s an indelible ode to youthful misery and unrequited love paired with a willful, yearning guitar. When he died thirty years later, in December 2009, he was fifty. Liver cancer. Impressive character to the end, Howard played a gig just a month and change before his death. In an interview with New Zealand writer Simon Sweetman, Howard sounded down right relieved to have kicked Shivers off his set-list at last. “When I did use to do it in shows, I was doing a cover of some song that had been around forever. I guess that is a strange way to feel about a song you wrote. But that’s how it felt.”

In another interview Howard refers to the song as his albatross. Howard then goes on to play a stoned out but entrancing version of the song, it comes alive despite his careless attitude, a mournful dirge, a collaborative effort between the then middle aged Howard and the youth who wrote the song.

Last night, I went to a Phish concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I’d never been to a Phish show before, and frankly, I expected more hippies. You know, older people with weathered skin and tie-died clothes sitting around nodding slowly as the band plays into the 12th minute of a song, the title of which we have all forgotten because they’ve wandered so far from any recognizable melody. But there were fewer hippies than college kids, and many of those appeared to be frat boys.

The lawn before the show and the bros.

First come, first serve. One per person. No returns.

  • The Hypnic Jerks
  • Riff Medusae
  • Harumph!
  • My Share of the Dildo
  • Animals for Feminist Research