I Heart Pitchfork

There are many great music sites that update their content on a daily basis, though there are only a select few that I visit. One of those sites, which I have plugged in the past is Pitchfork. Their reviews are some of the funniest, and sometimes the snobbiest out there. That’s one of the reasons I like them so much. What inspired my little post about them, you ask? It goes like this:

Vincent Gallo: Recordings of Music for Film

Hack director, shoddy actor and utter non-musician Vincent Gallo shits his wettest mess yet: a Warp-endorsed collection of “music” from his “films.” In brief: Fuck you, Vincent. Just fuck you.

That’s damn fine journalism (and that’s just the blurb on the main page). Pitchfork takes great pride in ripping bands apart. They do it with such comical precision. It’s always personal and dammit, I like it.

Thursday Three – Feelings

1) How are you feeling right now? I’m feeling a bit on the tired side at the moment. I spent the entire day in front of my computer (shocker, eh?). Actually though, I haven’t just been sitting. I’ve been working on a couple of web sites. One of them is thursdaythree.com and the other is for cash. I’m happy, inspired and feeling pretty damn good. Thanks for asking.

2) What makes you sad? I could probably write a book on this question alone. What comes to mind when I think of the word is intolerance, ignorance, fear and the fact that human beings, for the most part, are not kind to one another. It makes me sad that people walk around unconsciously, not giving a thought to how their actions effect the Universe. I guess that’s not so much sad as it is disconcerting. I’ll just leave it at that, otherwise you’re going to get an essay.

3) Do you ever feel like being sad inspires you more than when you are happy? Absolutely, though I feel like both extremes inspire me. Sadness tends to inspire me to sit around, write about what I’m feeling and just kind of move through it. It almost always inspires retrospection and I tend to ask myself a lot of questions about why I am sad. On the flipside, and even though it’s not part of the question, happiness is very inspiring as well. It manifests in different ways though. I write more when I’m sad or feeling down. That’s something I need to work on. Who the hell wants to be sad all the time? I do like a little of both though.

Queens of 2002

The moment that “Millionaire” kicked in, my mind was blown. Everyone in the immediate vicinity was gawking at the asshole (me) playing music at an obnoxious volume. What they didn’t understand was that I was listening to the best album of 2002. The race is over. Nothing is going to touch Songs For The Deaf. This album is masterful, loud and most of all, it rocks harder than anything that’s been released in recent memory. You can argue with me all you want, but I’m just going to turn it up and drown your worthless opinion out.

How am I supposed to convey exactly how astonishing this album is? I can’t. As I sit hear and write this with Queens Of The Stone Age encompassing every bit of my sonic space, I am literally at a loss for words. I could make some feeble attempt to dissect the instrumentation and tell you that everything sounds just right, but you need to listen to this album.

Aside from Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri (the constant members), the skills of Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan help to make this album nothing short of incredible. Dave hits with such force and love, you’d think he’d been saving up his wad for this record (oh right, he does have that other band). And Mark Lanegan…well, no one can come close to the spooky, nearly sub-sonic quality that is his signature.

I must confess that I’ve had this album in one form or another for several months. Since the day it was handed to me, I have listened to it several times a week, sometimes all day. I didn’t expect to be so blown away by the final version, but I am. And honestly, I won’t name bands or albums, but there’s only been one other band I have felt so passionately about. My hunch is that Queens Of The Stone Age will change music. If they don’t, well, then they will continue to make some of the most towering music in rock. And I do mean R O C K.

[Note: Get the album ASAP. The limited-edition DVD that comes with the album has some amazing live footage, especially from the Troubadour show they played earlier this year. Also, put the CD in your computer and it doesn’t work, that’s because you have a copy protected version of it. It seems that Interscope/Universal are trying out some new technology to keep people from ripping the album. If you end up with one of these albums, promptly return it and say it’s defective. Fuck Interscope and fuck Universal. How dare they.]

I Missed The Party

I woke up in a panic. I thought there was a massive earthquake, but i was just my body. The thunderous awakening of a terrible nightmare. Drenched in sweat I lifted the top half of my body. My arm gave out under the pressure. It was black. Black was all I saw and I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I don’t remember this place. My head was pounding to the beat of my heart. I could feel the blood flowing through the left side of my head. Pressure so intense that it sent me into convulsion. Violent twitching that scared me. My head could explode at any moment. A flash of light created by my mind brought me back to consciousness. I was supposed to be at a party. That’s all I could think. I couldn’t say anything. I tried to speak, but there were just the thoughts. Silence. My mouth wouldn’t move.

I propped myself back up and looked around the room. My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and I realized I was in my clothes. I couldn’t read the clock yet, but there were four digits. How long had I been out? Just as my eyes started to focus on objects in the room, my body fell back against the pillow and I bit my tongue. It didn’t hurt. I couldn’t feel anything. My body was moving so violently, uncontrollably. All the while I could think only about dying. I could hear a dog barking. The noise echoed. With each bark, a fist to my head.

The barking stopped. There was silence. Tears were streaming down my face, or was it sweat from my forehead? My clothes were soaked and the taste of metal was in my mouth. Iron. Blood. I brought my hand to my mouth and spit on it. It was black. The inside of my mouth swirled with blood and saliva, about to overflow. I felt like I was about to choke. ‘What a terrible way to go,’ I thought. ‘What would they think when they found me? How long would it take?’ More barking and then everything went black again. Every muscle in my body contracted. My toes curled and my fingers tucked themselves into the palm of my hand. I could feel my finger nails digging into my skin. I had no control, but was conscious of everything.

All of the sudden my body relaxed. My eyes shot open and my strength returned immediately. I had no idea how long it had all lasted, only that it was over now. The dog was sleeping soundly to my right, pressed against my body. I looked over at the clock and it was 1:11am. I had missed the party.

A Rant On Life

It’s amazing what getting out of my apartment did for my spirit. As you know, if you’ve been following my life, I’ve been unemployed for quite a while. For the better (or worse) part of the last eight months I have had little in the way of steady employment. The ocassional freelance gig has been helpful, but oh how I yearn for the nine-to-five desk job again. There’s something to be said for security. There’s something to be said for not writing a check to my previous employer for some of the worst HMO health[we-really-don’t]care. I’m not there just yet, but it just feels like something’s going to give. There’s something in the air.

It’s been challenging to stay optimistic. I’ve been rejected more in the last several months than a two-headed retard in a Beverly Hills club. It’s not always easy to keep saying, ‘you’ll have a job, you’ll make a good living like you used to and you’ll be happy.’ The thing is, I have never been happier. I’ve also never been more poor. I’m not starving and I can pay rent, but I just don’t spend like I used to. It’s actually fine. It’s been very humbling. I actually think about what I’m going to spend my money on. I budget to some degree and I even use Quicken to keep track of things. These are all kind of new to me. I’ve never been very responsible with money. Who has time? Who cares? It’s not like you can take it with you when you die. Might as well spend it and have a great fucking time, right? I mean aside from a music shopping spree, I don’t spend much money on stuff.

That word has come up a lot recently. I have a lot of stuff. Most of it is bullshit, useless crap that I could donate or just plain do without. The books and magazines, for instance. I keep magazines for what? I read them, but then what? They take up space on a shelf, make me look like I know what’s going on in the world, even if it is just the world of music, fashion and pop culture. We all do it to some extent. I have every issue of Rolling Stone from August 1987 to the present. Crazy, eh? Aside from the yearbooks and photo issues, I have rarely gone back to look at any of them. Half of them are at my parents’ house. Then there’s the box that I can’t lift that is sitting in the corner of one of my closets. Of course there are issues all around the apartment in various piles as well. Sure, Wired looks cool on a shelf, but why the fuck do I need four years worth of them? I could go on about the magazines, but I think I’ll just spare myself the utter embarrassment of knowing that you are reading about all of my stuff.

Let’s be honest for a moment. Why do people keep books and put them on a shelf for people to see? To look smart, cultured and well-read. There really is no other reason to keep a book. There are a few exceptions like reference books, coffee table books (which are really just for show as well) and photography books, all of which I look at pretty often. There are a few that will make it through the next move. David Sedaris books will remain. I never get sick of reading his books. Perhaps a book or two from Douglas Coupland, Nick Hornby, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Tom Robbins and the Neale Donald Walsch books. What now fills up nearly two 6′ x 3′ Ikea “Billy” bookshelves will fit nicely on a couple of shelves.

I’m getting off track, talking about my stuff. My original point was to tell you how a change of scenery has helped recharge me. It has inspired me, made me set an alarm to get out of bed and made me feel like I was actually doing something. Oh, and I was making a little cash too! I guess it didn’t hurt that the job I just finished was for a guy who lived with an amazing view of the ocean in Malibu. I’m already working on my next job and have had to pass on an opportunity. Why is it that everyone has to have stuff right now? No matter. I handed the job to a woman who just moved to town and needs the work. There’s certainly something to be said for some good employment karma.

There’s going to come a day when someone hires me as a full-time employee. That time is going to come soon and then I’ll probably be writing about how much fun I had freelancing, but hopefully not. Like I said before, I’m happy and healthy, which I am thankful for. What it really comes down to for me is that I remain happy and learn a little something along the way. When I quit my job last year, I made a vow to myself that I would never take a job so personally that it damaged my psyche or physical well-being. Nothing and no one is worth any of that shit.

I received some nice emails about the quote that was in my last post: “Don’t eat your soul to fill your belly.” It’s not the only sign I have hanging in my office. A few of the other ones are:

“If you hate your job, hold down your expenses, save up for a while and INVEST IN YOUR JOY. Do it well, get paid and GET FIRED. It’s not rocket science.”

“I’d rather have a LIFE than a LIVING”

“Blasphemy means ignoring your dreams”

They just serve as a constant reminder. It’s easy to lose track of things when your life is moving at the speed of light or you’re in a rut. Slow down, chill out, get out and make time for yourself. Put up some signs or whatever you need to do.

Amnesty International Knows How To Throw A Party

I just had to post a quick review of the show, which was simply amazing. When you have the chance to see a show at the Ford Amphitheater, go.

Aimee Mann was amazing and damn funny to boot. Her new album Lost In Space is going to be a winner. The woman has more songwriting talent in her pinky than many I can think of at this late hour. I’ll think of something witty when I update the review.

Chris Martin (Coldplay) had lost his voice somewhere between last night’s show and tonight. He was poolside at his posh, rockstar, swank hotel (these are a paraphrase of his words, not mine) when he saw a sexy black man. That man happened to be called to the mic, and it was none other than Mos Def, who took over the main vocals for three covers: “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Twist of Faith” by Bob Dylan and “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. I cannot explain to you how amazing it came off. “Lovely Day” was one of those moments that I will never forget seeing. Will Champion (Coldplay drummer) joined them for “Three Little Birds,” as did the crowd. It was music magic at one of its finest moments. Made me feel much better about missing the Coldplay show at the El Rey too.

Beth Orton was wonderful, though poor gal had her set cut a bit short. I was pretty tired, so I didn’t mind much. She played some incredible songs from the new album, Daybreaker, as well as some older favorites.

All Is Forgiven!

Hurrah! Coldplay has developed into a powerful live band! It’s amazing what a difference 2 years can make. No longer present is the awkward, shuffling Chris Martin of old. No more straining to hit the high notes. No more losing his pitch.

Last night’s show at the El Rey Theatre was fantastic! This was the best Coldplay show I’ve seen.

To a sold out crowd, the band took the stage with confidence. Those fans who had stood in line since 5pm, or earlier, were well rewarded for their dedication, as were we all.

The show kicked off with a rollicking “Politik”. Once I heard how powerfully the band was playing, and saw how Chris was throwing his entire body into playing the piano, I knew that this was going to be a show to remember. Chris shook his body from side to side, fingers pounding the keys, sweat pouring off his face.

Once they finished playing “Politik”, the band paused only long enough for Chris to stand up and strap on his guitar. They then launched into “Shiver”. Whew! I had shivers running up and down my body listening to how beautifully this was played and sung. And, to my surprise, the audience was so moved as to start singing along. Chris looked happily surprised as well, and turned the mike towards the crowd so that we could sing one of the choruses by ourselves. One girl’s voice stood out enough that Chris told her that she should be on American Idol.

Throughout the show, Chris chatted with the audience, told jokes, and was very self-effacing. Overall, he seemed so much more comfortable and confident on stage. I could now see why Coldplay received such glowing reviews for their headlining set at Glastonbury this year.

Particular highlights of the main set included “Shiver”, “Trouble”, “Everything’s Not Lost”, “God Put A Smile on Your Face”, and “See You Soon”. The latter song is an old song written by Chris and Johnny and was performed by just the two of them with acoustic guitars. Lovely!

The new songs were so full-bodied and powerful. They also allowed Chris to really cut loose while performing them. He jumped around. He would stand at the lip of the stage and lean towards the crowd. He would extend the mike out towards the audience so we could sing along. And, yes, people knew the lyrics to the new songs already.

Everyone would be in such a sweat by the end of each number that Chris would throw water bottles out to the audience. In fact, during the encores, he sprayed everyone up front with water from his water bottle. By that time, the entire club felt like a sauna and the water was very welcome.

And, when the band finally played their hit single, “Yellow”, I held my breath. Would Chris succeed in hitting the high notes? Would he stay in pitch?

The answer was a resounding yes! This was the first time I’ve heard him nail this song live.

70 minutes after taking the stage, the band concluded their main set with the “Scientist”.

When the band returned to the stage for their encores, they chose to play new songs. “Clocks” was played first and sounded great. “In My Place” made its appearance next. I love this song! And, live, it was even better. After the song ended, Chris said, “I want to introduce the band now, because I heard that there’s a famous actor feller in the crowd. (pointing to each band member) Will, Guy, Chris, and that’s Johnny!”. Chris then laughed at himself and said, “I know. Cheesy”.

Prior to introducing “Life is for Living”, Chris said, “This is the last song of the last show of the tour. We aren’t doing anything tomorrow, so if you want us to play some more, let us know after this song. We’ll leave the stage for a little while and then come back and play more, if you want”. Of course, the crowd went crazy.

True to his word, the band returned to the stage after a short break.

And…. launched right into “Lips Like Sugar”. Yep, the great Echo and The Bunnymen song!

All of the Bunnymen fans went completely mental, and there was massive pogoing, arm waving, and singing!

After that, Chris sat down at the piano again, and said that he would slow things down a bit. He also said it would be the last song, and thanked everyone for coming out to hear them play and for remembering them. They then played “Amsterdam”, a lovely, brooding song off of “A Rush of Blood to the Head”.

All too quickly, the band was waving their final goodbyes.

The time only seemed to pass quickly because the show was so massively good.

In reality, the band played for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Yes, that’s right. One hour and 40 minutes.

Say goodbye to the 40 minute set.

Celebrity sightings: Elijiah Wood and Julia Roberts (who looked like she was having a really good time)

I suspect members of REM were in the house as well, since Chris dedicated “One I Love” “to the people who originally named this song. I hear they’re in the club tonight”. I craned my neck around, trying to spot Michael Stipe, but to no avail.

There was no opening band. A 30 minute DVD by 1 Giant Leap was shown instead. Fair trade was discussed, but due to poor audio over the PA system, it was hard to hear the dialogue, which was unfortunate. I was very interested to hear what was being discussed. The musical parts of the DVD, which were interspersed between the interviews, were good and included performances by Massive Attack, Robbie Williams, East Indian musicians, Michael Stipe, and Tim Booth (of James).

Whew! I’m so glad I was able to get a ticket to this show (the guy behind me paid $200 to a scalper to get in last night!). And, I’m glad I chose to also see them when they tour with Ash.

I found out this afternoon, that Chris and Johnny were last minute additions to tonight’s Amnesty International Benefit concert with Aimee Mann and Beth Orton. If I wasn’t so tired after last night’s show and a full day of work, I would’ve looked into getting a ticket, but decided sleep sounded waaay too attractive.

[Nearly Late] Thursday Three – Work

1) What good is employment if you can’t enjoy it? I guess the obvious answer is that it pays the bills (hopefully). If it doesn’t pay the bills and you don’t enjoy it, what the hell are you doing? A good friend recently decided to quit his job to try his hand at making a dream come true. I will be in the stands cheering him on. He will do amazing things. This I know. When I decided to quit my job last year, it was out of personal necessity. Two months off turned into, well, the better part of eight months. I’ve never been more poor and happier. Work is finally picking up (for now), which is nice. This guy said something amazing to me when I was healing, just after quitting. He said, “Don’t eat your soul to fill your belly.” I’m not sure who originally said it, but it hangs on my wall as a constant reminder. Hang it on your wall.

2) Assuming you are employed, even if it is part-time/sometimes, do you find that you have to turn work down or say “NO!” to the boss? Yes, as a matter of fact. I find it somewhat ironic that for months I have had no work and now I am having to decide what I can accept and what I have to turn down. It comes in waves and I’m riding this one for everything it’s worth.

3) Where do you get the most work done? I would have said at home until this week. Over the past few days I have had the pleasure to work for a gentleman who lives above Zuma beach in the hills of Malibu, California. It’s a small house and he has a separate guest house/office from which I have been working. It’s been one of those moments that remind me what drew me to Los Angeles in the first place…the ocean. The sound, the smell, the view. Too bad it was just a short gig. It felt nice to get out of the apartment for a while and now I want to live in Malibu.

New Blood

Diane Tanaka has joined the contributing staff at Jeans And A T-Shirt. She’s currently working on a lovely rant about the high price of CDs, consolidation in the industry, the death of good radio and other such topics. We’re damn glad to have her on board. She also goes to more shows than I do and takes photos when possible. Look for some reviews and photos from her as well. Yay. Group hug.