Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

This year has produced a lot of bullshit. An earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people. Monsoons left 20% of Pakistan under water. An Antarctic collision between an iceberg and a glacier gouged out a chunk of sea ice the size of Luxembourg. An Icelandic volcano pissed off a shitload of Europeans. Winter was so warm that Canadians couldn't even make fake snow for their Olympics. Man just made things worse - between the BP oil leak and this country's lawmakers not being able to balance a fucking checkbook, it's been a stressful year being an American (that's why I rid myself of all nationalism - I don't have to feel guilty when shit like this happens, it's great). But you know what, despite all that, at least some great records came out in 2010. Here's the Squid Pro Quo "Top 10 of 2010."

1. Iron Chic - Not Like This

2. The Dopamines - Expect the Worst

3. Sundowner - We Chase The Waves

4. The Brokedowns - Species Bender

5. The Riverdales - Tarantula

6. Alkaline Trio - This Addiction

7. The Methadones - S/T

8. Old Wives - See You In Hell

9. Off With Their Heads - In Desolation

10. The Queers - Back To the Basement

If Deep Sleep's new album were officially released, it would have made this list.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An AT&T electrician, a CD/DVD replicator, a grocery store manager and a full-time musician by day, The Methadones by night

My favorite band to see live announced it was calling it quits this past June. The Methadones will play its final show this Saturday, 11/13 at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago with The Soviettes, The Copyrights and The Jetty Boys. I've never had such a conflicted set of feelings for a show in my life. I have seen The Methadones over 20 times, more than any other band. Ever. I've made friends at their shows, met significant others at their shows and all-around had way too much fun singing along to Dan Schafer's infectious pop tunes (and had an indiscernible number of guitarist Mike Byrne's grey picks stuck to my forehead after being in his mouth. And spit at me, for that matter). Seriously though, no other guitar player will encourage you to flip things up on stage (guitar picks, bottle caps, etc...) and into his mouth while playing a song.

My hetero-life mate, Jerry Cola (who I befriended after many-a-Methadones-show years ago) and I have been yelled at and had things thrown at us by drummer Mike Soucy for stealing Byrne's microphone at past Beat Kitchen shows and drunkenly singing with our favorite songwriter, Dan Schafer. Pretty much every time, it's a blast to talk to bassist Pete Mittler. Most of the times, he's hammered and says things to me like, "I hope I remember this song" or "I'm not gonna fuckin' remember this song." This past June in Baltimore, he's even condensed it down to, "I'm drunk. Shit, we go on soon." But he's always pulled through, and it rocked. I've seen The Methadones have really, really good nights and I've seen them have off nights. I've seen them play venues that are no longer venues (first Bottom Lounge on Belmont Ave. and School St., Stage 83 in Lemont, etc...). I've seen them play dives. I've seen them play huge stages. I've seen them in Illinois. I've seen them multiple times in Maryland. I've seen them go through lineup changes. I've seen them revert back to the old lineup. I've seen those guys on the wagon and I've seen them off the wagon. I've seen them play Riverdales songs. I've seen them play Sludgeworth songs and I'm pretty sure I even saw them take a crack at a Screeching Weasel song before the whole Weasel get-back-together thing (it was The Methadones or The Mopes at the Beat Kitchen in 2006, I can't recall). I've lost my voice a lot, dealt with a combined total of weeks of ringing ears and have been overly tired the following day because of this band. And I wouldn't change a thing about it. Except for maybe wearing earplugs sooner.

The first time I saw The Methadones play was June 12, 2005 at the old Bottom Lounge. They were opening for The Lawrence Arms, a band whose live shows I was also pretty new to at the time. A Wilhelm Scream also played that show. That was during the band's Thick Records days: a label that treated them like shit, skipped out on any forms of payment and from what I understand, ultimately ignored any and all of the band's attempts to contact them. "Not Economically Viable" had been out for about 7 months and I was completely oblivious to anything Methadones. I didn't know that that Sunday, the day Mike Tyson announced his retirement from boxing, would be the first time I would see one of my future favorite bands and be the start of a few new friendships at shows and outside of shows.

I headed back to the car my ma let me borrow that day - or to the Metra - hooked. I couldn't take my eyes off their guitar player, Mike Byrne. He was running back and forth across the stage like a fucking madman and I'm pretty sure he was intoxicated and/or on something. He was pogo-ing like crazy and I thought, "Man; these are some pretty poppy hooks but if this guy is that into it, there must be something more. They must be worth checking out." That's exactly what I did when I got home. I checked 'em out. I fell in love with his lead guitar on songs like "Mess We Made" and especially, "I'm About To Crack." I told my best friend from high school, "You gotta check these guys out with me, you'll LOVE them" and it became a thing between me and that friend to catch The Methadones whenever they played Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.

I started a zine called Squid Pro Quo in January of 2008 after I discovered my passion for writing and then actually getting published. Frustrated with various music publications not publishing me (but moreso, my unwillingness to try over and over again only to be rejected or even worse, ignored), a light bulb clicked on in my head and I said, "Fuck it" and decided to start my own zine. It didn't sell all that well, but online, it got and still gets a lot of hits and I interviewed some pretty fuckin' cool musicians (Joe Queer, Dan Schafer, Mike Byrne, Derek Grant, Mikey Erg!, Jess Margera, etc...). Anyways, this isn't about the zine, it's about The Methadones. My favorite outlet with the zine was each issue's column by Mike Byrne. I'd e-mail him, knowing that he always had something funny to say and always had a story to tell whenever I saw him in person (I remember this one time at a show before I knew him, he and a friend of his were drunk and we were both wearing white T-shirts. His had a front pocket and mine didn't. He put his arm around me and pointed out the fact that had my shirt had a front pocket, we'd be matching. Then he told me to work on that).

He wrote me two columns and they are my favorite and most fun articles I published. The first one was an article he wrote in 2008 about meatheads. The second one, which he wrote in 2009, was published in the print copy of Squid Pro Quo issue #2, and tells all about The Methadones' European Tour, mainly detailing all the joints and weed that accompanied them and telling fun anecdotes about the drummer just deciding to end "Annie" in the middle of the song and so on (I gotta type that one up and post it).

Sometime in the next couple of days, Mike Byrne will submit a third piece chronicling The Methadones' 10-year run.

Thinking about this Saturday, I'm flooded with butting emotions. I'm as happy as I was when I was a teenager looking forward to jumping around, getting drunk and singing along, losing my voice and yelling for them to play "Transistor Radio" and "Bottom Out" (the latter of which I don't think I've ever heard live). At the same time, I'm bummed. I'm really, genuinely bummed that this will be the last time I will experience The Methadones. No other band since June 12, 2005 has made an impression on me quite like The Methadones did. That's not to say I haven't gotten really into any bands since then, but The Methadones were and are unique. The four-piece are all very different personalities with their own unique lives, and they've always set that aside and collaborated to play these songs. My relationship with each of them as friends has changed how I initially viewed them, but only for the better. As I've grown up and played in my own bands, I've shared bills with Pete, I've hung out with Mike Byrne, had beers with Dan (while being too afraid I'd come off as just another obnoxious, attention-starved pop punk fan) and engaged in some things I cannot publicly speak of with Mike Byrne now that I really think about it.

It will be a bummer knowing that part of my teenage years/early 20s is gone. Fortunately for me, the guys of The Methadones all have different musical prospects going on so the good thing is, I won't lose out on the music they make. Dan Schafer's in Screeching Weasel, The Riverdales and Noise By Numbers, Mike Byrne is in Cliff Johnson and the Happy Jacks, Pete Mittler plays in Explode and Make Up, The Bomb and The Neutron Bombs and Mike Soucy plays in The Bomb. I'm excited as I will ever be to see The Methadones one last time at Reggie's this Saturday, but I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't bummed out as well.

Former Marilyn Manson Guitarist Opens Black Hearts Bar & Grill in West Chicago, IL

Former Marilyn Manson and Life, Sex & Death guitarist, Zim Zum -
legally known as Timothy Michael Linton - is opening a restaurant
tomorrow in West Chicago called Black Hearts Bar & Grill.
The guitarist played in Marilyn Manson from 1996-1998. According to
his Wikipedia page, he was one of 150 applicants for the spot and one
of 15 to actually audition. His first music video appearance was in
Marilyn Manson's 1996 single, "The Beautiful People." He traveled with
the band during its 1996-1997 "Dead To the World" tour and played
guitar on the 1998 album, "Mechanical Animals." After parting ways
with Marilyn Manson, Linton told Guitar World Magazine that playing in
Marilyn Manson opened up new door and opportunities for him in music.
His current projects are Pleistoscene and The Pop Culture Suicides.
His restaurant's website, www.blackheartsbar.com has no information as
of yet other than it is opening its doors tomorrow, Thursday, November
11. On Saturday, November 13, a band called Sik Fiction is set to
play, featuring ex-Chainwax singer, Kris Radousky.
Black Hearts Bar & Grill is located at 124 Main Street in West
Chicago, IL. I'll probably grab some lunch there sometime next week
while on break. I'm envisioning a black metal atmosphere with a
jukebox full of metal albums, old and new. I'm stoked to try it and
wondering what beer they'll have on tap. If they have buffalo wings,
it'll make my day. If they have a special on them, I probably won't go
back into work.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

cKy Q&A with drummer, Jess Margera

cKy is playing the Clearwater Theater (96 W Main St. West Dundee, IL)
Thursday, November 4 with Lionize, HourCast and Flames of Icarus.
Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Show's at 7. Admission is $18. The band's most
recent single, "The Afterworld," was featured on the Jackass 3-D
soundtrack this year.

Q&A with Jess Margera, drummer of cKy

Squid Pro Quo: So cKy's on tour. Will you guys be releasing a new album soon?

Jess Margera: "We put one out last year, but we did just release a new
single on the Jackass 3-D soundtrack. It's been doing awesome. Movie
made $50 million its first weekend, it's crazy. Our new single, "The
Afterworld," plays as soon as the credits roll. Epitaph Records
released the soundtrack. There's also an iTunes single with a b-side."

SPQ: Have you ever played the Clearwater Theater before?

JM: "I think the closest we've done was Freeport, IL. I think it's near
Iowa maybe. Everyone says Clearwater is cool and small. We played the
House of Blues in Chicago last year. Today we're playing Flint, MI
kind of near Detroit. This place is awesome. The venue we're playing
is called The Machine Shop. There's all these motorcycles in the
place. It's fuckin' cool. The Clutch guys told me about this place.
I'm a huge fan of them. I started a band with singer (of Clutch) and a
guy from Fu-Manchu. We did a record last year. Those guys have been
touring since 1990 or something, so they know every good spot in
America. Whenever I'm playing a tour, I always ask them for tips. So
for years, they said this Flint, MI machine shop was fucking good.
It's my first time here."

SPQ: When you play your songs live, are they pretty true to the
recordings or do you guys venture out a bit?

JM: "I have friends say, 'I love cKy records' but you don't understand
cKy till you've seen us play live. It's a little more raw, a little
more crazy. Our fans appreciate the polished sound of album but live
is where it's at. So that's the best compliment I could get. That's
when you know you're a true live band. I can't stand all the bands
that play the tracks exactly and have all those drunk triggers. That's
whats wrong with rock. When we go on tour with bands, I'm not going to
name names but like, you'll catch their set and be like, 'this is
awesome,' and then they tell the same stories and same jokes. I guess
it works cause each town thinks they have their own witty jokes. But
on tour, it's like, 'ah shut the fuck up,' you know? We did Warped
Tour and Ice-T was on that. He kept saying, 'I'm no longer Ice-T. I'm
Ice-Motha-Fuckin-T, bitch.' The first few times it's awesome, but it
was like, 'if he tells that joke one more time, I'm gonna strangle him.'
He's a repetitive joke-telling dude, but he's cool as hell."

SPQ: I heard you guys have your own studio?

JM: "Chad (I. Ginsburg, guitarist) does. We put out an album last year
("Carver City," 2009) through Roadrunner Records that we recorded at
his place. It's called Studio CIG in Pennsylvania. It's on the
Delaware River. The last few records we did before "Carver City" we did
at random studios in L.A. and Hawaii and shit but there, you're on the
clock and you gotta watch your money and shit like that. When we're at
our studio, we don't have to worry about that. We can experiment like
crazy. If it takes six hours to get the right sound, then it takes six
hours. It's a pretty cool thing."

SPQ: Will there be a music video accompanying "The Afterworld?"

JM: "As soon as we get back from this tour, we're going to do that. All
I heard is that there was going to be girls and Bam (Margera) might be
the devil and it's going to be set in hell. Everybody's gonna be
raging in hell. It sounds like it's going to be fun. Hot girls and

SPQ: I read you filmed part of Jackass 3-D.

JM: "I filmed a couple of the days, but it's typical that they just cut
it out. I did a skit before where me and my brother were in this
shady-ass, murderer-looking van and we put Ryan Dunn in a plastic bag
with fake blood in it and we beat the hell out of him with rubber crow
bars and threw him in a dumpster and peeled out. The other cameramen
got people's reactions by the dumpster. It was so fuckin' funny. One
of the best skits of film but the test audiences thought it was too
real so that got cut out. I did some other stuff for Jackass 2 and
that got cut out. You can see me for like 2 seconds. They got me with
that invisible man thing. Wee Man dressed in camo. Whatever the
background is, they painted him like the background. My dad was in his
office and he has this weird-looking wall, so they painted Wee Man to
look like his wall. My dad's like, 'Jess, come here, I need you to
sign some paperwork.' I'm going down the stairs and Wee Man grabs me.
It's a fucked up thing when an invisible man grabs you, when you're
not paying attention. I do that every fucking day, you know. But that
day, I feel this midget grab me. My reaction was crazy. They'll use
that later I guess. But the movie's really good. We're stoked to be a
part of it. We've been friends with those guys for ages and they went
3-D on the new one. Now I realize those movies were basically made to
be 3-D. There's nothing like seeing someone get pissed on in 3-D."

SPQ: Your video idea reminds me of a video I saw on Beavis and
Butthead. What if cKy made it to Beavis and Butthead? I heard Mike
Judge is bringing it back.

JM: "I used to watch that show as a teenager and actually heard of a
lot of bands I'm into now because of that show."

SPQ: What if they trash talked your video?

JM: "As long as they're watching it and talking about it, that's great.
I saw them ditch a Ween video and then praise a different one. I dig
that video, and I checked out their record after that."

SPQ: You guys toured New Zealand and Australia in August. What was the
response like and how was the tour?

JM: "We flew from England to Hong Kong then to Auckland, New Zealand.
It was the most brutal flight ever. The entire trip was completely
around the Earth so it was close to 30,000 miles of flying. When I got
home, I had no idea what day it was; no idea what was going on. I
slept for two days straight. Pure jet lag. The shows were awesome,
man. It's worth the flight once you get there. If I didn't see another
airport for 10 years, I'd be totally fine with that. I just want to
stick to the continent and drive. I don't care if I have to get to
Alaska, I'll fucking figure it out. But I had such a great time. The
crowds are amazing. It's just cool because not to diss rap or country,
but it's just all rock there man. Purely rock n' roll. There's hardly
any rap or hip-hop, just rock. And you know, when you go into clubs
and there's that dance shit. But I'll take that over a lot of country
and rap. All of that stuff is terrible in my opinion. There's good
country and good rap. But there's a lot of bad country and bad rap. I
dig the early Wu-Tang shit. Old school."

SPQ: cKy the band and cKy the skateboard videos came out roughly the
same time. Which came first?

JM: "We did the first album ('cKy: Volume 1') then the skateboard videos.
They came out at the same time and were both called cKy. That guy
Spike Jonze saw it and wanted to put cKy stuff with this other company
called Big Brother. That's what Jackass is; cKy and Big Brother people
doing their thing. With Spike Jonze behind the camera, you can do no
wrong. I haven't see 'Where the Wild Things Are' yet. I heard it was

SPQ: I read you're going to release a box set in the future.

JM: "That's the plan because we're lucky enough that Chad has a studio
pretty much at our disposal. It's been 15 years, so we just have a
massive amount of stuff built up from radio sessions to demo versions,
b-sides and all kinds of stuff floating around that's pretty rad and I
think now's the time to get it out there. We have so many concerts
recorded from Japan, England and Holland too. We're sitting on this
massive amount of stuff that needs to see the light of day. I'm
excited about it, man."

SPQ: Do you guys have a label in mind set to release that?

JM: "There are so many options nowadays. It's pretty cool. You can kind
of just work with a distributor. When you're a band like us that's
self-sufficient and you don't need tour support money, there's almost
no reason to have a label anymore. If you know what you're doing, you
just get a distributor, a public relations person, press and there you

2010 cKy Tour Dates

11/1: Flint, MI @ The Machine Shop
11/2: Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s
11/4: West Dundee, IL @ Clearwater Theater
11/5: Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave II
11/6: Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
11/7: Iowa City, IA @ The Blue Moose Tap House
11/8: Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
11/10: Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
11/11: Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
11/12: Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
11/13: Towson, MD @ Recher Theatre

YOU GUYS!!! Svengoolie is coming to Elgin!

I got really excited this morning when I read that WCIU's seven-time Emmy-award winning Svengoolie is coming to Elgin.

Legally known as Rich Koz, Svengoolie will be signing autographs and gracing Elgin with his presence from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at The Hemmens Cultural Center, 200 N. Spring St. Svengoolie introduced me not only to the bizarre town of Berwyn, Ill., via television, but also cult classics like "The Car" (1977) and movies I later bought on DVD such as "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" and "Attack of the Killer Shrews."

I got twice as excited when I found out what was going on at 8 p.m. at The Hemmens -- an interactive showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show!"

I've always wanted to attend one of these, but only select theaters do them, and I was always discouraged because I'd have to drive out just before midnight to catch one, and it was expensive, and yadda yadda yadda. I have no excuse to miss this one, though, 'cause it will be practically in my backyard. People are encouraged to dress up for a costume contest too, which should be interesting. I kind of want to dress up as Svengoolie, hang out in the lobby closer to the entrance and see if anyone asks me for an autograph or a picture.

On the musical side of things, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has an incredible soundtrack.

About seven years ago, I bought a compilation put out by Springman Records called "The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show," which offered covers of the original soundtrack by pop punk bands like Elgin's own Apocalypse Hoboken, Chicago's Alkaline Trio and others.

Anyway. Rocky Horror tickets are $7 and can be bought at The Hemmens website or by calling its box office at 847-931-5900. See that website for more details as well.

-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

Link to story:

ESO: Fun for more than just the family

At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra will present a Halloween "Spook-tacular," the first part of the ESO Family Fun Series.

The orchestra will perform John Williams' music for the Harry Potter films. Tickets to each show in the Family Fun Series are $45 per adult and $30 per child.

Randal Swiggum will conduct the "Sppok-tacular" at the Hemmens Theatre, which seats 1,200 patrons. Swiggum joined the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in the 2005-2006 season as its education conductor. He works with the education and artistic departments in designing, developing, administering and evaluating all education and community engagement programs offered by the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

Swiggum also conducts the annual Kidz Konzerts, a Music In the Middle program that takes place in April. According to the Elgin Symphony Ochestra website, Swiggum is very active in music education and enjoys a diverse teaching career that has spanned first grade general music, high school choir, college orchestra, music theory and conducting. He is also the music director of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra.

There are three concerts in the ESO Family Fun Series. The other two are "Bring On the Brass" at the end of January and "Beethoven Superhero" in April.

-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

Link to story:

Elginites The Brokedowns and Bust! host release in Chicago

Remember that band from our awesome city I was talking about a few weeks back? You should. They were called The Brokedowns.


All went as planned, and the band's debut album on Red Scare Records, "Species Bender," was released Tuesday, Sept. 14. This Saturday, Sept. 25, The Brokedowns will be hosting a release show for "Species Bender" at Ronny's (2101 N. California Ave.) in Chicago with fellow Elginites, Bust!, Vacation Bible School and The House That Gloria Vanderbilt and Double Bird, from Minneapolis.

It gets more like a party, now that I think of it; the show is a double record-release gig for both The Brokedowns and Bust! The Brokedowns have "Species Bender" (if I may be so redundant), but Bust! also is releasing "Suck Kuts" on a 10-inch LP.

I hope The Brokedowns play "I'm a Ritual" and "Done With Funk" off the new album. Actually, I hope they play the bass intro to "I'm a Ritual" before every song, and also at the end of every song, cause it rules. Anyway.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and is 21+. Go show Elgin's sound some love.


* The Brokedowns

* Bust!

* Vacation Bible School

* The House That Gloria Vanderbilt

* Double Bird

-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

Link to story:

BREAKING: Mad Maggie's to close, reopen Friday with new name, management

I found out yesterday that Mad Maggie's is no more. In fact, the signs are being taken down today.

But that doesn't mean there will be a lack of music.

After one of the Mad Maggie's owners, Ted Kurita, bought out his partner Sean Davis, the place is in need of new management, said Evie Ferrie, former co-manager of The Gasthaus. Ferrie and former Gasthaus co-manager Larry Herman met with Kurita, who them an offer to be his partners. They accepted and will be managing what is to be called The Hangout, opening Friday and taking the place of Mad Maggie's.

The Gasthaus, in need of new management, will continue hosting live music. All the shows that were booked into December by Ferrie and Herman will happen.

"Some of the bartenders will be following me," Ferrie said.

At The Hangout, Ferrie and Herman will hire a new staff and make a lot of changes.

So what does this mean for music in Elgin? Nothing bad. It's change, and a breath of new life for the local music scene.

"We plan to have an underground area that Fil will bartend for us here Sunday through Thursday - a punk hangout," Ferrie said.

There will be live bands on any of those days downstairs. Ferrie hopes to bring in bigger acts with The Hangout's 1,000-patron capacity.

On Fridays, they plan to have teen dance parties for 17-20 year olds. On Saturdays, they'll have bands early and DJs late. Ferrie said they want to focus more on the food as well. The upstairs of The Hangout will be sports-themed.

"In October, we hope to open for lunch with a buffet and a pizza place inside," Ferrie said.

So long as the rock 'n' roll doesn't stop, I'm a happy guy.

-- Jason Duarte, Music Blogger

Link to story:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Big hits at Small Mall record shop in South Elgin

Friend, informant and popcorn aficionado Katie Anderson informed me the Small Mall on Route 31 in South Elgin, across from the Foxtrail Restaurant, had a sign in the window that read something like, "Vintage LPs, $3 each."

Curious, I went in and checked it out last week. Their selection was surprisingly large. They had mostly classic rock, pop and new wave records.

After tracking down the Cheap Trick stock to see if there were any LPs I didn't have, more records at the opposite end of the store caught my eye. There were the 7-inches, hundreds of them, unsorted and most without sleeves. There was a lot of polka on red vinyl and old music I never heard before on blue vinyl.

What else? After the jump.

I decided it would take too long to look through every one of them, so I looked around the rest of the place, which proved to be interesting. For example: a motorcycle in the front window the owner claimed is not for sale but is a project he is working on. There was an old car in the store, as well.

After having my fill of tumbling antique kitchenware around in my hands, I went back to the music section and scoured their $1 crates.

"Yes!" I thought to myself. "This place has dollar bins too!"

The $1 crate had some decent LPs in it by artists like Blind Faith. I wasn't in a money-spending mood, so I resisted the temptation to fill out my "staple hit albums" collection. But it was there. I noticed they also had a decent selection of cassettes and 8-tracks. I noticed albums like Depeche Mode's "Violator" on cassette and other goth/rock/new wave artists filling up a tall wood stand.

I purposefully didn't finger through all their LPs to force myself to return to the Small Mall in South Elgin the next time I am bored or get the kick to round out my "staple hits" LP collection.

Listen to local music and connect with your hometown newspaper on MySpace at myspace.com/couriernews.

-- Jason Duarte, Music Blogger

Link: http://blogs.suburbanchicagonews.com/cn_bylines/2010/09/by_jason_duarte_friend_informant.html

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Review of Rediscover Records in Elgin

NOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.

I wasn't aware downtown Elgin had a vinyl-exclusive record store until Between the Bylines editor Emily McFarlan added a link to Rediscover Records' Facebook page at the end of one of my previous posts. Intrigued, I looked up its whereabouts and decided to check it out.

I walked past it a couple of times until I realized the shop shared space with an antique store at 207 E. Chicago St. On the right side are records, and the rest of the store is chandeliers, mirrors, glassware and other antiques. The nostalgia of the records blends right.

I approached the vinyl corner of the store, and the first thing that caught my eye was the $1 LP crates. I am a big fan of these, so I scoured through them. Most of what they had was classic rock and pop, but they also carried punk and metal albums by bands like The Clash, The Cult, Talking Heads, Ministry and Black Sabbath.

Find out what else Jason discovered, his review of the shop, after the jump.

On the left side of all the wax, Rediscover Records has a "new" section. I say new in quotation marks because some of the albums are old, but sealed, or have been re-issued. Some of the new records they carried were by artists like Radiohead, Black Flag, She & Him, The Gaslight Anthem and Broken Social Scene.

Rediscover Records' prices were reasonable for an independent record store. Digital music purchasing and sharing over the last decade has proven to be a big competitor to independent record shops, and it's noticeable, as many have unfortunately fizzled away.

If you enjoy new and used vinyl, I'd recommend browsing through Rediscover Records' LPs and collection of hundreds of 7''s. The other day, I spotted two copies of "Glass Houses" by Billy Joel, both marked $1, and picked up the one with newer-looking grooves. I, for one, am going to pop in from time to time and see what's going through there.

-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

Link to the story: http://blogs.suburbanchicagonews.com/cn_bylines/2010/08/_note_freelance_writer_jason.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Elgin band movin' up? Signed on indie label

NOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.

Gruff and throaty, yet melodic punk rock band The Brokedowns made a name for themselves around Elgin and Chicago late last century and have maintained a loyal fan base throughout.

In 1998, the Elgin four-piece released a demo tape followed by a few demo CD-Rs before the band saw its debut full-length release, "Let the Disappointment Begin," on Big Action Records in 2002. Since then, the band's released two more full-lengths and a handful of split 7-inches with other punk rock bands, like The Copyrights, The Arrivals, Turkish Techno and Sass Dragons.

The Brokedowns haven't had a full-length release since 2007's "New Brain For Everyone," but in June, an indie label with a successful catalog based out of Chicago called Red Scare Records decided it would put out the new Brokedowns album and added them to its roster of Teenage Bottlerocket, The Menzingers, The Lillingtons and others.

"There's so much going on right now with the label, and as we all know, these are bleak times for small indies like Red Scare," said label owner Tobias Jeg in a punknews.org article.

"But when I heard these songs, I just knew I had to make this happen. It reminds me of
Dillinger Four meets Black Flag meets (Naked) Raygun meets F***ed Up. It's thunderous punk rock but with great, stinging melodies and a little bit of fruitiness to make things fun."

Jeg will release the band's fourth full-length, "Species Bender," on Sept. 14.

A sneak peek at the album, upcoming shows, after the jump

On Tuesday, The Brokedowns posted two new songs to its MySpace page from the upcoming album. The songs, "Celebrity Death Panel" and "I'm a Ritual" accumulated over 200 plays in 12 hours. The new Brokedowns tunes are some of the most melodically infectious ones the band's churned out to date.

I am personally very excited for them. Signing to Red Scare is sure to bring them more fans in more places and only open more doors for the group, and after 12 years, I think they're deserving of it.

The "Species Bender" release show is set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at Ronny's (2101 N. California Ave., Chicago) with fellow Elgin-ers, Bust! and The House That Gloria Vanderbilt and Minneapolis' Double Bird. The show is 21+.

-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

Link to story: http://blogs.suburbanchicagonews.com/cn_bylines/2010/08/elgin_band_movin_up_in_the_world.html

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Local vinyl enthusiasts can enjoy "music on the go," too

Link to blog: http://blogs.suburbanchicagonews.com/cn_bylines/2010/08/_note_when_emily_mcfarlan.html

NOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of Rex Catapult and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.

Today, MP3 players and car CD players make it easy for us to listen to music on the go, as opposed to just a few decades ago, when we'd have to sit at home within earshot of analog audio. But did you know that although digital formats have replaced vinyl records, many record labels are still pressing albums to vinyl for those of us who do like to sit at home and listen to music?

And, being there is a small, but present demand for vinyl records, labels are making it easy for vinyl enthusiasts to take part in the luxury that is "music on the go" without having to buy the album on two different audio formats.

In the past couple of years, purchasing vinyl came with a nice added perk. Depending on if the label chooses to or not, many records now come with a slip of paper containing a URL and a one-time use download code.

The coolest part about this is, you have the music in its raw analog format on the record, which some would argue sounds better and more full because what you're hearing is the raw, recorded sound that needed no condensing or converting. (Digital audio is condensed from its original analog format.)

In other words, digital audio doesn't capture the complete analog sound wave, but takes "snapshots" of it (digital takes 44,100 "snapshots" per second). So, if there is a very quick transition in say, a trumpet, the digital version may sound distorted because the instrument's fast change doesn't carry over to digital as fluid as it would sound recorded as it was played. Converting it is approximating the original sound, at best. Get it?

More about getting records, free digital versions, after the jump.

Anyway, audiophiles get to have the analog recording to listen to at home, but can take the digital copy to their car, MP3 player, etc.

All the record label has to do, should they choose to include a download code with their album, is let the pressing company know. (It costs a little bit extra for the label, but it markets their LPs to more people.) The pressing company will then set up a digital copy of the album on its server, and all customers have to do to get it the digital version is redeem the code.

It downloads as a nice, neat ZIP file, with the album artwork usually included as a JPEG.

I personally enjoy having the best of both worlds with one purchase. And, if I burn the MP3s to a CD, I don't feel like a jerk having a burned CD of the album because, hey, it's totally legit.

Where to buy records in Elgin? Check out Rediscover Records, 207 E. Chicago St., previously written up in The Courier-News.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dopamines, The House That Gloria Vanderbilt, Bi-Furious, Das Kapital at Mad Maggie's:

So here is the first installment of my weekly music blog for the Elgin Courier. It was Monday night's Dopamines show at Mad Maggie's in Elgin, IL. Rock!


NOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, sings backup in Rex Catapult and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.

After devouring a delicious sub sandwich for dinner, I headed over to Mad Maggie's (51 S. Grove Ave., Elgin) Monday night to catch a good ol' weeknight punk show. Headlining were The Dopamines, touring from Ohio in support of their new album, "Expect the Worst," out on Paper and Plastick Records. And supporting were some great Elgin/Chicago bands that have a tightly-knit following, but always have flown under the radar.

Elgin's The House That Gloria Vanderbilt and Bi-Furious and Chicago's Das Kapital opened the show. The House That Gloria Vanderbilt features Todd Pot, better-known as the vocalist from his former band, Apocalypse Hoboken. Bi-Furious features members of Elgin's Vacation Bible School and Sass Dragons, and Das Kapital features Marc Ruvalo, owner of Johann's Face Records. Vacation Bible School and Rex Catapult were supposed to play but couldn't.

More on the Elgin bands, links, after the jump.

Bi-Furious are a skate/thrash/hardcore band. The four-piece's songs were short, fast and aggressive, like a 21st Century Minor Threat or JFA.

The House That Gloria Vanderbilt strays from the standard punk rock formula, as they were more experimental punk/rock and sounded heavily influenced by the Butthole Surfers.

Das Kapital was a little more melodic, drawing influence from earlier punk bands like Naked Raygun and The Replacements.

The Dopamines are notorious for their rowdy (in a camaraderie sort of way) shows, where it's not uncommon to see beer cans flying at them or being dumped on any of the four members at any given time, or people crowd surfing and most definitely singing along.

They share a similar sound to The Copyrights and aren't out of arm's reach of The Ramones, at least as far as influence goes. They know their power chords and use them tactfully. The dudes played songs mostly off "Expect the Worst," but threw a few old ones in there, like "Molly," another song with a memorable and viral chorus. Most of the new stuff follows suit in that infectious vein. Songs like "You'd Make a Good Horse Cop" and "Cincinnati Harmony" echoed around in my head long after hearing them for the first time, and hearing them live (and with another guitar to fill out the sound) was great. I left Mad Maggie's with a copy of "Expect the Worst" on both CD and LP Monday night.

I almost forgot: Not playing on the recordings, but touring with The Dopamines on second guitar is Mike Yannich, best known as the singer/drummer for The Ergs! (NOTE: The exclamation point is an essential part of their name). After a few more Midwest shows, The Dopamines will play Canada and then continue touring the U.S. until the end of August.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Check out my weekly music blog for the Elgin Courier!

Here's my fancy "about me."


NOTE: When I (Emily McFarlan) took over as your Readers' Reporter, lo those many years ago, and asked you, readers, what you were interested in reading, one of the very first responses I got was, "Did you know Elgin has an AWESOME music scene?" That launched a short-lived, semi-weekly Readers' Reporter column about local artists in The Courier-News' "Our" pages I had to drop after we made some changes to those pages. But this blog is supposed to be a place for those things we can't fit into the newspaper. And a place for conversation between readers and reporters.

Staff writer Katie Anderson has found a reader excited to write about the local music scene: Jason Duarte will be blogging Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines. Here's a little bit more about Jason...

Courier-News reporter (and close friend, former co-worker and classmate) Katie Anderson asked me to write a music blog for the Courier the other day. Immediately, I said OK. Actually, I think it was more along the lines of, "Yes! I've been longing for a writing outlet! Rad! Thank you!"

I had a weekly music blog at Eastern Illinois University's Daily Eastern News when I was the associate editor for The Verge, the DEN's weekly entertainment paper, from 2007 to 2008. I'd write about USB-equipped turntables, review albums and shows, interview musicians and write about not just music, but all things entertainment. After class and newspaper obligations, starting at 10 p.m., I worked with Katie at EIU's printing press throughout the week, developing the next day's newspaper. Around 2 a.m., I'd walk home with "news from the future," as I liked to convince my drunken college neighbors.

During my last semester at EIU, my Verge editor (now current Daily Herald reporter), Marco Santana and I, won third place in Illinois at the Illinois College Press Association for "Best Entertainment Supplement." We dug it, to say the least.

More on Jason's music cred, after the jump.

Two months after graduating in December 2008, I began freelancing for the Sun-Times News Group and began getting regularly published in the Naperville Sun. This was mostly hard news, something that was new for me, but I loved it. I jumped on every story I could but couldn't land a solid staff position, so I decided to follow another passion of mine in my free time and joined a pop/punk band in Bartlett, playing bass.

With them, I shared the stage with a lot of my favorite bands and played a lot of my favorite venues. I recorded with them, playing bass and doing few backup vocals on their second full-length album. We were signed to two record labels from Japan (both out of Hiroshima, which co-released both albums). In September, the labels booked us a six-show tour in Japan, so we flew out and played three districts in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Musashisakai and Akihabura), Hiroshima, Nagoya and Okayama with a lot of great Japanese bands. I learned a lot about Japan and the pop/punk subculture out there, which had a lot of differences and similarities to ours. I learned a lot about what they learned from the U.S., musically and how they are influenced by our culture and society. During that time, I also played bass in an instrumental surf/punk/rock band. I quit both bands in November.

By November, I decided I should get more serious about looking for a career.

In December, I decided to join another band called Rex Catapult. After a couple months of submitting applications and being fueled by resentment for my minimum-wage job, Country Sampler Group in St. Charles appointed me its catalog copy editor in February 2010 for both Country Sampler and Country Business Magazines. So I may be a working stiff most of the time, but in my free time, I book shows in Elgin and Chicago and play bass and sing backups Rex in Catapult.

So without meaning to sound real pretentious and long-winded, I accept the Courier's offer to blog weekly because music is what I am most passionate about and would love to incorporate it in my number two passion: writing.

I want to introduce you to new music, different music or even just peak your interest toward something new or foreign or something you may already even know, and ideally, I hope you teach me a thing or two. I want to incite discussion and conversation. Each week, I'll write about something different: shows in the Elgin area, reviews from shows that happened, shows that haven't happened yet, bands coming through, venues around town, album reviews, and I'll write about music-related topics, like how independent record labels are staying afloat, vinyl in the 21st century and topics of that nature.

-- Jason Duarte, Reader Reporter

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Twilight is a load of horse shit

Before about 2 a.m. this morning, I had never seen a Twilight movie for a bunch of reasons:

1. I'm not a 13-year-old girl.
2. The "vampires" allegedly "sparkle" in direct sunlight.
3. Anything that Hot Topic pushes in their stores is a dead giveaway that it chugs a whole bunch of cock.
4. I don't particularly care about movies.
5. I don't particularly care about really popular fad movies like this whole resurgence of the fascination with vampires thing.
6. I can smell bullshit from a mile away.

Anyways, I'm not going to say why I went to the midnight showing of Twilight (my girlfriend SORT OF made me go), but I need to release pressure from my chest by listing off all the things that are fucked up about that horrible flick.

Fucked up thing number 1: Everyone is emo. Everyone. And it's really fucking lame. They're all infatuated with themselves, are socially awkward, cannot seem to convey their thoughts and emotions whatsoever and come across as fucking MORONS. Kind of like real emo people. Kind of like not only my generation (the kids who grew up REAL heavy on TV and fucking video games), but the younger generations now who have absolutely NO handle on things and may not know were to draw the line on say, death or sex, etc. in their heads.

Fucked up thing number 2: The so-called "werewolves" just walk around shirtless throughout the whole movie.
"Oh, it's so they don't rip their shirts when they transform into werewolves, silly!"
I am one step ahead of you polesmokers: Why do they still have shorts and socks and shoes on when they go back to human from werewolf? Furthermore, the females had shirts on to begin with and they came back with shirts on. So I would assume if those 'roided up high school fucks put a goddamn shirt on, they'd come back with theirs too. Oh wait, I forgot, it's Hollywood and they have to sell sex to a bunch of pre-pubescent girls who get all moist at the sight of a shirtless slightly older adolescent male.

Fucked up thing number 3: Off that, what the hell? There's already multiple generations of females walking the planet who feel inadequate, insecure, lost, depressed, confused and isolated because of social "norms" implemented by TV, advertisements and bullshit movies like this one. You have a kid? Your daughter gets on this Twilight wagon, she's probably going to be giving it up at the first immature understanding of "love" that this stupid movie (backed by millions of real people) drilled (and thus, validated) into her brain because like Kristen Stewart, she won't feel complete without a man in her life. Well fuck that codependency bullshit, at least when you're young and innocent and stupid and don't know any better. Be a goddamn kid and don't worry about the things that you might be doing when you're older.

Fucked up thing number 4: The vampires sparkle? Are you fucking kidding me? What could have been a redeeming quality of this horrible piece of shit was another thing that made it to this retarded list. They could at least do something cool in the sunlight like oh, I dunno: catch on fire!? Melt!? But they sparkle. And what's with the beginning of the movie when the vampire dude and Kristen Stewart are sitting in the field staring at each other and going back and forth about their bullshit insecurities? That shit was straight outta Star Wars: Episode III. That mime-looking son of a bitch (and the whole scene in general) set off my "I FUCKING HATE ANAKIN SKYWALKER" alarm. The only thing is, this Edward asshole had absolutely no chance of ever being a bad ass like Anakin did, so it wasn't as tragic. It was just sad. It was one self-pitying situation after another. Boo fuckin' hoo. I wish you weren't a vampire so you'd die.

Fucked up thing number 5: Kristen Stewart should not be innocent or exempt or made to look faultless by the author. If that was real life, and she allegedly loved that one dude, she wouldn't go making out with the other dude in front of him. There's a term for chicks like that. What is it? A slut, defined by my friend Merriam-Webster as "a promiscuous woman." Kristen Stewart, you're a liar and a slut. And you're pretty fuckin' dumb and boring to boot. Why you have two guys all bat shit about you is beyond me. But when you look at how retarded and afraid of confrontation and communication they are as well, I guess it makes sense. Fuck you, Kristen Stewart.

Fucked up thing number 6: These two dudes who allegedly have gigantic boners (though I saw no evidence of masculinity throughout the entire movie) for Kristen Stewart end up BUDDYING IT OUT in a fucking tent on the top of Mt. Everest or some shit. WHAT THE FUCK?! They are trying to bag the same chick!! She is right there!!! In fact, she is cuddling with one of the guys and the other guy is just sitting in the tent WATCHING THEM all SAD. It would have been the PERFECT opportunity for either one of those cocks to transform into whatever creature they could be and tear the other one apart. Vulnerability. Knowing your enemy. It's fucking key!!! Had that shirtless whiny asshole transformed into a werewolf in that tent, he could have killed the vampire dude when he was professing his thinly-disguised homoerotic love for him, thus causing there to be ONE guy for Kristen Stewart to make out with instead of two. Simple solution. There's a cancer - you get rid of it. Fucking weak. Another potentially redeeming scene shot to shit. You're both a disgrace. I was waiting for them to start cuddling. Maybe the shirtless werewolf guy could have made the cold vampire guy "feel" something warm. I bet. Then Kristen Stewart can go and be a housewife like she wants to be, deep down inside with someone who will at least HONESTLY treat her like the doormat she's played out to be.

Fucked up thing number 7: Now that I think of it, I didn't see one eclipse throughout the entire movie. What the fuck!

Fucked up thing number 8: I got three hours of sleep last night, woke up late for work, got really really upset with myself, which made me get abnormally emotional about one of my favorite bands breaking up and I'm fucking exhausted. I hate you, Twilight.

Fucked up thing number 9: I actually wasted time out of my life to compile a list of how much I hated that goddamn movie. I need a real thing, like lunch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Old Wives - "See You In Hell" review:

Rating: 4/5

25 minutes is about the length of your standard TV show. It's not a lot of time, but it's just enough to tell a good story. If a record could be the analogy to that, this one is. 25 minutes is just enough time for a great pop punk album. Alberta, Canada's Old Wives utilized that amount of time for its debut album, "See You In Hell" earlier this year. The band previously self-released a 7'' featuring "Shut Up" (which appears on the album) and b-side, "Losing All Control."

At the album's start, you're immersed up to your eyeballs in a very Queers-style fast, oddly-timed intro where everything sounds like it's already been going for about 10 seconds. After 10 seconds of rocking, lead singer/guitarist Liam Copeland starts "I Don't Wanna Be Lazy," a very Ramones-influenced tune with a little more pop thrown in there and a catchy little solo. The fourth track, "Teen Commandments," was featured on a soundtrack to a movie. I should know what movie. But I don't. And I can't find it online. Liam will tell me later.
"Old & Moldy" rests in the middle of the album and features a sweet guitar solo by Phillip Hill of the Teen Idols, who also recorded this album at Sonic Iguana Studios in Lafayette, IN. Copeland's vocals emulate Ben Weasel's in the sense that they're gritty, snotty and a little bit preachy at times but the album is a straight-up good time. The songs are pure rock n' roll, with none exceeding 3 minutes and they're all upbeat and fast, with no breaks in the album.

Check out the Old Wives at this year's Insubordination Fest in Baltimore, MD on June 2. They'll be playing the second "Canada" stage from 6 to 6:20 p.m.

TOP TRACK: "Bullshit"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you for your donation! We really appreciate it and will continue to work hard reviewing, interviewing and breaking music news to you about all the bands you love. Thanks again!

Squid Pro Quo

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Han Shot First: A College Essay

I was just going through old college essays and came across one I was and still am particularly fond of. This was one in a series of essays you had to read out loud for this class. I got an A or a B and a bunch of confused looks on this one. Enjoy.

Jason Duarte
ENG 3001

Straight up, a few of you had to have seen the remade Star Wars trilogy that was released in 1997. Or as I like to call them, the children that George Lucas raised and unknowingly molested.

First off, the inserted CGI technology was unnecessary and pretty pointless, if you ask me. Most notably among the remakes, I would like to address a scene in Episode IV, where Greedo, a bounty hunter, tracks Han Solo at a bar, with intentions of killing him.

Now, the story behind this incident is, Han Solo and his companion, Chewbacca, were on their way to drop off a shipment (an illicit narcotic, called “spice”) to Jabba the Hutt, but ditched it when the millennium falcon was boarded and searched by Imperial troops. Greedo travels to the spaceport of Mos Eisley on Tattooine (Luke Skywalker’s home planet) in search of Han Solo, so he can capture him and bring him to Jabba for a lot of reward money. This is the spot where Han and Chewy are currently hiding, looking to gather passengers to enter the depths of the empire. Having said he simply lost the shipment made no difference to Jabba, putting Han in a pretty sticky situation, and that is why there’s a bounty out for Han and Chewy. And as Han and Chewy are doing business with Obi Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker on Tattooine, Greedo forth goes to claim his bounty.

There, now that the setting is in place, Greedo finds Han in a bar on Tattooine. As Solo gets up to leave the bar, Greedo runs into him, with his blaster point blank at Solo's chest. “Going somewhere, Solo?” Greedo asks. “Why yes, Greedo, I was just going to see your boss (Jabba),” replies Solo. Greedo forces Han to sit at a table, while Han is basically trying to cover himself by telling Greedo that he has Jabba’s money and that he was just on his way to give it to him. Greedo replies, “It’s too late. You should’ve paid him while you had the chance.” He then tells Solo that there is such a large price on Han’s head that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be after him.

So now, to put Solo in an even more uncomfortable situation, he tells Solo how lucky he is that he found him first. Solo replies, “Yeah, well this time, I’ve got the money,” again, trying to get out of basically being killed. Greedo tries to swindle it out of Han, telling him that if he gives Jabba’s money to Greedo, Greedo will forget he ever ran into him. So, nervous, Han tells him that he doesn’t have it with him, and begins to reach for his blaster, as things are getting pretty heated at this point. Greedo is getting pissed off, blaster still pointed at Solo’s chest, and replies, “Jabba’s through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sight of an Imperial cruiser.” So, Han tells him that he didn’t have a choice, that he was searched, where Greedo replies, “Tell it to Jabba. He may only take your ship,” referring to that over his life. So of course, Han gets defensive and says, “Over my dead body.” Greedo tells him he’s been looking forward to it for a long time.

Now, at this precise moment, is what I want to look at. In the original 1977 version of Episode IV, Han, with his hand on his blaster under the table, straight up shoots Greedo right there on the spot, killing him. Then, with no remorse, gets up and smoothly tips the bartender, apologizing for “the mess” on his way out. Now, Han Solo has amazing survival skills. He doesn't look for trouble, but it’s his deciding of what’s right and what is wrong in life or death situations that only further him on the downward spiral. His decisions are basic acts of human survival. Greedo’s new to the bounty hunting game, overly eager to get his reward money, and it’s his lack of carefulness that brings him to his eventual fate. So, fast forward 20 years to 1997, where we have our first remake of the Star Wars trilogy. Before that Episode 1-3 bullshit, which is a 10-page paper in itself. As Lucas was toying around with his stupid CGI effects in the movie, he changed this scene, as he thought it was too “cold-blooded” of Han to shoot Greedo in, well, cold blood and changed it for “kids.” Han was a good guy, and good guys don’t shoot first, according to Lucas. So in the new scene, Greedo shoots first, TWO FEET AWAY FROM HAN, and misses him, hitting the wall. Han, hand still on his blaster, then shoots Greedo in “self defense,” and the scene continues as normal with him walking out.

This is quite possibly the dumbest idea George Lucas has ever come up with next to making Episodes 1-3. Shooting Greedo before Greedo shot him doesn’t make Han cold, it makes him cool. Han Solo is a bad ass, and the pussification of his character hurts the movie, Han’s character and my ability to think logically, because in the end, HAN STILL KILLS GREEDO. Okay. To give Lucas some credit, fine. Children shouldn’t be exposed to such brutality, because maybe they’ll be lead astray when they see a good guy killing someone without any bullets flying at them first. Or as Episode IV would have it, lasers. But what’s ridiculous about changing this scene is that fact that even after pretending he cares about children, he goes and shoots a scene in Episode III where Anakin Skywalker decapitates Count Dooku with two lightsabers because the evil Senator Palpatine told him to. Now, if you ask me, decapitation is more graphic and wrong to a child’s eyes than Han shooting a bad guy before the bad guy shoots him. I was only 11 when I saw the remakes in theaters, but had already grown up on the trilogy. So this was before I fully understood the why aspect of Lucas’ changing the scenes. But at this time, fans were up in arms about this, upset about the scene change, and so to butter up an attempt to make it up to his fans, Lucas occasionally wears a t-shirt that reads, “Han Shot First.” It’s an awesome t-shirt, but it’s a lame attempt at making up for something you completely ruined.

But, the die hard fans got what they wanted before the blasphemy took place. In 1995, the original trilogy was re-released THX re-mastered and adapted from laserdisc. The whole “Greedo shooting first” thing was ridiculous and a huge mistake, made by Lucas. In what he claims was an attempt to make Han’s character better and more sensitive was the worst mistake in cinematography next to casting Paris Hilton as an actress. Actually, no, scratch that. Fans of hers actually want to see her on the big screen. The whole thing was just dumb. Even a storm trooper could have hit Han from the distance Greedo was sitting from him. Jesus Christ, even the editing was bad in that scene. When Greedo fires his shot at Han, Han’s head literally is cropped off and jerks to his right, and then reattaches to his body. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, and is only for a split second, but it is pretty bad. Lucas clearly gave this no time, thought or effort. So that being said and off my chest, great movies like the Star Wars trilogy should be controlled by the fans, because it is their hearts in which this masterpiece of a movie lays, not Lucas’. Let’s just put it this way, if someone came and edited the Bible, making Jesus a bad guy, or changing who killed him, wouldn’t you be pissed too?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Structure and Dysfunction

I figured something out this morning as I was driving to work watching a cop pull someone over. Peace is ultimately unreachable, at least in society. I've always wondered why the cops in my town are jerks but then I thought, maybe we are such good law-abiding citizens that they need to be jerks in order to get revenue (ex: putting up red light cameras, standing on ladders behind structures with binoculars and radioing to your cop friends that so and so isn't wearing a seat belt, etc...)

There's really not that much crime in my town or anything and it's mostly pretty quiet. Anyways, on the greater scale, I was thinking about the whole achieving peace in society ideal and came to the conclusion that even if we as people finally reach that point where a lot more things are self-sufficient and harmonized, the cops would just screw it all up and find unnecessary means to get money by pulling people over, making more things illegal, putting cameras in front of your house, etc...We all know state funding is down so they probably aren't getting much money (or as much as they'd like) that way. Communism looks really good on paper but isn't there a system is applicable and works? If people were more compassionate and less malicious and self-serving (fault of capitalism?), I think it would be a start. What an unrealistic world we live in with an unrealistic standard of living. Is it that hard to just be kind instead of greedy? Materialism is poisonous anyway (says the pack rat/collector nerd). One of these days, I'd like to just let everything go. What a relief that would be. One of these days. You know, when you die, you don't take anything with you. No possessions would be kinda nice though. No anchors. Boredom, maybe. But no anchors. I need to get to work.

All that importance is simply plastic and metal pieces.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Beat Army Wants...YOU!

The brainchild of Mr. Paul Collins (The Nerves/The Beat/Paul Collins Beat, etc...) and I has finally gone live. The Beat Army is growing at a wild rate and I don't think it can be stopped!
What's The Beat Army?

The purpose of The Beat Army is to establish a network of people connected by their love of power pop, punk pop, new wave and rock 'n' roll to help ensure its success at the club level, where rock 'n' roll lives and breathes.

Straight from Paul Collins:

Hello, friends and fans of power pop, classic pop punk, and rock ‘n’ roll! After playing power pop for more than three decades, I feel I have earned the right to ask you to help me and other musicians like me to keep this form of music alive and well.

Therefore, I am taking matters into my own hands and forming THE BEAT ARMY.

When I began playing power pop at age 17, people were telling me rock ‘n’ roll was dead! Three decades later, rock ‘n’ roll is still alive and well. I have witnessed the hysteria over home taping, the advent of the CD, the evolution of quadraphonic to surround sound, sales milestones raised from platinum to triple platinum to quadruple platinum, but nothing’s had more impact than the Internet and all it has meant to our modern life.

Things change and things stay the same, it’s still a thrill to kiss a girl and it’s still damn hard to write a good pop song.

I am committed to continue playing my music for as long as I can. Since there are other like-minded musicians I can perform with like Gentlemen Jesse and his Men out of Atlanta, The Leftovers out of Portland, Deborah Iyall from Romeo Void, John Wicks from The Records and Penelope Houston from The Avengers, as well as new groups that are only just starting out, I see no reason why this can’t happen.

What we need is a network of people who will come out and support our shows and make sure that their friends will come too. This can be achieved easier now more than ever, thanks to the Internet.

With your active support, ticket prices can be lowered while allowing bands to make enough money to continue touring and keep making records, therein preserving this music that we all love - power pop! Furthermore, this gives us a chance to introduce our sounds to new generations of music-lovers who might form their own bands, thereby continuing the power pop tradition for decades to come.

If you share my feelings about this music and want it to endure, then join me and help build THE BEAT ARMY!

Keep on rocking in 2010!

Beat Commander Collins!

If you play in a band and are interested in joining the network, check this out:


Greetings, Power Poppers! I have an offer to propose that I know will work because I have already done it!

Here’s the deal: I need you and your band to help me with my next tour. In return, you’ll benefit from the proceeds, have a great time and become part of a network of power pop/rock ‘n’ roll bands working to help each other and keep the spirit of power pop alive.

You can make this happen by booking shows for us in your area at the cool clubs where you have already played so we can get decent terms and make handshake deals. No fuss - no muss - no agents - no managers.

Furthermore, my guitarist Eric Blakely and I will need a rhythm section. By partnering with your band, we would stay with you for a couple of days to rehearse with your bass player and drummer, who will complete the Paul Collins Beat for the shows you book for us. We are also asking to use two of your amps.

So what’s your return on investment? After taking all the expenses off the top - our airfare (Eric works for United Airlines, so we get a break on that), gas, food, etc... - we split the rest evenly.

My merch is mine and your merch is yours.

We have done this before and everyone has come out with money. More importantly, everyone has a good time. We have played in front of many enthusiastic crowds, who make it all worthwhile!

Now I’m recruiting bands who I can say are in so that THE BEAT ARMY has its core group of musicians for building our power pop/rock ‘n’ roll network. If you like the idea or have questions please send me an email with THE BEAT ARMY in the subject and include this info:

Your name:
Your band’s name:
The number of musicians in your band:
A few of the clubs you play in your area:
Gear you can share:
Transportation options:

Anyone like myself interested in networking and spreading the word, check this out:


Hello, everybody. Beat Commander Collins here. I have called all of you together to help spread the sounds of power pop, vintage pop punk, new wave, and rock ‘n’ roll.

As one of power pop's founding members with The Nerves and The Beat, I am doing all I can to keep this music alive. I recently did a Midwest/East Coast tour with Atlanta’s Gentlemen Jesse and His Men. We played 13 nights and had sellout shows in major markets, ending with a fantastic show at Maxwell's in Hoboken. How did we do this? By getting the word out through the Internet.

Now I'm going one step beyond, setting up an online BEAT ARMY to help propagate power pop music.

On March 28th, I will begin recording a new album with Jim Diamond at his Detroit Ghetto Records studio for Alive/Bomp! Records. Next is a club tour that will bring us to every nook and cranny in this country. Musicians from all over the USA have joined forces with us to make this one of the best tours ever. The thrill I get from connecting with these musicians and you fans is fantastic. It gives me a renewed faith in rock ‘n’ roll!

JOIN US! Help us spread the word. Make each show an event. Bring your friends and family and your cats and dogs. Help us create a party to celebrate this wonderful world of POWER POP!

How can you help? Join THE BEAT ARMY. Sign up by e-mailing us the following info with BEAT ARMY in the subject to paulcollinsband@gmail.com. Include:

Your name:
Your location:
Skills you can offer:
Names of your favorite bands/performers:
Your favorite clubs:

Also, check us out on Facebook!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Alkaline Trio set list (2.28.2010) @ Metro Chicago, IL

Photos taken by Andy Keil:

It's always a pleasure to see Alkaline Trio rock the Metro. Never does my voice get more exhausted.
"I wonder what the set list was," you think to yourself, as you're sitting at your computer?

Set list:
This Addiction
Dine, Dine My Darling (Matt Skiba's favorite track off the new album)
We've Had Enough
Mr. Chainsaw
Dead On the Floor
Fatally Yours
Crawl (Which then turned into "Paul," by the Smoking Popes at the end)
Stupid Kid
Snake Oil Tanker
Blue Carolina
Private Eye
100 Stories
My Friend Peter
Attitude (By The Misfits, duh!)
San Fransisco

I had to change my jeans after I got home cause they were saturated in protein.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Q&A with Ryan Young of OFF WITH THEIR HEADS

While Ryan was in the studio recording Off With Their Heads' next record, he took some time to chat with me about the new record coming out on Epitaph Records as well as a bunch of random shit.

Squid Pro Quo: I listened to "Listerine" today (via www.myspace.com/ryanyoungowth). I dig that. That's going to be an OWTH tune?

Ryan Young: Yeah. In the studio now.

SPQ: Now that you guys are on a bigger label, how's the sound? Kinda keeping that momentum with "From The Bottom"?

Ryan: It will be a little better than that. We have two weeks in a crazy good studio as opposed to three days in a shithole, so we have time to make it rule.

SPQ: About how many songs are you guys lookin' at having on there?

Ryan: We are recording 15, but I dont think they will all go on there.

SPQ: Cool man. Do you guys have a name for the album yet?

Ryan: Not yet. We usually take the album name off some lyrics from the last song. Haven't gotten that far yet.

SPQ: Oh, neat. Where are you guys recording it?

Ryan: We are recording at The Terrarium. Dillinger 4 and Banner Pilot did records here.

SPQ: That last Banner Pilot album sounds phenomenal. Especially compared to Resignation Day.

Ryan: Yeah it does. This one will be even better because those dudes are mastering it at some crazy expensive place.

SPQ: Shit yeah. So what next? Awesome tours? I know you guys toured with Against Me! semi-recently. More stuff like that?

Ryan: Nothing much planned yet. Just that couple months touring starting in February.

SPQ: Headlining that, right?

Ryan: Except for the dates with The Queers.

SPQ: Oh, no way. Are you guys coming through Chicago with The Queers?

Ryan: Nope. Its mostly canada

SPQ: Word. So how did this thing with Epitaph end up? Did they just randomly discover you or how did that work?

Ryan: Brett (Gurewitz) called me last year and said he was a fan. We chatted for a while, went and had pizza at his house when we were on tour, visited the office and he basically gave us a really good offer that we would have been dumb to turn down, especially with the decline of record sales.

SPQ: Awesome. So how come it's not "official" yet. Just needs to be announced kinda thing?

Ryan: Yeah, they wait for the right time or something.

SPQ: So here's a cliche question for ya: where do you guys get influence from? Most songs seem like just personal events/situations. Still doing that?

Ryan: Yeah. It's all the same.

SPQ: So what's the lineup for the recording? And will it stay the same for the touring?

Ryan: It's Justin, Zack, Nate (Gangelhoff) and I and no, it changes for touring.

SPQ: With so much time on the road, how do you find the time to write?

Ryan: I write about as much as I did before we toured all the time. It either comes to me or it doesn't and when it does, it happens fast.

SPQ: Just those random cosmic waves of inspiration, eh?

Ryan: I guess so. Probably just the weed though.

SPQ: I had to take a hair test for my job now. It's retarded how some employers are.

Ryan: I think I would be unqualified to work any kind of job. I'd ruin the drug test lab.

SPQ: What's been your biggest obstacle over the years?

Ryan: Probably coming to terms with the fact that this is just what I do and I'm not really good at anything else. I always kinda wonder what I would be doing if it weren't this, and it's always something much less meaningful or completely worthless. At least I'm doing something that most people won't get a chance to.

SPQ: Realistically, what do you think you'd be doing if it weren't for playing music? Or even not-so-realistically. Hell, what did you want to be when you were a kid?

Ryan: I've always wanted to do this, so I guess I win. It isn't nearly as glamorous as it might seem, especially with the record sales being way down. If we were doing this 10 years ago, I would probably be pretty well-off. If I weren't doing this, I'd be painting houses.

SPQ: Probably better money in painting houses, haha. But also probably not as gratifying since you've always wanted to play music. Gotta live your heart. That's good! Man, playing music 10 years ago would be cool. Just when the illegal downloading of music was in its infant stages...

Ryan: Yeah. I would actually make more money delivering pizzas two days a month than being in this band. We have been touring for six years. I didn't start getting paid anything until last year.

SPQ: So all the show money just went to food and gas?

Ryan: Yeah, and that didn't cover it. We are still out years of paying for all that stuff. Even with From The Bottom selling around 10,000 (copies).

SPQ: So you've really gotta "make it" in order to actually MAKE anything these days.

Ryan: Pretty much

SPQ: Well, hopefully with Epitaph, you guys take off. I know they push the hell out of their catalog with street teams and a wider distro and all that.

Ryan: Yeah, we'll see. I'm not sure if the masses are ready for this kind of music. Especially the masses that Epitaph deals with. It's clearly different than that other silly stuff they put out over the last while.

SPQ: Not the ol' California Warped Tour garbage, eh? That's comforting. Well, hey man. Maybe it'll be a tide of change and you guys will pioneer it.

Ryan: That's what I'm hoping for.

SPQ: Aside from Epitaph, what's been the best part of fronting OWTH over the years?

Ryan: I'd say getting to meet all of my "idols". That's pretty awesome.

SPQ: Best show ever?

Ryan: The Fest shows the last couple years were rad.

SPQ: I saw the video of you and Paddy where you burned the money, haha. That shit was hilarious.

Ryan: We are dumb together

SPQ: Hahaha. Committing crimes on camera. Tsk tsk. Do you have any pet peeves? Or anything while touring that you don't like?

Ryan: TONS of shit. You just get overly sensitive about little things when you spend too much time with anyone. Once you realize that, you see that it's not a big deal.

SPQ: Kind of like any relationship, I guess?

Ryan: Totally

SPQ: Speaking of, you guys have women? How does that work with you all being so busy on the road? Is it just different chicks every night? Banging in all 50 states-style?

Ryan: Hahaha. I have a girlfriend. Same one for over the last year and a half.
It's fine. I don't really like hooking up with random girls. They usually suck.

SPQ: That's the best part! I guess only when it's with their mouths. What are some of your favorite bands "today"?

Ryan: I don't really like much current music. I like gangsta rap because it's funny. I like pop music for the same reasons. Lady Gaga rules.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Fizzy Pops - "The Fizzy Pops" review:

Finally - some good pop punk by teenagers and not 35-year olds! The Fizzy Pops, from the western 'burbs of Chicago, released its debut, self-titled album in December 2009 on Throw Up Records.
The trio alternates vocal duty between bassist Luke Ostojic and guitarist Caitlin Ferraro. Their tunes channel influences from early Green Day, Screeching Weasel and The Queers. It's especially noticeable when Caitlin busts out the catchy, poppy solos leading songs like "Friday The 13th" and "My Boss Is a Weirdo." Unlike a lot of pop punk bands, the bass player doesn't follow every note the guitarist does, which is refreshing. The two instruments play well off each other, almost giving some of the tracks a hint of ska influence. A confrontational tune, "Weasel," is led by Cait (which may or may not be about Ben Weasel). Not sure. Then some tunes, like "Loose Screws," almost seems to pull more of a Vindictives influence than anything else, combining a fast beat and snotty and somewhat non-traditional, "unpretty" pop punk vocals. I recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of any of the aforementioned bands. And The Muffs, cause sometimes Cait's vocals remind me of Kim Shattuck's. Also, these dudes (and dudette) are fun to see live - very full of energy!


TOP TRACK: "Friday The 13th"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Roman Line - "Morning Portraits" review:

Toronto's The Roman Line were a band featured on the Merman Records' 4-way Sea Creatures split .
"Morning Portraits" has a very consistent feel and not much dynamic outside of its punk/alt/country influences. The band's MySpace page says they are influenced by Screeching Weasel, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Queers, Tom Waits, The Misfits and others. It's an interesting mix. The result of all those influences is a lot of gang vocals and a pretty straight-forward rock and roll band. Their influences show through a lot. For example, "Worst Case Ontario" is a real electrified country lick. It's got all the standards - modesty, references to nature, nostalgia and alcohol.
"Talbot & Inkerman" is more on the Tom Waits side of the proverbial tracks. It's a piano-led song with hand claps as the main percussion. Gang vocals for the chorus on top of it all makes it sound like somewhat of a drinking song. But it's only 1:26, the shortest song on the album (unless you count the intro, which isn't a song). The piano pokes its head out here and there throughout the album.
I got a real Social Distortion-type feel from this. The band's lead singer almost seems to emulate Mike Ness's voice.
"No Vacancy" is a song that kind of hates on their hometown of Toronto. In the end, he laughs and says, "I'm just playing Toronto, you know I love you." I don't really get it, as I've never been to Toronto. But apparently there are a lot of hipsters there. Man, if this band comes to Chicago, hopefully they get a gig in Logan Square or Wicker Park. Hipster-hating song part two will be written. All in all, I kinda dug this album. There's a lot going on and it's pretty original for still somehow managing to fit into the pop-punk scene.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

TOP TRACK: "Dawn After the Wreck" (Merman Records/2010)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pre-Order "This Addiction" by Alkaline Trio

I know this one's gonna make it to my "Top 10 of 2010" list in about 11 months.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Berndsen - "Lover In The Dark" review:

I've never really strayed from the "punk" genres when it comes to interviews and certainly not reviews. But I'm going to make an exception here and it's all because of my best friend showing me a "fucked up music video." The song is called "Supertime" and the artist - David Berndsen from Iceland.
The video was this dude with a red beard and a suit dancing on an upside-down car with his friends pulling the injured and dying passengers out and dancing with them. It was very funny in a real dark way. The combination of the awesome video I had just witnessed and that catchy song I just heard made me want more instantly. About a week later, I found a video for the title track of his debut album, "Lover In The Dark." I was amazed. Sold. Fast forward to about New Years Eve and I get the album.
"Lover In The Dark," made up of 11 tracks and totaling 36:23, starts off with an instrumental electronic intro building up to the title track from the video, "Lover In The Dark."
It feels like you're inside of a game of Tetris backed with dance-y electro-pop. Which rules. In the video, Berndsen's mission is to spread love with a ray gun of sorts. He sees people punching each other, zaps them, and voila! They hug and his heart meter goes up. The message: You're just a lover hiding in the dark.
After that is "Supertime," from his other music video with the bloody car wreck passengers and the dancing. It's definitely the catchiest tune of the album. It's a love song. And there's an amazing breakdown in the song with a bitchin' guitar solo. I love that solo.
The rest of the nine tracks unfortunately are not renditioned with YouTube videos, but in my opinion, they are better than the first two. "Young Boy" is a song about, well, a young boy with too much love to give.
"Radio Frequencies" slows it down a little but has a real strong beat keeping the flow of the album going. I think if it was played in a club, it would be a fist-pumping dance song. For almost five minutes, this track keeps the beat going. Then "Coma." A 0:54-long ambient, sort of slow, spacey instrumental intermission to the album. It picks up real fast with "In Sight." It's a real '80s-feeling tune. Very synth-y. Very poppy.
Then an interesting kind of space-age song called "The Perfect Human" starts up. It's almost reminiscent of "2001: A Space Odyssey," if its soundtrack had turned DANCE! Then it gets danc-y AND robotic. Sure to please your motherboard and your processor.
Then my favorite track is up; "400 Trips." It's another '80s-dance-pop-sounding" tune. But the electronic instrumentals in this song are incredibly catchy and good. It doesn't come in until about 1:15 into the song. But once it does...HOT DAMN! The album then gets a little darker (go figure) with "Dark Times." The sound effects sound like they're straight out of a horror movie. Perhaps one involving a house that is built on a haunted hill. It actually sounds like the level in Mario where you have to evade the ghosts.
The final track on the album is called "On My Mind." It is a great closer. The tune's about Berndsen being alone, still thinking about a certain someone. Kind of sad. Kind of lonely. But it follows the pattern of love, only adding a little loss to the mix. The album then fades to silence.
I recommended "Lover In The Dark" to anyone who is open to something new. Or if you like bands like The Postal Service and The Faint. But beyond all that genre-specific crap are 9 great pop songs that have earned a spot in my heart. It's as if I've been zapped by Berndsen's ray gun...

Rating: 5/5 stars

"Supertime" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysPcyOvNJew

"Lover In The Dark" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAhF9_iB2qs