Saturday, December 27, 2008

HSW, hey how bout it?







We here at HSW don't hesitate to pat our backs every now and again. Hey, if we don't, chances are they'll go unpatted. And an back unpatted is like a song unsung, a bike unpedalled, a flower unsniffed, yada yada yada. What I'm trying to say is this marks the year's 50th post. 50! That's over double last year's total. At this rate of increase, we should have several trillion posts in the next two decades or so.

So thanks to those of you who stop in to read and the other posters here. If anyone's been saving that bottle of Korbel, what better excuse to pop that cork? Consult Thomas for proper cork-popping technique.

Did you have a Twisted Christmas?

Per my brother's recommendation, I Youtubed this incredible video, which may be the single best clip on youtube:

That's right, Dee Snider and the rest of the Sisters performing one of the most bizarre renditions of any song, ever. I can't tell what's more palpable, the perfect ten it scores for unintentional hilarity or the undeniable feeling of unease that will surely overtake anyone watching. I'm not sure what's best: The self-referential "We're Not Gonna Take It" solo, the employment of the 'uptight chick with a gigantic rack gets terrorized by a hair metal band and ostensibly becomes horny' archetype, or just fucking Dee Snider growling "Chriiii-iiiist the Lord!" with that patented sneer slathered across his jaws.

I get the feeling that Dee Snider thinks that every idea he dreams up is an absolute gem. If you've ever seen him interviewed, you know he's extremely intense and emotive. Confidence is hardly an issue for Dee. So I'm sure he pitched this idea to his agent as a sure-fire hit. I'm guessing the scene went something like this:


(Interior of Venice Beach, FL home...daytime. Bespectacled agent sits at kitchen table in relative quiet, sipping coffee and reading through a New York Times. The silence is disturbed by the growing whine of motorcycle engine. Tires screetch, a trash can crashes and rolls away. Engine cuts off. Door bursts open)

Dee Snider: KEVIN! Kevin. I've got it. You're gonna wanna drop that rag man. I got the goods for you, my friend. THE GOODS!

Kevin: Dee, you know I don't like you come to my home unexpectedly. We talked about this.

DS: This can not wait, baby. It is absolutely the best thing to happen to this fucking band since "Take It". The most revolutionary Sister scheme I've hatched since the "Leader of the Pack" cover. You ready for this man? You ready? Cuz if you ain't ready, this could fuck, your, mind. Permanently. I'm talkin' brain damage, muchacho!

Kevin: (rubbing temples) Let's hear it.

DS: (hops up on table) Twisted Sister...doing..."Oh Come Let Us Adore Him".

Kevin: ... Are...are you kidding?

DS: Kev, I've never been so serious about anything in my life. And I mean that. I say that a lot, but this time, I'm as serious as fucking cancer. This is a can't miss, Kev. A can't fucking miss!

Kevin: And just so we're're serious?

DS: Brother, if I wasn't serious would I have e-mailed the entire band with the lyrics and a chord diagram from Would I have booked us three days of studio time? Would I have put a casting call for 'White Brunette with Giant Cans' on Craigslist?

Kevin: You've done all this...

DS: You bet your sweet ass I did, Kevin. Dee Snider doesn't half-ass anything. See, it came to me right after I station ID'ed during House of Hair. Just like BAM, like WAMMO. There it was. So I called Steven Pearcy and Vince Neil, bounced it off them, you know what they said Keverino?

Kevin: Steven Pearcy? From Ratt?

DS: They said "Dee, you are just 'bout the craziest mo-fo on the planet." And in the world we live in, baby, you better believe that's how you say "Full speed ahead."

Kevin: I...well--

DS: You make it happen with the label, meanwhile the Sisters will be getting this thing on tape. Santa's comin' early amigo. Adeste Fideles, baby!

(hops on bike and speeds off, laughing maniacally)


Alas, this wasn't just a whim for Mr. Snider. See below for a live (and equally awkward/bewildering) performance of Silver Bells, made even awkward/bewildering-er by the extended bass solo towards the end.

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Musical Look-a-likes...

Bob Crawford, bass-plucker and non-Avett brother of "The Avett Brothers", bears a striking resemblance to mega star George Clooney, to whom I've proposed a partnership (or, more accurately, am proposing now) in an effort to maintain the cool-factor of the name George. Proposed slogan: "George: Not just for grandfathers anymore."

Key comparitive features:
Pronounced chin, thick eyebrows, five o'clock shadows

Tune in again next time for More Musical Lookalikes!

Brief Hiatus and what's coming up...

Christmas greetings! Here's to hoping Santa left you a nice haul this year. Just a heads up: I'll be moving apartments in the next few days, and may be with out an interweb connection for a while. 'Why not update at work?' you ask. While that's normally a viable option, I am absolutely SLAMMED at the office these days and don't really anticipate a free hour here or there to whip up a post of any great substance.

So, if the blog is dormant (on my end, anyway) for a little stretch, fear not! It'll be back. Look for a 'top songs' list, a 'worst of 08' list, a few more Cover Stories, and my fourth and final Summer in Live Music write-up...punctuality was never my strong suit. Here are parts 1, 2, and 3. And, of course, more.

Also, feel free to e-mail us at with any thoughts, opinions, requests, offers, etc.

Have a happy and safe new year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

HSW O' the Year Awards: Top 10 Albums

To set one thing straight from the get-go, this is not particularly reflective of any HSW writer besides myself. I encourage my HSW brethren to post their own lists; but for now, here's a year-end to end all year-ends.

Top 10 Albums of the Year
With accompanying limerick:

#10: The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

While each album may rehash
a Minneanapolis bash,
They rock like Thin Lizzy
And their barber keeps busy
with Nicolay Franz's stache

#9: My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

Some might say it was racket
composed by My Morning Jacket
but Highly Suspicious
To me's quite delicious
I see no need to attack it

#8: Blitzen Trapper - Furr

If ever Davy Crockett,
felt the need to rock it,
He'd open the wrapper
and put on some Trapper
As long as the traders would stock it

#7: Bonnie Prince Billy - Lie Down in the Light

If I ever play poker with Oldham
Chances are I'd just fold 'em
His music's perfection
This one's no exception
I surely feel no need to scold him

#6: Vampire Weekend - S/T

Tis no immaculate must-own
I hate this excuse but it's just fun,
Here's to their success,
If they break up don't fret,
They'll nicely cash in on their trust funds

#5: TV On The Radio - Dear Science

A band that simply can not miss,
Topping all best-of lists
I must admit it,
Their effort's requited:
A student I am of Dear Science

#4: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

What's there to do in Wisconsin
'sides staying at home to drink Bronson?
Turn iTunes on
and listen to Bon
And try not to freeze off your Johnson

#3: Conor Oberst - s/t

An effort thematically rich,
A beautiful disc about which
I'm pleasantly surprised
and now I've surmised
that Conor's much less of a bitch

#2: Sun Kil Moon - April

Kozelek, a god of emotion,
(forgive that blasphemous notion)
before April's release, I was
full-boned for weeks,
And, yes, it was musical lotion

#1: Fleet Foxes - s/t

As soon as I tore off the plastic,
I heard a thing so fantastic,
I took to the streets
Yelled "Go buy the Fleets!
The Foxes have made a true classic"

Mentions That Are Honorable:

Brendan Canning - BSS Presents

Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark

MGMT - Oracular Spectular

The Walkmen - You & Me

Beck - Modern Guilt

Stay tuned for top songs and some other stuff!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cover Stories: What they're telling us through cover art

Releases: Many of them are upcoming. And here at HSW, we are visually minded folks (all proud passers of the Journalism 364 - Intro to Graphics course at UofSoCar.) So please allow for some visual analysis of some upcoming releases. This will be an ongoing feature. Hooray features!

Morrissey - Years of Refusal

Morrissey: Right, don't let the necklace I bought at a Sheboygan flea market fool you, I'm still the same emotive and ambiguously sexual shoegazer that fronted the SM...the SM....the, that band I was once in and will NEVER reunite, unless I do--which I won't. So do like me: Grab a handfulla baby crotch, style your hair like a gob of Colgate (I can never get it on my brush like they do in the commercial!) and make with the melancholy.

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Neko: The paparazzi-fueled fad of car-exit 'gine-shots set me thinking: The Lilos and the Brits of the world garner unfathomable amounts of attention, and for what? Their art? Psh. Cars and skin, that's what the boys want. Never mind my immaculate vocals and penchant for clever song structure. So I say why not throw on a tiny black number and hop on the hood of a muscle car? The only thing missing was the money shot, and rest assured, Neko Case doesn't stoop to that level. If Neko's showing skin, it's got to be a classy affair. So I figure, what's the one thing guys love even more than a lady's cruel unusual nether-territory?

Phallic symbols. That can kill people.

Too easy.

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

Andrew: (six minutes theremin-like whistling) Get it?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coldplay Surfs to Big Bucks by Stealing From the Alien

Big news in the music world today as guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani formally filed suit against Coldplay for ripping off his song "If I Could Fly" with the title track from their newest album "Viva La Vida."

In an exclusive interview with, Satrani lays it down:

"Everybody assumes I'm trying to go after these guys in Coldplay, as if I'm doing this with malice, that's the furthest thing from my mind. I'm just doing what I need to do as an artist, to protect what's mine, to protect those feelings I put down in song," Satriani says.

What Satriani meant to say was, "booh dam bah doo dam, widdleh widdleh wahhh..SOLO!"

At any rate, Satriani was reluctant to take the band to court, but he was "tired of being ignored."


This just goes to show that when you surf with the alien, you get burned.

Judge for yourself:

Monday, December 8, 2008

George's Summer in live music #3: The Hold Steady

My Hold Steady fandom is belied by my record collection, since I only own their most recent two albums--the epic Boys and Girls in America, and their fine 2008 effort Stay Positive. I categorize them alongside Spoon and Andrew Bird in that what little of their catalog I own I enjoy immensely, yet I haven't managed to take get off my ass and buy up their other stuff. Soon enough! But that didn't stop me from snagging a few tickets for their Charleston was worth the fifteen bucks and ten minute commute.

The Pour House on James Island (municipally part of Charleston) is, as a venue, friendlier to its audience than its acts. The floor stretches back a good fifty yards and you're never more than a few feet from the bar. The stage, however, isn't elevated more than a few feet and seems a bit tight, low and claustrophobic. Admittedly I've been on a run of seeing mega-acts (see Waits and Radiohead) who play venues with cavernous stages. But the Pour House is a true low-to-mid level rock venue. The acts they book usually have a pretty esoteric following, if anything more than local.

But as Pour House bookings go, The Hold Steady was a big get. I'd guess they're the kind of act that could have played a larger area venue, like the Music Farm. They might have opted for the intimacy the Pour House offers...they are, after all, a rocking bar band who made it big. A bar band savant, to be sure. While Craig Finn's lyrics do center heavily around partying, he injects a very relatable poignancy that defines his songwriting style. It's not pretentious, but it certainly isn't mindless.

Back to the gig: The sweaty crowd was excitable, seemed every person was jockeying for a spot closer to the action. I was three or four heads back, just to the right of center stage. The Love Ones opened, a quintet of spirited youngsters who wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Tony Hawk Pro Skating 3 soundtrack (the best game in the series by the way) and likely have a few Clash and Rancid tunes in the ol' iPod. A Superchunky kind of upbeat punk outfit, they aren't particularly my cup of tea but they certainly played their hearts out. Closed out with a cover (I couldn't put my finger on the name of the tune but I've definitely heard it somewhere) accompanied by Franz Nicolay and Tad Kubler from the headliners.

A brief intermission let us air out a bit before the Hold Steady took the stage and set into one of the most rocking sets I've seen in years. The immediately noticed that Craig Finn looks about 10 years younger in person than he does on film, although he is 37.

That said, he is the most engaging frontman I've ever seen live. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd done a bit of stage acting in his younger years, because the man can certainly convey emotion through pantomime and facial expressions. 'Passionate' would be an understated labeling of his delivery. I'd almost say 'dire' or 'evangelical'...the guy really wants you to hear what he has to say. He crams movement into his stage presence, with spastic little gyrations and arm flails between and during lines. I see a lot of a young Elvis Costello in Craig (a comparison only aided by the black rims for which they've both become known.)

The band is rounded out by 4 rabble-rousers: Drummer Bobby Drake; Accordionist, keyboardist, and acutely mustachioed ne'er-do-well Franz Nicolay; licksman (and Radiohead detractor) Tad Kubler; and jolly bassist Galen Polivka. The group is racous and noisy, all fine musicians who are just restrained enough to serve as a nice foil for Finn. I feel like the stage was a bit too small for the band, but they savored the intimacy that a hot, dark and sweaty rock show provides.

Again, I can only draw from the past two records worth of material (and of course "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" [which was on THPS 8 according to Wikipedia]), but luckily that's where the band focused. Highlights included newish single "Sequestered in Memphis," the fine album closer to Stay Positive, "Slapped Actress," and the Law and Order plot-worthy "One for the Cutters." Boys and Girls material included my personal favorite, "You Can Make Him Like You" as well as the standbys "Chips Ahoy," "Stuck Between the Stations," and the choppy "Party Pit." Sadly lacking were four I'd have loved to have heard: "First Night," "Citrus" (which I knew was a long shot,) "Chillout Tent" (ditto) and "Southtown Girls." But again, I can't speak for the two albums worth of material I wasn't familiar with.

It was a different kind of show than I'm used to, but certainly an experience well worth the change of pace. My ears rang for a day or two--ear plugs are a good thing, friends--and I didn't smell too nice when all was said and done. But hey, I'm sure that's a sign of a successful Hold Steady experience the way a sauce-stained shirt is the sign of good barbeque.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2008 Hipster Music awards, hosted by KOL's Caleb Followil

(Stage of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN)

Caleb Followil: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYEAAAH!!! Lemme heeeear you mothafuckas! (holds mic out above audience)

Hipster crowd: ......

CF: This ceremony is brought to yall by PitchFOWK Media, even tho' they rail EVERY lass one of our muthafuckin reckahds, eh! I mean, 5.4? How bout I give all 5.4 inches to YO MOTHA!!! EH!!Aright aright aright, pawty pipple, less staht this FIYAH! First awad is best NEW ACT! The nominiminiminiminies AH...Bon IvAH...

Justin Vernon: Actually, Caleb, it's pronounced "Bon Ee-vair." It's a play on the French phrase "good winter", which I came up with--

CF: THAS A STOOPED NAME!!! Aright aright aright, next nominiminee--the Flet FAWXes!

Fleet Foxes (in perfect, sundrenched four-part harmony): We are flattered by our nomination for this largely symbolic award, whooa-ooo-ooh.

CF: Lemme have ah taste ah THAT! (grabs guitar)


FFs: ........

CF: Aright aright aright, the final nominimnimeee is...VAMPIYAH WEEKEND!

Ezra Keonig: Oooooh, getting nominated for this award is great cause making the record was suuuuper harrr-duh!

Chris Baio: It was hard like every five minutes!

CF: HEEEY YEEEAH!!! And the winnaaaah, I SAY, the winnaaaaah is...the Flet FAWXES!!!!

Hipster Crowd: .......

(FF member awkward takes award from CF, who is embarrassingly gyrating onstage, and returns sheepishly to seat)

CF: Aright aright aright aright!!! On to the next and final AWAWD, EH EH! Final cause, in the world of indie award shows, after your second award you are obselete! Unless, of course, you ah RADIOHEAD! EHYEAH! The final award is man of the yeeear, EH! The first nominiminiminee is--and of course we are stretching the limitations of the word 'man'--Conor OberstAH!

Conor Oberst: Awards don't matter. Neither do cars, or tax returns, or GAP Kids, or anything that's not a celestial manifestation of lost love. (phone rings) Shet. (answers) Hello? What mom. Yeah. I know, I'll be home three days before Christmas. Yes, the footie pajamas for the family picture, I'll bring them. I know the code on the front gate changed, if I forget it I'll just park at the country club and you guys can pick me up. MOM! I gotta go! (slams phone shut) Despair.

CF: WHAT A PUSS-AY!!!! Aright aright aright, next nominiminimineee--lead singer of My MOOOWNEEEIN Jacket, Jim James!

(rumbling from above, one-man space ship lands in cloud of smoke)

JJ: (in castrato vocal) Yeeeeeeeah, don't worry Caleb, Pitchfork didn't like my record this year either, although at least they have and probably will again review my records favorably!

CF: Ehyeah! Yo PROBABLY right! Aright aright the final nominiminiminiminee is...GIRL TALK-AH!

(two people walk onstage)

CF: WHAT!?!?! Whass a'goin on hyeah?

Thom Yorke: Uh, yeah, don't know. Some bloke called Girl Talk thought it'd be a better idea for me and Ghostface Killa to show up side by side than for him to actually make an appearance on his own. Said it was some form of expression but seems to me like taking other peoples' expression and just kinda putting them next to each other.



JJ: GIDEEEOOOOOON!!!! (nabs award and flies off into space)

CO: Despair.

Oberst's Trust Fund: /matured

CF: Aright aright aright, well I guess THAS THAT, BEBEH! Ah wud like to thank PitchFOWK Media--if I add up all my records' scores I almost have a 10!--and all you mothafuckas out there! (holds out mic)

Hipster Crowd: are the indie version of the guy from "Jet".