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Patrick Wolf’s new album will be coming out within the next few months or so, and I am incredibly happy because I love him more than words can express.  ”Time Of My Life” is the first song released so far, and you can preorder the 7″ single here.  Side B is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.”

Joyce Carol Oates’s Wild Nights! is a book of five short stories chronicling fictionalized accounts of the last days of Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and Mark Twain.  It is an impressive collection for a number of reasons:  firstly and most obviously, it further cements the fact that Oates can do whatever she wants with a pen and make it work; secondly, she structures each of the stories quite convincingly after the subject’s writing style; thirdly, corollary to the second reason, is that she accomplishes these things without “stealing” from the authors.  That is, she does not fill the stories with direct quotes or passages from their books; rather, she implements themes, imagery, phrasing styles, and even punctuation styles that were unique to those writers and makes them her own.  It speaks to her skill as a writer but more than that, it speaks to her skill as a reader, as someone who takes in words with encyclopedic skill and is able to run them through her mind and produce something wholly different and unique.  From this idea, I’ve attempted to do something similar based on both the writing styles of a few lyricists I like and how I think they would be in real life, if that makes any sense.  While these will not be, in a strict sense, about music – they will not cheaply contain song titles or lyrical passages – they are my attempts to better understand some of the people I

Simple Plan – you know the name, but do you know the story?  The nitty-gritty?  The highs, the lows, the drama, the bond that these five young people share?  For those of you who have just recently heard of the band, you might think that they’ve always been on top, that they’ve always had the kind of success that they have now, but it is not so.

“Yeah man,” says lead singer Pierre Bouvier.  ”We weren’t always doing songs for the live action Scooby-Doo movie and playing shows on MTV’s Hard Rock Live.  We’ve had to work hard to get where we are.”

Indeed, in 1999, Bouvier was slaving away in his first band, Reset.  They’d just released their second album, No Limits – a title which proved ironic because nobody anywhere cared about Reset.  ”Yeah man I’ll admit it,” Bouvier says, “Reset wasn’t going so well.  We were pretty punk, you know – no compromise and all that – but eventually I just had to look out for myself, right?  I had to say ‘Fuck it.  It’s time to write some pop music.  It’s time to write about my inner turmoil, my inner despair.’  Because I’ll tell you man, at the end of the day sometimes I feel like that’s all I’ve got.”  Here, Bouvier pulls out a notebook and writes something down.

He laughs.  ”Just had a great idea for a song,” he says.

Part 1: The Beginning

Bouvier’s work in Reset was not necessarily bringing in…

For all that I have petulantly written about the death of music, whether it be a personal death inside of me or the death of the music industry as a whole, there are still so many things about music that I cannot deny – how it gets under your skin and you can feel it vibrating in your veins, how it roots you to the spot and wraps you up tight and keeps you warm, how it is the closest thing we have to something that is incontrovertibly mystical.  I could say that certain things have moved me – love, or sadness, or being alive – but those are all a distillation of the same general feelings, and none can do what music does.

Can I explain it?  Can anyone?

Of course, it has been explained.  Scientifically, physiologically.  I don’t want to know the details though.

Speaking of music’s magic just sounds trite but maybe that is because we have all felt it and balk at attempts to dissect it and classify it and file it away.  But it is a magic we can feel every day and what a shame it is that sometimes we grow bored of it, as I have so many times.  I do feel, though, that I need the boredom sometimes, that I need the reduction of music to some day-to-day minutiae born out of a years-long habit to have a melody playing in the background or something there to tell me the specifics of…

Just two dudes:

Pit ‘n’ Wiz meet Bearded Ebert:

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The 80s were great:

An AIM excerpt:

Soliquidis (1:51:33 AM): i untie the shoes from my balls
Soliquidis (1:51:46 AM): and put the shoes on my hands
Soliquidis (1:51:50 AM): now i have shoe hands
GDandBlinkfan76 (1:52:22 AM): they dont even fit
Soliquidis (1:52:37 AM): dont even think about it
Soliquidis (1:52:52 AM): youre ruining my fantasy with your memes again
Soliquidis (1:53:04 AM): now im not even gona get off
Soliquidis (1:53:34 AM): where was i
Soliquidis (1:53:36 AM): oh yeah
Soliquidis (1:53:46 AM): so i start beating u with my shoe hands
Soliquidis (1:53:50 AM): youre naked
GDandBlinkfan76 (1:53:53 AM): you are a dog
Soliquidis (1:53:58 AM): god dammit
GDandBlinkfan76 (1:54:12 AM): over 9000 dogs
Soliquidis (1:54:42 AM): i go over to your computer and set parental controls
Soliquidis (1:55:11 AM): then go to bed

Charles Manson’s The Inner Sanctum is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.

I don’t mean to say it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard because it’s awful, although it certainly is awful.  What I mean is, it is depressing to hear this old man plunk away on his guitar while muttering indecipherable lyrics, probably wearing the exact same outfit and the same exact expression as he is on the cover, which looks sort of like he is taking a shit, about to vomit, and trying to work out a complex algebra problem in his head all at once.

The Inner Sanctum is a 3-track EP.  The bookends, “Air” and “Just Love Someone,” are tuneless acoustic meanderings complete with Manson drawling away in a semi-bluesy tone.  The real gem is the second track, “Labor of the Mind,” which isn’t a song; it’s 3:15 of Manson talking.  About what?  I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention.  He says something about how religions worship violence or something and that, within a religion, “improv becomes the devil,” which doesn’t seem to mean anything at all.  It all seems very blasé until you realize that this is the guy with a swastika carved into his forehead and then it just becomes very very ironic in a very very sad way.

I can’t help but feel a little bit depressed for Manson when I listen to Inner Sanctum.  I mean, this is a man who was described as the most compelling, charismatic, mesmerizing man…

My renewed obsession with reading books combined with my lack of Internet access has led to a waning interest in listening to new music.  It is sad, I will admit, that even if I did have Internet access, I would probably not be using it to procure new music.  Furthermore, I am unable to listen to music while I read, as some can, and so the only time I listen to music lately is in my car, where I choose from a large but still limited selection of CDs. 

But I have found a sense of freedom in all of this.  I read all the time and I write all the time and as I grow in both of those areas, I am able to further appreciate music I’ve already heard in new ways.  Undertones of emotion that were heretofore unheard by my ears have been opening themselves up to me, turns of phrase stand out not like sore thumbs but like oases, and song structure has become revelatory.  Even production techniques – something that I had previously paid attention to only in a disengaged manner – are wells of inspiration.  So it is through this disillusionment with music that I have come to appreciate music more.

I have always been a lover of lyrics; for as long as I’ve been listening to music, the words have been equally important as the music and melody.  Lately though, I have been able to analyze lyrics more deeply, to pay attention to…

Part One / Part Two

In July of 2006, mx founded the Sputnikmusic Staff – a move which, frankly, was made much too early.

The summer of 2006 was an interesting time for the site.  Its active userbase had been declining almost since the site was founded, but this was never more readily apparent than that summer, when Sputnik was plagued with downtime because of problems with the server.  At one point, the site was down for two entire weeks, and many started to accept that it might not come back.  And although it did come back, the damage had been done.  For one long interminable summer, Sputnikmusic’s active userbase consisted of under fifty people who kept the site alive, posting and commenting and trying to make sure the site that meant so much to them didn’t die by the wayside, because even though there was still a decent (for the time) amount of outside readership that didn’t have accounts, would they visit the site if no one was posting any reviews?

Still, mx implemented a number of big changes to the site.  Apart from fiddling with the design and layout of the site, he added a slew of new features, a few of which are still around today and a few that turned out to be not so great.  Lists were a huge addition.  If users weren’t content with simply talking about Metallica in a Master of Puppets thread, they could now post a…

Part One

It didn’t take long.  By the end of 2005, Sputnikmusic was seeing exponential growth in its userbase.

It was technically a new website, but Sputnik didn’t face the hardships that most new domains have – namely, lack of viewership – thanks to its origins in the MX forums.   And although the vast majority of the forum users would come to abandon the site in its infancy, the number of views they lent early Sputnik reviews allowed them to pop up within the first pages of Google searches for music reviews.  A further boon for the website was the fact that it was founded before the demise of MXtabs and was therefore linked on each individual MXtabs page (Guitar, Bass, and Drums).

A link to Sputnikmusic on the MXtabs Guitar page.

Sputnikmusic’s major appeal came from its focus on the userbase, another holdover from its time as a subforum populated by members of MXtabs.  Except for the site’s design, layout, and general coding (which was run by Jeremy Ferwerda [mx]), MXtabs was run by the users.  They created the tabs and posted them on the site, which could then be rated and critiqued by other users (with a 5-star rating system and a link to “Correct This Tab”).  Sputnikmusic was meant to follow this same format, but there was more of a learning curve for the new members.  An amateur guitar player who posted a guitar tab on MXtabs was a…

Sputnikmusic was founded five and a half years ago – so long ago that the vast majority of people who posted in 2005 are no longer around.  This multi-part feature is for those of you who have an interest in the site’s history but weren’t around in its younger days.  You’ll find that, despite popular opinion, the professionalism vs. userbase/more features vs. more journalistic integrity debate has been raging for five years now.

The Early Days

Before there was Sputnikmusic, there was MXtabs.  Started way back in 1999 by Jeremy Ferwerda, MXtabs was one of the foremost music tablature sites on the Internet.  Over the course of six years, thousands of guitar, bass, and drum tabs were added to the MXtabs database, all created and submitted by users of the site.  In addition to tabs, the site also had a flourishing forum section.  Within that section was a subforum for music reviews, where music lovers and aspiring writers could submit reviews for their favorite albums.  That forum was the fetus from which Sputnikmusic would grow into a screaming toddler, which would grow into a moody pre-teen, which would grow into a pimply teenager, which would grow into a ???.

In 2005, the MPA (Music Publishers’ Association) realized that they could make a bunch of money by suing tab sites, presumably because the president of the company still had some negative feelings about being a man named Lauren Keiser.  In 2006, the company released a statement in which…

So far I’ve only received one entry, so I figured I’d get the word out to more people.

Write something about music, send it to newemailssuck@gmail.com, and if it’s good I’ll put it up on the staff blog.  Deadline is July 1st and if I don’t get anything else by then, then I guess I’m a huge failure and this was a terrible idea.  Bye!

When extrapolated, the idea of the end of music seems extreme, or perhaps even impossible.  But we’re seeing it even now on much smaller scales.

In keeping with geographical metaphors, post-rock was a forest in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it wasn’t just any forest.  It was a rain forest, a pine forest, a rural woodland.  The music encapsulated the feel of all seasons – the beauty of winter, with its snowy treetops; the beauty of autumn, leaves swirling to the ground; the heat and desire of summer.  And beyond that, bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor were able to capture real emotion as well – desperation and fear, love and hope – within thematic albums that told stories without words.  These bands could seemingly put whatever they wanted into their music and make it work, or maybe it was us listeners that made it work, accentuating the music with our own emotions.  Either way, post-rock became one of the first genres that was brought into the spotlight by the Internet generation, through blogs and indie review sites.  It was the next big thing, the next wellspring of musical creativity… until a few years later when it dried up.

Post-rock is a disconcerting example of how we are bringing about the end of music by our fickleness as an audience in this modern Internet age.  Our attention spans are wide when it comes to the amount of music we listen to, but short when it comes to individual albums.  Instead…

Music used to be something transcendent for me, something that could carry me away to different worlds.  Every album was an adventure with something exciting and stimulating just around the corner, like walking through an expansive forest to find streetlights hanging from the trees or entering my bathroom to see the mirror made of reflective puzzle pieces.  Wondrous and new, music was a planet unto itself that consisted of objects stitched together through the creativity of a collective, notes and melodies becoming the nails and planks while the input of each individual band member was the hammer that connected everything.  For hours I could wander the streets of this new place, listening to different albums without any agenda other than the sheer joy of continual discovery.

Eventually, everything had to be supplemented with music.  Was it storming outside?  I had to listen to an album that complemented the weather.  Was I sad?  I had to listen to sad music.  I feel now that it was a lazy response, one that cheapened the experiences at hand.  Music as a form of escape isn’t inherently purer than doing anything else to avoid problems just because it’s music.  It is counterproductive.  Listening to sad music because I was sad set me up for more sadness, but listening to happy music made me feel like a clown, an idiot, trying to jump-start a good mood based on the sounds hitting my ears, like some slobbering Pavlovian dog.  Music failed me at those times and…

So the Season 1 finale of Glee finished ten minutes ago and I am very sad that I’ll have to find a new show to talk about for the next few months.  I already wrote a blog about Glee here, but I am just bursting with things to say about why I love the show and I feel an unshakable need to share them with you, because the music of Glee is essentially all I listen to these days.

I'm trying to be ashamed but I am just too filled with happiness for that.

My fiancée, despite my numerous attempts to persuade her, absolutely refuses to watch Glee, saying that she doesn’t like musicals.  In the immortal words of Aaron Weiss, “I half-heartedly explained, but gave up peacefully ashamed.”  It irks me that she makes fun of the show and says she hates it without ever having seen an episode, but ultimately I don’t care whether or not she likes it, and secretly I’m even sort of glad that she doesn’t.  I hate when people get pissed off that their favorite band is starting to gain popularity, even though we’ve all had that feeling, even me.  You overhear someone talking about a band you like, calling them “French screamo,” (as an acquaintance of mine once called The Mars Volta), and your blood boils, wishing that you were the only one in the world with knowledge of that band, that their name wasn’t being tainted by half-wits.…

So tonight was my first night online after going two weeks without the Internet.  I discovered that Gary Coleman died and then promptly forgot about that when I found out that Hayley Williams’ boobs had finally shown up online.  It is saddening that Gary Coleman will never get the chance to see them.

Anyway, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.  So long, in fact, that I was beginning to think it would never happen.  Hayley Williams seemed unlikely to ever show up nude on the Internet, which is exactly the reason why I assumed she would eventually show up nude on the Internet.  But after Riot! was released and Paramore’s popularity spiked with nary a sight of Hayley’s nipples, I began to lose hope.  I shouldn’t have worried though; the Internet always comes through for us in the end.

Thanks Internet!

The picture itself is lackluster if we’re being honest.  The angle is horrible; it makes her breasts look small(er) because they’re flattened, and what’s up with that lighting?  It makes her look as if she’s a tween impersonating Hayley Williams rather than the real deal.  Also, her nose is really shiny.  And I don’t really like red lipstick.

How…disappointing.

I’m assuming that there were other nude pictures to choose from, so why did the hacker (if that’s truly what happened) pick that one?  Did Hayley offend him or her in some way?  Is this picture revenge, not only because it…

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