by Tom Hallett
Happy New Year and the best of the Season out there in ‘Dial-land!! Welcome to the final edition of Round The Dial for 2004—don’t worry, I’ll be gentle. This week’s installment will be short, sweet (well, in some spots, anyway) and as to-the-point as I can get. Mostly because, like you, I’ve got family gatherings, holiday bashes and late-night revelry to attend to over the next few days—we’ll get back to our usual, far-beyond-the-limits-of-professionalism-or-even-good-taste-length columns toot-sweet! In the meantime, check out what ol’ Saint Nick left hanging by the ‘Dial fireplace the other night ...
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I have this strange feeling, being the only person
so far who’s left the Rolling Stones and is still alive ...” —
SONG OF THE WEEK: “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”
— The Kinks
In The Stocking
I always thought my parents were lying when they said that if I was a bad boy,
I’d get a stocking full of coal for Christmas instead of toys, candy and
fruit. Thankfully, I never had to prove that theory, since we were poor as sharecroppers
and had to burn every scrap of coal, fire-wood and kindling we could find just
to heat the shack. This year, though, the good folks at Skye Media (who, to
be fair, have sent some great stuff my way in the past) saw fit to punish me
for the (very few, I promise!) bad deeds I committed in 2004 by sending me this
little polished turd:
(Rock Ridge Music, 2004)
don’t know how familiar some of you are with the whole record-reviewing
process, but lemme give ya a quick run-down on part of it: You get a package
with a CD, a photo and several pages of hype from some press company representing
the artist wanting coverage. Now, some of ‘em have the system down pat—they
get personal, they send different packages to different media folks, they follow
up with phone calls, e-mails and, sometimes, more copies of the same album until
the writer finally (they hope) breaks down and reviews it . Which is all well
and good, that’s the game and ya plays it or ya finds a new one. Thing
is, sometimes the PR folks aren’t quite as hip as they think they are,
and the press kits they issue can be a real hoot.
Take this one, for example. It kicks off with a paragraph that’s so full
of indie rock faux pas that it might well have actually been written by a major
label exec with a misguided passion for producing sub-par rock scribbling. (All
extra parenthetical commentary mine.) And I quote: “Denver, CO-based alt-rock
(BZZZTT!! Here’s the first fuck-up. Hey, guys—no offense, but using
the term “alt-rock” to describe your drums/bass/guitar/vox combo
in the year 2004 is kind of like using the term “rock-a-billy” to
describe your rock ’n’ roll band in the year 1964. The Beatles have
already landed, war has broken out across the globe, and America is stuck with
a hawkish, greedy government for at least the next half of the decade. Nobody
who wanted to sound “hip” or “cool” or “with-it”
in 1964 used the term “rock-a-billy” to describe their music, nor
should your PR people be describing your music as “alt-rock” in
the year 2004. Got it? Good. Let’s move on ...) four piece Love .45—Danny
Elster, Paul Trinidad, Jr, Mick Shivers (cool name! I bet he shivers even more
when this album turns out to be the high point of his recording career) and
Jim Messina (no, not that one, silly! He’s still living in a house on
Pooh Corner with a short-haired, wild-eyed Kenny Loggins. But that’s a
story for another day ...)—are set to release their self-titled album
Love .45 (is that a reference to the beer or the gun? Or both? Are these guys
secret, angry, romantically-challenged drunks underneath all that alt-rock cool?
Hmmm.) was recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle (NO!! Not Seattle!!
Man, that is SO COOL!! Oh yeah, it’s 2004, not 1994. Maybe it’s
not that cool.), with 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson (Well, why didn’t
ya say so? Good God, I LOVE THREE DOORS DOWN!! That’s a great song!! Three
doors down, they’re laughin’ and drinkin’ and havin’
a part-ay! Wasn’t that Dolly Parton? Good stuff! Ohhh—you mean 3
Doors Down, the BAND! Shit, they suck! Aren’t they one of those lame,
over-played, soulless, cookie-cutter, radio-safe BULLSHIT bands? Uh-huh. So
to recap—NOT IMPRESSED.) producing and Geoff Ott (Nickelback, Unwritten
Law, Melissa Etheridge) (Oh, Lord, I’m sorry. Did you say NICKELBACK??
HOLY SHIT!! THEY ROCK!! Ack. Brrr-apppp!!! Oops! Sorry. Did some of that get
on your shoes? I’ll get you a towel ... As for Melissa Etheridge, are
you kidding? She’s the QUEEN of ALT-ROCK, man!! Plus she has some of those
David Crosby mutant babies he’s breeding for future liver sources. Jesus,
you guys are in some GREAT company!) co-producing and engineering ...”
Whew. That was quite a work-out, huh? But man, I just HAD to go over all those
excellent “Alt-Rock” creds. Because they sort of built this album
up inside my mind, you know? Now I’m expecting a band that sounds a lot
like 3 Doors Down, Nickelback and Melissa Etheridge. And you know what? I’m
not disappointed. I mean, I’m disappointed as FUCK, but I’m not
disappointed in thinking that these guys are about as original, fun, spontaneous
and “alt-rock” as those others are. Which is to say, not at all.
Not even a little bit. I’m betting you could shove a 3 Doors Down disc,
a Nickelback disc and a Love .45 disc in your CD changer, hit random, and even
the most judicious music lover wouldn’t be able to discern which was which.
Now I ask you—where’s the excitement in that? I’d rather throw
in a Best of The Carpenters, a punk compilation, an early ’60s Sinatra
album and the latest Kingdom Of Ghosts album (which I’m still waiting
for an official copy of, GLEN MATTSON), hit random, and GET WHIPLASH jerkin’
back and forth to so many different, diverse sounds. But maybe that’s
As for this album, it’s pure dreck, from start to finish. Am I making
it sound bad? It’s not possible to convey through words alone how same-y,
boring and yawn-inducing this batch of music is, kids. It’s everything
we’ve always hated about music in the decade or so following a big revolution
in the biz. It’s like what you heard on the radio, on three or four stations
that played exactly the same songs, in the months following Kurt Cobain’s
suicide. Hell, THIS KIND OF RECORD IS ONE OF THE REASONS HE KILLED HIMSELF!!
Blah. All I can say is, if you’re trying to hawk one of these fucking
phony, factory conveyor-belt fad rock albums to the actual indie press, you’re
going about it all the wrong way. You need to start name-dropping some cooler
handles, first of all. I mean, shit, I’d have been more impressed to read
that Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens was producing the album, with
maybe some engineering help from the surviving member of Milli Vanilli (Rob
or Fab—the one who didn’t kill himself—although either one
would work for me) or former Partridge Family heartthrob David Cassidy.
I haven’t heard a batch of songs this derivative, uninspired and obviously
scene-grubbing since, well, maybe since that first SILVERCHAIR album came out.
And remember when BUSH just meant a terrible Nirvana copy-cat band, and not
the cause of the end of the free world as we know it? Hell, at least Silverchair
and Bush were trying to copy a band that fucking rocked—who in their right
mind would WANT to sound like 3 Doors Down or Nickelback? Well, I hate to break
it to the Love .45 dudes, but you missed the train, the boat and the trend by
about 10 years, gang.
My advice? PAIN. You need a fucking boat-load of it, each and every one of you.
I mean fucking horrific, soul-searing pain, boys. Not the kind of pain you feel
when you realize there’s no porn on the TV at some roadside motel, or
the kind of pain you experience when the venue you’re playing forgets
that the drummer prefers Evian bottled water and there’s nothing but gallons
of Perrier piled willy-nilly back-stage, or even the kind of pain you feel when
you just HAVE to cheat on your girlfriend on tour because you’d have broken
that poor little groupie’s heart if you hadn’t had your way with
No, I’m talking about the kind of pain you suffer when most of the free
world doesn’t hear your music, and the people who do mock it. I’m
talking about the kind of pain you go through sticking to your guns when everybody
around you is following the band wagon—using “hip” producers,
and name-dropping lame radio bands in their press kits—and making a play
for the big bucks. I’m talking about the pain you suffer when your music
is finally accepted, mass-marketed and commercialized and you either go crazy,
get hooked on dope, re-invent yourself ala’ Robyn Hitchcock or Iggy or
even William Shatner and stay true to yourself, or you just plain KILL YOURSELF.
Now THAT’S pain!!
Sure, it sucks, bros. But GOOD ART, TRUE ART, LASTING ART, is rarely created
by happy, healthy, well-fed mama’s boys under the umbrella of some soul-dead
entertainment cabal. And nobody remembers a copycat as anything but a copycat.
Unfortunately, Love .45 are starting their career with a nice, safe, Clear Channel-approved
and pre-tested, suburban-teen-friendly sound that may garner them a few squealing
little bobby-soxers (see Arcane Musical Terminology, Vol. 4), some requisite
ass-kissing from college-boy rock “critics” who don’t know
their asses from a hole in the ground, and an appearance or two on Carson Daily,
but I can guaran-fucking-tee you that nobody will know who the hell they are
in a year or two. Just ask Silverchair, or David Cassidy, or Bush ... no, not
THAT Bush. Sometimes you can suck so bad NOBODY ever forgets you ...
That’s it for this YEAR, folks. Next week, we’ll get back to REAL
“alt-rock” with reviews of DVDs by The Screamers, the revamped Iggy
& The Stooges, and lots more!! Thanks for checking in. We’ll see ya’ll
back here in 2005 for more reviews, rants and raves. Until we meet again—make
yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events/CD’s you’d
like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to complain that
Love .45 stole your idea to start a retro ‘Oughts band before you got
a chance to copyright it, send replies to: (temporary e-mail) email@example.com.