Archive for June, 2014

Sunday political musings, 29.6.14

June 29, 2014

So, apparently Ruth Marcus and Nora Volkow are A-OK with little old ladies and war veterans getting gunned down (and babies being burned with flash-bang grenades) in their homes via no-knock SWAT raids because police think there might be drugs in there. That’s really the only conclusion I can draw, since neither of them acknowledge the myriad ways that the War On Some Drugs has gotten completely out of control in this country. I find the argument that “we don’t know how dangerous marijuana is” to be more than a little bit disingenuous, because if that’s the case, why was it even banned in the first place? And it’d be interesting to find out how our knowledge of alcohol and tobacco relates to their legality, don’t you think?

===

Say what you will about Houston Mayor Annise Parker, but at least she has experience doing things of substance besides filibustering.I don’t really know if I’d agree or not with the way she’s run the city of Houston — meaning, I don’t really have an opinion on that since I haven’t paid that much attention to it. She’d certainly be someone to take seriously, though, unlike a certain Democratic gubernatorial candidate who is to a large extent being pushed by out-of-state interests because of her only accomplishment of note (and even that was more or less created by the media).

===

Well, this is special:

DALLAS – Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott‘s campaign blasted remarks made by state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer at the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas, calling them inappropriate and symptomatic of the party’s recklessness.

Martinez Fischer, well-known for his penchant for throwing bombs at his colleagues across the aisle, has been especially on point this weekend. During his speech to the full convention Friday, Martinez Fischer said “GOP” stood for “gringos y otros pendejos.”

White people and other assholes. But remember, kids, it’s those evil bastard Republicans who are the racists! Never mind Trey Martinez Fischer, or Dan Ramos for that matter!

Advertisements

Yet another illustration…

June 27, 2014

…of what’s wrong with the local newspaper.

Apparently the Dairy Queen at West Avenue just north of Blanco Road got robbed last night, and you know what San Antonio Express-News reporters are writing about?

They’re writing about a party in a pasture 350 miles away. And the story seems to be almost completely lifted from the website of a Tyler TV station. Freaking pathetic.

Thursday music musings, 26.6.14

June 26, 2014

…because I hate using my best stuff at an away game, as Tamara might say…

I don’t really understand why Jerrod Niemann’s “Donkey” would reignite any kind of stereotype. After all, pretty much everyone anymore has been pushing the sonic and lyrical elements of that song as a natural evolution of country music, and radio programmers seemingly have been all too happy to go along with it. Why did “Donkey” cross the line but “Drink To That All Night” not cross the line? I mean, really. After Chase Rice and “getcha little fine ass on the step shimmy up inside,” I didn’t think there was anything “country” radio wouldn’t play, even if they did edit that particular line.

And yeah, Willie Nelson did indeed get airplay for years, as did George Strait, but it’s still disheartening to see them pushed aside for the flavor of the month — and even more so to see the likes of Jason Boland and Sturgill Simpson toil in relative obscurity while hacks like Niemann and Florida-Georgia Line get the recognition as the faces of the genre to the mainstream.

===

Speaking of Florida-Georgia Line, there was this comment a little bit further down:

Florida Georgia Line’s next single is supposed to be “not bro-country.” If that’s true, it is a smart move on their part to get out of the bubble before it deflates (if that is actually what’s happening.)

Is it, though? I mean, it seems to me those guys are nothing if not all about the image. You take that away and they have absolutely nothing to offer music fans of discerning taste. Even if they put out something ostensibly of substance (as was attempted with “Stay”), Tyler Hubbard is still a barely-serviceable vocalist, and probably not much better as a songwriter. Granted, I’m just going off what he’s mouthed off about in the country music press here, but I can’t see him or his partner coming up with something anywhere near the level of “Ain’t No God in Mexico,” “Mama Tried,” or even “The Chair.”

Monday music musings, 23.6.14

June 23, 2014

Well, this is interesting:

One of the problems is writers tend to follow the trend. And that’s what’s happening right now with this so-called bro-country, party-country stuff. All the writers are jumping on that bandwagon, and I’m trying to encourage the writers, “OK I know that’s what’s going on right now, but we have to get ahead of that. We need to figure out what’s gonna set the trend, not follow the trend.” When I do get that stuff and I take it in to the record companies or play it for the producers or for an artist, the comment I get from them is, “We’ve already kind of got that. We need something different from that.” So again, trying to get the writers to understand, to come up with something different and unique and fresh is just an ongoing battle.

But wait! Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley told us that this stuff was fresh and real! I don’t know who this Sherrill Blackman person is, but he’s obviously not hip to the fact that country music is evolving and it’s not your grandfather’s music anymore! People don’t live real lives anymore! They don’t go to work every morning, home to their families every night or any of that! They don’t deal with aging, death, or any of that sad old fogey stuff! Life’s one big PARTY now, for everyone! Dude needs to get with the tiiiimes…

===

Oh, burn!

(Keith) Urban is an intelligent man, a genuine music fan and musician who, when you speak with him or hear him talk, doesn’t fake it. So how can he consistently sing the cavalcade of cliches which infest every corner of his lyrics and rob every single song of whatever genuine feeling it’s meant to be faking?

Good question. But when you think about it, it’s not that hard to answer. When he’s talking about country music, at least, Keith Urban might sound smart, but as you well know if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, virtually none of his arguments hold up beyond even the most cursory of examinations. Of course, it doesn’t help him that he makes the same argument over and over about countrypolitan, the Nashville Sound, etc. in the context of country music’s supposed “evolution.” But if he was as smart as he can ostensibly manage to make people think he is, this wouldn’t be happening.

All of those weak arguments, of course, aren’t meant to do anything but counter people’s arguments that Urban himself isn’t that country, if indeed he’s country at all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he has absolutely no sense of musical identity. He claims to be influenced by all these different genres, and I suppose he is — but past a certain point, which Urban passed a long time ago, it all gets to sounding like, for lack of a better term, elevator music, with no personality and no soul.

Now, how he gets up there and sings that tripe night after night as if he actually believes in it, I really couldn’t tell you. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Maybe Keith Urban has no personality or soul himself.

===

Thomas Rhett needs to just go the fuck away. Sort of like disco did go away. And that’s really all I have to say about that. Seriously, it’s like I have this line from “Hank” (recorded by Jason Boland and the Stragglers and Eleven Hundred Springs) running through my head on a continuous loop anymore:

“Gram Parsons used to sing about the streets of Baltimore. But honest words and simple rhymes don’t sell much anymore.”

Speaking of which, I didn’t hear GP’s version of that song for years. I think Bobby Bare has the more famous recording, but I think I actually like Parsons’ version better.

(h/t Country California)

Tuesday music musings, 17.6.14

June 17, 2014

I wonder if Eric Church even realizes that he contradicts himself from one sentence to the next here:

The stigma with country is it’s not cool. That’s wrong. Country is very cool. I look at award shows, I look at how country is represented. Country is represented with an asterisk. We have to perform collaborations. We have to perform a tribute. We can’t perform by ourselves.

I mean, really? He says country is cool, but then he presents all the evidence that it isn’t perceived as such? And then he bounces back and talks about how much it sells? Okay then…

Beyond that, why should any self-respecting music fan give a damn about what’s cool and what isn’t, anyway? This whole “keeping up with the Joneses” thing is what’s gotten mainstream country music in its sorry shape in the first place!

And you know this is just one more reason that I have to point and laugh at anyone who tries to portray Eric Church as some kind of modern-day Outlaw or general badass, right? Do you think Jason Boland gives a flying shit about what’s cool and what isn’t? Do you think George Strait does? Do you think Waylon did?

You bet your ass those are rhetorical questions. And you know the answer to them as well as I do.

===

Next up, straw man alert from Jerrod Niemann!

People think if we go and mix other types of stuff it’s ruining it or it’s going to end something, but it all goes in phases, it all changes. I really had to evolve a lot in my mind as a music fan to understand certain things, and if you sit there and try to [sound] like Johnny Cash, and Waylon and Willie, you’re not going to go anywhere, because that’s what made them so great. They can’t be replicated.

Ahem. Yet again, no one’s raising hell about modern mainstream “country” singers not sounding like the artists of old. Nobody tried to replicate Waylon or Willie. Or George or Merle, for that matter. They took the influences of those singers and incorporated it into their own sounds. What we’re raising hell about is the fact that we’re not seeing that anymore, that these people seem to be taking their cues not from the likes of George Strait and Alan Jackson, but from people like Pitbull and Nelly — in other words, yet again, that what we’re seeing is not the evolution of country music, but the gutting of it and its replacement with something completely alien to the spirit of the genre. Hell, Eric Church has straight up told people that he didn’t grow up listening to country music — and he’s allegedly one of the better guys on the scene now! (I say “allegedly” because I’ve seen people allege it, but I’m just not hearing it.)

And way to imply that music fans who reject this crap are not “evolved,” jackass! Way to convert people to your position there!

===

And when I say that “what we’re seeing is not the evolution of country music, but the gutting of it and its replacement with something completely alien to the spirit of the genre,” this right here is exactly, dead-nuts-on, what I am talking about:

With the bro-country stuff, it’s more of a hip-hop tempo. They are kinda like rock songs. You throw your 808 [drum machine] underneath it, and some loops and stuff, add the hip-hop EDM influence to it. You replace that live bass with a synth bass. Next thing you know, it just sounds more exciting than a quote unquote band.

…the hell is this? I mean, if dance music is your thing then more power to you, but…no. Just, no. The only way this even works is if by “more exciting,” Mr. Bertoldo means, “more manufactured and soulless,” but we all know that’s not what he means. What he’s saying is that all of this electronic deejay bullshit is better than a guy backed up by a real band and that it’s better that the folks backed up by the real bands get phased out in favor of this. If you’re wondering why fans of Real Country Music get so defensive anymore when people talk about incorporating other influences into the genre, well, here’s your answer.

(h/t Country California)

Only the best for the elite!

June 13, 2014

From the Express-News letters to the editor today:

Re: “Heat still a hot topic; Bexar judge, Miami star square off,” Sports, Saturday:

Maybe if County Judge Nelson Wolf had left his suite during the air-conditioning outage at the opening Spurs-Heat game, and if he had run up and down the court a dozen times or so, then he might have been more aware of the temperature.

And from the Palm Beach Post, after Game 1:

One guy who thought the conditions were fine was Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. He watched the game from a private suite and told the San Antonio Express-News, “I wasn’t all that hot. … It may have been just a little uncomfortable for some folks, but certainly it didn’t bother me or anybody in the suite that we were in.”

Well now. If that’s not a perfect, tailor-made illustration of the relationship between Nelson Wolff and the citizens of San Antonio, then I don’t know what is. Looking down on the people of the city, with no clue of how they’re actually living, and in the case of the streetcars thinking he knows what’s best.

Of course, he is a Democrat, so that last bit probably goes without saying.

Yet more Nashville provincialism.

June 9, 2014

This time, it’s from Peter Cooper of the Nashville Tennessean!

If you’re listening to anything you don’t enjoy, listen to something else. We have greater quality, quantity and variety of country music available to us today in Nashville than anyone has ever had, anyplace, anywhere.

Yeah, and? What about the rest of the country? I guess we’re all just shit out of luck, eh, Pete? I swear, the only place you’ll find more provincial media figures is in Washington D.C. or New York City.

Sabra’s been over all this before, but it deserves to be pointed out again: just because there are people playing good live music and things like satellite radio and Internet streaming doesn’t mean much, since terrestrial radio is pretty much it for a good portion of the population for myriad reasons. Furthermore, with all the radio consolidation and tightening of radio playlists, the choices readily available to your average music listener on said radio are getting smaller and smaller. And even with all these other choices, the fact of the matter is that once upon a time we could find great music on the radio all over the country instead of having to have the means to travel to Nashvegas shithole bars to find it. What the hell happened to those days? And does Peter Cooper even care that they’re gone?

And just because there’s great music being made in these little shithole Nashville bars doesn’t mean that country music is in good shape. Hell, I’ve said it myself recently:  I know down here we have folks like Jason Boland and the Stragglers, the Turnpike Troubadours, and Reckless Kelly, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that those artists aren’t the face of the genre to the mainstream. People like Chase Rice, Florida-Georgia Line, and Blake Shelton are.

Why is this? Why does it have to be this way? Yeah, radio sucks and I don’t listen to it anymore except on very rare occasions (and never the new “country” stations), but why should we have ever let it get to the point that so many people wanted to turn it off in the first place? Let alone let it get to the point that we have radio programmers saying things like “If we do not have a solid library of gold from this era, we will pay the price in a few years”? It just seems to me that “turn off the radio” seems to be a terribly shortsighted approach.

(h/t Country California)

The man’s a great writer…

June 8, 2014

…but oddly enough, my favorite cut on my favorite album from his band is a cover song.

I don’t remember right offhand when I first discovered Jason Boland and the Stragglers. I keep thinking it was on one of my trips to North Texas, listening to 95.9 the Ranch. Not sure if it’s this way now, but back then it also covered a fair slice of Texas east of Dallas on 106.9 and 107.1 — including Sulphur Springs, where I had a lot of relatives living at the time.

Anyway, I haven’t talked about him too much in this space, but for my money Boland arguably has the best voice in Texas music. We’ve gotten ourselves a pretty big chunk of his catalog (save for Truckstop Diaries and The Bourbon Legend, which are regrettably both out of print), and so far, my favorite of the bunch is 2004’s Somewhere in the Middle. I had heard a couple of the songs from this album before, including “When I’m Stoned” and “If You Want To Hear A Love Song.” Boland wrote both of those songs, and wrote or co-wrote six of the album’s other 11 songs, and they’re all great — but, as I said, strangely enough, my favorite on this collection is one of those covers.

“Thunderbird Wine” was written by the great Billy Joe Shaver, of course, and it originally appeared on his 1981 album I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal and has been re-recorded at least once that I know of, on 1999’s Electric Shaver. The man himself makes an appearance on this recording of it as well.

As far as real, authentic music goes, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

“Man, that looks a lot like the drawing of…”

June 7, 2014

So, I was reading Pearls Before Swine last week, and I remember thinking the installments here, here and here looked, well…rather familiar.

Could it be? Nah. NO WAY!

WAY.

WELL DONE, Messrs. Watterson and Pastis. WELL DONE, indeed. What a beautiful treat for us longtime Calvin and Hobbes fans!

(Quite fitting from my perspective too, because I didn’t really have a favorite comic strip after C&H went away…until Pearls Before Swine.)

Saturday tech musings, 7.6.14

June 7, 2014

You longtime readers all know well my disdain for iOS 7. It had always been in the back of my mind that they were going to be shifting that way with the design for OS X. Looks like they’ll indeed be going that way, and yeah, it does suck.

But with the Kafkaesque nightmare that Windows 8 has turned out to be, at this point I really don’t care anymore. I’ve dealt with more shit on Windows 8 computers than I have on pretty much every previous version of Windows. The latest example took the cake. I was trying to help a customer uninstall and reinstall a certain program. We got it uninstalled fine. The problem came when we tried to reinstall it. We downloaded the program file from the website — and it was nowhere to be found on the computer. Searched for it EVERYWHERE. Couldn’t ever find it. Windows freaking ate the thing, just like AVG eats iTunes libraries. It’s cool to get paid for dealing with it on other people’s machines, but I don’t have the time or the inclination to deal with that shit on my own machines.

===

With all due respect, if you don’t back up your data on your electronic device because, and I quote, “that’s too much work,” then you are an asshat and I hope said device suffers a catastrophic failure and you lose everything dear to you that’s on it. How important is that data to you? Obviously not that important, considering in some cases you can set it up to where all you have to do is plug the damn thing in to charge and connect it to your wifi network. And seriously, even in other cases it’s really NOT that much work. I have all the data on my Mac backed up a couple of different ways — I manually copied all the data from the Mac to my external hard drive and I made a Time Machine backup. Manually copying the data didn’t take that long — maybe 30 minutes or so if I remember correctly — but I will admit the Time Machine backup took a while. From what I remember it was a couple of hours. But it was okay. I initiated the backup, we went out to eat and do some other stuff, and when I came back it was done. BAM. Just like that. Seriously. If it’s that important, it’s never “too much work.”