The Ugliest Indie Feud of 2014

Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012.
Let's assume you don't follow the indie-rock blogosphere. You may never have heard of Mark Kozelek or his project Sun Kil Moon. Think of him as like an acoustic guitar-playing, folkie version of Trent Reznor; he's a brilliant musician who performs under the name Sun Kil Moon. It's a "band" in the same sense Nine Inch Nails is a band, but at the end of the day, Sun Kil Moon is Mark Kozelek.

I used to be a fan of his, but I am no longer. If you don't know who Sun Kil Moon is, you likely don't know why that is, so here's a little background on exactly why Kozelek may be the most immature, idiotic person in the indie world and why I can no longer stomach even his older recordings.

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The Flaming Lips' Shtick Is Getting Stale

Photo by Mark C. Austin
Let's have a talk about the Flaming Lips. The Oklahoma City band made their name in the '90s alt-rock scene with "She Don't Use Jelly," but they were nothing like their contemporaries. Their history was checkered with intense experimentation, and that song was an outlier in their catalog.

This sort of teeter-totter balance between accessible, mainstream rock music and vast sonic experimentation has continued unabated as the Lips have become one of the most successful bands in modern music. But as they've gotten more famous and more financially stable, the whole thing might be growing stale.

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Relax, It's Okay to Like Weezer Again

Categories: Dig This, Hipsters

Photo by Emily Shur
"Take me back," singer Rivers Cuomo intones in the chorus of Weezer's latest hit single, "Back to the Shack." It's a familiar sentiment from him, going all the way back to the early portion of his career when he sang "I've got to get back" in Pinkerton classic "The Good Life."

Is "Back to the Shack" the return to form he's pining for in its own self-referential lyrics? Not quite. It's maybe the worst out of the recently released singles from their new record, Everything Will Be Alright in the End (in stores today), yet it does a pretty damn good job of sounding like the old Weezer, something the band has consistently failed at for the last decade.

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Longtime Booker Mike Sims Leaving Rudyard's

Photo courtesy of Mike Sims
Teresa Kolo and Rudyard's booker Mike Sims moving to Seattle
Rudyard's British Pub is one of those local watering holes that just never seems to change. But change is in store for the venerable "living room of Montrose," with longtime talent booker and manager Mike Sims moving on to Seattle.

Sims' last day will be April 15. This Sunday, he and his significant other, local folk singer and cancer researcher Teresa Kolo, whose new job in Seattle is behind the couple's move, will host a going-away party upstairs at Rudz. The festivities kick off with a solo set by Kolo at 5 p.m.

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Dear Arcade Fire: No More Covers On This Tour, Please

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Arcade Fire's Win Butler at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 2011
Folks, I have made it no secret over the years that I am no fan of what Arcade Fire does. The Woodlands expats make lightweight pretentious rock for hipsters and bored suburban kids. That's fine, because it's a market that apparently Jason Mraz wasn't quite cornering well enough.

But now they have crossed the line with me. On their latest tour, which pulls into the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on April 9, they've taken to covering classic songs and the results have been pretty much as expected for a band of this, ahem, caliber. So here and now, I would like to respectfully request that Arcade Fire please, please, please stop covering songs I love.

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How to Play a Vinyl Record

Photo by acidpix via flickr
So you want to play a vinyl, eh?

Perhaps you've come across your grandma's old record player, or maybe you've found a sweet stash of vinyls at your local Goodwill that would look perfect in your hipster pad, and you want to test them out to impress your moustachioed friends.

There's only one problem, though. You're well out of the demographic that remembers 8-track players, much less those strange, disc-looking things you're holding haphazardly, and you can't just ask the dude in skinny pants that won't get off your couch. You'd lose way too much street cred.

Well, you're in luck. An official old is here to teach you the ways. Watch and learn, childrens.

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Mason Jennings/Lily Kershaw at House of Blues, 1/26/14

Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Mason Jennings with Lily Kershaw
House of Blues, Bronze Peacock Room

House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room was the perfect intimate setting for Mason Jennings' stellar showcase of songs on Sunday night. Ranging from his vast catalog of music, Jennings came to perform for his fans' sake, and that he did.

Opener Lily Kershaw isn't exactly a household name, unless maybe you are an avid fan of the CBS show Criminal Minds (apparently Kershaw had two songs on the season finale this year). That being said, she certainly is naturally talented. Her voice is reminiscent of Jewel but slightly warmer. It is to be seen if there is anything discernably different about Kershaw than the 1000 other talented songstresses that release music each year in the hopes of success, but her music is pretty and non-irritating or cheesy. Maybe that is the difference.

After Kershaw's appropriately timed 45-minute set and an intermission, Mason Jennings took the stage. Jennings opened by saying, "Thanks for being so warm, Houston. I'm from Minnesota." A Houston transplant from Chicago and Minneapolis myself, I understand what he means. Nonetheless, this winter has absolutely sucked for Texans, and I'm glad for Houstonians sake that we have music like Mason's to keep us warm.

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Six People to Avoid When Starting a Band

Categories: Hipsters

All illustrations by Dave Watt
Being in a band is hard. Assembling a band is almost impossible.

As anyone who's been through a few bands can tell you, meeting a self-proclaimed "musician" should instill about as much enthusiasm in you as meeting someone who is going to college for a career in law enforcement. You're either about to talk to a caring, compassionate, intelligent person or a psychotic, self-serving demon. By the analogy, you can probably guess which is more common.

Despite the intense joy we all take in watching a singer refuse to take the stage until the drummer changes his silk Western-style shirt, there comes a time we must rise up and take a stand. So furrow your brow and focus as we save your sanity by providing six people to avoid when forming a band.

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Death Grips: Performance Art or Idiocy?

Experimental hip-hop sensation Death Grips is either a revolution in a world of bland, homogenized music created by manufactured pop stars, or absolutely annoying, loud, obnoxious tripe. There is no in between, nor a middle ground to be found with the band, a trio that consists of MC Ride, Flatlander, and Hella drummer Zach Hill.

That doesn't really matter, though, as Death Grips are rapidly becoming less famous for their musical output, while becoming far more well known for their increasingly erratic behavior. The group has stunned the general public with their baffling decisions -- decisions that would be unthinkable for most musicians -- decisions that could potentially wreck careers, but yet they continue to grow.

Death Grips also leave their motives -- like their career decisions -- as ambiguous as possible, which begs the question as to whether these guys are brilliant artists, or just what they seem to be -- which are absolutely pompous douchebags.

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Cassette Store Day is the Dumbest Thing Ever

Categories: Hipsters, Holidaze


Record Store Day is quite possibly one of the greatest things young music fans have ever come up with. Every third Saturday in April, music fans around the world flock to real deal music stores and purchase sweet, beautiful vinyl records from all of their favorite musicians. There are exclusives, reissues, special releases, and there are just old marked down records for fans to cherish. It's like Christmas, but for music nerds.

Somewhere along the way, though, we fucked up. Fans lost track of the fact that Record Store Day was invented for two reasons: records are awesome - well preserved vinyl sounds marginally better than digital recordings - and independent music stores need our support to stay in business due to competition from major retailers and online markets.

From that fuck up, somebody decided that what the real point of Record Store Day -- what the point of the whole "vinyl revival" was -- was to celebrate the kitschy pleasure of owning antiquated technology, i.e. they turned it into hipster bullshit. Enter Cassette Store Day, the dumbest thing ever.

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