Monday, April 24, 2006

One more update

Pay no attention to the complaint (below) that the Tom DeLonge post got lost - I've just been to the blog and it turns out it's up there.

I hate this sometimes.

Short Cuts and Pearl Jam news

First off, there was supposed to be an actual, full length post today. I spent the morning on it, then went to post it, my laptop crashed and I lost it all. I'll try and re-do it tomorrow. In case anyone's interested, it was about Tom DeLonge's new band, Angels & Airwaves.

Well, it turns out I was wrong. The big Irish Pearl Jam debate has finally come to a halt with news that they're playing the Point on August 23rd. I'd love to go, but I'm unfathomably broke and I could do without my wife and my bank manager screaming "My God man! What are you doing?" when I try to book tickets.

(Of course if anyone wants to employ a sub-editor or comedy/music feature writer, the e-mail address is to the right. Hey, just asking.)

Oh well. And for the record, I was right about the Morrissey gig. So there.

Still looking forward to news of who's playing Slane though - If you're interested, see below (or click here to get straight to the post) for my 'Slane Headliner' rules.

Also today, the iPod Top Ten is slightly different. Instead of the usual random list, it's just my recent downloads. I heartily endorse these songs!

Anyway, there's a whole heap of stuff I really should be doing, so I'm gonna get back to it.

DeLonge-est Time

Just for today, I’m going back to the ‘recent download’ List format, instead of the iPod Random Ten. And if you can think of a better title than that, please let me know.

Apart from the list above, another song I’ve been listening to a lot lately – which generally means a couple of times a day – is ‘The Adventure’ by Angels & Airwaves. It’s one of those songs that got me immediately. It’s very catchy and there are a couple of spots during the song that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. For me, that’s a good sign.

For the record, A ‘hair stands up’ song isn’t necessarily the sign of a great song. It’ s not necessarily something that makes it into my ‘All Time Classics’ list. The bass part of REM’s ‘Ignoreland’ makes my hair stand on end (in the good way), but I don’t think it’s a great song. ‘How To Be Dead’ by Snow Patrol does the same, and that is a good song. All it means is that, for at least a short period it’s a song you want to keep listening to, just to make your neck tingle.

Anyway, ‘The Adventure’ does that to me. And I’ve reached a conclusion. Maybe an indefensible position.

Tom DeLonge is a f-wording genius.

Anytime I’ve heard him talk is evidence enough to dispute this, especially on stage. Rather than trying to be all things to all men he seems instead to concentrate on being the world’s repository for genital and fart jokes, dedicating one song during a live set to a ‘guy who got a boner in gym class’ and offering to eat his own poo if the price was right. Maybe genius is a relative term.
Which made it easy to think that Mark Hoppus, the main voice of San Diego pop-punk pioneers Blink 182 was the brains behind the outfit, especially during their more sensitive moments like ‘Going Away To College’, ‘Stay Together For The Kids’ or ‘I Miss You’. After all, he frequently dedicated songs to his girlfriend, and for the most part tended to be the more discreet and polite of the group in interviews.

Here’s the problem. That doesn’t explain DeLonge’s side projects, Box Car Racer or Angels & Airwaves.

Whereas Blink 182 became one of the iconic bands for the skater-punk generation – I can name
at least six kids who lived within five minutes of my parents house who wanted to either play bass for them (specifically my little brother Keith) or be Tony Hawk – Box Car Racer (DeLonge, with Blink drummer Travis Barker and Hazen Street guitarist David Kennedy) were relatively short lived. They still managed to come up with maybe the greatest ‘jilted horny teenager’ song of all time (‘There Is’) while remaining unbelievably sincere. You’re more likely to get fart jokes in a Bright Eyes song.

But it was all DeLonge. The much more soft-spoken and sincere Hoppus was not involved. Probably just a fluke, right?

Wrong.

DeLonge, despite his reputation for drunken mayhem (which has made him an icon to kids world-wide, and a devil in the eyes of parents – especially my mum) is actually very socially aware. He was a fervent campaigner for the election of John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential elections and his company, Macbeth Shoes is a big supporter of breast cancer charities. Maybe we’re misjudging DeLonge.

Since Blink 182 went on ‘indefinite hiatus’ last year, the trio have gone there separate ways – Hoppus has formed punk band Plus 44 with Blink drummer Travis Barker, who is also concentrating on his career as a reality TV star. DeLonge has formed Angels & Airwaves with David Kennedy, Offspring drummer Adam Willard and Ryan Sinn, formerly of the Distillers.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that his reports of his own legendary status on a recent podcast may have been overstating things a little – plus it violates the rules of becoming a legend – you can’t nominate yourself. It’s like creating your own nickname – not only is nobody obliged to take you seriously, but it’s open season to ridicule you.

But what DeLonge has achieved is to change expectations of him. Admittedly the sound of
Angels & Airwaves is not a million miles from Blink 182 and is so close to Box Car Racer that it may as well be crashing on its’ couch - The insanely earnest vocals and the soaring guitars give the songs a power ballad feel that make them sound like the middle ground between Blink 182 and Journey – but it’s enough to make you forget the fart jokes for a while.

I’ll be back later this week.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nothing Doing

I sat down to write something this morning and was hit with the sudden realisation that I have absolutely nothing to say.

Honestly, not a thing. Don’t take it personally – it’s not you, it’s me. I just have nothing to tell you. It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything – I have a couple of things in the works, but I don’t want to jinx them by talking about them prematurely.

I’ve told you everything I’m watching on TV lately. I can’t miss ‘24’, ‘The West Wing’, ‘Alias’, ‘Sleeper Cell’ or ‘Bones’. I’m still looking forward to episode 2 of ‘The Starlet’ tomorrow night and ‘Number One Single’ with Lisa Loeb later tonight. For me, no-one better epitomises the early 90s than Lisa Loeb, with the possible exception of Kurt Cobain and Michael Jordan.

I could tell you what I’m listening to – I actually had about a thousand words on this, but it was really going nowhere (not that this piece is going somewhere, but still…) so I’ve temporarily scrapped it until I can figure out a point to it. For the record, my most recent downloads are by Melissa Etheridge, Secret Machines, Angels & Airwaves, Neko Case, Matisyahu and John Parr.

I’m in the happy position of having got Springsteen tickets – the gig sold out in eight minutes from what I’ve read and, not that I’m selling, they’re going for about €500 a pair on eBay. Just wanted to brag.

A quick mention for what’s coming up in this space, though:

As I’ve said before, I have one or two projects in the works that I can’t talk about because I don’t want to jinx them. As soon as I can, though, I am thinking of devoting some time to a little bit of self-promotion and maybe some ideas about where to take them.

In the next two weeks, my best buddy is moving to France. This is the end of an era, as I’ve pretty much been hanging out with him a couple of times a week since we were 13. Needless to say this deserves some sort of tribute, possibly including some stories that will embarrass the h-word out of us both. Alternatively it’ll be stories that are only funny if you’re one of us. We’ll see.

More rumoured Pearl Jam dates, by the way. August 22nd, The Point, Dublin. That’s it. This is on the Pearl Jam forums, and is just a rumour. Even the guy who posted them originally says it comes from a Dutch concert promoter friend of his, and is NOT CONFIRMED. I’m just doing my part for irresponsible gossip.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for the moment. I’ve gotta go send a load of e-mails now, but I’ll be back with more later this week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Reality TV Breakdown

Okay, I’m done. After years and years of decrying reality TV, I’ve finally succumbed. And in the most unlikely of places.

Let me give you some background first. I hate – or at least hated – reality TV in all its forms. I can’t see the attraction of watching minor celebrities redecorate your house, or watching people try to sell a house or buy a house or emigrate or lose weight or find a date or even put up with each other in a confined space. I just can’t. I could make three exceptions – ‘The Real World’ (though I didn’t follow it, I could appreciate it), ‘Cheaters’ (I can’t explain this, as the idea of infidelity actually makes my stomach turn) and any ‘E! True Hollywood Story’ involving basically anyone who was famous in the eighties. That’s it. I don’t count stuff like ‘Mythbusters’ or the ESPN stuff like ‘The Life’, ‘The Season’ or ‘Timeless’. I know I’m a hypocrite. Don’t even write in on that one.

I also hate LivingTV. In fairness to them, they have shown some great shows – ‘Veronica Mars’, ‘Boston Legal’, ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ and the hugely under-appreciated ‘Life As We Know It’ – but mainly it’s ‘Will & Grace’, ‘Charmed’, ‘Queer Eye’ and a truly ridiculous number of shows about weight loss and psychics. They did a commercial for the channel describing who they believe their average viewer is, showing a strong, independent, friendly, professional, romantic woman. Looking through the lineup you can’t help but feel that it’s really someone who does precisely what their horoscope tells them, chooses a weight loss program solely on the basis of celebrity endorsement and has had a conversation about which ‘Friends’ character they most relate to.

(If I had a libel lawyer he’d be having palpitations about now. So let’s just move on.)

Anyway, with all that in mind, I’m still wondering what possessed me to watch ‘The Starlet’ on Tuesday night, and how in the h-word did I enjoy it?

While we’re here, ‘h-word’ (and so on) is my new way of swearing in this column. That way I can say "I f-wording love that Killers video" or "Ashlee Simpson p-words me off" without offending anyone. Except Ashlee Simpson.

Let’s be clear on this too – this wasn’t one of those compromise shows that I watch because my wife likes it and I’m building up brownie points for an upcoming hockey game. She wasn’t even there. I turned this on and watched it on purpose. And honestly? I was riveted.

The premise is pretty simple. 10 girls, all aspiring actresses trying to outdo each other and not get voted off. Every week there’s an acting challenge where they recreate a scene from a TV show or movie, and then the judges decide which one has to go home. The winner gets a contract with a management company and a recurring part on ‘One Tree Hill’.

The choice of girls is phenomenal, too – just about every aspiring actress stereotype is represented perfectly. In fact, let’s take a run through them. There’s the plucky Midwestern girl who moved to Hollywood to become an actress, the Not-Just-A Model (who’s also the token black girl), the former Beauty Pageant contestant, the stand-up comedienne, the community theatre actress, the prettiest girl in school. It’s like ‘The Breakfast Club’ with an all-girl cast and set in the school in ‘Fame’. It’s great how everyone has an agenda too – the comedienne thinks that the prettiest girls are getting favouritism, the beauty queen thinks that nobody takes her seriously because she’s so pretty, the model thinks the same and I think we’re about two weeks out from a ‘white girls get all the good roles’ rant. We can only hope.

Classic moments? Plenty to choose from. As much as I liked the class on ‘How To Cry On Cue’ – which was taught by the woman who taught Brad Pitt to cry, by the way; and the assorted comments of an exceptionally b-wordy nature, I’m going to have to go with this one. Towards the end, the girl who looks like a cross between Molly Ringwald and the daughter from ‘Grounded For Life’ started talking back to Faye Dunaway (all round legend and one of the judges), prompting general outrage from Vivica A. Fox (another judge). When it came time to decide who was going on, the judges were keeping up the suspense by talking about the ‘attitude problems’ that the girl they were sending home. Anyway, judging by the response on Molly Ringwald II’s face, I’m surprised she didn’t have to be physically restrained. Even when it turned out not to be her she still looked like she thought they were talking about her and at that point someone actually did have to stop her from storming off. Good times.

All in all, it was a good solid hour of TV, though I can’t believe I just opted to spend 800 words on that rather than ‘Sleeper Cell’ (which was on an hour later). Will I be tuning in again? Yes I will. And not only that but Lisa Loeb is going on the pull for the E! Channel, and chances are, I’ll watch that, too.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Loose ends

Before we start, a quick hello and welcome to all the new people joining us. Thanks to a mention on RTÉ 2FM’s Rick O’Shea Show (music for grown ups, weeknights 10pm-Midnight. You’re welcome, Rick), the daily readership of this space is now more than 10 times what it was. It also now regularly includes my mum. Hello, Mum!

Looking out the window this morning and I think – at the risk of jinxing it and starting some torrential rain – it’s finally spring. Blue skies, birds singing, the car alarm down the street going off incessantly (during the day now, as well as at night) – what more could you ask for?

You might remember a couple of weeks ago (and if you don’t, scroll down) I wrote about Theo Fleury and what seemed to be his last days with the Belfast Giants. He said it himself, that he would never play in the league again. Well, I went to Saturday night’s game against the Edinburgh Capitals, and to my great surprise and delight, there he was, number 14 himself. I didn’t realise it at first – we were later than usual and were only taking our seats when they were making the player introductions. My wife’s reaction was priceless – "That guy’s tiny! Is he on a junior team?" Theo’s listed as 5 foot 6. Anyway, it was great to see him playing. What happened, I don’t know – between the suspensions, the verbal abuse and the physical intimidation of officials, I wasn’t expecting to see him play again, but not only did he skate (and rack up two assists) but he seemed to be enjoying himself, and every seemed to enjoy him being there. What the heck – it was good to see the guy.

That’s not to say that the previous altercations didn’t seem to have had any effect – the tradition of booing the visiting team’s goals has been abandoned and the game was a lot less physical than I expected – there were maybe four penalties served and all were obstructions (hooking and the like). I think someone’s given Theo a good talking to. Whether or not this means all is forgiven and he’ll be back next year is still pretty much anyone’s guess.

While we’re here, this also marks the fourth consecutive time that I’ve been approached before the game by a first-time attendee looking for reassurance that they’re going to have fun, and for any advice I can impart. And seeing as I love a good column gimmick, I’m going to put one together. Of course, I’m not doing it for another couple of months (I know – I’m such a tease) because the season’s over, and by October you’ll probably have forgotten all this. Plus I need time to argue about it in the pub.

You’ve probably noticed by now that a certain Seattle band hasn’t been mentioned today. As much fame and notoriety as I achieved last week as a result of the speculation, I’ve been publicly berated for redirecting people to The Fake Dates – so notorious are they among Pearl Jam fans that they’ve actually been given capital letters. So rather than incurring the wrath of a) angry Pearl Jam fans who are [bleep]ed off that The Fake Dates were circulated in the first place and b) angry Green Day fans (or Coldplay fans, or Killers fans or insert-name-of-cool-band-du-jour fans) who are [bleep]ed off that I would dare suggest that anyone other than their favourite band would play Slane, I’m just going to leave it be. If there are any more solid announcements – or even more credible rumours – about the Slane concert or an Irish Pearl Jam date, I will post them here as soon as I hear them.

I love live music. I really do. I can’t pass up a good gig. I’ve got my tickets for Nada Surf in Whelans and Death Cab in Brixton Academy, and Lollapalooza is on my All Time ‘to-do’ list. Any editors out there who want to send someone to Chicago this year, by the way… well, my e-mail’s on the right. I also love Pearl Jam – I think they’re one of the most solid rock acts of my lifetime. ‘Ten’ is one of my all time favourite albums and I’ll argue well into the night that it’s a better album than ‘Nevermind’. I frequently poke fun at Eddie Vedder – I can’t help but feel he has a chip on his shoulder about almost everything, and even though I admire the ‘no more videos’ policy, every once in a while I wish they’d make another so that MTV2 would stop playing ‘Jeremy’. While we’re here, who wants to argue over what’s the better ‘guns in school’ song – ‘Jeremy’, or ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’? Didn't think so.

Anyway, this is why I do this, or why I do anything – I’m going to spend my summer watching baseball without really understanding it, and I’m going to take in as much music as I can, too, without being able to play so much as ‘Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star’ on the guitar that’s been gathering dust in the corner behind my chair. If Pearl Jam play here, and I’m in a position to get a ticket, I’m going. If Slane is good, and I’m in a position to get a ticket, I’m going. If the stars align and that’s all the same thing, all the better.