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Archive for May, 2002

The White Stripes – White Blood Cells

May 15th, 2002


Two Bad Ass White Kids

In the mood for some good old fashioned new wave garage rock revivalism? White Blood Cells, the third album from the duo the White Stripes is the perfect summer soundtrack for tearing up suburbia in a rusty tank car in the blistering sun. With Meg White on drums and Jack White on lead vocals, and guitar, their raw, tinny sans a bass sound and quirky lyrics recall their great predecessors the Kinks and Led Zeppelin. The White Stripes breathe a refreshing breath into the alt-rock scene by dropping the “alt.”
Read more…

By Tiffany Kelly Posted in Reviews

What the Heck is “Emo” Anyway?

May 8th, 2002

Part I

“If you could feel the pain in my heart, I wouldn’t have to sing this song.”

The Music

When I first moved to Philadelphia to go to art school, I spent a couple of weekends riding around in a car in New Jersey with a bunch of indie-rock kids blasting music, which is where I first heard of “emo.” For me, emo has a strong connection with the New Jersey area, because it seems like everyone who comes out of N.J. into the city is either punk, emo or hardcore (which are all pretty closely-related). Emo fans in the Delaware Valley would agree with me, but it can’t be denied that other influential bands like Jimmy Eat World come from Arizona, and Weezer comes from L.A. (Yes, I said Weezer…though their association is sometimes questioned.) Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features

Show Me the Mosh Pit?

May 7th, 2002

That’s what you should expect when you come to a show, interjects the 15-year old girl next to me with pigtails. Or at least that’s what I understand her to say while being assaulted by sneakers and elbows of crowd-surfing pre-teens at the more than disappointing Saves the Day concert last month at the Electric Factory. She felt I was being unreasonable for getting angry that, even during the sappy, slow songs, no one could stand up, much less enjoy the music, without getting trampled, squished, or having kids hurled from every direction. I got to thinking, “Wow, am I too old for this?” After catching a few too many feet to the head – perhaps because I was one of the oldest, hence tallest, people present – I decided that this concert (not show) was perhaps the most unnecessarily violent spectacle of unchecked hormones I have ever been witness to. Since when has the whiney “she left me” type songs of Saves the Day ever been anything to punch a complete stranger about? Read more…

By Tiffany Kelly Posted in Features

What the Heck is “Emo” Anyway?

May 5th, 2002

Andy helped to explain some of these categories: “Emo-punk: emotional pop-punk. All these bands are on the radio; bands like New Found Glory and Saves The Day, they’re emotional pop-punk. They’re the ones with more of a poppy, happier sound to them. Emo core and screamo is the mixture of hardcore and emo with a lot of screaming and heavy riffs and everything, with really slow emotional breakdowns.”

So, the simple definition is that emo is a genre of independent rock that came from punk and hardcore, and was named for it’s semi-ironic emotional content through hard-hitting guitar and vocals. Weezer among others helped define the look (reluctantly…more on that in Part II), and the Get Up Kids among others helped define the sound.

Michael Verzella tries to make the distinction clear though: “Remember that Weezer is indie rock. [The Get Up Kids] had a softer sound, which was why everyone started calling it emo. It has a style that’s similar, yet different.” He calls their first EP, “All-Stars” (especially the song “Woodsen”), the defining moment of emo.

So while Weezer may not actually be emo, they somehow gave it the trendy look it has today, though they might kill me—or themselves—for saying it. And as for the Get Up Kids, says Andy: “[they] probably wouldn’t want to be called emo. In fact…their new album is more of this classicy-rock kind of feel. And I really don’t like it, it’s horrible, but I think they’re just realizing the same thing everybody else is: that emo’s becoming such a trend and they want to try and do something different.”

Part II
Part III Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features

The Merit of the Loop(er)

May 5th, 2002

A man stands on a colorful stage. The only things before him are an eager audience, his guitar, a microphone, and an array of foot pedals, buttons, and dials. He begins by tapping out a rhythm on the top of his guitar, which repeats with the press of a button. He then picks a few simple notes, which also begin to repeat at the next measure. Next comes a more complex melody, then more robust strumming in the lower ranges. Each new element loops itself, falling into place over the parts before it, like well-placed puzzle pieces. He begins to sing, and unlike the other sounds his voice soars above the composition, verse to chorus, standing out above the deeply layered song. Once in a while a vocal note will echo, resonating into the next few words. Under this the other elements are changed and shifted. When the singing halts, the unified sounds of the guitar seem to sing by themselves. Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features

The Merit of the Loop(er) Page 2

May 5th, 2002

It is a form of electronic performance that creates new rules, shaking some foundations of basic musical performance. Before live-looping, a sample was something integrated into a song long before a musician took the stage, it was never created and used on the spot during the actual performance. It also makes live composition somewhat more accessible, as an artist can pause without playing while his music still goes on, and manipulate it differently for every performance, or create something new out of the elements he or she pieces together.

Live-looping is nothing new, in fact its rich history goes back to the middle of the 20th century. It began when musicians rigged together tape recorders in a way that allowed them to record sound on one, and then play it back immediately on another. This opened up a world of possibility for live performance, and began a movement for solo artists to experiment with. Brian Eno and Robert Fripp added an electric guitar, volume pedals, a wah-wah, and more. Fripp went on to rename his similar set-up “Frippertronics,” which helped inspire a newer generation of live-loopers and is also credited with creating a strong association between the samplers and the guitar, more so than any other instrument.

Now decades later, artists are becoming inspired and influenced by this style of performance, though their styles remain uniquely different. Tim Reynolds (from Dave Matthews Band) seems to use live-looping mostly as an embellishment for his acoustic shows, his skilled and dreamlike guitar playing uses some sampling to enhance and echo certain moments in the performance. While to the ears Tim Reynolds is certainly a solo artist, his music sounds like it’s been mixed down and effects have been added to it, though this is only the samplers at work.

Joe Preston, formerly of the Melvins, went on to create a band he calls the Thrones. The Thrones are always introduced plurally, although for the most part it is only Preston and his instruments. His band mates, these electronic devices, are considered as much a part of the act as any human would be. Using a double necked guitar and an array of samplers, his sound is dark, slow, and rather moody…much like the soundtrack to a morbid video game. It is in bold contrast to Day, whose music is comparatively more poppy, yet still maintains a moody and alternative feel. Unlike Preston, who uses his talent to sound like one man playing with ambient music in a studio, Day chooses to sound like a full band playing live. None of these artists actually are how they sound though, and that is the beauty of live-looping.

As more musicians discover live-looping, no doubt it will one day be popular enough that the music industry will exploit it. Until then, artists are making names for themselves by using the method to appear unique, original, and talented…though not without merit.

Read a review of The Madrigals E.P. at MXDWN.com here.
Watch Howie Day use looping on the song “Sorry So Sorry” at www.howieday.com.

Resources:
live-looping and its history: livelooping.com
Community of Loopers:
www.loopersdelight.com
Howie Day: www.howieday.com
Tim Reynolds: www.timreynolds.com
The Thrones: www.killrockstars.com/bands/thrones/ Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features