The Olden Days, When This Site Still Called Itself Unbelievably Retarded

Thursday, December 30, 2004


First off, I forgot to give props to top40.about.com's top-hundred-CD's article last night, considering it's from About.com and it's way too mainstream for my liking.  I would have covered it, but there were sixty-two (that's right, 62, you're not reading that incorrectly) links in last night's article and I do have more of a life than to waste eight more minutes for article #63.  Note that these sixty-two links are about three-quarters of what would have been covered last night had I included every article I came across that was usable for this compendium.  I'm that stupid, yes.

All-Baseball.com/Will Carroll Presents... | There's something about this list (about television this time) that makes up for WCP's rather redundant foray into music journalism.  That thing, by the way, is the inclusion of shows like Cheap Seats and My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss in a top-ten list.  I wish that kind of decision-making was applied to WCP's music article, 'cause mainstream music (and much of the "underground" music scene, to be honest) doesn't seem to embrace dark horses anymore.  At least television still has those under-the-radar phenomena that become popular and/or embraced because people like what they're watching as opposed to the mix of hype and personal tastes that wafts around popular music like like a fog.

By the way, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development are two of the most overrated shows I've seen this year.  I don't understand why people are so gaga over the shows as if they could save situation comedy from itself just by being funnier than Everybody Loves Raymond.  Also, Eco-pons.

Florida Sun-Sentinel | Just like a woman to recommend emotional dramas and romantic comedies.  I'm not sexist, by the way, for those ready to whip out the Oxygen Card at me.  Still, this woman seems to be an apologist for romantic comedies that do poorly at the box office, as if critical adoration is supposed to translate into commercial box-office success just like that.  Uh, sometimes the audience isn't wrong, you know.  I can't stand people who tell me what I should like anyway.

BallerStatus.net | I can't get past the fact that somebody thought BallerStatus was a great name for a website, or that it's Google-accredited as a news source.  I don't care how good this article is, the site's called BallerStatus for shit's sake!  Hell, the name's worse than Unbelievably Retarded!  I should know as I am the king of bad names.

BBC News | Another article on how digital music players (specifically the iPod) are the epitome of "cool" these days.  Look, I don't own a digital music player.  They're still way too expensive and don't have the functionality to play any formats besides MP3, AAC and/or Windows Media Audio.  Also, using the .wma format is just wrong considering that format's rather mediocre for music anyway.  Let me know when there's a digital music player on the market that's less than $50 and plays Ogg Vorbis files, mmmkay?

Washington Post | This somehow escaped the Registration Gestapo of the Washington Post SS.  The band being covered is Chromeo and the hipster-speak seems to genuflect toward these guys playing some sort of throwback dance music with weak guitar riffs and sub-G-Love-&-Special-Sauce "rapping."  I don't understand why being so self-consciously dorky is considered a good thing in music these days, but then I'm the one considered to have terrible music tastes.  Maybe it's me.

City Pulse (Michigan) | Local best-of music rundown from Lansing, Michigan (I assume.)  The writing's full of that self-important wankery that befalls some music writers, but at least the paper's doing its part to promote its local music scene.  Still, all that hyperbole - this is the sort of thing I'm supposed to be emulating?  How the hell can people bullshit like this and still feel proud of their work?  So much shilling, man, it hurts my brain a little bit.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Hawaii) | Hawaiian music top-ten from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.  Nice to see the Hawaiians appreciate their culture while not flowering up the music descriptions to the point of unreadability.  Hawaiian music will never be my thing but at least someone's trying to spread knowledge of the local music culture there.  The paper's like a no-bullshit version of City Pulse.

Box Office Prophets | Reviews of Three Punk DVD's, as the byline reads.  Self-explanatory, yes, but you should care about this article as it's more punk than you are.  OI! OI! OI!

Metro Santa Cruz (California) | It's nice to see someone include Metallica: Some Kind of Monster in a best-of, but is the reviewer including this because he sees metal musicians as dumbass macho mullet types until proven sensitive or is he looking at the film objectively?  I haven't seen this film, but it seems to come up in best-ofs now and then and I'm curious to know if this is more than a music DVD gone "legit."  Not that I like Metallica, of course.

New York Press | My favourite article of the year.  It's about the College Music Awards, which sounds like one of the worst awards shows ever if J.R. Taylor's description of it is any indication.  It's sponsored by the US Navy, which makes about as much sense as naming a serious urban music site BallerStatus.  Incorrigible.

Phillippine Star | Usher's #1 on the Billboard charts, but this article at least runs down the top twenty albums and singles sold in North America during the December 2003-November 2004 time period.  Unfortunately, I also get to look at Usher's abs.  Yeah, it's his singing that sold 7.1 million copies, riiiight...

PopMatters Best-Of Lists Tim O'Neil Matt Cibula Stefan Braidwood | Top-ten/best-of lists/articles from PopMatters music critics, which are all entertaining despite the differing tastes and the feeling I get that Matt Cibula might be a bit of a dick.  Still, the site doesn't make me want to eat half a human head Tora-style (I dare you to get that reference) like most of the other mainstream-oriented music sites I visit, and that's saying something.

Pulse of the Twin Cities (Minnesota) | The year in Twin Cities hip-hop.  Apparently there's a hip-hop scene in Minneapolis/St. Paul, which isn't all that surprising considering hip-hop's mainstream popularity and positive-image spin.  Now a death metal scene in Minneapolis, wouldn't that be something?  If memory serves me correctly, AmRep noise rock was big there for a while.  What's the big trend in Minnesota now, anyway?  I'm hoping not a shitty one.

Pulse of the Twin Cities | A review of a bog-standard alt-rock CD.  I've covered Tom Hallett's work before and I'm not exactly fond of the man's ranting-for-500-pages reviewing style.  Still, at least the man's telling it like it is, which is what an arts reporter/columnist should do.  Hallett needs to actually swallow his Xanax, though, 'cause his columns read like a fifteen-year-old who has just discovered meth.

Newark Star Ledger (New Jersey) | The usual fawning-over-critically-acclaimed-albums top-ten dross with the world's most fawning headline.  Wow, rock still has edge?  Next you're going to tell me grass is green.  You're crazy, man.

The Scotsman | Worst scenes in Scottish film, huh?  Okay article, I guess, but considering Mrs. Doubtfire is on the list I can hardly call the article great.  When these newspapers do a best/worst-of, they usually come up with a few choices that make absolutely no sense.  I wouldn't even call Mrs. Doubtfire Scottish just because Robin Williams is using Generic English Accent #4 throughout the film.  I mean, The Scotsman's got a Haggis Hunt contest going on and there's a platypus as a mascot!  Who's less Scottish now, ya punters?!

Seattle Weekly | Mix-tape article covering the "best" of the Seattle music scene in 2004.  No points for guessing that the paper works in a reference to Modest Mouse, but it's all indie-oriented and this article probably won't appeal to non-Seattle music fans anyway.  Still, Sub Pop's absent from this list and that ain't not bad.

Stuff.co.nz (New Zealand) | Jane Bowron's article devolves into a bunch of personal best-ofs five seconds in, but that's okay.  I like anecdotes about television and these are great, especially the one about fifteen drunken Santas punching motorists in the face.  It's stuff you can't make up in a million years.

Can somebody make a .wmv file of this incident?  I'm being totally serious here, I want to see this.

The Trades (Oregon) | Best/worst-of article from what I assume is an Oregon trade magazine.  The best-ofs are lame, but the worst-ofs are worth a read.  I know, my negativity again.  Give me a break, I'm not going to kiss Green Day's ass just because critics like American Idiot.  You know me better than that.

Village Voice "We'll Always Have Paris" Michael Atkinson's Top 10 List | I know I'm just glossing over The Village Voice's output.  I just don't like the paper's style of criticism, rife as it is with American "indie" love and that unwritten law that if a film isn't meant for the well-meaning arthouse crowd, it ain't worth shit in a handbasket.  Really, I've seen these types of film wonks in person.  They're generally (keep in mind this is a generalization) dead between the eyes and/or trying to fit in with the "in" crowd.

Richard Linklater's a god now, by the way.  You should know that, peon.

Up & Coming Magazine (North Carolina) | Top five DVD list.  No surprise that Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King grabs top spot, even though four DVD's of Peter Jackson worship does seem kind of excessive.  People like excess these days for some reason.  I blame greed.

Warwick Beacon (Rhode Island) | Strictly middle-of-the-road best-of list from a Rhode Island newspaper.  Nothing exciting to report, I'm afraid.

Detroit News | Standard date-by-date rundown of pop cultural news happenings during 2004, but whenever I see that headline I'm always thinking of some terrible CBS soap-opera commercial where some voiceover guy is whispering "[INSERT CRAPPY SOAP HERE] is turning up the HEAT" while shirtless himbos kissing aged bimbos appear on screen in soft-focus lighting.  That isn't good when I liken a newspaper article to a soap-opera commercial.  Man, headline writers must be too bored to work for their jobs these days, eh?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


First off, thanks to the guy at No Rock'n'Roll Fun for giving me a post promoting this little compendium.  I always appreciate publicity.  Anyone who doesn't, granted, is a liar and isn't trying hard enough to impress people, but still.

Also, I've had Avant crash no less than five times today while doing this post.  I know it's asking a lot of a browser to parse thirty-six articles at a time, but it can do the job.  Still, there's so much JavaScript to parse with these things.  I swear Sun Microsystems is going to kill my patience yet.

Cleveland Plain Dealer | There's something about the term "wardrobe malfunction" that I can't stand and anyone using it is doomed to have a lame writing style.  Still, this reviewer redeemed himself by recommending Toots and the Maytals.  About time people gave a toss about that band.

Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio) | This actually isn't a bad review of the 2004 music year.  It's nothing unexpected, granted, but at least someone finally admitted that this Franz Ferdinand/Interpol etc. thing is part of a hipster-oriented trend.  I was waiting for someone else besides me to say that.

Grand Rapids Press (Michigan) | Standard bit of best-of blather.  I've been saying for years that Relapse has become as much a major indie label as Century Media and Nuclear Blast, and now there are certain mainstream music critics that are slobbering all over Mastodon's Leviathan.  Everyone that ignored me before needs to apologize to me now.  I know most of you see me as the well-meaning but "ugly" man, but you listened to and followed the pretty liars and got burnt.  You got exactly what you deserved.

Boston Globe | I thought Ty Burr's article was awesome - mainstream-oriented it is, yes, but the article's fairly well-written and at least the man seems honest enough in his selections.  He also doesn't give away his political bent like a lesser journalist would, chastizing both Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ for being too didactic.  This man isn't a god (no man is), but he knows his article isn't a bully pulpit for his political stands either.  I'm glad this man is doing his job.  It's all I ask for.

Boston Globe | Concert sales down, album sales up - and you people thought file-sharing was going to be the death of the industry.  It amazes me that some people see a benign thing like file-sharing as more malevolent than it really is, but at least it gives hope to the people who claim(ed) that music sales were (and are, long-term) softening because music was/is, as a whole, stagnating.  It isn't, really, but there are always going to be people who believe the "it's on a major label so it's better than this local band's product" fallacy.  I'd go deeper into this but, y'know, time constraints.

JAM!/Canoe/Toronto Sun | Bog-standard 2004 rundown.  Note the mention of William Hung, the Yoko Ono of this generation (well, minus John Lennon's endorsement anyway.)  HE SUCKS, IT'S AMUSING!  Just goes to show that anyone can release anything and become a cottage industry in oneself with the right spin.  I know people are saying he's being manipulated by his father, but I don't think Hung is that stupid considering Ashlee Simpson exists and has the same amount of talent.  ZING!

Denver Post | Jazz rundown of 2004.  I admire this article simply for mentioning John Zorn.  Jazz music always seems to be less trend-oriented than pop music.

Denver Post | Tip for Richard Baca: dividing your list into top ten national and local lists becomes a little redundant when Touch & Go, a regional indie distributed nationally, has a pick in the "national" column and Alternative Tentacles (also a regional indie and national distributor) has two picks in the "local" column.  The same general conceit seems to have affected Elana Ashanti Jefferson as well and it's really gay.  How am I supposed to take you two seriously when you're doing something like this?

East Valley Tribune (Arizona) | HBO is a maverick cable network?  What?  Are you on crack?

I know it's lazy of me (lazy being a relative term in this case), but instead of linking to Indianapolis Star's entertainment section, I'll just highlight the film and pop music subsections.  I thought the articles were good, and it cuts the time spent writing this article to four hours and fifty-five minutes.  Yes, I do take that long to write blog articles sometimes.

Sunday Herald (UK) | Mercury Prize winners, feted both sides of the pond, is there no end to the achievements of Glasgow’s greatest pop export?  Of course there's an end to Franz Ferdinand's achievements.  Quit worshipping false gods, guys.

Miami Herald | I like Evelyn McDonnell's honesty.  Her reach is too mainstream for my tastes but at least she puts herself and her tastes on the table like she should.  Is doing this too much for some critics?  Man.

Chicago Sun-Times | Roots music rundown.  I can't really make fun of it considering I'm not a roots music fan, but roots music people are generally more decent writers than pop music writers.  This article is entertaining enough if you like that sort of music.

Chicago Sun-Times | See above, but for the blues genre.

London Free Press (Ontario) | Local rundown of London, Ontario's top ten albums of 2004.  Kittie's on here, but don't hold that against James Reaney.  He's at least doing his job, which is all I can really ask of music critics.

Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky) | Is it just me, or is my brain so addled by doing this article that I consider this man's putting Steve Earle at #1 on his top-ten list a brave gesture?  Still, he seems to be the only one to do that so far so he seems more credible than 90% of the music critics I tend to talk about here.  Man, this is a long article isn't it?  Oy.

San Jose Mercury News | Jamie Foxx is a breakout star?  I want some of that crack so I can be as deluded as Charlie McCollum.

Metro West Daily News (Massachusetts) | Why is it the standard "metal reviewer" here likes the likes of Killswitch Engage and Slipknot?  Can't we be a little more imaginative than that?  Then again, he does write for the Boston Herald...

The Age | Melbourne, Australia live-show rundown.  Hilltop Hoods are going to reach the North American mainstream by 2005-06, mark my words.  Also, note how big The Flaming Lips have become these days.  Who would've guessed?

New York Daily News | iPods and mash-ups are the two biggest music trends of 2004 according to the Daily News.  One's a fad and the other has been around since forever under different names.  I'm not saying any more, you'll have to figure this out for yourself.

More constraining for time: since I can't be arsed to comment on everything I read here, here are some links from the New York Post (music videos; film) and the Northwest Indiana News/Munster Times (film; music.)  I'm not too fond of these two papers so it's better to lump them like this than to give each article a summary/comment.  It's only unfair, right?

Chicago Sun-Times | Latin music rundown.  I'm not familiar with the genre at all, so I can't comment on this.  You know I've been at this for two hours now?  It's true!

Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) | Standard A&E best-of with Janet Jackson's NIP SLIP at #1, to the surprise of no one.  No wonder this paper's called the Quad-City Redundancy.  That's an in-joke that I know only three people will ever get besides me.

Rocky Mountain News (Colorado) | Mainstream-oriented best-of list/rundown of the year with a scary amount of Prince worship.  There should be a law limiting the amount of ass one should kiss when dealing with The Man Born to the Purple.

San Diego Union-Tribune/SignOnSanDiego.com | I know the Quad-City Redundancy had its own "quotes of 2004" selection, but this article is of a better quality than Quad-City's lumpen mass of shite.  It doesn't have any furshlugginer Sex and the City quotes, either.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | This might be an intelligent article, but what the hell happened to the parsing on this thing?  There are strikeouts everywhere and some of the sentences have been shot to hell.  Who proofread this?

Chicago Sun-Times | Another number-one for Steve Earle.  He seems to be one of the few people on the top-ten lists that deserves the spots he gets.  The man is simply beyond trends.

The Japan Times | Here is the definitive list -- albeit a bit fuzzy (it's been a tough few weeks of pre-Christmas partying) -- of the best albums of 2004. I wish there were more Japanese bands here...  It's your list, man, you're not obligated to list The Libertines ya know.  Sort of sad that Japanese hipster favourites take a back seat here to overplayed North American hipster favourites, but I can only do so much to stop this trend.

Seattle Times | This man thinks the music business is in a slump but concerts were fantastic.  Why, then, are album sales up but concert ticket sales way down?  Answer me that, Admiral Butthead.

Toledo Blade (Ohio) Music DVD | I think the Toledo Blade is one of the better newspapers out there covering the arts and I want you to read these two articles to see why I think this.  I'm surprised the writing's this good at the Toledo Blade, honestly.  Expect the unexpected!  CARDCA...sorry, my bad.

TV Barn | TV Barn's best of 2004.  The previous sentence said it all, really, but anyone who gives Amish in the City a best-of nod has more balls than almost anyone else out there.

Redlands Daily Facts (California) | The title of this article refers to animation.  This man's best-of includes one animated feature.  Methinks the title of the article should have been thought through a little more.

Canoe/Edmonton Sun | Best paragraph of 2004: Saying there's no good music being made is like complaining about makin' out: a good experience is entirely dependent on how much work you're willing to put in. So, yes, if you get all your discs from the radio and major-label-push axis, it's been an abysmal year: lacking creativity, mainly derived from the decade-plus-old sounds of grunge, hot country and gangsta rap, with a slight mainstream lean towards the whole White Stripes-Hives thing. This is hardly the entire story, of course...

You are my new hero, Fish Griwkowsky.


Ladies and gentlemen, that was just December 26's output.  I'm not done yet.  This is easily the most lengthy marathon run I've ever done and I don't intend to do this again.  What kind of idiots release these articles on Boxing Day, anyway?  Don't worry, the official cut-off time for this article is 8:00 AM on December 28, 2004.  I'm crazy but not overly so.

Anyway, let's start with December 25's output...wait, there were no articles on December 25 worth worrying about...screw it, here are some links I saved that day plus yesterday's jackpot wad and this morning's headlines.  Why do I do this?

AlterNet | Worst journalistic practices of 2004 (link from Fimoculous.)  Not including, of course, some of what I've just linked to.

Edison Research | Link from Fimoculous.  Hint: the songs that made a difference in 2004 are ones that set radio trends.  This simple list never changes its formula no matter what year it is.

The Onion A.V. Club The Year in Swag Cheap Toy Roundup | I link these because my favourite top-10/best-of list, the Least Essential Albums of 2004, doesn't seem to exist yet.  If The Onion A.V. Club stopped writing these articles, why?  Even these two articles can't fill the void left by that feature, fellas.  Now I have no reason to even read The Onion A.V. Club.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | Blech, another #1 for Usher.  Methinks this critic is a rap fan, and a mainstream one to boot.  I just hope he's not white.

Webuser (UK) | Happiness in Magazines by Graham Coxon was named best music release of the year by Amazon.co.uk.  Okay, I'm glad Amazon.co.uk picked a relatively obscure musician for its best-of #1 pick but really, that's just scary.

antiMUSIC.com | Ooh, some just-hired wonk from antiMUSIC references a bunch of mainstream shit and calls it a "year in review!"  Watch as he takes a broad stab at blogs and Janet Jackson!  Wow!  What shitty writing!  What attitude!  What's next?

Centre Daily Times (Pennsylvania)/AP | Tellingly, both movie critics referenced here don't write for the Centre Daily Times.  Somehow, I'm not surprised.

CNN.com | "The best albums" I "didn't hear," eh?  I've heard of Isis, Tegan & Sara and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists.  Still, I haven't heard any of the albums mentioned in Tyson Lex Wheatley's list so the man's technically right.  Wow, he must be psychic and shit.

Daily Yomiuri (Japan) | Standard mainstream-oriented "favourite web sites of 2004" article, although I haven't been to Radio Locator before so this article was fairly useful.

icNewcastle (UK) | This is the first list I can remember this year where someone actually refers to Kelis.  Was that "MY MILKSHAKE BRINGS ALL THE BOYS TO THE YARD" song released this year?  If so, why would I even want to listen to her album if I can't even stomach that single?  Really...

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Denver Post | Music DVDs are becoming big business these days.  Considering I can't swing a cat without hitting a music DVD by now, colour me unsurprised.  With mini-reviews!

San Jose Mercury News | We meet again, Mr. Kava.  I want you to give me ONE...MILLION...DOLLARS.

The Republican (Massachusetts) | This man's reviewed 250 albums this year and has culled his top 10 from those 250.  Standard list, but at least this gives you an idea of how narrow these lists are considering these people don't even scratch the surface of the music scene to begin with.

New York Post | Magazine reviews.  Spin's artist of the year is Kanye West, while Modest Mouse is Spin's band of the year.  I'm not surprised, but does this mean Spin is alternative again or is the mag just hopping aboard new trends?  My money's on the latter.

Vancouver Province | Article about Zulu Records.  It's nice to see the store covered, and the top-ten of one employee has Einsturzende Neubauten in that list, but there's somewhat of a hipster snobbery to this article.  Makes sense - I'm a music snob and so are the employees at Zulu Records.  I just hope they're not jerks in person, though.

The Scotsman (UK) | HMV has a Poll of Polls that combines every top-ten list from mainstream music critics and wads it into a top-twenty cobbler.  Kind of takes the dark-horse candidates completely out of the running, doesn't it?  Redundant.

San Diego Union-Tribune/SignOnSanDiego.com | Another best-of list.  The same choices.  Man, 2004 really is one of the dreariest years for mainstream music in recent memory, isn't it?

Belfast Telegraph (UK) | Article about the Scissor Sisters.  Blech.  What is so appealing about disco-rock fusion, anyway?  Is it the irony?  The camp?  Homosexual leanings, mayhaps?

Korea Herald (South Korea) | Ever want to know what's popular in South Korea?  After eighteen million articles of the same old same old, I do.  Apparently Korean film is a growing business, and wouldn't it be strange if I start importing Korean horror films to the American market?  It probably won't happen, but that film degree I'm working on better become useful by now or else...

Biloxi Sun Herald (Mississippi) | Pop-punk hit the big time this year?  Uh, is it 1994 again?  Pop-punk's been around and popular for damn near a decade, so I'm wondering where the truth in Jessie Weiss' statement is.  Still, she's a teen so I excuse her ignorance.

USA Today | U2 is #1 on USA Today's top-ten music list.  Yeah, I'm taking that seriously.  Gannett papers, can you ever take them seriously?

Detroit Free Press | 1. What's the point of this article?  2. Do you know how much this article sucks?  3. Is Julie Hinds even going to read this?  4. If she does, will she sue me or just insult me?


Saturday, December 25, 2004


One of the annoying things about the (subscription) tag at the end of certain papers Google News lists is the fact that some of the papers are so spotty about what they'll allow you to access.  I was going to include lists from the Anchorage Daily News as I could initially access the articles freely, but as soon as I got the registration screen I had to go through their convoluted registration process.  The process was so irritating that I have to give a big thumbs down to ADN for that reason.  There is no way that paper should be asking me to refine my personal data twice so they can appeal to "better" advertisers.  Merry Christmas to you too, dimwits.

New University Paper (UC Irvine, California) | This list has a date of November 29 but I'm including it here because it somehow floated to the 19?th spot during a Google search for best-of lists.  I'm just amazed the article made a comeback considering I haven't seen it before in the six days I've been doing this holiday compendium.  "Emily" likes Incubus, by the way.

Kansas City Star | Dig the play-on-words headline, it's real fine.  A rundown of 2004 from a Star music writer?  I thought the Star didn't exist considering I haven't seen anything actually from this paper until now.  Colour me shocked.  Apparently the paper did its best-ofs on December 9.  Why do people start with this shit at an earlier date every year?  Pretty soon, we'll be running down the year on July 12 and the networks will be saturated with reruns of Frosty Returns for three months.  Sheesh.

The Age | Another Age article, this one about technology.  It's all love for the Firefox browser this year, and I frankly have to admit I've bought into the hype as well.  The browser's as good as everyone says it is - well, it crashes sometimes for me, but then I put it through hell.  At least it isn't crashing every three seconds like Opera 6 did.

Scoop (New Zealand) | A Guns & Roses greatest hits collection was this country's number two seller this year?  Isn't it cheaper to just buy the few albums G&R released through used record shops?  Who the hell is still starved for G&R material at this point, anyway?

Chicago Sun-Times | Richard Roeper (i.e., Ebert's bitch) with his list of best and worst Christmas songs.  The man has no taste if he thinks Elvis' "Blue Christmas" is one of the worst Xmas songs ever - especially since he likes Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song."  Man, that song was funny in 1993 but it's so old-hat by now it's practically an institution.  I get it, Sandler's Jewish, let's move on.

Palm Beach Post (Florida) | Best of 2004 list on television.  Kevin Thompson likes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's Weekend Update team-up (and he's the only one who does) but he hates talking anteaters.  I don't get this man.  At least his column's decent, which is an amazing feat for a mutant aardvark.  It is!

Southern Voice Online | World music article highlighting two bands.  Personally, I never understood the appeal of Zap Mama but that's just me.  I'm not a world music fan at all, but I think I've heard the band and wasn't impressed with them.  Heh, the "cynicism" I display in these articles - they sure do make me look like a grinch, eh?

Newsday (NY) Country Top Ten (Glenn Gamboa) Top Ten (Rafer Guzman) Pop (Overview) | Newsday comes out with some articles and top tens that aren't too thrilling but hey, this is what mainstream music has wrought these days.  I prefer my music more under the radar than this.

Myrtle Beach Sun News (South Carolina) | The best outdoors books of 2004 - not my thing at all, but it's always nice to see Ted Nugent succeed in the literary world - well, as literary as a redneck gun nut like him can get, anyway.  The man is who he is.

Arizona Republic | "Top CDs bend rules, blend genres."  Oh, let's just fawn over these bands, eh?  Amazing how a man can write such piffle and not bend the rules when it comes to writing a best-of list.  By the way, Jimmy Buffett isn't even close to topping the country charts yet - though his continued existence as a musical entity stymies me.

Fimoculous.com | Some other site is doing what I'm doing and the site's been doing this for longer than I have.  Still, this site probably does it better than I do so I defer to Fimoculous' link-finding abilities.  Wonder if I'll show up on this site's trackbacks list.

Seattle Times | Tom Scanlon wonders if Death Cab For Cutie will blow up like Modest Mouse did.  You know they will, the band's only been overhyped for more than half a decade.  Why people think it's all sweetness and light for a local band to make it big I don't know.  Seattle's overrated as a music city anyway.

The Scotsman | See above, but replace Death Cab For Cutie with Sons & Daughters and/or Snow Patrol, Modest Mouse with Franz Ferdinand and Tom Scanlon with Fiona Shepherd and it's almost the same article as the one I mentioned above.  Music writers tend to move in lockstep with current trends.

CNNmoney/Reuters | Without a doubt, 2004 saw the debut of some great new products, like a cell phone that tracks blood sugar levels and digital music players that show how fast you run.  That's the beginning paragraph of an article about best and worst gadgets of 2004 and I immediately have to question why these two products are considered "great."  At least the Reuters people got it right questioning the existence of Scentstories.  Now that's a terrible product if ever there was one.

Chicago Tribune | Standard best-of from the writer of the Chicago-area top ten list featured in this blog.  I appreciate the effort, and I sense Greg Kot's at least trying to do something different with this list.  Still, it's sad that the only "metal" inclusion on this list is an Isis album.  I've never understood the appeal of Isis - it seems these indie/metal crossover bands file the edges off their music and impress the mainstream music critics when they do it.  Maybe I misunderstand the intentions of these bands.  I'm probably just an asshole, though - assholes like me have to question everything all the time.  It's such an annoying tic.

Canoe/JAM! Showbiz | A surprising nod to a band called The Concretes for JAM! Showbiz's album of the year, but the top-ten list is scuppered when Jon Cook throws up a bunch of crap about Sweden being the home of certain stereotypical things (IKEA, blondes, meatballs.)  Brilliant, dumbass.  Have you not heard of Swedish death metal or anything?  Man, music critics.

TMCnet.com | Finally, I finish this list with some GameSpot nods for Best Games of the Year.  Amazing how the one true surprise hit of the list (Katamari Damacy, WACKY AND JAPANESE YOU KNOW) has been totally made mainstream by now.  Doesn't matter, I don't play video game systems that often anyway.  I just can't see myself wasting thousands of dollars on this stuff.  Then again, I'm an unpopular Luddite by comparison.  Take from that what you will.

Friday, December 24, 2004


No time for chatter today, I've got a load of links to lay upon you.  Check it, bitch.

Orlando Sentinel | Great opening, good #1 choice for best live show of the year, then it devolves into the usual mediocre choices one expects from newspapers like this.  I love the fact that the columnists included Drowning Pool in their worst-of live show choices just because the band's Drowning Pool.  Professional columnists, indeed.  Someone actually got paid to be lazy, amazing.

Broward New Times (Florida) | Rob Harvilla starts the article thusly: Ever find yourself missing the word alternative as a concept, a signifier, a lifestyle?  No I haven't, Harvzilla.  I haven't missed alternative since I grew out of it around 1997-8.  "Alternative" was always a catch-all term for that self-consciously "weird" but still marketable lifestyle/music/etc. that appealed to middle-class people with suburban backgrounds and a fair bit of disposable income.  Now that term is reattached to the gay subculture, as it was and always should be.  I prefer to live in the now.

LA Weekly | Lists, lists, lists from LA Weekly's list issue.  I'd like to slap Greg Burk upside the head, though, for liking Yngwie Malmsteen in 2004.  Why anyone still cares about that wanky guitarsturbation expert is beyond me.  At least the Burk (me funy) is allowed to express his opinion, though, and liking W.A.S.P.'s The Neon God is a more courageous stance than what I've seen from 19 out of every 20 music critics at this point.

TampaBay.com | Bog-standard list with every predictable pick correct and present (aside from Sonic Youth being on this list - that's just wrong.)  I'll admit I have a thing for The Killers' "Somebody Told Me" but these lists could easily be written through a not-too-complicated HTML application.  Just wad some meaningless tosh in with some Javascript that randomizes names like Kanye West and Green Day and you're in business.  I wonder if 75% of the critical mass even exists, really.

The Age (Aust.) | A "Sticky Carpet" run-through of Australia's music scene in 2004.  How sad that the yobs are looking for the "new Jet."  The band's almost destined for one-hit-wonder status here and Australia's looking for the next band to cross over into North American shores.  Jet is destined to become the 2000's version of silverchair, honestly.  As long as it's not an Australian version of Usher that breaks through, though...

Christian Science Monitor | For some reason, I have no problem with this top-ten film list even though it's pretty mainstream by my standards.  Still, I like David Sterritt's writing so I excuse it.  He seems to mean well even though the choices on this list aren't too adventurous.

Slate | I'm not the jazz fan and I don't know who is among the people who read me.  Still, here's an article focusing on jazz, and because someone included a John Zorn album on this list I give the article an okay.  You can't fake a love for one of the more experimental jazz artists on the planet, you just can't.

East Bay Express (California) | Some guy (Harvzilla, again) talks about Jesus and how The Man-God is appropriated by bands for cheap shock value.  That'd be nice aside from Harv being a total fucking idiot about how he writes the article.  Isn't it funny how the man lists PM Dawn's Jesus Wept as a title being of cheap shock value when PM Dawn are one of the more Christian-oriented, spiritual rap duos out there?  D'oh!  Hey, Harvzilla, I write about a music that uses Jesus references for shock value all the time.  Man, I never thought I'd find a worse music critic than Ben Rayner but there he is.

Chicago Tribune | Top ten Chicago indie album rundown.  The choices are from the usual genres that newspapers tend to focus on (rap, indie etc.) but at least the paper focuses on the Chicago scene.  I'm glad to see some papers do their job in promoting their city scenes.  More people should follow this example.

Canoe/Toronto Sun | Rundown of the Toronto club scene circa 2004.  MC5 love comprising one paragraph, good.  Ian Blurton ass-kiss the next, bad.  I fail to see the undying love for Ian Blurton, considering the man's never going to become more than a Canadian indie-scene footnote.  Then again, I'm not part of the crowd that showers him with golden praise so who the hell am I to comment, eh?

all-baseball.com/Will Carroll Presents... | Why the hell would a baseball site do a top-ten music list?  Worse still, why does this list seem exactly the same as most of the other lists I've had time to peruse?  This is the best music anyone could find in 2004?  This is why I'm cynical about the mainstream music scene.  It just seems way too conservative these days.

Chart | "Stupidest music news of 2004," says Chart.  I started URMN because I know it gets far stupider than this.  Man, shouldn't Chart's selections focus on, oh...the independent music scene?  No wonder Exclaim! continues to kick your asses.

Fart again | "Rock royalty" figures and their thoughts on the perfect moments of 2004.  The guy from The Golden Dogs has the best line out of anyone on this list.  It's more universal, see.

Boston Phoenix | Article about Boston's amazing year.  I love the tone of this article - essentially, it's one big and loud "SUCK IT BLOOMBERG!" to New York City.  This is like the journalistic equivalent of the characters Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch used to play a few years ago.  I wish the city would shut up about its inferiority complex to New York.  Detroit has more class than these motherfuckers.

Top40-Charts.com | What kind of name is SPiT LiKE THiS and what sort of honour is it to be #8 in a Ker-fuckin'-rang poll anyway?  Just looking at the band name is enough to make me assume this band sucks - staggered capitals give the quality away.  I bet the band plays rap-metal.

Everett Herald (Wash.) | Top ten in television.  There is absolutely nothing in this list I couldn't see coming from a mile away - especially that love for Desperate Housewives.  That show seems like American Beauty with chicks, and yet it's called original.  I don't get it.

More lists from LA Weekly: One Two | Lawrd, do they do this every year?  If so, good.  Keep it up.  The world needs more honest top ten lists.

Kansas City Star/AP | A list of the best DVD's of the year.  Nothing surprising, granted, and I'm not going to refrain from commenting on this list just because I saw The Station Agent a while ago.  Honestly, DVD's are more worth it for the television releases that are coming out - finally, the really obscure stuff gets the medium it deserves.

The Capital Times (Wisconsin) | Surprisingly, Rob Thomas throws out a few curveballs in this top ten list.  Still, there's nothing surprising about it - there's still that Wilco/Loretta Lynn love.  Tom Waits appears a lot on these lists, which is saying something either about Waits or the people who deify him.

As I come near the end of this article, there are some articles I can't really say much about.  In order to save time and burn off some of the less exciting and/or controversial things Google has linked to, I lazily present these articles to you without comment as these articles are slight and/or I don't have time to read all this shit:
Pulse of the Twin Cities (Minnesota)
Sydney Star-Observer (Australia)

Fort Smith Times-Record (Arkansas) | Article about the best in Christian rock.  I honestly can't comment on this considering I don't follow the Christian rock scene.  I'm such a secular berk.

Bedford Times-Mail (Indiana) | Another look back at 2004 through the eyes of Indiana folk.  Wow, Reverend might be right.  Indiana folk might just be the stupidest folk in America if this article is any indication.

St. Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota) | Another best-of, here divided into local and non-local sections.  Still, I'd love to throttle whoever thinks 3 Inches of Blood is a good band.  I don't know which band is less deserving of ink, them or The Darkness.  Man, extreme metal's just that much safer from being co-opted these days, isn't it?

Hershey Chronicle (Pennsylvania) | This best-of is better than most considering the man writing this seems to be more punk-friendly than most music critics.  Some of the selections are dodgy but I have to give Todd Thatcher credit for avoiding a lot of the pinfalls most critics make in choosing their albums.  Still, is Green Day's newest really that good?  I'm just curious.

Metro Weekly (Washington, DC) | Another best-of-year nod for Green Day, although George Michael gets the Booby Prize (HA, HIM TOUCH BOOBIES) for worst CD of the year.  Was it really that bad considering this article is from a gay/lesbian weekly?  Well, I keep hearing this awful George Michael song on the radio whenever I'm forced to listen to my local pop station and I thought that single of his was from 1997.  Every time I hear it I sing "I wank in men's stalls" and see toilets in my head.  You fags can have him.  Wham!  Bam!  Thank crap this blog article's over.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Well, I've decided to try some headhunting look for other people to help contribute to parts of the UR "empire" (shit knows I can't do this alone, it drives me crazy.)  So far, I seem to have gained another URMN contributor in Rogue from TheDDT, so I'm curious to know where the hell this development goes.  I'm technically still the only person who ever posts here - man, Reverend's coming out with new shit, too, so what's the story?  Man, I just don't have the charisma for this Interweb thing.  Then again, I'm not Hitler either.  Things even out.

Also, this will now be simulcast on The UR Blog proper - 'cause URMN's popularity is now far beyond the other blog's at this point.  Go figure, huh?  I should've stuck to the Hockey Lockout Compendium even though that did get redundant after four days.  Ah well, at least it helps keep interest in my writing going.  Man, I need to begin an opium habit, I'm such a bint these days.

Technorati has uncovered some other music blogs that are talking about the Top Ten lists of certain newspapers - said blogs can be found here, here, here and here.  I haven't checked the blogs out aside from Each Note Secure, but it helps with my trackbacks.  Each Note Secure has a list of Top xx's, by the way, check them out and laugh at this friggin' music industry for being so callous.

Man, I'm going to have Mike Espen come after me, aren't I?  Screw him, it's my shill.

ChartAttack.com | Lerd, a list of editors' picks from Chart.  Aaron Brophy's the managing editor of the mag, too.  Man, why do I manage to stick my foot in my butt when insulting people?  I'm sure he's a great guy in person, but I still can't stand his reviewing style...anyway, the usual college-rock choices, nothing too shocking or surprising here.  At least an indie-centric magazine recommended indie-centric choices.  That's better than newspapers doing the same thing, though that's saying very little considering how much Chart sucks up to the music industry.  The right tongues are in the right bungs when it comes to that mag...

CNN International One Two Three | "What are the greatest hits' greatest hits?", CNN asks.  To be honest, this is a good list of best-ofs.  There's no bullshit, no filler, no snarky personal opinion involved in this article.  Mark Carroll and Jeff Green just get right to the point and try to cover as many genres as they can.  Hell, they involved The Cramps in this list.  That counts for a recommendation right there.  Good job!

Chart is also trying to get music recommendations from musicians for their readership.  Today the Chart guys interviewed Finger Eleven members James Black and Rich Beddoe as well as singer-songwriter/True North signee Joel Kroeker.  Nice fluff, but please let Finger Eleven die.  I can't believe the dessicated corpse of the Rainbow Butt Monkeys is allowed to continue making music.  I really can't stand that band.

The Japan Times | The usual best-of list you've seen before, but the Japan Times crew seem more fair in their selections as they're not as inundated with North American-based hype as papers are here.  It makes me wonder why none of the musical choices on this list are Japanese, though.  You'd think Japan would hype its own indigenous culture more considering how it's cornered the market on "WACKY SHIT!"  Man, those cultural differences, they're an endless source of novelty aren't they?

Stuff.co.nz | A review of New Zealand hip-hop in 2004 - basically an excuse to kiss the asses of Scribe and Misfits of Science some more, granted, but there are other paragraphs talking about (retch) Band Aid 2004 and Andre 3000.  New Zealand's music industry is worth $146 million a year, by the way, with $5 million in exports.  The trend seems to point to the export industry growing, by the way.  I smell a coming fad.

ObviousNews.com | Usher's four singles were #1 for 27 (according to the article, at least; it might be 28) of the 50 weeks of 2004 that have elapsed so far.  The man's even replaced Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey for consecutive weeks at the top of the Hot 100 chart.  Totals like that are honestly disturbing as hell to contemplate.

Top40-Charts.com | AFI's at it again by telling film fans what it found to be the most significant events of 2004.  To be honest, I agree with all of AFI's choices except for the FCC suddenly becoming a cultural force.  With television growing up as an artistic medium, Howard Stern decamping to Sirius and the Internet being what it is, the FCC is a toothless old biddy by now.  So the FCC's finally catching up to the IBA's model.  Yippie shit.

Radio Sargam (India) | What is the best soundtrack and song of the year?  I don't know, since I'm not Indian and I don't follow Bollywood at all.  Still, I'm including this article because...well, because I'm a gigantic asshole.  If you don't like the article, tough shit.

National Catholic Reporter | The best films of 2004 from the National Catholic Reporter's flim critic (misspelling intentional.)  Most of the selections are of foreign films and my more metal-oriented audience will be pissed off that I'm listing something from THOSE DUM CHRISTAINS YARR HAIL SATAN, but apparently this guy lists what he calls an upbeat movie about female genital mutilation here.  I never thought I'd see those two concepts together, but there you go.

Christian Science Monitor | More non-music lists, this one about books.  See, I know I'm deviating from the point of this blog, and I don't care.  You need to learn your ass some edumacation, y'all.

Cleveland Free Times | Here we go, back on subject.  This is a list of music books, and it really does seem like the field isn't that great this year if Guy Oseary getting masturbatory with a few of his music "friends" is considered one of the best music books out there.  Then again, Oseary's book has that irony factor going for it.  That man's the poster child for all the wunderkinds that find amazing, unbelievable success in their field before they're twenty.  We're all watching men like him for the schadenfreude factor, aren't we?

Georgia Straight (BC) | So sue me, I thought this list was entertaining.  Yeah, the list doesn't go deeper than any other indie-oriented list featured on this site, but at least somebody out there isn't at all impressed with Wilco and Le Tigre's latest missives.  About time someone told it like it is and didn't go out of his/her way to kiss the rectums of so-called sacred cows.  Also, I want to review this Tard band.  Those guys must sound absolutely delightful.  I'd love to see their wheelchair slam dances.

The Scotsman (UK) | The bog paper comes up with its theatre review of the year.  I'll just say I'm listing this because there's a play about Delia Derbyshire and I like the Doctor Who theme.  It's things like this that keep me from writing for the mainstream Canadian metal mags.  I do take a delight in shitting on your expectations.  Did you know I've developed a taste for anime now?  It's true!

AZCentral.com via Billboard | What an utterly cutesy title this article has.  Hey, Melinda Newman, you're not Dr. Seuss so stop aping him.  Anyway, this is a rundown of the year in music, so there's nothing too surprising here.  This might be the worst year for the mainstream music medium since 1990, really - not that I'm too worried, considering my tastes are a little more refined anyway.  People really should start buying independent music more, 'cause some of it's cheap as hell for the quality one gets.  Then again, I would be biased, right?

Kansas City Star via the Philadelphia Inquirer?! | Bog-standard best-of with the usual suspects all present and correct on the printed page.  U2 IS RIPPING OFF JESUS JONES, PEOPLE!  WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THAT?

By the way, I'm being "funny," so don't start with the arguments about how I'm wrong and how U2 is the best band ever.  The band stopped being real after War - not that they weren't fake before, of course, but I just can't stand Bono.  He's like Sting with an attitude - I mean the music Sting, by the way.  The wrestling Sting at least had a few good matches behind him.  Too bad he's a born-again Christian now, he's just pissing on his legacy by joining things like the WXO.

Yes, I'm lapsing into tangents, MOTHER!

Monday, December 20, 2004


THE world's leading heavy-metal bands have issued statements explaining that their death-seeking lyrics are to be understood as literary metaphors, following the murder in the US of heavy-metal legend Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott.

Abbott was shot in the head five times last week by a fan who apparently failed to grasp that heavy-metal lyrics, which frequently appear to crave or challenge death, are actually intended as contributions to the English poetic canon in the tradition of Shakespeare and Donne.

In a statement from heavy-metal band Iron Maiden, lead vocalist Paul Di'Anno stressed the metaphorical nature of the band's lyrics, in contrast to the literalness of Abbott's brains being blown out.

Explaining the lyrics of the song Dance of Death, Di'Anno pointed to the tradition of the danse macabre in drama stretching back centuries.

He argued that lines such as "As I danced with the dead/my free spirit was laughing and howling down at me" should be understood as a poetic allusion rather than as an actual welcoming of death. "I believe it was the seminal critic I. A. Richards who established the distinction between literal and poetic language, like," said Di'Anno from a safe undisclosed location.

"We implore fans to study his 1929 classic Practical Criticism before buying a gun and decorating the stage with our brain matter."

Peter Tagtgren, lead guitarist of Swedish death-metal band Bloodbath, was equally insistent that the categories of literary theory, rather than such categories as "rifle" and "handgun", should be applied to the understanding of his work.

The band's website lists its members as "corpses", their home towns as "graves" and instead of birthdates gives the dates they were "born undead" - devices Tagtgren argues should be understood as delicate literary conceits, particularly since Abbott was literally rendered a corpse and placed in a grave - extremely dead - last week.

Said Tagtgren: "Nobody ever took Robert Frost's famous lines about the inviting dark forest in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening - which clearly refer to death - as a request to disembowel him on stage during a show.

"So what's so different about our song, Disembowel Me, Go Ahead, I'll Eat my Own Intestines Using Your Blood as Ketchup?"

Amplifying his lyrics in such a way as to dissuade fans from interpretative misunderstandings such as might cause them to believe he would welcome having his internal organs punctured by bullet holes, Megadeth lead singer David Mustaine referred to the William Empson classic Seven Types of Ambiguity.

In this pathbreaking 1935 inquiry, Empson argues that poetic texts have no literal meanings, but contain fields of ever-complicating ambiguities.

Mustaine was particularly insistent that no literal meaning should be placed upon Megadeth's hit song, Youthanasia:

"We are the damned of the world

With sadness in our hearts

The wounded of the wars

We run for youthanasia."

Mustaine explained that the lyric should be understood in the same tradition as Keats's Ode to a Nightingale: "When Keats, like, says he's 'half in love with easeful death' - well, so are we.

"You know, half in love, not completely in love.

"If we were completely in love someone might think we needed our throats slit from behind as we launched into a chorus."

Meanwhile, Deathhead songwriter Chris Jester, who is in hiding, used the theories of deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida to address any misunderstandings about the meaning of his song, The Call: "The soul it hurts but it no longer bleeds/ The beast's spawn has been conceived/ The welcoming heir to the throne of hell/ Mine to claim and to serve it well."

According to Jester, deconstruction reveals that the phrase "welcoming heir to the throne of hell" could just as easily mean "I'll have extra anchovies on that pizza" as "I would welcome it if, during my next performance, you would unload the contents of a 12 gauge shotgun into my stomach".

The demise of Dimebag Abbott also occasioned recourse to the strategies of advanced literary criticism among heavy-metal icons such as Ozzy Osbourne and Robert Plant.

"There are plenty of literary critics who find elaborate and abstruse meanings in the lyrics of Bob Dylan," said Osbourne yesterday. "Why should the lyrics of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath be any different? I mean, the fact they are total unalloyed crap is neither here nor there."

Holy shit, somebody was on a windup here.  Either this was taken almost verbatim from Infernal Combustion or some other parody site, or this is from (one of) The Australian's resident humourist(s).  Either way, I'll admit I took this seriously until I figured out this was one of them "fake articles" humourists tend to do at times (note the use of subtle humour when comparing literary theory with subpar metal lyrics &c.)

If this was taken from another source, though, this doesn't really bode well for The Australian.  I know people cull from wire/web-based sources all the time - a fair bit of music reviews and articles are written this way.  Still, I'm not familiar with Imre Salusinszky's work so I don't know if he came up with this on his own or he appropriated somebody else's work.  If Salusinszky wrote this himself, bravo.  He fooled the fuck out of me and other metal fans.  Still, something tells me he

1) isn't a metal fan and decided to write something in response to the Dimebag Darrell story,
2) is a metal fan as evinced by his actually knowing who the hell Peter Tagtgren is, but can't stand all the attention the Dimebag Darrell story is getting, or
3) plagiarized someone else's work after spending five minutes at archive.org, replacing one tragedy with another and passing the article off as his own.

Gotta love them humourists, huh?  I'm just amazed something with a Peter Tagtgren reference appeared in a national Australian paper, really.  I bet .00001 of the general populace of Australia would know something that obscure.  Bloody yobs.

Source: The Australian


New York Post | Not strictly a "best of," but a list of Christmas best-ofs.  I know my centrist ass should hate this article just because it's from the New York Post, but any list that lists both Trans-Siberian Orchestra and John Waters has to be commended - well, it's a step above Photoshopping weasel heads on the bodies of French delegates, anyway.  Don't get me wrong, the Post is a shit paper but sometimes diamonds get squeezed out of lumps of coal y'know?

Wisconsin State Journal | Probably the most honest "best of" list I've seen in the past two days, not because Madison is in the middle of heartland America but because Tom Alesia's making no pretensions to being "hip."  I love how the man brags about Big & Rich opening for a Q106 benefit show.  Funny how adding rap to country becomes reality nine years after Tommy Davidson jokes about it on MadTV.  Art seems to parody sketch comedies an awful lot sometimes.

Monterey Herald (California) via AP | Nekesa Mumbi Moody throws out a bit o' filler for the slack-jawed yokels out there.  Pretty much as insignificant an article as one would expect from the wire services, really.

Stuff.co.nz | Standard best-of from New Zealand, but it's pretty good and the sole overrated album on the list isn't enough to make me hurl insults at it.  December 19 was a good day for decent music articles, to be honest - it was like the music critics were doing their job instead of jumping on bandwagons or whatever the hell it is they do with their time.  Aside from reviewing music, of course - that must take, what, 2/3 of their available time?

San Jose Mercury News | Local best-of from San Jose.  There's something for everyone - a lot of bands to check out here...even if the occasional Machine Head and Green Day choices seem to show up on this list.  They're blips on the radar, though, so ignore at will.  With hyperlinks!

The Chattanoogan (Tennessee) | Mainstream, mainstream, mainstream.  Honestly, the only thing worse than a best-of compiled by an indie-centric pop critic is a best-of with the usual suspects all present and correct.  There has to be a better choice for a #1 album than motherfucking Usher's Confessions.  The man does not need to become 0.01% richer through this.

Financial Times Pop World Jazz Classical | Financial Times comes through with a load of selections.  I have nothing to say about the world, jazz and classical lists since they aren't in my field of expertise, but the pop list is the standard mainstream-oriented dross that you've seen fifteen hundred times already.  I know this is from a paper aimed at a mass audience, but saying Franz Ferdinand and U2 came up with the best albums of the year is not an adventurous thing to say considering the miles of blanket coverage these bands get already.  Thumbs down, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney.

Maclean's via AP | It's Nekesa Mumbi Moody (lawrd, what a name to be stuck with - all African until the Moody whitens it up) at it again, recommending pretty much the same choices one would expect.  Usher grabs another top spot here, adding to the list of accolades this man rarely needs at this point.  Give the woman(?) half a point for her focus on the black rock scene, but it just seems an insult that Danger Mouse appears on this Top 10 at all.  Wow, a mash-up artist that takes a rapper and a backing track from The Beatles and creates a new "album" from it?  Shit, Jay-Z using the Annie soundtrack as a backdrop for one of his missives was bad enough.

San Francisco Chronicle | A best-of from Derk Richardson, who seems too much an old hippie for my tastes but puts out a valid best-of here.  I don't understand why he hypes up Drag City so much here, considering the label's been around for something like ten years or so.  Still, Mr. Richardson identifies Anti-/Epitaph as a "boutique label" so he seems to understand what he's talking about.  About time I saw someone identify the biggest punk label going for what it is.

The Age (Australia) | I like this man's style.  Half of this article is about him talking about what it's like to be a critic, which may seem self-serving but dammit, Shaun Carney speaks the truth.  Still, he's not the perfect music critic - after all, he recommended Lambchop, an act that has had its share of accolades and write-ups in independent media.  Still, at least the man was sincere in his recommendation, which accounts for more in my mind than anything else I expect from a music critic.  What is this Triple J, though?  Dear crap, Jeff Jarrett doesn't own a radio station in Australia does he?

Yes, that's an in-joke.  No, you won't get it.

London Telegraph | Another mainstream (for Britain, anyway - which means we Yanks and moosefuckers'll hear about these bands in about five weeks) best-of list.  After all, a Mercury Prize nomination automatically makes people assume an album is hot shit there, regardless of whether or not the band being nominated actually deserves the nod or not.  That prize is like a Grammy with actual "street cred."  We'll all be sick of hearing the name Zutons by April 2005 here.  Mark my words.

IFCtv.com | IFC's top films of 2004 - because it's from the Independent Film Channel the selections won't be that independent and most of the films here have mainstream distribution anyway.  Then again, what would one expect from furshlugginer Rainbow Media, anyway?  Major cable consortiums should never lay claim to supporting "independent film," but what do I know.

Guardian Unlimited (UK) | Almost indisputably the best, most insightful article out of the sixteen I've linked to here, but that's because The Guardian has a good writing staff that doesn't talk down to the reader.  Also, they seem to talk about what people might actually care about in this article, like the impending death of Top of the Pops.

I've seen the TOTP revamp, by the way.  After seeing it, I'm not surprised the show's on the death of being cancelled.  Granted, it's not like the show hasn't been threatened with cancellation before so I expect it'll be around until sometime around 2015.  Not that I watch BBC Kids, granted, but shit is shit.  What else can I say?

Saturday, December 18, 2004


It's that time again (okay, it isn't that time again; I'm pulling clichéd phrases out of my ass - they hurt coming out of there, but that's not the point.)  It's time to go through the 2004 best-of lists, laugh at the lack of initiative coming out of most music critics, and slag the people for being so controlled by common music trends.  Personally, I hate best-of lists - after a while the choices get to become so predictable one could set a watch by them - U2?  Modest Mouse?  Wow, that's "out of the box" thinking - way to push the envelope, kick it up a notch and other managerial doublespeak.

Anyway, here's a little something to start off the compendium.  Heh, maybe it won't become as predictable as the hockey compendium was - I doubt it, though.  Music critics tend to be, ya know, conservative and too mainstream-oriented to affect real change.  Gotta keep the capitalist machine running now 'cause Modest Mouse won't sell themselves, will they?  The music scene's all about shifting units anyway, not something crazy like...oh, say, art.  Fuck that myth right into the ground.

AZCentral.com - lawrd, here we go: that mix of critically-loved favourites and bands excessively hyped about since when they damn near formed.  Honestly, Franz Ferdinand?  The Libertines?  U2?  Honestly, I know this guy is an indie/college-chart-following nonce just by looking at his tastes in music.  About the only surprise to me is the inclusion of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists on this list (and maybe MF Doom, but he's been given so much press by alt-hip-hop fans that they damn near put him on a pedestal.)  Other than that, yer basic trend-oriented "top-ten" list.  There's nothing here that you won't see anywhere else.

Las Vegas Mercury - instead of one critic I'd like to slap upside the head, there are five.  The "metal" guy, not surprisingly, actually likes the same hardcore/grind crossover names I've seen other "metal" critics like for at least three years (Neurosis, Pig Destroyer, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon.)  The sad thing about this list is the fact that some of the music critics start off well, focusing on bands that haven't been overexposed by the alt-crit media.  They then degenerate into that unquestioning love of The Hives, Arcade Fire and Eagles of motherfucking Death Metal.  I'm not expecting a guy to like Iron Bitchface and Loretta Lynn on the same list, but could we change the formula up a little?  Thanks.

SPIN! - Urg.  There's nothing I'd rather do than buy albums just because some faceless berk from Spin thinks they're cool - Converge?  Shit, could people stop recommending this band?  I'm not saying they're a bad band, but the name is like one of the first one hears when getting into metal and/or hardcore music.  The name's become a virtual catchword of poseurism.  Yes, I'm inventing words, MOTHER.

The Olympian (Olympia, Washington) - early contender for the Ultimate Mark Award for Believing The Hype goes to Matt Dorison for this series of paragraphs:

Across the board, 2004 was a fascinating year for music, a bona fide year of the underdog.

Many of the bands that serious independent rock fans have been hoping would make it big -- such as Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins -- finally did, thanks to exposure on shows such as "The O.C.," which nearly single-handedly spawned (or respawned) mainstream America's fascination with everything "indie."

But what indie kids have known all along is that the real cache of independent rock wasn't so much that mainstream America didn't get it, but instead that "corporate America" could no longer dictate what music people listen to.

What a load of shit - "indie" music is one of the most corporate things going.  It gets constantly fêted by almost every mainstream newspaper in North America, is considered to do no wrong, has an utterly mainstream fanbase and has its cache of established labels that are owned or distributed by major labels or, in some cases, national independent distributors.  So it's finally established and entrenched itself on an international level - fine, I can handle that.  Just don't tell me Neko Case and Modest Mouse haven't been shoved into the limelight since 1999, because those names have been given enough press to choke the hype pipeline.  Shit, I'd love to see one of these rock-crit guys give this much press to their own scenes.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Tune in tomorrow when I give Eminem's "Mosh" a 10/10 for existing.  I'm not a bitter man who hates everything indie, by the way.  I just can't stand the duplicity of the North American mainstream rock-crit scene.  Gives me gas.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Solace, one of the premier doom bands, were dealt a near-fatal blow when their drummer, Kenny Lund, was diagnosed with cancer this past spring. The band had every intention of following up on the success of last year’s "13" (MeteorCity), having played to unanimous raves at 2004’s Emissions from the Monolith and Stoner Hands of Doom festivals and releasing a split CD with Albany’s Greatdayforup. But with Kenny going in for treatment, the band’s plans were put on hold.

While it’s fortunate that Kenny’s recovering quicker than expected, there are still a considerable amount of medical bills involved. As such, friends of Solace are getting together to help raise money. The StonerRock.com sponsored “Kennefit” is an all day show in New York City, taking place at both the Pyramid and at the legendary CBGBs on Saturday, December 18, 2004.

The line-up is as follows:

Pyramid ($5.00, doors: 2:00 pm)
We're All Gonna Die
Hellblock 6
Puny Human
Special guest TBA

CBGB's ($15, doors: 6:00 pm)
PB Army
Pennsylvania Connection
Beaten Back to Pure
Lord Sterling
Unearthly Trance
The Atomic Bitchwax
Negative Reaction
A Thousand Knives of Fire

We, the community of StonerRock.com, want to raise as much money for this cause as possible so we strongly encourage those who can’t attend The Kennefit to contribute as generously as you can. A website has been set up at http://www.arzgarth.com/Kennefit.html with all relevant information, including a Paypal link for quick and easy online donations.

*NOTE - there are no guest lists for this event as it is a benefit show. Coverage is encouraged, but no guest list tickets are available.

I'm sorry to hear that the man has cancer.  Right now I'm living at home partly because my father has cancer and as such I'm aware of how cancer disrupts lives (my maternal grandfather and a paternal uncle of mine died from cancer three and almost six years ago, respectively.)  I'm sorry I can't be at the benefit concerts (and I'm glad to see Hellblock 6 get their due; I do think they're an underrated band) but I thought I'd pass this along because Solace are a decent stoner band and, well, because I don't give Earsplit PR too many props.  I'm glad to see a well-organized benefit like this, and the absence of guest lists just seals the deal for me.  Go to this, dammit.

Source: Earsplit PR

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Apparently my little missive about Franz Ferdinand/Morrissey slash seems to have caused a little debate at a Chart writer's Livejournal.  The people writing in the LJ seemed to take the subject a little more seriously than I did, but what can you do.  This is the sort of risk one takes when throwing about one's opinions.  I love the commenter who thought I was guilty of lazy journalism, which is ludicrous as the post was about someone else being a lazy journalist, but then I'm not among the people that find slash fanfiction "cute."  In the end, it's a bunch of hits and another minor controversy for UR.

To be honest, I don't know why the hell I do what I do.  Ever since 2000 I've grown increasingly spiteful of the mass media and of people in general.  I sometimes think it's my personality that has caused me to remain in the state that I am.  I don't want to say I'm jealous of the people who manage to succeed where I fail, but I've never understood how some people can be the biggest jerks known to man, people that talk integrity but are happy to undermine it at the first opportunity and manage to succeed despite it all.  It's irritating working at my craft - if I don't appeal to some cretin's simplistic wanting of something "brutal," I'm a fag.  If someone finds my writing too caustic and/or undesirable to their tastes, I'm simply "dumb" or whatever.  Personally, what irritates me is the simple fact that I have all the bloody tools to succeed, but I blow it all on this "integrity" and "humour" crap.  It makes me wonder whether I should just give up and pretend I've been into The Pixies all my life.

Maybe I'm attacking the wrong people, but there is something wrong with music journalism and I don't know what it is.  The thing is - and I say this to everyone, enemies and friends all - I've never pretended to be more than I am.  I'm a guy who's too damn weird to easily fit into the death metal, or any, worlds and the past five years have been a bitch of a struggle to find out what sort of a slot I can fit into on a roulette wheel.  I don't know why I'm so stubborn at this - shit knows I constantly have thoughts of selling out my friends, ditching everything good about me to obtain a certain golden mean.  There's something about the Internet that turns the vast majority of people into parodies of their former selves or the whiners and overreactive blubbering vaginas they claim to despise, and I don't want that to happen to me.  Basically, I'd like to know how the hell to succeed in actual journalism without actually having a journalistic background - well, that and I'd like to know how to act like an idiot and get my ass kissed for that, too.  Maybe I'm just constantly irritated at the mass of unfettered crap that sometimes flows through the print and literature-oriented media, but my goal is to eventually get a job where I agree with the principles of where I work for and where the people have learned to balance the silly crap with good journalism.  I haven't found that place yet, but maybe I'm looking for something that doesn't exist.  Shit knows arts journalism can be an incestuous clusterfuck at times.

Maybe I should draw some Scooby porn.  Someone's got to be interested in that crap.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Lately I've been sidling myself into other avenues besides music and it seems to come to my attention that I have too much stuff these days, so I've decided to get rid of a ton of CD's that I no longer listen to.  I'm quite serious about this as I have about 300-400 CD's in my collection and I just can't keep them all anymore.  If anyone's interested in buying some CD's from me over the next few months, let me know as I'm going to try to sell them on Ebay or other avenues.  I'm going to make a long list of what I'm getting rid of later for The UR Blog/URMN, but most of the pieces of music I own are up for grabs.  Considering this stuff has accumulated since 1999, I really want to make room for other things and possibly pass things on to other people.

Anyway, more news as I pass it along.  Send me an email, perhaps, telling me what you're looking for.  I don't have much room for CD's anymore and I'm doing this as a Christmas thing.  Hopefully there'll be some interest in this.

Friday, December 10, 2004


The issue is complete and being sent to Small Publishers Co-op this week!

Well, it's been a long time coming but the 64 page split is finally going to print!! We anticipate a late December release. The issue, as our issues always are is free of charge and loaded with interviews, music and zine reviews, contacts and more!

Unhallowed bring you interviews with Helloween, Exodus, Atomizer, Nunslaughter, and Metal War Productions

Ruptured features interviews with Hearse, Dark Tranquillity, Into Eternity, Goratory, Warblade and Cryptic Warning, as well as a website exclusive interview with Karyn Crisis. The Ruptured website will be updated with new interviews and reviews upon release of the print zine, however some content is exclusive to the print zine. Keep the printed word alive!

The following labels were kind enough to take out full or half page ads: Century Media, Nuclear Blast, Metal War Productions, Oak Knoll Productions, Autopsy Kitchen Records, Darkest Souls Promotions, and Agonia Records. We've also included ads from The Small Publishers Co-Op, Armageddon Shop, Leather N' Spikes Fanzine, Media Whore Zine, Slava Productions, Life of Sin Promotions, Ruptured Distro, Autoeroticasphyxium Zine, and Power Play.

The zine will be 64 pages, black and white newsprint, and in cut-n-paste format. Distributed by the following kick ass Labels, Distros and Zines: Lost Disciple, Metal-Core, Metal Rules!, The Underground Unleashed, Relapse Records, Black Death Distro, Season Decay Zine, Autopsy Kitchen Distro, Forgotten Wisdom Productions, Ruptured Distro and many more amazing individuals.

Huge thanks to Ruptured Staffer Adam Wills for designing our cover last minute as well as contributing to the zine.

Anyone interested in reserving their copy, distributing the zine, or helping to promote us otherwise, simply hit reply and let me know!

You received this email because you either took out an ad, requested a copy of Ruptured or Unhallowed before, sent in music to be reviewed, traded and otherwise corresponded with me or are just unlucky enough to be in my address book. To stop receiving messages regarding Ruptured or Unhallowed, just hit reply and type in REMOVE.

Life of Sin Promotions/The Accursed Management
Visit The Accursed Online www.theaccursed.net
Editor, Ruptured Zine [Print]
Visit Ruptured's online version www.rupturedzine.cjb.net
Staff Writer: Unhallowed Zine [US], Imhotep Zine [Norway]

Yeah, I rip on Century Blast/Nuclear Media often but I like the fact that they sent in paid advertising for this split mag. Now if the company would be decent enough to stop trying to appeal to every metal fan and start appealing to its niche again...I know, I'm grumbling. I'm the dope who wrote to McGraw Hill, of all companies, to review a Gary Owens book. I'm full of my own crap. Then again, I'm my own niche audience.

Anyhoo, this honestly seems like a decent 'zine, and one has to admire people who are still doing the free 'zines knowing full well they're going to take monetary dives on their fanservice. Hey, Pam Garnett, let me know how much ads are for the next Ruptured, mmmkay? Man, I've had an ad designed for months; I'd like to use it. Man, I'm spending money so fast these days it's almost crazy. Jeez.

Source: You Know Who via Ruptured 'Zine/Pam Garnett



MTV2 and Headbangers Ball have selected some of the very best
Headbangin' videos of 2004, and they want you to narrow them down.

Nuclear Blast is happy to have four of our premiere bands included!

Dimmu Borgir "Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse"
Fireball Ministry "Flatline"
In Flames "Trigger"
Kataklysm "As I Slither"

Vote for your favorite video then tune into the premiere of
Headbangers Ball Best of 2004

Saturday December 25th at 10 p.m. ET only on MTV2

Vote at this link:

There's something very wrong with having Dimmu Borgir and Kataklysm on Headbangers' Ball, of all shows.  I know I'm the guy who'd like to hear Intense Hammer Rage on CBC Radio 3, considering I've been off my nut for a few years now.  Still, there's a difference between an underground band/label producing a video and having it appear on...oh, let's say Much Loud - and a major part of a musical empire (in this case, Century Media/Nuclear Blast) financing a video.  This sounds like sour grapes from some CENTURY MEDIOCRE-yelling dip, I know, but Nuclear Blast really is trying to become mainstream as of late.  I know Dimmu Borgir was genuflecting toward mainstream metal fans, but videos?!  Man, and people wonder why I sometimes hate this business.

Also, what kind of schmuck watches anything MTV anyway?  Shit, even I know FUSE is the music channel to beat - not that I like music video networks, to be honest, but the right exposure on these things can really make a band at times.  After all, Epitaph wouldn't be where it is without MTV's constant Offspring whoring.  Maybe Epitaph staying a popular regional label might not have been a bad thing, I dunno.  I mean, all the poseurs who loved Rancid back in the day...

Source: AEA Underground Report via Nuclear Blast USA

Friday, December 03, 2004


Well, I finally did it.  I sent a letter to the owners of TheDDT to ask them where I stand with regards to that site.  Personally, I'm going to continue my relationship with Space Junkies but with regards to TheDDT and its affiliated sites it's still fifty/fifty depending on the day, my mood, how clean my colon is etc.  I know I keep teasing leaving certain places and all, which is sad because I realize I keep pulling this trick knowing full well that's exactly what the arrogant people I can't stand do, but I'm starting to do that with regularity.  (By the way, I'm sorry to Calamity Jon and the whole Seebelow community for teasing them this way.  I honestly hate that sort of powerplay and yet I'm doing it myself.  I fully admit being a hypocrite and I apologize to everyone for that.)  

Personally, though, I've tried over the past three years to find the formula that will appeal to both a mass audience and the core audience I've retained through the years, and I admit I just can't do it.  I don't know what it is about me, my personality or whatever but I've been irritated that I haven't reached the next level yet in terms of anything career-wise.  I think it's time for me to reorganize my priorities and admit that the direction I took this year hasn't been all that great.  The blogs have taken off and this year has beaten all others when it comes to the attention my writing has received from people, but it isn't enough anymore.  Ever since 2002 it hasn't been enough.  I honestly don't know why I'm depressed some days but I really haven't been happy with myself since the beginning of the decade.  I have dreams about the one year of university I fucked up and ever since 2001 I've asked myself how the decade would have turned out if things had gone better for me/I had acted more responsibly back then.  Thoughts like that aren't rational or intelligent, but I have them.  Every damn year I keep wondering how the hell people I see as reactionary or arrogant manage to succeed while I'm stuck in the same rut I've been in for years.  It's a vicious circle and I admit I don't know how to stop it.

I honestly can't see myself continuing to write about metal and/or music past 2005, to be quite perfectly honest.  I've tried to convey some intelligence while reviewing this music, but it's a losing battle.  I see some signs of life but I have to come to the realization that UR in its present configuration isn't going to work.  I'm a writer by trade and I think it's about time I started seriously writing some form of literature.  I don't want to say I don't want to be a "fanzine" anymore, but I don't.  I guess I'm finally admitting that I'm probably going to stop reviewing music soon and/or reduce UR's music coverage.  This is why I was going into the video realm, book reviews and blogging in the first place.  There are about twenty-five people in the entire country of Canada who get to make metal music reviewing their business, but I can't stand the business or a lot of the people who run it.  Metal seems to be more accepted as a joke than as a serious music, something one likes when one's fifteen and then "grows out of."  It's a stupid generalization with no basis in fact and I never understood why slavish devotion to The Cure when one is forty is any better.  Still, it's the music business and I just find my present hobby limiting in some way.  I've put on the music fan hat for long enough.  Now it's time for something else.

I don't know what I'll do next year.  I'm probably going to write fiction, look for an internship somewhere etc.  I'm determined to find what I'm good at and/or what talent I can exploit and run with it.  I'm not finding it in what I'm presently doing and I think it's about time to say it without sounding like a whiny git.  I can't stand playing maverick, so fuck it.  Maybe I'm just writing this on one of my "bitter days" but enough is enough.  I'll let you know what my plans are for 2005 on December 31, 2004.  Until then, I'll try to be less didactic.

UPDATE (12/03/04): BFP says I'm too obscure (which I agree with since I brought it up); Doug Graham feels I'm inconsistent in my post timing.  Why the hell don't I get incisive feedback like this all the time?!  Man, if you people would constructively criticize more this "job" would be a lot less irritating.  This is all I needed after five years?!  OY.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Yeah, it ain't "music news" per se but this is actually perfect for my readership - assuming people with disparate tastes who regularly throw out obscure references are my target audience.  If that's true, I'm proper fucked.  No wonder I've made like $2.50 off Google AdSense, I'm not appealing to the moneyheads.  Anyway, this Scooby-Doo parody about Dan Rather's paranormal abilities came from the usually so-far-right-wing-it-must-love-Michael-Savage RatherBiased.com and was actually far better than it had any damn right to be.  I hate Scooby-Doo, I'm not fond of Dan Rather myself and political-based humour is about as funny as Jay Leno but this somehow worked.

Yeah, I'm as surprised as anyone.