How to Mask Friends and Influence People: Reviewing My Friend’s Band

Clown-Mask-Card-8.5x8.5-FrontBefore you listen to this Jackie & the Treehorns album, before you share this review, tell me what your friend’s band sounds like.

They’re good, aren’t they? Your friend’s band? They’re always really good, not just because they’re your friends. I’ve always been a bit too fascinated with how we talk about music, why we attempt to write about music and put into words that which can’t and doesn’t need to be explained.

So the next question is how do we listen to and process our friend’s bands? What if it’s our brother, or our best friend, or just dudes we knew in college? And do we overvalue how “great” they are? Cuz let’s face it, some of your friend’s bands aren’t that great. But that’s awesome that you still talk them up.

When you hear your friend’s new demo (or soundcloud thingy or youtube “trailer” for their upcoming album), do you think about how your boy once rocked a C&C Music Factory cassingle in his car and now he’s got this super-serious Queens of the Stone Age hard rock vibe going? Our intimate knowledge of our friend’s life and known favorites and influences surely must taint our view of their music.

Wait, you can’t view music. This is how Jackie & the Treehorns trick you into using the word “taint” in their album review.

The point is, there is this indescribable difference in listening to your friend’s band versus the latest album from an actual famous rock star. For instance, I know Jack White is a minimalist rocker heavily steeped in and indebted to the blues. He’s a longtime champion of a truly “independent” business approach and has an extreme fondness for vintage, authentic recording gear and techniques. I know all of this because that is what he has presented to me on record and through interviews, etc. (And of course all of that is then remixed and regurgitated and re-imagined for me by all the people attempting to write about music.) I don’t actually know Jack White as a person, I didn’t hang out with him growing up in Detroit, I never worked with him as an upholsterer, and I’ve never been in any of his numerous bands or side projects.

But I’ve been in Jackie & the Treehorns. I was the original drummer, and also served as Jackie’s manager and confidant during such dizzying highs and lows of his career that there’s a documentary film about it. In fact, I’ve been in a few bands and side projects with my friend Steven Rubin, the guitarist, singer/songwriter, and mastermind producer behind Jackie & the Treehorns.

I know his influences. (I won’t name check them). I thought I knew his influences. Yes, I can hear some of them peaking out from behind the Clown Mask. And then there are new faces, or old faces with different masks on, and they’re singing too. I didn’t know he knew them. There are things about our friends that we don’t know.

Did you think your friend’s band would sound like this? What did you think they’d sound like? Do you feel guilty if, when your friend isn’t around, you tell people “They’re kinda like 311, but they totally don’t sound like them at all”? Are you a little ashamed that you’ve only made it out to see them ONCE, and you got there a little late, and honestly don’t even know what they sound like? You could always just mumble “sort of a Blues Traveler kinda thing” and hope the person either doesn’t get the reference or thinks it’s a good thing.

Have you ever lied to your friend? Or, more accurately, have you ever just not told the truth about how much you think they suck? Do you have a lot friends in bands? Are you reluctant to spread the good word about how great they are because the other friends you’re telling probably assume you’re only talking about your friend’s band just to let people know you’re the kinda cool person who knows people in bands?

So then what happens when your friend’s band makes a really great album? Your other friends are so tired of hearing about your friend’s band they might as well be called Cried Sheep. It’s not that they don’t care (yea, it’s cool, you know dudes in bands). It’s just that they’re probably never gonna take the 14 seconds to click the one or two links to instantly listen to the whole album for free. Seriously, read that last sentence again: they’re probably never gonna take the 14 seconds to click the one or two links to instantly listen to the whole album for free. Back in the day when no one would get off my lawn, we (the friends of yours who were in the bands) had to beg our friends (you) to purchase a hard copy compact disc of our band and then we inevitably just gave most of them away for free, in exchange for the promise or hope that you would tell all your friends about our band and then also get together with them and PLAY IT FOR THEM. Force them sit through My Friend’s Band’s CD. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that. We can do the here’s the link, go listen for free at the time and place of your choosing thing. But I will tell you this: my friend’s band’s album is really, really good. I’m not just saying that. And he didn’t email me bugging him to write something about it (full disclosure: yes he did). Fittingly, my favorite track is called “In No Condition to Explain.”

Please don’t ask me what my friend’s band sounds like. Aren’t your friend’s bands true originals with a unique style that really doesn’t sound like anyone else? It’s almost impossible to know, but even if it wasn’t my friend’s band, I’d still think this was a great album.

Do you believe me? Will you check it out? Do you mind if I wear a clown mask?

Total Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, May 3, 2013

Occasional correspondent and BumsLogic contributor Darryl Walter went to the Stones concert in L.A. so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s his review:

“Who would spend that much money for a bunch of old aging rock stars?”

“They haven’t put out anything of value in decades.”

“Mick and Keith hate each other.”

I heard these and other comments about the 2013 Rolling Stones “50 & Counting” tour but when I found out that I would be in Los Angeles on business, I knew I wanted to see this show. After all, they are the undisputed “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. No other band, NO OTHER BAND, has been rocking out for half a century.

One of the things that make the Stones special is the riffs, Keith Richards has created some of the most notable riffs in music, it only takes a few seconds of hearing the first chords of “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction,” or “Brown Sugar” and you know what is coming.

Rolling Stones

Photo courtesy of Filth Mart, West Hollywood.

Before the concert started, the UCLA Bruins Marching Band performed “Satisfaction” while marching and grooving on the floor of the Staples Center. A video montage that contained clips and quotes from fans throughout the years preceded the Marching Bruins.

The show opened with “Get of My Cloud” and then the band tore into “The Last Time.” Mick thanked the Los Angeles crowd and acknowledged the backlash for the high-priced tickets by asking if it is really just Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and parts of Santa Monica that were at the show.

Mick and backup singer Lisa Fischer went to school on “Gimme Shelter,” followed by special guest Gwen Stefani coming out for a duet on “Wild Horses. Gwen probably should have stayed in Orange County rather than embarrass herself trying to follow the powerful vocal prowess that Lisa Fischer had just displayed on “Shelter.”

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It’s The Perps!

ThePerps

For the past dozen years or so I have been collaborating on numerous projects with various musicians, film makers, photographers, and writers. These projects have mostly taken recorded musical form while some ended up as full-fledged bands that many of you might already know about or have seen play live.

Recently I was sifting through my “digital archives” to discover that many of these recordings were never officially “released”. And by released I simply mean they were never made available for any of my friends and family to enjoy (or ignore). This is mostly due to the nature of my inability to ever feel that a creative project is “done”; that it can always be enhanced even further (anyone who mixes music can attest to this). Over time, your self-critiquing slowly subsides and eventually you are able to enjoy listening to your own music. Sorta.

That time, for me, has come in 2013.

I am extremely proud (as are many of my collaborators) to announce that I have created a project that I am calling: 12 FOR 13. At the beginning of each month throughout the year 2013 I will be releasing one of these projects online for free. It might be a full album or it might be a single song. It might be an actual movie or it might be a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t even exist.  It will cover most every band that I have played in from 2000 through today as well as other projects I have worked on over the years.

First up: The Perps 

The Perps are a duo made up of Bill Resh and myself. Bill and I played in a band together for 7 years in the 90’s called The Circle Six (he was the rapper, I was the guitar player). After that band broke up we started recording together in my studio between the years of 2000 – 2011 and produced close to 40 tracks. We have chosen what we feel are the strongest of those songs and presented them to you here. The best part: it’s 100% free. All you have to do is click, download, listen, and (hopefully) enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen:

A Music Confession

A few months ago Bums Logic’s own Todd Levinson Frank converted ownership of a wide collection of albums from various recording artists to me. My first confession: despite the fact that TLF had passed the music onto me months ago, it was only recently that I loaded the music on my iPod. While most people are quick to add new music to their libraries, for some reason it took me a few months to get around to it. On a side note, this is something that TLF knows about me all too well, as he once suggested a list of people to follow on twitter that I still have yet to ‘follow’ but I digress.

A waste of space.

I added this image in the hopes that you would read it and thus taking up at least five seconds of your time. Thanks for reading.

The list of artists in the collection that Todd provided is rather expansive and that stands as one of the reasons that I delayed the full addition to my music library. My point: if I were to add all of them at once, it is unlikely that any of the artists would be given the undivided attention that they deserve. Bands pour so much time and effort into their recordings and giving their work only a simple cursory listen is nearly equal to a slap in the face. Think about it. Suppose you spent time on a project of any particular discipline wouldn’t you be a bit put off if everyone simply provided it a perfunctory amount of their attention? I know I would.

I can imagine that many of you are thinking, ‘Wow, that is some confession. I hope you feel better after alleviating such a huge burden.’ Well as I stated earlier, that was my first confession.  You see there is more.

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My Next Arena

Die hard fans of Bums Logic know that I am awesome.

I have already stunned the world with my kick ass graphic design skills.  Avid fans have proven that my video stardom is nearly unparalleled with more than 20 views of my astounding display of  badassery.

Many fans have to be wondering, what’s next?  In what other ways can the amazing JrWorthy42 amaze with his seemingly boundless talents?

One that note, I present to you what is sure to be a hit in clubs, bars and bodegas across the globe – my very first pop sensation, ‘It Burns’.

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Happy Birthday Uncle Bruce!

Bruce Springsteen is my uncle. Well, not real direct uncle like a sibling of one of my parents. Just a cousin that we all call “Uncle.” Or maybe my mom just used to joke about inviting “Uncle Bruce” to my birthday parties because she knew I had a possibly unhealthy obsession with Bruce Springsteen.

Being a Bruce fan is an odd place sometimes. A lot of my closest friends and band mates weren’t/aren’t Bruce fans. (I’m sure most of them, especially my cohorts here at Bums Logic, are rolling their eyes realizing it was only a matter of time before Todd used this space to idolize his Boss once again.) As popular and worldwide famous and critically acclaimed as Springsteen might be, there’s a certain uncoolness about being a Bruce fanatic. And I guess that fits the narrative of Young Bruce feeling alienated and alone and discovering through Elvis and the Beatles that rock’n’roll could not only save you, but it was your only hope.

I was turned on to Bruce Springsteen and his mighty E Street Band in the early 80’s by my sister’s college boyfriend. He had vinyl bootlegs of the legendary Winterland show as well as the one from the Agora in Cleveland, both from the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour in 1978. I taped them from his albums to my hand-labeled cassettes and was on my way.

Soon after, Born in the U.S.A. was released and “my guy” was suddenly the biggest rock star on the planet. I saw him at the Capitol Centre in Largo, MD, the month I turned 14. Perhaps that vulnerable age mixed with the power of those legendary live shows and I was doomed (blessed?) to be cemented for life as a Bruce Fan, I don’t know. But I still feel like that night I found out that there really was a circus to run away with. I’d be reminded again, by everyone from the Grateful Dead to The Roots and by Springsteen 11 more times over the years.

So Uncle Bruce turns 62 today. Which makes it seem like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the Stones must be in their 80s. Love him, hate him, or respect him with indifference, but may everyone be lucky enough to still have his energy when they reach that age. Or at least be saved by rock’n’roll.