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Showing posts from October, 2019

100 Albums: "Is This It" by The Strokes

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Strokes
Title:Is This It (US Version)
Released: 2001
Genre: lo-fi garage rock


The early aughts were a confused time for rock. Grunge had died out, and while nu-metal was everywhere, it wasn't for everyone. There was a pop-rock-shaped hole in the musical discourse for people who liked rock, missed the fun side of alternative, and felt alienated by thrash-rap. Enter New York City's own The Strokes, the band that ushered in the garage rock revival that brought to prominence a whole host of acts name The [plural noun]. Their debut, Is This It was an immediate hit in the UK on its late summer release. It was scheduled to come out in October in the US with different cover art and a last-minute song swap following the September 11 attacks. The song New York City Cops was dropped and replaced with When It's Started.

Is This It has a raw energy to it. It bounces, grooves, and bops along f…

100 Albums: "Fallen" by Evanescence

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Evanescence
Title:Fallen
Released: 2003
Genre: nu-metal


Evanescence was a nu-metal band from Arkansas founded by guitarist Ben Moody and singer/pianist Amy Lee that blended abrasive guitars with soft, sweet piano and vocal melodies. It was a pleasant variation on the formula that had been established by Korn and then embellished by Papa Roach and Saliva (and it was absolute catnip to a Nine Inch Nails fan like myself). Their first two singles originally appeared as the most memorable things from a mortifyingly bad Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. The soundtrack exposure lead to an album and was immediately greeted by some kerfuffle about whether or not Evanescence was a "Christian" band or not. Bring Me To Life, the debut single, had guest vocals from the singer for the Christian metal band 12 Stones. Since the album didn't have any cursing on it and a few…

100 Albums: "Weezer (The Blue Album)" by Weezer

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Weezer
Title:Weezer (The Blue Album)
Released: 1994
Genre: garage pop rock


Weezer was formed by singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo in 1992 in LA and signed with Geffen the next year. Their debut, the first of many self-titled albums that would be referred to by the the dominant color of the CD cover, came out a year later, accompanied by a bizarre music video that was also the directorial debut of Spike Jonze. The video for that first single, Undone--The Sweater Song, became an instant hit and Weezer were propelled to instant stardom. They were at the vanguard of a poppier era of alt-rock. The Blue Album, which came out almost exactly a month after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's death, helped define the sound of second-wave grunge. Whereas the initial grunge explosion was angsty, ironic, and hard-rocking, Weezer played bubblegum songs with distorted guitars. Their rock-can-be-fun-too movement wo…

100 Albums: "Mezmerize" by System Of A Down

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: System Of A Down
Title:Mezmerize
Released: 2005
Genre: Armenian speed-metal



When you absolutely need some Armenian speed-metal, accept no substitute. System Of A Down blends thrashing guitars with rich vocal harmonies from singer Serj Tankian and singer/guitarist Daron Malakian (who also does a lot of the writing). Add in Middle-Eastern melodic scales and a healthy dose of progressive politicking and you've got something unique, aggressive and at times oddly beautiful. Mezmerize was the first half of a double-album released in two parts--the second half, Hypnotize, came out six months later. Mezmerize is an album that is tightly tied to a specific time and place for me. It came out when I was living in L.A., which is also where the band members live and grew up, so it was littered with references that felt literally close to home. The first time I listened to the song Lost In Hollywood, I w…

100 Albums: "Art Angels" by Grimes

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Grimes
Title:Art Angels
Released: 2015
Genre: twee Canadian dream-pop




Born Claire Boucher in Vancouver, Grimes began putting music on MySpace in 2007. She's completely self-taught, produces all of her music, and might be the teensiest bit crazy. Her early work is rough, but by 2015, she'd perfected her blood-soaked dream-pop aesthetic--and if you want to see that aesthetic turned all the way up, go check out the video for Kill V. Maim. It gets weird. These days she's dated and broken up with Elon Musk and talked about changing her name to a mathematical constant, so... artists, amiright?

Art Angels took a few listens to really get under my skin, aside from Kill V. Maim which is just a flat-out earworm. The album goes hard on contrasting dark broody lyrics against a super-bright unironic bubblegum pop sheen. But you mostly get that sheen on a first listen. So a song like California co…

100 Albums: "Vs." by Pearl Jam

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Pearl Jam
Title:Vs.
Released: 1993
Genre: alt-rock post-glam grunge



In 1990, singer Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose a few days before the scheduled debut release from his band Mother Love Bone. Wood's roommate, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, approached MLB's bassist and rhythm guitarist, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, about putting together a tribute album. They agreed, and brought on board Soundgarden's drummer Matt Cameron and couple of newcomers that Gossard and Ament had been jamming with, lead guitarist Mike McCready and singer Eddie Vedder. The tribute album was called Temple Of The Dog and it spawned two hit singles in Hunger Strike and Say Hello 2 Heaven. Afterwards, Cornell and Cameron returned to Soundgarden and the other four became Pearl Jam. (And, because the world is teeny-tiny, Cameron is now Pearl Jam's drummer, although he didn't join until 2002). Pearl …

100 Albums: "Our Newest Album Ever!" by Five Iron Frenzy

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Five Iron Frenzy
Title:Our Newest Album Ever!
Released: 1997
Genre: Christian ska-punk


In the mid-to-late 90s, ska became briefly relevant, mostly in the underground and college scene. A few ska bands broke into the mainstream and then disappeared like Reel Big Fish or The Mighty Mighty BossTones, but the most notable remnant of that movement was some ska-adjacent acts like No Doubt, Madness, and Sublime. As I mentioned in the my Christian rock supplemental and the entry for Pspazz, the 90s saw a huge emergent Christian rock movement that generated some actually-pretty-incredible music. Part of this included a ska scene, with a number of bands gaining traction like The O.C. Supertones, Insyderz, and--my personal favorite--Five Iron Frenzy. FIF formed in Denver as a side project by members of a thrash metal band called Exhumator who realized they didn't actually like thrash metal all that mu…

100 Albums: "A Place In The Sun" by Lit

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Lit
Title:A Place In The Sun
Released: 1999
Genre: power-pop


In the early 90s, a rock act called Stain started getting traction in the LA area. They put out a demo and then an EP, signed to the label, got sued by a guy in Texas who was also using the band named "Stain" and changed their name to Lit. (Aaron Lewis's band Staind also got sued, but apparently that extra "d" was all the change it needed.) Lit's first album was called Tripping The Light Fantastic, and it was released by Malicious Vinyl, after which the label promptly folded. Lit then signed to RCA and in 1999 put out their most successful album, A Place In The Sun, which found success for the band as a slightly-less-juvenile alternative to Blink 182. It's not deep, it's not sophisticated, but it's solid, well-executed, and tons of fun.

The song everyone remembers from APitS is My Own Worst Enem…

100 Albums: "Lost Highway"

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Various
Title:Lost Highway
Released: 1997
Genre: industrial death-jazz


Before Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross started winning Oscars for their movie scores, Reznor cut his teeth producing soundtracks for what passed for "artsy" mainstream films in the 90's. The most successful of these was Lost Highway, the soundtrack to the batshit crazy David Lynch film of the same name, in which Bill Pullman is stalked, convicted of murder, transforms into Balthazar Getty... something with Robert Blake... Giovanni Ribisi's in it... look, it stops making any sense at all after about forty-five minutes. Watch it while on drugs, I guess.

The album is anchored by the Nine Inch Nails song The Perfect Drug which is one of my favorites of theirs (and one of Reznor's least-favorite, oddly enough). The disc is bookended by David Bowie singing different renditions of a song called I'm Deranged.…

"Writing Lots 2: Submitting Lots" by Dawn Vogel

Hi, I'm Dawn, and I'm back to talk about submitting stories and poems, and how I have such high numbers of submissions.


First off, as I talked about previously, I write a lot, which means I have a lot of stories that can be submitted at any given time. A lot of what I do to keep my submissions numbers high is juggle the stories, so they go to the right markets in the right order. Obviously, I'd love to have all my stories sell at pro-paying markets. Failing that, there are excellent semi-pro markets that would also be great homes for my stories.

The trick for me is to make sure to keep current on sending out stories to markets, and not let a huge backlog accumulate. In my world, that means that in the morning, I go through my inbox to see what stories have been rejected while I slept. If there are any there, I try to find a new market to send them to in the morning, before my workday starts. There are some days when either I can't find a good market to send a specific …