Saturday, April 20, 2013

Picking the Wrong City

This past week has been an incredible roller coaster of emotions for the United States, especially the Northeast, and more specifically the greater Boston area. I am from the area, living in parts of New England my entire life. This post seemed fitting for this week, and all of the fall out from the Boston marathon attack and the subsequent manhunt. The phrase used the most this week, aside from the new trendy Boston Strong fundraiser catch phrase, is "these guys picked the wrong city". My friend writes for Newsweek and in a recent response to the attacks on Patriots Day said this: "You don't fuck with Boston, because Boston fucks back".

This statement could be tossed aside as bravado, unable to be backed up by facts, but... all of you who have watched movies like the Departed, Good Will Hunting, The Brinks Job, Mystic River, The Town, or even Ted need to understand that all of the grit and toughness expressed by characters in those films are influenced by and express how people who actually live in this area think and act. and with that... I give you the best compilation album of all time, and quite possibly the finest American Hardcore punk album ever recorded.

Gang Green, The Groinoids, Jerry's Kids, The Freeze, The Proletariats, Decadence, The FUs
This is Boston Not LA
1982, Modern Method
Produced by Jimmy Dufour, Mark McKay, Sean Sweeney

In the late '70s and early '80s a new kind of punk started out in LA and moved to DC. This scene had a harder, dirtier sound than British and New York punk bands like the Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Ramones. Lead by the LA based Black Flag, and the DC based Bad Brains, this American Hardcore punk scene infiltrated many other cities along both coasts, including San Francisco, New York, and, of course, Boston.

This comp helped to promote the Boston sound and scene and distinguish them from the DC scene on the east coast. The title was initially supposed to be a rallying cry for Boston area bands to be themselves, instead of copying what LA groups like Black Flag, Fear, and the Germs were doing. Since then, it has become more of a statement that Boston, it's city and people, are harder than the soft citizens of the warmer, more luxurious cities of California.

This comp, and these bands would go on to influence a Boston music scene that would cultivate groups like The Unseen, The Lemonheads, Ten Yard Fight, Slapshot, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Big D and the Kids Table, the Dropkick Murphys, and even Godsmack. NoFX frontman, and punk rock historian, Fat Mike has said this album is the best of all time (which he says about everything), and references it in his song 2 Jealous Agains, which is all about iconic punk records.

Trouble if You Hide is a track by the Freeze that seems pretty appropriate to the events of the past week. The lyric "please come forth with clues to confide, because there will be trouble if you hide" highlights the tenacity of the Boston spirit.

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Open Letter to my Favorite Radio Station

I still listen to radio.

Let that sink in for a second. Despite all the new technology available to me, like iPods, and satellite radio that rely on frequencies sent from space, and the internet, I use technology that was discovered and invented in 1872 and made popular in the 1920s. I choose to do this, mostly because it is far simpler to turn the dial in my car than to figure out how to sync an iPod, or learn how to stream an internet radio service.  

Most of the time, rock radio doesn't disappoint. I've learned which stations are good, and play what I like, and which stations are clown shoes (I'm looking at you Pop/Hip Hop radio). I change channels between three or four stations, mostly because I hate commercials.  

Recently, one of my go-to stations changed their format, sort of. I say sort of, because it was a rock station, and it still is a rock station. No one went and burned the rock collection and bought a bunch of country records from the local yard sales. The station decided to expand their offering of rock music to incorporate "all rock". Previously, they played mostly hard rock from the '80s, '90s, and '00s, focusing on newer rock and metal. Now, they've added what many would call "classic" rock, and span rock music from the late '60s all the way until the present.

Of course, this change was met with a ridiculous amount of hostility as evident on their Facebook page. Some people just don't like change, or appreciate the old school. I felt pretty awful for the employees of the station, as many of the comments were brutally worded, and mostly unfair.

Personally, I love the fact that the station has realized that the older bands and artists can still rock. It can be a great idea, and could showcase a bridge between old classic rockers and the newer bands that they influenced.

However, the execution of this really great idea is where the station fell flat.

They could have added to their playlist seamlessly with groups like Iggy and the Stooges, the MC5, Cream, Mountain, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and Steppenwolf, and expand their genre to include punk rock and play groups like Bad Religion, Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Sex Pistols, and the Misfits. No other station plays stuff like that.

Instead, the station decided groups from the '80s like the Damn Yankees, Tom Keifer, Warrant, Cinderella, and LA Guns were better additions. Also, instead of classic groups that compliment their hard rock identity, they play Neil Young, Tom Petty, and the Barenaked Ladies. These are good musicians, excellent music, but not really what one looks for from a hard rock radio station.

I'd love to request more solid rock music, and less girly, feather and spandex wearing, '80s emasculating cock rock nonsense. I know every rose has a thorn, stop crying, you're mascara is running.

Also, Nickleback is unnecessary. There is only enough room on the radio for one band of cocky, douchebags, and Van Halen has it covered.

I say, keep the old stuff that actually rocks (ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Hendrix, The Who) and dump the folk rock, and all the pansy-ass glam ballads that make men gag and women swoon. I miss the Tool, Manson, Godsmack, Chevelle, and Monster Magnet tracks I used to hear.