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The Curmudgeon

Spring is a time of renewal they say. Therefore I can think of no better renewal than by clearing out some crap that pisses me off. So, as requested by my three readers we’ll start with the ranting…

George Romero

As we get closer to DragonCon I have to ask, who’s got the keys and how do we get them back? They score points for getting George Romero but lose all of them with a negative balance for turning this into a cast reunion for Happy Days. I for one and tired of really crappy programming and lackluster guests who are just there for the Walk of Shame. I mean, what the hell is going on here? People should be really pissed about this and voice their complaints. Plus, they continually just don’t get it.

The same could be said for the over spacious and over hyped Comic-Con. It is almost too big now and almost devoid of any soul. Oh yeah, the comics bit is almost gone as well. It has been hijacked by guys in suits who see us as sheep.

It’s sad that it has come to this. It really is, because most of us just want to have a nice weekend and commiserate.

[ad#longpost]But most of my ire has been turned squarely to Clear Channel. There used to be really good radio at one time in this country. Then Clear Channel and four or five big companies divided it up and programmed it with mindless crap for hours on end. Then they made sure to crush the little guy who wanted something smarter or better or something free of “shock” at every step along the way.

Have you even tried to watch MTV lately? I did and I wished I had been in Azerbajan. That’s how bad it is. It is so horrid and stupid I’ll just stop before I explode from anger.

Arena Football is the lamest thing ever. I cannot believe people pay money for this shit.

Then there is American Idol which is a total waste of time, energy and intelligence. I cannot believe people follow this crap like mindless sheep.

I was way tired of The DaVinci Code two years ago, I sure as hell am way sick of it now. It is really annoying to see so many people consumed by something so amazingly mind numbing. Perhaps they have never read Murakami or Dickens?

The Burger King is scary.

Can immigration reform include doing something about Paris Hilton?

Bjork loses cool points for “acting” in her husband’s movies and for short changing her fans. She is releasing like her umpteenth box set this year.

I heard recently that High Fidelity was being turned into a musical. My God has it really come to this?

I still hate the new Cybermen.

I am not impressed by the new Tron comic book.

I am worried about this new Prisoner TV series. I think Eccelston will be okay in it, but I just see the whole project as unnecessary.

Just because you can remake The Poseidon Adventure, doesn’t mean that you should.

Okay. All done with that bit! Now onto to higher ground and stuff you probably want to read about.

Under the Covers Vol. 1

For over two decades Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have made wonderful pop music on their own. Now they have teamed up for Under the Covers Volume 1, a collection of cover songs by The Who, Love, The Beatles and The Velvet Underground.

Gnomeo & Juliet, the new animated musical project from Elton John has been picked up by Miramax.

The Futureheads are returning with a new album and a new label. The Brit popsters will release News & Tributes on June 13th on Vagrant Records. Look for them to play some Festival dates this summer.

Why Try Harder?–the new greatest hits collection from Brighton’s Fatboy Slim will feature two new tracks, “Champion Sound” and “That Old Pair of Blue Jeans.”

The Replacements

Another best of compilation is coming from The Replacements, perhaps one of the best overlooked pop bands of the 80s and 90s. Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was? combines their best work with two new numbers: “Pool & Dive” and “Message to the Boys.”

Wilco has been testing out new material on their recent spring tour. Look for them to get back into the studio sometime later this autumn.

The next batch of remastered CDs from The Cure (Head on the Door and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me) are to be released this July. Also slated for reissue is Blue Sunshine, the one-off side project from Steve Severin and Robert Smith. The duo recorded the album under the moniker of The Glove.

Nikki Sudden

Bauhaus will once again be touring this summer. For this go around they will be on the road with Peaches and Nine Inch Nails.

I know that Broadway has followed Hollywood’s example of not making anything new and just repackaging old stuff, but an Edward Scissorhands Musical? C’mon.

I am greatly saddened by the loss of punk icon Nikki Sudden. Sudden was the singer of the Swell Maps, a really interesting and underrated post punk band that paved the way for bands like wire and Franz Ferdinand. He later played with the Jacobites, an even more prolific song based pop band with bluesier roots. As a solo artist Sudden’s songs were always solid, straddling the line between punk, blues and pop music. He had a great ear for hooks and a terrific irony that came through in his lyrics. He will be missed.

Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens has died at aged 49. He was an amazing songwriter who fronted an amazingly overlooked band.

Grant McLennan

R.E.M. is taking an extended hiatus before beginning work on their new record later this year.

The Lemonheads have signed to Vagrant Records.

The Long Blondes, one of the UK’s hottest new bands, have signed with Rough Trade.

Mogwai is following up their forthcoming EP, Travel Is Dangerous, by scoring the soundtrack to the film Zidane, a film about one of France’s best footballers.

Moby is also jumping into the soundtrack fray. He is scoring the music for the film Southland Tales and this summer’s Miami Vice. Moby is also rumored to be behind the knobs producing the next Courtney Love record.

A trimmed down Erase Errata is touring this month in advance of their third album, Nightlife, which is due out this July on Kill Rock Stars.

The Editors: Back Room

The Editors will also be on the road this month of support of their debut record, The Back Room. After the tour the band will settle down and start work on their new record.

Be on the lookout for St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley. It is the greatest artist name to come along in a very long time.

Iggy Pop and a makeshift version of The Stooges are working on their first new album since 1973. Steve Albini is producing.

Thom Yorke has recorded his first solo album, The Eraser, with producer Nigel Godrich. In the meantime a still together Radiohead are prepping a new record and playing new songs on their very short US summer tour.

Roddy Frame used to sing for Aztec Camera. Now he’s on his own still writing really great songs. His latest album, Western Skies, is due out later this month.



iLIKETRAINS is one of my new audio favorites. Their new album, Progress Reforms, combines the fragility of Mazzy Star with the density of The Jesus & Mary Chain.

I also like The Black Angels a lot. They have a new record out called The Prodigal Sun. They kind of sound like old Echo & the Bunnymen, which is fine by me.

Camera Obscura is back with a new single that pays tribute to Lloyd Cole. “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” is this year’s catchiest three minutes of pop bliss. This Scottish band has always turned a hook well, but now they have matured, baking short bombastic pop melodies into a sweet batch of sugary pop music cupcakes.

The rumble from down under is Howling Bells. Their self-titled CD is really something special.

The Dresden Dolls

I could go on about The Dresden Dolls. Instead I will just say that they are back and haven’t missed a step. The duo’s newie, Yes, Virginia… is filled the sarcasm, sass and sexiness that made us love them in the first place.

Being a huge fan of The Pixies, I always get excited about music from Frank Black. His new double album, Fastman Raiderman, again sees Black recording in Nashville with a band of revered session musicians. I love his cover of The Pogues’ “Dirty Old Town,” along with a few dozen more really wonderful songs full of emotion and sincerity.


Love & Hydrogen (Vintage) by Jim Shepard. Shepard has some A-list friends in the writing community and for good reason. He stories are crisp, emotional and defy the constrictions of social class and conventional narrative. Shepard’s stories are diverse and interesting in that they develop character and depth in relatively short order. Maybe now this prolific writer will get some props.

The Sandman Papers

The Sandman Papers (Fantagraphics), edited by Joe Sanders. I must admit I was beginning to get a little hackled by the over-deluge of Gaiman stuff floating around the world. However Sanders has tried something different: a scholarly study of his work, especially the Sandman comics. As someone who is interested in mythology and comics, I found many of the essays contained herein somewhat interesting. Amongst the preaching and down-looking in these essays lies the basic fact that this was a groundbreaking comic. It is always interesting to hear people discuss why they think this is so. It is refreshing to read pieces that are full of so much passion and knowledge for their subject matter. Not a bad read, just a little less than what it could be.

Now that the TV season has wound down and the summer blockbusters are falling flat why not do something interesting. I have no idea what this could be–maybe it’s a road trip or a day in the park or just catching up on all the detritus and clutter that has accumulated around you over the first chunk of the year. But matter what it is, take time out to revel in it, sift, sort, visit and explore.