FRONTIER JUSTICE: Johnny’s Issue Roundup
Maybe it’s the heat, I don’ t know. But I just can’t concentrate. MTV may make Beck want to smoke crack, but it only makes me angry about 300 things at once. Luckily, there’s still live music to save me from the likes of corporate radio and Summer in the Keys. But I need to get some of this stuff off of my chest so I don’t give my favorite bartender a reason to kick my cynical ass out on the street.
Somethin’ Like a Phenomenon
Girl, you know it’s true: Boybandosity has reached critical mass. Backstreet Boy AJ Maclean’s very public breakdown (announced at a “press conference” thrown by his mates on that paragon of news journalism, TRL) and his group’s tepid stadium tour/album sales have helped make clear the fact that target markets age, too. But don’t cry for Jive Records. N*SYNC, that label’s other stable of high cheekbones and freakish haircuts, has naysayed the naysayers with Celebrity, their latest, er, effort. Roundly derided — basically because it’s really atrocious – the hourlong shitstorm of pompousity nevertheless debuted with authority. It’s first week sales were second only to No Strings Attached, the combo’s previous creative suckhole. So Jive’s still in the black. But it can’t last. Stadium tours are expensive, especially when you don’t sell them out. N*SYNC has something like 2,000 semi trucks carting around its stadium tour, and last time I looked, the Teamsters only get crazy with the hair gel when they’re getting real paid.
Celebrity’s overarching theme – Fame’s a bitch, man – suggests that Justin, et al have taken a page out of Bret Michael’s well-thumbed (in jail) handbook. Remember Native Tongue? That was Poison’s 1993 album that shit-canned CC Deville in favor of guitar savant Richie Kotzen in a quest for respectability. The non-mulleted respectfully kicked it to the curb. What Bret and the cads in N*SYNC don’t realize is that no one wants to hear a pop star complain about how many millions of dollars he makes. Especially when he sings lyrics like this:
Sick and tired of hearing all these people talk about
Whats the deal with this pop life?
And when’s it gonna play out?
Well man, hope you invested well, because there’s a Behind The Music about you in pre-production right now.
Sounding to Try Like You
Ever since “Loser,” Beck has enjoyed the kind of rep that is only written about in novels (no doubt written by failed musicians wishing for exactly that kind of rep..). A respected underground performance artist and purveyor of intelligent folk-core who records for indie stalwart (and tastemaker) K Records, and who hangs out with that label’s owner ( ex-Beat Happening Indie hero) Calvin Johnson, Beck also happens to be a quirky modern rocker who wears Prada, dates Wynona, and makes mad dollaz on Geffen. Since the days of Odelay, Beck has only solidified his credentials. The warmth of Mutations and Midnite Vultures’ sideways Prince sex jokes place him in an elite crew of artists (Bjork, Timbaland) who are thoroughly mainstream while still surfing the bleeding edge.
But a continuing argument amongst the GloNo editorial staff asks the question: Is Beck still relevant as a barometer of cool? His competing label heads seem to think so. It seems like every month something’s referred to as “the new Beck,” when the old Beck is doing just fine. They trot them out on modern rock radio, 3-minute singles of whizzing samples, snide lyrical couplets, and the random DJ scratch. Citizen King, Dynamite Hack, Scapegoat Wax – jeez, even their names are similar. Even those no-talent fucks in Better Than Ezra have jumped on the Beck party train, hiring DJ Swamp to infuse them with Beck-ness. “Extra Ordinary,” BTE’s new single, sounds like Z-grade Mr Hansen, with a little Sublime thrown in for good measure. I almost want to see Better Than Ezra on their new tour, just to see if they’re still as shitty as they were in 1995, touring with Ben Folds Five.
The real Beck please release an album toot suite, and put all these bizarre Becks back in their places? Then they’ll all just go back to impersonating Dave Matthews/Eddie Vedder (see Five For Fighting’s new album) and leave the big kids alone.
Get Your Freak On – Peaches and Taylor Savvy Make it Hot
Sucking on my titties/Like you wanted me/Callin’ me/All the time like Blondie/Check out my Chrissie be-Hynde it’s fine now all the time…
Last week in Chicago, things got a little hotter when Peaches rolled through town. The NC-17 material above comes from Peaches’ bomb track, “Fuck The Pain Away.” Never one to, ahem, beat around the bush, Peaches wears her mullet proud and promptly blows your eyeballs back through your skull with her Roland MC 505 beat box and a stable of hot, sweaty lyrics that would make Li’l Kim proud. The Teaches of Peaches, her current effort on Kitty-Yo, is chock full of the kind of shit that would make every 13-year old in the world giggle and squeal, listening to its swears and sexy beats late at night under the covers with a flashlight. That said, it also made the squad of indie rockers at Chicago’s Fireside Bowl shake their skinny hips like some kind of International Pop Underground sex show.
Arriving on stage in true flashy trash – thrift store lingerie that was boom-bada-boom stripped off during the duration of the set – Peaches was literally a one-woman sex machine. With pre-programmed MP3s laying down the beats, Peaches strutted all over the tiny stage, copping the stage moves of all our sexiest rockers, while at the same time toying with that very issue. After all, what is sexy about music, whether it be female or male, danceable or not? Is it Britney tearing off her tuxedo on an MTV award show? Or is it the one-two punch of Mick’s lips and Keith’s guitar slither? Or, is it Peaches, standing on stage, leading a crowd of stogy indie kids in a chant of “Guys, shake ya dicks, Girls shake ya tits”?
Peaches’ partner for her Chicago shows was Taylor Savvy, who quickly made R Kelly look bad in Earl’s own city. Savvy who looks like Jakob Dylan crossed with Randolph Mantooth, put together a set of sexually comedic musical numbers that featured crooning, brooding, and the kind of sweet nothings you usually hear The Onion’s B. Smoov uttering to his lady. With all of this coming from the mouth of a gangly white guy in the back bar of a converted bowling alley on a 100 degree night in Chicago, it was easy to see how Savvy quickly had the crowd eating from his hand. Leaping into off the stage to kiss the ladies’ hands, Savvy was like sexual energy incarnate. He also showed a real flair for improvisation, given that his accompaniment followed Peaches’ lead – pre-fab MP3s booming out the system while he gyrates on the stage like the Caucasian Maxwell. Try to do that in a new city every night, where no one knows you and they’re used to Gibson SGs and Marshall Stacks, and I’ll buy you a new hat.