Archive for the ‘Editor’s Notes’ Category

TCC Offline After 11/20/11…

Posted: November 17, 2011 in Editor's Notes

As TCC’s contribution to the 99% boycott of big business/corporate banking/politics protest, we will be going offline after 11/20/11 and will no longer be financially supporting the current Comcast/Qwest/satellite corporate monopolies.  What this means is we will continue to track local bands – attending shows, snapping pics and writing up reviews, and will see if library computers/Internet access will work until we acquire a laptop to access WiFi there at the downtown library.

In addition, TCC will be donating $25/month to the library as our way of saying ‘thank you’ for giving all of us this gorgeous facility where we can borrow books/music/vids, have access to local and national news sources, as well as providing free WiFi to anyone.

For you computer geeks out there, we would be interested in discussing purchasing a used laptop (putting the money into the hands of our local folks) so let me know if you have info on that please.

See ya at the shows!

As TCC’s contribution to the 99% boycott of big business/corporate banking/politics protest, we will be going offline after 11/20/11 and will no longer be financially supporting the current Comcast/Qwest/satellite corporate monopolies.  What this means is we will continue to track local bands – attending shows, snapping pics and writing up reviews, and will see if library computers/Internet access will work until we acquire a laptop to access WiFi there at the downtown library. 

In addition, TCC will be donating $25/month to the library as our way of saying ‘thank you’ for giving all of us this gorgeous facility where we can borrow books/music/vids, have access to local and national news sources, as well as providing free WiFi to anyone.
For you computer geeks out there, we would be interested in discussing purchasing a used laptop (putting the money into the hands of our local folks) so let me know if you have info on that please.
See ya at the shows!

First of all, my most sincere and abject apologies.  We have indeed been remiss in our coverage of local bands and venues by studiously and intentionally leaving out a serious group of local musicians (and establishments where they play) who play live music on a regular basis and don’t get ANY kind of decent credit for their amazing talent and conscientious dedication to their craft.

I’m talking about cover/house bands (sometimes “tribute bands” when they dedicate all their material to one band).

I’m sorry.  Honestly.  It just hit me today just how badly I/we have dissed you.  And as it is impossible to go backwards, we can only go forwards.

SO…  Beginning in the month of November 2011, TCC will dedicate a mid-week review (which will include pics and video interview if the band is agreeable) to those of you who LOVE TO FREAKING ROCK and have dedicated your heart and passion to keeping the music of other bands alive.

In order to give you all the credit you deserve tho, we need your help!!  Send us any press kits you have, links to your FB or other pages, contact info, dates/locations you are playing, etc. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  This begins Tuesday, November 1, so we need this from you as soon as you can possibly get it to us!

Thanks – looking forward to hearing you!!

Laurel – Editor/columnist

we’re BACK!!!

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Editor's Notes

…having finally finished our relocation of TCC’s headquarters without committing suicide or homicide, we are happy to report that we are indeed BACK and ready to hit the circuit, touring Lane County in pursuit of the most amazing live music to be found!!

While it could have gone more smoothly or more in line with the original plan, we have to give credit where credit is due, to the folks who made the whole process the success that it was:

Nathan and Daniel, two awesome dudes who are also really hot – you know we literally could not have done this without you being willing to drop everything to be there for us to get the truck, get it loaded, deliver goods to various and sundry locations, hiking up and down multiple flights of stairs with various amounts of furnishings and equipment that probably weren’t absolutely necessary except to us… we love you without reservation.  Words cannot convey what we owe you (maybe multiple giftings of chocolate might make a dent in it tho?)…

Mitch Chamberlain and Gladhander – your thank you gift gave us the reason to drag ourselves out of our holes for three mornings in a row after 20 hour days of packing/scrubbing/lifting/carrying/moving boxes and boxes and more boxes and everything else – you guys are AWESOME and we can’t wait to see you at your next gig!

Kelly Asay, Nancy Glass, and the rest of the EDN crew – your wholehearted support and encouragement (and humor in spite of everything repeatedly going wrong) gave us light and hope that somewhere at the end of this tunnel was indeed a light shining (that wasn’t an oncoming train, right?!) – thank you!

To all the fans and followers of TCC – you all have been such a blessing, we have missed you soooooo much and cannot wait to see you all again, to trade hugs and punches and insults (always hopefully more of the former and less of the latter tho!)…

And, last but absolutely not least, to Jeanice and Victoria, TCC’s current photographer and future editor/columnist – you guys put up with so much and were still so there – how do I say thank you for what would not even exist without your presence?  You were in the front lines taking the damage with me and I never heard a word of complaint (but maybe I was just too numb to hear it at that point).  This column would be nothing more than a crazed critic’s mumbling  if it weren’t for you… I love you.

See you all SOON – start sending your dates because we have a lot of catching up to do!!!

from the eyrie, this is Laurel signing off… for now   =)

As I had noted in a previous column (see Editor’s Notes dated May 10, 2011), there are five basic categories of what I listen/look for when I’m reviewing the live performance of a band – these are based on my classical training as well as all my years playing and listening to bands:

Musicianship – this includes:

* Timing – do all the musicians play together?  Do the drum and bass guitar keep time (most bands have a tendency to start speeding up as they go through a song)?  A popular thing to do (and very cool when it is done right) is to switch time signatures – it’s difficult and can oftentimes end up getting away from you (turning sloppy).

* Tuning – are the instruments tuned correctly? and to each other?

* Equipment – is the use of guitar pedals/boxes, sample machines, percussion equipment (cowbells, drum pads, etc.), and other special equipment effective?

Vocals – this includes:

* Pitch – are the vocals on pitch with the instruments?  with each other?

* Equipment – if uni-directional mics or special effects (distortion boxes, etc.) are used, how well are they handled?

* Clarity – can you understand the lyrics? or are they muddled?

Originality – this includes:

* Lyrics – do they make sense within the song?  do they fit the style of music being played?

* Material – is it unique? Or does it just sound like every other wannabe garage band?

Professionalism – this includes:

* Showmanship – do the musicians connect and interact with the audience? do they hold the audience’s attention? how does the audience respond to them?  (when I see folks drift off the floor, that tells a lot)

* Appearance – are there any special effects (lighting, fog machines, etc.) that are included?  Do they add to or detract from the performance?

* PUII – it takes years to be able to perform well while under the influence (and that only slightly) of intoxicants – if I see bands swigging brew before or during a performance, I’m especially watching for this.  Some bands (even the most well-known/respected groups) never do this well.

Marketability – this includes:

* Music Style (genre) – does this particular type of music have a wide range of appeal in the current mainstream market?

* Merchandise – are there shirts, EPs/albums available for purchase at the show?  Are there webpages featuring bio and current touring info with high-quality recordings of marketable singles?

Most bands will have some strengths in all of these areas, and partial (or negligible) strengths in others, resulting in a fraction (like 3 1/2 stars).  And yes, all of these ratings are subjective (similar to Ebert’s “thumbs up” ratings for movies).  Music, like all other art forms, is a matter of personal taste.  These ratings aren’t based on whether I personally “like” any style (genre) of music per se.  Each performance is reviewed solely on its own merits.

from the Quietus interview (Mark Eglinton, November 16th, 2009) with Jerry Cantrell: http://thequietus.com/articles/03227-alice-in-chains-interview-jerry-cantrell-layne-staley

“Jerry, you’ve always been careful over the years to avoid pigeon-holing the band. Was that because you thought grunge wouldn’t last?

Jerry Cantrell: ‘Well we were what we were before that word was even invented so… and I’d say that probably all the other bands from Seattle were doing what they were doing before that word was invented too. So I don’t know if anyone really feels comfortable with that title, that was the catchphrase which encompassed us at all, but as far as I look at it we’re all rock & roll bands to various degrees, drawing from all sorts of different influences. From pop to punk, to metal to rock, you name it. It’s kind of a mix of all of that stuff. So you’re correct on that. You just do what you do.’

“So the grunge tag was retrospective?

JC: ‘Yes totally. I mean when we first came out we were metal. Then we started being called alternative metal. Then grunge came out and then we were hard rock. And now, since we’ve started doing this again I’ve seen us listed as: hard rock, alternative, alternative metal and just straight metal. I walked into an HMV the other day to check out the placement and see what’s going on and they’ve got as relegated back to the metal section. Right back where we started!’ [ laughs]”

In other words, people – stop getting stuck on any particular label someone throws at you regarding your band… unless you are absolutely pure “punk” – if that is even possible – and someone calls you “country-western” or something else evil… then I think you have a legitimate gripe!

what exactly are my qualifications to write reviews on bands – it’s a valid question, here’s some information that may be helpful:

1.     Classically Trained.  I started playing piano when I was 5, and took lessons in classical music (Bach, Beethoven, etc.) for eleven years.  (I quit when my mom tried pushing me into Julliard at age 16).

2.     Further Training (guitar).  From piano, I went to guitar (acoustic, rhythm).  I still mess around with that, including writing songs (with lyrics).  So about… hmm, what’s 16 from 51?  However many years that is.

3.     Studio/Live Work.  All musicians end up in the studio and/or playing gigs.  I’ve done both (in front of and behind the sound board) off and on over the years as well.

4.     Concerts.  My first concert was in 1972, America in Ventura, CA (outdoor venue).  Lots of stuff in the air that didn’t include music – my 12 year old brain hardly knew what hit it!  I’ve seen so many bands play I can’t even remember a lot of them (sad); used to keep the ticket stubs but ran outta drawer space (well, ok, not really, but it sounded good).  Best shows I saw pre-2000 were the Dead (Oakland Coliseum, and yes, I was tripping), Yes (also in the Bay Area, S.F. I think?), B-52’s and Starship in (outside S.F. venues), Bush (Grand Rapids, MI).  Most recently two AIC shows (Salem Armory and PDX Coliseum) and Silversun Pickups (here in Eugene at the McDonald, followed by PDX Crystal Ballroom).  I’m usually at a “professional” show at least monthly, coming shows include Jimmy Eat World, Foster The People, and of course Floater (with This Patch of Sky who I just reviewed for this year’s LBS).  I also go to local venues weekly (Speakeasy, John Henry’s of course, WoW Hall where I volunteered for a few months as well).

5.     Previous Column.  Google my name and you’ll find a clip from a column I ran when I lived in Grand Rapids, MI for the local weekly paper (called, unimaginatively enough, “The Paper”) – the column was called “The Club Circuit” (clippings are available by email – just ask).  Anyway, Lucy Webster (folk guitar artist) put a part of my review of her show on her webpage – I never knew about it until I was Googling to see what would show up (you wouldn’t believe some of the things attached to your name!) – you’ll also see I’m involved in a lot of other stuff as well (including a weird post on classmates.com showing I attended Welches Elementary which I never did!).  The other stuff is all valid tho.

As for what I listen/look for when I’m reviewing a band, here’s some categories – these are based on my classical training as well as all the years playing and listening to bands:

* Timing – do all the musicians play together?  Does the drum and bass guitar keep time (most bands have a tendency to start speeding up as they go through a song)?  A popular thing to do (and very cool when it is done right) is to switch time signatures – it’s difficult and can oftentimes end up getting away from you (turning sloppy).

* Pitch – are the vocals on pitch with the instruments?  with each other?

* Tuning – are the instruments tuned correctly? and to each other?

* Lyrics – do they make sense within the song?  do they fit the style of music being played?

* Showmanship – do the musicians connect and interact with the audience? do they hold the audience’s attention? how does the audience respond to them?  (when I see folks drift off the floor, that tells a lot)

Obviously, if I like (or don’t like) a style of music, that makes it difficult to be impartial.  I do my best, but I’m human.  So sue me (I work with attorneys for my day gig).  If anyone ever has an issue with one of my reviews I definitely want to hear about it – I’m constantly learning myself!

While that cannot possibly encompass everything I know, that should give some background info that perhaps was lacking and hopefully answer some of those folks who were wondering who died and made me GOD (that’s GODDESS, by the way).  It’s just a column, folks.

So, we already know I don’t “do” screamo. For me, music is at LEAST half about the vocals – I want to hear (and understand) the story. I also want to hear the melody weave in and out and through the music. Screamo allows for neither. If was any other kind of vocals and did the same thing, I wouldn’t like it for the same reason(s).

Lest we end on such a negative note, I should mention that I actually like several “screamo” bands in spite of their use of this type of vocal styling, most notably early Linkin Park or Stone Sour/Slipknot.  I listen to the lyrics (which are easily discernable) and they don’t use that solely through the entire song.  If anyone can point me to a successful major-label band/recording artist that uses screamo exclusively I’ll recant.  =)

End of rant.