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I Need Another Social Network Like I Need A Hole In The Head

(music news)

10.22.10 | Cloud Cult – Live on KEXP

… And, we’re back?

Hello. I feel like I’ve been living under a frigging rock for eons.

Musically, that is.

There have just been so many shakeups in the music industry, in the recording and selling of music and in the way that indie bands interact with fans and labels.

As I’ve said before, it just became overwhelming and nosebleed-inducing. That’s the main reason why I decided to take a break with this review site 2 or 3 years ago. Actually, I called it quits – but it was always in the back of my mind that we might come back.

There was a period in the late 90s to early 00s where it was an amazing, amazing time to be in an indie band and it was an amazing, amazing time to be a music review website. Bands were just starting to discover the benefits of promoting music online, and the number of “blogs” (ahhh, remember back when you needed to put that word in quotes) dealing with music reviews was still very small.

I felt like there was really a CONNECTION between bands and sites that wrote about them. It felt like there was something great happening. You didn’t need to be a Bitchfork. You could review whatever CDs you bought at Amoeba, and get a pretty decent following. You could email a fairly well known indie band or magazine and usually get a response. I would get 50 CDs from bands I’d never heard of a week in our post office box.

Those days are over.

Facebook, gootube, twitter, podcasts, and social networks, etc. have taken over. Bands now take publicity matters into their own hands (and rightly so, more power to you, rock on and such). Selling CDs? What the frap is that?

(Don’t get me started on how out of touch I am with teenage vernacular these days. Slang-angst has transmogrified itself into just the craziest mishmash of unbelievable slurm I’ve ever seen. Golly gee snap and such.)

Sure, you can write about music – no one’s going to stop you. Some may even thank you (I’ve found those people will number in the 3′s to 5′s). But you’re not going to get above a certain “X” amount of hits a day (the Boogle gods will ensure that), unless you whore your music blog out and try to get links to increase the popularity of your site (or, you host desirable MP3s on your site as a way to get people coming back – oh wait, you can’t do that anymore or you’ll get sued by the RIAA and such).

And at the end of the day, you sometimes wonder – what is the reason I do this again?

Sadfartface. I just got tired of playing the game.

But I’ve been sorta missing the whole music thing. Recently, I started subscribing to more music podcasts on my iPod. I just wanted to try and force myself to listen to new indie music, because I could seriously see myself starting to become one of those “old fogies” who listen to Queensryche day in and day out. Just kidding – I don’t really know anything about Queensryche, I’ll just be silent and lucid on that matter.

I actually have an old video iPod – that in itself is amazing, when you consider my phone is still the clamshell variety that you can drop from three stories up and not have it scratch the screen – because there IS no screen on it. Anyhow, I didn’t realize there were so many video podcasts out there.

Late last night, I was just checking out the different podcasts right before going to bed. I came across the KEXP podcast which had a band called Cloud Cult playing “There’s So Much Energy in Us” at a live session. I just instantly liked the song and the band. They remind me slightly of Earlimart or Sea Wolf with a larger sound like Polyphonic Spree or The New Pornographers. I guess it doesn’t hurt you to have really cute string players in your band as well…

I actually got up and wrote the name and song down on a piece of paper so I’d remember it in the morning. Oh, that’s the other thing about getting old – you tend to forget things nearly instantly…

The next morning, I got up and saw the note reminding me to look up the band. I did, and was somewhat shocked to learn that they’ve been around since 1995. That’s about fricken FIFTEEN years. Fifteen years, and I hadn’t really heard of them – and there was a point in time where I knew pretty much everything there was to know about indie music and more (I DID become one of those nutcases who knew of indie bands before they themselves knew they existed.)

I don’t know why that’s so important, or what that has to do with me trying to restart this review site. But it WAS really important. I think it was also the fact that this band has toiled (or “had fun”, take your pick) in semi-obscurity for so long (well, not so obscure, seeing as one of their songs was featured in an Esurance commercial, and by the way that song is probably the worst Cloud Cult I’ve heard). And hey, you don’t see them complaining. They just keep doing it. So, I was thinking – is me complaining about the lack of recognition of this website just me being a typical whiny, narcisistic me?

This is probably extremely close to true.

Anyhow, I’d already recently taken steps to upgrade the blog so that it would work – just in case I decided to post again. So, I think at this point, I probably will keep posting. Consider this Cloud Cult post the first one.

I’m sure the band is reading this post right now and wondering, “Just how do I get the address of this idiot so I can go over to his house and smack him across the face with a large didgeridoo so he stops including our band in his ridiculous ramblings.”

I think the important thing now is to keep my expectations low and slow. I’ll probably start with only “Music News” for now. You know – just post about music that’s interesting. I don’t buy too many CDs nowadays, and I’ve shut off the incoming CD submissions. So full CD reviews are out of the question for now. But I’m planning on re-opening it eventually – I’d be curious to see if indie bands still send out CDs for promotions still, or if they rely soley on online means.

In any case, I just want to write about music occasionally because it makes me feel good. Or at least it makes me feel better sometimes. I think the main reason that I’ve always had problems with running blogs is that I just have a hard time making friends and contacts – online and offline. You would expect that with the reduction of barriers that the online world has brought about, it would be EASIER to make friends. It is, theoretically. But in reality, it’s just difficult and sometimes depressing. One of the main issues with running a review blog (or any site, for that matter) is that the type of attention or contact you get with people is them WANTING things.

I’m not sure how to explain that, and likely you wouldn’t understand unless you have my type of personality AND you’re a music reviewer. The Expectations, though they aren’t spelled out, are just SO overwhelming at times.

So, I’m probably going to keep a close watch to make sure it doesn’t descend into that sort of situation, where I just feel like stopping. I want to keep writing about music, but I don’t want it to get to that point where it was earlier. Everytime I hear a great song on the radio, or in a podcast, or at a show (far and few between nowadays), I’ve felt like writing about it. There’s something inside of me, and inside of most of you. There’s so much energy in all of us. And I’d like to share some of that musical energy with the world.

(palebear thoughts)

4.13.10 | Upgradin…

Hello. HELLO. You are not going to believe this, but here I am posting in April of 2010. It turns out I’m going to try and upgrade the WordPress on the site. Finally.

If it doesn’t work out, this will be the last thing you ever see on this website before I delete it off the server. Have a nice life and such. However, if it works – well, I might be thinking about starting to review stuff again. Famous last words and such.

But hey, it’s worth a shot right? If I decide to start up again, I’m just going to talk about whatever music I’m interested at the moment. I won’t be accepting anything through the mail in any case until I can sort this stuff out. Sorry to those who keep sending in demos, I’ve been throwing them in the trash…

Here goes nothing.

[Edit: It seems to have worked, but I guess we'll see!]

(music news)

9.10.08 | AT – Calico Cliche

Avoidance Theory - Calico ClicheOK, sorry. One last bit of bizness before I take my leave. Most of you know I also play in various bands. I figured I’d go out with a little self promotion. Come on, I’ve earned it…

Avoidance Theory is releasing a FREE EP of four songs – this may be increased as time goes on. You know how I always complain about the music biz (haha, and you thought me an my complaining ways had left the building)? Well, it’s sorta because I’m involved in the artist’s side of it too. It’s just so tough nowadays actually release music if you’re not a great touring band with loads of fans. Or you have a billion MyDisgrace or Gootube sycophants.

We’ve been having such a tough time figuring it out, that for now I’d rather people just listen to it for free than create a money barrier that truthfully is MUCH more trouble than the 5 bucks we net off of each manufactured CD sold.

So, here you go: Download the Calico Cliche EP now. Add it to your playlist. Blog it. Dump it in the Windows (or Mac) recycle bin. Burn copies and distribute them to unsuspecting polar bear biologists.

Do what you will. And have a nice day!

(palebear thoughts)

7.31.08 | See You Later…

Palebear Sez Thanks For The Memories And He'll Likely Return On This Site But Won't Review Any More

“The time has come,” the Palebear said, “To talk of many things…”

Well, yeah. I already knew that reviewing music for free just couldn’t last for me. I’m just surprised that this post hasn’t come sooner.

If you know me well enough, you’re now expecting me to launch into a blistering attack on the music industry, the Shblogosphere, bands that send in CDs that don’t play in the computer, people who steal MP3s (yes, farker, it IS stealing), and all the hanger-on peeps who constantly want things from me.

The truth is that I’ve ranted about that many times before, and pretty much nothing came out of it. Understandably, no one cares because there are FIFTY BILLION music blogs out there and each and every one is pretty much better than this one.

So, I’ve decided not to waste my breath. I’ve been reviewing music for about 10 years now, although only the last 5 years have been online and pretty much only the last 3 or so have been on Palebear. It’s been way too long. I’m tired of it. I’d like to take back the enjoyment of music simply to enjoy it. I’d like to put on a CD and not have to worry about if it sounds more like MBV or GBV. I’d like to regain my closet space. Etc.

I’d like to have fun listening to music again.

I won’t be accepting any more CDs or submissions for review any longer. It was so nice to get free stuff but the work and worry involved in reviewing them just isn’t worth it. If you send them my way, assume they’re going in the trash or that I’ll donate them. The Palebear site will probably return in some form or another, most likely a personal portfolio site or some other thing. I’ll probably keep the bear logo.

For those bands who have CD reviews up currently on the site, I’m going to try keep the archives around in the background. I have to figure out how to do this, but you shouldn’t have to change your links.

Lastly, I would like to send out some thanks. I’ll keep it all positive in order to end this on a good note.

Thank you to:

Subpop – Thank you so much for everything. You were really the only bigger indie label who ever gave us the time of day. On top of that, you were already one of my favorite labels going a long way back. I wish you the best…

Filter Mag – Same goes for you, thank you for the promo materials you sent without fail, even when we failed to review more than 1 out of 10 CDs. Wish you the best as well.

SOMAFM – Elise, you’re the best. We listen to the radio show nearly every day for at least a few minutes. Hope to send you some more of our own stuff one of these days. Thanks for keeping indie pop rocks fun.

Hush Records – Thanks Chad for all the excellent music from the label, even though we were pretty spotty on coverage of your artists. Funny to hear that you’re actually Poddington, I had no idea…

Beechfields Label – Thanks for all the excellent music, you’re one of my favorite smaller labels. I wish you and the rest of the Baltimore, Maryland area bands the best in the future. I did get your compilation and it’s great.

Pants Yell! – You are rad. There are no other words to say.

Asaurus – Same to you. Thanks for all the connections to the wonderful smaller bands and labels.

Indie Swedish Bands – Thank you all, you are all amazing. I don’t mean to also exclude the Norwegian, Danish bands as well. In fact, a special thank you to everyone who sent music from other countries. I must have gotten music from 25-30 different countries over the past 5 years. It was really fun to get stuff from far away.

Everyone else I skipped – Thank you. I didn’t feel like making a huge list.

Lastly, thank you to ALL the unknown labels and bands who sent in music. It may not have seemed like it, but we appreciated getting a chance to find those diamonds in the rough. There were surprisingly many. Keep on making great music – look forward to hearing you on the radio.

See you later,

(music news)

7.10.08 | Fleet Foxes Video

Fleet FoxesI haven’t posted a review on the Fleet Foxes‘ super-excellent album that came out awhile ago. I just can’t find enough good things to say about it, but that’s ok because they’re getting a ton of good press. Already, being talked about for people’s best-of-year lists and such.

It really IS a great album – a cross for me between Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket, Beach Boys, Shins, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. That last one – I don’t know what they even sound like really, but SO many people have jumped on the bandwagon saying that there is a great resemblance that I decided to sucuumb to shoddy journalism by claiming that as well. Heh.

Oh, there is an interesting video for their song White Winter Hymnal up on Subpop. Low light, Wallace and Gromit style stop claymotion action…

Oren Lavie
The Opposite Side Of The Sea

[Blue Smile]

I’m going to admit that I’m a little bit out of my league trying to review this Oren Lavie CD. No doubt it’s a wonderful collections of smoky, quirky, mellow tunes. And actually, there is a very good chance that you’ve already heard a song. The opening track, “Her Morning Elegance” was used in a Chevy Malibu commercial.

I know I got one reference correct immediately, even though it’s an easy one – Nick Drake‘s footprint is everywhere. Oren’s voice is hushed, even ragged sounding at times, which goes pretty well with the sparse arrangements. No pounding drums here. There are a lot of orchestral arrangements, at times a bit whimsical. Sometimes it reminds me of the strings on The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”. The other name that comes to mind is Leonard Cohen, though the songs aren’t as bleak. Also, uh, Sting? Beyond that, I’m afraid I’m going to have to let this one ride in the Ipod for a bit.

Support Indie Music:
Get it on: Amazon | Insound

Gregg Yeti And The Best Lights
Heart Palpitations...

[Eskimo Kiss]

If you’re wondering what’s with all the reviews on the same day, the way it works over here is that there’s a long, long, long, farking long queue of music. Every so often, I need to purge that queue so that I can reclaim space on my floor and in the closets. I haven’t done this in nearly 6 months. So there’s some “purging” afoot. I usually review about 10% of what I receive – the rest gets recycled or sent to the thrift. Yep, it has to be this way. Otherwise, I would be writing reviews in my sleep. Not that I’m doing that now.. Zzz =)

Back to reviewing – another CD that’s up my alley is Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights. A little dose of slacker-90s lo-fi-aesthetic pop is sometimes just what you need to get you out of the neu-Coldplay doldrums… OK, after I wrote that, I was thinking that I RIYL-ed a little hastily. It’s not slacker GBV-ish, not even close. There is, however, a sort of laid back feel to the songs and the voice.

Never mind that the long title (“Heart Palpitations of The Rich & Famous”) sure challenges my blog’s reformating prowess. There’s some great keeper tracks here – Gregg’s singing and the song structures are very Sebadoh-ish. Most of the songs aren’t aggro – they’re the more introspective ones. Maybe some New Pornographers in here as well? There’s also some even more mellow, dare I say shoe-gazeyness, going on in songs like “Colonize Your Eyes”. And “Building Houses” sounds almost like an Ida song.

Mr. Yeti enlists a few others to help out with singing and other duties, but for the most part he plays all the instruments. Out on Eskimo Kiss…

Support Indie Music:
Get it on: Amazon | Insound
(cd review)

6.30.08 | The Republic Tigers – Keep Color

The Republic Tigers
Keep Color

[Chop Shop Records]

This is another CD that’s been kicking around in my player for a few months. I’ve been trying to “figure them out”, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is the wrong direction. But you know what, I’ve no time for wrong directions. So here is a blurb I found directly from Filter:

“Actually Sounds Like: Catchy Postal Service beats combined with whimsical Shins like singing create an all together unique listening experience.”

Hmm… so I don’t think that’s especially accurate. Maybe the Shins reference, but definitely not Postal Service. I actually think it sounds more Air or Mercury Rev at times. If they’re having as hard a time as me describing the music, something’s wrong. I still like quite a few of the songs and I feel like it’s going to be one of those “grow on you albums.” But so far nothing about them has completely knocked my socks off. Decent stuff, though.

Support Indie Music:
Get it on: Amazon | Insound

The Transport Assembly
Improbable Songs

[Broken Twilight]

If you have an aversion to atonal mathy-rock, I can guarantee that you won’t like this album by The Transport Assembly. I REALLY liked it, however. It has a trippy, twiggy, twisted feel to the songs. I’m not surprised to see a Jim Yoshii Pileup connection. Other bands brought to mind are Deerhoof, XiuXiu, etc. Maybe Sonic Youth a bit. The singing is kinda Elephant 6-ish though, which makes it even better for me. I am trying to pry it loose from my CD player but it will not come unstuck. Delicious, dangerous and dissonant fun.

Support Indie Music:
Get it on: Amazon | Insound
(cd review)

6.30.08 | The Duke Spirit – Neptune

The Duke Spirit

[Shangri-La Music]

As an example of how far behind I’ve gotten, this disc by The Duke Spirit came out in April and I’m just getting to it now at the end of June. Oh well. I’ve been contemplating taking a long break until the end of the year. If I do, I’ll put up a notice on the submission page so that bands that send in their CDs will know they’ll have a long(er) wait ahead.

Back to the music – the album Neptune by The Duke Spirit has sort of struck me as a cross between Silversun Pickups, Chan Marshall, and Midnight Movies. Energetic, slightly dancey rock with a female singer with awesome pipes. That’s about all I’ve got for you right now – the band has been around for quite awhile with a good number of releases but this is the first I’ve heard of them.

Support Indie Music:
Get it on: Amazon | Insound