team reasonable is fucking back

returnfinal

I know I killed this blog back in September. I decided to bring it back. Because things are always better when they come back, right? There is a bit of housekeeping to take care of.

  1. I’ve spent the last eight months removing myself from all the PR lists I was on. I never intended to start this back up. That said, I don’t have access to advance stuff. It is what it is.
  2. The Tumblr I used to have as a mirror for this blog is gone. I deleted it a number of months ago and someone else scooped up the name almost immediately. I didn’t intend on bringing this shit back, so chalk that up to my own shortsightedness. There is a Team Reasonable on Tumblr, but it is not me anymore. I messaged them to get it back, but it probably won’t happen.
  3. I’m probably not going to be exclusively covering stuff on the greater punk spectrum. It will still make up the majority of posts, but me feeling limited and stuck was why I stopped to begin with. Don’t be surprised if you see a post outside those bounds.
  4. I’m sticking to just reviews again. Song of the week is on hold for now. I might bring it back once I get in the swing of things.

Other than that, updates occur when they occur. You know how I do.

Team Reasonable’s Wood/Silverware Anniversary

43This blog just hit it’s five year anniversary. Well, it did earlier this month. I kind of missed it. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, but I wanted to mention it briefly. It’s certainly not a big deal in any real way, but whatever.

A lot has happened since I started doing this shit back in 2010. I’ve moved three times, two of those being within the last year. I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis back in August of 2011, and have had a few relapses/flare ups/whatever since then. That’s actually the main reason I end up taking as many breaks as I do. The other reason is that I just get burned out. I could go into more detail, but that isn’t really the tone for this post.

I want to use this post to say thanks. Thanks to the bands who have emailed me about their new records. I probably didn’t respond because I’m terrible at emailing people back. But I listened to your records, and probably really liked them. Thanks to the labels and PR companies who continue to email me things, in spite of all the breaks I end up taking. I’m just a dude running a small blog, it’s nice to know that that kind of counts for something. And thanks to the people who read the shit I write. I’m not very good, and there aren’t a whole lot of you, but thanks all the same.

I’ve touched on this before, but I like keeping things small. This whole thing is just me, and I only like talking about things I like. I don’t see a reason to write about shit that sucks. I don’t do it, and have only done it two or three time in the past. I think that’s important. It’s easy to shit on things you don’t like, but you should use that energy to promote the things you do like instead.

So, yeah. Shit. It’s been five years. Doing better than I had planned. I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep this up. I turned 30 back in May. I don’t want to become that weird old guy yelling about punk rock on the internet. I don’t know. I think I’ve got a few more years in me though. Let’s see how it goes.

Joe Kelly vs. Record Store Day

Yesterday was Record Store Day. Fuck Record Store Day.  I understand the whole idea behind it, but I think it is overwhelmingly dumb. The whole point is to drive business to small, independent record stores. I am all for that, in theory. The problem is the follow through. For one day, the entire music industry, both major label and indie, pretend like they actually give a fuck about mom and pop record stores. For one day, the industry cares. The other 364 days a year they don’t.

If the industry really gave a shit about record stores, they would make a concerted effort to stop gouging customers for physical copies of things. It is fucking insulting to go to a record store and see a record being sold for damn near $20. Especially when I could just mail order from the label directly and only pay around $10 (including shipping). Offering limited pressing stuff one day a year does nothing to actually help. Especially if there remains such a disparity between what the records are actually worth versus what they are having to be sold for in order for the shop to make any money.

Additionally, the bands who do these limited RSD only releases are missing the point. Yes, it is a nice treat, but consider the issue. For example, Lemuria put of a Record Store Day exclusive 7″ this year. As a fan, I want to have that record. But, as is so often the case, I didn’t have extra money around to get it right now. I don’t have the time to drive half an hour or more to my nearest independent shop where they might not even have it anyway. At this point the only way I can get it is off the internet. Given that it was limited to 500, I will probably only be able to get it on eBay. Having looked at eBay prior to writing this, I can tell you that douchebag record flippers already have it up there for anywhere between $25 to $50. The sad truth is, more often than not, these limited pressings are not ending up in the hands of fans. They are ending up in the hands of flippers who are unscrupulously jacking up the prices in order to make a quick buck. Fuck that.

I miss record stores being around everywhere. I really do. I had a lot of good times going to my local indie store, Kiss The Sky, back when they had a huge store out in Batavia. Shit, I even enjoyed going to Tower Records damn near once a week. I just find gimmicky bullshit like this pointless. I’m sure the stores appreciate the one day surge in customers, but as a fan it means fuck all to me. Most shops still have everything fucking overpriced, and most limited pressing items aren’t actually getting to the fans for a fair price either.

It is a fucking waste.

Metapost

So, it has been quite some time since I last did a review or any kind of update here. So, I figured I would just give a brief run down of how shit has been here at HQ.

Back in the beginning of August, I was told I have multiple sclerosis. So, you know, medical bills have managed to send me about $5000 in the hole. All for medical care that I’m really not sure I want to begin with. So, that has made things kind of weird. In the back of my mind, I am thinking about the myriad of issues stemming from MS that I will likely have to deal with. On top of that, I have been moved back to third shift at work, so I am still trying get used to it.

Anyway, I have a bunch of shit set to review, and will certainly get to it very soon. Probably this weekend I will have something.
So, yep.

You wouldn’t take what you couldn’t have.

I was listening to Jawbreaker today. The song Friendly Fire came on. This was really the whole reason I wrote this little thing. The line “you demonize so you don’t look so bad. You wouldn’t take what you couldn’t have” made me think about all this. The punk scene, for better or worse, still seems to get stuck in the debate of major labels vs indie labels. This debate seems to keep resurfacing every time a pretty big band signs to a major. We saw it when Rise Against and Anti-Flag jumped shit from Fat Wreck to Dreamworks and RCA respectively. They both did it under the guise of “spreading their message to a wider audience,” which always feels like a cop out to me. There was an even bigger fuss when Against Me! jumped from Fat Wreck to Sire. Accusations of “selling out” were thrown, and we all got much stupider in the process.

At a time when the entire music industry is losing money hand over fist, this debate seems more ridiculous than ever. Since Napster was founded in 1999, it changed the way most of us got music. Why spend upwards of $16 on a CD, when all you wanted was the single? With the advent of Bittorrent, it has become even easier to illegally download media. If you intend to just rip the shit off anyway, does it matter what label you are stealing from? And, let’s be clear, downloading is stealing. I do not care how you justify it, or how I have justified it. You are taking a product designed for purchase without paying for it. People try to make the argument that, as long as it is major label releases, it is not really stealing. The problem is, people are taking just as much from indie labels. But, this is a whole separate discussion entirely.

Basically, the major vs. indie debate, in my mind, is just another offshoot of the 80’s hardcore movement. More or less, you had a bunch of bands that no major showed interest in, so they built the indie labels/distro themselves. The whole DIY culture. With the exception of Dischord Records, everyone seemed to be reactionary to the majors because they were not accepted vs. having any real underground ethics. Shit, even Black Flag and SST had a distro deal with MCA (via Unicorn) for about 10 minutes. It is easy to refuse something no one offered you anyway. This became evident when Hüsker Dü went major. The Replacements went major. Post-Black Flag Henry Rollins even had a few releases on Dreamworks. Again, uproar and bullshit. Basically, the foundation of “punk rock ethics” was built by the hardcore scene. Then, Maximum Rock N Roll built the dogmatic shit around that. So now, almost 30 years later, that dogmatic bullshit is law.

This is not to say there is not a difference between the two kinds of labels anymore. On a practical level, a major label album (or even an album on a large indie like Epitaph or Fat Wreck [which are distributed via majors]) are going to be more readily available in a commercial sense than an album put out on Too Indie For A Lyric Sheet Records based out of bullshit middle America. On an ethical level, indies are better when it comes to how artists are treated/paid/supported (Lookout! being the notable exception). But, given the advances in technology (most of all, the internet), does the label still matter?

The way I see it, not really. The fact that people are still willing to put out records at all is enough for me. Plus, with the majors losing so much money, they might not be around for much longer anyway. Now, I am not endorsing major labels, as I generally do not like them. But, a band signing over to one is not going to make me stop listening. Similarly, just because a record came out on a major is not going to stop me from buying it. If a band wants to make that jump, let them. Just stop with the bullshit back and forth. No one cares anymore.

Well, the “punx” do. But, fuck them anyway.

Emo Is Not Dead

Music, like everything else, is cyclical. A genre will come out, get over saturated, bastardized, and generally turned into a joke. The real aspect of that scene will go underground, and the scene will thrive again. This happened with ska (rather, ska-punk). That scene blew the fuck up due to pop acts like No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, and the like. Due to the commercial expansion, and later collapse, lots of things of the scene were lost. Moon Ska Records closed it’s doors. Ska became a punchline. Music for band geeks to cover cheesy 80’s songs. It became a joke. However, with bands like Streetlight Manifesto, The Chinkees, The Slackers, and The Toasters (holy fuck, those dudes have been around forever), the scene managed to stay active. If not more underground.

The same is true for emo music. Like many people my age, I was first exposed to the genre via the early/mid 2000’s explosion of popularity. Shit, Jimmy Eat World managed to get a hit record. I was exposed through bands like The Get Up Kids, Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, and At The Drive-In. Those bands put out some great records. In some cases, I do not consider them “emo,” but they were certainly influenced by it.

Meanwhile, there was another big thing happening in the scene. It was the Drive-Thru Records era. That label was putting out record after record of radio ready “pop-punk” that was constantly getting classified as emo. Bands like New Found Glory, The Starting Line, The Movielife, and Something Corporate (ugh), were all getting tagged as being emo bands. Those bands were to emo what Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris were to ska. Ok for what they were, but totally muddying the scene. From the Drive-Thru bands, you had the further bastardization of what was emo. Most notably with bands like My Chemical Romance and Fallout Boy. The genre tag was getting applied to things that had nothing to do with the genre, and in some cases nothing to do with the greater punk scene in general.

Well, as is wont to happen, the scene became a joke. It became more of a term to describe bands catering to kids with shitty haircuts, a penchant for self-harm, and day-glo shirts. Bands like Braid, Mineral, I Hate Myself, Heroin, and the extended family of bands stemming from Cap’n Jazz fell by the wayside. Now it was shit like “I wish my grass was emo, so it would cut itself” or “how many emo kids does it take to change a light bulb? None, they would rather cry in the dark.” What the fuck happened?

Well, the real scene went underground. The mainstream thought it understood what emo was, while being totally unaware. Through labels like Count Your Lucky Stars Records, Square Of Opposition Records, and Tiny Engines Records, we are finally seeing good records coming out to wide release. There is a bunch of talk about there being a “Midwest emo revival.” I disagree with the phrase because, for some of us, the scene never died. There were always bands we could stand behind. But, of the newer crop, there is Snowing, Castevet (now CSTVT), Grown Ups, Perfect Future, and Football, Etc. They are plenty more, but those are my personal favourites.

It seems unlikely that the mainstream definition will ever change to being realistic of what the scene historically was (and currently is), but I do not think anyone expects it to. But, at least we can take back what is ours.

See also: Article  @ Chicago’s Newcity Music:
The New Emo: It’s back, living underground and thriving in Chicago

*the picture for this entry is of CSTVT. I do not know the source, but I got it from the band page for them on Punknews.org. Sorry.