Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Novelty Wears On

People tell me I'll get tired of it, but the snow fell for a second time in Huntington (it started falling last night & as of this morning it hasn't stopped), & it's kinda dreamy & lovely. Here, you can see for yourself:

There might even be a white Christmas here this year. I think I may go walk around & fall down in it in a little while.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Final Death Of The "Best Of" List

Oh don't I wish. It might be a more honest world if people listed their "favorites" but then what would the music snobs do? Besides continue to talk about how much better music sounds on vinyl, I mean.

Hey! This week's show is my favorite indie music, etc., from 2009. You can listen to it at the usual place, which is Compare it with your own list of favorites, if you make one. When you make one. Will you make one?

On a sad note, this week's Sugar Substitute, which kind of continued my favorites, didn't make it into the recording device I use to save my shows for posterity. I think it was user error, with me being the user. & the error. Sorry about that.

Did you know - did I tell you - you can become a fan of Self Help Radio on Facebook? If you didn't, I'm glad I told you. If you did, I'm embarrassed I said anything. Oh when will this nightmare end?!?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Know What I Hate? Know What I Love?

I could write a daily blog about the "joke of the day" service I subscribe to. They try so hard to be non-offensive that they have a special word (which I can't remember, but it's a made-up race/nationality/belief system) they insert instead of saying, you know, as they would at UT, "How many Aggies does it take..." My brain keeps telling me it's "archon," but I think that's a race in Star Trek. It makes it doubly adorable when the occasional racist joke oozes through. However, what annoys me is the jokes that involve some kind of pun. Whenever there's a joke like that, they SPELL OUT the pun. For example, if the pun is "Eileen Dover" they'd write "(I leaned over)" next to it. As if their subscribers might just go "Heck, I don't git it!" & angrily unsubscribe.

Here's today's so-called joke: "The olympian skier Picabo Street now works in the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital. Unfortunately, the administration told her she can no longer answer the phone, because this is what she said, 'Picabo ICU' (Peek-a-boo, I see you)."

I had never heard of Picabo Street so I probably wouldn't know how to pronounce the name (I might pronounce it pick-AH-bo) but I would probably have guessed from the ICU that it was supposed to be a pun. But they fucked up the punchline! It's more funny if they say something like, "She kept answering the phone..." Bad grammar AND they spell the dumb joke out. Ak! I hate that!

Okay, that's what I hate. What I love is of course doing Self Help Radio, which, I remind you, airs as it normally does tomorrow on 88.1 fm WMUL but at the afternoon hour of 1pm rather than in the morning. There's a reason for it & I might already have explained it, but anyway, it features my favorite indie music of 2009, & Sugar Substitute, after that, features the spillover, so it's basically three hours of awesome 2009 music.

Aren't it Huntington? No problem! It'll be on later in the day. We take care of you. Silly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Whither Gary's Favorite Indie Music 2009?

I said a mouthful yesterday. It stands. It was a nice year for music - I am happy with crazy nice discoveries, like the Wave Pictures, plus continuing excellence like Bearsuit. Also, what a year for my friends in Luxuriator! An appearance of KVRX's Local Live as well as a debut single. In not too long, they'll be riding around in limousines & throwing burning money at me.

It's Monday evening & I'm still reviewing records from the year - I am a little fearful that I'm leaving something out because I don't have enough things in my miserable life to stress out about. Hey! Last year I missed a Guild League record & a Secret History EP that would easily have made my best of. Think I'm going to let that happen again? Okay, I might, but can I at least let it happen while I'm trying as best I can to keep it from happening? I mean, I know I'm inept, but it's easier to be actively inept than simply lazy. Y'know?

I'm not going to give you any hints about what'll be on the show, no, but I suspect you have a sense of what the show will contain. So be patient. It's less than forty-eight hours away.

What? Less than forty-eight hours? Holy fuck, I've got to go listen to music!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Preface To Gary's Favorite Indie Music Of 2009: What Kind Of Man Reads Year-End Lists?

Oh yes, & it's not just the end of the year. It's the end of the decade, which means a cottage industry in "best of the 2000s" lists, though I'm not going to link to them, because frankly virtually none of the songs & musicians that end up on these lists can be seen or found on my lists. You might think it's because I simply have different tastes than the makers of these lists, who are generally the people who are paid to be critical of music. But that's not true. Listen:

Most of these lists are made by people who are paid to be critical of music. Where do the people who are paid to be critical of music get the music they are paid to be critical of? Record companies, of course. For free. They're not clicking on myspace pages to find "the next big thing." They spend less on music than your average illegal downloader, these people who are paid to be critical of music. So it's only natural that they review & choose from the records they get for free. Do you think small record companies - not to mention bands that don't have labels or maintain their own - can afford to send every person who is paid to be critical of music a free record? & can you imagine how those people who are paid to be critical of music treat the records that come in a plain wrappers as opposed to those which come in lavish, expensive packages?

Ah, but don't these people who are paid to be critical of music also review live bands? Sure. But generally if they go out to see a band somewhere it's usually a band they've been introduced to by a record company, or it's a band there's a "buzz" around or that's been "recommended" by someone (perhaps a record company representative). People who are paid to be critical of music don't really have the time to listen to as much music as possible to make an informed decision. So you can bet that they haven't heard 99% of what's been created & released in any given year.

They also need to pay attention to what the listeners are listening to. This, it turns out, is worse than simply choosing from the best of the pile of the less than 1% of what's been released that year which is given away by record companies to the people who are paid to be critical of music. Because the majority of people who listen to music, for good or ill, listen to music they hear on commercial radio, which is owned by the media giants who also own the record companies, so are geared to selling as much as possible of the artists (the term used loosely) who can make them the most money possible. Many of those artists, of course, are the same artists they've "invested" in, with expensive laser concert shows & videos, & for whom they've spent millions on fancy producers & fancy studios in which to record. It's only natural that, at best, a couple dozen of these rise to the top & make a splash. A few even hang on.

In any event, most "best of" lists are basically popularity contests, & that popularity (like with the Grammys) is often based on units sold. The majority of the "voters" (ie, the listening public) buy the stuff they hear on commercial radio, & the people who are paid to be critical of music review the stuff sent to them by the record companies which are controlled by the same people who own the radio, & each "best of" list is corrupted by hazily-seen forces of laziness, vanity & greed.

I prefer to instead list my favorites, since they're bound not to be your favorites, whether you actively seek out new music in the same way I do or simply listen to the radio waiting for something to interest you (which will happen, as the record companies know, when you've listened to something at least five times & it becomes familiar to your brain) or somewhere in between. You should love the music you love in whatever way you wish to love it. Just please, don't be influenced by these lists, which can't possibly be the best of anything because the majority of the people making the lists - especially the people who are paid to be critical of music - have simply no interest in listening to the spectrum of music out there. The media giants that stroke them keep them happily ignorant of the amazing musical world around them, & they make sure between them they get as close to all of the music-consuming public's money as possible.