Do I still love the musicians? Not so much.

Music writers are like restaurant employees. Don’t be a dick during your interview. Think about it when we have book deals and you’re in the cut-out bin. Rob Crow recently pulled some attitude out of his expansive cargo, uh, cargo, SHORTS?!?!…..what the hell are those things? That’s ok. It’s thrifty not to discard what you wore to a Quicksand show in 1992.

The following is courtesy of my writerly colleague David Dunlap Jr.

(from the Memphis Flyer)

Beware of Geek
Living well hasn’t mellowed indie rocker Rob Crow.
BY DAVID DUNLAP | MARCH 8, 2007

At first glance, Rob Crow seems to be a likable enough guy. He’s got a great voice and a disarmingly schlubby appearance. On the artwork of his most recent solo release, Living Well, Crow is pictured with his new bride and even newer baby in a tableau of indie-rock domestic bliss. The press release for his latest even states that “the intensely personal lyrics document Crow’s courtship with his wife, their marriage, and the subsequent birth of their first child.” He’s a geek of the highest order; his popular band, Pinback, is named after a character from John Carpenter’s sci-fi comedy Dark Star, and on the song “Jedi Outcast,” he sings, “Remember Yoda!/And what he said/’There is no try/ There is only do.’”

Well, despite all of these endearing qualities, it seems that someone out there doesn’t think that Crow is such a mensch. On Living Well, there are not one but two versions of a song entitled “I Hate Rob Crow” — an album and a single version, naturally. The song is pleasant enough, and the blandly cryptic lyrics (a Crow staple) — “Wanted to be/Some kind of mess/The pain of it all/And not too impressed” — don’t offer any clues to what could have inspired such vitriol. No help comes from the song’s goofy video, which features Crow stumbling into an operating room and singing into a microphone attached to an intestine. Reportedly, the title came from a “particularly unpleasant roommate Crow had earlier in his life,” though Crow himself declines to comment on the

song’s origin. Perhaps it could have something do with his off-putting personality and anemic sense of humor. You’d think that Crow, the newly minted family man, would have found inner peace and that the guy who called a previous band Goblin Cock would be a laugh riot. Well, you’d be wrong on both counts.

Despite his new family, Crow remains the tortured artist. When asked if it was harder finding inspiration after settling down, he tersely replies, “I’m never satisfied.” Crow is a staunch vegan and an avid comic-book collector, and he exemplifies the more unsavory personality traits that both of those stereotypes confer. He is known to be sanctimonious and more demanding on contract riders than an artist with 10 times the star power. Though an indie-rock vet, he was more than happy to lend his sweet voice to a Clorox commercial, and Pinback contributed a lackadaisical cover of Black Flag’s “Wasted” to the cred-sapping compilation Music from the OC: Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks.

Surely, though, the guy who titled a Goblin Cock release Bagged and Boarded (a comic-book term) must have a hell of a funny bone. Again, no. The humor with Goblin Cock, his heavy-metal outlet, ended with the name and the song titles. Some of the more refined fans might claim that the humor never even began. In a fit of literal-mindedness, the not-ready-for-big-box-store-display artwork for Bagged and Boarded depicted the ridiculously large member of some underworld demon. Though Goblin Cock did, indeed, set off false metal alarms for the genre’s purists, Crow claims, “It’s not jokey. I’m just doing the band I want to see.”

On Living Well, Crow is still flying his geek flag, though not in a silly way. He titles one song “Liefeld,” after an oft-derided comic-book artist named Rob Liefeld, whose popularity peaked in the ’90s. Crow joins the chorus of Liefeld detractors, and the lyrics seem to be a critique of Liefeld’s drawing style and his trademark anatomical inconsistencies — “I know it’s strange, their eyes don’t match.”

Crow’s sparkling personality aside, the short, melodic songs on Living Well are enough to sate fans of Pinback until the duo releases its next record. Crow handles everything on the record — from playing to recording to producing. He compensates for his lack of rhythmic prowess by crafting complicated XTC-esque melodies with his guitar (”Over Your Heart”). Overall, Living Well is a tuneful, pretty bore. The trick, then, is how to translate the low-key home-recorded solipsism of the songs on the album into ones played by a full band in a live setting. So far, Crow seems happy with the results.

“The tour is going really well,” Crow says. “To the point where I wish I could record some of it over again with this band.”

While the band may be gelling on tour, the pressures of what Bob Seger chronicled in “Turn the Page” may be getting to Crow. When asked about balancing family life with life on the road, he replies, “Well, right now I’m just trying to finish this interview so I can spend some time with my family who came to visit me in New York for a couple of days between shows. It can be stressful.”

Perhaps the doughy malcontent isn’t living as well as it might seem.

Do I still love the music?

Oh, I do. The daily repetition of these songs threatens my quality of life.

The Hidden Hand – “Purple Neon Dream”

Alabama Thunderpussy – “Void of Harmony” (note: Due to the awful name and horror regarding anything billed as “Southern Metal”, I’ve never heard this band. The easy access promo cardboard sleeve and a long drive worked to introduce this catchy blaster. True to the cover art, it sounds a little like Molly Hatchet, but nothing like Bolt Thrower.)

Primal Scream – “Higher Than The Sun”

Dead C. – “World”

Ponys – “Small Talk” and “1209 Seminary”

Amerie – “1 Thing”

Metallica – “Motorbreath”

Wedding Present – “Suck”

Ween – various numbers from The Pod

Gene Clark – “Because of You”

Witchery – “Disturbing The Beast”

Rein Sanction – “Creel”

Jackson C. Frank – “My Name Is Carnival”

Can – “Fall of Another Year”

Salem 66 – “Postcard”

Bongwater – “The Drum”

LCD Soundsystem – “Someone Great”

Norman Greenbaum – “Alice Bodine”

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – “For You”

Terry Reid – “Superlung My Supergirl”

Here we are.

Dice: Undisputed…the first reality show that I will watch from start to finish. The White Rapper Show looked good on paper, right up my alley (cat), but interest sank. MC Serch was an insufferable moron (1), Prince Paul (2) was confusing and boring as a co-host, and the truly bizarre rappers were clipped early on. Also promising was Shooting Sizemore, yet clarification is needed as to why. I do not advocate or enjoy this style of reality show. The suffocating negativity peddled by addict/derelict/downfall reality series is uncalled for (in my life, at least), but I enjoy Tom Sizemore as a character actor, and his particular spiral appeared (in the previews) to reach insane depths (like homelessness). So, to approach personal hypocrisy, I just wanted to see how things would turn out. Otherwise, as a half-observed rule, exploitation of demolished lives is something that I find unsavory. Regardless, I’ve yet to see an episode.

Dice was never a drug addict. This was a career ruined by various forms of stupidity (3), lack of diversity and progress, the PC movement, and a bulldozing cruelty on the part of the entertainment business. Because of these things, hopefully, the Dice: Undisputed formula is different. I don’t pretend to know how rigged/scripted these shows are. Naturally, we start off with a broken man. Rather, the career is broken. Home life is comfortable, suburban, and primarily friendly. There’s a focus on how much he loves his kids. None of this should come as shocking if you’ve ever watched a reality TV show. Be it fake or genuine, the show has heart. The parade of disappointments, the Ford Taurus rental, the unfashionable dining choices, and especially his dad’s support….I am, so far, hooked like an idiot.

1. And deeply unlikeable as a host.

2. The purpose being what? That 7/8 of his audience is white anyway?

3. In my previous post re: this subject, a Bill Hicks reference was made. Let me clarify. Hicks’ material was, at the time, unquestionably cerebral compared to Dice Clay’s rube-ish, dumbshit posturing. Hicks’ material is also sorely overrated, and has aged like Candlebox. His post-mortem glorification is vexing…I just so very rarely find his bits laugh-out-loud funny. You may not like where Dice Clay took things, but that place, in a pure sense, was previously unconquered. Writer Mark Prindle has a better grasp of what makes the Dice Clay career fascinating/entertaining. Read that.

Where you’ll find me tomorrow night, etc.

(Bullet Point) I’m not here to surprise. I’m excited. Hopefully, there will be some mention of the last two Def American albums, the indie albums, and what has been happening since 2000. I find this him fascinating. I’m confortable with the predictability of it all. Edgy? Offensive? Bill Hicks? Please. For better or worse, there was nothing like this man’s comedy. He looks terrible. The skin underneath his eyes looks as though it’s seeking an out-of-court settlement with the rest of his face. Round 8 for that one.

(Bullet Point) I have not seen Zodiac, but…..I’m excited. I’m half-confident that David Fincher has made his first movie that falls outside of the Clever Art for Stupid People category.

(Bullet Point) Is this still interesting to people? Is a mainstream 80’s aesthetic (that has nothing to do with the music, sonically) still entertaining herds of idiots?

(from Pitchfork)

“With his midriff-baring t-shirts and loose-limbed dance moves, !!!’s Nic Offer is a total goofball in the unselfconscious way that only really cool guys can get away with being. If you’ve ever attended a performance by !!! or Offer’s former band, Out Hud, then you’re familiar with his repertoire: the Christ-like wingspan, overhead clapping, shimmying hips, gangly duck-walking, dervish spins, scissor kicks, and humpy pelvic thrusts. It’s like the mutant spawn of step aerobics, Flashdance, and Electric Boogaloo in an arena-ready package: ridiculous, extravagant, and completely awesome. Offer’s stage presence isn’t just deeply entertaining; it’s an ice-breaker that gives us permission, by example, to forget ourselves and celebrate with abandon. You can tell he’s having a hell of a time, and his enthusiasm is infectious.”

(Bullet Point) Ok, back to the excitement. These future reads make me smile:

Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage (Hardcover)
by
Pete Dexter (Author)

Goldilocks (Mass Market Paperback)
by
Andrew Coburn (Author)

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa (Paperback)
by
Michael Finkel (Author)

The Collected Memoirs of Charles Willeford : I Was Looking for a Street/Something About a Soldier (Paperback)
by
Charles Wileford (Author)

Fucked by Rock: The Unspeakable Confessions of Zodiac Mindwarp (Paperback)
by
Mark Manning (Author)

At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches (Hardcover)
by
Susan Sontag (Author), David Rieff (Foreword), Paolo Dilonardo (Editor), Anne Jump (Editor)

Record Nerds in a tizzy.

A Fall song on a Nissan commercial. The Buzzcocks peddling AARP. The Pogues and Cadillac.

Please, who really gives a shit? Calm it down. At least be happy for the artist. “Good” does not equal “starving.” When this happens, record nerds act as if they were cheated on by a once-faithful lover. Please find a more interesting avenue for your arm-waving tantrums. What will put this crutch to bed? The Dead C pushing Huggies?