Monday, November 16, 2009

Pulley Performer Picked to Prepare 'Pen at Progressive Park

Get stoked baseball and punk music fans! It was announced earlier today that Scott Radinsky will be the bullpen coach for the Cleveland Indians for the 2010 season. New manager Manny Acta must be a skate punk fan because he called up Radinsky from the Triple A Buffalo Bisons, where he was serving as pitching coach. Radinsky, as I've mentioned before, is the lead singer for the band Pulley and used to lead Ten Foot Pole.
As you probably know, most Major Leaguers have terrible taste in music. Now the Indians have an expert that can guide the bullpen and guide musical taste. Here's how it will probably go down:

The Cleveland Indian bullpen gathers for a meeting during spring training in Arizona. They sit at their lockers while Radinsky saunters around with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in hand, occasionally glaring at the pitchers before him.
Scott Fuckin' Radinsky: All right, hillbillies, let's go over some of your warm up song choices. Perez! What song are you using?
Chris Perez: I like "Firestarter" by Prodigy.
SFR: BORING! I bet you like apple pie and hot dogs, too, don't you, Chrissy?
Perez: Yeah, I . . .
SFR: That's enough. You are now warming up to "Skulls" by The Misfits. Masterson, what are you listening to?
Justin Masterson: "Rebirthing" by Skillet. It's pretty cool
SFR: Christen Nu-Metal? You're breaking new barriers in suck, Masterson. You're now rocking "Linoleum" by NOFX. I opened for NOFX when you were 9 YEARS OLD! Can you believe these kids, Kerry? What do you warm up with?
Kerry Wood: I don't use a warm up song, coach.
SFR: *spits out PBR* WHAT? Get the hell out of my bullpen? How are you still on this team anyway?
Radinsky storms into a storage closet and rolls out cart with a TV and VCR.
SFR: Okay, this is obviously going to be a year long struggle. It's a good thing I got some sweet videos to inspire you. Check this shit. *pulls video cassettes out of duffel bag* *blows into VCR slot* *pops in first video* This one is my first band called Ten Foot Pole. Can you say Ten Foot Pole? Ugh, just forget it.

SFR: You didn't know I had such cool moves did you? That was me shaking out the cancer. Here's me leading my current band. Notice the increased command that only a wily veteran can provide.

SFR: Okay, that's enough loafing for one day. Let's go practice by throwing rocks at Jhonny Peralta.

*everyone cheers*

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In the Batting Circle: NoMeansNo

One side effect of easy (and illegal) downloading is that it is too easy get immersed in the latest music and put blinders on to the predecessors. People used to take suggestions from bands they loved as clues to what made them the artist they are. Brendan Kelly of one of my favorite bands, The Lawrence Arms, has made his affection for NoMeansNo apparent on a couple of occasions. He and Neil (TLA and The Falcon drummer) raved about the band in an interview and suggested the album Wrong as a starting point.
As is the practice of today, I generally ignored the suggestion. But fortunately for me, I found the album recently and I've been rewarded with one of the most unusual and fulfilling albums I've ever heard. NoMeansNo consists of brothers Rob and John Wright, and Tom Holliston (Holliston replaced Alex Kerr in 1993). The one word that comes to mind when I listen to the band is "primal." It's a type of music that is noticeably complex, but somehow seems simple and, as I said, primal.
To say that NoMeansNo influenced the fellas from The Lawrence Arms is evident, but not superficial. The bass lines punch similarly to many TLA songs. The "Hoos" you hear on "The Routes We Wander" on The Falcon album and EP are taken from NoMeanNo's "Tired of Waiting."
Since I have very little experience with some older bands, I can't compare NoMeansNo with other bands. They share some qualities with Dead Kennedys. The experimental aspects seem like predecessors to Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come. Simply put, they're a fascinating band and Wrong is their masterpiece. Please to enjoy:

Create a playlist at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Press Box Blues

Maybe I have a mix of cynicism and jealousy that keeps my ranting index up, but a few too many things popped up recently that were all too annoying and similar in scope, that it just has to be done.
During the this year's World Series, as with every World Series before it, hundreds of newspapers sent a reporter on an all expenses paid trip to one of the most sought after events on the planet. Such accommodations were not enough for some writers, including Philadelphia Inquirer's Frank Fitzpatrick. According to Fitzpatrick, he was too late to get to the usual press box (the Yankee Stadium spread was delectable!), so he had to go to an axillary box in the cold outreaches of new Yankee Stadium, where peons pay mere hundreds of dollars to have the same privilege.
We all would have huddled near the TV monitors for warmth had there been any TV monitors. Apparently it was OK for the cream of the nation's sportswriters to get wet but not for TVs.
Watching the TV and not the live action? Seems you could have done that from home.
Dan Levy then pointed out an irony recently. Murray Chass, who was a longtime sportswriter for the New York Times and currently blogs writes for his personal blog web site, got a press pass even though no one really reads his work anymore. What am I going to do though? The guy was forced out of a job that has no place for him anymore. Also, he fears stats more complicated than batting average, so his writeups could have been done by a robot.
Now that the season is over, general managers meetings and other MLB meetings take up baseball writers' valuable travel budget. Last year, GM meetings were held in Las Vegas and the St. Regis Monarch Resort in Dana Point, Calif. This year? The Airport Hilton in Chicago and the Winter Meetings are in Indianapolis, Ind. It's not so much that MLB is cutting down on expenses than those cities won the bid to host the meetings. But certainly beat writers won't complain about free travel, right? Oops.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In the Batting Circle: Vietnam Werewolf

We go from a band having a potentially detrimental name to a band that earns automatic nerd cred (redeemable at any comic book store or video arcade) with Vietnam Werewolf.
Vietnam Werewolf hail (hailed) from Cleveland, which I believe is the Da Lat of the Cuyahoga Valley. Their sole full length, titled Ohio's City was released in 2008. I only got a chance to listen to this album because of the site If You Make It. They have quite a few albums that are on the pay what you want system. I actually downloaded this a couple months ago, but forgot about it so you can probably guess how much I paid for it (In my defense, there are a couple albums on my computer now that I did buy and forgot about for a few months. It's the danger of not having physical copies of music.).
Ohio's City contains a wide range of pop punk, from singalongs of Dillinger 4 to the gritty dual vocals of Latterman to the complete and complex song structures of Thrice to the liberal and socially conscious lyrics of Rise Against. They were a talented band that did a great job of showing of their chops on their lone release. According to their Myspace page, the band more or less broke up within the past year. Matt (a staff reviewer at Punknews) is in college, Jon and Andy play in a band called Little Sister, which is a thrash band. Tim moved on to play in Echoes of Harper's Ferry, which is a similarly amazing band from Cleveland. (Their album was reviewed at Punknews by Matt. A little bit of a conflict of interest for everyone!)
Go to If You Make It to download this album and many more releases from bands wanting you to hear their work.
In maintenance news, can everyone see/work the audio player? Is it workable or should I use another player? Anyone know of a better mp3 player for blogs?
Enough with that. On with the show . . .

Create a playlist at

Friday, November 6, 2009

In the Batting Circle: Murder By Death

It's tough to overcome prejudices. When I first heard of a band called "Murder By Death," I didn't know what to expect, but it couldn't have been good. They're doubling up on kill references in their name. Fortunately, I had a chance to hear their latest real album last year (they have since recorded a instrumental accompaniment to a graphic novel) and I was quickly converted.
No matter how many times I have to do it, I can never find proper words to describe their style. It's sort of spaghetti western meets metal. They take the dark, gritty imagery from both genres and make songs that sculpt figures better than Remington. Lead singer Adam Turla provides a distinct, deep baritone that depicts the lonely hired hand. He also has bad ass mutton chops. Sarah Balliet provides one of the most unique aspects to the band with her ominous cello play.
Despite these western Americana images, the truly epic stories give the songs a metal swagger. I had the opportunity to see the band open for Gaslight Anthem and there was definitely a guy holding an invisible skull. You know that move. The Hamlet.
Another reason this band is on my mind is because they are performing in my town of Springfield, Mo. on Dec. 5 at the Outland Ballroom. It is a benefit for Toys for Tots. (Previously mentioned The Bootheel will be opening.) If you live anywhere near the area, you must go. The last time the band played here in that venue, the intimate atmosphere made for one of the best shows I've attended. So check them out.
Image courtesy of Live Buzz of Bloomington, which has a more eloquent show review than I could pull off.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Defending the Bully

Congrats to the World Champion New York Yankees. I mean that. I really do. They were obviously the best team in baseball and proved that since August. A common reaction to the Yankee success is that they "bought" the championship. That, of course, is ignorant and juvenile.
The Yankees compete with the same rules as every other team. They spend more than any other team, but also contribute the most to the collective bargaining agreement. The more that the Yankees spend, the more money the Royals owners can pocket. Let's move onto teams like the Royals.
People complain that these small market teams can't compete with the monoliths in the Northeast. Here's my rebuttal: baseball owners are so rich that the OWN BASEBALL TEAMS. It's not like they are living CBA paycheck to CBA paycheck. Sure, MLB teams are investments like anything else, but it's easier to miss water falling out of a boat than to not make money in Major League Baseball. Look at the empty seats at the Metrodome for Twins games. That team will be in a brand new, open air (enjoy April) stadium next season.
Rhetorical friend: "Well, wouldn't a salary cap be more fair?" I respond: You're not even real. But to address your suggestion, a salary cap would be more "fair" but also far more boring. A hard salary cap is one of the worst aspects of the NFL. It makes teams nameless, faceless robot squads (actually, that kind of sounds cool). Regardless, it makes every team the same and then you have no "enemies," and only the manufactured pablum of faux outrage. Watch wrestling for that crap. You can hate the Yankees and the Red Sox for spending more on a number 5 hitter than your hometown spent on a water purification system, but you can only hate the Cowboys and the Raiders because of the colors of their uniform. Another theory I have is that if baseball really wants to clean up steroids, then a salary cap would not work. The NFL depends on steroids to keep its players at a relatively even playing field (have you seen people NFL linemen size in the real world? Didn't think so).
I'm not saying that baseball's system is perfect. A salary floor is a more palatable idea to me, but even that has its flaws. Also, as much as I and many other people would like the economic situation in baseball to change on some level, there is very little chance of that happening as long as that goose keeps pooping gold.
So hope for change, but don't go too far. Let's let the Evil Empire have this one. They may have to wait another nine years before they can buy another championship.
In other news, The Freak got caught with some sticky icky. It's probably the weakest drug a Cy Young winner has used in 14 years.
Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

King of Crap Mountain

Pabst Blue Ribbon is for sale. Tens of thousands of punks and hipsters just dropped their ironic monocle's in astonishment. Why would any intellegent business person want to sell one of the top commodities in America today (wedged somewhere between the Snuggie and the Blackberry Curve 2)? Sales have been up because of the poor economy and the rise of Girl Talk. Having grown up in the St. Louis area, this is almost as devastating as the Anheuser Busch sale (not quite, though, because A-B has HORSES!).
Whomever or whatever buys the brewing company, is going to need a marketer and that marketer should be me. What are my qualifications? I think I've been to enough hipster dive bars and choked down enough PBRs to deserve the position (or at least a button to put on my derby hat). What are my plans? I'm amazed you haven't asked yet. Here they are anyway.
1. No more sponsoring NPR Music's Online Concert Series. NPR is a bit too conservative for Pabst's demographic. PBR will be the exclusive beer sponsor of The Daily Show and This American Life. It's a working class beer for people of diverse political persuasions, you say? I have never seen anyone my parents age or older drink it. That said, won't drop the illusion of a working class beer altogether.
2. Commercials will have two themes.
  • Specialized Working Class: These commercials will feature grainy stock images of late 1930's union workers. Preferably working on docks (we'll photoshop PBR bottles in if we need be). For these ads modern day images of people actually working will never be used because it will just remind the target demographic that they do not contribute to society in a meaningful way.
  • Actual Use: These ads will feature 30 seconds at any hipster-heavy concert in the United States. These will include, but are far from limited to, Fleet Foxes, Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, and Dillinger 4 shows (D4 show will be pixelated for the inevitable band nudity.). Any 30 second footage from these show will provide more than enough product exposure.
3. Pabst will be made artificially rare. Well, not the beer exactly. That needs to be readily available because most Pabst drinkers are lazy (they just say "PBR" because saying an actual word is for posers) and will move on to Miller High Life if Pabst isn't within grabbing distance. What will be made rare are the bottlecaps. They'll be made with various colors. We'll send out a press release saying, for example, that only 502 of the red caps have been and will ever be made. Those kids will pay a premium price for the beer if they think they can sell it on Ebay for a fortune. This will all be a lie of course. In six months, well make 500 more red caps and send out the same press release.
4. All Pabst Blue Ribbon merchandise will be sold exclusively through the Salvation Army.
5. New product idea: a Pabst stencil to be sold to tattoo artists. If we are going to have people advertise our product on their body for their entire life, let's make sure it doesn't end up on Actually, on second thought, we can sell two stencils . . .
So there is the gameplan to make Pabst Blue Ribbon the number one beer in the nation. The hard part will making sure the customers don't know when it happens.

The first image is taken from the blog No Brand Like Home which has an amazing breakdown of the viability of PBR.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In the Batting Circle: Nothington

When an album you anticipate from a band that is relatively small time, you have to be patient. They don't have the means to produce a release every other month and even touring can be financially taxing. I took the patient approach with Nothington's new album Roads, Bridges, & Ruins because I was a big fan of their previous effort All In.
Nothington is Jay Northington, Gabe Lindeman (both formerly of Tsunami Bomb), Chris Matulich, and Tony Teixeira (No word on whether he chokes in important situations). They play a form of melodic punk reminiscent of Gunmoll with Hot Water Music Ragan-eque vocals. It's as good a combination as it sounds.
Roads is a progression for the band. as it should be. Most of the songs, especially "Stop Screaming," are far more complex than anything found on All In. That said, the album drops most of the country or Southern charm that the previous effort had. Roads is straight gravelly pop punk. A song like "The Ocean" has "whoa-oa-oa" gang vocals that just don't feel as sincere as on a song like "Where Is This Going?" on All In.
Another thing this album misses are the backing vocals of Emily Whitehurst, former lead singer of Tsunami Bomb. I get it. She isn't a full time band member and you don't want to be known as former _____ forever. That said, the strongest songs on All In featured the beautiful interplay between Jay and Whitehurst. If you have the opportunity to make your strongest songs with someone (a friend?), then swallow your pride and do it.
Despite my comparisons, Roads, Bridges, & Ruins is a strong release on it's own. Matulich's songs on this album are more cohesive to the whole than his previous efforts. Jay still writes fist pumping ballads that won't leave your head without a fight (see: "Best For Me"). I think the best way to experience this band would be to listen to this latest album first, then get the debut. I like saving the best for last, which explains why I am posting music after all this writing.

Create a playlist at

Monday, November 2, 2009

Outrage for Profit!

Recently, former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire was named the new hitting coach of his former team. Even more recently, Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman took it upon himself to be the voice of tired anger.
A little background: McGwire was briefly the holder of the single season home run record. He was probably on massive amounts of beef 'roids while he did it. He has summoned to Congress for a dog and pony show. He didn't say anything about his steroid usage. He moved to a deserted island somewhere for years and hasn't even made a public appearance following the announcement of his recent hiring.
Jeff Pearlman is a guy who writes books about the moral depravity of athletes. He wrote The Bad Guys Who Won about the 1986 Mets, Boys Will Be Boys about the Barry Switzer Dallas Cowboys (sensing a theme?), and two books on steroid users: Love Me, Hate Me about Barry Bonds, and The Rocket That Fell to Earth about Roger Clemens. Each of these books is basically the written equivalent of a school marm lecturing you about skipping class.
So it comes as no surprise that Pearlman is tsk-tsking the hiring of McGwire as a hitting coach. He implies that McGwire had no talent beyond the strength the steroids provided.
His courage and strength were mirages. His greatness, well, very artificial.
That, of course, ignores the fact that McGwire likely didn't use performance enhancing drugs before entering the Major Leagues and that he led rookies in home runs when he was had the body frame of a mortal. I wonder if Pearlman thinks even he could be a big league hitter giving the right prescription.
McGwire is back in the baseball fold; back to teach today's ballplayers how to (egad) succeed the same way he did; back to offer wisdom.
Holy cats, I think he does believe that.
McGwire is joining the Cardinals to be the hitting coach, not open up a pharmacy. McGwire has already provided personal hitting instruction to various Major League hitters including Skip Schumaker, who passes the "eye test." (If Pearlman doesn't have to say "allegedly," then I can determine if a player uses PEDs by looking at them.)
McGwire isn't going to play in the field. What was done in the past is done. It can't change as much as Pearlman and the old fogey writers he apes want it to change. All the whining about the "Holy Bible" of baseball being the record book is ridiculous. The Taliban think Pearlman is too hung up on one book.
The real reason he has to kick and scream like a sweet sixteenager without The Fray performing at her party is because he needs that outrage. He needs as many people wary against shadowy enemies because that moral outrage is what moves his books. Because it isn't about steriods to him. It's about an arbitrary standard of good and evil. To him, you have to win the "right" way or not win at all. Just ask the 1986 Mets.
McGwire's rookie card provided by

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You've Been to "The Show:" Cropdusters &The Bootheel

Sometimes when you are a music fan (or art fan in general) in a smallish city, you tend to overlook some of the outstanding things going on while you pine for the elusive "other." I'm as guilty of that as anyone else. But I'm slowly coming around and am getting very fortunate to catch some talented bands based in Southwest, Missouri.
On Halloween, amid the debauchery of the "largest costume party in Missouri" (hang your hat on that Spring Vegas), the Highlife hosted one of the best local showcases in months. The Cropdusters headlined and Boogeymen and The Bootheel supported, but those roles fail to acknowledge how equally talented each group is.
I've briefly mentioned The Cropdusters before (or at least their lead singer). They play a fun style of southern/country rock that doesn't quite hit the "punk" mark, but is fun music nonetheless. Lead singer Jeb is a big Lucero fan and you can tell through his lyrics and slightly strained, yet steady vocals. Other lead singer Brian provides a change of pace vocally. His lyrics are often about life in the Ozarks and historically based. My current favorite song is Brian's "Quantrill," which is a fist pumping ballad for any self respecting Missourian that irrationally distrusts Kansans at best and openly despises any Jayhawker at worst. The Halloween show marked the final show for lead guitarist "Toad" Wyrick. I may have news on this front in the near future (I'm gonna scoop you, The Four Four!).
I missed the The BoogeyMen last night, so as to use my wristband at another bar (that wouldn't normally have a cover. Pub crawls are scams). I've seen them before and they are made up of an amalgam of local musicians and play western/rock-a-billy tunes, generally without vocals. They're fun and always play with masks, so I'm sure the effect was a little lost on Halloween.
The opening band, The Bootheel, played a loud set, which is their wont. They play a mix of punk, country, rock, and roots music to make a delicious glaze of goodness. (Not coincidentally, they make their own barbecue sauce. I kid you not. I bought some. It's delicious.). The band describes their sound as "aggressively Midwestern." It's an apt description and it makes you proud to be from the same area and culture that produces such amazing music.
Both these bands had their debut releases this year: The Cropdusters with Howdy and The Bootheel with Gold Tops.
If you live or will visit Springfield, Jeb and Brian from The Cropdusters and Todd from The Bootheel play acoustically at Lindberg's every Tuesday night for free. It's a unique event that not enough Ozarkians patronize.
For your sonic pleasure:

Create a playlist at

Image courtesy of The Four Four, a local music blog that updates far more than I and is a valuable resource for the music scene in southwest Missouri.