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THE NEW WORLD’S ROCK CRITIC

Excerpt from ‘Stayin’ Alive’ feature on rock critic Christopher R. Weingarten.
by Justin Peters for the Columbian Journalism Review

“You really couldn’t mistake him for anything other than a professional critic. Part of it’s the look—headphones, music-themed apparel, thick glasses, heavy beard—as if he just stepped off the set of the movie High Fidelity. But it’s mostly the enthusiasm; the cultural excitations that can prompt blunt, rapid-fire disquisitions on the things he likes (hip-hop, the CD format, the critic Chuck Eddy) and the things he does not (Fleet Foxes, singer-songwriter music, the comedians Tim and Eric). He is the sort of person who not only brags about his world-class collection of Christmas rap music, but will forcefully argue the musical merits of certain items from that collection; the sort of person who, when attending a weekend music festival, will try to see all forty-six shows on the bill. He did this in 2008, in rural England, at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival co-curated by Mike Patton and The Melvins, an experience he calls the greatest weekend of his life. “It was very difficult. My feet were sandbags at the end,” he admits. But, on the other hand, “The Melvins are my favorite band in the world. I didn’t want to miss this day of music that they co-curated.”

Weingarten is thirty. He grew up on Florida’s Gulf Coast and studied journalism at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. There, he wrote about music for the student newspaper, the Independent Florida Alligator, and fronted a band called the Christopher Weingarten Basement Funk Allstars, where he was known, according to the Web magazine Ink19, for “running around like a maniac, hilariously insulting the audience” and “playing the roto-toms, keyboards, and yes, the Theremin.”

After finishing school in 2002, he quickly made his way to New York, where he set about finding work as a music writer. While “rock critic” has never been a particularly lucrative career choice, it made much more sense back then—there were plenty of outlets for which to write, and reviewers could supplement their income by reselling the advance CDs that came in the mail. (“I do not get as many records as I used to. Labels are sending less CD promos every year,” he complains.)

From 2002 to 2006, he held various positions at CMJ New Music Monthly—intern, associate editor, editorial coordinator, music editor—where he wrote features, reviews, and columns, before leaving to edit a new Web site called Paper Thin Walls. Unlike some other music sites, Paper Thin Walls—which was purchased by Getty Images in 2007—made a point of paying its contributors; because of that, the site attracted several well-known names—Frank Kogan, Michael Azerrad, and Michaelangelo Matos among them. “We had all the best writers,” he says. “We paid writers what they’re worth to write.”

Read the full article here


SPOTLIGHT: BRENT ROSKE – “LIVE AT THE VIPER ROOM”

While weaving stories of love, separation, and lessons learned via the trials and tribulations that we all go through while attempting to find our place in life singer-songwriter Brent Roske manages to engage us with tale after tale about his personal journeys. With the vulnerability never leaving his voice, he paints a picture with every song, making you feel many a time as though you were there with him sharing this ride. At times you wonder, could all of these tracks be about the same person or is it a combination of people that the songs refer to? Are they all stories that Roske actually lived? Or are they just signs of a rich imagination?

If your answer is that it’s all three then you’re probably correct. Perhaps utilizing his vast experience as an Emmy-nominated Producer/Director, some of Roske’s songs could be the basis for many a screenplay. “Raining in Scotland,” could easily be turned into parts 1 and 2 of a film franchise. Roske also succeeds in giving us a synopsis of sorts of True Romance in “Clarence and Alabama” playing on the dysfunctional dynamic of the film’s main characters’ tumultuous relationship.

Throughout “Live At the Viper Room” you are constantly reminded of those storytellers that came before Roske, including John Stewart, Dave Carter, and Townes Van Zandt– whose primary goal seemed to be to make their songs come alive for their audiences via the emotion evoking lyrics they penned and delivered.  For the LA residents (current and former), an almost heartbreaking “Say Good-bye to Hollywood” is included where we’re all instructed that “if you ever make it to Hollywood, you better make sure to rehearse the final scene.

End scene.

Here is Brent Roske’s video for “Good-bye to Hollywood” starring Richard Dreyfuss and Josh LeBar (Entourage”):

Brent Roske “Live at the Viper Room” is currently available via Amazon and iTunes.



The Year of the “Super Group”: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Attempted Wilburys

by Deltron 3030

People love to throw around the word “super-group” for bands that don’t don’t necessarily deserve the superlative. Audioslave, you were no super-group. You were Rage minus the passionate vocals. Velvet Revolver? You just reminded us how much we missed the non Chinese Democracy version of Guns and Roses. No band since the Traveling Wilburys has truly earned the moniker….till now. 2009 has been a breeding ground for “Super-groups”. Some great. Some not so great. Let’s attempt to cover them all here today:

Monsters of Folk

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What I first dismissed as a gimmick tour of convenience and similar artists ended up actually being a very good band. This is definitely one of those instances when it is OK to say that the band is greater than the sum of its parts. I mean that in the most positive way possible. Nothing here feels forced. There are no quotas of what needs to be covered. No one here is fighting for airtime. It would seem that they cast their egos aside and channeled their inner Wilburys. The jokey “Monsters” moniker and the fact that they rocked out in full Kiss regalia for Halloween tells me that they’re doing this simply for the fun…and it shows on the album. Getting Bright Eyes to have fun. Who knew that was possible?

Chickenfoot (more…)


Why I Don’t Do This Stuff Anymore (Part I)

So, what does one do when one’s just finished a degree or two in music? It may come as a surprise, but the combination of writing sort-of-amusing internet columns, doing a sort-of-amusing internet radio show, and crowbarring an instrument usually exclusive to classical music into an indie-rock context, all largely pro bono, are not among the standard career paths for music school graduates. Can’t imagine why, really, but “Musical Polemics 401,” “Handjob Jokes: A Musicological Primer,” and “Smoke Your Way to a Radio Voice” are not on the curricula of most accredited music schools. But with music schools churning out eager graduates at the rate of hapless thousands each year, all of whom are forced to compete with previous years’ hapless thousands for about four jobs nationwide, one has to get a bit creative if one doesn’t want to end up blowing that treasure trove of musical information out the back of one’s head and all over that nice clean diploma. See, music schools exist for those one or two people in every class who are freakish prodigies, or attractive and marketable (by classical-musician standards, at least)(the really lucky ones are both), but one or two people’s tuition money just ain’t enough to keep any kind of school running–even at USC prices. So they have to sell the hopeful, starry-eyed rank-and-file on the idea that they too can make a career out of something only a lucky few people can make a career of. At least until the checks clear, and then they’re on their own. So, as one of the rankest and filiest, before I settled on my chosen field of Doing Musical Stuff For Free (But Also With Complete Autonomy), I tried just about every standard path to post-music-school glory. Following is a list of them, and the reasons they eventually made me want to vomit. (more…)


MY FAVORITE PRODUCTS: FEATURED MAKE-UP ARTIST- Candace Garcia

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Our Featured Make-up Artist Candace Garcia shares some of her favorite beauty products with us.

TRAffIK: What are some of your favorite staple products that you use? Why?

Candace: Some of my favorite products are:

-Primer Photo Finish, by Smashbox - It helps smooth the skin and keep the makeup on smooth and it last all day! love it!!

-#266 Angle brush, MAC Cosmetics. -its a great handmade brush that’s fine and some what stiff for getting that liner nice & perfect!

-Mascara, Cover Girl Exact Lash. -Its not too thick and not too natural but it separates the lashes and it finishes to a natural finish!!

-Paints, MAC Cosmetics. -Paints are great to help keep eye shadow on. It sticks on and won’t crease!! Can’t put eye shadow on without it.

-Fix +, MAC Cosmetics. It’s such a great product. It helps set you’re makeup and hydrates the skin without making it look too greasy.  

To learn more about Candace Garcia click here for her TRAffIK feature or here or contact her at makeupartistcg@aol.com

 


DELTRON 3030 RECOMMENDED – ONE FROM THE VAULT: Operation Ivy – Energy

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by Deltron 3030

This short lived band existed only between May of 1987 and May of 1989, but is generally credited as creating the ska.punk hardcore sound that would later be smoothed out and popularized by bands like Rancid (formed by members of Operation Ivy), Sublime, Green Day, Goldfinger, and Less Than Jake. Still reading you smug hipsters?

The band’s short lived history was chronicled in the lyrics of the Rancid song “Journey to the End of the East Bay

“Started in ‘87, Ended in ‘89, Got a garage or an amp, we’ll play anytime. It was just the four of us, Yeah man the core of us, Too much attention unavoidably destroyed us. Four kids on tour, 3,000 miles, in a four door car, not knowing what was going on. We got a million years, of tourin’ out like this, Hell no, no premonition could have seen this. ”

Which roughly translated to: After constant touring and building a strong following EMI offered them a major-label deal and they freaked. Unsure of how to react to the prospect of success, because ..you know..they were punks, man.– the band chose to break up rather than compromise their integrity…you know, because major label albums are for sell outs! If not for that silly misguided thought process we could be @ BestBuy, in our doc martens, buying up copies of Rockband: Operation Ivy right now!

Highlights: ” Badtown,” “Knowledge,” “Take Warning,”" The Crowd”