Friday, February 24, 2006

Philly airwaves have no alternative: One year later

It was one year ago today that alternative rock station Y100 was taken off the air and replaced with a rap/R&B format. I didn't miss it a whole lot to be honest with you; its playlist was too conservative for my taste. I much perfered the previous efforts to bring modern/alternative rock to the Philadelphia airwaves like I-92 (Summer of 1983) and 103.9 WDRE (November 1992-Janurary 1997). But I did find it distrubing that with Y100 out of the picture there isn't a place for new rock on the commercial Philadelphia radio airwaves now. Sure WXPN could handle some of the slack, but they're more in a folky/singer-songwriter/AAA mode (plus there's Robert Drake's great Rock of the 80s program Land Of The Lost tonight as well); where does that leave the more aggressive rock acts? Where's Courtney Love going to get airplay in Philly now when her next album comes out (after she gets back from rehab)? True, there's Y100 Rocks internet radio now, with its playlist better than when it had a place on the FM dial, but you can't take it with you on your car radio (as yet anyway); and if you work in a place that has a firewall and your access to the station is blocked, you're out of luck. I'd much perfer it when you can easily get some good rock on the commercial FM airwaves. I'm not an elitist snob; I like when bands that I like get popular and don't compromise their musical vision to achieve that success. It seems that musical genres I like a lot--dance and Rock-of-the-8os/modern/alternative rock--currently just don't get a lot of love from commercial radio in Philly. And it looks like the situation isn't going to change anytime soon, with the radio corporations that own the Philly airwaves are more interested in reaching #1 in the ratings rather than just going after a good niche market with some good music. So it looks like I'll have to keep on trying to get various internet stations and maybe try to shell out some money to get satelite radio as well. Plus just listen to mix-tapes and CDs in my car.

Here's a cover story that the Philly City Paper did on the whole Y100/ controversy last year. It'll shed some more light what went down.

I'm thrown and overblown with bliss

Sorry for taking so long in between posts; I was feeling uninspired the past several days and I had some stomach cramps, but I'm feeling better and quite inspired now...

Last week I was in the King of Prussia Mall and noticed that their Sam Goody's store was going out of business and was selling their CDs 30%, so I picked up a copy of the reissue of Be Yourself Tonight by the Eurthymics. Part of the Eurthymics reissues series that came out this past November, Be Yourself Tonight was first released in 1985 and it showed a more diverse musical palette that showed them that they were far more than a one-note synth outfit. The first single from the album "Would I Lie To You?" has an assertive rock/R&B style which kicks the album off in grand style. There would be several hits from the album including the duet with Areatha Franklin "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" and the soulfull electronic "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)." This reissue contains six bonus tracks, including IMHO one of their best non-LP b-sides, "Grown Up Girls," which was on the flip side of the "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)." I love this track; this should have been a single in my books.

Also this past Tuesday I went to the Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in West Chester which had an "Gay Nite OUT' event there that evening, which I met several friends of mine there and had a good time. A bunch of gay people congregated in the front bar with a view of the historic West Chester intersection of High and Gay street. There's also a good observation point for the brewing process behind glass walls. I should also mention that the building that houses the bar and restaurant was a Woolworth's five and dime store in earlier days, retaining its original tin ceiling tiles when the place was renovated. This event was started last month and I heard it was a success; they'll be having their "Gay Nite OUT" gatherings every third Tuesday of the month.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Searching for the good straight father here in PA?

I've got mixed feeling about the 10th annual HRC Gala Equality Dinner this coming Saturday, which has Robert Casey Jr. as keynote speaker and Pattie LaBelle as a special guest. Actually it's more on Robert Casey Jr. himself, who's running against incumbent Satan-torum for US Senator and has been busy fundraising, including at gay events. The primary's a couple of months off but already people hae been acting like Casey's already won that. There are other Democrats out there that can do a good job as Casey could do; in some cases better (Casey has been vocally anti-woman's right to choose an abortion). The reason why Casey is coming off as a Democratic Golden Boy is that he has huge campaign coffers. (He has $3.5 million so far, Santorum has $8. Depressing.) If this is the reason, why don't just junk the voting process and just set the senantorial seat up for auction to the highest bidder and just stop this sham that polictians are voted in through a democratic process?

A few months ago I had written how the gay community tends to build up straight policticians to help fight for the community, sort of like a father (or mother) figure would to protect us, only to end up being disappointed and betrayed. I'm afraid that us gay people here in the state of Pennsylvania are re-living that scenario yet again; this time Casey is set up as the role of the Good Straight Father. So when the elections are done in November we'll either end up with a bumbling doofus (Casey) or an abusive shit (Santorum) . I guess we're not ready to admit that there is no Good Straight Father to kiss our scraped knees and tell us everything will be alright.

Plus with the (small) salary I make I can't afford those damn $175-250-350 a plate fundraiser dinners anyway. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean that I'm living the life of Will & Grace luxury. Not all gay people are rich you know.

Amazed at respone on Cascada post

Though I do post some music-related stuff on my blog, I consider this to be more of a personal blog as opposed to a music blog. I just write certain artists or songs that I like and/or grab my attention. So I'm quite pleasently surprised by the response I have gotten from that post I wrote about Cascada two weeks ago. Last week I received an e-mail from their management company asking me if they could reprint the text of said article on the Cascada website. I gave them permission to do that; you can see it in the News section of the site. Plus I've also gotten some positive response from Cascada's US label Robbins Entertainment as well; I'll give you more details about that in the future. Thanks for the response guys, I'm flattered!

BTW according to Billboard, Cascada's single "Everytime We Touch" has now risen to #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Courtney says your country breakfast is ready

The Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson Uncensored! DVD is released today. I want to pick this up, considering how hard I laughed when I saw this on TV last summer. It's hilarious and rough. Courtney Love tries to steal the show with her trainwreck behavior while insisting she's not taking drugs. (Sure, we believe you Courtney.)

Caption the picture of Madonna

Some photos are begging for a caption a la Mystery Science Theater 3000, such as this one of Madonna demonstrating her flexibility with yoga.

BTW the remixes of her latest single "Sorry" are now up at iTunes. The physical CD maxi-single hits the stores of February 28 in the US.

Song For Valentine's Day...

I thought that since today is Valentine's Day and some of you might be feeling a little bit cynical, here are the lyrics of "The Beat Of Love" from Voice of the Beehive, an American female new wave/pop duo from the late '80s who had some success in the UK. It's taken from their 1988 album Let It Bee (which BTW you can download from iTunes.)

The Beat of Love

The beat of love is a nasty one
it's a flame from the devils fire
'cause nothing is stronger than boys and their eyes
and it's worse when you know he's a liar
it's just the beat of love.

The beat of love is a nasty one
they promise you heaven they promise you fun
then the next thing you know you are down on the floor
and you think you're in love
oh heaven above
it's just the beat of love.

You take my mind and you cheat it
you take my body and heat it
then you take my heart and you beat it
and the beat of love goes on.

It's just the beat of love

The beat of love is a nasty one
people bang on the door to get in
then one they're inside they just want to be free
and they bang at the doors with a beat they can't see
it's the beat of love.

It's just the beat of love.

You take my mind and you cheat it
you take my body and heat it
then you take my heart and you beat it
and the beat of love goes on.

The beat of love is a nasty one
there are all kinds of ways to get banged
they'll tell you is violence they'll tell you it's sex
they'll tell you that it's all the same.

The beat of love is a nasty one
there all kinds of ways to go down
she slams her hips and then she slams the door
and then wonders why he's not around

Love is a life nerve
a mission
a principle
the grand passion

It's just the beat of love.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snowed in

This past Saturday and Sunday it snowed 14 inches where I live. Spent a good portion of Sunday helping out my parents in shoveling out the driveway. Although it stopped snowing early Sunday afternoon, the roads weren't that good. Even though I had made plans to go into Philly for the latest Philadelphians social (which BTW was not cancelled), I wound up not going, considering the long drive and that the roads might ice up that evening. That's another reason why I want to move to Philadelphia, so I can be right in the city to go to places without having to worry about if the roads are drivable. I'm so over West Chester. I'm so over snow canceling my social plans.

Friday, February 10, 2006

If you're looking for something do to this Sunday...

If this isn't cancelled because of this weekend's snowstorm, I'll hopefully be there helping out, so if you see me say hi!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Meetings and shopping in Philly

Went into Philly last night for the latest Philadelphians meeting at the Bike Stop. Also picked up a couple of things while I was in the city. Picked up a copy of the Pazz and Jop 2005 issue of the Village Voice at a local newstand. (It's one of the two times during the year that I'll buy a copy of the VV; the other time is when they have their annual Queer Issue in June.) Also went to Giovanni's Room and bought a book on the 90s homocore/gay punk rock scene called Homocore: The Loud and Raucous Rise of Queer Rock. So far it looks good; I should write a review when I finish reading it. Stopped over at a couple of coffeehouses as well, the Last Drop on 13th and Pine Streets and the Village Coffeehouse on the 1100 block of Lombard Street. The Philadelphians meeting went quite well; though I was so nervous about it that I had a slight panic attack. But I got through it and I had a good time.

I was going to meet to some friends on Sunday, but my head felt really stuffed up and I had to cancel. With the weather being warm one day and cooler the next, it can reek havoc on your sinuses and you can catch a cold more easily. Fortuneately I felt better the next day.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cascada's breaking down anti-dance barriers on US radio

It's been a while since Philly's Q102 (WIOQ-FM) has played a real dance track in brainwash rotation, not since the Roc Project's "Never (Past Tense)" three years ago. They have been resistant to playing other dance songs that have crossed over into the US Top 40, such as Madonna's "Hung Up" and the dance version of D.H.T.'s "Listen To Your Heart (though they took the ballad version and played that to death). At one time Q102 was once known to play a lot of dance music. But now in these hip-hop heavy times, it seems that the station's staff is afraid that if they played a song that's faster than a human heartbeat the studio will crumble like Sodom and Gorrmorah.

But now they have been giving massive exposure to a hot club/trance track "Everytime We Touch" by the German dance act Cascada, featuring lead singer Natalie Horler. According to, Q102 has played the song 82 times in the past week. With stations across the nation adding the track onto their playlists, the single has been rising up the American charts; last week it broke into the US Top 40 last week at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (It's risen to #32 this week.) It's a breath of fresh air to all the rap and R&B acts that are dominating radio. It's opening doors to getting on pop stations that usually turn down dance songs, like the now "thugged-out" Q102.

In the past year the few dance songs that have crossed over into the US pop charts have had a heavy air of nostalgia about them. If they weren't outright dance re-makes of 80s hits such as Crazy Frog's "Axel F" and the asformentioned D.H.T. with "Listen," they musically harked back to prior musical eras such as "Hung Up" with its Moroder rhythms and its sample of "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" from ABBA, as well as Missy Elliot's (okay she's known primarily as a hip-hop artist but still...) and Ciara's "Lose Control" which went back to the days when rappers weren't afraid to experiment with a track that went at about 120 beats per minute with its Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" vibe. The thing that sets "Everytime We Touch" apart from the recent crossover dance songs is that EWT is rooted in the here and now. Nothing nostaligic-sounding here, it's trance/dance-pop for the 2000's. Even though Natalie was raised in German she's actually of English descent, so she has no problem with singing in English. She sounds quite good here, with a hint of country. (Kind of like LeAnn Rimes.) BTW the other two members of Cascada are producers DJ Manian and Yanou.

The CD maxi-single of "Everytime We Touch" is currently out at the usual record stores and is availible for download as well. There will also be an album, also titled Everytime We Touch, which will be released on February 21 via the Robbins label. (And you can also listen to several tracks at Cascada's MySpace page.) Let's hope that the success of the song will help open the door for other dance acts at US Top 40 radio (particularly in Philly)!

Village Voice Pazz & Jop 2005 Critics Poll

The Village Voice has just released the results of their 2005 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll and it turns out that Kayne West turns out to be the big winner, topping both the albums and singles list with his album Late Registration and the single from it "Gold Digger," which also features actor Jamie Fox. (Take that, 50 Cent!)

Here's the top ten albums from the poll:

1. Kanye West - Late Registration
2. MIA - Arular
3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
4. Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
5. Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
6. White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
7. Antony & The Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
8. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
9. New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
10. My Morning Jacket - Z

And the top ten singles from the poll are:

1. Kanye West ft. Jamie Fox - Gold Digger
2. Amerie - 1 Thing
3. Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone
4. Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
5. (tie) Damian Marley - Welcome to Jamrock
Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
7. (tie) Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To
Madonna - Hung Up
9. White Stripes - Doorbell
10. Three 6 Mafia - Stay Fly

I'm happy that my favorite single from last year, "Hung Up," did well in the singles polls. However, the album it was from, and my favorite album from last year, Confessions on a Dance Floor, came out at #61 on the albums poll.