Monday, January 12, 2009

Break Up Your Band Is Now On Tubmlr!

Looking for your Break Up Your Band fix? Wondering why this blog hasn't been updated in a while? Break Up Your Band has moved primarily to Tumblr, and is now your source for daily doses of the best in music from the 90s. Click here to read it, follow it, and spread the word!

Seriously, if you and your friends are on Tumblr please tell everyone you know about it. I'd love to get the word spread on BUYB as I'm working hard on making it an awesome blog.

This version of BUYB will occasionally but updated with lengthier posts and thoughts on new music, but all your favorite 90s music will be cataloged and dissected on the Tumblr version.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Meat Beat Manifesto, Bowery Ballroom, 11.19.08

Every now and again I'll get exposed to a band that will make me stop and ask serious questions about my life: "Why have I never listened to this before?" "Did someone try to turn me on to this band and I ignored them?" "Where did I go wrong here?" MBM, the highly infuential electronic band, is one of them. They've existed on the outskirts of my personal musical landscape since junior high, along with bands like KMFDM and Lords of Acid, as a musical outfit I'm aware of and have a vague appreciation for but have never bought an album by. Now I realize what a sad mistake that is, one that needs correcting immediately. I was offered a ticket to this show by my friend and co-worker Lynne, and I think I accepted because of a vague feeling that I needed to finally see Meat Beat. I'm glad I did; I owe Lynne a debt of musical gratitude.

When I watch bands that rely heavily on using laptop computers to trigger beats and sounds, I feel like I'm watching fucking magic. "What's going on up there? How are they doing that?" I ask myself as they stare at screens, turning little knobs and pushing buttons on processors and synths connected to their Macs by a forest of cords. It's like I'm on the wrong side of the stage. I want to see what they're looking at, watch the magic happen. But that would take the mystique away from the wizards, I suppose.

They played against the backdrop of a stunning mindfuck of a video show that was synched to the explosive beats and clumpy, swirling brushstrokes of their music. The well-edited collages included a few hilarious minutes of Obama's nodding, smiling head superimposed onto the body of an active drummer. It was like playing Guess The Pop Culture Reference, watching clips from dozens of movies, tv shows, infomercials and political clips flash by. This visual aspect was just as well-crafted as their music was and provided for all-encompassing assault on the senses.

Not being intimately familiar with them, I can't give you a blow-by-blow of songs. But I can tell you that when they played "Helter Skelter," the only song of theirs that I know I know (the "It's in my brain now!" song), everyone went apeshit. Their production was top-notch and each song was a catchy, distinctive party full of thumping electronic grime, glitches and smears. Good thing it's payday, because I have an armload of MBM albums to purchase.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

You Reminded Me That I Would Never Be Twenty-Two

Who's the indie rock nerd working for NPR picking the songs that play in between segments on "All Things Considered?" I just heard Karate's "Same Stars" from The Bed is in the Ocean. That record is ten years old, so it's not like someone would pick it out of a box of CD's sent for consideration by record companies. Well, whoever s/he is, s/he is awesome and I want his/her job. I've also heard a ton of The Album Leaf and Pinback songs, so I imagine this person and I would either totally be friends, or we would have similar social phobias and trying to get us into a conversation would be like trying to put two negative ends of a magnet together.

This is my reward for digging through the vinyl bins at Generations on Thompson Street. I've been looking for this Seein' Red/Judas Iscariot split LP for a while now. Yes, I'm still pretty much just trying to buy all the same records my ex g/f Katie had. What can I tell you? They were good. But actually, that reminds me that as I was sifting through the 7"'s at Generations last night looking to get into something I'd never heard before, I realized that maybe I was just trying to recapture a vibe from 2000 when her and I would drive to Curmudgeon in Edison, NJ and I would drop $30 on records by bands that looked cool. Last night I didn't find anything that looked appealing, and I wound up just buying LP's I didn't have from bands I'm already familiar with. And that makes me think that maybe I don't want to be adventurous; that I just want to be safe and pretend I'm 22.

My tickets for the Be Your Own Pet show on 2/20 came in the mail. Maybe I'll see you there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Best Invention Ever

Here's my new toy, ladies and gents:

It's an Ion iTTUSB USB Turntable, and it's chief function is to import my vinyl copy of the SST Blasting Concept compilation into my iTunes as a digital file. It's the best thing I've ever purchased, and if, like me, you have several crates worth of 80s speed metal records that you took from the college radio station you DJ'ed at when said radio station decided they wanted to fully upgarde to CDs and told their DJs they could take however many records they wanted from the library, then this is the gadget for you. Not only does it hook directly into your PC, Mac or laptop, but it also hooks directly into your stereo to play records like any other turntable would, so if you're in the market for a new turntable this is a great purchase. Also included are two software programs: one for Joe Audiophile who just wants to digitize his vinyl, and the other for Joe Serious Audiophile Who's Probably Also A DJ, who along with having a tragically lengthy name also wants to take all the pops and clicks and whatnot out of the digital files once they're uploaded and maybe mix several different tracks together. Both programs are easy to use. I haven't played around much with the more advanced program yet because part of the thrill of this for me is being able to have a digital file that still has the pops and cracks of a vinyl record. I like the sound of a needle hitting a record. And I love how the albums get digitized but retain some of the warm vinyl tone. The software also allows you to break each song into individual tracks, which requires you to babysit the record while it converts but that's a shit of a lot better than having to babysit a child.

The software programs also include a massive library of album names and track titles to help name and catalogue your files and which is so far two for four with me, as it recognized Rainer Maria's Past Worn Searching and The Blackheart Procession's 3 but it didn't recognized Bikini Kill or Song of Zarathustra. Actually, that's not all that suprising.

My only two complaints about the iTTUSB are that it doesn't come with a dust cover (there is a different model made by Ion that does) and that it doesn't have an automatic return on the tone arm. But those are far fewer and less egregious complaints than you had about your iPhone. This wonderful little gadget retails for about $159.00 at Best Buy, but I also hear you can buy it at Urban Outfitters, which would give you the added bonus of buying the turntable and being SEEN buying it. You can also get it from if you enjoy the suspense of wondering if an expensive piece of electronic equipment can withstand being tossed around in a Fed Ex truck.

So buy it now, and thank me later.

And if you're coming here for new music recommendations, I don't have much for you aside from Shipwreck's new Rabbit In the Kitchen With A New Dress On LP. You can read my review of it somewhere on

Also, Be Your Own Pet's new album Get Awkward is coming out March 17th, and they're playing The Mercury Lounge on 2/20 and Maxwells in Hoboken on 2/21. Tickets are not on sale yet. Speaking of exciting new LP news, Tokyo Police Club is actually going to put out a full-length record. Details to follow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

First Time Long Time

Oh my goodness gracious, my dear readers, I am so sorry that I have been so neglectful of this blog. Isn't that just like me? What do you mean of course it is? How dare you say that about me. You are a terrible, vicious person. You don't care about me. Get out of here. No, stay! I love you! Don't touch me! Okay touch me. Give me a weird, prosthetic handjob like on HBO's "Tell Me You Love Me." Is handjob one word? Does it matter?

Since we last connected via this truly visceral medium, the IT guy at the major, multi billion dollar international corporation I work at (and they are a multi billion dollar corporation, they just like to let their shyness and humility be conveyed through the payroll department) came to my desk personally to uninstall my iTunes. Apparently this company considers iTunes an illegal program due to various licensing issues, and has therefore deemed to cut me off from one of the few things that keeps me from going absolutely crazy from the realization that I am still working here. One of the amusing things about this department is that people are constantly being hired from outside the company for the position directly above mine and then inevitably leave within six months, while I have stayed here for over two years without a promotion. I consider myself like the guy who has a crush on the girl who only dates abusive jerks, and every time she gets hurt by one of these cro-magnons she calls the guy who has a crush on her for consolation, but will never realize that he loves her and is the right guy for her. You'll probably recognize this archetype as played out in the Descendants song, "I'm the One," on their album Everything Sucks. I guess that analogy would be more accurate if I didn't despise this job to my bitter core and if I actually did more than about two to three hours of work-related work.

So regarding my loss of iTunes, I've had to revert back to my Windows Media Player until I can afford one of those neat little iPod docks for my desk. Since I never planned on losing iTunes, I deleted all of the music I had loaded onto the WMP pre-iTunes, so now I have a bare-minimum of mostly older music to listen to. But, at least I can reflect on how great Karate's The Bed is in the Ocean is.

It's not a good time for music-related technology in general, now is it? Saturday, my roommate in my awesome new Astoria apartment offered me one of his unused invitations, which I gratefully and with much excitement accepted, only to have the site shut down yesterday and its proprietor dragged away in handcuffs to have a rat cage strapped to his face. Fortunately, this all happened after I downloaded Hum's rare, out of print first album, Filet Show and Song of Zarathustra's also out of print last album, A View From High Tides. See, I'm more than willing to pay for new albums when they come out, in fact I'd prefer to do that, even though it makes me more behind the current state of music than many of my friends. I would rather know that the bands that I love are at least getting what tiny, tiny percentage of the money they get from record sales. To me, it's a show of confidence in the bands I love. It's like voting: sure, my vote might count for very little, but it's better than not voting at all. At least my voice gets heard. It's different from voting, of course, because I don't have to worry about electronically buying the new Tokyo Police Club EP (hey TPC, make a full-length already!) and having it turned, by the company that owns the technology, into the new Nickelback album (yes, Nickelback is as horrible a band as George W. Bush is a president). I am well-aware that bands make more money touring than by making albums, and so a stronger show of support is to buy a concert ticket, but it's much easier to fit a trip to Generations and dozens of subsequent listenings into my schedule than it is to hope Pinback's NYC tour date doesn't fall on a night when I have a previous engagement (which, btw, it did).

Besides, what's the excuse for opting to spend zero dollars on Radiohead's new record? I could easily have downloaded that album when it came out, but since I am determined to show my support for them and their new system by paying at least $10 for In Rainbows, I will have to wait until I get paid again to download it (moving into a new apartment sucked all the money out of me, dear readers). In that instance, there is no distro, no label, almost all the money is going to the band, so why would you be so douchey as to pay nothing for it? Because "information wants to be free?" I hope my company's payroll department doesn't decide to adopt that attitude. Oh, wait, it almost looks like maybe they kind of did.

But so my point about Oink and sites like it is that their appeal to me has always been the ability to get rare albums that I've been looking for since high school (Hum's Filet Show) and albums that I bought on vinyl but can't play since my record player broke and is out of stock of (S.O.Z.'s High Tides). To a certain degree this might be considered hypocritical, but I don't believe that it is because like I said I have paid for most of the music in my possession, and a lot of the stuff I've taken for free off of the Internet is stuff that I previously purchased on cassette or vinyl, and wanted an updated digital copy of.

So, hopefully this blog entry will get introduced into evidence when authorities round up every single person who's ever been on ever in their lives and strap rat cages to thier faces. Give it to Julia!

A quick word about Filet Show. Hum was one of those bands that got exponentially better and more mature with each release and then tragically broke up after years of labouring without any significant mainstream success (most people know them from their one radio hit "Stars," off of 1995's gorgeous You'd Prefer An Astronaut). Filet Show proves this path of growth and at the same time is a great album on it's own. The sound is a lot more fuzz-rock oriented than the intricate, spacey sound they'd later achieve on You'd Prefer... and Downward is Heavenward, and it's reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate's first album except it's not quite as well-engineered. It's a great introduction to one of the 90's best, secretly influential rock bands and if you can get your hands on it despite the mass shutdown of P2P sites, I recommend it. At the very least, you should pick up any of their other three still-in-print jammies.

Okay see you in like three months when I update this again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chocolate Rain Oracle

Tay Zonday has not only created the ultimate Summer banger, he's also created a frighteningly insightful and accurate fortune teller and problem solver. Go ahead, ask any question burning on your mind and then click the link below to get answers your life depends on.

Chocolate Rain Oracle!

Ask as many questions as you want and hit "refresh"! The Oracle's insight is amazing and endless!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Pinback Song Released

Pinback, the masters of post-hardcore layering and harmonies, have released a track from their forthcoming album Autumn of the Seraphs, the follow-up to 2005's Summer in Abaddon (they now have two more seasons left to match up with mythological/religious symbols). You can stream the new joint, "From Nothing to Nowhere", at the Touch and Go Records site (or click this handy link) . The album comes out on September 11, 2007.

Zach and Rob have been winding the rhythms of their songs steadily tighter since their debut s/t LP, and if this new song is any indication, Autumn will see that trend continuing. The common elements are there: urgent guitar strumming, tight verses that give way to an airy chorus, a prog-like penchant for structuring, and the layering of all these elements over each other at the end of the song. This layering is one of my favorite aspects of Pinback, and I never get tired of the way they do it.

Rumors around the internet are that this album is a little more commercial than their previous efforts. But this is nothing new; Pinback's albums have grown increasingly more commercial as they've gone along. Pinback had all the marks of an album recorded partly in a bedroom and partly in a garage, and the sweet harmonies and catchy melodies generated in that minimalist setting--along with the prior reputations of the ultra prolific Armistead Burwell Smith IV and Rob Crow--helped generate a small but strong critical buzz for the record. Blue Screen Life presented a denser Pinback more focused on expanding their songwriting and adding richer colors to the palette they drew from previously. It also yielded one of the most popular Pinback songs to date, the one everyone seems to know even if they haven't heard a Pinback record, "Penelope", an endearing love song for a goldfish (another part of Pinback's charm is that they write great songs about things like computers breaking and drunken hecklers).

The Offcell EP feels like a brief experimental exercise in multi-part structuring, it's kind of like the equivalent of Rocky Balboa going to Russia to train for his fight against Ivan Drago. The 11:07 "Grey Machine" is not only worth listening to every second of, but is one of the few eleven minute songs that feels more like five. It's a key piece of empirical evidence in the case for Pinback's brilliance.

So Summer In Abaddon could be considered their first attempt at a more mainstream acceptance. Singles were released, videos were made, with MTV2 appearances to promote them. The album took another huge step forward from where they were with Blue Screen Life, with guitar parts that curled around each other and hung gently from breathy harmonies and rich piano lines. The results were evident when I saw them at Irving Plaza, and was surrounded by people who could sing every word of the new songs (and "Penelope"), but weren't quite sure what show they'd wandered into anytime anything from the first album was played.

It's important to note that Pinback has never traded any bit of their musical integrity in exchange for growing success. If their songs have become more commercial, it has not been at the expense of what makes them so lovable. There's has been a process of steady maturation that has not as yet seen them falter and produce a sub-par record.

If you need any further proof of their steady push for an increased listener base, they're playing NYC's Nokia Theatre on October 9th. Nothing says mainstream like playing a theater named after a mobile phone company, in the heart of Times Square. Hopefully a TRL appearance will precede the gig. OMG i luv Zach and Rob 4eva!

Touch and Go Records
Pinback Official Site
Pinback on MySpace