Fallen by the wayside... TO THE EXTREME!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Paxton gets a tablet

I haven't slept for 72 hours. It's only been 3 short days but I'm already in love. That's right this Wednesday I received my brand-new kick-ass Gateway c-142xl tablet pc just in time to revitalize Austin and my fallen-to-the-wayside side project (The main project is our band who's way too indie for you to know about). My writing hand is cramped from endless hours of Sim City 4 and modern masterpieces; the hard drive filling to the brim. My fiancee even posed naked for one piece in attempt to get me to notice her more than the computer (She CLAIMS to be my my REAL lover har har har). This is good news for you (the readers) too, as you can expect new (and improved) comics updated (more) frequently.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Modern Music: The Inverse Relationship Between How Good a Band is and How Seriously They Take Themselves

A for-the-most-part-under-researched and informally-written dissertation on what's wrong with some of those darn kid musicians today.

I've noticed a very strong inverse relationship between how good a band is and how seriously they take themselves. This article will consist of a brief clarification of terms, an X-Y graph featuring some of my picks, and an explanation for why I placed the bands/artists where I placed them.

For the purposes of understanding my intention, two terms need to be elucidated before we can begin: "good" and "how seriously they take themselves". Obviously, these are both subjective terms, and people are bound to disagree, especially when it comes to "good".

I'm defining "good" music as "that which does not suck", a term I'm stealing from an old web-coworker of mine, jon from the owl and the bear. Again, with such a non-specific yardstick against which I am measuring "good", there is bound to be some controversy. That's fine; I am only talking about my opinions; I don't expect you to agree with everything I'm saying. Paxton even disagrees with some of these rankings, so please don't take it as a personal attack if I rank your favorite band low on the quality ladder.

As for "take themselves seriously", I'm pretty much talking about their sense of humor about themselves and their music and image. When it all comes down to it, most bands are in the music business to make money and have sex with ladies as beautiful as those I've only seen in JPEG format. When they try to pull artistic expression into it, as thought they actually had something to say worth saying, people (like me) have to make fun of them. If they can't laugh at the ridiculousness of their act when it's out of its own context, they take themselves too seriously. That's it. Also, being huge dicks to other bands, other band members, members of the press (who don't deserve to be ridiculed), or fans loses you points in this category.

So, let's take a look at the graph (click to enlarge):
I kept my selections as modern as possible because I think past musical generations required more showmanship, leading to off-the-wall musical acts (like Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd) that were also fucking awesome (like Queen Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd). For some reason, modern equivalent bands have not maintained that level of awesomeness when remaining over-the-top, so the only way to be fucking awesome is to also be as honest as possible, and have a sense of humor about your band.

Now, the Explanations:

: (2, 10): Radiohead lost points for being dicks to most of the press (alright, Thom Yorke lost points for it), but at least they are good to each other and to their fans (maybe you heard about the way In Rainbows was distributed?). Besides, they've pretty much cleaned up their act as far as the press is concerned; most of their condescension was during the OK Computer and Kid A periods. As for a sense of humor, they're traditionally very serious about their work (and rightly so), but this recent interview and some of the footage shown on this video (especially the end, with the narrator) leads me to believe they've lightened up some.

: (1, 9): Up there with Radiohead on my list of currently-active favorite bands is Wilco. I'm not as enthusiastic about their latest, Sky Blue Sky, as I am about their previous work, so they get a 9, but they're still amazing. As for seriousness, Jeff Tweedy is pretty cool about criticism, and they don't really have an "image" as a band, certainly not one crafted for marketing purposes.

Andrew Bird
: (2, 9): Andrew Bird is another favorite of mine, he loses points for kicking his shoe off at a show, hitting a girl in the face (at least according to an old version of Bird's Wikipedia page).

Animal Collective
: (1, 8): The fact that this new feature is named after a lyric in Animal Collective's "Banshee Beat" should let you know how much I enjoy Animal Collective. From record to record, their sound has changed more than any other band I can name, leading to some controversy between the band and fans, some of which may feel deserted or betrayed by the changing sound. Lesser bands may have a "This is our new sound and if you don't like it, don't bother me" attitude, but Animal Collective has been supportive of such fans, taking care to perform older songs at most sets. They're also fairly apathetic about file-sharing, viewing it as a way to get more fans more easily, rather than a tool for people to steal from them.

Modest Mouse
(We Were Dead version): (6, 4): Let me get one thing straight: This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About and The Lonesome Crowded West are masterpieces. The Moon & Antarctica is very good. Good News For People Who Love Bad News is a good album. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is a shitty album. It just is. Isaac Brock spent a good fifty minutes screaming (ostensibly about sailors or something), trying to convince me that he was as ironic and insightful as he was five years ago, but I ain't buyin' it. He's trying too hard, taking it too seriously. I'm not saying I could make a better album, I'm saying he could make a better album. How do I know? I have four of them.

The Redwalls
: (7, 3): Also known as "that band that sound vaguely like The Beatles in the AT&T commercial that's not Oasis," The Redwalls started out as a Beatles cover band, and have evolved into a band that plays songs that sound like Beatles songs that they pretend they've written. Their main problem is that they write 2:30 minute pop songs of decent quality and then pad them out into 4:30 by repeating ad nauseum. They're also pretty big dicks, faking British accents on stage occasionally even though they're from Deerfield, IL and complaining about how few people show up to a secret show in Champaign.

Ryan Adams
: (9, 2): And then there's Ryan Adams. I like his early, solo, folk-country work before his first album (check Archive.org for those shows), before his ego kicked in. But then it kicked pretty hard, and he takes himself way too seriously. He had the bad fortune to have a very similar name to the guy who did "Summer of '69", and the further bad fortune to strike out on his own at about the same time as that guy, but he's definitely overreacted to the understandable confusion. Apparently, he keeps money in his pocket when he takes the stage, so he can personally refund the ticket price of anyone who shouts out "Summer of '69" and boot them from the venue. He also has been known to smoke several cigarettes per show, on stage mind you (as a singer), and spend as much as half of a show talking as opposed to playing his songs--which all sound the same anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Fall Out Boy
: (9, 1): I'm not even going to elaborate on this one, just look at this:
To quote GOB Bluth, "COME ON!"

Bright Eyes
: (10, 1): Now, the mother (father?) of all dicks: Conor Oberst. Christ Almighty, I can't even begin to describe how much of an asshole this person is. I saw Bright Eyes in Champaign, and was mortified by his behavior at least ten, fifteen times in the course of the hour-and-a-half show. Granted, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is a damn good album, and Cassadaga isn't all bad, but Conor Oberst is such a huge douche that it makes you forget you like his music when you watch him perform. Feigning shyness, shameless eye-flirting with the girls in the front row, lowered voice to elicit sympathy, and spitting: it's like a smorgasbord of douche. This could be a category, actually, with Nickleback (everyone's making fun of them, I thought I should join in), My Chemical Romance, Kanye West (sorry, Paxton), and pretty much everyone working in mainstream hip-hop today.

So, lesson learned: If you want to impress me, don't take yourself too seriously, and just present your best material in a straightforward fashion with as few unecessary frills as possible. It weighs down your work and draws (my) attention to the fact that you just have shitty music to present in the first place. Don't polish a turd, keep it minimal.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Feature: The Feeling Store

I'm proud to introduce a new feature here at 2:45 AM Comics: the Feeling Store. It's basically a medium for me to write about something I like or don't like. To give you an idea of the subject matter and tone I intend to use with this new column, I might retroactively classify my old letter to Yoko Ono as being part of the Feeling Store, but I haven't made up my mind. I'm working on tomorrow's debut piece, titled "Modern Music: The Inverse Relationship Between How Good a Band is and How Seriously They Take Themselves."

Posting will start tomorrow and continue indefinitely and with absolutely no regularity whatsoever, so check back often. In fact, you had better just quit your browser and reload the page right now and check to see if it was posted while you were reading this. Are you back? Did it work? No? Well, keep trying that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Astronauts do when the cameras turn off...

On behalf of all of us at 2:45 AM Comics (That is Austin and I) I'd like to apologize for our (my) absenteeism, expect to find our page regularly updated again. You see, it seems that almost a month ago a small black hole appeared in my bedroom. After a failed attempt to make love with said hole I arrived in a scary parallel universe inhabited only by pop stars and Muppets. A month later I've returned with a joke about homosexual astronauts; enjoy.

austin edit: So that's where you've been! This is pretty good for a Paxton-written post. Anything with my two favorite things (astronauts and gay sex in a vacuum) is fine by me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Blank Comic

So I've been experimenting with several different techniques drawing techniques, and I'm very excited with a lot of what I've been coming up with. Here's what I'm most enthusiastic about; Paxton thinks it's indulgent but I think it's the best thing we've ever done. As a matter of fact, it's my new background. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Four Dogs