Friday, March 10, 2006

Shiny Happy People

Jayson Bales wrote an article over at Texasgigs about the Dallas music scene and what he sees as some of its highlights. The thesis of the article is that despite popular opinion, the scene is alive and well, and may even be ready to prosper due to various developments and local forces that are doing positive things. Normally I would react by saying that one of the signs of a failing music scene is people having to write articles in order to affirm its very existence. I would also take issue with some of the things that he described as "reasons to believe" in Dallas music: Radiant? Some jam band? House of Blues? But I really don't feel like arguing about this shit today, so I've decided to simply copy Jayson and write my own little (short) list of positive things that I have seen recently. Although I might disagree with Jayson's outlook for now (despite my full agreement with his $35,000 millionaire line), I do think that there are a few good things going on too, even if I'm pretty sure that we are nowhere near turning things around in the metroplex. Here goes, positive things about the Dallas music scene:

1. Denton: What? Doesn't Denton steal shows from Dallas? Isn't it really far away? Maybe, but I would say that a vast majority of the good things going on in local music right now are happening in Denton. Hailey's is the best play to see national touring acts in the region, Rubber Gloves always seems to have something interesting going on, and there is a quickly developing noise-rock scene up there that might produce some exciting things in the near future. Not to mention the fact that you can pretty much go up to Denton any night of the week and find a house party with live music (especially over at the Yellow house) and kids that are genuinely interested in the artistic and cultural aspects of a music scene. Just take a look at what Undoing is, um, doing over at the Eighth Continent, and you will see what good bands, knowledgeable fans and a DIY venue have the potential to do for a music community. Add the talent pool that is the UNT music school into the mix, and you have a small town that has way more going on than it ever should.

2. Daughter Entertainment: Pretty much any good national touring show that you've seen in recent memory was probably promoted by Daughter. It is nice to see that people with good taste also have enough influence to book great bands and be successful in a town where Pat Green is considered cool.

3. People finally recognizing that Deep Ellum sucks: Lets face it, Deep Ellum has sucked for a long time, and I think it is great that people are are starting to figure that out. Expensive parking, crime, crappy clubs, dumb people, abusive cops, and a general lack of ANYTHING worth going to see has killed Deep Ellum in the eyes of many. And that makes perfect sense. It has been time for that neighborhood to shape up or ship out for quite a while, and it looks like the club owners there are finally trying to figure out which they will do. Either way, it will be great to be rid of Deep Ellum as we know it now.

4. Meat Radio/Frequency Down: Two places that you can listen to good underground music without supporting Clear Channel or Scott Stapp's coke habit. These are two sources for music that might inspire people in Dallas to pick up an instrument and play something good, rather than copying the latest Interpol rip-off band and trying to out-cute one another.

5. Metrognome Collective: Again, this isn't in Dallas, but another great DIY spot for art, film, and experimental music cannot go unmentioned. This is a place where some really good things could happen.

6. Some good bands: Midlake, Undoing of David Wright, Happy Bullets, Pilotdrift, Strange Boys, Fra Pandolf, Eat Avery's Bones, Voot Cha Index, Mazinga Phaser, Tah Dahs, Shiny Around the Edges, You are the Universe, Bosque Brown. I might have left out a few, and there are probably a couple more out there that i haven't heard... yet.

So there. Come on get happy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I’m a songwriter and a good judge of songwriting, and I say Salim is the best songwriter in Dallas right now. "

well then.... now that he (it's a he right?) tells me he is a good judge of songwriging, i've gotta agree w/ him.

the GRANADA is the best venue in dallas? Mike is good at booking?
....yeah, if you think bob schnider and blues traveler "rock ass"

and don't even get me started on the dallas observer.

....i think dallas/denton music IS on the uprise, but just about everything mentioned in txgigs article has always seemed like what was WRONG about dallas music.... crappy bands getting gigs/respect, shitty preferential booking, gladhanding....oh, and there was no evidence of "scene" in that article... it was all fragments of completely unrelated shit (unless you think that "music" makes the topics related)

touting a band that sounds like coldplay? that's just silly... like people are going to be like "dude, have you HEARD this shit coming out of dallas? it's fucking amazing.... this band sounds just like COLDPLAY. the world needs more of this"

... i'm suprised he didn't mention Ryan Cabrerra as someone who is really helping dallas music reach it's peak.

3:25 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

Well put my friend.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Sam M. said...

I'd rather post my response on this site than TexasGigs... I don't know why I feel that way, but I do, so here are some scattered notes.

1) Radiant* is really good at what I call beauty-rock. AKA panty-soakin' rock. I think out of everything in the mainstream that goes after that big arena sound and hyped-up balladry, they're at the top, with some urgency and songwriting chops that matter more than the Keanes and the Coldplays of the world. Unfortunately, this is one of those bands that'll never be as super-famous as they sound unless they record a gimmick single (either a cover or some REALLY cheesy shit that makes the Old 97's "Question" sound like a frat anthem in comparison). That's just the nature of the music industry, not a knock against the band. But with that in mind, Radiant* isn't a band to rally around or consider a leapfrogging act that other Dallas bands can form their own excitement around. Radiant is a bunch of very nice guys and I ultimately dig what they do, but bands like the Theater Fire and Midlake are doing a lot more musically to give our scene a shot at super-sized exposure than Radiant ever will at this pace.

2) Mike Schoder talks a lot about loving local music, and I'll agree with that--he's been around long enough and was the biggest local CD supporter before Good Records showed up. Where else did people buy, let alone KNOW ABOUT CDs from labels like Steve and Idol before 1999? Not fucking Wherehouse... that said, the Granada is at an interesting precipice right now. The venue's identity--jamtopia and Cowboy Junkies land, two knocks against the booking that challenge Schoder's "love" of local music--can shift dramatically now that midsizer Trees is outta the picture. Problem is, as weshotjr so patently pointed out months ago, the Granada's sound often doesn't work for indie rock shows. No matter where you stand at the Granada, it sounds like you're at Smirnoff, the way the big speakers belt out echoey sound with a weird, imbalanced mix. I think the B&S/Pornos show on Tuesday is gonna be very telling as to whether or not Schoder and the Granada are ready for this opportunity to scoop up a lot of good shows and finally get the Granada's reputation up amongst ALL genres of music fans. Get it right on Tuesday. PLEASE.

3) Hudson Hauk... what has he said that the Observer hasn't? No, really, someone point it out. If he's made a real contribution to the local music scene--aside from copying Observer opinions in a paper that is easier to find at DART rail stations--someone defend him, because I haven't seen anything like that at all from his work at Quick. Not his fault, probably--even Belo's "edgy" content always winds up neutered. I would've LOVED to see him take the Dallas Music Festival to task, for example, but instead, their critic Mike Daniel threw a total softball in an Overnight review: "the Dallas Music Festival didn't leave a bitter aftertaste at all." YOU CANNOT TRUST A PUBLICATION THAT CONDONES A RIVER OF MUSICAL SHIT.

4) weshotjr's list says a lot more about local music that is exciting and pushing anything... some would say that both Jayson and weshotjr are preaching the gospel of their respective choirs, but anonymous nailed the "what was WRONG about dallas music" aspect of why Bales' article rang a little stinkily. that said, there's something to be said for local hip-hop, country, folk and jazz genres--I'm glad Bales talked about jazz, cuz there are great players around Dallas and Denton that may never be known as such while Earl freakin' Harvin towers over 'em. mebbe I should write about that... but in his chat about country and folk, not one word was spoken about people PUSHING those genres like Theater Fire and Bosque Brown or even Silk Stocking to some extent.

I'd like to throw a name/group on the weshotjr list that doesn't need to be repeated, but should be anyway: Spune Productions. Everyone knows about their previous showcases all over town, but most importantly, the Wall of Sound Festival could be a HUGE deal for local music come April 8 & 9. I'll have more to say about that fest in this week's paper...

4:22 PM  
Blogger wakka-wakka said...

When I read his column in Texas Gigs this morning, I thought, "this poor guy is going to end up being ridiculed on We Shot JR by this afternoon." And I was wrong. You served him up by mid-morning.

I feel for the dude. Yet, at the same time, I think Steve Blow may have his finger more firmly placed on the pulse of the Dallas music scene than this guy.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous ntbb said...

Oh no, there he is again. The thing about The Observer was complete ass kissing tripe. I turn to the music section and try to read something and come away as if I've just finished reading Sam M's personal blog and not the music section. The Observer is NOT a good place to get your musical information. This is the forum for the highschool yearbook editor to rant and rave about the same roster of bands. He probably uses this blog to find out about bands instead of going out and investigating them himself. Yeah great- The Observer bought out The Met- a better publication just to install crap writers like Sam and Co and leave the public with no CHOICE as to what to read. That's where Dallas needs help, even more than Deep Ellum needs it. The public needs a real paper with real writers. At least for now we have blogs and alternative zines until that happens. And yeah, we get it- you like Silk Stocking. Gee you're so edgy and artsy Sam! Picking on Quick is ridiculous and just makes it painfully obvious how you feel threatened by real writers.
If the scene is bare of flowers you can thank weeds like The Observer for helping to poison the good plants that are trying to grow. Go Budweiser! Go Porn! Or whatever the hell you're really pushing behind your "Im so controversial and edgy" weak excuse for music journalism.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous shimsham said...

Scary. If musicians are reading The Observer then you have your reason for why a lot of local bands are sucky and all sound like ColdPlay. That's about all that will get you written about in that paper.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Sam M. said...

"and leave the public with no CHOICE as to what to read."

Uh, you're here right now, aren'tcha?

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Where else did people buy, let alone KNOW ABOUT CDs from labels like Steve and Idol before 1999?"

1.) Last Beat
2.) Bill's
3.) Pagan Rhythms and all the other little indies that used to exist in weird places in Dallas
4.) Forever Young and Pipedreams and all the other little indies that used to exist in weird places in Arlington ...
5.) Dino's and Riot Records and the other little indies that used to pop up in weird places in Ft. Worth like once every 3 years...
not to mention the old Sound Warehouses that sold those damn Tales From the Edge like they were going out of style ... which they were.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Sam M. said...


5:31 PM  
Anonymous Gabriel said...

some more answers to this question:
"Where else did people buy, let alone KNOW ABOUT CDs from labels like Steve and Idol before 1999?"

Direct Hit Records
Underground Records
VVV Records
Forbidden Music
HIT Records

11:36 PM  
Anonymous ntbb said...

" "and leave the public with no CHOICE as to what to read."

Uh, you're here right now, aren'tcha? "

Yes, luckily it is the age of the Blog where people with some sense can express their own diverse opinions and put good information out there. Unfortunately even then you have to insert yourself wherever that is.
As for the people listing all he places that once were ZING ZING and Bravo! Thanks for reminding the upstart there was a music scene here before he came on board and yes, there were mightier places than the Observer to find out about stuff going on.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


i'm sorry for the quick snippet and cut down but, geez, i bet you have really bad taste in music for trashing someones taste that is so good

1:41 AM  
Anonymous ntbb said...

Ha! Sarcasm.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous KatieMac said...

Sam- *Hunter* Hauk. geez louise. I'd like to think you'd at least know his name.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Scott Chaffin said...

Sam, you're such a pussy. Go post your list directly where it was written, if you're serious about this shit. Or even better, on Unfair Park (if you can wrestle the keyboard away from Wilonsky.)

Typical fucking media weasel...

8:18 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

what are you so mad about?

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Its evident who wears the pants in your family you pansy ass douche bag. Go get a job.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Sam M. said...

I thought it was self-evident, but the use of "Hudson" was entirely intentional.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous ntbb said...

It's not enough you've got the Dallas Observer as your little soap box you have to also insert yourself into every little nook and cranny possible?! Totally pathetic.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous KatieMac said...

A 1991 Bruce Willis movie? Thankfully, I was out of the country that year.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hudson hawk rules, dudes.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Scissor Socket Shocker Zine said...

Wow! This was the most entertaining read I've come across in a long time. Mind if I print it up in my zine?!?

P.S. I agree with 'We Shot J.R.' guy. Deep Ellum does suck nuts. I can't wait until it finally flounders, takes it last breath, and dies. Then we can just rebuild it from scratch. Won't that be nice?

11:28 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I agree with your rebuilding remark. And you have full permission to print the article if you'd like... if I don't make any money from this site, then I have nothing to lose right?

2:30 AM  
Blogger Jayson said...

This site is awesome! I cannot believe I just found out about it. Very entertaining!

5:22 PM  

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