Category Archives: STREET TEAM

Where’s The Street Team?: 2016’s False-Flag Bursting Of The RSD Bubble

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In January of this year, when I wrote a Street Team column of yore, there existed absolutely no available information of an official nature about what was both a positive and negative attention magnet as well as an internal PR anxiety for the Record Store Day organization. I am referring, of course, to the triple-tiered entity known as “The List,” and any residual activity on behalf of the preceding over-the-jeans handjob that was RSD Black Friday was all but snuff ed out of the collective conversation by the year-end list/ recap circle-jerk of a month-long extended fuck-off vacation gleefully taken by 99 percent of my colleagues in bylines. So with no list, there were yet to be any of the building blocks that make up the collective written and reported blob of misguided journalistic embarrassment that is Record Store Day Dissent. I honestly believed myself to be some prescient culture consultant via passages like …

“It’s obviously far too early for content farms to start spitting out this year’s array of ‘Are major labels ruining Record Store Day because one took a fresh shit on the kitchen floor this morning and they are definitely responsible for that horrible accident on I-40 last week?’ Clickbait page-view generators dressed up as ‘think pieces’ or ‘investigative music journalism.’ So I have a little prediction to make about how RSD 2016 is going to play out in this regard. On whatever date has been allotted for the mass switchover from creating David Bowie-related content to anti-RSD fare (April 14?), there will then arrive a much smaller volume of Record Store Day negativity and criticism, the hilarious RSD responses it generates, all the other crap that constitutes the morass of negative RSD-related baggage, and the attendant words and punctuation arranged to seem like this stuff instead of the line item on the Converse or Ray-Ban or Ford Focus sponsorship deal that it really is.”

While there’s no way to prove it, I harbored more profound and overarching predictions about RSD 2016, like, “There will be far fewer official titles released,” and the directly and indirectly related, “There will be fewer once-perennial labels participating.” Instead of following the aforementioned claim with either of these now-true predictions, I just derailed the rest of the column with more of my self-righteous ranty-rant based on a very real concern for the current and future health of music writing but more immediately rooted in very poor choice of battles therein.

“Anyway, why won’t 2016 simply see another incremental ramp-up of the tepid and misguided journalistic firing of blanks in question? Well, let’s just put it this way: I won’t let it. Not in my house. My same prediction for 2015 (made exactly a year ago) proved wrong, and that’s fine. But I will simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of a music journalism/criticism/ commentary landscape that allows another incremental increase in the sort of thing that really makes me ashamed of being associated with the thing that defines me. Seriously.”

No, seriously, what the fuck gets into my head sometimes? Other than various types of grammatical catastrophes, like the doubling-up of “thing” and how that doubling-up happened in the final sentence of the above-quoted section. Anyway, that’s what I turned in. I’m too terrified to confirm whether the structural pants-pooping made it into the public sphere. Of course, there was a down-tick in “major labels this … ” and “major labels that … ” excuses for “investigative” music journalism and “pointed” op-ed pieces, because everything was dialed down this year … in a very calculated fashion. The handful of above examples might as well have been the new evil buzz-term of “sponsored content.” It would look weird if no dissent at all showed its face, so if it’s going to be there, it might as well exist in this reliable safe-space.

The highest price someone paid for an RSD 2016 title (BTW, I’m referencing only examples and sources based on U.S. RSD rather than worldwide info) via eBay was $236.76 for the James The Greenpeace Palace Concert 1992 LP. I’d say that’s a tad “whelming” compared to the astronomical monetary mountains people have climbed in recent years, impulsively and driven by poor judgment (wait a few days or months, my friend) for an RSD title. But let’s take a look at Discogs, eBay’s first true threat. Well, that title has never sold through Discogs, and there’s currently one available for $62.99. As of this writing, the highest priced leftover RSD 2016 stock on Discogs is a sealed (duh) copy of Light In The Attic’s Heartworn Highways 40th anniversary edition boxed set for $215, and the highest-priced single release is a hefty $213.95 someone thinks they’re going to nab for David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World limited-edition picture disc. Having watched Bowie’s corpse get harvested for every cent and word it could possibly be worth since his passing several months ago, it wouldn’t surprise me if this short-con non-artist was able to separate that amount from someone’s wallet.

There were only around 340 (again, ostensibly) official RSD 2016 titles this year compared to the upward of 500 that appeared on 2015’s version of The List. The fat-trimming wasn’t really that at all, naturally, but a combination of absentee labels and boardroom “how can we avoid all of that pressing plant nastiness this time around?” meetings. The bubble has not popped, as I’m sure some have surmised. Next year, RSD will probably return to its confusing, blown-out former self. But please don’t mark my words.

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Where’s The Street Team?: A Crime Against The History Of The Band Moniker

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Before I get into something vinyl-related, I must start off with a few comments about this very magazine. During this column’s first run (1979-2009), or at least during most of it, my year-end theme was often based on taking a shit all over whatever MAGNET had either elected to be its best-of for the year or assorted cover stories and other positive-power pushes that appeared in its pages during the previous 12 months. You know, the whole “What the fuck were they thinking?!?” sort of thing. Usually it was fleshed out into declarations of violence, office vandalism (faux … duh) or threats of resignation (all faux … duh) from the writing staff in some unforgettable manner or another. In Street Team’s long history, this general angle was one of the more predictable. But like all journalistic/promotional/promojournalistic year-end/best-of follies, it was easy and allowed me to experience the laziness that defines the processes of most other music writers regardless of season. A little participatory tip-o-the-hat to my (late) man, George Plimpton, if you will.

Well, just the other day, my comp copy of MAGNET #129 arrived in the mail and necessitated a temporary derailing of Street Team’s running “Best Writing About Vinyl And Its History” phase (it’s a “phase” or “era” now, considering how many of them I’ve written to date) for a quasi-reunion with what was described in the opening paragraph. Accidents are the exclusive causal factor behind the only times I’ve ever heard the music made by Dr. Dog, and the occurrences date to at least seven to eight years back. I don’t remember what album or chapter in the band’s 15-year narrative provided what went into my ears, and I can only recall making an assessment that was some combination of “Flaming Lips lite,” “Irrelevant 6 is still happening?!?” and “This isn’t that bad … pretty catchy,” “You could do worse with the ‘Bonnaroovian-jam-band-gets-indie-rock-makeover’ or ‘Bonnaroovian indie-rock band gets jam-band makeover’ that’s happening everywhere right now” and “Oh no fucking way!!! The sound of any band that chooses to name itself Dr. Fucking Dog is not allowed within 100 yards of my property or person!!!!!”

Let’s say Dr. Dog’s music is equal or superior to a seamless, perfectly executed combination of Boris, Trumans Water, Jesu, the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Fly Ashtray, Silkworm, Torche, Bailter Space, the Wedding Present, 40 Watt Sun, the Swirlies, selections throughout the Converge discography, the Dead C, Shellac, Neu!, Palace/Bonnie Prince Billy/Will Oldham, Bill Drummond’s entire career, Coral, Three Mile Pilot, This Heat, Steel Pole Bath Tub, Deaf Wish, John Fahey, Cloud Rat, Guided By Voices, Melvins, the Grifters, Bob Lind, Gods & Queens, Moving Targets, Team Dresch, Kreator’s Terrible Certainty LP, A Minor Forest, Neurosis, Lindsey Buckingham’s and Bob Lind’s respective compositions for Fleetwood Mac, My Bloody Valentine, G.I.S.M., Pallbearer, the Frogs, Slayer, Further, Wildildlife, pg. 99, Electric Wizard, Minutemen, Bolt Thrower, Fugazi, Bongwater, Innumerable Forms, Weekend Nachos, Can, Dinosaur Jr, the Byrds, New Order, Cheater Slicks, Disfear, Charles Brown Superstar, Stereolab’s Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements LP, Scott Walker’s first four albums, Battles, Leatherface, Thin Lizzy, Cherubs, Honor Role, the Cure’s pre-1992 output, World Of Pooh, Graf Orlock, Black Sabbath, Hüsker Dü, Pig Destroyer’s Phantom Limb LP and Natasha EP, Eggs, Lorelei, the Wipers, His Hero Is Gone, Pyramids, Medicine, Jucifer, Ween, Vertical Slit/V-3, Unwound, Uncle Wiggly, Gun Outfit, Treepeople, Sun City Girls, Superconductor, The(e) Speaking Canaries, Sorry, Jessamine, Disma, Versoma, Scrawl, Rites Of Spring, Carcass, Polvo, Miles Davis’ 1971-1975 output, Band Of Susans’ 1991-1995 output, Destruction’s Infernal Overkill and Eternal Devastation LPs, the Groundhogs, the Fucking Champs’ III double-LP, My Dad Is Dead’s 1989-1997 run, Windhand, Major Stars, Joel R.L. Phelps (+Downer Trio) and Jay Reatard.

Now let’s say they have a sense of humor and way with words that bests Spalding Gray, Bobcat Goldthwait, Dick Cavett, Norman Mailer, Neil Hamburger, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Broad City, Gore Vidal and Brian Koppleman combined.

Lastly, what if Dr. Dog was all of that plus its music somehow exuded the collective heart, wit and genius of Fargo: Season 2, Better Call Saul, The Newsroom, Thomas Berger’s Sneaky People, plus everything ever written by Pete Dexter and Charles Willeford?

A more succinct way to present this hypothetical is to simply ask, “What if Dr. Dog was heavily influenced by the multi-format genre known as ‘great taste’ and managed to parlay it into the creation of its music in a discernible yet highly successful manner?”

If this was indeed the case, and I actually believed it to be true, then I’m afraid that the Best Artistic Statement Of All Time would have to be boycotted in this house because someone chose to name it Dr. Fucking Dog.

Band names/artistic monikers are so, so, so important, people. Anyone who subscribes to bullshittery such as “It’s only a name” or “It’s unfair to judge a band/artist on name alone” needs to call 911 so the EMTs can rush him or her to the ER for an emergency head-from-ass extraction. The quality level of a band name/moniker is a paramount reaction upon many other facets of whatever it is that you’re putting in front of the world. Of course, there are many express routes to utter failure re: band name/moniker choice, and “Dr. Dog” checks four boxes: 1) Traditionally Bad; 2) Aesthetically Repellent; 3) Accurately Implementative Of Bad Musical/Sonic Elements At Work; and 4) Poor Choice In Band Name = Poor Choices In Musical Presentation. Though it might not seem like it, this is one of the more harmless results of assessing a bad band name. At least there’s a perverse originality to it. Don’t get me started on the blink-and-miss-it idiocy, crash-and-burn “cleverness” and dire dearth of originality behind such monikers as “Joanna Gruesome,” “Sauna Youth” and “Zora Jones.” In closing, I should clarify that Dr. Dog’s music is available on the vinyl format.

—Andrew Earles

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Where’s The Street Team?: 2008 Film Edition

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For no reasons other than tardiness and disorganization, I continue to amass problematic entertainment entities from 2008. So, even as we near the beginning of February 2009, my retroactive master list of nuisances continues to grow. This is the first official installment of “Where’s The Street Team?: The Online Version,” my own little inauguration into the practice of ongoing online creativity that isn’t a blog that no one reads (failedpilot.com).

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Where’s The Street Team?: Year-End Edition

street-team-yim-flat2Well, color me surprised! In 2008, I listened to more new music than would normally be expected from a rock writer in his mid-30s (none of us actually seeks out new music on our own accord, as the dynamic changes drastically when new music is forced upon us for the purpose of adding another byline to the portfolio), especially from one who’s been missing that perfect combination of “asshole,” “smartass” and “heart” in the same column for almost six years now. Wow, what the hell was that last sentence? The framed mantra in the think-tank room at Apatow Productions? Yes, I genuinely obsessed over a lot of 2008 releases: Fucked Up, Geisha, Neil Hamburger, the beginning of the Oneida trilogy/triptych, Disfear, Destroyer and Crystal Stilts, to name a few. But the year was predictably marred by albums and movements that genuinely irked me. I suppose it would be a mild head-fuck to populate this column with albums I love, but it wouldn’t pack the soft, short-sighted punch of what’s written below.

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Where’s The Street Team?: 15 Years Of Failure

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MAGNET’s editors came up with the idea of a Where’s The Street Team? directed at one band for each of the 15 years the magazine has been in existence. Fifteen years? Yeah, right. I know full well that MAGNET was founded in 2003 for the express purpose of providing a vehicle for this column. I’m pretty sure the boardroom meeting went something like this: “Well, we need to surround Street Team with music coverage, features, reviews and such, just to give the reader a breather.” I’m a good sport, of course, so I went along with this whole “15th Anniversary Issue” applesauce.

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Where’s The Street Team?: The Blank Generation

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I’m so tired of hearing musicians whine about how long they’ve struggled, how long they’ve spent “in the van,” how long they’ve been on an independent label. Get yourself some famous parents and shut up. Nepotism is the key to getting to the top—or, at least, to somewhere between the middle and the bottom with the possibility of four seconds at a higher level. Being the progeny of a successful musician is a coupon for a one-album, one-option contract with a marginal record label. Not only does nepotism allow the artist to skip the “struggle” part of the process, another unnecessary requirement is “talent.”

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Where’s The Street Team?: The Worst Of The Best Of 2007

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I tried to talk my editors into allowing this year-end issue to be one big installment of Where’s The Street Team?: no advertisements, just 128 pages of my razor-sharp wit, slicing and dicing 2007’s crimes against good taste. Lord knows I would have no dearth of material. Did the entire world wake up on New Year’s Day 2007 with its collective head up its ass? Forget global warming; I’d like to battle a little problem called creative bankruptcy.

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Where’s The Street Team?: Crappy Anniversary

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I tend to think of anniversaries in the romantic sense, not the musical one. Considering I’ve spent my adult years striving to have a romantic anniversary greater than two years, music-related milestones serve one purpose for me: boring, last-ditch story ideas for magazines. The music biz’s attempt to reverse awful CD sales through anniversary editions and reissues should tell you something about the pathetic lengths that labels will now go to get you inside of a soon-to-be-closed-and-turned-into-a-check-cashing-outlet retail music store.

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Where’s The Street Team?: Trendsobbing

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All of us do something that’s part of a trend, some of us more so than others. Most of us do nothing unless it’s been pre-approved by a gazillion other cookie-cutter scenesters. This continues to be the case as ideas are born and worn into the ground by drones too boring to have the ideas in the first place, thus setting individuality at an all-time-low. There are no true outsiders. What you are doing, creatively, is part of a big dumb movement, so don’t get all high and mighty about what you incorrectly perceive to be original. There exists no more fertile ground for lemmings than the music industry. Let’s take a cursory look.

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Where’s The Street Team?: Heavy-Metal Parking Lot

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Let’s rock out! Let’s make some metal! Better yet, let’s fake it! I’m not a metalhead. I do, however, know a lot about metal and have always listened to it alongside more obvious obsessions. I bought Mercury Rev’s Boces during the same record-store outing that netted Death’s Individual Thought Patterns. I know, whoop-dee-doo, but I want to distinguish myself from some windbag who latched onto this shit three years ago. It’s interesting to note that the only genre more clique-ish than indie rock is metal, and the invasion of one by the other has produced much whining and fruitless grandstanding. And rocking out? Rocking out is still a popular and novel way to spice up those breadwinning careers that are allergic to energy. Join me, dear friends and amusing enemies, for a look at a few clumsy mid-career crises, ones that result from a need to show the world that metal is cool. As of yesterday.

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