How do you spell Rumpelstiltskin?

23 06 2009

I hate how you can’t really advertise your true feelings anymore.  The internet turns even the most mild blogger into a gossip whore.  I can’t even talk about how I hate my day job and I want a new one because  it’s likely that someone I work with will read this, and let me boss know, and then all the work pot lucks will be awkward.  Not to mention, that dude I called a douche is probably going sneak up on me and say something designed to intimidate me.  The world is more dangerous than ever.

The Alarmists seen in natural habitat.

The Alarmists seen in natural habitat.

So I try to keep things positive.  These guys do that too. If they mention you, they like you.  If they don’t, they probably just wont mention you.  That’s a sound, friendly approach.  But what about everyone else?  Should we never be able to talk about things that we think suck?  Should we be afraid to let people in our vicinity know that we don’t like their work?  Should people even get upset if someone doesn’t like what they do in the first place?  Who knows, but I do hate my job.  I don’t hate The Alarmists though, so lets talk about them.

I don’t know Eric Lavold super well, but I do know him and his cohorts Drummer Boy Schwandt and Bassist Brian who are also in the bands White Light Riot and So It Goes respectively.  All great guys.  So, when I was told that the City Pages peed on them, I wondered what was up.  A friend alleged they had recently called them poop heads, and ass clowns who couldn’t play instruments.  …or something like that.  It’s sparked a huge debate about whether or not The Alarmists suck and/or whether or not the City Pages sucked. Also how in the hell do you spell the Star Tribunes music guys name?  I had to know the truth, so I decided to investigate.

Like all important people in the Twin Cities, I had an advance copy of The Alarmists new album, The Over-head Left to listen to. I also went to the release show, and then I read all these articles AND all the blog comments on the City Pages site.  Then I read Chris Rachmaninovschneider’s interview in the Star Tribune.  I’m pretty much an expert about now,  so, I will tell you all the truth.  But before I act like I know everything, let me first drag out this story by adding in personal experiences that are unrelated.

As I mentioned, the entire cast of Maudlin showed up to the show.  The first bit of evidence that I collected came when I saw the Rock The Cause table in the Varsity Theater.  As you may or may not know, Priscilla and I sit on the board of directors for Rock the Cause.  If you’re not familiar with how we help the community and music scene, please take a look.

Eric Lavold approached Rock the Cause with an offer.  Bands approach us with offers all the time.  Some of them are good ones, some are a little self serving.  Some would be really difficult and some more realistic to do.  Eric’s offer was both generous and easy.  At a time when our org could really use some extra cash, he offered to let us accept donations for digital downloads of the new album on our site and keep 100% of the proceeds.

Priscilla and I arive in Dinky Town, Jason documents.

Priscilla and I arrive in Dinky Town, Jason documents.

This might not seem like a huge deal to you, but the amount of work, money, and liability that goes into RTC putting on an event to raise money is huge.  This required nothing of us other than we upload the song.

The comment was made that The Alarmists drama may have over shadowed their music.  Why can’t someones generosity and good nature over shadow the drama surrounding their band?  I guess because People magazine would go broke, with the City Pages along with it.

Craig Grossman of Green Room Music Source, The Alarmist booking agent (also our agent) and Scott Herold, CEO of Rock The Cause hang out at the show.

Craig Grossman of Green Room Music Source, The Alarmist booking agent (also our agent) and Scott Herold, CEO of Rock The Cause hang out at the show.

The crowd at the show was great, and the bands selected where right on too.  Maudlin had a great time running around and mingling.  I let my agent buy me a drink, and Eric’s dad tried to buy Priscilla a drink because she adjusts his glasses at work, but Craig beat him to it and bought her a drink too.  Primarily we like Craig as our agent because of the drinks.  Anyway, Jason bought himself one too many drinks and then ran around taking pictures for posterity.

Jason getting his drink on.

Jason getting his drink on.

The Alarmist show was actually really good.  The new line up is great.  Someone on a blog made a comment that all the new musicians couldn’t stack up to the old ones, and made special citation of the drummer being included.  Their old drummer was very good, but complaining about Mark Schwandt’s drumming is pretty retarded. Aside from being a solid show, it was more raw than the album and had a more personal feel to it.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It actually made a few songs I was a little luke on from the album really grow on me.

Me forcing people to listen to me.

Me forcing people to listen to me.

The Album itself is certainly nothing at all to scoff at.  I can see how it differs from previous releases with less edge, but it adds a more haunting feel- actually reminds me a bit of Chris Isaac on some tunes.  (course I was just watching True Blood so…[At least, when I first wrote this pharagraph I thought that Chris Isaac wrote that song, but today Barb Abney *cough cough name drop* corrected me.  Some random hillbilly wrote that song. ]) The vocals are more stripped and personal.  They bring out a great contrast against synths soaked in reverb.  There are some dark sounding melodies and hooks, but the album still feels hopeful even if melancholy.  Something for a rainy day if you’re not the kind of person that gets super depressed and hates rainy days.  I definitely favor the first half of the album with tracks like, “Rhyme and Reason,” “Car Crashing,” “Flutter and Fly,” and “Hollywood’s Not My Home.”  Not feeling songs like “The Country” or” We Belong” as much, and I flat out do not like “The Elusive Mr Albright.” …not sure what the motivation is on that one.

Over all it sounds very much like a liberation or a rebirth than a swing and a miss.   These guys knew exactly what they were going for, and while it’s not going to thrill everyone, I think it will win a lot of people over.  As to whether or not The Alarmists will take over the world, who knows- and who cares.  They’ve already carved out a place for themselves, they’re making music that’s rewarding to themselves and still have an audience to listen.  That is what success is.

The Alamists at their CD release show at the Varsity Theater

The Alamists at their CD release show at the Varsity Theater

I believe in real criticism though, real honesty.  If there isn’t anything bad, then, of course, nothing is really good.  It’s just all double plus ungood. We don’t want that.  I’ve met Andrea from the City Pages before, and even if she hadn’t been talking with me about my band being good, I still would have thought she was really nice.  Not at all the kind of person who seems out for a vendetta.  The City Pages article is pretty scathing, but, if it’s honest, then it’s not meriting retaliation.

Chris Rumpelstiltskinschneider said that The Amarmists are big enough to take a hit.  They are.  His own article in the Strib praises the album and gives a great inside look at what’s going on with the band and what’s transpired.  It’s hard for me to not take a step back and see the two biggest papers in town arguing about a band and think, “Any press is good press.”  Ultimately the controversy made listening to the album more fun for me.  …Although, if it was my album getting shredded I would release angry bees into the office of the offending party.  Not killer bees, just kind of having a bad day bees.

My biggest complaint with local press has always been what they miss, not what they criticize.  There’s so much music here in Minneapolis, and way too much for everyone to go out and see what every band has going on.  A scathing review here and there is a service.  Just like letting people know about a new great band, and keeping up with what the bands we’ve all heard of have been up too.  The more reviews the better, good ones and bad.

Still The Alarmists, only the lights are a different color now.

Still The Alarmists, only the lights are a different color now.

So what are my conclusions? People may have differing opinions about whether The Alarmists new album is good, just like people have many different opinions on how to spell Chris Rasputinschnieder’s name- and that’s ok.  Because, in the end, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer.   And, if that conclusion offends you, blame this guy.

David

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