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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Nothing Says Valentines Day like Friday the 13th!!

15 02 2009

Chicks… Priscilla was telling me she heard some radio DJ curmudgeon saying that Valentines Day is just a holiday made up so men would have to buy women crap to get laid; that it was legalized prostitution.  To which I replied, ‘How is that different from the rest of the economy?’  …which I said as a joke.  She thought it was funny, and she totally did me later that night.  Anyway, I’m pretty into holidays in general, so I can get into the spirit of Valentines Day.  The point isn’t that its contrived and that it puts all this insane pressure on you to perform wanton acts of romance and over spending- the point is that its a designated day for doing something special for that guy or girl who makes you so nervous when she looks at you ‘that way’ that you want to wet yourself and puke at the same time.   I mean, I took St. Patrick’s Day off too. For everything a season; and this, my friends, is the season of love.

I took Friday off, because, Friday the 13th sounded like a good date for dental work and a hot date.  I started going to this new dentist who’s great, and not at all sadistic like the others I’ve been going to. Very good experience, if in need of dental services, check them out here. So, after my face was all disabled and drooly, I went home to sleep it off and prepare for my night on the town with the Mrs.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit lacks with the romantic adventures lately… as in the past few years… But, I’m starting to step things up a notch again.  Hard work.  The thing is, it’s not about prostitution as so many contemporary radio personalities have suggested; its about the effort.  Its about what lengths you’ll personally go through to make someone else feel appreciated.  Whether you’re dropping cash like you hope to live in a one bedroom apartment your whole life like me, or just taking the time and imagination to make things perfect without any budget to surpass at all.

Double Tree Hotel is famous for force feeding patrons baked goods, whether they want them or not as I found out.  I, myself, like cookies, but when the front desk dude handed a lady with a stroller and both arms full of crap six cookies for her and her kids, it looked like bad timing.  I had both hands free and waiting for cookies. Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate chip… mmmm.  They are really good. This is why I picked this particular hotel in downtown Minneapolis for a romantic evening: cookies.

Once the parking was straightened out we scoped out the room.  Pretty decent, had a little living room with a couch and a pantry/coffee area with some over priced wine you could use if you wanted.  Kind of like the dollies in a uhaul.   There was a whirlpool as requested.  Later we tried it out… but I think the water was too hot, cause we sat there for a minute and then both felt sick and had to leave… And a bed and some tvs… pretty standard hotel stuff- except for the cookies.  But before we could settle into doing married couple things, we needed to hit the town.

There are also sorts of restaurants downtown that I’ve never tried, we settled on McCormick and Schmitds… or something like that.  Fish place.  Following my romantic plan, rather than getting reservations, we just went out the day before Valentines, so that nothing would be filled up.  So, we were able to get in.

I don’t think I really like lobster.  I’ve had it at a few places where I’ve paid lots of money for it- so that should mean they’re making it right… and I don’t know… doesn’t do anything for me.  I had a small steak too. That was good.  The best thing?  The clam chowder… plain old, five dollar a bowl, claim chowder… I should have just had a lot of that. Would have been much cheaper and better.  But anyway, very romantic eating, we talked and ate fancy things.  But, fancy things to eat alone, do not a fancy night make.  We needed a party.  But, not just any party would do, we needed a Weber party.

Scott Weber is a very interesting eccentric.  He lives in one of the apartment complexes he owns, and he’s transformed half the building into this party palace with themed rooms and secret passage ways… it’s pretty nuts.  Check the video.  This is a bit old, so there’s a lot more stuff there now… Anyway, he was having a Valentines Day party, so we checked out of the real world and entered his for a while.  Lots of folks were there.  There was partying.  Laurel Ogren showed up.  Laurel is my favorite party favor other than myself.  Scotty Herold was there to affirm it was the place to be.  It was, in a word, magical.  So, after a time,  we made our exit and went back to the room to do the married couple things that you guys are far to young to hear about.

In the morning we went estate sale shopping after some more married couple things.  We stopped at this little cafe where the food sucked and was over prices near w7th and grand… but they had the most hilarious tee shirts.  “The Bible talks about St. Paul, but it never mentions Minneapolis.”  Ha!  I love it.  I wanted one, but didn’t feel like wasting anymore money there.  …but if someone else wants to get me one???

Anyway, so, then later we ended up our at Club Jager with some friends.  …And I’ll list them.  These were the friends we were out with- all of them.  Adam “Mr Figs” Newton, Jedi knight and friend to Caption Solo.  Brian Beck.  He likes soccer.  Pat “Secret Pirate Jerk” O’Brien (who’s name I misspelled two blogs ago… here’s my retraction…) and his lovely wife Jessica, same last name. We were all dancing and talking and partying like crazy, and then we were starting to get a little bored around 1am… so, I’m thinking to myself, ‘wonder if there’s something up at Weber’s  again’ So I texted him…

ME:Weber, what’s up, party number two tonight?

WEBER:**********, Richfield

ME: cool,who’s place?

WEBER: mine. come over.

So… this was kind of believable because I know he owns more than one place, but I was pretty sure he just lived in the one and rented all the others, but, because we’re all the adventurous sort, off we went. After I nearly killed everyone attempting to follow me the, we arrive at this quaint little home.  There are all these little bags that say ‘happy Valentines Day’ with candles inside lining the walk up to the house.  We knock on the door and some guy I’ve never seen before answers with this horrified ‘ohgodpleasenomoreguests’ look on his face.  And then Weber comes matching up from behind. “There with me, come on in guys” We go inside and there’s this nice little party set up, but clearly everyone had already left.

Someone was packing up wine glasses and getting things in the trash.  It was hilariously awkward. They graciously offered us everything they had, and we dove into the chocolate fondue like ravenous wolves descending upon a crippled moose.  Weber, naturally, conversed with us normally as though we had all the time in the world.  I can still see Pat standing in the middle of the kitchen.  Just standing uncomfortably… I was laughing the whole time.  Eventually we made our awkward goodbyes and hurried out, me with a small plate of food.  The meatballs were great.  Also, I double dipped in the fondue.  Don’t tell.

And that was that.  Our Valentines Day adventure.








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