My Top 50 Favorite Bands of All-Time

August 26, 2010
As I go on in years, certain things become clear to me.  I am a list maker, there hasn’t ever been any question of that.  But I don’t make lists to purely voice my opinion.  I do these things and have these internal debates to learn more about myself.  Now that I am 30, certain bands have been pulling their weight in my life more than others and you start to notice what bands stay forever (Depeche Mode) and what bands are just a phase (Cat Power).
So, have a look at my internal debate and see if it helps you with your own.
ps. I moved a few around and I’m to lazy to renumber the whole thing.
  1. The Beatles
  2. Underworld
  3. Tears for Fears
  4. David Bowie
  5. Radiohead
  6. Nirvana
  7. R.E.M.
  8. Depeche Mode
  9. Kraftwerk

10.  Blur

11.  Midnight Oil

12.  Phish

13.  Pink Floyd

13. U2

14.  The Chemical Brothers

15.  Roxy Music

16.  The Cure

17.  Orbital

18.  Sublime

20.  Belle and Sebastian

21.  Brian Eno

22.  New Order

23.  Nine Inch Nails

24.  Moby

25.  Devo

26.  The Clash

27.  Philip Glass

28.  Leonard Cohen

29.  The Velvet Underground

30.  My Bloody Valentine

31.  The Smiths

32.  Joy Division

33.  The Doors

34.  Madonna

35.  Coldplay

36.  Talk Talk

37.  The Magnetic Fields

38.  Daft Punk

39.  Talking Heads

40.  Marilyn Manson

41.  Air

42.  Pavement

43.  George Michael

44.  The Police

45.  Jimi Hendrix

46.  Sigur Ros

47.  Guns N Roses

48.  INXS

49.  Scott Walker

50.  Plane

Duran Duran, Cream, Neutral Milk Hotel, Death Cab for Cutie, Weezer, Deftones, Ambluance LTD, The Strokes, Interpol, Clinic, Trail of the Dead, Cat Power, Nick Drake, Gary Numan, The Flaming Lips, Nada Surf, The Stone Roses, The Rolling Stones, The Ben Folds Five, Buddy Holly.  The High Llamas, Lansing Drieden, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Supergrass,


A snippet from my memoir…

June 29, 2010

Here’s a snippet from my personal memoir (ahem, diary) that I thought I would share with everyone.

…speaking of music, even though Jodie is sleeping in the extra bedroom upstairs and I can have music playing normally, I much prefer to wear headphones.  It’s not just because I have a smoking ass set of phones, but I just enjoy blasting fucking music right into my head.  It has some strange quality to it.  I remember when I first starting writing seriously…

(Cue flashback sequence music)

Once I had Mrs. Lata’s IBM Selectric II and figured out how to load the ribbon, I started writing.  I was stone sober as this was the beginning of my famous 21st year and the clean life that came with it.  I don’t know if it was straight from the first time or the fifth, but I started blasting music on headphones alongside writing pretty early on.  God, it seems like I’m going for hipster credit here but please know I wish for no such thing…but the albums that I really listened to a lot where Neu! 1 and Tago Mago by Can.  They were just so energetic and foreign.  I couldn’t get lost in the words because most of them were in a different language, if there were any words at all.

I fucking loved it.  Man, thinking about that August back 9 years ago now really makes me sentimental.  It’s when we first saw each other through different eyes.  With The XX’s “Vcr” gently playing in the background, I feel like I’ve never been more in love with you then I am right now.  I’ve never spent more time with anyone in my entire life.  It’s gone by so fast, yet it seems like we’ve always been together.  Sitting up all night in my old bedroom, talking about music and our friends, our hopes and dreams, and the endless possibilities we could share in our life together.  Oh, the effortless work we put in at the beginning came so easily to us.  It wasn’t destiny, it was gravity.

We fell asleep and woke up together every day that Fall and it wasn’t long before our first two children were born.  They arrived so closely together that they could have been twins.  We worked with them constantly, hoping to shape them into their own personalized version of perfection.  And then I stuck my penis in the typewriter and shit got real weird for a long time.  We barely spoke until we had moved on to see other people (Hey Camera, I’m looking at you, you sexy whore) and even then it took time.

Aw, wasn’t that cute?  It seems like I should enter it into a contest for up and coming teen writers.  Writing: Mi Amore an essay by J. Charles Scro.

Here are some deleted sentences from that Peabody award winning article:

We’ve been through everything together and whether mired in our failures or elevated in our triumphs, we have found a way to make our life together work.

Sure, like any other young couple we’ve had our financial burdens loom over us, but it is clearest during these times that success nears every single day.

That was pretty lame and this is how I’ve chosen to redeem myself as a badass pimp mother fucker…

Man oh man I love me some Lady Gaga.  I’m high out of my mind and “Paparazzi” is hitting the spot.  And it was primed to because Jodie and I watched her on SNL and the her talent show footage on Youtube.  The SNL was killer and I’d seen it once before.  The first song “Paparazzi” was just okay, but her second one, um the icky “disco stick” one was FUCKING AMAZING!!! I hadn’t been that swept up in a moment of music on SNL since I was living in Elgin and I saw the Arctic Monkey’s perform “A Certain Romance” ( I literally cried it was such an amazing moment).  She played a little of the shit song I don’t like, but her performance was great because she was wearing a dress made out of huge metal rings and she and them moved perfectly with each other.  But then, she sat down at the piano, rings and all.  She waved to the crowd as everyone watched in dead silence.  “Hi New York,” she said before playing a prototype version of “Bad Romance”, improvising her piano playing and singing about growing up in New York, over into “Poker Face” before shifting into another improvisation.  This was all just her singing and playing the piano.  You could hear a pin drop.  It was the ballsiest thing I’d ever seen on SNL and it was the free formed playing part, not the metal dress or handjob gestures.

Then, Jodie and I watched the clip that got me curious about Gaga in the first place; a young Stefani Germanotta playing a talent show at NYU in 2005.  It’s just her and her piano, yet you feel that she was this little fucking Lady Gaga hiding underneath the surface.  It wasn’t destiny, it was gravity.  I’m kind of just learning about her, but everything I learn, I like.  Not her bullshit antics or anything like that.  I could give a shit, but I like knowing an artist’s history.  To find out that her talent had landed her a record label as just herself before she realized her true potential as Lady Gaga interests me a lot.  I read some dude on the internet that said recording a more traditional (and respected) Norah Jones like record and getting dropped from her label for it caused her to marry art and entertainment in Lady Gaga.  Here’s the quote from some kid on Youtube:

“I think getting dropped from her label for writing sad piano rock made her realize that no one gives a fuck about you or your pain unless the chorus is catchy.  Which she basically said in an interview. I don’t call that selling out; I call it being practical.”

Dude, that’s exactly how I think except that I don’t make that kind of music.  In fact, I wouldn’t even say I think that way.  I would say I feel that way.

And the best part about me nerding all over her; it has been bookended by two of her songs even though many others played in between them.

“Heligioland” by Overseer, one of the most beautiful and unique pieces of music from all time now pours out over the speakers and my love of music continues seamlessly from one aspect or another.  Music is so free formed.  I love pop music like a teen girl and yet I’m now emotionally moved by someone playing a synth violin over an English man reading the shipping report.

The first time I heard “Heligioland” was during the period that I would take longs walks before working out when I still lived in Elgin with Joey, Rebecca, Matt, Ryan, and Andrea.  This one particular day it started to storm wildly while I was still 20 mins away from the workout center.  My regime was that I would leave the iPod on complete shuffle while taking my walks to hear new music.  Then, I would make a playlist of the songs that interested me.  While I was working out, I would review these songs and decide which ones would make it onto “The iPod’s Best” playlist.  This would then be the playlist that I would take public, play for friends, and at gatherings.

The storm was raging and I without shelter.  I didn’t care because this song had just come on that tied everything together.  It was like I had never noticed something so completely in my life while also making me feel so comfortable that part of my mind barely noticed a storm at all.  I had one of those rare life moments were every aspect of existence came into harmony.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned them here, but Oliver Touching the Sun, The Puppies in the Snow, Oliver and “Demon Days” from Demon Days, and Rebecca and “Demon Days” from Demon Days are the titles of those stories in addition to The “Heligioland” Storm.  I’ll have to check whether I’ve written about them or not because they are the reason I stay alive.  Not for the past moments, but future ones.

Now, since the Overseer song has a twenty minute hidden track of nothing that I have to sit though, I will talk about my need to make a playlist (now replacing mix cds which replaced mix tapes) of the Pavement songs they are playing all the time that I don’t know well.  Out of the 23 songs they’ve been touring, these are the ones I do not know well or at all.

  1. Silence Kit
  2. Stereo
  3. Elevate Me Later
  4. Rattled by the Rush
  5. Gold Soundz
  6. Date w/ Ikea
  7. Unfair
  8. Fight This Generation
  9. Kennel District
  10. In the Mouth a Desert
  11. We Dance
  12. Starlings of the Slipstream
  13. Father to a Sister of Thought
  14. And Then (The Hexx)
  15. Fin

It makes me look like a weak ass Pavement fan, right?  Which is weird because I obsess over these guys and have for the last four or so years.  They seem to stay away from the weird jams I like, such as “Passat Dream” (my name for their biopic if I ever write it), “Western Homes” and late Terror Twilight personal favs “Cream of Gold”, “Folk Jam”, and “Ann Don’t Cry”.  Man, I would pee my pants to hear any of those.  I’m hoping that they vary it up a little for Pitchfork, but I don’t care if they don’t.  I want to make this playlist because I’m sure those other songs I don’t know are awesome.

Pavement were my first favorite band of my iPod era.  I had just spent the previous period wearing out my copy of Slanted and Enchanted, so I knew one full album and two songs of theirs before loading everything (from cds I bought, for real) they had onto my iPod.  Oh, the two songs where “Cut Your Hair” (of course) and “A T & T”.  I liked that song, but never got into them from there, even though those songs were spread out for my by 5 years…

Jesus, you’re baked, Justin!

Long and short of it being that I didn’t discovery most of my favorite Pavement songs by listening to the whole albums, but rather having their songs come up on shuffle and falling in love with them from there.  It seemed I would pick up a new one every week.  The first song was “Cream of Gold”, followed shortly by “5-1=Unity”, “Folk Jam” and so many other. Hell, even large chunks of time later, I first heard “Grounded” (my all time favorite) only two years ago and “Ann Don’t Cry” shortly after.

So I know that a great Pavement song is lurking around the corner at any time, even ones that I should have known for years.


An abstract treat

May 29, 2010

Hello there children.  I am going to give you an abstract preview of the new Camera material in contention to be recorded on our next project.  What I am going to do is listen to each of the songs and write a free-formed stream of conscious rambling for each of the songs as I am listening to them.  I will give no information about the song itself besides its title (and to indicate if the song is an instrumental).  This weirdo experiement here does not reflect the actual meaning or lyrics to the work.  Well, some…

1. The Beehive (instrumental)

A gentle whirlpool that was already there.  The place of its origin unknown.  Its purpose unfulfilled.   Helpless from the drainage, I swirl a little further down each time without ever sinking.  The motion becomes habit, the habit becomes an addiction.  Never forced to choose, the nether pads my being, preventing loss, preventing gain.

2. Broken Order (instrumental)

The rounded corner camouflages its sharp points very well, but when we arrive we find no threat.  The threat is not against us.  It is on our side. It is protecting us.  We are defended by a benevolent force that is both strong and loyal, measurable only in the damage done to our enemies when used against them.

3. Buried Alive

A desperate hope is hope nonetheless.  Even if truly lost, we will all be avenged eventually.  Good will prevail, if not for us, for our children or theirs.  The end will not be dark.  We will win.  The victory will be felt backwards through time by all that came before us.

4.  Debris

This is our inherited mess.  A world destroyed beyond repair.  Some see clutter.  I see fire.  I see water.  I see the elements coming to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.  It’s natural to be in decline.

5.  Empty Orchestra

A gentle swagger.  A strut.  Confidence.  Domination.  A poseable chaos emanating from our fingertips.  This is the retelling of our glory.  This is our victory dance.

6. The Gathering Storm

Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, lovers, friends…There is confusion in hope and destruction in expectations.  The swirling won’t pull you down like the whirlpool.  This one will ascend you into the light above to death or life eternal.  One day, we will all find out.

7. Grazed by Bullets

The march of the nervous and bedraggled.  Precious, precious anxiety keeps us moving in time to the ticking of a clock.

8. Heir Apparent

We plea.  We threaten.  We attack.  We win. We celebrate.  Happiness is a Warm Android.

9. Labradford (instrumental)

Momentarily waking in darkness before returning to sleep unaware that a real moment has passed.  These are the real dreams. Pensive and sparse,  yet trenchant and direct.  A fog that can be felt but never seen.

10. The Negotiator

We feast on the souls of the trembling.  Fear not, our comrades, these teeth are sharp for the enemy, for the guilty, and for the unjust.  Our claws dig deep in the flesh of the glutton and the fool.  When we are done, they will be lean again.  They will be wise.  They will be innocent once more.

11. No Surprise

Angles, twisting, shifting in place, into place and revealing a completely smooth circle.

12. Nuclear

Fear can move us forward.  Fear can makes us strong.  But fear cannot feed our souls. We will starve in darkness unless we use fear as a weapon and not a shield.

13.  On a Night Like This

A sweaty, sultry summer night filled with urgency and accident.

14. The Other Artist

The race is on.  We tried to play nicely, but you just wouldn’t listen.  We are patient, we are kind, but we will not be your victim.  We will gnaw off our own arms to prevail.  And prevail we will.

15. The Panic and the Permanence

I’m a Creep.  I’m a 30th Century Man.  I’m watching it all happen around me.  I’m refusing to budge.  I’m refusing to stay.

16. Pierce (instrumental)

There are knights left yet.  They ride far above our eyes in territories undreamed.  Their swords fall heavy on the unimaginative and those who refuse to look for things that can’t be seen.

17. A Place I Know

Dance with me through the past.  We will spin ever so gently in footsteps we’ve already planted.  There will be no surprises, only shock in h0w we’ve made it so far dancing in circles.

18. Pop Radio 101

Like reading a book on fire we juggle knowledge in our hands without knowing where we can set it down or if we’d ever want to.  The honesty of the page glows brighter than the flame itself, but the burn belongs to both.  The fire spreads from your eyes to your ears to your mouth to the curtains to the front door until the whole world is set aflame.

19. This House on Fire

I will not destroy myself to vanquish my enemies.  They will self-destruct in time.  I will miss them.

Well, thanks for hanging out with me.  I hope one person out there enjoyed that and that it makes them more excited to hear the new songs.


I have left Facebook for the time being.  Love to you all.  You can always use the telly phone or email me at slowgraffiti80@hotmail.com


Prizes all sizes and vacation stays

April 19, 2010

I finally got off my ass and saw Mr. Russia for the first time outside of the many shows we’ve played together.  Watching Mr. Russia on-stage at the Beat Kitchen Saturday made me realize I was looking at more than the band and hearing more than the music.  I saw them all and thought, these are my comrades and this is our battle cry.

I met Mr. Ivan Russia himself at the first show we ever played together at the Tonic Room in January of 2007.  By the time MR’s cover of “Boys Keep Swinging” filled the room, I knew that this band had something extra up their sleeve beyond their bass/drums/vocals set-up would initially expose.  I didn’t get the chance to talk with Ivan that night, but I remembered his swagger and jacket (hahaha, it’s true though.  It was a sweet jacket).  I then started seeing this guy everywhere I would go.  The Man Man show, seeing their name in print, and ending up at the Double Door together; Ivan and Mr. Russia were all over the place.  Those damn red MR stickers are still everywhere!  I finally got a chance to talk to Ivan that night at the Double Door and we’ve been ‘comrades’ ever since.  He hooked Camera up with a place to practice when we were in an ultimate bind (and we’re still there.  Carrol St. hooligans unite!), allowed us the opportunity to cover Radiohead’s Idioteque, and always has dependable advice, both on and off the court.

So, needless to say, my critical feelers were on full alert getting to go and watch Mr. Russia in full concentration for the first time.  I’ve loved MR’s output of recorded material, but the live show is usually where my concentration goes while processing a band in full.  The second they started playing a smile came across my face: Of course I loved Mr. Russia!  I had known that all along, but actually getting to take in their performance without having to worry about my own was focusing.  The set opened big and the show stayed loud and large until the band broke things down to a whisper with the title track off of their EP Training for the Gameshow Host.  This was my absolute favorite moment of the night, the week, and month.  Ivan’s talent’s and natural showmanship came into full view, the band steamily slunk back and the Mr. Russia show suddenly became an event, a happening, and the only place to be on earth at that moment.


“I am the negotiator…”

April 16, 2010

Always with the Wild Beasts.  The album Two Dancers is the only thing in the world that consistently makes sense to me.  All in all, I’ve had a pretty rough go of it in the past two or so weeks.

Things that must pass did, and while I sat as an involved outsider in the events surrounding my own life, I couldn’t help but become interested in them.  So it goes… The rubbish around me spilled forth into my knowing like the belongings of a young person tightly stuffed into a closet covering up a messy room. The past days have seen shock and grandeur, moments of anxiety, and the most intense emotional negotiations one could imagine.  I am more aware of the wisdom in my choices, though it certainly wasn’t any kind of fate that guided my hand in making them.  Making the right decisions in life is a mixture of providence, research, and luck.  I am well aware of that and I certainly bow to all three.  I make the right choices because they are the right choices to make.  Every emotion is a governing factor and paying credence to all of them at once is the hard part.  Some are to be taken more seriously than others, those being the positive emotions.  They are the ones that are really going to help.  In the end, the worst decisions are going to be made out of leaning too heavily on pessimism.  This is how I am able to walk through the fire without getting burnt, though it doesn’t mean that it’s every comfortable.

While I can handle things in my own way, a talent for explanation doesn’t mean that its simple.   The things in my life that went awry had very little to do with me, yet I was thrust into the middle.  Not that I fought it much.  Once in the center, I had clean my way out.  I couldn’t leave the mess as I had found it, mine or not.   One clear path alone wouldn’t do it either; I had to decontaminate as much of it as I was allowed.  There are some things that couldn’t be put away though.  Never again will they be the same nor is there a normal for them to go back to.  Maybe that’s the shame of it.  Growing older seems like life should focus on building, not destroying.  At least I’m still young enough not to know for sure.

Veering towards guarded optimism, the events that sunk few elevated many.  While an invisible loss will always be felt, it is the gain of trust and respect for those who are truly golden that remains my focus.  Those who were great have become majestic.  Those who were dubious have disappeared.  Happenstance played no part in their positioning.  It was the fruit of their choices and I am ever respectful of that, however optimistic or pessimistic their process was.

Things that had to pass did and I feel like an exhausted version of tidy.  Maybe exhausted is the wrong term.  There is a sense of exorcism permeating my world.  I didn’t know I needed to purge, but apparently I did and I feel better for it.

This is an elongated process of therapy and I will take every little morsel of thought and try to make it solid in hopes I can get to an instance before it again becomes a situation.


Surf Solar and Purple Nepal…

March 20, 2010

It’s at that time of night where the early birds are in bed, but the night owls are still out and about, leaving me alone.  Ah, the soothing tones of the Whitest Boy Alive and their secretly the best album every Rules.  I’ve got a nice shuffle going on my iPod right now that started a while ago, but when Fuck Buttons Surf Solar came up, well, I figured it was time for a smoke and some writing.  Fuck Buttons do that to me.  So, here I am, treating this blog like a friend who is going to keep my company in between Ryan’s visits and Jodie coming home from work.

So, I just got a baby friend request from my newest great-nephew, Alexander.  I am suddenly awash with sadness that I live so far away from most of my family.  Sure, I do live closer to my mom and dad then anyone on earth that doesn’t also live with their parents, but my sisters, nieces, and nephews are all in Michigan (with Amanda being in school in Wisconsin).  Gosh, and then Moby’s Scream Pilots comes on and I feel both sadder and happier.  My life is so tied down right now because I am doing what I believe I have to in order to achieve the position I want in life.  This is no easy process, nor would I expect it to be.  I spend all my energy on the things needed to become the person I want to be and I never makes plans to go on vacation or visit with the ones I love.

I know that my journey will ultimately lead me to exactly where I want to be and that some day (very soon, actually) I will be allowed to do as I please and takes those trips and vacations and visit with my family for extended periods of time.  I won’t be retired, but I will have a little more wiggle room with the perspective that constantly keeps me moving forward with my head down.  I’m such a hermit.  It’s going to happen when your loves are writing, making music, watching movies, listening to music, and all other sorts of things that bind me to the floor.  Hahaha, I just inadvertently quoted myself…what a tool.

Enough about all that noise because Bobby Womack is going to town on Stylo.  Man, this song is a devastator!  Seriously.  “Sometimes it’s hard!”  Speaking of, I completed my 5th day of P90X today and I’m feeling great.  I’ve lost 3 pounds in 5 days, which is kind of astonishing considering the amount of muscle I have to be building from these workouts.  I have Kenpo X tomorrow.  Jesus, I’m not even ready to know what that means.  Ninja stuff?  Who knows?  But I’ll tell you what, I will have done it by this time tomorrow night, so what it is barely matters. I’ve also noticed that my mental outlook has been much better since I’ve started this week as well.  The fact that I got a call from the coast saying the Elvis biopic I co-wrote is moving forward and another call from Vir Unis that the Realpolitik demo is in his hands didn’t hurt, I’m sure.  I hope both of those things work out the way they should.  They would be game changers for sure!

Enough about that business!  I fear I’ve said too much! Pantha Du Princes is telling me that some things are better without words. I’ve eaten so well today that it makes me feel clean.  Is that weird?  I wonder if I could do  chin up.  Let’s see. Not even close!  But I’m working on getting there.

What a randomly unfocused blog…but that’s just who I am and where I’m at right now.  A few short months from thirty!


March 14, 2010