Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tell Mommy To Stop Talking

I'm at a loss thinking of a movie featuring a psychotic mother character. I know there are tons, but, right now, I can't remember one. What I can do, though, is nominate Patti Santangelo to star in whatever next one is made.

If you remember, about two weeks back I wrote right on this here blog about Michelle Santangelo and how the courts ruled against her, forcing her to pay thousands of dollars to the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading music.

As I wrote then, the RIAA originally sued Patti, the mother of Michelle and Robert, but then realized the kids were the ones who actually did the downloading. The courts ruled against Michelle, but had yet to decide on Robert, who was as young as 11 when the alleged crimes happened.

Patti went on national TV, talked to any media member who would listen and generally spewed nonsense in papers, magazines, shows and more. She blamed the RIAA. How could her precious little children be at fault? Why should they take responsibility for doing something illegal?

The RIAA, which, as many of you know, does a lot of crappy and dumb things. Suing individuals is probably the worst strategy; you're going to alienate your potential consumer base. Spend the money on developing software that fixes the problem. But still, it's well within the organization's rights to sue thieves. After all, Target can sue anyone who steals merchandise from its stores. And this is no different.

So the RIAA attempted to settle its lawsuits amicably, making the family pay a hefty, but not unreasonable fine. Well, Mommy Patti would hear none of it; her children did nothing wrong! So it went to court and Michelle got hit with a huge fine.

Now Patti (er, Robert) strikes back. From the AP today:

Robert Santangelo and his lawyer, Jordan Glass, responded at length Tuesday, raising 32 defenses, demanding a jury trial and filing a counterclaim against the companies that accuses them of damaging the boy's reputation, distracting him from school and costing him legal fees.
His defenses to the industry's lawsuit include that he never sent copyrighted music to others, that the recording companies promoted file sharing before turning against it, that average computer users were never warned that it was illegal, that the statute of limitations has passed, and that all the music claimed to have been downloaded was actually owned by his sister on store-bought CDs.

Robert Santangelo also claims that the record companies, which have filed more than 18,000 piracy lawsuits in federal courts, "have engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to defraud the courts of the United States."
So let's take this ridiculousness a paragraph at a time. Damaging the boy's reputation and distracting him from school? Well, wouldn't that have not happened if the family just paid the damn fine! I seriously doubt other middle-school kids really taunt him, also. "Oh, look, there's goes little Bobby; he stole Michael Jackson songs!" Come on.
My favorite part is that these morons keep claiming they were never warned downloading songs was illegal. First, it's common sense. Second, this argument may have worked in, say, 1998. Not today, not in the 21st century when court battles have raged and the issue has become front-page news.
Not to mention, all downloading software makes you click on a box that says you aren't going to grab copyrighted material. Of course, everyone still does, but the warning is there. If you can try and claim you didn't know it all was illegal, you're just admitting that you're a moron — plain and simple.
Lastly, who's abusing the court system? You're suing the RIAA because it sued you for theft. You did it; you admit it. And do not, do not, tell me Big Sis already had these songs on purchased CDs. I know everyone I know goes out and downloads less-than-perfect versions of songs they already have on CD every day. Of course.
What can you say to that kind of defense? Well, here's what I would say: You're stupid, not us. Don't try to insult us with flimsy, idiotic defenses. More importantly, Robert, tell your mom to leave you alone and pay the fine. Then maybe all those bullies would stop harassing you about downloading Hanson songs.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Get Arrested

Well, it's official: Legendary rock trio The Police will reunite at this year's Grammy Awards, going down Feb. 11.

This actually means the irrelevant event will be relevant for a couple fleeting minutes.

Rumors have been flying around about Sting, Stewart and Andy reuniting for a month or so now, but now we've got a date. How much longer till we hear about the reunion tour?

Barring a huge meltdown between members (which is very possible considering the animosity between them), you know a tour is coming. People like this don't secretly practice for weeks just to play the Grammys and celebrate "Roxanne's" 30th anniversary. They just don't. Money is in the air, and the band will soon announce at least a few big gigs.

I've been getting a ton of e-mails about The Police over the last few days, many wondering if a tour was already scheduled and if the band would come to Connecticut. Well, nothing's been announced, but I'm laying my money on no Nutmeg State stops. I bet this is a quick jaunt, one only hitting major markets.

But, hey, we can carpool to New York together. Right?

New Music Tuesday

After recovering from last week's onslaught of four-star albums, we're back to normal, with a batch of OK, but not great discs hitting stores today.

Here's a look at the most significant new releases of the week. As always, you can read full reviews of these records in Friday's Weekend.

Norah Jones"Not Too Late"
Blue Note
two stars

Katharine McPhee"Katharine McPhee"
two-and-a-half stars

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah"Some Loud Thunder"
three stars

Lily Allen"Alright, Still"
one-and-a-half stars

Alkaline Trio"Remains"
two-and-a-half stars

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Beer and Rock

Nothing goes together like a good beer and a good rock show. You know you feel the same way. It's one of the few things we can all agree on.

So why waste a blog entry stating the obvious? Well, you see, I'm not wasting anything. One of the Elm City's best bands, The Tires, will perform at one of the area's most underrated venues: New England Brewery.

The little micro-brewery on Selden Street in Woodbridge holds open houses from 6-9 p.m. on about one Friday a month. And tomorrow, The Tires will perform. For $5, you get to see a great band and drink some great brews, including my personal favorite: Sea Hag IPA.

While the rollicking alt-country group performs, you can take a tour of the brewery, see how the brews are made and have some free samples of all the different kinds of beer New England Brewing produces.

So, like I said, beer and rock. If that doesn't sound like a good idea, I have no idea how to reach you. None.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New Releases

What a week this is for new CDs. Without delaying any, here's the albums in stores as of Tuesday that you want to go pick up.

Oh, and yeah, besides being able to buy good music, you can also finally get John Mellencamp's kick-butt commercial tune, "Our Country." Haven't we all been waiting for that trite, jingoistic little ditty?
The Shins"Wincing the Night Away"
Sub Pop
four stars
The Broken West"I Can't Go On, I'll Go On"
four stars (as you can tell by me using this photo, this CD is the best I've heard in a long while)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Good Read

Over the last five or six days, I've been totally absorbed with a certain book, enough to highly recommend it.

"DisneyWar" chronicles the ups and downs of former Walt Disney Corporation CEO Michael Eisner, the way he goes from creative genius to ruthless dictator. And over 500 or so pages, author James B. Stewart uses an amazing amount of primary sources and interviews to tell the story of the downfall of the Machiavellian CEO.

This book's been sitting around my apartment for over a year now, one of the many stacked on cases that I've been planning to read for a while. It finally got to the top of the stack and, man, I wish I got to it sooner.

For a thick tome, this is a very quick read, with Stewart really understanding how tell a great story. It should really be of interest to anyone taken with the entertainment industry, with the way deals get made or broken. Also, folks interested in corporate governance, especially after the last few years, should enjoy "DisneyWar."
It reads like a flick that Disney should make some day ....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Get What They Deserve

According to the AP, the recording industry won its case against Michelle Santangelo, which orders the 20-year-old woman to pay $750 for each of the 41 songs she supposedly downloaded illegally. Basically, this young lady most likely will be taking $30,000 out of her purse for about four records worth of songs.

Now, if you are frequent reader of mine, you know that I'm totally against the RIAA targeting individuals for downloading suits. This really just makes people hate the industry more than they already do. I still think the RIAA should be spending these legal funds on technology that makes it more difficult for folks to get a hold of illegal music, or makes it easier to track the source of the music leak.

With that said, if you followed the Santangelo case at all, you know this girl got what she deserved, thanks to her mom. You see, the RIAA originally targeted her mother, but then Patricia Santangelo took that very personally and went on a crusade to bash the industry and say that it's basically OK for her kids to do whatever they want. It's the Internet's fault, she proclaimed to anyone who would listen.

I'm sick of people taking this stance, just plain sick of it. At the beginning of these suits, almost a decade ago now, people could claim that they didn't know what they were doing was illegal. This is not the case now. That 20-year-old woman knew she was illegally stealing music. And if she didn't, she's a moron. An idiot who should be sued for more cash just for being dumb.

It's this simple: Steal music all you want, but know that the RIAA could strike at any moment. And when they offer you a reasonable settlement, like they did with Santangelo, don't jump on your high horse and claim what you did was OK. You wouldn't want me breaking into your house and stealing your stuff, would you? You wouldn't want to work a 40-hour week and then not get paid fully? This is the essence of illegal downloading.

I'm done now. The Internet is a great tool for spreading music, and many artists put songs up to download freely. If they don't, that means they want you buying it. You have no right to steal it.

Open your wallet or don't listen.

And just think, if you break the law, you may end up having to pay $30,000 for "MMMBop" and "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)," just like Michelle. She should be fined just for downloading those two tunes.

New Music Tuesday

OK, I know I'm a day late (and probably a dollar short, too), but here are this week's new releases, which are really just a delicious appetizer before next week's multi-course meal.

You see, next Tuesday, music fans should be skipping school and work to get their bums to a store to buy at least three very, very good discs. Not that I condone skipping anything, though ...

But enough, here are the four biggest (and this is very subjective) releases of this week, all of which are reviewed in Friday's Weekend.

America"Here & Now"
three stars

Roxette"A Collection Of Roxette Hits: Their 20 Greatest Songs"
two-and-a-half stars

Crowded House"Farewell to the World"
three stars

Stars of Track And Field"Centuries Before Love And War"
three stars

Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting Golden

For the first time since I can remember, the Golden Globes takes place on a night other than Sunday. The foreign press will give out its trophies tonight, many hopefully going to "Borat."

What's interesting about the switch from Sunday to Monday is the reason. I don't think the Globes or the network ever came out and said this, but the shift is clearly because the majority of viewers are women. And women watch "Desperate Housewives" on Sunday (and, last year, "Grey's Anatomy," too). You would think a once-a-year event would trump a weekly soap opera, but apparently it does not, so the Globes got the hell out of the way.

With that said, the show goes down at 8 tonight on NBC. It should be interesting, given that the Globes is usually a good precursor to the Oscars. Hopefully, "Babel" gets shut out. Look for my diary of the show in Friday's Weekend.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

NFL Picks

We are only about two hours away from the opening kickoff to this weekend's NFL playoff games. Last week, I posted my picks on Friday, but, this week, I just can't seem to decide on one game.

I've had many a sleepless night trying to come up with these picks. I've bit my pillow, cried in the corner ... you name it, I've done it while trying to come up with these predictions. After all, I have a lot to live up to after going 4-0 during the Wild Card round.

Well, here we go with the Divisional playoffs. Here are my picks:

Things will get started with Colts at Ravens in a mere 120 minutes or so. The Raven defense should be able to contain Peyton Manning and Colt O pretty well. And even though the Raven offense is unbelievably overrated, they will be better coached than the Chiefs (who isn't?). With that said, Steve McNair has had one good year in his entire career and fumbles like crazy. The Ravens will hold the Colt offense, but not enough, since the Baltimore O won't score enough.

Pick: Colts 24-13

With Eagles and Saints, nobody will stop anybody. This should be a high-scoring affair. And let's be serious: Philly struggled to score against a poor Giants defense last week. And Garcia sure didn't look great until the end of the game. Take Drew Brees here. Saints win.

Pick: Saints 34-17

The second NFC game features two teams who have looked like crap over the last couple months: The Bears and the Seahawks. But there is a difference. Rex Grossman has been bad and the Chicago D looks tired and injured, but until the last game of the season, the team kept winning. The Seahawks haven't been winning. And how awful did the team look against Dallas? Shawn Alexander actually looks hurt still, and without him, this team can't win.

Pick: Bears 27-6

Here's where it gets tough. My heart picks the Patriots and my brain says San Diego. I don't know. I'm taking San Diego for one major reason: Chris Baker of the Jets went crazy in the second half against the Pats D. So even if NE takes away LT, Antonio Gates should have a field day against a weak linebacker core for the Pats.

Pick: Chargers 31-21.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Head to the Nine

If you saw Phil Beach's Making a Mix in last Friday's Weekend, then you know this guy has some good taste, from the Old 97's to Uncle Tupelo, from the Gin Blossoms to R.E.M.

Thinking about those groups, it should be obvious that Beach's band, Veloray, plays alt country. Good alt country. I saw Veloray open for Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (the best live band in America) sometime during the summer of 2005, and let's just say Veloray held its own. It was a great show at a great venue (the criminally under-used Red Door in Watertown).
Tonight is your chance to see Veloray around here. The band plays Cafe Nine with Eric Royer. See for yourself what a good local alt-country band sounds like.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Kick in the Shins

For the last three months, buzz has been consistently building for the release of indie darlings The Shins' third record, "Wincing the Night Away," which hits stores Jan. 23.

SubPop sent me a CD single sometime in November that featured the killer first single, "Phantom Limb," along with two B-sides. By just listening to "Phantom Limb," I knew this record would live up to the hype. Well, the whole album dropped into my mailbin a couple days ago, and let's just say it hasn't left my CD player yet.

"Wincing" is definitely one of the most highly anticipated records of 2007, and I'll just say one thing to all you Shins fans out there: Get excited. Get every excited.

I'll publish a full review in Weekend Jan. 26, but just know that it's very rare that a band can grow as much as The Shins do on this disc, while still maintaining the core qualities that made the group special originally. This is a BIG record, but one that Natalie Portman would say "will change your life."

Between The Shins and The Broken West, two four-star discs will be available Jan. 23. Get them both and take the next day off from work and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Music Tuesday

OK, thank God the holiday season is over. We can finally get back to listening to new CDs.

You see, late December and early January are the deadest parts of the year for music releases; it's a time when no labels want to put out discs because folks have spent their cash on the holidays.

So while there aren't a ton of releases this week, we do have a few and we're getting closer to Jan. 23; that's the day when a ton of really great and hotly expected albums hit the street.

Here are the most significant CDs from this week. All will be reviewed in length in Friday's Weekend, which will also include tidbits on Bryan Adams, "Pan's Labrynth," The Blue Turtle in Milford and more. We also have Kori Gardner from Mates of State taking her turn in the mixtape seat. Here are the CDs:

Neko Case"Live in Austin, TX"
New West
three-and-a-half stars

Johnny Cash"Live in Austin, TX"
New West
three stars

Erin McKeown"Sing You Sinners"
three-and-a-half stars

Ron Sexsmith"Time Being"
Warner Bros.
three stars

Friday, January 05, 2007

NFL Picks

As we all get ready to start this NFL weekend with a trip to Cafe Nine tonight to see two of the best Connecticut bands out there (Quiet Life and Call It Arson), I thought I would try to make my poor showing at prognosticating the baseball playoffs a memory by nailing this weekend's NFL games.

It all gets started Saturday afternoon with the Chiefs at the Colts. I know a lot of people think this is the worst matchup Peyton and company could get because Indy can't stop the run and that's all KC can do. But here's the thing: The Chiefs won't be able to stop the Colts, either. And, oh yeah, Herm Edwards is awful coach who has abused Larry Johnson like a rented mule this season. It says here LJ doesn't have much left, but does gain 140 yards Saturday. At some point, though, KC will fall behind and have to throw the football. The team can't.

PICK: Colts 34-17

Any team can come out of the NFC this season, any team besides maybe the Giants. The awful conference begins its playoffs with Dallas at Seattle Saturday night. I know the Cowboys play better on the road, but Seattle has one of only two true homefield advantages (KC the other) left in football. I think the Hawks exploit the especially porous secondary of Dallas. Definitely take the over on this game, but Seattle wins.

PICK: Seahawks 35-24

One thing people are forgetting about the two New England-Jets games from earlier this season: The first game started with the Pats winning 24-0, then playing prevent defense. The second game was played in the mud, with the Pats without Ty Warren and with Richard Seymour playing out of position and with one hand. NE's strength is its D-line, so these were big problems. Also, keep in mind that NE's D is getting overlooked this year; the team let up the second-least points in the league, only 26 more than the Ravens. The Pats win easier than a lot of folks think.

PICK: Pats 27-13

The play-calling in the Giants game last week is getting way overblown. Of course you run Tiki when nobody can tackle him. The Eagles have kept Tiki under 100 yards in two games this year, that should make the play-calling very different this week. Also, on third and 10, looking to end the game late in the fourth and keep the ball away from the Skins, the Giants called a run. It was stopped, and NY's defense was lucky to stop the Skins from tying the game. That kind of mindset, playing not to lose and hiding Eli Manning, will hurt this team Sunday. The Giants D looked awful last week; it couldn't stop a bad offensive team. The Eagles are playing too good right now.

PICK: Eagles 30-21

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pat On The Radio

OK, so I know that you guys can't get enough of reading my prose on paper and the Web, the wonderful poetry that I consistently publish.

Well, if you want to hear the words come straight from my mouth, you have two chances in the next couple days. I'll be on the radio twice discussing my best local songs of 2006.

First, if you're around a radio at 5 p.m. tonight, I'll be a guest on Rob DeRosa's "Homegrown" show. The program airs on 88.1 FM out of Middletown. If you can't get the station on your dial or want to listen online, head over to

If winding down your weekend with me sounds like a good idea, listen to 99.1 WPLR and James Velvet and Rick Allison's long-running "Local Bands Show." The program begins at 10 p.m.
Now, while it's great that I'll be guesting on both of these shows, there's no reason not to tune in to them every week and get your fill of local music. Both shows are great tools to stay updated on the music scene. And, by the way, Rob, James and Rick are all great guys, too. That helps.

Editors note: I'm only publishing my photo so I can use it as my profile pic. Really.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Not Unlike 2006

We've been seeing Hollywood pump out stale crap for a long time. But it seemed like 2006 was unparalleled in terms of remakes and sequels. Well, get ready for 2007.

For those of you who like your films original, there will definitely be some weeks in 2007 when you'll be staying home, maybe watching an old copy of "Being John Malkovich" and bellowing about the good old days of 1999.

Here's a list of sequels on the release table for 2007. Someone's gotta be eating these up for them to keep making them, right?
  • "28 Weeks Later" (May 18)

  • "Alien vs. Predator: AVP2" (Dec. 10)

  • "Are We Done Yet?" (April 6) — That Ice-T movie. You didn't even know that, did you?

  • "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Aug. 3)

  • "Evan Almighty" (June 22)

  • "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (June 15)

  • "Halloween" (Aug. 31) — With rocker Rob Zombie behind the camera.

  • "Hannibal Rising" (Feb. 9) — Yep, they're ruining a once-great legacy.

  • "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (July 13)

  • "The Hills Have Eyes II" (March 2)

  • "Hostel 2" (June 8)

  • "Live Free or Die Hard" (June 29)

  • "Mr. Bean’s Holiday" (Sept. 28)

  • "Ocean’s 13" (June 8)

  • "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" (May 25)

  • "Resident Evil: Extinction" (Sept. 21)

  • "Rush Hour 3" (Aug. 10)

  • "Saw IV" (Oct. 26)

  • "Shrek the Third" (May 18)

  • "Spider-Man 3" (May 4)

  • "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (March 23) — Can you believe they're touching this franchise again? Look at the photo. Changes.

  • "Transformers" (July 4)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Ones That Didn't Make The Cut

I'm sure you all gasped, awed, yelled and screamed for joy while reading my top-2o CDs of 2006 story in Friday's Weekend. It's my favorite article to write, and judging by the amount of e-mail I get about it, I think it's your favorite to read.

Anyway, I promised a list of the other 12 discs that I really loved this year; the ones that I really beat myself up over not including. Here we go:

21. Call It Arson — "Animal Strings"
An amazing record by this New Haven-based band (which plays at Cafe Nine Friday), one that was a huge jump forward from its debut disc. I still can't stop listening to it. If I had to place a bet on any local band getting huge (record deals, etc.) in 2007, my cash would be on Call It Arson.

22. Bob Dylan — "Modern Times"
Let's face it, almost all Dylan records are amazing. "Modern Times" sounds great, but just lacks that something that the last two Dylan discs have.

23. Flaming Lips — "At War With The Mystics"
It took me a month or so to really get into this disc. It's always more difficult to judge one of your favorite bands objectively. At first, I thought "At War With The Mystics" was good, but hardly one of the Lips' best records. With repeated listens, the album's beauty came out. It ain't "The Soft Bulletin," but what is?

24. The Pernice Brothers — "Live A Little"
Producer Michael Deming returns to the fold for The Pernice Brothers' "Live A Little," and it really helps. This disc is pure pop perfection. "Somerville" is one of my favorite tunes of the year, easily.

25. Yo La Tengo — "I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass"
The reason this album didn't make the top 20 is because of its length, which is just way too long. It runs almost 80 minutes, about 35 minutes more than it needs. If YLT cut the fat, the band would have made the best record of its storied career.

26. The Elected — "Sun, Sun, Sun"
This Rilo Kiley side project's debut disc found guitarist Blake Sennett creating electro-country, but on "Sun, Sun, Sun," the songwriter and his merry bunch of musicians turn into a true California band, one in the same vein as The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Poco.

27. My Chemical Romance — "The Black Parade"
I might never listen to this record again, but My Chemical Romance actually made a great disc. Think Meat Loaf on steroids. This should have been "Bat Out Of Hell III."

28. Pearl Jam — "Pearl Jam"
A fine return to form from a band that's been making very good, but not cohesive discs for the last decade. This one torches from beginning to end.

29. Belle & Sebastian — "The Life Pursuit"
No longer making traditional chamber pop, Scotland's Belle & Sebastian is now a full-blown pop band. "The Life Pursuit" is a timeless collection of "Walk Away Renee"-like bubblegum.

30. Drive-by Truckers — A Blessing And A Curse
The band's first economical record in a few years, the Drive-by Truckers continues making great records, one after another. And while I usually love shorter discs, this 45-minute CD lacks something that the band's previous, longer albums boast: a cohesive theme. It's still damn good, though.

31. Ray Davies — "Other People's Lives"
The constantly under-appreciated Kinks leader makes a fine return on this disc. There's a little Kinks here, a little country there, but mostly "Other People's Lives" should just be classified as good music.

32. Neil Young — "Living With War"
Recorded and written in only a few days, Neil Young has created a rocking snapshot of 2006's political climate. This is his most immediate set of tunes in a long while.