Sunday, December 19, 2010

Block Party

Good Lazy System, Forever Changes
Dives of North Loop, 12/16

Our friend Ariel is one of those people who just belongs in bands. You can tell by the way he can't stand still while he's playing or even waiting to play, eyes full of anticipation and body crackling with potential energy. Every time we see him he talks about his latest project with the fervor of a politician campaigning. He's also one of the only people I know who reads everything I write. I hope it helps him in finding what he's looking for musically. Like a lot of young musicians I know, he tends to shift from band to band, instrument to instrument, sound to sound restlessly looking for the right fit. I would encourage him to continue working with his colleagues in Good Lazy System.

They're not awesome yet, but at their show Thursday at the North Loop Parlor the System demonstrated that they have the potential to grow into a good band. The mistakes they made are the ones nearly everybody makes at first. They took forever to set up and they goofed around way too much before starting the music proper (including an endless, sloppy opening cover that was bad enough to make me half consider leaving). They don't quite have mastery of their equipment yet. They had tuners, but they weren't quite sure how they worked. And they really need to spend some time working out the right EQ for their bass and two guitar amps. Although they were impressively tight for a three-month-old band, they didn't sound good at all... the bass sounded muddy, kick drum was completely inaudible, and the thin, trebly guitars lacked the bite they needed to give their rocking moments gut-punching force. The best prescription for this is to play lots more shows.

Getting instruments to sound right is elementary compared to writing good songs to play on them, and that's where I feel Good Lazy System have a leg up. Their sound has elements of late 80's-early 90's punk, particularly the upbeat-conscious, ska-influenced side of The Clash and its followers like Rancid or Op Ivy. That's blended with a bid of florid Manchester romanticism held over from singer/guitarist Ariel's last project, Consider Me Spilled. Despite the blend of punk and (Brit-) pop, they're not punk/pop. They tend to yell rather than sing when the tempos get fast, and their bassist balances the prettier singing with some rap-inflected hardcore hectoring.

I was impressed by how far they had come with their arrangements... the guitars didn't play in unison, and they varied the instrumental mix. Some local bands never figure out that doing stuff like pausing together, having the guitars and bass lay out in turn, and linking together changes with riffs or variations not only makes your music more interesting, but it also demonstrates to people who know how to listen that you've actually practiced and done the difficult, sometimes contentious group work of hashing out the details. That's why I have high hopes for Good Lazy System. They know how to work together, and how to creatively blend their different points of view. Next they maybe need a sound guy... and for the rest of the band to take a cue from Ariel's high activity level on stage. It was easy to tell that some members of the band were more comfortable being the center of attention than others. Ariel did a power slide, the "walk into the audience while soloing" move, and took off his jacket dramatically (for the ladies). On the other hand the second guitar player made only one facial expression the whole show, and that was during his sleigh bell solo... "Oh, no, now people are looking at me!"

Earlier in the day but just a few strides down the block Austin's own Love tribute Forever Changes played about half a set in front of the food trailer Counter Culture before the police arrived to tell them that, sorry, but playing in a parking lot on a weekday night half a block from a residential neighborhood is a bad idea. I guess I should go see them again since they didn't get to finish and they were playing without their usual second guitarist. I kind of liked them as a trio, though. I've written before about how the challenge for cover bands is pleasing hardcore fans of the original material while still having enough personal style to make the music their own. The garage-band approach to the famously orchestrated Love is a winning one, I think. I liked the way their singer/guitarist abstracted melodically packed instrumental breaks into winningly simple solos. The bass player's ability to carry the songs while the guitar player did his thing showed both dedication to the material on his part and the timeless quality of Arthur Lee's songs, which have simple changes but sophisticated structure. (Listening to Forever Changes reminded me more than anything of The Sour Notes. I'm going to have to ask Jared if he's a Love fan the next time I see him.)

Forever Changes has a great drummer, too. The drumming on 60's rock records is really challenging to approach if you grew up listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Drummers back then didn't have half a century's worth of rock texts to crib from, so they took cues from jazz, theater, easy listening, and elsewhere. Run-of-the-mill cover bands often get the guitars and the singing just right but end up sounding totally wrong because of the drummer. (I've never heard a single band in Austin get the Stones right because the drummers always play on the beat instead of behind it the way Charlie Watts does.) Forever Changes, although they could have picked a less obvious name, has both the creative spirit and the annoying details figured out to do Love justice. Obsessive fans (and to the best of my knowledge Love has no fans who aren't obsessive) will be well pleased.


  1. I honestly don't understand the goal of these kinds of reviews. One of the great things about Austin is that it supports its local musicians. No one walks into Haam or Sims and is expected to provide proof of excellent song writing. Even though a band may technically get a bad review, it doesn't mean the authors can't provide good quotes if it supports the community. If you want to really help Austin musicians, then please be honest, but also considerate.

    The point is not to censor, but rather to realize that public negativity is cancer. Even if your critiques are true, you've left a mark on internet where everyone can come find out when a band was terrible. They may become great and yet lose out on a fan b/c they heard somewhere they sucked live and it was through this very blog. Instead of connecting fans to musicians, you are actively promoting people to not show up.

    You seem to really care about these artists and in all honesty, your critiques of their music may not be far off. It might also be important for bands to hear your honest perspective. My issue is that you shouldn't do it in a public arena. There is a reason most music bloggers don't post negative reviews and I believe is for this very reason. No one wants to be the one with their foot in their mouths when they say someone is terrible, and yet they find success. Likewise, no one wants to disassociate with a bands fans. In the quest for eyeballs it doesn't make sense to make enemies. These selfish reasons aside, as a member of the Austin community, we should as a group make clear our solidarity in public. That doesn't mean private comments wouldn't be well received, but rather to the rest of the world, we are one community who benefit from the collective instead of a group of people whining. That doesn't mean promoting horrible bands, simply that the good ones are the those who will get the attention.

    And yes, I do realize this public comment is rather hypocritical and that is the point. I could have very easily sent a private email describing my frustration in hopes you would change, but hopefully this public comment helps to make the point clear. For example, if I were to "honestly" review your blog, "Western Homes writes as though he has attained the stature for others to care about his criticisms, even though all signs point to he is a nobody that is more than likely a failure." While this is something of an honest statement, it is rude and I apologize. Yet beneath the scorn, there is a real suggestion that if you are to critique, at least provide some reasoning why your opinions matter. Do you play in a successful band? Are you a famous producer? Did you run a label, club or record store? I like the stones too, but that doesn't mean I'm qualified to say why a band does a cover poorly.

    Again, my anonymity is completely intentional. Who am I to be critiquing the critic? As far as you are concerned, no one. Fortunately, I'd hope others can easily look past this comment in the future. As you most likely hope bands take your honesty to heart as constructive criticism, I'd hope you do the same.

    Please continue your honesty. I encourage you to consider private discourse with bands to help them improve while making an effort to praise the praiseworthy and leave the pointed negativity to random comments that no one really pays attention to.

  2. I really appreciate that someone took the time to write all that! I could write a whole book in response (I plan to) but this isn't the time or place. Basically:

    1) If everyone tells a band they're great when they're not, then they fail to achieve the success they believe they deserve, they have a tendency to grow bitter and blame the rest of the world. They might quit playing music; they might even quit LISTENING to music. That would suck. I would rather write something negative about a band that might actually help them to get better. I'm pretty sure I've never told anybody just to quit.

    2) It ISN'T necessarily the good bands that get the attention. Most other Austin blogs, if they cover local music at all, write about the bands that are pitched to them by shady independent promotions firms. It's a quid pro quo thing -- you write something nice about two or three of my little tiny bands, and I'll put you on the guest list for some famous band later. I don't care about famous bands. I may be biased, but my biases are out in the open. I explain why I like or dislike a band. Others are essentially getting paid off to paraphrase press releases, and that's terribly unfair to the many bands out there that don't have the money to hire a big-name publicist. I'm trying to promote a different kind of approach to local music, one that concentrates on recognizing bands that put the most effort into it instead of merely rewarding those who effectively assess and imitate current trends. I want it to really mean something when I write an entirely positive review. If I only wrote about Austin bands I completely loved, this site would be all Zorch, Opposite Day, and The Gary all the time.

    3) Why does it matter who I am or how successful I have been? I'm a good writer and I'm a great listener. Bands continue to send me records in the mail and invite me to their shows even though it's a distinct possibility I might write negative things about them. There's no such thing as bad press. There is no other outlet in Austin, as far as I am aware, that GUARANTEES it will write about every local band that asks for it.

    4) I'm not anonymous. I'm at local shows all the time. "Western Homes" isn't an alias, it's actually what everybody calls me... or, well, Westy for short. Anna C. and I spend every last moment of spare time we have and what little money we've got going to local shows. Ultimately it doesn't matter what you say, it matters what you do.

  3. Anonymous--

    A music journalist is not a "PR Quote Machine". They should write what they feel honestly and let the musicians and fans deal with it.

    Westy's the hardest working music journalist in town, going out to see shows most nights in a week and writing about them sincerely so you can evaluate what he says however you like.

    He's written about a number of bands where the first time he saw them, he wrote they didn't have a good sound mix or weren't very tight on their instruments--later to follow up about another show where they had clearly practiced more, or improved their showmanship, and so on.

    He gives bands props for improving and you can believe it, because he's not going to just write "This band is the greatest" when they suck just so that can get a pull quote for their website.

    The whole "What have you ever done?" line of attack is fucking lame, man. The only movie Roger Ebert's ever been involved in is "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls", but he's a good, thoughtful writer. Reviewing is WHAT HE DOES.

    It also just so happens that Westy has a terrific band and if you'd followed this blog with any care you might have seen them and been impressed.

    As you yourself note, it's pretty stupid to write this kind of attack anonymously, and just saying "That's the whole point" doesn't really mean anything. It just means you were too chicken to put your real name behind your words.

    The whole point of being honest in blogs OR in comments like this is to build trust and accountability, something Westy has done in a massive way over the year plus that he's been reviewing live music here in Austin.

    There definitely IS a live music community in Austin, and I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Westy is helping it grow and become stronger about a hundred thousand million times more than you are with your snide anonymous attack comments.


    P.S. Feel free to come follow up in person at Nerdwave Showcase II, at Trailer Space records on January 14. Westy's band The Bell Riots will be playing, along with Cocker Spaniels, another act Westy has promoted tirelessly. World Racketeering Squad will also be playing :)

  4. a. The 'honest' review of the blogger isn't analogous to Western Homes' criticism of bands; WH isn't saying bands aren't great because of their pretensions, their lack of historical back catalog, etc. He is saying they aren't great because the drummer can't count to 4, the guitarist can't tune his instrument, or the primary songwriters keep cranking out the same chord structures over and over and over again. There's a recognizable difference here.

    b. Almost all scathing criticisms of critics fall apart when someone resorts to the 'Have you ever been in a band?' quip. It's a crutch, because everyone knows you don't have to know how to play guitar to know that a guitarist is out of tune, the songs are boring, or the band hasn't practiced enough. If there was some prerequisite to being a critic, then basically the only people allowed to write criticisms would be Bono, Ahmet Ertegun, and Phil Spector.

    c. Anyone who is in a band (or a blogger for that matter) puts themselves out 'there' for this. Folks in bands and folks with keyboards are explicitly asking to be told they suck at something. That's a fact and everyone in a band has already accepted it.. or moved on to something less divisive, like water color painting.

    d. If a critic is giving good reviews because he is afraid of looking bad in hindsight when a band becomes famous, that's absurd. If that was anyones' real MO in the music world, there would be zero unsigned bands and only 5 star reviews in Rolling Stone. That's not reality and we all know it.

  5. Not saying Westy has achieved Pitchfork status [yet? ;)] but critiques aren't always good. Such is life Anon.

    The Pitchfork Effect - How a tiny web outfit became the most influential tastemaker on the music scene.

    "Pitchfork, meanwhile, was becoming famous in its own right. As Schreiber and his tiny staff built a repository of defiantly passionate and frustratingly capricious reviews, they were insinuating themselves into the grand tradition of rock criticism, joining the ranks of imperious and opinionated writers who could, with a single phrase, turn readers on to an exciting new performer (recall Jon Landau's 1974 pronouncement in the Real Paper: "I saw rock & roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen") or compel them to reassess the work of an established master (see Greil Marcus' take on Bob Dylan's album Self Portrait: "What is this shit?"). Pitchfork has appropriated the aura of integrity and authenticity that made such pronouncements credible, even definitive, to fans."

    If that isn't enough... he actually says _why_ he doesn't like something in *detail* which is significantly better than saying "blah this is bad music poop, I like band xyz better".

    We don't get trophies for participating, we get them for winning. Not everyone can win but you can try until you do. Unless someone tells you where you're failing how can you fix it?

  6. So, ah, as the Bass Player referenced in the above review (the Good Lazy System part, at least), I took the review as a note that my sound was muddy. Frankly, we were delighted that the amount of work we've put into this thing is evident, and to have a suggestion for future thinking.
    We need to balance our sound. We sounded pretty crummy that night.
    We had tuning problems. We need to think about showmanship.
    See, though, those are things that can be fixed, and that we will fix. Good songs, though, if we didn't have 'em, that'd be much harder. And, yeah, we'll probably have to cut that opening cover out of the set. Such is life. MC900 is awesome, but not so awesome that my inability to be him will make me cry.
    It would probably be a lot easier for me to get mad about the review if it weren't full of actually-useful criticism written plainly, and a recognition of the work we've put in, not to mention full of things which are absolutely true. I was thrilled, myself. Ariel was thrilled. We're a thrilled bunch.
    We are guys who got reviewed. So it wasn't entirely positive. That's OK. We're big boys and we know we aren't perfect. If we thought we were above criticism, we wouldn't play music in public where people could have opinions about it.
    Westy is awesome, and we appreciate the review. We took it to heart and are moving forward. That's what a person should do, as I understand it.

  7. Damn right MC 900 is awesome! Y'all cover him? I want to see that!

  8. Ok, I barely made it through the anonymous comment at the top as it was way drawn out and boring. The general jist I got from it was that we as musicians in Austin should all support each other and not make negative comments in public settings? WRONG! If I think you suck and someone asks me about what I think of your band, I'm going to tell them you suck. If I think your good, then I'm going to tell them you are good. I support good, creative, original music. I don't support any Ahole that picks up a guitar and thinks he can play. Learn to deal with criticism. Furthermore, I highly doubt you are going to lose any fans because you got a negative music review on an obscure internet blog. I read this blog frequently, but I doubt it is to the point where is has hundreds of hits a day. Shit, I just read through the post and comments twice and I can't even remember the names of the bands that were reviewed on this post. Your reputation as a band is created by the consistency of your music, performance and word of mouth. Key word in the previous sentence is consistency.

  9. @Western

    First off thanks for approving my comment. You really didn't need to.

    1. My fear is not that bands would quit. The fear is that people avoid shows. I'm always amazed that Austin is able to support so many bands. If you are going to shows every night of the week, that is because of fans. That is what is dangerous about negative reviews.

    2. Totally agree that covering the uncovered is a good thing.

    3. The credentials are only required b/c of the type of criticism. Your comments do not paint a picture of the sounds, but instead provide a critique that is quantitative. For example, the discussion on the mix (kick drum, bass, etc.) is really not something descriptive. By commenting on this side of a performance, it makes me wonder what gives your statements credibility. It is like the difference between asking Gordon Ramsey or the working the Best Wurst stand about food. While both have valid opinions, michelen star chef probably has a deeper breadth of knowledge to comment, as proven by said stars.

    I should also say that proper criticism in music is really rare, not to mention extremely difficult. My point here is simply to clarify the kind of criticism you seem to be doing. I'll expand on the reasons why below in response to others comments.

    4. I totally agree. My point regarding your stature in terms of being a critic of things like amp tone and performance technique requires achievement (as I said above), which it is unclear at this point. Again, that doesn't mean you are wrong in your criticisms, but rather what you are writing about at times requires more expertise than you are sharing.

    By the way, if you do have a gold record or have played in successful bands, the "fix" for this is simply providing the info in your "about" section and make those qualifications known.

    Thanks again for responding and posting my initial comment.

  10. @Isaac

    I'm sincerely glad that you find Westy's reviews helpful and that you feel they are beneficial. In my opinion that is one person we know will still go to shows despite setting low expectations.

    I think it is naive to think that writers don't have other motives when writing about specific musicians. There is a reason that you see a trickle down effect from Stereogum/Pitchfork to most music blogs. The reason is that everyone is competing for the attention of others. Stereogum and Pitchfork both have proven themselves as attracting visitors, so why not follow their lead? This is not limited to reviewers, but permeates the entire music industry. This is obviously not ideal, but I don't believe the solution is in speaking negatively about local artists.

    I do commend authors for going outside the traditional hype machine, so no complaints here. Likewise, constructive criticism should always be appreciated. My point though is that by focusing on the negative aspects, even though you are being honest, doesn't help the scene and this blog by associating itself as a local Austin music blog takes on that responsibility.

    Personally, what I'd love to see is Westy to keep writing reviews and communicating what the songs and performances convey. I also think it would be extremely helpful if Westy took his valuable criticism regarding things like bass tone, drumming, mix, etc. and email the bands directly. That might sound like a terrible idea, but there is definitely room in this town for honesty between musicians and a private locale for that conversation might do a lot more for making realistic changes than posting negativity.

    Music communities where negativity is staple usually fail miserably. Austin has proven to do the opposite and found success. My idea is not to silence the criticism, but realize the impact outside of shouting truth considering it is the community that provides the stage for the discussion.

  11. @Marc

    The point regarding "you've never been in a band" is definitely correct. My point was that the criticism is pointed towards things a producer might say over a music critic. TV stations consistently consult the opinions of experts in the field to find deeper insights. This is the kind of criticism happening (the EQ was, the bass drum inaudible), which suggest a similar level of measureable expertise.


    I'm really glad that you took the criticism as constructive. My complaint is not that you'd have a bad reaction because you are correct, the criticism is reasonably constructive in terms of pointing out things you *might* need to improve. My real issue is that there people who have read the review that might skip seeing your band later b/c they are afraid of getting blown out by the bass. They will see your name in the chronicle and skip the show. If people don't come to your shows, you are screwed. The fans pay your way and provide a reason. If you don't want to be paid, they still provide the resources to buy drinks that give you a place to play. That is the problem with negative reviews within the scope of a local blog, you are not simply responsible for stating your mind, but being a part of the scene.

    It would be more effective to describe the sound instead of simply stating people were out of tune and "incorrect" EQ. It implies that there was something specifically "wrong". I've seen bands that were just plain old loud that had little melody, much less strong song writing. They were just loud. The idea is that they weren't "wrong", the perceived goal is that they wanted to be loud. The reader can decide whether or not that sounds appealing. Saying the EQ was set incorrectly suggests that it is not the listeners option, but the player's problem. You guys might really like muddy bass and angular tones, so it is unfair of a reviewer to suggest to people that you didn't know what you were doing.

    This may seem like a subtle difference, but it really is just good writing technique. Now, it is rare that other reviewers hold this kind of basic literary skill, but it doesn't negate the fact it still exists. The only reason it bothers me in this context is that there is a local component that we are all involved in. When the negativity could prevent fans from coming to shows I think it is a problem. If Pitchfork slams your band, better luck next time. A bad Pitchfork review is not going to effect the Austin music community and it doesn't have a responsibility to do so.

    I hope this clarification makes sense and it is understood to be constructive. Fans make music possible, and I think a critique on technical details of a show is not helpful in educating fans on whether or not a band is worth seeing.

  12. Like Marc said... everybody with a guitar or a laptop who puts their work out into public spaces must be prepared for criticism. Other than personal attacks, spam, and strings of vulgarities, I approve all of the comments. I don't take it personally when people rip my work, musical or critical or otherwise. Anybody who knows me is aware that I'm a pretty kind and thoughtful guy... I'm just honest and direct, possibly to a fault.

    A blog has to know its audience the same as a band. I know from experience that most of my repeat readership is musicians or others who are more involved with the Austin music scene... bookers, designers, audio engineers. I don't listen to music in terms of emotion. I'm not a very emotional person at all. Spock and Data are my soul brothers. I don't CARE what the songs and performances convey. If I tried to write that way, it would be dishonest.

    I don't expect people to completely agree with my point of view. I am hoping more that reading an opinion with a wildly different perspective will challenge listeners' assumptions and make them construct stronger arguments for why they hold their own opinions.

    I figure so long as I maintain a consistent style, people will know what my hangups are. One great thing about Roger Ebert (who is a huge influence of mine, I grew up in Chicago devouring the arts sections in the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Reader and adoring Ebert, Greg Kot, Jim DeRogatis, Bill Wyman) is that you can come away from an extremely negative review of his thinking, "Wow, Ebert hated that movie but from what he wrote I can tell that I would really like it." I hope that I describe bands' styles accurately enough that people will make their own informed decisions. I've NEVER said "Don't go see this band under any circumstances." In fact, I frequently say things along the lines of "I saw this band and hated them, but a lot of other people are excited about them so perhaps you should go and check them out and decide for yourself."

    The question I realize no one has addressed yet anywhere in these comments: Why criticize bands so in a public space? I have some thoughts about that. First of all, I don't think there's enough solidarity in the Austin original music community; or the "indie rock" branch anyway. I constantly come across local bands who 1) don't go to any local shows besides the ones they play themselves 2) don't have any friends in any other bands and 3) don't even pay attention to the other bands playing at their own shows. When I call them out on this they usually say something like, "Oh, there aren't any local bands playing the kind of music I like."

    That's awful! Austin musicians owe it to themselves and their "scene" to go out and support other bands that are in the same position as much as they possibly can. The argument I am trying to make with every post is that there is a lot to learn from each band in town, whatever their choice of style is, and whether they are excellent, mediocre, or terrible. I am not encouraging people not to go to shows. I am telling them to go to LOTS MORE shows, and to pay closer attention, and to give and get feedback from other bands. Being part of a community doesn't mean generically supporting everyone in it. That's not constructive engagement.

  13. Unless they have notoriety left over from an older project, no bands in Austin have "fans" when they first get started... they have friends, which isn't the same thing. Friends are going to support them no matter what. Nothing I say is going to make them stop going to shows. But to get "fans," bands have to do a ton of extra things that most take for granted. They have to form relationships with other bands and put together shows where each group's friends will listen to and be won over by the others.

    Most bands seem to feel like the way to do this is to put together shows with other groups that sound as similar to them as possible... bands that are "conveying" in the exact same way. I believe, and I argue with each show review, that this is a terrible way to do business. Shows like that are boring as hell. Anna and I go to concerts with five bands all of which have four dudes (2 guitars, bass, and drums) all the time and we hate it. Even if all of the bands were good, which they're not, by the fourth or fifth we've completely lost the ability to appreciate them anyway because of all the similitude.

    So if you're in a band and you want to find new listeners, where do you look for new music? Hopefully you look here. That's what I'm trying to do, that's the purpose of this whole project... getting local musicians to assume responsibility for putting on better shows. I want people in local bands to constantly scout for new talent the way I do, and I don't want them thinking, "Does this band sound like my band?" I want them thinking, "Do these guys put on a really distinctive and rad-sounding show?" Fans of bands in that second category are more likely to be really dedicated, open-minded listeners who will give other new bands a shot. I'm not writing for every music listener in town... I'm writing for the truly obsessed.

    I think it's great that our initial anonymous commenter has this idealized vision of the local music scene, but some of their statements to me reveal that they don't have much if any practical experience with how the sausage gets made (so to speak). Down at the level of shows that I go to, NOBODY gets paid.

    I'm trying to be the opposite of Pitchfork really... they are all about "cool." I think it's terrible that there's a whole generation of music listeners and would-be music writers who really believe that Animal Collective are anything other than a bunch of kids with severe head injuries attempting to cover Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma."

  14. [I'm trying to be the opposite of Pitchfork really... they are all about "cool." I think it's terrible that there's a whole generation of music listeners and would-be music writers who really believe that Animal Collective are anything other than a bunch of kids with severe head injuries attempting to cover Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma."]

    It's fashion music. All forms of art, from cuisine to clothing to installation-sculptures to architects to SoCo-ersatz-hippie-trinket-boutiques, have a fashion section. Animal Collective sound like they could play well before they drank a pint of grain alcohol to chase their shroom, xanax, cough syrup cocktail. Westy, is it easier to get noticed if you don't sound like those 4 piece bands you hate to go see? Captain Beefheart kicked the bucket this week. Don't dig his stuff but you could consider it fashion-music. I'm glad it existed since we experienced it's "refined" second coming in Modest Mouse.

    Ben, good songwriting is pretty much all we have. There are and will always be better players in Austin. These hired guns make me want to quit when I see them playing *someone else's songs*. Then you have the unfortunate experience of witnessing a group of them get together to play their own tunes and it makes the thought of Steely Dan as fun as actually being Ferris Bueller during the parade scene.

    However, take a good song, musicians who know how to play within the limit of their ability and they'll sound good no matter how shitty the instruments/amps/PA are.

  15. Westy compared one song of mine to Billy Joel doo-wop, and I still come back to read this blog. Sure he said way more nice things about my music than bad, but shit . . . that stung. Billy effing Joel! Anyway, Anonymous #1 seems like some wanker. If you play your music in public, any attention should be welcomed. I don't always agree with Westy, and I'm one of those local musicians who doesn't go see other local bands much anymore, but he is a rare bird and we're richer for having him in Austin.