Stay Cool Dad

Total Devo by Simon Sharwood
September 3, 2007, 10:39 am
Filed under: Dotmusic, I like this band because, I'm so old ..., Just listened to ...

Devo, my second or third favorite band of all time (J&MC are in there, so are REM) have sold out. Totally.

They have devolved from being hip, cool and counter-most-things to being just another cog in the machine.


Because their latest single, ‘Watch Us Work It‘ was recorded for a Dell commercial. Yes, Dell. The company that likes to turn everything it does into ‘commodities’ and then brags about it.

This comes on top of the Devo 2.0 debacle from last year when the band teamed with Disney, FFS, on a tween remake of Devo’s Greatest Hits.

Having said that, I discovered this on a website that says Devo toured Europe this year. If they ever tour Australia, I am SO there …. and I will buy an energy dome.

UPDATE: Okay, maybe this was a bit harsh given that Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo apparently did the music the ‘Hi, I’m a Mac’ ads.


National borders suck by Simon Sharwood
May 17, 2007, 3:47 am
Filed under: Dotmusic, I like this band because

One of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants, has a new album out.

It’s being sold exclusively on iTunes for a few weeks before the CD emerges – hurrah!

But only iTunes USA so far – booooooo – because even though the Internet is global, record distribution deals are local.

How dumb is that?

National borders suck.

I bet by the time the kids have iTunes accounts of their own, this stuff won’t be an issue any more. But I’m not going to bet a lot!

The mutant offspring of Ween and J.K. Rowling by Simon Sharwood
April 2, 2006, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, Just listened to ..., Sounds like

Now if that headline doesn’t prick up your digital sensory inputs, I don’t know what will.

Perhaps listening to Harry and the Potters is your last chance.

All of the duo’s songs are about Harry Potter and his mates.

They are surprisingly competent musicians. I think they sound like Ween, but with saner lyrics. And that’s saying something.

At least once the kids are into Harry Potter we can enjoy this together, although I suspect the age at which they get into Potter and the age at which they discover irony may be a few years apart.

Thanks to Squibb for letting me know this band exists.

The Wiggles are in trouble by Simon Sharwood

Mashed potato, mashed potato is giving way to MashUps here at StayCoolDad central.

I’ve become addicted to DJBC’s two albums of Beastie Boys/Beatles mashups.

They are expertly done, as you’ll hear if you have a BitTorrent client and hit this link.

The experience has made me think perhaps I should re-evaluate my attitude to the whole dance music thing, which is best summarised by a conversation I had with a twenty-something waitress in a cafe last year that went like this:

(Imagine doof-doof music in the background)

ME: Crikey! Bit early for that kind of music isn’t it?

WAITRESS: Don’t you like it?

ME: Not really.
(Adopts ‘old granny’ voice)
When I was your age we had proper music that sounded like this.
(I make grungey, Nirvana-style noises)
Proper music should have lots of noisy guitars and scarcely-audible lyrics, not this silly modern doof rubbish.
The poor dear was rather perplexed, as you could imagine.

Anyway, “the kids” are into this electronic stuff so I feel a bit cool for having downloaded and listened to some, then liked it! Better do more of it to keep up the mission …

Emo by Simon Sharwood
February 20, 2006, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, I'm so old ..., Just listened to ..., Sounds like, Uncategorized

I met a 16 year old pseudo-relative* of mine yesterday and asked her what kind of music she is into.

“Emo,” she said.

I had no idea what Emo is but she explained it is “emotional punk” and named Green Day as a standard-bearer. The mere mention of Green Day and the word punk in the same month has always made me laugh, so I have since done some reading and downloaded some by a band called Evaline recommended at

The general idea seems to be that Emo is a post-punk genre that never made it mainstream. The label never died and now the content is goth-gloomy and the music is occasionally heavy, but also sufficiently quiet that the music can carry the miserable lyrics. In Evaline’s case this means that when they try to rock out, it is just laughable. Some other stuff I listened to has some metal-ish bits but the kids involved seem afraid to see what happens when you really start to treat distortion and feedback as your friends.

They are all “proper songs” too. There’s no experimentation with form I’ve encountered. This seems to be part of the Emo ethic.

All of which is harmless, but interesting for the co-option of the word punk.

Now maybe I’ve forgotten, but I thought punk was all about one emotion: rage. And true punks expressed their rage about everything, even though they knew it was ill-informed and often ill-expressed. They just expressed their rage anyway because … well … because they were punks.

And that’s why it was so offensive: a punk’s reaction to everything was to deny it with anger and rage, then force you to confront it aurally and in any other way.

Once they figured out this was an actually kind of interesting response: all previous attempts at making art had asked for a considered response. Punk became a kind of anti-art movement which, as Greil Marcus hypothesises in his extraordinary Lipstick Traces, is important because it is only anti-art that advances art overall.

Anyway … back to Emo.

I can’t see what the fuss is about, but I can see why kids care. Being able to label yourself in a taxonomy ignored and incomprehensible to anyone else is surely part of the teenage condition. As someone who was (and is, I suppose) proudly Sydney indie circa 1990 I understand the enjoyment that comes with affiliation to a tribe no-one else knows exists.

I suspect that by whenever it is my kids start to put themselves into one of these tribes I may not be able to connect so neatly to a progenitor like punk.

Maybe if I talk to more sixteen year olds** I will be able to make that connection.

*My way of describing anyone more remote than first cousin, as I have no idea how to describe anyone more obscurely related than that …

** And figure out a way to do it without getting arrested

Where are they now? by Simon Sharwood
February 14, 2006, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, I'm so old ...

I’ve been listening to old favorites Straitjacket Fits today, and enjoyed it so much I Googled a couple of the band’s members.

What surprised me was the dearth of MP3s it turned up.

Singer/Guitarist Andrew Brough, for example, comes up with some hits on the Flying Nun site. But there isn’t much else.
But in this age of GarageBand, I wonder why just about any muso worth their salt doesn’t at least bang up a demo of whatever it is they are working on in the hope some mad long tail goon like myself is interested in hearing what they are up to. One PayPal “donate” button later and they could even turn a quid.

Of course this assumes that musos keep making music.

As a writer I cannot imagine not writing. But I don’t know: do musos put down the guitar and go do something else?

And if they are still playing, is the blogosphere any use to them? Or is it all at with the young folk?

Morality by Simon Sharwood
January 31, 2006, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic

At some point in my teenage years, I acquired a tape-to-tape tape recorder.

I proceeded to tape anything and everything and amassed a sizeable collection of illegal music.

I never used Napster or Kazaa in their free-for-all phases.

But I am finding it hard not to use, a Russia-based MP3 download site. It’s cheaper than any other site by far. A whole album costs about $AUD2.00.

The site is apparently legal under Russian law and remits funds to the local copyright authorities. Whether they then make it to the artists is not fully understood.

It may or may not be illegal to import music from the site depending on who you talk to.

As someone who makes a living creating IP, I should probably use a more transparently legitimate service.

But as someone who believes in the Internet’s ability to iron out illogical kinks in global markets, I say “nyah nyah I get my music real cheap.”

What to tell the kids?

How about “come listen to this”?