Each week, press releases for bands flood my inbox. Part of my job is to sift through the PR-speak and get to the essential information. Another, less-publicized part of my job is to translate the PR-speak into realism. Or grossly exaggerated surrealism, as the case may be.
What follows is a glimpse into the internal dialogue of a music editor as he reads yet another e-mail about the 'greatest band in the world!' Listed first is the actual excerpt from the press release. The 'Interpretation' is my brain-squarely in its vat-separating hype from hope.
Playing at Humphrey's on Wednesday, July 11.
EXCERPT: 'Ani DiFranco's July Road Trip.'
INTERPRETATION: While lesser musicians take 'tours,' DiFranco prefers 'road trips.' DiFranco casually waltzes across the country with a coterie of amiable friends, engaging in 'zany' episodes involving truck stops, humorous national monuments (that giant ball of yarn was hilarious!) and several impromptu sing-alongs of classic-rock songs. She also totes a copy of Jack Kerouac's lesser-known works, a pack of Lucky Strikes and multiple varietals of Doritos-brand snack chips. She requires her manager to yell, 'Shotgun!' before entering the tour bus.
EXCERPT: 'Indie folk exemplar kicks off seven-city U.S. tour on July 11 in San Diego.'
INTERPRETATION: We do not know what 'exemplar' means. But Ani tells us it's a very cool word. She knows many big words.
EXCERPT: 'DiFranco will be joined by bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Allison Miller for all performances.'
INTERPRETATION: If bored with DiFranco's tour narrative at this point, might we suggest a detailed etymology of the surname 'Sickafoose'? We often chortle when saying it aloud.
EXCERPT: 'Righteous Babe Records will release the first studio career retrospective for DiFranco called Canon, out Sept 11.'
INTERPRETATION: We are constantly developing innovative ways to get in touch with lesbians' disposable income.
EXCERPT: 'In November, Seven Stories Publishing will release Verses, DiFranco's first ever book of poetry and paintings.'
INTERPRETATION: Yes, we're fully aware of the damage A Night Without Armour did to Jewel's career. But we feel that Jewel's main mistake was not including enough watercolors that were loaded with feminist imagery (vaginas!).
Playing at Open Air Theatre on Thursday, July 12.
EXCERPT: 'Live Nation welcomes Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic featuring Willie Nelson & Family, Son Volt, Old 97's, Drive By Truckers and Amos Lee to the Gorge.'
INTERPRETATION: While you had casual sex with a girl in a star-spangled bikini who is undoubtedly the reason for those peculiar sores in your groin region, Willie Nelson smoked pot with Jay Farrar. For instructions on how to boil weed into potato salad, go to www.willienelson.com/recipes.
EXCERPT: 'For the first time in 33 years, Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic will venture outside his home state of Texas.'
INTERPRETATION: Ever since Willie released that gay cowboy song, Texas hasn't been too receptive to our advances. In fact, Houston straight-up told us, 'Nope-maybe he should see if those queers in Austin will take him.'
EXCERPT: 'Since its inception, the Picnic has drawn over a quarter-million music lovers, due to the iconic status and performances of Nelson and his impressive array of musicians.'
INTERPRETATION: Since its inception, the Picnic has drawn over a quarter-million loadies, due to the quality stash and lung capacity of Nelson and his impressive array of water pipes.
EXCERPT: 'What better place to celebrate The Fourth of July than in George Washington at the storied Gorge Amphitheater with an American treasure?'
INTERPRETATION: What better place to get frickin' baked and pretend like you don't know the words to that gay cowboy song? Willie's a legend, although we do promise that he won't play any selections from his reggae album. Promise. Oh, and fuck the police.
Playing at Oceanside Pier Amphitheatre on Sunday, July 15.
EXCERPT: 'Brian Culbertson reunites with sax man Steve Cole for select dates this summer.'
INTERPRETATION: Attention, desperate housewives! We've got more pseudo-jazz to coax your last few eggs down the fallopian tubes!
EXCERPT: 'It has been over eight years since Brian Culbertson and Steve Cole set foot on the same stage. Many will remember the chemistry and magic that was created when acclaimed saxophonist Cole was a part of Culbertson's band. This summer, those memories will come alive!'
INTERPRETATION: It's been over eight years since Brian Culbertson and Steve Cole stuck another fork in the cold, cold corpse of a once-great American music genre. Many will remember the exquisite Argentinean shiraz that was available at the bar. This summer, those vague recollections of an 'OK time' will be approximated!
EXCERPT: 'Cole is thrilled to reunite with him this summer: ‘The creative collaboration with my friend Brian Culbertson has consistently produced memorable chart topping songs and exciting live performances.''
INTERPRETATION: Cole can't wait until he and Culbertson reunite to rekindle a feeling one can only describe as 'milquetoast': 'The gentrifying collaboration with my Caribbean timeshare partner Brian Culbertson has consistently produced songs that no one who's ever said the words ‘Miles Davis' should tolerate. But I sure do love making money.'
EXCERPT: 'Culbertson is well-known for his high energy concerts and this summer will be hotter than ever with the addition of Cole and music from Culbertson's latest, hit album, It's On Tonight (GRP Records). It's On Tonight drips in sensuality.'
INTERPRETATION: Culbertson has been known to move onstage but refrains from actually perspiring, as perspiration hampers the effect of the hair gel his stylist recommended. His hit album It's On Tonight has been known to help remedy a common problem of erectile dysfunction among his fan base. (Note: This is in no way meant to serve as a valid medical statement. But we have found that playing a Culbertson record after taking handfuls of Viagra sometimes results in something resembling an erection.)
Playing at House of Blues on Friday, July 13.
EXCERPT: 'Multi-platinum rockers Silverchair-singer/guitarist/songwriter Daniel Johns, drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou-are back and stronger than ever, as evidenced on their fifth album, Young Modern.'
INTERPRETATION: They've sold lots of records. Granted, they sold most of them 13 years ago when they were 14-year-old Australian heartthrobs. Daniel Johns is considering suing his former self for inflammation of character.
EXCERPT: 'Many stops along the tour route are already sold out, including San Francisco (July 17), Portland (July 19), Vancouver (July 21), Atlanta (July 23), Boston (July 29) and Toronto (August 1).'
INTERPRETATION: San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, Atlanta, Boston and Toronto boast the highest per-capita population of nostalgic rock fans not yet considering laser removal of their Eddie Vedder tattoos. Concurrently, these cities also boast the highest ratio of women who want to see if Johns is still adorable enough to be 'cougar'd.'
EXCERPT: 'Earlier this year, to get fans excited about the prospect of new music, and in spite of the band's long leave of absence, the band sold out shows in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto within minutes.'
INTERPRETATION: In a move that would have echoed the mid-'90s resurgence of 'apathy' as a desirable cultural signifier, they considered not selling out those shows in order to get fans unexcited. Management intervened.
EXCERPT: 'Legendary Beach Boys collaborator, Van Dyke Parks, reprised his Diorama role, penning orchestrations for three songs which were recorded in Prague with an 80-piece orchestra.'
INTERPRETATION: Citing the high incidence of osteoporosis in their fan base, orchestras will play with any young artist filed under 'indie' in Wal-Mart's music section.
EXCERPT: 'Young Modern is Silverchair's fifth consecutive #1 Album in their native homeland. They've had more #1 albums there than any other Aussie band in history (Midnight Oil had four, INXS and AC/DC had three).'
INTERPRETATION: Despite having 50 weeks of paid vacation annually, Australians are still quite 'dodgy' when it comes to this rock 'n' roll thing. Researchers have suggested that it might be due to excessive hours spent as lift-operators at American ski resorts. (Unofficially, researchers also noted that 'besides that one song about the aborigines who apparently caught fire while napping, Midnight Oil kinda sucked.')
NO USE FOR A NAME
Playing at The Casbah on Sunday, July 15.
EXCERPT: 'With over two decades behind them, No Use For A Name stand strong as leaders in a genre of punk rock that they helped to define.'
INTERPRETATION: These dudes totally have crow's feet. You should see it in person. They helped define punk rock. Well, I mean, if we're talking about an actual dictionary entry, it would've been like the 10th or 12th definition. Or maybe even in the part where Merriam-Webster starts naming 'synonyms.'
EXCERPT: 'As one of Fat Wreck Chords flagship bands, we thought it high time to put together a collection of the songs that truly exemplify their body of work.'
INTERPRETATION: We lost our ass on Less Than Jake's new one, and we can't even afford to buy new hair dye. So we're cobbling together a bunch of songs by a band that almost broke even and selling it for expensive!
EXCERPT: 'Calling this release a ‘greatest hits' seemed a bit pretentious and boring, so after much deliberation a title was constructed that could not only hold its own amongst other NUFAN album titles, but also provides truth in advertising: All The Best Songs.'
INTERPRETATION: We had our intern (the one with the nose ring) hit the 'Thesaurus' button on Microsoft Word. From there, we got the words 'best' and 'songs.' But 'Best Songs' seemed nearly as generic as 'Greatest Hits.' So we added the words 'all' and 'the.' Then we called our moms to tell them we formed a complete sentence. Of course, those fuddy duddys told us we forgot the 'of.' Doh! Punk rock!
EXCERPT: 'Compiling a track listing was another task in itself, but after some serious soul searching and countless round robin e-mails with the band, we were able to select 24 of their finest tunes.'
INTERPRETATION: Man, the track list was a total toughie. We had trouble finding songs after 1997 that we could really call 'best' without shrugging our shoulders. We e-mailed the lead singer, but his Gmail account is all fucked up. So we just put all the song titles on a board, blindfolded the intern with the nose ring, and had her throw darts until she hit enough to make a full album. It rocks!
EXCERPT: 'Do not mistake the release of All The Best Songs as a sign that the band will be slowing down, quite the opposite is true with the Summer of 2007 seeing them tour the West Coast of the US, South America and beyond!'
INTERPRETATION: Besides blowing spit bubbles and knowing 133 uses for duct tape, these guys are totally unemployable. Pretty sure they'll be playing punk rock through the incontinent years.
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