Monday, August 27, 2007

The new iPods?

Sounds like there may be an Apple event/announcement on September 5, according to Arstechnica. Likewise, 9to5mac reported last week that it has knowledge of both a flash-based Video iPod Nano (in the above advertising mock-up) and the iPod Touch, which is essentially an iPod with the iPhone form factor (except slightly thicker and with a black back).

The iPod line is past due for its typical refresh, so at least some of these rumors may be true. In fact, Apple issued a Cease & Desist Order to 9to5mac after they posted the above image on their sight -- Apple in the past has only done this to images that have turned out to be quite real.

Another C&DO came from Apple after the below videos were posted of the new iPod interface.

We'll have to wait and see...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

CD Review: VHS or Beta's "Bring on the Comets"

Louisville's VHS or Beta releases their latest CD Bring on the Comets on Tuesday, August 28th. I had the good fortune to snag a pre-release of the disc and get an early listen.

Much like the band's first full-length Night on Fire deviated from their self-released EP Le Funk, their latest offering is considerably different from either of the previous two.

VHS or Beta teases you with the 1-minute opener "Euglama" -- giving you a taste of Le Funk and Night on Fire -- only to reveal that it's all just a tease as it fades into oblivion, the sound never to be heard on Bring on the Comets again. Don't get me wrong -- the CD has definite shades of VHS or Beta, but its deviation is dramatic enough that it may turn off current fans of the band who may be expecting more of the same.

I won't go on to comment on all the songs -- most have a difficult time standing out, not at all helped by Craig Pfunder's bland vocals -- but I will single out two that I think may hold their own.

First, the single "Can't Believe a Single Word." A snappy tune that sounds like it should be sung by The Archies -- complete with an animated Betty chinging along on her Filmation tambourine. I like this song and I hope it goes somewhere. It has an original edge to it and I'm glad that it's getting radio airplay (at least here in Columbus).

The other song is the one immediately following: "Burn It All Down." On an initial listening, it's lyrically disturbing, but musically simple, straightforward, and possibly the most similar to their previous CD. Sounding much like a progressive early-90's B-side throwback, the song catches on and becomes a standout.

Ultimately though, Bring on the Comets comes off as VHS or Beta's attempt at the mainstream and, in so doing, the band's uniqueness is lost.

If you've had the opportunity to hear the CD yourself and have another opinion, leave a comment! I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say about this new release.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coming this Weekend: A Pre-release Review

I just got the pre-release of VHS or Beta's "Bring on the Comets." I'll be perusing it tonight and writing up a review this weekend. Stay tuned!

Here's the track list:
Love In My Pocket
She Says
Can't Believe a Single Word
Burn It All Down
Take It or Leave It
Alpha Theta
Bring on the Comets
Fall Down Lightly
We Could Be One
Time Stands Still
The Stars Where We Came From

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ben Jelen at The Basement

Sunday night marked the first time I stood in a near-empty Basement. Normally, this venue, with its dark, cramped interior, is tough to get to the bar through the mash of concert-goers, let alone get the attention of the bartender once you get there.

All of thirty people -- and I may be exaggerating -- came to the Ben Jelen show. Talking with Steve, the manager of the venue, helped clear up why. 1. It was a late add (only put on their calendar three weeks previous -- no time to really promote it); and 2. It was a Sunday. Two strikes.

Fortunately for the thin audience, the third strike wasn't a bad performance. Jelen came out, knowing there wasn't many people to sing to -- a blow to anyone's ego, especially after playing to sell-out crowds while opening for Pete Yorn for the previous three weeks -- but you wouldn't have known it. Jelen played as though the room was full -- and sounded great doing it. And he had a good sense of humor about the lack of concert-goers. At one point he asked the crowd, "Who's a friend of Dan?"

This was funny because the opener was a local guy named Dan Erb. And, by the whistles and applause that Jelen got as an answer, most really were friends of Dan.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ben Lee - Live in the CD101 Big Room

In recognition of Ben's upcoming September release of his latest CD "Ripe," here's his performance in the CD101 Big Room from April 9, 2005. Video courtesy of me (note my spectacular scan-and-seek videography talent).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Local Scene: Twin Cam

For a band that's been around for eight years, had five CD releases and been on two Warped Tours, Columbus' Twin Cam gets ignored most of the time. Oh, sure, you might vaguely remember that one of them is also in Watershed, but you wouldn't be able to say which. And the name of the song "Varsity Jacket" rings a bell until you realize you were thinking of "Black Concert T-shirt."

Which is too bad, because the lighthearted four-piece deserves better.

Opening for Willie Phoenix last night at Andyman's Treehouse, Twin Cam played initially to a crowd of about about 10 people that eventually creeped up to about 25 (the largest and most stoic audience member being the tree in the center of the room). Of course, you wouldn't have known it was a small crowd by the way they played. The energy still poured out of them and the fun they were clearly having in that tiny little room was infectious. Not that the infection was necessary -- we were all having fun already. The sound at the Treehouse sucked, as it always does, but Twin Cam's music was able to transcend the audio mire and get out a set that was too short, but high on quality.

Jump on over to their MySpace page and take a listen. Or go on over to iTunes and buy their stuff. But to truly get Twin Cam, experience them live.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Rules of Concert T-shirt Etiquette

There are 3 simple rules to concert t-shirt wearing. Rules that are not to be broken unless you're under the age of 10.

Rule #1:
Do not wear the t-shirt of the band that whose show you’re attending.

Yes, it shows support for the band. Yes, it creates a faux solidarity amongst fans. Yes, you look like a consummate dweeb.

Rule #1.5:
You may wear the t-shirt of the band’s (or bandmember’s) side project.

If you go to a Social Distortion show, you can wear a Black Kat Kustoms shirt. Or if you attend a Rancid concert, you’re allowed to wear a Transplants t-shirt.

Rule #2:
If you purchase a shirt at the show, do not under any circumstances put the shirt on at that same show.

If this rule is broken, words cannot describe the level of concert-going geekiness and shame that will forever surround you for the rest of your days.

Rule #3:
If you purchase a shirt at a show, you must wait one full day before wearing it.

Wearing a concert t-shirt the next day to school may sound like it makes you look cool. Don’t believe that sound.

Rule #3.25:
Rule #3 also applies to previously purchased (old) t-shirts of the band whose show you attended. However, Rule #3 does not apply if said shirt clearly indicates it was a previous show/tour.

Rule #3.5:
If you purchase a shirt of an opening band, you may wear it the next day.

Social theory clearly shows that the level of coolness of knowing and liking opening bands cancels out any possibility of potential negative social upheaval for wearing said t-shirt.

These long-established rules of etiquette are put forth to repel the advances of the current spate of unrebellious youth infiltrating our live music venues. These young suburbanites often reveal their true nature by the fresh Manic Panic dripping down the back of their necks, texting in the mosh pit, dancing with a Red Bull -- and wearing their concert t-shirts completely wrong.

Don't be a 'burb kid.

Note: To those from the always eloquent and upright 2+2 Forums: Simply because I've published these already-established rules of etiquette to the electronic page, doesn't make me a douchebag. A jackass and a concert-snob, yes -- but not a douchebag.

Though I've never denied being one for other reasons.

(Besides, does this look like the face of a douchbag?) (Okay, don't answer that.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The PostSecret Mini Movie

PostSecret is quite possibly the most intriguing online arts project of recent memory and one I've been following for nearly three years. All money generated from PostSecret is donated to The National Hopeline Network.

CD101 SummerFest Featuring Silversun Pickups, VHS or Beta, The Cliks & Seawolf

The weather was perfect for the CD101 SummerFest yesterday at The LC. For me, the alternative music lineup was highlighted by VHS or Beta and (surprisingly) The Cliks.

I didn't expect to like The Cliks. Sure, their radio hit "Oh, yeah" is a good song, but nothing to necessarily write a blog entry about. However, I met the band earlier in the day when they did a somewhat acoustic set in the CD101 Big Room. Lead singer Lucas was not only really nice (and had plenty of good things to say about our fair city), but his voice was really amazing. It has a clarity that demands your attention and a flow that he attaches so well to the music that you can't imagine the two apart. Now a transgender, Lucas still sounds very much like the Lillia of days past, with an angry-woman edge that at the same time transcends the cliche. Although not all of their songs are great -- and I have yet to hear all of the songs from their latest CD -- their live show allowed you to overlook that, with their unending energy and keen musicianship. If you like The Cliks, be sure to catch them live -- you won't be disappointed.

But I was primarily at SummerFest to get a chance to see VHS or Beta and hear some new tunes from their upcoming CD Bring on the Comets (out August 28). I was a big fan of Night On Fire when it was released back in 2004, impressed with how they so effortlessly mixed electronica, rock, and pop into a distinctly alternative sound.

The band's sound was a bit off during their SummerFest set -- they seemed to have some minor technical difficulties -- but they overcame that and put on a good show. They're not the most lively band in the world. No wild antics or overexpended energy. But what the band lacked, the crowd made up for. Dancing during nearly the entire set, the audience was definitely into the new sound and the new songs of VHS or Beta. If this was any indication, their newest CD may well be a breakout seller.

I didn't get a chance to see Seawolf or Silversun Pickups at the show, but that's okay -- I had the opportunity to catch them in the Big Room earlier in the day.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ben Jelen

That's pronounced "Yellin," by the way. And that's what I'll be doing when he comes to The Basement on August 19. (Doors open at 7pm;
$6.00 Advance / $8.00 Day of show.)

If you haven't heard of Ben Jelen, you're not alone. Though his music is seemingly everywhere -- Smallville, One Tree Hill, and the compilation
Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur to name only a few -- his music's gone largely unnoticed. Which is a shame because his newest CD Ex-sensitive is brilliant.

Born a Scotsman, but raised in the states, this piano-, violin-, and guitar-playing singer/songwriter is a breath of fresh air amidst the staleness of today's emo shoegazing. With a pop senstivity, Jelen mixes insightful lyrics with enough musical pizazz to create a sound that's unique and songs that make you want to listen again and again.

Ex-sensitive, shows it's power mostly in the opening track "Pulse" and the lighter second track "Where Do We Go." Though there are other stand-outs on the 13-track album, these two songs really show his diversity both musically and lyrically. They're each powerhouses but in very different ways.

The album is available on iTunes, so jump over and take a listen. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Watershed: You better not miss Friday's show...

Rumor has it that it'll be Watershed's -- Columbus' hometown boys of alt rock's -- last one for a very long time. Officially, it's a release party for their new live CD "Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust II. Unofficially, could it be hiatus time? The LC Pavilion (outdoor)
Friday, August 10
Gates open @ 7pm
Openers: Earwig, Two Cow Garage

Weird Al in 3-D

We all have cell phones, so c’mon let’s get real... Cell phones... Let’s get real

Ah, the lyrical genius that is Michael Stipe and a simple guy named Weird Al.

Or maybe not so simple. Weird Al Yankovic -- that American icon that gets only funnier with age (either mine or his) -- was in town last night at the Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fair. I didn't know quite what to expect, but I definitely didn't expect what the audience got. A full-blown comedy rock show. And Al did indeed rock. With a phenomenal light show, six screens, and an incredible band backing him up, he performed one of the best concerts I've seen in years.

And he was damn funny.

The crowd was amazingly diverse. 'Burb and city; every skin color; old and young. I wondered about the "young" part when, during a between-song Al-TV segment, he asked Justin Timberlake if he'd be willing to do gay porn, or when he asked Jessica Simpson if he could slather her naked body with cheese. Of course I still laughed. Because it was funny.

And that's the thing. It was hilarious through and through. That's what Al does and that's why he seems to be constantly at the top of his game. He knows how to make us laugh. Sometimes it's stupid funny ("Weasel Stomping Day"), sometimes it's intelligent ("Bob"), sometimes it's just, well, weird ("Albuquerque").

The crowd was intensely into the show. Especially when he came on in his Jedi robe and sang "The Saga Begins" (that's the "My, my, this here Anakin guy, Maybe Vader someday later, now he's just a small fry..." for those uninitiated). Everyone joined in and sang along with Al to the song's sultry slow beginning, continued throughout, then seemed to get louder for the return to the sultry slowness at the end. Incredible energy from the audience. Then he broke into "Yoda" -- and the crowd erupted all over again.

There's so much more that I should write about the show -- he played for over two hours -- like the fat suit he wore for "Fat," or the never-ending "Albuquerque," or the amazing talent of his band. But maybe I'll leave that for another day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Its!

Could The Its! be next big thing? I saw them open for Hot Hot Heat this past weekend and they were really good. I had a twenty burning a proverbial hole in my pocket and the band made an offer I couldn't refuse: Their new full-length CD, an EP, and a damn cool t-shirt -- all for a paltry 18 bucks.

The next day, I actually sat down and listened to the CDs. Excellent stuff. Good lyrics, cool sound, and that lead singer guy has a great voice. It all comes together.

This is why I never miss the opening band.

Keep an eye out for these guys. I have a feeling they might be going somewhere.

The Its! on myspace

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Ben Lee: All-new Ripe EP on iTunes

Ben released three tracks from his much-anticipated upcoming CD (to be released on September 18th) to iTunes! All three tracks are excellent. It includes the new single "Love Me Like the World Is Ending" -- a great song destined to get absolutely no air-play here in the states. Like most of his songs.

I think I'm bitter.

Go now and download these songs -- iTunes (in its infinite electronic wisdom) will credit you for the three songs when you download the album come 9/18. Because I know you'll be downloading it.

For more Ben Lee info, go to

Hot Hot Heat

Okay, as a first posting on Life on the C-bus, I should do something of great significance. Something that I can only hope will change the direction of the world or at least my community. Something that will make people rethink their lives. Something that will inevitably alter the course of the future.


Instead, I'm going to talk about the Hot Hot Heat show last night at The Basement.

I got to see them in the CD101 Big Room earlier in the day. The band has done the Big Room before, so they knew the drill and got set up pretty quickly. They were really nice (not just friendly, but genuinely nice). They did a good set of three songs with Columbus radio icon Andyman doing the between-songs interviewing. The band signed some stuff for fans and then were off to continue to recover from the night before where they reportedly drank Snow Patrol under the table.

Okay, first off, I'm not a crazy-huge fan of this band. They're great and I like a lot of their stuff, but I wouldn't be able to sing a single song of theirs all they way through without doing a rendition of Wayne and Garth's
Adams Family theme somewhere within the first verse. With that disclaimer, it was a really good show. This was their last stop before heading back to Vancouver, so maybe that made them in a good mood or maybe they're just this good all the time. The sound was great, the energy was amazing and they won a mediocre fan over to being a mediocre fan that will probably go over to iTunes, listen to a bunch of 30-second clips of their songs, and decide that I ought to download some of their stuff someday.

The Basement is a tiny little venue. You have two halves -- the front half where the stage is, and the back half where the bar is. If you're in the back half, you can't see a damn thing, but at least you can drown your sorrows in a few beers at the bar. If you're in the front half, you can see great, but your damned to hours of beveragelessness unless you're willing to lose your spot. We were fortunate to grab a couple drinks and find a miraculously unoccupied area on the side of the stage to the right. Well, okay it was a bit more complicated than that, but I've gone on long enough.

And lead singer Steve Bays has a lizard tongue. Seriously. Stuff of comic book villians.