Forbes recently released its list of highest-paid DJs. How ould your humble narrator know this? Well, I heard it on The Dan Patrick Show, when Seton O’Connor (@HiMyNameIsSeton) mentioned that the highest-paid DJ made $46 million in the last year. Now, here’s the thing. People are outraged when they hear about an athlete makes more than $20 million a year. At least athletes have some discernible talent. Where’s the outrage at the kind of scratch DJs are making? After all, just look at this quote from the #6 DJ on the list, Avicii (no, I’d never heard of him either).
Forget your house. This dude could buy your entire block.
“You don’t really need anything anymore. You need your computer.” Precisely, dude. That means that anyone with a MacBook could be a world-famous DJ. A skronk and blurp here, a screech there, then repeat (and repeat and repeat). Of course, this is really bad news for all those guys that we write about: the ones who tour in a cramped (and possibly unreliable) van and make only enough money to get to the next gig. But you know something? I’ve talked to enough of these guys to know that they’re pretty happy living the life of a working musician if for no other reason than it keeps them from working in a factory, or worse, an office. I’m not saying that DJs are unhappy, but we all know that an income of $46 million per year doesn’t guarantee happiness.
No doubt someone will read this and accuse me of being a hater. Look, I don’t begrudge these guys the money they make. They’re obviously the smart ones for making the most money with the least amount of effort. I mean, it’s not like these guys ever sat in a basement or garage and played until their fingers bled. If someone offered me $200,000 for a night of making electronic fart sounds, I’d sign up for it. (Although that would mean I’d be subject to an entire night of EDM. Shudder) I guess what’s disappointing is that music that is so soulless can be worth so much to us as a society. And yes, it is soulless. After all, how can music have any soul when it’s generated by pushing some keys on a computer and twiddling some knobs?
So, who has the last laugh in all of this? Is it the guy who’s making millions of dollars a year and will be forgotten in about three years, or the guy who continues to do what he loves even though he’s not making any money at it? I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that. Allow me to close with two rock n roll responses to the entire electronic dance music subject: one from Mojo Nixon and one from Two Cow Garage.
Loyal reader, I preach constantly about how you should use the contact page of this blog. If you have not used it yet, here is one good reason why you should. I’m gojng to give you a little glimpse of my introduction to Crooked Saws and my response to it.
Crooked Saws: “I found Incognito by reading Gary Schwind. I think (and hope) my band Crooked Saws is right up his and your alley. We’re a 2 piece blues band from Minneapolis with heavy Hill Country influences. We just released our first album Mo-Fi’ which was recorded using 2 mics and single live takes of each song. Review or no we do really hope you enjoy it. Thank you.”
Your humble narrator: “First off, I want to thank you for reading Gary Schwind, which just happens to be me – the lead writer and editor-in-chief of Incognito. A two-piece blues band with hill country influences? Hot damn! I’d say you came to the right place. That does sound right up my alley. I’ll give it a listen.”
First off, the band should be commended for knowing its audience. Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I have a thing for two-piece bands, especially blues bands. This band does fit into Trashy Tuesday with some of its songs like “Freak.” This is some grimy lowdown blues with a healthy dose of fuzz. Also, the fact that the recorded the album with only one take on two mics. That fits right into the trashy mold.
That being said, a lot of this band’s songs sound a lot like old-time blues. Specifically, these guys remind me of Son House. Just listen to “Death Terror Blues” and see if you disagree. I’d say that Hillstomp is a pretty good comparison for this band as well. This especially comes through in the lo-fi gem “Good Lovin’” The vocals are purposely rough and it has a bit of a dark feel like you get in a lot of Hillstomp songs.
A completely different comparison hit me with the song “Get Up Again.” Jesse Revel’s vocals in this song remind me a lot of Shane Sweeney of Two Cow Garage. He has a similar deep vocal quality with some grit in it that suggests someone who has been involved his fair share of brawls. If you’ve been looking for some good gritty blues, you’ve found it in Crooked Saws.
The split 7″ is a good concept. Chances are, you’ll buy one because you like one of the bands on it. The good thing though is that if you don’t know the other band on the record, you just might end up with a small sample of a new band you like. The split 7″ with Arliss Nancy and Those Crosstown Rivals (Shit Starter Records, 2012) is one where you’ll probably end up liking both bands.
The record begins with “Both Got Old” by Arliss Nancy. My first impression of this band is that if you like Two Cow Garage or Lucero, you’ll like this band. This is a song with a good story and good energy, and it has that same sort of gritty feel that you get from the two bands I mentioned.
“Look at Me” is the first song by Those Crosstown Rivals on the record. A few of things are immediately apparent about this band. First, this is a band that believes in volume (as we do). Second, this is a band that probably grew up listening to a lot of 70s southern rock. Finally, you realize that this band makes rock songs that could easily find their way onto commercial radio stations if only some middle-aged white guy championed the band’s cause. The hooks are that good.
We all know that on an album the best track (at least in the minds of producers) is usually the lead track. It is a pretty smart tactic to grab the listener’s attention. Now the thing is, why would I choose track 8? Well, I can attribute that to my son who is obsessed with what number a song is on an album and went through a phase where some of his favorite songs were track 8s by various artists. So without further ado, I give you five great 8s.
“Mediocre” by Two Cow Garage (from the album III) – It’s Two Cow Garage with horns (not shown in the video link). How awesome is that? This one shows not only Shane Sweeney’s talents as a songwriter, but also his range. Plus, it includes the line, “I’ve tried my damndest. Guess I’ll try mediocre instead.”
“Chad Henne is a Motherfucking Joke” by Dead Schembechlers (from the album Rodriguez to Ruin) – OK, so this hits home for me because I am a Buckeye. But even if you don’t care about Ohio State or Michigan, it’s funny to write a song about a mediocre quarterback.
“DUI” by Attractive Eighties Women – (from the album Ancient Cry of the Tyrannosaur) – Loyal reader, we don’t advocate driving under the influence, but we do advocate this song. It is two minutes of pure joy about a guy who has to call his girl and explain why he missed their big date.
“Motorcycle Woman” by Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders (from the album Junkyard Rhythm) – It’s a blues-rock song about a woman with black boots, green eyes, and long black hair…who rides a motorcycle. What more do you need?
“Nitroglycerine” by The Gories – (from the album I Know You Fine, But How You Doin’) - This is one of those songs about a girl who is nothing but trouble…and not just trouble but “volatile.”
The news comes on and the weatherman says that a flood alert has been issued and everyone is hereby instructed to evacuate. What five albums do you take with you? I’ll give you my five “great flood” albums and my reason for including it.
Big Back Forty Bested – This one makes the list because I’ve owned it for probably 14 years and I’ve never gotten tired of it.
AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – I have to include this one because at some point, my older son (he’s three and a half) will demand it.
Clutch From Beale St. to Oblivion – I could have chosen any album from this band. It makes the list because I can’t ever imagine a time when I won’t want to listen to Clutch, in particular the title track to this album, and “Mr. Shiny Cadillackness.”
Two Cow Garage III – This band makes the list for the same reason as Clutch. It is such a staple in my collection that I can’t imagine being without it, even when I’m stranded indefinitely because of a flood. This album in particular makes the list because of “Should’ve California” and “Mediocre,” both of which my older son sings along with.
Funkadelic (self-titled) – An odd choice? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Quite simply, this is great “getting it on” music and there is always a time and place for that.
Yesterday was a Two Cow Garage sort of day. Today might be too and I’ll tell you something, loyal reader. Sometimes going through albums you haven’t listened to in a while can be a pretty good reward. Please Turn the Gas Back on and III have been in my collection for years and I guess I realized that I missed listening to them. “All Sins Forgiven” was definitely one of my songs of yesterday. Here’s hoping you’ll make it one of your songs today.