Insight Into Springsteen's Mind, in Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

Jena Ardell
Bruce Springsteen was criticized recently for his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" with Dave Grohl and Zac Brown at the Concert for Valor, held on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Fox News and conservative media condemned Springsteen's song choice as unpatriotic, anti-military, and inappropriate for Veterans Day. Suggestions from blog trolls for "Four Other Songs Springsteen Could've Played at 'Concert for Valor'" quickly infiltrated social media.

John Fogerty originally wrote the song in 1969 to protest the Vietnam War draft.

We could just imagine the Blog Troll Overlord salivating while reading this line from "Left-wing millionaire and rock-n-roll welfare queen Bruce Springsteen was unable to keep his ego in check."

What needs to be "in check" are expectations. What did everyone really expect from an outspoken political anti-war activist like Springsteen? Should Springsteen really be condemned for using his "celebrity" to express his views? The media doesn't have a problem using a musician's celebrity to gain viewership, as long as his voice doesn't ignite something beyond mindless entertainment.

Springsteen "politicized" a veterans concert, everyone whined. Politics are what creates war. What's so inappropriate with forcing Americans to acknowledge that?

Quotation above via

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Things a Local Band Should Know About Opening for National Acts

Categories: Handy Guides

Photo by Clever Cupcakes via Flickr
As close as a typical opening band might get to meeting Kiss
Your band has been playing shows for a while and seems to be getting popular. Perhaps you're still just rising stars on the hometown circuit or have hit the road a few times to try your luck at touring. Eventually, the day comes when you get a dream gig opening up for a big national act -- a band with a certain amount of fame and success that you've always looked up to, or at least respected.

Does this gig mean Death Hippie has finally made it and superstardom is around the corner? Can you and your bass player finally quit your jobs cleaning up "accidents" at the porno theater where you both work? Will you at least make industry connections and become friends with your rock 'n' roll heroes after your band opens the show?

Probably not. But as with most things involving the music biz, you'll probably learn some lessons along the way. I certainly did.

See also: Six Punk Bands We Don't Need to Talk About Anymore

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What It's Like to Be Taylor Swift, in Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

Jena Ardell

"Welcome to New York" aside, we're in awe of Taylor Swift, and we're not saying that ironically -- which, sadly, is how Swift initially viewed Lena Dunham's follow on Twitter. "I was really scared [Dunham] was being ironic," Swift told Rolling Stone. "But I decided to follow her [back] anyway, just in case."

See also: Why Taylor Swift's 'Welcome to New York' Is Bullshit

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Let the Rap Guide to Religion Teach You

Categories: Handy Guides

Baba Brinkman
Baba Brinkman's got his mind on religions and religions on his mind.
Public Enemy's Chuck D once famously referred to hip-hop as "CNN for the Streets." But MC/playwright Baba Brinkman is proving it can also serve as an alternative to the History Channel with his latest creation, The Rap Guide to Religion, recently getting its run at the Soho Playhouse extended through December 14.

See also: Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die

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An Illustrated Guide to the Wisdom of Grohl

Categories: Handy Guides

All illustrations Jena Ardell
Sonic Highways, Dave Grohl's "love letter to the history of American music," premieres October 17 at 11 p.m. on HBO. The series documents the creation of the Foo Fighters' eighth studio album (of the same name), written and recorded in eight cities across the U.S.: Chicago, Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Washington, and New York.
"As we were coming down from the success of the last record [Wasting Light], I thought, 'Now we have license to get weird,' " Grohl told "If we wanted, we could make some crazy, bleak Radiohead record and freak everyone out. Then I thought, 'Eff that.'...The music is a progression or an evolution, for sure, but it's a Foo Fighters record."

Leave it to Grohl's overachieving nature (a/k/a: brilliance) to put an innovative spin on the creation of an album. To convey each city's unique sound and personality, Grohl wrote his lyrics while in each city, after interviewing notable musicians who defined the musical landscape of each region. The Foo Fighters performed a string of secret shows during their quest (the most notable being a 30-minute stint in New Orleans' historic Preservation Hall), which was also documented for the series.

Grohl's message for the next generation is this: Dream big, practice your fucking ass off, and make something real.

"Wait until you see what we're gonna do for the next record," Grohl told "I'm not kidding. We already know."

Sonic Highways, the album, drops November 10. Here's some free advice Grohl has shared in the past. Quotation above via Grohl's SXSW Keynote Speech, 2013.

See also: New York City's Best Sound Guys Sound Off

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AC/DC's Angus Young Honors His Brother Malcolm, In Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

Jean Ardell
The family of AC/DC's founding member Malcolm Young has confirmed the rocker is being treated for dementia, which has forced him to leave the band.

"Malcolm is suffering from dementia and the family thanks you for respecting their privacy," Young's family said in a statement, according to People.

Last April, the band announced Young's break from the AC/DC and said they would be recording their 17th studio album, Rock or Bust, without him. Young's nephew, Stevie Young, replaced Malcolm on the album. He will also be filling in for Malcom during AC/DC's 2015 world tour.

Our thoughts are with the Young family. We wish Malcolm all the best and would like to thank him for following his dreams, which led him to create one of the most influential and bad-ass rock bands of all time. His contribution and legacy has inspired, and always will inspire, hoards of musicians to keep rock alive.

All illustrations are of Malcolm Young. Quotation above via

See also: [PHOTOS] Malcolm Young and AC/DC at Madison Square Garden in 2008

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Eddie Van Halen Contemplates Fame, in Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

All illustrations Jena Ardell
Van Halen fans are hoping for a follow-up from the band whose last record, A Different Kind of Truth, was released two years ago.

"I'm writing. I write lyrics routinely," David Lee Roth told Jim Florentine from That Metal Show in 2013. "And the band plays together routinely, at least three times a week. They're up at Ed's place, routinely. I was up at Edward's house, maybe three days ago--just before I came here to the city--and we're starting to put music together. Not to give away exactly what the package will be. It's gonna be about 18 months, I think."

Ex-bandmembers routinely dish out details about the band's turbulent past in the media. Mick Jones told tensions were so high during the recording of 5150 that sound engineer Donn Landee "locked himself in the studio for a day and threatened to burn the tapes."

We imagine the drama within the group has subsided now that Eddie has both his brother, Alex, and son, Wolfgang, in the lineup. Hopefully Roth will stick around this time.

While fans eagerly await the band's (estimated 2015) return, they can rock out with the new EVH Stripe Series "Circles" guitar, made famous by Van Halen's 1981 "Unchained" music video. Here's what Eddie had to say about fame and his love for music.

Quotation above via

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Which Sports Franchises Have the Worst Music Taste?

Categories: Handy Guides

Courtesy Scott Stapp
This man is responsible for the worst song about flying fish ever.
Sports and music go hand-in-hand -- it's pumped out of every stadium in America, we have jock jams, and, like the "San Diego Super Chargers," some of the oldest traditions in professional team sports are inextricably tied to specific songs. It's why the Miami Dolphins will play that godforsaken fight song every single game they play. It's why those organ bleats will ring out in baseball stadiums until the Earth is swallowed by the Sun. These two industries need each other. The rest of us will just have to deal with it.

With that in mind, we've highlighted some teams that have demonstrated some particularly bad taste in recent years.

See also: Let Us Now Harshly Mock the At-Bat Music of the Yankees and Mets

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David Byrne Worries About Music's Future, In Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

All illustratins Jena Ardell
David Byrne has always been about big ideals, something he's proven time and again in both his time with Talking Heads and in his own solo work. Lately he's been thinking about quite a bit, whether it be about how the expense of New York City has grown to such a staggering degree that it's priced out creatives or, more recently, about the future of the music industry. He's been vocal about his concerns on the latter of late, and so we decided to gather the most potent of his gems on the subject here, in illustrated form.

See also: An Illustrated Guide Confirming Josh Homme Is a Badass

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Why "Weird Al" Believes We're Still Talking About "Weird Al"

Categories: Handy Guides

Jena Ardell
"Weird Al" Yankovic has been the mainstream music jester for children (and adults) since the early '80s. Now, anyone and their grumpy father can create parodies and become YouTube sensations, but that isn't impeding on Weird Al's career.

Mandatory Fun, Yankovic's 14th studio album, dropped last week and according to Yankovic, it may be his final "conventional" album.

"I think I will get away from traditional, conventional albums," Yankovic told, "because I don't think it behooves me to do 12 songs before I put them out at once... I think that digital distribution just makes more sense. It makes sense for me to just put out singles or possibly EPs instead of albums. The more quickly and frequently I put albums out, the better for everybody I think."

(Gotta love a man who uses the word 'behooves').

Here's what Weird Al had to say about staying current during the age of YouTube.

Quotation above via

See also: A Brief History of "Weird Al" and Rhyme

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