Bike's "Great Distances," h&s' "Bon Jovi," and Site Design

First, the music – Today’s Mr. Furious update includes a brand-new bonus track for Bike’s How Is That Possible, “Great Distances.” Thanks Nate for a great addition to an album we love; Bike continues to be available in full for downloading, so rock that.

Furious Instance #2 is a re-mixed, re-mastered “Was I In Bon Jovi For A Second There” from howie&scott. Did you think that howie and Scott were off-beat, creative, rocking guys with a penchant for self-questioning? You were right!

In addition to the new jams, MFR has made an update to the structure of the website! is more browser-friendly than ever with our new look. Not a drastic change, but a significant improvement. Check out the Furious Instance’s permanent spot on the left side of the page, new navigation on the right, and a bigger and better-exploding main frame in the center of the page. Netscape friends & other non-IE users will like the new layout we think.

Mr. Furious Records: Giving Great Music into spring, and beyond (next up: Sally Ride!). -Mr. Furious


The French Kicks opened for Idlewild’s The Remote Part tour, which I collided with in Omaha, leaving with their record One Time Bells.

Last night at the Triple Rock, openers The Natural History gave a spastic opening set, like Buddy Holly might’ve given if he grew up in New York with the Walkmen. Good, solid, rockin’, original fun.

Second act Calla is a band you should avoid. If Nirvana could be wiped of their energy, destructiveness, tension, and creativity, you’d be left with Calla. I thoroughly enjoyed a big root beer during their set, and completed my French Kicks discography with a purchase of the Young Lawyer EP, the band’s original work for Star Time.

The headliners were quirky, poppy, and pleasantly dance-inducing (among a notoriously WASP Triple Rock-attending population. Minneapolis is diverse, but you wouldn’t know it by going to rock shows). Off-kilter rhythms, oddly soulful harmonies, and a minimalist instrumentation isn’t a usual palatte for pop pleasure, but the French Kicks pull it off with New York style. The Trial of the Century is one of those discs that Pitchfork missed in their review; it’s a great record (mid-7’s I’d say), and a mainstay of mine since last fall.


With Gilby’s “Lunch By Yourself” released last month, Mr. Furious Records launched the FURIOUS INSTANCE. This new feature on the site will bring even more killer music to your fingertips. Furious Instance is an emerging compilation; musical snapshots from all over the auditory spectrum. Artists from beyond the MFR release-roster will be contributing tracks as well as some of the usual suspects (howie&scott, echoes, Cory Alan). In the future Furious Instance will include more new musicians as we encounter them, live cuts, and any number of other gems we can dig up. The goal of Furious Instance is to be mutant mixtape, constantly evolving with interesting sounds and no limits on who can be involved or what we may sound like.

The second Furious Instance will be a re-mixed, re-mastered “Was I In Bon Jovi For A Second There?” from the back catalog of howie&scott. Beyond that… Scott’s gathering some material, Cory’s got a friend in The Return we’re talking with, and there are a couple echoes songs that sound pretty good acoustic…


The feature article this past week (“Minnesota Becomes Eclectic“) on Pitchfork was on our new radio station in the Twin Cities, 89.3 “The Current.” Run by Minnesota Public Radio, The Current is so good that it’s broken my NPR-news habit. Read the article here, but I’ve been wanting to share a personal antecdote for awhile too.

I spent a couple days listening when The Current came on-air, getting a feel for it, and enjoying music from Wilco, Elliot Smith, Olympic Hopefuls, Radiohead, Spaghetti Western, Joseph Arthur… Late one night on the drive home I thought to myself, “Some Afghan Whigs would be great about now…”

The next afternoon, Mary Lucia played “Gentlemen.” I think I’m in love.


A good debate has been running in the comments to Cory’s post, but I’ve started a new post to encourage more readers to join the coversation. Are there really “good” and “bad” songs, or is everything personal preference? Is there a difference between “good” music, and “liking” music? Read what Mr. Furious, Cory Alan, Franz Clobberfist, and JT have written, and join in.

IF WE ASSERT THAT BEETHOVEN AND CREED are of different aesthetic value, then we must seek grounds on which to base our judgement. Most people think and act as if this assertion were; Cory writes, “I know you would probably agree with me that a band like The Beatles is objectively better than a band like Creed, regardless of how many people like either band however much.” It is in that light that I read Cory’s original post, and his comments on: originality, honesty, catchiness, and a certain self-serving quality. Conducting our examination with a clear example (like Beethoven / Creed, though the Beatles / Creed is certainly clear enough for most purposes) helps create understanding so we can talk over the finer points (Bright Eyes / Radiohead) with clarity.

This position states that an objective reality exists (i.e. is a form of “realism”), and it is within this objective realm that an aesthetic object (like a song) has its ultimate aesthetic value. It is more or less “good” in reality. Cory is a realist: “But truth and objectivity are completely independent from our PERCEPTIONS of truth and objectivity… a song’s quality is independent from whether one likes it or not.” But along comes Franz (or Kant) to rightly remind us that under no conditions can a person know or experience this objective reality – knowledge and experience is ALWAYS colored by subjectivity.

So should we give up trying to say anything meaningful about objective reality? Franz and the relativists say “Yes” – whether that reality exists or not is an open question for relativists (i.e. Beethoven = Creed people) but regardless, relativists think that no meaningful statements can be made about it. Realists (i.e. Beethoven > Creed) answer “No” – and cross the gap between subjective experience and objective reality by a variety of means including logic, conventions of language, and judging statements by standards like coherence or utilitarian value. The details cross the line of feasibility for this forum. Yet there is much at stake in this debate, more for how to live one’s life than for evaluating music. If a person accepts that some meaningful statements about an objective reality can be made, the immediate question here is finding some that deal with musical value.

Franz has anticipated this point: “Aren’t judgement calls subjective?” Yes, and no. I’ve admitted that there is a subjective aspect to any form of judgement – but that does not mean that the subjective part is the ONLY part of an evaluation. For example; Beethoven, Creed, and originality. The 9th Symphony contains more uniqueness than “With Arms Wide Open” – more intricacy in its’ harmonization, more complexity in its’ melodies, more variation in tone, rhythm, and expression. This is not my experience of the music; look at both pieces on paper, and you can see and read the difference. In terms of originality, Beethoven is good music, and Creed is not as good as Beethoven.

Notice that the act or state of “liking” this music hasn’t come into play yet. It’s an interesting question about the relationship between music’s quality and a person’s experience of it, and more so whether there is any kind of obligation to like good music and not like bad music. I won’t try to answer that today. It is this situation Cory referred to; an argument between people who have confused a discussion of good/bad music (as it exists objectively) and what sort of music they like (subjective experience). JT understands; “N’Sync has some songs that are some of my worst guilty pleasures. But that doesn’t mean it’s good, much less great.”

Very, very few people truly act like relativists (though many talk like them, saying things like “that’s just your personal like / dislike!”). From a relativist perspective, I can’t imagine why you would want to say, or hear, any statements about music at all. Even reading a review in which the author writes about their personal experiences, there is definitely a normative quality to the review. The author is suggesting a certain way of hearing the music, a “correct” way that gently excludes or de-values other ways of hearing it. In doing so, the writer asserts some normative value judgement, which necessarily appeals to an objective existence of some form. I’m convinced of the realist position. The real inquiry here is into the terms by which correct aesthetic evaluations are made; a subject which cannot be exhausted or concluded, but will generate fruitful discussion for as long as art exists.

Saturdizzle Mizzle

This is going to be a weird one, but I wanted to start a little list of the things I like about music, and what I think makes a good song.  I think the definitions are somewhat objective in the sense that the qualities all need to be there for it to be fully “great,” but subjective in as far as whether people understand or are attracted to it.  Let me explain:  To have a good (objectively good, not “good” in the sense that everyone will like it, even if they should) song, you need these qualities:

Originality (stand on the shoulders of your heroes, pick a new fruit off of the tree)

Honesty (this is a tricky one; there’s a thin line between fabricating a loss or a break-up just to have something to whine about and to have an excuse to front a black-haired band, and using an example of it to speak some universal truth about loss, even if it didn’t necessarily happen to you.  It all rests in motivation, and since You Never Can Tell what people mean when they say what they say, or what their reasons are behind it, you have to sometimes either suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a song, or built a sort of relationship with the songwriter based on whether they’ve been honest in the past.  Does that make sense?  Earn my trust!) 

Catchiness (sounds superficial, but what I mean is, it’s got to have substance, something that makes it stands out and helps the song grab the attention of the ear.  Great songs don’t always do this on the first listen, sometimes it takes 3 or 4 or 5 or more listens to pick up on it)

Self-Serving (written for the song-writer, not an audience; meaning, you would write the song for yourself, even if no one else was around to hear it.  The best musicians love to make music, and I know that sounds silly, but there are so many bands out there who seemed to be motiviated by everything but actually creating a decent instance of music). 

Finally, there has to be the willingness of the listener to meet the song halfway.  What I mean is, everyone loves the Blue Album from Weezer- why?  Because the songs on that album are so great and also so catchy, the listener has to do very little to meet those songs and appreciate them.  Those songs practically come to your doorstep and make out with your mom.  And you dad LOVES it.  He sings along!  Meanwhile, there are far less The French Kicks fans than Weezer fans (at least in the US) because The French Kicks are definitely a band you have to meet more than halfway.  You’re at least going to have to drive to the midway point, which happens to always objectively be Ceresco, Nebraska.  It just is.  Then, finally, there are bands like Sigur Ros.  Now, I am still on my way to meet this band.  I can see them off in the distance, and let me tell you, they are shredding.  I can see that they are good.  But they are so far away, and I keep getting sidetracked by Nada Surf and Superdrag, who are in the car with me, singing songs I learned on the second listen.  So while it’s not impossible to go all the way to meet Sigur Ros, it’s tougher because they are farther away on the “originality” side of the spectrum, and it takes actual effort to get to them.  Meanwhile, “Say It Ain’t So” is still making out with my mom.

HOWIE-  Please do your best to comment/add to this, if you have anything: I would love to hear what you say on the matter.  I remember one time we were talking about someone who believes a song is an objectively “bad” song arguing with someone who likes this “bad” song, and how they are arguing past each other.  Maybe expand?  It’s a profound concept that I didn’t get at first, but leave it to Baby Beaver!  


Some Kind of Monster, the making-of documentary about Metallica and their newest record St. Anger was supposed to be a good film whether you care about Metallica or not. Noel and I watched it a couple weeks ago, and I sat on the floor for over two hours, engrossed. Seeing the story of frustration, depression, and addiction behind St. Anger gives the album the personal relevance it needs. I’m not a big fan of the band, but the film inspired me to borrow the record from Noel. I wouldn’t have connected with the music on my own or through my individual experience, but knowing the band’s crucible over the past few years through the documentary and the fire they put their art through has forged that connection.

St. Anger‘s energy is fueled by positive, self-searching fury. The album’s sound juxtaposes the chaos of metal with a cut & pasted, ProTools-processed production style. In more ways than one, it has the characteristics of edge, striving, and tension between musical repetition/change that howie&scott’s signs aimed for. Big thrashy riffs are beaten out and given structural room to breathe; a theme is often introduced, varied, and played again, sounding achingly slow against Lars’ quadruple-time drumming. Musically, Metallica is smart and solid but not unorthodox, an extraordinary garage-metal band but not revolutionary. For the first time, the band co-authored all of the lyrics. Dominant is James Hetfield’s wrestling with his psychological shadow self – this is the correct way to hear the exhortation to “Kill” at St. Anger‘s close. It’s Hetfield’s shadow speaking; it’s poetry, “reality” in aesthetic terms only. Note the change from Ride the Lightning and other metal of that era, which took its own mythological exhortations as real.

In the tension between creativity and expectation (whether the band’s own, or fans’, or those of metal in general) a few moments falter lyrically. “Invisible Kid” would sound ten times better if the fourth line of each stanze DIDN’T rhyme with lines 2 & 3, and the chorus of “Purify” might be heard in any given Midwestern dive in a song by any given metal band; we rightfully expect more from Metallica. Yet only “Shoot Me Again” is wounded mortally by its’ cliches; it stumbles down the road without any of the redeeming qualities of the rest of the album.

With St. Anger, Metallica has created a desperate, honest statement of survival. It’s mature in all the good ways: well-played, dealing with real struggle, tempered by experience. Go ahead and be surprised that I’ve made myself its advocate; I am too.

echoes RUMORS

Received some meaningful, informal positive feedback about echoes and nickel today from Courtney Yasmineh. I’d given her a disc (nickel and Shacker’s Knowing Her Best…) awhile ago after hitting her CD release show. Courtney said she’d actually been listening to the disc, and even spun it for her producer, Rob Genadek, and it seems he dug echoes too. The lyrics were a big hook apparently (catchy + quirky), which I felt good about.

In other less-than-official echoes news, I’ve demoed six new rock songs and am in search of a producer (because I can’t do drums at home in Minnesota – not enough gear). I’m talking first with someone through Tapestry, the WCC contemporary worship band, but Courtney’s offered to help locate a reasonable (read: pro bono) backup if the first choice doesn’t work out. So, hopefully there will be new rock’n’roll this summer. I’ll keep working on some more acoustic stuff at home in the meantime. -h

Gilby's "Lunch By Yourself" on Furious Instance

Yesterday’s update included a broken link to Gilby’s “Lunch By Yourself” – the link is fixed now, so GO. DOWNLOAD. IT. (it’s to your left!). Many, many thanks to (in order of email): Nick, Allen, and JT for catching the break and emailing MFR about it. Sending FuriousMail now…

In other news, over 120 mb of BEACH-PUPPY served yesterday! Congratulations, Cory Kibler.

Beach-Puppy to Universe; "Creepy Eepy Available… NOW!"

Mr. Furious Records has released Beach-Puppy’s first recording, Creepy Eepy, today at Download it from the m u s i c page. Beach-Puppy is Cory Kibler from Shacker writing pretty, folky songs.

As if Beach-Puppy wasn’t enough, today we launch the FURIOUS INSTANCE. The Furious Instance is an ongoing collection of songs from artists both inside and outside of MFR. Al Puff Gilbert (“Gilby”) starts the madness with “Lunch By Yourself,” a punk-rock tale of noontime lonliness and hope for its eventual defeat. On the Mr. Furious [blog] is a post from Gilby about the track – and ounces + ounces of cobwebs on music in the archives.

Printable PDF artwork for Beach-Puppy is on the way in coming weeks, as well as “Great Distances” – Bike’s new *bonus track* for How Is That Possible – the second Furious Instance track (howie&scott) and new echoes material. Killer!