Soundcheck: School of Rock

Without bragging, I’ll admit that this season of VH1’s Rock of Love is the third Bret Michaels-related reality show that I have committed myself to. I’ve had a strange fascination with Michaels since the 7th grade, when Poison was the first full-blown, arena-rock concert I ever saw. I wore my “Open Up and Say Ahhh” concert T-shirt until it disintegrated and fell off of my body. Lots of smart people (and Diablo Cody) have written snarky pieces about the Rock of Love phenomenon, but watching the show this week—in which Bret Michaels pontificates once again about the perils of “the road” and the nature of “rock”—reminded me of Bret’s interview in Penelope Spheeris’ 1988 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. These days everyone talks about LA as if the entire city were a 24-hour-a-day episode of The Hills. Maybe it is, but people forget that some genuinely crazy things went down in the 1980s. Los Angeles might have given us some of the world’s finest (and tallest) hair metal, but it also generated some of the most influential punk rock of all-time. This movie, along with Spheeris’ other films (Decline parts I and III focus on the culture of punk rock) are defining portraits of American youth subculture in the last two decades. I only wish she’d made a documentary on Goths.


Hair Metal!

Punk Rock!


The landscape of my desk is at this very momentdominated by a leaning tower of promo CDs that I keep expecting to fall on top of me. Luckily, at the top of the heap this morning was the advance of Metric’s forthcoming Fantasasies, which I’ve been playing all day on repeat. (It finally replaced the advance of the new Grizzly Bear record, Veckatimest, which I’m obsessed with) I’m not sure why Metric aren’t bigger stars by now, but maybe this record will remedy that. In any case, now that spring has finally sprung and I actually feel like leaving the house again, Fantasies is on the fast-track to becoming my summer jam. I love a quality pop song-something that manages to be fun and catchy and sort of smart at the same time-and Metric consistently deliver on that front. Plus, I like a song that manages to ask Who would you rather be, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

I’ll take the Rolling Stones. If only because they give me hope that I’ll still be shaking my ass when I’m pushing 70.