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IT’S LIKE THAT: The Last Rock Star?

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Sometimes when writing for a blog called Indie Ear, I (almost) feel guilty for showing excitement over certain major label releases. However–when I take a second to think about it–concealing my emotions for whatever reason is not true independence, and if I’m not independent, what place do I have on a website expressing independent thoughts and ideas (yes that “I” in IFC stands for independent if you didn’t know).

Ah yes, a very slippery slope my friends.

(left: Though this cat looks like your typical mainstream rocker, she’s actually signed to a small indie label.)

I have some comrades who live and die indie rock. They go deep, deep, deep into the underground, mining for those corporate-free, do-it-yourself-even-if-I-have-to-live-the-rest-of-my-life-eating-cans-of-tuna musical acts. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of these bands too, but when it comes to music, I like to consider myself “label-blind.” If a band can give me goose-pimples (my failsafe barometer for listening to music), it doesn’t matter if they own a guitar-shaped-swimming or a guitar-shaped-lunchbox. In 10 years, this little blog post will be meaningless anyway, because every band will be an indie band (whether they sound like Yo La Tengo or not).

Not only will every band be independent of major labels, but in 10 years, the species now known as the “rock star” will be nearly extinct. With so many ways to consume music these days, and less and less authority from the “powers that be” dictating who or what is cool, it will be nearly impossible to rally around an Axl Rose, or even a Bono-type figure.

For fans of independent music, this sounds righteous, doesn’t it? Keep in mind though, a world without rock stars can have no anti-rock stars–no Ivan Drago to your Rocky Balboa, no fire to your ice, no antithesis whatsoever. With an equal playing field indie kids can longer roll their eyes at mainstream-friendly acts, cause mainstream friendly acts will be in the same boat as a loft-dwelling band in Brooklyn–no label, no tour bus, no t-shirt money to buy a Ho-Ho at the corner deli.

So here’s my point, not all major label acts are sent by the devil. It’s good to know that if a major label uses their time and money wisely, a young tweener (who doesn’t even know what a record store is) may have a chance of discovering a band like Death Cab For Cutie. Major labels also give young, hungry indie bands hope, “You mean I can actually quit my day job and make a living off of my music?” Yes–I know–there have been artists who got royally screwed in their major label experience, but there are also bands out there who singed on the dotted line and got to enjoy the finer things in life (electricity, running water, and not having to pinch pennies to pay rent).


Believe it or not, this whole notion of “rock star” came to mind last night when I was watching an iTunes commercial featuring Coldplay. One of half of me wanted to scream “sell out,” while the other half of me realized that Chris Martin might be one of our generation’s last rock stars. Is Chris Martin married to a famous actress? Check. Is he making gobs of money? Check. But–does he still carry some semblance of the indie rock spirit? I’d like to say “yes” to that as well. C’mon, championing fair trade for the world’s poorest countries, you can get much more indie than that.

(left: Could Chris Martin be one of our last rock stars?)

I met Coldplay years ago when they were out on the road supporting their debut album. The guys in the band were as nice as nice can be, but when you’re staring out, you have to be nice to everyone, right? Chris Martin was also the first artist I interviewed who actually remembered my name. Amazingly, years later when I waved to him across the lobby of a hotel (after not crossing paths for a good three years), he handed his child over to his movie star wife (aka Pepper Potts in Ironman) and came over to catch up with me.

So here goes–

I don’t feel guilty for telling you that I’m excited about Coldplay’s forthcoming release Viva La Vida. From what I’ve heard of the album so far, it sounds big, but big in a good way, in a way that may have some indie diehards tapping their toes along to the music (whether they will admit this to you or not). If Chris Martin is one of the last rock stars, we went out with a good one.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.