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.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.