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Tag: "Ted Leo and the Pharmacists"

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Businessmen, Bankers And Biomedical Engineers: Rockers With Degrees You Wouldn’t Expect

Earlier this month, Bad Religion founder Greg Graffin announced that he’s taking a break from touring after the band’s summer dates in Europe. But the reason is not to work on a new album. No, he’s going Ivy League, teaching a class on evolution at Cornell this fall.

He already has the nerdy but cool professor vibe down

The news might come as a surprise to fans of the legendary punk pioneers, but Greg (or Dr. Graffin) actually earned his degree from Cornell (the guy has a PhD in zoology), wrote a best-selling science book/memoir and even has an ancient bird fossil named after him. And as it turns out, Graffin isn’t the only rocker who gives credence to all those “Be cool, stay in school” PSA’s. Quite a few performers earned degrees in fields that might completely surprise you.

We knew Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk, was a smart fellow… not just any old schmuck can weave together seemingly unrelated musicians like Queen and Rihanna and make it sound both awesome and original. But we never would have had him pegged for a Bachelor’s degree-wielding biomedical engineer. Even more surprising? Gillis actually worked in biomedical engineering while he was building his career as Girl Talk. Lucky for us, he quit his day job to focus exclusively on music in 2007. this the look Graffin was channeling in his picture?

Milo Aukerman, frontman of SoCal punk band the Descendents, inspired the title of the group’s quintessential first album Milo Goes to College when he was studying biochemical engineering from UCSD. He eventually earned his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There really must be something punks like about advanced degrees, because the Offspring have had two smartypants in their ranks. Frontman Dexter Holland has a Master’s degree in molecular biology—he left USC when the Offspring blew up while he was pursuing his doctorate. (Thank goodness, because while we don’t know much about molecular biology, we do know that we love “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.”) Former Offspring drummer James Lilja must not have been as certain about the band’s future as Holland was; he left in 1987 to pursue his own medical career…as a gynecologist. No, we’re not making this stuff up.

While these degrees may seem unrelated to the career paths of the musicians who wield them, plenty of artists have degrees that fit perfectly with their musical persona. Andrew Bird has a Bachelor’s in violin performance from Northwestern, which isn’t too surprising given his masterful fiddling. The lyrically gifted Ted Leo, of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Notre Dame in 1993 and equally wordy Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo earned a Bachelor’s in English from Harvard in 2006. Cuomo isn’t the only Harvard alum; Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine graduated with honors in Political Science in 1982, and we can only assume that fueled Rage’s socially-conscious lyrics in later years.

Rivers Cuomo is rocking that graduation cap

So what can we take away from studying the careers of these multi-talented musicians? Besides the obvious—they’re way more intelligent than we’ll ever be—it all comes down to this: cut records, not class.

Punk on the Rocks: The Best Punk of 2010

With the end of 2010 fast approaching, we are entering into one of the most hectic times of the year. No, I don’t mean holiday shopping season—I’m talking about the annual barrage of year-end “Best of” lists. While I’ll be the first to admit that the media can go more than a little list crazy this time of year, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to throw in my own two cents about the year in music.

Below is the Punk on the Rocks Top 8 of 2010: The four best punk albums by national acts and the four best songs released in 2010 by OurStage punk artists. Let the listing begin!

National Artists

We Are The Union - Great Leaps Forward: Boy oh boy, do I love this record. Great Leaps Forward has We Are The Union single-handedly making ska punk into an exciting and unpredictable genre of music again. Not only that, but this album also rekindled my love of modern ska music. If you’ve ever been a fan of ska-punk music, you owe it to yourself to check this record out.

Matt SkibaDemos: Demos had all of the lyrical prowess and raw intensity that I want from Alkaline Trio’s This Addiction but didn’t get. Hopefully, Skiba follows through with his plan to release an actual solo album and flesh out some of these great tracks.

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists - Brutalist Bricks: I pegged this as a record to watch for 2010 and I’m glad I did. Easily my favorite Ted Leo and the Pharmacists album since 2004′s Shake The Sheets. Not only is Bricks a great album without a clunker in the bunch, but the songs translate extremely well to a live setting. Another reason to love Brutalist Bricks—It produced the hilarious video for “Bottled In Cork.”

The ThermalsPersonal Life: I have yet to hear a Thermals album that I didn’t like, and Personal Life is no exception. That their songs continue to be universal without being trite or formulaic is no small feat. Personal Life is another record that delivers quality not only on the stereo, but on the stage as well.

OurStage Artists

The Resignators – “See You In Hell”: This Australian Ska-Punk-Reggae band makes their second appearance on my year-end list with this boot-stomper of a song. The energy in “See You In Hell”‘s rhythmic chanting intro is completely contagious and would merit this song’s placement on this list even if the rest of the song was boring. I can say with assurance, however, that this is not the case.

It’s All Happening – “Weddings and Funerals”: Melodic punk in the vein of Jawbreaker or The Promise Ring, “Weddings and Funerals” is one of those great bittersweet growing-up songs that the genre does so well. The song is featured on the band’s 2010 album Home Sweet Home.

What Hands Are For – “We Love The Knife Light”: 2010 will be remembered as the year that I really started to enjoy hardcore and post-punk. What Hands Are For is one of the bands I have to thank for this new-found appreciation. “We Love The Knife Light” is explosive and passionate without sacrificing melody.

Fiction Reform – “Cancerous Gold”: My favorite song from Fiction Reform’s debut album Revelation In The Hands Of The Weak and one of my favorite songs to compete in the Punk Channel this year, “Cancerous Gold” shows off the best of singer Brenna Bishop’s gritty vocals.

Listen to my favorite OurStage punk tracks in the player below! What were your favorite punk songs and albums from 2010? Let us know in the comments!

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Eminem and Jay-Z rock Yankee Stadium

Part one of Jay-Z and Eminem’s Home and Home Tour, which took place last week in Eminem’s hometown of Detroit, was a success (to put it mildly). And Part two, which took place this past Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in Jay-Z’s home turf, looks like it was just as epic, if not more so. Featuring repeat guest performances by Drake, Kanye West and Dr. Dre, the concert also featured surprise guests Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who joined buddy Jay-Z for a medley that included snippets of “Clocks” and “Viva La Vida.” Check out the clip below—goosebumps on the house.

Ted Leo + Paul F. Tompkins = “Bottled in Cork” video

Lampooning the archetypal rise and fall of a rock star, this new video from Ted Leo is a real hoot, thanks to a comically rich performance by Paul F. Tompkins, who plays the part of Leo’s would-be manager, Reginald Van Voorst. Enjoy the LOLs.

The Bad

Hootie and the Blowfish to get SC monument

It seems mean-spirited to throw this in the “Bad” section, but we didn’t have room for it anywhere else. Honest. And even if we were griping about the expense of funding such a monstrosity (your words, not ours), it wouldn’t change the fact that Hootie and the Blowfish are getting a big monument in Columbus, South Carolina. The band formed there on the campus of USC nearly 25 years ago, and went on to sell 16 million copies of their record, Cracked Rear View. The monument will be unveiled on October 21. Put that spray can down.

Weezer autotunes the news

If you have a sour Hootie aftertaste in your mouth, cleanse your palate with this video wherein Weezer autotunes current events. Catchy and informational!

The Ugly

George Michael sentenced to prison

George Michael was sentenced to eight weeks in jail and a five-year suspension of his driver’s license after he drove his Range Rover into a Snappy Snaps photo store (real name) on July 4th. Somebody won’t be singing “Freedom” anytime soon.


Punk On The Rocks: New Music For A New Year

OSBlog_POTR_MASTERIn addition to singing “Auld Lang Syne,” watching people freeze their fingers off in Times Square from the comfort of your living room and consuming copious amounts of sparkling beverages, many people like to start off the new year by making resolutions. While you may not be able to remember your own New Year’s resolutions thanks to your annual New Year’s Day hangover, there are many bands who resolved to give their fans new music this year. From Brutalist Bricks to Addictions, major labels to indies — get the scoop on some of the most anticipated releases of 2010 below! Continue Reading Punk On the Rocks: New Music For A New Year


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