Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On Celebrities and Things

thenewno2 front man Dhani Harrison is an Ivy League-educated Brit-American with a knack for being the epitome of adorable. Born and raised in England, Dhani has spent his post-aerodynamicist career churning out songs like Yomp and Out of My Mind, Truly and Lord Lord, all of which boast a marvelously diverse complexity, all of which are founded in a musical stability one would expect from the child of a Beatle. George Harrison's only son (only child, for that matter) graduated from Brown University with a degree in physics, which he promptly put to good (though brief) use for McLaren. His dream job turned out to be less than he bargained for, and after calling it quits, invested his time in music. As would be expected of any man or woman born to one of the most famous persons in the history of the universe, Dhani had long avoided a musical career, loathe to be compared to his infamous father. This proved harder for him than for most celebuspawn. Short of being his father's twin, Dhani couldn't possibly look more like his father. Possessing a similar demeanor and sense of humor, virtually identical build, and musical style, Dhani will never be able to escape the comparisons which will surely never cease. He doesn't wish to be upbraided nor praised on the basis of being the child of a famous musician. Fair enough. However, after getting over my initial infatuation with George Harrison reincarnate I took it upon myself to actually listen to Dhani's work. In short, thenewno2 is one of my new favorite bands (along with The Scissor Sisters, Richard Cheese, and The Darkness), and despite my respect for Dhani's desire to separate himself from his father, I cannot oblige him. What Dhani fails to accept is that he, like his father, is a man, and he, like his father, is a musician. Comparisons to The Beatles are inescapable. Thenewno2 sounds nothing like The Beatles. There are no George-Martin orchestrating accompaniments, no bizzaro Lennon-esque lyrics. There's an obvious lack of Paul McCartney's strained vocals, and of course the drum track lacks Ringo Starr's brilliance. But the songs are good. Very good. They are incredibly fresh, they have an honest quality about them, and a solid mixture of big-beat, blues, and rock influences that make me want to keep listening. In short: Dhani Harrison is not his father. Thenewno2 is not The Beatles. Dhani Harrison and Thenewno2 are independent of their more famous counterparts, and are all the better for it. Listen. Watch. Follow.

So very rarely do our heroes turn out to be as good as we make them to be. So very often they stumble in our esteem, and the character we created for them is destroyed. Trent Reznor has always produced a rather honest image of himself, often not to his benefit. Nine Inch Nails has long been heralded as a sort of musical anti-Christ. Religious groups consistently protest his performances, parents forbid their children to listen to his music, and, as has been my experience, a great many would-be-listeners actively avoid what he creates out of sheer terror. To be entirely honest, I've never seen Trent as anything more than a rather confused, over-grown 15-year-old in great need of a hug and pat on the head. The majority of his music I consider to be a bit juvenile. His lyrics have certainly maintained a youthful, whining quality, and his insistence that noise is beautiful has aged with less grace than his being. That being said, I've been an avid fan for nearly 10 years. I follow his music surely enough, but it's his business (and sometimes personal) decisions which attract my attention most. He uses all tools available to him, has a sincere desire to produce and promote music as an art form, and generally takes no shit from anyone. He is an inspiration in my personal life, has influenced my education and career goals, and molded the images by which I define my life with his "beautiful noise". Having released his most recent albums online and free of charge, Trent's clearly hurting for money. Well, perhaps not hurting for it, but surely aware that he's no longer able to set his cash ablaze in the manner of old. He's had to tone down the bonfire that was his past tours to a more modest do-it-yourself experience. Last night I was glancing at www.nin.com, checking for updates as I usually do. The band is on tour and updates are frequent. As of late, updates have come in the form of blurred shots of cityscapes or vehicle interiors. However, the last two posts caught my eye. Having arrived safely in Colorado despite a lack of airline structural integrity (Alessandro posted a picture of the rather wrecked interior of the plane - one panel was coming off), the band decided to eat at a diner that was apparently outside the bounds of regular cab services. Posting a picture of the diner on their page with a plea for a ride-for-six back to their hotel, the band took advantage of mobile technology in order to get themselves out of their quandary. The result: A ride-for-six back to their hotel from a young girl and her aunt. I literally laughed out loud at both of the posts, and was nearly brought to tears by the latter. A man who has often bred fear in people (both personal and apocalyptic), even to the point of fanatical hatred, but who has maintained an honest, even innocent profile throughout his career (as far as I know, the extent of his "heresy" includes foul lyrics and a rather rough game of "tear up the dressing room" on his Fragility tour in the mid-90's, both of which having now been exchanged for anti-government propaganda and a love of mountain biking), was able to reach out to fans who responded - instantly - to his request for help. That's the kind of response a man gets when he has earned not only a fan base, but the respect of those responsible for his success.

Checking Facebook earlier today I noticed my friend Kris had updated his status to say that he was enjoying Google Chrome. Having no idea what Google Chrome was, I promptly used The Google h4x0r and "googled" Chrome. Turns out it's a nifty little browser churned out by, you guessed it, Google. I haven't entirely figured out what it does, other than blow my face off with its speed (much, much, MUCH faster browsing than on Firefox). It lacks a "home" page, which is a little irritating, but considering how much better it is overall (appearance, speed, functionality) that doesn't really bother me. It will take a bit of getting used to, as it has a lot of features Firefox lacked, including "incognito", though that didn't do what it claimed to do.... Either way, it's awesome and you should check it out, along with thenewno2 and NIN. Definitely buy NIN's music if you possibly can. I'd love to get Trent Reznor's bonfire aflame once more (and yes, that is a double entendre).

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