Screw October, Revisited
Back in June, we expressed certain rather vehement and negative comments concerning Blue October, Houston's most successful rock band since ZZ Top. In the article, I expressed my dismay at Justin Furstenfeld's continuing use of guy-liner and described his herky-jerky stage manner, which, as I put it, "reminded me of a woodpecker trying to dislodge water from its ear." I also savaged "Hate Me," the band's hit single thusly:
"Hate Me" is yet another in a line seemingly without end of Buzz-friendly, post-rehab, downtuned mush-guitar wankfests, complete with the requisite too-hastily-arrived-at chorus and 12-steps lingo-ridden lyrics about losing yet another girl after yet another bout with an (unspecified) addiction. And oh, yeah, bleeding brains, cockroaches leaving babies in his bed, porn and ye gods, he even spliced in a phone message from his mom. Evidently, the old dear's worried about his fragile state. (Hmm, maybe the song isn't about a breakup with a lover -- maybe it's about his mom. To which all I can say is "Yuck.") The snippet of classical violin at the end of the song only adds a veneer of cheesy grandeur to the horrific proceedings, sort of like slapping a Greek temple facade on a strip-mall proctologist's office.
To make matters even worse, Furstenfeld is still singing in an array of fake accents, including his default Peter Gabriel-esque setting, and in a new wrinkle, inserting random R's in words like "accomplishment," which comes out as "accormplishment."
The whole thing is so goddamned awful it honestly gives me chills.
Reaction was swift, both pro and con.
In the letters section of the weeks that followed, one fan said she would have to be on drugs to read any more articles from my pen, while another said I lacked a decent vocabulary or any ability to assess music at all. (A third irate fan, in a letter we didn't run, made a not-so-veiled threat about running me over in his car.) On the pro side, an HSPVA classmate of Furstenfeld's revealed to the world that he was a product of that school's drama program instead of its vaunted music program, which surprised me not at all. More surprising was the letter I got that compared me favorably to legendary funkster Johnny "Guitar" Watson, a hero of mine I am truly unworthy of comparison to.
And so it sat for the past seven months. For some reason, my story got up and stretched its legs again this week. A guy from Cartersville, Georgia sent me this terse message Sunday afternoon: "I know you have a right to your own opinion, but if anyone sucks it's you dude. Get Fucked..." An anonymous detractor unburdened itself of the following incoherent gibberish on Tuesday: "Men you have to get a life you are so stupid i can't belive it! Basicly you're juste a hater! Anyways you won't never understand t'ill someone..."
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T'ill someone what, dammit!
And then Furstenfeld himself got into the act. He sent me two emails over the last couple of days, one wondering how we could have had a pleasant cup of coffee together back in '02, only to have me turn around and slam him four years later (answer: 'Cause that's what critics do), and another that read "ur fuckin funny thank you for the press...u sure seem to care alot for such a hater.....please please keep writing about us .....u make me laugh."
One wonders why Furstenfeld was wasting time with a lowly provincial journalist like yours truly, 'cause by this time he had a couple of other fires to put out on the national music front. The Web site Somethingawful.com named Blue October the Worst New Act for 2006. And if anything, Mike Z, the author of the accompanying article, upped the ante on my admittedly vicious prose:
This is some of the most spineless, lowest-common-denominator rock and roll I've ever heard. The music industry has once again managed to outdo itself by propping these jerks up and passing them off as anything other than sand filled vaginas flapping in the wind. Even RHCP managed to not make music as bad as this in 06, despite their best effort in doing so this decade. The vocal production, which is the fucking same on every song I've heard (which is their radio hits. I won't dignify being asked why I haven't heard any of the other album cuts with a response) sounds like a chipmunk and a poltergeist doing coke and having sex in your attic, but somehow less climactic. If the world thought that Nickelback had completely killed mainstream rock, they were right, but Blue October bent right the fuck over and shit all over the body's face in a glorious stream of formulaic, cliched and overproduced diarrhea with their album Foiled. I think if you look closely at the album cover, then you've looked too closely. Run while you can, and scrub your hands vigorously in gasoline to wash away this horror of corporate rock from your hands. Never tell anyone what happened.
To make matters worse, the band also became only the second Houston band (to my knowledge) to gain entry into Rockandrollconfidential.com's Hall of Douchebags.
So you Blue October fans can "Hate Me" all you want. But know this, kiddies: people like me roll deep. Calling us out just makes you look like an asshole to sane people. — John Nova Lomax
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