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June 20, 2006

CDebate: Bill - Birthday Suit

Today marks the debut of a soon to be regular feature here on San Diego Serenade: The CDebate. One of the nice things about having a music blog is that occasionally things are made easy for you when an artist contacts you, rather than you having to discover them yourself. It gets difficult to give CDs the attention they potentially deserve, however, and part of the reason for this is, for me at least, that you'd like to present the music and artist in a unique and entertaining style. Hence, I have concocted the CDebate. Though it may be awkward to read and pronounce, I have faith that it will prove an interesting and entertaining way to review CDs.

The format will be that of a basic high school debate team. Or what I imagine one is like, if I had participated in one, if they still exist. There will be a "Pro" side and a "Con" side, and each side will be allowed a main argument, and then a rebuttal/closing statement. This will ensure that the coverage not be one sided, as any fawning will be tempered by a thorough pointing out of a records flaws, and any shitting-on of a CD will also accentuate the positive that may have been overlooked.

Of course, I have encouraged the participants to not refrain from personal attacks, slippery slope arguments, straw men, and hyperbole in making their arguments. MP3s can be used as evidence. We want this to be fun. To make it even more fun, each CDebate will feature one notable music blogger and one of my friends. This mix of people who write about music in their spare time and friends of mine whose musical backgrounds vary greatly will ensure a spirited CDebate. In all cases, I will deem a winner, based on their arguments and my opinion of the CD, and award the CD the coveted status of "MustCD" or the shameful scarlet letter of "CDeezNutz" status.

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce the participants in this weeks CDebate. Taking the "Pro" side is Greg, who writes the music blog Captain's Dead. Greg and I share a fondness for Tom Waits, and he was one of the first people to link to my blog when I started it, so his blog has long been one of my checkpoints for posted tunes and unique viewpoints. Taking the "Con" side will be my friend Andrew Kilpatrick, who I've known since third grade. Among other projects we've worked on together throughout the years, Andrew is the singer in my band Re-Ree and has written well over 60 songs, and those are just the ones that I know about.


Bill


The CD in question will be the latest album "Birthday Suit" by San Diego's own "Bill." I was sent their album about a month ago, and figured that a local band would be a good way to start off this feature.

We begin with the Pro section, by Greg from Captain's Dead

This brief review of San Diego rock n sway ensemble Bill's Birthday Suit will be written not through my voice, but through the voice of a 19 year old female named Mandy.

Ok, people listen up! Bill's new record Birthday Suit is everything I have been dreaming a record would be since I first heard Jason Mraz's "Remedy" at the Sam Goody. I never bought that record, just the cd single, but I know that Birthday Suit is much, much better.

The opening track "It Wont Hurt" has some great harmonies and finger snapping that totally reminds me of these songs that they play on the local oldies station, only bill does it in a much cooler way. I remember my dad saying that "It Wont Hurt" reminded him of do-top or do-bop, something like that. My brother, Hunter, used to totally be into Dave Matthews Band and they remind me a lot bill. It leads me to believe that Bill must have been a big influence on Dave Matthews, because bill's song "Sitting Duck" sounds an awful like something off of Under the Table and Dreaming. I guess imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery. I am on to you now, Mr Matthews! I love, love, love the song "Sound Scientist!" They way the lead singer can sing fast and flow just like a rapper is awesome. That's as far I have made it listening to Birthday Suit but I know the rest is going to be just as awesome.

So, in closing, if you are looking for an awesome record to cruise around town in your VW or just chill at the beach, then Birthday Suit is so for you. My friend Hannah, who doesn't like anything, said she is going to buy this record tomorrow! Its that great!


A strong opening salvo for the "Pro" faction. Let's see how Andrew can shape up in the "Con"

Don't Pay This "BILL"
A standard three-paragraph essay using a pun in the title

Bill Stevenson, Bill Haley, Bill...

The list of great musicians named bill isn't long, and isn't going to get any longer with this collection of mediocre songs from a band that calls itself "Bill." I don't know anything about them, but I am going to make some assumptions here:

Their lead singer, bill, wears a knit beanie indoors. He used to be a Christian in high school, but lapsed in college, possibly under the corrupting influence of the acapella group (all-male). He is far and away the visionary behind the band. He has had the same girlfriend for a long time. He has a "good" voice. This voice is usually boring, except when it's annoying. Like this one song I got stuck in my head, where he sing-raps like Jason Mraz, which I guess that's the kind of sound he's going for. In that case, I hope he's as devastatingly handsome as Gavin Degraw, because he is less talented.

I imagine that this band would "prefer not to label themselves," but if pressed (like for a really big interview where they were on their best behavior) they would describe it as "jammy-funk-rock-reggae-soul-jazz with a slice o' pop" or something that they actually spent a lot of time coming up with. But let me tell you, this shit is nothing but pop. You can tell because the songs are annoying and get stuck in your head, like that Gavin Degraw song I used to see on MTV at 5 am that goes "I don't need to be anything other than what I been lately." Except none of the songs on here are quite that exhilaratingly awful. I wish some of them were, because I kind of enjoyed that gavin degraw song, like you'd enjoy controlling the pain of a toothache with your own tongue. Nothing on this "bill" record rises to those heights.

And here's one thing I couldn't make up:

"Thoughts fall like waterfalls on an empty page...

LIKE RAIN"

Oh yeah? Waterfalls fall like rain? So essentially, what you're saying here is that "waterfalls fall...like rain?" Take a poetry class dude. Your lyrics suck.


Andrew has delivered some hard hitting arguments for the "Con" side. Let's see how Greg responds with his closing statement:


Listen up, Peter! You forgot Billy Ocean, duh! My dad has the cassette single of Get Outta My Dreams and Into My Car, and i love it, love it, love it! Back to bill, the band. You can use whatever cuss words you want to describe bill, but bill is here to stay! They are so freakin cute, and as a chrisitan i understand what he has gone through. My boyfriend, Brad, totally wants to do it, but you know what i say, "my body is a temple, that you shall not enter!" bill rocks, and you dont, peter!


Seems like Andrew has stepped on the toes, if assumed fictional personas can have toes, of that reviewer. Andrew no doubt has some strong closing words prepared, let's see how he finishes:

Leadbelly said something about songwriting, something like "here's how you write a song. First you get your words, then you get your music, then you put 'em together. Now you got yourself a song." That's what Bill did. Kudos to them for writing songs. While the nay-sayers just sit there saying "nay", the members of Bill actually wrote songs instead of just criticizing them. Or at least that's what I think they would say if they read this review.


Seeing as how both sides have wrapped up their arguments, it is time for me to weigh them and deliver a verdict:

Greg delivers his "Pro" argument in the guise of a teenage girl, and in doing so, speaks volumes to the intended audience of this music. The production is good, the instrumentation and song styles are varied, and the lyrical subject matter and delivery are just the kinds of things that young ladies conceivably swoon for. Andrew, on the other hand, points out the faults of the record from the point of view of a discerning music listener, one with tastes conditioned towards the exact opposite of what this record has to offer.

Which brings us to the question: Did these fellas really look at my website before sending me the CD? You know, do any research, see if it was up my alley and might be worth my time. Did they note the lack of articles devoted to Jason Mraz or Dave Matthews on here? The lack of feel good, summer BBQ material? Nothing on this blog would even lead you to believe than I am a kind-hearted person, let alone someone who listens to the kind of music that would probably have been too pussy to even like back in my ninth grade DMB-fan era! Did they just see that I was a guy that talked about music in San Diego and figure that it couldn't hurt to just send off a copy of the CD with hopes that something good might come of it? To me, the latter plan of action sounds a good deal like spam. Currently in my spam email folder, there is an unsolicited email with the subject line "Would you like your penis to be better looking than your face?" I would have to say that, in all honesty, that extremely odd spam proposition is far more intriguing to me than another email from Bill regarding their latest CD would be.

And it is for that reason, the sheer audacity of sending someone a CD that even the most BASIC research would indicate they have absolutely no interest in listening to, that I am proud to award "Birthday Suit" by Bill the first ever San Diego Serenade CDebate "CDeezNutz" Award:

cdeeznutz.jpg

That was pretty fun. We'll hopefully be back with a new CDebate next week, pitting a blogger against another die hard music fan who probably likes music just as much, but is just too lazy to do anything about it. Until then, check out this weeks band, Bill at: http://www.myspace.com/bill

If you have a CD that you'd like featured on a future San Diego Serenade CDebate, or are a blogger that would like to participate, please contact me using the contact information at the top of the page.

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