to eleven

An Open Letter to 2011 by jason

Dear 2011,

You know what? You weren’t half bad. I often look at each new year as a chance for things to get better, but as far as years have gone, you were fairly decent. I mean, sure, we lost some musicians like Amy Winehouse, Heavy D, Warren G, but you know what? To quote a British Sit Com: “Death isn’t the handicap it used to be.” Just ask Tupac and Elliott Smith.

We also had some bland pop music, like that one song with the autotuned guy bragging about his car and asking a girl to come back to his place. You know the one I’m talking about, right? But every year has bland pop music.

However, we had some really good music, too, as my top 10 list and Jayson’s top best of list will attest. And even the bad music, such as Loutallica’s Lola, was entertainingly bad. “Hallucinaaaaaaation! Hallucinaaaaaaaation! I thought you were listening!” Heh.

And in 2012, we’re planning on moving the site over to a different server, getting another writer or two, and generally shaking things up at both To Eleven North and To Eleven South. This all means that we may look back at 2011 as “The year before shit got all fucked up.” That is, unless the 2012 apocalypse is the real one and we die before John Cusack can save us. Or, you know, if SOPA passes. Or that kid in North Korea launches nukes.

Damn. 2012 is looking worse and worse, isn’t it.

It is with this in mind that I say, “Don’t leave us, 2011.”

When the ball drops in Times Square, I sincerely hope the numbers light up to say “2011” again. We could really stand to have another one of you.

So stay if you will, but go if you must, and know that you were a good year.

To Eleven

An Open Letter to Those Who Were Upset with the Rock Hall Inductees by jason
September 30, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: Awards, Open Letter | Tags: ,

Dear those who were upset with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2012,

Why do you care?

I don’t mean this in the Sex Pistols, the awards are a “piss stain” sort of way. I mean really, why does it matter?

Do you think, every time you hear Rod Stewart, “Damn…I’m glad he made it in to the Rock Hall?’

I’ll go one step further…besides when they announce the inductees, do you even think about who’s in the Rock Hall?

Real talk here: I write a music blog. I LOVE music. Also, I live in Cleveland, which, as you know, is “The Birthplace of Rock & Roll” as well as the home of the Rock Hall. I have been to the Rock Hall exactly once. It was fun…I saw a Sgt. Pepper outfit and a television set that Elvis had put a bullet through, proof that that particular urban legend was true. And it is very cool that there is a museum dedicated to Rock Music. So I’m not knocking the idea of such a thing.

However, the inductees aren’t decided by the fans, who really, let’s face it, are the reason for the music. They are the audience. No; the inductees are decided by music journalists, as well as by people with a vested interest in putting on a good show, and, and this is the kicker, label execs. Everyone involved in the process has a bias.

But so what? What does induction really mean? I doubt Red Hot Chilli Peppers started off with the goal of getting into the Rock Hall, especially since it hadn’t been built yet when they formed.

What gets me about all this is that every year, people get butthurt because their favorite band didn’t get in. Every year, I hear “I can’t believe so-and-so was ignored again!!!” Why can’t you believe it? Yo know the selection process is janked, and you know that “grave” omissions are made every year while bands and artists whose nomination is head-scratchingly bizarre get in. You can’t control it, you will forget about it in a month, you’re probably not going to the concert, so why even think about it.

Instead, here’s what I want you to do: go out to a music store and buy the albums from these bands. Go to their concerts. If you have all the albums, and if you can’t make it to the shows (or if they don’t play anymore), let someone borrow your albums. Introduce the next generation to the music. Show them that music comes on discs and not from Limewire or whatever the kids are using these days to get free shit. Because really, a bunch of company people putting your favorite band in a museum isn’t going to help anybody.


An open letter to, like, everyone. by jason
December 8, 2010, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Open Letter | Tags: , , ,

Dear everyone,

I come to bury Lennon, not to praise him. I mean, I love the Beatles. LOVE them. In Pulp Fiction, when Mia says that some men are Beatles men, and some are Elvis men, I’m a Beatles man. My love of music can be traced back to them. And maybe Queen, but that’s neither here nor there.

And John Lennon was a great songwriter. I’ll give you that. I love Plastic Ono Band, and Walls and Bridges is great, too. But the man was not a saint. He was arguably a terrible father and a horrible husband. His struggle for world peace, with the Bed-in and in his music, is pretty naive and kind of funny, if you think about it. If you were to tell me that his life was an Andy Kaufmanesque game he played with the public, I would believe you.

Why do we observe the anniversary of the death of John Lennon every year? And why do we seem to always mark Lennon’s death when we don’t observe the anniversaries of Marvin Gaye, Jam-Master Jay, or Freddy Mercury? Gaye was part of the Civil Rights movement, which, you know, actually made a difference. Jam-Master Jay helped to make Rap music acceptable for mass consumption. Freddy Mercury’s death helped make the public take AIDS seriously. These are all important people whose lives were tragically cut short, who all changed the word (arguably) for the better, and yet…nothing.

I get that this is the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death. It’s an aught year, so you get a pass this time. But I don’t want to hear about it again until 2020.

Please stop,


An Open Letter to Pitchfork by jason
June 12, 2010, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Open Letter | Tags: , ,

Dear Pitchfork:

I understand. Really, I do. MIA is kind of a trainwreck. She has ties to a group that is either a freedom fighting group or a terrorist organization, depending on who you ask. She is very vocal about her opinions. She recently posted the phone number of a journalist she felt misrepresented her in an interview. Fascinating stuff, for sure.

Here’s the thing…when you post these stories every day, and when you quote other people talking about how crazy she is, you are basically turning yourself into the National Inquirer of music journalism, and that is not journalism at all.

So, instead of going on about how contraversial MIA’s new album’s cover is (it really isn’t), or posting every time she scratches her ass, why don’t you wait until there is real news. I’m really kind of tired of hearing about her.


A Open Letter to KoЯn by jason
May 15, 2010, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Open Letter | Tags: ,

Dear Jonathan Davis et al.,




An Open Letter to Bands that Don’t Bring Merch to the Show by jason
March 31, 2010, 11:03 am
Filed under: Local Music, Open Letter, Shows, Why??? | Tags: , ,

Dear Bands That Don’t Bring Merch to the Show:

What the hell are you thinking?

This was a discussion I had with my friend Chris at that show I went to. None of the bands there were guilty of this, but Chris said that it happens more often than you would think. Sure, a band can say “We’re not doing it for the money…we just want to play!” and that’s fine. I feel ya. It’s about the art.

And, like, if you never made anything to sell, like no albums, no t-shirts, or no stickers, that’s fine. But if you have merch-and I know you do; I can see it on your website-you need to bring that. It’s not doing you any good back at the studio, You already paid to have it made, and you need to pay for gas to get to the show. Why not bring your shit? I’ll probably buy it.

I was at a show for a band that I absolutely love, and they plugged their new album, which they didn’t bring. When someone in the crowd asked the band about that, the lead singer said, “I didn’t know I was supposed to bring it!” Dude…you are here promoting the album. I mean, I love ya and all, but you should probably bring that, you know, just in case.

There was another show I went to…four bands played, and only the first band had merch. I know for a fact that at least one of the other bands has an album out, and after their performance, you’re goddamn right I would have bought the CD, but they didn’t have it. And, as they are a relatively local indie band, it’s not like I’m running to Best Buy to pick it up.

So, guys…bring your damn merch. I’ll buy it if you bring it. Seriously, do the thing.



An Open Letter to Amie St. by jason

Dear um…feedback people,

First off, I love your site. I download free music off of you from time to time, and I even put $20.00 on my account to buy music from the likes of the Mountain Goats, Elvis Perkins, and the Microphones. You have actually sold me, a die-hard physical format zealot, on digital format.

Your site is very easy to navigate, allows listeners to sample before they buy, and it has music broken into very precise categories for ease of browsing. This, however, is why I’m writing.

You see, I like surf rock. More specifically, I like instrumental surf rock. I listen to it when I write because it has a good tempo without the distracting lyrics. But that’s neither here nor there. So, I browsed your surf rock category, and I got things such as:

Unstress through Movement (a guided meditation CD)

Singing the Bible Scriptures! (which was mellow synth music with a woman reading, not singing, Bible Scripture, though that’s not your fault)

Hand Drum Instructional Vol.1 featuring Charity Nuse (Does what it says on the tin)

An Offering by Inner Surge (It’s Death Metal, but it claims to be Surf Rock AND Reggae)

etc., etc., etc.

And sure, amongst that music, I also Found The Surf Zombies, The Professors, and some surf guitar playing ex-stage magician called Jienexfore, all of which I may buy. However, it seems that the “Surf Rock” category is mostly made up of everything but.

Now, I realize that the bands probably put themselves into these categories, and I also realize that “Surf Rock” is probably a category that doesn’t get policed very often. I mean, there’s like 20 of us browsing it. But it is distressing when all I want to do is hear some drums, some bass, a guitar and maybe a trumpet or two, and I get Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy.

So, I really just wanted to make you aware of the situation. This isn’t a deal breaker…more of a minor annoyance than anything. Hopefully, you’ll look into this, but if not, I still love ya.

Hang loose,


Amie Street is a great digital music retail site. Go to and check them out!

An Open Letter to the Girl at the Music Store by jason

Dear Music Store Girl,


You look nice.

No, no, no…let me start again.

Um…so, I noticed that you put Pulp’s Different Class on the stereo. I like Pulp. A lot. Jarvis Cocker is the man, but I think that This Is Hardcore is a better album, but then again, I like concept albums, and I’m not as big a fan of dance music, not that Different Class is dance music, per se…

Oops. I’m rambling. Sorry. I do that. I have ADHD.

Why did I tell you that?!?

Wait…don’t walk away. I’m not hitting on you. I know better. There are rules. Rule #8 is “Don’t hit on the music store girl.” Everyone knows that. It’s right up there with #10, “Don’t hit on the hot chick who’s shopping at the comic book store.” You just don’t do it. Not unless you want to humiliate yourself. And I do not want to humiliate myself.

Hey, wanna hear something funny? Last time I was in here, I almost, almost bought a Lady GaGa CD, but I saw that you were at the counter with your little hipster glasses and your bangs, and I couldn’t do it.

I just humiliated myself, didn’t I?

OK, OK…I’ll get my music and go. Anything you’d recommend?

What do I like? Oh! Lot’s of things! Like, the Mountain Goats! And…um…

No, let me think…

Um…David Bowie? I’m sorry. You caught me off guard, that’s all. I mean, I write for this music blog, and I talk about music all the time. In fact, you might like it! It’s called…

You don’t read blogs? Oh.

Well…I’ve embarrassed myself enough here. I’ll get going, and leave you…

The Microphones! That’s a band I like! And Neutral Milk Hotel! And the National! Yeah!

Huh? Oh, you have to go on lunch? That’s cool. Hey, would you like to…

No? Ah. Rule #8. Sorry. OK. Bye.