Last Year First

Hardcore pop-punkers From First to Last have built a reputation for neck-vein-busting live shows, burning up this summer's Warped Tour and more recently tearing through the mid-American states. Drummer Derek Bloom cites corn-fed crowds that are "completely out of control" — hungry for the screamo-tinged aggression of FFTL's 2004 Epitaph debut, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count — for his band's boundless energy. Outtakes reminded him that the L.A. dwellers haven't yet returned home to Florida, where punk bands get bigger crowds than a World Series-winning baseball team.

Outtakes: So you guys are from Gainesville, right?

Bloom: No. That's printed, but it's not the truth. We're all from different states, and we met in Orlando. Right before we moved out to Los Angeles, we moved to Gainesville. We lived there for like six months, in this shithole apartment. And everybody publishes that we're from there.

Are you excited to spend the New Year's holiday in Florida?

Oh yeah, we'll be there for New Year's — that'll be pretty awesome. I don't really go back there as much as I'd like. I miss Florida a lot — I have a lot of good memories there, so it's always fun to go back.

Tell us your best memories of New Year's Eve — from first to last.

My first favorite New Year's party was at my friend Nicole's house in tenth grade. She lived in a mansion in Pasadena — it was pretty killer. Somebody threw a cake on the floor of her kitchen, and people were walking over it all night.

My second favorite New Year's [was in] New York City. Being in NYC for the first time, on New Year's, was pretty incredible.

And the last one, I think, would be — God, my brain is fried; I can't even remember New Year's a few years ago. I don't know, maybe I'll look forward to this New Year's in Tampa. [I'll be] spending it with my girlfriend and all the guys in the band, kind of where we're from. — Stephen Feller

From First to Last plays at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 27, at Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. #12 Looks Like You, Chiodos, and Dead Reckless open. Tickets to the all-ages show cost $12. Call 954-727-0950.

Bah... PC Bug

Last month, it was revealed that Sony Music BMG had been covertly installing spyware on their new CDs to combat music piracy. Sony used a program called XCP, created by U.K. firm First 4 Internet, that employed a cloaking system to hide the proprietary media player that consumers were forced to download in order to play Sony Music CDs. Software included with that media player "remains hidden and active" after installation. According to the attorney general of Texas — who, along with the State of California, launched a class action lawsuit against Sony — this anti-piracy scheme makes users vulnerable to security risks and identity theft.

While critics and lawmakers balked, a computer virus pales in comparison to some of the other ideas tossed around by Sony executives to combat music piracy this holiday season. Here is a partial list of the strategies that were, fortunately, rejected.

Ebola. Feeling that the viral approach had been successful though not fully exploited, Sony executives decided to leave traces of the Ebola virus in CDs marketed to "high risk" customers — i.e., indie-rock, hip-hop, and Latin markets. In an internal memo leaked to Internet muckrakers (really!), Sony CEO Andrew Lack remarked to board members that while this audience constitutes only 40 percent of their market, it is responsible for 90 percent of downloads. "Once we weed out a few hundred thousand bad apples," Lack said, "we'll be able to sell directly and without interference to our loyal customers."

The Reintroduction of the 8-Track Format. Realizing that profit margins had been higher before they began to endlessly tinker with their music formats, Sony briefly considered once again tinkering with their music formats. The long-forsaken 8-track was a leading contender for re-introduction since it was a predigital format that held an ironic allure for hipster consumers and a nostalgic appeal for older consumers — both of whom are target markets for Sony's hopeful holiday breakout CD, Neil Diamond's 12 Songs. The idea was nixed when Sony executives concluded that they would personally find it difficult to snort cocaine off 8-track cases.

Continuing Stream of Shit Music. Understanding that piracy is essentially a byproduct of music fandom, Sony decided that the less excited their customers were about the music they were purchasing, the slighter the chance they would want to swap and share files via the Internet. While this move would appear to be self-defeating, Sony Music execs felt that there was a large-enough market for compulsory purchases, sales based on marketing/ packaging, and quickly disposable novelty hits (see aforementioned Neil Diamond album) to sustain a multibillion-dollar market of completely worthless music. And the best thing about this strategy was that neither Sony nor any other major label had to dramatically shift the way it does business. — Sam Chennault

The Hanukkah Songs

In an unfortunate confluence of the Hebrew and Christian calendars, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 25, which means that Jews will have to deal with the ol' "Hanukkah? Isn't that the Jewish Christmas?" thing from unenlightened goyim a lot more than usual this year. Still, when it comes to music, Jewish songwriters and performers have played no small part in fostering such confusion. Ya got 19th-century Parisian Jew Adolphe Adam, who composed the enduring Christmas carol "O Holy Night." And of course, Irving Berlin, the Russian-born Jew who wrote "White Christmas." And don't look to Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow to represent the Tribe — both of them have put out two Christmas albums and zero Hanukkah albums. Other wayward Jews include Michael Bolton, Kenny G, Sleater-Kinney (2/3 Jewish!), and Yo La Tengo — which, back in 2002, actually had the beytzim to hand out a free EP of Christmas songs at its annual Hanukkahpalooza eight-night stand in its native Hoboken, New Jersey! Until this situation is righted, here's what we're stuck with during this Festival of Lights:

Adam Sandler, "The Chanukah Song": Dubiously amusing the first time around, Sandler's outing of Jewish celebs as a matter of pride is about as painful a repeat listen now as "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." And Jewish grandmas don't really like that line, "Smoke your marijuanakkah."

Barenaked Ladies, Barenaked for the Holidays: Following in the footsteps of such musical Canadian Jews as Leonard Cohen and William Shatner, Barenaked Ladies frontman (and resident Semite) Steven Page led his wretched band through Hanukkah songs like "I Have a Little Dreidel" and "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" — all of them making "One Week" sound like "Hey Jude" in comparison.

Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics: This holiday album from the creators of South Park does include the genuinely funny, Stan-sung lament "The Lonely Jew on Christmas." But be warned: Great-Uncle Shlomo might not appreciate the Cartman-as-Hitler version of "O Tannenbaum."

The LeeVees, Hanukkah Rocks: A valiant effort from this Jewpergroup led by Adam Gardner (of Guster) and Dave Schneider (of the Zambonis), this just-released album comes closer than anything in recent memory to delivering legit new Hanukkah songs but still crumbles under the weight of the overall gimmick. "Latke Clan" and "Jewish Girls (at the Matzoh Ball)" sound like Hanukkah on the Kinks' tour bus circa 1966, while "Applesauce vs. Sour Cream" plays like a Hebrew They Might Be Giants (They Might Be Nudniks?). Not bad, but not likely to stand the test of time.

Neil Diamond, 12 Songs: While not exactly Hanukkah-related, this is one fine comeback album from Diamond (aka "The Jewish Elvis") produced by Rick Rubin, that nice Jewish boy from Long Island. Crank this, then spin that friggin' dreidel and hope for the best. Go, gimmel! — Michael Alan Goldberg

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sam Chennault