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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top 25 Albums of 2009


#1 Yeah Yeah YeahsIt’s Blitz

Yes, I love Karen O and I'm not afraid to admit it.

#2 GallowsGrey Britain

"I keep a fresh razor blade in the sole of my shoes. It helps when I get stuck thinking of you."

#3 ConvergeAxe To Fall

They just keep getting better and better.

#4 Heartless BastardsThe Mountain

The record I wanted Lucero to write this year....if Lucero had a female singer who was a much better vocalist than Ben Nichols.

#5 The Devin Townsend ProjectAddicted!

Talk about appropriately named (if it was named Addictive! instead).

#6 SlayerWorld Painted Blood

SLAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#7 Deer TickBorn On Flag Day

Don't you love it when you accidentally stumble on a band and they wind up being a new favorite?

#8 MastodonCrack The Skye

Time Magazine may have given this record backhanded compliments, but even the mainstream now understands the genius of this band.

#9 The Big PinkA Brief History Of Love

Damn you Brit pop, you've done it again.

#10 Goes CubeAnother Day Has Passed

Take some Helmet and Quicksand, punk it up, then thrash it up and call it Goes Cube.

#11 U2No Line On The Horizon

Yes, the first single sucked, but the rest of the album sure as hell didn't.

#12 CoalesceOx

Mama said knock you out.

#13 KreatorHordes of Chaos

Old school thrash bands are supposed to retire or really fail in the quality control department as years go on. Kreator did not get that memo.

#14 The Company Bands/t

The best Clutch record since Pure Rock Fury.

#15 City Of ShipsLook What God Did To Us

God gave us this record.

#16 White LiesTo Lose My Life

Thanks for taking over for The Killers since they now suck.

#17 Future Of The LeftTravels With Myself And Another

"Lapsed Catholics are the worst."

#18 Alice In ChainsBlack Gives Way To Blue

This record was supposed to fail, but it just definitively proved that Jerry Cantrell is/was the brains behind AIC.

#19 KatatoniaNight Is The New Day

I used to refer to this kind of music as "dork metal", but now I can't because I finally get it.

#20 WolfmotherCosmic Egg

And Wolfmother gives the sophomore slump the middle finger.

#21 TombsWinter Hours

The New York metal renaissance continues...

#22 PelicanWhat We All Come To Need

Some people don't get this band. I'm not one of those people.

#23 A Place To Bury StrangersExploding Head

Sure they are ripping Jesus And Mary Chain off, but at least they are doing it well.

#24 Brand NewDaisy

Aren't these guys supposed to be generic pop punk/screamo crap?

#25 TelekinesisTelekinesis!

I'm supposed to hate this kind of indie rock. Supposed to.

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order):
  1. Agoraphobic NosebleedAgorapocalypse
  2. Animals As Leaderss/t
  3. BaronessThe Blue Album
  4. Brutal TruthEvolution Through Revolution
  5. Burnt By The SunHeart Of Darkness
  6. Neko CaseMiddle Cyclone
  7. Celeste Misanthrope(s)
  8. Dinosaur Jr.Farm
  9. Drive-By TruckersThe Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities and Rarities 2003 – 2008)
  10. DysrhythmiaPsychic Maps
  11. Patterson HoodMurdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)
  12. L’Homme Puma - On Remplace Les Yeux Cassés
  13. Howls/t EP (can’t wait for the full length!)
  14. If These Trees Could TalkAbove The Earth, Below The Sky
  15. Jason Isbell and The 400 Units/t
  16. Jay–ZThe Blueprint 3
  17. JesuInfinity / Opiate Sun
  18. Lucero1372 Overton Park
  19. NoisettesWild Young Heart
  20. RevocationExistence Is Futile
  21. Russian CirclesGeneva
  22. Scale The Summit Carving Desert Canyons
  23. SkeletonwitchBreathing The Fire
  24. Wolves In The Throne RoomBlack Cascade

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Ten Favorite "Singles" of 2009


#1 Jay-Z - "Empire State of Mind"

If you live in the New York City area, used to live there, dreamed of living there or just visited once and don't like this song, then something is seriously wrong with you.

#2 Matt & Kim - "Daylight"

I hate that I love a song by this goofy guy/girl duo from Hipster Heaven (Brooklyn), but a catchy song is a catchy song. And I'll be damned if the album isn't half bad either.

#3 Lions - "Girl From The North Country"

I wrote a post about this song back in September and am still listening to it non-stop. This is a perfect example of how to cover a song by a legendary artist (in this case Bob Dylan).

#4 Rammstein - "Pussy"

Sure the video was absolutely outrageous, but there is no denying that even with a shocking X-rated NSFW video and silly lyrics, this song will be stuck in your head for days.

#5 Foo Fighters – "Word Forward"

Under the name Foo Fighters, can Dave Grohl write a bad song?

#6 Flight of the Conchords - "Hurt Feelings"

Love the HBO show, but even without the visual elements, the songs stand up on their own.

#7 Foo Fighters – "Wheels"

In an earlier post I lamented about the fact that the Foo Fighters have never done a b-sides collection, but fortunately the two new songs from their greatest hits collection are available as single song purchases, so hardcore fans won't have so search too hard for them.

#8 Fireman - "Sing The Changes"

I've always been a Stones over The Beatles kind of guy (and as long as we're comparing classic rock titans, Sabbath over Zeppelin too), but there is no denying that Paul McCartney is an amazing songwriter. This year's single for his Fireman project is further proof of this.

#9 Telekinesis - "Tokyo"

If you are interested, then I wrote a little more about this song here, but this is just indie-pop goodness.

#10 Mark Sultan - "Hold On"

Who is Mark Sultan you ask? Well, I have no frickin' clue, but one of his songs wound up on my iPod and I can't get enough of it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell 1966-2004

There isn't really much to say that hasn't already been said about the untimely and tragic murder of Dimebag Darrell. Pantera's Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display Of Power and Far Beyond Driven were a huge part of the soundtrack of my youth and remain some of my favorite albums of all time. I feel blessed to have seen them perform live multiple times and not to brag (well, ok maybe a little bit), but was especially lucky to be afforded the opportunity to watch them from the side of the stage on a couple Ozzfest dates in 2000. I never actually got to meet Dime on that tour, but by all accounts he was nothing short of being the salt of the Earth. His murder on December 8, 2004 impacted the metal community with a force equal to that of John Lennon's senseless murder on popular music fans back in 1980 on the same exact day. May they both rest in peace and their music live on forever.

"Walk"



"The Art Of Shredding"



"Cemetery Gates"



"I'm Broken"



"5 Minutes Alone"



"This Love"

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Year In Live Music

People always comment to me that I go to "a lot of concerts", but the reality is that I only went to 45 shows this year. To some people that might be a lot, but considering there are 365 days in a year, I really didn't spend that much time at live concerts. Anyway, here is a list of what I saw:

1. Metallica w/ Machine Head 1/31 Prudential Center Newark, NJ
2. Metallica w/ Machine Head 2/1 Prudential Center Newark, NJ
3. The Black Keys w/ The Heartless Bastards 2/7 Terminal 5 New York, NY
4. Lucero 2/8 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
5. Los Campesinos! 2/15 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
6. Jimmy Eat World 2/23 Terminal 5 New York, NY
7. Tapes ‘N Tapes 2/25 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
8. Jason Isbell 2/26 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
9. Scion Rock Fest 2/28 The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
10. Hall & Oates 3/2 Irving Plaza New York, NY
11. Kreator 4/8 Nokia Theatre New York, NY
12. Dredg/Torche 4/19 Highline Ballroom New York, NY
13. Russian Circles 4/27 Maxwell’s Hoboken, NJ
14. Melvins 5/15 Webster Hall New York, NY
15. Isis w/ Pelican and Tombs 6/2 Irving Plaza New York, NY
16. Jane’s Addiction w/ Nine Inch Nails 6/6 PNC Arts Center Holmdel, NJ
17. Patterson Hood and The Screwtopians 6/24 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
18. Dinosaur Jr. 6/25 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
19. Explosions In The Sky 6/30 Central Park Summerstage New York, NY
20. Frank Turner 7/9 DC’s Hoboken, NJ
21. Summer Slaughter Tour 7/20 Irving Plaza New York, NY
22. Paul McCartney 7/21 Citi Field New York, NY
23. Deer Tick 7/24 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
24. Torche 7/26 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
25. Green Day 7/27 Madison Square Garden New York, NY
26. Ratt w/ Extreme 7/28 Nokia Theatre Times Square New York, NY
27. AC/DC 7/31 Giants Stadium East Rutherford, NJ
28. The Bouncing Souls 8/20 Webster Hall New York, NY
29. Nine Inch Nails 8/25 Terminal 5 New York, NY
30. Kings Of Leon 9/12 Izod Center East Rutherford, NJ
31. U2 9/23 Giants Stadium East Rutherford, NJ
32. Sunny Day Real Estate 9/27 Terminal 5 New York, NY
33. Yeah Yeah Yeahs 9/29 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
34. Bruce Springsteen 9/30 Giants Stadium East Rutherford, NJ
35. Them Crooked Vultures 10/1 Stubb’s Austin, TX
36. Deer Tick 10/2 Emo’s Jr. Austin, TX
37. Austin City Limits Festival 10/2-4 Zilker Park Austin, TX
38. The Gaslight Anthem 10/15 Terminal 5 New York, NY
39. Mastodon/Converge 10/30 Hammerstein Ballroom New York, NY
40. The Black Dahlia Murder/Skeletonwitch/Toxic Holocaust/Trap Them 11/3 The Crazy Donkey Farmingdale, NY
41. Wolfmother/The Heartless Bastards 11/9 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
42. Metallica/Lamb Of God 11/14 Madison Square Garden New York, NY
43. Metallica/Lamb Of God/Volbeat 11/15 Madison Square Garden New York, NY
44. Pixies 11/23 Hammerstein Ballroom New York, NY
45. Pixies 11/24 Hammerstein Ballroom New York, NY

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Is What You Voted For

In the wake of President Obama's recent announcement that he plans to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, I've noticed a lot of my liberal leaning friends (and a lot of liberals in general) are up in arms. There have been accusations that Obama is acting no different from his predecessor and that the U.S. has no business fighting wars in Afghanistan. I like to remind them that is exactly what they voted for when they cast a ballot for Obama.

One of Obama's major platforms while campaigning for President was that he wanted the U.S. out of Iraq. At the same time, he did always say that he felt the U.S. needed to finish the job in Afghanistan. Somewhere along the line, a lot of his supporters started seeing Obama as a peace sign flashing hippie that was going to pull the U.S. military out of every foreign country they occupied. Many focused so strongly on the fact that he wanted out of Iraq that they completely ignored his constant reminders that he planned on being aggressive with Afghanistan. Now they are all crying foul. And I just like to remind them that this is exactly what they (and I) voted for.

Personally, I don't believe the U.S. will leave Afghanistan until Bin Laden's head is on a stake or that intelligence can confirm that he has died of natural causes. But, even with the head of the snake removed, there will still be a push to make sure his successors are eliminated. With the tragedy of 9/11 weighing heavily on our collective minds still and for years to come, I believe no President, regardless of political affiliation, is going to want to stop going after Al Queda on their home turf of Afghanistan until there is concrete evidence they have been defeated or at least had their resources so badly depleted that they cannot be a threat for the foreseeable future. So, instead of bitching and moaning that Obama "lied" or is committing some great injustice by doing EXACTLY what he said he was going to do, let's just hope that we really do get the job done in the 3 year time frame he has predicted.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Insert Witty Tiger Woods "Driver" Joke Here

The past three days I've been hunkered down in my apartment trying to beat a winter cold into submission with lots of hot tea and Sudafed before the holiday party season commences this weekend. I'll admit to being a total couch potato on Monday and plowing through all the shows on my DVR, but yesterday and today I've kept the TV off for the most part and have focused on listening to recently acquired remastered albums by Judas Priest (7 total), Kiss (4 total) and Journey (2 total) along with a few other older releases by Lou Reed, Into Another and Bathory as well as spinning some 2009 releases that I wanted to hear again from the likes of A.F.I., Future Of The Left, The Noisettes, Brand New, Them Crooked Vultures, Wolfmother and Lucero. While listening to music is of course a delightful endeavor (in most cases), I did find the need to take time to multi-task while listening to it and do things like online shopping for Christmas gifts, write blogs and partake in one of my favorite hobbies: keeping up on current events.

[I'm going to apologize for the lack of eloquence in this rant in advance as I am a bit loopy from a combination of Sudafed and lack of sleep, but hopefully my point will come across somewhat coherently.] Unless you have been living under a rock the past few days, then you, like the rest of the world, are well aware of the fact that professional golfer Tiger Woods had a car accident a few days ago which has subsequently led to rumors of him having cheated on his wife. I understand that someone as well known as Tiger Woods getting in a very suspect looking car accident and then details emerging that perhaps it was because he was attempting to get away from his nine iron wielding wife are going to pique the public's curiosity, but the attention the media is giving it is well beyond the point of good taste. Honestly, I shouldn't be shocked considering these are the same folks that felt Britney Spears shaving her head was headline worthy, but I simply cannot help but continue to be disgusted by the fact that celebrity gossip that was once relegated to more appropriate media channels like TMZ, OK!, US Weekly, The National Enquirer, etc., etc. is now considered essential coverage by the major news outlets.

I'll pick on CNN because they are one of the worst offenders. Here is their current headline listing:

Latest news

Granted, there are some interesting and relevant news stories listed here, but honestly I do not come to CNN to read about who Hulk Hogan is banging or revelations that the mom from Family Ties is gay or that Facebook has added new privacy features. And for foooooook's sake...Susan Boyle? Really? I mean for the love of all that is holy, they couldn't find something more NEWSWORTHY to write about? A human interest story about a non-celebrity (although, I guess arguably Susan Boyle could fall under this category)? A fire department getting a kitten out of a tree? Something? Anything?

Tiger Woods cheated on his wife. People are outraged. You know why? Because people are stupid. As I type this, do you know how many married men and women are out there right now schtupping someone that isn't their spouse? More than any of us could probably guess. I'm not condoning cheating at all, but a celebrity stepping out on their spouse is not more important than the fact that Obama is about to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan or that the New York state Senate killed a bill today that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state or that some psychopath in Cleveland killed 11 women and buried them in his yard. And spare me the role model argument...they are people too and therefore imperfect.

It is easy to solely blame the media for this, but the fact of the matter is that the public shares in the blame because they eat it up and keep the cycle rolling. As much as it pains me to say it, I do have to applaud Fox News for taking a stand against our celebrity obsessed culture and for the most part keeping their headlines to harder news. Of course they do still cover the celebrity stuff because that is what the sheep demand, but at least they don't make it front and center like the majority of their peers.

Poor Tiger Woods had sex with a really hot cocktail waitress and now his really hot model wife is mad at him and we all want to watch. How about we all f off and leave them alone while he and his wife try to explain to their kid (yes, they have more than one, but the baby is obviously too young to know what is going on) what is happening and let them work this out on their own. We would all want the same privacy if our personal lives were in turmoil. Nobody likes someone meddling in their business now do they?

Anyway, didn't I say something about Judas Priest, Kiss and Journey earlier?

Judas Priest "Devil's Child"



Journey "Any Way You Want It"



Kiss "I Love It Loud"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

List Mania (Updated)

I had a couple late additions to the list of albums that came out in 2009 that I am the proud (in some cases) owner of. From the below list, my Top 25 for 2009 will emerge in the next two weeks or so. The two people who read this blog are probably dying of anticipation.
  1. AFI – Crash Love
  2. Against Me! – The Original Cowboy
  3. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalypse
  4. Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
  5. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Century Of Self
  6. Animals As Leaders – s/t
  7. Baroness – The Blue Album
  8. Brendan Benson – My Old, Familiar Friend
  9. Between The Buried And Me – The Great Misdirect
  10. The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
  11. Billy Talent – Billy Talent III
  12. Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand
  13. Brand New – Daisy
  14. Brutal Truth – Evolution Through Revolution
  15. Built To Spill – There Is No Enemy
  16. Burnt By The Sun – Heart Of Darkness
  17. Cannibal Corpse – Evisceration Plague
  18. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
  19. Celeste – Misanthrope(s)
  20. Chairlift – Does You Inspire You
  21. City Of Ships – Look What God Did To Us
  22. Clutch – Strange Cousins From The West
  23. Coalesce – Ox
  24. Coalesce – OX EP
  25. The Company Band – s/t
  26. Converge – Axe To Fall
  27. Crooked Fingers – Forfeit/Fortune
  28. Dead Weather – Horehound
  29. Dear Hunter – Act III: Life And Death
  30. Deer Tick – Born On Flag Day
  31. The Devin Townsend Project – Addicted
  32. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
  33. Dredg – The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
  34. Drive-By Truckers – The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities and Rarities 2003 – 2008)
  35. Dysrhythmia – Psychic Maps
  36. Steve Earle – Townes
  37. Eminem – Relapse
  38. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
  39. Flight Of The Conchords – I Told You I Was Freaky
  40. Future Of The Left – Travels With Myself And Another
  41. Gallows – Grey Britain
  42. Goes Cube – Another Day Has Passed
  43. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
  44. Greymachine – Disconnected
  45. PJ Harvey – A Woman A Man Walked By
  46. Heartless Bastards – The Mountain
  47. Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know
  48. Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)
  49. L’Homme Puma - On Remplace Les Yeux Cassés
  50. Howl – Howl
  51. Katatonia – Night Is The New Day
  52. If These Trees Could Talk – Above The Earth, Below The Sky
  53. Iron Age – The Sleeping Eye
  54. Isis – Wavering Radiant
  55. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – s/t
  56. Jay–Z – The Blueprint 3
  57. Jesu – Infinity
  58. Jesu – Opiate Sun
  59. Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage
  60. Kreator – Hordes of Chaos
  61. Kylesa – Static Tensions
  62. Lamb Of God – Wrath
  63. Lucero – 1372 Overton Park
  64. The Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing
  65. Marcy Playground – Leaving Wonderland…In A Fit Of Rage
  66. Mastodon – Crack The Skye
  67. Matt and Kim – Grand
  68. Megadeth – Endgame
  69. Mono – Hymn To The Immortal Wind
  70. Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem
  71. Muse – The Resistance
  72. MUTEMATH – Armistice
  73. Napalm Death – Time Waits For No Slave
  74. NOFX – Coaster
  75. Noisettes – Wild Young Heart
  76. Obscura – Cosmogenesis
  77. Pelican – Ephemeral
  78. Pelican – What We All Come To Need
  79. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
  80. Poison The Well – The Tropic Rot
  81. Portugal. The Man – The Satanic Satanist
  82. Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
  83. Revocation – Existence Is Futile
  84. Russian Circles – Geneva
  85. Scale The Summit – Carving Desert Canyons
  86. Shadows Fall – Retribution
  87. Shrinebuilder – s/t
  88. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
  89. Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire
  90. Slayer – World Painted Blood
  91. Sonic Youth – The Eternal
  92. Telekinesis – Telekinesis!
  93. Them Crooked Vultures – s/t
  94. Tombs – Winter Hours
  95. U2 – No Line On The Horizon
  96. Weezer – Raditude
  97. Where The Wild Things Are – Soundtrack (Karen O. and The Kids)
  98. White Lies – To Lose My Life
  99. Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg
  100. Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade
  101. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

Them Crooked Disappointments

I have been very excited about Them Crooked Vultures since I first heard about this collaboration between rock greats Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). After a few months of waiting for a release date for the album to be announced and getting to see the band play live not once, but twice, the finished product has been released and I've gotten the opportunity to sit with it from beginning to end. All I have to say is that I wish the excitement I felt after seeing them live had been translated into the recorded work. Considering the collective resume of the band members, this album is definitely a disappointment.

The first 8 tracks are solid. Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly a fun listen. After that, the album loses steam for the remaining 5 tracks. The problem is that having roughly 38% of your album be a snoozefest ultimately drags down the entire thing. The biggest issue is really Josh Homme. Having him take sole responsibility for the lead vocals on this album ultimately winds up being the fatal flaw. The last two Queens of the Stone Age albums (Lullabies To Paralyze and Era Vulgaris ) have been fairly dramatic drop offs from the genius that was their first three albums and that is due in large part to the departure of Nick Oliveri from the band. Oliveri was the "punk rock" or "balls" of the band and while he didn't sing a ton of songs, having his vocals break up the songs on the second and third albums every once in a while was a key component to them being so damn good (the first album is great simply because it is much heavier than the rest of their material). If Dave Grohl had sang maybe 3 or 4 songs on Them Crooked Vultures debut, then I think that would have been a significant influence in increasing the quality of the record. With Homme handling all the vocals though (I guess Grohl wanted to stick behind the drum kit for this one), the album ultimately winds up sounding like a continuation of the more recent (and lackluster) Queens of the Stone Age material. The playing is great (as would be expected from these guys), but there is an X factor missing from the overall sound that makes this album, at best, simply OK.

On the bright side, at least they didn't totally shit the bed like Weezer did on this year's absolute train wreck of an album Raditude.

Rockin' Out: Pixies @ Hammerstein Ballroom 11/23 & 11/24




Once again, more terrible Blackberry camera pictures, but at least one or two of these wound up looking sort of "artistic" (using that term very loosely) because of the funky lighting.

The Pixies rolled into New York City on Monday November 23rd to play the first of four gigs at Hammerstein Ballroom. I had tickets for both Monday and Tuesday nights' shows (the 3rd and 4th would both be played on Wednesday night...an early show and a late show) and was looking forward to great sets both nights as I have seen them a few times since they first started doing "reunion" tours in 2004 and they are awesome live. The catch about this tour was that they are touring on the 20th Anniversary of their album Doolittle and would be playing that album in its entirety along with select b-sides from that era at each show. Not a big deal as Doolittle is great from front to back and I assumed the Pixies would play at least another hour's worth of songs from the rest of their catalog to make for a full 2 hour set. Unfortunately, my assumption was wrong.

I am very familiar with the four studio albums by the Pixies, but admit to not being as studied on their B-Sides collection(s). On both nights the band opened with four b-sides and then went into playing Doolittle from beginning to end. The b-sides were cool, but I will admit to not recognizing any of them. At one point on Monday night, the bassist Kim Deal asked if anyone planned on coming Tuesday night and was met with a decent amount of cheers before saying something along the lines of "Well, you are going to get the same exact set tomorrow night!" Well, she was somewhat telling the truth. Monday and Tuesday were identical sets up until the encores. For the encores, Monday night we got "Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)" and "Into The White" (both b-sides), "Isla De Encanta" and "Nimrod's Son" (both from the Come On Pilgrim EP) and "Where Is My Mind?" and (one of my top three favorite Pixies songs) "Gigantic" (both from the excellent Surfer Rosa). Tuesday night we got "Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)" and "Into The White" again, followed by "Broken Face" (from Surfer Rosa), "Caribou" and "Ed Is Dead" (from the Come On Pilgrim EP) and "Planet Of Sound" (from Trompe Le Monde).

I've never met a Pixies song I didn't like, but I have to say these sets left me wanting. Each night was around 90 minutes of playing and I (along with the rest of the crowd) would have loved at least another 30 minutes of songs from their other three studio albums. Of the two nights, Monday had the better encore set list, but that was somewhat dampened by a very annoying and aggro crowd in attendance that evening. A fight complete with punching, shoving and beer throwing broke out during the song "Tame" (the second song on Doolittle) and there was a general hostile and stand off-ish vibe in the air that night. Even hanging towards the back to get away from the crowd proved an unappealing option because it was a bunch of drunks talking through the entire set and making it very difficult to hear the band (the irony of yelling and screaming about how much you love a band while completely ignoring them playing on a stage in front of you was apparently lost on these people). Tuesday night's vibe was by and far much more pleasant and it was actually fairly easy to maneuver to and from the bar through the crowd during the band's set.

One other note, the band did have a cool light show and interesting movie-like snippets playing on the screens behind the stage which always enhances the live experience when seeing a band in a larger venue.

"Debaser"



"In Heaven (The Lady In The Radiator Song) / Gigantic"



"Hey"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rockin' Out: Metallica/Lamb Of God/Volbeat @ Madison Square Garden 11/15/09









As you can see, having an elevated vantage point at Madison Square Garden did not help me take better pictures. One of these days I will remember to bring my actual digital camera to the show with me.

This past Sunday night was Round 2 with Metallica at Madison Square Garden. I was hoping it would be an improvement on Saturday night's show which was not bad, but certainly not great and fortunately my hopes would be fulfilled.

The first difference between this night and the prior night was that we were seated in a lower level section off the floor which allowed a much better view of the entire stage and would also prove to offer significantly better sound quality. The second difference was that we got to the venue in time to see show openers Volbeat. I already discussed my history with Volbeat and subsequent reversal of opinion upon seeing them live in an earlier post, so I'll just simply reiterate that this is a great live band that is well worth checking out.

Next up was Lamb Of God who had felt a little lackluster the night before, but with the improved sound of our new seats they came across as much more lively and energetic as I have come to expect from their live performances. I have to say that they didn't exactly look comfortable on a stage that large and I certainly don't see them as being the heir apparent to Metallica's arena filling throne [Slipknot is really the only metal band of the next generation that is in the running for that title which is unfortunate because the genre desperately needs some more bands to get in that queue, but that is a discussion for another day], but there is no denying that they have some great songs and can play well live. I was happy to hear personal (and apparently crowd) favorites like "Now You've Got Something To Die For", "Walk With Me In Hell", "Laid To Rest" and "Redneck". I do love LOG and look forward to seeing them again in the future, but perhaps in a more appropriate sized venue.

Feeling pretty happy with Volbeat and Lamb Of God's performances, I was getting a gut feeling that the evening was headed in the right direction. Earlier in the day I had mentioned to some friends that the concert would be ideal if Metallica played "Dyers Eve", "Fade To Black" and their cover of Killing Joke's "The Wait". In the land of Metallica fandom, hearing "Dyers Eve" live is considered to be a real rare treat, so my hopes were minimal that I would actually get to hear that or "The Wait" although I did have a pretty good feeling that "Fade To Black" was a at least a better than average possibility. Metallica stormed the stage and just like the night before opened with "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End Of The Line" from Death Magnetic. They then proceeded to absolutely level the place with "Creeping Death", "The Shortest Straw" and "Fade To Black". Those three songs in a row already placed this evening's show far above the night before, but Metallica wasn't done yet. After four more songs from Death Magnetic (including the excellent "My Apocalypse" and "The Judas Kiss" neither of which had been played the night before) and set list standards "Sad But True" and "One", they delivered the killer one-two punch of "Master Of Puppets" into "Dyers Eve". I was two out of three on my wish list and couldn't be happier. Next up was two more standards in "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman" and then the band exited the stage to prepare for the encore. On this tour, Metallica always plays a cover song as the first song in their encore, so I was anxiously awaiting to see if my luck was good enough to get "The Wait". I didn't get it, but I did get the always awesome Misfits' cover "Last Caress" before they went into "Trapped Under Ice" from Ride The Lightning. Like "Dyers Eve", this was the first time I was ever getting to see the band play it live and I was absolutely floored. The night closed with another standard in "Seek And Destroy" and Kirk Hammett was doused with what appeared to be whip cream pies in celebration of his birthday at the end of the song by road crew and members of the opening bands.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend of live metal music courtesy of Metallica and further proof that they are more than deserving to be one of the biggest bands in the world.

Volbeat "The Garden's Tale"



Lamb Of God "Laid To Rest"



Metallica "Fade To Black"



Metallica "Dyers Eve"



Metallica "The Shortest Straw"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Def Conversation With My Mom

Excerpts from an email conversation I had with my mom yesterday:

Mom: Weird, I was just wondering what DEF means in rock terms and then saw the album cover (there are DEFs other than Leppard, if I'm not mistaken - Deftones, etc.). Do you know?

Me: Yes, Deftones are another "Def" band. No others on my radar.

Mom: Isn't there a Def somebody in hip-hop?

Me: Ah yes, Mos Def.

Mom: See, I'm right on top of this shit!

Me: Ha, yes you are!

Mom: BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Me: Def can be slang for "definitely" and in hip hop it usually means for lack of a better term "awesome". Def Leppard was just mimicking Led Zeppelin and intentionally misspelled the word.

Mom: As in Awesome Leopard?

Me: No, this was before it was popularized by hip hop culture. They were trying to do something like Led Zeppelin....lead zeppelin...Def Leppard...deaf leopard.

Mom: Gotcha - that's kind of what I thought, but then the hip-hop thing confuses it.

Def Leppard "Rock Of Ages"



Deftones "Back To School"



Mos Def "Life In Marvelous Times"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rockin' Out: Metallica/Lamb Of God @ Madison Square Garden 11/14/09




So much for my Blackberry camera improvements. One step forward and two steps back.

Metallica descended upon Madison Square Garden for the first of two nights this past Saturday. They had Lamb Of God and Volbeat in tow as openers and as I was ready for a night of fun. We opted to have a beer or two after dinner instead of watching Volbeat (which I would find out the next night was a bad call) and enjoyed a few rousing Metallica sing alongs with the rest of the faithful at the bar. Texts started to come in that Lamb Of God was going on at 7:45, so we rushed across the street to get inside The Garden for the show. That night we were going to be standing on the floor and watching Metallica perform on an "in the round" stage as they have been doing for quite a while now. After being redirected to a different entrance, we made our way to the floor a song or two into Lamb Of God's set. I have seen Lamb Of God live enough times that I don't remember exactly how many times I've seen them now, but I do know that they are usually quite good. A friend that was with us had never seen them live was ready to be blown away after the talking up myself and a few others had given the band. Unfortunately, we were proved mightily wrong as they sounded terrible. Not like they weren't playing well, but more QUIET. We would later come to find that the particular spot we were standing in was to blame for the poor sound quality and not the band or their sound guy. Anyway, interest was lost quickly and we spent most of the set talking and not paying attention.

After LOG finished up, everyone began to prepare for the main event. I've seen Metallica a bunch of times since the early '90s and they are one of the premiere live rock bands of not only their generation, but I'd dare say of all-time. Having already seen them on this tour twice back in January/February, I knew to expect a bunch of songs from Death Magnetic mixed in with older material. My fingers were crossed that they would again ignore Reload and St. Anger and mercifully my prayers were answered (they also ignored Load, but I don't mind that album, so would have been OK with a song or two from that album). After their intro music, they hit the stage and cranked out "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End Of The Line" from Death Magnetic. Again, the sound was a little off and a few songs later my friend would discover that a new spot to stand in was all that was needed to hear the band better (I'm assuming this had something to do with the positioning of the speakers above the stage). Once that issue had been settled we were treated to classics like "Fight Fire With Fire", "Master Of Puppets", "One", the Bob Seger cover "Turn The Page" as well as the Diamond Head cover "Helpless" and show closer "Seek And Destroy". That being said, I wasn't wild about the night's set list (which you can see in it's entirety here), but even on a night where the set list may not be what you hoped for, Metallica is still better than most bands out there in the live setting.

We left MSG happy, but not blown away. Thankfully, the next night would prove to be a completely different story......

Lamb Of God "Black Label"



Metallica "Fight Fire With Fire"



Metallica "Broken, Beat & Scarred"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Turbo Lover

The past two weeks I have been on a major Judas Priest kick. As a teenager, Judas Priest was on my radar, but I wasn't as into them as their peers Iron Maiden and Motorhead. I don't have a really detailed answer as to why I wasn't as into them as other bands of their stature...I just wasn't. Hits like "Breaking The Law", "Living After Midnight", "You Got Another Thing Coming", "Painkiller" and so on and so forth were always fun to hear or see the videos for, but I never went out of my way to check out Judas Priest.

As time marches on and my love for metal grows and my musical palate continues to become more refined, I've gone back and discovered and rediscovered many older metal bands that I skipped over when I was first exploring the genre. Judas Priest is one of those bands I've rediscovered. I will admit to kicking myself a bit for letting them pass me by on the first go round, but thankfully they are still out there touring and putting on quality live shows (not unlike the aforementioned Iron Maiden and Motorhead) and the recorded music is still a fantastic snapshot of where they were back then.

There seems to be a general consensus on what Halford-era Priest albums are the best of the bunch (British Steel, Screaming For Vengeance and Painkiller among others) and which albums are stinkers (Turbo and Ram It Down). On a recent episode of VH1 Classic's "That Metal Show", Slayer's Kerry King and Dave Lombardo talked about how terrible they think Turbo is. Again, the awfulness of Turbo seems to be an across the board opinion among Priest fans, but this left me wondering....am I the only person who likes this album? Honestly, I really don't think it is that bad at all. Perhaps it is a product of me not being that into the band back in the 80's and therefore not feeling that this was a "sellout" record. Sure, maybe they were trying to fit in with the hookier synth sound that was happening at the time, but at least they did a good job with it. I'd rather listen to it than anything Bon Jovi was doing at the time.

Does it measure up to just about anything else they did up to and including Painkiller? Not at all, but it is hardly the pile of steaming dog crap most people make it out to be. I think "Turbo Lover" is one of the catchier Priest songs ever written.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Heavy Metal Social Distortion

Social Distortion is a cool band. I am not a mega fan, but the self-titled and Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell albums are definitely fun listens. So why am I talking about Social Distortion?

Last night, I saw a band called Volbeat open up for Metallica and Lamb Of God at Madison Square Garden. A few months ago I had heard one of their songs on Sirius, thought it sounded pretty interesting and went to their Myspace page to hear some more. I remember not being particularly impressed and subsequently forgot about them. When I heard they were opening for Metallica, it didn't even cross my mind to get to the show early and check them out; however, the folks I was headed to the show with did want to see them, so I tagged along and went in with low expectations. One of the better feelings one can have in life is when expectations are not only exceeded, but blown out of the water.

Volbeat struck me as a metallized version of Social Distortion (both bands share an obvious and proud affinity for Johnny Cash) or like Sweden's Transport League with a rockabilly influence. The fact that they covered a Cash song and a Misfits song in the same set, have a song called "Mr. & Mrs. Ness" (which I assume is a nod to Social Distortion main man Mike Ness) are opening for Metallica and are from Denmark about says it all. I was truly impressed with their brief 30 minute set....so much so, that as soon as I got home I went on Amazon and purchased their album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood and listened to it right away. I was relieved to find that the album held up to the power of the live show. I guess when I listened to them the first time around I just wasn't in the mood for their style of music (and let's face it, listening to music on Myspace is a terrible way to first experience a band). I'm curious to see them perform in a smaller venue and with a longer set, so here's hoping they continue to tour in the States next year.

"Radio Girl"



"Mary Ann's Place"



"We"



"The Garden's Tale"



"Sad Man's Tongue"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back In The Day: Death Metal Album Covers

These days most of us are acquiring our music digitally through either legal or illegal channels. I think it is great that music is more widely available than ever before, at much lower costs and that catalog once thought hopelessly impossible to find is now just a few keystrokes away, but one thing I do miss is the experience of going to the record store and looking at album artwork. I can't recollect how many albums I bought growing up without ever hearing a single note just because the album cover looked awesome. On the one hand, it is great that we can sample anything before we purchase it, but on the other, there was a great deal of fun involved in diving into the unknown based purely on the visuals accompanying the packaged music.

When I was a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, one of my favorite Saturday activities was to go to Tower Records and dig through the CD racks (and cassette racks for a while) and listening booths to find new albums to buy. Much to my delight, 0ne of the Tower Records locations I frequented had a section dedicated to metal. I was never the biggest death metal guy in the world and only listened to a handful of bands (who I still love and listen to today), but I did get a huge kick out of looking at the album covers while sifting through all those metal CDs. I recently ordered a copy of Death's Leprosy online. That is one of the death metal album covers from my youth that really sticks out in my memory and it got me thinking about what other covers really grabbed my eye back in the day. Not all of the bands below are considered death metal, but they were at a minimum considered part of the extreme metal scene at the time.