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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Rules, The Other Sort Of Drools

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW AGAINST ME! AND DEFTONES ALBUMS

I am a huge fan of Against Me! and the Deftones, both of whom have new albums coming out this year that have leaked on the internet ahead of their street dates. Having worked for record labels from 1999-2005, I'm not much for illegally downloading music as I know how much work goes into prepping these releases by both the artists and the label and feel that stealing music from bands that you are a fan of isn't cool. Then again, times are tough and spending your hard earned dough on music that you don't know for 100% certain is going to be good doesn't seem to make much sense, so if the albums are already out there, then why not grab them, listen to them and if you deem them worthy of your cash, then buy the albums when they are released or support the band by paying to see a show or picking up a piece of their merch if you so choose.

With that last theory in mind, I gladly accepted when a friend offered me digital copies of both Against Me!'s White Crosses and Deftones Diamond Eyes. Like I said, I am a huge fan of both bands and don't feel like waiting months to hear their new albums....I want to hear them now. And if I really love the albums, then I'll pick up physical copies when they arrive in the stores, but if they aren't very good, then I know to avoid them. [I mostly acquire my music in digital formats these days, but for bands that qualify as "all-time favorites" or are a new artist that I'm really, really into, I buy the actual CD, so that I can leave it in my stereo and put it into heavy rotation...when something is just on my iPod I tend to forget it is there and wind up not listening to it much. But this is a subject for another post on another day.] Nothing wrong with a test drive before buying right?

I liked the first half of Against Me!'s last album New Wave, but wasn't wild about the second half and would say it is easily their weakest album. My initial impression of White Crosses is that it is a continuation of the sound they were going for on New Wave which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it isn't a particularly great thing either. I neither loved nor hated this album. It wasn't offensive to the ears, but it wasn't pleasing either. Maybe it will grow on me after a few listens, but I'm not sure I'll ever get around to giving it those few more listens.



Both the title track and "Rocket Skates" from the upcoming album Diamond Eyes by the Deftones have been making the rounds for a while now. I like both songs and upon first listen think the rest of the album is pretty damn good. I'm not sure it is quite Around The Fur or White Pony levels of great, but it appears that the Deftones have delivered yet another winner.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday March 30, 2010 New Music

There is only record coming out today that has piqued my interest, but I am particularly excited about it...

Black Breath are from Seattle, but sound nothing like the bands that put that city on the musical map back in the '90s. To get an idea of what you are in for, check out the list of bands they cite as influences on their Myspace page: Poison Idea, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Bastard, Deathside, Sacrilege, Anti Cimex, Mob 47, Crucifix, Discharge, Dismember, Entombed, Nihilist, Necrophobic, Grave, Death, Autopsy, Slayer, Possessed, Master, Sodom, Kreator, Morbid Saint, Repulsion ("Black Breath" is the title of a Repulsion song which was later covered by Entombed), Accept, Trouble, Black Sabbath, Danzig. I'll admit to being unfamiliar with 8 of the bands on that list, but that makes no difference as I am very much a fan of the majority of the bands listed. Swedish Death Metal mixed with stoner rock and thrash metal? Yes please. Throw in the fact that Kurt Ballou of Converge fame produced it and you've got a recipe for success. Their debut Heavy Breathing comes out today via Southern Lord Records (a respected metal label that is also home to acts like Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room, St. Vitus, Pelican, Pentagram and a host of others) and I imagine it will wind up being one of the more exciting metal debuts of 2010.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rockin' Out: The Big Pink/A Place To Bury Strangers @ Maxwell's 03/28/10

Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ is a fun place to see a show. The room is tiny, but as long as you can get yourself a decent place to stand, it is really a great place to see live music (as an added bonus, the restaurant portion of the club serves pretty decent food and if you can manage to get a seat at the bar, it is a good spot to hang). I've seen a handful of amazing performances there including Los Campesinos!, Russian Circles and my personal favorite, Queens of the Stone Age when they were touring on their self-titled debut album. Last night's sold out The Big Pink/A Place To Bury Strangers was a continuation of the streak of killer performances I've seen at Maxwell's.

Seeing A Place To Bury Strangers live in such an intimate setting definitely required ear plugs as this band is LOUD. This is unsurprising considering the heavy Jesus And Mary Chain and Joy Division influences that are so readily apparent in their sound as those two bands weren't known for being quiet. The band was hidden on the stage by a smoke machine and lights that mainly pointed out towards the audience and kept the between song banter to a minimum (practically non-existent actually), so this was a non-stop attack of heavy distorted bass, thundering drums and feedback heavy guitar. Individual songs weren't sticking out much as there was just a complete wall of sound that was washing over the crowd. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Their sophomore album, Exploding Head was on my Top 25 of 2009 and this performance only sold me even more on this band.

I picked up The Big Pink track "Velvet" as part of a free iTunes sampler early last year and was instantly impressed. I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of their debut album "A Brief History Of Love" last year and upon its release was not disappointed. It was not only in my Top 25 of 2009, but placed #9. Every song is really catchy and the songs translated very well live. Like A Place To Bury Strangers, the banter was kept to a minimum and the focus was on the music. I wasn't sure what the set up of the band was going to be in a live setting as there is a lot of sampling on their album. As it turns out, one of the two full-time members is the sampler/programmer/keyboardist and the other handles the guitar and vocals. Rounded out by a touring bassist and drummer (who was a pretty cute Asian girl...or at least I thought so, my girlfriend got a good look at her when she bought a t-shirt from her after the show and said she wasn't that pretty, but whatever...you can make up your own mind by watching the live footage included below), they were tight live and there was certainly no "bathroom break" moments during their set.

I really loved both performances last night, look forward to seeing both bands live again and recommend that you don't skip on the opportunity to see them when they play near you.

The Big Pink "Dominos"



The Big Pink "Velvet"



The Big Pink "Too Young To Love"



A Place To Bury Strangers "In Your Heart"



A Place To Bury Strangers "Ocean"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quoth Me, 'Hell Yes, New Nevermore!'

I've been a huge fan of Seattle's Nevermore since I first heard their 2000 release Dead Heart In A Dead World. That album and Dreaming Neon Black are my two favorite albums by them, but everything they've put out is pretty solid in my opinion. If you've never heard them, then imagine Queensryche going thrash metal and you've got a decent idea of what you are in for.

Nevermore's last album, This Godless Endeavor was released in 2005. It has been a long wait for new music from them (although singer Warrel Dane put out a surprisingly good solo record in 2008), so I was quite happy to see an announcement today that they will be releasing their new album The Obsidian Conspiracy on June 8th. The press release says that it "could be their most impressive offering of their illustrious decade plus, heralded career", but hubristic claims like that are standard for new album press releases and should always be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, as I mentioned above I like everything they have put out, so I expect the record will be at least good. The below teaser has a 30 second snippet of a song and it sounds pretty thrashtastic:



While we wait until June 8th for the album to be released (or for it to leak on the internet next week), here are some songs from previous albums:

"Believe In Nothing"



"Enemies Of Reality"



"Born"

Hold Your Horses! Actual Art In A Music Video

I haven't cared about new music videos since around 2005 when I last worked for a record label and had a vested interest in the quality and success of the videos of the artists we were working with. Since then I've watched probably less than 50 current music videos between MTV2, VH1 and YouTube. I just don't care about the art of the music video anymore. For example, I LOVE Metallica, but haven't bothered to watch one of the videos from their Death Magnetic release in their entirety. Now, I will watch old videos on VH1 Classic for nostalgia purposes, but that is about it (Metal Mania, Totally 80's and One-Hit Wonders anyone?). [Full disclosure: I don't even watch the videos I post on this blog. I watch about 30 seconds to make sure it is the actual song, cut and paste the embed link and call it a day.] So today I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself sitting through a music video of a band I'd never heard before and even more surprised when I made it all the way through to the end and actually wanted to watch again.

I know nothing about Hold Your Horses! and don't even find this song particularly great, but I do like the concept of the video. I was tipped off to it by my daily newsletter from Very Short List who describe the video as:

"Their concept was simple: reenact—using face paint, cardboard cutouts and lots of drapery—a lineup of classic paintings while performing their new song. Their portrayals are impressively orchestrated, surprisingly accurate and really pretty funny. For Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson, an otherwise stiff corpse fingers a keyboard; Da Vinci’s The Last Supper features Jesus pounding a pot with a couple of salad spoons; and Botticelli’s Venus strums an advantageously placed guitar."

Definitely more interesting than your run-of-the-mill performance video by a rock band or blingy bling bling video by a hip-hop artist.

Check it out:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday March 23, 2010 New Music

I've been a Dillinger Escape Plan fan since their Under The Running Board EP came out in 1998. The band has weathered lineup changes, injuries and controversy (at least within metal circles) throughout the course of their career and kept coming back stronger on each new release. While some people griped that their last album Ire Works was too "commercial" sounding, I thought it was their best album to date. Their new album Option Paralysis comes out today and from what I've heard it is the next logical step in their musical evolution. A no-brainer of a purchase most certainly.



Back in January, the Scorpions announced their retirement. Sting In The Tail is their final release and will be followed by 3 years of world wide touring. I'm assuming (and hoping) that when they tour they will be paying close attention to their monster hits from the 80's and early 90's and not concentrating too heavily on promoting the new album, but that isn't too say that I don't think the new album will be any good. I own almost all of the Scorpions 90's and 2000's output and the albums I do own are really good. Klause Meine is an incredible singer and Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs are incredible guitar players, so I'm sure the album has at least a few songs that will be a treat for fans of the band.

[Check out the cameos in the below EPK from The Gossip, Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Andreas Kisser from Sepultura.]



Six Gallery is a band that a buddy of mine turned me onto a few months ago. If Minus The Bear is your thing, then you should check this band out.

Running With Pop Punk

This morning I woke up with a cold trying to settle in and thought it would be a good idea to hit the treadmill and see if I could sweat it out of my system. The jury is still out on whether it is ultimately going to have proved helpful or useless, but I did get a chance to hear two pop punk gems that I haven't heard in a long time.

I have an 80GB iPod and a 160GB one. I use the 80GB when I exercise and it is basically all metal and punk rock songs with the occasional random band outside of those genres thrown in, so I normally just hit shuffle and see what happens. This morning was dominated by metal (got no less than three Between The Buried And Me songs within the 60 minutes I ran), but mixed in with all that metal was two personal favorite pop punk songs of mine: Blink 182's "Josie" and MXPX's "Chick Magnet".

I've had a soft spot for pop punk since I first discovered Blink 182's Dude Ranch and while I don't like the majority of pop punk bands, Blink and MXPX are definitely two personal favorites. Going to have dust off some of their albums and give them a listen in the near future.



Monday, March 22, 2010

Rockin' Out: Scion Rock Fest in Columbus, OH 03/13/10

Last year, Scion (yes, the car company Scion which is owned by Honda) held their inaugural Scion Rock Fest in Atlanta, GA. The lineup was pretty killer and featured Mastodon, Neurosis, Pig Destroyer, Converge, Baroness, Kylesa, Coalesce, Torche, Skeletonwitch, Wolves In The Throne Room, High On Fire, Salome, Withered and a ton of other bands from the underground/extreme metal scene spread out across four stages at The Masquerade, a popular concert venue in Atlanta. I was in attendance and had a grand 'ol time, so when it was announced that there would another Scion Rock Fest this year, myself and a few friends decided to make the trek again.

The location was announced first, so we booked our flights for Columbus, OH. Columbus, OH did not sound like it would be as fun as Atlanta, but we were still up for the trip....after all, it never hurts to go somewhere you've never been before right? Then the lineup was announced and just like the location, it was not quite as exciting as last year's. Don't get me wrong, with Cannibal Corpse, Shrinebuilder, Voivod, D.R.I., Brutal Truth, Ludicra, Pelican, Magrudergrind and others, this was nothing to sneeze at, but it was definitely lacking the quantity of heavy hitters that were on board the previous year.

Some of the folks I was traveling with were continuing on from Scion to the annual SXSW Festival in Austin, TX and had rented themselves a completely pimped out RV to drive them from Columbus to Austin. The RV was going to be leaving from Indianapolis, IN, so we flew there for an evening [And had an amazing dinner at Weber Grill, but I'll leave the food blogging to my friend Rev over at Burger Conquest. Check out what he had to say about our meal at Weber here.] and departed for Columbus the next morning. The RV was dubbed the SlayRV (get it?) and was essentially a mini tour bus complete with driver (thanks for driving Mark!), bunks, satellite TV, refrigerator, stereo system, etc. We set out for Columbus with a fridge stocked full of beers, bacon, red meat and cheese, Iron Maiden cranking on the stereo and were looking forward to an evening full of metal spread out across four clubs on Columbus' High St. [But the first stop upon arrival in Columbus was The Thurman Cafe to try one of their famous burgers. Again, check Burger Conquest to see what my friend Rev had to say about these ridiculously good burgers.]

Just like last year, I knew I wasn't going to be able to see every band I wanted to because there was simply too many bands playing and you can't be two places at once. This year was going to prove even more difficult because unlike last year where all the stages were inside (and outside) the same club, there were four different clubs hosting the bands. There were two clubs separated by a couple of blocks on one end of town and another two clubs separated by a couple of blocks on the other end of town with a distance of about one mile between the two ends of town (got that?). There were shuttles running from one end of town to the other, but you had to wait for the shuttle to show up, etc. or you could simply make the 20 minute walk from one end of town to the other. Either way, you lost a decent chunk of time getting from point A to point B, so you had to plan your schedule around that. I based my plan around seeing bands I'd heard a buzz about, but had not seen live or heard at all, bands I really, really wanted to see and bands that I could skip based on disinterest or knowing that they would be coming to NYC soon. Surprisingly, I more or less stuck with my plan of attack and walked away a fan of four bands I'd never heard before and not disliking one set I saw. Not bad!

Now on to the music (and my usual crappy pictures):

The first band I saw was Black Tusk. They are a relatively new Relapse signing from Savannah, GA. In my opinion, any band Relapse signs is worth checking out and like so many of their bands, Black Tusk was thoroughly impressive. It was horns up metal with elements and the groove of stoner rock, but without getting too jammy...think a thrash band playing sludge metal...or "swamp metal" as their Myspace page says. Fans of Eyehategod, Baroness, Rwake, Mastodon, Coalesce, etc. would definitely enjoy this.


The next band I saw was not one I had planned on seeing, but my buddy Rev (of the aforementioned Burger Conquest) talked me into checking out Oakland, CA's Saviours. I had somewhat dismissed this band because I had heard the tag "stoner rock" and they are on the same label as the grossly overrated The Sword who are definitely part of the hipster metal/stoner rock scene that I am not a fan of, so I had them pegged as guilty by association. Well, there are definitely elements of stoner rock to their sound, but this is more stoner rock by the way of Iron Maiden and it really works well. The guys have serious chops and held my attention through their entire set. And much to our surprise (and pleasure) Wino (St. Vitus, Shrinebuilder, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan) jumped up on stage and kicked out a jam with them.

The next band I wanted to see was conveniently playing immediately after Saviours in the same club, so we simply stuck around and waited for Baton Rouge, LA's Thou to come on. This band had a painfully long sound check and I'm not sure whether the club's sound man or the band was to blame, but either way I was very close to leaving when they eventually started playing. These guys are definitely sludge/doom metal of the Eyehategod, Salome variety, so their choice to open with a cover of Nirvana's "Aneurysm" was an interesting and ultimately successful one. The problem was that they only played two other songs afterward because they had gotten off to such a late start. I would have loved to hear more, but what I did hear was enough to make me grab a copy of their album Tyrant from the merch booth. I listened to the album today and it is solid. Very much looking forward to hearing more from them in the future.

After Thou, we hitched up to the other end of town in an attempt to catch some of Liturgy's set, but unfortunately did not make it in time. We did wind up catching Black Anvil's set though and I was floored. Definitely my favorite band of the weekend. They are some seriously blackened thrash metal and it is hard to believe that just three guys are creating this sound. Last year, Skeletonwitch had much the same impact on me and I'm now a huge fan of theirs and I quite expect the same thing to happen with Black Anvil. I've already picked up their album Time Insults The Mind and haven't had a chance to listen to it in full yet, but the three tracks I did listen to were amazing.

D.R.I. was most certainly on my must see list as I have been a fan since high school, but have never seen them live before. We didn't catch the beginning of their set and didn't stay for the entire time due to wanting to get back to the other end of town for the next band, but we caught a healthy chunk of it and as expected it was a lot of fun. D.R.I. plays thrashed up punk hardcore, so you pretty much get the point after a couple songs, but what an enjoyable couple songs those were. Hopefully I can catch them doing a headline set if and when they roll through NYC next.

The band we left D.R.I. early to see (or rather that I made everyone leave D.R.I. early to see) was Magrudergrind. Their self-titled 2009 release was one of my favorite albums from 2009 that I didn't hear in 2009, but rather in 2010. They basically sound like a grindcore band doing Entombed covers or vice versa. However you want to say it, it rules. Unfortunately, we caught two sonic bursts and then they were done. Yet another band to try and catch when they roll through NYC next.


After Magrudergrind was Brutal Truth. I really dig Brutal Truth and had heard that they are a great live band, so I wanted to see these grindcore legends up close and personal. Brutal Truth (like most grindcore bands) isn't about songs, but more about the overall experience of the album (and in this case the live set) as all the "songs" blend together in a vicious whirl. You either love it or you hate it. I happen to love it and thought their set was really impressive, but the most impressive part was the drummer, Rich Hoak. The man must literally be half machine because the speed and ferocity of his drumming doesn't seem plausible for a human being to be able to pull off. And he isn't simply bashing the drums with no sense of rhythm. If you slowed the guy down, then this would be very groovy sounding stuff. Amazing.

At this point in the evening we had been imbibing for a couple hours, our ears were bleeding (even with earplugs all night) and we were getting a little hungry, so most of the crew was itching to get back to the SlayRV for some snacking and post-show beers. I decided to split off from the pack and try and catch the second appearance from Wino that evening, this time with the band he had shown up to headline with, Shrinebuilder. Wino waltzed out on stage, hit one thunderous chord and I was instantly toast. I headed back to the SlayRV to sit down, relax, have a beer and listen to some Motley Crue. So, I can't tell you how the rest of Shrinebuilder's set was, but if it was anything like that first chord, then the crowd was destroyed.

The next day I arrived at the airport eager to fly home, but ultimately my flight was canceled due to bad weather in NYC, so I had to stay an extra night in Columbus (unbelievably and believably at the same time, the same exact thing happened last year, except for that I was stuck in Atlanta for two days as opposed to one day in Columbus). If you ever find yourself stranded in Columbus, OH, then I suggest staying at the Best Western by the airport. The staff is very friendly and helpful, they'll give you a distressed passenger rate and you have McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, Waffle House and Donato's right near your lodging. If there is a Scion Rock Fest next year, then I hope it is in driving distance of NYC.

P.S. FUCK DELTA AIR LINES! Every other airline was getting their planes out of there and safely to NYC, but they had to cancel and then refused to pay for anyone's hotels or even offer meal vouchers. I will never fly that airline again and I hope they go bankrupt. Poor customer service in this economic climate is inexcusable.

Ear Candy Classic: Pantera "Far Beyond Driven"

16 years ago last week, Pantera's Far Beyond Driven was released and 16 years ago this week, that album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. This wasn't the first metal album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 during the Soundscan era (that honor belongs to Skid Row's Slave To The Grind), but it is definitely the heaviest and arguably the best metal album to do so.

I was already a huge Pantera fan because of their two prior releases, Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display Of Power, so I was greatly looking forward to this album. I was 18 years old, about to turn 19 and nearing the end of my first year of college and not too many of my friends in college were into metal, so I didn't really have anyone to share my enthusiasm with over this record until I went home for a visit and hung out with my high school buddies who were also huge Pantera fans. Fortunately my buddy Greg had (and still has) a very open mind about music and used to let me watch MTV in his dorm room (he and his roommate were one of the few people with not only a TV, but cable in their room in our dorm...we used to have awesome Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place viewing parties in there, but I digress...) and I remember very clearly watching the video for "I'm Broken" in his room.

Pantera had broken through to the mainstream without radio or massive MTV exposure, topped the charts and now MTV was coming to them to play their videos....and at 3pm in the afternoon no less. It may sound silly, but it felt like a victory for not only the band, but their fans and metalheads all over the world as well. Normally bands like Pantera were relegated to Headbanger's Ball, but now here was our music on MTV being shoved down the throats of everyone in the middle of the day! Sure, Metallica, Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne and metal bands of that nature were all over the channel too, but Pantera was much more extreme than any of them and certainly didn't have the support of radio that the others enjoyed. And this really became a turning point for me and my tastes in metal music as I went out and bought Eyehategod and Crowbar albums because Phil Anselmo was wearing shirts by those bands in the video. Those two bands were my first real taste of underground/extreme metal (outside of a handful of death metal bands that I was into) and I haven't looked back since (and couldn't be happier about it).

Most metalheads will tell you that Vulgar Display Of Power is THE Pantera album and I won't disagree with that, but Far Beyond Driven is a very, very, very close second in my opinion. I associate it with a lot of good memories and love that it was my "gateway drug" to more extreme metal. Unfortunately, this would prove to be Pantera's last truly great album as the two albums that followed, while really good, just couldn't measure up.

I'd like to embed all the music videos that were released for this album, but the embedding is disabled on YouTube for most of them because somebody at the band's label or in the band's camp really doesn't want to give up that 1/1000th of a cent that would be lost if I and every other Pantera fan in the world shared the videos on blogs, Facebook and Myspace pages, Twitter, etc., so instead I've just linked to those videos. These are just the "singles" that were released and aren't even necessarily the best tracks on the album. The whole thing is a masterpiece from song 1 through to song 12 (and it was a stroke of genius on the band's part to close the album with a cover of the Black Sabbath ballad "Planet Caravan" as the first 11 tracks are just so heavy that this cover provides the perfect comedown after they are over).

"I'm Broken"

"5 Minutes Alone"

"Planet Caravan"

Congratulations To MGMT On Their Album Leaking

Two weeks ago I posted about the new MGMT single "Flash Delirium" from their forthcoming album Congratulations. Over the weekend, the entire album leaked on the internet (as is the way things go these days) and in response the band posted the album in its entirety on their website for streaming with the following statement:

"Hey everybody, the album leaked, and we wanted you to be able to hear it from us. We wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn't make sense to anyone but us"

Sounds like the label and/or management nixed them on making the album available for free, but most likely the label since they are signed to Columbia which is a division of Sony and for better or worse, there is no way on God's green earth the powers that be at a major label would give an album away for free even if it actually did make the most sense. I'm sure Columbia's lawyers are busy today...

Anyway, check out the album here. I gave it a listen this morning and found that it was not as immediately engaging or catchy as their debut, Oracular Spectacular, but I get the sense that this album is one that will grow on me after a few listens. At least now I won't have to wait until April 13th to make those few listens happen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sadly, The Cover Is Probably Better Than The Music

The above is the artwork for the forthcoming self-titled Stone Temple Pilots album. Is it just me or does that image say "THIS ALBUM IS GOING TO SUCK"......

If the artwork hasn't completely scared you off, then you can hear the first single "Between The Lines" at the Rock It Out! Blog. The blogger, Sami Jaroush (who used to be a VJ on Fuse...now there is a real claim to fame) seems to be pretty nuts about the song, but I'm not impressed. It is certainly not awful, but it just sounds like a retread of earlier STP material and like they phoned it in during the writing process.

I didn't expect that the band's comeback record would top Core, Purple or even No. 4, but I was hoping it would be better than the hit or miss Tiny Music...Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop and the generally bland Shangri-LA DEE DA. Based on the first single, I think it will just be another average (possibly even below average) record from a once great rock band. On the bright side, at least a new Stone Temple Pilots record is better than another Scott Weiland solo record or Velvet Revolver record.

Dave Grohl Likes Coffee

This isn't as funny a comedic showing as Dave Grohl's appearance on SNL, but still fairly amusing:



Maybe the coffee jitters were why the Them Crooked Vultures album was so "meh"......

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy \m/ St. Patrick's Day!

Thin Lizzy "Still In Love With You"



Metallica "Whiskey In The Jar"



Mastodon "Emerald"



Supersuckers "Cowboy Song"



Against Me! "Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong"



Dropkick Murphys "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced"

Here Comes The Predators



I thought Predator and Predator 2 were both great movies. Not cinematic masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination, but they are definitely great for what they are supposed to be....action flicks with cool looking aliens/monsters. I saw one of the two Alien vs. Predator movies that was released and wasn't that impressed, but technically those were not sequels. The upcoming Predators is the official third movie in the series and upon first hearing mention of it, I assumed it would be pretty stupid. Then I saw the above teaser and have to say that I think it looks like it has potential. Laurence Fishburne, Adrien Brody and Topher Grace are a solid cast to build a movie around and I also see that Walter Goggins (The Shield, Justified) is a featured actor in the film, so that earns it bonus points in my book.

I won't be rushing to the theaters to see this on July 9th when it is released, but it'll definitely be in my Netflix queue for when it is released on DVD.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Will I Be Justified In Watching This?



Justified is a new series premiering tonight on FX. FX, in my opinion, has established a very good track record with original series (The Shield, Sons Of Anarchy, Damages, Rescue Me, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The Riches and even Nip/Tuck before that series jumped the shark in a major way), so it feels like a no-brainer to give this a shot. If you haven't seen the above trailer or any of the other ones, then you can read a description of the series here. Basically, it appears to be the story of a bad ass lawman named Raylan Givens with some skeletons in his closet (played by Timothy Olyphant who nailed more or less the same role on Deadwood) returning to his hometown and entering into a conflict with a former associate of his named Boyd Crowder who is now a bank robber (played by Walton Goggins who was beyond excellent as Shane, the bad guy you loved to love on The Shield).

And for you literary enthusiasts, it might be of interest for you to know that the character of Raylan Givens was actually created by famous writer Elmore Leonard.

I have high expectations for this show and hope they are met!

More New Music This Tuesday

In addition to all the new albums being released today, we are also getting a very cool album stream and two new tracks to preview from bands with releases coming in the next two months.

First, an album stream from the mighty Dillinger Escape Plan whose new album Option Paralysis comes out next week. You can stream the album in its entirety on the band's Myspace page and also pre-order the new album in a few different physical formats. The packaging is pretty inventive and well worth the $$$ if you are a collector type who loves that kind of thing.

Second, the Deftones have released another new track from their forthcoming album Diamond Eyes. This time it is the title track and unsurprisingly it is completely awesome (but be forewarned that the sound quality is a bit lacking...I'm guessing this is probably a leak):



If you missed the first single that was released, "Rocket Skates", then here is the official video:



Third and last but not least, Ratt continue to defy logic by releasing another song from their new album that is actually GOOD. I could hardly believe it when I heard the first single and enjoyed it, but this second song is beginning to make me think that Ratt may have actually written a killer record. I've heard from a few friends whose opinions I trust that have heard the entire thing that it is a terrific album, but I'm still slightly skeptical. Guess we'll all find out when it is released next month.

Tuesday March 16, 2010 New Music

Normally I go in alphabetical order when listing new releases that I'm interested in, but I'm letting The Whigs cut the line because I am on my third listen today of their excellent new album In The Dark and I've listened to nothing else but because this record is just hitting the spot and I can't get enough. There is not a wasted track on here and practically every one is instantly memorable.

I've heard The Whigs called both alt-country and garage rock and both of those labels are grossly inaccurate. Their last album Mission Control was my #3 record of 2008 and there was nothing alt-country or garage rock about it...it was just a straight up fun alternative rock record. Hell, the second track on that album, "Production City" actually sounds like a lost INXS track (more "What You Need" than "Never Tear Us Apart"). This new record still has some elements of that late '80s alternative rock sound, but is more akin to the alternative rock that absolutely dominated modern rock stations in the '90s. If In The Dark had been released 15 years ago, then it would have ruled the airwaves and MTV along with Marcy Playground, The Toadies, Semisonic, The New Radicals, Smashing Pumpkins and another band that got a start out of the The Whigs hometown of Athens, GA, the legendary R.E.M. Now you might be scoffing and thinking that doesn't sound appealing at all, but I'm not saying that they sound like any of those bands or are in any sense a retro band at all. The record simply has a similar vibe to that sound....great playing, hooks, catchy choruses and nothing processed or fake sounding about it. And be honest with yourself and remember that you LOVED all those bands' hits and have a lot of their songs and/or albums on your iPod.

I can't recommend this record highly enough and fully expect it to be in my Top 10 for 2010, if not in the Top 5.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

Armored Saint is one of those bands that always got the respect, but never the fame. I mean, they weren't ignored to the degree that a band like Anvil was, but that is because they actually had fantastic songs (sorry, I think Anvil pretty much sucks and it is completely understandable why they never went anywhere...still loved the documentary though). I had always heard Armored Saint's name mentioned a lot when I was a teenage metalhead, but didn't actually get one of their albums until 1991's Symbol Of Salvation came out. After it was released, their singer John Bush left to join Anthrax and that was more or less the end of Armored Saint. They did have reunions and new releases after that, but I've never heard any of those albums. As time has gone on I've found that Symbol Of Salvation has really stood the test of time as has their excellent debut, March Of The Saint. That being said, I figure La Raza is worth giving a shot because the band has never had any misfires in their career that I am aware of, are great players and John Bush is a top notch metal singer.

I've written about my extreme fondness for the Drive-By Truckers and how excited I am about this album already, so I won't bore you with another gushing post about how they are one of the greatest bands on the planet, but if you aren't on board with this band already, then you need to get off your ass and get with the program. People talk about how The Hold Steady are going to save rock n roll, but even THS would tell you that the Drive-By Truckers are the true saviors of rock n roll and I have no doubt that The Big To-Do will be further evidence of that.

[Fun fact: Just like R.E.M. and The Whigs, DBT also calls Athens, GA home.]



Back in January, I wrote about this album's cover and how I was thinking about completely avoiding hearing Landmine Marathon and just buying the album based on the artwork and seeing if my instincts were right just like I did when I was a teenager. Well, I was unable to avoid hearing the band as my favorite metal website, MetalSucks wound up streaming the album in its entirety last week and I couldn't resist hearing it. While my will power may have been weak, Landmine Marathon's music is most certainly not. Sovereign Descent is definitely recommended for fans of classic Earache Records' bands like Carcass, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and the like and for those who think metal-core, death-core and whatever else-core is boring, formulaic and severely lacking in creativity. And while it makes me feel a bit sexist to say it, I still can't believe that is a woman singing...she puts a lot of the boys in the metal game right now to absolute shame!

Speaking of female metal singers, Ludicra is another female fronted band dominating the extreme metal scene. I've been meaning to write a post about them since I was turned on to them a few months ago, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Along with Wolves In The Throne Room, Tombs, Liturgy and Black Anvil, Ludicra is part of a wave of bands (if not the leaders of said wave) putting American black metal on the map in a major way. The Tenant is their newest release and I actually picked up a physical copy of it this past weekend at Scion Rock Fest as they were playing there (unfortunately I didn't seem them play live for a couple different reasons, but basically because I knew they were playing NYC next month and that would be a better time and venue to see them live), but haven't gotten around to listening to it just yet. [And yes, you've probably noticed a pattern of me obtaining albums, but not having listened to them yet...any music junkie will tell you that it is hard to keep up with all these new releases and you don't want to listen to something until you are in the proper mood for that style of music because first impressions are hard to undo.] Their prior two releases Fex Urbis Lex Orbis and Another Great Love Song are jaw droppingly good and the band seems to have the right amount of momentum and buzz surrounding them for this album to be the one that takes them to the next level.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Firing More Of My Brain Cells

I'm always preaching about how much I hate reality television and telling people that I never watch it. The "reality" though is that I do watch a a few shows. Top Chef and Undercover Boss are two that I am hooked on, but the argument could be made that those are in a dramatically different league than say, The Real World (ie. they aren't trash television). But one show I did watch every single episode of that is in the same league as The Real World is The Jersey Shore. Arguably the lowest of the low in reality television, it is nonetheless a cultural phenomenon, so I like to say that the pop culture junkie and sociologist in me is what finds it so fascinating. And let's face it, there is something oddly charming about that cast of characters...well, maybe not The Situation...that guy is definitely a legit douche. The only other reality show I "watch" is not one I am a regular viewer of. Not unlike The Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives Of Orange County is akin to a bad car wreck....you don't want to look, but you do anyway. I don't set my DVR to record this show and I don't even know exactly when it is on, but if I stumble across it while channel surfing, then I definitely stop. I've probably caught in the ballpark of 10 episodes over the past two seaons and find basically zero redeeming qualities in any of these people, but can't help but watch these vapid idiots go through the motions for an hour (Vicki is by far my most hated....she is evil incarnate).

I've never watched Donald Trump's The Celebrity Apprentice or the original The Apprentice, but I am feeling compelled to watch the season premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice this Sunday. I'm not sure if my defenses have been weakened (ie. brain cells diminished) from watching The Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of Orange County, but the prospect of Bret Michaels, Sharon Osbourne, Goldberg, Sinbad, Cyndi Lauper, Holly Robinson Peete, Michael Johnson, Rod Blagojevich, Darryl Strawberry and a few other celebrities (who I'm admittedly not familiar with) in a competition run by Donald Trump is just too intriguing.

I'm thinking that I am dangerously close to falling into the abyss of reality television by giving this show a try. Could it be a gateway drug? Will I all of the sudden be making excuses for myself to watch Dancing With The Stars and American Idol? Or even worse....The Bachelor?

I'm scared.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Flash Delirium

MGMT's debut Oracular Spectacular was one of my Top 5 favorite releases of 2008. As much as I wanted to dismiss all the hype surrounding the band due to their association with the Williamsburg hipster scene, there was simply no ignoring how incredibly catchy, hooky and brilliant the album was. They have a new album coming out on April 13th entitled Congratulations and the first single from it, "Flash Delirium" is now making the rounds on the 'ol internet.

It sounds nothing like anything on Oracular Spectacular. The intro is actually reminiscent of a Flight Of The Conchords song minus the incredibly funny lyrics and then proceeds to head in a bunch of different directions...Jethro Tull flutes, The Beatles in their drug crazy Sgt. Pepper's/Magical Mystery Tour years, doo wop, spastic keyboard heavy garage rock from the '60s and probably a few other styles I can't quite identify just yet. It isn't as immediately catchy as their previous material and that doesn't mean it is bad, but this is one of those songs where I'm going to have to spend some more time with it before finding out whether I like it or not. I'm curious about the album...a buyer from Newbury Comics said in a Facebook post today that "Believe it or not, this is one of the LEAST weird songs on it [the new album Congratulations]." Hmmm...that's either a really good thing or a really not so good thing. Guess I'll have to wait until the album drops and decide for myself.

You can download the single for free from the band's website or listen to it on Pitchfork.

Tuesday March 9, 2010 New Music

I LOVED Coheed And Cambria's first album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, but they proceeded to lose me on the two albums that followed, In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 and Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness. By the time their fourth album, No World For Tomorrow rolled around, I had completely lost interest in them. Last year I caught them performing at the Austin City Limits Festival and found my interest in them rekindled. I had forgotten what a stellar live band they are and have been meaning to revisit their albums ever since. I finally got around to listening Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV Volume One again yesterday and really got into it. So today when I got my weekly email newsletter from Amie St., I was psyched to see that they are offering a download of Coheed's new single "The Broken" from their upcoming album Year Of The Black Rainbow for free. I'm not sure if this is an edited version and if a longer, different version will appear on the full length, but this is a great 4 minutes of prog hard rock. As Coheed tends to be more of an album oriented band as opposed to a singles band, this shows promise for the rest of the record being pretty solid. We shall see come April 13th when it is released.

Dark Tranquillity are considered O.G.'s in the Swedish melodic death metal scene. I have two of their albums, Damage Done and Character and like them, but don't listen to them a ton. They are definitely one of those bands that I've always meant to spend more time listening to, see live, etc., but unfortunately simply haven't gotten around to it yet. Since they are considered fairly consistent in their output, there is a good amount of excitement surrounding the release of their new album We Are The Void. Personally, I'm more apt to first check out their 1995 album The Gallery which was recently inducted into the Decibel Hall Of Fame, but will hopefully get around to hearing both in the near future.



Just kidding.



I saw Titus Andronicus open for Los Campesinos! about a year ago and thought they weren't too shabby. The singer seemed like he was trying a bit too hard to be something or other, but the music was still fairly interesting. A friend of mine sent me a copy of their new album, The Monitor weeks ago and I haven't gotten around to listening to it yet, so if it you get it and it sucks, then don't blame me as I'm not officially endorsing it, but simply expressing some slight interest in hearing it.



I wrote about White Wizzard's Over The Top last month when it was only available on iTunes, but now it is available everywhere. If you love Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio, etc., etc., then this will probably be right up your alley.