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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GRAPHIC PHOTOS = Understatement

The Huffington Post put up a story about a famous Spanish matador who got gored through the throat this past Saturday. You can read the article here. They do warn that the pictures are graphic, but wow, are they ever. They almost look photoshopped because there is absolutely no blood in the photos, but it sure seems like there should be. I mean, the guy has a horn through his throat, tongue and the roof of his mouth. The video is below. Not nearly as graphic as the photos in my opinion, but it is amazing that a) the actual attack only lasts seconds and b) that he gets up and walks (runs) off right away.

The matador was in critical condition, but it now appears he will survive. The bull was of course killed for attempting to kill a human being after not being provoked at all.

Tuesday May 25, 2010 New Music

Black Tusk "Taste The Sin"
I caught Black Tusk at this year's Scion Rock Fest in Columbus, OH and was impressed with what I saw and heard. I actually pre-ordered their album Taste The Sin from their label, Relapse Records and have had it for about 10 days, but haven't had an opportunity to check it out yet. If it is anything like the live set, then I should be happy with it.

D.R.I. "Crossover" (reissue)
D.R.I. was another band that played this year's Scion Rock Fest, but unlike Black Tusk, I knew exactly what to expect when I saw them (even though I'd never seen them before). They've been playing their blend of hardcore and thrash since the early 80's and have now reissued their 1987 album Crossover. It comes with a bunch of bonus live tracks, demos and band interviews which I personally think is completely unnecessary. Why not just remaster the album for the simple fact that it will now have better sound quality? I'd like to think your average consumer is on to the fact that these "bonus tracks" are totally bogus and a lame attempt to get avid collectors and the hardcore fan base to buy the album again. I want to hear these classic albums with their original tracklisting and not the extra, boring bonus junk tacked on at the end. That is just me though. I've never bought a remastered album for live tracks, demos and most certainly not for interviews. I will pick this album up, but only because it is one of the few D.R.I. albums I don't already own.

Rosetta "A Determinism Of Morality"
I own Rosetta's first album The Galilean Satellites and have only listened to it once. I remember it having a Neur-Isis vibe going on (for non-metalheads, that means they sound like the two bands Neurosis and Isis) and while it wasn't bad, it didn't really stick with me and beg for repeated listens. The metal press seems to be a little worked up about their new album though, so I figure it is worth checking out. After all, Isis broke up recently, so someone might step up and fill the void they've left and who knows, it could be Rosetta.

Smashing Pumpkins "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope 1: Songs for a Sailor"
Here is the product description on Amazon for Smashing Pumpkins' newest release Teargarden By Kaleidyscope 1: Songs for a Sailor:

The packaging is a silk-screened wooden box (7 ¼ tall x 8 wide x 1.05 thick). Each box will contain:
4-song CD will have 4 new SP songs and instrumental intros
7 vinyl single containing one NEW song plus b-side
Hand-carved leopard stone obelisk, about 2 tall, similar to marble 

I predict that the sales on this will be the very definition of disappointing. Most Smashing Pumpkins' fans gave up on Billy Corgan years ago and $23.99 for a box set doesn't just seem like a bit much, it IS a bit much. Not to mention the songs on the CD that is included can be downloaded for FREE on Smashing Pumpkins' website. I've included a player with the four songs below (if you want to actually download them, then go to the link in the previous sentence). Apparently Corgan's plan is to release 40 more songs for free through their website and then put them all out as a huge box set. That will sell less than this release.



Starkweather "This Sheltering Night"
Starkweather is apparently a "legendary" hardcore/metal crossover band. I've never heard of them, but that doesn't mean anything because I don't much care for hardcore. Supposedly their new album This Sheltering Night melts faces. I could hate it, I could love it. I figure it is worth finding out at some point.

Stone Temple Pilots "Stone Temple Pilots"
Morbid curiosity.

Monday, May 24, 2010

This F*&%$ng Video

I've stated in the past that I never actually watch new music videos all the way through anymore, but I've made a few exceptions to that rule recently. One of those exceptions is the video for "This Fucking Job" by Drive-By Truckers from their new album (and front runner for my 2010 album of the year) The Big To-Do. Below is the uncensored version which is the only one I've seen as "censored" isn't really my thing, but you can see that version here. I believe this is the first concept video the band has ever made and it is OK, but not fantastic. For one, they have dialogue and sound effects play over the actual song which is kind of annoying. They are obviously going for a mini-movie kind of feel, but it falls a little flat. There seems to be some sort of parallel universe thing going on, but with only 4 minutes to tell the story, it just doesn't work well. The main character of the video is a Deadwood alumni though (he played the preacher), so they get points for that.

Anyway, the song rules, so who cares if the video is perfect or not.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fans, Admirers and A Handful Of Idiots To Be At Dio's Memorial

So, the dumb asses who belong to the idiotic and hateful Westboro Baptist Church otherwise known as the "God Hates Fags" people, have decided to protest the public memorial service for Ronnie James Dio. I was alerted to this by a post on Metalsucks this morning. My initial reaction was outrage, but then the author of the post, Axl Rosenberg, made a good point (or points rather)....ultimately, who cares if these morons are there. When I wrote about WBC two weeks ago, I forgot to mention that their membership only consists of the head of the church (ie. cult leader) Fred Phelps, his children, grandchildren and a few randoms. There numbers total less than 100. They are going to be like a tiny swarm of gnats hovering on the edge of a tremendous gathering of people. And as Axl said, can anyone really take these people seriously?

They posted a flyer and a blog with their rational for protesting Dio's service, but I won't publish links to either because they don't deserve the traffic. I will share two hilarious quotes from the flyer though:

This rebel had a God-given platform – for decades – which he should have utilized to publish the truth of God. Instead, he used that platform – for decades – to teach rebellion against God, in the form glorifying atheism, promoting the devil horn hand sign & other such idolatries. Now he has been cut off by an Angry God & cast into hell.

The arrogant God-hating fool changed his name from Padavona to Dio (meaning “God” in Italian). His Black Sabbath fans worshipped him as a god. He stood idly by & watched his niece, Gen Padavona, become a filthy porn star. God’s promises are true, including his promise to punish the wicked forever. Thank God for dead brute Dio!

Sounds like your average religious zealots hating on heavy metal to promote their own agenda. In other words, it is total nonsense. I think Dio would probably get a laugh out of this as I'm sure he was probably accused of being a heathen more than once during his long, illustrious career. I wouldn't be surprised if a skirmish or two broke out with these people at the service, but I hope Dio's fans take the high road, turn the other cheek and ignore them because being the class act that he was, that is what Dio would do.

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: The Big Four

American metalheads were green with envy when it was announced that thrash's original "Big Four", Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, would be playing together this summer at a couple European festivals. The above is a flyer for the show that is taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria. Obviously Heaven & Hell will no longer be there because of Ronnie James Dio's passing, but can you imagine what that bill would have been like if he was alive and well?!?!? Anyway, it is still beyond spectacular considering the caliber of the other four bands. The good news is that if you can't afford a plane ticket to Europe this summer, then you can do the next best thing and watch the Bulgaria show in a movie theater. Metallica sent out an e-newsletter last night with the details. Check it out:

Can't make it to Europe this June for one of the seven Sonisphere "Big Four" shows featuring us along with Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax? No problem... we've got the next best thing through the magic of satellite technology with a special HD simulcast from Sofia, Bulgaria on June 22!

Here's how it works: The live show will be transmitted via satellite to over 450 movie theaters in the U.S. and over 350 theaters across Europe, Canada, and Latin America. Within hours of all of us walking off the stage, depending on what time zone you live in, you'll be able to rock out to each set in the cozy confines of your local movie theater that same night.

Now the nitty gritty details: Tickets for the one night only event are available at the local theater box offices and online at thebigfourlive.com where you can see a complete list of presenting theaters. They will start to go on sale Friday, May 21 in the U.S and Friday, May 28 internationally. Please note that ticket on sale times and even days will vary by theatre, so check with your friendly neighborhood participating movie theatre for exact days and times tickets will be available and keep watching thebigfourlive.com for theatre additions/changes. For our friends in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, delayed screenings will be coming your way. Again, keep watching here and thebigfourlive.com for updates.

A few more tidbits you might find helpful: Ticket prices in the U.S. will be around $20 plus whatever service charges your local theater may add. No, unfortunately each band's entire set will not be shown, but trust us, you'll see most of the action.

If you're still with us here and want a little more info about the good people helping to make this happen, check out: byexperience.net. They've done some awesome events!

Pretty cool right? I'm putting together a posse to go see this because quite frankly I think it will be a good deal of fun. And in theory, this should be one of those rare times when someone else talking in the movie theater shouldn't bother me. More information about tickets and participating theaters can be found here.

A Story I Wish I Could Tell As My Own

For anyone who is following, at this point it is pretty obvious that people are still fairly bummed about the passing of Ronnie James Dio. The tributes and testimonials are a bit overwhelming, but speak volumes to not only how influential his music is, but also to what kind of person he was. Check out this blog from Green Day's tour manager who had an experience meeting Dio when he was a teenager. If it doesn't leave you with a big grin on your face and make you want to crank up "Last In Line" or "Holy Diver", then you may have no soul.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yet Another New Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Video

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released a video for the single "I Should Have Known It" from their forthcoming album Mojo last week. Today, they premiered yet another video, this time for the song "Something Good Coming". In my post about "I Should Have Known It", I said that after having heard three songs from the album, I thought Mojo was going to wind up being one of Petty's best releases. After having now heard four tracks, I firmly stand by that statement. I don't think it will be Damn The Torpedos or Full Moon Fever good, but it'll be up there.

From One Icon To Another

Lars Ulrich is a polarizing figure in the world of heavy metal. The Metallica drummer is hated by as many as he is loved, but regardless of what you think of him, there is no denying that he is one of the main architects behind one of, if not the, biggest metal band of all time. That is why it was very cool to see Lars put a letter to Ronnie James Dio up on the Metallica website this past Sunday after Dio's passing. Since Dio enjoyed varying degrees of success through four decades with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and as a solo artist, he obviously has had an immeasurable influence on bands that came after him (and will continue to do so well into the future) and Metallica is no exception. You can read the letter here, but I've also posted it below:

A Letter To Ronnie
5/16/2010
Dear Ronnie,
I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you've passed on. I'm kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with. When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11 year old, most of whom were not familiar with Elf's music. The following year, I was so psyched when I heard the results of you joining forces with my favorite guitar player. You guys sounded so right for each other and I instantly became Rainbow's #1 fan in Denmark. In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenhagen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made eye contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world. The news that you guys were staying in town on your day off somehow embedded itself in my brain and I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring... pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything. Rainbow came to Copenhagen a couple more times over the next few years and each time you guys blew my mind, and for a good three years were my absolute favorite band on this planet. Over the years I've been fortunate enough to run into you a half dozen times or so and each time you were as kind, caring and gracious as you were in 1976 outside the hotel. When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier and it was such a fucking honor and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven and Hell. A couple of weeks ago when I heard that you were not going to be able to make it to the Sonisphere shows that we would be sharing this June, I wanted to call you and let you know that I was thinking of you and wish you well, but I kind of pussied out, thinking the last thing you needed in your recovery was feeling obligated to take a phone call from a Danish drummer/fan boy. I wish I'd made that call. We will miss you immensely on the dates, and we will be thinking of you with great admiration and affection during that run. It seemed so right to have you out on tour with the so-called “Big Four” since you obviously were one of the main reasons that the four bands even exist. Your ears will definitely be burning during those two weeks because all of us will be talking, reminiscing and sharing stories about how knowing you has made our lives that much better. 
Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you.
Much love, 
Lars

Pretty amazing huh? Just goes to show at the end of the day, we are all fans.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Love Will Tear Us Apart: 30th Anniversary of Ian Curtis' Death

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. Curtis hung himself and by doing so, cut short what many believe could have been a very promising career in music. Joy Division's music lives on though and the influence of their two studio albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer, along with countless compilations can still be heard today in the music of a variety of bands from different genres (Nine Inch Nails and Interpol both come to mind).

I'd also recommend checking out the Joy Division biopic "Control" if you are a fan and haven't seen it yet. You can see the trailer here.

"Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Tuesday May 18, 2010 New Music

Band Of Horses "Infinite Arms"
I first heard Band Of Horses on Sirius back in 2006. Their song "The Funeral" kept coming up on the indie rock station and after hearing it for the 5th or 6th time, I finally looked to see who the band was. I wound up buying their debut Everything All The Time and was instantly hooked. The follow up, Cease To Begin was just as catchy and enjoyable and then the band disappeared for well over a year. Now they have returned with their third album Infinite Arms. They gave away a track from it for free a few weeks ago. It was good, but not as instantly catchy as their other stuff. Today, Pitchfork released a review of the album and gave it a 5.3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Like a lot of people, I think Pitchfork are a bit full of themselves and that their opinion doesn't count for much, but my gut is saying that maybe they are right on this one. I don't know why, it just is. I'm hoping to be proven wrong when I am able to hear the album after Amazon decides to get around to shipping it to me...which they haven't yet even though I ordered it weeks ago. Bastards.

The Black Keys "Brothers"
I've already heard The Black Keys new album Brothers in it's entirety thanks to NPR putting up a stream of it last week. I have to say that the album sounded pretty damn good and I'm looking forward to spending more time with it once Amazon decides to ship it to me along with the aforementioned Band Of Horses record. Bastards. I'm a fan of all The Black Keys previous work and from the one listen I had to this album, it sounds like they have made some minor changes to keep things fresh, but haven't really abandoned the formula that's been working so well for them.

Exodus "Exhibit B: The Human Condition"
If you are into metal and more specifically, thrash metal, then you know exactly who Exodus are. In the metal world, their name is mentioned in the same breath as other Bay Area titans like Metallica and Testament. Their debut album Bonded By Blood and third album Fabulous Disaster are classics that have gone on to influence a whole new wave of retro-thrash bands that are kicking around today. They've endured a number of line-up changes over the years and only guitarist Gary Holt and drummer Tom Hunting remain from the original line-up, but unlike their peers in Anthrax who have had similar problems, Exodus has soldiered on and continued to put out albums that have been fairly well received. I'll admit to not being terribly familiar with the last two records, Shovel Headed Kill Machine (what a terrible title) and The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A, but the songs I heard from them were tremendously heavy and sounded like the work of a much younger band. My only complaint would be that I'm not a huge fan of the new vocalist, but then again, Exodus was never known for their great vocals. These guys are clearly not slowing down and the metal press is drooling over their latest album, Exhibit B: The Human Condition, so I figure I might give it a shot and make sure I'm not missing out an old dog who has learned some new tricks.

LCD Soundsystem "This Is Happening"
I don't know much about LCD Soundsystem except that indie rock geeks seem to love them. While Pitchfork was busy taking a poop on the new Band Of Horses, they were also busy giving the new LCD Soundsystem record This Is Happeninga 9.2 out of 10. Again, I take Pitchfork reviews with a grain of salt because 9 times out of 10 I disagree with them, but sometimes they are right and when they are right, they are right. I did hear the first single from this album, "Drunk Girls" a month or two ago and thought it was pretty fantastic, so my curiosity is piqued and I'll be checking this out to see what all the hype is about.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Goodbye And Good Riddance?

File sharing service LimeWire was dealt a huge blow last Wednesday when a U.S. District judge ruled in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) in their copyright lawsuit against LimeWire's parent company, Lime Group.  From CNET:

"A federal court judge has likely dealt a death blow to LimeWire, one of the most popular and oldest file-sharing systems, according to legal experts.

On Wednesday, CNET broke the news that U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood granted summary judgment in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which filed a copyright lawsuit against LimeWire in 2006. In her decision, Wood ruled Lime Group, parent of LimeWire software maker Lime Wire, and founder Mark Gorton committed copyright infringement, induced copyright infringement, and engaged in unfair competition."

You can read the full CNET article here, but the gist of it is that LimeWire is most likely finished. The RIAA and the major labels they represent would obviously be overjoyed if that were to happen while those consumers who prefer to get their music for free from LimeWire are going to be severely disappointed. Personally, I say good riddance. Having a professional background that includes working at record labels and having had more than one opportunity to see how a struggling band lives while on the road allowed me to see the damage that music piracy causes from the inside. That being said, I also understand it from a consumer's point of view because I buy a TON of music. The music industry really has no one to blame but themselves for the rapid ascension of online file sharing services. $18 for a compact disc that may or may not have more than one good song on it is simply not a quality product. It is no wonder that music has been devalued in the eyes of your average consumer. There has to be a happy medium between free and obnoxiously overpriced though. In my opinion, physical compact discs should be no more than $10 and MP3 albums no more than $5-7. I won't claim to have an understanding of the economics of the new music industry and whether that is feasible or not, but it doesn't really matter because ultimately you have to do what keeps the consumer happy. Your average consumer does not care about recouping marketing fees, the artist manager's cut of sales, the lawyer's cut, executive bonuses, etc, etc. Stop whining about how you are broke and do what every smart business has always done: LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS and do what you have to do to make them happy and keep them coming back.

But I am getting completely off topic....LimeWire. I actually interviewed for a marketing position at LimeWire a couple of years ago. This was when they were first starting their attempt to expand into the legitimate/legal/paid side of the file sharing business. On my way to their office I was expecting I would arrive to find a modest office with lots of computer equipment. Instead, I found a lush, expensively decorated office (complete with multiple Buddha statues and jungle plants) akin to what I imagine the Google offices look like. The HR rep actually said to me "We are going for the Google vibe here." I was escorted into a room that was basically constructed out of all pillows and conducted my interview there. It was an interesting conversation and they definitely had/have some smart folks working there and I put my best foot forward, but the whole time I was thinking to myself that they were going to have a difficult time achieving what they wanted.

Another quote from the CNET article:

"Lime Wire claims to have amassed more than 50 million unique monthly users since releasing the software in May 2000. LimeWire is free peer-to-peer software, but the company also sells a premium version called LimeWire PRO for fees of up to $35 a year. In her decision, Wood noted that Lime Wire grew annual revenue from $6 million in 2004 to $20 million two years later."

One of the main components of the job I interviewed for was to get users to upgrade from the free service to the paid as well as attract new customers. The problem there is that LimeWire is forever associated with "free". Your average tech savvy consumer is not going to associate LimeWire with subscription fees, but obviously enough did to contribute to a $14 million revenue growth in 2 years. Still, if the company truly wanted to reinvent themselves, then changing the name really would have been the only way to go. Since they had enough money to have insanely lavish office space, I'm sure they could have afforded a rebranding. Obviously, their technology was great and something that consumers enjoyed, but getting the stink of the LimeWire name off of their product really would have been the only way to go legit. But that is just my opinion. And for the record, I'm not poo-pooing on LimeWire because I didn't get a job there; this would be my opinion as a marketing professional regardless.

The death of LimeWire will not spell the end of file sharing and I'm sure the void they leave will be filled quickly, but as far as symbolic victories go, this is a good one for the music industry. Now, if the music industry was really smart, then they would try to work out a way to purchase LimeWire's technology and harness it for paid services. With LimeWire facing a potential $450 million payout for damages in this case, they might want to strike some sort of deal. On the other hand, they may want to tell the RIAA and their clients to shove it simply out of spite.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out. Will either side learn any lessons?

Oh, and if you need a laugh, take a trip down memory lane with the still hilarious story from last summer of when LimeWire employees got infuriated with the guys at Dovecote Records for taking a few slices of pizza from them at a bar. The story is just too good. (And actually even more ridiculous when you know how much money LimeWire is throwing around to decorate their offices. You'd think giving away a few slices of pizza would be the least of their worries.) Read it here.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio passed away this morning at 7:45am (CST I believe) at the age of 67 after a battle with stomach cancer. If you are a fan and lover of hard rock and heavy metal, then you know how important of a figure Dio was in the scene and how adored he was by generations of fans. Whether he was singing for Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath or the band that shared his namesake, Dio, his voice was always incredible and powerful. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform live as the frontman for Heaven and Hell (the new name for the Dio fronted version of Black Sabbath) on the Metal Masters Tour with Judas Priest, Motorhead and Testament in 2008. Dio was 66 years old at the time of that show, but you never would have guessed it. His voice was still as strong as ever and he prowled the stage like a man half his age. I'm saddened that I will never have the chance to see him perform live again, but very happy to have seen him at least once. And by all accounts, Dio was apparently an incredibly nice guy and a pleasure to be around. I know more than one person who interacted with him and said he was truly a salt of the earth type. I know for fact that he and his wife, Wendy were involved in the organization, Children of the Night, whose mission is to rescue American children who are trapped in street prostitution (his wife is in fact the Chairman of the Board of Directors). And of course there was the Hear N Aid project (a heavy metal version of "We Are The World") that Dio put together to help raise money for famine relief in Africa. 

And although not nearly as important a contribution as his music, Dio is the one who introduced the world to the universally recognized sign for metal, "the horns" or "the goat" or whatever you prefer to call it (see the above photo if you don't know what I am talking about).

What else is there to say really? Metalheads all over the world are in mourning for the man who was the voice of so many important records in the annals of heavy metal history and a true icon. This is easily the biggest loss since the tragic and untimely death of Dimebag Darrell. Hopefully I won't be writing a sentence about anyone taking the biggest loss honor from RJD anytime too soon.

If you need a little Dio 101, then I'd start with Heaven And Hell (Black Sabbath), Holy Diver (Dio), Last In Line (Dio) and Rainbow Rising (Rainbow), but ultimately all of his material is pretty great.

\M/ \M/

"Holy Diver"



"Last In Line"



"Rock 'N' Roll Children"



"Heaven And Hell"



"Neon Knights"



"Stars"

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Space In Between

How To Destroy Angels (Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails new project in collaboration with his wife Mariqueen Maandig) have debuted the video for their single "The Space In Between". This is the first video I've actually sat and watched from beginning to end in a while (not counting watching Metal Mania or Totally 80's on VH1 Classic). It is an interesting video and fairly bloody, so if you have a weak stomach, then you may not want to watch it. I can't say I'm terribly impressed with the song, but I certainly don't hate it. It is just kind of slow and plodding, but at the same time kind of relaxing and atmospheric. Their first single "A Drowning" is available for sale on Amazon and iTunes. I haven't heard it yet, so have no informed opinion on it. I am a big NIN/Trent Reznor fan though, so I will definitely be giving their six song EP that is coming out this summer a shot.

"The Space In Between":

Friday Fun: On The Dark Side

Have fun trying to get this song out of your head:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Excuse To Eat Popcorn and Junior Mints: Iron Man 2

I loved the first Iron Man movie and was admittedly fairly excited about the sequel. When reviews first started to come out for Iron Man 2, I wasn't surprised to see that they were for the most part fairly ho-hum as sequels rarely live up to the originals and especially in the world of comic book adaptations (The Dark Knight, X-Men 2 and Spiderman 2 being exceptions to the rule in my opinion). Ho-hum doesn't equal "bad", so my desire to see the film and judge for myself remained strong.

Iron Man 2 is definitely not as good as the original, but it is absolutely worth seeing if you enjoyed the original. Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyenth Paltrow both put in good performances once again and Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell do fine jobs as the bad guys (Rockwell more so than Rourke in my opinion). Don Cheadle as War Machine worked fine for me too and I didn't miss Terence Howard at all. The problem with the movie is that it tries to squeeze in a lot of background story. This causes the action/battle sequences to be fewer, which is disappointing and the other problem is the background story feels rushed and not fully developed. I never really bought into Ivan Vanko's (Rourke) hatred of Tony Stark/Iron Man which was a large part of the plot. That being said, the prevelance of Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Scarlett Johansson (who honestly is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood) as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, the glimpse of Captain America's shield, the after the credits scene showing the discovery of Thor's Hammer and the glimpse of a folder with the name "Avengers" on it are all wonderful appetite whetters for comic book/Marvel geeks about the upcoming Avengers film. I also enjoyed the films incorporation of humor which I think is probably owed in large part to director Jon Favreau (who also has a nice minor role in the film as Stark's driver).

So, like I said earlier, if you liked Iron Man, then go see Iron Man 2. If you didn't like Iron Man, then the sequel probably isn't going to change your mind about the franchise.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rockin' Out: Ratt @ Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza 05/10/10


They really need to perfect the camera technology on Blackberrys. These pictures I get are the definition of atrocious.

As I've stated before, I've never the biggest Ratt fan in the world. In my opinion, the albums they released during the height of hair metal popularity were always a handful of hits surrounded by filler. The only exception possibly being their debut Out Of The Cellar which is a decent album from start to finish, but otherwise their greatest hits package Ratt & Roll 8191 is really all that you need to cover your Ratt needs.

Last year I got a free ticket to go see Ratt play a headlining show with Extreme opening and gladly accepted. After all, the ticket price was right, Extreme is a really good band (they have a ton of amazing material beyond "More Than Words") and I figured Ratt would be playing a set largely consisting of their hits. After Extreme blew the roof off the place (but ended their set on a bad note by covering Michael Jackson...predictable at the time and downright boring), Ratt had a tough act to follow. As it turns out, 2009 was the 25th anniversary of the release of Out Of The Cellar, so Ratt played that album in its entirety along with hits from other albums. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed their set, but it was undeniably great. Singer Stephen Pearcy mentioned during the set that the band was getting ready to record a new album and that they would be back around next year and would be playing material from that album. This didn't exactly get me excited as I sincerely doubted a new Ratt album would be anything to get worked up about.

Earlier this year, I started seeing posts on Facebook/Twitter and on one of my favorite metal websites, Metalsucks that the new Ratt album was really good. Surprisingly good. I was skeptical to say the least, but after hearing the first single, "Best Of Me" I found myself colored impressed. But this is Ratt. They are known for great singles and boring albums. Well, I then heard another track from the album and was equally impressed with that one, but still remained skeptical. After all, other albums by Ratt have two good songs on them, but are otherwise boring. Then a friend sent me a copy of the entire Infestation album and I couldn't believe my ears. The thing is good, no great even from start to finish. Who would have thought that 26 years after their debut, Ratt would be able to pull a great album together?!?!?! But they have and I applaud them for it.

This past Monday evening, Ratt rolled into town to play The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza. There were openers, but they were local bands that I had zero interest in seeing. This was all about Ratt. I knew they were going to be playing songs from the new album, but I didn't mind because as I mentioned, the new album is actually great. What we wound up being treated to was predominantly their hits from the 80's/early 90's with material from the new album mixed in. And it all worked very well together: "You're In Love", "Lack Of Communication", "Nobody Rides For Free", "Lay It Down", "Back For More", "Wanted Man", "Way Cool Jr." (I don't know why everyone hates this song, I think it is great) and of course "Round And Round" sound great next to newer songs like "Best Of Me" and "Eat Me Up Alive". The deceased Robin Crosby has been replaced by Carlos Cavazo of Quiet Riot fame and he seems to have added a spark to the band's playing. He is a great guitar player and compliments Warren DeMartini, who is also an amazing guitar player, quite well. Overall, I was really impressed with Ratt once again and look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Random side note: Is it just me or do Stephen Pearcy's vocals sort of sound like Megadeth's Dave Mustaine these days?

Ratt with Michael Anthony (Van Halen) covering "Fire" by Jimi Hendrix:



Way Cool Jr./Wanted Man medley:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Should Have Known It

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released the video for "I Should Have Known It" from their forthcoming album Mojo today. This is the third track I've heard from the album (I received two MP3s when I bought tickets to see them in NJ with My Morning Jacket opening this summer) and if the rest of the material is at least as good as the three songs I've heard, then this could very well be one of Tom Petty's best albums. Not THE BEST, but definitely one of his best which is an impressive feat considering his pretty stellar body of work. This particular track sounds like The Black Keys and as a friend pointed out, a little bit like Them Crooked Vultures (the good parts of TCV that is). The other two tracks I heard have a Neil Young, alt-country vibe, so hopefully the whole album has a lot of variety. Personally, I'm really excited to hear it.