Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone! I probably won't post on Christmas day but I just wanted to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Sherwood family!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Various Artists - "Fleas Naughty Dog, Vol. 1"

Various Artists - Fleas Naughty Dog, Vol. 1
2010, Rottweiler

1. "O Holy Night" - Tim Bushong
2. "Silent Night" - Bridgeshadows
3. "Little Drummer Boy" - Blissed
4. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - True Liberty
5. "Anti-Santa's Coming to Town" - Eistein Savage
6. "What Child is This?" - Coriolis
7. "Angels We Have Heard On High" - Marty Warren
8. "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" - Grave Robber
9. "Christmas For Real" - Harry Gore
10. "Jingle Bells" - Confessions of a Sinner
11. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" - Leper
12. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" - False Idle
13. "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" - Fire Born
14. "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent" - Frost Like Ashes
15. "O Come All Ye Faithful" - Cryo-Mancer
16. "Holidays Suck" Desiring Dead Flesh

Fleas Naughty Dog, Vol 1 was a sampler put out by the fledgling Rottweiler Records last year. They were offering it for free, so of course I had to check it out given my love of both metal and Christmas music. The results are somewhat mixed but it's hard to complain about something that was free - so I'll just hit the highlights. Grave Robber's "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is naturally stellar. Sometimes I think these guys can do no wrong. Einstein Savage, a rock-a-billy type band, lends an original song, "Anti-Santa is Coming to Town." It's catchy and quite amusing - one of my favorites on the comp. Marty Warren's thrash take on "Angels We Have Heard on High" impresses as well. Coriolis turn in a techno version of "What Child is This?" that has successfully creeped out my wife. Speaking of which, remember on the Deliverance tribute CD where I said Leper sounded like Devo? Well, they don't sound like that here. They've provided one of the most tortured, angsty versions of a Christmas song I have ever heard. I'm not sure I like it, per se - but it is different. Confessions of a Sinner's thrashy "Jingle Bells" is a lot of fun. While there were some low points for me, there's enough cool material to make it worth the download.

Useless Fact: As I understand it, Rottweiler Records is prepping Fleas Naughty Dog, Vol. 2 for release soon. It will have some new artists on it as well as the tracks from Vol. 1. Head over to their homepage and check it out!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slow Month....

Hey everyone!

It's been a pretty slow month, musically speaking. Haven't gotten much at all this month because we've still been broke. However, I will be getting some good stuff for Christmas! In fact, I've been doing a lot of exploring on Itunes for new bands and I've heard some great stuff. The first being Fair to Midland - a crazy "progressive" metal band. I say "progressive" because they're not like Dream Theater or anything. They're much more modern - LOTS of great hooks. The other one is 3. Yes, 3. They kind of sound a bit like Coheed & Cambria. Lance King has also just released a solo album called "A Moment in Chiros." The samples I've heard sound awesome. Grave Robber's new album is also finally on its way to my house!

So, it'll be slow until the end of the month, then things will be better. Hope you're all having a good month!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cole, Nat King - "Chestnuts Roastin'"

Cole, Nat King - Chestnuts Roastin'
1991, Cema Special Markets

1. The Christmas Song
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
3. O Little Town of Bethlehem
4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
5. Away in a Manger
6. O Come All Ye Faithful
7. O Holy Night
8. The First Noel
9. Silent Night
10. Caroling, Caroling

I bought this a many years back at a pawn shop in Ft. Wayne. It was cheap. It was probably cheap when it originally came out. In fact, I suspect this was bought as an impulse item at a grocery store. That's okay though because it's friggin' Nat King Cole. He's one of the "Big 3" for me in terms of Christmas music (the other two being Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra). While the quality of the packaging may be on the flimsy side, the music is not. After all, what bad can be said about Nat King Cole? I mean, really. Back in the day the man was probably singing in clubs that he wouldn't have even been allowed to enter normally. He's got a silky smooth voice and even his non-Christmas music is timeless. I feel compelled to inform you that if you'd like to add some Nat to your Christmas music library there are many, many collections out there. All of which I am sure are better than this one.

Useless Fact: Dave Chappell did a little skit about Nat King Cole and objectifying women. It was very, very vulgar. But also very funny!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Glenn Miller Orchestra - "In the Christmas Mood"

The Glenn Miller Orchestra - In the Christmas Mood
1991, Delta

1. Sleigh Ride
2. Yuletide Melody No. 1 (Oh Holy Night/Joy to the World/O Little Town of Bethlehem)
3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
4. Silver Bells
5. Jingle Bells
6. Frosty the Snowman
7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
8. Yuletide Melody No. 2 (O Christmas Tree/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)
9. I'll Be Home For Christmas
10. Silent Night
11. In the Christmas Mood

This disc is excellent, even though I'm not a huge fan of big band music. Not to say I don't like it because - surprisingly enough, I do. However, I find that, for me at least, it's much more background music than something that really engages my soul. Of course, the fact that it's Christmas makes it instantly better and more listenable to me. Yeah, I know it's weird. The Glenn Miller Orchestra expertly delivers these timeless Christmas melodies with style. Style. Like suits and ties and fedoras style. The type of old tyme style we don't have now. In the Christmas Mood makes a great soundtrack to whatever holiday activities you're engaging in.

Useless Fact: Um... didn't Glenn Miller go missing or die in a plane crash or something? Yeah... you can tell how well-versed I am in Glenn Miller! Someone better informed can fill us in on his fate.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all having a great Thanksgiving!

A few times I have thought about writing a nice long post about everything I'm thankful for. However, I quickly realized that there are so many ways in which I am blessed that that post would be way too long. I am truly blessed beyond measure and for that I am thankful.

God bless you all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

She & Him - "A Very She & Him Christmas"

She & Him - A Very She & Him Christmas
2011, Merge

1. The Christmas Waltz
2. Christmas Day
3. Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Christmas Wish
6. Sleigh Ride
7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
8. Silver Bells
9. Baby, It's Cold Outside
10. Blue Christmas
11. Little Saint Nick
12. The Christmas Song

She & Him features actress Zooey Deschanel who starred in Elf, Failure To Launch, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and most recently the television sit-com New Girl. If you heard her singing in Elf you'll know what to expect here. Zooey has a unique voice that might not be to everyone's taste. I like it though. And while this little CD took a couple listens to grow on me I definitely enjoy it. Very stripped down sound... almost has a bit of a 70's vibe I think (I say that not having lived during the 70's...). In "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Zooey actually sings the guy's part. Definitely worth checking out.

Useless Fact: She & Him have several albums out. They are similar in style to this one only they're not Christmas music.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Iron Maiden - "Powerslave"

Iron Maiden - Powerslave
1984/2002, Sanctuary

1. Aces High
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight
3. Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)
4. Flash of the Blade
5. The Duelists
6. Back in the Village
7. Powerslave
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Back in the day, when I was just a lad, there were certain people whose job it was to protect all of us Christian youth from the dangers of entertainment. They would sit safely ensconced in their Holy Batcaves monitoring movies, music, and television for anything that even looked remotely evil. These people would then write books on their findings. I still have Bob Larson's book on satanism. Most of these people, Bob Larson included, had indexes in the back of their books which listed bands you and your child should stay away from. Near the top of every list sat Iron Maiden. Why? Well, they have a song called "Number of the Beast!" Isn't that enough?! As a result I never listened to Iron Maiden or even knew what they were really about until just recently.

All I can say is... Bob Larson - you are a total jackass.


Iron Maiden's Powerslave is essentially a history lesson set to music. Instead of songs about Satan you get songs about the Royal Air Force during World War II ("Aces High") or a song about Egyptian myth ("Powerslave"). The, as if that weren't cool enough you get a 13-minute epic track, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" which, near the end, tells us we should be thankful for everything God made. Granted, it's based off an 18th century poem, but still. Hardly the subversive satanism the band was often accused of. I'm a little sad that I didn't get into this stuff when it originally came out. After all, these guys are the ORIGINATORS of power metal. Heck, Christian bands like Barren Cross (which I also love) are a direct carbon copy of Iron Maiden. Everything here is top shelf metal. Galloping riffs, soaring vocals, fantastic bass lines all prove just how talented these guys are. Now if you'll excuse me I have to track down some more Iron Maiden.

Useless Fact: Sorry. While I am sure there are lots of obscure facts about Iron Maiden, I'm too new to the band to know any. Oh wait! Here's something, pulled from No Life Til Metal - apparently the stage show for this album was an enormous spectacle to behold. Head on over there to read a little more about it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Favorite Albums of 2011

Once again it’s time to revisit my favorite albums of this year. Remember, the picks here didn’t necessarily come out this year. It’s just stuff I discovered in 2011. The Choir and Star One are holdovers from last year because I got them so late.

The Choir, deplumed – Containing one song from each of The Choir’s albums, deplumed is a fantastic retrospective. The album is “unplugged” with just Steve and Derri. It really showcases just how good the band really is. Every song shines. I actually like this better than Burning Like the Midnight Sun.

Star One, Victims of the Modern Age – Victims stands head and shoulders above Star One’s debut in just about every way. Better songs, heavier guitars, awesome vocals (from all performers). It’s just an amazing album no matter how you slice it, especially for us lucky ducks with the deluxe media book.

The Mustard Seeds (all) – A friend introduced me to the Mustard Seeds this year and they’ve fast become one of my favorite bands. They’re sort of a heavier progressive version of PFR or a commercial, poppier version of King’s X. I’ve got all three of their albums and each one is filled with great four-part harmonies, downtuned riffs, and undeniable pop hooks. Do yourself a favor. Go to and type in “the mustard seeds,” then buy whichever album comes up. You will thank me later.

Gama Bomb, Citizen Brain – I suppose you could call this a guilty pleasure. It’s late 80’s/early 90’s thrash all about cool pop culture stuff from that time. It’s an album that puts me in a good mood instantly. How can I not cheer up hearing a thrash song about Final Fight or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Throw in blazing fast riffs and furious face-melting leads and you have one of my top picks!

Petra, Jekyll and Hyde – I’ve never been much of a Petra person. Sure I liked Beyond Belief – who didn’t? After that though…yeah… no so much. I heard through the grapevine that Jekyll and Hyde was supposed to be really heavy. It is. It’s heavy and catchy. If they had been doing this kind of stuff the whole time I probably would have been a lot more interested in them.

Weird Al Yankovic, Alpocalypse (and others) – I rediscovered my love for “Weird Al” this year. I bought his “Essentials” disc, then some of my past favorites, then his new release. Alpocalypse is awesome. It hits that sweet spot with great parodies, funny originals, and the general vibe of the times. Oh, and let it be said (yet again) that “Weird Al” and his band are some of the most underrated musicians ever.

Devin Townsend, Deconstruction/Ghost – Okay, confession time. These albums, being my most anticipated albums of the year, did not dethrone Addicted or Ziltoid as my favorite Devin discs. Of course, they’re still awesome and wonderful. They’re just a little bit more work to listen to. I’m finally getting to the point where I can really appreciate Deconstruction but it can be a hard road to hoe. A friend and I joked about needing naps halfway through.

Harmony, Chapter II: Aftermath – Harmony is a random band I found while looking for something interesting to get me through until fall. They’re a great progressive/power metal outfit that’s complicated enough to be interesting but remember to include plenty of hooks. Their singer reminds me a little of Michael Sweet (Stryper) which also helps. Great album!

Alice Cooper, Welcome 2 My Nightmare – I don’t have much experience with Alice Cooper and I picked this up on a whim, desperate for something a little different. Alice totally delivered with an eclectic album that’s memorable and creepy. Oddly enough it contains one of the best worship songs I’ve heard in awhile in the form of the lead-off track, “I Am Made of You.”

Grave Robber, You’re All Gonna Die! – As of this writing I have yet to receive my copy of Grave Robber’s newest album (and the instant download they sent didn’t work for me). I’m putting it here anyway because it’s friggin’ Grave Robber and they are awesome. I anticipate listening to this album many, many times during the holidays!

Evanescence, Evanescence – Amy Lee is back! This album is a bit more straight-forward than The Open Door. That’s okay though, I think this one’s got some cool radio hits on here once you can get past the LOUD production. It’s not perfect, but infectious nonetheless.

Was a Pick But I Hate it Now

Panic! At the Disco, Vices and Virtues – I really dug this when we first got it. So what happened? Well, it became my 18 month old daughter’s favorite album. She would fuss in the car, we play this (specifically the song “Ready to Go”) and she’d quiet right down. As a result I’ve heard this album at least a million times by now and I just can’t take anymore!

Disappointments of 2011

Believer, Transhuman – I was really looking forward to this one. I don’t even care that the band isn’t really thrash anymore. However, I DO care that they’re not writing memorable songs. There’s a point at which you can be too experimental and that’s the problem here. Nothing sticks. Nothing. It’s boring on top of that. C’mon guys, I know you hate to “sell out” but how ‘bout giving us another good old fashioned thrash disc. Just for old time’s sake.

Lady Gaga, Born this Way – Ugh! What happened here? I liked Lady Gaga a lot better when she was just some club kid writing dirty pop songs. What happened to the quirky electronica? The big production of Born This Way gets in the way of the songs. It’s not nearly as memorable as The Fame as a result. Oh, and “Born This Way” is just Madonna’s “Express Yourself” slightly rewritten. I like one single song off of this (“Government Hooker” if you’re curious) and that’s about it.

Breakup of D, no Annuls – I was a little sad that Deliverance broke up once again, for what is probably the final time. On the one hand I understand, as Jimmy has reportedly said, “Deliverance had its day.” However, this also means their upcoming album, The Annuls of Subterfuge will not be released! Aww, c’mon guys! *pouty sad face*

Still no new Sixpence – As of this writing there is still no news as to when Sixpence’s new album, Strange Conversation will see the light of day. What’s really sad is that this album has been done for awhile. Here’s hoping 2012 will see its release.

Metallica and Lou Reed – Oh my word. Just… wow… this stuff is terrible. They were showing so much promise with Death Magnetic, then they go and do something like this. There aren’t even words to describe how much I don’t care about this.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Megadeth - "Killing is My Business... And Business is Good!"

Megadeth - Killing is My Business... And Business is Good!
1985/2002, Loud

1. Last Rites/Loved to Death
2. Killing is My Business... And Business is Good
3. The Skull Beneath the Skin
4. Rattlehead
5. Chosen Ones
6. Looking Down the Cross
7. Mechanix
8. These Boots
Bonus Tracks
9. Last Rites/Loved to Death (Demo)
10. Mechanix (Demo)
11. The Skull Beneath the Skin (Demo)

Killing is My Business is probably one of those albums I would have loved if I would have heard it back in '85. Now, however? Well, everyone knows the Megadeth story. After Dave Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica he started Megadeth with the intent on being the fastest, most dangerous band around. Killing perfectly captures this attitude as the songs are fast and furious. Unfortunately to someone who's been used to Rust in Peace and on, it also sounds sloppy and frantic. Even in the opening number, "Last Rites/Loved to Death" it's kind of hard to get a bead on the rhythm at first. There's not too much in the way of hooks either. It's literally Dave and co. just thrashing through the songs as hard as they can. I will say that I prefer "Mechanix" over "The Four Horseman" (It's the same song, by the way, only Megadeth's is pervy). There's also a cover of "These Boots" but for some reason they decided to bleep out any swearing Dave added to the song...which is a LOT. Which means half of the song is beeps - very annoying. This is a reissue so it's been remastered. Having never heard the original I can't say how this improves the sound but I'm sure that it does. There's also some bonus tracks that I never listened to because I don't generally care about demos. While it's good to hear how this band (which remains one of my favorites) got its start, I don't think I will be going back to this album as much as their later stuff.

Useless Fact: According to the liner notes the cover pictured is the one they really wanted at first. They were really disappointed with the original cover.

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Vacation!

Hey folks!

As of 5:09 PM yesterday I have been on vacation. Officially. It's quite a wonderful feeling really. If you haven't already guessed by some of my updates I've been pretty burnt out lately. My wife, Lexi, and I are travelling to my old stomping grounds of upstate NY - where I was born and raised. I won't be updating while I'm away, BUT when I come back I should have some new music! I'm already anxiously awaiting my Grave Robber pack but being in NY gives me the opportunity to visit some second-hand shops that sometimes have really cool gems just laying around. Here's hoping I find some.

I'm also going to do my "Favorite Albums of 2011" closer to November/December instead of October like I usually do. I've been compiling the list and it's actually pretty long. Longer than I thought it would be for being broke for several months out of the year.

Anyway, hope everything is going well with all of you. God bless.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Evanescence - "Evanescence"

Evanescence - Evanescence
2011, Wind-Up

1. What You Want
2. Made of Stone
3. The Change
4. My Heart is Broken
5. The Other Side
6. Erase This
7. Lost in Paradise
8. Sick
9. End of the Dream
10. Oceans
11. Never Go Back
12. Swimming Home
Bonus Tracks
13. New Way to Bleed
14. Say You Will
15. Disappear
16. Secret Door

I guess Amy Lee has some rule about releasing new albums less than five years apart, 'cause dang. She sure does take her sweet time, doesn't she? Well, no matter. The new Evanescence is here and... it's a grower. Not bad, just a grower. There are a couple reasons for this. For one, some of the textures of the earlier albums have been replaced with a giant wall of distortion that runs through most of the album. The guitars are really up front in the mix and LOUD! I love chunky guitars and the riffs here are cool. The problem is that they get in the way. It feels like you have to listen to the song around the guitars instead of them being a part. This would be great if Evanescence was a shoe-gazer band, but alas. Second, during the first listen or two Amy Lee's vocal melodies tend to sound too similar from track to track. I grew to appreciate them after awhile but the combo of the guitars and vocals make a lot of the songs sound the same. Thankfully, after a few listens I began to pick out the songs, enjoying them more.

I also think this album is more commercial than the artsy The Open Door. "What You Want," "Sick," and "Oceans" are all cool hard rockers designed for radio airplay. My favorite songs are probably "Swimming Home," an ethereal ballad and "Say You Will" - a hook filled bonus track from the deluxe edition. Seriously, people, what's with leaving some of the best tracks as bonuses? If I had my way I would have swapped out "My Heart is Broken" and "Lost in Paradise" for "Say You Will" and "Disappear." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Evanescence but it's definitely not breaking any new ground.

Now let's talk lyrics for a second, shall we? Amy Lee is married, rich, and famous. Just how tortured can she really be? I mean, I know that celebrities can have problems but the angst in these lyrics seems rather manufactured to me. As my wife mocked, "My heart is broken... from being so rich and famous!" At one point Amy Lee sings, "I now know what it's like to be lost" or something like that. Really? It just feels fake to me, especially hearing about how recording this album was so much fun for her. I would rather she just write happy lyrics. That's okay, y'know!

Useless Fact: There were several pre-order packages offered and we, of course, got the deluxe edition with four extra tracks and a DVD. Haven't watched the DVD yet though.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not Dead, Just Busy...and Broke

Hey everyone.

I've been breaking my "At Least 5 Updates a Month" rule. I is a sorry. It's been really busy around here lately and I've felt pretty burnt out. On the plus side I've got some good music coming up. We got Evanescence's new album in the mail the other day and I've given that a few spins. In short: it's a grower. Also, Grave Robber's new album is coming out the seventh of next month and I'm really excited about that one! Also, Megadeth's Thirteen will be out on Nov. 1st. So there's some good stuff coming but the rest of November and December will be pretty sparse again. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Hopefully the new year will hold some promise. Thank you to everyone who visits!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cooper, Alice - "Welcome 2 My Nightmare"

Cooper, Alice - Welcome 2 My Nightmare
2011, Universal

1. I Am Made of You
2. Caffeine
3. The Nightmare Returns
4. A Runaway Train
5. Last Man on Earth
6. The Congregation
7. I'll Bite Your Face Off
8. Disco Boogie Bloodbath Fever
9. Ghouls Gone Wild
10. Something to Remember Me By
11. When Hell Comes Home
12. What Baby Wants
13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
14. The Underture

I've been complaining a lot lately about not having any new and interesting music. Well, the other day at Walmart I saw this, Welcome 2 My Nightmare. I don't have much experience with Ol' Black Eyes. I've owned both The Last Temptation and Brutal Planet and they never did much for me. I've never heard the original Welcome to My Nightmare either. I know I'm probably making Alice fans cringe right now! Anyway, on a lark I decided to get this because it looked different and interesting. All in all I'm really glad I did.

"I Am Made of You" is a phenomenal worship song and one of the main reasons I picked this up (I'd heard samples on Itunes). Alice uses auto-tune for the verses but I think it gives the song a very ethereal effect. It's a slower paced song and kind of an odd way to kick off the sequel to one of Alice's most popular albums but I can't argue with the results - I love this song. "Caffeine" treads in what I assume would be normal Alice territory. It's peppy and catchy and I like it too. Some of my other favorites are the country flavored "A Runaway Train," the bizarre "Last Man on Earth," the club anthem "Disco Boogie Bloodbath Fever." Alice kind of raps on it, which apparently annoys some long-time fans. However, in context of the song I think it makes sense as the character is mocking club culture anyway. There are some weak moments here though. I'm not too crazy about "Something to Remember Me By." It's a love song. It's not bad or anything but it just kind of sits on the disc around all these fun, creepy songs. I don't skip it, but it's definitely not a highlight. Oh, this album also features Kesha. You know... friggin' Ke$ha. I was surprised that the song featuring her ("What Baby Wants") is actually one of my favorites. Weird huh? "The Underture" features pieces of songs from both Nightmare albums. It's okay but it really just makes me want to get the original Nightmare disc.

Useless Fact: I've heard that Alice was planning on continuing the story from his last album, Along Came a Spider, when he decided to to a sequel to Welcome to My Nightmare instead.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Galactic Cowboys - "At the End of the Day"

Galactic Cowboys - At the End of the Day
1998, Metal Blade

1. Nothing to Say
2. Ants
3. Just Like Me
4. a. Where Do I Say?
5. b. Bright Horizons
6. c. Puppet Show
7. d. Mr. Magnet
8. e. Never Understand
9. f. Ranch On Mars, Part 2 (Set Me Free)
10. g. How Does it Feel?
11. Young Man's Dream
12. Shine
13. The Shape
14. It's Not Over
15. Through
16. At the End of the Day

So what should I find in my CD collection but Galactic Cowboy's At the End of the Day! I didn't even know I still HAD a copy of this album. I found it looking for something different to listen to. Unfortunately, after putting it on my ipod and giving it a spin I found out why I forgot about it. It's not that great. The things I always loved about the Cowboys were a) Ben Huggins' vocals b) great harmonies and c) cool thrash riffs. By this time though Ben was singing lead on fewer and fewer of the songs and the cool metal stuff had fallen by the wayside (for the most part). As a result I don't think their later albums were as original or distinctive as the Sam Taylor era (and Machine Fish) albums and that includes this one. There are a few cool tunes on here, like "Nothing to Say" and "Young Man's Dream" but most of it just slides off my brain like slime on a wall. Sam Taylor may have been a total jackalope, but he did know how to produce a great record.

Useless Fact: Tracks 4-10 are called "The Machine Fish Suite" and detail the band's feelings about their experiences in the music business.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Mustard Seeds - "Red"

The Mustard Seeds - Red
1998, Radio Mafia

1. Sylvia Beams
2. Coming Up Roses
3. Can't Take Me Down
4. Dying
5. Farewell To Andre
6. I'm Okay
7. Alabama Sings
8. Queen of Misery
9. Way of the World
10. Blind
11. Quicksand (Acoustic)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it - just be more awesome. That's probably the thinking that went into making Red. It's exactly what I expect from the album between the self-titled and III. While it's mostly similar to the debut in terms of sound and style you can hear a little bit of the commercial sounds that were present in III. This is not a bad thing. Oh, and I LOVE the acoustic version of "Quicksand." I hope someday the boys do an acoustic "de-plumed" type album because that would be awesome. Honestly, I don't think these guys could make a bad album if they tried. I will say that this disc needs some remastering as it sounds to me like the vocals are pushed back in the mix - a shame for sure. Also, the cover art doesn't do much for me. Minor complaints though, The Mustard Seeds remain one of my new favorite bands and their albums are definitely the top picks for this year.

Useless Fact: There are actually two versions of this album. One with the cover I have and another that has a butterfly on the cover. I think that cover looks better than the one I have. It also has a different end track, called "Hollywood."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Behold the Kingdom - "The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail"

Behold the Kingdom - The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail
2011, Rottweiler

1. We Are Zion (Prayer of the Messiah)
2. Restoration
3. Sown in Dishonor
4. Living Hope
5. El Shaddai
6. The Suffering Servant
7. Cut You Down
8. Prideful Demise
9. Fall of the Philistines
10. The Valley of Elah

I got an email by the head of Rottweiler records want to know if I reviewed CDs. He gave me a digital copy of Behold the Kingdom's The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail. I'm always nervous when people want to give me CDs to review. The albums on this website are usually things I know I like or have something to say about. I really hate to have to give a bad review for something that somebody's trying to promote. Luckily, I don't have to do that here - but not for the reason you think.

I've never been a fan of deathcore/metalcore. That's what Behold the Kingdom is: hard, heavy, brutal deathcore. I'm still not really a fan so I can't give this album the fair review it deserves. I like the thick, heavy guitars and I do appreciate the bold Christian stance the band takes. However, all the "core" trappings are there, namely disjointed song structure. I NEED to have some coherent structure in my music. It's one of the reason why I don't like bands like Dream Theater that are big on technical wankery but low on hooks. It just seems like "core" bands just bash through a song and don't leave me anything to hang on to. I think my problem is that I'm old. I'm an old man and I just need some good old fashioned verse/chorus/bridge like gramma used to make. Now I realize there are lots of people out there who love this style. If so, you'll probably be amazed at just how heavy Behold the Kingdom is. So yeah - if you're into "core"-type music (or insanely heavy music in general) definitely check these guys out.

Useless Fact: I think these guys are from Ft. Wayne - along with one of my top favorite bands, Grave Robber.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harmony - "Chapter II: Aftermath"

Harmony - Chapter II: Aftermath
2008, Ulterium/Nightmare

1. Prevail
2. Aftermath
3. Rain
4. Don't Turn Away
5. Kingdom
6. Silently We Fade
7. Inner Peace
8. Weak
9. I Run
10. Hollow Faces
11. End of My Road

I've been selling some of my old video game strategy guides lately and that allowed me to scrape together enough money to buy some new music. Harmony is a band I've heard samples of for awhile now and I've really enjoyed them. I'm pleased to report the album itself is absolutely killer. Harmony play a style of progressive euro-power metal not unlike bands like Balance of Power. I think what struck me first about this band is the vocalist. He reminds me a little of Lance King (from Balance of Power - surprise, surprise) and Stryper's own Michael Sweet. It's been awhile since I've heard vocals of this type executed so well. The other thing I like about this disc is that the keyboards are shoved into the background. Sometimes in this particular genre the keyboards are too "up front." They overpower the riffs rob the songs of their heaviness. Not here, though. Here the keys are just what they should be - garnish. They add a little atmospheric gothic flair to the music allowing the album to showcase its awesome, heavy riffage. Also, hooks galore here. Really good catchy hooks that keep me coming back. In fact, I can't think of anything negative about this disc. It's a great way to kick off the start of the fall season!

Useless Fact: While the album title is "Chapter II," I don't think the bands albums follow any kind of story. That and I don't really know enough about this band to provide a really interesting fact.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Music Musings: The Weather

The hot weather makes me enjoy music less.


I don't know why but being sopping wet with sweat every single minute of every single day makes me cranky and tired. It also makes music impossible to enjoy. I suppose it's a good thing this summer has been pretty lacking in new music. Partly that's because we're broke and can't get any new music but the other part is because since Devin Townsend's albums there's been NOTHING all summer I've been interested in.

I was able to get a CD the other day by selling off some game guides I had. I actually considered postponing listening to it until the weather got cooler.

So that's why there's isn't as much action here lately. Now that I think of it I think I already told you all of this before. Oh well. The heat has finally fried my brain I think.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nina - "No Shadow of Turning"

Nina - No Shadow of Turning
1991, REX

1. Calm Before the Storm
2. Emergency 2
3. In a Little While
4. Mirror Image
5. Where Are You Now?
6. Separate Yourself
7. Anyway, I Think It's Over
8. You Hold Your Heart in Your Hands
9. You Better Run Away
10. I'd Like to See the Way It Fits
11. Reality of Love
12. Daughter of Jerusalem
13. Turn, Turn, Turn

Here's a little obscure piece of Christian music history. No Shadow of Turning was a solo album from Nina Llopis of the hardcore/thrash/punk band The Lead. Her debut isn't thrash though, far from it. It's alternative rock and it's interesting. "I'd Like to See the Way it Fits" is Nina's attempt to do a pop song. It's kind of funny because there's all this earnest alt-rock then all of a sudden it's Kim Boyce or Lisa Beville for a song, then back to the rock. I also really enjoy her version of "Turn, Turn, Turn." Probably the biggest mark against No Shadow of Turning is the production which seems really thin and tinny to me. The album is way out of print and dirt cheap as well as available for download. If you're a connoissuer of early 90's Christian music you should definitely check this out.

Useless Fact: Nina thanks the boys of the Lead in her liner notes for putting up with her "non thrash" mode. These days I think Nina is doing worship seminars. She used to have a website but I can't find it anymore.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

U2 - "The Joshua Tree"

U2 - The Joshua Tree
1987, Island

1. Where the Streets Have No Name
2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
3. With or Without You
4. Bullet the Blue Sky
5. Running to Stand Still
6. Red Hill Mining Town
7. In God's Country
8. One Tree Hill
9. Exit
10. Mothers of the Disappeared

I know I'm about to commit some sort of musical blasphemy here but... I don't really like The Joshua Tree that much. I remember liking the first three tracks a lot when I was young because they played them on MTV endlessly. I bought the tape through Columbia record club (wow! remember record clubs?!) and begged mom to play it in the car. I also begged her to rewind the tape after "With or Without You" was over because those first three tracks were the only ones I liked. I'm proud to say I pretty much drove her crazy with those three songs over and over and over again. Of course, I'm getting mine now because I've seen the Backyardigans' "Tale of the Mighty Knights" at least 70 times. But anyway, back to U2. I still don't really care for this album that much but I couldn't tell you why. Aside from those three childhood favorites I find the rest of the album to be rather boring. I know it's a classic and I know how influential it is... but I just can't get into it. Frequent readers of this blog shouldn't be surprised though - they know I'm weird.

Useless Fact: Christian metal band Bride did a cover of "Bullet the Blue Sky" for one of their videos.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Music Musings: Gear Shift! - Adventures in Shuffle

Good grief...

This has been the hottest, longest summer I've ever suffered through. We've had temps down here in southern Georgia of over 100 for weeks at a time. Ugh! Also, since Decon and Ghost there's not much music coming out until October when Megadeth and Evanescence release their new albums. Bummer. So, I've done something I usually never do - put my Ipod on shuffle.

See, I'm an album person. I listen to albums - in their entirety. I consider all the songs, the order of the songs, etc. My wife is the opposite as she listens to single songs, not albums. So in this musical drought I decided to switch it up a bit and let fate decide what songs I listen to.

My friend and I had an idea for a radio show called "Gear Shift." The idea was that we would play something really heavy then play something really mellow just to mess with people. My shuffled Ipod is pretty much the very definition of that. It'll play Sixpence None the Richer, Mortification, Steve Taylor, Ayreon, The Choir, etc. What's funny is that sometimes the transitions are really good. Occasionally you'll get this totally mellow track then some heavy song will come on but it totally works. It's been fun.

It's also interesting to note just how "random" random actually is. Sometimes it will favor a particular artist or album. One time I got a lot of songs from Steve Taylor's On The Fritz. Other times it will pick a theme - like early 90's Christian metal, or straight up pop songs. It's like my Ipod actually has moods of its own. Weird.

So anyway, not much of an update - for which I apologize. I've got a few albums for the next couple of months but it's going to be a little sparse. At least until new albums come out or I can get some money that I'm not spending on games for my PSP.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Devin Townsend Project - "Ghost"

The Devin Townsend Project - Ghost
2011, Inside Out

1. Fly
2. Heart Baby
3. Feather
4. Kawaii
5. Ghost
6. Blackberry
7. Monsoon
8. Dark Matters
9. Texada
10. Seams
11. Infinite Ocean
12. As You Were

Ghost is truly an achievement. It's simple, melodic, peaceful, and beautiful. It's just as challenging as Deconstruction but I think the rewards for diving into this one are far greater. Some songs, like "Heart Baby," seem to have more in common with Enya than anything Devin has done previously. The album also takes a slight industrial/trance detour with "Dark Matters" and "Texada." Surprisingly, it fits the flow of the album very well. While Deconstruction seemed to be a "greatest hits" compilation of all Devin's usual tricks (bumped up to 11, of course), Ghost stands by itself - truly unique. It's a great way to end this four album cycle.

Oh, I also wanted to point out that the cover and booklet art are absolutely gorgeous!

Useless Fact: Those who pre-ordered the album got access to four tracks on Ghost II. I'm not sure if the four tracks, "Drench," "Fall," "Mend," and "Watch You" are supposed to actually be Ghost II or whether they're just a preview.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Devin Townsend Project - "Deconstruction"

Devin Townsend Project - Deconstruction
2011, Inside Out

1. Praise the Lowered
2. Stand
3. Juular
4. Planet of the Apes
5. Sumeria
6. The Mighty Masturbator
7. Pandemic
8. Deconstruction
9. Poltergeist

Being the third album in the Devin Townsend Project four album series, Deconstruction is the heaviest, most dense, most progressive entry. It's demanding and uncompromising. Is it good? I honestly don't know. I was absolutely overwhelmed the first few times I listened to this - especially during the longer songs. There were times during "Planet of the Apes" and "The Mighty Masturbator" where my brain literally could not keep track of the song. I was totally lost. It gets easier with more listens but the fact remains - this disc is a challenge. You literally have to plan a day to listen to it. The concept invovles a cheeseburger, the devil, and the meaning of life, but I couldn't really tell you how it all fits together.

I really like some of the shorter songs "Juular," "Sumeria," and "Poltergeist." It honestly makes me wish Devin would do a really heavy Addicted-type album. It's weird because I usually like Devin's sprawling epic songs but there's usually something to latch onto or a hook that keeps me coming back. Here, though, there's just too much going on. It doesn't seem as cohesive or connected. Of course, I think that's kind of the point but it doesn't make for a frequent player for me. I like all the songs under 8 minutes long. I don't hate the others, though. I hope that as time goes on I can foster more of an appreciation for what's going on here but right now it's work to listen to. Wonderful and strange work, but work nonetheless.

Useless Fact: The album boasts a bevy of guest vocalists including the guy from Opeth (forgot his name) and Floor Jansen who's frequently seen in Ayreon and Star One.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crash Test Dummies - "God Shuffled His Feet"

Crash Test Dummies - God Shuffled His Feet
1993, Arista

1. God Shuffled His Feet
2. Afternoons and Coffeespoons
3. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
4. In the Days of the Caveman
5. Swimming In Your Ocean
6. Here I Stand Before Me
7. I Think I'll Disappear Now
8. How Does a Duck Know?
9. When I Go Out With Artists
10. The Psychic
11. Two Knights and Maidens
12. Crash Course

Have you ever bought a used CD and wondered just how it ended up in the store? How many hands it passed through? Was it liked? Ignored? I only bring this up because I bought this CD at Goodwill for $1.50 and by the looks of it I'm pretty sure it's made the rounds of every pawn shop and Goodwill in whatever cities it's been in. I got this album for three songs: "Afternoons and Coffeespoons," "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm," and "When I Go Out With Artists." The rest of the album is decent but I love those three songs for some reason. These guys are generally considered a one-hit wonder in the states due to the popularity of "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm."

I looked up the meaning to "God Shuffled His Feet" because I was really curious about the lyrics. I didn't find anything definitive (i.e. from the band themselves) but those who claim to be in the know say this song is about there not being a God at all. I guess the video would back that up as it's about a crowd of people entering a theater to see God only to have Him be a puppet controlled by a man behind a curtain. Before I read that I thought the song was about how God doesn't have to prove himself to us or answer our stupid, asinine questions. Oh well... like I said, I only bought this for three songs and the title track wasn't one of them.

Useless Fact: Weird Al did a parody of "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" called "Headline News" in which he sang about various news items of the time (Tonya Harding was one, if I recall).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Scaterd Few - "Jawboneofanass"

Scaterd Few - Jawboneofanass
1994, Faceless Gen

1. Witchcraft
2. Dreams
3. Sinking in Sorrow
4. Sheets
5. Stretch
6. Once Upon
7. Oom Pah Pah
8. Reel Not Real
9. Holding Stare
10. Dame
11. Ransom
12. Pinnacle

Back in the day I was really miffed that I never got to hear Jawboneofanass. Sin Disease ranks as one of my favorite albums of all time so I always wanted to hear the follow up. Sadly, no Christian book store anywhere near me carried it so I went without. I was sad. However, the band has recently released their entire back catalogue online! Now you can get everything. I quickly bought Jawbone and sadly, was disappointed. This album is far more melodic and mellow than the previous one. Where the first one was filled with short, punchy songs, this one is filled with longer, sprawling compositions that didn't really grab me. It makes me a little sad inside. I'm hoping that this will grow on me over time but right now I can't say it does much for me.

Useless Fact: Rumor has it Jawboneofanass was recorded three times before it was finally released. That may be some of the reason this doesn't quite jibe with me.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jughead - "Jughead"

Jughead - Jughead
2004, Inside Out

1. Halfway Home to Elvis
2. C'mon
3. Snow in Tahiti
4. Promise
5. Bullet Train
6. Waiting on the Son
7. Yesterday I Found Myself
8. Be Like You
9. Flowers
10. Shame On the Butterfly
11. Paging Willie Mays

My good friend Uvulapie suggested Jughead to me as we are both fans of the Mustard Seeds. I've learned that when Uvulapie suggests a band, you should just go out and get it without asking questions. So was he right? Sure was! Considering Jughead consists of Ty Tabor (King's X) along with members of the Mustard Seeds it's, like, mathematically impossible for this album to suck. In fact, it's a great combination of Ty's style with the accessibility and catchy hooks of a Mustard Seeds album. The album closer "Paging Willie Mays" manages to somehow be both laid back and totally epic at the same time. Quite an enjoyable little album. Too bad they only made one.

Useless Fact: Ty only sings on two songs, "Promise" and "Shame on the Butterfly."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - "Alpocalypse"

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - Alpocalypse
2011, Volcano

1. Perform This Way
2. CNR
3. TMZ
4. Skipper Dan
5. Polka Face
6. Craigslist
7. Party in the C.I.A.
8. Ringtone
9. Another Tattoo
10. If That Isn't Love
11. Whatever You Like
12. Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me

There's just something comforting about listening to one of Weird Al's polka medleys of today's hits. I suppose it's because in the ever-changing world of pop music there's one person we can always rely on to make fun of it: Weird Al. I'm happy to say that after countless albums and nearly 30 years in the music industry Al's still got it. He can still make me smile. That's quite an accomplishment if you ask me. This album is a bit different for me in that I like the originals and the parodies equally. That's not to say the originals aren't as good - I'm saying the parodies are better. Though some of my favorites are originals. Take "CNR" for example, a guitar-driven take on the White Stripes with lyrics about the amazing feats of one Charles Nelson Riley. I also like the somewhat melancholy "Skipper Dan." I don't think I've ever had an emotional connection with a Weird Al song but I guess I can relate to the subject matter. The Hanson-esque "If That Isn't Love" is another highlight as well. Probably the only songs on here that I don't like are "Ringtone" and "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me." The former is a Queen style parody which seems to be all over the place and the style the song is in actually annoys me(but I don't really like Queen anyway so there's that). The latter is a piano ballad about hating forwards. I started hating forwards in 1999 so this song is nearly 11 years too late. It's not bad, I just don't find it as amusing and not a great way to end an album (at least for me). Aside from that I think Alpocalypse is a strong album and I'm happy to welcome Al back to the spotlight for another fifteen minutes.

Useless Fact: Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek actually plays on the Doors homage "Craigslist." Also, there is a video for every single one of the songs on the album. "Perform This Way" and "CNR" are particularly funny.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vengeance Rising - "Destruction Comes"

Vengeance Rising - Destruction Comes
1991/2011, Intense Millennium

1. You Can't Stop It
2. The Rising
3. Before the Time
4. Bring the Sword
5. He Don't Own Nothing
6. Countless Corpses
7. Thanatos
8. You Will Bow
9. Hyde Under Pressure
10. Raegoul

I was a little harsh on this disc in my first review. I actually hesitated getting this reissue because it didn't end up being as good as I remember. However, I think I might have been too quick to judge. I don't know if it's quite as bad as I said. Not every song has only two riffs - there's a little bit more to them than that. While it's not nearly as amazing as the two previous albums I found myself liking this album again after the repeated listens. I remember when it originally came out I got it along with The Crucified's The Pillars of Humanity. I actually liked Destruction Comes more. There are still some cool thrash songs on here - "Before The Time" remains awesome. I also like "He Don't Own Nothing" (despite the fact that grammatically the lyric indicates he does own something) and "You Will Bow." Though I think my favorite remains the absolutely bizarre "Raegoul." After reading the lyrics again I think this song is actually about the dude on the cover. Somebody better informed should feel free to enlighten me.

Since this is an Intense Millennium album we need to discuss the cover art for a moment. It's great! No banners, no photoshop clip art, no redesigned logos - just the original cover in all its gory glory! See, guys, was that so hard? My CD came with a sticker of "Raegoul" that you can put over the cover in case your grandma might see it. It also came with a guitar pick and the first track of the CD is the "Before the Time" video shot for Hot Metal 4.

Useless Fact: I was right! Ramald Domkus did, in fact, do the background vocals on "Raegoul." Of course, "Ramald Domkus" is wrongly cited as Jimmy P. Brown (Deliverance) in the liner notes when it's actually Allen Aguirre of Scaterd Few.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - "Off the Deep End"

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - Off the Deep End
1992, Volcano

1. Smells Like Nirvana
2. Trigger Happy
3. I Can't Watch This
4. Polka Your Eyes Out
5. I Was Only Kidding
6. The White Stuff
7. When I Was Your Age
8. Taco Grande
9. Airline Amy
10. The Plumbing Song
11. You Don't Love Me Anymore

I don't like Nirvana. I never have. I'm not one of those who think Kurt Cobain was some genius. They were just the right band at the right time. Nirvana (and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden) did change the musical landscape but I don't necessarily think it was for the better. Naturally, I loved "Smells Like Nirvana" because it poked fun at a band who took themselves way too seriously. So, anyway, rant aside Off the Deep End is one of my favorite Al platters. "Trigger Happy" is similar to old Beach Boys songs where the band would go on and on about the specs of their hot rod except in "Trigger Happy" the singer is running down the specs on his AK-47. "When I Was Your Age" is a my favorite song on the album and probably a contender for most favorite Al song ever. Probably because I feel like an old man myself and I have to restrain myself from telling all the young whipper-snappers out there how good they have it. Off the Deep End is just full of good, silly music. Go getcha one!

Useless Fact: While "You Don't Love Me Anymore" is an original song, the video was a parody of Extreme's "More Than Words."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Well lookee there! This is the second year that I'm an actual father on Father's Day. Today that will mean breakfast at Cracker Barrel and some time in Renaissance Italy assassinating Templar agents. Also, Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there that are doing a good jobs. To the fathers that aren' poop on you!

Here's a picture of my dad with Lexi.

Now I can't say dad and I are the Gilmore Girls (er...boys, I guess) or anything, but he did the best he could with what he had. I never went hungry. We always had electric. We went on vacations. Christmases were awesome. Most importantly, dad's allowance always kept me in CDs. Thanks dad! I appreciate all you do!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - "Alapalooza"

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - Alapalooza
1993, Volcano

1. Jurassic Park
2. Young, Dumb & Ugly
3. Bedrock Anthem
4. Frank's 2000" TV
5. Achy Breaky Song
6. Traffic Jam
7. Talk Soup
8. Livin' in the Fridge
9. She Never Told Me She Was a Mime
10. Harvey the Wonder Hamster
11. Waffle King
12. Bohemian Polka

...and so begins my quest to add some "Weird Al" to my collection!

Mr. Yankovic's albums tend to be the most popular when there's a huge pop culture thing going on. Unfortunately, Alapalooza didn't really have a big parody. It also didn't help that what could've been considered the "big" parody wasn't one of his best ("Bedrock Anthem" - I agree with Flea - it's just not his best). However, as is usually the case, despite the fact that it's not one of the popular ones, I love this album. I think "Jurassic Park" is probably one of Al's best parodies in general. Had the general public been more familiar with the original "MacArthur Park" I think this parody would have carried the album farther because it's really funny. "And I think those things will harm me/ 'Cause they sure don't act like Barney/ And they think that I'm their dinner/ Not their friend, Oh no!" Great stuff. I smile every time I hear that line. This album is full of wonderful and funny songs though. I like the glam rock kick of "Young, Dumb & Ugly." I also really dig "Talk Soup" and "Waffle King" both emulating So/Us era Peter Gabriel. I had a girlfriend a long time ago and we loved the short, simple "Harvey the Wonder Hamster." Her, her sister, and I used to sing this song as loud as we could when I would hang out at her house. Finally, this album doesn't feature the traditional polka medley but instead contains a polka rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Cool cover art as well.

Useless Fact: "Waffle King" was actually the B-side of the "Smells Like Nirvana" single. I know this because I actually owned the single in question.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Deliverance - "What a Joke"

Deliverance - What a Joke
1991/2011, Intense Millennium

1. Introduction
2. Prophet of Idiocy
3. Pseudo Intellectual
4. Cheeseburger Maker Du
5. What a Joke
6. Chipped Beef
7. After Forever
8. It's the Beat
9. Product of Society
10. Happy Star
11. J.P.D.
12. Pray
13. Silent Night
14. J.I.G.
15. Purgatory Sandwich With Mustard
16. Attack
Bonus Track
17. Strings of Sorrow

I've always liked What a Joke. In fact, I go back to it a lot more than you might think. It's not my favorite D album but even with the filler and the joke songs I still think it's a pretty awesome thrash album. I didn't plan on it originally but I finally broke down and got this reissue from Intense Millennium largely because it has a previously unreleased track, "Strings of Sorrow." Unfortunately, it's only a minute and a half long, it's a ballad, and it doesn't fit with the thrash material on this record. Granted, it's still cool to have it on CD - it's just not what I was expecting. I can say that the remaster is spectacular! It cleans up the production considerably making every thing cleaner and brighter. As a result the guitars sound a little heavier - you might even hear some things you never heard on the original! Seriously, the sound quality here is leaps and bounds above the original. Even if you have the original I would seriously recommend getting this one too.

And now the bad...

I'm really disappointed that I have to say this but... the cover art. Really?! Really, guys?! There wasn't a better idea than this? This cover art looks like it was made by somebody who a) hates What a Joke and/or b) is a HUGE fan of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Controversy erupted over at the Christian Metal Realm because Jimmy P. Brown himself expressed his disgust for the cover, considering it an insult to both him and the band. I'm sorry but I cannot imagine how this cover was ever approved. They do include the original cover art but it is dark and blurry - kind of like a middle finger to anyone who doesn't like their new art. I'm glad Intense Millennium is releasing classics like What a Joke but dang...

Useless Fact: My version came with a guitar pick with the cover art on it. I think that was supposed to be the pre-order goodie but I got it too. Also, the new cover is limited to the first 1000 printings. The rest will have the original art.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Uthanda - "Believe"

Uthanda - Believe
1992, ERG

1. Shadowplay
2. Love Child
3. Did You
4. My Addiction
5. Fear
6. Midnight Jasmine
7. Sunrise
8. Wrapped Around Your Heart
9. Citizen
10. Cool Water
11. You and Me
12. Cars
13. Heroes

I remember when my cousin first let me borrow this on tape because she had just gotten it and wanted me to hear it. We both loved Uthanda's first album, Groove, so I thought I would like this too. I was at my grandmother's at the time and she had this enormous stereo set-up with a big old radio, a tape player, and a record player stacked together in a little glass cabinet. All of that sound could be funnelled through those enormous earphones that look like Princess Leia buns. So anyway, I listened and rocked in my grandma's chair and wasn't too terribly impressed. I didn't hate it, but it really didn't strike a chord with me like the debut did. The band experiments a little with their sound. "Sunrise" and "Cool Water" sound like they could have been on Groove. The other tunes are a little bit more experimental but still solid alternative rock (they've ditched the "hippy" look too). After hearing this again years later I enjoy it a little bit more than before. I especially like the "Cars" cover. It's definitely worth checking out but I don't think it will ever have a place in my heart like Groove does.

Useless Fact: There was a contest where one could win a chance to bowl with the band. I'd love to know if anyone won the contest and if they actually got to bowl with Uthanda.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lady Gaga - "Born This Way"

Lady Gaga - Born This Way
2011, Interscope

1. Marry the Night
2. Born This Way
3. Government Hooker
4. Judas
5. Americano
6. Hair
7. ScheiBe
8. Bloody Mary
9. Bad Kids
10. Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)
11. Heavy Metal Lover
12. Electric Chapel
13. You & I
14. The Edge of Glory


Well... it was nice while it lasted. At least Born This Way was only $1. I loved The Fame. In fact, it was one of my top picks for last year. I don't usually buy pop albums, but Lady Gaga's quirky pop songs were pretty infectious. Sadly, when "Born This Way" came out I didn't like it at all. After all, it's just Madonna's "Express Yourself" with different lyrics. The biggest problem with Born This Way the album is that a majority of the songs here sound just like "Born This Way." What happened to the syncopated beats? The little catchy raps? The simple dirty songs about sex? The cool electronica? Ugh...most everything here is grand and over-produced and, worst of all, not very fun to listen to. The braying in "Americano" is particularly annoying. My favorite songs tend to be the ones that don't sound like "Born This Way" - namely "Government Hooker" (my favorite on the album), "Bloody Mary," and "You & I." That last one there almost sounds like a techno-country song.

I also find the lyrical themes rather tiresome. I get it - we should all love ourselves. You should just be you - whether you're a good person or a total jackass... YOU WERE BORN THAT WAY, BABY! You don't need to change! You don't need to try and be a better person or do any self reflection! Ugh (have I said that already?)! Oh, and let's not forget "Hair" in which Gaga actually sings about her hair. No, really. Her hair and about how free it is. I miss the days when she would just sing about Disco Sticks and dancing. She's also mixing some good ol' Catholicism in with all this self love. Okaaaay... but didn't Madonna do that like decades ago? Suffice to say, I'm not impressed with Born This Way.

Ooh... look... she's a motorcycle!(?)

Useless Fact: There's a few bonus tracks that I missed because I got the $1 download version. Those songs are, "Black Jesus + Amen Fashion," "Fashion of His Love," and "The Queen." Unlike with Panic! at the Disco - I couldn't care less if I have these songs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mad at the World - "Flowers in the Rain"

Mad at the World - Flowers in the Rain
1988, Frontline

1. Fearfully & Wonderfully
2. Flowers in the Rain
3. Why?
4. Puppet Strings
5. No Mistakes
6. Wait
7. I Don't Wanna Go There
8. Faith is a Perfect Road
9. In My Dream
10. Love Light in the Midnight
11. This Lie
12. Dancing On Your Grave

Since I first got into Mad at the World with Boomerang I never listened to Flowers in the Rain...until now! Actually I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The band starts to add some more hard rock elements to their sound on this record previewing what would happen with Seasons of Love. It seems like for the first half of the album they do a techno-pop song, then do a rock song, then back to a pop song. On the second half of the album they seem to combine both approaches and these are the songs that I find more compelling. I love tracks like "In My Dream" and "This Lie." It almost makes me wish they would have experimented a little bit more with this type of techno/rock fusion - it was quite interesting. There are some cheesy lyrics here and there but nothing that turned me off the music. Probably the biggest problem with this disc is the wafer thin production. The sound of the guitars is so thin they're barely audible. Also, it sounds like there's almost no bass to speak of. This kind of electronic music needs a little more bass I say. Glad I finally checked this out!

Useless Fact: It looks like Rose brother Ray is actually featured as a member on this album. That makes three Rose brothers on an MATW disc - a record, I believe.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Haven - "Your Dying Day"

Haven - Your Dying Day
1990/2012, Retroactive

1. On Judgement Day
2. Deliver Me
3. Murder
4. Below the Grave
5. The Calling
6. America
7. Escape
8. Help Me Follow
9. I Found Love
10. Your Dying Day

For some reason or another I never really cared for Haven's debut. I can't put a finger on exactly why, I just know that it didn't really hold my interest. I think part of the reason is the original production which makes the music seem "far away" - if that makes any sense. My mind wanders and before long I'm writing stories in my head and not really listening to the music. Speaking of which it's power metal. It's not bad either though tracks like "Deliver Me" and "Murder" just reek of early Queensryche - especially in vocalist Kevin Ayers' lower register. His vibrato can get a little over-the-top silly, particularly in "America." I like it okay but I definitely prefer Age of Darkness to this one. As you can guess by the CD cover the theme of this album is: YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!!! Okay, there's a more to it than that but the old Christian metal scare tactics are in full-force here. Though it's because of this album that I still remember certain passages in Revelation. In fact, most of the Scripture I remember to this day were lyrics to Christian metal songs.

This album was re-issued by M8 way back in the day and included extra tracks and what not. I believe it was titled Straight From the Cutting Room Floor. Also, as I understand it the mastering was WORSE than it was on the original. Retroactive reissued this album in 2012, which is the version I have. It has been completely remastered by J. Powell at Steinhaus. I tell you the truth, the sound is leaps and bounds better. You're no longer listening to a tinny, muddy album from a mile away. Everything is crisp, clean, and up front. I definitely enjoyed this album a lot more with the improved mastering. I was a little disappointed with the packaging. It's a cheap digipak with no insert whatsoever. Phooey!

A little story/rant: I had a friend who saw this tape in the Christian bookstore and begged his mom to get it for him. She didn't because she didn't like the cover or didn't like the idea of metal or whatever. Later, when my friend had a little more independence he got into Nirvana and Pearl Jam and all that. He won't touch Christian music with a ten foot pole now. What's funny is that this same mother relents that her son doesn't want to listen to any Christian music. Way to go mom! I'm so thankful to my mom for always supporting my music tastes.

Useless Fact: Be careful when searching for Haven CDs online. There's a British pop band by the same name that's released several albums.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Music Musings: My Dream Project

Hey everyone!

Today I'm going to let you inside my head for a bit. Scary, I know. This may surprise you but I do a lot of thinking about music. I often rewrite songs in my head, assign new projects to vocalists, and dream up concept albums. Since today is a rather slow day and I don't have anything else to do I'll let you in on one of my "dream projects."

Concept Album about Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection.

I'm aware that this has actually been done before. A bunch of people got together and did Hero which I believe was a rock opera featuring Christian music's best and brightest. Michael Tait (DC Talk) played the part of Jesus. Mine would be a lot different. First, it would be a LOT heavier but progressive - like an Ayreon CD but with more heavy. Secondly, it would feature both Christian and non-Christian talent. I don't have a set cast list but here's what I've been thinking.

Mary - Hayley Williams (Paramore): I picked Hayley for Mary because she's young and has proven to me that she can tackle a wider range of styles and emotions than "angsty." Though to be honest having to birth the Son of God might make anyone angsty so there's another point for her.

John the Baptist - Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian): I love Hansi's voice and think he would be perfect to play the voice in the wilderness.

Zechariah - Terry Scott Taylor (DA, Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs): Our friend Terry would have one good song, namely, "Benedictus." It would be soft, acoustic, moving, and beautiful all at the same time. It would perfectly capture the mood of someone able to die feeling fulfilled.

Herod - Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine): We need somebody nice and bombastic for Herod. I think Eric fits the bill nicely.

Jesus - Jimmy P. Brown, II (Deliverance, Jupiter VI): As a huge fan of the D I'm convinced that Jimmy has the passion and pathos to voice the Savior.

Peter - Damien Wilson (ex-Threshold, Star One): Damien's voice is another one of those that just gives me chills every time I hear it. I think he's got the gusto to match Peter's strong emotions yet the ability to also reflect Peter's regrets.

John - Dug Pinnick (King's X): Because we need some soul up in this joint.

Judas - Roger Rose (ex-Mad at the World): I was going to pick Randy Rose for this spot but I thought that might be a little too predictable. Randy's Morrison-esque voice would be too obvious. I think Roger's more sensitive vocal style would be a little more interesting also, let's be honest here, Roger can handle hard rock vocals just fine.

Mary Magdalene - Anneke Van Giersbergen (Various Ayreons): Anneke could provide a sensitive and quiet counterpoint to Jimmy's emotion, but she can also belt it out when the time is right.

Pontius Pilate - Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria): Claudio the vocalist spends most of his time question his place in the world as Claudio the character. Who better to as the question "What is truth?"

Satan - Devin Townsend (Devin Townsend Project) and Steve Rowe (Mortification): Do I really need to go into why these two would be perfect for the part? Satan's voice would be layered with Devin handling the higher register and Steve's old school death metal growl handling the lower register.

The Magi - Joey Belladonna (ex-Anthrax), James Hetfield (Metallica), and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth): I admit this one's a little silly but I find the idea of three of the "Big Four" lending their voices to the Magi to be too awesome not to consider. Heck, if he's up for it we can throw in Tom Araya (Slayer) too.

That's all the vocalists I have spots for in my head. As for musicians we'll have Rex Carroll (ex- Whitecross) for the facemelters because he's the MAN. We'll also have John Scheaffer (Iced Earth) on tap for some of those super-fast thrash riffs. Oh yeah, we'll need Derri Daugherty (The Choir) for the ambient stuff. We'll have Ryan Van Pooderuyan (or however you spell it) on the drums. Tim Chandler will be providing the bass on the more melodic parts and we'll go ahead and let Steve Rowe handle the bass on the heavier parts. We'll need a keyboard guy too but since I don't really have a favorite you'll have to think up your own.

There you have it. Feel free to post your own suggestions if you have any!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - "The Essential 'Weird Al' Yankovic"

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic
2009, Sony

Disc One:
1. Another One Rides the Bus
2. Polkas on 45
3. Eat It
4. I Lost on Jeopardy
5. Yoda
6. One More Minute
7. Like a Surgeon
8. Dare to be Stupid
9. Dog Eat Dog
10. Lasagna
11. Melanie
12. Fat
13. UHF
14. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
15. Trigger Happy
16. Smells Like Nirvana
17. You Don't Love Me Anymore
18. Bedrock Anthem
19. Frank's 2000" TV
20. Jurassic Park

Disc Two:
1. Since You've Been Gone
2. Amish Paradise
3. Gump
4. Everything You Know is Wrong
5. The Night Santa Went Crazy
6. Your Horoscope For Today
7. It's All About the Pentiums
8. The Saga Begins
9. Albuquerque
10. Ebay
11. Bob
12. Hardware Store
13. I'll Sue Ya
14. Canadian Idiot
15. Pancreas
16. Don't Download This Song
17. White & Nerdy
18. Trapped in the Drive-Thru

So the other day I was listening to the new "Weird Al" song, "Perform This Way" (a parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way), and I had a startling revalation. I said to myself, "Self, we have no 'Weird Al' in our collection!" to which my self replied, "By golly gosh darn, we don't! We should remedy that, post haste." Thusly I went to Walmart and got this, the "Essential" "Weird Al." I've always been a big fan of "Weird Al" and I think he's a lot more talented an artist than he's really given credit for. This collection has most of his more famous parodies like "Fat," "Eat It," "Amish Paradise" and the like. It's also got some of his originals - it's a good balance between the two I think.

The liner notes suggest that when "Weird Al" is at his best when not doing a parody and I have to agree. Some of my favorite songs on here are originals. "Trigger Happy," "Melanie," "You Don't Love Me Anymore," and "Everything You Know is Wrong" are all songs I love. I like a lot of these more than the parodies. Just listen to a complicated song like "Hardware Store" and try to tell me Al isn't a genius. Listening to this collection actually makes me want to go out and get some of these albums that I had when I was younger because I really remember enjoying them.

Useless Fact: The same four guys have been in Al's band since the 80's. That's longer than most bands out there now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whitecross - "Hammer and Nail"

Whitecross - Hammer and Nail
1988, Pure Metal

1. Living on the Edge
2. When the Walls Tumble Down
3. The Hammer and the Nail
4. Take it to the Limit
5. Walk With Me
6. Because of Jesus
7. When the Clock Strikes
8. Resist Him
9. Living in a Lost World
10. Top of the World

Ah, yes... Whitecross. I sure do loves me some classic Whitecross. When fans talk about their favorite Whitecross album they usually mention Triumphant Return or this one. While I generally prefer the former I can't blame anyone for loving Hammer and Nail. This is pure, slick LA Glam metal that totally rocks the house. Rex Carroll's guitar is a delight to the ears no matter how you cut it. Most of the songs have a mid-groove swagger about them. I admit that "Walk With Me" is not my favorite ballad from these guys, but hey, can't win 'em all, right? This disc is out of print and pretty hard to find these days. I scored mine at a little used CD shop while on vacation in my hometown.

Useless Fact: I have no fact for this record.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hello everyone! Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter!

Thank you Jesus for giving death a good swift kick in the testicles!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Believer - "Transhuman"

Believer - Transhuman
2011, Metal Blade

1. Lie Awake
2. G.U.T.
3. Multiverse
4. End of Infinity
5. Transfection
6. Clean Room
7. Currents
8. Traveler
9. Ego Machine
10. Being No One
11. Entanglement
12. Mindsteps

Sometimes it's possible to be too experimental. Case in point, Believer's new album Transhuman. I think there's a lot of interesting things going on here but I also think that most people won't give this disc the time it would take to really appreciate it. It similar in style to the last album, though it sounds a bit more "down to earth" if that makes sense. Aside from the ultra-modern "Lie Awake" (which I like, along with "G.U.T.") a lot of this music is challenging and dense. It's also short on hooks and I still have trouble keeping my mind on the music while listening to it. Most traces of the band's thrash roots have disappeared except in "Clean Room" and "Ego Machine" (two of my favorite tracks). "Ego Machine" even features Kurt Bachman's old-school growl. "Currents" is an techno-industrial instrumental and I think it's a nice interlude. However, there's also tracks like "Multiverse" and "Mindsteps" which aside from a riff here and there are pretty dang boring. The internet is pretty divided in regards to this album. Half love it, half hate it, some are in the middle. That's me... in the middle. You really have to just listen to some samples and decide whether its something you want to invest in. Honestly, it makes really good background music but I don't know if I'll go back to it again and again.

Now I'd like to discuss the lyrics for a second. Supposedly they're based on Transhumanist philosophy. That philosophy is (and I'm paraphrasing) about using technology to improve the human condition as well as what it means to be human. Okay... I'm down with that. Can't really think of anyone that's against using technology to improve the human condition. Problem is the lyrics don't make any damn sense. I'm okay with exploring other philosophies and what not but at the end of this disc you won't know anything more about Transhumanism than you did when you went in. Is the band supporting it? Rejecting it? What are they saying about it? I don't know. The band acts like this is really important to them... it's a shame I can't tell why. I don't care if they're Christian anymore or not I just wish I knew what they were trying to say! Rant mode: OFF.

Useless Fact: Like Gabriel before it, Transhuman's artwork features a model, body paint, and photography. That's it. I kind of like the similar theme.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Mustard Seeds - "The Mustard Seeds"

The Mustard Seeds - The Mustard Seeds
1996, Entourage

1. Mr. Green
2. Last Man on Earth
3. Cats and Dogs
4. Bulldozer
5. Mother May I
6. Red Mountain
7. Ordinary Man
8. Fool For You
9. Life Goes On
10. Quicksand
11. King Kong

Boy I sure do loves me some Mustard Seeds. After getting their latest album awhile back I went ahead and got their debut too. It was cheap. It's also wonderful. It's a little less commercial and the harmonies are more up-front, I think. The King's X type down-tuned riffs shine through as well. I think I like this one a little bit more than their latest - mainly because of the less commercial thing. Either one is fantastic though. *sigh* If I were in charge this band would have been huge.

Useless Fact: The band has another album called Red which is inexplicabley more expensive than the debut. Why? Hmmm... Anyway, I'll have to track that one down as well.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Panic! At the Disco - "Vices & Virtues"

Panic! At the Disco - Vices & Virtues
2011, Fueled By Ramen

1. The Ballad of Mona Lisa
2. Let's Kill Tonight
3. Hurricane
4. Memories
5. Trade Mistakes
6. Ready To Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
7. Always
8. The Calender
9. Sarah Smiles
10. Nearly Witches (Every Since We Met)
Bonus Tracks
11. Stall Me
12. Oh Glory
13. I Wanna Be Free
14. Turn Off the Light

When I first heard "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" I was pretty excited for the album that would follow. While I liked Pretty.Odd. alright I never really found myself going back to it as much as the debut. The first single from Vices & Virtues finds the band returning to their more modern emo/pop roots. "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" is an incredible song with an incredible hook but the rest of the album? It's a bit of a grower. I was a little disappointed at first until my wife and I were driving around in the car half-listening to it - and then it clicked. I started appreciating more and more songs. The peppy "Let's Kill Tonight" and the slightly disco-esque "Hurricane" are two of my favorites. I will say the middle tracks are not quite as entrancing. "Memories," "Trade Mistakes," and "Ready to Go" are not bad tunes at all - they just don't quite hold my interest. "Ready to Go" sounds pretty 80's... I first thought this track almost sounds like The Killers instead of Panic. Things pick up again with a gentle ballad "Always." "Sarah Smiles" is the most reminiscent of Pretty.Odd. As a plus, the guys finish strong with the epic "Nearly Witches."

That's when the real fun begins. My deluxe edition contains four tracks not found on normal editions of the album. These four tracks are really awesome. So awesome that I am confounded as to why they didn't show up on the album proper. It's not like Panic has ever shied away from cramming upwards of 15 songs on a disc, so what gives? If I would have gotten the normal version of this album I would have been disappointed. With the extra tracks I feel like I'm actually getting the whole package. Seriously, if you have the normal edition you're missing out. I guess I'm saying I like my edition of Vices & Virtues but I probably wouldn't like the one at Walmart. How's that for an official review?

Useless Fact: Not only is the ! back in Panic! At the Disco, the band now only includes vocalist Brendan Urie and the drummer. Urie also wrote most of the songs on the album. "Sarah Smiles" is about his girlfriend.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Request from the Friends of Terry S. Taylor

Hey everyone! I just received a very sad update on Facebook having to do with Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos/Swirling Eddies/Lost Dogs) and his family. Here's the actual announcement:

"To any and all who been blessed by the life and gifts of Terry Talor, It is with much regret that I come to you with a desperate prayer. Our dear friend and brother, Terry Taylor, is experiencing one of the direst personal struggles of his life. Since the cancellation of Catscratch, his financial situation has been dismal to say the least. His wife and daughter both teach at a pre-school to help make ends meet week to week but it hasn't been enough and two years ago they lost their home in foreclosure. As many of you know, Terry, who is uninsured, has had ongoing medical problems for the past five years, with last year being particularly troublesome and expensive. The bills have mounted steadily and the late fees continue to add more misery. Last month their little apartment was burglarized and items of great sentiment were stolen. As an unwanted culmination to one of the toughest years in the life of his family, this past weekend his daughter Noelle was rushed to the hospital and had to have emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder. He hasn't wanted us to share his story and burden his fans and we've been trying some creative new ideas to raise Terry's income but this last blow has broken the camel's back and nearly broken Terry's spirit. I know many of you would want to help our brother in this time of personal crisis. If we all gave $10 or $20 it would go a long toward relieving this burden for their family. Some of you may be able to give more; some less. Anything would help right now."

I can honestly say that Terry's music has influenced me for the better part of my life. Let's all go over to Daniel Amos' website and donate a little something. Sometimes I feel closer to Terry (through his music) than some of my own family. Our little family is chugging along okay but only because we've had so much help. I don't usually do this sort of thing, but as I said, Terry is close to my heart.

Lord bless Terry and his family. Amen.

UPDATE! 4/6/11 - I just got a message on Facebook saying that the response to the family's request was phenomenal. They raised over $25,000 in three days. THREE DAYS! Wow! There's only one thing to say to that: Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Crashdog - "The Pursuit of Happiness!"

Crashdog- The Pursuit of Happiness!
1992, Grrr

1. Election Year
2. The Pursuit of Happiness
3. It's a Boy's Life
4. Foreign Policy
5. Life to Right
6. Dream So Vain
7. Mommy's Little Anarchist
8. Stop and Think
9. Who?
10. Kirsten
11. See the Unseen
12. 3 is a Magic Number
13. Untitled

I somehow missed The Pursuit of Happiness when it first came out. I had the debut and then later got Mud Angels but never showed any interest in getting this one. I have no idea why. I had a friend that owned a copy but I never listened to it. It's along the same lines as Human Society - old school punk with a serious message and serious music. I'm not sure I dig this one as much as the other two though. I don't think the guitar work is quite as dynamic here. They may have been going for a more old school vibe but I miss the leads and stuff. There are a few here and there, but not as many. What I do like is the fact that the band can take time off from being serious to pen songs like "It's a Boy's Life" which just about being a kid. I also really dig the cover of "3 is a Magic Number." The other thing I like about this album is Spike Nard. Once he left the band didn't hold my attention as much. If you like Crashdog, you'll like this, but it's definitely the weakest of the Nard discs. Awesome, comic-inspired cover art, I might add.

Oh... one thing I need to also applaud them for is the song "Life to Right." It's an abortion song with a little spin. It stresses the need for Christians to care about the mothers and the children so that they have a reason to have the child instead of abort. If you're against abortion, the best thing you can do is help a pregnant girl who is lost and scared. Give her support and love so that abortion won't be such an attractive option.

Useless Fact: In the liner notes the band included a plea for listeners to get involved in their government.