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.