Quit playing with your pod and do something with it.
Last weeks number of participants was astoundingly low, with entrys having a 33% chance of winning something. Lets see if we can boost those numbers this week. Congrats to our first shirt winner Dawn Flury!
Today is once again WTF Friday where YOU tell US WTF is on your IPod or other music player. Hit the Random or Shuffle button and jot down the first 10 songs that come up. A random sampling of my music player today comes up with the following:
1. "Its Raining Men" - The Weathergirls
2. "Angel of Death" - Slayer
3. "Snake Farm" - Ray Wylie Hubbard
4. "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" - Willie Nelson
5. "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave" - Butthole Surfers
6. "Can't Find My Way Home" - Blind Faith
7. "Heart Attack Man" - Beastie Boys
8. "A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall" - Bob Dylan
9. "Head First" - The Babys
10. "Mirror in the Bathroom" - English Beat
Billy Talent II
Atlantic Records/Warner Music Canada
Every song on the album is strong. Every song on the album is angst-ridden, angry, or jaded. Ben Kowalewicz's nasal vocals and larynx bruising screams are in fine form.
For me the shining star in this band is guitarist Ian D'sa. His machine gun riffing style is unique and he somehow manages to make a chimey clean guitar sound incredibly heavy as it teeters on the edge of breaking up. With the exception of the fuzzed-out tone on "Devil in a Midnight Mass," Ian's heavy tone allows every note to be heard and the cool chord inversions don't just disappear under a wall of distortion.
That being said, "Devil in a Midnight Mass" does feature what has to be one of the heaviest guitar riffs ever recorded.
"Pins and Needles" and "Surrender" are the closest Billy Talent get to a ballad. They don't get too close though.
"Worker Bees" has anthem written all over it. I can't wait to hear it live.
So much for the sophomore jinx. Canada's Billy Talent have taken their unique music style and crafted a solid second effort. Billy Talent II isn't noticeably different from their self titled debut, but you know what? Who gives a fuck?
A Treeful of Starling fell short of any expectations I had for Mr.Workman's greatly anticipated 5th full length release, so I wasn't sure what to expect of the show to promote the album. Having never been to Massey Hall I wasn't exactly sure what all the fuss was about, but hoped it would be a good time either way. In his typical fashion Hawksley came on moments after 8, the scheduled time for the show to start, sans openers. He kicked off the show with himself on a stool and acoustic guitar accompanied by Mr. Lonely, his faithful piano player beside him, and they went straight into "A Moth is Not a Butterfly" which in my opinion is probably the worst song ever written and created by the Hawk. Not off to a very good start, he went into a couple others off of the latest album, which all translated well into live performance, even if they aren't his best work. Then came the stories.
Hawksley shows are always amusing because he not only is a phenomenal multi-talented performer, he talks and talks and sips his wine (usually out of a plastic cup) and the facetious stories get longer and more interesting. So after a few songs he would interject with another tale about saving allowances to buy a television to tape onto his bicycle and watch Dr. Who throughout the summers or about how he 'gave up being cool' for Lent. His charismatic character shines through in these animated tales as he chuckles to himself as he tells them, with the audience in tears of laughter. But never one to disappoint, Mr. Workman delivered with the songs as well, which was what made me completely understand the honour around playing Massey Hall. I was blown away with the acoustics, his voice carrying throughout the entire hall perfectly whether it be a whisper or long, beautifully executed long note he carried on and on.
Keeping the show mostly low key and intimate, the entire set was himself and Mr. Lonely on piano, playing older classics like "Paper Shoes" and "Jealous of your Cigarette," as well as "Don't Be Crushed," which he played alone on the piano. Playing a handful of his last two albums as well, the set list was well chosen, but what really made the show was his charm. After gracefully thanking the audience and letting us know several times how proud they were to be playing at Massey Hall and how appreciative they were of the fans, they finished the set with his bassist Derek coming out to accompany them on "Ice Age". Adding some extra beats courtesy of Lonely, the song had a real chill, slow groove feel to it that finished up the show nicely. But the roar of the audience wouldn't die down, so they came back out for several encores.
Hawksley came back out and perched right on the edge of the stage with a banjo and nothing else saying that he felt like he was so far back all night, it was like we came to Toronto to see the show that was happening in Mississauga. With his banjo and powerful voice, he launched into "We Will Still Need a Song" that the audience sang along with, and it really began to feel almost like a circle of friends singing to each other around a fire. I'm getting ridiculously sappy here, but Hawksley has a way of taking a couple thousand people and bringing them together with their common love of his talent, and making the entire room feel like some sort of reunion of long lost friends. Throughout the show, Hawksley would stand to deliver his jagged and hard guitar playing throughout harder songs that eventually lead to a broken string, that didn't slow him down one bit. In slower more sensual tracks such as "Tarantulove" he let himself go, almost as though he had slipped into a daydream, stroking the guitar and moaning and breathing into the microphone for minutes on end.
His music recreates itself every time he's on the stage, and you can see his emotions surrounding each song pouring out through his fingers as he plays. With plenty of anecdotes surrounding each song and how it came to be, and about growing up in Toronto, and the surrounding area, the show went on for hours. As he delivered each song, he sang his heart out with his eyes closed shut, every so often taking a peek at Lonely and they would exchange an ecstatic smile. It's surreal to watch them play together; seeing them feed of each other's energy so much, and even after all the years of playing together it's obvious they still are blown away by the other's talent. At one point Workman stopped playing and just watched Lonely as the spotlight illuminated him pounding away at the keys, switching back and forth between instruments. He spent the evening surrounded in a cocoon of a keyboard, piano and mixer all of which he played with tremendous skill. Overall the show was breathtaking, beating out any performance I'd seen from Mr. Workman in the past, his animation and allure as he played and spoke to the adoring crowd leaving me giddy for hours afterwards.
Talk about getting a case of the munchies. In another strange tale from Axl Rose's surrealistic fight club, according to police in Sweden Axl bit - yes BIT a hotel security guard on the leg. Axl was promptly arrested by Swedish law enforcement. According to Swedish health authorities since he was unable to provide his vaccination records, Axl's head will now be removed and sent away for rabies testing.
This of course follows Axl's now infamous foxy boxing episode with Tommy Hilfiger in a New York night club. One is left to ponder who is next on the Guns 'n' Roses lead singer's hit list or whether Rose's career plans include professional boxing as a featherweight.
What a weird day. If it happened to somone else and they related this tale to me, I would view them as either a liar or a crank, but here goes, believe it or not.
This week the IHS reptile symposium was happening in San Antonio. I was at the event on Friday intending to zip back to Austin that night to review the Sonic Youth show at Stubb's, but fate, coincidence, or maybe the positioning of the stars and planets had decreed this was not to be. Little did I know that shortly I would be racing through Texas in a car with a rock star on a mission to get him to the show on time.
I was talking with a friend, Kamuran Tepedelen of Bushmaster Reptiles, at the symposium and as we were chatting he received a call from Kerry King of Slayer, scheduled to play in San Antonio that night. Turns out Kerry was in a bind. He had flown home to watch his carpet pythons hatch and was planning on flying in to re-join the tour. Due to forces beyond his control he was unable to make his flight into San Antonio, and the nearest place he could fly in on time was Austin, but his plane wasn't going to land until 4:30 pm and he had to be at the venue by 7 pm. Considering this was all occuring during the Friday rush hour and we had two major cities to traverse, it was destined to be a close thing. Since I was more familiar with the area, I was asked along to act as a human GPS. Having met Kerry more than once in the course of reptile work, I heartily agreed knowing that to do so would destroy any chance I had to do the Sonic Youth review.
We hopped in the car and raced to the airport, easily arriving 30 minutes early. It was 30 minutes after the plane had landed before we had Kerry and his luggage packed away in the car and we sped off off only to immediately encounter Austin's world famous traffic congestion. It took us a full 45 minutes to get from the airport, and back onto IH-35 pointed the right direction, maybe 3 miles total. The clock was ticking much faster than any of us cared to note. Once on the interstate the traffic began to thin and we raced south. Kerry popped in a pre-release copy of the new Slayer CD to provide us traveling music as we weaved and bobbed among the 18 wheelers. Along the way Kerry and I had a nice chat about his snakes, his music, the tour and the new album. I got a chance to mention that we had just launched the music site and that I was supposed to review the Sonic Youth show but probably wouldn't be able to make it. Kerry, seeing my dilema, offered to get me a photo pass to his show instead so I would still be able to review something.
How could I refuse an offer like that.
Well obviously I didn't.
We made it to the venue with 10 minutes to spare, and shortly afterward I had one of the coveted Slayer photo passes taped to my bag, and I was in the coliseum. This was my first show in San Antonio since my 20s, my first since launching my music journalism career, and I was definitely "odd man out" in the camera pit, the regulars all wondering how this "rookie" rated a photo pass. After relating my tale of travel I could tell that they thought I was probably full of shit, but they suffered me well even though I didn't know the venue's etiqutte or rules and committed more than one major faux pax.
By the time we arrived Mastdon had been completeing the last song of their set leaving only Lamb of God, and then Slayer. We really did just barely make it.
I used Lamb of God to zero in my new Nikon D200 during their first three songs before being booted from the camera pit til Slayer. I am not that familiar with Lamb of God's music but it was apparent that the crowd was, and the band was really in sync with them. They roared through their set, which lasted about 45 minutes. I wandered off midway through to get a coke at the concession stand, but their music seemed to follow me in the form of a very large obviously-inebriated man in the next line over who insisted on screaming along in a vocal accompanyment with the band on stage, to the ambivalence of the others in line.
Lamb of God did deliver a hot set, and really got the huge mosh pit warmed up, but it was obvious that the crowed was ready to see Slayer. After a short break, we photographers were ushered back into the pit. Using a heads up from Kerry I planted myself in the right hand side of the pit between Kerry and Tom Araya and stuck like glue.
The stage darkened, then with a flash and a crash Slayer launched into their set, steaming through "South of Heaven." I started blasting away with the camera at everything I could, not paying much attention to the music, as I grabbed as many pics as possible. Much too quickly the tap on the shoulder came and we photographers were then escorted out of the pit and literally out the front door of the venue, as per the venues standard policy. I tried to get Kerry's attention to flash him a thank you for the pass as we were escorted out, but the security guard knocked my arm down before I could do so. Once I had returned my camera to the car I was able to return ticket in hand to watch the rest of this blazing show.
Slayer was on for what seemed like forever but was in fact only about 90 minutes, returning to do two encores. They played a total of 14 songs, and I know I heard "Chemical," and a cut from the new disc called "Cult." I am trying to get a copy of the set list and will post an addendum should it happen. A great show, Slayer rocked the Freeman and its audience, literally to its foundations, all the windows in the place were buzzing and shaking. It was somewhat strange for me to see Kerry, a guy I know pretty much as just another snake guy, literally in the role of rock star doing his job and entertaining a couple thousand people. Slayer is off to Dallas next and I am going to take a few days off, at least until I can hear again.
I managed to produce about 50 usable Slayer photos, with a couple real gems of Kerry and Tom. It is all the work of the camera and the location, as I am still extremely unfamiliar with my D200. Still it was a great feeling to know that I had corrected at least some of the issues that flummoxed my ability to get some quality Les Claypool shots from the other night and had some really nice photos as a result.
Kerry if you read this, thanks for the photo pass, great show, and I look forward to our podcast interview. And if you do - have that Lizard Man guy get in touch with me, we need him in our tattoo photo gallery, though you're certainly no slouch yourself in that arena;)
Montreal boys the Stills used Vice records as a catalyst to their fame to break out to the scenesters far and wide (well, in Canada at least) with their debut Logic Will Break Your Heart. It had a sweet sound that wasn't very out of the ordinary, but when the sometimes dark and heartbreaking lyrics drenched in honesty hit you, it was addictive. They sang about love, drugs and sex, typical rock star themes, but somehow you could relate to it. You could lie back and listen to that record and let the imagery flood your mind, and every song could be a soundtrack to one night or another.
So when the Stills finally got around to putting out their second album, there were high expectations to deliver an album as real and personal as the first. Alas, Without Feathers came out a little under par after the band played musical chairs and let the hype of Logic go to their heads. Moving Dave Hamelin from drums to vocalist/guitarist and losing a lot of their charm, the Stills were back with their second album. It opens with a build up of guitar that slowly adds keyboard and other things into the mix, to a very pop melody that is deadened by Dave's flat vocals. The lyrics are mostly repetitive and nowhere near as touching as before; as well as the musical aspects being less innovative than Logic. With "Oh Shoplifter" and "It Takes Time" both having upbeat fairly danceable music but with lyrics that get almost annoying, the songs are ruined. Other songs drone on a little too long, with either poor song writing or Dave's voice simply being a little too much to handle in such a large dose, overall making the album less than impressive.
The band describes it as their journey through dealing with fame and breakups with girlfriends and the like, all things which typically could make a changed band with a great, matured second album, but The Stills seem to have lost their touch. Their charm of cleverly talking about girls and their virginity, night clubs and death is lost in poor singing and song writing, with boring music underneath it all, even on tracks that attempt to revive their dance rock vibe. As with every record there are a couple exceptions, such as "Helicopters" which may be explained by the fact that original Stills singer Tim is taking care of the lead vocals. "Helicopters" is a long buildup of pulsing guitar and the sorrow filled question "Why do you take this so hard?" that rocks out at the end and the vibe of the whole song is almost like a throwback to the feel of the debut album. Great for dancing without needing any sort of electro beats as well, which makes it superb. It is followed by "In The End" a ballad about an unattainable, lonely girl but finishes up with fun keyboard melodies and with Tim's vocals making it much more listenable, this is another great track to give a little bit of merit to Without Feathers. A few other tracks are fun, but overall the album has taken a slide downhill, which probably doesn't lead to anything else noteworthy coming from the Stills boys anytime in the near future.
I got a review copy of a British documentary about pop star George Michael, he of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and extremely bad 80s hair and fashion fame, and was surprised and even a little dismayed to not only think it was a really good movie, but to find myself re-evaluating the man and his music.
No, I'm not going to try to sell you on the idea that "Young Guns" is a song that stands the test of time. But if you get a chance to see George Michael: A Different Story, you might want to set your prejudices aside and check it out. It's a tight, intelligent, almost subversive look at a very shy yet articulate artist who is a lot more (good and bad) than tabloid fodder and the maker of puerile bubblegom pop.
Comments from Sting, Noel Gallagher, Mariah Carey, Martin Kemp, Boy George, Elton John, ex-Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, Simon Cowell, and others are interspersed with some excellent concert footage (especially his historic appearance with Queen at a memorial tribute concert for Freddie Mercury), amusingly bad 80s video clips, and astonishingly compelling interviews with Michael himself.
We had an awesome time at the Slayer concert in San Antonio last night. Should have the review up soon. In the meantime chedk out these neat Slayer Concert Pics from the show in the photo gallery and can someone hand Kerry that fire extinguisher. Thanks.
Quit playing with your pod and do something with it.
Today is now officially WTF Friday where YOU tell US WTF is on your IPod or other music player. Hit the Random or Shuffle button and jot down the first 10 songs that come up. A random sampling of my music player today comes up with the following:
1. "Earthquake Shake" - The Skunks
2. "Long Live Rock & Roll" - Rainbow
3. "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" - Ramones
4. "Just One Fix" - Ministry
5. "Satisfaction (I can't get no)" - Devo
6. "Sex Machine" - James Brown
7. "There She Goes" - The La's
8. "When Autumn Comes" - Bill Evans
9. "Walk" - Bjork
10. "Loops of Fury" - Chemical Brothers