Month: March 2011

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 2 – Indie Rock & Post-Punk Region

Pregame: We are now down to a field of 32 bands in this Second Round of the “tune-ament”. Starting with this round most of the matchups will come down to counting great songs, especially as the field wittles down to the Elite Eight on down to the Final Four and the championship match.  By the by, I’m not sure what I was thinking in my geeked out little mind when I started this little project for the fun of it, but let the games continue. The Match: #1-Modest Mouse (9) VS #9-Pretty Girls Make Graves (4) Modest Mouse sample song: “Ocean Breathes Salty” Pretty Girls Make Graves sample song: “Sad Girls Por Vida” The Winner: Modest Mouse Postgame: As a die-hard fan of both these bands, I’m sad to see Pretty Girls Make Graves bow out so early, but at least they’re losing against an indie rock juggernaut. At any rate, PGMG’s growth from post-punk upstarts to indie rock darlings was as sudden as it was transient considering the band called it quits after less than seven years (pretty …

Interview: The Legendary Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead

Over at Metal Insider.net, Motörhead bassist/vocalist Lemmy Kilmister was asked for his opinion on the state of the music industry today. I found his answer to be frank and accurate. Excerpt: METAL INSIDER: What are your thoughts on the music industry these days? LEMMY: Well, the music industry these days is dying, isn’t it? They have no idea what fucking happened to them. They don’t know what hit them. They couldn’t work with the internet, so they tried to prosecute it, which is really fucking dumb. And it seems that they keep fucking up. Every turn they make is the wrong turn. Soon they’re going to be out of business in ten years. And it’s all because of the internet. METAL INSIDER: Do you think it was was easier for up and coming bands to promote themselves back when Motörhead first started out, or is it easier now? LEMMY: It’s the same. It’s always been the same. There’s always people robbing bands. Agents rob you. Managers rob you a lot of the time. We’ve got …

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Hard Rock & Metal Region (Part 2)

The Match: #5-Iron Maiden (4) VS #12-Tesla (2) Iron Maiden sample song: “Moonchild” Tesla sample song: “Song & Emotion” The Winner: Iron Maiden Postgame: Tesla’s first album Mechanical Resonance was an excellent debut with the songs “Modern Day Cowboy”, “Ez Come, Ez Go”, “Comin’ Atcha Live” and so many more. The second album, The Great Radio Controversy provided greats songs like “Love Song” and “Hang Tough”. But Iron Maiden are quite a bit more legendary than that. This outcome is an obvious one. The Match: #6-Faith No More (4) VS #11-Poison (2) Faith No More sample song: “Digging the Grave” Poison sample song: “Nothin’ But a Good Time” The Winner: Faith No More Postgame: Yeah, I know, not even fair. But Poison had a few jams and their debut album Look What the Cat Dragged In was a fine debut for a band of their ilk. Sophomore album Open Up and Say…Ahh! had improved songwriting but lacked the magic of its predecessor. Jams include: “Cry Tough”, “I Won’t Forget You”, “I Want Action”, “Talk Dirty to Me”, …

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Hard Rock & Metal Region (Part 1)

Pregame: In contrast to the Indie Rock/Post-Punk Region from Saturday, this region mostly features bands I got into as a unsuspecting, highly impressionable pre-teen and early teenager. So there will be a lot of sentimental favorites here (though aren’t they all?), similar to the Extreme Metal region considering the breadth of the history spent with these bands. The Match: #1-Ratt (6) VS #16-Leatherwolf (1) Ratt sample song: “Nobody Rides for Free” Leatherwolf sample song: “Thunder” The Winner: Ratt   Postgame: After their two hard-fought victories in the preliminary play-in rounds to slide into the big dance, not much more needs to be said about Leatherwolf, nor the likely outcome of this matchup. One album, no matter how great it is cannot defeat 6 albums.  This is just a formality. Game over, dude. Thanks for playing. The Match: #2-Alice in Chains (6) VS #15-Tool (2) Alice in Chains sample song: “A Looking In View” Tool sample song: “Schism” The Winner: Alice In Chains Postgame: Progressive metal band Tool features some of the best musicians in the entire genre. Vocalist Maynard …

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Indie Rock & Post-Punk Region (Part 2)

Pregame: As stated in Part 1, this region has a lot of bands that became my favorites during my adult years. I believe there will be at least one upset in this region. The Match: #5-Sleater Kinney (5) VS #12-Blonde Redhead (3) Sleater-Kinney sample song: “Jumpers” (live) Blonde Redhead sample song: “Hated Because of Great Qualities” The Winner: Sleater-Kinney Postgame: Like the band Unwound (in Part 1), Blonde Redhead started out in the 90s as a more abrasive punk-influenced New York band (heavily influenced by Manhattan neighbors Sonic Youth, also in Part 1). Then they matured into a more diverse, yet less defined musical makeup, creating a sound and indentity all their own. They dropped the standard guitar/drums/bass set up to include different instrumentation. Each album since 2000’s Melody of Certain Damged Lemons has seen them take a departure from the previous. Albums Misery is a Butterfly and 23 are a faves as well. Great songs include: “A Cure”, “Loved Despite of Great Faults”, “Equus”, “Elephant Woman”, “23” and “S.W.”. Their cross-country opposition in this tourney is Sleater-Kinney …

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Indie Rock & Post-Punk Region (Part 1)

Pregame: This region has a lot of bands that became my favorites during my adult life (well, starting around 18-19). Many of them provided the soundtrack for that crucial transition from youth to adult, helping give perspective during those awkward, difficult years of learning just what the hell being adult even means. There are some serious matchups in the middle portion of this region. I do predict at least one upset. The Match: #1-Modest Mouse (9) VS #16-Unwound (2) Modest Mouse sample song: “The Whale Song” Unwound sample song: “Terminus”   The Winner: Modest Mouse   Postgame: A Pacific Northwest battle, Oregon VS Washington. Unwound, from Portland, OR, was an abrasive post-punk indie rock band for most of their active years. But their swansong double album, the magnum opus called Leaves Turn Inside You, saw them smoothing out the roughness for a slightly more accessible sound, also adorned with mild progressive elements. That’s when I discovered them, which was on that last album. The double set boasts some serious jams, like “Radio Gra”, “December”, “Look a Ghost”, “Off This Century” and the Pink …

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Extreme Metal Region (Part 2)

A little late posting today (hey, it’s my weekend, and I’m a busy lad). So without further ado, let the games continue. The Match: #5-Testament (6) VS #12-Pantera (2) Testament sample song: “The Legacy” Pantera sample song: “Hollow”   The Winner: Testament   Postgame: Pantera featured one of music’s best guitarists ever in the late, great Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott. His razor-sharp riffs, blistering tone and soaring melodies helped revolutionalize metal in the 90s when things were getting equally watered-down and more extreme at the same time. Pantera held the middle ground down and carried the torch well in the 90s when mainstrem tastes all but abandoned the genre altogether (I won’t dare give positive recognition to the nu-metal that emerged in the mid-90s). I only hold two Pantera albums in high regard: Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power. As great as those albums are, with stellar jams like “Cemetary Gates”, “Cowboys from Hell”, “This Love”, “Mouth for War” and “Walk”, it’s just not nearly enough to knock off the mighty Testament, which we’ll see more of …

Confession: My Envy – Sequential Art & Serial Storytelling (comics)

I’m not much for envy, I think it’s a self-depreciating emotion and state of mind. But I’m also human, so I’ve got my weaknesses like everyone else. As a writer, there are three major reasons why I envy guys like Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Brian Azzarello, and Brian Michael Bendis who write serialized stories that get drawn by talented, visionary artists — some of the best in the entire sequential storytelling industry of comic books: The collaborative aspect  The visual realization of their characters and settings The serialization of their stories This past week Warren Ellis (yeah, him again) revealed that he was working with Mike Avon Oeming (Mice Templar, Powers) on a new project called Half Moon. On his blog he shared some concept notes and sketches from the collaborative creation process. That’s the part that got to me, seeing the back and forth of two minds joining together to create something new, something special. From Warren’s notes (via his website/blog): “We’re working in realtime on this one. We agreed on the general concepts just …

Update: The Week That Was/The Weekend That Will Be

Got a few things to get to today yet. Some of this is a few days old as I have been focused on my Battle of the Bands Tournament the last few days (and unfortunately I can’t access this blog on my PC at work). So, on with it… First up: Captain America: The First Avenger full trailer has been released and it is a must see. Probably the most anticipated blockbuster for me this year (since the next Underworld film has been pushed back to January 2012). Check it out below. Also, another preview worth checking out is for Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. This scene is actually the first five minutes of the film. Make sure you stay tuned in til the end of the scene because it’s pretty explosive what happens. Obligatory Warren Ellis update: Wired magazine has a nice write up on Ellis and the documentary film, Captured Ghosts about him that’s pretty cool. There’s even a new trailer in the article. Check it out here. This weekend, like any other, during the times I’m …

Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Extreme Metal Region (Part 1)

Pregame: This round will bring a lot tears for me. Not that I expect low seeds to be upsetting high seeds. This genre is just very near and dear to me, my roots as a musician lay in thrash metal because that’s what my first band was, the whole reason I got serious about playing guitar at age 15 (thanks, Metallica). Most in this region are some of my all-time favorite bands that I will carry in my heart to the grave. Most of these match-ups will be tough, hard fought battles. I’ll really have to tally up songs just to decide a true victor on some of these. Sigh. The Match: #1-Metallica (9) VS #16-Mastodon (2) Metallica sample song: “Four Horsemen” Mastodon sample song: “Colony of Birchmen” The Winner: Metallica Postgame: This is a hearbreaker because Mastodon’s most recent album, the stellar and untouchable Crack the Skye is a MASTERPIECE and probably the best album released by a metal band since at least Sacrament by #7 seed Lamb of God in 2006. Mastodon has a lot of …