Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

At least it's the shortest day of the year; 2015 can't come and wipe the slate clean soon enough.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Who Gives a S#!t?: My Music Picks for 2014

Too exhausted for pithy intros.

For most of the year I was still wrapped up in a pop wonderland, so I'm sure there are some gems that've been missed. But as someone who habitually shuffles through 24,000+ songs on an iPod Classic (what of it? they're worth money now), it's seldom that I become obsessed with hearing a record in its entirety. Over and over again.

That's pretty much the only criteria I used in choosing my Top 10 Albums of 2014. Enjoy.

UPDATE: How did I ever miss Eyehategod? Also, the Tokio Hotel record is garbage. What did they do to you, Bill?

Best of 2014 (in order, based on how many times I spun the record straight through):
1. Cold World - How the Gods Chill
2. The Afghan Whigs - Do To the Beast
3. Rancid - Honor Is All We Know
4. Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun 
5. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2 
6. Godflesh - A World Lit Only by Fire
7. BehemothThe Satanist
8. Ghostface Killah - Twelve Reasons to Die 
9. Eyehategod - s/t
10. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden
Pretty Damn Good:
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
At the Gates - At War With Reality 
Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out
Youth Code - A Place to Stand EP
Finch - Back to Oblivion
Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
Vance Joy - Dream Your Life Away

Have yet to listen to these artists' latest records: Swans, Tokio Hotel, Shellac, Ex Hex, TV on the Radio.

Postscript: I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get into Taylor Swift. Basic pop music has never suited me.

Best Shows of 2014:
Motley Crue @ Madison Square Garden - Though the set list was better when I caught Crue's Las Vegas residency, there was nothing like sending off the geezers at the most befitting NYC venue of them all.
Godflesh @ Irving Plaza - This was an experience for all senses, including the vibrations it swept through my body. Loudest show of the year that left me physically spent.
King Diamond @ Best Buy Theater - The double-decker stage, replete with gates! The actors! The light-up upside down crosses and pentagram! King's live show was like everything all concerned parents assume metal shows are like. READ this take on it.
Infest @ the Well - Seeing the underground icons plow through their discography was eye-opening; and a good hang (thanks for the ticket, Richard!).
Gorilla Biscuits @ House of Vans - Every summer there's one magical show where you get to see all of your friends, meet some new ones and enjoy some old-school hardcore. This was it.
Bonus: Pussy Riot @ Vice 20, Brooklyn Navy Yard - It was an honor to be in the presence of these blunt, independent Russian women (who are willing to risk their lives for their expression) as they covered riot grrl darlings, Le Tigre.


Monday, December 8, 2014

A Decade Without Dimebag

Hard to believe it's been a full 10 years since "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was shot to death as he performed onstage with his band, Damageplan, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, OH. The result is my almost-exact recollection of what occurred that day—a rarity for me. Probably the only other date and time this could be said for is September 11, 2001 in New York City.

A decade ago on this day, I was finalizing up ankle surgery plans, then met up with some High Times staffers to catch Doug Benson and Tommy Chong perform The Marijuana-Logues off Broadway. For that reason, I clearly recall this joke from the show:

"They call marijuana a crutch..." 
"...Yeah, but crutches help people."

The lot of us went and had dinner with Tommy afterwards and it blew my mind that he actually spoke in THAT lackadaisical voice; somehow surprised by how chill he was, considering he'd just gotten out of jail for selling glass pipes online.

I can't remember if it was there, or on my way home when I got a text message alerting me to a shooting at the Damageplan show. Truth be told, I can't even remember if it was my old editor at Revolver, or mutual friends. I was shocked as much as any fan could be, but didn't want to spread false rumors. Then I started thinking about the vulnerability of my friends and idols in bands (especially as Superjoint Ritual was starting to resurface).

Like so many others, I spent the night reaching out to my network of friends, kept others informed, and hoped against logic that the news was false; that somehow this brother in metal was still with us. Sadly, national news confirmed the worst.

There were three other people murdered by gunman Nathan Gale that night, including a fan who was trying to give Dimebag CPR. Let's not forget them, either.

Rest in Power. Forever.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Heavy Hearts and Black Clouds

Seems like the news is true at this point, and the thought of losing another member of our metal family this year is too much to handle. Sympathy and love go out to the friends and family of Black Tusk's Jonathan Athon, who died today from injuries he sustained in a collision while on a motorcycle.

Black Tusk were always such a great band to see live, and he was their driving force. Athon will be missed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Leaving Song

After putting in almost five years of work there, I recently left a job at a very mainstream and very corporate media company.

To say I was burned out and frustrated is an understatement. Sure, I got to work with tons of incredible entertainers and colleagues, I learned a bunch about digital marketing (and the world of social media) and had some unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences that made for memories that'll always stay with me. But with that came long days and hours, all too many miscommunications, and the defeat that comes when a supervisor suggests you become "more dispassionate." About my work, my pride.

I didn't really think I'd have a hard time leaving. Certainly, I didn't expect to feel any kind of emotion. After creating my own grand finale by way of our annual festival in Las Vegas, it was up to me to come in for one last day - to hand in expenses, and to turn in my laptop and work ID.

It also came to my attention that the one and only rock icon, Robert Plant, would be in the building on this fateful day. So after hustling together my final expense report, I made my way to the office in time to coincide with his interview.

After waiting on Plant to finish recording for some time, radio legend Jim Kerr walked him out, and in front of me, introduced him to the company's happy-go-lucky receptionist, Anita—also Kerr's friend of several decades. What happened next nearly made me lose my shit.

Anita proceeded to tell Plant, while holding his hand, about her impoverished childhood and how listening to the music of Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples and Aretha Franklin helped her cull her self-esteem and strive beyond her upbringing. "It really is the best medicine," Plant replied after listening intently, nodding his head in agreement.

It was a little too much to witness on my last day. It brought to mind how many contest winners I'd helped reach their idols and thought about how that opportunity could have affected them in the same way Anita's inclinations shaped her. And most importantly, the conversation evoked the power of music—that huge, overpowering love of music that carries fanatics like me through each day. That was all it took.

Luckily, I had dark sunglasses on, so no one could see my eyes getting glassy (to be fair, this could also have been partly due to jet lag). It wasn't until I saw Kerr downstairs and gave him a final hug that the waterworks started. I joked that no one would believe him if he'd actually told people I teared up, but I guess that front's gone.

So there it is. Much luck in all future endeavors to those who meant something to me. And for the rest, well... Murder City Devils sing it best.

PS: Did you really think I'd fail to get a pic with the artist? Remember, J-E-T-L-A-G.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mastodon Bring the Motherload

The Atlanta homeboys in Mastodon keep making me proud, and since this was their second appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, I really love that Brent decided to take a piss out of it by dressing up. More cowbell, forever!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Head to The Meadows with Red Fang

And the winner for the most far-flung hard music tour of the year is... Communion of Sirens, featuring Opeth, In Flames and Red Fang. Should be interesting to see how the melodic, straight-forward rockers will fare with the more traditional metal-loving audience their Swedish cohorts attract. The package will be coming through New York City this December to perform at the horrendous Terminal 5, and with any luck I'll be catching it from the balcony. More dates listed below.

The Portland group have also just released a video for their Scion A/V collabo, "The Meadows," and it's as good humored as the gents that make up the group. Check it out! Couldn't be happier for their continued success.