Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Eric Clapton Announces North American 2017 Tour Dates

Despite the fact that Eric Clapton has fairly recently stated that due to his advancing age and health issues he wishes to retire from touring once and for all, the 70 year old legendary blues man has made public some tour dates for next year.

In the tour program for the upcoming shows, Clapton addresses the fact that he has been talking retirement for a while now, saying:

“I know I’ve been threatening retirement for the last 50 years, but I didn’t think I’d ever really want to stop. I love what I do and always have done, but over the last few decades I’ve found what I was always really looking for, a loving family who love me just the way I am, which means I can relax and rest when I need to, and more and more I treasure the beauty of that.”

Personally I'm a bit surprised that Clapton is going ahead with another tour, but at the same time not really. Performing is something Clapton clearly loves. He has been doing it for over 50 years and I can't imagine him wanting to stop altogether until he physically cannot do it any more. That said, I'm not so surprised that he is keeping it as short and at as few venues as he is. We'll just have to wait and see how he manages to get through the dates.

The tickets will go on sale to the general public on December 3rd at 10AM local time. Chase customers will have access to a special pre-sale starting December 1st at 12PM ET.

Eric Clapton 2017 North American Live Dates
3/19 — New York, Madison Square Garden
3/20 — New York, Madison Square Garden
3/25 — Los Angeles, The Forum
3/26 — Los Angeles, The Forum

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Phil Collins Getting Drum Chops Back Up to Snuff for Comeback Shows


Phil Collins has admitted that something during the Genesis reunion shows in 2007 made his drumming nowhere near as great as it used to be. It just hasn't felt natural for a long time to him. However, Collins is now practicing harder than ever to make it all come back to him so he can be on top of his game for the big comeback tour he has planned next year.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Collins goes into detail about how drumming has been a struggle for him for a while now, but how he is making an effort to fix it, saying:

"After the Genesis reunion tour, I played with Eric Clapton at Albert Hall for one song in 2010, and I had that feeling of 'This isn't happening.' That kind of scared me. The one thing I could rely on in life was that I could sit down at the drums and it would sound good, and suddenly I couldn't pull it together.

Now, I've got a drum kit in my garage and I've got into a routine of practicing. I'm trying to get my hands to feel natural again when I hold a pair of sticks. I've got some comeback shows booked for next year, and we'll see what happens."

I wish Collins all the best. Having something that has been such a staple in your life for so long all of a sudden become unnatural to you must be a complete nightmare, especially if it's a major passion like playing the drums. I hope for Collins's sake that he can manage to pull it together and put on the kind of show that both he and his fans deserve to have. After all, it wouldn't be right for Collins to perform In the Air Tonight without it being him behind the drums at that key moment.

Writer's Moment:

Since it is Thanksgiving weekend I'm taking the next four days off to spend time with my family and to just relax. I hope for those of you who celebrate the holiday you enjoy it as well! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Album Review: Hardwired...to Self-Destruct, by Metallica

Thrash metal legends Metallica have never really given a crap when it comes to making their fans wait for a new album. This time around was not only no exception, but also the longest they have ever made people wait (last album was 2008's Death Magnetic, so 8 years. No one really counts the 2011 collab album they did with Lou Reed: Lulu.). The result of this is their 10th studio album, a double album called Hardwired...to Self-Destruct.

Hardwired...to Self-Destruct is the first album to be released through their own label they started, Blackened Records and recorded at Metallica HQ in San Rafael, CA. It's also the first album to feature absolutely no song writing contributions from lead guitarist Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983. Producing the album alongside Metallica was Greg Fidelman, who has also produced for Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Audioslave, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, and many more.

The boys are definitely back in full thrash form for this album. There is no mistake in that. There is barely anything on here that tries even remotely to be commercially pleasing. That said however, Hardwired...to Self-Destruct does seem to revisit elements from each of Metallica's previous successful albums. The long drawn out instrumental sections, the driving riffs, the blistering solos, and howled vocals are definitely reminiscent of places they have gone before musically.

That said, I feel this works to both Metallica's advantage and disadvantage. In some respects it's great that Metallica now sounds like Metallica again, and does an even better job of it than they did on Death Magnetic. People (myself included) fell in love with them because of their no nonsense balls to the wall heavy hitting style of music that leaves your ear drums bleeding and a smile on your face. This is truly music to bang your head and rock out to while being taken on a grand thrash odyssey of sorts. We are back in our comfort zone with Metallica.

I feel that it works to Metallica's disadvantage too however for the same reasons. Metallica has been here before. They have made these kinds of songs countless times in decades past. At this point it all sounds recycled for the most part. That's not to say the songs are bad, but they're honestly nothing new. I get that they want to please their fans while at the same time going back to their roots. I do. I guess it would have been cooler though to take that old way of doing things and try to do something different and new with it. However, to be fair there really is only so much you can do with heavy metal (especially thrash metal).

I also feel that they could have gotten away with keeping the album at one disc and leaving off a few tracks; seeing as many of the songs sound kind of the same, go on a bit too long, and are often all in the same key as one another. Honestly, a sizeable portion of the album was in the key of E. It would have been a lot more solid of an album had they done that. If they wanted to use all of the songs that badly they could have saved some of them for the next album.

I can't beat up on Hardwired...to Self-Destruct too much, though. Despite the problems I had with it, it also had a lot of fun moments. The title track Hardwired definitely reminded me of the fun times I had as a teen/early adult cranking Kill 'em All, Spit Out the Bone and Moth into Flame gave me that vibe of Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All that got me into Metallica in the first place, and Manunkind did have a bit more of a creative Black Album vibe for me. Some of these are great songs that would go well with any live set list of classic Metallica tunes.

All in all, Hardwired...to Self-Destruct isn't a bad album, but it isn't a great album either. It just sounds like retracing steps to where Metallica has gone before rather than exploring and pushing forward the way they used to. The problem I guess is that when they have kept pushing forward creatively we got a lot of the crappy 90's albums. There is really no winning for Metallica, I guess. I would recommend listening to this album at least once, but if you're going to buy it wait till it goes on sale or the price drops.

Hardwired...to Self-Destruct, by Metallica receives 2.8 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

Disc 1:

1. Hardwired
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We're Dead
4. Moth into Flame
5. Dream No More
6. Halo on Fire

Disc 2:

1. Confusion
2. ManUnkind
3. Here Comes Revenge
4. Am I Savage?
5. Murder One
6. Spit Out the Bone

Buy the album on Amazon:


Monday, November 21, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #97

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Spit Out the Bone, by Metallica

This is one of the better tracks from Metallica's new album Hardwired...to Self-Destruct which came out last Friday (November 18th). This has a real ...And Justice for All vibe to it without it necessarily trying to copy off the album exactly (though it would have fit in with the rest of that album very nicely). It's fast, gritty, thundering, mean, and will destroy your speakers. Just the way a good old fashioned Metallica song should.

2. When I Fall, by Glenn Hughes

Former Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Country Communion, etc. bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes put out a new album Resonate on the 4th of this month. Of all the tracks on it, this one was probably my favorite, or at least one of my top favorites. It is a bit more mellow and laid back in some respects compared to the other songs, but it has the most 70's vibe on it. Lots of Hammond organ. Lots of great melody with a funky vibe. Reminds me the most of the kind of stuff many of Hughes's fans have come to know and love him for.

3. Oh! You Pretty Things, by David Bowie

One of my top old school Bowie tunes. It has this real soul vibe to it before Bowie was even into that kind of thing while at the same time keeping things rather light and jazzy on the piano. The guy really did know how to bend genres as well as genders, that's for sure. It all comes together quite nicely, but then again I would have expected nothing less from the man who took many pop genres and did amazing things with them that no one else could have ever possibly dreamed of.

4.  A Light in the Black, by Rainbow

Getting back to some heavier stuff though, this has to be one of the most intense and exhausting (in all the best ways) tune that Ritchie Blackmore ever put together. To be fair though, the whole band play vital roles in this tune. This is the kind of song that does not give you even one second to breathe. It goes on 8 and a half minutes and is balls to the wall the entire time with guitar and synth solos, thunderous bass playing and drumming, and Valhalla reaching vocals produced by the late great Ronnie James Dio.

5. Sabotage, by The Beastie Boys

And now for something completely different. Rap usually isn't my shindig by any stretch of the imagination, but for this tune I'll make an exception. I absolutely LOVE the way it kicks a groove. The vocals are also somehow annoying in the most awesome/pleasant way possible. I'm really not sure how to explain it except it's like that one girl/guy who REALLY gets on your nerves yet at the same time you can't help but find yourself extremely attracted to them. That's this song for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Journey Vocalist Arnel Pineda Hopes RRHOF Induction Will Mean Meeting Steve Perry

Filipino singer Arnel Pineda who has fronted Journey for nearly the past decade has managed to accomplish a great deal during this time, including many goals and dreams. However, one of these things has eluded him: the chance to meet iconic Journey vocalist and his predecessor Steve Perry.

Such a chance may come to Pineda if the band who has been nominated this year for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame actually wins their induction. Perry is of course invited to be a part of the induction according to keyboardist Johnathan Cain. In a recent interview with with TMZ says:

“I’m hoping to at least shake his hand. I haven’t had the chance for the past nine years. I’ve never met him. I hope they get inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, so maybe I get to see him.”

On the subject of whether or not he himself should be inducted, Pineda says:

“It’s only for the originals. I’m okay with that.”

Personally I find it rather noble that Pineda would be willing to give up his spot in the hypothetical induction to let Perry receive the accolade that he clearly deserves. Pineda while an absolutely FANTASTIC replacement for Perry wasn't exactly there when the band achieved all of the great things that they did over the decades. That said, it would still be cool to see the two of them sing a duet together.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Black Parade, by My Chemical Romance

In the year 2006 emo/punk band My Chemical Romance put out one of their most beloved albums of all time: The Black Parade. In fact, it would not be too much of a stretch to say that this album was so popular that it was one of the flag ship albums of the emo movement of the mid-late 2000's. This grandiose rock opera managed to spawn four well known singles and really skyrocketed the band to even higher heights of popularity and notoriety than they had already managed to attain with their first two albums.

The Black Parade is a rock opera that centers around a character known as The Patient, who is dying from cancer. It focuses on all of the memories he has of his life. In the end death comes to him in a form of a humongous, grand parade. Musically the album is very diverse, though it all has similar themes. The production is absolutely top notch, but I would expect nothing less from Rob Cavallo - the guy who also produced multiple albums for Green Day and The Goo Goo Dolls. The idea according to the band was to make music that would have a timeless value, which definitely shows through. It's more than just another emo punk album. This is rock n' roll at its most grand.

Welcome to the Black Parade is definitely the most epic track on the entire album. It definitely had the most showmanship, writership, and musicianship put into it. That piano riff with solo vocal intro is probably the best known piece of emo music to ever be written by anyone. In addition to that there are undeniable elements of Queen in the intro and outro, but it works in such a way that it doesn't seem like they are trying to rip them off too much. The rest of it is punk rock at its fiercest, yet most melodic. It flows seamlessly and gives you that feeling as though you are marching in a black parade; so I guess the band definitely achieved their goal here.

Teenagers is one of the most fun songs I've ever heard out of MCR. It actually is pretty blues/classic rock oriented. Kind of a surprise considering most of what I had heard from these guys previously was pretty modern sounding. That said, their dark anti-establishment lyrics still turn the flavor of the song that it definitely and unapologetically them. It's easy to groove and sing along to and it reminds me of the kind of tunes I usually listen to, so it definitely wasn't hard for Teenagers to win me over and want to learn to play on guitar.

Admittedly I've never been that big of a fan of emo music despite most of my peers being heavily devoted to it when I was in high school, but giving this album a fair chance was definitely one of my better decisions. It's good to expand your horizons, especially with music. The Black Parade is chocked full of wonderful little dark gems you never knew you would find unless you actually gave the whole disc a try. Though the subject matter is quite dreary, there is still plenty of fun to be found by delving into it. It's worth one listen-through at the very least.

The Black Parade, by My Chemical Romance receives 3.8 stars out of 5.

Track List:

1. The End
2. Dead
3. This is How I Disappear
4. The Sharpest Lives
5. Welcome to the Black Parade
6. I Don't Love You
7. House of Wolves
8. Cancer
9. Mama
10. Sleep
11. Teenagers
12. Disenchanted
13. Famous Last Words
14. Blood (Hidden Bonus Track)

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, November 17, 2016

New Rolling Stones Album Brought Keith Richards and Mick Jagger Closer Together

Rolling Stones stars Keith Richards and Mick Jagger have been notorious in the media for  not always getting along. In fact, some times the two have gotten downright nasty with one another. However, according to Richards the new blues covers album Blue & Lonesome has brought the two of them closer together than ever before.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Richards discusses the true nature of his relationship with his long time band mate and friend Jagger, saying:

“I love the man. That doesn’t mean I can’t get pissed off occasionally, and I have no doubt it goes the other way around. But you have to forgive and forget, and also I would say that 89 percent of the time we’re in total agreement. But people only hear about the 11 percent, you know, where it flares up.”

 Richards further goes on to talk about how if the band was always in perfect harmony and equilibrium, we wouldn't get any of the music we know and love from them, saying:

“What would the Stones be without it?. If you had the perfect machine and everybody in total agreement, you’d probably be fairly bland.  …  It’s amazing we’re both alive. I celebrate Mick’s life. He’s always five months older than me!”

I'm not entirely surprised that it's tension that drives the band to do the amazing things it's done. Some of the greatest music we ever had came from internal band tension, like with: Judas Priest, Fleetwood Mac, Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, The Beatles, etc. I'm just glad that at the end of the day Richards and Jagger know what is most important and realize that fun is what making music is really all about.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" Covered on Kazoo

I swear, hipsters always have to find some new ironic way of doing things. Music of course is pretty high up on that list. This time someone has to decided to cover the Pink Floyd highly renowned classic The Great Gig in the Sky on a kazoo (which can be listened to by viewing the video below).

The song is pretty close to the way it was in terms of its original arrangement, except now the piano is accompanied by a kazoo performed by Scarborough, Ontario songwriter Alex McCulloch instead of those AMAZING soulful vocals performed by Clare Torry.

McCulloch is influenced by: Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. She describes herself as "interested in writing songs that can make a room sizzle - stories that get people thinking."

Needless to say, she does just that in this peculiar rendition of such a masterpiece. I won't say it's bad at all, but it is and isn't what you would expect from a kazoo playing this song. It still has the power, range, and even some of the soul of the original vocal performance. However, at the same time you may or may not be able to get over the fact that this is a kazoo. I guess it's up to the individual to decide how they feel about it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #96

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Exist, by Avenged Sevenfold

This is by far one of the most progressive and adventurous songs I have ever heard Avenged Sevenfold do. I knew that there was more to these guys than just Top 40 main stream metal giants, but I NEVER expected them to go so far as to make a tune that is 15+ minutes with so many distinct sections. The best part about this however is they got esteemed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to record a spoken word segment about the human race and its very nature. How much we squabble and have problems for no real good reason at all.

2. Emerald Sword, by Rhapsody of Fire

If you're still riding the metal vibe but want something a bit more digestible, try this epic power metal anthem from Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody of Fire. This will DEFINITELY get your blood pumping, especially if you're enough of a geek/nerd to be enthralled by subject matter like swords, sorcery, dragons, etc. It's a fun song to jam to and get yourself feeling like you are the biggest badass to ever grace the world with their existence.

3. Before the Kiss, a Redcap, by Blue Oyster Cult

This is a fun little tune to jive along to. It feels a lot like an upbeat 50's jazz song in some ways, though in others you can very much hear the blues influence on the band. There is definitely an abundance of great bluesy guitar licks in here for any guitar player who is interested in learning the style at all to pick up on. Even if you're not though, it's fun to just crank and move and sing along to. It's pretty darn catchy to say the least.

4. Seven Nation Army, by Postmodern Jukebox

Postmodern Jukebox in my opinion is one of the coolest things to come from the internet in the past few years. They take modern popular songs (of a variety of genres) and then turn them into songs that sound like they came out of the 20's-50's. Usually in a rather jazzy style. I absolutely adore this cover of The White Stripes' iconic Seven Nation Army. Makes it sound like it came out of New Orleans in the 1930's. It works surprisingly well. You should give their other stuff a listen to. It's pretty rad.

5. Baby Boy, by Rival Sons 

This is a mild return for Rival Sons to some of their surf rock sound from earlier albums that their previous album had a distinct lack of. It's about sending young men to die but not wanting to protect them and go instead even because of just how young they really often are. It's rather bone chilling while at the same time rather grooving. You're not sure whether to have a good time or to be deep in thought about the subject. In essence, that is kind of what makes this a good piece of art work.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Yoko Ono Offers Her Response to Donald Trump's Election

Ever since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States earlier this week, countless people across the nation and world have had some strong reactions. Many of them are understandably quite negative. One of the most unique responses to this event is from Yoko Ono, who was married to the late John Lennon, a former Beatle.

On her Twitter account, she posted a message that read the following:

“Dear friends, I would like to share this message with you as my response to @realDonaldTrump.”

The message also contained a video (which can be found in the original message if you go through the link provided above) with audio of her doing her signature cat death wailing that she often did when collaborating with her late husband. While I've never been a fan of her music, I do kind of find humour in what she is doing and feel it suits the situation too. This whole election has made me feel like screaming too.

Incidentally, Ono lives not that far away from Trump Tower in New York. She still lives in the same apartment she shared with Lennon and is located just across Central Park from where Trump's sky scraper stands.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Symphony of Enchanted Lands, by Rhapsody (of Fire)

In 1998 Italian symphonic power metal pioneers Rhapsody (now Rhapsody of Fire due to trademark issues) put out what is arguably their best album to date (with the best singer they ever had: Fabio Lione): Symphony of Enchanted Lands. For those of you who don't know what power metal is, it is a sub-genre of heavy metal that often sounds more positive, melodic, and uplifting while telling grand epic fantasy tales in the lyrics. Basically, it's like if Dungeons and Dragons met metal. This album was the second in a series of five albums that tell the epic tale of the Ice Warrior and his quest across the land to find the Emerald Sword so that he might defeat the dark lord Akron and save the world.

Musically speaking Symphony of Enchanted Lands is a glorious blend of melodic heavy metal with traditional classical music with occasional Baroque tones thrown into the mix. Never in my life have I heard two styles that are seemingly altogether different work so well together. It doesn't even sound like metal music with orchestra backing. It actually sounds like the two are woven together in such a way where both are meant to be there and without the other, each would have nowhere near the impact that they do together.

Symphony of Enchanted Lands is a four part suite with the kind of vibe that this 13 minute epic should have been in an 80's fantasy movie, but not in a bad way. The way the orchestra plays is so emotional. A single flute note will pull at your heart strings, making them twang. It will hit you in your feels HARD. Lione sings so emotionally as well. You can hear how powerfully and mournfully he feels. You would swear you were listening to an opera performance. Then again, that is no surprise considering this is one of the most story-laden tracks on the entire album.

My absolute FAVORITE track on this album and Rhapsody of Fire track of all time however has to be Emerald Sword. The way it drives and keeps everything so upbeat while at the same time instilling just how important and vital this quest is gets me wanting to mosh every time I play it. The chorus alone makes me feel like this is the kind of music that would happen if the main characters in The Lord of the Rings made heavy metal. In a way it also feels like the kind of song that you would sing in unison with a bunch of heavy metal brethren at a show. It has that come together kind of feeling in the chorus especially.

If you're interested in giving a form of metal you might not have ever listened to before a try, I cannot recommend Symphony of Enchanted Lands enough. It will capture your imagination and make your emotions soar like a dragon on the wind. You might feel like a bit of a geek for listening to such music, but I guarantee that as soon as you start headbanging along to the music you will easily forget all about that and enjoy the music for just how amazing it really is.

Symphony of Enchanted Lands, by Rhapsody (of Fire) receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Epicus Furor (Epic Fury)
2. Emerald Sword
3. Wisdom of the Kings
4. Heroes of the Lost Valley
5. Eternal Glory
6. Beyond the Gates of Infinity
7. Wings of Destiny
8. The Dark Tower of Abyss
9. Riding the Winds of Eternity
10. Symphony of Enchanted Lands

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, November 10, 2016

System of a Down Working On Sixth Studio Album

The U.S. might be on the verge of collapse right now, but there is at least one thing that we all can take minor comfort and compensation in: System of a Down is OFFICIALLY making its first new album in 11 years!

In an interview with Kerrang drummer John Dolmayan finally let loose that the band was putting together a new album after they had already teased their fans with a couple of Instagram posts with them jamming together. In the interview, Dolmayan goes into detail on what SOAD is trying to do with the new album, saying:
“Our playing ability is better than it ever has been and we’re trying new things. We’re not trying to make Toxicity Part II, just because it was by far our biggest album. This needs to be something for a new generation of SOAD fans, so everyone can see we’re not resting on our laurels. I want everyone on board and feeling good about it, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish right now.”
So far there are apparently 15 brand new tracks that are being worked on for this new album over the past six months. That's definitely some pretty ambitious work on their part. Then again, given the current state of affairs in the world and how long it has been since they put out a new album it's no surprise that they would have an abundance of inspiration and ideas to put towards a new record. Regardless, I'm definitely stoked to see what a new SOAD album will sound like and what it will have to say.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Joe Satriani (EP), by Joe Satriani

In 1984, before guitar god Joe Satriani was surfing with the alien or flying in a blue dream he was a guitar teacher in Berkeley, CA. Wanting to get his name a bit more out there as a guitarist but not having a whole lot of money to do so, he used a credit card to finance a self-recorded instrumental guitar EP titled Joe Satriani that ran a limited number of vinyl run copies until later on when the Time Machine compilation album was released in 1993 and most of the songs were rereleased. The EP has also since been rereleased in limited quantities.

One of the most extraordinary things about Joe Satriani is that Satch was his own one man band, but not in the way you would think. Every last sound you hear on that EP was made on a single electric guitar. For the bass tracks Satriani detuned his guitar so low that it could mimic the sound depth and for the percussion tracks he just tapped on the pick-ups. It all pieces together into five very cohesive songs that can rival anything done with a full traditional band.

Talk to Me has this really cool almost techno sounding intro, but when the song itself kicks in it sounds like a proper driving hard rock/metal song that you would hear either in a racing game or an action movie. Quite frankly I love all of the soloing and harmonizing Satch was able to do considering he was recording with some pretty cheap and low grade equipment at the time. Easily my favorite song on the EP.

I Am Become Death is one of the creepiest and darkest sounding tracks I've ever heard Satch do on any recorded album of his. It goes from sounding like a funeral dirge to like being in an ancient desert at night to so much more. It's definitely the most progressive sounding track on the whole EP and will have you looking over your shoulder if you are listening in the dark in the middle of the night. It has this eerie presence to it that will not relinquish its hold on you for quite some time after you are done listening to it.

Personally I would LOVE to hear what all of these songs would sound like if they had proper bass and drum tracks behind them, but even if I never do these are still some fantastic songs that show just what you can do with only a little if you're talented and determined enough to make something magical happen. From here Satch would only go on to do bigger and better things, but it's always fun to take a look back and listen to the very beginning of such a magnificent musical journey. A must have for any fan of Joe.

Joe Satriani (EP), by Joe Satriani receives 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Talk to Me
2. Dreaming #11
3. Banana Mango
4. I Am Become Death
5. Saying Goodbye

Listen to the EP online:

Writer's Moment:

I will be taking the next few days until next Wednesday off because I'm going to be having a fairly busy birthday weekend. Plus, I've been a bit stressed out lately so I kind of need a bit of a breather.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Guy Covers Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" on Guitar and Keyboard Simultaneously

Doing two things at once is not always an easy task, especially when it comes to music. Those who can somehow manage to seamlessly multitask in the midst of a song always get my respect regardless of their genre. Such a man by the name of Gabriel Guardian has won me over today with his flawless cover of the Iron Maiden classic The Trooper on both guitar and keyboard (which can be viewed below).

The Texas dwelling Guardian without any split screen shenanigans shows off just how talented he really is by doing the work of two skilled musicians on his own. He gets those dual harmonies seamlessly playing both guitar and synth at the same time.

In the video description on YouTube, Guardian says:

“Iron Maiden is definitely one of my biggest influences of all time,” says Gabriel. “I remember when I was 12 years old, I learned my first Maiden song – The Trooper! It’s pretty awesome to finally do a cover of this legendary classic as an adult.”

I'm seriously impressed by this gentleman, to say the least. Many people would have a difficult enough time playing just one of the parts to The Trooper let alone two at the same time. I would be interested to hear just what he could do in terms of his own original material. I bet you he would come up with something amazing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Movie Review: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again (2016)

For the past 41 years people have flocked to theaters every Saturday night at midnight to watch Richard O'Brien's beloved cult classic stage musical turned film: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The cheesy campy tribute to science fiction and horror films of yesteryear has since its inception inspired the idea of hurling callbacks at films, people forming shadow casts and miming the film in costume as it plays, people to follow their dreams, wider practice of drag, acceptance for people of all kinds, and more. Recently, a remake of the film (which had been in production for at least a year and a half) was released under the direction of Kenny Ortega (who directed Hocus Pocus, High School Musical trilogy, and Michael Jackson's This is It) was released.

Replacing the original cast is the following:
  • Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the Mad Scientist
  • Victoria Justice as Janet Weiss, the Heroine
  • Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors, the Hero
  • Annaleigh Ashford as Columbia, the Groupie
  • Adam Lambert as Eddie, the Ex-Delivery Boy
  • Reeve Carney as Riff-Raff, the Handyman
  • Christina Milian as Magenta, the Domestic Servant
  • Staz Nair as Rocky, Frank's Creation
  • Ivy Levan as Trixie, the Usherette
  • Ben Vereen as Dr. Everett von Scott, the Rival Scientist
  • Tim Curry as the Narrator/Criminologist
  • Jayne Eastwood as The Butler
  • Jeff Lillico as Ralph Hapschatt
  • Kelly Van der Burg as Betty Hapschatt-Munroe
  • Sal Piro as The Photographer
I'm just going to say right off the bat that I think the majority of the parts in this movie were miscast. In fact, the only person I felt came even remotely close to fitting their part was Carney. This film's Riff-Raff was the only one who came even remotely close to being like their character. Everyone else felt awkward, out of place, and often times like they really just didn't care; as though it were just a paycheck to them and not something they felt dedicated to. Ashford especially seemed like she wasn't having a good time when doing all the Columbia parts. She had none of the sparkle and excitement that Nell Campbell had. It also didn't feel like the cast had any real chemistry. Everyone was just playing their individual parts instead of actually playing together to make things feel more organic.

I'm going to tread into some dangerous territory and address Cox's performance as the lead role Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Personally I feel she was completely wrong for the role for multiple reasons. Now before any of you get up in arms and say I'm attacking her just because she is trans, calm down. I think the fact that trans-people are starting to get more important roles in film and TV is fantastic. I'm all for it.

In this case however, I feel that one of the big reasons Cox doesn't fit the part is that it seems a bit redundant to me for a woman to play the role of a man who dresses like a woman. You can't really call yourself a sweet transvestite when you're not actually a transvestite. You're just a woman dressed in flashy clothes. Because of all that, the shock value is gone. I do kind of get what they were trying to do when casting her for the part. They wanted to update the character a bit for this generation, but in this case I just don't think it works.

That isn't to say that she didn't have the right attitude (though at times she had the completely wrong reaction to things, such as when she leads into I'm Going Home and she is smiling and calm instead of panicking). You can tell she at least gave it her best effort in most areas. However, that didn't really make up for things like what I mentioned above as well as the fact that her voice both in and out of song was just annoying. It had none of the strangely alluring class and charm that Tim Curry's had. It just sounded like Cox was trying to do a bad imitation of Curry and it showed.

On another note, I think it was a mistake to bring back Tim Curry. I know many of you might be thinking I'm kind of nuts, considering he was the original Frank-N-Furter but since he has had a stroke and is bound to a wheel chair he lacks a lot of the necessary things to play the Criminologist. You can tell with how slow, strained, and emotionless his speech is now that he was kind of phoning in his performance. As much as I am a fan of Curry I think they should have gotten someone who could have done the moves to the Time Warp, given all the spoken parts the kind of inflection they need, and not had to have certain Criminologist segments dropped.

I definitely was not particularly fond of Vereen as Dr. Scott. I am still trying to understand the reasoning behind casting him for that part. The dude didn't seem even remotely German. Didn't even try to fake a German accent. He sounded more British than anything. Not very convincing when Frank-N-Furter exposed him for being a German.

Now for one of the most important aspects: Did the music get done justice? Sad to say, absolutely not. Just...no. It sounded like a lackluster passionless episode of Glee. There was no passion. No energy. No soul. None of the original magic whatsoever. It was so ridiculously over produced (studio-wise). So many of the leads on most of the songs just sounded like they were phoning it in and not putting in the kind of prowess these songs require.

When singing a Rocky song it's important for whoever is singing it to sound like they are having the time of their life (like all their rock n' roll dreams have come true, according to O'Brien), otherwise it just falls flat. It also didn't help that so many of the actors/actresses had annoying voices (I cringed every time Cox sang). The only people who had any amount of singing skill at all were Lambert and Justice. Even then I still think they could have gotten better people for the parts musically.

The pacing of the film was also particularly bad. I kept noticing that the whole time everything felt rushed, as though they were just trying to get from one scene to the next as quickly as possible so they could just have the film done and over with. Personally I was ok with that, given how bad the other aspects of the movie were. However, I still think they should have slowed it back down a bit to give things more time to build and to let us ruminate in the atmosphere the film created for us. The quickness however took out a lot of the places for callbacks to be done, which since this remake was also meant to be a celebration of that part of the Rocky culture is counter-intuitive.

I also didn't care for how the remake couldn't make up its mind as to whether or not it was the stage play or the film. The cut backs to the audience watching the film with one or two call backs could definitely be confusing for someone just coming in who has never seen the original and is also completely unfamiliar with the culture the film has created. Those people would be completely lost.

After beating up on so many parts of this movie, there were a few things that I DID like. Shocker, right?

One of the things I was particularly fond of was the fact that in many of the scenes there was an actual rock band with instruments "playing" along to the songs that were currently going on at a given moment. Personally I find that clever and creative. In fact, if I were to do my own stage production or film version of Rocky I would have done the exact same thing myself.

I also found the film rather visually appealing. One thing I will give it over the original is that it is quite prettier to look at in some respects. You can tell that a decent bit of the remake's $20 million budget went into making things more colorful, elaborate, and inviting to the eyes. The original seemed a bit drab visually at times because of the lack of budget and available locations for them to film at. This on the other hand sunk quite a bit of money into addressing that (though quite frankly [no pun intended] I think they should have used it on better acting and music production).

I LOVED what they did with the intro. While the Patricia Quinn lips are iconic, I'm incredibly pleased that they brought Trixie back into the new version of the film. She was the usherette from the stage play that got left out of the original version of the film. I liked having her around welcoming people into the theater (which also ended up being the castle in the film) to see the show. One part of nodding to Rocky culture was the kind of people being let in. Most of them were clad in black leather and other dark clothing and looked very alternative.

Overall I appreciate the fact that such a massive underground following of a film after multiple decades was able to get a major network to want to remake it with an actual budget (even if it was just for TV). However, some times if something has that big of a following and has been so established in people's hearts and minds for so long it should just be left alone. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The remake focuses too much on what made the original weird, rather than campy and charming. The original was bad deliberately and did so in a way that made it feel like it was paying tribute to the old horror and sci-fi films that inspired it. The remake has none of that kind of appeal.

This is NOT something I would recommend anyone watch - whether they are a long time fan or someone coming in for the first time. I would honestly just recommend you going to your local showing of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you don't have one within reasonable driving distance, just rent or buy the DVD. It's MUCH more worth your while.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again receives 1 out of 5 stars.