Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: Knife – Blackmale

July 31, 2013

blackmalecover

A few weeks ago (July 12th to be exact) after pre-gaming at my apartment, my wife Jackie and friend Kluck decided to wet our whistles at the local watering hole. As drinks continued to flow, my demeanor slowly but steadily improved. Before long, I realized that this would be one of those enchanted evenings where that magical combination of Pabst and Jameson transforms my normally awkward self into a social butterfly. My wife, who quickly assessed the situation and recognized the rarity of this occurrence, suggested we go check out a hip hop show at another bar. “Let’s go,” I said. At this point, I probably could’ve turned an infant’s funeral into a good time.

So off we went, trekking on foot about a half-mile down the road on a beautiful summer night to the Highbury. I walked in, and before I could run to the bar for another drink, my attention was immediately grabbed by the music.

On any other night, I probably would not have enjoyed myself as much as I did on this particular evening. My natural behavior at just about any show is to find a place in the back and bob my head, most likely in an uncoordinated manner. However, the music coming out the speakers and the booze in my belly created the perfect storm of awesomeness. The stars simply aligned and for one wonderful hour, I simply didn’t care how white I probably looked.

The rapper on stage, known simply as Knife, sounded way too talented to be performing at a shitty little soccer-themed bar in Wisconsin. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t seen a hip hop show in a place like this since I saw KRS-One a decade ago, but it sounded amazing. He even threw out a freestyle for a few minutes, rapping about whatever items were handed to him by the crowd.

After the show, I talked to Knife briefly and decided to forgo any future alcoholic beverages (like I really needed them at that point) and use the last of my cash to pick up his CD, Blackmale. I walked (i.e. stumbled) home and passed the fuck out, subsequently forgetting that I had even the bought the album.

So Last Saturday night, as I got ready to take a shower before bed (because I was back to my normal introverted self), I stumbled across Blackmale and decided to finally give it a listen. As it turns out, even a completely obliterated James knows good shit when he hears it. There’s even a track on the album that samples the “bass battle” bass-line from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (underrated movie, by the way). So do yourself and favor and check this guy out.

Now, I’m sure there are some of you thinking, “Why the fuck should I buy this album. You really didn’t tell me anything about how it sounds?“ Well, to that I will leave you with the wise words of Pickles The Drummer from Dethklok:

“Talking about music is like painting about farting.”

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Review – American Idiot: The Musical

April 16, 2013

american-idiot-logo

“I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
-Arnold Schwarzenegger

Had it not been for that intolerantly stupid quote seen above, I may have never come to see American Idiot: The Musical. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

In September of 2004 when American Idiot (the album) was released, I was one of the 267,000 people who bought it the week it came out. I didn’t have any extreme love or hate for the first single, but I did already own every other Green Day album and found it necessary to keep the collection current. I had previously read all the hype surrounding the record and the praise Billy Joe Armstrong was receiving for creating a concept album that was being hailed as the first ever “punk rock opera.” As for me, I probably would’ve been more impressed if the band would’ve released a cover album. I mean let’s face facts, even the best concept album could easily be called “a lackluster effort.” After all, the songwriters didn’t even have the motivation to tell more than one story. Those lazy bastards just wrote one song and turned it into an hour-long record!

Despite these things, I did my best to give the album an honest and unbiased listen. When I was done I had found what I thought were a few standout tracks (“St. Jimmy” and “Whatsername”) and I chalked American Idiot up as a solid release from a band that has truly never disappointed me. (Wow, I just realized that as I typed it.)

And then the insanity began.

Now, I understand that Green Day is by no means some fledgling little band trying to break out of the underground. Since 1994, Billy Joe & Co. have been staples on MTV and mainstream radio. They’ve sold millions of records and sustained a longevity that is surely coveted by any other band today. But even knowing all these things, I still had no inclination how much bigger Green Day could get.

As the album was released and 2004 bled into 2005, I was simply bombarded with single after single after single. All together, five separate songs were released from American Idiot. And from the insane regularity that each one was played on radio and MTV, you would’ve guessed that people were being paid for listening to them. All of sudden, these three guys in their mid-thirties started rocking heavy amounts of “guyliner” and quickly became poster children for a rebellious anti-George Bush youth. And that goddamn heart-shaped grenade from the album cover was everywhere. I’m fairly sure that Hot Topic adopted it as their official logo for a year or two.

As you may have figured out, the mid 2000s found me a bit burned out on Green Day, specifically American Idiot. When their next album, 21st Century Breakdown, was released, I was absolutely overjoyed that it wasn’t greeted with the absolute madness as the previous release. Even though Green Day was still one of the most popular bands around, it seemed that the hysteria had finally subsided.

And then in April of 2010, American Idiot: The Musical premiered on Broadway.

Now I don’t want to get into a debate about who or what is “punk rock,” but I think we can all agree that Broadway musicals are clearly not. And yes, I know that inevitably all of us are doomed to grow up and sellout in our own ways, but a musical? A Broadway musical? Really? Did The Ramones write an opera? Did the Sex Pistols perform ballet? No. They did not. And to be perfectly honest, hearing that American Idiot had become a musical did, in its own way, break my grenade-shaped heart.

But at the end of day, we all have to grow up. And as time passed, I actually learned to accept the fact that punk rock, albeit in a rather mutated form, had made its way to Broadway. I even started to embrace it a little. I realized that as my generation hits middle age, the world has no choice but to cater to what we want. And apparently we want good music in our commercials, epic comic book movies, and punk rock musicals. So maybe it wasn’t all bad. But for as much acceptance as I began to have for the situation; one thing was abundantly clear. I was not going to see that goddamn musical.

Then about a month ago, I was driving home from work when my local radio station announced they would be giving a prize to the first person to call in and answer a trivia question. I had no idea what the prize would be, but I called the station before the question was even asked (because I am a smartass at heart). And wouldn’t you know it, the line was ringing! I then turned the stereo up to hear the question:

“Who said ‘I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman’?”

Holy Shit! I knew it. I patiently waited about 20 seconds until the DJ picked up the phone.

“You got the answer?”

“Yup. It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

“That is correct. You’ve just won two tickets to Green Day’s American Idiot: The Muscial

“What?”

Seeing as my wife was interested in seeing the show, I decided to put my vow to never see this aside and find out for myself just how bad this was.

So after 900 words, here is my official review of American Idiot: The Musical. I didn’t hate it.

In fact, since seeing the show I’ve actually gone back and revisited Amercian Idiot (the album), and subsequently have found a new appreciation for it; proving once and for all that I am a massive tool. And I most certainly am not “punk rock.”

2011 – Year In Review

December 31, 2011

Sure, it’s been quite a long hiatus for me.  I’ve gotten a little older, and I’m figuring that “a little wiser” thing will come along any day now.  But in the meantime, I’m working on settling into my existence where I legitimately have an interest for the best deal on Ore Ida French Fries and I curse the world for not thinking like me.  I figure until that wisdom thing comes along, bitterness is definitely the way to go.

The death of 2011 seemed like as good a time as any for me to get back on that hobby horse and really show-off my lack of knowledge to the world.  So let’s take a look back at the top stories of 2011.

Happy News

There really wasn’t much of this throughout the year, so we’ll just get it out the way.  The royal wedding of William & Kate played like a fairy-tale come to life; and subsequently proved that our planet is just one big high school where the kids from rich families get everything they could ever want for no other discernable reason other than it seems to be their birth rite.  Well, at least there was the constant, non-stop, unrelenting playing of Adele’s last album on every single radio and video station to fall back on.  As harsh as that comment may sound, I actually needed “Rolling In The Deep” to attack me from all angles; anything to help me forget that groups like LMFAO and Middle Class Rut are churning out sounds that I’ve been told are actually music.

Sad News    

Remember when your teacher would ask what you wanted to be when you grew up and inevitably you or one your friends would respond “I wanna be an astronaut.” Well, if you’re an American and you’re not Lance Bass, consider that dream as dead as the heterosexual male fan base of Glee.  And if you’ve already moved past that and are just hoping for that pay raise at your shitty job, don’t count on it.  Your boss can still use 2011’s shit-storm economy as an excuse.  How the fuck are we supposed to occupy Wall Street if we can’t even afford to get there?  I guess we truly are the 99%.

True Crime

Some interesting precedents were set in 2011, and quite frankly I’m glad they were.  If some of these big stories hadn’t hit throughout the year, I would’ve been totally in the dark about how to handle certain situations.  For instance, if the trunk of my car stunk of human decomposition, and I spent weeks lying to cops about the whereabouts of my missing daughter, I figured that the dots could be connected and link me to the crime in some way.  Whoa, was I ever wrong.  I should’ve learned my lesson with OJ, but it’s good to have a refresher course every now and then.  And on top of that, I also discovered the best course of action when you see a colleague raping a little boy; just tell your boss and let him handle it.  No need to make a big thing out of it.  So thank you Ms. Anthony and Mr. Sandusky; your respective situations have taught me so much.  I hope you sleep well. 

Death

Once again, death was the biggest winner of the year.  The earthquakes in Japan killed thousands and humanity mourned.  Political figures (Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong Il, Gadhafi) dropped like flies and humanity rejoiced (maybe a little too much).  Steve Jobs shuffled off this mortal coil and a collective “Uh-oh” could be heard throughout the Silicon Valley.  Amy Winehouse died and surely made a few wallets fatter for whoever had her in their “celebrity death pools.”  And strangely enough, probably the easiest celebrity death to make fun of was the one that hit me the hardest.  I suppose though, when some Jackass spends ten years making you laugh, it’s tougher to take.  RIP Ryan Dunn. 

Sorry to get all serious and shit toward the end, but 2011 definitely had some speed bumps.  But I suppose I should look at the bright side:  The Packers won the Super Bowl (and will soon repeat), I have thoroughly enjoyed re-immersing myself into the world of the WWE, and I survived my first full year of marriage.  And 2012 can only get better….unless the Mayans were right.