Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain" Review

Not counting various cover albums, best-of's, box sets, and live albums, this is the Ozzman's first CD in six years. His band is still mostly the same (since Rob Trujillo left for Metallica, ex-Rob Zombie bassist Blasko has joined up), with ex-Faith No More's Mike Bordin on drums and the Ozz's longtime sideman, guitarist Zakk Wylde. The result is that the album still sounds a lot like previous ones, with Zakk's use of fat guitar tones and pinch harmonics still a main focus. Of course after a lot of Ozzy CD's and Black Label Sociey CD's, Zakk's style feels a bit tired at times. Bordin gives a nice, pounding rhythm and Blasko is solid. The album sounds modern, but Ozzy's voice, which despite his age is in fine shape, gives it a oddly timeless feel.

Clearly, his age is on his mind, and with retirement talk mulling, Ozzy intends "Black Rain" as a bit of a "never say die" salvo, coming right out of the gate with "Not Going Away" and "I Don't Wanna Stop." The second is also the album's first single, which is a fine choice, the catchy call-to-arms chorus is great for MTV airplay but it has enough headbanging guitar to keep metal fans happy. The CD's happy rush gets bogged down a bit on track 3, the title track, which is moody but not much else. Then comes the ballad ("Lay Your World on Me"), which is like pretty much every Ozzy ballad: incredibly cheesy and pretty terrible. There's more headbanging, doomy stuff later, and some parts geniuinely groove - but truly, the CD is at it's best when it keeps the tempo up and just rocks. "Silver" is a good example, building tension effectively and adding some exciting parts and some really nice Zakk Wylde playing. "Here For You" is a more than competent ballad, even if it's bogged down by extreme amounts of cheese and "Countdown's Begun" has a catchy keyboard riff even if not much else. Album closer "Trap Door" has a rousing middle part, a cool riff or two, and a nice guitar melody on the chorus, but it's bogged down a bit by way too many vocal effects and Rob Zombie-isms.

From a musical standpoint, the CD is another solid collection of modern heavy metal tunes executed proffessionally. Lyrically, it's nothing new: songs about how crazy he is and how much he rocks and woefully cheesy ballads - it's the same thing he's been working since his solo debut. The kink being pushed is a little political topics, but that is nothing new either ("Crazy Train" anyone?). And ultimately, the main problem is how familiar it all sounds: it's the same vocal effects Ozzy always uses, it's the same scale Zakk always uses, it's all not that different. Even the things that are new to Ozzy have been overdone to death by industrial rock acts like Rob Zombie and Prong (and this was in the late 90's, when the style was popular!). At times it's sludgy and doomy, which is cool considering Ozz's Sabbath past, but it's not that novel. It's okay coming out of the speakers, even though it has filler and those nearly unlistenable ballads, it plays well and Ozzy sounds good, his whine still is endearing and it has enough decent riffs to headbang to, but it's mostly forgettable. "I Don't Wanna Stop" is the clear standout, which is nice for Ozzy since it's the first single. It's probably not enough to warrant a purchase from casual fans, but Ozzheads will love the single and won't be too disappointed at all with the rest of the songs.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sign this petition - Anthrax fans for Paul Di'Anno!
even if you really dont care!

God himself will give you a cookie!

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown is Still Alive

James Brown's down?
Who the funk do you think you're fooling?
For me, the man's still ruling
Stop the nonsense, stop telling lies
James Brown is still alive

Friday, November 03, 2006

UPDATE: Kanye West is still a bitch

check it yourself:,3232B953-53BB-48F7-B930-357101106D93,5D3F9D81-E432-4C05-8C2C-7BD35FAF10B9&t=m2&f=06/64&p=

So your (mostly) boy Kanye lost again at some irrelevant award show (the European Music Awards) and lost it again (read: had a bitchfit). Basically, he lost the "Best Video" category to someone or something called Justice vs. Simian (appearently he/she/they/it are French). During the middle of the acceptance speech, Kanye got on stage to launch into another awkward rant, with a rather stupid point.

In his high pitched bitch voice, Kanye objected : "Aw hell no! Fuck this!"

West continued: "This video cost a million dollars! Pam Anderson was in it! I was jumping across canyons and shitt! If I don't win, the awards show loses... credibility. " (appearently no one told him that it was "Best Video" not "Most Expensive Video" or "Most Pam Andersons in a Video" or even "Most Kanye West Jumping Sequences")

The guy accepting the speech, obviously a little weirded out, started to reason with him (in a funny accent): "You already won Kanye...Share some of the awards" (i wonder if he intentionally talked to him like he was talking to a three year old throwing a temper tantrum over not having enough toys).

Kanye promptly put his arm around the guy's neck (nhjic) and told him: "It's not against you. It's not against you. I've never seen your video. It's not against you. It's not against you."

And here's where the real problem comes in: how does he know he has the best video if he's never seen the others? I mean, even if he mixed up "Best Video" for "Most Pam Andersons in a Video", it is entirely within the realm of possibility that these French fuckers had say, an army of Pam Anderson clones in their video. Shit, I dont know.

And come on, is anybody still not yet tired of the little awkward speeches and dumb comments? Someone has to beat him in the head and tell him he's not smart, nor is he "speaking from the heart" or even "keeping it real", he's just making an ass of himself repeatedly.

UPDATE: I also read that later Justin Timberlake, who was emceeing the event, got on stage and diffused some of the awkwardness with the following comments:

"After the show, Kanye will be in the parking lot accepting awards he did not win. Seriously though, I've got sexy covered, it's good to see someone's doing crazy."

BURN! By Justin Timberlake! Haha, that has to be a sad day for all Chicago rappers. Your most famous MC got burned by the ex-lead singer of the world's second-favorite boy band.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pandora,com: Review is a site where you give a song or artist name, and according to whatever you wrote, gives you a custom internet radio station with songs that resemble whatever you wrote. The idea is to find other music that you would probably like. The knowledge base is pretty impressive: pretty much any artist you type in, it can find. It's not as good with songs, obviously but it's till pretty impressive.

I started off with typing in "Danzig", even though I don't even like Danzig that much (even though Glen Danzig is a great singer). I just had the song "Mother" stuck in my head. Anyhow. It was pretty bad, I didn't like any of the songs.

Next I typed in "Ozomatli", one of my favorite bands, with good results. I found a band called "The Fallwater Project", which was good.

Then I wrote what is one of the best songs EVAR - "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead. The first recommendation: "Ace of Spades (Live)" by Motorhead. DUH! Followed by: "Bomber" by Motorhead. No shit? After they stopped playing Motorhead, a lot of bad songs.

Last I wrote in "C.R.E.A.M" by Wu-Tang. They really hit it with "Dead Presidents" by Jay-Z, which when you think about it is about as close you can get to CREAM thematically and sonically while not really sounding like it too much and still being good. Then a lot of shit that I just didnt like. Crown Royal-era Run-DMC, some Roc-a-fella tax write-off, some random C-N-N remix, shit like that.

Overall, it's worth going through a lot to find a cool band. It has a lot of criteria to match, and thus you are likely to find music similar to that hich you like. One complaint I do have, though, is that sometimes it seems to miss the larger point of the song: for example, I searched for songs like "Painkiller" by Judas Priest and got all sorts of epic power metal. And though of course, it's sort of close since it's fast, it's vocal centric, and it's techinically demanding: it misses what really MAKES the song good: the over-the-top vocals and lyrics by Rob Halford that , next to frentic drumming and riffing, give the song an extremely chaotic, uncontrollable feel. Dio is good for certain things, but he's not necessarily chaotic.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Guitar Hero II - All "regular" songs revealed + analyzed

1. Opening Licks

* Mötley Crüe - "Shout at the Devil": Actually a pretty cool Crue song, for what it's worth. I played it, it's not too difficult, but it's way harder than "I Love Rock n Roll"
* Danzig - "Mother": Danzig's best song probably. It's kinda slow, but it's cool.
* Cheap Trick - "Surrender": Cheap Trick's best song probably. No that it says much.
* Wolfmother - "Woman": Don't know this song.
* Spinal Tap - "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight": YEAH! Putting Spinal Tap on this is a genius move.

2. Amp-Warmers

* KISS - "Strutter": A pretty cool song as far as KISS goes, plus it has some entertaining guitar noodling. I've played it, the chorus, filled with three button chords, took a little adjustment.
* Nirvana - "Heart-Shaped Box": Not that Nirvana leads are incredibly complicated, but it's good to have some variety.
* The Police - "Message in a Bottle": Good on them not to pick the really obvious Police songs.
* Van Halen - "You Really Got Me": Not the ovbious VH choice, but a fine one nonetheless. I've played it, so far it's been my favorite.
* Kansas - "Carry On Wayward Son": A little prog to spice things up. Pretty good song, I guess.

3. String-Snappers

* Foo Fighters - "Monkey Wrench": Don't know this one either.
* Alice in Chains - "Them Bones": Pretty sweet song.
* Iggy Pop and The Stooges - "Search and Destroy": One of the few punk songs on here, though I think that's a good thing. Let's face it, people don't idolize punk guitar playing.
* The Pretenders - "Tattooed Love Boys": Don't know this either.
* Black Sabbath - "War Pigs": Awesome, awesome song - though it will be tough to see if I can be interested for the whole 8 and a half minutes.

4. Thrash and Burn

* Warrant - "Cherry Pie": I don't specifically remember this song, but Warrant kinda sucks
* Butthole Surfers - "Who Was in My Room Last Night?": Ha. Butthole Surfers.
* Matthew Sweet - "Girlfriend": Hm, this is the only one where I don't even know the artist. It sounds familiar (though gay).
* The Rolling Stones - "Can't You Hear Me Knocking": Whoa, they got the Stones. Not that I really love the Stones, but it's an accomplishment.
* Guns N' Roses - "Sweet Child O' Mine": Hopefully whoever sings this doesn't take the Axl Rose impersonation too seroiusly. Cool riff though.

5. Return of the Shred

* Rage Against the Machine - "Killing in the Name": YEAH! Awesome choice. I wonder if they can get a good Zach de la Rocha impersonator though. But the solo is awesome.
* Primus - "John the Fisherman": It will be the original recording of the song. Though it has a pretty cool yet pretty weird guitar playing, this will most likely be about the bass.
* The Sword - "Freya": Another artist I don't even know.
* Thin Lizzy - "Bad Reputation": Thin Lizzy is pretty cool, though you wonder if maybe playing that little melody from The Boys are Back in Town would be cooler.
* Aerosmith - "Last Child": Another well-made, non obvious pick. Not that I really love Aerosmith either, but still.

6. Relentless Riffs

* Heart - "Crazy on You": Some classic rock stuff.
* Stone Temple Pilots - "Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart": Some alt stuff.
* Stray Cats - "Rock This Town": Some I don't know stuff. Wait now I remember, they're that awesome rockabilly group. Yeah!
* The Allman Brothers Band - "Jessica": Oh yeah, the Allman Brothers Band! Talk about a cool group of guitarists.
* Jane's Addiction - "Stop!": Notice the amount of funk-metal in this game as compared to the last.

7. Furious Fretwork

* Anthrax - "Madhouse": Not really a band known for their guitar leads, but it's a good song.
* The Living End - "Carry Me Home": No idea.
* Lamb of God - "Laid to Rest": Modern metal. Not really my thing.
* The Reverend Horton Heat - "Psychobilly Freakout": This song rules though. It's pretty fast.
* Rush - "YYZ": The long instrumental, I'd say it's II's response to I's "Frankenstein". Played it, pretty tough, and not even that particularly fun. Maybe the Geddy Lee bass parts will be cooler.

8. Face-Melters

* Avenged Sevenfold - "Beast and the Harlot": Don't like the band, but I guess for what it's worth it could be fun to play their solos.
* Suicidal Tendencies - "Institutionalized": Good band, and though most people love this song, I don't really. But obviously I'm in the minority there.
* Dick Dale - "Misirlou": You know, the surf song. Awesome choice.
* Megadeth - "Hangar 18": A real ass-kicker. The first installment had a Megadeth song, but it wasn't so awesome since it was probably their easist riff to play. This one is long with a huge amount of complex solos. It will be a challenge.
* Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Free Bird": I don't know. It's a bit of an obvious choice to stick in as the "boss song". I think it should be Hangar 18.

Bonus Tracks

* The Last Vegas - "Raw Dog": They won the Be A Guitar Hero contest, so I'm sure it's shredding and pretty cool.
* Drist - "Arterial Black": Drist is pretty cool and Marcus Henderson tears it up.

Final Comments:
Some overall nice variety and selection. Less punk, more rockabilly and more hair-metal. Moves which, in my mind, play up to the game's strengths. Some obvious things still missing:
- "Crazy Train" by Ozzy or really any sort of Randy Rhoads solos.
- Anything by Metallica or Iron Maiden (I'd love to play "Battery" or "2 Minutes to Midnight")
- AC/DC or Deep Purple. Specifically, I'd like "Highway Star".
- Some Run-D.M.C. maybe?

I guess we can still hope in the bonus songs. If not, well there's always III.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Matisyahu = Woman hater

And though he was always annoying for his rather distinct lack of talent and connection to reggae (he's pretty much singing reggae as learned through Dave Matthews), it helped that he wasn't ALL gimmick: he was a decent enough singer, with a decent enough band, for what it was worth. Of course while he got all the attention for being a jew, many much more talented artists probably died on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica.

So it goes.

But then, I found out the dude's a hardcore woman hater. His religion won't allow for women to touch him, or allow them to sing, or pretty much anything of that sort. Basically, this religion treats women as second-class citizens at best. What else would you call it when you refuse to even shake a teen-age girl's hand who says she really loves you? Or when you think that all women should be silenced and not be allowed to express themselves creatively?

That's sexism, end of fucking story.

OK, it's his religion. But so fucking what. Reminder: this guy didn't live with crazy parents who turned him on to this religion. They were Jews who had no real religious interest in Judaism. Young Matthew, 20, saw this crazy sect of Judaism and the way it treats women like garbage and thought, "hm, well that's the religion for me!"

Secondly, there is no weird "mix", sonically speaking, to his brand of music. He's taking the very spiritually important reggae music and giving it a splash of rock (Eric Clapton did this much more successfully however many years ago) and replacing whatever relgiously important message with his own Dark Ages woman-hating ideals. And this is inventive?

I've heard him say that reggae is somehow based on Judaism or that Bob Marley somehow mentions Torah scripture. Uh, wake up, dumbass. Reggae is all about Rastafarianism, it's hard to seperate one from the other. The mentions of Zion and whatnot do indeed use "Jewish" terminology, but only because it is the basis (to an extent) of Rastafarianism, and if memory serves right, "Zion" isn't in Israel to them, it's in Ethiopia.

Summary: Matisyahu is a gimmicky, rather talentless, whitewashing woman hater.
Michael Franti > Matisyahu