Thursday, December 20, 2007

Van Canto

My friend Karch recently reminded me of my love for a cappella music over on his site. Well, here's a weird one... a cappella heavy metal group Van Canto has five vocalists and one drummer (who plays real drums, not a beatboxer). Peep this:

MANOWAR Records Their First Ever Christmas Song!

From their official site:

MANOWAR recorded both German and English versions of "Stille Nacht" - known to English speaking fans as the classic Christmas carol "Silent Night"- as a holiday gift to all of their loyal fans, the greatest fans in the world. The song was recorded in "Hell" and mixed by Ronald Prent of Galaxy Studios, Belgium.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of the true metal warriors from MANOWAR!

Go to their site to download. It's surprisingly well done and faithful to the spirit of the song for at least the first two minutes. The last minute is where they kick in the Manowar power chords and power vocals. But even then, it's nothing more dramatic or over-the-top than you'd hear from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All in all, it's worth a download and listen and it may even make it into your Christmas rotation. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Metallica is alive and making new album. Do we care?

From here:

Kirk Hammet and Lars Ulrich were interviewed by San Francisco Examiner where they said We don’t want pretty good, we want excellent and Rick Rubin is getting us to try and achieve that. He’s very good at getting the essence of an artist out and bringing that back to the top again. It’s the ‘Master of Puppets’ mentality again. You need to prove the world that you’re good, you need to be hungry again.


As of Thanksgiving, the only hurdles left are overdubs and James Hetfield’s vocals. “That’s it,” says Ulrich. “We’re very alive and well.”

The Afters New Album

In case you missed them the first time around, The Afters will be back next month with their sophomore album (Never Going Back to OK). If you love Fountains of Wayne or Switchfoot, you would have enjoyed their first album (I Wish We All Could Win). The title track for the new album is already on their Myspace, and so far I like it and am looking forward to the release of the full album Feb. 26.

(post written by dcedave)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

This really does not qualify as news since the observation that I am about to make comes straight out of material that is 12 years old, however the other day I was listening to some Faith No More. Not the usual suspects like Angel Dust or The Real Thing, rather I was listening through King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (great title). Just four tracks in, I came across The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (again great title). A minute into the song, I had to start it over. I had to know if I caught that right. You see the thought that occurred to me as I made my commute out to the IE was that this song, it could be argued, might well be the source material for the sound of System of a Down. The way in which they change tempo, moving from in your face metal to melodic subtleties and back without much warning as to when those switches are coming. Now again, I stress that this is not news, just a late observation I made while trying to distract myself from the boredom of my morning commute.

(post written by dcedave)

Led Zeppelin Still Rocks

Led Zeppelin played last night. They rocked, apparently. And they did "In My Time of Dying" which means those tickets that went for something like $100,000 were totally worth it.

Full report here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Free MP3 of new Bob Mould single

District LineHey, cool! Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) will be releasing his seventh solo album early next year. And thanks to, you can get a free MP3 of the lead off single "The Silence Between Us".

Crazy Cool Grammy Nomination

So, like most fans of real music, I completely ignored yesterday's announcement of the Nominees for next year's Grammy awards. But then, this morning I'm scanning the news about my current favorite band and I could not believe my eyes.

Porcupine Tree has been nominated for a Grammy.

Seriously. Read that again. It's true. My amazement isn't because Porcupine Tree is undeserving. They should've been winning Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year in every year that they've released an album. I'm just absolutely amazed that someone in the Recording Academy has finally heard of Porcupine Tree.

Unfortunately, they are nominated for "Fear of a Blank Planet" in the Surround Sound category. This is category 95 out of 110 (and the list is roughly ordered in the order of categories that people most care about). And the usual stupidity of the rest of the nominations still applies this year as it has in so many other years.

But it's a start.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Man, this is weird

I work from a home office (so no commute) and I've got the house all rigged so that almost 100% of my music listening is done through MediaMonkey. MediaMonkey plugs my listening habits into So if you look at my profile, it's a very solid showing of what I've been listening to since joining in Jan 2006 (so almost 2 years worth).

My musical history, of course, goes back much further than the past two years. You can't really tell from my profile that I've actually listened to a ridiculous amount of Led Zeppelin, Beatles and Metallica in my lifetime. So, ok, whatever. Let's take a look at the last two years. It's interesting to see how my favorite bands of all time fare compared to new stuff I've been listening to lately.

So first, here are the favorites of all time (meaning they got lots of listens prior to 2006):
The Beatles, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Ramones, Pink Floyd, Jellyfish, Jars of Clay, Vangelis and Joe Satriani

Now let's look at my top most listened to artists of the past 2 years and see how these fare (the number in parentheses shows how many times I've listened to any song from that artist):
1. Jethro Tull (832) - Wow, I'm still listening to a lot of Tull. Part of this number being so high is that I went through and listened to every track in an effort to organize, catalog and rate them. Also, they have a lot of material. Also, they're awesome.

2. Porcupine Tree (707) - I was introduced to them in spring 2005, so relative newcomers. They are, in fact, now one of my favorite bands of all time. It's obvious that they are so high because they are a new favorite. Also, they're awesome.

3. Vangelis (555) - This is up there because it's great music to listen to while working. Also, he's awesome.

4. The Beatles (479) - Their complete awesomeness means they'll always be up near the top in listens. Also, this high number in the past two years has a lot to do with introducing my kids to them, whereas the Jethro Tull number is mostly made up of listening without the kids around. I've yet to really play Tull for the family much.

5. Rush (389) - This was a bit of a surprise. I haven't felt like I've been into Rush lately as much as I was in high school and college. I attribute this to the organizing and rating exercise. Although, there are some key Rush tracks that my 7-yr-old son loves.

6. Jars of Clay (379) - Every album is different and every album is good. So they get lots of listens even nowadays. Plus it helps that they are safe to play around all the kids.

7. Genesis (283) - I also did the organizing and rating with these guys (they have a lot less output than Tull, though). I haven't yet played much of Genesis for the family, though.

8. "Weird Al" Yankovic (248) - This is weird, eh? Here's what happened: (1) My kids really got into Weird Al this past summer and (2) he's awesome!

9. Led Zeppelin (215) - Here again, I haven't really pushed this on the kids yet. So this is from organizing and rating the songs. They're still awesome, though!

10. Jellyfish (182) - For a band that only put out two albums to be in the top 10 really says something. They will always be perfect to listen to anytime.

That's the top 10. Here are some surprises: Aerosmith and Van Halen (which were favorites in high school and college) are in the top 20 and higher than Pink Floyd. I haven't been feeling much in the mood for Aerosmith or Van Halen so not sure how that happened. Also, Pink Floyd is good for listening while working, so I need to play them some more. Poor Metallica is way down at #42, below ZZ Top, Billy Joel and Phil Collins. Can you believe that? And that's even counting the fact that in the last two years I've really rediscovered my love of metal. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard is in the top 20 of most listened to songs. What? I dunno. My most listened to Rush song is "Force Ten", but that is not one of the ones that my son is playing all the time. My most listened to Genesis song is "The Knife". Wow! It'll be interesting to see how that stat changes once I start trying to get my kids into them. Which era will I push first? Gabriel? Hackett? The Good 3? The Pop 3? If you know me, you might be able to guess the answer.

It's also funny that, according to, my listening habits are most closely matched by a 16-year-old girl in Brazil, a 14-year-old guy in Norway and a 25-year-old in Austria. Small world.

Being a database guy and a stats nerd, it's fun to see these kinds of stats about my listening habits. Maybe for you, not so much. So... sorry for the self-indulgent diversion. We'll be back with more news and other stuff soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Review Round-up: "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss is something of a fiddle phenom and a big force in the small bluegrass revival of the '90s. And, of course, her work on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack really helped her break out into the mainstream. Robert Plant needs no introduction. Right? Ok, good.

My friend, Steve, down the street who is not particularly into music, but who knows that I am, pointed out a small blurb in a magazine he had about a new album called "Raising Sand" that was a Krauss/Plant collaboration. Being familiar with both artists, I was immediately intrigued. I've listened through it once so far and I have to say "Amazing".

Let's have a look at what others have to say:
From Thom Jurek at

What seems to be an unlikely pairing in the duo of former -- and future apparently -- Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss is actually one of the most effortless-sounding pairings in modern popular music. The bridge seems to be producer T-Bone Burnett and the band assembled for this outing. ... These two voices meld together seamlessly; they will not be swallowed even when the production is bigger than the song. They don't soar, they don't roar, they simply sing songs that offer different shades of meaning as a result of this welcome collaboration.

From Robert Christgau at (who gave it 3.5 out of 5):

Skilled and inspired though it is, Raising Sand's relaxed, smoky harmonies and reverbed midtempo rockabilly don't always achieve the back-porch revelation they're going for. But they do both icons a world of good.

He is rightly rebutted by reader "ffnb1086" who says:

Two artists that people would never think to pair together actually fit together like the pieces of an odd, but beautiful puzzle. You can hear Robert Plant's distinct style of interpretation and Alison Krauss' at the same time and they blend wonderfully. T Bone Burnett fantastic production and song selection is the hand that put the puzzle together.... There is a "back-porch revelation" in this album (which Christgau didn't notice, among many things) and that's the revelation that two artists, of completely different styles, can still have a common thread that binds them; and the measure of true artistry is how well the two of them can exploit that thread and show how beautiful it can be.

From Alanna Nash at (who describes the album as "haunting and brilliant"):

Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for.

From General Jabbo at

Backed by a crack band including Marc Ribot, Norman Blake, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, and Dennis Crouch, Raising Sand sounds at once familiar and new. Two forces in their own right, Plant and Krauss combine to make something fresh and exciting. With rumors of a tour, the possibilities of Plant and Krauss reinterpreting each other’s catalogs makes this pairing even more intriguing. If Raising Sand is any indication, theirs could be the must-see tour of 2008.

Finally, metacritic rounded up 18 reviews (including a few I quoted here) to arrive at a score of 88 out of 100 (which is currently the 4th best score of any 2007 album they've covered).

Dream Theater: Game with Fame

dt logo
Dream Theater is this month's featured artist on Xbox Live (the on-line marketplace/gaming community used by the Xbox360). To promote the new "Xbox Originals" line (the ability to download classic Xbox games directly to your 360 for $15 each), the guys in Dream Theater will be online this Wed. Dec 5 from 5 - 7pm EST playing "Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge".

For more details and a list of Dream Theater's gamertags, check out

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Super Furry Animals to give away free Christmas MP3

From NME:

Super Furry Animals are to release a free MP3 of 'The Gift That Keeps Giving' as a Christmas present for fans.

The package, available to download on December 25, also includes an exclusive b-side and brand new artwork by Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami, who created the cover art for the song's parent album 'Hey Venus!'.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Butch Walker interviewed and some new songs

Atlanta's 99x radio station, largely responsible for breaking The Marvelous 3's "Freak of the Week," has an interview up with Butch Walker about losing all his stuff in a California fire. Butch's friend who was at the house saved the dogs just in the nick of time. It's great to hear his positive look at the ultimate meaninglessness of rock star materialism and be positively focused. Give it a listen.

Also, Butch has some new songs/demos up over on his MySpace page.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Genesis Live CD

As you know, the '80s line-up of Genesis reunited to do a tour this past year. Just out this week is a new 2-CD set called "Live Over Europe" from this tour. And, also, early next year we'll get a DVD of the full concert. More info at

It definitely looks to be worth a listen and perhaps a buy. Check out some of the tracks from the press release:

"LIVE OVER EUROPE 2007" features 21 songs spanning the diverse eras of the group's career, from such early gems as "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)," "In The Cage," and "Carpet Crawlers" to such late-'70s classics as "Ripples," "Afterglow," and "Follow You Follow Me" to such major hits as "Invisible Touch," "Land Of Confusion," and "I Can't Dance." Joining Banks (keyboards), Collins (vocals, drums), and Rutherford (guitars) on stage were longstanding touring Genesis members Daryl Stuermer (guitars) and Chester Thompson (drums).

Happy Birthday Richard Barbieri

Happy birthday greetings to Richard Barbieri, keyboardist for Porcupine Tree.

Could Metallica be doing something right???

I will swear up and down that Metallica's first three albums are three of the greatest metal albums ever. They were my first rock concert. They are in a tie (with Jethro Tull) as the band I have seen live the most times. They were great. Were. The new video game "Rock Band" has plucked them out of the "Where Are They Now and Do We Even Give A Rip?" file.

It's cool that they licensed master tracks to both Guitar Hero III ("One") and Rock Band (2 Justice cuts and 1 Lightning cut so far). What's really interesting, though, is this news that they have reserved the right to give Rock Band their first single from their new album. Now all joking aside that the new single and album might suck musically, this is a cool idea. Imagine that instead of heading to the radio or MTV for the debut of Metallica's new song, you head to Rock Band and play the thing right from the get go. Pretty cool.

New Supergrass coming soon

Supergrass is cool and we've got new stuff on the way. From here:

U.K. rock outfit Supergrass will release its new single, "Diamond Hoo Ha Man," Jan. 14 internationally on 7-inch vinyl. A live version of the cut can be downloaded from

An as-yet-untitled new album, produced by Nick Launay, will arrive in March via Parlophone. The set is the follow-up to 2005's "Road to Rouen," which debuted at No. 9 on the U.K. album chart.

Butch Walker loses everything to Malibu fire

Producer and awesome solo rock star Butch Walker has lost "everything" to fire in Malibu. He was renting a home from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and had just moved everything there. From this article:

"I had just consolidated my entire recording studio and house from Atlanta into the one house in Malibu," Walker, who was in New York City at the time of the fire, said in a press release. "I lost everything I've ever owned. Every master of every song I've ever recorded, every piece of recording equipment, guitars, drums and things I've collected over the years, cars, motorcycles, every family memorial, heirloom, picture, and document we ever had.... Gone. I feel like I finally know the difference between 'going back' and 'going home.'"

Reunion of the Week: Extreme!

Our friends Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone have announced that they will be getting back together for not only a show, but at least one album because (in Nuno's words) "there is a massive shortage of rock and roll on this planet. It’s almost extinct. I mean the true spirit of quality rock and roll — you know, Musicianship..."

I'm excited by this, largely because I'm hoping for something better than their fourth album which was a real downer. And also because they weren't just a party band. I was always excited about the way they struggled with the questions of faith and spirituality on record. I wonder if the many years of maturing (or perhaps lack thereof) will show up at all on the new album. Here's hoping so, both musically and lyrically.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Metallica plays Dire Straits

Now the original headline for this article is "Metallica plays Garbage at Neil Young School Concert", which of course, is an attempt to mislead the reader a bit with a shocking statement. It was the only concert Metallica did this year and they happened to play a lot of cover songs including "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage. But I found it most interesting to read that they played "Brothers In Arms" by Dire Straits. That is a beautiful, melancholic quiet song. I'd love to hear what the Metallica fellas did with that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Blade Runner soundtrack to be released along with new DVDs

You may have heard that a massively awesome 25th Anniversary DVD set of "Blade Runner" is coming out Dec. 18. While I'm very excited about that (and almost willing to dive into HD just because of it (but I won't b/c I'm not going to participate in a format war)), I am about as equally excited to learn about a much improved soundtrack release from Vangelis. Lots of juicy details here. But I'll sum it up:

Disc 1 - Same disc as the 1994 Warner Bros. release
Disc 2 - Previously unreleased music from the film that you used to only see on bootlegs
Disc 3 - A whole new Vangelis album inspired by Blade Runner

At first, I thought this was pretty lame, recycling an old disc and I've never enjoyed "Inspired By" soundtracks. But on second thought, I am excited about Disc 2 for all the obvious reasons. And once I rip this set to my hard drive, I can sequence the tracks properly. And as a huge Vangelis fan, I gotta say any new material from him will be much welcomed. So I can't wait to hear that 3rd disc also (so glad it isn't a disc of other artists who have been inspired by the movie).

The Beatles album that might have been in 1970

Here's a fun game I found here. Use the initial 1970 solo output of all four Beatles to compile what might have been their next album if they had stayed together. Check out the link for the rules and some samples.

Friday, November 16, 2007

News Round-Up

I'm sure you already know by now that Paul McCartney has said that The Beatles catalog should be coming to online digital music stores next year.

Weezer is working on a new album to be released next spring. Coming up sooner is a very interesting sounding solo release from Weezer's Rivers Cuomo (December 18th). Be sure to watch for that.

Candlemass will be touring North America next year (so far only a May date in New York City is announced). If you've been a fan for any length of time over here in the Americas, you know this is a big deal.

The latest David Lee Roth version of Van Halen has announced more tour dates to come next year, extending what they originally planned. Good to hear they're getting along so far.

Some bummer news: The Hellacopters have broken up.

Some really, really exciting news (for me at least): Puffy AmiYumi (a J-pop girl group created by Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish) has a new album called "Honeycreeper" that is... get this... produced by Butch Walker. Can't wait to get a hold of this.

Finally, let's talk about the confusing world of Genesis box sets. Back in 1998, Genesis released Archives, Vol.1 which was to be the first of three box sets with each set focusing on a certain phase of their career. This announcement was made before everybody realized that 1997's "Calling All Stations" (and it's concert tickets) were not selling worth beans and no one cares about anything Genesis did after 1992. So, only a second box set was released in 2000 to capture the rest of the career up through 1992.

But this year, Genesis has put out a very different kind of box set in April (covering 1975 - 1982) and on Nov. 20, they'll release the follow up box set covering 1983 - 1998. The sets include the original albums and then, taking a cue from Porcupine Tree, each album is accompanied by a DVD with extras like 5.1 mixes, videos and such. Plus there's a disc of B-sides and rarities in each set.

I really like the idea of the DVDs with all the extras... this seems to be something unique to the Genesis catalog and I'd like to see/hear them. However, I'd be very weary of the versions of the original albums on these. No doubt these are "remastered". This is a marketing term that means "We've compressed the crap out of the music, totally destroying the dynamic range it once had, so that it will sound fresher and more contemporary". This is a problem that plagues Led Zeppelin's new hits package called "Mothership". Stay far away from that! I lost my source for this quote... can't remember if it was Jimmy Page or Tony Banks that said this, but when asked why this compression was being done now to classic songs, the response was "that's the fashion these days". Sad.

Anyway, to sum up, you've got one box set covering Genesis from 1967-1975 released in 1998. Then two sets released this year that cover 1975 - 1998. And then there's that 3-disc archive set from 2000 that also covers 1976 - 1992. Not sure how much material is repeated there. Still confused? Me too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rossini, meet Ozzy

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. I loved this excerpt from this post in which he is visiting the final resting place of Rossini (turns out it wasn't as the remains had been moved):

There I was, sitting in semi-frightening near-darkness with the bones (again, NOT) of a true musical hero of mine. The skull that once contained the brain that birthed perfect crescendo after perfect crescendo lay in front of me in a crypt (NOT) and I could feel music creeping into my head. Not Rossini, but something else. It went: "Whatchoo gonna do..." duh duh - DUH DUH DUH DUH - Sabbath! It hit me like iron, man. There in front of me lie the bones (yawn, NOT) of the man who invented heavy metal. What? It's not too much of a stretch really. If Beethoven was the Led Zeppelin of the long long ago, then I'd put Rossini as yesteryear's Black Sabbath (and Wagner as Iron Madien and Rachmaninoff as Metallica - I could go on and on) without pause. Perhaps that's why people who like classical music don't care for heavy metal - they've heard it all before. Rossini was the "Spiral Architect" of a formula of quiet-loud-quiet heavy orchestral/operatic music that presaged Paranoid by a good 150 years and set the course for all of the thunderous overtures that would follow in the century after his demise. Surely at least a good half of everything "heavy" that's come since he wrote his overture to the opera William Tell could be directly attributed to Gioachino Rossini. Bazookas, jet airplanes, the Third Reich, Atlas Shrugged, John Goodman - I was on to something in front of that tomb and I knew it.

A Box of Peggs

A Box of Peggs
Dave Pegg turns 60 this month and celebrates with a career-spanning 4-disc box set called "A Box of Peggs" (limited to 2,000 editions). Quoting from here:

More than 80 tracks from Peggy's 38 years with Fairport Convention are included alongside tracks with Jethro Tull, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Steve Ashley, Dan Ar Braz, Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell and Steve Tilston to name a few.

A Box of Peggs – the boxed set cunningly masquerading as a cribbage box – is accompanied by a 100-page book which puts every track into its historical context and shows Peggy from the long-haired days of the 70s to his more conventional 2007 visage.

The boxed set includes all tracks from Peggy's one brilliant solo album – sadly now unavailable – The Cocktail Cowboy Goes It Alone.

Jethro Tull - Beethoven's 9th (2nd Mvmt)

This video is interesting for two reasons. First, it's Jethro Tull doing some of the 2nd movement from Beethoven's 9th symphony... something that's never been released on any of Tull's live albums. Second, it's a video of a Jethro Tull performance without Ian Anderson in it (at least I didn't see him). This was July 31, 1976 in Tampa, Florida. Jethro Tull is in my top 3 favorite bands ever and the 2nd mvmt from Beethoven's 9th is in my top 10 or 20 of most favorite pieces of music ever. So this was a treat for me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Beach Boys, Opeth, The Carpenters and Morbid Angel

From an old interview with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree:

I love the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson is one of my great influences. I don't want to lose that element of Porcupine Tree.

I listen to everything from the Carpenters to Andy Williams to Morbid Angel to Opeth, and everything in-between. For me, musically, when I sit down to write music, very naturally, organically all these influences and ingredients mix up together. If you describe that mix on paper you'd think it's never going to work.

If you don't have any Porcupine Tree in your collection, you are really missing some fantastic music.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Led Zeppelin concert postponed

Led Zeppelin have postponed a one-off comeback concert in London because guitarist Jimmy Page has broken his finger, the promoters said on Thursday.
The concert will now take place on December 10 and all tickets for the original concert on November 26 will be valid, a statement said.

The injury happened last weekend and Page will not be able to play guitar for three weeks, a statement quoted a specialist as saying. "I am disappointed that we are forced to postpone the concert by two weeks," said Page, 63.

"We feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to."

The concert venue takes up to 20,000 fans and many die-hard Zeppelin fans had organized trips from around the world to attend the concert this month. Tickets were allocated by ballot and more than 1 million fans registered for a chance to see the legendary rock group.

Page will be joined by singer Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones, and Bonham's son Jason will be the drummer. The show will be a tribute to the late founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, who signed the group in 1968.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Halo Soundtrack

I've been a fan of film scores for 30 years. Since May 25, 1977 to be exact. Naturally, I've also paid attention to the way that the soundtracks for video games have improved as the industry has matured. There were some early standouts... remember the theme from "Skate or Die"? Awesome! One of the first games that really had me drooling to find a score CD was Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. It was scored by Michael Giacchino who went on to do Pixar's "The Incredibles" and some TV shows called "Alias" and "Lost".

With the hype around the recently released Halo 3, I decided a couple of months ago that I better get Halo 2 and catch up on the story. I was instantly hooked by the music (which I didn't remember standing out to me when I played the first Halo on the PC way back in the day). Two soundtracks have been released for Halo 2 alone. As you can imagine, they follow the same format that a multi-soundtrack release for a movie does. The first soundtrack contains mostly rock or pop songs, most of which aren't in the game/movie, but which are "inspired by" it. Then due to demand from fans (and usually a couple of years later), you might get a proper score CD released. Such is the case hear. You might guess that I prefer the Volume 2 Score (by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori) and you'd be right.

The music from Halo 2 stands out because, for an action game, this music is largely melancholic, slowly mysterious and at times even sad. It's a good contemplative soundtrack for late nights after a young man has just had an argument with his girlfriend. Or, more personally, a good mood piece after a hard day at work. Also, the level of quality is very high. It sounds like a real human choir and orchestra are used (it also sounds like synthesized ones are used in some parts, too, though). Crisp, sharp and clear, this music stands very well on its own even if you've never played or never intend to play the video game.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What? How?

How is it possible to play pinball by sense of smell?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fun Lyric #1

"I don't know karate, but i know ka-razy!"

-James Brown "The Payback"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

October Birthdays

It's October already... wow! Here are notable birthdays this month in the world of rock and/or roll. If you're a famous musician and you don't see your name here, that's because you're not notable... to me anyway. Sorry.

Mike Rutherford is 57 today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Rutherford!
Matthew Sweet will be 43 on the 6th.
David Lee Roth will be 52 on the 10th.
Bob Mould will be 47 on the 12th.
Marie Osmond will match Mould on the 13th.
Sammy Hagar will hit the big 60 on the 13th.
Also on the 13th, Paul Simon will be 66.
Richard Carpenter hits 61 on the 15th.
John Mayer will be 30 on the 16th.
Chuck Berry hits 81 on the 18th.
Weird Al Yankovic will 48 on the 23rd.
Jon Anderson will be 63 on the 25th.
On the 26th, Natalie Merchant will be 44.
Joey BellaDonna will be 47 on the 30th.
On the 31st, Vanilla Ice will be 39 and Adam Horovitz will be 41.

RTFO you old timers!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Two new E.P.s from Bleu

Just found out that Bleu has two new E.P.s out. The first is "The Blizzard of '05". Bleu says "Most of it was recorded in the two weeks surrounding that legendary storm, and it was done almost entirely live in the studio." The second is "Happy Birthday" which he describes as "a collection of songs i've written for people's birthday's over the years (many years)....they were all written, recorded and mixed in 24 hours (or less)." Unfortunately, they are only available via iTunes at this time. That counts me out. I've written to Bleu's manager to see if there's another way to get a hold of these E.P.s. I'll let you know how that turns out as I'm sure there are other serious music collectors like me who can't stand bloatware on a Windows box.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Roth joins Van Halen family, Michael Anthony MIA

A semi-reunited Van Halen will start a 24 date tour this fall. I say semi-reunited, because, while it is significant that David Lee Roth is teaming with the Van Halen brothers, it is also significant that bassist Michael Anthony is not part of the new Van Halen. Instead, Eddie's 16-year-old son Wolfgang will be playing bass. No word on if this means the concerts must end by 10:00pm due to curfew laws. Hopefully, it'll be a dry tour bus if not for Wolfgang, but also for Eddie.

So where is Michael Anthony? Touring with another of Van Halen's former frontmen - Sammy Hagar.

Some will find it exciting to see DLR with the VH brothers again, but this certainly doesn't count as an original Van Halen reunion (no matter if you think Michael Anthony & Alex Van Halen made up one of the most boring "party band" rhythm sections ever, which a lot of people do). This is really Van Halen - Mark IV.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Falkner's "I'm OK... You're OK"

I'm OK... You're OKSpeaking of (semi-)recent activities of former members of Jellyfish, Jason Falkner's new album has been released in Japan and will hopefully see a U.S. release this summer. You can import it if you want.

You can preview some new songs at Jason's MySpace page.
Track listing:
01. This Time
02. NYC
03. The Knew
04. Stephanie Tells Me
05. Hurricane
06. Anondah
07. Komplicated Man
08. Runaway
09. Say It's True
10. Contact
11. This Life of Mine
12. I Don't Mind (bonus track)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Malibu: Robo-Sapiens

Robo-SapiensI know this is kind of old news, but it happened in-between the time since I last really worked on this site early in the year. Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. has put out a new album under his "DJ" name Malibu. It's not what you'd expect from him. He's exploring a fascination with electronic music. I haven't heard it, but would love to. Check it out at Amazon.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Jars of Clay Remix Contest

Jars of Clay 
The master tracks from my favorite song from the latest Jars of Clay album are available for download for free so that you can create your own remix. From the official site for the remix contest:

For the first time in Jars of Clay history we are making available for download the multitracks for one of our songs. May we introduce "Dead Man (Carry Me)" off our new album Good Monsters. It is our hope that you will remix, re-create, re-edit, re-configure, and realize what you will with these parts in coming up with your own versions. All 26 tracks here are 16 bit 44.1kHz WAV files ready for re-mixing. There is no cost for you to download the tracks. (note: all multitracks are copyrighted material)

So, download and have some fun making your own mixes.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jellyfish tribute available for pre-order

Sensory Lullabies"Sensory Lullabies: The Ultimate Tribute to Jellyfish" is finally available for pre-ordering! The official release date is September 11th, 2007 - the albums will be shipped then. Here's some exciting information I got from Alan Heaton (exec producer of the project):

You already know that "Sensory Lullabies" is going to be pretty special - it's 35 tracks filling 2-CDs to their limit - almost 2.5 hours of Jellyfish covers! And if that's not enough, everyone who orders the Album from our online store will receive a Free Exclusive Bonus CD ONLY available here containing covers of the 3 Jellyfish originals that wouldn't fit on "Sensory Lullabies" - you will therefore get covers of EVERY original Jellyfish song ever released on CD! Quantities of "Sensory Lullabies" and especially the Bonus CD are going to be extremely limited.

The price of "Sensory Lullabies: The Ultimate Tribute to Jellyfish" is US $24.99, and it can be pre-ordered at Burning Sky Records.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Led Zeppelin reunion rumors... again

Every six months, it seems, we hear that the surviving members of Led Zeppelin are in talks to reunite and go on tour. So, here we are again. With yet another greatest hits package on its way ("Mothership" - 24 tracks hand picked by the guys), there's no time like the present to cash in on the brand and go on tour. Wonder if the drummer's last name will be Bonham?

40th Anniversary: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper'sJune 1st marked the 40th anniversary of the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles. The album is considered by many to be "the greatest rock record ever made" and considered by everyone else to be "one of the greatest rock records ever made".

To celebrate, you can check out the anniversary web site.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Set List for new Genesis tour

As you may have heard, Phil Collins has re-united with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford (along with Chester and Daryl) to go on tour as Genesis for the first time since 1992. Here's the set list:

Behind the Lines / Duke’s End / Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land of Confusion
In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke’s Travels / Afterglow
Hold on My Heart

Home by the Sea / Second Home By The Sea
Follow You Follow Me
Firth of Fifth / I Know What I Like

Throwing It All Away

Drum Duet / Los Endos
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight / Invisible Touch

I Can’t Dance
Carpet Crawlers

US Dates are coming up this fall (here are a couple local ones to some readers):
Oct. 6 - Denver, CO Pepsi Center
Oct. 9 - San Jose, CA HP Pavilion
Oct. 10 - Sacremento, CA ARCO Arena
Oct. 12 - Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl
Oct. 13 - Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl

Friday, July 27, 2007

Metal Rules

Sorry for not posting for so long. Been busy with real life. Now it's time to talk Metal.

I was playing the train game online with Rich the other night and we were talking about some of the metal bands I've been listening to lately and he asked me to send him a list. So y'all get to see it, too. As some of you know, I was a metal head in high school and then spent the next 15 years after that in pursuit of the perfect power pop music (even though it had already been found at the start of those 15 years - Jellyfish). Anyway, come 2005 and I realize that you just can't take the Metal out once you've got it in you. So here's what's been spinning here lately, Metal-wise:

Porcupine Tree - In Absentia (2002); Deadwing (2005); Fear of a Blank Planet (2007): I am forever indebted to Dave R. for introducing me to my new favorite band. Besides the albums I mentioned, there's an extensive back catalog. They're not entirely metal... more like Progressive Rock Fusion with Metal elements. At times they can rock very hard and at other times play some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. If you only hear one track: "Blackest Eyes" from In Absentia. For a perfect example of the beauty in their music, check "Lazarus" from Deadwing. Cool recent interview with Steve Wilson:.

Dream Theater - Octavarium (2005); Systematic Chaos (2007): These two latest albums from the kings of Prog Metal are pretty different from each other, but both of them are really good. Octavarium is criticized by certain members of the fan base as being too soft with references to Coldplay and U2 influences. I don't see it. "Panic Attack" is probably the most kick ass song I've heard from 2005. The new album opens up with a completely amazing first 5 minutes. The middle section of the album will need to be listened to more to absorb it, but the bookend tracks (which are actually part 1 and part 2 of one epic song) are great, heavy and technically amazing Prog Metal.

Kamelot - Ghost Opera (2007): I'm not speaking specifically about the new album here, but this band is really growing on me. They sound like Scandinavian Power Metal, but are actually from Florida. They've been around for something like 12 years already. Any of the last four albums are worth a listen. There's some really fast, sometimes progressive, always powerful metal here. Their vocalist is great, too. Reminiscent of some of the great voices like Geoff Tate and Bruce Dickinson, but without going too far into the "Hey, I could also be an opera singer!" moments that some of the Scandinavian guys like to do.

Candlemass - These guys made a name for themselves in the '80s as being the absolute heaviest metal band on earth. Think Black Sabbath, but much heavier, thicker and about 100 times more gloomy. Epic Doom Metal at its best (their first album is titled "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus"). The reason I note them here is that just back in 2005 they got back together and put out a self-titled album. I haven't gotten too far into this album, but I remember the first track "Black Dwarf" being incredible. I just found out that after the 2005 reunion, Messiah Marcolin (vocalist) left again. There's a new album out this year with a different vocalist called "King of the Grey Islands", but I haven't heard it yet.

Symphony X - I once cataloged these guys in my brain rather quickly as "yet another new Prog/Power Metal band". So then I never took the time to get into any of their albums. But... Oh My Goodness! The newest album, Paradise Lost completely blew me away! This is currently my heavy rotation disc. It's stuck in the CD player in the car (I've been making lots of trips to Lowes lately). If you've spent any time with European Prog, Power or Symphonic Metal, you might have noticed the trend of bands that are early in their careers using that cheesy synthesized orchestra sound to try and orchestrate their ambitious epics. While the idea might be great, the cheesy sounding synth orchestra completely ruins the experience. Not so with Paradise Lost. This thing opens with an instrumental overture-type of thing that uses, what sounds like, an aggressive, huge, real orchestra and then launches into some of the fastest, crunchiest, heaviest riffing ever. It's awesome! The whole album (except one power ballad) is fast, aggressive, and, literally, heart pounding to the core. This must be listened to loud! I can't remember the last time a metal album blew me away so hard that I thought I might get injured listening to it. And, again I was surprised to find that this European sounding band was from the States (New Jersey).

Megadeth - has become interesting to me again because a few years ago, Dave Mustaine found Jesus. And also because Megadeth has broken up and re-grouped several times. The newest album "United Abominations" is the second one since Mustaine's "conversion". He's firmly planted his sites on all things political and "current events". No more skull and devil music, just very biting commentary on the state of things with some kick ass riffs and solos. I can't say that either of these are exciting me as much as Symphony X or Kamelot, but if you ever were a Megadeth fan, you need to check out the last two albums (the prior one being called "The System Has Failed").

(This is getting long and I've been working on it off-and-on for a few days. In the interest of time, I shall be more brief going forward)

Manowar - Still around, still the self-proclaimed Kings of Metal has a new album out this year that begins an "album cycle" in which each album will be dedicated to a different god of war. This year's album is called, simply, "Gods of War". Haven't heard this one yet, but the lead reviews at that Amazon link are not promising.

Ozzy's new album has 10 tracks, 4 of which are worth repeat listens: "I Don't Wanna Stop", "The Almighty Dollar", "Silver" and "Civilize The Universe".

Adagio - I've got "Sanctus Ignis" from 2001. This is really good symphonic metal with a really interesting all-instrumental cover of "Immigrant Song". From allmusic: "A good many bands seem to be intent on merging classical/symphonic styles with heavy metal. This group does a much better job than many at it. The central reasons that their music seems more immediate is that they appear to have a genuine interest in the classical end of things"

Diablo Swing Orchestra - "Butcher's Ballroom". This is bizarre and must be heard to be believed. The three words in the name of the band are not just random... they are purposeful. This is dark, devilish swing music done heavy metal style with a beautiful female operatic vocal and demonic growling to boot. It sounds absolutely ridiculous the way I describe it, but it's actually good. I can guarantee you haven't heard anything like this. There's also an outrageously preposterous back story created for the band going back to 1501 in Sweden. Read it here. While there, listen to Balrog Boogie.

Avenged Sevenfold - you may have heard of (they've been pushed heavily at mainstream outlets). Actually good.

Narnia - This is good power metal with some progressive tendencies. It's a Christian band if that makes a difference for you. Nothing stellar really stands out, but all their albums were keepers for me.

Balance of Power - Another good, but not quite stellar, Christian Power/Prog metal band. Lots of promise. I'll be keeping tabs on them.

Atomic Opera's "For Madmen Only" came out in 1994 and really sounds just like King's X. So give that a shot if you're jonesing for some more of that sound. The first song "Joyride" is awesome and at least two others are really good ("Blackness" and "New Dreams"). From allmusic: "The third and least well-known band to emerge from Texan producer Sam Taylor's prog-metal stables (the first and second were King's X and the Galactic Cowboys, respectively)."

Here are some other bands that I intend to check out soon:
Thalion (symphonic metal)
Dragonland (from allmusic's review of their "Starfall" album: "a total throwback to the old-school power metal of the '70s and '80s — and this grandiose, elaborate effort (which is full of stereotypical dungeons-and-dragons lyrics) gets a great deal of inspiration from progressive rock as well"
Dragonforce ('80s style Power Metal)
Frameshift's "An Absence of Empathy" (Prog Metal with Sebastian Bach on vocals)
Shadow Gallery (more prog rock, than metal)
Stratovarious (prog metal)
Royal Hunt (prog metal)
Freedom Call (melodic, prog-tinged German power metal)

Ok, there you go. Knock yourself out and let me know what you like.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Fratellis - Costello Music

The Fratellis I was ready to dismiss The Fratellis as another band that had a kick butt single that Apple made famous in an iPod commercial. I'm glad I checked out their recently released (in the US anyway) album, "Costello Music" -- it's a great listen all the way through, not a bad track on it! They've got a sort of transitional style that lands somewhere in the pop rock genre, but pays a lot of tribute to 60's pop (I swear I hear some Hermans Hermits in there). This band is a lot of fun.

If you're wondering who I'm talking about, take a listen to "Flathead" which is the iPod single that has 3 or 4 songs worth of great hooks in there. After you lsiten to that a few times, go on to get the rest of the disc, as it's a keeper.

(post written by Joe)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Genesis Announces North American Tour Dates

The partially reunited Genesis (+ Collins, - Gabriel and Hackett) has announced a North American tour. Here are the dates:

Sep 07, 2007 Toronto ON CA BMO Field
Sep 11, 2007 Boston MA US TD Banknorth Garden
Sep 14, 2007 Montreal QC CA Olympic Stadium
Sep 16, 2007 Hartford CT US Hartford Civic Center
Sep 18, 2007 Philadelphia PA US Wachovia Center
Sep 22, 2007 Columbus OH US Nationwide Arena
Sep 23, 2007 Washington DC US Verizon Center
Sep 27, 2007 East Rutherford NJ US Giants Stadium
Sep 29, 2007 Cleveland OH US Quicken Loans Arena
Sep 30, 2007 Detroit MI US Palace of Auburn Hills
Oct 02, 2007 Chicago IL US United Center
Oct 09, 2007 San Jose CA US HP Pavilion
Oct 12, 2007 Los Angeles CA US Hollywood Bowl

Friday, February 9, 2007

Fear of a Blank Planet

Fear of a Blank PlanetThe cover design and track listing have been released for Porcupine Tree's upcoming album "Fear of a Blank Planet". It'll be released in April. Check out the news here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I am listening to an incredible album! It's called "The Doughnuts in Granny's Greenhouse" by The Bonzo Dog Band. One member of the band is Neil Innes who eventually was part of the Rutles. It came out in 1968.

With song titles like "My Pink Half of the Drainpipe" and "Can Blue Man Sing the Whites", this is a psychedelic pop wonderment.

I think you'd dig this stuff if you like any of the late period psychedelic stuff the Beatles did. My wife just came in and said, "Is that the Beatles?"

Paul McCartney, under a pseudonym, produced a track by these guys (not on the recording I have). Their song "The Trouser Press" was the inspiration for an underground rock mag and their song "Death Cab for Cutie" was the inspiration for, well... Death Cab for Cutie.