Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Headin' Out...

Yep, my beautiful and gracious wife has endorsed my trip to NYC tomorrow thru Sunday to attend a private celebration with my fellow blogging critics over at Newcritics for the sites inaugural anniversary. It will be the first time that I'll have the opportunity to meet in-person some of those that I have been sparring with politically and sharing musical musings with for years. We'll also wrap up a studio project that's been in the works for far too long over at Smoke & Mirrors. I really look forward to seeing the guys there and of course my most excellent host Jackson and his lovely lady. I really can't wait. I'll see if I can toss a post up while in country.

Meanwhile, back on the homefront, the guys were at the house to start the drywall finishout effort of my studio's isolation room. Should be done by the time I return. Next will be an IKEA snap together floor, trim work, paint, and acoustic dressing all of which I'll do myself. I'll have photos when I get back.

This may be a bit on the geeky side, but I've also completed a total data backup on the families PC. As most folks do, I bought the external hard drive and there it sat on the desk for two months. After running out of things to do to avoid setting the blasted thing up, I went to work and after three days not only backed up 20 gigs worth of data, but reloaded our iTunes library onto my MAC G4 for the move to the listening room or perhaps the studio some day. While I was babysitting the data transfer, I looked through many of the 8,000+ photos my wife has stored on the internal drive. After seeing some of photocronical my wife has assembled over the years I slept like a baby knowing that if that drive crashes I will have avoided the MONTHS of anguish that surely would have followed when she discovered all those photos to be gone forever. Not to mention the shit ton of ripped music in my iTunes library. Highly recommend doing it anybody who's got the same situation.

Be cool and see ya'all soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

IDM Poll...

The stupid kid who rear ended me Tuesday won't return her insurance agent's call and give them a statement. Basically, that means that I have to inconvenience my wife by driving her car to work until this chicklette offers her statement and can be assessed the blame for the accident. It also sounds like she hasn't told her parents about the accident or the ticket she got as a result. It's going to cost her 16-year-old ass her licence for six months according to GA state law no matter what. The question: She lives around the corner from us, should I go by her house and rat her out to her parents?

Leave your answer in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I didn't need those fingers anyway...

What a couple of days it’s been…

Started out pretty good actually. Snow fell all day long on Saturday and provided a fantastic opportunity for my kid to play outside with her friends while myself and my recently retired from the U.S. Navy brother in law fetched 14 sheets of drywall from Home Depot and hung it in what will soon be Gray Cat Sound’s isolation room. All went extremely well with the exception of getting my thumb smashed into a door hinge while foolishly attempting to hoist two sheets at a time up the back stairwell. Since there were youngsters afoot, I was unable to unfurl my usual and legendary string of vulgararity, but managed to narrowly avoid throwing up by sticking my head out of a window into the fresh winter air. Chuck and I wrapped up the project at about five o’clock and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I had completely forgotten what it was like to have competent male help for a project like this (no slag against my wife and sister who helped hang all the drywall back at my old house, they were a great help back then). I will certainly be there to reciprocate when we sheetrock Chuck's garage in the near future. I've decided to hire out the tape and finish work on the isolation room in order to get a better result and speed the project to completion. I’ve also decide to install an IKEA lock together faux hardwood floor myself and am targeting completion of the whole project by mid Feb.

My luck however would run afoul Sunday morning as I was awaken to my wife hauling ass out of the bathroom to tell me that the exterminators efforts to capture a furry little visitor underneath her side of the sink cabinets was successful. There was a “HUGE” rat stuck to the sticky pad traps she told me as she begged me to get up and take care of it. First off, I knew it wasn’t a rat or a mouse since it was on the second floor and my wife keeps a house so impeccably clean that there’d be no reason for a mouse to risk the venture for just a mere chance of some food. I was correct, it was easily identified as a squirrel of some variety and much to my sadness, the poor thing was still alive, but completely stuck to the sticky trap. Nothing I could do for him. After taking care of that untidy little mess, I thought I was ready to plunk down and prepare for a serious couch potato growing session ahead of playoff football on TV.

Ah, but the Godz were not done with me yet. While attempting to help my overfed and notoriously curious fat cat (Fiona Bologna) onto her perch on top of the refrigerator, she dug her back claws into my left palm launching herself into position. Unbeknownst to me, she had already been hitting the catnip stuffed fat rat toy and was pretty fired up. Nice Bologna. About the time I was finished dressing that wound, my brother in law called and asked if I still had some bed frame rails that went to a head/foot board set we’d given them when we moved in a few months ago. Since he was such a great help to me the day prior I decided there was enough time in my loafing schedule to load those metal bed frames into the ole Jeep and take them over to him saving him the trip. Well, sliding one of the rails in through the back window opened up two slices on my right hand fingers, blood everywhere. “Probably need stitches”, was what I said to myself, but rejected the notion of sitting in an emergency room while the San Diego Chargers pull off the upset of the century (a guy can wish!). So, tape it up I did (see picture above). This will mark me as probable for guitar playing when I travel to NYC next week which really bums me out. The rest of the day was injury free and while one segment of the NFL Axis of Evil beat the Chargers, the New York Football Giants earned a bid to the Super Bowl.

Monday was better. After reflecting on MLK’s greatness and reading some great pieces about the man in the AJC, I dropped Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” into the player and my wife and I watched the whole thing. Wow. What can I say that Jackson hasn’t already said. Hit after hit. Wisdom far beyond that of the ancients. Two highlights amongst many: A small segment with David Grohl in which he describes what it was like to get a call from Tom asking him to play the drums for a Saturday Night Live showfollowing Stan Lynch's departure from the Heartbreakers. His reaction is as funny as it is humbling. Great guy DG. The other was some wild footage of Tom in the studio after being called by his long time idol Roger McGuinn. Seems Roger wanted Tom’s feedback on some songs Roger’s record company was attempting to get him to record for an upcoming album. Tom is incredulous but keeps his cool while explaining to the gaggle of assembled record company hired producers that the songs they’ve given him to record are crap and insulting to a national icon like McGuinn. At one point, one of the producers says, “Well, let’s rewrite some of the lyrics, and Tom responds, “Fuck that, you need to write better songs for this guy. Are you even familiar with this guys body of work?”. Amazing. It’s sad that the film only confirms that rock and roll really is dead. I hate being right about this as does Tom.

Woke up this morning and rolled the alive/dead squirrel filled trash can out to the curb and beat a quick path to work. As I was pulling out onto the main thoroughfare, some 16 year old rear ended me causing me to spill my coffee all over parts that hurt a lot when coffee is spilled on them. I got out of the car and asked if she and her younger brother were alright. They were. Not only did they not ask how I was, neither one of them said a single word to me as coffee created steam plumed off of my Dockers while dialing the police. Once my wife arrived to switch cars with me, my first thought was to call Jackson and talk about “Runnin’ Down a Dream”.
He didn’t answer, I left a message.

And so goes the shitty days of the gloom period for me. Spring cannot come soon enough

Friday, January 18, 2008

When he's wrong, he's wrong...

...but, when he's right, he right. This from a recent Lefsetz letter:

"What kind of fucked up world do we live in where kids would rather play a video game than follow and go to the shows of new artists? One in which the creativity encased in the game exceeds that in the grooves of the new records. Music has lost its way, its essence. But that isn't its biggest problem. Its biggest problem is the lack of attention, the fact that not only do people not care, those acts that are cared about garner very few eyeballs."

Rock is dead, long live rock!

The sky's are graying again...

...and the forecast is for some light snow. What this means is that every Atlantan working in the city will get in their cars and act like complete asshats. They will freak out beyond the pale of belief and make an hour long ride home into two hours like they did Wednesday night.

This is a shining example of the politics of fear that our worthless media conglomerates foist upon us regularly. The stupid dramatic music and graphics that are added to local news broadcasts with ominous and threatening sounding dolts doing stand ups all over the city warning of THE DUSTING we're going to get. It never ceases to amaze me how people can buy into it so easily. When someone goofs on me for being critical of MSM's handling of any other topical issue of the day, I'll simply point to this ridiculousness as proof of how badly the MSM media distorts things in order to sell papers/airtime. Report a a case of TB at some random school? Well, you can't broadcast this piece without asking the question of whether or not it's the beginning of an epidemic type outbreak. Gas prices go up by a penny? You got to ask to the point of prophesizing the “will they go up to $4.00 per gallon soon” question. It’s complete and utter bullshit and I can’t stand it.

This is why I don’t freak out about issues like global warming and such when they’re reported in the news. Not that I’m saying it’s not a legitimate concern. It is, but I know it’s just not something that I need to throw my hands up in the air, sell my house, and start yelling at people about. That’s what the MSM does, this is what sells papers.

Thus endth the lesson for the day. I must now go to the window and wait for the first flake to fall so I can get ahead start on the moron-a-thon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My favorite songs in the world Part VIIICMIV...

My always late to the party brother, myself, and our friend Dr. Palmer have been enjoying an off-line discussion regarding the relative merits of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My brother had offered up a few acts for nominations that we’ve sort of batted around and inevitably the subject of UFO comes up. This is a topic that has been pretty well covered here and at Savage Distortion and there is really nothing I can add that I haven’t already stated, but in our discussion we did revisit the idea of the hall doing something along the lines of legacy preservation of works by influential musicians and bands that, while not commercially successful, left indelible marks on future players and the art form itself. I still think this a worthwhile endeavor that the gate keepers of the RRHOF ought to give serious consideration to.

On the way home last night I got to thinking about other charters the hall might be able to take on that might raise some much needed legitimacy to the institution and thought that a great sub-set/display/category might be featuring albums and acts that were/are considered ahead of their time. I can think of many as I’m sure anyone can, but since I’ve been listening to a lot of hard rock lately, two come to mind right away: Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog” originally released in 1975, and Ronnie Montrose's self titled debut originally released in 1972.

We listened to these records non-stop in the late seventies and early eighties without really knowing that they were already more than six years old at the time (at least I didn’t know). Since they sounded so different from the other hard rock records we were listening to then most of which were recorded in the 60’s, I assumed they were contemporary. Listening to them today they both sound like solidly mid eighties recordings at the earliest.

"Hair of the Dog" is almost as perfectly recorded an album as you can get even by today’s standards; meaty, clear, tone filled guitars that contemporary engineers and producers STILL struggle to capture. Drums that sit in the mix loud and proud, without the use of heavy reverb plates muddying up the bottom end washing out the bass guitar. But the real feature that pulls it all together is producer/guitar player Manny Charlton’s treatment of Dan McCafferty’s vocals. The result is indescribably great. You just have to listen to it to understand it’s brilliance. Jackson delivers a great retrospect on Nazareth here which includes some great detail on "Hair of the Dog" and beyond.

"Montrose" is another one that if you weren’t familiar with it, you’d think it had been recorded in 1982 vs. 1972. Gun slinger Ronnie Montrose was cutting a swath through the hard rock world of the fading 60's with his aggressive style when he put his band together with a young and previously unknown former boxer and singer Sammy Hagar (that’s right, the same one who played a role in ruining Van Halen in the 80’s). Ted Templemen produced this record and it shows that it was only a matter of time before his sound would become the bar which all rock records would be measured, especially when heavy metal broke out of its niche in the early 80’s. Some proclaim that Ted never did anything more than unlock the studio door when working with his acts, but if you listen to this Montrose album and any of the Van Halen records he produced a decade later, or any of his other efforts for that matter, it’s pretty clear that the guy played a major role at the console shaping the sound. While the songs aren’t as strong as Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog”, sonically this Montrose record is simply amazing. Again, the guitars are thick and juicy and have their own space, but don’t dominate the mix so much as to detract from the rest of the performance. Templemen also introduces the world to “Big Drums” which would become par for the course during the hair metal heydays that followed a decade later. Back then, they were new and very cool as they blasted beats out of boomboxes planted at skateboard half pipes across the country.

I’ve loaded up three tracks off of each for your listening pleasure. From the Nazareth record I give you “Miss Misery” which features those guitars as I describe them. Also, listen to the vocal in the last verse and just try to convince yourself that it isn’t one of the high water marks of hard rock…

Can't think how I got myself
Caught up in this nightmare
Evil schemes, midnight screams
Come on somebody listen to my prayer

I'd give all I've got to give
Just to find my way out
Got it going but I can't let go
I'm trapped on this crazy 'round about
Tryin' to break the spell you hold on me

(ed note: K-Fed was heard singing this verse repetitively as he picked up a 20 pack of Pampers at the 7-11 last week)

Man, I’d sell my soul to replicate that vocal.

Jackson’s fav “Begger’s Day” is there, as is “Changin’ Times”. If you can’t dig these three gems, you simply hate rock.

From ‘Montrose” I’ve got “Make it Last” (a set list number from my high school band days), Bad Motor Scooter” and “Rock the Nation” all very tasty tracks indeed. Hit the Bandongo player, let’er rip, and as always, tell me what you think.

Friday, January 04, 2008

My favorite songs in the world: One for Senator Obama

In light of my below mentioned seasonal funk, I’ve been thinking of tunes to post for this reoccurring thing and today’s caucus discussion has inspired me. See, when I get to feeling a mood I look for music that feeds that mood. It's like sticking your face out during a bar fight and taking a punch. I’m not sure if it’s healthy in the clinical sense, but it helps to work out the frustration and in the process I ultimately end up feeling a bit better.

The guys at Smoke & Mirrors apparently got some work doing a tune for the Obama campaign which is a very cool thing indeed. They even got the Misanthrope, local ripping axe man and fellow conservative, to lend a hand. I actually like Obama. My hope is that the campaign bullshit doesn’t wear me out on him (i.e. “I will pull troops from Iraq immediately…” No you won’t) if he should be elected to the Whitehouse. I think he’s still too green and the Misanthrope’s run down is pretty accurate, but hey, who knows maybe green is what we need.

“Wicked World” is the greatest Sabbath song in the world and Barak would be smart to give a listen and take note. Even though it has the ever present and overly self indulgent Tony Iomni guitar solo’s and weird bits of the era, I can’t think of a song that’s a better example of who these guys were and where they came from. When it comes to myth matching reality, the VH1 skinny on Black Sabbath is fairly accurate. The music on the bands’ first album (made in like three days) is the Birmingham these guys grew up in incarnated; grotty, tough, and hopeless. It must have been an easy record to make given this reality. I love the shitty production amp buzz and all. Ozzy never sounds better and Bill Ward is on top of his game.

I’ll say this… If the guys up at S&M want to cut a version of this tune and send it to Obama (or any other candidate for that matter) count me in. I’ll book the flight and buy the booze. Maybe Dave could finally get his chance to let it all hang out and even better, Dr. Machold might turn those sticks around and do the tune some justice with the heavy ends. Give it some consideration it fellas.

Just hit play on the Bandogo player in the margin and let'er rip...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The most worsterful time of the year...

Cold weather, preformance review period, taxes, little to look forward to in the immediate future, etc... I hate this time of the year.

The only glimmer of relief is that the winter lasts only through February here.

It's going to be a long two months...