Thursday, January 20, 2011

Five Random Songs

I admit that I am stealing this idea from a former music publication.  While interviewing a musician, the writer asked said musician to hit shuffle on their Ipod, and comment on the first five tracks that pop up.  I thought this idea was pretty cool, so I am going to do the same.  Hopefully, it will give you some insight to bands you should check out, or perhaps it can spark debate.  So I'm hitting shuffle, on my 160 GB pod,(with 33GB of music) and lets see what pops up.

First song:  Vampires(Don't Kill for the Money)
Artist:  Bleed the Dream
Album:  Killer Inside

This is a pretty decent rocktune.  The band changed singers, and this is the second singer.  The band started of as more of a post-hardcore band, with screamo tendencies.  The newer singer took the band into a more radio-friendly direction.  This is one of the better tracks on the record, catchy, and pleasant.  This band was garbage live, however.

Second song:  O Holy Night
Artist:  Go Radio
Album:  A Fearless Christmas

This is obviously a Christmas song, which seems weird to listen to a month after Christmas.  The track is really a beautiful song.  Jason Lancaster is definently one of the best frontmen in the genre.  Gotta love a Christmas song with guitar solos and catchy hooks, right?

Third Song:  Flannel is the Color of My Energy
Artist:  Four Year Strong
Album:  Enemy of the World

If you live bands like A Day to Remember, you will love Four Year Strong.  The band uses dual vocalists, and this song is aggressively catchy.  It has breakdowns for the hardcore kids, and catchy hooks for the pop kids.  Very fun music.

Fourth Song:  On Account of an Absence
Artist:  Misery Signals
Album:  Of Malice and the Magnum Heart

A solid hardcore band out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one my favorites.  This is their last album with their original singer.  For a metalcore band, it is surprisingly melodic with the vocals, and the guitars are very heavy.  The drumwork is quite good as well, with plenty of double-bass to go around.

Fifth Song:  Why is 6 Afraid of 7?
Artist:  Before Their Eyes
Album:  Self-titled

This band is very similar to Hawthorne Heights.  A decent band, and this isn't really a standout track in my opinion, the band has done much better things recently.  If you are a fan of Hawthorne Heights, you should check them out.

Artist of the Week: Murderdolls

It has been awhile since I last chose an "Artist of the Week," so here is hoping I can be more consistent in 2011.  Anyway, let's check out the Murderdolls, a band I have been jamming out to lately.

The Murderdolls describe themselves as "horror punk," and write songs about vampires, monsters, and everything in between.  The band has gone through several members during the years, but the core members are vocalist Wednesday 13, and guitarist Joey Jordison, who is more known for playing drums in Slipknot.

The band formed in 2002, releasing an EP, and their debut full length, titled "Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls."  The band found some success with that release, and toured all over the world, including dates with bands like Stone Sour, which is fronted by Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor.  With all of the other band members having full-time commitments with other bands, the Murderdolls were put on the backburner, although Wednesday 13 claimed that they would regroup to record a second album at some point.

Fast-forward 8 years, and the Murderdolls did just that.  In August 2010, the Murderdolls released their second album, entitled "Women and Children First."  The album debuted on the US billboard charts at #43, and garnered positive reviews all over the world.  They embarked on a tour with Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie shortly after.

Take the Misfits and Motley Crue, murder them, have them come back as zombie musicians, and that is the sound you get when the Murderdolls enter your eardrums.  Never before have songs about vampires, blood, mutilation, and murder been so fun.  The standout tracks on the album are "Nowhere," which is a song about being a reject, and probably the most commercial-friendly track on the album.  The opener, "Chapel of Blood," is a ferocious sounding song that will get your heart racing, and has a powerful guitar riff, featured in the chrous. 

The Murderdolls aren't exactly an original act, and won't chance the face of rock music, but they are extremely effective, and a lot of fun.  Do yourself a favor and pick up their new album!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gil Meche Retires, Walks Away from $12 Million

In a surprise move, Kansas City Royals pitcher Gil Meche decided to retire today.  Meche, who is only 32, was tired of fighting through various shoulder and back ailments.  Meche has been a starter throughout his professional career, but due to weakness in his shoulder, he was slated to pitch out of the bullpen in 2011.

The most stunning part of the story, however, is that Meche is walking away from a guaranteed salary of $12 million.  Meche signed a 5 year, $55 million deal at the end of the 2006 season, and never became the ace Kansas City envisioned.  Rather than have surgery, and miss most, if not all of the season, Meche will hang it up, and forfeit a cool $12 million.

I have done a little research, and I can't think of an instance where a player walked away from such a large contract.  Usually when a player is hurt in the final year of a contract, they "rehab" the injury, and try to be a positive role model for the younger players.  They collect their paychecks, and move on.  Meche decided if he couldn't fulfill the role he wanted, then he would rather walk way from the game, and graduate to the next phase of his life.

I really don't know how to react to Meche's decision.  I really respect the integrity and fortitude that Meche displayed today.  Most professional athletes are portrayed as money-driven egomaniacs, who would spit in the face of the game to make a few million.  Meche had a personal standard that he wanted to follow, and if his body wouldn't let him, he wasn't going to steal money from the team.

On the other hand, walking away from $12 million in a rough economy is pretty crazy.  Sure, Meche has made over $50 million in his career, according to Baseball Reference, but $12 million insures another few generations of wealth for the Meche family.  Perhaps Meche could collect the money, and donate the money to a worthy charity.  The possibilities are endless.

Overall, though, I respect Meche for his honesty.  If I were put in the same situation, I would sit around on my fat ass, and collect a paycheck.  I have a great deal for respect for the integrity he displayed.  Enjoy retirement Gil!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Anti-Flag is Accused of Inspiring the Tragedy in Arizona

After Jared Loughner opened fire on a crowd in Arizona, and tragically killed 6 people, and critically wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, everyone, including the media are looking for reasons why someone could commit such an atrocity.  So the media looks at every single angle possible, they interview friends of the murderer, dig up school and work history, and analyze every single aspect of the scumbags life.

As the media machine continued to turn its wheel, an interview with a former classmate of Loughner's revealed that he was a fan of Anti-Flag.  Anti-Flag is a long standing punk band, who are very outspoken against issues like government bailouts, and they support organizations such as:  Democracy Now, and Greenpeace amongst many others.

The band was brought up on local news stations in Arizona, and Alternative Press interviewed frontman Justin Sane for his reaction.  So the question that is being posed is, should musicians and entertainers be held responsible for acts of violence?

When the Columbine shootings took place in 1999, I was in 8th grade.  I was definitely not part of the in-crowd.  Those kids loved to go to dances at school, and listen to lots of hip-hop.  I much preferred the more angst-filled music, bands like the Offspring, Orgy, Korn, and of course Marilyn Manson.  Manson was one of the most controversial artists of the time, his satanic inspired music drove millions of parents absolutely crazy.  When those two nuts decided to murder their classmates, word got around that they were fans of Manson.  The media took the bait, and Manson became the scapegoat for every psychotic teenager in America.  Manson was simply an artist, who liked to push the envelope with his music.  Manson was not telling kids to buy guns and kill each other.

As time passed, the media and the general public moved on from that absurd notion.  My question is, why does the media always attack musicians?  It is like saying Tupac and Ice Cube are responsible for every gang-related murder that has taken place in Los Angeles, or Ozzy Osbourne is responsible for teenagers committing suicide.  This notion is absolutely absurd.

When examining an individual who commits such a heinous crime, they usually say the person is some kind of desolate loner.  You almost never hear of a charismatic psychopath, there is usually a very specific pattern.  Perhaps the parents are to blame.  They are the biggest influence on any of our lives, and in many instances, they help shape the people we become. 

Anyway you look at this situation, it is silly to blame Anti-Flag, or any musician for contributing to a murder.  Especially a ban who openly protests violence, and is firmly against war.  If the classmate told media members that Loughner was a Josh Groban fan, would Groban be a pariah.  The band and the murders have no correlation, and the media should just find another scapegoat.

The Legend of Blake Griffin Continues

On MLK day, Blake Griffin might have turned in his greatest performance as a professional.  Griffin scored a career-high 47 points, and 14 rebounds in a 114-107 win over the Indiana Pacers.  As Blake's game continues to improve, the Clippers are actually winning games.  Most impressive about his performance, was that Griffin was knocking jump shots.  He was draining 15 foot jumpers with consistency, and he also went 9-11 from the free throw line.

However, Griffin had a run-in with Lakers forward Lamar Odom, that made the headlines this week.  The Clippers led the Lakers by 9, with about 30 seconds in the game.  Clippers guard Randy Foye attempted a free throw, and the conflict began.  Blake Griffin put his back into Lamar Odom, attempting to gain position for a rebound.  Odom took offense to Griffin's tenacity, and shoved him.  The following events led to Griffin and Odom being ejected.  Clippers guard Baron Davis and Lakers forward Ron Artest were also ejected.  Perhaps the most interesting thing that came out of this conflict, is the quote that Lamar Odom gave after the incident.

"Maybe I overreacted, but I just feel like if you're up 9, a ram in the back at that point?  Any other time, I get it.  You play hard, you're strong, whatever, but the ram in the back (while) up 9?  I don't get it, so I'm just going to have to react," Odom said after Sunday's game.

So let me get this straight Lamar, Blake is still working his ass off until the final whistle, and you have a problem with this.  We all know that Lamar has a reputation for disappearing for stretches, so naturally, he would have a problem with a guy giving the game everything he gets.

How often do we as sports fans hear the same, tired cliche from coaches:  "We need to play a full game, and not take plays and stretches off."

In my opinion, it is remarkably refreshing that a young player like Griffin plays the game the way it should be.  Despite the incredible talent this young man possesses, he works remarkably hard, and simply doesn't take plays off.  Teams are starting to get chippy and more physical with Blake, but with the intelligence, skill and determination that he has, he will only continue his assault on post players everywhere.