Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Have Dream Theater and Queensryche Buried the Hatchet?

No NYC dates for Progressive Nation just yet, which makes me sad, but I was very interested to note that Queensryche will be joining the tour for one night only in Washington, DC. It's not because I'm jealous, per se, because I'm putting myself of what very well might be an ordeal of a Queensryche-only evening in May, but...well...those two bands have a history.

Dream Theater geek that I am, I opted to buy the biography the band authorized a few years ago and learned what might be termed a metric fuckton about the group's history: how they idolized Queensryche from the beginning, had a singer that sounded a bit like them in one of the band's VERY early incarnations, were excited to tour with them in 2002...and how that tour turned to acrimony off stage because of ego size or douchery or whatever causes people to dislike each other irrationally. Most of Dream Theater had something to say about with varying degrees of frankness in the book, but the outcome was that they really didn't like Queensryche very much and weren't afraid to say so. And now they're doing a show together. Either they've buried the hatchet or this is some sort of reconciliation created through labels Roadrunner and Rhino through their parent label Warner Brothers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Worst of the Unwashed

Funny thing about this video: there was a guy running around this show sporting a homeless person level of stink impressive to enough far surpass the usual levels of body odor usually present in large, sweaty crowds. Seth had the pleasure of encountering this member of the unwashed masses in the group of people right around where the camera that took this video was positioned. Watching this video, I keep wondering if the person holding the camera could smell things, too...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Billy Corgan Gets On The 21st Century Distribution Bandwagon

If I were cynical, I would say that the news that Billy Corgan is a.) planning on releasing a new Smashing Pumpkins album with 40+ tracks and b.) planning on creating a subscription-based service for fans to get exclusive updates are ploys to milk the audience for anything he can get as the Pumpkins' popularity continues to wane. However, I'm excited about the concept, because it looks like Billy gets that the Internet changes the game for distribution the same way that Radiohead, Trent Reznor, and Metallica all seem to: he's creating services that appeal to his core fan base. Am I going to pay $40 for 25 minutes a week of a glorified "making of" documentary, particularly just so I can get it before the whole thing comes out after the release? No, but I'm willing to bet that those who rank the Smashing Pumpkins first among all bands would pay for that kind of access, particularly since many of those people are old enough that they probably have some income to spare.

The release strategy is an interesting idea, too: Corgan thinks he'll do it in dribs and drabs over a two year period, instead of one, unmanageable heaping helping of material. Like the subscription, it seems like a much better way to keep the fans satiated and engaged. Why not just drop the word "album" from the process entirely, though? Such a loose collection of songs does not need that applied term of centralization. Now someone just needs to tell Bob Lefsetz.

Oh, just give up Manowar............

A concept album based on Thor???? You are officially out of ideas. When Ross the Boss told me he helped write every good song they ever had including Brothers of Metal I was a bit skeptical, but everything else he said panned out and he said he had the proof. Also he is still awesome, while Manowar make it harder to love them each and every day. I almost found the Metal Inquisition article somewhat endearing. But come on dudes. If you are following up a really mediocre record about Greek Gods with a concept album about Thor you are done.

Many great bands have broken up at their peak. Now I understand why.

Oh well, let's just remember the good times with this amazing live version of Hail and Kill....

Friday, April 17, 2009

On Music Pirates and Business Paradigms

Gary Holt's comments about downloading killing the music business - combined with the announcement of the Pirate Bay verdict - got me thinking a bit about the contradiction that Gary has in his thinking. Specifically, after talking for several paragraphs about how digital copying is the problem, he finishes with:
"When it comes to live bootlegs or rarities and stuff like that I'm all for people going and doing all the trading that they want," [Gary] continues.
He then tries to back off the trap he just walked into by differentiating between tape trading and the downloading of albums -
"People ask me how I compare tape trading to downloading — some people have actually said, 'Oh, it's kind of the same thing, isn't it?' And I said, 'No, it's not.' A tape trader loved the band. He had to physically copy that tape. He had to go down to the post office, address it, send it to his pen-pal friend across the world at his own expense and time, so he put love and effort into that. Now you just click a mouse and, 'Ah, I don't like this album, I'll delete it.' Those guys were helping the band by spreading the word.
- but he doesn't realize he's already made the point: we live in a world where downloading the music is spreading the word, where the old paradigm of locking down the product by trapping it on a piece of media like a tape or CD is dead and gone. As Bob Lefsetz never tires of pointing out, the guy or gal who downloads your album and keeps it is a fan who - with the right inducement - can pay you back for that one download in spades by going to your concerts, buying your merchandise, ponying up for special fans-only offers, and so forth. Personal examples aren't great proof of concept, but still: I can't tell you how many bands I've seen over the past three years multiple times because of a recommendation from a friend, supplemented by an album download.

The people who download and delete, or the ones who never get around to paying anything? They weren't on board to begin with and they certainly aren't going to thank you for charging them for an experience they ultimately did not want to have. Besides: wouldn't you rather have a crowd of people at your show who want to see you?

Finally, even if you're not comfortable with giving away product for free - which is fine, because if nothing else you may very well need that revenue to get your merchandise made and your tour off the ground - if you think people are going to gravitate back to the complete out-of-whack pricing models the CD represents just because you hit them with a lawsuit you're as out of touch as the dying newspapers. People have tasted the future in music as much as they have with movies, pictures, and the written word, and the result is the same: we enjoy having as much choice as possible as often as possible. The people who figure out how to make money and make the art they want to make in this new world will be the ones who survive - and no amount of bitching will change that. Downloading isn't killing the music's reinventing it.

Turtlehead's Motorhead Cover

Three thoughts about this cover:
  1. Maybe I've become a casualty of the loudness wars, but the recording sounds fantastic. There's a certain energy that a good rock band generates playing live that typically doesn't make it to recordings, but that energy is very much present here.
  2. Never thought about how obvious was that Motorhead is fronted by a singer playing another instrument until I watched Bobby Blitz hang out on the sidelines for most of the recording.
  3. Figures that Mike Portnoy would be involved in a cover where the band keeps playing one section faster and faster just for fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mustaine and His Cryptic Writings

Seth and I were speculating last night on the "squashing a feud" news that Dave Mustaine hinted at the other day, wondering if it might mean - since the openers are still swirling in rumor and speculation - a spot on the fall Metallica tour or a tour with Slayer. Since Anthrax and Alice in Chains are both active at this point, we thought the later could very well turn into a revisit of Clash of the Titans (pending a suspension of egos, of course). Of course, now I re-read Mustaine's post and see it's a "potential" feud getting put to rest, so the entire speculation might be moot, but what do you all think? Would you want to see either one of these tours happen? Which would you prefer?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Opeth in a Wooden Box

Good to see recession pricing hasn't hit the collectors market: for a cool $171, you can get part 1 of Opeth: The Wooden Box, a collectors box with:
  • Copies of Orchid, Morningrise, and My Arms Your Hearse on vinyl,
  • A pretty kick-ass looking shirt,
  • An Opeth stencil (for all of your tagging needs),
  • And alternate album artwork of some sort,
all in a wooden box. Good stuff, but the collection seems a little thin for the cost. Perhaps the idea (or at least the pricing) was inspired by the success of the Josh Freese distribution package?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: Heaven and Hell "The Devil You Know"

The devil you know, indeed! The long awaited new album from Black Sabbath with Dio is exactly what you expect in a very satisfying way. You are getting an awesome slice of pizza, a great cheeseburger. Not an exotic new take on an old favorite, but something you love done extremely well.

The first thing you will notice is the stellar production. The guitars are crisp and placed really well within the stereo field. Long gone are the early Sabbath days where a single guitar track could make your ears feel lopsided when listening in headphones. This record screams its way to you with thumping drums, hyper present bass and those great stereo tracked guitars.

However the crisp digital production is the last nod to anything remotely modern. This album exists in a time warp that seems unaware of not only any music that came after Sabbath, but that the power of classic Sabbath spawned several genres of its own, like Doom and Stoner Metal. The Devil You Know could have been released in 1986 or 1993. Don't expect the masters to come back and show the kids how to further the Sabbath sound. This is staunchly classic Sabbath for better or worse.

So what did the dream team of Iommi, Butler and Dio bless us with? A very solid 10 track effort of mid-paced rockers which would all fit right at home on Dehumanizer. This album doesn't have a "Neon Nights" or a "Turn on the Night." The closest you get is track 7, "Eating the Cannibals" which would have made an amazing opener. It kicks a ton of ass and I look forward to seeing them play it live. For the rest of the album, from the thumping "Bible Black" (which I do like a lot more in context than when I heard it as a single) to the tasty hooks of "Double the Pain," you can feel the proverbial hand of doom holding this album together.

"Follow the Tears" is probably the best recorded example this lineup has made of their gothic metal hybrid. The tritone is in full swing as are the orchestral synths, spooky atmospheres and nonsensical Dio lyrics. And if sung by anyone else the chorus vocal would be horribly emo, not completely bad ass: "If you want to know where I've been hiding all these years/follow the tears."

In summary, this is the album everyone has been waiting for. You are not getting a revolution, barely even an evolution. But that is not the point now is it? Black Sabbath has made a new record. Iommi's riffs are killer, Dio's voice is killer, and Butler holds it all together like a champion. Consider yourself blessed by comfort food from the depths of hell.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

John Mayer needs to read this blog

Because he didn't get the memo. From US Weekly here is the "hot pic" of him hanging out with Anvil's singer.

Thanks for passing this along Kristin!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Memo to the world: Anvil suck

I'm psyched Anvil had a movie made about the fact that they have never broken through. I am more psyched that VH1 Classic thinks it is good enough to grab distribution rights and will run it on cable until the end of time. That is great for Anvil. Do you know who it is not great for? All of us!

Anvil suck. Let's not forget that there is a reason time forgot this band. Oh, some oldster is either going to leave a comment here or send me an email explaining to me how great they are. This person is going to be wrong. Their music has not aged well, it is rotting like room temperature chicken. Even Winger's first record has matured and aged into a decent wine.

But the world finally has Anvil mania. They got added to the Judas Priest/Whitesnake tour for Christsakes! They are playing the fucking Gramercy Theater!

I saw them back in October at BAM playing for free in the cafe as part of the film screening. Spoiler Alert: They sucked. Has the whole world gone mad? If we are all going to selectively pretend a shitty band is now awesome, why can't it be the Killer Dwarfs?

First watch Anvil at the height of their powers performing their only sorta hit "Metal on Metal."

And because it is Friday, some Killer Dwarfs! Keep the Spirit Alive!!!!!

Casual Fridays: Billy Idol covering Van Halen

Billy Idol from last week doing a cover of Ain't Talkin Bout Love with a bunch of Schnooks like Kerri Kelli. This is about as casual as Fridays get without me posting Black N Blue clips.