The Best (Or Worst) Description of a Band Ever


Life of AgonyAs a writer I’m interested in the written word. I’ve been an avid reader since I was young. I read Stephen King’s The Stand while I was still in grammar school. I remember wanting to be an archaeologist at one point, but that dream fell by the wayside pretty quickly and I started writing. I’ve been writing most of my life, whether in a journal, a short story or this blog. Even if I never make any money from it, I’m not lying when I say I’m a writer.

I’m hypersensitive to the way words go together as well as punctuation. One of my biggest pet peeves is using punctuation correctly. If you use an exclamation point in a text with me I assume you’re excited. If you end the message with an ellipsis I assume you have more to say. I don’t mean to be a Grammar Nazi, but I feel it’s essential to use the tools you have to communicate effectively, especially when using a medium where you cannot use voice inflection and body language. So that’s why IT’S VERY important to CORRectly Use punctuation and GRAMMAR to convey intentions!!!!

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” So whenever I come upon a really great way of describing something it gives me the greatest feeling in the world. I’ve noticed a few people like the “Smoke on the Water Principle (SWP).” I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to notice that, but I managed to give it a simple, clever name that’s memorable (much like the main riff to “Smoke on the Water”).

I’ve also coined terms that haven’t really stuck like “Mask Metal” (the sub-genre of heavy metal where the masks are more important than the music (Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Lordi)). I was also really proud of the term “slut pop,” but I managed to piss at least one person off with that. That describes music like Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus where a girl’s figure and risque behavior is more important than the music. I can’t remember if I didn’t consider that the term would be offensive or if I considered it and just didn’t care.

Type O NegativeIt’s always fun to try to perfectly describe a band’s sound. It’s a challenge I engage in on a near weekly basis. I remember a long time ago I was having a few beers and listening to some tunes with a friend and we put on Life of Agony. Have you ever listened to Life of Agony? Wikipedia describes them as an alternative metal band. I’ve also heard them described as New York hardcore, but neither of these descriptions really hits the nail on the head.

We were trying to come up with a great description for Life of Agony. I wanted to compare them to Soundgarden. This probably has something to do with the video for “This Time” and the singer’s haircut. Yes, both bands were popular in the early-to-mid nineties, but the similarities end there. LoA has more of a stripped down punk vibe while Soundgarden were a Zepplinesque riff machine.

We kept brainstorming, but nothing was quite right. Then we got it. I can’t remember which one of us said it, but we found the perfect sentence to describe this band.

“Life of Agony sounds like Type O Negative would if they didn’t suck.”

That sent both of us into laughing fits and hysterics. Not only does it perfectly sum up the sound of the band, but it’s also hilarious. It’s important to note that both of us are fans of Type O Negative. I really enjoy Type O Negative. But lets face it they are a little goofy. However, if you take away the goth, the keyboards, the enormous penis, the song about hair dye and insert the original drummer: you get Life of Agony.

 

Awards, Awards, Awards!


When I received a Liebster Award a few weeks ago I though, “Cool. This is something nice and fun. But it probably won’t happen again.”

But then it did happen again. And again. And AGAIN!

It’s all because of this damn keepsmealive blog. Oh wait, one of the things you’re supposed to do to accept the award is thank the person who nominated you. Whoops! Pardon my sarcasm, a very heartfelt thanks guys. These will look great on my mantle between the barb of that stingray who got me and several of my daughters baby dolls.

So without further ado:

(OK, so they didn’t specifically nominate me for the Treasure Trove Award, but at the end of the post they nominate everyone so I’m going to claim one. I need all the self-esteem I can get at this moment.)

WELCOME TO THE INAUGURAL TREASURE TROVE AWARD!

treasure trove awardWhat is the Treasure Trove Award?

I’ve created the Treasure Trove Award for bloggers who share treasures.  Treasures can take the form of:  art; community participation and support; creative writing; entertainment; friendship; health and fitness; humor; information; knowledge and insight; life lessons; music; photography; skills and instructions…anything that adds value and is a treasure in the blogosphere.

The Treasure Trove Award is for blogosphere treasures.

What are the rules for the Treasure Trove Award?

The rules are that there are no rules.

You can post the Treasure Trove Award image to your blog — or not.  

You can give the award to other bloggers — or not.

Enjoy!

versatile blogger awardVersatile Blogger Award

As it usually goes with these things, there are rules/steps to follow (copied from the PR site):

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and pass it on.
  2. Share the award on your blog
  3. Share random facts about yourself
  4. Tag on 10 bloggers and tell them that they are nominated.

What is the Mystery Blogger Award, you ask?

The Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts.  Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates.  They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get.  This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.

~ The award was created by Okoto Enigma.

mystery-bloggerThe Rules or Guidelines for the Mystery Blogger Award:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post. “Donald Trump Can Suck A Bag of Dicks

So I’m just going to combine the Versatile and Mystery awards into one and only do this once. That’s allowed right?

3 Things about Myself:

  1. I have visited all of the eastern seaboard states from New York south except Delaware and Georgia (and what’s the point of going to Delaware anyway).
  2. I’m the first person in my family to have graduated college (Associate’s Degree).
  3. Sometimes when people ask about my childhood I start reciting the lyrics to Reba McEntire’s “Fancy” just to mess with them.

The Questions I Was Asked:

  1. What’s your favourite album of all time? – Temple of the Dog
  2. Can you describe yourself in one word? No
  3. Can you name one food you could never give up? Pizza
  4. Why did you start blogging? – I couldn’t find a paying job as a writer so I started blogging to keep myself busy and hone my chops.
  5. Weird Question: What is your least favourite word? Exactly. I hate that word because my name is Zack and it sounds so much like my name that whenever I hear it I automatically think someone is trying to get my attention.

The Questions I’m Asking: 

  1. Do you have a pet?
  2. What’s the way you usually describe yourself?
  3. What’s your favorite time of year?
  4. Do you play an instrument?
  5. Weird Question: What’s the grossest food you’ve ever eaten?

The Nominees: (I’m going to try to look outside the box for this one so I’m not just passing stuff around to the same ten bloggers.)

Bitter Ben from Ben’s Bitter Blog

Mammaflybox

Hard Rock Daddy

Deep in the Music

GraceLess Land

The Hard Times

The Sonic Sensory

Every Number One

Punk Rock Reviews

The Shameful Sheep

The Valley Report

 

Alright, that wasn’t so bad. Three awards and I only had to answer 5 questions and spew some random facts. Thanks again guys!

Bush “Razorblade Suitcase”


Bush "Razorblade Suitcase"(19 Nov 1996, Trauma/Interscope)

When I checked the list of 20-year-old albums earlier this year, Bush’s sophomore album Razorblade Suitcase seemed like a great one to do a Platinum Anniversary Albums review on. I remember really liking it when it came out and it’s remained in my collection for most of those two decades. It was produced by Steve Albini, who recorded hundreds of underground punk albums as well as Nirvana’s In Utero. But after I revisited the album the idea seemed… well… not as great.

I don’t want to give the impression that Razorblade Suitcase is a bad album. It’s not bad by any means. It’s just not exceptionally good.

I’m guessing most people still remember the singles. “Swallowed” was a reasonably big hit. It’s not a bad tune. I really like the first verse being just guitar and vocals before the chorus kicks in to rock out, but when the second verse is stripped down to bass and vocals it comes off as jarring. It strikes me as a song that could have been great with a little more consistency.

I remember “Mouth” from the film An American Werewolf in Paris. (or was it London? I never actually saw the movie.) Unfortunately, that was a remixed version of the track. On this album it’s stripped down to it’s bare bones and quite underwhelming after hearing the other version. Do you remember the single “Cold Contagious”? You’re forgiven if you don’t. I honestly can’t think of anything to say about it one way or another.

My favorite track on the album was always “Greedy Fly.” Whether it was because of the awesome video or the twinkling guitar lines I can’t say. The funny thing is that for as much as I dislike the everything-but-the-bass-cutting-out effect in “Swallowed,” I love it here. The stop/start quality of that heavy chorus riff gets me every time. This is one of those songs I can listen to over and over and never get sick of.

 

The rest of the album is predominantly forgettable. This isn’t like Sixteen Stone where you’re going to want to play it over and over again because the songs get stuck in your head. It’s more like you’ll want to play it several times because you can’t remember if you liked it. The opener “Personal Holloway” is a good rocker to kick things off, but the momentum doesn’t really continue. “Straight No Chaser” and “Bonedriven” try to recapture the magic of “Glycerine” with just Gavin Rossdale accompanied by a cello, but neither really comes close.

Sure, there’s great design and a lot of potential here, but this is the definition of a sophomore slump. I give them credit for branching out, taking risks and trying something new (and this album sold way more copies than anything I’ve ever put out); but this is one of those unhappy cases where artistic integrity didn’t pay off.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving


It can be hard to come up with a song for some of these holidays year after year. I think I’ve already shared all of the songs I could about the good side of Thanksgiving. Adam Sandler’s “The Thanksgiving Song” and Alanis Morrisette’s “Thank U” were both good tracks to share on this day.

This song isn’t one that will give you a warm fuzzy feeling, but hopefully it will make you thankful for what you have.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Liebster Award


Liebster AwardA few weeks ago I received a Liebster Award from the guys over at Stuff and That. I thought that was pretty awesome. I’ve never won a writing award before. Thanks a lot guys!

Then I realized that I actually had to do stuff to accept the award. I had to answer questions, come up with a few questions of my own and then send it on to eleven other people. At first I was a little disappointed, but I have to say it’s been pretty fun.

Plus it’s always nice to have an extra post to do.

The Rules:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you and answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.

2. Nominate 11 different people and give them 11 questions to answer.

Here are my answers:

  1. Pitch Your Dream Movie. Actors, directors, plot, whatever. (special thanks to filmsCinefor coming up with that one) – I’d probably want to make my own movie. I’ve written one screenplay about a guy who thinks he might be a werewolf, but he’s not sure. It would be awesome if I could get David Fincher to direct.
  2. Most/Least Favourite Movie – Favorite is probably the Shawshank Redemption. Least favorite is Requiem for a Dream.
  3. Most/Least Favourite Game – Lately I’ve been getting really into Free Cell. My least favorite game is probably dating.
  4. Most/Least Favourite Band – It’s hard to pick a favorite because I like so many different things. Historically I’ve always said either Alice in Chains or Nine Inch Nails, but recently the Descendents are becoming my favorite.
  5. How, or why, did you get into blogging? And what are your favourite aspects of it? I couldn’t get a job as a writer anywhere else. I’ve always loved writing. I’d love to be a world famous novelist, but that’s about as realistic a goal as being a rock star. So, I blog. The best part is getting feedback from other writers and feeling like I’m part of a community.
  6. Last crime you committed? – Well, I do have driving privileges for work and to get groceries, etc. but I abuse the hell out of them. And since I wasn’t caught for the last major crime I committed I’ll just say driving without a license.
  7. Dream supergroup?

  1. Favourite book?Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  2. Favourite hobbies beside blogging and doing what you blog about? – Reading. Watching Movies. Working Out.
  3.  Favourite thing about Stuff And That? (give us praise) – Very in depth reviews.
  4. Least favourite thing about Stuff And That? (tell us we’re crap) – Length. I’m a big fan of posts under 1000 words.

My Questions for you:

  1. Did you go to college? What was your major?
  2. Have you ever been arrested? For What?
  3. Favorite and Least Favorite Band?
  4. Biggest Celebrity Crush?
  5. What is the airborne velocity of an unladen swallow?
  6. When was the last time you went to the hospital? For what?
  7. Who’s your favorite superhero?
  8. What’s your day job?
  9. What’s your dream job?
  10. Where would you most like to visit?
  11. If you had the chance and the time machine, would you kill baby Hitler?
  12. What’s the first thing you would do if you became independently wealthy?

And the nominees are:

Mike Ladano

1537

Stephen1001

sourgirlohio

keepsmealive

J. at Resurrection Songs

Heavy Metal OVERLOAD

Vinyl CONNECTION

Boppin’s Blog

Tangled Up In Music

Metal Odyssey

I hope you all have as much fun with this as I did. Thanks for writing great blogs and and giving me stuff to read everyday. I hope we keep this community going for at least another four years!

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)


 

leonard-cohenI feel really bad about the death of Leonard Cohen. Not just because we’ve lost one of the most original artists to ever grace popular music or because his style, words or voice will never be duplicated, but because I had the idea to write this post a few days before his death. It may have been because I recently watched the 30 Rock episode where Alec Baldwin gets the idea to prerecord a celebrity studded special honoring the victims of a yet-to-have-happened tragedy. Or it may have something to do with a preoccupation with the morbid.

Either way, my bad. I really feel like I jinxed us with this one.

I’m 98.537% sure that the first time I heard the name Leonard Cohen was in the Nirvana song “Pennyroyal Tea.” But it didn’t really interest me a whole helluva lot. It didn’t have the same interesting backstory as “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” or the violent torture in Mayberry of “Floyd the Barber.” So really it was just a name in a Nirvana song. Nothing any more special than Alvin Tostig or Levon.

But then I read a Guitar World interview with Lou Reed. I can’t remember the exact context of what they were talking about, but Reed said something along the lines of “Leonard Cohen had one of the greatest opening lines ever: ‘Give me crack and anal sex.'” The interviewer corrected him in saying that’s actually the beginning of the second verse to “The Future” and then Reed pointed out that a line like that will really get your attention.

Well, it sure managed to get mine. But this was in the late nineties, long before Spotify, YouTube or the Play Store. I knew that there was this song with a really fucked up line in it, but I had no idea where to find it. Would they carry something like that at the library in Amish country? I didn’t think so.

So that brings us back to me being a rather morbid individual. In high school I didn’t participate in many after school activities. Like any clinically depressed teenager I would get off the bus, smoke some pot, watch a movie a movie and usually fall asleep. One day something went wrong and I managed to stay awake until the end credits of one of my favorite flicks, Natural Born Killers. (I’m surprised that movie isn’t a cult classic along the lines of Fight Club or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You’d think for a society that relishes vilifying the media as much as ours it would be a modern classic.) Anyway, the movie ended and the credits started to roll. I hear a nice organ riff and some clean guitar under a gravelly voice. And then I hear the line “Give me crack and anal sex.”

So my discovery of Leonard Cohen was more of a result of Lou Reed and Oliver Stone than Kurt Cobain, but I made it there eventually. I remember it worried the shit out of my mom when I bought a copy of The Future. I suppose it would worry any parent if their child took as much interest as I did in the movie Natural Born Killers, but give me a break; it’s a great flick.

leonard cohenOf course, I didn’t hear his biggest hit until a few years later. I want to say it was 2007 and I was seeing a girl who took me down to the Baptist Church on the South Side of town. I usually prefer organ music during a worship service, but this church had a contemporary band and something about that song really stood out. Maybe it was the fact that it just doesn’t seem like a song you’d hear in church. Sure, the chorus has a great melody of “Hallelujah,” but if you look at the verses… is it really a christian song.

And maybe that’s the most beautiful thing about Leonard Cohen. His songs are filled with beautiful instrumentation and some of the most poetic lyrics I’ve ever heard, but most of the time I have no idea what exactly he was trying to say.