Wonderland Syndrome “A Space Pirate Christmas”

Wonderland Syndrome – A Space Pirate ChristmasWonderland Syndrome - A Space Pirate Christmas - cover


While the Christmas album is a standard of most country and easy listening artists, it isn’t something you hear from metal bands very often. Sure, both John and Paul had Christmas songs and I remember David Bowie Singing “The Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby. But aside from Twisted Sister, Psychostick and a few others not many metal bands have ever tried the genre.


Which made me very curious when a Reverbnation email invited me to download A Space Pirate Christmas from Oakland, CA’s Wonderland Syndrome. I had no idea what to expect. I’d listened to the band at some point and obviously enjoyed what I heard because I was a fan on Reverbnation. The thing was: IT WAS A CHRISTMAS ALBUM and they were releasing it in July. I wasn’t sure if that was the dumbest or smartest thing I’ve ever seen a band do.


As musicians at least, they’re not simple. “Carol of the Bells,” my personal favorite Christmas carol, is done with a death metal vehemence that rivals The Black Dahlia Murder. “Winter Wonderland” takes the tempo down a few beats per minute, but still keeps the viscous vocals and delivers a nice solo. “The Island of Misfit Toys” isn’t a typical Christmas carol and for that reason sounds more like it could be a regular staple for the group. Really it’s not much different than any other metal song with lyrics about societal outcasts and pariahs. The EP ends with “Christmas Time is Here,” a song I’m not familiar with. The tune is carried by a Primus-esq bass line and drives the group to a chaotic and clamoring end.


I really enjoyed A SPACE PIRATE CHRISTMAS and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it again in the near future. It’s better than anything I’ll be hearing on the radio from Thanksgiving to New Years (aside from “Merry Xmas (War is Over)), but it’s hard for me to look at it as anything more than a novelty. That being said it does make for an ingenious piece of marketing as I’m now curious to hear more from the group and hope that I’ll enjoy their other stuff just as much.

Download “A Space Pirate Christmas” for free here.

Your welcome.


Anything That Can Go Wrong 7

Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 7images (2)


I’m not sure if the others in the room are having as hard a time dealing with the horrible applicants for the vacancy in Ockym’s Razyr as I am. If they are they’re hiding it well. The band are patiently running through songs with potential band mates and guitarist Hal Levatine even occasionally stops to show a difficult riff. The girls appear as bored as they always do at practice.

I’m the only one who seems to miss departed bass player Matt Vance.

“Well boys, who do we get to play bass now?” someone asked immediately after Vance’s firing.

“We could ask Tyler.”

“No, he’s pretty busy with Deceit. I think he’s working at Walmart too. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for side projects.”

“What’s Amanda been up to? It would be cool to have a chick bass player.”

“I saw her at the library a while ago. I don’t think she plays anymore.”

“What was she doing at the library?”


“What were you doing at the library? You can’t read.”

“I was using the internet.”

“Is she still hot?”

“Yeah, she’s still pretty hot.”

“Well who else is there?”

“We could ask Tomsin. I heard Syringe broke up.”

“Absolutely not! That guy is the biggest fucking asshole on the scene.”

“But he’s willing to play bass. Not many other people are.”

“If you get him to play bass you’ll need to find another guitarist.”

“Why don’t one of you switch to bass?”

“I’m not switching.”

“Bass is a step down. I like playing guitar.”

“Well, we need a bass player.”

“We don’t need one. This Moment of Grief didn’t have a bass player.”

“There must be someone out there. What about Bill?”

“We could try him. I don’t think he’s in a band.”

“Do you want to try to put up some flyers at Tsantis’ and Roslyn’s”

“Yeah, we should probably try Craig’s List too.”

“Well lets see what turns up.”

And here we are with what turned up. Bass players are generally regarded as the lowest of the low in the grand scheme of things. By playing an instrument with only four strings and not worrying about chords they choose this stereotype. The only way to avoid it is to learn to play the guitar.

"Let's just play the song one more time. I'll get it, I promise."

“Let’s just play the song one more time. I’ll get it, I promise.”

‘Girlpant Jenkins’ was the first victim to fall prey to the whims of this band. He was brought in and showed the riff to their song “Time Standing Still” and then it did. He couldn’t grasp the lines to the simplest verse-chorus-verse song in the band’s catalog and after a few hours of him cracking his knuckles and saying “just one more run through” he was dismissed.

The next fool to try his luck was Herman Jenkins. He showed up in decidedly more masculine wear and proceeded to tell everyone about his connections in the music industry. Skinny from Mushroomhead, Todd from Mobile Deathcamp, Trapt and the drummer for Flyleaf.

“I’m close personal friends with all of them. I could get us some shows.”

“Everyone can get shows with Mushroomhead. We’ve played with them three or four times already.”

“Yeah, but I could get us on a tour.”

“Let’s just see how you can play.”

He did a worse job than Girlpant Jenkins and then talked to Drummer Josh Randall about how he wasn’t sure of the singer. Maybe they should get a new one.

I’m not a part of the decision making process, but I don’t think he’ll be receiving a callback.

Harold Busch was the most promising prospect. Not only did he manage to learn several songs in the time it took Jenkins and Jackson to leave their horrible impressions, he also proved to be a likable guy. Singer Adam Gillis immediately took to him when he opened the session with, “Look guys I’m not looking do dick around anymore. I’m serious about my music and I only want to play with other guys that are serious.”

Apparently his cover band wasn’t going anywhere other than the Front Street Tavern and occasionally Bud & Tooties so he was looking to trade up.

“I like the paycheck I get from them, but I’m getting sick of playing other people’s music. I want to play my music, you know?”

“I know exactly what you mean, man.”

“I want to do this kind of thing for a living. I’m tired of temporary jobs in factories.”

“If you want to do this for a living why don’t you move to LA instead of hanging out with these assholes in my garage!” Vanessa Hill

If only they could find someone this talented.

If only they could find someone this talented.

asks. Things with her and Randall haven’t been going the greatest. She’s becoming increasingly impatient with his use her garage in pursuit of his passion and the fact that she said this while taking out the trash herself is not going to help his cause.

“I think we should finish our beers and head out guys,” he says. “Hurry up.”

“Dave,” Gillis says. “Same time next week.”

PBR Garage Door Fest

943137_4507474098795_1900518153_nPBR Garage Door Fest 2013


The Artwork Of, Me Versus I, The Said So, ShiSho, Thee Rockafeller Sheiks, Young Republicans, Gunt Punchers, Yet To Define


Buzzbin Art & Music Shop – Canton, OH


6 July 2013


I’m sorry to say I wasn’t very impressed with the PBR Garage Door Fest. I’m not blaming any of the organizers, promoters or artists, but the weather really sucked. I was hopping for a flea market, a beer tent and hopefully a hot dog or some other assorted poor dietary choice, but instead was greeted by an empty street and a few hipsters ducking for cover.


A lot has changed with the Buzzbin shop since I last visited (Bob on Blonde and Most Beautiful Losers at Buzzbin Shop, Apr. 1). It’s gone from being a record store hosting the occasional live band to strictly a live venue. This makes for more of a professional atmosphere. It’s hard to have a mosh pit among stacks of vinyl and racks of t-shirts. It’s nice to see the store growing and having a community that supports it. I like that they still have a ton of artwork on the walls and they haven’t traded the original feel of the shop. My biggest complaint about the place is that every time I would check out a flyer seeing when a band was playing I discovered that it was two weeks ago.


When we arrived ShiSho were onstage entertaining us with some acoustic guitar/accordion driven folk. I was a bit surprised to see a coffee house group playing, but I can’t say I was disappointed. Songs about the Articles of Confederation, Policemen and Ohio Man elicited a few claps and a few more chuckles. It’s nice to see young people who pay attention in class using their knowledge to funnel their creative pursuits. I just hope that they don’t lose all their intelligence after years of hard drinking and end up like the rest of us morons saying “The Articles of What…”


After their set we ventured across the parking lot to 5th street and the Frankenstein Records store, but we made it back in time to

Eustace Tilley is not a member of Thee Rockefeller Sheiks

Eustace Tilley is not a member of Thee Rockefeller Sheiks

catch Thee Rockefeller Sheiks. These guys are from Indianapolis and play some good down and dirty garage punk. I was disappointed that they weren’t dressed in Jazz Age type suits like the dude from the cover of The New Yorker, but I can’t fault them for their tasty guitar riffs coupled with the tasteful lead work. I may be mistaken but I swear I heard a little bit of surf rock in their songs also. I don’t know how that could be though, there aren’t any waves in Indiana.


Young Republicans were a far cry from TRS, but a good band nonetheless. They sound checked to Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” and I think one of their guitars probably cost more than TRS whole setup. They still jammed out some good punk, although they did it with a metal tone coming through their amps and a bit more flashy lead work and some nice moving bass lines.


The Gunt Punchers took to the stage next and started playing the fastest punk rock this side of…well I don’t really listed to speed punk so I’m not sure what they were faster than, but it was fast. I’m not sure if this has to do with a new drummer or the fact that they didn’t seem all that drunk. Talking do them I didn’t notice many slurred words or droopy eyelids, but looks can be deceiving. My friend liked them a lot too, but in the warm store with the vibrations from the bass amp massaging him in his booth the poor guy passed out. I’m not sure how he did that with the volume, but I’m guessing it has something to do with working the midnight shift.


IMG_20130706_235453_888I was excited to see Yet To Define. I’d read about them in Buzzbin a while ago and thought they sounded cool.Then I heard a three-song EP and wasn’t impressed at all. So I was curious to see what they sounded like live. I found them to be incredibly abrasive, but with a solid bass anchor. I think that’s a good thing. While the guitars were shrieking and squealing and throats were being rubbed raw I was astounded how the bottom end held everything together nicely. And also a bit bewildered by the fact that I could barely hear the drums. It was pretty cool. I would have loved to stay for more than two songs, but it was after someones bedtime.


I really can’t complain about the day. I was disappointed by the lack of people selling pointless crap that I wouldn’t have bought anyway, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be selling shit for no one to buy in the rain either. And at least it wasn’t a wasted trip from New Philadelphia and we got to see some good live music. Once I returned to my apartment behind the bar and the smokers on the back patio seemed quiet for the first time on a Saturday I night I figured I got my moneys worth. Even if the show was free.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy: Gunt Punchers CD Release or The Said So “Leggo Your Ego”

How Country Are You?

The Death of the Steel GuitarPedalSteelGuitarRedAccent


“How Country Are You”


I understand that popular music moves in waves and every several years something new comes along and is the hot thing for the moment. It’s just the way things go.


We’ve had punk, disco, reggae, grunge, electronic, girl groups, boy bands and everything in between. I’m as OK with this as I am with the fact that Aerosmith was cutting edge in the 70’s but now are considered mainstream and old.


What really bothers me about the current influx of country music into popular music is how bastardized the genre has become. Unlike other trends, popular tastes didn’t simply shift to country and industry followed. Country switched to a more ‘poppy’ sound and is nearly unrecognizable. “Boys Round Here” by Blake Shelton contains a few decent slide licks but is not much different from any other pop song. Hunter Hayes could easily be Justin Beiber with a little banjo mixed in.


I must be country because I'm blond. Those are the rules.

I must be country because I’m blond. Those are the rules.

Don’t even get me started on Taylor Swift. Sure, her early stuff had some nice acoustics and heartbreak lyrics, but now she’s just as pop as Katy Perry or Lady Gaga.


The biggest problem I have is that there is no steel guitar. I love the steel guitar and now I never hear it. All I get on the radio is a bunch of AC/DC ripoff riffs and hillbillies singing about bonfires and drunken driving.


I suppose it’s good that the new country artist always have lyrics telling us how country they are. Were it not for this we’d have no way to discern them from any other pop artists.


I thought it would be fun to see how some of my favorite musicians rate on the scale of “How Country”


I’m a huge fan of the closest thing England has ever produced to a country musician and a few weeks ago I did a post on him and his songwriting partner called The Greatest Power Duo. People often forget Tumbleweed Connection was filled with songs about the old west, the Civil War and old soldiers. “Tiny Dancer” featured some very beautiful steel guitar. Yes, Elton John is more country than a pipe bomb at a gay pride rally.


He's so country he's missing a toe!

He’s so country he’s missing a toe!

One of my favorite steel guitar scenes comes in Ministry’s video for “Jesus Built My Hotrod” where Al Jourgenson is playing one. I’m not sure if that’s what’s really playing on the record but I still have to give Uncle Al some props. He may be the father of industrial-thrash but he’s more country than a Vietnam vet cooking meth in a mobile home.


I love the instrumental records of Rob Zombie guitarist John 5. On the song “Behind the Nut Love” he does some weird guitar licks trying to mimic the steel guitar on his custom Telecaster. His awesome instrumental renditions of “Sugar Foot Rag” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” convince me that John 5 is more country than a Norman Rockwell painting of a Klan meeting.


Let’s not forget the country-rock band Dr Hook and The Medicine Show. They were famous for their songs “Cover of the Rolling Stone” and “Sylvia’s Mother” written by Shel Silverstein who also wrote Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” Dr. Hook is more country

I'm the motherfucker that named you Sue!

I’m the motherfucker that named you Sue!

than alcoholism.


I love Social Distortions songs of heartbreak, sadness and hard times. I’m sure a lot of people would call this SoCal band ‘rockabilly’ or ‘punk.’ but I think Social D is more country than a dead hooker lying face down in the gutter.


There’s a plethora of musicians out there that have country leanings and play good, truthful music without trying to jump on the bandwagon of what’s popular. I enjoy Volbeat, Hank III and Alannah Myles; all of whom are more country than incest.


Kinda makes me wonder dear reader: How Country are you?



To hear the greatest steel guitar lick EVER check out this link:



Anything That Can Go Wrong 6

Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 6Donald Trump Announces Scottish Golf course Plans




The best way to judge the maturity level of people is to see them when they are fired. Some take it in stride and realize, “If I hadn’t spent so many late nights at the strip club I probably wouldn’t have been late so often.” Some people beg for their jobs or another chance. Some cry. Some swear and threaten. Some return in a few days with firearms.


We’re wondering how Matt Vance is going to take the news that he’s being ‘let go’ from Ockym’s Razyr, a band that he co-founded 11 years ago.


“He’ll probably be OK with it,” drummer Josh Randall tells me. “It’s not like he hasn’t quit or been fired before.”


“Yeah,” Paul Ode adds. “He’s always back and forth. He’s not reliable at all.”


The descision was made a little over a few days ago. Most of the guys in the band have been ready to give Matt his walking papers, but Adam Gillis was reluctant to see him go.


“Everyone else was saying things like: ‘his timing sucks, he’s a worthless drunk, we can do better’ and all sorts of other stuff, but he’s always been my best friend in the band and I never had the heart to fire him.”


It was at a show they did last week where Vance took exception to some of the joke Gillis made at his expence over the microphone that sealed his fate. While Vance usually takes the punches lying down, this night he straddled up to his own mic and repeated “shut up” until Gillis quieted.


“I guess I just feel the his attitude has gotten unbearable and I can’t work with him anymore,” Gillis says.


Firings in local bands are a common thing. Most guys quit before it happens. It just comes down to how some people can’t get along well with others coupled with a need for drama in our lives. It’s very similar to the way one child may be ostracized in the sandbox for a day or two simply to create a bit more excitement for everyone. The sad thing is that most people never mature further than that.


People are fired for all sorts of things: sleeping with eachothers girlfriends, showing up late, not wearing the right shoes, because they said the wrong thing on facebook. Or sometimes no reason at all. Such is the sandbox politics local music. Occasionally bands will decline shows to avoid other bands they don’t want to play with because they are “doody heads.”


I knew a band where the drummer declared that the next show would be his final one with the group. Then the singer and he got into an argument via text message so the drummer said fuck it and quit right there. It’s just the way it is. People come and go. Some play in several bands, some play in one and never again. It’s just too bad that we don’t have any adults now to tell us to play nice.


When Vance finally shows up for practice Gillis doesn’t have the balls to do the firing. He sits in the garage with his back turned while Hal Levatine breaks the news to him. Vance seems to take it well. There are no tears from him. He clenches his jaw, waves goodbye and drives off.


“Well boys, who do we get to play bass now?”


If you liked this post you may also enjoy: Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 5 or Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 3



Your gonna fire me from the band! I don't think so! I think your fired!!!

Your gonna fire me from the band! I don’t think so! I think your fired!!!