Anything That Can Go Wrong 11

Part 11 – The Christmas Partyagreenerchristmastree

“That was not the way I imagined that would go,” Hal Levatine tells me on the drive back from a North Canton Christmas party.

“Yeah, I was expecting… I don’t know. A few more people,” Josh Randall says.

“I just hope Eric doesn’t think we’re a bunch of tools because we did this.”

Eric Shawn is the band’s new rhythm guitarist, hired when the band regrouped after Paul Ode’s Departure (Part 9 &  Part 10). He’s been with the group since September, but tonight was his onstage debut with the boys.

Well, that’s putting it loosely… It was his debut. There was no stage at the garage in North Canton where a friend of Bassist Matt Vance threw her Christmas party. The garage consisted of a couch, a love seat, a coffee table and a television hooked up to several video-game systems.

A few people sat at a card table at the other side of the empty space playing Magic: The Gathering and didn’t really join with the rest of the party.

“I don’t know about this Matt,” Adam Gillis said last week when the topic was approached.

“Come on, guys. It’ll get us out of our garage and we can take our music some place people will hear it.”

“I am getting pretty tired of just jamming in the garage, Adam,” Randall said.

“Yeah, it is about time to dust the cobwebs off,” Levatine agreed. “And we’re not getting a ton of offers at the moment.”

I really wish they would turn that music down.

I really wish they would turn that music down.

“Do you think we’re ready?” Shawn asked. “I’m not sure.”

“Yeah, we’ve still got to teach him some songs,” Gillis said.

“We have 45 minutes. That’ll be plenty. Look, we just go up there, set up our equipment and ROCK! That’s all there is to it. They’ll love us.”

It’s hard to tell now whether Vance was telling the truth or not. When the band members showed up at the party it turned out it was BYOB and most of the attendees were underage.

“No problem,” Vance said. “Beer run.” He sped away in the Oldsmobile of a 19 year-old with unruly facial hair.

“This is gonna be a disaster,” Gillis moaned. “These people don’t give a shit about our music. The only reason we’re here is because Matt wants to fuck that chick over there.”

I followed his finger to the Dance Dance Revolution pad and the chunky girl with the dreadlocks bouncing on it.

“She’s cute,” I said.

“Yeah, but Matt’s in the friend zone and he doesn’t realize it. He’s been trying to nail that for three years and has made no progress. I just hope he keeps it together enough that we can at least have a good show tonight. I mean, we brought all our equipment out here just for him to try and impress her. I hope that’s enough to keep him from fucking up.”

It wasn’t.

When Vance returned from the beer run he had downed a quarter of a pint of Jack Daniel’s and was quickly double fisting the Natural Lights he had bought.

“Slow down,” Shawn told him. “We have to play later.”

“Aaah, don’t rully about it.” Vance said. “I’ll be fine. I just have to warm up.”

After sitting on the couch watching the chubby redhead play DDR for 45 minutes (during which time he outpaced the other members of the band in beer consumption by a 4:1 ratio and smoked two joint and one bong) he was ready.

With the exception of Vance the band was tight. They were rocking and pounding away with a wild abandon I haven’t seen in them up to this point. The technicality exhibited by Levatine and Gillis in turning down Vance’s amp whenever he wasn’t looking was astonishing beyond belief. The band blasted through twenty minutes of material before Vance fell on his face. He played the rest of the set on his back.

Not that anyone noticed. None of the dozen or so people at the party ever paused the DDR game. Nor did the nerds leave their Magic game.

“You know what man?” Vance asked me afterward.

Matt Vance will be pissed when he wakes up. (

Matt Vance will be pissed when he wakes up.

“What man?”

“I really… I…” Then he vomited in the bushes.


Merry Christmas

I thought it would be nice to share my favorite Christmas Song with my readers. The odd thing is, I don’t think the man who wrote it was a Christian.

I think he did a good job nonetheless.


Flyleaf (2004) & Flyleaf (2005)

I doubt it will come as much of a shock to anyone when I say I’m not a big fan of Christian

Flyleaf EP (2004)

Flyleaf EP (2004)

Rock. It’s not that I’m against Christianity or have a metal head’s affection for Satan, it’s just that the genre is boring. Most Christian Rock bands to a great job of bringing the boredom and uptight attitude to an otherwise fun style of music instead of bringing joy and excitement to worship.

As such, most Christian bands make me want to renounce my faith, but I worry that hell would consist of a Casting Crowns concert that never ends.

Flyleaf is an anomaly in the Christian Rock genre (I’ve also heard them referred to as Christian Metal but that is a ridiculous genre; why sing about Jesus or anything worth singing about if you’re going to growl so no one understands a word you’re saying. But I digress).

For one thing, they’re a good band. I enjoy their music which I find to have pleasant harmonies, rhythms and energy. I can bob my head to it and feel the music pumping in me. It’s rare to hear Christian Rock made by people who can actually rock.

The other thing I enjoy about them is that I don’t feel like I’m being beaten over the head by a bible with their lyrics. The songs aren’t taken directly from scripture or hymns, but are about real life stories (Cassie, Fully Alive) or love songs (All Around Me, Red Sam).

After being impressed by them at Rock on the Range in 2009 I picked up the self titled EP for a couple of buck and really enjoyed it. The songs are raw and heavy. It’s nice to hear a band with something to say who have the words and notes to actually say it. A few months ago I purchased their debut self titled album and I was surprised by how different the songs sound compared to the EP.

Flyleaf (2005)

Flyleaf (2005)

The songs on Flyleaf are as good as they were on the EP, but they’re a lot more polished. I enjoyed the jangly guitar licks and fuzzed out bass on the EP, but here everything is much cleaner. “Fully Alive” is missing the short pre-chorus from the EP and you can tell that the band has grown and gotten a lot tighter. I still prefer the rushed and loose vibe from the EP.

That’s not to say that Flyleaf is crap. There are more songs on there. “All Around Me” is one of my favorites. That’s right, I’m man enough to say that a love song is my favorite. “So I Thought” and “There For You” are great tracks too. Plus the double tracking of the vocals works really well with Lacey Sturm’s slightly nasal voice.

The best bonus for me on the full-length album is the five acoustic versions of songs on the end. I love hearing big, loud rock songs stripped down to their bare bones so harmonies and feeling can come through without all the distortion. It also intrigues me as a songwriter who usually composes on an acoustic before taking the songs to my punk band.

If I were to recommend either to a casual listener it would definitely be the EP. I don’t think I need to recommend anything to a full blown fan because you probably already have the album. I’m just glad I have both because I’m hoping it will offset the Danzig and Cradle of Filth in my collection on Judgement Day.

Alice in Chains Isn’t the Same Anymore

alice in chains isn’t the same anymore

This search term leading to The Audible Stew bothers me more than all the threats and alice-in-chains-650-430swears that I’ve received, all the posts I’ve thought would be great and didn’t get any hits and generally more than anything since I’ve started this blog.

It’s not that I haven’t heard similar things being said. There have been plenty of discussions undermining the legitimacy of the current AIC lineup. Something about replacing the singer seems to bother people more than any other lineup change. Most bands change members numerous times through their careers, but when it’s a singer you’d think the world caved in. I wonder if the backlash was as bad for Van Halen, Black Sabbath or AC/DC. Probably not seeing as how the internet wasn’t around back then.

I guess that because Layne Staley was such an iconic frontman it’s easy to overlook the fact that some bands only have one remaining original member. Iron Maiden, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Smashing Pumpkins, Helmet, Chimaira, etc. Hell, some bands don’t have any original members, but it seems that when the frontman changes people feel that the band is no more. I don’t agree with this at all. By this logic Mad Season would have been an AIC album and Audioslave would have been Soundgarden.

And it’s not like I disagree with the statement. AIC isn’t the same anymore. They’ve changed with every album. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here isn’t the same as Black Gives Way to Blue anymore than the dog album was the same as Jar of Flies, Dirt, or Facelift. Any good band changes and grows between albums and constantly evolves. There are a few bands that I have one or two albums from, but grew bored with rather quickly because it was like the same album being repeated over and over.

It is interesting to note that the opening riff to “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” is eerily similar to “Love, Hate, Love” on Facelift. Things change, but some things stay the same.

But with the fact that Jerry Cantrell released several solo albums there’s the question of a name change. Couldn’t they just reunite and call it ‘Jerry Cantrell’? I don’t think so. Cantrell’s solo albums were no more AIC than Mad Season was. Even when he had the AIC rhythm section for a few songs on Boggy Depot it didn’t sound like Alice. The dark harmonies and tone of AIC doesn’t happen anywhere but on AIC albums. Jerry Cantrell may be the driving force, but he needs someone else to sing with to create the AIC sound.

is-alice-in-chains-metalIt may seem disrespectful to some that they’re continuing with the name Alice in Chains, especially since it was Staley’s idea. The same could be said of other bands who have lost members like Skynyrd, Queen or Metallica. But the thing of it is: The decision to continue on as AIC was made my three people who knew Layne Staley a lot better than I did. It’s not my call to make.

I hope I didn’t seem to agree with this gentleman with my review of The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Sure, there were things I didn’t like about it, but it’s still AIC. And it’s still a great album by a band that is constantly growing and evolving. Though they aren’t the same as they were, they’re still pretty fucking great.

New Division of Human Found in East Central Ohio

I usually like to leave science stuff to the experts, but I’ve recently discovered a new type of person that biologists thought didn’t exist right here in my hometown.

The Doesntus Likesimonygarfunklus or commonly ‘person who doesn’t like Simon & Garfunkel’ has been thought to exist since the mid sixties, but has never been positively identified.

Doesntus Likesimonygarfunklus in its natural habitat.

Doesntus Likesimonygarfunklus in its natural habitat.

“This is a fascinating find,” said biologist Tim Green. “We’ve known about certain tribes deep in the Amazon and Congo jungles who had never been exposed to Simon & Garfunkel, but to hear of someone who had heard them and didn’t like them… that’s just insane.”

Simon & Garfunkel along with bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doors and The Beatles were thought to be universally enjoyed among all people regardless of race, color, creed and hearing impairment.

“This opens up doors for all of science,” Green said. “What’s next? Someone who dislikes Citizen Kane or The Mona Lisa?”

Simon & Garfunkel rose to fame in the sixties with guitar driven ballads and two-part vocal harmonies. I made the discovery when commenting on an article claiming that “Bridge Over Troubled Water” eases chronic pain.

“What do you mean you don’t like Simon & Garfunkel?” I asked. I knew her taste in music was atrocious. After all, she did like my band.

“It’s garbage,” she said. “I don’t like that crap.”

“But it’s poetry.” I said.

“It’s the poetry of drugs and promiscuous sex,” she said. “Look at their eyes. They’re on the pot.”

And so the world now contains a person who never heard the sounds of silence or traveled on a bridge over troubled water. She never went to the zoo with any of her old friends or Mrs. Robinson. She’s never been homeward bound through a hazy shade of winter. And several other puns that I could come up with if I had a more extensive collection of their music instead of just a greatest hits.