About Zack

Associate Degree. Music Lover. Blogger.

Alice in Chains “Rainier Fog”


(24 Aug 2018, BMG)

I purposely waited a while before tackling the review of this album. I kept hoping it would grow on me, but I’m still not a huge fan.

There are a few good tunes on the album. My favorite is “Maybe.” It starts off with those patented harmonized vocals and carries them all the way through the track. It’s weird because they don’t really give the song a heavy metal or hard rock feel, but more of a country vibe.

It seems so strange to put so much emphasis on one word, but I love the way they say “yeah,” in the chorus to that song. It reminds me of what Layne Staley did in “Grind.”

I also really like “Never Fade” which sounds unlike anything Alice have ever done. This probably has something to do with the influence of new(ish) singer William DuVall. This is his third album with the group but one of his first major songwriting contributions. And it’s about damn time! I really enjoyed the stuff from his previous band, Comes With The Fall, and have been waiting for him to contribute more to Alice in Chains.

“So Far Under” is great also for being unique. This one is solely written by DuVall, features his lead work and starts with the best riff on the album.

The title track is another standout that drives the album along. I think it should have been the opener. I’m guessing one of the things that killed enthusiasm about this record was the lead single “The One You Know.” It’s definitely not the track I would have picked to fill that role. I honestly think I would have liked it more if I’d gotten a vinyl copy and mistakenly started with side two.

“Fly” features some interesting guitar sounds unlike anything else in the Alice canon, but feels like too much of a departure for me. “Drone” is perhaps the best example of the term ‘Doom Metal’ on the album, which is both a positive and negative for the track.

In some ways, this is sad for me. This feels like the Alice in Chains album where they cement their status as the elder statesman and spend the rest of their career putting out mediocre albums with a few gems scattered here and there. Before this, I had to buy every album they put out, but the next one I might pass on.

Maybe that has something to do with the lack of enthusiasm surrounding it. I remember being pumped up when The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here came out because I was hearing songs on the radio and watching great videos on YouTube. There really wasn’t any of that with this one. I don’t even listen to rock radio much anymore. I tend to go for the mix station.

In some ways that makes me sad. I used to love modern rock, but it just doesn’t thrill me as much as it used to. It also makes me happy to know I’m still growing and exploring new things.

Just like Alice in Chains, hard rock will always be a part of my past, but will they be a part of my future?

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A Little Disappointing


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It’s really cool that we finally have the first real pictures of a black hole, but after watching that Soundgarden video it’s a little disappointing.

Static X “Wisconsin Death Trip”


(23 March 1999, Warner Bros.)

I was surprised to see that Static-X is touring this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut, Wisconsin Death Trip. Mainly because their leader died a few years ago. I remember when it happened. It was a huge blow for the hair gel industry and fans of industrial metal.

Sure, they were lumped in with the nu metal of the late 90s/early aughts, but they seemed to have better staying power than most of their peers from that era. I still enjoy their third album, Shadow Zone, that was released long after Limp Bizkit became completely flaccid and I’d done my best to forget about Puya.

It’s somewhat strange to think of how industrial music apes the big craze of the moment and adds electronics to it. Ministry did it with thrash metal in the early 90s, NIN did it with grunge in the mid-90s and Static-X did it with nu-metal at the end of the decade.

I wasn’t sure if they would be fronted by Hologram Wayne Static or just his reanimated corpse. The truth is actually stranger than either of those scenarios.

I was going to make the argument that Static-X wasn’t really a nu metal band, but then I read the Wikipedia definition which said the genre is “heavily syncopated and based on guitar riffs”  and that’s pretty hard to argue with. They were grounded in start/stop guitar riffs and Wayne Static’s goofy growly vocals. Just because I enjoy their music doesn’t give me any right to make excuses and call them something other than what they are.

Which is somewhat horrible, but they were never nearly as bad as Crazy Town. That group is also touring, which is strange because I thought that the entire band was dead.

How to Freak Out Your Mechanic


I don’t work on cars, but I do work on machines. Something anyone who works on mechanical things hears a lot is “It’s making a funny sound.”

That doesn’t tell me much, so I tend to ask a few follow-up questions.

“Well, can you be more specific? Is it a THUNK or a SSSKKKKKRREEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeee?”

“Does it sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Flipper? Is it more The Prodigy or Chemical Brothers? Oh… it sounds like Todd Rundgren? That’s nothing to worry about.”

 

If you really want to freak a mechanic/maintenance person out, just tell us it’s making a strange sound… and it’s just like Nickelback!

Oh Shit! Hit the E-Stop! It’s about to blow!

Trump Responds to Cohen “I Know You Are, But What Am I?”


Oh yeah baby, hold still I’m almost there…

La la land, VA – After dry-humping the American flag and rambling about political opponents for two hours at CPAC, Donald Trump directly responded to his former lawyer’s claim that he is “a racist, a conman and a cheat” by saying “I know you are but what am I?” Trump then dropped the mic as if this were a sick burn against Cohen and not the defense of a four-year-old child.

He continued this line of attack late into the night when he tweeted “You know what Michael, I’m rubber and your glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you. You better be careful because I’m going to send someone to kill your family.”

Congressional Republicans are still divided over whether or not the tweet constitutes a threat.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) described his goals in the hearings as being a protector of President Trump.

“I’m going to protect the president much better than I protected those boys who were molested when I was the assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State,” said Jordan. “I’ve looked the other way too often in my life to let this convicted liar get away with bad mouthing our beloved president.”

Jordan failed to mention that Trump has made 7,645 false or misleading claims over 710 days.

“We can’t trust anything Cohen says,” said Trump. “Except the part about the ‘no collusion’ with Russia. That part we can believe.”

“Basically,” said Rep Bob Gibbs (E-OH). “we can believe anything nice he says about Trump and ignore anything bad as lies.”

How Gibbs was able to issue this statement with his head firmly lodged in Trump’s rectum is still unknown.

Trump, whose presidency can best be described as inept, has shown America and the world why he had to file for bankruptcy six times despite inheriting millions of dollars from his father.

“I really miss the old days,” said Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA). “I remember thinking George W. Bush was the devil, but I never think that about Trump. He’s too dumb and immature to be Satan.”

“And look at that face,” added House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Whenever Satan is in movies he’s always hot like Al Pacino, Gabriel Byrne or young Marlon Brando. Trump is one KFC bucket away from Island of Dr. Moreau Brando.”

Republicans spent the rest of the day huddled together in horror that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was plotting to steal their hamburgers.

Children Behave


READER WARNING: THE SUBJECT OF THIS POST IS VERY CATCHY. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Do you want to hear about an earworm I’m really fond of? Tommy James and the Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now.” I’m pretty sure the main reason I’m aware of it is that it’s been featured in film and television a few times recently, but I’m glad it has. It might be a song of questionable subject matter, as I’m pretty sure it’s about underage people exploring their sexuality or some other type of Flowers in the Attic-ness, but boy does it have a good beat. 

It even managed to make John Goodman shaking his ass stomachable in the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

 

And it’s such a great song that I even enjoy the mall-rock Tiffany cover version I just watched in The Umbrella Academy. Of course, that’s not really fair because you could put Ellen Page in a steaming dog turd and I’d probably love it.

 

So what do you think of this song? Do you love it? Or are you going to be cursing me for the next several days as it plays on repeat in your head?

A Hippy Band?


I went out with this girl last summer. I say ‘went out,’ but it was more like a friendly hang-out than a date. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to anything. This could be because of any number of reasons, but somehow I got it stuck in my mind was that she’s a bit of a hippy.

Now, I’m not trying to hate on hippies, and that isn’t an automatic deal breaker for me. I’m sure some hippies are very fine people. I agree with hippies in some areas (environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, war is bad), but there are far more things I disagree with (tye-dye, non-violence, the Grateful Dead). I was a bit interested to discover how much of a hippie she was, but never really got the chance.

Anyway, the thing that really stuck out was what made me ask: “You’re a bit of a hippy aren’t you?”

She said she was a fan of Sublime.

It wasn’t until later that evening when I popped in a Sublime Greatest Hits disc that I realized how silly it is to classify Sublime as a “hippy band.” Sure, they had a lot of laid back, peaceful songs (“What I Got,” “Doin’ Time” and “Caress Me Down”), and they played that most-reggae influenced of all genres: Ska.

But there were also a lot of songs about definitely non-hippy things like participating in riots ( “April 29, 1992”), “Date Rape,” and child prostitution (“Wrong Way”). While I know many stoners love the anthem “Smoke Two Joints” I wonder if they realize Sublime covered SoCal hardcore bands Bad Religion and the Descendents on that same album.

So what do you guys think? Is Sublime a hippy band? After thinking about it I’m convinced they’re more of a crossover band designed to infiltrate the heads of well-meaning punks and get us to cross over to the dark, flowery-powery side.

 

Looten Plunder Set to be Confirmed as EPA Chief


You’ll pay for this Captain Planet!

Washington DC – President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Looten Plunder, is expected to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Plunder, 68, is best known for his work battling Captain Planet in the early nineties. He has continued his eco-villain work at companies such as Enron, ExxonMobil Corp, Volkswagen and Kingsford. He began heading the EPA after former administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid growing scandals.

Senate Democrats have tried to raise Captain Planet to defeat his old nemesis, but they have been unable since the water ring was sold to Rob Portman (R-OH) and the heart ring was sold to Rand Paul (R-KY).

“Earth,” said Kamala Harris (D-CA)

“Fire,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

“I think I just broke wind,” said Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “Does anyone smell eggs?”

“I believe Looten Plunder is the best person to lead the EPA and will do a great job helping to clean up Lake Erie, the Ohio River and all of America’s waterways,” said Portman in a typically longwinded statement. “The vicious rumors that he once dumped toxic sludge in a river only to be stopped by a flying, blue superhero with are ridic.ulous. These rumors are sponsored by fearmongers who support government intervention into jobs-killing regulation”

Rand Paul was in the hospital after being beaten up by another of his neighbors.

Jerry Cantrell “Boggy Depot”


(7 April 1998, Columbia)

Boggy Depot is my favorite albums in the expanded Alice in Chains universe because it is the most unique. I really think this is the only album from AiC or Cantrell that doesn’t have Layne Staley on it anywhere.

I know what you’re thinking: “Staley died in 2002. He can’t be on any of the new Alice in Chains material, you fool!” but hear me out. See, Staley made a few appearances on Cantrell’s 2002 album as inspiration for the songs “Bargain Basement Howard Hughes,” “Pig Charmer” and “31/32.” Likewise, he appeared on the title track of the reunited AiC’s first album Black Gives Way To Blue. He’s not as noticeable on the more recent releases but I still hear him occasionally. It’s subtle. He appears in the harmonies and the phrasing. There are no more drug-addled demons being exorcized in the lyrics, but Staley still is and will always be a part of Alice in Chains. Much like Brian Johnson, Jason Newstead and Zakk Wylde no matter how great William DuVall proves to be he’s always going to have that shadow hanging over him.

The only song on Boggy Depot I could see working for Alice in Chains is “Jesus Hands.” It has the dark feel and guitar work that put them on the map. But even though it includes bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney, I still can’t imagine how Staley would fit into the picture. Maybe he couldn’t either and that’s why it was skipped over during sessions for the Dog Album.

Much of the songs on that album are like that. “Dickeye” and “Cut You In” are both driving hard rockers. “Breaks My Back” is very similar to something AiC would do as a ballad. But the real treat is the songs that are unique to this particular album. “Between” has the most country feel. I’m not a huge fan of Country and Western music but I do enjoy Cantrell’s take on it in “Devil By His Side,” “Keep The Light On” and “Hurt A Long Time.” Sure, none of them are going to get him inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, but it’s always nice to hear someone do something different.

My favorites are the piano-driven songs. Something about that simple lick in “Settling Down” really gets me and “Cold Piece” is a great closer. I don’t think pianos make a whole lot of appearances on Alice in Chains material so it’s always nice when they pop up.

I would highly recommend this album as something everyone should listen to. If you’re a fan of Alice in Chains it’s a neat detour into another side of their primary songwriter. And if you’re not a fan of Alice in Chains this will give you a softer version of what you’re missing.