The Ultimate Driving Mixtape*


I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with my mental state. I’m off in the head.

For the past month and a half, my girlfriend has been in the hospital and I’ve managed to visit her three or four times a week. This is a bit of an inconvenience as she’s about an hour drive away**.

So last week I took a vacation day… to drive two hours in the other direction and take an introduction to solar energy systems and design class in the southern part of the state. It wasn’t until I was cruising back on the highway that I realized this isn’t something most people do. In fact, most people would probably say I’m in desperate need of a psychiatrist.

And after I finish installing these solar panels and save on my electric bill I’ll make an appointment.

The insane part is that I actually enjoy the drive. Southern Ohio/Northern West Virginia is filled with beautiful scenery. It was a gorgeous day, and I got to enjoy it in my own way.

The best part is that my new*^ car has one of those newfangled ‘radio’ contraptions so I was able to listen to music the whole way. When I needed a break from the Creedence CD I brought along I was able to scan through the stations and usually land on something descent that made time pass a little quicker.

This got me thinking “what would be on the ultimate driving playlist?” And because one of my hobbies is blogging I had to turn it into something.

Granted, most of this is low hanging fruit, but give me a break; I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately.


Tom Cochran “Life is a Highway”

The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”

The Carpenters “Superstar”

 

Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

AC/DC “Highway to Hell”

Elton John “Tiny Dancer”

 

 

Meat Loaf “Bat Out Of Hell”

Heart “Barracuda”

 

Jimi Hendrix “All Along The Watchtower”

Red Hot Chili Peppers “Soul 2 Squeeze”

Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

So I know all of your typing fingers are burning up right now to tell me which I missed. And that’s great! I purposely left enough space on this virtual disc for a little feedback. That’s what comments are for.

Have at ‘er!


 

* I’m sure someone has already done this post in a different way, but now it’s my turn!

**But she’s totally worth it.

*^Actually, it’s a year older than my previous vehicle, but the owner took much better care of it so it’s like a new car.

 

Trump Promises “Big, Beautiful Scandal”


In the interest of keeping my political rants / satire pieces separate from the music posts I’ve started another blog. If you enjoy this stuff, give the page a like and a follow. If not, just sit back and I’ll get to doing more album reviews soon.

This may not pan out and I might go back to just the one blog, but I wanted to give it a try.

The Suppository

Washington- President Trump promised voters a “big, beautiful scandal” that will be announced by the end of the week.

“It will be, I believe, the biggest scandal in American history,” said Trump. “Bigger than Sally Hemmings, Lincoln’s sexual preference or Calvin Coolidge’s Cocker Spaniel put together. It will be bigger than Watergate. It will be so big that after this we’ll have a new suffix to replace -gate on political scandals.”

President Trump has been facing serious backlash for his firing of FBI Director James Comeyand spilling government secrets to Russian officials. He hopes this new revelation will take the focus off other scandals.

“It’s going to be so yuge that people at my rallies (which are the biggest rallies ever held, bigger than Stalin’s or Castro’s rallies) will begin yelling ‘Lock him up!'” bragged the obviously confused chief executive. “Even sycophants like Paul Ryan and Bob Gibbs are going…

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The A.N.C. @ The Cleveland Agora


ANC in Cleveland 17/7/201617 July 2016

Agora Theater & Ballroom; Cleveland, OH

Sunless Sky, Two Dead Roses, Garblejunk, Otep, Suicide Machines, Helmet, Green Jelly, Ministry, Next to None

When I heard the Republican National Convention was going to be held in Cleveland, my first thought was that there was going to be an awesome punk rock show going on somewhere in town at the same time.

I was half right. The A.N.C. wan’t a punk show, but it was fucking awesome.

Me with Vermin Supreme

Me with Vermin Supreme

I made it to the Mistake on the Lake a few hours before the show to join a march to shut down Trump and the RNC. It’s both good and bad that this was a peaceful protest. Good because I didn’t get hurt and bad because it doesn’t make for a very good story. The most exciting part was that I got a selfie with presidential candidate Vermin Supreme.

Then we hoofed it from 18th street all the way back to 50th in time to catch the first notes of the evening. I wished we would have stayed a little longer. Sunless Sky were a good band, but not really my thing. They had a sound like an updated Judas Priest.* It was good enough to get my head bobbing and their singer had an awesome set of pipes, but I was hoping for some incendiary political commentary.

Things didn’t really start to heat up until Garblejunk took the stage. Unlike when I saw them at Scio Showcase a few years ago they didn’t sound Garble-y or Junky. I was somewhat disappointed, but their acoustic metal came through the PA crisp and clear. A good sound coupled with good energy made for an enjoyable set. The best part was looking at the crowd and seeing the looks of confusion… followed quickly by smiles.

The Suicide Machines

The Suicide Machines

One of the main reasons I bought the ticket was to see Otep. I saw her perform at Ozzfest in 2004 and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Sadly, her performance Sunday was about the same length as at Ozzfest. They rocked their asses off for the half-hour they had and I enjoyed every minute of it, but I would have loved to have heard more than five songs from them.

While it was an awesome show with a great eclectic mix of artists it would have been nice to have had more time with a few of them. I also didn’t care much for having to bounce back and forth between the theater and the ballroom, but I suppose having both stages going was the only way to fit all the bands into 6 hours. Still, it was a little much.

After Otep I stepped into the smaller room and found myself immediately bored by the Suicide Machines. It was such awful noise that I took a minute to check my Facebook. Then they broke into the catchy “War Profiteering Is Killing Us All” and I realized they were a hardcore band and supposed to be awful noise. From that moment I was hooked. I’m not a big fan of the clean guitars of ska, but in a live setting it is pretty enjoyable. And I think I was the only person in the room to cheer when the singer asked if there were any factory or steelworkers in the audience. It was the kind of political rabble rousing I paid my hard earned money to see.

Helmet

Helmet

Unfortunately, I missed the end of their set in order to get a good spot for Helmet. Helmet are dinosaurs. They started in the 90s and Page Hamilton is only two years younger than Al Jourgenson, which means he was born in the neolithic era when bands had to carve their instruments out of rocks. They’re also dinosaurs in the sense that they produce fucking monstrous sounds. You can say “It’s a shame I didn’t get to see them back in the day,” but I’m not sure how they could have been any better in 1996 than they are in 2016.** Then after they were done I felt like I’d been trampled by a herd of brontosauruses. (This concludes the prehistoric-comparison paragraph of this post.)

I wasn’t very impressed with Green Jelly, but I suppose that is somewhat to be expected. When you spend 30 years touring as a joke band and you only have one hit you’re bound to disappoint a lot of people. I was outside smoking when they did “Three Little Pigs” so I only caught the end. I did catch “Anarchy in Bedrock” but it wasn’t the same. By the time their singer climbed onto a ladder to sing “Puff the Magic Dragon” I was bored. I managed to find a chair and waited for Ministry to hit the stage.

Ministry

Ministry

MC Jello Biafra wasn’t quite as cool as I’d hoped for. I liked his political rants; though I don’t agree with everything he said. There wasn’t enough time for him to get his point across and he mainly just introduced the bands. I would have paid just as much money to go to an even that was just him, Al Jourgenson and Otep giving speeches, but I think a few other fans just wanted the music. Surprisingly, there were a few Trump fans in the building too. I wonder if they know they paid money to watch a refugee and a lesbian perform.

Ministry is a perennially awesome band. This was the third time I’ve seen them and though I haven’t cared too much for their last few albums it may have been my favorite performance. I loved their opener “Hail To His Majesty.” It seemed like a new song written just to mock Trump, but it turns out it’s on their most recent album From Beer To Eternity. They played a few songs from Rio Grande Blood, which is my favorite of their recent albums, but things didn’t get totally awesome until they hit the one-two punch of “N.W.O.” and “Just One Fix.” The best thing was that they’ve updated them up a little so it wasn’t the same performance I’ve already seen twice before.

Ministry

Ministry

I was shocked to hear them break into “Thieves” and “Stigmata.” I’ve never heard those songs live. I had to hand my buddy the Otep CD I’d bought so I could hop into the pit for the latter. When they left the stage and the lights didn’t come on I wondered how they could top that, but they did “Psalm 69,” “So What” and “Khyber Pass” as an encore. They wrapped up with DEVO’s “Gates of Steel.”

From there the show deteriorated to the point where it was just a commercial for Surgical Meth Machine, Al Jourgenson’s new project. The giant projector continued to play videos with some dancier music in the background. I was about to head out when I saw Uncle Al and guitarist Sin Quirin pop around the side of the stage. I managed to make my way over and get a handshake from both of them. I’m pretty sure that was the highlight of my night.

For some reason there was another band playing after Ministry, but I didn’t stay to check them out. I had been on my feet for 8 hours and still had a long drive home. I was ready to leave and I even called in sick the next day to get a little extra rest.

It was all worth it.

 

*Before you take this as an insult let me point out that I am a fan of Judas Priest. If I wished to insult you I would have compared you to Iron Maiden, who for some reason I’ve never gotten into.

**I ran into the drummer later on and made a comment about his Local H t-shirt. He told me they’ll be on tour with that band in the fall so they may be featured in another post this year.

I’m Not Dead


 

Seriously, I’m still around.

After my absence during most of the month of April I meant to start posting more regularly during the month of May. But how does that old saying go? The best laid plans of mice and men often go array.

During the week from the 14th – 21st I was on vacation with my sister and her family. Vacation isn’t a great time for writing blogs, but the weather wasn’t agreeable for laying on the beach anyway so I thought I’d give it a go. I was still debating on whether or not to write one when I caught the stingray.

This is the wrong way to pick up a stingray.

This is the wrong way to pick up a stingray.

I love to go fishing on vacations. I live in a landlocked part of the world so the chance to cast a line into the ocean is always a treat for me. Unfortunately, my moronic Yankee ass didn’t realize the correct way to pick up a stingray is by it’s tail… with pliers.

This is why.

This is why.

So that put a bit of a damper on writing for a few days. I still enjoyed the aquarium, Jamestown and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, but I didn’t do a whole lot more fishing.

And no, I didn’t get any super powers.

Then on the way home my car broke down in Hagerstown, Maryland. That would have been the perfect time to do a little bit of blog writing. But alas, my heart wasn’t in it. When you’re 300 miles from home and not sure if or when you’re going to make it back it makes for a pretty stressful day. I had hoped to get back into the swing of things quickly, but I’ve spent the last week taking long naps and catching up on Game of Thrones.

So please excuse my absence. Hopefully you’ve noticed I’ve still been liking your posts and occasionally commenting, but I’m hoping to have a few new posts for you in the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy.

The Best Drummers


drum-2I’m not a huge fan of the “Name Four Musicians to Form Your Dream Super Group” game. I usually just rattle off the members of Alice in Chains or Tool. Sometimes it’s fun to pick a trio or quintet and add or subtract a member, but that was never my game.

I do really enjoy “Best of…” lists though. And I thought it would be a good idea to do some for this blog. That’s not because I’m running out of ideas or anything. I swear I’m not. I’ve got tons of ideas. Make sure you check in next week when I do this with Bass Players.

 

Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion, Suicidal Tendencies) – Wackerman lands on this list not only because of his awesome chops and stamina, but also for his great last name. It’s like his ancestors knew that someday one of their brood would become the drummer for a great punk band so they picked the coolest surname they could think of.

Frank Beard (ZZ Top) – Yet again, here is a man who’s name is as great as his ability to keep a beat. He gets bonus points for being the guy without a beard but having the name beard. God, will that ever get old?

Jimmy Chamberlain (The Smashing Pumpkins) – The best of the pumpkins if you want my opinion. And you must or you wouldn’t be reading this.

sexy drum machineMax Weinberg (E Street Band, Meat Loaf, Max Weinberg 7) – I had to add someone to make this list ten names. He was the most obvious choice.

A Drum Machine (Too Many To Name) – I was in a band with one of these for a while and I have a ton of praise for these guys. He was always on time (both for and during practice), never got too drunk to play, never had girlfriend drama and never threatened to quit. Aside from his lack of stage presence and sleeping with my old lady he was perfect.

Tommy Ramone/Marky Ramone (The Ramones) – I’m not sure if the trophy should go to Tommy for inventing the Ramones’ drum beat or to Marky for perfecting it.

Raymond Herrera (Fear Factory) – I’ll just let his feet do the talking:

 

Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander (Primus) – Both he and Larry LaLonde are pure geniuses just for being able to work with Les Claypool.

Sean Kinney (Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell) – Do you know anyone else who could come up with those great intros to “Angry Chair” and “No Excuses”? I don’t.

Neil Peart (Rush) – I’m honestly not a huge fan of Rush. I like them, but I can’t say I love them. Still, Neil deserves a spot on this list.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Probot, Scream) – I read him saying in an interview once that he is completely overrated as a drummer. And that may be true. He isn’t flashy, over the top or as machine gun fast as some other guys. But he has been very prolific as a timekeeper and has a knack for playing beats that accentuate the song without overpowering it. Sorry dude, you may be the best drummer ever.

GWAR @ The Agora


GWAR Agora 11/8/20158 November 2015

The Agora Theater; Cleveland, OH

Demons Within, Solipsist, Battlecross, GWAR

There were two reasons I felt this show was a must-see: 1) I needed to see how the band had weathered the passing of longtime vocalist/front man, Oderus Urungus and 2) GWAR fucking rocks and I was sure it would take more of an effort for them to put on a shitty show than it would for them to give a great performance. I wasn’t sure what to expect without Oderus, he seemed to be the glue that held everyone together. All I really wanted was some blood, gore, celebrity dismemberment and fun. I did not leave disappointed.

The opening acts had several things working against them. For one, I’m not a huge fan of death/black/speed metal. I realize now that there may be a speed limit to my musical tastes. Anything faster than 120 BPM sounds like mush to my ears. As always there are exceptions to this rule, but speed isn’t really something that impresses me much. The other thing working against all of these talented, hardworking musicians is that they were opening for GWAR! I don’t want to see you wankers! Get off the stage so GWAR can come on!

Demons Within were a last minute addition to replace the cancelled Born of Osiris. I think they may have been the fastest band of the night. It wasn’t really music you could bang your head to, but more like music to have a seizure to. The did have the best lead guitar acrobatics of any local band I’ve ever seen.

I swear, Richard O'Brien is the bass player for Battlecross.

I swear, Richard O’Brien is the bass player for Battlecross.

Solipsist is another local band that is brutally metal as fuck. Listening to them was like getting hit in the head with a sack of rocks. Something strange about heavy-speed metal is that the more I listen to it, the more I understand and appreciate it; and their set closer was by far their best song.

Battlecross are another group that break my BPM speed limit, but they manage to put some pretty awesome grooves into their music. It’s fast as hell, but it has a nice beat and you can dance to it. They get bonus points for having Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show playing bass for them. I wondered what happened to that guy.

Then is was time to put away the appetizers and move on to the main course. A brief intro introduced us to ‘The new and improved GWAR,’ two guys in costumes doing a dance version of ‘Sick of You.’ They only made it to the breakdown before the real GWAR entered and slaughtered them to “Crush, Kill, Destroy.”

Now, I had planned on staying toward the back of the theater and watching from a comfortable, dry spot. I’ve “seen” GWAR twice before on the Sounds of the Underground tours, but I was always so close to the stage that I was constantly getting sprayed in the face with spew and could barely hear any of the songs. This time I wanted to actually watch the performance. I even wore a new shirt and my leather jacket to dissuade me from traveling up front. This all went out the door when they started “Saddam A Go-Go.” I rushed up front and hopped in the pit. By the end of the show it looked like I had egg yolk all over my face and I was very, very pleased.

 

The best part was that the performance was like a play. They played a lot tunes from their catalog and also performed as actors. The set-up came when their manager tells them that the internet is saying bad things about them. He tells them that they need to kill the internet it they want more crack. So they visit several sites (SpewTube, Kinder (like tinder but for child molesters), and Instagram (where they buy several grams of crack instantly)) and then kill the people associated with these sites. After proclaiming their mastery and defeating their foe, Balsac gave a warm, moving speech about how we could now enjoy life and no longer had to serve our digital overlord that had been enslaving us. Or something like that, I was thinking about what I was going to write in this blog.

I've seen a lot of bands dedicate albums to the memories of fallen musicians, but these guys names a star after their friend. What a bunch of saps!

I’ve seen a lot of bands dedicate albums to fallen musicians, but these guys named a star after their friend. What a bunch of saps!

They very rarely broke the fourth wall. The only time I can remember them doing that was to lead us in a chant for “the best rock and roll singer to walk this or any other planet” O-DER-US. You know, for a bunch of intergalactic warriors who make their living slaughtering humans for entertainment, GWAR are some sentimental fucks.

There were quite a few song that I didn’t recognize. I’m sure some may have been new and others might have come from albums I’m not that familiar with, but the set was great. “Babyraper,” “Meat Sandwich” and “I, Bonesnapper” all made the cut. Hillary Clinton and Kanye West emerged only to be slaughtered during “Salamanizer” and they closed the set with “Sick of You.” My only complaint was the omission of anything from America Must Be Destroyed. I can understand they were focusing on songs that Blothar could sing well, (seeing as how he is very different from Oderus) and can understand excluding something like “Have You Seen Me?”, but I’ve really been digging on “The Road Behind” lately and loved the parts Blothar sang (as Beefcake) back in the day.

Photo by Jon Lichtenberg. Click image for more.

Photo by Jon Lichtenberg. Click image for more.

I’m still digesting everything I saw on Sunday, but I know I didn’t see the death throes of GWAR. Maybe I just say this because I’m such a huge fan and think they’re the best band in the world at what they do, but I’m pretty sure those who are writing them off are going to end up eating their words. Just like critics of AC/DC and Alice in Chains. The good news is that if you haven’t seen GWAR yet in your lifetime it’s still not too late.

 

Coal Chamber & Fear Factory @ the Agora


11270704_10153269105956061_8145256622501936446_o16 August 2015

the Agora Theater; Cleveland, OH

Madlife, Saint Ridley, Devil You Know, Fear Factory, Coal Chamber

I don’t listen to heavy metal like I used to, but I find it’s really difficult to let go of the bands I listened to in high school. So when I saw a chance to see two of my favorites from yesteryear (and for only $20) I jumped at the chance. This is how I ended up jamming to sci-fi metal and horror metal last Sunday night when I should have been in bed resting for work on Monday.

A long Burger King line and last minute bowel movement made me just a little late to the show. I only caught the last song from Madlife, which was disappointing. Judging from my Spotify research they were the opening act I was most interested in seeing. They had a sound similar to Fear Factory, but mixed with nu-metal. Not anything I’m going to run out and buy, but something that sparked my interest.

Saint Ridley

Saint Ridley

Saint Ridley was a good heavy metal band. Unfortunately they were a typical heavy metal band. I didn’t really hear anything to differentiate them from hordes of other bands vying for my attention. They played a great set and managed to keep my attention, but this is the kind of stuff I would have been into 10 years ago.

Devil You Know

Devil You Know

I can’t say that I care for Devil You Know any more than I did for singer Howard Jones’ previous band, Killswitch Engage. I’m not sure what it was that turned me off from metalcore, but I never really cared for KsE. And DYK sounds very similar (though noticeably heavier). It hurts me to say that because aside from being a fellow Ohioan, Jones comes off as a really nice, funny guy. I also have to give them props on being killer musicians (I really dug the bassist Ryan Wombacher’s backup vocals), but it’s just not my cup of tea.

But all was right with the world after the lights dimmed and Fear Factory took the stage. I couldn’t help but feel a little scared as they broke into their buzz-saw guitar riffage and the mosh pit threatened to engulf the whole floor area.

(I was somewhat disappointed that the balcony section wasn’t opened. I’m a bit older now so I appreciate being able to sit down while watching a band, even if they are one of the heaviest in the known universe. Plus I’ve had a few harrowing experienced on the floor of the Agora Theater. When Primus played “Too Many Puppies” at Tour de Fromage in 2003 I thought I was going to get crushed to death and Ministry’s C-U-LaTour in 2008 resulted in several stitches on my forehead and years of Harry Potter jokes. (That Ministry show also featured both Fear Factory’s vocalist Burton C. Bell and bassist Tony Campos.))

But still, I was pumped to see Fear Factory. The last time I saw them was in 2004 and aside from Bell, it was a completely different band.* I was a little disappointed to not be seeing Raymond Herrera’s drumming again, but Mike Heller proved to be a very talented replacement. The last time I saw them I wasn’t very familiar with their material, but I’ve listened to them quite a bit over the past 11 years so I was able to sing along with “Edgecrusher” and “Replica.” I’m pleased to say I resisted the urge to hop into the pit during “Demanufacture” and only caught one elbow to the face from standing too close to the edge.

My biggest bitch of the evening is that FF only played a 50 minute set. I was thinking that they could have been the headliners. Until Coal Chamber took the stage.

Coal Chamber Cleveland Agora 8/16/2015I’ve hear Coal Chamber slammed a few times on sites like Metalsucks for being part of the nu-metal scene, but they’ve aged really well. I find their simplistic three chord metal songs catchy and driving. Plus they’ve definitely inspired a new wave of musicians. They’re the band that every nu-metal cover band has to cover, like a 2000’s AC/DC. I found a great spot just stage left of the barrier for the beginning of their set. You could feel the tension rising as guitarist Meegs Rascon played the opening lick to “Loco” and as soon as Dez Fafara sang “Pull” the crowd went nuts. I wanted to move around to get a better look at the pit, but I didn’t have to move very far. Little mini-pits kept popping up all around me like a whack-a-mole. One minute the guy next to you is a normal run-of-the-mill metalhead and the next minute he’s bouncing Coal Chamber Cleveland Agora 8/16/2015around like a three-year-old who just chugged a Red Bull. It was awesome! Within 5 songs they covered all my favorites with “Loco,” “Big Truck,” “Fiend,” and “Rowboat.” I didn’t care what they played after that. I was surprised that they didn’t play more off the new record, but I can’t complain because I knew most of the set, which helped keep me to singing along.

Perhaps the best part, and something that led me to crack up a few times, was how Rascon would spit straight up in the air and catch it in his mouth. Gross, but hilarious.

Bitch number 2 has to do with how the crowd immediately dispersed after “Sway.” Haven’t any of these people been to a show before? You stand around and yell really loud until they come back out and play another song or two.

Really though, it was the best show I’ve been to in a long time. I have to give props to the staff and roadies for their quick set changes. And though I’m not a fan of all the bands, they all gave really great performances.

I know there are only a few more shows left on the tour, but if you get a chance- get to one! You wont regret it… well, maybe you will if you get in the pit.

 

*2004 FF featured Bell, guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers, founding drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist Byron Stroud (formerly of Strapping Young Lad) 2015 FF features Bell, founding guitarist Dino Cazeres, bassist Tony Campos (Static X, Ministry) and drummer Mike Heller.