Friday, May 30, 2008

The Boxes That Time (And Martin) Forgot

Still have some work to do at the other house (the rental) today and possibly this weekend but we're almost there. Of course, there is still work here to do but I do see the end of the tunnel. Just finished reviewing the new album by Man Raze (Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, his former Girl bandmate bassist Simon Laffey and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook) and can't get some of the songs out of my head. The disc comes out on June 3rd but I've been given permission to feature it on the show on Saturday. I'd love to call it an exclusive debut but I won't push it. We are supposed to also do a special Bret Michaels week soon where we will give away copies of his new Rock My World album (one on the show and one in the newsletter.)

I took yesterday off work to go through some things in the garage at the rental. Found some pretty hilarious things. Many photos, old notes, letters, awards, clay pottery and cassette tapes. The notes are interesting because most of them came from Belinda, a girl that I was friends with in high school, that she would write during class. We are talking about 60 or so that were just sitting in a box somewhere. It's amazing how oblivious I was to the interest level of women around me when I was a teen. The photos are great. Definitely plan to post some of them. I found a better version of my prom photos and.... a photo of my former band Fak-shen. I might try to track down something to convert some of the audio from the tapes so you can have an idea of what the sound was like. There are also some unlabelled tapes that I need to go through. Tanya asked me about a decade ago if I still had a tape of her friend's band (which I swore that I gave back to her to give them.) I need to go through those to confirm it.

Enough babbling but I didn't want to let you think that I dropped off the face of the earth. Been working out with Wii Fit each morning. Doing really well with it and I've canceled my Athletic Club membership. (The buffet last night didn't help... but it was a special occasion.) Oh, btw... it's our two month anniversary. Please tell me, do people count anniversary months like baby's ages? 20 month anniversary, anyone? Hope you are all doing well!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Man Raze - Surreal

Man Raze was created when Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen met up with his former Girl bandmate Simon Laffy in 2004 and mentioned some songs he'd been working on. Phil then bumped into Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and ensnared him into the project. They released their first single, "Skin Crawl," in late 2005 and saw it make the top 10 on the U.K. Rock Singles chart. They gave away their next single "Turn It Up" as a free download. Work on the album (at the Dublin home studio of Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott) has now birthed their debut album Surreal.

"This is the age of experience..." The opening lines of the first track, "This Is," gets to the point right away. These are music veterans that know what they are doing and all they require is for you to sit back and enjoy the ride. The songs are crisp, sharp and don't linger longer than necessary. The rhythm section is flawless, the guitars blaze and the vocals by Simon and Phil are passionate. Influences touching on ska, rock, blues, pop and garage abound without sounding like unabashed tributes. That can be heard on the opener which subtly evokes the Foo Fighters, "Turn It Up" has Def Leppard echoes and "Runnin' Me Up" feels like 311 covering the Police. Brilliant tracks surface shortly after like the driving "Every Second Of Everyday," the electric "Can't Find My Own Way," the scorching "Skin Crawl," the pleading "Low" and the anthematic "Halo" which are all single-worthy.

Surreal is a very appropriate album title. First impressions are always important. If there were one negative thing that could be said about the disc is that it is front-loaded with 3 tracks that make one wonder where it is heading and if the band have a sound of their own. That gets resolved quickly on the following song and the album really soars from there. Repeated listenings do lessen that early effect and make it more enjoyable. In fact, I believe it could be looked at as them shattering all preconceived expectations early so they can get to business. That aside, Surreal does answer the prayers of those fearing rock music's slow death. You can find Man Raze's tire marks among those on the roadkill that was that rock rumor. This creative and versatile album is sure to satisfy.

4 out of 5

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Renewed Interest In Reno

Remember that week that I was renting a U-Haul to do some moving? Well, a few days earlier, I stopped by to help Tracy and Jason with loading up their stuff as they move to Reno. I really can't count on one hand the friends that I've had the longest. It could be that I'm a busy-body, a recluse, self-centered or completely inept at sustaining life-long friendships. There are some exceptions (some that are reading this right now.)

Tracy is the longest female friendship that I've retained on that previously-mentioned hand count. We were roommates for some time and saw each other through some rather bad moments... which I now consider growing pains. We've both changed immensely since then. I do consider her my second sister. Every year, I'm more and more proud of her accomplishments and she is one of the greatest examples of what self-determination and educational pursuit can achieve. I give a lot of credit to her husband Jason as they are terrific team.

Anyhow, I wanted to take a moment to post this photo up here and share a few of my friends with you. Then again, I know they read the blog here and there (so it'll really get Tray teary-eyed if she catches it.) I know that I'm not the most attentive, visible or communicative of friends but you are always in my heart and thoughts. Their daughter Sonja (and her soon to be born sibling) couldn't do better when it comes to parents. See that smile on Sonja's face in the photo above? I don't travel often but add that to a list of new reasons for a few visits to Reno.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We Wii

As many people may know, I have been avoiding console games for most of my life. (Dating back to the Atari 2600 and 800.) There is just something wrong with having an entire box become obsolete. I say this because I was big into the online role-playing games for awhile. I would leave work early just to come home and play Dark Age Of Camelot. Most of the weekend would disappear as well. Anyhow, I have always welcomed a game onto my computer more than buying 'the latest' system.

I do have to put a little of the blame on Lloyd and Teri for letting us play with their Wii one night when we were over for our purchase. Kerry absolutely loved the games and interaction. Wouldn't you know that when all our wedding gifts were added up that we had $250 in Best Buy gift cards (enough to get the Wii.) She was hopping around the house singing/chanting: "We're getting a Wii! We're getting a Wii!" So, it is done.

I've decided that I'll be canceling my gym membership and putting the money aside from that towards some of the interactive games they have. It is the first system that I've seen where you can get an aerobic workout in by playing some of the games or taking some of their physical tests. With that in mind, we pre-ordered Wii Fit (I'm putting the YouTube video of the commercial below). I think there is a better chance that I will go to the living room than to the gym. It also looks fun. A little expensive at around $90 but if it keeps the family entertained and slightly more active... it's a winner.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ibuprofen Sunday

Today is the big move of items from the house and 'the rental' to storage. This coordinated effort has some problems already but we'll see if we can pull it off. First we pick up the U-Haul at 8am. Then we put the entertainment center from the house in it. We then come back to the house and wait for reinforcements (Greg and Kerry's nephew Anthony.) We then head to 'the rental' and load up a very old and heavy player piano that belonged to my great grandfather on my mother's side (the Indian reservation in North Dakota.) The issue with that is we have 3 men to lift it... usually takes more but maybe I can snare another somewhere. Anyhow, that goes to Mom's house. We come back to the rental, load up, and take some things to donate to charity. Lastly, we come back to the rental and grab all the stuff going into storage (sectional, tables, speakers, DJ equipment, CD collection... etc.)

A lot of work and I think that typing it out helped solidify it in my mind. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday and Cinco de Mayo!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Van Morrison - Keep It Simple

Grammy award-winning Northern Irish vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Van Morrison has returned with Keep It Simple, his follow-up to 2006's Pay The Devil. What can a critically-lauded performer hope to achieve with his new 11-track self-produced disc of his own compositions?

The answer to that question is simply perfection. The songs here are stripped down yet vibrant and emotional. The disc opens with the bluesy (with hints of gospel) jam, "How Can A Poor Boy." The song hardly prepares you for the other tracks but allows one to see his versatility as a songsmith. That can be best seen in the form of "School Of Hard Knocks" which boasts an unforced rhythm and delivery reminiscent of a Schoolhouse Rocks episode... our favorite song on the disc. A close second is "Don't Go To Nightclubs Anymore" which is hard to shake out of your head. Beautiful instrumental separation and layering only enhance his lyricism here. "Behind The Ritual" is a great character development piece. It's actually hard to find a song out of place here that should have been omitted... leaving me to believe there are more gems waiting to be released.

The album title pretty much sums it up. Keep it simple! Van Morrison has done that by creating uncomplicated pieces that feel like a part of the songbook of life. I can only hope that radio gives the album plenty of air-time to awaken a deeper music appreciation in the public. Not simple but simply beautiful.

4.5 of 5