Archive for August, 2010


The Prince of Darkness a “shining” example

While trolling on the web prior to beginning my day at work I came across this inspiring web article on a recent Ozzfest concert in Hartford, CT.  Ozzy apparently was cool enough to let a 10-year old kid (Yuto Miyazawa) get up and jam with him on a rendition of his classic Crazy Train; and the kid is actually pretty good!  Miyazawa has been playing since he was 3-years old and is considered a prodigy now at 10; apparently he has had an affinity for metal and his parents brought him to an Ozzfest concert, cool.

I think it is awesome that someone of Ozzy’s stature and established reputation as the craziest dude in rock n’ roll and metal history has the heart to let a little boy live his dream and play with him on stage.  So rarely do  we see these acts of kindness from people at this level and I applaud Ozzy for being so generous with his fame and granting an opportunity to a little boy; I’m sure this will live with him for the rest of his life.
Check out the video, although it’s not the best quality it is fun to a great way to start your day with a smile. You are still awesome Ozzy!

Let us know what you think!


Queensryche Caberet?

Queensryche was a band that I loved in high school, my favorite albums were Rage for Order (1986),  Operation Mindcrime (1988) ,and the one and only Empire (1990); an album that some believe is their finest and others consider it when they “sold out”. I personally think it is simply an album that granted them the most noteriety and took them in another direction which albums should do.

Not much has been heard from Queensryche in the past decade and what albums they may have released have not come with much fanfare or overwhelming response from their fans or general public.  What albums they have released over the past decade clearly have not come to close to their earlier work; and furthermore have not regained the foothold this band once had. I’ve always held on to Empire and play it on occasion when I feel like hearing “Jet City Woman” or “Best I Can”, that happens very rarely but for sentimental reasons I just can’t part with the album; it’s just a well produced album with great songs.

Recently I discovered that Queensryche is touring, however it is an “adult only” show; I guess you can read this two is that only gray haired 40 somethings would go, so yes, it would be “adults only”, or two, it is a risque show that is not appropriate for children under 17, well…which is it? It’s actually both. 

Clearly Queensryche’s fan base are more my generation, old farts that still think they are cool and think we are hip (c’mon, we listen to metal from the 80’s and tell our kids it’s still mainstream music…sadly, no it’s not!) but who cares as long our kids are not getting “Bieber Fever”, right?

I’m tossed about this caberet thing that Queensryche is doing, why not a regular rock show with some other bands from the 80’s, perhaps like White Lion, Whitesnake, Winger, or perhaps Slaughter (yes, all the band mentioned were cheezy but hey, they had their time in the spotlight rightfully and were cool at one time, don’t deny it!) but a caberet thing sounds like an MTV acoustic thing that seems far too staged and takes away from the mystique that made the band so unique and appealing. 

When I first heard that Queensryche was doing a caberet style show all I could think was that they were finally “jumping the shark”, and as most who know what this means…it basically puts the last nail in bands coffin.  It’s sad in some ways that these bands eventually fall from the greatness and popularity they once had, reduced to trying to recreate themselves and in the case of Queensryche, totally going in a wacky direction.  I think an acoustic tour and perhaps selling it as “an intimate night with Queensryche” would be far more appealing.  Ok, make it a dinner show and something that an adult audience of fans would appreciate and respect.  I think that something cozy with the band, perhaps a Q & A during of after the show would really be something unique and worthwhile.  Fans of bands from the 80’s would see the band as tangible and finally given the opportunity to make the connection they’ve always wanted; especially when they were teenagers.  I think having dinner with my wife listening to a mellow acoustic version of “Silent Lucidity” and then getting to ask Geoff Tate some questions about then and now would be awesome; don’t you?

Let’s see now they would rather feature go-go dancers and burlesque dancers (ok, hot girls and metal?  Sure that can work for me), contourtionist’s (ok, more hot girls that can get in many “unique” positions, that works), aerial acts ( huh? ok, I guess but why?), professional ballet dancers (uh, clearly not professional enough to get a gig with a reputable company eh? But perhaps their hot, so ok,  but boring I’m sure), jugglers? (yikes, Queensryche really is hitting rock bottom, but perhaps on second thought I should bring my 3-year old since he’ll be entertained;  I wonder if they will have free cotton candy and popcorn?), but drag queens ???? (ok, now I’m really avoiding your show, yuck!) 

So yes, they will be playing their slew of hits but also a bunch of “never before heard music”…so what!  I want hits only guys, your “never before released music” should have been released when you at the height of your career, 20 years later will seem more like filler music to draw out a longer show…snore.  A band from the 80’s releasing new music falls short of the mark and often fails to get the fans interest; most of us get bored really quick.  Sorry, Queensryche is not Zeppelin; if they released something never before heard I’m all ears…but Queensryche c’mon, please! You guys missed that train over a decade ago..

Yep, that is the featured performers at the Queensryche caberet performance and will cost you $30, sorry but I would rather catch another show or perhaps spend $10 on a few old used Queensryche cd’s at my local music store.  I’m not sure what they are thinking but it doesn’t appeal to me and seems cheezy, not cutting edge as they seem to be trying to be.  They sell the show as “art, lust, dancing and naughty fun” sounds more like an attempt to recreate themselves as a tool for “saving marriages” rather than remaining the band they use to be.  Sorry Queensryche, but this fan is not interested in your show on August 22 at Northern Lights (Clifton Parkm, NY).

I guess I would rather remember you guys when you just played your music in arena’s or small venues and connecting with your fan base, this caberet thing just is too much, sorry.

If you do go to this show please let us at HiFi Central what you thought and if it was worth the ticket price.  We are also curious about the set list.


American Carnage Tour: Not for Faint of Heart

“You can’t kill the metal.  The metal will live on.”  —Tenacious D

People fell into the pit, a holy war began and it was raining blood in Glens Falls on Wednesday night.  The American Carnage Tour, featuring Testament, Megadeth and Slayer, brought its thunderous assault to Upstate New York, leaving a satisfied crowd of metal-heads in its wake.  This event was supposed to take place 6 months ago, but Slayer vocalist/bassist Tom Araya needed back surgery.  It seems the delay only made the fans more bloodthirsty, and the arena was pretty packed.  These three veteran speed/thrash metal bands played a very good show, although some technical issues kept it from being a great show.

Testament has never achieved the worldwide success that Slayer and Megadeth have, but they do have a well-deserved devoted following.  Lead singer Chuck Billy, a looming figure with giant frizzy hair, nearly died about 9 years ago from a rare form of cancer.  But following chemotherapy he has beaten it into submission, and seeing him back on stage rocking hardcore was a good thing.  They played a few newer songs which were good, but it was their classics that had the crowd moshing madly. “New World Order,” “Into the Pit” and “Practice What you Preach” still sounded great after nearly 25 years, with Billy’s voice not missing a beat.  Original guitarist Alex Skolnick, who left the band for a while, rejoined Testament 5 years ago and sounded terrific on Wednesday, leading the charge on “Dog Faced Gods” and “3 Days in Darkness.”  The one negative aspect of Testament’s performance was sound-related – the guitars, at times, sounded very muddy and unclear, making it tough to really hear their signature grinding riffs.  But overall their short set got the crowd pumped for what was to follow.

Megadeth has undergone many lineup changes over the years, with the one constant being its founder, guitarist/singer Dave Mustaine.  Megadeth peaked in 1990 with its masterpiece album “Rust in Peace,” and the band has graciously decided to play that album in its entirety for this tour.  Musically, it was amazing.  “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” “Hangar 18” and “Take No Prisoners” catapulted the crowd into the rafters.  Hearing the guitar solos played with such precision after so many years was impressive.  But Mustaine’s vocals were another matter.  They were sporadic, at best.  You just couldn’t hear him singing.  At first I thought it was an issue with the microphone, but after a while it was clear that he simply wasn’t singing into the mic most of the time.  Perhaps he wasn’t able to hit the higher notes and just decided to shy away; whatever it was, it really brought the set down.  Luckily most of the crowd knew the lyrics, so the words were sort of floating around the arena, but it would have been nice to hear Mustaine actually singing.  Following the “Rust in Peace” album they played a few newer songs like “Headcrusher” and “Trust,” of which I am not a fan, but the crowd was rockin’ out. They closed with their classic “Peace Sells,” sending everyone into a tizzy.  It would have been a really solid set were it not for the vocal absence.

Slayer has to be one of the most uncompromising bands of all time.  They have been churning out their evil speed metal for almost 30 years now, with no attempt to mainstream their sound or kowtow to any trend.  Their lineup has remained solid (other than having several different drummers), with Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman handling the guitars and Araya on bass and vocals.  They banged out a couple of tunes from their new album “World Painted Blood” before playing their entire “Seasons in the Abyss” album, which like “Rust in Peace” was released in 1990.  “Seasons” is not Slayer’s best album, but it has some sure-fire classics and some of the deeper tracks are terrific.  The ferocious “War Ensemble” kicked it off, and throughout other tunes like “Blood Red,” “Dead Skin Mask” and the title track, King and Hanneman were trading blistering solos while Araya thumped the bass and howled away.  They closed with the expected classics “Raining Blood,” “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death,” but sandwiched in there was a very unexpected oldie-but-goodie “Aggressive Perfector.”  There were no technical issues with Slayer – just bruised and bloodied bodies in the mosh pit.

It was nearly 4 hours from start to finish, and although the sound issues were disappointing, it was good to see these bands still cranking out the hardcore metal.  It really highlights the lack of good metal being made these days, generally speaking.  These songs will live on forever as classics of the genre, and it was a treat to see them live while we still can.

The American Carnage Tour gets 3 out of 5 stars!


GWAR Print – Print Mafia

I know I have a print o’ the week thing going and I don’t want to spoil my weekly releases to the HiFi readers, but I couldn’t resist posting this awesome GWAR poster that the artists at Print Mafia did for the band’s gig in Nashville, TN in 2006.

The print is just so GWAR: piss on everthing sacred and worship your true gods you low life dirtbags!  If you have never seen GWAR do yourself a favor and go, quite possibly one of the most original acts out there touring and just worth the $20 in so many ways.  Don’t forget to wear crap clothing since fake blood and bodily fluids fly throughout the show on a pretty consistent basis, but it’s all part of the experience.

Man I love the stuff that Print Mafia produces! As you may have read in my past posts about Print Mafia, their designs are clever, brilliant, and just all around rad! This print is on sale for a mere $15 and is signed and numbered by the artists.  So, it is limited in its availibility and won’t be around for ever, so git’ yerself one proto!

Put this GWAR print in the appropriate place in your house and reflect on the “awesomeness”  of your own Print Mafia creation!  Hail GWAR!

To see this print and many other incredible works of art by Print Mafia, click here.

If you do end up picking up this print or any others make sure you let Print Mafia where you learned about it, give us here at HiFi Central some cred damnit!

Tell us what you think of this print!


Print o’ the week #6: Artist HERO

This week’s print pick is by Buffalo, NY artist Hero.  I thought this print was very cool for an AC Newman (front man for the band The New Pornographers) show in Ithaca, NY in 2009.

The print is limited to only 110 and is signed and numbered, again, it is a mere $25! What a bargain for a fantastic work of art.  The image measures 16 x 20, so it’s a nice size for framing.

You can check out more of Hero’s prints and artwork by clicking his site here.

Let us know what you think, please!


Van Halen album and tour for 2011…yeah, right.

Sorry if I seem so pessimistic about this recent announcement, but I feel that we fans have heard this stuff about Van Halen re-uniting in the past several times over…and with great fanfare, has come great dissapointment. Honestly, many of us really don’t care anymore if they tour or make another album.  If they do it will be nothing more than a pleasant surprise at best.

Supposedly the band is back in the studio laying tracks down for their first album with Roth since 1984 (1983); but past history has shown that Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex can take about 5 minutes with Roth in the same room, then the bottles begin to fly!  I would imagine that Diamond Dave has become even more annoying in his older age; he was irritating in his 30’s and 40’s, can you imagine his 50’s?  The most recent news I heard about David Lee Roth is that he was changing careers and becoming an EMT in New York City while also pursuing a musical career in bluegrass…so for him to get back with Van Halen is quite suprising to say the least.  Strummin’ with the Devil: A Bluegrass Tribute to Van Halen  (2006) and wasn’t a band album; I happen to like these alternative genre cover/tribute albums and this one is not band, it actually feature’s Diamond Dave on a track or two, but Dave’s pipes are rusty and this mellow style is more fitting today.  Since we are on the topic of cover/tribute instrumental albumsI must admit that the Iron Maiden Piano Tribute album is by far my favorite and I suggest you check it out if you get a chance; the version of “Aces High” is pretty cool.

Is it true that founding member Michael Anthony was kicked out and  replaced with Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie’s son) as the band’s bass player? Man, so now Roth is really outnumbered if things go sour in the studio, eh?  At least Anthony wasn’t related and provided Dave some type of neutral ear if things weren’t working out with the other two.

Roth’s vocals are not the same that he had back in the early 80’s, so I’m very skeptical if Van Halen was actually to release an album if it would be worth listening to, let alone buying.  I personally would give it a listen but I would not expect much in the way of fireworks like their early work.  It would be best, in my humble opinion, for Van Halen to let sleeping dogs lie and go out (literally) on a good note.  Albums like Van Halen I, II, and Fair Warning are the highlights of when the band was at their peak; I can’t imagine an album 30 years later will be anything  good, we’ll see I guess.  Hell, Ozzy is still churning out albums and that guy sounds the same after all these years, so…

Just thought you might like to know the gossip about a reunion of the band; as much as I would like to see them tour part of me is saying save my money and my attention elsewhere.


Print o’ The week #5 – Artist Nate Duval

Print o’ the Week #5 honor’s are bestowed on artist Nate Duval for his Magnolia Electric Company print.

I have a weakness for prints for bands that play in Boston, especially those who play at the coveted Middle East venue.  I played at the Middle East (upstairs) several times and have very fond memories of that room; and hey the place hooked up bands with dinner (usually falafel and hummus plates, greatly appreciated when you were a broke rocker!).

I’m not familiar with the band but I do like the print.  The print is in an edition size of 75 and measures 12.5″ x 19″ and is a mere $25!

Check this print and others out at Nate Duval’s website by clicking here!  And don’t forget to let us know what you think!


The Essential Bill Monroe 2-Disc Set (1945-1949)

Recently on a canoe / camping trip to The Adirondacks in Upstate New York my father asked me for some music that would inspire him during the drive though the Eastern High Peaks Region.  Instantly I thought of Bill Monroe, if you are not familiar with this bluegrass icon you should be, this is vintage bluegrass at its best.

I picked up this box set a few years ago on a lark since I wanted to add some dimension and variety to my music collection.  I had been familiar on a superficial level with Bill Munroe and Earl Scruggs (a protege of Monroe) and liked what  I had heard, normally the only time I listened was on my local college radio station (WRPI). 

I had picked up the two-disc set of Allison Krauss and Union Station Live and was really intrigued by bluegrass and modern country. If you are not famliar with Krauss’ live album it is one of the best live albums I’ve heard, incredible.  I’ve never been one to feel compelled to pick up a Tanya Tucker, Merle Haggard, or Willie Nelson album; that type of Country/Western music never really has appealed to me.  However, vintage Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr. always has, so I figured that why not Bill Monroe .  Luckily my bet paid off and this 2-disc set is worth every penny as an introduction to the roots of bluegrass.

Although Monroe had many hits over his 40+ year career, one of the highlights of his music was his hit “Blue Moon of Kentucky“; this song is featured on this collection; one can plainly see why this song was so appealing, but there are 39 other songs as equally as impressive.  The biggest gripe however about this box set is that a majority of the songs are not the actual studio hits, many are alternate versions or unreleased studio tracks of hits.  There is a companion cd that Columbia released “Bill Monroe: 16 Gems”, this is more of a “best of” album than anything else, good yes, but for a purist I feel that the box set is far more a better investment.

The overall sound quality is good but not incredible, most of the tracks were recorded in the early to mid-1940’s so you can understand why it may sound “boxy” at times.  You can get a used box set for about $12.00 on Amazon.  Do yourself a favor if you are a bluegrass fan, or looking for an inspirational album to set the mood as you head on your epic camping trip.

The Essential Bill Monroe (1945-1949) 2-disc set gets 4.0 out of 5.

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