Archive for September, 2010

30
Sep
10

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock – 2112 a highlight!

I could not resist and had to post what I consider “groundbreaking news” for us dorks, geeks, and super nerds; the newly released Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock game features the album 2112 in its entirety!  What an epic album to feature on Guitar Hero; the entire 21 minute masterpiece!

Rush worked with game developers assisting with various parts of the game and complex time changes and signatures of the music.  Apparently this will be the ultimate test of how good one is a Guitar Hero.

I thought it was cool and worth reporting; it also peaks my interest of perhaps going out to purchase a 360 just for this game.  If you have already purchased this (it was released yesterday), please let us know if it is worth all of the hype.  Other bands featured on this are Megadeth, Ozzy, Anthrax, Steve Vai (wow!), and Slayer.

I find it odd however that Rush was looked over (yet again) for induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, what gives?  However, LL Cool J and The Beastie Boys make the list?  Clearly the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not to be taken seriously these days; no wonder the Sex Pistols refuse ever to be recognized by that goofy museum.

You can read more on this game by clicking here.

27
Sep
10

Katy Perry and Elmo – Banned?

I was surfing the web today and came across the article about Kate Perry’s performance with Elmo for an upcoming Sesame Street episode and how it has been banned for being too “sexy” and indicated suggestive “inappropriate behavior”.  Elmo often does popular artists both past and present so Katy Perry would seem appropriate due to her current popularity in pop music.

Recently she taped a performance with Elmo where she performed a version of her hit “Hot and Cold”; the problem for some parents does not lie with the content of the song but the outfit she was wearing and the assumptions that some parents are making are ridiculous and absurd. Clearly the accusations are being made by a bunch of old sea-hags who are jealous that some young 20-something is well, 20 and clearly in shape.  Parents are making accusations that her outfit is revealing and the entire production does not promote (ahem)  “family values” that Sesame Street is expected to promote. Here we go again with the wacko’s coming out of the woodwork to preach. This exactly when your rights as a music lover are determined by a “moral majority” who decide the definition of “appropriate” for you and everyone else. Frank Zappa fought against this very issue 20 years ago.

Accusations have ranged from the ability of some parents to have x-ray vision and proclaim they can “see her t**t’s”, to some being offended that Elmo practically runs “under” her skirt.  Wait, “practically” or does?  And if so, what did Elmo do in the video? Doesn’t he merely run past her legs? What am I not seeing?

And just for the record, what toddler doesn’t run between their parents legs and hold on for security when being shy or playing? Sadly, Sesame Street has pandered to the volume of complaints and concerns from parents and has decided to scrap the segment all together. Shame on you Sesame Workshop, clearly your actions indicate you agree, what an insult to Ms. Perry.

As a parent of a 3-year old I don’t see the problem with the video; yes she’s got some cleavage showing but I don’t think my son will be tainted by the realization that women actually have “breasts”!  Most children are more focused with the music and the colors of the background of the video. Clearly the same people reading into this video are the same that read far too much into the Bible and gain a warped perspective about what they “think” something means.

I’ve embedded the video to see what HiFi readers think, please post your thoughts if you agree or disagree with the content of the video.  I’ve heard if  you play it backwards it says “Ernie and Burt live together as grown men, but sleep in seperate beds”. I would assume that all of these complaining parents most likely grew up watching those two and made no assumptions other than they were two guys who liked to sing songs about rubber duckies, torture each other, and feed pigeons, right?

24
Sep
10

Frank Zappa – Tinseltown Rebellion (1981)

Tinseltown Rebellion is a classic Zappa album that was originally released as a 2-lp set and later released by RykoDisc as a single length CD.  The album is the first official release that introduced Steve Vai on guitar.  It should be noted that  Peter Wolf (J Geils Band) is featured on keyboards as well on this album.

The first two song s”Fine Girl”  and “Easy Meat” are the only studio tracks released on the album; the remainder of  the album is comprised of various live performances between 1978 and 1980.  The live tracks are not overdubbed or re-mastered by Zappa as many later albums were such as You Are What You Is (another 2-lp album released in September of the same year).

This album, like many of Zappa’s albums around this decade, provide the listener with an example of the various directions Zappa was capable of taking his music.  The third track The Young Sophisticate is a good song and has a Joe’s Garage type feel and tempo, however the next song Love of My Life exemplifies Zappa’s love affair with the doo-wop genre.  There are other examples of Zappa’s doo-wop style on later compilation albums such as Cheap Thrills (1998) and Son of Cheap Thrills (1999). 

The album quickly shifts gears with I Ain’t Got No Heart, a song that exemplifies Zappa’s innate ability to compose and perform complex arrangements and random time changes.  As mentioned in earlier reviews of Zappa, the people he surrounded himself were simply the best of musicians.  The monologue Panty Rap  and Dance Contest are classic Zappa moments and provides listeners who never had the opportunity to see Zappa live just how interactive and entertaining he was with a crowd; although some may find it offensive I think it’s incredibly entertaining.  Clearly Zappa and his band had a panty fetish while on the road, there is another entertaining song/parity on the album Man From Utopia (1983) entitled “The Jazz Discharge Party Hats”, another Zappa classic.

Now You See It – Now You Don’t showcases Zappa’s guitar talent; although a purely instrumental song it fits nicely in the middle of the album; if you would like to hear more of Zappa’s instrumental work I highly suggest Shut Up and Play Yer’ Guitar (1981) or Zappa: Guitar (1988).

The Blue Light is a random song on the album and actually is reminscent of songs off of Man From Utopia (1983); and that album that would not be produced for another 2-years, so perhaps this song is a precursor. Tinseltown Rebellion is the title track for the album and is entertaining on its own.  The remaining tracks are all good on the album but nothing specifically unique.

The ending track Peaches III is very cool since it is a  live performance of Peaches en Regalia off of Zappa’s early work Hot Rats (1969).  The song is awesome to hear performed live (although live versions can be found throughout the Zappa catalog, my personal favorite live version of Peaches in addition to this is Mothers at The Fillmore East 1971).  The cool thing about this version is the cameo of guitar great Al DiMeola!

All in all Tinseltown Rebellion is a solid Zappa album and one that a newbie or experienced Zappa fan will greatly appreciate as part of their collection.  Give it a few listens and it will quickly grow on you.

Frank Zappa’s Tinseltown Rebellion gets 5 stars!

23
Sep
10

Social Distortion Print – Dan Stiles

I’m digging the new Social Distortion print from Portland, Oregon artist Dan Stiles released today.  The print is in a limited run of 200 and comes signed and numbered by Stiles.

The print sells for a mere $25!   So, it’s a bargain for the budding or experienced art collector; priced right for a terrible economy no doubt!

You can check out this print and a few more that Dan just released on his website including prints of bands The New Pornographers, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Sleepy Sun, Modest Mouse, Major Laser, and Pavement.

I picked up a Midlake print a month back and was very happy with my purchase, check Dan’s stuff out by clicking here.

Let us know what you think and if you grab one!

22
Sep
10

Oktoberfest 2010 Radio

September 18th marked the official start of the one event on the planet most men hope to attend before they die…Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.  This year marks the 200th year of the annual beer drinkers ball; since many of us cannot be there the closest experience might be listening to Oktoberfest Radio while you push the pencil in your place of business, or perhap if you lucky be sucking down a cold import in your Haus.   Oktoberfest radio is mainly just fun accordian mayhem, so crank it up!

Although this is not a beer review blog, there are some pretty good quality Marzen’s on the shelves of your local beer store, Hacker-Pschoor Oktoberfest, Sam Adams Oktoberfest, and Spaten Oktoberfest are pretty damn good, find them if you can!

The radio station is through AOL Radio so please excuse the 5 minutes of mandatory and yet competely pointless commercials prior to your music starting up, it’s very annoying.

Cheers!
HiFi Central

21
Sep
10

Gaga “Go-go” Away..p-p-please!

Just for the record here at HiFi Central we often have a bucket or some garbage can at the ready for our daily feeling of oncoming nausea when Lady Gaga’s name is mentioned.

Although Madonna was annoying in the 80’s and 90’s, yet she was talented to a degree (Ray of Light is actually not a bad album believe it or  not!). Gaga trumps her by a mile at this point in being a retard. 

Can anyone please explain to us why this chick remains in the spotlight?  We just don’t get it.

09
Sep
10

R.I.P. Mike Edwards

Who?  What, Mike Edwards isn’t a household name for you rock fans?  For shame.  Edwards was the cellist for one of the more unique rock bands of the 70’s, the Electric Light Orchestra (or as their friends called them, ELO). 

Actually I had no idea who he was either, but even more strange is how he died.  A 1300-pound hay bale rolled down a hill and crushed his van as he was driving down the road.  Crazy stuff happens in England.  But here’s Mike in an ELO classic.  Enjoy.

07
Sep
10

Into Another – Seemless (1995)

While checking out the listings of my local indy/rock/metal venue (Northern Lights – Clifton Park, NY) did I notice the band Underdog was playing at a Tattoo/Hardcore expo and music festival called Rat-a-Tat 5 on November 27th.

Underdog (originally known as NYC Underdog) is headed by lead singer and founder Richie Birkenhead.  Birkenhead was a intregal part of the NYC hardcore seen in the late 80’s and early 90’s; Underdog was defining sound during that period along with bands like Youth of Today (also founded by Birkenhead), Token Entry, and Gorilla Biscuits, and Murphy’s Law.  Birkenhead broke off from the band due to personality conflicts and formed the rock band Into Another in 1991.  I saw Into Another in 1992 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ with Iceburn; it was an awesome show and an experience I will always remember. 

In high school I was not particularly a huge hardcore music fan although many of friends in the skateboard scene were.  With hardcore I found the music too fast, lyrics too mumbled, and the atmosphere rather intimidating rather than empowering.  Hardcore shows were often held at local VFW’s and random halls that the promoters could find.  The acoustics were usually horrid, the floor oppresively hot and cramped, and the warm-up acts moderate at best.  With all this believe it or not attendance consistently exceeded the maximum capacity at these venues and shows were often a success.

The crowds often consisted of flocks of skinheads, self-righteous straight-edge hard core kids, skaters, and jocks who thought the pit was a place to punch people at random.  These are the primary reason’s why I was turned off to the whole hardcore scene; it was not the music really, but more the negativity that seemed to define and pervade most shows.  I felt that this often contridicted the actual positive vibe these shows were attempting to create for young kids; however for many fans these shows were a refuge.

As the hardcore genre began to wane in the early 1990’s and the introduction of  “alternative” music overtook national interest, the eventual demise of Underdog and other bands became inevitable; hardcore bands could either continue or decided to reinvented themselves.  Members from Youth of Today formed Shelter, Quicksand, and 411 and  Birkendhead formed Into Another..  The band was made up of Birkenhead (vocals), Tony Bono (Bass), Drew Thomas (Drums) and Peter Moses (guitar); the foursome had all come from previous NYC bands that met with some success, but not really getting the exposure each deserved.  Into Another attempted to take advantage of  the blossoming  “alternative” music scene but with many bands at that time the market was simply too saturated.

In past interviews Birkendhead has indicated that it was more the fault of the record company and poor distribution and marketing that lead to their demise being noticed.  I have to agree with this statement, since I had never heard of Into Another until a friend approached me with news that Birkenhead had started a new band.  Once hearing the the self-titled first album Into Another (1991), I was hooked and couldn’t believe that I was listening to Birkenhead; the contrast between Underdog and Into Another was a complete 180; I really liked what direction Birkenhead was taking his creativity.

The band went on to release a second album, Ignoraus (1994) and it was a fairly successful album, although any real notiriety was restricted to word of mouth.  The song Drowning probably was the best song on the album. The band released a third album Seemless (1995) and this album in my humble opinion is one of the most overlooked and underated rock albums ever made.   The reason is that Seemless is among one of the best produced and consistently solid albums for its time; the album cranks one hit after another. 

Sadly, this album only had one semi-big hit T.A.I.L  that reached #39 on the U.S Billboard charts for Mainstream Rock in 1996.  Although impressive, it was a short lived celebration for band; Seemless would not get the the mainstream music rotation that it deserved.  The album and Into Another for the most part, faded off into the abyss of other great bands that tried to get discovered as the next big thing and were looked over.

Seemless is a powerful album from start to finish; the opening song Mutate Me is gritty, hard, and powerful with a non-stop tempo that introduces the album in such an amazing way.  Locksmiths & Lawyers clearly another high tempo song does a great job of keeping the listener enthralled with the pace that Into Another creates and maintains; Birkenheads vocals and harmonies keep everything together tight.  T.A.I.L was the song that got the most airplay for the band and in many ways I can see why, the song is catchy and clever, two of the primary ingredients for capturing a mainstream audiences attention, however, I feel that either Mutate Me or the title track Seemless would have been a more appropriate for introducing this album and the band to college radio.  Songs like Getting Nowhere and For a Wounded Wren are mellow songs that calm the album down in the beginning of each song, but clearly carry themselves as heavyweights as the songs progress. Simply put, there are no “power ballads” on this album.  Into Another went in to writing and arranging the tracks on this album with a lot of forethought and created a masterpiece. 

Songs like After Birth and Regardling Earthlings exemplify Birkenheads inate ability to write; the lyrics are well placed and clearly are sincere when he chose them for this song.  In past interviews with Birkenhead, he said that he poured his soul into this band and it shows.  The song May I is probably the weakest song on the album if there was one, but it too is well done since it provides a spot in the album for a much needed shift in mood and tempo, and gears quickly change with the album ending The Way Down.  This song is such an appropriate way to end an album; especially when one has taken the time to listen to the album in its entirety.

Into Another was slated to release a follow up album entitled Soul Control the following year (1996) but the band had too many internal problems and broke up that year as well.  You can find a few songs from Soul Control via the Web, although most of them are not nearly the same caliber as the songs off of Seemless. Granted, what is out there is very limited since the album is still shelved unfinished, so it’s hard to determine really how good or bad the album really is or is not.

Birkenhead has regrouped with his band Underdog and is currently performing gigs at random venue’s across the country; many 30 somethings are willing to pay for some nostalgic acts and look forward to remembering their highschool days.  Hardcore bands from the 80’s are no different than hair metal bands attempting to capitilize on older crowds still  loyal.  Although I it would be cool for Birkenhead to perform a few Into Another songs off of Seemless  with Underdog, I doubt he will. 

In 2002 the bass player for Into Another (Tony Bono) passed away, this tragedy put any chance of Into Another reforming now or in the future.  I’m sure that Birkenhead respects that the band would simply not be the same without Bono, and I think that is completely understandable.  If you listen to the bass lines in Seemless, Bono was the cornerstone of the band and I’m sure is irreplacable in so many ways.

If you can find a copy of Seemless out there in your used music store grab it; although I have been told that it is out of print and quite the find by hardcore fans since it features Birkenhead.  If you can find it, you won’t be dissappointed and play it really, really, really loud!

Into Another’s Seemless gets 5 out of 5 stars.




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