Posts Tagged ‘gwar

08
Nov
11

Jessie J – Who You Are (2011)

Ok, so for those of you who have been reading this blog for the past three years know that we here at HiFi Central never shy away from controversy, especially when it means reviewing an album out of our usual genre of metal, rock, electronica, etc.  Last year I think we reviewed a Gwar concert and then a Tango album review, so if that doesn’t prove how random and diverse we are here, nothing will.

Much like going to a therapist to reveal some dark hidden secret you have, I must admit (and perhaps, with a bit of guilty pleasure and shame) that I have a place in my heart for what I call “bubblegum music”, yes, the top-40 rotation that often makes your head blow up listening to the same 6 songs  over and over, and over.  Well, to be honest the only time I indulge in this act is when I have a week off during the summer to paint a room in my house; often involving more than paint, more a rehab and then paint.  Regardless, these projects have taken multiple days and I have found myself drawn to the local pop station to get my yearly dose of “bubblegum”; and trust me, a week of this stuff catches me up on the entire year of what’s apparently popular in that genre, ugh.  Honestly, as absurd of a cop out as it may sound, it actually has kept me motivated and focused painting a room.  The reality is that eventually I have heard enough “bubblegum” to know all the words the song and find myself mumbling like a paraniod schizophrenic.  Eventually I complete my home improvement project and then like a hibernating bear, I leave my self-imposed “bubblegum den” and get back to my regular life and what I consider much better music.

So one day, on a lark, I decided to ask someone I knew for the entire Jessie J album just to see if her hit “Price Tag” was a  one-hit wonder off the album, and/or whether there may be some merit to this genre after all.  I guess my curiousity began with this years MTV music awards show; a show that in the past decade has become more of a goofy spectacle of spoiled rotten musicians pandering to clearly a tween population.  Having said this, I was flicking channels one night and came across the show and figured I would watch for a few minutes.  I mean, the only thing more entertaining than the MTV music awards show is watching Billy Mays selling Mighty Putty or perhaps, a hot poker to the eye, your choice.    However, the most entertaining portion of the show was Jessie J belting out her own songs and covers during the intermissions between performances, and the chick can sing!  I was honestly in disbelief; there she was sitting on a mock throne belting out these songs and wearing a leg brace.  Sadly, MTV only showed a snippet of her performances and then faded out to commercial, in my humble opinion SHE was the show and everyone else was her filler, pretty awesome. 

Who You Are is a solid album intially but as usual with pop albums it too gets weaker towards the end.  British born Jessie J (who’s real name is Jessica Ellen Cornish) had been writing songs for other artists over the past few years and remained out of the limelight either by choice or simply timing.  As a debut album, Who You Are  creates for the listener a lively assortment of Cornish’s vocal range and talent, along with very catchy beats and tempo’s.   The first three songs on the album (Price Tag, Nobody’s Perfect, and Abracadabra) are well placed and provide a fun introduction to a variety of unique beats and Cornish’s ability to sing over and with everpresent time changes.  Price Tag is a fun song and appeared to be the signature song of the album and was heavily played on rotation.   It is apparent that Cornish sings with a geniune amount of emotion and passion with each of her song’s, and this can be especially reflected with the song Nobody’s Perfect

The album takes a detour with a live performance of Big White Room; I feel that this was very clever on Cornish’s part since it provides some real authenticity to her album and ability to sing.  “Authenticity” is something I feel is often lacking from most pop performers; their great in the studio yet terrible on stage; clearly not for Cornish.  At first listen, I had no idea that it was a live performance until the crowd erupted with applause. 

The next song Casualty of Love is ok, a bit mellow yet appropriately placed in the middle of the album, it is clearly a soulful ballad with its own merits deserved.  The song Rainbow brings the listener back to the upbeat tempo of a classic pop album, it’s nothing really worth noting other than its beat.  To be brutally honest, it feels like a blatant corny ethical message about racial equality and how we are “all colors of the rainbow”. barf! Perhaps this would appeal to Roy G. Biv or leprechauns but for me it just feels cheezy, the listener will be forced to skip to the next song in anticipation of something better.

Who’s Laughing Now is clearly Cornish’s personal statement and moment of justification towards all of those who ever doubted her talent or dreams now that she has made it.   Although it’s a fun song it feels very plastic and childish; not what I would consider her best song; I would have left it for a b-side.  Do It Like A Dude is a song with a good beat, but it  makes me feel uncomfortable to play anywhere other than my car with the windows rolled up.  In this song Cornish does her best to singilke she’s tough and attempts to compare herself to being able to “do it like”a brother”, huh, what?  At one point Cornish attempts a reggae-dancehall accent, although a noble attempt it is probably best left to the professionals from Jamaica.  If she sang this at the MTV music awards I can only imagine what Little Wayne, Jay Z, Rihanna and Nikki Minaj must have been thinking about some white British chick singing about “doin’ like a brother”?  While it’s a interesting song, again, I think it’s where her album begins its downward slump. 

Song’s like Mama Knows Best, L.O.V.E, and Stand Up are nothing worth writing about and actually create for the album a repetative quality and where I begin to lose interest very quickly once again (sigh).  Perhaps the only redeeming quality is the song I Need This, since once again it shows off her vocal talents and is not too over produced.  The last track is the title-track of the album Who You Are, and while a good way to end an album on a mellow note, it seems more appropriately placed in a movie soundtrack compilation, it’s good, but not mind-blowing.

The album starts off well with the first 5 or 6 songs and then quickly, as most pop albums, becomes all the same often making the listener fall in love with the just the hits and disregarding the filler.  As I mentioned before, Cornish is very talented and I think that she has my respect after watching the MTV music award performances, but her album is fun for only a few select songs. 

Jessie J’s Who You Are gets 3.0 out of 5

04
Nov
11

Gwar Guitarist Found Dead on Tour Bus

From Billboard (who probably has the best summarization up so far:

Metal’s most theatrical band is suffering a loss today. GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot — known by the stage name Flattus Maximus — was found dead by his bandmates this morning (Nov. 3), as GWAR prepared to cross the Canadian border for a stretch of tour dates. He was 34.

In a statement first released to the blog MetalSucks and later confirmed by Billboard, GWAR leader Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) wrote: “It is with a sense of profound loss and tragedy that the members of GWAR must announce the passing of their long time guitarist and beloved friend Cory Smoot, also known to thousands of metal fans worldwide as Flattus Maximus. Cory was found deceased this morning as the band prepared for a border crossing. There is no word as to the cause of death and the members of GWAR are completely shocked and devastated that this has occurred.”

As for the Richmond, Va. act’s future plans, Brockie wrote in his statement: “At this point there is no word on arrangements and the disposition of the remainder of GWAR’s current North American tour, nor are there any details regarding long term plans. At this point we are just dealing with the loss of our dear friend and brother, one of the most talented guitar players in metal today. We ask that our fans and the media be respectful of our request for privacy for those that have suffered this terrible loss. A full statement will be coming in the next day or so, in the meantime please give your thoughts and your prayers to Cory, his family, and all the people that love him.”

According to GWAR’s rep, no additional information surrounding Smoot’s death is yet known.

The guitarist joined the Grammy-nominated band in the role of Flattus Maximus in 2002. As for the man behind the red face and dreadlocks, Smoot operated his own music production company/recording studio, Karma Productions, where he mixed, engineered and produced for the likes of GWAR, Skeletonwitch (“Beyond the Permafrost” album) and Municipal Waste.

Born Aug. 25, 1977, Smoot previously played in metal bands Misguided and Locus Factor and continued to play with Mensrea, in addition to establishing his own solo endeavor, the Cory Smoot Experiment.

We here at Hi-Fi are shocked and saddened that this happened. I, however, am a little peeved that they’re continuing the tour as planned…

17
Nov
10

HiFi Radio: listening pleasure to excess

Yes, after massive amounts of board meetings and swooning investors we here at HiFi Central have created our own radio station, well, er, kind of did.  In association with Playlist.com HiFi has created a station that you can click on and listen to our hand selected favorites while you toil at work or perhaps waste endless amounts of time looking busy.

We will do our best to refresh the station every  now and again, but we feel that variety of songs will be some you will want to play almost every day.  We’ve found some Zappa, Phish, Supergrass, Reverend Horton Heat and others to mix it up and keep it interesting.  Hey, we even sprinkled a bit of GWAR in there too (yes, here at HiFi Central we feel that Eliot Smith and GWAR live in peaceful coexistence on the same playlist).

I have to admit that the highlights of this playlist are the two live versions of both Suzy Greenberg and Gotta Jiboo by PHISH; simply incredible!

Although the coding between WordPress and Playlist.com do not jive exactly as well as we would like (it would have cost an additional $1,000,000,000 to fix) we feel that the result is fairly acceptable.  In order to launch the player look on the right of your screen and  just click the link for “Popout Player”; you will be presented with a new window and the fantastic and obnoxious Juicy Fruit billboard surrounding our radio station (ain’t nothin’ for free in this world; thank god it’s not a KY or Trojan ad instead). 

If you have any requests that you think we should consider, please let us know and please tune in regularly.

16
Oct
10

GWAR – C’mon, Go witness the horror!

If you have been following this blog from nearly it’s inception then you know we here at HiFi Central are huge GWAR fans.  Well, the band is making their yearly appearance tonight at Northern Lights (Clifton Park, NY) for a night of messy mayhem with the bodily fluid bonanza that they unleash on the devoted.  It’s an experience if you have never seen them and we encourage you to check them out if you can.

If you have not seen GWAR before, make sure you wear your crappiest clothes since anyone within 20 feet of the stage will get doust with fake blood, piss, and man juice in vast quantities.  Half of the entertainment is watching those that get squirted right in the face and actually enjoy it, hilarious.

Tickets are mere $20 and doors open at 6:30 for a 7:30 show; check out the GWAR goodies table since there are some pretty cool shirts and crap they have for sale.  Warm up groups tonight are The Casualties, Infernaeon, and Mobile Death Camp. 

If you are old like us and saw GWAR years ago don’t be worried about being the oldest one there, these guys have been around for 20 years and there were plenty of old school faithful in attendance as well a young whipper-snappers just seeing them for the first time.

Go witness the horror and have a great time! 

You can learn more about the show by clicking here.

12
Aug
10

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!

14
Dec
09

GWAR’s Brutal Truth

I am going to write this review of Friday’s GWAR show at Northern Lights in Clifton Park, NY with the assumption that many people reading this have never heard of the band, and/or have never seen them in concert.  To state it as simply as possible, GWAR is a heavy metal band that has now been around for 25 years.  There is an entire mythology as to their alien origins and their path of metal music and destruction here on Earth.  It’s an amusing tale that you can read about on their website, if you’re so inclined.

From a strictly musical standpoint, GWAR is a decent metal band – they throw in elements of thrash, speed metal, and even a little punk for good measure, but mainly they’re pretty straightforward heavy metal.  Their music is not necessarily memorable, but they do have some catchy riffs and head-banging beats.  But GWAR has not stayed around this long because of their music.  GWAR’s live act is what has kept them playing for 25 years to a diverse and devoted cult following.

As you can see from the photo, the costumes are quite elaborate.  They’re a cross between alien technology, sado-masochistic bondage gear and demonic ugliness.  Lead singer Oderus Urungus sports a cartoonishly large black phallus to compliment his thong underwear.  So just seeing these guys perform their songs in this getup is quite amusing.  But it’s what happens during the songs that truly defines the band’s shtick.

Weird alien characters, politicians and pop culture icons manage to appear on stage during each show (in the form of giant foam rubber costumes).  GWAR and/or their minions then proceed to kill, maim, torture, rape, cannibalize and otherwise dismember these characters, while the band blasts their metal music into the crowd.  And if that’s not enough, when these poor souls are being ripped apart, fountains of fake blood, vomit, semen and other excremental fluids are sprayed into the adoring throng of mosh-pitters and crowd surfers; red, blue, green and black streams gush forth from intestinal cavities, decapitated heads, and even from Urungus’ giant black unit.

Each GWAR tour utilizes a narrative of sorts, derived from their mythology, to half-heartedly explain the appearance of weird characters during the songs.  It’s half-hearted because the audience really doesn’t care – they just want to see blood and guts.  It’s all very silly and immature and cartoonish, but the band obviously knows this, and thus doesn’t – nay, can’t – take themselves seriously.  But they keep it just serious enough that you get sucked into their world for 80 minutes or so, and enjoy the fun, mindless entertainment while you’re there.

Northern Lights was packed on Friday night, and GWAR draws an eclectic mix of people.  There were metal-heads for sure, eager to mosh it up.  There was a punk element as well, which makes sense since GWAR embraces a punk attitude of non-conformity and absurdity.  The Goth scene was also represented, attracted by the horror and evil.  From the opening notes of GWAR’s set, the crowd responded very enthusiastically, and GWAR did not disappoint.  I will admit that I did not bother to check out the names of any of the songs they played, because honestly, it really doesn’t matter.  The show is what counts for GWAR, and put on a show they did.  Michael Jackson made an appearance with a giant mutated baby – after dancing around a bit, Urungus ripped off Jackson’s face to reveal a bloody mess beneath.  That horrific infant would later get impaled by Urungus’ giant sword, much to the crowd’s delight.  A 7-foot robot appeared during a later song, looking like something out of Godzilla film. But we soon discovered that it had flesh and blood underneath its metal frame; when its arms were ripped off, a fire hose-strength stream of blood doused the crowd.  For the encore, our president himself, Barack Obama, jaunted on stage wearing a crown and carrying a cane.  He presented GWAR with some sort of medal for kicking ass, at which point Urungus grabbed the cane and nearly decapitated Obama with it (nearly, because his head was dangling from his neck).  The song began, blood began to spurt from Obama’s neck, and then he danced around to the song, head dangling and blood flowing.

Obviously GWAR is not for everyone.  It’s over-the-top offensive for the sake of being offensive, it’s gross, it’s goofy and disgusting and so much fun! A GWAR show is not a music show – it’s performance art.  But most performance art is supposed to be taken seriously, even though when you see it you want to laugh sometimes at how silly it is.  GWAR knows it’s silly – ridiculously silly – and so everyone laughs, including them.  GWAR is an entertainment machine, pure and simple.  I don’t own any GWAR music – I don’t think it’s good enough (or interesting enough) to stand on its own.  But when you see the show, it all works marvelously.  And judging from the soaked clothes and smiling faces leaving the venue Friday night, the GWAR machine can probably roll on for another 25 years.

Hitting the stage before GWAR was Phoenix-based Job for a Cowboy, who may want to consider taking their name literally and look for work elsewhere.  As death metal bands go, they were extremely average, uninventive, and dull.  There were occasional moments of good riffs and guitar soloing, but there were few tempo changes and little crowd interaction by the lead singer, who was very hard to understand during the few moments he did try and address the Capital Region mass.

By contrast, opening band The Red Chord was much more enjoyable.  The Boston-based grindcore/death metal band had some killer riffs, a sharp sound, and their short set featured a great 5-minute instrumental segment.  Lead vocalist Guy Kozowyk was very engaging, even going so far as to call out the type of mosh-pitting he wanted to see, like a square dance caller at a hoedown:  “Circle pit, right now!”  “Crowd surfing, let’s go!”  It was very amusing, and the crowd, many of whom had apparently made the trek from Beantown to see the band, gleefully obliged.

This GWAR show gets 4 out of 5 stars.

11
Dec
09

GWAR Tonight!

Yes, that’s right!  GWAR is playing in HiFi Central’s backyard at the club Northern Lights.  Both contributors ericstraus and myself will be in attendance to enjoy the mayhem and delight that only GWAR can deliver.

We will have a report of the show and its aftermath, so please check back.  We’re both psyched, it should be a great show.




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