10 November 2010

You Know Her Life Was Saved By Rock and Roll

Considering it had been a few years since I had been to Austin, ACL gave me the perfect reason to go back. Aside from the fact that the lineup this year was great, the band that I had driven over 4,000 miles to see this summer was a headliner, and practically playing in my backyard, there was no way in hell I was going to miss the festival this year.

After getting off to a late start and finally getting to Austin, I stopped and unloaded my extra ticket for some extra cash for the weekend. Unfortunately traffic around Zilker prevented us from seeing Blues Traveler, we made it into the park just after 3, right in time to catch the last few songs of Miike Snow's set. The few songs we actually got to hear were solid, something I'll have to give a listen to later.

After Miike Snow, I needed to stop and get some food in me so I could start getting ready for the Phish. Not that anyone should give a shit as to what I was eating, but Mighty Cone was probably the best food I ate all weekend. Fried chicken, fried avocado, coleslaw, and chipotle sauce in a tortilla? Sign me up, wish that we had these in Houston.

Next up was Pat Green. Who doesn't love some Texas country? Not the crowd at ACL it seems, this was probably the least crowded of the sets I saw all weekend, although it may have just looked that way considering he was on the main stage. He played a good set, mixing both his newer songs (crap) with some of the older fan favorites. I got to sing/dance along to Take Me Out to a Dancehall, so I was happy. Little did I know "if we get a little crazy, blame it on the alcohol" would be a foreshadowing of all day Saturday.

After taking 30 minutes to refuel on food/booze, we headed over to see Spoon. They played a ton of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, much to the delight of the crowd. All in all it was an incredibly fun set, and the crowd clearly enjoyed the hell out of it. Highlight of the set: Eric Harvey climbing on top of the piano at the end of Underdog, stomping on the keys, jumping down and pushing the piano over. The crowd lapped it right up, and Spoon then closed out the set with a good sounding Black Like Me.

Who to see after Spoon was probably the toughest decision of the weekend. With Vampire Weekend, the Sonic Youth, and Robert Randolph & the Family Band all playing at the same time, I was completely torn as to who to see. After finally deciding on Vampire Weekend, we headed toward the stage, only to find a complete clusterfuck awaiting us. It seemed like three quarters of people in Zilker Park at the time were doing one of two things: either going to see Vampire Weekend, or waiting to see Phish, and it just so happened that these two stages were probably the closest stages in the entire festival. After trying and failing to get close to the stage, we decided to listen to the Vampire Weekend set from a distance. What I heard of the set sound incredible, unfortunately I ducked out 30 minutes into their set so I could snag a spot close to the stage for the Phish.

Phish took the stage just past 8, and I had managed to get a spot Page side (rage side) about 10 rows of heads back from the stage. As soon as the first few notes of Mike's bass from Down With Disease rang out, it was time for liftoff, and I was not touching back down for the next two hours. Coming off of a short break from their summer tour, the boys picked up right where they left off. They played a setlist comprised of mainly the heavy hitters, and very little jamming. was tightly played, and was a great opener. Next up was a funkified version of the Talking Heads' Cities. For me, Cities started the dance party that would go on for the next few hours. After a standard, smoking Possum, Page took the spotlight for a cover of the Velvet Underground's Rock & Roll, which segued into a compact, but always fun 2001. Backwards Down the Number Line gave me the perfect chance to catch my breath and finish my now warm beer. Harry Hood may just be becoming one of my favorite songs, the jam section leading up to end of the song is incredibly beautiful, and never fails to move me to the very depths of my soul. Unfortunately, Trey decided to abort Hood in favor of Light, leaving Hood unfinished and me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Luckily they followed with Suzy Greenberg, which was met with much singing, dancing and elation by both me and the phans that I was surrounded by. Page absolutely destroyed his solo, and this still stands as the highlight of the show to me. They closed out their set with the one song I was expecting not to hear in You Enjoy Myself, considering the vocal jam at the end could put off many new listeners I was not expecting to hear this at a festival but it was a very pleasant surprise. Phish left the stage after the YEM vocal jam, and came back out with an incredibly high energy encore. Cavern including the toe-tapping from Trey and Mike during the chorus, and Trey didn't flub the lyrics! I expected them to end the night after Cavern, but was proven wrong when they started into First Tube. Trey clearly loves playing this song, and being able to see him on stage dancing and jumping around while playing is a joy. Considering where Trey was just a few short years ago, I have been incredibly lucky to have seen Phish four times in 2010, with hopefully 2 more shows before the new year. I am so glad to see them up on stage, having fun, and playing better and better since the reunion in March. It may have not been the best show that I have seen them play musically, but it was certainly the most fun I have had at a show so far.

The first day of ACL was a success, with my personal highlights being Spoon and (obviously) Phish. As I walked out of the venue with a shit-eating grin on my face and a euphoric feeling washing over me from the show that had just ended, I knew I was right where I needed to be. And there were still two incredible days of music to follow.

17 October 2010

Blackstone Ranger, Suuns & Land of Talk @ The Nightmare, Dallas Texas

This is the first time that I've ever had the pleasure of going to Deep Ellum and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed. Although I did miss the Zombie Walk 2010, there were still plenty of zombies lurking around the area especially when we stopped for dinner at Cafe Brazil.

The Nightmare from what I hear is a new venue...or at least a newly owned venue. $2.50 cans of lone star & pbr were fantastic, and the other beer prices weren't bad at all.

The show got off to a late start and the local opener was an electronic indie duo called "Blackstone Ranger". They have a lot of potential. You know me...I'm a sucker for duos, especially when the drums are artificially manufactured. The girl had a great voice, although it didn't always seem to fit the music and she had interesting synth melodies and even broke out a trumpet for one song. More of that please. The guy sang as well, and played guitar and at points reminded me a bit of Morrissey. I'm not sure how long they've been around but I think they could definitely do something with a little fine tuning.

I'd been looking forward to seeing what Suuns had to offer. (pronounced suns or soons, not sure yet.....there was debate even from Land of Talk's frontwoman) I had heard good things from my friends that caught the show in Cleveland and had checked them out online. I was impressed not only with the perfect amount of noise and melody that they brought to the table but also that they were essentially the backing band for land of talk. Double duty! Check out the video below of Suuns performing 'Arena'. Sorry it's darker than I'd hoped it would be. Also pick up their debut album 'Zeroes QC'. I did and it's amazing.

Land of Talk took the stage shortly before midnight. Elizabeth Powell started the show alone with the title track of their latest album, 'Cloak and Cipher'.

Land of Talk played through a majority of songs from their new album, which I was okay with since it's fantastic and one of my favorite albums of the year. They also played a few of the best tracks from their other albums including 'Speak to Me Bones', 'Some are Lakes', and 'May You Never'.

All in all it was an amazing show and I'm glad Land of Talk finally made it down to Texas and brought Suuns with them.

Thanks to all the Zombies I saw throughout Deep Ellum as you helped make my night even more enjoyable!

11 October 2010

Potential second great metal album of 2010

Intronaut - Valley of Smoke (2010)

Check out the link above to head on over to metalsucks and stream the latest record from Intronaut. 'Valley of Smoke' appears to have what it needs to be the second great metal album of 2010. "Only Second?" you ask? At this point in my life, I'm highly selective and 90% of metal released is mindless music that is stealing from music that was written better 15 years ago. Hrmm, perhaps I sound a bit old but that's just how it is. The other album you should get your hands on is 'After' by Ihsahn. It came out earlier this year and it's fantastic.

Anyways, 'Valley of Smoke' comes out tomorrow and if you pre-ordered this bad boy like I did, you'll be most likely receiving an awesome shirt as well.

Please, do yourself a favor and pick this up from cmdistro.com. If you don't really need the physical disc or vinyl, then head over to amazon.com or Itunes. I'm sure they'll both have it.

03 October 2010

Avia Hotel - The Woodlands, Texas - AVOID THE BAR!

I'd like you to tell me where you see Bourbon in this drink? And how this looks anything like the advertisement which was supposedly Bourbon on the rocks. Isn't that false advertising?

And here's the original ad that made me want to order the drink in the first place.

How is that the same at all? I was just really disappointed. I won't be spending any more time there, that's for sure. Nor will I be recommending it to anyone.

30 September 2010

I should start using this more.

2 weeks til this concert in Dallas. I'm excited!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

16 June 2010

Isis @ Bonnaroo 2010

19 May 2010

Just a couple things.....

I hope to expand more on this later:

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio - So glad I got to see you on tour with Heaven & Hell. At 66 years old you tore it up! You gave me hope that I can keep rockin' for many many more years. We'll miss you!

In a different kind of R.I.P.....

R.I.P. ISIS - you knew you'd hit your musical plateau and decided to leave on a high note. I can respect that. Good luck in your future musical endeavors.

24 April 2010

New Cryptic Yeast

check this shit out.

Sentimental Territory

21 February 2010

Shutter Island review

Not every Martin Scorsese movie consists of foul-mouthed gangsters, a constantly moving camera and a soundtrack of period pop songs. That's why I'm a little confused when people make it sound like Scorsese was stepping out of his comfort zone and trying his hand at "something new."

While it is true he's never made a thriller like this before, he has tried his hand at thrillers with his remake of Cape Fear. I'm personally not a big fan of that film and I think you can trace the following it does have to Robert DeNiro hamming it up and the really awesome Simpsons parody it spawned. Still, Scorsese has already tried his hand at putting audiences on the edge of their seat with a "nail biter" movie.

None the less, despite how famous Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are, most people associate Scorsese with gangster movies. Given what a redefining film Goodfellas is, that's not necessarily a bad thing but it's still a commentary on what a limited perspective the casual movie goer can have. Maybe I'm just mad more people haven't seen After Hours. That is Scorsese's most underrated film and one of my favorites of his. It's truly an awesome movie and not enough people have taken the time to watch it (or even know it exists) but I digress.

Shutter Island is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, an author whose work has popped up in Hollywood a few times in the 2000s. Everyone's favorite curmudgeon Clint Eastwood brought Mystic River to the big screen in 2003 and Ben Affleck (!) directed the adapation of Gone Baby Gone. Mystic River wasn't a favorite of mine but so far, the guy's had a pretty good track record.

Despite some bitching by critics about the film's third act (that's admittedly where my beef lies, too), Lehane and his work is going to continue to stay in good standing as Shutter Island is a pretty good movie.

Whether you love Leonard DiCaprio or hate him, he works well with Scorsese. Gangs of New York and The Aviator have somewhat fallen by the wayside but both films had merit and their problems weren't with DiCaprio's performances. And to a lot of people, The Departed is Scorsese's best work since Goodfellas (I disagree but that harkens back to the "limited perspective" thing I referenced earlier). Anyway, given the second life their collaboration has breathed into Scorsese's career, you really can't blame them for wanting to continue to work with each other.

DiCaprio is fine here, along with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, John Carroll Lynch, Patricia Clarkson and a slew of other good actors in small parts but the acting takes a backseat to the atmosphere, visuals and cinematography. Those are the real stars of the film.

The moody dream sequences are haunting and have a strange beauty to them. I wouldn't call the pace of the film brisk but it does suck you in as everything unfolds and DiCaprio's sanity seems to crack, which is as good a time as any to segue into the rather troubled third act.

The twist isn't anything that's going to shock you but that's not the problem. Too many films, like Identity and everything by M. Night Shyamalan rely on their twists to justify their worth as films. There's a "Wait for it...Wait for it...WAIT FOR IT!" quality to those films which often kill everything that came before it and eliminate any future replay value (at least for me). In Shutter Island, the twist is incidental. You can pretty much see it coming and despite the third act's problems, it's the logical point for the story to go to. The problem is that it's pure exposition. Kingsley and Ruffalo explain everything, they cut to DiCaprio looking freaked out, then cut back to Kingsley and Ruffalo continuing to explain everything, then cut back to DiCaprio looking freaked out. Lather, rinse, repeat. Oh, and cut to DiCaprio's flashback, which you've already figured out anyway. Small reveal at the end, boom, movie's over, end credits.

It's not necessarily bad but when you consider the imagery and the way they mounted the tension in the previous two-thirds of the film, it just feels like a step back. It's still a film that is well-worth your time. Scorsese continues to remind us why he's Martin Scorsese and well-crated thrillers are hard to come by these days. Check it out. And see After Hours, dammit.


14 February 2010

The Wolf Man (2010)

The Wolfman is a "good but not great" remake. To be fair, when you consider all the production problems this had, it's actually impressive it turned as well as it did.

The film has all the essential ingredients for a good werewolf/ monster movie. Rick Baker was a no-brainer for designing the werewolf make-up. They came up with a new Oscar for his work in An American Werewolf in London, so needless to say, the wolf doesn't disappoint in this movie. There is some CGI in the transformation scenes but it's integrated fairly smoothly with the practical effects. The film also has some great chaos and gore, which was a relief. This could have easily been a PG-13 affair and might have put the nail in the coffin of an already troubled production. Werewolf films (the good ones, anyway) also have a tragic element running through them. Even with the camp and humor contained in An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, David Naughton and Dee Wallace-Stone''s fates in those respective films is sad and it gives them they a weight that elevates them well-above the crappy knock-offs, sequels and Z-grade trash that populate this sub-genre.

In the original Wolf Man, it's Larry Talbot's father who ends up killing him. A father being forced to kill his son is heavy stuff these days and I can only imagine what a gut-punch it was to audiences in 1941.

There is a tragic element in this film but it's not as powerful as the original. Anthony Hopkins is creepy and unbalanced in his role as John Talbot and while the change to his character is integral to the plot, I didn't think it anywhere near as emotional. There's certainly a tragic element here, Benicio Del Toro's Larry Talbot is a sympathetic character who does not deserve his fate but the ending is much more effective in the original.

It's also a visually striking film. I'm not having the love affair with Blu Ray that I did with DVD in its heyday but this is one I will want to check out again in HD. Some of the visuals, like the wolf drinking water with London Bridge visible in the background, are gorgeous.

The film is not without it's shortcomings, though. Joe Johnston did a commendable job with the time he was given but the fact this was a rushed, troubled production does show in a few aspects (mostly plot).

The relationship between Del Toro and Emily Blunt is never developed as well as it should be. It's another area where the tragic aspect of the film is diluted slightly. She does fine with what time on screen she does have but ultimately, she doesn't have the presence her character is meant to have.

As good as the carnage is, the scene with the wolf's rampage through London feels very truncated. There's talk of seventeen-odd minutes of deleted footage and whether or not that helps fill in the gaps remains to be seen but again, it's things like this where you see the figurative seams of a film that went through a lot of shit on its bumpy road to completion.

I mentioned earlier that the CGI in the transformation scene blended well with the practical effects. This is not the case for the entire movie. There are two scenes with a CGI bear and a deer that pretty dodgy. I don't know if they ran out of time or what but the CGI bear especially looks odd when it first appears.

Finally, Hugo Weaving's Aberline is a total bad-ass. The movie sets up a sequel and if it features him extensively, I will be more than happy.

Overall, the film is enjoyable enough. It's not great and I'm sure Universal's expectations for it were ridiculously high at first but I have no doubt they'll turn a profit and even though it's garnered a lot of negative reviews, the crowd I saw it with seemed to really dig it. Traditional monster movies are designed to be crowd pleasers, so any gasps and screams you hear in an audience are a sign that the film has ultimately succeeded. Check it out.

06 February 2010

Headed to this place in 2 hours.....

If you love beer, and you happen to live near Houston, make the trip up to Conroe and check this place out!!!

02 February 2010

Dead Snow

Ever since 28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake and Shaun of the Dead made zombie movies a hip kid thing again, I've had a love and hate relationship with the sub-genre. I loved the renewed interest it gave classic zombie/ undead movies by George Romero, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson (who all had healthy followings to begin with) and to a lesser extent Lucio Fulci but I hated a lot of the dreck that followed (and this is sub-genre with an abundance of that to begin with).

And let's not forget that anytime a group of dipshits get access to decent cameras, take a guess what kind of movie they want to make? Yeah. And they all suck. I've endured enough of this bull shit on YouTube to definitively say these are hack jobs (no pun intended) at best. Bad make-up, acting, camera work and editing is just that kids, bad. Making a zombie movie is not a free ticket to cult movie stardom. But thanks for trying.

Anyway, after being disappointed with 28 Weeks Later and Romero's Diary of the Dead and putting myself through the utter piles of shit that were Fido and Hide and Creep, I pretty much swore zombie movies off.

And I think I'm right when I say this sub-genre is pretty much dead in terms of originality. I will say I enjoyed Zombieland but it's a lightweight affair all told. The movie will be remembered for how awesome Woody Harrelson is and deservedly so. He owned that movie and his co-stars were good, too. Still, in terms of zombie action, it's pretty soft.

So on to Dead Snow. This Norwegian film does have its enjoyable aspects. The film shares a lot more in common with Raimi's Evil Dead 2 and Jackson's early work than Romero-style zombies and not just because one of the characters wears a Braindead (aka Dead Alive) t-shirt. The film borrows a lot of elements from Bad Taste. The character who continually takes a beating and somehow survives (at least until the end) each encounter and literally has to hold himself together with common household items (the belt around the head in Bad Taste is replaced here by duct tape around the neck). There's also the "splattery" quality of the gore effects (which were one of this movie's strong points) and the reckless abandon to which the characters use weapons, ranging from a chainsaw to a machine gun.

And the film's main bad guy, Colonel Herzog, looked a bit like Bub the Nice Zombie from Day of the Dead. I'm guessing that's not an accident, either.

I also liked the POV shot of the girl watching herself get eaten. That was a pretty unique touch.

Overall, I didn't hate this film. I was entertained enough but I don't feel a real strong urge to revisit it ever again. Yeah, it's Nazi zombies and the gore is pretty cool but I guess I've just become too hard to please with zombie movies.

30 January 2010

3 Albums worth checking out

Hey, here's 3 new metal albums worth listening to if you're like me and completely bored with music right now. Give em a listen. I think you might like 'em.

24 January 2010

A Serious Man

The Coen Brothers really only make two kinds of films: Zany comedies or really dark dramas.

While their comedies contain moments of dark drama and vice versa, this is the first film that's truly equal parts of both. You could argue Fargo did it first but past laughing at all the Midwestern accents, there really isn't a lot of comedy in the film, at least not up to the level of the chase in Raising Arizona or, well, anything in The Big Lebowski. The dark ultimately far outweighs the funny in Fargo.

I thought A Serious Man was okay. First off, the Coens deserve a lot of credit for casting Michael Stuhlbarg. They could have easily gone with George Clooney or Brad Pitt but they went with someone who obviously captured the essence of the role and was right for the part. And the guy is good. He's one of the film's strong suits.

There are also two sequences in the film that are particularly masterful. The first is a prologue involving a couple's encounter with a seemingly dead distant relative. There's no clear-cut resolution and it segues perfectly into the opening credits. The atmosphere and tension in the scene outdoes most recent horror films and it confirms just how awesome the Coen Brothers are. As I've said above, they really only make two kinds of movies but the amount of craft and style that goes into each one makes that concept go over most people's heads.

The second sequence is a Rabbi's tale of an orthodontist who finds "Help Me" carved in Yiddish in the back of a patient's teeth. The editing and building of the sequence is brilliant but it's also where the problem with the film lies.

It essentially spells out the entire meaning of the film in the middle of said film. That doesn't mean the film is much ado about nothing and there's a lot to like to about the rest of it but it also takes away any real intrigue as to what could come at the end.

While the ending is unique and will probably have a lot of people scratching their heads, I didn't find myself as engrossed as I was with No Country for Old Men or something really old like Blood Simple.

And I guess that's the other thing for me. I'm still waiting for the proper follow-up to No Country. Take away Richard Jenkins and Brad Pitt getting shot in the face (Note: I like Brad Pitt but that scene is hilarious) and Burn After Reading really isn't that great of a movie. This is a step-up but evidently I'm a fan that possesses the tried and true "Their earlier stuff was better" mentality.

The movie also needed more Richard Kind. That guy is awesome.

Overall, the film, like any Coen Brothers movie, is worth a look. If you're still holding out for the raw power of No Country for Old Men, though, it looks like we're going to have to wait.

17 January 2010

Testing out updates with my phone. Just finished watching the golden globes. The good thing about the golden globes? DVD screeners leaked on the interweb. Definitely wanna check out Sherlock Holmes and it's complicated (yes, I like Meryl Streep)

Aside from work this could be a good week.

On a side note, I picked up new albums from Arsis, ihsahn, fear factory and the Devin Townsend project. Hopefully I'll give them a listen this week.

Oh and I'm glad the jets beat the chargers. Not that i'm a jets fan but the colts will have an easier time beating the jets.

I like peyton manning and think he's a classy guy.

Favre vs. Manning. Can't wait.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

14 January 2010

Hi, I'm Mike. I was invited to do movie reviews for this blog. I don't know how often this will be but I'll do my best. And I welcome feedback.

Anyway, this film was excellent. It's easily the best war film of the 00's.

Like other great war films, it immediately establishes the tone and atmosphere of its characters and their respective time periods. Full Metal Jacket has the head-shaving de-humanization of its Vietnam-era "grunts," The Big Red One has a black and white sequence with a lone, world-weary Lee Marvin killing a German soldier surrendering at the tail end of World War I, Platoon has its "lamb to the slaughter" imagery of its troops entering the "fuckin' 'Nam!" and The Hurt Locker gives us a POV shot from a robot scouting a bomb in the midst of the Iraq War.

It's a simple but striking sequence and it already tells us so much about the role of the characters in the war and how much combat has changed since Vietnam.

I've always thought Kathryn Bigelow was an underrated director. There really aren't a lot of major women filmmakers to begin with and she's spent the last decade or so in a considerable lull. So it's great to see her knock one out of the park and get the attention she deserves for doing it.

Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie are compelling leads. There was a lot of mention of Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes but make no mistake, the two former actors are the true stars of the movie.

Some of the images, like Renner showering in his uniform and seeing the blood run off it, the soldiers finding a dead child being used as a "body bomb" and a POV shot from inside a Hummer of a soldier being blown up are as compelling and striking as anything seen in Saving Private Ryan or any of the other major war films from the last ten years or, frankly, ever.

Check it out.

04 January 2010

Helloween? More like Hellowon't.

I love power-metal. I really do. The problem is, there really hasn't been a decent album since the late 90's.

However, I still find myself grabbing an album every now and then to check it out.

And I always find myself disappointed.

Case & Point is Helloween - Unarmed which is apparently a celebration of 25 years of Helloween.

Now i've never really cared too much for Andi Deris. They pretty much went downhill once Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske left.

So here they go, trying to recapture any excitement there may be by re-recording classic songs.

That's the first mistake. I can't think of any instance in which this was a good idea. Perhaps Testament's 'first strike still deadly' but that's it.

The second mistake? Re-recording songs and making them sound like they were recorded by a pop helloween cover band.

This is terrible. I started of with "future world", one of my favorite helloween songs. Acoustic guitar intro? What? Where was this in the original? I can't even describe how terrible it is. You must hear it for yourself.

The only somewhat listenable song is their homage in "the keeper's trilogy". At least they threw in some orchestration that makes it somewhat interesting.

I don't understand how this album can be a thank you to the fans.

Thank you for what?

Hey thanks for liking helloween, here's a turd.

You wanna thank me? Grab Kiske out of retirement and do a tour. And give me free tickets.

You're welcome.

03 January 2010

Testament to play "The Legacy" in it's entirety

Thrash legends Testament will be playing their 1987 classic "The Legacy" in it's entirety on their upcoming American Carnage Tour with Megadeth & Slayer.

One Word............Amazing!

editorial comment - not amazing? $50 ticket prices and $12 surcharges. Fuck you livenation.

01 January 2010

Mstrkrft - Heartbreaker

Not too bad. Check it out at the hype machine. Mstrkrft - Heartbreaker

Why do people like crappy remixes?

This is NOT good. And those who think it is need a serious lesson in what "good" is.

check it out for yourself. It's 7 Nation Teen Spirit. Nirvana vs. The White Stripes