The Melding of Two Loves

Outside my family and friends, I have two passions: music, which I think is a given, and the Buffalo Sabres hockey organization. I’m a fan of the sport, but the Sabres are “my” team.

That being said, yes–I’m *extremely* stoked with what Terry Pegula plans to do with the team. He’s already shown his commitment to making the organization a world-class place to play in removing the old locker room carpet and replacing it with new carpet with the logo emblazoned into it. It looks great.

One of the other changes that they’re planning on making is to the theme music of the pre-game show. I don’t know the name of the band who plays the intro to the Sabres broadcast, but it sounds like the Buzzcocks. All distorted guitar, and that’s it. Not a bad version, but … I don’t know. I guess it’s getting stale.

Rumor has it that they’re replacing it with a new song–something more classy. Wanna hear it? I’ll do ya one better. Watch it.

I present to you Vanessa Mae–violinist extraordinaire:

EH?! Yah? See that? Sabres new pre-game them song. Filed under “shiver” for the goosebump-inducing chills.

She has plenty of CDs to pick up. My favorite is her rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. She makes “Winter: Allegro non Molto” sizzle.

Mother Nature and Devestation

Last night, I passed out on our couch watching “Bones.” My wife and I love that show! My intent was to write a post after the show was over, but instead, I fell asleep. Erg.

So I woke up early and came in to work, hoping to knock out a short Friday. As is my custom, I came in and checked email. I had one from a co-worker whose travelling in Australia, informing us of the earthquake that hit Japan. Wondering what the scope of the earthquake is, I checked out msnbc.com’s website. The pictures have changed, as has the banner news headline, but the message was the same: 8.9 earthquake rocks north east Japan; tsunamis are devestating coastal areas.

The imagery is shocking. Even the Indonesian earthquake from December 2004 didn’t have this much coverage. The advances in technology in those short 6 years have granted us unprecedented coverage of the destruction taking place–many of which looked like they were live feeds from various sister news sites overseas.

As you all know, this blog is supposed to be about music in various and many aspects. Today … no. Today, this post and possibly others are dedicated to two topics: my condolences to any who lose loved ones due to the quake and/or tsunamis; the incredible, awesome power of mother nature.

Now … by “awesome,” I do not mean “wicked cool!” or “Holy shit, did you see that insane earthquake in Japan?!” By “awesome,” I mean the dictionary definition of “awe.” I can’t watch the videos and see the pictures without being completely taken aback by the sheer force and power behind the earthquake and tsunamis. It blows me away that our planet’s crust is a) only about 20 miles thick, b) that crust is made up of plates that shift and roll around–sometimes with extreme violence, as evidenced today.

Google Earth already had the earthquake labeled and iconed, along with about 50+ OTHER earthquakes since the initial 8.9 temblor. Most of those were 6.0 aftershocks. AFTERSHOCKS. AT 6.0 or greater?! Shit … you couldn’t pay me to live there.

As I said, my heart, prayers and thoughts are with those who are being impacted personally by this quake. Loss of life is always hard to hear about. The size of this quake … I’m scared to see what the totals will end up being. My wife and I have friends living in Japan. Thankfully, they got on Facebook and let us all know that they’re safe. That brought a huge amount of relief to me personally … but it doesn’t lessen the impact of the situation. If anything, it sharply puts in focus others’ losses, and it makes me incredibly sad.

And now … the flip-side of the coin. In my building at work, we have a little latino lady who cleans our floor–vacuums, takes out the trash, dusts … and she’s just the friendliest little old lady. Such a sweetheart. So every day that she stops by to empty my trash can, we talk the best we can in her broken English and my mangled Spanish. The other day, I told her about my headaches because she said (again, in her broken English), “You no look so good …” It made me laugh. I tried explaining that I never look good, but I don’t think I got it quite right. ANYway, so today, she stopped by to pick up the garbage. She told me that her father is coming from … somewhere. Not sure where. Not important. She continued on to explain that he’s bringing some cream for pain, and that she’s going to bring some for me. How’s that for a feel-good story?! Here we have all this destruction and death, and in the middle of it all, she takes time out of her day to ask about my back and offers to bring me some pain cream. Damn it all if that isn’t just the nicest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time.

You know what that means? It means I get to pay it forward. Not sure how I’m gonna do it, but by crapola, I am.

I’m completely at a loss. That totally made my day. I’m … I’m floored.

Lunch break over. Getting in at 5:30 am has its perks: early lunch, early leave …

Whatever your personal belief–whether its in a higher power, God, karma, universal power … keep these good people of Japan in your thoughts and prayers. They need it badly right now.

Hooray!

Oh holy hell. Figured out the severe back pain issue. Ironically, I have to sit in it right now to type this post, but yah–the computer chair totally leans to the right. It’s seriously jacking up my back. If I sit in it for more than 5 mintues at a time, my lower back flares up and gets all sore. So … new desk chair in the works. Good riddance.

Ugh. More later. This back thing is killing me.

Don’t Follow

There are times that I enjoy writing a ton. The subject alone is my drug of choice. I’m addicted to learning about new bands and discovering new music. I scour the web in search of bands, blogs, and whatever I can get my hands on.

Tonight is not one of those times …

It is with a bitter sense of irony that my drug of choice leads me to the heart-wrenching news of Mike Starr’s untimely passing here in Utah. He–the original bassist of Alice in Chains–was found dead today in a house in Salt Lake of an apparent overdose on prescription drugs.

What saddens me the most is that he struggled mightily with this addiction, to the point where he had a spot on some celebrity rehab show to hopefully help him kick his addiction. Obviously, that didn’t pan out so well. Where was the love? the support? the help?

I know of one tweeter who I stumbled across while reading various twitter posts about how he and AIC’s music meant so much to so many. He specifically reached out TO HER to help her with her addiction. He tried to help others overcome their demons. This is the kind of soul that was taken from the earth today.

I’m not here to judge. It’s not my place to say how hard he did or didn’t try … mainly because a) it simply isn’t my place to judge, and b) I have no idea how hard he tried. But shit like this burns me up so much because ANY addiction is pure poison–be it heroin, pain killers … music ….. that which you cannot overcome has the potential to destroy you–physically, mentally, spiritually, psychologically … but beyond the self-inflicted is the pain that is felt by everyone within whatever spheres you find yourself. Or would find yourself, were you not so totally and utterly into whatever it is that weighs upon you.

Mike was taken from us way too early. 44 is a ridiculously young age. His talent on bass was undeniable. Want proof? Listen to “I Stay Away” off of Jar of Flies. One of my favorite bass lines of all time. Or “Would” and “Rain When I Die” from Dirt. Amazing bass lines. He PLAYED. He didn’t go all Les Claypool or Flea on his instrument; he made that bass purr and croon.

It’s sad. He was a hell of a bass player. I wish him well in the after life.

RIP, Mike.

 

New Music Monday

So I got some new CDs. Not a ton–just some. Here’s the list:

  • Elefant – Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid
  • The Good, The Bad and the Queen
  • New Roman Times – On the Sleeve
  • Copperpot – Chapter Seven
  • Killswitch Engage – As Daylight Dies

Great CDs. Good mix, too. Killswitch Engage isn’t at all what I thought it would be, since I found it in the Indie section, but whatever. Still a great find. Heavier than I anticipated.

 

Where Were They Then?

Okay, sorry for the ridiculously awful post title, but after you check out the vids, you’ll see why.

We all know Trent Reznor is the driving force behind Nine Inch Nails. Have you heard of Slam Bamboo? No? Don’t worry … not to many people have. So imagine my surprise when a Google search popped up this video.

I almost feel sorry for the guy, ya know? Surrounded by … that? And he’s … he’s Trent Reznor. It just cracks me up. Well, we all have to start somewhere.

Just ask Maynard.

It makes you wonder how these quantum leaps are made. Going from a new wave band to the industrial music king? And how do you transform from a Richard Simmons leotard to Tool?! Cracks me up. Hey … we all have to start somewhere, right?

Sorry for the semi-lame post. I’m still battling a wicked headache/back ache combo that’s kicking my ass from here to Asia. I used to get these with alarming frequency, but they dissipated for about 2 years. This week, they’ve come raging back, and it’s severely pissing me off. No amount of Advil helps. I’m contemplating going to the doctor and getting some heavier help, but I’d rather avoid that if at all possible.

Anyway, thanks for reading!

Glad To Be Back

Sorry for the absence the last couple of days. A bit about me: I get *wicked* serious tension headaches and back aches, to the point where they’re actually debilitating. I’ve been hospitalized for these in the past for the most severe cases–twice in about 20 years, but still … having to go to the hospital because of a headache is kind of ridiculous. Fortunately, I’ve discovered some techniques to combat these without having to check myself in at the local emergency room. Yesterday and Thursday though … holy crap. It felt like hundreds of knives were digging into my shoulders, middle back …

and of coures, after that HUGE Sabres win against the Flyers IN PHILLY isn’t helping me any. Too much cheering, jumping, thrashing and celebrating. Okay, maybe not TOO much of any of that cuz hey–how is there too much celebrating when the win is THAT huge?!

Anyway, now you know the reason for being in abesntia for the last couple of days. And now, back to your regularly scheduled post.

So I actually started writing this around 7 am. I was up, I hadn’t written in what seemed like forever, so I thought I’d jump in. The first thing I did was hit my “Stumble” button and see what popped up. This is what greeted me. If you’re a Van Halen fan, this … this may hurt to read. Not in a painful, “Kill me now; my life is over” kind of way … but in a “Dude. Dude …” kind of way. Read it, then come back.

All done? See what I mean? I mean, even if you’re not a VH fan, that’s still tragic. There is hardly a honest to goodness musician who would not tell you that Eddie Van Halen was a virtuoso with the guitar. He innovated some playing techniques that were simply out of this world. He constantly tweaked his sound and tinkered with different ways to get different noises. My favorite was finding out that he used an actual drill on his strings to achieve the sound at the beginning of “Poundcake.”

You’ll notice that the video is from the 1991 MTV awards. This was the opening performance, and did it ever set the tone for the rest of the evening. There were a ridiculous number of amazing performances from just that show. Queensryche performing what I consider to be the best live version of “Silent Lucidity” ever; Guns & Roses performing “Live and Let Die“; Metallica performing “Enter Sandman“; L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out“; EMF performing “Unbelievable” … of course, there were some “less than” performances too, like Mariah Carey doing some stupid ditty, so it wasn’t all highlights. But man.

Yah, that Queensryche performance was just mind-blowing back then. Even this evening when I watched it for the first time in probably 19-20 years, it floored me how pure and precise Geoff Tate’s voice was then. Even today he can still belt it out. I saw another video of him and a couple of the other band members doing “Killing Words” from an acoustic set in May 2008. NAILED it. As if he had just recorded Rage for Order and decided to do an in-store performance for kicks. There are few voices in music that hold more power than his.


Happy Birthday, Dr. Theodor Geisel

When I was growing up, my mom always got me Dr. Seuss books. I loved reading about Whos and Sneetches, and I was just as afraid of the green pants as anyone. Yertle deserved to be knocked down a few pegs!

Anyone who reads those books now as an adult can clearly see the stories for what they are/were: social messages and commentaries. Look at Yertle the Turtle. The comparison between him and Quadaffi is almost disturbingly parallel. As of this writing, he is still in charge of Libya, though the uprising is getting to the point of insurmountable. The UN is looking to take a stand against him and his regime. Meanwhile, he climbs on the backs of his fellow countrymen and rakes in millions and millions. He is Yertle.

Dr. Seuss’ books were beloved by children for their wackiness and far-out stories. Adults love his books for the still-applicable messages: Yaxes can still learn to work with each other and come to an agreement; and who cares if bellies have “stars upon thars”? We’re all the same, and until we treat each other like we are, we’ll always have some ridiculous stigmatized stereotype. And we’ll pay inordinate amounts of money TO BE THAT SNEETCH. Look at Charlie Sheen. Actually, you know what? Don’t. He’s a poor example of just about everything. 🙂

I know this post isn’t music-related, but Dr. Geisel and his writings transcend music. They transcend music, sports, movies … his writings are not some frivilous pop-schlock to be taken lightly; his were masterfully, perfectly, and geniusly written stories that speak volumes about our culture. By “our,” I mean humanity’s existence–not a particular race, or ethnicity, or whatever. We are humans. We are eternal; all this pain is an illusion.

Ha! There! I tied music into the post. Can anyone guess how? 🙂

Anyway, I’m off to celebrate in a most Seussian way: we’re making green eggs and … well, sausage, since it’s what we have, and the girls love it. Truthfully, I prefer it over ham, too, even though I *love* ham. That should say something about sausage.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Geisel. Thank you for your wonderful stories and your unique vision and ability to create fantastical worlds in which to tell your tales.

The Various Voices of Hoover(phonic)

Up until today, I thought that Geike Arnaert was the only singer Hooverphonic ever had. I was wrong. Pleasantly wrong, at that.

Their original lead singer now goes by Suzanina, but on  A New Sterephonic Sound Spectacular, she went by Liesje Sadonius. A quick Google search finds that she has a 4-track release, Heavenly Juice. I can’t find a CD for it on any of the normal CD-selling sites, but it’s on Amazon and iTunes. The title is perfect for the music. It reminds me of the first time I had a fresh off-the-tree peach. Nothing store-bought or chemically treated, this peach was succulent, flavorful and alive. Eating it was the closest thing I could imagine to fruit-utopia. Suzanina’s music reminds me of the peach. It’s just as succulent, the music explodes on my ears like the peach juice on my tastebuds, and it really is just that heavenly to listen to. To quote my wife as she’s sitting behind me playing Tetris on her phone, “Man … you really do find some cool music.” Yes I do, sweetie. Yes I do. 🙂

Did you know that Geike Arnaert has moved on from Hooverphonic? I mean, I knew … but did you? She’s working on solo material that isn’t going to be out for a while, but I’m excited to see what she comes up with. She didn’t have a very large role contributing to Hooverphonic other than her vocals (but what she did contribute was divine), so what she comes up with musically is leaving me extremely curious. Her site is “currently under construction,” so keep an eye out for when it comes back up.

Meanwhile, Hooverphonic is alive and well. With the departure of Geike, they picked up Noemie Wolfs. They released The Night Before in Europe late last year. Amazon has imports, but that’s it. Truthfully, this CD probably won’t appeal to the Blue Wonder Powder Milk Hooverphonic fans, but make no mistake about it–this CD is good. Unfortunately, that’s about all that can be said for it. It’s definitely more organic and stripped down than past Hooverphonic CDs. In place of synthesizers and keyboards, we’re given pianos, actual guitars and strings. It’s not a bad combo, but it’s such a departure from the group who, for 12 years, has been giving us sound-sampled synth-pop. To shift gears like this is almost the equivalent of throwing the car in reverse and backing away from where they should be heading.

Ahh … but there’s the rub. I’m putting my expectations of what I think the band should be producing. And make no mistake about it–I am most definitely not in the band. If I were to listen to this CD without a band name attached to it, I would definitely rate it higher than I currently do with the Hooverphonic brand affixed. Which kind of makes me question my rating system. I mean, that’s a total bias. And I really need to leave that at the door.

Anyway, there ya go. Hooverphonic. Gotta love ’em.

http://www.amazon.com/Heavenly-Juice/dp/B003TXQG58/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1299036105&sr=8-1

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