Thursday, September 30, 2010

Le Noise

Life's like a box of chocolates when it comes to Neil Young, never know what you're going to get. Over the years, he has released a mixture of some incredible mind blowing albums and some down right crappy ones. On top of it, a wide spectrum of musical genres to choose from. So whatever is inside that piece of chocolate is going to be a bit of a surprise.

Knowing this, I have a tenacity to wait awhile before I go out and get a Neil Young record. Why pay a full price for a crappy album? Anyways, this album took me by surprise! I had seen a video on Seano's Circle of Fits and read a review on Isorski's Musings. I was so impressed from was reported that I HAD to get this album! I bought it last night.

Starting off the disc with a bang, the godfather of grunge delivers! The powerhouse riffs of the opening tune"Walk with Me" set me on fire! Here I was, turning up my speakers for the full effect. I could FEEL the grungy fuzz and the feedback. Wondering if the pictures were going fall off of my walls....

The second track, "Sign of Love" is a gorgeous rocker. Beautifully written seemingly about his wife, Peggy. It's about personal as one can get lyrically.

"It's an Angry World" shoots barbs venomously at the world around us. Young just rips and shreds his guitar, overflowing with it feedback and reverb.

My favorite track, The Hitchhiker, took me on a journey from Toronto to California then to Peru. Using drug overtones, Neil chronicles his life-showing his dark side along the path. I just love the melody of this one.

The entire album isn't just one big wall of overdriven amps. There are a couple of soothing moments here. "Love and War" and "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" are both gorgeous lyrically and melodically. They would fit perfectly an acoustic set along side songs like "Sugar Mountain" and "After the Gold Rush"

The most interesting aspect of this album is the absence of any back up band. This are no drums nor bass. No Crazy Horse or the Stray Gators. It's ALL Neil Young and his electric guitar. Don't need them. It may be a bizarre twist, but it works! BRILLIANTLY! Less is more. Without all the excess, its brings you closer to Neil.

Helping Neil Young shine here, is producer Daniel Lanois. He's the guy worked on classic albums like U2's The Joshua Tree and Bob Dylan's Love and Theft.

In my honest opinion, this is the best work from Neil Young since the 1990 release of Ragged Glory. It ranks of there with Rust Never Sleeps, Harvest and After the Gold Rush as one of his finer moments.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Packers Week #3

It's one of those games I'm gonna regret saying anything....In an action filled game, the Packers lost the Chicago Bears 20-17. Here are my thoughts of the game:

The Packers jump started the game looking awesome!
Aaron Rodgers looked brilliant at times reminding me of Brett Farve of his younger days.
At times it looked like either team could win.
The Packers had WAY too many penalties 17 of them! Mostly for stupid things that be avoided.
The game was tied at the end till a last minute field goal by the Bears.

More on the game here.

Now that I've lost a bet, I have wear a Bears t-shirt tomorrow. I hope I don't break out in a rash....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Band of Joy

Since Led Zeppelin's demise in 1980, I've been following Robert Plant's career-watching the roads he has taken. Album after album, like Neil Young in a way, I'm finding it harder and harder to pigeon hole him in any single musical territory. He is always searching, evolving and broadening his horizons. I never what to expect from him.

Same goes this album! The golden god recreates the Band of Joy that enlightens the senses-taking you on a mystical journey though rockability, traditional American folk, and bluegrass-mixing it with old fashioned rock and roll. Many of the songs are traditional or cover tunes. Reworked and refined to a perfection. It may a far cry from the bombardment of Zeppelin's heavy guitars and wailing vocals, yet it retains the feel of the mystery that Zeppelin created. Remember , a good portion of Led Zeppelin's music was acoustic.

Gone are the "Immigrant Song" like vocal ranges. At the age of 62, this ought to be expected. Instead, the aging Percy carefully shows restraint using his pipes to create emotion and provoke thought. I found myself drawn to his voice like a mosquito to a light. I can close my eyes and feel his singing taking away to places that he is searching.

The first single off the album, "Angel Dance" sets into a groove that takes on a catchy melody. A Los Lobos cover tune that is highly contagious. A song that'll make the spirits rise.

Other highlights include "Silver Rider"-a song that starts off mellow and rises up a climatic ending. "You Can't Buy My Love" recalls "Gone, Gone, Gone" from the Raising Sand album. "Cindy (I'll Marry You Someday)" is an acoustical piece that is a reminder of "If I Were a Carpenter" from the Fate of Nations album. "Harm's Swift Way" is a catchy number.

If you're expecting an amps cranked to eleven type of album here, you're not find any such luck. Here Mr. Plant has matured to be a fine singer, a bit mellowed out over the years. He still hasn't lost his integrity, in fact I still think he sounds just as great now as he did in Zeppelin.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alimony, Alimony (Paying Her Bills)

I recently got a text on my phone from my "daughter" saying this-"Can you lend me $150? I need to come with $400 by such and such day for my electric bill that your ex-wife ran up and promised to pay. I have no one to ask." A few minutes later, another text-"She ran the bill up to $700 and I have pay half of that or I'll lose my place". I ignored the text. This is NOTHING new to me. Since my divorce several years ago, I received numerous calls from BOTH my "adopted daughter" and my ex-wife asking me to help them pay for bills, cigarettes, groceries and etc. Not too mention rides...

I don't mind helping people those in need out, but this is getting really, really old. Between the both of them, they owe me a couple of thousand dollars. Neither of them have jobs and live off government programs. They collect disability and food stamps. I even pay child support to my ex-wife.

I have no issues about paying child support, even it is more than 17% of my gross pay. I am the father to my son and it's my responsibility to make sure I pay for some of his needs. It's my duty. I'm sure as hell am not backing down my responsibilities as a DAD. Not only I have joint custody of my kid, I'm VERY much involved in his life. I go to parent-teacher conferences, attend school activities with him, pick him up from school, take him places, and just hang out with him. I love my son.

What kills me is not only I go beyond the call duty as a father, I am asked to pay for school supplies, clothes and many his other needs. Is this what child support is for? Ya think? The state of Wisconsin does not require the mother to record an itemized list of what is paid for the child's needs. The first thing my lawyer said to me when I filed for divorce, "You know damn well your ex-wife is not going spend your child support on your kid, so get over it!" I know... OUCH! That's reality. My ex's budget goes something this rent, food, cigarettes and then her needs. If my son needs new shoes or a haircut, it's MY problem. She KNOWS I'm not going to let son go without what he needs. She's clearly taking advantage of the situation! This is why I call child support alimony.

Over the years I've tightened my grip on the cash flow to her. I no longer hand her money to get my son anything. I'll go get it myself. Phone calls are often ignored. I say "No" more often. Guilt trips no longer work. They are starting to realize I'm not going to answer their beck and call. I have my own life to live! Don't need any more of the drama...

Yeah, the drama. The more I know, the more I don't want to know. Stories of crack addicted boyfriends, the snorting of sleeping pills and Xanax, weed, money issues, moving place to place, violence...I've heard it all....

As I'm writing this, a new drama unfolds... My ex-wife just kicked out some roommates over some food issues. Fights took place. My son's clothes got bleached. Cops were called. Nobody arrested, yet. Now my son is spending the night here, tired of the drama.

This shit has been going on for years...

I know what your thinking. Why don't I just take custody of my son? I wish it was that simple... Wisconsin laws states that unless the child was in an immediate danger or if the parent goes to jail for a real long time, full custody can not be granted. In other words, SOMETHING has to happen to my son before I can get full custody. What I can do, is get primary custody and she would get visitation rights plus PAY child support. Sounds like like grand idea. I highly doubt she'll go for that idea. The big question remains is does my son need to go through the choice of choosing of which parent he'd rather live with? No matter what, he does love his mother. He has been through a divorce already, why put put him through more bullshit of having him choose?

As of this point, my decision is getting clearer. Things are going to get UGLY....

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Packers Week #2

The Green Bay Packers won again against the Buffalo Bills 34-7 Makes their record 2-o for the season so far.

My thoughts on the game:
The Packers looked great going into the game overpowering the Bills to -2 yards
The Bills took over the game during second quarter, holding the Packers to nil.
For the rest of the game, it's was ALL Packers.
Packers defense sacked the Bills' QB four times and he was intercepted twice
The Bills have no passing game.

More on the game here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Red Velvet Car

After seeing Heart twice in concert, one could guess that I'm a Heart fan. So it be no surprise that I RAN to the store to get this album when it was released! First album of new materiel since 2004's Jupiter's Darling, Red Velvet Car proves to be a worthy of wait! This album could possibly be their best since 1980's Bebe la Strange. That's saying a lot!

Returning back to the roots of the heyday of the 7o's, the Wilson Sisters and company will rock you breathless and memorize you with their folkish ballads. The album starts out with the intense acoustic "There You Go" before slamming into the all out rocker of "WTF" Title track "Red Velvet Car" reminds me of "Dog & Butterfly"-simply gorgeous. "Queen City" is an homage to their hometown of Seattle. Nancy Wilson offers her seductive voice to the country flavored "Hey You".

The album gets better at this point! "Wheels" proves that Heart can still rock like barracudas. My favorite track, "Safronia's Mark" begins with a mandolin laden lush that builds to climatic ending. Grunge like rocker "Death Valley" tells about the life on the road and the "bad trips" we take in life. In the beautiful "Sunflower" Nancy writes to her sister Ann with some touching lyrics. The closing number "Sand" is a retake of what they did in the Lovemongers. I believe I heard that song the last time I saw Heart last summer. It was a dedication to Micheal Jackson, who had died the day before.

Only a shell of the original band remain. Sisters Ann and Nancy are still taking the reigns while newcomers guitarist Ben Mink and bassist Ric Markmann fill in the vital places. Ben Smith rejoins on the drums. Long time member Howard Leese left in 1997 and now touring with Bad Company.

I highly recommend this album! ....Even if you are not a Heart fan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Packers Week #1

My beloved Green Bay Packers just beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 this afternoon. Here are my thoughts of the game:

Packers looked sluggish early in the game, but turned up the heat as the game went on.
The Eagles under Eagles' rookie quarterback Kevin Kolb looked helpless.
Kevin Kolb left the game at half time due to a concussion
The Eagles looked much better when Micheal "Dogbeater" Vick took over at QB.
The Packers' defensive back Matthew Clay and cornerback Charles Wooden kicked ass.
QB Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Greg Jennings make a great team.
Packers running back Ryan Grant went down after two impressive runs totaling 39 yards.

More on the game here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scenes from Shawano

This summer, I spent some time traveling Up North visiting family and friends. During this five hour drive is a pit stop in Shawano. Shawano is a city about 37 miles northwest of Green Bay. It has a population of 8,300. It's not a big city by any means, but it retains that small town feel I enjoy and love.

Historical marker

Shawano Lake

Statue in downtown Shawano

Ferris wheel at Shawano County Fair

BTW Mr. Biggie D-It's pronounced Sha-No, not Sha Wano :P

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fantasy Football

For the third year in a row now, I signed up for Fantasy Football at Joining my fellow Irregulars for another round of excitement and fun! My team, the Racine Irregulars, has a bunch a good players. Wide receivers Greg Jennings, Randy Moss and DeSean Jackson, running backs Joseph Addai and Shonn Greene, tight end Tony Gonzalez, kicker Sebastian Janikowski and the San Fransisco defense are on my roster. I'm hoping to replace Jay Cutler as my quarterback. All of these picks were auto-drafted.

This year I'm hoping to do better than the previous two. The first year I made the playoffs and came in forth or fifth place. Not bad for a newbie at the game. Last year I bottomed out due out of state trips and personal issues. By the end of the season, I had let it go. Not this year! Recharged and refreshed, I plan on kicking some butt.

This week, I go against my good friend from Tuscan, hale-bopp. His team, the Half-Astrophysicists, is looking good! Wish me luck!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rock and Roll Landmarks in L.A.

Part two of my Los Angeles blogs. While having a good time getting lost in Los Angeles, we visited some famous rock and roll landmarks.

The Whisky-A-Go-Go on the corner of Sunset and Clark. Founded in 1964, this establishment was immortalized in the song by the Miracles "Going to a Go Go" (later covered by the Rolling Stones). Arguably, The Whisky was the birthplace of the LA music scene. Southern California rock bands like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Love were regulars there. The Doors was the house band for a while. British rock bands like the Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and the Kinks made their first headliners there.

Over the years, diverse acts such as Quiet Riot, the Police, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Blondie, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, the Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Soundgarden and many others played there.

The Rainbow Bar and Grill on the Sunset. Founded in 1972. This restaurant was a popular hangout for many celebrities, rock stars and their groupies. The late John Belushi ate his last meal here.Some notable regulars here were John Lennon, Keith Moon, Led Zeppelin, Grace Slick, Ringo Starr, Janis Joplin, Alice Cooper and Elvis Presley.

The Roxy Theatre on the Sunset (next door to the Rainbow). Founded in 1973. This famous nightclub was the host to so many acts such as-Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Genesis, Neil Young, David Bowie, Nirvana, Motley Crue, Guns n' Roses, Van Morrison, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Zappa, Dire Straits, Them Crooked Vultures, Foo Fighters are among them.

Andaz West Hollywood 8401 Sunset Bvld. Formerly the Continental Hyatt Hotel. The hotel was favored many traveling rock bands like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the Who for it's close proximity for the local nightclubs. Infamous stories of television sets tossed from balconies and motorcycles driven in hallways came from here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Distrubuted in L.A.

After reading Music Obsessive's post on record labels, I got inspired to do some blogs about the sights in Los Angeles. I know what you're thinking-WTF? When I was there a year ago we visited many of the rock and roll sights including record companies. This two part series will take you on a journey where the music and magic is real. This part is more or less about the record companies we saw...

The distributor for Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Van Halen, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Prince, Van Morrison, Doobie Brothers, R.E.M. and others

The distributor for Led Zeppelin, Foreigner, Genesis, Yes, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stones, Emerson Lake & Palmer and many others....

Artists like the Eagles, the Doors, MC5, Tim Buckley, Queen, Metallica, Phish, Bob Dylan and many others were talked about behind these doors....

This strange looking building was the headquarters for greats like the Beatles, the Band, Pink Floyd, Bob Segar, Heart, Blondie, Sammy Hagar, Blind Melon and many others!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Cosmos Rock

This is one of discs I picked out at the library. My first thought when getting this one was, "Yeah, I remember hearing some of this stuff from a movie I saw a while ago" (I had won tickets from a blog) I liked what I heard. My second thought of some the lukewarm reviews I've read on this album.

The naysayers say that original vocalist Freddie Mercury can't be replaced. I'll give them that. Freddie can't be replaced no matter what. I've heard covers of "Somebody to Love" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" and just cringe hearing someone else singing off key to these classics.

Bad Company's vocalist Paul Rodgers isn't by any means a Freddie Mercury. Not even close. It's like comparing apples to oranges. So why try? So I decided to take away the Freddy Mercury Factor and look at it from a different angle. The results surprised me!

My first initial thought was it sounds closer to Bad Company than it does to Queen. Yet, it does retain some of Queen's formula. Think of it as a blending of Queen and Bad Company! Queen Company if you want to call it...

This a diverse album covering a variety of sounds. Tunes like "Small" and "We Believe" reminds me of Bad Co.'s "Seagull" and Firm's "Live in Peace"-complete with killer acoustic guitar by Brian May. "Call Me" reminds me of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" "Still Burnin'" has got some great harmonics. "C-Lebrity", written by drummer Roger Taylor is a surefire hit. The biggest surprise was "Voodoo" , a blues number. I don't think I ever heard Brain May play the blues before. He pulls it off quite well!

Paul's voice is sharp and soulful as ever. He doesn't sound like he's aged at all! Brian's guitar is more prevalent on this album that many other ones I've heard. It's more free flowing and the solos are a little longer. Rodger drums are sharp as ever!

If you are a Queen and/or Bad Company fan, I recommend getting this album. It may not be as great of a classic album as say, A Night at the Opera or Bad Company's debut, but it sure hold it's own. Just remember, just keep Freddie Mercury out of it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School

School is now back in session here in Racine after a summer of fun and games. My 13 year old son returns back, now in the 8th grade. My God, time flies! It seems like yesterday he was in the backyard burying his Hot Wheels in the sandbox. Watching him grow has been amazing. Now when I look at him, we see eye to eye. At 5' 11", He's almost as tall as me! No longer a little kid anymore, he's built like linebacker. I keep wondering why he doesn't sign up for football. (He prefers art, music and video games) His wisdom and the way he perceives astonishes me. Sometimes I have to look at him twice and say to myself, "Where did he come up with these thoughts?" He is an observant kid...Gotta love him.