Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Top 11 Albums of 2011 & Then Some

This is not a purely metal list, just records that really stuck out for me in 2011.

1. The Kills - Blood Pressures - Ridiculously sensual, bluesy, diva-esque. This record is exquisite.
2. Pentagram - Last Rites - Groovy doom goodness. Metal in its most classic form.
3. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light - The first Foo album I've ever enjoyed. Undeniable hooks.
4. Mastodon - The Hunter - Far more loose than its predecessor, love hearing their Southern roots come to the forefront.
5. Red Fang - Murder the Mountains - Red Fang's refinement and hook-laden compositions continue to impress.
6. Cave In - White Silence - A perfect balance of their primal and prog sounds. Can't wait for more.
7. Hail!Hornet - Disperse the Curse - This supergroup of Southern-fried crustcore vets is better than your average vanity side project.
8. Revocation - Chaos of Forms - Blistering; riff-tastic with refined production.
9. YOB - Atma - Earthy, rapturous, rumbling doom metal.
10. The Duke Spirit - Bruiser - Clearly I have a thing for sultry sounding female-fronted bands from the UK.
11. Tombs - Path of Totality - Believe the hype.
Pretty Damn Good (in no particular order):

400 Blows - Sickness and Health
Deafheaven - Roads to Judah
This is Hell - Black Mass
Trapped Under Ice - Big Kiss Goodnight
Hank III - Ghost to a Ghost
Evile - Five Serpent's Teeth
Black Tusk - Set the Dial
Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination
Fuck the Facts - Die Miserable
Brutal Truth - End Time
Touche Amore - Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
Krallice - Diotima
Trap Them - Darker Handcraft
Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual
Beth Ditto - EP

Who Knew?
Bitch is awesome. The Be My Slave & Damnation Alley reissues that Metal Blade put out kicked my ass. Raw & rotten, just the way I like it.

Ridiculous Guilty Pleasures:
Britney Spears - Femme Fatale
Vampires Everywhere! - Kiss the Sun Goodbye
Pitbull - Planet Pit


Landmine Marathon - Gallows
Young Widows - In and Out of Youth and Lightness

Not Into It:
Hammers of Misfortune - 17th Street- Not my steez at all. It sounds like RenFaire music.
Opeth - Heritage - Not into jazz fusion.
Ghost - Opus Eponymous - Not really into Blue Oyster Cult.

Didn't Bother Listening To:
Metallica & Lou Reed - Lulu - Not a single note. Not a single preview.
Anthrax - Worship Music

Haven't Had a Chance to Listen To Yet:
Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations
Mournful Congregation - The Book of Kings
Black Keys - El Camino
The Atlas Moth - An Ache for a Distance
TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
Okkervil River - Your Past Life as a Blast

*Blame the NYC earthquake.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Metal Suckfest Hits NYC This Weekend

My bros at are throwing their inaugural full-scale music festival, The Metal Suckfest.

Set to go down this weekend at New York City's Gramercy Theatre, the two-night affair will feature headliners Municipal Waste and Cynic, plus heavyweights like God Forbid, Today is the Day, Obscura, The Red Chord, Black Tusk, Fight Amp and a ton of others.

And unlike most music festivals, this one won't leave you without weed money. Get tickets now, or pick them up at the door. I expect to see y'all there for the cred alone. #mosh

For more on the Metal Suckfest, check out their site.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Top Five Most Memorable Concerts

Click for larger view.

At this point, it's fair to say I've been to a lot of concerts. After recently watching the Wetlands Preserved documentary and finding it difficult to recall a specific highlight from the blur of shows I attended at the eponymous club, I challenged myself to come up with the top five favorite concerts of my youth without reference or research, completely biased by the transcendent experiences I had. (In fairness, too, the hazy Wetlands memories could've have had something to the club's liberal smoking policy.)

Nine Inch Nails @ Webster Hall, 5/13/94
My initial impression of this show was seeing the generator they used to power it parked in the middle of E11th Street. How loud was this going to get? Once perched in the balcony, the intense experience played out more like movie scene about a concert than a real gig. Violently running through material from Pretty Hate Machine, Broken and the freshly released Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails was in its raw prime. Dancers writhed on poles, a barrage of strobe lights created trippy illusions, and the balcony shook so hard that I feared it would give out. On Friday the 13th. Trent Reznor was never quite so fuckable ever again.

[Bonus: "The Only Time"]

Jane's Addiction @ Madison Square Garden, 4/24/91
To this day, I don't think any band has ever made a room as big as MSG seem so warm and intimate. Still at the height of their Ritual de lo Habitual popularity, the forefathers of alternative rock recreated the theme of the album—including a huge mural depicting the cover—through a red-hued stage set resplendent with stringed lights and carpets. That freed up the band to dive head-first into a set comprised of "Stop!" "Jane Says" and "Ocean Size" while connecting with the audience in a wholly organic way. Singing along with the majority of the crowd for the entirety of "Three Days" was epic, as was their steel tub drum circle interlude (really!). Good practice for the inaugural Lollapalooza festival a few months later.

Testament & White Zombie @ The Ritz, 8/1/92
Still very much a teenager, this was the first show at which I rode the crowd—during "Alone in the Dark," no less. Surfing through the pit produced an unforgettable sensation of momentary weightlessness, almost as if I was being guided by the song's sinuous Egyptian guitar scales. Coddled during the pre-Limp Bizkit era, male concertgoers hadn't yet started taking it as an opportunity to molest women en masse. And White Zombie were still a local band.

The Ramones @ Roseland Ballroom, 11/10/92
I'd never experienced a concert by a band with such universal appeal before this. Though it was incredible to see the Ramones play a rapid fire greatest-hits set (and if I recall correctly, "Spider-Man"), the people watching was nearly as stunning. The local stalwarts had an innate ability to pull a wide cross-section of NYC's populace out of the woodwork to see them play. Alongside me were skinheads, punk rockers, metalheads in Manowar back patches, pals from junior high school, various freaks, a former camp counselor, supermodels, and 60+ year old women with fur coats over their shoulders. If you wanted to bump into anyone from your past, a Ramones show would have been your best bet. Nowadays, it's Motorhead.

Slayer @ Anytime, Any town, Anyplace
Slayer is up there with sex and pizza—even when things are a little bit off, they're still pretty good. But if I had to choose, I'd say their most momentous shows were on their Undisputed Attitude run. Slayer had a two-night stint at Irving Plaza in early August 1996 and because they were pimping their superb covers record, they padded several cuts into their sets, including Verbal Abuse's "I Hate You," T.S.O.L's "Abolish Government" and Minor Threat's "Guilty of Being White." Leaving the show, sweaty and bruised, my friend and devoted punk rocker Louhawk turned to me and reveled, "Dude, we just saw Slayer play Minor Threat." The bewildered and consummate look on his face said it all.

[Bonus: "Filler"]

PS: This meme is truth.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Message From Cliff Burton's Dad

Too sweet not to share. I'm sure all parents who had the misfortune of burying their child would want their memories to live on, internationally revered, immortal in their convictions and talent.

This one's for you, Cliff. Can't believe it's been a quarter of a century since your passing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Some Things I Take Seriously... Like Opeth

On Monday, I had no plans to see Opeth and Katatonia over their two-night stint at Webster Hall. But the latter's publicist made me an offer I couldn't refuse... so there I was, interviewing Katatonia for backstage during the headliner's set when one of my most beloved songs, "Face of Melinda," began.

In my head, I kept thinking, 'It's OK, you've seen them do it live before.' But in reality, it wasn't. So I thank Brian Rocha for trying to hook me up with the second show so I could hear it. Below is our text message exchange. And thanks to Opeth and Katatonia for both putting on such compelling performances. Someone needs to make a best-of reel of Mikael Akerfeldt's hilarious between-song banter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Slayer Post of the Week

It still blows my mind that a week ago today, I witnessed Slayer live at Yankee Stadium. It's been a few years since they toured through medium-sized venues, and I'm not a huge fan of arenas. Yankee Stadium, though? That was history in the making. And though everyone is surely sick of Big Four coverage, I just couldn't help posting this drum-cam view video. Look at all those metalheads!

BTW: Dave Lombardo is the only member of the band I choose to be Facebook friends with.

Monday, September 19, 2011

RIP Emo's Outside... The Beginning of the End

The Melvins @ Emo's Outside, 11/17/06. Photo by Mikey Brick

Even though it's roughly 1,500 miles away from New York City, Austin's Emo's club has always felt like a second home. Located on Sixth Street and Red River, the music venue has been the linchpin of the downtown scene since 1992, with a large outdoor space (replete with smoke-friendly bleachers) connected to a smaller indoor club via spacious outdoor drinking area, known for its diverse nightly bookings and psychedelic pop art decor. Everyone important—and not so important—has played Emo's. I've forgotten seeing more bands there than I can probably remember, but one particularly epic Melvins show a few years back serves as my favorite.

And now, after catching dozens of shows there, hosting several HIGH TIMES parties, drinking countless Shiners, and two bartender make-out buddies, Emo's on Red River is slowly closing down. This past Saturday, a show by Death From Above 1979 marked the outside stage's last concert. Though the inside space will remain open a little while longer, it too will shut down and the Emo's operation will relocate to Emo's East on East Riverside Drive, which I'm told is the same space once occupied by the Back Room (true story - I once saw Yngwie Malmsteen play there during SxSW).

Downtown won't be the same. I'm bummed, y'all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Big Four... and Hating on Metallica

I probably talked shit about Metallica for a full week before the Big Four concert at Yankee Stadium, even though I'd long secured a good seat for the show. And damn it, I felt entitled to. No band—not even U2—have managed to pull such an incredible 180-degree about-face in their values and ethos.

Believe me, I fully affirm Metallica's capitalist right to go modern-day DIY and fly their own G5 plane around. But I don't support the notion that when they tour Europe, they camp out at the Four Seasons in Paris and fly back there every night from around the continent. Just imagine their carbon footprint. And how silly it is that a band that once abhorred music videos now sells "All Nightmare Long" light switch plates on their website?

It all started so innocently. In my early 'tween days, Metallica were my stars, my moon, my galaxy. I first became aware of them in an issue of Hit Parader, thinking these guys must've been really good to be that ugly yet manage to take editorial pages away from Motley Crue and Poison. I sought out their back catalog, and it was love from there on out—until I discovered punk rock as a high school junior. Then sometime between their suddenly suspicious appeal to local guidos via the Black Album and their attack on Napster, I opted out completely.

Did my initiation make me inherently hate their latter day work? Absolutely not. Metallica and I both aged and evolved, albeit in different directions. And that's within both of our rights. I've often thought about the fact that Jesus Lizard's Goat came out the same year as the Black Album, and how different my musical preferences could have been had I discovered them in 1991. That said, I salute Metallica's 30-year longevity and worldwide success.

And then I made my way to the Bronx. The near seven-hour concert began at 4:00pm, and the wraparound lines to get in foretold my company for the day, 54,000+ BMI-challenged metal fans wearing a nearly split amount of Metallica and Slayer T-shirts. The first of the Big Four, Anthrax, were already onstage and despite having the home team advantage, churned out a sonically flaccid performance to a quarter-packed stadium that included oldies like "Metal Thrashing Mad," "I Am The Law" and "Indians," with its irresistible "Waaaaar Dance" breakdown. I never thought I'd miss John Bush so much.

Next up were Megadeth. In the days prior to the show, rumors percolated that there was a chance they wouldn't play given leader Dave Mustaine's neck injury. Soon related stories emerged, from Exodus booking flights as replacements (I would've preferred Testament) to having ambulances on standby to escort the cantankerous ginger straight to the hospital for surgery immediately following their set. Mustaine ultimately pulled through and performed a nearly triumphant set, at times looking visibly in pain. Though some complained about their set list—not enough off of Peace Sells... But Who's Buying, too much newer material—I thoroughly enjoyed Megadeth. They were technical, precise and riveting when playing "Holy Wars," "Hangar 18," "Peace Sells" and "Symphony of Destruction." Even with his health on the line, Mustaine still managed to make a few political statements. To that end, playing "Foreclosure of a Dream" instead of "A Tout Le Monde" would have been more apt. Get well soon, Dave. Sorry for all the schadenfreude.

As dusk set in, Slayer finally emerged and then came the moment I'd been waiting for: to hear the "Slayer!" chant echoing throughout Yankee Stadium by the thick crowd and all the sweet subversion it brought. By far, Slayer were the loudest, the best sounding and the most relentless act of the day. Even the New York Times couldn't front on the fact that they blew Metallica off the stage. Bathed in red lights, their hour-long performance was a well-concocted greatest hit selection that plowed through "Chemical Warfare," "Dead Skin Mask," "Mandatory Suicide," "Disciple," "Silent Scream" and my beloved "War Ensemble." Not even the absence of guitarist Jeff Hanneman (Exodus' Gary Holt subbed and did a fantastic job) deterred from their laser focus. No bullshit, all pounding metal. I headbanged. To quote a first time witness: "I was waiting for Satan himself to show up."

It was nearly time for Metallica. Surveying the packed house before their set gave me a proud feeling, reminiscent of my very first concert—the Headbanger's Ball Tour '89 at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum, featuring Helloween, Exodus and Anthrax—and how it awed me to be surrounded by so many like-minded people who understood all the ostracizing and prejudice that came along with having "different" musical tastes and wearing black T-shirts emblazed with skulls.

Despite the nostalgia, I wondered how many songs I'd manage to last through. Four? Less? The majesty of Metallica opening with "Creeping Death," followed by "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Ride the Lightning," could not be denied. But during "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" something happened. I found myself disconnected and unmoved, associating the song with its ominous presence in the Paradise Lost documentary, rather than the track on Master of Puppets that exposed the band's fervid side and completely drew me in. And quite frankly, after seeing Some Kind of Monster, it was difficult to ignore the connection between psycho-speak and James Hetfield's whole "Do you feel good? We want to make you feel better!" banter. That was the moment it crystallized that any emotional connection to the Metallica "tribe" I once had was gone forever.

Though I'm glad I caught the second-ever live performance of "Orion" on my way out (I hope y'all have realized that Robert Trujillo is by FAR the coolest dude in the band these days), it disappointed me to learn that the last two songs of Metallica's main set—the marquee, signature songs they saved for last—were "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman." [And seriously, did "Blackened" need the accompanying laser show? The fucking song is called "BLACKENED."] Still, considering I stayed for 10 whole songs, I'd like to think I gave them a chance to recapture my attention and faith, but it's clear they belong to the masses now. So I dub thee unforgiven.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Leftover Sludge

Photo by Samantha Marble
As much as I love the instant gratification of digital media, there really is nothing like seeing your name in print. And though I've kept busy reviewing records and doing the occasional filler piece, it's been a while since I had time to write a full page worth of copy. 

What got me out of my slump was one of my favorite all-time bands, Eyehategod. Though nothing pleased me more than getting them ink in HIGH TIMES, it was much harder than I imagined to craft the article. I wanted to give them their proper due, but I also knew I had to make them a little cuddlier for the HT crowd. (This is the same audience that doesn't always understand why you'd want to taint a photo of giant nugs with a chick in a bikini.) In the end, I hope I succeeded and the band digs it, then goes on to make the comeback record of 2012.

But, of course, there were word restrictions. Naturally I dorked out on Jimmy Bower and Michael Williams during their interviews, and probably have enough material for a hefty Q&A outtake post... which I might do eventually. But for now, I wanted to keep it light—and with all respect to the band—present five completely random Eyehategod omitted quotes without including any context. It's just more fun that way.

"I never thought we'd have a tribute album. I kept thinking, 'Why did they want to do this?' That's a really cool thing to have right there." — Michael Williams 

"The first time we went to Amsterdam in ’93, we got really high on Northern Lights and walked around. Eyehategod’s a really short band, and everybody in Holland is very tall with those ching, ching, ching bicycle bells." — Jimmy Bower 

"Yeah, the guy from Eyehategod likes cats..." — MW
"I used to read that magazine [XXL]... It's an easy magazine to get in jail." — MW

"Not to sound egotistical, but maybe newer fans think we’re like the new Black Flag, kinda? But I don’t want to pat myself on the back. When we play, it’s like, 'let’s Flag this bitch off.'"— JB
For the full Eyehategod feature, check out the November 2011 issue of HIGH TIMES, which also includes an interview with Phil Anselmo.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2011 (So Far)

Full disclosure: I started this post on June 20, but became distracted by a number of things (finally slaying my EHG story and celebrating my birthday, plus other necessary deterrents) before focusing on finishing my half-year list of favorite releases.

The list doesn't pertain to any one genre and like my Kurt Vonnegut asshole, it's uniquely my own. With that, enjoy...

1. The Kills - Blood Pressures (Domino)
Though I was lucky enough to preview "Heart is a Beating Drum" during The Kills' set at Spin's SxSW '11 party, it wasn't until I heard the song tracked along with the rest of Blood Pressures that its soulful rhapsodic vibe completely crept over me. Alison Mosshart is a consummate rock goddess.

2. Pentagram - Last Rites (Metal Blade)
With its unrelenting doomy riffs and Bobby Leibling's haunting vocals, Last Rites is the kind of album that reminds me of why I fell in love with heavy metal in the first place. The crisp production on "8," "Into the Ground" and "Treat Me Right" adds a dimension to the already molasses-thick grooves, while a handful of vintage tunes (written in the '70s) contextualize Pentagram's 40-year history.

3. Cave In -White Silence (Hydra Head)
Not only did Cave In return after a six-year album hiatus, but they returned even heavier—almost as if they've been listening to a steady diet of vintage Converge. Everything about White Silence is simple, brutish and glorious. In fact, my chief complaint about the record is that's it's too damn short. I'll take four more songs in the vein of "Sing My Loves," please.

4. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (Columbia)
No one is more shocked than I to be WAY into this album. Frankly, I've never thought of Foo Fighters as being heavy enough. But Wasting Light came out of nowhere and beat me into submission with its ridiculously catchy melodies from start to finish. Welcome to my iPod, boys.

5. Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual (Metal Blade)
I don't really care for death metal, but I love the shit out of Black Dahlia Murder. And why would I look any further for a dose of brutality when Ritual delivers so much? Alternating screeches and growls from Trevor Strnad, cheeky lyrics and stark, driving blast beats work together to create a perfectly balanced metal meal.

6. Red Fang - Murder the Mountains (Relapse)
With their previous effort, Red Fang proved they were much more than a slacker metal band with a cool viral video. But on Murder the Mountains, their Relapse debut, they impress with their knack for writing hooky compositions that are further enhanced by flawless production. Want proof? Listen to "Wires."

7. Beth Ditto - EP (Sony)
In only four songs, the Gossip vocalist breaks out as dance diva that straddles a happy place between Robyn and La Roux. The real hit here is "Open Heart Surgery," a mid-tempo toe-tapping tale of love gone wrong, but the remaining tracks swaddle it with plenty of disco beats and glittery attitude.

8. Kvelertak -s/t (The End)
Well worth the hype, these Norwegian newbies combine everything you love from death n' roll-era Entombed with Turbonegro's tongue in cheek sensibilities and put their own new-school spin on it. The result is a volatile combination of balls and feedback, which can pose a physical threat in a live setting.

9. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Vagrant)
Honestly, I partly ranked this eighth solo album from the English alt-siren so highly for the simple relief that it didn't suck. Thankfully far from PJ's muted disaster, White Chalk, this new record is filled with whimsy, introspection and classicism all at once. My girl's still got it... even if she does wear a dead bird atop her head nowadays.

10. YOB - Atma (Profound Lore)
There is so much delicious low-end rumbling in store on this stoner/doom power trio's latest release, I almost can't stand it. Though I haven't taken in Atma properly just yet, it's shaping up to be a bona fide thriller that's both savage and enthralling.

And the rest...

Guilty Pleasures
Britney Spears - Femme Fatale 
Vampires Everywhere! - Kiss the Sun Goodbye 

Still Ruminating On...
Young Widows - In and Out of Youth and Lightness
Twilight Singers -Dynamite Steps

Just Now Getting Into...
Fucked Up - David Comes to Life

Can't Wait To Hear...
Revocation - Chaos of Forms
Taking Back Sunday - s/t  (Haters gonna hate...)

Haven't Listened to Yet...
TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
Okkervil River -Your Past Life as a Blast

Still Don't Care About...
Bon Iver - s/t 
Adele - 21

And can I possibly get a hip-hop record I can vibe with?

Best Shows So Far: 
Prince @ Madison Square Garden (Feb 7) - Prince saved the best for last when he took the stage for his fourth and final show on this last MSG run. Playing for almost three hours and ending with a snippet each of "When Doves Cry" and "Little Red Corvette" among dozens of classics, the legend still left us wanting more.

Pentagram @ Scoot Inn, SxSW - Kind of amazing the difference good acoustics make when amplifying the gloriously guitar sounds of Victor Griffin in a wide outdoor space—as opposed to hearing them compressed in a Polish nightclub.

Foreigner @ P.C. Richard & Son Theater - One of my most enjoyable shows of the year, if only for the commentary and good company. But then you add in free booze and some of the greatest rock jams ever—I'm looking at you "Double Vision," "Urgent" and "Hot Blooded"—and the night became pure enchantment.

Deftones @ Best Buy Theater - A greatest hits set, last-minute upgrade for a bird's eye view and great interplay with Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato on "Passenger" ranked this as another stellar Deftones memory.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bitch Stole My Look: Metal Cliche Edition

Black Dahlia Murder's press shot for Ritual, due June 21.

iwrestledabearonce Ruining It For Everybody.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

International Day of Slayer

International Day of Slayer, which falls on June 6, 2011, is a lot like Groundhog's Day. Both are based on antiquated traditions that are almost entirely passe, after all. Yet I can't help but get behind the spirit of something so raw and sophomoric. Therefore, in honor of this great 666 event, I dedicate my favorite chill-inducing song by the 30-year-old band to Ms. Merilee 666 and BBD Black. Fuckin' Slayer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My End of World Playlist

Yes, we're all going to die. Though I'm not really sure it'll happen exactly at 6pm today (which time zone are we working with, btw?). But just in case, I created a soundtrack to go out with that starts off heavy then gets a little groovy at the end. Fuck it, might as well bow out shaking your asses.

You're all quite welcome.

 Doomsday Playlist, Vol. 1
"Don't Open 'Til Doomsday" - The Misfits
"At the End of the My Daze" - Trouble
"Armageddon It" - Def Leppard
"South of Heaven" - Slayer
"We're Only Gonna Die" - Bad Religion
"Rapture" - Morbid Angel
"Abandon Ship" - Gallows
"Countdown to Extinction" - Megadeth
"Armageddon" - Carnivore
"Doomsday" - Monster Magnet
"Dying World" - Pentagram
"False Idols Fall" - Comeback Kid
"The End of the World" - The Cure
"Killing" - The Rapture
"Till the World Ends" - Britney Spears
"Fuck Armageddon, This is Hell" - Bad Religion

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Leon Made a Video

    My boo 4 life (and friend of 16 years), Leon Del Muerte, has been in a million bands. OK, maybe not a million, but he's played bass for Intronaut, Impaled, Exhumed, Murder Construct, Phobia—plus a host of other projects. Yet he only just appeared in his first music video. The lucky outlet? D.I.S. (Destroyed in Seconds), his crusty-punk/grind hybrid.

    So without further adieu, kindly check out D.I.S.'s "Lamentations." That's him at 1:48.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Friday the 13th Tattoos, Pt II

    Flash Designs by Studio 13 in Wayne, IN
    Friday the 13th is quickly becoming to tattoo junkies what April 20 is to stoners—a silly, irresistible annual celebration of their addictions. An ever-expanding worldwide phenomenon that involves tattoo parlors offering one-day specials of 13-themed flash pieces for $13 (though usually, the customer is expected to shell out change from a $20 for the artist's tip), the event will take on even greater proportions this coming Friday. And as usual, these specials are generally first come, first served—so start practicing that cough early on Thursday...

    One local joint, Brooklyn's Three Kings Tattoo, will be donating proceeds from their Japanese-inspired 13 designs towards tsunami and earthquake relief in that country. Another Williamsburg establishment, Asylum is flat-out calling their Friday special a marathon. Meanwhile, All is One in Albuquerque, NM is throwing a full-on block party that boasts an art show and karaoke. Tons of others listings for Facebook events came up in a search, so no excuses! Get out, get marked... and send me pictures.

    Flash Designs by Forever True, Liverpool UK

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Three Songs Perpetually Stuck in My Head

    This one's pretty self-explanatory. Songs get stuck inside my head all the time - everything from old PSA jingles to Top 40 songs I don't remember consciously listening to (ah, the gift and the curse of the day job). But the following three are my brain's go-to's. With good reason.

    1. Dead Weather's "The Difference Between Us" - the hottest psycho chick song of all time.

    2. Turbonegro's "Stroke the Shaft" - probably the worst instructional handjob lyrics in the history of the act.

    3. Led Zeppelin's "In the Evening" - greatest slide riff EVER.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Happy Easter From Mastodon

    Gotta love their thoughtful seasonal planning... and all that adorable blasphemy! Order your limited edition shirt here, but be careful about wearing it to church.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Five Hard Rock Songs to Avoid Covering

    A friend of mine recently put me on to Halestorm's new covers EP, ReAniMate, which features an eclectic (read: terrible) selection of tracks, including Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike." And though their ballsy take on Guns N Roses' "Out Ta Get Me" is rather enjoyable, the most dumbfounding inclusion is their version of Heart's "All I Wanna Do (Is Make Love To You)." [Listen to "Bad Romance" and Skid Row's "Slave to the Grind"]

    Yes, Halestorm chose to avoid classics like "Crazy On You" and "Barracuda" in order to spotlight Heart's adult contemporary transition by way of 1990's Brigade. These kids today. But rather than cutting them down for it, I chose instead to put together a primer of five off-era hard rock songs to avoid in the future. Should they ever decide to churn out ReAniMate 2 (but also appropriate for your band).

    1. Motley Crue's "Raise Your Hands to Rock" | It's still better to "Shout at the Devil."

    2. Starship's "We Built This City" | This is not the same band that created "White Rabbit."

    3. KISS - "Crazy Nights" | No, you so crazy.

    4. Celtic Frost's "Cherry Orchards" | d00d, cred. Wink.

    5.  Extreme's "Little Girls" | Creepy, yo. And that's coming from me.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    When I Die...

    ...They're gonna have to spread my ashes on Red River between Sixth and Seventh Streets in Austin.

    The SxSW recap is coming. Promise.
    Outside Emo's | Photo by Tim Griffen; stolen from

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    SxSW +1

    The inevitable happened. I fell behind on posting to fit in some much-needed sleep between seeing shows and having a week-long slumber party with some of my favorite ladies on Earth. And, because the High Times Doobie Awards fall on a Sunday this year, there's a built-in bonus day of Shiners at noon and loud bands all day.

    If you're in Austin, get your asses down to Emo's this afternoon for a lineup featuring Blower, Valient Thorr, Suplecs, Honky, and the Smokers Club featuring Curren$y. There will also be a special award presented in Dimebag Darrell's honor, with appearances by Pantera/Down's Rex Brown and Dime's widow, Rita Haney.

    Otherwise, the last two days have been a glorious blur of live music, endless free booze and even free tacos courtesy of Danny Trejo's Machete and Shady Records. I caught far flung acts like the Kills at Spin's party, Ringworm presented by Brooklyn Vegan at Lovejoys, suffered through Crowbar to ensure seeing St. Vitus at Dirty Dog, plus the solid Profound Lore showcase, Metal Sucks' South by South Death show and a few guilty pleasures in between.

    A more in-depth write-up coming soon, gotta get ready for my last day on the town. More pics added here.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    SxSW - Day 2

    One of the most annoying that can happen after carefully planning out your daily band-seeing strategy at SxSW is a time change. Especially if you're not in the vicinity of a venue AFTER you've heard an act you really want to see is going on almost an hour early, and you're still headed downtown. Just such a thing happened yesterday when organizers of Full Metal Texas (an otherwise spectacular show, btw) when buzz-band Kvelertak were onstage a full hour earlier than expected.

    What does one do in Austin when your plans go awry? Eat BBQ, of course. So Diane and I chose to head to our traditional meal at Iron Works in lieu of seeing Hull, knowing they'd be at the Ale House for The End's evening showcase. And since it's SxSW, we ran into both Dax Riggs and a dude from Valient Thorr on our way to eat, then sat next to members of Duff McCagan's Loaded while we ate. (Incidentally, tonight Loaded open for Filter at the Austin Music Hall, lolz!)

    But once we got back into the action, it was incredible, because we saw YOB. The rarely-touring doom/stoner/awesome band put on an incredible 40-minute long, four-song set. So intense for their first trip to Austin in over five years.


    From there, we took a detour to South Austin's Obsolete Industries to see the unofficial Amphetamine Reptile showcase featuring the reunion of Hammerhead. In theory, an excellent idea. But the actual setup was a bit off-putting. The band performed in the studio's print shop, while the audience was relegated to the space's gallery - essentially forcing the audience to watch the band through a glass wall and hear them through a single amp placed there for convenience. Glad I was there, but I was even more happy to head back to the fray of Red River.

    Hammerhead behind glass

    Once there, the first place to hit was the Ale House for Hull, who put on an intense set that flourished with an extended version of "Viking Funeral." Since the goth venue Prague was only a few blocks away, we headed over to finally see Kvelertak. Were they worth the hype? Sure. Taking their cues from Death 'n Roll-era Entombed and adding their own guitar-hook laden garage-y influences, the Norwegians put on a high-energy set that got a little dangerous at points. I definitely got off easy by only getting conked on the head with the mic.


    After that, I went over to catch Agalloch and YOB only to find out that Suplecs were headlining in the next room, and that Weedeater's Dixie Dave would soon be joining them onstage—which he did—but only to do some bizarre scat-growl singing. Finally, YOB blew the night away as the best of the night.

    More music to see now. More pics here.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    SxSW - Day 1 Down

    Let's just call them the dirty dozen... the first 12 bands I saw at this year's South by Southwest, that is. The first day, as always, was a study in controlled chaos, with badge acquisitions, cell phone service checks (Hey Verizon, if the incredible iPhone service keeps up, I might name a child after you) and meet-ups to check in to.

    And then there's the inevitable Brooklyn Vegan showcase to see. Naturally, I gravitated towards the dark indoor stage where a string of ear-maligning metal bands — and Dax Riggs — performed.

    The first band I saw this year were Italy's The Secret, who pummeled the crowd with their tight metalcore set. All the band members were pretty intense, but I loved that you could hear the guitarist's admiration for the first two Machine Head records in his sound. Check them out when they hit NY (or a town near you!).

    Up next were KEN Mode, who, for a three-piece, managed to create a much deeper Converge-meets-Today is the Day Sound.

    Then there was my beloved Dax Riggs — who I may have stalked momentarily while sampling various Sparks flavors — who ripped through a compact set of "I Hear Satan," "Wall of Death," and "Stop, I'm Already Dead." Cannot wait to see him again in NYC.

    After Dax, I went over to pick my badge (missing Trash Talk), but managed to get back to see a triumphant-sound Kylesa, a couple of Surfer Blood songs and suffered through a touch of Peelander Z for a buddy who loves them. And there was a Neal Pollack hazy siesta courtesy of my dear local friend Melissa, which inevitably led us to our first night show....

    ...Have you ever heard of the Skatenigs? You really shouldn't have. They were a local, half-jokey early '90s act that specialized in power riffs and cheeky social commentary. Think of them as the Southern Scatterbrain. In other words, if you knew them then, you might have found this set interesting and nostalgic. But if you're like me, you found it rudimentary and boring. Seriously, their material has not aged well. And guess what? THEY'RE RECORDING A NEW ALBUM. Just what the world needs.

    After that, I checked out Off!, who were really good once Keith Morris espoused the "More Rock, Less Talk" ethos and tore through an incredible set before the Bad Brains hit the outdoor stage. Sure, it was cool to see the legends live — and the set list was a good one — but it sounded like it was being played at half speed. That said, I took the opportunity to see Easy Action, who epitomize the kind of greasy, gritty sexy hard rock that would be ideal for a Robert Rodriguez soundtrack (or some rough fucking). Guys, work on your marketing. Everyone needs to know who you are, and there's only so much I can do.

    From there, I decided to seek out Brooklyn's own A Place to Bury Strangers. The perfect marriage between Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, their Exploding Head record has been a staple for months now. But I had the nagging feeling that they would suck live, not being able to pull off their textured sound without additional studio tracking. But after hearing two respected folks compare them to MBV, I had to be there. Arriving at the gargoyle-embellished goth club, Prague, I wasn't so sure. But APTBS managed to set off an intense, though slightly murky set. And yes, it was super noisy, which made for lots of hipsters covering their ears. Amateurs.

    Almost appropriately, my last band of the night was Austin's own Okkervil River. At that point, my dogs were barking and I just found a seat in the back. With tons of musicians onstage and a preview of their forthcoming album, the locals made for the perfect happy-sounding, folky pop nightcap.

    That's all for now. More pics here. Today: more meat and Full Metal Texas.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Five Things I'm Stoked About For SxSW

    1. Metal
    With no less that FOUR showcases masterminded by Brooklyn Vegan's Black Bubblegum and 1000 Knives, plus the Converse/Thrasher parties at the Scoot Inn, Full Metal Texas and Metal Sucks' South by South Death affair (and that's not including actual label showcases), it'll be pretty hard to ignore all the glorious blast beats and feedback coming at you. I look forward to seeing bands like Kvelertak, Off!, Arson Anthem, Easy Action, the Body, YOB, and Hull. And if Agalloch get to squeeze in more than two songs, I'll be impressed.

    There are definitely some non-metal attractions, too: Yuck, Okkervil River (don't front), A Place to Bury Strangers, Dax Riggs, the Kills, Wu-Tang Clan, Duran Duran and Queens of the Stone Age.

    2. Bro Hang
    So many metal bros, so little Shiner Bock... I'm really looking forward to sunny, 85-degree days with my dudes from Metal Sucks, Metal Injection, Metal Insider and friends from Metal Blade, Relapse, Prosthetic, plus bands like Red Fang, Eyehategod and the Sword. (No shit: I'm meeting up with someone who currently lives three stops from my apt, yet the last time we hung was at ATP NY.)

    Metal Suckers

    3. Bra Hang
    I also get to stay with my bff4eva Merilee 666 and watch her play with her band, Blower at the High Times Party @ Emo's on Sunday night. Stoked. If that weren't cool enough, my partner in crime and hearing loss on this trip will once again be WFMU's Diane Kamikaze (also, administrator of our legendary 666 tats). Plus, the fabulous Samantha Marble and Kim Kelly will be there. Hella stoked.

    Ms. 666

    4. Meat
    I'm fairly sure that a vegetarian plate in Texas generally means "chicken." Brisket, ribs, sausage... oh my!

    5. Keep Austin Weed
    I'm covering it semi-formally for High Times, so hit their site to check out daily updates. Doooo it.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    War Ensemble

    I get why the kids don't dig Slayer these days. They're not kvlt, the speed records they set in the '80s have long been surpassed by bands with four-word names, and one can't deny that they're quickly turning into the AC/DC of thrash.

    Yet it's hard for me to think of any other song besides "War Ensemble" that gets my heart racing in the same way, inducing goosebumps even after its 1,000th spin. So here's a little six-minute long reminder of why it is that people scream "Slaaaayyyeeeer!!!" at shows across the world—regardless of who is playing.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Motorhead: The Eyeshadow

     If I were creating an eyeshadow inspired by Motorhead, I think I'd go with a glossy black creme, the kind that Taylor Momsen would smear over her Living Dead Doll eyes.

    M.A.C. Cosmetics chose to go another route when they bequeathed the name. The brand's version of Motorhead—part of their limited-edition Jeanius collection—is described as "a midtone dirty blue with copper pearl." Get yours now!

    Me? I'm holding out for the Behemoth bronzer.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Anger is a Gift

    The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest at a soldier's private funeral has infuriated me to the point of physical pain.

    As someone who thoroughly relishes their freedom of speech, it kills me that this "church"—this blasphemous, hateful, attention-whoring collective waste of human organs—enjoys the same rights as the family of a child who died for that very freedom. Instead, founder Fred Phelps chooses to provoke, antagonize and outright prey on innocent peoples' heartstrings for monetary and media gain. All while enjoying tax exemption.

    Here's the full story.

    And if you want to know what I think their real motive is, READ THIS!

    America, fuck yeah?

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Eyehategod Tuesday

    Now that I've pried myself away from the latest Charlie Sheen meme, I'm settling in to start on one of my most dreaded tasks ever: transcribing. But it's all worthwhile, since it's for a feature on Eyehategod. Besides getting them a much-deserved full page in High Times, it presented an opportunity for me have a good long chat with frontman Michael Williams, someone I've admired ever since my internship at the pot mag at age 20.

    I also used to stalk him from afar. OK, not really. During the '90s in NYC, there was a district flush with magazine publishers that stretched along Park Avenue South, from Union Square all the way through the lower 30s, and west to 5th Avenue. Through a piece of misdirected mail, I discovered that the iconic Metal Maniacs was directly across the street from HT, a mere three-minute walk away. This was during the classic Katherine Ludwig era, with Alicia Morgan and Williams rounding out the editorial staff. While I never saw the elusive Ludwig, I'd find myself running into Mike at the deli between 16th and 17th streets that once housed Max's Kansas City (all the while avoiding Source staffers who stuck out like sore thumbs with their giant diamond chains). And though I never had the balls to dork out on him while on line to pay for my salad bar plate, I'm almost certain at one point he shot a "the fuck you looking at?" look my way.

    We've crossed paths at several of his shows since, but I still never got to ask him all the stuff I've always wanted to as a journalist and fangirl. And the interview went better than I could have imagined. So while I suck it up and transcribe, enjoy some Southern-style sludgecore on me.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    New Young Widows Track

     OK, this has been out for a few weeks now, but I haven't had a chance to let it marinade.

    I love Louisville's Young Widows. They're austere, noisy yet unfussy, and completely reminiscent of the best AmRep fuckfest you've never heard. And it's been way too long since 2008's Old Wounds. So I'm thrilled that they've released "Future Heart," the first song from their forthcoming album, In and Out of Youth and Lightness.

    Featuring a fuller intonation than their prior release (half of which was recorded live at gigs), "Future Heart" starts off with a lush urgency before reverting back to Young Widows' stark, stripped-down sound. And then there's their trademark percussion-only bridge—when all other instruments drop out. Is this the musical version of using negative space the way an artist would? Maybe; and they've mastered it. Listen for yourself right here.

    And buy In and Out of Youth and Lightness when it comes out on April 12 on Temporary Residence.

    Here's the track listing:
    1. Young Rivers
    2. Future Heart
    3. In and Out of Lightness
    4. Lean on the Ghost
    5. The Muted Man
    6. Right in the End
    7. Miss Tambourine Wrist
    8. White Golden Rings
    9. In and Out of Youth

    Baby's Got the Bends

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    Christian Bale: The Beardo Exception

    I still hate beards and beardos, but there's something so primal and sexy about Christian Bale's scruffy, long-haired combo. That award? For hotness.

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    Dumb Tattoos: Rapper Edition

    I've long accepted that rappers are the new rock stars, but how dare they also take the throne for dumb tattoos away from the hesher/beardo crowd? Below is a photo of T-Pain's new Facebook tattoo.

    This comes on the heels of the whole Gucci Mane ice cream tattoo fiasco. What the hell is going on here, people?

    Below: a favorite I took of a fine red-haired Caucasian specimen on the L train (duh). Time to up the ante, hipsters.

    Speaking of tattoos: I'm now officially in the process of figuring out what to do with Texas. It's way too frustrating when US citizens ask me what state it is (c'mon son, TX has brand awareness on lock!). I also hate being a TX poseur in lieu of actually explaining to folks that I got it out of commie guilt.

    It's either going to be removed or covered—but since the latter is so much more painful and dumb, that seems to be the way it's headed. Ideally, I'd like to reproduce the Into Another logo in the self-titled LP's colors. Or let someone like this guy go to town. Decisions, decisions...