Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Favorite Albums of the Year: 2012

Swans - The Seer
I started scribbling about albums I enjoyed this year, yet imagined it would be more trouble than it actually was to create the below lists. The Top 10 pretty much fell into place; and why bother with synopses no one will read?

Favorites (in order)
Swans - The Seer
Primitive Weapons - The Shadow Gallery
Burning Love - Rotten Thing to Say
Royal Thunder -CVI
Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships
Baroness - Yellow & Green
The Secret - Agnus Dei
El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
Gypsyhawk - Revelry & Resilience

Impressive (no particular order)
V.O.D. - The Cursed Remain Cursed
Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
Brokaw - Interiors
Gojira - L’Enfant Sauvage
The Devil's Blood - The Thousandfold Epicentre 
Gentlemans Pistols - s/t
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
Deftones - Koi No Yokan
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats - Blood Lust
Lita Ford - Living Like a Runaway
Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Xibalba - Hasta La Muerte 
Ceremony - Zoo
Sacred Reich - Live at Wacken
Black Breath - Sentenced to Life
Torche - Harmonicraft
Overkill - The Electric Age 
For Today - Immortal 
Saint Vitus - Lillie: F-65 
Early Graves - Red Horse
Nas - Life is Good
Satan's Wrath - Galloping Blasphemy
Napalm Death - Utilitarian 
Human Toilet - s/t

Just Alright
(no particular order)
Demon Hunter - True Defiance
Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine
Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay
C.O.C. - s/t
Ke$ha - Warrior 
Cat Power - Sun 
Garbage - Not Your Kind of People
Best Coast - The Only Place 
Rick Ross - God Forgives, I Don't

The Sword - Apocryphon
Madonna - MDNA
Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods

Good Singles 
The Afghan Whigs - "Lovecrimes"
Ke$ha - "Die Young"
Rihanna - "We Found Love"

Still Haven't Listened To: 
Mark Lanegan - Blues Funeral 
Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror 
Jack White - Blunderbuss 
Pitbull - Global Warming 
The Killers - Battle Born 
Soundgarden - King Animal

• Live Bootleg of the Year: Into Another's set from the CA Revelation 25 show.
• Turbonegro and The Gallows should consider a vocalist exchange program. Seriously.
• Musician with the best Instagram account: hands down, Stallone's Juan Montoya.

Monday, December 3, 2012

DMX Saves Xmas... And Gives Me Metrics

I'm full of weird ideas. And sometimes they pan out. Like the video you're about to see below of rap legend and crack enthusiast DMX performing an energetic, beat-boxed version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

We printed the lyrics for him in advance, not thinking that Dark Man X would be familiar with such a mundane Christmas tune. He quickly eschewed the help. Lyrics? "I GOT THIS." And what he proceeded to make was nothing short of magic.

You're Welcome, World. Happy Holidays!

Heathen Jew Z

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Lame List

No, this isn't my attempt at a Best of 2012 music list (though I'm sure I'll take crap for some of my selections when the time comes). It is, however, my lament at not being able to get in to see Soundgarden's show at Irving Plaza last night.

While I do like their sound a lot, I was never a superfan of theirs. I am, though, a big fan of their guitarist, Kim Thayil. He's always struck me as one of those cool, low-key guitar demi-gods who was just into doing this own thing while Chris Cornell was busy trying to become an "artist" and break away from being labeled a metal frontman.

How chill is Kim? Below is a perfect example, via a vintage clip of him participating in Almost Live's "The Lame List" skit.

Better clips I couldn't embed are HERE, HERE and HERE. And if you need a plus one for either of Soundgarden's January shows, I'm your lady.

Bonus, here's Gruntruck's turn at The Lame List.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Things I Learned During Hurricane Sandy

Back at my Tribeca office after Superstorm Sandy, I still can't believe an entire week of our planned lives was taken away. Mercifully, all the folks I know survived - though some lost houses and valuables - yet there's always someone who has it worse.

I've always been prepared. Having signed my Manhattan apartment lease on September 10, 2001 - you know, the day before September 11th - and after experiencing the 2003 blackout, plus a ton of other wacked-out scenarios, I've always had a "go bag" at the ready.

Perhaps I have more apocalyptic visions than most (or am just a sucker for's Survivalist section), because my go bag includes a surplus Israeli gas mask, iodine pills and a water purifier, in addition to the standard stuff like a hand-crank radio and matches. And I'm seriously wondering how I can keep a blowup raft in my studio apartment, because after the second year in a row of having the subways shut down on us, I want a guaranteed way to leave this island.

Being prepared and fending for myself have been the only things I've known for a long time. Fiercely independent, I was determined to take care of myself (and my feline, Ava) through this ordeal. After two days of no power, the desire for a hot shower set me off on another path - to Sheepshead Bay - which was actually way worse off than Manhattan. Once in Brooklyn, away from the canned goods and familiarity of my home, getting through Sandy's aftermath called for a new approach. One that taught me some valuable and trivial things. They are as follows:

1. South Brooklyn (Gravesend, specifically) now has a fine selection of 24-hour bodegas that fulfill my fancy beverage needs.

2. Crazy drivers are everywhere, but are especially dangerous in an area where they can speed up enough to kill you.

3. Pets and trees need to be cared for the way babies are.

4. Always be kind. You never know when karma will come around. Or when you'll be the one in need of help. For some reason, after Sandy, I find myself more patient and polite to everyone.

5. Though doing things for yourself is imperative, having someone there for the simple act of comforting you can be as revelatory as food or heat.

Eyehategod on HBO

I've spent a disproportionate amount of time posting about Into Another this year. Which means I've spent less time posting about Eyehategod. So to remedy that a little, here's a clip some of you (like me) with only basic cable might've missed - Eyehategod's premium cable debut on HBO's Treme.

As a show based in New Orleans, the producers have long strived to infuse the production with as much local flavor as possible. So props on including both EHG and Goatwhore in various episodes.

Jimmy Bower was destined to become a star. Check it out:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New York Comic Con 2012

That's just the lobby overflow on Saturday. Artist Alley was past that Walking Dead poster at the end.
A comic con is my happy place. This happy place is made exponentially better when I don't have to get on a plane to get there. And though I'm one of "those" people who generally walks past the superhero stuff to get at the oddball vinyl toys (or stare at the Masters of the Universe display), shop the lowbrow art mini pop-up stores, or explore the more eclectic booths on the show floor, New York Comic Con has always been a good time. As a total bonus, I also get to check in with all the wonderful people I met during my brief stint in the comics world.

Even now, in its sixth year, as NYCC struggles to satisfy the sold-out capacity crowd with an exhausting amount of panels, screenings, show floor space, anime festival, autograph sessions, video game demos—in addition to the core of comics-based programming—it's still impossible to see it all. Craftman Tools had a booth, as did Hallmark and Taschen. NYCC even hosted a Trapped in the Closet sing-along. (Fun fact: according to a Crain's New York Business report, NYCC is the second largest event in New York City.)

Then there are the cosplayers. Few things in the world are more wonderful to see. Walking down aisles crowded with grown men and women dressed as Adventure Time characters, Poison Ivy, Dr. Who, Batman and a myriad of other pop-culture icons is just about the most insightful urban anthropological study one can be privy to.

This guy rules.
Want to talk about people giving no fucks? Cosplayers had no shame in their games and it was inspiring to watch. And photograph—since almost everyone's goal seemed to be finding a spot in a blog's photo gallery (mission accomplished). Truly, it's the least any of us can do to pay tribute to the many hours some spent on homemade costumes, perfecting every detail. And those who half-assed it were even more funny to check out.

On the metal tip, Kirk Hammett signed copies of his new book, the Metal Sucks bros shared a booth with Vertebrae 33 and hosted autograph sessions by Dee Snider, Alex Skolnick (who actually plugged in and played in the middle of the show floor) and tattoo legend Paul Booth. And Integrity frontman Dwid Hellion released a really ugly looking toy. As much as I love the band, there's no way I'm paying $85 for a figure that looks like a tar-dipped plucked turkey (and couldn't stand without holding the included staff).

Thee Black Heksen by Dwid Hellion

Things I bought included three of the five Frank Kozik x Kidrobot Goon Squad busts, the first Alex Pardee book, mini card prints by an artist named Seymour who showed at the Strychnin Gallery booth (a really cool Berlin-based gallery) and the graphic novel tribute to Mercyful Fate. Want to see what I saw? Check out my gallery here.

Until next year...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Into Another Live Again

More of my crappy pics here.

It's probably been 15 years since I last witnessed Into Another perform at Irving Plaza, and in all that time dudes still haven't figured out how to mosh to them. Yet the audience at the final installment of the East Coast Revelation 25 shows couldn't help but try when the homegrown act started their set with the underground hit, "Underlord."

Eventually, the pit settled into a sinuous ebb and flow befitting the unconventional band. Richie Birkenhead's vocals, still as screechy and polarizing as ever made for the perfect counterbalance to Peter Moses' stadium-worthy guitar tones. Into Another ran through a tight, hour-plus long set that included "Running Into Walls," "Poison Fingers," "While I Die," "T.A.I.L." and "The Other." The closest I came to heaven was when they dove into "William."

The omitted "Two Snowflakes" and "Maritime Murder" were sorely missed, especially baffling since "May I" was included in the Irving Plaza set. Evidently, their performance was fairly different from their show the night before at Saint Vitus Bar.

Rounded out by ex-Ignite guitarist Brian Balchack and bassist Reid Black, Into Another made sure to pay tribute to their late bassist (and ex-Whiplash metaller) Tony Bono. "We want to send a huge wave of love up to Tony," said Birkenhead. Also announced onstage was their four-day East Coast run in December, including a stop at Bowery Ballroom on December 16. I'll be there. And if you need more incentive to join me, check out some reunion footage from the CA Revelation 25 show, as well as Saint Vitus.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Rules: Smartphones and Concerts

I go to a lot of shows. And as an avid concertgoer, I've noticed a near-total loss of common courtesy amongst fellow attendees when it comes to smartphone (and camera) usage at live events. Most recently, I was at an Afghan Whigs show at Terminal 5 when I witnessed some of the most mind-boggling behavior before me.

While the Afghan Whigs were putting on a phenomenal, deep cut-filled rock n roll show, some asshats in front of me were too busy to notice. Why? They were streaming baseball games on their phones. That is, when they weren't busy checking stats on the brightest screen I've seen in my life. During the second song into the set.

After a while, I had to say something. It went a little like this:

Me: "Hey! When you go to baseball games, do you stream live concerts?"
Jerk: "No, but this is the playoffs."
Me: "So?"
Jerk: "So, the Orioles haven't been in the playoffs in 15 years."
[My friend chimes in]: "The Afghan Whigs haven't played in 15 years!" 

Amazingly, I guilted him into walking away. But for every one guy who figures out they're not the only one distracted by his phone screen at a sold-out show, there are tens of thousands who think paying for a ticket (or getting on a guest list) entitles them to act as if they're the only ones in the audience.

Perhaps I'm extra sensitive because of my 5'3" stature and it's hard enough to find an unobstructed view without winding up standing behind That Guy. The problem is, everyone is turning into That Guy. It might be time for some new rules.

The New Etiquette for Using Tech Toys at Concerts

1. Even though you spent two grand on a tricked-out DSLR, you are not entitled to shove past people to get a vantage point to shoot. If you're on assignment, get there early. If you must squeeze in somewhere, ask nicely, take your shot and get out of the way.

2. There's nothing wrong with taking a couple of snapshots for posterity (and Instagram), but quit it after a couple of shots. You're not selling these pics to Rolling Stone. Put down your iPhone and just watch the show.

3. Stop recording videos at shows. In addition to spending all your time staring at the tiny screen instead of, say, the band playing in front of you, you wind up obscuring the view of everyone behind you. And really, do you want to spend the entire night raising your hand like you're Sure? 

4. Oh, is it just your favorite song you'd like to capture? Try holding the camera upward within the frame of your body so the people behind you don't become distracted by this whole ordeal.

5. Turn down the brightness on your phone. When a venue's lights are dimmed, your bright-ass phone becomes that much more distracting. 

6. Save the Facebook and Twitter scrolling for in between acts. Beyond the fact that this is the ultimate insult to the band onstage, aren't you embarrassed to be doing it during a performance? I would be.

7. Learn from the tale of my sports-loving brethren: Live in the moment and leave all other streaming events at the door. So what if you're bored or can "multitask"? The rest of us shouldn't be forced to.

8. If you do any of the above with an iPad, the person behind you should be allowed to take said tablet out of your hands and hit you upside the head with it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Deftones in Leathers

Today, I used an exclamation point in a personal tweet. Why? "Leathers," the first release from the Deftones' forthcoming album, Koi No Yokan (presumably not named after Gary) became available for free download at

This is promising.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Into Another's T.A.I.L. Video

Not a bad way to cap off the night... and get me excited for their October shows. Below is the recently unearthed video for Into Another's "T.A.I.L." Such wonderful weirdness.

Think Into Another will play a longer set at Saint Vitus the night before their headlining spot at Revelation 25? Still can't believe that event is the same weekend as NY Comic Con.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Slipper Room is Open For Metal

The Slipper Room circa 2006; photo stolen from Flickr user CocteauBoy
Everyone who visited the Slipper Room had a good time. When it opened in 1999, the Lower East Side lounge was on the forefront of the burlesque movement long before it became a "thing." Over the years, I attended some pretty ridiculous blowout birthday parties and private industry events there—not to mention one lesbian bachelorette party during which a striptease dancer performed a stunning interpretation of her infatuation with a Mr. Potatohead figure.

But it was really more than just burlesque; the Slipper Room also featured fringe comedy, all sorts of acts that could fit under the "variety" banner—with a fine overlap of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow demographic. It also didn't hurt that I was friendly with the bartenders and we shared close friends who I'd meet there often, so on any ol' Friday night, you could find me on Orchard St. drowning my frustrations in vodka sodas and pasties between puppet acts. Good goddamn times.

Those fond memories were muddled when I passed by the location recently (Slipper Room shut down in 2010) to find that the building had been demolished and a new structure built. That is until a press release came through my inbox announcing a new two-story Slipper Room space at the same address, promising to be one of the only prospective new venues for live music in Manhattan.

The part that really perked up my ears?

"The Slipper Room will feature a wildly diverse range of weekly and monthly acts, including four weekly variety shows produced by co-owner James Habacker with top performers from around the world, accompanied by a live band each night. The line-up will be bolstered by the expanded role of co-owner and music entrepreneur Peter Shapiro (Brooklyn Bowl, Wetlands, Capitol Theater), who will curate an exciting lineup of musical artists, from rockabilly to heavy metal."

No shows are currently listed on the Slipper Room's site, though it wouldn't be surprising if a few CMJ shows were booked there. And as excited as it was to read about an installation of new fly rigs for acrobats in the space—as well as a new sound system—I hope it doesn't automatically make all the drinks cost $15.

For more on the Slipper Room, hit up their site.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Manowar Made a Trailer

There's really nothing like a little Manowar to put some sunshine in an otherwise bleak rainy day. Check out their brand-new trailer for their forthcoming album, The Lord of Steel.

The uber alpha males' lyrics have always been corny, but the ones therein sound like they were written by the Berserker character in Clerks. Has anyone ever tried to determine how many mentions the words "metal," "sword," "steel," "fight," or "warrior" see on an average Manowar release? Sounds like a job for Sam Dunn.

Without further ado, check out the snippet below. So much wrong, it's nothing but right. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Power of the Riff Heads East

After three years of hammering away at the West Coast, Southern Lord's The Power of the Riff Festival is making its East Coast debut at Brooklyn's Warsaw this weekend (September 1 & 2). Much like the kind of finely-curated roster we've come to expect from a label that specializes in all things downtuned and acerbic, the fest will feature some of the heaviest acts around today. And since it's New York—plenty of local flavor.

Headlining the two-day event will be Pentagram (set to perform their '80s-era hidden gem, Relentless in its entirety), local legends Agnostic Front—who'll be running through Victim in Pain and United Blood, Negative Approach, Sunn0))), Winter, Repulsion and Double Negative. And though Poison Idea were forced to drop off for medical reasons, MA's Hoax have stepped in to replace them.

Rounding out the bill are buzzed-about up-and-coming bands Xibalba, Coffinworm, Power Trip and a slew of others. It should be interesting to see how the juxtaposition of doom-heavy headliners and hardcore legends balances out, along with the turnout for Pentagram, who are currently basking in the attention of their new well-received documentary, Last Days Here.

For tickets and merch options, check out See you there.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Big in the UK

So this happened.

Last Thursday morning, I got a call from a coworker asking if I'd be willing to discuss Baroness' near-fatal bus accident near Avon, England with BBC News, who were looking for an American journalist to contextualize the band and expound on the Yanks currently recuperating in their local hospital after surviving a 30-foot swan dive off of a viaduct during a rainstorm.

"Sure, as long as they don't expect me to be on camera."

They asked for me to appear on camera. I had a little under an hour to sum up my thoughts before heading up to the BBC's midtown studio for a whirlwind taping. I was mic'd up, given an earpiece and seated in front of a green screen with three giant lights shining at me. It was pretty trippy seeing myself in the monitor; glad I washed my hair that morning.

Watching the segment, especially the shot of the reporter from below that panned out to display just how tremendous of a tumble Baroness' bus took, it's truly a miracle they and their crew survived. Let's hope the band and all involved heal quickly and get back to their families and music as soon as possible.

With that, below is my international television interview debut. Please be kind as I'm not used to being on that side of the camera.

Friday, June 22, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Memes: Rev 25 Edition

One of the worst kept secrets in music circles has been the planning of the East Coast series of concerts celebrating Revelation Records' 25th anniversary. So although the dates, October 11-14, have been in my calendar for months now, the official announcement from the label was made this week. And while speculation about which artists could logistically appear has had many a hardcore kid abuzz, a few new graphics posted on Rev's Facebook page have hinted at Chain of Strength, Texas is the Reason and my beloved Into Another.

But this is a meme culture, so some creative people decided to make up their own. See if you can spot the fakes. And let's get some info about the on-sale date, please.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Turbonegro's New Video

Last year, I was lucky enough to catch Turbonegro's American debut performance with new vocalist, The Duke of Nothing (aka: Tony Sylvester). And while the broad Brit turned out a consistent set of hits that won over the demanding crowd, it was clear that emulating Hank Von Helvete's flamboyant over-the-top ways was not part of his M.O.

Are the infamous Finns heading into a more "straight" mainstream direction? Check out the video for their new single, "You Give Me Worms," and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oh Hey, It's Been Awhile

In fact, it's been so long that Blogger has changed its dashboard layout in my time off from posting. It's been increasingly difficult trying to make time to consistently write when the inspiration just isn't there. And nothing in music has been really inspirational as of late. Unless you count the Afghan Whigs reunion show, which was fantastic - and I still can't believe I was lucky enough to experience it.

What has been going on?

This! won the 2012 Online Presence of the Year Award at the Worldwide Radio Summit

And this...
Read the whole thing HERE and many thanks to Natalie Zina Walschots for including me.

Finally, there was this. Granted, it's been a minute, but some other folks don't take things seriously until they're "Facebook official."

I'll try to do better about posting more often - and in fact, have some stuff lined up for Doro Pesch and Lita Ford (what year is this, again?) - plus others. No more long-term disappearing acts, I promise. ::fingers crossed::

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shut Up & Listen To... Into Another

Richie Birkenhead's voice is polarizing. Either you love the Underdog/Into Another frontman's falsetto or you find it torturous and grating (like a certain prick I know). Personally, I adore Into Another. They were emo before emo existed — in those days, they were frequently referred to as "post-hardcore" — and they were truly difficult to pigeonhole; managing to gel the members' various interests into a cohesive, eclectic sound. There was Drew Thomas as the mod drummer, the late Tony Bono was their bass player with a metal past, guitarist Peter Moses who added a psychedelic tinge and some of the prettiest tones ever heard, and, of course, Birkenhead brought the vegan hotness.

Though completely different from one another upon sight, the foursome made it work by creating music that reflected their personalities but defied all boundaries and categories. After three official albums (plus the record only released in Germany) and a handful of EPs, Into Another succumb to the curse of Hollywood Records and split up. And to date, they remain the only band whose logo I'd readily tattoo on my body—if only because they wrote my favorite song of all time ("Two Snowflakes").

Recently, it was announced that Into Another would be performing at one of the Revelation Records anniversary shows in California, with murmurs that they'd be adding an East Coast date to the mix. Good? Sure. But rumors that Moses will not be joining them dampens things as his guitar sound is so unique.

Love 'em or hate em? Can't know unless you try. Shut up and listen to Into Another.

Monday, February 13, 2012

RIP Whitney... And Johnny... And Joey

The ever animated Vinnie Stigma and Agnostic Front pay tribute to fallen idols Whitney Houston, Johnny Cash and all the dead Ramones with this touching medley. Enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hot Shower, Cold Beer

I effing love Red Fang... and I love that they cleverly managed to add a product placement to the intro of their latest "high" concept video, all while exposing one of my favorite male behaviors - showering and getting tanked at the same time.

Stranger on the L Train; photo by me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Metal Midlife Crisis

This guy!

Tough as it is to admit, I'm pretty damn bored with metal these days. My first clue was when I compiled my Best Of 2011 album list and realized all the bands' logos were easily decipherable. Then I noticed that I only recognized about two thirds of the acts friends and colleagues were name-checking on Twitter, and worse still, I didn't give a shit enough to look up the remaining ones. This is my crisis of faith.

I deeply respect the passion held by folks like Grim Kim and Fred Pessaro for the darker, more dissonant facets of black and death metal, but I've rarely enjoyed the genres. Too much treble, those interchangeable shrill vocals, the typical shock-for-shock's-sake imagery. Not my steez at all, but it feels like they're metal's most vibrant sects these days. Never liked Lamb of God either (no hooks at all), Ghost sounds like Blue Oyster Cult and don't even get me started on the whole embarrassing pirate/symphonic/folk metal circle jerk scene and their fucking Utilikilts. The last really great new metal record I thoroughly enjoyed was Mournful Congregation's The Book of Kings. (More 2011 metal records I liked listed here.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not chilling at home with a buttery chardonnay and the Adele record. But truth be told, the music events I'm most excited for so far in 2012 are Monster Magnet's show on Friday (Dopes to Infinity in its entirety, y'all), the new Cursive record—and catching the Afghan Whigs reunion wherever I can.

The last time something like this happened, I was in college and totally over Pantera when I started listening to tons of hardcore and punk rock. Then At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul blew my mind and pulled me back into the scene. Maybe that's what I need right now: that one unfamiliar act or at least one ridiculously good album to excite me again. Any suggestions?