Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My fav-reet albums of 2013

I'm sure ALL of y'all have been anxiously awaiting my choices for my favorite albums of 2013.  Well, here they are, with convenient videos to sample by.  In no order, really, because they're all number one on certain days.   The "best of the rest" that I listened to are listed at the bottom, sans video proof.  There was a LOT of good music this year, plus I was still highly grooving on some "last year" stuff like Rival Sons and the Darkness' "Hot Cakes". 

Lindi Ortega - Tin Star:   An absolutely lovely album by Miss Lindi.  Lily loves this particular song!

Queensryche - Queensryche:   The new Todd LaTorre-fronted 'Ryche recaptures what made them great in the first place on this EP.  Well done, gents!!

The Bronx - IV:  The Bronx are one of the finest rock bands of our time, and the 4th self-titled album is as bad-ass as the first three.

Calabrese - Born With A Scorpions Touch:    Calabrese have long transcended just being a "horror rock" band into mere awesomeness.  I think this is the best tune they've done!!

Clutch - Earth Rocker:   Earth Rocker - the album - is one of Clutch's finest, and a return to rawer rock after several bluesier albums. 

David Bowie - The Next Day:  Who would've thought Bowie would sneak out on of his very best albums this late into his career?

The Paris Thieves - The Paris Thieves:    Shelby, NC's own Paris Thieves are, quite simply, awesome. 

Valentine Wolfe - Once Upon a Midnight:  Never mind the fact that Valentine Wolfe's Once Upon a Midnight is one of my favorite albums, it also gets my vote as one of my favorite album packages.  After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the album came packaged in a hardbacked graphic novel (both of which are based on the works of Poe) with art by Jacob Wenza. 

Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies:  I am a late convert to Volbeat, but I really dig what they do.

Huntress - Starbound Beast:  Huntress are just awesomely metal. 

Wolfgang Parker - "The Father/The Son":  Wolfgang Parker's "The Father/The Son" song -- an 8-plus minute epic -- gets special mention on my "favorite albums" list because, quite frankly, there's more substance in this tune than many full albums I've heard.

Below are the rest of the albums that I loved this year.  I could very easily see many of these qualifying as "best of the year" if I chose at a different time.  Either way, not a slouch to be found here:

Black Sabbath - 13
AFI - Burials
Deep Purple - Now What
Alter Bridge - Fortress
Danko Jones - Rock and Roll is Black and Blue
Deep Swell - Lore of the Angler
Ghost -Infestissumam
HIM - Tears of Tape
Little Black Bottles - Red Velvet Werewolf
UFO - Seven Deadly
Monster Magnet - The Last Patrol
Motorhead - Aftershock
Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
Rob Zombie - Venomous Rat Regenerator
Scorpion Child - Scorpion Child
Voivod - Target Earth
Wednesday 13 - Dixie Dead
Buckcherry - Confessions
Orianthi - Heaven in this Hell
Black Star Riders - Black Star Riders

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ramblin' on my mind

Someday this will all be gone...the blanket of pollen that annually tinges my world a sickly yellow...the green southern spring of the trees against the curtain of gray as another storm sidles its way through.  In a bit will come a rain -- heavy, no doubt -- that will pass quickly and wash away the pollen for a few minutes.

There is music playing.  There is always music playing in my life.  I lament that one day these songs will play for other ears, but mine no longer.  I lament that beyond my existence there will still be incredible songs played, incredible words sung, that I shall never be able to accompany with air drums and off-key voice.

Last night my young daughter and I slow-danced to a vocal jazz song.  She's no dancer, nor am I,  but it's a dance I shall remember ever.  She said she wished my fiance' could have seen us, and I told her that some moments aren't meant to be witnessed.


Although I harbored dreams in my youth of leaving Greatness when I depart this world, I shall leave only my lovely daughter, as well as the impressions  -- good, bad, perhaps fleeting -- I have made on others.  I love and have loved deeply, and some have reciprocated.


I don't fear death.  Not yet at least.  I suppose a lifetime of spooky films and literature have addressed this in my mind.  I have no illusions that pearly gates, winged flights, and bearded men on thrones await me.  I do hope there is at least a stereo.  Just in case, Honey, juice up the iPod before you plant me.  I want to go out rocking.


It is of course no great revelation that the times we live in are too fast-paced and immediate.  So many days seem like a constant rush from dawn to dusk…out of bed to closet  to car  to school to work to store to home…dinnerhomeworkbedrepeat.    I feel like I need to slow down…enjoy the pollen, the spring trees, the storms.

Yes, I said enjoy the pollen, which has caused me such grief and medicine money over the years.  It’s a part of my life, a yearly constant, a yearly irritant.  But if the pollen is causing  me to sneez,e, that sneeze tells me I’m very alive – and most likely snotty. 

My daughter fears the thunderstorms.  I hope this passes.  Someday I hope she understands the glory of Dixie storms, the majesty of the clouds, the way the air smells ahead of the rainfall (if you can smell it in spite of the pollen).  Her mom and I used to sit on the porch of our newly built house (this was in the days when the street only had a handful of houses, and there weren’t two-story houses blocking out view) and watch the storms trundle forth until the drops tickled our toes and spotted our glasses.  Nowadays there are trees and neighbors to block the view, and there are different toes and glasses to feel the tickle of the rain.  The storms don’t care about any of that.  Sometimes they are ornery and bring tornadoes, but that’s a bit like life, I guess.  I’ve never seen a tornado, but they’ve brushed my general location a few times. I don’t mind the occasional brush with mortality they bring, but if it’s all the same to Mama Nature, you tornadoes just have your say over there, please. 


Some days I wish I could “drop out”.  Not drop-out Thoreau-stylee, because I am too much a city boy to sit in the underbrush and reflect.   Plus, there’s pollen.


I’ve tried to get in the habit of telling the people I love that I love them when we part.  And I mean it.  Some people use it as a salutation like “rock on” or “have a good day” or “enjoy your fries”.  For them “I love you” has lost its luster, methinks, and lapsed into habit.  I try to avoid overusing the word, because love shouldn’t be a habit. 


 This  all hit me during my slowdance last night, and then again when I dropped my daughter off at school this morning.  Though the days may seem long, time is short, and I need more Memories, with capital “M” fully intended.  Perhaps I should try to record a Memory per day, not necessarily something intentional or planned, but something that just happened.  Like the slowdance. 


Back to the music thing:  I always have a soundtrack, whether it’s playing on my stereo, computer, ipod, car player, or Mental Jukebox.  The Mental Jukebox holds lots more songs than the rest of  my equipment, and in general, plays the proper song for the proper occasion.  I can’t play a lick of music on any instrument that doesn’t begin with the term “air—“,

Some people leave their taste and desire for new music at the doorstep of “adulthood”.  Some people continue to dabble in “what’s hot” (hence...Adele).  Some folks have zero interest in expanding their taste or listening to challenging music anymore; they are the ones propping up country pop.  But I digress, and I don’t mean to insult.  I crave new music…new bands, new songs, new songs by old bands, old songs covered by new bands, new bands sounding like a bunch of old bands in a blender – you get the point.  If I go too many weeks (days...hours...) without new music, I get anxious.


Some people are just a special kind of different.


I  had to explain bombings and good/bad people and half-staff flags to my daughter this week.  While we’ve discussed good/bad people before, the conversation becomes more complex when you have to address  bombings and mass murders.  It’s hard to have all the answers when you don’t understand for yourself.


As much as I’m starting to feel the aches and pains and creaks of advancing age, I realize that I’m potentially just halfway through my life.  I’m game to ride this Ferris wheel as long as my tokens hold out (or until I get down to my last two tokens, because of course the ride takes three to ride). 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Favoreeeeet Musics of Twenty-Twelve.

Wellllllll, as has been my tradition since I was but a wee musical tot, here is my list of the albums that moved me the most in the past calendar year.  It is, I notice, not as musically diverse as some years, what with most of the soundtrack being provided by Guys with Amped Guitars, but I guess it was from the overwhelming Pre-Apocalyptic Angst.  Anyway, these are in loose order, with the only definite being that Rush is by far my favorite album of the year.

Rush - Clockwork Angels:  It shouldn't be right for a rock band of this vintage to make one of its absolute best albums this far into its career, but here's Exhibit A. 

The Darkness - Hot Cakes:  Rock n' roll should always be this fun. 

Foxy Shazam - Church of Rock n' Roll:  Rock n' roll should always be this fun

Dead Man's Tale - Missgeburt:  Lovely, lovely album.  Proof that hard work and perseverance can make great art, even if you are making the painful transition from noisy punkiness to something different.  Either way, were I king, these guys would be the House Band at my castle.

The Cult - Choice of Weapon:  see "Rush";   here's Exhibit B

Valentine Wolfe - Musick Most Dark:  the title says it all, and the album is brilliant.

Kamelot - Silverthorn:  Usually new singers create "Sammy/Dave"-type division in the fan ranks, but Kamelot's transition after Roy Khan left the band is pretty darn seamless:  Tommy Karevik sounds so close to Khan that if you weren't paying attention...

Soundgarden - King Animal:  I always respected Soundgarden for quitting while they were ahead, so to speak, and not flogging the proverbial dead horse.  Needless to say, I was wary of The Big Reunion, but KA proves it was a worthy musical step.  These guys are meant to be in This Band.

Danko Jones - Rock 'n Roll is Black and Blue:   Not my favorite Danko album, but still Danko.

69 Eyes - X:  Outta left field, this album that I debated even buying became a favorite.  69 Eyes aren't the most creative band in the world (witness the title of the song "I Know What You Did Last Summer"), but they pulled together a collection of memorable, catchy songs that I found myself singing along to many times (in my best goth rock voice, natch).

Van Halen - Different Kind of Truth:   I had very low expectations for this album, and it burned early for me, then faded a bit.  Still, it's Van Halen as they (Almost) Should Be, and enough of this sounded like The Old Days to make it the best album since Fair Warning, in my opinion.  Even "Tattoo" grew on me over time.  Favorite song is "You and Your Blues".

LA Guns - Hollywood Forever:  LA Guns will ever be my favorite Hollyrock band, as long as it's the version with Philip Lewis singing.  Classic era sounding stuff from a classic band.

Lindi Ortega - Cigarettes and Truckstops:  We saw Lindi with Social Distortion a bit ago, and we were totally taken with her performance and that VOICE!!  This is the kinda country I like.

Soul Asylum - Delayed Reaction:  The best SA album since Grave Dancers Union.

Turbonegro - Sexual Harassment:   Turbo also went through the dreaded "vocalist change" (this one has likely produced the "Sammy/Dave" effect).  The only band that could write a song called "Shake Your Shit Machine" and have you sing along.

Testament - Dark Roots of the Earth:  I hadn't even heard any of this album when I bought it, but I'd been listening to Testament since...'87? I took a chance.  They too, have produced one of their best albums way past their "sell-by date".

There were many more good albums I came across this year.  Some probably should have made this list, but I've prattled on enough for this post.  I hope that I never lost my passion for new music, and that as I and the bands I love age, there is still new music for me to be passionate about.  The good stuff is out there, but sometimes it takes a bit of effort and "six degrees of..." to find it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


(beginning of a story that currently has no middle or end...)

She was sure the bag had moved.

She turned left without signaling at the second stoplight, then left again.

Two more left turns and she was back where she had come from.  Ahead, on the left, she saw the nine bags of refuse.  At this distance, they looked like globs of tar tossed into a rough pyramid.  She slowed a bit as they resolved into mere garbage bags.

She was sure the bag -- the left one on the second tier down -- had moved...

...but as she drove by, nothing. 

Wind, surely.  Or the swirl of air from a passing car.  Perhaps the trash shifting inside.


Left, left, left, left.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Love Is...

Sooooo, last eve I was reading the scant liner notes in a few CDs, and had an idea that I'm going to attempt to make flesh.  Because I need to write stuff, but I still haven't had that "great American novel" idea.

Anyway, my idea is to choose various CDs/albums/whatever, and try to record memories or moments that I associate with them.  So here goes......

I used to revel in trips to used record/CD stores.  Every trip had that "christmas morning" potential where the very next CD in the rack may -- just MAY -- be that obscurity that I had been fiendin' for.

Although, more likely, it was another copy of "Blind Melon".

It was generally a fruitless exercise to go to a used store with a specific disc in mind, unless you were looking for a copy of something that had been very widely consumed, then shat out by the masses that realized it only tasted good for a few seconds. (Ahem, like "Blind Melon".)  I could probably count on one hand the times when I went to a store with specific purpose to buy a certain disc used -- without knowing it was there beforehand or being told by someone it was there -- and actually found it.

In fact, I could count it on one finger.

In this album's case, it would be, appropriately, the middle finger...

...because the ONLY time this EVER happened to me was in the early ... Naughties?  Aughties? ... anyway, some time around Y2K.

And the disc was this one....

(Middle finger included both for counting purposes and proper attitude. Eight dollar price tag still intact.)



And Snotty.

My introduction to the Dead Boys was through Pearl Jam ("Sonic Reducer" was on one of the early fan club 45s) and Guns n' Roses (on that pasta album).  They were "before my time" in musical terms, and I never was exposed to them in the interim.  It wasn't until I was playing musical Indiana Jones that I decided that perhaps I needed this album.  So, on a trip to Manifest in Charlotte, I got it in my head that I was going to look for this nugget of raucous.

And lo n' the "New Arrivals" section (probably sandwiched between "Blind Melon" and the "Bodyguard" soundtrack)...thar she blows!!

Now I'm not gonna review this album, that's not what this post is about.  It doesn't have any deep, emotional meaning for me beyond being some tasty punk rock.  

Rather, it takes me back to a time when being a music obsessive was different...when you couldn't just click a button and download practically any obscurity in a scant few seconds...when, to paraphrase a Motorhead song, the chase was often better than the catch.  

Geez, I'm turning into a relic of a bygone era.  I hope -- HOPE -- that there are still young (loud and snotty) music obsessives still coming of age and trying to track down their favorites, rather than just taking what is handed to them.  

(Here's my favorite song from this album (which I actually heard Black Joe Lewis play live a few weeks back)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are you HOT, MAMA?!?? You sure LOOK THAT WAY TO ME-EE-EEEE!!!

(Journey/Foreigner*/Night Ranger live at Verizon Wireless Clusterfuck  8/21/11 )

As an initial disclaimer, I shall not include any discussion of Mr. Humpy in this review-type-thing, as he isn't worthy of explanation.

I must admit that on my list of "bands I MUST see before I die", Night Ranger was...absent.  So it was with much dread at the impending arrival of "Sister Christian" that I turned my attention to the stage as the band (3/5 original members!!) sauntered onto the stage as if the '90s had never happened.  I admired their enthusiasm and energy, and the performance was rawkin' and very solid!  They played a REALLY good song ("Lay It On Me") from their new album and the two songs I wanted to hear ("Sing Me Away" and "Don’t Tell Me You Love Me") along with two, count 'em, Monster Ballads...including one that WASN'T EVEN THEIR SONG!!  Yep, they played "High Enough" by Damn Yankees, which singer Jack Blades was of course a part of, but still.  I guess I should be thankful that they didn't play "Secret of My Success" and shut the hell up. 

Night Ranger:

Lay It On Me
Sing Me Away
High Enough
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
Sister Christian
You Can Still Rock in America 

Mick Jones, original Foreigner member, was absent due to sickness, which left the current Foreigner line-up distressingly "original Foreigner member" free.  They were like one of those fruit drinks that has a disclaimer that says "contains no fruit juice".  In fact, they should either be referred to as "Foreigner" or Foreigner*  (*warning: contains no actual Foreigner).  Since the line-up boasted singer Kelly Hansen (SOLID on vocals!!)  -- from the hair band Hurricane -- and bassist Jeff Pilson -- from the hair band Dokken -- they could've laid more claim to either of those bands at that time.  But I digress, because, snarky line-up comments aside, Foreigner* ROCKED!!  I realized, when singing along to "Head Games" and "Hot Blooded" and all, that if one digs past the macho '70s ROCK GOD lyrics ("Can I LEAVE-YOU-MY-KEYYY!!") there are some fine chunks of rock to be had in the Foreigner* songbook.  Like "Double Vision".  And "Dirty White Boy". Especially "Dirty White Boy." For reference, Foreigner's* set also included two Monster Ballads in "Waiting For A Girl Like You" and "I Want To Know What Love Is" further proving that while one can certainly dig past cheese in quest of Powerful Rock Riffs, when there is nothing before you but cheese, then...let the middle-age housewifeyness begin!!  Anyway, to sum up, Kelly Hansen's vocals plus riffage equal goodly amounts of rock to be had.  Woulda been nice to have someone from Foreigner playing with Foreigner* though.


Double Vision
Head Games
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like the First Time
I Wanna Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

Jukebox Hero

Y'know, I was gonna write up a grand review of Journey's segment of the show, but hell, I'm just gonna keep it simple: after 30 years of loving the band without seeing them, Journey were breath-taking.  Theirs was a flawless, energetic, impassioned performance by a band that certainly seems to be re-energized by their new singer and renewed popularity (did I mention the venue was either sold out just a few tickets shy of it?).  And if you wouldn't be somehow invigorated, inspired and goosebumpy hearing however many thousand people singing "Don't Stop Believin'" in unison, you are too jaded, bitter, and cynical, and need to loosen up. 

And don't even give me any grief about Steve Perry. 


Separate Ways
Ask the Lonely
Send Her My Love
City of Hope
Stone in Love
Edge of the Moment
Wheel in the Sky
Open Arms
La Do Da
Be Good To Yourself
Any Way You Want It

Don’t Stop Believin’
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


So earlier tonight, I was ruminating about my disgust for the political state of our country -- you know, the way the politicians bicker, feud, point fingers, and generally stick their tongues out at each other for the sake of their "parties", rather than trying to compromise for the good of the COUNTRY!!!!!! -- when it occurred to me:  we should HAVE no musical "guilty pleasures".

We all have them, right?  You might be a straightfoward Dave Matthews kinda person with a secret love of "Too Drunk to Fuck" by the Dead Kennedys.

Or, hell, a Dead Kennedys fan with a secret love of Dave Matthews. 

Anyway, what brought this to mind tonight was the Foo Fighters (as well as a discussion a few days ago with a friend).  I'm firmly convinced that Dave Grohl doesn't have "guilty pleasures".  He covered Gerry Rafferty's mid-'70s hit "Baker Street" (one of MY "guilty" songs, incidentally).  And not in a jokey "ironic" way, but with feeling (at least that's how I hear it).  Now I KNOW there was a lot of ironic covering in the '90s and '00s (ahem, "Smooth Criminal" anyone?).  And much of it fell flat, in my opinion, simply because there was so MUCH of it. 

But I digress.  I have just come to the opinion, at least in regards to my own musical tastes, that the "guilty" needs to be removed from "guilty pleasures".

Dig:  I have a CD of Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits.  It sits on my CD shelf in close proximity to Mayhem, the Mary Shelley Overdrive, Bob Marley, the Matadors, Magic Sam and Mastodon.  Now, in times past, I would winkingly admit to owning the Barry CD and further remark (as above) on its position in my "M" pantheon.

But wait: a Mayhem/Mastodon/etc. fan, Barry is a "guilty pleasure", yes?  So...if I'm a Barry Manilow fan -- someone that likes Barryesque music in general -- that happens to own "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", wouldn't that make MAYHEM my "guilty pleasure"?

I just proclaimed my love for Journey in my previous post.  Surely they are a "guilty pleasure" to certain factions of my friends, but other compadres del Wolffe may proudly proclaim that Journey are the bee's knees.

Should I feel bad for some reason for liking this song....

....or this one.... the same time I like this one?

...or this one?

Anyway, I guess my point is, I have moved past thinking it's "cool" to like certain stuff.  Or "uncool".  I may disparage your like for that detestable Black Eyed Peas song (you know the one), but if it makes you happy, who the frak cares what I think, yes?  (This doesn't preclude me from pointing out that the song sucks, however.  I may have had a revelation, but I'm still an ass.)  If my iTunes jumps from Danko Jones (who I think is "cool") to Foreigner (who I thought were cool in 1977) to something I have ended up with in my playlist inadvertantly but have NEVER considered cool, such as this...

...well, that's just me and my questionable taste in music.  I used to try to impress people with it.  Hell, I guess I still try.  But it doesn't matter.  Like whatcha like; jam what you want.  Just listen to music, because if you don't have music in your soul, then you are SOULLESS, LIKE THE MASS OF SELF-SERVING, CHILDISH POLITICIANS.

(Comments?  Thoughts?)