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Archive for the ‘Aerosmith’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 6, 2019] Steve Page Trio

I saw the Steven Page Trio about a year ago in Philadelphia.  When he announced that he was touring some more and coming to Bethlehem, I grabbed tickets for me and S. right away.

S. doesn’t really know his solo stuff at all, but she is a fan of BNL and has always said how much she liked his voice, so I thought it would be a fun, relaxing, seated event.

We were so close, we were literally right next to the stage.  When you’re standing, its a coveted spot, but when you’re seated, it’s terrible!  Luckily, they moved Dean Friedman’s giant monitor out of my way so I could actually see them all.  But in hindsight, sitting a few seats back would have been far preferable.

The weirdest thing is every time he picked up or put down his water bottle I thought he was going to talk to me (he didn’t).

I love being up close, the angles were just all wrong.  Any pictures I took were going to be of Steven’s crotch (!).   Fortunately, the vocals sounded fine.

I have learned from past experiences that seeing an artist a few months apart often means the same or a similar setlist.  And that’s what happened here.  Although when I look at other recent shows I see that he seems to have a kind of rotating setlist of some of the songs.  I saw that the night a few nights before us was amazing with “Alternative Girlfriend” (the song I really wanted to hear!) and “Someone Who’s Cool” an Odds cover!  They also played “Manchild,” my favorite new song of his and “Break Your Heart” both of which I have heart before but, come on, they are awesome.  Incidentally Odds opened for Steven Page in Canada.  Once again I wish I was above thee border not for political reasons. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

This is, indeed a cover of Roberta Flack’s song.

It’s not often that a cover is so willfully defiant of the original without actually trying to mess with it.

This is a ponderous, ten-minute version of the song, punctuated by loud, echoing drumbeats keeping a slow pace.  The music is essentially distorted electronic chord changes on the beats and occasional twinkling keyboard notes throughout.

The song is sung in the audio equivalent of soft-focus by Erykah Badu.

It is a hard song to parse. Badu’s voice sounds great.  The contrast to the original music is stark and yet it is sonically more interesting than the treacly original.  On the other hand, it is long and, if the mood is wrong, slow and boring.

It’s a song I thought I would likely skip were I listening to the whole disc, and yet listening to it right now, the 10 minutes went by like nothing.  So maybe it is pretty great after all.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Interesting Women”

Interesting women–are we ever going to be free of them?

So starts this story of an interesting woman.

She is concerned because all new acquaintances

seem to be gorgeous lesbians or bisexuals whose intoxicating charm fed straight into hot wet tumbles between rented sheets.

The narrator is on holiday with her daughter, Basia, in Thailand.  Their hotel is swimming with interesting women.

The narrator and Basia are kayaking when an interesting woman approaches them.  She is in her fifties, looking good without pushing it.  The woman asks how hard it is and then says that kayaking is on her list of things to do that scare her,  The woman’s name is Silver, well, its one of her real names. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARAH-Kids in Philly (2000).

After reading about Marah in Hornby’s post I decided to listen to their Kids in Philly CD.

I totally get why Hornby likes them and I can absolutely imagine what their live show would be like.

They’ve absolutely got the whole Springsteen vibe–good time rock and roll with close harmony backing vocals.

There’s a harmonica instead of a saxophone (I prefer the harmonica) on “Faraway You: and there’s even xylophones like on Springsteen’s Christmas song on “Point Breeze.”  The horns (and the chanted “come ons”) do appear, this time on “Christian Street.”

“It’s Only Money Tyrone” slows things down with slinky groove and a sound that’s less bar-band.  “My Heart is the Bums on the Street” feels like a quieter Springsteen song–classic rock with gentle vibes and a clap-along feel.  Although I suppose like he sounds more like Craig Finn than Bruce Springsteen.

“The Catfisherman” is a stomping honky-tonking song with an Aerosmith vibe.  “Round Eye Blues” slows things down with a simple melody (in the vein of U2s “With or Without You”).  It also recycles all kinds of early rock n roll lyrics into its own melody, which is fun.

“From the Skyline” has a great guitar riff/solo running through it with a bit more distortion thrown on top.  “Barstool Boys” sounds a bit like The Replacements’ “Here Comes A Regular” only with banjo.  “The History of Where Someone Has Been Killed” adds some acoustic guitar while “This Town” keeps the mood with a quiet album ender.

I am genuinely surprised that this band wasn’t more popular.  They would seem to push a lot of classic classic-rock buttons.

I only wish I had some idea why they chose that name.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Rock of Ages”

After reading Hornby’s 2000 review of Marah I found this 2004 review of Marah.  Since I had seen that they later did a tour together, I was curious what this lengthy review would be about.  It’s about seeing Marah live and lamenting that a band this good should have to resort to “passing the hat” for tips.

He says

Philadelphia rock ‘n’ roll band Marah is halfway through a typically ferocious, chaotic and inspirational set.  My friends and I have the best seats in the house, a couple of feet away from Marah’s frontmen, Serge and Dave Bielanko.  The show ends triumphantly, as Marah shows tend to do, with Serge lying on the floor amid the feet of his public, wailing away on his harmonica.

What I love about them is that I can hear everything I ever loved about rock music in their recordings and in their live shows … because they are unafraid of showing where their music comes from, and unafraid of the comparisons that will ensue

This show was at a small pub in England.  Which seems a shame since a few months earlier (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVE EARLE-Transcendental Blues (2000).

I’ve never really liked Steve Earle’s music.  For some reason I always thought of him as a kind of outlaw country.  But the review of this album from Hornby made me want to check it out.  And while there are certainly country music trappings, this is a solid fun rock record.

Earle’s voice isn’t what I thought it was (or wasn’t was it is now)–it’s much softer and much higher than I imagined.  So what’s going on on this record?

“Transcendental Blues” has a great distorted guitar riff running opposite the throbbing bassline.  Earle’s voice sounds like a cross between Dylan, Petty and (anachronistically) Kevin Devine.  “Everyone’s in Love with You” sounds like a rocking R.E.M. song with a very 90s vocal style and even a reverse guitar solo.

“Another Town” sounds like a song that I’ve heard a million times (but I haven’t).  It’s a simple pop song with a crazy catchy melody and it’s barely 2 minutes long.  “I Can’t Wait” slows things down a bit with a real poppy Matthew Sweet-vibe.

“The Boy Who Never Cried” is a dirgey song, slow and story telling.  It has strings with a slightly Middle Eastern feel.

“Steve’s Last Ramble” is a stompin’ song with full on harmonica introduction (which makes it seem even more Dylan).  “The Galway Girl” is a mandolin-based stomper while “Lonelier Than This” is a quiet, sad song.

“Wherever I Go” is only two minutes ling and has a country feel, even though it’s not that different from the other songs.  The guitar solo is totally early Beatles, but the lyrics are pure country:

I could drink corn whisky ’til my brain goes soft
I could run this highway ’til my wheels come off

The harmonica returns on “When I Fall” the start of a trifecta of country songs.  His drawl really comes out here, possibly because of his duet partner (Steve Earle’s sister, Stacey Earle, a country singer in her own right).  It’s a shame this song is so long as it’s my least favorite.

“I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet” is a simple country pop song (the twang remains).  Although “Halo ‘Round the Moon” is a softer song with a gentle shuffle beat.  “Until the Day I Die” continues with the old school country/bluegrass style with a big ol’ banjo intro, close harmonies, and a fiddle solo.  You can imagine a jug solo, hand clappin’ and a hoedown in a live version.

“All of My Life” rocks out again, with some loud bass and distorted guitar, which I desperately needed after those last few songs.

The disc ends with “Over Yonder (Jonathan’ Song).”  From songfacts:

This song is about the execution-by injection of Jonathan Nobles, which Steve Earle witnessed. The alt-country star told Mojo magazine May 2008 about it: “I don’t recommend it. I befriended Jonathan for several months beforehand. Then I saw the execution and later brought his remains to England for burial according to his wishes. But the execution was incredibly toxic to me. It’s hard. You can’t believe it’s really happening. I remember afterwards I thought, ‘did I black out and miss it? I let Jonathan down.’ Then the blank filled in… it was the shock… I realized exactly what I’d seen. I can’t see myself doing it again. I’ve absorbed enough death. And I still work hard against the death penalty.”

So I’m still on the fence about Earle, but I did enjoy this record much more than I thought I would.  Thanks, Nick.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Alternative Earle”

I am aware of Steve Earle and I really like his lyrics.  I don’t love his music though–too much country in the alt-country.  Although Hornby describes it as Nashville folk and rock n roll hybrid.  But man, his lyrics are great.  I wish I liked him a bit more especially after reading this review.

Hornby is a passionate music lover and anything he likes sounds great when he describes it.

The album in question is Transcendental Blues (and in the photo Earle’s beard is much shorter than it is now).  As of 2000, Earle has been married and divorced six times (to five women–4 and 6 were the same person). In 1994 he was imprisoned for possessing narcotics.  This sentence ending years of heroin addiction. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2016] Pearl Jam

2016-08-07 18.26.10After the excitement of seeing Pearl Jam at the Wells Fargo Center, we were psyched out of our minds to go to Fenway.  I didn’t realize that Fenway has a regular concert series.  I’d assumed that Pearl Jam were the first band to play there–they weren’t–but that didn’t detract in any way from the coolness of the venue.

Neither of us are baseball fans, although when I lived in Boston two decades ago, I did attend a couple of games at Fenway because it is a landmark (and when I was a kid I loved baseball, so duh).  But we knew that the venue would make the show even more special.

We’d have loved to have gone to both shows, but unlike some people, we couldn’t get tickets for both nights.  However, through a small piece of luck, I won tickets to a screening of Friday night’s show on Saturday night.  What?  Well, each night is filmed.  So the film crew filmed Friday night, then edited the footage together and had it ready on the next night as a really nicely edited package at the House of Blues (across the street from Fenway) on Saturday night.

It seemed kind of dumb to go to a music venue to watch a movie.  And Sarah and I were skeptical about going.  But we did and we had a  great time.  I’ve watched live DVDs and it’s always an okay thing to do–fun, but never like you were really there. But this was different. Having a group of some 600 people in a club–with bars and good lighting and excellent sound–it made it feel (almost) like a real concert.  And even though we laughed at the people who were clapping and cheering (as if the band were actually there), and taking videos of the screen (my battery died or I would have grabbed a few screen shots too), we were caught up in the excitement on several occasions as well. (more…)

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homeawaySOUNDTRACK: DAVE BIDINI—The Paramount Moncton, NB [audience & soundboard recordings] (July 29, 2007).

monct This final show has two different recordings at the Rheostaticslive site, an audience recording and a soundboard. The soundboard recording is cleaner and I suppose better, but the audience recording is a little more fun because you can hear the audience responding to Bidini’s comments and jokes.

For the reading he asks if people want London or Finland, and so he reads Finland.  He reads the funny story about trying to get a cheap 30 pound flight to anywhere only to get hit with a huge fine for having too much stuff.  The section ends with a funny moment when a Finnish audience member compliments him:  Your voice is excellent!  Dave is excited since that’s not something he hears to often.  The man follows up with: “You pronounce English very well.”

He plays seven songs all on acoustic guitar.  Three of the songs are Rheostatics classics: “Fat,” “Me and Stupid” and “My First Rock Show.” I feel like hearing “Me and Stupid” in this setting really let me get the lyrics better–I never really understood the middle section. All three songs sound good in this format.

The “solo” songs are the same four: “Song Ain’t Good,” “The List” “The Land is Wild” and “The Ballad of Zeke Roberts.”

While talking to the crowd he mentions seeing signs on the road: “Free PEI Spuds for Cheap Trick” and “Red Sox nation welcomes Aerosmith.”  He mentioned them in the previous days’ show as well, but in this show it sounds like someone claims to have written them (or at least seen them) but we never learn what they are all about.

He sounds great and the audience is responsive.  Of the three, I like this show the best.

[READ: November 10, 2015] Home and Away

My triumvirate of Bidini books ended with this one.

I had never heard of the Homeless World Cup (which is kind of the point of the book, that no one has).  But as you can imagine, knowing that that’s what this book is about you can be prepared for a pretty sad book.

Bidini follows a small group (4 players, including one woman) of Canadian homeless soccer players as they travel to Australia to play in the 2008 Homeless World Cup.

We meet the four players on the Canadian team and learn all about how they became homeless (a variety of reasons, but drugs feature prominently).  These people were able to get above their bad situation, most of them through the joy of playing soccer–a cheap game even for the homeless.

The Homeless World Cup gathers homeless players from around the world to play in small venues on a small pitch. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2012] Mötley Crüe

Back in 1998, I saw Aerosmith and Monster Magnet play a set at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA.  It was my first time seeing Aerosmith and I was a little bummed that Stephen Tyler had broken his leg.  He was amazingly limber and nimble for a guy in a leg cast, but I’m sure he could have done a lot more if he was unhampered by injury.

Fourteen years later, I’m back on Montage Mountain to see Kiss and Mötley Crüe.  And just a few days before this show Vince Neil broke his foot.  While he’s not quite the acrobatic showman as Stephen Tyler, he was definitely hampered amidst the excitement of their stage show.  It didn’t affect his voice though.

I liked Mötley Crüe’s first two albums quite a lot.  I liked Theater of Pain a lot less–even if “Home Sweet Home” was the biggest song in the world at the time.  What is it about a piano ballad that drives hard rocker people crazy?

Since then the Crüe have released some 5 albums and have had a half-dozen or so hits (some pretty massive).  Of course, I never liked the glammier or even the more “rock n roll” sound of their later albums.  I had pretty much given up on them altogether.  So I didn’t really care much that they were opening for Kiss at this show.

But I will say this–Mötley Crüe put on one hell of a spectacle.  And that’s what some concerts are all about.  There were scantily clad women swinging on ropes and walking on stilts and bringing guitars to the band and dancing abstractly (that’s got to be a very hard job–pretending to dancing rhythmically and sexily to Motley Crue for an entire song).  [If you object to the exploitation of women, this is not the show for you–I sure hope they are well compensated].  There were guys with firehoses shooting the audience (which I assume was a wet T-shirt extravaganza), there were bottles of champagne poured onto the crowd, there was fire and more fire and more and more fire.  And there was Tommy Lee’s drumset–more on that. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KISS-Gene Simmons (1978).

Even all these year later I feel like there is something very “polished” about this album.  It feels different from the others for an intangible reason.  I like it quite a bit,and yet it doesn’t sound like a record from a demon with blood leaking out of his mouth.  Maybe it’s the surprisingly faithful (and delicate) cover of “When You Wish Upon a Star”?  Maybe it’s the cameo by Cher?  Maybe it’s the weird effects on “Radioactive”?  The whole things just seems different to me.

It starts out menacing enough with the creepy laughing and the crazy strings (like a Disney nightmare) and the chanting (what is that chanting–its sounds demonic but they seem to be saying Hosannah?).  And it all swirls into a…disco sounding guitar?  “Radioactive” is a wonderful ditty and shows that Gene, while not exactly a good singer, has more range than the God of Thunder would have suggested.   (That’s Aerosmith’s Joe Perry on guitar).  “Burning Up with Fever” opens with a bizarre, really out of tune guitar intro (that’s two songs with crazy intros).  This feels much more Kiss than anything else on the album, although again, it’s very slick feeling.  And surprisingly, I like the backing vocals on this track–especially the solo that the woman takes–hey is that Katey Segal?  No evidently it is Donna Summer (!!).  I guess Katey was one of the backing chorus on some other songs.  (And that’s Steely Dan’s Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar).

Musically, I rather like “See You Tonite,” but I find his vocals a little weird on this one.  It’s such a sweet song…again, unusual for the demon (Skunk Baxter on guitar, again).  “Tunnel of Love” seems quite sinister in the beginning with a great bass line.  And then the chorus kicks in with these delicate la las (Skunk Baxter on guitars again–Katey Sagal must be in there somewhere).  “True Confessions” has a pretty hilarious choir in the middle of the song.  My mom felt that “Living in Sin” was bad publicity for the Holiday Inn.  Although I thought it was a very funny line (and yes, Cher is the squeaking fangirl and Joe Perry is on guitar again).  “Always Near You/Nowhere to Hide” is a really slick track in which Gene shows of his more delicate singing style.  The first half is a gentle acoustic track but it builds into a high concept highly produced track–and let’s not forget the amazing high notes he hits (is that really him?).

“Man of 1,000 Faces” is another song with sinister sounds in the verses (cool strings, and is that french horn?) and then a gentle, swelling chorus.  “Mr Make Believe” begins the delicate ending of the album (Skunk Baxter, again).  This is a sweet ballad, showing a very gentle side of Gene.  There’s a little diversion in his cover of Kiss’ “See You in Your Dreams.”  This version rocks harder than the Kiss version, and the backing vocals lend a weird edge to the song which is why I like it better than the one on Rock and Roll Over (that’s Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen on guitar).  And then yes, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”  My dad laughed about as hard at the demon guy singing this song as he did about the butch biker guy singing “Oh Danny Boy” in the Village People movie Can’t Stop the Music (which we watched as a family.

Gene’s solo album charted the highest when they were released, although now Ace’s has sold more.  It’s pretty great.

[READ: October 8, 2011] “To Catch a Beat”

There were four one-page pieces in this week’s New Yorker under the heading “Sticky Fingers.”  Each one was about theft in some way (this being the money issue, that ‘s a nice connection).

Lethem, who now appears here twice in just a few short days, also breaks the mould set up by Miranda July (so I guess 2 of four stories about shoplifting is not so much a mould as a half).  Indeed, Lethem goes against all the conventions of the other pieces, for in this story, Lethem is not the thief at all.  There is hardly any thieving going on here.

This story is about Lethem working in used book stores in Brooklyn as a kid.  He mentions several different places where he worked, nut the story focuses on one in particular.  The name isn’t important to the story (in fact it doesn’t exist anymore).  But what happens there is the crux of the story.  It’s basically about a friend of Allan Ginsberg’s armed Herbert Huncke (who I’ve never heard of).  Huncke was a major fixture for the Beats, and is written about (in disguised form) by Burroughs and Kerouac.   But he was also a junkie and an ex-con.  And he came into this bookstore regularly. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE CHIEFTAINS-The Long Black Veil

Like the Dubliners, The Chieftains are a bunch of old men who play traditional Irish music.  Unlike the Dubliners, they have gained a fan base beyond the trad scene.  This album in particular features a great deal of crossover material.

Guest singers include: Sting (singing in Irish!), The Rolling Stones, Sinéad O’ Connor, Marianne Faithfull,Van Morrison and Tom Jones (!)

The Sinéad tracks are really great, as she uses her voice wonderfully on the spare musical tracks. “The Foggy Dew” is particularly powerful, and “He Moved Through the Fair” isn’t too shabby either).

Sting’s track is very Sting (with trad accompaniment); Mick Jagger sings the title track, but it doesn’t do a lot for me.  Van Morrison is Van Morrison, regardless of who he’s playing with.  And Tom Jones is so over the top on “Tennessee Waltz” that it’s hard not to laugh with him.

The song with no guests, “Changing Your Demeanor” is a cute Oirishy song with deedly-ee-ayes.

It’s the final song, “The Rocky Road to Dublin” (which I’ve already said is a favorite by other artists) that fares the worst here.  About midway through the song, The Stones seem to burst in (think Run DMC & Aerosmith but a lot older) and play a really sloppy version of “Satisfaction” while The Chieftains are playing their trad song.  Nobody fares well in this version and it’s a shame to have included it on an otherwise good disc.

This is not really a good place to hear the Chieftains as a trad outfit.  It’s certainly more of a showcase album.  But it might work as a crossover introduction to some of these songs.  And yes, the album is very adult contemporary…there’s not a lot of rocking going on here.

[READ: Week of August 16, 2010] Ulysses: Episode 15 [Circe]

This is the Episode I remember most from my previous reads.  I didn’t remember the details, mind you, just the absolute insanity of it.  This is also the place where you can look if you’ve ever wondered why this book was brought up on obscenity charges.  Those first few chapters, with the outhouse and the impure thoughts are mild; even Bloom’s masturbation, while controversial doesn’t hold a candle to all of the insanity that is contained within this Episode.

It was also the only week where we read just one Episode.  And that’s because it is loooooong.  True, it is written in play form (ie, lots of white space), but it is still about 4 times longer than any other Episode.  And man is it a doozy.

I’ve already read that Daryl was just going to write WTF about this Episode.  Of course, that’s sort of what I felt about the previous one, so I guess it’s no surprise that I did enjoy the nonsense of this one.  I’ve always had a great appreciation for the absurd, so this is right up my alley.  This is not in any way to suggest that I understood it, even a little.  But there were parts that I laughed at and parts that I smiled at and parts that I practically blushed at.  Good fun!

Of course, the big question in this chapter is (aside from what the hell is going on and why is it so long) what’s real and what’s Bloom’s fever dream.  This is preceded by the big question of why Bloom is having these fever dreams (or whatever they are).  I’ve been under the impression that he is drunk (but my tenuous following of the previous chapter makes me a little unsure just how drunk he was or if he drank at all.)

In a nutshell what happens is that Stephen (and Lynch) go to the red light district.  Bloom follows behind.  Bloom had a massive memory flashback/acid trip/freak out, and then he “rescues” Stephen (and his money) from the brothel.  He can’t save Stephen from getting punched in the face by a soldier, but he is able to keep him from getting arrested (with Corny Kelleher’s invaluable help).  Bloom, despite his inaction, then offers to take Stephen home.   (more…)

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maynard.jpgSOUNDTRACK: MONSTER MAGNET-4 Way Diablo (2007).

4way.jpgMy friend Matt and I saw Monster Magnet open for Aerosmith in Scranton, Pa many many moons ago. We had never heard of them, but were really impressed by their set. I especially enjoyed the song he introduced as “I Know Life’s a Bummer, Baby, But That’s Got Precious Little to Do with Me.” (Fact is, I was sold by the title alone). This song would of course be “Bummer” from the Powertrip album. That album became the soundtrack of our summer.

Evidently Dave Wyndorf, the singer, had a life threatening drug overdose not too long ago, and, much to my delight, came back from his experience pretty well unchanged, at least as far as his lyrics go. He’s still out in space, with a cock made of vinyl, amongst other fascinating details. Although perhaps the most fascinating thing for me was to find that he’s over 50 years old. Whoo hoo indeed!

This new album rocks just as hard, is just as trippy as the last few records (the first few ones were actually more trippy and less metal) and still really really catchy. There must be something in the water in beautiful Red Bank, NJ, because Wyndorf knows how to crank out a stellar album. It took me until 2008 to get this record, even though it’s a 2007 release, but I would say it was one of the best of 2007. Even the instrumental “Freeze and Pixillate” is fantastic. It comes near the end of the album and seems to revitalize it, as the three tracks that follow are some of the best on the disc.

So, really, how to describe the record? It’s a metal record for its bass heavy sensibilities, but it also grooves really well, and probably just falls into a heavy rock category more than metal. (And they cover a Rolling Stones song “2000 Light Years from Home,” so that shows you some of their influences, anyhow). They’re often referred to as stoner metal, and that’s probably got to do with the weird lyrics he writes: “Like a stone God, I drink from the moon.” Probably the real selling point of the band, though, is Wyndorf’s voice. He doesn’t scream, although he can from time to time, but he’s got a great mellow singing voice; even when the music is fast and furious, his voice remains calm and, okay, I admit, sorta stoned.

There’s really not a bad song on the record, and even though none could match the majesty of “Bummer” I’ve been listening to it over and over again.

[READ: January 10, 2008] Maynard and Jennica.

I saw an ad for this book in The Believer. This was the first time The Believer had accepted ads, and they promised the ads would be for books we would find interesting. At this point, the ads have been only for books, and I have in fact read several of them already. But at the time of the ad for Maynard and Jennica, I wasn’t sure what I thought about them doing ads. Well, I am now all for it. Maynard and Jennica was a great, great read. (more…)

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