Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's Never Too Early to Plan a Badass Trip

So, me and three of my friends are currently planning on going on a canoe trip in August up to my favorite place in the country, aka the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  Located in Northern Minnesota, in the Superior National Forest, my family has been going since my dad was about my age.  My uncle goes like three times annually, and the last time I went, I went with him and a family friend for a week of canoeing, fishing, and heavy drinking.  This ain't your grandma's camping trip.  This is packing only what can fit in a canoe, foods that only need water and fire to be cooked, no metal or glass containers, and miles of unspoiled wilderness.  Usually, yes, you see other people (especially on our planned route, because none of my friends have been there before), but you can get to the remote interior of the Wilderness and not see another person for day, especially in Quetico Provencial Park, which is on the Canadian side (hence the Boundary in Boundary Waters).  I'm super fucking stoked, even if it's five months away.  I've been wanting to take friends with me for years, and most of us are finally in a place where we have the flexibility to go on a trip.  It's gonna be baller.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Trying to shove my head through a concrete wall

 Edit: Everything went better than expected.  It was the distributor cap.  Which was only a little over a hundred bucks to fix.  My paranoia got the best of me yet again.  Thanks for letting me rant!

Shit always happens when shit starts to get better.  Period.  That is how shit rolls these past few years for me.  I catch a break, and shit goes to fucking shit.

My car died.  Like an hour ago.  At an intersection.  I stopped at a red light, and immediately when I tried to go after it turned green, it died.  Eighty-eight dollars later and its sitting in a parking space outside my mechanic.  I have to call them in the morning to have them start fixing it.  Then I have to call my insurance agent to see if I can get the tow reimbursed because I have roadside assistance, but they neglected to provide me the actual number for it.  Eighty-eight dollars to tow it like a quarter of a mile, because my mechanic was literally just down the street from where it died.

So, no more being picky about a job.  I can't afford to be.  I've been bleeding money at a steady rate, and I know this is going to take a major chunk out of my cash reserves.  I'm going to have to suck it up and find something that pays so I can get my bank account back on track for the summer.  So I can attend classes at a nearby community college to get my paralegal certification.  That's what I was going to do.  Get a good job so I can take a lot of financial pressure off of myself.  Which would give me a lot of flexibility in the future.  But, that shit costs money.  I figured I could do it with a part-time job, so I could kick major ass in class and try to boost my marketability after I complete the certification.  Now, not so much.  Gotta try and get something to pull me out of what is surely going to be a sweet financial mess.  Fucking A.

This Masked Intruder song is somewhat applicable, because I found out from the tow guy that if I had called it in myself, instead of letting the cop who showed up to block traffic do it, I could have save 20 bucks on the tow.  Hindsight.  20/20.  All that shit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guitar and other things

I started playing my guitar again over the past few weeks at the urging of a friend of mine.  And I'm fucking terrible.  There was a time back in college where I was mediocre, but I spent the three years since practicing at a minimal amount, meaning I'm completely shitty.  My friend wants to revisit a conversation wherein we start a band, which I'm cool with.  I would love to play a few local shows with the multitude of local bands I know and am friends with, but, as before mentioned, I'm fucking shitty.  Decisions to be made.  Guess I'll just keep practicing in the meantime.  I have notice a bit of an improvement with muscle memory, but not much.

So, LA band The Bronx has a new album out and it's pretty fucking awesome.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2012 Part Three: The Dregs

These here are the albums that I loved, but are of a varying number of genres or sub-genres that don't fit in the other two categories (Spoiler alert: mostly rock).  Enjoy

5. The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet

The Mars Volta is now dead and buried (until their reunion), but left in their wake my favorite album since Deloused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute.  Gotta love fucking Prog rock.  It's a weird and swirling mass of instruments, and Noctourniquet is no exception.  It's a strange, proggy trip, man.  Also, instead of a straight up album track rip, I went with a live version of "The Malkin Jewel" because it's pretty fucking glorious.  RIP Mars Volta

4. The Men - Open Your Heart

Another band that decided it was going to do back to back releases in 2011 and 2012, The Men are an Indie/noise rock group that hits in all the right places.  I ended up picking up this cd by accident, but it was so good that I didn't care.  Just rocked the crap out of it.

3. The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

I was initially worried when my favorite New Jersey export since Bruce Springsteen were signed to a major label, fearing Against Me! syndrome.  However, they pulled it out.  A lot less punk than in past releases, which is why I didn't include it with the punk releases.  I really like it (though less than previous releases American Slang or The '59 Sound).  A solid, rocking album which proves that while a band becomes more accessible on a major label, it doesn't necessarily have to be a death sentence.

2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! 

I did not know Godspeed You! Black Emperor was releasing a new album until right before it came out.  These bitches have been  post-rocking since the 90s, and this is there first release in a decade or so.  Well worth the wait.

1. Swans - The Seer

Holy fucking shit.  A titanic album by a titanic band.  Words don't adequately describe


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Favorite Albums of 2012 Part Two: Punk RAWK

Its always super difficult for me to try and pick favorite Punk albums from a calendar year, because I always feel like I'm not listening to enough albums.  The smaller, less noticed bands stuff is always harder to get ahold of, so I feel like I don't have enough shit to work with.  But, in the end, I always do.  However, already this year in 2013, two well-known punk bands released really good albums. I would probably have included Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood or Bad Religion's True North on this list, but that would break da rules.  So without further ado: My Favorite PUNK Albums of 2012!

5. Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead

Tragedy is a legendary crust/hardcore band that was born out of the ashes of one of the most influential crust bands of the 90s: His Hero is Gone.  Sticking to an incredibly strict DIY ethic when it comes to their releases, Darker Days Ahead illustrates the abrasive, heavy sound that Tragedy is known and respected for.  It's their first release in quite some time, and definitely stands up with the rest of their discography

4. Code Orange Kids - Love is Love // Return to Dust

Code Orange Kids are a changing of the guard with modern hardcore.  One of the issues I have with the scene is that on a nigh constant basis, it seems that Punks are always retracting into comfortable nostalgia instead of pushing the envelope of sound towards new and awesome places.  Code Orange Kids do not do that, and that reason is probably why Jacob Bannon of Converge signed them to Deathwish records to put out Love is Love // Return to Dust.  Heavy, inventive hardcore.  Plus, one of their guitarists is a woman, which I always think is awesome is hell.  The Punk scene is still a fucking boys club, and it's always awesome to see gender roles and outdated concepts of femininity shattered by a woman who is just as hardcore as any other fuckstain out there.

3. Title Fight - Floral Green

Hell to the yes.  I included Title Fight's last release on my list for 2011, and I had no idea they were going to be super productive and rock out another great record in 2012.  Floral Green is pretty spectacular, emotional, poppy punk.  It's like a glorious mix between Lifetime and Sunny Day Real Estate: all intense, no bullshit, no filler.

2. Propagandhi - Failed States

Propagandhi is perhaps the most political band that I listen to.  And I love them for it.  They lean really far to the left, and whenever I listen to them, it connects me to my politicized, hell-raising youth.  Like when I got detained in Minneapolis in 2006 for protesting the Republican National Convention.  I've been listening to these guys for a long time, and the only thing I really disagree with is there harsh vegan stance (I regularly consume the dead flesh of animals).  As such, I've heard the complete evolution of their sound from their early days as straight up punk rock to their modern, melodic hardcore sound, which even contains elements of thrash.  Failed States is another great entry to their discography.  They maintain that tense energy, like a riot is bubbling under the surface, and a great technicality to their music that makes there messages seem more genuine.  Worth listening to for the music alone.

1. Masked Intruder - Masked Intruder

Fuck to the fuck to the fuck yes.   Masked Intruder is pop punk band that wears ski masks of different colors while preforming, and sing songs about breaking the law, the police, and girls.  It's pretty awesome.  This is their first release since being signed to Fat Wreck Chords, the record label owned by Fat Mike of NOFX.  To make it even more awesome, they're from Madison, Wisconsin.  I've seen them like three or four times in the past year.  I think it's cool as hell that someone from the local scene made it.  Possibly the greatest thing about it is that its encouraging everyone else to try hard as fuck.  There have been so many great punk shows going on in Madison recently that I'm hemorrhaging money like a motherfucker.  It's incredibly catchy, toe-tapping pop punk.  Which is made all the better when you're shoulder to shoulder with strangers in front of the stage and everyone is singing along.  Btw, this album officially came out last year, but the vinyl wasn't released until this month on Fat Wreck.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2012 Part One: METAL \m/

I'm taking a break from my pathetic sadness to show off my music taste of the past year.  2012 was quite the doozy as far as metal goes, let me tell you.  Two of my absolute favorite metal bands released new albums, and both were incredible, making the decision for number one really hard and really easy at the same time.  Two other bands I've liked for some time came out with new albums that are officially my favorite of their discographies.   Let's get started.

5. Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax II: The Future Sequence

The Parallax II  is a follow up full length album to Between the Buried and Me's EP from 2011 entitled The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues.  The EP itself was really fucking good, but being only part of the whole concept, it was lacking.  Parallax II followed it up excellently. It's prog metal at its best. The pool of influence that BTBAM drew from is impressive, and it's a fantastically technical album.

4. High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis

Goddamn.  Not only is this my favorite High on Fire album to date, it's also about the Cthulhu Mythos, which is fucking fantastic.  De Vermis Mysteriis is one heavy, sludgy album, illustrating Matt Pike's masterage of guitar riffage.  I had the added bonus of seeing High on Fire preform some of this live a few months ago, which made it all the better.  Despite what I see as an increase in overall sludginess, De Vermis Mysteriis still has all the classic elements of the High on Fire winning formula: pounding drum beats and completely shredding guitar riffs.

3. Gaza - No Absolutes in Human Suffering

My body and my mind were not ready for what I was listening to.  I've been a Gaza fan for a few years, not too long, so I grabbed this album at my local record store because I had extra money and I was already there picking up another album from this list.  It took me a few weeks to listen to, but I'm very glad I took the time so I could properly listen to it.  It is one of the most bleak and misanthropic albums I have ever listened to, and incredibly powerful because of that fact.  It's heavy as shit, too, sludge drawing on elements of grind, math, and other metal subgenres.  Just, completely fucking heavy.

2. Pig Destroyer - Book Burner

Pig Destroyer is hands down my favorite Grindcore band.  Now, I realize that doesn't say a hell of a lot, as I find a lot of grindcore tedious and too similar, but Pig Destroyer does it great.  So when I initially heard that Book Burner was coming out as their first release since 2007's phenomenal Phantom Limb, I was excited.  And rightly so.  Book Burner is every bit as deep and unwaveringly complex as their previous releases, illustrating the talent level of an incredibly talented band (Scott Hull is one of the best guitarists in metal, so I say).  It's wicked sharp, and it can cut deep into the bone of any listener.  Now, I loved the album, but I do have to say that I enjoyed the EP Blind, Dead, and Bleeding more than anything else, because it was Pig Destroyer covering classic hardcore songs.  It was definitely worth the extra money to get the deluxe version just for that.

1. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

No contest at number one on this list, and a heavy, heavy contender for my favorite album of the year.  I don't even feel like I can adequately do justice to it.  Converge is sacred, in my mind, and this is just another canonical text is their bible.  All We Love We Leave Behind is more on the melodic side than other Converge albums, but it is by no means tame or predictable; the guitars still shriek and growl, the drums still throw a manic beat, and the bass still pounds incessantly, but most of Jacob Bannon's vocals are a little softer.  A little.  It's fantastic, and a fantastic addition to their already amazing discography.