Tag Archive for music

Gamer Girl, Country Boy

More Reviews on Shakefire

Shakefire.comYet another round-up of things I’ve written for Shakefire.

As always, some good, some bad, but in all cases I didn’t pay a dime for it.

A Different Cover

I really enjoy cover songs. Especially when an artist can take an original and put a spin on it, often by changing the speed of the song, and give the song almost an entirely new meaning. First, the original, “Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry (forgive the format, it’s the entire mini-movie):

Now, the cover, “Last Friday Night” by Julia Nunes:

The first song feels like a party, a celebration of debauchery. The second is the exact same song, the same lyrics, but at this speed and played in this way, now it feels like a song of regrets. To me, it is just so awesome that two very different sounding songs that convey such different moods can actually be the same song.

Anyway, this musical interlude was brought to you by my not participating in April Fool’s Day shenanigans.

Review Response

Just the other day I was wondering, “Does anyone leave comments on my reviews over at Shakefire?” So I searched through and found that, as expected, most of the time the answer is “No.” Rarely, someone will leave a single comment either in agreement with or disagreement with my review, or some aspect of my review. For example, on a review I did of one of those baseball DVDs that compresses a whole season into a couple or three hours I said it was the best way for most people to watch baseball since baseball can be pretty boring. The comment was that people are missing out by not watching the entire season.

However, one review I did got a number of responses, and I thought I would, rather than reply there, reply here. The review in question was for the album Impulse by ERRA. The main fault of this album is that I hate the genre of growling/screaming music. Since this review, I’ve sorting things out with the guy who runs the site so that I don’t get these sorts of things to review. It’s actually in both our best interests – I don’t have to review something I hate and he doesn’t get a site full of low-grade reviews due to poor product/reviewer pairing. Anyway, the original review is here.

Admittedly, because I didn’t like the album, I went for sarcasm and humor in my review. Like most other reviews, it probably would have gone uncommented on. But someone went and posted a link to it on ERRA’s Facebook page’s wall. As expected, fans of the band didn’t like that I didn’t like the music, and posted comments.

Without further ado, the comments…

Im disappointed in both your review and the website’s decision to give you this album to review. You can’t compare the quality of an album where there are screaming vocals in it to something that doesn’t. It is a genre of music. And your reviews are supposed to inform people about the qualities and the downfalls of a record. Being a journalism major, and being someone who actually wants to write publicly about music, I am disgusted by this review, especially the last half. Pure garbage.

Being a journalism major, this guy probably has some high ideas about what journalism is. He wants to write publicly about music. He can. Blogs are free (which is why, in part, print media is dying). And as far as I can tell, assuming he’s one of the guys who also posted on Facebook, he does have a tumblr account, where my review apparently inspired him to write a review of the same album and give it a 5 out of 5 over a month ago, but hasn’t posted anything since. Allow me to impart a single piece of advice to you: a writer writes. If you really aspire to work as a writer, write, even if no one is paying you.

As for his claim that my reviews should inform people about the qualities and the downfalls of a records – I think I did: there is screaming, and that is the downfall of the record.

You don’t know what you are talking about.

Yes I do. Since I’m giving my opinion on the album, I am, in fact, the only person capable of knowing what I am talking about.

im laughing hard…..

ERRA FTW

I’m unsure of what is going on here. Is he laughing at my review (win!), the other comments, or just in general? He’s a fan of the band, so I think he’s with the other comments and laughing at me (not with me).

Did Shakefire pay you for review this? EY! WHOEVER HELL HIRED THIS GUY, CAN YOU HIRE ME TOO?

Nah, this review was epic. Epicly shitty. If you hate their screamer then you hate a lot of really good low-pitch screamers from hardcore/metal bands, no ?

Come on dude, chill the fuck out. They’re incredible.

Like with many review sites, no, Shakefire didn’t pay me. Well, they gave me a free copy of the album, which is dubious payment at best. They might hire you. Want to know how I got the job? The guy running Shakefire tweeted that he was looking for writers and I replied. Done. Which takes us back to the first guy… want to know how easy it is to get a “job” writing reviews? It’s that easy. Now, getting paid cash to write reviews… that’s another story. And to answer this guy’s question, yes, I hate a lot of screamers from hardcore/metal bands.

You should have gone against your instinct and given this album at the very least an “A.” You have admitted to letting your individual aversion to screaming cloud your review. I’ll chalk up the fact that you gave this an album “a big fat F” as being due to your hearing going progressively downhill since 1974. Listening to music with an objective ear is not a crime, Sir.

“at the very least an ‘A’.” Honestly, looking back and playing a few cuts from the album again (I didn’t delete it because seriously, what’s one album when you a terabyte of drive space?) I think, if I could ignore the screaming, I might give them a ‘B’ if I was being charitable. See, this isn’t a 7-9 scale. We (I) use the whole thing, from top to bottom. As for my hearing, it’s fine, except maybe a little worse after listening to this album from ERRA and the other screamer bands I’ve had to review. And listening to music with an objective ear isn’t a crime, but it also isn’t my job. I’m not teaching a music appreciation class, I’m reviewing, which is a broad spectrum of writing that includes my chosen take: giving my personal opinion of what I experience.

hahahahaha ur such a faggot dude. don’t review this kind of music if you don’t listen to the genre. Its like giving someone who listens to only rap, Carnifex’s new CD Until I Fell Nothing. which is NOTHING close to rap. and don’t say you are use to this genre cuz ur not just admit it. if you still believe you are, then ur mind is playing tricks on you.

I don’t really want to respond to a guy who uses “faggot” in this way, but he does have a small point which I addressed earlier. I don’t choose what to review, I’m assigned it. The boss sends me links by email or physical products in the mail which I experience and then review by the deadline assigned. We’ve cleared up some issues so that I’ll have less of a chance of getting stuff I am biased against, so in the future I won’t be reviewing bands like ERRA unless there is simply no one else to review them.

I give your review a -10 out of 10

So do I. Did you know that all reviews are scored only in Absolute Values? Thanks for the 10!

Seriously, though, when reading reviews or opinion pieces, it is important to approach it from the same direction the author did. One week in Entertainment Weekly, there was a column which I read and thought was hilarious. My wife read it and found it to be despicable. We discussed it, and while I had approached the article from a point of satire because I knew the history of the author’s satirical style, she had approached it as a serious piece, and since part of it was praising the awesomeness of the Twilight movies and how Bella Swan can teach us things, I understand why we had such different responses to the article. But then again, someone who loves Twilight and really does think Bella Swan is a great role model, reading the article in a satiric tone would be harsh.

And that’s what happened here. I listened to music for review that I have zero interest in because I don’t like it. So I took a humorous approach to my review with hints of scathing scorn for the genre. People who like the genre didn’t like my review. Only one of us devolved into name calling. Hint: it was the guys who used the words “faggot” and “douchebag”.

Lately

Because I know my readers are so very interested in everything I do…

Shakefire.comI’m a writer for Shakefire, and in the last couple of months here is what I’ve written:

I kinda suck as reviewing music. I like reviewing movies more, and hopefully in the future I’ll be given more movies and less music.

Anyway, in the future I plan to post one of these round ups once a month or so, when I remember to do it.

For Squirrels – Example

My music collection exceeds 15,000 songs. Nearly all of these are from CDs that I bought and ripped myself, though there is a chunk of stuff I ripped from other people’s CDs. *shrug* The music industry hates it, but sometimes it happens, and I don’t really care since it doesn’t much hurt the band, their cut being so small in most cases. Anyway, I’ve started taking advantage of Google Music, which allows you to put 20,000 songs “in the cloud” to stream to any computer or mobile device you want. For years I avoided buying MP3 players like the iPod (although I do own a 30GB Zune, but I didn’t buy it – I won it) because I didn’t like having to pre-select my music before going somewhere. I actually like selecting the entire collection (well, almost, I have to remove those radio shows) and hitting random play on the whole thing.

That’s what I was doing when a song off the album Example by For Squirrels started playing. Oddly enough it was the first track of the album, “8:02 PM”. I quickly stopped the player, found the album and played it. Never heard of For Squirrels? I’m not surprised. If you weren’t listening to Alternative radio at the tail end of 1995, like Atlanta’s 99X, you probably didn’t have a chance to hear them. The album, their only major label album, was released on October 3rd 1995, but by then the band was all but finished. On September 8th, a little less than a month earlier, the band was involved in a terrible car accident in their van, taking the lives of two of the band’s four members, and their tour manager. Vocalist Jack Vigliatura and bassist Bill White died, while guitarist Travis Tooke and drummer Jack Griego were both injured but survived. The two remaining members of the band would try to reform with new members, later changing the name of the band and releasing one album before disbanding for good in 2001.

For Squirrels - ExampleExample is, for me, a very interesting album. I’d call it good, but it isn’t remarkable or full of hit songs. The only single it produced was “Mighty K.C.” which was an elegy for Kurt Cobain. However, none of the songs are awful, and in fact show a promise never realized. Had the accident not happened, a second album could have seen the band grow into something more. Instead, we just have this. A song that went to #15 on the Modern Rock chart, and an album that just barely made the Billboard 200.

In 1996, I should have been graduating college, but a misstep or two and a decision to move out on my own, the combination of which resulted in me having to pay for school on my own (which further resulted in full time work and part time school), I missed being able to get out in four years. It was in these early months of 96 that I purchased Example. I’d heard their single a number of times, and I knew the story behind the band. And as I lay on the bed in my room contemplating my next move in life, the music washed over me.

In the past 15 years, I’ve returned to this album a number of times. Every time I hear one song from it, I have to hear the entire thing, from start to finish, every track. I know in part that is because of when the disc entered my life, that it is a permanent part of the soundtrack of my life, but I hope it’s also because there is something more to these songs that the emotion I’ve attached to them, that a song like the penultimate track “Disenchanted” speaks some universal truth that other people recognize too.

I’d recommend Example by For Squirrels to anyone, to listen through at least once, just to give a chance. It is an album of its time, a mid-90s Alternative Rock band. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if that winds up being your complaint.

Death Valley

Years ago (or can it be measured in decades now?) when MTV pretty much stopped airing music videos, I pretty much stopped watching it. Occasionally I might drift back to it for the odd awards show, special event or boredom, but that came to a complete stop when I canceled my cable TV and no longer had easy access to it. Which is why I find it so odd that I’m now watching (by *ahem* other means) a show on MTV.

But how could I not watch Death Valley?

The show is set in a world where zombies, vampires and werewolves (and possibly other things) exist. Shot as a reality show like COPS, the camera crew follows members of the Undead Task Force (UTF) of the Los Angeles Police Department as they deal with the shambling undead, ones that are fresher and run faster, vampires involved in the “blood for sex” trade, werewolves who forget to lock themselves up for the full moon, and more.

Being that it’s on MTV, this show is far better than it has any right to be. While occasionally there is an effects shot that looks off, the majority of them are quite good, probably because CG work is becoming so cheap while quality keeps improving. The acting is also pretty good as well. Anyway, this totally gets a thumbs up from me and I recommend at least checking it out to see if it happens to be your cup of tea.  Check out the trailer below for a start.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-03-27

  • Ke$ha… the dollar sign is irritating but the music is irresistible. Remix album reviewed for @Shakefire http://bit.ly/gkGQzF #
  • Anyone want to buy a Sprint Palm Pre? All cables, books and box included… #
  • Time keeps on slippin'… #
  • Words With Friends? Jhaer #
  • I have never seen any movie or TV show with Liz Taylor. Recommendations? #
  • 2008's The Capture of the Green River Killer finally comes to DVD next week. I reviewed it for @Shakefire today. http://bit.ly/fWHOTF #
  • Where is my mind? #
  • BTE tickets go on sale at noon, and I've got permission to buy them. Excited!! #
  • Tik-Tok. Now… did you just think of Ke$ha or of Captain Hook? #
  • I happen to like Comic Sans. #

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A Musical Interlude

It’s Friday, the end of the work week.  Enjoy this crop of music from various bands.

First up, a little ditty from No More Kings, a cover of Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True”:

Next, from 2006, an acoustic cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” by Mat Weddle:

And finally, saving the best for last, and thanks to Karnatos for pointing me in the right direction, I give you “Ace of Spades”… the slow version:

Have a good Friday, and a good weekend.

Opinions are like…

Everyone has opinions on stuff.  It is pretty much the basis of all blogging.  I use mine to post my opinions on game design, movies, music, TV and other random stuff.  As of this week, however, I’m not putting some of my opinions somewhere more visible.

Shakefire.

Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten a lot of free passes to movie screenings from them, and I’ve enjoyed participating in their message boards and reading their site.  So when I saw a call for writers I decided to give it a shot.  At this point, I’ve only posted one assigned review for Bias, the debut album of Bodyface, and I’ve got another review on the way for next week.

I’ll try to remember to cross post (at least by way of linking) but sometimes may forget.  At the very least, you’ll see them in the weekly tweet posts on Sundays.