Monday, February 27, 2006

Minneapolis- A Music Haven?!

Now everyone who was alive in the 90s knows that Seattle was the birth place of the music that ended the 80s metal- the Grunge movement. Bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and others created and popularized this new music about the darker side of life. You cannot turn on any rock radio station and not hear songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Alive", "Even Flow", "In Bloom", etc. Clearly, Seattle earns a spot on in rock music's heart.

When I mention Minneapolis, most of you think of it as just a place in Minnesota. What you may not know is that Minneapolis was a rock music source of 90s mainstream alternative. The bands Semisonic and Soul Asylum were great mainstream bands whose songs are still listenable.

"Misery" and "Runaway Train" are two great tracks by Soul Asylum. They have even had the honor of being parodied by Weird Al Yankovic with his release of "Syndicated Inc." (parody of "Misery") off the album Bad Hair Day.

Semisonic has had a few good songs, but simply put, none are better than "Closing Time" off Feeling Strangely Fine. The lyrics are great:

"Closing time, open all the doors and let you out into the world;...
"Closing time, time for you to go out to the places you will be from;...
"Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"

The melody is extremely catchy, as most mainstream alternative classics are. The piano opening, bridge, and closing mold perfectly to the distorted power chords of the tune. Someone compared this song to being great like "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day (pre-sell out era). This is a very valid comparison in my opinion because this song is almost a decade old, but has the feeling like you can listen to it for many years to come. I still enjoy listening to this song from time to time and play ad lib solos to it.

Another band was The Rembrandts, who only really had one huge hit in "I'll Be There For You", which was popularized by the shoe Friends. New up-and-comers Motion City Soundtrack also hail from Minneapolis.

Maybe it's time to consider Minneapolis a landmark in the history of rock-n-roll.

P.S.- I want to add the lead guitarist from Pearl Jam to the list of shredders (top 10), but I am not sure if it's Stone Gossard or Mike McCready or both (the website is very confusing to me and I'm dead tired)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Tribute: Tragedy Of February 19

This post is a little late, but nevertheless, must be posted.

On February 19, 1980, Rock-N-Roll was forever changed. Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott was found dead in London, in the back of a car where he had passed out the night before after a drinking binge. Bon was the legendary vocalist of AC/DC from between 1974 to 1979.

Scott, a Scot whose family moved to Australia (a move which the Young family made as well), was a pop star in Australia in the 1960s in the group The Valentines and followed by his stint in the band Fraternity. He saw AC/DC play in Adelaide in August 1974 when the band had its original singer Dave Evans. In September of that year, Scott had joined the group.

AC/DC would undergo several lineup changes in the 70s: Phil Rudd (drums)- 1975; Cliff Williams (bass)- 1977.

The supergroup had recorded 4 albums in 4 years between 1976 and 1979- (in order) High Voltage (the reason my other blog is called what it is), Let There Be Rock, Powerage, and Highway To Hell. The band had finally reached gold album status in the US in 1979 with Highway To Hell. Things were going AC/DC's way.

However, February 19, 1980 would shock the world. After Bon's untimely death, AC/DC would go back to work. On April 8, 1980, the band announced they had found a new singer- Brian Johnson of the band Geordie. Angus Young had said Bon had seen Brian once and liked him and if Bon liked him, he must have been good. Angus also added that he had never liked many people. Johnson would begin recording that year and AC/DC released its most popular album, Back In Black, later that year. Johnson and the band would also record many other albums throughout the 80s.

Scott attributed a great deal to AC/DC. Personally, my favorite album and the one I find most accomplishing of AC/DC's is Powerage. Every song is filled with raw emotion, blazing guitars, powerful singing, pounding drums, rythmic bass. This album not only showed the talent of the band, but was Bon Scott's best vocal performance.

Thanks for the music you left upon the world Bon Scott.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

They Have Given Up On Us

Yes, they have given up on us. By they, I mean free radio (who else would I mean?). The winter of 2005 brought the message of a harsh reality- big name stations were going to change their format from the norm to talk radio with brief intervals of music.

"Thee station"- 92.3 K Rock was probably the best rock station in the NY City area, filling the airwaves with a balance of modern mainstream to alternative to hard to classic rock, as well as adding in some talk radio which was always funny. This was "my station". I had heard the news on "The Booker Show" on my way home from school in December. The D.J. had said in a conversation that most big rock radio stations all across the country were changing formats over. As of January, 92.3 K Rock became 92.3 Free FM. I gave a listen to David Lee Roth (yes, the Van Halen singer) in the morning who replaced the irreplaceable Howard Stern. As I recall, it wasn't that bad. I turned it on another time after that one afternoon and realized that 92.3 needed to be deprogrammed off my favorites list. They had lost the music, especially when I was driving and needed the tunes. Now in the NJ area, there is only one good modern alternative station, G 106.3, and one good classic rock station, Q 104.3.

So this is how free radio is going to compete with their pricier competition in satellite radio. What the hell!? Call me crazy, but there is no competition. They have made it crystal clear- anyone who gives a shit about music, and doesn't like commercials, should switch to satellite radio. Then there are people like me, who can't afford satellite radio. My solution was a tape adapter for my iPod so I can have an indispensable amount of music at my fingertips. Unfortunately for some, new cars only have CD players, so they don't have this luxury, although CD's are better than nothing.

That day on "The Booker Show" he had said that "rock radio stations" were the ones changing the format. There was no mention of any other format, just rock (conspiracy?). What the hell!? The only formats that deserve to be on FM radio are rock, jazz, blues, classical, and I'll even put country (even though I can't stand it). All of these are music; it takes talent to compose and perform these pieces.

Free radio, rest in peace, unless you bring the music back.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Neo-Classical Speed Metal

I received a ton of iTunes money for my birthday a few weeks ago and have been browsing their database for some music to buy. I came across a band that I've seen about 6 months ago. I decided to buy one of their albums.

Dragonforce is a British neo-classical speed metal band. I don't know how they were able to record these 8 tracks off Sonic Firestorm. The tempo is insane- I have never heard double bass played like this-- ever. As a fan of some prog metal and 80s metal, I think these guys were definately worth the $7.92. If you are a fan of fast paced, guitar soloing and drum bashing then check out Dragonforce.

People with iTunes have an advantage of previewing, but I think J&R's website has previews as well as Circuit City's website.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Hidden Pictures

There are 75 bands in this picture. How many can you find out.

I haven't even put a dent in it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Top Shredders Of All Time

The last topic was great, but now I have an even more difficult question:

*****Name the top three (3) shredders of all time*****

My picks in order:
3.) Angus Young
2.) Jimi Hendrix
1.) John Petrucci

If you've never heard of John Petrucci, you are a deprived rock fan.
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