Machine Head – The Blackening

Machine Head – The Blackening / 2007 Roadrunner / 8 Tracks / / /

Machine Head is a band that has been around for about as long as I have listened to metal. Their first album came out in 1994, and the band was around for a few years before that. So, “The Blackening”, their sixth album, should be a pinnacle with which they can achieve new levels of fame. Well, from the beginning of “The Blackening”, Machine Head comes forth with a confidence that knows no bound. Continue reading “Machine Head – The Blackening”

With Passion – What We See When We Shut Our Eyes

With Passion – What We See When We Shut Our Eyes / 2006 Earache / 10 Tracks / / /

This California band does not take more than ten seconds to start rocking the faces off of their listeners. The music that they play is a brand of progressive cum speed metal that is shrill, melodic, and orchestral all at the same time. The band can bring the finesse just as they bring the brutal, gut-churning metal. Continue reading “With Passion – What We See When We Shut Our Eyes”

Call It Arson – The Animal Strings Album

Call It Arson – The Animal Strings Album / 2007 Kill Normal / 6 Tracks / /

Call It Arson is a band that has been together in some form since 1994, and while the band did not start to become a serious venture until a few years ago, the tempestuous type of indie meets rock music that starts out “The Animal Strings Album” shows that the band is extremely mature. Continue reading “Call It Arson – The Animal Strings Album”

Shock Cinema “Our Way is Revenge” Out on Kanine Records August 21st

“Squelching guitars and drawn-out rhythms evoke everyone from Can to Glass Candy”
Creative Loafing (Atlanta) – Bands to Watch

“We were left gobsmacked by the trancelike, dubadelic vibe, equal parts postpunk and noir rock”
Harp Magazine Continue reading “Shock Cinema “Our Way is Revenge” Out on Kanine Records August 21st”

Snatches of Pink – Love is Dead

Snatches of Pink – Love is Dead / 2007 Self / 15 Tracks / /

Snatches of Pink on their “Love is Dead” play a brand of sleaze rock that brings individuals back to the days of Spinal Tap and the New York Dolls. The lead vocals during “Rocks” (and extended to the whole of the disc) have more than a passing resemblance to those provided by Mike Ness (Social Distortion). “Rocks” is an interesting introduction to Snatches of Pink, but the instrumentation does not feel to be dynamic and interesting through the entirety of the track. Continue reading “Snatches of Pink – Love is Dead”

The Hammer: The Best of Hank Aaron

The Hammer: The Best of Hank Aaron / 2007 Borders / $14.95 / 144M / 1:50 /

The subtitle of this book is “From the Pages of Sports Illustrated”, and the tile really gives individuals a good idea what focus that the book may have. This was culled together from the material written about Hank Aaron throughout eir career by the individuals at Sports Illustrated. More so, the language used to describe Aaron is kept as it was originally written. Thus, if there are instances of the word “Negro”, it is present. Preserving history and not trying to revise Aaron’s history is the first step forward by this book, which uses good many of Sports Illustrated’s most famous wrights. This list includes Roy Terrell, William Leggett, George Plimpton and Mike Capuzzo.

The small text in this already-small volume may be a little on the hard side to read, but it does means that individuals will spend a decent amount of time reading through these solid pieces. A criticism about this book has to be the pictures. While there are a decent amount of them, they are bundled together in two specific sections. Obviously, the cost to intersperse the pictures would have been higher if Sports Illustrated wanted to have them be in color, but I don’t see how adding a black and white picture to the beginning page of a piece would have hurt matters any. Still, the writing in this book is solid and will give individuals a little more context into the career of one of baseball’s best hitters. I can’t foresee Sports Illustrated doing the same for Barry Bonds, so that makes this volume all the more sweet.

Sure, it would be easy to search down these articles in the online SI archive, but this puts them all together in an easy to read format. For individuals like me that were born after Aaron’s career had ended, “The Hammer” gives individuals a better understanding of why Aaron was such a stand up player and how eir behavior varies from the rest of the stars in baseball today. Interesting, funny, and at times touching, “The Hammer” is the complete picture of a major baseball star; pick the book up if you have any love for America’s pastime, and make sure to read through from cover to cover to get the full story. Maybe we could see one of these for some of the other storied baseball stars of all time, perhaps even someone as awesome as Nolan Ryan (but I’m letting personal bias show).

Rating: 6.8/10

Clamor #36

Clamor #36 / $5.50 / 100M / /

I always feel bad when I review earlier issues of a magazine, especially those that have shut their doors recently. However, this issue is just too good to pass up. There are pieces with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club (which shows a humorous side of Clamor that does not usually come through during issues of this magazine), along with a piece that should open readers’ eyes in “Mountaintop Removal in West Virginia”. Before reading this piece, I had the mistaken thought that most of these major operations had went the way of the dodo. The clear picture of an operation that stretches out what seems like tens and tens of miles by Antrim Casey. Perhaps the most challenging piece in this issue of Clamor has to be the “14 Acres” piece, which has a number of debates about whether the South Central Farm of Los Angeles should be preserved or destroyed. The range of discussion is large and of a scale that many other magazines would only be proud of achieving. There are discussions of musicians in this issue of Clamor, including a piece on Cipher and a number of different reviews of albums, but Clamor is much more of a political magazine first off. The pictures in this issue sharp, the text filling up most of the page and making the magazine well worth the $5.50 cover price. With magazines like Clamor, Punk Planet, and Altar all closing up shop, it behooves anyone interested in social justice to go out and make a magazine to close up the void. Here’s to hoping that this is sooner rather than later.

Rating: 8.0/10

Strange Mike Steel

Strange Mike Steel / 2005 Mouse Chew / $3 / 32M / /

Strange Mike Steel is a comic that feels as if it came out about thirty years ago. Philip is extremely influenced by this earlier style, but is able to tell a story without really going into the more fanciful story-telling styles of the stories of the era. The first page starts out with an interesting note, that a story will be “seen in flashback in a later issue”, but seems to build a solid story despite that. The story is very text based, and while there uis not much in the way of action covered in each panel, the story goes by at a pretty solid clip. The style breaks down into its’ constituent parts if individuals focus on it, as if Philip does not finish up the pieces of art that create this issue. The different batches of characters provide some variation to the flow of this issue, and showcase the storytelling abilities oh Phil. It seems at pints that the different stories will not be reconciled, but individuals feel as if they are one step closer to understanding the overall point of Strange Mike Steel. The only things that I would not mind done with subsequent issues of this comic would be a little firming up of the art and continued work in the universe that Phil has created for the characters in this issue. Give this issue a go if you like the artistic style of the seventies and an interesting, off-the-wall story; this issue seems like a great place to start.

Rating: 7.0/10

OST: Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof

OST: Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof / 2007 Warner Bros / 16 Tracks / / /

Everyone knows that this soundtrack is for the movie that was Quentin Tarantino’s part of Grindhouse, “Death Proof”. The tracks here feel like they are taken from an earlier period. The first track on this score is Jack Nitzche’s “The Last Race”. This track has the seventies orchestral heaviness present in droves, with cars speeding by as the background. Only two and a half minutes in duration, the track is integral for contributing to the score’s sound as a whole. Smith’s “Baby, It’s You” keeps the overall sound of the disc solid, although the track seems more like a late sixties song than a mid-seventies one. If one takes the track in the context of it being played a few years after it was released, or in that most of the Bond soundtracks used earlier styles, then the song works. Continue reading “OST: Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof”