Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top (Book)

And you thought the drugs were a problem? The success the guys in Aerosmith had in the late 70’s and again in the early/mid 90’s is matched only by their mythic reputation for hovering up mountains of blow in the 70’s and 80’s. In Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer touches a little on his troubles with drugs, but spends the bulk of the book talking about issues surrounding his depression, as well as longtime relationship troubles with his father, wife and even fellow band member and childhood hero Steven Tyler. Continue reading “Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top (Book)”

Clock Hands Strangle – Distaccati (CD)

On their second full length, Florida’s Clock Hands Strangle still manages to keep the sound indefinable. Compared to everyone from the Meat Puppets to Death Cab for Cutie, the songs swirl from influence to influence, many times within the same track. The result is not bad, just not terribly original either, sounding a bit like an MP3 player stuck on shuffle. When focused, on tracks like the more rock-oriented “As Is” or the plodding “New York City,” the band shows a lot of promise. Continue reading “Clock Hands Strangle – Distaccati (CD)”

Nightmare of You – Infomaniac (CD)

There is something remarkably satisfying about seeing a musician forgo the obvious and easy path and branch out in a new musical direction once their band calls it quits. The results are admittedly more often awkward than successful (Def Leppard as a country band anyone?), but every now and then the gamble pays off. Nightmare of You formed out of the wreckage of Long Island hardcore heroes Movie Life, where Brandon Reilly put in time as a guitarist. Continue reading “Nightmare of You – Infomaniac (CD)”

Family Guy – Volume 7 (DVD)

After a half dozen seasons, Fox’s Family Guy was starting to get a little creaky. There’s only so many times you can trot out the effeminate baby or coked up dog before the umpteenth rerun of a King of the Hill episode starts to look more appealing.

Not sure if it was the polarizing nature of the last election cycle or just a changeup of snacks in the writer’s room, but Season 7 of the Family Guy ended up being one of the strongest since the show was revived in 2002. The jokes are still just as random and Seth McFarland and team are still apt to drift into set ups of pop culture non sequiturs, but the story lines just seem that much more appropriate with this outing.

A time travel episode back to Nazi Germany, where Stewie finds a McCain/Palin campaign button inside a Nazi uniform was among the highlights (as well as the predictably shrill reaction the piece generated from conservatives across the Internet). Even extremely dated plot lines, like Peter and the boys’ obsession with Jackass stunts, elicit more laughs than the show has seen in years. Aside from a brief, but funny Q&A panel at Comic Con with the writers and cast, the extras on the DVD are pretty basic.

The DVD also gives you the option of watching all episodes unfiltered. There is little to prepare you for just how much more funny it is to hear a cartoon baby utter the word “fuck,” rather than a quick bleeped out edit.

Rating: 8.4 out of 10

The Family Guy – Volume 7/DVD/2009/Fox DVD/305 mins.

Family Guy

Jeff Buckley – Grace Around the World: Limited Edition (CD/DVDs)

You’d have to go back pretty far to find a story of wasted musical talent as tragic as Jeff Buckley. The son of folkie Tim Buckley, Jeff was a struggling singer/songwriter playing clubs in New York’s East Village in the 90’swho was finally discovered by Columbia Record execs, who put out his only studio album “Grace.” The record was extremely promising, but took years to find a following. As Buckley was in Memphis preparing a follow up in 1997, he drowned one night in a river. Continue reading “Jeff Buckley – Grace Around the World: Limited Edition (CD/DVDs)”

War Tapes – The Continental Divide (CD)

No idea how you can be gloomy in LA, but something’s bumming out the kids in War Tapes. On The Continental Divide, the band’s first full-length, the group draws strongly from fellow somber rockers like Joy Division, Interpol and Echo and The Bunnymen. The result is a solid effort, if a bit repetitive. Continue reading “War Tapes – The Continental Divide (CD)”

Eastbound & Down – The Complete First Season (DVD)

Land of the Lost may have tanked in theaters, but the movies co-star Danny McBride more than makes up for it with the soon-to-be released DVD debut of the HBO series East Bound & Down. With stellar cameos by Will Farrell and Adam McKay (Anchor man, Talladega Nights), Jody Hill (Observe and Report), David Gordon Green (Super Bad) directing, the humor hues closely to the Judd Apatow variety and the comedy plays out great in short 30 minute spurts. Continue reading “Eastbound & Down – The Complete First Season (DVD)”

The Friday Night Boys – Off the Deep End (CD)

The Boy Bands for the new millennium may not have the horrible facial hair of their predecessors, and tattoos may have scuffed up the squeaky clean image a bit, but the same paint-by-numbers formula of passionless music and over-earnest lyrics remain a hallmark. Clad in neon t-shirts and hoodies (depending on the weather), The Friday Night Boys is the latest variation in the evolution of Boy Band rock (OK, so not sure if these guys have tattoos, but I’m betting they do). Continue reading “The Friday Night Boys – Off the Deep End (CD)”

R.E.M. – Reckoning [2 CD Deluxe Edition]

The only surprising thing about R.E.M’s sophomore full length getting the deluxe double disc treatment is that it took so long. Long considered one of the best efforts from one of the most influential bands to come out of the 80’s, the rerelease come 25 years after it was first issued. A college radio station staple then and even now, “Reckoning” finds the band gaining confidence. The lyrics are a bit darker than its predecessor “Murmur” and Michael Stipe’s vocals, though often criticized for being mumbled, come out pretty clear. Songs like “So. Central Rain,” “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” and “7 Chinese Bros” all hold up pretty well.

There are a couple of tracks that start to drag down the record a bit, but overall a strong effort by a groundbreaking band. The second disc is a live set recorded in 1984 in Chicago. The sound of the live record is great and includes a fantastic collection of earlier tracks like “Radio Free Europe” and “Gardening at Night.” This collection is definitely worth buying if you’re a longtime fan. At the very least, the re-release of this set is a great reminder to dig out their earlier records.

Rating 8.2 out of 10
R.E.M. – Reckoning [CD Deluxe Edition]/26 tracks/A&M/www.remhq.com