Nip/Tuck – Season 5 Part 2 (DVD)

Anyone who writes off Nip/Tuck as “too much” or “unbelievable” clearly stopped watching the wildly entertaining series long ago. Once those tepid viewers were scared off, the rest of us were free to enjoy the basic cable soap in peace in all its outrageousness. The beautiful thing about Nip/Tuck – about to start its sixth season – is the manner in which it manages to top it’s already way over the top plot lines year after year. Continue reading “Nip/Tuck – Season 5 Part 2 (DVD)”

The Casualties – We Are All We Have (CD)

It took 19 years and seven albums, but The Casualties – one of the few bastions of classic, aggressive punk rock – have released their most accessible and arguably best record to date. The 14 tracks that make up We Are All We Have are still as confrontational as the band’s earlier work and will still satisfy most of the diehards, but everything from the guitars to the vocals seem that much more appealing this time around.

The title track, with its gang vocals and finger blistering guitars is among the collection’s best. Reliable themes of alienation, exploitation and war are front and center on songs like “War is Business,” Depression – Unemployment Lines” and “Apocalypse Today” and the reggae-tinged “In the Tombs”. Jorge Herrera, one of the best hardcore vocalists today, still barks his lyrics giving the songs a sense of immediacy; it just seems he has a lot more to say this time around.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Top track: “War is Business” and “We Are All We Have”

The Casualties – We Are All We Have/CD/2009/14 tracks/2009/Side One Dummy/ http://www.myspace.com/thecasualties

Tonight We Ride – Of The West (CD)

“Cain Station” starts out with some nice multi-part harmonies that seem to take use of Pennywise, Against Me, and even This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, ensuring that listeners will sing along after a listen or two. “Drink Myself Into Oblivion” straddles the line between country, punk, and bar-rock. Fans of acts as wide as Mojo Nixon, Rehab, and even Hank the IIIrd will find something to caterwaul on about here. “Prelude To Hell on Earth” allows the instruments a moment to shine, with pacing reminiscent of Bad Religion and dramatic action similar to At The Drive-In and Fugazi working together to make a haunting track that belies any humorous undertones that the band may have. Continue reading “Tonight We Ride – Of The West (CD)”

Moraine – Manifest Density (CD)

“Save The Yuppie Breeding Grounds” is the first track off of “Manifest Density”, and it shows that Moraine expects more out of their listeners than most bands. Where the average CD will gradually pick up steam as the tracks roll on, “Manifest Density” immediately showcases intricate arrangements and complex emotions that will require a listener’s full attention. Moraine’s overall approach during this track is hard to decipher, but one can easily hear bits and pieces of progressive metal, nineties-alternative, and even hints of 80s British metal. Continue reading “Moraine – Manifest Density (CD)”

I Drink for a Reason by David Cross (Book)

David Cross is getting a little tired of carrying around the hipster cross. Worshipped for co-creating/starring in Mr. Show and his brilliant work with Arrested Development, Cross also happens to be one of the funniest controversial stand ups working today (controversial meaning he does more than jokes about airline peanuts). Continue reading “I Drink for a Reason by David Cross (Book)”

Porter Block – The Gowanus Yacht Club (CD)

Written as a love letter to his Brooklyn neighborhood, The Gowanus Yacht Club was a bit of an experiment for Porter Block. For his fourth record, the pop rocker sought the help of 11 diverse song writers to collaborate on the record. Continue reading “Porter Block – The Gowanus Yacht Club (CD)”

The Big Bang Theory – The Complete Second Season (DVD)

There is no reason that The Big Bang Theory should be as funny as it is. It has all the markings of a traditional, run-of-the-mill sitcom: wacky characters, the hot neighbor, the laugh track. It also doesn’t help that the series was created by Chuck Lore, who forced the groan-inducing Two and a Half Men on the world. Continue reading “The Big Bang Theory – The Complete Second Season (DVD)”

The Empty Mirror – Abstracted Catholic (CD)

It has been over a year since the last time that we had the chance to review The Empty Mirror. Their last release, “Overwhelm”, was an impressive piece of work. Their latest album, “Abstracted Catholic”, builds upon some of the trends first heard during “Overwhelm” while further evolving their sound. The first track on “Abstracted Catholic” is “Stainglass”, and it sets the tone for the rest of the album. This means that The Empty Mirror are able to put forth a confident sound that touches upon hard rock, alternative, and even grunge over the course of only three minutes.

Hints of acts as diverse as Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, and Queens of the Stone Age can be heard here, tied together with the band’s own unique flair. Despite the fact that there is a side to “Stainglass” that could catapult them up to heavy rotation on rock stations, there resides a set of arrangements and intricacies in the track that will keep people listening in for the rest of the album. “Static” is the next track on “Abstracted Catholic”, and the band adopts a more psychedelic-infused approach for it. The multiple layers of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals make for a trippy experience that never hesitate to hit listeners firmly over their heads.

The distortion that finishes up the track provides a natural break to “Brokenbrained, Brokenhearted”, a song that benefits greatly from a driven tempo and punchy drums that lead into some stellar guitar work. “God of Hunger” may just be the most interesting track on this EP, starting out with a bit of guitar work that is tremendously catchy before moving into a very complex set of arrangements. The layout of the track is such that listeners will have to give “God of Hunger” a number of listeners to truly gain a sense of what they are attempting to do with this closing track. The band lays it all on the line for “God of Hunger” and succeeds on all counts; aside from ending the album perfectly, The Empty Mirror has made it virtually impossible for anyone that has picked up this album to forgo the next. Buy “Abstracted Catholic”, give a listen to each of the cuts, and wait just like me until that time when they come out with their next release.

Top Track: Stainglass

Rating: 8.8/10

The Empty Mirror – Abstracted Catholic (CD) / 2009 Landowner / 5 Tracks / http://www.theemptymirror.net / http://www.landownerrecords.com

Ghost Pines 2006 Chardonnay (Wine)

With a very approachable price (one can purchase this for well under $15 at most online retailers), the 2006 Ghost Pines Chardonnay (enjoying a blend of grapes from Sonoma, Monterey, and Napa counties) represents another piece of evidence to back up the claim that wine does not have to be pricey to be eminently enjoyable. While there are bits and pieces of a more woodsy flavor (represented in a vanilla body that comes forth often) present in the 2006 Chardonnay, I feel that the dominant flavor profile here would have to be fruit-based. Continue reading “Ghost Pines 2006 Chardonnay (Wine)”