Monday, December 31, 2012

TOPS IN ROCK: 2012 (Guest Feature)

ROCK 2012 
(Guest Feature)

 I'm thrilled to offer as the
last post of 2012, a year-
end music wrap-up from
a very special guest  my
19-year-old son Jesse. 
Beneath his chiseled good
looks lies the heart of a
young man who ain't shy
about speaking his mind.

Jesse Long’s
Top 20 Albums of 2012

I have been putting together “Top (Insert Number Here)” album lists since 2010 and it’s never an easy task. 2012 was definitely the toughest year for me. It brought forth amazing albums from Anthony GreenMaps & Atlases, Frank  Ocean, Soundgarden, Two  Gallants, Jack White, Paper RouteJust Like VinylMinus The BearThe Blue VanBeach HouseFoxy ShazamCirca Survive, JapandroidsCloud Nothings and Oddisee — yet none of these made my list  believe it or not. What did make my list though was:

Koi No Yokan

Wow. Just wow. What makes this album stand out is its passion. Every song is composed with precision and packs its own set of punches. Chino Moreno’s vocals along with the grooves from the band really come together to offer something wonderful.

(Listen to “Leathers.”)
Unorthodox Jukebox

When this album came out, I knew it was going to be great. But it was actually better than great. The title says it all. Mars dabbles in rock, pop, R&B and even a little reggae. The way he does this (and he does it well, by the way) and still manages to top the charts shows his true talent. Mars is a brilliant songwriter, and Unorthodox Jukebox proves this with every song.

(Listen to “Moonshine”)
Grind the Ocean

Let me tell you a little story: There I am at the Protest the Hero show at The Social in Orlando back in April, and Today I Caught the Plague had  just finished their set. Next up was The Safety Fire. My dad pulled me aside and asked, “What the hell is a "safety fire’?” Then, I saw some guys wearing Hawaiian button-up shirts walk onto the stage. Come to find out, those guys were The Safety Fire, and for the next 30 minutes or so, my ears were flooded with beautiful sounds. Standing about 19 inches from guitarist Derya “Playgle” Nagle, I was in awe. When I got home after the show, I immediately bought the band’s debut album Grind the Ocean. The Safety Fire is extremely heavy, yet they don’t suck. Bands like Periphery and Between the Buried and Me need to take note.

Seeing The Safety Fire live has definitely affected the way I listen to Grind the Ocean. The whole band puts off this vibe that is just really cool. I have no other way to explain it. Check out their YouTube page for music videos, a track-by-track of Grind the Ocean, tour diaries and more. (Side note: the video for the song “Floods of Colour” may be the best music video ever.) My iTunes play count for this album is at 157, but if you add the amount of times I have listened to it while driving, that number would be over 300 for sure. Grind the Ocean is a  beautifully composed metal album that deserves recognition. The Safety Fire’s next effort is something I’ll be anticipating during 2013. 

(Listen to “Circassian Beauties.”)
I Am Abomination
Let the Future 
Tell the Truth

(Listen to “One False Step”)


(Listen to “Modern Age”)

Coheed and 
The Afterman:

(Listen to "Key Entity 
Extraction I: Domino the Destitute")

Strength to Survive

(Listen to “Gone Today”)

Pierce the Veil
Collide with the Sky

(Listen to “I’m Low On Gas 
and You Need a Jacket”)

Enter Shikari
A Flash Flood 
of Colour

(Listen to “Warm Smiles Do Not 
Make You Welcome Here”)
The Used

(Listen to “Give Me Love”)

The Mars Volta

(Listen to “Molochwalker”)

The Sword

(Listen to “Apocryphon”)

Children of Nova

(Listen to “The Troubled Soul”)

Peace of Mind

(Listen to “Day By Day”)

Walk the Moon
Walk the Moon

(Listen to “Shiver Shiver”)

The Dirty Heads
Cabin by the Sea

(Listen to “Best of Us”)

Neon Trees
Picture Show

(Listen to “Teenage Sounds”)
Invisible Stars

(Listen to “Aces”)

Billy Talent
Dead Silence

(Listen to “Man Alive!”)

Apocalyptic Love

(Listen to “One Last Thrill”)

-Jesse Long
(December 2012)


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

DONKEY KONG: My Rival Returns!

My Rival Returns!

I intended to take most of this
month off from my website in
order to focus on other writing 
deadlines and to enjoy some
good ol' quality holiday time
with friends and family. But
sometimes life just doesn't
play out according to plan.

I also had planned on enjoying a fun-filled big city getaway experience with my GF this weekend — a romantic dinner at an upscale joint, a high-energy concert at Hard Rock Live and a sleepover at a swanky hotel. But the fun factor would quickly diminish.

Upon entering the hotel lobby in Orlando, my GF proceeded to the front desk to check us in while I scoped the place out, and I discovered a groovy game room in short order. I made my entrance and there he was, lurking in the corner. I would have recognized my former nemesis anywhere. And as if he knew of my impending arrival, Kong began taunting me immediately, just as he did when we first met at the video arcade in Springfield, Missouri on that snowy day back in January 1982.

My one-time adversary awaited my arrival in Orlando!
But I was all too familiar with his modus operandi. Attempting to be unobtrusive, I merely pretended to appear oblivious to his presence. And without making eye contact, I made a swift exit — but we both knew better. We had an old score that was destined to be settled in O-town.

I went directly to my room upon returning to the hotel following the concert. But I couldn't sleep. I knew that HE was downstairs waiting. And after tossing, turning and staring at the ceiling for hours, I got up and got dressed. There was no need in putting off the inevitable any longer.

I entered the hotel game room at a little before 6AM and there he was — patiently awaiting my return. "So, Kong, we meet again," I addressed the chimp as I plugged the token machine with quarters. "It's been a long time. Let's do this."

(This ain't over, Kong. I will be back!)
After more than 30 years, the "Konker" still felt comfortable in my hand. But Kong remains a formidable opponent and I was thrown off my game by the unexpected encounter.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that at age 50, my reflexes have become slow. I'm no longer as fast on the draw as I was at 19. Hence, I was no match for the still mighty Kong. He had me on the ropes from the start. And when I finally came up for air, I was bloodied from head to toe. I was clearly defeated. But this matter is far from settled. I plan to enter into an extensive training regiment and I will once again become stronger and faster. Watch out Kong — this ain't over. I WILL BE BACK!

-Christopher Long
(December 2012)



C'MON! -

Thursday, December 27, 2012

RECORD REVIEW: Aerosmith "Music From Another Dimension!"

Music From 
Another Dimension!
(Columbia Records)

11 years after their last full-
length record to feature all
new material, Aerosmith
returns with an offering that
doesn't suck completely. In
fact, it is their strongest
effort in nearly 20 years.

In his 2012 book, No Sleep 'Til Sudbury, author Brent Jensen discusses what I believe to be his spot-on theory of the two Aerosmiths:

"There is Old Aerosmith, and there is New Aerosmith. Old Aerosmith is that slutty Jezebel that would take you upstairs to deliver the groceries at the end of a sloppy late-night boozefest. New Aerosmith was the beautiful prom queen with great-smelling hair you were proud to bring home to Mom. Both got your rocks off, but one cut through the artifice and did it on a much more primal level." -Brent Jensen

It's funny that despite the enormous success achieved by the "prom queen" Aerosmith over the last 25 years, the band typically makes comparisons only to the "slutty" Aerosmith records when hyping an upcoming release. Hmm — at least the band still recognizes the undeniable street value of cool. But cool doesn't make your BMW payment — hence we're not likely to ever get another Toys in the Attic. (insert frowny face here)

"That slutty Jezebel"
Longtime Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas returns to join forces with Steven TylerJoe Perry and Marti Frederiksen — resulting in their most enticing effort since 1993's Get a Grip.

More of a group songwriting effort than their last couple of records, Music From Another Dimension! offers abundant killers and fillers. In fact, it likely would have been a snappy 40-minute record, but clocking in at over 60 minutes, it gets a bit bogged down along the way.

"Luv XXX" is a catchy, high energy Toxic Twins opener — one of the record's best. But c'mon — it's 2012. Enuff with the dopey '80s spellingz.

The latest from Aerosmith 
doesn't completely suck.
Joe Perry's "Oh Yeah" and the Tyler / Perry collaboration "Out Go the Lights" are both fabulously soulful — stanky and funky ditties reminiscent of the "slutty" Aerosmith — rock solid tracks that also serve as mighty highlights.

Written by Tyler, Perry and Jim Vallance, the lead single "Legendary Child" is edgy, fun and possesses considerably less cheese factor than most of Aerosmith's modern day chartbusters.

Following the tried and true "Crazy, Amazing, Crying" blueprint that brought the band incredible success during the '90s, "What Could Have Been Love" is almost great. However, the formulaic charm is now wearing thin. And although it's a well-written heartache anthem, the vocal could have just as easily been cut by any number of current country crooners. Performed with Carrie Underwood, "Can't Stop Loving You" is also a tremendous song. Given that the country music audience is the last remaining contingent still embracing humans who actually sing and play instruments, these two tracks certainly exemplify Walmart-like marketing savvy — but it's a concept that would have been unthinkable during the band's "slutty" era.

Would this Aerosmith have done
a tune with Carrie Underwood?
Less compelling tracks include the Tyler, Frederiksen, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton  offering "Beautiful," and "We Fall Down" — a perfect example of Aerosmith simply trying too darn hard to still be cool. And had it been cut in 1975 or '76, before the Desmond Child / John Kalodner mandated band castration, "Another Last Goodbye" might have been truly epic — in the vein of "You See Me Crying" or "Home Tonight." But in 2012 it falls flat. Hey guys — you're Aeromith. You're the band that wrote "Lick and a Promise," "Uncle Salty" and "Lord of the Thighs" — you're already cool. Just relax and stop trying so hard.

But it's the Tyler / Perry / Whitford collective effort, "Street Jesus" that is perhaps the record's crowning jewel. Despite the awkward-fitting, minute-long intro and a very slight hint of Emmentaler, this one comes the closest to recapturing Aeromith's early gritty coolness.

In sum, Music From Another Dimension! bridges the gap successfully between the "slutty" Aerosmith and the "prom queen" Aerosmith. It ain't Rocks, but thank goodness it ain't Just Push Play either. And for that, the fellas deserve awesome bear hugs!

-Christopher Long
(December 2012)



C'MON! -