Monday, December 31, 2012

THE TOPS IN ROCK: 2012 (Guest Post)

THE TOPS IN
ROCK: 2012 
(Guest Post)
________________________

 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. Othe surface,
he may seem swell and
well-adjusted — but he
is MY kid. Beneath his
his chiseled good looks
lies the heart of a young
man who has no problem
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
 OceanSoundgarden, Two
Gallants, Jack White, Paper
RouteJust Like VinylMinus
The BearThe Blue Van,
Beach HouseFoxy Shazam,
Circa Survive, Japandroids,
Cloud Nothings and Oddisee
 yet none of these made my
list   believe it or not. What
did make my list though was:

1
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.”)
2
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”)
3
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,
 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.”)
4
I Am Abomination
Let the Future 
Tell the Truth

(Listen to “One False Step”)

5
Anberlin
Vitals

(Listen to “Modern Age”)

6
Coheed and 
Cambria
The Afterman:
Ascension

(Listen to "Key Entity 
Extraction I: Domino the Destitute")
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRoN4_kG6XM


7
SOJA
Strength to Survive

(Listen to “Gone Today”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_ClG-DakSE



8
Pierce the Veil
Collide with the Sky

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

9
Enter Shikari
A Flash Flood 
of Colour

(Listen to “Warm Smiles Do Not 
Make You Welcome Here”)
10
The Used
Vulnerable

(Listen to “Give Me Love”)

11
The Mars Volta
Noctourniquet

(Listen to “Molochwalker”)

12
The Sword
Apocryphon

(Listen to “Apocryphon”)

13
Children of Nova
Impossible
Landscape

(Listen to “The Troubled Soul”)

14
Rebelution
Peace of Mind

(Listen to “Day By Day”)

15
Walk the Moon
Walk the Moon

(Listen to “Shiver Shiver”)


16
The Dirty Heads
Cabin by the Sea

(Listen to “Best of Us”)

17
Neon Trees
Picture Show

(Listen to “Teenage Sounds”)
18
Everclear
Invisible Stars

(Listen to “Aces”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HICbSiwMpyU


19
Billy Talent
Dead Silence

(Listen to “Man Alive!”)

20
Slash
Apocalyptic Love

(Listen to “One Last Thrill”)
_______________________________

Thanks Jesse,  for sharing your Top 
Albums list — and keep up the good 
work. You're a sharp young man 
with a bright future and I look 
forward to posting more of your 
insightful Guest Blogs in 2013.
_______________________________    

BE MY GUEST!
Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris

Saturday, December 29, 2012

DONKEY KONG: My Rival Returns!

DONKEY KONG: 
My Rival Returns!
 ___________________________

I intended to take most 
of this month off from
my blog 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 had also planned on enjoying a fun-filled big city getaway experience with Michelle 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, Michelle proceeded to the front desk to check us in while I scoped the place out. 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 immediately began to taunt me, 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."

THE BATTLEFIELD
(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 and 20. 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 immediately enter into an extensive training regiment. I will once again become stronger and faster. Watch out Kong — this ain't over. I WILL BE BACK!

-Christopher Long
(December 2012)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

RECORD REVIEW: Aerosmith "Music From Another Dimension!"

RECORD REVIEW
Aerosmith
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 
completely suck.
In fact, it's 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)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.