Rest in Peace, the Mighty Ronnie James Dio

Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.

– Wendy Dio

Well, that sucks.

Dio was responsible for Rainbow’s great “Man on the Silver Mountain” before doing something almost no one has ever done–successfully joining a popular existing band that had lost a charismatic frontman. Heaven and Hell is acknowledged by metal-lovers as standing proudly side-by-side with the classic early Black Sabbath albums with Ozzy Osbourne.

His solo career produced at least three classics: “Holy Diver,” “Rainbow in the Dark,” and my favorite metal song of all time, “The Last in Line.”

In my imagination, I picture the Mighty Dio going to hell with his broadsword and slaying numerous devils and demons before his final confrontation with Satan himself. Slay, Dio, slay. Rock, Dio, rock.

Rainbow — “Man on the Silver Mountain”

Black Sabbath – “Neon Knights”

Dio – “The Last in Line”

Oh my goodness, do I love this song.

And I suppose this obituary wouldn’t be proper without acknowledging the greatest video in the history of videos.

Dio – “Holy Diver”

Did you know that Dio is largely responsible for popularizing the “devil horns” hand of rock? Is there anything awesome Dio didn’t do?

16 May 2010

“Now people, especially Arab Metalheads, are stepping up and are voicing their opinions regarding our existence, discussing if we should be allowed.”

Via Reason.

With songs like “Ilahiya Khinzir! (All Hail Allah the Swine),” the band does not play down its opposition to the religion of peace. In a merrily dyspeptic interview with MetalStorm.net, frontman Reverend Filthy Fuck takes issue with popular “First Anti-Islamic Black Metal” descriptor only because he wants other anti-Islamists to get some credit:

We received this reputation because we are against Islam as individuals. Yet we are not the first and we are not only that. In any case, this is the only thing people talk about when they mention Ayat and we’re sick of it. So here it is again: AYAT IS AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT IN ALL ITS FORMS.

Is Ayat, to Americans (or at least me), a novelty act? Yes. But given the threats against the South Park guys following their spot-on episodes on how too many Muslims lack a sense of humor, I think a Lebanese “Anti-Islamic Black Metal Band” is worth noting.

I’m a somewhat religious person myself, so I don’t think I have it in me to pen an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, or anti-Judaism song or writing. But I reserve my God-given right to do so.

I don’t like Cookie Monster music, so I’m not embedding Ayat’s video. (You can follow the Reason link if you’re curious.) Instead I’ll give you these two rap gems.

Ice-T – “Freedom of Speech”

(I wish my term papers in college were that easy! …Well, maybe not.)

Eminem – “Square Dance”

“Don’t think I won’t go there. Go to Beirut and do a show there.”

Would I really? I have no show to do, so it’s not like the issue is going to come up. But I like to think I would. I’m certainly considering joining “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day.” My drawing would be a stick figure, because that’s about all I’m capable of, but it would be a respectful attempt that would not offend Muslims not offended by images of the Prophet (many of them).

But if it does offend? Well, it’s my God-given right to offend and no one can take that away from me.

03 May 2010

Rest in Peace, Malcolm McLaren

One of rock’s oddest and greatest characters left us April 8, and his passing should be noted. His impact was more than deep on the punk and New Wave music that he encouraged and that has influenced, well, hell, just about everyone. He even made a legitimate splash in the then-embryonic world of hip-hop.

I’m saddened and pleased to present examples of all three genres. Rest in peace, Malcolm!

Sex Pistols – “Holiday in the Sun”

Bow Wow Wow – “C-30, C-60, C-90, Go!”

Malcolm McLaren and the World’s Famous Supreme Team – “Buffalo Gals”

10 Apr 2010

“Goodnight, Bad Intentions” by squint

I’ve got a personal connection with this one. The lead singer is my brother, and one of the guitarists is On Deaf Ears co-blogger Normalnorman.

You might think that makes me biased, but it really doesn’t. I’m a critic even when it comes to my own brother, and I tell him honestly what I think of his band’s music, performances, lyrics, whatever.

So you can trust me when I tell you that this song rocks.

Album to follow in July!

squint – “Goodnight, Bad Intentions”

28 Mar 2010

Happy Birthday, Johnny Cash!: “The Chicken in Black”

I think people sometimes forget that Johnny Cash had a sense of humor.

I discovered this over at No Depression. How it eluded me until now, I have no idea.

Here’s all I know about “The Chicken in Black.” From Wikipedia:

Cash’s recording career and his general relationship with the Nashville establishment were at an all-time low in the 1980s. He realized that his record label of nearly 30 years, Columbia, was growing indifferent to him and wasn’t properly marketing him (he was “invisible” during that time, as he said in his autobiography). Cash recorded an intentionally awful song to protest, a self-parody. “Chicken in Black” was about Cash’s brain being transplanted into a chicken. Ironically, the song turned out to be a larger commercial success than any of his other recent material. Nevertheless, he was hoping to kill the relationship with the label before they did, and it was not long after “Chicken in Black” that Columbia and Cash parted ways.

It was released as a single only. It peaked at #45 on the country chart in 1984.

Johnny Cash – “The Chicken in Black”

Happy birthday, Johnny Cash!

26 Feb 2010

Album Review: Surfer Blood – Astro Coast

The debut album of Florida band Surfer Blood absolutely rocks my shit.  There, it’s been said.  If you don’t wanna hang around for the rest of this review, that’s probably for the best, and unless you suffer from poor reading comprehension skills, that first sentence tells you that you should have immediately abandoned this review after reading said sentence, knocking over your crusty computer chair in a mad dash to grab your car keys and fly to your nearest record store to purchase Astro Coast.  Barring that, if you are one of them digital-type persons, you should have at least furiously aggravated your carpal tunnel in the rush to download this album from your nearest legal purveyor of digital music.  Seriously, are you still reading this?  Go on, you can come back later to have your feelings validated about how kick ass of a record this is.  Don’t worry, I’ll be here.

Oh, back so soon?  Well, at this point, you may have given this record one or two spins, and maybe you’re thinking, “That Jason guy from the computer is wack!  This album has yet to change my life in any profound manner.  What a dick!”  Well, stick with it, friend.  I myself had to give this record several spins before I realized what a jewel I had on my hands, and it took me even longer to realize just what Surfer Blood had created:  a perfect pastiche of all of the good things that have happened in indie rock since the late 80’s.

With every spin of Astro Coast, I hear a new glorious influence from some titan of indie rock.  Here’s a list of influences that I have spotted so far:  Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Built To Spill, the Shins, early Weezer, the Pixies, Vampire Weekend (although Surfer Blood derives their influence from the Tropicalia sound moreso than West African rhythms), Modest Mouse, Sonic Youth, Secaucus-era Wrens, Fugazi, etc.  Oh yeah, and throw a little Beach Boys in there, too.  If that list looks as awesome to you as it does to me, then please purchase this record.  Personally, it almost seems to me like someone interviewed me about what my favorite indie rock bands were, and then they proceeded to make an album based on those suggestions.

In addition to the bands mentioned above, Surfer Blood shares a lot sonically with now defunct Austin band Sound Team.  But while Sound Team were criticized (most notably by Pitchfork) for being pretentious, there is not an ounce of pretension to be found on Astro Coast.  This is guitar pop, pure and simple, and there is a simple little lead guitar run at the end of late album track “Anchorage” that summarizes everything I love about this album and good indie rock in general.  Put it on, nod your head, and have a blast with this great new album.

25 Feb 2010