Monthly Archives: November 2012

My Top 10 Amazon Affiliate Links to Albums Released This Year

10. toe. – The Future Is Now EP
I like to refer to them as a less grumpy Don Caballero, but they’re good (and different) enough to have their own identity. Best quote about this album, from Amazon reviewer Tyler:

I don’t know what the hell the drummer is doing with that snare, but it sounds like benny greb had a baby with the greek god of rhythm.

09. Meshuggah – Koloss
Their previous, obZen, was a whopper, so it was going to be hard to follow that up with something as good. But I think they did it. I’ve never heard a band able to encomplicate (my word) a simple riff like these guys.

08. mouse on the keys – Machinic Phylum
This is only three songs but it’s a drummer and two piano players. They seem to pack a lot into a few minutes so the brevity works as an asset. Another snare-happy drummer.

07. Torche – Harmonicraft
I’ve never been into any sludge/doom, but I can like some material from a safe distance. Torche breaks the mold a little bit by infusing putting some sugar into their weed, which is my way of saying they mix pop with stoner rock.

06. August Burns Red – Sleddin’ Hill: A Holiday Album
You actually can make a instru-metal album of Christmas songs. You can. And it even has its reflective moments in between the bombast. Just think of Gary Hoey and Mannheim Steamroller’s respective tour buses crashing into each other and you have an idea.

05. Search the City – 2012 demos
I like few things more than a power pop band with a singer who can sing instead of whine in key. STC came back from hiatus with a new singer that sounded suspiciously like their older one. He sounds excellent on record but anything can happen in the studio. So can he do it live? Yes.

04. Demon Hunter – True Defiance

03. Further Seems Forever – Penny Black
So they reform with their original vocalist, Chris Carrabba, and put out their best album since their first one, with Chris Carrabba. Ta-da!

02. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
I’m sort of late to the game with Converge, which is a shame since I saw them live a bunch of times when I lived in New England. I just didn’t quite “get it”. Maybe listening to and finally “getting” Melt-Banana—a band that is somehow very similar if you’re familiar with them—a year or so ago helped things, but the fact that this album is arguably one of their best doesn’t hurt, either.

01. Flyleaf – New Horizons
This is vocalist Lacey’s swan song album, which is kind of a shame because she’s just hitting the stride nicely. The related consequence of this is that, if you’re all dudes in a band with an attractive female lead with a distinctive, powerful voice, you’re all going to be playing collective second fiddle, forever. Such will be the case with their new singer, but the member shift might spotlight their songwriting more, come next release.

Special mention goes to Uverworld’s The One (no Amazon link!), Anberlin’s Vital, and Death’s Vivus!, all of which may place somewhere on this list but I’m too lazy to figure it all out.

Share this post:

An Old At the Drive-In Review

Here’s another review I did on Buzzgrinder for the best of the 2000’s, for At the Drive-in’s last album, Relationship of Command.

Like the Further Seems Forever review, there’s a dozen things I wouldn’t write today. It’s also fun to badmouth a band some people for which some people and unquenchable religious affection.

At the Drive-in’s “One-Armed Scissor”, the single off of their mammoth swan song release, might be like the Kennedy assassination for post-rock bellwethers—they know where and when they first heard the jagged start-stop intro on mainstream radio. They immediately began to map out a clear trajectory for the band’s sojourn toward selling out-dom to a major label (or was Grand Royal too major?), using an indie rock-approved, telemetry-guided magic bullet. Something like that.

If you can push aside the mental fog of my awkward, mixing analogy, just try to understand one thing: drugs can and will hurt you. But before they do, they will elevate your artistic output to godlike levels. This band is exemplary. I will explain this.

But first let’s return my muddled prose concerning our nicotine-addled record store rat. After the song ends with Bixler-Zavala’s gonzo-rage peaking, the DJ is wondering what in tarnation his program director is thinking, and he slips out a slick Freudian, betraying his ignorance of the bombast that just preceded him. Our elitist hero rolls his eyes as the DJ tries to explain the goofball sonics he just heard, and our hero clicks off just before the first bass buzz note of the new Korn song slapped through.

So that’s kind of like the Zapruder film (OK, I’ll stop it) that serves as an overture for this tragic scenario. ATDI festered in the underground before starting to get really, really big for almost no discernible reason. On the verge of breaking through, they promptly broke up—again for no seeming cause. They did offer a few explanations, but I believe they can ultimately be linked back to the two afro dopeheads.

To wit: After their sudden collapse, At the Drive-In got their mitosis on and split into two very different bands. The druggies formed the meandering, incomprehensible Mars Volta, while Hajjar and Ward (the latter having one of the most distinct rock voices of the decade) did the wonderfully plucky Sparta. Now do you see where substance abuse will get you, and where you go when you do things right?

There, I said it. I was also the second gunman.

Share this post:

House of Books Gets Meh Reactions on Gizmodo

Repositories of knowledge is dumb.

Via Karen DeCoster, check out all the harumphing comments for this house built around the presence of physical books. Says one commenter:

In the years to come it will seem as absurd as building a house around a collection of 8-track cassettes.

This takes the burrito for worst analogy of the year, seeing as “story quality” is the same on paper as it is on screen.

Another gem of logic:

who the hell has that many books in their personal collection? never heard of a library?

Why is it bad to own a lot of books instead of having to rely on the collection in the care of people you don’t even know?

I don’t mind Kindles or any kind of e-reader, but what I think their main advantage—their portability and their data storage—aren’t enough to kill off physical books for good…especially considering how infrastructure-dependent they are. The power goes, you drop the device just the wrong way, a disgruntled IT tech decides to take a whizz on one of Amazon’s tape drives…all very likely scenarios. Then your Hunger Games trilogy is lost. You buy a book and as long as you keep it above your home’s likely flood levels, it’ll be around for quite some time.

Most people read only a few books at one time, so the appeal of having so many books accessible at once is only good for bookworm bragging rights. I’m not one to waste energy on one-upmanship so that is all lost on me.

I’ve posted my reasons before so at this point I’m repeating myself. Given what Gizmodo’s content is, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at all the poo-pooing of things low-tech.

Share this post:

Buy Mike Duran’s New E-book, Subterranea, Even if Only for the Decent Formatting

His Kindle is on the ground.

I recently helped Mike Duran with the formatting for his Subterranea e-book, which released earlier this week. You don’t have to dig into the ground to buy it*, since it can be unearthed on Amazon and read on your Kindle. If you think about it, downloading an e-book is as opposite of shoveling into dirt as you can get…but the real issue on hand is why you hate shoveling so much.

The cover was created by one Ravven. Go ahead and savor the book’s good-loookingness. Also, read it—I mean, why would you not want to read a book of short stories with titles like “Father Fayad’s Curious Compatibility Projector”?

Oh hey, since you randomly brought up e-book formatting, if you have a manuscript in need of such a rendering, consider hiring me for all of your formatting needs. I will work for pancakes**, which is a fancy way of saying, “probably below market rates”. Amazon seems to be growing a complicated set of requirements for formatting for Kindle, I guess because Kindles are getting more advanced and getting wise to things like HTML.

For reference, besides Subterranea, I’ve formatted Mike’s other e-book, Winterland, and my own, Bored in the Breakroom. Enjoy!

* Pun intended.
** I will not work for pancakes.

Share this post:

A Brief Paragraph of a Work In Progress

I don’t blame her.

This section ripped its clothes off to get my attention the other day, while I was proofreading my book. It was saying, “I know you think NaNoWriMo is a steaming heap of silly, but look at my nakedness before moving on. Is there something strange?”

The shuttle-wagons were on the off peak schedule so they walked the half mile to the Erikssons’ apartment complex. The summer night’s balm was heady, pushing against their bodies as they walked on the sidestreets, and it stifled the mild sounds of a sleeping university-city like a sift of fresh snow on the ground. They didn’t speak and they were comfortable in the silence, yet Vincent obligated himself to buy Alan a cup of decaffeinated tea at one of the late night stands outside of the complex.

I noticed the hairy mole in its midsection. What kind of writer compares the feel of a summer night to snow on the ground? Does it work in this instance or is it a signpost for amateur hour?

Photo by CollegeDegrees360.

Share this post:

A List of Things I May Be Doing Tonight Instead of Voting

Why not?

My shadow won’t be darkening the voting booth tonight for a number of reasons*, both practical** and moral, but the biggest reason is pure statistics. I’m not a member of the electoral college so as far as the presidential ballot goes, the chance that the college ties and things go to the popular vote to decide are almost nil.

I can respect libertarians that vote for a Gary Johnson, writes in a Ron Paul, themselves, Cthulhu, their comatose third cousin or dead childhood dog. I know of some that vote Libertarian Party to basically build up its legitmacy, but eh…me linking to Johnson’s campaign site or to a LP-friendly organization like the Mises Institute or linking to a free PDF copy of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson (pdf) probably does the same amount of damage in a fraction of the time—I’m not a member of the LP and I’ve little interest in really supporting it.

But this post is less about the crimes of politics and more about doing what I enjoy in life, one of which is not being herded willingly into a large room to press buttons for cash and prizes. So, in true Austrian economic fashion, as the final arbiter and most competent allocator of my resources (mostly time), coupled with the fact that voting produces little to no satisfaction for me, here’s a serious list of things I may do with my extra hour or so of time that yields the most satisfaction for me. Enjoy!:

  1. Roughhouse with my 14 month old son.
  2. Read with my 7 year old daughter.
  3. Watch The Walking Dead with my wife.
  4. Read non-Wikipedia resources about the fascinating subject of cargo cults.
  5. Write another chapter in my book which will never get done, then
  6. lurk NaNoWriMo’s forums for partial manuscripts and laugh at all the goober writers that scatter adverbs like appleseeds.
  7. Fondly recall what is perhaps my most alpha male move, four years ago, when I elected myself to public office with one vote and then didn’t accept the position.
  8. Pray for Christians worldwide, whatever their political beliefs, to realize the state is the worst solution to implement God’s plan for the world.
  9. Make and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, courtesy of Nicholas Coffee (even though they are into fair trade scamery), then workout until I can’t feel my fingertips.
  10. Check my blog to see if this posted. I use WordPress, which, unlike government programs, is free, very reliable/effective, and no coercion was involved.
  11. Enjoy the nice fall weather by sneaking in a solid raking sesh. Similarly I can
  12. bike past the school where I would be voting, on my way home from the bus stop. Just because.

Cthulhu lawn sign photo by ThinkBaker.

* I’ve heard every reason to vote under the sun, and some reasons over it, and you’re not smart enough to come up with something new. But by all means, please convince me otherwise.

** Pay special attention on that page to the South Africa example.

Share this post: