Monday, 23 February 2015

Cultural Phenomenon Gone Bad – A list of 10

Sometimes the Rock and Roll Librarian likes to channel his inner grumpy old man, shaking an imaginary cane at the Starbucks and reminding everyone that coffee should be drunk black, with the only acceptable accompaniment being a shot of brandy. In the old days, that and a couple of unfiltered “Export A” greens was a perfectly good breakfast, at least according to my Granddad and he lived to be well over 60.

Recently though, strange things have begun to creep into our cultural consciousness that remind us things are not as they used to be. Twerking? Instagraming your lunch? What the hell man. And who decided that we needed an updated version of Spiderman every two years until the end of time? Some stuff you shouldn't mess with and some stuff should not have been invented – I’m looking at you Auto Tune. Maybe we need to be more discerning about which daft ideas we allow to consume us as the flavor of the day. And hey you hipsters - stop buying up all the Goddamn vinyl – you’re driving up the price for the real collectors.     
The following is basically a list of questionable stuff that has gone sideways since Seinfeld went off the air. Evidently, some of this will kill you now, but wouldn't have back in my day.

1.       Paris Kardashian syndrome – This is a recent phenomenon where you can become a celebrity by having a daddy with lots of money. You don’t have to actually do anything except frequently post to your twitter account and make the odd sex tape.

2.       Soy Exploitation – The soy bean was fine on its own for thousands of years as a staple in the Asian diet. It should never have become the main ingredient in…well everything, and especially should never appear in the same sentence as frappucino or latte.                                                                             

3.       Gluten Sensitivity – I’m pretty sure gluten sensitivity was invented by the food industry as a clever way of marketing to hypochondriacs. Gluten is a necessary part of life…like msg. No one actually knows what it does, except that when you take it away, it creates flavor sadness.

4.       Water bottles – From the way people cart water bottles around these days, you would think humans had been pushed to the brink of extinction from being dangerously dehydrated all the time. Eight glasses a day? Tell that to the Masai warriors, who survive on one sip of sandy well-water each day while tracking antelope over marathon like distances.

5.       Concussions – What has happened to sports? Kids are getting concussed these days from badminton birdies. Somehow as soon as they changed from the medically acceptable term of getting your bell rung to concussion, incident rates went up 2000 %. In my day we used to get a concussion, and…then. Okay… lost my  train of thought

6.       Vaccines that will kill you, or at least render you autistic – I have a vaccination scar on my arm. It kept me from getting polio, measles, scarlet fever, probably the plague and God knows what else. How did not getting vaccinated become a thing?

7.       Every singer that sounds like they are perpetually auditioning for The Voice – Listen to some Joe Cocker and come back when you stop trying to sound like Rhianna. (That is a bad thing in case you are confused on where I stand)

8.       Craft Brews Gone Berserk – Hops is one of the things that makes beer delicious when used in a judicious manner. Somewhere along the line, every craft brewer out there thought they needed to out-hop and out-weird everyone else. Super-Hoptastic Banana Peel Brew is not a good idea for a flavor.

9.       Inability to Fail – How about a generation of kids who legally can’t fail a grade, be cut from a team or experience any other type of disappointment in life? This trend will keep the drug companies and therapists in business for years to come.

10.   Names that have weird spellings but are really the same name. Allisa, Alyssa, Elisa, Alisha. Are you being a cool parent or are you just making life difficult for her teachers? Four variations of Alyssa in the same class? Go sit next to Ayden.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Love the Song...Hate the Band. A Top 10

For whatever reason, it just happens. A band that you would otherwise hate somehow breaches your good taste defenses and the next thing you know Billie Jean is on all of your play lists. You might even find yourself defending them just a little bit.  “Bon Jovi? Eww… give me a break. Oh, except for Dead or Alive, that’s such a good song.”

Stranglehold – Ted Nugent

Turn down the suck: All the other screeching crap by Ted Nugent sounds perfectly suited for the drunken juvenile rednecks that it was written for. Wang Dang Sweet Poontang? Come on…the guy is clearly a lunatic. Hey Ted…Foghat called and you’ve been cut from that shitty 70’s reunion tour.

Turn up the good: If Ted Nugent only wrote this one song in his entire career, he could peacefully go to his grave as a legend.  The intro is a growly, grab you by the throat kind of guitar riff that Angus Young himself would be proud of. A long song at over 8 minutes, it is not your typical Ted Nugent fare. The funky break-down in the middle features a hypnotic bassline underneath some really cool guitar work that is more Allman Brothers than anything else. The Nuge may be a huge A-hole, but he done good on this one.

Silent Lucidity – Queensryche

Turn down the suck: Queensryche is a progressive metal band. Yes, it is exactly as bad as it sounds. Panterra meets Dream Theatre. There is good reason that they have fourteen albums and 150 other songs you have never heard of.

Turn up the good: Silent Lucidity has this kind of building thing where it just sucks you in. All the layers of guitars, strings and vocals somehow come together in a masterful way. Is it cheesy? Could be, but a little cheese (if it’s packaged well) can bring even the most hardened of the metal-heads and the prog rockers together at last.

Kid Rock – Bawitdaba
Turn down the suck: Is the Kid a rapper, a country duet star or a wannabe Bob Seger Junior? All of the above choices lead to misery, as he’s not very good at any of them.

Turn up the good: I don’t know what they are saying at the start of this song, but whatever it is, it really gets me going. By the time “MY NAME IS KIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDD” kicks in, I’m moshing around my kitchen, like its 1997. Great song. Period.

Motley Crue – Kickstart my Heart

Turn down the suck: Motley Crue is a generic hair metal band that somehow clawed its way above the other crap bands of the time. They had a few not-so-edgy hits and they kind of mattered until Guns and Roses came around and blasted everybody out of the water.

Turn up the good: With the guitars revving up like engines, a thundering bass line and the drums kicking you in the guts, there is no better work-out song than this. This is the finest offering from the Crue, hands down. Oh yeah, the video is pretty kick-ass too.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give it away

Turn down the suck: Disclaimer – I have no hate in my heart for The Chili Peppers, but neither will I ever willingly play one of their albums. They went from almost unlistenable weird surf-funk to slightly more palatable and much more massive mainstream. Anthony Kiedis evolved from that whole speak-singing thing to a more seasoned vocalist, but still not what you would call great.

Turn up the good: Flea is a bad-ass bass player and he holds this mother down like nobody’s business. This with the rapid fire guitar riffs and Kiedis’ weird vocal styling’s make Give it Away just the coolest thing since George Clinton emerged from the mother ship. The lyrics are questionable but we don’t even care because it comes with a freaky video where a bunch of silver painted dudes are jumping around in the desert.  What’s not to like?

Phil Collins – In the Air Tonight

Turn down the suck: Let me spell out the disaster that is Phil Collins – solo artist. You Can’t Hurry Love, Easy Lover, Against All Odds and Sussudio. That there is some serious adult contemporary schlock.

Turn up the good: In the Air Tonight is a wickedly atmospheric song with one of the greatest drum breaks in the history of anything, anywhere. It is possible however, that most everyone who owns this album has never listened to the other tracks and that’s ok. They would only lead to disappointment after being stacked up against this beauty.

Molly Hatchet – Flirtin with disaster

Turn down the suck: If you took Lynyrd Skynyrd and made it a bit whiter and lot crappier then you would be approaching Molly Hatchet. Biker music covered in biscuits and gravy that all starts to sound the same after a while.

Turn up the good: This is the type of song that makes you drive a little faster and wish the road was a little longer just so you could keep going. The tempo is perfect, the guitars are epic and damn ya’ll if you don’t like it.

Radiohead - Creep

Turn down the suck: I tried to like Radiohead, I really did. I don’t hate ‘em, it’s just that they are so damn mopey. Sounds like electronica gone sad. Hey Thom Yorke, lighten up dude.

Turn up the good: Creep…um, yep, still mopey, but cool lyrics, cool guitars and it’s kind of catchy. Apparently Thom Yorke hates this song, which shouldn’t surprise us. He only likes the full on angst version of Radiohead. Too bad the rest of the world happens to like Creep better. Oh to be a tormented artist.

Reflecktor – Arcade Fire

Turn down the suck: In my opinion Arcade Fire is over-produced, over rated and overall yuck. Too many instruments and vocals layered overtop of inaccessible melodies.

Turn up the good: Yes I know it’s very popular and trendy but I worked hard at listening to this and I have, begrudgingly come to like it. I suspect that the Arcade Fire purists will probably shun me for declaring my love for it.  Why don’t you go make out with the Radiohead purists and leave me alone.

Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills

Turn down the suck: If you like banging your head against a brick wall to loud staccato guitar riffs and high pitched vocals that sound the same song after song then Iron Maiden is your band. They had a good formula back in 1982 with The Number of the Beast but they could never really recreate the magic and everything since then has been a weak copy.

Turn up the good: Run to the Hills, on the bright side, is bold stand out where we hear the quintessential Bruce Dickinson vocals that every metal band has since tried to emulate. If you’re a singer and can handle the vocals on Run to the Hills, you should probably try and start your own metal band because dude…you’re awesome.