Corrosion of Conformity – Corrosion of Conformity

Yeah, I wanted to give this one a long time to digest and I am feeling full and satisfied! This might be the best COC album in terms songwriting and production. The arrangements are mature while the music has a constant edge to it, whether it be sharpened by hardcore or a number of sub-genres of metal. The bro vibe of the Pepper Keenan era is thankfully gone.

If you didn’t know, this is the classic line-up that recorded Animosity and Six Songs with Mike Singing… and don’t get me wrong — Corrosion Of Conformity is neither a groundbreaker nor a classic like they are. But at a point in the metal scene that sees bands churn out a litany of forgettable album after forgettable album, this is one you should take the time to get to know.

Woody Weatherman stands out as a fantastic guitar player here. I’ve always loved his solos on Eye For An Eye, where he always sounded on the verge of losing control but never did. He’s turned into an incredibly clean riffmaster but still remembers his roots like on the crazy solo that opens up the speedy “Leeches”.

In addition to the music there are some excellent liners notes, which include an interview with the band and a killer track-by-track commentary by the mighty Mike Dean!

And Reed Mullin is good too.

Video for “The Moneychangers”:

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Sleigh Bells – Reign Of Terror

The last half of this album really shines. Side 2. Starting with the catchy first single “Comeback Kid”. And then “Demons” which stands out right way as the awesome song. It might get tiring as these things tend to do but play it loud anyway. The guitar playing gets really interesting with “You Lost Me” and then the arpeggios scream on “Never Say Die” which is kind of the peek. The guitars build up and fall back on one another and propel the vocal towards revelation. It’s cool to hear the melodies without all the crunch, crunch of a drop-d on top.

So it does start a little slow. “True Shred Guitar” is not necessary. The first few songs sound a little same-y and make you feel like that’s it but “End Of The Line” is worth waiting for. And by then you’re practically there.

Video for “Comeback Kid”:

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Music Thoughts (from 2011-01-03)

Vampire Weekend = reggae Paul Simon hipster bullshit
Titus Andronicus = way too fucking earnest

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David Bowie – Lodger

Found this blurb looking for content. Written several years ago.

I picked this up at Record Runner on the last day they were open. I’m listening to it for the first time. This had to have been his most traditionally oriented pop album in a long stretch. As such it’s immediately likeable. I know a couple of these songs already: DJ, Look Back in Anger, Boys Keep Swinging… that’s a pretty good run of songs right there. Hey! Red Money is Sister Midnight.

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nero in Ottawa, ON @ Cafe Dekcuf – 2011.12.31

I had a blast on New Year’s Eve seeing the “mostly” retired band nero play a sold-out show with an intimate crowd of about 100. As usual they chose a really fun song to cover with which to explore the space. Enjoy!

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Albums of the Year 2011

1. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
2. Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
3. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
4. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
5. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life

I added St. Vincent and bumped the other two down on March 15, 2012. I only got into Strange Mercy at the end of last/beginning of this year but it had to be done.

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Prince in Ottawa, ON @ Scotiabank Place – 2011.12.03

That was absolutely fantastic! Let me just say it was pretty amazing! Holy fuck we had greats seats, 3rd row on the floor, on the aisle, tons of space and by the end of the night you could pretty much stand anywhere you wanted. Such a great party time!! We couldn’t have had better company either!

Prince played a hits packed set backed by an incredible band of musicians and singers from about 8:40 to 10:50, so just over two hours minus the long encore breaks. The stage was in the centre of the floor and was shaped like the symbol he used as a name for a while. Wish some of the songs had been longer and not medley-ized but that’s a minor quibble given the overall success of the set. Highlight was walking back with two beers as Prince started singing “When Doves Cry”, the song I’d been wanting to hear most. And “Purple Rain” was just as epic as I imagined. The show had built to a huge crescendo by the time this Prince masterpiece was played. Setlist below. NOT all the songs listed were played in full, hence my medley complaint above.

Really glad I went and won’t miss another Prince gig in the area. I highly, highly, highly recommend you go see him the next time he comes around. Even if you’re not a big fan, like me, just go… he’s a legend!

My friend took this picture. Prince is super strict about cameras and security was on high alert all night. He didn’t even allow any of the media to take pictures.


Prince Concert Setlist at Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, ON, Canada on December 3, 2011

Pop Life
Let’s Go Crazy
Little Red Corvette
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Cool (The Time cover)

When Doves Cry
Sign “O” the Times
Darling Nikki / Most Beautiful Girl in the World (Prince on Piano alone)
Hot Thing
I Would Die 4 U
Purple Rain

Encore 2:
If I Was Your Girlfriend
The Bird (The Time cover)
Jungle Love (The Time cover)

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Rocksmith, video game guitar teacher

As soon as I spied the box cover for Rocksmith in the upcoming releases section at a local retailer I knew I had to have it. I reserved my copy and waited patiently for a month.

I picked up the game at lunch time and spent the afternoon at work anticipating what it was actually going to be like. I was an early Guitar Hero adopter and was a fan of the series for years before I lost interest and my pretend-guitar peripherals started to gather dust. But now I was going to be able to plug my guitar into my PS3 and play a video game. Could it really be that awesome?!

I would have to wait some more as first the PS3 needed a system update, then the game itself needed an update. And then there was the lag issue. I plugged in my guitar, hit a chord, and a quarter second later I could hear it coming out of my TV’s speakers. What the fuck?! THIS SUCKS!! Of course I had completely ignored the suggested audio/video setup guide that came with the game and had picked the easiest, but worst, setup option. I don’t know the science behind it but here is a case where old school analog technology trumps digital. I found the composite cable that came with my PS3 and fed the audio into a stereo receiver. With the TV volume turned down I was getting digital video and analog audio. The lag was gone! And once I adjusted the in-game lag setting for note speed all my technical issues were fixed and I could FINALLY concentrate on Rocksmith.

The soundtrack that ships with the game didn’t completely blow me away but it still had tracks from bands that I love such as Nirvana, The Stones, The Pixies, The Cure, David Bowie, and Soundgarden. I spent a lot of time pondering which song I would play first. But as I soon find out, the game really holds your hand on first play and it lead me right into Satisfaction. Perfect! But my next fit of disappointment came when I started to play the song and realized the game was only feeding me one note of the iconic main riff. It was difficult to hit the note without a better sense of its context. And when more notes finally did come, and more and more of them, I got confused. My brain couldn’t process things fast enough. For one thing the strings aren’t marked with notes, they’re colour coded just like the games with plastic guitars. And I couldn’t always figure out the correct fret, especially the ones in between the numbers.

I left day one unsatisfied but I knew there was something special about the game as well. I was playing a video game with my guitar. I was playing along to some pretty cool songs. I told everyone who asked me about it the next day that I was reserving judgement until I could spend more time with the game. I had mixed feelings but didn’t want to be negative because despite all my complaints I was itching to get back home to play.

With the setup hassle already out of the way I was able to dive right in and it wasn’t much more than an hour later when I had my verdict: I LOVED THIS GAME!! I was still on the steep part of the learning curve but things were beginning to click and my progress started becoming tangible. Each song drew me in more than the last and telling my girlfriend “One more song” became my new mantra. I would get stuck trying to qualify songs I’d never heard of, like “Well OK Honey” by Jenny O and “Gobbledigook” by Sigur Ros, hating them until I broke through and was rewarded with an endorphin rush.

Almost a month later I still can’t wait to play the game whenever I get a chance. More than a few times I’ve thought to myself, “This is the greatest video game I’ve ever played in my life”. I feel the cool rush of addiction as I nail another run and rock out with the same abandon I did with Rock Band, and then realize I’m actually playing an electric guitar. My dexterity is better. I’m playing parts of the neck I never did before. I’m playing songs while I hear them for the first time.

I even thought I had a new band in Muse after rocking out to a couple of their songs. Then I heard this:

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The Watch in Gatineau, QC @ La Boîte à chansons – 2011.10.17

Fantastic show Monday night! I was blown away by the time The Watch
finished with Supper’s Ready, thinking… here I am, in a western-style
roadhouse, in Gatineau Quebec, listening to a band from Italy play the
greatest song in the world. Maybe it was the beer but I felt such a glow.

I was surprised that they didn’t play Selling England By The Pound front
to back, instead mixing chunks of it into their set. I liked it better
that way though.

This is the setlist as best I can remember. In particular I can’t
recall where The Musical Box was played and I might be missing an
original or two.

(original song)
Watcher of the Skies
Dancing With the Moonlit Knight
I Know What I Like
Firth of Fifth
One Day (original song)
The Musical Box
The Battle of Epping Forest


After the Ordeal
The Cinema Show
Aisle of Plenty
Supper’s Ready (encore)


From the promoter of the show Robert:

“While I was cleaning the stage at the end of the show I took a setlist that was still on the floor. Oliver, you were very very close my friend…

Medley Sirence
I know…
Firth of Firth
one day
TMB + facebook
All the lights
cinema show + Aisle

And another correction from my friend Les:

“BTW, One Day was originally on Genesis to Revelation. The Watch starts it off faithfully before adding their own touch to it (still very much in the old Genesis vein).”

And finally, some video from the night:

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Napalm Death in Ottawa, ON @ Mavericks – 2011.10.09

This was the best live show I’ve seen since MMJ @ Bluesfest. What a fantastic time! One of my favourite metal concerts in a while. I feel very fortunate to have experienced Napalm Death in an intimate setting like that. I really liked the band dynamic on stage. They were playing some of the most intense music on earth but weren’t acting like idiot tough guys like a lot of younger bands do. The really old stuff was awesome to see played live. I think my highlight was “Scum”.

I actually hadn’t heard Napalm’s version of Nazi Punk’s in a long time so while I was excited to hear Barney announce it, I really didn’t recognize it.

Mass Appeal Madness is my favourite ND song and I was disappointed they didn’t play it but I’d already seen that it wasn’t on their setlist from previous gigs so I had no expectation that they would play it. I still shouted for it though.

Yes, despite having a cold I managed to scare up the energy for some moshing, mostly to the older stuff. “Scum” and “Suffer The Children” were my favourite moshes. The pit wasn’t as crazy as I expected and everyone was very respectful of each other. Lots of circle action.

One thing I found weird is that they kept the house lights up during the show. I guess this is for safety reasons but it made me feel kind of self conscious when I was in the pit because it felt like there was a big spotlight on me.

I still go into the pit these days but fuck am I ever gassed after a few seconds. Still feeling the neck pain too. I probably gave my self a concussion from all the head banging.

The first time I saw Napalm Death was in Montreal at the Spectrum in 1992 I think. I really wanted to buy a ND t-shirt but they couldn’t get their merch over the border. However, they offered to take my address and mail the shirt to me when they got back to England if I didn’t mind paying up front. I did and a few weeks later I got my shirt in the mail with a hand written note that said, “Thanks for trusting us!”

I’ve always been fond of these guys for that reason and Sunday night they showed the same character.

I keep a lot of junk so it’s probably floating around somewhere.

I definitely still have the t-shirt!

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