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Metal Monday: 2011 Metal Christmas List

Christmas: a time in which little boys and girls ask ol’ Saint Nick to fulfill their wildest desires. Thankfully for Santa Claus, kids don’t really wish for that many outlandish things. Metalheads, however, have some pretty crazy wants. Even though Santa might not be real, we’re going to make ourselves a metal Christmas wish-list, just in case. Better safe than sorry, right?  Here’s what we want:

1. We want Wintersun to finally finish Time. Even if you’re not completely stoked about Wintersun, won’t it be nice to finally get rid of the “Wintersun never releasing Time” joke? We think so. Even if it turns out to be another Chinese Democracy, at least we’ll be done with it.

2. We want Metallica to just stop. We love the band and all, but they just aren’t what they used to be. St. Anger was an atrocity, Death Magnetic was better but not great, and Lulu was just painful (even if we sort of gave our thumbs up to them recording with Lou Reed). Just recently they released a B-sides EP from the Death Magnetic material, and it provides almost no hope.

Yeah, same guy who sang "Welcome To The Jungle"

3. We want Axl Rose to continue being a hilarious wreck. It’s sort of a cruel thing to wish for, but it’s just too entertaining seeing more and more clips of Axl Rose totally blowing it on stage. He’s probably still making bank, so what does he care?

4. We want Black Sabbath’s reunion to not suck. In the wake of Dio’s unfortunate passing (RIP), Ozzy and Sabbath have made plans to get back together and play some shows as well as record a new album. I know a lot of people are very cautiously optimistic about this. It’s no secret that Ozzy is a former shell of himself and the entire Sabbath crew is starting to really get up there in age… but it’s the original lineup! Count us in, since this is likely the last shot to see these legends play together. We just don’t want it to be really bad.

Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: 2011 Metal Christmas List’

Your Country’s Right Here: Raul Malo and the Mavericks Saddle up

Raul Malo, inventor the alt-country format, has a holiday present for all of the fans that still mourn the demise of the Mavericks—the band will again play and record together.

“We are going to go back and put the Mavericks back together, dust the cobwebs off, go tour in the summer and we are going to make a new record,” said Malo, who has been recording and touring as a solo artist since  the Mavericks stopped performing together in 2003. [About the long break, he offered,] “I would say that honestly it wasn’t any one thing in particular. It was almost like a perfect storm of these different opportunities.”

Those opportunities have actually brought Malo home in a way. After playing in small bands when he was a teen and young adult, Malo teamed with his high school friend Robert Reynolds to form the Mavericks. The two used the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and other traditional country artists as the foundation for their own contemporary music.

After signing with a major label and winning a GRAMMY and two Country Music Association Awards, Malo began to work even more influences—especially Latin, rock, and jazzformats—into the music he wrote. When fan excitement for the Mavericks lagged, Malo continued on as a solo musician.

“I never thought that the Mavericks would get back together,” he said.  ”I thought it was done, and I thought that was fine. That is part of life. Move on. I don’t want to go out and just play any and just run the band into the ground. I didn’t want to start to tour for the sake of the tour. That wasn’t appealing to me. I felt it was more special to me and if the [fan interest] wasn’t there, there was nothing we could do about it.”

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Five Questions We Have For The GRAMMYs

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Award Nominees have been announced and, like every year, people don’t entirely agree with the choices. It’s only natural for fans to be upset that their favorite artist or song wasn’t nominated for a certain category. However, every year there a few head scratchers, not just in the nominations but also in the categories. Therefore, we compiled a list of five questions we have regarding this year’s GRAMMY Award nominations.

We're predicting Adele to take home the most hardware this year

1. What’s the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year?

When the nominees were first announced, we found ourselves wondering the age old question, what is the difference between these two categories? We found it very odd that out of the five songs nominated in each category, four of them were nominated for both awards. It seems rather strange that the one song will likely win two awards for basically the same thing. After some research, we discovered that the Record of the Year is awarded to the song’s performer and production team, while Song of the Year is awarded to song’s writer(s)/composer(s). While this does make some sense (not all artists write their own songs), we still think they should have nominated different songs for each category to at least give us some variety.

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Soundcheck: GRAMMY Showdown — Nicki vs. Kanye vs. Jay-Z

The 2012 GRAMMY nominations are in and it looks like another big year for hip hop, with the genre’s brightest stars earning the majority of nominations for the music industry’s biggest honor.

Leading the pack with seven nominations is Kanye West. His hit “All Of The Lights” earned nods for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Song of The Year while his joint album with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne, is up against his own My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy for Best Rap Album.  The duo is also nominated for Best Rap Performance for their song, “Otis”.

Bruno Mars and Adele are tied with Foo Fighters with six nominations each.  While it may seem a little dated by now, Mars’ debut missed last year’s cut-off.  His debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans is up for Album of The Year while his hit, “Grenade” is vying for Song Of The Year, Record of The Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.  Lil Wayne isn’t far behind with five nominations including Best Rap Performance for  “Look At Me Now” with Busta Rhymes and Chris Brown. Like West, Weezy will battle himself in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category where he’s nominated for “I’m On One” with Rick Ross, Drake, and DJ Khaled and “Motivation” his duet with Kelly Rowland.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: GRAMMY Showdown — Nicki vs. Kanye vs. Jay-Z’

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Kanye West Bono
Adele Black Keys
  • Clearly, the only reason Kayne didn’t get nominated is because his works are so awesome that they offset each other.
  • Bono, if you want to stop sounding like a girl, you might want to take off those sunglasses.
  • Can’t really blame him. Carl Barat does have a very punchable face.
  • Nice to get the official odds for the office’s back-alley GRAMMY betting ring.
  • When Will Smith’s daughter decides to step in, you know that it’s been too long since the last Will Smith album.
  • Damon Albarn reveals himself to have been the Wizard of Gorillaz all along. Munchkins everywhere are shocked.
  • Did Sleigh Bells turn into a metalcore band when we weren’t looking?
  • Bieb’s just trying to show that teen heartthrobs gotta stick together. Undersized fist bump.

Sound And Vision: Foster the People’s Chart Challenge — Is There Life After “Pumped Up Kicks”?

Foster the People just might be the pop anomaly of 2011.

The trio of Los Angeles-based twentysomethings led by founder and namesake Mark Foster looks like a boy band (only cuter), plays instruments like rockers and produces music with beats that thump as hard as any backing up those fierce divas currently ruling every dance floor in clubland. And then there’s FTP’s breakthrough single, an insanely catchy song called “Pumped Up Kicks” about cool shoes and a youth with homicidal tendencies.

I mean, really?

Even more surprising than the song’s smash status despite its decidedly un-poppy protagonist—that troubled kid contemplating a shooting spree—is the fact that it’s created barely a ripple of controversy throughout its lengthy chart run. Did the clever lyrics fly over the heads of the country’s guardians of morality and decency in songwriting? Were we all just too lost in the beat to notice the finger on the trigger?

Or perhaps for the first time since the second British invasion of the 1980s brought such alternative pop acts as Duran Duran,
Depeche Mode and indie-pop pioneers the Smiths into and around the mainstream, both the masses and the pop-music establishment (radio and retail) are ready to support music that touches on more complex subject matters than “dance music sex romance”—to quote a track on pop iconoclast supreme Prince’s 1982 album, 1999, one of the records that launched the censorship wars of the early ’80s that would hardly raise an eyebrow today.)

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Foster the People’s Chart Challenge — Is There Life After “Pumped Up Kicks”?’

Sound And Vision: Why I’m Seriously Considering Boycotting Music Award Shows

On November 9, Nashville celebrated itself (again!) with the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. For the fourth consecutive year, the event was hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, but the masters of ceremonies weren’t the only thing that gave me that old deja vu feeling. Hadn’t these accolades already been handed out just a few months ago?

Wait, those were the Country Music Television (CMT) Music Awards in June. And before that, there were the Academy of Country Music Awards. And, just in case that’s not enough Music City honors for you, there are the 2nd annual American Country Awards coming up on December 5.

Pop and R&B are just as self-congratulatory, offering the MTV Video Music Awards, the MTV Europe Music Awards, the Billboard Awards, the American Music Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, the BET Awards, the BET Hip Hop Awards, the NAACP Image Awards and the Soul Train Music Awards.

Then, of course, there are the GRAMMYs, which following so many other back-slapping fests, have been losing their lustre for years now—though that’s hardly the only reason. Winning one used to be the musical equivalent of snagging an Oscar, but now its just more clutter for the awards shelf.

In a few weeks (November 30, to be exact), the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 2012 GRAMMY Awards (to be held on February 12). Doesn’t it already feel like we’ve been there and done that over and over and over already this year? Am I the only one who doesn’t doubt that we’re in for another repeat of The Adele Show, with a very special appearance by Lady Gaga. Good as it is, like Christmas, I only need to sit through it once a year.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Why I’m Seriously Considering Boycotting Music Award Shows’

Sound And Vision: Beyoncé’s “Plagiarism” Controversies — Has She Been Caught Stealing, Or Is She Paying Homage (Again)?

Beyoncé is having a rough 2011. I don’t know how she felt about turning thirty on September 4, but if she’s as career-obsessed as I suspect she is, it was probably the least of her concerns. Yes, 2011 has not been without a few triumphs: She rocked the Glastonbury Festival in June, and she set a Twitter record for “most tweets per second recorded for a single event” (8,868) when she announced at the August 28 MTV Video Music Awards that she is expecting her first child with husband Jay-Z.

But by October, even that bright spot was mired in controversy when Beyoncé’s baby bump seemed to collapse as she sat down for a couch chat during an Australian TV appearance. A faked pregnancy? Stranger things have happened—like an underperforming Beyoncé album. Despite debuting at No. 1 with 310,000 copies sold its first week in June, Beyoncé’s fourth solo album, 4, has sold below expectations while failing to launch a major hit single.

But collapsing baby bumps and album sales might be small-time woes compared to the accusations of theft and copyright infringement that continue to dog the singer.

In the past, she’s been accused of contributing minimally to the creation of some of the songs for which she receives songwriting credit, and in 2005, she was sued (albeit unsuccessfully) for copyright infringement for her 2003 No. 1 hit “Baby Boy.” Then in 2006, Destiny’s Child‘s “Cater 2 U,” for which Beyoncé and her group mates were listed as co-writers, was at the center of another copyright infringement suit, which was settled out of court.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Beyoncé’s “Plagiarism” Controversies — Has She Been Caught Stealing, Or Is She Paying Homage (Again)?’

Sound And Vision: Guns N’ Roses? Joan Jett? Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is on the Verge of Becoming a Joke?

Last month when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its fifteen nominees for induction in 2012, the organization really outdid itself—and not in a good way! Donovan? Not again! Erik B. & Rakim? Not before LL Cool J! Joan Jett and the Blackhearts?

What? No “Weird Al” Yankovic? Hasn’t he been eligible for four years?

The Hall of Fame has been scraping from the B-list for a while now, but the voting body should take a closer look at the A-list. There’s still a lot of unheralded talent there, and that would not include Joan Jett. Yes, Jett’s former band, The Runaways, deserves credit for introducing girl power to hard rock, but did Joan Jett and the Blackhearts really earn a spot in the hallowed Hall based on the strength of one really awesome No. 1 smash, 1981′s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which the band didn’t even write? In the general scheme of things, aren’t they sort of a rock & roll footnote?

Not Linda Ronstadt. Perhaps the most influential female in ’70s rock, who spent the ’80s juggling genres from new wave to mariachi to the great American songbook, she’s the most deserving artist never to be nominated. And let’s talk about Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks, who is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac but whose solo career is far more worthy of the honor than Jett’s post-Runaways. At least the nominating committee finally had the good sense to give props to Heart, though I’ll eat my copy of the “Alone” Cassingle if the Wilson sisters actually get in.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Guns N’ Roses? Joan Jett? Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is on the Verge of Becoming a Joke?’

 


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