Thursday, November 26, 2015

Week In Review: Adele Vs Lefsetz, Winter Storm Bitchflakes, Turkey shoot

I look at snowstorms before Thanksgiving as pointless as Christmas Music before Thanksgiving. Friday Winter Storm Bitchflakes (The Weather Channel never names them right, but then again they're too busy with reality shows than reporting the weather) came out of the Rockies and gave us about 8 inches of the white shit.  Certain areas got a foot or more so it could have been worse down here.  The future forecast for this week is that the see the snow will melt (YAY) but by Thanksgiving Winter Storm Crapola will give us about two inches of rain.

So much sports news going on, I should consider this renaming this Sports World.  Let's start out with the good:  Northern Iowa in basketball upsets number 1 rated North Carolina 71-67.  Amazing of the fact that UNI was down 50-34 with 17 minutes left to play till UNI ran on a 29-8 run to come from behind to win.  It might have been a different story had Marcus Page would have played for UNC but since it was played up in Cedar Falls during Winter Storm Bitchflakes' wrath and the home crowd was quite loud, that also might have played a big role too.   It's early in the season and there might be a rematch during the NCAA tourneys but for now it's the big upset in the state.

It has been a disappointing season for Arizona State this season, big losses to USC, Texas A&M and Utah kept them out of the division title but if nothing else, they got the territorial cup back in their trophy case with a 52-37 victory over Arizona.  Two pick six interceptions by the Sun Devils helped defeat the Wildcats although ASU had problems all day with future all star in the making Brendon Dawkins, getting Arizona back in the game when ASU led 31-10 at the half and on a 95 yard TD pass, where the ASU defense played grabass, and the score became 31-23, before Steve Bercovici, playing his usual up and down game finally got them going for a late TD.  Then ASU Defense came through, getting two TDs from interceptions by Kareem Orr and Lloyd Carrington which finally put the game out of reach despite a late 25 yard TD run by Dawkins.  A strange incursion of events; last year ASU won 10 games but lost to Arizona, but this season beating the Wildcats and getting the cup was the high point of a 6-6 team that didn't live up to expectations but anytime you beat Arizona it makes a season that much better, even if you're a 500 team.

Curses, say Colin Cowpie Cowherd, Iowa wins again, defeating Purdue 40-20 and staying unbeaten and going up to number 3 on the top 25 teams in the NCAA. But once again The Hawkeyes didn't look impressive, especially on defense, the bottom dwelling Purdue team outgained   them 405 to 387. So it was up to the offense to score and they did that. C J Beathard threw three TD passes and Jordan Canzeri concluded the scoring and putting the game out of reach with a 42 yard touchdown run.  With Northwestern beating Wisconsin 13-7 (although the refs had a hand in that game, saying a late TD catch in the end zone was not, the WR didn't have it in his possession long enough although replays suggest otherwise), Iowa wins the Western Division Title.  While the Hawkeyes are now 11-0, the Black Friday match with Nebraska will be the telling point between a great season or the best season ever.  While Iowa players can now focus on that game, they better step it up on defense. One messup and Colin Cowherd, Iowa hater and FOX Sports news hack will have his knives out to cut this season up.   In other words, keep winning.

On the downside, Iowa State led Kansas State 35-28 and all they had to do was V formation and get out with a victory.  K State had not won a big 12 game all year and it looked like they would lose this. But a big fumble by the RB and Joe Huberner shot the Wildcats down for the tying score. Then Joel Lanning, I State QB fumbled and K State kicked the winning FG for a 38-35 victory.  The sad part was that Iowa State led 35-14 and seemed to have the game at hand.  But like they did against OK State was that they couldn't finish the game.  And with that, Paul Rhodes got fired the next day although he will stay on to coach against West Virginia.  Rhodes has been with Iowa State for almost 7 seasons and although his players have always loved him, they simply couldn't find ways to keep winning, although this season they did beat Texas. Out of the seasons, Rhodes only had one winning season, he did Iowa three of the past five seasons and did upset Oklahoma State in 2011.  Still, the Cyclones did not show much progress, even benching Sam B Richardson in favor of Joel Lanning who did provide a slight spark, but the Cyclone defense couldn't stop anybody.  A difference of opinion cost Mark Mangino the offensive coordinator spot, to which the fatman tweeted that the fat lady is now singing after blowing the K State lead, a bit slight  bitter after being let go. Still you wonder if the outcome would have been different had the fat man still been O.C.  Anyway, The Kansas State meltdown was Rhodes's demise and exit.  Don't feel sorry for Paul though, he will get a 4.6 million dollar buyout.  Tommy Mangino, the WRs coach and son of the fat man, did managed to coach three Iowa State receivers gain over 1,000 yards in catches with Quenton Bundrage, Allen Lezard and D'Vario Montgomery, and if Iowa State decides to let him go, he'll find a new team the next day.

 LaDainian Tomlinson, best San Diego Chargers running back had his number retired Sunday and that turned out to be the highlight of the game as San Diego went home after that.  Kansas City scalped them 33-3, in the worst showing that the Chargers have done this year, which is saying something since they have sucked the whole year and now lost 6 straight.  The original thought would be that they would lose 10 games, that's a given.  They're on par to lose 12 now.  The loudest cheers was for LT at halftime but once the second half came about and The Chargers looking lost and like shit, cheers turned into boos and perhaps LT should have suited up and play. Dontrelle Inman didn't do any favors by dropping a pass deep down the field, probably thinking of some jive end zone dance instead of catching the damn ball. Phillip Rivers, apparently colorblind threw a pick six in the third quarter and after that the Chargers quit.  Things don't get easier as they traveled to Jacksonville and in couple weeks go to Kansas City where they seldom win.    In the 11 years of being Charger QB Rivers has been slightly overrated, whereas crybaby Eli Manning refusing to be part of San Diego was moved to New York and won a couple super bowls and even Drew Brees has a ring for New Orleans whereas Rivers has yet to make the Super Bowl. While Rivers has done some good things for the bolts, my thinking still remains that had former jinx general manager A J Smith didn't trade Brees away and would have kept Darren Sporles things would have been different.  So far, new running back Melvin Gordon hasn't been the replacement of L.T, but neither was Ryan Matthews.  But then again Gordon never benefited from having a good offensive line, which was no match for K.C. as Gordon got stuffed time and time again.  Things don't change Mike McCoy will be joining Paul Rhodes on the unemployment line.

Eye candy picture of the month: A salute to the wounded female veterans who helped protect and serve our country.  And still look good.  Crabby and the Record World folks salute you!

Getting back to music.

Catamount Studios, the place in Iowa were many bands recorded their albums at, the likes of Hawks, Blue Band, Dangtrippers/Head Candy and many more others, has been sold off. Which sounds like they are closing the place after Dan Johnson reported that any bands that have masters or copies of their output should consider getting them back before they get thrown away. More about this story as it unfolds in the future.

Journey once again has a Steve back into the band;  Steve Smith.  Steve who has been keeping busy with his band Vital Information and being a in demand drummer for other jazz fusion folk has cleared a two year space of giving his Vital Information band time off, agreed to play drums for Journey till 2018, when he resumes his regular job again.  While pundits would like to see another Steve (Perry) return, Smith's rejoining will give Journey a more authentic sound back in the days of Frontiers, Escape, Departure and the other three albums he was on. (Evolution,  Captured and .....Dream After Dream, which came out as a import.

The music never stopped, Dead And Company which Bob Weir and the Dead drummers with John Mayer stepping in for Trey Anastasino concluded their Denver shows with a rousing closer and will be taking their act to the MGM Grand in Vegas.  Their set list and story here:

The runaway album will be Adele 25 which is on par to sell 2.5 million copies of it and Spotify spokesman Bob Lefsetz can't make up his mind rather to root for her selling CDs or damning her for not streaming it online.  I don't pay much attention to Bob all that much anymore, he repeats himself every month and rewords it that you hope you don't notice.  Perhaps if you're living 24/7 on your Smartphone like he does (and about 8 million other Americans for that matter) you can't live without your Spotify, and besides CDs are dying off, Target and Best Buy tries to see how much more space they can shrink in the CD section ever week and the BIG 3 labels simply don't promote the new artists.  With Adele, Sony Music actually took a prybar to their wallet and have promoted her album, you can't stop in a Books A Million or Barnes And Noble and seeing Adele's face.  With Corporate Radio owning everything and playing the same 30 songs of long ago and far away, most new bands are writeoffs and what passes on the radio, the new music stinks to high heaven. And not as memorable.  Besides there's more things on the net to waste your time, video games, Netflix, so much out there and the problem remains, more things to do but you have less time to enjoy it all. The reason why most music of this millennium is forgotten is that most of hits were flavors of the moment.  Adele shook things up by making two earlier albums that had songs that you could remember (Rolling In The Deep) and good enough to be on the overplayed list on KDAT.  But then again Lefsetz has been a double edge writer, he bitches about not enough great music out there, but then he bitches about people not having music on Spotify. When somebody tries to send him their music or what they think is good music, he becomes the "get off my lawn" old coot, or the crank that says that CD and record buyers who do not stream are not hip and therefore should not buy records or CDs.  Saying that makes you a hypocrite.  Perhaps Adele left a ton of money on the table if she didn't let Spotify stream her new album.  Knowing how well Spotify pays for royalties Adele might have to flip burgers to get any income should the CD flop.  Even with physical media to which Lefsetz hates with a passon, I think she'll be alright, despite Grandpa Get Off My Lawn chewing her up and down in a previous blog about not streaming (see Adele Not Streaming on his website) and forgetting to take his BP meds.  Major Lazer's Lean On gets 526 million plays on Spotify, which translates into about 47 cents from a Spotify check.  And we all know you can make pennies streaming your songs on Spotify, just ask the big stars.  Adele did sell 3.38 million copies of her album.  Not bad considering nobody stocks CDs anymore. (Behold the Target incredible shrinking CD section).

Whatever happened to:  June Millington

You might not know it but here in the Midwest we do have a music scene of bands trying to become the next big thing.  Somebody went to great trouble to compile the best of the Des Moines bands.  Next month Cedar Rapids/Iowa City? 

Passings:  Cynthia Robinson, trumpet player for Sly And The Family Stone and Graham Central Station died from cancer Monday, she was 69.

Singles Going Steady: Dear Prudence by Katfish 

Adele-25 (XL Recordings/Columbia 2015)

It's bizarre to think I'll would invest time and money into somebody which has universal love on reviews and fans, and of course the fickleness that Pitchfork gave this record, as if they were expecting another 21.  But I tend to somewhat agree that the weariness of lost love and the mellow piano and strings tend to make my mind wonder.  It's really simple; I prefer more rock and roll, and Adele is a damn good vocalist, although she gets into the Don't Yell At Me singer category that   makes me push the fast forward button, most of the songs are quite listenable.  In some ways 25 doesn't vary much from Lana Del Rey's latest, which begs for inclusion on the ten best of 2015, and Adele's subject of love gone wrong is probably that not believable considering in the four years from her last album and this, she has gotten married and become a mother, but still finds the time to break out the heartbreak with lead off track Hello or Send My Love (to your new lover).  Which is fine by me but the go to tracks for myself would be Sweetest Devotion, which as rock and roll as Adele gets, the Stevie Nicks influenced Water Under The Bridge and Danger Mouse produced River Lea, which all three tracks gets her out of the safe mode.  In the end, Lana Del Rey  latest wins out but 25 is a no shame album either.
Grade B+

Uncle Acid-The Night Creeper (Rise Above 2015)

I'm not much into concept albums but hearing bits and pieces of this album got me interested to buy the thing and play it out but damned if Kevin Starrs knows his Black Sabbath and yes Uncle Acid loves Black Sabbath, even to the point of The Night Creeper sounding like Starrs took notes on Mike Butcher's production and sound on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, to which this album based upon dime store detective novels and Jack The Ripper.  While Sabbath is the main influence, I can pick up Alice Cooper via the early 70s and on the repetitive riffs Hawkwind, as noted on lead off track Waiting For Blood.  Actually the first half of the album is a very good listen, Starrs and band having a keen ear for old heavy metal riffs.  The second half tends to wander off, and final track Slow Death does feel like the title says for the whole 8 minutes, which actually builds around the 6 minute mark.  Not for the faint of heart or so called modern rock and I certainly wish more bands would return to this type of psych metal.  While Sabbath does tend to change rhythm and melody in their songs, Uncle Acid keeps it more straight without consequences.  But even in the lyrics and melody The Night Creeper remains a foreboding trip till the world of dime store horror detective world of nobody gets out alive. And that speaks volumes.
Grade B+

The Best Of Fare Thee Well-Celebrating 50 Years Of The Grateful Dead (Rhino 2015)

Certainly the raggedness is their charm and it shows.  Bob Weir throws a F Bomb and then messes up a line in Truckin' a song that he could do in his sleep after performing it 40 of the 50 years of Dead Music.  While the stripped down 2 CD set varies greatly from the last complete show, to which you can get and the whole three nights at Soldier Field, it does captures what The Grateful Dead does in concert.   Doing medleys of songs that blend into one another that you hardly noticed till the chord changes.  It works quite nicely on the China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider Medley and it works on Truckin/Scarlet Begonias/Fire On The Mountain.  While Drums/Space tend to make a run to the bathroom on previous recordings, I could follow the whole 15 minutes.  Trey Anastacio  may not be Jerry Garcia, but he does a fine job regardless.  I suppose you had to be there and even if Touch Of Gray, like Truckin' sounds like it takes a while for them to get on the same page, they still find a way to get everybody to sing the ending line of We Will Get By.  Certainly for a finale, it does pale to their classic live stuff (the 1971 S/T skull and roses CD, the 1978 Cedar Falls/Madison shows) and you had to be there to experience it (which if nothing else you can spring the full 50 dollars for the DVD or Blue Ray Set) and don't think this is the last time you hear from them (in fact John Mayer has replaced Trey on the New York concerts in October) but to celebrate 50 years of Dead music, you couldn't found a better tribute band.
Grade A-

Lee Michaels-Heighty Hi-The Best Of (Manifesto 2015)

The forth attempt to provide a general overview of the original madman organ player and still the Columbia years are ignored.  Lee recorded two forgotten Columbia platters after leaving A&M and for whatever reason (more money perhaps) Nice Day For Something and Tailface have never seen the light of day on CD.  Which I somehow hoped that his forgotten Columbia single Same Old Song would have graced somebody's comp, Manifesto's attempt might be the best of the four out there although perhaps a single edit of Heighty Hi might have worked better than the album cut of 6 minutes which I still love.  Lee will be known for Do You Know What I Mean and followup Can I Get A Witness which I liked better.  Points are given for the inclusion of Murder In My Heart For The Judge.  The production might be a bit dated but at time Lee and his crazy drummer Frosty (later leaving to join Sweathog, then was last seen peddling vacuum cleaners) was really cutting edge although the hippy dippy stuff screams 1969.  Manifesto had worked out a deal with Lee to issue all of the A&M albums, and if you love the best ofs, you might enjoy the whole 7 albums that are now in one big box set.  Better get them fast, Lee has a habit of recalling his masters after a while, just as One Way (wait, you can't, they're out of business)
Grade B+

Bill Kopp reviews the complete A&M albums:

Live:  Past Masters-Wild Hogs 11/25/15

In the five months returning back to playing music locally I have spread time between watching my friends play in their bands.  Thirty years ago I view the other bands as competition and trying to top whatever they were playing, nowadays I don't look at that anymore.  When I do go out it's to hear what they play and how they do on stage or more importantly if they can get people on the dance floor.  I have known Bart Carfizzi and Tommy Bruner as fellow jam buddies and have jammed with them on occasion and sometimes Chad Johnson will partake a Sunday jam or two, however with the Past Masters he becomes a total entertainer running through the crowd and walking on your table with his Elvis Presley persona.  Nevertheless, Layne Goldsberry has a solid bass sound and Tom Miller, drummer extraordinaire keeps it simple but a nice powerful sound as well.  Past Masters do revisit the past and old 50s and 60s songs that we all know so well, even throwing a surprise as well, instead of Satisfaction they went with Get Off My Cloud.  There is a reason why they do travel far and wide, going to the casinos to South Dakota and Colorado, The Past Masters have a tight sound and professionally done.  Chad's interaction with the crowd, during the Tom Jones medley or Buddy Holly trilogy of songs.   They packed the place Halloween night, and the Thanksgiving Eve crowd was not as big but still it was high energy and the old folk were dancing to extended versions of Gimme Gimme Good Lovin.  A few of the regular jammers were out in the crowd, most notably Craig Dewitte fellow guitar jammer and full time crazy providing some quality entertainment and chat before wandering off into the night.  To which the band concluded things with their Beatles medley, and they did get by with a little help from their friends.

The Worst of 2015-Gobble Gobble Gobble

This may be the shortest list of the worst music of the year, not because I didn't buy much new music but rather stayed away from most of the garbage out there.  But what passed for turkeys were the usual bro country offerings, Old Dominion gets the distinction of  Turkey Of The Year with their debut album.  Farce The Music noticed enough to make fun of them on their website off and on, not as much as FGL, but even with Kacey Musgraves' producer, Old Dominion didn't distinct themselves from the rest of the Bro Country dude and most of their songs were the same, but different lyrics, some sound like second grade, most third but the more reflective ballads were more like fifth grade level.  For me, the disappointment of the year was Blues Traveler Blow Up The Moon (Loud N Proud) which bombed bigtime, basically guest stars being lead singers to Blues Traveler music. Even when I traded it in Half Priced Books, they only sold it off when they threw it in the two dollar bins.  Disappointment number 2 was Dwight Yoakam Second Hand Heart (WB), to which the Target Edition had the best song, a old 1989 demo of The Big Time, produced by Pete Anderson who was sorely missed.

Take away the Blues Traveler album which was a mistake by their manager, Second Hand Heart is not a total turkey turd biscuit, but a disappointment in the way the reviewers called this a big comeback.  To these ears, Dwight never recovered from booting Anderson out of his band and albums and went for a more Rolling Stones guitar sound on this.  The songs went on too long and my attention span went somewhere else.  Kacey Musgraves Pageant Material (Mercury) remains a three star album but compared to her Same Trailer Different Park, she played it too safe, and while Biscuits was a nice song, it wasn't as grabbing as Follow Your Arrow or Merry Go Round.  And Neil Young The Monsanto Years (Reprise) could have used a bit more refining of the lyrics, this could have been a grand statement on GMO and corporate greed but it sounds like Neil thought of them up on the spot and went with that.  Living With War was better put together but The Monsanto Years is not a total waste if your a Neil Young Diehard Fan.  Casual fans will likely step away, just like they did with Storyville.

If nothing else, we can give Old Dominion a break and say that the biggest turd of the year was Sirius XM raising their rates another 25 dollars and having less and less choice music which lead me to pull the plug on that overpriced service.  And then trying to cancel the whole thing and the Sirius operator continuing to plug in cheaper alternatives in five different packages but the end result would be the usual crap and Mike Des Barres boring us on Underground Garage.  With our wonderful place of employment threatening layoffs every year, even I'm cutting back on purchases and closing the doors on other things that have a hand in my wallet (I'm looking at you OnStar) and taking dollars that are needed elsewhere.  It's going to be a rough year if our place of employment don't get their shit together.  But as noted mergers don't do shit for variety and only benefits shareholders, and Sirius/XM have been noting more than pay corporate radio with lesser choices each passing year and each increase in subscription price.   And turkey number 2 is Bob Lefsetz and his ongoing Adele slogging and Spotify touting.  Hell with him and his streaming, I'll take actual physical product over bad sounding stream and MP3 files.

And if you turned you TV on at the wrong time, you might have seen Luke Bryan's awful Thanksgiving halftime show.  While the usual Positive Twitbots called it best performance ever, I love the man, you don't know good music if you hate Luke bla blah, the majority of the folks wrinkled their nose and went Foowie! To which Luke Baby wins the third spot of this year's Turkey Turds.  Good thing we didn't eat dinner before seeing that.

Gobble Gobble Gobble.

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