Good As Hell: Songs of the Year

You’ve no doubt seen the glut of end-of-year lists in recent weeks, and here’s one more for to check out. Over at Vanyaland, we all threw our favorites of the year into a massive mixing bowl, drew them out one by one and voted on them and this is what we ended up with, whittling it down to the final 25.

A couple of mine made it into the Top 25, no small feat as there are some damn solid choices on there. My favorite – reaching number six overall – was from Lizzo, a single titled “Good As Hell,” and here’s the video, along with what I had to say about it:

“Blooming hip-hop artist Lizzo became a sensation in her hometown of Minneapolis in 2013 with the release of her solo debut Lizzobangers, which caught the attention of fellow Minnesotan Prince, who asked her enlisted her to guest on the funky rump shaker “Boy Trouble” from 2014’s Plectrumelectrum. And while there’s no doubt working with the late Purple One had to be a career highlight thus far, it’s the undeniably catchy “Good As Hell” from this year’s major-label debut EP Coconut Oil — and slotted prominently on the soundtrack to Barbershop: The Next Cut — that has everyone talking. Co-written and produced by Ricky Reed, it’s a song about post-relationship failure and female empowerment as much as it is an ode to friendship. “Boss up and change your life/You can have it all, no sacrifice/I know he did you wrong, we can make it right/So go and let it all hang out tonight,” goes one of the verses, which Lizzo delivers with an effortlessly smooth and confident flow. “Good As Hell” might be referencing moving on, but as her show at Brighton Music Hall earlier this month that brought the house down showed, it’s sure to be a launching pad for Lizzo to move up.”

It was a bit of a surprising choice to some, but you can’t choose what songs grab you – they just do. Trust me, there was plenty of expected fare in my orbit this year as well. I was all over songs by Sleaford Mods, the Cult, Seratones, the Kills, Deftones and Daughter; there was certainly no shortage of good stuff to spin. Here’s to a just as sonically bountiful 2017…cheers!

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Game

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the more divisive institutions out there. Many are critical of its nominating committee, the artists who have been unfairly left out as the years have gone on, and, the opposite, acts getting in who don’t deserve to be there.

This year is no different, and with the announcement of who will be getting into the Hall as part of the Class of 2017 coming any day now, arguments will be loud over who got screwed over and who got the nod but shouldn’t be in the conversation in the first place.

I’ve done a series of piece on why certain acts should be in for Ultimate Classic Rock and Diffuser. Here are the links to five reasons each of the following nominees should be inducted:

Electric Light Orchestra

Jane’s Addiction

MC5

Pearl Jam

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69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Five

I’ve never really had a nice car. Well, maybe that one ’85 Camaro Z28 for a few weeks until I took it out for an accelerated spin down a winding road after a rainstorm and ended up flipping it, narrowly avoiding death…but that’s a story for another post. But no, having had ten cars (ten!) over a period that lasted less than a decade, there was never one that I could say, “Man…I really miss that car.” More often than not, it was, “Good riddance.”

Each one had some issue that was the then bane of my automobile owning existence. The ’83 Mustang GL, for some reason, was all metric underneath, and it leaked oil incessantly. The heat didn’t work in the ’86 Camaro Z28, there was no backseat, the T-tops leaked  and the hatchback didn’t latch. The driver’s side door on the ’88 Monte Carlo LS wouldn’t latch (try that one going down I-95 at 75mph). The black Buick Century  had a smashed in front end from a “slight accident” my then girlfriend got into. Three of the automatic windows in the silver Buick Century wouldn’t go down. The passenger window wouldn’t go down on the ’79 Camaro, and one of the spark plugs kept fouling out. And what the fuck is that garden hose knob doing under the hood of the ’76 Pontiac LeMans and what does it do?!!?

The relationship with most of them ended in spectacular fashion. Totaled the ’83 Mustang when some kids in a Camaro made an illegal turn into my lane. Flipped its replacement in the aforementioned fashion. Drilled the Monte Carlo LS into a fire hydrant, replaced the front end myself with an SS front end which confused everyone. The rear axle on the silver Buick Century simply collapsed as I backed out of a parking spot. I just raised my eyebrows, went back in my apartment and called it a day.

None of the cars were from the decade in which I was presently living, be it the mid-90s or early-00s. Since they were all so old they were always in need of some sort of repair. Most were sub-par; not a Mustang GT, a GL. Who needs a Monte Carlo SS when you can have the inferior LS? And Buick Grand National or even Regal? Nah…I’ll take a pair of the Century please.

Still…I always managed to get into trouble with them…

drag-racing Continue reading “69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Five”

69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Four

I can say with all certainty that some of the best times I’ve had was when the Philadelphia Film Festival was at it’s peak in the early-aughts. A week of trying to see as many films as humanly possible along with a handful of friends doing the same was a blast. 2002 through 2005 were the most memorable, for a variety of reasons.

It was like working another job; you get up in the morning, pack the essentials for the day and head to see the first film, usually around 11am. Three of the theaters are within a four block radius of one another in the Society Hill section of the city. A lucky day would be when that’s where all your films for the day were set. The challenge is when something is in West Philly or Center City and you’ve got to make like a bandit to get across town.

pff-badge Continue reading “69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Four”

69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Three

This one wasn’t really a “moving find” per se, since it’s been hanging on my wall since returning from the first time I went to Iceland in 2011. Jón Sæmundur Auðarson is an Icelandic artist who created the Dead project in 2003, nine years after he was diagnosed HIV positive. The message behind Dead is simple: live life to its fullest. More specifically: “He Who Fears Death Cannot Enjoy Life.”

I had seen locals all around Reykjavik wearing the shirt which had the saying in English, Icelandic and a host of other languages. My new friend, singer/songwriter Myrra Rós told me Jón’s story and where his shop – which doubles as a gallery – was located. I checked it out, hung with Jón and talked about his friendship with Brian Jonestown Massacre leader Anton Newcombe.

This original oil painting was hanging up in his shop and I purchased it along with a couple other items. The next time I came through town, I got a tattoo of the skull. Everything behind Dead resonates deeply within me, and as I prepare to go return for my 10th time to the country, look forward to seeing him again.

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AC/Donsie? Hope Not.

Following a whirlwind weekend where I flew out to Chicago for this year’s edition of Riot Fest to catch a reunion by the Misfits with Glenn Danzig, Social Distortion do their album White Light, White Heat, White Trash in full and a slew of other acts over a three-day period, I made a quick pit-stop in Philadelphia to visit with friends one night and witness what might very well be the final performance of AC/DC – ever – the following at the city’s Wells Fargo Center.

I had seen the band a few times before, but things have been pretty upside down in their world over the past year or so, culminating this past April when singer Brian Johnson had to abruptly leave the road or face total hearing loss. Dates were postponed on the lucrative Rock or Bust world tour, but the show went on with yet another singer, the incredibly unlikely choice of Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses.

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This tour had the distinction of being the first time I had covered – and shot – both the opening date (for Vanyaland in August 2015) and the closing date, the latter for Ultimate Classic Rock magazine.

Honestly, as notoriously prickly as Rose can be – especially in a live setting – I’d never, ever dreamed I’d get to shoot him live. But, like I said, the unlikely has happened quite a bit lately surrounding him. Even his harshest critics have begrudgingly praised how he seamlessly stepped in and saved the AC/DC tour, and I for one hope they continue on in some form. Whether it’s taking a risk on new material or just touring every few years, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the singer and guitarist Angus Young.

Plus, not too many hardcore fans were complaining about long forgotten chestnuts like “Live Wire,” “Riff Raff” and – in Philadelphia – “Problem Child” getting pulled out of the treasure chest.

69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Two

I’ve become so deeply immersed in the education of the suicide prevention movement over the past six years that it’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t involved. My reasons for initially discovering the campaign were both serendipitous and personal, and it turned out to be, what I believe to be, one of the most meaningful accomplishments in my life.

Six years and five overnight walks later for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I’ve heard stories of loss that would break the most jaded heart, traversed more miles in the name of a cause than I ever though possible and met some of the greatest and strongest people imaginable who I now consider the best of my friends.

While on the 69 to 99 Moving Finds expedition, I came across the shirt for the first walk I did in late June of 2010, and it definitely brought up some memories.

first-overnight Continue reading “69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Two”