Want to know why end of year lists and holiday gift guides are so popular? It’s because there is typically nothing of note going on around this time. That said, I managed to eek out some pieces for The Daily Times (gift guides mostly) and Ultimate Classic Rock.
November ended up being a fairly light month, mainly because I spent half of it in Iceland. My annual trip there begins with the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, coverage of which can be found after the jump. There were also some anniversary pieces for both Diffuser and Loudwire.
Getting to this a bit late as the annual jaunt to Iceland bugged up the end of October going into November. We’ll be back on schedule – hopefully – come the end of this month. But who knows!
Between the horrific shooting in Las Vegas and the death of Tom Petty, it hasn’t been a pleasant several weeks for music. Moving forward though, I managed to nail down some record reviews, reasons why Judas Priest should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame among other things.
There’s a lot to get to after the jump…let’s get started.
September allegedly kicks off the fall around these parts, so I decided to deliver my first “MC News Repository.” This is where I’ll provide links to articles of note for each particular month. It’ll be a good place to catch up on what I’ve been working on for a variety of publications.
This was a pretty busy one, talked to the singer from Kasabian, found a new band to dig into with Nothing More, revisited the 2007 Van Halen reunion with David Lee Roth and finally finished up a long gestating ranking of Depeche Mode’s catalog.
One of the descriptors of this blog is, “Skulls.” It’s meant kind of tongue in cheek but kind of not. I get asked all the time, “What’s the deal with you and skulls?” The answer is a pretty simple one.
Basically, the skulls I have around and tattooed on me are a reminder of how short life is and that we can all go at any moment. Yes, that’s an old cliché, and sometimes clichés are hard to pay attention to because they are often so trite. So in my twisted psyche, it only makes sense to have this one ever present.
Interestingly, I didn’t get my first skull tattoo until 2009, which was right around when I fully grasped just how quickly life can be snatched away from the young without prejudice. Since then, I’ve been working on a piece ever so slowly on my lower left leg made up of multiple shulls that showcases my feelings. Part of what’s taking so long is wanting each skull to mean something. A few more than others, but they all have a connection to my past, present or hopes for the future.
Last weekend, I got my most visible tattoo to date, and, of course, it involves a skull. It’s much more than just a skull tatt though, it’s a symbolization of me taking part – and committing to – Project Semicolon. Their mission statement is as follows:
It’s been two weeks since the death of Chris Cornell and still I’m not settled over getting my thoughts about it out. When John Lennon died, I was too young to grasp the…not importance, because I somehow knew it was a big deal that my favorite band ever (as a child and until now) was truly done, but the pain of those congregating outside the Dakota where the ex-Beatle lived and died was something I wasn’t mature enough to comprehend. I saw the tears in everyone’s eyes, but couldn’t join them in mourning.
Kurt Cobain was next, who retroactively got labeled the spokesman – and “John Lennon” – for my generation, but like the Dallas Cowboys being tagged “America’s Team,” that wasn’t something which everyone agreed. I know I didn’t. Few people remember, in fact, that Nirvana’s then fresh release In Utero was polarizing at the time, and the band’s popularity was waning while Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins were blowing up. Jump ahead past to the not-so-shocking deaths of Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley in 2002 and Scott Weiland in 2015, while also realizing Bowie had been sick and Prince was on another level of stardom, Chris Cornell hit differently. Harder. Like, this was my John Lennon if there had to be a simple, tied-in-a-bow descriptive.
Soundgarden, however, had been around longer than any of those acts, were signed to a major label before them, and bridged the gap between 70s and 90s hard rock for both incoming grunge fans and leftover lovers of cock-rock. Cornell was a shirtless, lion-maned rock God without coming across as cheesy, and the guys could drop metal riffs and Beatles-esque melodies with equal effortlessness. Lyrically, Cornell’s words resonated not just because of their authenticity, but because anyone who ever went through the doldrums could identify with them. Nothing was bright and sunny; hell, the most popular song of theirs is titled “Black Hole Sun.”
One of the musical acts I’ve been into for a couple years now is Sleaford Mods, an inventive duo out of England. Stripped down, it’s observational punk hip-hop with frontman Jason Williamson spouting off about working class struggles with a mixture of humor, anger and disbelief backed by the laptop created beats from Andrew Fearn. It’s brilliant. Iggy Pop himself has dubbed them, “The world’s greatest rock and roll band.”
I caught Sleaford Mods at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and despite the guys themselves being unhappy with the gig for a variety of reasons, it was one of the best times I’ve had at the festival since I started going each year.
Afterward, I got the chance to meet and talk with Fearn, who immediately enthused how my mate and I Rich were “havin’ it.” We were right up front, bouncing about and I, for one, was yelling out the lyrics to every song and Fearn was as entertained by us as we were by him.