Week 15 Review (18+ Only, NSFW)

90125’s fantastic performance in the US in 1983 is likely what kicked the War on Drugs into high gear in the 80’s as Nancy Reagan could only conclude that most Americans were snorting lines of coke off a stripper’s tit and heading to their local record shop to buy Yes’ latest album while their minds were still completely obliterated.


Artist: Yes {Jon ‘Are You Fucking Kidding Me?’ Anderson – vocals; Tony ‘Keep Piling That Shit On’ Kaye – keyboards; Trevor ‘I am So Sorry’ Rabin – guitars, vocals, additional keyboards; Chris ‘I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today’ Squire – bass, vocals; Alan ‘This Wasn’t My Fault’ White – drums, percussion, backing vocals}
Album: 90125
Year: 1983
Genre: Regressive Shit Pop
Rating: a screwdriver in the eye/5

Worth Your Time? Avoid it like gonorrhea. After a week long infection, I’m considering setting my crotch on fire in hopes of stopping the burning.

Twitter Review: Most people if they had a time machine would stop Lincoln’s assassination or try to kill Hitler. Well not me. Not me, god damn it. I’d get in my time machine and devote every fucking ounce of energy to make sure this album NEVER happens.

Fuck These 3 Tracks:

  1. Our Song
  2. Leave It
  3. It Can Happen

Why It Sucks (abridged):

  • The Lyrics. The forms of ‘to be’ are not an optional part of the English language. When writing the lyrics for Hearts, Yes decided they knew better. The song verbally assaults my ears and intelligence for what purpose I cannot comprehend. It’s not right. It Can Happen feels lyrically inspiring as the Hokey Pokey. Then the ridiculous and over-the-top corniness of the lyrics in Our Song makes me think it better belongs in the 1978 mother of all movie blunders, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, rather than on any album.
  • Who Do I want to be Today? I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I’m not saying to stay away from Yes completely. Not at all. This unholy alliance of Yes is known as West Yes or as I like to call them Shitty Shit Yes. It’s a complicated story, but basically they moved from the UK to LA as they regrouped with new members and fucked it all up. My biggest problem is these guys don’t know if they want to be a pop band or a progressive rock band on this album and this weird horrific Frankenstein’s monster of a creation makes me contemplate pulling a double Van Gogh and shutting down Lt. Morning permanently. I think my best example of this confusion is Changes which has an Indian inspired instrumental intro lasting a whopping minute and forty seconds. Epic, right? Too bad the rest of the song is 80’s pop ballad as they get. It makes no fucking sense. There are countless instances of bullshit like this.
  • Make It Stop. The keyboards on this album are piled on so thick with 80’s cheesiness that you won’t be shitting for weeks. The same thing with the vocal effects. It feels more like a bad sci-fi movie or an art film project turn disaster as the vocals are layered on top of each other to the point of absurdity while moving back and forth between the left and right channels doing their damnedest to instigate the world’s first case of audio-induced epilepsy. I wish the studio engineer would have bitch slapped them back into reality instead of letting them finish making Leave It.

Why This is a Review and not a Suicide Note: The best track on this album hands-down is the dance remix of Owner of a Lonely Heart. Why? Well somebody had the brains to create a remix that was in fact shorter than the original and cut out the third verse completely. Fucking genius! Of course, the remix wasn’t part of the original release but it’s the only reason I didn’t drive my car head on into a wall to finally end my own personal hell once and for all before the week was up. For that three minutes and thirty-one seconds I had a break before the wretched loop that is 90125 starting all over again.

Anything Else: I know this album is loved by many people. It has tons of 5-star reviews all over the internet. I’m not judging you if you like this album. Oh fuck it. I am. What the shit-fuck is wrong with you people? Did the titty coke break your brains and permanently destroy any sense of good taste you had?

Sorry members of Shitty Shit Yes and producer Trevor Horn. I’m sure you worked very hard on this album. But maybe if you listen to it for a week straight, you’ll see where I’m coming from and understand why I finally reached my breaking point. Hopefully, next week will go much better because I won’t survive another week like this.

Please note this entire review was written purely for comedic purposes.  I don’t actually hate the album that much. I thought this would be more fun to read than another ‘it was okay’ review.

Additional Links:

PS Aaron Lewis still writes way shittier lyrics than anybody.

Week 14 Review

Eminem has never been afraid to share his many struggles with fatherhood in his lyrics so it seems appropriate to review the soundtrack to the 2002 movie, 8 Mile, just right after Father’s Day.       


Artist: Various Artists {Eminem, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, D12, Jay-Z, Xzibit, Macy Gray, Nas, Boomkat, Rakim, Young Zee, Gang Starr}
Album: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile
Year: 2002
Genre: Hip-hop
Rating: 3.95/5

Worth Your Time? It’s not perfect but the who’s who of hip-hop helps hold it up to the height of worth hearing.

Twitter Review: 8 Mile soundtrack reminds you why Eminem rose to super-stardom in 1999 and includes a great collection of artists around him on this album.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Eminem – Rabbit Run
  2. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  3. Gang Starr – Battle, 50 Cent – Wanksta (tie)

Things to Look For:

  • The Real PetermanWhile 8 Mile is not a biographical picture of Marshal Bruce Mathers III, it does share some similarities with Eminem’s life. This creates this blurring between Eminem and the character he played, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., on the songs which Eminem raps. Sometimes he’s rapping as B-Rabbit and other times he’s himself. In one particular line he raps “… it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life” but in reality Phifer plays the character Future, who is based on his best friend, the late Proof. So much like the logic of Seinfeld’s The Muffin Tops episode, Marshal has his Phifer.
  • Who’s Who of Hip-Hop. Jay-Z’s 8 Miles and Runnin’ is entertaining as he picks apart those trying to take advantage of his success by claiming they were there from the start. Nas claims his crown in U Wanna Be Me with great lines such as “Pay me a half a million, I’ll consult your album and show you how to stay off my dick.” This track is actually aimed directly at his fellow trackmate Jay-Z. Rakim spits fierce fire in R.A.K.I.M. and there’s no doubt why Rakim is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential MC of all-time. Rakim was part of the golden era of hip-hop in the 80’s as he released several incredibly important albums with DJ Eric B. In Places To Go, 50 Cent delivers some textbook-perfect, laid-back flow that delighted me every time I heard it. Finally, Gang Starr brings some fantastic turntablism and old school boasting to the soundtrack with Battle. Sadly, Guru, Gang Starr’s MC, died while in a coma after a heart attack in 2010.
  • Eminem. While Eminem’s supporting cast certainly helps with the soundtrack, Eminem absolutely owns this album like he should. Lose Yourself is widely celebrated as one of Eminem’s best songs as it reached #1 on 24 charts worldwide, earned him numerous awards and was placed on many all-time best lists. Many of these awards and lists encompassed all genres instead of being hip-hop specific which really shows just how successful this song was. So why did I put Rabbit Run above it? It has no hook, compelling or otherwise. It has no driving guitar riff. Instead, it has just one long epic and intense delivery by Eminem from the perspective of Rabbit dealing with personal struggles of writing and life. It uses an aggressive back beat that slowly swallows up the listener but unexpectedly and abruptly stops. Then Eminem delivers the final line: “Rabbit, run” leaving the listener with a single haunting bell ring that fades out to end the album. It is without a doubt the best ending of I have ever heard for a soundtrack. And that is why I put it above Lose Yourself.
  • Slow Your Roll. While most of the album is incredibly aggressive to the point where I felt like I wanted to start something and throw down in the hallways of work as I listened to this album on repeat all week, there are two tracks that helped break up all the testosterone being pumped into my veins: Time of My Life by Macy Gray and Wasting My Time by Boomkat. For all you Orange is the New Black fans, one half of Boomkat is Taryn Manning who plays Pennsatucky. She also had a part in 8 Mile as well. Of the two, I prefer Wasting My Time but I think they are both good.

Low Points: Ellway ethay irstfay owlay ointpay isway ettypray easyway.
Itway isway enwhay Eminemway apsray inway igpay atinlay uringday D12’s Ethay Apray Amegay. Itway omescay offway asway ornycay.

The second point is pretty much the entire song, Love Me, which features the chorus of “I just wanna love ya, for the rest of my life I wanna hold you in the mornin, hold you through the night” by a female singer. This is surrounded with insults from the male rappers on the track like “I don’t love you bitch” and being preceded with the line “And all the bitches say…” which all this may have been tolerable if the verses in between weren’t as forgettable as they were. 50 Cent’s in particular is forever lost to time as it loaded with insignificant pop culture references that I don’t think anybody cares about 12 years later.

My final low point features Obie Trice’s Adrenaline Rush where Obie proceeds to rhyme the word muthafucka 10 times in a row. Now you would think that maybe he would have done something clever like rhyme the word before it in each of the lines but nope. So to me it comes off as a lazy 10 lines.

Anything Else: I was absolutely convinced that Eminem had sampled a classic rock song for Lose Yourself. It sounded so familiar. The most likely candidate for me was Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. But no. The song is completely original and samples nothing. In fact after I read a forum post on the analysis of the guitar riff I felt silly for even thinking it. Not the first time I was wrong about a song. And it won’t be the last.

Finally, there’s a sequel to this album: More Music from 8 Mile. Your first thought might be why would I want to listen to a bunch of tracks not good enough to be on the original soundtrack release? The answer is pretty simple. The second album only includes songs from the movie that were released in 1995 which is the year the movie took place in. I thought that was rather clever. I haven’t listened to it yet but it looks like a strong collection with songs from Wu-Tang, B.I.G. and 2Pac included.

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Week 12 Review

In 1994, hip-hop supergroup Gravediggaz created the single most important album for the horrorcore sub-genre. Though not a huge commercial success, 6 Feet Deep is a landmark album of hip-hop history.

Artist: Gravediggaz {Prince Paul aka The Undertaker, Frukwan aka The Gatekeeper, Too Poetic aka The Grym Reaper, RZA aka The Rzarector}
Album: 6 Feet Deep
Year: 1994
Genre: Horrorcore
Rating: 666/5

Worth Your Time? Place it at the top of your Albums to Listen to Before You Die list.

Twitter Review: One of my all-time favorite albums with lyrics and production both achieving levels rarely seen with so much raw talent entombed in 6 Feet Deep.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Diary of a Madman
  2. 1-800-Suicide (video is fanmade)
  3. Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

Things to Look For:

  • From Start to Finish. On both the album and track level this album flows effortlessly as the tide.  The Just When You Thought It Was Over sets up the tone of the album flawlessly with Chopin’s 3rd movement from Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35.  It’s obvious Prince Paul, who produced nearly all of the tracks, put an enormous amount of care into this album.  Gravediggaz was his baby after all.  Even the tracks roll from one to another such that you would swear it was one song despite using different beats. Defective Trip (Trippin’) starts out with Too Poetic and Frukwan getting high and about to start about on their ill-fated drug journeys. The music immediately transitions to a surreal beat until the first verse starts up. Later, 6 Feet Deep starts out with one of the most memorable intros of the album with a excerpt from jam session by the 4 members screwing around on instruments.  RZA, being the genius that he is, turned that tinkering into an entire track. The album ends with Rest in Peace (Outro) summing up the album almost like a 6th grade book report as names and track titles are called out creating a very unique ending.
  • The Grym Reaper.  I know RZA is straight up raw on this album.  I know this. But the majority of memorable lines for me come from Too Poetic. His word play combined with energetic delivery make for some unforgettable moments. Sadly, Anthony Berkeley aka Too Poetic aka The Grym Reaper died on July 15th 2001 from colon cancer. Just given his work on this album alone, his premature death is a tragic loss for the hip-hop community.
  • An Excerpt from the Diary. There is an incredibly eerie female vocalization used as a loop in Diary of a Madman. RNS made this loop which RZA showed to Paul which is how it ended up on the album. What’s crazy is where the haunting vocal comes from: a Johnny Mathis song. Crazy, eh? What’s even crazier is the whole courtroom scene was all thought up and put together by Paul AFTER all the verses were recorded. If that’s not a testament to his god-like production skills, I don’t what is. 
  • It’s the Little Things. As a final testament to Paul’s skillset, he took a verse done by RZA that should have been re-recorded because RZA messed up in his delivery and turned it into this completely natural transition point by adding in a kung-fu movie sample. You really have to listen to this album to appreciate all the little touches going on with the beats. Little things are added and taken away from the beat as the song switches between rappers.

Low Points: Uh. No.

Anything Else: I’m really annoyed of how people reacted this album both before and after it was made.  First, it took them years to even get signed to a deal to make the record because everyone thought it was a gimmick that was just too out there. This album is not a gimmick. Far from it. This is some of the best hip-hop you will ever listen to. It represents the emotion of four men grown tired with the music industry unleashed in an incredibly dark atmosphere. Paul stated in numerous interviews that he was going through depression at that time and that the music reflects that. He even admitted later to crying as he saw other rap groups came out with actual gimmicky horror albums that destroyed everything pure about his intentions. Moreover, I’ve read some initial reviewers describe this album as silly. To me, that’s just a complete insult. That’s like calling the original Nightmare on Elm Street silly when Wes Craven dreamed that movie up to tap into your deepest most basic fears.

Finally, I could spend another 1,000 words explaining how important and influential Prince Paul and RZA have been to hip-hop but I’ll save that for other reviews. For now, just trust me on this or go educate yourself.

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Week 11 Review

Seeing that Blended just opened on the 23rd, I could not have timed this week’s review any better. I’m reviewing the soundtrack to an earlier Sandler/Barrymore romantic comedy: 50 First Dates.       

Album: 50 First Dates: Love Songs from the Original Motion Picture
Year: 2004
Genre: Movie Soundtrack
Rating: 4/5

Worth Your Time? It’s really enjoyable background music.

Twitter Review: Basically, the soundtrack is reggae/ska covers of new wave songs. It sounds like a great idea on a paper and it’s actually executed well too.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix) by Wyclef Jean (original by Outfield)
  2. Drive by Ziggy Marley (original by The Cars)
  3. Hold Me Now by Wayne Wonder (original by The Thompson Twins)

Things Not to Look For (cause they ain’t there):

  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The beautiful, heartwarming, tear-jerking, make you want to hug the person next to you as tight as you can and never let go Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley that plays at the end of the movie is not there. Iz died before his 40th birthday but I don’t think his music will ever be forgotten. He was incredibly respected in Hawaii with 10,000 people attending the funeral and the state flag being flown at half-staff.
  • The Beach Boys. Wouldn’t It Be Nice even though it was heavily featured in the movie including the hilarious cry-a-long by Adam Sandler is sadly not there.
  • Ula. Ula’s Luau Song isn’t even on it! I know you’re as disappointed and frustrated as me about that but they did include Forgetful Lucy at the end to help heal the deep wounds of an Ula-less album.

Low Points: There aren’t really any low points. And it doesn’t have any particular high points either because it is after all just a collection of pop songs from a movie. So I’m not saying the album is a masterpiece or anything despite my above average rating. And it’s not something you would listen to while doing nothing so you can really soak in the masterful attention to the tiniest of details. But maybe you’re cleaning up the kitchen on a Saturday morning or driving to the grocery store, then by all means queue it up on your smartphone and enjoy yourself. I don’t think there’s a bad track on the entire album.

Anything Else: It looks like every cover featured on the soundtrack was specifically created for the movie. So this is the only place you’re going to find these songs. It shows they put some effort into this and didn’t try to grab a bunch of pre-existing covers. I guess part of the reason I’m so impressed with this album is I’ve listened to countless cross genre compilation albums and most of them have been utter crap. It seems to me that the modus operandi is to get one or two good bands and then find a bunch of unknowns that work cheap to fill out the rest of the album and ship it out ASAP to try to make some money off poor suckers like me. I’ve been disappointed so many times. The songs covered were well-chosen and they had quite a few well-known artists participate. I’m ecstatic that I can even write that sentence.

There are a lot of people angry that this soundtrack failed to include The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and I believe they have every right to be mad (there’s some seriously pissed off people on Amazon) because it’s a completely reasonable expectation. But the fact that they actually pulled off a reggae goes new wave album that doesn’t suck more than makes up for it from my perspective.

Additional Links:

Week 10 Review

This week I’m reviewing Punchline’s 2nd album: 37 Everywhere. I discovered this Pennsylvania-based pop punk band after listening to their single Not Afraid on some random emo sampler back in the day. 

Artist: Punchline {Steve Soboslai – vocals, Chris Fafalios – bass guitar, background vocals, Greg Wood – guitar, background vocals, PJ Caruso – drums}
Album: 37 Everywhere
Year: 2006
Genre: Pop Punk
Rating: 4.37/5

Worth Your Time? Of course!

Twitter Review: 37 Everywhere is a solid well-crafted pop punk album with a nice mix of intensely delivered dark topics and uplifting messages throughout.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Exactly
  2. Flashlight
  3. Green Light (the intro for this video is great)

Things to Look For:

  • Wonderful Writing. There’s actually a lot of clever lyrics using a combinations of metaphors and play on words.  I think the darkness described in Flashlight is actually talking about hitting rock bottom with drug addiction.  I believe the entire song is about the frustrations of dealing with a friend or loved one who is a drug addict.  In Don’t Try This At Home, it includes the lyrics “The backseat’s a dream when you’re just 18 but the dreams take a back seat so fast.” I think this perfectly alludes to the difference of your carefree late teen years when your parents are still shielding you from being an actual adult and the stark reality that hits you once you finally are on your own.  I think a lot of people gain a lot of respect for their parents once they become an adult. The entire songs compares growing up to a reality television show. The title even plays on a common TV phrase usually reserved for dangerous stunts by shows like Jackass but instead reserves it for something all of us eventually have to do one day which is learn how to survive on our own.  Caller 10, despite it’s upbeat tone for the majority of the song actually ends on a tragic down note questioning how much of falling in love is left up to fate and how much is our own responsibility.  Exactly covers a fairly introspective topic of the process of losing your energy and ideals of youth as you are absorbed into the compromised world of adults. It’s easy to write a pop punk song about always staying true to yourself and doing what you believe.  It’s a lot harder to capture what happens when that gets applied in the real world and the fallout that follows. Steve Soboslai is definitely a lyricist I respect.
  • Emotional Intensity.  I think the spoken word part found at the end of Exactly shows just how far these guys will go.  But even the background vocals of Green Light and lead singer’s delivery in Wars Will Always Happen convey the intensity that Punchline brings to the game.
  • Hooks, Riffs and Choruses. Punchline is more infectious than a room full of kindergarteners in late October.  It’s pretty hard not to sing and hum along after you listened to the songs a couple times.

Low Points: At 38 minutes, I wish the songs were a little longer or there were more songs but it’s about standard for pop punk albums.  I also noticed some song structures similarities but nothing even remotely close to what Staind does. Their more straight forward relationship songs are probably at the bottom of the list for me but even they still come with an incredibly catchy chorus.

Anything Else: The name of this album comes from some of the band members obsession with seeing the number 37 everywhere on a daily basis. They claim if you look, you will be surprised how much you find it.  Here’s a post of Chris Fafalios explaining it. To go along with seeing a certain number everywhere, I watched Joel Schumacher’s The Number 23 shortly after I bought this album.  It’s worth watching in the same way it’s worth watching Schumacher destroy the Batman franchise: so you can say you survived a Joel trainwreck.

Finally, the album is dedicated to John ‘Beatz’ Holan, Bayside’s drummer who unfortunately died in 2005.  He is mentioned by name in the song They Are Strong Hands which has a pretty intricate plot for a low budget music video.

Additional Links:

Week 9 Review

This week is my biggest experiment yet. I’m going to review the soundtrack for a movie I’ve never actually watched: the highly controversial score to the 2007 film, 300, composed by Tyler Bates.

Composer: Tyler Bates {Timothy Williams, conductor}
Album: 300 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Year: 2007
Genre: Film Score
Rating: 0/5

Worth Your Time? It’s the musical equivalent of waiting in the doctor’s office on a day you accidentally forgot your smartphone at home and you’re stuck reading a tween magazine. In short, no.

Twitter Review: 300 is incredibly boring on so many levels. It has dynamics. It has intensity. It has pretty moments. But what it is missing is purpose.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Fever Dreams
  2. The Hot Gates
  3. To Victory

Things to Look For:

  • Guitars. Seriously. Those are really the only songs I find remotely interesting on the album because it gives the song a weird Sahara Metal feeling.  If you get to the halfway point and haven’t heard a guitar, hit the next button.
  • Female Vocalizations.  Actually, don’t look for them. They will hunt you down and stab you in the back of the neck. They’re incredibly overused throughout the entire album.
  • The parade is in town! It’s probably the instruments used or the rhythms but several times throughout the album I feel like Genie and Prince Ali should make an appearance.

Low Points: It takes more mind power to focus on this album than anything else I’ve ever tried to concentrate on in my life.  If you’re not closing your eyes and blocking out the entire world while listening to it, you aren’t actually listening to it. You’re ignoring it. Your ears’ natural self-preservation will kick in for most of this album and muffle it before your brain has a chance to process it.

Anything Else: I think reviewing a soundtrack for a movie I have not watched was probably a mistake but I was very curious as to how it would turn out.  It’s quite possible my viewpoint could be changed dramatically by watching the film. In the future, I’m going to make sure to watch the movie first if only for my own sanity. I’m NOT going through another week of this. Still have one more thing to talk about though.

Notice that I said this album was highly controversial at the beginning. What in the world could be controversial about a film score? Well apparently Mr. Bates lifted some of his tracks from a celebrated extremely experimental soundtrack that includes mixing and blending of 7 different music genres: Elliot Goldenthal’s Titus which was released 7 year earlier. Bates was of course blasted by the film score community for doing this. He received numerous bad reviews even including the rarely seen but dreaded 0 star review.

For those who want to compare 300 to Titus to see what the fuss is all about for themselves:

Remember Us vs Finale
Returns a King
 vs Victorious

Warner Bros. eventually settled with Elliot Goldenthal and so ends the tragic tale of Tyler Bates. Actually, there are many credits to his name post 300 so I can only assume this didn’t hurt his career much at all.

Seriously considering adding Titus to Project Lt. Morning. It sounds like something worth listening to and reviewing…after watching the movie of course. 🙂

Finally, for tomorrow:

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Including my forever awesome mom who is a gigantic reason why I am the person I am today and can rest assured my childhood is a flood of happy memories that I will never forget. All of her efforts were not in vain.  Man, do I miss her cooking.  You’ve haven’t had Thanksgiving until you’ve had my mom’s cooking.  And to my mother-in-law for being so incredibly helpful, caring and generous to me over the years. Also, thank you for giving birth to the center of my universe.

Additional Links:

Week 8 Review

This week I’m reviewing Dr. Dre’s 2001. It is a triumphant return to rap and annihilates any question if Dre still had it in him since releasing The Chronic seven years earlier in 1992.  

Artist: Dr. Dre (also featuring Xzibit, Devin the Dude, Snoop Dogg, Hittman, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, Six-Two, Eminem, Ms. Roq, Knoc-Turn’al, Mary J. Blige)
Album: 2001
Year: 1999
Genre: Gangsta Rap
Rating: 5/5

Worth Your Time? Absolutely. Even if you don’t like rap, you should still give it a listen. It is a classic.

Twitter Review: Production and lyrics are unparalleled and refreshing. It is from a bygone era before materialism took center stage in the rap scene.

Please note that any links below should be considered NSFW. Expect strong language and sexual situations to be contained in all of these songs.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. What’s the Difference
  2. Still D.R.E.
  3. Forget About Dre
  4. Bang Bang
  5. The Watcher

Things to Look For:

  • Guest Stars. Eddie Griffin is hilarious as the drunk bartender in Bar One and in his Ed-Ucation speech. While Ed-Ucation is done in a sobering matter, I don’t think you can take it any other way than a joke. Next, Jake Steed, a retired 90’s adult film star who may be currently hiding in South America from US law enforcement after skipping out on his trial date and may be central to finding the location of the jetpack is GTA V, makes an appearance on Pause 4 Porno. Finally, Tommy Chong makes a surprise appearance at the end of the album as part of a hidden track, Outro, where he tries to obtain illegal prescriptions from Dr. Dre. Including one of the most prolific potheads in a sequel to The Chronic was hysterical to say the least.
  • Those Big Beautiful Beats. Dr. Dre is actually better known for his producing than rapping. His ability for beat creation is legendary as he is known by many as the father of G-Funk which influenced just about any rap artist that came after him on some level. To give you an idea of his dedication to production, Dre will actually have in-house musicians play the music he wishes to sample from rather than taking the original material so he has more control over it to get it just the way he wants it. Another example of the care and dedication he puts into his work is Big Ego’s intro which starts with a conversation with air traffic control to request to land at LAX. It sets up a dramatic movie atmosphere for the rest of the song without even showing a single picture. I’ve hummed along and bobbed my head to so many songs on this album. I am in awe of his ability to turn some sparse notes and a bassline into a prolific influential genre-defining sound with widespread mass appeal. Plinking on a piano has never sounded so good.
  • M&M. While there are many incredible well delivered lyrics on this album and I probably have about 30 instances where a perfectly executed verse of clever word play will make me smile every time, the young Eminem really stands out from everybody. I look forward to his parts anytime I listen to this album.
  • Nods. Several times throughout 2001, there are some subtle and not so subtle references to Dr. Dre’s previous release, The Chronic and NWA’s Straight Outta Compton of which he was a member of NWA. It’s quite fun when you happen to catch one.

Low Points: I know some people are probably going to not like me for saying this but I think The Message is the weakest song on the album. The song is about about Dre’s deceased brother Tyree which makes it sacrosanct for a lot of poeple. I wish that this song had an emotional impact on me like so many other songs related to the passing of a loved one but it unfortunately didn’t. At times the lyrics felt too cliche and generic for me to make that connection. And I think I know why. The only writing credit for this song is Royce Da 5’9″ who is part of rap supergroup Slaughterhouse and one half of Bad Meets Evil with Eminem filling out the other half. My guess is if it had been Dre who wrote it rather than Royce, the emotional intensity that I was seeking would have been overflowing on this track.

Anything Else: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit and pretty much anybody who has rapped on this album, I would like to introduce you to a person that I think you need to meet: Miss Ogyny. Miss Ogyny, may I present the current membership of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. The one interesting rapper on this album in regards to the topic of misogyny is Ms. Roc who completely turns the tables on the men during her verses at the end of Let’s Get High. Only rich well endowed men are of any use to her though manual stimulation is sometimes prefered as it is less cumbersome than dealing with otherwise worthless men. In addition, she forces men to perform oral sex on her rather than the other way around. Notice, I just said this was interesting. I don’t think the inclusion of Ms. Roc’s performance somehow undoes everything said by the other performers on the rest of the album.

The lyrics throughout this album are incredibly misogynistic. Women are consistently valued only for performing sexual acts and I use the term valued loosely since I’m not even sure the lyrics indicate any appreciation for those. If an alien had heard only this album and came to Earth, they would think women existed solely for the purpose of providing oral sex and annoying men with their feelings. I don’t think men should view women like that. Any man who has those views is despicable and is doing nothing but holding back our society from progressing to a more equal environment. I view my wife as my partner in our marriage. We work as a team and there isn’t anything she can’t do if she puts her mind to it. I look at my female family members, friends, co-workers and personal heroes and can only come to the conclusion that you are insane if you think men are somehow superior to women.

So how can I disagree with the lyrics so much and still enthusiastically tell you to listen to this album? Well, I don’t believe in censoring art in any way. I tend to compartmentalize art appreciation and social views. I’d rather have some negative views out there than telling somebody that they cannot say something simply because I don’t agree with it. Mostly because putting anybody in charge of deciding what can and can’t be said is far too much power for any person or group of people. Next, there are numerous instances of rappers that are playing characters rather than playing themselves when they rap. The horrorcore rap sub-genre is a prime example of that. I’d be willing to bet that there isn’t a single practicing Satanist in the entire genre. Just because you rap about the devil, demons and death on your albums doesn’t mean you are wearing black robes in your basement with lit red candles everywhere as you try to summon the prince of darkness in your free time. Finally, Dr. Dre didn’t create the misogynistic attitude we see so often in society. He’s just reflecting it back to us. You want to break that mirror? Start treating women the way they should be. Set an example to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers that women deserve to be treated equally by actually treating them equally. Try to be conscious of it so you can be aware of when you make a mistake. Then you can do better next time.

If you really want to see how big of a problem this issue is, please take the time to regularly visit The Everyday Sexism Project. Some of this stuff sounds like it should have happened in the 1950’s instead of yesterday. I get so incredibly sad and angry when I visit this site. I also encourage both sexes to visit. There are numerous posts of women inflicting other women with these horrible sexist attitudes. I think we all can do better on some level by taking some time for real self-reflection and introspection.

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Week 7 Review

8 years prior to E. L. James’s unleashing the erotic juggernaut Fifty Shades of Grey that sold 100+ million copies, Staind showed up at #1 on charts with this week’s review: 14 Shades of Grey.  

Artist: Staind {Aaron Lewis (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike Mushok (lead guitar), Johnny April (bass guitar), Jon Wysocki (drums)}
Album: 14 Shades of Grey
Year: 2003
Genre: Post-Grunge
Rating: 1/5

Worth Your Time? You’re better off experimenting with how to get your fist inside of your mouth. (Like this young lady or this young lady.)

Twitter Review: This album really needs to be renamed 14 Small Variations of a Shade of Grey. Who knew you could rewrite the same song 13 times and sell it?

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Zoe Jane
  2. Layne
  3. Fill Me Up

Things to Look For:

  • Pete and Repeat Were in a Boat. The similarity in the structure of all the songs is unbelievable. It’s basically Aaron with unprocessed usually overly vague vocals followed by a wall of sound and Aaron’s usually even more vague vocals layered many times over so he can even beging to compete with the wall behind him. This repeats a couple times then the next song starts.
  • Pete Fell Out. I cannot believe how they used the same approach over and over again throughout this album. Essentially, Aaron does a verse with his voice unaltered and reasonable instrumentation followed by a heavily processed chorus with many layers of Aaron’s voice and this insane wall of sound. To add insult to injury, most song lyrics are so unclear that you barely care what the song was about.
  • Who’s Left? My mind cannot even begin to process how Staind could release an album that is packed with such similar sounding songs. It’s just 14 variations of Aaron switching back and forth between singing vague lyrics with his vocals unaltered intermingled with this ear fatigue inducing wall of sound that can only be taken on by processing Aaron’s vocals with layering beyond any reasonable amount.

High Points: There are far too many low points to discuss so I think it might be more interesting to talk about the high points instead. I listened to this album one final time before I started to write the review because I had such a hard time picking out individual songs. As I took notes on the tracks, my original score kept dropping and dropping until it got to one. I honestly considered giving it a zero out of five but there are some redeeming songs on here that let me put aside everything wrong with this album for a moment.

Let’s start of with Zoe Jane. This song is about Aaron’s relationship with his young daughter and probably his strongest song lyrically. (which really isn’t saying much unfortunately) I think it accurately captures that incredibly deep emotional bond that is created between a parent and child. It covers: unconditional love, the connection you get just by looking into your child’s eyes and having them look back at you, the need to want to shelter them from everything cruel in this world that you’ve experienced while trying to open their eyes to everything amazing around them and finally becoming so emotionally overwhelmed to the point of tears because you cannot always be there for them no matter how much you want to be.

The other song we need to discuss is Layne. It is actually a tribute to one of the gods of grunge: Layne Staley, the lead singer of Alice in Chains, who died alone of drug overdose in 2002 after years of dealing with depression and drug addiction. Tragically, his body was not discovered until two weeks after he died. He was only 34 and his death had immediate impact on the music scene which inspired many, including Aaron Lewis, to pay their respects to a man who had so much musical influence on their life. One notable aspect of this song is the beginning which opens up with Aaron vocalizing which reminded me of the Alice in Chain’s grunge classic Man in the Box.

Anything Else: So my wife and I do not have any children. We do not want children. We are never going to have children. So why did I connect so much with Zoe Jane on this album without being a parent myself? It’s actually a pretty simple answer: my friends. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by couples who are absolutely amazing parents. I’ve seen the most serious and reserved of my friends turn into the biggest goofballs just to get an extra smile or laugh from their child. It’s almost like in that moment the whole world around them disappears. To me, that speaks volumes of how intense the parent/child relationship is. The amount of effort and sacrifice my friends put into being parents is awe inspiring quite honestly. I’m happy I get to witness all of these beautiful little moments between them and their children. If you’re looking for examples of what awesome parents do, I would highly suggest checking out JAKE’s Place which is run by a friend and awesome parent, [J].

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Week 6 Review

This week I’m reviewing a recent album from 3 guys who started a band 13 years before I was born. I am of course talking about the return of Black Sabbath to the recording studio with their album 13.  

Artist: Black Sabbath {Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer butler (bass guitar), Brad Wilk instead of Bill Ward (drums)}
Album: 13
Year: 2013
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 3.9/5

Worth Your Time? Especially if you’re behind on your monthly headbangs.

Twitter Review: Having been fed a healthy diet of nu-metal through all of college, listening to the band that inspired all of them was incredibly refreshing.

Top 3 Tracks: 

  1. Zeitgeist (if you watch only one video watch this one)
  2. Age of Reason
  3. God Is Dead

Things to Look For:

  • Geezer’s Lyrics. I don’t know what to say other than it felt like Ozzie was singing Sabbath songs just for me. I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual/intellectual self-examination lately so this album really resonated with me. I loved and appreciated Geezer Butler’s word play on this album so much.
  • Rocking out with the boys of Black. I had so much fun listening to 13.  It’s pretty hard to listen and not catch yourself doing some at least light headbanging as Black Sabbath rocks out. It reminds a lot of the joy I get from cranking AC/DC’s Back In Black or Nirvana’s Nevermind album in my car on the way to work in the morning.
  • Iommi’s Solos and Riffs. While they may not be his best work as he is one of the greatest of all-time with an incredible back catalog that would make a 16-year-old schoolgirl blush, I still enjoyed them immensely. Iommi kicks more ass in his mid 60’s than you ever did or ever will. That’s just a fact of life.

Low Points: Pretty positive review so far, right? So is there anything negative to say about this album? You betcha. The stuff I’m going to talk about didn’t necessarily limit enjoyment of the album but makes me wonder if this album could have been better. I wish there could have been a little less jamming on the songs and instead they had been tightened up some more. The majority of songs clock in over 7 minutes so it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the rhythms of rock and not be totally sure which song you are currently listening to unfortunately. Actually, if you’re not paying attention, you probably won’t even catch the start of the next song.  Part of the reason I think Zeitgeist was my top song was because it was so musically different from the other 7.

Anything Else: I often wondered if you’re old enough to have an AARP card, do you need to turn in your ROCK card?  While this may be true for some bands that held on to their cards to the point of being ridiculous, I think Black Sabbath showed me that they can still remain relevant even in 2013.

Finally and most importantly, anybody else think it’s weird that Brad Wilk (the drummer) and Bill Ward (the drummer he replaced) are one letter away from being anagrams of each other and that letter difference is K and L which are right next to each other in the alphabet? Seriously. That’s pretty random. About as random as my Facebook News Feed:

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