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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- The End Is Near

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7/10

Well, let me tell you about me and Five Iron Frenzy. Nah, I'll save that for last. Let me review their "final" studio album, The End Is Near, first. The End Is Near is, sadly, an album in need of an identity.
Five Iron Frenzy achieved musical perfection on their previous album, Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo, packing their songs with pain and joy and awe, while discovering how to employ their humor without destroying the flow of an album. They also found time to work in protests against various things they stood against, but these songs were personal and kept consistency with the rest of the album, These songs did this by continuing the developing band ideal of the weak versus the strong with Christ as the weak's champion. The best possible album to follow Electric Boogaloo would have furthered those themes, and indeed, The End Is Near's best songs do.
"Cannonball" isn't Five Iron's strongest opener, but its triumphant tone is welcomed. "At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys" and "Wizard Needs Food, Badly" show that the band could have mined humor out of the foibles of aging for a very long time. "New Years Eve" pushes the emotions of Electric Boogaloo to a new level.

"It's New Years Eve and I feel my insecurities, are haunting me like ghosts, this sinking quicksand. And then with thunderous praise and lofty adoration, a second passes by, yet nothing changes. I hate my skin, this grave I'm standing in. Another change of years, and I wish I wasn't here." The song deals with extremely difficult and very real emotions, yet still believably ends on a hopeful note. This is Five Iron Frenzy at its best. "It Was Beautiful" is a thankful celebration of the joys of being in Five Iron Frenzy. This is just what you want to hear from a band you enjoy, as they ride into the sunset. "Something Like Laughter" is a fitting ending to Five Iron's female protagonist songs like "One Girl Army" and "A New Hope." The first 3/4 of closer "On Distant Shores" is appropriately epic. With all these positives, this could really be a great album, but there are some black marks that make it merely pretty good.
The first is something I'm sure the French have a word for. Let's just call it over-humility. "So Far, So Bad," "See the Flames Begin to Crawl," and "That's How the Story Ends" all argue Five Iron Frenzy's existence as meaningless. On an Ecclesiastical level, this is true. But I paid for this album. Don't make me feel stupid for liking you. When Reese sings "Ten years from now, you won't know my name," he is short-changing his fans' tastes, let alone their memories.
Another problem I have with The End is Near are the protest songs. "American Kryptonite" makes some good points, but its screamed "Buy, take, break, throw it away!" bridge sounds like something a college freshman would write after reading "Das Kapital" for the first time. "Anchors Away" is equally over-dramatic. These songs see the band moving from "the weak will be made strong" to a less sophisticated and equally less enjoyable "you all suck." As this album was supposed to be Five Iron Frenzy's last statement, it would have been nice for them to go out on a less cynical, angry note.
Speaking of going out, "On Distant Shores" builds up as a great finish to the album before suddenly shifting into the band's 1997 song "Every New Day." I get that the writing of "Every New Day" was a huge emotional moment for the band, so much so that they ended every single show with it afterward. But The End Is Near is already an album in search of an identity, and ending it with an old song robs it of a unique personality even more so.
So while The End is Near's pros do outweigh its cons, Five Iron Frenzy's first break up album is a low point in the band's career. I'm excited that we'll soon be getting a new album, and I hope this one showcases a band energized and happy to be making music again.
***
And now a story about me and Five Iron. Five Iron and me, if you grammaticists will. I hope "grammaticist" is a real word because spellcheck doesn't recognize it. It also doesn't recognize "spellcheck."
The first time I saw Five Iron Frenzy live was Cornerstone, 2002. What a great Cornerstone. It's the only one I've been to, so I don't have any other point of reference, but man was it great. Five Iron put on an extremely enjoyable show. Reese wore a "Fat Elvis" costume with the butt as the crotch. I took a picture.
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I met Reese at Five Iron Frenzy's merch booth, while I was buying an awesome t-shirt I still have. Reese was funny and kind. He always made it a point not to sign autographs, but was very polite in his explanation to those he denied, never making the fan feel stupid. The merch guy had an awesome old school SEGA hat, and a buddy of mine bought it from him for $5. Half the time you'd spend at Cornerstone was occupied by randomly running into people whose music you enjoyed. It could get awkward after a while. Speaking of, I randomly ran into Jeff the girl and took a picture with her, and the Rabbit awesomely photo-bombed it.
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This was taken with one of those awesome early 00's disposable camera's that came with a "landscape" option. Back when things were cool and stuff.
The next spring, Five Iron Frenzy announced that they were breaking up. They planned one final fall tour, titled "Winners Never Quit" with Bleach and Holland as support. David Loti and I ventured to Houston with a much younger friend of mine, Shawn. Shawn you made the Nicsperiment, and I am about to make you look good.
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Five Iron's show was pretty fun, but maybe not as much fun as the one from the year before. This was mainly because Reese only chose to wear Elvis' little known "outback safari" hat, instead of one of his more well-known wardrobe innovations.
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The three of us were staying at Dave's sister's house that night, so we weren't in any rush to leave. Not that we didn't want to hang with Dave's sister, but we didn't have any pressing issues to attend to. After the show, I ran into Five Iron's trombonist/backup-vocalist, Dennis Culp. I asked him about the future of Five Iron's side-band, Brave Saint Saturn. Dennis, you need to give me like $5 or something because you were mean to me. After Dennis told me that Brave Saint Saturn was probably never going to tour, I said, "That's fine. As long as you guys keep making music, I'll be okay." What I was saying was, "I don't care if you tour. I live in a swamp and no one comes to play shows there anyway. If you keep recording albums, though, I'll probably buy them." For some reason, maybe because I look far younger than my age, maybe because Dennis was burnt out on life, or maybe who knows, Dennis took my comment as, "My life completely depends on your music. I need it more than food, water, and sleep. If you do not release more music, I will kill myself, maybe now."
"You know what?" Dennis answered. "Find another band to listen to. We suck. You need to move on and find some other bands to listen to." My brain froze over in sudden rage. What I wanted to say was, "I'm a DJ, dude. All I do is listen to other bands. I'm in my 20's and well-adjusted, and I am about to kick you square in the nuts." Unfortunately, the moat of Five Iron Frenzy scene kids standing around Dennis immediately chimed in with, "Yeah, Brave Saint Saturn is terrible. Listen to -X- band instead." They didn't really say "-X- band," though. These kids just started spurting out a bunch of names of bands that middle and high school-ers liked at the time, and suddenly, their numbers seemed to grow and swell until I couldn't even see Dennis anymore to retort, and then I was walking out of the auditorium dejectedly.
I found Dave in the lobby, having a pleasant and animated conversation with the members of Bleach. We had talked spoken their guitarist, Sam, for quite a while before the show, and found we had a lot in common with the him. I joined Dave's current conversation, and it was going great until Dave from Bleach asked Dave from David Loti if Dave from David Loti liked coffee. The obvious implication was, "Dude, you guys are cool. They're about to shut this place down. Do y'all want to go talk someplace else?" David Loti's response: "I don't like coffee."
I was too shell-shocked from my previous encounter to offer conversational assistance in such an extreme situation. Dave from Bleach made a disappointed face and the band told us to have a good night. I immediately explained to Dave what other Dave meant. I bring this story up in every single conversation Dave and I have to this day. Both of us sat dispiritedly on the two-hour ride home to his sister's apartment five miles away. Two hours because of a chemical spill. Awesome. Meanwhile, Shawn smiled happily from the backseat because Shawn got both these girls' phone-numbers after a night of sweaty dancing.
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Shawn wins.

2003 Self-Released/Five Minute Walk
1. Cannonball 3:44
2. At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys 2:09
3. So Far, So Bad 3:03
4. New Years Eve 3:53
5. American Kryptonite 3:15
6. It Was Beautiful 2:47
7. Wizard Needs Food, Badly 3:12
8. Farewell To Arms 4:03
9. See The Flames Begin To Crawl 3:16
10. Anchors Away 3:32
11. Something Like Laughter 3:13
12. That's How The Story Ends 3:38
13. On Distant Shores 10:15
14. Hidden Track 6:31

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Cheeses...

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5/10

Either you are a Five Iron Frenzy fan, or you are not. If you are, you will be interested to hear the early demo's and alternate versions of songs which occupy the first half of Cheeses... . You'll also enjoy the second half of the album, which makes up the majority of the track-list and is entirely composed of recordings showcasing Five Iron Frenzy's offbeat humor. You'll probably listen to this a couple of times and chuckle to yourself. That crazy Five Iron Frenzy.
If you don't like Five Iron Frenzy, you won't enjoy either half.
Hang on, is it hot in here?


2003 Five Minute Walk/EMI
1. Kamikaze 2:56
2. Rhubarb Pie (Original lyrics of the song Ugly Day) 3:36
3. Marty 4:14
4. Fistful of Sand (live) 4:10
5. Four Kids in Memphis 0:33
6. Mind for Treason 2:18
7. Cool Enough for You (demo version) 3:41
8. 3rd World Think Tank (demo version) 3:35
9. Old West (demo version) 2:52
10. Burn 3:34
11. Left 3:40
12. Never Ask Us to Play This 0:35
13. Dog Food 2:07
14. When I See Her Face 0:55
15. Abraham Lincoln Beard (First Movement) 0:23
16. Praise the Lord 1:25
17. Give Me Back My Sandwich 0:04
18. Omnivores for Mediocrity 0:44
19. That Tastes Horrible 0:27
20. No Grandma = Know Grandma 0:12
21. Stinky Hippy 0:29
22. Abraham Lincoln Beard (Second Movement) 0:22
23. It's So Hot (I'm Gonna Have a Heat Stroke) 1:18
24. Thea and the Singing Telegram 2:42
25. How's About Some Milk? 0:15
26. Donkey Basketball 0:07
27. Screams in the Night 1:49
28. Pootermobile 0:07
29. Abraham Lincoln Beard (Third Movement) 0:22
30. Mayonnaise Taco Monday 0:32
31. Chew Water 1:07
32. Metal Rules! 1:41
33. Five Iron Is Stupid 2:38
34. Reese doing vocal warmups (hidden track) 0:29

Monday, January 28, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo

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10/10

Five Iron Frenzy had to do three things to make a great album.
1. Relegate the joke songs to early in the album.
2. Turn their horn section into something essential, as opposed to a gimmick of genre.
3. Write a bunch of great songs that fit well with one another.
In late 2001, six years after their formation in Denver, Colorado, Five Iron Frenzy did put these three factors together. Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo, despite featuring the most ridiculous title of any of Five Iron Frenzy's work, is by far their greatest album. The title isn't without significance, though--the "2" is important: it signifies a musical rebirth for the band, just as much as me putting a dash and a colon in the same sentence signifies that I need an editor.
The album kicks off with the fast and funny "Pre-Ex-Girlfriend" before immediately segueing into the more serious "Far, Far Away." This stark, emotional look at the life of Christ showcases Five Iron's new, far improved sound. The horns serve and bolster the song, build up the chorus. This isn't anything close to ska music anymore. This is a rock album. "You Can't Handle This" follows, and is one of the funniest songs the band have written, but it's the last "joke" song of Electric Boogaloo, and it contains tiny seeds of underlying sadness that underscore the vibrant emotions of the rest of the album.
What immediately follows is the best one-two combo Five Iron Frenzy ever recorded. "Farsighted" is a joy-soaked, adrenaline-rush of a dedication to dreamers. The band end "Farsighted"  with beautiful sounds of guitar distortion and horn-tuning before ripping into "Spartan."
Spartan by Five Iron Frenzy on Grooveshark
When Reese Roper opens "Spartan" with the line, "Billie Holiday on the radio" you know you are in for a great song. "Limping through the world, there’s a knowing look or two/ Is it just the cripples here who understand the truth?/ Why is love so painful? Why do we always lose? Paving pathways for the lost, the bitter, and recluse?/ He said “Love endures all things,” and it hurts to think it’s true/ did it nail Him on a cross/ did it crucify Him too?" Earlier in the song, Roper sings the same verse ending refrain, except with the lyrics, "He said “Love endures all things," and it hurts to think He’s right/ If I mark the span of failure/ is his burden just as light?" Listening to this bittersweet song and actually paying attention to the lyrics, it's pretty difficult to not sob uncontrollably.  Roper is on fire lyrically throughout Electric Boogaloo. Man, that just doesn't sound right.
Five Iron Frenzy have always supported the plight of Native American's, and all that culminates with "The Day We Killed," the angriest thing Five Iron Frenzy have put to tape. "Juggernaut" continues the bands celebration of the weak, juxtaposed with "Plan B," in which Roper sardonically comments on his own lamentable laziness. "Blue Mix" again attacks those who would take advantage of the lesser (in this case in the music industry).  "Vultures" targets corporatism and crass commercialism, hoping for a revolution. "Car" laments the death of a loved one but charges ahead on hope to "Eulogy," the album's heartbreaking conclusion. "Eulogy" deftly mixes Electric Boogaloo's blend of hope and sadness to maximum effect.
"The murky sea is black/ dismal and so deep/ millstones rocket through the dark/ into its icy keep/ A resting place for broken ships/ a cemetery for the humble/ no one’s here to make you stumble/ If Jesus Christ is true/ then I am mostly lies/ if Jesus Christ is Love/ then I have failed to try/ if Jesus Christ is Life/ then please just let me die/ let...this...die..." Jeez, if you weren't crying yet...

You can get away with this darker stuff if you temper your album with enough joy, and Five Iron Frenzy certainly do on Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo. Even after "Eulogy"'s final plea, the song and album still end on a hopeful chord. And based on the album title alone, it's clear that Five Iron Frenzy still don't think too highly of themselves, even if their music has taken a deeper tone. I would have taken another dozen albums like this.

NOTE: I have a hard time separating this album from January of 2002, sitting in my car on Highland Road. I had moved to an off campus apartment the previous summer, after nineteen years in the same home with my family. Finally feeling adjusted to life in the city on my own, I jammed to this and plenty of other great albums that spring, and I will always have positive feelings for the music I was listening to during that semester. I don't think that has a bearing on the score I gave this album, but I figured I should mention it.

2001 Five Minute Walk/EMI
1. Pre-Ex-Girlfriend 2:53
2. Far, Far Away 3:30
3. You Can't Handle This 3:53
4. Farsighted 3:34
5. Spartan 2:49
6. The Day We Killed 3:25
7. Juggernaut 3:33
8. Plan B 2:31
9. Blue Mix 3:04
10. Vultures 3:03
11. Car 3:16
12. Eulogy 3:50

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Proof that the Youth Are Revolting

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8/10

Just as high energy and goofy as you'd expect a Five Iron Frenzy live album to be, but they nail most of the serious parts, too. Ska always worked more in a live setting than a recorded one. I can't prove that's true, but everybody else says definitive statements they can't back up objectively, so why can't I? Anyway, the band shows of their humility (I'm not trying to be ironic, I just don't know how else to start that sentence) by including seven minutes of live screw-ups edited out of the album. Beside hilarity, this final chunk of Proof that the Youth Are Revolting also offers further connection to Five Iron fans, deepening the bonds that would cement the band as a cult phenomenon that simply will not die.


1999 Five Minute Walk/Warner Bros. Records
1. Introduction 0:54
2. One Girl Army 3:38
3. Oh, Canada 3:02
4. A Flowery Song 4:10
5. Handbook For the Sellout 4:05
6. Receive Him 0:20
7. All That Is Good 3:21
8. Dandelions 3:20
9. Suckerpunch 4:04
10. It's Not Unusual 2:12
11. Anthem 3:27
12. New Hope 3:45
13. Arnold, Willis & Mr. Drummond 2:30
14. Ugly Day 4:39
15. Where Zero Meets 15 4:48
16. Superpowers 3:46
17. Blue Comb '78 4:02
18. Every New Day (Includes seven minutes of outtakes and bloopers after several minutes of silence) 15:35

Oh Dear Goodness

I can't stop listening to this Major Scaled Version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters." I have busted a gut so many times at the guitar solo hitting that I'm...out of gut-tape or something. Crap, that metaphor totally failed.

Major Scaled #1 : Metallica - "Nothing Else Majeur" from major scaled on Vimeo.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's My Perogative

Okay, you really gotta check out that Polyenso album I was pushing earlier this week. It is the rare album that is both universal and awesome. Usually, when a band tries to please everyone, they end up just alienating everyone. Polyenso have somehow made an album anyone can enjoy, except for people who really, really hate trumpets because there is a lot of that here. Please, for your own good and well-being, check out the free stream of Polyenso's One Big Particular Loop. I'm serious. I'm worried about you.
You can hear the whole thing below. I won't be able to sleep until you listen to it.

Oh, No! I Have Made a Grave Chronological Five Iron Frenzyological Error!

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How could I make such a large mistake? 2000 does not come before 1999! I, of all people, should know this. Yesterday, I was supposed to post my review for Five Iron Frenzy's 1999 release, Proof That the Youth Are Revolting, but instead posted my review for 2000's All the Hype That Money Can Buy. Will the Internet ever recover?
That's extremely doubtful, but in a weak attempt to remedy the situation, I will post the Proof That the Youth Are Revolting review tomorrow, then get back on track Monday with my review of 2001's Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo.
I hope that everyone can regain some semblance of hope after the visage of this horrible disaster has finally faded. I am deeply sorry for the trouble that I have caused.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- All the Hype That Money Can Buy

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8/10

All the Hype That Money Can Buy features some of Five Iron Frenzy's best songwriting yet. It also features a whole bunch of other stuff. The more serious songs feature more emotion than ever. Reese Roper obviously went through some serious pain to pen the incredible bridge to album opener, "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
The Greatest Story Ever Told by Five Iron Frenzy on Grooveshark
Likewise, the melody and songwriting of  track nine, "Hurricanes," has to put Five Iron Frenzy into the pantheon of great Christian bands. Five Iron was braced to breakout on the national scene with this album. The fact that Roper clung so tightly to his faith, when singing about literally anything else would have skyrocketed the band's popularity, is extremely commendable--(Dashes-"When you want to make your sentence even longer!")it is also what makes the best songs on this album so good--Roper's passion. I'm not even sure if more dashes made that sentence work. I just feel like dashes today. And nitpicking.
After the outcry of "Hurricanes," the anti-corporate "Giants" should act as the penultimate moment of the album. The band is down, and now it's time to pick this train up and head toward the promised land. Five Iron were kind enough to craft TWO upliftinh album closers in the excellent "A New Hope" and "World Without End." The problem is that "Giants" is not immediately followed by these songs. It is immediately followed by the joke song, "I Still Like Larry," then the should have come earlier title-track, and then a completely superfluous and goofy cover of Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" (Though Roper really sounds like he means it when he songs, "I want to die."). I'm not saying that Five Iron Frenzy should have forsaken their humorous roots for this album. "The Phantom Mullet" and "You Probably Shouldn't Move Here" are both hilarious, and are irreplaceable in their earlier album slots. I'm just saying, there's a clear time to joke, and a clear time to cut it out and just be awesome, and Five Iron miss their chance to do the latter in the final stretch of All the Hype That Money Can Buy. A more concise version of All the Hype could have simply cut "I Still Like Larry" and "It's Not Unusual" and placed the title track after "You Probably Shouldn't Move Here." "A New Hope" and "World Without End" would still end the album, but are now directly after "Giants." I think this thirteen track album would have been considered one of Five Iron's best.
As it is, the divisive All the Hype Money Can Buy is full of enough great songs to qualify as a must listen, but too overstuffed and badly paced to be considered a classic. Just like this review.

2000 Five Minute Walk/SaraBellum
1. The Greatest Story Ever Told 3:19
2. Me Oh My 2:16
3. Solidarity 3:31
4. The Phantom Mullet 2:59
5. Ugly Day 3:36
6. Fahrenheit 3:35
7. Four-Fifty-One 3:04
8. You Probably Shouldn't Move Here 2:30
9. Hurricanes 3:47
10. Giants y 4:13
11. I Still Like Larry 0:31
12. All the Hype 3:04
13. It's Not Unusual 2:21
14. A New Hope 2:38
15. World Without End 3:45

Polyenso Out!

That Polyenso album I've been pushing for the past two years is finally out. It is at once experimental and relaxed, and it is a perfect listen for you on this beautiful morning. Check it out below, and if you like it, BUY IT!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Quantity Is Job 1 EP

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8/10

Quantity Is Job 1 shows Five Iron Frenzy treading deeper emotional waters while also not being afraid to hop back into the kiddie pool to make...bubbles. Reese Roper's voice has undergone a very subtle change for this EP. Whether through personal heartache, or the simple trials of growing older, a faint quiver of additional emotion has infiltrated Roper's vocal chords.
Roughly half of Quantity Is Job One's run-time is devoted to serious matters, but even the band's cover of ELO's "Sweet Talkin' Woman" contains a hint of sadness. Maybe the band have fully grown into its "voice of the oppressed" mantle. "All That Is Good" tackles perfectionism, "Dandelions" praises the God of those with little to give, and "One Girl Army" speaks for itself. "Get Your Riot Gear" takes on the Denver PD (and always gives me an image of FIF trying to fight the police and getting billy-clubbed into saying "Uncle"), and even "The Untimely Death of Brad" makes Internet rumor into a frightening all-consuming beast Five Iron Frenzy must confront. Then the band begin a bizarre eight-part meditation on the ownership of a pair of pants.
The "These Are Not My Pants" rock opera is the best kind of ridiculousness, and somehow complements everything that came before it, furthering the familiar feeling that one is actually hanging out with Five Iron Frenzy. By the time the bleeped, fake-profanity of the Hip-Hop portion of "These Are Not My Pants" brings the suite to a close, the listener isn't ready to say goodbye. And that's just fine. Have you heard about a kingdom ruled exclusively by dinosaurs? Because if you stick around until the end of Quantity is Job 1, you will, at an impressive volume.
I really feel like the Quantity is Job 1 EP marks the moment that Five Iron Frenzy branded themselves on fan's hearts. I enjoyed Our Newest Album Ever!, but after Quantity is Job 1, I knew I wasn't going anywhere.


1998 Five Minute Walk
1. My Evil Plan to Save the World 3:26
2. All That Is Good 3:23
3. Dandelions 3:18
4. One Girl Army 3:05
5. Sweet Talkin' Woman 3:18 (ELO cover)
6. When I Go Out 0:10
7. Get Your Riot Gear 3:45
8. The Untimely Death of Brad 4:20
9. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Salsa) 0:34
10. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Meat Loaf) 0:55
11. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Country) 0:46
12. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Heavy Metal) 0:49
13. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (R&B) 0:54
14. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Reggae) 0:43
15. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Cha Cha) 0:50
16. These Are Not My Pants (The Rock Opera) (Hip Hop) 1:17
17. When I Go Out/Kingdom of the Dinosaurs 8:57

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How To Make a Delicious Chocolate Milkshake


Finally a video with clear, easy to follow steps.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Our Newest Album Ever!

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8/10

Well, here is the recording that introduced me, and I am willing to bet, your average listener, to Five Iron Frenzy. The band quickly followed up their debut, Upbeats and Beatdowns, with an album that is better in every way. Our Newest Album Ever! features better songwriting, more diverse performances, and  production that is leagues improved. Despite the relative ephemerality of ska, horns are a timeless instrument, and this album is just as fun today as it was fifteen years ago. While Our Newest Album Ever! does contain a levity of emotion only a young band can posses, Five Iron Frenzy continue to further the lyrical themes found on their first album. The injustice suffered Native Americans, the importance of God over nationalism, and the plight of the everyday nerd are all explored in depth. Vocalist, Reese Roper, continues to further develop his cool uncool persona, as well, and he employs humor as often as anything. Our Newest Album Ever! might be the only album in history to gather together such diverse topics as subsisting on nothing but beef jerky logs and hot dogs, tying up wayward band members, receiving wedgies, Kitty Doggy creatures, hair implements tossed out of car windows, the foibles of Canada, and the legendary terror of Godzilla.
I mentioned ephemerality above, and my favorite track from Our Newest Album Ever!, "Fistful of Sand," is about just that. It also features more complex horn-work in its middle section than anything the band had done up to that point. It still sounds cool in 2012. Timelessness vs ephemerality. Deep man.

Look at that room full of nerds!

1997 Five Minute Walk / SaraBellum Records
1. Handbook For The Sellout 3:28
2. Where Is Micah? 2:55
3. Superpowers 3:23
4. Fistful of Sand 4:18
5. Suckerpunch 3:32
6. Kitty Doggy 0:41
7. Blue Comb '78 3:04
8. Banner Year 4:13
9. Second Season 3:45
10. Litmus 4:05
11. Oh, Canada 3:15
12. Most Likely To Succeed 3:57
13. Every New Day (includes hidden track "Godzilla") 10:13

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Upbeats and Beatdowns

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7/10

Everybody's gotta have a debut, and this is Five Iron's. Upbeats and Beatdowns is rawly recorded, and not very diverse, but it already shows the bands' excellent knack for juxtaposing their unique brand of humor with serious social issues. Five Iron's two main causes are clear from the get go: the needed acknowledgment of the historical injustices perpetrated on Native Americans, and the importance of placing one's faith in God ahead of one's faith in country. Then you have songs about Diff'rent Strokes.
At this early stage in the band's career, whether they are being serious, sacred, or silly, they are rocking out a lighthearted ska sound. The previous sentence makes me want to punch myself in the face. Anyway, if you hate ska, you'll hate this, but if you remember it fondly, I don't see how you could have a problem with Upbeats and Beatdowns, unless it's just not cool enough for you.


1997 Five Minute Walk
1. Old West 2:20
2. Where the Zero Meets the Fifteen 3:04
3. Cool Enough For You 3:45
4. Anthem 2:43
5. Faking Life 2:49
6. Shut Up 0:04
7. Arnold and Willis and Mr. Drummond 2:36
8. I Feel Lucky 3:18
9. Milestone 3:12
10. Beautiful America 3:43
11. Combat Chuck 2:09
12. Amalgamate 2:58
13. Everywhere I Go 2:16 (Amy Grant cover)
14. A Flowery Song 3:40
15. Third World Think Tank 8:42
16. Combat Chuck's Call 1:42 (hidden track)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sigh. It's Time for Five Iron Frenzy.

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Five Iron Frenzy relates to the general public in three ways.
1. The Non-Fan. Either this person has not heard Five Iron Frenzy's music, or has heard it and doesn't particularly care for it.
2. The Five Iron Frenzy Fan. Enjoys and owns most of Five Iron Frenzy's albums. Has possibly seen the band live a couple of times. Might have a Five Iron Frenzy shirt, and might have even spoken to a band member at the band's merch booth. I fall into this category.
3. The Five Iron Frenzy Community Member (the die-hard fan). Has all of Five Iron Frenzy's albums and knows the words to every song. Has seen the band live more than they can count on one hand and skanked at every show. Did not leave after any of the shows were over. Can look at the above picture, point out each person by first and last name, and tell a personal anecdote about each person. Has possibly created Five Iron Frenzy artwork, and also possibly has shown or sent that artwork to the band. Has possibly sent Reese Roper a blue comb in the mail. Has a favorite member of the band who is not Reese Roper. Gave more to the band's recent kickstarter than they spent on food that week (seriously, the giving average for that record-setting kickstarter was $55 a person!). Would follow Five Iron Frenzy around the country like the McRib if given the opportunity.
For some reason, Five Iron Frenzy has attracted a following unusual to most bands. They never sold incredible amounts of records, but in the eight years between their breakup and reunion, none of Five Iron Frenzy's die-hard fans lost enthusiasm for the band. This is despite the fact that Five Iron Frenzy predominately played music in one of the most fleetingly popular genres of the 20th Century. For some reason, these fans have an unnaturally deep connection to the band, and if you see them, you should not attempt to make conversation, but should contact the authorities immediately. Just kidding, some of my best friends are members of category three, and while I'm not coming at these reviews from that perspective, I am looking forward to these next eight days of FIFmania...spread across like three weeks. Sorry, y'all, school started, and I'm working like three jobs
Let the games begin!...in a couple of days, maybe.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cereal

Today I combined Cap'n Crunch with Peanut Butter Cheerios. Viola. I am the greatest of all time.
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*Picture lazily stolen from someone else's blog.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What's A Migraine Feel Like?

I've had migraines my entire life. I have one right now. They suck. Like really bad. Sometimes people ask me what a migraine feels like, and I try to describe it to them in concrete terms. About nine years ago, coincidentally about the same time I started getting treatment for my migraines, this video came out that perfectly, abstractly illustrates what they feel like.
Just pretend my head is the house. Everything going on inside is the migraine.

There you go. Now, time to medicate and get the people out of the house.

Filter -- Title of Record

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8/10

Filter's second album, Title of Record, is an improvement on their debut in every way. The instrumentation is deeper. The band discovers subtlety and tempers their jackhammer riffing with effects and picking. The drums do more than pummel, and there's even some world music-styled percussion added to the mix. Even the bass is freed from it's old lockstep position with the guitars. With more space, the keyboards and electronics are given room to shine. On top of that, Richard Patrick gives his now iconic, high, gravelly howl a few breaks to do some actual singing. Of course, none of this would matter if not for this album's greatest asset over its predecessor: the songwriting is much improved and less straightforward. While things do bog down a little in the second half, Title of Record never loses its way.
Title of Record is most famous for featuring Filter's biggest hit, "Take a Picture," which eschews pretty much everything the band was known for at that point for atmosphere, acoustic guitar, and a big chorus. Personally, I best like it when the band combine this new-found sophistication with their more aggressive side, best espoused in "The Best Things."

A few notes on this video: It cuts out the sweet riff after the last chorus, but it does feature a pre-Shield Walton Goggins and that dude from Tremors and 90's why couldn't you have just gone on forever, I don't understand why c

1999 Reprise Records
1. Sand 0:36
2. Welcome to the Fold 7:40
3. Captain Bligh 5:12
4. It's Gonna Kill Me 5:04
5. The Best Things 4:26
6. Take a Picture 6:03
7. Skinny 5:43
8. I Will Lead You 3:23
9. Cancer 6:39
10. I'm Not the Only One 5:49
11. Miss Blue 19:48

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Filter -- Short Bus

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6/10

For any talk of "industrial rock" or associations with Nine Inch Nails, Filter's debut album is about one thing: riffs. Frontman, Richard Patrick (this guy's brother), employs a little bit of NIN guitar tone, but this is just driving, straightforward, heavy music. Patrick's howling snarl, though one-dimensional on this debut, backs the music well enough, and the other band members follow in this spirit--I'm pretty sure the drummer must have torn a few holes in his snare.
For me, the most memorable moment on this album is the pause in the middle, "Stuck in Here." It replaces the muscular, distorted riffing with an acoustic guitar, the driving beats with an ancient sounding drum set, and adds some light keyboard and ambient static for atmosphere.
"Stuck in Here" is not just a welcome respite. I feel it also comments more on the end of the century this album was released in then the rest of the album combined. One can easily visualize sitting in a moldering room housing all the burnt out, barely operating artifacts of the 20th Century, as this crackles from a rusting phonograph(Powerman 5000's "Watch the Sky for Me" serves the same purpose on 1999's Tonight the Stars Revolt!). Very nice.

But forget all that stuff. The reason I, and just about any kid from the 90's bought this Filter album is because we heard "Hey Man Nice Shot" in this scene from this movie.

And on a final note, the back cover image for Short Bus has got to be one of the most memorable, ever.
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1995 Reprise
1. Hey Man Nice Shot 5:14
2. Dose 3:53
3. Under 4:18
4. Spent 4:37
5. Take Another 4:23
6. Stuck in Here 3:34
7. It's Over 3:36
8. Gerbil 3:21
9. White Like That 4:17
10. Consider This 4:18
11. So Cool 4:26

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Fear Factory -- Obsolete

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9/10

As a seventeen-year old in the summer of good old 1999, I...shoot, I'm not sure where I was going with that sentence. Ramble instead? When I was seventeen, I thought that I had cancer and would die before the end of the year. It turns out that the greatest threat to my existence was worrying myself to death. Early in the year, after suffering some immense pain and embarrassing bleeding, I discovered a large cyst in an unpleasant place. Being seventeen, I immediately assumed the cyst was a cancer-loaded tumor. Also being seventeen, I decided that I would tell no one and that when I died at the end of the year, my autopsy would reveal that I had been hiding a deadly secret. People would say I was brave for not worrying all my loved ones or some nonsense...whatever the case, that didn't happen. The cyst got so bad that fall, it ruptured in the middle of class (good old senior year), and I bled through my clothes. Let's just say my parents' weren't exactly happy that I had been keeping the whole thing on the DL, but after they forced me to go to the doctor, I received the pleasant news that I had a large, nasty, but easily removable cyst growing out of my tailbone. Pleasant news because the answer to my repeated question, "So, Doc, are you sure I'm not going to die?" was repeatedly answered with, "No!" and an unsaid, "You need help, kid." Anyway, as great as that news was, my crazy seventeen-year old personage had already prepared itself for death. I was ready to go at anytime, and strangely, I was happy. The enjoyment I received from drinking hot soda and listening to new music in my car during my Winn-Dixie lunch breaks was most likely equitable to what some rich person gets testing out a new Lexus or whatever rich people drive now. I took every new experience, no matter how minute, as an incredible, invigorating gift. I had never heard music where some guy screamed and sang in the same song, and I had never heard a band mix weird electronic and orchestral music with metal before. So when KLSU graced my ears with Fear Factory's "Resurrection," I drove my '96 Thunderbird deep into the False River Road night like it was some kind of really fancy car that I don't know the name of because I don't give a crap about cars, even though I've vaguely mentioned them in the past two paragraphs for some reason.

The triumphantly fatalistic tone of this song really hit home with me, too, considering what I was going through. Thankfully, the rest of the album was great! Throw in a chunky CD booklet with art by Dave McKean (yes, that Dave McKean!) and a track-by-track screenplay detailing the album's plot, a robots taking over the Earth sci-fi story that predates the Matrix, and shoot, you've got a late 90's teenage male's dream album. And hey, it's still fun to listen to now! Go 90's! Still glad to be alive in whatever year this is now, though. Get off my lawn.

1998 Roadrunner
1. Shock 4:58
2. Edgecrusher 3:39
3. Smasher/Devourer 5:34
4. Securitron (Police State 2000) 5:47
5. Descent 4:36
6. Hi-Tech Hate 4:33
7. Freedom or Fire 5:11
8. Obsolete 3:51
9. Resurrection 6:35
10. Timelessness 4:08

Monday, January 07, 2013

Man, Winning A National Championship By Four Touchdowns Sure Looks Fun!


Fielding -- Fielding

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6/10

I think that Plankeye's final album, Strange Exchange, is one of the most underrated albums of all time. Frontman, Scott Silletta, had hit the road by then, but that freed up guitarist, Eric Balmer, and bassist, Luis Garcia, to follow their every whim. It's a unique album, and it deserved far more attention. When I heard that Balmer had started a new band after Plankeye's demise with his wife, Beth, I was overjoyed. I missed hearing the guy's voice. Unfortunately, Fielding's 2005 self-titled full-length debut didn't quite live up to my expectations. It starts extremely strongly with the powerful "The Giant" and the 90's alternative-shaded "Lampshade," but the rest of the album is a little stagnant. The tracks mostly fall into that inoffensive, indie-rock mode, and don't really stick to memory. This is mainly a disappointment because of the power of the opening tracks--this band can sound big, but for the majority of the album, they choose not to. Thankfully, though, this wasn't Fielding's final statement. They are still kicking, and the organic and melancholy direction they've been testing lately is quite promising. Instead of posting a track from this self-titled album, here is the band's latest video, "Ladders to Stars."


2005 The Militia Group
1. The Giant 4:51
2. Lampshade 3:38
3. Big Surprise 2:59
4. All You'll Get 3:40
5. OK, Alright 3:07
6. Legless 3:35
7. June 5 4:53
8. Cuban Eyes 4:05
9. Indigo 4:15
10. Judas 3:58

Thursday, January 03, 2013

My 2012 Booklist

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In the tradition of 2010 and 2011, here is a chronological list of the books I read in 2012, along with a few comments. I spent most of the fall getting into and preparing for my second ride at LSU, so I found myself with a lot less time to read. I also changed a lot as a person, forgoing "art" for the most part to just read whatever I wanted to read. Not coincidentally, I highly enjoyed the pages out of almost every book I read this year. That sounded really dirty.
Tender Is the Night -- Fitzgerald (A huge disappointment. After reading this, I nearly threw my Modern Library 100 Best Novels list out the window. Don't get me wrong, I like everything else by Fitzgerald I've read, but Tender Is The Night doesn't meet the mark. At this early point in the year, I just decided to read whatever I wanted.)
Debt of Honor -- Clancy (I used to read Clancy's Jack Ryan books in middle school, but stopped right before this 1,000 page one. The Rabbit gave this to me as a gift in 1995, and I decided seventeen years was a long enough time to hold out. I am glad I did, because this alternate history novel about a modern war with Japan is so much fun, I felt fourteen again.)
Rabbit Is Rich -- Updike (As awful as he can be, Updike's Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom might be one of my favorite characters ever. One more to go in this tetralogy.)
Pronto -- Leonard (I read it because of Raylan. A very fun read)
Dark Times: Out of the Wilderness -- Stradley with art by Wheatley (Can't tout these comics enough)
All the Best, George Bush -- Bush (Bush Sr.'s life in letters. Strangely interesting. The guy's a real dork and a great diplomat, but his out of touch relationship to the masses also comes through clearly.)
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Ascension -- Golden (Golden disappoints here. I expected better. Her big reveal is embarrassingly transparent.)
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse -- Denning (This series might as well be called "Troy Denning: The Redemption." He more than makes up for the problems in his previous novels, as all three books he wrote for this Fate of the Jedi series are classics. I think he successfully ends Star Wars as a whole here, but with recent events, I'm sure the horse's bones will be rattling long into the night, despite Denning's best intentions.)
A Deepness in the Sky -- Vinge (I don't care if there are people who write prettier sentences--this guy needs to be in consideration as one of our greatest living novelists. His stories and characters are incomparable. This book's final chapter was a little weak for Vinge, but everything leading up to the end more than makes up for that).
Chew, Volume 1: Taster's Choice - Layman with art by Guillory (A complete original. I didn't think they made those anymore.)
Earth (The Book) -- Stewart & Others (The jokes are getting kind of stale, but it's enjoyable enough.)

I'll have even less free time this year, but one must never stop reading.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Suck it, Florida!

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If we can't win, then everyone else has to go down in flames, too!
ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POWER OF THE BIG EAST!!!