Summertime Blues, News, and Views: Mouthiness and Fireworks

A holiday weekend means nobody is going to be around to read this damned column. But you know what? I’ve got a happy face and a column anyway.

The problem with holiday weekends is that the world kind of stops. As for new and noteable releases, there’s not much this week aside from the new Johnny Cash disc. And as for news? We’ll have to wait until after the 4th to see who blew up their hands in a fireworks accident or who drank themselves to death. Until then, it’s really not all that exciting.

I’m going to do what I can though.

Alice In Musicland

OMG. From E! Online:

The DMX man finally cometh to court on Thursday–and was quickly senteth to jail.

A city court judge in White Plains, New York, ordered the Ruff Ryder back behind bars a day after he failed to show up for a hearing stemming from his arrest earlier this month for a slew of traffic violations.

On Wednesday, a ticked-off Judge Barbara Leak issued an arrest warrant for DMX, known on the court docket as Earl Simmons, after his tardiness forced her to put off the proceedings for a second time.

The Yonkers-born hip-hop hero was ticketed June 2 after police in the Bronx pulled over his 2001 Chevy Suburban for making unsafe lane changes and driving at “unreasonable speeds.”

Simmons, 35, was also cited for driving without a license and not wearing a seatbelt.

Last September, he was MIA for a hearing in the Bronx resulting an April 2005 bust for allegedly triggering a chain-reaction crash and, yes, driving with a suspended license.

Then last November, Simmons arrived three hours late to a sentencing hearing on a probation violation and blamed it on an asthma attack. The judge in that case tacked on an extra 10 days at Riker’s Island to the 60 day jail term he was originally sentenced to stemming from a bizarre 2004 joyride at JFK Airport in which he smashed his SUV through a security gate and claimed he was an undercover federal agent. (DMX served one month of the sentence before getting out early on good behavior.)

In May, DMX was detained at London’s Heathrow Airport after allegedly making verbal threats against the cabin crew on a Britain-bound flight. The bust-up began when the Cradle 2 the Grave star refused to buckle his seatbelt. He wound up getting off with a warning, but was banned from the airline.

Finally, just last week, DMX was rung up on a weapons charge in Arizona. He was not taken into custody, but issued a misdemeanor citation for failing to hold a permit for a concealed gun in his car. He will likely will have to pay a small fine, but won’t get any jail time.

The next hearing in the New York driving case is scheduled for July 24. A little more than a week later, on Aug. 1, he’ll drop his latest CD, Year of the Dog, Again. It’s the first release in a new three-album deal he signed with Sony Urban after leaving his former label, Def Jam.

Words cannot express, honestly.

Apparently DMX doesn’t read my column. That’s okay, as certainly I never expected him to. But if he did, he might just have learned something that would keep him out of these messes. It’s this little thing I like to call “not being a complete and total f*ckup.”

For months now, I have been pleading with ol’ Earl to get his shit together. He has a new album coming out — hell, he has loads of success behind him, too — and the last thing he needs is to continually prove that he’s a waste of space. Hell, he’s not even committing any cool crimes. He’s driving without a license and fighting with flight attendants, then not showing up to court dates. The Olsen twins have a more violent criminal history than that. (They just haven’t been caught.)

I feel like a failed parent, really. How many times could I implore Mr. Simmons to stop acting like a moron? Look at the guy. He could crush me with his pinky. Yet, what does he do? Refuse to wear a seatbelt? Oh, you’re so badass, I respect your hardcore jail time on that one.

One has to wonder if he’s not blissfully happy as a prison bitch to keep going back through any means necessary. Quick, steal that pack of gum! It’s on camera, they’ll put you away! Lube up!

Something tells me that if DMX wasn’t reading before, someone’s going to point him this way now.

And from Blabbermouth:

A video clip of MÖTLEY CRÃœE frontman Vince Neil sharing lead vocal duties with ex-CRÃœE singer John Corabi on the early CRÃœE classic “Live Wire” during Vince’s headlining appearance Friday night (June 30) at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida has been posted online at

As previously reported, a BLABBERMOUTH.NET visitor by the name of Ken Heavenridge has submitted the following review of the gig:

“Vince Neil ‘performed’ last night (June 30th) at the St. Pete Times Forum with RATT as the opener. A friend of mine was backstage before the show and told me that Vince was ‘smashed.’ After RATT left the stage Vince’s band [which included Dana Strum and Jeff Blando from SLAUGHTER] took the stage and started a CRÃœE song. Vince comes out and forgets the words and starts ‘mumbling’ through it. The second song was more of the same and at several times he stumbles and almost falls down. The crowd starts booing after songs with Vince telling everyone at one point to ‘shut up!’ Vince leaves the stage during a solo by the guitarist (the band was awesome!!!) and after the end of that song they start in with a few LED ZEPPELIN songs without Vince and the guitarist on lead vocals. Then the band calls out for John Corabi to come out and sing which he does only with Vince hanging on him. They both sing a CRÃœE song [‘Live Wire’] in which Vince finishes by taking the mic from Corabi. John leaves and they start another song and half way through Vince’s roadie gives him a guitar to play only the soundboard operator was smart enough to not turn it up. Vince ‘plays’ it for most of the song jamming with the bassist (who seemed to be babysitting him). The end of the song had Vince repeating into the mic over and over to ‘turn it up,’ referring to his guitar. The set ended early and the crowd voiced their displeasure. The venue was about a third full and I heard many times throughout the night that [many people] had free tickets to the show.”

Ahhh, the old Vince is back! BACK, BABY!! The last time I saw him play, he was in the midst of sobering up and losing weight. No fun. I wanted mayhem like at this show.

So, hmm. What could I possibly say about any of this? Huzzah?

But there’s nothing else going on. NOTHING. So I guess that’s what I’m stuck with.

Your Band Here

If you’re not familiar, quick summary: unsigned bands on MySpace? Want a review (and a smidge of publicity in the process)? Add me as a friend or send me an e-mail. When your turn comes up in the queue, you’ll be graced upon these fine pages with some nitpicking and recommendations.

St. Grial:
Hailing from Argentina, this band mixes goth-flavored industrial metal with a healthy pop structure. As for comparisons, their closest neighbors would be Fear Factory without the growly vocals, or Oomph! with singing versus angry German baritone. And they’re decent enough get on the bill as an opener when POD is hitting South America.
Positives: Damn fine sound. Damn fine pop songwriting. I’m a sucker for synths mixed with guitars, but even without my preferences, they sound a hell of a lot better than many signed bands in their genre. Take away the Hot Topic and they’re about as marketable-sounding as Orgy.
Negatives: The biggest hindrance is the limited range of the vocalist, which often causes the songs to become monotonous. If they can throw that guy a bucket of charisma and let it seep through when he sings, I would not be surprised to see them signed.

Phantom 309:
Listed as House/Dub/Breakbeat, someone should correct this and label it as EBM/Experimental. Reading their influences such as Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly, it’s surprising there’s not more of an industrial feel, but you can hear it more strongly than dub. Instrumental with many interesting samples, it’s far more soundscape than anything else.
Positives: Everything flows wonderfully with a laid-back sound and an approach that seems to be more for massaging the ears than mounting chaos. It’s good mood music, provided your mood isn’t particularly Sesame Street.
Negatives: Meandering, repetitive, and at times downright boring, there’s a major pitfall here that many electronic bands fall into. You can twiddle all the knobs you want, but if it doesn’t stick in your head, nobody is going to be requesting it at clubs. Nice ideas, lackluster execution.

“Official old school metal!” they proclaim themselves. Straight outta Norway, we’re taken back some really fun days of metal with these bad boys. With influences like Cynic, Atheist, and Helloween, it doesn’t take a genius metalhead to guess what they’re going to get. The songs posted are works in progress, but they’re strong enough to get a sense of what they’re doing.
Positives: I feel like it’s 1984 and someone slapped me with an Iron Maiden album. It’s fun, really fun.
Negatives: Boy, is this kind of goofy stuff. You have your baritone vibrato’ed vocals (and squealing!) coupled with modern double-bass drumming. Again, have I said enough that it’s fun? What it becomes beyond that will be interesting, I’m sure.

My Opinion Matters

I haven’t used this space recently due to actual news happening and lots of reviewing to be done. However, if you would like to extend your hand towards this area, give me a topic: a band, a historical item, whatever. Shoot me an email and I’ll flip out. Good times will be had by all.

This week’s topic is cover songs.

Cover songs have been performed since… well, since the first song was written, I’m sure. In the ’50s, many covers were white artists tackling songs by black artists, “whiting them up” so-to-speak, and making them more palatable to prejudiced Americana. Others simply played each other’s songs because they were good and wanted to put their own spin on things. The latter is how many covers moved through the ’60s.

Perhaps it was the Beatles with “Twist and Shout” that truly got the idea rolling: why simply play the song of another when you could completely reconstruct it as something of your own creation? As the ’60s drew to a close, more artists were taking this idea and running with it full-speed. Bob Dylan loved Jimi Hendrix’s take on “All Along the Watchtower” so much that he began playing Hendrix’s version himself. Joe Cocker took the Beatles’ “A Little Help From My Friends” and infused gospel-soul, taking it from a fun pop song to a mature, emotional body of work. The ’70s was full of singer-songwriters refitting each others’ songs, and the ’80s was rife with synth-laden recreations of originally low-key tracks.

But where is the cover song now? And what separates a cover band from a “real” band who simply plays a song by another?

While it’s fun to take a song out of its original element and play it in the style of the band’s choosing — Alien Ant Farm covering Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” Disturbed covering Genesis’ “Land of Confusion,” 311 covering The Cure’s “Love Song” — how much of a new dynamic is added? In the case of AAF and 311, the variations had very different feels from the originals, lending them a unique charm that justifies their existence. Disturbed, on the other hand, seems lost on the concept of what makes a good cover. They simply played the Genesis song straight. “Land of Confusion,” the original, was a dark song in a much heavier vein than the the rest of Genesis’ catalog. Thus, Disturbed didn’t have to do much at all to make it fit their style. And they didn’t.

Def Leppard’s recent cover album, Yeah!, has similar problems to Disturbed. The majority of their cover choices were glam-oriented bands. As we all know from songs like “Rocket,” Def Leppard loves the glam days. To hear them tackle T-Rex is about as sonically fascinating it would be hearing Depeche Mode cover New Order. There’s absolutely no challenge in it, something we all know they could play in their sleep, with no desire to make any major changes in structure because it’s the same structure they know and love in their own music. But hand Johnny Cash a Nine Inch Nails song — that is mastery.

Metallica, too, has chosen quite an array of covers for more than one offering. While they may not choose many which deviate far from their own repertoire, they hit the other golden spot of cover songs: obscurity. Perhaps four people besides myself knew that the Snake River Conspiracy song “You and Your Friend” was a cover until I pulled out T-Ride’s 1994 eponymous disc and played them the original. Who in the hell is T-Ride? Exactly why the cover worked.

Still, so many bands seem to have no idea how to do cover songs well. Fear Factory actually teamed up with Gary Numan to cover “Cars,” with nary a change to the original song, beefed up with guitar. That’s practically karaoke. Even Coal Chamber’s version of “Shock The Monkey,” while obviously stylistically different from Peter Gabriel in general, did nothing more than play it loudly. On the other hand, The Orgy did well with New Order’s “Blue Monday” while reconstructing the song as more of a chorus/verse form and varying the dynamics between industrial and metal elements. And speaking of New Order, Frente! took “Bizarre Love Triangle” and made it a folky acoustic piece.

If there’s any one term that should describe a great cover song, it’s “unexpected.” Anything less is mediocre, lazy, and filler.

The Rad Ones

As mentioned previously, KDP reviews the new Johnny Cash album.

Greg Wind wraps up the week with columny goodness, yah.

Tom D’Errico weighs in with his metal report card.

We’ve got some contests running, too: one for the Superman soundtrack, and the other for Josh Radin.

Alex Lucard has recipes for you. Maybe it will toss you an idea or two if you happen to catch it before you fire up the grill.

And… Hitler and Hulkamania.

This is an odd little website, mm-hmm.


The worst part about reviewing MySpace bands is that nine times out of ten, when I get all fired up to do it, the site dies on me. Songs won’t load, everything freezes, bad objects appear, you name it. I rarely have problems any other time I touch MySpace (aside from typical lag and whatnot). It may be the only site out there that frustrates me as much as IP’s server does.


And with that, I’m cutting it short to enjoy my extended weekend. Hope you’re enjoying yours, or already enjoyed it in Canada, or are just plain jealous in Europe.

Your purple prose just gives you away,