Saturday, July 30, 2011

Devon Test Drives a Toyota Rav4



Likes: Comfortable front seats, roomy interior, silky smooth engines, strong reliability and resale value.

Dislikes: Four-cylinder feels underpowered at times, not much fun behind the wheel, bland styling.

The Rav4 is the most popular compact sport utility in the U.S. It's known for a spotless reliability record and great value for the money. However, there are rivals that are starting to catch up. How will the Rav4 hold up against some of the newer more competent rivals.

Performance: The Rav4 comes with two engines to choose from. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 179hp, and a 3.5-liter V6 with 269hp. The pick of the range is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It's punchy enough for city driving, and offers decent pace on the highway. The six-cylinder provides strong peformance, but is better suited with a four-wheel-drive configuration.

Ride & Handling: The Rav4 isn't meant to be driven in a sporty manner. It suspension is set towards comfort. City driving is comfortable and smooth. Highway driving is excellent. There's plenty of comfort for long distance driving. The steering feels vague at times.

Refinement: Wind and road noise are well-contained. There's very little road noise. The engines are hushed and operate smoothly and efficiently.

Behind the wheel: Drivers won't struggle to find a good driving position in the Rav4. The steering wheel adjust for reach and height. The seats are comfortable and easy to adjust. The dashboard has a no-nonsense layout. There's nothing flashy about it, but you'd be missing the point. The logical layout is designed to be user friendly. Something that's common among all Toyota vehicles.

Space & Practicality: The rear seats slide forwards and back for extra cargo space or people space. The boot is decent with many secret compartments to hide valuables. The rear seats fold flat to create a generous loadbay.

Equipment: All Rav4s come with air-conditioning, keyless entry, heated/electric door mirrors and automatic headlamps. Step up to the higher trim level to get leather seats, navigation system and a sportier looking trim. All trims come with optional four-wheel-drive.

Buying & Owning: The Rav4 is priced competitively with its rivals. Resale values are strong, and running costs are low.

Quality & Reliability: Toyota has a reputation for building strong reliable vehicles. The Rav4 is no exception to this. Some cabin materials may look cheap, but they feel sturdy and long lasting. The mechanicals have been tested and tried. JD Power Survey rated the Rav4 in the top 10 for tough and durable products.

Safety & Security: The base trim level comes with side-curtian airbags, ABS and ESP traction control. The four-wheel-drive models have good grip, and torque is diverted to the rear wheels automatically if the front wheels lose traction. Deadlocks and a alarm system are fitted across the range to keep theft at bay.

There are so many compact sport utility vehicles to choose from. The Rav4 sits in the crowd as the safe dependable choose among them. But with many other rivals catching up in those levels. The Rav4 will have to step up its game if Toyota wants to keep being best selling automaker in the U.S.

Devon M 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Devon test drives a Chevy Cruze

The Cavalier never really stacked up to its Japanese rivals. Neither could the Cobalt, but all this is going to change with the Cruze. Chevy's newest answer to the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. It's bigger, roomier and has a more classy interior. But is this enough to lure American buyers back to Chevy?

Performance: The Cruze comes with two four-cylinder engines. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138hp and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 138hp. Picking between the two clearly depends upon taste. If you desire more oomph on the highway, the turbo version makes the most sense. The 1.8 offers good fuel economy too and is the only version offered with a manual gearbox, unless you choose the Eco trim that has the turbo engine.

Ride & Handling: The Cruze doesn't offer sharp handling like some of its keen rivals. The ride has a jiggly quality, some bumps and potholes can easily upset the ride comfort. Handling is a mere acceptable, there isn't much body roll in corners. However, it doesn't feel as sporty as the Volkswagen Jetta. The steering is quick and light, but has very little feedback. Feeling almost numb at times.
Refinement: The engines don't offer much in terms of power. Both provide good pace around town, the turbo version feels more punchy thanks to the extra torque at low revs. At higher speeds the engine sends a loud sound track into the interior. Wind noise is well supressed, but some surfaces can kick up a bit too much road roar than desired.

Behind the wheel: There's adjustment for reach and height for the driver seat and steering wheel. Many drivers will find it easy to get comfortable. Some may not find the front seats comfortable. They're strangely shaped and are short on lower back support. All the controls are within easy reach of the driver's hand. Everything feels easy to use and operate. Rear visibility isn't great, but it isn't bad for a small sedan.

Space & Practicality: The rear seat offers plenty of space for two. The large center tunnel and narrow cabin means trying to carry three in the back is best avoided. The boot is fairly large, but the trunk uses an old fashioned hinges that eat into cargo space. The split folding rear seats increase cargo space.

Equipment: The Cruze comes with air-conditioning, cd-player with MP3 compatibility and tire pressure monitors all standard. You'll have to step up to the higher trim levels to get alloy-wheels, cruise control and heated front seats. Top of the range offers climate control, rear reverse camera and keyless start.

Buying & Owning: The Cruze doesn't seem much of a value compared to its rivals. But you do get plenty of kit for the money. Fuel economy is decent, and resale value should be average. Some may be put off by its bland styling.

Quality & Reliability: The interior looks and feels like a major leap forward for Chevy. The dash materials are hard to the touch, but look smart and are well textured. However, there are signs of cost cutting in some areas of the interior. Reliability for the Cruze is too soon to say.

Safety & Security: ESP, ABS and six airbags are all standard. An engine imobiliser and deadlocks are fitted on every model to keep theft at bay.

Likes: Roomy interior, a major improvement over the Cobalt, interior feels up to par with Japanese rivals, available turbocharged engine, decent fuel economy.

Dislikes: Two engines with the same output doesn't make much sense, the front seats lack support, some trim levels don't seem like much of a value for the money, exterior looks are on the dull side.

Overall: The Cruze is a major leap forward for Chevy. The interior feels high much improved, and there's plenty of kit for the money. If Chevy offers a more powerful engine, the value for the money factor will be well justified in the top of the range trim.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Devons test drives a Volkwagen Golf




The Volkswagen Golf is one of the classiest hatchbacks you can buy. It offers an excellent blend of comfort and sporty handling. All this with a decent sized boot and massive kit level. The Golf pushes all the right buttons, but can it lure the sedan loving U.S. buyers?
Performance: There's two engines available for the Golf. A 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 170hp, and a 2-liter turbo-diesel with 140hp. The pick of the bunch is the 2.5-liter engine. Although it doesn't have the fuel economy benefit of the diesel. It's not as expensive, and finding one won't be difficult.

Ride & Handling: The Golf is in a class of its own. Handling is excellent as well as ride comfort. There's plenty of grip, and the steering is well weighed. The Golf is a doddle to drive. Around town the ride is smooth and well composed. On the highway the suspension soaks up bumps well.

Refinement: The Golf's cabin is hushed, making it a great vehicle for long journeys. The engines are smooth and quiet. There's very little wind and road noise.

Behind the wheel: Driver's can easily get comfortable behind the wheel. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and height. Visibility is good all round, allowing for more confidence when squeezing around tight urban areas. The dashboard has a minimalistic approach, with everything within reach of the driver's hand.

Space & Practicality: The Golf has plenty of passenger space. There's plenty of head and legroom for four adults. There's plenty shoulder room so a fifth passenger isn't out of the question. The boot is big and well shaped, but the rear seats don't fold flat.

Equipment: Every Golf comes well equipped for the money. There's air-conditioning, cd-player and remote central locking. Automatic headlamps, speed sensitive headlamps and optional rear curtian airbags. The top of the range adds a body-kit, alloy wheels and bluetooth connectivity.

Buying & Owning: The Golf isn't the cheapest in its class, but its definitely worth the money. Reasonable discounts are available, and your purchase will be secured thanks to Volkswagen high resale value. Running costs are low thanks to decent fuel economy.

Quality & Reliability: The Golf is the best in its class. The interior is up to par with Volkswagen quality. All the textures used are excellent in quality. They look and feel well put together. Build quality is generally solid and reliability has been rated above average by owners from JD Power customer satisfaction surveys.

Safety & Security: Every Golf comes with an extensive safety kit. ESP, ABS and side curtain airbags are all standard. There's a theft alarm and deadlocks to keep theft away.

Likes: Upscale interior, roomy interior for four, benchmark handling and ride comfort, frugal diesel engines.
Dislikes: Five-cylinder engine droan, diesel engine commands premium price, no manual gearbox on five-door 2.5 trim.
Overall: The Golf is the benchmark in its class. An extensive safety kit with plenty of equipment for the money. If you're willing to dish out the extra cash, the Golf will provide you with German quality for a low asking price.

Devon M

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Devon test drives a Chevy Impala



Likes: Roomy interior for five, large roomy trunk, decent fuel economy, ride comfort is smooth.

Dislikes: Bland styling, forgettable driving experience, poor build quality and low-grade interior, four-speed automatic soaks up the engine's power, and the handling is lackluster at best.

Large front wheel drive sedans are slowly being replaced by more fun to drive rear-wheel drive vehicles.  There are plenty to choose from. So where does the Chevy Impala fit in that formula?

Performance: There are two six-cylinder engines to choose from. The base 3.5-liter six-cylinder produces 211hp, and a 3.9-liter six-cylinder with 230hp. The pick of the bunch is the 3.5-liter six-cylinder. Its smooth, provides quick acceleration and decent fuel economy. Not that there's much of a difference between the two engines in terms of gas mileage. But both engines have to make do with a old four-speed automatic. This ruins the potential that the engines have to offer. The shifts often feel delayed and unresponsive at times. Leaving you with no oomph when you desire it the most.

Ride & Handling: The suspension is set towards comfort. It irons out bumps, and handles well if not pushed to its limits. This is where the Impala feels cheap. The ride and handling often feels loose and uncontrolled at times. Making the vehicle feel unsettled when pushed hard. Even the top of the range feels more geared towards a Sunday drive.

Refinement: The six-cylinder stays hused until pushed hard. However, the noise is far from intrusive. The Impala feels like a comfortable on long journeys. The driving experience is very forgettable.

Behind the wheel: There's plenty of adjustment for the driver's seat. The steering wheel adjusts for both reach and height. There's a sense of logic to the interior. It doesn't feel high quality, but it serves its purpose well. All the controls are easy to reach, and there's even power adjustments to the seats for added luxury.

Space & Practicality: The boot is very massive, something you'd expect from a sedan that's so big in size. The seats fold down to increase cargo space. You can sit up to five passengers in comfort.

Equipment: The base engine is well equipped for the money. There's automatic headlamps, cruise control, keyless entry and six-way power driver seat. The top of the range adds luxury tuned supsension, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof.

Buying & Owning: The Impala seems like a good deal on paper. This however changes when you come to selling the vehicle. With steep depreciation, your investments aren't well protected. There are rivals that offer better value for the money all-round. The Impala does get decent fuel economy, but has to make do with an ancient four-speed automatic. Rivals offer six and even seven speed automatic gearboxes.

Quality & Reliability: The interior feels and looks well put together. There's no indication for the gears on the automatic transmission. One will have to look into the instrument panel to see what gear they are shifting into. This can get annoying at times, especially when parking. The whole cabin feel is on the cheap side. Even in the top of the range, there's a sense of low-rent quality to the cabin. The Impala has scored low in JD power survery for reliability.

Safety: The Impala comes well equipped in safety. There's front and side curtian airbags. ABS and ESP are both standard across the range. However, the construction of the vehicle feels cheap. You may want to consider this before buying one. There are deadlocks and a theft alarm to guard against theft.

Overall: The Impala is one of the few large front wheel drive sedans that offers plenty of space, and decent equipment for the money. However the negatives seem to outweigh the positives, and there are far better rivals that are better value for money and offer much more than the Impala.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Devon Test Drives a Chevy Aveo



Cheap cars are becoming all the rage. With many automakers going small to appeal to an audience they've never reached out to. Chevy however, has been building cars that are affordable for many years. Many of them fail against rivals from Japan. So how does the Aveo stack up?
Performance: There's only one engine available and that's a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 108hp. Acceleration is peppy around town. But when you get to highway speeds, the engine struggles to get up to pace. You'll need to work the engine hard to get the most of it. Fuel economy is good, but rivals offer more power and similar fuel consumption.

Ride & Handling: If you're looking for a fun to drive city car, you'd best look elsewhere. The Aveo has numb steering that offers very little feedback. The suspension is set towards comfort, so there's lots of bodyroll in corners. The ride can be a bit bouncy on some road surfaces.

Refinement: The engine feels refined, until pushed hard. Around town, the Aveo feels quiet and comfortable. On the highway, there's lots of wind and road noise that sneaks into the cabin.

Behind the wheel: There's no adjustment for reach, which makes the driving position for some hard to obtain. The seating position is also a let down. You'll feel like you're sitting on the car rather than sitting inside. This will discourage enthuisatic driving. For the price the interior feels well put together. Nothing stands out, or feels special. There are rivals that offer better interiors for the money.

Space & Practicality: For such a small car, there's plenty of leg and headroom for four passengers in the interior. The boot isn't big, but offers enough space for small city runs. There's split folding rear seats to extends cargo space.

Equipment: The term "you get what you pay for" really does define the Aveo. The base trim level feels down right mean. There's no air-conditioning, and many other features that are standard on other rivals. You'll have to step up and pay more to get the extras that should be standard. To get a well equipped Aveo, you'll pay about the same or more than its rivals. Making the Aveo seems somewhat of a let down in value.

Buying & Owning: The Aveo doesn't seem like much of a bargain compared to its rivals. The engine offers decent pace, if you're trips don't evolve going outside of the city. Resale value isn't anything to brag about, but fuel economy is good. It offers plenty of space and feels comfortable when driven in a economical non-sporty manner.

Quality & Reliability: The interior feels worth the asking price. There's nothing special about it, but the materials used look and feel sturdy. Reliability has been good, but there are some reports of engine problems by owners.

Safety & Security: There's available ABS but that option is limited to the top of the range. Now a days vehicles are offering many safety features standard. Leaving the Aveo far behind in the competition. There's a mandated alarm system but little else in terms of security against theft.

Likes: Plenty of space for a small car, decent fuel economy.
Dislikes: Under-powered engine, not as fun to drive as it looks, numb steering and lots of body-roll.
Overall: There are many rivals that offer a blend of everything the Aveo falls short in. The replacement for the Aveo will address everything the Aveo failed to live up to. However, if you need a cheap car that's comfortable and has decent running cost. The Aveo is the car for you. You might want to consider its rivals first.
Devon M

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Psychedelic Rock



"Are You Experienced" The question "Are you experienced" was commonly interpreted as Hendrix asking if you have experienced drugs. He said that this song was not necessarily about drugs, but about being at peace with yourself. Guitar, bass and drums were all played backward as part of the effects. The part at the beginning may have been ahead of its time, as it sounded a lot like the record scratching Hip-Hop DJs began using years later.



"2000 light years from home" Space exploration was big at the time, and was probably an influence on this. Pink Floyd was making music with a similar sound. The psychedelic sound reflected the times. It was the summer of love (1967). Mick Jagger got the idea for this while in jail on drug charges.



Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote this about Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange, New Jersey, where they lived at the time. The Monkees fourth single, it is an ode to the simple life in happy suburbia. While studio musicians were brought in to play on many songs for The Monkees, the band did play on this one - for the most part. Peter Tork played piano and Mike Nesmith played the famous opening guitar riff. Chip Douglas, a former member of The Turtles who produced the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd album, played bass and came up with the guitar part, which was based on The Beatles "I Want to Tell You." He taught it to Nesmith, who overdubbed it twice. You can see him play the line during a close-up for the "video.

Devon picks his favorite Beatle songs from 1963 - 1970



1963 "Love Me Do" is a simple love song. The instruments are basic with only two chords used through out the whole song. The blues-like harmonica played in the song really gives the song a distinct sound.



1963 "Don't Bother Me" was written by George Harrison. Being the first song ever written by him, he regards this song as the worst song he ever written. "Don't Bother Me" was written while George was in the hospital sick.



1964 "A Hard Day's Night" "We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day... and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '...night!' So we came to 'A Hard Day's Night.'"



1964 "No Reply" The song is about a young man who is unable to contact his apparently unfaithful girlfriend, although he knows she is home ("They said it wasn't you, but I saw you peak through your window".)

1965 "You've got to hide your love away" It was rumored that this was the first gay rock song, a message to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who was gay. In the part of The Beatles Anthology, that covers Epstein's death, this song is played, giving credence to the idea that this song was indeed a song about hiding one's homosexuality.


1965 "Girl" This was one of John Lennon's favorite Beatles songs. He revealed in the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone, that in this song he was, "in a way, trying to say something or other about Christianity" which he was "opposed to at the time." He explained: "I was just talking about Christianity in that - a thing like you have to be tortured to attain heaven. I'm only saying that I was talking about 'pain will lead to pleasure' in 'Girl' and that was sort of the Catholic Christian concept - be tortured and then it'll be alright, which seems to be a bit true but not in their concept of it. But I didn't believe in that, that you have to be tortured to attain anything, it just so happens that you were."



1966 "She Said, She Said" The song was inspired by actor Peter Fonda, who was dropping acid with John Lennon while they were together at a party at the Playboy Mansion. John was trying to take in the beauty of the girls and the atmosphere, and Peter Fonda was whispering, "I know what it's like to be dead man." John originally wrote it as "He Said He Said" because it did come from Peter, but felt it didn't sound right, so he changed it to "She."



1967 "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" The "Lucy" who inspired this song was Lucy O'Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John's son Julian Lennon when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said "Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: "I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant… Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school." Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail article that claimedthe "Lucy" was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000's Chocolat and 2004's The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer. Many people thought this was about drugs, since the letters "LSD" are prominent in the title, and John Lennon, who wrote it, was known to drop acid. In 1971 Lennon told Rolling Stone that he swore that he had no idea that the song's initials spelt L.S.D. He added: "I didn't even see it on the label. I didn't look at the initials. I don't look - I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It's like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don't know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything."


1967 "I Am the Walrus" Lennon explained the origins of this song in his 1980 Playboy interview: "The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to 'Element'ry penguin' is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, 'Hare Krishna,' or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days." The idea for the Walrus came from the poem The Walrus and The Carpenter, which is from the sequel to Alice in Wonderland called Through the Looking-Glass. In his 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon said: "It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles' work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, s--t, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, 'I am the carpenter.' But that wouldn't have been the same, would it?" This song helped fuel the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. It's quite a stretch, but theorists found these clues in the lyrics, none of which are substantiated:
"Waiting for the van to come" means the 3 remaining Beatles are waiting for a police van to come. "Pretty little policemen in a row" means policemen did show up.
"Goo goo ga joob" were the final words that Humpty Dumpty said before he fell off the wall and died.
During the fade, while the choir sings, a voice says "Bury Me" which is what Paul might have said after he died.
During the fade, we hear someone reciting the death scene from Shakespeare's play "King Lear."

In addition, a rumor circulated that Walrus was Greek for "corpse" (it isn't) in Greek, so that is what people thought of Paul being the Walrus. Also, in the video, the walrus was the only dark costume. 


1968 "Happiness is a warm gun" The title came from an article in a gun magazine John Lennon saw. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was the slogan of the National Rifle Association. It struck Lennon as "fantastic, insane… a warm gun means you've just shot something." Like the composer Wagner, Lennon felt that a song must have increasing excitement, climax and redemption. The song is built from pieces of several different little songs, with different melodies and rhythms, and one after another, the excitement is increasing. The climax is the falsetto, and finally the redemption is in the continuing call and answer.
When The White Album was released in 1968, it was not commonly known that Lennon was a composer, as many people thought that he was only a lyric writer. After The Beatles broke up, their individual songwriting contributions were revealed in greater detail. 

A popular theory is that Lennon meant for this to be a drug metaphor for doing heroin:
-"Needing a fix"
-"Jump the gun" meaning to cook it up
-"Bang, Bang, SHOOT, SHOOT"
-"When I hold you in my arm, nobody can do me no harm" - heroin addicts tell how when you're on it, nothing can do you no harm and Lennon's overall nature seem to point to this.


1969 "I Want You (She's so heavy)" John Lennon wrote this about Yoko. Lennon was experimenting in heavy rock, so the song has few lyrics and long stretches of repeated chords. John Lennon sang this monofonic, as some of the troubadours sang in the Middle Ages: There is no chord behind the melody, but an instrument follows the singer's melody. The song ends with an orchestra arrangement, which was Lennon's idea, and is very much similar to the end of "Entry of the Gods into Valhalla" in "Das Rheingold" by Richard Wagner. The rhythm was based on Mel Torme's "Coming Home Baby."


1970 "Dig a Pony" There is a false start in this song that was caused by Ringo, as you can see Lennon looking back at him to make sure he's ready before they start again. What caused the hiccup is unclear: if you watch the clip, just as they are getting ready to count into the song, you see Ringo blowing smoke out of his mouth. There is a hesitation and you see him bending over, but it looks like he's already put his cigarette down prior to that. In the 1988 film Imagine: John Lennon, home video footage reveals Lennon being asked about several lines from this song by a young man who was found hiding on the property surrounding Tittenhurst, Lennon's home in Ascot, England. Lennon assures him that the song refers to no specific person and that the lyrics are "nonsense," a lyrical technique he also attributes to unspecified Bob Dylan songs. John stated in 1969 about this song, "I just make it up as I go along."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

50 GREATEST BAD RELIGION SONGS EVER: Part II

Felipe M.




We move on to songs 41-45 on our countdown of the top 50 Bad Religion songs of all time.  Let's keep this party going:


#45. "Supersonic"--THE PROCESS OF BELIEF (2002): This song just explodes right off the bat and never lets up.  The music definitely fits the title of this song.  And so do the lyrics if you take them literally, basically is a snapshot of modern society and the need to keep up the fast pace that is demanded of us.  When future societies look back at the early 21st century, they can look to this song for clues as to what it must have been like to live during this time.  


Despite the convenient things that this modern world has given us, very few are actually happy.  If that isn't the damndest paradox...


Quote--"What's time but a thing to kill or keep or buy or lose or live in?"


#44. "God's Love"--THE EMPIRE STRIKES FIRST (2004): First of all, the first time I saw this band live was on DVD, LIVE AT THE PALLADIUM as they were on the heels of releasing this album so naturally most of the songs that were played in that DVD were from EMPIRE.  So I might be a bit biased when I mention a lot of songs from this album.  But also keep in mind that this was released four years after releasing their last CD for major label Atlantic Records.  If PROCESS was a vehicle to foreshadow the direction this band would take for the rest of the band's existence theretofore, then EMPIRE is the album, through culminations in the band's sound and vocals, that would cement the band's status in the punk rock world as the premiere band in the genre.  Every song is simply awesome and every track is very distinct.  


But back to the song, I've always considered "God's Love" to be a satirical outlook on the idea of God and the hypocrisy that "His" followers live justifying all the doctrine-bending that they do to accomplish most of their goals.  While some of "His" followers flourish, many other followers live through endless suffering of, to quote a song from another of my favorite bands, Between the Buried and Me, "Disease, Injury, Madness."  Of course, the punchline to all of this is that all the suffering is just a way that God shows his love. 


QUOTE--"Where is the love?  In a careless creation, when there's no 'above.'"


#43. "The Devil in Stitches"--THE DISSENT OF MAN (2010): I've heard mixed reviews and interpretations about this album, but regardless of others' opinions this is one of the band's best work.  It's a mid-temp, melodic sound track that fully takes advantage of Greg's vocals and the lyrics will have you using your powers of deduction trying to figure out the meaning of this song.  


Brett Gurewitz gets the writing credit on this one, not surprising as his songs tend to be more personal and less political adding a dynamic to the band's work.  Unfortunately, this song has proven to be very perplexing as there is no real explanation and it might be chalked up to something personal that happened to the songwriter.  However, the fact that "White Devil" is mentioned leads to believe that the general consensus that this is a love song might be correct, but seeing that "White Devil" is a play about adultery also opens the door to many possibilities.  


Perhaps it's a love song about a couple meeting for the first time and falling in love, but the catch is that the woman is married (perhaps to a preacher?) and the rest of the song explains the two trying to get together and overcoming that marriage barrier.  If anybody else can give a better explanation, please feel free to express yourself.  


Quote--"Angels fall down without warning [with] cherry lipstick on their teeth and all dangerous curves."


#42. "Let Them Eat War"--THE EMPIRE STRIKES FIRST (2004): First time I heard this song was on the DVD LIVE AT THE PALLADIUM with the rap part being sung live by Tim McIlrath from Rise Against, which I thought was the coolest thing because that band was one of my favorites at that time.  Later I found out that Sage Francis is the one doing the rap part on the studio version, which makes it that much cooler.


So many meanings, but where to start?  One of the times where the band is very overt with their lyrics.  An anti-war song, it is a great point to start when having to figure out how the Military-Industrial Complex work.  There are private businesses whose success depends on wars.  There's a government that overspends for defense contracts, creates military conflicts with the rest of the world, and that government has a growing population of poor people with no real job opportunities to speak of.  How to solve all these issues?  Let's have a war!  


Quote--As the Government and Power Elite, "We've got to kill 'em and eat 'em before they reach for their checks"


#41. "Fuck Armageddon... This is Hell"--HOW COULD HELL BE ANY WORSE (1981)--This song is still played live and usually fans get really excited when listening to the intro.  


Self-explanatory song about minimizing the afterlife and the idea of going to hell for being a "bad" person on Earth.  The song explains the "countries [that] manufacture bombs and guns" and the "smog [that] is ruining my lungs" for the sake of "helping everyone" is the real hell--a hellish society that encourages us to kill our fellow man, that justifies destroying our world, and to  minimize the use of free will and to conform to mainstream religious doctrine.


Quote--"In the end the good will go to heaven up above, the bad will perish in the depths of hell.  [However], how can hell be any worse when life alone is such a curse?"


For Part III of this countdown, click here....  

50 GREATEST BAD RELIGION SONGS EVER: Part I



Felipe M.




Finally, Part I has arrived!  We countdown the best Bad Religion songs ever and let you know the album and year it was released and a short comment as to why it made the list.  Without further ado:



#50. "Delirium of Disorder"-SUFFER (1988): Suffer is one of my favorite albums ever and I can still listen to it from beginning to end without hesitation.  However, for a while, the one song that I hated was this one because of the introduction as someone with a robotic, Satanic voice would very suddenly say the phrase "DELIRIUM OF DISORDER."  That used to scare me every single time the first several times I would listen to this album.  Eventually it won me over because it is a typical fast-paced Bad Religion song that blasts into your ears.  

As with a lot of Bad Religion songs, if your vocabulary is limited, you will have to bust out the dictionary to look up words.  This song in particular, as with a lot of Bad Religion songs, mocks the idea of people thinking that they have a significant reason for existing besides mere survival.  

Quote--"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written." 

#49. "Them and Us"--THE GRAY RACE (1996): Song was part of the soundtrack for the video game Crazy Taxi and helped a lot of people become Bad Religion fans undoubtedly.  

The song deals with race (appropriately enough for an album called The Gray Race) and how foolish it is to divide people into groups and categories because in the end we are all the same.  However, the song does acknowledge that humans, through psychological and social structures, cannot help but to create these differences--differences that are so rigid, which ultimately leads to this "Them and Us" mentality.

Quote--"Hate is a simple manifestation of the deep-seated, self-directed frustration.  All it does is promote fear and consternation."

#48. "It Must Look Pretty Appealing"--NO CONTROL (1989):  This album was the first Bad Religion CD I ever bought and pretty much was the gateway for the rest of the band's work.  

This song in particular focuses on the theme of introspection, almost encouraging an individual to question their comfortable, but routine, day-to-day life.  Greg Graffin's voice almost dares the listener to change their boring life, but he ridicules and teases the listener throughout the song, knowing very well that the individual will continue to lead a dull existence in reverie.


Quote--"You're too scared of other people not like you"


#47. "Anesthesia"--AGAINST THE GRAIN (1990): Many fans have stated that the first verse of this song was about the Charles Manson murders and it might be, as Bad Religion is known to find witty ways to reference events.  The lyrics and the fact that Brett Gurewitz wrote the song, might be autobiographical in nature as Mr. Brett has had problems with drugs and the song is littered with vague drug references, especially heroin.  A good example of how the band uses double meanings in their lyrics. 


Quote--"I've been hanging out here, for eleven long years, like a church mouse wondering where the cat has gone."


#46. "Bored and Extremely Dangerous"--THE PROCESS OF BELIEF (2002): I always thought that this track was in some way connected to the song "Broken" in that same album.  Where "Broken" ends in an optimistic note for a couple of teens, the perceived young person (or persons) in "Bored" is not so lucky and is constantly crying for help, compassion, and understanding.  The individual in the song will even resort to violence (whether harming themselves, others, or both) if not given the proper attention they so desperately need.  


The alarm clock and telephone ringing in the middle of the song is creepy as if to say "time's up"---appropriate for an isolated teen in high school who loathes having to go to class to be judged, persecuted, and bullied or the adult who lives a meaningless life and does his real living in his dreams every night only to be interrupted by the daily grind that is his day-to-day life.


Ironically, as the song ends and Greg Graffin cries for someone to "Listen to me," one will notice that the vocals go from being plea-like to hopeful, suggesting optimism for those that need such charity.


Quote--"Yeah, sure I might do harm and bear my right to arm."


Part II is available, here.....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

PREVIEW TO THE 50 GREATEST BAD RELIGION SONGS OF ALL TIME




Felipe M.


Last year, the band Bad Religion celebrated 30 years of existence and to start celebrating the next 30 years of the punk rock legendary band, we will be listing THE TOP 50 GREATEST BAD RELIGION SONGS OF ALL TIME.  


The band's entire discography is well represented and it includes tracks from the following albums:

  • How Could Hell Be Any Worse?--3 Songs
  • Back to the Known--1 Song
  • Suffer--4 Songs
  • No Control--4 Songs
  • Against the Grain--3 Songs
  • Generator--5 Songs
  • Recipe for Hate--5 Songs
  • Stranger Than Fiction--4 Songs
  • The Gray Race--2 Songs
  • The Process of Belief--3 Songs
  • The Empire Strikes First--7 Songs
  • New Maps of Hell--4 Songs
  • The Dissent of Men--5 Songs
It was not easy narrowing down 30 years of punk rock music to a list of 50, but it certainly was worth the effort.  Here is a list of some notable songs that just missed the cut.  

51.  "Change of Ideas"--This song kicks off the album No Control and without a doubt, it's one of the few times the band is being overt with their lyrics as they do indeed cry out for a "change of ideas!"  Just missed the cut!

54.  "God Song"--Like a lot of Bad Religion songs, they deal a lot with the idea of a God.  Some have described it as an atheist anthem.  Some of the best lyrics you'll find from this band and one of the more melodic songs as well.

58.  "No Control"--From the album No Control, once again, no double or hidden meanings and the witty lyrics can be take at face value: even though some people believe that they have the right to take control of the world, they, like the rest of us, are not immortal and one day they will be gone from this Earth and will have to relinquish the perceived control that they thought they had anyway.  This is a fan favorite and the song is still played at their live shows.  

64.  "Ad Hominem"--Like many of the songs that missed the cut, this song, at one point was in the top 50, but was eventually dropped for other songs that proved to be "better."  This track, from the newest album The Dissent of Men, was named after the logical fallacy where one's character is attacked in order to invalidate their argument.  Near the end, the song challenges people to "divide your beliefs and ideas...from the people that you don't like."  Yet another song that cries for more cooperation among people from different backgrounds and ideals.

66.  "We're Only Gonna Die"--Still a staple at their shows, this is one, if not the, simplest songs to understand from Bad Religion.  Similar theme to the song "No Control" that was already mentioned, "...Gonna Die" plays along with the fact that even though we as humans think we're higher beings, we're no different than any other species on this Earth and we all soon dissolve and decay from this planet.  This track also has the same lyrics repeating, which is a common songwriting technique, but in this track it plays the role of a big giant cycle: "early man walked away, as modern man took control."  Control became such a mandatory and primary ideal that in order to keep it "modern man" had to start killing his own kind, his own species just to keep said control.  In the end, "modern man" will just die and then the cycle is repeated with the next verse--or next generation.  The song ends with a haunting premonition, "we're only gonna die from our own arrogance."

Other songs that were left off the list are as follows: 
  • "Heroes and Martyrs"
  • "Modern Man"
  • "Social Suicide"
  • "21st Century (Digital Boy"
  • "Come Join Us"
  • "Recipe for Hate"
  • "Marked"
  • "Kyoto Now!"
  • "Big Bang"
  • "Punk Rock Song"
  • "Land of Competition"
  • "Unacceptable"
A lot of popular songs that the band still plays live on a regular basis were left off and should make every Bad Religion fan wonder what actually made it to the list.  Stay tuned and find out.....


2011 NBA DRAFT REVIEW: Part V-SECOND ROUND OR SECOND RATE?

Felipe M




Before we take a look at the first fifteen 2nd round picks, we look back at the last few drafts to see how those draft classes have produced gems in the very treacherous 2nd Round of the NBA DRAFT:



  • 2010: Out of 30 players selected, I do not see one player who is in an NBA roster.  I don't even see one player that might have played a minute last season!
  • 2009: At least five 2nd rounders can say that they are on an NBA team with the best of the bunch being DeJuan Blair and Marcus Thornton.  Blair averages about 21 minutes/game, while Thornton has been successful with limited time as a feature player, he is already playing for his second team and the latest club, the Sacramento Kings, seem to have a short leash on him with the drafting of Jimmer Fredette.  
  • 2008: At least 7 players are still with an NBA team, but a lot of these players are solid, but unspectacular, with guard Goran Dragic possessing the most upside of this class.  
  • 2007: A lot of players should be seasoned by now.  Assuming the players selected were mostly freshmen and had decided to stay in college, a lot of these players would be finishing their rookie seasons in the NBA or be 5th year seniors in college.  Still, I count 5 players still with NBA clubs and clearly the best player, a foreign player, is Marc Gasol with the best American player drafted in Ramon Sessions who is already playing for his 3rd NBA team and has only averaged 25 mins/game. 
The point is that very few 2nd round picks make a big impact in the NBA and most of the players end up being role players at best.  So fast-forward to the present-- many NBA fans have been anticipating Tyler Honeycutt's long-term potential as many had predicted for the UCLA standout to be selected in the 1st round.  Based on recent history, Honeycutt has a steep uphill climb ahead of him as the 2nd round has not developed talent that can produce like a 1st round pick.  And now picks 31-45:

31.  Bojan Bogdanovic from Croatia is a 6'7" player who has potential to be an impressive offensive player in the NBA though lack of size is a concern according to the ESPN panel.

32.  Justin Harper, out of Richmond, as stated in another article will probably be the next Ryan Anderson for the Magic--a player with a nice mid-range game who is also a defensive liability.  

33.  Kyle Singler from Duke is finally picked and according to former Duke player, Jay Bilas, "he's a complete player" and only needs to work on his "shooting rate."  Jay Bias (sic) was certainly on his game on NBA Draft night.  Singler will be lucky if he comes close to being the next Josh McRoberts, but does remind me a bit of Mike Dunleavy Jr.  Regardless, Duke players, more often than not, always struggle to transition from the college to the NBA game and Singler will not be an exception to that rule.

34.  Shelvin Mack from Butler who Jay Bias (sic) described as simply "a winner" was supposed to go the Wizards.  If that's the case, he will be logging a lot of bench time.  Mack plays fearless, but at times looked overmatched against better teams with better athletic players.

35.  Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA) was finally picked.  A disappointing night, his NBA future looks bleak.  If he does go down into NBA oblivion, he will go down with a fight as he definitely has the tools to be known commodity.  Is a great passer despite proving to be too sloppy with the ball in college.  A very good athlete, he needs to hit the gym and get stronger.  

36.  Jordan Williams from Maryland is 6'9" and 245 lbs so he's a big guy and was an established rebounder in college.  However, despite his size, he struggles on offense, especially against bigger and taller players.  Worse, Jay Bias (sic) compared him to Michael Sweetney.  Yikes!

37.  Trey Thompkins out of Georgia has similar size as Williams, but actually has a more polished offensive game as he's comfortable in the post and as a spot-up shooter.  However, he's not very athletic and he's another player who NBA scouts grew highly concerned over his conditioning.  It's only the rest of your life you have to worry about, so why work on your conditioning, right?

38.  Chandler Parsons from Florida is the SEC player of the year.  The 6'9" forward loves to shoot the rock, but has been known to be physically and mentally weak.  Usually players with that profile get eaten up in the NBA.  Best of luck!

39.  Jeremy Tyler was a highly regarded high school player that told the NCAA to go fly a kite and went overseas (most recently in Tokyo) as he took the Brandon Jennings paradigm into making it in the NBA.  At 6'10", 262 lbs., he definitely has the size to be a successful big man.  However, ESPN foreign expert, Fran Fraschilla did state that his "skill level is low."  On the bright side, he was coached by former NBA coach, Bob Hill.  So, yeah!

40.  Jon Leuer out of Wisconsin was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks so he doesn't have to travel far to be with his NBA team.  Like many big men coming out of this draft, NBA teams are looking for centers who can stretch the floor with their ability to shoot.  As the scouting report was given on draft night, Leuer reminded me more and more of former NBA big man, Matt Bullard.  Hooray?

41.  Darius Morris (Michigan)--hey, a Laker sighting!  A point guard with size, Morris does not have a good 3-point shot, but has good "court-vision."  I predict that Morris, if he makes the team, will see very few minutes on the court.

42.  Davis Bertans out of Latvia was convinced to enter the NBA draft as it was reported that the San Antonio Spurs all, but guaranteed that he would be selected by the club.  Fran Fraschilla says that Bertans is a "great shooter," but also stated that it would be at least 2 years before he makes it with his NBA team.  

43.  Malcolm Lee (UCLA) goes to the Bulls; another athletic guard who is already considered a good defender, but needs to continue to work on his shot.  

44.  Charles Jenkins out of Hofstra finally gets selected as it was predicted that he had a chance to sneak into the first round.  A combo/hybrid point/shooting guard, he will go to a team that already has two polished players like that in the Golden St. Warriors.  I predict a lot of sporadic time in his future.  

45.  The last player that will be covered is Josh Harrellson from Kentucky going to the Knicks who is a Brad Miller-type of player who can dish and shoot the ball and at 6'10", 275 lbs, perhaps even clog the middle for the Knicks.  Jay Bias (sic) was not too thrilled with this pick as his analysis included a joke about Harrellson bringing back into fashion the jean shorts look.  That's why Bilas gets paid the bick bucks.  

And so concludes our coverage of the NBA Draft.  ESPN made it seem that a lot of these players were NBA ready, but a lot of these players have low potential and are, for the most part, one-dimensional as many NBA teams were looking for athletic swing-men who showed that they could play good defense, especially at the perimeter, where premiere players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade make a living shredding defenses apart.  Already looking forward to the 2012 draft and hoping that the NBA lockout gets resolved quickly.