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.

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.