Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Album Review: ACE FREHLEY

Bronx Born Records

Ace Frehley is an icon, and an original member of one of the greatest rock and roll bands in American history. While he's never been hailed as one of the greatest guitarists to ever finger a pick, whatever he's lacked in mechanics he's always made up for in style. Unfortunately, that signature style isn't enough to carry his fourth solo release, "Anomaly."

The highlight of the album is a cover of Sweet's glam rock classic "Fox on the Run," a well-oiled romp that wraps the spirit of the original in Frehley's trademark swagger. Problem is, the swagger stops there, at the fourth track. "Foxy and Free" starts the album strong, a contemporary crunch saddling Space Ace's effect-laden vocals. It sucks you in, And "Outer Space" keeps you there with a like-minded bullish charge that plays up to Frehley's KISS persona. But "Pain in the Neck" leaves you missing the collaborative efforts of KISS, and "Ghengis Khan" - while featuring some adept guitar play - takes us out of the Sweet cover with a limp that just never recovers, the album proceeding in dire need of polish.

If you flip the melodic charm of "Too Many Faces" with the lyrically-challenged "Pain in the Neck," then keep closer "Fractured Quantum" - the quintessential return to Frehley's '78 solo debut's "Fractured Mirror" - the album would make a formidable five-track EP. But you can't hide from the lumbering ballads "Change the World" and "A Little Below the Angels," the instrumental "Space Bear" just ambles along aimlessly, and even though "Sister" and "It's a Great Life" leave their mark musically, the lyrics are a distraction.

Worth noting is the CD packaging, which folds out into an impressive 3-D prism, a nice touch in this day and age of stale digital music delivery. Overall, Frehley fanatics will find more than enough to get giddy over, and a few of the tracks should make a nice addition to a solo show, but "Anomaly" falls short of the mark as an album. In poker terms? It's like being dealt pocket Aces, then a flop that makes you want to cringe.

RATING: * * *

Ace Frehley Official Website

Ace Frehley MySpace

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Last Week In Tweets

Selections from my last week on Twitter. Among items not included in the recap are the bacon kid's dance remix, a McDonalds value meal that you won't find on the menu, and week two of the NFL... Want to join the fun? Feel free to Twit along with me @PaulGargano.

Jackasses of the week:
Kanye West & Terry Moran

• Let's lock Kanye West and Michael Vick in a steel cage and make them fight to the death... Then kill the winner.
(2:10 AM Sep 14th from web)

• I am not offended by bold statements. I am offended that bold statements need be toned down for people who can't think boldy.
(7:08 AM Sep 14th from web, in response to a Facebook debate
over the literal translation of the above statement)

• Word of the day: Churlish. I encourage everyone to use it in a sentence today (for example, to describe Kanye West)...
(7:45 AM Sep 14th from web)

• Kanye strikes again, but this time it's personal: (thanks to @AdamsWorldBlog for pointing it out)
(3:13 PM Sep 16th from web)

• Terry Moran Twittering President Obama's off-the-record calling of Kanye a "jackass" is completely unacceptable.
(8:45 AM Sep 15th from web)

• "Credible" journalism needs to start with the audience: Demand integrity, and stop supporting the tactics of TMZ and Perez.
(8:48 AM Sep 15th from web)

This week's TV theme?
Boobs on the tube...

• New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills are rocking the old-school uniforms tonight on Monday Night Football, I love it!
(3:51 PM Sep 14th from web)

• True Blood finale was a letdown. I felt distant from characters during season two, and wasn't left aching for season three.
(1:39 AM Sep 15th from web)

• Why are most of the guys on Survivor: Somoa wearing only underwear? Except for Russell, he's wearing underwear and a hat.
(10:03 PM Sep 17th from TwitterBerry)

• I probably shouldn't be eating brownies and ice cream and drinking wine while watching The Biggest Loser, right?
(10:20 PM Sep 17th from TwitterBerry)

• Hung season finale could have been better - Too much setup, not enough laughs. Great show though, can't wait for season two!
(10:34 PM Sep 18th from TwitterBerry)

• Gross! RT @AdamsWorldBlog Why not combine the two? RT @PaulGargano My wife wants to watch Golden Girls instead of Lingerie Football League.
(10:50 PM Sep 18th from TwitterBerry)

• Watching season premier of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -
Shouldn't it be called "Curb Yo Enthusiasm"?
(10:42 PM Sep 20th from TwitterBerry)

RIP Patrick Swayze

• "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Patrick Swayze dies after long battle with pancreatic cancer. RIP
(5:09 PM Sep 14th from web)

• Dance, dance dirty, play hockey, move a penny without touching it, rob banks, surf, bounce at bars #ThingsPatrickSwayzeDid
(12:42 AM Sep 20th from TwitterBerry)

• I knew I forgot something: Wong Fu! RT @maidenman664 Don't forget dressing like a woman too #ThingsPatrickSwayzeDid
(12:59 AM Sep 20th from web)

• Megadeth "Endgame" (released today) is AMAZING.
Dave Mustaine is razor sharp and guitarist Chris Broderick shreds.
Best lineup since '98.
(3:33 PM Sep 15th from web)

• If Metallica's 12th studio album is half as good as Megadeth's "Endgame" (their 12th), I'll eat my copy of "Re-Load."
(5:59 PM Sep 18th from web)

• Megadeth has 12 studio albums, and only 4 were recorded with same band! "Peace" "So What" & "Rust" = all different lineups!
(5:21 PM Sep 19th from web)

• President Jimmy Carter blames "You lie!" on racism... Can we blame Carter's statement on senility?
(11:05 AM Sep 16th from web)

• Read article on new lava planet ( and started wondering how matter began.
Now I have a headache.
(11:30 AM Sep 16th from web)

• KITTIE "In The Black"
came out yesterday.
Best album yet from queens of metal, a churning blend of melodic, prog and death.
(4:29 PM Sep 16th from web)

The Metal Edge Years...

• It depends, there are many... As a fan? Journalist? Fun? RT @bigmillion of all your yrs @ Metal Edge, what's yer fav memory?
(11:43 AM Sep 19th from web)

• Fun: Seeing @SebastianBach on B'way w/ @IAmJericho, Adrian Smith & sig others RT @bigmillion what's yer fav Metal Edge mems?
(2:27 PM Sep 19th from web)

• Fan: Flying in twin-engine w/ Bruce Dickinson, friendship with Queensryce... RT @bigmillion what's yer fav Metal Edge mems?
(2:30 PM Sep 19th from web)

• Journalist: 9/11 tribute issue, Dimebag tribute, Megadeth Behind the Music... RT @bigmillion what's yer fav Metal Edge mems?
(2:33 PM Sep 19th from web)

• So many more, including KISS, Ozzy, Drowning Pool, @ZakkWyldeBLS, Poison...
RT @bigmillion what's yer fav Metal Edge mems?
(2:43 PM Sep 19th from web)

• Forgot HUGE one: Writing back cov of David Lee Roth's autobiog. DLR is my muse. RT @bigmillion what's yer fav Metal Edge mems?
(3:04 PM Sep 19th from web)

Want to be a music writer?

• Never stop writing, never stop growing, and never forget why you love music... RT @bigmillion advice to get in music media biz?
(3:14 PM Sep 19th from web)

• Blogs are the new magazines, start your own! Be unique, be yourself, make it an extension of you... (re @bigmillion advice?)
(3:22 PM Sep 19th from web)

• Writers 3 worst enemies: Complacency, bad grammar and not editing your work. Respect your audience! (re @bigmillion advice?)
(3:28 PM Sep 19th from web)

• I'm in checkout line behind a blind person - It's amazing the things we take for granted... Like being able to see and hear.
(6:47 PM Sep 19th from TwitterBerry)

• After watching the blind guy, I'm not going to get angry about the fact that after 15 min in line, I left my wallet at home.
(6:50 PM Sep 19th from TwitterBerry)

Follow Paul Gargano on Twitter: @PaulGargano

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Album Review: MEGADETH

Roadrunner Records

If Dave Mustaine had Megadeth's musical arsenal set to stun on the 2007 release United Abominations, he toggles the switch to kill mode on Endgame, an album that requires no more than a single listen to merit its stripes in any 'best Megadeth album' debate.

Endgame isn't Dave Mustaine writing songs for radio, and it's not Dave Mustaine trying to keep pace with the commercial success of his previous bandmates. What the album is, is Dave Mustaine demonstrating - yet again - why he's one of the most prolific musical forces in heavy metal. Packed with piss and vinegar aplenty, musicianship that slays, and a melodic underbelly that ties the proceedings together like a tender kiss on the forehead after an uncompromising knee to the groin, the album is a scalding blur of blinding speed, progressive dynamics and tenacious attitude.

In other words, it's Megadeth. The band's twelfth studio release, Endgame would have made a white-hot follow-up to Rust In Peace, the 1990 breakthrough that bridged the gap between Megadeth's speed and thrash roots and the more commercial-savvy metal that marked their march into the new millennium. Opening instrumental "Dialectic Chaos" sears with a blazing intensity reminiscent of "Into the Lungs of Hell" - but with the flames fanned even higher - and a tight epicenter of guitars spiral into the frenzied battle cry of "Tonight We Fight!"

Whether inspired by current events ("44 Minutes," "Bite the Hand"), extreme sports ("1320") or the more personal side of life ("The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed with a Kiss" - the most epic cut on an album full of masterpieces), each of the eleven tracks on Endgame are bound together by incendiary performances, from guitar solos that peel the skin off your arms, to a pulverizing bottom end that blisters your feet. Over it all, Mustaine delivers his vocals like a mercenary on a mission to get in, get out, and deliver an ammunition belt full of retribution along the way.

"Bodies" has roots in the same guitar-driven melodic jungle as Countdown To Extinction, while also showing the maturity of 15 years of personal and musical growth, Mustaine pining, "they have all been good friends, just not good friends of mine, their bodies left behind..." before a progressive breakdown leads into a musical freefall as much about temperance as it is full-on metallic release.

The title track is a scalding testament to the players, the returning rhythm section of bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Shawn Drover being joined by guitarist Chris Broderick, a power metal shredder whose previous bands include Jag Panzer and Nevermore. As much as Mustaine has made an art form out of playing musical band members (he hasn't entered the studio twice with the same band since the release of Cryptic Writings in 1997), he's also managed to bolster Megadeth's signature surge of fire and brimstone with each ensuing change. The trend continues here, with what proves to be the most mind-blowing Megadeth lineup since Mustaine-Friedman-Ellefson-Menza made their four-album run in the '90s.

Considering the magnitude of Megadeth's history, it's impossible to understate the magnitude of the following statement: Endgame is the musical apex of Megadeth's quarter-century catalog.

RATING: * * * * *

Megadeth Official Website

Megadeth MySpace

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Last Week In Tweets

Selections from my last week in the world of Twitter. Not included in these festivities are the kid who loves bacon, protecting your chicken from Dokken, and a lot of back-and-forth about vampires... Want to join the fun? Feel free to Twit along with me @PaulGargano.

• You think? That white
album idea seems dicey.
RT @BielerBros68 I think this Beatles thing might just catch on, not sure...
(9:34 AM Sep 9th from web)

President Obama's Congressional speech
on health care reform:

• "Build on what works and fix what doesn't"
-President Obama on Health Care Reform
(5:31 PM Sep 9th from web)

• We interrupt the President for this breaking news: RT @THR
Ellen DeGeneres joins 'Idol' as fourth judge
(5:35 PM Sep 9th from web)

• "To my Progressive friends... And to my Republican friends..."
Did I miss the memo that all Democrats are now "Progressive"?
(5:45 PM Sep 9th from web)

• Why am I cynical? Because politics are just like grade school: Everybody claps when someone else gets bullied or picked on.
(5:55 PM Sep 9th from web)

• Ellen is new 'American Idol' judge after Rosie, Pat Buchanan,
Tracii Guns and the Indian from the Village People declined...
(12:18 AM Sep 10th from web)

Remembering 9/11:

• Remember how you felt on September 11, 2001? Never forget... #WTC RT @sportsguy33 My 9/14/01 column:
(10:05 AM Sep 11th from web)

• Nobody who died on 9/11 got a second chance. Freedom is a privilege, not a right. Respect it. #WTC
(10:06 AM Sep 11th from web)

• RT @realbrookewhite 9/11 reminds me to keep perspective...
it prompted us to be better people,more grateful & respectful...
lets not forget
(10:41 AM Sep 11th from web)

Season premier of the
Melrose Place remake:

• The new Melrose Place is the worst show EVER...
And I can't stop watching.
(10:35 PM Sep 11th from TwitterBerry)

• Melrose Place just gets worse and worse, but the force field protecting the remote from me just gets stronger and stronger.
(10:42 PM Sep 11th from TwitterBerry)

• New strategy: Fast forward through Melrose Place and watch the commercials... I like the new Kohls campaign, good writing.
(10:49 PM Sep 11th from TwitterBerry)

• Warning: Don't move to Melrose Place, because everybody there is shady and can't be trusted. People tend to die there, too.
(11:10 PM Sep 11th from TwitterBerry)

• Just got my special edition @ZakkWyldeBLS Cabbage Patch Kid. Smells kinda funky, but it's fun to cuddle with...
(3:08 PM Sep 12th from web)

• Just messing around... RT @nikkinana so is there really a Zakk Wylde cabbage patch doll or were you just messing with us?
(8:01 PM Sep 12th from TwitterBerry)

• The US takes the concert experience for granted. Want proof? Watch the South American scenes in "Flight 666"
- Goosebumps.
(7:44 PM Sep 12th from TwitterBerry)

The vampire phenomenon:

• Finally all caught up with True Blood in time for Sunday's finale...
It was all believable until they made the vampires fly.
(12:38 AM Sep 12th from TwitterBerry)

• Do the "Vampire Diaries" writers think nobody else saw "The Crow"? Not only are some lines the same, there's also a crow...
(11:37 PM Sep 12th from TwitterBerry)

• Pop-culture vampire question: With all the women there are to prey on, why do they need to always fight over the same one?
(11:47 PM Sep 12th from TwitterBerry)

Opening weekend
of the NFL season:

@TheRealTMR @EricStangel And what's the lesson that Vick, Burress, Stallworth, McNair, and Marshall are sending the kids?
(12:10 PM Sep 12th from TwitterBerry) in response to:
Brett Favre named captain. A lesson 4 you kids, You can show up late and still be rewarded over those who put their time in
(by @EricStangel, 11:00 AM Sep 12th from web )

• Close your eyes: Harry Connick Jr sounds just like Frank Sinatra. Now open your eyes... He looks like Morton Downey Jr...
(5:39 PM Sep 10th from web, during NBC pre-game kickoff)

• Al Michaels during Titans defense intros: "We'll start putting up sub-titles next week." WOW! (Cue up Rev Al Sharpton...)
(5:53 PM Sep 10th from web)

• Already sick of hearing "noise, intensity, nerves" a factor for @Mark_Sanchez this year - USC is akin to an NFL franchise!
(10:46 AM Sep 13th from TwitterBerry)

• Everytime Favre gets sacked, it'll be because he missed training camp? Please... When he made training camp, he threw INTs!
(11:32 AM Sep 13th from TwitterBerry)

• Donovan McNabb has a broken rib? Defenses are warming up for Michael Vick. I can't wait for justice to be served NFL style.
(2:39 PM Sep 13th from TwitterBerry)

• Frank Gore was so open on that 49ers touchdown, they should change his number to 7-11. Way to blow the coverage, Cardinals.
(4:13 PM Sep 13th from TwitterBerry)

Follow Paul Gargano on Twitter: @PaulGargano

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget...

...the lives lost, sacrifices made, hardships fought and struggles overcome to assure our freedom in the face of adversity, and our strength in the wake of terror...

Always remember September 11, 2001.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Can an Apple a Day Keep Politicians at Bay?

In his speech to Congress yesterday, our President charted his course for health care reform, providing all the right soundbites to help convince the country that his initiatives are a vital step towards a greater America.

And in the grand scheme of things, he sounded quite convincing.

The problem is, while broad sweeping strokes sound good in prime time, it's the devil in the details that results in political deadlocks.

On Wednesday, that devil proved to be Representative Joe Wilson (pictured above), the South Carolina Republican who yelled, "You lie!" in the midst of President Obama's comments regarding illegal aliens and health care benefits.

While there is no denying that what Wilson said was unprofessional and out of line, there is also no denying that Democrats are guilty of the same behavior. Difference is, when more than half the chamber does it collectively, it's seen as acceptable. When one person does it on his own, it's an uncalled for voice of dissent.

Every time President Obama paid reference to our former President in a negative light, made any suggestion of partisan chicanery, or gestured any remotely conservative ideal with even a fleeting tone of sarcasm, every Democrat in the room leapt to their feet to voice their approval with a thunderous round of applause.

And every Republican sat in their seat and sulked.

It's like grade school all over again.

The bullies have the power, and it's a mob rules mentality. If you don't like getting picked on, get off the playground.

Problem is, these are grown men we're talking about, not adolescents starving for attention. Instead of pushing, shoving, tripping and punching, we have snide remarks cloaked in speeches, rapturous support of any mockery of the other side, and a generally uncomfortable feeling for those of us trying to educate ourselves while we watch from home.

Does a mention of health care reform really need to reference the war in Iraq? It's apples and oranges, and political bait-and-switch at its best.

How do we sway people to a cause that needs more support in public opinion polls? Remind them that it's not nearly as bad as the war the last President started... "You mean you can spend this much money on a war in Iraq, but you can't spend less money on health care?"

If only it was that simple.

In theory, I believe everything President Obama is saying about our country's need for health care reform. Problem is, I'm so turned off by the grand-standing mentality that is rampant in politics, I find it hard to truly get inspired to do more than be cynical.

A friend of mine who works for a prominent politician likened his allegiance to his party to my being a fan of the New York Yankees or Green Bay Packers. "This is my sports," he's told me on more than one occasion. "And I'm going to cheer for my side just like you cheer for your favorite team."

Not quite.

When I heard that the Packers might have been interested in signing convicted animal abuser and killer Michael Vick this summer, I swore on principal that I'd no longer be a fan of the team if management made the decision to bring the scumbag to Green Bay.

My friend, on the other hand, told me that - and I quote - "any Democratic initiative is better than any Republican initiative, regardless of what it accomplishes."

That's what being tied to a party is all about, he tells me.

And that is why I swear allegiance to no political party.

It's all a joke. It's a bunch of grade school bullies puffing their chests and playing the role of peacock, engaging in alpha-male posturing that makes them feel better about themselves, and leaves the American people to pay the tab.

There is no sound argument against the need for radical changes to our country's health care infrastructure. Yet rather than working together for the best interests of the people that elect them, our sworn leaders are nit-picking and playing Polly Anna as they hide behind Robert's Rules of Order.

The unfortunate reality is, too many of today's politicians are coming across as little more than rhetoric spewing mouthpieces who'd rather cloak their insecurities in partisan policy than work together towards a common goal.

We need a new health care system in this country. What we don't need, is the years of prolonged drama that it will take to get us there.

Unfortunately, it appears that we can't have one without the other.