Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avenged Sevenfold drummer dead at 28

The drummer of the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold was found dead in his Huntington Beach, CA, home Monday.

Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, 28 (far right, above), was found unresponsive when authorities were called to his southern California home yesterday. "It appeared to be natural causes," said Lt. John Domingo of the Huntington Beach Police Department in a statement.

An autopsy and coroner's investigation are currently underway to determine the specific cause of death - "natural causes" is the description authorities use when no obvious external force is apparent, and further investigation is necessary...

To continue reading, please click here.

To read a June 2006 interview I did with Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows where we discuss The Rev and his musical roots,
please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler checks into rehab

In a move that will hopefully bring a sense of closure to the ongoing drama in the Aerosmith camp, frontman Steven Tyler has checked himself into rehab for an addiction to painkillers.

This is Tyler's second rehabilitation stay in two years, but first since his public back-and-forth with his bandmates about wanting a solo career this fall.

Said Tyler in a statement Tuesday: "I love Aerosmith; I love performing as the lead singer in Aerosmith. I am grateful for all of the support and love I am receiving and am committed to getting things taken care of."

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tom Morello remembers Joe Strummer...
There would be no Rage without the Clash

"Joe Strummer was my greatest inspiration, my favorite singer of all time, and my hero."

Those were the words written by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello after the death of Clash frontman Joe Strummer on Dec. 22, 2002 (pictured above, right). Seven years later, as a testament to not only one of the most influential players in the history of punk rock, but also one of the most renowned forces in music, I'd like to share more of Morello's stirring tribute.

While many of today's younger music fans may not remember or know the Clash, they surely know Rage Against The Machine - rest assured, as Morello recalls, there would be no Rage without the Clash, who he was introduced to while working at his high school newspaper...

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Rage Against the Machine vs Simon Cowell:
The U.K.'s unexpected American Idols

Don't expect to hear Rage Against The Machine on American Idol judge Simon Cowell's Christmas playlist this holiday season.

The reunited Los Angeles rockers - backed by the 500,000-member Facebook group 'Rage Against The Machine for Christmas No. 1' - beat X-Factor winner Joe McElderry for the coveted top spot on the U.K. singles chart this week... With a song that is as old as McElderry.

Referred to as 'Christmas No. 1,' the top of the Christmas-week U.K. singles chart used to be a hard-fought prize of the British music scene - until Cowell's X-Factor [think British American Idol] emerged and left all the competition in its wake.

For four years running, the annual X-Factor champion has claimed the Christmas No. 1.

But not this year, when a grass roots campaign begun by Rage fans Jon and Tracy Morter helped make the band's "Killing in the Name" the fastest-selling download in U.K. history, and the first download-only Christmas No. 1...

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Monday, December 21, 2009

R.I.P. Brittany Murphy - Her Musical Legacy

Brittany Murphy is best known for her starring roles in the movies 8 Mile and Clueless, but she also left her mark on the world of electronic music, where she collaborated with acclaimed trance DJ Paul Oakenfold.

Murphy - who died Sunday morning after suffering a cardiac arrest - sang on Oakenfold's "Faster Kill Pussycat," the opening track and lead single from his 2006 release A Lively Mind.

"Brittany Murphy was an amazing talent, but above all she was an amazing person," said Oakenfold Monday afternoon in a Twitter post. "She will be greatly missed. Our deepest condolences go out to her family."

In addition to providing all of the vocals on "Faster Kill Pussycat," Murphy also starred in the song's video.

To continue reading and watch the "Faster Kill Pussycat" video, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brooke White to Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I've been called a Christmas dork before, and I'm sure I'll be called one again - but why should the holidays be any different than the rest of the year? Here are a half-dozen albums (and an EP for good measure) that I'm playing in steady rotation this holiday season - from my stereo to yours, season's greetings!

BROOKE WHITE - iTunes exclusive holiday EP

Brooke White's 3-track holiday EP could melt even the iciest Grinch heart. She covers "Away in a Manger" and "Blue Christmas" with an angelic flutter, but the real gem is her original "California Christmas," a yuletide ode to palm trees wrapped in lights and making angels in sand - I never thought I'd hear a song that could combat the melancholy of spending holidays away from my family and their white Christmases in the northeast, but this one does it.

TORI AMOS - Midwinter Graces

Midwinter Graces is a masterful blend of classic Christmas and modern spunk, all hung by Tori Amos like white lights around a noble Christmas spruce. Her simple, baroque style emphasizes an angel's voice floating atop a cloud of piano and refined instrumentation, creating a whirlwind of spirited energy. One of the best holiday albums I've heard in a long time, and an instant season's classic.

STING - If on a Winter's Night

If On A Winter's Night isn't a Christmas album, it is a seasonal album, the classically-minded collection of carols, lullabies, hymns and confessionals embracing the spirit of winter and all of it's raw, unbridled energy. Instead of decking the halls with boughs of holly, Sting opens the castle window and bundles up in front of the fire, allowing the cold to creep through the centuries-old stone walls, and the music to pass like a blustering wind passes through a forest.


Since their humble beginnings more than a decade ago, Trans-Siberian Orchestra have been as much a part of my Christmas traditions as trimming a tree and last-minute shopping. Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the story of a young girl who can't be home for Christmas, a father who wants nothing more than to have her there, and a total stranger who makes it happen. The Lost Christmas Eve and The Christmas Attic complete TSO's Christmas trilogy of albums with similar brilliance, all three being the crowning jewels of my holiday music collection.

HALFORD - Winter Songs

The greatest thing about Winter Songs isn't the mere fact that it is a Christmas album from the Metal God, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. The greatest thing about this album is, with one or two exceptions, it's one that even sweet Aunt Edna could listen to without squirming in her seasonal frock. Halford's voice is custom-made for the album's traditional Christmas fare, and a handful of the performances are worthy of any cathedral celebrating a midnight Christmas mass.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!

To read more on each of these albums, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Jack Bauer interrogates Santa Claus

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joan Jett can kick Edward and Jacob's asses!
(but can Kristen Stewart eclipse 'Twilight'?)

Kristen Stewart - yes the megastar who turned frumpy Bella Swan into a sex symbol in the Twilight series - will be starring as Joan Jett in The Runaways this spring.

I can't be the only Joan Jett fan that appreciates the irony, and I'm sure I'm not the only Joan Jett fan that can't wait to see how the band's story translates onto the silver screen this spring.

Lita Ford wanted nothing to do with the bio-pic, but I'm willing to give Jett and writer/director Floria Sigismondi the benefit of the doubt on this one. I've been a fan of Sigismondi's since her Marilyn Manson/Living Things video directing days, and Jett makes me wish I could be a lesbian, because at least then I'd stand a chance with the hottest woman in rock and roll.

To watch The Runaways movie trailer, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

No mo-fo Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist

John Frusciante has quit the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

While there has been speculation that this has been the case for months now, the guitarist (second from right in above picture) confirmed the news on his website Wednesday night.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have had seven guitarists since forming more than 25 years ago, but Frusciante was the mainstay, playing on Mother's Milk, Blood Sugar Sex Magic, Californication, By The Way and Stadium Arcadium.

Though the band hasn't commented on Frusciante's departure, it was reported by the British music outlet NME that guitarist Josh Klinghoffer - who has ironically appeared on Frusciante's solo albums - is the new guitarist.

To read my full article, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Sting's celebrates the season, not the reason

Sting's If On A Winter's Night isn't a Christmas album, it is a seasonal album - rather than celebrating the holidays in this classically-minded collection of carols, lullabies, hymns and confessionals, the iconic musical journeyman engages the spirit of winter and all of it's raw, unbridled energy.

To even say that some of the tracks flirt with Christmas cheer would be an injustice - for the most part, the proceedings are more melancholic than they are joyous, and more reflective than they are celebratory. Instead of decking the halls with boughs of holly, Sting opens the castle window and bundles up in front of the fire, allowing the cold to creep through the centuries-old stone walls, and the music to pass through him like a blustering wind passes through a forest...

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lady Gaga kicks Kid Cudi off Monster Ball Tour

Someone forgot to tell Kid Cudi that if you're opening for one of the biggest stars in music, you shouldn't punch their fans in the face.

Not that anyone should need to be told that, but seeing as Kid Cudi is a Kanye West protege, well, we shouldn't take matters of common courtesy for granted.

Kid Cudi was removed from Lady Gaga's Monster Ball tour Wednesday, only a few days after he punched a fan in the face during a weekend performance in Vancouver. R&B breakthrough Jason Derulo was announced as his replacement.

You really want to know why Susan Boyle, Andrea Bocelli and Michael Buble are tearing up the charts? Last time I checked, they weren't hijacking the stage from teenage girls on MTV, beating their girlfriends, or - not to be outdone - beating their fans.

Suddenly a kiss from Adam Lambert isn't looking so bad!

To watch the video of Kid Cudi coldcocking a fan, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2010
Dancing queens, but no Paul or Gene...

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2010, and it offers a little something for everyone, from pop and prog to punk and reggae.

But still not the names I've been waiting to see - KISS and Rush.

This year's inductees into the Cleveland, OH, shrine to all things rock and roll (all things except KISS and Rush, that is) include ABBA (pictured), Genesis, the Stooges, Jimmy Cliff and the Hollies.

I'll spare you my Canadian power trio diatribe for another day, and just move on to the merits of this year's class - yes, even the Hollies, who for the life of me I still don't think I've ever heard before.

I guess they all can't rock and roll all night... Or even part of any day.

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rumors include Stones, Muse, Faith No More...

Let the lineup speculation begin - the tenth annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will be held April 16-18, 2010.

While concert promoters Goldenvoice haven't announced any acts for the eleventh incarnation of America's most acclaimed music festival, they have confirmed the Coachella weekend and have officially begun selling pre-sale ticket packages, including layaway plans. Visit www.coachella.com for details.

Though nobody has been officially confirmed for the three-day festival - which will be held on the same weekend as last year, which included headliners Paul McCartney, The Cure and The Killers - many artists have already started talking about their plans.

My wish list? FAITH NO MORE and DAFT PUNK headlining Friday night, an improbable TALKING HEADS reunion followed by FATBOY SLIM on Saturday night (Heads frontman David Byrne and Fatboy Slim joined forces for Here Lies Love, a collaboration to be released Feb. 23), and DAVID BOWIE sending us all home happy with Sunday evening's closing set. I know that's not going to happen, but let a man dream...

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Friday, December 11, 2009

COMMENTARY: Morrissey live in Los Angeles

I'm admittedly not the biggest Morrissey fan in the world - indifferent would be an appropriate word. I've always appreciated the Smiths more than his solo material, and have been to three shows before, all of which I've left partially through (early '90s in Milwaukee, about 10 years ago in New York, and Coachella last spring) - those factors considered, I thoroughly enjoyed his set last night, and left the Gibson Amphitheatre with a new appreciation for the man, the myth and the legend that is Moz.

A number of fans commented afterwords that it was one of his weaker shows that they've seen. Without the frame of reference of a couple dozen (literally) shows, I was impressed with what I saw. Let's face it, you can't hide from the headlines, and my opinion heading in had been shaped by his most recent escapades, from his "I smell burning flesh" tantrum at Coachella, to walking offstage after getting hit by a cup, etc. He's got a reputation for being a diva, and there's definitely a trainwreck appeal that - as a casual listener, not a devoted fan - you can't quite escape.

But not in Los Angeles last night...

To continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Smashing Pumpkins "A Song for a Son"

One down, 43 to go - The Smashing Pumpkins have begun the process of releasing their entire new album for free on the internet.

“A Song for a Son” is the first song from the band's upcoming album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, a 44-song release that band mastermind Billy Corgan says will be issued one song at a time, for free, via the internet.

An epic track, “A Song for a Son” has more in common with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman than it does with heavier notes in Pumpkins history, despite a heaping of mid-song fuzz that reverberates with a sonic rumble reminiscent of the band's earlier daze.

To read Corgan's thought on the track - and the album - please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Adam Lambert's AMA kiss-off

Adam Lambert is good, but his closing performance on last night's American Music Awards made it pointedly clear why Kris Allen was the winner of last season's American Idol.

Instead of upping the ante visually and theatrically, we got four minutes of co-ed crotch grabbing and genitalia rubbing, capped by a "shocking" kiss with his keyboard player that looked more like Hannibal Lector biting his latest victim's face off.

When Marilyn Manson did it, it was dangerous. When Lady Gaga does it, it's gripping. Adam Lambert just makes it all look goofy and uncomfortable. As for the David Bowie and Freddie Mercury comparisons, show some respect - Adam Lambert can't even get a rehearsed kiss right, let alone deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as two of music's all-time greats.

"All hail freedom of expression and artistic integrity," Lambert said via Twitter following his performance.

Since when is going in for a commando kiss that looked as comfortable as prison rape defined as "freedom of expression"? I call it a whorish attempt at shock value, and the type of cheap publicity that is insulting to the gay community...

To finish reading this piece, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One of the scariest things I've ever read...

"A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation's largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest."

That is the opening sentence of an article in the US & World section of today's Los Angeles Times. Quite frankly, that's all I need to read to never eat movie popcorn again. If you need more convincing, click here to read the rest of the article...

Now I know why every time I eat popcorn at the movies, I feel like Jabba The Hutt has taken residence in my stomach.

Since I'm feeling like a killjoy today, you know how Cold Stone Creamery tastes so fantastic? It also makes you look ass-tastic, and in need of pants with e-lastic. Yahoo's report on best and worst ice cream nutritional values wasn't remotely as shocking as the popcorn piece, but it's definitely worth a glance - click here to read.

For more fun and excitement, please join me on Twitter (@PaulGargano) and Facebook. You know you want to...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Slipknot at the Palladium

Slipknot aren’t sneaking up on anybody at this point in their career. They’ve spent the past decade turning the metal world end-over-end, their reputation preceding them as a highlight reel of masked vomit, broken-bones, head-banging, hair-whipping and apocalyptic mayhem plays in the background.

They became a product of their own hype before their hype even had a chance to prove itself, to the point where their biggest story is often their mere survival

At the recently re-opened Palladium in Hollywood, CA, Thursday night, Slipknot not only lived up to the challenge of their hype, but they left it broken, beaten and scarred into submission. No, Slipknot aren’t going to sneak up on anybody… But the sheer power and razor-sharp onslaught of their performance just might.

To finish reading this review, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jason Miller releases solo debut, an Americana departure from goth-inspired Godhead

Jason Charles Miller, lead singer of the rock band Godhead, has released his first solo album, Last to Go Home.

The five-song EP is a departure from his work at the helm of industrial-rock innovators Godhead, and introduces a softer side to Miller’s personality, one where he unplugs his soul on songs that are carried by nothing more than evocative vocals and stripped-down acoustics.

The tracks feature guest performances by Motown legend Brenda Lee Eager [Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder], guitarist Shane Gibson [Korn], bassist Marty O’Brien [We Are The Fallen, Tommy Lee] and classical concert cellist Tina Guo. Drawing on influences including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson, the five original songs are written and produced by Miller, and blur the lines between Americana, alt-country, singer-songwriters and folk music.

To finish reading this article, and also to watch Miller and actor/comedian Hal Sparks cover "Goin' Blind" by KISS in Covers on the Roof #8, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Monday, October 26, 2009

LIVE REVIEW: U2 at the Rose Bowl

U2, The Black Eyed Peas
The Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
October 25, 2009

Touring the world with a stage production that is without rival in the history of live music, U2 managed the improbable at the Rose Bowl Sunday night, delivering a set in which the colossal staging was dwarfed by the magic of the band’s performance.

The magic came in the form of celebration, Bono dropping to his knees and raising his arms high above his head during “Beautiful Day,” and a sold-out crowd of nearly 100,000 responding in kind. Opening with a trio of tracks from new album No Line on the Horizon– “Breathe,” “Get on Your Boots” and “Magnificent” – Bono , guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen not only set the pace for the rest of the evening’s music, they set the tone for the evening’s mood.

“The future needs a kiss,” Bono sang in the opening line of “Get on Your Boots,” and U2 meant it.

The 360 Tour – which concludes its current leg Wednesday night in Vancouver, BC – was never meant to be a rehash of old hits (many were missing from the 24-song set) but rather, a beacon of hope in a world where hope is at a premium. The beacon was cast from the stage, illuminated by the crowd, and – especially in the case of the Rose Bowl show, which was being broadcast live to five continents via YouTube – reflected in waves throughout the world.

To finish reading this review, and also to watch U2's Rose Bowl performance in its entirety, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cake go green

The band Cake are going the distance once again. This time, it's for the environment.

Best known for their hit singles "The Distance," "Never Enough" and their 2007 B-sides and Rarities compilation featuring covers of Frank Sinatra, Black Sabbath and Kenny Rogers, Cake are the indie darlings of alternative music.

Their sixth studio album, currently scheduled for a Spring 2010 release, will be entirely green, as Cake are writing, rehearsing and recording the album solely with solar power.

To finish reading this article and watch a video of Cake transforming their studio to solar energy, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Michael Jackson Single Co-Written by Paul Anka

Michael Jackson's new single "This is It" was co-written by '60s teen idol and songwriting legend Paul Anka, according to a report issued today by CNN.

The single is the title track to the Michael Jackson's This is It soundtrack, which will be released in America October 27 by Sony Music Entertainment. The Michael Jackson's This is It movie also debuts on October 27, with widespread worldwide release October 28.

"This is It" was originally written and recorded in 1983 by Jackson and Anka, but wasn't completed in time to be included on Anka's album Walk a Fine Line.

To listen to "This is It" and continue reading, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for eXaminer.com.
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

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: http://tinyurl.com/rc48sw (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 http://tinyurl.com/l2vb9d
(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? http://tinyurl.com/qov6k4
(11:05 AM Sep 16th from web)

• Read article on new lava planet (http://tinyurl.com/otguyb) 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 http://bit.ly/bL4bL
(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: http://bit.ly/xoZvo
(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. http://tinyurl.com/l2xzfv #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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

...To Rape, Pillage and Plunder (the Packers)

To hear the pundits talk about Brett Favre, you'd think he shot himself in the foot with a gun in a nightclub... Or killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol... Or was murdered by a girl young enough to be his daughter, who he was cheating on his wife with as he lead a double life... Or tested his entrepreneurial skills by funding a dog-fighting ring, then demonstrated his hands-on leadership abilities by not only breeding the pitbulls, but also raising them to fight, and torturing and killing the losing pups.

No, Brett Favre is clearly the NFL athlete most deserving of a media outcry, because he not only changed his mind, but he did it more than once.

Why are jails overcrowded? It's all those damn wafflers, I tell ya!

I admit it, I'm a Brett Favre apologist. I have a shelf full of Favre memorabilia in my office. I was one of his first interviews when he renewed his contract with the Green Bay Packers in 1994 and I worked for the Associated Press. And I was standing on a frozen Lambeau Field sideline when he led the Packers to a 16-12 first round playoff victory over the Detroit Lions on Dec. 31 of that same year.

My dad had Joe DiMaggio. I had Brett Favre. My dad will never get to see Joe D play again, so forgive me for reveling in the fact that I can now say that I "have" Brett Favre for at least one more season.

Is it really that bad that he changed his mind about retirement... Again?

Apparently it is, which leaves me a bit perplexed.

Michael Vick funded a dog-fighting operation where he raised, trained, fought and killed helpless dogs. This isn't a tax issue, where he can blame his accountant or business manager. This isn't even a DUI, where he can say he wasn't aware of what he was doing when it happened. This was a calculated and callous act that he did repeatedly, and without remorse.

It was an act that made it pointedly clear that Michael Vick didn't respect the NFL, or his role as one of the game's biggest superstars. If he did, he probably would have thought twice about moonlighting as a thug.

Yet the NFL welcomed him back with open arms and a laughable two-game suspension, saying that he has served his debt to society and deserves a second chance.

I say he lost his right to a second chance in the NFL when he decided that his place as role model and public icon was less important than the sick satisfaction he got by engaging in social activities previously relegated to gang-bangers and miscreants.

That doesn't mean Michael Vick doesn't deserve a second chance in life, it just means that he already made it pretty clear how little the NFL meant to him. To his credit, he did it with the same flair he exhibits on the field, spitting in the face of any morally grounded and warm-blooded football fan in the process.

Michael Vick has already proven that he can't handle life in the limelight, so why can't his second chance come in the real world? Remember that education he got from Virginia Tech? Why can't his second chance come on the shoulders of that, rather than in the game of football that he's already disgraced?

But I digress from the issue at hand... Brett Favre's the bad guy!

Damn Brett Favre, for playing football with the same zest and enthusiasm now, that he did 15 years ago. Damn him for playing the game with a smile on his face, and a vibrancy that shames guys half his age. And most of all, damn him for feeling scorned by the team he spent his entire Hall of Fame career with, and choosing to exact his revenge on the football field, rather than doing something illegal, shameful, and potentially hazardous to the world we all share.

Damn Brett Favre and his simplistic, down-home view of the world. Why can't he learn something from Plaxico Burress, Donte Stallworth, Steve McNair or Michael Vick? These guys are the NFL's real role models. These are the guys that embody the true spirit of professional sports, and the competitive spark we hope to ignite in today's youth.

Is decisiveness too much to ask for? We don't care what you decide to do, just stick to your guns and do it! Own your decision! Know that whatever you do, we'll be there to support you... Even if it might cost someone their life.

As long as you don't change your mind.

And if you do change your mind? You run the risk of being no better than Brett Favre - an embarrassment to the game of football, and a mockery to the NFL, where the NBA and Vince McMahon have apparently become the new moral compass.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GIDGET (the Taco Bell dog)
1994-July 21, 2009

Ed's note: Mini (my Editorial Assistant, pictured under "Support Staff" in the column to the right) asked to say a few words in memory of one of her favorite fellow canines, who died last night after suffering a stroke. After all the help she gives me screening albums, editing manuscripts, rolling calls and doing internet research, how could I refuse? --Paul

It's not easy being small. Just ask Russell from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Bobby from The Brady Bunch, or Verne Troyer.

It's even harder for us dogs.

"Why don't you just get a cat?" "Your dog looks like a rat..." "Oh my god, you have a pet bat?" "Ooh, what a vicious watchdog..."

Yeah, you humans are really creative with your insults.

Sorry we can't all be as big as Golden Retrievers, Labs or Border Collies, but don't blame your dog envy on us. People say we're the small-minded ones, but we've got room for everyone in our packs.

And I like to think of Gidget as a canine version of Michael Jackson.

The King of Pop opened doors to MTV, and Gidget opened doggy doors to American pop culture. Michael Jackson transcended color lines, and Gidget transcended fast food's burger barrier. MJ penned "We Are The World," and Gidget coined "Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

And just like Michael Jackson, Gidget loved to make little kids smile. (Come on, just because my dad won't go there, doesn't mean I can't!)

Nothing against 101 Dalmations, Spuds Mackenzie, or Petey from Our Gang, but how much butt did Mojo kick in Transformers? Reese Witherspoon didn't have a Great Dane by her side when she graduated at the top of her class in Legally Blonde, and Paris Hilton doesn't walk around Beverly Hills with an armful of St. Bernards.

No, it doesn't count that Perez Hilton looks like a St. Bernard.

It doesn't matter if we're big or small, most dogs are wired the same. We can't get enough of our people, we love having our bellies rubbed, and every once in a while we'll bark for absolutely no reason at all.

Gidget reminded America that dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and it's okay to have ears as big as your head. For that, she'll forever hold a place in the hearts of us small - and sometimes awkward looking - dogs everywhere.

The next time you get your dog a side order of chicken at the Taco Bell drive-thru, take a moment to thank Gidget... And if you don't buy your dog chicken at the Taco Bell drive-thru, get with the program! You think you're the only one who quiero Taco Bell?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

November 4, 1916 - July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite was a bit before my time. That's not to say that I don't remember him, but I remember the mythology, not the man.

My parents had yet to meet when he broke the news of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination on Friday, November 22, 1963. The Apollo 11 lunar landing happened two years before my birth, and I was barely walking in the waning days of the Vietnam War.

When Walter Cronkite retired from his post as anchor of the CBS Evening News on March 6, 1981, I was admittedly more interested in baseball scores and being a nine year old kid than the hum-drum last broadcast of a silver-haired guy who talked really slow, let alone about things that I barely gave a second thought.

If only I knew then, what I know now.

I wrote a thesis on the Vietnam War in college, and you couldn't write about the war without reading about Walter Cronkite. When he declared that the war was unwinnable during the Tet Offensive in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson stated that if he lost the support of Cronkite, he'd lose the support of middle America.

When Walter Cronkite died yesterday at the age of 92, it was more than an iconic newscaster that passed away. He brought with him the integrity of the American media, and the trust that President Johnson knew was integral to any straw poll and public opinion.

Walter Cronkite was more than just a news anchor, he was the most trusted man in America. What strikes me most about his passing, is the people talking about how he made them feel. The emotions he stirred. The calm he portrayed. When he spoke, people listened. Trust was inherent in his tone. Nobody questioned a single word he ever said.

Today, we question everything.

In the modern age of infinite television channels and instant internet feeds, ratings are won by breaking news first and fastest, not articulately and accurately. It's not about being calm and composed, it's about creating hype. And it's not about sense and sensibility, it's about sensationalism.

There used to be an air of finality to the news. Now we watch the news expecting it to change if we watch long enough. And if it doesn't change, we can just change the channel, where chances are good someone is reporting something else.

In the quarter-century since Walter Cronkite's retirement, news has evolved from something that is broken with integrity and reported with an air of nobility, to something that is broken in pieces, and sent over the air with little more than a concern for ratings.

Long before America was addicted to Red Bull and Twitters, Walter Cronkite knew that slow was the way to go. While the average American speaks at a rate of approximately 165 words per minute, Cronkite paced his newscasts at 3/4 that speed. He understood that delivery had just as much impact on the news, as the news itself.

Walter Cronkite was distinguished by his finesse. Today's newscasters rely on little more than flair.

Yes, that's symptomatic of the world we live in. And that's exactly why the passing of Walter Cronkite represents so much more than the loss of a television news anchor.

It is the end of an era in American journalism.