Thursday, March 28, 2013

Well maybe I'll come back for another round. I actually miss doing these posts. There are songs I hear all the time that spark memories and I still have strong opinions as to "I just don't get it". Maybe I can find a few minutes here and there to post some stuff.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Dramatic Turn of Events by Dream Theater

Well, it is finally out and I got it. The new Dream Theater album, the first without long-time drummer Mike Portnoy. After finding out that Mike Mangini was the “new Mike”, I was cautiously optimistic. I didn't know much about Mangini's drumming other than he was at one time (and may still be) the world's fastest drummer. Other than that, nothing. All I have to say is holy shit. I am a HUGE Portnoy fan, but I have to admit the drumming on the new album is amazing. Many of his fills are very similar but not an exact copy of Portnoy. His hand work and mastering of odd time is off the chart. Also, I love the album. While I love the Train of Thought-type of DT with its heavy and riff-laden songs, this new album does harken back to earlier DT and at least to me is a breath of fresh air. Is every song awesome, no, but overall you can see that the departure of Portnoy had a direct effect on the direction and execution of the album as a whole. Petrucci wrote most of the music and lyrics and it shows. There is a cleaner sound with more piano with Jordan Rudess taking a more active role in writing the music. I could go through each song and break them down, but that is easier said than done with prog and I just don't feel like it. Go and find the free previews of the songs the band put out leading up to the release date to get a taste. Assuming Mangini stays in the band (if recent interviews are any indication, there are some seriously burned bridges so it looks like he will stay for a while) I can see any subsequent albums being even more refined and “proggier”, which is a good thing. To sum it up, I love the new album. I still love Portnoy and wish him nothing but the best, but DT must go on and have started on a pretty good note.

If you have heard the album, tell me what you think.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hard to Find the Time/I Just Don't Get It.

I have to say that this music blog thing us fun but I just can't seem to find the time to keep it going. I love reading all the blogs in my blog roll and wonder how everyone seems to keep up with it. When I started this blog I actually thought I could make a few bucks doing this and realize I do not have the time to put in to do that. So I am now going to post when I can, respond to other blogs when I can and just have fun with this thing. So I hope everyone else will come along with me as I have made some good connections via the blogosphere and would like to continue to do so.

So with that in mind, let's have some fun. I loved doing the “I just don't get it” and I want to do another one.

Punk Rock

I hate it. Punk Rock was supposedly the antidote for the excesses of prog rock. To me I just say that is a bunch of crap. OK, so let me get this straight, two chords and yelling about how being put down is cool is better than Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull etc., etc. I don't think so. Those guys actually KNOW how to play their instruments and formulate coherent lyrics (although deep at times). To me, punk rock was the beginning of the end for rock and roll in the sense that after that, everything in rock went so simple that musicality became a thing of the past. Can you say – The 80's, Grunge Rock, Rap . All those are based on the premise of simplicity. I am not a huge fan of the 80's hair metal but at least they knew how to play and had songs with guitar leads in them and for that I guess I miss that a bit (not the songs but the format).

To give you an example, I am a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain but he has in numerous episodes of his show “No Reservations” expressed his love for The Ramones. He even said he wanted to find Jethro Tull and punch him (he obviously does not realize that there is no one in the band named Jethro Tull). That type of simple mindedness is exactly what I get tired of. I understand music is one of the ultimate forms of expression and opinions run rampant, but that type of one-sided “write-offs” to prove a point drives me nuts. Although I love prog, I still listen to a lot of other things (except rap, but I will save that for another episode of “I Just Don't Get It”). I played in a prog rock band, blues band, southern rock band, and (gasp!), a wedding band so I know music fairly well from the 50's to today. I have opinions like everyone else but at least mine founded in years of exploring the rock genre in general.

I hear every summer of all the amazing music festivals being held in Europe and I get jealous. For those of you old enough to remember Monsters of Rock, that type of thing happens in almost every country in Europe. What do we get: Ozzfest cool but too much death metal, Lollapalooza has lost its foundations, Van's Warped Tour, no thanks, too close to punk (emo sucks too).

To bring this all back around, I blame punk (along with rap) for the crappy state that music is in today. Most of what is played on the radio toady is either classic rock, (which is great but you can only listen to so many times), crappy dance tunes, rap/hip-hop which makes my skin crawl and “alternative”, most of which is just lame. Music in general is so watered down that good rock is hard to find. It's out there, and what ever it is, is in the eye of the beholder, but maybe there is still a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately the record executives and radio managers still want to force feed us the same old crap like Blitzkrieg Bop and Anarchy in the UK. Just crap.

I hope you know where I am coming from. Thanks for letting me vent and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What bands have albums coming out that you want to get?

I still love going and buying CD. Call me old-school but I burned a ton of CD's back in the day but I still have a tendency to listen to the ones I purchased. Maybe its a visual thing, or that I don't like looking through stacks of unordered CD's to find the one I want. When cassettes were the thing, I had hundreds of them and went out and got everyone from the bands I liked. When CD's became the norm, I did not have the $$$ to replace all those cassettes; so enter the likes of Napster. Fast forward a bunch of years and I am at a crossroads of the CD vs. Mp3 dilemma. I have decided that I have no interest in downloading mp3 from places like iTunes because I guess I still want the physical copy to do with what I want. There are times when I like to listen to things randomly on an mp3 player and there are those times when you want to here the entire CD from beginning to end. I realize that you can do that on an mp3 player as well but I have mine set to shuffle and it is a pain to change it while driving. Also, it goes back to the visual thing, I see Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and I just HAVE to hear the 2nd cd from front to back. I think many of you know what I am getting at here. The moral of the story is that I think the dilemma is over, I want to buy the CD's.

So what does this have to do with the title of this blog? Well, my wish list of CD's to purchase goes on forever partly because I am still finding new music I want and partly because I am slowly replacing many of the burned versions of CD's I have (like Rush and Jethro Tull). I rarely have a new cd to get when it first comes out except for Dream Theater but there are several cd's that I want to get right when they come out. But there are several coming out in the near future that I am excited to get. Here we go:
  1. Symphony X – Iconoclast (June 2011); I just got this one. A 2-CD album of progressive metal. It was a bit of a disappointment only because many of the songs sound the same but a bad Symphony X is still better than anything you hear on the radio around here in Milwaukee. Here is song called Dehumanized form the new CD.

  2. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events (September, 2011); New drummer. That's I'll I have to say. But seriously, I hear the title track and Mike Mangini (the “new' Mike in the band:) is an amazing drummer and the track On The Backs of Angels sounds promising. It will be weird not to have Portnoy but I am a fan so I have to get it.

  3. Adrenaline Mob – Self Titled; A “Supergroup” of sorts with Mike Portnoy (Ex-Dream Theater) on Drums, Russel Allen (Symphony X) and a few other guys from other bands. This could either really good or really bad depending on where I “expect” this album to be. I have read that this is NOT prog but hard rock. Here is a teaser of the tunes  Russel Allen, for those of you who may not know Symphony X, has one of THE best voices out there. The range is incredible and he can do it live (I saw it:). We shall see.

  4. Jane's Addiction – the Great Escape Artist (August, 2011). I make no apologies about being a huge fan of Jane's Addiction. They are just different and that makes them great. I love the last album (Strays) and look forward to hearing some new material. They have a video  for "End to the Lies" on their website. Pretty cool.

That's what I have right now. Are there any albums that you are looking forward to purchasing in the near future when they come out? Please let me know.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC

While I am not the biggest fan of AC/DC (or this song for that matter; way overplayed), You Shook Me All Night Long does bring back a certain fond memory. When I was 15-16 years old, we used to go to place called Bailey's which for most of the week was a regular bar, but on one night, there was an under 18 night. Back then I had longer hair and wore the skin tight jeans with my leather jacket (it was the late 80's after all). I didn't drive, so my older friend Brian would get us there before it opened so we could get in the line and wait to get in. If you got there too late you did not get in. Once we were in we staked out a table and threw our stuff down and waited for the girls to fill in. The other thing that my older friend could get was beer so there several times we went there already buzzed up. Within an hour, the entire place was packed and things started to heat up. You heard the same songs every week but we didn't care, we thought we were cool for being in a bar. The place got so hot, all the mirrors on the wall fogged up and you would sweat like a pig. But the highlight of the night for us headbangers was when they placed You Shook Me All Night Long. It was one of only a handful of rock tunes they played all night and Brian and I would go up to the top part of the dancing stage and head bang with our mullets (oh yeah). There were usually only about 8-10 of us that did this so it was our little time to shine. Everyone else used it as a reason to take a break. By the end of the song my neck hurt pretty bad and took a few days to recover from but it was all worth it. We had a lot of fun at that place. It was one of only 2 places where teens could go to dance and have fun. It was eventually closed and was torn down to be replaced by a strip mall that does not fit in that space. 

Do you have any memories for this song? Please let me know.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Facebook Page and twitter

I have switched the Tonal Memories blog to post from itself rather than from me personally. I meant to do this from the start but got a bit side-tracked at the time. So now I have a twttier account (@tonalmemories) and a Facebook account under Tonal Memories. I invite you to follow both of these in order to stay updated on the blog. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My favorite Drummers

So this could have easily been one of my first posts but I figured I would wait until I got the blog off the ground a bit. These are MY favorite drummers so I am sure there will drummers that may be omitted and some wondering why (e.g. Lars Ulrich). So here it goes.

  1. Neal Peart: the single most influential drummer in my drumming career. I have emulated his style for many years including adding things to my drum set such as a xylophone so I could play those parts from songs like Xanadu and A Farewell to Kings. I wore out 2 copies of A Farewell to Kings on cassette going over and over it. I am still in awe of his playing after all of these years. I am currently learning Jacobs Ladder which is no easy feat due to shifting time signatures. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Xanadu, A Farewell to Kings, Freewill, YYZ, 2112, Natural Science, By Tor and the Snow Dog, Marathon, Show Don't Tell, Something For Nothing, Subdivisions, Analog Kid, Spirit of the Radio, The Camera Eye, Fly By Night, Limelight, Red Barchetta, Distant Early Warning, Anthem, Beneath, Between, Behind, and The Weapon (to name a few).

  2. Mike Portnoy: the second most influential drummer. After playing Peart for so many years I discovered Dream Theater and went from there. Portnoy is Peart on steroids. Lots of double bass which I really wanted to learn more of. Later, I was watching one of his instructional DVD's and finally began to understand how to play in odd time signatures. This made it easier to go back on many of those Rush songs I had for all those years and truly understand how to play through the parts by counting it out. Many of his parts are WAY too complicated to even start learning because I don't practice enough. Portnoy also has lots of side projects to glean drum parts from which makes him that much more versatile. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Under a Glass Moon, Panic Attack, Home, New Millennium, Burning My Soul, A Change of Seasons, This Dying Soul, As I Am, Pull Me Under, Metropolis Part 1 and The Test That Stumped Them All (to name a few).

  3. Gavin Harrison: a relative new comer to my pantheon of drummers but is quickly becoming one of my favorites. His main gig right now is the drummer of Porcupine Tree. What makes Gavin so amazing is his fluidity even while playing difficult odd-time parts. He has a method he calls “overloading” that makes odd time almost danceable. He is a student of drums and is always perfecting his craft. One of the coolest things he does is doubles on both bass pedals (think John Bonham in Good Times Bad Times but with both feet), very cool. He has awesome chops but doesn't overplay the song which works for DT but not PT. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Halo, Bonnie the Cat and The Sound of Muzak (that is as far as I have gotten).

  4. Jason Rullo: once I started playing prog and prog metal, Symphony X become one of my favorite bands. They just plain kick ass. Jason can play serious metal and sprinkle in some complicated odd time for good measure. I can only play certain songs that are not too fast (I am still working on my double bass speed). Some songs I enjoy playing include: Inferno (Unleash the Fire), Sea of Lies, Out of the Ashes and Serpent's Kiss. Kick Ass drummer.

  5. John Bonham:One of my first drum idols; there is not much more you can say that hasn't been said. His shear power and ability to take a simple drum beat and make it sound like there are 2 drummers. I have played many of LZ songs over the yeas but it was not until recently I really came to appreciate Fool in the Rain from the In Through the Out Door album. It is a shuffle beat that sounds like total crap if the ghost notes are not there. I have taught myself a bit if the shuffle beat but I am still way behind what he did. Some of my favorite songs to play include: How Many More Times, In My Time of Dying, Achilles Last Stand, Sick Again, Poor Tom, We're Gonna Grove and Immigrant Song (to name just a few).

  6. Ian Paice: In the very beginning I loved Deep Purple almost as much as I love Led Zeppelin (almost). However, much of Bonham's drum parts were too hard for me so I played Deep Purple. The only album I had by them for many years was Live: Made In Japan. To me it is THE best live album ever made. I played that entire album and loved Paice's chops. I can remember how happy I was when I finally got this little part during a slow section of Space Truckin'. I tried every song on that album except The Mule since it was a drum solo and I could not even fathom what he was playing at the time. The songs include: Highway Star, Child In Time, Space Truckin', Smoke on the Water (the best version ever), Strange Kind of Woman and Lazy.

  7. Kieth Moon: by far the sloppiest drummer but a total manic with endless energy. His drum parts were essentially one long drum roll which played right into my style of playing (or overplaying as some have said; screw them :) He was a huge part of why The Who were so over the top and why I love them. I watched them perform in the Woodstock video and was just awestruck at the energy he had and his playfulness behind the kit. I always tried to emulate that in my playing. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Pinball Wizard, Baba O'Reilly, We Don't Get Fooled Again (one of my all-time favorites on the drums), Who Are You, Sparks and of course My Generation.

  8. Dave Lombardo: while the drummer from Slayer never really had a direct impact on my playing, his style made me want to play metal. His double bass is stuff of legend and I only wish I could play like that. So other than the 2 songs, Dead Skin Mask and Seasons in the Abyss, I can't physically play most of his other stuff because it is too fast for me :(

  9. Barrie "Barriemore" Barlow: Not a household name by any means but he is the phenomenal drummer from Jethro Tull in the 70's. I knew I liked prog fairly quickly and once I had my xylophone I could also play some Jethro Tull with it in there. Some songs I enjoyed playing include: Baker Street Muse, some of Thick as a Brick, Minstrel in the Gallery, Pibroch (Cap in Hand) , Heavy Horses, and No Lullaby.

  10. Mitch Mitchell: another early influence, I loved Jimi Hendrix and much of it came from Mitch. He was more reserved than Keith Moon but had that wild side as well. Mitch also had a soft side which he was very good at in songs such as The Wind Cries Mary. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Crosstown Traffic, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze, If 6 was 9, Third Stone from the Sun, and Spanish Castle Magic.

  11. Danny Carey: another relative late comer to my drummer pantheon, the drummer from Tool is great. He is a master of polyrhythms and blending metal with mellow. Danny has a style that is very different than mine (he was trained) so he uses a lot of drum rudiments that I don't know. For that reason I really have only tried a few of there songs including: Forty 6 & 2, Sober, Hooker with a Penis, Parabola, and Lateralus.

Notable others that I like but did not make the list (in no particular order): Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Alex Van Halen, Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy, others), Mike Mangini (Extreme, now Dream Theater), Phil Collins (early Genesis stuff), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Kirk Arrington (Metal Church), Virgil Donati (he is just sick), Buddy Rich, Sheila E (Prince, solo), Randy Castillo (Ozzy), John Densmore (The Doors), Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard), Chris Quirarte (Redemption), Alan White (Yes), Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Jeremy Colson (Dali's Dilemma), Bernard Huber (Dreamscape), Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Stuart Copeland (The Police), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) and the list goes on and on.

What do you think? I am sure I have missed some that you might have put on the list. Please let me know. Thanks.