Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lose Weight Fatty Pt. 1

I'm currently reading The Power of Habit (2012) by Charles Duhigg. I should definitely start some sort of journaling aimed at losing weight (a significant amount of weight.) Based on the studies Mr. Dunhigg sites, this journal does not necessarily have to be formal. I should probably attempting to note what I have been eating, but then it would take away from the desire to write. In other words, it seems like it would be fucking miserable to read. And it may be either way. I will admit that I have been eating like shit. I feel as though I have some sort of late-night-movie-watching-ridiculous-amount-of-food-eating disorder.

My habits are filthy. Reading this book truly helps lay out how to change the path, and I'm only about half way through. It is by no means the holy grail of self-help literature, but I'm more than happy to be reading the book. I have read a significant number of cool books over the last year. Malcolm Gladwell, Paul Ekman, Pressfield, The Walking Dead Compendiums, Edward Abbey, and more have enriched my life more so than when I first starting reading Daniel Quinn in high school.

This is one of the many reasons I've been physically lazy, but it's no excuse. I've also barely written over the last six months; unless it's required of me at school. However, that issue is more so about half laziness and half rediscovery of self. Meanwhile, many times over I make the excuse of rediscovery and stop writing. There is no rediscovery without writing. We often confuse our social media witticisms with practice, but that bullshit weakens the will. I'm not trying to be personable here. You can comment, talk shit, say hello, whatever, but all I am doing here is my work. I want to do things differently than in the past.

I digress. I feel as though an exercise journal may even be more beneficial than a food journal. Again however, I don't feel as though I'm going to do that kind of journal. I am working out at least twice a week, but I still need to stop being such a slob. The cigarettes. The cigarettes have to go as well.

Unedited draft.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

horizon i (Republish)

They offer no disclaimers, no excuses, no flashy image, and certainly no gimmicks. They are horizon i. For a long time now it has seemed to me that in order to be considered a part of the “Arizona music scene” one needed a western shirt, the occasional cowboy hat, and a strong inclination towards the C chord. horizon i takes a sledgehammer to the front windows of my misconception.

In September, horizon i released their first full length album, appropriately titled horizon i. I can't remember the last time that I listened to a new record from the beginning to the end with such complete attention. horizon i’s new album changed all that as I continued from one song to the next without a single pause. The only frustrating part was when a song ended I did not know whether to continue on to the next song or replay the song I had just listened to. Their album is so much more than songs. This album is a movement. It is a journey that will leave the listener with chills rooted in deep emotional honesty.

Cliff Hockersmith’s lyrics are the secret weapon that make the listener want to get up and do something. They are not just clever mottoes of social and personal change. They are words that he fully stands behind and lives by. His passion for not only his own music, but pretty much anyone out there just trying to “make it happen” is contagious.

horizon i also comes complete with astonishing live performances.

Their energy and stage presence, spontaneous and unplanned, transcends that of a typical rock band. Between Cliff, mostly bare-footed, passionately banging on the guitar and wailing into the microphone, Mark Anderson singing alongside Cliff while he beats out bass lines and explores the space of the entire stage, and Anthony Francis who sits not-so-quietly in the back, it is hard to determine who to watch.

Where so many try and fail, pretend, or falsely claim to have, horizon i has without even trying. From heavy-hitting rock to captivating, uplifting ballads horizon i is a musical breath of fresh air.

True to their socialistic philosophy, the band applies a simliar approach to the marketing of their merchandise and music. As they’ve stated “We want you to enjoy our music much more than we want your money,” and it is only more proof that horizon i is for real.

Originally published: November 1, 2011 (changed one word and one spelling error, but otherwise unedited).

Flagstaff, AZ - Special Report (Republish)

Blood on the Dance Floor (Republish)

Do not be confused by the awesome title of this story. Harry Potter merchandising and teenage girls of Twilight obsession lay beneath the cover of this book. The end contains neither blood nor a dance floor.

How does a guy like me provide proper coverage of a multidimensional entity of fabulous song and grocery-store-pallet-size thirst for hair product? And, what is that Mac makeup they use?

Multidimensional is not to be mistaken with a branding of “high art,” but rather a collage of imagery emanating from music, body, and video that bombards the senses and commands either purchase or epileptic seizure. While identity crisis may be an understatement, the challenges of self-identity that these gentlemen have imposed upon their future psyches promise a radical road of reality and confusion.

These are the moments in life that one has learned it better to bite the tongue rather than provide a mere black and white description of rainbow-colored tattoos and a stage presence rooted in the deepest emotions of all known fancy. However, the entire tongue should not be chewed off completely. A certain powder puff mystique radiates off all the stuff Blood on the Dance Floor sells to sensitive poets of indefinable sentiment. The discussion of Blood on the Dance Floor’s music possesses an element of futility. It does not appear as though these gentlemen concern themselves with the music more than a purchase of a lunchbox, t-shirt, or CD. I say amen!

Don’t even finish reading this article. Send inquiries for my autographed 8x10 to the YabYum editors now. They’re only $3.99 and awesome! If you send a self addressed stamped envelope the shipping is free, otherwise it’s $2.00. The majority of the proceeds go to YabYum Music and Arts. Act now!

Honestly, I have no clue what’s going on here. When did Marilyn Manson have children with a rainbow? Blood on the Dance Floor is the type of band I would, based on the name alone, enthusiastically high five my bros all the way to show only to enter in an argument with the club owner that I did not purchase tickets to a musical adaptation of... My friend interrupts, “Bro I think that dude bedazzles his eyebrows.”

Blood on the Dance Floor’s new album, Evolution, is set to release June 19th followed by a three-city CD Release Show beginning July 2nd. While you can pre-order their $119.95 “Platinum Package,” I decided to pre-release my review free of charge.

P.S. The “Platinum Package” comes with two hoodies just in time for July. I suggest you order them now because by the time winter rolls around they’ll probably have all new designs. The t-shirt included in the package reads, “I destroy everything I touch.” Huh? Go figure.

Originally published: June 15, 2012 (one punctuation correction, otherwise unedited).

Socrates and a Bowling Ball

Late in the evening. Or early in the morning. He sits drinking a beer. His second one. Reading. Learning. Quiet in the isolation we often forget. A needed vacation. The stress and strain was once unimaginable, but not it has merely become his reality. He does not even care much for alcohol anymore. And this time the beer has nothing to do his escape. Rather a substitute for a view of the cherry tree. Under the tree, relax and reflect. Revisit. Ponder the evening and wait a moment until the next tidal wave of the day. He couldn't escape even if he wanted. To not get out alive is the one truth he knows. The astronaunt nor the brightest star has managed to devise a plan of their own. The thought found of the edge of the star he stares upon. No agenda, no house chores, nowhere to be, nowhere to go. He is required is to be. There he might have found himself. Learned something new, but one can never know until the test. "To know a hammer and the skill to swing it. Grown cold in the early decay. There we find our way. Each and every moment. Of every fucking day. If you asked me fifteen years ago, I would have said, 'I'm in my prime.' This is the best I have ever been at life."

He finishes his beer and continues reading. Something he read once in a book. Both the writer and the main character (pretentious fuck) would sit up late drinking wine or some shit. He the less sophisticated thought to get another, but for the moment resisted the temptation. He began rolling a cigarette. The way that he would roll a cigarette was nothing sort of amazing. A bafflingly [sic] unnecessary skill. He could open a pouch, gather a paper and pinch of tobacco, roll, lick, and light in less then twenty seconds. When the crossing sign would change from the white hand of the man to the countdown is when he would begin. Maybe even break a record. Thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten... Alas the countdown would stike zero, and his cigarette would be just shy of completion. Literally, close but no cigarette.

Here humanity has managed to created something inherently strange and alien to our being and natural order. Never mind the devastation for a moment, that is not what we are talking about here. We're talking about that deep down below-the-fabric-of-the-skin behavior of interaction and connectivity, or lack thereof man go without saying. 

The Haymarket Squares (Republish)

The Haymarket Squares may be the most punk rock local band that I have ever heard. Yet, their album Dancing in the Streets does not contain a single second of guitar distortion. This “punkgrass for the people” band uses choruses filled with harmony, a variety of strings (yep a mandolin is one of those instruments,) stand-up bass, a kazoo, whistling, drums, and a variety of angry, awe-inspiring lyrics to capture the essence of punk rock.

The Haymarket Squares use their music to tackle issues with passion and dedication and without coming off as contrived douche bags. Songs of discontent, social injustice, and contempt for the walls around all of us are what I personally love to hear stomping out of this stagnant desert.

I recently saw the Haymarket Squares for the first time and I wish that I had known their songs prior to seeing them live so that I could scream along like some sweaty raving lunatic fan boy that makes the band uncomfortable but all the while gives them the appreciation that they deserve. “I DON’T WANNA BE A BULLET CATCHER…”

Whether belting out songs of change in the middle of the crowd, an impromptu Anti-Arpaio protest, or a street corner jam, the Haymarket Squares are the type of band that arouses a strong urge to throw all of your pocket change and a dollar into their guitar cases while scoffing at the uninspired sad bastard playing out of tune and half drunk in front of the library. “No sir.”

These gentlemen are revolutionaries fighting the good fight against religious intolerance, Sheriff Joe, idiots in traffic, and the scourge of that evil marijuana stuff. Wait? Clearly, sarcasm is also one of their strong suits and for me it merely adds another notch of awesome to their already strong appeal. Dancing in the Streets has an intelligent anger that helps to validate my own pretentious asshole comments on stupid people and society as we know it. The best aspect of their album Dancing in the Streets is that listening to it would most likely cause a conservative to spontaneously combust.

Originally, I thought that I would easily grow tired of the Haymarket Squares’ particular sound. However, in retrospect I have no clue why I ever considered that a possibility. Despite the album’s release in 2010 Dancing in the Streets in my favorite local album of 2012. I’ve already listened to the album four times over and will continue repeating the album over until I can no longer stand them. Therein lies my pathetic excuse for a complaint and conclusion. Dancing in the Streets by the Haymarket Squares is too short, but that’s not much of a complaint, is it?

Originally published: May 1, 2012 (unedited).

PAWL (Republish)

Just two months after a powerful indie pop/hip hop collaboration with Chicago’s Keeynote, PAWL released Archetypes. While not the genre-crossing innovative opus heard on the Keeynote collaboration, Archetypes is just as captivating.

The first track “The Dream is Us,” brings Ben Folds Five to mind, but as the album progresses it is clear that PAWL is not some cheap derivative.

PAWL promises that Archetypes will take the listener to a “unique space and time” and exhibits “eight distinct moods.” Archetypes maintains its own space and time, but for me does not go far enough to create eight “distinct” moods. The 8 tracks blend together, certainly with variance, and create a very euphoric overall mood. PAWL takes the listener beyond the emotional landscape usually associated with music.

“City Lights” plays like a nighttime cloud ride over the city with empathetic lyrics that exude a compassion for those down on their luck and the human condition itself.

Throughout the album, PAWL beautifully blends subtle and mellow percussion with heavy keyboards that surround the listener in serenity. The singer/songwriter at the front of PAWL is occasionally joined by the untraditional backing vocals of Nicole. Her voice provides an instrument that flawlessly caresses their songs, and breathes in even more life. In the song “Shades of Currency,” her vocals add an angelic floating quality to an already opiate-like experience. This unique mixture of indie pop with slight touches of hip hop and jazz is a sweet tonic.

The album ends with the song “Moment in the Sun.” It stays true to the album’s elements, but also adds a trumpet that graces the song in a smooth Miles Davis manner. The song itself is a juxtaposition of fleeting glimpses of happiness contained within gloomy spirituality and loving warmth the universe can offer, but all too often goes ignored. It is a wonderful ending that brings the album around full circle, and darkly lifts the listener back up.

Not so much an evolution from the 2010 album Guest House, but a significant growth. Songs show greater sophistication and refinement as well as a sound more defined as PAWL. Archetypes, proves that PAWL is aging like fine wine.

Originally published: February 1, 2012 (unedited). 

Crash Street Kids (Republish)

I am still somewhat new to YabYum, but there have already been a couple of times that I have wondered if what I am listening to is for real. Crash Street Kids immediately falls into this category. Not just in retrospect, but within the first two minutes of listening to their song “Sad Julia”. I honestly cannot get enough of this song, but I do not think that the sentiment is necessarily flattering.

I strongly suggest that anyone that is a fan of rock music, at very least, play this song, and sing along with lyrics like “Maybe if I scored some coke, if I stood on the corner with flowers and told dirty jokes, would you?…Ju-li-a.” The track is sure to turn any dragging party into a joy-filled evening that could only be topped by a drunken round of Twister. I know that I have single-handedly brought their ReverbNation rank up at least five spots with my own repeated plays.

Outside of my questions based on their level of seriousness, I have quite a bit of confusion concerning Crash Street Kids. Their name starts my confusions. Crash Street Kids is anything but “Kids.” Half of the band appears to be about 40 years old or more, and the music itself brings about visions of hundreds of plus 40s dancing as white people do giving each other thumbs up and winks while splashing plastic cups of draft all over each other. Trust me, if it were Huey Lewis and the News I’d be in the pit of madness pointing and snapping myself, but unfortunately we’re not even close to that page of music, let alone the same book.

I am also very confused by their song “Mary, Queen of the Rock.” A part of me wonders why they even bothered writing this song and did not opt for a safer bet of getting licensing to cover “Ballroom Blitz.” They clearly masked their intentions well enough to keep from receiving a cease and desist notice anytime soon, but I offer the statement as a means for improvement not finger pointing.

In all honesty, I have listened to the music, watched several videos, researched the history, and traveled deep into the depths of Crash Street Kids, but I genuinely cannot determine if this is some sort of Spinal Tap type joke on humanity or four gentlemen who take themselves way too seriously.

The song “Do You Still Believe in Rock n’ Roll?” nicely sums up Crash Street Kids for me. Under any other circumstances when asked the question my response would differ. However, when Crash Street Kids asks within the chorus I simply would prefer not to answer.

Originally published: April 1, 2012 (unedited).

Fayuca (Republish)

I am continually amazed at the variety of music that Arizona has to offer. Fayuca is a perfect example of some colorful blends of genre available. The reggae-ska-punk of Fayuca better serves the memory of Bradley Nowell of Sublime than the remaining members of the band itself accomplished with their most recent release Sublime with Rome.

Fayuca, even though they take on stages much larger, would be the ultimate Cheba Hut house band. If someone in the room has not lit up a doobie within the first two minutes of Fayuca playing I suggest that you start the track over because someone is missing something. However, to their credit and to not cheapen their music that doob is not all that necessary but they certainly complement each other. If you know what I’m saying.

I have a hard time admitting my undying love for ska. Fayuca makes me proud of my weird penchant for skanking poorly for an hour or until puking (whichever comes first). There is not a single song that I dislike. The band has a very unique and genuine blending of angry punk rock and soothing reggae that most other reggae-influenced music lacks. The emotions of their songs are cohesive and constant. There is no beginning or ending to the joy and tranquility nor to the anger and fight.

Everything about the arrangement of Fayuca’s music is spot on and that terrifies the hell out of me. There are moments when listening to Fayuca that cause a catharsis of tranquility all while still grounded in my angry reality. Fayuca instead joins the listener with cooperation.

Recently, awarded “KWSS’s Best Reggae Song of 2011” and a signing with the prestigious Fervor Records, Fayuca will have a new album out this fall and I can’t wait. Whether you’re a fan of reggae, punk, pot, ska, or music in general I highly recommend listening to Fayuca as soon as possible. It will fill a void in your life.

Original published: May 1, 2012 (unedited).