Monday, December 28, 2009

2000-2009, in a few words...


but seriously, its not just another year passing, it is the end of an era, and in the 3 decades that i have lived, this past one was a very particular decade, a bittersweet one, one that brought me the worst pain and the most precious joy. Like many of you, it will be impossible to describe the last 10 years of your life in a blog. I decided to be a dork, and post highlights from the 3 big M's, moments, movies, and music!!! I will no doubt, forget a lot of important stuff, let that be understood, but i will try my best at squeezing some memory out of my aging brain!!!

Me, in 2000, on tour with Tantrum Of The Muse

First, i will reflect. Remember when it was 1999, and the whole world was in panic, over Y2K?!?!?! Idiots!!! My dad actually cracked me up, when the clock struck 12:00AM he turned the power off in the whole house, hahahah, but im not sure if anyone fell for it. Haha, I love it!!!!

In a single decade i became a modestly successful musician, living the dream, making albums, touring the USA. I also lost all of that, in a short 2 or 3 years. I released 2 albums (3 total, but 2 this decade) i failed at playing music, even modestly locally, I buried a few people who's lives were stolen very violently, i hit rock bottom spiritually, i lived in 6 different places, September 11, 2001 was engraved into world history forever, and following it was war, and George Dubya Bush, Politics, bad economy, and sky high gas $$$, oh and the end of the world is near, due to global warming..the king of pop died, but so did the oxy clean guy...i got stuck in a job rut, and lost some friends...etc...etc...etc

Me, somewhere in mid decade

but on the other hand...

I met and married my best friend, Sara. I watched many others, including my sister Desiree, get married. I returned to church life, and my life got turned around spiritually, i got my cat, Kinky, Coca-Cola released vanilla coke, George Dubya Bush's 2 terms finally ended, so did my belief in the end of the world coming, due to global warming, my sister bought a house, my wife joined the Dutchland rollers derby team and excelled in that, my wife's sister is marrying one of my best friends, Rick finally found a special someone, I am still working, i am still alive, i am still in love, i made a lot of friends...etc...etc...etc

Sara and I, April 22, 2006

Sara and I, in The Dominican Republic, right after our wedding

I also saw a lot of awesome flicks. Here is my annual list...


2000 -

Best In Show
Cast Away
Meet The Parents
O' Brother Where Art Thou?
The Tao Of Steve
American Psycho
Dancer In The Dark

2001 -
Donnie Darko
The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring
The Royal Tenenbaums
Artificial Intelligence
The Devil's Backbone
Freddy Got Fingered
Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Jeepers Creepers
The Majestic
Mulholland Drive
The Pledge
Rock Star
Super Troopers

2002 -
About Schmidt
Cabin Fever
Bubba Hotep
Death To Smoochy
Gangs Of New York
Jason X
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
The Rules Of Attraction

2003 -
Bad Santa
Big Fish
Cabin Fever
Cold Mountain
Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Freddy Vs. Jason
House Of 1000 Corpses
Jeepers Creepers II
Kill Bill Vol. I
The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
A Mighty Wind
Open Water

2004 -
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
Dawn Of The Dead
Garden State
Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle
I Heart Huckabees
Kill Bill Vol. II
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Napoleon Dynamite
The Passion Of The Christ
Shaun Of The Dead
Some Kind Of Monster
Super Size Me
The Village

2005 -
Sin City
Batman Begins
Land Of The Dead
War Of The Worlds
The Devils Rejects
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
The Weather Man
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion The With And The Wardrobe
King Kong
The Family Stone
Corpse Bride

2006 -
Nacho Libre
Clerks 2
Little Miss Sunshine
The Descent
The Illusionist
The Prestige
Borat: Cultural Learnings For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan
For Your Consideration
Tenacious D And The Pick Of Destiny
Rocky Balboa
Pan's Labyrinth
American Hardcore
Jesus Camp

2007 -
Black Snake Moan
Grindhouse: Planet Terror/Death Proof
Balls Of Fury
No Country For Old Men
The Mist
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
There Will Be Blood
Into The Wild

2008 -
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Dark Knight
Step Brothers
Tropic Thunder
Hamlet 2
Gran Torino
The Wrestler
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

2009 -
Observe And Report
Drag Me To Hell
Whatever Works
District 9
Inglourious Basterds
Paranormal Activity

Obviously i have not seen "every movie" but...that was a good "off the cuff" list i suppose.

Now, even more impossible to round up...

my favorite music of the past 10 years (Mostly)

2000 -
Sunny Day Real Estate - The Rising Tide
Tantrum Of The Muse - Modernmu$ick(2000)! (yeah i added it, someone had to remember it)
Radiohead - Kid A
The Cure - Bloodflowers
Smashing Pumpkins - Machina (The machines Of God)
Ween - White Pepper
A Perfect Circle - Mer De Noms
The Deftones - White Pony
Enya - A Day Without Rain
O' Brother Where Art Thou? - Original Soundtrack

2001 -
Depeche Mode - Exciter
Tool - Lateralus
Built To Spill - Ancient Melodies Of The Future
Bjork - Vespertine

2002 -
Tom Waits - Alice
Rush - Vapor Trails
David Bowie - Heathen
Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf
Peter Gabriel - Up
Dredg - El Cielo
Tori Amos - Scarlet's Walk
Johnny Cash - IV The Man Comes Around
Michael Roe - Say Your Prayers
Starflyer 59 - Leave Here A Stranger

2003 -
Ministry - Animositisomina
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Nocturama
Fleetwood Mac - Say You Will
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
The Darkness - Permission To Land
Ween - Quebec
David Bowie - Reality
Primus - Animals Should Not Try And Act Like People
Today Is The Day - Sadness Will Prevail
Mew - Frengers
The Violet Burning - This Is The Moment

2004 -
The Cure - Join The Dots
The Cure - The Cure
Fantomas - Delirium Cordia
Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Like Bad News
Morrissey - You Are The Quarry
Ministry - Houses Of The Mole
U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

2005 -
Queens Of The Stone Age - Lullabies To Paralyze
Fantomas - Suspended Animation
Big Business - Head For The Shallow
Dredg - Catch Without Arms
Neil Young - Prairie Wind
Torche - Torche
Starflyer 59 - Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice

2006 -
David Gilmour - On An Island
Ministry - Rio Grande Blood
Slayer - Christ Illusion
Melvins - A Senile Animal
Tom Waits - Orphans
Mew - And The Glass Handed Kites
Band Of Horses - Everything, All The Time
The Violet Burning - Drop Dead

2007 -
Hella - There's No 666 In Outer Space
Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
Bruce Springsteen - Magic
Battles - Mirrored
Torche - In Return
Big Business - Here Come The Waterworks

2008 -
Melvins - Nude With Boots
The Residents - The Bunny Boy
Starflyer 59 - Dial M
Metallica - Death Magnetic
Big Business - Mind The Drift
Torche - Meanderthal
The Cure - 4:13 Dream

2009 -
Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream
Mew - No More Stories Are Told Today...
Polvo - In Prism
Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy
Believer - Gabriel

So, what do i hope to accomplish in 2010? For starters, i have this long winded, long awaited Unteachers album that i have been hammering about for the better part of this old decade. I put my foot down on how long i will wait. This is the year for its release, or its death...but i am making it a release, and i have started working with my cousin, Travis, on it. I would also very much, like to find new employment. I really would like to get into silk screening, and selling odd designed t-shirts, etc. I would also like to start a family, and perhaps Sara and I will not begin this trek in 2010, but we are most certainly running out of free time!!! More important than what i would accomplish for myself, what does the Lord have for me this year??? Who knows!!! But i trust that it is absolutely good for me, no matter how good, or bad it feels!!!

Anyway, There you go, i hope this sums it up, and i hope i didn't miss too much!!!

Happy new year friends

Me...more recently

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tantrum Of The Muse - The Heart Is A Two Headed Sperm - 10th Anniversary Remastered download...


This October, I am making the very first TOTM album, available for a digital download, with bonus tracks, live tracks, and some new artwork, not unlike the picture preview that is above. The album was unable to be remixed, which is very unfortunate, as there are LOTS of things we would love to repair, as far as production value. There is definitely something here to love though. I am not a fan of some of these songs anymore, and especially some of the lyrics, ESPECIALLY some of the unreleased material, but I am very proud of this artistic statement which was made when we were quite young and ignorant!!! I can recall being offered a record deal with the infamous Tooth & Nail Records (Starflyer 59, Mewithoutyou, Underoath, Danielson, Roadside Monument, etc, etc) and we passed because they wanted us to go and re-record the record, with new lyrics, new song titles, and a new album title. Well, being the proud and inspired young fools that we were, we politely passed them by, and held out for a smaller, lesser known, but fiercely passionate Takehold Records, all of this, of course, after our first record label, Sofa Records, decided that the record was a waste of their time and money!!! I recall Bob from Sofa asking me, once he listened to the album "Is all of that whispering and mouth noises supposed to be there"? I answered, "Of course", and he kinda changed the subject. I mentioned bands like Roadside Monument, and Blenderhead, bands that, at the time were giving us some pretty awesome post punk/hardcore/noise rock stuff that was underproduced, again, proudly, and just delivered with a ton of inspiration and passion. We were big fans of bands like Karp, Melvins and Today Is The Day, as well as some of the more melodic stuff like Sunny Day Real Estate, Quicksand, Built To Spill and Shudder To Think. Not to mention the prog stuff, oh and of course our wholesome upbringing on the Christian rock of Amy Grant, Keith Green, Petra and Stryper. We were a mess musically, and just coming out of the fundamentalist Christian school, unleashed into a public mainstream of different beliefs, and lifestyles that we were unfamiliar with. Christians gone wild? You bet!!! So much went on in those graduation years, and we had our whole lives ahead of us. A unique thing happened, where Rick and myself were making a bunch of noise, learning how to play our instruments (still haven't done that), seeing the, then, thriving music scene, still running off of the fumes of Nirvana's wake (etc) we wanted to be a part of the musical history, something we now refer to as, "the 90s" where so much great inspired music, with passion, was coming out, and everything was being recorded on analog, and 4tracks, and bands swapped cassette tapes, and making it in the music business, was a demo sent, snail mail, to a label of your choice. It was so easy for us. TOTM was always bigger than us. It was always a living beast of its own, and this record in particular is the reminder of that. In 1998 (actual year it was recorded) we sold it, diy, until takehold finally put a nice legit version out in stores, and in that year, we had developed a sorta, word of mouth, about what was going on at our shows, what kind of reaction we were getting. By the time we traveled out of PA, and DE, into the dirty south, and western states, there were droves of people asking what the heck we were doing, saying, playing!!!! It was an exciting time, and by the time our second album rolled around in 2000, people, i think, had come to know what to expect from us. I harken back to that first 2 years though, when the hope of continuing and playing the songs for years and years to come, was supported by the intense experiences we were having, playing these songs for the first time, in such a religious area like Lancaster county!!! I have a lot on my mind in reference to this album, and i do not look to it as just an album from my old band, but rather an album that is the staple of my angry attention deficit ridden youth!! Unlike Modernmu$ick, this record has a little light at the end of its very dark tunnel, and there is a naive innocence about this one, where we were not thinking like victims, entirely, but kids with a bit of steam in us. And, while we did correct some of the sonic (some) and performance quirks, i still believe this is the truest TOTM album. Sadly, Jim didn't play a lick of this one. Rick, and myself, along with any of our friends who were available for making added noise and screams, were along here for this project. Jim had joined the band around the same time, and we started rehearsing with him immediately following the mixing of this album.

I would like to do a commentary podcast, going through each song, and discussing things we remember, and tid bits that might strengthen your listen to it. I am really proud of this one though (You should hear the crap we did before this..UGH)
This is the first album from both Rick and myself, where it wasn't completely dated crap! It was ahead of its time in 1998 that is for sure, not sure what year to drop it in anymore. Who cares? Unteachers is a vast improvement all around anyway.

So, anyway, just giving you all a heads up that its coming soon, and while id love to release a vinyl record of it, im not sure any one label would be interested!!! Maybe though, who knows. For now, i leave you with a reminder of the upcoming record, not remixed, but remastered, edited, restored, cleaned up, majorly repaired, and sounding the best it can ever sound!!!!

Keep poking back in here, i should have links to everything in a few weeks.


- Stephen

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I am selling a bunch of CDs/DVDs, to help fund my upcoming 7" release with Unteachers!! I have been going through some equipt. (computer, car, etc) problems, everything breaking down all at once, so i am grabbing a bunch of stuff that i have lying around, that i no longer need, and selling it...

In no particular order...

Andrew WK - Tear It Up cd/dvd - $5
The Majestic - OST - make an offer
The Lord Of The Rings - (fellowship OST) - make an offer
The Lord Of The Rings - (2towers OST) - make me an offer
Meshuggah - Nothing - $5
Tomahawk - Tomahawk (brown cardboard digipack) - $5
Bjork - Volta - $8 (brand new, but opened, weird red wrapping)
Starsailor - Silence Is Easy - make an offer
PJ Harvey - Stories from the city, stories from the sea - make an offer
Deconstruction - Deconstruction - make an offer
Saviour machine - II - rare $10
Saviour machine - Legend I - $5
Saviour machine - Legend II - $5
Saviour machine - Legend III:I - $5
Saviour machine - Behold a pale horse - $5
V/A Tooth and nail rock sampler vol 1 - $5
V/A Solid State records - This is solid state - $5
The Crossing - Dochas - $5
Redeem - A Diadem Of Beauty - $5
Speedy Delivery - Make me an offer, this is rare
Pink Daffodils - Listless EP - make an offer, this is rare also
Training For Utopia/Zao split EP - $5
Amy Grant - The collection - $5
The Seventy Sevens - Pray Naked - $10
The Seventy Sevens - Drowning With Land In Sight - $10
Deliverance - Greetings Of Death, Etc. (limited copies) - $8 or best offer
Poor Old Lu - Star Studded Super Step - $5 (artwork is somewhat damaged, but a rare find)
Scaterd Few - Sin Disease/Jawboneofanass kmg double album - $10
Holy Soldier - Last train - $10 (super rare)
Twothirtyeight - Missing You Dearly - $8 (rare)
Circle Of Dust - Circle Of Dust (re-release 1995, r.e.x. album) - $8
DC Talk - Free At last - $5
Petra - Rock Block - make an offer
Petra - Petraphonics - make an offer
The Blamed - Frail - $8
Stryper - Can't Stop The Rock - make an offer
Stryper - 7 weeks: live in America 2003 - make an offer
Blackball - Super heavy dreamscape - $5
V/A Tooth and nail records - Helpless amongst friends vol 1 - $5
Carman - Yo Kids (a gag gift given to me, i dare you to buy this)
Dead Kennedys - Plastic Surgery Disasters/In God We Trust, INC - $5
Dead Kennedys - Give me convenience or give me death - $5
Today Is The Day - Supernova (original, rare) - $5
The Cure - The head on the door - $5
The Cure - Pornography - $5
The Cure - Faith - $5
The Cure - Seventeen Seconds - $5
The Cure - Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me - $5
the Police - Every breath you take: the classics - $5
Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse Of Reason - make an offer
Pink Floyd - Division Bell - make an offer
Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon - $5
Rush - Power Windows (remastered) - $5
Rush - Snakes & arrows - (digipack, new but opened) - $5
Rush - Hold Your Fire (remastered) - $5
Rush - Grace under pressure (remastered) - $5
Rush - Signals (remastered) - $5
Rush - Roll The Bones (remastered) - $5
Peter Gabriel - So (original) - $5
Peter Gabriel - Shaking the tree - make an offer
High On Fire - The art of self defense - $5
Bad Brains - God Of Love - $5
Sensefield - Building - $5
When In Rome - When In Rome - make an offer
David Bowie - Reality - make an offer
David Bowie - Heathen - $5
Ours - Distorted Lullabies - $5
Ours - Precious - $5
Sarah McLachlan - Solace - $5
Live - Throwing copper - make an offer
The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin - $5
The Sugarcubes - Stick Around For Joy - $5
Clutch - prime numbers (rare comp/sampler) - $5
V/A Monster Ballads Vol. 2 - make an offer
Frank Zappa - Strictly Commercial - $5
Brutal Truth - Goodbye Cruel World (2XCD) - $8

DVDS: all dvds are $5 plus shipping

The Proposition
Three Days, Starring Janes Addiction
Talladaga Nights, The ballad of Ricky Bobby
Superman Returns
Hannibal Rising
The Omen (2006)
Little Miss Sunshine
The Man Who Wasn't There
Monster's Ball
In America
The Ring
Anatomy Of A Shark Bite (Discovery Channel exclusive)
the Brothers Grimm
Winged Migration
Bowling For Columbine
Beavis & Butthead Do America
Falling Down
Earnest Saves Christmas

ALSO, i have 2 gigs worth of brand new RAM, for Imac g5 version 10.4.11, that i will sell to anyone interested, ill give it to you for $70 (Two, 1gig disks) and free shipping (for ram)

Additionally, there is also a complete list of merchandise, of my various musical projects, a few blog posts down, this is also available.

1 CD - $1 additional
additional CDs - $3 total for all
1 DVD - $2 additional for all
additional DVDs - $4 additional for all

Some of the cds are well used, everything should play no problem, some are mint condish!! If you buy a cd, and there are any problems, ill just give the $ back. All play fine though as far as i know. Just ask me about the condition of any of them before you buy i will be honest.

You can contact me at and i will give you paypal/payment options, work it all out, etc.

thanks, and i hope there is something for you on this list...

Friday, July 24, 2009

I got some thoughts on some new music...


I have been a stryper fan since soldiers under command was released to the world, yes the whole world, and unlike most Christian music at that time (1985) Stryper gave us very young musicians much hope, due to the major label, major selling cross over that took place throughout most of their career. Stryper had the look, the sound, and they were undeniably the best pop metal band coming out of that scene, and i have a theory as to why it is so popular to make fun of them thought comes to mind, duh, they are Christians. Christians are so unpopular, right? Another would be that Stryper sang about Jesus and encouraged people, instead of having tons of sex with fans, and snorting drugs, etc. I guess to "truly" be a 80s metal band, you have to play the part....bullshit!!! Stryper, hands down, sang better, played better, and come on, the harmonies? No doubt about it, these guys were the real deal...

So i take it seriously, when they are around. I was bummed out when they broke up, and i was really excited when they got back together. The reunion tours were a lot of fun. Then the band dropped a new album. YES!!! I was so excited, but in my heart of hearts, i knew that the band no doubt fell victim to the Creeds, and all that other popular crap on the radio. Most bands of that era, when they reunite, seem to fall prey to the cheese that is modern rock. Unfortunately Stryper did just that. Their 2005 album REBORN was a disappointment to me. Now, to be fair, anytime a half decent rock song is played, and Michael Sweet sings on it, i hear that Stryper element, and it is worlds better to me than any of the current stuff. Supposedly Reborn was a solo album of Michael's and the band took those songs and used them, which totally explains the lack of true Stryper, classic Stryper element. So, fast forward to 2009. What is in store for the first, truly band effort Stryper album since 1990's Against The Law??? I had little expectation after reborn, but...what the hell, knowing that the band was actually going to write together for this one, being a band now, for a few years again, and knowing Michael has been on his A game since joining the band Boston. I will give this new record a twirl. Well...first off...this record is way more focused than reborn. The guys clearly have been reminded of what made their sound so special. Murder By Pride, is no doubt a Stryper fan record!!! All the big harmonies are back!!! Michael's power house vocal performances are back!!! (Including the old school high pitch vocals) Oz is shredding metallic leads all over the place!!! Robert is playing the kit with an urgency that hasn't been there since the old days. The production is much better (reborn sounding very independent) and while the title and cover art are nothing to get excited over, the songs are a refreshing welcome back, for the band. While this album sounds classic, it also fits snug with the modern alt-rock stuff that is happening now. Not a big deal to me, but the important thing to note is that the band has not outdated themselves, only doing what they used to. They found a nice balance here, which i thought was very relevant and showed they still rock, plain and simple!! There is nothing new here, mind you, if you hated classic Stryper, your probably going to hate new Stryper, but if you missed what made them so catchy and awesome, than there is some worthwhile songs to check out here.

Here are the songs, and my quick commentary on each...

1. Eclipse Of The Sun - Fast, catchy classic Stryper. Big harmonies. Great melodies. Could easily be a single.

2. 4 Leaf Clover - Heavy, slower, darker sounding, but lots of classic harmonies, and just overall good riffs. Catchy.

3. Peace Of Mind - This is the best Stryper has sounded in years!!! This should be all over radio. I saw Stryper play this on vh1 a year ago, and they killed!!! This song is a Boston cover, and features Tom Scholz, and wow...a stand out track for sure.

4. Alive - This song is the ballad of the album. This is a very classic sounding ballad, with Michael and a piano, and the band building. It actually turns out to be a really catchy song. Another radio sounding song.

5. The Plan - Another "radio hit" sounding song. This one sticks out as a more modern formula. Like the last 4 songs, this one is really catchy and has great hooks.

6. Murder By Pride - Around this part of the album, the songs are a little less easy to listen to. Sure, they are still catchy and heavy, and harmonic, etc...but they are less of what would be radio worthy. This is one of the more metal sounding songs.

7. I Believe - This song sounds like it should be on CCM radio. If anyone else would have recorded this, i would not have cared. The music is solid, catchy modern radio stuff, but Michael singing on this is one of his stronger performances. Great pop song.

8. Run In You - A smooth pop song, pretty chill. Great guitar work. One of the better songs on the album. Great chorus hook. This is a stand out, radio hit song. Excellent!! Also sounds very current.

9. Love Is Why - Also a catchy pop song. Less heavy. Enjoyable, but not the biggest song here.

10. Mercy Over Blame - This song sounds like it would have been on Reborn, as far as song structure. Heavy, groove laden, cheesy, i think. One of the less interesting songs, but those harmonies are there, and they sound so damn good.

11. Everything - Slightly classic metal in its sound. Not that interesting to me. Kinda annoying chorus back vocals. Another lesser interesting song.

12. My Love (I'll Always Show) - TRULY classic Stryper, because it is an old song that was never given the proper recording, and instead was turned into a ballad on the first Stryper album. This is an awesome way to end this return to form.

A quick note: Michael's wife died of cancer a few months ago, and Michael is pressing forward with a new Stryper tour. Keep his family in prayer!!!


yes, that is the name of the new Mew album.

Ok, some of you may know, i hate almost everything going on in music. Unless it is a band i grew up listening to (hence Stryper) or an occasional band that captivates me, i just don't listen to anything. Im bored. I have been for years, and years. A friend of mine burned me Mew's last full length "And The Glass Handed Kites" a few years ago, and i was literally floored by it. I felt like, for the first time in years, i was discovering a band that had a whole new sound all their own. This is true about Mew. There was nothing like it out there ever before, and i was so full of joy over it. I put that record in such high regard, and have compared it to all new releases since (2005) and every time a new album came out, that i was highly anticipating (The new Cure, the new Smashing Pumpkins, etc. etc.) and they fell flat on me, i always went back to Mew. I have always believed, ever since falling in love with their last album, that it could never be topped by anyone, even by Mew themselves. So, when they announced a year or 2 back, that writing and recording had begun for the follow up, unlike any other example, i felt promised that i was going to get a record that was not as good as the last, but still unbelievably good and still a thousand times more interesting than anything else going on. I was becoming a little obsessed with my guesses as to what they were building, picturing them like mad scientists in a lab, preparing for world domination. Than a month ago, Mew posted a new track. FINALLY, the wait was coming to an end. The new song took me by surprise, while i heard from the small tid bits from the band, that this new record was going to be less ambitious and epic as the last (I knew it) i was kinda expecting a song much closer to their less epic, epic - Frengers (2003). What the world got, was a really choppy technical prog-rock song, with a pop overtone, kinda in the vein of the song, special, off of ATGHK! YES!!! this album was going to kill!!

Now, i, and others, have the new album, and honestly i am really surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for these songs. A lot of people are disappointed that it was not better than the last record. This thought process led me to realize that it is unfair to judge a band like that and sentence them for not writing albums as epic as other albums they wrote. For one, the great album by Mew that we compare new Mew albums too, were still created by Mew, so we should look at the body of work and just be in awe of how much imagination they have, and still have. This new record is nothing like ATGHK, but it is nothing like Frengers, and it is nothing like anything going on now, or ever. The band still manages to capture the complicated things inside their heads, and painstakingly execute the record they are looking to make, and they take a long time, but eventually when the work is done, you have an undeniably urgent sound, and an overwhelming resume by one of the worlds last great innovators. So, before i do my track by track commentary, let me heard, and im shouting from the mountaintops, this new album by Mew is one of the best albums i have heard, since 2005, when i heard their last album ;) ;) First, some of the things, deemed "bad" about the record...
Gone is a lot of the nerdy prog rock that made the last album really special. Much less guitar overall in the mix and performance. The element of bassist Johan Wohlert (who left after ATGHK) is missing, and from assumption, he was the "heavier" element, because his new band, The Storm, has that nerdy prog-rock Rush thing going on a bit, so my guess is that was the missing piece to the puzzle. After that, i cannot honestly think of anything anyone could complain about, oh, maybe the fact that its so damn hard to remember the album title. Ok, now onto the important matters...

I won't be suggesting stand out tracks, because every song on this record is amazing!!! The album has a TON of atmosphere, and is keyboard heavy, vocal heavy. A lot of vocal experimentation is here. The album has a much less heavy attack, and is replaced by lots of drifty dancy pop songs, but the song writing here is so off the wall. A lot of songs are slow burners, where they play out over 5, 6,7 minutes long, and continually progress into other things. In a lot of ways, this album is more complicated than the past records. Sure, when i first heard it all the way through, i thought "um, this needs to grow on me" but i was patient with this one, as anyone needs to be. That is the key here: Patience, because we needed a lot of it, to give the band time to construct it. They deserve our patience and focus. This album is a stranger at our door, who once we get over the hump of inviting them into our home, will become a best friend to us.

1. New Terrain - This song starts the album off on an odd note. A good thing. Sounds like it is backwards, as if the band performed it backwards, and then they reversed it, so you could hear what they were trying to say/play. Weird idea. Then the song blows into this huge heavy dark wall of sound. Epic. Awesome. There is a twist of 80s new wave here too. The song ends with a beautiful keyboard, ala, the circuitry of the wolf from the last album.

2. Introducing Palace Players - This was the first song the band shared on the myspace site before the rest was heard. Whoa!!! Crazy timing on the drums and guitar, etc. Then it blows into a crazy jagged guitar funk song, with really technical drum work. Over top is gushing keyboards, and Silas layered vocals, carrying the melodies and the overall flow. This reminds me of Special, as i said before.

3. Beach - YES! A feel good quirky pop song. Beautiful. Catchy. Continually growing. Lots of vocals. So great!!!

4. Repeat Beater - Another song that was released before hand, on a special EP (along with Introducing...) This is the song that should be on radio, right now. Short, sweet, faster, tons of layers. I have no freakin idea what this band is doing, but it makes me want to go out and so something. I could listen to a 30 minute version of this song, but we get a 2 minute version here, making us want much more.

5. Intermezzo 1 - Less than a minute segue into another track. Weird keys.

6. Silas The Magic Car - Energy slows down here, just for a few minutes, to give us a beautiful quiet song, with a lot to look for. This song gives us a great simple stripped down vocal performance, which is good to hear once and a while from this band. Wow, such a great song. Makes me want to drive around on a summer night.

7. Cartoons And Macreme Wounds - Back to epic. This song starts with a Mew interpretation of The Beach Boys, vocally. The song goes into some strange tripped out territory after a minute or so. I cannot picture how this would sound live. So weird, so beautiful. Makes the hair stand on my neck. This is a more progressive song, i love it, it keeps growing into more, and different things. It gets quiet for a moment, and then there are several minutes to go. So inventive. Songs like this make me want to keep going in my own music, but songs like these also make me wanna give up!!!

8. A Dream - A short little segue into the next song, where Silas is just singing the title of the album in a weird pattern, with a quiet guitar, bass, drum performance. Beautiful even though its not really a full song.

9. Hawaii - Yes, weird drums and sounds, reminding me of Porno For Pyros a little, during their Good Gods Urge album. A full band doing the vocals together, the guitar is picking like a ditty, and it sounds like Mew street music. Oh but wait, a minute in, the surfy sounding guitar comes in, and the song takes a whole new direction. This is a great summer song, and even though i described it as a song that fits the title, its really not. Weird. Another slow burner, because half way into the song, it goes into a huge sounding, epic wall of sound, like the last record. Beautiful. Who saw that coming???

10. Vaccine - My wife and I agree that this is another song that should be a single. Super catchy beautiful upbeat song. The song builds and builds, and explodes into progressive funky weird pop. Then this song goes into a doomy dark heavy drum pounding conclusion. EPIC, people, like you wanted it to be!!! Godsake, this album doesn't just keeps delivering...

11. Tricks - This is really 80s dark new wave, meets Radiohead (ala Thief) Real danceable. Another catchy song. Great guitar moments. One of the more drifty songs too, it feels like they are floating away. I love the use of 80s sounds.

12. Intermezzo - Another minute long segue into the next track. Weird keyboards, and weird drums.

13. Sometimes Life Isn't Easy - Ok, back to epic, big, progressive slow, and everything else in between. I cannot give this (or many) songs any justice. There are horns, there are tons of keys. There are drum beats and percussion that are all over the place. Distorted bass. Acoustic guitars. Now, a beautiful break with pianos and keys, the song is building into something huge, finally exploding into one of the most beautiful moments on the record. Really catchy pop with lots of things going on. I know i keep repeating myself, but even though i keep describing it the same, there is simply no way to explain this sound to you. Its on its own ground completely!! One of my favorite songs, to be sure!!!

14. Reprise - Shhh...quiet keyboard/drum/guitar instrumental version of Silas The Magic Car, but it grows into an entirely new song of its own. Slow gothic sounding keyboards. Huge echoed guitars, tons of ambience. Back to quiet. Fantastic keyboard exit, slow and quiet. Wow. My mind has officially been blown!!!!

Now, a rant. I want to hear from people who keep saying this record isn't as good, or isn't interesting you, if you say you are a Mew fan. Honestly, how on earth does one person come to a conclusion that this record is not worth the time and money, unless they did a one time glance, and judged it without the patience and study that it deserves. I have listened to this carefully well over 10 times, and i am consistently introduced to new ideas, that are deep within the songs up front elements. Show me where Mew has gone wrong here. For every con, i will give you easily 10 pros. The proof is in the pudding!!This is easily the best record of 2009, so far, but like i said, its albums like this, that i put up high, and compare to others, and bands like Coldplay, and Radiohead have HUGE shoes to fill now. Mew have not broken into mainstream American audiences.....yet....and if this record (and really, the last) didn't do that for them, like it did in their own country, than music is really, officially dead. Lucky for us (and Mew) they are the opening band for Nine Inch Nails, on Trent's last tour, which will no doubt get some heads turned over to Mew's inventive sound. When this record drops (August 25) go buy it, and cherish it. There won't be a record this good, for a long long time!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Tooth & Nail Records - 2009

The Crucified, for those of you who have no idea, was one of the greatest hardcore/thrash/punk bands to ever grace the earth, and even better...they were singing about Jesus Christ, back in the days when both the music, and the message were far from the normal concert going experience!!! I have been a fan ever since the Self titled debut album on Pure Metal records (I think that was the label), back then Christian radio actually would play stuff like this, i know, its unheard of, right? Anyway, so I never got to see The Crucified, i started my annual trekking to Cornerstone Festival (The land of great concert opportunity) in 1994, a year after they had broken up, or were breaking up. I skipped 1995, and of course, the band decided that was a great time to play again...for the last time!!! UGH!!! So, here it is 2009, 25 years after the band had begun (1984) and to celebrate the work of this pioneering hardcore band, not only did the band get back together, to play EVERYWHERE BUT HERE...but Tooth & Nail decided to be cool again, and release something worth my time and my dime, the ENTIRE recorded work of The Crucified, remastered, some remixed, complete with a DVD to boot!!! Holy shit, this is great news!!! I will break down each disc...there are three...

Disc 1 - DEMOS

-KGB (1985)
Kids in Gods blessing? According to the booklet, that is what the band name, at the time, stood for. Cute!!! There are 10 tracks of really raw punk rock. The performance is tight, but you can tell the band is just getting started.

-Take Up Your Cross (1986)
Ok, 1 year later, the band is tighter, faster, and harder than before. Still a raw punk rock sound. Better production. Highlights here: Silent Scream, Seal Number Four, Directed Youth, Washed Out/Apathy demo, Freedom

-Nailed (1987)
Another year, and another step towards harder, faster, punk rock. This demo sounds, production wise, like a step backward, but the songs on here are much better. This demo is much shorter too, which is too bad because every song kicks ass.
Highlights: All 7 songs

- Live At The New Order (1989)
Like all of these releases, this was originally a 7 song demo, displaying live versions of the songs, mostly from the Nailed release. The sound quality for 1989, and for punk rock, is supurb! The performance makes me jealous i was not there when it all went down. A good preview of what the band was like in those glorious late 80s!!
Highlights: Conviction/Seal Number Four, Death To Death

-Ocean Records Demos (1993)
So, there were 2 songs that survived the break up of the Crucified, songs that were, separated and released on compilations in the early 90s, and were supposedly the scraps of an attempted 3rd album recording. The cd booklet for this box set states that the band found themselves struggling to continue writing a new album, and that was why they ended the band. Honestly, im suspicious that there were darker, personal reasons left out of this collections commentary, but for what its worth, these 2 songs are the best the band ever sounded, in production and song writing, and i find it really hard to believe the band could not take a year or so, and write 8 more that sound like these!!! Its a DAMN SHAME, Power Of God is one of the best hardcore songs ever put to tape!!!!! The remixing of the songs also made this a enjoyable listen. But more on remixing, later...
Highlights" both songs, Power Of God, and Straining Life.

Disc 2 - ALBUMS

- The Crucified (1989)
Ahh yes, the crushing debut full length that took a giant step into thrash metal territory. Thank God they did, this stuff kills. This album always bring back memories of my youth, rocking out, air guitar playing, to this "tape". My only gripe with this album is the production has too much high end, and not enough bass guitar in the mix. I was hoping they would (could) remix this, and although we do get a great remaster job here, the mix is the same. I will assume it was out of the bands hands, or the tapes were not in good condition, or perhaps the band just doesn't have them?!?! Who knows...who cares.
Highlights: The whole record, not a bad song!!!

- The Pillars Of Humanity (1991)
The pummeling last record by this great band, displayed here, remixed, remastered, and sounding better than ever. The production suffered all these years, and there was so much more offered than we realized, now hearing the drums and bass so much better, as well as Marks voice loud and clear in the mix! The songs on this album are absolutely crushing, and they have the best breakdowns. The guys perform their asses off. The lyrics are pretty good too, considering the times. OMG, seriously people if you are fans of old school hardcore and thrash, you will absolutely love this album. Its my fave Crucified album by far, and it gets better as it goes.
Highlights: The whole frickin cd!!!!

Disc 3 - DVD

The 3rd and final disc, is a dvd featuring nearly two hours of never before seen footage (20+ songs from various live shows, behind the scenes footage from 1987 to 1992, and more) Having not seen the band, and youtube lacking any real footage, this was a HUGE deal to me. The quality is great, and there is a bunch of funny tour footage. I especially loved the footage of Jeff pumping gas, with the bands manager, both acting like rednecks. Hilarious!!! I also loved the footage of the band hanging out at WORD records headquarters!!! There is also footage of Mark singing, with a full head of hair, which took me by surprise. I don't know, this is a lot of Crucified, wrapped up in a tight package, for very little money, and it is highly worth your dime, so go pick it up and support one of the last great Christian bands, and who knows, maybe they will keep going and give us that 3rd album we have all hoped for, afterall!!!

Scaterd Few, its your turn!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Support my very Independent cancer benefit...


The following merchandise is available now, proceeds going to the Pierce family benefit, from now, until August. After august, the proceeds will fund the new Unteachers album, being funded completely by the band, with full color 12"LP vinyl. If your a fan, please support both causes...


(For fans of dark noise/ambient/industrial/avant-garde)

1. Zzz...zzzz....x!
2. I Have Sympathy
3. The Diary Entries Of A Mad Man
4. A Banshee
5. Eye Want Your Girlfriend
6. Roast Beast (Eating A Pig's Thoughts)
7. Kiss Off!
8. I Dance To The Beat Of Doldrums
9. Steal My Joy (Mermaid)
10. Weddings & Funerals


(Live album, from our "40 Days Of Disaster" tour with Underoath, Narcissus and FewLeftStanding, in July of 2000, at Tom Fest, this cd is out of print, and has 2 unreleased tracks)

1. Cliffy Huntington Standing In Front Of The Entertainment
2. The Devil's House Of Techno
3. Chiroptera Armada
4. Conestoga Cougars
5. For The Birds
6. Fatigued
7. The Lyre And The Pipe
8. Downtrodden!



(Individual pin orders, $1)


(Signatures from Members of TOTM and Narcissus, available, at your request, these posters are out of print)

Also available, Furnace Fest 2000 original posters, same price, same info, not pictured)

Send well hidden cash, money orders, or checks, made out to:
Stephen Sarro
3233 Lincoln Highway E.
(apartment 2)
Paradise, PA 17562

Also, coming later this summer, TANTRUM OF THE MUSE - THE HEART IS A 2 HEADED SPERM - 10 Year Anniversary Remastered, with bonus tracks...


UNTEACHERS - LOGOS - SPLIT 7" Coming later this year!!!

I am also working on a follow up to Sympathy For The Living, yes i know i said that a year ago. I am doing this, because i always wanted to, and because of the kind of "album" it is, and what i want it to be, it doesn't need label backing, major recording, etc. Its going to be very similar to SFTL, but with better production, and better material. It will be a single track, half hour long musical experience, and the proceeds of this recording, will go toward the biggie, that being the debut Unteachers full length record, as of yet, untitled. I plan on recording the album, that i have been off and on, working on, for years. It is the follow up to Tantrum Of The Muse's Modernmu$ick(2000)!, and is technically, the 3rd TOTM full length, only with a name change!!! I waited many years to work on this, but sat around, looking for a band to work on it with me. I decided for myself, its very unhealthy for me, as an artist, to hold onto my art any longer. With this major swallowing of my pride, i decided i will exist as a musician and an artist, on my own terms, by my own hands, since relying on other people, only stops you, constantly, and because this sort of album, is an overwhelming amount of work and performance, it is not as simple as just grabbing any person you know who holds down a basic beat or strums a basic riff. Joining me (hopefully) on drums will be Rick Wise (TOTM drummer). He and I started TOTM, and recorded the 1st album, as a "power duo" and so my plan is to return to that simple way of expression!!! The merch that i make available, will be to fund bigger projects. Please consider supporting that, knowing that i always give my songs away for free, when i can, in the past especially, i have continually been a giver, to those who care to keep my songs in existence. When I have literally, 0 funds or 0 label support, to move forward, and have to make the painful decision to fund everything on my own, not making that much money in my own personal life, it only makes sense to make the merch available for a fair price, always putting $ back into the product making process!!! Eventually, if i can make enough to continually create more records, more songs, more merch, i can give away, when necessary!!!

So, stay tuned, and support me if you can and desire to.



Sunday, June 7, 2009

NIN-JAHHH!!! Etc...

Finally...I got to see the "real" Jane's Addiction!!!

Alright, so my friend Byron and i went to Camden NJ, to see Nine Inch Nails and the glorious Jane's Addiction play this past friday night. There were other bands, like Tom Morello's new band, "Street Sweeper" but i heard them, and i did not like them at all, so we arrived "purposely late" and missed them, helping me enjoy a less distracting musical evening! We had lawn seats, which was not something we were proud of, considering it was heavy rain the night we went, but we could not afford the pavilion seating, which sold the cheapest tickets for $70 give or take, however when we arrived our $25 lawn tickets were upgraded for $10 more, to available pavilion seats!! YES!!! This made up for the $20 parking!! At least now we will be closer to the stage, and we will manage to stay dry!! We got our tickets, and made our way to the seats, when NIN started kicking the doors in. We sat in our seats, but they had us seated way too far to the right. Fortunately there were a few rows of seats empty, so we just jumped ahead and walked left and made ourselves at home!!!



Beginning Of The End
March Of The Pigs
The Line Begins To Blur
The Big Come Down
Head Down
Gave Up
Banged And Blown Through
The Downward Spiral
Mr. Self Destruct
The Day The Whole World Went Away
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

NIN had a ton of energy, and played a very different kind of show. It was weird. I almost felt like i was watching a really awesome NIN cover band. The guys on stage seemed in good spirits, and just tried to connect emotionally to the songs, but couldn't, instead choosing to have fun, knowing that they were not the angry brooding emotionally unstable band that they used to be. Having Robin Finck back in the guitar spot, made it a much better show. He has a ton of charisma!! Trent made a few jokes about not singing the songs with the passion, but that he would try harder. Those who do not know whats going on with him, he recently found his significant other, and if im not mistaken, they are getting married. Happy Trent still put on a hell of a good show. I have to admit, some of the smashing of gear on stage seemed a bit forced, but when Trent threw the mic stand 20 feet into the air, during one of the heavier songs, the crowd literally gasped. My favorites from the set, of course were the Broken/Downward Spiral/Fragile moments, and it was great to hear Mr. Self Destruct, and Heresy live, even if the lyrics "God is dead and no one cares" seems so immature, that song and that album still blows me away, and i never thought i would hear those older, heavier tunes live again. Of course, they played Wish, and that was one of the crazier songs live. This was my 2nd time seeing NIN live, and while i would never rank this show up there with the likes of the earlier tours, it was still really fun, and exciting, as any big loud arena concert in 90s spirit could be, and it was certainly a unique show, and a very different NIN, which i found refreshing. Its nice to hear those demented industrial songs, coming from a band that didn't dress the part!!!




Three Days
Ain't No Right
Pigs In Zen
Then She Did...
Up The Beach
Mountain Song
Been Caught Stealing
Had a Dad
Ocean Size
Ted, Just Admit it...
Summertime Rolls
Jane Says

It was a long time coming for me. I had been a Jane's Addiction fan since the genius that is Ritual De Lo Habitual!!! I listened to Porno For Pyros, I watched as members of Jane's Addiction reunited, without their much needed bassist, Eric Avery, replacing him with guys like Flea, and Chris Chaney, but it was never right. I watched Perry Farrell go solo, and i have enjoyed all of the music, especially porno for pyros, but still...i never got to "see" JA live. Then Perry went and started a terrible band with his wife, called, Satellite Party, and just stole all of my hope away, to ever see a proper Perry rockfest!! So here it is, the reunion of the real JA!! The lights went down, and a giant video screen in front of the stage started playing some weird movie clip. There was a young kid, and an older gentleman, talking about music. The kid says something like "I like Jane's Addiction, i wish i saw them before they broke up" followed promptly, by Eric Avery's intro bass line into "Three Days", with Perry saying the "At this moment" speech, from the album. The concert lights came on, the screen lifted up, and there they were. Beautiful!!! Opening with the masterpiece Three Days, brought a calming element, everybody was just chilled out, and watched them grow the set into what it would become. As the band played into the more punk energy, i was holding out for those Perry banshee vocals, that he is known for. I noticed he was holding back a bit from doing a lot of the wailing that makes the JA songs so awesome. This was a bit of a let down. The band more than made up for it though, playing the music like they never left!! i noticed the songs were tuned down a bit. That, and Perry's less than dramatic approach reminded me that he did turn 50 this year. Sad that the ferocious and hardcore elements were missing this time. But, looking at that set list, hearing the band play those songs perfectly, and hearing, even a less than perfect Perry Farrell...finally...was still a moment I will not forget!!! The banter between Perry and the audience was fun. He is always saying weird stuff to people, and gets reactions from the crowd. I especially loved the fact that he pointed out that Camden NJ, was really just Philadelphia!! "Well lets call ourselves friends for now, we will work on calling ourselves lovers later" was a funny line as well. The band ended with the sweet sounding, Jane Says, with Eric and Dave jamming, on stools, with acoustics. Steve was doing the percussion, etc. It was a great way to say good night.

I dunno. Those songs are so old now, and so are the band members, that i struggle to find any more expectations than i received on friday. Having the real JA back in business, makes me hopeful for new material, and i think that is where we will see the vital JA again, creating something new. Having Avery back was so important to the band's sound, and it will be interesting to hear the band, not just playing the old tunes, but playing something new!!! The point of this tour was to rekindle, i think, the Lollapalooza days, when JA reigned supreme, and NIN was getting started. It was a sweet thought for sure, but what happened was the creation of a very different kinda NIN-JA, i mean come on, a happy NIN, and a 50 year old Perry Farrell, 2 things i thought i would never see!!!

and now for something completely different...

I am a huge Sam raimi fan. Most people who know me, know that i am a big time horror movie fan!!! Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army Of Darkness, are 3 movies i have put on the very small list of "Essential classics" but Raimi, left his horror movie roots behind him, many years ago. You can count Darkman, i guess, as a horror movie, but that was also...a long time ago. Raimi went on to become a bloated hollywood blockbuster director with the Spiderman trilogy (Spiderman 2 being the only good one in my eyes) and honestly, with the plague of terrible horror remakes, aimed at getting ticket sales from 16 year old kid with allowance, and the over use of cgi in movies, i didn't expect much from my boy Raimi, and then finding out the movie was rated PG-13, i almost gave up hope. But, I saw the trailer, which looked good. Ahh, but most movie trailers show the best parts of movies, so they all look "good", i had little expectations. Then the reviews started pouring in, and they were all good. Everyone was saying it was comparable to the Evil Dead trilogy. Are you f***in kidding me??? I could not wait to see this thing, but how could it be so good, without an R?? Well, for starters, i learned that the rating system is political!!! Sam Raimi made one hell of a movie, and he did not hold back AT ALL!!! in the first 5 minutes, we see a child...yes a child, dragged into the "storybook view of" hell, you know, the big fire pit in the ground? Geez, that was harsh Sam!!! What we get for the next hour and a half, is non stop edge of your seat craziness, ala, Evil Dead, baby!!!! I could not believe how well it fit into the old movies he made in that dusty cabin!!! This movie is AS GOOD as Army Of Darkness, but it is much darker, and has the feel of Evil Dead 2, with its demented comedic edge, not as good of course as ED2, but you get the drift!!! The acting is very good, the effects are great, there is very little cgi, the style of film is purposely cheap looking in areas, unlike the deceiving poster art you see here, It is just old school horror, with an excellent story, a ton of fun to watch, and concluding with one of the best endings i have seen in a horror movie, in years!!! If you have not already done so, see this movie, and salute Raimi, for not just saying he has returned to true horror, but for actually demonstrating it!!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

U2 - No Line On The Horizon

U2 - No Line On The Horizon
1. No Line On The Horizon
2. Magnificent
3. Moment Of Surrender
4. Unknown Caller
5. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
6. Get On Your Boots
7. Stand Up Comedy
8. FEZ - Being Born
9. White As Snow
10. Breathe
11. Cedars Of Lebanon

First of all, I feel i must set the record straight about U2. They are quite possibly the greatest rock band the world has ever seen. I am a massive U2 fan, and i can say that about them confidently, based on the existence of records like...well the first half of their discography, to be perfectly honest. While I am a fan, i am also a purist, when i listen to this band. Sure its fair to cut them a break, they are middle aged men, and they have nothing else to prove. Why not let them just rock, right? That is fine, as long as the band, and the fans are honest. If U2 could stop saying "We feel strongly that this new album is some of the best material we have ever created" and instead say, "We are middle aged rock stars, we have made enough money, we have said all that needs to be said, we just wanna keep creating the most creative music that we can, why stop, when we still have songs in us"? I feel like i could, at least, respect that. But, with No Line On The Horizon, it is clear that U2 are not done trying to be the innovative, and break new ground. Fair enough, but now that you know that i deeply admire this band, and most of their work, I have to admit, this new record is, at best, worth EP status. First the positives...

For starters, and much like the new Cure and the new Morrissey, U2 have finally shaken their age off, and stepped it up in way of performance. I always felt that since "All That You Can't Leave Behind" the band was starting to sound middle aged, and anything they were doing from that point on, was a pursuit to have some element of surprise. They finally landed a record that has a sense of urgency again. Bono is singing the best he has sung in a long time. He is backed up by some over the top playing. Production wise, i cannot really complain. For what they aimed to do, the production is there.

The problem with this album, for me, is that in a time when U2 finally found their niche for writing simple songs again, they are trying on something completely new, and the songs just are not there.

There have always been changes going on in their career, and i loved every minute of it, until they got to 1997's Pop. They lost me there. Then, Bono lost his voice, and that was one of the greatest parts of the band. It took quite a while to get his voice back, and i dont think he was capable of carrying a tune again until "How To Dismantle...".

This record really reminds me of where the band was around the time of Pop, where the the elements were more reliant on electronics, and vocal experiments, and less of the soaring melodies, and soulfulness of the Edge's guitar playing. There are a few moments on this album, where we get classic U2, but for the most part, the songs are focused on getting away from classic U2, and having confidence in breaking new ground. You can tell that Brian Eno set out to help them do that too. It all sounds well and good, and it worked for bands like Coldplay, but the songs just aren't working here. Too much quirkiness in vocal ideas (Bono sorta talk singing over songs) There is too much "disco funk U2" here as well, again, ala Pop. I have always hated that element of U2, and this record is highly produced, electro-infused, party U2 again.

If your looking for "classic" U2, there are a couple of tracks to mention. There is only ONE song that sounds, truly, and undeniably U2, Achtung era, and its called "Magnificent" mark my words people, this is going to be a single. It is drenched with that U2 power we have come to love. The album opener "No Line On The Horizon", is the best example of the band "doing the new thing" but also keeping it interesting. There are several tracks though, that are slow moving and feel like they should break into something, but they never do. The last half of the album (again, like the new Cure) falls completely off, giving us songs that sound, literally, half written. I was not a fan of the single, Get On Your Boots, either. It had a few good ideas, but for the most part, it was just annoying and embarrassing, especially when Bono starts yelping "Let me hear the sound, let me hear the sound" over and over.

I dunno, it really sounds to me like an EP and a bunch of b-sides.

I know a lot of new U2 fans have come to the surface, since Vertigo. What i find funny about this album, i cannot imagine those fans liking this record. But, i cannot see many of the old fans liking it either. It will truly be interesting to see the audience response to this cd. I know there are people who are more interested in defending the music of U2, than being honest. There has got to be a number of people out there who think the last few records from U2 were the best. But, many more of us know that is CRAZY!!!

Much like movie remakes that swarm the theaters these days, you can take the stance of "Its ok to make them, if they are good, we will hold onto them and embrace them, if they suck...we still have the originals" I kinda take that stance with middle aged legends. If they suck, i still have the old records. If they are worth listening, than welcome back. At least i don't pay for music anymore, only to find out that it sucks. Ahh the beauty of downloading mp3s.

I for one, appreciate that U2 want to try to keep evolving, i just wish that they would hear what works, and hone in on that sound. An album of songs like the first 2 songs, would have made this a TRUE U2 album, not to argue with!!