22 December, 2010

Normal ... Now?

We just put our guest on a plane home. The visit did not come without it's share of surprises, challenges, and thinning lines of acceptibility. Your heart bleeds for someone that is struggling with emotions that you can relate to vehemently, you want to comfort that person. What you can't do is take them away from that reality. What happens is that reality is thrust upon you in their weakened states seeking support. In what is already a household that is seeking space - letting go of that need for room takes super human powers. But if you eliminate those diffcult, awkward episodes - you are left with a wonderful visit. The good did far outweigh the weird - I hope the problems are sorted out and an emotionally healthier path is found in the new year. I want to find my friend a year from now with a smile in his heart and add some brilliance to the b & w portrait we've begun.

16 December, 2010


Is that even spelled correctly?

A lot of people accuse me of being nice to a fault. It's that point where people take advantage of your kindness. I guess people wonder why I am that way, and usually I don't have a very good answer. Maybe it's because so few people can just be nice without ulterior motives? I'm cynical when someone does show me heartfeltt sincerity because my experience has been that believing in it leads to a very different type of feeling in the heart.

22 November, 2010

How To Destroy Angels - "How To Destroy Angels" E.P.

For the uninitiated or those that have completely given up having an interest in the comings and goings of Trent Reznor - this is a new band built around his wife, Mariqueen as a vocalist. The band is rounded out (no pun intended) by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Rob Sheridan. In a world where I never heard of Nine Inch Nails; or perhaps a world where I wished Trent was a woman - this would be a breathtaking, captivating introduction to the band. Sadly though, I'm all too familiar with NIN and the countless drones that wished to be them. I forgave Christian industrial-rock band, Deitiphobia for their borrowing from "Pretty Hate Machine"; I also really wanted to be in love with Android Lust - because this was essentially the first incarnation of Nine Inch Nails with a female vocalist - but it fell flat..  continues to fall flat, but the point is - I keep giving it another try. How To Destroy Angels hasn't found a formula on this release that is anymore intoxicating than Android Lust - so it too falls quite flat. Is it fair to measure an album or a band up to Nine Inch Nails or "Pretty Hate Machine", probably not. But I guess if you are going to follow a familiar path and the only seeming difference are lyrics and vocals - then you are asking for a comparison. If they came out of the gate as a Weezer-esque pop-punk band - I'd probably like it even less but I wouldn't be going on about NIN or phenomenal albums such as "PHM". So, relegate yourself to checking out the songs on YouTube or useful t-sites and spend your money on the re-release/remaster of "Pretty Hate Machine". Finally back in the loving hands of Trent Reznor!

21 November, 2010

Shannon Wright - "Secret Blood"

This is the second album from Shannon Wright to be released in European markets prior to a release in The States. However, that is really the only similarity between "Secret Blood" and it's predecessor, "Honeybee Girls". This album takes on much darker tones, and if this were a medicine - it would be a powerful antipsychotic with those periods between doses where the madness creeps back in. "Secret Blood" does not provide the same calm water, frivolity of "Honeybee Girls". In contrast, you are welcomed in to someone singing to you from out of their own body - abandonment, desolation, and loss paint the tone lyrically and in vocal delivery. It is a recollection to my introduction to Shannon Wright, "Flightsafety"/"Maps Of Tacit" - when emotively - she reached thru the speakers and tore your heart out. The difference here, the music doesn't reach that same aggression, the exception being "Fractured" - where she delivers an angst-driven, indie-rock powerhouse. I don't know that I'd recommend shelling out the $20+ for this import - unless like me, Shannon Wright does no wrong in your eyes/ears. If you are me then go for it, I ordered it directly from her European Distributor/Label, Vicious Circle.

10 October, 2010

15 Favorite Films

Okay, my 15 favorite films in no particular order except No. 1, that will probably always remain at top. No. 2 - probably is solidly in place as well. Some of the movies the likely would round out my Top 20 if this was a Top 20 would include Sixth Sense, Edward Scissorhands, Fargo, Dead Man, Pee Wee's Big Adventure and some more that come to mind. But without further delay, here's the Top 15.

1. Rear Window - there is nothing in this film that doesn't mesmerize me. The suspense; the actors; the mystery and dedication. Add to that, the incredible set that was built and the way that the film was shot, and it's simply unbeatable to me.

2. A Christmas Story - yes - done to death every Christmas. I remember for much of my teens and early twenties - whenever I mentioned this was my one of my top picks - I would be received by blank stares, because so few people knew what in the hell I was on about. The movie has only worked it's way into the Christmas consciousness thanks to TBS and Ted Turner's efforts. This movie excites me every holiday season because I can completely relate to the anticipation, anxiety, and over-zealousness exhibited by the movie's characters. I even went so far as to do a Nine Inch Nails remix featuring clips from this film.

3. The Shining. This movie terrified me as a child...bad enough that I looked like Danny. From the opening sequence of the car driving into the mountains and the score the accompanied it - I was struck dumb with fear and wonder. This was the scariest ghost story and still is the scariest ghost story I've ever heard.

4. The Exorcist. I was fucking two when I saw this and the story my mom likes to tell was that I was asleep in the backseat of the car at a drive-in and woke-up just in time to watch the movie playing behind us (The Exorcist) and her head began spinning around. I screamed holy terror and some synapses certainly got wired wrong as a result. This is the scariest movie I have ever seen to this day. To find out that this was a true story - well fuck - I give up.

5. Halloween - the John Carpenter masterpiece. This will never be improved upon. This is the movie I want to see every Halloween. The fall scenes, the neighborhood, the tension, the across the street shots, and the subtlety of the horror, I love this movie. I will never tire of seeing it.

6. The French Connection - this is another movie I saw as a child. When I saw it the first time, I came in at the point where the car are racing under the tram tracks. I didn't understand much about heroin dealers and dummying up cars to fill them with drugs - but I was enamored with Gene Hackman. He's an extremely talented and believable actor. I've seen the movie several times over the years and for me, this and Dirty Harry are the best cop movies ever made.

7. A Clockwork Orange. Unfortunately - one of my earliest memories is of me watching this movie. No - not really bad parenting - busy parents and I guess they thought seeing a movie like this would broaden my horizons. Did it ever. I will credit this film for why at the age of 5 I was making out with girls in the bushes in front of our home. This is another movie that took on a completely different meaning for me as I got older. The lessons it teaches is that everything we do in life takes on much bigger roles than simply the moment we live them - they will revisit us in ways we may never anticipate down the road.

8. The Changeling with George C. Scott. I saw this as a child and it scared the hell out of me. I recently purchased it on dvd and it's a lot less scary now - but I never realized how well acted the film is and how cool George C. Scott was. Still a good thriller if you are into those.

9. Night Of The Living Dead. I have to admit, I did not discover this movie until I was probably 13 or 14 and it blew my mind. This was the most interesting and intelligent filming of a horror movie I had ever seen and the holds true to today. The scenes with no dialouge for several minutes that build up a fear and anxiety about what's going on outside...brilliantly done. And in that situation - I'd react exactly as those poor souls did which adds credibility to the story. I can do without the addendums made some years later to the film.

10. Big Fish - not only could I completely relate to this movie - I also felt like for the first time, we got a glimpse into the life that created Tim Burton. This was storytelling at it's finest in my opinion. I am a sucker for Tim Burton - give me the trifecta of Burton, Depp and Elfman - and I'm all yours', but even without Depp in this instance, this is likely my favorite Burton film.

11. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. The score, the acting, Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef - fuck - it's an eye/ear orgasm.

12. Dirty Harry - again, the score! The cinematography on this film is stunning too. The scene on the football field that rapidly pulls away into inifinity - how in the hell did they get that shot??

13. Ghost Dog - I love Jim Jarmusch's films - but this one captivated me. It was the comedic aspect to an otherwise sad tale of old school mafia and urban decay.

14. Snatch - Maisy introduced me to ths one. Best role Brad Pitt has ever done hands down. Again - a comedic aspect to a tale of deception, greed, and avarice. There's even poignant moments when you want to tear your heart out over the Pikey's mom.

15. Lonestar - I fell in love with the soundtrack to this movie and a friend of mine that did entertainment reviews for NPR asked me to tag along to the theatre to see this with her. It blew my mind. The mystery that builds and the twist that smacks you across the face at the end. Kris Kristoferrson plays the biggest ass ever and destroys countless lives. This movie is even more relevant now with the debate in America over immigration.

19 September, 2010

Synapse - "Whips-N-Chains"

In the early 90's, while living in Clearwater, Florida, I began to collect local bands. Often, local release was sacrificed to new release by known artists only because I could only afford one or the other. The releases flooding out of Wax Trax Records gave local artists the inspiration to delve into pop-industrial directions. This is the only release I know of from Synapse, but this was widely distributed among local indie stores, so any other releases could have flown under my radar. "Whips-N-Chains" was produced by Dan Smith and Synapse for BSP Records at Bay Sound Studios.

Synapse was:
Shawn Bray: Vox, Sounds
Alex Algarin: Guitars
Brian Levering: Keyboards
Rick Bottema: Bass
Eddie Rodriguez: Drums

Synapse: Whips-N-Chains

18 September, 2010

Sleepy Sun, The Social, Downtown Orlando - 13 September 2010

Awesome show at The Social. This was the second time I've seen Sleepy Sun, this time they were sans female accompanyment on vocals. They still rocked the shit out of The Social. This venue is renowned for it's sound, and though this was only my second show here, they have not disappointed. The opening act was Feather Birds, a solo artist who had visual lyrics and a nice vocal delivery. Second up, Strangers Family Band. They were missing at least a half dozen individuals from the last time I saw them...but they rocked it harder than ever and didn't disappoint in the least. This was likely their last Orlando show for some time, as they are relocating to the L.A. area. I wish them all the best and I will miss their oil lamp! Sleepy Sun, if you haven't heard them are among the recent indie bands that are incorporating the psychedelia of the 60's, with the heavy thickness of early metal a la Sabbath, Deep Purple. Their energetic shows rivals the studio material 10 fold - so catch them live if you intend to check them out.

17 September, 2010

Coming Forth

In December of ‘08 - I had an inner dialougue that I wasn’t able to shake. I ignored it for awhile, but it kept offering me reminders - and the moment I listened to a single idea it had to share it was like a waterfall effect. The me inside of me was warning me of a drastic change and either I could prepare for it or not…regardless of what I did it was coming. I witnessed for lack of better phrasing - the ghosts of what was to come dance around me; taunt me; brutalize me. In part - the change was already set in motion… a decision to take a severance package or move to Orlando and remain employed. Had the economy been anything but nose-diving, I might of settled on the money… and a promise from a friend to get me a job (which I know now would have never come to fruition). Anyway - my wife and I are here since February 2009 in Orlando. Not much to offer when your view of the world is dim and narrow. It took a lot of upheaval, hurt, betrayal and figuring out what really is important to shake the bindings of broken tongues. Here I am now - seriously in disbelief how much it is different from now to Dec. ‘08. We have friends, we have people we go see and things we go out and do; people we look forward to seeing; and places that we’ve attached ourselves to. Orlando is our home now, we belong here and want to be here. God willing, we’ll even buy a home here. Nothing about where we were echoed those feelings - we were portraits of complacency and shattered will.

I’m admittedly poor at learning lessons, I’m sure it’s why Allisin comes around to this day, she’s a reminder of the shell within which I’ve buried a lot of my life, a lot of my anger, lessons, words, wants, and identity. She’s a reminder of what’s untouched at my own volition. The depth is so immense, that I have lost touch with some of those memories, yet I wear the scars as if painted on just yesterday. It’s not enough to say ‘let it all out”, certainly not so simple. Half of me says it’s a disservice to even attempt reclamation of yesterday - when there is so much to enjoy about today. I would have never gotten here to this warm, comfortable place alone. I’m not resolute with the intangible anymore - I need to see, hear and feel the space between you and I fill with the warmth of your words, the depth in your eyes, and the stories that brought you here within arm’s reach. Whether I’ll be fixed or grounded phantom doesn’t seem so important to me - it’s more a matter of whether those moments going forward are genuine and felt and more importantly… memorable.