Retrospect, Ho. (TFTB #42,425)

Been a while, hasn’t it?

Yup, It sure has. But like a bad case of gas, I’ve risen from the electronic gullet of the internet to whine about more stuff. Actually, this time, I’ve got a point. No whining, even. Maybe a little.

It’s an election year, after all.

2000 > 2004

The country has suffered greatly in the four years that George W. Bush as been in office. We’ve heard about the big stuff, of course. But there’s a whole hell of a lot more that’s gone on, and while not DIRECTLY assosiated with Bush, I’m absolutely sure he’s been responsible for some of the lame changes between then and now.

1. N’sync eclipses the Backstreet Boys as the world’s biggest boy band.

Yeah, I know. Kind of stupid of me to point out music everyone on the internet hates, but hear me out. Go back in time and ask around. N’sync was considered the more irritating of the two bands. “It’s gonna be May” and “Bye Bye Bye” were skin-curling songs for those of us with male genitalia. And the name… yikes. In time, N’sync destroyed their slightly more homoerotically named cousin, and then the most annoying member… Justin Timberlake… got his own record of annoying songs. And he started acting like a thug, and things like that. I had faith in the Backstreet Boys to stand in the way of such jackassery. I guess my faith was unfounded.

Why this is Bush’s fault:

Bush’s boring, repetitive, unfufilling presidency marked the end of the good feelings that fed the pop explosion of the late 90’s. But people still wanted unfufilling music to go with their increasingly horrible lives, and Justin Timberlake could deliver.

2. Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez cease being hot.

Another thing that happened involved two famous ladies, Jennifer Lopez, she of the giant gluteous, and Britney Spears, she of the (formerly) unpopped cork. How did two women, so beloved in 2000, go from sex symbols to revolting skanks so quickly? There are no easy answers. Therefore, I blame Bush.

Why it’s Bush’s fault.

Bush’s military dickheadery after 9/11, and the invention of the completely useless terror alert, made Ms. Spears believe her time was soon at hand. Knowing she could die tomorrow, she threw herself at the closest, squeakiest thing around… Justin Timberlake. A few phalluses later, she’s the chunky, smoking, white-trash thing gumming up supermarket tabloids with her cellulitic bum. As for Jennifer Lopez… well, she just became a bitch.

3. Barbie leaves Ken

Faster than you can say “traumatic for young girls,” Ken and Barbie split up. The reasons for this move (aside from obviously giving Barbie a multicultural boyfriend, who, we all know, is better than any white man) are mysterious, however, Bush’s involvement in it is not.

Why it’s Bush’s fault:

Bush and the Right’s stand regarding the Federal Marriage Amendment act caused a lot of controversy in the Matell household. Barbie, a rigid right-winger, constantly referred to the “faggots” trying to “gay up” marriage. Ken nodded solemnly, and continued to vigorously eat his clam chowder. Finally, tired of Barbie’s homophobic nature, he beat the shit out of her, and went looking for a woman. Or a man. You never know with that guy.

4. Ludacris sucks

I have to admit, I loved the guy when he first showed up. As long as he was rapping about ho’s, that was. I mean, c’mon. “You’s a Ho” was great, but “Ho’s in different area codes”… heh heh, that was an AWESOME song. But of course, he now has to submit to buttmunchery. Not Bush’s fault, but I’ll still blame it on him because of…

Why It’s Bush’s Fault:

Fox News. Bill O’Reilley, the splotchiest, ugliest, no-talenthavingest talk show “host” out there decided to take his hatred of black folks mainstream. Seeing Ludacris, a black fellow, was getting a good-paying deal endorsing Pepsi, Bill bawled, “That n*gger is making money! Grrr!”. So Bill O’Reilley grew a vagina, somehow got pregnant, spread his legs, and had a baby over the whole deal on live TV. Pepsi, being made of eunuch little sheep, of course cast Ludacris aside. Now Ludacris is mad, and has to make stupid angry music, rather than his ho-heavy songs of yesteryear. Thanks a lot, George.

5. Dave Matthews releases “Everyday”

Dave Matthews is awesome. Many of you don’t think so, but that’s because you have horrible taste in music, so shove it. Anyway, Dave released “Before these Crowded Streets” in 1998, which was, in my view, his best. Great music all around, yo. But then… in early 2001… out he craps “Everyday”. And little babies worldwide break into tears. The sheer lameness of “Everyday” could have killed thousands while concentrated.

Why it’s Bush’s fault:

The election fiasco of 2000 was a horrible time for America. As James Baker hid pro-Gore ballots in that deep, somehow vaginal pouch in his neck… as the Avon lady went to Katherine Harris’s house, took one look, and said, “you know, you’ve had enough”… as whiny, dickless Republican activists interrupted ballot-counting… Dave was watching. And when Bush got elected, Dave decided to punish America by giving it and it’s stupid new president a stupid new album.

As you can all clearly see now, Bush is responsible not only for the major roadblocks on your path to happiness, but the tiny little potholes, too. Keep this in mind on election day.

-Bishop

Council of Elders

(By Guest Author Connor Cleary)
Once there was a town, this town was run by a council of elders. The elders could only achieve a position on the council by gaining the respect of the people. The town lived happily and the people were free, other than the basic rules that any society must live by without destroying itself. Sometimes there would be war with surrounding towns, but this particular town was more powerful than those around it. The people were encouraged to stay inside the town as much as possible for their own protection from surrounding towns.

But there was an incident. A small group from a neighboring town snuck inside the walls and slaughtered a family and then took their own lives in the name of their God. The Town Council immediately set up a line a few hundred feet outside the town with markers and informed the people that they were not allowed to go outside said barrier. They explained to the people that outside this line they could not protect them sufficiently, the town that attacked them worshipped a heathen God, and could not be trusted. It was for the people’s own safety, so they gladly agreed, and thanked the elders for protecting them.

In the name of safety for the people, the Council decreed that anyone who passed beyond the barrier was considered a deserter and would not be allowed back into the town. A group of people were enjoying the surroundings of the town when they saw a batch of wildflowers just beyond the barrier. They passed the markers and picked flowers for some time, until the guardsmen of the town, on their patrol, found them. The people tried to explain that they only went outside the barrier to pick flowers, but were arrested and imprisoned.

The people of the town began to worry that their Council was becoming too unforgiving and not listening to the people. When the issue was brought before the Council, they explained to the people that the imprisoned were heretics and were consorting with those who worshipped the heathen God, and the people thanked the Council for protecting them.

The next day the Council decreed that no one was allowed to go outside the town walls without proper supervision by the Guardsmen. They explained that if there were already heretics inside the town, then they could not risk anyone conspiring with those who worshipped the heathen God. The people were upset, but understood that the Elders were only being cautious, and the people thanked the Council for protecting them.

In the town square the next day, the people who were imprisoned for consorting with those who worship the heathen God were executed. A small group of people protested, and when their cries went unheard they attacked the Guardsmen and were killed as well. After searching their homes, the Guardsmen found evidence that they were also conspiring against the people of the town. The Council told the people that they would be giving the Guardsmen the right to search people’s homes if they were suspected of conspiring against the people, and worshipping the heathen God. The people were appalled; they were upset and brought to the Council the issue. The people stated that their lives were their own, and they wouldn’t allow them to invade their homes. So the Elders explained to the people that when they searched the homes of the heretics, they found plans to destroy the town, and they couldn’t allow the possibility of another group conspiring to destroy the town. The people understood, and thanked the Council for protecting them.

Within the next week, in the name of the people’s safety, they were no longer allowed to lock their doors, or block their windows. Anyone caught speaking badly about the council was immediately taken in for questioning, and his or her home would be searched. The Guardsmen had complete control over the people, and the Council had complete control over the Guardsmen. The people were without rights, without freedom…

..and the people thanked the Council for protecting them.

Enjoy The Silence 5

I apologize in advance for releasing this latest column so close after my last, however I wanted to share my thoughts on this particular subject with you whilst the situation is still at hand. I wish to discuss the abduction of 3 men in Iraq, in particular one Englishman by the name of Kenneth Bigley.

The news is currently rife with the story of Jack Hensley, Eugene Armstrong from the USA and Kenneth Bigley from Liverpool, England who were kidnapped by an Al-Qaeda splinter group a few days ago. The group is headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq. The group has stated that the 3 men would be released if the countries involved with the liberation of Iraq released all female prisoners.

Sadly for these 3 men it is the policy of the USA andUK not to negociate with terrorists and Jack Hensleyand Eugene Armstrong lives ended in the most horrific of circumstances, however Kenneth Bigley is still alive…. for now. Video footage has been released from the kidnappers to Arab media featuring Kenneth begging Prime Minister Tony Blair to help save his life. Kenneth’s family has also appeared on Television in the UK urging the Prime Minister to act now to save his life.

By now I’m sure we are all familiar with the circumstances surrounding this terrible situation but what I wish to discuss is should our leaders do more to save the lives of the innocent who are helping to rebuild Iraq? Or should we leave our countrymen to undertake the risks they were surely aware of before seeking their fortune in a war-torn country?

Personally as much as I feel sorry for the families of all 3 men, I feel most sorry for George W Bush and Tony Blair. Can you possibly imagination having the lives of 3 innocent men in your hands and not being able to do anything to save them? I imagine that the guilt is unbearable for either man but surely the security of the country must be put before these 3 men alone?

It is of no surprise to me that the American prisoners never appeared on TV to plea for their lives as I imagine that the US take a much harder line of approach to situation than that of the UK whom I cannot recall this happening to in recent history. In which case it would seem that the kidnappers already knew that the US would do nothing to save the lives of Jack and Eugene, and executed them purely to signal the validity of their intent to kill for their cause.

The only bargaining tool they really had the life of Kenneth Bigley. He is their only pawn and they hope that Tony Blair perhaps is more perceptible to this kind of action.

Unfortunately for the family of Kenneth Bigley I’m sure this is not the case. For all the criticisms made towards Bush & Blair I believe they are doing the right thing and should not blackmailed into Terrorist demands like this, even if it does mean the death of our own countrymen. If our nations were to give in to these bandits now, what would stop them kidnapping people everyday in order to achieve their political goals?

It is a no win situation for all concerned in my opinion, but maybe this is the biggest signal yet to the Western world to stop trying to play god to Eastern culture.

The Gut: the Kobe Trial

Good Charlotte once said “if money is such a problem, I think we should rob them” They were talking about the “hardships” that come along with being a celebrity and how ridiculous it is for these people to complain about the fame and fortune that they were given by the public. And they are right; there are occasions where celebrities complain for no good reason. They complain about having to sign autographs or not getting enough personal space when they go out in public. In my personal opinion that comes with making 20 million for making a movie or getting paid 25 million to play third base for the New York Yankees. But where is the line drawn, where do they stop being “rich and famous” and start being people. I think the Kobe Bryant trial is a clear indication that sometimes the public can go to far.
On June 30th 2003, Kobe Bryant had sexual encounter with a 19 year old resort worker in Vail, Colorado. The young woman went to the authorities the next day and filed charges against the Lakers superstar and there was a whirlwind of controversy that followed. This turned into a trial by the public long before an actual trial was to take place. Kobe was vilified through the media and by some of the very fans that cheered him on. This young lady went to parties and bragged about it while Kobe struggled with the marital troubles it caused him and constant heckling by fans across the country. One such incident occurred in Utah, when the public address announcer made comments about Kobe’s teammate Karl Malone and said “Well at least he’s not Kob…”
The afore mentioned Good Charlotte song begins with the line “You see it on T.V. or in magazine, celebrities who want sympathy…” Kobe never asked for sympathy or forgiveness. All he asked for was to be able to go to work and do what he was paid to do.
This “trial” lasted 14 months and put Eagle County Colorado through so much stress, both financially and literally. At one point this young woman was quoted in the New York Post as saying she didn’t want money, just jail time for what he did.
On September 1st, 2004 she proved herself to be a liar once again stating that she couldn’t put up with the stress of a criminal trial but she would follow through on a civil suit. My thought process throughout this whole trial has never changed, I knew she was in it for the money and now she proved to the nation that she was never after justice, she just wanted to make a quick buck off of a one night stand she had with a celebrity. In the mean time she put Kobe, his fans, his family and her entire county through a rollercoaster ride just to get her 15 minutes of fame and make a quick buck.
The only person Kobe needs forgiveness from is his wife, if she chooses to forgive Kobe for cheating on her then that is their business, but this young woman owes an apology to the entire nation for the trip she took us on in her quest to get rich off of having sex. And to think, they say prostitution is illegal in this country.

Enjoy The Silence 4

It’s been a while but I’m back and ready to stir it up with the Media Rebellion guys yet again. I want to discuss something that I’m sure we all will have some opinion of, something that I’m positive everyone on these forums will have some memory or experience of which to speak of and that is VIDEO GAMES!

Ahhh, the countless hours, days and even weeks of my life I’ve lost to my digitized heros right from the days of Super Mario, to the present day of driving around Vice City as Tommy Vercetti popping a righteous cap in some random Haitian gangster!

How innocent it used to be when a 10-year-old could unboxed his/her SNES and be left to happily button bash over Street Fighter 2 for hours on end **SIGH!** however those days are seemingly all behind us. I hope by now you’ve not already concluded that I’m going to start ranting away about how much I love
Video Games because that is not what I’m attempting to discuss with Ye’ Faithful. I wish to discuss the impact that Video Games have on society, more
specifically games with violent content.

This is a debate that reveals it’s ugly face every few years, it has happened many times. Recently in the UK a teenager killed a schoolmate. It was vicious and unprovoked murder at it’s coldest, the victim was beaten to death with a baseball bat! Now I’m sure your thinking the same as I did when I first learnt
of this terrible incident, that the killer is surely deranged and is quite clearly a
complete psychopath for doing that to another human being.

If only we all thought that logically.

It was revealed not a day later that the killer had informed investigating officers
that he was simply re-inacting his favorite video game and that he had no realization that his actions were wrong. The Video Game in question was ‘Manhunt’. For those who have not played this (what I think is a superb game you star as the role of a convict sentenced to death by the Gas Chamber. However your execution is staged and you are abducted by a sick ‘snuff movie’ director who has elaborately set up a series of zones guarded by serial killers for you to avoid, or more to the point…. kill! All whilst on tape of course.

Yes, it’s kill or be killed but the director encourages you to kill in the most violently original ways possible, including beating people’s brains out with a baseball bat. Now whilst I can admit that the violent content of this game is totally overkill that does not make me want to go out onto the streets with glass shards and baseball bats and kill everyone in sight! However the UK media (oh how we love them!) were all over this like a fly on shit. Within days the game ‘Manhunt’ had been banned from most reputable UK game stores, the game’s creators ‘Rockstar Games’ were heavily blamed for influencing a generation of serial killers and the whole ugly debate that games are bad for you was back and bigger than ever before!

I’m doubtful that this story got outside of the UK simply for it’s impetual nonsense style of journalism however I am sure this kind of debate has occurred in the USA because people who don’t play games can never understand that playing a game does not become an obsession for most people. The only people who can be possibly influenced in this way by a video game are those who are mentally defective already, and the trigger for the killing spree could be anything from TV, a novel or just an argument with a pushy assistant at your local Wall-Mart.

The point of this debate is to determine 2 things. Are Video Games the
root of all evil? And are we letting the most criminally unintelligent
people write the news that our parents get up in the morning and digest along
with their fruit juice and cereal?

I leave the debate for you.

The Roots: The Tipping Point

Evolution: that’s what the Roots are all about. Always to carry the old-school banner and add their own flavor, the Philly-based hip-hop act set forth to expand their style on The Tipping Point, their sixth studio album. It’s also the first compilation centering on the group”s emcee, Black Thought.

The Tipping Point may start off slow, but it gets intense rather quickly. Take the album opener, “Star.” It may begin like a sleepy jazz tune, but after thirty seconds, the guitar and drums situate the mood, allowing Black Thought to encourage people to achieve their dreams. This sets the pace for the album because most of the tunes are just as powerful. After listening to “Why (What’s Goin’ On?),” Black Thought releases his emotions about how society has been mistreated and even his feelings towards combat. He spits, “2K4, livin’ above and under the law/Young teen joins the marines, says he’d die for the core/Inducted up into the goverment’s war/ Is it for land or money and oil/Funny how ain’t none of it yours.” Other highlights include “Don’t Say Nuthin,” a club-banger about rising to the top and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” a soothing song about getting through rough times.

Although the songs are cleaner on a production level, the Roots still have that rock ‘n’ roll feeling. “Boom” is a perfect example of this. With killer keyboard, insane drumming and intense guitar playing, the joint keeps building up until the chorus kicks in and Black Thought yells “BOOM!” The song has so much energy, it instantly keeps anyone’s attention. Black Thought reinforces this by incorporating a popular board game in his flow. He spits, “I could never let ’em on top of me/I play ’em out like a game of Monopoly/Let it speed around the board like an astro/And send them to jail for tryna pass go.” If you like this, you’ll flip over “Web,” a fast paced freestyle over a rock sound and a special hidden track “The Mic,” which features several guest artists expressing their love for the rap game.

There are few artists who combine energy, originality and reality into their music and yet still capture audiences with charisma and style. The Roots fill this void. Honestly, if this is just The Tipping Point, then I don’t think the world can handle the next Roots album.

The Roots: The Tipping Point
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
Record Label: Geffen
Website: TheRoots.com

Open Mic: Selling more than a Lemonade Stand!

Everything lives and eventually, everything will die. You can ask any scientist if this is true and he or she will say yes. From that annoying squirrel that crawls up your tree to those smelly socks on your feet, everything will die … or does it?

Take the legendary British rock band, the Beatles. Sure, the group broke-up in 1970 and granted, John Lennon and George Harrison died. The point is this: the music the Beatles have produced for nearly 50 years is still being listened to by millions. These men are musical icons.

Can musical icons die though? In 1999, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and KoRn were selling records like the Roadrunner outsmarting the Wily Coyote. All three acts rose to the top and started revolutions. These artists became the mother/father figures in their own genre. Once they emerged to the mainstream, so did groups and singers similar to these breakout phenomenons. The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and KoRn raised the bar in this so-called labeled “pop-culture,” selling out arenas and getting multiplatinum record status. But once those all-star albums came out, future projects couldn’t compare, those later being labeled as commercial failures. Confused yet? Let me try to break it down for you.

A lot of records are terrible, but it doesn’t matter if a particular CD sucks or not. If a CD sells more than 2 millions units, then how can someone say it’s a failure? Are critics saying it’s a failure because a lot of money was spent making it and they won’t make the dough back? That is kind of hard to believe, especially if a record reaches multiplatinum status. Is it a failure because an album doesn’t sell as much as its’ predecessor? Not necessarily. It just means it didn’t sell as well. Still a bit confused? Maybe this will help. Take KoRn’ 1998 release, Follow The Leader. It sold around 6 million copies while their 1999 album, Issues sold at least 3 million. Around 2002, they dropped another project, Untouchables and only 2 million copies were moved. Untouchables was later considered a commercial failure.

Not every album is a success story; every artist will have an album or two that isn’t hot. If you are a consistent-selling talent, then it’s nothing to dwell on, but if you are a one-hit wonder, one bad song could ruin your career. For those who are unaware, one-hit wonders are artists who have a major hit, which everyone talks about, but the next tune they try to make popular just blows up in their face and the talent falls off the planet. Remember Hansen? They came out with that memorable (and somewhat annoying) jingle, “MMMBop.” Everybody ate them up like devil’s food cake! These three boys were adolescents whom had a good tune and long blonde hair. They were on top of the world for a year … before the public got tired of them. Their next effort raised less money than a lemonade stand. Hansen joins the list of classic 90’s one-hit wonders the Cardigans, Billy Ray Cyrus, Skee-Lo and Chumbawumba, all of which are true commercial failures.

One-hit wonders die, but do music icons? I’m still trying to figure out whether they will continue selling millions of records of if they’ll die like that annoying squirrel and pair of smelly socks. Maybe I’ll find out later this year as the Backstreet Boys release their first album since 2001. But people, please do me a favor … don’t call multiplatinum success a commercial failure.

Wasted Words 32

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years already. It seems like yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital. Yet, that’s not the case. She’ll turn three years old on Thursday, September 9. As wonderful as this experience is, her turning a year older, it’s a sad experience as well. It nearly brings me to tears to look at her baby pictures and realize how much she’s grown already and how fast she’s growing. I remember first finding out that her mother was pregnant. I was so scared! I was only 21 years old and surely didn’t feel that I was ready to be a father. But, ready or not, she was coming.

September 9, 2001, was the day she was born. I was extremely nervous about being in the delivery room. Watching over dramatic births on television shows will do that to a person I suppose. It’s not quite as dramatic as they make it out to be, but it’s the greatest experience I’ve ever taken part in. You hear of a lot of guys fainting, and I have a bit of a weak stomach as well. I did well though, and really only felt light on my feet after the actual birth. I think it was more the fact of being overcome by the joy of watching my daughter being brought into the world. Yes, I cried too. It’s such an overwhelming experience to look at a human life and know that is something that you created. Ashley being born changed my life in so many ways. She has been my inspiration for all I have done in the past three years. I’ve quit smoking cigarettes. I’ve quit drinking alcohol. I look at life in a more positive light and I’m not the bitter, hate-filled person I once was. It’s all because of her. I try every day to be a better person so that I can be a good role model for my children. Something that all fathers should do.

I’ve watched her go through so many stages in life. I’ve watched her graduate from bottles of milk to eating the same food that we eat. I’ve watched her learn to crawl, walk, and talk. We’re in the process of potty training, which is a fun experience. She’s almost there! Each day brings something new for all of us and it’s the best thing in the world.

So here we are, three years later. Ashley has a new baby brother, Matthew, who she loves and takes care of as a big sister should. I look back on everything, from the time I first found out about the pregnancy, and everything that has happened up to this point. Some of it makes me happy, some of it makes me sad. Regardless, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, I’m out.

Review: Amerikaz Nightmare – Mobb Deep

The alert level has just been raised in the hip-hop world. In a summer where New York emcees have dominated the radio, the Queensbridge duo of Prodigy and Havoc, otherwise known as Mobb Deep, unleashed Amerikaz Nightmare, their sixth studio album.

These men should be considered armed and dangerous. There are three things on their minds: violence, women and money. Listen to their hot single, “Got It Twisted,” and you’ll find out they mean business. Right from the start of the song, you can hear Havoc spit over an eerie beat, “Ain’t no party once we crash the party/I’mma squeeze shorty then vacate the party/You keep grillin’, I’ll pump-pump the shotty/Put you in the trunk, then dump-dump the body.” In addition to that, the Queensbridge duo discuss their constant obsession with material possessions in the old-school sounding “Flood The Block” and brag about their flashy cars and dazzling women in “Shorty Wop.”

Don’t get the wrong idea; Mobb Deep cares about society too. “Neva Change” is a calm, eye-opening song where Havoc and Prodigy talk about some never-ending generational problems, such as the lack of family. They spit, “Mama’s didn’t take care of their kids, they let ’em roam/And you can see how he or she gonna be when they get grown.”

Mobb Deep didn’t record this album alone; there are multiple guest appearances. Nate Dogg sings the hook on “Dump,” Twista spits on the “Got It Twisted Remix,” Jadakiss raps on “One of Ours Part II” and Lil’ Jon adds some flavor on “Real Gangstaz.”

It’s obvious Mobb Deep has plans to become some of the biggest players in hip-hop and could use any means necessary in completing their task. Although we didn’t learn much about Havoc and Prodigy on a personal level, Amerikaz Nightmare shows their brutal side. Mobb Deep is back ladies and gentlemen … thanks for the wake-up call.

Mobb Deep: Amerikaz Nightmare
Rating: 3 Stars
Record Label: Jive
Website: MobbDeep.net

Wasted Words 31

Hey everyone. It’s been a while since my last column. A little more than a month actually, which is unusual. I kind of hit a brick wall on what to write about, and just had a complete case of writers block. That and I’ve been kind of busy. I went to Ozzfest, I turned 25, and I took my family to the zoo. That’s kind of become “our thing” to do in the summer, because my daughter has always loved the animals. We had a great time. Ozzfest went really well, aside from the rain in the evening. While the main stage was certainly lacking this year, the second stage was the best in Ozzfest history in my opinion. Throwdown, Every Time I Die, Unearth, God Forbid, Bleeding Through, and Hatebreed all delivered explosive sets. Even Slipknot, who I’m not usually crazy about, was great on stage. With the exception of a few songs I don’t care for much of their music, but their live show is excellent and full of energy. The main stage was pretty weak though. I didn’t watch Black Label Society, I slept through Super Joint Ritual, and I got up and walked around when Dimmu Borgir came on. I’ve never been a Slayer fan, so I didn’t watch them either though I could hear their entire show. They sounded really good. We sat through Judas Priest because the skies opened up and decided to drop a rain storm in our laps. Luckily we had pavilion seats. Judas Priest put on a decent live show, I just don’t like their music. Black Sabbath was amazing though. This years Ozzfest definitely overshadowed last years by the second stage acts alone. But anyway, enough about that, back to my case of writers block. I purchased an album the other day that finally inspired me to write something. Here it is, enjoy.

Rise Against Siren Song Of The Counter Culture
2004 Geffen Records

Chicago’s Rise Against return to us in the form of their major label debut, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture. The band underwent two significant changes since their last album, 2003’s Fat Wreck Chords release Revolutions Per Minute. They enlisted a new guitarist as well as jumped from inde label, Fat Wreck, over to major label, Geffen Records. For a punk band like Rise Against, normally the major label jump would be career suicide. In this case, they haven’t lost an ounce of their integrity and still manage to deliver the goods like they always have. Of course, true Rise Against fans knew they wouldn’t let us down.

The album starts out on a high note with the politically motivated track (as many on the album are), State of the Union. This is a very angry track, and has quickly become one of my favorites on the album. Going off of the title, it’s obvious that this song is a commentary on the current condition of our country, but the lyrics really say it all. If we’re the flagship of peace and prosperity, we’re taking on water and about to fucking sink. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Along with their politically motivated tracks, the band drop a couple unusual tracks on the album and take the listener by surprise. The first is Blood To Bleed, which is a tale of a failed relationship. Though it’s an odd track to hear from Rise Against, it’s still a great song and the lyrics are so emotional you’d swear they stole them from Chris Caraba. The other track is an acoustic track titled Swing Life Away, which was first featured on the Punk Goes Acoustic compilation. When I first heard this track on that compilation, I didn’t care for it. Not that it was a bad song, but it was too different from their previous material I was used to. However, after giving it a second chance, I really enjoy the track and think it compliments the album nicely. Tim really has a good singing voice which isn’t always given the chance to shine in most of their tracks, so it’s nice to hear it once in a while.

This album features everything a fan could ask for in a Rise Against album; powerful, thought-provoking lyrics mixed with melodic, hardcore punk rock. There is no filler on this album, and that’s how music should be. Fuck one good song on an album. Fuck albums driven by the success of a single which gets tons of airplay on the radio and MTV, only to have ten or eleven other songs that are complete shit. The shit is getting tiring and it’s bands like Rise Against who are going to come along and change that. We need more bands like these guys with major label backing so that they can get their music and their message out there. Think about that next time you cry “sellout” when an underground band goes major. My conclusion on this album, buy it. You won’t be sorry. Pick up Revolutions Per Minute and The Unraveling too.
Recommended tracks: State of the Union, Anywhere But Here, Tip the Scales

Recommended if you like:
Bad Religion
Anti-Flag

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.