Wasted Words 26

Recommended download: The Hurt ProcessThis Piece

Hello everyone. You know, I was thinking the other day about my column here at Baloola Palooza. It’s getting kinda stale. I mean, there’s already countless news sites out there who post a lot of the same info I write about. So I was thinking of things that I could do to refresh it, make it a little better. You know what I came up with? Nothing. No ideas at all. But rest assured, I’ll think of something. If there’s anything you, the readers, would like to see here then drop me a comment or an email. I’m definitely open for suggestions.

I was dropping off some show flyers at the record store yesterday, and picked up a couple CDs. I found both of them used, for $5.99 each. I got No Use For A Name More Betterness and Snapcase Bright Flashes. The No Use album is great, but I’ve yet to listen to the Snapcase disc. I’m sure it’s wonderful as well, every other album I’ve heard is great. I received Rise Against The Unrraveling in the mail last week. I ordered it from the Fat Wreck website. Great album, though their second release Revolutions Per Minute blows it away. Then again, RPM blows most albums away, so it’s to be expected. I just received the Rock Against Bush compilation in the mail today. I only heard one song that I didn’t like, which was Ministry, No W. I just don’t care for it. Standout tracks include Rise Against Give It All, Anti-Flag The School of Assassins, and NOFX Jaw, Knee, Music. Also, to my surprise, I’m really digging the RX Bandits track on this compilation. It’s a reggae-styled track called Overcome(The Recapitulation), which starts out slow but continually gets faster. I recommend everyone go out and buy this compilation now. I’ve watched some of the DVD that is included with the CD. There are four music videos; NOFX Franco Un-American, Anti-Flag Turncoat, Bad Religion Sorrow, and Strike Anywhere Infrared. I also watched the stand up comedy routine by David Cross. It only runs about 10 to 15 minutes long, but it’s hilarious and well worth the time spent watching it.

Thrice and Dashboard Confessional will be CO-headlining the Civic Tour this spring. The Get Up Kids will be opening the show on all dates. Other opening acts will include Motion City Soundtrack, Head Automatica, Say Anything, Hot Water Music, and The Format.

On June 8, Alexisonfire will be releasing their second album, Watch Out. At this point, the album will only be released in Canada and no American release date has been announced. Here is the track list for the album…
1. Accidents
2. Control
3. It Was Fear For Myself That Made Me Odd
4. Side Walk When She Walks
5. Hey, It’s Your Funeral Mama
6. No Transitory
7. Sharks And Danger
8. That Girl Possessed
9. White Devil
10. Get Fighted
11. Happiness By The Kilowatt

A movie about Kurt Cobain is currently in the works. The WB network has recently acquired the rights to a biography of Cobain, Heavier Than Heaven and have hired a writer to adapt a movie script based on the biography. Hopefully it’s better than the Kurt and Courtney documentary I watched a few weeks ago.

SideOneDummy has posted the track listing to the Warped Tour 2004 compilation. The double disc set, due out June 8, will feature new tracks from Taking Back Sunday, Flogging Molly, and others. You can check out the full track list on the SideOneDummy website. It should probably be a low price as the past albums have been, usually $6.99.

Three reasons July will rule for me…
1) I’ll be attending the Vans Warped Tour in Indianapolis
2) The Used will be releasing their new album
3) New Taking Back Sunday album

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

Enjoy the Silence 1

Alas, Baloolapalooza will finally get an insight into the mind of Matt Van Dam. Just for all those that know me from the PWF you will already have your head in your hands waiting for whatever grandiose and egotistical bullshit I can possibly come up with…

Well you are wrong. My intention is purely nothing more than to offer those readers of BaloolaPalooza an English spin on life in the world as we know it… or sometimes don’t. I will however add that my writing will pull no punches and will have no limitations to the possible controversy it may unravel. I will not write with the intention of pleasing other people, I write merely to amuse myself but you are all welcome to join the ride.

So what has being happening in the world lately? For me, the overwhelming topic is the War against Terrorism. Nearly 3 years on from 9.11 the world is still being plunged into chaos and catastrophe, namely by a number of mislead and impressionable individuals who are killing the innocent in the name of their God(s). Now, the whole world gets the US prospective on this situation, Bush will continue to send Americans to die, fighting to keep a country stable that seemingly cannot be saved from it’s own wrath and he expects the rest of the co-illation to do the same. But are we right to continue fighting a war we cannot win?

For me, Vietnam comes to mind when i think of what is currently going down in the Middle East. It was a case of the US forcing its own political agenda onto a nation divided by not only war, but by civilisation. Vietnam in the north and in the south is a country lost somewhere in the Ancient and the Modern and simply were not ready for what western civilisation was bringing to the table. America (or should i say its leaders) in their infinite wisdom sent hundreds of thousands of men to Vietnam to die in order to give this deeply eastern culture a shimmer of Western life… they failed.

It is reported that around 14% of the entire population of Vietnam was lost in the conflict, for the sake of politics is this something that we can just take on the chin and forget about? For me it can very easily go the same way in Iraq. Americans die, Britons die, Italians die, Japanese die and you better believe Iraqis die. My question to you all is this… should we continue to police the world and forsake our countrymen in the name of world peace when they clearly do not want us there, or should we simply police our own lands better? Crime, death, sickness and poverty are real, not just in parts of the world we can do nothing about, but in our very own Countries, Cities and Neighbourhoods. Should we really act god for the world when such things are happening on our own shores? We’ll all have a different answer to this as no particular answer is the right one, i personally feel the co-ilition should remove it’s presence from Iraq and allow them to live their own life, weather they choose to do it in peace or not.

Thanks for your audience, MVD.

Buried Treasure – Review: CT Special Forces

Fast Facts
Title: CT Special Forces
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Publisher: Hip Games
Developer: Similis

CT Special Forces came out in January 2004 with the usual hoopla of a Game Boy Advance title not headlined by a major Nintendo icon. Which is no hoopla at all, in case you were wondering. That is very unfortunate, because GBA owners are missing out on a great game for a great system that doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.

CT(Counter-Terrorist) Special Forces is a throwback to the old arcade game Metal Slug, which itself spawned several console successors, and will soon have a GBA version(which will probably be reviewed here as well). Special Forces is a side-scrolling shooter in which you take on the role of counter-terrorist agents out to rid the world of the most powerful terrorist cells. In each of the four worlds you will infiltrate enemy installations, blast apart terrorist ground forces in a helicopter, and free hostages in sniper mini-games. The variety of gameplay is what really sets CT Special Forces apart from most other side-scrolling shooters, and keeps the game from stagnating and becoming dull.

The graphics resemble the old Metal Slug games quite strongly, which isn’t a problem in my opinion because those games looked very good. You play as two different CT operatives, one clad in a gas mask and winter gear, the other in jungle fatigues. The enemies are different in each world, including parka-clad troops styled after Russians, jungle raiders resembling South American guerrillas, and of course the obligatory brown guys, most of which resemble Saddam Hussein. The chopper levels look very good, with the buildings on the ground suffering from different levels of ruination, as well as rivers running through some parts of the stages.

Gameplay is split into three basic types: side-scrolling levels, chopper levels, and sniper mini-games. The side-scrolling levels are the majority of the game and involve running around large and well-detailed environments searching for terrorist leaders to arrest(you can kill them if you want, but arresting them awards an extra life) or the item that you need to get to the next part of the area, such as a grappling hook or parachute. Of course, each of these stages is packed with enemy troops whose purpose in life is to shoot you or blow you into small pieces, and herein lies the meat and potatoes of the gameplay. Each foe requires a different strategy to defeat. Some fire high and require you to crouch and shoot, some fire low and require you to hurdle their bullets before you can kill them, and some fire chain guns, missiles, or mortars at you. The mix of run-and-gun action and deciding which weapon works best on which enemy is very satisfying and makes a stage different each time you play it.

The chopper levels involve flying a military helicopter into enemy territory, usually to drop off your CT operative into a new environment. The terrorists won’t make this easy, however, and send their own helicopters to dogfight with you. In addition, tanks fire at you from the ground and anti-aircraft batteries lauch homing missiles that take a huge chunk out of your health unless you can blow them out of the sky before they detonate. Straying from the beaten path is encouraged by health power-ups scattered in out of the way areas, although you will usually have to go through a tank or six to get to them. Sniper areas are a mid-level diversion during side-scrolling stages and require you to pick off a designated amount of terrorists within a time limit(usually two minutes). The terrorists are tricky, however, and will hide in buildings or behind obstacles in the environment to avoid being killed, only to pop out and shoot at you when you aren’t looking. In addition to killing all of the bad guys, freeing five hostages in a sniper area will earn you an extra life, which is good since I usually die at least once during these sections.

CT Special Forces is a blend of throwback gameplay with modern style, a satisfying combo that will keep gamers coming back for more. And, before I forget, keep an eye out for CT Special Forces 2, which features even more old school terrorist busting action.

Hits and Misses
+ Detailed graphics
+ Good variety in gameplay
+ Difficult but not to the point of being frustrating

– Only 12 levels
– All of the weapons used by CT operatives look the same

Bombay Dreams

I have to admit, before I start this article, that I am a bit out of practice. Out of practice of being an audience member for a Broadway play that is. It has been some time since I have seen a play and a lot has changed since the time when I would frequent the midtown theatres and second rate off-off Broadway shows on Long Island. So, feeling a bit out of touch with the grandiose world of Broadway, I made my way downtown to the Broadway Theatre to see the preview of Bombay Dreams.

Back story: Bombay Dreams is the story of a young man living in the slums of Bombay who dreams of becoming a Bollywood star to save his family’s home from destruction. Exceedingly simple plot, which I thought would grow into a predictable but endearing story. The plot includes all of the predictable twists, including romance, fame, conflict of interests and morals etc. Obviously this set up has enough leeway to prove itself either a disaster or a smash hit. Production by Andrew Lloyd Weber gave me much of the same ambivalence, with a wonderful hit like Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite musicals, and another miraculously long-running demon of a musical, the ever-infamous, Cats. So up to the point of the big opening number I was both excited and wary.

Akaash, the main character played by Manu Narayan enters and addresses the audience to prepare them for the “big opening number” (“Salam Bombay”). I assume that this little break of the fourth wall was suppose to set up the premise of the spectacle of Bollywood that the play was proposing to emulate and preparing the audience for the joking manner in which the play would repeatedly refer to itself. Unfortunately the chosen words of the script are poor. It was this that I feel was the ultimate downfall of a promising play.

The opening number was, to say the least, contrived. But there were a few redeeming values, that remained the strengths of the musical until the final exhausting curtain calls. The costumes were absolutely fabulous and ridiculous in a most endearing way, reminiscent of Bollywood flamboyance. The staging, lighting and set design are also fabulous. My area of expertise (if you can call it that) in the theatre is production, so from a technical standpoint Bombay Dreams is impeccable. The set boasts a revolving center stage, fountain and a Les Miserables barricade-esque slum contraption that is lower from the ceiling and sits diagonally across the stage. The lighting includes subtle moments as well as cheesy Bollywood flare and Broadway spotlighting for the emotional solos. Although it might sound a bit much, the overall effect is stunning.

But perhaps the most exciting element of the play is the music. The music is both true to Broadway and respectful of the strong ethnic element of the play. The cast, mostly American and British vocalist, obviously trained for the stage, does a surprisingly good job with the vocal acrobatics of Indian music that are threaded throughout the score, and sometimes prominent in the songs. There were also a few cast members who were clearly familiar with Indian style music and their strong vocal range and ability added an authenticity to the music. However, I can’t say as much for the rather pathetic lyrics. Often cheesy and nearly always predictable, the lyrics were only a hair shy of abhorrent.
The direction was decent but the character development severely lacking. This leads me to ask whether this is the fault of the script, the direction or the actors. The romantic couple, Akaash and Priya, have a complete lack of chemistry on stage. The only characters that were believable and fully developed were Sweetie, a eunuch and best-friend of Akaash, played by Sriram Ganesan; and Shanti, Akaash’s grandmother, played by Madhur Jaffrey. Perhaps the most disturbing thing was my lack of interest in any of the main characters. Most of the main characters evoked no emotion either way, and Narayan truly made me embarrassed for him several times (flat notes and a hideous choice to do “the worm”, very poorly, in one of the ensemble songs).

The overall feeling I was left with after an exhausting amount of curtain calls in an attempt to extricate a standing ovation from the audienceambivalence. The show was most definitely extravagant and over the top, it was trying very hard to emulate Bollywood, but it somehow fell short. There was a definite attempt by the play to poke fun at itself, and attempt that failed. The play was fun, it was aesthetically pleasing but I found it somewhat disappointing. Maybe I have been watching too many independent films, or maybe I truly am just out of the Broadway loop, but for a play that has been proclaimed a “smash hit” for two years running in London, I expected more than flashy costumes and a good score, but that could just amount to the complexities of British humor. I can’t say it was great theatre, but it was enjoyable in that mindless, fun entertainment sort of way. I enjoyed the majority of it, but definitely won’t be seeing it again. My advise: go see this play if you are in the mood to be entertained by flash song and dance, colorful lights and costumes, not if you are jaded and seeking thought provoking wit. Stars: 2.75

Wasted Words 25

Hello everyone. Welcome to my little corner of, well, whatever it is. You know what I don’t like? Arrogant, conceited people. Like, when someone drops some constructive criticism in your direction, take it for what it’s worth and make the needed changes. Be a man about it, rather than blowing up over the whole ordeal. That just makes things worse than they really need to be and nothing gets accomplished. Running away doesn’t make it go away either, it just makes you look like a fool. Be careful of the bridges you burn. With that said, enjoy.

Epitaph has set the release date for the ninth installment of the Punk-O-Rama compilation series, for June 8. Rather than a two disc set, as it was last year, it will be a CD/DVD combo. The DVD will feature videos from Matchbook Romance, Horrorpops, Atmosphere, and other Epitaph artists. You can view the tracklisting and artwork by visiting the Epitaph Records website.

Head on over to Anti-Flag.com and read Justin Sane’s commentary on the Media. He makes some great points, and gives several alternative outlets for your news.

I don’t know about any of you, but I can’t wait for the Rock Against Bush album, which comes out April 20 on Fat Wreck Chords. That’s this coming Tuesday, knuckle heads. The album features 26 tracks, 17 of which are unreleased. The compilation includes bands such as Anti-Flag, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory, NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Against Me, and many more. What’s even better is, the compilation will also come with a DVD that will feature music videos, political trailers, and much more. What’s even better than that? As the title, Rock Against Bush, implies, this album is about spreading the word about George Bush, and letting kids know what a douche bag he is. Not only do you get some kick ass songs by some kick ass bands, but it’s for a good cause to! Oh yeah, and if you order if from the Fat Wreck web site, you get a free Rock Against Bush bumper sticker. You can also view the e-card here.

Also out on April 20, Brazil The Hostage and The Meaning Of Life on Fearless Records. Right now they’re touring with Funeral For A Friend and Coheed & Cambria, and I just know they’re representing Muncie, Indiana to the fullest.

Method Man has a new album on the way. Due out May 18, Tical 0: The Prequel, will be Meth’s first solo album since 1998. The album will feature many guest spots, including some of hip hops brightest stars such as Snoop Dogg, Redman, Ludacris, and other Wu Tang members. Unfortunately, the album also features a guest spot by Chingy, as well as P. Diddy.

Finch are currently in the studio recording their second album. Look for it in stores sometime this summer.

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


(By Guest Author ‘Karnage’)
What up? This is Propagation. I would like to all to sit back, grab a beer.. uh.. beverage, a snack or two and just relax as you read through the following finger-to-keyboard action that made this column possible. What is Propagation? Well, according to the Webster dictionary– dictionaries are boring. Propagation is a column written by me for you all to read about the music world but more leaning toward the punk/ska/emo genre of it. So relax and enjoy…


Shoot the kids at school. That album title was the first title ever censored by Tim Armstrong’s record label, Hell Cat Records. The band? With a name like Leftover Crack you’d think they’d write controversial lyrics and statements. Well they do and they milk it while doing so. Their first album (later re-named Mediocre Generica) debuted on none other than September 11th, 2001 and was released with much controversy. The first track on the album, Homeo-Apathy, had many statements suggesting that large buildings block the sun and that the dark black cloud is coming down. Coincidence? Who knows? But the band is back and releasing a so-called second full length sometime in May. I’ve had a chance to listen to some of the tracks on the album and will give you my thoughts on it in just a bit.

Streetlight Manifesto. A band. A good band. A band that formed from the remains of another band. They are named Streetlight Manifesto and what a band they are. It’s been almost a year since their debut release of “Everything Goes Numb” and I’m still raving about their music. It’s catchy, uplifting, motivating and sad all at once. With songs of suicide and normal teenage problems, they not only get a lot of attention from the teenage audience but even some adults as well. Catch 22 fans should know of this band as this band includes the old lead singer as well as a few other members that left Catch after the release of “Keasby Nights”. Speaking of Keasby… I am a proud owner of that amazing album. They explode from the gate with horns blazing and a quick sound with a song about a robbery that is set to go down (or at least that’s what the impression I get from the song). This album has nice soft guitar riffs, excellent ska sounds, hard guitar, blazing horns, thumping drums and sketchy vocals. In the end, I believe this album is the perfect sequel to Catch 22’s “Keasby Nights”. If you’re a fan of ska and/or punk, I’d recommend checking out this band… it’s a good catch!

The glory is fading…. or is it? Brand New. This band’s second release has gotten mixed reactions from fans. “Deja Entendu” in my opinion is a much slower album than their first release but I also think that it is a great album. Sure IT IS slower, but the music is still great. The first track on the album is a bit sketchy but they blast with their single “Sic Transit Glory” as the second track on the album. It is a great song with a greatly made video. It is a very emotional album with very personal lyrics that I enjoyed as a listener. If you haven’t heard the album yet and you’re a fan of emo, hear it, it is a really enjoyable album. ‘Nuff said.

Anyone want some Leftover Crack? Well, you will soon be getting more of it as apparently a supposed second album is soon to be coming. Like I stated before, the release date is set for sometime in May but don’t hold your breath. The band’s debut album was pushed back a good 9 months or so before finally being released. At the moment, Leftover Crack has entitled their second album as “F*ck World Trade”… anyone else think they’re going to get censored again? Anyway, this album again has a lot of lyrics responding to world issues of the past and present. Ranging from their undying hate for World Trade, religion, cops to songs about depression and pain throughout the world. They released a few songs as MP3’s over the net and I’ve got a chance to listen to a few and I’d like to say, nice. This is a very intense album (from what I’ve heard so far) and sounds like a keeper. I’ll start of with the song “One Dead Cop” which is basically a cop hate song. The song tells listeners to go out and kill cops. Well, that’s really not surprising coming from this band though as they’ve sang about killing before. Anyway, it has an interesting sound that is different from older sounds but also sounds like true LOC. “Super Tuesday” is a song about the Tuesday that we will all remember. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this song means but so far my take on it is that LOC is saying that the US shouldn’t be so cocky. “…we’re flying friendly skies… until the world dies” is one of the lines from the song. It has a very good sound and fits with the whole, “F*ck World Trade” aspect as it has many indications that they hated the idea of it. The final line of the song is, “I know your daddy died in the twins but he was just a pawn for the World Bank imperialists”… I think you get the hint. “Zero Population Growth” is a very catchy, up-beat sounding ska song but when listening to what the lyrics are saying… it really isn’t. I’ve only heard a live recording of this track and it sounds great but it is a song about depression and life’s pains. Very catchy though. “Operation: MOVE” is a very very dark song and is about the Philadelphia police’s execution of 5 children and six adults in 1985. It is a harder track with nothing but screaming vocals to I guess set the mood of the lyrics and about the event behind the song. It’s a good song though, but not my favourite. That’s all I’ve had a chance to listen to but I do know that they have some re-recorded older tracks that they’ve added to the album. I’ve heard the original recordings of “Rock The 40 Oz.”, “Infested”, and “Gang Control” and those songs are set to be on the album as well. Unofficial track listing as goes:

1. Burn Them Prisons
2. Zero Population Growth
3. One Dead Cop
4. Clear Channel, F*ck Off
5. Tomb Squatting
6. Operation: MOVE
7. Books of Lies
8. Ya’ Can’t Go Home
9. Soon We’ll Be Dead
10. Rock The 40 Oz.
11. Infested
12. Untitled As Yet Anti-Patriotism Song
13. Gang Control
14. Super Tuesday


That’s all I have for you all this week but I will have more as the weeks go on so keep checking back and reading! I hope you enjoyed this and learned a few things and maybe it has changed or life in a way… or not. Anyway, I hope you all keep reading as I always have things to say about the music world. You ain’t seen nothing yet…

Thank you.

Untitled on Life

(By Guest Author Lara)
Imagine, if you will, that you’re in my place for a minute. You’re sitting behind the store that your family owns and operates, which you hate. Your dad just got done yelling at you for something you didn’t even do. You have teachers breathing down your neck; you’re trying your damnedest to stay away from pot. And all of a sudden you realize that there are kids skateboarding in the alley right in front of you. You notice now that they’ve been there all day. You can hear them talk about Tony Hawk and how they are going to be just like him someday. Saying, “No, you do a manual like this!”

I walk down the small ramp, to get a better look at these kids. All of their friends are sharing three boards. This little girl looks at me, and asks if were in trouble. I say oh hell no, I was just watching you guys.

Damn, don’t you feel old right now?

I remember watching David the Gnome and Eureka’s Castle on Nick Jr. While drinking hot chocolate and trying to color inside of the lines.

Then I was really a big kid when I could ride around the block by myself.

Then the guys tried to teach me how to play basketball.

Eventually, I got really old, a freshman in high school. Sitting with my friends watching them play guitar while we down a case of Mountain Dew. Nothing was about sex, drugs, or politics. There were no ass-kickings to hand out for someone trying to nail your girlfriend. None of us ever dreamed of being arrested, or even doing something that would get us there. We were young. No worries.

Snap back to reality. Full of HDTV and a government who recently discovered how to read your subconscious speech. HBO used to be the only channel where you could see more skin than clothes. Now you turn on SOME broadcast channel that happens to rhyme with box, and you can see the same thing. Think for a minute, about then, then now. Even if you never touched any drugs or handcuffs. Things are still a whole lot more complicated than they once were. Did we make it that way? Are we doing this to ourselves? Or is the world really like this? It makes you wonder a bit.

On one hand, you can say that every teen or twenties something is overreacting. Wanting to blame everyone else for everything rather than themselves, or you could say that no, this is how it really is. Or, you could say, take a chill pill. Step back, breathe for a minute, those days aren’t so far-gone. Yeah sure, we can’t skate all day and have mom make us Ovaltine. We have jobs, families, school, and responsibilities. But I wonder, if there isn’t a part of us, that still is seven or ten years old.

Democrats and Republicans at each other’s throats. And debates that can get violent over other issues. People killing over religion and sexuality, race, national origin, and creed. People losing their lives to drugs, or a bullet, or both. When did we get like this?

Find a picture of yourself, when you were about seven. Look at it. Remember yourself then, did you ever think you were going to be who you were now. Did you get good grades, or were you popular. Now before you going “gee thanks Lara for the HUGE downer.” Hear me out; are you so sure that that person in the picture is dead? Are you so sure that your glory days are over? I don’t really think that that part of us ever dies. Who knows really? All I’m saying is that that person is still there. So take a breath, when you can. Remember that you used to be that person. And instead of getting all down and out because your not anymore, just be that person. The kid who shared his football, even though his neighbor was a geek. Maybe that’s what everyone needs or maybe, I’m full of shit.


“Out of the Blue and Into the Black”

There are often events in the course of history that define a generation. What happened on April 8, 1994 is one of those events. Despite what people will tell you it’s not April 5th, 6th or 7th that really had an impact. It was on April 8th that an electrician in a small town outside of Seattle, Washington called a radio station to announce he had discovered the body of Kurt Cobain in a room over the garage in a house owned by the deceased. But the house had been put up for sale. The details of Kurt’s death can be debated to the point of exhaustion; although it was ruled a suicide there is significant reason for some to believe there was foul play involved. The world had seen an alleged suicide, but more importantly a tragic ending to the life of an amazing person with a tortured soul. But it is not that controversy that I want to discuss or remember today.

Today, April 8, 2004, we mourn the 10th anniversary of Kurt’s passing, something that seems impossible to many, but is undoubtedly true. Love him or hate him, Kurt was the voice of a generation and he made an impact on society greater than many before him or since his death. The phenomenon that surrounded him was exactly what John Lennon meant when he claimed the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.” There is no sacrilege in this comment; it’s merely a representation of popularity and of icon status. Kurt, to many, is beyond this, he has been placed on a pedestal and viewed as a deity of all things good and right about rock and roll. Ironically, this is not what the man would have wanted at all, but his death sealed that fate, just like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean before him. Kurt died young, in his prime and will forever be remembered as flawless, never hitting a decline like so many other artists.

One has to wonder if the achievement of flawlessness through early death was taken into consideration while whatever act was committed; be it suicide, murder or whatever. Though that thought alone stands against much of what Kurt believed and stood for. He was a humble man who simply enjoyed writing and playing music, it was well known that he hated his celebrity status and the worship that followed him. It bothered him so much that Kurt actually felt guilty for it, expressing often that he was not what everyone thought he was and that he really didn’t want to be a rock star. Yet it was inevitable, Nirvana was one of the biggest things to happen to music and western society since “The Twist”. Their impact on culture today is immeasurable and there is no telling how many people have been inspired by it or will be for days to come. The realization of this for Kurt was too much to handle at times and he would indulge in heroine and alcohol to relieve this suffering; as well as the persistent stomach pains that has followed him throughout life that were no doubt stressed and unaided by the pressures of life in the limelight.

Those who were a fan of Kurt’s work remember his death like our parents remember President Kennedy’s death and Martin Luther King’s death. Many of us can recite exactly what we were doing, where we were, and what we did following— it had that much of an impact on people. It is scary to think that there are two things in my life that have had and enormous impact on me: Kurt’s death and the events of September 11th. I am not by any means comparing the two, but I think it is very significant that those both stand out in my mind as evoking a similar series of emotions.

Why do we do this? What compels human beings to glorify movie stars and musicians to such an intense level so that their deaths have as much impact on our lives as the loss of thousands or the loss of a grandparent? Surely this must be yet another unhealthy side effect of our increasingly media driven society, but it’s one we’ve come to deal with, even adapt to and openly embrace. If it’s not Kurt, it’s Princess Diana or Jerry Garcia or so on. This just doesn’t seem right, but we justify it. We justify it based on how those people make us feel. Kurt’s wounded voice was something so many of us could instantly relate to, he spoke in riddles that somehow made sense of it all and tapped into many emotions some of us weren’t even aware we had. Kurt meant a lot of different things to a lot different people. For some he just created music. For others he created more than this, he gave them a voice, he gave them purpose and something to believe in.

While it is natural for us to do so, it is not my belief that April 8th should be remembered as sad day at all. I believe it should be a day on which we celebrate the impact of one man who really made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. While he was only with us briefly we should appreciate what he did during this short time for we were lucky to have it at all, a man who never wanted to make a difference at all, who inadvertently made the world a better place if only for a moment by just being himself.

“My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It’s better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue and into the black
You pay for this, but they give you that
And once you’re gone, you can’t come back
When you’re out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.
Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?
It’s better to burn out ’cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There’s more to the picture
Than meets the eye.”

-Neil Young “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”

Wasted Words 24

Recommended download: Most Precious BloodYour Picture Hung Itself

Hello guys and gals, and everything in between. Welcome to this weeks edition of Wasted Words. I picked up several new CD’s recently. I grabbed N.E.R.D Fly Or Die, which you will find a review for in this very column. I went to a show the other night at, believe it or not, a skating rink. Local bands, Oblique and Mantis played. Mantis just released their new album, Moonshine Tabernacle, which I picked up. It’s a damn good album. They’re described doom/stoner rock, but to me it’s all rock n roll. I’ve only seen these guys play a couple times, but they put on a great show that really gets the crowd going. If you’d like to check them out, you can visit their website at www.mantisrocks.com. I’ve also been going through some of my hip hop cassettes and updating them to CDs. So far I’ve gotten NWA Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet, and Onyx Bacdafucup. All of which are hip hop classics, regardless what anyone says. I highly recommend each one of those albums to any hip hop fan. Now, on with the news and reviews. Enjoy.

N.E.R.D.Fly Or Die The follow-up to their debut album, In Search Of, could leave most people scratching their heads. I purchased this album expecting a hip hop record. What I got was a mixture of jazz, R&B, soul, and a bit of hip hop. The sound on this album is completely different from that of their previous effort and definitely not what I was expecting/hoping for. Most songs consist of Pharrel singing rather than rapping. If you’ve ever heard him sing, you would know why this is not a good thing. Guests on the album include Lenny Kravitz, ?uestlove, and Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. Fly Or Die is not a terrible album, but it’s not a great album either. It’s merely a decent album, which takes a few listens to really get into. Maybe it will grow on me after a while, but my recommendation as of now is to pass on this album.
Recommended tracks: Thrasher, Jump, and She Wants To Move

Avenged Sevenfold have a new video up. It’s for the song, Unholy Confessions, from their album, Waking The Fallen. You can check it out here.

Oblique also have a new video. It’s for their song Presense Guiding. You can check it out here.

Initial Records’ annual Krazy Fest has been postponed, or possibly even canceled. Originally, the event was scheduled to take place in April. It looks possible for it to take place this summer or fall. There is also speculation that this event might not happen at all.

Taking Back Sunday fans should be excited to know, the band has announced their album should be in stores in July. I know I’ll be looking forward to it.

The Deftones will be heading into the studio in June to work on their new album.

Don’t forget, on April 20, to run out and pick up a copy of Rock Against Bush Vol. 1, out on Fat Wreck Chords. The album will feature 26 songs, all of which are either rare or unreleased tracks. Also included will be a DVD featuring music videos and political content. It should be decently priced, as most Fat Wreck compilations are.

Nu Metal kids shall be converted! Death By Stereo are heading out on the road for several dates on the Jagermeister Tour, along with Slipknot, Fear Factory, and Chimaira. You can get more info here.

That’s all for this week kids. Until next time, I’m out.

Open Mic w/ Bear Frazer – Britney … Who's listening now?

Say you have this blonde-headed 17 year-old schoolgirl, dancing in a white shirt and plaid skirt, singing a catchy pop song, whom could never do anything wrong. Little girls dream about being her and grown men dream about being with her. She is a role model. And then, suddenly, the more she sings, the more controversial she gets. Her outfits become revealing, her social life becomes a mess, and her stress release leads to experimentation. On top of that, her music quality starts to dwindle. It seems that America’s dream girl isn’t so perfect after all.

This story may sound familiar, as it has been an epic developing from Britney Spears’ birth on December 2, 1981 to her current cutting-edge video, “Toxic,” that has been airing all over MTV. She has had a bumpy road (to say the least) to get where she is at today, but is her career in the world of entertainment coming to a close? Is her career on the rise or on the fall? Let’s take a closer look.

Britney has had an incredible start. She has been in show business ever since she was an 11 year-old on the Mickey Mouse Club, where she got her start as a Mouseketter. Shortly, she began recording demos until Jive Records picked her up. In late 1998, she released her first single, “Baby, One More Time” (which would ultimately be the name of her album). This track had such a great beat, catchy lyrics, terrific vocals, and a nice video to promote the music. Then, she exploded. “Baby, One More Time,” landed at the number one spot on the singles chart, and in addition to that, her debut album would be released in early 1999 and that immediately fly to the number one slot. She had the largest debut in album sales for a female artist, but she did have a little help from the other songs she released, “Sometimes,” and “Crazy.”

This was the best thing going on. Here, you have a sweet, attractive, innocent girl singing her heart out and she was only 17 years-old. She not only appealed to the young female audience, but men started enjoying Britney (either for her looks or talent). The thing that made this more intense was the lack of young female performers in mainstream music. Sure, you had Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Madonna, but they were older than Britney. What Britney brought to the table was her age. Never before in the late 1990’s was there a young pop vocalist who had the virgin image and dancing ability. The great thing is that other record labels noticed this and followed suit. How do you think the Christina Aguilera’s, the Jessica Simpson’s, and the Mandy Moore’s popped up?

With multiple hit singles, her career was only going further. In 2000, she released, “Oops! … I Did It Again,” and in its opening week, it sold over 1.3 million copies. She was moving in the right direction. She released the leadoff track, (which is the same as the album title), “Oops! … I Did It Again,” the second single, “Lucky,” and her third major tune, “Stronger.” This is where the controversy really started taking shape. There were two big rumors floating around. The first of which would be whether or not she was dating the most noticeable member of N’SYNC, Justin Timberlake (later revealed that she was) and the second would be whether or not she had breast implants (which has been denied). Look at the equation now: multiplatinum selling albums, number one hits, dating a popular male from a well-known group, and just enough racket to keep her in peoples’ minds.

Then, people started lashing out against Britney Spears. During her performance at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, she stripped down to a revealing skin colored outfit. This caused a lot of angry parents and journalists to look down at Ms. Spears. They felt that she was telling kids that it is ok to strip. But doesn’t the saying go, “bad publicity is better than none?”

Even though Britney got negative vibes for her recent actions, she was working on her third album. Always around release time, she would be in the hot spot. She was saying how she wasn’t a little girl anymore, but mature, and her music is going to reflect that outlook. She probably took the attitude, “My performance at the 2000 MTV Awards was inappropriate, eh? WAM! Buy my new album.” She released her album, “Britney” in 2001 and the lead off tune was “I’m A Slave 4 U” (which could be considered the only somewhat successful single). “Britney” sold an impressive 746,000 albums in the opening week, but it was about half the amount she sold with “Oops … I Did It Again.”

For the next few years, it would be downhill from here. Britney got bashed due to her 2001 MTV Award performance, where she danced with revealing clothes and a snake wrapped around her neck. Then, her longtime boyfriend, Justin Timberlake dumped her in 2002. During an interview with Diane Sawyer, she cried. Her family had health problems. At first, she said she never did drugs and then, admitted to experimenting (not to mention, drinking under-age). On top of that, Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit Singer) claimed he engaged in sex with Britney Spears. Britney denied having sex with Durst, but admitted she was no longer a virgin. Then, at the 2003 MTV Awards, she French-kissed Madonna on live television. The biggest bombshell would happen right after New Year’s in 2004 when she married one of her hometown friends from Louisiana, only to get it annulled 55 hours later.

In late 2003, Britney unleashed “In The Zone,” her fourth album, and also released the first track (featuring a duet with Madonna), “Me Against The Music.” Her current single, which is blazing up the charts, “Toxic.” The opening week had another drop in record sales compared to her previous efforts. Although it is still amazing, she only moved 609,000 units.

This leaves one to wonder, “Is Britney Spears on the rise or fall?” By looking at the info, when Britney first came out, she was the hottest craze and kinda started a new music sub-trend. When she was young, she broke out, which eventually introduced a slue of young female artists. At that time, it was easier to market a teen pop superstar to the masses. She was the big fish in a little pond, but since she is no longer a young lady, she is entering a big pond as a little fish. She is attempting to enter a league where the contenders are of the likes of Madonna, Mariah Carey, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce Knowles. If you’re songs haven’t been up to par with these ladies, then it is easy to get lost in the mix.

Jive Records always does a great job advertising Britney’s albums, but the quality is declining. She has had terrific media exposure right before every one of her albums appeared in stores. Whether it’s good or bad, her compilation can be guaranteed to sell several hundred thousand copies. She releases her best song in the beginning, but doesn’t have too many good supporting songs to back up her momentum. She just released “Toxic,” which is probably her best song since she unveiled Lucky in 2000. Since 1999’s “Oops … I Did It Again” emerged in stores, opening week sales for her following two albums have dropped (from 1.3 million to 746,000 to 609,000).

So, what does she have to do to maintain longevity? If Britney wants to continue to be a force to be reckoned with, then she must present incredible songs that catch our eye like she did when she first came out. Her original audience is also dying out. With all these allegations and rumors, it hurt her image. Since she is no longer a little girl, it’s a slightly tougher for her to preserve a teen crowd and regarding her male audience; they are mainly interested in her body (if they were once into her music, they aren’t anymore). But, it all relies in her music and her ability to perform. Hey, doing Playboy couldn’t hurt either.

So, now we have this 22 year-old dancing around in skimpy outfits, trying to appeal to everyone like she was before. The only question is, who’s listening now?

So, is Britney on the Rise or the Fall? Leave a comment and tell us …