Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More than a pretty face

The other week, Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” was on one of the free movie channels. We decided to watch it and see what the big deal was about.

I have to admit, it was a pretty decent show. But that’s not what I’m writing about.

The guitarist was really good; her name was Orianthi Panagaris. She really kicked ass. My wife questioned whether it was the same “Orianthi” that sings a pop song that she happens to like.

Out came he laptop and my daughter did a search.

Sure enough, they were one and the same.

I’m more of a “rock’n’roll” kinda guy, but I don’t mind most pop songs. I had to find out what else she sings and/or plays.

I found out some really cool facts about her as well as some videos of her playing less pop-like material. To quote Santana from that linked web site:

"It's not cute any more. It's seriously ass-whupping. If I was going to pass the baton to somebody, she would be my first choice."

I had to add her album to my collection. Having recently acquired an iPod Nano, I picked up “Believe (II)” from iTunes. On it, she also does a instrumental guitar duel with Steve Vai.

I love this one listener review from iTunes:

As a fan of heavier music (generally screamo and metal), I was impressed by the skills of Ori, from the first album “Violet Journey”, up until Believe (II), her music is continuously high on my playlist.

She’s like a bridge between the pop and rock gap.

Look ‘er up and give ‘er a listen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Guns N'Roses, Chinese Democracy - Give it a chance

I'm probably about as unbiased as they get when it comes to Guns N'Roses, so what follows is my humble, half-assed review of the newly released Chinese Democracy.

I was never a big fan of Guns N' Roses back in the day when they were big. Back when everyone and their dog liked them. I can't put my finger on any specific reason why I didn't like them. Maybe it was Axl's voice... or that goofy swaying back and forth thing that he did while singing... or maybe the head scarf... I don't know. I just didn't like them.

Appetite for Destruction album coverIt wasn't until (many) years later when they more or less disappeared that I started to enjoy a few songs from Appetite for Destruction. I even got one of the Use Your Illusion albums, although I can't recall if it was 1 or 2. Mind you, the only reason I did get it was because I forgot to return the card to Columbia House so they wouldn't send it to me. Once I had it, curiosity got the best of me and I kept it.

A year or two ago, I won 2 tickets from a local radio station to a GNR concert here in Ottawa. (Why do I win things that I could care less about? Why not a million bucks??) I went to the show and I actually enjoyed it. The head scarf was gone, but Axl still did that swaying thing. Thankfully, it wasn't enough to ruin the show for me.

Which brings us to the long-awaited Chinese Democracy.

I picked up a link to the GNR site via Twitter, where the entire album was streaming for all to listen to. I slapped on some headphones while I was at work and listened, as I worked away during the day.

The first time through was "meh". A couple of hard-edged GNR-like songs and some really different songs, quite unlike the GNR that I knew.

By the third or fourth listen, the songs started to grow on me. So much so that I went out yesterday and bought the CD. I probably could have found it online somewhere and downloaded it, but I'm a firm believer in paying for what I like to listen to.

The reviews of Chinese Democracy have been mixed. The comments on those reviews are also mixed. I'll use a common quote from many of them: "This isn't Appetite for Destruction". Words could not be more true. I'm sure that anyone who expected it to be that is disappointed.

I've read many references to possible influences throughout the album; Linkin Park, Smashing Pumpkins, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, U2, and even Roger Waters and Elton John. I have to include Queensryche among them. They're all there -- some more obvious than others. But realistically, is it even possible these days to write a new song without having it compared to the style or sound of any existing or past bands? How can any musician or song writer not allow the music they listen to influence their own music?

Anyway, as I alluded to above, this isn't an instant "I love it and gotta have it" album -- at least it wasn't for me. I think that anyone who dismisses this album as crap after one listen, or based on hearing one or two tracks on the radio, is really missing out (aside from those who never have, and never will, like Axl Rose's voice)

But for those of you who don't mind Axl, give this album a chance. Put aside the fact that the name of the band is Guns N'Roses. Pretend it's a new band. And then listen to the entire album, more than once. Or twice. Open your mind and listen to what this album has to offer. There's some good stuff in there. Accept it for what it is -- don't knock it for what it isn't. And if you still don't like it, you can go back to your other bands dishing out the same old canned formula.

The stream is still active here.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rockin' out!

I'm a Rock Band addict. So is my wife. My kids play as well, but not nearly as much as my wife and I.

My wife gave me an XBox 360 for Christmas. The following week, I bought Guitar Hero II. This was the seed that got my wife addicted. A week or two later, we got Guitar Hero III, with a second guitar. A month or so later, we picked up Rock Band. Just the game, since we already had the two guitars.

Being the typical guy who doesn't read manuals unless he has to, I wasn't aware that the Xbox headset could function as a microphone for Rock Band. After someone told me, THEN I read the manual. My daughter loved it. I ordered a Logitech USB microphone from Dell's web site and it was at my door within 2 days.

We knew that at some point we'd get the drums. That point arrived about a month ago after we had to send one of the guitars back to Red Octane for warranty servicing.

It didn't take long to realize that the drums are loud. The hard rubber/plastic surface makes a very distracting "thwack" when you play, unless you tap really lightly. Light tapping works great, but it definitely lacks that "rock out" feeling.

Something had to be done.

I came across these, as I was searching for a source of the stand-alone drumkit. (turns out that it simply wasn't available at the time)

Gum Rubber Pads

I watched all the videos and read a few reviews, and all seemed positive. I had come across other "solutions", but this one seemed to stick with me. So, I ordered a set for $35 Cdn (S&H included).

Unfortunately, do to the apparent high demand, all orders would be delayed by 2 weeks. No big deal.

I actually ended up waiting 3 weeks. Two week wait... 1 week travel time? Regardless, it was well worth the wait.

The first thing I noticed was that they were thicker than I expected. I'm bad with measurements though. They are 1/8" thick, as the web site states they should be. I think my brain thinks of 1/8" as being thinner.

Anyway, the second thing I noticed was... the smell. Rubber stinks, and these were no exception. Or maybe it's he adhesive...

The third thing I noticed is that these were high quality. They felt durable. They felt like they could really take a beating, and survive.

The adhesive backing covers the ENTIRE back of the pad too. Apparently these can be removed easily if there's a need to ship the kit back to Harmonix? I wouldn't like to try that.

Installation was simple:
  1. Make sure the drum heads are clean.
  2. Carefully peel the paper off adhesive backing of the pad.
  3. Center on the drum head and...
  4. Press down firmly.
When I say carefully peel the paper, I mean carefully. It's quite easy to accidentally peel the paper AND the adhesive off the rubber pad, if you can't get a finger nail between the paper and the adhesive. Take your time finding that edge to grab.

We happen to have a small wooden roller in our kitchen that I used to roll a few times across the rubber pad to make sure it was glued down properly.

Now repeat the four steps 3 more times. The instructions included also say to let them sit for 15 minutes to dry. I couldn't wait after the first one was glued on and test it out for one song. I didn't want to go through putting all four on, only to discover that I didn't like it.

I'm pleased to report that they work great! The drums are a little less sensitive, but that's more than made up for with the freedom to "rock out" harder.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wrong Time. Wrong Place. Wrong Number.

Lucky Number Slevin was on one of the free digital movie channels the other night. I had been wanting to see it since a co-worker told me about it. She warned me that it starts off rather confusing but the pieces will eventually fall into to place.

She was right.

There are some movies where you can guess the outcome about three-quarters of the way through the movie. This one stays well hidden right up until about 15 minutes before the end.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ghost Rider

My wife and I went out for dinner tonight, and then went to see Ghost Rider. I read a review before we went. They said it was better than Daredevil, and gave it a 2.5/5.

The FX were pretty cool. The acting was so-so. It had a few funny parts, and a few parts that made my wife jump. I have to admit that I jumped a little at the first one, mostly because I wasn't expecting anything like that in the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but I think it would make a better DVD rental. Thankfully, we didn't pay to see it. I had a gift card that I got at Christmas, so we used that for the movie.

I'll probably pick it up when it hits DVD. It's the type of movie that I like collecting.

We saw a few previews before the movie started. Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg, looked pretty cool. It's hard to believe that he used to be Marky Mark. He sure has come a long way.

Another upcoming movie that looks like it might be good is Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer. We never saw the first one in the theatre, but we picked it up on DVD and enjoyed it.