Saturday, December 21, 2013

(F)uck Dynasty.

Whenever someone complains about bad officiating in sports, I say that the problem with leagues expanding to more teams is that there is a need for more officials.  More officials means more bad ones and that means there will be more bad calls.  The same is true of television.
Back in the 1960s (where I come from) television was confined to three networks, PBS and a few UHF channels that you needed a special antenna to receive.  Now - there are hundreds of channels, all in need of programming in order to fill their 24-hour cycle.  From that was borne such things as so-called "reality" shows and programs that do nothing but follow people around for days at a time, editing their activities down to a half-hour and showing it on television.  From that, we have created television stars where otherwise would have been just regular people doing their jobs.  That is where the problems start.
People like the Kardashian's, those housewives and other such TV-created people find themselves in the limelight where they should really be in the background.  It is the expansion of television that has created so-called stars and forced us to pay attention to their viewpoint.  One could even say that the Internet has forced people like myself to find a forum where I would otherwise be ranting to a select group of people, instead of the World-Wide Web.  Go figure.
The latest sputum from one of these TV stars comes in the form of "Duck Dynasty," a previously harmless program about some hicks who have made a fortune out of manufacturing duck calls.  Sounds like a perfect TV platform, right?  Sure, if you are completely out of pawn shop owners, motorcycle makers, and over-sexed housewives to exploit.  Yeah.  To wit, comments from "Duck Dynasty" star (yeah) Phil Robertson went like this:
“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.  Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Apparently, the homosexuals were the only people offended by Mr. Robertson's comments.  Perhaps that is because adulterers, male prostitutes and greedy drunkards do not have a political action group?  Either that, or hate only manifests itself in the form of homosexual love.  I have no idea.
Since that wasn't enough, he continued:
“It seems to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” he said. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking, ‘There’s more there! She’s got more to offer.’ I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Logical?  What's logical about eating pig's feet or goat testicles?  Were we put here to decide what is logical for each other?  People drive vehicles that are meant to be used in warfare.  They smoke cigarettes.  They consume massive quantities of food and alcohol.  Our tastes in music, movies and television vary so much that even programs like "Duck Dynasty" are viewed by 13 million people every week.  What is logical about any of that?
Were we put here to judge the habits of our fellow humans or were we put here to be who we were made to be?  If you believe in God - the God who made your body and made it in His image - can you be intolerant of how others behave?
The anger and outrage that has been directed at those comments leaves me wondering (a) why it is only directed at the homosexual side of the comment and (2) why the anger exists to begin with.

Leave the judgment to God, if that is where you place your faith.  Otherwise, leave people to live their own lives.  Vent your anger where it will do some good - like the obscene number of television programs and how much attention we pay to people who otherwise would be ranting to themselves.
Wouldn't that make the world a better place?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wanderer of the Underworld.

Photo by me. Others available on my Flickr page.

This isn't a music review site.  Mostly, it is a place where I gripe about stuff that gets on my nerves.  Occasionally, I will stumble onto something that makes me happy that I want to share with people.  Having been raised in the 1960s and schooled on music in the 1970s, I trust my instincts, and you should, too.  So, here goes.

Through an interesting chain of events, I became acquainted with a guitarist named Chris Baker.  He had been playing with some mutual friends in bands and jam sessions.  Through Chris, the magic of the Internet and its marketing appeal, I found Amenti Rover.

For an old music-head like myself, it's refreshing to hear young people (real young people, not young people who I consider young) who get ... really GET music, and what emotion, drive and spirit are about when it comes to what I consider music.  Not auto-tune junk or stage antics.  Real music.  Maybe I'm jaded? Or maybe I just know what good music is.  Yeah, that's it.

Chris was kind enough to send me the five tracks from their debut EP, which should be available soon.  For now, you can download the first track from their web site, or at the bandcamp site, here.  As for the others, they have my highest endorsement.  It's great music, played with passion, fun, and love.

"Jezebel" puts me to mind of some of Leslie West's Mountain and the passion that his band had, complete with drive of its main riff and the drops in the chords of the chorus.  Crank it up and disturb your neighbors.  Oh, and go to the site I linked you to and download it.

"Girls of the City" is a fun, blues-influenced rocker whose energy you can pick up from the beginning.  Josh and Lake's driving rhythm section carry another great riff, and Jarrett's vocals let us know how much fun a nice little rock song can be.

"Tired of It" is one of the highlights of their live shows.  The thing about most studio recordings is that they fail to convey the energy of the live performance.  In fact, if I were King of the World, most bands would have their debut CDs recorded at a live show, but I digress.  This song (and the others, in fact) prove that it is possible to convey the energy of a live performance to a studio. It is crisp, powerful and energetic.  All that stuff that's so important to me - and should be important to you, too.

"Changing Sun" is the real throwback tune for me.  It's reminiscent of a time when music was thoughtful.  Not only is it a fantastic song, but, true to its name, it is a changing Sun, with several time-signature and mood shifts, from a happy 6/8, slowing to a more 3/4 feel and finally to a quick 4/4.  It keeps the listener actively engaged - and I do love to be actively engaged.  There is a point (near the end) at which it could become a self-indulgent guitar solo, but they leave us with just enough to make us want to hear it live, where maybe it will realize that end ... just for a little while, at least. (C'mon, Chris)

"Satan Woman" is another highlight of their shows.  It starts off in your face, and doesn't let up.  This tune has all the big-production sound you'd hear from any (egad) mainstream rock tune, yet you don't lose the energy of the live performance.  Have I said how much I value that?

I'm not a professional music reviewer, and I have difficulty transferring my feelings for emotive music to the written word.  I don't have the flowery language that accompanies most reviews ... but, trust me on this  ... this is good.  Do I need to be more descriptive?
Seek-out good music and you will find happiness.  As good as these songs are, there are many others that they did not record that you should hear.

And you can hear them ...
January 3 at The Legendary Dobbs in Philadelphia
January 18 at Hebe Music in Mt. Holly, NJ

Amenti Rover
~ Wanderer of the underworld ~

Jarrett Mead - Voice
Chris Baker - Guitar
Lake Muir - Bass
Josh Merhar - Drums