What I'm Doing Right Now

Sunday, July 31, 2011

One in a million buy: At the Underground Market

Check this out: At the Seattle, WA: Starlight Drive flea market (or underground / black market), we were able to obtain an original copy of the Seattle times reporting Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. Usually, you could buy this stuff for at least over $100 or $200. But this was the total price:


You wouldn't be able to find that anywhere else, now would you? Many people pay high money on this, so it is a great sell on eBay. Total score, right?

Other neat stuff we bought:

- A geddy lee signed Fly by Night vinyl cover (Happy b day man)
-   An entire CD collection of over 100 classic discs for only $49.99
-   An orange
-    Some crap we don't need

And we then we went to B&I.

To be continued....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon review

Band name: Pink Floyd
Album: The Dark Side of the Moon
Release Date: March 1, 1973 (Original) / July 8, 1981 (Second release in UK)

Since the second release was thirty years ago in the UK, I present possibly the biggest album ever. And my thoughts.

As it were, Dark Side of the Moon has become one of the most vital statements the music industry has ever seen come from a musical group. Ever. To simply say the album impacted rock music thereafter is not enough. Not only did this, the most successful album of the mighty Pink Floyd's career, catapult them into a world of renowned super-stardom, but it also did much to further the evolution of progressive rock as well as (in many a person's eyes) perfect the theme of a concept album. Indeed, to this day the album continues to sell an average 8,000 copies a week, and is firmly cemented as the 20th best selling record of all-time in the United States. Quite the feat for a nine-track long concept album, right? As for me, I'm torn. Numerous times in the past, I found myself endlessly listening to the groups' albums like Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon and struggling to understand the attraction; the subtle force that turned a small band from London into a multi-million dollar outfit with the force and presence of an atomic bomb. I often slagged off on the album, deriding it as dull and beyond self-indulgent whiles simultaneously labeling them as geniuses for their more straight-forward pieces like Money. As of late, I've found myself absent-mindedly putting the album on; only realizing it as Breathe kicks in with its' subtle, tranquil, and overall serenading qualities. After much deliberation and endless musing, I think I've reached a suitable conclusion about the band that created this massive statement, or at least the statement itself.

When I say, "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon", what I mean

is... 'If you feel that you're the only one, that you seem crazy, 'cause

you think everything is crazy, you're not alone, you know?'

- Roger Waters

Perhaps the central theme of the album being insanity and all that happens in life that can drive one to it isn't surprising. After all, everyone is aware of The Pink Floyd Sound and their original anti-hero frontman, the late Syd Barrett. The tale has been told countless times over the 42 years since his departure, from the depths of grimy pubs to the annals of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, and perhaps most commonly, in the homes and apartments of the fans themselves. Virtually everyone is required to at the very least know the basic premise of the tale. And so it was, some 42 years ago, the band known as Pink Floyd, with Barrett at the helm both spiritually and musically parted ways with their beloved leader, due to his rapidly deteriorating mental condition brought out but not necessarily caused by the ever-potent and horrifying effects of the psychedelic drug known as Lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly referred to as LSD, acid, and ironically enough, 'cid. Upon Barrets' mental collapse, the group decided to carry on, and enlisted the help of a local guitarist by the name of David Gilmour. It is with this line-up, consisting of Roger Waters (bass/vocals), David Gilmour (guitar/vocals), Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (keyboards/trippy noises) that the band would go on to create their most beloved masterpieces with, including The Wall and the Syd Barret tribute, Wish You Were Here. Yes, sanity can be a delicate thing, as the band found at an alarmingly close proximity. As such, it is to be expected that Waters (the groups' chief conceptualist and future de-facto Josef Stalin) would have some fixation with the fragile balance between the rational and the non-sensical, and nowhere is that fixation in more vibrant display than the very album I'm reviewing.

Yes, like many of Pink Floyd's records, Dark Side of the Moon is a concept album. That's all very well and good. It's been proven time and again that the group (and perhaps Waters, in particular) was brilliant at devising musical soundscape and lyrics to make an overall theme or point. One of the main questions, and criticisms thereof, regards the music itself. Indeed, what makes a 23 minute, slow and meandering jam so worth while? What makes random tape loops and perturbing sound effects (as found in On the Run) even worthy of my listening time? Unfortunately, these are points that resonate quite clearly, and can't truly be explained away. From my experiences, I have found that to truly appreciate a song like Time (with it's scathingly long introduction anyway), you simply have to quit caring. Once I just started throwing the album on and not paying any attention to it, I'd find myself noticing how much I enjoyed it; how delectable it was to get lost in the otherwise thoroughly dull and pretentious noises that On the Run and plenty of other Pink Floyd tunes offered up. Rather self-defeating, I admit, but there you are. Crap noises and dramatic endeavors aside, each individual band member has proven time and again how commendable their skills on their respective instrument, and Dark Side of the Moon is an album that displays these traits. Indeed, David Gilmour delivers what is considered by many as the best solo of his career on Time with his searing and celebrated vibrato capturing your attention, not to relinquish it until it has had its say, while Roger Waters gives us the thumping introduction bass line to the now rocking, spacey and ever-popular anthem Money. Nick Mason doesn't particularly offer up anything mind-blowing on his drum set, though he does remain consistent throughout, and Richard Wright allows us to witness his brilliance at keyboard manipulation on the positively psychedelic Any Colour You like. Many of these sort of song styles (for instance the jazzy saxophone solo in Money) were still relatively new for the time, and many still hold up remarkably well. It may be true that combining otherwise superb musicianship with over-dramatic and ridiculously long jams may not have been the greatest idea (understatement), but it is also true that not one rock group from the late 60's and 70's isn't guilty of jamming for over twenty minutes on a single song. Now I ask you, would you prefer mindless pentatonic shredding ala Eric Clapton or would you prefer subtle jamming with feeling?

With that doting out of the way, I do believe it is time to address the majesty factor. One of the many things that critics and audiences alike commended the band and album for was its' dramatic sense; the feel that something indescribably majestic has just occurred. To me, this theory is both undeniably true and simultaneously heinously false. To consider a song like Brain Damage majestic and profound is nothing short of absurd. While it is very soothing with its gentle and cascading chord progression and soft, ethereal vocals, it is certainly not worthy of the title of eponymous. However, the song it so eloquently segues into, Eclipse is perhaps the most stirring and insightful album closer ever to grace a rock album. Musically, the tune combines nearly everything featured on the album thus far, from the subtle guitar playing and the trippy effects to the wailing female back-up vocals found on The Great Gig In the Sky as Roger lists off everything that we as humans inevitably do, before concluding on the rather depressing note of "And everything under the sun is in tune; but the sun is eclipsed by the moon". Eclipse also features perhaps the best example of Pink Floyd's supreme melodicism, a trait which unfortunately the band doesn't use all too often. Perhaps that is for the best though, as when they do, it has a very big impact; and proves itself a delightful treat. For those of you who are very grammatically capable: yes, I made the word "melodicism" up. For those who aren't: ignore that statement. If I'm willing to admit that this album obviously has flaws, flaws that normally could completely destroy a band and their crappy progressive album, why is this one any different? More over, why is it regarded as classic? Quite honestly, I don't know. Pink Floyd's musicianship and the statements they make tend to make up for the former, but I can't see Gilmour being a rock master and Waters' being an assertive conceptualist and solid bassist being enough to warrant this album the title of "classic". Us and Them is perhaps the worst tune to be found here in the sense that it doesn't offer much that hasn't been already been offered by Time and its Breathe reprise. As far as the concept goes, the piece is vital, but musically it doesn't assert itself as a work of genius in any way other than the dynamics that can be found on it and the layers of effects that reside with it. 

It does, however, preserve and continue the unusually precise flow of the album, and in that sense is very important in its own right.


I couldn't recommend this album to anyone. Not to any single one of you who are reading this, granted most of you have long since heard it and formed your own opinion on it. I've pondered for a good two years why this band is as popular as they are, and while I can't say I've reached a fully satisfying conclusion, I have determined a number of things. First of is that to truly enjoy a Pink Floyd album, you have to listen to it, shall we say, differently than you would a regular rock record. Instead of expecting a hook or a catchy synthesizer fill, let yourself get lost in the beat and in the feeling of the song provided. This is not to say that catchy hooks or straight-forward rock tunes are uncommon, as they can be found on the album in the forms of Money, Time, and the stunning instrumental Any Colour You Like. I suppose the point I'm attempting to make (and more than likely failing at) is that the prize concerning the band known as Pink Floyd doesn't lay within any given song or musical hook, or for that matter any hitherto recognized form of musical perception (at least for me, dear reader). I've come to the long overdue conclusion that Pink Floyd is about the feel that you get, the sounds that they make, and the overall theme of the album you listen to. Getting lost in a seemingly never-ending piece of music tends to be way more satisfying than enjoying an ear-catching, two-minute long pop song. And that's how it truly is, as it were.

 8.6 / 10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review

Title: Catching Fire, Hunger Games Pt. 2
Pages: 391
Formats: Hardcover, Large Print / Paperback / Audio CD / September 1 Edition
Languages Available: Available in most of the world, over 25 languages
Price: $10.70 [Buy and Save at Amazon]

Some books are undeniably important. Some say that there are various books that are a landmark of our generation, books that can undeniably shock us with how amazing it is. Some say it is the storyline, no matter how modern or far-fetched. Some say it may be the power of the writing, or the overall atmosphere. Numerous books have been called so, like The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone with the Wind. The absence of said popularity has otherwise made modern day books more desirable, wondering which one will be the next big hit.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those.

You probably thought I was going to lead up a large, fanboyish paragraph that would honor this book as one of the modern day achievements. But guess what: it's not. In fact, this is otherwise rehashed material forgotten from the last, remarkable book. Many of Collins' followers, and critics alike, call this an adventure book that can not be topped, as one of the single darkest, most emotionally packed books of the summer, even better than the first. Unfortunately, this is not another Maze Runner or another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and so on. This can be considered surplus from the first book.

Perhaps unfitting to this book is the fact that you already know what to expect. The first half is significantly better than the second, with more progression. Here's how it begins: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have survived the Hunger Games, for the first time in the history of the seventy-three years before it. The president of Panem, Snow, does not approve. He is very angry, and so is the Capitol. She has survived against all the odds, made them basically a laughing stock of the Districts. But this is just as depressing as the first bummer games. Katniss has become all but paranoid: she is distrustful of her mother, hostile towards her mentor, Haymitch, blatantly forgets her relationship with Peeta more than once, after that dumb bitch stood him up in the last book, when he blindly admitted love for her. Everybody else she hates or wish they'd die. She only cares for Prim and her friend Gale, who are ironically the weakest characters in the book, in my opinion. And the former is all but explained in this book. It isn't until the third book you know more about Prim, so thankfully that seemingly important character wouldn't be a "third time's the charm case".

So Snow finally becomes so angry, that the Capitol issues a punishment for Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. And it isn't torture, it isn't public execution. I bet you can guess what it is, fellow readers. Yeah, Hunger Games never was deep in full story exploration, and Catching Fire otherwise confuses it. First, why is the Capitol so violent? Second, wouldn't the citizens of the Districts be careful about what they say? Why are they so offended by her actions when, in actuality, they execute anybody who talks about them negatively. So they'd know to watch their mouths. And third, how can one girl cause them to rage war against an entire section of the United States. The story furthers its confusing plotline, and it is more choppy than the first.

And when Katniss does her punishment, it becomes far too deja vu. Yeah, you guessed it: she goes back to the stage of history, this time in the form of a beach. In defense, Katniss and Peeta are explored further. Right before entering, the two lovers rehash. (I wonder if they know they've had more of a rocky relationship than Sam and Diana from Cheers?) But they're just friends. Yeah, right. They meet a bunch of weird, violent people again, and you already know what to expect: District 2 is violent, District 11 is lighter, and everybody gets killed. That starts to change after the initial build up, though.

This is basically the more action-packed version of it, but the action scenes don't make sense. Acid rain, monkeys, and electric fences called forcefields. Okay? Whatever the hell that means.

Again in the defense of this book, the writing is top-notch. The details of the book are spot on, describing a very depressing, violent, angsty dystopia. But compared to the first book, where everything you loved and didn't expect, is just rehashed here, until the very surprising end. If anything, this is like Star Wars. If The Empire Strikes Back had more plot, than this is number III: a lot of explosions, no plot. Oh well. The third book will later improve everything by a longshot. For now, though, kick back your sandals, turn on that kindle, and read through this flawed piece of art.

One of the most suspenseful moments: "I'm staring into the snakelike eyes of President Snow".
Best line in the book: "I'm Katniss Everdeen. I hate everybody and I'm about as entertaining as a dead sloth." Oh wait, that's not a line. Dammit.

2.5 / 5

The Aftermath of XYZ

The TF141 Media crew has returned from the XYZ convention. Apparently I wasn't invited, but whatever. Not that I don't care, but I was far too busy that night. However, I did get a lot of the scoop.

Apparently, the XYZ festival started as a street label that recorded underground mixtapes. Eventually it became a gaming convention for unnoticed studios, do to their interest in people or groups not recognized in the face of the industry. So it later started in 2002, and soon became popular. This year, the XYZ festival was hosted in England, due to the cover art being a shot of "The Tube" train in London. Rock group Axel Rudi Pell performed live doing an entire performance of their 1998 underground hit Oceans of Time, and their less successful 2004 album Kings and Queens. It was a sight to see for rockers around the world.

Later on, after about an hour, the awards were announced. Here are the categories:

- Independent Studio of the Year
- Best Independent Studio working under a Major Label
- Best Independent Music Label
- Best Underground Work
- Best Production of Games
- Best Production of Music
- Best Production of Film Soundtrack or Feature Presentations
- The Most Active Independent Studio of the Year

Although a festival, this was for invite only. The TF141 Media crew was nominated in three categories out of ten nominees each: Best Independent Studio working under a Major Label, Best Production of Games, and The Most Active Independent Studio of the Year. We had won the latter, due to our minor, yet significant work for Fallout: New Vegas, Killzone 3, Crysis II, inFamous II, Fable 3, Halo: Reach, and production on music albums England Keep My Bones, The King of Limbs, Fly from Here, and Nostradamus. We had barely beaten Raven Softworks, who nearly had won with eight major projects significantly finished. Derek Carter performed the speech, and apparently he stuttered once. Shame!

And Finn Smith was invited by Johnny Gioeli to go sing the chorus of 'Sea of Evil' with him. Good for him and all, but Rudi Pell and Gioeli can not be beat, even with Smith's stirring voice...... -_-

Yes, indeed, I heard it twas a fine night. But it was the part where Rudi Pell and the group began to use synthetic fire to begin the shows, and took it indoors, became the real eye-catcher. For me at least. It seemed like Johnny Gioeli was really on fire, and Rudi Pell's guitar was really lit. So it was definitely a stage presence from the gods of underground metal. These guys are seriously underrated, I swear it..

That is just barely topped by the part where Carter comes up to do a little song he wrote in just a case that they won an honor. Of course there was no reward, he used one of Rudi Pell's instruments, under supervision, of course, but it is the most retarded thing in the history of mankind. Next to Limp Bizkit, of course. He even dressed for the occasion: he dressed like someone from the hair metal era, and performed it not knowing how to use a guitar. Definitely something worth seeing.

Last but not least, they had vodka. Hooray.

Well, at least I got brought back this:

One of their best albums signed by one of the best vocalists of rock. Ever. Well, these guys officially have someone buying a ticket to their next show.

After I see Maiden, of course...

Anyways, that's the scoop of the XYZ festival.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Sleep til XYZ

Finally being able to buy a new tour bus, the TF141 Media crew has been hard at work lately. We have finished off multiple small projects in the past few months, such as the SMART mastering in the below average Brink, our help in character designs and animations in inFamous II, and two trusted members of ours, Roland King and Rachel Mika, have both done production on two impressive albums: Frank Turner's England Keep My Bones, and Yes's Fly from Here, respectively.

In honor of our community work, we were then invited by members of the XYZ Award Community to be awarded for our achievements. We had then gotten enough money to buy ourselves a new studio, bus, and lighting rig for the TF141 Media band. (Will be explained in later post) The invasion there begins in four days, still waiting for our return. Considering how far everybody has grown over the years, and a Gathering will be held tomorrow.