Monday, October 10, 2011

A Fond Farewell


“Sunrise doesn’t last all morning… A cloudburst doesn’t last all day…” The Beatles

Nothing lasts forever, not even the good things in life. One of my favorite sayings is that “Life often gets in the way of life.” When everything is insanely busy and I am completely overwhelmed and wondering why I haven’t seen a particular friend, or why I don’t have time to get X, Y, or Z done, I know it’s because “Life gets in the way of life.”

Here I am, once again at a crossroads. I started this blog for several reasons. The biggest was that I wanted to create something I just wasn’t finding on the web; something that, as a fan, I would stop and visit every day. I think that I have achieved that. I hope that other people have felt the same way and that over the last 2 ½ years, they have stopped by for a daily (or at least weekly) dose of enjoyment.

When I started this blog I felt that I had a lot more time than I do now, but that isn’t entirely true. I had the same amount of time; I just focused more of that time on the blog and let other things slip aside. Now, after 33 months of blogging, it’s a struggle to keep up sometimes. The blog is hard work and not returning the rush it did when I first began. It’s reflected in my mood and in the finished work that I publish.

Recently, I took some time to scroll through some of my earliest posts. What jumped out at me was how detailed they were, and how polished they were (especially for an amateur blog). That was due to a lot of dedication, devotion, and desire. I’m not saying that I don’t have that same drive that I did nearly three years ago, I’m just saying that I’m burning out. I could probably continue on with The Rock And Roll Guru for another year or two, but the finished product would not be as good.

I’ve been doing a lot of self realization lately. I’ve been asking myself to really do some critical thinking about what I want from life and to be honest with myself, not just provide lip service. I know that I had great expectations when this blog was launched. Part of me secretly saw it as my ticket out of the 9-to-5 world and into something that I could do for a living, making it my 9-to-5 job. Now, I don’t see that as the case. The level of dedication that I would have to put it into the blog to make it my day job in a year or two is a high level of commitment that I cannot adhere to at this time. It could be done, but it would require all other interests of my life to be forgotten. That just isn’t going to happen.

The biggest hurdle to The Rock And Roll Guru becoming my day job is the fact that the market is just too saturated. Looking back in hindsight, trying to be a jack of all trades, was not the best idea for growing a fledgling blog. It needs to be niche down. Just because I love ALL types of music, doesn’t mean that the music site I write is going to have massive visits from all types of music fans. Because The Guru is all over the page, it actually takes away from repeat customers. A niche market returns; a broad market isn’t quite sure what you are offering them.

I love this site more than I can put into words. I love the fact that people from all over the world have stopped and read a paragraph, a page, or quite a few pages of my work. Nothing could provide me deeper satisfaction than knowing I achieved that. It’s an indescribable experience that brings me pure joy.

However, The Guru has not gone where I had hoped it would. I know why, which is a great thing. The experience I have gained from writing this blog is priceless and will certainly help me be eons ahead should I decide to venture into something similar in the future. That being said, it is time for a long, possibly permanent, hiatus. I am burning out and I do not want The Guru to be riddled with shoddy posts in the waning days. Out of respect for myself, the blog, and most importantly, you, the regular readers, I have decided that it is time to shut it down. A re-launch is not entirely out of the question, but it is not very likely to happen.

The Every Album Challenge will continue. There may come a time when I put an additional post or two on The Guru about it, but mostly, updates will come via twitter (www.twitter.com/ryovie). The Challenge is a personal thing that I want to achieve and accomplish. I thought that I would be writing a LOT about it on The Guru, but it hasn’t created as many inspirational posts as I initially envisioned. That being said, I love a good challenge, and therefore will be completing it.

If you’re a huge fan of my writing, first I say thank you. Second, I say, if you would like to continue reading my writings, you can still find me on Hard Rock Hideout (www.hardrockhideout.com) with my bi-weekly column, Vie’s Verses as well as some record reviews. My writing for that site will continue, and who knows where else I may show up with a guest post.

If you are a band, PR department, producer, manager, or solo artist that has sent me work for review, I say thank you. The fact that you would even consider hearing my opinion about your music means the world to me. Keep making/producing/promoting the wonderful music that you do. It truly makes people happy.

To everyone who ever visited this site --- thank you. It has been a pleasure to produce this blog for you. Thanks for the visits, the memories, and the laughs. I’ll see you all down the road or at the next great show. Until then---keep on rocking!

Ryo Vie
October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Rebellion - II



The Rebellion has returned with their sophomore effort, II. After releasing a solid and enjoyable debut, the stakes were high for The Rebellion to deliver on their second album. Fortunately for the fans, the band was up for the task. II is every bit as good as the band’s debut record (Time).

While their first album sounded all Muse, Coldplay, and The Fray, the new disc sounds more like The Rebellion. The band has solidified their sound. Piano driven modern rock is the style of Rebellion, and it is music done right. Josh Palmer’s voice still sounds fantastic and his bandmates follow suit, showing off their talent with ease.

II brings with it many surprises yet many familiarities as well. Josh Palmer’s voice sounds as grand as the previous record and his guitar work is still amazing. The songs are stronger than the previous disc and much more enjoyable. The hard work that The Rebellion put into this record shows in the sound that is released. It’s obvious the band did not want to repeat their debut and deliver a stale sound, so they went to work and worked hard. The end result was worth it, as II is one of the better records to be released this year.

The Rebellion pick up where the left off at the end of Time, bringing more great music to the fans. While “Missing Piece” is a solid opening track complete with plenty of piano and incredible vocal, it’s the second song on the disc, “Save Me” that gets the feet tapping and the backsides shaking. “Save Me” is a magnificent modern rock piece with intricate changes, a fantastic guitar solo, and a harder edge. It begins soft and sweet but finishes rough and tough. “Save Me” is a fantastic song and it finds The Rebellion hitting their stride.

“The Escape” has a Queen like feel to it, especially during the guitar solo. It reminded me so much of Brian May that I thought he had made a guest appearance on the record. Alas, it was an original solo by Josh Palmer. The complexity in the arrangements and changes shows just how much The Rebellion has matured as a band. “The Escape” is a sophisticated rock song. Without a doubt the hardest rocking and best sounding song on the record, The Escape is a great rock tune worthy of many listens and a lot of radio airplay.

II brings plenty of rock moments with it. The blend of brilliant guitar solo, Palmers magnificent voice and just the right amount of piano, drums, and bass solidify the music to perfection. II is one of the better albums to be released this year. If you are a huge fan of The Rebellion’s debut album, it may take a spin or two to enjoy II. Because it is advancement from their debut disc, II takes a little longer to appreciate, but it can be enjoyed immediately. If this is your first Rebellion experience, then it is a great album to get to know the band. You will be impressed and rejoice in this fantastic sounding record.

Ryo’s Rating: 8 (out of 10)

Track Listing
Missing Piece
Save Me
Interlude
The Escape
Without You
Ocean Breeze
Animal
Bend Or Break
Sympathetic Fool
Break Out
Reprise
All You Need

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lollapalooza - July 23, 2003


Back in 2003, Lollapalooza was still a travelling tour, as opposed to the one city, one weekend event that is the current format. In the summer of 2003, Lollapalooza announced their tour dates and one of the stops was at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. With bands like Incubus, Audioslave, and Jane’s Addiction on the bill, there was no way I would miss out.

The Donnas
The Donnas opened the main stage in style. I always wondered what happened to The Donnas. They were a decent, all girl band, and in 2003, I thought they would go on to be hugely successful. Their live act was solid, they looked magnificent (hot, sweaty, beautiful women playing rock and roll is always attractive), and they had a hit song in “Take It Off.” With so much going right, I am surprised that this band didn’t take off. As it was, I was happy to see them in concert and thought they did a great job as a live act.

Queens Of The Stone Age
I had never seen Queens Of The Stone Age prior to Lollapalooza, and I barely knew their music. I was familiar with a song or two that I had heard on the radio, but other than that, I had not paid them much attention. Thus, I had no idea what to expect when it was their turn to rock the Arts Center. All I knew is that they were the bridge to Incubus.

In a brief, simple, summary, this band sucked. I rarely trash any bands, as I know how hard it is to make good music, go out on stage, and perform in front of crowds both large and small, but there is no other way for me to state how I felt about Queens Of The Stone Age. It could quite possibly be the worst musical performance I ever sat through.

The lead singer had a voice that sound like broken glass being chewed. The instruments were all out of tune, and it appeared that the band did way too much partying before taking the stage. Hence, the band sucked. I quickly forgot about them and never gave QOTSA another thought until now. Most likely, I will never think about them again.

Incubus
This would be my first time witnessing Incubus live. I knew they would perform a condensed set, but figured it would be packed with hits, which would make me happy. Incubus delivered. While their performance at Lollapalooza was nowhere near as grand as their headlining performance I witnessed years later, it was still a power packed show.

Without lighting, special effects, or any other extras that headliners get, Incubus focused on the music. And that was enough for the crowd. Incubus’ music is what makes them special and there is no need for them to rely on special effects to enhance their show. The music does all the talking.

My only disappointment with Incubus was the fact that they did not play one of their biggest hits. For whatever reason, “Drive” was not on the set list that night, and to this day, I am still scratching my head over that.

Audioslave
2003 was really the year of Audioslave. After Rage Against The Machine split up and Soundgarden called it a day, Chris Cornell and the members of Rage (minus Zach) got together and made a super group. And super they were. Their debut album ranks in my top 50 albums of all time. The year it was released, I played it nonstop. To finally witness these songs in their live format was the treat of the night.

The band opened with a White Stripes song, which I found an odd thing to do. Not only were they opening with a song that wasn’t their own, but the song they chose (“Seven Nation Army”) was a current White Stripes song. I can’t recall ever seeing a band cover a current hit in concert. That being said, they performed a damned good version of the song.

After the cover intro, Audioslave songs followed. All of the best songs from their self-titled debut were played and the crowd loved it. Chris Cornell has a voice for the angels and Tom Morello is a guitar whiz worthy of being considered one of the greats. Their live performance really did the band justice.

Toward the end of their set, Cornell came out on stage solo with an acoustic guitar and played a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” It was well done and of course, the New Jersey crowd went wild for the Bruce cover.

Overall, Audioslave was magnificent. It was the only time I saw them in concert, but it was a memorable one.

Jane’s Addiciton
The headliners of the show were the recently reunited Jane’s Addiction. They were touring behind a brand new album, Strays, which was a solid record. This would be my second time seeing them in concert, so I knew how great the band was live. That night would be no exception.

As Jane’s set started, I noticed something strange occurring in front of me. It had been a long day of music, and a lot of people had a little too much (or way too much) to drink. By that time of the night, goofy things were bound to happen.

The not-so-gentleman in front of me and my friends decided that it was time for a bathroom break, but apparently he did not want to miss any of Jane’s Addiction. So, right in front of us and everyone else on the lawn, he whipped out his rod urinated. The crowd around him dissipated quickly, giving him plenty of room. After he finished tapping the tree, he zipped up and went right on rocking. I had to question what I just saw, but my friends confirmed it. We just watched a guy piss on the lawn at a Jane’s Addiction concert.

As for the real show, it was magnificent. Ninety minutes of great music from one of the founding fathers of alternative rock. I have always been enamored with Perry Farrell, considering him a musical genius. His excellence showed on that night as he and the rest of the band performed a concert that was entertaining, packed with hit songs, and extremely well performed. There were no complaints from me or my friends.

Lollapalooza 2003 was an entertaining event and worth the price of admission. While it would be the last time that I would see Jane’s Addiction in concert, they gave me quite a memory to go out on.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday's Rockin' Roundup - Home Repair Edition

This past week, Mrs. Vie and I have been working on our daughter’s room, transforming it from “the little princess” theme to a more teenage oriented theme. This has meant scraping, painting, spackling, cleaning, color picking, and a lot of hard work. When it is all over with, the room will look immaculate. Quite possibly, it could be the nicest room in the house. Getting to that point though, that is the battle. I have never spackled so many holes in one room before this. My word of advice to parents everywhere---do not let your children hang up posters with push pins. Tape only! It will make things so much easier when it comes time to remake their room.

Here’s what rocked this week:

Do You Want Total Music Freedom?
A new app has been launched that allows users to synch their music across any mobile phone, tablet, or personal computer, meaning your music collection is with you wherever you go. In a nutshell, this is the cloud for music, and it looks oh so sweet! And what makes this better than ICloud, is that it is not restricted to the apple universe. Now you can synch the music on your blackberry with your PC and your IPad. One touch of the app and everything is there. To check this out in more detail, visit: www.mymusiccloud.com

30 Musicians Under 30 Worth Knowing
If you are always searching for the next great sound or the next great artist, here is a website that you have to visit. 30 under 30: Musicians To Know is a site dedicated to 30 young musicians over the world on the cusp of making it big. The creators of the site searched high and wide for talent all over the world that they believe have what it takes to be a great solo artist. Bios on the artist and samples of their music are all included. This is a great site for those of us that love indie rock.

Kiss Gets Screwed Again
Over at Hard Rock Hideout, the latest edition of Vie’s Verses can be found. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees were announced and once again, Kiss was left off the bill. What the heck is that all about? Check out my seething rant over at HRH. Kiss deserves some respect.

Every Album Challenge Update
Albums Listened To: 355
Albums Remaining: 1,698

For more news, reviews, strange thoughts, concert updates, new release information, and basic blabbering, you should follow me on twitter. www.twitter.com/ryovie

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Scent Of Music

Recently I pulled out a Rolling Stones mix tape that I made over twenty years ago. I wanted to listen to the ingeniously titled, “Rolling Stones Mix” as part of my Every Album Challenge. The mix was recorded on the Maxell Brand that was popular at the time. I remember buying those blank tapes in packs of ten for all of the mixes that I made. And all of them had outstandingly creative titles like “Kiss Mix,” “Aerosmith Mix,” and “Rolling Stones Mix.”

When I pulled the “Rolling Stones Mix” cassette open and prepared to pop it into the cassette player, something hit me right away---the smell of the cassette. It still smelled new. It still smelled like it had twenty years ago. It was a sweet, plastic scent that was undeniably Maxell. I don’t know if this was caused from the process of manufacturing the tapes, or if the factory coated them with a special scent, but I immediately knew the smell. It brought back many memories of my youth.

As a kid, I was big on sense of smell when it came to new music. Whenever I would buy a new cassette, one of my biggest thrills came from ripping off the plastic sheet the cassette was packaged in, popping it open, and sticking my nose on the cassette to get a good whiff. The clear tapes always smelled the best, but the Maxell blanks were a close second.

The joy of smelling my music followed me around as I got older and technologically advanced. I would smell new CDs as they were purchased, and while the covers still had a pleasant scent, the CDs themselves did not smell like much of anything. I believe it was the plastic jewel boxes the CDs came in that secured any scent. The smell was not as invigorating as the cassette tapes, but it was still there.

Now, with modern technology, paper packaging, and electronically stored music dominating collections, we’ve lost a lot of that nostalgic scent. It is the one thing I miss most about collecting music. No new music smells the way the tapes of old did (and amazingly still do). I can’t believe that the scent of the Maxell held up for more than twenty years. I experimented with other cassettes, and while the scent was still somewhat apparent on a few of them, it was non-existent on most. However, every Maxell UR brand blank tape that I sniffed still had a strong smell of “cassette.” They all held up over time.

Has anyone else tried this? Did any of you ever spend time smelling your collection growing up and noticing how great/unique/invigorating the cassette tapes smelled? Was it only the tapes of the late 80s/early 90s? I noticed that the white tapes of the 70s/early 80s somehow did not carry the same scent. It must be the type of plastic that was used.

If you remember “smelling” your collection, drop a line in the comments section. Don’t be shy. We all have quirky habits as music collectors. I know that I cannot be the only music fanatic to have done this on a regular basis. That’s not only highly improbable, it is borderline impossible.

Maxell brand cassette tapes…you rock!