Monday, March 30, 2015

my thoughts on the new strung out album

It has been around six (6) years since the last Strung Out album. That's too long. 2009 brought Agents of the Underground, and I don't remember if I reviewed it or not, and I'm too lazy to check. Very probable that it was on my best of list that year. In those six years though, we've seen a greatest hits compilation with a couple new tracks and the hits remastered, as well as a box set of their remastered albums. And I should note that the remasters do sound phenomenal.

Strung Out is probably one of my favorite bands, if not my favorite. One thing: I really hate the idea of having a favorite anything really, but I think I've listened to Strung Out the most over the last 18 years or so. All of their albums have their own unique sounds, but the general idea is fast, very proficient, metal-influenced, poppy, melodic punk rock. The dudes can play their instruments, likely better than your favorite shitty nu-metal band.

What does it sound like? For some reason the initial vibe I got made me think it belongs on whatever your local modern "hard rock" radio station is. Chill out cuz, I'm not saying this is like Volbeat or Distubed level nu-metal garbage; Strung Out can out-play and out-write those hacks any day.

Worry not though, repeated listens brought the goods, and each spin brought more personality out of each song. What I initially heard as over-polished, maybe kinda slow, modern punk rock, morphed into shredding, awesome punk rock - exactly what you'd expect out of the band in 2015. Nowheresville is vintage Strung Out, and rips, but you don't need a track by track breakdown; each song slays.

Known for book-ending their albums with opening burners and epic closers, we are not disappointed here, though they will likely never top the opener-closer combo of Twisted by Design. Shout-out to Heckyeahwoman for letting me walk down the aisle to Too Close to See. Shout-out to Heckyeahwoman's mom for looking around all aghast as the ridiculous opening riff cranks up.

Vocalist Jason Cruz, probably one of the best punk vocalists out there, does his part exceedingly well. If you're familiar with their previous output, you know what to expect here, melodic punk singing, with a little bit of yelling. Cruz's distinct voice fits the music perfectly. His lyrics are again kind of vague, and generally seem to revolve around the idea of "we are something"/"we are united", against some sort of big brother governmental entity. Keep it posi, brah.

As mentioned earlier, repeated listens to this album only beget more listening. This album smokes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

i kind of remember when i became an atheist

I was a kid and I hated church. We would go to church on many Sundays, and then have religion class on Monday nights. Yeah, during Monday Night Football. WHAT THE FUCK. At least Sunday church was done by noon.

My mom still tells the story of how one Sunday my brother and I were being taken to church, and we got there, parked, and as we walked across the street, then into the church, we both limped - in a very exaggerated fashion - the entire way. We told my mom that the bottoms of our feet hurt. And as we limped, I guess another lady looked at my mom like, "why would you bring these horribly injured kids out to church, let them stay at home and heal!"

Obviously, my mom knew we were faking it. But we tried to get out of going every time: crying, hiding, making injuries up, fighting, probably everything.

As a kid, I was mad at God for church being a thing, so he was my enemy. The whole production was kind of weird to me, the Pastor's robe, the idea of communion, the lifeless off-key mumbling/singing of hymns, all kinda strange. The kneeling in the pews was so annoying. It was boring. There are a million reasons for kids to hate going to church.

I remember watching the Dragnet movie as a child. That was back in the late 80s when we were big Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters!) and Tom Hanks (almost every movie around that time period) fans. Anyway, the bad guys in the movie were pagans, and not knowing what that meant, I asked my parents, and they said something like, "people against Christians". That stuck with me, and the next Sunday, not wanting to go to church, I secretly became a pagan.

A couple years later, still hating church, one day it occurred to me that the best way to piss God off was to not even acknowledge his or her existence. Childish? Yeah probably, but I was a child then. Since maybe fifth or sixth grade, it just stuck with me: there is no God. I should note that I'm no longer at war with having to go to church, or trying to piss of an imaginary being; I just think the likelihood of there being a God is approaching zero.

Mind you, this was before I knew what atheism was, or how annoying many actual atheists were. This was before I realized many atheists were all, "OMG if it says "Democrat" or "science" on it, I'll suck it". Had I known that as an eight year old, I mighta never converted, ha.

Funny little side note here. I went to Catholic school from first to third grade, and my final year there, I participated in the Christmas play. You'll never guess my role. Shout out to my dad for making me a huge, bad ass cardboard staff.

So what's the upshot here? I was an atheist before you, and more importantly, before it was cool.

I was also punk before you, but that's a different story for a different time.