Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Review of Max Raabe & the Palast Orchester in Madison, WI

Posted by matt on October 4, 2008

max_raabe_palast_orchester2.jpgSara and I had the privilege to see Max Raabe & the Palast Orchester at the Overture Center in Madison, WI tonight.  Immediately we were transported back to a pre-WWII time in Germany when the music was beautiful, ironic and a little creepy.  The closing credits to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (Midnight, Stars and You) immediately came to mind.

The musicianship was outstanding and Max Raabe is just fun to watch.  Standing on stage leaning on the piano, hair slicked back while wearing a tux with full tails, your band playing while you wait to sing–you can’t look much cooler.  It was a solid show and the sound at the Overture didn’t disappoint.

Playing a lot of big band songs in high school as well as the UW Band, I have an appreciation of the tightness of the 12 piece Palast Orchester surrounding Max.  Many of the members played 2 or 3 instruments, crossing from trombone to violin with ease.  The crowd at the Overture, while by no means packed, was also very appreciative.  Max and company did a couple of enthusiastic encores.  The fact that most of the songs were in German added a mysticism to it all.

If you have a chance to see them live, I’d highly recommend it.  I don’t know of an act touring that is anything like them, especially at their level of ability.  I bought their live CD at Carnegie Hall, but they also have a DVD available.   Good stuff.

Posted under music, reviews, shows

Metallica – Death Magnetic: Download or Buy it?

Posted by matt on September 11, 2008

metallica_death_magnetic.jpgArtist: Metallica
Album: Death Magnetic
Wikipedia Genre(s): Thrash metal, speed metal, heavy metal
Matt’s Fav Tracks:  All Nightmare Long, My Apocalypse
# times listened:
Moderate (10 – 25 times)
Matt’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy CD: Amazon
Steal It: PB, yo

The Metallica Death Magnetic Purchase Price Calculator

On 9/12/08, Metallica released their new album, Death Magnetic.  Surprisingly, it’s pretty good!  But with all the hubbub about Metallica, their hatred of MP3’s and their total disconnection with their fans, should you pay for it, or just download it guilt-free?

Depends.  Let’s do some analysis based on your experience:

+ $9 …Amazon purchase price of Death Magnetic
– $9 …if for some reason you bought St. Anger1:
– $4 …if you accidentally heard the “Lars is trapped in a porta-potti drumming2” sound on St. Anger
– $5 …if you felt alienated when you heard about Metallica’s anti-napster spiel 3
+ $9 …if you downloaded Metallica’s entire discography from bittorrent, because hey, screw them!4
– $20 …if you saw “Some Kind of Monster5
– $100 …if you bought “Some Kind of Monster”
(-$20 for me)
1 Note: this album was total crap.
2 A deaf 3rd-grader could have come up with a better sounding drum sound.
3 If you lived in a cave, you missed this.
4 Hopefully doing this made you feel a little better about yourself.
5 It’s hard to top the Napster fiasco, but take any little bit of dignity Metallica had left and prove that they are some of the biggest idiot, douche bags around.  This movie should have been called “Some Kind of Assholes”

So although I didn’t buy St. Anger, I did accidentally hear it ($-4) (note: it was deleted after I heard it).  I was also quite annoyed about Metallica’s anti-napster stance, so there’s another $5 discount.  That makes me entitled to steal Death Magnetic.  Additionally, I watched “Some kind of Monster” on IFC awhile ago, so Metallica actually owes me $20 in addition to giving me Death Magnetic.

Using the calculation above, what will you be ‘paying’ for Death Magnetic?

To make this easier for your collection, you can print and mail this document:


and send to:
PMB # 194
SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901-3581

Death Magnetic Album Review

So you either stole or paid for the album… is it any good?  It is a departure from the general crap they’ve been playing the last 10 years, with more of a ‘return to roots’ for them.  But is it too late?  Are they trying too hard?  Does every song have to be 9 minutes long?  This depends on what you like, but I’ll take the thrash stuff to whatever they were trying to do on their last album.

Some of the song structures seem forced (let’s put 3 songs together to get this song over 8 minutes!), but still executed well.  It feels like they read a market research report that said “hey, play more Master of Puppets style stuff!” and they tried hard to recreate it, with moderate success.

Remember, all these guys are 45+ years old, so they aren’t making it easy on themselves touring if they have to pound out this new stuff each night.  Also remember, even though the music might be better now, we didn’t forget what you did to us.

The decision to buy it or download it is yours, but either way, you should check it out.  Four out of 5 stars for me.

Posted under music, reviews

Poison, Dokken, Sebastian Bach Concert in Madison, WI

Posted by matt on July 13, 2008

poison_ballad_madison_wi_willow_island_2008_tour.jpgCaught the Poison show last night in Madison, WI, with Sara and some friends.  Not a bad show–a decent, albeit strange crowd of blasted out 30 and 40+ year olds reliving their high-school years in the 80’s.  There was more than one real mullet in the crowd.  If I were to rank the music, it would look something like this:

1. Dokken – They rocked!  I was surprised at how good their sound was.  No George Lynch on guitar, but whomever they got to fill his shoes could really tear it up.

2. Guns ‘n Roses playing on the PA – Before Poison played, they played GNR on the sound system.  Yes, this was better than…

3. Poison – They aren’t known for their musicianship, and they proved that tonight.  But they can put on a good show, and everyone was having a good time, so it was fun.

4. Sebastian Bach – He has a good voice, but he didn’t prove it tonight.  His sound was terrible and his band awful.  Thank goodness I missed most of this.

Some pictures from the show, in order of how they played (Sebastian Bach, Dokken and  Poison):

sebastian_bach_madison_wi_willow_island.jpg  dokken_madison_wi_willow_island.jpg  poison_madison_wi_willow_island_2008_tour.jpg

I also shot some videos at the show.  Here’s Poison doing “Talk dirty to me”:

Posted under music, reviews, shows

Mini-Album Review: Protest the Hero, Fortress

Posted by matt on June 29, 2008

protest_the_hero_fortress.jpgArtist: Protest the Hero
Album: Fortress
Wikipedia Genre(s): Metalcore, Mathcore, Progressive metal
Matt’s Fav Tracks: Bloodmeat, Bone Marrow
# times listened:
Moderate (10 – 25 times)
Matt’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy CD: Amazon
Have a listen: Amazon Non-DRM MP3’s

Around 10-15 years ago, I listened to a lot of music that would classically fall into the category of “Heavy Metal” (Metallica, Anthrax, and later on, Helmet and the Deftones).  In the mid-late 90’s, I turned off this genre due to most of the “NüMetal” that was all the rage and the Limp Bizkit / Korn clones that sucked big-bime. If it’s done well, it still gets annoying, but when done poorly, I’d rather listen to whales mating.

Enter Protest the Hero, the best thing to come out of Canada since Pam Anderson and Strange Brew.  Upon first hearing  this album, I was blown away by the throw-back musicianship these guys posses.  Bands like the napster-killing-morons, Metallica wish they could play half this well.  These guys pound out rhythms at a blinding speed and easily switch between genres flawlessly.

While they have some of the stereotypical screaming that I get sick of,  they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.  Tackling subjects like Genghis Kahn’s ruling empire with lyrics like:

“Heads will roll, and throats will be slit, and blood will flow like springs of water, Heads will roll”

Very over-the-top, shockingly funny, but done well, so listenable.  A breath of fresh air and a little return to a time when metal covered cool subjects like rulings of ancient tyrants and history lessons.  Check them out if you’ve been missing metal.  4 out of 5 stars for me.

Posted under music, reviews
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Mini-Album Review: Weezer, Weezer (Red Album)

Posted by matt on June 9, 2008

weezer_red_album.jpgArtist: Weezer
Album: Weezer (Red I guess)
Wikipedia Genre(s): Alternative rock, Geek rock, Power pop
Matt’s Fav Tracks: Pork and Beans, Troublemaker
# times listened: Not many (< 10 times)
Matt’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Buy CD: Amazon
Have a listen: Amazon Non-DRM MP3’s

I’m old-skool that when a band creates their ‘debut’ album, I like when it’s generally self-titled. Some folks decide that they do this later (i.e. Metallica with the “Black” album) and I’m cool with that. Weezer is having this go a little out of control though, as this is their THIRD self-titled album… Blue, Green and now Red.

This is easily Weezer’s weakest album. I wanted to dig it, but listening to all of their other albums, they have gotten progressively worse with each. I don’t know if it’s Cuomo’s wacky “cowboy crossed with Reno 911 cop mustache” look, or the fact that the songs try waaay too hard. Whatever the case, the album is trite beyond a couple songs. Weezer, unfortunately, hasn’t had a strong cover-to-cover album since the Green album. It’s sad, to have peaked almost 10 years ago… :(

The best thing about the new album has to be the video for Pork and Beans, with Internet meme goodness. Check it out if you haven’t seen it:

Posted under music, reviews