Monday, May 8, 2017

Album Review: Lipstick II

"Not everyone in Nashville listens
to country music."

Lipstick is a hard rock glam band from Nashville, TN. Fronted by the enigmatic Greg Troyan, the band delivers a classic sounding groove that will take you back to the days when real men wore tights and makeup...and Lipstick. Their shows are high energy, with quality entertainment, frequently joined by various characters, including a giant cool cat, wearing sunglasses. 

Greg Troyan

The band's second album, Lipstick II literally has something for everyone. It starts off with a Zeppelinesque intro, called On the Eve of the Attack which gets the ball rolling, and it goes into Fight Back. A tune that will bring back memories of the classic songs of another makeup wearing band, Kiss. The song, Stop is another one. The band has influences that are on display, but they definitely have their own sound. For example, Love of Some Kind has a Beatles ballad feel to it, while Stop Drop and Rock and Roll  has a 60's rock feel. Troyan has a powerful voice with a nasty sneer that fits perfectly with the classic vibe of the music. Guitarist, Casey Horn can hang with any guitarist of the era. Eric Penticoff plays guitar as well. All the songs are accompanied by blistering leads. 

Casey Horn

The bass and drums are played by equally talented musicians. Bassist, Steve Smith is as solid a bass player as anyone. He is accompanied by Greg Loyacano on drums. The band has several songs with rapid pauses in them, and this rhythm section keeps them tight, like the appropriately titled, and aforementioned Stop. But their power is on display on You Can't Stop the Rock. The song starts with a barrage of bass and drums.

Steve Smith
What impresses me the most about this band is not only their perfect tribute to the classic rock of the 70's and 80's, its the fact that these guys are all under 30. They have a serious grip on their style, and I think that even that 70 year old guy who is at every Skynyrd show, who swears by them would even enjoy Lipstick immensely. Sure, the band writes lyrics about millennial age problems, like Girl Dressed as Sailor Moon, a song about meeting your dream girl at a comic con, only to find out that she lives in another state, and the heartbreak associated with such events. But, the lyrics are funny. The music is good, the lyrics are funny, and it makes you feel good hearing it. I'm not even sure what a Rock and Roll Anime Girl is, but I dig the tune! And, I think my favorite tune on the album is Gotta Eat When You Can. That song will have you 'chomp chomp chomping' at the bit to raid the frige!

The band also pays homage to the sleazy rock of the 80's in Electric Pussycat. And, what 80's style album wouldn't be complete without an ode to teenage girls? Teenage Girlfriend is respectful to the young ladies. Although, the band seems to like their nerdy girls to be real and not a Fake Nerd Girl. 

Mr Cool, the Electric Pussycat?

I think the most unique song idea I've heard is the Lipstick Public Service Announcement, Lipstick Encourages You To Have Fun At Our Shows But Not At The Expense Of Other Concert Goers. Yes, that is the title! Its a punk rock song in which there are certain parts where a mosh pit could actually form. But, Lipstick wants you to have fun and dance, and not hurt anyone. And, the album concludes with an original punk rock Christmas song, Christmas Time Machine. 

This is one of my favorite albums that I've had the pleasure of reviewing. Its fun, and it puts a smile on my face. It will for you as well. There's so much going on in the world that will make you frown, so wny not turn it upside down? Order a CD, or download it from their website:

And follow them on social media:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Headscratcher Moments In Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Let's blow it up!"

Better late than never, I guess. I was talking with a friend, and I was saying how while I like The Force Awakens, there were a few things in the movie that really rub me the wrong way. I love all things Star Wars. I've seen all the movies in their original theatrical releases, and I've seen every episode of BOTH Clone Wars TV shows, as well as Star Wars: Rebels. Now that my nerd credentials are out of the way, lets begin. (My friends inspire lots of blog posts, don't they?)

Obviously, my main issue is the fact that Luke Skywalker had just a minute of screen time, and no lines. I had gotten my hopes up about seeing him in the film. But, that's everyone's main gripe about it. My others are a little more subtle. 

Mark Hamill: The highest paid extra
in the history of the world
For the rest of them, we'll start from the beginning. I've never liked the idea of a missing piece of a map. Its too cliche. It almost seems lazy. Especially, when the piece that Poe recovered was the surrounding area that had the missing piece section it. The Empire found the Rebel Base in The Empire Strikes Back using thousands of probe droids. The First Order could have easily done the same thing to find Luke. Just send a ship to the edge where the map ends, and dispatch the droids! Not to mention the question of why was there even a map in the first place??

Ok, so I had that backwards.
Still, the missing piece has Luke's exact location!
But, I hate maps in movies!
Next up are several scenes from Finn. I'm not going into how he knew how to bring down Starkiller Base after being a janitor. Although, they could have made him something more believable. No, there are a couple scenes that were poorly written. I don't blame this on the actor at all. And, both scenes are at the Maz's Bar scene. First, when the Resistance comes in, and starts blasting every Storm Trooper around, Finn stops to look up, and admire the pilot's handy work. And, he happily stands up, and says "That's one hell of a pilot!" Now, I know people who have been in combat, and when air support arrived, and started mowing down the enemy, they ran for cover. They didn't stop to admire the pilot's skill. I know, I've asked them. 

The next scene from Finn comes shortly after Rey is taken by Kylo Ren. He's depressed, and tells Maz that he doesn't have a weapon. She tells him that he does, and refers to Luke's lightsaber, which he has no idea how to use. Meanwhile, there are dead storm troopers all over the place, with their weapons in their hands, or next to them. 

How in the hell do I use this damn thing?
Next, we're going to talk about the Millennium Falcon. No, I'm not going to talk about how Rey just mysteriously knew how to fly the ship as well as Han Solo. I have an answer for that. The Force Awaken(ed) in her. That's how. My problem is when they discover that Starkiller Base has a shield that can withstand anything traveling under light speed. So, they penetrate the shield at light speed, then throw on the brakes? Not likely. How long would it take to throw on the brakes? Much longer than the amount of time they would have had to stop the ship. They would have made a crater on the planet that would have literally destroyed the planet. That's what they should have done. Had a ship travel at light speed on remote control. Nobody onboard. Aim it directly at the weapon. Don't even bother slowing down. The planet and the weapon are history. And, Han Solo would still be with us, as well as all the Resistance fighters who died in the assault. But, Kylo Ren and General Hux also would have been killed. Without them, we don't have Episode 8.

Unless its a different movie.
This is a more accurate description of
coming out of light speed than
what was depicted in The Force Awakens.

So, these are just a few. There are a few more, but I can't think of them right off the bat. Once again, I love all things Star Wars. But, I've seen The Force Awakens about 5 times. I've seen Rogue One twice, and I'm afraid to watch it again because I don't want to start ripping it apart. That being said, I'm very excited about the upcoming movies. I have high hopes that the next movies will all be better than The Force Awakens. Most of the gripes that people have about this movie could have been avoided if they had just taken a little more time on the script!!!

So, until my next post, live long and prosper. May the force be with you! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Who Dat? The Replacement Singers

Who Dat?

As the legendary bands age, members come and go. Some die, some get fired, some quit. But just because an original member isn't in the band anymore, is it still the same band? Should the band call it quits because the original bass player quit? Hell, should the band hang it up if the singer or guitarist quits? Gets fired? Dies? I got into a discussion with a good friend of mine a couple days ago, and we disagreed on the subject. He was saying that if the original lineup wasn't there, it was nothing more than a cover band. I maintained that it depends on the situation. Bands like Molly Hatchet, who have a lineup that features not one single original member are cover bands. Or, Bobby Blotzer, formerly of Ratt suing the original lineup for the name, where  he would be the only original  member. However, a band like Queensryche is still the band. 3/5 of the original lineup are still there. We're going to talk about several bands in this piece, and explore the fan's reaction to the new members. Since I've already mentioned Queensryhe, we'll start with them.

Queensryche's original lineup released their first 6 albums together. The first member to depart was guitarist, Chris DeGarmo, who left the band to pursue a career as an airline pilot. Many people considered the band to be dead when he left. Since his departure, they had 2 replacement guitarists, neither of who captured the essence of DeGarmo's playing. However, the third time is the charm in this case. Current guitarist, Parker Lundgren does the best job out of the three of them at matching the style of DeGarmo. And, he's been on more Queensryche albums than the other two guitarists, including the 2 released with replacement singer, Todd LaTorre. (Both albums charted in the top 30, which had not happened in a long time) LaTorre who replaced singer, Geoff Tate after his firing as mostly accepted by the fans, although you'd never know it if you look at social media, where supporters of Geoff Tate rattle off the same tired dribble like "No Tate, no Queensryche!" over and over again. Although they never seem to dispute the counter arguments that say that Tate can't even sing the songs anymore for some reason. The song writing is back to the style that the fans wanted, which is the classic power metal that made the band famous in the first place.

Todd LaTorre of Queensryche

Next, we'll take a look at a replacement singer who was hated by the fans. Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden. And, before you start sending me messages and comments, Yes, I know that Bruce Dickinson was also a replacement singer. We aren't talking about Bruce. Not to mention, he's back in the band, and has been for a long time, so its a non issue. Blaze had a rough time as Maiden's singer. All that really needs to be said is that the fans hated him, and they hated the 2 albums that he sang on. But, finally, Bruce came back on 2000's Brave New World, and the fans rejoiced.

Blaze Bayley with Iron Maiden

Next, we're going to talk about another group of metal gods, who are none other than the Metal Gods themselves. Judas Priest. When Rob Halford left the band to pursue a solo career, the fans were angry. But, a few years later, the band found Tim 'Ripper' Owens, who sounded just like Halford.  His first album with Priest, Jugulator was released with a mix of criticism and praise. Most fans liked the album, but there were some detractors who complained that it was too heavy. I've always maintained that if you read the album credits in Jugulator, you will see Halford's name listed in about half the songs. Jugulator was going to be the next Priest album with or without Halford. But, the next album, Demolition, a lot the praise for Ripper had gone away. Although it was a great metal album, it didn't sound like Priest, and many fans believed that it was time for Ripper to go. And, he did, and has had a pretty successful career. 

Tim 'Ripper' Owens with Judas Priest

And last, but not least, we're going to talk about the most successful replacement singer of all time...well, recent time, anyway, since Brian Johnson of AC/DC, who is the most successful replacement singer of all time is not with them anymore. Plus, he's a lot like Bruce Dickinson. He is a replacement singer, but the band got gi-normous once he came in. No, we're going to talk about Arnel Pineda of Journey. You all know his story. Guitarist, Neal Schon found him on YouTube, a singer in the Philippines, playing in cover bands, in crappy bars. They had tried to bring other singers, but were unsuccessful. But, once Pineda came in, Journey found themselves selling out arenas and stadiums once again. Having a singer who launches himself through the air like a young David Lee Roth certainly doesn't hurt. But, while there are detractors and purists for all of these singers, Pineda, I would say has had the most success. Sure, there are people who would rather have Steve Perry back in Journey, but I'm not one of them...And, neither is Steve Perry!

Perry and Pineda. Respect.

So, in conclusion, you simply aren't going to be able to please everyone. I don't think that just because an original singer goes away for whatever reason that the band simply becomes a cover band, or a 'Fake-Ryche' or 'Mock Up Priest,' or 'Iron Rip-Off' or whatever creative name that the detractors came up with. The band members want to continue to tour, and make albums, and the fans still want to see them. So, why should they quit? If you ask me, they shouldn't.
Arnel Pineda with journey

However, Bobby Blotzer needs to give it up!