Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bully - Feels Like CD review

I first heard of Bully through one of their opening bands from their current tour called Heat.
(see show review)
I found a great youtube video of Bully playing the song Trying live on the Conan O'Brien show so I was eager to see the band live. The song that really hooked me into Bully was when I first heard Milkman, which is also on this CD but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
Feels Like starts off with I Remember. The opening track is chock full of youthful rock energy and ends rather quickly, leaving the listener wanting more. Alicia Bognanno screams through the song but still manages to convey heartfelt emotion and sentiment through the lyrics. Great opening song.
Reason keeps the energy level high and continues along the same vein as I Remember. A melodic lead vocal and guitar line carry the song along into a heavy crescendo.
Too Tough plods along with a heavy groove that immediately hooked me in with it's melodic simplicity. The lyrics seem to be describing the break up of a relationship. The vocals have a come hither quality that is hard to ignore.
Brainfreeze is another up tempo rocker that could be described as punky grunge. Smells like a college radio hit to me.
The first single from Feels Like is the somewhat controversial Trying. The lyrics convey the feeling of a troubled youth who is trying to deal with a uncertain future. Alicia proves why she took the torch from Courtney on this one with a great vocal performance that is full of angst and exciting energy.
Trash features some great guitar noises combined with notes of dissonance to create a heavy sound. The low key to screaming vocals are a perfect topping for the guitar interplay.
Six is a punk rock song. Fast and full of energy and exuberance.
Pictures is another great rocker with a kick ass bass sound and a new wavish chorus.
Milkman is my favorite song on Feels Like. The raw energy that the band exudes is infectious and the music has a aggressive edge that really raises the cool factor of the song. Just as the feeling of the song hits you it's over in a flash.
Feels Like ends with the song Bully. This song is another aggressive rocker that keeps the overall energy of the CD flowing in the right direction. Love the harmonic blending of the bendy guitar notes with the vocals.
I would definitely recommend the Feels Like CD to any college radio, punk rock, grunge or alternative rock music fan.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Water Is Life

Most people take it for granted that we will always have an endless supply of water right at our fingertips. Fresh, clean water to drink and wash things with. But water companies are beginning to limit the amount the water the public can use during the summer months due to shortages, especially in the western part of the United States.
Along with this I'm sure many people don't realize that the water from our toilets, showers and washers is purified and sent back into the water system for us to use again.
We must remember that water is a precious commodity that will not last forever.
A big problem I have noticed is that many water bottles are thrown away into the garbage with the cap screwed on and various amounts of water still inside. I've seen many unopened bottles just blindly thrown into the trash, still full of precious water.
The first problem is that the recyclable plastic bottles are not being recycled.
The second, more important problem is that water is left sealed inside the plastic bottle and just thrown away. It takes thousands of years for a plastic bottle to break down in a landfill. The water stays sealed in the plastic bottle as long as the plastic stays intact. This water may never make it out of the bottle and into our water system again.
Water Is Not Garbage!
Water Is Life.
The solution is quite simple, just dump the unused water from any used water bottle into a sink or a toilet so if can be filtered and reused. Please think twice before throwing away any amount of water into a trash can. This applies to old soda, leftover coffee and any amount of bottled water.
If this water never makes it into a sink it can never be reused.
Don't take water for granted and treat it like garbage, empty out any liquid containers before recycling or discarding the container.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Band 101 - Number 6

Band 101 is a blog series that deals with the in's and out's of being a participating member of a working cover band.

Entry number six deals with a somewhat controversial subject, using cheat sheets when playing live. First off, no matter what any band member may say cheat sheets are OK to use if you can't remember the words to a song or the chord changes. Practicing a song at home is great but playing live is very different, sometimes memorizing a song can be hard no matter how many times you may practice it at home. Cheat sheets are a great tool on the road to memorizing any song. A no cheat sheet band policy is really not a good thing, as at least 1 band member may need them to perform confidently. It's not uncommon for a famous recording artist to use cheat sheets so I think it's OK for any local musician to use them. I've witnessed famous recording artist Lucinda Williams use a songbook onstage. Lucinda wasn't glued to her songbook so it didn't detract from her outstanding live performance. It's no secret that Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath fame has the words to his songs continuously displayed on a fake monitor out front. This is the best way to do it but not all musicians have the technology or the budget to do this. The absolute best way for a working musician to "cheat" is to have a ipad or computer device set up on your mic stand so any quick glances can go unnoticed while performing. Finding a special attachment for your mic stand is easy to find if you want to buy one for your ipad. If you don't have a ipad I found the best way to make a cheat sheet is to write in big, bold black ink, any notations on a large sheet of foldable white paper. Be sure print your notes in big, black bold lettering. Using any other color ink will render your cheat sheets illegible once you find yourself under colored stage lighting. The best place to put any cheat sheets is on the floor directly in front of you. If you're playing a club that provides monitors you can tape them to the front of your monitor to hide them from the crowd, this will not affect the sound from the monitor. Lyrics can be taped on a side fill. Be sure to place them directly in your line of vision so you see them while you're singing. I found that cheat sheets are the absolute best way to defeat any crippling self doubt you have with any song you're not sure on. Be sure not to spill any liquid on them so you can use them for your next gig. The main thing to remember is that if you find yourself looking at your cheat sheets more than the audience you are supposed to be performing for then you are relying on them too much. Clearly, memorizing a song is the best way to go.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Band 101 - Number 5

Band 101 is a blog series that deals with the in's and out's of being a member of a working cover band.

Episode 5 deals with the fine art of improvisation within the fairly strict confines of any cover song. Unless you're going into the studio to record a unique version of a cover song it's best to learn any cover song the proper way before trying to improvise with the chords or the arrangement. Especially if your band plans on performing the song live in front of an audience. Playing any song the proper way gives the audience a chance to recognize the song. If you change the arrangement or decide to get fancy straight away the audience may become disinterested in your band's special version. Once you have the crowd hooked in by playing a song the proper way you can then start improvising or jamming, if that's what your band wishes to do. Playing a song in the proper way will probably be enough to impress of bar full of people. But once you begin improvising or jamming you can then show off your unique talents in an attempt to further impress the crowd. A high energy guitar, bass or drum solo can boost the energy level of any crowded bar room. Once you notice the crowd beginning to lose interest in your jamming, it's best to go back to the original groove and close the song out. Some cover bands choose not to improvise, but once you start learning how to read crowds you can jam out as much as you like. Jamming on a good groove, especially if the girls are dancing out front, can raise up the energy level of any room. The art is knowing when to jam at just the right moments in order to continue holding the crowds undivided attention. All of these jamming judgement calls come with years of experience and a proven set list full of crowd pleasing songs. Jamming gives your bands soloist something to look forward to as well as your loyal following. Once your band earns the reputation of a being a good jamming band chances are your following will be chomping at the bit wondering when your band will cut loose and let some solos fly.

Artvoice Newspaper - Buffalo, NY

 2/19/15: The Artvoice webpage has corrected my pen name on the weblink for my Southern Bastards review to Joe Tell, however the name on the review webpage is still Jack Dumpert. The current issue has the real Jack Dumpert as a reviewer for Fury Max: My War Gone By.

 2/18/15: After a visit to Queen City Bookstore recently it turns out that Jack Dumpert is a real person who will be submitting reviews for Queen City and Artvoice in the future. Since I didn't sign my last review somehow it was assumed that Jack Dumpert submitted it. Needless to say I will be signing all of my future reviews as Joe Tell to avoid any more mixups.

Original post: In the most recent issue of the Artvoice newspaper, the only arts & entertainment paper in town worth picking up to read, my pen name has been changed, once again, this time to another new alias/pen name Jack Dumpert...?
I think it may be interesting to follow my pen names throughout because it may make for some interesting "blogless blog" reading, so here we go,
Once again the newest issue, 2/12 - 2/18 the Southern Bastards graphic novel review by Jack Dumpert.

1/29 - 2/04 issue The Underwater Welder review by Joe Miletto.

1/8 - 1/14 issue Thanos Rising review by Joe Tell.

12/24 - 1/7 The Joker review by Joe Tell.

12/11 - 12/17 Batman '66 review by Joeseph Tell.

Anyway you spell it's still me, Joseph Militello.

My sincere thanks to Emil from Queen City Bookstore and Artvoice newspaper for publishing my reviews, in print and online.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Band 101 - Number 2

This is the second installment of Band 101.
Band 101 deals with issues that may come up within the fragile band dynamic.
These issues usually have a negative impact on the delicate balance that keep a band together.
Band 101 offers sensible solutions to these problems so you can keep the lineup of your working cover band intact in order to continue on and play paying gigs.

If you play in a working cover band in which none of the band members are married and none of the members have any kids then playing during the Holiday season usually isn't a big issue. But if, at least, 1 of your fellow band members is married playing around the holidays can become a problem. It's a good idea to break away from your regular band routine of weekly practice and gigging altogether to avoid any scheduling conflicts during the holidays. If your band wants to gig on New Years Eve it's a really good idea to have at least 1 or 2 reliable fill in players on call in case one your band members can't play because of holiday plans. Usually the single band members have a desire to play on New Years Eve so they can make the money. If you don't have a reliable fill in player turning down a New Years Eve gig may cause the single band members to become resentful because they won't be able to play and make that extra money. On the other hand taking on a New Years Eve gig without a reliable fill-in player can cause the married band member to become disgruntled. Especially if they have to cancel or change any family plans in order to make the gig.
Resentment usually festers within a band and can lead to a member quitting or the band breaking up altogether. This means if you want to continue on as a working band you have to find new members and re-establish your regular band routine all over again.
It's a good idea for any working band to openly discuss the idea of practicing and gigging around the holidays to make sure everyone is on the same page.
If any unforeseen problems or conflicts come up during the discussion then it's best to just take a break from your regular band routine until after the holidays for the good of the entire band.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Band 101 - Number 1

Playing in a band can be difficult at times.
Especially if you want to earn a living playing music.
Band 101 is going to focus primarily on some the trials and tribulations of playing in a working band. By working band I mean a full band that covers other peoples hit songs. Working bands usually play in local bars in an attempt to earn extra money.

The first Band 101 post deals with an issue that you may or may not have dealt with if you play a electric guitar or bass with a guitar strap. The issue is playing unbalanced guitars that are neck heavy. By neck heavy I mean that when you take your fretting hand off of the neck the head-stock and the neck of the guitar point down toward the ground, away from your body. Playing a neck heavy guitar can be a distraction because you always have to hold up the guitar neck while playing notes on the fretboard.
When you purchase a guitar online it may be neck heavy and you won't find out about it until it's delivered to your home and you proceed to put a guitar strap on it. If the neck droops down when you stand up then you have yourself a neck heavy guitar.
If you currently play a neck heavy guitar and you are comfortable with it then you're lucky, I find that a neck heavy guitar can be quite a distraction if you want to concentrate solely on the notes you're trying to play. Neck heavy guitars can also cause a problem if you plan on moving around and performing on a stage. You always have to pay close attention and be aware of the position of the neck so it doesn't hit someone or something onstage.
I recently found a easy solution that doesn't require any expensive mods to your guitar and no monetary investment to fix the problem.
It's a surprisingly simple solution, first take the guitar strap off of your guitar. Thread the lower part of the strap, the part closest to your waist, through a belt loop on your pants. Or you can simply thread the strap between your belt and your jeans. Then reconnect the strap to the guitar. You'll find that this simple solution solves the problem of playing a neck heavy guitar.