Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 7: Day 80:

Posted: February 19, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Well I haven’t broken my challenge in the last few days because I’ve been aggressively puking my guts up. Its one of those lame 24 hour vomit bugs, that are really annoying for you but not actually problematic enough that you can complain about. Some people have real problems.

It is annoying however because I had tickets to see Black Label Society tonight, but found out that I had to be at work tomorrow (get up at 4am, get there at 7am, work for 13 hours, get home at 9pm). I’m too sick to go to the concert, but not sick enough to miss work. Also I’m totally broke and it stings that the £20 for the tickets is essentially thrown down the toilet…. And the toilet is covered in puke.

But oh well, I know its not very rock n roll but it makes sense to be responsible and just give this one a miss… even if next time BLS show up on tour it’ll be for an acoustic set I’m not interested in.

C’est la vie.

Its been a total of 77 days since I started this fifth volume of GITWYPF, and this round as you know is an extended challenge, not one month long, but three. That’s a quarter of a year! I’ve came close to breaking a few times along the way but as of yet I still haven’t caved.

Maybe I could just pick up a Molly Hatchet boxset here? Maybe one Batman wouldn’t hurt?
No… kapow, biff bam wallop, get back evil thoughts, don’t show your face round here no more!

So, another week since I last checked in and no slip ups. I have been happily listening away to all of my gifts from the last 12 months, such as Slipknot, Machine Head, Mastodon, Corrosion Of Conformity, Mushroomhead, Trivium, Judas Priest and Down’s newest studio output. I’ve also been breaking out more Grunge and Glam in my themed listening weeks.

For some reason I’ve also been listening to a lot of ZZ Top. Not exactly Grunge or Glam, but who cares when you’ve got songs like “Heard It On The X” to jam to? That’s also got me to break out some Foghat. I bought 5-album-boxsets from both of those bands and didn’t really fall in love with them right away. Now though, I’m getting more into them.

That’s pretty much it music-wise. What about other forms of media entertainment?

I’ve finally finished watching all of Gilmore Girls (no more Sebastian Bach acting as essentially himself!). I’m still cracking away at Ultimate Spiderman whenever there’s free time and, best of all, I went to go see Stewart Lee live.

Stewart Lee was playing my city, on a tour called Room With A Stew, which he said will appear on tv this winter. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was better than any of his live DVDs and better than practically every episode of Comedy Vehicle. It was indescribably good. Laughing till your face actually hurts (not hyperbole, real muscular pain), sitting with a huge grin all day, impressively clever and well researched good.… it was one of the best comedy sets I’ve ever seen or heard live or recorded. I don’t feel qualified or able to adequately review it (something he joked about in the set), so just accept that gushing above as a positive review. Oh and go see him live if you can! He’s crazily good.

Otherwise its back to work. Getting up at 4am. Getting soaked to my skin on the way to the too far away bus stop. All that good stuff. Seems like a bummer, but it really isn’t with Manowar blasting in your earphones.

February is a short month; so the challenge’s end is in sight. There’s only about twelve days left, and for most of that time I’ll be at work, asleep, or on one glorious night seeing Black Label Society live… so I feel fairly confident that I won’t break my challenge, and will emerge victorious at the end of it having gone the full three months without buying stuff. That’s what makes me not a teenager anymore. Its not the fact that my age hasn’t been in the teens for more than half a decade, it’s the fact that I can physically stop myself spending money on entertainment products.

‘Till next time.

Seventy long days. Its been 70 long days since I started this extended challenge. I’ve came close to breaking a few times this week, hopping on Amazon just to see how much they’re selling whatever record takes my whim at that moment (Why is Superfuzz Bigmuff by Mudhoney never going for £3 used like every other Grunge album ever?) or eBay to see if anyone’s selling whatever comic book I thought of at any given moment (why is no one selling Batman:Officer Down or Batman:War Drums?).

I haven’t broke though. I’ve got the hang of this. I think the perfect storm of Uni deadlines, postgraduate job searches, starting a new job and refocused efforts on physical fitness are putting entertainment towards the back of my mind more than usual. That and I’ve been merrily ploughing through Ultimate Spiderman (I’m past The Clone Saga now!) and its been so long and persistent that it takes up the majority of the free entertainment time left.

The week of Grunge continues, with me breaking out the Alice In Chains acoustic stuff, demos and B Sides. I’ve also added in a whole bunch of Hair Metal.

After watching Sebastian Bach acting in Gilmore Girls, it made me break out Skid Row. That made me break out Poison. That made me break out Dokken. That made me break out WASP, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister. That made me break out Guns N Roses. I know you could argue about genre with each of them, but they’re stuck together in my mind and one follows the other. Its been a fun cheesy week. Its nice to listen to Grunge and Glam at the same time. They compliment each-other. When one gets to cheesy, the other makes things feel more refined. When one gets to mopey, the other makes things feel more fun. Balance between the two makes for good listening.

Anyway; Since I seem to have made this a bit of a recurring theme as of late, I thought I’d post another one. I sometimes like to reorder albums which I do not feel flow perfectly. I have a few preferences for how albums should flow.

One is the arch, which is that you start and end soft, with the hardest part in the center. You can substitute the word “hard” for anything, be it “fast,” “heavy,” “commercial,” “memorable,” whatever… just a peak in the middle, and a warm up and cool down either side.

The other is the mountain climber. This is that you start off at lowest intensity and end at highest intensity. Calm to hectic. Soft to Heavy. Slow to Fast.

My favorite form, by far, however is the landslide. This is where you front-load an album with all the punchiest, most direct and easily enjoyable tracks first, and collect all the most similar tracks together. If its an ’80s album, you start off with the album highlight first and follow it up with all the songs that sound like Speed Metal, and then end it on the ballad, with any slow tracks after the speed and before the ballad.  It feels like skiing downhill. It makes your brain appreciate the more thoughtful stuff after its got its fill of easy pleasures.

That’s how I’ve reordered Twisted Sister’s You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll. Anything that sounds like Judas Priest towards the front, anything that sounds like Kiss towards the back. It really makes the (already good) album seem somehow so much better for me.

Its 59 days into the GITWYPF challenge. You know the rules by now. For a designated time period, (which was a month on early volumes, but has now became two months, and could become three months at any stage), I will try not to buy myself anything unnecessary or materialistic or to do with my hobbies. I can buy food, survival supplies, school supplies etc. I can’t buy comics, videogames, movies or most importantly music. That’s the real challenge. I made myself almost hopelessly fond of acquiring new possessions when I had a good job and no responsibilities and now its time to break the habit.

So far so good. 66 days, no slip-ups.

Temptations-wise, my friend Paul is more or less pointing an armed gun at me and demanding I buy <a href=”; target=”pop”> this Judge Dredd comic collection for £2</a>, so that’s pretty tempting.

Otherwise there’s just been little things. For example, if I’m listening to Soundgarden, I’ll briefly want their new album. It passes. I’ve been restraining myself fine with no trouble.

There’s not much else to say really. I’ve got it covered so far. I reckon I can make it to the end of the month purchase-free unless the Dredd thing becomes too irresistible… but I’ve had nothing but negative experiences with Dredd in everything but the PS2 Game and the Karl Urban film (both brilliant). The 8 Complete Case Files books I have so far a pretty poor compared to any Batman, Spiderman or X-Men book I’ve read (or Spawn, or Watchmen). The Dredd/Batman crossover collection book is pretty awful for my tastes. So yeah. I dunno, I think I’ll manage skipping it.

So. Last time, I was talking about a week of grunge. That’s been going ok so far. I’ve only got a small Grunge collection. I have at least four releases by Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Silverchair, as well as two by Stone Temple Pilots. I’ve previously had a lend of Blind Mellon stuff too but I don’t have that anymore (and don’t remember it being any good anyway).

I’ve discovered that Silverchair’s Diorama album is not as terrible as I’ve thought it was for about a decade. “Too Much Of Not Enough” and “One Way Mule” are bad ass, and the first few songs have a sort of whimsical Trick Of The Tail era Genesis vibe that I can appreciate now, but understand why I hated it so much back when I first got the album.

I’ve also rearranged Neon Ballroom so it flows better:

I remember initially getting the album and only liking “Anthem For The Year 2000″ and thinking the rest was hard to focus on, wussy ballady crap (I was about 12 years old don’t forget). Now I can see it for what a good album it is and pay enough attention to it to actually enjoy it, but even so, this little rearrangement makes it flow better.

I’ve also rearranged Soundgarden’s Fopp EP so that the remix of Fopp isn’t stupidly straight after the original (who wants to listen to the exact same song two times in a row when its in the middle of a series of different songs. It just doesn’t work).

I’ve also found that Alice In Chains’ self-titled tripod-dog album is a bit less overbearing when its shuffled in with other stuff. Nothing wrong with any track on it, so if I hear it all but with some Pearl Jam and Nirvana breaking it up, its fine. All at once, it seems a bit too much.

Oh yeah, and you know what? I just remembered what an amazing song Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right” is! I used to absolutely love that song, man. And its kind of like I’ve more or less forgotten it exists these past four or five years. Its coming well back into regular rotation! Hearing it now and how good it is, I feel stupid for forgetting it.

Its nice to be over my Grunge Phobia. After I got sick of Nirvana due to overexposure in my peer group at about age 14/15, I began to really dislike Grunge and would hate it when anything sounded grungey. I’d flick away from any Grunge video when watching music TV and turn off the radio when Grunge would come on. I’d scowl at it like a macho beer-drinking Thrasher would scowl at Hair Metal in the 80s. I’d do all that, even when I was really digging on Pearl Jam albums the whole time and making an exception for no obvious reason. Heck; I even played in a Grunge band for a year and thought they were good guys and playing drums is fun but I’d go home and listen to anything other than Grunge.

Listening to it now, I don’t know why it used to annoy me so much. It made my brain go “yuck” like elderly women’s would listening to Cannibal Corpse. Now it doesn’t. I’m not sure why? Exposure probably. I kind of think the more you listen to anything, the more you like it (up to a certain point).

What are you guy’s thoughts on Grunge?

No worthwhile updates this time around. Still got a broken computer, still haven’t broken the challenge. Currently listening to the newest C.O.C, Mastodon, Slipknot and Machine Head albums on repeat.
Instead of the week of Thrash, I’m going for a more Grunge themed week now. I’ve actually broken out Nirvana’s Nevermind. I haven’t listened to it in about two years, which was the first time in about two years then, which was the first time since I listened to it regularly in about 2002 before getting a huge mental block about the band some time in about 2003 and basically half-hating them for almost a decade. I’ve cracked out In Utero and Bleach too, which I’ve been much kinder to over the years (I’ve written about Bleach at a minimum in one of these articles, and maybe more). They are a good band once you remove all the teenage baggage. Same with Slipknot really. Sometimes listening to them reminds me of being 14 years old, which isn’t always as fun as it should be. It just reminds you of being in school and talking to people about Nirvana for 6 hours a day, and trying to learn Nirvana songs on drums, and going to pubs and seeing 50 other teenagers cover Nirvana songs. There’s a line in Trainspotting about how Frank Begbie hates being reminded of being in School because he hadn’t yet cultivated his psychopath reputation and doesn’t like being reminded of being weak and laughed at. Sometimes I don’t like being reminded of how arogant I was as a teenager. I remember saying to someone ‘You listen to Tool? I didn’t think you were smart enough!” right to their face. It didn’t come across as politely and impressed as it did in my head. Basically I meant, “I’m too stupid to listen to Tool because the music is so complicated, I’m surprised you, my equal, are smart enough simply because the task seems so difficult and not because of any deficiency of yours” but it sounded like “I’m smarter than you, dickhead!”

Yeah. Nirvana reminds me of schoolbuses and school uniforms and not getting laid and being a rubbish musician. Sometimes its hard to forget all that and just hear songs. I remember long arguments about how sloppy Nirvana were, before I knew or understood what Punk attitude and playing styles were. I remember being frustrated that their fanbase was so large in proportion to their musical abilities and effort in concert. I remember being angry that people would listen to Nirvana on the radio and like the song, but then scream “grunger” at me and my peers with the same venom that the word “wanker” would merit.

But listening to Nevermind last night, some 13 years later… it was interesting what a fun, interesting, well-written and dynamic record it is. How it might actually in some way merit its praises and reputation. How all the feelings about it that I have are through the hyper sensitive prism of a tween douchebag with no life experience. If any of this happened now, there’d be nowhere near as much drama and import placed upon it. Its all this weird bottled up teenager whinge-factor that doesn’t exist anymore. As a full-grown adult its interesting to discover how much kiddie-resentment still has to be flushed out of my system.

I think I might make it a bit of a mission to listen to Nirvana a lot until they’re just a band, and the memories I associate them are of happiness, success, adulthood, love, and good times. Could be interesting to rebrand them as the band of my late-20s instead of the band of my early-teens. It would be good to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and not cringe over some half-formed, incorrectly remembered, tween grudge from a person who hadn’t yet developed. I don’t want them to be the band I cracked my first beer to, I want them to be the band I started my career to. That might be cool.

Or I could just go listen to the new Machine Head album again instead… y’know, whatever, nevermind.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 7: Day 59:

Posted: January 28, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Its 59 days into the GITWYPF challenge. You know the rules by now. For a designated time period, (which was a month on early volumes, but has now became two months, and could become three months at any stage), I will try not to buy myself anything unnecessary or materialistic or to do with my hobbies. I can buy food, survival supplies, school supplies etc. I can’t buy comics, videogames, movies or most importantly music. That’s the real challenge. I made myself almost hopelessly fond of acquiring new possessions when I had a good job and no responsibilities and now its time to break the habit.

So far so good. 59 days, no slip-ups. I haven’t bought any new CDs, or DVDs or whatever.
There have been temptations. There have been stresses which would normally lead me into my old patterns of buying stuff to de-stress. So far though, doing well. Which is lucky, because…

Well. If you’ll remember the reason I do these challenges is not only to teach myself discipline and restraint and to become less consumerist. Its also increasingly because I’m broke.  So… early in the week I bought my lovely girlfriend some flowers, but do not own a vase, and was foolish enough to store tall full-length flowers in a mug, balanced against my tv, on the same desk as the computer where I do all my university work on.

You can imagine, as even I could, looking at this stupid choice and thinking “that’s totally going to fall down and spill on my computer” what happened was that gravity took the flowers, who’s stems flipped the mug, the water from which poured into the computer, which is now broken, and I’ve been told the price of repair (its currently in the repair shop, and the price ‘aint pretty).

So yeah. The repair price is so bad, I’ve come to the decision to just get a whole new computer, despite being too poor to buy CDs on a semi regular basis. I’d just sod the whole thing off, but University in 2015 is so un-doable without a personally-owned computer that its not worth trying unless you have no choice.

Anyway, I’m a clumsy idiot. Also I just cost myself a few hundred bucks. So. You better believe the GITWYPF challenge is getting longer. It’ll be three months now. So no purchases December, January or February. At the very least.

There’s stuff I might’ve bought. Marilyn Manson has a new album. Not for me he doesn’t. I’ll deal with that next year. I’ve been very happy this year disengaging from getting new things when they’re new, and getting them later. As with Slipknot, Machine Head and Judas Priest, all of their most recent albums I left a good few months before getting (and even then only as gifts).

Speaking of gifts, my very excellent brother showed up in the wake of the computer water fiasco, to assess the damage, and bought me Mastodon’s new album as a gift. I’d seen them live on the tour for this, and previously been an incredible Mastodon fanboy (seriously, look at any photo of me from 2005-2010 and chances are I’m wearing a Mastodon t-shirt) but somehow had not got their new album yet, due to my new disengagement policy, coupled with a few negative reviews, and my initial unimpressed impression of the album when they streamed it around the time of release.

Having now been gifted the new album and listened to it repeatedly, I can say I’m quite fond of it now. Although, I think it doesn’t flow the best. Its time for my old trait “custom track orders” !

I’ve done it to Dream Theater’s Awake, to Motley Crue’s Theater Of Pain, Gamma Ray’s To The Metal and many more. I’ve now done it to Mastodon’s “Once More Round The Sun.” If you play the songs in this order, the album flows so much better and all of the songs somehow seem better themselves in context:

In non music realms, I’m reading Ultimate Spiderman, currently on book 9 of about 25. It is superb and I can’t think of a stronger or more consistent series that’s more immune to all the flaws in most comics.

I’ve also played about 12 hours of Darksiders 2, a videogame I received as a gift a year ago but have only now managed to open, and I’ve been incredibly entertained by it so far. Its very different from the first entry in the series, less God Of War and more Dragon Age, but I’ll write more about it if I ever get the time to play it. A rare break in my work schedule, lining up nicely with me being off Uni for the first three weeks of January, coupled with me already being hugely ahead in my work allowed me to get in there, but that’s all gone now, and the free time I get can be better spent elsewhere.

Elsewhere being the fitness thing. I’ve been back to healthy living this month, its been getting better and better, and easier and easier. I’ve started using Fitday again and its done such good for my physical and mental health that I can’t belive I ever let myself stop it (I got talked out’ve using it two years ago by an ex-girlfriend and friend combo who mistook my own interest in weightloss as both an insult to them somehow, as well as a mental health problem for me, presumably having seen half of an after-school-special about body dysmorphia and missing all of the key information). The past is the past, and I’m using it again now. I feel healthy and vital and more full of energy and enthusiasm than I have in a while. Its lead to better workouts a more active general lifestyle and general improvements in mood, outlook and overall satisfaction with life. The nutritional aspect of it is what interests me the most. Its good to know I need more spinach or that I can’t have one more piece of bread that day, or whatever. Actually seeing and thinking about food in a mindful way is incredibly helpful to me and my individual personality, and I’m glad to be back to it (and don’t intend to stop anytime soon).

Yeah, that’s a bit wanky and hippyish for most of you who read this to know what I think about the new Batman book or Slayer album, but whatever…. its distracting me from buying the new batman book and Slayer album which is the point of this particular sub-series.

OK. What have I covered, comics? Spiderman. Tv? no. But it’s Gilmore Girls. Music? Oh yeah… the week of Thrash turned into two weeks. I’ve been listening to all my ’80s Thrash that I was so massively obsessed with in my teens (not in the 80s though, sorry I’m too young for that folks), on shuffle a heck of a lot. If I need to read something, a Thrash playlist goes on shuffle in the background. I then hear some Voivod, Sodom, Megadeth, Vio-lence, Forbidden, Testament and Heathen while I read. Good times.

I’ve also been listening to the recent records by Thrash bands too, to stretch it out. Does Forbidden’s Omega Wave still sound ok? How good is Christ Illusion? Do I like Death Magnetic? Is Phantom Antichrist or Formation Of Damnation better than the band’s classic 80s output?

Yes, but it could do with a few faster songs. Very good. Yes, but the production’s weird. Actually, yes!
…and as a bonus point, all of the Rob Dukes era Exodus albums are fantastic too!

Ok. Till next time. Wish me luck not to spill anything on this borrowed laptop.

Hey, just another short one here. I could stay here and type a massive in-depth exploration of some obscure Drowning Pool album or memory (I remember I saw them live before Dave died, and I saw “Reminded” live and thought the chorus said “We’re going to amuse you” instead of “Reminded of you, ooo” with the “ooo” being just reverb – there, there’s a quick one), or I could walk to Asda (Wallmart, for the non-British readers) in this current flurry of snow (Its snowing, should I listen to Immortal?) to buy healthfoods instead.
What’s that? Why yes, I AM putting my shoes on!

Anyway…Temptations wise, its nothing that exciting or pressing today. Just the usual completionist “you have one part of this so get it all” urge, applying to Batman and Spawn comics. I can ride it out no problem. Sure, I’d like to own every one ever made, but I’d also not like to live on the street with only comic books as shelter.

An unusual or surprise thing however, is I’ve got a massive urge to buy Rancid, Offspring and miscellaneous other Pop Punk albums that I wanted in my early early teens but didn’t allow myself for some bizarre reason of wanting to be cool (even though way more people listened to Pop Punk than Napalm Death, but teenage minds are stupid.). I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls a lot recently and there’s always Rancid posters and stuff like that on the wall, and it reminded me of all this suppressed want for Pop Punk and how I’d watch P-Rock TV all the time for the year or so it was in operation. I mean, there’s no reason I can’t listen to both Napalm Death AND Pennywise, is there? I mean, I’ve already had every Green Day album in my collection before anything else, and I have side-tangents into Indie via The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, so why exactly would owning an Offspring record be so embarrassing? It wouldn’t and stop living your life by bizarre rules you thought you overheard as an eleven-year-old kid!

Not that I’m going to give-in now. Don’t forget its still a GITWYPF challenge month, fool! Also, I’m super poor at the minute and work only covers the bills, so I’m tempted to add an extra month to the challenge because, realistically I couldn’t afford to buy the extra crap anyway. I mean, I’m not going to be pan-handling anytime soon don’t worry, I’m just choosing to spend my money on healthy food and other sensible things. I’ve decided I’d rather have fruit and veg than CDs… tell that to the fat 14 year old version of myself! Veg? Are you kidding me, you could buy Napalm Death’s “Mass Appeal Madness” CD Single instead…. For NO GOOD FUCKING REASON!

Sometimes, I look back at some of the stupid purchases (like a CD single with no worthwhile bonus tracks), or mistake purchases (Like buying two copies of something by clicking the wrong button), or irresponsible purchases (like adding extra drums, cymbals, skins and drum-microphones to my drum kit only one year before I’d move cities and never get to use a fucking drum kit again for three years)… and think, why didn’t I keep that money? I could’ve kept that and spent it on nappies for my future baby (“diapers” if you’re American/Canadian).

Other times I think, wasn’t it ok to spend it on things that you enjoyed at the time. Not every single penny (“cent”) has to a long term investment towards your as yet unborn family or pension, especially when you are a teen. I mean, its not as if I’m going to buy a giant drumkit now, and it entertained me greatly at the time. So… I’m not going to hell for shortchanging a baby that might never exist?

Yes… I probably should see a shrink! Hey, normal people, do you have these thoughts all the time too? Is YOUR mind a series of debates between fictional disapproving superiors with different agendas?

Anyway; Thrash. I was talking about Thrash last time.

The week of Thrash approach has been a mixed success. I’ve listened to some live Annihilator and Testament concerts that I’ve been ignoring as of late. I’ve listened to Slayer and Kreator’s most recent albums, and I’ve had a playlist of all my 80s Thrash studio albums on shuffle, but with all the normal Heavy Metal like Dio and Saxon and Priest in there too for variety, but the shuffle ended up being 90% non-Thrash by coincidence.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of C.O.C as I’m excited for them playing in my city in a few months with Pepper back in the group. So, that’s a departure from Thrash. But… come on, I’ve loved this band for years now. It was around the time I was reviewing all their albums that I started this blog in the first place, and they are one of the bands I’ve listen to the most in the last five years.

Also, I decided I hadn’t really been getting my money’s worth from Alice In Chains, and have been targeting the Sap and Jar Of Flies EPs for some listening time. I got them for the birthday before I went to University, about a month before I also got into Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots (like Pop Punk, Grunge was an embarrassing thing to get into back then, despite all of my friends liking those bands and also me owning every Pearl Jam and Nirvana album…. Yes, teenage me was a bit of an idiot!).

Anyway, I’ve listened to something like double the amount of Soundgarden as I have Alice In Chains. So… a little redressing of the balance is in order, especially since Alice In Chains had a headstart. I think its because the EPs are all acoustic and stripped down. Those songs are fine on an album, but I want some heavy stuff too. I want “Would?” and “We Die Young” in there too. That said, I think “No Excuses” from the acoustic Jar Of Flies EP is probably my favourite AIC song. Awesome drum beat!

Plans for the next week? More Thrash. I’m not going to try exclusively Thrash, but certainly more of it. Also more listening to things I don’t listen to enough. Maybe I’ll break out Living Colour’s album. Maybe I’ll break out some Nu Metal like Ill Nino… I got their debut when it was brand new, but man, I have never ever, evvvvver felt like I listened to it enough to justify that money.

I’ll keep you updated.
I don’t know why I will, but I will. You can get your restraining orders ready folks.