What I’m Enjoying These Days:

I haven’t had a lot of blogging time recently, with a combination of fatherhood, increased workload due to the pandemic, getting back into exercising again, no concerts available and trying to buy fewer CDs just in case… there hasn’t been as much obvious material to cover (New Releases, Concert Reviews etc) or indeed time to cover it in. Before my next review or opinion piece however, I’d like to just drop a quick blog about what I’ve been getting up to since the new year.

I once heard that classical music can make your child smarter, and while scientific studies eventually disproved this, it is still a nice idea. Now, being a dyed in the wool rock fan who hasn’t willingly listened to classical music since a particularly annoying music teacher killed my love of it at age 15/16, I don’t have a lot of classic music to play to my child. What I do have though, is a nice little collection of progressive rock albums with lots of Jazz, Folk and Classical influences. Hey, my username is Kingcrimsonprog after all.

I’ve decided for a) child bonding b) getting my money’s worth from current CDs instead of buying new ones (remember Getting Into What You Paid For, my blog series of that nature from a few years ago?) and c) listening to some beloved records that I’ve been ignoring lately to focus on newer acquisitions, that I would initiate a new family tradition. Prog For The Sprog. I play my child a new prog record every day. So far he’s listened to Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, Jethro Tull, Camel, Caravan, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, Van Der Graaf Generator, early Rush, early Queen and early Marillion.  Out of all of them so far, I think, as far as I can tell with a baby, that he enjoyed Gentle Giant the most… I think the xylophone reminds him of Peppa Pig.

During reacquainting myself with some of my favourite prog (or prog-ish albums, if you want to be strict about some of them) I realised that I had another little nerdy project I could resume…

Several years ago I decided that LastFM, the website which I love for making statistics about what I’m listening to, always makes it look like I don’t listen to these bands as much. I mean, you can listen to about 13 Punk songs for every one prog song. To that end, I decided that a few of my favourite side-long or album-long songs, including ‘Atom Heart Mother’ by Pink Floyd and ‘A Passion Play’ by Jethro Tull, should be counted as several different songs rather than one huge song. That way, If I listen to a whole Prog album, and then a whole Stoner Rock album, it doesn’t look like I listen to the Stoner band 10 times as much as the Prog band. Dorky right? But it made me happy and kept me entertained.

During the lockdown but after work and after the baby is in bed, I’ve decided to expand this. ELP’s ‘Tarkus’ for example, and Caravan’s ‘Nine Feet Underground’ as well as Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ all have parts. The track listing actually lists them with either titled sections (eg. Nine Feet Underground is split into: I. “Nigel Blows a Tune”   II. “Love’s a Friend”  “Make It 76”   IV. “Dance of the Seven Paper Hankies”  V. “Hold Grandad by the Nose”  VI. “Honest I Did!”   VII. “Disassociation”   VIII. “100% Proof,  and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ is split into parts I-X).

So I have decided to do similar things using the magic of iTunes:

So that’s part of how I’ve been spending my time. Another thing I’ve been doing, which is equally dorky, is trying to keep some of my favourite bands higher up in the LastFM stats. For example, I’ve been listening to an absolute boatload of Sepultura recently, but I saw them overtake or threaten to overtake bands I consider absolute favourites that I want to listen to most often. To that end, I’ve started listening to much more of my real favourite bands like Manowar, Pantera C.O.C and Helloween, and doing so a heck of a lot more often again, just like I used to when I first got into them.

Now again, as I have said; this is driven by a very nerdy reason, but in fairness, I benefit completely, as I am listening to only the best music. I had embarassingly put on a lot of weight when my wife was pregnant, but a nice fortnight-long norovirus infection (full on pant-shitting, can’t stomach dinner stuff) that I picked up taking the kid home from nursery one day made me lose some weight again, and so when I recovered I decided to jump back on the exercise train with a long term view of eventually getting back in shape.

Anyway, let me tell you, there is no more fun feeling than working out at home with Pantera or Manowar in your ears, or going for you daily government-permitted exercise and walking in the sun with a fat groovy C.O.C playlist keeping your pace up. It sure beats some obscure D-list band I’m checking out just for educational/historical reasons. Its nice to just crank out your favourites.

With that being said, here’s a brief screengrab of the artists I’ve listened to most since joining the site back in 2011, just after my first decade into being a rock fan:

Prior to cottoning on to the fact that Sepultura were getting very high up my listening charts and then chosing to overplay my favourites in response, I was doing something else equally nerdy anyway.

I had decided before the Slipknot concert that some of the bands included on my Patch Jacket maybe weren’t being listened to as much as others. I started feeling weird about maybe not listening to Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide and Death as much as other bands that made it onto the jacket, and was really heavily playing those bands at the start of year. Usually at night. Going to bed? Spiritual Healing. Bed the next night? Once Upon The Cross. Bed at the weekend? Cause Of Death and Covenant!

I also have an Iced Earth patch. No death metal, but still, although I love their work with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Matt Barlow, I decided that it was weird I hadn’t kept up with their new releases, so decided I needed to get the Stu Block era albums. So the most recent CDs I bought, the only ones I dared to buy during all the Covid stuff (just in case…), was Iced Earth’s Plagues Of Babylon (appros pos these days, given that half the record is a concept piece about mankind being destroyed by a plague) and its follow up, Incorruptible. Damn that Stu can sing! I tried to make the baby listen to Iced Earth too, but clearly they don’t use enough Xylophones. Something to think about for the next album maybe?

Also, since I’m on the subject of what I’ve been listening to lately anyway, and its about a quarter of the way through the year already (I’m only a few weeks early) so this is about a good point to do a LastFM screengrab for this part of the year:

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5 Aftermath:

Well, its been three months of my fifth GITWYPF challenge. In that time, there’s been Christmas, there’s been job changes, there’s been serious vomiting, there’s been a broken computer and there’s been Stewart Lee live in concert.

Temptations have included various comic books and basically every cd ever released.

Now that I’ve made it the three months without a purchase, I’ve allowed myself £20 to spend, (I’m too broke to let it go any further) which I’ve used to pick up some early Manowar albums, as well as some NWOBHM in the form of a Grim Reaper album and some early Def Leppard. I’d pick up some Tygers Of Pan Tang too but its too hard to get. I’d try some Venom but it wasn’t within budget.

Why all the NWOBHM? Well, I’ve been revisiting all my Maiden, Motorhead and Saxon albums constantly for the past week, and I’ve been getting more into the Angel Witch and Diamond Head debuts as a result of that. Its mostly Saxon’s fault, I’ve just been really into them recently, and then the way my mind works it grasps for similar things.

I’ve also been listening to Dio, Dio-era Sabbath, Priest and Accept a lot to cash in on that charming 80s production feeling I’m digging as a result of Saxon. That’s lead me to get Accept’s Russian Roulette too. The reason I first wanted to get into Accept was when I heard “TV War” from Russian Roulette, but I didn’t get around to it until now.

I also picked up a third Stone Temple Pilots album in tribute to all the grunge I was listening too during this challenge. It cost about 10p.

So that’s it. A big ass spending spree (although it cost very little due to the low low price of unwanted CDs nowadays) to balance out the non-spending of the last three months.

To top off the nerdy party my brain is having, I’ll be going to see Corrosion Of Conformity live with Pepper Keenan back in the band next week. This time I won’t miss it even if I am too sick to go. Its COC with Pepper! If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you can imagine it’s a pretty big deal for me! Its up there with Queensryche, Gamma Ray, Rishloo, Protest The Hero and Monster Magnet at the apex of modern Jimmy’s musical world. Sweetened by the rarity of its occurrence, and the stress-relieving timing. Gracias COC. Play some stuff of ‘Volume Dealer even if people whinge about it being commercial please. Seeing ‘Zippo’ live might make me shit myself (in a good way).

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 7: Day 77:

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.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 7: Day 70:

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.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 7: Day 66:

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=”http://www.judgedreddcollection.com/&#8221; 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?

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 8: Day 62:

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. 6: Day 49:

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.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 5: Day 46:

I haven’t been posting a lot recently. That’s due to a mixture of actually being good with my exercise regime and education, and taking time away from nerd-land for trips away with my lovely girlfriend. There’s only so much time in the day, and when I’ve got the time to blog, I usually end up doing something more responsible instead. I’ve got life down at the minute, nailing it. Its good. Unless you’re a fanatic reader of this blog.

The fact that I’ve been quiet is a good sign though. I haven’t broken the challenge and had to write about it, and about how I suck and have no discipline. I’ve been chugging along nicely without buying anything that would qualify in the challenge (food and transport costs are fine, Batman comics and Manowar albums are a no-go).

There have been temptations. Trips to music shops. Flicking through comics in WH Smiths. Looking on Amazon just a few dozen times a day. But nope. I’m being good. Breaking out of habit of giving-in to my every materialistic whim. Sure I’m doing it by enjoying the fruits of previous materialistic indulgences, but, what do you want… I didn’t take a profound religious vow of poverty and abstinence, just a “don’t buy yourself unnecessary media for two months” challenge.

Since Christmas, most of my music habits have been based on mainly listening to my Christmas presents; Slipknot, C.O.C, and Machine Head’s new album especially. When I’m not doing that, I’m listening to my birthday presents from the summer: Manowar, Accept, Judas Priest, Savatage, Hammerfall, Trivium, Sick Of It All and Minor Threat. That; or the fantastic new Rishloo album.

Basically, I’ve trying to cram all of the new stuff from the past year into maximum listening position so as not to let anything fall by unlistened to. I’m trying to stop “not getting my money’s worth” out of albums before it happens. It may make future articles in this series difficult, but its better to enjoy and use the stuff I’ve got, and not have a new generation of Spineshank and Decapitated albums (aka. stuff I never listen to).

Now that Christmas is out of the way, the temptations start coming in again. “Maybe I’ll just buy one more Manowar album” “I’m reading Spawn, maybe I’ll buy the Iced Earth concept album about Spawn” “Why don’t I just complete my Helloween collection?” etc.

Every time I finish a comic book, its straight on ebay to see how much its sequel costs. “Quick, x-out, x-out of the browser, don’t buy anything you fool!”

I even discovered that I bought part 1 and 3 of a single story before Christmas, so now I can’t read it for fear I’ll buy the missing part 2.

I don’t want to buy new stuff though, that’s the point of the challenge. To distract myself from temptations, I enjoy the things I already have.

I’ve decided to dedicate a lot of this week to making good use of my existing collection of Thrash Metal. I was maniacally obsessed with it from sort of 2004-2007. As time has passed though, some of the music I bought at that time gets played more than others, as there’s only so many hours in the day and my purchase-addiction screams “new,new,neeeeeew!” at me all day long.

There’s many ways I could go in the “enjoy existing stuff” theme, like when I would previously dig out an old gem and write about it for a full article, or make up lists and themes about them. No time for that tonight though, so I’m just going to ramble about one subgenre.

There’s some Thrash that I listen to all the time (Belladona-era-Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Annihilator) and there’s some that I listened to a huge amount when I first got it and will happily listen more nowadays if I remember to put it on and am not distracted by shiny new purchases (Forbidden, Nuclear Assault, Overkill, Sacred Reich) and there’s some that I only dust off when I think “hey I’ve not really gotten my money’s worth out of that (Voivod, Vio-lence, Exhorder, Onsalught, early Sodom, early Death Angel, S.O.D).

Yesterday, I broke out the debut Sodom EP… which I almost never listen to due to its ugly production, sloppy playing, simple songwriting and Black Metal fan credibility causing a reverse snobbery effect in me that makes me suspicious of anything cool to Black Metal snobs. I also broke out Slayer’s Haunting The Chapel EP which I never listen to because better Slayer releases exist.

The day before that I made sure to check out all the Bush-era Anthrax albums because I haven’t been listening to them much at all in the last two years. Turns out, they’re still good. Always better than I think they are. Just have to be in the right mood for ‘em is all.

Today, I’ve been just mixing it all up in one huge 6-hour splurge. Mixing in ugly messy Voidvod songs and rumbly brutal Sodom with glorious shiny Anthrax and surprisingly progressive Overkill. Its been fun having the “Raining Blood”s and “One”s and “Peace Sells”s mixed in with obscure Death Angel and Onslaught tracks I only listen to once a year.

Tomorrow, I’m going to listen to more of the modern Thrash albums that I should stop neglecting, like Formation Of Damnation, Annhilator’s self-titled and maybe World Painted Blood.

Another thing that’s great is you normally listen to certain songs more than others. I like Testament, but I’m much more likely to listen to “Disciples of the Watch” and “The Preacher” twice than listen to “Eerie Inhabitants” once. Its nice to break out of the self-imposed accidental censorship of awesome songs I simply forget to put on enough.

Thrash bands had such cool album covers most of the time too. 60s Rock was mostly photography, modern stuff is all digital effects and thoughtful design. In the 80s… it was acceptable to just draw a monster, thug or explosion in a colorful palate and suddenly you had a 12” masterpiece that was somehow completely charming.

Thrash also feels really suitable for exercise. There’s something about the speed and energy that encourages extra effort, that discourages slowing and that stops boredom. Its hard enough to listen to this stuff without bouncing around the room as it is, so marrying it with workouts is a real natural fit.

Ok. Enough rambling.

Reading-wise I’ve been reading The Dark Knight Returns pondering the hidden metaphor behind Bruno’s swastika-themed nipple-tassels and whether they are a commentary on Female Empowerment in the comics industry or something similarly subtextual, or whether Miller just decided Swastika boobs were appropriate for no clear reason.

I’ve also been watching Sons Of Anarchy on Netflix when I have time to spare. Netflix is a great invention. If you don’t have it, I recommend it. It makes me almost want to try Spotify, which is the same principal but for music. I guess I’m too nerdy about music though. That and I never have good enough internet on the move to use streaming services on my phone. I don’t really care about TV much at all in comparison… And you mainly watch it in your house with good internet.

Well; that’s that. It’s a two month challenge. I’m 1.5 months in. No failures. Temptation under control. Entertainment schedule full and enjoyable. Real-life responsibilities under control. Good times.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 4: Day 30:

Yesterday, I posted my Top-50 Most-listened-to-by-me artists of the year. Today, I’ll follow that up with the same thing, but of the last four years. Five years, or ten years would be better but that data is unavailable. Anyway, here goes:

1. Queensrÿche – 3,205
2. Judas Priest – 2,776
3. Helloween – 2,039
4. Arctic Monkeys – 1,876
5. Protest the Hero – 1,845
6. Monster Magnet – 1,776
7. Gamma Ray – 1,776
8. Coheed and Cambria – 1,587
9. Clutch – 1,546
10. Deep Purple – 1,458
11. Motörhead – 1,399
12. Corrosion of Conformity – 1,359
13. Machine Head – 1,266
14. Ozzy Osbourne – 1,224
15. Jethro Tull – 1,224
16. Black Label Society – 1,213
17. Megadeth – 1,189
18. Rishloo – 1,185
19. Bring Me the Horizon – 1,178
20. Five Finger Death Punch – 1,146
21. DevilDriver – 1,134
22. Queen – 1,124
23. Parkway Drive – 1,118
24. Savatage – 1,091
25. Mastodon – 1,045
26. W.A.S.P. – 1,039
27. Iron Maiden – 987
28. Accept – 933
29. Hatebreed – 895
30. Saxon – 862
31. Anthrax – 859
32. Black Sabbath – 838
33. Lamb of God – 802
34. Radiohead – 799
35. Soundgarden – 793
36. Manowar – 789
37. Mötley Crüe – 779
38. Exodus – 776
39. Porcupine Tree – 751
40. Pantera – 740
41. Pearl Jam – 723
42. Marilyn Manson – 721
43. Dream Theater – 721
44. Metallica – 707
45. Architects – 690
46. Trivium – 687
47. Slayer – 681
48. Jimi Hendrix – 680
49. Van Halen – 676
50. Kiss – 652

Naturally, there are some factors to consider. Firstly, the data only starts August 2010. Since then I’ve listened to over a million songs (or listened to songs over a million times, to be more specific). You and I both know however that the time you usually listen to anything the most is when its new or when you’ve just bought it. Therefor bands I’ve gotten into in 2010 or later are unfairly advantaged here. I know for a fact I’ve listened to easily four times that much Pantera, Kiss, Marilyn Manson and Jethro Tull.

Secondly, artists with longer songs are unfairly disadvantaged. I’ve listened to the same number of tracks by Dream Theater and Marilyn Manson here… but that means I’ve listened to Dream Theater for way more time since their songs are so long.

Thirdly, artists with bigger discographies are advantaged. Look how much Queen and Deep Purple I listened to, but those guys have like 20 albums each. You could listen to each of their songs only once and already be in the high triple-digits. Rishloo and Protest The Hero by contrast each only have four albums, so comparatively I’ve listened to those waaaaaay more.

Still; I find these lists very interesting. Sometimes it gets you to listen to things in a different way. This morning for example, I’ve been listening to Iron Maiden all morning because I want to push them over the “1,000” mark, so that I now have a 27th artist with over 1,000 plays. It also lets you see if you’re getting your money’s worth. You buy an album, you can check how much you’re listening to it, and how that compares to everything else. Its good for a supernerd like myself.

Sometimes you’ll find real surprises. Look at my top 20 albums for example:

1. Protest the Hero – 04 Volition – 519
2. Protest the Hero – Kezia – 513
3. Protest the Hero – Scurrilous – 501
4. Queensrÿche – Empire – 493
5. Mastodon – The Hunter – 493
6. Coheed & Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension – 473
7. Rishloo – Feathergun – 437
8. Arctic Monkeys – AM – 429
9. Babyshambles – Sequel To The Prequel – 423
10. Parkway Drive – Deep Blue – 414
11. Gamma Ray – Land Of The Free – 381
12. Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance – 374
13. Bring Me the Horizon – Suicide Season – 372
14. Arctic Monkeys – B Sides – 365
15. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See – 363
16. Trivium – In Waves – 350
17. Motörhead – Ace Of Spades – 348
18. DevilDriver – Beast – 347
19. Rishloo – Eidolon – 345
20. Helloween – Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 2 – 335

Empire? Empire is my most listened to Queensryche album and Mindcrime is less than DevilDriver’s Beast… how in the hell did that happen. I can’t even remember a single song off of Beast but Mindcrime is emblazoned on my soul note-for-note. Babyshambles new album is somehow higher than some of my absolute favourite albums ever? How did that happen? Surprises.

Similarly if we go for top-20 songs:

1. Queensrÿche – Silent Lucidity – 89
2. Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine? – 76
3. Protest the Hero – Mist – 71
4. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman – 70
5. Queensrÿche – Queen of the Reich – 63
6. Protest the Hero – Tandem – 62
7. Protest the Hero – Blindfolds Aside – 61
8. Mastodon – Black Tongue – 61
9. Coheed and Cambria – Goodnight, Fair Lady – 60
10. Arctic Monkeys – Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair – 59
11. Protest the Hero – Sex Tapes – 58
12. Stratovarius – Hunting High and Low – 56
13. Rishloo – Scissorlips – 56
14. Mastodon – Curl of the Burl – 56
15. Protest the Hero – Underbite – 56
16. Protest the Hero – Nautical – 55
17. Protest the Hero – Turn Soonest to the Sea – 55
18. Protest the Hero – No Stars Over Bethlehem – 54
19. Protest the Hero – Heretics & Killers – 53
20. Protest the Hero – C’est la Vie – 53

Silent Fucking Lucidity? How? Don’t get me wrong I love the tune for all its Roger Waters-esque charm, but I can’t remember the last time I even heard it. I feel like I listen to “Revolution Calling” and “NM 156” every bloody day and they’re nowhere near “Silent Lucidity.” “Goodnight, Fair Lady” higher than “Domino The Destitue” ? How in goodness’ name did that happen? Domio was the bloody single! I’m not even sure how “Goodnight, Fair Lady” goes off the top of my head!
“Scisorlips” feels like it should be a lot higher too.

Perception is a very strange thing. I remember (I’ve written this before) how the first time I heard Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes I thought it was a Nu Metal album similar to Spineshank and Ill Nino, when really its a brutal record closer to Chaos AD and heavier than Vulgar Display Of Power.

I remember the first year I owned Mastodon’s Leviathan I thought of it as an Extreme Metal album, I thought of it as a super heavy super abrasive album for Death Metal fans, but now, I don’t see it as all that different than the super accessible commercial cleans of newer Mastodon.

Then there’s misheard lyrics… sometimes you think a band are singing one thing and they aren’t. You think Hetfield says “and a fake apple pie” instead of “and the things that will bite” – the famous joke example, but real life is full of these misheard lyrics… just like when you see your socks on the floor out of the corner of your eye and think they’re a huge spider.

I’ve even heard drumbeats wrong. Most people think John Bonham is playing completely different beats than he really is. A lot of people can’t even figure out what the hell Vinny Paul is playing because his toms sound like kickdrums. Sometimes you listen to Korn and you mistake the bass guitar for the bass drum.

Different people concentrate on different bits of songs. I listen extra to the drums, you may listen extra to the bass, or the keyboards, or the guitars. Especially if you play that instrument. But viewing the song through each of those focuses, makes it sound different. As does listening to it on different EQ settings or different quality audio equipment, or concentrating vs distracted.

I bring all this up because, think of the cumulative effect. Two people could hear the exact same song and hear completely different songs within their mind.

We all listen to this music but are we even hearing what the band think we’re supposed to be hearing, or are we more or less making up our own records just loosely based on what the band are doing to their instruments?

Perception… interesting one.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 3: Day 29 – The Year In Review

So its nearly the end of the year. I’m going to give you a glimpse into how I’ve been spending it musically. The following is a list of the “Top-50 most listened to by me” artists for 2014, as counted by LastFm which tracks all the music I intentionally listen to (so not counting random pop songs in the supermarket, but counting everything I chose to put on):

1. Manowar 789 plays
2. Helloween 778 plays
3. Arctic Monkeys 773 plays
4. Protest The Hero 712 plays
5. Mötley Crüe 655 plays
6. Accept 603 plays
7. Dream Theater 580 plays
8. Paolo Nutini 479 plays
9. Queensrÿche 460 plays
10. The Fratellis 459 plays
11. Motörhead 451 plays
12. Dokken 437 plays
13. Saxon 431 plays
14. Pearl Jam 411 plays
15. Machine Head 399 plays
16. Judas Priest 377 plays
17. HammerFall 356 plays
18. Soundgarden 354 plays
19. Iced Earth 350 plays
20. Megadeth 348 plays
21. Poison 341 plays
22. Gamma Ray 335 plays
23. W.A.S.P. 316 plays
24. TesseracT 311 plays
25. Twisted Sister 308 plays
26. Ozzy Osbourne 306 plays
27. Sick Of It All 300 plays
28. Slipknot 290 plays
29. Bon Iver 286 plays
30. Alice In Chains 284 plays
31. Van Halen 277 plays
32. Babyshambles 273 plays
33. Black Label Society 266 plays
34. Michael Schenker Group 263 plays
35. Savatage 253 plays
36. Periphery 245 plays
37. Iron Maiden 240 plays
38. Pantera 233 plays
39. Slayer 229 plays
40. Monster Magnet 220 plays
40. Anthrax 220 plays
42. Pissing Razors 200 plays
43. Metallica 197 plays
43. Children of Bodom 197 plays
45. Five Finger Death Punch 195 plays
46. Thin Lizzy 185 plays
47. The Libertines 183 plays
48. Rishloo 183 plays
49. Down 180 plays
50. Bon Jovi 171 plays

The real winners here seem to be Power Metal, Prog Metal and good old fashioned Heavy Metal. There’s also a lot of Hair Metal/80s Rock; A bit of Grunge; A bit of Classic Rock and a bit of Indie – which I almost only ever play when I’ve got female company so you can see what a happy year its been.
Also in there is some Metalcore and Djent. A bit of stoner. A surprisingly good showing for the big four of Thrash even though my premium Thrash years were sorta 2003-2008 (so if I had’ve had LastFM back then, the true totals would show and the whole thing’d be maxed out on Thrash).

Surprises: I have to say I had no idea I listened to that much Pissing Razors or Iced Earth – I thought they would both be less than half that amount. I also thought Rishloo would be about double that amount.
I’m not surprised that Pearl Jam were high, but I am surprised how high they are in proportion to the rest of the Grunge bands… I’m sure I’ve listened to way more Silverchair, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains than them, but clearly not, ey?

Top countries here very clearly being the US & UK, with Germany, Canada and Finland very far behind (and no-one else placing at all).

Where the heck is Exodus? I feel like I’ve been listening to bucketfulls of Exodus and they aren’t here… even as Anthrax are and I feel like I’ve been neglecting Anthrax a bit. And how the heck are Testament doing so poorly? I feel as though I’ve listened to more Testament than Hammerfall. I feel like I listened to equal amounts of Madball and Sick Of It All… but that didn’t happen either. And where are Life Of Agony? I feel as though I listen to them every single day so where the heck are they?

Its weird how the brain works, ey?

Also a few other thoughts:
1. Extreme’s Pornograffitti is what would happen if Dream Theater were forced to make Dr. Feelgood. I don’t even just mean that in a thoughtless way and not just superficially. I mean really listen to it and think about what I’m saying and hopefully you’ll see it too.
2. I’m really changeable. I can’t think of a band I’ve ever hated more than Motely Crue and now look how much I like them!
3. Irreplaceable drummers aren’t as irreplaceable as I’ve thought. The new Slipknot drummer sounds like Joey, Fear Factory drummers sound like Raymond. Mike Magini is a great Portnoy replacement. Could Tool carry on without Danney Carey or Mastodon without Brann Dailor? Maybe!
4. Durable earphones are hard to find…. I’ve broken so many damn earphones this year. Upwards of ten pairs!

I haven’t listened to enough new albums this year to put together an AOTY list properly, but with the few albums I have heard I’d put them in roughly the following order:

1. Accept – Blind Rage
2. Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds
3. Slipknot – .5 The Gray Chapter
4. Corrosion Of Conformity – IX
5. Judas Priest – Redeemer Of Souls

However, Rishloo’s new album isn’t in there because its officially released next year (I only got it early by way of Kickstarter benifits), Mastodon aren’t in there because I’ve only streamed it but not bought it (if it was it’d be higher than Priest but lower than C.O.C) and based on their recent form and constant consistency, I’m sure that if I had have bought Gamma Ray, Exodus or Black Label Society’s 2014 albums, they’d be higher than priest too. But I didn’t, so I can’t be sure… maybe they were all disappointments?

Oh yeah, and I haven’t bought anything in the last two days. I’m tempted to go on iTunes and get Motely Crue’s “Primal Scream” but I can live without it for another month. Similarly, I want to check out the bonus tracks for Accept’s Blind Rage and Judas Priest’s Redeemer Of Souls… but, I’m not going to break the challenge over it. The hugest threat to failing the challenge is that I just realized Jetplane Landing (Their “Once Like A Spark” album is one of my favourite albums of all time and completely defined my teen years) reformed and released a new album! How the hell did I miss that… ok, it was last summer so the reason I missed it was because I was at work all the time and then massively sick. Still…. Jetplane Landing are awesome and I’ve been waiting years for a new album… I can’t believe they have one… I simply must own it! So… that is a damn tempting proposition. Its going to be hard not to buy that. I’ll try. But…

The other main “risk” is that I’ve finished my two volumes of Ultimate X-Men Ultimate Collection that my good buddy Paul gave me for Christmas, and they end on a cliffhanger, so I really want to buy the next volume to see the resolution. I’ll hold tight though, and instead read other, different gifts. Such as Gordon Of Gotham.

Oh yeah and speaking of Gotham… have you seen the new TV Show Gotham? Why do they always CGI the sky to be cloudy… it looks so unreal. Just shoot the sky! I get you want to make it feel dark and oppressive, but when it looks so silly, why not ditch it?