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-Bearded Creative Pioneer of the World of Tomorrow-

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bandit Hats, 40% off

Last night, I bought and watched the Fantastic Mr. Fox for the first time. I always check the Rotten Tomatoes reviews, despite my full trust and faith in Wes Anderson, and as I expected the movie received a 93% rating. For the most part, the poor reviews stated how it was too dialogue centered and lacked action. This statement struck me as odd, as it can be pretty much said for any of Wes Anderson's films. Most of the time, it really is a lot of dialogue and character development. There are usually one or two points of big action, but otherwise the plot is moved by words and thoughts. I'll come back to this.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was an amazing flick. First of all, I love stop-motion animation (who doesn't from our generation.) Just seeing some of the characters made me laugh, especially Ash, Mr. Fox's "different" son. The detail on the puppets is pretty remarkable, considering all of the characters are covered in hair. Anderson shot the movie the same way he would any other, for the most part; a lot of facial close-ups. Seeing the tiny faces move with the same expressions that the actors must have had was awesome. So visually this movie is a definite 10. I'd say it outdoes any of Tim Burton's stop-motion movies, and I'm a huge fan of those as well.

Many of the voices are quite recognizable, like George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Jason Schwartzman as Ash, Bill Murray as Badger, and Owen Wilson as the Coach. I was surprised to see Willem Dafoe in there though, as the evil Southern Rat, and Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) as the head human, Franklin Bean. All of the actors did great jobs and it would be hard to replace anyone. Meryl Streep is even in there as Mrs. Fox, and is fabulously underplayed.

The plot is basically this: Mr. Fox used to steal chickens for a living, but now writes a newspaper column because his wife asked him to stop. He moves to a new house and goes back to his old ways. This obviously gets him in trouble. It's a simple story, but the way it's told is what makes it special. The side stories are hilarious and the headers that state where the characters are and what time it is (in fox years) are one of my favorite aspects of the movie.

Now, returning to my first paragraphical idea- the movie being too dialogue centered and lacking action. I've discovered that this is one of things I love about all of Wes Anderson's movies, and I think I know why. Life does not have huge action sequences throughout, we mostly just talk, think, and follow a routine. In that way, his movies are far more believable, despite some of the scenarios being totally bizarre, yet not impossible. I think this is why I connect to these movies so well, you really get to know the characters in a much more intimate way than most other films these days. Yes, movies are supposed to tell an entire story in about 2 hours and need to have action to keep the audience occupied, but that's a rule that I appreciate being broken. Like any story, book, movie or TV, I need to feel a connection with the characters, and that's what Anderson delivers each time. I can't wait for his next film.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Music Sales Down-Because of Economy? Not so much.

Just read an article from about how the music sales in the UK dropped by the lowest amount in 5 years. They are viewing this as positive, but I just think it's kind of funny that we've come to a point where declines are celebrated. Regardless, this information is only for the UK and makes me very curious about the numbers in the United States. For the most part, they claim that it is economically influenced, but I'm thinking otherwise.

Lesser people would blame illegal downloading, but that is not the answer. The long and short of it is that the overall quality of music being produced is not up to par. Commercial radio is terrible, and has been for some time. However, I have found the listenability of it has been worse than ever. My job at the Wilderness allows me to listen to radio for a majority of the day and I can tell you, without a doubt, that the best and most appealing radio stations are those that play older music. My co-worker and I always gravitate to a classic rock station, an oldies station, and the old school hip-hop that is played at lunch time on a pop station. I have tried time and time again to listen to 94.1 WJJO, the Madison based current and new rock station. Each time my ears are subjected to the same sounding highly distorted crap. It's cookie-cutter rock, very formulaic and boring. Every song seems to be about suicidal angst that can only be identified with by teenagers who haven't discovered the joys of alcohol, or by 35+ year olds who enjoy alcohol a little too much. There are very few bands who actually display any above average playing ability (unfortunately it's mostly Disturbed and Slipknot who do,) the others all have the same song format and seem to use the same distortion sounds. It is not pleasant.

All hip-hop/rap is pretty terrible these days, too. It's all about parties, sex, and boats and hoes. Granted, I believe there is always a place for party music. The same goes for rock and roll. Most of Motley Crüe's tunes are about partying, girls, sex, drugs, and shouting at the proverbial devil, and that music is totally acceptable. However, when an entire genre of music, based on social change and innovative, expressive poetry turns into music that is no longer respected and is basically a joke, there's something very, very wrong. It makes me quite sad. (P.S. auto-tune is the worst thing to happen to music since Boy George.)

There seems to have been a pseudo-phenomenon with the band Owl City this past summer. A mostly "indie" band that has become quite large. The synth-pop style of music is one of the few genres that can be picked up by the mainstream crowd, MGMT is another example. It's weird, but it does make me wonder what would happen if the big radio stations picked up the music that is largely limited to college airwaves. This includes metal, rap, rock, and acoustic tom foolery. I'm thinking that things would change for the better by opening a new world of music to the mass public.

Now, I just want to briefly touch on one other thing. The fact that people can buy songs individually and not entire records might something to do with it. Artistically, it ruins the experience of the album, listening straight through from start to finish. For better or for worse, the album is being destroyed. I still believe that a single (and the the 30 second samples) can cause a person to buy an artist's full album, and that's what iTunes may have originally intended, but the music needs to be good for that to happen. Music industry...step it up. End of demo.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

All Up in My Air

Yesterday, Kristen and I rented the movie Up in the Air. I wanted to see it out of pure instinct in the theaters a few months ago, but waited till now. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 90%, so it was a for sure rental. I believe it also won best film or something at ze Oscars. Regardless, it's a movie by Jason Reitman, the same guy that did Juno. The cinematography is brilliant. I simply loved how this movie was shot. The quick, pseudo-montage sequences that move the plot along in a short period of time, but also emphasize the emotions being developed are very well done. The shots from the airplanes are really good too, showing each city they go to.
George Clooney was pretty fantastic. He even narrates- BRILLIANT! The only thing I didn't really believe was that he was supposed to be from Wisconsin, but that's only because I live here, and he has absolutely no remnants of our wonderful accent. Other than that, he was perfect for the role and stepped up to the vast array of emotions that his character exhibited. Vera Farmiga plays his counterpart and complimented Clooney nicely. The Twilight girl, Anna Kendrick, was pretty good, but not as amazing as her co-stars. Plus, her hair invades her forehead like Germans into Poland-makes her look rather Lichenthropish (Werewolf-ish.) I'm not totally convinced she's not related to Eddy Munster.

But here's the thing about Up in the Air: the emotions were all too real. Clooney is basically a man who is hired to fire people around the country. We see about 30 firings over the course of the film and after a while they start to get to you a little. Seeing how afraid people were of being unemployed after years of dedication and service is devastating just to watch. Near the end there is scene where they show people who were fired earlier and how they are going to deal and why life is worth it. One of them uttered a phrase that really got to me, "a light at the end of the tunnel." For whatever reason, this instantly brought a tear to my eye. I guess being recently unemployed and having to deal with the harshness of the job market much more than most of my colleagues has been very hard to deal with, and I have been constantly looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds lame, but the light is very, very dim right now, and I completely identified with those actors on the screen on deeply personal level. In other words, exquisite acting.

Long story short, this movie was excellent and it exceeded my expectations. It deals with things you wouldn't think it would, and is far from predictable. There are few huge moments that are really quite impossible to see coming. I highly recommend this movie, especially if you have felt the pressure of the current job climate or sympathize with those of us who do.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wrath of God

Aside from being one of the most badass Magic cards for a 10 year old to use, the Wrath of God is a hard thing to come by these days. People can always make the argument that natural disasters are God flexing his little wrath filled fingertips, but that would make them supernatural disasters. I do, however, wonder if in 100 or 200 years the last two decades will appear to be a time of catastrophe. Living in the these times, it's very hard to see just how much shit is going on and it's definitely easier to forget things that happened less than a decade ago. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but 9/11 seems like it happened in another life. In ten years time, I'm sure we'll all have a very limited memory of the earthquake in Haiti. I'd be willing to bet that most people will remember seeing the "Text 90999 to donate $10 to help Haiti" during football games and almost every other important show this past Fall and Winter.

Being raised in the Catholic church and having attended parochial school through 8th grade, I am very familiar with the stories in the Bible. From what I can see, God would get much more involved with everything back in the Old Testament days. The big guy would manifest himself as a burning bush, make some tablets, create the arc of the covenant, the whole Sodom and Gomorrah debacle, and fuck up the world with the tower of Babel thing. Oh yeah, and flooding the world and killing all but a handful of people and a metric shit ton of animals. He was a busy bee. But what's he(He if you want to be biblical about it) up to these days? What is God responsible for since the death of the J-man? The Bubonic plague? Mass genocides? Who the hell knows. But one way or the other, the Wrath of God is not what it used to be.

One thing that really boggles my mind is the NASA program. I know there's a lot more going on than I can ever realize, but the space race was huge in the mid to late 20th century. Most of this is probably due to the competition betwixt the US of A and those darn Communists. As sad as it is, war drives things to move faster than it normally would. It creates a sense of urgency. Especially in the Cold War, prestige was possibly the largest weapon (aside from all those nuclear thingys.) It was a contest to which system of government was the best, and every little victory was important. The Miracle on Ice is another example of a point for the United States. But since space is no longer an object of competition, it no longer interests the general public. One would at least think we'd be able to put a man on Mars by now, looking at the exponential leaps that NASA used to take. But no. Oh well, better just give Pluto the big ugly axe so there's one less planet to explore. BOOM.

This is not meant to be a discussion of God, but an observation that nothing really earth shattering has happened for a while and we're about due. Even in music, the most recent thing to shake the music world has been the creation and popularization of Rap, and that started decades ago. Yes, the internet was a big deal, but it seems for the most part that there is more focus on making things smaller and faster (technologically speaking,) rather than create something new. I think everyone was really banking on the Y2K thing to shake things up. Maybe we're all sort of hoping that the Mayans were kind of right with their prediction that the world will end in 2012.

Present day existence is pretty boring, but maybe that's a good thing. However, I know I've said this before, but where the hell is my jet pack?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A sort of obsolete vernacular...

So, when I was walking around by a river that runs through Baraboo, (the Baraboo River coincidently) I chanced upon a lone grave marker. It was about 100 feet from the river and in front of a park bench. My first thought is that some young person drowned near there, or a body was found in the area. However, it was for a 82 year old woman named A.J. I sincerely doubt that an 82 year old woman came to her demise by trying to swim across a small river in Baraboo. The only way that this is possible is if she did a yearly swim from one side to the other as a very odd tradition, and she just couldn't cut it anymore. Unlikely.

For whatever reason, viewing this lady's grave whilst listening to Between the Buried and Me and Faith No More triggered a very queer hypothetical in my mind. If you knew that were going to die, from either disease, decapitation and the eventual gangrene that follows, or a prophetic vision...would you change the music you listened to? For instance, if you were a 75 year old would you maybe start listening to Jay-Z to freak out the kids? Or start listening to more Mozart or Bach, sort of a Mach thing, to appear more intelligent, and have people remember you as a sophisticated fellow/fella. Just something to think about.

2 points to anyone who knows what movie the title of this post is from. 1 more for the character. Huzzah!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things I am Looking Forward to

First and foremost, I cannot wait for the brilliant show Bored to Death to come out on DVD. There are episodes floating around the interweb, but I need to be watching those episodes at least once a day. The premise of the show is that a writer (Jason Schwartzman) is struggling to write his second novel and just got dumped by his girlfriend. He also works as a reporter for Ted Danson's character, a pot loving wealthy magazine owner. But here's the kicker, he moonlights as an unlicensed private detective. Zach Galifianakis plays Schwartzman's best friend, a struggling artist who is also trying to donate sperm to lesbians. The show is smart and hilarious. Thank God it was renewed for a second season.

Second, two other DVD releases I am super pumped for: Modern Family and Community. Both are hilarious shows with brilliant acting. Community has gotten exponentially better with time as well. Most of the episodes are on Hulu, but you don't necessarily need to see it from the beginning to understand what's going on or who people are. Zany (not Billy Zane-y) is probably the best way to describe these two shows, but are both worth some LOL-ing. I really do laugh out loud at these shows. Hilarious.

A few movies I am highly anticipating for their theatrical releases: Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2, The Last Airbender, and Inception. I really hope Kick-Ass rocks my world. It has real potential to be magnificent. Nicholas Cage actually looks like an actor in this movie. His Con-Air days seem to far behind him now(insert terrible accent or mullet joke here). Then again, this could be a huge flop. One of the things that bodes well for the film is that they are using an unknown (at least to me) as the nerdy super hero lead. It would have been easy to cast Michael Cera (overused) or Jesse Eisenberg, but they went a different direction. Iron Man 2? Nuff said- my only hope is that the douche packer Mickey Rourke or the EXTREMELY overrated Scarlett Johansson don't ruin the sequel. Don Cheadle as Rhodey? That's what's up. The Last Airbender seems to be a bit of a departure from M. Night Shalamalama Ding Dong's normal work. I despised his last effort, The Happening. It was straight up poor taste. Anyone who casts Marky Mark is always taking a risk anyways. But The Last Airbender looks promising. Maybe it will be a little more a long the lines of my favorite Shamalama Ding Dong movie, Lady in the Water- fantasy sort of stuff. Let's hope it's awesome, or I may lose faith in that Indian Hitchcock. And finally, Inception. I've been a huge Christopher Nolan fan as of late, what with the Batmen movies and Prestige, and Inception looks like it could be just as thrilling and intriguing. I've also enjoyed Leo DiCaprio in his recent roles. Ellen Page from Juno is interesting, but I have trust Nolan's casting. The trailers look like there will be some epic special effects as well.

I feel as though I'm forgetting a few movies, but this'll do for now. I haven't had the time to listen to Jefferson Airplane yet, but plan on it being up by Wednesday night. Yee-haw!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Weekend Movies

We're going to stray away from my artist evaluation binge for a moment to discuss the movies of the weekend. First, I saw Alice in Wonderland on the big screen today. As a sidenote, I actually held the reels of film for this movie the other day, as they are transported via UPS. That's one semi-interesting thing to come out of that job. Anyways, I was not totally convinced by the trailers and Rotten Tomatoes' review that this would be a good film. Turns out I was completely spot on. My instincts strike again. As per usual, Tim Burton cast two of his favorite actors in some of the leading roles: Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, and Helena Bonham-Carter as the Queen of Hearts. This proves to be one of the many downfalls of this movie. They both come across as completely average. Johnny Depp can't seem to decide if his character is Jack Sparrow with a lisp or a Scotsman. This could be(and probably is) part of what makes the Mad Hatter mad, but it is never made clear. For all we know it could be piss-poor acting. A similar problem occurs with HBC's character. Sometimes her "r"s are Elmer Fudded and sometimes they aren't. I wonder if Tim Burtons affinity for these two has detracted from his ability to direct them. The actress who plays Alice is pretty ok. She has mastered the "I'm British and confused/irritated" look, and it does well here. I'm not sure if another actress could save the role, so nothing to complain about.
All the critics seemed to agree that the visual affects are stunning, but they seem average when the plot is so boring. It seems that people assume that effects are a good substitute for plot these days. Maybe that works for the average joe, but not this guy. The plot is fairly static and there are no big surprises. Even the big reveal is underplayed. The one thing I was thankful for is that Burton did not portray the regular "human" world as gray and boring. This time he made the imaginary world a bit more gray than the outside, a welcome change. He pokes fun at society (or at least 19th century society) but it's nothing out of the ordinary.
Overall, this movie is very average and isn't quite worth missing, but lacks a lot of what we were all hoping for.

As for Zombieland.....BRILLIANT!!!! In my humble opinion, this movie almost outdoes Shaun of the Dead, but not quite. Jesse Eisenburg is a slightly more masculine Michael Cera, awkward, interesting, and an anti-chick magnet. Eisenburg does a great job, he does what he does best. Woody Harrelson has evolved into a semi-great actor since he stopped taking himself seriously. I honestly could not picture anyone else in the role of Tallahassee. He's obsessed with twinkies and brings a realness to the movie, which is surprising and touching when it happens. Bill Murray even has a cameo, as himself. There are fantastic on-running jokes throughout the movie which also bring continuity. Only a few scenes were unnecessary but are a small set-back to the overall effect of the film. As a general rule, I automatically love movies that have a narrator, especially ones throughout the movie. The narration provided by Eisenburg is brilliant. Without it, I fear the movie would have been half as funny. Fortunately though, my rule stays intact. Zombieland is another great horror/comedy. It is definitely on top of my need to buy list.

Monday, March 1, 2010

By the By

I just thought I would post this to add a little non-music talk to my recently music addled blog. There is a blog I follow with Writer's Digest called "Promptly." Basically the guy offers a topic and at the end there is a prompt that all are encouraged to contribute to. Then he usually picks a random entry and that person gets some SWAG. This time it was me. The prompt was to take an existing short story of yours and put a fantastically terrible ending to it, to show how easy it is to derail a good piece. So I dug out a start of a story I had that I couldn't elaborate on at the time and put a terrible ending on it. Here it is if you're interested, BUT I WON!!!....randomly...hahaha. ENJOY! Be sure to check out the Lynyrd Skynyrd evaluation if you missed it!

“You’ve got to help me, Doc. I can’t get those images out of my head. I get anxious just lying down in anticipation of having the Dream. It’s too much for me. I just don’t know what it means. I can’t live like this…I just can’t…”

The Psychiatrist looked in his watery eyes with the intensity only doctors of the mind can. This had been the tenth session in two weeks for the pair and no progress was being made, and the Psychiatrist knew it.

“Explain the Dream to me again, if you would.”

A tear of desperation exited from the Patient’s bloodshot eyes. His hands moved backwards through his greasy and wild hair. Functioning on even the most basic hygienic levels was difficult for him now, and it showed. The Patient’s clothes had not changed from the last four sessions, an old sweater vest over a wrinkled, stained, and faded black shirt, with some increasingly looking worn corduroys. His image exuded that of sympathy and danger, not unlike a friendly looking homeless person. Being a highly successful author of three popular novels, the Patient was far from living on the streets, but you would never know that after seeing his grizzly, unkempt beard that was once a distinguished five o’clock shadow that only handsome actors, successful authors, and Calvin Klein models could pull off. The Dream had consumed his life. All of his writings from the past three months had all been about the Dream, describing it in every use of his extended and vast vocabulary. No deadlines had been met and no work could be done. He had been pushed to his limit, and then a little further.

Speaking slowly, the Patient said, “Doc, you know every inch of this dream…I have described it thoroughly at least twice each time I’ve come to you…You’ve read my writing, you’ve asked me questions…and yet you have nothing…why?”

The once powerful gaze of the Psychiatrist had moved to the floor. He had no clue why this man was afflicted at such a catastrophic level. He’d consulted with other doctors, done over a hundred hours of research, tried unorthodox techniques, but all yielded no results. “Where the hell is Freud when you need him? Would he even be able to help my Patient?” the Psychiatrist thought. Being almost as exhausted as the Patient, he was working tirelessly to help this poor man. How could he turn him away? Everyone had referred the Patient to him, everyone. Beyond flying halfway across the world only to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to another psychiatrist that could be just as clueless as him, he was the Patient’s last hope.

With that, the Psychiatrist excused himself for a moment to retrieve some prescription forms. He thought if my techniques don't work, perhaps some drugs will. He completed a form for an excessive amount of vicodin and returned to the room. Glass was shattered on the floor, along with a trail of blood. The Patient was lying on his desk, eyes flickering in one last attempt to stay conscious. He had broken the Psychiatrist's diploma holder and slit his wrists with the glass. The Psychiatrist stood completely still, eyes wide and mouth agape. The patient slowly propped himself up and mumbled to the Psychiatrist, "You suck."

Leonard Skinerd and Co.

In the words of Dick Van Dyke in Night at the Museum, "Moving on." Indeed we move on from the work of Leo CohenStar to the deep south of the United States of America. Today is the analysis of the Alabama-loving, Stars and Bars toting band Lynyrd Skynrd. Although they will always be associated with some tunes that have dominated the radio waves for over 40 years ("Free Bird and "Sweet Home Alabama"), there is more to those long haired Confederates than meets the eye. And to get this out of the way right now, I will not be discussing "Free Bird" as it is talked about far too much.

I just listened to the first album with one of the most obvious and potentially horrendous or genius album titles ever. I don't know all the shortcuts for it, but it says "pronounced" and then the phonetic spelling of the band name. I'm still torn on what to think of that. It's basically a self titled first album, which is very common and they alleviate any confusion to how to pronounce their name...I'm going to have to go with "pretty damn smart." It's not genius, but it gets the job done. That being said, the album features a six man band (though seven are pictured on the cover-one guy quit then came back, so they had to keep both the replacement and the rehired dude.) Ronnie Van Zant is still alive and singing, but I'd say he is more of an afterthought on this record. The guitar work is what stands out here, as it should when you have THREE guitar players, all of whom take Lead guitar duties at some point. It is definitely an interesting dynamic with three guitar players in a band. Iron Maiden is probably only one of the other famous ones, and they do the power stance whilst pointing their guitars at the crowd in a row, so that's pretty badass. A friend once told me that all three of them once threw their guitars up in the 8-10 feet in the air at the same time and caught them together only to continue rocking upon reception of said axes. I can't be sure if Lynyrd Skynyrd ever did this...
ANYWAYS, each lead guitar part has a signature to it that could not be done by one lead player, and it definitely fills out the sound. Part of this album is straight up riff rock, and kind of heavy at that. The other part is straight up Southern music, mandolins and all. It was not what I was expecting at all. I assumed it'd be mostly jam band South rock, but I was barely accurate. This album was made in 1973 and heavy riff rock had been around for at a couple of years, but they're definitely following suit and adding their own mark to it. In addition, 1973 was the same year that Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon, Elton John with Goodbye Yellow brick Road, and Led Zepplin's Houses of the Holy, arguably some of the most popular records of all time, let alone that year. All things considered, it's pretty admirable that this record was able to break through in a time with such talented artists releasing some of their greatest work. Ipso facto, this is a quality album. I wasn't even sure at the end if I needed to keep listening to more, but for reasons of good form I continue.

Another obvious title for Skynyrd's sophomore album with Second Helping, released only a year later. This band had success with that first bought and ran with it. And this second album is exactly as the title implies, more of the same. Listening to these two albums back to back, it's hard to see where one ends and the other begins. But hey, that's clearly what their fans wanted because this album reached 7 spots higher(12) than their first (19) on the Billboard charts. "Sweet Home Alabama" is the big hit from this record, but it's the first song on it, which kind of taints the rest. (Ronnie Van Zant was born and raised in sweet home Florida, but I guess that didn't sound as good.) The same comments from above work here, guitar work is the most impressive, although the ivory tickler sure tickles some nice ivory at points. There is also some backing brass at some points, which was kind of interesting.

Wikipedia claims that the third and fourth albums were huge let-downs which caused the band to fire the producer of the first two records, Al Kooper. Naturally, I had to take a listen, keep going in chronological order and see why the fans suddenly lost their interest. The third album is 1975's Nuthin' Fancy. Once again, Lynyrd Skynyrd is quite adept at album names, as this album is nothing fancy at all. In fact, it's more of the same thing. Not to say this it sounds bad, at all. In fact, it seems a little bit cleaner and polished, but then again, maybe that's not what their fans wanted. A lot more riff based, almost stoner rock tracks- if Ozzy was born in Florida, I have no doubt he would have fronted this band. Gimme Back My Bullets is the fourth effort by the band, and they finally move away from the album titles that describe their music. But again, Lynyrd Skynyrd does little to move away from their typical sound. Again, not bad at all, but not amazing.

Street Survivors is the last album I acknowledge as true Lynyrd Skynyrd, as three of the core members (and a road crew member) died three days after it's release. After all, the other members post-crash are not inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band. It starts off with their third most popular song "What's Your Name," and it does sound different than the previous 4 albums. The brass return in a big way here and it sounds quite good. In general, the band moves in some new directions, not hugely different but enough to be more interesting and have your ears perk up at a few points. This one is right up their with their first album.

If you don't know the story, the band's plane ran out of fuel and crashed. It is really quite tragic when planes and helicopters take the lives of great rock musicians. Not to put others down, but after hearing the fourth album, it seems like Lynyrd Skyryrd was bound to keep moving up in the world and away from those two big defining songs. So it seems that FM radio has done another number on me. Lynyrd Skynryd is quite good and a clear pioneer in the heavy rock world. They exude great guitar work that a lot of current guitarists could learn a hellofalot from. Ronnie Van Zant seems to have known his place in the band perfectly. He was not the big spectacle, the guitars were, and he knew it. His vocals are in good balance with the dynamic of the group, and that is a quality that is extremely under appreciated. When one looks past those 3 radio hits, Lynyrd Skynyrd is a really good rock band. It's the kind of music that should be played while drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette on the hood of a Chevy in a field.

Again, I have been shown the light and feel kind of sheepish for putting them down, but how was I to know? If this project is illuminating anything past the obvious, (that a band is good or bad) it's showing how much pop/rock radio can create and/or ruin an opinion of a band. This is something I shall try to comment on more in the coming evaluations.

NEXT UP: Jefferson Airplane/Starship (I'm not sure what the difference is...if there is one....YET)