Friday, August 26, 2016

Netflix Deep Cuts Part Deux: Five More Shows You Need to Watch

So we’ve already outlined some shows that don’t get nearly as much love or attention as they should.  Netflix has a pretty diverse and deep catalogue so let’s check out five more TV shows that are definitely worthy of your time. 

Revisiting Remakes: Friday the 13th (2009)

I recently rewatched the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th.  It's the impetus for the series of articles that I'm going to affectionately refer to as Revisiting Remakes.  The reason is simple.  I never understood why this particular movie got so much hate from fans of the series.  It's certainly not high art, but when has the Friday the 13th franchise ever been high art?  Never, that's when!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Remaking Hollywood: Why the Hate?

If there's one thing that gets people's blood boiling and the internets all up in a rage, it's the idea that Hollywood is raping their childhood by taking an existing property and remaking it for today's audiences.  While this obviously isn't a new trend, the popularity of remakes (or reboots or re-imaginings) is increasing to ridiculous proportions.  With all the hatred spewed towards these remakes, it begs one question.  Is it really that bad?  The answer is, shockingly, not really.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Netflix Deep Cuts: Five of the Best TV Shows You Need to Watch on Netflix

Disclaimer: To what extent these are “deep cuts” is obviously subjective, but I would say these have been somewhat under the radar compared to the likes of Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, or The Walking Dead.  Look for even deeper recommendations from PopCultureCast in the future (and a movie edition!). 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stranger Things - Calling All '80's Kids

Possible spoilers


Kids not yet old enough to drive going on adventures?  Check.

Supernatural intrigue and creepy settings?  Check.

Mostly oblivious yet loving parents?  Check.

Good guy cop with a checkered past that gets shit done?  Check.

The Darkness / Charlotte, NC / 2004

On the opening date of the 2nd leg of their tour, the Darkness landed at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, NC and rocked the hell out of the place.  The band opened with the instrumental b-side “Bareback” before kicking things in high gear with “Black Shuck.”  They never backed down and simply assaulted the appreciative crowd with non-stop rock.  Occasionally lead singer Justin Hawkins would ditch his guitar and strut around the stage doing his best Freddie Mercury impression.  It’s tough to image, but Hawkins’ vocal histrionics sounded even more powerful live.  He led the crowd better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  Think Paul Stanley from KISS times 2 and you’ve just about got it.

Cheap Trick / Myrtle Beach, SC / April 2004

Whoever said Cheap Trick’s best days are behind them has been grossly misinformed. Sure, they haven’t had a major hit single since 1988’s sub par effort “The Flame,” but Cheap Trick is still without a doubt one of the greatest live bands…ever.

Alice Cooper / Cheap Trick / Atlanta, GA / 08-26-2005

On a mild summer’s night, among the picnic baskets and bottles of wine, Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheatre hosted one of the most anticipated tours of the year; Cheap Trick and Alice Cooper.  Despite the strict decibel levels of the venue and a less than enthusiastic crowd, both bands proved that they can still rock with the best of them.

Green Day / Raleigh, NC / 08-24-2005

Last night, Green Day brought their long running American Idiot tour to Raleigh, NC’s RBC Center.  It was more like a party than a concert.  Singer/guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong commanded the stage and led the crowd through sing along after sing along.  The band seemed more arena rock than punk rock, and that was good.  They used plenty of pyro and Armstrong even ripped out some behind the head guitar solos and played with his teeth.  They gave the large crowd more than a performance, they gave them a show.

Dug Pinnick / Emotional Animal / CD Review

Even without the Poundhound moniker, Dug Pinnick’s new album Emotional Animal has every right to be called Poundhound 3.  Fans of the heavier King’s X material will dig their front man’s latest solo release.  The sludgy bass and super distorted guitars all come together to make a wall of noise that just slams you in the face.  Pinnick has finally released a satisfying solo disc.  With the previous two releases, there were a few gems in the lot, but the production totally killed any enjoyment.  Finally the production has nearly matched the material and you have a perfectly enjoyable album.

Billy Idol / Myrtle Beach, SC / 04-18-2005

On the heels of his first release in over a decade, Billy Idol brought his Devil’s Playground tour to a packed House of Blues.  His 90 plus minute set was filled with all of the standard 80’s MTV hits that you’d expect plus the surprisingly strong new material.  In fact, songs like “Rat Race” and “World Coming Down” stood tall against the classics “Eyes without a Face” and “White Wedding.”

Motley Crue / Greenville, SC / 02-20-2005

The members of Motley Crue don’t try to hide the fact that they dislike each other.  It’s proven by the way they arrive to shows; 4 separate tour buses.  When the four original members announced their reunion tour, the band’s hardcore fans couldn’t wait to see Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx together again.  The question is, was it worth the wait or should it have waited longer?  Both really.

Alice Cooper / Dirty Diamonds / CD Review

New West Records

Let me state for the record that I’ve always been a big fan of Alice Cooper.  But let’s be honest, his recent career has been spotty at best.  While his last album The Eyes of Alice Cooper was a step in the right direction, it contained some of the worst songs of his career.  Fortunately, it also contained some of the best.  Now with the impending release of Dirty Diamonds (August 2), Alice has gone even further backwards while vocally sounding better than ever.  While it’s arguable that he’s merely jumping on the garage rock bandwagon, let’s not forget that it is a wagon he helped master in the first place.

Ben Folds / Greenville, SC / 2005

Ben Folds is easily America’s greatest modern songwriter.  He has a knack for creating characters that are easily relatable to people you know.  With the exception of Atlanta, this Australian by way of North Carolina rarely makes it back to the southeast.  It was this fact that made his Wednesday night performance at Furman University so exciting.  Despite the complete ineptitude of the Timmons Arena staff, Folds brought his first class character studies to life with an excellent backing band featuring Lindsay Jamieson on drums and Jared Reynolds on bass.  Jamieson and Reynolds’ backing vocals were perfect all night.  The harmonies were incredible and the playing was top notch.

Cheap Trick / Myrtle Beach, SC / 12-29-2004

Following a highly successful stint opening for Aerosmith, power pop masters Cheap Trick returned to Myrtle Beach, SC’s House of Blues.  The band last played Myrtle Beach in April.  This proved to be the only problem with this show.  The set list was nearly identical to the set list from eight months ago.  With a back catalogue as stacked and impressive as theirs, the band has no reason why they should do that.

Hot Hot Heat / Charlotte, NC / 07-19-2005

Tuesday night brought three of Warner Brothers Records’ upcoming artists to Amos’ Southend in Charlotte.  Three bands with three distinctive sounds.  The bands on this bill just didn’t fit together.  The Coldplay meets REM sound of openers World Leader Pretend was musically exciting.  When the band let loose and just jammed it was incredible.  However, the audience wasn’t too into the band, and it seemed like the band was just phoning it in.  In fact, the only time the band seemed interested was when they were allowed to let loose.  When singer Keith Ferguson would try to quiet the crowd for a quiet part of the song, the audience basically ignored him and at times the crowd chatter could be heard over the band.  This isn’t to say that the band sounded bad.  They actually sounded better than on their debut album Punches.

Journey / Greenville, SC / 11-10-2005

There’s a reason that a band like Journey can not only survive for 30 years, but also still play arenas.  Simply put, they’re a damn good band.  Going in, I honestly expected a limp going through the motions schmaltz fest.  However, I was wrong.  The guys in Journey decided to shake up the set list and dig deep into their catalog to unearth even some pre Steve Perry tracks.  Midway through the show the band performed the bluesy “I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Mystery Mountain.”  Guitarist wiz Neal Schon tore through solo after blistering solo the entire night seemingly demanding recognition as one of rock’s elite guitar players.  He even led the crowd through an amazing take on “The Star Spangled Banner” that had the audience placing hands over hearts and basking in the red white and blue stage lights.

KISS / Rock the Nation / DVD Review

Just in time for the Christmas shopping season, the band known just as much for their marketing as their music is back with a new 2 disc DVD set.  KISS – Rock the Nation Live is one of the best live KISS DVDs out there.  Unlike most of their other home video releases, Rock the Nation Live is an (almost) complete KISS concert.  Some of the between song banter has been cut, but the majority of it is there.  We even get Paul Stanley’s incredibly moving speech denouncing terrorism and his impassioned proclamations that the United States is the greatest country ever.  Of course, what really stands out on this collection is the song selection.  Lost gems like “Got to Choose,” “Tears are Falling,” “Makin’ Love,” and “Love Her All I Can” are all performed in addition to the tried and true.  Interspersed throughout the concert are backstage moments that let you see what its like off the stage.  It’s great to see the band briefly trying to run through “The Oath” and “Mr. Speed” at sound check.

Jerry Gaskill / Come Somewhere / CD Review

Few drummers have ever managed to break out of the mold of their band and release a vital solo album.  It’s even harder when you’re the drummer in one of the most influential bands of the last 20 years.  Jerry Gaskill has been in the shadows while King’s X front man Doug Pinnick and Ty Tabor have taken the spotlight by releasing multiple solo offerings.  Come Somewhere is a solid pop album that at times sounds very much like Gaskill’s band.  Most of the time however, the album is rooted in the acoustic pop arena.  Overall, the album is more in line with Tabor’s solo efforts.  In fact, Tabor’s sound is all over the album; from the fuzzed out guitar tone he uses in King’s X to the vocal effects and production.

KanYe West / Columbia, SC / 11-10-2004

When Kanye West first released The College Dropout, and I saw the video for “Through the Wire,” something about it just stayed with me.  It’s hard to explain.  I thought it was nice to hear a song and see a video chronicling a struggle to overcome surgery and get signed to Roc-a-Fella Records.  Something as introspective as this from a Hip-Hop artist usually comes later in their career when such a thing is “safer.”  Kanye West had an immediate fan base because with that first glimpse he became instantly relatable to so many people.

King's X / Live All Over The Place / CD Review

For years, fans of the hard rock Texas trio, King’s X, have been clamoring for a live album.  Until now, the band has been unable to release one.  “There were lots of legal reasons why we haven’t put one out until now,” states guitarist Ty Tabor.  The stars must have aligned because not only is a live one on the shelves, it’s a double disc set.  The songs were recorded at various shows over the last ten years but leans towards material from the newest albums Black Like Sunday and Manic Moonlight.  Sadly, there’s no mention of songs from the self titled King’s X album or Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous, but fan favorites “Dogman,” “Goldilox” and “Summerland” are all included.

Trans Siberian Orchestra / Columbia, SC / 11-21-2004

Is there any better way to usher in the holiday season or celebrate Jesus’ birth than with lasers, fog machines and about 30 of the best musicians around?  For the second straight year, Trans-Siberian Orchestra brought its unique blend of progressive rock, string quartets and operas singers to Columbia’s Township Auditorium.  This time it was to celebrate the release of their latest album The Lost Christmas Eve, which is the third release in the band’s holiday trilogy.  TSO is possibly the only act that can pull off having two completely different touring bands on the road at the same time.  The “East” band made an appearance in Columbia and was anchored by TSO co-founder Robert Kinkle, guitarist Christopher Caffery and Mark Wood directing the local string section.

The Darkness / One Way Ticket To Hell / CD Review

Britain’s favorite catsuit wearing, Thin Lizzy loving Lowestoft boys are back.  The Darkness have returned with their 2nd release, One Way Ticket to Hell…And Back.  Expectations were high following up the band’s breakthrough Permission To Land.  How does a band react?  Simply, by creating “the finest rock album of the past twenty years.”  At least, that’s what the press release states.  Employing super producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Who, Bowie, the Rolling Stones), the band has managed to make a less obviously humorous album that expands their sound past the simple cock rock of their debut.  Now, the band is more Sweet than Guns ‘n’ Roses.

KISS Coffeehouse Grand Opening / Myrtle Beach, SC / 06-27-2006

Where would you expect to find such a gaudy monument to consumerism? Las Vegas? Nope. Times Square? Try again. The first ever KISS Coffeee House is located in my native South Carolina at Myrtle Beach’s Broadway at the Beach. Myrtle Beach is one of the southeast’s fastest growing tourist destinations due to its miles of sandy beaches and family friendly nature. Broadway at the Beach is a large, almost sprawling, conglomerate of up scale shops, clubs, and eating establishments. Many of the businesses there are meant to be garish and touristy, but the KISS Coffee House takes the cake. Even though the store front stands out above all others the inside is small and intimate. At first I thought this would be a problem, but, in all actuality, this is not a museum. It’s not a KISS bar or club. It’s not even a KISS restaurant. It’s a KISS Coffee House, and the location is perfect for popping in to get a Frozen Rockuccino and continuing to walk around and enjoy the other shops, after looking at all the cool stuff on the walls anyway.

KISS / Charlotte, NC / 07-28-2004

For the 2nd time since the band’s farewell tour in 2000, KISS returned to Charlotte with a different line-up. Along with the departure of original drummer Peter Criss, the band dropped many of the staples of past tours and included rarely heard gems in their place. Gone were such tracks as “Calling Dr. Love,” “God of Thunder” and thankfully “Cold Gin.” Instead, the band delved deeper into their vast back catalogue dusting off tracks that haven’t been played live regularly in 25 years. The addition of these songs and the arrival of former/current drummer Eric Singer provided a much needed energy boost to a band that’s been playing the same songs for the last 8 years.

Alice Cooper / Myrtle Beach, SC / 09-17-2007

On an off night from his opening slot on the Heaven and Hell tour, Alice Cooper brought his full set of theatrics to the intimate confines of Myrtle Beach’s House of Blues. Billed as “An Evening With Alice Cooper,” the master of shock rock promptly started at 8:00 and led his band of ringers through an hour and forty minute set that was filled with the classic rock radio staples that made him famous in the 70’s. Appearing in silloutte behind a huge curtain in a spotlight, the trademark outline of Cooper in tophat with a cane was visible to the rowdy crowd. Moments later, the real Cooper comes out and kills the imposter who lies on the stage through the first 5 songs before being hauled off on a stretcher by evil henchmen. Despite the opening, the show was mostly devoid of theatrics until the final act. Granted, you don’t need the theatrics when you come out with the combined punch of “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Under My Wheels,” “I’m Eighteen” and “Is It My Body.” Even the newer tracks from Cooper’s most recent disc Dirty Diamonds fit right in with the classics.

Blue Man Group / Greenville, SC / 04-17-07

As the crowd gradually poured into the Bi-Lo Center nearly filling up the arena I began feeling surprised that an act like this would have this much appeal in a medium sized city in the south. As the show got going it became easier and easier to understand why.

David Bowie / Atlanta, GA / 05-08-2004

What’s there to say about David Bowie that hasn’t been said hundreds of times before? David Bowie’s A Reality Tour stop in Atlanta’s Chastain Park was nothing like his last two visits to the peach state. Gone was the edgy/artsy character of the Outside and Earthling tours. In its place was a rather friendly, almost safe persona. Which was better? Neither really.

Britney Spears / Columbia, SC / 03-24-2004

Britney Spear’s Onyx Hotel has an hourly rate. At least that’s the kind of image that the pop darling is trying to portray. Obviously trying to outgrow her teen pop days, Spears brought her “more adult” performance to Columbia’s new Colonial Center. The show started with a ringmaster, looking like a cross between Boy George and Batman’s nemesis The Penguin,. welcoming everyone to the hotel. Someone please explain to me why a hotel would have a ringmaster. He would pop up between songs and try to pump up the crowd or be funny. He failed at everything he attempted. He was just annoying and unnecessary.

Cowboy Mouth / Columbia, SC / 12-05-2003

“We may not be the most famous band in the world, but we are the best band” proclaimed Cowboy Mouth frontman/drummer Fred LeBlanc. He was right. For 90 minutes, Cowboy Mouth was the only band that mattered. Their hi octane performance was led by LeBlanc who often brought the songs down to a vamp in order to whip the crowd into a frenzy with his Jack Black like love of “the rock.” The usually stale Columbia audience let loose and were jumping up and down with fists raised into the air. There was even crowd surfing. That is, until said surfer crashed right into LeBlanc’s drum kit. The band stopped playing “Everybody Loves Jill” and jokingly talked trash to the kid before launching right back in and finishing without really missing a step.

Def Leppard / Journey / Columbia, SC / 11-02-2006

Judging by the crowd at Columbia’s Colonial Center, it’s hard to belive it’s 2006. It’s amazing that the Journey/Def Leppard paring would be one of the top concerts of ’06. It’s incredible that it was almost a capacity crowd. Who would have thought it? Despite all of this, the two bands put on incredible sets of classic material that had the audience going crazy from beginning to end.

Dolly Parton / Greenville, SC / 10-14-2004

Dolly Parton opened her first major tour in 20 years at the Bi Lo Center in Greenville, SC. Parton’s performance was more of a Vegas production than a country show. She opened with “Hello, I’m Dolly” dressed in a white Capri jump suit which she frequently added pieces onto so she wouldn’t have to go off stage for concert changes. She then blasted through “Two Doors Down” and a medley of her hits “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That,” “Jolene,” “Here You Come Again” and “9 to 5” accompanied by fingernail tapping percussion.

King's X / Charlotte, NC / 10-01-2004

King’s X has constantly been one of those bands that have flown under the radar. They’ve influenced countless bands that have achieved massive success. However, they’ve never really achieved the commercial success that they deserve. After signing to Metal Blade records in 1998, the band has been on what seems like a never ending tour. It’s good to see that even after all that touring, they still love to play together.

Motley Crue / Columbia, SC / 02-12-2006

What a difference a year makes. The last time I saw Motley Crue was a couple of dates into their reunion tour. The band was rusty, really rusty. They didn’t play together, and in one case, a song broke down and had to be restarted. Also, their well documented hatred for one another was evident from the beginning. That wasn’t the case Sunday night at Columbia’s Colonial Center. The Crue was on fire. The setlist was almost identical to last year’s show, but this time the band didn’t let up.

Muse / Charlotte, NC / 08-12-2005

I was lucky enough to attend the double bill of Razorlight and Muse on April 12 in Halton Arena on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This show was presented by MTV U as part of their “Campus Invasion” series. My first exposure to Muse was one of their videos on MTV2. I remember my first thought being, “does Radiohead have a new video out?” I love Radiohead. I listened to OK Computer for two days and went out and bought everything they had done to date. Muse is better than Radiohead (based on what I experienced last night). It’s okay. Let that sink in.

Muse / My Chemical Romance / Charlotte, NC / 04-26-2007

Muse is currently opening for My Chemical Romance’s “Black Parade” tour. I really can’t complain much about this bill as they are two great live acts. With that said, no one has any business limiting a Muse set to 45 minutes. Having seen Muse in a headlining position, seeing them for such a short time is a bit of a let down because they are so good you just want them to keep playing. This would be relevant even if they played for three hours.

Prince / Columbia, SC / 04-21-2004 Concert Review

The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince’s show at the Colonial Center in Columbia, SC on April 21st was both frustrating and completely awesome. In a David Bowie like move, Prince announced that his Musicology tour would be the last time to hear his previous hits live. It was promoted that the hits would be played in their entirety. Unfortunately this proved untrue. After being wheeled to the cross shaped stage in a road case, Prince ascended in the middle of the stage to crank out a pumped up version of the title track of his new album. Then the hits started. Well, kind of anyway. The purple one decided to do a medley of half of his 1984 mega album Purple Rain. The problem with this show was that the hits were almost all cut short.

Poison / RATT / Myrtle Beach, SC / 07-03-2007 Concert Review

I’m not sure if Doc Brown and his flying DeLorean dropped me off outside the House of Blues or not, but it certainly felt as if I’d travelled back to 1986 to witness two of hair metal’s biggest bands. While their glory days may be far behind them, there’s no denying the appeal that Ratt and Poison have to a whole generation of fans and then some.

Richie Havens / York, SC / 02-25-2004 Concert Review

Richie Havens is a legend. He’s also one of the most down to earth people you’d ever see. His calm reassuring speaking voice giving words of hope is perfectly juxtaposed with his soulful singing about civil liberties and “Lives in the Balance.” Set in the intimate confines of the beautiful Sylvia Theater, Haven’s performance was a remarkable triumph of songwriting and audience interaction. His dynamic performance was much like an episode of the VH-1’s Storytellers series. Havens told hilarious stories of his friends from back in Greenwich Village and Muscle Beach before kicking into the accompanying songs. Backed only by guitarist Walter Parks, Havens needed no one else. He kept time with his foot banging on the stage while playing rhythm guitar ferociously.

Rick Springfield / Myrtle Beach, SC / 07-09-2004 Concert Review

There’s a lot more to Rick Springfield than “Jessie’s Girl” and “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” He’s a performer that truly knows how to work an audience. A lot of people dismiss him as an 80s icon living on past glories. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, 1/3 of his live show was devoted to material from his new album, shockdenialangeracceptance.

Stephen Pearcy / Columbia, SC / 12-18-2003 Concert Review

What do you get when you cross a 1980s hair metal icon, massive promotion and an audience of less than 30 people? Surprisingly, you get a solid rock show that very few care about. Stephen Pearcy, the original lead singer for 80s metal band Ratt, rocked through a set heavily comprised of the hits his former band made famous. After all, according to Pearcy, “I wrote ’em, might as well play ’em.” The band kicked things off with 1984’s “Wanted Man” and had the very small crowd singing along to every word. Contrary to previous reviews, Pearcy didn’t display any of the rock star attitude that he’s been known for. In fact, he seemed humble and genuinely happy to be playing.

Styx / Myrtle Beach, SC / 05-18-2005 Concert Review

Pioneer ’80s rockers Styx recently (May 18) played the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC. I went to the show basically with the state of mind: “what the hell, I don’t have anything better to do.” Needless to say I’m glad I went. With two intact founders, Tommy Shaw and James Young, Styx absolutely rocked. 

Whitesnake / Myrtle Beach, SC / 08-09-2005 Concert Review

On August 9, 2005 I was very priviledged to attend Whitesnake: The Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues Show presented by VH1 Classic. The show was held at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Frontman David Coverdale considers the multi-platinum selling Whitesnake “…my most acknowledged public identity…”, but Coverdale has truly been around the block as the former frontman of Deep Purple as well as going platinum with a collaboration with the legendary Jimmy Page.

Willie Nelson / Columbia, SC / 02-22-2006 Concert Review

Willie Nelson is an American institution. With his relentless touring schedule, he’s one of the hardest working musicians out there. However, when he’s on stage, it looks like there’s no place he’d rather be. He treated the sold out Columbia crowd to a night that had everyone in the crowd moving together. From 14 year old kids to 80 year old ladies, everyone was dancing in the aisle. The rednecks mingled with the trendy hipsters. Nelson is proof positive that music is the great leveler.

Alice Cooper / Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper / DVD Review

Shout Factory

One can only imagine just how the hell this film came into being. Sure, Alice Cooper was one of the biggest bands in the world during his 1973 Billion Dollar Babies tour, but does that means he needs his own theatrical release? As a film, this project is sorely lacking. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is the actual concert footage. Thankfully, Shout! Factory noticed this and allowed for the option to watch only the Concert footage.

Alice Cooper / Live at Montreux / DVD Review

Eagle Rock Entertainment

If there’s one thing in rock that you can always count on, it’s that Alice Cooper will give you a great show. Oddly enough, this DVD comes from the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The swords, crutches, dancers, guillotine, top hats and canes are all here. Taken from his 2005 Dirty Diamonds tour, Cooper takes a rocking trip through the demented and perverse.

Billy Idol / Devil's Playground / CD Review

Sanctuary Records

When Sanctuary Records signed Billy Idol, the only request they had was for him to produce a “great Billy Idol album.” The 49 year old Brit passed the test with flying colors. Collaborating again with producer Keith Forsey and guitarist wizard Steve Stevens, Devil’s Playground is every bit as strong as his massive hit records from the ‘80’s. While lead off single “Scream” sounds like a modern interpretation of Idol’s hit “Rebel Yell,” the slightly Alice Cooper sounding “World Comin’ Down” has an opening guitar riff that is every bit as instantly recognizable as the main riff from “Dancin’ With Myself.”

David Bowie / A Reality Tour / DVD Review


First there was Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture. In the 80’s, there was Serious Moonlight. Now Columbia Music Video has released the latest and best David Bowie concert on DVD. This complete show, filmed in Dublin in November 2003 is presented in widescreen format with a beautiful 5.1 surround sound mix. 

Buckcherry / Buckcherry / CD Review

Universal Records

All it takes for a label to rerelease a debut album is a current hit single. As such, that’s exactly what Universal has done with Buckcherry’s self titled debut. Thanks to the success of 15‘s “Crazy Bitch,” we now have a two disc set of the band’s sleazy cock rock debut.

Cheap Trick / Rockford / CD Review

Big 3 Records

America’s most underrated power popsters are back! Cheap Trick has been on a creative high with their last few releases. The band’s self titled 1997 release was arguably their greatest, while 2003’s Special One was a very solid album. Rockford backs away from the harder rocking production and showcases the band’s more melodic side. That’s not to say that the album is full of ballads. Instead, the crunchiness is toned down a bit and the harmonies are pushed up front.

Various Artists / Crunk Hits / CD Review

TVT Records

The liner notes to Crunk Hits reads like a who’s who of modern hip hop music. Tracks from Usher, the Ying Yang Twins, Lil’ John, Nelly, Trick Daddy, Juvenile, Khia and so many more pack this all star disc. This compilation could just as easily been named Now That’s What I Call Crunk Vol. 1. It represents the last few years in rap radio quite nicely. From Lil’ John’s “Get Low” To Chingy’s “Right Thurr,” everything is included. This disc highlights why this subgenre of rap is so popular right now. These guys (and gals) have fun. It’s like an adrenaline rush on disc. The only thing really missing from this album is any of the tracks from the Ying Yang Twins latest album U.S.A. Surely “Wait (The Whisper Song)” was considered for inclusion.

Eminem / Encore / CD Review

Shady / Interscope

Eminem’s Encore (Shady/Interscope) is an album that I want to hate but can’t. Songs like “Evil Deeds,” “Yellow Brick Road” and “Like Toy Soldiers” stand as some of the best pissed off biographic tracks of his career. Unfortunately, the album sinks into juvenile humor and fart jokes. 

Gabby La La / Be Careful What You Wish For / CD Review

Prawn Song Records

Are you sick and tired of the predictability of the radio these days? Do you wish for something far more exciting and interesting? Well, as Gabby La La warns on the title track of her debut album, “Be Careful What You Wish For ‘Cause it Might Come True.” This album is just about the polar opposite of predictability. The Gabby La La disc is the most intriguing album in quite a while. 

The Jelly Jam / 2 / CD Review

InsideOut Music

What do you get when you chop off one of a Platypus’ legs? You get Jelly Jam, of course. With the departure of Dream Theatre keyboardist Derek Sherinian, Ty Tabor (of King’s X), John Myung (of Dream Theatre) and Rod Morgenstein (of Dixie Dreggs) decided to continue their side project by simply renaming it The Jelly Jam. However, there’s far less jamming in the current band than in the former band. In fact, the album is pretty much a straight up rock record with little prog noodling. 2 is more in line with Ty Tabor’s solo albums than any of his side project records of the past.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts / Sinner / CD Review

Blackhearts Records

It’s been quite a while since Joan Jett last released a full length CD. The wait has been worth it. She’s taken tracks from her Japanese release Naked and expanded it to present Sinner. The trademark energy and snarl are all here. She’s managed to create an album that sounds classic and stands up to her past glories.

Johnny Cash / American V: A Hundred Highways / CD Review

American/Lost Highway

Since forming an alliance with producer Rick Rubin, Cash’s American series have stood up to the legacy of his past. The latest, American V: A Hundred Highways is no exception. The themes are the same: love, loss, God and death. What makes it different is the fact that Cash not only recognized his mortality but seems to have made peace with it. While at times, this disc can be hard to swallow because of the subject matter and his faltering voice, there is always the silver lining of his faith taking him to meet his wife again. The formula and result is the same, Cash takes songs from other writers and makes them his own.

King's X / Ogre Tones / CD Review

InsideOut Music

King’s X is at it again. Late September marks the release of the band’s 13th album, Ogre Tones. The album is no better or worse than the band’s last few efforts. The album kicks of with a screaming “Alone” before going into a Summerland-esque “Stay.” What’s striking about this release is that guitarist extraordinaire Ty Tabor rarely solos. When he does, it’s just simple droning notes or very short passages. This is most evident on the 7 minute track “Sooner or Later.” As a fellow writer so astutely pointed out to me, this song is basically a less interesting “The Burning Down.” The end of the song provides an excellent pad to straight out jam on. Instead, it doesn’t really do anything.

King's X / XV / CD Review

InsideOut Music

When hard rocking Texas trio King’s X release an album, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. While it may be a little different than last time, you’re still going to get a hard rocking, groove oriented disc with a few ballads tossed in for good measure. Their latest release XV is no exception to the niche the band has carved for themselves. While constantly being ignored by the general public, King’s X has somehow managed to stay true to themselves and satisfy their hardcore fans who flock to see them in concert. With producer Michael Wagner back at the helm, XV sees a better production than the band’s stint on the Metal Blade label.