The new year is here and doesn't it feel good ladies & gentlemen!!
I tell ya, 2017 could not end fast enough for my family and me. Those of you who follow my exploits on these (electronic) pages may have wondered what the reason was for my extended absence - well I'm here to tell you. Unfortunately last October we suffered a house fire and lost pretty much everything. Oh, all of our family members were safe - three out of four of us were gone at the time and the fourth did a phenomenal job of getting help quickly. We unfortunately lost our cats (RIP Max and Stella) to smoke inhalation. Most of the damage was smoke related - only two rooms in our finished basement were lost to fire - but I will say that smoke damage is even worse than fire damage, if only for the fact that you feel like you can save things by cleaning them. You can, but it is a lot of work. This type of smoke is more like everything you own is doused in grease and soot, not just a light coating of ash or dust. Due to poor insurance choices, we were left with coverage only on our structure, not the contents. We saved most of our clothing and books, records and cds, and my wife's sewing fabric. Most of the big furniture is lost as well as the electronics. Electronics that could be saved will be relegated to the garage, since the smoke smell gets into the guts of the equipment and won't let go. Once our house is finished being rebuilt, we will have the best garage sound system on the block!!
As I type this, our house is in the beginning stages of remodeling - it was taken down to the studs and new insulation and siding is being installed. A new roof is coming as well. Once all is said and done, we will have a brand new house to go back to. We can't wait but have a few more months to go. Luckily we were able to rent the house across the street so we can watch the progress daily. I need to take this time to thank all of our family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers who helped us with our time of need - their generosity was unbelievable and we will always be grateful to those that helped.
Whew! Life altering events at the end of the year that understandably kept me from keeping up with all of the music releases for those few months. Those of you that heard me on the podcast know that I still came up with a FOTY list. Thanks again to Joel, Shane and Karl for allowing me to be a part of the broadcast and force my musical opinions on you!
All that being said, I am currently catching up on some of my backlog. I have really been digging the newest album by Bully titled Losing. It was released last October on Sub Pop and sonically it is a throwback to the heyday of grunge music. However, where this Nashville band detours is on the lyrics, which are much more personal than what you heard on songs by Soundgarden or Nirvana. There are no "Black Hole Suns" or "planting of houses and building of trees" here. Front woman Alicia Bognanno bares her soul on these lyrics, making for a much more satisfying listen. She has some resemblance to Hole's Courtney Love when it comes to her vocal sounds, but it's used in a good way on this record. She also served as producer and engineer for the record, as she spent time learning the trade under the tutelage of one Steve Albini. However, as opposed to the dry sound that Albini often uses on his records, Alicia's style allows for a richer, fuller sound. If you are a fan of grunge or even just melodic, heavy rock, you will enjoy Losing.
(Bully will be playing at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee Sunday Jan 28th. Tickets are sold out, but yours truly has some, so look for a review of the show on the ABOG Discord app shortly thereafter.)
I've also spent some time with the Slipknot Day of the Gusano live record. Not much to be said about Slipknot - if you like them you'll love this record. If you don't, this one won't change your mind. I personally think it sounds much better than the earlier live record they did. Another record to check out if you like Dream Theater and other prog metal bands is the debut album by Sons of Apollo Psychotic Symphony. A supergroup of sorts featuring Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, Billy Sheehan and Jeff Scott Soto, this one really features the musical chops that these guys are known for without sacrificing the songs.
Lots to look forward to this year - new Fu Manchu record is out next month (which I've already pre-ordered, thank you very much) along with upcoming releases by Ty Segal, Calexico, Superchunk, and I believe it's already out but Mudhoney has new record as well. And that's just the first few months! Also just announced is Slayer's farewell tour, so tickets will be needed for that as well. I already can't keep up!
Well, that's all for now. Look for more album reviews and other oddball ramblings in the coming months....