RECORD STORE TALES
RSTs Mk II: GETTING MORE TALE
Music, Movies, and more
RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#322: Highway to Hell
The big peave that I have today in my current work is my daily commute. It’s not far at all (I can do it in 10 minutes if there’s no traffic) but it can be hairy. To understand this, you would have to see the poor planning that went into the roads in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, otherwise known as the tri-cities area.
To get from work (in Cambridge) to home (in Kitchener), there are only a handful of good routes. The trick is getting across the Grand River, and there are only three nearby bridges to access. One of them is Highway 8 into town (two lanes each way but expanding), which is always in a state of construction. Another is the King St. bridge (one lane each way) and another is Fairway Road (a bit too far out of my way). Any accidents can cause jams on any of these routes, but the worst location is what I call the “sweet spot”:
The “sweet spot” is on Highway 401, between Hespeler Road and Highway 8 into Kitchener. An accident there at the right time of day (3-4 o’clock) will tie up traffic going into town on any of my routes. Prior to the opening of the Fairway Road bridge, accidents there have delayed me by almost two hours (on a normally 10-15 minute drive). Add in winter weather conditions for part of the year and you’re in for a real good time.
There are accidents on my 10-15 minute drive home nearly every day. Once a month there will be an accident in the dreaded “sweet spot” causing major delays. Last week there were two in a row! On those days, all I can do is study the traffic map, select a route and hope for the best!
When I first started this commute, all I had was a single disc CD player in my car. Each day I’d pick an album to listen to. I only had room for one or two CDs in the car at a time. Length didn’t matter; a Van Halen album would be perfectly fine for my commute on a good day. On a bad day however, you can count on running out of music and having to start over! Fortunately I have since switched to a couple 8 gig flash drives, avoiding traffic tie-up repeats.
On the bright side, a “sweet spot” traffic tie-up informed my review of Sloan’s The Double Cross (which I got to hear twice in one drive), during my drive home.
Other commuting misadventures that I witness on my way home, on a daily basis:
1. Motorcycle idiots passing between two cars. On the highway. Last seen on Friday last week.
2. People passing on the shoulder of the 401.
3. Being cut off in traffic, daily.
4. Idiots on cell phones.
5. Somebody in a Dodge Ram weaving in and out of traffic, trying to make it further along than anyone else, only to get stuck behind a transport truck.
These stories are not so unique. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you witness these same things too. As I progress into the RST Mk II’s, I intend to vent about traffic again in the future. (In fact, I’d like to buy a dash-cam. The video gold I could produce every day would provide endless blog fodder.)
Fortunately, music does soothe the savage beast. Rather, technology does. Back in Record Store Part 16: Travelling Man, I stated “when you’re stuck in traffic on the 403, in a torrential downpour, listening to Winger, it still sucks pretty much as bad as it would if you weren’t listening to Winger.” What has changed since then? Well, I’m not driving that far for one. GPS and Bluetooth have reduced the stress greatly. Having 16 gig of albums in the car is also better than five cassette tapes.
What’s your favourite album for being stuck in traffic? Take it from me: Sloan’s Double Cross works really well!
I didn’t want to post ANYTHING about this subject until confirmed by the band. Now AC/DC have confirmed that Malcolm Young (61) is suffering from dementia. Dementia is a horrible illness, without a cure, and all we can really do is pray (if you so choose) and support the Young family.
AC/DC is continuing on with Uncle Mal and Ang’s nephew Stevie Young, who previously filled in for Mal on the 1988 Blow Up Your Video tour. The new album, Rock or Bust, is out December 1.
AVRIL LAVIGNE – Under My Skin (2004 Arista)
Let’s get on with it. The version of Under My Skin that I have comprises 13 songs, so let’s put the headphones on. “Take Me Away” opens strongly with sparse, polished guitars and keyboards. It sounds like Evanescence, actually. It was written by Avril and her guitarist Evan Taubenfeld. At this point, Avril wasn’t singing with any annoying contrivances in her voice. She was just blasting away (most likely in autotune). Given that this song is very produced and plasticized, it’s still a good song. So far we’re 1/1.
One of several hit singles was the ballady “Don’t Tell Me”. This one makes me want to vomit in my mouth a little bit. I’m uncomfortable with this kind of teenybop rock now. But that fucking chorus hits and…ahh fuck! Still, the chorus can’t save the song, it’s shite. 2/3.
Avril returns to her so-called punk roots with “He Wasn’t”. Phil X on guitar here, but he doesn’t get to solo (a damn shame). As much as I want to hate the song, I can’t. It seems pretty sincere, and it ain’t bad. It’s snarky but not annoyingly so. 3/4 now. “How Does It Feel” is a ballad, not a bad one either. The instrumental production on this one (by Raine Maida) is excellent, although the vocals still sound autotuned. Phil X again on guitar. The score is now 4/5.
I’m a total sucker for the single “My Happy Ending”. Butch Walker wrote a pretty cool song, and the chorus is one of those Avril bellows that she is known for. The lyrics, like most of ‘em, are about some dude. I can’t really sing along to “He was everything, everything that I wanted,” sincerely, you know? Still, the score is now 5/6. And it’s going to go up to 6/7, because I remember liking the song “Nobody’s Home” a lot. I’m not sure what the lyrics are exactly about, but Avril sounds like she’s trying to get serious, so that’s better than words about some dude. Ben Moody from Evanescence itself co-wrote this one, so you can guess who it naturally reminds me of. Still, I’ll maintain that 6/7 because the chorus is still great.
“Forgotten” starts out crap. You sure can tell this one was written by Chantal Kreviazuk as that is who it sounds like. The track doesn’t improve on the chorus. Pass. The board reads 6/8. A good song called “Who Knows” is up next, and even though it wasn’t one of the single, I think it’s one of the best songs. This one kind of sounds like a pop metal anthem, you could imagine a band like Warrant having a song like this. It has mellow acoustic verses with a shout-y fun singalong chorus. 7/9 now! “Fall To Pieces”, written with Raine Maida sounds like an Our Lady Peace outtake. A pretty good outtake, with a great bridge. Good enough for 8/10.
I have always liked “Freak Out”. It’s just fun. This one too sounds like a Raine Maida construction, but it is not. It’s written by Butch Walker and Avril’s drummer Matt Brann. It’s easier to listen to than most Our Lady Pea(ee-yai-ee-aye-ee)ce, so the score is now 9/11. As my buddy Craig might say, it’s looking like it’s time to hand in my Man Card.
Maybe not! “Slipped Away” is utter shite that I cannot listen to. It sounds like Chantal…guess who wrote it? The chorus is not too bad, but this song is crap. Can’t take it. If I could deduct 2 points, I would. 9/12. It’s down to the “bonus track” now. “I Always Get What I Want” originally came from a UK edition, but I bought this CD from my nearest Walmart. There’s something on the fine print about Sony BMG Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd, so maybe that’s something to do with it. “I Always Get What I Want” is another “punky” Avril, but like “Slipped Away”, it too is crap. Sounds like Avril’s trying to be her heroes, Green Day. No thank you.
The final score for Avril Lavigne’s Under My Skin is 9/13. Did I like it as much now as I did in 2004? Not quite. It might have been that I liked a couple more of those sappy songs. However, I’ve already said far too much here. I’m going to cut my losses and get out now.
Welcome to the first of my new continuing series; the “Post-Record Store Tales” I’ve been talking about. Here are the RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale. Featuring my Simon Pegg action figure as the new “Mini-LeBrain”! Title suggested by Aaron!
To quote David St. Hubbins, “Hope you like our new direction!”
RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#321: That Crush on Avril
One of those lingering points left after the conclusion of Record Store Tales was this: my unexplained, unusually large Avril Lavigne CD collection. This is that tale.
When Avril’s first album arrived in 2002, I was encouraged to listen to it by a new hire at the Record Store. “I hear that this album has some of the best pop songwriting that has come out in years,” he said. “From a technical point of view. I read that the album is just mathematically perfect, from a songwriting perspective. Mind if we listen to it?”
“Sure,” I said. “Throw it on.” I scanned the credits. Each song was co-written by big name mega-writers with more gold records than I have socks. There were big name producers on every song, and some familiar names from my metal collection: Josh Freese might be best known as the drummer in the Vandals (among many others) but I first heard his name in regards to Guns N’ Roses who he was with for a short time. Another guy, Alessandro Elena, was the drummer in Bruce Dickinson’s Skunkworks. (He’s the subject of their song, “I’m In a Band with an Italian Drummer.”)
I know that the album was mostly pre-fab, but I didn’t mind it. Since I was limited in what I could usually listen to in-store, and Avril was fairly safe, I played it a lot. I always recommended it to customers who were looking for new music for their kids, who thought Britney was getting too skanky. As a bonus, punk kids seemed to hate her. Eventually I bought a copy myself.
I probably annoyed the shit out of my co-workers.
Avril released her heavier second album (Under My Skin) in 2004, and this is where my crush really began. Avril had a new image and a new sound. I don’t like thinking about that crush anymore; I have been mocked enough. Hell, Craig Fee mocked me for it on the air just this past Wednesday! It is true that I had a crush on Avril. The new grown-up Avril had gothed out and turned up on the cover of Maxim. Maxim agreed with me, just look at that headline!
Today, the thoughts of “Chavril”, that unholy union between Avril and Horse-man, makes me feel ill. It’s like finding out your ex-girlfriend is now seeing that jock in school you just fucking hated. We recently heard that Chavril was splitting. If so, I say good for her!
So anyway, the second album: It had more names from my metal shelves. In addition to Josh Freese, the legendary Kenny Aranoff and the astounding Brooks Wackerman played drums. Phil X of Bon Jovi and Triumph was on axe. Finally the Canadian duo of Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida were playing and co-writing on most songs too. This is accompanied by an overall darker and harder approach.
I liked the album a lot in 2004. Will I like it in 2014? Let’s find out tomorrow, for a full review.
To be continued…
DESPICABLE ME Fart Blaster (Illumination Entertainment)
5/5 stars from LeBrain
7/5 stars from Martin LePage