Big Bang Theory

REVIEW: Harem Scarem – Big Bang Theory (1998)

scan_20170218HAREM SCAREM – Big Bang Theory (1998 Warner)

Never give up, never surrender!  That should be Harem Scarem’s motto.

As big-time success continued to elude them despite some great albums and singles, they evolved for the times.  1998’s Big Bang Theory is the first major step in a more commercial direction.  This meant incorporating popular pop-punk sounds:  short, fast simple melodic songs with minimal soloing.  “Turn Around” is a perfect example of this new direction.  There is a guitar solo, albeit brief.  These qualities don’t have to be a bad thing if they’re done right, and Harem Scarem did them exceptionally well.

“Wasted Time” sounds more like Karma Cleansing material from the last album, which is nice as an anchor.  “So Blind” combines the two worlds.  It has the speedy pop-punk vibe but with a traditional sounding Harem Scarem song.  “So Blind” is the first slam dunk of the CD, its irresistible verses nailing it straight to your head.  Peter Lesperance’s solo is short and to the point, yet still tasty.  Time for a ballad?  Check out “Without You”, a terrific and sweet little number with irresistible “bop bop bop bop” backup harmonies.

The second bonafide home run on Big Bang Theory is “Climb the Gate”. It’s in the same mold as the single “Die Off Hard” from the prior album, but brand new. The stuttery hook in the riff slays it. “Climb the Gate” is an essential song for any Harem Scarem collection. It is one of their catalog gems. It doesn’t get much better than “Climb the Gate” for these guys. If you don’t like this tune, you won’t like this album.

There’s a natural break for a side change here.  “What I Do” brings the focus back to the added 90s-isms.  Programmed percussion sounded modern at the time, mixed in with the real drums.  Decent song, but the next one up “Sometimes I Wish” is notable as being the lead vocal debut of bassist Barry Donaghy.  Its pop-punk chorus keeps it in synch with the album, and if you didn’t know it was someone else singing, you might never have noticed.

“New Religion” is the final power play goal of the album.  Another powerful little riff backs up one of Harry Hess’ strongest choruses.  He’s going to start his own religion, demi-gods, there’ll be none.  This unforgettable number ranks among their catchiest, but Pete Lesperance’s speedy picking gives it an aggression you don’t get otherwise.  But wait!  “Lying” keeps the speedometer in the red, with another power-pop killer.  Like the direction or not, at least Harem Scarem did it well.  It’s also notable that Big Bang Theory has only one ballad, which is the closer “In My State of Mind”.   This gentle track is just Harry Hess and a piano.  Ending an album with a ballad is a gamble, but not when you have the goods.

Big Bang Theory maintained the Harem Scarem momentum.  It delivered three standout must-haves and an album’s worth of good material.  It began to move Harem Scarem into a direction that some fans didn’t quite get.  More changes were ahead, some more drastic.  Big Bang Theory is a grey area between the future and the past, but important to the journey.

4/5 stars

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#459.3: 2015 Year-End Lists, part 3 – LeBrain!

GETTING MORE TALE #459.3:
2015 Year-End Lists, part 3 – yours truly, LeBrain!

Unlike my companions in rock, Tom and Uncle Meat, I’m going to be a bit more verbose here with my top lists of 2015.

I thought I had my top five albums down.  I didn’t expect any changes, but then a couple respected writers started praising the new Def Leppard album.  I decided, against my better judgement to go ahead and buy it.  What can I say?  Those reviewers were right.  It’s a good album.  Def Leppard 2015 cracked my top five list, necessitating a top six.

LeBRAIN’S TOP SIX(!) ALBUMS of 2015

6. Def Leppard – Def Leppard
5. Stealth – …listen
4. Queensryche – Condition Hüman
3. The Darkness – Last of Our Kind
2. Faith No More – Sol Invictus
1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

2015

LeBRAIN’S TOP FIVE TV SHOWS of 2015

I actually watched enough TV this year to make up a list!

5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
4. The Big Bang Theory
3. Star Wars: Rebels
2. Better Call Saul
1. American Dad!

BIG BANG

LeBRAIN’S TOP MOVIES of 2015

As far as I know, only one movie came out this year, right?

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

FORCE

2015 IN SUM

The high quality of new albums by returning bands continues to amaze me.  The last band I expected a quality album from this year was Def Leppard.  Of course, on the flip side of that, we have Bon Jovi who choked to death on pop dreck.  Given what was coming out this year, and what the stakes were (a possible final album from Iron Maiden, the first Faith No More CD in 18 years), you couldn’t have realistically hoped for better than we got.  Meanwhile on the new music front, it is hard to find a better debut than …listen, by Stealth.  Not rock in any way, but more mind-expanding than anything else I heard in 2015.

And talk about high stakes on the movie front!  The most anticipated movie of all time is going to be the most successful movie of all time, thanks to it pushing all the right buttons while moving the story into its next phase.  Because of my wife’s health condition (epilepsy) I don’t go out to movies very often, preferring to wait for the blu-ray.  Age of Ultron and Ant-Man pleased me immensely.  But worth more than just an honourable mention is Mad Mad: Fury Road.  Unlike Star Wars, Mad Max rebooted while going off into a startling new direction.  It was probably the most impressive film of the year…but even so, my 2015 was only about Star Wars.  Just trust me — see Mad Max: Fury Road.  See it many times.

Finally:  Rest in peace Lemmy Kilmister, Philthy Animal Taylor (that’s 2/3rds of the classic Motorhead lineup, wiped out), Scott Weiland, Chris Squire, Ornette Coleman, Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, A.J. Pero, Andy Fraser, and of course, B.B. King.

Happy New Year, everybody!

 

fnm

 

Gallery: LeBrain Birthday Bonanza (including Food Porn)

First up to bat, my good buddy Aaron, (who as you all know loooooooves Mastodon) decided to rectify the situation that I didn’t yet have their latest album Once More ‘Round the Sun. Which I can tell you, is awesome. Mastodon have a lot of what I liked best in metal, and this album lives up to the hype. I’m really into track 6, “Asleep in the Deep”, which has a very cool chiming Voivod-esque riff.

Proceedings got off to an unofficial start yesterday at noon. We do a monthly lunch out at work regularly, and this one fell on the Friday before my birthday. My co-workers bought me lunch at Beertown, which was very very good. Above, some beer & cheddar soup, as well as some lovely truffled sweet potato fries.  I also had some battered calimari.

Jen and her mom always gets me the best T-shirts.  Above, two Big Bang Theory T’s, the infamous Walter White, and a spiffy Led Zeppelin swearshirt that will definitely be worn to next year’s Sausagefest.

They also bought me Transformers.  FansToys are making some absolutely astounding G1 Masterpiece-class Dinobots right now.  Scoria aka Slag is a beautiful, heavy figure.  He looks great next to MP Grimlock and MP Prime.  If you like Grimlock, you will love this figure.  Thank you to Jen’s mom for this amazing figure.  I will definitely be getting Swoop.  Jen also got me the new Generations Skrapnel/Shrapnel and Reflector, which I also like a lot, for a Scout-class figure.

We went to Mother’s Pizza for dinner tonight.  Thanks Dad!  I had the small “Grandmother’s”.  It tasted a lot like I remember it tasting almost 30 years ago.  It had lots of olives and mushrooms, which I topped with double cheese.

Neil DeGrasse-Tyson’s Cosmos on Blu-ray is an absolute treat.  Thanks Jen.  I hope you don’t mind watching the whole series, over again with me!  She also picked up Paul Stanley‘s Face the Music, which I hear is a great read!  And who doesn’t like jellybeans?

 

Thanks everyone for all the birthday wishes.  It was a great, laid back day!

WTF SEARCH TERMS: Pol Rodgers Edition

PAUL

WTF SEARCH TERMS III:  Pol Rodgers Edition

WTF Search Terms is a new feature here at LeBrain’s, where I reveal some amusing words that people typed into search engines, ending up at my site.  Today I’ve gathered 10 of the funnier Rock-related search terms!  If you missed the last one, click here.

10.  “show me all of iron maidens art dra”  “Show me”?  Pfft.  Show me your dra first.

9. “pol rodgers fire and waters”  He  knew how to spell Rodgers, but not Paul.

8.  “band acting like a puppet”  My best guess is Supergrass.

7. “jonbonjovi phoyoes never seen”  If you’ve never seen it, neither have I.

6. “where was montly crew attacted in saskatchewan”  He spelled Saskatchewan right.

5. “deep purple songs about nature appreciation”  This thought had not crossed my mind once before now.

4. “when will def leppard be on itunes”  Perhaps the answer is, like my old Psych 301 prof used to say, “On the 12th of Never.”

3. “why does burke shelley sound like a woman”  Maybe because his last name is Shelley, huh-huh, huh-huh.

2. “paul di anno teh beast”  Teh.

1. “does sebastian bach really like model trains”  Yes, him and Sheldon Cooper!