VIDEO: Max the Axe – “Randy” Remix – August 25-28 at the lake

I am pleased to present to you a work in progress by Max the Axe: a new remix of “Randy” by Robi Banerji. This remix veers wildly from the original album version of the song.

There are lots of dogs and cats in this video for you pet lovers.

You’ll notice we saw our UFO at the lake again on that August weekend. And weirder than ever. Explain this to me, people. See for yourself!


Gallery: Hello UFO, my old friend again

We saw our UFO again last night!


#999: Slo-Mo Schnauzers, Stop Motion Autobots, and UFOs? Oh My! (Video)

Slo-Mo Schnauzers, Stop Motion Autobots, and UFOs? Oh My!

Nothing really went as planned when the internet went out.  So, we did what we could.  We pretended it was 1989 and had fun in old fashioned ways.  Good thing no LeBrain Train show was planned!  And boy, did we take advantage of the break.  Fortunately music was not an issue, so I warmed up the laptop and dug into the hard drive for some albums that reminded me of the old days.

To a soundtrack of Kiss, Kim Mitchell, Max Webster, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, and many more, I grabbed the comic books and the Yahtzee.  It was too cold to swim (weird for July) so we had to do other things.  Jen worked on her adult colouring books.  I made food.  I also took plenty of video.

The wildlife this weekend was captured for your viewing pleasure.  Plenty of gulls, eating multitudes of beach insects (which were so plentiful you can clearly see them on camera).  We had a brave little chipmunk who seemed to enjoy the sounds of Aerosmith.  I think I’ll name him Joe Perry.  There were two cute doggos (one Schnauzer and one Miscellaneous), which I filmed in slow motion.  The visuals this weekend were unrivalled!  A pretty epic night fire, and sunsets that kill any you have seen yourself.  All captured and carefully edited to a soundtrack of unreleased Max the Axe music, and classic Tee Bone Erickson tunes.  Although the finished video is on the long-ish side, your reward is unreleased Max tuneage (one live, and a preview of a coming remix of “Randy”) and plenty of stunning visuals in HD slow motion.

We talked last time of being bored at the lake as a teenager.  If I had this kind of technology as a kid, I’d never had been bored.  That’s the truth.  There’s always something worth documenting.  The fact that I can have it finished and edited at the end of the weekend is actually pretty mind blowing.

The weirdest thing that happened (besides hearing a coyote calling at 11:30 at night, and then screaming at 5:00 AM), was the UFO.

Now, I’m not saying “aliens” when I say “UFO”.  Let’s be clear on that.  However the object was flying and none of us could identify it.  There were minimum three witnesses each time.  On the first night, the UFO appeared at sunset as a quickly brightening star, which eventually faded or was hidden by clouds.  It didn’t move.  My camera didn’t reveal much, although it looked like a blocky shape.  Our working theory was the International Space Station.

The second time, the object appeared in the same place at the same time, still motionless.  It looked like a flame in the sky, a frozen flame.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  It stayed in the sky until we eventually left the beach about half an hour later.  When I returned later at night, it was too cloudy to be seen.  Two examples below, and you can see more in the full video.

Internet outage aside, the only crappy thing about the weekend was that I did not get to visit Sausagefest as I’d hoped.  The internet outage disrupted Jen’s routines a bit and I elected to stay home and make sure she was OK.  As it stands I’m glad I made that decision, as she needed a little help doing a few things.

Otherwise, it was a delightful weekend of music and doing things differently.  I wish I had written down all the albums we listened to, but with no movies and no TV, music was the obvious dominant force.  A lot of Kiss this weekend, folks.  A lot of Kiss.

The video may be long but it’s worth it.  Slo-mo Schnauzer is your payoff!


REVIEW: Pyramids On Mars – Cosmic Angels (2022)

PYRAMIDS ON MARS – Cosmic Angels (2022)

Release date:  May 31 2022

There are, at minimum, two special things about Cosmic Angels by Pyramids On Mars:

  1. Pyramids On Mars is one guy – Kevin Estrella – who played or programmed everything.
  2. This one is pretty cool.  “All song ideas written in one take, stream of consciousness.  No edits.”  Wow.

Entirely instrumental, Cosmic Angels is an enjoyable, atmospheric album that passes in no time flat.  In the real world, it’s 44 minutes of music, but if you close your eyes it goes by in a flash.

The easiest influence to point out on one listen is Joe Satriani.  There’s something here about the tone and chords on “Interstellar” that scream “Satch”, but it’s not all about the playing. There’s a balance to the instruments and an inviting vibe.  Kevin Estrella does have his own ideas here, and they are a delight to listen to as the song grows and evolves.  Multiple influences abound, and varied ones at that.  Estrella thanks a number of them inside:  from Rush, Queen, Devin Townsend and Peter Steele, all the way down to Bach and Vivaldi. Some of the Rush influence comes out on the second track, “Phonix From the Ashes”, which you can hear in the arrangement and bass line.

We could go on and on about influences, but it makes more sense to just listen for yourself and let the album unfold.  In essence:  if you like the kind of progressive instrumental rock that guys like Satriani create, then Pyramids On Mars should appeal to you.  Your brain is already wired to get it.  There’s also a futuristic, science fiction element to the album.  There are songs about aliens and UFOs, and you get this impression even without lyrics.  Some melodies are inspired by the violin, others by dolphin song.

Highlights:  the cosmic “Interstellar”.  The rhythmic and lethal “On Dragon’s Wings”.  The complex and challenging “Luftpanzer (Air Tanks)”.  The heartfelt tribute “Echoes of Peter Steele”.  The spacey and relaxing “Arcturian Sunset”.

Check out Kevin Estrella at PyramidsOnMars.com and support the artist!

3.5/5 stars

#953: The Moment I Dumped Conspiracy Theories

RECORD STORE TALES #953: The Moment I Dumped Conspiracy Theories

With a lot more free reading time on hand after quitting the Record Store, I dove back into one of my favourite childhood topics:  UFOs.

It was Canadian nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman who re-convinced me there was something legitimate about the subject.   Described as a “genius” by those who knew him, Friedman spent 50 years as a ufologist.  He often said, “Most sightings can be easily explained.  We’re not interested in those.”  His point being there is a small but baffling number of contenders, that have yet to be fully debunked.  I began buying up his books, and found his stance as a “facts and figures” man quite convincing.  He was quite convinced that the United States and other governments had engaged in a “cosmic watergate” to cover up certain unexplained events.  He went to great lengths to find and verify documents in US archives, going so far as to find out if certain typewriters were used in certain offices.  If they were not, then the document was a forgery and he discarded it.  He put a tremendous amount of time into his research.  After seeing him speak in a documentary called Out of the Blue, I was intrigued.

I bought every book by Friedman that I could get my hands on.  To balance it out, I also read The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan.  It is important to read the view of the sceptic, but even so I thought Carl overlooked some things.  Then I bought Jesse Ventura’s book called American Conspiracies, which expanded the field into JFK, 9/11 and more.  Only one chapter on UFOs, but Ventura’s experiences were interesting at least.  Finally, I misguidedly bought a highly reviewed book by Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara in which they presented for evidence a number of photos of “glass domes” on the moon.  Suddenly and unwittingly, I had crossed the Conspiracy Threshold.

The Conspiracy Theshold is the line between the conceivable and the asinine.  It’s subjective, but exists for all who delve into the world of conspiracies, just as certain and invisible as the air in their lungs.  Much like the line between clever and stupid, it is a fine line that differs from person to person.  Glass domes on the moon was way, way past my threshold.

What happens if you go further?  In my experience, all conspiracies eventually flow to a weird, apocalyptic religious end.  How far you go is up to you, but that’s where all roads lead.  For example, when I followed UFO conspiracies too far on the way to the top…Barack Obama ended up a being satanist lizard alien.

Q Anon are now the latest who believe in lizard aliens.  Cool story.  Hey, you know what, I saw “V” as a kid too.

There are variations of the lizard alien theory, with the Queen, the Pope, the Clintons and the wealthiest families in the world all secretly running things in their lizardly ways.  You’ve heard of the Bilderbergers?  They’re the head honchos, when it’s not the military-industrial complex or the Pentaverate.  They’re all aliens, demons or both.  It’s a fine line — some who believe that the concept of aliens violates the Bible say that aliens and demons are the same thing.  Whatever the finer nuances of a given conspiracy theory, this is where they all lead, if you follow the breadcrumbs all the way.

By that time you’ve either realized you’ve gone too far and need to take a step back, or you’re too far gone to be reasoned with.  Not surprisingly, today’s “Pandemic Conspiracies” ultimately take you back to…lizard people and the End of Days.  Go far enough down the rabbit hole and eventually you become the rabbit.

These people have sucked the fun out of conspiracy theories.  With just a hint of sadness, I for one will never travel that aisle of the bookstore again.


REVIEW: Barstool Prophets – Last of the Big Game Hunters (1997)


Welcome back to Canadian Rawk Week!

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Scan_20160223BARSTOOL PROPHETS – Last of the Big Game Hunters (1997 Mercury)

This album, the third and final by the Barstool Prophets, was the one that got me into the band.  You can blame T-Rev for that.  Unfortunately this album was also the last for the Prophets.  They never really hit the big time, even though it was certainly deserved.  Their biggest claim to fame is that they had to change their name from their original, The Wallflowers.  Some guy named Jakob Dylan owned that one.  Therefore, their first album was called Deflowered!

Barstool Prophets is a better name anyway.  It’s more descriptive of this band.  Picture solid Canadian bar rock, with the poetic lyrics to rival the Tragically Hip.  Both bands are similar, and fans of one should definitely check out the other.  For this CD, they got Joe Hardy (ZZ Top) to produce, and the result is a stellar collection of great sounding, upbeat yet rocking tunes.

I have a promo CD of this with a white cover.  I also have the correct cover art for the retail version.  The reason for this is, when I was living with T-Rev in our shitty apartment, some assholes stole his CD changer out of his Jeep, including his copy of this CD.  The cover art was safely inside the apartment, but without a CD to go with it, it was a kind of useless thing.  He gave the cover to me to augment my fairly plain promo CD.

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The brief title track sets the stage perfectly.  Witty words, guitars panned hard to the right and left, and an understated groove.  That’s all you need, baby.  According to the liner notes, “Barstool Prophets wrote the songs, Graham Greer wrote the words, and they slapped them all together.”  The album and songs sound much more cohesive than that implies.  “Last of the Big Game Hunters” is hooky, radio ready, tough and smart.    It’s also short and to the point, as is the following song “Upside Down”.  From experience, I can tell you that these songs work great on the road.  I have done many, many cottage road trips with this CD in the deck.  The first half of the disc is mostly rockin’ with some mellowness creeping in on the second.  It all seems to work brilliantly.

My favourite song has always been the bulletproof “Vigilante”.  This is about as intense as the Prophets get both musically and lyrically.  Edgy but low-key spoken verses give way to the blistering chorus.  Most people will have to research Bernard Goetz (I did),  who is named in the incendiary bridge:

“I am prepared to carry out, without hesitation,
A cold and calculated act of intense dedication.
I am the store clerk forced once too often to his knees,
I am the few disgruntled Postal Service employees,
I am the widowed wife, left alone to carry on,
The grieving father, I, whose one and only child is gone.
I am the hand of Justice, with finger poised to test,
I am a bigger badder better bane than Bernard Goetz.”

It’s a powerful song.

Graham Greer shares one specific interest with me, which is UFOlogy. There are two songs on the album referencing them. The first is “Weird and Wonderful”, which musically is as fast as metal. The reference is vaguely to Betty and Barney Hill, one of the first documented UFO abduction cases:

“A family driving on a lonely stretch of highway,
Returning sadly from a very pleasant holiday.
Just then the starry night is filled with blinding light,
They’d later testify they’d never seen a greater sight.”

The gist of the song is that some things are just weird and wonderful; futile to explain. I prefer searching for the answers, but perhaps the Barstool Prophets have it right.

“Running Out” mellows things down a bit, with a melodic mid-tempo groove.  It’s the radio hit “Friend of Mine” that you might remember though.  What a great song.  Shall we call it a ballad?  I guess?  Whatever — it doesn’t matter.  It’s a blunt song anyone can relate to, about what true friendship means.  “My views and dreams and favourite songs will shift and turn with the passing of time, but one thing for certain is you’d always be a friend of mine.”  Even on the ballad (?), their knack for rhythm shines through.  This is a great band — just the rhythm section players alone are interesting to isolate and listen to.  The also goes for “Tangled Up”, an acoustic song that follows.  Weaving words and rhythms seems to be this band’s forté.  And they do it with an uncanny ability to write melodies too.  Just astounding.  How did these guys not become the biggest thing ever?  Maybe it’s because it’s just too easy to compare them to The Tragically Hip.  I daresay, Barstool Prophets wrote songs that were just as edgy and just as smart, but twice as catchy in the melody department.

About the only lull in the proceedings is “Five Wheel Highway”, a low-key slow grind on the pavement.  It’s also the second longest song.  It’s loaded with a harmonica hook, but it’s not enough to keep me interested.  “More” brings us back to center, with a solid album quality track.  It’s upbeat and it has those guitar jangles that I dig.  “Hungry Joe” is amusing, a man who “lived in a dream, where he was a ladies man supreme.”  Joe seems to get what he deserves, but the song is just another catchy one that probably sounded great live.  “Get Along” then is a stomping body slam.  It’s interesting lyrically and dramatic musically.  Good mixture for cerebral rock and roll.

Back to UFOs one last time for “Thrusters”.  Slow picking leads to quavering vocals:  “I have spent many nights, staring at the sky…”  It’s an unorthodox song, with no real chorus.  “I know they’re coming back for me, but how much longer will they be?”  I think it’s a haunting song, and it builds beautifully.

Last of the Big Game Hunters is still a fine album indeed.  I’d put it on my top records of 1997 easily.  Thanks T-Rev for getting me into it!

4.5/5 stars