23 January 2007

Blasts from the Past

Why are the negative reviews always the ones that turn out the best?

The Singles: 1996-2006

There’s a thin line between moody introspection and narcissistic self-pity, and for such a burly, scary-looking guy, Staind’s frontman Aaron Lewis is quite a whiny douchebag. From a lyrical perspective, he makes Morrissey look like David Lee Roth. But I guess if I owed my career to Fred Durst, I’d be depressed, too.

It’s not that Staind are the worst band ever; when they rock out, they’re a passable metal act. But the group’s turgid, monochromatic balladry – that is, the bulk of this compilation -- is music for bedwetters.

Closing the disc with covers of tunes by three vastly superior bands (Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains, Tool) was a huge mistake on two levels. First, it spotlights how much of Staind’s sound was swiped from Tool and Alice in Chains. Second, it underscores the mediocrity of Staind’s own material.
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The Very Best of Sheryl Crow

For a former Wacko Jacko backing vocalist, Sheryl Crow has done pretty well for herself. Her signature blend of roots rock, folk, pop and country made her a star and allowed her to rack up hit after MOR hit in a decade-long career, plus she’s kept various former members of cult acts like David + David and Wire Train rolling in fat royalty checks and otherwise gainfully employed. Musically, Crow’s material has enough grit to allow soccer moms to feel like they’re rocking out when they buy her discs, while her compositional skills assure a solid level of quality and craft goes into every track. The consummate pro, in other words, and The Very Best of Sheryl Crow is a fine encapsulation of her career thus far. All the big hits are here, but unfortunately, so is her execrable duet with Kid Rock (“Picture”), a country tune that’s an unintentional parody of country music, but I guess that’s why God put skip buttons on CD players.
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This is something I did that previewed a then-upcoming event. I thought it was pretty funny. Took me less than five minutes.

I always thought the Transformers were a cheap-ass Shogun Warriors rip-off, but the joke’s on Raydeen, Gaiking and Dangard Ace, because next year, a live-action Transformers movie hits the big screen. But riddle me this: Did you know that the song "You've Got the Touch," as performed by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, is originally from the animated 1984 Transformers movie?

Regardless, if you live and die for all things Transformers, you won’t want to miss – I shit you not – BotCon. The convention allows fans to talk shop with designers, take drawing classes, preview new figures, and most importantly, buy, sell and trade the toys around which their lives are based.

The fun runs Sep. 30-Oct 1 at the Lexington Convention Center: Bluegrass Ballroom (430 W Vine St, Lexington, Ky. – ask mom to drive you). Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for kids (under 4: free).

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