Death: Death III (Album Review)

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Death: Death III
Album Review by Rob Watts

Ever since 70s protopunk band DEATH had broken out of obscurity a few years ago, fans old and new have been clambering for new material from the Detroit trio—siblings David, Dannis and Bobby Hackney. While not exactly new, DEATH III showcases the band’s timeline with nine-tracks recorded in 1975, 1976, 1980 and 1992.

In brief, if you haven’t heard the tale of DEATH, basically three brothers, Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) assembled themselves as a rock trio after being inspired by The Who, Alice Cooper and many other rock bands of the time. They’d recorded batches of material, received major label interest, passed on getting signed as they’d refused to change their band’s name to a more commerce-friendly identity and essentially drifted into obscurity as the members focused their musical attention towards various projects.

Fast-forward to 2008 when Bobby Hackney’s sons discovered old recordings of their father’s former band, interest began to develop in giving the music a proper release. In 2009 Drag City Records released “…For The Whole World to See”, a collection of material intended for release during the mid-seventies but never happened. Based on the popularity of DEATH’s first major release, a documentary was produced in the form of A BAND CALLED DEATH.

Now, DEATH will release an archival collection called DEATH III on April 22. Comprised of nine tracks of various influence ranging from punk rock, funk, hard rock and flat-out trippy psychedelic delight. Bobby Hackney’s soulful vocal delivery melts over tracks such as “Restlessness” and “Open Road” and is reminiscent of the early seventies version of LOVE led by the late Arthur Lee. “Yes He’s Coming” is a laid back Lo-Fi jam, while “North Street” paints a ferocious MC5-production-influenced portrait of the band’s early days on the streets of the motor city.

This is easily one of my favorite releases so far this year. Fans of pure-driven rock music should enjoy this very much. It’s great to see DEATH’s legacy finally getting the respect it so richly deserves. DEATH III can be purchased here.
Review by ROB WATTS

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The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo) Album Review

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THE BOTH Album Review
April 15, 2014
By Rob Watts

I know what you’re thinking. Another boy/girl musical pairing? I had those same thoughts upon hearing about THE BOTH featuring singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. But unlike the likes of She & Him, Matt and Kim, The XX and so on and so forth, Mann and Leo have longstanding careers in their respective genres. Mann of course is known for her former New Wave outfit Til’ Tuesday with their hit song “Voices Carry.” The majority of her stardom, however, has come from her long-standing solo career since the early nineties releasing classic albums such as 1993s “Whatever,” 2000s “Bachelor no. 2″ and most recently, 2012s “Charmer.

Ted Leo has had a widely regarded career in the punk/power pop genre, he too, playing since the 80s is bands such as Hell No, Citizens Arrest, as well as fronting his own outfit Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. That’s what makes the self-titled debut “The Both” available April 15th so special. All things considered, you’d probably never expect such a stylistic shift in musical tone from both of these players. Where Mann has been much more somber on her solo offerings, and Leo being high-energy and often chaotic, the pairing gently bring one another to a comfortable center. Tracks such as MILWAUKEE, HUMMINGBIRD and VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA are case-in-point. This is one collaboration I can get behind. If you’re into experimentation gone right, THE BOTH is an album for you.
BY ROB WATTS

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10 Facts About St. Patrick That You Might Not Know!

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1-To this day, his exact birthday is unknown.

2- At 16 years old, He was kidnapped from his homeland of Great Britain and placed into slavery in Ireland for 6 years. Therefore, he wasn’t Irish by birth.

3- St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, to teach people about the Holy Trinity. The three-leafed plant represented the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

4- 2 types of crosses are associated with St. Patrick. They are called the Pattee and the Saltire.

5- Traditionally, St. Patrick wore blue, not green. The green color associated with St. Patrick became popular over time due to the prominence of the shamrock.

6- March 17th is the date of St. Patrick’s death, not his birth.

7- Patrick spent 20 years of his life living as a monk.

8- Patrick was very successful is converting Pagans to Christianity.

9- He was arrested several times for doing so. He managed to escape every time.

10- After escaping slavery, Patrick returned to Ireland with 24 of his devoted followers in the year 432.

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LOVE “Black Beauty” (Album Review)

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Love “Black Beauty” Album Review
By Rob Watts

Not since Brian Wilson’s Magnum Opus “SMILE” has there been a more highly anticipated rock album than LOVE’s “Black Beauty.” Recorded in 1973 by Arthur Lee, the band’s singer and principal songwriter, the album was conceived as a solo album by Lee whilst signed to Buffalo Records. Unfortunately, Buffalo Records closed its doors prior to BLACK BEAUTY being released. It had remained shelved ever since.

Until now, that is. Receiving a proper release in the form of Vinyl and Deluxe CD by High Moon Records, this unearthed collection of songs is well-worth the wait.

Where LOVE’s “Forever Changes” album is simply a masterpiece, BLACK BEAUTY is that album’s well-nurtured child. But unlike the psychedelic garage sound of FOREVER CHANGES, BLACK BEAUTY is pure electric acid rock. Bold and in your face.

Drawing from influences of Jimi Hendrix, friend and sometimes collaborator of Lee, many of the tracks (Young & Able, Midnight Sun and Walk Right In) have that loose guitar swagger that Hendrix made popular. Songs such as Stay Away combine Lee’s trademark driving rhythm with his hypnotic vocal style. Beep Beep is a quirky calypso-reggae jam, while See Myself in You is a rather raucous sounding ballad.

The Deluxe CD version is a lovingly-crafted Hardbound Eco-Book, containing 64 full-color pages of rare photos and commentary. In addition to the original album’s ten tracks, bonus material includes 3 live tracks, an interview with Arthur Lee and 2 outtakes. The Deluxe CD is limited to 5000 copies. Each CD contains the number out of 5000 stamped right into the CD packaging. A highly recommended purchase for your collection if you’re a fan of classic 60s-70s rock!

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Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms (Recipe)

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Mexican Stuffed Mushroom Recipe
By Rob Watts

What you’ll need:

2 Portobello Mushrooms
3-4 Fresh Jalapeño Peppers.
Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Tablespoon of Fresh Minced Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon of Chili Powder
1/2 Cup of Diced Tomatoes
2-3 Oz of Colby Jack Cheese (or Mexican Blend)

How to make it :

On a baking sheet (and aluminum foil) place the mushroom caps upright. In a separate bowl, mix together your minced garlic, chili powder and diced tomatoes. Once complete, add this mixture to the inside of your mushroom caps using a spoon. Slice jalapeño peppers into 1/4 inch slices. Add these along with your cheese over your mushrooms, completely covering your tomato and garlic filling.

Place in your oven for 10 minutes on 325 degrees.
Prepare a sauté pan. Add your olive oil and place the pan on medium heat. When you remove your mushrooms from the oven (cheese will be melted), place in the sauté pan and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, depending on your desired firmness of the mushrooms.

Remove and serve with your desired garnish. (Tomato salsa, Ranch Dressing, Cilantro.)

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Your Book IS Judged By Its Cover!

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The English metaphor “You can’t judge a book by its cover” was coined by, in all honesty, a bunch of losers who didn’t want to put their best foot forward in life. The phrase served as a cozy little shield in which the ne’er do wells could hide behind as they were judged for their outlandish and irreverent behavior. In today’s world of the fast-paced do or die mentality, it’s unfortunate that in many instances, for the sake of our very livelihood (family, career, etc..) we must be forced into judging “books by their cover.” Sadly, we don’t have time to find out if a potential employee is just a big teddy bear on the inside or an emotional ticking time bomb.

The very same can be said about book covers, in the literal sense. We as humans, respond to image a lot faster than we do with words. Madison Avenue figured that out a long, long time ago. So, with that in mind, added to the fact that writers are also book buyers, why wouldn’t they know the difference between a good book cover from a bad one? Surely they have passed over a book themselves in favor of one that was much more appealing to the eye. So why on Earth would they go with a poorly designed cover to represent their work?

Cost may very well be a factor, but in today’s very competitive self-publishing world, it’s easier than ever to search out a reasonable-priced cover designer. One with a reputable track record that is.

Another reason may be, that the self-published author may labor under the delusion that he or she may be more tech savvy than they actually are. Affordable design and photoshop software is fun to play around with. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to leave the design work to someone who employs a vast knowledge of graphic design.

Pre-designed templates (on CreateSpace, LuLu, etc..) are popular with self-published authors as well. The problem with these? Other authors are using the same designs, and with thousands of authors a month using these services, chances are you (worse—a consumer) are going to come across an author’s work with a similar theme or design. Don’t believe us? Look at the similar book covers below.

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Despite feasibility and lack of design skills, your work (and potential readers) deserves the best cover possible. After all, you spent so much time and energy laboring over your manuscript, why shouldn’t your project benefit from an eye catching cover that you’ll be proud of? An attractive cover is your book’s handshake to the reader. If cost is a factor, perhaps you should hold off publishing until you can afford a good design artist. Don’t just rush your work out into the world simply because you’re finished writing. There’s more to book selling than just throwing it out there. Take your time and be sure that the finished work is how you envisioned it at conception.

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A few examples of poorly-designed book covers.

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Children’s Author Susan Saunders Discusses Her Work with Stand Out Books!

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SNOWPOCALYPSE co-author Susan Saunders spoke with Stand Out Books about her illustrated children’s book and the creative process of writing and illustrating. Read the Interview Here!

SNOWPOCALYPSE can be purchased at Waunders.com