Better Than Your Mom's

Bat Out of Hell has always been an album I wanted to discover. I don't know what took me so long. At first, I thought Meatloaf was a novelty. "I Would Do Anything For Love" was a big hit when I was just starting to listen to music. I remember watching the music video as a kid and just being confused at the sight of this big fat guy in a flowing white shirt singing with the force of God, as though the world was about to end.

While he's always been on my radar, it was only until I read a passage about "Paradise on the Dashboard Light" in Chuck Klosterman's Sex Drugs and Coco Puffs, that I was compelled to investigate. I can't remember exactly how he sold me, but whatever Klosterman said was enough to set my mind. It's strange how that happens.

It was satisfying to actually buy the album instead of downloading it. I find that's the case with a lot of older music. While the new album art feature in iTunes is indeed diggidy-dope, it still doesn't replace the tangible quality of holding something in your hands.

The album itself is amazing, as I'm sure millions and millions of people already know. But god-damn if it isn't rewarding to discover stuff like this with your own exploration. The opening piano chords on the title track are some of the hardest rocking ever. Gotta hand it to Jim Steinman, the man knows how to rock your nuts off. Meat ain't too bad, either.


Vampire Hands at Wizard Island

In high school, everyone had friends in a band. Inherently, there's nothing too special about that. But it's another thing when you have friends in a band that's starting to get noticed. It automaticaly makes you feel cooler.

If you are ever in the Minneapolis area, check out the local music scene by taking in a Vampire Hands show. The following is excerpted from their recent write-up in the City Pages:

The first thing you need to know about Vampire Hands is that their name is awesome, if for no other reason than it forces people to strike their best Nosferatu pose. (No kidding, it's like Pavlov's dog. Try it.) The second is that bassist Chris Bierden sings with an English accent. And while that alone counts as strikes one, two, and three against a band, it's easy to forgive Bierden his linguistic trespasses. That's because he's seriously into the European psychedelic scene of the mid-'60s (as evidenced by Vampire Hands' debut EP, At Wizard Island: Too Punk to Fuck), and frankly there just aren't enough Can fans making music in this town. Second, Bierden's androgynous falsetto is so John-Lennon-creamy that it would be a crime if he didn't soften his Rs and lengthen his vowels. It's hypnotic, and it reminds us why royalty used to chill out to castrati choirs.


Make Yourself at Home

iTunes 7 is now out, and I have to say I am very impressed with the revamped look. Finally, all those hours I spent downloading album art have paid off. The new views are super cool and generally it's an improvement on an already near-perfect product. Nothing else even comes close. Kudos, Apple.


We Have Some Planes...

There is a feature on Slate right now that's quite spectacular - a graphic adaptation of the 9/11 Report that is perfect for illiterates like myself who never took the time to read the original document.*

After the 9/11 Report was published, I remember Barnes and Noble had it featured and stacked all over the place, like a John Grisham book. It got great reviews, was well written, and sold a lot of copies. But it was still a shitload of writing, and at the time I didn't feel like finding out more about the tragedy. It was already hard enough to deal with it everywhere else.

This illustrated take is a great way to take in some of the amazing details the 9/11 Commission amassed in their three year investigation. I don't feel like it's cheating, because this version adds a lot of movement and narrative. It's its own entity, while still paying great respect to the source material. It's not a re-imagining, or a new take; it's just presented in a different format by some very talented artists. I should also note that it's for sale on Amazon.com, even though you can read it online for free. You gotta love that.

Here are some of the panels:

*Spellcheck corrected 'illetirates' when I proofed this post.


This Bird Has Flown

Brad Bird is an animation genius. Just look at him goofily presenting his Oscar as if it's for sale on QVC. He's awesome. And so is his resume. The Simpsons, The Critic, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant... he knows what makes cartoons great and I can't wait for his new one, (The) Ratatoullie. The trailer looks great and the idea is genius - a rat that hates eating garbage and lives in a French restaraunt.