Film Review – “Black Panther”

BLACK PANTHER
Starring:  Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o
Directed by:  Ryan Coogler
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  2 hrs 14 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

 

 

Holy Crap!!

I continue to be amazed at how the films in the Marvel Universe seem to keep getting better and better.  And it’s not just my opinion.  In checking back though our pages, I found that NONE of the main film reviewers on this site (myself, Mike Gencarelli, Jeremy Werner and Lauren Damon) have given a Marvel film less than four stars out of a possible five.  And “Black Panther” is no exception.

We first met our hero briefly in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  Our story here takes us to Oakland in the early 1990s.  While young boys shoot hoop in the courtyard of the projects they call home, high above them they see a flash of light among a dark cloudy sky, briefly forgetting their problems.  But those problems will not go away, no matter who you are.

A story of diversity, family and compassion, Black Panther roars onto the screen at a million miles an hour.  Having lost his father, the former king of the African country of Wakanda, in a terrorist attack, Prince T’Challa (Boseman) returns home to find that he has much to learn.  The only place on the planet where one can find Vibranium, the world’s hardest metal, the country hides its vast wealth and technological advantages behind the guise of a small, third-world country.  Before he can rightly take the throne, T’Challa must accept and defeat all who would challenge him.  He does this with the help of his head of security, Okoye (Danal Gurira), brilliant sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), loving mother (Angela Bassett) and former partner in crime and matters of the heart Nakia (Nyong’o).  As the work to keep their country safe, they must take on the challenge of a long-lost relative, Erik Killmonger (Jordan), who is defiant of the fact that Wakanda is a wealthy country with seemingly endless resources.  He wants to share the wealth and make it possible for everyone to reap its benefits.  Of course, this brings a great hub-bub up to King T’Challa.  “If we take in people and their problems they wil soon become our problems as well.”  Sounds familiar.

Director Coogler, who directed Fruitvale Station and Creed, has once again filled his cast with an amazing set of actors.  Besides Boseman, who has played everyone from James Brown to Jackie Robinson to Thurgood Marshall on film recently, the cast contains recent Oscar winners Forest Whitaker and Nyong’o, as well as Academy Award nominee Bassett.  These films are meant to be taken serious and the cast more than delivers on that promise.  But these films are also meant to be fun, and with great visuals and a brilliant musical score, Black Panther more than fills the bill.

Black Stone Cherry to Release Sixth Studio Album Titled “Family Tree”

BLACK STONE CHERRY TO RELEASE BAND’S SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM TITLED FAMILY TREE
VIA MASCOT RECORDS / MASCOT LABEL GROUP ON APRIL 20

BLACK STONE CHERRY is set to release their sixth studio album, Family Tree via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group on 20th April 2018. Burnin’, the first musical taste of the new collection is available today, along with the ability to pre-order the release in various physical and digital formats. Check out the lyric video for Burnin’ here: https://youtu.be/zOryfVbQEY0 and pick up your digital version here. Physical album formats, including a UK exclusive clear vinyl option limited to just 1500 copies are available here.

Family Tree is the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s Kentucky, which debuted at #5 on the Official UK Album Chart. Like Kentucky, BLACK STONE CHERRY opted to self-produce and track Family Tree at David Barrick’s Barrick Recording in Glasgow, KY, the same studio where the four-piece recorded their eponymous debut. BSC also opted to not over-rehearse upfront of the album sessions, instead preferring the immediacy and spontaneity of in-the-moment takes. The band also entrusted frontman Chris Robertson to mix the songs, which perfectly fit the loose, creative process that birthed Family Tree.

Family Tree boasts BSC’s tried-and-true lucky number with its 13 songs, and like all BSC releases, features songwriting contributions from each member. Drummer John Fred tells us, “Family Tree showcases all of our collective musical influences and how we have taken those to create something that is truly our own unique Southern American rock ‘n roll sound.” Two special guests appear, one bringing the concept of family full circle. Chris’ 5 yr old son contributes backup vocals on the swaggering You Got The Blues, while the other, revered jam-band musician Warren Haynes (Allman Bros/Gov’t Mule) offers a guitar cameo and vocals on the delta stomp of Dancing In The Rain. The band first met Warren 17 years ago as freshly-signed youngsters on their first visit to New York City.

The concept of family looms large in the world of BLACK STONE CHERRY’s four band members. Sticksman John Fred Young’s father Richard and his uncle Fred, are founding members of the Grammy Award-winning country rock n’ roots band, The Kentucky HeadHunters. BSC’s four high school-aged friends – Young, plus frontman/guitarist Chris Robertson, guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lawhon – grew up honing their craft in the Headhunters’ Practice House, an abandoned property on the Young family’s farmland. John Fred says, “We grew up in the Kentucky Headhunters’ rehearsal space, looking up at posters of Cream, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, the Stones, Montrose, and the Faces. We were like kids someone took in a time capsule and put in the woods,”

Family Tree’s tracklisting runs as follows:

Bad Habit
Burnin’
New Kinda Feelin
Carry Me On Down The Road
My Last Breath
Southern Fried Friday Night
Dancin’ In The Rain (featuring Warren Haynes)
Ain’t Nobody
James Brown
You Got The Blues
I Need A Woman
Get Me Over You
Family Tree

BLACK STONE CHERRY’s first visit to UK shores in 2018 will be as direct special guests to Guns n’ Roses at Download Festival (www.downloadfestival.com) on Saturday 9th June. The band’s honest, gutsy, no-nonsense approach to their live show has allowed them to rock 12,000-cap arena dates across the UK for a number of years. Expect this to be their modus operandi for the foreseeable future in the wake of the release of Family Tree.

CD Review: Cannibal Corpse “Red Before Black”

“Red Before Black”
Cannibal Corpse
Metal Blade Records
Producer: Erik Rutan
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Cannibal Corpse returns with their 14th full-length studio album titled “Red Before Black” an album which clearly shows the soon-to-be thirty-year death metal veterans are unstoppable! The album serves to not only to reiterate this but to once more raise the stakes, making it very clear who sets the standards when it comes to compelling music this is equally brutal and complex. With 2017 seeing a slew of stunning new releases from death metal’s old guard “Red Before Black” stands strong and is a fitting statement for a band whose career spans almost three decades.

Not for the faint of heart “Red Before Black” is the latest offering from death metal heavy weights Cannibal Corpse and much like previous releases from the Buffalo, NY natives the band burst out of the gate going directly for your face! Tracks like album opener “Only One Will Die” and “Heads Shoveled Off” feature bombastic blast beats and thunderous double bass courtesy of Mr. Paul Mazurkiewicz while tracks like “Code of the Slashers” and “Shedding My Human Skin” feature some of the most guttural, demon summoning growls by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. With the guitars and bass acting as the proverbial cherry on top of each of the albums 12 tracks “Red Before Black” is one of the bands strongest releases in the past 5 years.

Chances are if you are already reading this then you what Cannibal Corpse is about and are familiar with their sound. If not but, you are looking for some balls to the wall death metal then do yourself a favor and grab a copy of “Red Before Black”! As a band progresses through their career often times sounds and styles change but in the case of Cannibal Corpse the band’s latest offering is equally if not more aggressive than the band’s debut, proving that just because a band gets older doesn’t mean they have to slow down or soften up.

Track Listing:
1.) Only One Will Die
2.) Red Before Black
3.) Code of the Slashers
4.) Shedding My Human Skin
5.) Remaimed
6.) Firestorm Vengeance
7.) Heads Shoveled Off
8.) Corpus Delicti
9.) Scavenger Consuming Death
10.) In The Midst of Ruin
11.) Destroyed Without a Trace
12.) Hideous Ichor

Black Veil Brides Release New Song “When They Call My Name”, New Album Out January 12, 2018

BLACK VEIL BRIDES RELEASE NEW SONG “WHEN THEY CALL MY NAME”
NEW ALBUM VALE OUT JANUARY 12, 2018, PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE TODAY
NORTH AMERICAN CO-HEADLINE TOUR DATES WITH ASKING ALEXANDRIA KICKS OFF IN JANUARY

NEW YORK, NY (November 3, 2017) — Today, BLACK VEIL BRIDES release new song “When They Call My Name” off their highly anticipated fifth full length album, VALE [LAVA/Republic Records].

Listen to “When They Call My Name” Here!

After quietly fueling fan anticipation over the past month, BLACK VEIL BRIDES share the details for their anxiously awaited fifth full-length album, VALE [LAVA/Republic Records]—available, January 12, 2018. Pre-Order VALE Here!

The official pre-order grants fans immediate downloads of the first three songs to be released off VALE, “My Vow,” “The Outsider,” and now “When They Call My Name.” Listen to “My Vow” Here and “The Outsider” Here!

Produced by longtime collaborator John Feldmann [blink-182, Panic! At the Disco], VALE sees BLACK VEIL BRIDES sharpen their signature sound to knife point precision.

The band hits the road on January 10th, 2018 for their North American co-headline tour with Asking Alexandria in Salt Lake City and will hit major markets across the country including New York’s Terminal 5 on February 8th and more! Tickets & VIP Packages are on-sale now. Check out the full itinerary below and purchase tickets here!

To keep in touch with the band, join the new BVB ARMY and be the first to get news by Text Message! Sign up at www.BVBARMY.com OR Text BVBV to 856-282-2769

BLACK VEIL BRIDES have shocked and electrified modern rock back to life. Their critically acclaimed self-titled fourth album, Black Veil Brides, bowed in the Top of the Billboard Top 200 and received “Album of the Year” at the 2015 Alternative Press Music Awards. It followed up 2013’s Wretched and Divine, which crashed the Top 200 at #7 and yielded the signature smash “In The End” proclaimed “Song of the Year” at the Revolver Golden God Awards. Playing to millions of rabid fans worldwide, they’ve ignited festivals such as Download and Rock on the Range and been tapped for high-profile tours with Avenged Sevenfold, Slash, Mötley Crüe, Hollywood Undead, and more.

Tour Dates:
1/10 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
1/11 Denver, CO Fillmore Auditorium
1/12 Kansas City, MO Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1/13 St. Paul, MN Myth Live
1/15 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
1/17 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE – Indoor
1/18 Grand Rapids, MI 20 Monroe Live
1/19 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Club Stage
1/20 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
2/2 Worcester, MA Palladium
2/3 Portland, ME State Theatre
2/4 Montreal, QC M Telus
2/5 Toronto, ON Rebel
2/7 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
2/8 New York, NY Terminal 5
2/9 Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live
2/10 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
2/12 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
2/13 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
2/14 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
2/16 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live
2/17 Houston, TX House of Blues
2/19 Albuquerque, NM El Rey Theater
2/20 Tempe, AZ The Marquee
2/22 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
2/23 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
2/24 Seattle, WA Showbox SoDo
2/25 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
2/27 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory Concert House
3/1 San Francisco, CA The Warfield Theatre
3/2 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues

Black Veil Brides Announce New Album “Vale”

BLACK VEIL BRIDES ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM VALE OUT JANUARY 12, 2018, PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE TODAY UNLEASHES TWO NEW SONGS “MY VOW” & “THE OUTSIDER”

BAND ANNOUNCES BVB ARMY PHONE NUMBER FOR FANS

NORTH AMERICAN CO-HEADLINE TOUR DATES WITH ASKING ALEXANDRIA ON SALE TODAY

NEW YORK, NY (September 29, 2017) — After quietly fueling fan anticipation over the past month, BLACK VEIL BRIDES share the details for their anxiously awaited fifth full-length album, VALE [LAVA/Republic Records]—available, January 12, 2018. Pre-Order VALE Here!

The official pre-order grants fans immediate downloads of the first two songs to be released off VALE, “My Vow” and “The Outsider” which was released online last year. Listen to “My Vow” Here and “The Outsider” Here!

Produced by longtime collaborator John Feldmann [blink-182, Panic! At the Disco], VALE sees BLACK VEIL BRIDES sharpen their signature sound to knife point precision.

On the album, front man Andy Biersack stated: “We cannot wait for the BVB army to hear VALE in its entirety! In my opinion, this record is the most complete and exciting album we have done to date. The opportunity to work with John Feldmann once again over the course of the past 2 years creating VALE was an incredible experience and I am thrilled with the collection of songs we have put together as a band. The Latin translation of VALE is “be well, be strong!” and central to the message of this record. We hope to continue to inspire our fans and friends to embrace their own individuality and inner strength. The central narrative once again finds “The Wild Ones” characters facing the challenge of moving on from the pain and anguish of their past and looking to a new chapter in their lives. This concept is one that is near to my heart and I believe will resonate with those that find themselves cast on the fringe of society. From our inception Black Veil Brides have stood up for the outcasts and disenfranchised, with this album as hope to give you hope, fun and most importantly a kick ass rock and roll record.

The band hits the road on January 10th, 2018 for their North American co-headline tour with Asking Alexandria in Salt Lake City and will hit major markets across the country including New York’s Terminal 5 on February 8th and more! Tickets are on-sale now. Check out the full itinerary below and purchase tickets here!

This week, the band announced an official BVB Army phone number as a new way for fans to keep up with the group. Join the new BVB ARMY and be the first to get news by Text Message! Sign up at www.BVBARMY.com OR Text BVBV to 856-282-2769

Get ready for the band’s biggest year yet.

Tour Dates:
1/10 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
1/11 Denver, CO Fillmore Auditorium
1/12 Kansas City, MO Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1/13 St. Paul, MN Myth Live
1/15 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
1/17 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE – Indoor
1/18 Grand Rapids, MI 20 Monroe Live
1/19 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Club Stage
1/20 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
2/2 Worcester, MA Palladium
2/3 Portland, ME State Theatre
2/4 Montreal, QC M Telus
2/5 Toronto, ON Rebel
2/7 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
2/8 New York, NY Terminal 5
2/9 Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live
2/10 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
2/12 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
2/13 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
2/14 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
2/16 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live
2/17 Houston, TX House of Blues
2/19 Albuquerque, NM El Rey Theater
2/20 Tempe, AZ The Marquee
2/22 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
2/23 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
2/24 Seattle, WA Showbox SoDo
2/25 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
2/27 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory Concert House
3/1 San Francisco, CA The Warfield Theatre
3/2 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues

Black Veil Brides Announce Co-Headlining Tour w/ Asking Alexandria

BLACK VEIL BRIDES ANNOUNCE MASSIVE 2018 CO-HEADLINE TOUR WITH ASKING ALEXANDRIA
TICKETS GO ON SALE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) — BLACK VEIL BRIDES are back. To launch into 2018, the Los Angeles rock powerhouse will embark on a North American co-headline tour with Asking Alexandria kicking off January 10 at The Complex in Salt Lake City, UT, rolling through major markets coast to coast, and concluding in Sin City Las Vegas, NV at House of Blues on March 2.

Crown The Empire will act as support on all dates. Tickets are go on sale on Friday, September 29th. Get them HERE. Check out the full itinerary below.

BLACK VEIL BRIDES remain synonymous with explosive live performance. Be sure to catch them on this run!

BLACK VEIL BRIDES have shocked and electrified modern rock back to life. Their critically acclaimed self-titled fourth album, Black Veil Brides, bowed in the Top of the Billboard Top 200 and received “Album of the Year” at the 2015 Alternative Press Music Awards. It followed up 2013’s Wretched and Divine, which crashed the Top 200 at #7 and yielded the signature smash “In The End” proclaimed “Song of the Year” at the Revolver Golden God Awards. Playing to millions of rabid fans worldwide, they’ve ignited festivals such as Download and Rock on the Range and been tapped for high-profile tours with Avenged Sevenfold, Slash, Mötley Crüe, Hollywood Undead, and more.

Tour Dates:
1/10 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
1/11 Denver, CO Fillmore Auditorium
1/12 Kansas City, MO Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1/13 St. Paul, MN Myth Live
1/15 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
1/17 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE – Indoor
1/18 Grand Rapids, MI 20 Monroe Live
1/19 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Club Stage
1/20 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
2/2 Worcester, MA Palladium
2/3 Portland, ME State Theatre
2/4 Montreal, QC M Telus
2/5 Toronto, ON Rebel
2/7 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
2/8 New York, NY Terminal 5
2/9 Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live
2/10 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
2/12 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
2/13 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
2/14 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
2/16 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live
2/17 Houston, TX House of Blues
2/19 Albuquerque, NM El Rey Theater
2/20 Tempe, AZ The Marquee
2/22 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
2/23 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
2/24 Seattle, WA Showbox SoDo
2/25 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
2/27 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory Concert House
3/1 San Francisco, CA The Warfield Theatre
3/2 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues

Blu-ray Review “Orange Is The New Black: Season Four”

Actors: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Harney, Nick Sandow
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Run Time: 778 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras’: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The fourth season of Orange Is The New Black proves this show gets better and better with each new season. It is darker, gritty, funnier, crazier! Just all around great! This show is showing no signs of slowing down at all. The cast is all simply amazing together. The story for this season just brings this show to a whole new level of great. I can’t wait to see what is in store for season 5!

Season 4 Premise: New faces and old resentments make for a potentially volatile blend, especially now that Litchfield is a for-profit business. Overrun with new inmates and overseen by inexperienced guards, the prison undergoes an unprecedented culture war.

The 1080p transfer of the episodes looks great. The colors are crisp and even though the prison is drab. The flashbacks and outside scenes are well represented. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works as well with no issues and spotlights the movie well. The special features are not the best to be honest, There are only two audio commentary tracks include as well as a tour of Litchfield and a gag reel included.

 

Related Content

Blu-ray Review “Black Sails: The Complete Third Season”

Actors: Toby Stephens, Ray Stevenson, Zach McGowan, Luke Arnold, Jessica Parker Kennedy
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2016
Run Time: 549 minutes

Season: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Black Sails is a great show that really hasn’t been giving proper credit since it aired. The show is grand and very epic. The characters are well fleshed out and each season has been improving on the next. The scope of this show is just so huge and it feels like a massive “Game of Thrones” style world…yet the masses have not caught on. Anchor Bay has still been behind giving this show a solid Blu-ray presentation since day one. The 1080p transfer on these episodes are just gorgeous. They make all the work that this show takes to put together and shows it off very well. This release also comes stock with epic Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks, which will rattle your bones! Alas, the next season will be the series finale. I am very curious to how how this show cruises to its conclusion in season four.

Official Season Premise: In the wake of the burning of Charles Town, all the New World lives in fear of Captain Flint. But when his campaign of terror crosses over into madness, and new threats emerge to challenge his supremacy, it falls to John Silver to locate the man within the monster, before Flint’s war against the world consumes them all. Meanwhile, on the pirate island of Nassau, it’s a new day. With Eleanor Guthrie facing judgment in London, Jack Rackham sits atop a fortune in Spanish gold, hoping to secure his legacy as a king among thieves. To do so, he’ll have to compete with the return of one of history’s most notorious captains, who holds a different vision for their home, as well as a complicated past with Rackham’s chief ally, Captain Charles Vane. All will be tested when a new opponent arrives to claim Nassau, one the pirates could never have anticipated. It knows them. It understands them. And in the blink of an eye, it will do the one thing they never thought possible… turn them against each other.

The special feature are a little light this go around but some decent content still included. There is a good refresher from what happened last season in the “Season 2 Recap”. The best feature is an episode-by-episode in depth behind-the-scenes look at all aspects of the show in “Inside the World of Black Sails”. The next feature “The Storm” shows how they created the visual marvel in the second episode of this season. “A Pirate’s Last Words” looks into the big season spoiler, which I will not reveal. “Blackbeard: An 18th Century Pirate” focuses on the debut of the legendary character to the show. Lastly “Woodes Rogers” examines one of the season’s newest character. Missing here that would be been amazing would have been some commentary tracks, if you are reading this for season four release Anchor Bay!

John Doe discusses his new album “The Westerner” and his book “Under the Big Black Sun”

(Photo Credit: Jim Herrington)

John Doe is a singer, songwriter, poet and actor. He is probably best known for his work with the seminal Los Angeles punk band X which formed in the mid 1970’s. 2016 has been a busy for year for Doe as earlier this year he released his first solo album in five years titled “The Westerner” along with a book chronicling the L.A. punk scene titled “Under the Big Black Sun”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with John recently before his performance in Ithaca, NY about the idea behind his new album and what it was like revisiting the stories contained in his book.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “The Westerner”?

John Doe: My friend Michael Blake who wrote “Dances with Wolves” and several other books was like a brother to me. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and over time couldn’t remember anything. It bugged the hell out of him but we remained close through everything and I would always go up and visit him. We influenced each other a lot in art and writing. Howe Gelb and I were reconnecting around the same as I was writing songs about Michael and using him as a character. I like what Howe has done with different peoples sound as well as his own in Giant Sand. He has really refocused the sound coming out of the Tucson area. I wanted the songs to have space and reverb so working down there seemed like the natural way to go. I had the title “The Westerner” sort in my mind as someone sent me a Doors record. The Doors were also Michaels favorite band so I began looking up stuff on them and my connection with that band goes way back. I was searching the internet and found an image done for one of their record store day releases. Shepard Fairey is the artist who did the piece and he and I have been friends for some time so I asked if he would redo the piece for me and he said yes. The original photo was shot at the Rose Bud Reservation by Aaron Huey who has an organization called “Protect the Sacred”. This was one of Michael’s main charities so it was great to be able to tie all this stuff in with the album. The album is a tribute album but it’s not sad.

AL: Was the idea to do a new solo album already in your thoughts prior to Michael becoming ill?

JD: Everything happened very organically. These days I sort of sit back and look at my watch and say “Holy shit it’s been 4 years since I made a new record” (Laughs). I always am writing bits and pieces of things but it just so happened that Michael was on my mind and I started to see how things were happening and I began tailoring things with what was going on. I loved the song Exene wrote called “Alone in Arizona”. It seemed to be kind of about Michael even though it really wasn’t. I am a big fan of Chan Marshall especially her albums “The Greatest” and “Sun”. I started doing the song “A Little Help” and realized it was similar to “The Greatest” and asked Chan if she would sing on it with me. With the song “Go Baby Go” I reached out to Debbie Harry as X had toured with Blondie and I had asked her before that if I ever had something I thought she would be good for would she do it. That song is a fun rock song and it worked out great. I am very fortunate that I am still around and that people want to come and play.

AL: Having been in the music industry for some time now aside from digitalization and the internet what has been the most notable change?

JD: MTV was really big when it first came out. All the other stuff out there I don’t really concern myself with. I have Instagram and my manager does Facebook so I have a small to moderate presence with social media but if people really want to see me then I think they should come out to show as I am generally hanging around. There is so much great music out there these days that it’s hard to rise above the static. Think of the old music business like an hour glass. You had the music at the top, at the pinching point was the business at the bottom was the public. Over time the shape of the industry changes to where now it’s square. There is just so much stuff flooding people ears these days.

AL: What can you tell us about your new book “Under the Big Black Sun”?

JD: Tom DeSavia who is the co-author and my sweet heart were both telling me that I should write a book. I thought it was going to be just too much work so I didn’t really pay attention to them. One day I had this brilliant idea about how the scene in L.A. was about community and collaboration. With that I knew that I wouldn’t have to write this book all by myself or suffer the pain if people didn’t like it I could just blame it on somebody else. (Laughs) I didn’t have to be the authority on things. I liked book such as “Please Kill Me” and “We Got the Neutron Bomb” however there is not a lot of fact checking that goes into oral histories. Los Angeles was sort of a romantic place in that era so I thought it was important to have it be its own character. I really feel that everything that is Los Angeles from the weather to the cars affected the way the music sounded. After Tom and I decided to do it we got a book deal and things became real. We got paid a pretty good advance and then we knew we really had to go through with it. We started getting people together and selecting topics based on what was important to that scene and what would make people care. The big one was it was that what happened was a cultural revolution. That was Exene’s big part of the book. Dave Alvin was part of the roots scene which got pulled into punk rock so he is the expert there so, that’s where he tells his story from. Robert Lopez was in a Latino band called The Zeroes. He was not out at this time but he was obviously gay so he was able to talk about that aspect of things. Jane Wiedlin talks about where people lived and how that played a role. By doing things this way we were able to give the book a much broader perspective.

AL: The book shines a light on the L.A. punk scene as it was/is often overshadowed by what was going on in New York and London around the same time. Can you tell us a little about that?

JD: I think at some point the media picked up on The Sex Pistols and few other bands that were young and/or un-experienced who said “Fuck You”. The media then said “Ok, Fuck you” which caused them to not cover things as much. When the L.A. scene finally came around about a year and a half later they possibly had enough images and maybe had made up their mind that we weren’t going to play ball. I think bands like Blondie, Talking Heads and The Ramones just wanted to be part of music and have a career. That’s what we wanted also. It wasn’t until the hardcore scene that people felt like they had been abandoned leading to bands doing things on their own. That’s when labels like SST started popping up. Everyone had sort of a chip on their shoulder and over time L.A. punk has started to carve out its own niche which has been good. Twenty or thirty years ago I would have probably been pretty bent out of shape about how the L.A. scene was looked upon but these days I couldn’t care less.

AL: Was there a present rivalry between the two coasts/scenes because of this?

JD: Sure. I think there was a healthy rivalry between New York and L.A. and L.A. and San Francisco but it wasn’t anything to wild. I do remember Exene getting into a fight with Handsome Dick from The Dictators once. (Laughs) What we loved about the whole thing was that almost all of those bands came out to Los Angeles to play at The Whiskey. We saw The Ramones, Blondie, The Damned, Television and a few others who played out our way regularly.

AL: What was it like for X when they would travel to the east coast?

JD: It was rough at first. Exene’s sister got us three shows in NYC in 1978 after we put out our first single. We basically drove from L.A. to New York with all of our gear, played three shows and then drove home. There is a little of that in the book but it was sort of a lukewarm reception. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein came to the shows at Studio 57 and later on we got to be pals with The Ramones. It took a little while because everyone thought L.A. was just swimming pools and Farrah Fawcett. You weren’t just given a Mercedes when you moved there. It was a pretty hard scramble. It was cheap to live there at the time though so there were a lot of young people with nothing to do but create stuff.

AL: What was it like revisiting a lot of the memories from that time period, especially the ones around the time of the death of Exene’s sister?

JD: That specific event wasn’t hard to dig into as I had experienced it so deeply in the beginning. It changed everything for Exene and by relation me too. It wasn’t too hard to look back. I don’t necessarily wish I had kept diaries or anything. It might have been good? You sort of start channeling towards a certain direction and things start to come back. I think it’s all about the details. I worked with everyone who wrote for the book and I always asked for more details. I think everyone was happy to tell their story and I was surprised by quite a few of them.

AL: With your current solo tour coming to end do you have planned for the coming year?

JD: The fortieth anniversary of X is coming up next year. We have the initial schedule which consists of around one hundred shows! Usually we do between thirty and fifty shows a year so this is quite a bit more. I think it’s great! Forty years ago we put a big investment into the bank of punk rock. At the time everyone though it was bullshit but we all have been able to make pretty good careers out of that initial investment. We are one of the few remaining punk bands from that time with its original members. Everyone is healthy now which is really great. We also will be looking to put out some live material and if Exene will write some more lyrics will put out some new songs as well. (Laughs)

Book Review: Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”
Author: John Doe w/ Tom DeSavia and Friends
Da Capo Press
Hardcover: 227 pages

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” was written by X vocalist/bassist John Doe along with help from Tom DeSavia and laundry list of who’s who from the late 70’s and early 80’s L.A. punk scene. For the first time in one place the true story of a scene often overlooked is told in all of its gritty and grimy detail by none other those who experienced it and by those who helped create it. This is not your typical memoir however as this book tells not only of how the scene began and developed but also how it went on to change music forever.

Before I get into my review of the book I want to point out that if you are unfamiliar with the scene this book documents or the bands that appear grab a copy of Penelope Spheeris film “The Decline of Western Civilization” as a majority of the people’s names and a lot of the places featured in the film coincide with those who are also in the book. After a very brief forward by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong we are quickly whisked back to the not so glamorous side of Los Angeles. Just a few brief years before hair metal would dominate the sun set strip bands like X, Black Flag and the Minute Men were the bands to go see. John Doe does a great job recounting his stories from this era with vivid detail and truthfulness that make you want to keep turning the page. As an added element to Doe’s story there is often even more colorful commentary provided by other musicians or friends who were there to experience everything as well. Not only does this add different angles to a previously told story but it fills in gaps with intricate firsthand accounts. For me this only pulled me further into the already captivating story. To go along with the stories there are several black and white photo sections which are chocked full of rare photos that by themselves are worth the price of the book.

From cover to cover Doe and DeSavia and crew nail it. Aside from actually being around during this specific time I don’t think you could get any closer nor could it be anymore real. There were a few times when I wished Doe had kept going from his perspective as sometimes when the story teller switched you were in a sense re-reading some of what was just told however, that aside “Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” is a great book for not only punk rock fans and music but for those wanting to learn about a period of time in Los Angeles that isn’t sugar coated with all the normal glitz and glamour LaLa Land is often associated.

 

Related Content

CD Review: Motorhead “Black Magic”

“Black Magic”
Motorhead
UDR
Producer: Cameron Webb
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Motorhead the band that goes one louder brings you their latest studio offering “Bad Magic”. The album which was produced by Cameron Webb and released via UDR is the bands 22nd studio album and features 12 brand new tracks from the Lemmy Kilmister fronted group along with a unique cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil”.

For me personally Motorhead ranks right up there as one of the most killer hard rock/heavy metal bands. Not only has the band been rattling speakers since the mid 70’s but they are one of the few solid acts from that era still putting out new music on a regular basis that still holds true to the bands original sound and style. “Bad Magic” is the latest offering from the band and sadly I just couldn’t get into the album. From a production standpoint the album is very tinny with little to no low end. At first I had thought something was wrong with my speakers but after about the 5th track I realized it was what it was. Though there were some notable performances such as the aggressive “Evil Eye” which features some great drumming by Mikkey Dee and the ballad like “Till the End” which contains an impressive solo from Mr. Phil Campbell other mentionable high points were few and far between.

Ultimate Motorhead fans will certainly want this for their collections because where else are you going to find Lemmy performing a Rolling Stones track? However if you’re a more casual listener or looking for a starting point in Motorhead’s impressive recording career I highly suggest starting at the beginning and working your way forward.

Track Listing:
1.) Victory or Die
2.) Thunder & Lightning
3.) Fire Storm Hotel
4.) Shoot Out All of Your Lights
5.) The Devil
6.) Electricity
7.) Evil Eye
8.) Teach Them How to Bleed
9.) Till the End
10.) Tell Me Who to Kill
11.) Choking on Your Screams
12.) When the Sky Comes Looking for You
13.) Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones Cover)

Film Review “Black Mass”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 2 mins
Warner Bros

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Some actors have the ability to lose themselves in a character. Some don’t. Among the best is Johnny Depp, who has built a career playing characters as diverse as Gilbert Grape and Jack Sparrow. But as real-life mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, Depp may have found his greatest performance.

“I just want to say one thing for the record,” a former bad guy tells the authorities. “I’m not a rat.” Rats seem to be the one thing no one wants to be, or be around, in South Boston in 1975. Here the streets are run by “Whitey” Bulger (Depp), a man so feared that to cross him almost always means death. With his snake-like eyes that never seem to blink, just a glance sends most people running the other way. But Whitey is also a loving father and all-around good guy to those he knows. When he sees a former teacher of his carrying groceries he stops his car and has his men not only take them home but put them away as well. What a nice guy!

Fast moving and full of great performances, “Black Mass” is a welcome return to the big screen of the Johnny Depp we admired 20 years ago! He is joined by Edgerton, who plays local boy/now grown-up FBI agent John Connolly. Connolly has been tasked by his superiors to clean up South Boston, and he strikes an almost un-holy bond with Whitey. Whitey will provide information on rival gangsters to the Feds while they will turn their back on his activities, providing he doesn’t murder anyone, which is a pretty hard promise for Whitey to keep. Another fly in the ointment is the fact that Bulger’s brother, Billy, is a state senator, which can make for an uncomfortable dinner party.

As things get worse in Southie, Connolly must find ways to show that Whitey is a productive informant. Of course, this leads to big arrests which lead to raises and a bigger office. Soon Connolly is wearing fancy suits and gold watches, which draws the curiosity of his superior (Kevin Bacon, still in Boston-mode from “Mystic River”). As Connolly, Edgerton is amazing. If you include his amazing writing/directing debut with last month’s “The Gift,” this has been one hell of a year for him. But the top draw here is Depp, who loses himself in the character completely.

If you’re not familiar with “Whitey Bulger,” think back to the Oscar winning Best Picture of 2006, “The Departed.” The character Jack Nicholson played was based on accounts of Bulger and while Nicholson played him well, his “Frank Costello” can’t hold a candle to the real thing!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Black Mass”

Media Mikes has teamed up with Warner Bros. to give (10) lucky readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp.

The screening will be held on Monday, September 14th at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza in Kansas City and will start at 7:30 p.m.

Enter here to get tickets now through Friday, Sept 11th. 10 winners and a guest will be notified on Saturday, Sept 12th.

Good luck!

BLACK MASS   In theaters on September 18

(Warner Bros. Pictures/Cross Creek Pictures/RatPac-Dune Entertainment)

Director:          Scott Cooper

Writers:            Screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth

Based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill     

Producers:       John Lesher, Brian Oliver, Scott Cooper, Patrick McCormick, Tyler Thompson

Executive Producers:   Brett Ratner, James Packer, Peter Mallouk, Ray Mallouk, Christopher Woodrow, Brett Granstaff, Gary Granstaff, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross

Cast:    Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, W. Earl Brown, David Harbour, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott, Juno Temple

Drama.  In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob.  The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.

This film has been rated R for  brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use.

BlackMassTheMovie.com

Blu-ray Review “The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death”

Starring: Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Adrian Rawlins, Oaklee Pendergast, Ned Dennehy, Hayley Joanne Bacon
Director: Tom Harper
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 2,5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I am nothing but excited Hammer Films is back in business making new horror. I was a big fan of the first “The Woman in Black”. Honestly though, “The Woman in Black” wasn’t a film that I was screaming for a sequel but the trailer for “Angel of Death”, looked creepy as well. Too bad, the film didn’t pan out at all. The scares were so tame, you barely even noticed them. The pace was way off and the story was didn’t draw me in at all.

Official Premise: The supernatural terror returns and unspeakable evil sets its sight on new prey when a group of orphaned children are forced to move into the abandoned Eel Marsh House with their caretakers, Eve and Jean. As the children begin to mysteriously disappear, Eve makes a shocking discovery…it may not be a coincidence that she has come to reside in a place inhabited by the murderous Woman in Black.

“The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death” was released as a combo pack with a BLu-ray and Digital HD copy. The 1080p transfer worked with the dark and dreary conditions. Like the first film, the shooting locations have that certain Hammer charm today and look great on Blu-ray. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks delivers everything that you would expect from a horror film.

Like the film itself, the special features are quite the let down as well. First off is “Pulling Back the Veil: The Woman in Black 2”, which includes behind-the-scenes footage with interviews mixed in. There is also “The Woman in Black 2: Chilling Locations”, which briefly looks into the shooting locations for the film. Lastly there is a deleted scene and trailer included.

Prong’s Tommy Victor talks about new album “Songs From the Black Hole”

Tommy Victor is the lead singer/guitarist for the heavy metal band Prong. The band has been pummeling people’s ear drums since the late 80’s and has recently released an album of cover material titled “Songs From the Black Hole”. The album is a throwback to the bands early roots based in the NY/DC Hardcore scenes and consists of tracks by bands such as Discharge, Killing Joke and Bad Brains. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Tommy recently about the album and the bands plans for the upcoming tour season.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background as to why you chose to release an album of covers as opposed to an album of new Prong material?
Tommy Victor: We put out a traditional release not too long ago titled “Burning Alive”. We did a lot of touring around that last year which didn’t leave a lot of time to go in and do an actual studio record. We had some time off in Berlin during a festival tour run so instead of sending everyone home we had though to maybe start working on new material however my manager mentioned the idea this covers album to put out via sound cloud or something like that . I knew it would take a little bit of work but as I started investigating which songs to do I started getting more excited about it. By the time we went in and cut the record a lot of the songs had really great arrangements. Jason Christopher and I picked most of the songs and the initial rehearsal session went so well that we decided to get the label involved. It started as this small thing just to kill time but everyone got real excited about it. It was very natural and nothing was forced. That seems to be the way Prong has been rolling these days.

AL: How did the song decision process work between you and Jason?
TV: I had talked to a couple of old friends from back in the day in New York just to be reminded of where we came from a little bit. That was the frame work for a lot of this. Jason knowing that was able to compile a nice list of songs and I supplemented that with a couple of other songs but he pretty much nailed it. Knowing my vocal style and from talking with me and some friends the selection process wasn’t that difficult. We knew we wanted a Black Flag and Discharge song on there and to do a Killing Joke song was obvious. They are my personal favorite group of all time. Bad Brains is another band that influenced not just Prong but countless other bands and music styles. A lot of the choices were very obvious. The Neil Young song is the one that is much different from the rest. We wanted a longer song that could expose our simplicity while still getting a point across. It’s one of Neil’s songs that has been noted as having a good guitar solo so I wanted to try and tackle it and challenge myself. Having a love for all of these bands I think made things come together very nicely.

AL: Was it a conscious decision to do more obscure tracks as opposed to some of the bands better known songs?
TV: A little bit. There were a number of songs mentioned but some of them just seemed too typical. For example I am a fan of the later Black Flag albums which are often ignored but they are albums that influenced me. “The Bars” was the song we ended up choosing from them as it fit our style. There were countless Killing Joke songs we could have done but we chose “Seeing Red” and then for Husker Du we chose probably their most popular song “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely”. There really wasn’t any specific formula for the song selection.

AL: Were there any songs you guys did that didn’t make the album?
TV: There were a couple that I personally liked but they didn’t have as much connection to Prong as the ones that did make the album. We didn’t want to mix in the metal influence with this album as it’s a whole other ball game. There is a definite theme with the NY roots and some of the other songs just didn’t fit with the specifications we set. We wanted to make sure this wasn’t just a hodgepodge of songs and that each song meant something to us and was something that influenced Prong and/or our sound.

AL: The album has some pretty unique artwork. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
TV: Initially there was a guy in Berlin who had been doing a lot of our t-shirts and such however he wasn’t available for this project. I mentioned Mike Lopez to the label and told them I already had a bunch of ideas for how I wanted the cover took look. He took those ideas and came up with a great package. It was a process as we exchanged ideas back and forth for a few weeks. I wanted the artwork to reflect the origins of Prong and where we came from in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That is a place that doesn’t really exist anymore. We came from this rat infested, party atmosphere where everyone just went crazy. That whole area has changed now but when we were growing up there it was a lot of violence and crime. It was very chaotic. Mike took all that stuff and put it together into what you see on the cover of this album.

AL: What type of tour plans are you planning in support of this release?
TV: We have a tour scheduled for Europe in the coming weeks. After that we have a very large tour set for the States starting in October. To get all the dates people can check out www.prongmusic.com