wshaffer: (Default)

September 2017

     1 2

Custom Text

Most Popular Tags

There's a meme going around on where people list the ten most influential albums of their teenage years. What are the odds of my being able to resist that? I am going to try to resist the temptation to make myself look cooler than I was. And I'm going to try to link to a track from each album on Youtube.

1. First and Last and Always by The Sisters of Mercy.
If you were my friend when I was between 14 and 18, I undoubtedly forced you to listen to this album. If you're my friend now, the only reason I haven't forced you to listen to this album is because I'm somewhat more socially ept about that sort of thing. (Somewhat.)

I'm linking the track, "Nine While Nine", which is one of my favorites on the album not just for musical reasons, but because the title is a rather lovely Northern English expression for "from nine in the morning until nine in the evening" and my fondness for unusual idioms goes back at least as far as my affection for gothic rock:

2. Children by The Mission U.K.
Maybe this one ought to be at number one, because this was the album through which I discovered the entire genre of gothic rock. I bought this album on the strength of a single paragraph review in Rolling Stone or maybe Spin, which compared one of the tracks to something by Led Zeppelin.

This track, "Beyond the Pale", is the first thing I heard when I popped that brand-new cassette into my Walkman:

3. Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin.
I arguably ought to include the entire Led Zeppelin discography, because I was saturated in it through my teenage years. My local rock radio stations (in both Orlando and San Diego), regularly did a "get the Led out" feature at 9pm where they played 3 Zeppelin songs, and I regularly tuned in. But I don't think I actually owned every single Led Zeppelin album, and Led Zeppelin IV was almost certainly the first one I purchased. And when I moved to California at age 16, Led Zeppelin IV was the album I chose to listen to on the plane flight, largely for the song "Going to California." (I can be horribly literal in soundtracking my life, sometimes.)

I'll link to "Going to California," because you've probably all heard, "Black Dog," "Battle of Evermore," or "Stairway to Heaven" waaaay too many times:

4. Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police.
I could probably also include The Police's Synchronicity or Sting's The Dream of the Blue Turtles, but I remember a period of time where I listened to Zenyatta Mondatta a lot.

Linking to "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da":

5. ...And Justice for All by Metallica.
The first heavy metal show I went to was Metallica touring for ...And Justice for All. I purchased my first band t-shirt at that show. And I learned to never, ever go see a metal band without ear plugs. Metallica was probably the band that changed me from "a person who liked some heavy metal" to a metalhead. For many years, I firmly believed that ...And Justice for All was the last good album Metallica made. I've since come around to the opinion that The Black Album is pretty solid, but it took me 24 years, because The Black Album is not ...And Justice for All.

I'm linking to "One." I remember tuning into MTV to catch the world premiere of this:

6. The Best of New Order by New Order.
One summer all the boys I had a crush on were into New Order, so I got a The Best of New Order CD. I never got anywhere with any of the boys, but New Order went everywhere with me after that. I remember going on a road trip to visit East Coast colleges with a bunch of other teenage girls. We listened to a lot of New Order because it was the only musical artist we all liked. They made me sit through a lot of Andrew Lloyd Weber. I am now amazed that they all sat through an entire play through of Kings X's Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, but at the time I was put out that rather than being won over by its musical genius, they just decided I was a weirdo.

Linking to "Blue Monday-88":

7. Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden.
When grunge got big, I listened to Nirvana and Pearl Jam along with everyone else, but the Seattle band that I really fell in love with was Soundgarden. That's not surprising - Soundgarden were always much more upfront about their heavy metal influences than anyone else in that scene. They were just unapologetically loud, sweaty, and heavy and I love them for it. Daniel got me tickets to see them live for my 18th birthday. I had already decided he was a keeper long before then, but if there'd been any doubt...

Linking to "Outshined". This song (with several others by Soundgarden) is on my gym workout playlist:

8. Tommy by The Who.
When CDs were first a thing, and they were hugely expensive compared to cassette tapes, one of the first CDs I got was Tommy by The Who. I actually can't quite remember if I bought it or my dad did. I remember that I got my dad into Tommy, but I can't remember if I that happened when I owned it on tape or only after I got the CD. For a brief period when CDs were new, my dad and I pretty much shared our tiny collection. He got me into Janis Joplin and I got him into The Who.

Linking "Pinball Wizard":

9. The Joshua Tree by U2.
U2 have just announced a tour in honor of the 30th anniversary of this album. Wow. When this album was released, my local rock radio station decided to play the track, "Bullet the Blue Sky" in heavy rotation even though it wasn't one of the album's official singles. The first time I heard it, it made my hair stand on end. It's not very representative of the sound of the rest of the album, but I loved the rest of the album as well. And I loved all of U2's previous albums, which I quickly bought. I utterly bounced off their followup album Achtung Baby, and while I have respect for some of the music they've produced since, I can't really call myself a fan anymore. But I might just see if I can get a ticket to see them play The Joshua Tree.

Linking to "Bullet the Blue Sky":

10. Appetite for Destruction by Guns-N-Roses.
Before the original line-up fell apart, before all curbs on Axl Rose's ego evaporated, before the band took a decade to record an album that nobody gave a damn about by the time it was released, there was a magical summer spent glued to MTV wondering how Axl's hips did that. And like every other guitarist on the planet, I learned the opening riff from "Sweet Child O'Mine".

Linking to "Sweet Child O'Mine":
I can't remember whether I mentioned it here before, but I bought a new phone recently. I got an iPhone SE - I was pretty happy with my old iPhone 5 and I probably wouldn't even have bothered to upgrade for a while except that the screen was falling off. When I bought the iPhone SE, I was pretty much expecting to get an iPhone 5 with more storage and a somewhat better camera, and I was happy with that.

However, on Monday, I went to a concert at the Oakland Metro, and I discovered something that completely blows my mind. I took some video of the headlining band, because I wanted to show Daniel a little bit of what the show was like. Now, most cell phone videos taken at concerts sound like crap, because the music is just so loud that it overloads the sound inputs and you get tons of clipping. So, I was very pleasantly surprised when I played the video back and it sounded like this:

Somebody in Apple marketing is missing a trick somewhere. Because if someone had told me, "Get an iPhone SE and you can record listenable concert video even in the second row at the Oakland Metro," I'd have upgraded ages ago.
The VMware Information Experience team has started a new video series called Blogger Talk, where we interview VMware bloggers about their favorite topics. I talked to Mike Foley about vSphere security topics like why a VM escape is unlikely on ESXi, how to deal with internal security threats, and how to use the vSphere Hardening Guide.

Please like, comment, or share if you are so inclined.

(no subject)

Jun. 16th, 2016 11:47 am
wshaffer: (Default)
Some days you* just need a fresh dose of Swedish symphonic metal. Spotify found this one for me. I'm rather taken with it - it pretty much adheres to the standard formula (mournful soprano + growly baritone + chuggy guitars + synthesized strings + noodly keyboard solo), but there's a reason it's a standard formula. It works.

* For values of "you" equalling "me". Your mileage may vary.
Every time I hear this song, I can't help but be weirded out by the presence of an (inadvertent?) Audre Lorde reference in old school epic doom metal.

They've always said,
You can't destroy the Master's house with the Master's hammer
I laugh and say,
"I will use any tool I find to tear down his manor"

I love me some October Tide. They released the first song from their upcoming album today.

It was in Whole Foods yesterday, wearing my Maryland Deathfest T-shirt, and suddenly heard from behind me, "WOAH, SICK shirt, DUDE!" And I was reminded of this video.

I had a nice chat with two young Suffocation fans who were in line behind me, but fortunately they did not follow me to my car. :)

According to my new Fitbit, at the concert I attended last night, I took about 14,000 steps and climbed 7 flights of stairs. (I didn't actually climb any flights of stairs, but I guess if you jump up and down enough and/or wave your hands over your head, the device interprets that as an elevation change.)

Mind you, last night's headliner was Eluveitie, and they played a set consisting of 45 minutes of folk metal, 30 minutes of acoustic Irish folk music, and 45 more minutes of metal. I doubt the number of steps would have been that high if it had been an evening of funeral doom metal.

I am also amused that on the heart rate monitor data, I can pinpoint the time when the band asked everyone to dance and then played the following song. Got my heart rate right up into the Cardio Zone there.

Let It Go

Aug. 26th, 2015 02:09 pm
wshaffer: (ace)
Yesterday, I stumbled across this cover of "Let It Go" by the French deathcore band Betraying the Martyrs.

I'm not even generally that fond of deathcore, but this is well worth a listen. (If the growling vocals put you off, try to at least listen through the first chorus - from that point on, the song does a better job of balancing the harsh and melodic vocal elements.) I like the fact that, unlike many metal covers of pop songs, this isn't just a tongue-in-cheek exercise in seeing how silly you can make a pop tune sound with death growls and palm-muted guitar riffs stuck on it - it feels to me like the band genuinely put a lot of work into making the song work in a different genre. I actually think that if you somehow hadn't seen Frozen or heard the original song ever before, it might never occur to you that this song was not originally conceived as deathcore. Lyrically, it even fits pretty well into a long lineage of deathcore songs about alienation and power fantasy - although on average deathcore lyricists tend to use more swear words and more explicitly violent/destructive imagery.

I'm really liking Spotify's new "Discover Weekly" playlist. Every Monday, I get a new playlist of about 2 hours of songs that Spotify thinks I'll like, based on my previous listening history. It's much more varied and interesting than what I usually get out of Spotify radio, and requires less effort than manually clicking through a list of recommended artists and albums. It's kind of a stupidly simple idea, but it works.

One of my favorite discoveries to come out of this so far is a band called Unleash the Archers. Like all my favorite power metal, they go straight for that part of your brain that wanted to be your D&D character when you were twelve. Plus, lead their singer is pretty impressive.

Plus, they are totally rocking a Mad Max thing in this video:
I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Whew. Here we are at the end of this series. I hope you have discovered some music that you enjoyed, or at least been amused by the quantity and diversity of Finnish heavy metal. And that you'll consider voting for Helsinki as the site of the 2017 Worldcon!

I won't say I saved the best for last, but I saved a good one for last. Swallow the Sun are titans of the melodic death doom scene. This is "Descending Winters":

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Mirzadeh might be the first Finnish heavy metal band I ever heard. A few years back, when I decided I really wanted to broaden my knowledge of heavy metal outside of the U.S. and the U.K., I went and downloaded a bunch of free or cheap heavy metal compilations from various places. This was actually a terrible strategy for getting any kind of real overview of the international metal scene, especially since most of the compilations were just musical shovel-ware thrown together by record labels that wanted to get some promotion for their bands. But I did discover a few bands that stuck with me, Mirzadeh among them.

These guys need to work on their videos, though. Their first video featured the band wearing makeup and performing in the snow. This one features the band wearing makeup and performing on a green-screened mountain top. Not super original.

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Turisas produce some of the weirdest videos I've seen - and I have seen a lot of weird videos in the course of this series. It was tough to pick just one to post, but I settled on this cover of "Rasputin".

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Today's entry is by Sentenced, a band that broke up about a decade ago, but are still very fondly remembered. This is a fan made video, but I don't think this song ever got an official video, so what the heck.

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Today's video is "Location Cold" by Catamenia, and as fits the title, the video mostly features members of the band walking through the snow.

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Particularly alert listeners might notice that today's song is sung in Swedish rather than Finnish. Finland actually has a substantial number of Swedish speakers, and Finntroll's original singer was one of them.

I have no idea what this song's lyrics are about, but the message I take from the video is "don't trust a bunch of guys wearing pointy ears to detail your car."

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

I suppose you can't really do a series on Finnish metal without mentioning Children of Bodom. I'll admit that my favorite material of theirs are probably their wacky covers of non-metal songs, but their original material is good, too. This is "Downfall":

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Okay, after yesterday's rousing sing-a-long, how about some more funeral doom? Shape of Despair recently released their first new album in a number of years, and it's pretty spectacular. (Despite being named Monotony Fields.) Here's one of the songs from that album, "The Distant Dream of Life":
I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Today, we have Ensiferum, with "In My Sword I Trust". Go on, just try not singing along with that chorus. I dare you!

I'm posting a Finnish heavy metal video every day in June in support of the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Longer explanation here.

Here's some more gothic metal for you. "Rush" by Poisonblack.