U2 - No Line on the Horizon

After seeing U2’s limp debut performance of the song “Get on your Boots” during the Grammy telecast last month, I was all too ready to dismissed their latest release as weak filler from a “legacy band” struggling to keep relevant. But now that I’ve actually listened to No Line On The Horizon for the last couple weeks, I’m relieved to say that the new album is a lot stronger than I expected. I suppose it’s easy to be a bit cynical about one of the world’s most popular rock bands especially with someone as outspoken as Bono as your frontman. But with No Line on the Horizon, they demonstrate once again that they’re still capable of delivering the goods.

With familiar faces behind the recording console (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite), the band plows through the new material with energetic enthusiasm. Honestly, it’s not a perfect album and definitely won’t be considered their *best* album but there are some moments of bliss sprinkled throughout that keep the listener coming back for more. The multilayered aspect of the recordings provide listeners depth when the album is put on repeat. Indeed, there are some missteps such as those clunky techno-speak lyrics in “Unknown Caller” (Force quit and move to trash, Restart and re-boot yourself). But overall, NLOTH is an enjoyable album, nonetheless.

Spinal Tap - Unwigged and Unplugged

Who would have thought that Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer would continue on as “Spinal Tap” all these years after the initial release of their groundbreaking mockumentary back in 1984??? Well, the musical joke has stood the test of time and the movie never gets old, in my book. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film “This is Spinal Tap”, the trio will be out on the road for a 30-date concert tour. The new twist on this outing is that they’ll be on stage without the wigs, spandex and the elaborate stage show, hence the title - “Unwigged & Unplugged”. Expect acoustic versions of classic Spinal Tap songs as well as material from the comedy trio’s folk parody A Mighty Wind. Personally I’d love to see the Tap in all their glory with amps turned up to “11″ but I guess with the economy the way it is, doing a no-frills acoustic tour is the way it has to be for now. Go out and see them beginning in April.

Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla

I guess at this stage in the game, Keith Emerson won’t be going out of his way to try and win over new fans. Legacy artists like Emerson already have a built-in fan base to feed off of. All they have to do is release product that’ll connect with all those existing fans. And I’m pretty sure that was part of the plan with Emerson’s latest release - Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla . Long time listeners of Emerson, Lake and Palmer will feel right at home with this new album. The basic elements from ELP are all here - bombastic prog fused with classical bits along with some melodic rock thrown in for good measure. There’s even the requisite honky-tonk number on the album (”Gametime”). I totally enjoy Emerson’s playing and would have personally preferred a completely instrumental album. He’s got some great musicians here including Marc Bonilla on guitar and Gregg Bissonette on drums but whenever Bonilla starts singing, it just feels derivative of ELP’s past work. Bonilla even sounds sort of like Greg Lake. “A Place to Hide” is probably the most listenable vocal-based track on the album but most of the others are just marred with clunky lyrics and bland melodies.

..and we’re back!

Man, running a website isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s not like you just post articles at your leisure and let things run by themselves. There always seems to be issues on the backend that need tending to - including application upgrades, moderating comments, promoting the site, reviewing site stats, trying to build up ad revenue (a penny at a time) and of course dreaded SERVER issues. So, yesterday we had two major server issues to deal with. My webhost decided to migrate my websites over to a different server and for some reason the new server had some sort of cache issue which caused my blog to only display one particular post no matter which post or area you select.

For example, if you tried to use my “contact page” or use the discussion forums, the blog would simply display my “Jon and Kate plus 8″ post no matter what you do. It was very frustrating to say the least. And then on top of that, the server went DOWN by the end of the afternoon. I spent most of the afternoon as well as the evening going back and forth with my webhost’s customer support trying to explain the problems I was seeing. Once the server got back up and running, the support staff finally decided to disable the cache mechanism on the server which helped solve the weird “frozen” effect of my blog. Hopefully things will run smoother now. Please let me know if you notice any other issues on the site.