[6-6-6] of 2017 Part 1: New Releases

With a few days left in the year, I figured it was my turn to add my two cents to the “best records of the year” like so many of the blogs I follow. Where I differ from these posts, though, is that I don’t always listen to brand new music all the time and often uncover stuff that came out decades before I was even born, choosing to spend my time with it instead. Therefore, I’m breaking this post down into three parts: my 6 favorite new releases for 2017, my 6 favorite NOT new releases I jammed the most in 2017, and the 6 songs I blasted the most — both new and old — in 2017.

All three sets are in no particular order.

This is Part 1/3


Mutoid ManWar Moans
Release Date: (June 2, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Afterlife; Kiss of Death; Headrush

The release date of War Moans marks the exact date I found out about these guys. Every Friday for the last year or so I check the Shit That Comes Out Today section of MetalSucks.net to see … what shit came out that day … and came across a favorably written review of this record. It sounded like something I would be into so I checked out the lead single Kiss of Death and was immediately hooked. From the chug-chug-chuging introduction and the man-making bass tone to the lyrical content and the melody with which it’s presented are unlike anything I’ve heard in a long time. No, I was not a fan of Cave In or Converge prior to this so don’t bother asking. I get it, you’re probably a bigger Brodsky fan than I am, and I don’t care. Mutoid Man rips. I said earlier that this is in no particular order, but this is easily #1.

The Lees of MemoryThe Blinding White Of Nothing At All
Release Date: (November 24, 2017 )
My Favorite Tracks: Bring it Home to Me; It’s Too Late to Change; Last Thing I Wanted to Do

It might be easy to say I only added this to my list because I’m friends with the guys in the band (former Superdrag bandmates Brandon Fisher and John Davis) and you could easily say that I’m partial because I helped with the layout of the CD and LP … and you wouldn’t be entirely incorrect. However, this ambitious double album really highlights the musical genius these guys possess. I’m a big fan of John as a songwriter anyway from Superdrag to his solo stuff to Epic Ditch and beyond, but in my opinion this record contains some of his best work. Running hardcore with the Freedom Rock banner, this record runs the gamut musically from bare-bones Velvet Underground-esque tunes to songs with nearly stoner-rock-level guitar solos. Would a lot of bands be stretching to fit 24 quality songs onto four sides? Probably. Just not these guys.

Lana Del ReyLust for Life
Release Date: (July 21, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Love; Tomorrow Never Came; Cherry

Everyone knows I love Lana Del Rey. And I love every one of her records. She’s one of my favorite singers of all time right up there with Amy Winehouse, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone. From her “First” record through to Paradise, Born to Die, Ultraviolence and Paradise, you listen to her voice and you hear pure beauty. There may be a lot of mystery and a lot of sadness, but it’s unmatched beauty. One of the things people immediately pointed out about the new record was the virtually nonexistent sadness. Songs on this record reflect a happier Lana — a more hopeful Lana. This is also reflected in her first-ever cover image portraying her with a smile and the overall vibe on the record. Add to that some quality collaborations with A$AP Rocky, the Weeknd, Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon and you have one of Lana’s finest performances.

Tyler, the CreatorScum Fuck Flower Boy
Release Date: (July 21, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Foreword; Who Dat Boy; I Aint’ Got Time!

July 21 must’ve been a great day for new releases! Tyler is back with his fourth studio album and it’s his most solid record yet. The beats and lyrics on this record hit me in a way that I haven’t heard from him since Goblin. Not to mention I Ain’t Got Time! has one of my favorite hooks in hip-hop. Is his language often unnecessary? Sure, but that’s Tyler, the Creator for you. Dude’s a talented poet with a unique voice in an otherwise boring sea of unremarkable artists. All 14 tracks on this record, including the short one-minute interlude Droppin’ Seeds featuring Lil Wayne is just ear candy.

ExhumedDeath Revenge
Release Date: (October 13, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Dead End; Unspeakable; The Anatomy Act of 1832

I was familiar with Exhumed from years of being a metalhead, but honestly, with the exception of some of the more popular selections (see Cannibal Corpse, Dethklok), I’ve just never been a huge fan of Death Metal. Exhumed set out to change that this year and they pulled it off in the most brutal way possible. I caught these guys in Johnson City just after Thanksgiving and saw firsthand why these guys are widely accepted as the Masters of Gore in a metal genre that solely exists to glorify gore (gorify?). Death Revenge is Exhumed’s first record since 2015’s Gore Metal: A Necrospective and despite it being 19 years since their first studio record — 25 years since their first EP — they’re tighter than ever. Death Revenge is arranged as a fun concept album. That is, if your idea of fun includes brutal murders and the underground trade of grave-robbed cadavers.

Cursed MoonRite of Darkness
Release Date: (October 27, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Gates of Hell; Rise of the Antichrist; Creatures of the Night

Just in time for Halloween, Cursed Moon (representing Hell’s Headbangers) comes out on a day where they could’ve easily been overshadowed by same-day releases by All Pigs Must Die and even Powerman 5000. Granted, I’ve not seen hardly any press talk about Rite of Darkness, but that’s not surprising since this very Black Metal record has been self-identified as Deathwave, bringing together the sounds of macabre basement Black Metal and the drum machine electronica of the 80s. When I first heard this record, I realized it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before so I coughed up the $6.66 to buy the digital record and headed over to Hell’s Headbangers to put an order in for a t-shirt. True story. This record is scary, it’s unique, and it’s one of my favorite listens of the year.

This is just me, though. Got any new releases you really dug this year? Tell me about them!

[photo post] Lost Sew’l Organics, October 2017

You guys already know how much I love doing photo shoots for Lost Sew’l Organics. I did it back in August ’16, then again in November ’16, and most recently in March ’17. I love shooting photos, y’all know that, but there’s nothing I like more than doing these fashion shoots with Amber and her friends.

This time around, Amber wanted some shots for an all-black made-to-order line (released today) and she’d found a rad little spot in downtown Sevierville, TN — Off The Chain Cycles is a custom bicycle service and restoration shop that only recently opened its doors. When I was told “downtown Sevierville,” my first thoughts were I’ve never been there and where IS downtown Sevierville, anyway?

Turns out I’ve been by it the hundreds of times I’ve driven to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg over the last almost 33 years. I feel stupid for skipping over it because it’s actually quite beautiful. And budding, to say the least. Lots of new shops opening and rumor has it there’s a lot of new restaurants with outdoor seating slated to open in the next few months. And right in the middle of it — this custom bike shop.


Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to do the above photo shoots and work with her amazing friends Sam, Caitlin and Mal. Sam is world-famous at this point. She’s been the star of every shoot, and she was back again for this one. Amber also brought along her assistant Ali and her new model Angelika.

And gods bless America, Angelika…

I’ll let you figure out why I say that.

I did something a little different this time around in the form of a quick promo video. Consider this a teaser for the photos below:

I shot 626 photos and delivered 200. I’ve uploaded 47 to my Flickr account and will be pushing 17 to my Instagram. Below are 8 of my favorites. Get at ’em. Lens credits in the captions.

Also, thanks to Amber, Ali and Mark, we got a few BTS “action” shots. Dig ’em.

Even though Angelika and Sam did a great job making me look like I know what I’m doing, I’m always learning and looking to share my knowledge with anyone that’s interested. Here are a few things I learned on this shoot:

  • I’ve said this before but it’s way important to be over-prepared if you’re not sure where you’re shooting. This time around, I brought my 24mm, my 50mm and my 85mm lenses but only because I didn’t know what I’d have to shoot and how much space I’d be able to shoot in. Turns out, I used all three for three completely different shots. I was a little over-prepared, and it worked out.
  • I bought an LED that fits on your hot shoe a couple of years ago (like this one) thinking it would be good for handheld documentary-style video. Turns out, I was wrong. BUT…That handy dandy light comes in handy for some of these shoots if I want juuuust a little more light. This was no exception. While we had ample natural lighting coming from the windows of the shop, there were a few times that having a second light off to the side, turned down to about 50% or so, lightened up shadows just perfectly. That light has been rad, even though I’ve never used it for its intended purpose.
  • If you have a shady spot and morning light…USE IT. We agreed to go shoot in the shop and they were gracious enough to let us come in and do it, but I just couldn’t stay inside the whole time while we had such even cool lighting outside the shop. Some of the best shots of the day happened out there. Don’t be lazy, y’all.
  • And sometimes some people just can’t stop modeling with their face.

Here’s a lot of social stuff for y’all to get in on. Follow all of it, man!

Friday Fitness Finds 5/26

When you come to my boxing fitness classes there are a few things you can be sure of: you’re going to get a great workout, you’re going to have a hard time using your arms the next day and you will definitely see me at some point wearing the focus mitts. I have some classes where not everyone gets to have a go with me; I have other classes where everyone gets to see me multiple times.

Doing mitts with a trainer is stressful anyway, even if you’re good at it. If you’re new, however, it’s even worse. The urge to push yourself past your comfortable limits is everpresent and sometimes you just miss.

I was running focus mitts on a new member on Tuesday night who was struggling to get through the rounds. I thought that giving him focus mitts with a one or two-punch combo would be a good way to give him a great workout that wouldn’t badly wind him. So I approached him, told him what I wanted — just a jab — and I flashed him my left mitt, silently saying “hit me here.” So he did. I continued to call it out — Jab! Jab! Jab! Jab! — and he was doing great…

…until I changed it and said, “Alright, now, give me jab, jab, cross!” He threw the jab, I caught it. He threw the second jab, I caught it. He threw the cross and I caught it…On the jaw. I threw up my right hand to catch his cross but a combination of his nerves and me being ill-prepared resulted in me taking a 300+ pound man’s fist to the face. He tried punching the mitt I had just brought down; I laughed.

Part of the job, I guess.

Anyway, I have a pretty good list to share this week. Stay on your guard and check them out.

A-Side Meal Prepping pt. 1 by me
A bit of shameless self promotion here. I started my 6-part series on meal prepping last week with a long post about the importance of identifying an eating philosophy to follow instead of a diet and the stigma that comes along with the D word. I’ve received a lot of great feedback about the post and I hope you can take the time to read it before this Sunday’s post about calories and macros.

Your Summer Grilling Secret: Using Wood Planks for Delicious Grilled Eats from The Art of Manliness
I’m a firm believer that you should be cooking with fire every chance you get. Charcoal, gas or smoke, meat and vegetables deserve to hit the grill and it’s up to you to help them fulfill their destiny. The Art of Manliness does a great job here priming folks for using wooden planks for grilling salmon, burgers, veges and other goodies.

10 Quick and Speedy Skillet Dinners by DamnDelicious
DamnDelicious is back again with an awesome recipe collection. A lot of these recipes are carb-heavy so if you’re training hard and they fit your macros, these would be great meal prep recipes. I’ve got my eye on the shrimp & broccoli stir-fry and hope to make the Shrimp and Gnocchi with Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce the next time I want something comforting.

Meditation for People with Absolutely No Patience by Abi Carver via Roman Fitness Systems
If you’ve been following along at all lately you’ll know that mindfulness is something I’ve been paying more attention to (or trying to, at least). Abi does a pretty good job here of explaining the importance of meditation for everyone and how to fit it into your “super busy” schedule.

Fats vs. Carbs — What do the Elites Know that We Don’t? by David Grech via Low Carb Down Under
The fact that this comes from a site called Low Carb Down Under is enough to tell me this may be more than just a biased story but David provides several links to elite runners that fuel primarily on fats as opposed to carbs while providing the studies behind their decision to do so. Everything I’ve seen seems to make sense but that’s not saying I’m going to try to do it any time soon. I’m certainly not an elite runner and don’t really want to be, but this information is certainly interesting if you geek out over such things.

Music to Lift Heavy To

I’ve got a double-shot to share this week as I’ve heard two absolute bangers.

Song one is from Los Angeles-based thrashers Warbinger. This track entitled Silhouettes is from their most-recent Napalm Records effort Woe to the Vanquished. The review I saw this in says it’s a Thrashterpiece and they’re right.

Song two is from an extreme metal band that just celebrated their 20th year — the New Orleans-based Goatwhore. This track, Chaos Arcane is from their upcoming Metal Blade release Vengeful Ascension due for release June 23.

Go pick up something heavy and try to not get knocked out in the process.