[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!

Running Shoes – Who Am I?

When I rolled out of bed this morning at 7am I was disappointed I didn’t make it to the 7:15am alarm. I could’ve laid in there, scouring Twitter and Instagram, maybe dozed back off with hopes of dreaming of running a 5 star restaurant, coming off stage after a successful encore, maybe even a lovely evening with Lana Del Rey. But I had places to go, people to see. The place: Carl Cowan Park. The people: the wooded path running parallel with the river, bordered by the mountains; a true gentleman of the highest regard. This morning was overcast, the threat of rain was in the air, but the temperature was a mild 40-something and I was excited to go for a quick Sunday run.

A short-ish run today – just over 2 miles before loading up on this week’s groceries. I made my way through the produce, dairy and meat departments being “that guy” wearing my technical long-sleeve (covered with a classic Saturday Night Grindhouse tee!), my gym shorts with moisture-wicking running tights and my classic Adidas ClimaCool running shoes. I switched over to the Adidas some time ago when I first started running on the treadmill at the YMCA. I can’t remember if it was the first, second or even third time that I quit Couch-to-5k but what I can remember is that my New Balance cross trainers just weren’t cutting it. Shin splints, knee pain – the whole nine yards. I decided to quit running but quickly made it back on after a friend suggested I invest in some actual running shoes.

But what difference will new shoes make?

Turns out, a lot! While the new Adidas didn’t do much to make my desire to run any stronger, it certainly all but completely stopped any and all pain that I had been experiencing. Those Adidas have been my running shoes since then, whenever that was – a little over a year or so ago, I suppose.

I hung those babies up while I was busy getting diabetes but busted them back out when I started moving around again. They stuck with me through spin classes, treadmill running, school track running, park track running, wooded trail running and gravel / wood chip running. They’ve been awesome.

But when I got back from the store this morning I noticed my left shoe had a hole on the inside and a hole wearing out in the toe. My right shoe was getting a hole in the inside and outside. It was hard to do, but at that moment I had declared my beloved running shoes legally dead.

But then I did something today that may not seem like a big deal to seasoned runners but it means a lot to me: I went to FleetFeet in Turkey Creek, had my stride and gait studied and was, for the first time, properly fitted for some new running shoes. I learned a lot about how my feet work while I’m walking, learned a lot about the different shoes that were available to folks and in the end settled on some green/black/white Ravenna 5s by Brooks.


Oh, here he goes, bragging about his expensive new running shoes. Maybe, but what I want to focus on is that I’ve gotten to the point where I had to replace my old shoes. I’ve worn my running shoes out. Run holes in them. I’ve made it to the point where I’ve gone and invested in better running shoes that are going to not only last me a little longer but are also going to support me in ways that even my Adidas couldn’t. Does this make me a real runner? No – I became one of those the day I started running again. What it does make me, though, is a new Justin that has made some serious changes in his life physically and, ultimately, mentally – maybe even spiritually. I’ve gotten to a certain point and I’m confident in going further.

This isn’t merely another start and stop like the many times I’ve done something similar before. No, this is me making my health a priority in my day – every day.

Someone cue the motivational music. Maybe Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” – that isn’t too cliché is it?

So now when I wake up in the morning, I’ll be strapping on some new tools that are going to help me build myself as I continue working toward my November 27 5k date. I’ll move and shake in the office during the day, cook and eat a killer dinner at night and then maybe – just maybe – I’ll get around to that Lana Del Rey dream :-)

[Life’s Little Lists]: In the Mood Music

This post is about sex. Teehee

Cool. Now that that’s over with…

Music can do a lot to a person and one of the things it does to me is make other people, situations and heck, even myself much sexier in its presence. Something about having that perfect song at that perfect time to get you where you need to be at a given moment, especially when those moments are behind closed doors with someone you fancy.

SoulPancake has encouraged me to share a brief list of songs I deem to be some of the “sexiest ever” so I do hope you enjoy!

In no particular order:

The Kills: U R A Fever
Ever since being turned on to Alison Mosshart and the Kills I’ve found something incredibly sexual about their style: noise rock-influenced, bluesy, sort of tastes like cigarettes but in a way I can tolerate. I can’t remember which movie but I’m confident this was also used in a sex scene in some movie we saw once.

Lana Del Rey: Off to the Races
I’m not a huge fan of Lana but this song was the first thing I ever heard from her and I’ve been hooked. I’ve often said Lana’s voice is pure sex and after hearing this song most people agree.

Amy Winehouse: You Know I’m No Good
Everyone knows by now by the tattoo on my left forearm that I adore Amy Winehouse more than any pop singer I’ve ever heard in my life. Amy had a rough life but when she was doing okay and was taking care of herself she was incredibly sexy. While this song speaks of her repeatedly cheating on her man, her voice says “I promise I won’t do it again” and I believe her every time.

Jane’s Addiction: Ted, Just Admit It
I first heard this song on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack; a slightly altered version from the original album version but the creeping bass line and Dave’s lingering, screeching feedback throughout followed by the fast-paced explosion at the end makes one thing of truly violent sex with a fire involved.

The Dead Weather: Hang You From the Heavens
Well, here’s Alison Mosshart again. Girl’s got a thing for being sexy in the filthiest, most rock’n’roll way possible. Her sensual lyrics here are crooned roughly over a highly distorted bass line and Jack White’s simple, yet powerful drum kit abuse.

This is a [life’s little lists] writing prompt from SoulPancake and can be found here. I highly recommend you check out SoulPancake, buy their book and share your input on the site!

This is post 12 of my very first time participating in NaBloPoMo, a “Blog a Day” project for the month of November.

Follow me on Twitter @justintfirefly