Friday, March 30, 2007

New: On the pod

New: On the pod

Fear the State - Live @ CBGB: OMFUG

Great White – Live At The Marquee (Official Bootleg)

Jonatha Brooke – Careful What You Wish For

Kelly Keagy – I’m Alive

Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Calling

Norah Jones – Not Too Late

Pete Yorn – Musicforthemorningafter

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden – I Trust You To Kill Me

Shaw/Blades – Influence

News: On the pod

We’re Back!!! As you may have noticed, OTP has been on a bit of an extended hiatus lately. It wasn’t really intentional, but as it turns out it was necessary. I found myself in the hospital for a few days and then not doing much for about six weeks. Not to worry though…I’m back into the swing of things for the most part and ready to bring you up to speed on a few great albums I’ve found.

While I was goofing around, I managed to blow through a couple of books:

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx – Eric Nylund

If you dig the Halo video game series, then odds are you’ll dig this book. This is the first book inspired by the game where the usual hero of the series, Master Chief, is not featured. It follows the story arc of a new Spartan program lead by a long thought dead Spartan from the Master Chief’s own team.

Hannibal Rising – Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris managed to score both a new book and a new movie all at the same time with Hannibal Rising. I just read the book though and oddly enough, not as creepy as I thought it would be. However, it does give a look into the life of a young Hannibal Lecter and some reasons for the way he ended up. It was a quick read that I managed to get through it in a day.

Lady Friday (The Keys to the Kingdom) – Garth Nix

Yeah, OK, so I read kids books…well young adult books, but still. Garth Nix is a terrific writer of young adult fiction whose Lady Friday book marks the fifth of seven in his The Keys to the Kingdom series. In this installment we continue to follow the young Arthur Penhaligon, the rightful heir to the Will of the Architect, and his struggle to save his friends, his family and himself from the denizens of the upper house and Lady Friday. The series is really a fun read and with only two installments left…it’s time to get started, don’t you think?

I also picked up my Xbox 360…finally. Of course, as expected, the minute I bought it Microsoft announced the Xbox 360 Elite…Bastards. So, I returned it and will be waiting for the new Xbox 360 Elite. Prior to that, I managed to play:

Dead Rising

You’re a photojournalist stranded in a shopping mall infested with zombies for 72 hours. You have to take outstanding pictures of the horror all around you and…survive by any means necessary. The game play is cool, but this game is meant for a big screen as the on-screen text is very small and hard to read.


You’re a super cop in a city run amuck. It’s very similar in fashion to the Grand Theft Auto series but this time you’re the good guy. The game play is very easy to get used to and as you collect and use your abilities, your powers increase. My only real complaint with this game was that it was really short. Even though you have three different gangs you need to put out of business, I managed to finish this game in less than a week. It’s a big investment for such a short experience, although it is ready for Xbox Live and does come with an invitation to the Halo 3 online beta.

Gears of War

First off, this is a pretty bad-ass game. The story is a familiar one though, you’re a human(oid) and your planet is invaded by aliens. At the start of the game you’re a soldier who’s serving time and you’re broken out only to facedown an alien invasion and your past. The game play is fairly unique in that one of the things you have to do in order to survive the game is take cover…if you don’t, you die. The weapons are fun too, although a chainsaw on the end of a machine gun? Eeh, who’s to say?

Finally, in my down time I’ve been watching a few DVDs. Here’s what I thought:

24: Season 1

I may have been the only person left on the planet Earth who hadn’t watched Jack Bauer save the world. Having watched Season 1…I get it. Good stuff!

Bones: Season 1

Based on characters created by Kathy Reichs, Bones is the story of Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deschanel, and her dealings and relationship with FBI agent Seely Booth, played by David Boreanaz. They hate each other, they love each other, they solve cases with each other…but the scripts are well written as well as being supported by great actors. Bones is actually a fun and intelligent alternative to the less fun and intelligent CSI.

I did say finally about the DVDs didn’t I? Oh well, last week was the week of live shows for me. I managed to see:

Indigo Girls @ the Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theater in CT

I’ve seen the Indigo Girls a bunch of time before, but this was hands down the best time yet. They played as an acoustic duo for the evening and just brought the house down. It was great because along with playing the predictable hits and new stuff, they dipped into their seemingly endless song catalogue for some really obscure things I’d never had the pleasure of hearing them play live before.

Shaw-Blades @ BB King’s in NYC

These two guys can sing. This was my second acoustic show for the week and well worth the trip. In a lot of ways, it was a cover show as they played tunes both on and considered for their latest album, Influence. They also played favorites from Damn Yankees, Styx and Night Ranger. With great songs and stories, the show was a great way to spend an evening in Manhattan

Fear the State @ The Space in CT

These guys have to be the hardest working unsigned band around. I have never seen them have a bad show performance wise, much less a show where they didn’t absolutely give 110% on stage. They work it no matter who or how many people are in the crowd and it’s always fun.

Speaking of Fear the State, they’ve released a new EP called Live @ CBGB: OMFUG. It’s half live and half new studio tunes. Fear the State was actually one of the last bands to play the legendary and now defunct CBGBs in NYC. They recorded that show and the best tracks are included on this disc. In many ways, Live @ CBGB: OMFUG is really a historic recording in that it captures the last days of the famous and infamous club. Aside from the cool tunes, it’s worth picking up just for that and if you manage to catch them live, I think you can pick up a copy for free when you buy your long sought after Fear the State merch.

That’s it…I swear. I just want to say thanks for reading and for continually coming back even during the down time. If you come back next wee, you’ll get a look at Jonatha Brooke’s new disc and here are some of the other artists I have coming up: Art Turner, Guy Clark, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Peter Ostroushko.

Thanks again and as always…Keep Listening!


Shaw-Blades: Influence

Shaw-Blades: Influence

There seems to have been a glut of cover albums released in the past few years by any number of bands and the latest comes from members of both Styx and Night Ranger. Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades first played together in Damn Yankees and since then have gone on to write songs for the who’s who of the music industry as well as releasing their 1995 album, Hallucination. For the most part, cover albums are generally interesting for the first five minutes and then you realize that you’re listening to mostly uninspired renditions of songs that you never really liked in the first place. Influence isn’t like that…It’s not like that at all. To my great surprise, Influence is actually a really, really good album.

The track listing of Influence is eclectic, encompassing everyone from Simon and Garfunkel through the Mamas and the Papas all the way to Yes. The arrangements also are eclectic, preserving the spirit of the original songs but allowing Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades to make them their own. A very much electric version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic I Am A Rock is a perfect example of this.

An obvious highlight of Influence has to be their outstanding cover of Your Move by Yes. Presented independently from its usual partner, I’ve Seen All Good People, Your Move is an inspired version of the Yes original. The Shaw-Blades version faithfully preserves the vocal harmonies and the musical arrangement of the original while the Tommy Shaw driven vocal performance makes this rendition shine

The simple fact is that most of Influence’s eleven tracks shine. The album is chock full of some great classic rock and roll songs, some more familiar than others but all made current by the talents of Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades. This is one cover album I’ll be listening to for a while…actually, I’m listening to it right now.