Friday, October 21, 2011

The Spartans Season...A Red Storm Rising...

A review of the Michigan game as well as taking a look at the other two "red" games this month. Can the Spartans continue a surprising month by dethroning No. 4 Wisconsin?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zerflive: Foo Fighters, September 26th, 2011 at the I-Zod Center, NJ

I have missed Dave Grohl in person like he’s actually in my family. He IS in my headline!? Ha.

I have my iPod and many memories to keep me appeased, but there is really nothing like the surreal nature of seeing your all-time favorite band grace the stage. I somehow missed the last tour (ticketmaster fees refusal and priced out of MSG, my scalper incident for a secret show) and wanted to see how my boys were doing this time around with three shows in the greater NYC area. For the first of two I’m slated for, I had to travel to New Jersey where I saw them play about five years ago for the In Your Honor tour. The name of the arena and the opening bands changed, but the Foo’s sweaty steadfast rock show has not.

They are still the best in the business, however, it is apparent they have aged and this is the top-end of their prime. In that way, they remind me of Dirk Nowitzki this last NBA season. Still enough prime and youth in the tank to win a championship, but you fear from here on forward the decline is here and we’re at the apex of the rising action. That is sad, but you simply do what you can in the present to enjoy the presence before you. Dave Grohl settling for half the album scream on “White Limo” is much like Dirk pulling up for an easy jumper, instead of going to the rack for style points. They both light up the scoreboard. Might as well save your energy…the show is totals about three hours and with the way Grohl runs literally from one side of the stage all the way to the other side of the arena—there is no room to take a break.

The biggest difference you can get from a band of this caliber throughout the years is the setlist. I know I’m kind of setlist obsessive, but really; it’s the first thing I think of for differences show to show. A band like the Foo are always going to have lights, big stage antics, banter, crowd surfing, etc. What I really look forward to is how the material is represented and what songs make the cut over the years. Notoriously, I used to spend a great deal of time looking at every setlist from every show and know exactly what’s coming up, but this time around I was able to show restraint. Maturity? The big one for me is my favorite song, “Aurora”, which didn’t make the cut this time around. The feeling of waiting for that moment it MIGHT be played, is much different than if they play a hit, and similarly parallel to NOT playing a hit.

After something like 16 years in the business, the Foo Fighters can’t begin to fathom playing all their hits and/or cult classics. Especially at the energy they play with and the way they make some of their three minute hits, 10 minute jams, like “Monkey Wrench”, “Breakout” and “Stacked Actors” which to this day continue to remain live jam staples.

I’ve never seen the Foo Fighters play a show over two hours, so with a setlist totaling 25 songs and three hours of duration, I was quite pleased with my bang-for-the-buck sentiment.


  • Two stellar covers I haven’t heard them do and would never expect. “In the Flesh” by Pink Floyd with Taylor Hawkins on vocals, who by the way does Roger Waters better than Roger Waters these days (watch the performance on Fallon vs. the performance at Izod...) and “Breakdown” by Tom Petty which is at least in my Top 2 favorite Tom Petty songs. Dare I say the Foo’s rock it twice as hard as Petty!? I do.
  • The stage setup. Previously, Grohl would always find a way to move to the other end of the arena. Usually with a security guard he’d have to sift through the crowd. At this juncture, they just build a Tetris shaped end for him to extend his stage presence with a path all the way across the arena, that multiple times throughout the show he runs back and forth from the stage with the band and a 20 foot riser about 50 yards away.
  • From this riser, he did a guitar duel with Chris Shiftlett during “Stacked Actors” that didn’t necessarily rock my socks off in skill, but was just kind of fun. It rocked. It was simple. It was theatrical. You can’t find it on any album. Shiftlett would give the “thumbs down” to Grohl’s duel submissions and tear into a shredding solo of his own. Shifty has improved enough at guitar that he definitely made Grohl look like a rhythm guitar to his lead.
  • The encore video played while the Foos were backstage. It has a night light presentation while Taylor and Dave mime to that audience exactly how many songs they are going to play in the encore while swigging beers “backstage.” It’s a good way to get the crowd going as they start at “one” and end at “six,” before coming out for a seven song encore with Dave Grohl half way through saying “we’ll play all night, I’m fucking serious” which is a sentiment I’ve only seen matched by Ted Nugent and simply slaughtered by Goldfinger (ask me about THAT story. So good.).
  • Everlong

The new material holds up really well. This, Wasting Light, is as you may have read on this very blog, the second best album the Foos have done. I love it. “Bridge Burning”, “Arlandria” and “These Days” with Grohl introducing Krist Novacelic on the accordion saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know if you’ve heard Krist play…but he’s the Eddie Van Halen of the accordion,” was pleasing to the soul.

The only problem when bands amass this much material (DG “I don’t know if you know this…we have A LOT of sooooongs…”) is the cult classics get lost. Songs like “Aurora”, “Up in Arms”, “See You”, “Ain’t it the Life”, “DOA”, and “For All the Cows” get lost in the mixture. Even the HITS like “Big Me”, “I’ll Stick Around”, “Next Year”, “Miracle”, “Walking After You”, “Low”, etc hit the proverbial cutting room floor. I guess you can’t “Have it All.”

Seriously…they never play that one.

Rise Against and a Mariachi band encompassed the opening acts. The Mariachi band has the word Bronx in it somewhere. I’m not bothering to look it up. They were pretty cool, but obviously a little star-struck playing in such a big arena. The right time and place would help them immensely and could throttle them into a Zerfas favorite.

I’ve really gotten into Rise Against lately and found them slightly disappointing at this show. They really do rock. Like, balls to the walls hair flying back for the entire set rock. It is all rock and nothing else which isn’t really the problem. I think the problem with bands like that is they record with such high energy and technology that it’s tough to replicate live. You can get parts right on, but it’s damn near impossible to recreate that energy song after song and hit every part for the duration of the tunes. I ran into the same thing when I saw the Offspring, who Rise Against reminds me a lot of. If the Foo Fighters had to play “White Limo”, “Weenie Beenie” and “Wattershed” for 45 minutes…one would probably be disappointed as well. I value things not sounding like the album (my whole reason for loving the Foo live so much!?), but for some reason over-the-top high energy songs sound slightly flat if you can’t match the energy. The screamers are good rockers and fun for the show, but offer little sustainability. It’s like a diet of nothing but protein bars. Eventually you crave balance, yet you’re so capable of running through a brick wall right now, and there’s something awesome to be said about that.

Lastly, the true essence of a Foo show was recently caught perfectly in an e-mail conversation I had with my buddy. I sent him a video of the Foo Fighters playing “Breakdown” and compared it to a Tom Petty show we saw in Grand Rapids, MI many moons back. We were gravely disappointed with Petty’s show as it was pretty much exactly like listening to an album (the anti-Foo Fighters) and we were less than impressed with Petty’s nonchalant stoner stage presence. I would call it the absolute zero of stage presences. He didn’t even play harmonica on “Last Dance with Mary Jane” and he more or less sat on a stool and played his hits. My buddy concluded Dave Grohl is the superior rock star because, “he could sing the Barney song and it would sound awesome.”

Yes, and I hope he does just THAT when I see him at MSG in November. I’d even sacrifice “Aurora” to hear it.

Bridge Burning
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn to Fly
White Limo
Cold Day in the Sun
Stacked Actors
Monkey Wrench
Let it Die
These Days (with Krist Novacelic on accordion)
Should Have Known
This is a Call
In the Flesh (Pink Floyd cover)
All My Life

Long Road to Ruin (DG acoustic solo from mid-arena riser)
Best of You (DG acoustic solo from mid-arena ri
Times Like These (DG solo for half acoustic, joins full band for rock half)
Dear Rosemary
Breakdown (Tom Petty cover)
Skin & Bones

Friday, September 23, 2011

Larry David Moment: The Barber Shop Quandary

I recently have been breached with a quintessential Larry David moment. Recently, I made a barber switch. I got sick of paying the $2.25 each way transporting for a hair cut and occasional DeAngelo Vickers power grabbing hot shave (try this gentleman if you haven’t). My new place is right in my neighborhood in the UWS. I’ve went there a number of times and I like it. The guy is nice, it’s reasonably priced and it’s an upgrade in style. I’m just happier overall.

Here’s what happened.

I work at a restaurant in Times Square. Gratuity is automatically included in the check. So, by happenstance, my new barber came into the restaurant. He did not know I was working. He was placed in MY section by coincidence. What are the odds of all of that!?

Everything was fine…until it came time to pay the check. In the restaurant business, this is where respect happens. I am fine going on record saying that I tip this barber 33% for haircuts and shaves. That’s not a calculation, that’s just what it works out to. That’s hooking a barber up!? People usually throw a few bucks, but $5 per service is respect, brother.

When I went to drop the check I knew this is where our relationship would be tested. Would he show respect and add additional tip? Would he flatline me at the stock 18% as included in the check? That pretty much says to a server “you were satisfactory, no better.” Especially in Manhattan if a server does a good job 20% is how you show this. If they include gratuity you throw a few more bucks on the check. You just do it!!!!

Welllllllllll…..I’m sad to say I took one on the chin here. It’s not like leaving the bare minimum is DISrespect, but given the fact that I hook this guy up everytime I come in, should mean he pays back, right? Show some reciprocity!?

The question now is…what do I do now?

Do I have to change barbers? I can’t go back to the old barber (who was very good), because he’s going to know I went somewhere else. That’s cheating!? It would be very hard for me to switch now, because I see the current barber in the neighborhood. I go in at least once a month these days (shedding the Phillip Seymour Hoffman moniker?) and it would be obvious he’s fired. That’s awkward.

If he sucked…sure. But, he’s a good guy and I like that I don’t have to even say much when I walk in. He goes to work…it’s quick…there is never a line. Easy.

Why couldn’t he just reciprocate the respect? NYC especially is all about the service industry and once you’re in—you must take care of everyone else. It’s code. It’s karma. It’s only fair.

Those that haven’t been there have NO IDEA. Cliché to say, but true. Especially in serving when you have interactions on the nanosecond with people, your robotic discourse can be altered uberquick by someone with a grump agenda. The tides really turn on the dime.

I want to talk to him about it and ask? That’s where the Larry David thing comes in. But, I can see this going very badly. I envision a shouting match? He’ll scoff at me around the neighborhood. By similar happenstance, I’ll for no reason start seeing him all the time at my favorite hangouts/pastimes!? Perhaps he would offer me a free cut/shave!?

I don’t want it!!!!!????!

I want that moment back, where 1) he doesn’t come in at all 2) If he comes in he shows some fucking respect for reciprocity!?!?

The Spartans Offensive Line is a Nightmare Without a Kick

My document of the Michigan State Football 2011 campaign continues with this Spartan saga...the Offensive Line is facing a tough tasks. Injuries, adversity and lack of experience plague a group that started the year as the Spartans biggest...????

Friday, September 16, 2011

Notre Dame Week Cannot be Topped

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame. Yes!!!!

I grew up watching both programs. This is without a doubt my favorite football game of the year...making it my favorite day of the year until...ohhhhhh.....March Madness (next year).'s that important.

Superlatives. Ellipses. A hell of a good tailgate and football day. I couldn't ask for much more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Camps of Green Under Friday Night Lights

I will be the Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report covering Michigan State football throughout the 2011 campaign. I'm very pumped about this. What that means for you, the reader, is 2-3 articles a week about the team. I'm not going to do this "beat" style and to prove that...THIS is my intro...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mute Math Odd Soul Introduction Tour

(Thanks to this awesome fan for posting this video of the show on Youtube. It gives you a good idea of what you missed.)

Mute Math
Odd Soul Introduction Tour
Mercury Lounge 8.25.11

Whoever came up with the bright idea to slate Mute Math as the early show at Mercury Lounge is now on my shitlist!?

I’m PISSED! What a tease man? Mercury Lounge just didn’t get Mute Math enough time to do their thing.

I came to this show expecting a special event; there were only two of these shows when I bought my tickets.

I’m not blaming any of this on the band. It’s just how it shook out and quite clearly someone didn’t do their research. Granted, any good promoter or manager should and probably realized what’s going on here. Perhaps this tour is simply…an introduction to the new album titled Odd Soul, due for rapid release in early October.

I am just always a fan of a HUGE set (the most bang for the buck) and getting as much concert as I can. I did pay a meager price to see one of the best live bands in a miniscule venue.

All anger aside, I believe this was an amazing opportunity, a tantalizing treat delicious enough to make any music aficionado salivate. Everyone needs to see a drummer like Darren King in a venue like Mercury Lounge, a venue about the size of an incredibly small room in a basement—it just has that musky feel. I was standing against the right wall all the way back, which is about seven rows at Merc Lounge, yet I felt like I was inside Darren King’s drumset (he sets up his drumset all the way right). I felt like he was hitting ME with the sticks, although that could have been the $4 dollar Pabst’s I was guzzling with reckless abandon. Trust me…it was a good night.

Strip Mute Math of a big “hit-filled’ setlist, their state of the art light show, sufficient time to jam the songs out (my favorite part of a Mute Math show) and sufficient space for singer Paul Meany to complete his trademark flip over the piano, one would have to wonder can they still “bring it?”

The answer is of course yes, with the caveat being my anger over my self created ridiculous expectations.

The Merc Lounge stage doesn’t allow much of a secret entrance. The bands usually have to get from the back of the room to the front through the audience they are about to entertain. That’s always provides me enjoyment in itself. In true New Orleans fashion, the guys came in like a marching band playing tambourines, drums and anything they could walk with all the way to the stage. It’s pretty much the most festive intro one can have at this particular venue.

They played the new material. It’s good. Very different from your standard Mute Math Police-like pop songs. Everything is pretty raw and downright drenched in Southern Blues. When the album comes out it should come with wetnaps and an extra side of BBQ sauce. There will probably be many haters accusing the band of “jumping the shark” and hipsters will chastise the songs as Black Keys ripoffs.

Imagine that?

Let the haters hate. This album is going to be damn good, a true venture for a band that refuses to settle for rerecording only their strengths. This onset of raw blues really lends itself to the thundering drums of Darren King. There doesn’t seem to be as much electronics in the new songs, however, the recordings are raw, yet remarkable intricate in the way they bring all that New Orleans blues into the studio headphones.

It’s quite clear to me Odd Soul will be an impressive timepiece album that solidifies the location and longevity of a band I just can’t get enough of. I did miss the sing-a-long vocal style Meany has in the first two albums that makes me actually WANT to sing along (rare for those that know me), but I have a deep appreciation for what they’ve done here.

Definitely pick up the album when it comes out, and I would imagine every other city will give ‘em space to operate. NYC, man…can’t live with it…can’t live without it.

Heads Up
Odd Soul
One More
In No Time
Blood Pressure
You Are Mine
Break the Same/Quarentine (ran out of time…merged the two quickly)

Friday, August 26, 2011

1!, 2!, 3!…Listen to Me

“Music the great communicator
Use two sticks to make it in the nature!”
--Red Hot Chili Peppers (“Can’t Stop)

The word of mouth raconteurism (not a word, but it should be) of music makes me giddy. I’ve spent so much of my precious time over the years bouncing music back and forth with others—it makes me want to take my I-pod to the top of Zerfas Mountain and play it for ALL the lands. Perhaps others will enjoy it as much as I do and join the party. It’s that real The Jerk mentality that makes me want to write about my passions in the first place. Navin R. Johnson in a see of blues music (being born a poor black child) finds some toe tapping jazz. He shimmies around the house and inspiration pours out his pores to the point that he hitches a ride to search the world for more.

That is how I pursue music. If you find yourself reading this…chances are you have that mentality as well.

This, my friends, is a tribute to you (I actually originally put your names by each band and inspiration, but then struck that idea as YOU may not want that) folks who have passed along music to me. I am taking a moment to list and promote a few bands I’ve been listening to. Most of them in this batch I have a close relationship with in some, way, shape or form—whether it be friends of friends, friends bands, friends recommending and updating me on the happenings of people in bands that we became friends listening to together, etc.

Let’s get started with talking about the title of the this post,“1,2,3…Listen to Me”: There is a band called Further Seems Forever. Their first lead singer was Chris Carraba who most associate with Dashboard Confessional. The second lead singer was a man of outrageous pipes, Jason Gleason. The album he did with Further Seems Forever was titled How to Start a Fire. If you don’t own it, you should pick it up now for a lesson in gut shredding vocals. He ended up leaving the band after one album and was replaced by a bland voiced Jon Bunch. The third album came out with said bland voiced singer and it was decent, however, there was one track on the “Bunch album” that eventually surfaced with Gleason on the vocals. Same song, different vocals and there was a world of difference between the two. It is hardly recognizable that they’re the same song!?

Further Seems Forever “Bleed”: The Jon Bunch version is a good rock song. You could listen to this song. You like it. Simple. Straight to the point. It gets the job done.

Further Seems Forever “There, Now I’ve Said It”: The intro to this slices you so quick and thinly you’re not sure what hit you, but you know it’s deep cut. HOLY SHIT! That’s all you can say.

He just BELTS “1!,2!,3!!!..Listen to Me” only the ellipse there is TOO MUCH. There isn’t time for three periods! He merges it smooth, somehow, scream purees into a melodic croon that eventually details emotions about leaving the band behind. I don’t know how, but it happened, and that’s all there is to it. It’s one of the most amazing feats I’ve ever heard vocally.

Secondly, he sings the same song in a completely different timing. Kind of like how Elvis Costello never really follows the pattern of his songs vocally in the way that you’d think one would based on the backing music. It’s just off enough that you feel it’s off, but it works well enough that you’re amazed at its authentic nature and originality. Use two sticks to make it in the nature.

Overall, I can’t help but always use this as an example of how the slightest change can mean EVERYTHING to a song, and to me that’s everything you need to know about the raconteurism of music and why we all need to stick together sharing these tales of music appreciation.

Old Wives Tidal Tales
Listen to: “Alto Cinco”

You now know who Jason Gleason is. You needed that and you’re welcome.

Further Seems Forever’s How to Start a Fire might possess too much depth for you. It’s not light lifting. It’s NOT the kind of music you go to first thing in the morning or when you’re driving. Too much viscosity! In fact, I would recommend stretching and doing calisthenics for 5-10 minutes prior to consumption. Drink a red bull and try to relax, sucker.

I’ve been waiting my whole life for Jason Gleason to make an accessible album that everyone can enjoy, and brother, this is it! In theory, the right situation could find Gleason making a whole album that sounds like if you typed Jeff Buckley’s “Eternal Life” into Pandora. If you could handle it!? Tidal Tales closes in classic Jeff Buckley fashion with a song called “Troubadour” which could easily pass for a B-Side off of Grace.

(I typed “Eternal Life” by Jeff Buckley into Pandora and the first five songs were 1) “Operation Spirit” by Live 2) “One Big Holiday” by My Morning Jacket 3) “How Lovers Ball” by Only Living Boy 4) Bring it Down” by Oasis 5) “Lethal Woman” by Gentleman’s Pistols)

You know when you really hope for something and it doesn’t happen for awhile, you don’t give up, but your expectations lower and almost anything will do? This is not the case at all on this album. The only problem I have is the length. It’s kind of an EP if you ask me. There are essentially nine tracks and one of them isn’t what I would call “accessible” as it’s low fi and kind of a bonus track—only it’s actually the eight of nine tracks. Weird. We can’t have it all, but you CAN get this album for yourself today and live a better life because of it.

Besides the vocal prowess of undeniable accolades, the backing music here is unique and pretty thick. Not in the way that How to Start a Fire is deep, but there are lots of organs, steel drums, changing tempos, huge rock intros/outros, laser effects, horns, calypso rhythms, and whatever else you look for when you ask for variety. This music is so catchy you’re going to hate listening to it, because the addiction will geyser to your brain like an ice cold glass of Mug Rootbeer.

The timing and the structures of these songs hints at something retro. I think of music that you SHOULD be hearing when you were spinning around on amusement park rides as a kid. I don’t know the name, but one of those spider like contraptions that essentially whips you around avalanching your body to one corner of your seat, depending on which way it spins. This is the soundtrack to that moment, only if my memory serves me right, they would play hits. These songs are better than those hits, but with the feeling of this childhood memory I’ve depicted.

One more time…THE VOICE. This guy is the best in the business. I really hope he continues to make rock music, because my soul needs it.

Halos Living Like Kings of Convenience
Listen to: “Amalgram”

We seem to be on the theme of soaring vocals. Gleason is the king of setting up a satellite above the music with unfathomable emotion and technicality. I really hadn’t had that experience with a band again until I discovered Halos, a project that hails from Long Island, NY (now LA), through a former colleague. That particular friend will be PISSED that I make that particular connection between How to Start a Fire and Living Like Kings of Convenience, but it has to be done. In both cases, I find myself looking to the stars to find the vocals that rocketed through the headphones, out of my brain and into outer space.

“Meet me in the atmosphere
Don’t worry I’ll take you there…”

This line is a pretty fitting intro to the album. The descriptors of Halos like to use words like “atmospheric” and “ambient rock”, which are terms I like, but also don’t want to over categorize the music. The point of having categories is to group things not make 10,000 categories for filing things. That’s what band names are for.

One of the lost arts in the electronic movement is the album cover. Obviously, purists have been saying it all along when cds transcended to records—that the art lost the size. Now days, one has to seek out album art electronically and force it into I-Tunes (that takes forever!). I’ve always wondered if album art is a self fulfilling prophecy or if bands are just very skilled at branding their own music, because well, they created it—I think they know it best. The cover for Kings is a haunted looking mansion on a hill in the dark night sky. Perfect. Whether it’s that way because they planted that image within me while listening to the music is up for debate another time (seriously, I will talk about this someday, I have thoughts).

Halos definitely take you on an emo ride through the atmosphere. There are undertones of the emo movement, like that of Sunny Day Real Estate, but the hooks are memorable fist-pounders that make you want to take life by the horns, throw your troubles to the ground and float using the breeze at your back with vocalist Dan Lyman through the starry night sky.

I’ve always been a sucker for celestial references and callings from mother earth in music. Everyone should channel their inner Walt Whitman and anytime I have the feeling that a singer hiked to the top of a mountain or nearest grassy knoll with a pen and paper and let the beauty sculpt the prose…my day has become more organic. Everybody knows the word “organic” is worth another 27 percent, fiscally. I’ll go ahead and send Halos $2.69 to supplement my purchase order.

The other thing I like about the band is the hidden intricacy of the arrangements. Everything seems pretty simple, waiting for the vocals to chime in and take you away on that ride, but the guitar effects used are unique, rocking yet not too heavy or campy and quite patient, reaching out a helping hand to the magic carpet.

Combine the organic celestial mother earth with locker room bulletin board inspirational sonnets, clinging to your cortex, like “without faith it’ll bring you down!,” and my favorite “this is where I go to clear my head/this is where I go/this is where I go,” to lift your battered soul and give those teary eyed stars a hug. Yes, stars feel pain too.

Our American Cousin Michigan EP
Listen to: “Michigan”
Buy the Michigan EP (you name the price):

Michigan is a four song EP, soon to be LP (tentatively slated for late September), composed by my life-long friend Josh Kaufman. Besides being one of the world’s best wise-ass sarcastic sentimentalists and all-around good guy, he’s one talented dude. I’ve always encourage Josh to continue pursing music (he always has) and I’m elated, perhaps even giddy, about his latest project Our American Cousin.

It’s just downright impossible to avoid Sufjan Stevens comparisons with the song “Michigan.” Josh himself is probably sick of it, but, when you use a shit-ton of instruments giving a wide array of backing sound with an almost intimidating variety (think a more grassroots Pet Sounds), coupled with a soft soothing voice, and blonde-haired boy (Sufjan isn’t blonde) next door lyrics…well…it’s going to happen. Oh yeah, and then there’s the whole Michigan thing.

We got that out of the way.

There’s much more to this. My favorite moment is on the last song titled “If You’re Looking For Me (I’m Not There),” channels 2004 era Ryan Adams (I believe he made three albums that year alone, so that’s an era) and the quagmires of the mid-to-late 20’s.

“I'm in the prime of life
I've heard a hundred times but
I've been hiding for so long
It's hard to give life up”


Their right for keeping on
And in the end i'm wrong but
I've been drinking so what’s the use
How about you?

Sounds a lot like one of my all-time favorites…

“So I am in the twilight of my youth
Not that I'm going to remember
Have you seen the moon tonight, is it full?
Still burning as embers
The people dancing in the corner of the city
Happy, but I am sad
I'm still dancing in the coma of the drinks I just had”
--Ryan Adams (“Anyone Wanna Take Me Home”)

This is where the ‘Nard Dog chimes in with a “nailed it.”

It’s relaxing, soft and soothing, but there is depth and pain there. Pain you hate to love, because you feel for the songwriter, but you’re almost glad they went through it based on the final product of the music. Torture makes for wonderful art. If a subject has to have a couple down years to come up with the next “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I’m all for it. The potential of Josh Kaufman is a truncated exponent.

I lied. I can’t root against this guy (even if in this case rooting against was a root “for” in the grand scheme). I did, however, as a youth, ruin one of his shows by showing up OBLITERATED and shouting “Noodles” through an entire concert pretty much mutilating the experience for everyone involved. I almost got my ass kicked.

I’m a jerk, but you can help me make it up to him. Pick this up and get yourself out on the backways with a man that’s about to change lives one maudlin melody at a time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ted Nugent Live at the Iridium Jazz Club

(image taken from without permission)

I guess it’s fair to say I’m a bit of a concert purist. You may have taken that away from my last Minus the Bear piece. Venue, sound, audience, setlist and the whole experience are all factors to me. They make a magnificent blend of rock excellence.

That’s why I don’t like certain venues. I usually don’t like festivals, because you don’t get the full audience of one band as well as the buzzkill of a shorter set. I will sometimes avoid seeing bands if I believe they’re on the decline as it might lower my perception and fanship of their previous music. When I saw Tom Petty, he was too high to play the harmonica. It took me about five years to get over it enough to listen to him again. Snap perceptions are at a premium when the curtain goes up.

Ted Nugent is a dish best served outdoors. I normally don’t think outdoor concerts have the best sound, but Nugent rolls to town with enough amps and sound equipment to kill a Yak in Japan. Believe you me, he’ll be pumped when happens! The Nuge needs a big stage, a loud drunken audience of people that have been coming to his shows since the 70’s (and still think it’s the 70’s mind you) and the sweet scent of the great outdoors in the summertime. The man cannot be quarantined into a little indoor venue with puny little amplifiers and table seating.

Or can he? How about a jazz club in Manhattan? Can you just plug the outlandish Ted Nugent in with a legendary group of blues/jazz/R&B band as part of a tribute spectacle for Les Paul and expect everything to turn out normal? This ought to be interesting…

I want to unroll this out like a summertime concert blanket in three sections.

Pros: I’ve never paid more than 20 bucks to see Ted. In fact, I’ve seen him for free, seven bucks, 15 bucks and 19 or so bucks. The ticket at the Iridium Jazz Club in Times Square was more than all of that. What you’re looking for here is a unique experience. That was delivered.

One of my favorite things the Foo Fighters ever recorded was witnessed at the 2004 Grammy’s. They came out and played “Times Like These” with a jazz pianist. It was awesome, because they were able to string together both the acoustic and rock versions of the song into one budding explosion of rock awesomeness…PLUS…a jazz piano. See the video here! (not the best sound quality)

Ted was able to do similar here. I was worried about him playing his songs with a band that he’s never played with before (The Les Paul Trio). He has such a bond with his band and everything they (the “Motor City Funk Brothers”) do is a structure leading to the next jam. You really feel like they get better every night they are on tour as they continue to add to the recipe. Believe you me, the Nuge likes to BBQ.

Seeing “Stranglehold” with a jazz piano was really something to cherish. The Les Paul Trio is a pretty talented band and even though they didn’t look totally comfortable playing with Uncle Ted, they got through it. It’s not like he made them play “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” requiring those old dudes to chime in with backing vocals to “she looks so sweet when she gobbles my meat.”

The other cool thing is you could tell Ted was trying to be affable. He only really played three original Ted songs and the rest were basic jams that any blues player could easily plug into, however, not many can do it on the level of the Les Paul Trio. All of that marinated with that certain Detroit soul Ted brings to every performance really makes for something special.

Seeing Ted play blues numbers like “Honky Tonk”, “Red House” and “Johnny B. Goode" was unique and special to me. I just love the concept of jamming when someone points at another person to solo. Isn’t that what music is supposed to be about? Raw, unbridled enthusiasm and joy? Ted sets the pace in those qualities. It means a lot to me to see a musician (seemingly) enjoy what they are doing. It makes me enjoy more what I’m seeing.

See what I’m talking about in this ("Johnny B. Goode") video from the show. The sound quality is primo! (My favorite part is minutes 2 to 3)

Cons: It was a little awkward. The Les Paul Trio didn’t seem to know totally what to do with Ted’s banter and stage presence (even if he watered it down due to time and place). The venue was very small which you think would be an advantage in sound quality. It wasn’t. Ted delivered some blue ribbon Grade A quality guitar playing, but it just didn’t sound like Ted without all the amplifiers. You get to know how good someone is when they are playing in such a small setting and you certainly felt Ted had the “stuff”, but it all just felt a bit awkward for lack of a better word.

Also, when you play a jazz club like Iridium, one usually ends up playing two sets. It’s all about the green, and the consequence was instead of getting two hours of loud and proud American rock, we were treated to a set of just over an hour. It’s fine. It’s just less for more and that’s never an equation I’m comfortable to boast about.

Quick Tangent: Never go to the Iridium Jazz club. It fucking sucks!!! It took them over two hours to get the first crowd out and the new crowd in. Everyone was pretty hostile overall—true NYC experience I guess. Everything is so crowded and uncomfortable. Obviously, you’re looking at overpriced drinks and food, but that’s a given. I’ll throw it in there anyway for SPITE. It all just left a horrible taste in my mouth. I just cannot fathom mainly…how it took so long to get everyone in and out. It had a complete aura of chaos and disorganization. Avoid at all costs!

It’s funny, there was this guy that kept throwing ice cubes and acting like an imbecile the entire show. He would get up to talk to his friend who was sitting right in front of me. All the while, he was swinging his arms and elbows like he was “Skankin’ By Numbers” in the classic Ska era. For a moment I thought I saw black and white tile on the floors. He almost elbowed me a couple of times and I looked at the waitress with discontent to have her come up to me and apologize saying, “there’s nothing I can do, he’s the owner.” Well, that explains it all doesn’t it.

Question: Ted is playing three shows in NJ (fairly easy to get to, hour on a train, we take beer, it will rock!) this summer with his original lead singer Derek St. Holmes. Is anyone in!?!?!?!

Star Spangled Banner
Route 66
Johnny B. Goode
Red House
Honky Tonk
Cat Scratch Fever

Hungover Again

The bite size review: It’s 3/4th’s as good as the first. Only because the first…was first. If the Hangover II was first, the Hangover would be 3/4th’s as good. It’s the EXACT same movie. It’s just that little bit you lose when cloning. Nothing new to gain, but the sequel didn’t lose anything either. The Hangover II is still very much worth your time and theater money. You will laugh from the gut and isn’t that all that really matters?

Further thoughts: There is a tipping point to passion. When it’s “almost” (I use this sarcastically) no longer fun, because you’re so nervous, so into it and in such a state of anticipatory bliss it rakes your nervous system over the coals. You’re almost irritated until you experience the anguish and nervousness you’ve been craving. The event.

That’s where I’ve been all week about The Hangover II.

I know what you’re thinking, “Zerf, it’s not that serious,” and my answer would be sarcastically, “nothing is, kid…nothing is,” but just as I refer to everything I write here as “drivel,” it’s all serious shit to me. I was really nervous to watch this movie, because I didn’t want Zach Galifiankis and Ed Helms to come up short and be lame. We all saw what happened to Vincent Chase when he bombed on the big time stage.

Which brings us back to the beginning…

Summer of 2009, the Hangover graced us with an unexpected summer blockbuster. I don’t think anyone would have imagined the success it would eventually garner. At the time, Bradley Cooper was the big star and he was B list at best. Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis were pretty much unknowns. At the very least, they weren’t box office names you could bank on. They took a simple frat boy concept, going to Vegas and having…shit…go…down, but they had the weapon of dynamic, separating it from the pack (not the wolfpack).

Galifiankis shined as an extremely sands of Sahara dry, dufus. Ed Helms adds his zany spin on someone trying to be normal and perhaps slightly uptight, when in fact they are O.C.D. Bradley Cooper works as the glue—with sex appeal and candor—holding it all together with his take on ladies man with a soft heart and enough sensibility to keep everyone else in check.

The original had a production budget of around $35 million dollars and Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis took in a mere $300,000 a piece. Chump change in Hollywood. The movie went on to be the best selling rated-R comedy in history grossing $277,000+ worldwide, placing it 49th overall domestically, putting it just behind Meet the Fockers and just above Shrek.

It’s safe to say it worked.

This time around, the budget ballooned to $80 million and the “Vegas trio” were dished their sheckles as well, to the tune of $5 million a piece with a 4% cut of the profits. Needless to say, they will start getting residual checks dating prior to half way through Memorial Day weekend. But, I was never worried about the money.

I want these guys to get paid, yes, but I was more concerned with the product. Now that Galafiankis surprised the world and became a world-wide star and Helms has begun to solidify some steam of his own, would the Hangover lose its luster? It’s obviously no longer an underdog story for the Vegas trio. They have expectations and expectations eat lesser entities ALIVE.

I watched the Hangover II gripping my chair the entire time, very similar to how I watched No Country for Old Men. The second offering has a slightly more serious tone as it’s set mostly in Bangkok, which even on screen keeps one a little uneasy. I can’t imagine what it’s like in real life.

What worried me the most was the bigger budget being sunk into big time action sequences, like the one shown by Ed Helms on Jimmy Fallon’s show. The scene has Helms trying to get a little monkey back inside a vehicle whizzing in and out of traffic. Things like that would take the viewer away from what should be the bread and butter of this movie—comedic timing between three extremely funny guys. It does seem a bit out of context, except for the fact that it’s a freekin’ MONKEY. Ha. The monkey takes the 4th lead in this movie very nicely and overall one isn’t taken back by over-effort and unnecessary production measures.

The bottom line of it all is, Todd Phillips wrote a way to properly use the stand up genius of Zach Galifianakis. I also think it’s astounding and downright unfair that some people STILL don’t realize that ZG is a long time standup comedian. If you think of the entire history of stand up comedians from the greats to up-and-comers, there aren’t many examples of them being used effectively on the big screen (Steve Martin and Robin Williams are the only ones I can think of) as if their own stand up material seeped through the screen and into your heart via osmosis. Even if they have, the blend of comedic, critical and box-office success of The Hangover has never been matched. It sets the standard of how to use a standup comedian properly in a movie. Bravo Todd Phillips, others that have had ZG all these years must be jealous.

Most of the jokes Galifianakis delivers in the Hangover are formulamatic rewrites of his own standup he’s been doing for over a decade. It just doesn’t get old. Like any good stand up routine you can listen to over and over, watching the Hangover movies is like a series of taking those jokes and placing them in scenes. It makes Zach’s jokes come to life. Much of my enjoyment from these Hangover flicks derives from the fact that other people now get to enjoy the dry wit of saying the absolute worst thing possible at the least appropriate times. There is an art to it and I’m really glad it wasn’t lost in budgets, remakes and people’s sheer hatred of sequels.

Galifianakis has a couple of projects in the works with none other than Will Ferrell. That’s enough to make my head explode! I can hardly take it!

So let the critics say what they will…just shut your brain off for a bit and watch some shit that will make you laugh. It’s really as simple as that. Why do people make going to movies so complicated?

Friday, May 20, 2011

I HEART the Kinetic Positionability of Minus the Bear

I was walking to Music Hall of Williamsburg on an overcast, yet summery May day (not a surrender). I walked past a bunch of dudes in flannel shirts and other causal pageantries just outside and smoking. They were inconspicuous enough to blend in, but large enough that I had to walk around them.

Yes, it’s Williamsburg and there are a lot of hipsters and funny looking dudes that look like Terry Gilliam (Monty Python artist) plucked them out of a grunge era picture from Seattle. I saw one particular gentleman wearing a vintage Nirvana Nevermind hat. Perhaps, there is a store that sells those still somewhere online…but I doubt that’s where it came from. You’d have to have saved that hat, because it was in pristine condition. The thought behind that boggles me. I always wear my band/concertshit right away i.e. concert t’s, hats, bracelets, etc.

The POINT IS…I later realized the dudes I walked by were Minus the Bear. The band I was about to see were just chillin’, taking in some tasty beverages at the bar next door and conglomerating out in the street like a college frat party. True.

I stood in line to get tickets to the sold out show (I didn’t know if I wanted to go or not, so I did my walk up routine, which by the fact that I’m writing this right now was successful) and pondered how cool that is. I was in line with a bunch of other kids waiting for the show and the band everyone was about to see was 20 feet away. I wonder how many people knew?

This isn’t Mustard Plug people. It’s not any of my friends’ bands. It’s Minus the fucking Bear!? I thought about how I adored the kinetic positionability this band possesses.

I think they have it perfect. Well, perfect for what I, Ryan C. Zerfas, would want to be as a band.

First and foremost, they have a killer catalogue. They are four albums into their illustrious career, which puts them one album short of my milestone of “five albums that make a band legit.” Almost there, boys! Keep up the good work. Let’s take a look at what they’ve given us so far.

Minus the Bear Catalogue:

· Highly Refined Pirates (2002) – This is guitarist Dave Knudsen’s opus. He has the guitar tapping method method down to a science (he didn’t invent it, but he ABUSES it, boy) as well as having a plethora of effect pedals. This album is a masterpiece of up-tempo, throw the chicken on the grill, rock excellence.

· Minos El Oso (2005) – The Spanish album. Although I don’t regard this as “good” as the debut, it builds upon the sound and really mixes in more electronics and big rock choruses.

· Planet of Ice (2007) – The name creates an image of darkness and cold that the music sonically can not get away from. Despite the band name, prepare to be eaten by a baby snowy Polar Bear of rock!

· Omni (2010) – Versatility. This proves MTB can do anything they want as if it were auditioning for Paul Schafer’s old cover band show. No covers were recorded throughout the production of this album, except the colorful album cover.

That’s something I’ve always adored from bands. The ability to make albums of sonic diversification that stands alone as albums place-mark a style and time, as well as, still carrying the flag of the band.

The other thing every band needs is an X-factor. Something original that band can stand on, but isn’t necessarily known for. To me, for Minus the Bear, that’s their guitarist Dave Knudsen. I’ve never heard anyone bring up his guitar playing in a casual conversation, but they should. He really makes the band come alive on stage as well, because he’s always thrashing or tap dancing seamlessly on his guitar pedals, and we’ve already mentioned his mastery of guitar “tapping”. You really wonder how the guy is producing THOSE guitar sounds, but when you watch him, it’s just magical. More people should be talking about this.

I love the idea of having a guy like that, playing in a highly unique fashion. I remember watching in amazement during “Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister!’ as he seemingly had his right hand all the way up with his left hand on the guitar neck. In that song the guitar line just rolls out like a red carpet, although for me, it takes me on a journey like the Rainbow Road level in Mario Kart. I could even fall of the “cliff” per say, and just be spinning into darkness with inner jubilance.

Lastly, but not leastly, the fans. MTB has built a legion of partying concert-goers that are well versed in the catalogue, rowdy, and ready to rock! It’s very important. At both shows I’ve been to, the fans represent a key ingredient. It’s not that the music isn’t good or that there’s nothing else to entertain you, but the fans come through with fist-pumping energy in surplus. That’s something that you can’t always count on.

I know what you’re thinking. Every band has fans, Ryan. Yes, but what I’m saying here is the MTB nation has struck that proper medium. They don’t come off as pompous assholes like the Dave Matthews heads I associate with “fanship downfall”, but they bring the energy to the top degree—with love and friendship.

Like a hot girlfriend bringing you soup when you’re sick. It’s just what you needed, without going over the top. If your girlfriend isn’t hot, it’s still good soup, but you know what you really need to take it over the edge. Dave Matthews Band or Phish “heads” try to be Scarlett Johansson, naked with soup and cookies, but the arrogance leads to a prophetic spill that’s cringe worthy and ever burned into your rhetna’s. You’ll never get the soup and Scarlett Johansson will never be hot in your eyes again. You’re out of whammy’s, return all your “big bucks.”

Yes, MTB has the perfect amount of fanship at a rock show. People jump, but not into you. They wave their hands to the songs, but always fail to punch you in the face. They drink beer and get rowdy, but they never spill on you. If they puff…they pass. (ßI can’t actually back this up)

Let’s review the qualities we’ve talked about. The correct mediums in 1) catalogue 2) defining, but not redefining X-factor 3) fanship.

Everyone knows my favorite band is the Foo Fighters. I wouldn’t want to be them, because they are too big. Too much comes with being too big.

I like the idea of being able to play Bowery Ballroom, Webster, and Music Hall of Williamsburg instead of Madison Square Garden. They allow for big shows, lights, fans, etc without it having to be a mid-city spectacle. On the other end, shows at smaller places while cool, one knows the band cannot live properly filling Mercury Lounge. I wouldn’t want to have to get another job. I would want to music to sustain me, but with enough freedom that I could have a beer at a local establishment without getting MOBBED, yet I’d want some people to know who I was, because I AM awesome.

Unfortunately, bands are defined by their venues. If you play shows at Terminal 5 in the city, I will not see you. I like the mid-range venues and the bands that choose to and have the sack to fill them up. Even better, is a band that could be above mid-range, but is able to step down and fill it up righteously, brother.

Minus the Bear is a band everyone should see. They just opened a new leg of tours and wherever you are, you should make sure you get out and support this level of rock awesomeness.

Just don’t bring too many people with you, or their fifth album will be toured in stadiums, and I’ll have to find another band with the proper kinetic positionability to adore.

Use this knowledge with care; people…superlatives for kinetic positionability don’t come cheap.

Setlist for May 6th at Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister!
Into the Mirror
Throwin’ Shapes
Ice Monster
Summer Angel
This Ain’t a Surfing Movie
White Mystery
Spritz!! Spritz!!
My Time
Hold Me Down
Pachuca Sunrise

Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rank: Songs on Foo Fighters Wasting Light

In the six pages of madness I forgot this part of my review. Easy to do.

I love superlatives. I love lists. I love the numbers of organizing things in order. As a kid, when I would play with my matchbox cars, I would first rank them from worst to first and put them in a line. I would play with the ones I liked least first and look forward to the time when I would be able to play with my favorites in ascending order. Oh, metallic red cop car my grandmother gave me...where are you?

Fun shit.

Here is my ranking of the songs on the Foo Fighters new album:
  1. Bridge Burning
  2. A Matter of Time
  3. Arlandria
  4. Walk
  5. White Limo
  6. Rope
  7. I Should Have Known
  8. Dear Rosemary
  9. These Days
  10. Miss the Misery
  11. Back & Forth

Those that are into this feel free to chime in with yours. If even five or so people do it, I'll make an aggregate ranking and post it in this here blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Foo Fighters Wasting Light Review

The new Foo Fighters release (it’s been four years since 2007’s Echoes, Patience, Silence and Grace) stays true to its namesake, Wasting Light, a lyric taken from the ninth classic rock track on the album “Miss the Misery.” It’s clearly Grohl and company referencing getting the most out of your days, your life and fulfilling your soul’s genuine desires. Carpe Diem, rockers!

Always looking to shake up the bottle kinetically building for the latest pop explosion, the Foo Fighters made a few dynamic throttle adjustments this time around. 1) They enlisted famed producer Butch Vig (known best for the power-crunch of Niravna’s Nevermind) 2) They added a third guitar to the mix with original Foo Fighters and former Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear (last appeared on Foo Fighters’ second album The Color and the Shape) 3) lastly, the album was recorded not only away from Studio 606, but all analog (remember tape, y’all?) in Dave Grohl’s cloistered garage.

What ensued is an album, which in catalog stature, holds parallel firepower to Green Day’s American Idiot. No, there won’t be a Broadway show, eye make up, or pandemonium driven album sales (that doesn’t actually happen anymore!?), but critically, commercially and perhaps interpersonally, this album revives a band that had become viewed by others (not this guy) as slightly stagnant.

Rock ‘em, sock em’ knob turner Butch Vig did an excellent job straining the Foo Fighters vast recording aspirations to the two or three things they do best. Crunching guitars. Thundering teeth gritting drums. And stadium worthy catchy rock choruses. The K.I.S.S. method never sounded so simple.

I see the relationship between Grohl and Vig during this process being very similar to Lou Brown coaching Willie Mays Hayes in Major League. Stop swinging for the fences, put the ball on the ground and use your God given speed, Wesley Snipes. Pushups for Mays Hayes when a pop up is in the air, split screen, with Dave Grohl rewriting a guitar line that, and to quote Dave Grohl’s impression of Vig, “was not heavy enough.”

This may not be the best album the Foo Fighters have ever recorded, but it’s a straight forward collection of rock songs that when strung together, consecutively, 11-strong, rivals The Color and the Shape. It’s at least in the conversation. A conversation that ends, “can’t you see I’ve waited enough?”

Yes, yes I did. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this album. And thank you.

And now for the song-by-song breakdown for those that like graphic detail...

Bridge Burning

The Foo Fighters are the unchallenged kings of the big, building, exploding showers of confetti rock opener. This is no different. This song breaks structural boundaries, much like a previous off-beat opener they did, “All My Life.” It kind of makes you scratch your head with a deadpan look and say to yourself, “is this a song?” Ha.

I would like to break this down like a classic rock opus as I believe the structure and time changes are astounding. I’m just giddy that this song is on an album. It’s just outrageous!

I: Into (0:0 to 0:45): Sliding guitar riff, huge building drums, absolute bone chilling scream of “these are my famous last words!!!!”

II: The Settle (0:45 to 1:08): As the confetti falls, the band settles into a restless, yet easy going choppy and loose muted riff. Kind of like a star point guard dribbling the ball at the top of the key, reading the defense. You know movement will follow. Unless it’s the KNICKS! HEY-O!!!

III: Uphillage Chant (1:08 to 1:30): This actually has to parts as well. A) Alliteration and repetitive beat chanting like a village of pillagers ransacking a pillage of villagers. B) The village of pillagers charge up the hill as tone and drum beat begin to escalate into a serious trot. Everyone screams and raises their sword.

IV: Pride Stamp (1:30 to 1:41): This just beams with pride. The lyrics are kind of like an ex-lover’s letter of anguish. Dr. G hits you with “whatever keeps you warm at night”, and Taylor echoes the sentiment, followed by a similar “whatever keep you warm inside,” and a building scream.

V: The Chorus (1:41 to 2:10): Yes, this is the chorus. It rings back and forth (pun not intended originally) like a nursery rhyme, like say…”London Bridges.” It’s catchy like you know the tale from your childhood, but actually you’ve never heard it. To top it off, they added a psychedelic backing vocal to make it seem like Pink Floyd is reading Mother Goose.

Reprise opening riff, reprise part A of “The Settle” (2:10 to 2:26)

VI: The Angry (2:26 to 2:38): This is my favorite part of the song. The Foo Fighters move away from “The Settle (reprise)” and become an angry punk band. It’s different than “Uphillage Chant” because it already has the anger and kinetic rock energy from the song. It just kind of punches you in the face with “tell me what’s in it for me/tell me NOW what’s in it for me/nobody’s getting this for free/so tell me what’s in it for MEEEEE!” So delicious.

Reprise “Pride Stamp”, reprise “The Chorus” (2:38 to 3:18)

VII: Gathering the Ashes (3:18 to 3:42): This also has a very visual aesthetic combined with the nursery rhyme alliteration to make a stunning visual of “gathering the ashes”…I dare you to not think of someone picking up the pieces from all the rocking that has taken place in the song. Not to mention there is a ticking clock pace to the whole thing that’s quite unsettling. Even though it sounds good, the frantic pace of gathering the ashes…can only last so long. Like a defusing of a bomb scene. Build, build, build and cut away.

Reprise “The Chorus” (3:42 to 4:05)

VIII: Bridge Burning Montage (4:05 to 4:33): Mainly a mash of “The Chorus” with “Gathering the Ashes”, but it kind of feels like everything you’ve experience throughout the song being flashed at you like a grand finale. Just a bam-bam-bam throwing everything at you. No room for air. Just fireworks. Like an 80’s montage scene in fast forward. John Cusak makes a cameo.

A big rock finish (4:33 to 4:46): Just the classic “Bridge Burning” riff and huge drum outro from Taylor Hawkins wraps this thing up.

I guess it’s safe to say I REALLY like this song. It really is like a sketch comedy movie of songs (like how Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a bunch of sketches tied together for a movie), only not funny…just ROCK.


I covered this song months ago as it was the first single and pretty much ALL I listened to for a month. This one song.

This is the sexiest song on the album. The blend of Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins’ vocals is at their peak of their creation. I’ve been waiting for Dr. G to give Taylor some “Rope” literally, and let him flex those classic rock pipes. This is the best example of why they should do this.

The Rush timing as the song winds up and spins out is uncanny. I also enjoy the drum fill bridge given to Taylor. It’s pretty much a gift to Taylor Hawkins that became a gift to Foo Fighters nation. Everybody wins!

Dear Rosemary

Every band has their influences. I always enjoy listening to a band and then discovering a band that influenced them, because it puts you on a trip of realization like “wow…THIS is where they got THAT from.”

Husker Du is that band for the Foo Fighters. If you’re a Foo Fighter fan, it’s imperative that you listen to a couple Husker Du albums. It will throw you for a trip. Much of the Foo Fighters percussion over the years is pretty much ganked from this band.

That’s why it’s awesome that they got Bob Mould, lead singer of Husker Du, to appear on this song. Grohl has a habit of inviting his idols/friends/colleagues to the studio to jam as a way of fulfilling his dreams as well as making great music. Think Josh Homme, John Paul Jones, Norah Jones, Khaki King, etc.

Again, this really worked incredibly well. Their voices blend together with splendid meticulousness. It just sounds like a couple of guys that enjoy each others’ music having a blast. The fun blasts off the pages and into your headphones. Mould’s backing vocals are grizzled, yet pleasantly poppy. It packs freshness to a Foo Fighters recording that would otherwise require a good set of Tupperware.

Seriously, get out and get some Husker Du, if you learn anything from this experience.

White Limo

Waaaaaaaah wit yo bad self!? That seems to be the chorus. You gotta love that! I also covered "White Limo" in depth in my preview of the album. The greatest thing about this song is it’s an obvious tribute to the first album screamers “Weenie Beenie” and Wattershed.” They were even able to get the verse vocals to sound lo-fi and straight up ROUGH.

This song exemplifies a sound the Foo Fighters have mastered. Before “screamo” became a genre, some bands were actually able to pair screaming and catchy rock in a digestible fashion. It’s remarkable to me in their older songs like “Hey Johnny Park” and “My Poor Brain” how something can be so catchy and easy on the ears and mid-sentence there is a wishbone radiating scream.

White Limo hits this with “WHIIIIIIIIIIIITE LIIIIIIIMMOOOOOOO” or “Allllllllllllllriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight” followed by an incredibly catchy “you got something/you wanna try and buy or sell?” I’m actually not sure what he’s saying. Is this a song about an import/exporter? Costanza!?!?

The vocals are so rough and I haven’t found the exact lyrics printed anywhere. Either way, the video has it right—go find yourself a big white limo and if you can’t find a limo, a Cutlass Supreme would work perfectly. Get yourself a bottle of Jack and go for a drive around until you fly off a cliff i.e. Tounces the Driving Cat.

It may not be the most responsible suggestion, but nothing about this song is for responsible non-rocking adults.


Arlandria is a geographic placename, much like Tribeca in NYC, referring to a specific neighborhood between Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. The song also has a hook that bellows “my sweet Virginia/I’m the same as I was in your arms” which is an exquisite double entendre about this neighborhood in Virginia where he grew up and has nostalgia for, coupled with his mother, Virginia Grohl. Sounds like a great Mothers’ Day present!?

I feel like this song is the unsung hero on this album. It’s quite possibly the best song, although I would like to say I prefer “Bridge Burning” and “Matter of Time”, but this easily could be viewed as a superior cut with the big rock drums and delightfully nostalgic lyrics. In that way, it’s comparable to “Ain’t It the Life” off There’s Nothing Left to Lose, which to me always lurks in the shadows of “Aurora” and “Stacked Actors”, which are often listed #1 and #2 respectively in my personal favorite Foo songs.

When I heard Arlandria as the fifth cut to Wasting Light, I started to believe this could possibly be their best work.

These Days

The opening of this song deke’s you into thinking a ballad is on the way. This is the closest one will get to such “ballad nonsense” on Wasting Light, but it’s a deke after all, and it settles into a nice mid-pace rock song. The tone and sonic darkness make it seem like it’s branded with the black backdrop and white lettered heart of their album 2004 album One by One. Unlike most of that album, the lyrics and hook will burrow right in and make you desire unwillingly to sing-a-long.

I know a band has made a catchy song if I, Ryan C. Zerfas, have a NEED to sing-a-long. Something about this song pulls that same heart chord as “Times Like These” only with an approach more like “Tired of You”, but trading the sharp edge of silence with the serrated edge of somber reprieve.

I can’t help but smile and say…“Yeeeeeah it’s alllllllllllright!”

Back & Forth

This is the worst song on the album. If there is a moment to go grab a beer during the Wasting Light show—this is it! That’s not a bash on this song, but more of a testament to how good the product is as a whole.

I think the verses are incredibly catchy and fun, but once it launches into the chorus, I can’t help but feel I’ve heard this before. In my opinion, “End Over End” and “Resolve” already beat this hook into the ground.

It makes me think of that SNL sketch about Aerosmith where “Crazy”, “Amazin’” and “Cryin’” are all pretty much interchangeable. It’s kind of like that to me.

A Matter of Time

This number storms out of the gate sounding eerily similar to “Bulls on Parade”, but quickly settles into the most uniquely timed song on the album. In many ways, this song reminds me of “Lonely As You” on One By One as it’s a track eight following seven fairly straight forward rock songs. Both songs have awkward time signatures that change pace more than a Girl Talk number and they remain the only two Foo Fighters songs with backing vocal driven choruses. The “ooooooo” and repeating chorus line style backing vocals really takes the spotlight in this number.

The other thing I pick out of this song is another strong influence from their buddy Stewart Copeland and the Police. The “it’s just a matter of time/before/before” actually sounds like MuteMath, who sound like a newer version of the Police. The only thing separating it from said examples is the Grohl/Hawkins heavy metal drum fills, that sprinkle of “Bulls on Parade” from the into like a thundercloud of rock, and, oh yeah, the song ending in a Dave Grohl skin melting scream, “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!”

I’d like to see Sting do THAT.

Miss the Misery

When you listen to this one you can’t help but feel it’s spinning from an actual record player. I’m not exactly sure how and why. I feel like this is a song that I’d hear and remember the Foo Fighters 10-15 years from now, yet that’s kind of an oxymoron, because they’ve been around for 16 years, but their original stuff sounded nothing like this. Deep breathe. Get all of that?

I believe this to be the fruition of a band that’s been around for a long time paying homage to themselves as a rock n’ roll stalwart. Kind of like Death Proof was a Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to himself, featuring what almost plays out as spoofs of his other movies. This isn’t as blatant and it’s certainly not as intentional. Grohl and Tarantino are at opposite ends of the genuine/cocky barometer, and yet are both loveable in their own way.

However, in an album playing out like a garage sale of Easter colored kids clothes, this is the bamboo antique coffee table in the corner with no tag. Price check…aisle rock?

I Should Have Known

There has been a revolving theme of comparing this album to The Color and the Shape throughout this piece. One thing that separates the albums is the theme of the music. I love TCATS so much, because there seems to be a theme of “love lost”, which is EXACTLY what I have used that album for in the past. It has traveled through time with me in that way. It has that nostalgia. It got me through an extremely difficult time(s).

Wasting Light on the other hand seems to have more of a theme of nostalgia for the past and braving through it to get the most out of everything that’s left. Exactly what you’d expect from an aging band. It’s definitely more upbeat than TCATS, however, it does have a very emotional closing—like any good relationship that has to come to an end.

For this cut, there was a huge reunion at the Grohl residence. Obviously, Butch Vig from Nevermind was already turning the knobs, and Pat Smear shredding the guitars, but that left one piece to complete the package…former Nirvana bassist Krist Novocelic.

What takes place is certainly the most “epic” track on the album. It opens with a string arrangement much like “The Pretender” and carries you on a journey though a gut wrenching, self realization piece about relationships. It certainly brings a poignant side out of Groh’s songwriting you don’t get too often. It’s a real tear jerker.

The biggest Foo Fighters cliché is saying “hey, that song is about Kurt Cobain.” Sometimes even clichés are remotely accurate. I mean, hypothetically, that is the ONLY way to fully complete this reunion?


The Foo Fighters are also sultans of the epic album closer. They really have the lock and key to opening an album huge, setting an early tone and then knowing exactly what it’s going to take to close it. If you look throughout their history…they have this mastered.

Foo Fighters epic album closers in chronological order:

  • Exhausted – A nearly six-minute closer to the self-titled album with a huge instrumental rock finish. It’s like if Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a 200-page children’s book.
  • New Way Home – Takes you through a walk around the boats and the kingdom as you realize you’re going to be “ok.” It employs the “and a little bit softer now” approach finishing with a scream and rock out.
  • M.I.A. – Not heavy, epic or long, however, neither was this album. It does have a beautiful chorus with Grohl screaming “You won’t find me I’m going M.I.A!!!” So, in that way it’s kind of cool, because this album actually says goodbye, folks.
  • Comeback – Probably the best example of an epic finisher totaling almost eight minutes. Often forgotten about, I’m not sure they’ve even played this one live. Ouch. It employs the fade in, near classical guitar bridge, before returning for the big rock finish. It would be a typical Track 4 for a band like Dream Theater, but for the Foo Fighters, it’s the only one of its kind.
  • End Over End/Razor – “End Over End” sounds like a rock out at the end of a Neil Young & Crazy Horse set. Not a bad way to close the “not so soft” side of the double album In Your Honor, and “Razor” works well for the acoustic side as well. It features Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar and is arguably a song Dave Grohl wrote that made him realize he needed to do a Foo Fighters style orchestra album—much in the way that Bon Jovi can be created with the creation of MTV Unplugged with their “Wanted Dead or Alive” Grammy performance.
  • Home – Dave Grohl channels his inner Norah Jones by closing their “return to eclectic” album with an intimate piano and vocal slow dance.

I bring all this up, because I feel “Walk” breaks this cycle. Nothing about the song says to me “ok, this album is coming to a close.” That point is solidified by its selection as the second single on the album, as well as, easily being the fan favorite by most I’ve discussed with thus far.

It does have similarities to “New Way Home” sonically and lyrically. I love the childhood breeze of “Do you remember the days/we built these paper mountains/then sat and watched them burn.” That reminds me of just about every White Stripes song. So, perhaps, it’s perfect.

It also has the big screaming build, much like the cadence of “The Best of You” with Grohl just shredding his voice with short one liners, repetitively. That DOES give you the feeling of an emotional close.

It just wraps up leaving you craving more. Like at a live show when a band finishes their first encore, but you feel there’s a chance they’ll come back out for a second, but then the house lights come on. It’s sad when “Walk” rings out so quickly, because it’s the house lights for the album. Previously, when Foo albums closed, you KNEW that was it, because there was no topping what you just heard for a finale.

When you think about it “Walk” actually does this job magnificently, and is perhaps the best actual song of all these “epic closers”, but it just doesn’t feel way in the moment. Many times, the deepest impacts happen in reflection and that gives this product a lasting power one cannot deny.

At the dinner table we go for seconds when we’re full. Hey, the food is good, help yourself, right? But in this instance, you leave full, wanting more, yet are light enough on your feet to meet today’s challenges.

That is what Wasting Light is about. Bravo Mr. Grohl!? If you need me, I’ll be going for a “Walk!?”