Thursday, January 31, 2013

Musical Phases

I like all kinds of music. It doesn't really matter what style it is, if it speaks to me and I can feel the genuine emotion then I dig it. Surprisingly, there's a freight train full of good and original stuff out right now and I'm loving it! I have no shame or musical alliances that I adhere to, if I like it, I like it and I really don't care if one genre thinks it's stupid. I feel like music shouldn't have boundries.  Here's some new finds that I thought I'd share.

The Lumineers - Wrapped in a train hopping 1930s circus hobo image, The Lumineers sometimes dark folky goodness first caught my ear with the song Stubborn Love which sort of reminds me of the major label version of Tim Barry without losing the integrity.

Cradle of Filth - I've pretty much always dug Cradle Of Filth. They're over the top blasphemous music is still full of emotion that drives my story-minded brain into overdrive. Here's a fun fact, I've probably written more words while Cradle Of Filth is playing than any other band. They just have scenic music, especially when writing action. I haven't heard it all yet, but they're new album The Maticore and Other Horrors is on par with some of the better CoF records.

Alt-J - I just heard this band the other day and I really really like them. The first song I heard is called Breezeblocks and is like a weird Radiohead meets Bad Brains meets Porishead group from England. It's quite original and has a sort of dark, chill yet quality beat driven music. Somehow, the feeling reminds me of classic Jane's Addiction but in a totally different way.

Krewella - Signed to Skrillex's label, Krewella is like a modern day Tatu. I told you I have no shame and despite their gimmick that was still kind of awesome, Tatu made good music damnit. Krewella is much like that but has a solid five songs that are awesome. Keep in mind that these girls and dude just came out last year, so as long as they don't implode, they could put out some darn good music for quite some time.

Loss - Opposite on the musical planet is the band Loss, from Nashville, TN. This is Doom Metal at it's best and dare I say ranks up in all modern metal's best. While thunderously heavy and slow, Loss still puts me in a cerebral state that conjures images of burning cities and apocalyptical landscapes. See my previous post, "Loss (the band)" from earlier in the month to see a full description.

Graveyard - I'm not a huge fan of the new 70s metal that's out right now, I kind of dig Graveyard. They're unapologetic look and music makes them look like they stepped out of a time machine but their music sounds like Monster Magnet but with more modern hooks.

Nero - I don't know a lot about this band but I know they've had some hype for a while. The song Promises featuring Skrillex is really good.

AWOLNATION - From the band, Under The Influence Of Giants. Awolnation's one man band hit the radio charts with the song Sail, which sounds like Nine Inch Nails with a little more sass and less seriousness. The sad thing is I hate every other song on the album. The rest of the record is just too Weird Al - goofy for me.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - From what I've read, this band is a strange mix of like twelve musicians that often play together in different numbers depending on who's available. It's again a folky style with an alt-country feel I dig the songs, Home, Om Nashi Me and Bad Bad Love (By Alexander) one of the many members of the band.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beer, Princesses, and Books

It's time for a little update on the Valentino family for a fun glimpse into some things coming up. While we've been in a sort of holding pattern on some things, we've also been gearing up for some really cool things in the future.


Everyone knows we love beer in this household. We're self professed (and official) Beer Knurds according to the Flying Saucer in Nashville. Adopting a snout to tail sort of attitude for beer, after drinking, we've been stripping and collecting the labels and caps on beer bottles for some fun art projects coming up. We then recycle the glass at a local collection center. If all works out as planned and the pieces turn out like we think they will, we might add these to a bazaar-style shop that we'll test out soon.

Lizzie is a bad ass seamstress. She can make professional quality clothes in nearly every different style. After making a perfect replica Snow White and The Huntsman dress for Halloween for Kaya, we thought making princess dresses and kid's fashions would be a fun endeavour. So she's been working hard and perfecting her skills while building up some inventory for a clothing company which we'll reveal more about later. I thought it would be fun to have another you heard it hear first sort of post. So be on the lookout for kick ass kids clothes, and new original fashions. Also a kickstarter... gasp!

I'm waiting for word on the dates for the reissue of Thomas Riley and the second book, Thomas Riley and the Maelstrom. I did get the almost finished cover art from the awesome Will Routon and I have to say I love it! It's an action packed piece that I feel like is a wonderful act 2 in the series. It has a darker feel than the first cover which fits the story nicely. I'm not allowed to show you yet and I was going to post a teaser but blogger isn;t recognizing my cropped image... Grrr. Sorry. As always, the second I hear anything about the books, I'll post it here first.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fall With Me

I figured I'd take a stroll back in time to talk a little more about music. Our music that is. For those that know me, you know that I was in a band for years, several of them in fact and I'm pretty proud of what we were able to to with those years despite how difficult the music business can be.

Staring at the Sun

It really started to pick up when I was in a band called Staring at the Sun. We played regionally in the South East and gained a decent amount of notoriety playing with bands like Today is the Day, Buzzoven, Brainiac, Love Bucket and Slaphappy Superfly, and Buzzkill. It was always kind of hard for me to define what any of my bands were genre-wise, we always did our own thing but pretty much stayed on the heavy side of things. We put out several demos and played a lot of shows mostly locally but some regionally. Song-wise, I know the song, Dejecta, got a lot of local airplay on the radio. If I had to guess, we were a mix of sort of grunge meets Slayer. It was a good time and I had great friends that I cherish to this day. (BTW this is some of us with Tony Read at what I think was "The Jailhouse" in Manchester, TN.  And yes that's me in the pink skirt. I have no shame.)

From there me and a few of the members made a band called Starscream (yes, named after the transformer waaaaayyyy before Michael Bay got his hands on the franchise) that band was a freakier more electronic style of heaviness as we loved Trip-Hop at the time. We never saw the light of day show-wise but we did record an album which I probably have floating around a box someplace.

Needing to move forward, we joined up with friends from school and formed Chikara, which was another kooky mix of hardcore and space rock. Chikara was on a "split cassette" with Process is Dead and From Ashes Rise and went on the first leg of a Process is Dead tour that took us from Florida to Georgia, and back into Tennessee and Kentucky. We also played house shows with Dillinger Escape Plan, From Ashes Rise and Trial. That band fell apart a few months after the tour due to certain members that were not impressed by the play anywhere and just have fun philosophy that some of us had. They wanted to play music that would attract girls while we wanted to play whatever made us happy. Funny that not too long later they would be one in the same.

Fall With Me 1.0
So Dave and I (Note that Dave had been with me through all of this.) went out to look for band members that could embrace what we were looking for musically and have the balls to get out and play a ton of shows. Then Dave spoke with Brandon and Jonas from the local band Dragwurm who we all dug and Rick Hanan from the death metal band Embodiment. It seemed an awkward fit to me at first as these guys had very strong and one of a kind personalities but it turns out that these people became some of my best friends to this day. After one demo, we had problems with our drummer and recruited long time friend and Staring at the Sun drummer, Brad Lawson (AKA Granny) to join.

Fall With Me 1.1

With Granny now in the band, Fall With Me put out another demo (Chemical Cathari) and two full length records (The First Days of Forever on Spat! Records) (Rise Phoenix Rise, Spat! Records) and even did a Quicksand cover that sadly never saw the light of day. We traveled extensively in the South East and played with more notable bands than I can name, A few of them including, Dillinger Escape Plan, Jucifer, Mastodon, Shai Hulud, Zao, Milemarker, Buried Inside, Not Waving But Drowning, Converge, Unearth, Blindside, Hopesfall, Nothingface, Norma Jean (which was then called Ludi Kriss), Kylesa, Breather Resist, Drowning Man, and Spitfire. One of the most impressive and nifty things is we hit #14 on the college rock charts and were the #2 most added albums on college radio at some point. Again, it's in a magazine someplace. We had a fire and a swagger and we had some crazy and amazing times all across the East coast. You can hear both albums here on Last FM as well as on Spotify. (Just search Fall With Me) It's really a shame that at our pinnacle we crumbled. After five years of playing around and getting some really fun swagger, some of us wanted to tour and some of didn't... at least not in that "get in the van" sort of way. Half the band had different philosophies on success and shows so we split in half. Dave, Granny and I went on while Beebs and Rick went on to form the metalcore band Nadina Das.

Fall With Me 2.0

Again, Dave and I continued under the Fall With Me name, adapting a slightly more contained sound and getting a new bass player. (Brad Green AKA Blackberry) We recorded an album, called Only from The Cold, My Friend, Spat! Records) and a 7 Inch Vinyl Record. (Spat! Records/Vacant Cage Records) and went on tour again taking us from Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, New Orleans to Indiana to Manhattan, and Brooklyn. We hit the stage again with some great bands like Mastodon (again), Horse the Band, Between The Buried and Me, Jucifer (again) and Hermatavore. Much to our dismay, we had to change drummers again as Granny opted to go play with the band, Love Bucket in their second short lived incarnation.

Fall With Me 2.1

We found Charlie (AKA Chuck/Chizzle/), and toured regionally playing with bands like Horse the Band, Officer May and The Detachment Kit.This is where we met Clover who became our official photographer and friend for life. We recorded a much heavier EP called, Stitches named after our trials and tribulations as well as our bass player cutting most of his thumb off. Note that he still played in a cast.

Goodbye My Empress

After the departure of our bass player, Blackberry for personal reasons that didn't include his thumb, we were looking to reinvent ourselves and found another bass player, Justin, from the band No Party and formed Goodbye My Empress. Similar to Fall With Me, Goodbye My Empress took on a more noisy sound incorporating influences like Engine Kid and Drive Like Jehu into the music. You can still hear it here. After playing several shows in the area and recording a demo, we fell apart from my doing. For a while I'd been working on writing a few books in my off time. The drama and stress of being in a band began to get to me. I could see the days of touring were starting to narrow as we were getting married, getting houses and moving in a more sedentary lifestyle. There was also drama as Chuck left for a missed opportunity to go on tour with the band, Bone Pony. I didn't want to start over again. Even if we did, I didn't see us touring like we used to and to me, that nearly eliminated our chances of success.

Books and touring again

So I jumped into writing books in my non-day job time. As twisted as this may sound, I used this to tour on my own. I hit the con circuit like I wanted to with a band. Don't get me wrong. I love everyone that I was ever in a band with, we still share something special that I really can't describe. It was a brotherly comradery, a true second family but I had to go to try other things.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nashville vs. Washington

Since moving to Washington, I've noticed some interesting differences so I thought it appropriate to do a post highlighting cultural differences between the South and the North West.

Hoodies vs. Sweatshirts - I've always known long sleeve medium to heavy fabric up or pull over tops with a hood as a "hoodie". In Washington, they almost exclusively call them, sweatshirts. My definition of a sweatshirt was always a top with a t-shirt collar (no hood) as a sweatshirt. It resembles a sweater more than anything in my book. But in Washington, everything is called a sweatshirt. Personally, I don;t like the term as it makes me a shirt that is made for sweating.

Tattoos - In Nashville, Tattoos are still big but really hit their hipster pinnacle in the 90s along with hardcore music and rap/rock. In Washington, tons of people have tattoos and the most interesting fact is that a lot of older people have tattoos (50+) and they look to be pretty new. In Nashville, very few of the 50+ crowd have tattoos unless they got them when they were younger.

Piercings - Like tattoos, piercings in Nashville were a big deal in the 90s but seem to have lost much of their fashionability by the 2000s. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people with fresh piercings in Nashville, but not to the degree or multitude that they were back in the day. So to my surprise, there are still a lot of people in Washington with a bunch of piercings. It's a bit of a culture shock as I was used to them being pretty much gone or at least not as many.

Dyed hair - This is still pretty much everywhere but again, in Washington you see a lot of older people with dyed hair. It's still pretty strange for me to see a 60 year old woman with purple hair, but in Washington it's semi-common.

Soda vs. Coke - I know it's silly and somewhat ignorant to call all soda-pop, Coke but that's how I grew up. You asked for a Coke and people will ask you what kind of Coke you want. In the South, Coke is just another term for soda. In Washington a Coke is a Coke and the generic term is soda. (which honestly makes more sense) But I have to say the term Coke seems homey and warm to me.

Accents - You very rarely hear a southern accent in Washington which is weird to me as I've been around them all my life and surely have somewhat of one myself. In Washington, you hear a strange hybrid of accents that sometimes seem to be a weird mix of Northern Mid-West (Think Fargo) and Canadian. People pronounce their T's strongly and often change the pronunciation of the letter A into ai or ie.

Clothes - Of course, Washington is much colder than Tennessee in general so you naturally see warmer fashions year round. The funny thing is before I came here I had a generalized idea of what people in Washington wore, probably from movies and such. The funny part... a lot of it is true! You see a lot of brown coats with faux white fur and a ton of people rock "Mountain Hard Wear" brand jackets. I guess it's pretty warm stuff. The most interesting thing I've seen is there is big trend here for ladies to wear jeans with sparkly designs on the butts... It's not a bad thing, it's kind of fun honestly but I haven;t really seen it anywhere else, including my trip back to Nashville in October.

As Davidson County has been places to live by CNN, Sammamish WA has also been named the friendliest city in the US. In a nutshell, I feel like Nashville has more going on right now but Seattle has more of an established well roundedness.

I hope you enjoyed my culture shock post. There's undoubtedly more but these are the things that come to mind right now. Maybe in the future I'll do more posts as I notice the differences between the different sides of the country.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Loss (The Band)

Sadly, since moving to Washington, we haven't gotten a lot of chances to see any shows. Seattle gets just about every band you'd want to see coming through at one point or another, so we need to really make it a point to keep our ears to the ground and get out more.

In October we were treated to a bad ass show in downtown Seattle from the Doom Metal band Loss. Interestingly enough, we're friends with the guys in the band (one of which I lived with for 8 years) and this was such a cool chance to see them in again as they stopped in Seattle on the second date of their North West tour with Worm Ouroboros.

Once upon a time I would have told you that "Doom Metal" was kind of silly but I'm here to say that I'm eating those words in a ten course meal. I've always liked Loss but about a year ago I saw them again in Nashville, TN and that was when I went from like to holy crap these guys are on to something awesome. With songs that range from crushing slow heaviness to almost Spanish influenced mellow sections, Loss really snagged me with some emotionally charged music that spoke to the part of me that gets obsessed with certain songs or entire albums.

I also picked up their album, Despond (Profound Lore Records), which I'll just say is absolutely awesome the entire way through. I like the record so much I have no idea what is next for the band. How can they top that? And if they do, it's going to be an album for the ages. You heard it here.

Live, Loss was even better than before and it was so awesome to see everyone again. I have to say, it's a cool treat to see people you've been friends with for like 16 years on this side of the country.

In a nutshell, Loss is a great band and I'm stoked to hear what they come out with next. I hope they get up this way again on their next tour.

                                             Loss in Seattle. (Sorry my pic is crappy)

Check Loss out here, give it a listen then pick up the album for download.


Loss' Facebook

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

October Blog Stats

Due to the blackout, you're just now getting my most unpopular blog post again. To reiterate, I do this to satisfy my own love for statistics and for those that are interested in how their blogs do vs. others. Not only does it help me figure out who and what does well view-wise, but it helps me plan blogs in the future.

So, the big winner is DJ Ichabod's "Out ov The Coffin" Gothic radio show, which I've been a fan of for yeeeeaaarrrsss. The close second was the post on Michael West's horror novel, Spook House. The big loser is... well, the September blog stats as I'm sure this post will probably be the least viewed this month as well. hahaha.

Here's the chart. See you with a new post tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 35 Days of Halloween

Halloween is our favorite holiday. To celebrate, we watched a crap ton of horror movies (exclusively) all throughout October. We actually started a few days before October and ended a few days after. We were obsessed. We saw everything from classic horror movies to the lowest budget flicks we could get our hands on.

Below is the list of movies (In order) we saw  (55 in all!) and below that are the winners and losers of this year's 35 Days of Halloween!

- The Last Exorcism
- The Tall Man
- Cherry Falls
- Lake Placid The Final Chapter
- The Hitcher
- The Room Mate
- The Fourth Kind
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- And Soon The Darkness
- Are You Scared?
- Last House on the Left
- My Soul To Keep
- Shocker
- 28 Days Later
- The Invisible
- Predators
- Are You Scared? 2
- The Devil Inside
- May
- Dying God
- The Uninvited
- Venom
- The Countess
- Scar
- From Hell
- Bloody Murder
- The Hunters
- Fright Night (2012)
- Night of The Living Dead
- Maneater
- Wake The Witch
- The Covenant
- Ominous
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Daybreakers
- Vanishing on 7th Street
- The Collector
- Children of The Corn Genesis
- Machete
- Dreamcatcher
- Cyrus
- Hellraiser
- Hellbound Hellraiser II
- Soroity Row
- The Evil Dead
- Faces in the Crowd
- Planet Terror
- The Canyon
- Side FX
- Dark Water
- Hide and Seek
- Antichrist
- 30 Days of Night
- Dale and Tucker vs. Evil
- Dark Fields

And now for the WINNERS of The 35 Days of Halloween!

Nominees for Best of 35DoH 2012
- Machete
- Vanishing on 7th Street
- The Collector
- The Fourth Kind

and the winner is... The Collector - Pretty different for a horror movie with a clever killer and a super tough thief turned hero.

Nominees for Most truly frightening of 35DoH2012
- May
- Antichrist
- The Fourth Kind
- 30 Days of Night

and the winner is... The Fourth Kind - This one was kind of shocking how real it seemed. It was filmed as a sort of documentary and had a special message at the end from the actors... was it real after all?? It actually had me guessing and brought out several "Holy crap, for real?" moments.

Nominees for worst (and sort of best in the worst possible way) are:
- Wake The Witch
- Are You Scared?
- Are You Scared? 2
- Side FX

and the winner is... Wake The Witch- Beyond Terrible acting. Hilarious makeup and a story that makes absolutely no sense at all. If you have an old video camera and a terrible story, you could make this movie.

Nominees for Biggest surprise (in a good way)
- Fright Night
- Vanishing on 7th Street
- Antichrist
- The Collector

and the winner is... Fright Night - This remake of the classic horror movie is one of the best horror remakes I've ever seen. It's witty, funny, and a bit freaky in a very modern way. It's actually become a movie we watch over and over again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Blackout and guess what? We had another wedding!

Huge aplogies. We had over a month without proper internet capabilites, then all of our computers died due to hard drive issues... It's like they had a suicide pact. But thanks to the amazing talent of Lizzie Valentino, we now have one back! That was crazy. But we're back and things couldn't be better.

There are tons of blogs I want to write but I figured I'd start with the biggest news first.
Liz and I got married again! This time was more of a celebration for friends and family as officially we've been married since labor day weekend. The niftiest part is that we did it all for about $150. No kidding. The clothes, the food, the drinks, the decor... everything for a grand total of $150. We had 1000 butterflies (instead of cranes) which I'm particularly proud of. Liz traced and cut them out while the kids and I decorated each one uniqely. See pics below. Liz's brother, Brian, officiated the ceremony which was awesome and we had a great crowd (bigger than expected) show up which was really great.

So it was wonderful to marry my love again. It was magical in a new way this time. In front of people, new vows and happy things to say... The experience was once in a lifetime but this time, I got to expirience it twice. Thanks to everyone that came out, shed us well, posted on our walls, took pictures and generally were amazing all the way around. Super special thanks to everyone that helped us with this... (Brian, Jen, Anthony, Mom, Autumn) It was crazy to pull it off but your help really made it all possible. A thousand thank yous!

In other news:
-I'm waiting on the release date for Thomas Riley 2 and the rerelease of Thomas Riley (1). I'll let everyone know the instant I hear something.
- Look for new blogs on "The 33 days of Halloween", "Loss (The band)" Lizzie's new princess dress company and tons more.
-Now that I have a computer back, you'll be hearing much more and more often.

 Me and the very lovely Lizzie

Our Officiant, Brian having a celebratory glass of vino

Our Seattle friend and fellow Steampunk, Andy.

    1000 Butterflies