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Spring Breaks

So this is the first spring break I’ve taken the entire week off. Where did we go, you ask? Well let’s see, we went to the grocery store, the public library, the record shop, and the…oh, you mean like “Where in Florida did you and your family go?” Well, we didn’t go to the Sunshine State. We stayed right here in the “we can legally discriminate against gays” state. I’m not much for hot temps and skin cancer, given my Eastern European complexion, so we stayed at home. We did head north to the illustrious Hall of Heroes Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. Second spring break in a row we checked that place out. Cool stuff. They even had Captain Americas’ shield. The one used in both movies, with the autographs of everyone in the Captain America: The Winter Soldier and those that are on Marvel: Agents of Shield. Pretty cool. This time my wife went with us and my son didn’t throw up. Both really good things. We stopped at Polito’s Italian Eatery and I had the best Philly Cheese Steak sub I’ve ever had. Good times.

Elsewhere I did a ton of yard work. The yard is ready for summer and mowing thanks to my super human strength and overwhelming stubbornness. I also picked up some vinyl(of course I did.) I’ve also been working on some music. Finishing up some tracks that have needed some finishing touches for some time. My best pal built me my own computer tower that will be used exclusively for music making and mastering. I plan on downloading some software and locking myself in front of the computer until I have a novice understanding of music mastering. You heard it here first, folks.

What else have I been doing this week? Well the wife found out she’ll be traveling quite a bit this spring and summer for work, so that set the wheels in motion as to what and how I’ll do the one parent thing for those times she’ll be gone. It’ll be hard, but we’ll make it work. This will be good for her in the experience and training department. Once we get to summer it’ll be easy peasy. Promise.

Okay, that’s all I got.

Well, maybe I’ve got a little more…

My good friend Joe Storey over at the 1537 website had the honor of hanging out with New York space/psych/groove rockers White Hills yesterday at Islington Mill. They put on a killer show from what I heard and Mr. 1537 even got to hang out and chat with the band a bit. I’d say this elevates Mr. Storey to that of an immortal. He will now be saving nations with his super powers and will most certainly build a fortress on some distant planet where he’ll lift weights, drink protein shakes made from the ground up bones of the Ancients, and will spin vinyl made of adamantium-laced gold.

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Lightning Bolt : Fantasy Empire

Back in the day I used to get together with a friend of mine on a random Friday or Saturday night.lightning bolt There would be lots of beer consumed and albums shared between the two of us. This friend, we’ll call him Shane since that’s his name, would bring his entire record collection over in digital form and would play me things he thought I’d like. The next day with a headache in tow I’d clean up all the empty beer bottles and saunter to my computer room and see what he left for me to listen to. Sometimes albums would hit immediately, while others never hit. But sometimes I’d have some albums tucked away on my hard drive that I’d forget about and months later rediscover them. Boards Of Canada, Blonde Redhead, High On Fire, and MSTRKRFT were just a few that were leftovers from those excessive beer drinking nights I would grow to really like(in Boards of Canada’s case, I would grow to love.)

Another band that my pal left for me to explore was Lightning Bolt. It took awhile for me to get into these guys. At first listen they’re harsh, loud, caffeinated, and overwhelming. Brian Chippendale(drums and vocals) and Brian Gibson(bass guitar) are a duo that are a force of nature. They make music that’s elastic and heavy. At times they’re so heavy it’s nearly cartoonish. Like an R. Crumb-drawn version of Heavy Metal. But after awhile you realize these two are for real. There’s just no barrier between the music and the listener. Much like seeing them live, they’re not on a stage above the crowd looking down; they’re IN the crowd surrounded by their sweaty minions, blasting this elastic heavy metal until ears bleed.

Since 1999 Lightning Bolt have released six raw, ear-curdling albums. Ten years of refining and perfecting their version of speed metal has led up to their newest release, Fantasy Empire. I can say without a doubt that Fantasy Empire is their best album since 2003s Wonderful Rainbow. It doesn’t lessen the massive power blow past albums have given to our heads, but instead cleans it up a bit(thanks to recording in a real deal hi fi studio). The result is striking and immediate. The drums explode out of the speakers, like a tribal death march. Gibson’s bass is low, growl-y, and cuts through the mix like a razor. Vocals are still of the rotary telephone variety, but that’s how they’re supposed to be. This is the quintessential Lightning Bolt album.

The songs? You know, there’s nothing here I need to go over in great detail with. It’s everything you want in a Chippendale/Gibson banger: massive volume, breakneck speed, out-of-this-world noise, and a metal precision any so-called “metal band” would die to possess. “The Metal East” blows out of the gates like Seabiscuit set aflame. “Over The River And Through The Woods” is a manic six and a half minute journey with some of Chippendale’s most impressive drumming. It’s as if the guy has six arms and four legs. “King Of My World” drags its knuckles on razor-sharp stones as Gibson’s elastic bass line shimmies like a three-headed snake, and “Mythmaster” chugs like a war machine through some post-apocalyptic world. A soundtrack to some lost 70s Ralph Bakshi cartoon, blood and guts galore. “Runaway Train” is the closest Lightning Bolt gets to good time rock ‘n roll, if you’re idea of a good time is skipping through alternate universes in a souped-up 1955 Chevy Bel-Air, complete with laser cannons and an 8-track player. “Snow White(& The Seven Dwarves Fans)” is an eleven and a half minute escapade through the noisiest regions of the metal Brians’ minds. Don’t let the middling beginning fool you. Your face will melt soon enough.

So who says nothing comes from excessive drinking? Though those nights are all but gone thanks to getting old and tired, some of those scars I’m happy to still carry around. One of those is Lightning Bolt. Fantasy Empire is a killer record that will please any metal fan. If they can handle it, that is.

8.8 out of 10

 

 

 

chris '85

He Ain’t Heavy(He’s My Older Brother)

We have titles growing up in a household. There’s mom, dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, and even pet. I was a son and a brother in our home of four. Not only was I the brother but I was the younger brother. Yes, I have an older brother. We’re six years apart. I was born December 2nd, 1973, while he was born December 20, 1967.

My brother Chris with my mom, long before me.

My brother Chris with my mom, long before me.

Chris(as I liked to call him…and what he was named by our parents) and I, despite there being a six year difference between us got along really well. I think there was enough of an age difference that it wasn’t like I was always getting in his business or vying for the same friends or anything. I was a little tyke when he was nearing middle school, so I think that protective older brother thing kicked in. I was also sick a lot as a kid, so he saw me laying around quite a bit taking meds and generally feeling lousy. He just felt bad for me. I do remember being a runt and always knocking on his bedroom door and him letting me in. We’d sit in there and I’d watch him categorize and sift through his many collectible sports cards. When he was younger he collected stamps, but later moved onto sports cards. He had all kinds; baseball, basketball, and football. I loved going in his room and sitting on the floor and watching him go through them. I think my inclination for collecting and categorizing may have stemmed from those early days and watching Chris scrutinize over his cards(to this day he still has the cards in an extra bedroom in his home.) His true love back in his pre-teens and early teens was baseball. He played in Little League and him and my dad went to quite a few Cincinnati Reds games. I can still remember the Pete Rose poster on his wall and the “supposed” Johnny Bench autograph our Grandpa Dale got him.

Chris and I, summer of 1979.

Chris and I, summer of 1979.

While Chris honed his pitching skills on a homemade pitching contraption out in the backyard(it was a trash can hung up sideways with the opening facing out between two trees that my dad put up for him to pitch the ball into), I was indoors wheezing and sneezing, creating massive battles between the Rebel Forces and the Imperial troops on a makeshift Hoth or Death Star, usually located on the stairs that led down to the basement or under the kitchen table. I wasn’t the sporting type. I loved riding my bike, playing war in the pine forest where our house was located, or just sneaking around the woods and letting my overactive imagination get the better of me. But playing baseball wasn’t my thing. Chris and I would play miniature golf in the backyard on a makeshift single hole putt we made by raking up some pine needles, smoothing out the ground and digging a hole. My Grandpa “Hub” gave us a putter of his he no longer used and we’d share it( I still have the putter in my garage in case of some weird occasion I’ll need it.) We also enjoyed a good game of paper football on my brother’s desk in his bedroom, usually soundtracked by Judas Priest or Black Sabbath.

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Chris and I, fall of 1979.

Chris played baseball up till he was a sophomore in high school. Once he’d gotten to his junior year he said the hell with it and quit the team and got a part-time job. It’s funny, but at this point was when Chris and I began to really bond over the one constant in both of our lives: music. He told me recently that he remembered going somewhere in the family car with mom and dad when he was around 16-years old and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” came on the radio. Hearing that song triggered all these memories of being a little kid and hearing that album spinning in the basement while my parents had people over playing pool, drinking, and partying. From that point on he seeked out Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath, and anything else that was old and loud. This was around the same time that as a 10-year old I’d discovered music myself. Ratt, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Quiet Riot, and the like were finding their way into my ears. Besides the classics, my brother was also getting into heavy metal. He’d gotten into W.A.S.P., Dio, and Iron Maiden along with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Through him I was getting a musical lesson that involved the present and the past. I was still at that odd moment in growing up where I was really getting into music but still very much loving the thing my imagination allowed me to do with music and toys. Fantasy toys were replaced with more ultra-realistic GI Joe toys. Battles between GI Joe and Cobra were scored by Van Halen’s Women and Children First and Twisted Sister’s You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N Roll. I was in the fifth grade and still felt comfortable with playing with toys. It was this hyper-realized kind of playing. It was complicated, thought-out playing. I think my brother understood that and he kind of dug some of those toys I had. They weren’t kiddie toys. They were battleships and jets armed to the gills with machine guns and missles. What’s not to like about that?

Eventually I put the toys away and traded them in for a hefty cassette collection and a guitar. Chris bought a guitar as well and we began taking lessons together. Chris also had traded in sports for a job and partying. I can remember him telling me him and his other buddy Chris would get out of school during their senior year and they’d head to Chris’ house. They’d head to the basement, drop acid, and turn on Sesame Street with the volume down all the way and play Black Sabbath’s Paranoid as loud as they could play it. He also got busted for underage drinking with the same buddy at a local teen hangout called The Fun Center. It was an arcade where local guys and gals would get together and play the latest arcade games, get drunk, high, and get in fights. I can also remember one time when my brother was brought home by his best friend Brian and Brian’s girlfriend from a party. My mom met them in the driveway as Chris began vomiting in the front yard. Mom stood out there casually talking to Brian and his girlfriend, waiting for Chris to get it together enough to make it into the house(he was 21 by then, btw.)

The drug experimentation and underage drinking was never a problem. Just the usual stupid stuff people do. I never went through that experimentation. I did drink well before I was 21, but I never got trashed. And as far as getting high or taking acid it never happened for me. I was an uptight kid that played with his toys in his bedroom, and I was an uptight teenager that played his guitar in his bedroom. Getting stoned was never in my DNA. Have I gotten high? Yeah, a few times over the years. But it was never really my thing. I prefer the comforts of a hearty beer.

But enough of that. Back to my brother.

He found speed metal and shared it with me. I found grunge and shared it with him. Chris took me to my first concert. It was Joe Satriani in 1990 at the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He also took me to my second concert, which was AC/DC with Love/Hate at the Fort Wayne War Memorial Coliseum in November of 1991. We saw the Clash of the Titans tour in the summer of 1991, which consisted of Alice in Chains, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. It was the scariest concert I’d ever been to. The first time I saw Jabberwocky, Eraserhead, Life of Brian, and The Evil Dead was with my older brother. I was the best man at his wedding(his best friend was on a US carrier somewhere in the South Pacific at the time of his wedding.)

In the late 90s my brother and his wife began building a house in the same neighborhood my wife and I lived(which was the same woods we grew up in and where my parents still live.) They were living with his in-laws during that time and Chris would come over on Friday nights, bring beer, and we’d play Need For Speed on the Playstation till 1am. He’d crash on the couch and leave early the next morning. We’d get together at his place or mine in the summer and drink lots of beer, listen to Bill Hicks albums, and talk about whatever came to mind.

Once my niece got older my brother and sister-in-law were usually taking her to soccer games, then volleyball games. My wife and I had kids of our own and those beer times were few and far between for my bro and me. I gotta admit that I miss those times, but I get it. He became the dad on the go and I was not. We’re homebodies. We like to be home, not driving all over the place. I think that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

This past Friday I get a call from Chris. My sister-in-law was at some sort of jewelry party and so my brother was home alone with the dog(my niece is now 20 and in college.) We talked about them going to see Primus in April, Metallica, Ronnie James Dio, and all the shitty hair metal bands he wasted his money on in the 80s. It was great. We talked for almost an hour. It made me realize just how much I miss those ridiculous conversations we used to have amid several beers on humid summer nights and frigid winter eves.

There was the discussion of us getting together some Friday evening for a beer. With my niece in college his weekends are a little more open. Whether it happens or not that remains to be seen. It’s just good to know we can jump back into our quasi stream-of-consciousness bizarro conversations, regardless of how long it’s been since we’ve spoke. That brotherly bond is one that isn’t easily broken.

At least between us it’s not.

Dad, Chris, and Honz, 1979.

Dad, Chris, and Honz, 1979.

Mom, Chris, and I mid-70s.

Mom, Chris, and I mid-70s.

Nineteen Years

jhubner73:

I don’t ever reblog a post of mine. Dont really see the point. But I wanted to repost this one. No one has forgotten Madelyn.

Originally posted on jhubner73:

jason and maddyThe last twenty four hours I’ve thought a lot about friendships. You go through life and create many friendships. Some are tried and true, while others are great while they last but eventually fade. I have a very small handful of friends that I’ve known and loved since childhood. I would do anything for these guys. Really. We’ve all been through thick and thin. We’ve seen each other at our lowest points and have never judged, looked down upon, or abandoned each other. And this group of friends I have, we were never some group of Three Musketeers or anything. We all interacted with each other in some way or another, but I had a very unique relationship with each of them. When it was a group of us getting together, certain aspects of ourselves were toned down a bit so as not to make the other feel left out…

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Christmas Day, 2014

FullSizeRender (15)Well the unwrapping has been done. Gifts were torn open and kids guffawed at books, Legos, movies, and the like. The dog has sniffed his last bit of ribbons and sealed candy till next year at this time. The wife and I are tired. We got up at 5am so we could get the dough going for our traditional Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. We’re tired, but it’s worth it to devour a cinnamon roll the size of my hand. That and a good cup of coffee and I’m feeling the Christmas magic for sure.

I’m anxious to try my new pour-over coffee set, as well as see my wife wearing her new shoes(she picked them out last weekend.) I’m also looking forward to heading over to the folk’s house for Christmas dinner with the family. Ham, scalloped potatoes, laughs, more gifts for the kids, and maybe even a Christmas spirit or two in the form of a rum and coke with the Kraken.

I’m also looking forward those cinnamon rolls. Wait, I said that.

Anyways, I don’t want to take up too much of your time on this day for family and eggnog. Just wanted to say I hope you all have a great day celebrating whatever you’re celebrating, and enjoy those loved ones you celebrate with.

Cheers.

Watercolor of the wife and I that I gave her for Christmas. Painted by Shane Darin Page

Watercolor of the wife and I that I gave her for Christmas. Painted by Shane Darin Page

Three Years Here

FullSizeRender (3)So it was three years ago, on December 8th, 2011, that I put my toes in the waters of this blogging ocean. Before that point I’d often thought about starting a blog. The idea of having my own space out in this digital wilderness to spout off about, well, whatever, seemed like a great idea. I mostly just wanted to write about music that I love and occasionally my own music. But for the most part this would be my chance to live out those Lester Bang fantasies without any of the drugs and degradation.

After the usual procrastination I deal with when making a big decision I said the hell with it and began the journey known as jhubner73.com. Besides, you know, marrying my high school sweetheart and having some pretty cool kids with her, I feel this was probably one of the best things I ever could have done. I feel like since I started this blog I’ve become more focused. I feel as if I have an audience to my music-loving meanderings and my general existential rants about life and what have you. I never could have imagined how important this would become to me; and the folks I’ve come to know since starting this site. As cliche as this may sound, I feel like I’ve found my people out here. People that love and obsess over music like I do. Like-minded folks, both in art and in life in general. Though we can’t get together for a few stouts at the local pub and talk trash, we can all gather here every day and comment and chat about whatever is on our minds.

Going back to that first year it’s funny and a little painful to read some of the stuff I wrote. I was still attempting to find my blogular voice. I’ve become a much more disciplined writer in the three years since I’ve started this thing. Not only that, but I’ve moved from just music reviews and nonsensical elaborations on soup for New Year’s Eve and the value of Netflix when you’re sick, to band interviews and essays about my own life and anecdotal stories about my childhood. I’ve become a much better writer than I was when I started three years ago.

Sure, it’s just a blog. But for me it’s also a bit of my identity. It’s that internal voice that used to follow me around wherever I went. That voice I kept in my skull because I had nowhere to put it. Expounding on an album I was obsessing over; or relating a childhood memory to something my son told me when I picked him up from school; or some bizarre dream I had when I was seven years old that I never forgot. This is the place for that voice. It’s no put-on. It’s not me attempting to impress a group of strangers because I’m self-conscious. This is the guy that sits in his living room and makes his kids laugh hysterically at ridiculous jokes, or cracks his wife up at a restaurant on a date night. This is the guy that sits and talks on the phone for an hour with his mom because she needs to vent, or shares one too many beers with his best friend because he’s having a hard time. No put-ons here. Just me being honest and sharing things I deem worthy to share.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, folks; I love this space called jhubner73.com. Thanks for coming by and making it more than just an online journal for my ravings. If you come by and read regularly or semi-regularly…or even once a month, thanks. I never imagined I’d be a part of a community. I just wanted some place to scream into the abyss. I wanted somewhere to direct my overzealous spittle and spite. The fact that folks from all over the world stop in and drop me a line, indulge my thoughts and opinions, and even engage me and add their own two cents, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

It’s been three years now since I moved into this place. I like it here. I think I’ll stay a while longer. You are welcome anytime. I’ll always have some beers in the fridge and some pretzels in the pantry. But feel free to bring some snacks as well. Sharing is caring.

This is the very first thing I posted on here. It’s rough, but it was a start. It was also the first music review I wrote and submitted to a local publication. It was turned down. So I wrote this for my blog a couple days after I started it. I submitted it to the same publication and it was accepted. So began my career as a published music journalist(hack.) Enjoy…and don’t judge me. Please?

 

The Night Terrors :: Pavor Nocturnus

night terrorsPavor Nocturnus is Australia’s The Night Terrors indulging their dark, occult side with brooding, lustful glee. They’ve flirted with that side of their sound on their previous records Back To Zero and Spiral Vortex, but never to this degree. On those previous records there were hints of horror, but those albums settled more in the sci-fi and space realm; they felt like progressive records scoring some lost, epic fantasy film with heavy synths and theremin. They were otherworldly and intense. But this time around galaxies and wormholes have been set aside for the macabre. Pavor Nocturnus is a dark, brooding, and intense musical journey.

The Night Terrors recorded this album thanks to the Melbourne Town Hall and their request for the band to compose a piece of music on the Town Hall’s pipe organ. This is not just some run-of-the-mill pipe organ. This is the southern hemisphere’s largest pipe organ. Standing three stories tall, this is a gothic monolith. The band had just released their album Spiral Vortex and were going to go on a tour in support of that album, but felt that this was too great of an opportunity to pass up. So they recorded the album in the middle of the night on a Friday the 13th(nice, huh?) The album’s title refers more to the fact that they recorded the record late at night, more than wanting to be spooky. But yes, Pavor Nocturnus is “The Night Terrors” in Latin.

As far as the music goes, the album is split up into two movements. Movement One is side A and consists of “Pavor Nocturnus”, “Megafauna”, “Asleep With The Bats”, and “Kuceli Woke Up In The Graveyard”. Movement Two on side B consists of “Blue Black”, “Gravissima”, “Delta Waves”, and “Spectrophilia”. Each side does feel like four distinct tracks, yet they flow effortlessly like a true piece of gothic music. Where Miles Brown’s theremin would often act as a detached voice singing a melody on previous albums, this time around it feels almost operatic. It’s sound haunting like a ghost within the walls of some long forgotten castle. The pipe organ, while a heavy hitter in the overall sound of the record, never feels overused or pushed up in the mix. It definitely acts as the foundation of the record. It gives the band a solid starting point to build these great songs. Movement One’s “Pavor Nocturnus”, while not having any sort of guitar, comes on like a doom metal heavy hitter with the pipe organ filling every nook and cranny with gothic massiveness. With the synth stabs and Brown’s theremin playing overhead, and some great drumming to keep the track moving, it’s a great way to introduce the album. “Megafauna” is as progressive as it is macabre. It’s as if Goblin came from space and not some crumbling estate in the Italian countryside to create music. It sounds like it should be the theme of Phantom of the Opera: A Space Opera. There’s a great mix of intense and subtle, with “Kuceli Woke Up In The Graveyard” ending the side on a more quieter note. Movement Two opens with the rather mournful “Blue Black”, reminiscent of Walter Rizzatti’s work on the House By The Cemetery score, and “Gravissima” continues that vibe quite wonderfully. “Delta Waves” is mournful and epic, while the closer “Spetrophilia” puts the southern hemisphere’s largest pipe organ front and center while the theremin moves along wonderfully with it.

Pavor Nocturnus is a stellar, gothic piece of music that doesn’t require a love of the macabre and all the things that go bump in the night. But if you’re like me, it definitely enhances the experience. The Night Terrors have created yet another beautiful and haunting record that should be standard listening on Halloween, or beyond.

9.2 out of 10

As an added bonus, if you were in Melbourne, Australia on Halloween you could have seen The Night Terrors perform Pavor Nocturnus live at the Melbourne Town Hall. A sight and sound to behold, I’m sure.