I don't want to start turning this site into a political arena, but I have been captivated by a recent news story. Last week I stumbled across an article about Ross Ulbricht and the Silk Road. It was pretty major news last week, but has since been quiet. I have continued to follow the story and have been attempting to educate myself along the way. I felt rather uneducated when the story first broke because I had no idea online black markets and the "deep web" existed. I know, I am pretty ignorant. I guess I never needed to look for fake ID's online, and (in my best grandpa voice) when I did my experimentation, I had to walk 5 miles, up hill, in the snow to buy my drugs. All reminiscing aside, this story has been so intriguing to me because of what Ross Ulbricht accomplished.Ross Ulbricht, who called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts (I already like the guy), was someone who seemingly got completely obsessed with Libertarian views. I had an uncle that introduced me to some Libertarian ideals, and I have to say that I tend to lean that way politically. I have always been one that favors LESS government and MORE freedom. I have also always been against the "war on drugs," and I feel like Ross Ulbricht created an online marketplace that was pretty much a giant "FU" to government regulation and the endless "war on drugs." What Ulbricht successfully created was an anonymous, free marketplace that was self-regulating - and it flourished for over 2 years. The Dread Pirate was able to take a lot of violence and risk out of a "market" that is marred by dishonesty, brutal force (from dug lords and police), and corruption. How can anyone complain?After reading about Ulbrichts beliefs, how his site operated, and the alleged incidents that led to his demise, I have come to the conclusion that the only reason the FBI, and other Three Letter Agencies, made it top priority to shut down the Silk Road
was because the U.S. Government could not regulate what was going on - and not get their "fair share." I don't believe they care about people buying drugs. If the government cared about drug use/abuse, and real regulation of the substances, then they might follow the blueprint that Portugal has laid out (very good article on that here
). The government only cares about control, and that is not the way it should be. The government should be concerned with representation, and doing what is in the best interest of the people. Before I go on an extreme political rant, let me put the brakes on and sum this up.I am not writing this to condone drug use. I am more interested in what Ross Ulbricht did because of what he stood for. Sure he will go down as just another drug kingpin, but in reality he helped drug users get a reliable product with low risk. I know too many people that have overdosed (and this usually happens when you get a product that is always different and you don't know the potency), or been involved in some sort of drug related violence.
Can we please end this stupid "war on drugs" and start standing up for our rights as citizens? Take the regulation and control away from the government. They are proving that they can't handle the responsibility. If you haven't seen it yet, check out How To Make Money Selling Drugs, a very interesting documentary that sheds some light on the "war on drugs." Also, check out these statistics: http://www.drugsense.org/cms/wodclock.
Another talented female singer has landed on Decent X's radar. Hadley Kennary is a singer/songwriter out of Boston, and her sound is a combination of Joni Mitchell and Natalie Merchant - at times very grass roots and folksy, but bursting with powerful vocals that almost drown out the gentle melodies that drive her songs. Her songs are crafted from her personal stories, and you can tell she has a personal connection to everything she sings. Her album, In Fall
, is an expertly crafted album that really demonstrates Hadley's ability to tell her stories musically. The pacing of the album is spot on, and her voice never waivers. I am always shocked when I find such a young talent that performs with such power. Hadley Kennary is an immpressive songstress, and I would urge all of you to head over to her bandcamp page
and listen to her music. You can also visit her website: http://www.hadleykennary.com/
From what I have heard, Metallica completely amazed at the Apollo Theater over the weekend. The metal band took over this historic venue in Harlem, and they completely shredded in front of 1,500 very lucky people. I wish I could write a lengthy review of this show, but i was not so lucky. I have found some great videos from that night, and here they are performing "One" live at the Apollo Theater!
Dave Vives (vocals), Asher Kurtz (lead guitar), Michael Lostica (rhythm guitar), Ronnie Lanzilotta (bass), and Angelo Spampinato (drums) have come together to form Mals Totem, a Boston-based progressive rock/metal band. Their self-titled debut EP drops today, and fans of 90's era Radiohead, Tool, and The Mars Volta will surely enjoy it. They worked with Jonathan Wyner (David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Nirvana) and Raul Chirinos (Berklee College of Music) to bring their freshman EP to life - George Massenburg (engineer for Journey, Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Joel) and Susan Rodgers (producer for Prince) also chipped in on "Gargantuan." This is a very solid initial offering from a band that seems to have a lot of potential.
The self-titled EP is six tightly composed tracks, and right from the get-go this EP lets you know that it holds no punches. The first track, "Strangest Motion," opens with a heavy, urgent guitar riff that would be right at home on a Sex Pistols or Clash album. The opening riffs quickly deconstruct and develop into a melodic, more relaxed sound. The song propels the listener back and forth between grandiose guitar riffs and crashing drums, and light, floating verses. "Strangest Motion" does a great job of setting the tone for the entire EP.
Track 3 is an amazingly well done version of Radiohead's "Jigsaw Falling Into Place." Mals Totem slows down "Jigsaw" and completely re-imagines it. The original, Radiohead version, is almost devoid of any dominating guitar riffs, and Mals Totem takes the song and injects it with Tool-like, face-melting, deep, dark guitar riffs, complemented beautifully by Spampinato's aggressive drums. After several listens through their version, I would have to admit that I prefer Mals Totem's version of "Jigsaw" - but then again, I am a much bigger fan of early Radiohead and Tool than the Radiohead of Kid A and beyond.
"Gargantuan" is the perfect title for the 5th track of the EP. The song is booming with gargantuan sounds. Dave Vives' vocals are powerful and he does a great job of commanding the song amongst the crushing musical cascades. This is the track that was released as a single for their EP, and with good reason. "Gargantuan" is the track that demonstrates Mals Totem's sonic abilities better than any other track - although their cover of "Jigsaw" is a very close second. As the penultimate track on the EP, "Gargantuan" leaves you wanting more. Don't get me wrong, "Grind Tune", the final track on the EP, does a great job of tying it all together, but "Gargantuan" is the track that looms in your crushed skull.
If you are a fan of progressive rock/metal, then do yourself a favor and pick up this EP. In fact, if you appreciate good music, then pick up this EP. Mals Totem sounds like a band that has been doing this for years. They have their shit together - for lack of a better phrase. They are a tight, focused group, and I look forward to what follows their initial offering.
Check out this documentary that was a hit at SXSW this year. It profiles Freda Kelly, The Beatles' long time personal friend and secretary. The film marks the first time her story has been told, and the inclusion of authorized Beatles tunes helps move along this new doc.
Watch it On Demand now on: iTunes, Amazon, Charter, Comcast, Google Play, DirecTV, Playstation, SuddenLink, Time Warner, Verizon FIOS, Vudu, XBOX
From a very young age, Lyle was drawn to art. Comic books provided his first introduction to art, and young Lyle soon found inspiration and connections with comic book heads, graffiti artists, and traditional artists. He has incorporated these early influences in his work today. He is not afraid to use any and all mediums at his disposal, and the results are colorful, intricate, and exciting works of art. He has tons of plans for his inevitably bright future, including launching a clothing line, more sculpture work, and writing a book. He has a lot of art and prints that he would like to get in production soon, and if you are interested in checking out more of his work or maybe even having a piece done for you, contact him here
(he is kind of "off the grid" so if you have trouble linking up, contact Decent Xposure
Julian Dente, a Nashville native, has been playing guitar and piano since he was 7 years old, and his musical talents are undeniable. Raised by very supportive and musical parents, Julian progressed from guitar and piano, to drums and song writing. When he was a junior in high school, Julian took to the stage for the Rocketown Battle of the Bands and crushed it. His band won the contest, and he describes that victory as one of the defining moments in his musical career. From that day forward, Julian knew that playing music was what he wanted to do with his life...Continue Reading
Does anyone really like Yoko Ono? Before you say “yes” please consider what you are committing to. I have encountered a few hipster extraordinaires that have claimed to like Yoko, and they actually spent some time trying to explain to me what it is that makes her an artist. All they could really tell me was that she is counter-culture. She goes against the grain. If by “goes against the grain” they meant “is the opposite of good,” then they are spot on.
Here is a woman who rose to the bottom because she sunk her claws into John Lennon (a little fact about their meeting: Yoko was originally a Paul groupie, but he “passed her on” to John). I will admit that Ono and Lennon, together, came up with some great things. “Imagine” is actually a poem that Yoko wrote, but it was really John’s magic that made it gold. When John handled the music, everything was just fine. But once the succubus picked up a microphone and began her music career, the whole world shuddered in unison. Here she is performing on the Dick Cavett show, and if you close your eyes you would swear you are in some karaoke bar in Japan - she is pretty awful, even for karaoke standards - but if you close your eyes and mute the video, she is actually pretty good.
Honestly, fingernails on a chalkboard sound better. In the next clip, John Lennon and Chuck Berry are performing together, and of course Yoko probably nagged John to let her be a part of it, so he threw her some shitty little drum and had her sit in the background. That apparently wasn’t good enough. She couldn’t resist grabbing a mic and just making weird, stupid noises right when Chuck and John are singing! If you look at Chuck’s face right around 1:20 in the video, you can see his eyes bug out and you know he must be thinking “WHAT is this crazy ass chick doing?!”
So there are just a couple, relatively mild, examples of Yoko’s lack of musical talent. If anyone can produce music created by Yoko Ono that people actually like, and I mean really like - you can’t tell me you like it in an effort to be different or cool - then I will pay a handsome reward. Now that her “music” has been addressed, let’s tackle her “art.”
I know this one is going to draw some controversy. Art is one of those things that is extremely broad by definition, and what may be considered “art” is debatable. This is especially true with contemporary art. We all know this style: Some "deep" display like a glass sitting on a column, half full of water, with the title “Optimist.” Next to that is another column with a glass, half empty, with the title “Pessimist.” Is it really art? Is that the “art” of it - that it makes you question the validity of the display - or is it art because someone says it is? If Joe Blow could throw together a pile of scrap metal and it looks the same as any other sculpture on display in the “modern” section, then I have to question its classification as art (no offense to the Blows, who could very well be talented people). The Simpsons had a great episode that pretty much sums up my argument (pictured below, left). I can even throw together some contemporary art. Here is my piece, “Through the Eyes of a Blind Man.” It is just as worthy of praise and recognition as Yoko’s art (pictured below, right).
I can’t help but think that Yoko Ono’s “art” is only on display because of her celebrity status. There are so many truly talented painters and sculptors out there (some even featured here on Decent Xposure) that deserve to be recognized before Yoko’s piles of dirt (see picture below). Her dirt piles and ladders exhibit just doesn’t do it for me, and if someone out there “gets it” and can explain it to me, please leave a comment. I really need to understand and am very open to “getting it.” But in all honesty, these piles of dirt and ladders can be seen at any construction site in a town near you. In fact, just the other day I was hanging a shelf and had a little step stool out, and just in front of that there were little piles of dry wall dust from where I had been drilling holes. I didn’t climb down from my step stool and admire the stool and the little pile of dry wall. I did, however, admire the perfect mounting of the shelf - it was nice and level and it didn’t fall out of the wall when I put stuff on it.
I digress. Let me wrap up this diatribe. Yoko Ono sucks. Paul knew it; John was too stoned to see it. If you can prove to me that Yoko is worthy of praise, please do so.