Tuesday, December 24, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 7: William Elliott Whitmore- The Jarett Mitchell Demos

For the seventh edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the second of three collections of demos for one of my FAVORITE artists of all time.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

AS I said in my previous edition of AntiCurrent.com archives, I discovered William Elliott Whitmore organically by watching him open for The Pogues. Wishing to introduce more of people to him, on May 2nd 2009 I had a close-knit group of my nearest and dearest attend his show with me at The Knitting Factory (RIP) in Hollywood California without having yet exposed them to his music. The opening band, which we also discovered and quickly came to love was Los Duggans, a punk/metal/bluegrass hybrid band with an amazing standup washtub bass player.

By the time came for Whitmore to come on, we were all drunk. My friends were largely in the back at the bar and I was coming and going from the front row of people and them, presumably annoying everyone in between. 3 songs in I went to the back to refresh my drink and I found my best friend at the bar crying. Now, being a punk-rocker himself I assumed the worst. Someone had died, his girlfriend left him, his sister was in a car-crash, something. No. This badass of a dude was SO moved by the performance he was watching by an artist that he had never heard or heard of that he was literally shedding a tear due to William Elliott Whitmore's incredible performance. This is the time of sorrow, joy, happiness, and triumph that the dude can bring just by performing a few of his songs. I never have, and will likely never again see a performer who can illicit such an emotional reaction just by doing his job. It is truly incredible.

About 3/4 of the way through the performance, someone bought WEW an entire bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabbed it from an audience member, and being the eternal badass that he is, took a few swigs and said "share and share alike my friends" and passed it out into the audience for all of us to drink. I of course had a swig, but so did my friend at the time. She had never before, nor never again drank whiskey, but the emotional weight of the gesture caused her to drink it without thinking twice.

Fast forward to the end of the show and Whitmore has just went off stage. Like, he walked off stage into the audience and proceeded to shake every hand and meet every person that wished to do so. My drunken friend then decided that she desperately wanted to meet him so we approached. Although she was annihilated, and I was no shade of sober, he was incredibly gracious at our sloppy praise. We took a picture and she immediately went ill. He asked if she was ok just as she turned and vomited in the trashcan next to him. He laughed and said "Shit, we've all been there before." and shook my hand and left for the bar. We carried her to the car, got in and all recounted our miscellaneous stories about what an amazing dude this was.

Now, from my pieced together history of what William Elliott Whitmore's catalog was before he released his first real album "Hymns For The Hopeless" I believe that "The Jarrett Mitchell Demos" otherwise known as "Born in the USA" and also "Calendar Club of Danger and Fun" was the first of his self-released collections. This is debatable based on what I have read. HERE it states that this album is known as "CCoD&F", however on Wikipedia it states that these two albums are entirely separate. IF I am not mistaken, this first self-release was later followed up by "Legalize Freedom" (Which I previously released), and finally "The Death Valley Sessions" which was demo only available on his 2002-2003 tour. "The Death Valley Sessions" is the next of the AntiCurrent.com Archives that I will make available.

The personal highlight of this album for me is "Gravel Road". Now there are three available versions of this song, but this is the first and by far, most raw. Something about the lack of quality of recording and just a barely in-tune guitar and his growly amazing voice speaks to the very depths of my soul. Live this song is amazing as before he regales you with it, he will tell you the story of packing black-powder under a bowling ball and launching it like a cannon hundreds of feet into the air, only to find it on his property years later.

Somehow WEW turns a sub-par recording, one guitar, and his voice into what is one of the best demo collections of any artist of all time. As always, go and purchase his actual music, see him on tour, and meet the man himself. These releases are not meant to be the only material you take from the artists, but are intended to give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of some of the best talent that has ever been seen musically on this planet.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1: Grey Skies
2: Marrow
3: Livin' Like A King
4: South Lee County Brew
5: Gravel Road
6: On The Chin
7: The Prairie Yields
8: Diggin' My Grave
9: Going To The Moments
10: Black Iowa Dirt
11: Lift My Jug
12: Let's Call It A Night
13: Have Mercy
14: Red Buds
15: Shotgun
16: Never Forget

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Year Of Hell For a Life of Bliss (How We Dealt With A K1 Visa)

Well, today is the day. My baby finally fucking comes home to me. It's been a long, hard year and I couldn't have made it without my friends by my side. I owe a debt to each and every one of them that I can only hope to one day repay. They all got me through what was easily the roughest patch of my life.

Liv and I
What happened? My incredible life-mate went with only a bag of clothes to Sydney to visit her family at Christmas for two weeks, and was stuck there for an entire fucking year. Most people and most relationships could never weather a storm such as this, but we managed it. In a testament to how big of a badass this girl is, after initially (and completely reasonably) freaking out, she had a job and lodging within weeks of this horrid news. She is the hardest working, most talented, never-say-die person I have ever encountered in my life and will be proud to call her my wife in the coming months. 

For those of you who do not know, my fiancé took said vacation home for Christmas last year and was not allowed back in the country. To add to the kick-in-the-ass of this, I had just signed the lease on a house for us so that we no longer had to sleep in my buddies bedroom. This kept me from simply moving to Australia, which I assure you was my knee-jerk reaction. She was out here visiting on the ESTA Visa Waiver program, and our plan was for her to get visit family, get a Holiday B2 Visa and return to me in two weeks time. That never happened. She was denied the visa due to her having a boyfriend in the United States and them suspecting her of traveling over and potentially attempting to marry under false-pretenses. Basically, a bunch of fucking bullshit. Once flagged as "being denied" you are no longer allowed to travel abroad on the ESTA Visa Waiver, basically FORCING you to get some type of Visa if you are to ever reenter the country.

The consulate made their ruling on the fact that we were unprepared for her interview. So for those of you who may see yourself in this predicament, I will outline what we went through with as much clarity as I feel comfortable in doing. Our rationale was that since they denied us, we merely needed to make a stronger case in order to proceed. So she went to work on a plan to come and visit the US on an ACTUAL holiday. We bought her music-festival tickets, were going to take a planned cross-country trip, and it all had the benefit of being legit. Money was spent. However, her being denied once put us on a blacklist and they almost immediately denied her second attempt at the B2 Holiday Visa without so much as a look at her documents. Gotta fucking love America sometimes.

At this point we were fastly running out of options and we began to consider the K1 Fiance and K3 Marriage Visa (K3 isn't ACTUALLY the marriage visa, its a type of expediting a husband/wife into your country, the CR1 is the actual Visa). But this is a HUGE step for a couple and we decided we needed some time to consider it. During this time, we also decided that it would be in our relationships interest if we were to see each other (it had been 3 months up to this point). However, I had just got us a house to rent so I was flat broke. Once again, my amazing counter-part stepped up to the plate and bought me airfare to come and visit her.

On my first trip to Sydney
This was amazing of her, but the three week planned trip didn't allow me the time off work to still cover my bills in my absence from work. Thankfully I have some pretty kickass bosses and we worked out a deal: I was allowed to work extra hours to build vacation time to use during my absence. Throughout this year, I made 4 trips to Australia for at least two weeks at a time. When I wasn't there, doing a freelance gig, or on a movie-set, I was at my desk. Eating, breathing, sleeping, showering, at work. I would work until 2AM, catch a 3 hour nap, wake back up at 5, take a shower, and then guzzle 60 OZ's of coffee each and every day, seven days a week. I did this for an entire 9 months, living under my desk in order to be able to visit my love. This resulted in 6-8 weeks of absolute torture to my body, and occasionally my mind, followed by 2-3 weeks of vacation. I'm firmly convinced that the back and forth has aged me more this year than the last ten years of my life.

32 Page K1 Packet
So in late August I purposed to her and the day I returned from my trip, we filed for the K1 Fiance Visa. The entire packet was over 32 pieces of evidence and forms documenting who we are and every nook and cranny of our relationship. Ever the impatient one, the day we got out NOA1 (stating the government has received your request) I also filed ten additional pages for an expedite based on my money situation. I cannot and will not go into the entire criteria I used to get this expedite, but much of it was claiming a severe potential-financial loss due to my constant inability to be at work. This was true, if I was not at work, it stood to reason I might not be able to make money. It was also true that I was missing out on freelance gigs left and right out here due to the situation.

Many people get upset when you "clog" the system with expedites, after all, everyone wants to be first due to impatience. I suppose this is a valid concern, but here is my logic: Fuck 'em. In this kill or be killed world, I would not fault anyone doing anything they could to procure their significant-others happiness. If that means they beat me to the punch, then I should have tried harder, lobbied more, worked smarter, or just refused to say die. Survival of the fittest in every way, keep up or get left behind. Admittedly a cold way to be, but when the options are sink or swim, failure is no option.

I was checking out our CVC (California Visa Center) receipt number daily which allows you to track the process from submitted to accepted. 3 weeks later our expedite was approved (although looking back at historical averages for visas at the time we probably only saved 3-5 weeks) and we received out NOA2 (stating that the packet had been forwarded to the National Visa Center) about 2 days after. At this point we thought that we were on the fast track to getting the approval for the visa, however, due to issues within the government (I believe the Texas Visa Center had recently sent in an abmormal amount of approved visas to the NVC) we still had weeks to wait.

The NVC instructed me after the 5th time that I called them that I should wait 4 weeks to hear from them and they would tell me as to it's acceptance in their system. Basically the NVC just forwards out approved petitions to consulates throughout the world, but they do so in the order received and no preferential treatment is available. I had them SWEAR to me that they would email me the second it was approved. They told me that they had my email address on file and they would automatically email me when the visa was processed. Well... they didn't. Bastards. They caused me to sweat an entire extra week that our application had been lost so when I called on the third week they said, "Oh yeah, that was sent out a few days ago, we don't always email people when that happens". My recommendation? Call them twice a week regardless of whether they want you to or not. It can be VERY hard to get someone on the phone there, although it can be an hour wait at most times. Why press them? Because you NEED their assigned NVC number as soon as possible for the next step.

This pic personifies our relationship
Next up is the medical screening for the fiance. Now for most countries, there are 1-2 doctors that can perform this per major city and most of these doctors refuse to set up an appointment until you have your NVC number (due to this now being your MAJOR tracking number). The importance on getting then the NVC number is due to how few doctors VS how many applicants there are for the screenings. Wait times can be up to a month and in most cases you CANNOT schedule your final interview without having already passed it. Getting your NVC number to them as soon as it is assigned could shave weeks off of your appointment. Also, receptionists are one of the few human elements in this process. If you pester them enough, or give them a good enough reason, you may be able to bump up your appointment a few weeks if you are selective with your words.... we got ours within the week.

Once you have your medical screening finished, you book your final interview appointment. At some consulates, this can be expedited. At the Sydney consulate we were dealing with, this was next to impossible. We sent emails, faxes, and phone calls to attempt to expedite our appointment for valid reasons. However they didn't seem to even read our correspondence. They went ahead and booked the interview 3 weeks ahead, and two weeks into waiting finally responded to our request saying that we were already booked in the next possible appointment. Lovely, thanks guys....

Initial approval
Have a duplicate of absolutely everything you submitted throughout this entire process with you when you finally attend your date. For us this was about 60+ pages of documentation at this point. Be ready to be grilled about everything from what you will do as a vocation to what your significant-other will be wearing to the wedding. They honestly have to have and INCREDIBLY valid reason to turn you down at this point, so be comfortable with your truth and don't stress. Just answer their multitude of questions and you too will walk out with a little sheet of paper with your name scribbled on it saying you were approved. They will mail you out your visa the following week.

So that's it. An entire year of both our life's were completely put on pause in order to be with one another. The entire visa process took 4 months with expediting, a far cry from the typical 6-8 months. Did it suck? Fuck yes it did. At times we both went through bouts of depression, anxiety, paranoia, severe sleep-deprivation, etc. But it was worth it. We both now know how incredibly committed we are to each other, and have came out stringer as a result. I love this girl and am firmly convinced that no one in the world could have handled this ordeal with as much dignity and grace as she has. Today I am whole again.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Guaranteed Way to Get Around Local NHL (& Other Sports) Blackouts

I live in Los Angeles, work nights, and am an avid Anaheim Ducks fan. Due to the extreme hours that I keep at work, I am generally saddled behind a desk during damn near every NHL game. In addition to my normal job, when I'm not behind said desk I'm traveling around on shoots. This makes my ability of catching a Ducks game on a local broadcast nearly impossible. This also makes NHL Gamecenter an amazing alternative. For $20 a month, all games the NHL has to offer will be sent to the screen of my choice? I'm happy to pay to see my team, I'm not trying to cheat anyone... hell, sounds amazing! Well, amazing unless you happen to live next to the team you root for.

Being about 30 miles from Anaheim and living deep in Kings territory means that anything actually broadcast can't make it to me. However, I live so close that I still fall into the "local blackout zone" for the Anaheim Ducks. This makes it impossible for me to legally view a game without visiting a local bar that will allow a Ducks fan to watch a non-Kings game, a heavy task to say the least. This has forced my hand to view games at any cost... even if it is... well it's NOT illegal, but it's against certain BS "Terms and Conditions".

Enter Port-Forwarding. Port-Forwarding allows you to take your computers IP address (the service that tells the provider where your computer is physically connected) and push your signal to anywhere in the world. To put this in layman's terms, you could be sitting outside of the local sports arena and they would think you are coming from Hawaii, Canada, New Zealand, etc. This tells your internet-sports provider that you are outside of the blackout zone and allows you to watch to your hearts desire.

http://hidemyass.com/Now there ARE port forwarding programs that are free. In my experience they work like shit. The interface is horrible, you get kicked off connections every few minutes, and the list of available connections is miniscule. I've dabbled with a few of the paid ones as well and they greatly vary in quality as well. The best of these, thus far, is a program called "Hide My Ass" or known by its kinder, gentler title, "HMA". For a $60 flat rate you can get 6 months of their kick-ass service, just enough to get you through your season. (This service can also be used to download things untraceably for those of you who are unscrupulous enough to do such things ;-) ) Additional uses for port-forwarding also allow you to browse different store-fronts to purchase material from places like I-Tunes or watch things on Netflix that haven't yet came out in your country.

Hola.org If you do INSIST on free port-forwarding, I have heard DECENT things about the Google Chrome Add-On "Hola Better Internet". Simply download it from Hola.org and install it into Chrome. I have had little time to mess with this program, but to me it appears slow and clunky. Connections don't last, speed is sluggish, and it is based on ad-generated revenue which I find fucking annoying. Take my advice, spend the money and purchase an actual service.

So there you go, just connect to HMA, open up your normal web-browser, and the program will forward your signal to anywhere you desire. As of now, I have not had any trouble with GameCenter "Locking me out". I assume that not only do they monitor where your signal is coming from, but they probably keep a log of it. If they so desired, they COULD lock you out if your connections are "suspicious". So perhaps its better to always log on to one location. Just food for thought....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 6: William Elliott Whitmore- Legalize Freedom Demos

For the sixth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the first of three collections of demos for one of my FAVORITE artists of all time.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

There are only a few select bands that I have ever discovered organically. I define that term "organically" as coming across music you have never heard nor been shown by your friends, but that you actually discover in its native environment. It's like they did back in the day, you show up to a gig for a certain type of music, and you experience it for the first time in the real world, rather than via the internet or word of mouth. William Elliott Whitmore is the best example of this for me.

I went to a Pogues show in Anaheim on October 28th of 2007 and the beginning act wasn't stellar, I had expected quite a punch from anyone opening for the Pogues and that band (I shall not name) did NOT deliver. So I sat in the back, ordered a drink at the bar and was prepared to be disappointed when the next guy went on, some dude with just a banjo. Before the end of the first song I was in front of the pit watching this guy work and yes, it was WEW. After what was easily one of the top 10 performances I have ever seen in my life, I ran back, ordered another drink and approached his merch table (of which he was splitting with the other said band). Unfortunately he only had a few pins so I purchased those immediately and went and watched the Pogues knock it out of the park. When I got home, I went straight to the internet, got on some file sharing site, and downloaded everything I could find of WEW.

I have since seen him live 8 times (Hell, I even made it plan a trip to Australia once and see him), and since I have 3 albums of his demos I am planning on releasing here, I will relive one of those amazing stories in each of the coming WEW AntiCurrent.com Archives I publish. Go and see this man. Purchase his actual albums. Buy him a shot of whiskey and give it to him on stage (he will drink it, trust me) Purchase his merch. After you do this, walk up to him after the show and thank him. The dude is salt-of-the-earth and is one of the most grateful people I have ever met. I have seen him 8 times, I have shook his hand 8 times.

Not much is known about Whitmore's demo albums (at least not that I've found) but the next time I see him, I will ask him and post the results here. I believe this to be the first... I'll let you investigate this album yourself as I believe most of his music begs, but I will leave you with this: "Legalize Freedom" has what is one of my top songs he has ever done. "Trespassers Will Be Eaten" is fucking genius. A slow melt banjo jam that explodes into energy, coupled with aggressive lyrics talking cruel threats to anyone that approaches a man's property without authorization. I love this track and it summarizes everything about his amazing presence perfectly.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1: Old 49
2: Trespassers Will Be Eaten
3: Forgive me
4: Diamond In Your Pocket
5: Lonely Walk
6: Run Johnny Run
7: Shogun
8: Whatll You Do
9: Oh Susanna
10:  One Glass At a Time
11: Evening

Monday, October 21, 2013

AntiCurrent Booze & Grub Review #2: Despaña: The Best Breakfast In Sydney

Once again, my admittedly limited taste in food, but tremendous taste in atmosphere and humans landed me in yet another amazing restaurant. A few months ago on what has been one of my numerous trips through Glebe (a suburb of Sydney) I was checking out a menu in the front of a restaurant when what I assumed was the waiter came out and had a very pleasant conversation with my fiance and I. After a few minutes we decided that regardless of how the food was, this was obviously a place that at the minimum, wasn't judgmental over the fact that I had tattoo's, piercings, and (to most people) appear to dress straight out of Mad Max.

I walked in and was immediately smitten by the place. Fishnets hung on the top of the walls with wine corks, homemade lights made from wine bottles adorned the area above the tables, and the place looked and felt like I had always imagined Spain to be. It was immediately apparent that this was not some mere Spanish style Tapas joint like the ones I had frequented so many times before, this was the real deal.

Amazing Mocha
Upon sitting down in the restaurant we continued our conversation with the incredibly colorful man who then introduced himself as Kezra, the owner of the establishment. According to him they had not been open long, but were beginning to build a reputation as one of the premiere Tapas restaurants in Sydney. I was skeptical as this is an ENORMOUSLY huge claim in an area that has three such restaurants within a two block radius. It being late-morning, I was ready to sit down and enjoy lunch when I discovered that they still had their breakfast menu in full swing. I ordered an astounding tasting mocha while I studied the menu.

I am a sucker for breakfast. Much to my fiances displeasure, if a restaurant offers breakfast as an option, I will choose it nine times out of ten regardless of what time of day it is. This occasionally makes it hard for her to split meals with me, which is something we enjoy doing, but being a tremendous creature of habit, I perused the breakfast menu. That is where I discovered the absolute wonder that is Catalan baked eggs.
Catalan Baked Eggs

This little known (at least in this area) monument to breakfast consists of three eggs, Catalan sauce (a creamy, olive-oil and tomato based sauce) manchego (an absolutely stunning cheese),  and your choice of chorizo, mushrooms, or salt-cod. The eggs are cooked over-medium and still have their yolk in a mostly runny consistency. When this is combined with the Catalan sauce, it makes for pure amazingness. The accompanying homemade sourdough bread is best utilized by using the yolk and sauce as a dip.

So we ate, I gushed over how amazing the meal was to the owner, and I have such returned over 2 dozen times. Now, yes, they are primarily a Tapas place, but based on my perfect experience each and every time, it is my new favorite breakfast joint in Sydney, and dare I say the world. In my many visits I continually promised Kezra I would come in for an actual dinner. Unfortunately it took me months to actually follow through this. After all, there are dozens of amazing places to eat diner in the area. When I finally did? Yes, it was spectacular, but....

I could go on and on about the greatness of the restaurant's dinner menu, but it well documented at this point by blogs 100 times my size. There are indeed many, many restaurateurs, newspapers, and magazines officially declaring Despaña THE best Tapas joint in Sydney. Personally, I agree, and it is amazing dinner food of which I completely recommend and attend often. However, I will leave those reviews to the people who will continually spout the same deserved praise to what is in my opinion, the absolute best and most over-looked breakfast in all of Sydney.

Despaña on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Breaking Down the Age Old Argument: Analog VS Digitaly Encoded Music

I've done a few blogs now on how to make a DIY Hi-Fi system, and adjusting a lower end record player, so I thought I should also break down the in's and out's of Analog VS Digital Media.

The argument of digital vs analogue sound has been around since Phillips and Sony debuted the Compact Disc format back in 1982. The core arguments of both sides are still very similar and it all ultimately boils down to this down to this: quality of product VS ease of accessibility. Vinyl (analogue) offers a 100% accurate reproduction of the original sound recorded, but is big and bulky while the digital market offers music that can be stored as data, but loses much of the source quality through the encoding process and as a result of what is being called the “loudness wars” plaguing digital media. This issue of low quality sound and high portability has been exponentially exacerbated with the advent of the internet and mp3s.  In this article, I will boil down the pro’s and con’s of the analogue vs digital debate not in an attempt to uncover the preferable format, but to allow the reader to decide where they fall on this issue.

For most of the 20th century, LP’s were the predominant way to distribute music to the home consumer. Originally formed out of shellac, and now polyvinyl chloride, people took great care of their music collections and spent tons of money on record players. However, in the late 1980’s the compact disc made it’s debut and within a few years became the new vehicle in which people enjoyed their music at home. Cassettes came and went, but were largely regarded as merely a way to enjoy music on the go, not for normal household enjoyment. This lasted until the late 1990’s when a hacker bought encoding software with a stolen credit card, widely spread it as freeware, and began the popularization of the MP3.

Before we compare and contrast the various mediums of audio delivery, it is first key to understand a few terms. The most important of which when speaking about digital music is the bit-rate. Essentially this is the quality of compressed digital audio. In digital, the analogue signal is sampled, taking bits and pieces of the audio rather than the entirety of it as a whole. The bitrate is the amount of data that is captured at any one second of the audio. These can range anywhere from low level MP3 encodes that start at 128 kilobits per second to 1,411.2 kilobits per second on CDs. With this, more data produces a better sound, but also produces larger file sizes. A standard 128KBPs encode will take up only a few megabytes of space, while a lossless cd track will take up between 30-50 megabytes. Lossless digital audio exists, but is accompanied by large file sizes. Analogue sound on the other hand, due to it being a complete reproduction of the source cannot be quantitated like this in regards to bit-rate.

Records, or LP’s, contain grooves in which a physical waveform (a direct reproduction of the source sound) is contained within the formed plastic. This waveform has a needle ran overtop of it in which a barely audible, completely authentic reproduction of the sound is played. The sound then transfers into an amplifier and out of the speakers generating a 100% authentic reproduction of the source material. This is lack of encoding and sampling the music is the prefered way to listen to music by “audiophiles”. The argument being that something sampled can never sound as good as an original reproduction.

However, vinyl has negative sides as well. It is big, bulky, and easily breakable. Also, although technology is readily available to have an amazing experience playing vinyl, due to it’s lack of popularity it is expensive to purchase the technology to properly utilize the format. There is also an audible sound with the needle dragging over the crevice, if a record is not completely clean, it will be filled with hisses and pops. This becomes even more of an issue due to the fact that you are essentially dragging a sharp instrument over a delicate surface. This means each time you play it, though it may be by an incredibly insignificant and minute amount, you are causing damage to the record. Additionally, a true hi-fi setup includes needle priced anywhere from $80-$5,000, direct drive motor, tube preamplifier, amplifier, and speakers. This can quickly total alot of money and is not a likely purchase for your typical consumer.

On the opposite end of the spectrum of vinyl are MP3’s. The average MP3 ranges in quality from 128 kbit/s to 320 kbit/s. While a 320 kbit/s is listenable to the normal everyday consumer, even the least trained ears can hear the obvious difference between the two extremes on the scale. MP3’s only take up a few megabytes of space on a hard drive, are quickly ripped (encoded) from a CD using the even the most primitive of computer systems, are easily shared, and contain the information about the artist, album, and even a small thumbnail of the artwork within them. This is the highest quality of portable music for the smallest amount of size. These are also largely popular with the public due to the fact that most online stores sell them for .99 cents a piece.

One of the major problems that stems from the popularization of MP3’s is the multiple-encoding that sometimes arises from them. Basically, this is the unfortunately popular practice of taking an encoded MP3, burning it to a disc, giving it to a friend, and having them re-rip (encode) it to their system, resulting in a complete and total fidelity loss for no reason whatsoever. Although an MP3’s file size is incredibly small, so is the quality of the sound. Despite these drawbacks, the consumers have spoken and ease of use and portability are what today’s general customer crave the most.

This huge cost and lack of portability is what largely drove consumers to CD’s in the first place. CD’s offer a mid to high quality level of sound while providing a very small delivery vessel. CD’s are also harder to damage than the traditional LP, and most of the time the damage is able to be repaired. Being a physical format it is immune to hard drive crashes, and unlike records it causes zero wear and tear when you use it each time. CD’s have a relatively high bit-rate of 1,411.2 KBPs, meaning that they have much more depth and clarity than MP3’s, but oddly enough, CD’s greatest asset is not being utilized in the least...

Technically speaking, a CD’s low-end dynamic-range is greater than that of the LP. This means that a CD can technically produce more low end frequencies than that of even a vinyl. Now on the outset, discovering that CD’s have a lower potential dynamic range, but they are in fact inferior to a wave-form may seem complicated, but it’s not. Yes, a CD designed directly from a professional mixer can in fact have audio levels that are not possible with an LP. However, due to what are being called the “loudness wars”.

The record labels are understandably in a competition to have their music heard over those of their competitors. This has resulted in labels pushing CD producing plants and digital distributors to make their music as loud as possible through what is defined by  Scott Metcalfe, the director of recording arts and sciences at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University as “the range from the loudest notes being played to the softest notes being played”.

This practice effectively removes the peaks and valleys of a waveform making the entirety of it to sound as if it is louder as a whole. Unfortunately, this removes much of the character and subtlety of music, or as Bob Dylan puts it “You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like—static.” Although this affects CD’s and MP3’s, this is one of vinyl’s main draws for many people as record producing plants are not able to perform excessive compression with vinyl due to its physical constraints.

Based on all of the positives and negatives of each of these formats, the consumer seems to want portability and ease first, and quality second. Enter the FLAC file. FLAC is an acronym for Free Lossless Audio Codec. FLAC encodes at the maximum data rate of which humans can hear, but does not compress the audio, it compresses it as a file. For instance, with zero quality loss, FLAC zips the file to make 40-60% smaller with absolutely no quality degradation. The file size ends up being around 40 megabytes, more than small enough to fit on today’s 8, 16, or 32 gigabyte phones/players.

FLAC has a lot going for it. You can create a FLAC file out of your CD with just a burner. With just a little experience with audio, you can even rip a copy of your favorite LP’s and output an identical FLAC file that is just as clean as the original vinyl. This allows the portability of a vinyl collection and the ability to create a backup of any of your audio to keep for years to come. Most importantly, FLAC has one thing going for it that other lossless formats do not: It is entirely free to use. Is FLAC for everyone? No. Many people cannot differentiate the difference between a 320kbps MP3 encode and a CD, for them, they will go with MP3. But for those who care about audio quality AND portability, FLAC seems to be the best option around.

So what does this mean for the future of the record industry?  Which format will prevail? Well, records and vinyl have been steadily selling more each year since 1998 and appear to be on an upswing that is not going away anytime soon. CD’s certainly are suffering dimension sales and do not appear to be a long term solution as they are quickly falling out of popularity. MP3’s are still reigning supreme at the moment, but with the cost of affordable, high quality audio equipment coming down each year, that may not last. One amazing idea that has been prevailing among indie record labels is selling vinyl copies with a CD or download voucher with it. Sometimes even both. This allows the user to choose their experience and how they want their media, essentially taking the power out of the hands of the labels, and putting it where it truly belongs…. in the users hands.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Gunpowder and Acid Incident (Part 1 of the Josh was Dumb in School Saga)

In the course of my so-called academic career at Madison Public Schools, I learned something at a very young age: It doesn't fucking matter. Until the 6th grade, I worked my ass of and several times was vocally refereed to as the "head of my class" by authority figures who cared to measure such things. However, with a school-system that was hesitant to teach evolution, and only did so as one of "multiple options you can go into yourself", 90% of what they taught was either bullshit, or far, far below anyone with a brain. As a result, I grew tired of their system and began to rebel against it (I went into detail some of the schools issues in this blog). For what it's worth, my grandfather (father's father), the once superintendent of the school system attempted to make this broken mess into something. This story is the first of three blogs I will be publishing about my major dealings with the powers that be during my Middle to High-school years.

Personal issues at home that I have spoke at length about in other blog posts combined with my having zero respect for such a laughable fucking school resulted in a heavy amount of early, outward rebellion from myself. Many people in these days were shocked by my disregard for the establishments rules and regulations, I however then and now, maintained that I was just ahead of the curve.. an early bloomer if you will. Anyway, this lead me to be very "experimental" at a young age, hence some of my many adventures.  One of the first major things my group of friends and I (more about them here) got into were explosives. We, as many other teenage boys at this age, greatly enjoyed occasionally blowing the shit out of stuff. Some of the gang would steal bottle rockets and such, but I always brought the gold as my Grandpa (Moms Dad) was a bit of a gun nut and thus, had plenty of artillery.

My Grandpa and I never had much in common. He drank alot and occasionally just wanted to argue about meaningless shit. He did love me, but being a battle-hardened, slightly crazy war vet, we really had fuckall in common. That is until the day I watched him blow up an old stuffed rabbit with a homemade artillery shell. Instantly we had what would be a lasting mutual interest in something... blowing shit the fuck up. Nearly every weekend we would cram some innocent toy and stuff it full of highly explosive materials hooked to some sort of detonation device and blammo! It was launched into a fiery oblivion. He introduced me to bottle-rockets, M-80's, black-cap, fuse, and most importantly... black powder.

Of all of the shady people I knew, James was the only one of them seemed as if he wasn't a total piece of shit (again, went into detail about him on this blog). James often bragged about his exploits with the older kids and one day in music class he made the mistake of talking about his experiences with acid. As soon as I caught wind of this, Nash and I immediately hit him up to get some. He quoted me a figure of way more money than I had access to at the time, but then asked me what I had to trade. The M-80's I had immediately came to mind. Unfortunately, he had a few already... but he did want something bigger. That's when I remembered my Grandpa's stash of black powder in the back of his closet. Nash and I then bartered 4 hits of acid (one for each of my friends and I) off of James for one full cup of pure black powder, and the exchange was set to take place the next week.

That weekend, I went to my Grandparents house with a much different plan than usual. Normally on these weekends I would wait till they were asleep and steal a few Miller Genuine Drafts from my Grandpa's drawer in his fridge, this time however, was different. I went to the cupboard to find a container with a top so as not to spill any in transport, but all I could find was my little cousin's sippy-cup. So making do, I grabbed it, went into his closet, filled it halfway up with black powder, and hid it away in my bag.

Seeing as how I lived in the country, did not have transportation, and lived 10 miles from him, I took the sippy-cup filled with gunpowder to school that Monday morning. In the middle of the day I quietly gave it to James and he hid it in his locker, promising to bring me acid the next day. As far as I was concerned that was the end of my involvement with it. It had left my hands and I assumed that he was smart enough to handle himself with it... boy was I wrong. What I didn't know was happening on his return from school would drastically change my life.

Somehow, the seemingly street smart dude dropped this container on the floor of the bus on his way home. Furthermore, he must have told at least a handful of people as to exactly what it was, but not necessarily what it was capable of. As the story from him goes, when it hit the floor on his bus trip home, a decent amount of it spilled out and a mutual friend of ours, Shawn, gathered it in a piece of paper and folded it up. Although I trusted James with this powder, I knew better than to give it to anyone with Shawns reputation, and he should have too. As soon as he got off the bus, a few of the "bad kids" all gathered round as Shawn put his face a foot above it and lit the paper.... thus igniting it directly in his eyes.

Now Shawn didn't sustain any permanent damage due to this, but he burned the shit out of himself and it effectively removed any and all hair he had on his face. To make a long story short, the ambulance came and treated him, the cops at the hospital made inquiries, Shawn rolled on James, James rolled on me, and the investigation officially began. Drug dogs made a sweep of the bus and positively identified there being residue of explosives. The cops intercepted James at school, made their formal arrest, put him in the car, and then came looking for me, ironically enough, in music class where the whole damn thing started.

They interrogated me for two hours with the assistance of the principle, the whole time of which I denied it... until they brought James out. James walked into the room, eyes swollen with tears, and he told me that it was over and that they knew nearly everything. The cops gave me one last chance to come clean, and in return, they would let my family collect me and not pull me out of the building and book me for the entire weekend. Fine, fuck it, I did it, I confessed. But with James standing there, I figured I'd do us both a solid and alter the storyline while I had him in the room. I explained to them how I sold the gunpowder to him for $20, and I saw him nod in approval, after all, why complicate this situation with the unnecessary addition of drugs.

They hauled him to jail and my parents hauled me away to the house. I was expelled, but seeing as how there was only two weeks left in class and I had A's, they went ahead and passed me with a C+. At home I endured the entirety of my family railing on me about what I had done. My Mother’s side of the family were more disappointed that I stole from my Grandfather than anything else, a fact of which I agree and am ashamed of. What really sucked is hearing my Father and his side of the family preaching to me about destroying my Grandfather's legacy (he had long since passed) and "ruining" the good Roush name in town (something they repeatedly did WAY better than I ever could a few years down the line, but that story is for another time).

I got a call a few days later and the court date was set (about a week and a half after the incident). My mother and I agreed it was best if I was represented by a capable attorney, so much to my father's disappointment, she called up the man that had represented her in their divorce. The man was damn good, and based on their prior experience, even agreed to represent me for free. Even though this good show of faith, my father refused to speak to the man or shake his hand. That was my dad.

I arrived in court with lawyer in tow, and we sat down in the cramped waiting area. We noticed the other families that were involved with this incident present as well. I darted my eyes a few times to avoid Shawn's scorched face, but eventually got up the balls to go and awkwardly apologize to his family. James' family and lawyer were also in attendance, though he was oddly absent (I later learned he had been in custody the entire time). Also gathered in the all-too-small area were a handful of miscellaneous witnesses to various pieces of this incident and their families. After several intensely awkward hours, we were all finally put before the judge.

We all had our time in front of the judge, Shawn got off completely due to the fact the judge decided he had learned his lesson. When it was done, his family got up and walked directly out... that's when I witnessed something that made me cry. James was brought before the judge in cuffs, his mother wailing hysterically, and his father shooting me a look of death. It was a terrible, horrid sight, which was made worse when it was all said and done. See, this wasn't James first offense.... nor his second. James was then scolded and sentenced to two additional months in Juvenile Hall, and I broke down when I saw this tough man walk out sobbing.

Then came me. My name was called, I raised my head up high and sat down next to my lawyer. I wasn't a tough guy, at least not yet. But be damned if I was going to let them see MY emotions. I sat down like a man to that table and expected to be carted off right after James. My lawyer got up, made my argument, stated this was my first offense, and made one king hell of a noble effort. Between the good lawyer and my clean record I got dealt 400 hours of community service and yelled at by a judge. It could have been much worse.

The judge then asked me if I had anything I would like to say, so I did. "I deeply regret my actions, and shall not do them again." I honestly told him. Then I continued, this time lying through my teeth, "I now have one hurt friend, and one jailed directly due to my actions, for that, I am deeply sorry as well."

Now, why was I lying through my teeth? Was I not emotionally impacted by the things that had happened to these two boys? Of course I was, and I was damn sorry I had to go to court because I stole from my Grandfather. But MY actions did not put them in their predicament, my terrible judgement merely enabled them to make bad decisions. Shawn was a nice kid, but at the end of the day he stole something he knew was dangerous and used it in a retarded way. And James? Well to quote Quentin Tarrantino, "He should have fucking better known better." He rolled on me, and although I hated to see an otherwise alright guy be put away, at the end of the day he still turned me in. Hell, it didn't even take him much coercing and he still got busted for the same crime at the end of the day.

THAT is the lesson I took away from this situation: What little you gain by rolling on a friend is nothing in comparison to what you lose within yourself.

Next time, The Marijuana Incident (Part 2 of the Josh was Dumb in School Saga)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Small Town, Small Corupt Minds In Power

Alot of the stories I tell are about my raising hell as a teenager. I was never a "rebel without a cause", I had a cause and I was damn sure it was just. Perhaps some... ok, alot of the time I didn't channel my anger and rage toward the correct subjects, but I'm beginning to learn how to. This blog is a big part of that, I write not only in an attempt of exorcizing my demons, but also to point out the wrongs that I have long quietly sat back and dealt with.

I grew up in Madison Township, a little rural area right outside the City of Middletown Ohio otherwise known as "living in the country". Middletown is a small, shithole of a city so named due to its proximity between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio (the area had it's "15 minutes" when this appeared as a question on Jeopardy). It's one of the many cities in the United States that grew exponentially with the once prospourous paper and steel industries densely located in the area. However, as these companies prodominetly began to move overseas, the jobs went with them.

Whats left today is a battleworn shell of the area's former glory. An all but abandoned downtown sits largely vacant where the locals are more likely to rob or proposition you then they are to provide any legal service. Once upon a time these buildings were hot commodities and the entirety of the town came to the area to do their day to day business. Today, the local industry is mostly located outback of Central ave where the toothless, meth addled prostitutes service the town's men in the back of old rusted out pickup trucks. This begs the question, how do once prosperous towns get in this shape?

With small towns either everyone cares about the business of the city and perticipates in the local government, or no one does and leaves it up to the jackals that flock to the potential oppertunity that only being in power provides. Unfortunately, Middletown/Madison seemingly fell into the former category (although Madison wasn't big enough to be bothered with any real politics). There are many, many examples of this particular brand of small minded, self-entitled thinking to be spoke of, but due to the nature of the blog format, I will only list a few, particularly viscous cases.

The first is of local "entrepreneur" and "humanitarian" Perry Thatcher. While serving his elected duty heading the Middletown City Council, he owned about 112 acres of seemingly useless real estate. No one thought much of this until he and his partner received about 5.5 Million dollars in taxpayer income when the board he was member of voted to purchase the land and build the new city hospital there. Thatcher claimed to be "hands off" with the deal. Unfortunately that seemed enough to passify the public as he pocketed nearly 2.25 Million Dollars of their hard earned money without a conflicted-interest.Yes, a few people raised issue with this, but no one cared enough to be vocal on the subject.

Thatcher donated alot of money to local charities, many of which were designed to help the local economy and promote the growth of the local artistic community. That would seem to be completely contradictory to his position of removing the "punk rock element" that "plagued" a venue of which he owned. Enter, the Hoosegow, a local studio that hosted some of the hardest working local bands of the area. The place was located in a nearly abandoned area of downtown Middletown located next to the local homeless sanctuary and even the bank sharing its corner had shut down. This "detriment" of a musical showcase had both local and national acts that toured in it. However, Thatcher deemed it a public nuisance and successfully seeked to kick out the local inhabitants. After a brief and well deserved riot protesting the ending of the only local strictly musical venue happened, he had the property turned into a much more profitable endeavor. A parking lot. In an already vacant area. (One day, when certain unnamed statute of limitations run out, I will go more in depth on this event)

But Middletown wasn't the only source of corruption, it branched out into the country as well. Madison School system and the powers that helmed it for several years were just as corrupt.. Every 2 years the school begged the community for more money due to needing "increasing infrastructure, facilities, and faculty". Horseshit. I used to watch as the teachers would take publicity photo's of "overcrowded rooms" and not having enough desks for students. Do you know how these photo's were accomplished? Piling 3 different classes into one half vacant classroom. I was there, I saw it happen, and it wasn't just on one occasion.

Furthermore, when ever it appeared that a new budget increase would not go through, the powers-that-be threatened to pull the only thing that the school had to offer, the football team. Now, the coach was a piece of shit as were most of the players, but to speak honestly, football was the only activity in Madison that MADE the school more money than it shelled out. Now, why would a school threaten to remove a program that actually benefitted it financially? Because they knew they had the community by the balls and there was no way they would let their prescious football program go by the wayside.

Worst place ever? Not by far. Middletown/Madison has plenty of amazing humans who care deeply about one another residing in it. These are but a few quick examples of the corruption that unfortunately plague the area. One is left to wonder if the area would be in the shitty mess that it is neck deep in at the moment if greed, power, and money weren't the primary concerns of those governing. Many of us are quick to blame the economy for the conditions of our beloved hometowns, but sometimes, you have to place the blame within yourself for not rising up and pointing out the corruption right underneath our noses. I for one am tired of sitting backseat as some greedy, cash obsessed asshole helms the wheel, only to tuck and roll as you are sent off of the edge of the cliff.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rebelling Teenagers or just Ahead of the Curve?

As I previously stated in this blog, I have had many groups of friends in my days. It just seems that as life progresses, I gain and eventually leave groups of friends to go on and do my own thing somewhere else. That is not to say I am still not completely and totally loyal to my friends, I still hang out with people from nearly every group that I have ever been a part of. Some groups form from necessity, some I've joined and they have become closer than my family, and some I will probably never encounter again in my life. For whatever reason, this just seems to be part of my natural ebb and flow of my life. This entry is another attempt at explaining THIS group so that readers can have some insight into my bigger, more ridiculous stories down the road without having to explain a ton of backstory.

At age 13 my friends mainly consisted of Nash, Fred, and James (names changed to protect the guilty). These guys were just as ahead of the curve as I was and were already smoking pot and drinking in abundance when I began to hang out with them that year. Fred was the brains of the group and I had known him since we were both in diapers as our mothers were friends in high school. Nash was a huge source of inspiration to me as he got me into Nirvana during this time and we both got into guitars and making music at the same time. James was good people but came from a shit family, he was rough and tumbly, but as long as you were on his side, you eternally had a good friend in your corner.

At this time I was little more than someone who was wrongly looking at his father as a rolemodel. Up until this point I had modeled myself directly off of my father (for lack of any other male influence). A few years prior to this I wore cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, thick rimmed aviator 80's style eyeglasses and blue jeans. I wanted to be just like him in a big and bad way in these formitive years.... at least until I realized what a miserably repressed piece of shit he genuinely was....

The Alcohol Incident:
We four would crash at one anothers house and drink each others parents booze and just generally raise hell with one another all in the name of good, clean anti-establishment fun. The biggest of these nights began and ended at my mothers house. She worked at Miller and 3 weeks before the party I stole a 12 pack of Miller Genuine Draft and hid it for the get together. Now... by hid it, I mean I hid it from humans. I didn't hide it from just her, I hid it from the world. I thought it best to make it disapear from public eyes by taking it deep into my woods, and burying it 3 feet into the earth. Overkill? Yes. But my Mom was crazy overbearing... so, better than being busted.

There we were, fireside and drunk. Completely annihilated on three beers a piece. At least we thought we were annihilated, as far as we were concerned this is what drunk was, this was the beginning, middle and end of drunk. After a while we noticed by the lights in her room that my mother went to bed and Nash and James snuck in and amongst at least 10 bottles of alcohol... they stole the bottle of lime gin. We then proceeded to my room, where they drunkenly spilled 2/3rds of the bottle all over my bedroom, making my room stick like potent 7-Up. In a panic, I deluded some food coloring and Sprite in water, added some lime juice and stuck it back in the cabinet where it sat until the day she moved, unused and un-drank.

The First Pot Incident:
Our first group attempt at smoking weed was less than fruitful. We had a solid lead in Jake (of whom will HEAVILY be involved in one of the next stories). Of all of the shady people I knew, Jake was the only one of them seemed as if he wasn't a total piece of shit. He lived near Jason's house, on the "wrong side of the tracks". Jake had an older brother and we all knew that they smoked pot together, so we decided to pursue him to acquire some. Upon calling. Jake instructed us to wait quietly down the street until he gave us a signal to come and pick it up so as to not arouse his Fathers suspicions. So, not fully trusting the situation, we each grabbed a weapon, mine being nun-chucks, and headed down the street.

We sat there for the better part of a half hour, lurking in the shadows before we suspected somthing wrong. Not wanting to split up for fear of missing Jake, Nash and Jason went back to the house to recall Jake. Jake instructed that he had hid the stuff in the car and to come and collect it, which upon their return, they immediately got to. They were gone an entire 2 minutes when we saw a shadowy figure approach us. We assumed this to be Jake until we saw that the person was holding a baseball bat tightly gripped in his hands.
Fred and I both readied to pull out our weapons when we discovered it was Jake's father.

"What the fuck are you boys doing here?" he asked, bat pulled back as if he were readied to strike us. We concealingly held our weapons, me with my nunchucks and Fred with his knife as I answered "We were waiting on Jake, he said he wanted to come and hang out." His crazy, drunken eyes darted back and forth at us with his bat at the ready as he began screaming about how much trouble Jake was in and how we were the cause of it. Fred and I just sat back under the dim light of the one streetlamp in the neighborhood while Jake's fucked up dad went on about our being terrible human beings.

Eventually he walked off muttering to himself, leaving Fred and I to just sit in bewilderment. We discussed our options about whether to stay on the street, awaiting the other two of our crew, or to return home when Jason and Nash returned. We then all darted off back to Jason's house at top speed. When we got there, we sat and discussed the hilarity of the event over Coca-Cola and popcorn.... because there was no booze, weed, or alcohol to be had.

Friday, August 16, 2013

AntiCurrent Booze & Grub Review #1: The Record Crate Bar & Grill - Sydney

In an effort to diversify this blog beyond the occasional insane story about my life, how-to's, bootleg releases, and general absurdity, I am going to branch out and blog about my drinking/dining experiences as well. Now, for those of you that don't know me personally, I have quite diverse taste. For instance, last night I was at a hole in the wall pub with graffiti on the walls where the overwhelming stench of of feces was permeating the room, and tomorrow I am taking the love of my life for a 10 course meal with matching wines at an upscale French restaurant. So these posts will range from everything between gutter-punk places that may be completely and totally unsafe to visit, to upscale eateries I shouldn't be able to afford and everything in between.

The Record Crate Bar and Grill Sydney GlebeWith that said, The Record Crate, located in beautiful Sydney, Australia (specifically Glebe) is basically Disneyland for seasoned music affectionados such as myself. Under one roof you can watch amazing live music, stand up comedy, view experimental live art performances, browse amazing quality hard to find records, eat great food and drink amazing beer. I've visited there only a handful of times and have already added amazing condition, original pressings of Tom Waits, The Pogues, The Clash, and Nick Cave, just to name a few. Basically this is my favorite place in the world.
Neville & I

Now, every record store worth its salt usually has one amazingly well-rounded owner/operator in charge of the ship and this place is no different. His name is Neville, and like all record store owners, he is a wealth of knowledge. This dude can school even the best informed record collector and teach him a thing or two about what pressing was made where and how it differs to other pressings at the time.

First two Clash Albums in One Set
For instance, I recently was in the market to purchase an original pressing of The Clash's self-titled record. He asked me whether I was purchasing it to collect, or if i was just wanting to spin some amazing sounding vinyl. I answered that I wasn't overly in need of collectability, and he pulled out a gatefold  2-for-1 pressing released by CBS records in the mid 1980's that contained their first two records. The cover was beat, but the discs were in fine condition. He informed me that these were not very collectible but for the price, you couldn't beat the value as both records were struck from the same source as the original pressings. So instead of purchasing an OG copy of the first album that I was just going to spin and ruin for $100 or more dollars, I got the same quality recording, plus their second album "Give Em' Enough Rope" for $15. These are the kind of deals/experience that only a few people have access to.

Brekky Sandwich
Not only is this an amazing wealth of knowledge and records, the food too is quite spectacular, in particular the breakfast. I've had a nasty habit as of late of closing down the bar and upon waking up, stumbling back down the road to have The Record Crate's amazing Eggs Benedict (although this particular morning I had the breakfast sandwich). For under $20 you get a full two eggs poached, toast, and bacon (which is actually known as Canadian Bacon to this State-side guy). This and a little hair of the dog is my usual order and I can not overstate it's ability to battle even the worst hangovers you've encountered.

Speaking of hair of the dog, the booze here is great. They have liquor available to make any cocktail you desire, but what's even better than that is that they have Kingpin on tap for a reasonable price. Matter of fact, Kingpin is so popular here that they named their houseband The Kingpins after it (more on them later). There are also a selection of other taps and bottled beverages as well, but in my typical fashion, I found the one I like and refuse to touch anything else.... unless it's a extra-dry, dirty, uncouth, martini.;-)

As for the entertainment, it is quite diverse. They recently removed the majority of the CD's (which is sort of a shame as I hate to see CDs fall out of fashion) and put them behind the main counter. This opened up an area to have small bands play and every Thursday night they utilize this space to let their personal houseband The Kingpins play. The band is quite good, verging on a funk almost reggae beat with a wide assortment of sounds. If you're in Glebe on a Thursday night, they are not to be missed for at least a half hour of performing. Past this, Neville has recently began utilizing his top floor to all kinds of different acts. Some of these are comedians, but many of these are avant-garde live performances bordering on the insane. It's well worth looking into anyone he would book, but even if they are not your cup of tea, there is still the downstairs main are and the outdoor courtyard where you don't have to partake in the experience.

All in all I cannot say more positive things about The Record Crate. Everything from the building, to the staff, to the food, to the drink, and most importantly, the records, are of the highest caliber. When visiting Sydney, Glebe is a must-visit area. It is very art-centric, containing indie bookstores, art galleries, eateries, and most importantly, The Record Crate which is a must-visit when anywhere near the area. A+++

The Record Crate on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 5: Rancid- Life Won't Wait Demos

For the fifth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the demos for my FAVORITE album of all time.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

This is an exciting post for me as Rancid is one of my all time favorite bands and LWW is hands down my favorite album of all time. In 1997, I was 13 years old and living in my hometown of Middletown, Ohio where there was fuck all going on. I was still figuring out exactly who I was as a person and looking for some kind of direction to take my life. It was that January that the movie "Beavis and Butt-Head: Do America" was released, and forever altered the course of my life. In it was a sequence where they used the song "I Wanna Riot" by Rancid W/The Stubborn All-Stars and I was immediately breath-taken. "What the fuck is this music" I wondered. It was loud, angry, talked about rioting.... but it was fast paced and had horns.... it was like nothing I'd ever heard and it was just what a pissed-off little 13 year old me needed.

Life Wont Wait Front Cover Demo Bootleg
This being the days before the internet, I immediately went out to CD Connection at the mall and guilt-tripped my father (with what a shit parent he was) into buying it for me. The soundtrack was mostly amazing, but I really just kept "I Wanna Riot" on a constant loop. It wasn't long before I went off in search of more material by this band, Rancid.... Unfortunately, living in a one horse town didn't lend to there being any sort of diverse taste available at your local store and I couldn't get my hands on ANY of their material without special ordering it for a 15% up charge on the product, and being 13, I had zero money.

I kept on a steady diet of readily available music at the time, got huge into Nirvana, huge into the Seattle scene, but was always alluded by the inability to track down any Californian based punk rock... at least that was until Rancid dropped a little album titled "Life Won't Wait" in 1998. I walked by the FYE in our mall and spotted the LWW album, not only in stock, but on the "listening machine" where you could demo the album. I was broke, but I stood in front of the machine for a solid hour and a half listening to every track of this genius piece of music. I returned a few days later with money I had either begged for or stole, purchased the album, declared my self a punk-rocker, and have yet to look back.

Fast forward to years later, I started to get heavily into the bootleg scene. Not bootlegged, readily available albums, that is just fucked up, but I became a huge collector of B-Sides, rarities, and demos. I read on some forum that a guy who's username I will not publish had not only the demos for the album that got me into punkrock, but also an exclusive acoustic show by Rancid that I was able to lie my ass off and attend. At this time, the Life Won't Wait Demos were not readily available and only 3 people claimed to have access to them. Of those 3, two were full of shit. I got the rip of this from the man who himself got it directly from Matt Freeman via a cassette tape in the early 2000's. For this, I traded him 2 bootleg Rancid vinyls, and an original pressing of their debut album.

Life Wont Wait back Cover Demo BootlegThe demos have since leaked much more aggressively and aren't quite as hard to get ahold of anymore (I may have purposefully played a role in this as I think that everyone should have access to them, not just a select few). This demo was originally accompanied with an additional 6 tracks by the band The Silencers which was Rancid with Vic and Dave from The Slackers. I decided against publishing them with these as I believe the two are best listened to independently of one another.

These demos are great quality and are sure to be enjoyed by any fan of the album. As with any demo, this is a much more stripped down very raw version of these songs. In particular, the song "Brad Logan" that ended up on the South Park soundtrack I feel is a much stronger version of the song, and actually contains female backing vocals (of whom I am only assuming to be by Brody at the time).

If you enjoy LWW as much as I do, I suggest you check out the newly remastered 45 set that just came out. The records were completely remastered to utilize the 45 sound, and although I wouldn't say they sound superior to the original record by any means, I would say that it is an entirely new experience with an all time classic punkrock album. As a side note, i own every incarnation of this album from the CD I had Lars sign in 2002, to the vinyl, to the picture vinyl (which isn't suggested for anymore other than wall-artwork, which mine is, and is signed by the entire band). See folks, I don't just put out free bootlegs in place of buying their music, get out there and support your favorite independent musicians goddammit.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1: Who Would've Thought
2: The Wolf
3: Backslide
4: Cash, Culture & Violence
5: Things To Come
6: Brad Logan
7: Hoover Street

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Doesn't Kill You, Can Make You Stronger

Many, many things in life shape the people we are to become. Many of them are the good influences like family and friends and the people who are truly positive examples of whom to aspire to be and how to act in life. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of those growing up (which isn't to say everyone in my family are bad people). Now, this isn't meant to be a pity party, but in an effort to maintain complete and total truth in the representation of myself on this blog, I would be leaving out a huge chunk of my story if I was to not speak of some of the terrible events that shaped my formative years, no matter how brutal it may be. It’s important to me that I be 100% honest on here because when it comes down to it, I am writing this blog for no one but myself. After all, even the worst events in life make you who you are, and bring you to where you are today.

At 8 years old my parents divorced. That was a damn good thing, although in retrospect, it did cause my mother to often inwardly freaked out and worry that I would blame her for breaking up our family unit. On the contrary, I could not have been happier when the news finally broke. This to me signified the end of brutal fights that often resulted with them destroying one another's property in the most malicious of manners. Many times it would even reach incredibly violent levels, building ultimately to my watching my Father hold a gun to my Mother in the hallway outside my room. He maintains to this day that he was attempting to show her the gun was empty. She maintains that he was holding it to her neck. My young recollection only puts them together with me glancing my father holding a gun pointed in her direction and my beginning to sob uncontrollably. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of all three accounts.

Upon their divorce concluding, my Dad nearly immediately met a woman and got engaged. Her name was Teresa and she was from the hills of Kentucky. She didn't have a lot of money and she had two kids much older than I, but she seemed nice enough... at first. She even made it a point to tell me she thought I was a good kid and that I must have a good mother. Looking back, she is the reason I am completely untrusting of anyone who immediately fills you full of compliments before seeing who you actually are. This overcompensation usually masks a hidden agenda.

Right before they tied the knot, I noticed a distinct personality change in her as she moved into my house. She began to become cold and extremely judgmental of everything I did. This escalated in the coming months ultimately building toward her openly hating a 9 year old boy without attempting to conceal it in any way. I was very overweight at that point in my life and was a bit of a nerd. I had the highest scores in class and didn't have a lot of friends. And although I wasn't picked on at all, I was most definitely a shut-in.

Her hatred built and eventually culminated in her taking over my bedroom at the house. She took what had been my room (that I only used every other weekend when visiting my father) and stenciled hearts and apples on all of the walls. She decorated the room with creepy as fuck Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls and placed other inanimate antique-toys on the shelves that seemed to to stare at you with a look of rape and torment in their eyes (this bitch even had a stuffed cat in her living room). She threw away my bed and substituted two twin beds located 3 1/2 feet off of the ground so that I may share the room with her mid-20's son when he would come home from college. I eventually resigned myself to spending all of my time in my father’s barn playing around with woodworking tools and watching the Pittsburgh Penguins play hockey on his $3 TV in his "office” that consisted of a vacant desk and an empty refrigerator. I left my sanctuary only to sleep, and upon waking, immediately returned and spent the rest of the day there with my dog Bullet.

It even got worse as the time went on. Eventually I wasn't even allowed to make food in her house. When I would make a sandwich, she would literally walk behind me and throw things away as I placed them next to my plate while vocalizing derogatory comments such as "Who ever left this out must be a worthless fat piece of garbage" in her extreme hillbilly draw. She said this as I was standing next to the plate. I hadn't even left anything out, I was still using it. This treatment eventually got so bad that I started to form depression and by 11 years old I was suicidal. I would carry a serrated steak knife up to my room nightly and hack away at my arm. Why? It’s hard to explain, but physical pain was much easier and more immediately dealt with than the mental pain and instability that I was experiencing. I took great solace in that knife blade and unfortunately I still carry the scars of it to this day.

Whenever I was stuck there, my father would ultimately leave during the days and go to work on the weekends without me, leaving me to the care of a woman who would have been happier if I were dead. She would take money from my father under the guise of taking us to the mall, and upon getting there, give my step-sister $100 to go and spend and leave me with whatever I had in my pocket, which at age 12 was absolutely nothing. I would spend hours sitting in the center of the mall staring at the fountain and wishing I were dead while they walked around with my father’s money and gleefully wasted it while rubbing their purchases in my face.

At age 13 I was finally discovering who I was by being consistently beaten in the face by people I never wished to be. I got into music and guitars, and for the first time in my life I wasn't listening to what my parents told me was good music. I began to wear flannel and listen to early Grunge and Punk. During this time my father would periodically force me to attend dinners with him and his new family on a bi-weekly basis where I was clearly never wanted by anyone but him (and even that was debatable). It got to the point where I refused to eat with them and would pretend I was sick and hide in the truck the entire time while listening to my bootleg tapes of Nirvana on the truck stereo. I'm fully convinced that music is the only thing that actually stopped me from taking my own life during these days, although that did not stop me from attempting to do so.

During this time I was not only discovering music and who I was, I was also discovering drugs and alcohol. After one particularly terrible Christmas at my fathers which ended in the cops coming to break up my father and his wife, I ended up hammered for the first time. In his eternal wisdom, my dad told me that everything would be OK and that I should just have a shot and forget about it. One shot with him turned into five and five shots with my step-sister turned into ten. By the end of the evening I had consumed 13 shots of Jim Beam before passing out in my twin bed and falling flat on my face from the 3 foot fall when the room began to spin.

My early onset alcoholism was made worse when my father purchased a houseboat for his family. When I would attend I was given free reign over the alcohol and I put it to good use. After a day of directly discouraging remarks to my 14 year old face by someone in her 40's, I began to use both drink and drugs heavily as a crutch to get through the day. When I would eventually get hammered enough to get a little sentimental, I would inquire to my father why he would let his only son be treated like that. His answer was simple enough, I needed to grow up and stand up for myself rather than let myself be beaten down. It is because of this that my father is the single biggest influence I've ever had in my life. He is an easily manipulated, self-absorbed, coward of the highest level. Instead of telling his wife to fuck off and treat the only blood he will ever have in this life like they deserve to be, he chose to place the blame on the shoulders of a 14 year old boy. He is an ever shining beacon of all things in my life that I wish to never become.

This all culminated in my attempting to kill myself at age 14. One night, after a girl I was crushing on made it apparent that she did not feel the same way, I ate 50 aspirin and laid down in my bed for what I hoped would be my final time. This was not a spur of the moment decision, this was calculated. I had determined that it was easier to not exist than to live life as I was being forced to. It was a stupid move that only ended up with me eating a hole in my stomach and not able to eat for a week. What's worse yet is that no one noticed that I was not eating as they couldn't have given two shits about me and my mother was busy attending night school after her day job ended.

But the story ultimately has a happy ending, or at least thus-far it does. At age 15 I started doing a heavy introspection of my life and concluded that all of these people were pieces of shit and deserved each other. My father deserved the wife that would fill her Kentucky home with his furniture anytime they chose to separate for a few weeks, and my Father deserved the cold, unloving wife that resembled a frightful troll more than a woman. They all deserved each other and I was better than all of them put together. My life improved noticeably the day that I quit concerning myself with having a family that I deserved, and instead used the pieces of shit surrounding me as anti-role-models of how a human being should conduct affairs in this life.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Excess in Abundance, San Diego Comic-Con 2013

This tale may or may not be true, and the names have most certainly been changed. So do not only take it with a grain of salt, please consume the shaker. Or perhaps, just as likely this is a toned down version of the exact events that took place, dumbed-down with the intention to protect myself and my not-so innocent compatriots. Guess you have no way to tell, but then again, who ever does with writing?

Bike Cleaned For Con
We took off on a Wednesday afternoon and the idea was that I would follow my buddy and his wife down to the Con on my motorcycle. I assumed we would become separated and that I wouldn't be able to stomach the traffic and would begin splitting lanes to make up time, of which I was correct. The idea still being, that if anything were to happen to me along the way, they would be behind me at some point to pick up the pieces of either my bike or I.

About an hour and a half in to the two and a half hour ride I regretted this decision. I was safely (as safely as you can) splitting the car-pool lane at about 40 MPH as traffic was slowed down to around 15 MPH around me. Suddenly, a man crossed the quadruple yellow without signaling and came into the lane of which I was occupying and grazed my tire before even looking to see where he was merging. He almost immediately realized his mistake and hopped back into his lane but the momentum shift of my bike threw my front tire off of balance and began to skid around the road.

Now, the rest of this is my assessment of what happened because I had to piece the event back together due to it all taking place within about 5 very unclear seconds. Which upon retrospect felt like an eternity. I regained control of my front tire by wrestling it with my arms but had inadvertently locked up the back brakes and my ass-end began to slip and slide wildly. I instantly disengaged the brake but my bike was already all over the road. I plowed down my right foot to regain balance and upon doing so, threw the bike in the opposite direction to which I corrected with my left foot.

Eventually this process of ping-ponging back and forth resulted in my not going down, but it severely hurt my already weak (another story in itself) left ankle. The driver then waved apologetically at me to which I returned his gesture with a middle-finger and drove on to the next gas station where I sat for a half-hour and re-examined the all-too-late idea of riding to San Diego. Inevitably I got back up, dusted myself off, and went back on the road. I met up with the rest of my crew once I got there and immediately went to the most important task: Drinking. I checked my bags and headed off to the hotel bar to knock back a few before attempting the mile long walk to the con.

If you've never been there, the size of this convention can not be overstated, and it is rumored to double next year. The eye cannot help but dart back and forth between over-weight men who have never had a lay in their life, to amazing bodied cos-play girls showing less clothes than they do skin. The place somehow encapsulates both what it is to be a true basement-dwelling, masturbatory nerd, as well as the now embraced "geek culture" consisting of heavily CGI'd comic-book adaptations and video games. It is truly two sides of one weird coin, and somehow they both achieve some strange symbiotic existence.

Waking In Car
Wednesday night was child's play. We went out drinking, ran around town with our friends, ran into people we would rather avoid, made new friends, created a few enemies and generally pursued the most aggressive destruction of our livers possible. However, with our personal excess never being enough, the rest of our crew winded down early for an easy first night. The pussies. So my buddy and I took the whiskey and beer and headed to have our own private party in his car located in the parking garage. We laughed, we over-talked one another, got stupidly sentimental, and ultimately passed out for the night in the front seats. To many, this must sound like a weird, terrible thing to do.... to us, it seemed second nature.

Crazy Christians
I woke up that morning with a hangover... go figure. Upon sweating our asses off at 9AM, my friend and I separated and returned to our hotels rooms to shower and prepare for the next days offerings. He went to his hotel directly outside the parking garage, and I went off to my hotel a mile away. To say that I stunk was a colossal understatement, but that did not stop the crazy Christians outside from hounding me with "Get Out of Hell Free" cards. One of them must have smelled me because he turned to me on his megaphone and uttered "I'd never turn my back on one of those stinking homosexuals, you never know what they might do behind you". Way to represent your lord buddy. Bigoted asshole.

Eventually I got cleaned up and made my way back to the show floor where I had to wait outside for my credentials. Now, I look a bit aggressive with my tattoo'd arms and punk-vest with leopard print on it, but with that said, the many, many ways that this is interpreted to outsiders is often hilarious. For example, I was standing in line for my badge when I notice a couple looking at me and whispering. No biggie, happens all the time, however... they were in hardcore bondage gear. The male ventures over to me and asks, "Hey man, do you like Adult fun?". He fully had my attention, after-all, what a way to introduce yourself to a human being. "Sure, why not?" I replied. He then explained to me how he was the head of a club that sponsored "Discreet Adult Parties" and invited me to attend. I of course asked, "Wait... is this an orgy?". "Well", he replied, "We don't use that word, we just get together in a group, wear protection and see where the night takes us." I laughed and said "It IS an orgy!" of which he did not seem to find quite as funny as I did and he moved on.