Metallica/Slayer/Megadeth/Anthrax: The Big Four

Metallica/Slayer/Megadeth/Anthrax: The Big Four
2010, WB Records

Metallica.  Slayer.  Megadeth.  Anthrax.

These four bands, dubbed The Big Four, are the foundation of thrash metal and all of the musical tendrils that have shot fourth from the movement born in the 1980's.  Despite their shared roots, it wasn't until the summer of 2010 when the four bands actually shared the same stage for a string of seven European concert dates.  One of those dates, a June 22, 2010 concert is Sofia, Bulgaria was beamed to movie theaters across Europe and around the United States in high definition, providing an opportunity for those who would never dream of making the trans-Atlantic trip a chance to be a part of history.  On November 2, 2010, Warner Brothers Records releases a 3-DVD/Blueray set of the show as well as a limited edition package that captures both the video and complete audio of the show (on 5CDs) with extras.  To put it bluntly, The Big Four is your favorite metal head's dream come true. 

The first DVD in the set covers Anthrax (CD1), Megadeth (CD2) and Slayers (CD3).  Each set is approximately one hour and features some of the best known hits from each band.  Each set features some of the best known songs of each band delivered in high definition with blistering sound.  Anthrax lets loose with tracks such as "Caught In A Mosh", "Antisocial", "Only" and "I Am The Law", as well as a cover of Joe Jackson's "Got The Time".  Megadeth steps up with "Holy Wars...Punishment Due", "Hangar 18", "Head Crusher", "Trust", "Sweating Bullets" And "Symphony Of Destruction", amongst others.  Slayer blows what's left of the roof off with hits such as "Jihad", "War Ensemble", "Angel Of Death", ""Chemical Warfare" and the Grammy nominated "Disciple".

The second DVD (CD4 and CD5) feature the masters of metal themselves, Metallica.  The headliners of the show are bit more clean cut than they were back in the 1980's, and age may have mellowed their respective personas, but on-stage they still rock out like nobody's business.  Hits such as "Creeping Death", "Heavers Of Sorrow", "Cyanide" and "Sad But True" are worth every penny, but as Metallica enters the second half of their set they raise their game.  The version of "One" offered here is absolutely classic, with all of the raw energy that exploded from the original.  "Master Of Puppets" likewise seems to find the band recapturing their glory days.  "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman" don't seem as out of place in the catalogue as they did upon their initial release and the closing triumvirate of "Am I Evil?", "Hit The Lights" and "Seek And Destroy" simply are not for the faint of heart.

The Big Four preserves an once-in-a-lifetime concert in high definition video and sound.  Folks who missed the thrash metal movement may not get it, but there isn't a band working today who refers to themselves as heavy metal or something-core who doesn't owe their livelihoods to at least one of the four bands featured.  Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax all helped build the foundations for thrash metal, but it was Metallica that turned thrash metal into an international conspiracy that was accessible to more traditional music fans by building the bridge that helped the form cross over into the mainstream with their ground-breaking The Black Album.  Hard core fans will have to have the "Super Deluxe" box set, which includes the DVDs, 5 CDs capturing the complete audio of the show, a 24-page book, a poster, band photos and a collectable guitar pick.  Whichever way you go, you'll be purchasing a record of rock history.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

 Learn more about Metallica at  Learn more about Megadeth at  Learn more about Slayer at  Learn more about Anthrax at The Big Four drops on November 2, 2010.  You can order the set on DVD, Blu-Ray, or as the Super Deluxe Box Set from

Michelle Anthony - Tornadoes

Michelle Anthony - Tornadoes
2010, Merctwyn Records

Kansas City native and current Austin, Texas resident Michelle Anthony returns on November 2, 2010 with her third album, Tornadoes.  Inspired by the new perspectives brought on by motherhood and surviving a near-death experience, Anthony writes autobiographically and in surprisingly positive turns on Tornadoes.  Joined by drummer John Chipman (Band Of Heathens); lead guitarist Grant Tye (Robbie Fulks), Gerald Dye (Robbie Fulks) and Justin Roberts, Anthony has managed to craft her most mature and enthralling work to date.

Tornadoes opens with "Spare Me" a snappy pop tune with wonderful drive and feel.  Anthony's reserved also delivery works well with a message that says it's not as much about what you say in a relationship as how you say it.  This is a great start for the album.  "Tornadoes" explores live upheavals and the periods of peace that follow in a great adult contemporary rock arrangement.  "Permanent" is a soulful adult pop lullaby about the richness of love when it is a real.  The song has a smooth, intellectual depth and striking pop sensibility, and was written for Anthony's newborn son.  Anthony goes for a lush sound with country accents on "Black Coal Heart".  It's not the best songwriting on the album but Anthony paints a pretty aural landscape worth hearing.

"Vacancy" takes a darker turn, taking a look at a side of city life that some never see.  Anthony paints pictures in words and in the charismatic arrangement that freeze time and place even if for a moment.  "Beautiful" is a celebratory love song that finds Anthony working at the edge of her vocal comfort zone; Michelle Anthony shows a few cracks here but the song is very well-written.  "January Singers" has its own distinct cadence.  Anthony sounds nice here, but the song calls for a more dynamic vocal line than she can muster.  Instead Anthony's voice is wrapped up in a wall of sound with her voice buried a bit too far in the mix.  "Don't Deny" shows off Anthony's more pop-oriented side in a catchy rocker before moving into the abstract melancholy of "Yellow Harmony".  Soaked with a sweet melody, "Yellow Honey" is a love song sung from a distance.  Anthony closes with "Lights Of Chicago", a dark and mysterious tune that once again finds Michelle Anthony sounding quite nice, but which seems somewhat out of place on Tornadoes.

Michelle Anthony has an appealing voice within a limited range, and manages quite nicely on much of Tornadoes.  Anthony's songwriting runs from the intellectual folk of Shawn Colvin to the hard-won pop of Sheryl Crow.  When Anthony strays from her comfort zone things don't work quite as well, leaving her voice exposed to its own limitations.  Anthony's choices on Tornadoes are almost always good ones, however, and the album succeeds as a pleasant if occasionally distant collection of songs in the singer/songwriter tradition.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

 Learn more about or on FacebookTornadoes drops on CD on November 2, 2010, but is already available as a download from and iTunes.

Brown Paper Packages

"Brown paper packages, tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!" Maybe it was seeing the recent reunion of the Sound of Music cast on Oprah, but walking through Ikea recently I just HAD to buy some of this kraft paper (a bargain at $1.49 for 8m/26ft!). Immediately, I had visions of creating a vintage Christmas... HandyMan's childhood ornaments decorating the tree, handmade gifts, and presents wrapped in kraft paper and twine.

These images are inspiring me...
Color Me Pretty (via decor8)

Maybe I'll try out the faux bois tool I found this summer and try making Martha's wood grain paper too!

Have you started thinking about the holidays yet?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Happy (almost) Halloween! What are your plans for the weekend? We're going out for Italian food with some friends tonight, so I'm saving my appetite for a giant piece of lasagna. And I'm excited for the Halloween parade this weekend! Toby's going to be either a wolf or a tourist. Hope you have a good one, and here are a few great posts from around the web...

Pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies? Yes, please!

Alphabet bookcase.

Let's go backyard camping.

Love this wedding dress.

Do you think this ponytail styling lotion really works? If so, that's genius.

Awww, such a cute print.

Rethinking sweatpants.

What a lovely wintery shot.

Ooh, I want to go on a photography getaway.

40 clever advertisements.

This beautiful bride wore this beautiful gown!

Kate Spade's adorable inspirations.

Have a good one! xo

(Photo from the new 3191 Quarterly)

Friday giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from Penelope's, a wonderful Chicago-based boutique. They're offering one lucky reader a $200 gift certificate. They carry pieces by Built by Wendy, A.P.C. Sessun, Rachel Comey, and other amazing lines, so you could get some really fabulous pieces. (I'd go for this adorable dress and some "very tight" jeans:)

For a chance to win, please visit Penelope's and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random on Monday. Good luck! xo

Update: Liza is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing.

Two pretty things

This agate locket.
This woven wrap.

Both for carrying your loved ones close to your heart.

Van Gogh tilt-shift

Have you guys ever seen tilt-shift photography? By playing with depth of field, it makes real cities look like miniature models (see examples here and here). Well, Serena Malyon, an art student, used Photoshop to give the same effect to Van Gogh paintings. Aren't these beautiful? See more here.

Gangstagrass feat. T.O.N.E.z. - Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On the Mic

Gangstagrass feat. T.O.N.E.z. - Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On the Mic
2010, Rench Audio

Sometimes the greatest strokes of genius aren't truly original thoughts, but new ways of seeing things we already know.  Computer in a phone come to mind? How about peanut butter and chocolate?  Brooklyn singer/songwriter/producer Rench was at such a crossroads in the summer of 2007.  After spending years creating his own blend of trip-hop and honky-tonk for years Rench wanted to go a bit deeper.  The result was a free compilation called Gangstagrass: Volume 1, blending hip-hop beats and rhymes with bluegrass samples.  The reaction was electric, and Rench was asked to write a them to the new FX show Justified in the same vein.  Rench teamed up with Bronx rapper T.O.N.E-z, the younger brother of Special K (Treacherous Three) and T La Rock to write and record "Long Hard Times To Come", this time using real instrumentalists rather than samples.  The effort was so rewarding that it has inspired an entire album, simply entitled Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic.

Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic opens with "That's Right I'm Good", a delightful blend of gangsta rap and bluegrass full of braggadocio, hot licks and an incessant beat you can't help but want to dance to.  "I'm Gonna Put You Down" explores the intersection of Christian thought and gangsta culture, showing apparent incompatibilities as sometimes surprising points of potential growth.  "Trouble Everywhere I Go" finds T.O.N.E-z at his rhyming best, and the backing vocals included here are amazing.  "Click Ol' Gun" allows the instrumentalists to run away with the show for a few minutes, adding a distinctive zest to bluegrass runs with vibrant hip-hop beats.

"I Go Hard" might carry a double meaning for T.O.N.E-z, crafting an image of danger while implying a ruthless ambition in the pursuit of dreams.  T.O.N.E-z is at his fiery best here, and the trio of Matt Check (banjo); Todd Livingston (dobro) and Jason Cade (fiddle) match him step-for-step.  "Nobody Gonna Miss Me" explores the path of a lone wolf in a world that values conformity.  Gangstagrass and T.O.N.E-z have been building toward an apex from the beginning, and it arrives in this moment blending brilliant rhymes, a stunning arrangement and absolutely inspired musicianship.  "In My Aching Heart Shadows Linger" is a song of longing and remembrance; an emotional moment amongst the complex, shifting emotions that flow throughout the album.  "My Enemies Lay Beneath The Prairie" is one last chance for Gangstagrass to show off their instrumental chops; a dizzying affair that will have you dancing and wondering what just hit you.  Lighting On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic closes with "Put Your Hands Up High"; a feel good closer that's over the top.  T.O.N.E-z rhymes like he believes he's Superman, and he's so good he makes you want to believe.

In an era where the lines between musical genres blend and blur every day it's not surprising that someone got around to mixing bluegrass and hip-hop.  What is amazing is how splendidly well-done Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic truly is.  Gangstagrass, as an instrumental group could walk into almost any venue in Nashville and be welcome.  T.O.N.E-z plays off the disparity in styles, blending brilliant rhymes into the Appalachian mix like he was born to do nothing less.  Gangstagrass is one of the most innovative albums of 2010.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5) 

Learn more about Gangstagrass at or  Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic is available from as a CD and Download.  The album is also available from iTunes.

Jeff Cochell - Between The Lines

Jeff Cochell - Between The Lines
2009, Jeff Cochell

Portland, Oregon guitarist/singer/songwriter Jeff Cochell was first influenced by the work of Bob Dylan and Jimmy Page.  Somewhere along the way he discovered Lindsay Buckingham and Leo Kottke, and dove headfirst into the study of Fingerstyle guitar.  Cochell has become a phenom with the six string; his art clearly apparent throughout his debut album, Between The Lines.

Between The Lines is a confounding albumJeff Cochell is obviously very talented on the guitar, a notable point all throughout the album.  As much as Cochell excels as a guitar player and composer, as a lyricist he is often awkward in his phrasing, seeking out ham-handed lines that simple do not flow.  Cochell is at his best in "My Back's Against The Wall", using vocal harmonies to effectively mask a lack of vocal discipline that often leads to being off pitch while delivering the most cogent lyrics on the album.  "Somewhere" stresses Cochell's strengths as a guitarist in a stirring instrumental piece you'll find yourself listening to again and again.     Throughout much of the rest of Between The Lines Cochell mixes solid musical offerings with less than spectacular vocals and lyrics.

Jeff Cochell has a real ear as a writer and instrumentalist, and it's clear that in the right arrangement with a carefully chosen vocal line Cochell can sound quite good, but his fumbling lyrical sense is a definite disadvantage.  Working with someone for a more natural poetic proclivity may yield an impressive trove of songs as well as sparking the sort of constructive tension that can elevate good songwriting to great.  Between The Lines shows the seeds of musical success, but work needs to be done and Cochell may need to collaborate to realize the best of his talents.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Jeff Cochell at or   Between The Lines is available from as a CD or DownloadThe album is also available digitally from iTunes.




Irish mannequin in store window during Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisiana: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, January 2008 (Library of Congress)

No one asked me where I wanted to be born
said the store window mannequin, but if they had,
I'd have preferred almost anywhere to this festival
of false delights, where the distance between wishes
and dreams is equal to the distance between
promises and lies. That is, it doesn't exist. The deer
do not come down to the water to utter
their spontaneous cries. There's nothing here but concrete.
The deer are legitimately terrified. I too
am terrified. Morning in the canyon, then again night
in the canyon. The gap grows ever more wide
the way the light falls

on a diagonal, the night in its radial aspect
defying meditation. A moon rose in the mind and each thing there
picked up its radial aspect in the night.
Sometime in another other
wise completely ordinary
random century.

Slot Canyons, Page. Arizona: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, May 2009 (Library of Congress)

Copyright on Knitting Patterns

Dear Rich:  I wrote 7 separate patterns detailing how to knit things that I designed.  I adapted my patterns from old patterns published in the U.S. in 1962 by an author then living. I now seek digital publication for my "how-to" articles for my patterns.  I knit mittens based on these patterns and gave them as gifts and took a picture of the children I gifted these mittens to, expressly requesting them and their mother not to use the picture or the articles for their publicity or gain without asking me. I believe they used these photos for gainful purposes and had gain from them. What are my rights to others' profits or gain for their gainful use of the photos or articles gifted? Sent from my iPad. Dear Sent From My iPad: Good luck with your knitting and your patterns. We support crafts makers because they try so hard and they've been around for so long and because we have a bookwe're trying to sell them (yet, they don't seem to want to buy it ... okay okay, we can handle that!). 
Right you had a question. The short answers to your questions are: (1) copyright law protects the portions of your patterns that are original to you (though pattern protection can be iffy); (2) you may not have much claim to copyright  if your designs are derived from the patterns published in 1962; (3) the author of the 1962 patterns could claim rights to your derivative patterns but only if those 1962 patterns were registered and renewed (unlikely); (4) you own the copyright in photos you take so you can chase people who copy without your permission (although you'll need to register with the Copyright Office if you file a lawsuit); (5) the parents of the kids you gifted can come after you if you use the photos to sell the patterns (under a theory known as "right of publicity")  unless you got authorization from them.
A little confused dept. We're not exactly sure what happened between you and the people you "gifted" but it sounds like everybody involved in the gift giving process now regrets it. That's so sad. We believe, like this writer, that gift-giving is actually a form of "taking" but in your case, we feel like there is a little bit of overtaking. Maybe one reason our crafts book doesn't sell so well is that many crafts people recognize that what matters for commercial success is not a proprietary attitude but quality and craftsmanship; these skills will always transcend the underlying patterns.

Using Band Member Photos in a Documentary

Dear Rich: I am currently making a documentary (in post-production) and there are references to some singers in bands. I would like to show images and/or video (5-10 seconds) of these people, is this allowed? The people in question include Denny Yost of the group Classics IV, Tommy James of the group Tommy James and the Shondells, as well as Dick Clark and the show American Bandstand. Also the person the documentary is about had a band in the 60's and they made some records and played with the likes of the above mentioned, so the other three guys in the band are not in the documentary but I'm showing band pictures from back then and those guys are seen as well as mentioned and talked about (not in a bad way). Is this allowed too?
Wow, we love/loved Tommy James. So many great songs to choose from and what a weird career -- his first hit, Hanky Panky, was a success a year after his band broke up (and was one of rock's oddest bootleg hits.) Now, we're wasting too much time watching their greatest hits -- I Think We're Alone Now (and remember the TIffany cover?),  Crimson and Clover (remember the Joan Jett cover), and Crystal Blue Persuasion.  
RIght you had a question. The short answers to your questions are: (1) Yes, assuming you have copyright permission to reproduce the photos or film clips, you're not violating Denny's, Tommy's, or Dick's right of publicity; and (2) showing pictures and talking about band members in a documentary won't violate anyone's rights either ... unless of course, someone says something defamatory (untrue and damaging) orinvades someone's privacy (unlikely for rock and rollers). We'd give you the long answers to these questions but we're too busy listening to samples from the Tommy James autobiography

Toby in a swing

Last weekend, Toby went on a swing for the first time! He was pretty nonchalant, but Alex and I were totally into it. So sweet to see his little leg warmers sticking out; and the swing was almost as big as he was. We also thought he looked hilarious in Alex's glasses, although when we got home, I suddenly realized that we had inadvertently made him look just like the kid from The Hangover. :)

Why Not...

...wrap yourself up in soft, sumptuous shearling?


Emersonmade's clothes keep getting better and better. And she's making shoes now, too. P.S. The striped sleeves sticking out of the trench coat are so cute!

Paris versus New York

What an awesome series by graphic designer Vahram Muratyan. He calls it a "friendly visual match between those two cities." (I love the tipping one!)

(Via Smallest Things)

Eight Feet Deep - Eight Feet Deep

Eight Feet Deep - Eight Feet Deep
2010, Eight Feet Deep

Eight Feet Deep represents the musical collaboration of Billy “Pills” Fridrich and Mike DiMeo.  Fridrich, a veteran of New York area bands Celestial, HeavySurf and No Excuses, plays rhythm, lead and bass guitars as well programming the drum tracks and writing lyrics.  Mike DiMeo, former lead singer of the bands Riot and Masterplan has gained a reputation as one of the most accomplished and soulful vocals in heavy rock.  Earlier this year Fridrich and DiMeo released their debut EP together, also entitled Eight Feet Deep. 

Eight Feet Deep opens with “Leader”, a riff-filled blend of hair metal and classic rock.  Fridrich’s shows off strong guitar work in a somewhat abstract take on the concept that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.  The song is a bit referential lyrically without providing the perspective that illuminates meaning.  “Throw Down” has an almost stream-of-consciousness feel to the lyrics.  It’s a driven, enjoyable rocker that falls into the same trap as “Leader”.  “No Regrets” is about growing up and gaining perspective on experiences, judging the whole by the outcome of the moment.   Eight Feet Deep closes with “My Friend”, a plodding and top-heavy song that never manages to take flight.

 Across the first three songs on Eight Feet Deep the duo of Fridrich and DiMeo show themselves quite capable of writing rocking tunes that blend the best of 1980’s hair metal and classic rock in highly consumable rock n roll.  Fridrich never rests with a guitar in his hand, creating musical mayhem seemingly at will, and DiMeo’s reputation as a singer is well-earned.  His voice is a bit reminiscent of Klaus Meine (minus the accent), and he can go from a whisper to a scream in a heartbeat, covering all of the vocal ground in between.  There is a classic feel to the first three songs on Eight Feet Deep that simply can’t be ignored.  They are so well done that they make the final track bearable.  Eight Feet Deep are proving that rock n roll isn’t dead.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Eight Feet Deep at or  Eight Feet Deep is available as a digital EP from Eight Feet Deep and iTunes.

Almost Famous

Is that...? No, it can't be...

Photos of Chloe... photos of Chloe published in a BOOK!

Yes, my little pumpkin has taken her first step towards stardom, haha! All courtesy of this ol' blog. You see, I wrote this post and this post about our adventures with Baby Led Weaning and the UK author of the book contacted me. She liked my photos and wanted to know if I'd be interested in submitting photos for use in the new Baby Led Weaning cookbook they were putting together. Would I?? Umm, YES please! And that's how my daughter got published :)
Her photo is the first one in the book, right before the Contents, and the biggest in the book! I think she's pretty cute with her 7-month old chubby fingers & cowlick (though I may be biased!).

I can't say enough about BLW. It has been an easy and fascinating food journey for us over the last twelve months. From six months on, Chloe was able to feed herself solid foods. Because she was doing the feeding, and not us, her dexterity came early and quickly, she learned to judge portion sizes (and would push out any excess with her tongue), and we had no choking episodes at all. And now at 18 months, Chloe is an adventurous eater (her faves are sushi, anything with tomato sauce, and sweet potato). She is now transitioning to cutlery and is getting very good at using her fork and spoon at the same time.

If you'd like to know more about Baby-led Weaning, you can get the book here or pre-order the US version of the cookbook here. Now, quick, somebody get this kid an agent!*

* just joking. I have no desires to be a stage mom!



File:Bethlehem Wall Graffiti 1.jpg

Graffiti by Banksy, Bethlehem: photo by Pawel Ryszawa, 2008

File:The Cat.jpg

Stencil by Banksy, City Road, London: photo by LoopZilla, 2005


Stencil by Banksy at waterline on social entertainment boat Thekla, central Bristol, England: photo by Adrian Pingstone, 2005

File:Bullfighting advertisement Graffited Leganes 2005-08-12.jpg

Anti-bullfighting inscriptions on bullfight advertisement, Leganés, Spain: photo by Juan Garcia, 2005


Street art, Barcelona: photo by Mujinga, 2004

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Urban decay: Falsas Promesas/Broken Promises; Charlotte Street stencils by John Fekner, South Bronx, New York: photo by John Fekner, 1980


Stencil by John Fekner, New York: photo by John Fekner, 2007


Toxic by John Fekner, Long Island Expressway, Queens, New York: photo by John Fekner, 2007

File:Graffiti politique de Pompei.jpg

Ancient Pompeii satiric graffito caricaturing a politician, found in the atrium of the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii
: photo by Vincent Ramos, 2004

Catalog Number: HPC-000158
The Juan de Onate Inscription at El Morro National Monumemt, New Mexico, dated 1605. It is the oldest historical inscription at El Morro. (Shows vandalism to the inscription almost from the day it was inscribed). Inscription text: "paso por aq[u]i el adelantado don ju/an oñate del descubrimiento de la/ mar del sur/ a 16 de Abril del 1605". At left: "Casados/1727" and "J[ose?]parelo". At right: "P. Joseph de la Candelaria". Photo by George M. Grant, 1934 (National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection)

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Second century pagan graffito preserved at Palatine Hill museum, Rome, depicting a man worshiping a crucified donkey. Inscription text: ΑΛΕΞΑΜΕΝΟΣ (ΑΛΕΞΑΜΕΝΟC) ("Alexamenos respects God")
: image by Tablar, 2005

File:Banksy graffiti removal.jpg

Graffiti depicting graffiti removal by Banksy, created in May 2008 at Leake Street, London, painted over by August 2008: image by Victor Falk, 2010