Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NCAA Conference Tournament Viewing: Why You Should Root for the Favorites

For many of you, this will be the first time you have watched college hoops since last year.  For others, sadly, that time has not yet arisen.

So here is my advice for you all:  as you watch these smaller Tournaments, root for the favorite.  Every favorite.

This goes against the grain of the natural instinct we all have as fans:  seeing the Cinderella story, the impossible dream, the buzzer beater that gets the ugly kid into the big dance.  But the fact is that if every regular season conference champion won their tournament, the four play-in games would all feature 20+win teams (as opposed to the 20 LOSS Liberty team that has already qualified this year), and the back-end of the field would be much, much deeper.  And we’d still consider them Cinderellas, as who would expect a team from the Atlantic Sun or Big South to do anything anyways?

To me, this is the logical path towards a 16 beating a 1:  when a senior-laden squad from some tiny school that would typically be a 15 or 14 seed gets shoved back to 16, because the upsets by lower ranked teams in conference tourneys don’t happen.

My final point:  we don’t remember the thrilling conference tourney buzzer-beaters from years.  We do remember Tournament buzzer-beaters.

There are some exceptions, obviously.  Seeing chaos in the larger tournaments is a lot of fun, especially as upsets of the bigger teams does not take them out of a bid.  And if you have a rooting interest in a smaller school; self-interest wins out, obviously.

But in all other cases:  in one-bid leagues, hope the better seed wins.  It’ll make the real Tourney that much better, and Cinderella will still be attending in any case.  She'll just be tougher to get into the carriage at the end of the night.

- Snilch

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Mötley Crüe - Too Fast for Love (1981, re-issued in 1999)

When That Metal Show did their "Top 5 Debut Albums" list, they listed some very respected bands: Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Guns 'N Roses, and Metallica. The fact that Mötley Crüe not only made the list, but were slotted at number three ahead of GNR (which my brain immediately processed as "HERESY!") as "the best Mötley Crüe album" meant that I had to take a listen.

In fairness, I only own two Crüe albums:  Shout at the Devil and Saints of Los Angeles.  And that was all I ever really needed, to be completely honest.

I've gone back and forth on this one.  An initial headphones listen had me loving this album, but subsequent listens have wavered dramatically.  There's definitely something here as a "straight rock album," but it seems to be lacking a great single or the sophistication to be really at that next level.  And yet I waver even on that.  There's something going on here.

In many ways, this is the most un-Crüe effort of their career:  it's more classic Sunset Strip, almost like early Ratt with Vince Neil on vocals. (To that point, Ratt may have ripped off the riff for "Come on and Dance" for "Lack of Communication" to boot.  Of course, on "Too Fast for Love" and "Toast of the Town" the Crüe ripped off the Sex Pistols.  Sharing is caring, people.)  Side note:  it's shocking how reserved Tommy Lee's playing is, as he would develop to one of the greatest drummers ever but you would never know here.  

Also, there is a surprising amount of cowbell.  As in "an alarming amount of cowbell."

Having heard the non-remastered YouTube videos compared to the cleaned up production, I'd say that this is one remaster you need if you want to continue listening to it.  The original video sound is just wretched.

Now it's time for our newest segment, 5 Questions with The Snilch.  (Editor's note:  This would be the lazy man's way of ending this review.)

  1. Is it better than Appetite for Destruction or Van Halen I?  In a word... no.
  2. Do you have a reason why That Metal Show would rank the album so highly?  I'd say that it's probably like The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade -- if you got that album when it came out, there's a "time and place" element that blew you away at the time, as it was a revolutionary statement in the moment.  But ultimately Rubber Soul or New Day Rising might have more legs to stand on its own as a musical piece as time goes on. 
  3. So in other words, you don't know.  That's not even a question, jackass.
  4. No need to get cross with me... Is it their best album?  Well, from front to back it is the most consistently good album they ever put together... but, before you get started with me, yes, I'm ducking the question.  How about this:  is it the first Crüe album I will reach for when I go back to listen to them in two months?   Probably not.  It'll be vying with Saints of Los Angeles for second behind Shout at the Devil.  And that probably says it all.
  5. Wait... did you just ask yourself the fifth question as part of your response?  What is wrong with you?  Do you not even get the basic concept here?  First of all, you asked three questions right there.  Second, question #3 was not even a question.  Third, I appear to be arguing with myself, which seems odd.  I don't get a lot of sleep.
CD Placement Rating:  Portable CD Case.

Compilation/Reissue Ripoff Index:  Non-existent.  If you like this album, you need the remaster for the 175% improvement in audio quality.

- Snilch

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Vintage Trouble at TT the Bears - March 5, 2013

While I struggle with my next blog post, Denis and I hit the Cambridge, MA scene last night, with one goal in mind -- to prove we were not THAT old.  (Spoiler alert:  it turns out we are.)

But thanks to Alan's recommendation, we were lucky enough to get into the sold-out show for Vintage Trouble.  The scene was set outside TT the Bears with the custom Vintage Trouble tour bus, sponsored by... Supercuts.  (Pictured here -- if I get a photo from Denis with the Supercuts logo I will post it here.)  If you see these guys, you will realize how ironic that is.

Opener Leogun got one of the best receptions for an opening band you will ever see in Boston.  And they deserved it.  A great compliment as an opener on this bill, their mid-tempo combo of rock and pure enthusiasm made their jam-band feel from a three-piece really work.  Definitely worth seeing again; I will have to keep an eye on them.

Vintage Trouble's set was an old-time revival meeting celebrating rock and r&b.  I've never quite heard the guitar tonality they were producing in that acoustically challenged room at TT's -- it was awesome.  Slow songs had energy, quicker songs had fury.  A great group of musicians, with a absolute showman of a lead singer who managed to get Cambridge fans to interact with the band.  On a TUESDAY.  (If you've ever seen a show in Boston, you'll know how rare this is on a weekend.)

Fantastic energy, fantastic playing, great songs that never seemed to end (partially because they would "stop" for applause, then get the audience to sing along to the chorus  and go back into the song again), and just a fun show.  It would have been great to see the encores... but it was a Tuesday, and we were old.

Merch rating:  I bought their CD (and should have bought Leogun's too).  I will definitely watch them next time, although by that point they will at least be at the Paradise, perhaps even the House of Blues.  I would have bought a t-shirt as well if I didn't leave; next album is bought without waiting to hear how good it is.

- Snilch

P.S. If you want to get a taste of what these guys are like, check out their appearance on David Letterman (below) earlier this year.