Category Archives: Beards

Black Beard

blackcover

Source: Children’s Stories for Grown Ups

 

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Van Go Pirates

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The Iceland Worm Monster

This is a video:

of an Icelandic Worm Monster attempting to burst through a thin layer of ice to destroy and eat the arms of an Icelandic, amateur photographer. Who probably looks like this:

Lake Lagarfljót has been the lurking grounds for the giant serpent for centuries. According to legends that sweatered vikings with long, crunchy beards, once drunkingly told around indoor campfires, the beast was once a worm. Hundreds of years ago, a young girl put a ring around a cursed worm and it grew into the aforementioned creature.

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Die with your Beard on

As a method actor, Daniel Day-Lewis has been in character since March. That character he has become is Abraham Lincoln, for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming biopic Lincoln. This is a picture that was taken of him eating lunch.

Oil Barons vs Vampires

 

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A modern gentleman’s guide to 13 Top Ten winter anthems

13. AFI – A Winter’s Tale

AFI had that weird synth-goth record about December and voluntary manslaughter, but thankfully they recorded this tasty snowball prior to Miss Murder. The tale remained a little truer to their frozen roots in the winter wonderland of Southern California. A chilling silence! A string of white lights!

12. Bright Eyes – If Winter Ends

I like how this begins sounding like an old wooden metal song. Accurately sums up the dog days of winter, when a beard gets itchy from the mild temperature,  yet the persisting white desert still makes everything a blinding shade of green, when you go back inside. The stabbing, noisy feedback backs O-Bursts despair, who sings about drinking to stay warm and driving his car off a cliff.

11. Jeff Rowe – New Winter, New England

Jeffrey Rowe broke his teeth on the gritty fishing seaport town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. This folk shanty feels like dredging a shovel into a snow mound and hurling the unbearable weight over your shoulder. He waits til the chorus to crush piano keys, as his mouth tastes like blood again and words ricochet off cement. Rowe sounds a lot angrier on this release, a stark contrast to the upbeat tidings of Barstool Conversations.

10. Old Man Gloom – Gift

Hibernate in a mist of stark green pine. Ever so slightly distorted acoustic notes ring ominously with cathedral sized chants and filthy stoner gloom. Feels like being trapped in a cabin with a fever of a hundred and two, during avalanche low tide. With a cup of hot cocoa.

9. Caspian – Our Breath in Winter

The white noise of a billion snowflakes hitting the ground at once, while plow trucks grind iron gears far off in the distance. The guitar fretting hand just kind of slides around, without being able to grip the asphalt’s slope. No explosions here, unless you count your breath oxidizing in the air an explosion. There is one word in the English lexicon to explain Caspian’s contemplation on winter and that word is “quivering.”

8.  Glasvegas – Please Come Back Home

This seems like a Caspian song, if Sammy Davis Jr. drank too much (egg nog mixed with a pinch of Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum) and provided the singing, in a thick Scottish accent. Glasvegas kind of bummed everyone out with their Brian De Palma movie soundtrack-like full length, but it’s a good thing they released a Christmas themed EP entitled A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss). Please Come Back Home rolls new wavy drums under a constant crescendo of blue Christmases.

7. Foo Fighters – February Stars

This is that type of scarf jam that you’d pray was playing in the background of some intrinsic moment in your life. The conclusions of a 90’s winter, and the sweet fibers of a flannel armor that may indeed protect you from a Valentine’s wind chill. It won’t protect you from a wall of buzzing alt. rock guitar and symbols that do anything but chill.

6. Mono – Ashes in the Snow

Instrumental, post-rock soundscapes and vast snow dunes go together mitten and mitten. But Mono’s track off Hymn to the Immortal Wind isn’t some vast soundscape. It’s much more personal. Ashes in the Snow appeals to some frosty corner of the heart, rather than your intellect. In hypothermia, an individual will usually experience a flooding feeling of warmth right before they freeze to death.

5. Hot Water Music – I Was On A Mountain

Kind of like making a descent down Everest, on a toboggan, while being pursued by a vengeful Yeti. Riding shotgun is celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, who was rescued from the monster’s cave lair. The sled goes over a peak and soars into the thin mountain air. In that moment you can hear the melody of Silent Night, buried in the chorus. And then the landslide brings it down.

4. Bon Iver – Blood Bank

Something precious, but forgotten, hidden beneath a layer of freezing rain. Followed by three feet of damp snow and a surface of sleet. He wrote this about being stuck out in a car with the ladies, then retreated to the cabin when things migrated south. But they’ll always have this and Christmas morning. Load it  into your stove and smell the sweet, oak notes.

3. The Lawrence Arms –100 Resolutions

Enjoying a pint of lager while glass snowflakes break on the bar’s outer window sill, is better than a 12 hour old crock pot of beef stew. New Years Eve not only presents the opportunity to get pants shittingly drunk, but is a chance for reprieve. You know the narrator will not fulfill his resolutions, but the holiday still offers a glimpse of hope, like the glimpse of an aero-sleigh-plane in the overwhelmingly clear night sky. For Auld Lang Syne.

2. The Sword – Winter’s Wolves

This tune is essentially an instructional essay on how to lace your boots and put them up a wolf’s ass. The first 54 seconds exudes hot 70’s sludge, meditating on rhythm and the gift of might. Sword blades hurt more against cold skin, until you feel the brunt of axes and entire cities being laid to waste. Take a gander at how The Sword structures instrumental metal with sparingly used vocals and the call of those gray dogs of the winter tide.

1. The Pogues – Fairytale of New York

That piano is so fuckin uplifting. It’s enough to lift your spirit right out of the confines of a prison cell, Marley’s chains and all. The Pogues relay a yarn about a time when whiskey tasted terrible but it warmed you up. A boy and a girl in a city with hopes n’ dreams told in classic duet form, like a latter day Empire State of Mind. Instead of Jay Z, there’s traditional Irish folk instruments bouncing off the walls of a sheltering pub.

Outside, there’s a couple who just met, stuck out in a car chewing on a candy bar. Wolves are circling and snarling, and a drunk guy has gloved hands shoved in his coat pockets, just trying to keep from slipping on the ice. Ashes from cigarettes disappear in the old snow, while fresh powder drifts down from the peaks of Yeti riddled mountains. The stars are temporary scars, and will dissipate like the resolutions of a hundred people in the city below.

Glimpses of the past year are seen in a side view mirror, while the car slides off a ledge, anti-lock breaks pounding against your boots.

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Archaeologists unearth Viking boat burial in Scottish Highlands

From CNN:

 

British archaeologists have discovered the 1,000-year-old boat burial of a Viking warrior in the Scottish Highlands.

The man was laid to rest inside his boat, surrounded by valuable items including an ornately-decorated sword, a shield, a spear and an ax — all of which suggest he was of high status.

Experts say the find — the first fully intact grave of its kind on the UK mainland — may be part of one of the country’s most significant Viking sites.

“A Viking boat burial is an incredible discovery,” said project co-director and archaeologist Dr Hannah Cobb, from the University of Manchester.

“But in addition to that, the artifacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain.”

Archaeologists from several universities have spent the past six years carrying out digs at a number sites on the remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula, on Scotland’s west coast.

They are aiming to trace the whole history of the area, from the first traces of human habitation 6,000 years ago to the present.

Previous excavations nearby have uncovered a Neolithic tomb, a Bronze Age monument, and a 19th century site linked to the Highland Clearances.

But Dr Oliver Harris of the University of Leicester, one of the project’s leaders, said the boat burial was “the best of the bunch.”

“It’s absolutely fantastic — the find of a lifetime,” he told CNN. “It is very rich, very old, the sort of thing I dreamed of excavating as a boy.”

Other grave goods found with the Viking included a knife, flints, a bronze ring pin from Ireland, a whetstone from Norway, and items of pottery from the Hebrides.

The team also excavated hundreds of metal rivets, which would have held together the Viking’s boat — the wood of which had rotted away over the centuries.

Harris said the objects gave tantalizing clues to the identity of the man buried at Ardnamurchan.

“Of course, we will never know his name, or anything like that, but we can tell he was an important figure, a man of very high status, and somebody with international connections, links to lots of different places, but also to the local area,” he said.

The archaeologist said he and the rest of the team planned to return to the site again next summer to carry out further investigations.

“This was just one burial, but it is part of a much larger story,” he said. “There are many more questions to answer. We want to find out if there are others, or if people were living in settlements nearby, so we will be back there next year.”

 

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A modern gentleman’s guide to 13 Top Ten fall anthems

13. Son of Sam – Michael

Could that sound of a leaf being crunched under foot be a masked man with a kitchen knife? Is something admiring the fuzzy light of your pumpkin pie candle from the street outside? Michael Myers, suburbia’s greatest threat is immortalized in gloomy fuzzed out bass and Davey Havok’s eerie croon. Needs more ominous piano though.

12. Pelican – Autumn into Summer

No shave November officially kicks off with this stubble stretcher. It is the soundtrack to a single leaf emancipating itself from the highest branch of a wise Oak tree. The ides of a once green summer are etched into its chloroplast veins. They tell a fleeting story as it slowly drifts and dances towards a brilliantly colored ocean of humus.

11. Calabrese – Zombie I

Punkin’ roll that sounds like it’s in black and white. Lyrics that repercuss the ramblings of undead greasers who can only harmonize their howls and chase the ladies into haunted houses.

10. Tiger Army – Annabel Lee

A perfect marriage of Edgar Allen Poe and the upright bass. A blazing rockabilly hayride into the sepulcher (noun.  tomb –  grave – shrine) of the heart.

9. Protest the Hero  – Bone Marrow

The greatest math metal song about Thanksgiving and football ever. Paints the greasy portrait of a royal match between warriors after a grand feast. Save room for pumpkin pie.

8. Tim Barry – This November

Having a fucked up day, week, or even year has never sounded so uplifting. Sometimes it takes a colder, contemplative season, a seat by the riverside and a long turn on a freight train to feel something again.

7. Strung Out – Vampires

Hey this pumpkin spice latte tastes like blood! This weird blend of melodramatic metal and punk rock is made sinisterly convincing by the textured guitar tone and anthemic chorus. A wretched curse that lives and dies at the splinter of a stake is the perfect preamble to the holiday shopping season.

6. Murder By Death – The Moon is Up

A simple sonnet that makes even the bristliest of beards thankful for that special lady. After all, love is always more tangible under a wine red moon that beckons the reaping of apples, gourds and asparagus. When Adam Turla whistles, it is the most soothing fucking thing on the planet.

5. Geto Boys – My Minds Playing Tricks on Me

A corn-huskerfuck of tense rhymes, funky guitar licks and a morbidly obese beat. Bushwick Bill’s conflict with a tall ghost will frighten your mustache and make it zoom back up your nose.

4. The Hold Steady – One for the Cutters

The almost endless echo of the drums and Gibsons. The harpsichord. God damn that harpsichord sounds like its being played by the Count, himself.  The angry, almost dissonant piano keys. It tells the story of a wealthy college student who falls for a middle class townie, in classic Romeo and Juliet fashion, except the boy ends up dead and the girl gets entangled in a murder investigation. It’s all set against the backdrop of late night quarry parties, scary new drugs, townie bars, and police stations. One zany Fall semester.

3. Lucero – Here at the Starlite

The most sustained Lucero track of all time, clocking in at almost eight minutes. These modern day Memphis legends capture a specific shade of light. It’s a neon light only beheld from a lonely vinyl diner booth, at 2 AM on a November night. The jukebox doesn’t know it’s the graveyard shift/It shakes, rattles and rolls. This kind of light must feel gut wrenching to bask in.

2. The Misfits – Halloween

The tinny guitar ring outs that build into the spiteful hymn of Glenn Danzig can only mean one thing. That October 31st is right around a dark corner. All you want to do is toss jack-o-lanterns into raging bonfires, before the nightmare crashes into a hollow nothingness. This day anything goes. Additionally, bonfires are awesome because they’re the best incarnation of the color orange.

1. The Creepshow – The Garden

This country western influenced ballad perfectly captures the perfume of dry leaves in a hot sun, swirling around with the smell of extinguished bonfire embers. One final chance for salvation before a blanket of snow covers your aspirations. Harmonica that warms your heart like an L.L Bean sweater.

There you have it. Any of these tunes heard near a golden Oktoberfest will most definitely take away those leaf raking blues. And California Dreamin‘ doesn’t count because its about winter.

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Mastodon ‘The Hunter’ Review


The white whale is back. Back from battling the devil with Rasputin in outer space. The Hunter is the latest gift from Georgia’s greatest sludge metal quartet,  a decade after their debut release.

Black Tongue sets the tone and is shockingly devoid of any lengthy instrumental introduction. Just some menacing guitar tone, jazzy cymbals and the phrase: I burned out my eyes/I cut off my tongue/I sealed them with all of the silver/And now I have none. It is as if Mastodon has relinquished their senses, free to drift wherever they may please. Curl of the Burl is a composite of sleazy riffs and a vocal hook about the contorting knots of tree bark. If a film is ever made about Jesus’ carpentry career, Curl of the Burl would play in its entirety during the obligatory montage scene.

Blasteroid is an arcade born bonfire of blistering harmonics, Leviathan style screaming and…melodic punk. Stargasm is definitive Mastodon territory, with its trippy southern metal groove solidified further by Brann Dailor’s furiously technical drum storm. Dry Bone Valley commences with Russian Circles-esque post-rock, but quickly cuts into post-prog with Dailor at the vocal helm. Thickening follows, with its old west saloon bass line and compression laden axes that spiral upwards in an involute curve.

Many risks are taken and almost all of them are triumphant successes. Creature Lives is unlike anything a single band in this genre has ever taken on. Think of an oil tanker shipwreck surfacing from the depths of a frozen bog, while giant brass Christmas bells sway over flickering red n’ green lights. Bedazzled Fingernails is exceptional, with its neon banjo fury and delirious time signatures. There is no shortage of traditional Mastodon. All The Heavy Lifting is as heavy as it is catchy. Spectrelight’s attack is quick n’ sludgy instead of atmospheric; reminiscent of Crystal Skull or I am Ahab. The Sparrow and The Hunter slow it down, allowing for some majestically psychedelic guitar work. The Sparrow has Mastodon at their most Pink Floydian. Acoustic guitar strings, pedal boards and prolonged drum build ups are really all a man needs to survive.

Though there isn’t a certified elemental concept, the presence of wood seems to resonate throughout The Hunter. The accompanying album art is audacious and to the point; a bull mask with echoed features that AJ Fosik crafted from wood. The process seems to be linear between both artists. Mastodon has managed to carve something astounding out of raw materials and with their bare hands, yet again.

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Chuck Ragan ‘Covering Ground’ Review

When listening to the hot n’ bothered melodic hardcore make of Hot Water Music, it’s difficult to put co-front man Chuck Ragan’s solo work into perspective. Amongst the “aging punk singer with an acoustic guitar” genre, Chuck’s solo endeavor probably has the firmest roots in true bare bones folk. Prior albums like Gold Country and Los Feliz are a far cry from HWM’s frantic guitar work and emotive vocals, but Covering Ground comes closest to Ragan’s flagship band. Instead of ten tunes relying solely on his trusty acoustic, each track has its own exclusive brew of instruments and guest musicians. Solo artist doesn’t quite fit the bill anymore, as fiddle blazer Jon Gaunt and stand up bassist Joe Ginsberg have become Chuck’s bona fide touring and recording band.

There is a noticeably more at east approach with Covering Ground, despite the ever present woes of both restlessness and contentment faced east of California. Many of these woes are love songs, either about a distant lady or a fickle mistress called the road. Valentine is given new treatment with the vocal touch of Audra Mae, backed by a serenade of plucked strings on a river bound gondola. Audra appears again on Come Around, which is a surprisingly uplifting and lighthearted jamboree. Meet You In the Middle has the same forward fierceness of California Burritos, with Brian Fallon paving a gravel road in the background.

Chuck Ragan’s voice has aged like bourbon in a barrel. It’s worn velvet, heavy and sympathetic. The man could literally sing the polish off a buffalo’s horn. Covering Ground has a good deal of slow jams, and there is considerably more reverb than listeners may be accustomed to, but Ragan’s capacity for melody remains eloquent. Nomad By Fate blends a soaring chorus with a defiant road warrior bridge. Wish On The Moon has a similar feel, with an unexpected transition to Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. It also has the best driving fiddle riff I’ve heard in years.

All directions finally lead to solace and the realization that there “ain’t no wasted time covering our own ground.” But the album doesn’t end with settling down or giving up. Over a dreary lullaby of finger picked strings, Chuck still sounds like he’s prepared to pack up his bags again and traverse new landscapes.

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The Stokasaurus

Bison B.C. – Stokasaurus

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