Monthly Archives: April 2014

That Sunday Barrel’s 2014 NHL Playoffs Predictions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’s snow on the ground, the air is chilly, and some exciting hockey is ready to be played. Why yes it’s… [checks calendar] mid-April, and the NHL Playoffs are finally here!

Even for the first round, there are some really exciting match ups going on: San Jose vs. LA, Boston vs. Wings, and Rangers vs. Flyers. There are also some interesting questions waiting to be answered, like: Will this finally be the year the Blues hoist the Cup? Will this finally be there year San Jose doesn’t choke (spoiler alert: it won’t)? Will Columbus win a playoff game for the first time in franchise history? Who will have the best playoff beard? Will Canada win a Gold Medal AND a Stanley Cup all in the same year (those friendly bastards will be relentless if Montreal wins)? And… can anybody beat Boston?

Like Vince Gilligan, the NHL Playoffs always provide the answers, but it’s more fun to predict the answers yourself isn’t it? Below are my picks for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coming from a biased (but reasonable) Rangers fan:

Round 1

Ducks over Dallas in six

LA over San Jose in six

Avalanche over Wild in five

Chicago over Blues in seven

 

Boston over Wings in five

Montreal over Tampa in six

Penguins over Columbus in seven

Rangers over Flyers in seven

 

Round 2

LA over Ducks in seven

Chicago over Avs in six

 

Boston over Montreal in six

Rangers over Pittsburgh in six

 

Round 3

LA over Chicago in seven

Boston over Rangers in seven

 

Stanley Cup Final

Boston over LA in six

 

Notes from the Rangers fan in me:

I think the Rangers are actually in a good position for a long playoff run. Obviously, with Henrik Lundqvist in net, they’ll have an advantage over anyone they play. Despite a really poor start to the season, the King has been lights out since January, and he looks more than ready for the playoffs. This year’s breakout line of Zuccarello-Pouliot-Brassard, as well as the emergence of a strong/reliable fourth line, will be the difference makers this year. The Rangers will also need to cash in on the Power Play more often than not, as that’s always been their Achilles Heel in the Spring. And if the Rangers’ big name forwards Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis actually play like the stars they are, New York’s chances are pretty good. While I believe it’s Boston’s Cup to lose this year, this New York Rangers team can beat anyone in the East, as long as they use their speed and play smart defense.

 

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Foxy Shazam Goes Gonzo

by Jeff Yerger

Foxy Shazam is about as unpredictable as they come. I lost sight of this for a while there. I was assuming their new album, GONZO, would follow the path of theatrical glam pop-rock its predecessors exceeded in. I was hoping this album would be their biggest and catchiest yet, but Foxy Shazam is anything but predictable.

I can honestly say that I never saw GONZO coming, because really, I never would’ve thought this band had it in them. This is a statement record, one few bands dare to make. They followed up a heavily produced glam rock record produced by Justin Hawkins of The Darkness (The Church of Rock and Roll) with a raw piece of angry indie rock produced by the master of angry indie rock, Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey). On GONZO, Foxy Shazam have ditched their theatrics for minimalism, and are quite literally having their In Utero moment.

Recorded all in one day on Halloween this past year, GONZO is about as authentic and stripped as they come. “[The album] was written in a room, recorded in a room, all together,” singer Eric Nally states in the album’s press release. “It was a shared experience, and an easier process, and things really started to come out. It was a very organic experience, and it shows. And I can read [GONZO] like a book, like a cohesive piece of art. It’s by far the most personal album to me.”

GONZO is in fact a very dark record. It follows a loose story line about a man (or Muppet?) struggling with fame and being away from his family (something which Nally has been no stranger to singing about in the past). For a band known in the past for not taking themselves too seriously, lines like “A picture of me with a smile that I’m not faking / I wish things were the way they are when the picture was taken” in the excellent “Shoebox,” hit pretty hard. Nally sounds hurt, tired, and frustrated (“I got no cash flow man I’m working… It’s a tragic thrill. I’m finding out who I was, who I really am”). His voice is shredded and strained to the limit, like a man on his last leg, especially as he wails, “I’m not afraid to die ‘cause I’m already dead,” on “Have the Fun.” While teenage angst may have paid off well for Kurt Cobain, Eric Nally just feels bored and old.

A friend of mine pointed out that GONZO kinda sounds like an unfinished demo. While it’s slightly more professional than that, he does have a point. Even for an Albini production, GONZO sounds REALLY sparse. As is typical with Albini, each instrument is mic’d far away and indirectly, making the room itself an instrument. You can hear the sound from each instrument reverberate off every corner and crevice, and because of the polished Foxy records we’ve come to know and love in the past, this album sounds extra bare. There are no overdubbed vocals and no double-tracked or layered guitars. Everything is exposed.

Bassist Daisy Caplan said in a recent Reddit AMA that all the songs on GONZO were recorded in consecutive order with everyone in one room, and with the same set up for each song. “There are less than five overdubs on the whole record, no overdubbed vocal harmonies, and about 1/3 of the songs are actually first takes,” writes Caplan. He also mentioned that the vocals, which usually require a separate booth for recording to reduce sound bleeding, were recorded live in the room with the guitar amps and drums. “Even Steve Albini thought we were crazy.” The result is a jarring change in sound for Foxy, but the energy and spontaneity of this record is undeniable and at times, downright beautiful. For instance, there’s a moment on “In This Life” after the second chorus where the guitar and piano build upon this riff they’ve been hinting at the whole song into an understated crescendo. It’s typical Foxy grandioso, but in a different way.

GONZO is going to piss a lot of Foxy Shazam fans off. That’s just a fact of life with a record like this, but I think at the same time, this record is going to earn them tons of respect. I don’t think GONZO their best record (that would be their last one), but I do think this is their most cohesive and honest effort to date. This is a scathing record; a therapeutic primal scream from a band that could no longer laugh away the hurt. I think this is something that they needed to get off their chest, and the fact that they recorded this all in one day shows that they wanted to get these demons out and not dwell on any of it. As I mentioned before, not a lot of bands have the balls to do something like this, so you have to give credit where credit is due. With GONZO, Foxy Shazam have taken a big step in their journey. Which direction this step is in I haven’t a clue, but I’m not even going to try to predict.

Stream and download the album for FREE at foxyshazam.com.