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The Remnants of Uncertainty...
A Taste of the Past
07/14/09 at 02:32 AM by cassusriff
I'm not very old, but I was immersed in the 'glory' days of the scene. I had a band in middle school called "Heroes With Helmets" and we rocked our little hearts out playing punk rawk music. I remember going to see MxPx, The Ataris, Further Seems Forever, Good Charlotte before they got big, Blink-182, The Drive-Thru bands... the list goes on.

The highlight of my life as a musician was when we played an event sponsored by my school and got to open for Locale Am. Many people on this site would recognize that the singer in Facing New York was in this band too. They were the class of the East Bay local pop-punk scene. Their first "hit" song was a scrappy pop-punk song about the bearclaw, where they played their first show. My god those were good times. Playing that show, even as the second band in a six band set, was the coolest thing I ever got to do in music.

Anyway, they came up randomly on itunes and I did a quick search for them online and found this video. Enjoy the brilliance and simplicity of the good times.

Tags: Locale Am, past, music, nostalgia, facing new york, east bay, pop punk, memories
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14 Hours
03/25/09 at 12:30 AM by cassusriff
Same old story, but I'll put up a photo blog and vlog of the trip soon. I haven't fully recovered yet, drove 14 hours to get home as those of you who read my twitter know. Since then I've gone straight back to work and taken my midterms. Still have to finish my personal statement for the business school by next week. Also have to prepare for the move to the house. That will be in about a month. I'm really excited for it actually. This summer isn't going to be fun cause my girlfriend will be gone for most of it, but it will be much better when I'm living with my friends and hopefully working on the musical.

So I'm nearing the end of a really stressful month... ah hell no I'm not. There's always something. But I made a to-do list a few weeks ago and everything is just about done. I'll be pretty relieved with the applications are all done. Once the move is done I'll feel pretty good as well. Then after that the semester is going to end and I'll only have to worry about the college decisions and putting together the musical. The musical will be stressful too, but it should be a lot of fun if it goes right. Speaking of which, I have to put together that proposal in the next week. Guess my saturday is going to be pretty busy.

Anyway, saw the Twlight movie with my gf... it wasn't very good but it wasn't too terrible. I'd love to read the books because maybe I'd find out what the big deal is. I hope any Heroes fans watched the episode this week. Bryan Fuller returned as a writer and wrote the episode. It was the best episode I've seen since season 1, VERY happy this talented writer is being put to good use, even if it did mean I had to lose Pushing Daisies.

Till next time.
Tags: random, school, life, tv, heroes, twilight, musical
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Random Thoughts/Tidbits
03/18/09 at 06:11 PM by cassusriff

That's the amount of songs on in my music library. I have a stereo in my car that plays my ipod and recently I've just kinda let it shuffle on its own and avoided specific artists or playlists. I'd love to just keep it going like that, it's very interesting. You go from broadway tunes to Senses Fail to the Beatles to Norah Jones to one of my radio clips from ASU to Valencia to Dane Cook to Death Cab and... well you get it. It's fun!


How I Jumped the Shark.

How I Met Your Mother is my favorite show, hands down. This weeks episode was very disappointing for me for a few reasons. 1) Lily and Robin (Alyson and Cobie respectively) are both preggers and it's becoming very obvious on the show. Lily can barely move anymore, the last two episodes have had the characters sitting down almost the entire time, and the feable attempts to hide the pregnancies are awkward. 2) The morning show fiascos that Robin went through were too much. Live birth? Heart attack? Fire? I don't like that style of writing. Shows are allowed to venture into the surreal a bit sometimes, Barney has been established as an enigma, so his character can get away with weird stuff like that. Robin's morning show fiascos were just a sad attempt to get some laughs. This season needs to end on a high note and get back to more of the subtle, witty comedy and steer away from the outrageous slapstick stuff. We don't want a repeat of Scrubs Season 6 & 7 again do we?


Twitter is becoming kind of cool. I'll admit I like to follow celebrities, but only the ones who are funny and have cool stuff to say. I like hearing about Mark Hoppus's day, especially when it involves him rehearsing for the Blink tour. I like hearing about John Mayer's creative process. I like hearing Shaq's ridiculousness. It's funny how much news and entertainment have changed. You see newspapers going under every day and yet Facebook and Twitter just keep growing. A whole job market is starting to fade, which is bad right now, but good for the future. Reporters aren't the fountain of knowledge, they are mediums. Successful reporters have blogs and twitters and facebooks in addition to their articles. I know immediately when the niners are bringing in a free agent, I get minute-to-minute updates of the Apple iPhone 3.0 event, I can stream video, read blogs, read twitter updates, etc on anything I'm interested about. News oversaturation? Maybe. But it makes sense why day-old news isn't selling anymore and why waiting till 6pm or 11pm for a hokey, depressing newscast isn't the number one option anymore.

For those who say it's bad, I ask, why? Because of tradition? Tradition is sentimental, but it is not progessive. We have to keep moving with the times, with the new ways of getting things done. Tradition is good in many ways, I think it belongs in many facets of life, but we should always look at ways to renovate, recreate, make things better. But this is coming from me, someone who is really open and adaptive to change. I'm probably the only person who likes the new facebook layout. Did you know you could create a friend list and it will only feed you stories from those people in the list? I love that! I have a friends list and a family list and it weeds out all those people I'm friends with on Facebook just to bloat my numbers. If I wanna see their random updates, I can just go to the regular news feed. I love it.


Anyway, heading to Oregon and Seattle tomorrow to tour colleges. I'm looking at University of Oregon and University of Washington. I'm really stoked about it and I will definitely be going to one of these schools come fall. I'll have a video (maybe) and some thoughts on it when I get back.
Tags: thoughts, life, social networking, twitter, facebook, himym, music, itunes
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I'll Admit It
03/14/09 at 01:30 AM by cassusriff
I like Kelly Clarkson.

There, I said it. I fully admit that while she may have some terrible lyrics and is super poppy, I enjoy her new album more than I would like. When I talk about guilty pleasures, she tops them all. At least Paramore is considered part of this scene, albeit the ugly stepchild that brings all the annoying friends to the shows who leave when Jimmy Eat World comes on. FOB doesn't compare, PATD doesn't compare. Kelly Clarkson? What can I say?

Her voice is incredible, no one can dispute that. She hits some high notes that seriously get me high. I am a music aficionado and I thoroughly enjoy some good instrumentals. The sounds of piano chords, violins, guitar solos, smooth bass lines, excellent beats all fill my ears with joy. But first and foremost, I am all about voice. I am extremely picky about what voices I like. I don't even like my own voice and instead find various moments of glory in it. It is rare that I really like everything a voice has to offer. I love Patrick Stump's voice, but I hate his diction. I love Dustin Kenrue's voice, but it can be a bit grating at times.

Even Kelly Clarkson's voice has a few flaws to me, but she's got this great mix of tone and roughness that I love. She can go in and out of her head voice beautifully and holds a note very well without wavering. I love how she almost screams her high notes but still manages to make them the most melodic thing ever. So yea, I honestly listen to her because I think her voice is that good.

I don't care if people think I'm weird for it. I think anyone who truly appreciates voice would have to agree in some way with me. You have to admit that Chris from Saves the Day has a voice that you can only handle for limited listens. You have to admit that Will from Cartel tightens up too much on his high notes. You have to admit that Ace Enders puts a bit too much emphasis on his phrases sometimes.

But all of these vocalists are incredible in their own right. It's why I listen to their music. I just probably judge them a little harsher than most people.
Tags: vocals, music, kelly clarkson, critique
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Wait a Second... (Updated)
02/06/09 at 02:25 PM by cassusriff
So you're telling me that we might have a year where the following artists release albums:

Green Day
My Chemical Romance
The Used
Brand New
New Found Glory
Say Anything
Taking Back Sunday
Circa Survive
Manchester Orchestra
Sum 41
Jimmy Eat World
All Time Low
Saves the Day
The Dear Hunter
Coheed and Cambria
Four Year Strong
Panic at the Disco
The Ataris

Um... what? Is the world ending? Seriously... is it? If these bands all release albums the mainstream is really going to have their focus on this genre. Hopefully that results in some other bands getting the recognition they deserve.

But I swear if we get more Metro Station clones because of this, I'm going to kill someone.

But the big staple releases coming out this year are insane! And here I thought 2008 couldn't be topped.

Now I know that probably half of these bands are going to put out disappointing albums, but the mere fact that so many big albums are coming out is truly exciting.
Tags: music, wtf, blink?, WTF!, crazy year of music
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P.S. The Scene is Dead
01/17/09 at 01:49 AM by cassusriff
You know, with all the reaction to the FOB tour, it got me thinking to when tours were actually good. Back when a big band would take a small band on tour to help them get noticed. Back when bands would go on tour just cause they wanted to, and not because they wanted to be part of a super-label that pumps out all the best pop bands. I remember when lineups like Thrice and TREOS or NFG, Blink, Fenix Tx, or The Ataris, Further Seems Forever, Juliana Theory, and Yellowcard (opener) existed.

I remember the local Bay Area scene. Kids used to care. They used to show up to a show when they said they would. Everyone supported the local bands. Everyone bought the merch, went to the shows, bought the albums. I remember being a mini-celebrity just because I was in a band in the local scene. I remember the respect we all had for each other. We all played shows at any community center we good. The method of getting your shit out was DIY. We didn't really have the internet. We handed out demos at shows.

I remember how enjoyable shows were. Back before paramore fangirls would elbow me in the chest just cause I was trying to move up in the crowd in anticipation for Jimmy Eat World, only to find that half the crowd dispersed when they came on because most of them had to get home for bedtime. Shit, most of the people there didn't know who the hell JEW was except for "The Middle." I tried to tell them all that Paramore was inspired by JEW, but no one cared. No, I remember a time when people in the crowd lifted me up so that I could play on stage with Kris Roe. I remember guys protecting girls getting smothered. I remember mosh pits and kids having fun and dancing and no one being a bitch about it. I remember a time when you could push up against people in a crowd and get to the front without some bitch screaming in your ear some childish lyrics or shoving you because you got in her space and messed up her makeup that looks just like the lead singer she's crazy about.

But thats all gone. Not only has the scene died musically, but the heart of it is gone. And no one says it better than Joe (anamericangod)

So thats just my take on it. I agree with Joe.

The Scene is Dead.

Long Live the Scene.
Tags: music, scene, nostalgia
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The Remnants of Uncertainty
01/13/09 at 01:56 AM by cassusriff
I feel the burning of my heart as it slows down and now the torch is near to out.
But the flames will last and I'll feed it fast as I fight to replace that wick.
Seems to me that my heart itches, almost begging for something missing. What is it?
Iím so content, so busy how can I fill this empty void?

But now am I truly alone?
I can hear my voice echo.
Only now I wish I was out of the atmosphere knowing truly sincere
The stars would never mock me.

You see my failures, I've fallen down. I'll chew my words for now and they will burn your ears as I spit them out.
You see my ashes at your feet; I can hear your breath...
But you will falter as you watch my fiery ascent to success and with it comes my happiness
The inspiration died so my style is cramped, but now I'm no longer trapped

But now am I truly alone?
I can hear my voice echo.
Only now I wish I was out of the atmosphere knowing truly sincere
The stars would never mock me.

So rough, ambiguous design in motion,
Give me one more bittersweet entity
To take with me to the battlefield
As I fight my own trials and ideas.
For the victorious would be worthy
Of being presented to you...

A song I wrote over almost 4 years ago now. Back when I was the singer for the band Begging the Question.

Laugh if you want at the failure and the raw, unpolished adolescent sound of my band, but we were all 16 or younger. We were all in love with music. We had a guy who could hit drums really hard, a guy who could pluck those bass strings like nobody's business, a guy who could shred on his guitar, and me... a guy with a lot of anger issues and an untrained voice.

I read back on my lyrics from those times, even further back to my band in middle school Heroes With Helmets (sorry, no link), and I laugh. I see the unnecessary anger, the callous thoughts, the suicidal tendencies, the faulty rhetoric. I see displacement, heartbreak, a lack of understanding.

But I look back at this song and see something more. I see words that I wrote 4 years ago that still resonate with me today. A song about how I write. A song about the conflict I have with happiness. I feel like a poet should be dark, inspired by sorrow and pain. So when I am in that place in my life, I feel ultimately creative. This is true too. The Defining Phrase was a story I was churning out and has become harder to write as I have gotten happier.

So the other side of my conflict is when I reach that happiness. The inspiration died so my style is cramped, but now I'm no longer trapped. The realization that with happiness comes a loss of motivation and inspiration. I've always been propelled by that "chip on my shoulder" mentality. It's why Steve Young is my favorite football player. He always had something to prove. I have that underdog fever. I want to prove people wrong, make people wish they never bet against me. I thrive on a perceived failure and turn it into success, but when I feel that success I cower away and don't know what to do with it. I start to fear ridicule even when 80% of what I receive is praise. It's times like that I wish I was out of the atmosphere knowing truly sincere, the stars would never mock me.

And when it comes down to it. Who do I write for? I love my readers, my friends, my family... but I write for me. And that person I am trying to impress at the end? That's me. I strive to find my creative outlet somewhere buried in my happiness... that way I will finally stop sabotaging my happiness to find creativity.

So now you know where I get the title of my blog.
Tags: writing, happiness, inspiration, motivation, music, band, lyrics
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EOTY List Part 2 - Top 10 Albums
12/31/08 at 06:39 AM by cassusriff
Best Albums (Top 10): I have never had such a difficult time putting together a list. All but a few of the albums in the top 10 could've easily been supplanted by another in 11-30 list. This was a really good year for music. It seems like good bands are sprouting up all over the place and that the same old formula isn't going to hold up for many people. Without further digression, here is my top 10!

Cinematic Sunrise - A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record - EP

The Narrative - Just Say Yes - EP

In an unprecedented move, I put two EP's and counted them as one album. It's my EOTY list, I can do what I want. I recently purchased both these EPs and was blown away by the excellent blend of male and female vocals. Cinematic Sunrise is a bit more bouncy and energetic while The Narrative has a full sound that just draws you in. Either way, I simply can't wait for more material from these bands. The two best EPs you'll find this year.


Anberlin - New Surrender

New Surrender is not Anberlin's best album. Not even close. So in a year with this much good music, to make number 9 on the list shows that Anberlin is one of the most consistent bands around. New Surrender has a bit more of a mainstream feel, but Stephen's vocals are better than ever and his lyrics still touching. The band rocks with "The Resistance" and "Disappear" but showcases beauty and reverence with tracks like "Breathe" and "Retrace" This album is a must-own and it may not even be their third-best album.


Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger

A truly polarizing album in every way. Andrew's vocals are loose and untouched. His voice wavers with despair and spirit as he takes us through his journey from the last few years. His lyrics are brash and honest, yet eternally hopeful. Songs like "Spinning" and "Swim" are instant classics, while "Hammers and Strings" and "Caves" are unlike anything you've heard and take a while to digest. A successful album that will grow with time.


Copeland - Say Hello to Sunshine

Sunshine combines the lightness from In Motion with the darkness from Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Tracks like "What Do I Know" and "The Grey Man" are more upbeat while "The Day I Lost My Voice" is a truly beautiful song that takes you through slowly and dilerberately. Aaron Marsh has never been better vocally and the band continues to experiment with new sounds. The lyrics mix despair with optimism well and the album will have you lost in its soothing sound.


City and Colour - Bring Me Your Love

An underappreciated album, simply said. Dallas Green not only has a near perfect voice, but his songs manage to take simple chord progressions and make them go deeper than one could imagine. Each song has its own unique identity but doesn't deter from the overall feel of the album. "Sleeping Sickness" hits you hard. "As Much As I Ever Could" closes the album with a hauntingly beautiful sentiment. A true gem that will take you to another place.


Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux

Fall Out Boy is probably the most polarizing band in this scene. They always manage to stay in the limelight one way or another, good or bad. Despite all that, they know how to make a kick-ass record. From the opening of "Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes" you can tell this album is going to combine the best of Fall Out Boy's previous sounds. The lyrics are chant-worthy and will be quoted in profiles and blogs across the world. The band has an amazing pop-sensibility, notably in "America's Suitehearts" and "Coffee's For Closers". "What a Catch, Donnie" builds into a beautiful reprise of all FOB has brought to the table so far, and there is no better way to describe this album.


Valencia - We All Need A Reason To Believe

Valencia gives us a reason to believe in good pop-punk again. The songs are catchy, but still rock. The lyrics are simple, but have meaning. "The Good Life" is a gem of a song in every way. "Better Be Prepared" is a kick-ass way to start the album. Shane's lyrics and vocals are easily digestible, which makes the album all that much more enjoyable.


House of Heroes - The End Is Not The End

A 15-song album with no throw-away tracks is quite an accomplishment in itself. What's even more of an accomplishment is how they manage to give each song a unique identiy, spanning many different styles and pulling them all off. Tim Skipper's vocal range is out of this world and the instrumentation is spectacular. What House of Heroes proves here is that a pop album can still rock. Their lyrics are honest and relate to the world we live in right now. They tackle the problems directly, but always offer a hope that springs from the album title, The End Is Not The End. In the end, this album is something that every other pop/punk/rock/alternative/whatever album should strive to be.


Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume III and IV: Air and Earth

I don't like to think of this album separately from Volume I and II, so when this album was released I was finally able to take in the entire project. The lyrics are incredibly beautiful, the music goes places Thrice has never been. Air is the best of all the EPs and builds from melodic and beautiful harmonies to Dustin's signature scream. Earth explores the folk side of Thrice and is reminiscent of Dustin's solo work. As a whole, the Alchemy Index is a work of genius. The band pushes the envelope in every way and provide some of the best music, lyrics, and theme around.


Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical

Talk about genius. Thomas Dutton and his brother managed to write a musical using influence and vocalists from the scene. The story itself is solid and imaginative, enough so that a casual listener would be put off a bit. The music is catchy, upbeat, weird, emotional, and dramatic... everything that makes a musical great. Dutton creates a hybrid of a damn good pop-punk record with a damn good musical. His vocals are fantastic as are all the guests he brings on (especially Urie, Salpeter, Huffman, and Bemis). The characters are all unique and the story never drags but instead moves too quickly. Every song has a redeeming quality and never left my head. With every listen I found something else to love about this album. And for that reason, it is my best album of 2008.

Best Songs: Way too many songs I liked this year. I bought over 1000 and liked at least 800 of them. These are just a few of the songs that defined my year.

20) Wolftron - "Beautybird"
19) The Reign of Kindo - "Breathe Again"
18) The Morning Of - "The New Is In"
17) Lydia - "A Fine Evening For A Rogue"
16) Promise of Redemption - "Trace Those Steps"
15) Jason Mraz - "If It Kills Me"
14) Augustana - "Rest, Shame, Love"
13) Panic at the Disco - "Northern Downpour"
12) The Hush Sound - "Break The Sky"
11) The Narrative - "Libra"
10) Cinematic Sunrise - "Goodbye Friendship, Hello Heartache"
09) Anberlin - "Retrace"
08) Jack's Mannequin - "Hammers and Strings"
07) Copeland - "Good Morning Fire Eater"
06) City and Colour - "Sleeping Sickness"
05) Fall Out Boy - "What A Catch, Donnie"
04) Valencia - "The Good Life"
03) House of Heroes - "In the Valley of the Dying Sun"
02) Thrice - "A Song For Milly Michaelson"
01) Forgive Durden - "The Missing Piece"

Best Staying Power (Albums Released in 2007):

My Top 5 last year was:
05) Eisley - Combinations
04) Radiohead - In Rainbows
03) Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
02) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Part I & II Fire and Water
01) Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre

A year later, this is how I would rank my top 5 albums from 2007.

05) Radiohead - In Rainbows
04) Four Year Strong - Rise Or Die Trying
03) Anberlin - Cities
02) Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre
01) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume I and II: Fire and Water

Band/Artist of the Year: Say Anything makes this list because they managed to stay relevant without even releasing an album. Max's song shop was a brilliant way to connect to fans personally and increase revenue. Forgive Durden made an incredible concept album with a fantastic viral marketing campaign. Fall Out Boy did the same.

03) Say Anything
02) Forgive Durden
01) Fall Out Boy

Best Movies: Pretty good year for movies if you don't include The Dark Knight, which makes it a great year for the movies. I haven't seen a lot of the good movies that have come out yet, so I will count those for next year. Benjamin Button was an incredibly touching movie with beautiful cinematography. Wall-E was the pinnacle of animated film. Iron Man was the second best superhero movie this year. Pineapple Express was the best comedy of the year. The Dark Knight... well I talk all about it right here.

05) Pineapple Express
04) Iron Man
03) Wall-E
02) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
01) The Dark Knight

Best TV Shows: Heroes has never been the same since Season 1, but is starting to come on again after a sub-par beginning to Season 3. The Office started slow as well and may be nearing it's end. The Big Bang Theory is a truly underrated show that is always good for a laugh. Pushing Daisies will be sorely missed, as it was a unique gem of a show. How I Met Your Mother is incredibly consistent and always funny while finding the perfect moments to be sentimental.

05) Heroes
04) The Office
03) The Big Bang Theory
02) Pushing Daisies
01) How I Met Your Mother

Most Anticipated Release of 2009: Will 2009 be as good a year for music as 2008? Hard to say, it has a lot to live up to. Here are some albums coming out next year that I am stoked for though.

05) Deftones
04) New Found Glory
03) Thrice(?)
02) Say Anything
01) Brand New

And that, my friends, is it! I hope you enjoyed my many categories. I have stayed up all night making this list. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback. Though I bought close to 100 albums this year, I could always use more albums and I definitely didn't get a few I wanted. Also, any other ideas for categories would be great! Have a great 2009!
Tags: eoty, music, movies, ap.net, lists, end of year, video, blog
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EOTY List Part 1
12/31/08 at 04:48 AM by cassusriff
Best Albums (11-30): My favorite albums from the year from number 11 to 30. I can't believe how many I had to keep out of this list and how low I had to put certain albums. Incredibly good year for music.

30) We Shot The Moon - Fear and Love
29) Phantom Planet - Raise the Dead
28) The Morning Of - The World As We Know It
27) Lydia - Illuminate
26) The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
25) Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg, and Curse
24) Good Old War - Only Way To Be Alone
23) The New Frontiers - Mending
22) Paper Rival - Dialog
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
20) Joshua Radin - Simple Times
19) Promise of Redemption - When The Flowers Bloom
18) Wolftron - Flesh and Fears
17) The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
16) Astronautalis - Pomegrante
The Reign of Kindo - Rhythm, Chord, and Melody
14) Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
13) Augustana - Can't Love, Can't Hurt
Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd
11) The Hush Sound - Goodbye Blues

Honorable Mention:
There was a time when I felt that any of these albums could've cracked my top 30, but here they are.
10) Drive By - A Delicate Situation
Senses Fail - Life Is Not A Waiting Room
The Academy Is - Fast Times At Barrington High
Story of the Year - The Black Swan
06) Quietdrive - Deliverance
05) The Mile After - Armada
The Audition - Champion
03) Ludo - You're Awful, I Love You
02) Keane - Perfect Symmetry
Alkaline Trio - Agony and Irony

Guilty Pleasures:
PATD is my highest rated guilty pleasure ever. The rest are albums that my friends couldn't stop spinning after I introduced them to the albums, so naturally I listened to them whenever I was in one of their cars whether I wanted to or not.
10) Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd
09) Cute Is What We Aim For - Rotation
08) The Fratellis - Here We Stand
07) Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
06) Justin Nozuka - Holly
05) Gym Class Heroes - The Quilt
04) The Cab - Whisper War
03) T.I. - Paper Trail
02) Kanye West - 808's and Heartbreak
Hit The Lights - Skip School, Start Fights

Worst (Most Disappointing):
Death Cab's album was okay, but it just didn't stick with me. 1997 has fallen apart since their promising debut. The other bands are just washed up in my opinion.
05) Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
04) 1997 - On The Run
03) Ivoryline - There Came A Lion
02) All American Rejects - When The World Comes Down
Weezer - The Red Album

Best Live Album/DVD: Both of these Live Album/DVDs are must owns, but John Mayer's live album/DVD is unlike any I've ever seen. Thrice is a close, close second.
02) Thrice - Live At The House of Blues
01) John Mayer - Where The Light Is

Best New Band:
House of Heroes isn't exactly new, but I didn't discover them until this year. The New Frontiers were promising and their breakup is a big loss for the scene.
03) The New Frontiers
02) The Good Old War
House of Heroes

Best Lyrics:
Great lyrics from all of these artists. Kensrue's lyrics always relate to me. Dutton mananged to write a musical with touching lyrics that weren't overly cheesy. Christian is a beautiful writer. Wentz knows how to make every song an anthem. Skipper is surprisingly poignant.
05) Tim Skipper (House of Heroes)
04) Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy)
03) Stephen Christian (Anberlin)
02) Thomas Dutton (Forgive Durden)
Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)

Best Vocals:
Dallas Green croons like no other. Kensrue continues to have one of the most distinct voices in the scene. Christian can wail. Skipper's voice rocks but is also extremely melodic. Marsh's range is unbelievable. Sad to leave off Patrick Stump, but I liked these 5 just a bit better.
05) Aaron Marsh (Copeland)
04) Tim Skipper (House of Heroes)
03) Stephen Christian (Anberlin)
02) Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)
Dallas Green (City and Colour)

Most Overrated/Worst Band:
I'm done with Weezer. Socratic was cute for a few spins and then annoyed the hell out of me. FTSK is fun and catchy, but underachieving. The Maine and Metro Station do nothing for me... except give me ear infections.
05) Weezer
04) Socratic
03) Forever The Sickest Kids
02) The Maine
01) Metro Station

Best Blogs (Celebrity):
Love or hate them, these scene "celebrities" put out good blogs ranging from hilarious and silly to serious.
05) Paramore
04) William Beckett
03) John Mayer
02) Stephen Christian
Pete Wentz

Best Blogs (Non-Celebrity):
I read every blog of every friend I have on AP.net (I have over 100), but these 5 are the ones I will read first every day.
05) That blog with boring shit about music
04) War All The Time
03) Take This To Your [Headphones]
02) A Link to Orion
01) Music Mends Broken Hearts

Best AP.Net Thread:

04) The Old Work Thread... RIP
03) The Dark Knight Thread
02) The Valencia Chat Thread
01) LOL Wut?

Best Tour:
Admittedly didn't go to many shows this year. Here are the best of the ones I went to.
03) Alternative Press Tour w/ Rocket Summer, All Time Low, FTSK, and The Matches
Paramore, Jack's Mannequin, Phantom Planet
01) The Starting Line Farewell Tour w/ Bayside and Four Year Strong

Best Guest Vocals:
Most of these come from Dutton's musical, but Vasoli makes a good apperance in "Listen Up" and Callait is the perfect other half for Mraz in "Lucky" Huffman and Salpeter own the only two female parts in Razia's Shadow. Brendon Urie was all over the place this year, and all of his guest spots were fantastic, sometimes even more so than his own album.
05) Cobie Callait: Jazon Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
04) Ken Vasoli (The Starting Line): Valencia - We All Need a Reason to Believe
03) Lizzie Huffman (Man In The Blue Van):
Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
02) Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
Brendon Urie (Panic At The Disco): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical, Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux and The Cab - Whisper War

Best B-Side: A fun song with John Mayer killing on the guitar, what more could you want?
01) Fall Out Boy (Feat. John Mayer): Beat It

Best Actors/Actresses:
A redemption year for Robert Downey Jr. Bale and Ledger were in the best film of the year and maybe the decade. Ledger's death put a sad spin on one of the best individual performances ever. Pitt put out a wide range of movies and owned the roles. Blanchett was impressive in "Benjamin Button"
05) Christain Bale
04) Cate Blanchett
03) Robert Downey Jr.
02) Brad Pitt
Heath Ledger

Best Book:
It is regrettable that I don't read more, but these two books got my interest this year. Jason Tate recommended Rock On and it was a great read. The Bro Code is funny and true.
02) The Bro Code (Barney Stinson w/ Matt Kuhn)
01) Rock On: An Office Power Ballad (Dan Kennedy)

Best Video Games: When I had time to play video games I enjoyed these games. I have yet to beat any of them.
05) Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
04) Grand Theft Auto IV
03) Rock Band 2/Guitar Hero World Tour (It really just depends on your preference)
02) Resistance 2
01) Spiderman: Web of Shadows

Coolest Tech Devices:
My two biggest purchases this year. My skepticism on the iPhone is gone, it is truly a fun and excellent device. My new Macbook has a smooth design, runs well, and has excellent functionality. I am set with my major technology purchases for years.
02) The New Macbook
01) iPhone 3G/iPod Touch

Best Sports Moments:
Follow the link to see a great blog of all the best sports events of the year. Below is maybe the most memorable and stunning, the Giants upset of the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Best Viral Video:
Prop 8: The Musical is star-studded, hilarious, and relevant. Check it out.

Tags: eoty, music, movies, ap.net, lists, end of year, video, blog
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Headfirst Slide
12/19/08 at 03:11 AM by cassusriff
So this is a rambling blog.

My problem with the story is that I feel like if I write a blog that isn't one of the chapters, I'm angering people. I have three chapters left and I will finish them soon enough, but there are too many other things on my mind that I have to get out before I can finish this damn story.

Fall Out Boy's new album is awesome. I've been back and forth with the band through their history. I never hated or loved them too much so I don't think I can ever be truly disappointed by them. Their lyrics have a way of speaking to everyone and you have to respect that. Let's just say that FOB is in my good graces and put out a top-10 album this year.

Speaking of which, I'm planning a huge EOTY list for this year. I went back and looked at my list from last year and added tons of categories. I'm going to do this thing in multiple segments and I'm totally stoked for it. Look for that to come in the next week.

So yes, I finally finished finals. I would definitely say I was spiraling and burning out in the last month. I'm still not close to feeling stable again, but I'm getting there. I still have to do a few more things to make sure I'll get my Social Science and General Education Associate's Degrees in May. But my online class schedule along with my 4 days a week of guaranteed working out with my weight training and cardio classes makes me happy. Not to mention that I don't have to worry about any of that until the end of January.

When this time of the year comes around I always get a bit nostalgic. I think everyone does. But I've been thinking about where I was a year ago. I hadn't moved out of my parent's house yet. I was recently dumped, I was lost and hating my direction. I was a mess. I was trying to find happiness in misery (FOB quote, ZOMG!).

Now I look at myself and I find that I'm trying to find misery in happiness. I've been so used to strife and pain and struggle that I don't know what to do with all this happiness in my life. I keep thinking that something bad is coming, that it is impossible to maintain this level of happiness... but nothing suggests that my happiness is going anywhere. It's crazy. I have an amazing girlfriend and a healthy relationship for the first time in... ever. My friends are all home and we are partying on saturday. I'm moving up at work. I have a good class schedule and I'm getting two degrees then transferring to UCLA or UCSD next fall. There's also one more prospect I'm excited about, but I'll get to that in a bit. Even Christmas, which is usually a terrible holiday for me, has become very enjoyable thanks to my beautiful girl. She took me to cut down a tree and decorated it with me and everything. My first Xmas on my own and she helped make it amazing.

Speaking of which, I need to do some shopping and creating. I hope to find some time in the next week to write some music, write some poetry and lyrics that aren't related to my story (though I still plan to write that as well!), continue to organize my life via my macbook and my iphone (yea, I got one... I know, I fail), and finish my EOTY list. I really want to blog more, but what is important right now are my family, friends, and girlfriend. Got plans to see a show, party, play football, have a relaxing and extended night with my girl, drive to San Jose and San Francisco to see family, exchange gifts and try to avoid annoying family bitterness and just have some cheer for once. If I've learned anything in my relationship, it's that I am a bit closed off and jaded. I'm trying to let go a bit more.

So back to organizing. I love syncing my calendar and contacts with my macbook and my iphone. I've been so crazy about it and still have some more tweeking to do. I like having lists and contacts with complete information.

And about that other prospect? Well I'm looking at joining the military. Before you jump on my ass about it, let me tell you that I'm looking at the officer program and won't join unless they pay for the next two years of college. The Navy is looking like the best bet right now. Basically, they have a program where they would pay me something like $3000 a month while I'm in school from Fall 2009-Spring 2011. I wouldn't have to work anything more than a part time job and I'd be able to focus on school and get my degree in Economics. Then when I went off to active duty for 4 years I'd be able to be a higher rank as an Officer, travel the world, work in Intelligence (which I love and would have a blast doing), save up money for my graduate degree, have a steady job and priceless experience, and no debt. By the time I'd be done with active duty I'd be 27, on my way to a graduate degree, have enough money to buy a house, have a guaranteed job with the Navy or enough experience on my resume to get a good job in what would be a hopefully recovering Economy, and be at a place in my life that would make me extremely proud and fulfilled.

Think of all of that what you will, but just the prospect of a free, unabaited education and a guaranteed job that I'm sure I'd love at the very least more than my current one makes my beam with excitement.

For the first time in years I feel like I have a track I am on. I feel like I have a purpose and I have my life figured out.

And if you don't like where I'm going, thats fine. You can just read my EOTY list and my story and my blogs about music. You don't have to like me as a person.

Anyway, good to be writing again. Much love to all of you!

Tags: update, life, blogging, EOTY, music, school, military, fob, iphone
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12/05/08 at 03:26 PM by cassusriff
I'm gonna be pop-u-hoo-lar!

No, but really... what is the criteria for being a "popular" blog on this site? Just wondering. I think I'm up to the top 10 most viewed on the site, which is incredible. Thank you all so much. But I'm thinking I need 200 entries before I get that sweet little red "popular" tag next to my blogs. That'll be fun!

P.S. Bonus points for ANYONE who knows what the first line of my blog is from.

So last night was the first night I had time to write my story and I actually didn't. I needed a mental health day from the damn thing. I'm burnt out on finals and a lot of stuff going on with xmas and friends and family. I'm overall in a very happy place right now so I couldn't bring myself to revisit what is about to be the really dark part of my story last night. I'll do my darndest to get Chapter 10 out tonight, but I have to do my homework for Poly Sci first.

Also, xmas tree lighting with my girl and her parents tonight. Me having holiday spirit is the most amazing development of this year. I even put up decorations at my desk! WTF?

I love the new Kanye West album. Don't care what you say about the guy, he makes good music.

Give me a week and a half and my life will return to some form of normalcy. Fall semesters are always so crazy. Spring semesters are always easy. I have everything I want now: all the tech stuff I need to stay organized, an awesome class schedule that forces me to do cardio (Mon/Wed) and weight training (Tues/Thurs). My only two academic classes (Sociology and Statistics) are online. I love that schedule. No saturday classes. No 3-hour classes after work. Just one hour of working out 2 hours after getting off work from Mon-Thurs. I couldn't be happier.

Also, I'm looking into a program that will cause a lot of friction for people who know me. I'll reveal all that later. Sorry for this long and sporadic update, but with the demand to finish my story I haven't been able to write stuff that I like to write, you know, my narcissistic rants that assume all my readers actually care about my personal life. haha.

I'm hoping that when the story is done I'll get back to thoughts on entertainment and stuff like that. After all, that is what this website is about right?

Okay, peace out!
Tags: update, popular, music, life, school, xmas, girls, writing, story
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Work = Blah
11/20/08 at 12:57 PM by cassusriff
I'm closing in on 20k views and 200 comments... wow. Just a month or so ago I was stoked on 10k views and 100 comments. I don't know where the sudden jump happened, but I'm loving it.

I'm pretty sure the next few chapters of the story will get me to those milestones. I have about half of chapter 5 finished, I fell asleep with my computer next to me last night. Tonight I Have no class and no plans to see anyone so I can finally hash out Chapter 5 and hopefully Chapter 6 as well.

Thank you all for your patience. I'll be off work in about 5 hours so I'm hoping to get the next part out by about 10pm my time.

BTW, I love the new AP.net, just thought I'd throw that in.

Also, I plan to update my Music I Need list this weekend.

Tags: story, book, romance, life, writing, views, comments, blog, music
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Life is Looking Up
11/05/08 at 05:06 AM by cassusriff
For my thoughts on the election, check out my blog entry right below this one.

So much. So much is on my mind. I already got my thoughts on the election out. So at least that is done. Again, let me try to put this all together.

First of all, Forgive Durden's Razia's Shadow: A Musical is easily my album of the year. I have no problem stating that now. This album is well-crafted and clever. A perfect blend of what I love from my theatre days mixed with a hint of my favorite kind of music. The Dutton brothers wrote an outstanding story with amazing instrumentation and lyrics that are far better than any I've heard in a musical. The guests on the album are all nearly flawless and fit their characters perfetly. Brendon Urie, Greta Salpeter, and Casey Crescenzo stand out amongst a spectacular ensemble. This album is definitely not for everyone... but if it is, it is a gem. One of the best albums I've heard in a long time.

Next, I'm getting on the train late, but I'm going to attempt to write most to all of Skyscraper. If you don't know what that is, it is a story I brainstormed a while back that I haven't had a chance to really dive into yet. Since it is "Write a Novel Month" I figured that this is a better time than any to start. I've been incredibly busy, but if I can find just a little time to write every night I can at least begin to hash the story out. Wish me luck!

Videos... I'll try to make more of those, but I have so much going on and I really don't have the time to make them as great as I'd like. I have the equipment now, so in time I will get on making more videos.

I'm also still writing lyrics and music and stuff. It's a bit painful to me because I feel like I'm at an artistic apex in my life and yet I'm too busy to capitalize. I'm hoping life starts to slow down a bit after this week... can't promise anything though.

So on to the real stuff. Today is November 5th. I've waited at least 7 weeks for this day, if not my whole life. I'm going to LA to meet up with my friends and a girl who quite possibly is 'the one'. There is a new president elected. I 'm definitely moving to LA in a year. I'm completely on my own. I'm turning 21 soon. I have so many directions I can go and I'm scared. It feels like a new chapter in my life is about to begin. Just based on how the last month has gone, I have seen my life on a very considerable upswing. I don't understand why all this good is coming to me, but I'm starting to think that I deserve some good for once. It feels weird to actually expect good things for myself because I've been so used to disappointment and abandonment. This new feeling is something I hope to never lose again.

But really... all I can think about is seeing Lizzy. In less than 24 hours I'll be in LA with her. We are going to Disneyland this weekend. I can't believe how real it all is. I'm excited and scared and speechless and short of breath.

This is going to be one hell of a weekend.

I'll start bloggng more when I get back... and I'm pretty sure I'll be a changed man when I get back.

Nobody understood me till her eyes fixed upon me. My puzzled life's complete now that I found my missing piece.
Tags: music, razias shadow, forgive durden, life, personal, writing, relationships
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Jam Session #2: Disappearing Act
10/22/08 at 02:29 AM by cassusriff
A song I wrote in my blog a long time ago finally is going to see the light of day. Tristan and Colin were over today and though I wasn't exactly thrilled to have "my time" shortened yet again, especially after such a long day -

Actually, let me tell you about that first. I threw out my back, I had to move to another desk at work, I worked my ass off all day and was tired as hell, I spent my last money on gas until I get paid thursday, some high school kid hit my car and dented my bumper and bent my license plate, I drove to a class I didn't have today, I talked with my girl only to learn that her day had been just as bad, I got off the phone and had two friends crash my apartment when I was about to work out, I didn't get to work out, I listened to my brother complain until 2am and he bummed me out, and now I'm here feeling as stressed as ever. Ugh.

Anyway... especially after such a long day. But they are my friends and I wasn't about to just kick them out. I don't see Colin much so it is always time to be cherished when I see him. I also got them to listen to Thrice so I succeeded in something I guess.

But Tristan had a guitar/piano/melody he had written a long time ago and I put the lyrics to his music. We were actually trying to write a new song, but in doing so we took some of my old poems and some of his old song structures and turned them into some good-sounding stuff. I'm getting excited for whatever the hell this musical project is. I am definitely Pete Wentz and Tristan is Patrick Stump. I say, let him sing. Let me write. I like how we work together.

"Disappering Act" is a really sad song. I wrote it about a hard time in my life. Let's just say I wasn't quite over an ex and I hadn't met the current girl who very well may be the love of my life... but I digress. The above link has the lyrics and I will also post them under the video. Let me know what you all think. It's just Tristan singing and playing guitar... but listen to the lyrics.


I wonder what life would have been like
if you were still by my side.
I try to push the idea that these dreams
live and die with this pretense.

I've fought for almost a year now
and your memory is so persistent.
I've nearly died from this pain
I'm thinking I may never love again.

I once dreamed of a world with you and me
A world where you was all I could see.
I made this mistake and you led me there
and now I'm stuck with my reflection in the mirror.

I wish I could hear something else
besides the echo of my voice.
I wish I could see you again
I wish we could make the past pretend.

So today, and now, and for the distant future
I walk alone with your ghost on my shoulders.
You are practically dead to me
Because I haven't heard your voice in forever it seems.

This is worse than it seems
This is me losing you completely.
This is me trying to figure out things
Without you, it doesn't seem like reality.

Without you, it all seems

Like it shouldn't be.
Tags: music, video, stress, life, lyrics, personal, original, acoustic, unsigned
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The Fall (Winter Blossom)
10/19/08 at 01:07 AM by cassusriff
I don't know why... but I've gotten into songwriting again. I've been busting out lyrics as per usual, but now I'm writing music and working with friends on arrangements. I guess I'm just feeling really artistic and expressive lately, or maybe I just have something to write about again. Either way, I'm loving it.

A few blogs ago I wrote some lyrics and couldn't finish them because I was feeling blah. Well, here is the finished product.

"The Fall (Winter Blossom)"

My tears have never been clearer
My prayers have never been nearer
To coming true

Climb through the window
Whispering "Wake up, I love you"
Climb in beside you
To bed...

Hoping the morning will come
And dawn will start pouring
In through the window

I can't wait to wake up
And look at your face
And see your eyes smiling
Take me to a different place

It's like I've fallen on an earth that is heaven
My breath is short but my air is refreshing
My heart is on fire
My tears have never been clearer
My prayers have never been nearer
To coming true

I watched your plane leaving
And I watched the leaves change
This Autumn brings loneliness
Cause you're so far away...

I'm waiting for the blossom of springtime
In the middle of the winter
To see your eyes

I can't wait to wake up
And look at your face
And see your eyes smiling
Take me to a different place

It's like I've fallen on an earth that is heaven
My breath is short but my air is refreshing
My heart is on fire
My tears have never been clearer
My prayers have never been nearer
To coming true

The tips of mountaintops
To the depths of ocean bottoms
I'm dancing in flames
And drinking the crisp air

Enjoy the jam session. We should be recording the song soon...

Tags: song, lyrics, jam session, video, music, personal, original
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