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No John Payne, No Asia Gain

12 Aug
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A couple of weeks ago, I saw John Payne who used to play in THE ORIGINAL BAND Asia for a while until his notable contributions came to a crashing halt when original singer and bassist John Wetton got back together with original keyboardist Geoff Downes to resuscitate THE ORIGINAL BAND Asia to give it a second chance at life.
However it looked as if John Payne hadn’t recognized me when the few times we used to hang out fifteen or so year sago through the auspices of out mutual friend Christina Holtz, who used to published crapload of interviews with progressive rock dignitaries before internet and social media became the all around chic thing in a newsletter called the Music News Network.
When Wetton and the company went their separate ways after the disappointment in sales for the band’s third album, Payne was recruited by Downes before he could join Electric Light Orchestra to forge the band ahead for the next five studio albums (plus two albums of unreleased demos that were originally thought destroyed in a studio flood, a soundtrack for an interactive game, and a multitude of bootlegged live shows) in entirely new creative uncommercial direction that somewhat rubbed off on Wetton both socially and politically when the original guys got back together to record four albums from 2007 to 2014 on such songs as “Parallel Worlds”, “Holy War”, “Bury Me in Willow”&  “Nyctophobia” to sort up follow-up the somewhat political direction that Payne’s such as the 2004 title track to “Silent Nation” and “Free” from 2001’s previous album, Aura.

Payne brought a lot to the table to Asia on five fantastic albums, Aqua, Aria, Arena, Aura, and Silent Nation – the latter having broken the pattern of titles that begin and end with the letter A. On Aria, John Payne dedicated a song to his father called “Military Man” who served in the Royal Army. The above video is my personal favorite from the Aura album “Wherever You Are“. Payne and I once had a few drinks after a show they did at The Whisky a-Go-Go in West Hollywood and he confided in me that they lyrics were particularly tough for him to write because he was going through a lot of personal stuff and fending off demons. Former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade joined Asia for their last two major US tours and you can see him in the video.
After his long stint in Asia, Payne teamed up with guitarist Guthrie Govan (formerly of Asia too) and drummer Jay Schellen (Circa) to form GPS. They recorded one album called Window to the Soul with Spock’s Beard Ryo Okumoto guest starring on keyboards. If any of the material from the album was performed, it was performed on any one of John’s John Payne’s Asia Featuring John Payne summer tours with Rocket Scientist keyboard wizard Erik Norlander. GPS’s label, InsideOut Music claims that GPS was contracted to deliver three albums, but the band was shortly dissolved after the release of it’s only single album. Last I heard, John Payne moved to Las Vegas to help produce a rock and rock styled rock musical called “Raiding the Rock Vault with a revolving door of a who’s who of rock and progressive rock legendary dignitaries (even Yes’ Jon Anderson stopped by for a stint) formerly at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. But after that show closed, he’s built a private studio in the Las Vegas area where he works on projects for him and close friends.
You can catch John touring as part of the Rockpack tour for the remainder of the summer along with former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm and former Journey singer Steve Augeri, and former Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball. They’ll all be under the stars in Sandy Utah this upcoming August 18th.
A bonus treat: Here’s a review of two Border storre appearances in the Los Angeles area bakc in the fall of 2004.
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Hanging out with John Payne at a Spock’s Beard show somewhere in West Hollywood 2006.
ASIA AT THE BORDERS
 

By Cary Coatney

One of my favorite all time closet bands (the kind of band you don’t dare admit to liking past the age of forty due to the retaliation of mullet haircuts and parachute pants jokes) embarked on a two week tour of Border’s Books and Music stores all across the US that was both intimate and unique. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of the shows due to that they were within a reasonable travel distance from my place of residence. Earlier this year, Yes did a familiar type of event at a Tower Records that was within a two block walking distance from my house, but there were some unforeseen circumstances that made that event a little bit too much of a media blitzkrieg with all the waiting on line to get a wristband, the mandatory cash or credit plunk down for a new CD and DVD, and wind up with nothing but perhaps a fifteen second chat with each member- but alas, with John Payne and Geoff Downes of Asia, you could have a sit down and chat about the weather, Quiznos oven baked sandwiches, or who they think is going to win the November US presidential election until they got bored with you and sent you away.

The first show in Westwood or the West Los Angeles area which took place on a Friday night, was surprisingly sparsely attended by as few as twenty-five fans (but they had a nice little stage to perform on) with a few lookee-loos here and there peeking over the coffee bar to ascertain who was responsible for all the racket as opposed to the smaller and more crowded coffee bar area that followed on the next night in my hometown of Sherman Oaks, Ca ( approximately more than sixty heads were counted). If I owned some wheels, I would probably would have followed them up the coast to Santa Barbera for the next afternoon show.

From what Geoff Downes sermon to the audience at some point during the performance, he stated that the purpose of this chummy little cozy get-together was not only to promote or make aware of the newly released Silent Nation album (on that fabulous Insideout Music label), but to sort of demonstrate or ruminate to attendees of what goes into a songwriting process. If one can follow along with the bare bone essentials of how all the ingredients fall in place into what goes into a song, the better in the appreciation of listening to it- at least that’s what I tried to rationalize from what Geoff was trying to say after they finished playing Wildest Dreams on nothing but a Korg Triton keyboard and a Spanish guitar before launching into the current single, ‘What About Love’ off the new album.

John Payne revealed a few secrets of what inspired him to write the new material. The lyrics to the new single, Long Way From Home reflected on John’s feelings on traveling abroad to record the new album from all the way from Wales to Burbank, California and the origin behind the title track from the new album dealt with a Howard Stern rant on the eroding of America’s civil liberties by evidence of the FCC crackdown of radio shock jocks across the nation that John just happened to be tuned into whilst between tour stops during the last time they were toured America (Janet Jackson’s much talked about wardrobe malfunction during last year’s Super Bowl halftime didn’t help matters either).

The little bits of monologue in between numbers wasn’t all that adroitly somber. Both Downes and Payne had some lighthearted moments as if they were channeling the spirits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (or was it the Smother Brothers?) , especially when it came to telling amusing jokes & stories about Steve Howe since John Payne was fortunate enough to tour with the guitar legend when he first joined the band for the Aqua album. I never did quite get the punchline to the ‘how many Steve Howes does it take to screw in a guitar string? – are you sure you even want to be in the same room with them?’ John P also pondered on whether John Wetton was actually thinking of Steve Howe when he wrote the line in Wildest Dreams, ‘they recommended euthanasia for non-conformers everywhere.’ And the mystery still remains unsolved to this very day- did the hair band, Europe actually swipe Geoff Downes’ opening synth motif for ‘Only Time Will Tell’ for their hit single, “the Final Countdown’? Even Jon Anderson wasn’t immune from their schick- they made a playful jab on maestro Anderson’s Alzheimer antics based on accounts heard from their collaborator, Billy Sherwood on a couple of tracks of the new album about how Jon would keep getting his name confused with Bobby Sherman – leading to the dedication to him in ‘Ghost in the Mirror’, one of my favorite tracks off the new album.

For those crowd pleaser seeking late seventies retribution got their wish when Geoff did took off on his little medley of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ from which I understand that Geoff will be performing with his one time Buggles partner Trevor Horn for a benefit in his honor sometime in England next month. The new material was just as well received as the old stalwart hits judging from the audience reaction. Hearing the striped down versions of ‘Wildest Dreams’ and ‘The Heat Goes On’ had my mind floating in orbit back to those nostalgic times of innocence of rigorous pain-in-the-ass piano instructors or heated moments when I would hide with my Asia and Alpha sheet music in between recitals of Bach or Mozart or transcription assignments for Music Theory classes back in high school just for a little dose of sanity – so it was fun to hear these ‘low carb’ versions over the course of the two nights and from what I could see from over Geoff’s shoulder, the visualization of seeing him displaying his chops up close and personal- there is indeed a lot of argumentative thought that goes into the execution of these simple ‘pop’ songs.

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It was a shame that drummer Chris Slade hasn’t mastered the skill of figuring out a map of the Los Angeles area yet- otherwise, I would’ve gotten three autographs on the new album for the price of two. I’ll be anxious for Geoff and John to be bringing the full band back for a ‘real’ album tour sometime in April of next year.

Setlist: (both nights, October 14 and 15, 2004)

Wildest Dreams
What About Love?
Long Way From Home
Heat Goes On
Silent Nation
Only Time Will Tell
Ghost in the Mirror
Video Killed the Radio Star
Heat of the Moment

 

GUEST STAR MOVIE REVIEW – Wind River by Zak Alvarez

31 Jul

wind_river_ver2_xlgHello and thanks for taking a moment to read this review of ‘Wind River” written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) and starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olson, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, and others.

Wind River starts Friday August 4th and is rated R. Go see it if you can.  I, Zak Flying Around, stake my personal esteem in support of the high quality of this particular production.

I have been on the Wind River Reservation, the home of the once powerful Arapaho tribe of the Great Plains, and also the home of an equally proud band of the Shoshone Nation.

The reservation land is depicted accurately in the sense that it is exceedingly beautiful and vast. Of all the reservation lands in the Indian Country, Wind River has been described as being the most beautiful. I am glad that the cinematography and photography made sure to back up that claim.

I recall seeing an upside down US flag and defiant Native American frill flying together on a flagpole.  The flagpole is briefly shown in the beginning of the film, true to my memory, to which I say, “Right on. I had gone to the Wind River reservation near Lander, Wyoming in 2011, I had downhill skied all winter in Montana, Washington,Oregon, California Utah and Idaho. Lucky me. I wanted to speak to someone at the tribe to ask how they were coming along in tentative plans to possibly build a ski lift on one of their mountains. It would be a great little enterprise, and I wanted to somehow support the idea. I spent a day there and then headed to Utah (in a snowstorm system), and eventually, I went back home to California.I had a great time!

The second scene of the film captures the viewers’ attention well. It is a mountain valley in the winter. The sun is just up. Coyotes in heavy fur coats stalk a group of sheep standing vulnerable and unprotected. Then a powerful rifle shot occurs and a shocked coyote plops over dead. A camouflaged dressed hunter aims for another, but decides to let it run away. Interestingly, he is a US Fish and Game hunter.  What else is worth mentioning it without blowing it for you?

There is a rather awesome display of semi crazy snowmobiling several times which locals consider getting around in snow terrain, which I know to be the case in reality. Cowboy tough awesome, uh huh.  There are also some brand new trucks barreling everywhere, lots of guns, shooting, tough guy gear n’ shit. In fact, a few parts looked like a commercial for tough pickups and snow machines.

So for the rural fellows and fans of “Muricka, Come Get Some“, the film makers have got that covered.

Wind River is composed of great acting by the whole cast, seriously. There is no reason to get up and go to use restroom as the film is no more than 90 minutes long.  I saw no one in the industry professionals get up to use the bathroom at this screening except for my host Cary W. Coatney (hey, I got an important call from my sister – so I had to take it!) I personally had to go, but I couldn’t leave. I was too busy watching the movie. It’s a thriller.

To continue with the review.

A young native woman is running across a field of snow. It’s dark and its’ furring. She is so very cold, injured, bleeding, and perilously underdressed and it looks like she has no shoes! She is crying, weeping, fleeing from something or someone. How did she get in a mountain meadow in the Rocky Mountain wilderness in the middle of the winter, no houses in sight? She falls, gets up, runs and then falls down again. The cold and the snow is relentless and we hope she will be saved. She must not stop or she will DIE!

I recall the Louise Erdrich novel “Love Medicine” tragically begins this way too. This well written and well executed film is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on you, the viewer.

Have a great weekend everybody.

Zak Flying Around.

Zak Alvarez (who is a self-professed Native American spiritual stone mover) and I caught Taylor Sheridan’s new magnum cinematic opus a week ago at my employer’s theater screening. The film as been making the film fest rounds where it premiered at the Park City Film Festival precisely where the film was shot. Thus far, it had received a record eight minute long-standing ovation at the most recent Cannes. Zak was so moved by the movie’s Native American authenticity that he said he was willing to write a review about it. So I asked him, since he said the film on my dime, or rather my employee identification card, would be willing to write a version for it for my blog, since I’ve never really had a movie review posted on my blog before.

Chris Pine was originally slated for the lead role but had to drop out due to commitments to Wonder Woman and Elizabeth Olson actually suffered snowblindness during the film’s forty day shoot.

The movie, who premise is solving a murder that occurs on an Native American Indian reservation is so far a brightly lit gem in the director/writer’s Sheridan’s seedy exploration into the dark underbelly of man’s personal darkness first touched upon in Sicario and next in Hell or High Water. No doubt, once Oscar time comes around, the academy will most likely take a hard look into Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson’s mesmerizing performances as well as Graham Greene’s supporting role much like they did for Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water.

The movie has one hell of a wicked ending and is highly recommended if you’re looking for a thought-provoking modestly budgeted riveting mystery.

If Zak hadn’t had the Wind River review ready, I was going to go with a profile on once upon a time Asia song writer John Payne who came to perform a show near me recently. I will be posting that next week.

 

 

Where There’s a Will Eisner, There’s a Way to Enjoy the Spirit of Good Comics.

14 Jul

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There are always lessons in life to be learned. It’s taken me this long to realize, that no matter how old or young, either veteran or rank amateur, there are always going to shades of nuances left to instill on the sedulous path that one hopes to canvass. Comics can be there to help one to choose the course most wisely and a graphic novel borne from scratch by Will Eisner is akin to the sole equivalent of handing in a master thesis to a university professor. There is not one living being on this planet who can successfully dispute that Will Eisner is the ambrosia of the comic book industry, served without appetizer.

    Now, how did I walk in the door this late while class was in session ?
  Chalk it up to wanting comic books to mature along with you. One day, you wake up craving something more than the usual unctuous bread & butter mainstream fare which has the daily requirements of a stiff cardboard diet. You have your sugar powdered and undernourished diet of grown people in crotch hugging tights, and you have your furry animals who in turn sniff those crotches, and you have those mentally genre challenged types who buy nothing but anime, anime, anime, and anime just to see those characters expose their crotches. Independent and small press titles can still grab one’s attention looking for a health food diet of diversity, but you take your chances good and bad.  THEN a series comes along, and no matter how favorably reviewed ( or not that favorably reviewed ) will keep your heartstrings tugging along for perhaps all of eternity, or when hence said provider writer/artist/creator raises the capital to publish the next issue.
  With Will Eisner, you can’t go wrong the man is a genre all to himself. As testament to the inventor of the graphic novel, my eyes have recently feasted upon the current printing of The Dreamer (the DC Comics Will Eisner Library) and having completed it in one sitting clocking in around one hour and half of reading time, my gut reaction was as if a revelation has suddenly enveloped over me; releasing a floodgate of consonance steadfast in the ultimate plateau of storytelling. Not only is it an enlightening read of a personal account into the hardships of breaking into the comic book industry during the era of the 1940’s sharing the spotlight with characters built on onerous legends such as Jack Kirby and Milton Caniff, but it sort of acts as a behind the scenes reference material on the passion and the pratfalls of running a comic book company.
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The book that launched the graphic novel ship of millions- a definitive game changer.
As soon as I finished reading The Dreamer, I had immediately had to have more so I placed in an order through Diamond’s Star System to obtain the entire Will Eisner library that DC has gotten the rights to keep in print including; The Building, A Life Force, Droopsie Avenue, Life On Another Planet, and Eisner’s latest, A Minor Miracle. Dark Horse also has a relatively new work from Eisner entitled The Last Days in Vietnam (printed on pulp style paper). Now I may have all of these wonderful masterworks in my possession, but as of this writing, I haven’t had the time to savor them yet.
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   Even as I push to the side these revamped sequential editions of serendipity (due to lack of funds that I hope soon to rectify – hey, do you have any idea what it cost to publish your own comic book these days ?), I’ve still managed to place the mind on idle during the course of the holiday season drooling over page after page of the first three volumes of the archives commemorating the septuagenarian anniversary of the Spirit Sunday strips.
   For those not in the know, The Spirit Sunday section elicited comics’ first exposure to total independence and sole ownership. Eisner struck a lucky unprecedented deal with The Register and Tribune Syndicate to produce a weekly eight page comic book style strip as an insert to major Sunday newspapers across the country and retained ownership and all rights to the characters – something practically unheard of in those early 1940’s war-torn days of fly by night sleazy syndicate strip owners who would rather crack their hackneyed slaves over the skull with a bullwhip then freely surrender the reins of their own creation to them.
    With The Spirit, you got the best in adventure, romance and sheer thrills and derring-do that comics had to offer and remains even unparalleled to this day. Besides The Spirit, (aka Denny Colt, a police detective once believed to be dead) also included were a colorful palate of supporting characters such as his bumbling assistant Ebony White, Police Commissioner Dolan, and his ever persistent love stricken daughter Ellen, who’s always trying to be one of the boys. The Spirit also has his fair share of worthy adversaries, although most of them were mainly rugged gangsters and con men, a few stick out of the bunch: femme fatales P’Gell and Silk Satin, The ever unseen Octopus, and Carrion with his vulture companion.
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 Above: my first exposure to a Spirit comic book strip was in this book that mom got me for my tenth birthday, but  to a eight year old, I wasn’t mature enough to grasp was going in the strip.  
   Each week’s adventure was as varied and eclectic as a comic strip could get. One week, the Spirit is out halfway around the world smashing a spy ring or a gang of saboteurs and the next he could be playing cowboy somewhere out in the high plains. Mostly the Spirit stuck around his home base of Central City kicking ass over racketeers, crime lords, witches, and masked archers. I cite the example of my old favorite Spirit adventure, The Jewel of Death ( reprinted in Volume 3 of the 26 volume The Spirit Archives hardcovers reprinted by DC Comics ) which I first read when I was eight years old when it was presented in Jules Feiffer’s memoir The Great Comic Book Heroes ( Feiffer was an assistant on the 1940’s strip). Here you have The Spirit, lurking about Damascus searching for a doctor who has the antidote for a plague sweeping over Central City. He even goes as far as seeking information in a seedy bar that is hard pressed to serve him a glass of milk. Getting roughed up by Arabian Knight rejects, dodging a massive earthquake, and being the bearer of a prophecy coming true is all in a day’s work for our hero. This particular episode sticks out from the rest of the pack for the sole reason that The Spirit is sporting white threads instead of his traditional blue ones. As seeing how DC is printing these volumes in chronological order, the following week’s strip had him back on his home turf; business as usual, protecting a renown comic book artist from fussy gangsters. That’s how versatile Eisner made his creation.
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There are a total of 26 volumes of the Spirit Archives that run for $50.00 a pop, but you might be fortunate to seek deals on Amazon or Ebay. 
    No one can equal or parallel his style, attempting to ape it would leave one’s career in tatters if one so much as steps one step close to his level of unbridled genius. He is a one man band and traveling show. He will teach you and you learn to do it your own way. It would take more than a hundred Rob Liefelds or Todd McFarlanes to reach the pinnacle at the top of their milestone game to be on equal footing
    Just when you think you have everything and you just want to pack it all in and leave, here comes Eisner like gangbusters just like a consummate actor such as Al Pacino in Godfather III with something new and magical enough to pull you back in.
    The above was originally written for the Comics Buyer’s Guide sometime in 2000 while Eisner was still alive. I’m rather short on time this week and have been swamped heavily with overtime at the office, and with San Diego Comic Con International just around the corner, I found this lovely morsel in my e-mail draft file and I thought maybe posting this would be appropriate since (I think Spike TV broadcasts or streams it on television these days – BUT DON’T QUOTE ME ON IT) an award show is held at the venue in Eisner’s name. 
 
    Since originally composing this piece, as you no doubt know that Eisner passed away at the age of 88 in 2005 and since then his greatest creation, The Spirit has been revived several times across three different publishers with brand new stories by such juggernaut talents in the industry such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore (Kitchen Sink), the late Darwyn Cooke, J.Bone (for DC) and Matt Wagner (Dynamite Entertainment). There was also a team up with the Rocketeer in a four issue mini-series published by IDW.
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Worse comic book to film adaptation ever made. A direct poke to the scrotum insult to the legacy of Will Eisner 
    Forgot to mention that there was at one time a campy television movie made in the late 1980’s starring Flash Gordon’s Sam Jones and introduced Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Nana Visitor. In the late 2000’s, Frank Miller on one side, a modern comics renaissance man but on the other, a poor agent provocateur of directing movie flops unleashed his atrocious version of The Spirit in 2008 (it was subtitled Frank Miller’s The Spirit for ego kicks) that served as a bastard child to Robert Rodriguez’ s 2005 Sin City (a segment of that movie that Rodriguez allowed Miller to direct much to the chagrin of the DGA). The sidekick of Ebony White was omitted from the movie due to fear of racial stereotyping, but Miller goes ahead and has Samuel Jackson’s portrayal of the Octopus garbed in Nazi soldier regalia which was in fucking poor racist bad taste. I had seen this train wreck of a movie at a theater in Las Vegas and it was lucky for me, that my date, who happened to be a very modest religious black female had shined me on to accompany me to this movie. And it was a fucking good thing that she did, because I’m sure I would’ve been known as the white scourge you would want to avoid during a bi-racial one night stand.
    I will be down at Comic Con International this year on the first (the 20th) and the third day only (the 22nd). On Saturday from 7:00PM – 9:00PM, I will be attending the WGAW Animation & Videogame Writers Caucus being held at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Bayside Pavillion. So I’m betting it’s safe to say, that I won’t see any of you there.

HEROES OF K-SCOPE MUSIC: My Optimist Space May Be Anathema to Others

30 Jun

ABOVE: “Springfield“, the new single from Anathema’s new 2017 album The Optimist. The jury is still out on whether or not it’s a tribute to the long running animated show, “The Simpsons.”  

Remember the golden days of social media? NOT far back as Delphiforums or whatever dial up contraption that they called back in the day in order to chat with your buddies that you’d find on America Online.

I’m alluding to those days of myspace where not only could you make friends with every Playmate or porn star under the jizz stained covers – BUT all the musicians bands would pelt you with free samples of their works that you could download or sample for free.

Believe it or not, I still listen to a good handful of these acts of which FIRST got my attention through myspace including Gazpacho from Norway (of whom I already profiled here), Wolverine & Carptree from Sweden, Oceansize, Ayreon, and a quintet of 4 lads and a lass from Liverpool called Anathema.

After hearing snippets of their 2004 album A National Disaster album, I was hooked. Immediately found an import copy of it over at Amoeba Records and ever since that day, I never had the nerve to trade it in.

Anathema – such a strange name and probably a debate for subject of pronunciation. I first heard it pronounced as ANN – ATH- EMMA, but the current spelling on the promo sticker on their new 2017 K-Scope release suggests that it’s ANA – THEME – A.

BUT yet – dictionary.com INSISTS that it’s uh-nath-uh-muh    

I can already tell it’s going to be one of those “I say Sub -Mariner, you say SUBMARINE -ER. ” kind of things.

Dictionary defines the meaning of Anathema as thus:

  1. a person or thing detested or loathed:
  2. a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
  3. a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
  4. any imprecation of divine punishment.
  5. a curse; execration

How could anyone describe their music? I usually tell people who LATELY they sound something like as if Phillip Glass decided to wake up one morning and decided to wax off some ABBA covers (but the band members themselves would probably argue that it Tangerine Dream forced into a shotgun wedding with Talk Talk). But five albums later (and a long hiatus between 2004’s A National Disaster and their first album for K-Scope, We’re Here Because We’re Here in 2010 that had me worried on whether or not they decided to toss in the towel),they kind of throw some other musical type of trail mix such as electronica and folk into the blender, but most usually it isn’t an Anathema record these days without some monumental orchestra accompaniment.

The above video to “Closer” originally presented on 2004’s A Natural Disaster was what sold me to buy a one way ticket aboard the team Anathema bullet train. Recorded live at the ancient Roman theatre of Philippopolis for the live CD/DVD 2013 release, Universal– also available on K-Scope. 

One can attest that their surge in popularity (a theory I’m going to put to the test if and when I find out tickets are still available for the New York show in August I plan on flying out to attend) is that the writing between brothers Vincent & Daniel Cavanugh with drummer John Douglas has grown tighter or if its’ the addition of female vocalist Lee Douglas (brother to John) singing on its’ most heartfelt material that EVEN puts that overrated cow Adele to shame. I previously covered the velvety harmonizing and lead singing prowess of Lee in a previous K-scope entry wrote last summer here.

Personally I think their fame is chalked up to the fact that the band is more of a family affair which contributes to their endearing longevity. The band is led by three brothers, Vincent, Daniel, and Jamie and joined by two long time neighboring friends Lee and her brother John. The only outsider who joined the band after the release of their 2012 impeccable release, Weather Systems is keyboardist Daniel Cardoso.

They began life, believe it or not as a GOTH DEATH METAL band – much similar to other bands who have passed by the K-Scope roster that I’ve gravitated towards such as Ulver, Opeth, and Katatonia. (Anathema has toured with the latter two over the past few years) through the first five albums. It was until the release of 2001’s A Fine Day to Exit (which is essential that I need to pick up) that they began to attach themselves to a more alternative direction and referring back to the comparison I made earlier to Phillip Glass is a case of a minimalist approach to their writing. They love to make the music and lyrics as simplistic as they can with easy to memorize motifs that seem to aim towards a bombastic crescendo that can reach levels of euphoria that is rarely achievable in today’s music.

If you don’t believe me, you can ask former lead singer of Yes and now head maestro of ARW (Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman), Jon Anderson who by sheer chance, of wandering around a progressive rock theme cruise ship stumbled across their performance and was instantly flabbergasted that he nearly gobbled up their whatever they had available at their merch table.

And what bigger endorsement do you really need than that?

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This year the band released THE OPTIMIST just a mere few weeks ago on June 9th, their first release in three years TO THE VERY DAY that they released their previous album, DISTANT SATELLITES on June 9th 2014. Distant Satellites was very electronica heavy, this new album is more organic and done in takes with the band in the studio as whole with Mogwai producer Tony Doogan

The concept of the album of which I take the liberty of lifting from Wikipedia goes a little like this: The album reportedly follows the concept of the band’s 2001 release A Fine Day To Exit. According to band members Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh, the idea came from writing a narrative, culminating on what must have happened with the guy from that album cover. Vincent commented that “The guy who disappeared – you never knew what happened to him. Did he start a new life? Did he succumb to his fate? It was never explained. The covers of both albums also show its narrative connections, as the former contains a car in an empty beach during the day, and the latter a car in a road at night.

Anathema press session © Scarlet Page

Like I mentioned before, I’m hoping to see Anathema perform on the east coast – which will give me the perfect excuse to go see my mom out in New Jersey – but I’m just puzzled with all the tour dates they mention in support of the new album, that there no dates announced for the West Coast of the US, (It’s just Europe and the US east coast for now) since the concept of the album is allegedly supposed to take place in SAN FRANCISCO. I’ve seen them live once before at the El Rey Theatre back in 2013, when I just started working at SAG-AFTRA and I just happened to stumble across the theater while I was walking past it during a lunch break. I remember my eyes widening in disbelief reading the marquee – and it was a mid-week show and on a ‘school’ night. I remember that night real well, Anathema was the last out of three bands to perform that night and it was a mostly acoustic performance since all the members couldn’t get the proper visas to perform, but LEE DOUGLAS certainly made men fall to their knees that night with her flawless rendition of the 2004’s title track to A National Disaster (which was definitely a mandatory bic lighter flickering moment). And since they were stripped down to the main three core members of Daniel, Vincent, and Lee, we all didn’t get the full monty of that 2012 Weather Systems (which has since won many numerous European music awards and accolades. So as long as they remain in vogue, I’ll always be on the hunt for the full frontal electric assault of the Anathema concert experience – no matter what part of the globe it may take place on.

Overall, I feel as with previous other Anathema exciting album listening adventures, It’s safe for me to say that The Optimist, so far to ME with lovely Lee Douglas led songs such as “Ghosts” and “Endless Ways“, and Daniel and Vincent working that duo rocking minimalist melodic magic on “Leaving It Behind” Springfield” and “Can’t Let Go” – it’s another year running as the top contender when it comes to year end best lists. If the Optimist turns out to be an actual sequel to A FINE DAY TO EXIT, then it’s the best mystery revealed backwards.

If you’re reading this in Europe, make sure to check out the band in full faithful ferocious fury this weekend July 1 at the Be Prog My Friend Festival taking place in Barcelona, Spain.

 

 

 

 

The Stupendous Springtime Super Hero Slugfest Slammed Staggering Into Summertime.

19 Jun

Gotham

Here it is!! The final faceoff of the 2016 – 2017 comic book genre related shows in DVR dog day delays! AND as a special bonus – The list of winners and some streaming data details on Marvel’s Iron Fist performances (it wasn’t as bad as ratings pundits feared! But, in the long haul,  it wasn’t great either).

Everything should be easy this time around, since no comic book genre related shows premiered or aired on cable or any streaming platform during the May Sweeps, thereby freeing me to focus on simply the broadcast shows.  For some undetectable reason, its hard to track down 2016 – 2017 season averages for shows such as The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Legion on cable – they seem to be not calculated. Hopefully it won’t come down to pulling a figure out of my ass – but they do report that the 7th season finale of The Walking Dead that aired on April 2nd was the lowest rated finale since Season 2’s finale and that a season as a whole was down about 17% – 5.4 vs, Season 6’s 6.5

Also NOT included in the final round are episodes of DC Comics’ epic fail of situation comedy called “Powerless” which NBC cancelled back in mid April with probably a handful of episodes left unaired. It brought in CW type numbers as well as it does for the Arrowverse shows – but we all know, if you wanna play in the big league network, you got to bring in the big league network. The show itself, in my opinion had really no PANACHE, generic plain uninteresting super heroes pulled out of a lazy staff writer’s ass, and a complete cast of characters that had no chemistry whatsoever, not to mention REALLY FUCKING UNATTRACTIVE to look at (with the exception of perky  Vanessa Hudgens).

At this blog entry’s posting time, some of these shows are still finishing up their season finales such as Gotham & Lucifer (I just literally watched the season finale episode of Gotham yesterday on Hulu) & CW’s iZombie-  which still has two new episodes left to air. Fox delayed Gotham & Lucifer because they were trying to push a new kinetic energized version of 24 down everyone’s throats which failed to capture the diehard fans of the show who are still lamenting Kiefer Sutherland’s absence (of which fans will swear that he’s still sweating it out to the Russian gulag oldies,). I don’t know what iZombie’s deal is, but they had a similar situation with their first season when they aired their final episodes way into June.

So let’s begin.

Live +3

Top 25 broadcast shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for May 8-14, 2017

22. THE FLASH CW L +3 18 -49 rating 1.7  Gain vs. Live +SD 0.7  % gain vs. Live +SD 70%

Please watch your step and don’t skip on the bar.  Had a copy and paste mishap there.

Top 25 broadcast shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for May 15-21, 2017

23 THE FLASH CW  L +3 18 -49 rating 1.5 Gain vs. Live +SD 0.6 % gain vs. Live +SD 67%

24 GOTHAM FOX  L +3 18 -49 rating 1.4 Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5 % gain vs. Live +SD 56%

Top 25 broadcast shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for May 22-28, 2017

10. THE FLASHFINALE CW  L +3 18 -49 rating1.7 Gain vs. Live +SD 0.6 % gain vs. Live +SD 55%

13 GOTHAM FOX  L +3 18 -49 rating1.5 Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5 % gain vs. Live +SD 50%

16 LUCIFER FOX  L +3 18 -49 rating1.3 Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5 % gain vs. Live +SD 62%

Top 25 broadcast shows in Live +3 viewers for May 22-28, 2017

20 LUCIFER FOX L+3 viewers (000s) 4,543 Gain vs. Live + SD (000s) 1,508 % gain vs. Live + SD 50%

21 THE FLASH FINALE CW L+3 viewers (000s) 4,386 Gain vs. Live + SD (000s)1,347 % gain vs. Live + SD 44%

24 GOTHAM FOX L+3 viewers (000s) 4,152 Gain vs. Live + SD (000s)1,229 % gain vs. Live + SD 42%

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Live +7 Super Lightning Round

You know how this round goes, right? This particular faceoff is the one that makes and breaks show. The entire fate of the universe relays on this round – because this is the add up bringer of balance as when a show airs and a person actually gets to watch either on their DVR or mobile device within a seven-day window. Beyond that, you’re either stuck with watching the last five episodes of any given show with the hope you haven’t missed an episode OR as what Netflix is doing these days with the Arrowverse shows with posting every episode of a season online THE DAY AFTER the season finale has aired. Some people like to binge watch entire seasons on streaming platforms. I’ve gone off the reservation with how I feel about binge watching in a blog post last year, so I’m not going to go all judgmental on people who do this – but they must have tremendous will power to live their lives for nine months of the year TRYING TO BE SPOILER FREE – but in case of the mainstream episodes airing on broadcast, it’s water cooler talk at the office the very next morning. When the topics turn to shows such as The Walking Dead spoilers – THEN it’s time to use the water cooler DOWN the hall. because it’s a show I usually wait to show up on Blu Ray or DVD.

Luckily for me, The Walking Dead Season 7 Finale aired this past April 2nd, making it ineligible for this round.

So it’s just down to broadcast fisticuffs between nine other shows and they were great match ups. Whoever wins the week get a great consolation prize of A SWANSON’s TV CHICKEN DINNER presented by one of our scantily clad score card girl borrowed without kind permission of the cast of Gotham with the exception of future Catwoman Camren Bicondova, because she’s underage to prance around in her catnip Camille lingerie.

Good luck contestants!!

Here are the Live +7 rankings for May 1-7, 2017. The rankings include first-run series and specials only, not repeats.

Adults 18 – 49 – Total Gain

17. THE FLASH CW L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.8 7-Day Increase 0.8 7-Day % Increase 80%

18 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC L + SD 0.7 L + 7 1.4  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 100%

23. LUCIFER FOX L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.7  7-Day Increase 0.7  7-Day % Increase 70%

33. GOTHAM FOX L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.7  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 70%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

5. AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC L+SD 0.7 L +7 1.4 7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day %Increase 100%

7. IZOMBIE CW L + SD 0.3 L + 7 0.6 7-Day Increase  0.3  7-Day % Increase 100%

9. RIVERDALE CW L + SD 0.3 L + 7 0.6  7-Day Increase 0.3  7-Day % Increase 100%

23. THE FLASH CW L + SD 1.0 L + 7  1.8  7-Day Increase 0.8  7-Day % Increase 80%

24. ARROW CW L + SD 0.5 L + 7 0.9 7-Day Increase  0.4  7-Day % Increase 80%

25. SUPERGIRL CW L + SD 0.5 L + 7 0.9  7-Day Increase 0.4  7-Day % Increase 80%

Viewers – Total gain

25 LUCIFER FOX L+SD (000s) 3413 L +7 (000s) 5500 7-Day Increase (000s) 2087 7-Day % Increase 61%

Viewers – Percentage gain

4 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC L+SD (000s) 2149 L+7 (000s) 3752 7-Day Increase (000’s) 1603 7-Day % Increase 75%

7. SUPERGIRL CW  L+SD (000s) 1746 L +7 (000s) 3003 7-Day Increase (000s) 1257  7-Day % Increase 72%

9 THE FLASH CW  L+SD (000s) 2693 L +7 (000s) 4459  7-Day Increase (000s) 1766  7-Day % Increase 66%

12. IZOMBIE CW  L+SD (000s) 925 L +7 (000s) 1520  7-Day Increase (000s) 595  7-Day % Increase 64%

16. ARROW CW  L+SD (000s) 1387 L +7 (000s) 2243 7-Day Increase (000s) 856  7-Day % Increase 62%

18 LUCIFER FOX  L+SD (000s) 3413 L +7 (000s) 5500  7-Day Increase (000s) 2087  7-Day % Increase 61%

21. RIVERDALE CW  L+SD (000s) 977 L +7 (000s) 1555  7-Day Increase (000s) 578  7-Day % Increase 59%

tvdin11

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER goes to….Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD!!

Great performance in it’s 100% in total and percentage gain.

Here are the Live +7 rankings for May 8-14, 2017. The rankings include first-run series and specials only, not repeats.

Nine shows doubled their 18-49 ratings, with “iZombie’s” 133 percent gain leading the way.

Adults 18-49 – Total gain

13. THE FLASH CW L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.9  7-Day Increase 0.9  7-Day % Increase 90%

15. AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC L + SD 0.7 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.9  7-Day % Increase 129%

23. LUCIFER FOX L + SD 0.9 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.7  7-Day % Increase 78%

28. GOTHAM FOX L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.6  7-Day % Increase 60%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

1 IZOMBIE CW L + SD 0.3 L + 7 0.7  7-Day Increase 0.4  7-Day % Increase 133%

2 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC L + SD 0.7 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.9  7-Day % Increase 129%

6. ARROW CW L + SD 0.5 L + 7 1.0  7-Day Increase 0.5  7-Day % Increase 100%

10. THE FLASH CW L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.9  7-Day Increase 0.9 90%

19. LUCIFER FOX L + SD 0.9 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.7 78%

Viewers – Total gain

N/A

Viewers – Percentage gain

2 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC  L+SD (000s) 2138 L +7 (000s) 4018 7-Day Increase (000s) 1880 7-Day % Increase 88%

5 THE FLASH CW  L+SD (000s) 2706 L +7 (000s) 4627  7-Day Increase (000s) 1921 7-Day % Increase 71%

9 IZOMBIE CW  L+SD (000s) 967 L +7 (000s) 1580 7-Day Increase (000s) 613  7-Day % Increase 63%

10. SUPERGIRL CW  L+SD (000s) 1884 L +7 (000s) 3073  7-Day Increase (000s) 1189  7-Day % Increase 63%

14 ARROW CW  L+SD (000s) 1639 L +7 (000s) 2635  7-Day Increase (000s) 996  7-Day % Increase 61%

17. LUCIFER FOX  L+SD (000s) 3246 L +7 (000s) 5157  7-Day Increase (000s) 1911  7-Day % Increase 59%

19. RIVERDALEFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 962 L +7 (000s) 1517 7-Day Increase (000s) 555  7-Day % Increase 58%

tvdin11

WINNER, WINNER TV SWANSON’S CHICKEN DINNER GOES TOiZombie!! 133% is an incredible feat for a 7 Day % Increase nearly increasing its’ normal Same Day audience by more than half and no doubt this episode certainly cemented a 4th season renewal – so it’s deserving of a win.

Here are the Live +7 rankings for May 15-21, 2017. The rankings include first-run series and specials only, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – Total gain

9 THE FLASH CW L + SD 0.9 L + 7 1.8  7-Day Increase 0.9  7-Day % Increase 100%

12. AGENTS OF SHIELDFINALE ABC  L + SD 0.7 L + 7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.8  7-Day % Increase 114%

17. GOTHAM FOX  L + SD 0.9 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 78%

20. LUCIFER FOX  L + SD 0.8 L + 7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 88%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

2 AGENTS OF SHIELDFINALE ABC  L + SD 0.7 L + 7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.8 7-Day % Increase 114%

5. THE FLASH CW L + SD 0.9 L + 7 1.8  7-Day Increase 0.9 7-Day % Increase 100%

8. SUPERGIRL CW L + SD 0.5 L + 7 1.0  7-Day Increase 0.5 7-Day % Increase 100%

9. IZOMBIE CW L + SD 0.3 L + 7 0.6  7-Day Increase 0.3 7-Day % Increase 100%

12. LUCIFER FOX L + SD 0.8 L + 7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 88%

16 ARROW CW L + SD 0.5 L + 7 0.9  7-Day Increase 0.4 7-Day % Increase 80%

17 GOTHAM FOX L + SD 0.9 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 78%

Viewers – Total gain

19 LUCIFER FOX  L+SD (000s) 3046 L +7 (000s) 5096  7-Day Increase (000s) 2050 7-Day % Increase 67%

21 AGENTS OF SHIELDFINALE ABC  L+SD (000s) 2033 L +7 (000s) 4020  7-Day Increase (000s) 1987 7-Day % Increase 98%

22 THE FLASH CW  L+SD (000s) 2483 L +7 (000s) 4422  7-Day Increase (000s) 1939  7-Day % Increase 78%

Viewers – Percentage gain

2 AGENTS OF SHIELDFINALE ABC  L+SD (000s) 2033 L +7 (000s) 4020  7-Day Increase (000s) 1987  7-Day % Increase 98%

3 THE FLASH CW  L+SD (000s) 2483 L +7 (000s) 4422  7-Day Increase (000s) 1939 7-Day % Increase 78%

8 IZOMBIE CW  L+SD (000s) 862 L +7 (000s) 1448  7-Day Increase (000s) 586  7-Day % Increase 68%

10. LUCIFER FOX  L+SD (000s) 3046 L +7 (000s) 5096  7-Day Increase (000s) 2050 7-Day % Increase 67%

11. SUPERGIRL CW  L+SD (000s) 1929 L +7 (000s) 3219  7-Day Increase (000s) 1290 7-Day % Increase 67%

12. ARROW CW  L+SD (000s) 1444 L +7 (000s) 2384  7-Day Increase (000s) 940  7-Day % Increase 65%

24 GOTHAM FOX  L+SD (000s) 2976 L +7 (000s) 4566  7-Day Increase (000s) 1590  7-Day % Increase 53%

tvdin11

WINNER WINNER TV SWANSON’s CHICKEN DINNER GOES TO…. MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD. The fourth season finale topped the same two categories again as it did in the first round.

Here are the Live +7 rankings for May 22-28, 2017. The rankings include first-run series and specials only, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – Total gain

4. THE FLASHFINALE  CW  L + SD 1.1 L + 7 1.9  7-Day Increase 0.8 7-Day % Increase 73%

8. LUCIFER FOX  L + SD 0.8 L + 7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 88%

11. GOTHAM FOX L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.6 7-Day % Increase 60%

14, SUPERGIRLFINALE CW  L + SD 0.6 L + 7 1.1  7-Day Increase 0.5 7-Day % Increase 83%

15. ARROW FINALE CW  L + SD 0.6 L + 7 1.1  7-Day Increase 0.5 7-Day % Increase 83%

20. IZOMBIE CW  L + SD 0.3 L + 7 0.7  7-Day Increase 0.4 7-Day % Increase 133%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

2. IZOMBIE CW  L + SD 0.3 L + 7 0.7  7-Day Increase 0.4 7-Day % Increase 133%

6 LUCIFER FOX  L + SD 0.8 L + 7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.7 7-Day % Increase 88%

8. SUPERGIRLFINALE CW  L + SD 0.6 L + 7 1.1  7-Day Increase 0.5 7-Day % Increase 83%

9. ARROWFINALE CW  L + SD 0.6 L + 7 1.1  7-Day Increase 0.5 7-Day % Increase 83%

11. THE FLASHFINALE CW  L + SD 1.1 L + 7 1.9  7-Day Increase 0.8 7-Day % Increase 73%

13. GOTHAM FOX  L + SD 1.0 L + 7 1.6  7-Day Increase 0.6 7-Day % Increase 60%

Viewers – Total gain

6 LUCIFER FOX  L+SD (000s) 3035 L +7 (000s) 5103  7-Day Increase (000s) 2068 7-Day % Increase 68%

9 THE FLASHFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 3039 L +7 (000s) 4855  7-Day Increase (000s) 1816 7-Day % Increase 60%

11 GOTHAM FOX  L+SD (000s) 2926 L +7 (000s) 4587  7-Day Increase (000s) 1661  7-Day % Increase 57%

17 SUPERGIRLFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 2120 L +7 (000s) 3314  7-Day Increase (000s) 1194  7-Day % Increase 56%

21 ARROWFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 1715 L +7 (000s) 2673  7-Day Increase (000s) 958 7-Day % Increase 56%

Viewers – Percentage gain

2 IZOMBIE CW  L+SD (000s) 983 L +7 (000s) 1699  7-Day Increase (000s) 716 7-Day % Increase 73%

3 LUCIFER FOX  L+SD (000s) 3035 L +7 (000s) 5103  7-Day Increase (000s) 2068 7-Day % Increase 68%

8 THE FLASHFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 3039 L +7 (000s) 4855  7-Day Increase (000s) 1816 7-Day % Increase 60%

9 GOTHAM FOX  L+SD (000s) 2926 L +7 (000s) 4587  7-Day Increase (000s) 1661 7-Day % Increase 57%

10 SUPERGIRLFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 2120 L +7 (000s) 3314  7-Day Increase (000s) 1194 7-Day % Increase 56%

11 ARROWFINALE CW  L+SD (000s) 1715 L +7 (000s) 2673  7-Day Increase (000s) 958 7-Day % Increase 56%

tvdin11

WINNER WINNER SWANSON’S TV CHICKEN DINNER is awarded to….iZOMBIE again for topping two of the categories Adults 18-49  & Viewers Percentage gain. Who would’ve guess that iZombie, deep down in his heartless and mindless very low rated Live + SD hide there lurked the little show that could?

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And now for this year’s season’s end performances

All figures below are Live +3 ratings for original episodes during the Nielsen-measured TV season from Sept. 19, 2016-May 24, 2017. Episodes of shows that aired outside those dates are excluded, as are summer shows that aired episodes during the season.

52 Lucifer FOX Live +3 18-49 rating 1.6 Gain vs. Live +SD 0.6

54.The Flash CW Live +3 18-49 rating 1.6   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5

55. Gotham FOX  Live +3 18-49 rating 1.6   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5

69 Agents of SHIELD ABC  Live +3 18-49 rating 1.4   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.7

97. Supergirl CW  Live +3 18-49 rating 1.1   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.4

107 Arrow CW Live +3 18-49 rating 1.0   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.4

108. Legends of Tomorrow CW  Live +3 18-49 rating 1.0   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.4

120. Powerless NBC Live +3 18-49 rating 0.9   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.2

136. iZombie CW Live +3 18-49 rating 0.6   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.3

140. Riverdale CW  Live +3 18-49 rating 0.6   Gain vs. Live +SD 0.2

All figures below are Live +3 viewer averages for original episodes during the Nielsen-measured TV season from Sept. 19, 2016-May 24, 2017. Episodes of shows that aired outside those dates are excluded, as are summer shows that aired episodes during the season.

74 Lucifer FOX Live +3 viewers (000s) 5,405 Gain vs. Live +SD 1,730

88 Gotham FOX Live +3 viewers (000s) 4,671  Live +3 viewers (000s)1,321

102 The Flash CW Live +3 viewers (000s) 4,175  Live +3 viewers (000s)1,331

107 Agents of SHIELD ABC Live +3 viewers (000s) 3,848  Live +3 viewers (000s) 1,511

114 Supergirl CW  Live +3 viewers (000s) 3,352  Live +3 viewers (000s) 989

126 Powerless NBC Live +3 viewers (000s) 2,763  Live +3 viewers (000s) 466

128 Legends of Tomorrow CW Live +3 viewers (000s) 2,634  Live +3 viewers (000s) 818

131 Arrow CW Live +3 viewers (000s) 2,507  Live +3 viewers (000s) 749

139 Riverdale CW Live +3 viewers (000s) 1,572 Live +3 viewers (000s) 527

144 iZombie CW Live +3 viewers (000s) 1,374  Live +3 viewers (000s) 463

All figures below are live plus same-day ratings for original episodes during the Nielsen-measured TV season from Sept. 19, 2016-May 24, 2017. Episodes of shows that aired outside those dates are excluded, as are summer shows that aired episodes during the season.

65. Gotham FOX 18-49 rating 1.1 vs. 2015-16 -0.3 (-21.4%)

68. The Flash CW  18-49 rating 1.1  vs. 2015-16  -0.3 (-21.4%)

69. Lucifer FOX  18-49 rating 1.1 vs. 2015-16  -0.4 (-26.7%)

109 Agents of SHIELD ABC 18-49 rating 0.7 vs. 2015-16 -0.5 (-41.7%)

110. Supergirl CW 18-49 rating 0.7  vs. 2015-16 -1.0 (-58.8%) from CBS ratings; 1st season on CW

112. Powerless NBC 18-49 rating 0.7  vs. 2015-16 n/a

126. Legends of Tomorrow CW  18-49 rating 0.6  vs. 2015-16 -0.2 (-25%)

127. Arrow CW 18-49 rating 0.6  vs. 2015-16 -0.3 (-33.3%)

140. Riverdale CW  18-49 rating 0.4  vs. 2015-16 n/a

145. iZombie CW 18-49 rating 0.3  vs. 2015-16 -0.2 (-40%)

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All figures below are live plus same-day ratings for original episodes during the Nielsen-measured TV season from Sept. 19, 2016-May 24, 2017. Episodes of shows that aired outside those dates are excluded, as are summer shows that aired episodes during the season.

88 Lucifer FOX Viewers (000s) 3,715

98 Gotham FOX  Viewers (000s) 3,374

113 The Flash CW Viewers (000s) 2,843

119 Supergirl CW  Viewers (000s) 2,363

121 Agents of SHIELD ABC Viewers (000s) 2,337

122 Powerless NBC Viewers (000s) 2,297

134 Legends of Tomorrow CW Viewers (000s) 1,816

135 Arrow CW Viewers (000s) 1,758

140 Riverdale CW Viewers (000s) 1,045

146 iZombie CW Viewers (000s) 911

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All figures below are Live +7 adults 18-49 ratings for original episodes during the Nielsen-measured TV season from Sept. 19, 2016-May 24, 2017. Episodes of shows that aired outside those dates are excluded, as are summer shows that aired episodes during the season.

40 The Flash CW Live +7 18-49 rating 1.9 Gain vs. live +SD 0.8

46 Lucifer FOX Live +7 18-49 rating 1.8 Gain vs. live +SD 0.8

49. Gotham FOX Live +7 18-49 rating 1.8 Gain vs. live +SD 0.7

63 Agents of SHIELD ABC Live +7 18-49 rating 1.6 Gain vs. live +SD 0.9

97. Supergirl CW Live +7 18-49 rating 1.2 Gain vs. live +SD 0.5

106 Arrow CW Live +7 18-49 rating 1.1 Gain vs. live +SD 0.5

107. Legends of Tomorrow CW Live +7 18-49 rating 1.1 Gain vs. live +SD 0.5

116. Powerless NBC Live +7 18-49 rating 1.0 Gain vs. live +SD 0.3

130 iZombie CW Live +7 18-49 rating 0.7 Gain vs. live +SD 0.4

133. Riverdale CW Live +7 18-49 rating 0.7 Gain vs. live +SD 0.3

Now if I were to speculate where “Legion” and “The Walking Dead were to fit on this list, Walking Dead would be on the top of this list – LIKE WAY UP TOP and  “Legion” would be placed between iZombie & Riverdale. “Legion” has a way to go to be an actual contender – however, Emmy nominations just around the corner and FX is pushing awareness for this show to woo over academy voters.

All figures below are Live +7 viewer averages for original episodes during the Nielsen-measured TV season from Sept. 19, 2016-May 24, 2017. Episodes of shows that aired outside those dates are excluded, as are summer shows that aired episodes during the season.

73 Lucifer FOX Live +7 viewers (000s) 5,957 Gain vs. Live +SD 2,282

84 Gotham FOX Live +7 viewers (000s)5,160 Gain vs. Live +SD 1,810

94 The Flash CW Live +7 viewers (000s) 4,716 Gain vs. Live +SD 1,872

104 Agents of SHIELD ABC Live +7 viewers (000s) 4,398 Gain vs. Live +SD 2,061

113 Supergirl CW Live +7 viewers (000s) 3,754 Gain vs. Live +SD 1,391

126 Legends of Tomorrow CW Live +7 viewers (000s) 2,917 Gain vs. Live +SD 1,101

127 Powerless NBC Live +7 viewers (000s) 2,878 Gain vs. Live +SD 581

130 Arrow CW Live +7 viewers (000s) 2,805 Gain vs. Live +SD 1,047

139 Riverdale CW Live +7 viewers (000s) 1731 Gain vs. Live +SD 686

144 iZombie CW Live +7 viewers (000s)1564 Gain vs. Live +SD 653

ironfistheader

IRON FIST ratings (portions of this article was cut and pasted from Buzzfeed)

The superhero drama’s March 17 premiere was the most binge-watched this year for a Netflix drama, according to data from research firm 7ParkData, which measures number of streams on subscription video services. The company found that 54.7% of “Iron Fist” streams on the premiere date were of episodes three or higher. The average hour-long show on Netflix has a binge score of 46.9%.

“Iron Fist” also accounted for 14.6% of all Netflix streams on March 17 — the highest percentage of any series premiere that 7Park measured, topping  both“Marvel’s Luke Cage” (12.8%) and “Marvel’s Daredevil” Season 2 (13.8%),

7ParkData tracks viewership data for Netflix properties since the streaming service does not release such information. 7ParkData calculates these ratings by looking at a variety of data that includes actual streaming numbers and even social media chatter — but that which is only positive. According to their data on Iron Fist and the rest of the Marvel lineup, the “demand expressions” three days out hit 63,249,549. This is roughly six million below what Luke Cage registered last year, but considerably more than Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

However, it should be noted that while this is still a great launch for Iron Fist, it does mark the first time a new Marvel series failed to outperform its immediate predecessor. Daredevil launched to 23 million expressions, which Jessica Jones topped that with almost 51 million. Jones was then beat by Luke Cage‘s 69 million.

This is where the negative buzz may have factored in, as these 63 million expressions likely came from those who planned to watch regardless of the critical reception. If Iron Fist had earned more positive accolades, then it possibly could’ve surpassed Luke Cage’s performance. I guess we’ll have to wait until August’s premiere Marvel mini-series event, The Defenders to see if that mini-series becomes the top dog.

Next blog – due by the end of June, will focus on Liverpool’s progressive rock rookie troubadours, Anathema.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEROES OF KSCOPE MUSIC: And To the Bones of the V Blackfields Go I

31 May

Another repeat performance from an earlier blog and reprinted on the Dutch Progressive Rock Page concert review site spotlighting the collaboration between Israeli super pop star Aviv Geffen (and also one time host of Israel’s version of American Idol) and English mastermind remix engineer and songwriting keeper of the progressive rock flame, Steven Wilson who are collectively recognized throughout the free world as Blackfield.

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Blackfield released their fifth album, aptly titled Blackfield V last February of this year on the mighty Kscope Music label also founded by Steven Wilson. Blackfield has a sort of Beatlesque & late sixties pop sound to their music with a slight twinge of alternative rock. An average song is usually 3 to 4 minutes, although there has been some near 7 minute epics to close out albums. Most of the songs are written by Geffen, especially on the third and fourth albums (Welcome to my DNA and Blackfield IV), but however with this new record and with the first two records, they’ve been split down the middle with creative duties). The new album is co-produced by legendary producer Alan Parsons, making this the second time, the Pink Floyd visionary master engineer and songwriter in his own right has worked with Steven in producing Steven’s third album, The Raven Who Refused to Sing and Other Stories. A handful of demos that Geffen writes for the albums are sometimes written in Hebrew.

The songs on Blackfield V are structured differently from previous albums, as all thirteen tracks form a link or a concept themed around the ocean and the cycle of life. The album opens up with a short overture “ A Drop in the Ocean” performed by the London Sessions Orchestra that’s repeated through other parts of the album.

Family Man” – (no relation to the Mike Oldfield hit made popular by Hall & Oates) was the first single released from the album which is a very hard rocker unlike other singles they’ve released.

I wasn’t a big fan of the previous album, Blackfield IV, because of Wilson’s lack of involvement and the composition of only four songs. Most of the album was written and performed by Geffen with mainly unknown guest vocalists with the exception of Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh on the song X-Ray. Wilson’s cites work done on his solo albums that interferes with assuming full duties. With the new album, Wilson had dedicated his full 50% – but when it came to touring in support of the new album, Wilson opted to not to go out and promote it on tour claiming that heavy mixing had to be done on his upcoming album, To The Bone due for release this August as the obstacle causing him from going out on the road

And sadly, this domino effect drained my interest in listening to the new album any further. It makes no sense for Geffen to even go out and perform the album on his own if songs such as “Family Man” & “From the 44 to 48” are mainly Wilson’s songs to perform.

I don’t want hear Geffen performing them. To my ears, they would just sound wrong.

“Pariah” is a brand new track from the forthcoming ‘To The Bone” due for release on August 18th and it’s a duet with heart clenching Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb and it serves as a sort of homage to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’sDon’t Give Up” duet on Peter Gabriel’s platinum selling So album of which according to Wilson, was one of his favorite songs to come out of the 1980’s. Other direct influences that Wilson includes are Tears for Fears and Talk, Talk.

Steve Wilson probably, in my estimation made the decision not to release the new album on Kscope Music due to the last holiday mishap that caused its’ American distributor to suddenly, without warning close up shop with much of its’ catalogue lying in warehouse dock limbo. Blackfield V’s shipment that was slated for release around the same time it shipped to stores across Europe did not reach American independent stores until almost the end of this  past March. Steven is releasing his new platter in multiple formats through Caroline Records, which is a joint amalgamation of Capitol & Virgin records. It’s also the same label that Steven released most of his No-Man catalogue on.

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So as with past Wilson efforts be it whether it’s the new Blackfield, or Storm Corrosion, or a 5.1 surround remix and remaster of a classic 70’s progressive rock album Jethro Tull (Songs From the Wood out now!), Yes (Going for the One coming soon!) or King Crimson, Wilson’s 5th album is definitely the new shiny object to be chasing this summer. Hey, I even went and bought Chicago II that Steven remixed this past January – THAT’s how hard core I am about his body of work. 

The following is a reprint of a concert review of Blackfield I wrote back in 2007 in support of the then sophmore effort Blackfield II that was held on March 10, 2007 over at the now defunct Knitting Factory in Hollywood, Ca. Below is my original draft. To see how it came professionally for the Dutch Progressive Rock Page and read it here.

Blackfield

10th March 2007
Knitting Factory, Hollywood, USA

Blackfield at Knitting Factory, Hollywood - 10 March 2007

By
Cary Coatney
One has to got to hand it to Steven Wilson – he has singlehandly become of the few space age pioneers in the Progressive Rock World to operate his own name franchise. Like Norman Lear before him who went on a creative roll after successfully developing All in the Family for american television audiences as a flagship show that spawned a whole slew of spin-offs, Steven Wilson has done the same in the realm of Progressive Rock, leading the charge with Porcupine Tree. In his successful spin-off band, Blackfield, Wilson has sort of created his counter-part spin-off band ( a sort of Porcupine Tree – light, less fat and more filing in the three to minute song frame than most major leading 12 minute guitar solo  saturated high calorie epics)  in a similar way that the Jeffersons – Lear’s long running spin-off of All in the Family was able to “move on up” to carve an identity all its’ own.Other fractures of the same family tree, such as No-Man and Bass Communion  have branched off into their own entities while still retaining the flavor of the roots in the forbearing founders of Porcupine Tree comparable to Norman Lear as he went on to create less lasting fare such as Good Times and Maude.
I’ve been anticipating seeing Blackfield live for the past three years having been such a anomaly to put in an appearance on the US western coast. Twice in the past they have attempted to perform in the LA area, but it was rumored that most of the band had exceeded their work visas when those dates came around and thereby mostly stood confined to the east coast- therefore some cancelled causalities included gigs at the Roxy and The Key Club. Of course  another theory could have been lack of radio airplay on most alternative rock radio stations at the time when the first album came out.
So it seemed perseverance paid off in the end. Now with Blackfield II out – and a curious crowd of curiosity seekers (not to mention that we have one outstanding hell  of a Israeli populace multiplying out here in Los Angeles) – it was no wonder that Blackfield sold out their show they way they did. It was perspicacious on my part to get my tickets early- when I found out that my nomadic wandering Israeli neighbors from downstairs at my living digs (i.e. Hazeltine Hellhouse from my Rikki Lixxx days) constantly praise the political songs of Aziz Geffen by blasting his Hebrew language solo albums in the wee hours of the night. I told them that I was attending Blackfield’s performance and maybe coerce one of them in giving me a free ride to the gig but they had to work on some show of theirs on the other side of town.
So I had arranged to meet a date that night. And she was running late. She herself is a fabulous musician and songwriter and is lucky enough to have her debut album listed on www.burningshed.com , which is a distributor with connections to Steven Wilson. Julie Minasian (www.julieminasian.com )  called me frantically on my cell to let me know that she was on her way and probably wouldn’t be arriving to the show until maybe an hour later after it started. She pleaded with me to leave the ticket with the box office and have it at will call ( I don’t know if this procedure is even permissible- so I didn’t even want to risk it) – but I kept reassuring her that the queue to get in the door wasn’t even moving. Not budging one solidary inch.

 

The line was long and frustrating, especially when it says on the ticket that the doors are supposed to open promptly at 7:00 PM. Even the managers at the DSW Shoe Pavillion located in the same complex as the venue were busy pissing themselves because the line had extended all the way across the complex to the front entrance of their store and was blocking the ins and out of customers. It wasn’t long after until Julie arrived that the bouncers had finally started herding the cattle in-  at 8:45 PM!!

The only good thing about waiting in line for such a long while is that you can turn around and strike a conversation about prog rock sensibilities with most of your neighbors, despite the occasional rude interruptions by dumbass amateur ticket scalpers bleating you to fork over a ticket or to buy a ticket ( who when a random passersby on the street asks who was playing – they didn’t have a clue – they just sell tickets!!), but then that’s where speculation of rumors originate. Why was the venue letting us in so late? Someone said that due to the nationality of some of the members of Blackfield and the opening act Miss Flag – that there may have been a bomb threat made. A few members of the opening band, Miss Flag stormed out of the club and a women, immediately following behind started cursing about her boyfriend’s band not making the support band cut and just vehemently heaved her ticket at me: Who the hell is this Blackfield?  And what is it so special about them that they’re sold out??! – I tried to explain to her that half the duo, Aziz Geffen is a big political songwriter in Israel – of nearly superstar status. Others grumbled in the queue that Steven Wilson or the management just didn’t think the opening band could cut the Grey Poupon mustard during sound check. She just left in a huff, clutching her guitarist boyfriend’s arm for moral support.
I took her ticket and sold it to the one of the “meatheaded” scalpers for face value. Everyone got a chuckle out of that. That little odd twist of the guitar string fate helped fray my cost for the official tour t-shirt as soon as I walked in the door – where John Weasley, just a man and his guitar went on the ‘Front Bar” stage for a good tight twenty-minute six song set that included the last two songs, Sliver and Thanksgiving Day being accompanied by a lovely young local Los Angeles female vocalist by the name of Chris Bradley. perennial myspace page favorites, King of Seventeen and Johnny Drowning in Your Storm were also performed.
Then immediately after finishing a drinky-poo and sharing a basket of chicken strips with Julie, the house lights went down and the pulse pounding rhythmic sympatric tom-tom pattern opening of Once provided by Tomer Z reverberated throughout the hall. Immediately I knew from this moment onward for the next one hour and forty minutes: I was in very happy series spin-off elated state of bliss.
Out came Steven Wilson in a bright red shirt that looked like it had the Coke Cola emblem silkscreen on it – except it was spelled out in Hebrew as he exploded into the opening verse of Once – a song I’ve been listening endlessly (and playing on my keyboards for a while) on myspace. Then it was the second half of the songwriting duo Aviv Geffen’s turn to rock out on the track that features his lead vocals called Miss U – but actually it turned out that bass player Seffy Efrati was the one trying to steal the spotlight with his inane moonwalk bopping up and down motion that he had on several occasions almost collided with Steven. It was really a small stage to demonstrate any physical activity – so I had my fingers crossed that no one was going to get hurt on stage.
  With practically no banter going on during the entire show – Steven launched in one of the hold over tracks from the first album – the first performed was the title track Blackfield – which was good for Julie in a way because she doesn’t own the first album – so I had to tell her the names of the songs that were performed off that album ( the debut album is very hard to find out here – maybe Atlantic would consider re-releasing it on We Put Out- judging by the long wait to get inside here?). Then the band reverted back to the new album to perform Christenings – one of my favorites of the new compositions. It was at this point that I noticed that a lot of people knew most of the words to the new songs more than I did – having had freshly listened to it for the first time the previous day.  (over a nicely breathed bottle of Merlot– just like one of the CD reviewers said to do)  I guess purchasing your music off of Itunes pays off nowadays for few folks.

After running through Hole in Me – (my absolute fav from the first album ) we went back and forth between the two albums 1000 People was up next (minus the good synth part because it seemed that the keyboard player Daniel Salomen was strictly limited to what he could do or couldn’t do with only one keyboard in tow ), Pain immediately followed and Aviv took over the keyboard reins with a solo version of Scars. Then it was the sort of the second half of the show when Steven Wilson hooked up his acoustic guitar and furnished us all with a hauntingly beautiful stirring rendition of Alanis Morrisette’s Thank You. While all the single girls were practically creaming in their jeans over the sight of Steve’s larynx and pec muscles straining to belt this number out ( believe me, Julie was instantly mesmerized as well), I did not hesitate in going back to the concession table to purchase that on a single that Steve had pressed to sell at the shows ( # 6 in the Headphone Dust series).

Another great song from the new album, Epidemic was performed flawlessly. Great rocking tune that showcased Aviv going all punk with his vocals (not to mention a great hypnotic keyboard line). This got the best gauge from the audience in my opinion. Following Some Day – Steven actually spoke into the mike for the first time that evening and told a little tale of Aviv and his first collaboration together which became the opening track off the first album Open Mind.
 The last song of the set was the real kicker of the evening – it’s in my determination that this is the greatest writing that Steve and Aviv have done so far. The End of the World just made the whole set shimmer me with goosebumps all the way up and down my spine ( and I’ve just recently got over a case of the Shingles – so watch out!!) . I think both lyrically and melodically – this has made prog get off on a very good start in 2007. It was just magic to behold Aviv going all Roger Waters on us when he sung the entire last verse on his own.
The encore came swift and furious with 3 more additional numbers. Hello was slightly extended towards the end (what a great little ringtone this would make – would even work better as an outgoing machine on your answering machine) and then we segue back again to ….Once? Wait, I wasn’t experiencing de ja’ vu here, right? They played this one already! Maybe they finally ran out of stuff to play ( I noticed that This Killer was left off the set – maybe because it’s too much like Porcupine Tree with two of the band’s alumni contributing to the recording of this track?) – but I would’ve settled for hearing the bonus track from the first album, Perfect World performed live. However this second run through of the first song was slightly extended as it ended on Tomer Z’ s manic drum pattern repeated ad infinitum. Then the last song performed was Cloudy Now which I admit was not one of my favs off the evening- but hey, you can’t have everything.
Julie was grateful that it wasn’t such a long show as she had plans to fly out to Sacramento early the next morning – and plus we were put on daylight savings time alert that evening. As we were leaving the club, we ran into John Weasley;  demos were exchanged and I verified details about John’s set and all in all, we all had a very pleasant evening – despite the inconvenience that kicked  the events in motion.
Norman Lear be praised. Spin-off series can work in the realm of rock n’ roll.
John Weasley setlist:
Pretty
King of Seventeen
Please Come Back
Johnny Drowning in your Storm
Shiver
Thanksgiving Day (last two duet/ with local LA singer Chris Bradley.
Blackfield set list
1 Once
2 Miss U
3 Blackfield
4 Christenings
5 Hole in Me
6 1000 People
7 Pain
8 Scars
9 Thank You (Alanis Morrisette cover ) –
10 Epidemic
11 Some Day
12 Open Mind
13 My Gift of Silence
14 Where’s My Love?
15 End of the World (Aviv Geffen finally basks in his Golden Roger Waters moment for the last verse of this song)
encore
16.Hello
17.Once – extended version
18. Cloudy Now
 Forthcoming Heroes of Kscope Music segment will be focused on Anathema.

NOTHING ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS EVER REALLY FREE: The 2017 Edition

24 May

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Over at EARTH 2, my friendly neighborhood comic book specialty shop, I had a few words for my fellow comic book buying brethren who swarmed in like a dust cloud of locust to get their hands on any FREE COMIC BOOK DAY editions that they could. Their limit was to five copies per customer. Which is really generous, considering that nearly every other independently operated comic book store were handing out two per customer out of the 53 titles printed specially for this monumental celebratory day (the day after the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 movie was released and was slated to make 73 million buckeroos in a single day) which has been aptly designated as FREE COMIC BOOK DAY has been a tradition for the past decade and half and happens to fall on the first weekend in May whenever a major big budgeted comic book super hero movie is released).

BUT I found a surefire way to circumvent that 2 – 5 limit per customer (what is this? Last call at my local pissing hole?). For those who follow my blog on a regular basis, you pretty much know I followed the same YONDU colored blueprint as last year as chronicled in this two parter NOTHING IN LIFE OR ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS EVER REALLY FREE & NOTHING IN LIFE OR ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS EVER REALLY FREE – THE DRAMATIC CONCLUSION.

But I shall reiterate in smaller sound bytes this time around.

For the past previous years, I’ve become increasingly frustrated that for every FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, I had to visit at least seven to eight store in the Metropolitan Los Angeles area to accumulate at least half the offerings. From early Saturday AM, I would traverse from the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica to Hollywood to Culver City. I The whole arduous sojourn would take me from early morning to early evening. I noticed more stores would be cutting back on the limit of what a customer would take. OF COURSE I would take up the effort to least buy a little something to patronize their business. But by last year, I realized I’m up nearly to my mid-fifties and I’m quickly running out of stamina, I can’t go galvanizing all over the city to seven or eight store and only yield less than half of the available output. There had to be a better way.

And the answer had been staring me locally all this time. I knew Carr d’ Angelo, the owner of Earth 2 Comics in Sherman Oaks (and now a 2nd location in Northridge) for nearly two decades now. He opened the store near my house near the Sherman Oaks Galleria sometime in 2000 back when both owners of the store I used to manage in North Hollywood called Rookie & AllStars Cards & Comics LAUGHED at me when I said that SHERMAN OAKS, the hot HOLLYWOOD AGENT capital of the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY  would be the best venue to open a comic book shop in (where the hell are they supposed to park without paying the meter??). When word spread that EARTH 2 was packing in customers by the truckload, just by the sheer volume of WALK-IN TRAFFIC, it was I who had THE LAST LAUGH. As previously mentioned, Carr had been generous enough to allow 5 copies of FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITIONS per customer. IF YOU WANTED more, Carr simply whipped a jar full of dollar donations to the charity organization who call themselves THE HERO INITIATIVE – which is an organization that Wikipedia states more eloquently than I:

The Hero Initiative, formerly known as A Commitment to Our Roots, or ACTOR, is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. Founded in late 2000 by a consortium of comic book and trade publishers, including Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Wizard Entertainment, CrossGen Comics and Dynamic Forces Inc., the 501(c)(3) charity aims to assist comic creators with health, medical, and quality-of-life assistance.”

The Hero Initiative utilizes many methods of fundraising. Foremost is their annual art auction, auctioning donated original comics art-work at fan conventions. Year-long, they sell donated art and special edition comics at conventions and through the Dynamic Forces website. Artists, writers, and publishers are invited to donate work, and fans are invited to donate money directly to the fund. ACTOR also sells a green Excelsior! wrist-band similar in design to the Livestrong wristband.”

Also, they are the developers of the Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award given out each year at the Baltimore Comic Con Harvey Awards. Their headquarters is based in West Los Angeles.

I became lured to their cause, because it’s one that identifies with me. I, too had moments of despair in the early nineties when I thought back to my twenties living the California dream wasting away many valuable brain cells to the beach life of San Diego and thinking just because I had it good with a sound engineering gig in North San Diego didn’t necessarily mean that had the chops to make it in Los Angeles. So after a year of failure, I came back penniless to live on the beaches of San Diego, realizing those who once took me in ended up throwing my panhandling carcass out to sea. I couldn’t get my old place and job back, so after three weeks of sleeping on the beach, a friend of mine ran into me by chance and let me stay with him until I got my shit back in order. It was at his little cottage in Ocean Beach that I turned back to my first true love: reading and writing comic book scripts. In 1992, I got a letter published in Comics Buyer’s Guide and that sort of launched me into a new direction. And when I raised enough money to give LOS ANGELES a second try, IT WAS THESE letters that I had gotten published in CBG that won over these wo sixty- something year old businessmen who were opening a comic book shop and they began relying on my historical knowledge of silver and bronze age comic books (not to mention my skills of navigating through a price guide) that helped planted the mold.

Another key motivator in my support for the HERO Initiative was going to several giant conventions, most likely Comic Con International in San Diego, that I would run by their booth and you would get to see comic book professionals such as Peter David, Jim Valentino, and Mark Waid help out, BUT it was writer Steve Perry (not the singer from the band Journey) whom I often see managing the booth who clutched my heartstrings. Perry, once the writer of many animated episodes of Thundercats, Silverhawks, and Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the creation of Time Spirits, an Epic/Marvel comic book series, was found tragically decapitated by his roommate and girlfriend in his home state of Florida. Perry was nearly dead broke (blame it on animation writers not getting their due residual payments). Perry relied upon help from the HERO INITIATIVE for him and his young boy when he was nearly destitute himself.

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So I proposed to Carr last year, in exchange for the ENTIRE LOT of Free Comic Book Day editions – which I know he orders all that are available, why don’t I contribute a GOOD sized donation of more than $100 to the Hero Initiative? That way, I feel I’m doing good to give back to the comic book community that has spawned me? I have the cushy Hollywood position that I’ve searched highland and Hollywood boulevard low for – I can do it as long as I remain GAINFULLY EMPLOYED.  Last year, I donated in cash $120.00. This year I went for $150.00 as you can see by the picture up above of the money order/cashier’s check I bought from my bank to show that I MEAN BUSINESS.

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FREE COMIC BOOK DAY could also be looked upon as PILOT SEASON for most comic book publishers, as its’ timing coincidently falls in lockstep with most cable and television networks rolling out their schedules for next fall as they delve deep into hoping with lavish parties and giveaways (i.e.; SWAG!!) in presentations that they like to refer as the UPFRONTS that will hopefully entice you to tune into their new shows. FREE COMIC BOOK DAY is in most ways designed for me to sample the new wares and to be talked about as the big man among this summer comic book convention circuit. I wouldn’t have become fan of either IDW Publishing’s ROM or Archie Comics’ The Black Hood had I not read them first in FCBD sample form

So, anyway – rather than go through the rigmarole of making this a two-parter like I did last year, I’m just going to go through the pile of what I’ve read so far of this year’s sacrificial four-color digital offerings and say a few words.

It seems as less companies got less involved this year. There were only fifty-three titles available this year. A couple of companies who I wish would have got involved with prepping up some pilot presentations would have been Aftershock Comics (who publish their high quality wares DIRECTLY across the street from Earth 2. I’m particularly fond of two titles from their line, Rough Riders – which is a secret society historical super team up of President Theodore Roosevelt, Houdini, Thomas Edison, Calamity Jane, and Casey Jones,  and then there is American Monster by 100 Bullets creator Brian Azzarello – which is details the tragic events of a Viet Nam veteran who’s been physically transformed from the devastating effects of Agent Orange comes back to his southern hometown for revenge on those who did him wrong before enlisting.

I sorely lament no Hermes Press edition of collected Phantom stories from the Charlton and Gold Key eras this year.

And just once, JUST once, I wish Titan Comics would stop it with a DOCTOR WHO edition every year. In case you missed it, I was all a flutter with their new line of comics based on their crime mystery novels that the London company publishes called the Hard Case Crime Comics line. In the previous set, they published two mini-series based on popular Hollywood director and writer Walter Hill’s unmade film, Triggerman and one mini-series based on his new LOWLY distributed movie based on the screenplay of The Re-Assignment starring Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez about a mob hitman who forcefully undergoes a sex operation (I haven’t seen it yet. It went in and out of theaters within a week out here in LA). There was also a series by Christina Faust called Peepland, its’ last issues still buried someplace in my independent must read pile.

Also to note, it seemed that a lot more of the big companies doubled down with the their FCBD editions. DC Comics had two different variations of Wonder Woman to offer in anticipation of the new movie with a reprint of Wonder Woman Rebirth Issue 2 and the kid friendly Super Hero Girls. Archie Comics wants to make sure you’re really checking out the new Riverdale series by proposing you check out the Riverdale special edition (which could be handy as a series guide as the book lists profiles of the characters in the show) and a Betty & Veronica reprint of issue one of that stand alone series. In addition to Doctor Who from Titan, there was a Monster High edition for the kiddies. Dark Horse gives out a two-fer in the so-so debut of the world of Avatar by Sheri Smith and Doug Wheatley with Brian Wood’s Brigg’s Land as back up and another book with Buffy The Vampire Slayer with a back up featuring video game favorite Plants & Zombies. For the hard-core anime enthusiasts, Viz Media passed out one book on Dragon Ball Z and another featuring Zelda: Twilight Princess. Papercutz showed what they’re doing lately with the Nickelodeon Brady Bunch x 2 inspired The Loud House written by the animated show’s creator Chris Savino and another featuring Barbie, which gave me the oddest looks from fellow subway riding commuters when they caught me reading it.

Just remember: there’s nothing really bad to say about any of the titles. All took tremendous work and tender loving care to put out with hardly any ample compensation from the creative top to the local neighborhood retailer who’s most likely taking a financial hit in order to present the book to-day for zero profit. All genres were well covered this year, there was a book for practically everyone this year and if you are a giant fan of diversity – such as I am, you were definitely a happy camper.

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Let’s get the preliminaries out the way. We all know that they was the big grubby grabber. Stores were probably giving them out by the truckload. I haven’t had the chance to read it. I assume it takes place between issues 1 & 2 of the mini-series which is still in my Marvel reading stack – so that’s where I stuck it.  Marvel also released a Guardians of the Galaxy FCBD edition to herald the debut of new writer Gerry Duggan and to break in the fans of the movie franchise. Again, that went in my Marvel reading stack in the GOTG sub category which also includes a Jim Starlin mini-series and a couple of GOTG Vol 2 related one shots that I haven’t touched yet.

I’d like to go on a whole spiel of how I think it’s stupid for both the comic book industry professional and the public to constantly throw writer Nick Spenser under the proverbial bus, but I might have to save that until the Secret Empire mini-series is in full swing (as of this posting, the series has had a zero issue and two issues out of nine) and I’m just sick and tired of this event series getting the worse possible publicity reported and commented on by people WHO ARE NOT READING THE GODDAMN THING and all seem to be lately but Trump supporters who are suddenly experts on everything that is Captain America. I’m going to weigh in on this topic in a later blog during the summer that I’ll probably won’t get around to writing until Comic Con rolls around.

So onward to the books I’ve enjoyed the most and honorable mentions to those that were published in the same genre that I probably liked or didn’t liked, however since they were free – THEY’RE ALL GOOD!! So technically, there’s really no stinker amongst the batch.

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Skottie Young – once upon a time Rocket Raccoon artist provided us with “I Hate Image” one shot featuring Fairyland girl killing off every last one of those Image super dork doofuses that’s ever existed even the entire cast of the Walking Dead, that is, if anyone is still keeping track. Image also passed a separate pamphlet of a glimpse into the kid friendly Kid Savage graphic novel by Man of Action’s Joe Kelly and artist Ilya, which is sort of cross between Quest of Fire and Lost in Space.

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DC Comics gave out the debut issue of Superhero Issue (little knowing that it was based on a series of Youtube shorts made specially by WB Animation. Both the one shot from last year and the animated shorts was such a success that it spawned an animated series on Cartoon Network and a popular series of YA novels. Unfortunately, since I was committed to stopping at other stores in the San Fernando Valley, I missed the creative team of Shea Fontana and Yancy Labat coming by later in the afternoon to Earth 2 to get my copy signed.

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As revealed in this comic book issue, HILDA is on its’ way to becoming a Netflix series. Since I’m already a big fan of GON, another independent comic book property brought to CGI animated life to stream on Netflix, I’ll definitely be in the queue to check this out as well.

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There was a massive crowd waiting outside Earth 2 that Saturday morning because one of the actors from the show that the comic was based on was signing copies (was it Randall Park? I wasn’t sure, since I’m not a big fan of sitcoms. And you can yell at me until you’re blue in the face and call me an idiot LIKE MY SISTER DOES for not watching a single episode of Big Bang Theory. I fucking loathe all sitcom shows with laughtracks.) Boom! Entertainment also gave out a book with a trio Hodge podgy tales featuring the ever flawless Mouse Guard by David Peterson, Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes & Selina Espirtu, & ending with Coady and the Creepies by Liz Prince & Amanda Kirk.

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Out of all the kids related titles – the lead story in this issue was my favorite. It was an undersea tongue in cheek homage to the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY event in itself with a lot of heart and humor ending with a lesson in humility of Free Comic Book Day itself  Bongo Comics also released its’ traditional Simpsons free for all comic and American Mythology Comics is currently  breathing new life into Casper, the Friendly Ghost & the rest of the Harvey Comics gang along with long time Saturday morning cartoon stalwarts, The Pink Panther and the brand new Underdog comic book series, who’s photo graces the introduction of this entry.

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The appearance of Miraculous entices me to either check out the dvds I see selling for cheaply at your neighborhood Target or see streaming on Netflix. I am sorely in need of some summer Saturday cartoon fare. Other dishwasher safe fare also included IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that sort of serves as a jumping ground for new readers as the main story contains a little background intelligence of practically each major and minor TMNT character who’s ever graced all its’ multiple publishers and series. New England Comics held its’ 6th annual FCBD issue of the Tick. Instead of Grumpy Cat last year, Dynamite Entertainment is trying to lure young viewers who are fans of the online game of Animal Jam to read up on its comic book adventures. Tokoyopop has The Descendants – which is a Disney property detailing the adventures of the children of Disney villains Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Jafar, & The Evil Queen and the good they try to do in their evil predecessors’ rampaging wake   I wasn’t aware that Disney had licensing out their characters for manga, but apparently there are plans for more on the way.

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This issue was a treat as well. The creations in this book: Moomin & the Brigands, Anna & Froga, Elise Gravel, & Kitaro could easily be at home on Adult Swim.  Drawn & Quarterly also doubled down with a truly Middle Eastern slice of life in real life despair with the double feature book, Guy Delisle’s Hostage & Brigette Findally’s “Poppies of Iraq” which was fascinating insight that brought back memories of haunting lessons once learned in Joe Kubert’s Fax from Sarajevo graphic novel.

Speaking of Adult Swim, One Press has been publishing comic books based on the cult hit, Rick & Morty, which is going to take some getting used to since I just literally started watching the series on Hulu. I wonder if Oni Press has the drunken courage to publish a series based on The Venture Bros?

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This free comic book day gave us two rare looks into some European imported fare. Above is Tex: Patagonia imported from Italy courtesy of Epicenter Comics by Mauro Boselli and Pasquale Frisenda is a Western based comic book that goes back decades – was PROBABLY one of the influences to Sergio Leone in creating the Clint Eastwood starring spaghetti westerns.

Below, is a Humanoids FCBD short glimpse presentation into the world of The Incal by visionary French artist Moebius and Chile writer Alejandro Jodorowsky (Metal Hurlant Magazine). Alejandro also wrote a few episodes for the French/Belgium anthology series Metal Hurlant Chronicles that used to air for two seasons on the Syfy channel that was loosely based on the magazine of the same name that translates into Heavy Metal out there in the States. Jodorowsky once attempted to outdo David Lynch in a disastrous 15 hour remake of Dune with a proposed soundtrack to be recorded by Pink Floyd and H.R. Giger sketched storyboards that only ended up flopping like a dried up sand worm fished out of a dune from a Miami golf course on the cutting room floor and was recently chronicled in the documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune”.

Today, the Incal could probably made faster and cheaper. Years, after its’ original graphic novel publication, The John Difool god chasing science fiction opus still holds fresh to this very day.

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Besides, who would be stupid enough to resist free Moebius??

Other international adventure inspired books were the 2nd annual Attack on Titan by Kodansha Comics with a brand new original story by Valiant Comics’ Faith writer Jody Houser and artist Emi Lenox. Personally, I’m one of those johnny anime come lately by getting into this show last year on Netflix. The second season is up and running and I’m waiting for it to show up on either Hulu or Netflix.

Youneek Studios offers up the first chapter of their Game of Thrones invigorated Malika, Warrior Queen. But sadly, that’s all it comes off as: a black person’s guide to Game of Thrones with the title character coming off as African version of Daenerys Targaryen.  Still, the ads in the back of the book sate my curiosity into their other concepts of African superheroes in their respective titles of Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams and Windmaker that’s somehow supposed to connect to this book.

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Perhaps the most ingenious concept to grace the FCBD in a freebie is a Red 5 comic featuring KEYSER SOZE, the legendary mystery man explained by actor Kevin Spacey in the Bryan Singer directing debut movie, THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Now that’s what I call digging deep into the well of licensing properties for a comic book series also features a back up of a World War II time travel adventure, The Rift which is based on some Hollywood project that involves actor Jeremy Renner – but the only listing I see on imdb for it is a Russian imported film that’s also science fiction based, but has something more to do with a monster invasion than time travel.IMG_0342

A couple of years back, local San Fernando Valley artist Joe Benitez debuted his steampunk bad girl Lady Mechanika in a FCBD edition. I was impressed enough to finally catch up to in his two full graphic novel editions when I suddenly sprouted amnesia standing in front of his table over at this year’s Wonder Con in Anaheim. HOWEVER, I regained my mental facilities JUST in time to hand over $20 for the two gloriously glossy looking volumes that. This edition reprints the same lead story from the last edition that won me over, but the second half of this edition has previews of upcoming projects such as a peek into the third trade and two new mini-series debuting this summer.

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I was harping earlier about how Titan Comics would’ve perhaps made good with the FCBD format to energize some new fans to gravitate towards their Hard Case Crime line, if they had done a sampler of their upcoming line including the new adaptation of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo novel or the Cinemax series, Quarry – but I guess F2 Comics provided the next best thing with this crime noir-ish tale written by Gabe Sunia and illustrated by Warren Pleece that takes place mainly in the dark hidden hills of Hollywood and Laurel Canyon – which is the BEST EVER SETTING for any Los Angeles based mystery. And all this crazy murder and racketeering over the rights to a jazz song.

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a sneak peek into Star Trek: The Next Generation offers a diabolical reflection of the new mini-series based on the sequel to the original show. I thought the show already covered this type of parallel universe, but IDW Publishing is revamping it with new costume designs for our happy Enterprise crew doppelgangers. Star Trek comics are not really my food replicating cup of tea, but I tip my hat to editor Chris Ryall for making me a fan of both ROM and Micronauts, a habit that was started for me by last year’s IDW Publishing comics.- both titles are still on my regular pull list.

Wrapping up, since I’m pressed for time:

more sci-fi treats abound in The Looking Glass Wars Crossfire from Automatic Publishing

Antarctic Press gave out Steam Wars: Strike Leader.

Dillion aka 2000AD offered up more Judge Dredd hijinks in the only title given out with bonus DIGITAL CONTENT (which I haven’t had time to access yet).

Chapterhouse resurrects Canadian super hero Captain Canuck in his very own one shot with a Die Kitty Die back up.

The Overstreet Guide to Collecting tells us for the umpteenth time on how to collect and store our comics.

Valiant has a X O Manowar freebie, that’s going to be read when I get around to reading my Valiant Comics care package I received at Wonder Con.

Help the CBLDF…defend comics has a lead story called Rock Stars by Jeffrey Brown is about a the discovery of prehistoric drums found in a caveman’s cave, which I don’t understand what it has to do with the defending of civil rights in the comic book industry.

Udon Capcom Comics, Street Fighter. Ho hum.

Zenescope, Grimm Fairy Tales. Double Ho-hum

If you’re a big fan of Stranger Things on Netflix, I recommend reading First Second’s preview of Scott Westerfield’s “Spill Night“. Ten Speed bike fighting black ink monsters. You can’t go wrong with that.

Oni Press – in addition to the Rick and Morty special, there was also a Bad Machinery comic by John Allison offered up a second helping by the Portland, Oregon area publisher.

Finally, Lion Forge Comics previewed “Catalyst Prime, a Christopher Priest penned independent sci-fi government and space program series that’s just as good as Warren Ellis’ work on DC’s Wild Storm. Definitely interested in checking out more.

Next week – more crazy Steven Wilson shenanigans with the double two punch release of his collaboration with Aviv Geffen on the recent released Blackfield V and his upcoming 5th solo album, To the Bone, slated for released before the end of this summer.

By the way, almost all of the FCBD editions were sponsored by:

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