Archive for June, 2008

Best New Bands

In a recent post on his blog, John Scalzi asked his readers to tell him what new music or artists they’re listening to these days, with the following rules:

For the purposes of this discussion, “new” is defined to mean:

1. The artist/band started publicly releasing music (or alternately made their major label debut) after January 2005;


2. The artist/band started publicly releasing music (or alternately made their major label debut) after January 2003, but you only heard about them in the last year.

I posted a long comment over there, but thought it was worthwhile posting here as well. So here it is:

I listen almost exclusively to metal, so I don’t have much in the way of recommendations outside of that sphere, but there’s a rock band called Priestess that I like a lot. Their first album, Hello Master, came out in 2006. It’s got some really nice guitar-driven stuff on it, which is not surprising given I discovered them via Guitar Hero.

Now, into metal:

My favorite discovery included in this batch is a band called Eluveitie (pronounced El-way-tea). They’re Swiss, their name is a word in Etruscan, and some of their vocals are in Gaulish (the rest in English). They kind of sound to me like early In Flames, but with a bad-ass flute player. Seriously, this is the most metal a flute has ever been. They’re what you call “folk metal” or “pagan metal,” which blends the playing of traditional folk instruments (bagpipes, flute, hurdy-gurdy) with death metal.

Another fine folk metal band is Korpiklaani (2006). Similar to Eluveitie, but a bit more inclined toward drinking song-type songs. Also, more accordion.

Draconian are deemed a “gothic/doom” metal band. They mix traditional doom/death vox with more traditional “clean” singing from a female vocalist. They’ve got albums going back to 2003, but I just discovered them this year, plus they probably still haven’t had what you’d call a “major” label debut.

Scar Symmetry, a melodic death metal band, with a single vocalist who does some of the best good cop/bad cop vocals I’ve ever heard. His death vox are about as brutal as the guy from Dethklok, but his clean vox qualify as actual good singing.

Two power metal bands I really dig (power metal basically being music with instrumentation similar in complexity to death metal, but with clean singing vocals, like Iron Maiden) are Dark Empire (2006) and Communic (2005). These two would probably be the most accessible (other than Priestess) to non-metal fans of all the bands I’ve mentioned.

Actually, I may have been hasty in proclaiming Eluveitie my favorite recent discovery–there’s also Protest the Hero (2006). They’re generally considered a “metalcore” band, though to me they really stand out from that pack, mainly due to the insane complexity of their guitarwork. Also, their first “major” album, Kezia, is a concept album which Wikipedia describes as “the elegy of a young woman after whom the album is titled. The story is chronicled in the perspective of three characters: The Prison Priest, The Prison Guard/Gunman, and Kezia herself. Each character is designated a section containing three songs, with a single retrospective finale concluding the album.” Their follow up to Kezia, Fortress, is equally awesome.

So, what new awesome bands do you guys like?

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Vampire Reprint Anthology

Hot on the heels of my announcement that I’ll be editing a reprint anthology of dystopian fiction for Night Shade Books, I’m happy to announce that I’ll also be editing a reprint anthology of vampire fiction for them. It’s tentatively scheduled for publication in late 2009, so my deadline for recommendations would be around September 1, 2008, though the sooner the better. As with my previous reprint anthology projects, to assist me in assembling this volume, I’ve setup a database to solicit recommendations from readers and writers of vampire fiction.

I’ve got the entry form duplicated on a page here on my blog, but the homepage for the database can be found at, so if you’re going to spread word of the database (and please do!) please use that URL. Meanwhile, the spreadsheet displaying the recommendations can be viewed at

BTW, it doesn’t have a title or even a tentative title yet, so if you want to suggest one of those too, feel free!

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Mid-Afternoon With Conan O’Brien

When I was doing my “what I’ve been up to” roundup post the other day, I completely forgot about one of the very cool things I did: I attended a behind-the-scenes taping of Late Night With Conan O’Brien. My friend Andrea Kail works for the show as a script supervisor, so she was able to get me and pals Amy, Rob, and Brian into the control room during taping. I’ve gone to see the show live in the audience before, but this was the first time I went and did the backstage tour.

We arrived super early by accident, so Andrea parked us in her office, where we hung out while she ran off to … supervise the scripts, I guess. When the time came to enter the studio, we learned that Tim Russert had just died, and so the crew were in a frenzy, making last minute changes to the show so that Conan could address the news. (Keep in mind that though Conan airs late night, it tapes at around 4 PM.) So they bumped Conan’s monologue and inserted a brief eulogy by Conan. Much of their frantic work consisted of finding the right clips of Russert on the show to air.

Otherwise, the show seemed to go quite smoothly, and it was fun to sit back and watch. NY Giants sackmaster Michael Strahan was a guest, along with comedian D. L. Hughley. Strahan freaked Conan (and everyone else) out by bending his fingers in ways no fingers should bend (his do because of his numerous injuries). D. L. said lots of funny things, and then another comedian did some standup, which was pretty funny as well.

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What I’ve Been Up to Lately

image I’ve had an interesting past week or so.

Last weekend, my friend Amy Tibbetts came down for a visit, along with her Odyssey-classmate Brian. I did a lot of walking around Manhattan with them and The Geek Posse. I got an extended tour of Battery Park and Central Park for the first time, having only previously walked through small parts of each. I have to say, both are pretty impressively designed, and the architecture around Battery Park is pretty futuristic-looking.

On Thursday, I drove into Manhattan for the first time (all previous trips having been via mass transit). I also traveled through the Holland Tunnel for the first time. I didn’t actually travel *far* into Manhattan; my destination was right near the tunnel, but even so I felt like I got much of the NYC driving experience. It’s a crazy place.

The purpose of my trip into the city was to help Gordon and Ellen Datlow clean out the storage locker of the late editor Robert Legault. As payment for my services, I was allowed to go through the boxes of books we took away and take whatever I wanted. I ended up with about three boxes worth, though only because I tried to restrict myself to taking only anthologies (though a few novels slipped in). I didn’t know Robert, but I felt like I got to know him a bit, between going through his collection and talking to Ellen and Gordon.

On Friday I headed back into the city for Pinchbottom burlesque, which has become a regular activity of mine, thanks to NYC culture queen Liz Gorinsky. This time around, it was Indiana Jones themed, as you might guess from the image there. It’s titled: “PINCHBOTTOM and the Raiders of the Temple of the Kingdom of the Golden Boobs of Doom Crusade.” How could anyone pass up on that? In truth, it wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped it to be (I had high expectations), but it was a lot of fun, as their shows always are. Prior to the show, I came up with a totally awesome idea: Apocalesque!

Friday night, I crashed at my pal Rob Bland’s place, then alternately hung out with him/did some work on my laptop during the morning and early afternoon on Saturday before meeting up with pal David Barr Kirtley, whereupon the three of us went to see The Incredible Hulk. I found the movie mostly entertaining, but ultimately it didn’t quite work for me.

Later that evening, we met up with the geek posse for the second installment of Movie Night at Rob’s™. Our first MNaR event consisted of a Sixteen Candles/Robocop double feature, inspired by the fact that several of us had not seen Sixteen Candles, and one of us–appallingly–had never seen Robocop. This time around, we had intended to do a double-feature of Fight Club and Gattaca (planned upon learning that Rob of MNaR’s fame had never seen either). We got off to a bit of a late start, however, and Fight Club is more than two hours long, so we only managed the one flick. I hadn’t seen FC in quite a while, but it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. After the movie we had a bit of an impromptu panel discussion about the film, which kind of made me feel like I was at a convention. 

On Sunday, I headed over to the Met with Dave Kirtley to check out the new exhibit Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, which focuses on the costumes of superheroes. The exhibit runs through September, but on Sunday the was a series of lectures by comic book writers and artists and academics. The exhibit itself is pretty small, but it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in seeing superhero costumes brought to life. (In the three-dimensional sense, not in the Spiderman’s living black costume sense.)

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You are using Vader’s defense against me, ah?

The Princess Bride + Lightsabers = Awesome. Behold:

A fitting mash-up, considering Luke could have basically said the same dialogue as Inigo when he battles Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back. Of course, if Count Rugen had turned out to be Inigo’s father, that would have been a very different kind of twist.

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