Robert Wm. Gomez's

September 2014

Weekend by Kim Savage (6/10)

A fairly blah read from Vixen Press. This one is pretty short on plot and lacks the hardboiled edge that I usually like in these pulp novels. Read an excerpt

Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim on PC (10/10)

Skyrim: Gettin' Some Sun

In terms of overall game-play, Skyrim stays pretty close to the system Oblivion used. You roam a giant open-world map, revealing new locations to explore as go. Along the way you receive quests that you can complete at your own leisure. Therein lies the danger of this game: it is easy to get distracted and veer off from your goals and before you know it you've wasted twenty hours just trying to level up your blacksmithing or collect ingredients. I have already sunk 126 hours into this game, completing most of the main quests, and there's still the urge to keep playing. I think I "only" managed to log about 95 hours in Oblivion.

The Pod by Ween (7/10)

Format: 
CD

The record is what happens when a band comprised of talented stoners is tasked with creating an LP's worth of music but is not given any editorial oversight. There are a few good songs and plenty of hilarious, quotable passages ("Pollo Asado" comes to mind). However, there are also quite a few forgetful stinkers. In re-listening to this for the first time in a while there were tracks near the end of record which I had no recollection of ever having heard.

The Best of the Waitresses by Waitresses, The (10/10)

Format: 
CD

"I Know What Boys Like" was a personal new wave favorite for me as a kid. It was featured on K-tel's The Beat new wave compilation—a comp which served as a launching point for so many bands for me (except for Graham Parker whose track absolutely sucked). The songs here are funny, energetic and fronted with snotty, attitude-filled vocals that are everything that 60s garage rock vocalists shrived for. This is also a rare example of saxophone working in pop music!

Greatest Hits by Ventures, The (3/10)

Format: 
CD

I bought this from a bargain bin at either Best Buy or some other big box retailer thinking that I would have the definitive collection of The Ventures' classic instrumental guitar rock and roll. The neckerchiefs and wide collars on the cover should have been a dead giveaway for the disco-tinged crap that fills this CD. With the possible exception of "Hawaii Five-O," I think all these songs are remakes of the originals. Remakes with funky bass lines and that steady boom-tiss disco beat that have more in common with Giorgio Morodor than Dick Dale.

VU by Velvet Underground, The (7/10)

Format: 
CD

Another one of my wife's CDs. I've never been much of a fan of this band but here, upon a second or third listen, I think I might like them despite Lou Reed's singer/songwriter leanings (I care more about music than lyrics). The raw and seemingly untrained playing nicely exists somewhere between 60's garage rock and 70's punk rock. I will probably give there "official" releases a try soon.

Anthology by Vapors, The (10/10)

Format: 
CD

This is basically a CD repackaging of New Clear Days with about a third of the songs from Magnets. The Vapors are a new wave band that doesn't really get the love they deserve. There's not a bad song on New Clear Days. Their hit, "Turning Japanese" only scratched the surface of what they were capable of creating. These are smart, high-energy power-pop songs that deserve to be played loud and often.

Fear of a Punk Planet by Vandals, The (4/10)

Format: 
CD

I remember being pretty excited when I bought this CD. I loved the earliest Vandals records and finally being able to get something new from that band was a big thing for me. Turns out something happened between Peace Thru Vandalism and this. A big part of that something was that all but one of the original members remained in the band, and that one original member was now playing a different instrument.

Peace Thru Vandalism / When In Rome by Vandals, The (9/10)

Format: 
CD

As a kid growing up in Central Illinois Peace Thru Vandalism was one the first "punk rock" records I ever heard. I wasn't a punk rocker (or corn-chip as was the Peoria slang for anyone who looked even remotely "goth" or "punky") but I did like much of the music and this record was a great gateway point for someone who grew up listening to Dr. Demento and novelty music. Vandals' songs are funny and never very serious. Even their anarchist's anthem "Anarchy Burger" is a goof.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (5/10)

This book started off okay enough and was pretty interesting for the first hundred pages or so. The premise was that a man and wife lose their cat and proceed to hire a psychic to help them. Things start to get weird and I thought this was going to lead to something more but it never goes anywhere. It's weird and dreamy without any real explanation. At best it's just an excuse to tell small tales about World War II. These sub-stories can be good, but they never really get tied together in a way that clicked for me.