Is the World of Music Better Now or Better Then?

Jim Louvau
How does Miley stack against music eras of yore?

Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek. He shares stories of great music and wacky characters from his continuing 27 years in Valley record stores and the always zany music biz.

I'm closing in on a half century of existence -- an existence immersed in the world of entertainment -- and sometimes I just sit back and marvel at technology. My phone is a computer. I can fast forward commercials. I've got music and movies and everything in between right at my fingertips.

We've got it pretty good.

Notice I didn't say, "You damn kids don't know how lucky you've got it." I haven't hit that stage yet.

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Jimmy Eat World Signature Guitar Celebrates Seventh Anniversary

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Courtesy of the artist's Facebook page
Jim Adkins with his signature Fender JA-90 guitar.

If you're a diehard music fan in Arizona, you know that one of our state's crown jewels is Jimmy Eat World. Active for over two decades now, and regarded as a forerunner of the mid-'00s pop-punk movement, Jimmy Eat World invokes as much, if not more, pride as references to The Format or The Bled. Led by born-and-bred Mesa resident Jim Adkins, the band is just around the corner from the 10-year anniversary of their gold-selling record Futures, yet another Jimmy Eat World-related anniversary is also upon us.


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Blessed Be This Heavy Metal Union in the Valley of the Sun

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Stellar photography/Rudy Reilly Facebook
Rudy and Lori

When I saw this viral video the other week of the "most metal first dance at a wedding," I couldn't help but feel a little warm and fuzzy. The goth couple created a playlist that included song snippets from Grave Digger, Pantera, Devil Drive, Cannibal Corpse, Lamb of God and Rammstein.

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Motörhead's Mikkey Dee on Lemmy's Health, the Motörhead Cruise, and the Key to Success

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Courtesy of Mongrel Media

There's something fascinating about Motörhead's longevity. Nearly 40 years ago, the English band fused together heavy metal and punk -- fueled by healthy doses of whiskey -- to become one of the early pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.


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Record Store Day? More Like Record Store Life.

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Record Store Day is tomorrow. So I shouldn't have been surprised when my editor said, "Hey, maybe you can write something about Record Store Day."

Makes sense. I do write under the moniker Record Store Geek.

It's just that my editor has only asked me for one specific column in the entire two years I've been here: My first one (Defending My Guilty TV Pleasure: Ancient Aliens). So I was surprised.

You think I'd be thankful I've had this much freedom (I am) and serve it up, but here's the problem: I don't want to write about Record Store Day.

But I'd love to write about record stores. Hell, I'll teach a class on record stores.


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Fender MLB Stratocaster Launch Party: Catching G. Love and Playing Guitar With Baseball Players at the W Hotel Scottsdale

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Photos by Jim Louvau
Models show off Fender's new MLB Stratocasters at W Hotel Scottsdale last night. See more photos from the party via our slideshow.

Unlike soccer and vuvuzelas, guitars and baseball don't necessarily go together. But when you're talking about two institutions as American as the Fender Stratocaster and Major League Baseball, the alignment seems a little more warranted.

Such is the case with the new MLB-approved line of Fender Strats that the company unveiled at the W Hotel Scottsdale last night when the behemoth guitar manufacture hosted a small concert and party to celebrate the guitars' official drop on March 31.

Complete with a stage set up in the middle of the W's second floor pool, it's evident that Fender takes care of its own and can turn something as seemingly trivial as a guitar release into a stylish full-blown affair.


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The Most Metal Instruments at NAMM

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John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
You break it, you buy it.
A few weeks back, I wrote about the most metal moments at NAMM, but now I'd like to touch base on some of the amazing products at the one of the largest music trade shows in the world.

Manufacturers seem to have found a way of creating affordable instruments that sound amazing, and at NAMM I discovered quite a few.

But I'm not talking about the usual brands like Marshall and Fender -- there are a ton of other instrumental purveyors that have an impressive lineup of products, and two of my current favorites are Korg and Samson.

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The Biggest Metal Moments of NAMM 2014

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John Gilhooley
Two attendees of NAMM 2014. See more photos via our sister publication OC Weekly's slideshow.
The last time I told people I was going to 'Nam, I was actually heading off to backpack through Vietnam for a month with a stop off in Cambodia and Taiwan. And the general reply was, "Why the hell would you want to do that?"

However, last week when I was heading off to a NAMM of a different sort -- namely, the National Association of Music Merchants in Anaheim, California -- the reaction was one of excitement and a tad bit of jealousy. And since I had never been to the music industry convention, I had no idea what to really expect.


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The Aristocrats' Bryan Beller: "We Are a Rowdy Musical Democracy"

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Within instrumental music circles, the majority of the talented musicians run alone -- releasing solo albums, working as sidemen, dipping deep into numerous projects. And on occasion, a handful of those virtuoso artists come together to create more than just a collaborative album, and it gets a little rowdy in the process.

Such is the case with The Aristocrats, a trio creating complex, layered music that takes the unpredictability of jazz and the vibrant energy of classic rock and fuses it with a bit of blues, soul, and heavy metal. Guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller, and drummer Marco Minnemann arrived at this sound in part thanks to their love of the same vast influences: Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine . . . there's a shared passion there, since all the members are the same age.

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The 21 Best Heavy Metal Albums of 2013

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Ghost BC
It's that time of year where our focus is officially shifting from reflecting on 2013 to preparing for 2014. Another 365 days have swept by, full of heavy metal ups and downs, groupies and drug overdoses, mind-blowing riffs and sold-out shows. The state of metal in 2013 certainly hasn't blown my mind--I mean, bad pop music is so pervasive in our culture that it's difficult for any other genre to avoid drowning in the thick, soupy droning known as mainstream music.

However, there was interesting music being made this past year, and lots of heavy metal news and some great interviews. And it was a busy year for Metal Mondays. In tradition end of year "best of" lists, here are a handful of my favorite Metal Mondays that ran in 2013, from interviews with world-renowned metal legends to the insane local metal scene.


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