Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Estrada Radio Reviews: Filter – Crazy Eyes

From the getgo in Crazy Eyes, Richard Patrick makes it VERY clear that this will be a heavy industrial rock record. His vocals are throat punishing, beats are heavy on the synths and I am reminded of Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, and the best material from Stabbing Westward. To be honest, I’ve enjoyed most Filter albums, even the ones that have had lukewarm receptions, a reality due to maybe a misplaced track or two at best, since I think Patrick has been ridiculously consistent in pushing the Filter sound.

Will this album change lives? No. But saying it’s not solid would be silly. At almost 49, you’d think his voice would be shot, but instead he provides some of the most ripping vocals to date.


Mother E begins the album with a march-worthy thump a thumping song. It’s a statement more than an excellent track and sets the tone for what you should expect. This is followed by Nothing in my Hands, a synth heavy song with great variety and structure. I like how the track builds and definitely is a solid classic Filter track with lots of electronic flourishes and great whisper-to-scream vocals. Pride Flag then rips your head off and is definitely one of my fav tracks on the album. It is like a bright version of the droning robot metal of Static X with the wailing vocals of Richard Patrick. Soaring riffs and some great chord progressions makes this one of the better Filter tracks in a long time, heavy on the electronics and an example of what he said about taking the guitars back a bit to let the electronics shine. City of Blinding Riots then pumps in and I can only describe this as a dance music to fight to. Honestly, I can easily see this song used for an MMA highlight reel. After this you have Take me to Heaven, a song that even though its material is very personal is very accessible, has awesome guitars and a great chorus. Definitely a highlight track. And this is followed by a song that sends chills through me, Welcome to the Suck. This track is definitely one of the darkest songs by Filter. It sounds as if it came from some Hollywood soundtrack as the lead character looks atop a huge robot that has just devastated a city. This is as big as a song can get and if Guillermo del Toro includes it in the sequel to Pacific Rim, I shall not be surprised. A thumping bass beat dominates the first 1:08 of Head of Fire until the guitars scream in (solid though not stellar track, though). Tremors is another thumping electronica driven song that echoes NIN, with brighter notes and ripping vocals. Kid Blue from the Short Bus is another solid rocking song with loud guitars and louder beats. Your Bullets kind of follows the same vibe of the prior track, good, but not great. Then comes Under the Tongue which is a kind of fun track that might have been good if it went anywhere. Good to showcase the band live, but not much else so consider it a 6 minute intro to the final song Can’t see (Head of Fire Pt. 2). Although a nice closer, I wish it had more beef. It actually reminds me a bit of a band called Sunna. I actually like Patrick’s gentler side when it floats on by so although the right call to close, just short of the mark.  

Track listing:

1. Mother E
2. Nothing in my Hands
3. Pride Flag
4. City of Blinding Riots
5. Take me to Heaven
6. Welcome to the Suck
7. Head of Fire
8. Tremors
9. Kid Blue from the Short Bus
10. Your bullets
11. Under the Tongue
12. Can’t see (Head of Fire Pt. 2)

TOP Tracks: Nothing in my hands, Pride Flag, Take me To Heaven, Welcome to the Suck

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Steps on the edge

Above all, two things were sacred to the reverend: prayer and his whittling. He saw beauty in the patience it took to craft something beautiful. To him, prayer was much the same. He meditated deeply on the words he read in the Bible, using them as the knife to carve the wood of his soul into something worthy of the Lord.

I keep thinking of myself that way. Detached from it all. I try to focus on peace, but it is hard.

It is so hard.

Lately, people who were coming after sermons or to confession kept slipping within the same circles of sin. It was as if confessing was enough for them because there they were, always coming back to commit the same exact sins. They wanted forgiveness, not change.

As a shepherd, I thought beneath the wool of my flock. I pondered on their flesh. Their weak, sinful flesh. They ran through the motions and they put on a good show, but they decided to remain in the same cycle.

And so did I.

In my leniency. In my forgiveness. In my empathy. But lately I felt as if I was the one putting the pathetic in empathetic. Such weak faith we’ve cultivated in these times.

I found myself easily falling into waves of anger and flirting with an ocean of wrath. All because of them. It was taking everything in me to remain in control. Now I had a meeting with Christopher. For a welder, he was Ok. Nothing too bad. But it was always the booze and how he didn’t want to hurt his wife but still managed to do so.

A knock on the door breaks me from my meditation and I call out as a reflex. “Come in.”

The door clicks open and there is Christopher, holding his trucker hat like a security blanket. Even at ten feet I could smell the beer on his breath. Although his knuckles were white from clutching his cap, I saw the heavy bruising. It had been Miller Time in the Smith household all right.

“Hello, Father Elliot," he chanced, hesitating to enter my quarters. "Can I come in?”

I nod and wave him in. Although he used to take a while to tell me what he had done, this time he fell on his knees crying. It had to be one hell of a beating he had given Charlene.

“Why do I keep hurting her, father?” he asks between pathetic snot riddled sobs. “I don’t want to do it, but I end up doing it.”

I am as tired as I am repulsed. This is the type of faith we enjoy nowadays. And I aid the system by consoling sinners and heathen in the hopes of conversion. I feel the stir of wrath in my gut and I kneel in front of him. I take him in my arms and the maggot rains his regret on me for however fleeting it is.

“My son, sometimes we are faced with hard decisions and we walk the edge, hoping we don’t fall. But for however much these actions may hurt us and the ones we care for, we must make this decision and act righteously. Do you understand?”

I feel the head nodding against my shoulder, relief already displacing regret.

“You do know I love you, don’t you, son?”

“Yes, father.”

“Good. That helps me to make the right decision always.”

He continues to sob and I know he’s reaching out for salvation even if he has no idea what it looks like. For my part, I also want to reach out for salvation. Except I know exactly what it looks like.

I breathe deep as my eyes look back at me. A deep calm takes over and I feel control at the knowledge that salvation awaits within me, and the reflection of my truest self. A whittling knife may have a purpose, but its edge is not limited. Righteousness often lies in going beyond one's supposed purpose and finding a mission. 

The whittling knife stares at me and I smile in return.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Estrada Radio Reviews: Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Trying to say one Radiohead album is the best is an effort in futility. Each album has its own appeal and vibe and truly explores different musical experience. So naturally opinions will vary in regards to the value of The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, In Rainbows or any album for that matter. 

But if there is something I can say with no ifs ands or buts about A Moon ShapedPool, it’s this:

This is the most beautiful Radiohead album ever

Johnny Greenwood did a fantastic job with the string arrangements to create a landscape where once again the band enters and exits seamlessly. Ask yourself this, what does each band member do in every song? This is the reason why Radiohead is such a good band, they gel and mesh into a dynamic musical stream that invites you to drift along with the music without it mattering who is playing what.

Delicate strings are juxtaposed with electronic beats and instrumentation varies a lot to create an album that is immediately accessible yet possesses enough depth to be listened to 13 times in two days. The album has moments that echo The King of Limbs, In Rainbows, Hail to the Thief, Kid A, and Amnesiac. I’m sure that as I listen more I’ll find hints and nods to the Bends and Ok Computer. I mention this not because it merits mentioning as if this were a throwback album; quite the contrary. There are echoes of these past great albums while pushing forward to create one of the most lushly textured albums by this band.

It is a mellow, gorgeous, humble, yet confident album, where everyone is on point. Thom Yorke’s vocals are beautifully melancholy and haunting, without being depressing. 

It’s like a sunset on Pluto, cold, crystalline, beautiful. 

It’s the good type of lonely, the one where you can get to grips with what’s tumbling in your head.

Album Rundown:

The album opens with the upbeat drumming strings of Burn the Witch, which includes brilliant lyrics including a “low flying panic attack”. Afterwards the album melts into Daydreaming, a crystalline track that sounds like the beautiful side of a broken dream. Decks Dark starts off with some low electronic beats and a beautiful piano that brings small echoes of Hail to the Thief. Desert Island Disk is a mellow song that reminds of Give up the Ghost (In Rainbows), but more ethereal. Ful Stop is one of the few gritty tracks and the droning beat definitely shows a change of pace. It’s a song that is a bit like 15 Step (In Rainbows) is dynamic and really takes its time to set the stage and build. Glass Eyes goes back to the tone set by the second track, but where glassy sounding electronics play next to a haunting strings that ease in and out of the track, appearing where they have to, while allowing the track to breathe even if it’s one of the shorter ones. Identikit brings the electronic beats back to the forefront, with Thom’s vocals in the background working more as an instrument than vocals for almost a minute. Then near the 2 minute mark, the song opens up a whole lot more and is one of the highlights of the album for the sheer variety of the track. Next up is The Numbers, another standout track with a mellow guitar riff and drums that serve as the perfect backdrop to Yorke’s haunting lyrics and just when you get comfortable with the song, around the 3:42 mark, strings like Zeppelin’s Kashmir really surprise and take this track to a whole other level. Present Tense is one of the mellower numbers on the album and serves as a wonderful track to balance out the album before leading into Tinker Tailer Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief, another showcase of a song where the string arrangements swing for the moon. But then as if that weren’t enough, the album closes with True Love Waits, an old song treated with such tender love that it is as fitting a way to close an album as you can envision and that even if we had to wait 21 years for an official release of this song, the wait for it and this album was completely worth it.

Track Listing:
1. Burn the Witch
2. Daydreaming
3. Decks Dark
4. Desert Island Disk
5. Ful Stop
6. Glass eyes
7. Identikit
8. The numbers
9. Present Tense
10. Tinker Tailer Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
11. True love waits

TOP TRACKS: Burn the Witch, Daydreaming, Ful Stop, identikit, The Numbers, True Love Waits

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother's Day Tradition continues

For the last three years, I've been able to publish a book on Mother's day. The first year, it was Between the Tides. Last year, it was the physical version of the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore. For this year, I've published my first Spanish Poetry collection: Pensando en Metáforas.

This was a promise to Mom, and one I am happy to say I was able to keep. I'd been promising this collection for the longest time and today marks the day when it is available digitally, which means that I will have it at the Puerto Rico Comic Con.

It is a work that about a third of it was crafted din one day at the hospital, while mom was getting operated on. I've talked about Emotional Alchemy before and this is the perfect example of what you can do with raw energy.

As they operated on mom I had to wait for about 5 hours until I had news from her. In that time I either wrote or would lose my cool. Luckily I stayed in control and mom came out with a new lease on life.

So this is a tribute to my Mother and all mothers.

Of special note to thank is my wife for crafting a cover that truly captures the essence of what I did my best to capture in Spanish poetry.

To any and all who have been waiting expectantly, thank you for the patience, although a word of notice... this is just the start. My best to all the beautiful mothers out there. May you show the strength and patience to help guide the upbringing of this next generation. To the grandmothers, bless you and my love for you and all you do to spoil those grandkids rotten.

With peace, love, and chocolate truffles.

Una promesa de amor

Por mucho tiempo le dije a mi madre que para el día de las madres tendría lista y publicada mi primera colección de poesía en español y es con mucho gusto que comparto el hecho de que la tradición de publicar una obra en el día de las madres continúa.

Hoy es el primer día que está disponible Pensando en Metáforas, mi primera colección de poesía en español.

La misma incluye un sinnúmero de confesiones y vivencias en español. Sé que ha sido esperado por mucho tiempo y espero que les guste y haya valido la pena esperar. Lo escribí con mucho amor y confieso que más de la mitad de los poemas los escribí en el hospital cuando operaban a mi madre por primera vez. A menudo hablo sobre el término alquimia emocional y esta obra en gran parte es producto de ese fenómeno.

Eso sí, de nota especial está el agradecimiento a mi bella esposa, Janelis, por su apoyo y por una portada que verdaderamente captura la emoción y el sentimiento de la obra. Sin ella, no podría lograr muchas cosas, y muy particular el publicar esta colección el día de hoy.

Pronto vienen eventos y tendré la oportunidad de compartir esta obra y muchas otras con ustedes, pero por ahora los dejo con una sonrisa enorme al poder cumplir con las bellas madres que conozco. Felicidades en su día.

Paz, amor, y chocolates

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Listy Time: top 15 scariest surf spots in the world

If you choose to ride a wave it means you’re putting your life at risk, regardless of what you ride, and even on small days. That said, there are surf spots that command respect because they are a notch above the rest in terms of danger and the prospects of severe injury or death. I’d made a list in a long abandoned blog and felt that it was time to update the list…. Only to find that many of these haven’t changed because fear is something that does not waver much in life.

So here we go.

15. Frontón – Canary Islands

One of the most high performance bodyboarding waves on the planet is also one of the most treacherous. Either left or right, this place demands respect. Sure, people have seen the beautiful lineup, but the reef is shallow and can tackle 15-foot surf to ask the question, do you feel lucky?

14. Luna Park – Australia

I once asked current bodyboarding world champion Jared Houston what were some of the scariest spots he’d ever surfed and he said Luna Park. Although not as popular as other big wave spots, just one look and you see it’s a cold water maelstrom begging for flesh.

13. Waimea Bay – North Shore of Oahu

After people were able to tackle huge Makaha, they pondered about Waimea. It wasn’t until Greg Knoll and a bunch of other crazy people decided to dance with Lady Luck that this wave showed what big wave riding was originally about, going big or going home. During huge swells, 40-50 foot sets have been known to close out the bay and it is a wave that can punish you in a variety of ways, from pitching full throttle on the takeoff, to that treacherous inside shorebreak that can easily handle double overhead closeouts to reward you for your effort.

12. Cave Rock - South Africa

I remember the caption from a bodyboarding magazine as if it was today. The picture? A perfect 8 foot right hand wave. The text: 14 shark attacks in 14 weeks. Although South Africa is notorious for shark attacks, few places put surfers as much at risk as Cave Rock. The temptation is high, but the consequences can be dire with many a fatal attack recorded in this pristine and beautiful break.

11. Dungeons – South Africa

Big Waves AND Sharks. Plus, the place is called DUNGEONS. Seriously, this is for people who like Russian Roulette AND Surf. It packs a punch and a bite in more ways than one, being a true Great White breeding ground.

10. Cortes Bank – Pacific Ocean

This is NOT California. 100 miles off the coast is NOWHERE. Yet this sea bank represents an island that would rather play at being a reef. The potential of big waves here is as high as it gets. Pretty much if you have the right wind, that place can handle anything thrown at it. The challenge are the conditions, since it is so exposed and so far off, catching it just right is the biggest hurdle. Oh and you know HUGE SURF. But people have ridden it and it still creeps me out. It has a generous amount of seals, also known as Great White food not to mention the fact that you’re in the open ocean, so who knows what the hell is swimming around that lineup?

9. Ghost Trees – California

Seriously, someone is an expert at naming ominous surf spots. Located in California, this huge right hander means that you will get misty lineups and huge waves. I’m pretty sure the PWC ban still remains, but this place could tackle huge waves and unfortunately claimed a couple of lives in the process.

8. Shipstern’s Bluff – Tasmania

It’s all about the notorious step at Shipstern’s. It’s not enough you’re riding waves that are in the 15-20+ foot range, you have to negotiate a step that can either line you up perfectly for the ride of your life or absolutely destroy you. Plenty of people have also found out how easy it is to get injured at this place. Oh and did I mention the step? Yeah. That step is nasty.

7. Pea’Hi AKA “Jaws” – Maui

Pretty much the biggest barrels you can get in the world are at this world-renowned Maui break commonly known as JAWS. Pushing big wave riding to the extreme, Pea’Hi is the rare big wave that allows riders to get barreled if they’re willing to pull into a wave where a MAC Truck can easily fit through. Wipeouts here are often described as “violent” and when you see the amount of water that is moving, you can’t help but believe every single word, while still insisting that it’s better to watch from shore.

6. El Gringo – Arica, Chile

There are few if any waves on the planet that have injured more people in contests than El Gringo. With a heavy right hander that can give you the biggest ramps to air off, and a left hander that ends up on borderline dry and jagged reef. A couple of year’s back Ripcurl held a standup surf contest and there were about 4 injuries. They haven’t been too keen to return, and for good reason: it is one mean ass wave.

5. Nazare – Portugal

When you see waves the size of ten-story buildings breaking, you stand in awe on the cliff next to the break. That anyone thinks it’s a good idea to head out on the big days shows just how hard big wave surfers are pushing it. I mean, just look at the picture and tell me you think that’s a good idea.

4. Teahupoo – Tahiti

Perfection meets destructive force. Teahupoo is the type of wave you draw in your notebooks. It is unreal, beautiful, and completely intimidating. Sucking at times 12 and 15 ft. below sea level, and with lips as thick as the biggest waves many people have ridden in their lives, Teahupoo is a hydro-kinetic freak of nature that has injured countless people and I think the only spot I know of that has killed surfers from the impact on the reef alone.

3. Mavericks – California

One of the premier big wave spots in California, Mavericks has murky, cold, brown water, sharks, a sketchy paddle out and shall forever be known as the spot where Mark Foo, a very well known and well liked big wave surfer, lost his life. People have been left hanging on the rocks gripping to not be taken by the surge. It is a place not to be taken lightly. Even so, Jeff Clark used to surf this place alone for years. What a hellman. 

2. Banzai Pipeline – North Shore of Oahu

Everyone who has ever ridden a wave knows Pipeline. It is one of the most photographed waves on the planet and as beautiful as it is deadly. Last time I did this list, I put Mavericks in front of Pipeline. Taking a closer look at the death toll and the close calls the break has had in the last year alone, it got bumped up to #2 on the merits of reef caves, unpredictability, power, and deadliness.

1. Shark Island – Cronulla, Australia

Pound for pound, this shall forever be the scariest wave I think I’ve ever seen, simply because it is an unpredictable monster and you’re throwing the dice on every single ride. Super Shallow, super sketchy, a nasty end bowl called Surge, and has severely injured many riders. Although other spots have taken more lives, the Island is notorious for showing you a line that looks like heaven only to dump you into hell on the rocks.

So what do you think of this list? Anything else you'd like to see me list it up? Then drop a comment and let me know. 

Peace, love, and air maki rolls.