Sunday, September 8, 2013

Now Hear This: Volume 3 (Bonus Edition)

I know I just gave you guys some new tunes to listen to a couple weeks ago, but it seems I missed a few things. Firstly, there was at least one song that I was supposed to include in the last article and forgot about, and there were also a couple new offerings to speak of that I was at the time unaware of.

It's becoming Fall. Some of you are back to college. There's new albums dropping left and right. You want to stay cool & hip and with it, but seriously, avoid that instinct to just run with the pack. In a pack, unless you're the lead animal the view never changes. You'll always be looking at someone else's ass trying to keep up. So be the Alpha, the Leader. Let them follow you.

First, the Top 40 dreck to avoid...

Lady GaGa---Applause
At least she's honest. "I live for the applause, applause , applause, I live for the applause-plause-plause blah blah blah etcetera..." Yes, you want the adoration and applause. I get it. Most creative people don't just create for the sake of creating things, be it music or art or poetry or video or even blogging about other peoples' creations. Creative people also like the positive feedback that comes with their work. I get it. In a way I can be the same; I like positive comments back on my writing. However, I am not going to write a blog that says "I live for the comments-ments-ments-ments blah blah blah".  The song has some good synth parts and decent beats and the chorus is dancey as hell, but I just kinda tune out the verses and bridge. She's toned down the weird factor a bit at least. However, it's also on the air every 26 minutes and it gets old fast. Like most GaGa stuff. Like most of GaGa's "weird artsy chick" schtick.

Sara Bareilles--Brave vs. Katy Perry--Roar
Yeah, I know. It's been spoken of ad nauseum in the press, this similarity between the two songs. Bareilles herself has commented on it, as has Perry, and both claim no ill will towards each other, just peace love & jellybeans, and that any similarity is just coincidence. Sara's song, inspired by a freind's struggle with coming out, came out first but one of the team that did "Roar" claims it was written & recorded first, nanny nanny boo boo. It's another sugary girl power Katy song riddled with that staccato stutter delivery where she turns a one-syllable word into two syllables. Sara wrote her song with Jack Antonoff of the band fun., and Perry wrote hers with Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, and Henry Walter. Two writers vs. five, so I'm giving this one to Bareilles, although I really do have to give Katy points for her Eye Candy appeal alone. Turn on the radio right now and I guarantee one or the other is on and the other will follow in 17 minutes.

By the time you read this the official video will be out on Monday the 9th. The song debuted this week at #3 on the Billboard Top 100. It must be chock fulla bleeps and censored blurbs after listening to the full version. It's loud and brash, kinda like the old Eminem we were used to a decade ago, but Em is also turning 41 next month so how long can we milk the Angry Young Rapper cow? The song is built around Billy Sqiers' "The Stroke" with sprinkles of Beastie Boys tossed over the top. The preview audio video should remind 80s kids immediately of LL Cool J's debut album "Radio".

Avril Lavigne--Rock N Roll
Okay, seriously, you're pushing 30 and been married twice, so the bratty teen punky pop gothy cheerleader with racoon mascara gimmick is getting tired. This pretty much sounds like 90% of her other stuff, with the big saving grace being Danica McKellar (ever so hot at 38) kissing her in the Tank Girl ripoff video.

One Direction--Best Song Ever
No, it's not. It's sugar-frosted pre-packaged crap that rips off The Who's "Baba O'Riley. Thankfully, Pete Townshend is a generous man and didn't sue them. I have very little use for boy bands and really, unless you're a twelve year old girl awaiting her first period, neither should you.

So, Wingman, now that you just shit on all the popular music, what should I listen to?

Well, not all the popular stuff is to be avoided. Remember, a lot of the stuff I have recommended for you guys in the past became popular after I sent it your way.I'm not against stuff becoming popular if it's good, but I want you guys ahead of the game. Lead dog, remember. When they're looking at your asshole and listening to the same song every 26 minutes, you'll have already moved on to the next big thing.

Lana Del Rey--Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix)
Don't get me wrong. I am NOT a Lana Del Rey fan. After weeks and weeks of hearing everyone on alternative radio rave about this hot new chanteuse with the smoky vocals and gorgeous looks, I caught an interview with her where she seemed bored & disinterested & jaded. And then I caught her on Saturday Night Live and decided right there & then that everyone who was raving about her was up their own ass with a hacksaw. And honestly, Summertime Sadness only works for me in the radio remix by Cedric Gervais. Otherwise, the original is dull and lifeless, like Lana Del Rey. It makes Joy Division sound upbeat. However, Gervais saves the day with some great EDM grooves and it offsets her deep mopey vocals.

Okay, on to the good stuff...

Depeche Mode--You Should Be Higher
Look, chummies, you should already know & own this track. Why? Because it's Depeche fuckin' Mode, that's why. The list of bands that owe their inspiration and lineage to Depeche Mode is massive. This is the third single off their Delta Machine album, the album they are currently selling out stadiums supporting here in the States. Trust me, fellas, you can never go wrong playing Mode in the car on a date. It says "This dude has a sophisticated palate.".

Feathers--- Land of the Innocent
Feathers was an accidental find, and in my estimation accidental finds are often the best ones. I was watching a news video and the next video in line was about Feathers, and the reporter called them a female Depeche Mode. That was enough to raise an eyebrow and pique my curiosity, indeed. Hailing from Austin, Texas, these ladies do indeed live up to the hype and then some. The lead single off their album If All Now Here begins with a synth riff that reminded me of an early Depeche Mode B-side and old-skool fan favorite called Ice Machine. It blossoms into an ominous, velvety, thick groove with angelic vocals over the top. It pays homage to the synth bands that came before them while paving a new path yet untrod. Get the whole album; it's REALLY good.

Who's got your back? I do...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Now Hear This, Volume 2: Tunes for the Times

Summer is coming to a close, kids are headed back to school, and soon the leaves will be a-changing. Hopefully your summer was chock fulla good times enhanced by songs I helped you discovered back in the spring.

The summer was a bit of a dead zone this year in my humble yet correct opinion, but recently I've stumbled onto some tunes to swing your way if you haven't discovered them yet. Some of them aren't exactly new but have been percolating all summer and are about to break loose. However, our first track just got officially released today.

Blue October--Bleed Out
A few years ago Blue October hit the scene in a big way with a raw, emotional song called "Hate Me"., followed by the quirky hit "Into the Ocean", but my favorite has always been "Calling You". This one may end up becoming my new favorite. It's a matured, grown sound but still powerful and emotional. If you guys get behind this we can make this song huge.


Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding -- I Need Your Love
Suddenly everyone is all about Scottish DJ Adam Richard Wiles, who goes by the stage name Calvin Harris. Hot on the heels of his big hit Sweet Nothing, featuring the tremendous vocals of Florence Welch (without the Machine) comes another floor stomper, this time with the vocal stylings of electro-dance chanteuse Ellie Goulding. Look, you either like Ellie or you don't. Her voice is unique to say the least. It took me a few listens to get to liking her. Her singles Lights and Anything Can Happen had to grow on me. This one, however, grabbed me pretty much immediately.


Zedd featuring Foxes-- Clarity
This one actually did have to grow on me. I'd seen the song title a few times on the dance charts and alt charts at Billboard's website but paid no real attention to an unfamiliar name. I know, that's wrong of me to do so...otherwise how am I ever going to learn new artists? Young Anton Zaslavski, known in the DJ biz as Zedd, is fast becoming the new darling wunderkind of the EDM world. It took a couple listens for me because it starts out slow and them wakes up. Vocals come courtesy of Louisa Rose Allen, who records under the name Foxes.

 The Neighborhood--Sweater Weather
This song has been kicking around alternative radio for months and is just now making its way to Top 40 radio. It does nothing for me.. Sorry. It's not that I dislike it, but it simply doesn't grab me or do anything for me. Still, it beats listening to Justin Bieber.

This, however, grabbed me pretty quick. Currently ripping its way up the alt charts and poised to crossover any minute now, Pompeii has London-based Bastille meshing a Coldplay-meets-Mumford & Sons feel with a tribal dancey beat. Teen girls will get all damp in the britches over lead singer Dan Smith, who looks like a fresher-faced Adam Levine without the whine or the tattoos.

The other inescapable name on alt radio this week is Lorde, the stage name of Ella Yelich-O'Connor. All of 16 (yeah, jail bait so stop what you were thinking), she's the biggest thing to come out of New Zealand since Lord of the Rings. The first few seconds of the song I thought it was going to be some kind of Amy Winehouse meets Fiona Apple dirge but it's really more like Fergie meets Lily Allen.

Now, of course, there is other stuff out there to listen to, but it's standard Top 40 fare. It's being played every 30 minutes on a non-stop rotation ad nauseum.

Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams--Get Lucky
Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I.--Blurred Lines

Seems Pharrell Williams is everywhere these days. I can take Daft Punk every now & then, and it was the only listenable feature of that suck-fest Kanye West called "Stronger". This, however, is just re-hashed 70s disco drivel. The Robin Thicke track is also bordering disco cheese but is a bit more catchy. Then again, so is the clap and you don't want that, either. I purposely chose to include the Unrated Version, because someone has to have the balls to show some naked boobs to make this worth watching.


Miley Cyrus--We Can't Stop
Speaking of things that are catchy but you wish weren't, there's Miley Cyrus and her new youngster party anthem, We Can't Stop. The video is a goofy little acid trip, with unexplainable shit like dancing with giant stuffed animals on your back and dressing like a call girl in high heeled sneakers. Sadly it gets in your head like that worm Khan shoves in your ear in Star Trek II and you feel dirty for listening.


And I shall leave you with the most surprising track I discovered this summer. Thankfully there are still young people out there willing to take the time to classically train and  properly master a  musical instrument, like Spencer Ludwig (provinding the trumpet on Capital Cities smash single "Safe & Sound") and violinist/dancer Lindsey Stirling, who mixes her beautiful violin strains with wicked dubstep grooves. This is an awesome track for driving.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Some advice on getting inked

Yes, that is me getting tattooed at Black Orchid in Savannah, GA in August 2008

When I was younger, there was still a bit of a stigma about getting a tattoo. It was a taboo, done by salty sailors or scary bikers or punk rockers, and back then a woman with a tat was of questionable virtue. As I hit my late teens that all relaxed a bit, and while I was at Military Police School a lot of us went and got inked. I thought about it but didn't go through with it. They all got skulls wearing berets with daggers in their teeth, and that just wasn't my style. I wasn't sure what I really wanted in all honesty. Besides, the Drill Sergeants gave grief to the guys who went through with it, citing Destruction of Government Property just as an excuse to make them do pushups.

A year and change later I was in Germany, and a buddy of mine was getting a couple tats to commemorate his Army experience before he got out. He went to a very reputable and well-known artist, and I thought about doing it impulsively to say I'd been done by a well-known artist overseas. I almost got inked with comic strip icons Calvin & Hobbes dancing in sunglasses. I also wanted a logo from the band Depeche Mode included with it. Seriously.

Thankfully, his tats took so much time that when they were finished there was no time left for me and we went home.

Seriously, I almost had this as a permanent feature on my body.

I met a lot of guys in the Army with tats that made me wonder what in the blue hell they were thinking when they got them. One guy had Beetle Bailey sleeping in a foxhole on his arm. Another had a pale faded Mickey Mouse while still another had a sketchy Garfield. One guy even had a bantam rooster on his calf that he told people was the "cock beneath his knees".Seriously.

I shelved the tattoo idea for years. In fact, I was 36 before I got my first tattoo. I had just married Mrs. Wingman and she wanted us both to get inked. She already had four when we met so this was old hat for her. I fretted over what to get and after flipping through the books of pre-drawn art (known in tat-speak as Flash) I finally picked a simple Celtic tri-knot that went on my left bicep.

Once the seal is broken, so to speak, it's easy to get hooked on tattoos. Damned easy. I now have 8 in all. I went back and got another Celtic knot design above the tri-knot and then got a Celtic cross under it. Then I found a design online that I liked, a Celtic tribal that went on my left calf. After that I decided the time had come to finally design my tribute to Depeche Mode...

To keep the cost down I did it in three installments. Each session I did another portion of it, first the one logo I always wanted, then a second under it, and finally the words "enjoy the silence" from my favorite song, flanked by more logo art.

My final tat is a tribute to my Army time, a pair of crossed flintlock pistols (the symbol of the Military Police) superimposed behind the famous Gadsden rattlesnake. Instead of "Don't Tread On Me" it says "Liberty or Death".

The designs I picked are strictly for my own tastes. They probably aren't what you would pick. I sometimes wish I'd picked my first two a little more carefully in retrospect. It happens sometimes.

Nowadays tattoos are as common as earrings. TV is chock-a-block full of tat shows. The stigma is fading fast, if not pretty much extinct.

I'm not here to tell you whether or not to get inked. That is entirely your choice. I'm also not going to tell you what to get or where should you decide to get inked, either. Personal choices are just that; personal.

However, there are some helpful tips that I can give you that may ease your way into joining the ranks of the inked.

Think long and hard about even getting it in the first place. This is, for all intents & purposes, a permanent modification to your body. Yes, you can laser it off (an expensive & somewhat painful process that probably won't be covered by insurance, doesn't always remove it 100% & often leaves scarring) or there's Wrecking Balm, a fading & removal system that is a bit like a micro-dermal abrasion kit. It's gotten terrible reviews at Amazon, thusly Buyer Beware.

So consider it permanent.

Amazon was NOT kind to this product. Caveat Emptor.

Not every tattoo mistake can be easily covered up, despite what the plethora of cable-TV tattoo shows say.That will depend on size, location, coloring, shading, and scar tissue, if any.

Don't get it on impulse, especially after drinking. That leads to bad tats and Tattoo Regret. Go ahead and Google up "bad tattoos" and see what I mean. Think about the design and what it really means to you and whether it is something you would really want on your skin forever. Think also about whether the design is something you really can't show in dressy social situations. Skulls, scorpions, spiders, four-letter words, naked bodies and devils sometimes don't go over well at work, depending on your job.

Think about placement, too. Is it going to be somewhere that can easily be concealed for work (in which case the design may be less of a factor) since your employer, or future employer perhaps, could possibly be not exactly tat-friendly. If you're a lady and the tat might go on a leg where wearing a dress or skirt might show it off, that needs to be factored in. Think of how it will look with a wedding dress. Seriously, I would also avoid face and neck tattoos. Social stigmas may have relaxed, but really, not that far. White collar, finance type jobs still frown on visible tats.

No. Under no circumstances. This is just stupid.
Tattoos of people's names....

In a word: NO. Think twice about inking someone's name into your skin. Then think about it twice more. A boyfriend, a girlfriend, a spouse....sad to say it but those aren't necessarily "forever" arrangements. I make exceptions for kids, as your kids are yours forever. I can also make exceptions for memorializing those who have passed away. That's way different than getting a tat for the current person you're sleeping with, because six months down the road after they dump you, the next person riding you like a carnival attraction is gonna have to look at that tat every time they have you naked. That's bad juju, son. Angelina Jolie lasered off her BILLY BOB tattoo, and Johnny Depp turned WINONA FOREVER into WINO FOREVER.

Mrs. Wingman's tribute to her mom.
Words in your tats: Make damned sure you spell it the way you want it. These people are going to tattoo what you give them to tattoo; if you mis-spell something, so will they, chances are. This goes double if it is in a foreign language. Not all tattoo artists speak Latin. Great examples are all over the Web, chief among these being the infamous "Only God Can Juge Me" tats.

A tragic mistake

Great tat, bad spelling.

Picking an artist.

Wow. This can be a daunting task. Whenever I see some great ink on people I compliment them on their tat and ask where they got it done just to see who does what sort of work. Most people with tats are pretty open to talking about them, I've found, and everyone loves a compliment. I live in a state where tattoo shops were FINALLY legalized just a few years ago, so prior to that folks either had to jump the border into Georgia or North Carolina or get inked by unlicensed underground types in a basement. That led to a lot of REALLY dodgy tats here that rival prison tats in their quality.

Look, I do not trust people who tattoo at home, regardless of what they claim their skills to be. I only recommend a licensed professional tattoo artist with a health certificate on the wall. Most studios I've been to have been very clean and brightly lit. One shop I went to locally however looked like a dive bar, was located next to a strip club, was dimly lit, the only customer in sight was getting what looked like gang lettering, and they were outrageously priced. Needless to say, I walked.

Remember first & foremost, a professional tattoo artist is an artist first. They appreciate custom design work and like to show off their unique tats in portfolio books or on personal websites. Most artists I've spoken to and known prefer to tattoo custom, individual designs over just rehashing a flash design from the books. Respect your artist. Don't waste their time.

I like to print out my tat ideas in a variety of sizes to pick exactly what I want, and as dorky as this sounds, literally tape it in place where I want it to make sure the placement is right. Trust me, your artist will appreciate it when you come in and know what you want and exactly where you want it. If possible, either via email or in person discuss it ahead of time with the artist so they know what to expect design-wise and time-wise. Some artists will charge hourly on bigger pieces and other just charge by the piece, often based on how much prep & design work they have to do beforehand.

My artist appreciates that when I walk in for my scheduled appointment, I'm not wasting his valuable time. He knows what we're doing and I have the final design in hand, exactly the size I want, so all he has to do is quickly trace out the stencil and set up the tattoo machine and inks. No waiting around while I hem & haw & change my mind and bullshit around.

Another perk of going to a licensed pro: you get to watch them don sterile surgical gloves and open FRESH, brand-new needles from a factory-sealed package to set up the tattoo machine (please don't call it a tattoo gun; this isn't a state correctional facility) and sort out the various inks that will be used. Again, professional tattoo artists use quality inks whereas your backyard scribbler who bought a tat machine at the mall kiosk is likely using cheap mall kiosk ink that will soon fade and look like it was done on you with a Bic ballpoint pen by a shaky hand with the DT's. Probably re-uses needles, too, thinking that soaking them in rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes is a substitute for fresh sterile needles. I knew someone who got a home tat that ended up looking like a war zone after it got infected, the color bled out, and the remaining crappy art that they started with scabbed up like a lava field.

New, unopened needles
Extreme closeup of a 5-tip needle

For an excellent primer on the types and uses of tattoo needles, go here.

Okay....did you fully prepare beforehand?

What do you mean, Wingman? Prepare?

Prepare your body, young grasshopper. You are about the get a foreign substance forcibly injected under your top layers of skin by a multi-tipped surgical steel needle. This ain't finger paints, son.

Do not imbibe alcohol before a tattoo. If you require Liquid Courage before you do this, you ain't ready. A reputable artist should not and will not tattoo someone who has been drinking. Your judgement is often impaired, and when you sober up and find a Mike Tyson Hangover 2 tribal on your face you have no one to blame but yourself. Also, alcohol thins the blood and makes you bleed more easily. Yes, you are gonna bleed a bit in the process. This is why you go to a professional with a health certificate for blood-borne pathogen training on the wall in a clean bright studio with new needles and surgical gloves,  and not some trailer park tweeker who thinks Hepatitis is a cool band name.

Do yourself a favor and drop 4 Advil about 30 minutes before your start time. It helps. Take 4 more afterwards.

Don't flinch. Don't wiggle. Don't twitch & jerk. Don't forget to breathe. The amount a tattoo hurts depends on various factors, chief amongst them being your own tolerance for pain. No one likes a crying sissy in the tattoo chair. Remember, you asked for this and are paying money for this. No one held a gun to your head or threatened to light your puppy on fire if you didn't do it. Man the hell up.

Some artists have a lighter touch than others, too. My artist is generally like a feather most times. The location of your tat will sometimes determine the likelihood of Ouch Factor. Places with thinner, more sensitive skin like the underside of your arms and wrists, tops of feet, breast tissue, and along the ribs often have a higher Ouch Factor. Mrs. Wingman says her worst one out of ten tats was her foot.

I've had some discomfort at times but nothing excruciating. The only tat of mine that truly hurt was my last one, on the back of my right calf. I don't know why, but that one really was uncomfortable for me. But I grit my teeth and took it. It's a tattoo, not a tickle fest. Again, man the hell up.

The Wingman's right calf

After your artist is finished, they should put a sterile dressing on it and a healthy slather of a protective  ointment. They should also give you proper aftercare instructions. Leave that bandage on for an hour or two. I know you wanna show it off but no one wants to see your new ink while it's gooped up with ointment and weeping blood. For the next few days it will generally feel like a wicked sunburn. Like it or not, your new tat is an open wound on your body, and that bandage keeps airborne microbes out for the critical first couple hours as you seep.

Many people recommend A&D or some other form of triple antibiotic. I've also seen people use NeoSporin with the pain reliever in it. However, antibiotic goo treats your ink as a foreign invader and will start to leach the ink back out of your skin. That defeats the purpose, no? Instead, I highly recommend using Aquaphor. I also hear good stuff about Tattoo Goo but have never used it. Same with H2Ocean.

After you remove the bandage, you will want to wash your tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild liquid antibacterial  (like Dial liquid antibacterial) soap to gently wash away any ointment, blood and/or plasma, and to completely clean the area. Do not use a washcloth or anything abrasive. Do not scrub it; your hand is your best tool in this case. (If your tattoo feels slimy and slippery, you have probably been oozing plasma. Try to gently remove as much of this as possible because when the plasma dries on the skin surface, it creates scabs, and no one wants a scabby tat.)

Then pat (do not rub) the area firmly with a clean, dry towel or paper towel to get it completely dry. Follow with a very light application of your choice of ointment. Keep up the ointment use for a good 3-5 days as it heals. After that, continue to keep it clean, but you can use lotion when needed instead of ointment, to keep the skin soft. Whatever lotion you use, it should be dye, fragrance, and lanolin free. All three of those ingredients work within your body to break down inks, and you may experience color loss, fading, or spotting. Not cool.

As far as bathing goes, it's okay to get your tattoo wet but don't soak it. Submerging your tattoo in a bath or hot tub can cause serious damage, so avoid those for 2-3 weeks, but showering is perfectly fine as long as you don't saturate your tattoo. If you get soap or shampoo on your tattoo, just rinse it quickly with water. Swimming should be avoided for at least 2 weeks. Be careful drying off, and just pat your tat dry.

After a few days, you will notice some peeling and possibly some scabbing. A little scabbing is sometimes normal and there is no need to panic. Apply warm, moist compresses to the scabs for about 5 minutes 2-3 times a day to soften them and they will eventually come off on their own. (Do not apply ointment or lotion to a softened scab ; wait for it to dry first) You will also start to itch, just like a sunburn when it begins to heal. Heed my words: don't pick, and don't scratch. You'll screw up your tat majorly. Picking scabs can result in color loss and potential scar tissue. If the skin itches, slap it lightly. If it is peeling, put lotion on it. And if it is scabbing, just leave it the hell alone. Your ink is almost healed, and now is not the time to ruin it because you can't keep your dick-beaters and booger hooks off of it.

Excessive sun exposure can fade your tat quickly, despite the use of vibrant, quality inks. Start using a minimum of SPF 30 sunblock. Coppertone makes a tat-specific sunblock now, as does Color Guard. Take care of your ink; you bought and paid for it, and it's yours to keep up with.

Now go forth, tadpoles, and be inked.

Who's got your back? I do.

The Wingman sends a special shout out to the crew at Black Orchid in Savannah, GA. You can visit my artist's own site here.

Inside Black Orchid

Friday, May 31, 2013

New product updates

In my never-ending quest to find suitable grooming products, I take the chances so you don't have to. That's the job of the Wingman. Learning from the experiences & wisdom of others is your job, young Padawans.

As we've established before I spend a fair amount of time with razor in hand making my pate smooth as freshly-squeezed Italian silk. That said, I've gone through a long list of shave products & razors in my time.

I think I may have finally found the perfect disposable razor in the Schick Quattro Titanium. It gives a good, clean shave without hacking my skin like a cheese grater, stays sharp for several shaves, and comes with a clever edging blade on the reverse of the pivot head. It's moderately priced and came with a nifty coupon in the package for the next pack. Bonus!

When I bought the razors, another product caught my eye on the shelf above. Always on the lookout for the best in shave goo, I spied a tube of Every Man Jack Shave Cream. I'd never heard of these guys before, and the stuff had a very snazzy upscale looking container, so I have it a shot. Their whole product line is geared toward grooming a refined gentleman without bankrupting him. But does it work?

According to the website, "This rich, low-foam formula softens and preps your skin and beard for a more comfortable shave. Won’t dry out skin or clog pores, either. Made for sensitive skin..." and that it contains something called Squalane derived from wheat germ, which lubricates and softens; olive oil extract that hydrates; chamomile that soothes; and aloe that heals. Nifty. So what doesn't it have? No parabens, no phthalates, no dyes, no sodium lauryl sulfate, and wasn't tested on animals. But does it work? Yes and no.

It is indeed a rich and low-foam cream. Problem is, that richness also clogs the bejeezus out of my razor. It will give you a great shave as long as you start with a steamed, damp beard or scalp, and you clean out the razor often, and I do mean often. If you often shave in a hurry, or lack patience, this might not be for you.

I had also previously stated that I wanted to try some of the new stuff coming out from AXE. While I haven't tried the shave products, I did go ahead and get one of the skin products. I'm always concerned about heavy scents in products so they had to first pass the sniff test. I took a whiff of the BOOST Energizing face wash and it smelled odd and kinda strong, almost off-putting. My face didn't need energizing, so I then smelled the CHILLED cooling face wash. More pleasant but still pretty strong, and my face wasn't feeling warm enough to need chilling. Instead I opted for the generally low-fragrance CONTROIL oily skin face scrub, because while I'm not prone to severe face grease, I do have a bit of shine in the T-zone. Gang, this stuff is the real deal. It only takes a small amount of scrub to lather the whole face and it leaves you feeling exceedingly clean. I highly recommend this product.

I also recently tried the Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser from Biore, just on a lark. They aren't kidding about the warming; as soon as you squirt this thick goop onto your fingers it starts to heat up and that heat  feels really interesting on your face. The heat soon fades, almost too soon, as you work it into your skin and the little beads that every facial cleanser is infused with these days scrub you clean. Of course, the bulk of the action is done through salicylic acid, found in every anti-acne product on the market. If you have a blackhead problem, give this a try & see if it help.

Okay, gang. That wraps up this latest update.  Feel free to let your wingman know if you've found stuff that works, or if you've found success based upon my advice. Who's got your back? I do.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Now Hear This, Volume 1

I'd like to make this a regular feature here at The Savvy Guyde. Part of being a savvy guy is being hip to music that doesn't suck monkey balls. Any assclown can listen to the local Top 40 station & hear the same ten or fifteen songs that the record labels want you to hear regurgitated on a 60-minute loop. That takes zero effort and zero imagination. You're above that chicanery, else you wouldn't be reading this blog.

I've lived a lifetime assiduously eschewing the drivel of average Top 40 pop music and listening instead to what used to be called New Wave and Alternative and then became Modern Rock and EDM (Electronic Dance Music). As I've matured into the Virtual Wingman that I am, I've found it a daunting challenge indeed to find new music that I can get into before it becomes popular and thusly ruined by overplay as it gets Top 40 rotation. As I find stuff I shall endeavor to share them with you in a timely manner. A savvy guy does not listen to Justin Bieber. A savvy guy does not listen to Taylor Swift. No, not even as bait to get laid. Ever. Again, you're above that.

That said, listen up and get savvy.

Capital Cities-- Safe and Sound

Found this gem from Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian (the duo who make up Capital Cities) by accident listening to Sirius a couple weekends back and it was absolutely love at first listen. Great beats, catchy hooks, impossible to keep from dancing while listening to. This is my new jam for Spring. Even features live trumpet instead of a sample, courtesy of young virtuoso Spencer Ludwig, and it really makes the song. Look for the full album out June 11th. This is just one of several clever videos out there for this song.

Icona Pop--I Love It (I Don't Care)

Great techno-pop dance music from Sweden, where good dance music seems to grow on trees. Caught this for the first time last week on Sirius as well. I dare you to sit still while listening. It demands to be blasted at peak volume with the top down.

 The Airborne Toxic Event--Timeless

Another accidental finding on Sirius (Detecting a pattern yet?). A few years back I fell head over heels with their song "Sometime Around Midnight" and even named it one of the best songs of 2008 on another blog site. This one grows on you rather quickly.

Radioactive/It's Time--Imagine Dragons

Took me awhile to finally get into these guys. I've been let down by so many newer alternative/modern rock bands that I'm reluctant to get into bands that are heavily hyped on alternative radio. You've probably already heard these but if not, you need to. Both of these songs are really great.

 Tegan & Sara--Closer

Twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin have been around awhile, an indie staple and a closely guarded secret of sorts.  I think I first heard them in 2004 with their song "Where Does The Good Go". This is a great pop track that should break them huge.

Metric--Breathing Underwater
It's not often when I can say I first heard a band by watching Carson Daly's bland late night tv show. I usually fall asleep before it comes on and even if I'm still awake, his show will put me to sleep before the first commercial. As a band, Metric has been hanging around in the background for awhile, and this is from their fifth album. Still, it's a damn sight better than the sizzurp-soaked , shinily polished turds they try to feed you on commercial Top 40 radio. Kinda reminds me of 90s shoe-gaze bands like Lush.

Pet Shop Boys--Axis
The first single off their upcoming "Electric" album, not due till July 15th, Axis is the kind of intelligent dance music that I've come to expect from a band that I've listened to since 1986. This looks to be a great return to the dancefloor epics I knew & loved from PSB after a couple of hit-or-miss albums that were sort of on the mostly mellow and tepid side. Oddly, it's damn near an instrumental, with muted, minimal vocals. Don;t watch the video if you're seizure prone.

And, of course, there's new Depeche Mode.....

Disclaimer: Yes, I am biased. Depeche Mode is my favorite band of all time.

The new album is called Delta Machine, and while I'm sad that it wasn't close to the glory that was "Violator" despite claims that it was a return to that sound, there are some good tracks on it and the new single is in my opinion the best track of the whole CD. Whereas the first single "Heaven" was an austere minimal (damn near funereal) ballad, "Soothe My Soul" is a dancefloor stomper with a dark, murky, sensual edge, just the way a Depeche Mode song should be. Play it LOUD, friends, and see what a 32-year career as the cutting edge of music brings to the table.

Who's got your back? I do.