People’s Podcast – Where Everyone Hates Russo

Punt Monday in the head. Just don’t tear your shoulder doing your viper pose afterward.

We’ve got Battleground to talk about. It was a show. So is this one. We also dish some dirt on Mr. Vincent Russo and a certain Nashville-based company.

Not our best show. But it’s your show!

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Click here to download (about 15 MB)

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Culture My Pop – All About Audio Drama

It’s great when a poorly planned podcast seems to just fall together. This is one of those times.

We’re joined by Christian Madera, who co-produces The Once and Future Nerd audio series. We learn about adapting something originally written for TV to audio, creating a world of magic and violence strictly from sound, how to make violent scenes sound as brutal as possible, and a lot more. Plus, we even find a way to make Skyrim sexual, because that’s just what the internet needs.

Plus, witness our play-by-play on the customer service call from hell that has been terrifying cable customers all over the internet. Spoiler: We like this guy, and it’s the most fun we’ve had doing this in a while!

It’s all here, so lock in, fools!

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Click here to download (about 20 MB).

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Music Review – Rise Against’s “The Black Market”

 

(riseagainst.com)

(riseagainst.com)

Buy this album on Amazon and support this website at the same time!

Sometimes, being a rockstar can be boring, or at least that’s what “The Black Market,” Rise Against’s seventh studio album, would lead you to believe.

RiseAgainst-SirenSongoftheCounterCulture_original

(absolutepunk.net)

If fans want to dispute the Chicago punk outfit’s mainstream success, we’ll show you three gold certifications that say you’re wrong. Ever since their 2004 major label debut, “Siren Song Of The Counter-Culture” Rise Against have been taking the progressive advocacy with which they are synonymous and dressing it up in an outfit that gets the attention of alt-rock DJ’s everywhere.

Of course, like most punk bands that permeate the mainstream rock scene, Rise Against’s back catalogue features some releases that weren’t certified gold, but should have been certified “raw.” Take the band’s sophomore outing, “Revolutions Per Minute” a gritty effort released on Fat Wreck Chords that significantly boosted the band’s “indie cred” and would eventually shoot them into mainstream notoriety, effectively costing them said indie cred.

“Counterculture” sacrificed hardcore grit for meaningful melody, a decision that led to gold certification number one. It was also a decision that, less importantly, drew the ire of some punk rock devotees, because God knows we hate it when our favorite bands become successful (see any website on the internet ever, or this popular Morrissey song).

But that’s not our area. In fact, “Counterculture” is probably one of this writer’s favorite albums, and compromising something small for an overall bigger sound is something this writer can appreciate. That’s not where Rise Against went wrong.

(gigwise.com)

(gigwise.com)

Guided by Tim McIlrath’s dynamic vocals, sometimes full-bodied, sometimes razor-thin, and a full onslaught of loud and unapologetic guitar riffs, “Sufferer & The Witness” and “Appeal To Reason” made protest sound good. Plus, any time you hear substantive rock on the radio is a little victory.

And then came “Endgame,” and the game ended.

(dyingscene.com)

(dyingscene.com)

“Endgame” hit shelves in 2011, and it brought the same politically charged rock, the same sometimes aggressive-sometimes chill vocals, the same Rise Against. It wasn’t boring, really; it was tired.

Since then, the band released a compilation album loaded with B-sides and rarities, presumably fueling up for another album of original material. With “The Black Market,” the band half delivered: They put out a new album, at least.

If “Endgame” lacked passion, then “The Black Market” is a musical passion vacuum. Maybe mainstream success finally caught up to the Chicago rockers, or maybe the group feels like sticking to the sound that got them to the dance in the first place. Whatever it is, it holds “The Black Market” down and suffocates it in the unending chokehold of averageness.

From the opening cut, “The Great Die-Off,” to the closing “Bridges,” it’s almost impossible to distinguish a track on this album, with every cut feeling too formulaic: Slow build, smart lyrics, gang vocals, drop D tuning, quantize, repeat. Even the album’s title track gets lost in the generic Black Market fuzz, and it’s a shame too, because the track felt like it was supposed to be important.

Everything about the album just screams “Tired,” from the repetitive riffs and solos to McIlrath’s detached vocals. On one particular track, the pop-punk flavored “Tragedy + Time,” it feels like McIlrath went out for Chinese one day and let the fortune cookies do the writing. Can straight-edge people have Chinese?

McIlrath’s passion makes but a cameo appearance on the hard and fast “The Eco-Terrorist In Me,” ripping into a complacent populace and questioning its ethics. But even that song, despite its strong start, quickly plummets into the Black Market formula.

(dodmagazine.es)

(dodmagazine.es)

The only other gem on this album worth mentioning comes in the almost-acoustic “People Live Here,” a track that has already been compared to the band’s 2008 tear jerker “Hero of War.” McIlrath’s toned-down performance through the entire album serves him well in this instance, channeling a much more sombre version of himself. That, combined with his interplay with an accompanying strings section makes this track a lot more powerful than “Hero of War,” presuming you get choked up for complex instrumentation.

Overall, “The Black Market” touches on less political material than any other Rise Against album, instead focusing on lyrics that are self-aware or dote on relationships. But the work is indicative of a band’s unwillingness to move forward with a sound, and ultimately that is what makes this album a chore to listen to.

Some fans criticize Rise Against from “moving away from punk rock,” and this album’s endless similarities to “Endgame” all but cement the band’s intentions to remain a mainstream outfit. It’s funny in a way, because Rise Against has reached a point in their careers that their hardcore idols faced decades earlier: To change or not to change? Rise Against have evidently elected to stay the same, to keep the same, boring sound, and, really, is there anything more punk rock than that?

Keep the conversation going on Twitter, @DesDelgadillo.

People’s Podcast – Where We’re All About Public Contract Signings

Behold! Back on schedule, hopefully, it’s the podcast that lets you hit Monday with a running knee to the face!

This week, we speculate on many a-cryptic tweet from Sting and CM Punk, talk Kenta’s new WWE contract, sing our praise for the main event scene in WWE right now, and continue singing NXT’s praises. Plus, we try to figure out who the hell Damien Sandow will be this week.

It’s all here for your listening pleasure, so tune in!

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Click here to download (about 21 MB).
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World Cup Final Preview, Prediction

(Chris McGrath, Getty Images)

(Chris McGrath, Getty Images)

So we’ve finally reached the World Cup final. Thirty-two teams started, but only two remain. This is a final 24 years in the making, with Germany beating Argentina in the final of the 1990 World Cup, the last time either team won the most coveted trophy in the world of soccer, perhaps even in all of sports.

Germany comes into this match riding on a wave of momentum after a 7-1 thrashing of host-nation, Brazil. Argentina, meanwhile, comes into the final off the back of a hard-fought victory in penalties against the Netherlands. In most pundits’ eyes, the Germans are the clear favorites, their precision passing and dynamic movement proving too much for every opponent they have faced thus far. However, the South American contingent, battered as they may be with injuries to Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero (although the latter made a cameo appearance against the Dutch) will not roll over for anyone. Plus, with an Argentinian Pope, perhaps some divine intervention will steer La Albiceleste to a win.

The Lineups

Germany:

Against Argentina, Joachim Low will probably field the same 4-2-3-1 lineup he started against France and Brazil:

Neuer

Lahm—————Boateng—————-Hummels————-Howedes

         Khedira———————–Schweinsteiger

Mueller——————Kroos———————–Ozil

Klose

One of the talking points about this selection is whether or not Low will choose to move Lahm back into midfield to try and man-mark Messi. While this might seem like a good idea, Low might be reticent to make this tactical switch given the success he’s had over the last two games with the above selection; in my opinion, he’ll probably keep Lahm at right-back, trusting that Khedira and Schweinsteger can do enough to contain “La Pulga.” Mats Hummels’ fitness is also a possible problem, the central defender struggling with a knee injury since the beginning of the tournament and being withdrawn at halftime against Brazil; at the time of writing, his inclusion as a starter is up in the air, so expect Per Mertesacker to slot in if injury does indeed keep the Borusssia Dortumnd star on the bench.

Argentina:

Unlike his opposite number, Alejandro Sabella has much less room with which to tinker tactically. Expect a starting lineup resembling a 4-3-3, with Messi free to roam as the “false nine.”

Romero

Zabaleta————Demichelis————–Garay——————–Rojo

Biglia——————-Mascherano———————-Perez

 Higuain———————Messi—————————-Lavezzi

At the time of writing, Angel DiMaria’s inclusion in the starting lineup remains a mystery; he was on the bench against the Netherlands, but he is still racing to be fully fit by Sunday. The Real Madrid winger provides great pace and dribbling skills, but the likelihood of re-injury is too high to risk him as a starter; Perez will probably keep his spot on the left. Another X-factor is the inclusion of Sergio Aguero. Against the Netherlands, the Manchester City man played his first minutes since his injury earlier in the tournament, coming on for Higuain during extra time. However, Aguero was wholly ineffective against the Dutch, so expect both Higuain and Lavezzi to retain their place as starters.

The Tactics

A lot of people are expecting Germany to run roughshod over Argentina, much like they did against Brazil; however, while the Brazil game is still fresh in everyone’s mind, one must keep in mind that Argentina will not prove as discombobulated, and frankly overwhelmed, as Brazil. Against the Selecao, Die Mannschaft faced virtually no opposition except for maybe the first ten minutes, when the Brazilians started strong. From there, it was boys against men, with Germany stomping away at Brazil like it was nobody’s business.

Much has been made about the performances of Toni Kroos. The

Kroos vs Brazil

Kroos vs Brazil (squawka.com)

midfielder has been very important for his team, picking out teammates to incorporate into attack and even scoring twice against Brazil. Against the Selecao, Kroos accumulated a more-than-impressive 93% pass accuracy and was very active in his distribution. Of note is Kroos’ tendency to send long passes over to the right side, and why wouldn’t he, when on that side he can pick out Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller?

(Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

(Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Muller brings to Germany someone who provides a lot of movement up front, unsettling defenses by constantly switching with Miroslav Klose as the lone striker and by moving wide and cutting in from the right. Klose, too, provides his fair share of movement off the ball as well as an instinctive nose for goal. Key to Germany’s attack will be the dynamic movement of all their pieces, as the Germans bring a short touch game reminiscent of Barcelona during the Pep Guardiola era. These touches, combined with their exquisite movement, are enough to unsettle any defense. Add to the mix Sami Khedira’s ability to pick out passes from deep positions, and you have a German side capable of pounding down the door that is the opposition’s defense.

On the other end, Argentina will have to rely heavily on the

Mascherano vs Netherlands

Mascherano vs Netherlands (squawka.com)

defensive work of Javier Mascherano. Before the game against Netherlands, I said the following: “Mascherano may turn out to be more important than Messi in this one.” And indeed he was; while many expected a big performance from Messi, the diminutive Argentine was met with an inspired Ron Vlaar as well as a concerted effort by the Dutch to neutralize his movement by marking him with multiple men. On the other hand, Mascherano proved instrumental in thwarting Dutch attacks and in organizing Argentina’s lines. While “El Jefecito” knows how to distribute the ball in attack, as he did against Belgium, in the defensive end is where he’ll probably be most called to action against the dynamic German attack.

With Mascherano likely defending from deep, the question becomes, “Will Germany keep Argentina on the back foot the whole time?” The answer to that question is, “No.” Yes, Germany provides a threat up front, that much is crystal clear. However, the recent performances of Lucas Biglia, Enzo Perez, and Ezequiel Lavezzi should provide comfort to Argentina fans. All three men have assumed defensive responsibilities, marking closely and closing down gaps quickly. Against the Netherlands, this allowed Argentina to recover the ball in their own half and to start attacks from the back.

(AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

(AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina, then, does have offensive options. Perez has shown movement and pace that almost makes losing Di Maria seem like not too big of a deal; this same movement allows Argentina an outlet from the back and a link to the front. They can attack down the left, with Rojo pushing up and combining with Lavezzi, like they did in the game against Switzerland (although Rojo’s somewhat poor crossing and the Argentina players’ height disadvantage might make this the less desirable route).

Conversely, they can do as they did against the Netherlands and attack down the right in an attempt to exploit both Mesut Ozil’s general unwillingness to track back and Benedikt Hoewedes’ lack of pace. Regardless of the choice, Perez will be instrumental in ushering Argentina out of their own half; when he came off in extra time against the Netherlands, Argentina were pinned back, forced to absorb mounting pressure while relying on the heroics of Mascherano to keep the Dutch from scoring.

Mathieu Valbuena getting a ball past Philipp Lahm. (AP/Getty Images South America)

Mathieu Valbuena getting a ball past Philipp Lahm. (AP/Getty Images South America)

In truth, this game will prove to be more evenly matched than many observers believe. The German attack will undoubtedly provide a lot of trouble for the Argentina defense, but while the Argentines’ back four struggled in the beginning of the World Cup, they have improved as the tournament has progressed. The German back line, meanwhile, has already shown its own weaknesses. In the game against France, Mathieu Valbuena attacked Germany’s right side in the first half before focusing on the left side in the second half. On the left, he was often able to get in between Lahm and Jerome Boateng, cutting back and facilitating a few shots on target that Manuel Neuer did well to save. Had France been less profligate in their finishing, they may have even won against Die Mannschaft.

Against Brazil, the Germans showed the same weakness that they showed against Algeria: balls over the top. In the Algeria game, Manuel Neuer showed why he is the best “sweeper keeper” in the game, coming out of his box often to intercept Algerian attacks with his feet; against Brazil, he was visibly upset when a ball over the top beat both Lahm and Boateng, allowing Oscar to put one past the German shot stopper.

The Verdict

We’re set for a classic World Cup final. As I said in the beginning, this is 24 years in the making. On the German end, Joachim Low will surely see this as the culmination of a project he’s taken part in for the last ten years, ever since he started with Die Mannschaft as Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant right after Euro 2004. During this ten-year span, he’s taken Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup (as Klinsmann’s assistant), second place at Euro 2008, third place at the 2010 World Cup, and a shocking semifinal elimination at Euro 2012. Surely he’s overdue for a trophy.

Argentina, meanwhile, are looking to break what many fans believe to be a curse. La Albiceleste has not tasted World Cup glory since 1986, when the legendary Diego Armando Maradona hoisted the cup against the very same team who beat his country in the final four years later and who now, in 2014, will look to do the same again. To many, this is also Lionel Messi’s World Cup, perhaps his final opportunity to carve his name into the pillar of the immortals and to cement himself as the greatest footballer the world has ever seen. This is pride, this is honor, this is, perhaps, a legacy.

Winner: Argentina

(Clive Rose / Getty Images Sport)

(Clive Rose / Getty Images Sport)

I’ve read many a report predicting Kroos vs. Mascherano as the defining matchup for this game, but I actually see Biglia being more instrumental against Kroos, his ability to close down quickly possibly preventing the German from picking out passes as comfortably as he would like. I know that Germany brings a lot of firepower upfront, but I also think too many people are underestimating the solidity of Argentina’s defense. When Germany get into the final third, they will have to contend against both a back line that has not allowed a single goal during the knockout stages and an inspired Mascherano. Upfront, Argentina’s attackers may not be as impressive as Germany’s (except for maybe Messi, of course), but I think they can exploit the Germans’ defensive frailties.

Agree? Disagree? Am I a genius or an idiot? Tell me on Twitter, @ChinchillaRudy

UPDATE:

e1123997d0e924dd90c00a7005be195d_crop_north

(Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

___________________________________________________________________________

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*All stats taken from Squawka.com

Culture My Pop – From Message Boards to Comedy Clubs

Ever have that internet friend who you never actually talked to, but you thought would probably be pretty awesome? Meet Jeremy Smith, writer, standup comedian, and funny male.

Back in the days of E-Fedding, Jeremy Smith was a god of the message board. All other internet peasants cowered, lest they be struck down by his E-wrath, this writer included.

Since then, Smith found his calling in standup comedy, writing a very funny internet talk show, and smiting fools for real.

Bear witness as we talk shop on our favorite areas in standup, dos and don’ts, the importance of networking, how to turn nerdy obsessions into bits, awkward scenarios involving blue comedy and little children, and working with Dustin Kaufman and Chris Porter.

It’s a hoot-and-a-half, so tune in. Make sure to check out Jeremy Smith’s Twitter, @JeremyInKC, and Kauf Drops with Dustin Kaufman.

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Click here to download (about 15 MB).

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Culture My Pop – The One Where We Talk About Soccer Like Everyone Else

A very happy Saturday to your collective asses.

This week, Rudy Chinchilla decides to fulfill one of his two contractually obligated podcast appearances, and we’re talking soccer. A lot of stories, most of which I don’t understand, but you might, so tune in!

Plus, an earth-shattering announcement @ChinchillaRudy says you cannot miss!

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Click here to download (about 20 MB).

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People’s Podcast – Emma Goes to Walmart

We missed the mark for our usual Monday release, but the wrestling gods smiled upon us this fair week, dear listener. We have much about which to banter concerning the haps in pro graps.

The bubble bursts as Emma is arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart. Yeah, Walmart! We mock this at length and devise a foolproof plan for WWE management to keep their superstars away from such embarrassing locales. Plus, a flashy jacket returned to Raw with Chris Jericho inside it, and next month will see a public contract signing in Japan where a table will probably not be flipped over and a fight will probably not ensue, but we’ve been wrong before.

All this and more on an exciting, late, People’s Podcast. Click da ting!

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Click here to download (about 15 MB).

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Culture My Pop – The One Where Blind People Make Fun of Blind People

With the Oreo Monster safely en route to Orlando for a special appearance at our developmental territory, we recruit the services of Twitter jokester @BangMyBongo, better known to us as Shane Cantan. Shane calls in from the heart of paradise, which is also known for its excessive background noise, apparently.

But never fear, dear lover of jokes and naughty words, for Shane brings with him a bundle of funnies regarding internet-stalking celebrities. Plus, we condemn Linkedin for being the most useless location in all of cyber space.

Other topics of conversation include: accidentally discovering veganism, the perils of Lego, and a convention for blind people. Scary, right?

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People’s Podcast – The One Where Siri is a Lemon

Greetings, mighty fan of pro graps. On this momentous day, we celebrate 18 years of Austin 3:16 references, only we forget to tell you on the podcast. Our bad.

Actual topics of conversation this week include but are not limited to: Siri flatly refusing to be a Rosebud, Ring of Honor’s first live pay-per-view and the fallout, highlights from Raw, NXT’s radness, and late breaking news on a certain badass bloke from the U.K. gracing PWG with his badass presence as a badass. Bad ass!

It’s all here for your listening pleasure, so click it, fools!

And while you’re busy clicking on stuff, consider using our super special link for all your Amazon.com purchases. It’s the same Amazon.com you know and love, only every purchase you make helps us out a little bit. Bookmark it and use frequently, and we’ll owe you big.

Click here to download (about 16 MB).

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Where pop culture goes blind.