Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reviews: Hawk Boy (formally As Cities Burn) EP and Ocean Is Theory EP

Sorry for the slowness lately. I have gotten kinda lazy. Having a real job has been wearing me down. Anyways I am back this week with two quick EP reviews from the bands that show a lot of potential. First up is...

Hawkboy - Hawkboy EP

First I should probably describe a bit about Hawkboy. The band is made up of two members. Anyone who ever has listened to As Cites Burn will be excited to hear the two members are the lead singer and drummer of that now-defunct group. When I first heard of Hawkboy i just figured it would be two guys from the band who did not want to let it go so they went around playing old ACB songs with two people. Boy was I wrong.

1. Two Bit- The first track catches you right at the beginning. It has an immediately catchy intro that builds into some nice guitar, almost sounding like something from the 80's. This track lets the listener know that   the passion ACB could show in a song is still there in full force. It also closes hard like a lot of old ACB songs used to.
2. Soundrel- Great production value shows with this song. These guys still now how to mix there stuff even if they do not have label support anymore. This song feels like it should be right behind 84 Sheepdog on ACB's last record Hell or High Water.
3. Mother London- Probably the most simple song of the bunch. The guitar work shines and drumming is fast and sporadic.
4. Damnkneesya- This song goes back to ACB's Come Now Sleep. Very mellow and slow tempos, but very far from a boring song. Ends on a very moody note that reminds the listener the emotion this group can capture in a few minuets.

Overall- I honestly hate to keep comparing Hawkboy to As Cities Burn because they are not really the same band. The sounds mix Hell or High Water and Come Now Sleep but still sound new. The guitars, the drums, the vocals, the ambiance, they are all there in perfect form. The only complaint I have is the lyrics. As Cities Burn was always known for their gut-wrenching lyrics and I hate to see that be the thing they change to differentiate themselves from one another. They are by no means bad though, still more thought provoking then 99% of the crap out there. I was heartbroken when I heard As Cities Burn broke up so this EP gets me so excited to see where they go from here. The album is on Itunes and you can get it for free from their Facebook as well (but support them and buy it please, it is well worth it).

Rating 5/5 "It's The Bee's Knees"

Ocean Is Theory - Future Fears EP

This bands first full length album is my most anticipated album of the year, BY FAR. I have been listening to these guys for a few years now. They have only put out two EP's up to this point. Nine songs is all I have had to listen to, but those nine songs have gotten more play then anything on my Ipod. Number of times played of those nine songs range from 256-187. Thats is how good these guys are. I was so excited to hear they signed with Razor and Tie earlier this year and have been waiting for their full length, which keeps getting pushed back. Well thankfully they gave us the Future Fears EP to hold us over, and does it ever.

1. Best Intentions- Instant favorite. That is all I can say. The first listen I was in love. Everyone who has heard this song is singing it to themselves later. With the strong hooks, stomping, clapping, and group vocals, this song is immediately catchy and stands out. It is also has much more of a pop sound to it then anything they have done to this point, which works really well here.
2. Underneath- Nice intro at the front and the song holds a solid mood the whole time. Probably the most similar to the older stuff of the 3 tracks. It shows Josh, the lead vocalist, has gotten significantly better with his range.
3. King Size Bed- More of an Indie sound but still hold the Ocean Is Theory sound. My favorite of the bunch lyrically.
4. Bonus* King Size Bed (acoustic)- Nice little added bonus. Not as good as the original but still a great version. Uses group stomping and clapping really well and the bride almost gives me goose bumps.

Overall: These guys are going to get huge, I have no doubt in my mine. After hearing their new stuff and the new direction to a more accessible sound, it is going to happen. They are young and talented, and I sure hope they stay that way as long as they can. They managed to change their sound while still keeping the vibe that makes them Ocean Is Theory. Also they have MASTERED group vocals. I CAN NOT WAIT for their full length, it needs to get here now.

Rating 5/5 - "It's The Bee's Knees!"

Go buy both of these EP's, now. It will cost you less then $10 and you will get two FANTASTIC albums.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Beef XXL Grilled Stuffed Burrito

I cannot decide if this is the Taco Bell I like or if this is more like the crap they have been shoveling lately as specialty items. I mean it is more of the same yes, but at the same time it is something new and I honestly was kind of excited to try this item. There is a TON of stuff shoved into this thing. Heck, mine broke open in like three spots before I even opened it. So what is it and how was it?
looks like it was a little to big

The XXL grilled stuffed burrito is beef, rice, beans, sour cream, guac, fiesta salsa, avocado ranch, and cheese. So do these things blend, or does it just taste like a handful of shit? I am going to go with meh, not quite shit... but still not awesome. Lets start with the good. The fiesta salsa always adds a great freshness to the grilled stuffed burrito. I LOVE the avocado ranch sauce. it makes it creamy but light. I honestly wish they would of just done that and scratched the quac. That is my first complaint. They quac is so over processed to the point where it just taste like chemicals. Another complaint is just way too much stuff that does not really turn into anything. It all just seems to add up to turn into filler. The only things I could really taste was the salsa and avocado ranch. I suppose it might be cause I got beef or because it is a grilled stuffed burrito but it still was kind of a disappointment.

Rating- 3/5 "It's Just Meh"

I am glad they tried something interesting and new, even if it did not work that well. I am still loving the avocado ranch and want to add that to everything there! That and the volcano Sauce.

Two other notes. 

1. Crunch wraps are only 99 cents this week. Looks like Taco Bell is adding a new weekly value item every week this summer. Genius on there part. 

2. Anyone who is watching the NBA Finals and has been, this is for you. I have learned to HATE the heat at this point. Going into the finals I really had no problem with them and was neutral to who one. Now it had turned into a burning hate for them and I want to watch them loose. This is no fault but theirs either. Just watching them and their behavior pisses me off. Just venting.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: GiGi's Cupcakes

I was never a huge fan of the frozen Yogurt dessert fad. I am not a huge fan of ice cream. Now baked goods I can get in to. There have been dozens of new places popping up all over the country offering premium bakery items. I could not be more excited. Some of these places offer only cupcakes. Sprinkles and Gigi's are the two I have been to. This is my second escapade to Gigi's and I thought I would record it for you guys.

Now Gigi's offers some damn good cupcakes. They have your typical flavors like chocolate and vanilla to crazy flavors like champagne and margarita. I decided to get a little adventures with my choices this time around and got the Kentucky Bourbon Pie and the Strawberry Lemonade. How were they?

I will start off with the more exotic of the two, the Strawberry Lemonade. I know this sounds like a disgusting flavor for a cupcake but wow was I pleasantly surprised. For some reason it is not a flavor listen on the website so I cannot give you the Gigi's description but from what I could tell it was a lemon cupcake with strawberry icing with a little gummy lemon wedge on top. I know you might be thinking it still sounds too sour and sugary but they do a great job getting the Strawberry Lemonade flavor without overdoing it. The lemon is faint but present and the strawberry is more sweet. You know that taste when you get strawberry lemonade that is too sweet? imagine that flavor, but toned down. That is the taste of the cupcake.

Rating 4/5 "It's Just Swell"

I did not LOVE it but it was still damn good. If you wanna try something new give it a go for sure.

Now for the Kentucky Bourbon Pie. This one was on Gigi's website. It is described as "Bourbon cake filled with pecans and chocolate chips topped with cream cheese frosting with pecans and chocolate chips drizzled with Carmel and ganache". Yes, it is as EVERY bit as good as it sounds. I do not really know what to say about this one that it does not say about itself. The cake is filled to the brim with melty chocolate chips and pecan bits. The frosting is rich and creamy, matching perfectly with the bourbon cake. You can taste the bourbon slightly, but only slightly. From the first bite I was in love, this is one of the best cupcakes I have ever had. EVER.

Rating 5/5 "It's the Bee's Knees" 

Highly recommend this one. One of the best cupcakes I have ever had in my life! 

Overall: Gigi's cupcakes are awesome. I like them more then Sprinkles but that is because I think the frosting and flavors are better. I will warn though, there is A LOT of frosting. These are rich and eating more then one is hard to do. If you do not like frosting this might not be the place for you.

Will be reviewing the new XXL Grilled stuffed burrito this weekend

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Review: McDonalds McNugget Dipping Sauces

I do not know what it is about McNuggets but I love them. There is something different about them from all the other nuggets out there. I know they are horrible for you and not real chicken and what not but I don't really care. Between the familiar shapes they come in or the almost sweet breading that surrounds them, I always have enjoyed McNuggets. Unfortunately McDonalds knows I, and many more, feel this way so they charge a small fortune to get them. When I saw McDonalds was offering 20 for $5 AND added 4 new sauces, I decided use this as an excuse to get some. Then I realized it was a good time to do a quick little review on ALL of the dipping sauces at McDonalds.

There are a grand total of eight sauces. Flavors include :Spicy Buffalo, Sweet Chili, Honey Mustard, Creamy Ranch, Sweet and Sour, Tangy BBQ, Hot Mustard, and Chipotle BBQ. The first four are the "new" sauces.

Spicy Buffalo: Had good buffalo sauce flavor. Looked to creamy but had great smoothness to it while still having plenty of kick. The problem is it does not go very well with the sweetness from the McNuggets. This sauce would be awesome on a Hot N Spicy though.

Sweet Chili: This sauce was introduced a little over a year ago around the Winter Olympics. When it came out, I loved it. They have not changed it which is good news. It reminds me a lot of an asian flavor.   Imagine the Sweet and Sour sauce but with a kick of spice. It goes soo well with the nuggets as well. I think the only problem is the seeds in the sauce tend to sink to the bottom which makes the last few dips extra hot.

Honey Mustard: This is nothing special, your typical Honey Mustard flavor. the sauce itself is filled with mustard seeds which made it difficult for dipping. The sauce did not stick to the nuggets very well.

Creamy Ranch: This one confused me.... did they not already have ranch? It is actually a great ranch dipping sauce. Almost a buttermilk ranch but not quite that strong.

Sweet and Sour: This is the archetype of McNuggets dipping sauces. It is a sweet sauce that has the perfect amount of almost honey flavor while still have a good acidy flavor. It goes PERFECTLY with the McNuggets sweet flavor and is still one of the best sauces ever. It goes well on fries too.

Tangy BBQ: has a typical smokey BBQ flavor, nothing special or exciting really.

Hot Mustard: Has a great consistency, nice and smooth. Has a sweet mustard flavor at first but a spicy kick comes in toward the end.

Chipotle BBQ- Almost too similar to the Tangy BBQ. The spicy Chipotle flavor does not come in until the after taste really and has a way too thick consistency.

Anyways here is how I rate the sauces in order, from best to worst. A bit of a different rating system but still works.

1. Sweet Chili
2. Sweet and Sour
3. Hot Mustard
4. Creamy Ranch
5. Chipotle BBQ
6. Spicy Buffalo
7. Honey Mustard
8. Tangy BBQ

Which sauce do y'all love? Let me know!

Oh and sorry for the such a long break.