Wolfmother.

Wolfmother have always been an enigma to me, because I have never really seen them as anything worthwhile listening to - I think they're not a particularly notable band at all. There's none of the 70's sparkle and energy of Blue Cheer (which I personally feel they are closest to) and much of the passion and "energy" modern fans associate with them is not present to me. A perfect example is The Joker And The Thief - where is the passion? It's loud, it's proud, it's angry ... and it's inarticulate and boring. And by passion I reference evident angst and energy; along the vein of MC5 some connect them to or the classics like Zeppelin. The lyrics of their previous works may attempt to be whimsical in a psychedelic style but the music does not support the premise - a poor man's Steppenwolf or Kyuss, with no willingness to push the envelope. I felt precious little passion in the writing of their Self-titled début, that this lack of “care” for the structure of the songs themselves undermined the “energy” of their presentation. . With this context established Cosmic Egg was another album I expected to be a fundamental disappointment – and I was not surprised in any way. It has some definite promise in areas but is again ruined by a lack of willingness on Wolfmother’s part to challenge themselves as artists, and generally disappointing song writing that makes many of these “epic” tunes overstay even the Grecian choir’s welcome.

I read a lot of reviews and opinions on Cosmic Egg, the same returns resonate with me. It is a consistent litany of music critics trying vainly to reach for their musical past and ending up as confused as the band. I see lines like "Wolfmother still parties like it's backstage at a Uriah Heep show", "like one of those crazy Black Sabbath stories" and "powerful and poignant rock n' roll record with all the ingredients of a modern classic" and I fume inside. This has to stop. This has to stop now. It is not good, it is not standout, it is not exceptional when a band is merely like someone else. If you want to make Rock and Roll - (and I would dispute that they actually do), it is not sufficient to be like. That's not conviction or passion - that's confusion. If someone becomes typecast by how they compare to other bands rather than having metaphors applied to them. It may be something of a trope-ridden line; but Wolfmother need to push themselves into a new direction and extend on what they are throwing homage to. I'm not expecting them to invent a new direction, they just need to actually step out of the comfort zone and write something non-derivative, to take risks. When you make a great album, you make it one of two ways. The first is you make it original and new and fresh - and that means people describe it in metaphor. This is not metaphor, and the album remains about as far away from a Modern Rock Classic as Australian music can conceivably arrive..

And that leaves only one other way for this to be brilliant - the "Persuader" Direction, to make a truly amazing album that embraces it’s own influences entirely instead of ending up stranded between the middle ground. Wolfmother however fail even at this. The music is unfocused, the solos don't feel like they have any power - and bereft of context, Andrew Stockdale's voice is just annoying New Moon Rising's hooks don't sound infectious at all, Sundial has none of the atmosphere that makes those "Crazy Black Sabbath Stories" so powerful (nor does it have iommi's sheer power). Pilgrim's and Sundial feature none of the "unforgettable" riffs I was told to expect - rather they feel pretty underwhelming given the standard set. When I hear "unforgettable" I think something powerful, convincingly - possessing an almost unnatural energy akin to Sabbath's Symptom of the Universe, not overlong pieces of 1970 worship. In one of the truly quite transcendent victories on the album - In the Morning, songwriting undermines concept. It remains huge, aggressive, wielding a monster tune and hitting the right spots - until the band refuses to end the bloody song. Queue a good concept ruined by overstaying the welcome and you have another audible sigh echoing from this critic's consciousness . The bass is not killer - it's about as effective as an Irish injury, it works against the music. Unlike bands that try and really wholeheartedly embrace their influences and rework that into something new, sharp, cutting and passionate - they stumble around.

If you want to re imagine a 70's style that was so iconic, important and varied (especially psychedelic) you have to have a clarity of purpose - because you must stand out from the contemporaries and those that came before you. A good example is the Gaslight Anthem - They are simple, They are (not just sound) sincere, and they kill you every time. Wolfmother are never this consistently enough. They do have some pretty damn good moments - all of the things above that I criticised are actually quite solid, they just needed to be taken further. A definite gap exists between what they seem to be capable of at their peaks and what is presented in LP form. As mentioned previously with the example of In the Morning - most of their music feels over-long and yet too short. Personally, I’m operating under the feeling they try to accomplish too much in a four minute song (hello Sundial, I’m looking at your attempt at an epic-yet-concise “story”) and that makes the whole experience end so soon - yet sound so dense. Amidst this bipolar dichotomy of a song attempting to accomplish too much in space too little, I’m struck with the feeling the subtlety that could give Cosmic Egg real power is completely eclipsed. Violence of the Sun is actually excellent and a real savior for the labum- but they just consistently fail to push the envelope. They get a 7/10 and have never improved that score - if anything losing Chris Ross brings them down a .5.

They're a bunch of confused Australians honestly misguided enough to say they quit because of "irreconcilable personal and musical differences". Nobody should ever claim such legalese when they clearly sound like they don't even know what they want to be playing, let alone what they disagree on. For the love of god, people are calling Cosmic Egg VINTAGE Wolfmother. Vintage. VINTAGE. What the hell? As if their records mean something already in the grand scale of contemporary music. How long is it going to take before someone else other than me stands the bloody hell up and shouts it to the crowd that the emperor has no clothes? We obsess over Wolfmother, Ben Lee, we ignore Architecture In Helsinki, Machine Translations, Virgin Black and drove Destroyer 666 away? Now with the Return of Wolfmother we are prepared to let them get away with this twice.

Goddamnit. Australia.

Goddamnit.

___________________________

PS:. To those who still enjoy a very opinionated and passionate 1970's era punk styling, actually grab yourself both albums by the American Quartet The Gaslight Anthem, those being Sink or Swim and The 59 Sound. I doubt you will regret it. They even managed to make PitchforkMedia's reviewers sound like human beings again. Truly something special.

Next up who knows? Maybe Nickelback (Grizzlies).

First steps.

This entry attempts to be as close to a fundamental entry point to competitive team fortress 2 as possible for new players - although not an enormously extensive write-up. Okay, the first - and easily point of greatest important with any kind of pursuit, is you need to have a clear idea of how far you want to go and what you want to acheive. If you intend to get to the very top, have that clearly established - and if you are less sure, then acknowledge that fully. Having a clear idea of what you want to do - or what you aren't very clear about at all, is always helpful in the beginning.

I know a lot of people who are attempting to get into competitive tf2 are familar with this article on gotfrag or this link , and for the most part it provides a simple, easily understood guideline to the beginning of tf2. There's nothing entirely specific here - but it gives you a semi set idea of what competitive tf2 is going to look like, and the tools required to get involved. Read these - understand them, and understand their limitations because that is a concept I'll get back to later. Understanding limitations and being able to draw your own experiences and conclusions from in game is everything. Furthermore, there are a lot of people in this game who will state "I want help" when in truth, this isn't true. Try and be as honest with yourself as possible - on a personal level most competitive players I know don't mind if a person is happy where they are, but if you act with arrogance above your station - don't expect much assistance, or to really achieve anything. Be honest with yourself, your team, and your community.

I know a lot of other people like to preface these kinds of discussions with personal anecdotes about how they "got good" and the tools or skillsets involve. You will experience testimonials when you play this game - that some players play this game relentlessly and tirelessly, putting in raw hours of any form of the game. Some scouts will duel nonstop or practice in ammomod servers, and you will encounter demomen who get tr_rocket_shooting out for an hour each day to familiarise themselves. There's a lot I can talk about with respect to pickups, bball, aim training and all those other concepts - it's something you can debate the finer points on for hours. But I won't - the tl;dr is this simple.

Try them all, and if it works for you, then do it. Personally, I find any kind of activity (Duels/Bball/Pickups/Scrims) to be helpful for my soldier - but I have to be constantly pushed and extended, playing against superior opponents or opponents who are equally motivated if I want it to hold my interest. However, it will be different for you - as it is different for everyone, so find what you enjoy and what provides your comfort zone. My opinion on this also extends to whatever little configuration changes you want to make - invisible models, different weapon viewmodel field of views (although for the love of god, please use fov_desired 90). Here's a competitive config of sorts if you want to take a look at how they might be set up.

Now, for links and concepts that can actually be universally useful.

Demo files - these are critical. Both Personal/Point of View Demo files, as well as those of sourcetv, these are excellent tools. It's a lot harder to gloss over your mistakes - or a team's mistakes, when evidence is presented to you, and they can be purely entertaining to watch as well.

If you have a server, there are autorecording tools for sourcetv files out there - I'll leave you to chase that down. As for recording your own Personal point of veiws - this requires diligence. Or being lazy and clicking around on this link. Make sure you watch those.

Firstly I will start with the ESEA - EsportsEA website. This is a league which uses their own servers to provide sourcetv files of every single game played for their leagues. As ESEA happens to have the invite level competition - which is more or less the top tier american teams, there's always opportunity here to pick up

http://esportsea.com/index.php?s=league&d=standings&division_id=1365 - Record of Past Invite level EsportsEA american games.

http://esportsea.com/index.php?s=league&d=standings&division_id=1364 - Same as above but for Open.

http://esportsea.com/index.php?s=league&d=schedule&date=&game_id=43&division_level=all - Schedule for the upcoming games in EsportsEA league.

Unfortunately a lot of the past files aren't availible for loading/get broken every update, but you should check these religiously.

www.etf2l.org - European TF2's main league. Can be difficult to track down demo files worth watching here - but generally viewing the "Tables" and looking at all the division one matches is a place to start.

vanillatf2.org- This is the place for European TF2 at the high level, and thus links to all those sourcetv files. There's a handy little matchticker, and over time you will familiarise yourself with who is worth watching.

I may update this with more links as necessary or provided.

last edited - 24/6/2010 ;; fixed some links, improved clarity.

Hello.

Possibly a strange place to put blog entries, I know. Perhaps people expected me to use a livejournal or something similar.

Nevertheless, I digress. I will probably use this as a primary blog from now on - links on methods to reach me are provided, since I have had correspondence on those matters before. There may be some relevant video gaming (mostly Team Fortress 2 at the moment) related links posted to games, etcetera. Ultimately the purpose behind this is to give a little insight into my thoughts on tf2, even if they are not coming from a particularly fantastic standpoint. This means that I will attempt to write a few articles - provide a few links, cover all my bases if possible.

I may also post other thoughts here, perhaps. Anyway, I suppose it is irrelevant for now.
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