Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thirteenth step A perfect circle

This is my second attempt to blog from my phone. For give the dust and rust. If you have never heard of Maynard James Keenan, look him up. He helped shape art rock since the 90s. He is on the same level as Trent Reznor, another name you should know. You probably know him as the creator of the social network movie soundtrack. He has done so much more.

Back to the Thirteenth step. A perfect circle was a softer side project of Maynard compared to his main hard rock band Tool. You can hear every word clearly and easily unlike Tool.
To be honest a friend got me into Tool back in college and depending on what you are looking for Tool takes the cake. A perfect circle is an interesting experiment from Maynard. Some memorable songs are The Noose, The Outsider, and Pet but the whole album is worth a listen.

Check out the album on Youtube or spotify. Enjoy.

How it was consumed: warm delicious vinyl .

Rating: 8/10 great

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes Vinyl

So I accidently ordered this vinyl album.

Well that isn't strictly correct. I was thinking I was buying a Heartless Bastards album. I keep confusing the bands. This was the best mistake I have made. First, I paid under $11 for 11 songs on a 33 vinyl and 3 songs on a 45. I also got a code to download the songs. Plus the price has jumped a couple of dollars. So yeah considering music purchases this is in my top 3 bang for your buck purchases.

I first heard them on KXT, a local independent music radio station for North Texas, with their single "Hold on". This single can be found in the Youtube video below. I really liked the single. It turns out the whole album has a similar R&B and soul sound. Honestly this isn't my favorite genre of music but I am one of those people who likes good music no matter what the genre is and this is good music.

How it was consumed: Technics Quartz sl-q300 record player.

Rating: 7/10 Good.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Tina Fey is best known for her NBC series 30 Rock and for her time at Saturday Night Live as both a writer and actress. She has won multiple Emmy Awards as well as Writers Guild of America Awards for these and other works. Since I have watched and enjoyed 30 Rock I decided to tackle her book.

This wasn't a detailed autobiography nor was it a just for laughs. Tina Fey talks about growing up, how she got into show business, her father, her child, and her career. Fey tries to strike a nice balance between autobiography and comedy but it seems to have come out as too little from both.

I know the mother items and her problems when she was a young girl isn't something I can relate to because it wasn't really meant for me so I am a little bias about some parts of the book. I still laughed and found most of it interesting.

It is a decent read if you can borrow it from a friend  but I wouldn't go buy it as a gift... unless your friend is a Tina Fey fan then by all means.

How it was consumed:  Audible audiobook.

Rating: 6/10 Above Average

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Suburbs Arcade Fire. 100 Posts!

Represent Canada!

For my 100th post I have the pleasure to review a classic album from Arcade Fire.
Arcade Fire is a band I wish I listen to more often. I have always heard them here and there but nothing compares to hearing them at ACL a few years ago. This album has won album of the year at the 2011 Grammy Awards, Best International Album at the 2011 BRIT Awards, Album of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards, and the 2011 Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album. Needless to say this record is one everyone should listen to. According to Wikipedia the album is inspired by Win and William Butler's upbringing in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston. This is just another example of how awesome Texas is. It is hard to not be pulled into the emotion of the album with such lyrics as:

"But I would rather be alone
Than pretend to be alright. ...
If I was scared, I would
And if I was pure, you know I would
And if I was yours, but I'm not..."

"Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling and into the night
 So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
 Before all this damage is done
 But if it's too much to ask, it's too much to ask
Then send me a son "

These lyrics come from the first couple of songs and are strong through out the album.

The vinyl is especially nice. The album sleeves have the handwritten lyrics on them and the album cover/inside is beautiful to look at. The whole production of this record inspired a Chrome project that pulls you even more into the spirit of the music. Give it try!

Come visit the Arcade Fire's Suburbs.

"I know we are the chosen few
But we waste it
And that's why we're still waiting
In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man...
If it's alright
Then how come you can't sleep at night? "

How it was consumed: Vinyl

Rating: 9/10 On my favorites list.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

It is hard to pass up a deal for a vinyl album when the cost of the music is a dollar per song. I have heard these songs constantly on the radio and have since always appreciated Mumford & Sons. I mean how can you compete against a banjo. I believe "The Cave" , the first single I heard from them, is amazing in everyday  It is the perfect break up song. Some people have their break up songs, Gotye , Tom Petty's "You Got Lucky", and so many others but the lyrics are so poetic. The chorus goes

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
 And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Just the last line is so refreshing, to know your name when it is called again.

I don't need to spend a lot of time selling you on this band. In fact I am sure you are probably tired of hearing them on the radio but if you haven't listen to this whole album... what are you waiting for?

How it was consumed: Amazon purchased vinyl on my Technics SL-Q300

Rating: 8/10 Great. A breath of fresh air if you haven't heard it before. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Indian Wells Whiskey Barrel Amber

The packaging for this brew reminds one of beer from medieval times with wax sealing the top of the beer. Sadly this is a pain to open. I used an average knife, a wine opener, and 5 minutes to finally get rid of that wicked wax sealing.

I personally think you can't go wrong with an amber beer. At the very least you can enjoy the sweet taste of an amber beer. When you add the fact that it was aged in whiskey barrels you have a decent combo. Personally I was looking for Fort Worth's Winter Warmer but I still delighted in the taste of this whiskey beer.

How it was consumed: Via my German stein.

Rating: 7/10 Good. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Wild Hunt - The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth is Kristian Matsson a singer-songwriter from Dalarna, Sweden. With such great songs like The Wild Hunt and King of Spain starting each side of the vinyl it is hard not to like this album. His voice is a distinct as Bob Dylan and I would say there style is similar as well. This one man show will entertain you more than some 4 piece bands I have seen. You owe it to yourself the opportunity to listen to this almost folk music. It will stay with you like a scar but unlike some scars you will brag about this experience or at least be content with the time you spent with it.Sadly I received a scratchy record. It isn't terrible but I would say pops and hisses happen more than 30% of the record.

How it was consumed: Technics SL-Q300

Rating: 8/10 Great. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

A bit of fun. Music Monday

So here are a few songs I have heard recently. Enjoy your Music Monday.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mothership [Vinyl] [Original Recording Remastered]

I believe any 16 year old boy who has appreciated rock music has one time or another listened to Led Zeppelin. In fact me and a friend played "Stairway to Heaven" for a talent show. So when I started to get back into vinyl records I decided to look through Amazon's top selling records. As soon as this popped up on my screen I knew I had to have it.

I have never bought a Led Zeppelin Album and I have only heard them from friend's cars, stereo's, or the radio. Why not a remastered vinyl of 24 of their greatest songs? It was a bit pricey but it is worth every penny. As you can see it comes with artistic sleeves as well as plastic square sleeves to protect your vinyl from dust and scratches (this causes pops and hisses during play back). The unboxing was part of the experience too. I was pleasantly surprised to find a booklet (about 12 pages) of information about the songs, the band, and a few pictures as well.

The vinyl is high quality 180 grams and has some of the nicest packaging I have ever seen. This would make an epic gift for a Led Zep fan who has a record player but at about $67 from Amazon (at the time of writing this) you might want to go 3 ways with this gift.

Keep on rocking guys!

How it was consumed: Technics Quartz sl-q300 record player.

Rating: 9/10 On my list of favorites.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Crystal Gazers by Datahowler

After attending Indexfest 2012 I had the pleasure to have a beer with local artist Datahowler. He does experimental electronic music, though he said he perhaps hip hop in the interview video. About halfway through his show he informed us that "Now it is time for some weird stuff." It was quite entertaining and fun if you live in the DFW area you should check out his live show. If I recall correctly, it was a long day/night, both of his parents are musicians and at least one graduated from UNT and creates jazz music. Using these and other influences Datahowler creates unique pieces that is readily available online. He creates the art, records, produce, arranges, mixes, and masters his own music.

I find that Datahowler's style is perfect background music. Whether you are studying, driving late at night, relaxing or just cleaning the house on a rainy day, putting on Datahowler's music will just make your day better.

How it was consumed: The Crystal Gazers limited colored edition vinyl

Rating: 8/10 Great

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Home furnising. Modern Leisure Patio Chair Cover and Portal 2 Coasters

Like I said I have used a lot of items since I have last posted at Taste of Zach. So here is a 2 product review post! Woot!

Modern Leisure Patio Chair Cover

I use this cover, sold by Amazon, for my Adirondack chairs. It works pretty well for my purposes. It has woven strings for you to tie the cover to the chair. I usually use only 2 of the strings and tie the opposite corners. This doesn't always work depending on how windy it is. All things considered for the price it works pretty well.

How it was consumed: Used on my wooden Adirondack chairs.

Rating: 8/10 Great

Portal 2 Warning Sign Coasters

I was lucky to find these on amazon for $17.00. Oddly enough a friend gave me nicer coasters a week later for a housewarming party. They are a cool way to show off your gamer side to visitors but the prints on them are a little smudged. These are not the highest quality product I have had but you will be putting you glass on top of them anyway so it isn't a deal breaker.

How it was consumed: In a swanky new bachelor pad.

Rating: 6/10 Above average

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Juno the Soundtrack

They actually still sell this album on vinyl at Amazon. So if you don't remember the masterpiece, Juno, it is about a teenage girl who gets pregnant. For those who haven't seen it, it is better than you think. This isn't "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" or something lame like that. Juno was an indie classic and so is the soundtrack. Not only do you get 19 songs you get a cool see through orange vinyl. Well it is sort of cool but very thin and light, which makes me fear for it's life.

In short this is what a tomboy, rock guitar playing, 16 year-old would have listen to in 2007 if she new cool music. We have Buddy Holly, The Kinks, Kimya Dawson, Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, Cat Power and more. Explore some different music and check it out on Spotify or some other free way.

How it was consumed: 2009 vinyl on my dad's Technics SL-Q300

Rating: 7/10 Good. I would give it an 8 but the physical quality of the record could be better.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads and Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000

Here is another two part review, just for you. 

OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads
I really like these tongs. I don't have to worry about them scratching my pans. The only downside is if you are cooking something that is thin and flat (thin sliced sweet potatoes for example), it is difficult to pick them up. I have not burned the silicon heads and the price is right. 

How it was consumed: used while cooking sweet potato fries and chicken.

Rating: 8/10 Great

Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000

I got a deal on this via you can find a link to then at the top bar of my site. If you click on the links there I get 5% of every sale or something similar. They are a deal a day site so they change out products all the time. I paid $10.81 for 2 of them. All you have to do is plug in the included transmitter to a USB port and you are good to go. I use this for my laptop and my media computer I have connected to my TV. Without something 
in between the transmitter and the mouse I can get a good 8-10 feet. If you can find it for $11 and you don't want to use your trackpad, I would highly recommend it. I think it is running $16 on amazon which isn't bad if you are in the market for a new mouse. it is nothing fancy but it works.

How it was consumed: One on my laptop to replace the trackpad. Another is used as a wireless mouse for my TV. 

Rating: 7/10 Good

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dire Straits self-titled album

The Dire Straits released a self-titled album 7, October 1978. The band got their name due to their financial situation.

This album has gone double-platinum and isn't hard to tell why. It isn't revolutionary but it is easy listening. Dire Straits mixes rock, blues, and a tad of country. This was their first album with the hit song Sultans of Swing which held the number 4 spot on the billboards hot 100. Sultans of Swing is that 70's song you know but had no idea that you knew it. It was played in your dad's living room when you were young or in an old rock bar. In fact when you hear this song you feel like you have to get up and ramble on to explore the night.

This would have been a great band to see live when they toured in the late 70's early 80's but I guess this album will have to do.

How it was consumed: My father's old vinyl.

Rating: 7/10 Good

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Welcome to 2013. Honeywell RTH221B Basic Programmable Thermostat

Hello everyone!

Thanks for coming back to Taste of Zach. One of my many new years resolutions is to get back into my weekly updates. I have enjoyed so many items since summer time and won't be able to review everything from memory but I am determined to get back into writing again. So to start off let me tell you about some a couple items I have bought off Amazon.

Honeywell RTH221B Basic Programmable Thermostat

I bought this product because of it's high review from Amazon and for it's price. It works fine during the summer time but after my 30 day guarantee AND now that it has gotten cold I have a problem. I programmed the thermostat to be a higher temperature in the morning. It turns out the device never tells my heater to stop running. Now this doesn't happen all the time but when it does I have to go to the circuit breaker to stop my heater from turning my house into an oven. This could be a faulty unit but Honeywell's customer service has been agonizing.

I contacted them at the beginning of November and in the last 3 weeks I have given them proof that I have purchased the item, I have told them I am past my 30 day return window and that I can't return it (that was Honeywell's first suggestion...), and recently they told me that I need to call the Technical Support office. I would be fine with this but they are only open during standard business hours(I think 9-4)... while I am working at a standard business. Also the customer support themselves haven't been helpful and my last email response was just rude.

Customer Service:  "I'm not certain how you expect this to go ... This type of thing generally requires the person seeking the information to invest in the process to some degree or extent... "
 -attn: Paul Arntzen

I have been trying to fix this problem for weeks. It is hard to ignore a problem when it changes your condo's temperature 30 degrees and wastes electricity.

What is the lesson to take away? Test all programmable settings/times (hot and cold) within 30 days and hope that, even though it worked during your testing (mine works 50% of the time), you do not have a faulty unit. Also Honeywell might as well have no customer service so don't depend on that. Look at alternatives like the Nest thermostat.

How it was consumed: via my condo built in the 80s

Rating: 3/10 not worth the time.