Sunday, March 8, 2015

Haiku-nnihilate This Week

Written by: Sean Austin

Date: March 8th, 2015

Beau Monde Guitars is proud (full disclosure: author’s words, not theirs) to present a new semi-weekly column, Haiku-nnihilate This Week. Each week (or so), writer, musician and local sex symbol Sean Austin will be choosing a batch of new music releases to review in the traditional Japanese form of haiku. The haiku as we know it today (a 17 syllable poem split into 3 lines consisting of 5-7-5 respectively) was initially known as ‘hokku’, merely the opening stanza of a collaborative linked poem, or ‘renga’. Around the 17th century hokku began to appear a standalone poem; yet it is not until the late 19th century that legendary Japanese poet Masaoka Shiki, widely regarded as a master of the form, renamed hokku independent of further metrically structured writing ‘haiku’. For those unfamiliar with the form, following is a sample unknowingly recited by famed 20th century hesher, Garth Algar:

“I mean, we’re looking
down on Wayne’s basement. Only,
that’s not Wayne’s basement.”

Now, in the 21st century, revered critic and all around awesome guy Sean Austin will further propel this historically significant style of poetry into the modern consciousness by reviewing current pieces of auditory pop-culture, applying the ancient form to do so. I hope you’re all sitting down as you read this because this combination of tradition, innovation and sheer truth is guaranteed to knock even the most hardened music and poetry aficionados flat on their asses…

All That Remains – The Order of Things
Riffs are off the chain.
I don’t like the clean vocals,
but that’s just me though…

Torche – Restarter
Crushing guitar tone.
I like the clean vocals here.
I’m inconsistent.

Screaming Females – Rose Mountain
Huge leap for this band.
Best album production yet.
Melissa can shred.

Scorpions – Return to Forever
50 years a band.
Don’t break up > become “legends”,
like RHCP.

BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
Ghostface still got it.
Hard rhymes over some fresh jazz.
Exit the trap house.

Kid Rock – First Kiss
Strong Mellencamp vibes.
At least he isn’t rapping.
NASCAR fans will like.

Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer
Less schizophrenic.
Reminds me of Talking Heads
if they were Daft Punk.

The King Khan & BBQ Show – Bad News Boys
Garage rock doo-wop.
I thought they had broken up?
Welcome back, this rocks.

THEESatisfaction – EarthEE
Sub-Pop: great label.
THEESatisfaction: Sub-Par
Stick to the rock, guys.

Pelican – The Cliff EP
Cliff Burton was cool.
“The Cliff” here is not Burton.
‘Nuff said, skip this one.

…and just like that, this week in recorded music has been summed up in 170 syllables. If this piece was half as informative as it was fun to write then I have done my job. Be sure and check back next week for more of the good stuff. All 10 of these releases are available for purchase in stores, on iTunes, and in bootleg form out of the back of Thor’s van in the Newbridge Commons parking lot. I hope I have adequately helped educate you in your consumerist tendencies for the week. Until then, drink your milk, eat your veggies and keep on rockin’ in the free world!

ESP Marks 40 Year Anniversary

Written by: Sean Austin

Date: February 23rd, 2015

40 years is a long time for a company to stay in business, especially in the current economy. The best way to ensure longevity in any industry is to find a niche, get your brand’s product in the hands of those who use it most, and keep your customer happy. ESP has been known as the premier heavy metal guitar manufacturer for nearly their entire run, finding their way into the legacies of such legendary acts as Metallica, Slayer and the Deftones among countless others. By matching quality woods and designs with killer electronics by EMG Pickups ESP has maximized the quality of their axes and delivered a product that does what it supposed to and has consistently thrilled the callous-handed cult worldwide.

This year marks ESP’s 40th anniversary and to commemorate the event the company has put out a limited run of gorgeous pieces including two from the Eclipse series, an EC, an MH and its 7-string brother, the H7. While all of them are beautiful, high quality shred machines, I’m going to concentrate on my favorite in the series: the EC-2015.

I will be completely truthful, the first time I saw an ESP Eclipse I absolutely hated it. Since the time I was young, anytime I see a Les Paul-shaped guitar (with the exception of the Heritage models, I’ve been lusting over those for years) I get a severe case of the fantods. It always seemed like a cheap and desperate attempt to capitalize on the respectable legacy of the Gibson guitar company. However, after seeing what my good friend Zakk Mild, one of the most tasteful and talented metal guitarists in New Jersey, does with his LTD EC-1000QM, my mind was swiftly changed. Be sure to check out his band,Huldra, for a taste of what I’m talking about, you shan’t regret it.

Since being converted by my good friend I have definitely warmed up to the series. The line’s features include super fast, playable necks, locking tuners, a Tune-o-matic style bridge, and top notch EMG pickup configurations. However, if I’m being honest, the finishes offered always turned me off. The satin black finish always looked corny to me, their version of the sunburst finish comes off as gaudy and cheap, and I feel like they ruined their beautiful selection of quilted maple with a black cherry finish that while isn’t completely hideous, just doesn’t suit my personal tastes.

Well, I feel like they finally nailed it with the EC-2015. They did us right by covering that gorgeous maple with a see-thru satin finish in a color all of us metalheads can get with: black. Looks, which are on point, aside, this thing is stacked. Specs are listed at the bottom of this article, so I am just going to touch on the features that I like the most.

First off, ESP changed up the pickup configuration on this one, opting for the EMG 57/66 array, which are PAF-style and feature Alinco-V magnets complimented by steel pole pieces. A little change from your typical 81/85 setup, they get more of a classic, warmer sound than their more metallic, sharp sounding counterparts. Fans of Gibson’s Burstbuckers and ’57 Classic Humbuckers take note.

The guitar also comes with a certificate of authenticity from ESP and a special 40th Anniversary hardshell case. Both the front and back of the headstock are imprinted with ESP’s 40th Anniversary logo, which further makes these beauties stand out from the pack. Limited to 300 pieces worldwide and with a relatively modest street price of $1,099, I would recommend you jump on this one if you like what you see.

All in all, this guitar has the potential to make a believer out of even the most hardened Les Paul purist. It really has it all, ESP’s widely beloved thin U-shaped neck, a gorgeous finish, a fresh set of pickups atypical to the brand that help distinguish it from previous models, and most importantly, a consumer friendly price tag. The only thing missing for me is the binding they put on the neck of the EC-1000QM, but hey, there’s a 50th Anniversary coming up in 2025, right?


• Construction: Set-Neck
• Scale: 24.75″
• Body: Mahogany
• Top: Quilted Maple
• Neck: Mahogany
• Fingerboard: Ebony
• Fingerboard Radius: 350mm
• Finish: See Thru Black Satin
• Nut Width: 42mm
• Nut Type: Molded
• Neck Contour: Thin U
• Frets/Type: 24 XJ
• Hardware Color: Black
• Strap Button: Standard
• Tuners: LTD Locking
• Bridge: Tonepros Locking TOM Bridge & Tailpiece
• Neck PU: EMG 66 Brushed Black Chrome
• Bridge PU: EMG 57 Brushed Black Chrome
• Electronics: Active
• Electronics Layout: Vol/Vol/Tone/Toggle Switch
• Case: CECFF40
• Case Included: Y