10 Whumpin’ Rock Songs Daughtry Should Cover

Daughtry’s Break the Spell is by far my favorite album from these guys, and as I’ve blogged about previously, I think they are going to be around a long, long time. Their songs have great hooks, and they’ve got a lead singer — Chris Daughtry himself — sporting a Hall of Fame voice (see where I rank Chris among my favorite rock n’ roll singers ever).

I’m sure the Daughtry boys are itching to get back into the studio, but while they are out there touring, they typically mix in a few cover songs into their set list, including one of my all time favorite rock songs, Rebel Yell by Billy Idol.

 

Speaking of covers, if Chris and the gang are open to suggestion, here are ten whumpin’ rock songs I’d love to hear them bang out. Some you might know, some maybe not, but either way, I think Daughtry would do them all justice:

  • Eye of the Tiger, Survivor
  • Enter Sandman, Metallica
  • Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil Young
  • Like I Do, Live
  • Cum on Feel the Noise, Quiet Riot
  • Plowed, Sponge
  • Twilight Zone, Golden Earring
  • Hazy Shade of Winter, Simon and Garfunkel
  • A Matter of Trust, Billy Joel
  • No Easy Way, Robert Tepper

I’m sure there are many others the Daughtry boys would do justice. Any songs you’d like to hear them cover?

Russ’ Movie Review: Skyfall – Shaken … or Stirred?

There’s been a lot of chatter out there about whether or not Skyfall truly measures up as one of the better, or even elite, James Bond movies, with Casino Royale generally considered by many (including me), to be one of the best in the series and certainly the best Bond outing in many years.

There have been those who felt Skyfall didn’t hit the mark, or that while it is a good movie, it isn’t a good James Bond movie. But I’m here to say this:

Skyfall.

Kicks.

Ass.

Skyfall is not only one of the best Bond movies in the entire 007 series, it’s one of the better movies I’ve seen this year.

What Worked: There is a LOT to like about Skyfall. First, it’s just a great looking and sounding movie, with exotic locales and all the polish a Bond movies deserves.

But on to Mr. Bond himself. Now in his third go as 007, Daniel Craig has never looked more comfortable in the character. Clearly a few years older since he first took the role, he really seems to understand who and what Bond is, and how to embody such an iconic character. Craig has the physical brute force required to handle death-defying situations, the intelligence for the ‘spy’ aspects, and enough charm to woo those lovely ladies.

Skyfall also gives us perhaps the most humanized take of James Bond in the entire series. The detractors say that such human foibles take away from 007, and led to their disappointment. I agree that the existential crisis Bond goes through would only work once. Skyfall has to be a stand-alone entry; it cannot be the model for future outings. But as a one-off, I found the layers of Bond quite compelling, and, in fact, drew me deeper into the character than ever before.

The plot, which borders on being too layered at times, has an actual story and theme, with Bond and others given the time to talk and think and reveal themselves. Unlike many Bond movies, there are only a handful of action sequences, allowing the story to unfold much more organically than we usually get with 007. The rewards are that I was genuinely interested in what was happening, rather than just waiting for something to blow up real good.

Beyond Craig himself, the cast is mostly superb. Judi Dench, as always, is fantastic as M, and we also get believable and even quirky performances from Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whipshaw as the new Q, and Berenice Marlohe as one of the most exotic and alluring Bond girls in a long, long time. And, of course, Javier Bardem as the villain Silva has just the right mix of being twistedly over the top without being a cartoon. He’s a warped mind with a real plan. Quite simply, he is a deadly and unpredictable foil for Mr. Bond.

The fun is back. After the pretty weak and unpolished Quantum of Solace, Skyfall was far more self aware and humorous, and those lighter moments helped elevate — and loosen up — what is a pretty intense movie start to finish. Whereas Casino Royale was more overt popcorn movie, Skyfall is more intense thriller.

What Didn’t Work: Without giving away too much, there wasn’t enough time spent with the Bond girls themselves. Bond is at his most devilish fun when he’s sparring with (and bedding) the delicious Bond girls, and in Skyfall, those scenes are a bit sparse, and one of the reasons I think the detractors didn’t feel that Skyfall was a true “Bond” movie.

Speaking of Bond girls, Naomi Harris as field agent Eve fell flat. Compared to the other performers, she was the weak link. She just didn’t exude the … Bond girlness … we want, and she didn’t bring enough sizzle to the repartee with 007.

As for the plot, Director Sam Mendes said that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight gave him the confidence to tackle certain themes that are typically absent in popcorn action movies. But with Skyfall, some of the plot is essentially an exact replica of The Dark Knight. The plot works within Skyfall unto itself, but I felt that, not only had I seen this before, I had just seen this before.

The plot also hinged on some pretty incredible timing, in parts, and I’m not sure it would really hold up under tighter scrutiny. Then again, it’s a James Bond movie, so how tight do we expect the plots to be? A minor blip, but a blip nonetheless.

Finally, the opening sequence is an extended action piece that, on paper, delivers real excitement. And at times, it did. But in others, I found the directing to be a bit mechanical. I wasn’t always as riveted as I wanted to be.

Shaken or Stirred?: Skyfall is an intense, riveting and thoroughly entertaining entry in the James Bond franchise that actually had something to say about fighting terror in the modern world, and in fact, is one of the best entrees in the entire 007 series. In some ways I liked Skyfall better than Casino Royale, although it’s not quite as fun, and time will tell if it will have that same “re-watchability” factor.

Whereas Casino Royale was a reboot, Skyfall is re-invigoration.

Skyfall missed opportunities, but for a James Bond fan that demands a real movie with his popcorn fun, I found that Skyfall delivered in a big, big way, and nicely sets up the coming adventures with a character that has finally shed his past so that he can fully engage in the future.

I can’t wait for what 007 has in store for us next.

 

Finders Keepers Hits NY Comic-Con 2012

Sorry I’m a little late on this one, but I’m still catching my breath after the NY Comic-Con.

I was there on Thursday of the 4-day event, but I got more than my money’s worth. Comic-Con is always such a madhouse, with Thursday being the most manageable day by far.

While there I got to see some of my writer pals, including No Small Bills and Too Small For Tall author Aaron Rosenberg, and Glenn Hauman — both with Crazy 8 Press — as well as Keith DeCandido and Star Trek author stud David Mack.

And, as always, I had my adventures with long-time partner-in-crime Rich Henn, who was out there slinging comics like a madman. We wound up having late-night burgers and beers — all was good in the end. Although the fries were wire-thin curly cue, so you had to eat them with a fork – or by the handful. Not prime French fry logistics, but that should only be my biggest problem.

During the show itself, I was out there doing the usual Finders Keepers promotion, and made a new fans, including:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, this dude:

 

 

 

 

This will likely be my last show of 2012, but based on what’s in the hopper, it’s starting to look like 2013 will be quite a year indeed!

 

Russ’ Newsletter: Vol. 6, No. 4 – 500,000 Hits for Finders Keepers!

Hi Gang-

With just two weeks until Liz and I jump off to Mexico to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversay — yep, it’s been ten years! Whoa! — I’ve got a special Finders Keepers update I think you’ll enjoy:

* As Finders Keepers continues to make its way in the world, it recently reached a pretty cool milestone. For those of you who are unaware, I was one of just a handful of  authors hand-picked a while back by Publishers Weekly to participate in one of its new partner outlets — Wattpad.com — to post content online. The Wattpad Web site is designed to give up-and-coming authors a venue to post their work, and, ultimately, get discovered.

With a steady readership I’m proud to say that Finders Keepers has now reached and surpassed the 500,000 hits plateau. That’s right, readers have now clicked on to at least portions of my debut novel more than a half a million times.

What will this all mean?

Not sure yet, but either way I’m feeling pretty darn good about it. And — pardon the pun — the hits just keep on coming. Is it possible I’ll eventually reach 1 million hits? Let’s find out …

BIG BIG BIG THANKS! to Publishers Weekly, Wattpad, and all the fans who keep on reading!

* And speaking of Finders Keepers, I have now begun my initial work on the first of two sequels! Yep. At long last I am revisiting the adventures of our international and cosmic globetrotting knuckleheads Jason Medley and Theo Barnes, and already have a pretty good idea of the kind of trouble they’ll be getting themselves into this time.

Expect more traveling, more philosophical shenanigans, and, of course, my customary doses of humor, fun, and cosmic lunacy.

There’s loads more to discuss, including highlights from the 2012 NY Comic-Con, but I’ll be sharing those in a special edition newsletter real soon.

Until then …

All the Best,

Russ

Summer TV/Movie Recap: Spiderman, The Dark Knight, Sons of Anarchy and More …

Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect, here’s my rundown of my summer’s TV and movie watching. Have to say, all in all it was pretty darn good:

For my money, The Amazing Spiderman was the best entry in the franchise. I’ve heard complaints that it was too soon to reboot, but I’m not buying it. The Tobey Maquire movies certainly had their moments — the first one being my favorite — but this latest iteration had a great combination of ‘realism’ (as far these things go), fun, humor and lots of heart. The new Peter Parker, played by Andrew Garfield, just seemed far more like a realistic teenager to me. Awkward, confused, but not a total loser dork. And now he’s Spiderman! And they amped up his scientific genius, which was always a core element of the character. Martin Sheen was a GREAT Uncle Ben, and Emma Stone really nailed it as Gwen Stacy. I will admit that the CGI on the Croc wasn’t always great, and the Uncle Ben death scene does have a pretty big flaw, but overall I thought The Amazing Spiderman was great. I can’t wait to see more.

As for The Dark Knight Rises … it was EPIC and intense and a great bookend to the entire three-movie arc. I will say that this last entry wasn’t quite as pure fun as the first two, and, when you take a step back, it has a few plot points that don’t quite hold up, but all in all it was big bang for the buck. Anne Hathaway was especially good, and while Bane wasn’t quite as mesmerizing as The Joker (who could be?), he was a lethal adversary for sure. The creators swung BIG, and for the most part, they landed. I’m really curious to see who takes the reigns next and how they interpret the character.

As for The Avengers, I know it’s sort of geek blasphemy to say, but I didn’t love it. It was kinda entertaining, but I found it to be very loud, very long, and pretty superficial. It looked great, had lots of humor, the HULK was awesome, and the finale did kick some major butt. I’m just hoping that the sequel has more meat on the bones.

On the TV front, Liz and I have been watching The Newsroom. It’s kind of a mixed bag.  The show did get off to a pretty lousy start, and as the season progressed, the intensity and thrill got better overall, and, at times, was great. And Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston are both great. But one of the shows major weaknesses — and it’s huge — is that the female characters, are, by and large, portrayed as schizo, man-pleasing morons often on the verge of a nervous breakdown over their boyfriends. They just can’t be THIS whacked-out and be the media dream team. The ‘media elite’ as they call themselves on the show. It’s a MAJOR flaw, and one I hope they fix. It’s a show that should be much better than it is.

I’m a little late to the game, but after three seasons of Sons of Anarchy … I’m in. It’s intense, twisty, and extremely violent, but if you like shows like The Shield and Breaking Bad, SOA is worth checking out. I won’t put SOA quite at that level, but it is damn good. These dudes are pure outlaws, and I know I shouldn’t care about them, because they really do pretty bad things pretty often. And yet … I do care. Good TV.

Speaking of Breaking Bad … wow. Just wow. Assuming the final eight episodes hold up (grrrrr … not ’til next July!), Breaking Bad will go down as one of the great TV shows of all time. Bryan Cranston was better than ever, and this last season was filled with great acting across the board, tons of tension, and great plot twists. It is, simply … GREAT.

Next up I still need to watch season 4 of SOA so I can get up to speed for season 5, which started. And Sept. 30 we get the season premieres of Dexter and  Homeland, so I’m pretty psyched there. Otherwise I’ll be watching the final season of The Office, the next season of The Big Bang Theory, and maybe I’ll check out a few of the new shows. Where I’ll find the time, I have no idea, but at least I’ve got some TV to look forward to.

And when it comes to movies … it’s all about Bond. James Bond. Skyfall opens in November. And I. Can’t. Freakin. Wait.

What are you watching …?

Russ’ Newsletter: Vol. 6, No. 3: Crossline Ready to Rock!

Hey Gang-

It was a long, crazy summer on my end, and with that a lot of news to report.

On the home front, my little ninja man decided to make a jail break out of his crib last week, and wound up breaking his wrist. It was my first trip to the ER as a dad, and while I sure hope it’s my last, I have a feeling it won’t be! Little ninja man is doing just fine, and will get his cast off in about three more weeks.

As for my adventures with words and such …

CROSSLINE IS COMPLETE!

It’s been a long time coming, but at long last my second novel — Crossline — is done! D-O-N-E done-done-done. Coming in at just over 90,000 words, Crossline is a fast-paced, modern-day space opera filled with action, adventure, my usual time-bending, philosophical shenanigans, and of, course, loads of humor.

It’s a great feeling to have polished off this bad boy, let me tell you.

But rest assured you will see Crossline in print in 2013 … one way or another!

Yeah, baby!

FINDERS KEEPERS SEQUEL ON TAP

So now that Crossline is done, what’s next? Ooooh. Glad you asked.

While I work on the business side of Crossline, I’ll be heading right back into the lab and will be hard at work on the first of  two Finders Keepers sequels!

That’s right. Your favorite globe-trotting knuckleheads Jason Medley and Theo Barnes will be at it again, off on another adventure where they try to figure out their place in the Universe without, you know … destroying it in the process.

My goal is to have Finders Keepers II ready to go by the end of 2013, so I better get cracking!

* MORE MILESTONE AHEAD

That’s all she wrote for this edition, but I can say it’s all but a guarantee that I’ll have another very cool milestone to announce next time. So until then, enjoy this fabulous weather, and to my Jewish friends, happy holidays …

All the Best!
Russ

www.russcolchamiro.com
@FindKeepNovel

 

Russ’ Newsletter: Vol. 6, Issue 2 – Crossline Follows Father’s Day

Hi Gang-

I’m back after a bit of newsletter hiatus, as I had an unusually hectic few months that required my attentions on multiple fronts. But I’m happy to report lotsa good stuffing coming. The best news, of course, is that my little ninjas are happy and healthy, and in fact have their second birthday coming up in August, if you can believe it. Good gravy!

As for my writing endeavors:

* At the end of March I had a table at the annual ICON sci-fi event in Stonybrook, where Finders Keepers sales were a bit off from last year, but still posed a very strong showing. The questions I was asked most often throughout the weekend? When is the sequel coming out, and will a movie follow?

The answers are: I start the first of two Finders Keepers sequels at the end of the summer and …. I sure as heck hope so! I’m working on it! For an inside look into a potential dream movie cast, click here.

And check out some new integalactic fans:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was also fun catching up at the show with fellow authors Aaron Rosenberg, Keith DeCandido and Patrick Thomas.

* Speaking of Finders Keepers, here is a recent compliment, one of the most passionate responses I’ve received in a while: “I can spend an eternity here reading this stunning tale. It was an addicting sling of words that spun a silken web around me, entombed me and I just couldn’t pry myself away from it.”

* As for my newest endeavor, here’s the latest and greatest on Crossline. I will be spending the rest of this month doing intense line edits, fine tuning every last word to ensure that we come away with a rock’ em, sock ’em ass-kicking space adventure … with my usual time bending, philosophical shenanigans included.

After that, I turn the manuscript over to my loyal, trusted and fabulous copy editor Barney O’Neill — who did a bang-up job in the same capacity on Finders Keepers — to ensure that there’s not a word out of place.

And then … get this sucker published!

* Last but not least let me give a special shout out to my beautiful wife, Liz, who just celebrated a birthday, and also to all the dad’s out there for a festive and happy Father’s Day.

That’s all she wrote for this edition. Liz and I are headed off next weekend for a much-need vacation to Spring Lake, N.J., where we’ll spend three days on the beach, staring out at the ocean, while my ninjas and Simon storm the castle, er … get quality time with their grandparents.

Until next time …

All the Best,

Russ

10 Tunes I Can Always Hear

No matter how much I might enjoy a certain band or singer, an album or even just a single song, there’s only so many times I can hear it. Sooner or later, I just get listened out. I need a break.

And yet there are a handful of songs I never seem to get tired of hearing. Sure, any tune can get old … eventually … but below are ten songs, in no particular order, that I seem to listen to no matter what.

This not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start:

* Driving Blue Cars (acoustic version) — Dishwalla
* Two of Us — The Beatles
* Easy Money — Billy Joel
* Walking on Sunshine — Katrina and the Waves
* Hazy Shade of Winter — Bangles’ version
* Twilight Zone — Golden Earing
* Walk On — U2
* Losing My Mind — Daughtry
* Hey Hey What Can I Do? — Led Zeppelin
* Levon — Elton John

So now that I’ve shared my list … what’s on yours?

ICON 2012: Where’s the Finders Keepers Movie?

Sorry for the delay in reporting back, but after ICON I got hit with a wave of colds and allergies that kept me in no-man’s land for a while. But now that I’m back in action, here are the highlights:

While sales were not quite as brisk as last year, I still sold many copies of Finders Keepers. And the biggest reason I didn’t sell more: many of the attendees bought a copy last year! So I better get cracking on the next book.

And the top two questions I got all weekend:

•When does the sequel come out?
•When will see a Finders Keepers movie?

The answers are: I start writing the sequel once Crossline is done and … I have no idea. Of course I would LOVE to see Finders Keepers get the movie treatment, but Hollywood is a tricky business. Although I do have a few ideas up my sleeve, so all I can say is … stay tuned!

And speaking of movies, check out some new fans I made:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also spent the weekend next to a vendor from Ohio who spent the entire three days complaining about how much he hated New York and how the Democrats are ruining America. Not to mention how they’re all making waaaaaaay too big a deal of how we’re ruining the environment. Cuz, like, in the real world we don’t really drink  contaminated water and breath polluted air and eat tainted food. It’s all just liberal propaganda.

Riiiiiiiight.

Anyhoo … I’ll be back at ICON next year, where they are moving the convention from Stonybrook to Hofstra, so maybe by then the magic elves who secretly run the world will decide on the only real, important option that will unite us all: bring Finders Keepers to the big screen!

 

There and Back Again: The Evolution of a Chris Daughtry Fan

Be with me. Here’s the scene:

My apartment. Queens, NY. Saturday morning. The sun is shining. I go to the computer, and load up iTunes. I scroll for Chris Daughtry’s new album, Break the Spell. I click on the third song, Outta My Head. I turn up the volume. Loud.

The music blares:

Bahm! Bahm!
Baddah-daddah-daddah-daddah
Bahm! Bahm!

I turn toward the front of my apartment. My twins — who are 20 months old — are in their high chairs waiting for me to feed them breakfast. Waffles and strawberries. Their backs are to me. And we hear:

I thought it would be easy, but it ain’t for me
It’s kinda hard, when you lay your heart on a one-way street

My son, then my daughter. First one hand, then the other.

I really thought by NOW!
You would’ve slipped my mind
But the kind of love sent from above is the killing kind …

My kids are fist pumping. They are head banging. And all because Chris Daughtry is bringin’ it.

Rock is in the air. Life is good.

The Idol Maker

Okay. Now it’s confession time. I wasn’t always a Chris Daughtry fan.

In fact, I dismissed his music.

When Chris first came on the scene back in 2006, all I knew was that “the rocker dude” from American Idol got voted off, and apparently it was unfair. I never saw the show, and had zero interest in learning more.

Yet my sister Alison said — repeatedly, ad nauseam — that Chris was the man.

Whatever.

Fast forward a few years and two albums later. At this point the only Daughtry songs I know are from the radio: What About Now, Feels Like Tonight and Life After You. These songs aren’t bad, but let’s face it. They’re not really directed at me.

To my classic rock-loving ear, Daughtry was very … Meh.

And though my sister insisted — avalanche-style — that Chris was awesome, I rejected her assessment. Here’s a typical exchange:

Alison: Dude. Listen to his voice.

Me: Don’t care.

Alison: He’s great.

Me: Nah.

Alison: Just give him a chance!

Me: I’ve heard the songs. They’re all the same to me. Snore.

Alison: Grrrrr …. Dude. You. Are. WRONG!


What I Meant to Say

Whether I was truly convinced that there was more to Daughtry than I gave him credit for — or I simply wilted beneath my sister’s onslaught — I finally listened to Chris’ first two albums, Daughtry and Leave This Town. I focused on certain tracks. No Surprise. Supernatural. Ghost of Me. Crashed. Every Time You Turn Around.

And eventually I admitted … okay, this is better than I thought.

But you know what really got me? That ass-kicking vocal hook in What I Meant to Say:

And I just thought … that you should know
That I’ve been holding on while you’ve been letting GO!

Now I’m starting to feel it. And I think: whoa, this guy’s voice is BOOMIN’. There are some great hooks. But I couldn’t understand why the more rockin’ tunes didn’t get more radio play.

Then it clicked for me. Chris was facing a marketing obstacle I hadn’t initially appreciated. The record label was putting out the songs they thought would sell. Fair enough. But in doing so they didn’t necessarily showcase who Chris really is.

They pumped out more of his softer-side tunes, keeping his potent, overdrive mojo a secret from rock n’ roll fans like me. I didn’t get Chris Daughtry at first because I didn’t know to look for him. As far as I knew, that guy didn’t even exist.

But he does. Trust me. He does.


Let’s Break the Spell

Having finally been converted, I was then educated that Daughtry isn’t just Chris with a backing band. Together, all the musicians — who co-write many of the songs and form the sound — make up Daughtry. This isn’t just a one-man show.

So by this point I’m diggin’ a bunch of Daughtry tunes … yet I still found the first two albums to be fairly similar. And despite the band’s talent, to me the overall quality of the song-writing just hadn’t caught up with that Hall of Fame voice.

Which then led me to ask: Will this band grow? Will the songwriting become richer and more intricate — textured with subtly and nuance? Will the guys trust themselves enough to layer more technical sophistication to their musical instincts and let their sound evolve as it naturally wants to? Or will Daughtry essentially release a third version of the same album?

Translation: Guys, I like you pretty okay, but I want to hear more. You can do better. You. Can do. Better.

And guess what? They did. Big time.

Break the Spell is — by a large margin – Daughtry’s most developed, confident and satisfying album. No dis on the first two records, but with BTS the boys took a significant, creative leap. 

Just hold on tight to the Rebel Yell-style bad-boy opener, Renegade.

Or listen to Chris’ falsetto rising in Losing My Mind.

Get completely absorbed by the surging, devil-eyed chorus of the BTS title track:

The way you pull me in,
The way you chew me up,
The way you spit me out,
I KEEP COMING BACK! I CAN’T GET ENOUGH!
I CAN’T GO WITHOUT!

And the album’s most deliciously confessional lyric, from Losing My Mind:

You’re one part angel, one part danger
But, oh, the kind of crazy I like …

Oh, yeah. It’s go time. Daughtry is no longer just a solid, radio-friendly band with a killer voice at its core. They have begun their ascent as a musical force. They will stand the test of time.

Off on a Spaceship

Back in my apartment. My kids in high chairs. I’m feeding them breakfast. BTS is playing. Spaceship:

If somebody’s out there
S
how me that you care
Give me a sign that comes out of nowhere

My daughter smiles, with strawberries on her face. My son then looks at me, looks at his sister, and we hear:

Like a shooting star
We’ll maybe laugh for miles
Something inside tells me we can’t be too far

The fist pump returns.

Rock is in the air. Daughtry.

And life is good.

 

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