by Ryan Meehan and Bob Zerull

So far 2013 has given us plenty to shout about in the entertainment industry. However, due to time constraints there are simply no way that we can cover everything. So, we'll stick to what we know. Here are the best and worst of what we saw in the first half in 2013 when it comes to comedy, music, and television.

Album of the year:

Ryan - Anthony Jeselnik - "Caligula"

This CD showed up in my mailbox and I wasn't ready for it at all. I had kind of known Jeselnik minimally because of the roasts but he never really stood out to me, so up until this record I didn't really know much. Keep in mind, this was at the beginning of the year, prior to the premiere of Anthony's Comedy Central show "The Jeselnik Offensive". I've heard a lot of people pan that show and say that it's too centrally focused on shock value, and if you're one of those people you're going to REALLY hate this CD. I on the other hand, love it.

My review of it is right here: http://firstorderhistorians.com/2013/01/13/album-review-anthony-jeselnik-caligula/

It's absolutely killer from all angles, and that's why it's my record of the year so far. It may seem weird for pick a comedy album comprised solely of non sequitirs to be a "best of" anything choice, but in this case it is warranted. There are three tracks at the end of the disc which are a classic ten minute drill. It starts out harsh and gets so much harsher but you never forget for a second it's comedy. There are three tracks at the end of this record that are an entirely different level of intense, and one of them might be the most tasteless joke I've ever heard. But what gets me is the fact that it's not even the closer on the record, which is pretty rough as well. Overall, it's just a brutal record.

Bob – Ghost B.C. -“Infestissumam”

Where does the gimmick begin and where does it end? It’s 2013 and the age of mystery is gone, not just in our music but in our lives, so for a band like Ghost (I’m calling them Ghost because that’s their name) to come along and be more mysterious than bands like Led Zeppelin, Tool, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Kiss is quite impressive. Let’s forget about the mystery for a second, this album is amazing. They’re not just singing about the Devil, they’re singing about worshipping the Devil. Ghost is the musical version of a horror movie, but the music is just so good. The common comparison is Black Sabbath meets Blue Oyster Cult and I have to go along with it.

Check out my review here: http://www.zoiksonline.com/2013/04/gimmick-or-not-ghost-bcs-infestissumam.html

Surprising album of the year so far:

Ryan - Black Sabbath - "13"

First off, let me start this off by saying that I was "surprised" by the content of this album because I didn't expect a whole lot out of it. I figured that the record would be fundamentally lacking in two major areas:

1) The pace of the music Age can take it toll on almost any band, even if it is one of the mightiest. In this case, Sabbath was able to compensate by hiring on Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine. I was a little worried that there would be a compromise when it came to speed, and although there's not a "Symptom of the Universe" on this album it still maintains balance.

2) Ozzy's Voice Over the past decade or so, Ozzy has relied heavily on a lot of studio magic to clean up his once heavily powdered pipes. And to be honest I don't really care, as long as it DOES work. Although some of the lyrics ("Loner") aren't as tight and exploratory as Obsourne's words once were, it sounds as if they did get his vocals to sound pretty good.

Overall Assessment: Here again, I didn't think that this record was all that bad but here again I wasn't expecting the world from it. If Led Zeppelin put out a record right now with one of the industry's better drummers, my guess is that I'd probably feel.

Bob – Buckcherry – “Confessions”

Look, I’m a Buckcherry fan. Who doesn’t love stripper anthems? Buckcherry took the torch from bands like Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Aerosmith and ran with it. But Buckcherry is more than that. I’ve always known that, but I didn’t they had “Confessions” in them. For all intents and purposes, “Confessions” is a concept album based on the seven deadly sins. It’s Buckcherry’s best album far and away. It won’t be the best selling largely due to the state of the music industry, but also because there are very few potential hits on the album: “Gluttony,” “Wrath” and “Dreaming of You.” Who makes an album that is best listened to in it’s entirety any more? Buckcherry, that’s who. The guitar riff in “Wrath” is so awesome that Slash and Joe Perry would have been proud to have written it.

Check out my interview with guitarist Keith Nelson: http://www.zoiksonline.com/2013/03/bob-zerulls-farleyesque-interview-with.html

Most disappointing album of the year so far:

Ryan - Megadeth - "Super Collider"

Wow, no...just...no... Dave Mustaine is a very polarizing figure in the world of heavy metal because he's made some of the best thrash metal in the history of the genre, but at the same time he's also taken a lot of chances that have resulted in his fans being puzzled at his decision making and secretly hoping he finds drugs again.

A lot of metal fans simply write off the later Megadeth stuff as weak, the same people who usually dismiss everything other than a band's first four albums. But to be honest with you, I liked Megadeth's last record "Thirteen" but found this record to be thin, unlistenable, and forgettable. The best way that I can describe Mustaine's poor judgment on this CD would have to be on the single, which explores a little bit of the bluegrass genre and doesn't exactly nail it.

There a lot of weird things on this record, but they aren't "quirks" to me. "Quirks" in music are some of those things that the legendary Bob Ross once referred to as "happy" accidents. I didn't find there to be very much of that on this record. I thought the real thrashy parts on this album didn't feel as thrashy to me, and had a very un-Megadeth measurement to them. Whereas I found "Public Enemy #1" and "The Wrecker" on the last record to be badass jams, there wasn't a single song on this CD that stood out to me.

Bob – Black Sabbath – “13”
Is it possible to really like the most disappointing album? The truth is I love Black Sabbath’s “13,” but I’m disappointed in myself for liking it, I really want to dislike it. It’s not a true Black Sabbath reunion if Bill Ward isn’t apart of it. I’m disappointed that Bill wasn’t on it. Maybe this should have been my most surprising album as well, but I was actually rooting against my metal heroes and they won me over and that pisses me off.

My full review is here: http://www.zoiksonline.com/2013/07/album-review-black-sabbaths-13-is.html

What we are looking forward to in the remainder of 2013:

Music: The third quarter of the record industry's offerings began on Independence Day, when Jay-Z released "Magna Carta Holy Grail", an album that was available for digital download release through the CD's app. So far reception has been about what you'd expect for that disc. The new Flyleaf came out last week, I haven't heard it, I don't ever want to hear it, and I don't want my cat to hear it either. If domestic violence is your thing you might want to check out "X" the new Chris Brown album "falls down some stairs" on the 16th of the month, and the following week we can expect new Fuck Buttons. The month closes up with new Five Finger Death Punch, and we were originally hoping to get new music from Wu-Tang Clan the same day.

August will bring new Asking Alexandria, Civil Wars, and Zebrahead in week one. The following seven day stretch we will be treated to another album's worth of John Mayer breathing heavily into a microphone he's probably trying to get into bed, and the month closes out with new discs from Franz Ferdinand, Goodie Mob, and Avenged Sevenfold. (Or A7X as the kids call them) September 3rd the new Nine Inch Nails hits stores, and if the number of ads Reznor has purchased on Facebook is any indication of the disc's quality that record should be the greatest album ever released. The end of the month has a little something for everybody: New Cher, Justin Timberlake, Sting, Kings of Leon, and MGMT will be in stores, and all of the prog rock burnouts in their fifties that work at your local music store should be psyched to hear new tunes from Dream Theater. About a month and a half later, they'll release another live record. I would like to point out something here - We're also going to see something new from Elton John who has been working with country music producer T-Bone Burnett, so it would be cool if he had a single or two really hit. If you've learned anything from reading this, it's that music could use a shot in the arm consisting of some Elton right about now.

October means new Celine Dion, an album that's sure to be packed with material about infertility and her struggles to make it through a granola bar without the guilt that comes with it. (I've seen balloon animals that have bigger wrists than that) There are plenty of unscheduled releases after that...New Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, and Avril Lavigne - who I'd like to take time out to wish a happy fourteenth birthday. There is even a rumor floating around that there is a new Guns N' Roses EP on the table, but if you believe that shit I have some lakefront property on the moon that is beautiful this time of year.

Oh, and one more thing - There is a lot of fright around the indie rock community around "Lip$ha", this new combat record between Ke$ha and the Flaming Lips. Say what you will about the Flaming Lips, they have come up with some of the most inventive music over the past decade and a half, and you'd think they know better than to do this. I don't trust anyone with a dollar sign in their name. Even if I did, I still wouldn't be into Ke$ha because she has a tattoo on the inside of her lip. Oh yeah, and her music is horrendous. I was really hoping that this was a joke when I read it, but it's not. May God have mercy on us all.

BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.
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