Latest Entries »

Sooo, yeah, I haven’t exactly updated this thing in quite some time, mostly because I’ve been having the great fortune of writing for some fantastic music sites. So as you grow hungrier for more Pino’s Playlist, here’s a bunch of articles I’ve written to tide you over:

Check out my guitar lessons on Guitar – an extremely quality website with a large collection of lessons, reviews and interviews.

Also, check out my weekly music news blog, It’s the End of the Week as We Know It, I get to write whatever I want. And I do.

Plus, check out this classical guitar feature, I wrote for UG several months ago – 5 Veteran Classical Guitarists Every Guitarist Must Know. Arguably some of the greatest classical guitarists of our time.

And lastly, you can read the tour blog I managed while on the road with The Human Abstract on the Fall 2011 “Frak the Gods” tour. First experience touring the country – fookin’ incredible.

So I’ll leave you with all that good stuff. Check back every now and then for more music drivel.

-Your Friendly Pinographer


Weekend Reading

Just a few awesomely amazing updates:

Two more articles published online.

The first is a Top 10 list for UG is one of the top guitar sites. They have a huge database of free guitar tabs and like to report on industry and artist news. They also like to put up Top 10 lists every now and then. I’m not sure why. It’s mainly for generating a ton of forum discussion. Because frankly, every guitarist has an opinion and they tend to get sore if their favorite guitarists don’t make the list. It’s a very subjective list that is completely my opinion. Am I really a reputable source for determining the Top 10 Underrated Guitarists? Apparently to Ultimate-Guitar, I am.

The next is a review for the growing The review is for the “rockumentary,” Anvil! The Story of Anvil. It’s essentially Spinal Tap in real life. It’s not the most insightful review I’ve ever done. Then again, it’s not the most insightful movie I have seen. It’s hilarious though. Checks it outs.

Anyway, thanks for reading! I’m continuing to contribute to these sites, but I eventually want to make this blog a one-stop source for all things Pinographical. If anyone has any suggestions of content they’d like to see or topics they’d like covered, please let me know!

Oh, and watch Children of Men. Insanely good film.

Ta ta.

I’m not well versed in opera. I love classical music, but I never got opera- more specifically, singers. In fact, the first opera I went to, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, lulled me to sleep within the first act. However, there is one particular singer that has caught my attention recently and changed my perception on operatic vocals. For those who doubt this music is any good, think again. The name you want to remember is Charles Castronovo. “The Boss.”

It’s been pretty classical in our metal abode as of late. Taso spent the last few months preparing for performances with the world-renowned tenor, Charles Castronovo. The two concerts were recently performed at Zipper Hall and Pepperdine’s Raitt Recital Hall. AJ and I got to see both of them. For free too. It was badass. Anyway, I want to illustrate how extremely inspiring Castronovo is and the amazing job the band did.

The first concert took place at Zipper Hall, which is right next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA. I never really get the chance to dress up so it was cool to act a bit more cultured on this particular night. Tickets went for $100 a pop so we were lucky to go.

Charles Castronovo’s “Italian Songbook” was a collection of Italian, Neapolitan and Sicilian folk songs, performed with visual aesthetics that gave the show an intimate feel. Staggered candles flickered around the stage and the band members sported Italian caps and vests.

Imagine the music of The Godfather being performed live, right in front of you. It’s that awesome. Taso gave an impressive performance on guitar, having been an integral part of the arranging process. Pepperdine graduate and former Parkening student, Austin Grant, played the mandolin, which gave an authentic ornament to the music. Percussionist Jake Jamieson gave an animated and exuberant performance, and bassist Tyler Kimmel and Alex Lavruk on accordion rounded out the sound.

And then there is Charles. Normally, I’m not really into singers, but Castronovo’s voice is powerful and dramatic and you can’t help but be moved by his voice. He has great control and power, and his dynamic range made each song gorgeous and intimate.

He is only 35, which is young for an opera star, and has already toured the world in countless operas. He recently finished a run of a new opera, Il Postino, with the world-famous Placido Domingo, in LA. He will be Pavarotti-status as the years go on.

After the performance, there was a swanky reception with food and vino. I missed vino. Vino makes AJ classy. Overall, an excellent concert followed by ritzy schmooze-fest. I was down.

Zipper Hall Reception

Stay classy, AJ














The next concert at Pepperdine was also a huge success. An attendance record was set for Raitt Recital hall at 300 people, 100 over capacity. Seriously, they brought down the house.

Pepperdine Raitt Recital Hall Attendance RECORD!
After the show, Charles took the band and some friends out to Moon Shadows in Malibu. There we were, all suited up, having drinks on the outdoor lounge while the waves crashed nearby, chatting it up with THE Charles Castronovo. Not to divulge too much information, but Chris De Pretis and I may or may not be writing a script based on Charles’s performance. Think gangster noir.
You can’t help but be inspired by this guy. Charles doesn’t have an ounce of pretention and he is such a nice and down-to-earth guy. His name needs to be remembered. His vision can perhaps bring a younger and wider audience to the opera world. Check out his YouTube channel to see performances from the Zipper Hall show.
That’s all for now. Stay posted for more of my lessons and reviews on and Also, get excited for The Human Abstract’s new album, Digital Veil. AJ and his band have a really incredible record on their hands and it will be released in the upcoming months.

To the metalheads-

Bit of an update. My review for Megadeth’s new DVD Rust in Peace: Live is now published at!

OneMetal is a great website that is dedicated to all things metal. Music, books, comics, TV, film, arts, everything. I got a contributor position there so I will be posting frequently. Even if you’re not into heavy metal, still check it out. Good stuff.

Also, part 2 of my “Buying Your First Guitar” article will soon be published at this week. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading!

I just got an article of mine published on! Guitar Messenger is a great website that has a ton of guitar and music info. Definitely worth checking out. My article is a beginner’s guide to purchasing his first guitar. Part 1 was published yesterday and Part 2 will be up in about a week.
I’d love some feedback. If the article does well, hopefully I can get an ongoing column at GuitarMessenger. And that would be sick.
A new post will be up soon about Taso’s amazing concert with Charles Castronovo. Epic performance.
Thanks for reading!

Philip Sayce

I wrote this short review as a writing sample for a website. I’m posting it because you all need to check out Philip Sayce. Amazing guitarist.

Blues Sensation Philip Sayce @ Molly Malone’s Pub

August 17th 2010

Energetic is the best word to describe Philip Sayce’s live show. From the moment his three-piece band took the stage, an infectious and continuous surge of energy swarmed over the crowd. Akin to the popular Stevie Ray Vaughan sound, Sayce’s blend of power blues, funk, and rock pleased the diverse crowd. Sayce’s powerful rhythm section, bassist Joel Gottschalk and drummer Chris Jago, performed with a high level of musicianship and effortlessly got the crowd cheering for more.

Sayce is a passionate singer with a dynamic and soulful vocal range. His music organically flows with catchy pop-hooks and choruses, with most songs ending up as extended jams. Guitar-wise, Phil is a fantastic lead player. His ability to wail on his worn Fender Stratocaster allowed him to unpretentiously walk off the stage, into the audience, and solo for several minutes, outside of the shine of the stage lights. Despite his short set, Philip Sayce gave a stunning performance that left the audience thirsty for more blues.

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub was an ideal venue for this performance. The stage lies in a separate room from the main bar, allowing patrons to either enjoy the bar atmosphere or watch the show. The pub’s brick walls, adorned with rock and roll memorabilia, create the perfect atmosphere for watching live music. With a beer in hand, anyone who attends Molly Malone’s for a live show is sure to enjoy the pub’s casual aesthetics. With the cheap admission price for the show, Molly Malone’s delivered another outstanding night of live music.

=w=eezer. Not so Raditude.

The following is a letter in response to a message from a great friend, Clayton Snyder (the original message is posted on his blog). Clayton and I became friends during our freshman year in college after jamming out multiple Weezer songs. I’m not talking about a little “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills.” I’m talking BACK catalogue Weezer. We instinctively knew what parts to play, what parts to sing, and we knew every lyric. Needless to say it was a bonding experience. Since that time, our opinions on Weezer have changed. Since I became a music snob, I became less forgiving to their continued venture into the pop realm. Anyway here’s my letter to Clayton trying to reconcile Weezer’s new direction.

Dearest Clay,

It was so much fun sharing that drunken Weezer karaoke at dinner the other nite. Great times.

I know what you’re saying about the direction Weezer has gone in. Of course they are older people who have different lives and goals than they did when they were in their early twenties. I think when bands or artists are in their infant stages as young adults trying to prove themselves, the drive to succeed yields a higher degree of artistry in the music.
So was the case for our beloved Blue and Pinkerton. They will go down as classic albums because nobody really can say “oh Blue album sucks, Green is much better.”
After the hiatus after Pinkerton and the fact that it flopped initially, I think Rivers wanted to play it safe, and Green was a safe pop-mobile but still had good songs. Maladroit had good songs and bad songs, but had much more of a rock vibe. Make Believe, more poppy, but still solid. I listened to Red the summer it came out, but it was the last Weezer record that I was really excited for. It ultimately didn’t stick with me. And I honestly haven’t listened to Raditude in its entirety.

I should probably give the new record another chance. However I think my problem with Weezer now versus Weezer then is that I don’t have the nostalgia tied to albums. I still like Make Believe because it brings me back to a very specific point in time where the sense memories are still vivid. Same with every record before Red.

Bands evolve. Happens with every band, hell even Metallica and Megadeth to an extent. Fans still give Metallica shit for going soft in the nineties when they used to be the epitome of thrash music. I think that’s a danger an artist inevitably has to go through. They could never evolve and please a narrower fan base, or they can use their improved resources and bring their music to more people. I think Weezer is making really smart business decisions. With the state the record industry is in now, its amazing that Weezer, a band that were essentially a cult band, are thriving and are at the peak of their popularity.

I think I just don’t have any attachment to new Weezer. We should continue writing Weezer-related messages. I’d love to hear more stories of how the band complimented your adolescence because it really complimented mine.

Anyway I’m gonna try to come down to Malibu to see you and Christian before you guys leave. Gimme a ring tomorrow and let me know what you guys are doing. Also check your mail, I sent you a clip of me playing “Waves” over a backing track!

Love you man,


In closing, go out and listen to the new Weezer record, Hurley, and tell me what you think. If you can see them live, do so. They put on an awesome show. Even though I’m not digging their newer stuff, they still are a great band. Later.

“Crazy Horse I Am!”

Album Review

Black Label Society, Order of the Black

Release Date: August 10, 2010

It seems that many musicians are plagued with public doubt when they decide (or need) to get sober. Some believe that the quality of music will suffer once the artist gets clean, as if they will forfeit their original creativity and flare. In the case of newly sober Zakk Wylde, not only can he still shred the daylights out of his arsenal of Gibson guitars, his new album with Black Label Society, Order of the Black, is arguably the most creative and intriguing release of the band’s catalogue. Zakk Wyle has endured many changes since BLS’s last studio effort, 2006’s Shot to Hell. After suffering a blood clot and a scare with pancreatitis, Wylde stopped throwing back beers for his health. He also parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne, focusing all of his attention on BLS. These changes have definitely yielded one hell of an album.

Recorded in Wylde’s home studio, Order of the Black mixes the typical heavy metal brutality that BLS are best known for with shades of hard rock, piano-driven ballads, and infectious vocal melodies. Let’s take a look at the tracks.

The record opens with “Crazy Horse,” a crunchy and energetic song that reminds listeners that Black Label Society haven’t lost an ounce of their heaviness. Wide pinch harmonics, dexterous riffs, and a blistering guitar solo make this song an ideal opener. Sonically, the production is outstanding. The bass and drums are crisp and punchy, welcoming newcomers John DeServio on bass and Evanescence drummer, Will Hunt.

Onward to “Overlord,” one of the album’s strongest and most surprising tracks. A warm, wah guitar riff, reminiscent of Hendrix, introduces the song until the band kicks in with a hard-rocking riff that repeats for the majority of the track. This song is less metal than usual, but it still kicks ass. Wylde allows his soaring voice to lead this track, reminding us that he is also an extremely versatile and capable lead singer. This song could easily find its way into the world of rock radio. A tinge of humor ends the track, with Zakk nasally whining, “she is my overloooooorrrrd!” At first, one would ponder why this strange chant is included on the record, but it shows that Wylde doesn’t take himself too seriously and sends the message that Black Label Society is all about having a great time and celebrating the joy of heavy music.

“Parade of the Dead,” the album’s first single, is pure energy. Infectious melodies and a frantic looseness make his track a standout. “Parade of the Dead” leads into “Darkest Days” the record’s first piano ballad. A solid track with an emotionally melodic guitar solo, “Darkest Days” introduces Order of the Black’s softer side.

“Southern Dissolution” and “Black Sunday,” with an introduction saluting shredders like Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads, return to formula and keep up the pace. Metalheads will soak up the onslaught of Wylde’s palm-muted riffs and flashy pentatonic solos. “Godspeed Hellbound” is the heaviest song on the record with a remarkable performance from Will Hunt on drums.  “War of Heaven” begins with a creepy guitar intro with a chorus effect- very Alice in Chains. Again, a badass song that effortlessly blends hard rock, metal, southern rock and grunge without sounding forced.

“Chupacabra” continues Zakk’s tradition of including short acoustic masturbatory displays of his ability to shred. “Chupacabra” is awfully similar to “Taz,” “Takillya” and “Speedball” from previous records, but it’s all in the name of fun.

The only downside to Order of the Black is the placement of the ballads, which interrupt the flow of the record. Two songs of metal, followed by a ballad, two songs of metal, ballad, repeat. The slower songs aren’t bad by any means, and Wylde is expanding his songwriting abilities. Perhaps these songs would have been better suited for another volume of Hangover Music, and some slower-tempo metal tunes would have been more effective on Order of the Black. “Time Waits for No One” displays Zakk’s admiration of Elton John, and “Darkest Days” ventures into Nickelback and Guns N’ Roses territory. “Shallow Grave” is rather generic and indie-sounding. Well-written pop songs are not quite my cup of Darjeeling, but I imagine that many people will enjoy Zakk’s enthusiasm for piano-driven ballads. These songs might turn off some metal fans, but there is potential for crossover hits that could further expand Zakk Wylde’s society. The album closes with the slow acoustic track, “January.” The string ensemble nods to the Beatles’s “Yesterday.”

Overall, this album is an organic showcase of Black Label Society’s impressive musicianship and energetic spirit. There is something to be enjoyed by everyone here and the majority of these songs will translate well live. Black Label Society will tour this fall with Finnish metallers, Children of Bodom, on the nationwide Bezerkus tour. Check them out!

Order of the Black is a promising return for Black Label Society. Zakk Wylde has proven his staying power, boldly showing that he does not need Ozzy, or booze, to solidify his status as one of the greatest contemporary guitarists on the scene today.

Standout Tracks: “Overlord,” “Southern Dissolution,” “Parade of the Dead,” “Black Sunday”

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

New Pino’s Playlist?

Well now,

It has certainly been a long time since I’ve updated this blog thing. So much time has passed that I decided to rework the content of this blog and shift its focus. Having graduated, I am no longer in the writing classes that inspired this blog and longer feel the need to try to tailor each of my posts to a general audience with widely differing tastes and opinions on music. My previous attempts to get people excited about the music I love (specifically metal) fell short because personal taste is tough to sway. This blog will now focus on the formation and progress of my new band, as well as a few album reviews (BLS Order of the Black coming very soon!) and song links

Since graduation, the untitled band consisting of myself and the awesome axe-slinger Taso Comanescu have split with the original drummer and bass player. We disbanded amicably, and Taso and I are now embarking on the myriad tasks involved with solidifying a band with a focused sound and image. We are moving into an apartment near USC with the great AJ Minette of The Human Abstract. Confident in our inspiration and living situation, we plan on finding the musicians that will contribute to our vision. The next few months should yield a solid demo, band name, and a full band lineup.

Anyway, I’m hoping that this blog will become a place for fans or people curious about the band to check out what’s going on with our progress. In the meantime, go out and buy the new Black Label Society album, Order of the Black!!!!

Until next time,