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My Arroyo II's just arrived today. I want a good pair of hiking sandals for my first Grand Canyon trip this August, yet something that can get wet for Havasu Falls. I heard so many good things about Keens that I decided to try them for myself.
First, some things to consider. At first I was settled on the Keen Newport H2's, but after speaking to an associate at REI I learned that the tread of the H2's is not suited for hiking, and that the Arroyo II's would serve me better for mostly hiking. This point was obvious after examining the tread of both models; the Arroyo II's have a thicker tread for greater traction on dirt and rocks. They also seem more durable overall and are made of leather instead of nylon. The way he put it: The Newport H2's are mostly for water activities and some outdoor activities, and the Arroyo II's are mostly for hiking and some water activities. This is because the Arroyo II's won't dry as quickly as the Newport H2's because of its cushioned insole for better support, which is nonexistent in the H2's. Although both models of sandals seem great, you have to decide for yourself what you need them for before making a purchase. I figured I'd be hiking mostly, with some treks across rivers, streams, etc., so I went with the Arroyo II's.
My first impression after trying them on is a good one! They fit well, are comfy, and have good arch support for walking. These shoes really feel tough enough to handle the rugged outdoors, with a thick toe and sturdy coverage on all sides. I'm questioning the ankle support these shoes will provide, although there is some support. Some people weren't happy with the drawstring for tightening the sandal. I could maybe see it not holding well and coming loose after long hikes, so I will keep an eye on this. I love the colors (I went with Slate Black/Bronze Green, which is a nice medium-brown color with forest-green detailing -- very camo-looking). I will update my review after my 5-day Grand Canyon trip and detail how well they held up while hiking and in water.
A word of caution about sizing. As I did, you should seriously consider trying these on at a local retailer (such as REI) before making your purchase. They definitely run very big. I'm usually size 9.5-10, but I had to buy these in an 8 for a good fit. For me, that's at least a size-and-a-half smaller than the norm. If you can't try them on first, order at least one full size smaller than you typically would.
Took my sandals on a test spin in PA's "Grand Canyon" this past week. We hiked the Turkey Path down to the waterfall and Pine Creek, and back up. It was rocky with steep slopes, so it was a good practice run for the actual Grand Canyon.
The sandals had great traction on the rocky surfaces. The pinky toe on my right foot started hurting at the end of the hike to the point where I thought I was forming a blister, but it ended up being okay. Whenever we stopped to take a break I found myself tightening up the cords, so this could be an annoyance for some people. Although I had to tighten them, I never thought they were too loose; rather, tightening gave them a more secure fit.
I dipped my feet into Pine Creek when we got to the bottom to test out their water resistance. They definitely dried pretty quickly (about 20 minutes longer into our hike), and they weren't heavy and squishy after getting them wet.
My only complaint so far is the discomfort I felt on my pinky toe towards the end of the 2-hour hike, which I expect is due to the initial wear-in period. We leave for the real Grand Canyon in the morning, so I'll post another update when we return!
I thought this band's studio recordings were amazing, but seeing them live is a completely different story. The Avett Brothers are true performers -- they play with a certain charm, energy, and sincerity that I haven't quite seen in any other band. This DVD has now got me AMPED for their Georgia show with Old Crow in May.
This DVD seems to be a re-release of the one that came out in 2010. Not sure what the reason for this is, and I haven't watched the earlier edition, but this appears to be the same exact product.
Plenty of my favorites are found on this live DVD, such as "I and Love and You," "Talk on Indolence," "Colorshow," "Distraction #74," "Kick Drum Heart," "Swept Away," "When I Drink," and an old favorite, "I Killed Sally's Lover." There aren't many songs from Carolina Jubilee or Mignonette, though, which is slightly disappointing since their earlier albums contain some of my favorites. This was made before The Carpenter, so there's nothing from that album either. But this is still an amazing DVD that showcases some of the Avett Brothers' finest work. You can even find some brief interviews with each band member between songs -- very cool. These guys are so fun to watch; each member is so talented, and it's mindblowing to see them hold out those sweet harmonies.
If you are a fan of the Avett Brothers, folk/Americana, or music in general, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. And if you haven't heard any Avett Brothers tunes yet, well, you've been missing out!
I was torn about how to rate this new product from one of my favorite bands. I'll break it into two parts: CD and DVD.
CD: As a huge Hackensaw fan, I love the live music on this CD. It really captures the spirit of the band, and the story behind the making of this CD is touching and inspirational. The music is recorded live, so the sound quality obviously won't be on par with that of a studio CD. However, you'll soon get over this minor detail, and overall the CD is quite enjoyable. A few of my Hackensaw favorites are found on here -- "Dance Around," "Ruby Pearl," "Keep It Simple," "Can't Catch Me," and "Oh, Girl," to name a few -- and there are even some new songs I haven't heard before (traditional songs/covers, I assume, but enjoyable nonetheless). I give it 4.5/5 stars.
DVD: Well, this is where the band, producer, record label -- whomever you want to blame -- really messed up. This CD/DVD combo was originally released overseas, so the DVD was in PAL format (the format most of the world uses with the exception of the U.S. and about fifteen other countries). However, upon being released in North America, you'd think they would have converted the format to NTSC so that we American fans can actually enjoy it. Nope. After looking so forward to watching the DVD documentary, I popped it into my PS3 only to get the compatibility notification that it cannot play PAL software. I contacted the company from which I purchased it and am waiting for an answer. Pretty bummed out. 0/5 stars since I can't watch it (and neither can any other Americans).
Overall a great CD, but the DVD won't play unless you have a PAL-compatible device, which is more difficult to obtain for us American fans. And who would want to purchase a separate device for one DVD? It's a shame because the DVD is probably pretty awesome, and Hackensaw doesn't have a live DVD yet that I'm aware of. I suggest downloading just the CD instead for now.
I'm a new addition to the Avett fanbase. If you are looking to join in as well, I would start with Carolina Jubilee. This is such a fun and energetic CD that I can't stop listening to from beginning to end. Avett sings of love, loss, and healing -- topics that I think all of us can easily relate to. While I favor the romping bluegrassy tunes on this CD, I still find the slower, more thoughtful ballads to be incredibly moving and enjoyable. And the harmonies they produce -- WOW. Very catchy. I find myself singing along with every song. I've listened to some of their latest material, but it's a little too slow and droning for my taste (although I'll probably end up purchasing them anyway), but this early album in the Avett discography is just perfect. After this CD, I suggest listening in the order they were released; the next CD, Mignonette, is also an amazing album with a similar style to Carolina Jubilee. Do yourself a favor and check this one out....Read more
I'm a person who does a lot of research before buying anything, so when I resolved to buy the Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo as my first banjo, I made sure it was the one I wanted. Online reviews across several sites praised the Goodtime for its superior sound and build quality, so I thought it'd be silly to pass it over, especially for the price on Amazon. Well, I'm glad I went with my instincts!
Before I get into the review, in my research I learned there are two main types of five-string banjos: open-back (which is the Deering Goodtime) and resonator. Open-back is more for playing old-time style, also known as clawhammer or frailing style, and it's much lighter than the resonator (I can attest to this since my brother had a resonator; it is HEAVY). The resonator is more for bluegrass style, so you'll be fingerpicking while wearing fingerpicks. It's got a resonator plate on the back, so you'll get a louder, brighter sound (hence the term "resonator"), but as I said, it's pretty heavy. I like the simplicity, timbre, and portability of the open-back, hence why I went with the Deering Goodtime. Just thought I'd mention this as a helpful starting point.
First, the positives of the Goodtime, of which there are many:
Although I never played banjo, I do play guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and bass, so I have a general idea of what I need to look for in an instrument. Right out of the box (the banjo was safely and securely packaged, by the way, which was a good first sign of its quality and a huge reassurance that it wasn't damaged in shipping), you can tell the Goodtime is of outstanding quality. Everything feels sturdy and tight; nothing is loose or wobbly. It has a natural wood finish that I really like, and it even FEELS like high quality wood. The fretboard has beautiful inlays, and the shape and construction of the neck and fretboard, in addition to the banjo's fantastic action, makes the banjo very easy and fun to play (imagine that - easy AND fun!). The tuning keys are easy to wind and hold tight, so you won't have to constantly re-tune. The rim looks nice and is solidly built, as well. Overall I feel like I got my money's worth, and then some.
And the beautiful sound! You have to hear it for yourself. Every string rings clear, and the banjo sounds just as I expected a banjo should. This might sound redundant, but from what I've read there are some pretty cheaply made banjos out there. Rest assured that the Deering Goodtime is NOT one of them.
Now, a couple minor issues (the first of which is not the fault of Deering but is the nature of all banjos in general):
First, I noticed my banjo was in tune below the 5th fret but played sharp the farther up the fretboard I went. I did some research and found that this is normal for banjos given their sensitivity to the surrounding temperature (thus the possibility of a very slight stretching or shrinking of the head - this is normal), and the fact that all banjo bridges are moveable. Thus, I had to loosen every string and move the bridge slightly in the direction away from the neck to ensure proper intonation. I had to repeat this process of loosening the strings, moving the bridge, and re-tuning a few times, so needless to say it was annoying and time consuming. It did the trick though, and it's been fine ever since. So just keep in mind that notes playing sharper or flatter up the neck is normal for any banjo and is NOT the fault of Deering, and you may need to move the bridge slightly in one direction or the other depending on whether it's playing sharp or flat.
Second, the instrument does not come with a gig bag or case. To get the banjo gig bag made by Deering, and hence ensuring a proper, snug fit, you'll be shelling out around $75. I definitely recommend the Deering gig bag since it's very padded and well-made, but it's just kind of inconvenient to have to put out more money in addition to the cost of the banjo. Otherwise you'll be storing your awesome banjo in the factory box it came in until you get one.
If you're in the market for a banjo as an entry-level or intermediate player, then bypass the junk and go with the Deering Goodtime. I can't see any reason why you should put out more money on an expensive, "better" banjo (I say "better" because I can't see it getting much better than the Goodtime; I've actually come across reviews in which the Goodtime is compared to $1000+ banjos), and personally I can't even foresee having to buy another banjo. Ever. The Deering Goodtime is everything I wanted for an incredible price. You just can't go wrong.
I've been a long-time fan of Resident Evil (yeah, yeah, I know everyone says that, but I feel I must qualify myself first), and with every iteration of RE comes changes: some good, some bad. The original games ("original," to me, being 0, 1, 2, 3, and Code: Veronica) focused on heart-pounding horror wrought by zombies (remember those?) and other mutant beasts, and the games scared the pants off of anyone who played them. Some people didn't like the controls, but they worked.
RE4 saw different camera angles, different enemy types, and a new weapon level-up system, but there was still a pervasive feeling of horror mixed in with the action-oriented plot.
RE5 continued with those ideas from RE4, although it leaned even more towards action than horror. Some fans were disappointed, but it was fun nonetheless.
Now with RE6, we see more drastic changes than with RE4 and RE5. Except the changes aren't good. They're atrocious. The game feels broken and even unplayable at times. Here is why:
- They introduced a "dodge onto the floor and crawl around feature," which, frankly, is unnecessary in this type of game and doesn't work very well. You can't get up for a few seconds after using it, so if you hit it by mistake you're in trouble.
- Sometimes you can duck behind certain walls, and other times you can't.
- You character's movements aren't precise. Therefore you don't feel truly in control of your character. You just have to play to know what I mean.
- The camera angles are terrible, and you can't see much of what's happening from your perspective. They tried to do a shaky-camera, things-are-crazy effect a la Gears of War, but it doesn't work nearly as well. It just muddles your view and is therefore frustrating.
- The inventory menu is confusing and hard to access amidst of all the action happening. Herbs are now placed into pill bottles before use (?), and for what reason I don't know.
- The graphics are pretty good, but I'm not completely happy with them for having a PS3 in the year 2012. They work, though.
It's kind of sad to see the path Resident Evil has taken over the last decade. I feel like I'm playing a war shooter sometimes instead of a horror game. I understand that the terror has gone global now, so maybe that's the reason for the army squadrons and such. But why can't the virus/terrorist organization go global and still be frightening? If I wanted to play Gears of War, I would, well... play Gears of War. I want a Resident Evil game because it's horrific, grisly, and suspenseful. Because there's an interesting storyline with intriguing characters. Because the enemies are awesome and actually pose a threat. Not because I want to shoot everything that moves and be confused while I'm doing so.
I'll be looking for this one in the bargain bin in six months. R.I.P., Resident Evil.
For this album having come out about five years ago now, I'm surprised it's not more well known. Six Amazon reviews isn't exactly a lot. Hackensaw Boys is one of my favorite bluegrass groups, and this is one of their best albums hands-down - right up there with 2002's Keep It Simple, although maybe more refined, which isn't a bad thing. You can tell this band has grown since Keep It Simple.
The CD has a very strong opening with "Look Out Dog," and the album definitely keeps its momentum all the way through "Sally Ann," which is track #9. The final three songs on the album aren't bad, but they're not as strong as the first nine. My favorites are "Look Out Dog," "Oh, Girl," "F.D.R.," and "Baltimore." The lyrics are well-written (especially in "Baltimore," which I can't seem to stop listening to/singing), and the instruments have a raw and powerful edge that will keep you stomping. The vocals are great, as well, and really fit the style and mood - again, very raw and edgy. Another reviewer said "old-time with an attitude," and I definitely see where he is coming from. Overall a very fun and catchy CD.
This album - and band, for that matter - are extremely underrated and deserve so much more attention. If you search for videos, lyrics, or chords online, there is virtually nothing to be found compared to other contemporary bands of similar style, which is such a shame. Hackensaw is not "mainstream" by any means (although it should be), but this band is certainly worth your time if you're a fan of bluegrass, particularly Old Crow Medicine Show or Trampled by Turtles. Please check this one out; you won't be sorry you did.
I am a huge fan of all of Old Crow's albums up until their last one, which was Tennessee Pusher. It was way too twangy and county-pop-ish (if that makes sense), whereas up until then all of their albums were closer to bluegrass and old-time, which is why I fell in love with the group to begin with. Don't change what ain't broken, right?
Now with Carry Me Back, Old Crow has returned to their former glory: all-out bluegrass that is closer in musical style to their Eutaw and O.C.M.S. albums. At the same time, though, this album definitely has its own distinguishable sound that proves the band is constantly growing and maturing. In my opinion the CD as a whole is a little edgier and rawer, especially for Old Crow, with more bluegrass and less old-time. Obviously this is debatable. Either way, if you love Old Crow for their previous albums but were disappointed with Tennessee Pusher, then you'll continue to love them with this release. I found there to be several strong tracks on this album during my first listen-through, which is a pretty good indication to me that it's a solid collection of songs. There is much good to be said about the lyrics for many of the songs, as well, especially for those such as "Carry Me Back" and "Levi." Any fans of Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Carolina Chocolate Drops, or bluegrass/old-time/folk in general should definitely pick this one up.
I've been a huge fan of TbT since I discovered them about a year ago (it's a shame not sooner) and fell in love with their meaningful lyrics and energetic style. They are a huge inspiration for me as a fiddle, guitar, and bass player, and I can't seem to remove their last three albums from my car's six-disc changer. Simonett is an excellent singer and songwriter, and each member of the band is so talented at what he plays.
Now their latest (and for me, long-awaited) album Stars and Satellites is here, and it is nothing short of the amazing talent that TbT has so far demonstrated in their last few albums, particularly Trouble, Duluth, and Palomino. If you loved TbT before, you will continue to do so with their latest release.
Having said that, it is a different album from the others, but certainly not in a bad way. The lyrics are overall more contemplative, the style overall more mellow. That is not to say there aren't a few of their typical fast-paced, rambling tunes on here ("Walt Whitman," "Risk," "Sorry," and "Don't Look Down," for example), but the rest are more relaxed in nature ("Midnight on the Interstate," "Alone," and "High Water" are perfect examples of this), and it is in these more thoughtful songs where the album truly shines.
The laid-back and meditative feel of the album actually makes perfect sense considering where the band recorded the album, according to the Vignette Series/Making Of videos the band released on YouTube: in a secluded cabin in the woods. What is particularly laudable is the songwriting; the lyrics leave me in awe every time. The songs have an almost lonely, lost feel to them, and a sense of longing for what has been and what may be. It makes me want to drive out into the middle of nowhere, light a campfire, look up at the nighttime sky, and just wonder. No CD has made me feel this way before, and for a CD to have any kind of profound emotional effect on me is an awesome feeling and an equally awesome accomplishment for the band.
I cannot recommend this album highly enough. What TbT has proven is that a band can mature and still retain what originally made them great. I was initially going to recommend this to any bluegrass/folk fan, but hell... any fan of music in general needs to own this one.
See you guys in Philly on April 21!
If you are a fan of Streetlight, then you will most likely love this album. If you aren't a fan of more mellow acoustic music, then maybe you should avoid this. I know there are times that I want something more mellow, so this CD is perfect for that occasion. It's a great sing-along album just like the original albums. In addition, you should probably skip this one for now if you haven't heard the original Streetlight albums before. It's not that you couldn't appreciate Kalnoky's beautiful playing and melodies otherwise, but I think you will enjoy it much more if you have heard his songs before and can sing along. Another reviewer commented on the sound quality of the album; I'm not saying he/she is wrong because everyone has different speakers, sound cards, etc., but nothing odd stuck out to me - just great music. For the price you can't go wrong with this one!...Read more