Saturday, July 31, 2010

[July 31, 2010] MBC Music Core Highlights + Commentary

Why does it seem like all the music shows this weekend know I'm taking a BIG BIG BIIIIIG exam next week, so not a lot of acts show up and perform? The acts I recap, at least. I'm serious - there were only 6 performances today, usually I have to recap like 10 or 12. Not that I'm complaining or anything! Taeyang finally shows up again after a lul in promo, and Se7en made his comeback with a 2-song "suite". This was also Tiffay and Yuri's last episode as MCs/emcees. Awww.

Video credit goes to CrazyCarrot260. Always brilliant.

G.NA - I'll Back Off So You Can Live (review)
I'm ever so slightly more convinced with her live vocals today, but that lasted only up to the first chorus - it kinda went downhill from here. And YAY Doojoon's back - I'll just go and say that no one can do that rap line better than he can. Coming from someone who doesn't know a lot about rap, at least. And he can actually sing! G.NA's a bit more used to the stage, based on how she moves and carries herself, but there's still this hint of fear in her movements - I want that thrown out of the window as fast as possible. Like, now.

Miss A - Bad Girl Good Girl
Another consistent performance. Nothing special or especially bad, they just REALLY need to work on the breathlessness.

Son Dambi - Queen
Could this be? Is Son Dambi actually singing pretty decently now? There's not much to judge, but from the parts that are melodic, she is singing rather well. Once again, for her standards. All she has to do is keep doing it the way she is, and she'll be decent for me. Now, just give me a good song and we're good to go.

SHINee - Lucifer (review)
Did I just hear several attempts at a harmony? I honestly wasn't expecting they do that, given how demanding the choreography is, but apparently, they tried. They didn't do it exceptionally fantastic or anything, but the harmony was there, and I heard it. Very, VERY strong performance today (except for the crappy sound system) - Onew sounded phenomenal and Jonghyun was a little less wild as well. I kept on saying that DBSK need to make a comeback to show all these new groups how you really do it, but I think SHINee's a good enough replacement. They're not at DBSK's level (yet?), but they're close enough. Second favorite boyband? Second favorite boyband. Sorry, BEAST and D-NA. Hahah!

Taeyang - I Need A Girl
Still bored. Would still rather listen to the recording. Even with the slight change in gimmick and blocking and wardrobe and this and that, I'm still not sold. Well, it's slightly better than it was the last time he performed, but I still don't like it.

Se7en - Digital Bounce with TOP + Better Together
And that, people, is how you do it. I may not be the biggest Se7en fan around and when I talked about him on The Kpop Panel I wasn't all over the new single, but after watching today's performance, I have a newfound appreciation for the guy. He actually has the vocals. I mean, he's not singing an awful lot on these songs, but the times that he does, it just comes out like it's second nature to him. He's a performer - even if I don't like the songs and even if the girls are wearing these horrid bodysuit-like things, he makes me HAVE to watch the performance. Not just want, HAVE. Everything seems so natural for him, and he's living proof of my "you can command an audience just by raising your hand" statement - now I know why he's Rain's biggest rival, because they're basically in a league of their own when it comes to putting on a show. Just by watching this, I wouldn't mind spending my money to see this guy live, even if I'm not a big fan of the material.

Ripple News - TheLiveLine Sponsors the Tantric, Adema, Burn Halo Tour

Irvine, CA based mobile marketers TheLiveLine  has been confirmed to sponsor the TANTRIC, ADEMA, and BURN HALO tour, with FLAW appearing on select dates.  TheLiveLine will be powering all mobile efforts for the tour, including tour mobile clubs, in-venue mobile, and much more.

Text POP to 81899 for all tour updates, contests, coupons, and more!!

TheLiveLine will also be using its innovative in-venue mobile on this tour.  Concert attendees will be able to text NOW1, NOW2, or NOW3 to 81899 to receive a bounce back digital coupon for discounts off merch, exclusive contests, and more.  All in-venue mobile will take place live at the concert, as NOW is the idea here.  Different NOW keywords will be in effect for different venues.

Look out for more tours TheLiveLine will be sponsoring – stay tuned, my friends…

Check out TheLiveLine on the web:

TANTRIC, ADEMA, BURN HALO tour dates below with presale ticket links.  Buy yourself a pair now!

7/28 – Denver, CO @ Grizzly Rose - BUY TICKETS

7/29 – Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater – BUY TICKETS

7/30 – Vernal, UT @ Western Park

7/31 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Vegas

8/3 – Sparks, NV @ The New Oasis – BUY TICKETS

8/5 – Santa Rosa, CA @ Chrome Lotus – BUY TICKETS

8/7 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Hard Rock Café on the strip – BUY TICKETS

8/8 – Tempe, AZ @ Club Red – BUY TICKETS

8/9 – Tucson, AZ @ Club DV8

8/11 – Abilene, TX @ Midnight Rodeo III

8/12 – Harker Heights, TX @ The Music Vault

8/13 – San Antonio, TX @ Scoutbar – BUY TICKETS

8/14 – Houston, TX @ The Scoutbar – BUY TICKETS

8/15 – Dallas, TX @ Trees – BUY TICKETS

8/18 – Jonesboro, AK @ The Brickhouse Grill

8/19 – Little Rock, AK @ The Village – BUY TICKETS

8/20 – Charenton, LA @ Rox Nightclub (IN) Cypress Bayou Casino

8/21 – Panama City Beach, FL @ Club La Vela – BUY TICKETS

8/22 – Jacksonville, FL @ Brewsters Pit Live – BUY TICKETS

8/25 – Philadelphia, PA @ Polaris – BUY TICKETS

8/27 – Watertown, NY @ The Exhibition Hall – BUY TICKETS

8/28 – Rochester, NY @ The Montage Music Hall – BUY TICKETS

8/29 – Cheswick, PA @ Ches-arena Entertainment Complex – BUY TICKETS

8/31 – Baltimore, MD @ Bourbon Street Quarter – BUY TICKETS

9/1 – Eden, NC @ Modelo Bay

9/2 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ Southend – BUY TICKETS

9/3 – Jacksonville, NC @ The Party Zone (no BURN HALO)

9/4 – Fayetteville, NC @ Jester’s Pub (no BURN HALO)

9/5 – Wilmington, NC @ The Soapbox Laundro Lounge (no BURN HALO)

9/9 – Bay City, MI @ Prime Event Center

9/10 – Warren, MI @ The Ritz

9/11 – Glendale Heights, IL @ Shark City – BUY TICKETS

9/14 – Waterloo, IA @ Spicoli’s Grill And The Rever

9/15 – Maplewood, MN @ The Rock Night Club – BUY TICKETS

9/16 – Madison, WI @ The Annex

9/18 – Rockford, IL @ Kryptonite Bar


9/20 – Syracuse, NY @ The Lost Horizon

9/21 – State College, PA @ The Arena

9/22 – Allston, MA @ Harpers Ferry – BUY TICKETS

9/24 – Providence, RI @ The Ruins

9/25 – Rochester, NY @ The Rochester Opera House

9/26 – Middleton, NY @ Orange County Speedway

Friday, July 30, 2010

[July 30, 2010] KBS Music Bank Highlights + Commentary

*pops confetti* YAY! It was between SHINee and Miss A, so I think you can guess who won by my reaction. Not that many performances, but that's 'coz Se7en didn't show up and I've stopped writing about Narsha. G.NA performed with yet another "special" guest, and Teen Top + Infinite had this collaboration. Which I didn't include, sorry.

Video credit to UnknownCarrot150. Brilliance.

G.NA - I'll Back Off So You Can Live (review)
I'm serious, she looks so uncomfortable on stage. I mean, you can be a good performer and not really move around, but her movements look so strained and contrived. Her vocals aren't as good as they should be, but they're better off than a lot of others, so I shouldn't be complaining. And Thunder just sucked today - no question.

Teen Top - Clap
If Teen Top didn't make me wonder what the other guy's vocals sound like and if they weren't synchronized like hell, I'm pretty sure I'd be bored to death by now. Tight performance, for rookie standards, and actually, pretty decent vocals from the guys who actually sing. Not bad, not bad at all - they just don't captivate me or anything.

Miss A - Bad Girl Good Girl
It's been what, almost a month since they started promo, and I'm still not sick of seeing them perform. I've never really liked the song as a recording and I would never really listen to it willingly on my iPod or anything, but they have the ability to make me shut up, watch the performances and somewhat be impressed with them. The breathlessness has improved A LOT, so I expect them to sound flawless by the time they start promoting their second single!

Infinite - Come Back Again
It's not the band who carry the performance, it's the instrumental. Seriously! It's like the roles were reversed. The instrumental is spunky and has character, and then these guys are singing to it and they sound horrid. I do hope, for the sake of the money their agency put into them at the very least, that their second single makes them sound much better than they do right now.

MBLAQ - One Better Day
To a certain extent they do sing this better than Y, and they've improved since their debut, but do we have to go through this sermon week in and week out? I don't think they've heard me (metaphorically, at least) - they're too pre-occupied with looking good on stage to care about singing, and they don't deserve to be singers if that's all they wanna do. Please, at least give me something worth my time.

Son Dambi - Queen
Well, I like the piano loop? LOL. Her vocals have gotten probably as strong as they can get, given her vocal ability, so I think I should be content with the state she's in right now. Still not as big a fan of the song as I was before I saw any of her live performances, but the slightly better vocals have helped a bit. Even then, the only part of the song that's really any good is the chorus - it's nice and cheery and explosive and all. And I gotta hand it to her, she kinda pulls it off well.

SHINee - Lucifer (review) (WINNER)
*dances around room* WOOHOO! SHINee won today! *pops confetti* Now, this was truly a deserving win. You put gorgeous voices and fantastic performers together with a good sound system and you have magic. I love it. Right now, my only problem is Jonghyun - he's trying to jump through hoops and fire, but it doesn't always work. I mean yeah, when it does work he sounds good and it's not sloppy, but when it doesn't work, it just doesn't work. He either needs to learn to control himself, or be more consistent - either will solve the problem. But otherwise, fantastic performance - I got goosebumps again!

Salif Keita - La Difference

The descendant of warrior princes, the son of two black African parents, Afro-pop pioneer Salif Keita was born “white.” Inheriting albinism, a lack of skin pigmentation, Keita instantly stood out among other Africans and stood out as a spokesperson for tolerance in all forms.

On La Différence, the legendary singer addresses this deeply personal issue–albinism in Africa—and gives it an urgent global resonance that takes his songs from Bamako to Beirut. As Keita’s famed “golden voice” cathartically croons in the title track, "I'm a black man, my skin is white and I like it, it's my difference/I'm a white man, my blood is black, I love that, it's the difference that's beautiful."

The distinction is often interpreted as an ill omen in his native Mali, and invited a life of ridicule, making Keita an outcast in his own community. Society, including public schools in Mali, perpetuates harmful beliefs about albinos, and they are often shunned, ridiculed, and even killed for superstitious purposes.

Although he and others have come to terms with albinism, Keita has struggled long and desperately with the stigma attached to his skin color. Though born into a noted caste of musicians with direct links to Sounjata Keita–the heroic 13th-century warrior-prince who edified the ancient Malian Empire–Keita was forbidden to play music growing up. He was also disowned by his father, kicked out of school, and rejected by the local aristocracy.

Filled with unrealized musical ambitions, Keita had no choice but to leave Mali as a young man. Armed with the strength of his convictions, he travelled to neighboring Ivory Coast, then Paris, London, and New York, where his skin color could not keep him from expressing his artistic vision. His perseverance paid off throughout the 1970s and 1980s, as he became an internationally recognized icon thanks to his gravely voice, innovative musical arrangements, and profoundly poetic lyrics.

In 1997, Keita’s fame helped him to overcome the stigma attached to albinism that persisted in West Africa, allowing him to make a triumphant return to Mali. Cautiously re-entering a community that once shunned him, he discovered a newfound acceptance, which allowed him to re-establish roots there, including building a studio in the capital of Bamako.

La Différence is the latest in a trilogy of acclaimed acoustic oriented recordings (Moffou 2002, M’Bemba 2006) that were primarily recorded at Keita’s Bamako studio. The intimate acoustic environment of La Différence allows Keita’s vocal timbres to shimmer and soar, highlighting their poetic nuances and the poignant themes of his lyrics. While the album is dedicated to the plight of albinos in Africa, leading with its title track that aims to increase the global awareness of this cause, the remainder of the album delves into a wide range of social and political issues.

Over a thick sanguine female vocal chorus and rhythmic guitar riffs, “Ekolo d’Amour” seeks to inform listeners about the ecological devastation that has befallen Africa. Fusing the powerful traditional tones of the 21-stringed kora with a contemporary guitar-rich, down-tempo, polyrhythmic groove, “San Ka Na” cites a specific example of ecological destruction, alerting audiences of the need to protect Africa’s Niger River, upon whose banks Keita played as a child. With a rough and urgent voice, Keita scorns local politicians for their neglect and complacency regarding such problems.

La Différence also finds the singer re-imagining a few previous recordings with a new palette of sounds. Harnessing the deeply echoing, bluesy textures of guest guitarists Bill Frisell and Seb Martel, an intimate rendition of 1995’s “Folon” offers a stripped-down, horn-absent version that allows Keita’s haunting voice to pierce the mellow cosmopolitan soundscape. With producer John Henry, Keita reaches back to the 1970s, recalling his days with the Ambassadeurs du Motel band in Bamako, with a new incarnation of “Seydou.”

Departing from the original track (“Seydou Bathily”), this softer version bathes Keita’s voice in a rich sonic world of resonant vocal refrains, Arabic-tinged string arrangements, interlocking guitar tones, and a multilayered percussion ensemble that merges sounds from Africa and the Middle East. Given that these songs have been refined by Keita and his band over the course of many years, some for decades, it is no wonder why his delivery comes across with a relaxed, sophisticated confidence.

Further linking La Différence with Keita’s long musical career, the melody of “Djélé” is decorated by the intricate balafon work of Keletigui Diabaté, a monumental figure in Malian music and one of Keita’s most faithful musical partners, helping him to develop as a guitarist over the course of almost four decades. Drawing on his international sojourns, “Djélé” reinforces Keita’s cosmopolitan approach to this album as the breathy tones of an accordion dance with a concert piano over top a bed of deep electric bass, legato orchestral strings, plucked African lutes, and a global array of polyrhythmic percussive timbres.

La Différence is an intimate journey into Keita’s personal struggles. Singing a hymn of universal tolerance Keita poetically claims, "some of us are black, some are white/all that difference has a purpose…for us to complete each other/let everyone receive love and dignity/the world will be a more beautiful place.”

-- provided to the Ripple by World Music News Wire

buy here: La Difference

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Otis Redding - Live on the Sunset Strip

It’s hard to believe that Otis Redding was only 24 years old when these live shows were recorded in Hollywood, California back in April 1966. Even though he was still a young man, he was an old pro by the time he hit the stage of the famous Whiskey A Go Go having experienced many hit singles and successful albums on the legendary Stax-Volt label. Otis usually recorded with Booker T & The MG’s but rarely toured the United States with them since they were so busy with studio work in Memphis.

There are plenty of live documents of the 1967 European tour and landmark performance at the Monterey festival, but this 2CD set lets you hear exactly what Otis did to audiences night after night with his road band. Most of these have been available in edited form, first on 1968’s LP In Person at the Whisky a Go Go and then more selections were released in 1993 as Good to Me: Live at the Whisky a Go Go, Vol. 2. Even if you already have those, you need to pick this up. You get 3 complete sets of Otis and his tighter than hell road band rocking the stage of a small club. Taj Mahal’s old band Rising Sons (also featuring Ry Cooder) were the opening act for these shows. In the liner notes he’s quoted as “His was one of the most amazing performances I’d ever seen and I’ve seen some great performances. I’m talking about being in the same room, not watching a film or being at some big festival. This cat just had the rafters falling down.” You gonna argue with that

It’s all here. Every grunt, whoop and holler from the Otis and from the crowd, too. When they do fast ones like “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” “I’m Depending On You” or his version of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” you can feel the everyone rocking. Otis liked to do his uptempo ones twice as fast at the record, but he also liked to do ballads twice as slow. “These Arms Of Mine” is even more powerful than the original and “Chained and Bound” gets the full dramatic treatment with some heartfelt testifying in the middle. His hit “Respect” is given a high energy workout. It’s interesting to compare it to the live version from Monterey a year later when he mentions that “some girl” just stole his song, meaning Aretha Franklin’s hit version. Two of the sets come from the last night of his 4 night run at the club. Otis mentions that now that they’ve been paid they can “goof off.” His idea of goofing off includes an incredible 10 minute version of James Brown’s “Papas Got A Brand New Bag” that gives JB a run for his money.

Since it was the norm for artists to do 2 shows a night, several songs are duplicated but when it comes to The Big O can you really have too much? Otis gave us so much incredible music in his way too short life and this is guaranteed to make you feel good no matter how bad your day is going. Play this one loud.


buy here: Live on the Sunset Strip

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Praise Pours in for the Stone Axe/Mighty High split 7" Single

Ok, here's the conundrum.

We got on our hands one of the coolest pieces of split vinyl to come around in ages.  But we're much too shy to write about it ourselves, and we wouldn't want anyone to think we were illegally tooting our own horns on this release.  But we wanna spread the word.

So what we decided to do, was let others tell the story of how killer this split is.  So let's go--

Stone Axe/Mighty High Split 7"

"Impossible not to crack an illegal smile when you hear this.  Stone Axe are one of the best retro-metal acts around.  Kiss might've sounded this good if they'd learned to play their instruments.  There's no one better than Mighty High at making fun of wretched metal excess.  It's priceless."  -- Lucid Culture

"Stone Axe is pure old-school metal played with a power that is sadly rare these days.  Will leave you lusting for more if an ounce of rock and roll spirit throbs in your veins. Mighty High kick off a stoned punk squall that sounds like Queens of the Stone Age playing Rancid Covers.  Both tracks are well worth your time and money and it’s hard to imagine rock fans not wanting to track down at least one of the albums by these fantastic bands. Either way, with two bands of this quality on one release this is something of a must-have."-- Sonic Abuse

"Newcomers Ripple Music managed to get two highly explosive bands onto a 7".   Stone Axe's "Metal Damage" has me thinking of pre-Stained class Judas Priest, the kind of mid-1970's metal where band's took their time and built up the sound with a steady boil of activity. Mighty High's "Don't panic, It's Organic" is even better. The main riff is huge and dripping with 1970's fuzzed out goodness. This is the perfect tune for playing about two minutes after 5:00 on a Friday. Both bands deliver the goods on this album." -- Metal Mark, Heavy Metal Time Machine

"Ripple Music have a gem on their hands. An awesome set of tunes. Stone Axe delivers the goods once again.“Metal Damage” is a throw back to classic Judas Priest from the later 70′s to early 80′s. The best duo around to preserving music from the 70′s. Mighty High really rock with their contribution “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic,”a fast paced, almost punk-like rock song. Get yours today." -- The Soda Shop

Produced in amazingly limited supplies.  The only way to get this is to catch Stone Axe or Mighy High on tour, or get your copy at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

four o’clock balloon - S/T

I was seven years old in 1964.  The British Invasion had just begun and so had my interest in rock music.  Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who and Kinks filled the new stereo FM and monaural AM radio airwaves with UK bands playing blues and rock ‘n roll “all day and all of the night.” The shows were interspersed with reports of draft lottery number call ups and troop casualty totals from the Vietnam war.  The country was grieving the loss of a President.   The up-tempo, hard-edged but harmonious, pop song with a British accent was soothing and exuded optimism at a time of great pain, sorrow, injustice and oppression.  However, as the ‘60’s wore on the mood, and the music, grew darker.  The British Invasion only lasted for three or four years before the times, music and musicians moved on.

Carlos Santana band mate Tommy Anthony (Guitar/Vocals), and John Allen (Guitars),  Michael Quinn (Bass), and Omar Hernandez (Drums)  mine the sound of The British Invasion on four o’clock balloon’s first and only self-titled albumThis is a new, yet nostalgic, project.  For those of us that cut our teeth on 1960’s British rock and blues the music sounds like an old friend.

The album starts with “I Need You,” a song worthy to be vintage Kinks.  The driving bass is reminiscent of the original bass player for the Kinks, the late Pete Quaife, who appeared on most of the Kinks’ hits between 1962 to 1969.  The song is Kinks music that could easily have been written by Ray Davies in his prime.  This effort is followed by “Means To An End”  a song crafted with a sound Pete Townsend would have admired during the Who’s “Magic Bus” era.

In 1966, Left Banke, an American baroque pop band, had a hit with the song “Walk Away Rene.”  At about the same time the Beatles released “Revolver.”  Amazingly four o’clock balloon is able to perform a Vulcan mind meld between the sounds of these two styles on their track “Stood In The Rain.”  If it were 1966, “Stood In The Rain” could have been a bigger hit than “Walk Away Rene.”

On “Tell Me Why” the band’s sound floats more toward the mid-1970’s.  It is as if George Benson and George Harrison during his “Crackerbox Palace” period had formed a band and recorded together. The song “How Long,” is a beauty of a jazz pop tune and is followed by “So Wrong” and “Real, ” songs which would be right at home on the Beatles “Rubber Soul” album.

four o’clock balloon is also able to mash mid-1960’s Kinks’ with Beatles’ pop melodies on “More or Less.  Then, what follows is bizarre fun - a song called “Ripley,” an interesting jingle jangle of a ballad about, of all things, a rhinoceros. 

George Harrison’s sitar-based musical sound from the Beatles’ song “Tomorrow Never Knows” provides the backdrop for the next track, “Less Than Nowhere.”  Following this flurry of fab four fun comes the heavier “Why Me, Why You?”  The tone of this track is closer to that of mid-60’s garage bands like the Troggs

The album ends with the song “The Joker Laughs at You.”   It is another Beatles-like mid -60’s foray. four o’clock balloon explores the sound of  the experimental Beatles heard in 1967’s “I Am The Walrus” and mixes it with a touch of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” 

Some will say that the sound is nostalgic - that music has long ago moved on from the British Invasion and even from the Beatles.  Most musicians pay tribute to this type of music as the foundation of modern rock and all that has come after it.  Bands occasionally attempt to modernize an old mid-1960’s song or two, but, few write new music in the style. This album proves that that is unfortunate.  There is power in the music of that era that transcends its place in time.

Of course, it never hurts to be favorably compared to the Beatles.

- Old School

Monday, July 26, 2010

Melvins – The Bride Screamed Murder

Prior to hearing The Bride Screamed Murder from Melvins, I knew very little about the group. Now, after listening to The Bride Screamed Murder several times back to back to back, I know even less about them. I can say this, though . . . Melvins approach the creation of music unique to their own perspective, a perspective forged from the fires in the bellies of stars in solar systems light years away from what we may perceive as normal. That’s not to say that the music is unlistenable or so avant that it won’t fit into the average persons everyday scheme of minutia, its more akin to working a logic problem where the solution to the puzzle isn’t directly in front of you or obvious. Listening to Melvins made me rethink the way I think about music, challenged my perception of logical sound flow, dared me to push the envelope on what I thought I already knew (or was confused by) in music. This album really should come with a condom . . . the raping that my mind took has me in living in fear on how I will listen to the next album submissions.

“The Water Glass” kicks off with a ballsy, detuned guitar riff . . . all sludge-y and fat, oppressive and overwhelming . . . but it’s not the tonal quality that makes me rethink what I thought I already knew. No . . . no, that would be coming from the odd time signature of the riff and how the flourishes that drums add to the mix. Then, the washes of feedback bathe my ears in waves of septic brilliance, drenching my audio receptors with dense and sticky sound.  All of this happening within the first minute and half before seamlessly shifting into a wild high school marching band tirade of beats and vocal chants. Are you kidding me with this?!?!? In-freaking-sane! Leave it to Melvins to push music to the fringes of reality! The majority of this tune is bereft of any instruments outside of the drums and vocals, yet it remains one of the heaviest tracks that have assaulted my headset in months. What any of this has to do with a water glass is beyond, but I’m okay with that. I like the mystery. It gives me something to come back to during those future listens when I need to have my mind impregnated by fresh ideas.

“Evil New War God” is another burly, dense onslaught of sludge toned guitars . . . all playing this massive riff that doesn’t make logical sense to me. Just go with the flow, friends, and the happy conclusion will show itself in time. Listen for the majestic ball crushing riff at the 1:38 mark. Crom! That’s the kind of sludgery that makes me think of St. Vitus. A massive wall of distortion with the capability of deflecting the blast from a nuclear bomb. Note the little flourish of cowbell that these guys mix in there. Awesome! And the vocals . . . again, the sinister quality and paranoid menace permeates from between the flurry of dense notes that barrage the listener. And just to make sure you’re paying attention, the band drop this beast of a tune down to a quasi-jazz beat, cymbal ride, and soft bass drum pattern, before the eerie keyboards add some texture. This entire composition has more in common with jazz than hardcore or punk or metal or whatever genre people lump Melvins in these days. Absolutely spectacular song!

The Bride Screamed Murder is a roller coaster ride for certain, but Melvins have created a thrill ride that’s more than just senseless left turns and corkscrew loops. They’ve composed an epic listen by weaving bizarre nuances in between solid riffs and straight forward ass kicking. “Electric Flower” is one such song as it incorporates a pseudo- surf vibe with a five finger formed fist and a crushing blow to the bridge of the nose. Mixed in all of this chaos, the band still works in portions of magnificent musical performances that highlight the individualism of the musicians at hand. These guys have one of the busiest drummers in all the land. Tons of rolls, little cymbal flourishes, crazy fills that defy reason . . . simply mad! Listen for the guitar solo as it cuts through the din of frenetic chaos with a touch of class. So much going, so much emotion, so much sonic violence . . . and all within three and a half minutes.

Then, as it should come as no surprise, the band throws in a psychedelic track in “Hospital Up,” filled with weaving and shimmering guitar lines, all of it making me feel like I’m bathing in a lava lamp. The guitar tones aren’t as dense as some of their more straight forward rockers and heavy tunes, but there’s still an imposing vibe fluttering throughout all of the music. The vocals have a gritty crooning quality to them, almost reminding me of moments from Farflung (fantastic psychedelic stoner doom band) and I’m digging how the nuance within the voice conveys an element of manic paranoia. Again, the band work well together to create a song that would fall to pieces if it were performed by any other group of musicians. The individualistic qualities of the players shines on and I go back to my earlier ascertainment that Melvins are more of a jazz band than anything else. Hell . . . listen to the end of the tune when all hell is breaking loose. The keys . . . the bass . . . the horns . . . jazz.

Finally, strap your asses in and assume a crash position. “Inhumanity and Death” is a hundred mile an hour death trip down a winding one lane deer path through oncoming traffic. Don’t look up, just pray that you’ll make it to the bottom of the hill in one piece . . . and alive. The opening bass line and subsequent vocal scream is enough to fill the most seasoned thrill seeker with terror, and as the song careens to its conclusion, there will undoubtedly be soiled shorts amongst the riders. I stink now, but I’m smiling . . . and I’m happy.

Dudes . . . and Dudettes . . . I simply love The Bride Screamed Murder. I can’t tell you if Melvins as a whole area good band, but based on this album alone, I’d call them gods. The musicianship is insane and the musical perspective is refreshing. I don’t suggest diving into this one head first without any previous understanding of what these guys are about. Busy yourself with something on your initial listen to familiarize yourself with the aural assault that is wrapped up in this disc before completely immersing yourself in the music. Once you do go back to giving it your full attention, it won’t hurt as much . . . well, at least, it shouldn’t. The Bride Screamed Murder is a brilliant execution of avant jazz metal that will surprise you every time you listen to it.  -  Pope

buy here: Bride Screamed Murder

Sunday, July 25, 2010

BoA - Game

BoA is, and has become, a legend - in more ways that one. She's a legend in Korea because when she debuted she was a hit - a singing-dancing machine and LSM's favorite trainee, how could she not be? Then she went into the Japanese industry and actually succeeded - BoA is a name in Japan, not just some random word that sounds like a snake. But because of her success in Japan, she's kind of neglected her Korean career - she's a legend because she's only talked about in Korea, never heard or seen.

Well, now she's back. And obviously I have to say my piece on this new single. I had very high hopes for it, mainly because I just called Identity one of the best albums I've heard in a long time.

Frankly? I'm not impressed.

I first heard the song Saturday at around 11PM - I was a little out of it and wasn't really thinking properly, but I knew I didn't like it already. When I listened to it again Sunday morning, it finally hit me why I don't like the song - it sounds like Ice Cream, off f(x)'s first mini-album. Seriously. I may not like it, but I've heard it a good number of times to be able to say that. Turns out, the same guy wrote it - I had my hunches, and they were confirmed.

I'm quite angry, actually.

I thought BoA was supposed to be this "high-priority" artist - she gets all the best songs and best this and best that. Right? But then she gets a song that's around 70% the same as a song by this girl group with two singles and one mini-album to their name. Isn't that a little insulting? For both BoA and f(x), actually. What, he was testing if that sound would work and needed a bunch of testing subjects, so he got f(x)? Then when he thought it worked, he gave BoA a similar song? Puh-lease.

Well that just boils down to the fact that BoA's manufactured, wherever she goes - she definitely doesn't sound like this in Japan. And she better not.

She did pull it off much better than f(x), but that's not the point - the feel, the actual structure of the songs and even the talking during the verses are almost exactly the same. I don't care if it's written by the same guy - is that all he can do? (OK that's not the only thing he can do because he wrote Abracadabra too, but it's a rhetorical question!) And don't give me the "oh but the lyrics and the meaning of the songs are different!," because that has absolutely nothing to do with the music.

Ice Cream wasn't a song I particularly liked, but I do have to admit that I'm a bit drawn to Game, one way or another. If BoA didn't have a certain spunk and sophistication to her, I wouldn't like the song, but she does so I do. A bit.

Without comparisons, the song is rather sophisticated-ish. It's got a crisp kind of spunk with a tiny pinch of sophistication - mainly because of BoA's vocals. It's catchy in it's own way, and like most SME songs, it has impeccable production, no matter how sub-par the song is. I like the trumpets throughout, reminds me of my beloved Bump Bump! (LOL!), and it's one of the few elements in the actual song/arrangement that set it apart from the f(x) track. And I do like how it just ends - it's like one second she's singing and then BAM, the song's done.

Just like how this review is. LOL.

3.9/5 (the only reason why this got a rating like that is because I kinda like it)

[July 25, 2010] SBS Inkigayo Highlights + Commentary

I'VE FINALLY COMPLETED ANOTHER WEEKEND OF RECAPS! *pops confetti* Let's finish things off with Inkigayo, and yes, Taeyang won again, SHINee made their comeback, and Super Junior finished off promo for Bonamana (the album).

Video credit: CrazyCarrot350 :D

G.NA - I'll Back Off So You Can Live (review)
I just noticed today, but she looks so uncomfortable on stage. Seriously, it's like she's about to cry, not because of her song, but because she hates being on stage - she moves, and looks, like a robot. I know she must love performing to be in the industry and be a trainee for as long as she has been, but it clearly doesn't show and if it doesn't show, that means her performances are once again ineffective. Seriously, it's like the entire performance perked up when Doojoon came on, and then went back to zero when he left. She should be able to carry herself on her own, but it doesn't look like she can. I hope I can add a "yet" after that.

Teen Top - Clap
Teen Top looks very sophisticated and practiced and all, but until I hear more than two guys singing on a lead single, I think they'll be a cross between Infinite and MBLAQ. They're trying too hard to look good on stage, but there are guys in the group who can sing, it just doesn't really show, even if their material is somewhat decent. They have to prove me wrong on that one, somehow.

Miss A - Bad Girl Good Girl
Ouch. What happened to pink-haired girl towards the end? Completely stopped singing for like 2 seconds. I don't know if I should be disappointed or feel bad for them - I know a lot of people have said the routine's hard plus they're singing live, which makes it especially hard. But then they pretty much pulled it off yesterday, which means it's humanely possible to sing and dance that thing at the same time. Oh well. Although now that they've proven they can sing, dance and literally do gymnastics, I think it's time for a better song, don't you, JYP? LOL.

Sistar - Push Push (review)
Just... no. Next single, please. And next time make it a little tasteful, please?

ZE:A - Level Up
Ugh. Next song, please.

Black Pearl - Gogossing
Seeing these girls just make me miss CSJH even more. Seriously, I miss girl groups with actual vocals, who actually make use of them. Another consistent performance - and the even stronger harmonies today just sent be ballistic. I'M IN LOVE WITH THOSE HARMONIES. lol.

SHINee - Up & Down + Lucifer (review)
It's good to know that some people agree with me when I say Jonghyun's live singing is getting a tad bit too excessive. He was just a big, slightly wild voice before, and it was just a matter of taste that I didn't like his vocals, but now it's like he's like how he should've been when they just debuted - running before even attempting to walk. He's trying to do all these ad-libs and high notes all over the place, and because he's not really sure whether he can sing it or not, he fails several times. But when he's sure of what he's singing, he actually sounds good. Even with Jonghyun going wild today and SBS' most of the time crap sound, I do think that this was the best performance out of the three - if we're talking about performance as a whole. Onew was phenomenal to say the least, Taemin and Key sounded good, Minho was... Minho, and Jonghyun had his good points.

Son Dambi - Queen
For Son Dambi vocal standards, today's performance was pretty good, actually. Not as good as I'd like it to be, but good enough. In Filipino, pwede na. She does carry herself well and command the audience, so I'm OK.

Super Junior - No Other + Bonamana
Well, it seems like their rather impeccable performance yesterday was just luck - and we're back to having not very strong vocals. If my "calculations" are correct, this is the last ever promo performance of both songs - it's a pity they didn't make it phenomenal. Oh well, I guess I'll just go watch yesterday's brilliance.

Taeyang - I Need A Girl (WINNER)
It's been a while since I last recap-ed a Taeyang performance, but I'm afraid my opinion hasn't changed - don't like him, the song, and the way he performs it. I'm sorry. But I wouldn't go as far as saying he doesn't deserve his win, because he's definitely better than a handful of other idols. So yeah.

A Sunday Conversation with Modern Day Moonshine

Modern Day Moonshine was one of the bands that made us put our money where our mouths are.  After hearing their self-titled EP, Modern Day Moonshine, we were so impressed with their laid back, yet passionate take on an Allman Brothers mixed with Crosby, Stills, Nash, meets Neil Young, crossed with The Meters vibe, that we just had to go ahead and make them one of the first acts signed to the nascent Ripple Music Label.  With a dynamite new album coming later this year, we couldn't miss out on the chance to have the gents, Todd (guitar/vocals), Brendan (bass) and David (drums) pop on over to the Ripple Office and share their thoughts.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

T:  Hendrix mix tape that I got when I was 19.  Pink Floyd mix tape too. "Flamenco Sketches" by Miles Davis soon after that.

D:  G n' R Appetite at 10.  Hendrix Band of Gypsys at 23.  Neil Young live at Massey Hall '71 when I was 27.

B:  "Stand by Me" soundtrack at 8.  Zeppelin II at 12.  Spinal Tap at 25.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

T:  Its a crapshoot. Most of the time its the chord progression first. Maybe a third of the time its built around the lyrics.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

T:  Purity of nature and the flaws of society.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

B:  An organized freak out of songs with soul.  A drunken pontoon boat tour of the 60's and 70's.

What is your musical intention? What are you trying to express or get
> your audience to feel?

T:  Social and self awareness.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

T:  Its all organic.  Shouldn't be contrived.  Its just gotta hit your core somehow.

D:  I've been in bands where we would pine over this kind of thing.  This band?  Not so much.  Its about the feel and whatever the tune calls for.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

D:  We stay motivated by doing the same thing we've always done:  Playing tunes.  Gigging has always been our MO, and I think tha'ts what the business is reverting back to again.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

D:  Getting lost on on the way back to San Diego after a gig in Mexico. Watching a 45 minute trip turn into a 4 1/2 hour trek through the finer points of the Baja Peninsula while being hungover in the cab of a pickup
truck.  We turned around when we passed the donkey pulling the produce cart.

T:  Playing a gig in Palm Springs and then heading to Joshua Tree afterwards with a bottle of whiskey.  Staying up til 5 am.  Then waking up at 8 am to 100 degree heat with no water.  Then driving 3 hours back to
San Diego to play 2 gigs that same night with super glue holding my fingers together after a late night hiking "incident."

B:  Having the guitarist from Tesla come up to me at a gig and say "Don't let this happen to you."  Apparently he was homeless or something.

What makes a great song?

B:  It doesn't suck.

T:  You tell me.

D:  Its 30+ years old.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

T:  (loooooong pause):  200 songs later, I honestly don't remember. (Longer pause)  I do remember writing a Ricky Nelson style song when I was eight.  My dad showed me my first guitar chords.  And happened to be a fan.  Incidentally, the first song he ever taught me was "House of the Rising Sun."

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

T:  All of them.  Always most proud of the newest one.

D:  Any of them.  And any off-the-cuff improv jams that we have come up with.

B:  "Robots Marching."

Who today, writes great songs? Why?

MDM: Wilco, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Radiohead.  All of them are and always have been original.  That and they all continue to evolve.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

D:  Each one has its place.  Love the sound of vinyl.  Love being able to download on iTunes (and have it effortlessly charge a soon to be maxed out credit card).  CD's for driving.  Still waiting for cassettes to make a
long overdue comeback.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music.  When we come to your town, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

T:  I only go to the woods.

D & B:  Amoeba (SF or Berkeley) has just about everything.  Good vinyl selection too.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

B:  "Don't change.  Have a great summer"

T:  "Clock's tickin'.  Do somethin'!"

D:  "Look up "Creed Shreds 3" on YouTube"


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Saturday, July 24, 2010

[July 24, 2010] MBC Music Core Highlights + Commentary

I'll just get this out as fast as humanely possible - I have a BoA review to write! And most likely I'll be home late again tonight, so my Inki recap will come late too. Video credit for today's recap goes to CrazyCarrot250. Always brilliant. LOL.

G.NA - I'll Back Off So You Can Live (review)
She sounded off at the beginning, but thankfully by the second verse she was the way she always was. HyunA's part was a little boring, I prefer the guy from BEAST. This girl seriously needs to learn how to carry herself on stage like a performer. Not a diva or a "rookie", a performer. They're pushing her as an outstandingly good artist, her skills as a performer should match her vocals.

Girls' Day - Tilt Your Head
To be fair, their vocals improved today, however much they can given the crap song. And honestly, I do think they have more sophistication than SISTAR. But they still suck, sorry.

Miss A - Bad Girl Good Girl
Well that's more like it! All they had to do to get the breathlessness out was win two awards. LOL. They must've been really nervous before they won that now that they have, they're doing pretty darn good. I still don't like the song as much as I'd like to, but out of all the groups who've recently debuted, I'd say they're by far the best. No question.

Infinite - Come Back Again
They were getting better the last few times we saw them, but they just stopped for a few shows and suddenly they suck again? For some strange reason, they kinda remind me of ZE:A back when they were really new. Towards the tail end, the vocals started getting better - but that was for like 10 seconds. Not impressed.

Sistar - Push Push (review)
Holy crap what the hell happened to tutu girl's tutu? IT JUST GOT BIGGER. lol. But anyway, what use is a single if only one of the 4 girls can sing it? I'm now sure that more than one of them can actually sing, but not on this song. Even if that song they did for the video game soundtrack was a little generic, I'd rather they promote it than this.

ZE:A - Level Up
Their vocals are getting better, yes, but their improvement's getting masked by the fact that the song is pathetic. Sorry guys, try again.

MBLAQ - One Better Day
The only part I like is the piano line at the beginning before they start singing - that says a lot about them and how they perform. Like I always say, if all they really do on stage is look good and maybe dance together, then why be idols who're supposed to make songs? Form a dance group for all I care, but if you can't sing why push it? Seriously.

4Minute - I My Me Mine
I don't know exactly why, but they kinda lost their punch on this performance. I mean technically their vocals were strong and they carried themselves, but the punch they had when I said I was starting to like them suddenly disappeared. I wonder what's wrong.

Black Pearl - Gogossing
Have I publicly professed my love for Black Pearl yet? I will now. Except for the girl with the thing in her hair, they have gorgeous voices. And I mean gorgeous. Harmonies on music shows, strong vocals and a nice perky (but sometimes cheap) song - what more can I ask for? HARMONIES PEOPLE, HARMONIES.

SHINee - Up & Down + Lucifer (review)
ONEW YOU ARE BRILLIANT. Jonghyun has a tendency to go wild when he sings live and sometimes fails, almost like Mark Westlife, but Onew, onew just nails it. But, I do think that this sounds better recorded - I was listening to the recording all day yesterday and I can't get enough. Like seriously, I'm itching to hear it every few seconds. This is bad. The performances are good, strong, and there's no question that these guys are performers, but I'd have to go with the recording on this.

Son Dambi - Queen
I don't like the song as much as I did when I first heard it (before I saw the videos and performances), but she is getting better at performing it. Like I said, Pledis makes performers, not necessarily singers, but at least they're better than MBLAQ because they're not just trying to look good on stage - they're trying to entertain. And besides, Queen is a song this girl can most likely pull off brilliantly if she tries hard enough - it's not out of the range of her abilities.

Super Junior - No Other + Bonamana
Actually, that was pretty good. Except for a few slips here and there, it's kinda said that they only really got the hang of things when they're ending promo. The vocals were strong, the performance was tight, and I "enjoyed" it. LOL. I really did.