Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ripple Music to Invade Europe for the Festival Season; Trucker Diablo, Grifter, and Stone Axe set to Lay Waste to a Town Near You



Building upon a year that found Ripple Music garnering accolades across the board and album of the year releases by Grifter,Iron Claw, and Trucker Diablo, Ripple is about to invade the European festivals headlong and bring their hard-driving rock attack to the masses.

Following their critically praised Ripple release, The Devil Rhythm, Trucker Diablo have their eyes set firmly on making an impact this year. Having already blown away those in attendance at 2011’s Download Festival then playing sold out shows in UK/Ireland with Black Stone Cherry, the boys will be steaming the big truck headlong into Hammerfest IV to share a stage with Anthrax and Skindred, as well as play with Skindred when the band rocks Belfast. With “Drink Beer, Destroy!” now blasting out across Kerrang T.V. and radio, bigger things are coming. Soon, everyone will know the band that Def Leppard's Joe Elliot has called "absolutely awesome stuff!" Look for Trucker appearing at Hammerfest on March 16th, the day that Anthrax headlines the bill.

Not to be outdone, Plymouth's Grifter plan to follow up on their collection of “Top 10 albums of 2011” awards by taking their fired-up, whiskey rock on the road, dropping into Desertfest (April 6th to 8th) where they share the stage with Orange Goblin, Karma to Burn, and similar-minded retro-rockers, Gentleman’s Pistols. This follows Grifter’s recent UK dates supporting Orange Goblin and will lead them right into the notorious Freak Valley Festival in Netphen, Germany on May 18th/19th with Colour Haze, My Sleeping Karma, Gentlemans Pistols, and Lonely Camel. Look for a new single and more material to come from the UK lads soon.

And while you’re at Desertfest, losing your mind in the psychedelic haze, be sure to catch Ripple stalwarts,Stone Axe. The band will be kicking off the Desert-festivities as Stone Free, playing a free set of Free cover tunes on the opening day of the festival, and following that up with their high-octane, no holds barred rock show that’s quickly becoming legendary. Touring Europe to support their Ripple release Stone Axe II: Deluxe Edition 2 CD package, as well as Stone Axe: Captured Live at Roadburn 2011 CD/LP package, Stone Axe is looking to decimate the countryside with tour mates, Stubb and Trippy Wicked.

All in all, it’s looking like a great year for authentic, hard-driving rock ‘n roll.

Trucker Diablo's The Devil Rhythm, Grifter's self-titled debut, and Stone Axe I and II Deluxe edition CD's are available world-wide through Code 7, Clearspot, and the Ripple-Music store. If you haven't heard these albums yet, let us know. Promo copies are still available and the bands are always available for interview or articles. Just ask.

Mario Lanza - Mario Lanza Icons Boxset



Goosebumps cover my body every time I hear his voice. He is the only singer who has ever made me cry when I hear him sing. Arguably one of the greatest singers the world has ever known, very few fondly remember him today outside of certain music circles. I’m talking about Mario Lanza, one of the most talented tenors to ever live. Arturo Toscanini, one of the most acclaimed conductors of all time and best known as the music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, dubbed Mario Lanza the “Voice of the Century” and that’s no understatement.

Famed tenors and opera stars Jose Carreras, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti (also known as The Three Tenors), and Andrea Bocelli have been inspired by Mario Lanza and cite him as a major influence. Much like Kenneth Branagh portraying Sir Laurence Oliver in the critically acclaimed film My Week With Marilyn, Mario Lanza was fortunate to also portray his idol, Enrico Caruso in the 1951 film The Great Caruso. I bring this up for two reasons: 1) The movie is a superb biopic showcasing one of the greatest tenors of all time in an entertaining (although fictionalized) film about another well regarded singer and 2) The Great Caruso inspired me to write this review.

The day before I started writing this review, it was my father’s birthday. As long as I can remember, my father has adored Mario Lanza and considers him the greatest singer of all time (something I eventually came to concur upon my own). For the longest time, I resented my father because whenever he plays Mario Lanza, he blasts the music so loud it’s almost unbearable. No, my father isn’t deaf, but adores Mario Lanza so much that he wants the whole world to enjoy Mario’s sweet voice. Needless to say, Mario Lanza has been a large part of my life. There is one Christmas album by Mario Lanza that for the past 20 years my dad has traditionally played it almost non-stop during the holidays. Besides my parents, Mario Lanza has been a constant in my life.

As I grew older, my appreciation for Mario Lanza broadened. No matter how much I detested hearing Lanza’s loud voice, it was one of the most magnificent marvels I have ever heard. I am truly spoiled! Only recently did I accept that when a fellow co-worker stared at me blank face as I discussed classic literature, film and music. Initially I couldn’t comprehend my colleague’s plight. Then it dawned on me that my parents have exposed me to a wide variety of culture, which is the principal reason why I’m writing this review. There is nothing wrong with remaining “sheltered” by appreciating only certain culture offered your way. But I have always been someone that embraced both “lowbrow” and “highbrow” entertainment. Being outside my comfort zone is not noteworthy because I take pleasure in new discoveries.

Like I mentioned earlier, Turner Classic Movies recently showcased the film The Great Caruso starring Mario Lanza.  A most entertaining biopic, I felt it was too much of a coincidence for the movie to be playing a day after my father’s birthday. Speculate all you want, but I believe in fate. What are the odds that The Great Caruso would play around my father’s birthday? As luck would have it, Mario Lanza’s birthday was only a few weeks away, which coincidentally is today- January 31st. If Mario Lanza were still alive, he would have turned 91 today. Armed with all this information, I decided, nay, felt obligated and even compelled to write this review.

Let me be honest here. I do not consider myself an expert in any area. I am not a scholar or specialist on any subject, but a passionate enthusiast who has an eclectic taste in entertainment and life. Hopefully, my passion resonates with certain readers and connects them to music that also sparks their interest. My goal in writing this review is for someone to read this and feel compelled, even intrigued to discover Mario Lanza. If that happens, I will then consider this article a success. Plácido Domingo, one of the most prominent tenors of all time, described Mario Lanza as "one of the truly great, natural tenor voices of the past century—a voice of beauty, passion, and power." Simply put, Mario Lanza’s influence, magnetism and mastery were one of the greatest gifts the world has ever known.

Therefore, I present Mario Lanza Icons, a 4 CD boxset comprised of 61 classic Mario Lanza songs that will keep you entertained and enthralled for almost 3 ½ hours. This Sony Music import contains classic screen songs, top pop hits and old Neapolitan music. For fans familiar or for those just discovering Mario Lanza, this Mario Lanza Icons boxset uncovers the magnificent man who has been referred to as the “Northern Lights in a Throat.” This collection includes songs from his hit films The Toast of New Orleans (1950), The Great Caruso (1951), Because You’re Mine (1952), and The Student Prince (1954).

“Be My Love,” the Academy Award nominated best song from The Toast of New Orleans (1950), was a #1 Billboard hit that sold over a million copies and remains an excellent song to initiate this collection. Listen to the wonderful lyrics by four time Academy Award winner Sammy Cahn: “Be my love, for no one else can end this yearning/ This need that you and you alone create/ Just fill my arms the way you've filled my dreams/ The dreams that you inspire with ev'ry sweet desire / Be my love, and with your kisses set me burning/ One kiss is all I need to seal my fate.”  Accompanied by Lanza’s gorgeous voices, it’s no surprise this song stunned audiences over 60 years ago.

Mario Lanza’s rendition of “Drink, Drink, Drink” from the 1924 operetta, The Student Prince was popularized in the 1954 movie. “Drink, Drink, Drink” completely holds up and can be deemed mainstream accessible. I absolutely adore the opening lyrics: “Eins, zwei, drei, vier/ Lift your stein and drink your beer/ Eins, zwei, drei, vier/ Lift your stein and drink your beer/ Drink! Drink! Drink! / To eyes that are bright as stars when they're shining on me! / Drink! Drink! Drink! / To lips that are red and sweet as the fruit on the tree!”

However, my all time favorite song by Mario Lanza is the third song featured on the first CD, “La Donna è Mobile,” a canzone from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a canzone is “a lyric 13th-century Italian or Provençal poetic form” and “a polyphonic song form evolving from of poetry and resembling the madrigal in style.” Although the English translation means “Woman is Fickle,” it’s actually an ironic song about the playboy Duke of Mantua being inconsistent with what he wants. “La Donna è Mobile” lingers as a renowned showcase for tenors to demonstrate their vocal range. Thanks principally to the music and lyrics, the song has endured extremely catchy since its inception in 1851. Frequently referenced and sung in pop culture, audiences have enjoyed “La Donna è Mobile”  most noticeably on hit TV shows like Futurama, M*A*S*H, Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and South Park.

“La Donna è Mobile” is so well known that I would be surprised if most readers haven’t heard a version of this song. Anyone can hum it. I must admit that it’s extremely addicting once you start. Hands down, Mario Lanza’s version of “La Donna è Mobile” persists as the best I have ever heard. And I have listened to the Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and even Enrico Caruso’s versions. There are two versions featured in this boxset: one on CD 1 and the other on CD 4. Both stand really good, but I believe the version featured in the film The Great Caruso might be the best! Mario Lanza emphasized each lyric, which leaps right out of his mouth and into your heart. Many years ago I first heard “La Donna è Mobile” and I knew I had truly listened to one of the finest and foremost voices ever. When asked about his singing, Mario Lanza famously remarked, “I sing each word as though it were my last on earth.” There’s no doubt in my mind about how much passion this man possessed.

The Irish ballad “Danny Boy,” an amiable composition added to this collection, provides ample variety. The Academy Award nominated song (by the music and lyrics team Sammy Cohn and Nicholas Brodszky) “Because You’re Mine,” from the hit musical of the same name, was Mario Lanza’s last million selling single and another distinguished song worth enjoying. From The Great Caruso, “The Loveliest Night of the Year” illustrates why Mario Lanza was frequently compared to his idol Enrico Caruso. The brilliant, bold selection “The Donkey Serenade” from the Firefly operetta is an absolutely amazing version worth checking out with the opening lyrics as follows:

“There's a song in the air/ But the fair senorita doesn't seem to care/ For the song in the air. / So, I'll sing to the mule/ If you're sure she won't think that I am just a fool/ Serenading a mule. Amigo mio, does she not have a dainty bray?/ She listens carefully to each little tune you play./ Si, si, mi muchachito,/ She'd love to sing it too if only she knew the way./ But try as she may, in her voice there's a flaw/ And all that the lady can say/ Is hee-haw-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w/ Senorita, donkey's feet are/ Not so fleet as a mosquito/ But so sweet like my Chiquita/ You're the one for me!”

The best and most notable Neapolitan songs, “Funiculì, Funiculà" composed by Italian writer Peppino Turco and Italian composer Luigi Denza, comes to life in this captivating, charismatic composition. Mario Lanza was the single, perfect voice to bring this beautiful, bold song to its true energy and essence. Comprised of a now famous melody, the tantalizing rhythm is genuinely enhanced by this Italian version sung by Mario Lanza. An English version was made popular during the 1950s, but Mario’s Italian rendition remains far superior for those who understand and/or can appreciate Italian. Nothing gets better than this glorious masterpiece.

With hit songs from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s with "If I Loved You" and “You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical Carousel, the Italian Calypso “There’s Gonna Be A Party Tonight,” Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “With A Song In My Heart” (from the musical Spring is Here), Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “All The Things You Are” (from the musical Very Warm for May), the Neapolitan "La Danza" by Gioachino Rossini, and so much more, Mario Lanza Icons is a must-own for music buffs.

Thanks to movies like Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures (starring Academy Award winner Kate Winslet and the delightful Melanie Lynskey), which significantly featured Mario Lanza’s music and image, plus various pop culture references, Mario Lanza has remained relevant, but, in the opinion of this writer, not as much as he truly deserves. When Mario Lanza died on October 7, 1959, at age 38, the world lost a great treasure. As many commentators have pointed out, there will never be another Mario Lanza again.

"I sing from the heart... I sing the words of a song and really feel them, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes... I sing as though my life depends on it, and if I ever stop doing that then I'll stop living," concluded Mario Lanza

--Mr Brownstone



Monday, January 30, 2012

Protometal Report - Illinois Speed Press - S/T

Illinois Speed Press  - Illinois Speed Press  - front cover


Man, sometimes you find the craziest things.

OK, stay with me on this one.  I’d been on a tear recently, trying to get all my vinyl cataloged into a mobile database so I know what I have, what I don’t have, and hopefully stop buying so many doubles (unlikely). So there I was, somewhere in the "I" section, entering data, when I came across some record I’d never seen before.  I mean NEVER.  Not something I’d ever bought (or remembered anyways), nothing I'd ever touched or even laid my eyes on.  The record didn’t even have a cover, it just came in a slick printed inner sleeve showing some bearded guys looking rather disco with balloons.  To this day, I have no idea who those guys are, because that wasn’t the album inside.

I tossed the record to the side, figuring I’d put it on for a quick listen then throw it in the trash, but when I pulled the record out, it wasn’t the disco dudes on the record, but some other band called Illinois Speed Press.  Fine.  Never heard of em.  Still don’t know where this came from or how it managed to occupy valuable shelf space in my collection.  Regardless, I dropped it onto the turntable and the opening song “Overture” started playing.  And it was a mess.  Some random chaotic noise masquerading as music being clever.  One of the things I hate about some psychedelic rock is people so stoned they think they’re being clever.   Still, I wasn't impressed and I honestly don’t even know why I let the needle play onto the next cut.

But man, am I glad I did.

Holy crap! What’s this?  Heavy shit came roaring out of the speakers.  And I mean heavy!  Huge fuzzed-out guitar licks over a thunderous bass and smashing drum kit.  Searing dual guitar leads tear through the riffs like electric fire while a downright soulful voice brings it all home.  This song grabbed me by the ear and refused to let me walk out of the room.  “Get in the Wind” is the song and it’s a killer early protometal assault of distorted blues riffs and a mean and nasty attitude.  Ok, now the band had my attention. 

A little research turned out to be eye opening.  Turns out the album was the 1969 debut album from Chicago-based power rockers, Illinois Speed Press, a band that made huge waves on the local scene in the late ‘60’s, finally signing to Columbia for this album and 1970’s, Duet.  After slogging away in obscurity for a spell, the band’s fortunes changed when they brought in the twin guitar attack of Alabama-born Paul Cotton and native Chicago-son Kal David.  Their twin guitar prowess combined with their resolutely disparate musical influences of David’s rock and R&B tendencies with Cotton’s more country-flavored tastes.  Toss this in with some very heavy, near-metal distorted blues and we got ourselves one powerful, unexpected winner of an album. 

This all comes to head with David’s “Hard Luck Story” an extended blues workout with crisscrossing leads of massive fuzz guitar fury.   This ain’t Zeppelin blues, this is fuzzed and heavy and scorching in a massive downtempo, near doomy vibe.   The descending main blues riff is so dark it’s nearly frightening.  And that lead guitar work.   It sears through the mix.   A definite treat.

The radical dynamic of the “other” pillar becomes clear on the next cut, Cotton’s “Here Today,” a rollicking country-rock number with a sing-along melody, some tasty acoustic guitar work, and a banjo?  These are roads Cotton would explore to a lifetime of success with his next band, Poco, where he stepped in to replace the recently-departed Jim Messina.  But before I make too much of the country-side of Cotton, it needs to be mentioned that he wrote the killer “Get in the Wind” which is as rock and heavy as the album gets. So the man knew how to rock also.  I understand that Poco later reworked that song in a much different, country-vibed version on a Poco album, but I haven't heard it.

But back to this album.  After the country-ish “Here Today,” the band blows the roof off with a massively fuzzed out R&B-blues rendition of keyboardist Mike Anthony’s, “Pay The Price.”  Again, another freak out of distorto-guitar madness over a raging beat.   Reminds me of the best of early-Neil Young’s blazing guitar work over Stills in Buffalo Springfield. Same kind of fuzzed out guitar tone.

And all that is just side one.  Side two had just as many surprises with Cotton’s Buffalo Springfield-flavored "P.N.S. (When You Come Around),  to Anthony’s pure rock freakouts “Be a Woman,” and “Beauty” and David’s tender “Sky Song” and not-so-tender Hendrix-ian “Free Ride.” 

Three songwriters, three totally different styles.  Yes, it makes for a slightly schizophrenic listen, but to my ears, it all hangs together remarkably well.  It also holds onto everything I dig so much about the 1969-1973 time period—all the rules were falling apart and bands could really stretch out, get heavy, bring it down, whatever.

Illinois Speed Press however couldn’t keep it together.  The creative tension that makes this debut such a cool listen couldn’t hang in balance.  Apparently, their second album Duet, takes on much more of the Paul Cotton country-rock leanings with David’s blues rock falling to the wayside then came the eventual split.  Cotton, as we already said, made his mark with Poco where he still plays.  Kal David went on to form the Fabulous Rhinestones with former Electric Flag bassist Harvey Brooks (an album I just found in the $1 bin) before he performed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

But I don’t know about all that.  All I know is that this album that I intended for a “quick listen” before tossing it into the trash has become one of my favorite "finds" so far this year.  I dig the contrast of styles, each one done to perfection, all meshed together.  The lighter (but no less intense) country-rock fusing right into the driving fuzzed out blues assault.  Early protometal mixed with a country flavor.  Cool stuff.  If you dig Buffalo Springfield, early fuzzy-protometal blues, or any of the bands I mentioned, you should look for this cool gem.

So cool that I had to go out and find another copy of the record just so I could get the album cover.  Found one on eBay for $6.

Can’t wait til it arrives and Illinois Speed Press can take its rightful place in my record collection.

Now all I have to do is figure out who in the hell those disco dudes with the balloons are.


--Racer





Sunday, January 29, 2012

After School - "Because Of You" (Japanese Version)

Shovel's Latest Finds - Treasures from the Underground, featuring Toad, Kaleidoscope, Six Dead Horses, Arbogast, and Enos

TOAD - Rotten Tide


A blistering set of short but very sweet heavy duty melodic tracks. Hard to put a label on this one but rest assured your ears will be happy. Shortly to be found supporting the mighty Graveyard, one to keep an eye on. Or an ear. Name your price @:


http://takeoveranddestroy.bandcamp.com/




Kaleidoscope - EP


Quality Australian Psych Stoner Rock. Very much in the classic desert sound, a DIY EP that will bring you back to the early days of K*uss. Great stuff, name your price @:


http://kaleidoscope1.bandcamp.com/album/kaleidoscope-ep



Six Dead Horses - Horn Tusk Antler


One of my favourite releases of recent years, the almighty behemoth that is Six Dead Horses. This record needs to be cranked to high heaven and the enormity of what is unfolding will only become apparent after a few listens. Please do yourself a favour and pick this one up. And its free @:

http://sixdeadhorses.bandcamp.com/



Arbogast – Arbogast


A trilogy of intense melodic songs which display fine dynamics, highly recommended. Loads of merchandise options but get down to the bottom of the page and you will find this gem for free. Name your price @:

http://arbogast.bandcamp.com/album/arbogast




Enos - Chapter 1


I recently saw these fine chaps supporting Wino and Premonition 13. I'm glad I did. Their first album, a space themed concept album is a great set of tracks which calls to mind noises from Pink Floyd to the aforementioned Wino. Free download @:

http://enosthechimp.bandcamp.com/


Doom on,


--Shovel

A Sunday Conversation with John Kirby



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?



About 10 years ago I was good friends with the brother of James Black,
guitarist for the bad Finger 11 | http://www.fingereleven.com/.
Playing in one of my first bands at the time and being a fan of the
band my friends asked me if I’d like to come to one of their shows in
town and hang out on the tour bus. Of course I said yes.

Now it wasn’t the luxury of being on the bus that struck me, it was
how cool everyone was and how this, touring around in this tour bus
playing kick ass music, was how they made a living. They were all down
to earth dudes, super friendly and just really laid back.  I already
loved writing music, but it wasn’t until I saw that and got to
experience it that I was really wowed by the whole thing. At least
from a career standpoint.


Musically, the first time I jammed with my father was a, now looking
back on it, epic moment in my life. Being the youngest of three kids
at the time, I was always doing what my older brother did. He played
baseball, I played baseball, he played guitar…well I had to play
something. I chose drums.  So one evening, my father, a former jazz
drummer, sat down with a guitar and had my brother and I accompany him
on the song, the actual track we did escapes me but my brother and I
had been in lessons learning our respective instruments and rarely if
ever heard our dad play and sing, let alone with us.


That, was a big moment for me.



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?


Lately, its been melody lines, or strings of words that just pop into
my head or I get ideas watching other bands, watching the news,
talking to people. Really anything can BE a song, but as far as how it
starts, its usually the melody…or just a drum beat in my head.



Who has influenced you the most?



It’s a loaded question because it really is a sum of its parts. My
father, my bands I’ve played in, the other bands I’ve played with,
random musicians I’ve met, producers I’ve worked with. Influence for
me is constantly evolving, so to say who MOST does, would be
subjective to the time you ask. So right now…I’ll say the most
influential thing is this new Mother Mother record I’m listening to
“Eureka” right now. They are an amazing band.



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


I typically get inspired by other artists, watching them play. I went
to see Dan Mangan play not too long ago here in Hamilton, ON and not
just his set but the openers, this three piece band from Wisconsin I
think called The Daredevil Christopher Wright. Just something about
them started the pistons firing in my music head, I wanted to leave
the show to start getting the ideas out.


In such a case I usually use my iPhone note recorder app to lay down a
subtly recorded melody I have ringing in my head.



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


I started calling it bedroom folk rock. This new EP, Into The Dark, is
more pop rock but nixing the labels as you said, its songs from my
bedroom. Songs you write in the place you sleep tend to have this
cathartic release, things that I can get off my chest, I can say to
help ease me into piece of mind.



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



This EP I think is just me standing bare about how I feel, at least at
the time and looking for some empathy. Maybe hoping for a “Yea I feel
like that too sometimes” moment.



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


I don’t know how Spinal Tappy it is but the most “Rockstar-ish” thing
I’ve done was run a massive bar tab and walk out on it. I was opening
for this band and playing bass for them when we arrived at a show only
to find that it was “double booked”. Thing was, it wasn’t double
booked and the promoter was trying to screw us out of a big guarantee
so he could book a DJ for less…which is what he did.

I was also tour managing at the time and this show was a huge lynchpin
in our budget, we needed it to make it to another gig and I was
seeeeething. So there I am yelling at the promoter and shouting at the
booking agent (who happened to be in the band I was playing for…and is
also my friend) he’s trying to calm me down, but I’m understandably
infuriated. The smugness of this fucker (promoter) drove me up the
wall.

I get told to go cool down outside and blow off some steam. So there I
am out in the mountains of BC hastily scrolling through my contacts on
my phone to find my Entertainment Lawyers number, thinking I can get
him to, I dunno, put a litigious scare into this asshole whose trying
to fuck not me, but our entire tour over…over what really was a tiny
amount of cash in the grand scheme.

My booking agent comes outside, said he’s worked out a deal with the
promoter…we won’t get paid what we were contracted for, but he’ll give
us free food, a place to stay (which was already in the original
contract) and an open bar tab.

I reply with something to the effect of, “Well the asshole knows you
can’t run a van off of alcohol, but open bar tab it is.”

I hussle back into the venue, blowing past the promoter who smugly
tries to apologize and head right up to the bar. “Four pints
please…and…hey! Does anyone want shots?” I look up and down the bar at
the patrons already there…they are perplexed. “Was he talking to me?”
they must think.

“All of you here, sitting at the bar, do you want shots, drinks are on me!”

A huge roar of approval sweeps over the bar…and from then on out I was
buying shots and beers for anyone and everyone, beers, four at a time
being handed out to everyone shots whenever I’d go back to order more
beer.

By the end of the night the tab was well beyond what our guarantee
was, so at the very least I felt slightly vindicated.


 What makes a great song?

Honesty…and a catchy chorus.


Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I began song writing in Grade 6. Back then they were silly songs about
girls, but now…I write silly songs about women.



What piece of your music are particularly proud of?


One of the first songs I did with my old band, First Time Fallen |
http://www.reverbnation.com/firsttimefallen. It’s called Through
Wicked And Wise and it was the first time I’d been so forth coming in
a song. The result was that anyone who was a fan of our band, loved
that song. It was the first time something I had written from the
heart and it worked. So I try to make that the goal of everything I
write now.



Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?


There is an artists based out of Toronto called Lindy who just floors
me. One hell of a guy and man, just a fantastic songwriter. The songs
are everything I want my songs to be. Nothing specific, just the
colour of them, the sense of feeling they can derive, I love it.



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


Know what? I’d love to get more cassettes. I’ve been told, and can’t
independently verify, that they have the best fidelity you can get. I
love vinyl too but on both counts I don’t have the machines or
catalogues to use either. My publicist and fellow musician Adam at
Auteur Research | http://auteurresearch.tumblr.com/  and sings of The
Rest | http://therestmusic.tumblr.com/  has records on every time I
meet him at his house and I love the warmth.

That being said, with the ease of use and vast amounts of access one
has to digital tunes, I’m mostly an Mp3 guy. Though I’m somewhat
fickle in my choices…I rarely if ever will listen to something at less
than 320kbps.

And digital is easier to throw around to people, not to mention from a
marketing standpoint, you can actually see whose listening to an album
and where. I don’t mean invasively, but if I put a record out and I
wanna know whose downloading it and from where, digital allows me that
ability. And for someone like me who relies very heavily on touring it
gives me a good indication as to where I should probably go.



Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice
I do love beer, but lately its been getting a bad wrap from my
subconscious. ..those damn carbonation bubbles really fuck up my
voice…I love scotch too…but I drink it so damn fast…I only prefer beer
in the sense of its actually consumption…at least the bubbles prevent
initial overdrinking. But I’ll take scotch. The sophisticated drunker.



We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What'syour home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?


Well I call Hamilton, ON home and though I’m not originally from
there, I do love Cheapies on King St. They always have tons of
stuff…but if you go to Burlington, ON, right next door to Hamilton,
there is this quaint little store called Looney Tunes on Brant St.
This older eccentric man has been running it for years, boxes stacked
to the ceilings. I doubt he knows all of what he has in there, but
it’s worth going in to test him.


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



I really have been digging these records (In all honesty I was
listening to them while doing this interview) but I suggest you
check’em out.


KIRBY _ INTO THE DARK_ FREE FOR THE FALL SEASON
 
>>> http://kirbysings.com/
>>> http://kirby.bandcamp.com/
>>> http://www.facebook.com/kirbymusic

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Virgin Steele - Age of Consent

 Age of Consent

Ah, eighties metal. Fun, fun stuff. Virgin Steele takes all that was good from the eighties metal pool and mixed it up to spit out a great record. They have screechy male vocals, indulgent guitar solos, and hard hitting songs. The styles fluctuate throughout the record, some sounding like Iron Maiden while the next song is thrashy like old school Metallica.

 In the first three seconds of the very first song on Virgin Steele's Age of Consent, I thought, "Wow." And not in a bad way, no not at all. I love eighties metal. You're looking at someone who would gladly rip their right arm off to see Motley Crue, or Van Halen in concert. I loved the sound, elements of classic British heavy metal meeting glam metal to make a great, great album.

The thing I can't get over is the vocals. Very Iron Maiden sounding. The levels that DeFeis reaches with his vocals would make Vince Neil turn green round the gills. From low Dio esque growls, to soaring Bruce Dickinson levels, it's just flabbergasting. The whole album was high energy, and made me want to run on top of a tour bus going down a highway at 90 miles per hour. It packs kick you in the face speed with guitars that'll leave you slack jawed. Go ahead, put on "Screaming For Vengeance." Yeah, now go pick up your jaw from the floor that you headbanged off.

I really just cannot say enough how much I loved "Age of Consent." It was fun, and heavy, and fits right in with classic Dio, Iron Maiden, even Aerosmith. This cd didn't leave my headphones for numerous days. I just freakin' loved it, okay?!

From the talented vocalist himself, David DeFeis describes Virgin Steele's sound as, "From a whisper to a scream, barbaric, romantic, bombastic, yet subtle, grandiose, yet earthy. A call, a shout, an invocation to Freedom and the continual awakening to the awareness that every moment of life is lived to its fullest potential. It is a force, a sacred quest which drives Virgin Steele on.“

Couldn't have said it better myself.


--Gorgeous Nightmare



Old Wives' Tale - Late Night Paraphernalia

Mini albums are certainly interesting. The more frequently I use the term, the further I enjoy saying “mini album.” Lately albums are becoming more difficult to define, both in size and genre. Late Night Paraphernalia by Old Wives’ Tale fits perfectly into that category. Don’t be fooled by this sophomore album containing only six songs, this genre bending effort is filled with enough energy to entertain you for a long time.

Consisting of Colombian-born and Miami-bred brothers Felipe & Jaime Valencia, Old Wives’ Tale is a music duo worth discovering. Their energetic “amphetamine” sound is reminiscent of bands like The Bravery and The Faint and their music has been featured on MTV’s Real World: Las Vegas and VH1’s Saddle Ranch.

Old Wives’ Tale self-proclaimed “amphetamine” rock sound is the perfect blend of alternative, indie and electro-rock essential for late night dancing and having a good time. The combination of sweet bass, synth vocals, and the genre-bending music makes Old Wives’ Tale absolutely addicting.

“Frenzy” is the first track of Late Night Paraphernalia. It’s an electro-rock song containing sweet guitar riffs and an infectious bass. Personally, I’m lost what they are even singing about, but I love the beats. “Josephine” is a solid rock song describing a guy who wants to be more than “friends with benefits” with a girl and contains an irresistible refrain, “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Ooooohhh” that is too difficult to resist.

“Josephine”

Let’s pretend that there is really nothing special here
We’ll just be lovers, no feelings dear
Yeah yeah, no feelings baby
Let’s not pretend this is love
Just wanna take you home
Let’s be fools seeing each other time and time again
Convinced that this will soon end
Oh I know that I should run away
I should stay away
But I can’t help it
I can’t help it
But I’m slowly thinking more about you girl
Probably more than you’ll ever know
But I can feel it
I can see it in you
I can feel it
I hate you for making me feel this good
Where this will go, we will never know
Oh baby, I’m addicted
Can’t get enough of you
I’m addicted

Oh I’m slowly falling for you
Can’t begin to control myself
If only I could say no to you my sweet Josephine
I’ve had long nights washing away your smell
But I wouldn’t have had it any other way
There’s nothing here for us to regret
Oh baby I gotta leave you
I gotta leave you
I have to quit you for good
In the past we’ve gotten over little things like this
I will pretend that you don’t exist
But I think I might have fallen
I might have fallen for you
Just like you’ve fallen for me too
Now I don’t know what to do with you
I’m hungry under your spell
If only I wouldn’t find traces of you Josephine
I’ll have to bid you farewell
Oh I’m slowly falling for you
Can’t begin to control myself
If only I could say no to you my sweet Josephine
I’ve had long nights washing away your smell

When I listen to the intro for “Stranger” I can’t help, but think of a certain Saturday Night Live skit. As Christopher Walken famously said on SNL, “I gotta have more cowbell!” Everyone wants more cowbell and to include it on this entertaining album seems just right.

“Momma Devil” begins with a southern bluegrass-style before breaking out into an awesome and accelerating classic rock song. The alternating tempos and steady drumming on this soulful song makes “Momma Devil” an interesting inclusion on this diverse album. It’s easily my favorite track on this entire album. At times I believe it could be the southern cousin of the track “Young Man” by Living Colour.

Hey pretty momma
BACK IN TOWN
Hunted by my sin again
BACK IN TOWN
Burn me with your fire
BACK IN TOWN
Fire
Dancing with the devil
I’m gonna pay the price
Pay the price
I’m gonna lose my baby now you’re
BACK IN TOWN

Hey pretty momma
BACK IN TOWN
Make me your true sinner now
BACK IN TOWN
Lord have mercy please
BACK IN TOWN
LORDI LORDI
Dancing with the devil
I’m gonna pay the price
I’m gonna lose my baby now
LOSE MY BABY NOW

Hey pretty momma have you had enough
Hey pretty momma wont you dance alone for me
You know you make me want to shout…

Pretty momma what ya doing?
You’ve already done wrong
Hey pretty momma
I don’t wanna dance and rumble

You start to say come on and play
You start to sway to get your way
You feel my hand, you’re wet again
Are you gonna dance or not?
Hey pretty momma wont dance around for me
You know you make me want to shout

Playing me again

Hey pretty momma have you had enough
Hey pretty momma wrap your legs around me wild thing

Hey pretty momma
Gonna pay the price
Crawling back to a cold bed at home
…lost my baby
The last two tracks are “Noise” and “Bliss,” which are two drastically different songs. “Noise” is more rock oriented while “Bliss” is an electro fushion song. Although the majority of the songs are primarily rock oriented, Late Night Paraphernalia contains tracks for almost every taste. Old Wives’ Tale uses simple rock structures, subtle vocal harmony and an interesting mix of instrumentation to create their own unique sound.

--Mr Brownstone

Friday, January 27, 2012

[MV Commentary] SNSD/Girls' Generation - "The Boys"

So all hell breaks loose when I make my lit major college friends, who are probably the farthest you can get from kpop fans, watch SNSD's "The Boys". But at least it makes for good entertainment! And a vlog while I can't type properly! ^_^

Cryptopsy - None So Vile

 None So Vile

Why is None So Vile, a 16-year-old release from Qubecois death metal outfit Cryptopsy, indispensible?

I will elucidate this in that most classic and festive of forms, the Christmas death metal recipe:

Ingredients:

1) Horrific and completely unintelligible harshed snarled bellowing from one Lord Worm, an insane(r) version of Lord Byron (who later left the band to become an English teacher);

2) Literate (i.e., clever and non-intelligence-insulting) lyrics, from same Worm's Lord (see Decibel's hall of fame entry piece for None So Vile, which include the gem that the lyrics are "The most artful use of the death growl ever put on record");

3) Drums as athletic and goddamn impossible to even air-play play as Zbigniew Robert Promiński's hits from Behemoth's Evangelion (fuckin' A, Flo Mounier!);

4) Pristine, high-gain guitar tone that's still detuned (all the way to B, a fifth below standard tuning), but with a tone and agility that sounds nearly thrashy in the intricacy of the riffs;

5) AND-- liberally put fucking slap bass in it! Slap bass that serves the music and not just the bassist! And doesn't sound like Infectious Grooves!

Directions:

Leave out in sun to rot. Periodically huff putrescent fumes.

Serving Recommendation:

None So Vile
, and death metal in general, "works" or doesn't for the same reasons black metal does: when successfully composed, the music becomes the sonic embodiment of fury-- pure rage, that, for whatever reason, has risen up and now manifests itself physically, like some invisible God of Vengeance.

Death metal isn't about Riffs (though there are a few really good ones here; see below); doom, stoner and sludge metal do those best. Pure, adamantine death metal is about fluid, furious drums backing guitars tuned so low they detonate Richter scales, and which still manage to pale in comparison to the presumably-Satanically-Behemoth'ed, only-through-the-lungs-of-hell vocal sounds emerging glacially slowly, grudgingly, from the underworld that is the distorted voice box of the band's vocalist.

This is that death metal.

Best tracks:

"Graves of the Fathers," which at 1:15 drops this sweet pinch harmonic-based riff with a great drum lick under it, and at 2:15 drops into a fantabulous open B riff and at 3:30 cums some brilliant blast beats;

"Dead and Dripping," pure blurred Picasso-using-blood-as-medium chaos, with a beautiful sweep-picked solo at 1:50, which heralds the actual slowing of the tune into a stupid-good riff at 2:06, and another pure hell scream at 2:41;

"Benedictine Convulsions," which at 3:35 spooges one fantastic lurching drunken riff;

"Phobophile," which starts with a piano interude that sounds like something sweet from an 1980s boy band single-- and which then keeps swaying in and out of tune, as if the Baphomet were clutching vilely and violently at Jordan Knight and company-- it wavers, somehow sadistically and psychedelically, in and out of key... until it then hits, predictably enough, at 0:50 with drums and bass and a deathened shriek-- but what you can't predict is how goose-bump generating this is: the hairs on my fucking neck stood out at this point. (Of course, the stereo was loud as shit, so make your own neuropsychologically-informed conclusions about this.) At 2:44 we get yet another slug riff in B over breath-takingly agile drum licks and a death growl that has started to sound more like the pulse of the Earth hurtling through space at 1041.7 miles per hour-- you know, that daily astronomical miracle you've already gotten used to; and, finally,

"Orgiastic Disembowelment," which, at around 2:15, actually has the chutzpah to swing (in death metal? GTFO!) while it deploys a quick sludge metal Riff (note the capital R) that most sludge bands would write an entire suite around.

This fucker just. Does. Not. Let. Up.

It's 32 minutes of sniper-focused, classically-trained, subtle-yet-unconstrained rage that makes Reign in Blood (an obvious ancestor) look positively geriatric.

This is the soundtrack to the end times/apocalypse/ Armageddon/ Ragnarōk-- and simultaneously also why said eschatology will be #greatestpartyEVAR.

None So Vile has just given me, via rather large if outdated speakers, one wonderful afternoon. It is quite literally massaging my old bitter heart as I absorb its high-Db proclamations.

I am fucking digging this shit. This kicked my ass. And I'm older and tougher than I look.

I recommend you investigate these seemingly-hyperbolic claims yourself.

Now... that's it... go ahead and run-- Run home and cry to mama!

--Horn

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sigiriya - Return to Earth



Way back in the mists of time…the mid 90’s…the term stoner rock was only just starting to surface, in fact stoner rock itself was only just starting to make its presence felt. Kyuss laid the foundations for the desert rock sound, Monster Magnet gave rock and roll and acidic, vintage garage sound it hadn’t seen for over 20 years, Fu Manchu doused it all liberally with a slacker, surf bum approach and doom bands such as Trouble and Cathedral were digging out the flares and adding a trippy groove to their de-tuned dirges. The first time, however, I heard the term applied to a band was a ragtag bunch of retrogressive misfits from Wales who went by the name of Acrimony. At the time hardly anyone would give them the time of day…which was just as well as, thanks to their recreational intake of vast quantities of mind altering substances, they didn’t know the time of day themselves!!! It was possible to see though, from very early on, that this was a band with something very special going on, something very special indeed!!! After several years, two albums, a split release with Church Of Misery and various smaller releases, Acrimony finally bit the dust in 2002 with little more than a ground roots following. The various members went on to find differing levels of success in bands such as The Dukes Of Nothing, Black Eye Riot, The 9ine…etc but during this time away the band’s stock gradually began to rise and, as with so many artists, their true worth wasn’t fully recognised until they were gone and their legacy attained legendary status. When it was announced then that 80% of the band would be reuniting under the name Sigiriya, expectations were, understandably very high.

Many people will, no doubt, be expecting Sigiriya to be a reformation of Acrimony in all but name. To dismiss them as such would be to do no favours to the legacy of Acrimony and would certainly be even less kind to Sigiriya themselves. Let’s be perfectly clear here, Sigiriya are NOT Acrimony!!! Although original Acrimony alumni Dorian Walters (vocals), Stu O’Hara (guitar), Mead (bass) and Darren Ivey (drums) are very much involved with only guitarist Lee Davies missing from the picture, much time and experience has passed so this is a completely new venture. All credit to the band must be given. It would have been easy to trot out the Acrimony name and trade on past reputations but these guys don’t play Acrimony songs and are keen to establish Sigiriya as a concern in its own right, and if this debut album is any indication they will have no trouble at all.

Kicking of with “The Mountain Goat” it’s clear that time and age have not diminished any of the individual musicians’ power. This is a band that sounds invigorated, fresh and above all powerful. Admittedly with the shared experiences and influences there are some echoes of the past in the overall sound…a rolling behemoth of crushing stoner infused riffs and mighty grooves…but unlike the past there is a greater sense of focus and intent and, surprisingly with only one guitarist, a far greater sense of weight and drive.

“Tobacco Sunrise” mixes up classic 70’s rock with Sabbath’s mammoth crunch and subtle indigenous Indian and Celtic flourishes that show O’Hara to be the master of the mighty riff. Walters’ voice has also matured and grown in strength and character over the years sounding strident and confident with a certain patina of time roughing up the edges. One thing that will strike many in this opening pairing of tracks is how tight and succinct the song writing is, each song barely topping the 3 minute mark and free from any extraneous fat that would drag them into indulgent mode.

On “Hurricane” Sigiriya allow themselves to indulge their Celtic roots. In much the same way as Thin Lizzy would tip a nod back to their Irish heritage, Sigiriya evoke the spirit of the Celts in a song that is as uplifting and lilting with its folky airs as it is mind fuckingly heavy. It’s a far from easy task to blend beauty and brutality but somehow they manage it in fine style. You are left with the impression that this is so much more than a sum of their influences, this is a sound born in their very blood and bones.

As with much of the rest of the album, “Whiskey Song” shows that the simplicity of the riff is indeed key. O’Hara sees no need to dazzle with technique when a simple belligerent pummelling will more than suffice. It is this approach, however, that allows Walters to deliver one of the most memorable and insistent choruses on the album and gives Ivey free reign to show that he is a master at laying down a solid yet inventive beer spilling groove. I defy any audience to stay still at a Sigiriya gig and not morph into one single, throbbing entity!!!

“Dark Fires” shows that Sigiriya aren’t afraid to pick up the pace, but on their own terms. This is another Sabbath fuelled romp that again sees Walters display his innate knack for a catchy melody that soars over a “Children Of The Grave” style gallop while Ivey takes out every frustration on his already beleaguered cymbals!!!

For those of you hoping for maybe a little more doom in the Sigiriya sound will not be disappointed in “Robot Funeral” which takes the mood down whilst still allowing those Celtic vibes to seep through before launching into a chorus that I can only describe as doom glam…imagine T Rex jamming with Pentagram on a Welsh mountainside whilst toking on some of mother nature’s finest and heavying everything up to maximum!!!

Inevitably Sigiriya leave the best until last. “Deathtrip to Eryri” can only be described as a towering epic. To try and describe it as anything but would be both futile and foolish. During the course of its ten plus minutes it builds on a solid and relentless groove laid down by Ivey and Mead. In fact it is only around the half way mark that you realise that the tempo has remained constant throughout and the song’s true appeal and the skill of the band lies in the shifts in dynamics that flow from titanic and heavy to mellow and beautiful. Walters lays down his finest vocal line on the whole album and O’Hara pulls some truly stunning melodies from his guitar without losing any of the intensity that the album has managed to reach and sustain throughout its seven tracks.

As I said, expectations for this album will be high but Sigiriya have manned up, risen to the challenge and exceeded them by a mile. I will admit to having been nervous approaching the first listen of this album but before the first song had even run its course I was, for want of a better expression, blown away. This is an album of such incredible depth and power that it’s hard to imagine how Sigiriya will ever hope to match it let alone top it yet somehow I have faith that they are more than up to the task. This is without a doubt one of my top albums from 2011…and in my heart of hearts I think it may even occupy the top slot!!!


--Ollie




Let me cut to the chase

2 albums from Alone Records; featuring Damo Suzuki with Cuzo, and Orthodox

I love getting weird stuff in the mail. And these 2 CD's that Racer sent me from Alone Records are pretty damn weird. I'd never heard of the label before but they've been around for 10 years and are based out of Spain. Their catalog ranges from experimental/psychedelic to more traditional rock and metal. Definitely a discography I need to explore a bit more.


Puedo Ver Tu Mente
Getting back to the weirdness. Former Can vocalist Damo Suzuki is an acquired taste. His performances on classic Can albums like Future Days and Tago Mago (recently re-issued with a bonus live show, gotta get that) are pretty unhinged. He continues in that direction on this new album titled Puedo Ver Tu Mente, a live collaboration with the band Cuzo. The music is very free form with Damo improvising words and melodies in an unknown language. "Puedo Ver Tu Mente" is a sprawling 17 minute jam that starts off pretty soothing before erupting into some good feedback freak outs. Damo keeps his cool as the band goes wild around him. "Tiempo Que No Tiene Ojos en Medio" brings to mind Nico's version of "The End" but with a stronger back beat. The band switches grooves a few times to keep things interesting. It's safe to assume that everyone involved in this project has dropped acid and listened to Pharaoh Sander's classic free jazz album Karma. On that album Leon Thomas does a lot of bizarre yodels and chants. Damo does something similar but the context is much more rooted in psychedelic rock. "Billete Sencilio para Dos" wraps up the album with lots of echoey guitar, whispered vocals and all assortments of noise. If you're into the studio album of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma or the really weird stuff on Freak Out by the Mothers of Invention, then you should check this out pronto








Ba'alSlightly less weird is the new album Ba'al from Spanish metal band Orthodox. Any album that opens with a moody instrumental dedicated to Burton, John Coltrane and comic book artist Jack Kirby is worth listening to. The rest of the album is slow, heavy doom influenced metal but with a lot of psychedelics. For a three piece band they can make a lot of noise and stretch out nicely. The vocals are pretty unique. They sound almost like Eric Adams of Manowar interpreting Damo's vocals from the Can albums mentioned above. It's certainly nothing I've heard before. I'm not sure how often I'm going to listen to either of these albums in the future but I'm very glad I was given the chance to hear them. A lot of experimental music these days is pretty dull but both of these recordings are worth a spin if only to put your ears and brain to the test.

--Woody


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matt Ebert - Hard Work


I walked into the weekly wrap-up meeting with my chin lowered and a defeatist attitude. My boss, I was absolutely certain, was going to publicly browbeat me over my recent lack of production. Who could blame him? It had been three whole weeks since I had turned in my last writing assignment. Every one of my coworkers had been able to continuously churn out articles and stories with what appeared to be little or no effort while I floundered fruitlessly around my uninspired mind. Sure enough the questions began right after I sat down in my assigned roundtable seat.

“Penfold. How are you doing today?”
“I’m doing well boss.”
“That’s nice. Listen, I’d say that I was glad you could join us but I’m afraid that’s not entirely true. How long has it been since you turned in your last story?”
“Three weeks, sir.”
“That’s right Penfold. Three weeks. Do you have a story for me today?”
“I’m afraid not sir.”
“Penfold, Penfold, Penfold. What am I going to do with you? Throughout all of last year you were my most consistent producer of fantastical stories. What happened? Has your creative well run dry?”
“I’m sorry sir. For whatever reason, writing has become really hard work for me lately.”
“Don’t be sorry Penfold. Sorry doesn’t pay the bills. New stories pay the bills. Take the rest of the day off. Go home and write something.”
“Yes sir boss.”

Needless to say, I left the office feeling completely dejected. On the drive home I stopped by the post office to pick up my mail. Leafing through the stack of envelopes containing bills, credit card applications, and bank notices failed to lift my spirits. But wait! There was also a key to one of the post office’s storage lockers. These keys denoted the arrival of something too large to fit in the normal post office box. To my surprise I opened the locker and found a rather large package from one Matt Ebert. All of a sudden, my day turned completely around.

Although I made it a point to abide by the posted speed limit, I still rushed home. After parking my car I grabbed my mail and bolted through my front door. The envelopes were quickly discarded and I hastily tore open the large package. It contained a vinyl copy of Matt Ebert’s newest album, Hard Work. For a moment I simply held it in my hands and analyzed the cover art. My eyes beheld a hand drawn depiction of a banjo playing coyote or wolf being recorded by a stereotypical grey alien in the background. Wow! Without wasting another moment I plopped the record onto the turntable and dropped the needle. The music started up, I flipped the jacket over to read the song titles, and a bit of magic happened.

The imaginative music combined with the artwork on the jacket’s back cover combined to effectively jump start my brain. What kind of artwork could wield this much power over my mental faculties? I’ll tell you. It was an arresting image depicting the unlikely scenario of a human man partying and chumming it up with the Predator (yes that Predator!) over multiple cans of beer. One look at that portrait and the little men inside my head shouted, “Creativity is a go!” What had recently been a barren wasteland of ideas suddenly became a hotbed of quality storylines and largely believable dialogue trees. Thank goodness my computer was on at the time! Once the word processor program opened my fingers could not move fast enough. Bearing a confident and triumphant smile I came into work the next Monday with a massive surplus of material. I assure you that I took only a small amount of satisfaction from seeing the look on my boss’s face when I thumped my stack of new writings down upon his desk.

Waveriders I’m going to make a very strong statement to begin the actual review portion of this editorial. At the time of this writing (the second week of January) I can already guarantee that Matt Ebert’s new album Hard Work will face an uphill battle to find a way out of my top five albums of 2012. That’s right waveriders. This album is phenomenal and I’m not afraid to say it! Now, I realize that most of you fair readers are asking yourselves the same question. Who in the world is Matt Ebert? I’m glad you asked.

Matt Ebert is a talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist currently residing somewhere inside the great state of Georgia. Together with his primary musical counterpart Allan Ray he has been creating and releasing some of the most interesting albums to grace my music players since 2007. What makes Ebert’s compositions so incredibly entertaining is his unwillingness to limit himself musically. Funk? Check. Rock? Definitely. Country? Yes indeed. R&B? Oh yes. Punk and metal? Uh huh. Soul? Indubitably. Bluegrass? You’d better believe it. How would I describe Ebert’s overall sound? That’s rather difficult. Imagine throwing everything I just mentioned into a blender and hitting the puree button. The finished product incorporates each sound, with specific genres more dominant based on the needs of the specific song. Hard Work is Ebert’s third full length album and it brings to the forefront a new sonic wrinkle, jazz. Specifically fusion-like jazz, and the results are captivating!

What we have here waveriders is an album that takes the listener on a forty three minute voyage through the sublime which is impossible to predict. Based on how many genres this music covers that statement makes a lot of sense, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. “Ain’t Never” opens the proceedings in a very, very (not just very) funky manner complete with a bottomless groove and soulful female backing vocals. Now whereas a less confident artist might stick with what is currently working for them after a successful first track, Matt Ebert takes the road less traveled. Second song “Ted’s Rafting Adventures” is a straight up jazz fusion instrumental featuring some splendid banjo and synthesizer work (played by Matt Patrick and Brett Carson respectively). The remainder of the first two thirds of Hard Work essentially follows this roadmap. Songs jump from funktastic vocal numbers “Building It”, title track “Hard Work” and “Doodle Bugs”, to sonically varied instrumentals “Evil Ted” and “The 9 Gates”.

And then we come to the last third of the album and things really get interesting. While Ebert’s original compositions are extremely worthy of any music lover’s attentions, with each album he also offers up a few choice covers. Hard Work is no exception. The first cover under the spotlight is the outlaw country classic “Lonesome On’ry And Mean”. Ebert’s gruff voice matches up perfectly with this song’s confident swagger. After another original instrumental, “A Wilderness Of Horrors”, the listener is rewarded with a glorious rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Hand Of Doom”. Outside of an extended jam at the end of the song this is a straightforward cover, but it sounds great. Wrapping things up is something completely out of left field, Ebert and company’s version of the anime show Inuyasha’s “End Theme”. Unfortunately I have never seen an episode of this program so I have never heard the original version of this song. What I can report is that the cover is certainly bouncy and jubilant!

So there you have it waveriders. Matt Ebert’s Hard Work is the kind of album that doesn’t come around all that often. This album is special, plain and simple. It is filled with fantastic, memorable songs. The artist’s sound is unique and unmistakable. If you consider yourself an adventurous music fan you cannot afford to pass this one up. You know what? Even if you don’t think of yourself as adventurous, I bet you like good music. Well folks, Hard Work is what you’re looking for. Get it!

--Penfold


Buy Here- http://ebertmusic.com/

Animals As Leaders – Weightless



So this is that djent music that all the kids are talking about, huh?  I have to admit, I like it better than I thought I would.  I like Meshuggah, the band that this sub-genre is named for, but any time you get a bunch of instrumental music going on there is always the possibility of band members more concerned about showing off how many notes they can play in a minute instead of writing songs that actually have a beginning, middle and end, and you know, sound like songs.  Or you get the sparkling, technical proficiency from guys like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, but absolutely no soul in the music so it sounds like it was written by robots.
This is the 2nd release for Animals As Leaders and the first as an actual band that wrote all the songs together.  And to be honest, there are some moments where you can tell that they are showing off their technical prowess here and there.  But then again, if you got the chops you might as well show them off when you have the opportunity.

There are 12 songs on this album, and they really do sound like songs and not just an excuse for wankery.   There are a lot of time signature changes and a lot of very cool melodies and counter melodies going on in all of these tracks.  This is definitely a band that is into the technical side of playing.  As a 3 piece you get guitar, bass and drums and there is a fair amount of programmed, synth stuff going on as well, which I would imagine means they have to be incredibly tight when they play live.  And I think it is pushing the genre envelope to say that Animals As Leaders are really a metal band.  They have some metal moments but this is definitely a very progressive band and I would say much more rock than metal.

I really enjoy several of the tracks on this album.  “Somnarium” and “Earth Departure” have some very cool things going on in terms of the aforementioned melodies and counter melodies.  In both of these tracks there is a main melody that flows through the song, gets turned around and upside down and comes back to the main theme, and it is very well done.  “Do Not Go Gently” is a lot of fun to listen to; again because of the interweaving melodies and the time signatures bouncing all over the place, plus I give them bonus points for not spelling it “Djently”.   “New Eden” is almost a pretty song with some nice dynamic contrasts.  And “Cylindrical Sea” features some absolutely jaw dropping guitar work.

This is a very good album and one that I look forward to spending more time with.  I may even check out some of the other bands in the djent genre.  If they do it as well as Animals As Leaders they are worth checking out.  –ODIN



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Queen - Days Of Our Lives

THE DEFINITIVE DOCUMENTARY ON THE WORLD’S GREATEST ROCK BAND IS COMING TO DVD AND BLU-RAY

~On January 31~

To Be Released by Eagle Rock Entertainment through Eagle Vision.

"This fantastic and moving two-parter tells the story of the finest live band in the history of rock. There's archive footage of past performances, interviews with the members and, best of all, plenty of insider anecdotes; the choicest being Elton John's reaction to Bohemian Rhapsody: "Are you off your head? You'll never get that played." The Guardian/UK.

In 1971, four college students got together to form a rock band. Since then, that certain band called Queen have released 26 albums and sold over 300 million records worldwide. The popularity of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon is stronger than ever 40 years on. On November 6, 2011, in front of an estimated TV audience of 1.2 billion they were honored with the Global Icon Award at the 2011 MTV EMA.

But for Queen the journey was no bed of roses. No pleasure cruise. Queen had their share of kicks in the face, but they came through - and this is how they did it.

Set against a backdrop of brilliant music and stunning live performances from every corner of the globe, Queen: Days of Our Lives - available in both Blu-Ray and standard DVD formats, brings Queen’s 40th Anniversary year to a close in suitably regal style.

Days Of Our Lives began as a two-part documentary produced by long-term Queen collaborators and life long fans Rhys Thomas (the comedian who famously broke the Mastermind all-time record points score with a specialist subject of Queen) and Simon Lupton, and directed by the renowned director Matt Casey. After 10 years of making Queen DVDs, Lupton and Thomas were asked by the band to produce the definitive 40th Anniversary documentary and after almost a year of painstaking research and editing, this was the result.

Split over two episodes, Part One covering 1970-80, Part Two 1980 – present day, the documentary is a genuine rollercoaster of rock and roll history.

In this film, for the first time, it is the band that tells their story. Featuring brand new interviews with Brian May and Roger Taylor and unseen archive footage - including their recently unearthed first ever TV performance - it is a compelling story told with intelligence, wit, plenty of humor and painful honesty.

Rhys Thomas comments, “We set out to make the definitive Queen documentary. It's a funny, honest, inspiring and ultimately tragic account of ‘a certain band called Queen’, as told by the band themselves. We tell the story of four students who met in West London, slogged hard and conquered the world, ultimately changing rock music forever.”

When originally broadcast in the UK on BBC 2 across two nights in May of last year, Queen: Days of Our Lives was the highest rated TV show on in its slot, beating every other channel and peaking with 3 million viewers. It has been widely regarded as one of the finest rock documentaries made and the critical reaction was outstanding. “Funny that,” says Thomas, “considering Queen were always denounced by the press!”

“The Boys did a fantastic Job on this documentary ... with little interference from us! I think this one will set the bench mark for years to come,” said Brian May.

Thomas explains the transfer of the original BBC documentary to DVD release: “When originally making the series it wasn’t easy condensing 40 years of Queen down to just two hours. In fact, there was so much more to be said and so much more to be seen. Thanks to Blu-Ray and DVD, so much more of that story can now be told…As the two documentaries worked so well, we resisted the idea of making an epic 3-hour ‘Extended Cut’. They are always boring, and as Freddie said to his manager Jim Beach in his last days: “Do anything you want with my music dear, but never make me boring!

“So rather than simply dump a load of ‘deleted scenes’ onto the DVD and Blu-Ray, Simon and I decided to edit them all with as much love, time and care as we put into the main documentary. What we have as a result is a great companion to the main story and some real gems, most notably covering the formation of the band and the making of the last three albums which was only touched upon in the televised version. For instance, we learn from Brian how John Deacon made a cut in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the record company and Freddie’s reaction; the revelation that Freddie was not sober during the making of ‘Spread Your Wings’/’We Will Rock You’ in Roger’s back garden, and a hilarious sequence about Queen and their love of Scrabble.

“As well as the new sequences, there are 7 new videos. Excerpts were featured in the main documentary, but we have completed them, and here on DVD and Blu- Ray they appear in full.”
The Blu-Ray format allows for additional bonus material and therefore differs in content to the Standard DVD release. Please check credits for each release.


‘Queen: Days of our Lives’ Blu-Ray & Standard DVD content descriptions:

Documentary Part 1 – 59 mins

Documentary Part 2 – 59 mins.


ADDITIONAL VIDEOS – Blu-Ray and Standard DVD (24 mins):

Seven Seas Of Rhye 2011:

A compilation of all four Top Of The Pops and Rainbow Live performances from 1974 – all unseen


Killer Queen 2011

A compilation of two Top of The Pops performances, one the familiar 1974 Christmas Special, the other - discovered in the late British comedian Dick Emery’s private collection, hasn’t been seen since 1974, the original master tape wiped from the BBC archives.


Somebody To Love 2011

This is a new edit of the video using the four takes shot on the day, most of which has never before been seen.


We Are The Champions 2011

In 1977, cameras filmed Queen recording a new version of the song for the promo video. This video shows the band performing and mixing this unreleased version in two live takes. An instrumental version of this closed Part One of ‘Days of our Lives’. Here for the first time the video can be seen in its entirety.


Crazy Little Thing Called Love 2011

A new edit of the video compiled from the rushes including outtakes and unseen angles.


Under Pressure 2011

A new video intercutting Queen’s first live performance of the song in Montreal 81 and Queen + David Bowie at the Freddie Mercury Tribute.


Radio Ga Ga 2011

This new video includes unseen color footage from the 1984 Radio Ga Ga video shoot plus rushes and outtakes.


BONUS SEQUENCES – Blu-Ray (59 mins) / Standard DVD (21 mins only):

Queen: The Beginning
A detailed look at how Queen formed in 1971. Covering Smile, finding John Deacon, and the early struggles of the band.


Queen On Tour 1974-5

Featuring Queen at the Rainbow and unseen footage of the band touring Japan for the first time. Includes excerpts of ‘Now I’m Here’, ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘In The Lap Of The Gods’ live.


Bohemian Rhapsody

Brian reveals how John Deacon made a cut in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the record company, only to be dismissed by Freddie: “Either it’s released in it’s entirety or not at all!.”


Working Together

The Band discuss their working relationship, including unheard archive of Queen having a ‘creative discussion!’


Leaving John Reid

An in-depth account of how the band left manager John Reid and set up Queen Productions – plus the revelation that Freddie was not sober during the making of ‘Spread Your Wings’/’We Will Rock You’ in Roger’s back garden.


Don’t Stop Me Now

Brian and Roger discuss ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and the ‘Guitar Version’ discarded by Freddie.


Flash Gordon

A short sequence on the making of Queen’s first film soundtrack, ‘Flash Gordon’, plus an alternate promo video.


Making Videos

The band discuss the video making process, featuring lots of unseen outtakes.


Scrabble Wars

A hilarious sequence about Queen and their love of Scrabble. You will just have to watch!


From Magic to The Miracle

In the three years between A Kind Of Magic and The Miracle, the members of Queen went through some life changing experiences in their working and personal lives. This chapter sheds light on what went on behind closed doors.


Going Slightly Mad: The Making of Innuendo

In 1991 Queen hit the charts with a No.1 album and single, “Innuendo.” Creatively the band were reinvigorated, their material better than ever, but beneath the surface, they all had to face the fact that Freddie was seriously ill and time was running out.


Made In Heaven

Roger and Brian talk about the making of the last Queen album, Made In Heaven, working with Freddie in his final weeks, as well and working with the material he had recorded after he had passed away and the emotional distress it caused.


Return To Imperial

Brian returns to Imperial College and shows us around the college where he and Roger first met, formed Smile and ultimately Queen.


BONUS INTERVIEWS - Blu-Ray (19 mins). Not included on Standard DVD:

The Bonus Interview section contains various interesting, funny and insightful footage that didn’t fit into any particular sequence but was too great to leave on the cutting room floor.


Official website:
www.queenonline.com 

Yob - Live 1/23/12 - The Bourbon Theater, Lincoln, Nebraska

Yeah, I may be getting old but I can still rock out the hell out. I certainly don't feel 42 most of the time and I still get excited when a band I love comes to town. I saw that doom masters YOB were gonna be here before hitting the road with Tool, and knew it was maybe my only good chance to see the band that made my number-one album last year.

It was on a Monday, so that sucked, but I still couldn't pass it up. After all, this was gonna be up-close and personal. Intimate.

The Bourbon Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska is a tiny one but it still draws some pretty big names in heavy rock music, believe it or not. Clutch and The Sword come to mind. I don't know why it surprised me so much that YOB would also be appearing there. I guess I just never expected it.

I got there early, not so much to see the opening bands but more to browse the merch. I'm glad I hadn't ordered Atma on vinyl yet 'cause there it was, all shiny and new. I grabbed one, plus a shirt, and then noticed an album cover I hadn't seen before. It wasn't one of the band's regular releases. Turns out it was one of only a few vinyl demos the band had for sale so I got one of those too.

"Lucky you got one," the guy behind the table said. "Only 3 left and then they're all gone. Totally."

Sweet. I took the stuff out to the car, had a small break and headed back inside. By the time the first two bands finished the place was getting crowded and I decided to grab a spot as close as I could. Yes. A little stage-right from the drum kit.

YOB come out with smiles on their faces and acknowledge the crowd - maybe 100 people. This is gonna be an epic night. I couldn't believe I was about to hear this band in such a small venue. The whole stage is maybe seven or eight feet deep and 15-20 feet across. Barely enough room for the band and their equipment. And there I am, with my nose literally 12 inches from the mic stand. The stage comes up to the middle of my shins and I'm braced with the front of my thighs pressed up against huge Yamaha speakers.

I'm ready. Let's do this!

After a short sound check YOB tears into "Prepare The Ground", the first earth-trembling track from Atma. I'm not prepared. I had a thought about grabbing a pair of ear plugs earlier that day at work but that's as far as I got. A thought. Too late now. After the first couple riffs it doesn't matter anyway.

To tell you the truth, I totally lost myself somewhere in the middle of that first song. I didn't have anyone shoving me from behind and no one was brushing either of my shoulders. It was almost like I was the only one there and YOB was playing just for me. My own little private concert in Nebraska. Fucking awesome. I had plenty of room; my body was writhing and contorting to the thunderous grooves being laid down.

I didn't find myself until maybe the third song, I think it was "Atma", when Mike S. broke a guitar string. He apologized and took a couple minutes to fix it himself. No guitars techs at this show, but I didn't mind at all.

"I needed a break anyway," I thought to myself. Maybe I do feel old - my neck sure does. Damn.

YOB tear it up. During a couple songs I find myself fixating on drummer Travis Foster, who has a focused, determined look on his face as he's bashing away. His arms contort in ways I didn't know were possible as he apparently tries to beat his drum kit to death with two wooden sticks. Not since WEEDEATER have I seen such a punishing performance.

A good hour or more after they started, YOB follows up with a cool TOOL cover and then finish the show with "Quantum Mystic", off The Unreal Never Lived. I wipe my face with my shirt and then rub my eyes. Is it over? Wow. That's when I try to clear my ears and remember there's nothing in there.

The crowd fizzles out and I notice the band members tediously breaking down their equipment. "Now would be a good time to go get those albums from the car," I thought, and so I did. All three guys signed them for me without hesitating and listened graciously as I thanked them for coming to little old Lincoln. Great bunch of fellas. I wished them luck on the rest of their tour and told them I hoped they have fun.

"We already are," Mike said and then thanked me and my friends for coming out. He expressed that he's also a little nervous about thousands and thousands of people staring back at him in the coming month. Unexpected bodily functions are a possibility, he joked. Still, go see 'em if there's a show anywhere near you. I can only hope your experience was a great as mine.

To me, this show wasn't just a little warm-up before their big arena tour on the east coast with TOOL. It was special. It was an intimate night with YOB and I'll never forget it.

--Heddbuzz



Astral Doors -Jerusalem



"Yeah...right," I remember muttering as I read their press kit. I may have giggled a little bit, too.

Ronnie James Dio (rest in peace) was one of the greatest vocalists of all-time, in my opinion, so when Sweden's Astral Doors mentioned, "the sound’s unmistakable kinship to Dio-fronted Rainbow and Dio/Martin-fronted Black Sabbath," when describing their new album, I had more than a few doubts.

Then I heard the 11 tracks of power-metal on Jerusalem and all those doubts disappeared. Poof.

Astral Doors sure backed up their claim about sounding like Dio, and then some. The similarity is so strong that it's almost uncanny, but if you ask me, Jerusalem sounds more like Dio's solo work, Last In Line and Holy Diver. Maybe that's just me 'cause I'm partial to those two albums. Whatever the case, I think Jerusalem is freaking fantastic.

I'm treated to all the power-metal essentials on this one. Clean, powerful vocals (as if you coudn't tell already) with emotional lyrics inspired by war, fantasy and personal struggles. Fiery guitars with electrifying solos. Amazing bass and drums. Got organs? Astral Doors does.

I had no idea about this band until a month ago, but they've been around the block.

BIO: 'In early 2002, Swedish guitarist Joachim Nordlund, drummer Johan Lindstedt and singer Nils Patrik Johansson teamed up and decided to write some metal songs in the spirit of the old heroes Rainbow, Dio, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. They completed the band with organ player Jocke Roberg and with Martin Haglund on the bass....Jerusalem is a journey through good and evil. Mixed by Daniel Bergstrand, the music of Astral Doors reaches new heights. Blistering hits like "Seventh Crusade", "Babylon Rise" and "With a Strangers Eye" meets up with the epic title track and the video hit "Child of Rock'n'roll"...'

That's a coincidence. Two of those songs I decided to include so you could hear them for yourselves. Just listen and tell me this band isn't Dio reincarnated. And just check out that album artwork. Awesome. I can't tell whose side the dragon is on, though. Is it the Crusaders? Muslims? Must be Jerusalem.

What was I thinking? The Dio-inspired power-metal that I loved when I was growing up hasn't gone anywhere - I just haven't been looking in the right places. I'm glad that I finally found it again, and that Astral Doors have opened up and shown me the way.

Jerusalem is released through Metalville Records. Any fan of Ronnie James Dio will dig this music a lot. Highly-recommended.

--Heddbuzz