Monday, January 19, 2015

Motor Sister (Scott Ian + Mother Superior's Jim Wilson) Plays St. Vitus on Feb. 12th / Debut CD Out March 10th on Metal Blade

Motor Sister (Scott Ian + Mother Superior's Jim Wilson) Plays St. Vitus on Feb. 12th / Debut Out March 10th on Metal Blade
Buy tickets now as this show will likely sell out once people realize the band is Scott Ian, Scott's wife - Pearl Aday, Joey Vera, Jim Wilson and John Tempesta (White Zonbie). Tickets are $12 and local alt-rockers Static Summer is opening the show.

The group was originally assembled to jam for Scott Ian’s fiftieth birthday party. Thanks to Scott’s wife Pearl Aday, who has been working on her solo career with Mother Superior front man Jim Wilson for years, all it took was a quick phone call and the stage was literally set for Scott’s dream gig. “I wanted to cherry-pick a set list of my favorite Mother Superior songs and get these guys together and have the concert at my house,” Ian says of the event that eventually led to an album.

Enthralled at the idea of making a record of his favorite Mother Superior songs, Ian emailed producer Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) and asked if he thought it was possible to recapture the same spontaneous energy Motor Sister generated at their makeshift gig, and if an album could be recorded quickly. “He said, ‘Yeah, we can make the record in two days and we can make it sound really good.’ So that’s what we did,” Ian says. “A week and a half later, we made the record in LA over a two day period. We recorded the whole thing live in the studio and the set-up was at my house.

[Mother Superior] frontman Jim [Wilson] was totally into the idea. Pearl was a huge Mother Superior fan from way back and was in. I asked my good friends Joey Vera (Fates Warning/Armored Saint) and John Tempesta (White Zombie, The Cult) to be a part of it because I knew they were both big fans as well and with no hesitation they said, ‘We’re in.’

Wilson, too, was stoked by the opportunity to dust off some songs he hadn’t played since his LA rock trio broke up in the early 2000′s after releasing eight albums and playing as Henry Rollins’ backing band. “I definitely didn’t need any arm-twisting,” he says. “I was totally flattered and thought it was a great idea. I figured it would be fun and it was a great opportunity for a new chapter to be established in order to move forward.

Motor Sister

Monday, January 12, 2015

Feral Conservatives (indie pop) Play Cake Shop on Feb. 9th / 'The Feeling Noise Becomes' out Feb. 10th (@EggHuntRecords)

Feral Conservatives (indie pop) Play Cake Shop on Feb. 9th / 'The Feeling Noise Becomes' out Feb. 10th (@EggHuntRecords)
Formed in early 2011, Feral Conservatives self-released a series of little-heard EPs before buying a $15 distortion pedal and touring up and down the East Coast and New England in a station wagon. 2014 saw the duo record a series of singles with Mark Padgett (Mae). Continuing to explore the dichotomy between minimalist folk singer-songwriter craft and 90’s-inspired noise rock, they joined EggHunt Records’ roster for their label debut coming in early 2015: The Feeling Noise Becomes, on digital on and limited edition tape.

Feral Conservatives are playing Cake Shop on Monday, Feb. 9th along with Gender Studies, City Mice and Bitterheart (headliner). Tickets are $7 and doors are at 8PM.

The instruments and the appropriateness unique to Feral Conservatives are sprinkled with sustained lines, rousing naivety, slushie desperation and their intense combination of tender, smoky composition and woody girliness make for a delicious, angsty bravado. Oh and let’s not forget Rashie’s saccharine, almost diabetic “heys!” and that sweet, sweet mandolin. Yum.

The duo’s musical tendencies lean less toward the brutality of Steve Albini’s Shellac or Husker Du, but rather infuse the fuzz of Sonic Youth with sweet vocal melodies and prickly mandolin licks provided by frontwoman Rashie Rosenfarb, which allow this pairing to explore a more accessible side of the genre.

Feral Conservatives

Monday, January 05, 2015

Led Zeppelin 2 Plays Gramercy Theater on Friday, Jan. 9th

"Robert Plant Slams Idea of Zeppelin Tour: 'I'm Not Part of a Jukebox'" - Rolling Stone

Led Zeppelin 2 Plays Gramercy Theater on Friday, Jan. 9th
As it is almost certain that Led Zeppelin won't be coming back, Led Zeppelin 2 may be the next best thing...

LED ZEPPELIN 2: The Live Experience recreates the sights, sounds, and pure rock and roll euphoria of a prime Led Zeppelin concert. Resplendent in satin and denim, LZ2 delivers the intense, raw energy and dynamics of songs such as "Whole Lotta Love", "Stairway to Heaven", "Kashmir", "Dazed and Confused" and many more from the entire catalog of Zeppelin studio, live and bootleg recordings.

"These guys sound f'ing exactly like Led Zeppelin!" - Kirk Hammett of Metallica

In concert, LZ2 delivers authentic renditions of classic Zeppelin material, as well as recreating the live improvisation & onstage dynamics that earned Led Zeppelin their legendary status for performing. LZ2 has performed across the US and draw rave reviews for a "spot-on" Zeppelin show, playing both deep cuts and classic tracks from the entire studio, live and bootleg catalog, and occasionally entire Led Zeppelin studio albums and performances from specific dates. LED ZEPPELIN 2 brings forward the Led Zeppelin experience to a new generation while satisfying diehard Zep fans with a raw, fresh approach.

Led Zeppelin 2 plays Gramercy Theater this Friday, Jan. 9th; Tickets range from $25 (standing/floor) to $35 (seated/loge) and doors are at 7PM.

Led Zeppelin 2

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jarflower (Melodic Alt-Rock) Play The Rock Shop in Brooklyn on Saturday, Jan. 3rd

Jarflower (Melodic Alt-Rock) Play The Rock Shop in Brooklyn on Jan. 3rd
Carved from 90s rock, dangerous riffing, and serious pop sensibility, Jarflower destroys stages with tight rock n’ roll tunes and anthems that would bring your first pet back to life (or so they’ve heard). Matt’s powerful melodies and rhythm guitar, Steve’s earth-shaking rhythms, Rob’s infectious bass grooves, and Jake’s unique Led Zeppelin meets Goo Goo Dolls axe-playing complements their truly rad and original sound. They have opened for hit-makers like Hellogoodbye & Dishwalla and have had their music featured in local compilations.

To build support for the band's forthcoming new EP "Contrast", Jarflower is playing a show at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn on Jan. 3rd, along with Forget This (Ian Karavas) and Lizard Pizza. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 DOS; Doors are at 8PM.


Serious Black - 'As Daylight Breaks' CD Review (AFM Records)

Serious Black - 'As Daylight Breaks' CD Review (AFM Records)
Serious Black is a new six-piece band formed by Roland Grapow (Masterplan, x-Helloween) and the rest of the band’s lineup is a ‘who’s who’ of European power metal. The band lineup is comprised of Roland Grapow, Thomen Stauch (ex-Blind Guardian), Mario Lochert (ex-Visions Of Atlantis), Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge), Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) and the golden voice of Urban Breed (ex-Tad Morose, ex-Bloodbound).

The band’s debut CD, As Daylight Breaks, comes out January 20th (US) on AFM Records and the initial pressing includes three bonus tracks: “Someone Else’s Life”, “Fly On” and a cover of Genesis’ “No Son of Mine”. In the band’s press release, they want to make it clear that Serious Black is more than a studio project as every member of the band was involved in songwriting and recording and the band will be touring next year in support of Hammerfall.

The disc starts off with “I Seek No Other Life” which showcases the band’s core power metal sound. This song features big guitar riffs along with a nice, melodic solo, upfront vocals and breakneck drumming. While the band’s power metal sound is a constant, underlying core, the band expands on this core by shading the edges with elements of prog rock, symphonic metal and AOR/arena rock and there is also a middle-eastern flair on some of the songs toward the middle of the disc.

Jan Vacik’s keyboard and piano come into prominence with “High and Low” and “Sealing My Fate”. “High and Low” opens with a proggy keyboard run and the melodic guitar riffing is balanced with the keys. “Sealing My Fate” is a mellow, mid-tempo number with flairs of AOR which starts with a piano opening and slowly gets harder edged, adding big power metal riffs, as the song goes on. “Temple of the Sun” is an atmospheric/symphonic instrumental with a middle-eastern flare which serves as a lead-in to “Akhenaton” and “Akhenaton” keeps the middle-eastern vibe but layers around it a melodic, late-70’s hard rock sound.

Some of the other stand-out tracks are “As Daylight Breaks”, which opens with Vacik’s piano and builds a symphonic base beneath Breed’s soaring vocals. “Listen to the Storm” follows in this same symphonic vein but is a hard-rock number with a dark opening. The disc closes with “Older and Wiser” which sounds a bit like early Judas Priest with its big drum sound, low-end bass chug and melodic shredding and riffing.

Serious Black Tour Dates
Jan 16 — Aladin, Bremen, Germany
Jan 17 — Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany
Jan 18 — Essigfabrik, Cologne, Germany
Jan 19 — O13, Tilburg, Netherlands
Jan 20 — Trix, Antwerp, Belgium
Jan 22 — Longhorn, Stuttgart, Germany
Jan 23 — All Karthalle, Kaufbeuren, Germany
Jan 24 — Z7 Pratteln, Switzerland
Jan 25 — Z7 Pratteln, Switzerland
Jan 26 — Backstage, Munich, Germany
Jan 28 — Live Club, Milan, Italy
Jan 29 — Ninkasi Kao, Lyon, France
Jan 30 — Razzmatazz 2, Barcelona, Spain
Jan 31 — Shoko, Madrid, Spain

Serious Black

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Animal Years (Brooklyn Roots Rock) Plays Free NYE (12/31) Show at Rockwood Music Hall

Animal Years (Brooklyn Roots Rock) Plays Free NYE (12/31) Show at Rockwood Music Hall
Brooklyn's Animal Years have had a busy 2014 - they released their album Sun Will Rise (Deluxe Edition) internationally, debuted the video "Forget What They're Telling You" (which starred True Blood's Bailey Noble) on Conan O'Brien's blog Team Coco, filmed a live session in Counting Crows' "Garden" as part of The Outlaw Roadshow, and opened up for Robert Randolph and The Family Band at Brooklyn Bowl in late November. The band is closing out the year with a free NYE show at Rockwood Music Hall.

Animal Years' free New Year's Eve show takes place at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 (196 Allen St. at Houston St.) on Wednesday, 12/31/14 at 11PM.

Brooklyn’s Animal Years play indie roots rock with influences ranging from early Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket to Young The Giant and The Avett Brothers. The band is the brain child of Baltimore-to-Brooklyn transplant Mike McFadden (lead vocals, guitar, and banjo), who adopted the moniker Animal Years to break out of the solo singer/songwriter category. McFadden is backed by Anthony Saladino (bass) and Anthony Spinnato (drums) and this three-piece lineup released their debut record, Sun Will Rise, in May which Deli Magazine described as "anthemic and powerful; a passionate work of thrilling crescendos fueled by bright and expansive guitar".

Animal Years

Blood God - 'Blood is My Trademark' CD Review (Massacre Records)

Blood God - 'Blood is My Trademark' CD Review (Massacre Records)German death metal vocalist Thomas Gurrath (Debauchery) kicked off his thrash side-project Blood God a few years ago and, earlier this fall, the band released its second disc, Blood Is My Trademark (Massacre Records). The new disc sports cover art by Warhammer illustrator Adrian Smith) and the band describes the backdrop to their live set as “decorated with puppets of female demons and bodyparts and skulls and stuff like that”. Now that you know where the band’s headset is, they describe their musical influences as Judas Priest, Accept, Iron Maiden, Motörhead and AC/DC.

Given Gurrath’s tenure in Debauchery, it should come as no surprise that the disc’s lyrics are horror themes about bloodletting, murder and mayhem. With the disc’s catchy, old-school metal riffs grabbing the listeners attention right away, most people may not even realize what they are singing along to. At least one group though has paid attention as, going back a few years, Gurrath was fired from his job as a high school philosophy teacher when school officials found out about Debauchery and their associated theatrics.

Thomas Gurrath’s vocals are almost a dead-ringer for that of Brian Johnson (AC/DC) and this, along with some Angus Young style riffs, gives this disc a serious AC/DC vibe though Blood God comes on a bit louder, harder and faster. Most of the songs feature thrash/metal guitar riffs and shredding solos over top of a locomotive bass/drum backbeat. What adds to the thrash metal vibe is that most songs also have gang vocals on the chorus. The band doesn't stray far from this proven formula though there are a number of cases where the guitars are down-tuned and there are hints of NWOBHM and White Zombie style groove in “Sexy Music for Sexy People”. Another track where Blood God mixes it up is “Dragonbeasts Are Rising” where the band pulls back on the aggression for a guitar instrumental lead-in. Across the board though, all of the songs have catchy and melodic hooks that will be instantly recognized by fans of late 70’s/early 80’s metal.

The band took an interesting twist with this release as they included a bonus disc as part of a limited edition digi-pack that is comprised of alternate recordings of the main disc’s ten songs with death metal vocals. The band’s press release states: “[Y]ou should never forget your roots, right? That’s why the limited edition digipak of the album comes with a bonus CD including the whole record sung with the Debauchery monster voice.” Gurrath’s (cookie) monster vocals on the bonus disc seem to be just a different vocal track on top of the same music but the guttural vocals (which are surprisingly understandable) add a harder edge to the music which makes these alternate versions worthwhile.

Blood God

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Church Release Free 'Xmas' Song / March '15 Shows at Bowery Ballroom and Rough Trade

Two years ago, I had re-posted a post from Steve Kilbey's Facebook page where he had stated that he was quitting The Church over his frustration with the band's then label Second Motion.

Fast-forward two years and The Church have a new album Further/Deeper coming out in early February of 2015 (out already in Australia/NZ) and the band is starting their 2015 North American tour on the West Coast in late February. On this new album and upcoming tour, Marty Willson-Piper "was/is unavailable" so he has been replaced by Ian Haug from Powderfinger.

"The only place you can pre-order now is The Church merch store. When purchasing the CD or digital album you will receive an download of first taste from the album “Pride Before A Fall” within 48 hours and you will also receive a bonus track of “The Girl Is Buoyant” on 17 October. The vinyl is a double album and comes with a digital download card and contains 3 extra tracks than the CD. The release of Further/Deeper will be followed by live dates where the band will play the new album in full! Steve Kilbey has also been creating a series of paintings as memes for the albums lyrical themes, some of which will be available to purchase from the merch store. To start with there are 4 available depicting each of the band members. They are high quality prints made with museum grade paper and inks. And there are T-Shirts featuring the album cover and the 4 prints."

The Church 2015 North American Tour Dates
2/21/2015 - Vancouver, BC - Rio Theater
2/23/2015 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door
2/24/2015 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door
2/26/2015 - San Francisco, CA - The Chapel/Noise Pop Festival
2/27/2015 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
2/28/2015 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
3/02/2015 - Aspen,CO - Belly Up Tavern
3/03/2015 - Denver, CO - Gothic Theater
3/05/2015 - Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
3/06/2015 - Chicago, IL - Double Door
3/07/2015 - Cleveland, OH - The Grog Shop
3/09/2015 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
3/10/2015 - Philadelphia, PA - World Cafe Live
3/12/2015 - Boston, MA - The Sinclair

3/13/2015 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom (Advance tickets are $30)
3/14/2015 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade (Advance tickets are $30)

3/15/2015 - Raleigh, NC - Cat’s Cradle
3/17/2015 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
3/18-21/2015 - Austin, TX - SXSW

The Church

Whitesnake - 'Live in 1984 - Back to the Bone' CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Whitesnake - 'Live in 1984 - Back to the Bone' CD Review (Frontiers Records)
While veteran rockers Whitesnake have released a number of live albums over the last few years, Live in 1984 - Back to the Bone capture the previously undocumented live lineup of John Sykes (guitar), Neil Murray (bass) and Cozy Powell (drums). This is a solid addition to the Whitesnake catalog as the material from this tour falls squarely between the blues-rock of Live...In the Heart of the City and the MTV-friendly hair metal of Live at Donington 1990.

As much as David Coverdale downplays his work with John Sykes (evidently Coverdale made a crack that Sykes and Robert Plant should form a band and call themselves ‘The Anti-Christs’), Sykes and Coverdale co-wrote Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album, which was the band’s commercial peak. Live in 1984 gives the listener a view into a lineup that was only together two years as all of the members of this lineup were fired prior to the release of the 1987 self-titled album. In an interview with Melodic Rock in 1999, Sykes said “I mean if it had been just one person, fired me or just one of the band member's cause they'd had a little tiff or tizzy or something you could understand it. But he fired everybody. The drummer, bass, me, the producer. It was like he was just cleaning shop and the only reason I could imagine that would be for is so he could have a lot more control of things, certainly in the financial department.

The disc’s first twelve cuts are guitar-driven rockers that follow in the spirit and sound of the US remix of Slide It In. Comparing the set list from Live in 1984 to a bootleg I have from the 1984 tour, the only difference is that this new recording doesn’t include two of the band’s early 80’s numbers: “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” and “Don’t Break My Heart Again”. The remaining track (which is really four songs within this track) is from Jon Lord’s final performance with Whitesnake. Lord’s organ playing is featured prominently on this last track, making the sound of this lineup more in the spirit of the original UK release of Slide It In.

The band starts out really strong on this new recording - clear production highlights the drive and energy and makes it clear why this lineup was such a compelling live act. The band opens with two of the rockers from Slide It In - “Gambler” and “Guilty of Love”. These songs have a driving stomp and swagger and Sykes throws down some shredding, melodic guitar solos. On “Guilty of Love”, and across this disc, Coverdale is a master of stopping the band on a dime to rev up the audience for a sing-along. Both “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Slow An’ Easy” (which was in heavy rotation on MTV at the time) start with a slow burning bluesy guitar before shifting into a driving stomp. The focus of this disc is on the music and there isn’t a lot of the typical in-between-song ‘dirty talk’ and double entendres from Coverdale aside for “Love Ain’t No Stranger” starting off with the comment to an audience member: “a lovely pair of titties you have on your chest”. Some of the other highlights on the disc are Sykes’ guitar solo which serves as a lead-in to “Crying in the Rain” and a reach back into Deep Purple’s catalog for a vocal and organ driven rendition of Stormbringer’s “Soldier of Fortune”.

While the track(s) with Jon Lord are a repeat of the tracks that started off the disc, these renditions are essentially alternate versions as they are less guitar driven and Lord’s organ playing is featured prominently in the mix.

It’s still hard for me to find the words when remembering that half the incredible band who originally recorded the ‘Slide It In’ album with me have passed away,” says Coverdale. “It’s incredibly difficult to articulate: Cozy Powell...Mel Galley...Jon Lord…All amazing people and amazing musicians. Their memories live on in our hearts & in the music they made. I miss them beyond words… Wait until you see & hear them playing as only they can and add in the fiery guitar assault of the incredibly gifted John Sykes, plus the relentless melodic bass pounding of Neil Murray.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' Interview with Guitarist Pete Lesperance, Nov. 2014

Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' Interview with Guitarist Pete Lesperance, Nov. 2014
Last month, I had the pleasure of talking with guitar virtuoso Pete Lesperance about the new release, Thirteen, from melodic Arena/AOR rockers Harem Scarem. This new disc has a full, multi-layered sound where Hess’ gritty but melodic vocals and Lesperance’s guitar work are focal points in each of the songs. Hess’ vocals fall somewhere between that of Ray Gillen (Badlands/Black Sabbath), David Coverdale and Ted Poley and Lesperance’s guitar work ranges from groove-oriented 90’s alt-rock (“Early Warning Signs”) to a soaring power-ballad (“Whatever It Takes”) to bordering on the edge of power metal (“Stardust”).

I talked with Pete about Harem Scarem's reunion after a six year hiatus, the new disc and the band's plans for 2015. We also talked about Harem Scarem's experience during the era of grunge, the origin of the band's name and more.

Harem Scarem