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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wizard Rifle (Stoner/Noise Rock) - 'Here in the Deadlights' CD Review (Seventh Rule Recordings)

Wizard Rifle - 'Here in the Deadlights' CD Review (Seventh Rule Recordings)Portland-to-Los Angeles three-piece Wizard Rifle released their second disc, Here in the Deadlights, in October (Seventh Rule Recordings) and this new five song disc combines sludgy stoner rock with muscular garage punk along with some elements of free-form jazz. In terms of comparisons, the sludge of Melvins, the bluesy stoner-rock of Mudhoney and the destructive garage punk sounds of any of the early AmRep bands (i.e. Halo of Flies) immediately come to mind but Wizard Rifle’s music is also cross-cut with the free-form unpredictability of no-wave punks like James Chance and the Contortions. All of the songs clock in around the six minute mark and they are highlighted by excellent production, which clearly brings the band’s sonic wall of sound to the forefront. Here in the Deadlights was recorded at guitarist Max Dameron’s Breakfast Studios and mixed by Billy Anderson (Sleep) and Jesse Johnstone.

The disc starts with “Crystal Witch”, which combines the swirling psychedelia of early Pink Floyd with stoner sludge and a big, muscular guitar sound. This is a high-energy number with building guitar riffs and tom rolls over which Dameron and drummer Sam Ford sing in a bluesy, hoarse rasp. This number immediately flows into “Buzzsaw Babes”, which is a garage/blues number that features a twisting guitar line, a big bottom-end bass and pounding drums along with fuzzed out vocals. “Paul The Sky Tyrant” is more of a heavier song with its grinding, groove-based riffs and marching beat. The (mostly clean) vocals on this number are beneath a twisted guitar line and the music is more bluesy than fuzzy. “Psychodynamo” is the longest track on the disc, clocking in at almost nine minutes, and this number starts with minor key, atmospheric, space-rock and spoken word vocals that build and eventually pick up speed , taking the song to an old-school hardcore ending. The disc closes with “Beastwhores”, which starts as a post-punk free-form jazz number that morphs into stoner psychedelic sludge.

What is fitting, given the sound of this band, is that Seventh Rule has pressed a limited edition vinyl version of Here in the Deadlights on “Deep Purple” Color-in-Color Vinyl (ltd to 100 Copies). Buy this through the label’s mail order shop before you have to pay eBay collectors’ prices.

Wizard Rifle has shared the stage with the likes of Yob, Church Of Misery, Black Cobra, Arabrot and Rabbits and the band was recently in town for a show at St. Vitus. In an era where almost every concert is recorded, I couldn't find any live footage from the band's recent fall tour so - here is a video from Wizard Rifle's 2012 show at The Acheron.

Wizard Rifle

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stabbing Westward: Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus Reunite in The Dreaming / 'Rise Again' CD out Feb. 10th

Stabbing Westward: Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus Reunite in The Dreaming / 'Rise Again' CD out Feb. 10th
The Rising's new album Rise Again, which will be released on February 10, 2015 via Metropolis Records, is deliberately pointed in its name. The band, which is a reunion of Stabbing Westward's founding members Christopher Hall (lead singer) and Walter Flakus (keyboards, programming), makes no attempt to hide their plans. The Dreaming intend to deliver an album that brings back the early Stabbing Westward sound that fans have been asking for.

Although the name Stabbing Westward is now dead and buried (they disbanded in early 2002), Hall and Flakus are ecstatic to return with the intense and haunting music that made them multi-platinum artists. The Dreaming is rounded out with guitarist Carlton Bost (Orgy, Deadsy), bassist Brent Ashley (Static X) and one-time Stabbing Westward drummer Johnny Haro.

Hall and Flakus were renowned for their songwriting during the 1990s, mostly through Stabbing Westward's massive radio hits, yielding two gold records. A total of six Stabbing Westward songs landed in the Top 25 of the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, including three in the top ten: "What Do I Have To Do?", "Save Yourself" and "Shame". Visually, the band also took advantage of the video world, becoming internationally mainstays on MTV and other music channels . As a testament that their music wasn't just suited to the studio, the band proved their musical prowess by sharing stages with such luminaries as Depeche Mode, Sex Pistols, Kiss, Killing Joke, Front 242, Placebo and The Cult.

Emerging from Stabbing Westward's break-up in 2002, Hall formed The Dreaming and released its debut album Etched in Blood in 2008. After some heady reconciliation, Flakus rejoined his former bandmate and brought the musical partnership back full circle. The resulting album Rise Again reignites spark of their original band, as evidenced in its first single "Alone".

The Dreaming

Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' CD Review (Frontiers Records)
Canadian band Harem Scarem isn’t (yet) a household name in the US but that hasn’t stopped them from putting out a number of melodic hard-rock discs that really should be staples of FM radio. For anyone not familiar with Harem Scarem, the band was formed in 1987 by guitarist Pete Lesperance and singer Harry Hess. The band hit its commercial peak in 1993 with their second album, Mood Swings, and sadly got pushed to the side by grunge. After a dozen studio albums, Harem Scarem called it a day in 2008 with the release of Hope but got back together last year to re-record Mood Swings (as Mood Swings II) and decided kept the band going.

Harem Scarem’s newest disc, Thirteen, came out this past Friday on Frontiers Records. It is obvious that the band still has a strong and loyal fan base as the band launched a pledge campaign to support the making of their new studio album and reached their goal in less than 24 hours.

Harem Scarem has a full, multi-layered sound and 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”).

This new 10-track disc (39 minutes) starts with the song “Garden of Eden”, which sets the tone for the rest of the disc. This number is a mid-tempo rocker with a big melodic chorus that is complemented by Lesperance’s fret work, which includes a nice solo and some memorable riffs. There is a bit of a flavor of Southern rock on “Live It” and the band starts to shift gears on “The Midnight Hour”, which is an 80’s style AOR number that includes both piano and some nice solos from Lesperance. After the power ballad “Whatever It Takes”, the band gets back to where the disc started and kicks it up for the shredding rocker “Saints and Sinners”. “Troubled Times” falls somewhere between 90’s ‘modern rock’ and the better side of Bon Jovi and the disc ends on a strong note with the big arena rocker “Stardust”, which features some heavy, distinctive guitar riffs that build to a big chorus.

For the collectors, there is a bonus track with an acoustic version of “The Midnight Hours” on the Japanese release and there is also a Japanese SHM-CD version that includes a second disc of the band playing live in Japan in 2013. On the European release, the bonus track is an acoustic version of “Garden of Eden”.

Harem Scarem

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Big Quiz Thing presents: 2014 Flashback Trivia-O-Rama at Littlefield on Dec. 17th

The Big Quiz Thing presents: 2014 Flashback Trivia-O-Rama at Littlefield on Dec. 17th
The Big Quiz Thing presents: 2014 Flashback Trivia-O-Rama, a great way to wrap up 2014. Touching on 2014’s most memorable events, personalities, entertainment and more, TBQT will present six rounds of live, multimedia trivia including the Lightning Round, the Text Message Challenge and the Buzzertastic Three Way Finale. Through boggling video and audio puzzles, and sponsored prizes at stake, TBQT guarantees an engaging night of entertainment. “Smart-Ass Points” will be awarded for wrong but funny answers, so non-geeky audiences are not left out!

TBQT was recently featured on the NYC Life network and is hosted by comedian and former editor for Rolling Stone and Time Out New York, Noah Tarnow. Noah has been a regular guest on NPR's Ask Me Another and has been dubbed “a geek savant” by Gawker.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door; doors are at 7PM.

The Big Quiz Thing

Yes - 'Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome' CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Yes - 'Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome' CD Review (Frontiers Records)
The latest album from Yes, Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome, was recorded this past May during the band’s “triple header” tour where the band played 1971's The Yes Album, 1972's Close to the Edge and 1977's Going For the One front to back during its shows. I have mixed feeling about this new live album as it comes right on the heels of 2011’s In the Present – Live from Lyon where the band played three of the six songs from The Yes Album and this recording only includes The Yes Album and Going for the One sets.

Before getting into the album, I should note that I never got around to listening to Yes’ latest studio album Heaven & Earth so this live show was my first exposure to vocalist Jon Davison and, vocally, he is more of a dead ringer for Jon Anderson than Benoit David was. Now for the show – the mix on this recording is extremely crisp and the contributions from all the members of Yes are clearly captured. Across the disc, Steve Howe’s guitar work and Davison’s vocals, along with some strong keyboard and piano flourishes from Geoff Downes, drives all of the songs.

When describing the impetus behind the ‘triple header’ tour, Steve Howe told Billboard: "We wanted an easy time and a hard time -- in other words, we wanted some challenges to rise to make the three-album concept work…So 'The Yes Album' is kind of the easy stuff because we've played a lot of it pretty regularly. And the challenges were bringing back 'Close to the Edge, which wasn't too tricky, and then doing 'Going For the One' really did give us some challenges because 'Turn of the Century,' 'Going For the One' (the song), 'Parallels,' those are formidable arrangements and (songs) we haven't done for a long time. We seem to have radically upped the game."

The positive side of this disc is that only a small handful of tracks from Going for the One have been included on previous live albums so it was great to hear this album performed live. Some of the highlights from this set are Howe’s flamingo guitar work on “Turn of the Century” and Downes’ piano/keyboards on “Awaken”. The negative side of this disc is that most of the tracks from The Yes Album have been on numerous other live discs from Yes and the ‘definitive’ live versions of these songs can be found on 1973’s YesSongs. Also, now that there is a well-established expectation for what these songs should sound like live, sluggish tempos on some of The Yes Album songs on this new live recording make these versions sound somewhat disconcerting (i.e. the transition as “Your Moves” shifts into “All Good People”). On a positive note, slower paced numbers like “Perpetual Change” sound brilliant with Davison’s soaring vocals and Howe and Downes put down some great jazzy licks on “A Venture”.

The Bristol Post covered this show live and here is a link to their review: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Review-Yes-Bristol-Hippodrome-9-10-Michael/story-21084469-detail/story.html


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gang of Four Announce New Disc (First w/o Jon King) 'What Happens Next' / Show at Irving Plaza on March 7th

Gang of Four Announce New Disc (First w/o Jon King) 'What Happens Next' / Show at Irving Plaza on March 3rd
UK's legendary post-punk Gang of Four will release a new album, What Happens Next, on February 24, 2015 on Metropolis Records in the USA and Canada, and Membran in Europe. The follow-up to the band's 2011 album Content, What Happens Next features collaborations with Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Robbie Furze from The Big Pink, Gail Ann Dorsey, German superstar Herbert Grönemeyer and Japanese superstar Hotei. Gang of Four's lineup for this album is Andy Gill (guitar), John "Gaoler" Sterry (vocals), Thomas McNiece (bass) and Jonny Finnegan (drums).

The first album without vocalist Jon King, What Happens Next refers to both the outside world and the band itself: an emphatic commitment to the future. "The focus is more on universal issues, like how individuals behave in certain ways or how our world is constructed, than local issues or current affairs," says founding guitarist and songwriter Andy Gill. "Gang of Four is anything but parochial." When King left the project, a reinvigorated Gill seized the opportunity to re-imagine Gang of Four from the ground up. The new album is an unexpected twist that still operates as the next logical step for the legendary post-punk band.

Sandwiched between Joy Division's landmark album Unknown Pleasures and Led Zeppelin's iconic IV, Gang of Four's debut Entertainment! sits at #8 on Pitchfork's Top 100 of the 1970s, proclaiming it "caustic and bursting with disgust for unethical capitalism, opportunist politicians and consumer society, among other things, but it's also crafted with amazing pop sensibility - and is, of course, remarkably danceable." Earlier this year, that same album was found on Kurt Cobain's handwritten list of favorite albums. Echoing the singular importance of the band's impact on music, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello told Rolling Stone this past July 2014 that "there's no one more influential on my guitar playing than Andy Gill." Having been named a massive influence by many artists including Bloc Party, R.E.M., The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, The Rapture, Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem, among hundreds of others, Gang of Four's legacy continues not by being frozen in a moment in time, but by constant evolution while remaining true to the original spirit of the band.

The band will tour in North America in March 2015 - current tour dates follow:
03-03 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
03-04 Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts
03-06 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
03-07 New York, NY - Irving Plaza (Tickets are $35)
03-09 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
03-10 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
03-12 Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater
03-13 Chicago, IL - Park West
03-14 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
03-15 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
03-17 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live Studio
03-18 Dallas, TX - Trees
03-23 San Francisco, CA - The Independent
03-24 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
03-25 Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
03-28 Santa Ana, CA - Burgerama @ The Observatory

Gang of Four

Animal Years (Brooklyn Roots Rock) Open for Robert Randolph and The Family Band @ Brooklyn Bowl on Nov. 28th

Animal Years (Brooklyn Roots Rock) Open for Robert Randolph and The Family Band @ Brooklyn Bowl on Nov. 28th
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 is filming a song for Charged.fm Live on Tuesday, Nov. 25th. This taping is at 1PM @ 10 Jay Street, Suite 206 and the website to RSVP is CHARGED.FM/LIVE. The band is then opening for Robert Randolph and The Family Band at Brooklyn Bowl on Nov. 28th. For the Brooklyn Bowl show, advance tickets are $20. Doors are at 6PM and the show starts at 8PM.

Animal Years

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Los Campesinos! (Indie/Twee Pop) Announce New Festive EP 'A Los Campesinos! Christmas'

Los Campesinos! (Indie/Twee Pop) Announce New Festive EP 'A Los Campesinos! Christmas'
Effervescent malcontents Los Campesinos! have temporarily removed themselves from the balmy fireside to release this limited edition slice of hot seasonal wax, A Los Campesinos! Christmas. The EP and 12-inch feature five Los Campesinos! carols, as well as a cover of Mud's #1 holiday hit "Lonely This Christmas." Produced by Tom Campesinos! and mixed by long-time collaborator John Goodmanson, A Los Campesinos! Christmas is an instant classic, ready-made to enter the limited canon of great seasonal releases.

Track List:
1. When Christmas Comes
2. A Doe To A Deer
3. The Holly and The Ivy
4. Kindle A Flame In Her Heart
5. The Trains Don't Run (It's Christmas Day)
6. Lonely This Christmas

A Los Campesinos! Christmas will be in select record shops beginning December 8th via Turnstile/Heart Swells, or available to pre-order direct from the band at http://loscampesinos.inktankmerch.com from 2pm ET. All pre-orders from Los Campesinos!' site will come with an especially designed Los Campesinos! Christmas Card, hand-signed by the band.

Los Campesinos! have a handful of UK gigs scheduled this month into next:
*with support from Trust Fund

Los Campesinos!

X-Drive - 'Get Your Rock On' CD Review (Frontiers Records)

X-Drive - 'Get Your Rock On' CD Review (Frontiers Records)
When I was growing up, 80’s arena rock was the staple of FM radio so it was very easy to enjoy the debut release from California’s X-Drive, Get Your Rock On (Frontiers Records), The band’s sound is comparable to Night Ranger and both the Paul Rodgers and Brian Howe fronted lineups of Bad Company – most of the disc is comprised of bluesy hard-rock songs with melodic hooks, killer guitar solos and big harmonies on the choruses.

X-Drive is the brain child of previously unknown guitarist Jeremy Brunner and he has brought an all-star cast of musicians along to the party. The other members of X-Drive are vocalist Keith St. John (x-Montrose, Quiet Riot), bassist James Lomenzo (both he and St. John were in Lynch Mob at the time they came on-board) and drummer Fred Fischer (from the grunge band Midline). The disc was co-produced by Andy Johns (along with Brunner), who is well familiar with the sound of this era having produced/engineered bands that ranged from Led Zeppelin and Free to Van Halen and L.A. Guns.

The disc starts with a swaggering, hard-rock number “Love’s A Bitch” where St. John’s vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to Paul Rodgers and Brunner tosses off licks that sound like they could have come out of Eddie Van Halen’s playbook. Changing the groove a bit on the third track, “Steppin’ On The Rock” is a darker, grungy song whose sound falls somewhere between Krokus and Alice in Chains.

X-Drive switches gears with the obligatory rock ballad, “Baby Bye Bye”, which, thankfully, still has a bit of ‘teeth’. “Baby Bye Bye” is a breakup song which features emotive vocals from St. John along with a nice guitar solo toward the end of the track and sounds a bit like something Bon Jovi would have written. Bringing the tempo back up, this number is followed by the disc’s first single, “California”. This track is a laid-back, ‘summer’ number which prominently features big, big hooks and melodic vocals with big harmonies on the chorus (you’ll likely be thinking of Night Ranger after listening to this one).

The back-half of the disc picks the pace back up with some hard-rockers that bring to mind bands such as Whitesnake, Foreigner and Bad Company. Some of the highlights include the power ballad “Fly Beyond the Angels”, where Brunner’s soaring guitar line and St. John’s emotive vocals carry the song. “Just Can’t Stay” is a Whitesnake style blues-rocker with a slow, driving beat which are broken up by tempo changes on the chorus. The disc ends with the wailing blues rocker, “Love Breaks the Fool”, which brings to mind old-school Bad Co.

It is somewhat funny to think that that – 30 years after the fact – someone (Brunner) could solidly nail the sounds of 80’s arena rock. James Lomenzo said “It was such a pleasure to contribute to Jeremy's effort! He has written and crafted an incredible homage to the style of the 80's rock, a style that I cut my teeth on back in the day…His love for the era and style really comes through in a surprisingly satisfying way.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Red Fang Releases Animated Video for "Crows in Swine" / Show at Terminal 5 on Dec. 18th with Opeth and In Flames

Red Fang Releases Animated Video for "Crows in Swine" / Show at Terminal 5 on Dec. 18th with Opeth and In Flames
Last week, Red Fang premiered their new video for “Crows In Swine,” the third single off the Portland-based rock group’s critically acclaimed third album Whales and Leeches (Relapse).

For this new animated video, Red Fang was looking to move away from doing the same type of clips they’ve been known for in the past and create something different this time around. For the “Crows In Swine” video, the group teamed with renowned animator Adam Avilla to direct. Adam came up with the barbarian concept and each band member came up with their own secret weapons for the clip.

“I am blown away by the video Adam made for us,” says Red Fang guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles. “It's brutally cute. I wish I was as cool as the character I am in it in real life. Recliners, sausage, guitars and kittens!!

Red Fang also announced they’ll join the “Communion of Sirens” tour with Opeth and In Flames and the tour will kick off December 3 in Chicago. The local tour stop is at Terminal 5 on Dec. 18th. Tickets are $35 and doors are at 6:30PM.

Red Fang Tour Dates:
*Dec 3 - 21 with Opeth & In Flames*

Dec 03 - Chicago, IL - Riviera Theater
Dec 04 - Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Nights
Dec 05 - Omaha, NE - Sokol Auditorium
Dec 06 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
Dec 08 - San Francisco, CA - Warfield Theater
Dec 09 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Palladium
Dec 10 - Tempe, AZ - The Marquee
Dec 12 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live Ballroom
Dec 13 - Dallas, TX - Gas Monkey Live
Dec 14 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone Cafe (Red Fang only)
Dec 15 - Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle
Dec 16 - Raleigh, NC - King’s Barcade (Red Fang only)
Dec 17 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
Dec 18 - New York, NY - Terminal 5
Dec 19 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium
Dec 20 - Montreal, QC - Metropolis
Dec 21 - Toronto, ON - Kool Haus
Jan 01 - Leavenworth, WA - Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival

Red Fang

Militia Vox (Judas Priestess) Plays Black Rock Coalition Show at Littlefield on Friday, Nov. 21st along with Members of The Roots, Fishbone and Earl Greyhound

Militia Vox (Judas Priestess) Plays Black Rock Coalition Show at Littlefield on Friday, Nov. 21st along with Members of The Roots, Fishbone and Earl Greyhound
"Also known as MilitiA., this ferocious female is a solo artist, frontwoman of JUDAS PRIESTESS- the world's only all girl tribute to the metal gods Judas Priest, lead singer/songwriter of progressive hard rock band SWEAR ON YOUR LIFE, leading lady of DEE SNIDER's heavy metal horror orchestra "VAN HELSING'S CURSE" and known as the "Rock Goddess" of the Brooklyn based AFROPUNK movement." -- from Militia's bio.

Militia released an EP of covers last month, "Bait", that features reinterpretations of songs from artists that range from Ozzy and Nine Inch Nail to Tool and PJ Harvey. In a recent interview with Vents Magazine, Vox described "Bait" as "the 1st half of my concept project called “The Villainess.” Bait is my poison apple to the public, a way to entice and seduce listeners via songs and artists that they already know and love… As well being a form of flattery to the artists that I’ve covered and admire. I’ve been in original bands since 1997 and always had much more of a reaction doing covers, especially with Judas Priestess. So this is my way to warm up listeners to prepare for my next album (The Villainess) which is all originals. That’ll happen in 2015."

Militia Vox is playing the Black Rock Coalition showcase at Littlefield in Brooklyn on Friday, Nov. 21st. This show also includes The Dust Rays (Kirk Douglas, Mark Kelley and Ricc Sheridan) and Year of the Dragon (feat. Dirty Walt from Fishbone). Tickets are $12, doors are at 10:30PM and Vox takes the stage at 11PM.

Militia Vox

Friday, November 14, 2014

CANCELED: Kai Altair and The Mermaids (Electronic Rock) Are Hosting the 5th Annual Mermaid Lagoon Ocean Benefit in Williamsburg on 12/4

Nov. 18 Update: This show has been canceled due to architectural issues at the venue.  The benefit will be rescheduled for sometime early next year.

Kai Altair and The Mermaids (Electronic Rock) Are Hosting the 5th Annual Mermaid Lagoon Ocean Benefit in Williamsburg on 12/4
"Backed by deep beats, percussion, and resonant frequencies, Kai Altair’s voice weaves rich melodies through electronics and live instrumentation. With music called ‘hypnotic’ by SoundCloud, and hailed by CBS News as a ‘modern day mermaid,’ Kai is influenced by transformational culture, myth, and dreams when creating music and multimedia stage shows." -- Kai Altair's bio

Brooklyn atmospheric electronic rock artist Kai Altair and The Mermaids of NYC will be hosting their 5th annual Mermaid Lagoon ocean benefit show in Williamsburg on 12/4. Proceeds will be donated to Riverkeeper and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation organization.

The ocean benefit variety show features musicians, dancers, circus performers, and interactive art installations. All cast members are from NYC and share a talent for telling stories through performance - many of them are members of Lady Circus and hail from Brooklyn's circus venue House of Yes. This event is co-produced with Dr. Debra Tillinger (climate change educator at the American Natural History Museum) and Ali Luminescent (one of the official "Mermaids of Coney Island").

The show is Thursday, December 4th (Doors @ 9PM) and will be held at The Muse in Williamsburg (32D South 1st St). Tickets are available now and range between $15 - $25.

Mermaid Lagoon Ocean Benefit
Kai Altair

Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) - Deluxe Edition CD Review (Rhino)

Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) - Deluxe Edition CD Review (Rhino)
I’m generally suspicious of reissues as, too often, it seems as an excuse to sell the musically obsessive a second copy of a disc by slapping on some random bonus tracks on to the end of the album. Putting my pre-conceived bias aside, I found the reissue of Led Zeppelin IV to be somewhat of a mixed bag – though I may in a small minority with this opinion as this disc is currently #7 on the Billboard sales chart.

The 2CD deluxe edition of Led Zeppelin IV is similar to many of the other Zeppelin reissues where the original album is on Disc 1 and an ‘alternate’ version of the album is on Disc 2. In comparing the original album to a previous version of this CD, this new release sounds brighter. One of the key differentiators with this new release is that the instruments and separation between the instruments sounds clearer - the crisp sound of the bass and drums is immediately noticeable.

My reservation with this reissue is the bonus disc as there just isn’t a “wow” factor. This second disc runs 41 minutes (as compared to the main disc’s 43 minutes) which is comprised of 6 full-band alternate versions of songs from the main disc and two instrumentals. I can’t figure out the point of the instrumentals as why would someone want to listen to “The Battle of Evermore” and “Going to California” without Plant’s vocals? (Karaoke anyone?) Aside for 1+ minutes being chopped out “The Battle of Evermore”, there really isn’t a noticeable difference between these versions and the finished versions. Things get a bit more interesting with the Sunset Sound mix of “Stairway to Heaven”. This version was recorded at Los Angeles’ Sunset Sound Recorders during the summer of 1971 and the mix brings out some subtle nuances in the instrumentation.

The demo version of “Four Sticks” is noticeably different than the finalized version as this demo version ‘pops’ with an energy and rawness. While the differences aren’t quite as noticeable, this same rawness can also be heard on “When the Levee Breaks”. The basic take of “Black Dog” is also noticeable different than the final studio version as this version is clearly unmixed, has a different, more sustained guitar line and seems to include some additional vocals (including some bum notes). For the remaining songs, my ears couldn’t tell the difference between the two versions.

Led Zeppelin

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Bugs In The Dark Announces New EP 'Cross My Heart Little Death' Out Nov. 18th / Release Party at Union Pool on Nov. 21st

Affixing a genre label to a band is always a dubious proposition as there really isn't a clear definition of what labels like (i.e.) indie-rock and post-rock mean. About 20 years ago, I heard an interview with Perry Farrell and he was asked what he thought of comparisons between Jane's Addiction and The Doors. His response was that he didn't hear the comparison but he understood that writers have to give the reader a reference point for them to 'achor' their expectations for a given band's sound. With that in mind, in previous posts, I had labeled Brooklyn's Bugs in the Dark as 'art-punk' (sort of Pylon meets early Hole), though there was a bit of dark wave on the band's 2011 release Hang It on the Wall. With Bugs in the Dark's new disc, I found it interesting to read that PopMatters described the band's sound as being "at the intersection of indie rock and occult rock".

Having toured with bands such as Jeff The Brotherhood, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, and Japanther, Bugs in the Dark has been described as "The future of New York City music" by The Deli Magazine. The band is playing release show for the new EP on Nov. 21st at Union Pool. Cover for this show is $8 and Bugs in the Dark are sharing the bill with Brooklyn's Haybaby ("Weird and magnetic stuff" - Time Out New York).

Bugs in the Dark

Friday, November 07, 2014

Cursive Releases Deluxe Edition of 'The Ugly Organ' on Nov. 24th / Shows at Bowery Ballroom in March '15

Cursive Releases Deluxe Edition of 'The Ugly Organ' on Nov. 24th / Shows at Bowery Ballroom in March '15Cursive has announced additional dates of their Winter 2015 tour that begins on February 10th in Denver, CO and includes a two-night stop at Bowery Ballroom on March 10 and 11th.

The tour will follow the November 24, 2014 release of an expanded, deluxe edition reissue of Cursive's 2003 breakthrough album The Ugly Organ via Saddle Creek, and each night's setlist will feature songs culled from across the band's seven albums - including their most recent, 2012's I Am Gemini - in addition to drawing heavily from The Ugly Organ. A cellist will also accompany the band throughout the tour to perform on all songs from that album's era. A current itinerary is below.

The Ugly Organ (Deluxe Edition) [Remastered] will be available on 2xCD and 2xLP 180-gram vinyl, with eight additional tracks on the accompanying disc. These tracks - written during the same sessions as and originally intended for The Ugly Organ - were previously found across the band's 2002 split with Eastern Youth, 8 Teeth To Eat You, their 'Art Is Hard' and 'The Recluse' singles, and the Saddle Creek 50 compilation. The packaging for both the 2xCD and 2xLP includes a booklet with extensive liner notes comprised of rare photos, original artwork drafts, handwritten lyrics, a list of all tour dates from the era, and an introduction written by Kyle Ryan of The AV Club. A pre-order is now available via the Saddle Creek webstore, while a stream of "Am I Not Yours? [Remastered]," first released on 8 Teeth To Eat You, can now be heard and is shared above.

From the maniacal opening notes and carnival barker howl that launch the album, The Ugly Organ wasted no time searing itself into a listener's ears and quickly established Cursive as a musical force with which to be reckoned. The album arrived three years after the underground success of their 2000 LP Cursive's Domestica, which introduced frontman Tim Kasher's particularly confessional and conceptual songwriting style, and saw him delving even further into and refining that craft. A self-aware examination of artistic constraints (or lack thereof), relationships, sex, and the intersection of all three, The Ugly Organ wowed critics and audiences alike with its cerebral, cathartic blend of songs that are alternately hushed and restrained, riotous and dissonant. Fiercely intelligent and cohesive - the liner notes laid the songs out like a play, complete with stage directions - across its diverse sonic landscape, the album landed Cursive on the Sunday Arts and Leisure section cover of The New York Times (which also called it "a marvelous collection of riddles and left turns, conceived as a single piece of musical theater") and earned accolades from Rolling Stone ("a brilliant leap forward"), Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, Alternative Press (★★★★★), MAGNET ("The best punk record you'll hear all year"), Esquire, and SPIN, among many others, as well as a place on numerous year-end best lists.

The Ugly Organ feels as vibrant and vital today as it did upon release more than 10 years ago. A landmark album, it not only catapulted Cursive from the simmering indie underground to the forefront of a genre, and was the second Saddle Creek album to break the 100,000 sold mark, but also served to inspire a host of young bands in its wake.

Cursive Tour Dates:


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Roger Hodgson (Supertramp Co-Founder) Announces Fall Tour / Deluxe Edition of 'Crime of the Century' Out Dec. 9th

Roger Hodgson (Supertramp Co-Founder) Announces Fall Tour / Deluxe Edition of 'Crime of the Century' Out Dec. 9th
Roger Hodgson, vocalist and singer-songwriter from Supertramp, is heading back to North America for a series of fall dates. Following extensive tours of Europe and Brazil, Hodgson kicks off his North America tour on November 4 in Wabash, Indiana and hits New York on November 11th.

Hodgson co-founded the progressive rock band Supertramp in 1969 and was the driving force behind what fans call the "golden years" of the band that made Supertramp a worldwide phenomenon. He wrote, sang, and arranged the enduring rock standards such as "Breakfast in America," "Give a Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home," "The Logical Song," "Dreamer," "It's Raining Again," "School," and "Fool's Overture."

Accompanied by a four-piece band, Roger Hodgson continues to perform all his hits he wrote and later recorded with Supertramp plus other classics of his such as "Child of Vision," "Hide in Your Shell," "Sister Moonshine," and "Even in the Quietest Moments," plus favorites from his solo albums - "Only Because of You," "Lovers in the Wind," and "In Jeopardy" - many of which can be found on his current CD release, Classics Live.

Uniting generations, Hodgson is transporting baby boomers back to their youth while giving younger concertgoers a taste of why his heartfelt songs have endured. In fact, this year marks the 40th Anniversary of Crime of the Century, released in September 1974. Hodgson's song, "Dreamer," became Supertramp's first international runaway hit, driving the album to the top of the charts. "School," "Hide in Your Shell," and "If Everyone Was Listening" are also fan favorites from the album that Hodgson wrote and composed and often plays in concert.

Roger's shows give North American audiences the opportunity to once again experience the magic and spirit that Hodgson created with Supertramp.

Roger Hodgson North America Tour Dates:
November 4 - Wabash, IN - Honeywell Center
November 6 - Detroit, MI - MotorCity Casino Hotel
November 7 - Niagara Falls, NY - Seneca Niagara Falls Casino and Resort
November 8 - Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse
November 9 - Bethlehem, PA - Sands Bethlehem Event Center
November 11 - Huntington, NY - The Paramount (Tickets range between $40 and $120)
November 14 and 15 - Rama, ON, Canada - Casino Rama

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary since its release in 1974, Crime of the Century features the cream of Rick Davies' and Roger Hodgson's songwriting, and was the first of the many peaks in Supertramp's illustrious career; an album that had everything to prove and tunes that effortlessly straddled the world of pure pop and progressive rock. The significant change that happened with Supertramp on this album was that Hodgson and Davies had each found their strength as songwriters and were writing alone. With the unmistakable blend of the two songwriters – Davies' and Hodgson's work, it married the sweetness of Hodgson's "Dreamer" -- the band's first big hit single -- with the grit of Davies' similarly beloved "Bloody Well Right".

This 40th Anniversary edition will be released December 9 in the US and contains the classic original album, remastered by Ray Staff at Air Studios, and a second disc features the band’s 1975 Hammersmith Odeon concert, mixed from the original tapes by original on-the-night engineer Ken Scott. It captures the band on the verge of stardom, showcasing all of Crime, and also previewing tracks from the then-as-yet-unreleased follow-up, Crisis? What Crisis? The LP eventually peaked at Number 4 on the UK charts and saw the band on the US Top 40 for the first time.

Dreamer also became the band's first hit single. "I'm fortunate to have written songs that have become hits without ever trying to write one," Hodgson says. "I've never sat down and said 'OK I'm going to write a hit song.' Inspiration comes in many different ways. Usually it comes when I get out of the way losing myself in the sound of the instrument I am playing – it's almost like being in a meditative state. With Dreamer, the inspiration was born out of excitement and just erupted out of me." Hodgson continues, "Looking back, it was quite serendipitous that as a young songwriter with so many dreams I had my first hit with a song named Dreamer. It was certainly a thrill to hear it being played all over the radio. Creating our reality, I've since realised, often starts with our dreams."

Roger Hodgson

Nero Di Marte - 'Derivae' CD Review (Prosthetic Records) [Post-Rock/Atmospheric Metal]

Nero Di Marte - 'Derivae' CD Review (Prosthetic Records) [Post-Rock/Atmospheric Metal]
Even though I’ve got a large stack of releases that I’m hoping to get through before the end of the year, Italian post-rock/atmospheric metal band Nero Di Marte’s sophomore release, Derivae (released Oct. 28th – Prosthetic), has already earned a spot on my ‘best of’ list for this year.

Nero Di Marte’s sound falls somewhere between The Ocean, Isis and early Pink Floyd. Derivae was recorded 100% in analog which allows the band sonic space to build their epic soundscapes – most of which clock in around the eight minute mark. The band chose to record in analog so “we could develop and commit to atmospheres and sounds while recording instead of thinking about how this guitar effect or that part should sound while mixing. It makes it a little bit more true to how we are when we actually play as a band, without the challenges of doing a live recording”. (from interview with Invisible Oranges).

The disc starts with “L’Eclisse”, which starts with crashing dark and ominous guitar chords which build up to a claustrophobic wave of sound over which drummer Marco Bolognini adds powerful drum fills. Guitarist/vocalist Sean Worrell utilizes a range of vocals across this disc and, on this song, his Italian baritone sounds a bit like Moonspell vocalist Fernando Ribeiro. The band shifts gears with the third track, “Pulsar”, where Worrell’s whaling vocals are featured up-front in the mix and Bolognini’s drumming takes on a tribal beat. There are a number of rises and falls in the music, including one where Worrell’s vocals are whispered over this tribal beat and the song closes with a moody, “Pink Floydish” outro.

Some of the other highlights on the disc are “Il Diluvio” and the 10+ minute final track “Those Who Leave”. “Il Diluvio” is a dark, almost doom number with a big post-rock sound. This song features big, crashing guitar chords and vocals beneath the wall of sound. This sonic swirl slows down toward the end to get more atmospheric. “Il Diluvio” is very “Pink Floydish” with its electronic burble of sounds. The guitar is slowly added in and vocals are a chant below the instrumentation. A major portion of this song is instrumental and this number ends where it started, with an instrumental outro.

Nero Di Marte

Friday, October 31, 2014

'Alone in North America' (featuring The Morning After Girls) Movie Review

STREAM: the morning after girls - "alone"

'Alone in North America' (featuring The Morning After Girls) Movie Review
Touring has to be grueling for an indie band...there are many stories about the tempers, tensions and breakups that come from the forced 'co-habitation' of band mates for long hours at a time in small touring vans. The documentary "Alone in North America" follows the Australia-to-Brooklyn-to-Australia neo-psychedelic outfit, The Morning After Girls on their U.S. tour in support of their most recent release, alone.

"Alone in North America" premiered earlier this month at the CBGB Music and Film Festival and this short film gives a 'you were there' perspective of life on the road which is combined with concert footage from various tour stops.  Director David Hilbert does an excellent job of capturing the desolate, wide-open spaces of (presumably) middle-America along with footage of the band members interacting in what seems to be a very small touring van as the band drives from gig to gig.  The 'road picture' footage is intermixed with some killer live performance, which include the previously unreleased song, "Corruption".

It is somewhat amusing that The Morning After Girls' bassist EJ Hagan had the following to say about the film: "I was like, 'You made a movie?'...I thought maybe it would be something on a website or something people could view on YouTube. I didn't expect the festival."

One of the pull quotes for the movie stated "To trust someone is to allow them to be everything they are" and the viewer can quickly see the friendship the band members have formed being out on the road together.  The "...departures, arrivals and deportations"  occurred more recently as half the band is back in Australia due to visa issues but the members are currently working on their next disc.

For anyone who isn't familiar with The Morning After Girls' sound, vocalist Sacha Lucashenko clearly summed up his views on the band's sound in a 2012 interview with The Big Takeover:

The Big Takeover: Do you get tired of comparisons to typical psych bands such as Spaceman 3 or Brian Jonestown Massacre, or are you used to it? I myself hear bits of Oasis, The Verve, and Engineers in your vocals, especially in the dynamics of quiet and loud across the record. Can you expound a bit on this?

Sacha: Those psych comparisons are really boring for us – especially when regarding Alone. It almost guarantees the journalist or whoever concerned hasn’t even listened to it. You’re right, I’d draw more comparisons to the ones you’ve mentioned. Also modern classical composers like Arvo Part and Gyorgi Ligeti were major influences. Plus the rock records that were coming out by New Order, Interpol, and Oasis in the early 2000’s. That was a great period for consistent albums coming out from bands. I just think we sound a lot like The Morning After Girls.

The Morning After Girls

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Grayces (Nashville Grunge/Pysch) Guest Editorial on Touring / CMJ Shows at Bowery Electric on Oct. 21st / Day Show at Spike Hill on Oct. 24th

The Grayces (Nashville Grunge/Pysch) Guest Editorial on Touring / Shows at Bowery Electric on Oct. 21st / Day Show at Spike Hill on Oct. 24th
The road. The road is a treacherous place for a heart set in its ways and a mind filled with the assumptions of inexperience.

Lets see...what can I say about traveling on the road as a musician? Always be prepared for just about anything. Take time to research and learn about the places you are going. Never assume you know about a place or its people based solely on what somebody else has told you. Don't get discouraged if something doesn't go to plan or something goes wrong. Fall in love with the process.

As musician folk, we can fall into a mundane pattern of show-to-show city-to-city tunnel vision when touring on the road. I commend the focus based around the main point of putting on a killer show but I do believe there is a lot to gain between the dots. For instance, taking some time to find out what a town has to offer, besides just the venue you are playing at can be quite rewarding for all involved. While we were touring through St. Louis we had researched and decided to visit The City Museum. Best idea ever! This place was literally an interactive art piece designed to be a playground for all ages. I hadn't felt that free since I was 7 years old. There was a point I was clapping my hands smiling and screaming weeeeeeeeeee as I slid down a couple story-twisting slide in the midst of a beautiful sculpture. This shared experience brought us closer together as a band and made for a killer show later that night. If we didn't take the time to understand the city we were in, we would have never found this place. I recommend it to all.

We had never played in Detroit until we scheduled a show as a stop for this tour. I heard so many stories and opinions about Detroit prior to our arrival. Stories of deluged danger. Let me tell you, don’t take to heart everything you hear. The people of Detroit were some of the most enjoyable, kind, generous and easygoing folk we’ve met on this tour. All those stories we heard turned out to be 100% not applicable. I am so glad we didn’t listen to outside opinions and stuck to our gut, which was telling us “Go…go to Detroit.” It made for a wonderful memory with wonderful people.

Sometimes things do not go to plan when you’re on the road but don’t freak out. Our show scheduled in inner city Chicago was a wash. Let’s just say it wasn’t worth the efforts we put into it and leave it at that. Discouraged by the evening, we drove back to where we were staying in the burbs. When we arrived back to our place of rest for the evening, our friends 2 smiling faces greeted us with some good news not knowing the horrible night we had. They had sent out to a local record shop to see if we could play an in-store while we were in town, they had accepted and it was all set up. This off the cuff show was a great success! We met many wonderful people and now have the proper connections to have successful shows in and outside the city next time we come through. The road has many hidden gems if your open to the flow of what it throws at you.

In conclusion, what I am trying to say, is the more you open yourself up to the diverse possibilities of the road the larger your chance of developing the ability of widened perspective. This will aid in the successful capturing of once elusive beauties and new points of view. If you take time to notice life as you are living it, you will always have more than you started with. I believe, as a musician, it is important to gain these experiences, as it is essential for creating music that gives back to your audience with the honesty of true experience. Taking the good with the bad, learning and never letting it defeat your forward motion of predestination - that is life on the road.

-Thoughts on the road brought to you by Iz Stone of The Grayces somewhere between Pennsylvania and New York City-

The Grayces

Brainstorm - 'Firestorm' CD Review (AFM Records)

Brainstorm - 'Firestorm' CD Review (AFM Records)
While German power metalers Brainstorm’s tenth disc, Firesoul (AFM Records), came out earlier this year, I never got a chance to put my thoughts about the disc on ‘paper’. After the local Judas Priest show, I was reflecting that Brainstorm’s new disc captures a lot of the elements that were missing on Judas Priest’s most recent release so I thought I should finally sit down and knock out a review.

Brainstorm’s core sound falls solidly into the power metal genre but the band extends this sound to include elements of NWOBHM with the down-tuned dual lead guitars of Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, light orchestral elements along with a little bit of prog, which includes clean, technical guitar solos. Adding to this, Andy B. Franck’s raspy but melodic vocals are directly comparable to artists like Rob Halford or Bruce Dickenson though Franck never goes for the high-end scream.

The disc starts with “Erased By the Dark”, which is an old-school power metal number that is powered by some breakneck drumming and the band just picks up the pace from here. The title track, “Firesoul”, is the next cut and this track is a bit more aggressive. This number focuses around driving guitar riffs and dual NWOBHM guitar leads and the vocals match this intensity.

One of the many standout numbers is “Entering Solitude”, which is a slower number than the disc openers. This track has a ‘classic rock’/AOR feel centered around clean melodic guitar lines, soaring vocals on the chorus and a melodic guitar solo toward the back-half of the song. This number is followed by “Recall The Real”, which really changes up the pace with its Gregorian choral intro and outro. After this ethereal opening, this slow burning number kicks into high-gear with staccato guitar riffs which are accompanied by soaring vocals and meaty, melodic choruses.

Looking at some of the other tracks, “Feed Me Lies” is a return to the aggressive and driving sounds of the disc’s opener and this track is the one that stuck with me after a few spins of the disc. “The Chosen” is the closest that Brainstorm comes to ‘traditional’ power metal as the keys are higher in the mix for this number and the riffs are downplayed in favor of orchestral flourishes. The soaring choruses are a notable standout along with the very clean guitar lines, which include a technical power-prog solo. The disc wraps up with “…And I Wonder”, which is another AOR rocker and the minimal instrumentation allows this number to be powered by Franck’s vocals.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

At the Gates Release 'Death and the Labyrinth' Video from Forthcoming Release 'At War With Reality' (Century Media)

At the Gates Release 'Death and the Labyrinth' Video from Forthcoming Release 'At War With Reality' (Century Media)
Not to be a total fanboy geek but...meeting At The Gates was one of the highlights for me of MDF 2014. The band's studio followup to 1995's Slaughter of the Soul, entitled At War with Reality, will be released in North America on Monday, Oct. 27th. Similar to last year's comeback album from Carcass, Century Media is releasing this disc in a number of different formats and on different color vinyl.

At War With Reality is available in the following versions:
- Jewelcase CD (20 page booklet)
- Digipak CD (20 page booklet; 2 bonus tracks; patch)
- Cassette (limited to 500 copies worldwide)
- Digital download
- Gatefold 180gr. LP (20 page booklet; poster)
- Ltd. mediabook CD (40 page booklet; 2 bonus tracks; patch)
- Ltd. 3-disc artbook (48 page booklet; 4 bonus tracks; 5.1 surround mix DVD; patch) - limited to 3000 copies
- Ltd. 2x10" boxset (20 page booklet; poster) - limited to 1000 copies worldwide via CM Distro

The limited edition mediabook and digipak format will include the bonus tracks "Language Of The Dead" and "The Skin Of A Fire", as well as a vintage ATG-logo patch. The 3-disc artbook format will also include the patch and those same two bonus tracks, as well as a demo version of "Eater Of Gods" and a cover version of "Re-Animation" by Canadian cult thrash metallers Sacrifice. The 3rd disc is an exclusive bonus DVD featuring a special 5.1 surround mix of the album.

The 12" LP format will be available in the following colored vinyl editions:
- Black (unlimited)
- Transparent red (limited to 300 copies via CM Webshop EU)
- Dark green (limited to 500 copies via CM Distro EU)
- Clear (limited to 500 copies in Sweden)
- Lilac marble (limited to 100 copies via CM Distro USA) *sold out*
- Blue marble (limited to 200 copies via CM Distro USA) *sold out*
- Magenta marble (limited to 200 copies via CM Distro USA) *sold out*
- Ash grey marble (limited to 500 copies via CM Distro USA)
- Silver (limited to 400 copies in the USA)
- Gold (limited to 1500 copies in the USA)
- White (limited to 100 copies; exclusive 2015 MDF edition in the USA)

In advance of the release, At The Gates has now debuted a video for the album track "Death And The Labyrinth" which was directed by Patric Ullaeus (IN FLAMES, ARCH ENEMY, LACUNA COIL, etc.).

Tomas Lindberg (vocals) comments: "We had a very special idea about the kind of approach we wanted for the first video from 'At War With Reality'. What we needed was someone gifted enough to throw himself artistically into the project full on. The lyrics to the song are very multi-layered and surreal, so we wanted someone to create a fevered dreamworld that went with the melancholic frustration and dramatic desperation that we feel comes across in the song. This is exactly what Patric has created for us. It's his vision of the music and lyrics, which compliments the track perfectly in my opinion. I couldn't be happier!"

Director Patric Ullaeus adds: "It's always nice to work with creative artists who are like-minded. Ideas seem to flow easily. We had a lot of fun making our vision come true. Being on these amazing locations in Antelope Canyon, Arizona was truly an unforgettable experience."

At The Gates