Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - White Lunar CD Review (Mute)

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - White Lunar CD ReviewNick Cave and long-time The Bad Seeds/Grinderman/The Dirty Three collaborator Warren Ellis have released a hauntingly beautiful 2-CD set of predominately instrumental soundscapes. This set is compiles tracks from various soundtracks that Cave & Ellis have scored over the last five years along with four previously unreleased pieces from the Cave & Ellis archives.

Disc One contains selections from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Proposition (2005), and the forthcoming The Road (which is based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of a father and son's trek across a vast wasteland in the aftermath of global catastrophe). While the song arrangements are fairly minimalist, Nick Cave winds piano melodies around Warren Ellis' violin to create a warm but desolate landscape. Cave sings on "The Rider Song" and provides whispered vocals on "The Rider No. 2" (both from The Proposition) and both of these songs could easily fit with later-day material from The Bad Seeds.

Disc Two is a bit more eclectic and perhaps schizophrenic; it contains material from two lesser known documentaries along with the four tracks from the vaults. The two documentaries are The English Surgeon (2007) which traces Dr. Henry Marsh's struggle to bring neurosurgery to post-Soviet Ukraine and The Girls of Phnom Penh (2009) which is an investigative documentary of sex workers in Cambodia's "virginity trade". The material on this disc is claustrophobic, urban and (at times) intense. The four vault tracks fit within this musical structure and all of the tracks are named after craters. While all of the tracks are solid compositions, "Daedalus" is one of the more interesting as it segues from a sunny flute and piano-driven piece into a jagged hidden-track instrumental.

While instrumentals never seem to get a lot of repeat play, this set may well replace Sunn O)))'s Monoliths & Dimensions in my late-night listening queue.

Nick Cave

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cinderella: Live at the Mohegan Sun (Frontier Records)

Cinderella: Live at the Mohegan Sun (Frontier Records)This disc was recorded on the Rock Never Stops tour at Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut on July 21, 2005. This isn't a (completely) new recording as a recording from this show first surfaced in 2006 as Cinderella: Extended Versions, which was a 'nice price' domestic CD.

The hook with this new rerelease is that is contains three bonus tracks ("Falling Apart At The Seams", "Push Push", and "Still Climbing" which were cut from the Extended Versions CD. The downside is that these three tracks are appended to the end of the disc so you never get to here the true running order of the concert.

If you are so motivated to rearrange the tracks to match the true running order, here is one of the set lists from the Rock Never Stops tour:

Night Songs (From 1986's Night Music)
The Last Mile (From 1988's Long Cold Winter)
Somebody Save Me (From 1986's Night Music)
Still Climbing (From 1994's Still Climbing)
Push Push (From 1986's Night Music)
Heartbreak Station (From 1990's Heartbreak Station)
Coming Home (From 1988's Long Cold Winter)
Fallin' Apart At The Seams >> Drum Solo (From 1988's Long Cold Winter)
Shelter Me (From 1990's Heartbreak Station)
Nobody's Fool (From 1986's Night Music)
Gypsy Road (From 1988's Long Cold Winter)

Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) (From 1988's Long Cold Winter)
Shake Me (From 1986's Night Music)

It is hard to write a review of what essentially amounts to a greatest hits album - what it really boils down to is that you are either a fan of the band or you aren't. With most of the set list coming from the band's first two albums, this release seems to play directly to the band's core fan base. The band sounds in top-form and, while Tom Keifer voice has been shredded for years, he also delivers a solid performance with an "Alice Cooper style" rasp.

While this isn't essential listening, Cinderella's blues-based rock has held up well through the years and this disc is certain to get repeated plays.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Lissie Plays an Early Show At Mercury Lounge on November 9th (Fat Possum)

DOWNLOAD: Lissie - Little Lovin' (MP3)

Lissie Plays an Early Show at Mercury Lounge on Nov. 9th (Fat Possum)Lissie Maurus is a singer/songwriter in the old-school tradition of Rosanne Cash and Nanci Griffth. Similar to these artists, Lissie's songs are fully developed narrative stories of love, loss and heartbreak.

Lissie's debut EP, "Why You Runnin'", is out Tuesday (on Fat Possum) and she is taking a break from the Ray LaMontagne tour to play an early show at the Mercury Lounge this Monday. Doors are at 7PM and supposedly the opening act, Aerial East, is going on at 7PM as well (which probably means 7:30PM). Lissie is listed on the Merc's website as taking the stage at 8PM. Tickets are $10.

Lissie's MySpace Profile

The Dig Headline Mercury Lounge on Nov. 19th; Pictures and Video Interview from Oct. Show at Maxwells

DOWNLOAD: The Dig - Three Song Demo

The Dig Headline Mercury Lounge on Nov. 19th; New CD Due Out Feb. '10The Dig have been gaining a lot of attention on the local rock scene and have been playing some high profile shows with both The Walkmen and White Rabbits. The Dig released an EP ("Good Luck and Games") in 2007 which one reviewer described as "short, sweet and eminently satisfying". The band just finished up their full-length debut which is due out early next year.

The band often gets compared to The Beatles crossed with one of many recent alt-rock bands (Jet and Radiohead are two of the more popular). I'm going to go in a different direction though as I was thinking more of later-day T. Rex (right around the period where Marc started embracing 'Class of '77' punk) after watching the band perform live. Whatever the comparison - The Dig's music certainly stands out from the crowd.

Here is an interview that I did with the band prior to their show with White Rabbits last month at Maxwell's.

The Dig are currently finishing some show with White Rabbits and then are back home for a headlining show at Mercury Lounge on Nov. 19th. Here is the upcoming tour dates:

Nov. 09 2009 -- 8:00PM, Cedar C.C. w/ White Rabbits, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nov. 10 2009 -- 8:00PM, Turner Hall w/ White Rabbits, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nov. 13 2009 -- 9:00PM, Lincoln Hall w/ The Walkmen, Chicago, Illinois
Nov. 14 2009 -- 8:00PM, University of Illinois w/ The Walkmen, Urbana, Illinois
Nov. 15 2009 -- 8:00PM, The Basement , Nashville, Tennessee
Nov. 16 2009 -- 8:00PM, Local 506 w/ The XX, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Nov. 17 2009 -- 8:00PM, DC9, Washington, DC
Nov. 19 2009 -- 10:00PM, Mercury Lounge, New York

Here are more of the pictures that I took at Maxwell's...

The Dig - Maxwells, Hoboken, NJ 10-11-09

The Dig - Maxwells, Hoboken, NJ 10-11-09

The Dig - Maxwells, Hoboken, NJ 10-11-09

The Dig - Maxwells, Hoboken, NJ 10-11-09

The Dig's MySpace Profile

Friday, November 06, 2009

Tournament Announce Nov/Dec Tour Dates; Show at The Charleston on Nov. 20th

DOWNLOAD: Tournament - "Washcloth", Live on WFMU 4/23/09

Tournament Announce Nov/Dec Tour Dates (Forcefield Records)Tournament's debut CD Years Old came out earlier this summer and the band kicks up a wall of noise that falls somewhere between Big Black and many of the old AmRep bands. (See previous review)

Tournament is off on a Nov/Dec tour that includes a stop at The Charleston on Nov. 20th.

Here are the upcoming tour dates:

11/07/2009 The Shop - Ithaca, NY w/ Sepsis, Hiroshima Vacation
11/08/2009 Mohawk Place - Buffalo, NY w/ Fucking Hot Lights, Co- Workers
11/09/2009 *NEED HELP!! PA / OH / MI
11/10/2009 Now That’s Class - Cleveland, OH
11/11/2009 The Bishop - Bloomington, IN w/ Racebannon
11/12/2009 Ronny’s - Chicago, IL w/ Raise The Red Lantern, Tongues, The Muzzler
11/13/2009 The Smiling Skull - Athens, OH w/ We March
11/14/2009 Jimmy’s Haus - Pittsburgh, PA w/ Virgin Birth, Secret Tombs, Red Foxx
11/15/2009 Crayola House - Harrisonburg, VA w/ Inter Arma, Kill Your Brain, Earthling
11/16/2009 The Ox - Philadelphia, PA w/ The G, Fight Amp
11/20/2009 The Charleston - Brooklyn, NY w/ Count Von Count / Ape!
12/03/2009 Pilam House - Philadelphia, PA w/ The Wayward, Regional Ditch, Fuck Attack!
12/04/2009 Strange Matter - Richmond, VA w/ The Waward, Inter Arma
12/05/2009 *TBA - Wilmington, NC w/ Pavlichenko, The Scowls
12/06/2009 *TBA - Savannah, GA w/ Dead Yet
12/07/2009 *TBA - Gainesville, FL
12/08/2009 *TBA - Miami, FL w/ Capsule
12/09/2009 Transitions Art Gallery - Tampa, FL
12/10/2009 The Go Bar - Athens, GA w/ Music Hates You
12/11/2009 The Milestone - Charlotte, NC w/ Caltrop, Sled, Decoration Ghost
12/12/2009 Casa Pizza - Virginia Beach, VA
12/13/2009 The Spot - Wilmington, DE W/ Ape!, Weed Jesus, Powerstance, Fuck Attack, Spiritbird

Tournament's MySpace Profile

Black Cobra - Chronomega CD Review (Southern Lord)

Black Cobra - Chronomega CD Review (Southern Lord)Sludge-metal band Black Cobra released their third full-length CD, Chronomega, at the end of September and this release marks the band's Southern Lord debut.

As a two-piece band, guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafael Martinez make a hell of a lot of noise and producer Billy Anderson (High on Fire, The Melvins, Sleep) gives the band a heavy, brutal sound. Black Cobra's sound fits well with some of the past and current California-based metal bands as they combine Kyuss' stoner groove with the heaviness of High on Fire. While the band is only a two-piece, Jason Landrian's bass-heavy guitar work (similar to Josh Homme's work with Kyuss) more than compensates for any assumed sonic short-comings.

Chronomega follows in the fuzzy, fast riffs that Black Cobra set down with Feather And Stone but this release shows the band continuing to diversify their sound as their songwriting continues to mature. There are less instrumental interludes and slower moments on this new release and length of the disc has increased by 50% over Feathers And Stone (which clocked in about 25 minutes). Producer Billy Anderson has helped the band sharpen their attack - Landrian's vocals are brought forward in the mix and the band changes up the tempos across the disc and plays with an aggression generally found in the speed metal/splatter genre.

Black Cobra are currently out on tour with Pelican and Disappearer which includes a local tour stop at Highline Ballroom on December 2nd. Here is the band's upcoming tour dates:

Nov. 07, 2009 -- 9:00PM, Rubber Gloves w/ Black Tusk, Denton, Texas
Nov. 08, 2009 -- 8:00PM, FUNFUNFUN Fest After Party w/ Black Tusk + Eagle Claw, Austin, Texas
Nov. 09, 2009 -- 8:00PM, Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar w/ Black Tusk, San Antonio, Texas
Nov. 10, 2009 -- 10:00PM, Hi Ho Lounge w/ Black Tusk, New Orleans, Louisiana
Nov. 11, 2009 -- 8:00PM, Newby’s Too w/ Black Tusk + Dreamer’s Disease, Panama City Beach, Florida
Nov. 12, 2009 -- 7:00PM, Will’s Pub w/ Black Tusk + Dark Castle + more... (Anti-Pop Music Fest), Orlando, Florida
Nov. 13, 2009 -- 8:00PM, Brass Mug w/ Black Tusk, Tampa, Florida
Nov. 14, 2009 -- 10:00PM, The Jinx w/ Black Tusk, Savannah, Georgia
Nov. 15, 2009 -- 8:00PM, The Milestone w/ Black Tusk, Charlotte, North Carolina
Nov. 16, 2009 -- 10:00PM, The Triple w/ Black Tusk, Richmond, Virginia
Nov. 17, 2009 -- 9:00PM, Blue Nile w/ Black Tusk, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Nov. 19, 2009 -- 8:00PM, Building 16, Providence, Rhode Island
Nov. 20, 2009 -- 8:00PM, The Shop w/ Black Tusk, Ithaca, New York
Nov. 21, 2009 -- 7:00PM, Monty’s Krown w/ Black Tusk, Rochester, New York
Nov. 22, 2009 -- 8:00PM, 31st St. Pub w/ Black Tusk, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Nov. 23, 2009 -- 7:00PM, The Grog Shop w/ Black Tusk, Cleveland, Ohio
Nov. 24, 2009 -- 8:00PM, Southgate House w/ Black Tusk, Newport, Kentucky
Nov. 27, 2009 -- 8:00PM, V Club w/ Black Tusk, Huntington, West Virginia
Nov. 28, 2009 -- 7:30PM, The Shelter w / Pelican + Gods & Queens, Detroit, Michigan
Nov. 29, 2009 -- 8:00PM, Soundlab w / Pelican + Gods & Queens, Buffalo, New York
Dec. 01, 2009 -- 7:30PM, First Unitarian Church w/ Pelican + Dissappearer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dec. 02, 2009 -- 7:00PM, Highline Ballroom w/ Pelican + Disappearer, New York, New York

Black Cobra

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Jazz/Electronica Project J.Viewz Plays the Blue Note on Nov. 6th

J.Viewz Plays the Blue Note on Nov. 6thIsraeli producer Jonathan Dagan's award winning electronica project J.Viewz will perform a late set at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City this Friday night. The live outfit of J.Viewz, featuring lead vocalist Noa Lembersky & MC Urijah, has a unique combination of vocals, electronic beats, live drums and turntables, flowing from Breakbeat to Jazz, Electro and Reggae. They take the stage at 12:30am on Friday, November 6, 2009.

Based in Brooklyn, J.Viewz is a multi-genre, multi-media music project with revolving band members. Electronic-music producer Jonathan Dagan first formed the group in 2002, and has since produced two albums under J.Viewz: Muse Breaks (2005) and The Besides EP (2008). The project’s first single “Your Country” off Muse Breaks entered several music charts abroad (including DJ Mag's hype chart, the Ministry of Sound's radio chart and the DMC UPDATE Chart) and hit several international radio stations, including Kiss 100 FM, Ministry of Sound radio, and Radio One.

The current J.Viewz single, from The Besides EP, is a jazz cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”.

The single was included on the playlists for U105 (Ireland) and KISS FM (UK) and was an A-List song on Jazz FM (UK). It also earned a coveted spot on the recent cover compilation by the Tru Thoughts label (Tru Thoughts Covers). Impose Magazine calls this J.Viewz cover “the show stopper of the bunch,” and says “this cathartic version is as original and memorable as the performer who left us far too soon.

J.Viewz Live (the “live” division of the project) currently includes the following five musicians:
Jonathan Dagan, production/computers/turntables
Noa Lembersky, vocals
Urijah, vocals & guitar
Eran Asias, drums
Daniel Koren, keys

J.Viewz' MySpace Profile

Gama Bomb: Download Tales from the Grave in Space for Free (Earache Records)

Gamma Bomb Make New CD Available as a Free DownloadAfter my recent "Marcy Playground fiasco", I love seeing bands who 'get' leveraging the internet to get their music out to the masses.

Irish thrashers, Gama Bomb have released their new album, Tales from the Grave in Space, as a free download that is 100% approved by Earache. Click on the album cover (above) to go directly to the download site. Earache notes - "No catches, no DRM. Just pure, adrenaline pumping thrash with wit to spare that will be yours forever."

"Produced by Scott Atkins (Behemoth, Cradle of Filth) and featuring artwork by Jeff Jordan (The Mars Volta), Tales From the Grave in Space is an album steeped in traditional thrash that also signifies the future of music to come. We encourage everyone, fans and non-fans to download the album and enjoy this historic gift of free metal presented by Earache Records, Rapidshare and Gama Bomb."

Gama Bomb
Earache Records

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Phantom Family Halo Release 'Monoliths & These Flowers Never Die'; Play Bowery Ballroom on Dec. 1st.

DOWNLOAD: Phantom Family Halo - "Blackouts and Runaways" (MP3)

Phantom Family Halo Release New Disc on Karate Body and Play Bowery Ballroom on Dec. 1stWhat caught my attention with Phantom Family Halo's last release was Julian Cope's review - "I’m also right blown away by the catchy and compelling all-purpose psychedelia of THE LEGEND OF BLACK SIX by power trio The Phantom Family Halo. I say ‘all purpose’ because this stuff is useful and should be available by the vat on prescription, because it’s good for the mental health. I say power trio, but this lot are greedy motherfuckers with a hefty set of auxiliary members. The sound is totally reminiscent of that 1970 period when no fucker could control the number of overdubs, and these guys pass through every stage from The Youngbloods and Kalackakra to a kind of Amon Duul PARADIESWARTS DUUL-informed take on David Voorhaus’ White Noise project via early (very early) Chrome on their way to the proto metal of ‘Electric God In Your Galaxy’."

The band's new 2LP release, Monoliths & These Flowers Never Die, is simply a brilliant, brain-melting slab of acid rock which should strike an immediate chord with fans of Hawkwind and Spacemen 3. The band is playing Bowery Ballroom on December 1st with Russian Circles and Young Widows.

Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 DOS.

Phantom Family Halo

Capgun Coup - Maudlin CD Review (Team Love Records)

DOWNLOAD: Capgun Coup - "Sitting on the Sidewalk" (MP3)

Capgun Coup’s sophomore release Maudlin (Team Love) is a near perfect slice of lo-fi garage rock that owes an equal debt to both late 60’s era Bob Dylan and The Modern Lovers.

The band’s music is raw and energetic and, over the course of this new disc, skips across styles and genres seamlessly. Musical styles range from the languid, ‘Pavement-ish’ “Farnam Street” to the indie-pop melodic harmonies of “Pretty City” to the raw garage-punk of “Bad Bands”. Capgun Coup has built a strong reputation a high-energy live act and all of the songs on this new disc should translate well to the live stage.

Going back to the Jonathan Richman/Bob Dylan reference earlier, vocalist Sam Martin can certainly turn a lyrical phrase. He isn’t exactly the most politically correct with songs like “Wish I Was A Fag” and “Bad Bands” but these aren’t Fear-style lyrics here. The band is rather reflecting on reflecting on the current state of society. Songs like “Sitting On The Sidewalk” and “Now That I’m Home” are essentially updated takes on the Dead Boys “Ain’t Nothing To Do” and The Ramones “Now I Want To Sniff Some Glue”.

is compelling album that has been growing on me with each repeated listen.

Capgun Coup is out on tour with Cursive starting at the end of the month. Here is the upcoming tour dates:


Capgun Coup's MySpace Profile

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

801: Live Collectors Edition CD Review (Expression Records)

801 Live Collectors Edition CD Review (Expression Records)The Collectors Edition of 801 Live is the crown jewel of the recent set of 801 Live CDs.

The original 801 lineup came together in 1976 for three shows. This release includes the complete recording of the last of the these shows, recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 9/3/76. Similar to the 1999 reissue, this release includes the bonus tracks "Golden Hours" and "The Fat Lady of Limbourg" but this is the first time that the proper ending to set-finale "Third Uncle" has been released.

The original lineup of 801 featured Eno on lead vocals and Phil Manzanera on guitar along with an all-star prog-rock cast (many of whom played on Manzanera's Quiet Sun project and/or Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets LP) that consisted of Bill MacCormick (Bass), Lloyd Watson (Slide Guitar), Francis Monkman (Fender Rhodes/Cavinet) and Simon Phillips (Drums). The set list features material from Eno's solo projects, Manzanera's Quiet Sun LP Mainstream and his solo disc Diamond Head along with covers of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" and The Kinks "You Really Got Me".

Over 30+ years have passed since the original recording of 801 Live and both the band's songs and quality of the recording sound incredibly vibrant and relevant by today's standards. The was one of the best sounding live albums when in originally came out on LP in 1976 (according to Wikipedia, this was due to the use of the then new Direct Injection technology where all outputs from the vocal microphones, guitar amps and others instruments (except the drums) were fed directly to the mobile studio mixing desk). This is one of those live shows where anything seems possible as the band moves from swirling psychedelia to Eno-driven deconstructionism to a off-kilter reworking of "You Really Got Me". The band then ends the set with an aggressively punked-up version of "Third Uncle" and more than likely leaves the audience exhausted after having been on this almost hour-long mind-blowing roller coaster.

What makes this Collectors Edition really special is the inclusion of a bonus CD that captures a live rehearsal from two weeks prior to the 801 Live show. The sound quality of the rehearsal is great and it captures the band working out their set in a loose and raw atmosphere. A number of songs are longer in length, with the most noticeably being Eno's "The Fat Lady of Limbourg" which runs for just over nine minutes.

There aren't many CDs, much less live CDs, that hold the test of time for thirty+ years but 801 Live Collectors Edition is a strong winner.

Expression Records

The Mary Onettes: CD Released Today, Show at Union Hall Tomorrow (11/4)

DOWNLOAD: The Mary Onettes - "Puzzles" (MP3)

The Mary Onettes Release 'Islands' Today; Play Union Hall on Nov. 4thJesus and Mary Chain/Smiths inspired Swedish four-piece band The Mary Onettes release their sophomore album Islands today (Labrador Records) and the band is playing three local shows over the next week.

Here are the upcoming shows:
- Nov. 4th - Union Hall, Brooklyn (w/ Blacklist and Submarine Bells)
- Nov. 6th - Studio @ Webster Hall (w/Kordan)
- Nov. 8th - Mercury Lounge (w/The Art of Shooting, Coyote Eyes and Werewolves)

Tickets for each of the shows is $10 in advance. The Union Hall and Webster Hall shows are $12 DOS.

The Mary Onettes

Monday, November 02, 2009

801: latino CD Review (Expression Records)

801 latino CD Review (Expression Records)In 1999, Phil Manzanera reactivated the 801 name and concept for a show in Newark, Lincolnshire UK. "The original 1976 ‘801′ concept of bringing together different musicians from a wide musical spectrum,for a short time,recording them in a live concert, still seemed valid some 25 years later. This time I wanted to see if 801 would work with Latin players." (-Phil Manzanera)

There is no overlap with any of the material from the previous 801 releases as this 50+ minute disc features high-energy Latin music which Manzanera describes as "a snapshot of the music that has accompanied [his] musical journey" from the 40's to the 90’s. Unlike previous 801 releases where Phil Manzanera's guitar work was highlighted in the mix, there are no real guitar solos on 801: latino and Phil's guitar work fits beneath and complements the rest of the band. Other members of this one-off project include vocalist Yamile (who was main vocalist for the most relevant salsa band of the 90's called PG Poder de la Generaci├│n), Havana composer/jazz musician Aldo Lopez-Gavilan, critically acclaimed drummer Carlos "Mosca" Valde and bassist Chucho Merch├ín (who has played with Pete Townsend, David Gilmour and The Eurythmics).

Phil Manzanera/Expression Records

Sunday, November 01, 2009

801: Live @ Hull CD Review (Expression Records)

801 - Live @ Hull CD ReviewIn 1977, Phil Manzanera took a new version of 801 on the road to support the band's then current release Listen Now. While there are a number of songs that overlap with 801 Live, without Brian Eno's art rock eccentricities, the new members give the band almost a pub-rock feel.

Aside from Manzanera, the only hold-over from 801 Live is bassist/vocalist Bill MacCormick. This new lineup includes a number of Roxy Music sidemen - Eddie Jobson, Paul Thompson and Dave Skinner -- along with newcomer vocalist/guitarist Simon Ainley. The material is a mixture of songs from the two 801 albums, Manzanera's solo work, cover versions of The Beatles ("Tomorrow Never Knows") and Kinks ("You Really Got Me") songs and a 8 minute run-through of Roxy Music's "Out of the Blue".

This is a spirited ragged-but-right performance that has some great guitar work by Manzanera and Eddie Jobson's violin adds to the reinterpretations of these songs. There is no high-gloss production work here; the show is complete with bum notes and the band doesn't seem to take themselves too seriously. The downside of this release is that it seems to be sourced from an audience bootleg. The sound is ok as bootlegs go but it will likely leave audio purists holding their ears. Give a listen to the sound samples on Amazon so that you know what you are getting into with this.

Phil Manzanera's Website

Skip Matheny (vocalist for Roman Candle) Premiers 'Drinks With...' Column

Skip Matheny, vocalist for Roman Candle, preiers online column for American SongwriterSkip Matheny, vocalist for North Carolina indie-rock band Roman Candle's singer, just started doing a new online feature for American Songwriter. The new column, 'Drinks With...', is where "two or more songwriters have a drink and talk with each other (almost exclusively) about writing".

With this debut column, Skip interviews U.K. band Wild Beasts.

Roman Candle

Crescent Shield - The Stars of Never Seen (Cruz Del Sur)

Crescent Shield - The Stars of Never Seen CD ReviewDoes anyone remember the movie "Airheads" where the S.W.A.T. guy tries embarrassing Chazz (Brendan Fraser) by telling the crowd what a D&D dork he was in high-school? When hardcore came around in the early 80's, many of prog-rock geeks tried to quickly distance themselves from their recent past (my older sister will swear that she was born clad in black and listening to Joy Division). Crescent Shield takes a major slice of 70's style prog-rock (Yes and Rainbow are some of the bands that come to mind) and combines it with the metal influences of bands like Fates Warning and Dream Theater.

Los Angeles' Crescent Shield released their second disc, The Stars of Never Seen, early this summer on Cruz Del Sur and the first pressing comes with a bonus DVD of the band's performance at the Keep It True festival in 2008.

Crescent Shield's new release follows their well-received 2006 debut, The Last of My Kind, and shows the band's maturing song writing heading in an epic power-metal direction. Lyrically, most of the songs are Edgar Allan Poe-like stories of the macabre. These range from "The Bellman", which tells the tale of the ghost of a mate, a sailor on a ship that sank due to the arrogance of the crew who is now cursed and trapped in a port of call in the early 18th century to "Tides of Fire" (which is based on the novel “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller Jr.) which tells the story of what happens when a civilization experiences a worldly holocaust and then gets stuck in a primitive state. With a number of the songs clocking in at over five minutes, vocalist Michael Grant has the opportunity to build a virtual world for each of these stories. The band follow suit and the music ebbs and flows across this disc. There is the raw aggression of songs like "My Anger" and the twisting guitar solos on "Under Cover of Shadows" which are then offset by the melancholy and heartfelt guitar, bass and mandolin work in “Temple of The Empty”. The disc ends with the epic song "Lifespan" which made its live premiere at the Keep It True festival last year (which you can check out on the bonus live DVD).

Crescent Shield's latest disc should strike a positive chord with fans of traditional metal and epic/power metal. Long after the flavor of the month and one-hit-wonder bands have been forgotten, I expect Crescent Shield's music to stand the test of time.

Crescent Shield's MySpace Profile

Blondie: Photos and Set List from Brooklyn Museum, 10/29/09

Blondie - Live at Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn 10=29-09It is hard to go wrong with free beer and Blondie.

I'm not quite sure what the point of the "no cameras" signs that were postered around the Museum - Debbie made a comment about all the cameras during the intro to "Picture This". There are also about half-a-dozen videos from the show posted to YouTube. Blondie played some interesting version of some of their hits (including a long version of "Rapture") along with a few songs where I'm not positive that I have the titles correct.

Here is my best attempt at a set list:
- Call Me
- Picture This
- Two Times Blue
- Rapture
- You're Too Hot
- Heart of Glass
- Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
- One Way or Another

Blondie - Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn 10-29-09