Friday, December 31, 2010

BrooklynRocks Top 10 List for 2010

There were a lot of great releases this year so it was tough to pick only ten albums. After spending more time than I would have thought narrowing down the list, below is my 2010 Top-10 list (in no particular order):

01) The Art of Shooting – Traveling Show

02) Tim Kasher – The Game of Monogamy

03) Automatic Children – New Is Beautiful

04) Earth - A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extractions

05) The Canon Logic – FM Arcade

06) King Crimson – Islands (40th Anniversary Edition)

07) School of Seven Bells – Disconnect From Desire

08) Lissie – Catching A Tiger

09) J. Roddy Walston and the Business – Self-Titled

10) Early Graves – Goner

Happy New Year Everyone!

Frost Watson Plays Party Expo in Brooklyn on Jan. 9th

Philadelphia indie-rock band Frost Watson have posted some new songs in advance of the release of their forthcoming EP (below). The band is playing a short run of tri-state shows starting next week and they stop by Party Expo in Bushwick on Jan. 9th . This show is all-ages and starts at 8PM. Sharing the bill are Aficionado and The Marine Electric; tickets are $7.

Frost Watson

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crack The Sky - "Machine" CD Review

DOWNLOAD: Crack The Sky - Machine Demos (Authorized Bootleg)

Crack The Sky - 'Machine' CD ReviewGrowing up in Baltimore in the late 70s/early 80s, Crack The Sky was one of the biggest bands in town and always seemed on the verge of breaking out. The band toured with numerous established acts (like Yes, ELO, Frank Zappa, Styx, etc.) and routinely sold-out 1,000+ capacity venues in Baltimore so everyone believed that the band's brand of thinking man's prog rock would reach a universal audience. Crack the Sky's debut LP was released in 1975 and Rolling Stone magazine called it the "debut album of the year" and now, in the 35th year of their career, Crack the Sky have released their fourteenth studio album Machine.

Machine follows 2008's The Sale and, like recent Crack the Sky albums, continues with the band's Pink Floyd meets Steely Dan sound. The arrangements are lush and epic and band leader/songwriter John Palumbo's lyrics have all the cynicism and bite of a Steely Dan song. Lyrically, Machine is a concept album about machines taking over at the end of the Mayan Calendar (12/21/12) and mankind's slow slide to their inevitable doom. In an interview with RAYSREALM, John Palumbo compares The Sale to Machine by saying "The Sale is a task to listen to. I realized that after trying to listen to it. I got carried away. I consider it more of a novel than a record. The new Cd, MACHINE, now in the hands of Ricky and Bobby, is even darker. The Sale ended with some hope, MACHINE does not. Cheery, huh?"

Crack the Sky's music has aged well over the years and Machine is a worthy addition to collection of any prog-rock fan. Throughout my college years, mentions of Crack the Sky always drew blank looks so I was looking on YouTube for a video to embed that will showcase the band's sound. These days, Crack the Sky doesn't play live too often so it isn't surprising that there aren't any live videos from Machine posted. For anyone whose curiosity is piqued, a good starting point would be to download the demos from Machine (free download - link is at the top of this post) and check out the live video of the song "Ice" (which is from CTS' debut disc).

Crack The Sky

Ali Marcus Plays Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn on Feb. 17th

DOWNLOAD: Ali Marcus - "Recession Blues"
DOWNLOAD: Ali Marcus - "Wapato"

Ali Marcus Plays Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn on Feb. 17thWashington DC-to-Seattle transplant Ali Marcus is playing a one-off show at Jalopy Theatre (315 Columbia Street) in Brooklyn on Feb. 17th. Ali's music is rooted in the Americana singer/songwriter/storyteller tradition and she is touring behind her sixth disc The Great Migration.

The Great Migration was released in 2009 and Girlysounds described the disc at the time of release as "[f]itting nice and snug in-between folk and country, these new songs focus on a myriad of topics. Standouts like the album’s opener, “Virginia Road,” uses a stretch of road and it’s surrounding trees as a metaphor for one’s lot in life and what one does with what’s been given to them. On the quiet, but bittersweet “Hey John,” Marcus sings to a fellow songwriter and laments their only encounter, but reminisces about their mutual distaste for Nashville and other similarities. But Marcus is perhaps at her best when heard on “Wapato,” a peppy sing-a-long packed with country hall swing."

Marcus has shared the stages with artists like Tom Paxton, Dar Williams and Catie Curtis so the show at Jalopy Theatre will provide a nice, intimate setting in which to see Ali perform.

Ali Marcus

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Alison Clancy & Electric Child are Playing Mercury Lounge on Jan. 6th

Alison Clancy & Electric Child are Playing Mercury Lounge on Jan. 6thHuff This' Alison Clancy's new project Electric Child is playing Mercury Lounge on January 6th.

(From an interview with Sadie Magazine)
Sadie: If you had to describe your band-dance-art and what you’re doing to someone who had never heard of you before, what would you say?

Alison Clancy: I’m working on a new electro-punk-disco project called Electric Child. My job is to be my crazy creature self: I think as little as possible. Club owners and authorites are often alerted when we start, cause I have a habit of jumping off pianos and climbing stuff. I make people nervous, but usually land on my feet. The music is sonically smashed by my cohorts Roger Greenawalt and Genji Siraisi. We might change the name to Baby Voltage.

Alison Clancy is understood by the refined to be the best new Rock Front Person from New York City since Karen O. Her primary stalker is named Peter. Seriously. He's French. His persistence has inspired a new song called "Peter Peter" that will be debuted at Mercury Lounge. When not wreaking musical havoc, Alison works as a dancer with The Metropolitan Opera, Zvi Dance, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and has appeared at the Guggennheim Museum, Robert Wilson's Watermill Center, and Lincoln Center Theater. All this "uptown" pressure is furiously unleashed in her growling Electric performances.

On Bass is Recovering Crack Addict and Visionary Record Producer Roger Greenawalt (The Pierces/Ben Kweller/Iggy Pop) He has done dinner with Allen Ginsberg, lunched with Yoko, and shared breakfast with Warren Buffett. Recently he spawned a project called Beatles Complete On Ukulele where he plays the entire Beatles catalog in 24 hours.

On Drums is the skeptical primate Ethan Eubanks. Ethan has played with Ivy, Crash Test Dummies, David Mead, Joseph Arthur, Teddy Thompson, and on numerous on air commercials that even now are passing through your deteriorating body. Eubanks has shaken hands with presidents, dined with dignitaries, and romanced models.

Electric Child most recently performed right before Kim Gordon at the sold-out Kathleen Hanna tribute show at Knitting Factory.

Surprise special guests at past shows have included Zee Avi, Fiona Silver and Danny Musengo, who flirt, wail, and take fierce air guitar solos!
Electric Child is sharing the bill with The Wellington Papers and Voxhaul Broadcast. Tickets are $10 and Electric Child goes on at 9:30PM.

Electric Child

The Art of Shooting - "Traveling Show" CD Review

The Art of Shooting - 'Traveling Show' CD ReviewNothing beats using the end of the year slow-down to try to catch up on some CDs that fell through the cracks during the earlier part of the year.

Brooklyn’s The Art of Shooting’s full-length debut, Traveling Show, was released last April and it is a major leap forward from the band’s 2005 debut EP “Tyrant’s Black Eyes”. After repeated listens, I still find it hard to find a label or two to describe the evolution of the band’s sound. The band still seems to garner frequent comparisons to Siouxsie & the Banshees but, to my ears, this comparison didn’t last past the band’s initial EP. The current sound of The Art of Shooting is more “art-punk” so a better point of comparison might the raw emotion and tension of early Hole crossed with the jagged musical structures of PJ Harvey and Throwing Muses. In a recent interview, vocalist/songwriter Kelly Irene Corson wrestled with the same question of labeling her band’s music and ultimately described it as “melodic melodramatic indie rock”.

Traveling Show seems to be a means of exorcism for Corson, a self-described ‘over-sharer’, as she uses the disc’s eleven tracks to share deeply personal pain points and stories from her past. "Truth till it can be humiliating," attests Corson. "It's empowering to show your imperfections as a point of pride in who you really are." Lyrical themes include Corson’s experiences being kidnapped by a family member (“The Birdcage”), abusive relationships (“Traveling Show”) and running away from home as a teenager (“It Goes (Home)”). This is a somber disc that hides a large portion of this moodiness behind its swirling dark melodies and rich harmonies.

The Art of Shooting’s razor-tight combination of urgency, intensity and emotion make Traveling Show vital listening as this disc provides a means for the listener to exorcise his/her own personal demons.

Traveling Show was produced by both Paul Mahajan (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio, Liars, The National) in Brooklyn and Keith Souza (Battles, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Lightning Bolt) in Pawtucket, RI. "This album has been a series of humbling miracles from beginning to end," sums Kelly Irene. "Though it's tested the ends of my patience, self-esteem, and faith not only in other people, but also in myself, at this moment, I'm as proud of it as I'll ever be."

The Art of Shooting

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Morning After Girls: Interview with Sasha Lucashenko (vocals/guitar) // New Disc Out Jan. 11th

DOWNLOAD: The Morning After Girls - Interview with vocalist/guitarist Sasha Lucashenko (Dec. 10)

The Morning After Girls: Interview with Sasha Lucashenko (vocals/guitar)Right before Christmas, I had the chance to catch up with vocalist / guitarist Sasha Lucashenko from the psych-rock band The Morning After Girls. We talked about the band new disc, Alone, which is coming out next month on Xemu Records (Dead Meadow, Spindrift), the postponed NYC CD release show (which was due to visa issues) and the band's plans for 2011.

The Morning After Girls' forthcoming disc, Alone, marks the first new album from the group since their self titled album in 2005 and the vinyl and cd versions drop on 1/11/11. Recorded in a revamped Church turned recording studio in Australia, this recording takes melodic and shimmering music and captures it in cavernous reverb. Band co-founder Martin B. Sleeman described the recording as "It was in a refurbished church that our friends made into a studio. they kept the basic internal design, the main drum room is in the highest part of the chuch which got this huge echo. there was two ambient room mics hanging from the highest beam of the church which captured this natural cavernous effect. we used them on everything, there’s no digital effects on the album at all.

In the world today there are so many distractions that there are no chances to be alone, truly alone. Not in a lonely place but to experience things purely without a filter. This is the headspace we were in when we wrote the record” says vocalist/guitarist Sacha Lucashenko. Martin B Sleeman says “people have a tendency to say something is irrelevant if it’s been experienced before, like a style of music, or the human experience itself, once the popular eye has moved on from it. we feel very passionate about focusing on the human experience with the story of this album. we feel that this album is a story from the past and the present, as it’s initial beauty is there and can be admired in whatever time you sit with it. it’s like ‘feel this album with us and experience what we are experiencing alone’.

The Morning After Girls

The Last Dinosaur Plays Arlene's Grocery on Jan. 1st // New EP Posted as a Free Download

DOWNLOAD: The Last Dinosaur - "Tales" EP
DOWNLOAD/PLAY: The Last Dinosaur - "The New Massachusetts" (from the band's self-titled debut EP)

The Last Dinosaur Plays Arlene's Grocery on Jan. 1st // New EP Posted as a Free DownloadDelaware post-punk band The Last Dinosaur is making their NYC debut on New year's Day with a show at Arlene's Grocery.

The band is touring behind their latest EP "Tales" (which they are currently giving away as a free download) which Dave Scotford/Media Essentials described as "nothing short of heart-stopping. Top quality vocals pull together with bouncy guitar riffs, thundering drums and a first rate bass player. If you don't believe these guys care about their music as much as they say they do then I urge you, listen to it. You can almost hear the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into their music careers."

Cover for Saturday night's show is $10 and The Last Dinosaur plays at 10PM. Also on the bill are Last Days in the Bunker (11PM), Slightly Left (12AM) and Black Girls (1AM).

The Last Dinosaur

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crashpoint - "Millions of Figurines" CD Review (Crystal Productions)

Crashpoint is an alt-metal/nu-metal Czech band who released their second album Millions of Figurines (Crystal Productions) in 2008. Just so the nu-metal label doesn’t turn anyone off before they get into the body of this review, Crashpoint is closer in sound to experimental side of the genre (specific points of comparison are bands like System of a Down and Tool) rather than bands like Limp Bizkit. Crashpoint is evidently looking for a wider international exposure as a review copy of the band’s 2008 disc just came across to me from the band’s record company.

Millions of Figurines is subtly complex as the band’s music can seamlessly drop from chugging metal guitar riffs accompanied by a death-metal roar into a soft piano and lilting acoustic guitar, all within a few seconds. Added to this are cinematic sound bytes which range from the dialogue from the movie Spun (which starts off the disc) to George Bush defending the Patriot Act. Vocalist Hanzi sings in clear English and his delivery combines the warbled vocal histrionics of Serj Tankian with the emotive power of Maynard James Keenan.

Musically, the band is able to shift in style from song to song, which goes a long way toward making each of the songs distinctive and memorable. “Bound” prominently features a rubbery bass line and sounds like something from Alice in Chains’ “Unplugged” period, “In Penumbra” has a distinctive middle-eastern guitar riff that take the song into SOAD (or even Page and Plant) territory and “Medusa Eye” builds from a progy intro into a techno-pulsing instrumental which is backed by George Bush’s sound bytes. The most distinctive song is rawly emotive, acoustic melancholia of “Room No. 13”.

I can easily see why Crystal Productions is trying to bring some visibility to Crashpoint’s music as the band’s sound will resonate well with fans of the bands that have played Ozzfest, Family Values and similar styled festivals.

Crashpoint's MySpace Profile
Crashpoint's Website

King Crimson Releases Snippet of Vocal Track from "In the Court of the Crimson King"

PLAY: King Crimson - "Ah" (Track hosted on DGMLive)

This week's free download from King Crimson is a snippet of the vocal tracking for "In the Court of the Crimson King".

King Crimson Releases Demo of Mister Stormy has dusted off this snippet of the vocal tracking for Court of the Crimson King. Recorded at Wessex in the summer of '69 we can hear Greg, Ian and Mike giving it their all.

Robert Fripp
King Crimson

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Church Are Playing Two NYC Shows in Feb. on Their "Future Past Perfect" Tour

The Church Are Playing Two NYC Shows in Feb. on Their 'Future Past Perfect' TourFollowing their successful "An Intimate Space" acoustic tour this past spring, The Church return to the USA in February for their "Future Past Perfect" electric tour. This unprecedented touring event continues their 30th Anniversary celebrations by performing three classic albums in their entirety in one night: Untitled #23 (2009), Priest=Aura (1992), and Starfish (1988).

Recently inducted into the Australian Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, the band will begin the night in the present, covering the last decade with the critically acclaimed Untitled #23. Proceeding backwards into the '90s, they will then perform perennial fan favorite, Priest=Aura (an album not supported by a tour when originally released in the USA). And then, what better way to conclude the evening than with a performance of the all-time classic album, Starfish. These three great albums will be played in succession -- live and electric.

"Future Past Perfect" Tour Dates
Feb 02 - Los Angeles, CA. - El Rey Theatre
Feb 04 - San Francisco, CA. - Great American Music Hall
Feb 07 - Seattle, WA. - Triple Door
Feb 08 - Seattle, WA. - Triple Door
Feb 11 - Chicago, IL. - Park West
Feb 13 - Alexandria, VA. - The Birchmere
Feb 15 - Philadelphia, PA. - The Trocadero
Feb 16 - New York, NY. - Highline Ballroom
Feb 17 - New York, NY. - B.B. King's
Feb 18 - Foxboro, MA. - Showcase Live

Tickets for the show at Highline Ballroom are $39.50 in advance and $45 (DOS). Doors are at 6PM and the show starts at 8PM. Ticket prices and door/show times are the same for the show at B.B. King's the following night.

Reissues of the band's early albums will finally be available in the USA alongside contemporary releases, all on Second Motion Records. Fully remastered with bonus tracks, the reissues will come in luxurious digi-packs with rare photos and exhaustive sleeve notes written by Marty Willson-Piper. Of Skins and Heart, The Blurred Crusade, Seance, and Heyday are available now along with the comprehensive double CD compilation Deep In the Shallows, which features liner notes from David Fricke of Rolling Stone.

The Church

Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven Bring "Key Lime & Kerosene Tour" to Highline Ballroom

DOWNLOAD: David Lowery - "The Palace Guards" (title track from David's forthcoming solo CD)
DOWNLOAD: Camper Van Beethoven - Mississippi Nights, St. Louis, MO 10-12-89 (Live Show from 1989's Key Lime Pie Tour)

(photo: Jason Thrasher)
Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven Bring 'Key Lime & Kerosene Tour' to Highline BallroomCamper Van Beethoven & Cracker are playing a short run of East Coast dates as part of their Key Lime & Kerosene Tour, where both bands will be performing their signature albums (CVB's Key Lime Pie and Cracker's Kerosene Hat) in their entireties. The tour stops at Highline Ballroom on Jan. 14th and tickets are $22 in advance and $25 DOS.

David Lowery is apparently not planning on resting this year as he is following this tour with the release of his first solo album, The Palace Guards, on Feb. 1st (429 Records). After years of helping steer the lauded and eclectic careers of both of his bands, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, co-founder and frontman David Lowery has seen fit to present a collection of songs recorded apart from those iconic indie & alternative rock entities. Stopping short of calling it a solo record, Lowery has collaborated with a handful of trusted musical cohorts associated with his Richmond, VA-based studio, Sound of Music - an inner circle that Lowery has relied on for over 17 years and who’ve been instrumental in helping create the sounds heard on this album as well as past projects. David recorded and produced The Palace Guards in conjunction with John Morand and Alan Weatherhead. Key players include Miguel Urbiztondo on drums, David Immergluck on guitars and bass, Craig Harmon played organs and Ferd Moyse on upright bass and fiddle. Special guest appearances include Cracker mates Sal Maida and Johnny Hickman, as well as the late Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) who played keyboards on “Big Life.”

The Palace Guards took David several years to complete. Lowery felt it liberating to write the songs without the constrictions of how they might fit in with the Cracker or Camper canon of songs and performances. The easy rapport and powerful creative chemistry that Lowery shared with his studio pals allowed his introverted musical inclinations to shine through. Apparent in this collection of nine songs is a willingness to push the envelope stylistically—from the Appalachian-woven folk of the album’s first single “Raise ‘em Up on Honey” to the swirling, languid psychedelia of “Deep Oblivion” and eclectic Syd Barrett-inspired title track, to the rocked-out “Baby, All Those Girls Meant Nothing to Me,” Lowery enjoys the freedom to write and record just about anything that pleases him at that moment.

One of the reasons the album sounds the way it does is that I have pretty strong personalities playing with me,” says Lowery, “guys who I’ve worked with for years, who have done engineering or playing on Camper and Cracker albums. There’s that instant easy rapport that shines through. Working with them brought out the more extreme edges in these songs and amplified them. It was also liberating to start with no preconceived notions of what they would end up sounding like or worrying about how they might sound in a live setting, as I have to do when I write songs for Cracker."

Fri., Jan. 14 -- Highline Ballroom / New York, NY
Sat., Jan. 15 -- Lee’s Palace / Toronto, ONT
Sun., Jan. 16 -- Middle East Downstairs / Cambridge, MA

Camper Van Beethoven
David Lowery

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Automatic Children Share 2010 Top-10 List // Show at Bowery Electric on Feb. 7th

iTunes sell music

QuantcastAutomatic Children released their debut full-length New Is Beautiful in April of this year and the disc has a definite place on my 2010 Top-10 List (which will be published soon).

Here is the Automatic Children's co-vocalists/guitarists, Adam Lippman and Crista Giuliani, 2010 Top-10 List:

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Spoon - Transference
The Walkmen - Lisbon
School of Seven Bells - Disconnect from Desire
Beach House - Teen Dream
LCD Soundsystem-This is Happening
The Black Keys-Brothers
MGMT – Congratulations
Darker My Love-Alive As You Are
Kanye West-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Automatic Children's next show is at Bowery Electric on Feb. 7th and the band is playing with Christina LaRocca. Admission is $5 with Facebook invite.

Automatic Children

PJ Harvey Releases Video for "The Last Living Rose" from Upcoming Album "Let England Shake" (Vagrant)

Written On The Forehead by pjharvey

PJ Harvey Releases Video for 'The Last Living Rose' from Upcoming Album 'Let England Shake' (Vagrant)PJ Harvey has just released "The Last Living Rose" off of her upcoming album Let England Shake (available Feb 15 on Vagrant Records). The video was directed by the award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy who has directed series of videos to accompany all 12 songs on Let England Shake. The twelve videos feature still and moving images from a 5,000 mile road-trip Murphy undertook around England. He has worked similarly with still photography on journeys through America and Russia.

Inspired and developed from themes in Harvey’s new album, the films were made in the manner of classic photographic reportage - recording real & spontaneous situations. They make up a visual diary of Murphy’s journey, travelling light and alone, and his attempt to document England and the English. Murphy has mixed his observations on England with images from his work in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East - places Polly refers to in her depiction of England. The film soundtrack, the studio recording of the album Let England Shake, is mixed at times with footage and audio Murphy captured of Harvey in rehearsal and in performance. In addition some of the album lyrics were given a voice by people he encountered on his journey.

"The Last Living Rose" Lyrics

Goddam' Europeans!
Take me back to England
& the grey, damp filthiness of ages,
fog rolling down behind the mountains,
& on the graveyards, and dead sea-captains.

Let me walk through the stinking alleys
to the music of drunken beatings,
past the Thames River, glistening like gold
hastily sold for nothing.

Let me watch night fall on the river,
the moon rise up and turn to silver,
the sky move,
the ocean shimmer,
the hedge shake,
the last living rose quiver.

PJ Harvey - Vocals, Guitar, Saxophone
John Parish - Drums, Guitar, Trombone, Vocals
Mick Harvey - Drums, Organ, Vocals

PJ Harvey

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Levi's Photo Workshop - Photos from the Closing Night Party, SOHO, NYC 12-18-10

Last Saturday night, Levi's Photo Workshop held their closing party. The focus of the event was on the photos that had been taken in the onsite photo booth over the past two months and a selection of these photos were displayed on the gallery walls.

The photos, which ranged from the innocent to the sublime to the asinine, truly captured both the spirit and the diversity of the people who have taken part in Workshop events over these last few months. All attendees were given a copy of the Workshop Yearbook: Every Photographer in New York, which is a photographic journal of the events that have taken place over the past 10 weeks.

At the final night party, the photo booth continued to rock and there seemed to be a perpetual line. Not being one for lines, I took my own photo which is at the end of the photo set.

Levi's Photo Workshop

Big Ups Release "Big Hollydaze" EP

Big Ups Release 'Big Hollydaze' EP Looking a bit too much much like clean-cut refugees from "That 70's Show", Big Ups just released a four-song EP of bratty punk-rock holiday music. The band's music falls somewhere between early Angry Samoans and The Queers (I'm specifically thinking of "Kicked Out Of The Webelos" and "My Old Man's A Fatso" ) and Fear's "F*ck Christmas" 7".

The disc includes deconstructed covers of "Silent Night" (below), "Linus and Lucy" theme from Peanuts and "In the Hall of the Mountain King" along with the original "Deloitte Xmas Party". While this disc isn't going to get a lot of plays after the holiday season passes, it is amusing enough to keep in my iTunes library for when Christmas season rolls around next year.

Big Ups

The Queers - "Back to the Basement" CD Review // Early Show at Mercury Lounge on Jan. 22nd

STREAM: The Queers - Back to the Basement (click through to

The Quuers - 'Back to the Basement' CD Review // Early Show at Mercury Lounge on Jan. 22ndEvery Christmas season brings out some of the most saccharine and nauseating holiday music so it is refreshing to hear the "never-grow-up" three-chord punk of The Queers during this time of year. The Queers released their twelfth disc, Back to the Basement, on Asian Man Records last month.

On this new disc, The Queers minimize the Beach Boys/pop-song influences which have dominated their most recent discs and return to their core three-chord Ramones style punk. The band bounces through the disc's thirteen songs in just over 22 minutes and most of the songs are anthems to punk rock, girls and getting f*cked up. The Queers even include a cover of Black Flag's "White Minority". This disc was recorded in one marathon session and the music ranges from melodic punk ("Everyday Girl") to angry screeds ("I'm Pissed") and there is even a surf-rock instrumental ("Rollerdog"). Joe King said "[w]e recorded it in about 23 hours from start to finish. That included writing a few songs in the vocal booth when we took a coffee break."

Defying all musical trends, The Queers continue to mine the same musical vein that they have for years. Songs like "Back to the Basement" and "I Knew GG When He Was A Wimp" will likely become live set staples and this CD will sit well with any fan of The Queers and/or The Ramones. After reading too many rock bands complain (aka whine) about how one musical trend or another killed their career, it is refreshing to hear The Queers plow forward with the same pop/punk sound well into their third decade as a band.

The Queers are playing an early show at Mercury Lounge on Jan. 22nd. Tickets are $15 and The Apers are also on the bill. Doors are at 7PM and The Queers are scheduled to play at 8:30PM.

The Queers

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Die Krupps - "Als Wären Wir Für Immer” CD EP Review

After a thirteen year hiatus from the studio, Die Krupps just released a new eight-track EP “Als Wären Wir Für Immer” (I believe this translates as “When We Were Forever”) which serves as a teaser for a full-length that is supposed to follow sometime next year. The new EP contains five new tracks (with the track “Dr. Mabuse” being a remake of Propaganda’s 1984 single) and three remixes.

This release marks a return to Die Krupps’ EBM roots and the heavy-metal guitar sounds from the band’s past releases are either muted or gone. Three of the tracks are sung in English (“Beyond”, “The Chameleon Man”, “Dr. Mabuse”) and all three have memorable synth lines that are powered by pulsing mid-tempo darkwave, dancefloor beats. The most memorable of these three tracks is the catchy buildup and exploding chorus of leadoff track “Beyond” on which Die Krupps collaborated with Chilean industrial band Vigilante. The remaining two new songs (“Die Macht”, “Als Wären Wir Für Immer”) are sung in German and these tracks are clanging, angry industrial tunes (which never cross into heavy metal territory). All five of these tracks go a long way toward making this EP memorable. The problem comes at the end of the disc with the three remixes as, while they aren’t bad, they aren’t that different from the studio tracks.

While Die Krupps doesn’t break any new ground with this release, they continue to excel at their brand of industrial dance music which makes their forthcoming 2011 release something to look forward to.

Die Krupps Fanbase Site

Dio - "At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987" CD Review

Dio - 'At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987' CD ReviewRonnie James Dio and his manager/wife Wendy formed the label Niji Entertainment early in 2010. Last month marked the label's first official release, Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987. Both shows on this two-disc set are high-quality soundboard recordings and I believe these shows were also broadcast on FM radio.

The first disc comes from the Holy Diver tour and captures Dio's (the band) first UK show which took place at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington on August 20, 1983. The band had only played about a dozen shows prior to this, predominately opening for Aerosmith during the last gasps of their Rock In a Hard Place tour, but sound remarkably on their game for being so 'young'. Dio and band play an aggressive eight song set which sounds both raw and hungry. The set features four of the nine tracks from Holy Diver along with full versions of Black Sabbath's "Children of the Sea" and "Heaven and Hell" along with somewhat (to completely) abbreviated versions of Rainbow's "Stargazer", "Starstruck" and "Man on the Silver Mountain".

The second disc comes from Dio's return appearance at the Monsters of Rock Festival on August 22, 1987. This time around, Dio (the band) was a veteran touring act and this show took place early into the tour for Dio's fourth disc Dream Evil. The band's lineup is essentially the same as the 1983 show with the exception being that Craig Goldy (x-Giuffria) replaced Vivian Campbell on guitar which gives the band a harder-edged sound. This harder-edged guitar sound is reinforced by better sonic fidelity across the whole show which gives the band a fuller sound with more bottom-end than the 1983 show.

The set list for the 1987 show is similar in spirit to the 1983 show with six tracks from Dio's solo albums (three from Dream Evil) along with a mix of Black Sabbath and Rainbow tracks. This time around though Dio included most of the Sabbath and Rainbow songs in medleys so these are abbreviated versions. There is a full-version of "Neon Knights" but, somewhat surprisingly, an abbreviated version of "Holy Diver" serves as a lead-in into "Heaven and Hell".

This set does an excellent job in capturing the experience of a Dio concert so hopefully this is the first of many archival releases. The disc's $11.44 price point (at Amazon) makes it a no-brainer to add to one's collection.

Ronnie James Dio

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lissie Announces Winter Tour Dates // Show at Webster Hall on Jan. 28th

Lissie played to a sold-out crowd at Hiro Ballroom during CMJ and she is now coming back through Canada and the States on a Dec/Jan Winter tour. The local tour stop is at Webster Hall on January 28th and tickets are $18 in advance and $22 (DOS).

At the Hiro Ballroom show, Lissie played the entirety of her "Why You Runnin'" EP and six tracks from Catching A Tiger. While Lissie has been getting a lot of publicity for her cover tunes (which include songs by Lady Ga Ga, Led Zeppelin, Metallica), Lissie included only two covers in her set. The first was a cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Waiting Around to Die" on which she duetted with opening act Dylan LeBlanc. (If you look closely at the photos below, you can see LeBlanc reading the lyrics off his iPod). The second was a cover of Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness". The full set list is below.

Set List:
- Wedding Bells
- Worried About
- Here Before
- When I'm Alone
- Waiting Around to Die (w/ Dylan LeBlanc)
- Bully
- Cuckoo
- Record Collector
- Everywhere I Go
- In Sleep
- Little Lovin'

- Oh Mississippi
- Pursuit of Happiness

Lissie North American headlining tour dates:


Jonquil - "One Hundred Suns" CD EP Review

Jonquil - Before sitting down to write a review of Jonquil’s new EP “One Hundred Suns”, I surfed Google to find some background on the band. Genre labels are apparently more fluid that I had thought as numerous sites reference Jonquil as part of the “math rock” scene but I hear none of the start/stop rhythms that I had (previously) associated with the genre. To my ears, the band’s new 8-track EP is closer in spirit to bands like The Annuals, Beach House and Vampire Weekend than Don Caballero and Jawbox. The band has described their music as “Paul Simon’s take on The Smiths” which seems to reinforce my point.

"One Hundred Suns" is Jonquil’s first domestic release (which is out on NYC-based Dovecote Records) and it follows two import-only releases. The new EP is currently available on iTunes and a vinyl release will follow early next year.

Jonquil captures the intricate sound of orchestral indie-pop bands like The Annuals and some members of the Elephant 6 collective but Hugo Manuel’s warm falsetto vocals helps Jonquil achieve some measure of differentiation. Another point of differentiation is that Jonquil doesn’t aim for the shambolic, lo-fi state of exuberance that some of their domestic contemporaries seem to thrive in. The overall disc bubbles with a mellow energy and uses some creative drumming and world-beat rhythms to reach beyond its folk-pop core.

The disc starts off strong with the fuzzed-out electro-pop of “Fighting Smiles” and the first single, “Get Up”, emphasizes poly-rhythmic drumming intertwined with some off-kilter guitar riffs. Beruit-style horns/brass is later added to the mix on the songs “Pillow Quest” and “I Know I Don't Know”. While this is the first studio recordings for seven of the disc’s eight songs, the band’s comfort with the material shows as many of these songs have been a regular part of the band’s live set. The last track, “Lions”, is a hold-over from the band’s prior LP.

Jonquil is already booked for SXSW next year and will probably end up “breaking out” next year. Below is a live video for "Fighting Smiles" so give a listen and see what you think.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Appomattox - "Appmttx" EP Review

Appomattox - I'm still scratching my head over a pre-CMJ review that I read that likened Appomattox to the Rolling Stones. After listening to the band's 5-song EP "Appmttx" (which was released last month), I'm hearing moody, atmospheric post-punk so I'd suggest that a closer point of comparison would be Gene Love Jezebel.

Appomattox are a three-piece band out of Brooklyn with a seemingly proletariat political agenda. Where some of their "political punk" contemporaries will pummel the listener with the intensity of their music and/or vocal delivery, Appomattox's music is refreshingly clean and precise. Vocalist/guitarist Nick Gaynier sings in a warble/wail similar to Gene Loves Jezebel's Michael Ashton and his guitar lines are reverb-drenched and sound similar to some of the 80's post-punk British bands like The Church and The Chameleons. Bassist Dave Nurmi keeps a steady rolling bass-line beneath the guitars and James Mello's drumming is extremely crisp. In a recent interview, the band described their music as "sweaty distorted political pop hooks echo".

Appomattox recently played an invite-only show at The Bunker Studio in Williamsburg and here is a live video of "Speculators" from the new EP.

In a recent interview with Ascap.Com, the band were asked "How does a Brooklyn band set themselves apart from all the myriad other bands in the most band-filled borough of New York?" Nick answered "One thing that makes us different is we sing about things that we think matter to people right now, [political content]. I just don't think many Brooklyn bands really address that stuff, and the ones that do tend to be 'all message, no hooks'." I have to have to give the band credit as I listened to the band's song "Olympia Snowe" which contains the lyrics "If I let go / Would you keep taking money from every lobby in town? / If I let go / Would you keep making money for everybody who keeps us down?" and spent some time tonight reading about Ms. Snowe's voting record.

Appomattox's post-punk, guitar-driven sound gives the band's music a distinctive ring and, based on the energy of their live videos, the band sounds like they would be a lot of fun to see live.


First Aid Kit Releases Full Live Set as Free Download // jack White Produced 7-Inch Single Out 1/18/11

DOWNLOAD: First Aid Kit - 10-Song Set Recorded Live in Sydney, Australia Sept. '10 (requires registration)

First Aid Kit Releases Full Live Set as Free Download // jack White Produced 7-Inch Single Out 1/18/11Rising Swedish folk-pop duo First Aid Kit are among the latest artists to take part in Third Man Records' Blue Series of releases. The special series of 7-inch records, produced by Jack White and recorded at his own Third Man Studios in Nashville, has featured releases from Wanda Jackson, Laura Marling and Secret Sisters, among others.

For their Blue Series 7-inch, First Aid Kit recorded covers of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" (made famous in 1965 by Donovan) and classic blues standard "It Hurts Me Too", a song much loved by fans of Karen Dalton's 1969 folk-blues version. First Aid Kit, comprised of 17 and 20-year old sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, recorded the tracks with White during the Nashville stop on their US headlining tour in October. Joshua Hedley joins the duo on fiddle for both tracks, while touring drummer Mattias Bergqvist, their father Benkt Söderberg, and Jack Lawrence (The Greenhornes, The Raconteurs), also contribute additional instrumentation on "It Hurts Me Too."

First Aid Kit's Blue Series single comes out on January 18th, 2011.

First Aid Kit

Dastardly (Chicago Indie-Americana) Released Debut Full-Length on Dec. 9th // Show at Arlene's Grocery on Jan. 6th

Sometimes a video is worth more than words -- below is the video for "Exercises in Self Loathing" from Dastardly's debut CD May You Never.... Chicago's Dastardly combines the influence of Roy Orbison and the Carter Family with an understanding of experimental indie-rock to create an eerie but exciting blend of new and old.

Chicagoist just wrote a piece on the band and said "[l]ocal sextet Dastardly may mockingly bemoan the fact that they’re neither pretty enough for the mainstream nor weird enough for the underground on their new EP, May You Never. But, based on the seven-track collection of jaunty, steadily satisfying tunes, they’ll soon have to ward off attention from both music factions, whether they’re ready for it or not."

The band is making their first trip to the East Coast and will be playing at Arlene's Grocery on Thursday, January 6th. Sharing the bill is Toby Goodshank and tickets are $8.

On a somewhat unrelated note - I've been interested in what people have been listening to this year so Dastardly was kind enough to send along a "Top 10" list of 2010.

1. Beach House - Teen Dream
2. Kanye West - My Dark Twisted Beautiful Fantasy
3. Janelle Monae - The Archandroid
4. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
5. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
6. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot
7. Neil Young - Le Noise
8. Robyn - Body Talk
9. Morning Benders - Big Echo
10. Bad City - Welcome to the Wastelan


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dylan In The Movies Release "Girl With the Black Tights" (feat. Tanya Donelly)

Girl With The Black Tights by BrooklynRocks

Dylan In The Movies Release 'Girl With the Black Tights' (feat. Tanya Donelly)The new single from Dylan In The Movies has officially dropped (click on the cover to go to iTunes). “Girl With the Black Tights (feat. Tanya Donelly)” is another Dylan In The Movies gem full of epic hooks and beautiful harmonies. Indie-rock goddess, Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, Breeders, Belly) shares vocals and co-write credit.

Dylan In The Movies is the musical brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Brian Sullivan. In 2006, the band’s self-released ep "Feel the Pull" earned the band an indie cult following and caught the attention of DJs across the country, including those from KCRW and KEXP. Their long awaited debut full-length features guest appearances from The Watson Twins and Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, Breeders, Belly), who also shares a co-write credit on the track ‘Girl With the Black Tights.’ Having recorded the album at a number of New England locales, most notably on Gary Smith’s (Juliana Hatfield, Pixies, Billy Bragg) idyllic farm in New Hampshire, the sound is charged with an authentic sensibility that is only fitting for the band. Dylan In The Movies creates a mood within its musical landscape. There is an emotional rending that is explicit and revealing yet pleasantly delivered. A blend of nostalgia, loss, and redemption haunt these dreamlike melodies and killer hooks to astounding effect. Echoes of melodic melancholy run through standouts like "Josephine If You Only Knew" and "Truro", while "City Skies" and "Girl With the Black Tights" offer irresistible riffs that spill over with sunshine.

Dylan in the Movies

Backwords Release New Disc "Quilt" on Ltd. Edition Vinyl // NYE Show at Pete's Candy Store

DOWNLOAD: Backwords - "And Then Sigh" (from new CD Quilt)

Brooklyn psychedelic-country/folk band Backwords released a new full-length disc, Quilt, in Sept. and have just released a limited edition vinyl version. I was thinking of Backwords earlier today while writing a review of Jesse McReynolds' Songs of the Grateful Dead CD as Backwords reminds me of the Dead's Americana period or Neil Young alt-country songs.

Backwords are playing the "The Love-Rock New Year's Sweetriot Love-In " NYE show at Pete's Candy Store in Williamsburg.

For all those suckers who love to love, come with a smile and leave with two. Deluxe cocktails, real French bubbly, hot spiced cider and the soft glow of happy people are all conspiring to unbutton you. Add to the mix some free and amazing Chocolate treats by Sweetriot, and live music to die for and, in the words of Billy Ocean, 'suddenly, you're in love'.
Before 10pm - $5; 10pm and after - $10

Backwords Website
Backwords MySpace Profile

Jesse McReynolds & Friends - "Songs of the Grateful Dead" CD Review

"Jesse Lester McReynolds (born July 9, 1929, in Coeburn, Virginia) is an American bluegrass musician. He is known for his innovative crosspicking and split-string styles of mandolin playing, and is a forty two year member of the Grand Ole Opry. He is a multiple Grammy nominee and award winner." -- Wikipedia

Jesse McReynolds & Friends - In October, Jesse McReynolds released a loving twelve-track tribute to the music of the Grateful Dead and the disc features one new cut which McReynolds co-wrote with Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

Songs of the Grateful Dead isn't just bluegrass renditions of Grateful Dead tunes (like Dead Grass and The Grass is Dead) as McReynolds leveraged friends David Nelson (New Riders Of The Purple Sage) and Stu Allen to create an unique interpretations of each song which ultimately don't stray too far from the Dead's original versions. "It's a different type of music than I've done throughout the years," McReynolds says. "I didn't want to do it bluegrass. A few bluegrass groups have done Grateful Dead things. I wanted to do this more in a way that would be recognized as the Grateful Dead-style music. I did it pretty much in the middle of the road between bluegrass and rock 'n' roll."

In addition to the crisp and intricate instrumentals, McReynolds has a strong voice that isn't that far removed from Jerry Garcia's. “Jesse’s singing voice is like a long-lost brother voice between Jerry Garcia and David Nelson,” Robert Hunter wrote. “Everyone who knows their work and is fortunate enough to hear this record will know what I mean. What a trio you’d all have made! The singing is steady and strong. Jerry would approve, I’m certain.

Jesse recently headlined the "The Wheel -- A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia" at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Below are a couple live performances from this show of songs from Songs of the Grateful Dead.

Jesse McReynolds

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Old Monk: Brooklyn Garage Rock Band Announces Last Minute Show at Legion Bar on Dec. 17th

- "Exceptional drumming and creative licks create this band playing out of Brooklyn, New York. Their sound is captivating and extremely catchy."
-- The Daily Consciousness

DOWNLOAD: Old Monk - "Butter and Toast" (from Birds of Belize)

Old Monk started out as an internet collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Joshua Carrafa and drummer Ian Burns. The band came together in Brooklyn, picked up PINE*am's Tsugumi Takashi on bass and recorded their debut EP. The band is playing a last minute show on Friday night in advance of the release of their debut full-length Birds of Belize.

Old Monk

Michale Graves Plays Club Europa on Dec. 17th // Return to Earth CD Review

Michaele Grave Plays Club Europa on Dec. 17th // Return to Earth CD ReviewMichale Graves originally released the second disc, Return to Earth, under his own name in 2006 and this disc was recently picked up for distribution through MVD Entertainment. I haven’t seen Michale play live since a show a number of years back at L’Amour (which I think was a Web of Dharma show) and then I lost track of him musically after Gotham Road went on hiatus. The only point to mentioning all of this is that I dropped on Return to Earth expecting Michale Graves' solo release to sound like The Misfits as both Web of Dharma and Gotham Road weren’t that far removed.

As compared to Michale Graves’ past work, Return to Earth is somewhat of a mixed bag. On past releases, Graves’ distinctive voice was the centerpiece and most of the songs were melodic, sing-along horror punk. The horror movie themes have stayed but this is much more of a (alt-)rock album than his past work so there is a minimal amount of group vocal melodies and some songs even push Graves’ vocals down to an equal level with the guitars.

"We Wait" and "Our Moment Away" capture the classic Graves sound of the past but the disc makes a number of stylistic jumps. "Creepy Crawl" and "Dead Beat" both sound like they came out of the Seattle grunge era, "Nobody Thinks About Me" is stylistically close to a Nirvana tune and "Return to Earth" is a multi-tracked piano ballad. The disc ends with the introspective tune "Butchershop" which showcases Michale's vocals. While Michale's stylistic jumps can be somewhat disconcerting, he has a lot more vocal prowess than I've ever given him credit for. Return to Earth is a solid release but a little more musical consistency will go a long way toward increasing the staying power of future releases.

Michale Graves is playing Club Europa this Friday, Dec. 17th, with Cryptkeeper 5 and Ignite Violet. Tickets are $10 and doors are at 7PM.

Michale Graves

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

King Diamond Recovering from Triple Bypass Surgery (Metal Blade)

King Diamond Undergoes Triple Bypass Surgery (Metal Blade)King Diamond's wife, Livia, made the following post on the official King Diamond website:

"Let me catch you all up on the past couple of weeks' happenings, because it affects many things.

On Monday the 29th of November, King had to be transported to the nearby hospital by ambulance. After several different tests were done and the EKG machine showing abnormalities, the doctors recommended that he get a cardiac catheterization.

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure where the doctors lead a very thin tube up from the leg and into the heart, where it injects dye into the bloodstream. Then a camera at the end of the tube takes many pictures of the heart's arteries, looking for blockages. After this was done, they determined that King had several heart attacks, and three of his heart's arteries were the cause: one was completely blocked, the second was 90% blocked, and the third was 65% blocked.

The only solution to this was an open heart triple bypass surgery.

If you are interested in the details of how this surgery is performed, please look it up online. I will only touch on the basics. The sternum (breastbone) is cut in half and pulled apart, to expose the heart. Veins are harvested from other places of the body, in King's case it was his left leg and chest wall. The person is then hooked up to a machine that practically does the job of the heart, circulating and oxygenating the blood. The heart is then stopped, and the lungs collapse (the lungs stop working since the blood is being oxygenated by the machine). The surgeon then sews the harvested veins in place, bypassing the found blockages. Once the surgery is done, the surgeon moves the ribs and breastbone back into place and wires it together. The chest is closed as well. They use an electric pulse to start the heart and a breathing machine is lead into the lungs to restart breathing. King's surgery took approximately 7 hours.

Everything went well, and King was taken to ICU for recovery. He was walking and eating solid food already 2 days after the operation, and he was the first one in the history of the hospital who walked on his own power from the ICU to normal care. 10 days after the ambulance took him to the emergency room, he is at home and is recovering well. It will be a few months before he feels completely normal and is without pain.

He would like to mention here that he's eternally grateful for the wonderful staff at Centennial Medical Center who took care of him. Dr. Kourlis, Dr. Kamili, Dr. Alang, Nurse Christie and Nurse Thomas among many others made sure that he got the best care and attention he could ever have hoped for. They were always very nice to me too, letting me stay overnight in the ICU after visiting hours were over.

In light of this, he will be taking a break from music and the music business altogether until further notice. He very much wants to write new music, finish the DVDs, and go on tour, but for now, all those things are in the distant future and he's not thinking about them.

Please understand that the King Diamond band is not stopping, disbanding or anything of the sort. King's health is first priority, and when everything is going good with him, the music will resume.

Thank you all very much for reading this and STAY HEAVY,

King Diamond

Wino (St. Vitus) Plays Acoustic Show with Scott Kelly (Neurosis) at Mercury Lounge on Feb. 12th

In advance of the US release of his solo album Adrift, Wino will hit the road stateside this February on a short acoustic tour, rocking alongside longtime friend, and also Shrinebuilder bandmate, Scott Kelly (Neurosis). The tour will be in support of the upcoming split 7" between Wino and Kelly, to be released early in the year by Volcom, as well as the Adrift album.

Wino/Scott Kelly February 2011 Tour:
2/05/11 Viper Room - Hollywood, CA
2/07/11 Casbah - San Diego, CA
2/08/11 Emo's - Austin, TX
2/09/11 Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL
2/10/11 Great Scott - Allston, MA
2/11/11 Sonar - Baltimore, MD
2/12/11 Mercury Lounge - New York, NY

Answering the call from his friends and supporters to record an acoustic solo album following the sudden and tragic passing of friend and bandmate Jon Blank, who appeared on Wino's first "solo release" Punctuated Equilibrium album in 2009, he set to work on his most personal and powerful recording to date. Adrift is a revealing alternative view of this underground legend’s personality and history. Stripped down to the bare minimum — just his voice and his guitar — the songs on Adrift follow classic American songwriting ideals offering a compelling mixture of emotion and storytelling.

Wino is a man on his own in a boat without sails. He’s fighting against tides and storms, enjoying the moments of bright sunshine; bound to the will of something external — the wind, destiny and the drift. Easily his most heartfelt and personal material to be recorded to date, the twelve tracks on Adrift help elevate this already iconic musician to a new level of storytelling, setting Wino up to fall right in line with greats like Johnny Cash, Woodie Guthrie, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and other classic American songwriters.

Adrift Track Listing:
01. Adrift
02. I Don't Care
03. Hold On Love
04. Mala Suerte
05. Old And Alone
06. Iron Horse/Born To Lose
07. Suzanes Song
08. DBear
09. Whatever
10. Shot In The Head
11. O.B.E.
12. Green Speed

Adrift is set for North American release on respected German label Exile On Mainstream Records on March 8th, 2011 (the label now distributed domestically by E1 Entertainment). A limited edition vinyl version of the album featuring extended liner notes and more is to be released in the U.S. on January 18th by Volcom Entertainment.

Tickets for the show at Mercury Lounge are $12 in advance and $14 (DOS). Man's Gin (of Cobalt) kicks off the show at 9:30PM who is then followed by Wino at 10:30PM and Scott Kelly at 11:30PM.

Holy Grail: Crisis in Utopia CD Review // Show at Gramercy Theater on Feb. 2nd

Holy Grail: Crisis in Utopia CD Review // Show at Gramercy Theater on Feb. 2nd Holy Grail formed from the ashes of the original lineup of White Wizzard (Earache) and created a buzz with their non-stop touring (with bands like Exodus, Saviours and 3 Inches of Blood) and their 2009 EP “Improper Burial”. While the two originals on the EP provided an initial view into the band’s thrash-infused power metal sound, Holy Grail firmly established their sound with the release of their debut full-length disc Crisis in Utopia this past October (Prosthetic). Breaking from their White Wizzard / NWOBHM-revival roots, Crisis in Utopia incorporates significant elements from thrash and speed metal which pushes them closer in sound to bands like Armored Saint and Accept.

Across the disc’s ten tracks, the band combines a strong sense of melody with an equal level of aggression. The band leads this charge with a combined attack of dual-lead guitars and James Paul Luna’s vocals. Luna sings in a rawer, raspier voice than he did on White Wizzard’s debut CD which he can take up to a falsetto scream. Backing vocals range from clean vocals harmonies to the (expected) melodic “wow-oh-oh” to a death metal growl. Lyrically, the band’s focus is on sword and sorcery imagery but, while some of the songs are shout-along fist pumpers, the lyrics seem to take a backseat to the raw sonic power of the music.

Guitarists James LaRue and Eli Santana skip the NWOBHM power-metal leads and play fast-paced, technical, speed metal riffs (check out the dueling leads on the disc opener “My Last Attack” and “Fight to Kill”, which is an aggressive hold-over from the 2009 EP) and the drumming stops just short of death metal blast beats. The only exception to this is “Nocturne in D Minor” which breaks up the disc mid-way with an atmospheric instrumental which highlights a flute and acoustic guitar.

Holy Grail were in town with Exodus and Bonded by Blood this past August (video from the show is below).

The band is coming back to the Gramercy Theater with 3 Inches of Blood, Eluveitie and System Divide on Feb. 2nd. Tickets are $18 (+$9 LiveNation surcharge if you buy tickets using and doors are at 7PM.

Holy Grail

Monday, December 13, 2010

Black Taxi Release New Video for "Shoeshine" // Show at Bowery Ballroom on Jan. 29th

When listening to Brooklyn new-wave/psych-rock band Black Taxi, one can hear a diverse range of influences in the band’s dance-punk sound that range from Daft Punk to The Clash. The band’s sound is meant to be heard in a live setting and their explosive live sets have led to sold-out shows at Bowery Ballroom, Brooklyn Bowl and Bowery Electric.

Black Taxi just released a video for the song "Shoeshine" (which is the lead-off track from 2009’s Thing of that Nature).

Black Taxi welcomes 2011 with a local show on January 29th at the Bowery Ballroom. Sharing the bill is Deadbeat Darling, Frontier Brothers and Miniboone. Advanced tickets are $13 and $15 (DOS). Doors are at 7:30PM and the show starts at 8:30PM.

Black Taxi

(SHOW POSTPONED) The Morning After Girls Play Le Poisson Rouge on Jan. 13th

UPDATE: Show postponed due to Visa issues

The Morning After Girls Play Le Poisson Rouge on Jan. 13thAfter what seems to have been a long silence, Australia-to-New York transplants The Morning After Girls will be playing their first show of 2011 at Le Poisson Rouge on January 13th.

The band released their latest two discs in 2009 where they continued to evolve their Jesus and Mary Chain meets The Dandy Warhols sound. "The General Public" EP was released early in 2009 and this disc was produced Alan Moulder (producer/engineer for Jesus & Mary Chain, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, etc.). Continuing to work with Molder, The Morning After Girls followed this EP with a digital-only full-length release, Alone, which is now coming out in a physical format next month (Xemu Records).

Tickets for the show at Le Poisson Rouge are $10 in advance and $12 DOS. Doors are at 8PM and the show starts at 9PM.

The Morning After Girls

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Juno's Musical ABCs Available for Free through the App Store (iPad)

My youngest is now reading on his own but I would have loved to have had an app like this a few years ago.

Narrated by talented actress and dedicated mom, Brooke Shields, Juno’s Musical ABCs takes children on a lyrical journey through the alphabet using fun rhymes, colorful images and the beloved Juno characters. With each touch of the screen your child brings the story to life, interacting with characters, letters, musical instruments and more. In addition, the App’s three reading modes (Read It To Me, Read It Myself and Autoplay) provide an option for all reading levels!

Juno’s Musical ABCs is part of a new series of educational Apps from our team that will provide children with a much needed musical learning tool and we’re delighted to have Brooke Shields’ participation in the project,” said Barrett Cohn, CEO of The Juno Company. “We plan to raise the bar in the Apps market as we continue to build exceptionally engaging and fun mobile content for children.

Juno's Musical ABCs (download link)

Paul McCartney – Band on the Run 2CD/DVD Review

Paul McCartney – Band on the Run 2CD/DVD ReviewThe 2010 reissue of Band on the Run marks the first in Hear Music/Concord Music Group’s series of deluxe reissues of Paul McCartney’s back catalogue. The packaging of this set is beautiful and recreates the experience of owning the original album. The set comes in a tri-fold cardboard package and contains a booklet with song lyrics and photos, which were part of the original vinyl release, along with a reflective essay by Paul Gambaccini, who had interviewed Macca for Rolling Stone at the time of the album’s original release. The sound is crystal clear but I can’t comment on how this compares to any of the previously issued CD versions of Band on the Run as I never replaced my vinyl version. To provide a frame of reference for the audio purists, the remastering was supervised by the same team who remastered the Beatles catalogue last year.

The first disc of the set is the nine song UK version of Band on the Run. The song “Helen Wheels”, which was always part of the US pressing, has been moved to disc two. The other studio tracks on disc two are the non-LP b-sides “Country Dreamer” (b-side to “Helen Wheels”) and “Zoo Gang” (b-side to “Band on the Run”). The remainder of disc two is comprised of six tracks from Macca’s previously unreleased TV Special “One Hand Clapping” which was filmed live in the studio at Abbey Roads. While it is great to finally see the often bootlegged “One Hand Clapping” get a legitimate release, I would have loved to have seen all fifteen tracks from this session included in the audio portion of this set.

The DVD includes the original pre-MTV music videos for "Band on the Run", “Helen Wheels and “Mamunia”. As a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the “Band on the Run” video prior this release and was intrigued with the use of “Yellow Submarine-ish” Beatles imagery within the video. Also on the DVD is a video promo for the album, silent B&W footage from the recording sessions in Lagos which is backed by an alternate version of “Band on the Run” and the complete “One Hand Clapping” TV Special.

There are a number of different versions of this release which include a 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition where the additional CD contains an audio documentary originally produced for the album's 25th Anniversary release in 1999. The Deluxe Edition also comes with a 120-page hard-bound containing photos by Linda McCartney and Clive Arrowsmith.

Paul McCartney