Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ministry - "Relapse" CD Review (13th Planet Records)

STREAM: Ministry - "Relapse"

In thinking about all the ‘farewell’ tours of the past twenty years (which have included UFO, Ozzy Osbourne, The Who and Elton John), I can’t remember any musicians that have stayed ‘retired’. As such, it should come as no surprise that, after a five year hiatus from studio recording, Al Jourgensen has put out a new disc under the Ministry banner.

Relapse is Ministry’s twelfth studio disc and it was released on March 23rd through Jourgensen’s 13th Planet Records. Hold-overs from last decade’s ant-Bush trilogy, Mike Scaccia (guitars) and Tommy Victor (guitars) rejoin Jourgensen for this outing along with newcomers Tony Campos (bass), Arron Rossi (drums), and Casey Orr (bass, keyboards).

 Jourgensen described this new disc as “being the fastest and heaviest record I've ever done” but I don’t think that is quite the case as this new disc is closer to the Bush trilogy than the pissed-off industrial sounds of Psalm 69. Jourgensen is still righteously angry but his venom is directed toward record companies and band managers, Operation Geronimo and the hunt for Bin Laden, Wall Street and Big Business and there is also a semi-confessional tale about drug abuse. The disc also includes a straight-forward run-through of Stormtroopers of Death’s “United Forces”.

 In an interview with Metal Hammer, Jourgensen was asked “without a Bush in office what’s your muse?” “Trust me I got plenty of Republican’s to rail at. Look at Wall Street look at the complete destruction of the middle class in the world, I mean we have a ruling oligarchy which happened in the early 1900s with the robber barons. What these idiot greedy bastards don’t realize is that if they make a class of poor and a class of super wealthy, who’s gonna buy their product? There’s no middle class, there’s no money. That’s the Republican strategy. In the political process and the right wing too with the Murdochs and the Camerons and the shit u got going on over there. If you’re 1 % of the population and you own 80% of the wealth, who’s gonna buy what you’re making?

 It is great to see Ministry back in action! Now for the bad news...this disc has a ‘radio friendly’ gloss, sing-along choruses and little of the menace that made the Psalm 69 era of Ministry great. Only the disc’s final track, “Bloodlust” shows signs of the Ministry of the past and songs like “Ghouldiggers” and “Weekend Warrior” sound like GWAR or Meatmen leftovers that are geared toward a “Hot Topic bro-pit” audience. I’m not one of those people who get grumpy when a band changes their sound – Relapse isn’t a bad disc but it is indistinguishable from the numerous “flavor of the month” bands that played the second stage at OzzFest and similar festivals. Without the Ministry name on the packaging, this disc would likely get minimal attention.

 Ministry is playing a short run of US show which includes a stop at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square with Blackburner on June 23. Tickets are $69.69 and VIP tickets are $110. (Hmm Al…good job raging against the ‘greedy bastards’ and then come through with a $70 ticket).

Ministry 2012 Tour Dates
June 17, 2012 – Denver, Ogden Theatre
June 21, 2012 - Los Angeles, Club Nokia
June 23, 2012 - New York, Best Buy Nokia
June 28, 2012 – Chicago, The Vic Theatre
June 29, 2012 – Chicago, The Vic Theatre


Monday, April 09, 2012

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's are Playing MHOW on April 11th along with Writer and Ezra Furman

(Photo: Stephanie Bassos)
Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s released their fifth disc, Rot Gut, Domestic, last month which was Nukes' rawest take on their evocative, soaring brand of guitar-centric pop. Singer/songwriter Richard Edwards wrote Rot Gut, Domestic over 26 days in Pismo Beach, CA last spring. Plagued by chronic stomach pain, he'd headed to Pismo Beach - which had become a somewhat mythical place for the band, a respite of calm and healing where they'd somehow always been drawn - following the last days of the band's touring around Buzzard.

The new album was conceived as the second installment of the band's 'panic pop' trilogy, Edwards composing a new set of songs about Midwestern fringe characters set to his skewed version of the pop music on which he was raised. Upon returning to his current hometown of Chicago, IL, Edwards and the rest of the band headed into Electrical Audio studio with producer/engineer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, The Walkmen). The Nukes churned out these 12 resounding tracks over 10 days in July before Congleton returned to his Dallas, TX studio to mix the album.

Margot and the Nukes are playing Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on Wednesday, April 12th along with Ezra Furman and Writer. (Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 DOS)

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

DRUNKSOULS - "Revolution" CD Review

DRUNKSOULS is an indie reggae/rock band from Marseille, France and the band released their second disc, Revolution, late last year. The band has gotten some comparisons to Gorillaz (don’t hear it at all) and Manu Chao (never heard his music) but I think a better comparison is to the light, breezy reggae sounds of Michael Franti’s last Spearhead album crossed with hints of The Specials along with some elements of commercially accessible worldbeat thrown in the mix.

DRUNKSOULS formed in 2002 and the band has progressively generating a buzz with over 100,000 downloads of their debut album and a song included in the documentary “I Believe I Can Fly” (the story of Skyliners, a team of French adventurers who specialize in highline tightrope walking, base-jumping, and mountaineering). Footage from this film can be seen in the band’s latest video “Human Race”.

DRUNKSOULS’ music doesn’t stray much beyond a mid-tempo “bounce” but it touches on a number of styles across the different tracks. “Drifter Song” is classic 80’s dance-funk and the band follows this by adding horns and stop/start rhythms to the next track, “Human Race”, where DRUNKSOULS sounds somewhat like The Beat or The Specials. “Lust” has a slow R&B pulse and “The End” is almost cabaret in its construction. As a fan of 80’s alt-rock, the band hits its groove with “Supermarket”, which has the pace and intensity of the classic British two-tone bands and “Revolution” which sounds like something Peter Gabriel would have written. “Sullivan Story” could have been a winner as well if the band had picked up the tempos a bit more.

The band’s lyrics touch on both the personal and the political with themes of war, sex, apathy and revolution (and almost all of the songs are sung in English) and often build to a sing-a-long chorus. Djamil Ramdane styles his vocals to almost become another instrument and his varied vocal delivery ranges from smooth R&B to rap.

This is the sort of disc that you would listen to while hanging outside where the drinks are flowing and “sink” into the disc’s smooth pop, pulsing bass lines and slow burning Jamaican ska beats. There is also enough substance to the music, the interesting atypical instrumentation and lyrics so that different elements reveal themselves upon repeat listens.


Friday, April 06, 2012

Fort Wilson Riot: Indie Dance-Rock Duo Plays Fontana's on April 18th

DOWNLOAD: Fort Wilson Riot - Daytrotter Session 1/29/11 (Note: Requires login/membership to download)

Fort Wilson Riot: Indie Dance-Rock Duo Plays Fontana's on April 18thMinneapolis dance-rock duo Fort Wilson Riot came through town last December in support of their then new EP, "Generation Complex". If I had bothered with a "Best of 2011" list, this disc would have made the list as the EP pulled me in right away with its dark and catchy rhythms.

In their own music, Fort Wilson Riot isn’t just happy to let it stay the same either. Yes, they make great harmonies, with Amy’s soprano lifting and floating over Jacob’s growl and yelp, but there is nothing easily classifiable about the rest of their sound. From the crashing guitars and keys, to the blasting uplift of trumpet and harmonica lines to the dancing thump of electronic drums, Fort Wilson Riot are an energy that grabs a hold of you and takes you on a journey. The music doesn’t let up, and wherever they are, neither do Fort Wilson Riot.

Fort Wilson Riot are playing Fontana's on April 18th along with Shane Shane and The Tangibles. Cover is $7 and Fort Wilson Riot goes on at 9PM.

Fort Wilson Riot

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Town Hall: Brooklyn Indie-Folk Band Releases Video for "Good Boy" / Record Release Show at The Studio at Webster Hall on April 15th

Town Hall "sold me" with their EP "Sticky Notes & Paper Scraps" which was a mellow "late night" listen and the band is now following up this EP with their full-length debut Roots and Bells. The new disc is out April 15th and Town Hall is also playing a record release show that night at The Studio at Webster Hall. As a run-up to the album release, Town Hall just released their first official music video for "Good Boy", which is the first single off the new disc.

Here is what the band had to say about the new video:

“Good Boy" is incredibly different from any track on our EP, Sticky Notes & Paper Scraps (released in January & available for FREE at People who heard the EP might expect our new album to be just as quiet and introspective. This will totally catch them off guard. This song uses heavier rock conventions to convey the dark, crafty story of a kid up to no good. He sets his neighbor's cat on fire, gets violent revenge on a bully, and even ends up robbing a bank. While the backbone of the song is that old, familiar rock n' roll adage of 'sticking it to the man,' there is plenty of humor and fun expressed in the melodies, rhythms, and vocals. The video is set in any New England suburb, where big, white houses line the streets and neighbors stand outside trimming their hedges. The familiarity of it all contrasts the quirky, inventive camerawork of cinematographers Andrew Ellis and Ryan Nethery and director Matt Porter. They seized every opportunity to create a music video that is as much of a delinquent as the main character. The song and the video were produced by Mason Jar Music, a Brooklyn based collective of musicians, producers, filmmakers, and composers. We highly recommend visiting their site for more information and examples of their exceptional work.

For the show at Webster Hall, Town Hall is playing with EMEFE and Flearoy and the band is also playing an acoustic opening set. Tickets are $10 and doors are at 7:30PM.

Town Hall

Violens: Brooklyn Shoe Gazers Play Record Release Show at Le Poisson Rouge on May 16th

Violens: Brooklyn Shoe Gazers Play Record Release Show at Le Poisson Rouge on May 16thViolens' forthcoming album, True, finds the Brooklyn three-piece further amplifying their innovative songwriting with a palette of exquisitely crafted sound. The band's music eludes classification, expertly blending percussive guitar work and silky harmonies, seeking the silver lining yet to be discovered between the sounds we know and love. With a wash of 90s sonic pop drawn from artists like Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins and McCarthy, Violens paint soft watercolor notes across their compositions, adding crucial emotional depth via layered vocal harmonies.

The album's first single, "Totally True," demonstrates this with its stone-washed, semi-improvised feel, celebrating bands like The Chameleons and Martin Newell's Cleaners From Venus. The guitars are clean and jangling, meshing perfectly with the driving bassline. The lovely vocals have an almost 60s feel; their debt to such soft-rock touchstones as The Association and Sagittarius is one of the unique elements of Violens' sound that sets them well-apart from many of their contemporaries. According to the band, "'Totally True' is a nearly impossible idea if you think about it, but a fun song to play live. I think we were imagining an ego-driven 19-year-old when we wrote it, extremely attractive, blonde and treacherous. It took Jorge months to learn the solo and he still fucks it up all the time..." The b-side, 'Something Falling', is a dreamy ballad marked by an effectively spare production, sweeping synths and the band's trademark harmonies.

Violens East Coast Tour Dates (more dates to be announced soon)
4/14 - Miami, FL @ Maps Backlot -Art Walk Concert Series
4/28 - Hamden, CT @ Outer Space w/Lower Dens
4/29 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott w/Lower Dens
5/03 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's w/Lower Dens
5/04 - Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel w/Lower Dens
5/05 - Baltimore, MD @Otto Bar w/ Lower Dens

5/16 - New York, NY @Le Poisson Rouge (Record Release show)
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 DOS


Monks of Mellonwah - "Neurogenesis" CD Ep Review

Monks of Mellonwah - 'Neurogenesis' CD Ep ReviewIf one waits long enough, what was old becomes new again. I recently reviewed a CD where the immediate comparison was to 90’s ‘modern rock’ bands like Fuel. Australian buzz band Monks of Mellonwah mine a similar 80’s alt-rock/90’s modern rock vein on their new EP “Neurogenesis”. The band’s music is built upon a core that is comparable to warm and shimmering sound that Eno and Daniel Lanois added to U2’s Joshua Tree. The four songs on this disc (there is also a remix of the title track “Neurogenesis”) sound like the band draws upon a range of influences that include Californication-era RHCP (“Never Ending Spirit”) and Deep-era Peter Murphy (“Kyoto”). The title track “Neurogenesis” has a Joshua Tree shimmer and will be on the soundtrack for the upcoming movie The Errand Boy and the disc’s final track, “You Shine”, is captivating with its tribal chanting and drumming.

Monks of Mellonwah recently won the “Best Indie Rock Band” award at the Artists in Music Awards 2012 and have been nominated for the best International Artist in the LA Music Awards. “Neurogenesis” will be released May 24, 2012.

Monks of Mellonwah