Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ripple News - Ripple Exclusive Video Updates on Tour with Hypno5e

Hypno5e: Video Updates from the Road

As I’m sure that you’re all aware, I have this new found love for all that is metal. And lately, if it’s from France, it’s gonna’ be some of the most interesting and compelling music scenes on the face of the earth. As it so happens, our good friends in Hypno5e have hit American shores in recent weeks and through our great working relationship with All About the Music Promotion, we’ve been given the blessing to air some unreleased, Ripple Exclusive, video updates from the band. These videos capture the travails of hitting the road in support of the music we all love, and this band shows a lighter side with their humor and an equally dark side with their video work.

Never have I seen a bands day to day life on the road made in such an epic fashion. If you’re on the East Coast, don’t miss these guys. Make their pain and suffering worth something!

Check them out!



Ripple News - Create a Music Video for The Ready Set


Since we had such a great response with the Duncan Sheik contest we wrote about last week, we'd thought we'd give all you waveriders out there with a love of creativity another avenue to explore your muse.

The Ready Set is a new electronic artist, creating his own style of dance punk. He's just finishing up a nation-wide tour and is starting to pick up the buzz.

Now, there's a new promotion being run on his myspace page. The Ready Set is having fans make a music video for one of his songs, the winner of the contest will receive either a party/dance that the Ready Set will DJ, or a free Ready Set show in their hometown.

You can find more details at http://www.myspace.com/thereadysetmusic

Ripple News - Road Crew Comics - A Must Read for Any Music Fan!

Road Crew – Behind Every Legendary Rock Band Is A Legendary Road Crew


Waveriders, you gotta’ check this out! Road Crew is a daily comic strip that is published at www.roadcrewcomic.com and it has to be one of the most entertaining and humorous comics that we’ve read in a long while. The comic depicts the life of Jim Soundman, Matt Mason (Lighting Engineer), and Eric Newman (Jim’s Slave) as they ride the road of rock ‘n roll in front of the fictional band, Broken Watch, getting themselves into some of the most off beat situations one could imagine possible. What separates this strip from any and every music based comic strip is the characters, which are so well developed that they have to be based on people that creator Tommie Kelly either knows or has run into. Yes, we actually care about these characters and look forward to seeing what happens to them the following day! On top of that, the art has a professional quality to it, especially as the story goes on for a bit. We like seeing the work improve . . . it tells us that Tommie cares about his craft and isn’t in this simply for the payoff.

Go back through the archives and read this bad boy from the beginning, and then get back to us when you run into Jimmy Page and tell me that the scenario isn’t just hilarious! Warning: There are panels that show a woman’s tata’s and there is a bit of profanity used in the dialogue. What did you expect? It’s rock ‘n roll! It’s supposed to get a rise out of you!

Don't miss it!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chillin' with the Rip - A Ripple Guide to Calming the Noise

I played some poker last night. Don't ask me how I did, but let's just say next time I may just give my money at the door and save the time and embarrassment of actually playing the game. But I digress, that's not the subject of this review. What is, is the fact that this morning, I'm broke, tired, slightly hung-over, and moving too slowly to listen to anything that's going to hurt. I'm sure you know what I mean. Hung over, broke, or not, some days you just want to chill. The fact that today is a cloudy, cold, overcast, totally grey day, just adds to that snuggle under the covers, drink some tea, and relax mode.

So, with that introduction, what sounds should we spin today? Although we cover a lot of metal, rock and punk here at the Ripple, the truth is we also dig a cool chill vibe when the time is right. So today, we're going to peruse through some of the nice downtempo that's been coming into the Ripple Office.


Matt Pond - The Free EP

I've been blessed enough to have this EP sitting on my computer for a while now, and believe me, it's gotten it's share of spins. Matt has an angelic voice, tinged with just the right amount of emotion; perfect to bring out the texture of his sparse, evocative indy pop. Acoustic-based, but not afraid to add layers of sound into the sonic mix, Matt Pond creating a dreamy, ambient at times, soundscape. Think The Uglysuit or Shuteye Unison in execution and intent, laced with just a touch of drone rock. This is music to make you just want to lie back and wonder, losing yourself on floating clouds sweeping you away to some far off, slightly melancholy land where Matt hangs out under a weeping willow, strumming his guitar, birds fluttering by, fish swimming at this feet.

Each song here weaves through the same ethereal sky, lushly played and absolutely mesmerizing. "Hearts and Minds," starts us off on our journey to chill land, intoxicating and sumptuous. Acoustic guitars sprinkled with some electric tones and bright synth washes. As everywhere, Matt's voice is achingly lovely, perfectly blended with the music to begin our transportation away from hangoversville. And lest you think this is a one-dimensional visitation, Matt's breaks it up with some sparse percussion and a steadier beat on songs like "Imperfect." A smattering of gorgeously constructed instrumentals break up the beefier songs, all in all, creating an effect of gentleness, while still not abandoning the rock vibe. A beautiful way to begin the morning and gently begin accustoming my eyes to the morning's light. This one has, and will continue to get played often. And lest you missed it in the title, the whole nine-song EP is available for free download on Matt's site. Trust me, it's a journey worth taking.

Get EP here: Matt Pond - The Free EP



My Sleeping Karma - Satya

Two years ago, my wife and I went on a trek across Tibet. Flying into Lhasa, we spent a few weeks acclimatizing to the altitude, then, just the two of us, started off on a trek towards the Everest region. If any of you have ever been over to my Myspace page, you've seen a picture of what this journey was like. Just the two of us, alone, walking through the unimaginable vastness of the Himalayas. Never in my life have I seen so much open space. It seemed to have a life all it's own, a peace, a purpose. The feeling of connectedness with all that was around me was stunning.

Now for that journey, we didn't play any music, but if we had, My Sleeping Karma would've been it. Released on the Elektrohasch Label, this is a mesmerizing, near-ambient, but captivating blend of psychedelic stoner rock. If I could put the barren spaces of the Himalayas to music, this is what it would sound like, spiritually tinged, deeply organic, swirling in melody. The band doesn't eschew the rockier moments, but rather they sublimate them into the mix. The rocking is gentle, subtle, layered in the mix rather than the focus.

My Sleeping Karma explore worlds of Buddhist teachings with songs crafted around repetitive, fluid guitars, huge looping bass lines and intricate, intoxicating percussion. This is a rich ocean of deeply meditative, wholly evocative instrumentals (except for one track which features the ethereal vocal textures of Katrin Wiessler), that loses itself in it's own mantra of groove, carrying the listener through expansive pieces of spiritual discovery. Occasionally, the gang dip into a little crunchier Kyuss-edged material, but for the most part this is the sound of four guys sitting in a room laden with incense, candles burning underneath the Buddhas on the alter, instruments in hand, getting in touch with their inner God. Losing themselves in the moment of creation. Beautiful stuff.

Buy here: My Sleeping Karma


Elsiane - Hybrid

I've seen many reviews of this disc that tout it as a "Bjork-doing-trip-hop" kinda thing. Nothing personal against those reviewers, but I think they all missed the boat on this one. Singing with a nasally inflected-tone with gobs of vocal hiccups doesn't qualify the vocals as Bjork-esque, and thriving to a slow vibe doesn't mean this is trip-hop. Instead, I see this album as something totally different. Elsiane Caplette's vocals, clearly distinctive, remind me most of Billie Holiday or even a Erykah Badu, and I don't see this as trip-hop, but rather the cool jazz lounge music of a future time and place. Imagine a dark, intimate room, beautiful woman, gorgeously dressed, cigarette smoke lilting in the air. A band enters, laying down the chill. That's Elsiane.

When it comes to this sort of downtempo, I love my bass lines huge and looping, filled with dub effects. Sprinkle in some synth textures, layers of melody and a touch of melancholy and we got a winner. Despite the mostly somber tone, Elsiane's voice manages to mix with the music creating a shimmering, sparkling album, like the stars shinning through a cloudy night. Pinpoints of light against the dark sky. Songs like "Vaporous," add gentle violin moments, while on "Prosaic" percussion takes over for the intro before the deep wavering bass drops in. In the end, your enjoyment of the album will rest on your comfort with Elsiane's coquettish vocals, which may take some getting used to for some, but for me were instantly transporting to that futuristic Billie Holiday bar. A place I can't wait to revisit. Often.


Buy here: Hybrid


Matt Pond - So Much Trouble (not on the EP)



My Sleeping Karma - Asteya


Elsiane - Vaporous

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shadows Lie - Echoes

Shadows Lie pulses out of the New York underground with rare authority and sound on their debut album Echoes. Kira Leigh, her multi-octave range used in full service of the powerful and haunting music, draws us in, wrapping us in a bittersweet cocoon of rage and lust.

The opening track, "Dead End," delivers with power and punch the band’s strengths: Kira’s vocals start in one direction, before the band brings the hammer, CT Tamura on bass, Frank Grullen on guitar, and Marco Britti on drums. Kira lays down the line: I should turn the blade from me to you/punish you for all the things you do/twist the knife and/watch you lose your mind. Mixing electronic elements, Leigh and Tamura are smart enough to know when to pull back, bits of Portishead swirling around, but they know that the lull before the storm only makes the fury that much worse. Kira’s howl is an animal’s rage, sweet taffy around an anvil, as they break down one final time, I’ll skin myself alive, an army of Kira’s sing as the band makes good that threat. Staind only wished that they kicked ass as much this first 4 minutes. (I have been corrected recently: Leigh and Temura are responsible for all the sounds on this album. Grullen and Britti are in the live band and should be on the next CD. Please read the rest of the review with this in mind! - Iguana 2/27/09)

"Ghost" pulls it all back into focus. The influences are here, but none quoted so much that you find yourself thinking you know where it comes from. Your soul is lost/and I pay the cost/ no longer here/I disappear Kira sings, the haunting quality of her voice feels like Tori Amos at her most plaintive, yet you wonder whether the loss is yours or hers.

The production on Echoes is superb. Kira sounds like the long lost Kirsty Thirsk of Rose Chronicles on Nettwork’s stable back in the early ‘90’s. Both vocalists are not afraid, or are smart enough, to realize that their main instrument can do more than just sing lyrics. This record is rife with more textural touches than most singers put into a career: sighs and gasps and bits of harmony that add dimensions of interest to music upon repeated playings. But to put it bluntly, Kira sings the fuck out of the third track, Echoes, with a repeating electronica rhythm and shimmering acoustic guitar for accompaniment. There is little need for studio trickery when you have someone with pipes.

"Blank," the fourth track, takes us back to the flight path from "Dead End," the band laying down a sound on the chorus that wouldn’t be amiss somewhere back in Alice in Chain’s catalog is anyone home/don’t leave me alone here/with your blank stare/ I feel a light on/where have you gone/with your blank stare. Layne Staley would nod in approval to the minor key on the acoustic guitar after the break.

Not to belabor the point, but not only do Shadows Lie know how to write a song, they know how to arrange it. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve listened to songwriter’s throw a great chorus away on a terrible song, or, Eddie Money-style, take the one catchy part of a song and run it into the ground like a mob victim behind a town car. With excellent production and interesting arrangement, Shadows Lie is one of those bands that make melding to electronic, the acoustic and the Zep seem seamless and obvious. Co-founder CT Temura, who also covers guitars, bass and writing gets props here.

"Overwhelmed" is maybe the most lightweight of the songs on the CD, and also the most radio ready, with a chorus that you’ll singing on the way out of the club, not realizing that you haven’t heard a hundred times already. While "Keep Falling Down" (track 5) by the band is a solid song, the acoustic version tucked back on track 15 is a winner, allowing us to hear Kira’s voice without that harmony and the production fairy dust. I’ll program that in place to simply enjoy beauty of the performance. There’s a sheer joy in hearing people who can really sing, sing.

"Invited," is the rarity, a truly guitar riff rocker that still can’t help but rock out and stop on a dime, inviting Kira to deliver a snotty breakdown with a sneer in her voice before kicking back into the chorus. Marco Britti delivering a tempo and timing performance that speaks of some serious skills. In sharp contrast is "Zoe’s Eyes," a haunting ballad that retains the shimmering Portishead style background, but with a blues delivery with more emotion that recalls Alison Moyet in places. This may be the song that I most want to hear live for all of my love of "Dead End" or "Blank."

The rapidfire delivery of the vocals on "Everything" give the song its breathless energy, even with the slow tempo of the drums, the keyboards giving a moving counterpoint melody under the chorus, everything in motion, swirling, a veritable army of Kiras in chorus around your headphones. 12 tracks into the CD and the band hasn’t run out of ideas. Remember, you entered their world by your choice, and you realize 12 songs in that you've pretty much been mesmerized by song after song. Its rare, it seems, to lose yourself in a singular vision. I recall listening to Little Earthquakes so many times that when it ends, you didn't realize that you'd been in Tori's world for the last 45 minutes without a break. With "Dead End," we walked into this world, and Leigh and Temura have yet to let up.

If there is any complaint that I have, its that I’d love to hear the guitars that much rawer, even though very little of the fury of performance on the rockers is lost in the production. And this is first class production. There is depth of sound and performance here that can’t be gotten in your bedroom or mom’s garage. This is a professional band showing up with a debut that sounds inevitable in its performance and sound. I don't recall hearing anything this accomplished or this interesting in all my drunken nights at the Continental or the Wetland back in the day. They’re number one on my list of bands that I’ve got to see when I’m back in NYC.

- the fearless rock iguana

Check them out of MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/wheretheshadowslie



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rumors Heard in MySpace, Vol. II, Episode 1

Has it been a month already? Holy crap . . . where does the time go? Well, no matter. I’ve been busy all the same. I’ve mapped out another fantastic voyage for y’all and I fully expect you to come back from this journey with a list of music to interest your rabid addiction to fine music. This month’s trek will lead us back to France for a spell, take us into Poland to hear about some vinyl, then across to England to watch a video, and then ultimately, back to the States for some home grown flavor and more jams than MC5 could ever kick out. You know the drill by now, Waveriders. Seats and trays, floatation devices and all that jargon. Racer . . . pull down on that lever over there. Slowly now. That’s it . . . good man! We’re off!


Our first stop, much like last month, is in the wonderfully vibrant land of France. Grab a shovel and start digging, folks. You see, in France, there’s this underground movement that’s just bursting with a fresh new way of looking at dark, dreary, and doomy metal. Will it be underground for long? I doubt it. As of a few weeks ago, digging themselves out of the muck and mire long enough to grab a pen with their gore encrusted fingers, End. signed a deal with Metal Blade. Oh yeah, baby! Anything that’s gonna’ get more ears tuned into what’s going on in France has got to be a good thing. Seriously, friends . . . the French metal scene is the most happening music scene since all that melodic death stuff started trickling out of Sweden. Keep it tuned here, folks, in the coming weeks I’ll be shedding a light in some of the darkest corners of this country and, provided that these bands don’t crush the hated light with their massive riffs, I’ll be showing you some fascinating stuff. But for the time being, check out the tune, “Enigma of the Unknown,” and feel the weight of a thousand tones slowly squeeze the air from your lungs. All right . . . pack ‘em up. Give your best wishes to End. and follow me as we head north a bit. www.myspace.com/end1freefr


Freaking their way out of Warsaw, Poland, we have the one and only progressive metal sounds of Riverside. If you haven’t heard them before, they have a bit of semblance to Porcupine Tree. Well, a little while back, they released a live album called Reality Dream. Check out the tune “Volte Face” on their page and you’ll hear a metalized, quasi-funk rocker that eventually melds into a tune with some serious ‘80’s edgey pop atmospheres. They fuse a bunch of influences into their music and always keep it interesting, and hearing this live material gives me the yearning to catch a live performance or two before I die. For the time being, I think I’ll just pick up the CD/DVD set. Also of note, the band is doing a vinyl release of “Out of Myself.” This album is a truly strong set of songs and there’s something endearing about it being on vinyl. Additional warmth, maybe? I don’t know, but we’ll see soon enough. www.myspace.com/riversidepl


Speaking of Porcupine Tree, the mastery of Steven Wilson is at it once again. This time, he’s going at it alone. Wilson has an album that’s inching it’s way to daylight and as a nifty little gift to all of us patient fans, he’s posted a video for the first single, “Harmony Korine.” Much like the work that he’s done with PT, this solo stuff is brimming with ambient textures and beautiful vocal melodies. Not as heavy as the Tree in a metallic sense, but it’s definitely got some weightiness to it that can’t be ignored. The album, Insurgents, will be released on March 9th, so head over to his page and do a pre-order thing. Do what you have to. The music sounds incredible, and as I’ve said in the past, anything that the good Mr. Wilson touches turns to gold. In a down global economy, isn’t that what we all really need? www.myspace.com/therealstevenwilson


Also on March 9th and coming out of England is the new album from progressive rocking, harmonic vocal, semi-electronic band, Pure Reason Revolution. These guys mix it up exceptionally well. I wouldn’t even think about putting them near my metal collection, but they have an edginess to them that makes me associate them with some of the darker arts. Other than that, PRR have a nice up tempo dance groove going on, and the once the vocals kick into the multi-layered thing that they do, well . . . it’s a good night to all. The sampler that they have posted on their page has some great excerpts from the upcoming album. And, for a tune from their past that will simply blow your mind, give “Victorious Cupid” a spin. Awesome stuff! www.myspace.com/purereasonrevolution


Back across the pond as we land on another planet. New York City and all areas beyond. Always fun, always an adventure, and always home to quality tunes. The first band that we’re checking out is called SOS. These guys have this interesting blend of sleazy barroom blues with more than a fair share of hardcore punk. One minute I think I hear the strains of AC/DC, and then I suddenly hear the tormented howl of Henry Rollins over an Excel grooved metal riff. These guys flat out rock it! Their album Adult Situations is well worth more than a casual listen. It’s a highly addictive all out rocker that shows some unique takes on an otherwise beaten down genre. Don’t make me tell you twice. Check ‘em out and show ‘em some love. www.myspace.com/sosnyc


Our chums in Sonic Bliss have just finished working on their first video for the song, “Babe, I’m Dying.” I don’t know much outside of that, but I look forward to one day sitting at my Ripple desk, sucking down a hot cup of joe, throwing unreviewable CD’s at the off time gyration of Racer’s hip as he tries to dance to tunes blaring over our sound system. Of course, through all of this, I’ll be trying to watch the new Sonic Bliss video. If you haven’t picked up Loved to Death yet, go back, read my review of the album, and then go out and get it. If you don’t want to spend the time reading my words, go by the bands page and hear the tunes. Yeah . . . that sensation you feel in your pants is actually your wallet being removed by the sheer force of the music. The wallets getting lighter, isn’t it? www.myspace.com/sonicblis


Now, for you Waveriders who like it a little harder and heavier, and let’s call it more experimental, here’s a fantastic sounding outfit called Seth.Ect. They have that heavy industrial thing going on similar in vein as Rammstein, but with less fire. Actually, I can’t claim that last statement as fact. I haven’t yet seen these guys in a live setting, so I have no idea what a live experience would be like. Who knows? Maybe they’d decide to go the opposite direction and shoot water in every direction. Of course, this could lead to electrical issues, which would ultimately lead to more fire. Anyway . . . I dig how these guys use a wider variety of instruments to meet their creative end. Much more musical and less imposing than I expected, but so damn welcome to these weary ears of mine. www.myspace.com/sethect


What’s say we head west a bit and keep our devil horns poised? Excellent! Camped out in Evansville, Indiana, we have the metallic soundings of Anthem For A Massacre. These guys have that brutally heavy, detuned sound going with some pretty interesting melodies mixed in for good measure. Tracks like “Pull the Trigger” and “I’m in Hell” are great examples of how the band meshes that immensely dense riffage with more melodic moments. They’re looking at recording a follow up to Pull the Trigger in the earlier portion of 2009 and then hammering the highways of these great States through the summer. You’ll want to keep an ear out for more from these guys. www.myspace.com/anthemforamassacre


This next band is for anyone who can’t seem to get enough of David Gilmour or Pink Floyd. Down in that massive state of Texas, we have Lynn Stokes & Sol Surfers playing that mellowed out, quasi-psychedelic and spacey rock that the aforementioned artists carved in stone. If you’re not careful, you may just think that you’re listening to Gilmour sing the lyrics to songs like “Let Go” or “Sacred Moon’s Light.” The tunes on their album, Terra Nocturne, are of the most mellow variety and nothing ever really starts kicking your ass in a true rock ‘n roll sense, but that’s not what this music is about. It’s so much more introspective and soulful. The guitar solos are rich with flavor and deep in tone. This is great music to chill out to. Highly recommended. www.myspace.com/solsurfers


As we make our way across the Deep South, I want to make a stop in Birmingham, Alabama, and introduce you to another wonderful new talent going by the name of Christopher Morrison. This dude is a singer/songwriter type, strumming away on an acoustic guitar and bearing his soul to the masses. On his page, you’ll find a number of demo tunes to soak in. Now, I know how all you Waveriders lover supporting artists by going and spending your hard earned money on their music, so what the good Mr. Morrison is doing is allowing us to download his music for free. Yes . . . free. All you have to do is go to his page and follow the link to a page that allows you to download something like 15 or 20 tunes! How awesome is that? Don’t forget to thank Christopher on the way out. www.myspace.com/christophermorrisonmusic


Now, I’m not sure that these guys are actually located in Georgia, but they always remind me of the Atlanta sweltering summer, so . . . we’re just gonna’ pay some homage to Gov’t Mule while we make our way to the Atlantic Ocean. The Mule, as I’m sure you remember from a few months ago, have a new bassist in tow, and are tucked away in a studio as they record a new album. I’m sure you all know my love for this band, so you can imagine my excitement for a new offering of southern fried jam rock. Hell, drop the southern fried jam part. The Mule are simply rock. Few do it as well as these cats, and I expect that the new album will be just as impressive as High & Mighty, which you all know was near perfect. Stay tuned. More Mule in 2009? www.myspace.com/govtmule


Our final stop on this little adventure is in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we will stop to visit the experimentally ambient tones of Mountains Among Us. These guys have this awesome ambient thing going on that’s filled with so much tension that you just expect it to explode. I’ve never heard music that held this much tension for this long, and constantly shifts to put pressure against some alternate surface. This is trippy stuff and their earlier releases can be found on Forbidden Empire Records. Mountains Among Us are preparing a new album for us in the near future, so be prepared to be overwhelmed the sounds coming from these guys. I’m tellin’ ya’, folks . . . MySpace is a treasure trove of great and unheralded music. See you next month! www.myspace.com/experimentalautumn

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ripple News - NWOBHM Band, Dark Heart Re-release Shadow of the Night CD






If you're like us here at the Ripple, you salivate at the thought of the NWOBHM. Yeah, the scene lived on a bit too long, but what a great bunch of bands that came out of that era. If you can relate to that, then here's a little treat for you.

Metal Mind Productions presents the first CD release of the debut album by Dark Heart“Shadow Of The Night." Dark Heart
were one of the many bands that sprung out during the golden years of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Movement. Formed from the ashes of Tokyo Rose in 1983, the band almost immediately got signed to Roadrunner Records and started working on their debut release. "Shadows of the Night," hit hte stores in September 1984, bringing a powerful dose of Diamond Head inspired heavy metal.

Like so many from the NWOBHM scene, Dark Heart turned out to be a 1-album band, but sometimes, it's those burst onto the scene, then leave it bands that turn out to be the most fun.

New digipak edition is limited to 1000 copies and digitally remastered ona golden disc. The album is released in the USA on March 10th.


Dark Heart
“Shadows Of The Night” (remastered)


Tracklist:
1. Shadows of the Night
2. Dangerous Games
3. No Time For Turning
4. Teaser
5. Don't Break The Circle
6. Shout It Out
7. Giving It All For Love
8. Coming Home
9. Turn of the Tide

Monday, February 23, 2009

Street Dogs - State of Grace


Man, this one caught me off guard.

I'd heard of Boston's Street Dogs before. Seen some discs lying around somewhere, but never had the chance to have my heart ignited by 2,400 lbs of Bostonian raving Irish dynamite before. With my chest wall exploding in 90 different directions, bursting from the Dog's brimming passion, vim and fire, I collapsed completely spent at my desk to write this review. Forgive me if my hands tremble while I type.

The Street Dogs were formed by gravel-throated shouter, Mike McColgan, former lead singer of the street tough, South Boston Irish punk rockers The Dropkick Murphys. After leaving the band following their first album, McColgan, a veteran of the first Gulf War, left music to join the Boston Fire Department, but after the trauma of 9/11, he came raving back, loaded with a belly full of venom and a heavy heart for the fire fighters lost in the tragedy. Adding former members of punkers, The Bruisers, and the former Dropkick drummer, the Street Dogs were born.

Now, seven years later, McColgan's spleen is still just as full of passion and bile. This is a brilliant, old school punk record, completely confident in itself and ready to stand on the pedestal next to old standards like The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers. McColgan carries more energy in his shout/singing than a thousand Green Day pretenders. This man feels his music, every note, every beat, every word. And with that, he only sings about what digs deep in his craw and buries itself six-feet down into his heart; freedom, unity, grace and the fading American dream. It's a fucking riotous, heart-sang-on-his-sleeve approach that is downright exhilarating.

"Mean Fist," starts this rollicking assault with all cylinders firing. Riding a walloping bass line, guitars cut in like machine gun fire, leading to the big Clash-esque chorus and shouted backing vocals. This is a huge, sloganeering, stand-on-a-soapbox-and-shout-it-to-the-world chorus, rousing and energizing. Big chugging guitars ride this baby like a race horse steaming down the tracks. This is a huge punk song, so fucking old school UK punk in it's approach I was floored when I first found out the boys were from Boston and not from across the pond. Think New Model Army, think the Clash. Think whatever you want to, but think that this is fuckin' brilliant.

"Kevin J. O'Toole," is a boys-gathered-at-the-bar, beers-in-fist tribute to fallen colleagues including McColgan's uncle, O'Toole, a former firefighter. This is South Boston in a song, this is the pride of the Irish, the pride of the community, the heart of the neighborhood, wrapped up in swarms of charging guitars and McColgan's most impassioned sing/shouting. "Tonight, tonight, tonight/we toast to you/To give respect to for all that you served through." Man, take a deep breath when this call for remembrance is playing, tell me if you can't see the beer mugs swinging in unison, grown men shedding tears over lost friends--soldiers, firemen, policemen. I bet that beer never tasted sweeter. All the way to the snare drum roll and bag pipe funeral goodbye at the ending, this is song's a real gut-check.

Old school influences are given respect with a massive reworking of the Skids "Into the Valley," pounding out like some lost Clash classic. Big shouting choruses, totally rousing in its approach. This is a closed-fist, punk blast of energy. Adhering to a strict non-violence ethos, "Rebel Song," comes across as more of a call for unity over barbarism than a revolution. But you'd never know if from the tearing guitar, stuttering verses and gangland sing-along chorus. This song is a terrorizing blitzkrieg of pure old school adrenaline, powerful and visceral, damn perfect in its execution. Guitars chiming, bass charging along like a madman escaped from prison and the drums being beaten harder than Mike Tyson's face in his last fight. There's understated eloquence in the lyrics, along with pure spleen-venting anger, strung together with enough melody to make the whole thing go down like a fine single-malt whiskey-smooth but with a nasty bite. Violence in performance not content. How fucking punk is that?

"The General's Boombox," the band's homage to Joe Strummer, rages next, Clash-like in attitude but also very reminiscent of early, early Alarm, back when they were a sloganeering punk band unleashing ravers like "The Stand." Stinging guitars, resounding group background vocals, and another can't-miss melody. McColgan's voice never sounds more Irish than it does here, blasting out like a nasty-spirited Billy Bragg after a gangfight. "Guns," is another standout, a fierce rocker with monstrous bass driving the message of anti-violence right into your pounding heart. Guitars slice through the mix like a lumberjacks chainsaw cutting through a forest. The title track "State of Grace," hammers in a distinct Irish flavor to this future punk masterpiece. "Free," even slows things down enough to bring in an acoustic guitar while McColgan impassions about his search for clarity and some grace in this confusing, muddled up, fucked up world. Another massive rousing song on an album chock full of rousers.

Running wild and tough from the mean streets of South Boston, The Street Dogs have eaten through their restraints and unleashed one snarling, spittle-faced, pitbull of a punk album. This album is so fucking south Boston, so brimming with Irish flavor and pride, you can almost taste the smoke in the South Boston air and see the litter on the streets. These are living, breathing rebel songs, from and for the working class.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best conceived and executed punk ravers to attack me in a long time, thrusting it's ugly, salivating maw around my gut, digging its canines through my thick hide until it struck something vital. Something that I care about.

Fuck the pound, if these dogs are loose, I'm joining the pack.

Buy here: State of Grace

www.myspace.com/streetdogs




Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Sunday Conversation With Omnium Gatherum

Guitarist Markus Vanhala from the Finnish death metal act, Omnium Gatherum, took a few minutes out of his Sunday morning to have a cup of coffee, answer a few questions about music making, and to abuse our couch. This is a Sunday Conversation with Omnium Gatherum!

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?


-Quality metal with sense of originality, aggression and melodicality!


Omnium Gatherum has that "Gothenburg" sound, but your sound is still distinct enough to seperate the band from bands such as In Flames or Dark Tranquility. How did you go about that? Was it a conscious effort to keep that sound yet create your own identity?

-Well, people always categorize us to this Swedish/Gothenburg –thing, and they’re a lil’ bit right on that one, as at the time when we were forming OG back in the mid 90’s we were extremely influenced about this new raising wave of Swedish metal, bands like Edge Of Sanity, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, At The Gates, Entombed. That’s from where this all started with this band and i guess that’s the legacy somewhere between the lines still. Finnish band trying to play Swedish kind of stuff, won’t happen so we’ve failed on this task and that’s why we sound original, haha. We have naturally escalated also over this category and have found that “own” thing somewhere.


Working with Dan Swano must have been a charge! What did you gain from his experiences as one of the death metal forefathers? How was he to work with in the studio? Was he hands on or did he let the band do their own thing for the most part?

-In fact i’m just listening “Unorthodox” by Edge Of Sanity (Swanö..s previous band) at the moment when i’m doing this interview! When i noticed that Swanö have re-opened his legendary Unisound Studio, i immediately emailed him and asked about his interest to mix and master our coming album, as i’ve been a big fan of his work since the day one. But he just mixed/mastered the stuff so he didn’t got his hands at all on producing and recording this stuff, that’s done by ourselves and our local friend engineer Teemu Aalto in Kotka, Finland. So this is our own thing going on. But Swanö did really great job on mixing the stuff and the album really sounds killer, really what we were after! Dan is a really easy going feet on the ground –style mastermind. We have already talked with him that we do also the next album with him quite surely.


Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

-Lots of sitting in the corner of the room with guitar and polishing ideas on and on. Sometimes all comes easily complete in 15 minutes and sometimes you have to play hours and hours or days to find just one riff or the composing attitude. Nowadays it’s lots easier to work as i have my decent homestudio where to record and produce material, that’s the nasty rock’n’roll life of today! No more sleeping, all nights recording stuff at the front of computer....


In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

-When the song sounds good for my ear, it’s ready. Naturally. You just know when it’s ready and you have some inner sense about what is coming. I don’t plan much, that now i had to do this kind of song etc... But nowadays it’s like doing song really ready at home with drum machines / keys etc. before playin’ the demoversion to others. And when boys hear the stuff and start to play, then it immediately changes and i got to use to the “new version”.



Very little is heard in the U.S. in regards to the music of the Finnish scene. Most of us have heard of Nightwish, Sentenced (R.I.P.), and now Omnium Gatherum. Who else is out there that the world needs to know about and has grabbed your attention?

-The other projects of OG dudes of course - like Malpractice, Manitou, Kaihoro, Elenium and Total Devastation. Check ‘ em out and become happy!


The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

-We’ll do good honest music that we wanna play, and we have a nice boys in the band. That’s the recipe for goodness! Fuck the business side of music, that just ruins the spirit if we think too much about that shit.


Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

-CD and when the artwork is really really nice an’ cool, or the case is 70’s music, then vinyl! Mp3 is lame from quality and really boring format, as the printed artwork is really important for me in the albums! That gives the flesh an’spirit around the bones in the packet.


We, at The Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to visit?

-Here in Kotka is quite shitty record stores, maybe second hand shop Levydivari Hämäläinen, because Juha the owner is always conquering the world in his computer there among the business!

Are there any parting words that you'd like to pass on to the Waveriders (Ripple readers) out here?

-Buy OG’s “The Redshift” album and mosh, or be a boring useless person...


Once again, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and for giving my ears something incredible to enjoy in The Red Shift!

-Thanx and cheers, hope to see ya soon and rock the US of A!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ripple News - LA Murderfest 5.0 Taking Shape

EYEHATEGOD confirm headlining appearance at LA MURDERFEST 5.0!


You like it hard? You like it heavy? Check this out!


EYEHATEGOD, ROTTEN SOUND, CRIPPLE BASTARDS, OUTLAW ORDER are the latest bands confirmed for the 5th annual LOS ANGELES MURDERFEST, taking place May 9th and 10th, at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, CA.


Confirmed bands so far:

EYEHATEGOD
GENERAL SURGERY
ROTTEN SOUND
CRIPPLE BASTARDS
COFFINS
MALIGNANCY
STORMCROW
GHOUL
- 16 -

LACK OF INTEREST
PHOBIA
OUTLAW ORDER
AGENDA OF SWINE
CREMATORIUM
ABYSMAL DAWN
INSANITY
BEOWULF
RESISTANT CULTURE
BRAINDRILL
VOETSEK
LANDMINE MARATHON

For more information, visit www.losangelesmurderfest.com

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hypno5e - Des Deux L'une Est L'autre

Dark. Dense. Imposing. Elegant. Brutal. Elaborate. Masterful. Brilliant. I could go on and on and on, utilizing one adjective after another to describe the wondrous sounds that emanate from Hypno5e’s album, Des Deux L’une Est L’aurte. This is the type of album that you’ll listen to for the first time and find yourself being bombarded with countless time changes, textural and mood swings, vocals morphing from somber and haunting to tortured and blistered. This is the type of album that will have you so captivated by the tornado of sounds that you can’t help but hit the play button on the CD player one more time. And then again. And then again. This is the type of album that will make you question all that you know, or think that you know, about music.


Hypno5e take the deepest grinding tones of extreme metal and make it, if even possible, denser and more evil sounding. But to label these cats as merely another extreme metal band would be a terrible disservice. They take the whole doomy, death movement and inject a hearty dose of experimentation that reminds me of when Tool first burst on the music scene and turned alternative rock, grunge, and metal on its ear. Hypno5e have that same thing going here. Experimentally proggy, technically over the head, and brutal all at the same time, these guys hear music in their own unique way and aren’t afraid to stretch their sound to distant and, as of yet, unimaginable dimensions.

To really grasp a deeper understanding of this album and how the band thinks, you’ll have to listen to it with open ears and simply accept that your reality is being challenged. But, if you can’t spare an hour plus to initially get to know these guys, then I suggest that you start with the epic masterpiece, “Daybreak at Slaughter-House.” The title sounds like a French painting depicting social atrocities and comparing them to life in a slaughterhouse, and in a lot of ways, that’s what this song is. A painting. A sonic painting of vividly colorful expressions that layer upon itself from brutal and unrelenting, to soulfully tormented and passive, to hopeful and inspiring. Opening with a charge of technical distorted fury, the song suddenly dips into this beautifully executed clean passage filled with melodies that both lift the soul with hope and weigh the psyche down with an imposing dread of the future. The addition of acoustic guitars and female backing vocals in the middle of the chaotic off time rhythms gives this tune extra depth, and help give the song that “Stairway to Heaven” type of grandness. The song dips and weaves for almost ten minutes, but if you were to ask me, I’d tell you it only feels like five minutes at most. Complex is an understatement of what this song brings. It’s beyond complex. I have to question how these guys remember the timing on all of the various parts to this song. Man, what a tribute to music!


“The Hole” starts off with a creepy delay laden clean toned guitar that slowly morphs into a simple crisp arpeggio that’s accompanied by some windswept ambient sounds. The vocals over the guitars are also clean and melodic, again, helping to create this vivid image of doom and dread. The female vocals that harmonize softly in the background give the song a bit of a Goth feel that is immediately lost when the swirls of chaos return. Huge waves of distorted guitar and bellowed vocals crash against the senses like an angry sea hell bent on destroying a rocky seashore. The sampled lines of “I want to live because I miss breathing,” cast a sepia tone over the tune, giving it the gothic feel one more time. And once the band comes back in with the aggressive and technically proficient riffs, the body starts moving to the rhythm, a groove of sorts. Heavy, perfectly distorted, well produced, and so in your face. Brilliant! Bloody fuckin’ brilliant!



“Scarlet Fever” builds note by note to create this incredible wall of tension before exploding into a frenzied and hectic blast of riffage. As all of the songs on Des Deux L’une Est L’autre do, this tune propels itself in every direction. Mellow and chill for a minute here, destructive and angst ridden for a couple minutes over here, introspective and moody for another minute just over the next riff . . . this is the kind of dynamic stuff that keeps me coming back for more. Always interesting and different with every listen. Case in point, I don’t remember this piano part midway through the song. I doesn’t mean that it wasn’t there before (coz’ that would be impossible, even for these guys,) it just means that there is so much going on that unless you live this music, you’re not going to remember every little facet of it.


There’s something going on in France that’s going to change the face of the music world. It has to. The movement is too strong and fascinating to go by without any recognition . . . but, I’ll get to more of that later. Hypno5e are an incredibly talented group of guys with an unorthodox view of musical expression. Much like the great innovators of music, this band is making music their way. The way they want it to sound. The way that they feel. And that’s going to translate to an audience that either doesn’t get them and shrugs their shoulder in apathy, or it’s going to strike such a powerful chord with them that this type of music will become more common place and more widely accepted. God! How great would that be! To tune into a radio station and hear select tracks from Hypno5e! I live for the day when I hear a track like “Tutuguri” being aired instead of whatever is being aired these days. The future is getting brighter, my friends. Stay tuned . . . I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from this French legion of doom in one way or another. - Pope JTE










Thursday, February 19, 2009

Proto-metal Report - Grand Funk Live


“Here’s the group you’ve been waiting to see, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD!” And with those words my life was never the same. It wasn’t until about 10 or 12 years ago that someone hipped me to the fact that there was a lot more to Grand Funk than “We’re An American Band,” “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home” and “Rock N Roll Soul” – all songs I still love to this day – but nothing prepared me for the onslaught of fuzz that is Grand Funk’s incredible LIVE ALBUM (1970).

As a 41 year old high energy rock and roll maniac, live albums are some of my favorite records of all time. I don’t drink coffee so when I’m tired and/or hungover in the morning I reach for Kick Out the Jams, No Sleep Til Hammersmith, Live & Dangerous, Tokyo Tapes, Strangers In the Night, Made In Japan, Live At the Regal, Live At the Apollo Volume 2, Double Live Gonzo, etc to get me moving. If I’m really dragging my ass, this is the album that puts me back on track.


I stumbled across this record completely by accident. I was on vacation in Austin, TX browsing the racks at the awesome Waterloo Records back in November, 2000. By complete co-incidence I was in Austin during the presidential election debacle. While that bullshit unfolded around me, I went looking for some Grant Green CD’s when I noticed LIVE ALBUM peaking out of the racks and decided to give it a try. In general I like to check out older rock bands through a live album rather than a greatest hits compilation. When I put the disc in the rental car’s player and started the engine the sounds of “Are You Ready” came blasting out at me. Within about 30 seconds I knew I had found a new favorite album. Hearing this thing for the first time while cruising around Austin is an experience I’ll never forget.


If you don’t know this record (or early Grand Funk) try to imagine Black Sabbath’s first album combined with The Sonics. Or imagine a less radical MC5 or a more soulful Ted Nugent. Grand Funk’s jams are extremely American. There’s no way a British rhythm section in 1970 could rock this hard. It’s obvious these guys spent many years playing “High Heeled Sneakers,” “Midnight Hour,” and “Uptight” at places where if the people don’t dance you don’t get paid. In the words of Homer Simpson, Mel Schaecher’s bass is indeed “bong rattling.” It’s so loud and distorted but his playing has a solid R&B groove. Playing with “96 Tears” over and over in ? & the Mysterians’ band probably had something to do with it. Don Brewer’s drumming is so tight and in the pocket and he has a great singing voice. Plus, his white man’s fro is 2nd only to Rob Tyner’s. Yes, even better than Handsome Dick Manitoba’s and years before Boston’s Sib Hashian.


And then there’s Mark Farner. He’s not a great guitarist but he plays with so much exuberance it’s inspiring. His tone is also completely unique. Back then he used a Messenger guitar that was made out of aluminum with a built in fuzztone. When he plugs that thing into those huge West Amplifiers they were using back then – look out! His use of fuzz with a wah wah pedal at the start of “Paranoid” is one of the most obnoxious sounds you’ll ever hear. (Incidentally, GFR’s “Paranoid” from their Red Album came out earlier in 1970 than Black Sabbath’s song of the same name). Mark’s got one of the best voices in rock. He’s mentioned many times that his favorite vocalist is the soul singer Howard Tate and you can really hear the influence. Mark’s one of the few white dudes who can really belt it out without sounding like he’s trying to be black.


After playing this thing to death I was able to track down a bootleg VHS copy of “Midsummer Night’s Rock” that was broadcast on TV back in the summer of 1970. Grand Funk opened a festival that also included Traffic, Mountain, The Stooges (the famous peanut butter show) and Alice Cooper. All this footage is easy to find on youtube now, but being able to see GFR in full flight is a revelation. During “Inside Looking Out” the shirtless crowd bust out of the stands and storm the baseball field to boogie. Mark’s busy sliding across the stage on his knees, blowing harmonica, playing guitar, screaming his ass off and GETTING DOWN! If it doesn’t move you, you must be dead.


The original LP and CD had the track listing in a slightly different order than the 2002 CD remaster. The latest version of the CD puts the songs back in the original order that they played them in concert. The album kicks off with lots of crowd noises and in the background you can hear Mark say “I’m getting shocks off this mic. It’s a hell of a rush but I don’t know how many more I can take.” You can tell the crowd is agitated and they want the Funk. After some square introduces the band, they kick into high gear with “Are You Ready” and the crowd goes nuts! I’m sure band manager/producer Terry Knight overdubbed some extra crowd noise at the start of the song but the band is as live as it gets. Grand Funk were playing about 250 shows a year back then so they didn’t need to overdub any of their parts.


After that comes the aforementioned “Paranoid.” This song is HEAVY acid rock that sounds like Mountain playing “1969” by the Stooges. Actually, this song sounds like the Butthole Surfers around “Locust Abortion Technician” era, too. Don’t believe me? Track down the Buttholes official Double Live album from 1989 where they do a cover of it. When the Butthole Surfers signed to Capitol Records Paul Leary said he was thrilled to be on the same label as his favorite band Grand Funk Railroad!


“In Need” is probably my favorite on the entire record. It starts off as a 2 minute pop song boogie before turning into a humping, bass driven rock feast. Mark and Don trade some vocals before Mark goes nuts on the guitar. His extended solo is great for pissing off the neighbors. I can only imagine how many joints were lost because of someone’s mom pounding on the door screaming to turn it down. “Heartbreaker” is a ballad for the ladies where Mark gets introspective. It’s a good song but I usually skip it because I want to get back to the heavy jams. But before we can all boogie there’s “Words of Wisdom” – a spoken word piece from Mark telling the brothers and sisters in the crowd to be careful of bad dope getting passed around. Grand Funk always said they against “hard drugs.” With that out of the way we can all get down with “Mark Says Alright” – an instrumental stone-gett off that makes girls want to pull off their halter top and groove on their boyfriend’s shoulders. Oh yeah, the Butthole Surfers also had a song called “Mark Says Alright” with sampled vocals from their dog named “Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad” (his full, legal name). After Mark literally says “alright!” the band crashes into “T.N.U.C” (read it backwords), a killer rocker with Don’s long ass drum solo in the middle where he shows off his awesome rolls, flams and paradiddles.


We’re in the home stretch of the LIVE ALBUM experience and GFR really puts the people into a frenzy with “Inside Looking Out” – a twelve & a half rendition of an old song by the Animals. Mark changes some of the words and the crowd goes berserk when he mentions nickel bags. Who doesn’t like nickel bags? Get high or go home! The rhythm section plods along at a snails pace while Mark teases the crowd with guitar noise and insanity before it finally explodes into a heavy rhythmic groove. Mark asks the crowd to “get down with me” and then turns Mel loose on them. Rather than kill them with more guitar solos, Mark busts out a harmonica and preaches the blues on it. When this thing finally ends the band and the crowd sound exhausted.


But they’re not done yet! It’s time to get “Into the Sun.” It starts off innocent enough before they rock us back into bad trip territory. Mark basically plays 1 chord for most of this one with tons of fuzz, wah and filth. The huge speed boogie jam at the end can kill a narc at 50 paces.

Bands just don’t play like this anymore. They don’t have to. An audience today wouldn’t know how to react to this much intensity. In Jauary 2001 a friend of mine dragged me to see a new band he was really excited about – The White Stripes. I left after about 20 minutes of their lame show and went home and cranked this muther.


--Woody


Buy here:Live Album




Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Soul of John Black - Black John

Contrary to popular belief, we at the Ripple love a good soul album. Just dig through my and Pope's CD and vinyl collections and you'll find your share of Issac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, The Family Stand, Parliament, Bill Withers and Prince. Marvin, Sly and Stevie, it's all good.

So why then, you might ask, haven't we been reviewing much soul on the Ripple? Well, that answer is simple. Regrettably, it seems that no other genre (with the exception of hip hop) has bowed down more to the corporate manifesto of watering down music for radio and video play than soul has. Forget musicians, a typical soul record has devolved to being a sterile, producer driven affair, nearly devoid of any real instrumentation, true sounds brushed aside in favor of a few slickly repeated synthesized beats and samples. Soul music had lost all the vitality and life that once made it so engaging. Soul, it seems, had lost it's . . . soul.

But don't worry, oh waveriders. A soul savior has been found and he's just released the soul album of the year. So sit on down, and pull up a seat at the table, cause we got one heapin' helping of down-home soul, loaded with spoonfuls of country funk, nibblets of acoustic rock and garnished with a big dollop of the blues. This is one walloping feast of old school sounds that transcends it's influences, in the end leaving your belly full and your soul satisfied.

The Soul of Black John is the work of one immensely talented John Bingham (JB), a long time veteran of the music scene. This guy's resume is his calling card in soul credibility, having worked with and written songs for Miles Davis, played guitar and keyboards with Fishbone for eight years, and toured and recorded with the likes of Eminem, Joi, Bruce Hornsby and Ripple favorite, Everlast. And let me tell you that experience shows on this magnificent outing.

"Black John," starts us on a sparse and nefarious note as a loose acoustic guitar and handclaps lay down the beginning tones. Then, when the bass rolls in, it rumbles like a thunderclap drifting in off the Delta. This is serious down-home soul, the kind of storytelling that used to take place on a Mississippi back porch, the kids all huddled around grandpa and his acoustic. John Bingham's voice is as smooth as honey poured over a country biscuit. And let me tell you, the tale he tells is no pop tart, drama queen "I-want-your-body," type of drivel. This is a a fierce tall-tale, in the spirit of old campfire songs like "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," about a mean-as-could-be mofo and the trouble that follows him around. "Black John was a fighting man," JB sings over that loose acoustic with female backing vocals belting it out as if it were gospel. Guitar scatting and scratching as the song picks up momentum, serious blues licks searing through the background, those heavenly female vocals building to a crescendo. . . Damn, this is the stuff legends are made of.

"Betty Jean," trumps out next, loose and slick, JB's voice taking over here, pouring out with the texture of smoked molasses, smooth and syrupy. Singing over an old school soul beat, joined by those women from the celestial clouds, "Betty Jean," percolates out, strutting it's stuff, proud and confident, staunchly taking it's place along side the love songs of the past by Curtis and Issac.

Then, when JB finally unleashes his guitar prowess, he pours out a bluesy intro worthy of Robert Cray himself. "Ever Changing Emotions," follows this intro into a gospel vibe. JB's voice raining down like manna from above. Grooving into a beautiful Bill Withers's vibe, JB digs deeper into his vocal range. This is an old school party song, sexy and sultry, dancing across the blues flavors at their most erotic, JB's guitar comes in like foreplay. Bodies sway on the dancefloor, sweat mingling, lips being moistened by eager tongues, building in anticipation while that guitar keeps playing on. Simply beautiful stuff. If this is the sound of new soul, count me in. But I gotta go change my shorts first.

"Last Forever," eases out on the back of a loose-strung acoustic, dropping in a back-porch version of country funk. Again Bill Withers comes to mind in it's loose funk, but not in a derivative way, just in a, "holy crap, what a great song," kinda way. Another loose burner, the song is full of texture and space. Silence filling the voids, the spaces where a lesser producer or less confident artist would cram in any number of scratches, synthesized beats or other unnecessary crap. It takes a real artist to know the power of letting a song breathe for itself, let the momentum develop naturally, a balance of songwriting craft, tension, and talent. All of that is here, and more. I expect that any lover of old school country soul will love this tune.

I could go about every track here, all the way to the lovely acoustic love song "Thinking About You," that ends the disc, but time prohibits. But before I go I gotta give a shout to "Bottom Chick," a downright dirty and nasty, scratch guitar piece of roadside bar, country funk that just has to be heard. A downright infectious chorus with a big ragtime hook, all played over a Caribbean syncopation. God damn, if I could write soul, I'd wish I could write a song like that. Down right dirty!

With this, his 3rd release, The Soul of John Black, has simply set the bar for future soul acts to try and surpass. Mean and lean, down and dirty, bluesy and gritty, this disc has it all. Gospel-tinged or blues-drenched, this is the kick in the ass that soul music has needed for some time. Expertly played, filled with nuance and texture, guided by the most soulful voice to grace my ears in eons. God bless, ya JB, my soul music has finally found its savior.

--Racer

Check out Betty Jean free download:

http://www.deltagrooveproductions.com/music/releases/blackjohn/bettyjean/

http://www.deltagrooveproductions.com/music/releases/blackjohn/bettyjean/mp3player/02BettyJean.mp3

www.myspace.com/thesoulofjohnblack



I Got Work (not on this album)

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