Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Strawberry Fields - Rivers Gone Dry

Somewhere, from the depths of Wojteck Szadowski's mind came the fascinating hybrid mix of sounds and styles that is Strawberry Fields. Their debut album, Rivers Gone Dry, challenges and delights all along, proving the that there is little that cannot be combined and twisted and mixed together in today’s musical world.

It is the echoing opening notes of “Your Story”, Robin’s voice comes in, deep from the valley of Enya (edited out of the final cut of Lord of the Rings), but then Sarhan starts to layer the sounds: the light twang of the harp is joined by the rhythmic loops and samples, even the thin measured sounds of the electric guitar and the clipped high hat, until the guitar squeals impatiently before the whole band comes on for the chorus. “Fool” follows the same pattern, with Robin’s quiet vocals before the band drops the hammer, and, sadly, the only clunker of a track on the album. But for a guitar overlay that whines along with the chorus, the rest of the track is a gem: some creative mixing and a great solo reside here.

The title track builds us in with a drum pattern that reminds me of “When the Levee Breaks” ala Led Zeppelin, once we’re in the song, we’ve entered the territory long since ceded by the Eurythmics, when Annie Lennox stared us down from "Sweet Dreams" in that suit and the entire world was intimated by her. Frail, all but sane/going deep within/you’re standing here beside/yet still to far to see The chorus has a haunting refrain of Rivers gone dry, the layers of keyboards reiterating the main theme, softening the menace of the Bonham drums. “Open Your Eyes” comes from the same territory, mixing Eurythmics and Enya with an unusual melody that veers from the rock and roll chorus, back to the echoing textural Hendrix style guitar in the distance, and into an Ace Frehley solo. It shouldn’t work at all, honestly, but it does, and its one of the best tracks on the album. High marks also the solo on “Maybe” as well. Excellent technical work, and well produced.

“Close” and “Beautiful” both start in menacing Massive Attack territory, the electronic percussive back rhythm, the keyboard swell, yet Robin’s vocal melody is light and reassuring, and when the Naked Eyes keyboards join in, we’re lifted out of the dark until the chorus sends us home: an army of Robins singing (on “Close”) If I had a minute of my life to go/I would hold you close/If I had a moment of my life to go/i’d rely on the minute and I’m ready for fall. Similarly, “Beautiful” can’t bear not the reassure us on the melody, even when the lyrics tell a different story: one move you make/may turn down your life/in the way you did not expect.

“Moon” takes us way out to a jazzy Portishead break by way of the semi-legendary Austin TX band 9 1/2 Souvenirs. The drummer skittles his way through the light little tune while Sarhan shows us his best semi-hollowbody guitar chops on the solo.

The quiet, sentimental album closer, “Flow”, is a classic side two closer from those of us from the vinyl age, where are we going/who do we follow/ I hope we’ll find out better tomorrow sings Robin, and while the song builds to one final crescendo, what it wants to do is send us out of the concert hall with our lighters in hand, both entertained and uplifted at the same time. The guitar break is almost, given the jazzy influence on “Moon”, slightly Jeff Beck a la Blow by Blow. Again, it may sound like an oddity, but it all works when you simply listen to the music.

You finish up here, I’m working on seeing if there are any cheap flights to Warsaw.

- the fearless international rock iguana

buy here: RIVERS GONE DRY


Monday, March 30, 2009

Rumors Heard in MySpace, Vol. II, Episode 2

Yeah! What a month we had last month! Traveling to and fro, stumbling on some of the most unique musical creatures that could pull themselves from the primordial sludge of cyberspace . . . damn! I love the internet! Get yourselves seated, Waveriders . . . we’re about to do it all over again. The flight plan looks to have us cruising through France (what a surprise), Austria, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and then back to the friendly, or menacing (depends how hard you squint) faces of the folks in the good ole U.S. of A. So, we hope you have the photos in your passports updated coz’ we’re not beyond leaving you at customs.

Racer! Get this sucker in the air!


You may be pretty sick and tired of hearing me go on and on about the brilliance of the music coming out of France these days, but so be it. I’m only reporting on what I think is cool! So, with that being said, experimental metalists, Hacride, have put the final touches on their new album entitled Lazarus. I’ve mentioned in the past that the tunes posted on their MySpace page are shimmering with eclectic brilliance, but going back and listening to them right now simply solidifies my feelings on that earlier sentiment. Check out the metallic Middle Eastern vibe of “Zambra” with its acoustic guitars, female vocals, and mind boggling polyrhythms. This album tops my most anticipated list and every time I hear even a mere whisper about these guys, my heart rate increases exponentially. See Racer? I can use big words, too! The track list and album art is all prepared and ready to go, and it looks like Lazarus will reach the masses on April 20th. www.myspace.com/hacride

From Poitiers to Toulouse, we’re revisiting the lads of END. a few weeks back, they signed a deal with Metal Blade, which should do nothing but make them a household name within a few years. In striking this deal, clear minds prevailed and the band changed their name to Eryn Non Dae. Sure, it’s a little more of a mouthful, but if you look at the name, it still incorporates the original name of END. Check the first letter of each word . . . sound it out, Waveriders . . . there you go. We’re still not certain on a release date for the follow up to The Never Ending Whirl of Confusion EP, but I’m sure as soon as Alex with All About the Music finds out he’ll pass the word to us. He’s on top of his shit that way. If you haven’t heard the EP, swing by their page because the whole thing is posted there for your listening pleasure. It’s good. It’s brutally dense and immaculately heavy. With the new album, does that mean there will be a world tour? How about a tour of the States? I know . . . burning questions, and questions that we’ll get answered for you as soon as we can. www.myspace.com/end1freefr


We’re going to stay in France for a little bit longer, but we’re going to take trip to a darker place. Out of Limoges or Limousin (can’t really make out if it’s one town or two . . . Racer? Can you be a dear and play cartographer for me? Thanks,) we have a band called Execution who play this rumbling brand of death metal that should strip a few layers of flesh from the body. As seems to be the theme of the French metallers these days, the guys in Execution are taking the standard form of the music and adding their own unique spin on things. At times, the music has a great melody to it. Other times, they throw in synths and female vocals to create a wash of atmospheric energy through the music. All of this provided over the tried and true template of distorted guitars and belching vocals that blast the listener to oblivion. I hope to hear more from these guys! www.myspace.com/executionfr


Let’s stop in The City of Lights for a few minutes and visit a band that is quickly becoming a Ripple favorite. The band is called We Insist! and play music unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Their last album Oh! Things Are So Corruptible shocked our office like none other and made us sit up and take notice. Well, check this out! The lads have a new album getting ready to come out called The Babel Inside Was Terrible and is being released by Exile on Mainstream. You guys realize that the last album came out in 2004? It’s a travesty that such brilliant, unnerving, unorthodox, uncompromising, and exquisite music isn’t coming out more frequently! Somebody needs to make it so these wonderfully creative minds can do nothing but expand on their art as a full time, all expense paying enterprise. Okay . . . which of you Waveriders is willing to step up with an open check book? www.myspace.com/weinsistband


We’re going to make a quick hop over the Alps and drop in on the little country of Austria. In fact, we’re going to the capital of Vienna to see a band that struck me as kinda’ fun when I was introduced to them. The band is called Rocquette and they combine the sleazy guitar tones of ‘80’s hard rock with the pseudo-punk female vocals of Blondie. I’m actually going against the title of this piece by telling you about another site filled with tons of unknown musicians. That site is called Musician Match and they do a marvelous job of pairing up musicians with other musicians in an effort to help these guys create their art. Check out Rocquette on www.MusicianMatch.com


I advise that y’all put on your parkas and beanie caps coz we’re headed off to the lands of frost and fire. By now, you all should know about my affinity for just about any of the music coming out of the Scandinavian states, so it should come to you as no surprise that once again I’m talking a mile a minute about Trettioariga Kriget. Word came down this morning to me that my favorite Swedish prog outfit are making their way to American shores for only the second time in their illustrious career. They’ll be performing at Nearfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Sunday, June 21st. Now, if only I can find a way to get to Pennsylvania from California . . . Racer? How’s our petty cash looking right about now? www.myspace.com/trettioarigakriget www.myspace.com/nearfest


A few weeks back, we received some disturbing news that the lead vocalist for Norwegian metallers, Susperia, suffered from a heart attack on March 9th. I immediately returned the double bacon cheeseburger I had ordered for the more health conscious chicken salad and dropped a line of support for the lads. From what we’ve heard from the Susperia camp is that Athera is having surgery on his heart to repair some valve damage, but he should be able to make a full recovery and be back on the road in no time. Ya’ gotta’ love modern medicine! Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the band. Get better, Athera! www.myspace.com/susperiafans


Touching down in Montreal, Canada, for a short layover, we decided that this would be a good time to stop by and see an old friend. This old friend goes by the name of Jade Leary and I’d have to say that his musical styling’s are a stone’s throw from genius. He creates a song by building these incredible tones on top of each other, adding bits and pieces to build a massive wall of tension, and rather than exploding into a flurry of dissonance, drops the bottom from the whole thing so it feels like you’ve been left weightless. He went on a bit of a hiatus after his epic Black Glitter Diaries album, but he’s back friends! He recently posted some new songs, some complete, some in draft form, but all of them leave you with the sense that he’s tearing down some invisible walls that have kept him trapped in himself. This stuff is absolutely amazing! www.myspace.com/jadeleary


Creeping back into the U.S., we need to stop in the Beantown area and have a cup of tea with the dude who actually introduced us to Jade Leary. Yes, you know him, you love him . . . Jeff Sanders has been hard at work on the follow up to last year’s Dreadnaught album and he’s started a mini-diary of sorts to keep us all updated on the latest going’s on with Mountain Mirrors. Suffice it to say, this year is going to kill with all of the new music coming out and MM are one of the bands leading the pack. Each album has shown a different aspect of the man behind the music, letting us see the depth of his being, and this new EP should carry the story along just fine. www.myspace.com/mountainmirrors


After Racer’s Red Eye journey through the cosmos, we’ve landed in Seattle to witness the birth of a new music festival. This one is called United States of Metal Festival and is kicking off its inaugural run this June. Figures . . . I’ll be in New York and Pennsylvania for this event, but I’m sure I can send a few of you Waveriders as proxy rockers. These guys have some lofty goals, and they’ll need the help of anyone and everyone strong enough to wave the banner of metal. They’re looking to have 75 unsigned bands and 25 signed bands over the course of three days. They’re seeking sponsors, they’re seeking bands, they’re seeking the best of the best. Check ‘em out and give them some support! www.myspace.com/unitedstatesofmetal


Finally, out of the City of Angels (Los Angeles for those who don’t know,) there’s a band running around called Ellsbeth who have a pretty cool sound. A little gothy, a little metal, and very rockin’! They have a new album called Well Dressed Killing Machine and is planned for release on April 1st. “Eden” and “Say Goodbye” have a great metallic groove mixed with a striking melody . . . a little haunting. Imagine Avenged Sevenfold without all the screaming and female vocals. This is strong . . . I’m now looking forward to April 1st for something more than practical jokes to play on Racer. www.myspace.com/ellsbethmusic


Until next month, Waveriders . . . er, fill in your own witting remark. - Pope JTE

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with John Wilkes Booth

Pure fuzzed out, punked up, adrenaline fueled, high octane rock and roll. That's what John Wilkes Booth pumps out with as much ease as Old Faithful pumping out the steam. The boys are fond of calling their particular brand of scuz sweltering rock, "dirt rock," but we just call it fucking great, balls-out rock and roll. Naturally, when we heard that Kerry, the main madman behind the dirt rockers was going to be in town, we immediately cleared off the piles of CD's covering our red leather couch and asked the dirtman to have a seat, pop open a cold one and tell us what makes JWB tick.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house wit
h Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears. What have been your musical epiphany moments?

I have had a few of those. My first would probably be when I found my dad's Beatles records. I remember hearing Sgt. Peppers and being taken away with the music. I was about 5 or 6. I still have that copy its all beat up. When I got older and was in high school I was all into the San Francisco thrash scene & a lot of NY hardcore because that's what all my buddies were into. Then I met this kid who turned me on to Sonic Youth, The Minutemen, an all that 80's SST, Touch & Go, Sub Pop stuff. That was an incredible musical epiphany for me because all these bands like The Minutemen, Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers all played completely different kinds of music but somehow all fit together. That was a great time for music in my mind. They paved the way for Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and all the bands that broke in the 90's


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?


We usually jam on a riff and build a song off of that. The lyrics come last most of the time. I sing nonsense until the inspiration hits me to fill in the blanks.



Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

I can't speak for the whole band but inspiration comes from everything for me. A movie can move me or a piece of art. I might see something that pisses me off on the news or I might read a great book or here a song on the radio. Sometimes just shopping in the mall and people watching will inspire a lyric. I'm always open, inspiration hits at some strange times.


Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Witho
ut resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?
I think we're pretty straightforward gritty in your face music. We just write what comes to us and let the music take us where it wants to go. We call it Dirt Rock, but I guess that's a label of some sort.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I honestly don't think we have any intentions. I would like to say I want our music to make people think, but when we are writing there are no intentions. It's just the action of making the music



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

I think I may have answered that with the last question. We really kind of let the song write itself. We fine tune songs sometimes for months but we never put tremendous thought into the process. Lyrically I try to make statements without being too straightforward or overly pretentious. That sometimes is a challenge.


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?

To be honest we don't really have rock star delusions. We just hope more & more people dig our tunes. It's just not in our cards to be full time musicians. It's a damn shame too, because it's the one thing I know I don't suck at in life and I can't make a dime doing it. But hopefully our tunes will strike a chord in a person or two.


Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

That would have to be our West Vir
ginia gig. We were told it was a music festival with bands from all over and we woould play to hundreds of people. We get to this place in the middle of the woods after driving for 8 hours. It's a stage in someone's front yard way in the backwoods of West Virginia. Long story short we played with a bunch of death metal bands the sound guy passed out, we hit the stage at 1 A.M. to about 20 drunk rednecks.


Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

I'm not really sure maybe a adult contemporary album is in my future.


What makes a great song?
I believe that is up to the listener. For me it's all about the lyrics.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I do, it sucked


What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

For some reason my favorite is Albino Mechanic. I 'm pretty proud of that tune


Who today, writes great songs? Why?

I think David Bazan of Pedro The Lion is one of the greatest living songwriters. He paints pictures and writes stories that can't help but make you think. He is not only a songwriter but a social commentator.


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

I am a vinyl man, but I'm guilty of listening to all my music on my computer. Everything is on an external hard drive and on random all the time. I hardly ever listen to albums anymore. It's sad because certain albums are meant to be listened to from beginning to end. Not many people make records like that anymore.

What's the best record store in your town
?

There aren't many left, but Looney Tunes by me is pretty damn good for an indie record shop. They even have bands in the store.


Great having you Kerry. Can't wait to hear more from JWB in the future. With all this talk of dirt rock, I think I better wash the couch now.

No, problem. Thanks for the questions.



http://www.myspace.com/jwilkesbooth

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ripple News - News About the Ripple

We don't usually use this space to talk about the activities going on here at the Ripple, but things have been moving so quickly here, with so much excitement, we thought we'd just drop you a quick update.

First, we're thrilled to have new associations with two big websites, carrying Ripple reviews, news and new articles. The first is Jemsite, home of the famous guitars, who've started a new blog to which we'll be contributing new articles and stories of interest. You can find them at www.jemsite.com and check out the community blog. Lot's of cool information there. Our first original article is already up with more to follow.

Second is our new association with Guitar World, the leading guitarist magazine. You'll find a steady feed of Ripple information over at their blog news area, which also feeds into Revolver Magazine and Indie. You can check that out over at: www.news.guitarworld.com.

More good stuff? We have more exclusive tour content coming. Besides the amazing array of french avant-metallers Hypno5e exclusive tour updates, we're expecting any day some exclusive updates from Vanessa Kafka's tour and a few other bands we won't name until a future date. All very exciting stuff.

But perhaps the biggest change coming our way involves the ever-popular, listener-friendly Ripple Radio Show. Due to overwhelming demand from our listeners (OK, from our wives) Ripple Radio will go weekly in the near future. We'll keep you posted on the actual date, but with all the great band interviews, unheard music, and guest bloggers we want to feature, bi-weekly shows just weren't enough. Again, we'll keep you updated on the date, but expect April or May for your weekly dose of the Ripple Radio Rampage. And don't forget, every show is available for free podcast download. Just click on that funny little Blogtalkradio button to the right and it'll take you right there.

There's also some REALLY big Ripple news coming your way soon, information of epochal significance (at least in our world) but we'll save that for a later date. Got to keep you guessing!

Until then, keep on rippling!

Ripple News - New Slough Feg Disc Set for Release


San Francisco’s veterans, and long-time Ripple Favorites, Slough Feg, will release their long-awaited new album, Ape Uprising this May! Release dates vary, landing on the 8th of May in Germany and Europe, 11th of May in UK and June 2 in USA/Canada via Cruz Del Sur Music.

Ape Uprising consists of eight tracks and it is undoubtedly the heaviest release in the twenty-year long history of the band.

The band used the usual team for recordings, Justin Phelps and Justin Weis, later mastering the album at Traxwork studio.

Be sure to catch the Ripple review once the album comes out!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Johnnie Johnson and the Kentucky Headhunters - That'll Work


There's a time for every thing.

I'd seen albums from The Kentucky Headhunters for years, usually available for cheap in the discount bins, but never really felt inclined to pick one up. Based on the name, I was expecting a very countrified version of rock, possibly bordering on new country, (urgh!) and that just never sounded appealing. So I let them pass. Time after time.

Imagine my surprise then, when I picked up this 1993 platter, "That'll Work," and gave it it's initial spin in the Ripple player. Rather than a bland country disc, I was greeted by some damned fine ivory tinkling piano playing leading into a straight up, ballsy southern blues number. Add in some nice, throaty vocals and a classy guitar solo, and it became apparent that these Headhunters had far more in common with The Fabulous Thunderbirds than Alabama. More Stevie Ray Vaughn than Kenny Chesney. Now, suddenly the band had my attention.

After pumping out a few years worth of southern fried, honky tonk, country rock albums, the Headhunters teamed up with the legendary piano player, Johnnie Johnson, formerly of the Chuck Berry band, and put out this tasty dish of pure, unadulterated, southern blues rock. Emphasis here clearly on the blues. And, as I noted on my impression, Johnnie Johnson, an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, shows his chops here in mindboggling fashion. Without a doubt, he is one fine piano player. His fingers dance and tickle across the ivory's throughout that first number, the title track. And when the guitar finally comes in for a solo, it's strong and honest, calling out in a glorious tone.

"Sunday Blues," brims out a percolating brand of funky blues. Vocals soaring over the plucking guitar notes as the whole thing just wanders on down it's own dusty road. Johnson drops in a fine, deeply blues-infected solo, while the band works it's funky beat. Throw in a muscular saxophone, blowing a solo midway, and the whole song kicks up quite a fuss. "Johnnie's Breakdown," brings on the jump, dashing away in a honky tonk instrumental designed to get you kicking your shoes off on the dancefloor.

All of which brings us to my favorite track, the album's highlight, the painfully mournful, lobbing blues of "I'm Not Runnin'." Starting off eerily similar to the classic "Night Time is the Right Time," this is deeply wounded blues, guitars howling out a tearful song of the type Robert Cray did so well. And the album goes on from their, mining the same straight up bluesy path til the e
nd, making me dream of a wooden porch on a Texas morning, crawdads bubbling away for the afternoon's party and some good brisket on the bar-b-que.

The final track, "Tell Me Baby," is another standout, a true blues stalwart. Beautiful piano trickling through the melody with some of the albums finest guitar work. Not one to be missed.

Listening to this on my way into work, I was lost in the blues, my hand tapping the steering wheel, my toes tapping. All of which made me regret that I'd never taken the time to pick this one up out of the bins earlier. I'd have a hard time calling "That'll Work," a lost classic, but if your in the mood for the blues, this baby should scratch that itch just fine.

The time just has to be right.

--Racer

That'll Work



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hackman - Enterprises

This is a great album to start your workday. At least for me it has been.

I’m lucky enough to sit in my own office so I can listen to music all day and not really bother anyone. However, super fast stuff will drive the lady in the next office nuts and if I play anything too loud the people in cube-land will start to complain that they can’t hear themselves talk about sports. As the work day progresses and everyone’s productivity increases, I can turn up the volume and tempo if I want. Most mornings I’ll start with something like Horace Silver or BB King, but I’ve also found that Sleep’s “Dopesmoker” is great to stimulate the brain into functioning.

This new Hackman album Enterprises is sort of like that.


When the Ripple asked me if I wanted to write up some new releases rather than the usual Mountain/Grand Funk oldies I said what the hell. I’ll only write about what I like and now I like Hackman. I had heard the name and knew they were from Boston but nothing else. The one sheet and bio from Small Stone Records says that Enterprises was recorded in Brooklyn. Hey, I live in Brooklyn! But probably not in the part of town where this was recorded. That’s good, because I wouldn’t want anyone making this kind of a racket in my neighborhood.


This record is loud no matter what volume you play it at. The opening song “Panama” is thankfully not a cover of one of my least favorite Van Halen songs but more like a variation on Black Sabbath’s “Hole In The Sky.” On the first spin of this record, it wasn’t until the 2nd song “Monoceros” when the vocals kicked in that I realized Hackman is mainly an instrumental band. Their riffs and jams are super heavy but very well written so the lack of vocals keep the songs compelling. A lot of bands that attempt this style of music wind up sounding like an extended Sleep soundcheck while they wait for the soundguy to turn on the PA system and put up some vocal mics.


There are 10 songs on this record and they flow together really well. “End of Men” is a two minute acoustic (eeek!) guitar interlude in the middle of the record that makes the heavy stuff sound even heavier. It gives the album some light and shade that many heavy bands avoid. It worked really well for Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The sound on this thing is HUGE. The bass is filthy, the drums boom and the guitars crush. The vocals, when present, are hoarse, shouted statements of discontent (such as “I don’t want it/you can keep it” over and over). The song “Bludge” has samples of what sounds like a bunch of drunk rednecks arguing at a party at 3AM right before the cops show up.


You can just put this record on and be transported to the riff filled land for about an hour and not be interrupted. There’s also a great hidden bonus track after a few minutes of silence at the end of album that’s mainly ambient guitar noise. I wish I had the time to get baked and listen to this really loud on my home stereo but that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. I would strongly recommend that you try it and lemmy know the results.


--Woody


buy here: Enterprises


http://www.myspace.com/hackmanriffs

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ripple Theater – Dies Irae – The Art of an Endless Creation

One dark night, I crept into the Ripple Theater quiet as a mouse. I loaded up on some warm and buttery popcorn, pushed the red leather couch strategically between the wall speakers to achieve maximum sonic pleasure, dug beneath the cushions and found some stale Mike & Ike’s left over from one of our many guests, and fired up this DVD from Polish death metal specialists, Dies Irae. I thought I was alone this chilly winter night, but lo and behold, I believe we have a four legged and furry squatter in our midst. I hope the lil critter likes death metal.


Captured live at the 2005 edition of the Metalmania Festival in Katowice, Poland, this DVD finally sees the light of day. A little back history on the band . . . Dies Irae was made up of members from bands such as Vader, Decapitated, and Sceptic, releasing three albums before their drummer, Doc, passed away due to still unknown causes. So, in honoring their fallen band mate, Dies Irae has given their rabid fans a fresh piece of for their collections by releasing a sterling capsule of visual history.

I don’t know the first thing about cinematography, moving making, or visual effects, but what I do know is that when me and my new found furry friend sat back to watch this video, we were blown away by the crispness of the imagery. The cameras easily shifted between the four members of the band and caught them during all of the finest metal moments. I was captivated by the stage presence of bassist/vocalist Novy. Left leg propped on the top of the monitors while both belting out the most vicious sounding snarls in metaldom and plucking away at the bass strings with the ferocity of a man buried alive . . . trying in vain to dig his way through six feet of soil.

Dies Irae is a band that one might categorize as a technical death metal outfit, and I’d have to agree with them. The music is truly intense with violent swings of tempo and forearm straining pick action. Guitarists Hiro and Mauser are god-like in their performances, as they trade off these incredible, heart stopping solos with the same ease as I have passing a beer to Racer. If guitar playing were a specialty in some armed forces, this guitar wielding tandem would be the Eagle Force, Green Beret, Seals, and Ninja all wrapped into one. They play in an efficient manner, never going overboard with visual flamboyance, simply getting in and getting it done. But what makes them stand out from the rest of the guitar gurus is that they play with a subtle sense of emotion and melody. I could sit back and listen to these cats for hours.

This live collection spotlights a handful of tracks from their 2005 masterpiece, Sculpture of Stone, as well as select tracks from their previous releases, Immolated and The Sin War. I was fairly familiar with the Sculpture of Stone material since my copy of the DVD came with the full length CD. Bonus! Included on the DVD is a bootleg concert, which almost looks like it was recorded from someone’s cell phone, but with stronger quality. The sound on the boot is solid as well.

After viewing this collection, I’m sold that the world lost a hell of a musical outfit, even if it’s for a temporary time. Dies Irae is not your standard fair of death metal. They bring a semblance of style to the all out pummeling that I’m having a hard time comparing to any other band. They’re kind of like that smooth dressed assassin who is all suave as he sidles up to his helpless victim and whacks them with a smile. Brilliantly captivating music, though I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s definitely a piece of music that can’t be forgotten and left to wither on the vine. If you can find the deluxe edition with a copy of Sculpture of Stone, pick that one up. The album is amazing and will certainly blow your mind. Plus, it will give you fair warning of what you’ll witness on the big screen.

With that, I’ll let Senor Raton kill the lights and I’ll call it a good night. - Pope JTE

Buy here: The Art of the Endless Creation



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday's Zen - Winston's Take on the Best of the UK Scene

CRYING OUT FOR ATTENTION

TWISTED WHEEL

Having spent much of 2008 playing the biggest stages with the biggest names in the UK, it would be fair to say that Odlham three-piece Twisted Wheel have the world at their scruffy trainers. Formed in 2007 when front-man Johnny Brown and bassist Rick Lees left former outfit The Children it wasn’t long before they were snapped up by Columbia and supporting the likes of The Courteeners, Ian Brown, Kasabian and the mighty Oasis.

Gaining plenty of airplay across the UK, lead single We Are Us is physically released on April 6th, with their self titled debut album, produced by Oasis and Marilyn Manson supremo Dave Sardy following a week later. Loud, proud and punkier than Pink and Peaches Geldof doing the nasty at a Sex Pistols party, Twisted Wheel are coming. Get ready.Check out the Zen’s full write up on We Are Us here. If that doesn’t convince you, debut single She’s A Weapon, released in January 2008 really ought to;

Twisted Wheel Links:

Homepage | MySpace | Facebook |Last.fm
Buy CDs | Buy MP3s

CAUSING A COMMOTION

YOUTUBE BLOCKS MUSIC IN THE UK

Once again nobody wins in the UK’s latest e-licensing debacle. In a move destined to create shockwaves much bigger than the Pandora withdrawal, online video giants YouTube this week began the unenviable task of blocking all industry-uploaded music videos to UK users. The move restricts choice for British consumers even further after popular net-radio service Pandora withdrew from the market in January of last year claiming royalties rates demanded by UK agents rendered their business plan unviable.

YouTube bosses are singing pretty much the same tune, accusing the Performers Rights Society of trying to renegotiate payment terms many times higher whilst refusing to disclose the actual artists any potential deal would cover. The PRS naturally tells a different story, claiming that it is only trying to secure it’s members an increase in fees reflective of YouTube’s recent climb in viewership.

Whatever the truth, the question that arises is; If Google can’t make streaming music profitable in the UK, who can? UK music fans seeking alternatives to high priced CDs pray that Spotify have done their numbers properly.


COMING TO AMERICA

LIAM FRAY TAKES HIS COURTEENERS STATE-SIDE

2008’s Mancastrian love-to-hates The Courteeners are all set to take their roof raising live act to American soil. It’s almost twelve months after the release of St Jude, one of the most accomplished debut albums of last year (one which is almost as good as its creator thinks it is) and U.S. fans will finally be able to experience the Liam Fray whirlwind this very month, when the band take their rock ‘n’ roll riot across the county with the inimitable Morrissey.

The Courteeners will play;

  • 17 Mar 2009 - Mercury Lounge New York, New York
  • 19 Mar 2009 - Univ of Buffalo Center for the Arts (with Morrissey) Buffalo, New York
  • 21 Mar 2009 - Bowery Ballroom (with Morrissey) - New York, New York
  • 22 Mar 2009 - Academy of Music (with Morrissey) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 24 Mar 2009 - North Star Bar - www.ticketweb.com Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 25 Mar 2009 -Webster Hall (with Morrissey) New York, New York
  • 26 Mar 2009 - Carnegie Hall (with Morrissey) New York, New York
  • 29 Mar 2009 - House Of Blues (with Morrissey) Boston, Massachusetts
  • 31 Mar 2009 - Michigan Theater (with Morrissey) Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 1 Apr 2009 - Palace Theater (with Morrissey) Columbus, Ohio
  • 3 Apr 2009 - Eagles Ballroom (with Morrissey) Millwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 4 Apr 2009 - Aragon Ballroom (with Morrissey) Chicago, Illinois
  • 6 Apr 2009 - State Theater (with Morrissey) Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 7 Apr 2009 - Midland Theater (with Morrissey) Kansas City, Missouri
  • 8 Apr 2009 - Pageant Theatre (with Morrissey) St. Louis, Missouri
  • 10 Apr 2009 - Dallas Palladium (with Morrissey) Dallas, Texas
  • 11 Apr 2009 - Jesse Jones Hall (with Morrissey) Houston, Texas
  • 12 Apr 2009 - Bass Concert Hall (with Morrissey) Austin, Texas
  • 14 Apr 2009 - Chavez Theater (with Morrissey) El Paso, Texas
  • 15 Apr 2009 - Sunshine Theater (with Morrissey) Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • 17 Apr 2009 - Coachella Indio, Californiaachella Indio, California
Grab your tickets from Ticketmaster.com

The Courteeners Links:
Homepage | MySpace | Facebook | Last.fm
Buy CDs | Buy MP3s



That’s it from the Zen for now. We’ll be riding the ripple again in a couple of weeks with more of the best UK music you’re not listening to.

Back soon,
Winston

Winston’s Zen
Good music brings inner peace...
Twitter | Flickr| YouTube | Last.fm



Monday, March 23, 2009

A Ripple Road Trip - vol. II

As in my first Ripple Roadtrip post, this post is a homage to the wonderful, vast assortment of music that finds it's way into postman Sal's mailbag, and therefore onto our Ripple desks each day. And if there's one thing I love about the Ripple, it's that variety. As opposed to some websites who seem to think they're above the musicians, or the many quality sites out there that focus on a particular genre, here at the Ripple we're one big open mind. Rock, pop, punk, prog, proto-metal. It don't matter. Our job is simply to write about the music that moves us, each and every day.

So today, let's go for another ride in the Ripple Ghia and see what's spinning on the player.


Hurt - Goodbye to the Machine

In this world of post-Nickleback, post-grunge soundalike/lookalike bands, how’s a gang of earnest alt-metallers, with a love of their influences, some serious chops, and a knack for a melody supposed to pull themselves out of the masses? That’s the question that Hurt probably had to answer daily as they prepared this, their third album, their first after being released from their major label contract. And, let me tell you, the answers they came up with surprised me to no end. Forget the straight ahead crunch of nu-metal, Hurt tosses a busload of disparate elements into the mix, delving into the world of neo-prog, expanded song structures, flipping time changes, off-time passages and heaps of expertly played acoustics into the mix. In doing so, Hurt have produced an infinitely listenable disc that I just can’t seem to get out of the Ripple player.

Eschewing digital technology, Hurt recorded this album old-school, with analog tape, and the results are far better because of it. The sound is intimate, warm and full, sounding . . . complete. As much as this album rock, and drops down to gentle passages, mixing up it's approach to each song, nothing ever sounds forced or out of place. It just is, if that's a Zen enough explanation for you. As far as the influences go, you'll find them all here, from Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and the aforementioned Nickleback, to Tool, Seether, Radiohead and more. I suppose most importantly, Hurt manages to transcend these influence, creating a multi-varied album, full of twists and turns, slinky surprises, gorgeous melodies, and ambient beauty that never once forgets how to rock, nearly blowing the doors off my 42 year-old car. "Got Jealous," may be one of the most straight ahead rockers on the album, raging in all it's post-Nirvana glory, until the entire bottom drops out, plunking us down into a stunning moment of acoustic guitar and J. Loren Wince's startlingly naked, deeply emotive vocals. "Pandora," for some reason reminds me of a band like Anathema, (and that's a good thing) rocking out in it's own chiming guitar and bass-loaded groove. When the guitars come in, they crash down like the angry hand of God, wiping the Earth clean of sinners. Then, what is that? A violin? The metallic crunch fading away to an acoustic piano? Didn't see that coming, and appreciate it all the more.

"Wars," tackles the ideology of human kind's mad quest for self-destruction amongst a brutally powerful ascending guitar riff, layered with piano, bass rolls and effects. "World Ain't Right," starts off a mini-set of acoustic songs, Wince's vocals sounding most reminiscent of Layne Staley here, particularly with the Jerry Cantrell-like harmony vocals. "Sweet Delilah," keeps the acoustic vibe going, though at a quicker pace, while "1331" actually brings in a touch of Red Hot Chile Peppers, in it's light-hearted funk approach. Until the chorus blows your ears off, that is. "Role Martyr," brings the alt-metal roaring back, riding on the spine of a crunchy riff, before layering down into it's groove. What I haven't told you though, are all the twists and turns, breakdowns and time-changing bridges the boys have tossed into the mix to this point. And we're only halfway through. This is an album that rewards repeated plays, unfolding at it's own place, deciding when it wants to reveal it's treasures. And after a good 10 listens, I'm still mining, discovering new, hidden gems each time. An impressive, extremely mature, definitely rocking affair.

buy here: Goodbye to the Machine

www.hurtband.com


Rock 'N' Roll Monkey and the Robots - Back to Beatsville

Besides having a freaking cool name, Rock 'N' Roll Monkey and the Robots have an equally cool sound to go with it. Equal parts early-period B-52's and "Goo Goo Muck,"-era Cramps, a big dash of surf-inspired garage punk, and a heaping dash of "Peter Gunn," uber-cool, RNR Monkey occupy a little corner of their B-movie, sci fi universe all on their own. Listening to this disc is like stepping into the world's most super-cool lounge, populated with a bizarre mix of beret wearing, goatee bearded, poetry-reading zombies. Dancing alien Go-Go girls surround the stage, while sexy, beaded-dress, hip shaking witches tear up the dance floor doing The Sprinkler and The Swim.

Craig Campbell's disaffected vocals work perfectly for this monster mash, particularly when accompanied by the Kate Pierson-esqe backing vocals of Jackie Herman. The whole scene works best when the Monkey and his Robots push their B-movie, cool lounge shtick to the ultimate, on songs like "Hitch a Ride to Beatsville, "Time Machine," and the aptly named, "Do the Rock and Roll Monkey." Garagey guitars, cool beat-era horns resound and the whole shebang is just infinitely groovy. A cocktail party no one would want to leave.

Admittedly, the sound can wear a little thin at times, and I have no idea where they're going to go on the next album. Personally, I'd like to see them rough things up just a little, adding a bit more bite to their guitars on a few numbers, picking up the pace. But still, this baby is a keeper. All onboard, we're all heading back to Beatsville.


www.rocknrollmonkey.com



Reel Big Fish - Fame, Fortune and Fornication

The continuing adventures of one of America’s favorite frat rock bands. Reel Big Fish come dancing, skanking, and drinking their way back to toga parties and beer bong freak outs the world over with their latest release of party-anthem ska-punk. To be honest, I wasn’t just sitting around in the Ripple office dying for an album of Reel Big Fish covers of classic rock and roll songs to be tossed onto my desk by our fearless postman, but once it landed with a thud on my desk, I was intrigued. What sort of beer-drenched, co-ed friendly assault would The Fishsters lay on tracks like "Talk Dirty to Me," or "Mama We're all Crazy Now?"

Well, pretty fricking drenched in fun is the answer. With its big horn-section attack, roundly pulsing bass, and neo-punk guitar "Authority Song," will get the freshmen running from the kegs to the dance floor for some sloppy slam dancing and call-and-response shouting. You can nearly taste the spilled beer on "Nothin' But a Good Time," and only a creation of Dr Frankenstein would be able to resist the ska-filled skanking dance groove of "Brown Eyed Girl," and "Veronica Sawyer." "Mama We're All Crazy Now," positively radiates in this remake as a scratch guitar ska burner. Should be mandatory listening at every frat house across America, or at least given out along with the tap with every keg of beer sold. Bikini posters optional.

Buy here: Fame, Fortune, Fornication

www.reel-big-fish.com



The Automatic - This Is A Fix

Coming hot on the heels of their perennial Ripple favorite debut, Not Accepted Anywhere, The Automatic (the Automatic Automatic in the US) are set to take the world by storm with this, their sophomore release. Changes have hit the band since their debut, with the departure of Alex Pennie who provided the band’s trademark (though questionably annoying) high-pitched ghosting vocals. So the real question is-how has the band responded?

Employing the same infectious, bass-heavy groove that propelled songs like “Monster,” and “Recover,” to become staples of the Ripple Radio Show, This is a Fix blisters with a new-found confidence and sense of experimentation, finding the boys digging deeper into their newly developing bag of songwriting chops. With some of the electrofunk elements gone with Pennie, this turns out to be a heavier, harder affair. Confidently, I can say that maturity hasn’t tempered these Welch-post-punks, rather it seems to have made them pissed and damn ready to let the world know. Riding a storming Gang of Four thromping beat, with splices of stinging guitar fills, “Responsible Citizen,” positively rails against government intrusion into their God-given right to get pissed at the local pub. Anger has never worked this well on the dance floor before. An unadulterated blast of pure groovilicious mania. “Steve McQueen,” looses none of the riotous energy of the opener, Robin Hawkins’s voice even more snotty and spitty as he sings “I was the teenage Steve McQueen/my best performance escaped me.”Guitars scream in scorching wails over the propulsive beat. Another future Ripple Radio staple.

“Accessories,” positively pulses with punk energy, bringing a hefty dose of The Undertones energy to their bass thumping, raving against the feeling that the boys have become accessories to the big machine. Elsewhere, as on “This Ship,” “Sleepwalking,” and “In the Mountains,” the boys ditch their heavier funk tendencies, mining a more fertile traditional britrock field, but don’t worry, the gang hasn’t forgotten how to rip out a funky burner, as the title track shows aptly. This is when the boys are at their strongest, when they unleash the snot-nosed funk. Rather than collapse under the changes, The Automatic, have taken stock, found their strengths, grown up a bit, and knocked out a more mature sounding, but still just as scorching corker.

Buy here: This Is a Fix


--Racer



Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Hypno5e

Camped out on the red leather couch, the members of Hypno5e sit, enveloped in an aura of flashing film clips and surreal ambient noise. Join us as the band works to distance themselves from the rest of the music world, their creation of a sight and sound relationship, and the burgeoning music scene in France.

Hypno5e is truly a unique band. You incorporate numerous elements from various metal genres to create your sound, but maybe just as important is that you utilize a vast amount of visual aid as well. How did this visual creative medium come about?

Emmanuel Jessua (vocals, guitar, piano, programming): According to me picture and sound go together. I discovered music through cinema, music generates images, a music note suggests an emotion becoming a picture in your head. The visual aspect is thus taking part in the birth of our music. Furthermore it is underlined by some films’ samples. The big picture has always been very appealing to me, as well as pictures in a broader sense, having video in our project is thus logical.

I’m in charge of the video: I use my own archives plus some movies’ extracts which I warp my own way, just like music samples. A bit like Godard did in “Histoire du cinema”. I’ve been working on it for a long time, it is one of the basis of this project, the second album will be built the same way. We try to make a movie that generates your own interpretation of it, music notes are turned into graphic concepts, thanks to colour changing and effects, so the result is more than just music.

France is not usually on the tip of everyone’s mind when talking about metal, but Hypno5e are in the midst of one the more exciting movements in metal that I’ve heard or seen in a long time. The metal that’s coming out of France is more experimental than anything else around, and on top of that, the density of the sound can be overwhelming. Do you recognize that you’re part of metal movement of sorts? Has the French underground always been so brutally heavy?

Emmanuel: We don’t really consider ourselves as members of any kind of music, and even less of any Metal movement. We don’t want to be closed in a single music style, because we all have different musical “horizons”. Our goal is not to fusion all those style we love, but to create a real hybrid style that doesn’t obey any code. We follow no school, no academy.


Is there an underlying social/political situation in France that causes bands, such as you, to create such monstrous music? Or, is it more of a process to just create more and more intense music than your peers?

Emmanuel: We don’t want our music to be at the service of any political or social ideology.
Our music results from an aesthetic research. It is not the result of any political or social situation, but it may become political when you listen to it (because it always tends toward transformation, change). We don’t claim anything except that we want to be free from any musical or ideological code.

This French Renaissance of metal isn’t limited to one region of the country, for instance, Gojira is from Bayonne, Hacride is from Poitiers, Psykup and End. are from Toulouse, and Hypno5e are from Montpellier. Though stylistically different, it seems that each band still carries that incredible amount of low end in their music, as well as no fear attitude towards pushing the creative envelope. With such a wide spread amount of territory, what do you feel brings each band together so similarly?

Gredin (bass): There is one rule: swipe the table before creating, just keep the best from the past but don’t copy it. French metal is globally underground. Kids don’t have many opportunities to listen to that kind of music on the radio, so I guess everyone does it their own way.

Loudblast were a mid ‘80’s thrash / death metal band from France, were Hypno5e in any way inspired or influenced by their music?

Emmanuel : I am sorry to tell you that I’ve never been listening to Loudblast, so we can’t really be influenced I don’t listen much Metal music as I told you, we try as much as we can to be free of any influences.

Gredin: yeah, and as I told you metal in France has never been much broadcasted.

Emmanuel: I listen to classical and experimental music for the most. Gredin is keen on Xenakis and Reich, the others listen to more electronic music. So we don’t listen to that much metal or rock. These kinds of music rarely please us.

I know of a mere handful of bands that are a part of the French metal scene, and I’ve named most of them. Who else is out there making waves and creating this fascinating style of music?

Emmanuel: We don’t listen to much metal, but we enjoy Gojira and Psykup, they make good music and are great people.

As you and most of the Waveriders know, I found your album Des Deux L’une Est L’autre to be a brilliant piece of sonic art that captures the imagination like very few pieces of music can. I’ve also heard that there is a follow up album in the works. How do you produce an album better than perfection? In other words, how do you follow up such an amazing and groundbreaking album without coming up short? Do you feel any pressure to make this new album better than the last?

Emmanuel: Now, we are recording, and yes, we have a lot of pressure to make this new album. For our first album, we’ve waited something like 3 years before recording, and we recorded the album 3 times, because we always wanted to do better than it was. I can’t really explain how we compose our music. It’s a very abstract process. Usually, we like to exile to a no man’s land, and stay there for weeks, trying to release a very interior music.

When you create a piece of music, how much does the visual aspect of the music come into play? Is the visual performance a by-product of the music?

Emmanuel: We want our project to be totally artistic, including music, video, and visuals. So, the visual aspect is within the music when we create it. After the composition, when we are to perform on tour, we create a film that is going to be projected during the shows. Our first tour was with an experimental film that I’ve made, mostly based on rhythm and contrast with the music. For our next album’s tour, the movie will be more present, we are now working on a new movie that will be a real fiction, and this fiction has to be already included in the base of music, that’s why this new album is harder to compose than the first one.

Where do you find your creative energy? Do you simply sit down, hammer out a riff and then figure out ways to make it more dynamic, or is it more of an organic process?

Emmanuel: As I told, composing is more of an organic process. We want our music to translate and to be the expression of a backward glance on ourselves or on our imagination. It can also be related to images we see or imagine. Because I’ve travelled a lot, my imagination is always refilled by new sensations, pictures or emotions, and I try to translate this travelling effect of transforming images of reality to mental images in our music, I think that’s why our music is nostalgic and very broken. I don’t know if I am very clear, sorry.

When we make our way out to Montpellier, where would you recommend we stop to find the best underground or best selection of music (stores and clubs)?

Gredin: I own a bar called “Le Méchantes bêtes” ( http://lemechantesbetes.over-blog.com/ ) where we only play experimental and noise music, international bands come here and play sounds never heard before, I haven’t had the occasion to see a place like this in the States, you should come and hear what’s new! The only American artist I’ve received is Mary-Clare Brtzwa from NYC.

Emmanuel: If it’s still alive, just go the Rockstore, and to the Secret Place, those are great clubs!

Thanks for taking the time to rap with us! Best of luck on the remaining dates of your U.S. tour! Hopefully, we'll catch you on the next trip through!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Metal Mind Productions presents a special ltd. swing-case edition of Michel Schenker Group’s first DVD. This German hard rock/heavy metal guitar legend, and long-time Ripple Favorite, was a founding member of Scorpions, and achieved fame as a member of UFO in the middle of the 1970s. Schenker has had a long career that has seen him rise to become one of the most influential and respected rock guitarists of today, producing several classic albums along the way.

“World Wide Live 2004” DVD features a recording of MSG supreme performance at the Metalmania Festival 2004. The new edition includes an additional CD with audio tracks recorded at the show. Track list consists of the highlights of all stages of Schenker's career: from UFO hits, through MSG classic tracks, to his solo compositions!

DVD also includes: band bio, discography, 25-minute interview, in which Michael talks about his career, photo gallery, desktop images, weblinks. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.

DVD+CD swing case edition is limited to 2000 copies. “World Wide Live 2004” DVD+CD will be available on 16th March in Europe and 24th March in USA.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cloakwheel – The Crooked Path You’ve Drawn

I stumbled on these guys about three years ago, and at that time Cloakwheel didn’t have a vocalist. What I took from that early experience of the band was that they were hellishly talented musicians and they knew it. I remember the music being heavy and complex, but nothing to write home about. So, I made that ever so important mental note to keep tabs on the band. Now, fast forward to the end of 2008 and the band has released a seven song musical epic called The Crooked Path You’ve Drawn, complete with vocals, sharp production, and a distinct musical growth. Heavy in prog leanings, Cloakwheel doesn’t rely solely on technical brilliance and musical passages littered with the dried out husks of a million useless notes. These guys challenge the listener with odd time changes and quick start/stops to show one aspect of their musical talent. The other key characteristic to their progressive leanings is that the guitars don’t stay cranked to eleven with overdrive and distortion. Guitarists Vic Carreiro and Marcus Luscombe do an exceptional job of mixing different guitar tones throughout this disc. Also, and quite possibly most important, these guys bring melody to the music.

Opening track, “Smolder,” captures the essence of the band with its tension building intro, grandiose sound, layers upon layers of vocals and varying tones of guitar, and musicianship that makes us lesser talented musicians shake our heads in disbelief. This tune is well crafted and is exactly what I love about prog rock/metal. “Smolder,” broken down to its root structure, is a good song. Throw in the time changes and the unorthodox elements as Cloakwheel have done and you get a song that actually goes somewhere. It breaks out of the standard song mode and takes us to the future, past, and destinations within the fourth dimension. Plus, I’m a sucker for songs about the end of days and the apocalypse. On that point, I’d like to mention that the lyrics are written poetically enough to not sound cliché or trite, and force the listener to actually break down what is being said. See? Making the listener use their noodle. Prog leanings.

In classic prog fashion, there’s a three part epic that puts a bow on the whole disc. “Dreams Are Falling” is broken into three phases that when all put together creates this moving epic of a song. “Phase I” is a synth laden piece that acts as the intro to the rest of the story. “Phase II” is a burner of ripping scales and changing guitar tones, guitairst/vocalist Marcus Luscombe continues to push the story forward. “Phase III” opens with the rhythmic brilliance of the brothers Deutscher, John on bass, Pete on drums, and puts a nice neat bow on the whole tale. Make special note of the guitar solo on this one as it’s packed with emotional melody and technical virtuosity.

The high point of this album is “House of Cards.” What’s not to love? Great guitar work, solid and emotive vocals, technical drum work that is musical at the same time, and low end bass work that’s as strong as the weave of a Kevlar vest. All put together, the song flexes with heavy metal muscle and in the same breath, soothes with a feather light touch. Immensely broad in sound, Cloakwheel shines like a thousand suns. The instrumental break at the guitar solo is out of this freaking world! Carreiro or Luscombe's solo is a work of beauty, especially as he shifts from the heavy distortion and dousing of wah pedal, and drops into the cleaner, Spanish toned voice. Watch out for this tandem. They've got an approach to his instrument that is reminiscent of the gods we revere. If I could give this song 6 out of 5 stars, I would do so.

The Crooked Path You’ve Drawn is exactly what I look for when I want to hear progressive music. Sure, there are other bands out there that add beautiful melodies to their brand of prog, but those bands are far and few between. Too many times, I kick out the disc if it’s just a flurry of notes. I don’t care how many notes you can stuff into a measure. I’m not impressed. Cloakwheel have impressed me. God, such flavor to the songwriting and the performances from each individual member! Listen to “Transition Days” and tell me that’s not otherworldly. A cohesive unit that’s able to convey a strong musical message and emotion all while playing in a technically proficient manner. This is also one of those discs where I hear something fresh with each subsequent playing. That translates to more and more spinnings coz’ I’m never gonna’ get tired of this. Keep an ear out for these guys, Waveriders . . . Cloakwheel are for real.

-- Popejte

Buy the CD

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