Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ripple News - NWOBHM Legends, Jaguar, Re-Release CD

Lost heroes? Living legends? Heavy metal veterans? I guess that all these phrases can used with Jaguar, the classic metal formation that stormed the British charts in the early 80’s. Being a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, the band quickly gathered a large group of fans, selling thousands of records in England alone. Their career came to a halt after 1985, when the group decided to retire from the music scene. Jaguar returned years later to reclaim their rightful place among heavy metal heroes. “This Time” is one of the most important albums from the band’s early period – it’s both an artistic experiment, as well as a truly magnificent collaboration of glam rock and heavy metal. The album, released in 1984, showcased a musical mixture that blended together elements of metal, classic rock and even pop music. The band was not afraid to experiment, delivering both intense, powerful tunes and emotional ballads. For those who haven’t heard it yet – this your chance to get to know one of most talented NWOBHM acts ever.

Metal Mind Productions will re-release “This Time” on 19th January in Europe and 10th March in USA (via MVD). New digipak edition includes 4 bonus tracks (demo, live and remix) and is limited to 2000 copies. Digitally remastered using 24-Bit process on a golden disc.

“This Time” (remastered + bonus tracks)

Label: Metal Mind Records
Cat. No.: MASS CD 1254 DG
Barcode: 5907785034082
Format: CD Digipak (limited edition of 2000 numbered copies)
Genre: N.W.O.B.H.M
Release date: 19.01.2009 Europe / 10.03.2009 USA

1. This Time
2. Last Flight
3. A Taste of Freedom
4. Another Lost Weekend
5. Stand Up (Tumple Down)
6. Sleepwalker
7. Tear the Shackles Down
8. Stranger
9. Driftwood
10. (Nights of) Long Shadows
Bonus tracks:
11. (Nights of) Long Shadows (demo)
12. Last Flight (demo)
13. Sleepwalker (live)
14. This Time (remix)

Ripple News - Biclops new and old CD's to be Released

Gotta be honest with you, waveriders. When I first saw this release I just new that the Pope was going to freak. In case you missed it, Pope reviewed the latest CD from the latest incarnation of these bands and he freaked. Read it for yourself, but rest assured knowing that it jumped right on up to the top of The Pope's Best of 2008 list.

So I present this tidbit of news to you with profound joy, and a small drool bucket for my gape-mouthed partner.

Biclops (ex and current Postman Syndrome / East Of The Wall / Day Without Dawn) will be entering the studio on March 15th to record their debut full-length for a to-be-determined label. Recording and mixing will be handled at The Machine Shop (Clutch, King Crimson, Lamb Of God) by producer Will Putney.

In addition, two releases from the bands' previous incarnation, The Postman Syndrome, are planned for the coming year as well. The first will be the long awaited release of The Postman Syndrome's demos for an unreleased record that was scrapped when the band's former label, Now Or Never Records, folded in 2004. These demos will finally come to light this summer.

Finally, original Postman Syndrome members Mike Somers (East Of The Wall), Matt Lupo (East Of The Wall), Chris Alfano (Biclops), and Brett Bamberger (Biclops / East Of The Wall) will join forces with Kevin Conway (Biclops / East Of The Wall) to compose new Postman Syndrome material. The writing sessions will begin this May following completion of the Biclops record, and the current plan is to release two or three new songs on a split or an EP in late 2009 or early 2010.

Biclops will be on tour for various short runs in January - May 2009, with several shows booked now:
1/10/2009 House Show - Pennington, NJ w/East Of The Wall, All Parallels, A Fucking Elephant, So Is The Tongue
1/17/2009 The Stomping Grounds - Lancaster, PA w/ Tombs, Monolith, Pandas, Qwirk
1/22/2009 Cousin Larry’s - Danbury, CT w/ Hive Smasher

Friday, January 30, 2009

Proto-metal Report - Dust - S/T

With Marky Ramone being a recent, and very gracious guest on our radio show, there really was very little surprise which band was going to occupy this month's Proto-metal Report. For those of you who want to hear what Marky had to say about his old band, the Ramones, Phil Spector, the great CBGB days, and see why the show was chosen as one of the Best Shows of the Week at blogtalkradio, you can still download the podcast for free at Ripple Radio. But for today, we're going back a little farther in time to this nasty little treat from early in Marky Ramone's discography.

Formed in 1968 by guitarist/vocalist Richie Wise, bassist/guitarist Kenny Aaronson, and a still then teenage, Marky Ramone (then Mark Bell), with lyricist Kenny Kerner, Dust cut a path rarely traveled at the time. While most of the early heavy proto-metal vibe at the time was coming from the U.K. and Europe, Dust tuned in hard and heavy to the darker, psychedelic early metal vibe. Plying their trade in New York, the boys were quickly signed to Kama Sutra records and released this vintage undertaking of ball's out, in your face, pre-metal corruption.

"Stone Woman," starts off nicely enough with a charging guitar riff, but doesn't really tell the story of what awaits you. Appropriate sounding for the day, the blasted to the front of the mix overdubs of slide guitar sound dated today and detract from the real song underneath. Buried down there, Marky Ramone is instantly proving himself a drummer of record, beating out beautifully complex polyrhythmic hard rock runs. We'll consider this song a gentle misstep and move right on to the meat of the album.

"Chasin' Ladies," the second track is a beauty. Following Marky's drum into, the boys quickly drop right into a funky, slightly southern groove, deeply indebted to Mountain's "Mississippi Queen." Big chords, slashing guitar fills and Marky keeping beat like a wild child freshly released into civilization. Richie Wise's voice, gently distorted, brings an edge of urgency to the track. But what really blows my mind are the fantastic, hugely looping basslines of Kenny Aaronson. Later to go on and play with the Stories and Rick Derringer, Aaronson plays like a freak of nature. Just listen to the stuttering breakdown midway through. He's throwing in more notes per line than should be humanly possible, plucking away like some 8-fingered mutant. Huge basslines, running up and down the neck, Aaronson's bass doesn't anchor the song to the rhythm, rather he unleashes the beast and sets it out to hunt for fresh prey. And when Wise finally takes the handcuffs off and rips out his first solo, it's a beaut. His tone sounding totally original, like his fingers have been laced with electricity. This song's a winner.

"Goin' Easy," finds these three New Yorkers dropping down into the deep Mississippi swamp for a muddy tour through some slower southern-tipped blues. While totally out of sync with the prior song, it still holds together here, tipping a hat towards the wandering muse that probably kept these boys from ever hitting the charts. But listen closely, there's a beautiful melody there as Richie sings "And I love you/and I'll never let you go." Again, a bit too much dubbed slide guitar for my taste, but still a worthy effort.

All of which brings us to "Love Me Hard." While many a purist will make a strong argument that the overt Sabbathism of "From a Dry Camel," is the album's centerpiece (a song we'll get to in a moment) this frenetic, charging track is the pinnacle of this Everest of proto-metal for me. The opening guitar riffs chugs out like a blind rhino in heat, blasting right into your face. Aaronson's looping bassline shoot the song off into some nearby linear orbit, and Marky Ramone's drums need to be heard to be believed. And it's not the obvious fills that captivate me so much. It's the stuttering, missed-beat, rummaging pounding he lays down underneath the main riff that drops my jaw. After a mid-song breakdown that probably goes on for one or two bars too long, the drums come pounding back, mutating right back into the opening charging riff. Wise's voice is at it's finest, adding a real sense of ferocity and passion to the singing that even allow us to overlook the occasional lyrical misstep like "Now I'm standing here alone/Alone and by myself." (as opposed to be alone with all those other people, I assume.) But even then, the song is shoved down your throat with such conviction, Wise sells it completely. No doubt about it, this blast should rightfully take it's place up there with the best of the early American proto-metal.

Now, I've already alluded to the 9:53 minute ode to B-school horror film, gloom and doom that is "From a Dry Camel," and without a doubt this song deserves the praise that gets heaped upon it. This is full on, massively mentally distorted Sabbath at its frightening best. Deep, impossibly heavy, trudgingly slow riffs blast out like the world's worst acid trip. This is without a doubt the most menacing sound coming in 1971 from some place other than Birmingham, England. Plowing forward at this corpse pace for nearly four minutes, the steam picks up midway, acoustic guitar flailing over the lobbing bass, gathering momentum, picking up speed straight to the acid-fried guitar breakdown. A pure on assault of Sabbath-fired doom metal that probably scared the shit out of some kids at the time.

"Often Shadows Felt," is a a mostly acoustic come down from the mangling your soul just took with "Camel," featuring a gorgeous melody, some nice strumming and some more astonishing Aaronson basslines. Finally, "Loose Goose," ends the affair with a jaunty, boogie woogie, instrumental, bluesy blowout. Written by Aaronson, you won't be surprised that the bass struts all over this song like a coked up pimp hunting for his ladies. Fine stuff, indeed.

Dust went on to record another solid album, 1972's Hard Attack (which we'll get to someday) before disbanding. Mark Bell's path is well chronicled, joining the Voidoids before adopting his famous last name and blasting punk to an unsuspecting generation. Aaronson's musical career was no less satisfying, remaining an in demand bass player, and Wise and Kerner went on to form a production team, responsible for such gems as The Stories and the first two Kiss albums. But this album isn't about what heights the former members of the band climbed to, it's about the birth of heavy metal. That freakish scientific experiment when gentle psychedelia and blues was transmogrified into something altogether terrifying, the snarl nosed, saliva toothed monster we all know and love.

One worth getting.


Buy here: Dust

Buy Hard Attack here: Hard Attack

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rumors Heard in MySpace, Episode 12

A year ago, Racer and I tossed around ideas of how we could pass on some music information to you that you may have missed through the course of your normal lives. We settled on this feature that you’re reading right now. In the past year, we’ve taken you all over the map and shined a spotlight in some really bizarre places, and on some really bizarre bands. This episode is no different, my friends! This month, we’re gonna’ spend a great amount of time in France. Why? Well, France seems to be hoppin’ right now with some fantastic music that you simply need to know about. I’m not completely certain on the rest of the trips itinerary. How about we just make it ups as we go along? Alrighty then. Hop aboard Air Ripple as we fly this sucker halfway across the globe. Buckle up and return your seats and trays to the upright position. Contact!

If you’ve been a loyal reader over the past six months or so, you’ve read reviews on a couple of French acts by the name of Hollow Corp. and Gojira. Following in those same massive footsteps is a band so big and mighty that in due time they’ll be casting their own footprints. The band is called Hacride and much like the aforementioned countrymen, they create sonically blistering music that is aggressive and as atom splitting as any extreme metal band. But they do what I love and change things up midway through the music. Incorporating ambient textures and subtle moments of musicality, Hacride are developing a sound that should have them standing shoulder to shoulder with their peers within a blast of beat. The new album is complete recording-wise and is scheduled to be released in Spring of 2009 on Listenable Records. From what I’ve gathered, it appears to be the second album from this outfit, so there’s material for you all to go out and investigate. Lord knows I’ll be hunting the stuff down. Swing by their page and check out the new stuff. It kicks much ass!

For you fans of the droning doom sounds of bands like Neurosis, there’s another band that will pummel your gray matter into jelly. The band is called END. and they are quite possibly the heaviest band on the face of the earth. Alright. That may be an overstatement, but if it truly is, then it’s not by much. The guitar and bass tones that these guys work with are astoundingly dense. Check out the tune “Existence Asleep” and hear the imposing sounds that I’m referring to. Devastating, huh? I can’t be certain if they’re preparing to release a new album or not, but the buzz that I’ve been hearing on MySpace is leading me to believe so. If not, then it looks like we’re all going to have to go to the store and pick up their EP, The Never Ending Whirl of Confusion.

As this trip across the French countryside begins to wind itself down, we find ourselves downshifting to the mid tempo, riff heavy doom metal of Century. My first listens to these cats reminded me of that old school heavy rock stuff like Thin Lizzy, but maybe a bit dirtier. That could be a production thing, though. “Hope Away” has that stoned out groove thing going on throughout and the guitar solo takes me back to that summer in 1980something when I listened to The Scorpions like they were the only band on the planet. “Requiem for Pain” is more up tempo than the first, but no less stoned out. If anything, it may be a bit heavier. I’m looking forward to their album to come out (there is an album coming out, right?) so that I can delve deeper into this stuff. It sounds good. It sounds honest.

Now that I’ve spent my entire French vacation rocking out, I need something that’s going to soothe me for awhile. You know . . . kinda’ recharge the batteries for the next onslaught of metal that I will inevitably feast upon. Most of you who know me know that I’m not much into pop music, but I’m not opposed to it. And if it has an edge to it, or there’s something unique to it, odds are I’ll give it a thumbs up. Enter Alex Alistair. This guy writes some beautifully melodic pop music that immediately had me bobbing my head and shaking my hips (you’ll need therapy to get that image out of your head.) Alex sings all of his songs in French, which is one of those unique aspects to pop that I bless. The other thing is this stuff has an air of danger to it. The first track on his player is an upbeat track with a groovin’ bass line, and then he changes things up by going acoustic on the next song. Throughout all of it, his voice soothes all of the stress and troubles away. The melody at the chorus for “il suffit” is astoundingly beautiful! I have no idea what he’s saying, and as I’ve said a hundred and twelve times before, it doesn’t really matter that much. It’s moving and it touches the emotions. This was a great way to wind up our journey through France. Grab a bottle of wine and let’s go check things out in Italy, shall we?

Italy doesn’t usually strike me as a Mecca for heavy metal, but I guess every culture has their angst ridden youth. Apparently, Idols Are Dead is the heavy metal ambassador for Italy and they bring an odd blend of thrash-y metal mixed with sleaze rock. Heavy, driving metalized riffs with plenty of double bass drum accents make up the majority of the music on their album, Mean. When the singer’s not throwing around profanities, he’s attacking the choruses with a great sense of melody and just enough snarl to keep one from stealing his last cookie. Once you check out their page, you’ll get a good sense of what these guys are about. There are a bunch of tracks on their player, and a few videos to help give you the visual. We were turned onto these guys by our good friends at All About the Music Publicity, who are now the acting management group for the band.

What say we head north for awhile? Right on. Our next stop on the globe trottin’ expedition is the Netherlands where we get to poke our heads in on our new found friends, Ceremony of Opposites. These extreme metallers are offering up four meaty tracks of high quality blackened death metal. Their tune, “Posttraumatic Disorder,” is a rollicking good time. Well, as much of a good time as one can have with death metal. The palm muted riffs through the mid tempo portions are pretty frickin’ awesome, and the methed out, makes you take notice. I especially like the acoustic guitar break with its Spanish flavor! I’ll be checking in with them periodically to see how things are coming with their upcoming album.

Hopping across the channel, or sea, or whatever body of water that is, we find ourselves back in our home away from home. Sweden! The land of all that is music! News coming out of the Gothenburg area is that the psychedelic sounds of First Band From Outer Space are preparing to put out a new album through Kommun 2. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details as to when it’s being released or what the title of the work is called, but there are three tracks that the band has recently posted on their page that appear to be new. I’m not so much fuzzy on the details because of any psychedelia going on. It’s more due to the information is a bit spotty. Hell . . . even if there is no new album in the works, you really oughta’ go by their page and hear their tuff. It’s freaking incredible!

Also coming out of Sweden is a reunion of sorts. Yes! Our favorite Lords of Evil are back and bringin’ a hurtin’ on anyone and everyone. Transport League is reforming for a one off gig in May featuring the Superevil era line up. As excited about this as I am, I’d be much more excited if this course of events turned into something longer lasting with a possible new album. Why? Coz’ these guys kick ass! Go listen to Superevil and then get back to me. They have that super sludge-y, stoner-ific sound that just tells ya’ that these guys mean business. Go to their page and be pummeled!

Heading back to the States, we’re going to make a short layover in Minnesota and visit with our new friends, Oceans. This prog rock outfit has just released an album called Endurance, which you can hear some snippets from on their page. The first thing that stands out for me when listening to these tracks is the bass tone is otherworldly. That’s some warm stuff! The music, in typical prog fashion, is complex and intricate. However, don’t be deterred by the prog leanings! These songs aren’t so over the top with musical virtuosity to make it impossible to listen to. These are good rock songs with a lot going on in them. Spend some time on this page. You won’t be sorry.

Finally, I’m back in SoCal and there’s news on the local front. Early last month, the old school local hardcore band Amenity got back together for a reunion gig. Well, apparently, this little get together is going to last longer than a one off gig in the middle of winter. It looks, and sounds, like the lads have made their way into the studio to lay down tracks for a new EP for a 2009 release. There’s a new song that y’all need to listen to called “Shine” and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make these guys sound more vital today than they did twenty years ago. There also some video clips for the reunion gig. For those who want to know what it felt like being a part of the San Diego hardcore scene in the late ‘80’s, the first clip of the band playing “Impel” will give you a great idea of what it was like. Merely an idea, though. To truly know what it was like, you had to be there.

That’s it . . . I’m home and hittin’ the sack. Good travelin’ with y’all! See ya’ next month! - Pope JTE

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Ripple Roadtrip - Another Musical Cornucopia

As my brethren, The Pope, said in his Insatiable Feast of Indescribable Rock and Roll post, we've been inundated at the Ripple office recently with a wide swath of music from all genres. A veritable variety of voices. While this is a beautiful thing for our very salivating ears, these many sounds don't always fit nicely into one simple post. With that in mind, for today, I wanted to bring you with me on a recent road trip, a typical day's drive, to give you a taste for life as a Rippler, squeezing myself into an old Ghia, and the sorts of sounds that accompanied me as I cruised about town.

Beehoover - Heavy Zoo

First up was this out-of-left-field, poundingly heavy, brutal display of stoner/sludge riffery, Beehoover. A duo operating out of Germany, Beehoover tire iron more massive, head pummeling riffs into this little monster than Iced Earth had on their last 10 years worth of output. Completely non-linear, tossed about with a massive dose of weirdness, Beehoover is quite unlike anything else I've heard. A statement like that always needs to be followed up with the disclaimer, this may not be for every one, but damn, if you can tolerate a little bizarreness while you beat yourself silly with a guitar hammer, give this one a try. Essentially a drum and bass duo, Beehoover expand the realm of the all mighty riff, verging into Tool-esque excursions into surreal, alt stoner prog territory previously only inhabited by the likes of Salvador Dali's melting brain. I haven't heard anyone work their bass like this in my life, pounding it out more like a detuned guitar, full of monstrous chords, than what you'd expect from the standard bass role. Really wild stuff. I've seen this album described as a "mind fuck of metal," and who am I to argue with such eloquence. If you're timid, stand clear, but if you've got an adventurous bone in your body, that really wants to see where a couple of completely weird, amazingly talented musicians can take their metal, give this horse a trot.

Buy here: Heavy Zoo

The Spring Standards - No One Will Know

After the savage punishing my ears took with the Beehoover, it was time to let things settle, let my inner ear's anvil and hammer rest a bit before the next onslaught. To that purpose, I popped in this little ditty, and boy was I glad I did. The first track on this six song EP, "Goodbye Midnight," is as good and beautiful as indy pop gets. This is a glorious moment of jangling, sparkling pop, acoustic guitars laced with perfect male and female dual vocals. With the intensely catchy chorus, this sounds like some long lost gem from Prefab Sprout. The rest of the EP goes on from there, jaunty bits of jangle indy pop, from the bouncy, sunshine pop of "In the Underground," to the slightly blues-infected "Little Bug," that comes to me like an alternative pop version of Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Much to like here. If this sort of sparkling, indy pop is your thing, jump on over to their myspace page and check them out. The songs are all there.

Age of Daze - Hollywood Ending

Ready to rock again, I slipped the debut from Age of Daze into the player. Top down on the convertible ghia, I hit the freeway as the near perfect, alt-metal pop hooks of "Afflicted," soared out of the speakers. This is guitar heavy, punch drunk alt-metal, comfortable sitting next to Three Doors Down, Puddle of Mudd, or Seether. After the acoustic intro, the riff on this track is massive, instantly catchy, but what really grabbed me was the gentle vocal interplay, the harmonies, before the big throated vocal leads took over. To me this song plays like Nickleback but with more honesty, less pretense and deliberate manufacturing. This is one big, massive song. Fortunately the rest of the disc followed suit, setting loose one big riff after another, without ever loosing site of melody, or hook. This is made ready for radio play arena rock, ready to step up with the big boys and rock the house. "Overrated," rides it's big moshpit riff all the way to the choral break. I can easily see gobs of fans headbobbing in the front row, shouting out the chorus in unison. Despite all the ferocity, however, the highlight of the disc for me is the bonus track at the end, a profoundly moving acoustic version of "Believe," the vocals reaching new heights of emotion here and a chorus hook to die for. Already nominated for a Canadian Radio Music Award to go along with their two East Coast Music Award nominations, it seems the world is already starting to tune in. If you like big, radio-friendly, hook heavy alt-metal, you won't want to be left behind. Find them now, claim them as yours before it's too late.

Buy here: Hollywood Ending

Ken Block - Drift

Needing to let my ears cool down again, Ken Block's latest solo effort, Drift, made its way next into my player. Long loved as the main voice of alt-roots rockers, Sister Hazel, Block steps out on his own here, releasing what is very much a solo album in every sense of the word. While he does have a backing band, they're of little importance as this disc is firmly rooted in the singer/songwriter tradition, emphasizing one man and his guitar. Block has always had a magnificently expressive voice, laced with an adenoidal texture, a wavering, crackling, intensely soulful instrument. He's also been blessed with an acute sense of melody, as any one who's ever heard Sister Hazel will attest. Here, he brings it all together releasing some beautiful slices of pop from his world. Gone are the rockier moments of Sister Hazel, in it's place are the quietly building acoustic of "Blue to a Blind Man," the slightly jaunty "The Other Side," and the beautifully evocative guitar and mandolin opening of my favorite tract, "Completely Wasted." Throughout, Block's voice is a fine as ever, wavering and cracking. A voice with meat on it's bones lending credibility to his tales of love lost and isolation. Interestingly, Block has also taken a page out of the Jimmy Buffet page book, creating his own world of Blockville, a place where long board surfers still rule and sit patiently by the seaside, watching the incoming breakers. Based on the loose groove of this solo album, Blockville seems like a fine place indeed.

Buy here: Drift


The Spring Standards

Age of Daze

Ken Block

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Bigelf

Anyone who's seen our Ripple Music Round-up, our views on the best heavy rock of 2008, will know how I feel about these guys. Their last album, Cheat the Gallows, was a mind-bending, senses-shattering, IQ melting extravaganza of progressive, neo-psychedelic, retro-seventies rock/pomp mayhem. You don't believe me? Check out the lists of some of the other music sites who linked up with us to share our Year's End lists. Yup, you'll find Bigelf there also. Seems the world is rapidly forming a consensus, Bigelf is for real. With that in mind, you couldn't believe how freaking amped The Pope and I were when Damon Fox, the main elf at Bigelf, stopped by our office and plopped himself down on our red leather couch. Once I was finally able to find my tongue, I had questions galore for the man.

When I was a kid, growing up in
a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard "Detroit Rock City" by Kiss was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I looked at music, what it could sound like, how it could make me feel? What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Well, when I was a kid in the 70's, I was obsessed with the song "Black Sabbath". I would put it on to scare my best friend Chad. He would say, "No man, don't play that, it's too freaky." So I hit the play button anyway, Ozzy moans, "What is this, that stands before me?" then "Oh no, no, please God help me!" Actually, I was pretty scared too. We would almost shit our pants thinking we somehow sold our soul to the Devil or something. That was the cool part though, it made you feel special. What fucking music does that to kids today? Nothing! Here's another epiphany, I'lI never forget this. I was in my teens and at Shawn Cassidy's house (don't ask) and I found copy of "Abbey Road" on vinyl. I knew the hits but had never heard "Because". I remember listening to it over and over, I couldn't believe the sound of the vocals. It was a revelation for sure. I also recall hearing "21st Century Schizoid Man" for the first time with mature ears, I completely lost it. It was as if aliens made it, talk about reformatting of the brain. Music after that was like being yanked out of The Matrix. Can you imagine how people reacted to it back in 1969, holy shit!

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?

It's random, there is no set process. Sometimes it's a title or melody, sometimes a riff or a chord progression. Song ideas can be in safekeeping or randomly living in my mind for years before I do anything about it. I've said this before but there have been many times where I sat down at the piano to finish a stubborn song and instead wrote three new ones. My songwriting style is unorthodox but natural, I try not to force it. Plus, I'm not under contract to churn out the hits. Not yet anyway.

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

I don't look for anything in particular, I just channel them and let it flow. Whenever I try to write in a certain style or with something in mind it never comes out half as good as it does when it happens on it's own. Ha, I sound like Bilbo Baggins, "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." As I write new songs, I group them into possible future albums (two currently growing) even while recording the current one. I've found that this allows the songs breath and grow on their own. Of course, if they're still incomplete come recording then I knock them out. They're kinda like little monsters that I keep and take care of until I have to unleash them on the whole world.

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

The music industry seems to keep me pretty sustained as far as subject matter, no surprises there. And when that well is running dry I look in the usual places...death, failure, pain, origins of existence, cataclysmic aftermath of nuclear holocaust. They all make for interesting art.

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

A mad carnival rife with diabolical heaviness and demonic bombast. Where epic guitars, maniacal keyboards and rhythms filled with explosive hallucinogens are performed by none other than Satan's house band. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you...The Evils Of Rock & Roll! Not bad.

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

On a serious level, hope. I hope to inspire people. Or maybe they'll feel something more chaotic like "Wonka's Wondrous Boat Ride"? As long as they feel something, that's all that matters.

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?

I don't know what's more brutal, making less money or every Joe thinking their music is relevant and releasable? Technology has clouded commonsense in some ways. Moving forward, everyone knows the future of music is live performance, which is good for us because our concerts don't suck like most do today. I believe mankind could be in the most futuristic, unthinkable state of existence like Blade Runner or something and there would still be a vital place for a live blues band, know what I mean?

Describe to us the ideal (realistic) record label and how you'd work with them, and they with you.

We're pretty close to that kind of relationship/situation with Linda Perry and Custard Records right now. Maybe a little better financial split would be nice, but that's why it's called the music business, it's not just about the music. Artistically as a band, we do precisely what we want. There's been very little input from the label so far and what has been given was helpful and needed. With "Cheat The Gallows" it's been pretty effortless though, I guess it's karma this time and we deserve it, we've been through fucking hell as a band.

Do you have a particular sound in your head that you try to bring out? Or is the creation process random and spontaneous? Or both, or neither?

I think the creation process is random and spontaneous but the sound has been dialed in since "Money Machine" and that sound is heavily theatrical. People always compare the "Bigelf" sound to a dark twisted circus, so I guess the essence of vaudeville must be in engraved in my head somewhere. Or maybe I was a sideshow freak in a past life?

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

A new Rock Band/Guitar Hero video game off-shoot called "Keyboard Wizard". Hopefully we're still a band in ten years, no, I'm joking. We're gonna be like Aerosmith in ten years, we're never gonna go away(haha).

What makes a great song?

That's a hard question. I've really pondered it and the answer is, I don't know. If I knew the answer, all of my songs would be great. Songs are just experiments, they start as ideas or feelings and the result is a song. Some songs are all about the swagger and vibe of the performance, others tilt the scale on sheer musicianship. A song can kill you lyrically or when you don't know the words sometimes it's the melody that's got it's hooks in you. Who knows? Songs are extremely subjective. They're in the eyes of the beholder to decide.

Who living right now writes great songs?

It's easy to say Paul McCartney is the greatest. Yeah like, 20 years ago. So, I'll tone it down to something more human and personal. There's something special about actual knowing someone on a personal level who's exceptional and gifted, Linda Perry is one of those people for me. She's a great songwriter, prolific and intuitive, yet simple and universal. Also, I know a young upstart named Alex Izenberg who is going to blow people's minds in the years to come. Beware of Din Caliber.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?


Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
My choice is vinyl, of course. I still have about 1,300 records. I miss the concept of the A and B side, it's hard to reminisce about the real estate album art once occupied. Gatefold vinyl? So kick ass, oh the misery. But like the rest of us mindless iPod junkies, I've succumbed to empty3's. Hey, it's convenient and easy but it's contributing to the downward spiral of music that's turning it into glutinous suck-ass product. How awesome.

What's the best record store in your town?

There's only one left worth mentioning, Amoeba Record in Hollywood. We just played a gig there, it was pretty kick ass for an in-store. Unfortunately, I have to stay away from that place, it's the only way I can pay my bills.

Thanks, Damon. I'll burn through my cash at Amoeba's with you anyday. Can't wait to hear the next album. I'll reserve a spot on my year end's best list for you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Paul Collins of the Beat joins Ripple Radio

Set your alarm clocks, program your reminders and tie a ribbon around your finger. The amazing talent of Paul Collins, formerly of the excellent, kick-in-the-balls power pop band, The Beat, will be joining Racer and The Pope on Ripple Radio to discuss The Beat, the old CBGB days, Peter Case and the Plimsouls and 30 years in music.

Tune in at (just click on that little button over to your right). Join us live in the chatroom, ask questions to the band, listen to music (theirs and others) and just in general be a part of the scene.

Showtime Wednesday, Jan 28th, 8 pm Ripple Time (pacific time to you east coast people). If you miss the show, be sure to download the free podcast. Same Ripple channel.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sounds of Winter – The Ripple Listening Guide to Winter Despair and Violence

The sky is cast in a mellow gray hue, the sun is hidden behind a massive wall of floating and rolling moisture. Flurries of snow blow past the sealed windows and ice decorates every surface, those moving and those stationary. Depression and despair have become roommates to those trapped within their abodes by these God forsaken elements. Moments of panic sweep through the otherwise rational psyche as cabin fever begins to set in. Psychotic episodes are a breath away. Darkness not only falls over the northern hemisphere, but also across the minds of those who long to catch a fleeting glimpse of the sun. Claustrophobic. Paranoid. Vitamin D deficient.

Waveriders, welcome to the Sounds of Winter report where we’ll do our damnedest to inform you of some underrated, yet most worthy companions for your time of doom and gloom. No music captures the darkest and dreariest season like extreme metal, in particular, Black and Death Metal. This report wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the continued support of our friends at Fossil Dungeon. They’ve kept us in such a massive supply of doomy, gloomy, despair leads to violence filled grooviness that there’s no way we could touch on every artist. So, I cherry picked the bands that best conveyed the emotion of bleak desolation which ultimately leads to physical destruction. Think of the systematic mental breakdown of the character Jack Torrance from The Shining and that’s what you’re gonna’ get from this set of reviews. Grab a blanket and get comfy. Judging from the weather reports, you’re not going anywhere for awhile.

Svarrthron – Bearer of the Crimson Flame

Talk about your D.I.Y. ethos! This is a two man project from Lithuania that has created a misery laden opus that would fit securely next to any of the Black Metal greats. Shifting from chaotic blast beats and sonic disruption to serene and morbidly haunting instrumental passages, these guys have captured the depressive atmosphere of winter like none other. Ambient episodes have the listener sitting back and contemplating their place in the world. These passages capture moments of serenity as the listener watches the wind blow ripples across a lake surrounded by pine trees. The sound of that very same wind blowing through the branches of the trees, an eerie howl in a land of desolation, acts as a precursor to the chaos that is lurking in the dark places of the forest. And those chaotic, walls of dissonance, are performed with the precision and gusto of seasoned professionals! Tormented and tortured, scorched vocals screech from a place that no one wants to visit. Double bass drums vibrate the snow off of the rooftops, distorted guitars proficiently cut through all that stand in the way . . . phew! Intensely performed and well conceived work!

The New Plague - Insatiable

If Svarrthron were the band to take you through the gates of hell, then The New Plague is the band that warmly greets you with a thousand and one ways to torment your soul. Featuring some outstanding guitar work, these guys break up the blast beat shenanigans with subtle, and not so subtle, elements of musical mastery. Listen out for the off time and bizarre transitions in “Diary of a Misanthrope” to hear what I’m talking about. And, it’s not just that there are time changes, but the sheer amount of them! Don’t try jogging to this tune coz’ it’ll fuck up your gait, and you just might run in front of an oncoming car. Insatiable isn’t as moody as one might expect for a Winter Report, but the fire and devastation lend itself well for this time of year. Check out the riffs at the mid-point of “Lust of the Succubus” and feel the demonic power taking you to the darkened lands. Brutal and unrelenting, uncompromising in their aggressiveness, yet surprisingly elegant in their execution and performance, The New Plague is a band to keep an ear out for.

Corpsefucking Art – Zombiefuck

Initially, I thought, “What the fuck?” But, as I sat back and listened to this gore encrusted celebration of the dead, I realized that there was something to this and it wasn’t terrible. Now, I don’t expect that Racer or anyone that he associates with on a personal or professional level will ever willingly listen to this, but I found some redeeming value to this. There’s a dark humor to a number of the songs, which I found relieving in light of some of the subject matter. For instance, the intro to “Beverly Hills Corpse” kicks off with the theme from Beverly Hills Cop, and the vocalist doing his guttural throat thing in time with the keyboards. Then there’s the follow track, “High School Musical,” where we hear a high school cheer squad calling out whatever the heck they call out before the band goes ape shit, blasting away with wall to wall riffage. Now, Zombiefuck isn’t all about the comedy. There’s a pretty decent amount of quality musicianship lurking beneath the grotesque lyrical imagery. The bassist does a nice job of layering odd time grooves within the chaos of the blast beats and squealing guitar lines. All in all though, this is a devastating platter of sound and should be listened to with caution.

Gomorah – By the Means of Violence

They had me with the intro. A nice classy synth and piano number performed over the hail of gun fire and violence entitled “Cadence to the Onslaught” that explodes into an in-your-face hardcore fused Death Metal epic. Great musicianship, intense performances, multi-layered agro vocals . . . “Battle of the Gods” is a great introduction to band that demands that you listen to them. These guys have less in common with the typical Death Metal bands like Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel than with the more hardcore elements out there. I guess some would call them metal-core, and really . . . what’s in a genre? Just know that these guys are worthy opponents for any of your feats of strength, yet just classy enough to swoon the ladies. Just listen to the guitar work on “Dawn of a Dead Age” and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. The only way this album could be better is if it were longer. Seven songs and clocking in at just a hair over twenty minutes? Before I leave you on this one, you gotta’ hear the beat down on “Sacrilege.” Yes . . . your words were marked and the words were good.

Criminal Element – Guilty As Charged

From the first moment I heard this album, I knew that I was in for an intense ride where all I wanted to do is break shit. Featuring members of Suffocation, Dying Fetus, and Misery Index, Criminal Element have that experience of being able to bring the hurt, and in a big way. Uber fast, up tempo speed passages mix effortlessly with mid tempo thrash grooves, providing variety and dynamics to keep it all from being a twelve song homogenized ball of beat down. This is as aggressive an album as I’ve heard in a long time, but one that offers that ever so faint hint of class. The vocals are gruff and edgy, laden with Death Metal growls and hardcore barks, the guitars have that crisp and brutal tone without ever getting muddy, and the drums . . . a flurry of body blows. Dear God . . . I feel my kidney failing as I type. All of the tunes keep in theme with the band name, involving crimes of one sort or another. Though all songs will kick your ass from here to oblivion, key tracks are “Snitch Bitch Homicide,” “Murder One” (intense breakdown!), and “Habitual Offender.” We need to get these guys to open for Lamb of God or Devildriver and watch them convert a few hundred thousand metalheads! - Pope JTE

The New Plague


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ripple Theater - The Who At Kilburn 1977

For some reason, we don't seem to get a ton of music DVD's here at the Ripple Office, but when they do come in, Pope and I salivate like Pavolian dogs. Within moments, the popcorn is popping, the lights are dimming and we're sitting back in front of our office theater, feet kicked up and waiting in anticipation.

And on this particular day, we were not disappointed.

Long sought after by archivists and The Who completeists, At Kilborn 1977 finds The Who reunited on stage for the first time after more than a year to film a concert for The Kids Are Alright movie, and man, is it ever a treat. Most of the footage was re-shot for the final version of the film, but what we have here is a holy grail of Who, a fiery, ferocious, tear-em-up affair. After a slightly tentative, mildly sloppy beginning with "Can't Explain," the boys quickly find their groove, simply tearing through one masterpiece after another. Everything you love about The Who is here, from Pete Townshend's windmilling guitar antics, to the raging fingers of the Ox, to the microphone flailing, chest-bearing vocals of Roger Daltrey, and the mind-blowing drum histrionics of Keith Moon. Launching through "Baba O'Reily," or "Substitute," it doesn't matter all the songs that you love are here.

Check out the charging version of "My Wife," with the Ox on vocals, proving to be no second-rate singer, or the beautifully done version of "Behind Blue Eyes." By this time in the show, the boys were all on the same mental frequency, communicating with music telepathy. Keith Moon, in one of his final ever performances still brings a mind-blowing dexterity to his drumming, even as his condition was rapidly fading. But perhaps, the greatest highlight of all is the pre-LP version of "Who Are You," which simply rocks much harder, with a looser feeling than the studio versions.

I'm no Who expert, but I'll tell you, as a fan (and for any fan) this concert is a golden, near-revelatory moment.

But the fun doesn't end there. As a bonus, the two-DVD set includes some beautifully raw archival footage from The Coliseum show in 1969 as The Who was touring Tommy. Despite the grainy, often off-lit video footage, the music is stunning. My son and I dropped out jaws open in amazement as Keith Moon launched drumming into the stratosphere on "Young Man Blues." Throughout, the guitars were fierce, the bass maniacal and Daltrey's voice solid. A definite, can't miss show.

Together, these are two discs that no Who fan, or fan of classic rock for that matter, should be without. A proper and due homage to one of the great bands of all time.


By here DVD: The Who At Kilburn: 1977

Buy here Blu-ray: The Who At Kilburn: 1977 [Blu-ray]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday's Zen - Frank Turner


Critically acclaimed by the likes of Kerrang! they may have been, but Million Dead’s decidedly shouty brand of punk rock was just that bit too noisome for their efforts to ever fully penetrate Winston’s playlists.

After the bands demise in 2005 however, frontman Frank Turner concentrated on solo efforts that had already been earning him rave reviews before the split. Turning his back on the sound that he credits on Back In The Day with saving his life, he restyled himself as a folk rock troubadour, wrestling the genre back from the grip of monochrome careerists with a couple of brilliant EP’s and last years Xfm New Music Award nominated album Sleep Is For The Week.

New single Photosynthesis is the first to be taken from Frank’s second full length solo album, Love, Ire & Song, and paints a pretty clear picture of an artist at the top of the song-writing game. The jaunty jig of a tune, and uplifting chorus

“I won’t sit down,
and I won’t shut up,
and most of all I will not grow up”

are as life affirming as Turner's lyrics are inspiring. The single's peg line may well serve as a wake up call to many listeners, whilst bring a smug smile to the lips of others

“If all you ever do with your life,
is just photosynthesise,
then you deserve every hour of those sleepless nights,
that you waste wondering when
you’re gonna die"

And if that’s not enough to convince you this track needs to be bought, the video below, filmed with a whole class of schoolchildren as extra's should sway anyone with a heart made of a carbon based material. Press play.

Something akin to a less political (therefore more contemporary and relevant) Billy Bragg, Frank Turner is fast becoming my new hero, and singles as good as this one will do nothing to dissuade me. Frank by name, Frank by nature, this is music with soul and feeling and with a message that might just change your life!

Frank Turner’s new album Love, Song & Ire is out now, and Frank is touring extensively and playing the major (and some not so major) festivals right through the summer. Catch him if you can.

Back Soon,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blasted to Submission – The Heavy Artillery Report

One of the great things that we’ve noticed since Racer and I started this Ripple Effect beast is that there are a bunch of people out there who love music. Not just to the point that they listen to it at work and tap their toes to the rhythm. No . . . I’m talking, really love the stuff to the point that they risk all for the love of it! I’m talking about the guys and gals who pony up the money to record, promote, and distribute some of the finest music that you’re not listening to. Record labels like Indie Recordings, Transubstans, Prosthetic, Small Stone, Pulversized, and now . . . Heavy Artillery. These guys have made that old school metal sound their bread and butter, and having grown up listening to the original waves of the stuff, I can appreciate the stellar effort that these guys have put forth. I mean, hell . . . there are so many times that I sit back and think back to the days when I wore my denim jacket with the Slayer back patch on it. It takes me back to when music was the most important thing in the world. I don’t know how y’all keep finding such great music, but keep doin’ what you’re doin’!

Merciless Death – Realm of Terror

Now, I’m not going to proclaim that all of these albums are the best things you’ll ever wrap your ears around. However, I will say that the energy and passion that Merciless Death put into their music is greater than that which I’ve heard from some of the stalwarts of the industry. These guys come at you with all of the fire and brimstone that the dark and shady places can muster, and all with a slightly under produced vibe. Those rough edges are a good thing. It shows that this band is real and the fun that these young musicians are having shines through the muddied mixes. A slickly produced album wouldn’t come across with the same urgency or intensity, and would be more of a hinderence than a benefit. Realm of Terror captures the classic thrashy doom sounds of bands such as Celtic Frost or Possessed. Heavy and doomy, intensely fast with well timed down shifts, this California based trio bring seem to save their finest moments for the end of the album with tracks like "Tormented Fate" and "Summoning of the Ancient Ones."

"Tormented Fate" is a speed freak with the vocalist channeling his inner Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost). For the better part of the tune, we’re being assailed with a up tempo beast. Then suddenly, as if these guys were driving a car and decided to drop the sucker into second gear for more power around a corner, the tempo drops into this mid range thrasher. What should have been a wreck on the other side of the corner turns out be this white knuckle, butt clenching, weaving ride to oblivion. "Summoning the Ancient Ones" will not only get the head bobbing, but the entire body. Opening with a groove riff and then bursting into a massive riff filled speed flurry, the tune captures the lads at, possibly, their finest. After riding the swell of speed, the band returns to the thrashy mid tempo opening riff to close out the tune. Keep an ear tuned into the drums and how they keep tempo through this complex number.

Uncompromising comes to mind when trying to describe this music, at least in attitude alone. Man, this takes me back to the ‘80’s when Morbid Tales, Seven Churches, and Hell Awaits were creating so much underground havoc. I don’t take all the doom and gloom too seriously, but there is something there in that these guys are more than happy to show that things are far from being rosy. Good stuff!

buy here: Realm of Terror

Avenger of Blood – Death Brigade

Avenger of Blood, though hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, has embraced the distinct German thrash sounds of bands like Kreator and Destruction. Full on speed passages that are broken up by jarring tempo changes, growled out shouts of dissatisfaction with the status quo, and nifty guitar work through the solos set these guys apart from the rest of the bunch. Looking at the album art and liner photos, I can’t help but get the sense that I’ve been here before. This stuff takes me back to my high school days when I weighed all of a buck twenty and I, too, cut the sleeves off of my t-shirts to make sure I had that oh-so-special look. Leather pants, bullet belts, and arm spikes finish the ensemble, and amazingly, I’m buying into this bands look. Why? Because the music is full of real time aggression and attitude. Sure it’s all in fitting in with the scene, but it’s done with the right amount of honesty, integrity, and passion that I just can’t help myself.

"Death Brigade" is an awesome thrash happy track that inevitably will have the kids running amok in counter clockwise fashion. Kicking off like a steam driven freight train, rumbling down the tracks with the massive double bass drums acting as the pistons to this iron horse. Bellowing clouds of darkened death spew from the speakers until we’re pummeled to submission with a great mosh happy riff. I especially like the drum work through the break as the parts aren’t overplayed and add texture to an already multi-layered riff. "Bloodseeker" is more of a mid tempo, palm muted piece, breaking into a full sprint through the choruses. Like all of the songs on Death Brigade, this one features some outstanding guitar work at the solos.

It’s not so much that the riffs on this album are all that complicated, it’s just that they’re well timed in the placement of the songs. Avenger of Blood create a proper amount of tension with the speedy parts that simply explode with fury once the mid tempo riffs drop in. These guys have done a marvelous job of learning the tempo shifting techniques of those who came before them, and have added their own deathly sick sound to the whole thing. I’m encouraged for the future!

buy here: Death Brigade

Exmortus – In Hatreds Flames

Rising from the urban sprawl of Whittier, California, Exmortus give us a snapshot of the youthful angst in the metal world. Uber-aggressive death tinged thrash is what you’re gonna’ find on In Hatreds Flames. What sets these guys apart from their Heavy Artillery peers is the somewhat neo-classical approach to guitar solos. Laden down with sweeps and the guitarists hanging on for dear life to their whammy bars, the guitar solos remind me of early Yngwie, just without the pomp. In fact, when The Red Neck Wookie stopped in the Ripple offices, he heard these guys and said, "These guys must like tuning their guitars," in reference to the whammy-rific action going on. Little did he know that Exmortus are made up of supernatural young men who weave a mystical spell over their gear and, therefore, never need to worry about such trivialities.

Though In Hatreds Flames isn’t the most varied metal album in the world, the band does show enough versatility to keep things from getting boring. "War Gods" is a speedy freak out that’s broken up with some serious mid tempo riffing."Valor and Might" opens with a tendon tearing bass riff rather than a full on, in-your-face slugfest. The bass acts as a kind of left jab to the big meaty right hook of the guitars. "Onslaught" is a hyper heavy agro tune that blasts the skin off of your face, but done with the precision of a demolition expert. "Wrath of Vengeance" is a frantic, chaotic wall of dissonance just to show that these guys can be unconditionally brutal.

Metal seemed to crawl back to the underground for a while, and it’s still creeping around down there, it also seems to be growing into some omnipresent cellar dweller. Disenchanted youth are picking up the instruments once again and hammering out their angst in the form of some fine music. Fists in the air, boys . . . you’re doing a mighty fine job and us semi-crippled, ex-moshers salute you! - Pope JTE

buy here: In Hatred's Flame

Merciless Death

Avenger of Blood


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