Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Ripple Albums of 2009

As the year draws to an end, as we're naturally prone to do, it's time to come up with our views on the albums that left the greatest impressions on our psyches. And just like last year, we're thrilled to be joining an ever-growing, impressive collection of like-minded music writers, who've all banded together to share their thoughts.

At the end of this post, please check out the links to these other great sites and see their thoughts. Argue with us, agree with us, it's all intended to stimulate conversation.

As for our list . . . well, it's a bit different this year. First of all, we cover more than metal at the Ripple Effect, so only creating a Top 10 List of our favorite Heavy Albums seemed a bit too limiting. Also, with Woody writing for us all year, he plunged on into the heavy stuff, so Racer spent a little more time in other territories. With all that said, below we hope you'll find an eclectic collection of what passed through the Ripple this year and what we just couldn't forget.

Woody's List

The Accüsed - The Curse of Martha Splatterhead
Dozer – Beyond Colossal
Firebird – Grand Union
Kylesa – Static Tensions
Mastodon – Crack The Skye
Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire
Slayer – World Painted Blood
Stone Axe – S/T
The Stooges – Live 1971, You Want My Action
Sun Gods In Exile - Black Light, White Lines

Pope's List

1. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
2. The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky
3. Sarkh – Vorunah
4. 1349 – Revelations of the Black Flame
5. A Backward Glance on a Travel Road – S/T (free download)
6. Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire
7. Tripdavon – Sketches From Silence
8. Hacride – Lazarus
9. We Insist! – The Babel Inside Was Terrible
10.Katatonia – Night is the New Day

Racer's List

Kamchatka - Volume III
Mammut -Karkari
Stone Axe - S/T
Oak is for Keeping - Animal Style
Black Bone Child - S/T
Robbers - Flesh E.P.
Rammstein - Leibe Ist Fur Alle Da
The Estranged - Singles
Grand Atlantic - How We Survive
Amadou and Miriam - The Magic Couple

*** Honorable Mention ***

Mountain Mirrors – the Immortal Deadbeats EP
Old Californio- Westering Again

Best Reissues

Siena Root - A New Day Dawning
Poobah - Steamroller
AC/DC - Backtracks
Sly & The Family Stone - The Woodstock Experience
Johnny Winter - The Woodstock Experience
James Brown - Live At The Garden
Motorhead - No Sleep Til Hammersmith
Santana - The Woodstock Experience
David Bowie -
Space Oddity (40th Anniversary Edition)

Don't forget to check out these sites and their Top 10 list of 2009
All Metal Resource --
Hair Metal Mansion --
Hard Rock Hideout --
Heavy Metal Addiction --
Heavy Metal Time Machine --
Metal Excess --

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Extended Play Tuesday: The French Collective

For several months, hell . . . let’s just call it a year or so, we’ve been moving a lot of dirt around to uncover an entire ecosystem of musicians plying their trade and creating a sound that’s unlike any we’ve heard from around the world. I guess, technically, the world focus hit France with the discovery of Gojira, but the world media seems to only be paying attention to that which is creeping its way to the surface. For The Ripple Effect, our attention was grasped by two deformed, dirt encrusted, rotting hands in the form of Hollow Corp. It was with that discovery of Cloister of Radiance that we grabbed every digging device that we could wrap our own deformed and dirt encrusted hands upon, and began turning over the French countryside soil to discover even more incredibly dense and uniquely brilliant musical gems. Some were hand delivered by like minded soil movers, others made their way out of the darkened catacombs with their wee little mole eyes squinting in the harsh light of the sun, while others we found by unexpectedly poking them in the stomachs with the tips of our spades. In all, this French Collective of musically minded patrons of the sonic arts has stamped their own individual imprint onto the face of the French music scene. Though, some may not be as popular as others, they all have contributed a massive amount of emotion and creativity to this sect of the French culture.

Today, we have three bands, all hailing from France, and all providing their own unique touch to the music that they create. Put them all together and you get a glimpse of what this burgeoning music scene is like. Ripe with creative sounds, ambient textures, grinding low end, buzz saw aggression, and tormented vocals, the music covers a wide spectrum of emotion and artful expression.

Abysse – Le vide est forme EP

Deuces are wild on this EP from French underground ambient metallers, Abysse, as Le vide est forme clocks in at near twenty-two minutes and is only two songs long. Somewhat Opeth-ian in sound due to the fantastic transitions that they incorporate into the songs, shifting from melodically ambient passages to heavy detuned riffs then hopping over to another dimension of riff happy heaven, there is no question that these guys have the ability to transport the listener to completely foreign lands, and some that are not of this world. And here’s the wrinkle in the fabric of this tapestry of sound. There are no vocals. Much like I felt way back when I reviewed East of the Wall’s Farmer’s Almanac album, with so much going on in the music, sometimes taking out a seemingly important quality such as vocals is the best thing for the music as a whole. Quite honestly, Abysse say so much with the music that the human voice is unimportant in expressing any further ideas or emotions.

“Deviance” is a sprawling, epic, majestic piece of sound that is simply an amazing experience to listen to. High quality musicianship powers the song along the more melodic portions, such as the opening Middle Eastern influenced portion and then the heavy tom slamming break near the eight minute mark. I particularly love this latter portion as the guitars execute some beautiful hammer-on’s while the drummer is getting all tribal on our collective asses. This portion is a great mixture of primal aggression and delicate musicianship, and shows the layers of this bands understanding of dynamics. As the song progresses even further, the dual guitars sharing harmonies and weaving the melodies through the heavy rhythms are simply ear candy. The conclusion of the track is orgasmic. All the tension that’s been building up over the course of the last ten minutes finally erupts, the toes curl, and Abysse leaves the listener in a mild state of confusion, breathless, and coated in goo. The least they could have done was bought me dinner first, but I’ll forgive this slight transgression coz’ it was good for me. I hope it’s equally as good for you.

The March – Dead Ends and Blind Spots

Five songs long, yet still clocking in at just about thirty minutes, this one is damn near LP length, but since it’s only five songs, I’ll go ahead and lump it in with the EP’s. The March are more of that kind of band that we found while digging in the rich and loamy soil of the French countryside opposed to the more refined and elegant bands. Dead Ends and Blind Spots is brutally heavy, detuned, distorted, and aggressive from here to eternity. Though there are some great moments of ambient flair and atmospheric beauty, this band is ghastly and oppressive. Listening to these guys while the sky is coated gray (or blood red) is the optimum way to hear them. Foreboding might be the best single word to describe the emotions behind their sound, because while you sit back and listen to this disc, you have to be overcome with the sense that something bad is about to happen. There’s a little edge of punk in their sound, namely in the aggressive manner of the emotional conveyance, but the overall sound is taking up residence in the metal spectrum.

Dead Ends and Blind Spots weaves back forth between metal and punk with effortless grace. “Find Some Rest” flitters in the arena of death metal ambience, clean toned guitars leading the song down a dark tunnel of despair, the drums echo off the walls in time with our rapidly rising heart beat, and then, nestled deep in the dismal and damp confines of this catacomb, the beast awaits. Vocals that vomit fear assail the senses and a din of heavily distorted and detuned guitars pummel the body into submission. And, just as terrifying a journey as this song has become, the ending is as delicately beautiful as it gets as the clean toned guitars return and carry our beaten and battered forms to a holier place. “Ancient Seed” is laced with a violent punk vibe. The chord progressions at the chorus, in particular, give this song a punk-y edge, but there’s so much attention to musicality that this becomes more of a progressive piece, some might even say post-punk. I think it has a nice level of complexity, mixing in great artistic elements of metal with a disenchanted punk rock attitude. In fact, the whole EP has great elements like this breaking out throughout its length. The nine minute disc closer, “A Last Breath” is a chaotic gem filled with high levels of musical proficiency and raw emotion, a burly piece of music that reminds me of the dark sonic qualities of countrymen, Eryn Non Dae., but with a bit more diversity and air for the music to breathe.

Mindslaved – T(h)ree

Also clocking in at a half hour, T(h)ree from the experimentalist ambient metal outfit, Mindslaved, is a sprawling masterpiece of raw emotion set to sound. And, it’s the kind of work that gets better and better with every subsequent listen. Layered miles deep, the sounds that encompass this work are majestic and the way these guys use textures to enhance the brutality of the metal is on par with the masters of the genre. T(h)ree is not a disc that benefits from passive listening. This is a work that needs your full, undivided attention because there is so much happening that to half listen to it, the full breadth of the music will inevitably get lost. As I sit back and listen to this EP, I can’t help but think of Hypno5e, maybe a little bit of Hacride, but more importantly, I hear a group of musicians who hear and create music in their own individualistic way. Odd time changes, incorporating clean tones with distorted ones, shrieking vocals that emote huge waves of passion and agony, in all . . . a turbulent expression of pain. It’s beautiful!

“Ischiopagus” is an amazing lesson is musicianship. Starting off as heavy as anything else out there, Mindslaved guide the song in a direction that I never saw coming. By working in a fantastic melody through the body of the distorted frenzy, these guys are showing this great contrast of heavy and light, and it all sounds so natural and effortless. Then, to make the ears perk up and the heartbeat increase, the rhythms kick in with an off time pattern that can sound jarring, but in its own way is as natural as being aboard a ship during a roiling sea. The riff kicking in near the 2:30 mark is simply brilliant. Tight hammer-on’s propel the riff while the rhythm section practically performs a piece that has no place in reality. And then, the chaos just vanishes and we’re left to listen to a gorgeous acoustic guitar that acts as a ray of sunshine in the middle of the storm. Truly a stunning piece! Following “Ischiopagus,” Mindslaved treat us to a beastly number in “Seek For Yourself.” Raging in off time rhythms, the band find a way of working compelling melodies to lighten the piece, but at the same time, creates a sense of tension and anticipation that something nasty is going to appear in our midst. These guys also do a great job of mixing in subtle nuances into their sound such as the second bellowing vocal on this track. Listen out for how these guys shift sounds from the right speaker to the left, and then back again. It’s a subtle effect, but the type of production trickery that keeps the ears listening for something new around each and every corner. The entire EP is littering with technically mind blowing approaches that will have you hitting rewind so that you can ensure that you heard what you thought you just heard.

 - Pope JTE

Monday, December 28, 2009

Liquor Boxx – To The Face

Liquor Boxx wants you to think that you’ve walked into the Whiskey on a night that Motley Crue wasn’t playing. Without a headliner that night, Liquor Boxx is the badass band that you’ve never heard of, that makes you put down your beer when all you really want to do is be drinking, and makes you want to go over to the stage to check out the snakey guitar lines that the guy is playing.

Opening track "Ask Me to Stop" lays it out in low-fi sound: Kevin Mace digging into the vocals, voice track dry and direct without a lot of sweetening, Johnny Stoneking’s powerhouse drumming coming trhough loud and clear despite being buried in the mix. The band throws in little things that will show up later on the CD that tell you these guys are a little more practiced, a little more talented than your average bar band.

"Cheap Sex n Vodka" starts with a guitar riff that sounds as dirty as a dying smoker’s final rattle but once Stoneking’s drums come in, the guitar and drums roll together like a freight train, with the buried Martin Farrelly’s bass keeping the song moving along at a furious pace. Mace is singing about “drugstore cowboys and superstars” and the song has a bootleg vibe and a nice whammy bar infected solo with some nice chops to it.

"Tomorrow" betrays Creedon’s love for Jimi and Stevie Ray with a blues tinged fingerpicking that can’t help but echo a time when the guitar was the master instrument of rock and roll, the guitar and the men who played them. It’s a beautiful piece, with Mace’s best singing on the album. "Mr Midnight" comes from the same space: delicate playing on the strat and keeping the rest of the band on the back burner til the ride up to the chorus. "Rock Your Soul" on the other hand could be a high speed outtake from The Experience with Stoneking’s drums echoing Mitch Mitchell more than Tommy Lee and Creedon’s guitar flying through a bluesy riff with some tasty fills along the way.

"Evil Girl" could be an outtake from Morphine with the bass and drums opening, but then Creedon’s strat makes its presence known with a snake-like laid back riff. The band makes good use of both double time and half time to build up the menace of the song, never losing the bluesy foundation. If this is an "Evil Girl," she’s likely to be the kind that Mace not only can’t give up, but he’s going to keep chasing .

Coming in up tempo and wearing it’s burlesque on it’s naked sleeve is "Numb Your Eyes," clearly the most fun on the CD. Somehow the grungy LIQUOR BOXX has the chops to not only wander into the lounge but pull off a rockabilly beat at high tempo. Then they’re smart enough and talented enough to break it down two minutes into the song to bass and drums and percussion and build the whole leaning tower of jumpin’ jive back up to full speed. How many wedding must these guys have played at the day job to get these chops?

"Up n Down Me" makes a good closer, taking one of Creedon’s riffs but instead of riding it, the find some space in the back beat and the band sits in the pocket, finally giving Farrelly’s bass some space in the mix. Creedon’s guitar after the chorus is a great exercise in keeping his fingers going at a scary pace and during the solo takes him to classic rock nirvana exercising some great chops along the way. Anyone who has played will recognize how sweet it is for him to back the distortion off and get a great ringing tone to counterpoint the edge and echo on the solo. You'll think that you really can smell the cheap beer and the old cigarettes in the background. hell, this should make you think about picking up a pool cue as well.

--Rock Iguana

Buy here: Liquor Boxx

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Cellarscape

Power. Drama. Tension. Beauty. These are words that come to mind when you hear Cellarscape's panoramic, cinematic soundscape of an album, Animation, Suspension. Just check out our review and you'll see where we were coming from. But it wasn't until we had a chance to have the one-man band that is Cellarscape, Paul Terry, come join us on the Ripple red interview couch, that it all made sense. Just check out his "holy trinity" of favorite songwriters and you'll get a feeling why his music sounds like none other.

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 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 epiphanies 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?

From the age of about seven to my early teens it was a pretty solid mix of Queen, ELO and Run DMC. I think, aside from the obvious Queen classics, songs like ‘I Want It All’ off The Miracle album are still astounding today. Queen – just like ELO – for me, never repeated a song once: every song they wrote had its own unique signature, and every one sounds timeless. On the Run DMC front, I bought Raising Hell for my older brother for Christmas the year it came out, and we both didn’t stop playing it for months. The precision of the dual vocals/rapping, the deck work, the live instruments – it was just incredible. ‘It’s Tricky’ is still one of my favourite songs, and I can pretty much rap along to every word off ‘Raising Hell’ even today if I’m driving somewhere and have it blasting out.

Beyond those early years, there have been quite a few more epiphanies. The first time I heard ‘Davidian’ by MachineHead, it was jaw-dropping. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. It was crushing, but it had such a groove too. Me and my long-time bass player mate Nik have pretty much been to every London gig they’ve played to date. For me, they’re the most important metal band since the 90s and are responsible for countless other metal bands’ sounds.
Then I have to mention ‘SYL’ by Strapping Young Lad. All hail this late night U.K. rock show called Noisy Mothers – it got us into so many amazing bands. Devin Townsend (the genius behind Strapping), again, changed the rules with ‘SYL’: there was nothing like it, and never has been since. From the Strapping records to all of Devin’s solo projects, Devin is an incredibly inspiring musician.

‘Winter’ by Tori Amos is another memorable moment: it’s a song that put a big smile on my face when I first heard it, but it breaks your heart at the same time – it’s such a tiny, intimate, fragile song. And the wonder of Tori is that every time I’ve seen her play it live, she plays it with the same passion as conviction as though she’d just written it earlier that day.

And most recently (well, 10 years ago), it’s two very different bands from Scotland. The first time I saw Aereogramme was at the Reading Festival before they’d released anything. Their cinematic quality, Craig B’s pure-then-Satanic vocals, it was a revelation. The band may not be together anymore, but the past decade of material they created is astounding. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t out at least one Aereogramme song on.

And finally, I have to mention a certain song called ‘27’ by Biffy Clyro. After hearing the riffs, the huge chorus, the musicianship in that song, I grabbed the Blackened Sky album, and then that was it. I have probably listened to Blackened Sky a thousand times, and I never get sick of it. Every Biffy album that followed was different, and just as amazing, but in completely different ways. And their new album is astounding.

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?

I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say this, but there’s never a pattern/formula. Some days, or songs, it’s all about a riff that breeds more riffs/breaks that dictate where things go. Sometimes it’s the rhythm of words, or their phonetics – I get really obsessed with lyrics. Or sometimes it’s a tempo or an atmosphere that becomes the core thing that everything else ends up relating back to. But that unpredictability is exciting.

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

I think beyond music and musicians whose ideas and bodies of work are inspiring, filmmakers/writers, etc as inspiring too. I love a lot of Korean filmmakers. Kim Ji-woon makes incredible films. And Chuck Palahniuk and Mark Z. Danielewski’s novels have always inspired a lot of what I write. There’s a project that I’ve written a lot of darker, heavier music for called Ash Tree Lane (named after a road in Danielewski’s House Of Leaves) that I’ve been desperate to record properly and release, but with the Cellarscape plan and the film music projects there’s never been a window… even though there are ATL tracks that are 7 years old now! But in October 2010 I’m hoping to put out an EP of ATL songs, on the same day as a new Cellarscape EP – so the contrast should be fun. Overall, I guess contradictions have always inspired me the most: extreme metal & piano solos, horror films and love stories – it’s all good stuff.

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

I guess that’s another cliché that all bands find it hard to describe their sound in words, and I’m definitely in agreement with that. Even though there are a lot of acoustic guitars on the Cellarscape records, I’m always loathed to say, “It’s kinda acousticy” as I think it’s not the most important ingredient. I guess I hope people might feel it has a cinematic quality, and I hope overall that it’s an emotional experience.

Your music is such a dichotomy of moods, textures of light and shadow? What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I always wanted the Cellarscape project to unite my loves of loud and gentle music. So, although you’ll hear fragile acoustics a times, you’ll also hear big, intense tones/drums too. I’ve never understood people that say metal is “just angry noise”. It’s emotive. And although Cellarscape is in no way metal, the songs have, and always will be, hugely influenced by metal artists. And so in that respect, when the song calls for it, I like to try and bring a certain intensity to the music. And with acoustic guitars forming, if you like, the ‘spine’ of a song from which everything else hangs off of, that’s part of the challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love distortion pedals – and there are some distorted guitars on the new album – but I wanted to see what a song would feel like if the distortion is kept to a minimal, and the vocal harmonies, the drums, strings, and the playing style of the acoustics had to carry/bring the darker emotion to the surface.

As far as what I want the listeners to feel? I never want to write something with an “I’d love people to react in so-and-so way” agenda. I’m the biggest critic of everything I write: if I hate it, it’s never getting recorded/performed. But when something comes together that I’m feeling is working – be it a positive, ‘up’ song, or a darker, more ominous track – then I’ll stick with an idea until it feels finished. Essentially, the gauge is always emotional: could this sequence/riff/melody/lyric start to do the ‘hairs on back of neck’ thing? And then hopefully, if someone listens to it and connects with the emotion of the song, then that’s a very cool thing. But I think everyone unwittingly brings something of themselves to every song they listen to as well. When I think about ‘Street Spirit’ by Radiohead, I’ve no idea what Thom Yorke’s intentions were for me to feel, but I think it’s a very powerful song, and the interpretation I have attached to it makes it into something very personal.

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

The emotional core/story of the song definitely guides where things go. I’ve a massive love for angular arrangements/structures/time changes – the bands I’ve all name-checked definitely have that in common. But it has to suit the song. If it’s forced, it starts to sound really… well, forced. But it’s weird, a song like ‘You Got The Girl’ – which does kinda go all over the place – came together so quickly, in just a few days. Whereas some of the more ‘normally’ structured songs like ‘Patience & Zara’ and ‘Crawlspace’ took a lot longer until they felt completed.

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?

However much there are limitations, especially financially, with doing things this way/the independent way – I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that I only have myself to blame if something doesn’t work! But, I always think of this song I scribbled some lyrics for years back that Nik reminds me of sometimes called ‘Tortoise Versus…’ I guess that’s it. I’m very content being a tortoise in the race: steady as she goes. I’m happy to gradually get the Cellarscape records out there, the independent film soundtracks and other future projects, and just see what happens. I really love music in every respect – listening to it, jamming it, writing it, so there are really only two options: do it this way and see what happens, or just don’t do it. And the second one isn’t an option. Now, what I just said doesn’t make any sense really… but hopefully you get what I mean!

No one has been in this business for long without creating a couple Spinal Tap moments. Care to share one or two?

The classic: kick the pedal to check tuning after a song, and then rip into the next song’s big opening riff… but with the pedal not disengaged, so a weedy, tiny sound “belted” out of the PA system? Done that a few times! Even after I’d replaced the crappy tuner for a decent one. My favourite gaff of them all though is probably back in my school band days. I was drumming in this band with my mates called Bloated and we were doing a cover of ‘More Human Than Human’ by White Zombie, to close the set. I was a bit drunk, and was enjoying playing it a bit too much that my concentration dropped… I went for a big fill round the toms… slice my knuckles on the edge of the metal drum rims… dropped a stick, and had to finish the song’s last few bars with just one stick. I like to think I ended it just how the record does – really tight with a grab on the final cymbal, but the
reality is, I think I sucked big time.

What makes a great song?

Ahh, the never-ending debate about subjectivity! Say, for example, at a Stag party that, in your opinion, you said that you preferred Queen’s songs to The Beatles’? You’d better be ready to sprint for your life…! So, as lame as it sounds, I think that a ‘great’ song is one that moves you: if a song that someone wrote makes you feel something that you get something out of – happiness, love, sadness, reflection – then that’s a pretty amazing thing for a collection of sounds to do that. There are a lot of songs that I absolutely hate, by bands that I think suck – but these are bands adored by millions of people – so if what they do stirs emotions in others, then that’s cool. I’ll just be in the minority who’ll remain completely baffled as to what the Hell the masses see in such awful songs…

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

Aside from the stuff co-wrote in my school band, the first song I ever wrote on my own was called ‘Your Dawn’ back in 1997. It was a gentle, swinging kinda riff that I really loved, but the lyrics never quite worked, and I sort of left it alone. So the first proper/complete song would be ‘Just One Thing’. It’s a really up-beat pop-rock song that I ended up recording on the Isla’s Milk record back in 1999/2000. I still like the song, but it’s maybe a bit twee in places now, but it invokes loads of great memories of playing the acoustic cafes in Portsmouth where I was at Uni. But that ‘Your Dawn’ riff re-surfaced in my head in 2001 for a short film soundtrack I was writing (for the Paul Williams film ‘Mightier’), and the scene in the film inspired/finished where it needed to go, and it became this piece called ‘Simplified Me’, which I was really pleased with.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

There are two songs that spring to mind that I really pleased with, mainly because I remember feeling really excited about how they were coming together during the recording stages. ‘Repeat, Erase, Unite’ is a very minimal song off the Copilot EP back in 2006. I think it became massively responsible for what I wanted to do with vocal harmonies, and I think the whole mood of the song definitely dictated where the Cellarscape sound has gone. And ‘Treading Water’ on the new album pretty much sums up what I was saying earlier about a dark/intense emotion coming from acoustic guitars. ‘Treading Water’ evolved into this thing that really pounds along, but still has, at its core, a very personal, intimate vibe.

Who today, writes great songs? Why?

My holy trinity: Devin Townsend, Tori Amos, and Biffy Clyro. I do listen to other bands, promise. A lot of other bands. Imogen Heap has been writing incredible songs since ‘Getting Scared’ came out. She’s one of a kind for sure. PJ Harvey rules because she is all about the emotions. Chris Cornell is a poet and has one of the most incredible voices ever. Gemma Hayes and Lisa Hannigan are two very different Irish singer-songwriters who I admire very much. Gemma writes very powerful, swirly songs that really connect with you, and Lisa’s music has a tiny, almost music-box quality, and it’s so beautiful. And Mike Patton is a law unto himself – and thank goodness he is! All of his solo projects are incredibly inspiring, however difficult some can be on first listen. And I have a big love for Sevendust. Their songs have such power and fantastic rhythms.

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

Tricky question, because I think all three have value. I love vinyl’s sound, and especially the way artists go to town with the artwork and packaging with vinyl box-sets. CDs are very immediate, and similarly, I’m a sucker for the great, inventive Limited Edition packaging my favorite bands do with their CD releases (with bonus DVDs, etc). I think in the past five years or so, bands have really pushed the envelope with the CD format, which has made new releases very exciting. And digital/MP3s are obviously invaluable in the way they’ve evolved the industry. Without the digital format it would be impossible for independent artists to function and spread the word about their music, so I don’t think people should criticize the stronghold the digital format has nowadays.

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

I’d say Selectadisc on Berwick Street in London. Great selection of artists, including loads of cult/underground bands, plus lots of cool second-hand albums and a wealth of great vinyl to browse through too.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

To anyone/everyone whose come across my Cellarscape stuff, huge thanks for the interest and support. To everyone reading this who has ever left ‘hater’ comments on any band’s Comment wall on any website, pause for second before you do it again. People leave positive comments because it’s a forum/way for them to say something they would gladly say to the band/person if they met them face-to-face. But I remain utterly confused at the stronghold ‘hate’ comments have on the internet. Brian Michael Bendis made an excellent attack on this in his Powers comic, via a character who was a stand-up comedian, expressing to the audience their disgust for online abuse – which is essentially what it is. His stand-up character made the point about the haters – what exactly have they done with their life? They can sit safely, anonymously at home and write horrendous things about complete strangers, but where is their product of endless blood, sweat and tears that they’ve thrown out into the world to be judged on..?

I’m simply a firm believer in “if you’ve got nothing positive to say, why say anything at all?” All bands and artists of all mediums already have enough outlets to deal with critiques – through journalism in all its forms – but they know that, and they know that it’s the nature of the beast. I just feel so saddened when I’m wandering around online and come across random Comment-leavers who are full of so much hate. I guess they feel they get some kind of validation/weird online ‘fame’ from doing it, but I think it’s very, very sad. But hey – I believe in karma too, so what goes around…

Beyond that rant, keep discovering old and new music, in all genres. If you want to release your own material: do it. It’s so easy to do these days: the control lies with the people making the music now – and there’s nothing more exciting or inspiring than that.

buy the album here: Animation, Suspension

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ripple News - Powerpop Singer/Songwriter Todd Wright Releases 40 songs in 40 weeks for charity

This is the sort of project that the Ripple Effect loves to get behind, and a great late-Christmas present for you--free music!!!

Powerpop singer/songwriter Todd Wright has committed himself to release a free track download every Wednesday for 40 weeks with the 40th track released on his 40th birthday. All in an effort to raise awareness for Diabetes... Currently 9 weeks into the 40 x 40 project, you can learn more at:

The project originally started out as a musical midlife crisis of sorts, but after the first week took on a greater goal... to raise awareness to find a cure for Diabetes. Its a feel good story of a singer/songwriter paying it forward, hopefully with a little help from the interwebs we can make a difference in the fight against Diabetes. Cameron (8) and Bella (10), two children who are the inspiration for the project, both suffer from Juvenile Diabetes.

Now, we've seen projects before where artists flood the interweb with inferior product in the name of industriousness. 365 songs in 365 days, or what not, and in truth, the songs always sound like they were written and recorded in one day. That's not the case here! To begin with, Todd is a seasoned singer/songwriter who has written and shared the stage with such artist as Lucy Woodward, Toby Lightman, Pat McGee, Butch Walker, Better Than Ezra and others, and all those songwriting chops come to play here. Just check out the free downloads already available, including the Ripple Favorite, "Down With Me." This is strong, compelling songwriting, well-produced sound, and dynamite performances. Damn, around here we have a hard enough time just writing a song review every week, much less the actual song!

The first 8 tracks of the project can be streamed @:

And here's the link to all free downloadable tracks:

Feel free to spread the word. All individual tracks have their own embed code and are shareable across social networking sites.

Hear some great music, and if you can, donate to help support a good cause. All proceeds go to help fight juvenile diabetes.

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