Monday, May 31, 2010

Ripples Around the World – Featuring Mr. Something Something, Jorge Strunz and EarthRise SoundSystem

Mr. Something Something - Shine Your Face

Back in the late ‘80’s a new music movement swept through San Francisco like a tsunami.  World Beat was a fusion of rock, soul, Latin, and world music elements, all fused into one politically charged, massive-booty swinging rhythmic orgy.  Bands like the Looters and Zulu Spear took charge there, blasting their uproarious world fusion to pulsating throngs, dancing in the streets, swinging from light posts, sweating in the nightclubs.  At that time, I was massively into African bands like Toure Kunda, King Sunny Ade, and Fela, as well as being fully immersed in reggae from Black Uhuru, Mutabaruka, and Augustus Pablo, amongst others.  I was also DJing a weekly reggae show at KSDT FM.  As a former sworn metalhead, World Beat gave me a new sound to latch onto, combining the dynamic rhythms and pulsating beats of my new found musical love with the flat out familiar rock elements of my former home.  World Beat came and I bought the ticket, sold the farm, and joined the band.

Someday I still mean to get the Looters reviewed in these pages, but currently, my ears are wrapping around a sound so familiar in intent, but so totally fresh, that I haven’t found the time to dig those old Looters LP’s out.  Mr. Something Something, coming from Toronto, take all the blazing dancefloor passionate, polyrhythmic experience of Nigeria and Ghana, and add a glorious amount of good ol'
soul and funk to create an intoxicating blend of their own world beat mania.  Adding a solid horn section into the mix of afrobeat guitar, percolating bass and impossible-to-resists beats, keeps the party flowing like a 24-hour soundsystem.  Toss in their “green life” beliefs (a recent concert was powered entirely by fans generating electricity on bicycle rigs) and political savvy and we got something Mr. Something Something affectionately calls “dancefloor activisim.”

And who am I to argue that.  Imagine the best of Johnny Clegg and Savuka, mixed with my old time favorites The Looters.  Beats don’t just come at you, they surround you, lift you up by the hips and start shaking them all on their own.  The arrangements are complex and layered and the soul is achingly fresh.  And best of all, underneath it all there beats a heavy rock and roll heart.

It’s a party for your ears and your butt..  Afropop at it’s finest.

buy here: Shine Your Face

Jorge Strunz – Neotropical Nocturnes

In truth, there’s not much that I can say about Jorge Strunz.  As half of the neo-flamenco guitar duo Strunz and Farah, I’d gobbled up each album of their delectable guitar feasts like a man eating his first bite after a hunger strike.  Emerging to prominence around the same time that Ottmar Liebert’s star took flight, Strunz and Farah wove and picked and strummed and crafted some of the most gorgeous, intricate, and impassioned neo-flamenco ever released to human ears.  If the thought of a warm afternoon patio, a glass of breathing red wine and flamenco sounds like your idea of a party, any Strunz and Farah album would fit the bill for your soundtrack to heaven.

Now, releasing a solo disc, Jorge Strunz brings all that passion, precision, technique and magic to Neotropical Nocturnes, and the results are nothing short of magnificent.  Let’s be honest, I’m a rock and roll writer (if that). I can’t tell you what Jorge is doing with his picking hand, or his technique of simultaneously strumming as the whips our arpeggios at mind-boggling speed.  I don’t have the words to describe the beauty of his notes, but let it suffice to say, they are beautiful.  Romantic.  Exotic.  Alluring.  I could break out my thesaurus to find more words, but I'd rather not.  I'd rather just sit here and listen to the music.

Strunz’s guitar is like a musical magic carpet blessed with the power to lift you up and carry you away.  Enchanted lands await. 

No fan of flamenco guitar should miss this one.

buy here: Neotropical Nocturnes

EarthRise SoundSystem – The Yoga Sessions

Contrary to any images the name may conjure, EarthRise SoundSystem’s, The Yoga Sessions, aren’t slow, new-agey tunes designed to numb the corporate-mindset while they adopt strange positions and stretch their backs.  Mixing Eastern voices, instruments, and thoughts with some serious downtempo beats and chill bass, this is luscious yogic lounge music of the highest order.  Anyone who’s ever spent any time in a Hindi ashram knows how beautiful the bhajans can be.  What EarthRise does is take the pulse of those bhajans and marry them to Western beats and rhythms, creating a heavenly, pulsing, throbbing, intoxicating blend of Hindi-chill.

Again, there’s way too much pulse here to use it as background music while you wrangle your body out of “downward dog” pose into “cobra.”  But that’s not the intent.  Think of this as a sumptuous late night chill album, or an early Sunday morning coffee riser and you’ll get the feeling. 

Exotic in flavor, spiritual in nature, the vocals float and dance above the lingering dancefloor beat.  Basses throb in sensual pulses, approaching a point of complete higher-self eroticism. “Intention” leads us off, with its prayer of a vocal chant, repetitive in nature, blessing us as we embark on this journey. Harmonies layer on, building softy over the heartbeat of bass.   Songs like “Dash Nayad,” could create a swirling throng of heated bodies on any late-night dance floor. Forget all thoughts of this being a “world beat” album, this is just addictive down-tempo chill.  Perfect for calming the night, settling the soul. “Daylight as Sunset” reminds me of some of the best of Si*Se, throbbing downbeat lounge. 

I’m always on the lookout for a good chill album to calm the ears after all the metal, punk, and garage we get at the Ripple.  Previously, my favorite recommendation would’ve been to check out the Angel Beach 3-CD set.  Now, I got EarthRise SoundSystem and all is right in Ripple world.


buy here: Yoga Sessions: Earthrise Soundsystem

Mr Something Something (song not from this album)

Jorge Strunz (song not from this album)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Sunday Conversation with Abysse

French ambient metallers, Abysse, floored us with their two song EP entitled Le vide est forme.Filled with huge swells of sound and complex musical arrangements, this disc made the Ripple office stop and take note. A few months back, we were able to spend a few moments with the band to find out more about how they create their wondrous sounds and to find out more about the music scene in France. 

Every musician is influenced by those who came before them, but what were your major musical epiphanies that inspired you to create music? What major musical moments helped define you as musicians?

Abysse is a "friend band". We grew up together since we were 6 years old. Now, we are 20, time spent together has permitted us to discover huge bands as Opeth, Lamb of God, The Haunted but also to create our own music database, sometimes enjoying bands that the others totally dislike!

Defined as a beginner musician was an easy step "Hey Guys, it's time to learn instruments and create a rock band" (Summer 2004). Easy as fuck, uh?

We needed barely 3 years to create what Abysse is now. Mastering instruments, developing, creating.. We recorded "Le vide est forme" in summer 2008, exactly 4 years after the killing question: "Hum, who wants to play guitar? You Vincent? So I'll learn bass. What is a bass guys?" 

Entering in this professional recording studio was time to feel like a musician and say 'Hey, I'm part of a rock band. Not the best, not the perfect one, but a cool rock band. That's what we wanted guys, we’ve done it!' A year after, we can say that it was a little step, and we are now in front of the wall.

Le vide est forme is only a two song, twenty minute long EP. What made you decide to issue this release as an EP and not go for a full length product?

 Our writing process is very long. When we recorded it, we didn't have any add songs to record. It was the moment to end the garage band period. The concept "2 tracks - 20 minutes" was strong, original. We had a good feeling with our studio engineer (David Potvin from the band Lyzanxia (Listenable records) and One Way Mirror (Metal Blade). He understood what we wanted and made a very good job, giving soul to our universe. It was another step, give the audience our identity ' We are an ambient band, will never create radio hit'

From where we’re sitting, the French music scene appears to be a burgeoning entity of massive creativity. Being that you’re there, does it feel the same way?

 France is a particular country. Metal music is not considered as music for masses. Our top 5 is Rn'B, Electro, Pop, Rap and French variety. So there is no institute, no structure for metal bands. We have to find by ourselves the great bands who really kick ass in different styles. It's not so easy for them (and us!) to be heard. Many talents stay anonymous while our French proud (Gojira, Hacride..) is getting bigger and bigger. We've got a few bands who cross borders, who are recognize in foreign country. Even if we've got great bands (take a listen to Watertank, Overmars, A Subtle Understatement), we find that the French scene is poor as well. Maybe because we've got many bands who are a 'copy of a copy'. Dejà-vu as we say in France.

Is there a lot of camaraderie within the various bands of the French underground?

 Metalhead’s are very nice, sure it's the case in the whole world. We’ve toured since late 2008, so we do not meet a lot of people, but it's been a great pleasure to share with musicians, promoters (sometimes you find great assholes, but we forget them as fast as possible). We met superstar (Guillaume Bideau haha(singer from Mnemic, One Way Mirror, Scarve..!) and great unknown bands. When people are motivated, they are interesting!

What do you see as being the biggest obstacle in getting your music heard in some of the more major markets, such as the U.S.?

 US market is not untouchable. We don't have any distributor for the moment . . . maybe because we didn't search them. But it will be the next step for our first LP (recording session in a year maybe). For the moment, we will have to share with people like you, getting reviews and interviews, find radios... It's a very hard work. We are actually working on many foreign magazines, but sometimes, they are not translated in English... Hard time!

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

We probably have the most weird way to write... We get together in our rehearse place and play, until finding the best riff/arrangement. We only work together, 4 musicians, 1 music... We are not able to write alone as many bands. If one of the members is not here (even the bass player!), we can't write!
It starts with a guitar riff. Our drummer is the orchestra chief, he gives them sense, a soul, and the way he plays, our guitarist will accommodate for the next. Leads come naturally on and bass gives basement, leads by the drums. We need about 4 month to write a ten minute song... For our upcoming first long play, we decided to think about a concept, how we want to feel the songs, get a view of the art work. We've got a direction to create a coherent album.

What piece of your music are you particularly proud of?

 We love what we play, we give pleasure to ourselves. That's how we feel music. We are happy to see people supporting us, loving personal music like ours. We are proud about one thing. Show to people that music sometimes doesn't need vocals.

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

 We can't pretend to live with music. But we've got inside of us the energy to push the band as far away, away as we can. We spend a lot of time with promotion, management, and booking. When you want to go further, you have to think business. Play instrumental underground pieces and think money both is possible . . . haha. We consider us a self managed band. We do everything. We produce our own show in our region, so we played with great bands (Hacride, Kruger.) We create our own promotion/management/booking structure, working as me want. We are actually evoluate as booker, working on a west euro tour with good bands, including Abysse as opening act. We want to become a label soon to sign Abysse and re edit 'Le vide est forme'. Work hard is the best way to get notoriety. When our next album will be recorded, we will need to find a bigger label, tour agency.

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

 Ideal professional structure are the ones who give us musical liberty, let us work as we want, but giving us what you can't get alone (International distribution, euro tour, maybe US Tour :)) We stay unskilled in some domains, we need elders to get what we want, a label that works for you if you work for them. These two last questions give you a taste of how our business works.

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

If you want Vinyl or CD, you need money. When we've got some to spend on good stuff, we get a better appreciation when items are real, artwork bigger. We will never buy mp3.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ripple News - Alt Rock Super Group Terrible Things Streams their debut single on The Ripple Effect

A special little treat for all you waveriders.

All-star rock super group Terrible Things featuring Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday), Josh Eppard (Coheed & Cambria), and Andy Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit) have just released their debut single "Revolution" yesterday via iTunes & ShockHound, and they've asked the Ripple to make the song available in full-stream on our site.  Always being a fan of free, legal music, we couldn't resist.

The full-length debut is due out late summer on Universal Motown. The album's concept is about the arson that ravaged Fred's hometown of Coatesville, PA.  So if you like what you hear, go out and support the band.

Ripple News - Skeletonwitch added to Ozzfest

Athens, Ohio's blackened thrash masters, SKELETONWITCH have a busy summer lined up, as they've been tapped for Ozzfest, as well as a Canadian tour with HIGH ON FIRE. The band will be appearing on the second stage at Ozzfest along with former tour partners GOATWHORE and SAVIOURS and other acts including DEVILDRIVER, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and  KINGDOM OF SORROW. The band is currently several weeks into a tour with CANNIBAL CORPSE, which made a stop at the annual New England Metal and Hardcore Fest in Worcester, MA. That tour wraps up on the 15th in Tampa, FL.

The band's upcoming dates are as follows:

5/11        Emo's- Austin TX $
5/12        Meridian- Houston, TX $
5/13        House of Blues- New Orleans, LA $
5/14        Freebird Live- Jackson, FL $
5/15        State Theater- Tampa, FL $
7/8          Rickshaw Theatre- Vancouver, BC %
7/9          Pogue Mahone- Kamloops, BC (SKELETONWITCH Only)
7/10        Starlite Room- Edmonton, AB %
7/11        The Republik- Calgary, ALB %
7/13        Royal Albert Arms- Winnipeg, MB %
7/14        Crocks- Thunder Bay, ON  (w/ High On Fire)
7/16        Opera House- Toronto, ON *
7/17        London Music Hall- London, ON *
7/18        The Blind Dog- Windsor, ON *
7/20        The Casbah- Hamilton, ON *
7/21        Time To Laugh- Kingston, ON *
7/22        Le Cercle- Quebec City, QC
7/23        Capital Music Hall- Ottawa, ON *
7/25       Mohawk Place- Buffalo, NY (SKELETONWITCH Only)
8/14        San Manuel Amphitheatre- Devore, CA #
8/17        First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre- Tinley Park, CA #
8/19        First Niagara Pavilion- Burgettstown, PA #
8/21        Comcast Theatre- Hartford, CT #
8/22        Susquehanna Bank Center- Camden, NJ #
8/24        Comcast Center- Mansfield, MA #

$   w/ Cannibal Corpse, Lecherous Nocturne
# OZZFEST 2010
% w/ High on Fire, Russian Circles
*   w/ High on Fire, Priestess

SKELETONWITCH are supporting "Breathing the Fire" which was recorded in Seattle, WA with legendary producer, Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, Soundgarden). The album was released by PROSTHETIC RECORDS on October 13, 2009 and debuted at number 151 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and number 2 on the magazine's "Heatseekers' Chart."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dew-Scented – Invocation

Dew-Scented have been cruising around the heavy metal underground for a damn long time. This German institution released their first demo in 1994 and have consistently produced kick ass metal that always gets the horns waving, but I can’t ever remember anyone actually stating that this band was worthy of greater attention. Damn shame, really. Dew-Scented are about as tight and technical a thrash band I’ve ever heard, and just as greasy, grimy, and caked with gopher guts as any underground metal band should be. But, to simply refer to these guys as another thrash metal unit would be next to criminal coz’ they’re not retro, they’re not doing something that sounds like anybody else, and they obviously aren’t doing it for a paycheck.

The very first thing that I notice when giving Invocation its initial it’s-time-to-get-to-know-you spin on the ole player was that the band have an incredible sense of mood. The opening instrumental intro of “Downfall” is perfectly composed to create a momentary glimmer of hope and then turns dark about 40 seconds into the track. Very rarely is so much said in so little. The guitar production is crystal clear, the notes shimmering with a lilting melody, and then the guys shift to these minor chords and the entire tone of the song becomes ominous . . . like being at sea on a relatively pleasant day, and then out of nowhere, the squalls start picking up as the sky darkens. Amazing composition and a tune that made me eager to hear what these guys were going to do next . . . where were they going to take the music?

With a seamless transition, Dew-Scented kick into “Arise From Decay” and the up tempo, full on thrash movement kicks into overdrive. Heavy alternate picked guitar lines accompanied by flurries of double bass drum and another ominous guitar melody clear the debris for the steamroller action of this tune to have an unobstructed path for devastation. The vocals, though not a style I typically gravitate towards, work extremely well in the context of the speeding frenzy of notes and ultra-violence. The band utilize a lot of open E, er . . . D, er . . . whatever note they’ve dropped their rigs to, creating passage after passage of chugging riffs and the slyly sliding half measures of sustain to break up the cacophony. By doing so, they create a truly intense listening experience. If I had to compare this song to the sound of any other band, I would have to lean towards Sound of White Noise-era Anthrax, but much more intense and produced to peel your skin from your face.

Dew-Scented incorporate more than an adequate amount of hardcore into their sound. To my ears, this gives their sound more of a knee jerk reaction of intensity, more organic if you will, yet they don’t compromise any of their musical chops in the process of creating this intensity. “Have No Mercy On Us” is an example of how they’ve melded the hardcore and thrash ethos together. One moment, emotions worn on the sleeve and the ultra-violence is swirling in complete chaos, then mere moments later, they shift to technical time changes and searing guitar leads that would make the six string gods blush. Then they hit us with “Artificial Life,” and pummel us stupid. Again, they mix that great thrash guitar work with the tempo and vocals that seem more at home in the back alleyways of a greater metropolitan area than in the polished confines of an arena or recording studio. The bridges used throughout this song are epic, full of raw emotion and power, fueled by rage and conveyed with the kind of conviction has changed the minds of the most stubborn minded. I absolutely love the outro portion of the song as the band drops into another chugging riff and we hear the drummer chiming away at the ride . . . man, that’s some good shit!

It’s rare to hear a band sound so tight in their execution, yet remain so infinitely raw in aggression. “Condemnation” is a sterling example as Dew-Scented litter the song with more starts and stops than a crash scene during rush hour. When they do get this song back up to speed, it’s a white knuckle ride as we grip any part of the vehicle for dear life. Or, if you don’t like that analogy, liken it to being on the Space Shuttle during reentry . . . and the pilot is suffering from cardiac arrest. Still, I find it amazing how they work such tight and dynamic shifts smack dab in the middle of some the bitchin’est riffs since that really bitchin’ album with all of those bitchin’ riffs! It’s like listening to the early thrash gods back in the late 80’s as if it were all happening again! Don’t believe me . . . fast forward to “A Critical Mass.” In-fucking-sane!

Invocation is a virtual clinic on riff work. Throw in some guitar virtuosity, not just in the solo work but also in the rhythm work, and mix that with the vocal intensity and Dew-Scented have hand delivered one of the most vicious records of the year. If you like your metal with a lot of movement, then this is the album that is screaming for your attention. Once it has your attention, it will be undivided as you’ll find yourself getting sucked into every time change and dynamic tempo shift, and by the time the record is done spinning . . . well, you won’t be. You’ll have lathered up a nice and even layer of sweat . . . you’ll have to peel the clothes from your body . . . that’s when you’ll find a few abrasions from unconsciously thrashing out to the grooves of Invocation. No . . . really. It’s that good!  -  Pope JTE

buy here: Invocation

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power (Deluxe Edition)

This is the 4th, and hopefully the last, time I have bought Raw Power by Iggy & The Stooges. First there was the LP, then the CD in 1989, then Iggy’s remix in 1997 and now the remastered deluxe version. I even went whole hog and bought the overpriced box set because I’m such a fanatic. So do you need this new version of Raw Power? Of course you do. Despite all of it’s sonic problems, it’s still one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

For the uninitiated, The Stooges hit rock bottom and broke up in 1971. Iggy Pop got lucky and met David Bowie in New York which led to deals with Bowie’s manager and CBS Records. Originally signed as a solo artist, it evolved into a new version of The Stooges. James Williamson became Iggy’s new musical partner, and after trying out some musicians in England, they decided to recruit Scott Asheton on drums and brother Ron Asheton switched from guitar to bass. The music this band created was just as intense as their previous material but had some a bit more conventional songwriting structure.

Recorded in 1972 but not released until February 1973, Raw Power in its original form was 8 classic songs delivered in 34 violent minutes. Over the years there has been much said about the sound of the album and the final mix that involved David Bowie. Iggy is credited as the producer of the album and his original mix (later to show up on many bootlegs and Bomp’s 1995 CD Rough Power) was rejected for being too insane. Bowie was drafted in to try and make sense of it all and to hopefully sell a few more units. Over the years Iggy and Bowie have made a lot of derogatory comments about each others work on Raw Power. Iggy says Bowie neutered it, Bowie says they made so many technical errors during the recording it couldn’t be fixed. No one will ever really know the truth since everyone involved was totally out of their minds on drugs back then. Bowie’s mix is pretty tame compared to Iggy’s original, and Iggy’s remix tried too hard to appeal to the Rage Against The Machine crowd.

So how does the original Raw Power remaster sound? Fuckin great! Bowie’s original mix totally buries the bass and drums, which is a shame because Ron and Scott play great. But truth be told, this is the version we all grew up with and how we first heard the songs. Every song on here is a stone classic. The anthems “Search & Destroy” and “Raw Power” are just as potent as ever. “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell” and “Shake Appeal” kick ass, “Gimme Danger” and “I Need Somebody” are killer slow burners. “Penetration” is one of the greatest guitar riffs ever written while “Death Trip” acknowledges that they know their band is destined for failure. Iggy’s lyrics are excellent and his voice delivers them with much venom and determination. James’ guitar playing is stellar. This was his first time recording an album and he certainly left his mark. His sound and style made a huge impact on everyone from The Dead Boys, The Dictators, Sex Pistols to The Smiths and just about anyone else who picked up an electric guitar after 1973.

The real reason to pick this up is the previously unreleased live show from Atlanta, October 1973. The Stooges played about a week’s worth of shows at a club called Richards that have become pretty legendary. One night Iggy snorted so much crystal meth he thought he was hallucinating when a gorilla jumped on stage. Turns out it was Elton John in a costume. Iggy later said the only reason Sir Elton was interested in the band was because he wanted to get into James Williamson’s pants. This show was recorded for radio broadcast but never aired. It’s easy to see why. Iggy’s dirty talk and the bands sound was way too over the top for commercial radio, then or now.

There have been many Stooges bootlegs documenting the 1973 tour, but this one has the best fidelity. The performance is very good and there’s plenty of Iggy antagonizing the crowd. In between songs you can hear a woman in the crowd say “I don’t think he likes us.” Iggy confronts a heckler by yelling at him “hey, you want to get your little fuckin face punched out little cracker boy? Come up here little Billy boy, I’m sick of your shit!” Needless to say, the guy does not accept the offer.

James’ guitar cuts in and out for the first 2 songs but his playing is top notch. Ron often complained about getting moved to bass, but his playing is incredibly fluid and locks in with Scott like few rhythm sections in rock. Scott Thurston (later of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) joined the band on piano and harmonica and plays great. By the time Raw Power was released the band was already bored of the material and only playing a few songs from the album - the title track, “Search & Destroy,” “I Need Somebody” and “Gimme Danger.” The next batch of songs they were working on showed immense potential. “Head On” is easily one of their best songs and is driven by an incredible bass line by Ron (lifted from “L.A. Woman” by The Doors). “Cock In My Pocket” and “Heavy Liquid” are fast rockers. There are a few different arrangements of “Heavy Liquid” from other live shows out there, but this version is probably the best. “Open Up and Bleed” is another great unreleased song. Long, slow and moody, it highlights the frustration the band felt at the time.

For the maniacs that buy the box set, there’s a 3rd CD with some outtakes from the session. Most of them have been released before on numerous semi-legal compilations. “I’m Hungry” is new to me. It’s the same take of “Penetration” with Iggy trying out some different lyrics. Cool, but unessential stuff. The best part of the box set is the hour long DVD about the making of Raw Power. Chrissie Hynde, Henry Rollins, Johhny Marr and a few others talk about the importance of the album, but it’s even better to hear it straight from Iggy, James and Scott. You get to see James demonstrate how to play the riff to “Penetration” and talk about how he approached writing the songs. You also get to hear how Scott launched his copy out the front door the first time he heard the final mix of Raw Power. The box also comes with a big booklet with lots of Mick Rock’s iconic photos of the band and a 7” single that replicates the Japanese 45 of “Raw Power” b/w “Search & Destroy.”

Iggy & The Stooges will be performing Raw Power in its entirety at the All Tomorrows Parties festival in upstate NY this September as well as some European festivals this summer. 


buy here:Raw Power
buy here: Raw Power [Vinyl]
buy here: Raw Power (Limited Deluxe Edition)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Punk Me? Punk You! – Featuring the Burndowns and Baseball Furies

Neither of these albums are new.  One of the bands doesn't even exist anymore.  But both came in with a recent shipment of stuff from our good friend over at Big Neck Records, the home of one of my favorite garage otufits of all time, Seger Liberation Army.  Needless to say, I tore into these with abandon.

And I’m still tearing . . .

The Burndowns – S/T

An absolute frenetic, frantic, and fantastic fury of primal methamphetamine fucked up punk rock.  Burndowns are a chemical amalgamation of the basal abandon of hardcore with some solid straight up, post-70’s punk attitude.  Songs burn-out in a smoky tailspin after two minutes of non-stop, adrenaline-surging guitar rage and drum punishment.  Perhaps it’s the slight touch of Oi! Style punk that rides through the back bone of this one that elevates it above the heap.  It’s something, because Burndowns have produced one of the more scorching punk albums I’ve heard in while.

I could go into each song, but to be honest, there’s no need.  At near breakneck pace, they pass so quickly it’s kinda hard to tell where one starts and the other ends.  An entire side of this album passes faster than a bloated guitar solo in some noodling-ass prog band.  But this I can say, amongst the volume and guttural velocity, Burndowns know how to write a song.  Great, catchy choruses punched into the air with gangland vocals, make this one an instant ear catcher.  Primitive guitar solos fire through the pounding chaos of accelerating punk abandon.  Vocals are appropriately gruff, but not hardcore.  Raspy, throaty, but clean enough that you can even hear what he’s singing about.  If you care, that’s a good thing.

“Where You Been,” is a blur of guitar chaos and choruses.  “Out of My Head,” passes by even faster.  “Tell Me Why,” is a pounding terror, the drummer punishing his skins as if he was beating the face of a Las Vegas gambler who owed him money.  Dig the tone on the guitar solo and the Oi! Vibe.  Strong work.  “Nothing Better to Do,” rounds out side one and maybe the best song on the side.  Kicking off with a slightly cleaner, fuzzed garage tone, the boys lay straight into a true-on singable, memorable chorus and gangland vocal hook.  You want punk, you got.  One big splenic vent of bile. Reminds me of The Bones.  Love it.

Buy form Big Neck Records.  It's only $8

Baseball Furies – Throw Them to the Lions

This other treat from Big Neck Records blew me away.  I got a thing for bands that can properly combine the discord and spittle of punk with the chunky, bass-massive darkness of post-punk.  Bands like The Estranged and more recently The Beautiful Mothers have hit it square.  Now that’s a perfect description of this release from Baseball Furies

I’m not a long-time fan.  Never heard of these guys before.  My sole association with baseball furies are the 10” action figures on my bookcase modeled after the characters in the Warriors movie.  So I got no reference to compare these guys to their prior releases which I understand are grinding, primitive garage punk and roll.  I also understand that Throw Them to the Lions was the Furies parting shot.  Their last ride off into the sunset.  And all I can say about that is, too fucking bad.

Cause what I’m hearing right now should be damn proof positive to any fan of near-putrid, garage-y post punk that Baseball Furies were only skimming the surface of what they could do.  This is one glorious bastard of an album.  Bringing in a boozy post-Replacements sensibility to their bass-thumping grime and rock.  The Furies stopped just short of what undoubtedly would’ve been a masterpiece for their next album.  Each song here is a visceral attack of angular, throbbing, guitar agitations that hit you like a soccer kick to the crotch. 

“Blood on my Hands,” kicks us off with a scratch of guitar that builds like a TSOL missive.  When the bass kicks in it packs enough power to dissolve your liver.  Propulsive, subversive, mean.  Oh yeah.  The darkness that’s draped over this song could almost be like some lost Bat Cave shit from the ‘80’s.  “Are You Going to Point Your Gun at Me?” picks up the pace and the agitation factor with epileptic spasms of guitar like Gang of Four on uppers.  A huge post-eighties vibe runs through this, scraped up, thrown into an oily can, tossed into the back of the garage and allowed to fester and ferment for months.  Nearly rabid bass playing propels this beauty with the intensity of a snared animal about to gnaw off it’s own leg to escape from a trap.

Then “Don’t Leave this Place,” leaks out sounding like the best Replacements outtake I’d never heard.  Either that or some ugly step-brother to the Hoodoo Gurus.  The pace is slowed, the bass brought way up front, the vocals assured.  A true sing-along post-punk anthem.  “Cultural Dump,” ends side one riding the Iggy wave like a fetid surfer on a sea of sludge.

Plus the whole thing comes on some of the coolest clear vinyl I’ve seen.  If the names I mentioned trigger a little hormone release from your pleasure center, buy this.


Get it from Big Neck.  It's worth the $12

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ripple News - Vinyl Sales Continue to Rise!

 News that just warms our Ripple hearts.  From the Telegraph, the British Newspaper.  Vinyl sales continue to rise as music fans appreciate the portability of the download, but love the feel, look, and sound of vinyl.

At the Ripple, we're firmly committed to this point of view.  With new double LP, gatefold vinyl releases of JPT Scare Band's Acid Blues is the White Man's Burden, and the grand re-release of Poobah's classic 1972, protometal masterpiece, Let Me In.  Both albums coming this summer, not to mention some nifty split 7" coming from Stone Axe and Mighty High and another from Ripple favorites Grand Atlantic and Sky Parade.

Long live the vinyl resurrection!

From the Telegraph:   Sales of old-fashioned albums rose by more than five per cent last year, figures from the Official UK Charts Company showed.

CD sales have fallen by a fifth over the same period, leading to some manufacturers threatening to halt their production.

Despite accounting for less than one per cent of music purchases, American sales of vinyl topped almost three million, an increase of a million records.  Music website said it had more than 250,000 vinyl albums in stock to meet the growing demand.  Internet search engine Yahoo meanwhile, has reported a 210 per cent increase in searches of the phrase "blank cassette tapes" and a 110 per cent rise in users seeking “music cassette tapes”.

The new trend is believed to have originated from New York teenagers, leading to a boom in record player and turntable sales. Most vinyl records bought over the past 10 years were by DJs and dance music fans, but recently more rock and country music albums have been sold.

Some of the most popular records include music from Florence and the Machine and The Courteeners and re-released Jimi Hendrix and The Red Hot Chili Pepper albums.

Music experts said that vinyl sales figures could be even higher because official British statistics do not include sales from smaller record shops and albums sold at concerts. British sales of seven-inch records peaked in 1979, with 89 million copies sold, but as CDs became more popular they slumped to less than 180,000 in 2001. Last year sales rose to 223,000.

Some vintage blank tapes are reportedly selling for more than £20 on auction websites.

"Downloads are quick and easy but nothing beats the joy of holding a heavy piece of vinyl,” Steve Clancey, a Brixton rare records and vinyl dealer told The Sun.  "Vinyl sounds richer and there's something special about the cover art and sleeve notes which you cannot get with digital tunes."

Latest figures show that digital music sales accounted for more than a quarter of the music industry's global income in 2009 for the first time.  Almost 30 per cent of global music revenues were generated via digital downloads last year, generating a total of £2.6billion.

Monday, May 24, 2010

John Butler Trio - Sunrise Over Sea

Okay . . . this little gem has been in steady rotation for what feels like forever. I must have picked it up when it originally came out, way back in . . . 2004? Are freaking kidding me? In one way, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been listening to this album for all this time, in another way, it’s not all that surprising. If you’re not familiar with John Butler and his fabulous band of stalwart musicians, then please, go out, get yourself a copy of Sunrise Over Sea and kick back, grab a cup of tea, cross your legs while sitting in a Queen Anne, maybe smoke a little of that funny stuff, roll out your yoga mat, hug a tree, get all hippie with your bad selves, and enjoy.

John Butler is Australian (though born in the U.S.,) and has managed to fuse the sounds of bluegrass, country, folk, Americana, and straight up rock n’ roll to create his own signature sound. Combining socio-political lyrics with this stripped down style of music seems to make the man’s ideals, positions on environmental preservation, social change, mental perception on the world issues at hand feel that much more real and  . . . well, honest. It’s one thing to preach about world change and hide behind the relative safety of the studio walls, it’s something all together more real to get arrested for protesting a governments wrongs or to live in a tree to make one’s point. Don’t know about any of you, but I can’t really imagine living in a tree . . . though, in some ways, it totally sounds cool!

On to the album!

Kicking off the disc is “Treat Yo Mama” is a heavy blues-based burner, powered by a swampy sludge groove, filled with some outstanding slide work and made infectious by the catchiest of catchy choruses. Butler’s vocal performance is more rapped than traditionally sung, building a more dramatic and immediate mood than sung otherwise, and his lyrics initially will have you thinking that the song is all about treating one’s birth mother, one’s flesh and blood with respect. But as we get to the last verse, the meaning broadens and becomes all about treating our earth mother with respect. The way he weaves the lyrics never ceases to amaze me, and the way he strung these words together shows a dude who not only has a mastery of the English language, but someone who is clear in thought with the conveyance of his ideas. Musically, while you’re getting your primitive groove on, listen to the guitar work as Butler effortlessly plucks notes from some hidden treasure trove of taste and class.

One of the underlying themes in John Butler’s music is corporate greed and how big business has no morale qualm with raping the earth so that a small percentage of humanity can live it luxury. No song captures this message as well as “Company Sin.” With upright bass boppin’ along and polyrhythmic percussion poppin’, the song has a vibe mixed in reggae and juke joint jazz. Butler’s voice is rich and soulful on this particular track, and his passionate performance draws the listener ever so close to standing in a dusty wasteland created by higher profits. The guitar solo is wah drenched funky jam with a huge jazz tone running through it. I find it a weird contrast of moods to hear music so upbeat and soulfully powerful, yet to have the lyrical content as dark and filled with personal struggle. But, like the reggae masters who called for revolution in thought and, ultimately, through action with their airy style of sound, John Butler has culled a style of music from a similar vein.

“Betterman” is funky, upbeat jam. Again, the rhythm section provided the addictive groove while John Butler gracefully plucks notes or caresses the guitar neck with a slide. Pay close attention to the guitar work on the one . . . the harmonics, the slide, the fluidity that Butler plays with . . . damn! I love how he also has the presence of mind to stop playing and just lets the rhythm section push to the song along, then jumps back into the jam. The solo is slide players wet dream. Listening to him play is one thing, watching his utterly mindboggling. It simply makes me want to break my own fingers in frustration.

“What You Want” is a slower jam, but no less powerful. In fact, this song may be one of the heaviest tunes on the album, and I can only think that’s attributable to the open space for the sound to flow, as well as the lush richness of Butler’s voice. Strings arrangements fill some of the nooks and crannies with sound, but in essence, the song is the trio creating a picturesque beaut of a tune. The melody throughout is infectious, though laced with a subtle sound of sadness, it also has these great uplifting moments. Dynamic in tone due to the volume swells, the vocal harmonies, and the individual musical performances, “What You Want” is undoubtedly the song I hit repeat to every time through, and I find myself getting lost in the textural sounds and the countless musical subtleties.

“Seeing Angels” never fails to make me think of my wife. It’s one of those sensitive songs without being sappy. It’s one of those songs that will make most guys sit back and nod in respect towards their significant other, makes them realize that they are really nothing without a woman by their side. The second verse is a lyrical killer. Fuck. Dude can write a moving tune. “Zebra” is another funky number and the first song I remember hearing from the disc. Packed with great tones, the warm sounds of the upright bass groovin’ it’s groove, the vocals all over the place . . . jumping into the mix at odd times, emotion drivin’ guitar work, drums snappin’, crackin’, whackin’ away on the upbeat, on the downbeat, on the sidebeat . . . killer tune!

Sunrise Over Sea is, without a doubt, one of those albums that I can listen to anytime of the day. There is so much going on, not just in the music but in the lyrical ideas and conveyance. And, the more I listen to this album, the more I think that John Butler is a genius. I really don’t understand why he hasn’t picked up more popularity in the States, especially with the mindset of today’s nation. Who knows? Now that BP has gone a fucked life as we know it in the Gulf of Mexico, maybe people will gravitate to the words in the message of John Butler and realize that this earth is the only mother that really matters. Or then, of course, there’s also a greater chance that our nations media will bury the story under government propaganda and celebrity bullshit. Anyway, Sunrise Over Sea is a great disc, you should check out the tunes I’ve highlighted, then check into the rest of the album coz’ the whole thing is brilliant. Me? Well . . . I’m going to the record store to see if I can track down any of his more recent albums . . . after I take a nap in my garden.  -  Pope JTE

Buy here: Sunrise Over Sea

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Sunday Conversation with Truth Corroded

When we heard Upon The Warlords Crawl, we all sat back with mouth agape, shaking our heads in awe as we listened to the sonic devastation blast from our speakers. At that moment, we had to know more about these guys . . . so, we wrote a few letters, made a few phones calls, unleashed a horde of carrier pigeon in an all out effort to contact Truth Corroded. Fortunately, the band heard our call and were more than accommodating with their time. Sit for a spell and read up on what bassist Greg Shaw has to say on how Truth Corroded is more than just a musical outlet, but a way of life!

Every musician is influenced by those who came before them, but what were your major musical epiphanies that inspired you to create music? What major musical moments helped define you as musicians?

For me personally - Metallica - it is no doubt a common starting point for many my age, but to this day, the R.T.L to A.J.F.A period was a major part of my life and was my major musical moment. However, for the original members of the band - Jason, Mark and myself - Sepultura was a very major influence, and our musical bonding, as the three of us started out together as a Sepultura cover band.

Our major influences are mostly from that era - late 80's / early 90's thrash and death metal - bands such as Dark Angel, Slayer, Forbidden, Kreator, Violence, Testament, Exodus - and later early Malevolent Creation, Entombed, Atheist, Pestilence. Many of these bands are creating some incredible albums to this day - maybe their best ever - and that is inspiring.

From the era of our roots to this day, there have been some other major musical moments for us - in particular Neurosis. But also Napalm Death, Gojira, Behemoth, Burnt By The Sun, Mastodon, Lamb Of God, Isis, Cult Of Luna - all of these bands have provided inspiration.

With so many heavy metal and extreme metal acts toiling around in obscurity, how do you feel Truth Corroded separates itself from the rest of the world?

I think we are no better than any of the many great bands that are in the same level of obscurity as us - I think we are all just looking to find the right set of ears to help take it to the next step.

But, while I do not think we are particularly different, or offering an innovation - ultimately we are best termed an extreme thrash metal band, and that is the style we are hungry to play. What sets our sound maybe a part though is that we use our influences and shape songs that are the sum of our influences, and not just a particular movement. We are thrash but we are looking to build on that sound. 

Many bands over the past decade have found a sound that is regarded by music media as cutting edge and then just emulated that sound - and many labels market around that as well - with advertising stating 'if you like this band....then this is what you want! They sound and look the same!

 You will hear the influence of particular bands in our sound, it will be a broad range of bands spanning many years of heavy music. But the song itself is written to be Truth Corroded.

What do you see as being the biggest obstacle in getting your music heard in some of the more major markets, such as the U.S.?

I think it is that we are an Australian band trying to enter a market ( such as the U.S and Europe ) that is already very competitive, with many great domestic level bands seeking an audience or market support. So, it comes down to publicity and touring - get over there and show the bands capacity, or get it heard where you can. Doing this interview is a step forward, and we are grateful to people like yourself who help the band get out there, or for the support we have received in building the bridge for such an opportunity.

However, to get out of Australia is hard as well - it is far and expensive to hit the places we need to. Truth Corroded have also looked to our region and toured through Asia - and the bands from there also face the same difficulties.

“Despair Your Black Earth” is one of the most eerie, emotionally charged, heavy ass, post-apocalyptic epic songs I’ve heard in a great while, filled with great hopeless imagery and, I feel, a definite high point on the album, if not the bands catalog. What piece of your music are you particularly proud of?

That song was conceptualized to complete the album, and we are working on building an end to the next album that will also take the listener to such a place as 'Despair' did. It was a song that crunched up against an album that was quite extreme in pace, and demonstrated another aspect of the bands’ sound and what we are looking to create.

For me, I am proud of many of the songs on that album, it was our best written and sounding album and we are looking to build on that with the next one. Once again we will be working with Jonas from Scar Symmetry, and I think that working relationship will produce yet again the sound we are seeking.

In terms of particular songs, 'Crown The Apocalypse' - ' Buried Alive By Demons' - 'The Disfiguring' and ' We Are Failed'. But there are two other songs from our previous album ' Our Enemy Is The Weapon' that I think also stand out - ' Sky Laden With Flies ' ( a song we originally wrote with our ex-drummer Adam Milburn who passed away ) and ' Resonance Of The Coming Fire '

It’s been a few years since the release of your last album, Upon the Warlord Crawl. What are the plans for a follow up? Any new wrinkles to the Truth Corroded sound that we can expect?

We enter the studio to track the songs in our home state of Adelaide in July, and then send the recording over to Jonas Kjellgren from Scar Symmetry in Sweden to mix and master the album. So far there are 12 songs written. Some of the songs are the fastest we have written, but I think the new songs also have - without a doubt - some of the most crushing heavy riffs we have written. All up I think there is a good balance to the songs, and will show the progress of the band from the last album.

What was the mindset going into writing and recording Upon the Warlord Crawl? Was there a particular message that your were trying to get across to the world?

Lyrically there was a lot of reaction to the war on terror and the many faces to that war. It is an anti - war album, and the message implied in the title is a warning for the way forward. War has reached its conclusion - the next step is termination.

However, Mark also confronted other concerns, such as politics within our own country and environmental politics.

As music, it was also a reactionary album, we wanted to destroy. And on the next album, we want to annihilate what survived the last album haha

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

We are next looking to open the doors to Europe and the U.S - we have established a foundation for South East Asia, China and Japan, but the next step is the U.S / Eur.

It is easier to get your music out there, and it has changed how bands market themselves and release music. But this has enabled Truth Corroded to build contacts and bridges to reach new audiences. I think for us it is looking at how you can find opportunities - that can be on many levels, online sourcing, networking the local and overseas industry, and particularly for us, looking at opportunities available from the government to help build your global profile. We are motivated by the opportunity to build our profile outside Australia and the chance of performing overseas in new places.

Heavy metal is as much an attitude as it is a lifestyle, but we all have financial responsibilities and bills to pay and there are no immediate riches in the music business. What keeps you driven? What force gets you to wipe the sleep out of your eyes and attack each new day?

What drives us is the music. We are still avid about the genre, and always looking for new inspiration, or finding it in the work of our established influences. It is a very significant part of our lives, we all work day jobs, pay off houses or loans, some members have children, but there is still the hunger to create and vent through metal music. Getting together to create a song, rip it out on stage and tour is a fulfilling experience, and a part of what makes us the people we are as much as a band.

Since 2007, we have had the opportunity to tour overseas, and each year since then, that opportunity and scope grows, and it is very inspiring. We have had some incredible experiences, played some incredible shows, met some incredible people and played alongside some awesome bands. We have also had the chance to play alongside bands such as Lamb Of God, Behemoth (in China!), Sepultura, Arch Enemy, In Flames, God Forbid, Death Angel and Chimaira. We have gone from being an Australian band with a national following, to an Australian band with an international following. A few years ago we would not have thought it was ever going to be possible. As a band we will never be able to live off being a band or be the next big thing, but we will take the journey as far as it goes, and I look forward to each step along the way.

On a personal level, what do the band members do in their spare time? How do you clear your heads and relieve any tension or boredom when away from the music?

I don’t get spare time bro! Haha. I work full time, go to University part time, me and the singer Jason run a record label and book a venue, and I manage the band. Our guitarist Mark works full time, but is avid about soccer and coaches his kids’ team, and Darren is busy running his own business.

For us, the band is how we detach from our 9-5 work lives and responsibilities. The social side to being in a band, getting to tour together, and with friends, drinking and partying after a show . . . that is how we unwind.

Greg, rumor has it that you have an authentic Australian curry recipe that the world needs to know about. What, if anything, can be told about that? Are there other recipes that you've got under your hat that we don’t know about?

Hahaha - Alex! Yeah - I do. I really like cooking, and curry is my specialty. But it would not be very metal to offer the reader a recipe hahaha

Finally, what words of wisdom or warning can you offer to our readers?

If you have not heard the band then please check out our music on - if you like thrash metal and bands such as Testament, Slayer, or new bands such as Lamb Of God, then Truth Corroded will get you thrashing. We have a new album coming out soon, please check it out, make some noise and get Truth Corroded over to America in 2011!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ripple News - The New Ripple Music Record Label Prepares New Releases from JPT Scare Band, Fen, Poobah, and Kevin Beadles

Hello friends!

Welcome to May and Spring is in full swing, flowers are bloomin' like crazy and the happy little elves at Ripple Music are preparing for a summer full of releases! 

We'll be seeing our first official release hitting the streets on June 22nd, 2010 in the form of JPT Scare Band's Acid Blues is the White Man's Burden. The heavily fuzzed out blues-based rock outfit has worked hand in hand with Ripple Music in the song selection and the album art to fully encapsulate the bands (in)glorious history as the unsung heroes of proto-metal. Coming on the heals of the widely acclaimed self-released album Rumdum Daddy, Acid Blues will be available in deluxe CD digipak, digital download, and multi-colored double 12" vinyl formats. The vinyl edition will also include two bonus tracks for your listening pleasure! Follow the link to hear more from this painfully obscure classic rock outfit!

Vancouver's beloved alienists on the path of self discovery, Fen, are preparing for the release of their fourth album, Trails Out of Gloom. The epic album of brooding and hauntingly beautiful songs will hit the streets on July 13th with the band working the road in support of the disc. Initially, Trails will be available in deluxe CD digipak and digital download formats, but plans are underway for a follow up 12" vinyl release. To hear some advanced tracks, please follow this link . . .

Bay Area singer/songwriter, Kevin Beadles, also has an album available for the masses of happy and hungry music listeners. You Can't Argue With Water will officially hit the streets through Ripple Music on July 13th, 2010, featuring well crafted songs that are highlighted by thought provoking lyrics. The album will be available in CD digipak and digital download formats. For some samples of Kevin's work, follow the link . . .

Ripple Music is also proud to announce the release of the 1972 lost classic, Let Me In, from Poobah. Featuring the guitar wizardry of Jim Gustafson, Poobah has milled about in the same circles as classic rock icons Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, and Iron Butterfly. This deluxe re-issue will be available in jewel case CD, digital download, and multi-colored double 12" vinyl formats . . . and all will include bonus tracks from "lost tapes" of the Let Me In recording sessions. Look for the album this summer, and in the meantime, feel free to listen to some of the music that you have missed over the years . . .

Finally, Modern Day Moonshine has submitted the cover art and the album title for their long-awaited follow up to their self-titled EP from last year. Refuge follows the same big sky, open land path that this trio has walked for the past five years . . . but with a fresh burst of energy and a focused approach. Refuge will initially be available in CD digipak and digital download formats, but we're not ruling out a vinyl edition in the near future. 

Ripple Music has also come to agreements with the Santa Barbara modern rock outfit, Tripdavon, to re-release their latest album, Sketches From Silence, in a deluxe format filled with unreleased tracks and bonus material. And, as of this writing, the label has also come to a verbal handshake with classic proto-metallers, Iron Claw, from the UK to release their first collection of studio material since their classic self-titled 70's release. 

2010 promises to be an exciting year with a ton of great music, so tune in frequently, or simply sign up to our mailing list and get the 411 before anyone else! 

That's all for now . . . and remember, if you're not listening to it loud, you're not listening to it right!

Ripple Music
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