Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Although the modern mouth organ was invented in the early 1820's in Vienna, Austria, it wasn't until 1857 when Matthias Hohner shipped one of his creations to relatives in the United States that the blues harp began to evolve. It is said that it was so portable and such a hit that even Abraham Lincoln carried one in his pocket. It became the Civil War soldier's portable orchestra and was known to be played out west by lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Billy the Kid.
Harmonicas were first recorded in the 1920's on "race records" - music intended for African Americans. These recordings memorialized great blues harp players such as Walter Horton and Sonny Terry. The second great wave of American blues pocket piano players came in the 1950's with such notables as Sonny Boy Williamson, II, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Howlin' Wolf. This was the era when the mouth harp met the microphone which allowed the instrument to be heard above the electric guitar and drums. The sound became integral to the bump and grind music of the day. It is this era, the 1950's-early 60's, that Bob Corritore and Friends recapture on Harmonica Blues.
The disk is a 15 track compendium of recordings from 1989 through 2009 of Corritore with some of the greatest blues musicians of the 1950's and early 1960's. Only one song, "1815 West Roosevelt," was written by Corritore. It is an instrumental named after the address for a long gone blues joint called "Club Alex" on the West Side of Chicago that use to feature Muddy Waters. The remainder of the album is comprised of blues music written and performed by the creme de la creme of early Delta and Chicago blues artists.
For 20 years Corritore has been the host of Arizona radio station KJZZ's weekly radio show "Those Lowdown Blues" a show that brings the music of, and interviews with, bluesmasters to the desert airwaves. Corritore also books all of the entertainment for his nightclub the Rhythm Room (Phoenix's top spot for national touring blues talent.) As you hear on this record he is also a world class blues harmonica player. As a result Corritore was able to assemble a veritable Who's Who list of artists to play with him on "Harmonica Blues."
The album features the late Koko Taylor singing her song "What Kind Of Man Is This?" with Muddy Waters' guitarist Bob Margolin and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Legendary Louisiana Red sings his wife's song "Tell Me 'Bout It." Dave Riley, probably best known as the engineer for the Parliament-Funkadelic bands, warbles delta blues harmonica immortal Frank Frost's "Things You Do." The late Nappy Brown wails on the late Texas country blues legend Andrew "Smokey" Hogg's "Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes." Robert Lockwood, Jr. performs the immortal Jimmy Rogers' "That's All Right." Big Pete Pearson, known as Arizona's King of the Blues, tackles the late Bob Geddins' "Tin Pan Alley." Tomcat Courtney, a San Diego blues guitarist who didn't release his first album until he was 78 years old, belts out his blues "Sundown San Diego." Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater, a Chicago blues legend and contemporary of Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Freddie King, shreds on vocals and guitar on his blues anthem "That's My Baby." Howlin' Wolf's main piano player until 1968, Henry Gray, sings his song "Things Have Changed" with the late great Chico Chism, Howlin' Wolf's last drummer, on drums. Chism also joins the inimitable and seemingly ageless Pinetop Perkins on Perkins' tune "Big Fat Mama." Chief Schabuttie Gilliame, a local Phoenix blues legend, performs his blues "No More Doggin'." Dave "Honeyboy" Edwards who, along with Pinetop Perkins are the oldest Delta blues players still touring the US, sings the blues of legendary Memphis Minnie McCoy's called "Bumble Bee." Lafayette, Louisiana's Carol Fran plays her song "I Need To Be Be'd With" while the late Chism again sets the pace on drums. The album ends with the late Little Milton singing his "6 Bits In Your Dollar" accompanied by Henry Gray and Chism. Throughout it all Corritore blows a mean harp as an accompaniment to the work of these blues legends.
This is a special album. It contains what may be some of the very last recordings made by some of the greatest blues artists and sidemen of the 20th Century. To be able to bring them all together in one album on which they play with such joy, abandon and soul is a thing of beauty. The album itself is a graduate level class in the harmonica blues given by a master instructor surrounded by the originals who pioneered the genre.
If you love Delta and Chicago harmonica blues this recording is a must have for your collection.
- Old School
Monday, August 30, 2010
Since Racer and I have been doing this whole Ripple Effect blog thing and reviewing all of this great music that we’ve been discovering, there’s been this weird phenomenon going on where we’ll both receive a piece of music that we listen to once . . . twice . . . three hundred times and we know somehow, in some whacky way, said piece of music is one of the most important pieces of music that we’ve stumbled on. The problem is . . . we just don’t know what to say about it.
Sure, we could throw together a bunch of clever words that highlight our faux intelligence and have the reader reaching for a dictionary (faux means not real,) but that doesn’t necessarily tell you what the music is all about. We want you, oh dear reader, to go out and pick up these albums that we write about coz’ we want to share the excitement that we still find in music. So . . . enter Black Elk.
Black Elk’s album Always A Six, Never A Nine has been in and out of my player for something like two years. I feel a little bad because I’ve wanted to write this thing up all this time, but I knew that whatever I wrote wouldn’t be quite correct, wouldn’t be adequate enough. Always A Six, Never A Nine is an album that takes time to understand, even though I’m still not totally sure I do. But, I do finally feel that I’m in a place where I can at least throw together the right combination of words that best describes the music contained within to give you the best possible understanding of what you’re gonna get into when you buy this beasty-beast.
This album is defies categorization, however, it has elements of post-hardcore, noise, drone, doom, and several avant elements to boot. If you can imagine, Always A Six, Never A Nine would fall somewhere in the no man’s land between the primordial droning sludge riffery of Neurosis and the wildly eclectic avant garde sounds of We Insist! Black Elk has this way of lulling the listener into a state of complacency, carving out our existence and leaving a hollowed out husk, devoid of emotion and then . . . suddenly shoving all of the human elements and emotions into that mesmerized form, shocking our systems into a overly heightened sensitivity, and bringing us back to the immediate futility of our reality. The music has these great metallic moments, but is far from any metal I’ve ever heard. The music also has this great anti-everything attitude to it, but it’s not like any punk music I’ve ever heard. The music has a free form ambience and emotion to it, but it’s unlike any jazz that I’ve laid ears upon. Black Elk simply defy any standard musical categorization.
There are a few songs that I gravitate towards more than others, but the album as a whole is still a stunning experience. “Hospital” is downright killer! The songs opens with a bizarre guitar intro that is quickly accompanied by vocals that sound like they belong to someone strapped to a table with a leather strap shoved in their mouth. Maniacal and laced with paranoia, the vocals have an edge of all sorts of creepy . . . and the way they burst from dude’s mouth in time with the power and aggression of the music is a thing of cryptic beauty. The song has a deranged quality to it, but it’s not out of control. As the songs roils through a chaotic frenzy of heaviness, note the subtle bass lines juke and the warden of inmates. There’s an underlying melody that stands in striking contrast to the darkened lunatic outbursts. By the time the song fades into unconsciousness, odds are you’ll be a little winded and wondering what the hell just happened.
“Pig Crazy” follows along the same lines as “Hospital,” driven by throbbing and pulsating rhythms and highlighted by layers of feedback that creates an eerie texture to the overall sound. The vocals are tortured and frightening, almost like having a conversation with a schizophrenic . . . never knowing if this person is going to turn on us and use violence as some means to an end. The music on this one shifts between heavily distorted guitar riffing to quasi-psychedelic soundscapes, lending an even eerier element to the paranoid visions of the vocalist. This is one of those songs that acts like a sharpened instrument to carve out our being and quickly replaces everything for maximum emotional shock. I love the breakdown towards the end of the track when the guitars completely drop out of the mix and we’re left rumbling along with the bass and drums. That bass tone is thunderous and imposing, giving the listener the impression that something terrifying was lurking around the corner of the next time change. And, for certain, you want to walk down that darkened hallway with both eyes wide open!
“She Pulled Machete” is a drunken narrative about a chick with a machete. Plain and simple. But only Black Elk could pull off a song like this. I love the imagery in this one . . . it doesn’t take much to imagine a guy at some desert truck stop in New Mexico or Arizona, sitting in a Dodge Dart with a fifth of whiskey, sober enough to question what’s going on, but just drunk enough to sit in the dark trying to piece together the puzzle . . . and this all may not be how it plays out, but in my mind, dude’s gonna get chopped up into itsy-bitsy bits and left as coyote chum. Gotta’ love music that let’s your imagination run crazy like that! And damn . . . she sure is sexy!
Always A Six, Never A Nine is the hairy chest on a super model. It’s bizarre and beautiful, it’s unreal and fascinating . . . it’s art! Black Elk have created a monstrous epic of an album that’s haunting and horrifying, a mind fuck in so many ways . . . kind of like David Lynch at his freaky best. It defies logic, it defies reality, yet . . . at the same time, it captures reality in all of its imperfection. It’s an album of serene madness and chaotic elegance, a contrast in every conventional thought. It’s a nightmare choreographed to sound and custom made for each individual listener. I can’t listen to it at night in fear that it will awaken some ancient evil buried deep within my psyche. I must have more! - Pope
buy here: Always a Six, Never a Nine
Always A Six, Never A Nine (mp3)
buy here: Always a Six, Never a Nine
Always A Six, Never A Nine (mp3)
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Revered by many, but unknown by most, Poobah's Jim Gustafson is a guitar player who's style has morphed over the years. With the re-issue of the classic 1972 Poobah debut, Let Me In, looming in the very near future, we thought it might be nice to sit down with Jim Gustafson, the grand Poobah himself, and pick his brain a little on his approach to tackling the chores of being the band's sole six-string slinger for nearly forty years.
What made you decide to pursue playing guitar?
I saw the Beatles on TV, at a young age, and my sister and her hot friends were going crazy over them. Right then I said to myself, I want to play guitar.
How quickly did you pick up playing the guitar? Did guitar playing come naturally, or was there a struggle involved?
I learned fairly quickly, as I really was drawn to it. I would say I had some natural ability, and was able to learn things at a very quick pace. It also helped, that where I grew up, there were some excellent players I would go see live, often. You can learn so much from watching others. I do not recall any difficulty, as I would gladly grab the guitar and go for it, every day. I still love to play, and grab a guitar most every day. This really helps in the songwriting department, as ideas come when you are just messing around.
What was the first guitar you owned?
My first guitar was very hard to play. It was a cheap, unnamed brand of acoustic, with strings set far from the neck, making it hard to play. My grandmother watched me try to play it anyway, and often. After about 4 weeks, she then purchased me a really nice National red electric, and it was a totally easy guitar to play, making my learning move ahead quickly. I started out taking jazz lessons as a sight reader, and then also took a few lessons from a rock guitarist, which really sent me up the path I wanted to be on. I wanted to be able to get up on stage and rock.
What kind of gear do you use? Guitar? Amp? Effects?
I have owned close to 35 guitars, but now I prefer, Carvin, Jackson, Hamer, Peavey electrics, and Martin, and Ovation acoustic guitars. I usually use a Carvin H-2 24 fret guitar live, and in the studio. There are more brands I am interested in, but the ones I am using are good to play live and record with. I own 3 Marshall amps, a Fender, Peavey, and even an Esteban amp. On stage I prefer newer Marshall 4 channel amps, but I also love my 1974 Marshall all tube 50 watt head, and Marshall 4x12 cabinets with Celestion 75 watt speakers. I own lots of effects pedals, and use many of them to achieve some wild sounds. Morley wah pedals and volume pedals are great, and I like Dunlop tremolo, DOD flanger, Line 6 echo with looping, Boss octave divider, Tech 21 compressor/distortion, Zoom multi effects and a few others. I like to play some complicated guitar riffs, and then add some flavor with effects, here and there. My newer Marshall has effects built in, for even more flavors of sound.
Do you play in standard tuning or do you use an alternate tuning? If so, why?
In recent years, I use alternate tuning, to have a bit heavier tone, tuning down a half step. On earlier Poobah albums I was in standard tuning. I like the sound of either, depending on what type of project I will be playing on.
What piece of gear can’t you live without? What’s your “secret” weapon?
My secret weapon is my ears and hands. I feel that I can play most any guitar/amp setup , and get a pretty decent sound, as long as the gear is working properly. In fact, I love to play lots of different guitars/amps, when I can. It always gives me perspective on what someone else thought was a good setup. There is so much to learn, and so little time.
Who are your primary influences? Guitarists, musicians?
For me, the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, James Gang, King Crimson, were early influences, and then when I discovered many unusual players, meaning far from the style of the radio stars. I was and still am fond of listening to jazz, new age, and lots of technically challenging rock. Some players I like are Michael Hedges, Phil Keaggy, Steve Morse, John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and many others. So much great music to absorb. Lots of great unknown players I like, too.
When performing solos, are you aware of where you’re going or are playing purely by mood and feel?
After playing for many years, you can almost map out where you are going in your head, and hear the changes that signify a different key, or tone center. I also love to improvise, which changes the music a lot. I try to capture the feel and mood of the recording, and then make it more fun for myself, by improvising many parts on the fly. Some songs call for a close to the recorded part, and if it is a signature section, then you should play it as close to the record as possible, for the audience who wants to hear it that way.
What words of wisdom do you have for young (and old) guitar players who are just getting started?
There are so many tools out there these days for guitarists. You can learn at an incredible rate, if you have the passion. Videos, Youtube, books, all will take you to the next level fairly quickly, if you are willing to put in the practice time. If I could give advice, it would be to try to find your own sound. If you are the best at covering someone else, it may not give you your own voice. There’s no shame in being a cover artist, and probably will get you more work. However, if you want to be remembered for your music, you should try to write good songs, and strive to have your own sound and style.
Buy Let Me In here: Let Me In
Buy Let Me In here: Let Me In
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Ripple News - KIllola Partner with Aderra, Inc. to Reinvent the Capability of Physical Albums, Giving Fans an Album that Keeps on Giving
In what could signal the breaking down of the wall between artists and their fans, SoCal garage-pop rockers KILLOLA (www.killola.com) have joined forces with Aderra, Inc. (www.aderra.net) to create a multi-media, living and breathing electronic “umbilical cord” that instantly connects the creative process with the audience. Embracing USB/internet technology in a very fashion-forward manner, Killola and Aderra have introduced an immediate connection with their fans who purchase “Killola Dogtags” either from the band’s merch table while on the road or via the band’s website. While the dog tag may look like a mere trendy fan accoutrement with the band’s logo etched into the surface, it transforms into a matrix of ever-expanding music and video content when jacked into a computer.
Aderra, Inc. has been recording live concerts on USB drives for artists of all genres, such as Lady Gaga, Metallica, OK Go, The Pixies, David Guetta, Brian Wilson, and David Gray, but Killola is one of the first bands to embrace Aderra’s new PushOvr™ technology and take it even further. Instead of static MP3s and unevolving digital files that keep fans in anticipation for a band’s new album or recorded music, Killola will create a fluid and growing bridge between themselves and their fans, releasing new music and live performances AS THEY HAPPEN.
Fans who purchase the Killola USB dogtag receive not only the band’s new album, Let’s Get Associated, but also their previous studio albums (Louder! Louder!  and I Am The Messer ). In addition, when fans plug the USB drive into their computer, they also receive exclusive updates from the band including new songs, remixes, live recordings, music videos and photos. For example, once the band feels that a new song is ready to be sent to their fans, they can upload it onto their USB network, which then distributes it instantly to USB owners.
“It’s not just MP3 files on a disk,” explains Killola frontwoman Lisa Rieffel. “The USB drive is interactive. It has sounds, pages, navigation, pictures, HD videos, hidden easter-eggs, and 'living' content. You can click through the Killola USB album for a good hour, just finding stuff and geeking-out on the experience.” Planned for debut on Thursday, July 22nd is the first streaming video of a “truly” live performance, which will be broadcast simultaneously worldwide and accessible only to fans with the USB.
Let’s Get Associated will also be available via physical CD on August 10th, and digital distribution channels such as iTunes.
Friday, August 27, 2010
There are two different ways to view the blues, one is to see it as a limited musical form with only so many variations, so that when a genuinely exciting bluesman comes along, say, a Stevie Ray Vaughn or Joe Bonamassa, we end up complimenting them by degrees or on their technical veracity. The other way is to come to the blues from the emotional end, and view the 12 bar turnarounds as emotional bookends to the sorrow or lust or longing or passion of the singer. The Black Keys have been straddling this line for albums, and the reality is that very few bluesmen or women are willing to belly up to the bar and take the John Lee Hooker approach: sparse drums, unusual counts, playing behind the beat and, god help the singer, let the vocals and the guitar stand naked in space.
The Coppertone’s album Hidden Dreams takes a cue not only from John Lee Hooker but Portishead as well. Amanda Zelina’s voice, alone, has the emotional strength to stand alone in the opening tracks "Heroine" and "Nighttime Wishes," but can get placed into the maelstrom of of sound that is the fourth track, "Satisfied Mind." The drums aren’t quite John Bonham’s "When the levee Breaks", but the crunch of the guitars is utterly unexpected from the sparse blues sound of the first three tracks. Instead of pretending that the last 80 years of music hadn’t happened, Amanda elegantly, forcefully makes the case that with the blues as her base she’s going to use anything she damn well pleases for her songs.
"Heroine" opens the album, Nick Skalkos’ ambient drums shaking in the big empty room, before Amanda’s echoing voice cries out, her long vocal lines contrasting with the rhythmic guitar bouncing along, syncopated to the drums. Lacking other members to fill out the sound, we can practically hear the walls echoing their sound. And that’s the whole point. John Lee Hooker and Son House made records in shoeboxes that did nothing to take a hint of the edge off of their harrowing tales of deep south blues. In face, that ambient sound can help to define much of the sound and very few bands use it much if at all these days. Those early blues albums make you hear the room, not just the musician.
In part, Zelina’s skill at the blues lies in her influences. Hooker and Son House taught her what not to play, self evident in the restraint that she shows on the song. There is nary a note wasted and quite a few that you expect that stay in her back pocket waiting for another son
With slow rise of feedback, "7 of Spades" is practically metal filtered through the old school mike distortion once favored by Mark Sandman of Morphine. Nick’s entire drum kit is shaking providing the backbeat to Amanda’s heavy guitar riff. She teases the riff with bits of slide mixed in, something unlikely to show up in your average metal album. So much emptiness/but nothing to give/sold your soul to the devil/but you still can’t save. All the anger in the world cracks open and pours out of the wronged woman.
Hidden Dreams, a title track pushed down to the sixth track, lives and dies from the heavy backbeat, slow and steady, like a heartbeat that Amanda can sing a song of lonliness and despair over. The rhythmic touches can’t hide the heaviness of the bass here, as if Zelina has been listening to the deep depair of Robert Johnson’s thumb hitting those bass strings as the sound that grounds everything else in the world to that one thumping beat.
"Mile type of Love" takes us closer to Nashville, edging into the storytelling that has launched a thousand bumper stickers over the years. The earnestness of the love affair that might have driven Patsy Cline to tears, Amanda sings the closer to the night’s set as the love that she set free didn’t come back. So what did she do? Driven 700 miles/and picked up all the pieces/we left a long time ago. Pour another cheap beer for the drummer.
But its up to the second to last track, "Run," to fuse some of the best efforts into one beautiful dirge, the urgent tension of John Lee Hooker’s rhythms mixed with the porcelin Portishead vocals, and you have 2 minutes and 53 seconds of liquid emotion that leaves you gasping for more when it fades out. The fact that the final song, "Ramblin’," is a slide guitar drenched cover of Robert Johnson’s "Ramblin’ on my mind", should lay Zelina’s intentions laid bare. And the beauty of it is, given the high stakes gambling that she’s taking on with her influences, The Coppertones do an excellent job of ceding not a bit of ground
Its not a long record, but delicious from beginning to end, each track worth a listen. Damn but there are a lot of good bands up in Canada these days!
With a slide guitar and a bottle of bourbon – the fearless rock iguana
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Matador features 9 songs in 45 minutes and takes you on a trip through all the elements of the heaviest shit out there. Opening song “D.N.R.” starts off thrashy before morphing into some OM-ish drones. Will Fiore’s guitar is crushingly heavy but with lots of definition (Orange Thunderverb amps are awesome!). Very tall bassist Brent Anderson has a towering tone and drummer Dan Scanlan really pounds those tubs hard. It’s gotta be murder for him to be heard in their practice space with all those amps. Will and Brent share vocal duties.
“Ancient Ones” has a rocking Black Sabbath groove with some hoarse vocals that are almost black metalish in places. There’s even a tambourine in the mix. “Odyssey” is indeed a tripped out journey. Great groove and dynamics. “Trident” has some great guitar solos that remind me of the great Helios Creed. My favorite song is probably “Firewater.” It’s really tripped out. The bass and drums lay down a pretty speedy groove while all sorts of insane guitar noise is detonated on top of it. Longer songs like “Old World” and “Matador” both clock in around 7 minutes and don’t wear out their welcome. “Black Hole” is one of the faster songs and is followed up with the much slower “Odyssey II.”
Matador flows really well as an album. Play it start to finish for a very satisfying listen. The other Zoroaster music I’ve heard has had very murky production and really long songs. I’m glad they cleaned up the sound and cut some of the fat off the songs. Matador reminds me of another favorite album of 2010, Ufomammut’s Eve. Both these bands combine the heaviest of the heavy with acidic Hawkwind and Pink Floyd space jams.
Zoroaster just wrapped up a tour with Black Tusk and Dark Castle but are hitting the road again in Zeptember with Nachtmystium and The Atlas Moth. Everyone says the Zoroaster live experience is an all out assault on the senses with bright lights and a huge sound. --Woody
buy here: Matador
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Every once in a while, a band comes along that is absolutely addicting and you can’t seem to get their music out of your mind. I love unexpectedly coming across bands that turn out to be hidden gems. Such was the case when I first came across The Colourist. Last September I visited the Troubadour in Los Angeles to see The Honey Brothers, a New York new wave folk band, playing their first Los Angeles show in almost two years and the first West Coast concert with drummer Adrian Grenier, star of the hit HBO show Entourage. Finally seeing The Honey Brothers was awesome, but I was blown away by the first opening band, The Colourist, and became completely captivated by their music. Immediately I came home that night and bought their EP off iTunes. Unfortunately it got mixed up inmy iTunes Library until recently.
With an energetic and enticing female drummer, you can’t help but get a Matt & Kim vibe from Maya Tuttle as she pounds the skins on her drum kit and sings beautifully with backup vocals. Guitarist Adam Castilla commands lead vocalswhile Justin Wagner (keyboards/vocals) and Kollin Johannsen (bass/guitar) keep the band in place. The self-proclaimed Orange County “jungle rock” quartet is one of those catchy bands you can’t stop thinking about once you hear their music. Their music sweeps listeners away with their catchy choruses that take the listener on a pop melody adventure. Their Death Cab for Cutie sound is the perfect soundtrack for summertime and even better for a laid back time. They blend dance, electro-pop, rock, and folk to create a sound that is completely their own. It’s truly troublesome trying to label this band, but why does that even matter when they sound amazing?
The four song self-titled EP leads off with “Oh Goodbye,” which was nominated last year for best song at the 2009 Orange County Music Awards. Simply irresistible, you can’t help but get caught up in this song. This is one of the best pop songs I have heard in the past five years! The band blends perfectly on “Oh Goodbye” that will leave you wanting more. “Fair Weather Friends” begins with a xylophone creating a soft sound before building into a heavier sound with pounding drums and energetic guitar riffs. This song shows the diversity and potential the band has transitioning from genre to genre flawlessly. The distinguished drumming styles of Tuttle, the charisma of Castilla and the hypnotic harmonies in “Cold October” just elevate this EP to a whole new level. The EP ends with “Yes Yes” an electronic pop song that has hook, after hook leaving you singing along the entire time.
Overall, this entire EP has one hook after the other and you might even catch yourself singing the songs long after you stopped listening. The future looks bright for this unsigned band as they continue to make great music in Southern California.
buy here: The Colourist - EP
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Derek Trucks Band album "roadsongs" is Derek Truck's 2010 offering. It is a two CD, 14 track live album recorded and produced by Trucks (guitar) with Todd Smallie (bass and vocals), Yonrico Scott (drums and vocals), Kofi Burbridge (keyboards, flute and vocals) Matt Mattison (lead vocals), Count M'Butu (percussion and vocals), Mace Hibbard (tenor saxophone and horn arrangements), Paul Garrett (trumpet) and Kevin Hyde (trombone) during two April 2010 concerts at The Park West in Chicago, IL. The two CD set includes performances of six tracks of original material Trucks wrote or co-wrote ("I'll Find My Way"; "Get What You Deserve"; "Days Is Almost Gone"; "Already Free"; "Down Don't Bother Me"; and "Don't Miss Me") plus covers of Bob Dylan's "Down In The Flood"; Frank ("Toots" of Toots & the Maytals) Hibbert's "Sailing On"; Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue"; M. Smith's and J. Taylor's "I Know"; Bob Marley's "Rastaman Chant"; Big Bill Broonzy's and C. Segar's standard "Key To The Highway"; Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life Woman"; Jimi Hendrix's "Who Knows"; and Eric Clapton's and Bobby Whitlock's classic "Anyday."
The song choices are fantastic. The band is tight and each track accentuates the "Most Interesting Slide Guitar Player In The World's" chops. The Allman Brothers' influence can be heard on every track. Trucks regularly produces slide guitar music that is on par with one of the greatest slide guitarist the world has known - the late Duane Allman. The Derek Trucks Band's sound is a mash-up of the Allman Brothers sound with that of the Eric Clapton of Derek and the Dominoes era. Although Derek Trucks can, and does, play some fingerstyle guitar, this live album is about his slide guitar acumen. It is southern slide guitar bluesrock at its best with a dash of horns added for flavor.
The recording venue for this live album was intimate. According to The Park West website "Park West can hold up to 900 people for receptions and can comfortably seat groups of 100 to 700." It is this intimacy that seems to inspire the band throughout the album. The audience is awestruck, appreciative, but mixed down to be unintrusive. The recording is impeccably mastered by Dave McNair. McNair is known for mastering recordings by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lobos, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Miles Davis, Angelique Kidjo, and Kelly Willis.
I don't alway listen to new southern bluesrock slide guitar, but when I do, I choose the Derek Trucks Band "roadsongs." Stay thirsty my friends!
- Old School
Buy here: Roadsongs
Monday, August 23, 2010
Hell yes!! The words “punk rock” seems to have been absconded by just about anybody these days who fancies themselves an outsider, dropping that tagline onto their pathetic noise regardless of what the music actually sounds like. But 90% of what comes across the Ripple desk with the moniker “punk rock” to me isn’t real punk. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I was spinning Fear, Anti-nowhere League, Circle Jerks, The Damned and The Sex Pistols back in the day. So much of what comes across as “punk” is really just cleverly marketed, barely disguised, annoying whining.
Which is why The Holy Mess was such a refreshing change of pace for me. From the very first second that the needle dropped down onto the pounding cascade of drums and chaotic guitars that started “A Soulful Punk Tune . . . “ I was hooked. Here was a band that found the wormhole time-tunnel to bring back the full-on vitriol and passion of classic punk, without losing any of today’s edge and skill. Barely contained vocals and a grab-you-by-the-throat chorus really nailed this song into my cortex. This has gotta be on my list of the top ten of new punk singles of the year! Yes, why can’t they all be like this?
Having first played the disc on the b-side, I was as elated as a schoolgirl when I flipped the white vinyl platter over to discover another steaming slab of pure old school punk vibrancy. Timeless in approach, these songs could’ve been written in 1980 or anytime since. Great hooks, sloppy everything. Can’t get enough. On top of that, Evil Weevil Records did a great job with the package, with an inserted photo lyric sheet.
Besides, you gotta love any band who’s myspace address is www.myspace.com/fucktheholymess.
A while back I extolled the virtues of long-lost Seattle record label, Green Monkey Records. With renewed energy, Tom Dyer, the fearless head Monkey maniac has resurrected the label that originally ran from the mid-80’s to early 90’s. If you like classic post punk, garage rock, and random pre-grunge madness, you gotta check these guys out. Their newly released It Crawled From the Basement Anthology has to be one of my favorite re-issues of 2010.
Now, they’re coming back with some cool brand new releases, but for today’s purposes, we’re riding the Wizard’s time machine back to 1990 and this crazy white vinyl slab of near-Cramps, perfection. With a deep throated vocal riding over a demented quasi-rockabilly beat, laced with intermingling, swirling, and singing guitars, “Do it Again,” has got it all going on. Add a touch of a post-U2 pop sensibility and we’re really cooking. Just down-home, balls out fun. Flipside, “A Broken Man,” doesn’t let up long enough for a hummingbird to flap its wings. Let’s toss some vintage The Call into our reference points here and toss in some killer loose-strung, western gunfighter guitar sounds, a mild-Doors-y mid song breakdown, and you’ll get the picture.
The Life were one of the clear highlights from the It Crawled from the Basement Anthology, and this killer single only reconfirms how good these cats were. With Green Monkey back in action, I’m hoping we get some reissued The Life stuff. In the meantime, this tasty platter (on white vinyl) can still be found. Check Green Monkey Records first to see if Tom has any in his closet.
Long-time industrial rockers Filter come roaring back this month with their first new album in a while, The Trouble with Angels, and lead off with the single "The Inevitable Relapse." Originally released as a Record Store Day special, we get two versions of this mechanized assault of industrial mayhem.
Filter, at their best, could always keep up with the best of them, and with "The Inevitable Relapse" we find the band fully-tuned and running on rocket fuel. This song is a kick-ass, pulsasting, dancefloor ready slab off grinding guitars, pummeling beats, and industrial crunch. Not to be out done, the flipside strips the song down to its bare essence. If you’re a fan of NIN, this is right up your alley.
I must have been very good in a previous life. How else can I describe the embarrassment of riches that Postman Sal slogged into Ripple North when the same package that brought the fresh true-punk sounds of The Holy Mess also brought the post-post punk treat that is Frontier(s)?
Leading up their debut full-length release There Will Be No Miracles Here, this juicy platter just screams to be heard. Bringing on a kinda post-Husker Du tuneful hardcore, mixed with indy rock, jangling guitars, and more than a little bit of the old Enigma Label chutzpa, Frontier(s) have crafted two serious cuts of brimming post-hardcore rock.
Featuring Chris Higdon, formerly of Elliot and Falling Forward, Frontier(s) cranks out two truly strong tracks of emotive, churning post-punk bliss. "The Plains" rides its reverb/feedback intro into a solid wall of guitars and pulsating bass lines. Drums dot the atmosphere like hail falling from a darkened heavy and pregnant sky. Higdon’s vocals, breathy, throaty, and raw work like a charm, deepening the emotional resonance of the song. "Radiomine" is more of a hallucinogenic, shoegazing trip through emotive lanes of post hardcore soul-searching. Walls of churning guitars crash against each other like waves of a turbulent ocean. Think of something like The Velvet Underground for a modern generation and you won’t be too far off.
Can’t wait for the album to come out.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Joining us today, are Aaron (guitar) and Gad (vocals) to enlighten us on all things Behind the Sun.
When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
Gad: One epiphany moment would surely be the first time I heard The Beatles - Revolver on the old stereo, on vinyl, with the headphones on my head. And the following shock waves - The Doors, The Who, Zeppelin, Mad Season, Tool, Opeth and Pearl Jam
Aaron: I would have to say the first time I heard Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. I think I was 17. I was like "what the [expletive] is THIS??? What I am hearing here??? Is this even LEGAL??? It was like nothing else I'd ever heard.
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?
Aaron: I read an article once about Jimi Hendrix where his producer said when Jimi wrote the music first the songs were awesome and when he wrote the lyrics first it was incredibly hard after that to fit the ideas into a song format. I find that this is a very common problem. The music tends to suggest the lyrics but not the opposite. So I almost always start with a riff or two --- then I look for a clever line to put in the chorus and go from there. We wrote and rewrote the lyrics to our song "The Professionals" from the album 3 or 4 times, keeping only the chorus from draft to draft. As heavy or convoluted as some of the riffs may be, I'm a big believer in a catchy chorus and title.
Gad:For me, getting to know a new word or a new phrase in English will sometimes spark an idea or better say - will be the missing piece in a puzzle that's been laying in my head.Other than that, when I find myself traveling across the country, mostly to remote and unfamiliar locations, I get inspiration from the sights, the people and the colors.
Aaron: Almost all of my ideas come from current events and relationships with people in my life. Although I am writing a song for the NEXT album about Brian Wilson which I think is going to be pretty crazy.
Your music seems to very deeply reflect the area where you live, can you talk to us about that?
Gad:Naturally, our music will reflect what we experience in this turmoiled region. We find it hard to write without what's weighting on our hearts and minds finding it's way into the music and the lyrics. we try to avoid dealing with the politics, not only because we all have different point of view on how the problems can be solved, but mostly because we're trying to end songs with a more optimistic message...
Aaron: I have to say there's a lot of pessimism and cynicism in the lyrics I wrote but that may be more of personal problem...
Gad: Another way for us to try and deal with the problems of this region, is to go back to the old stories of this great country and draw inspiration and guidance from past victories and failures.
Aaron: I can tell you that Gad's song "15th dawn" is about his reserve duty in the army and "Wishful Thinking" was inspired by the incredibly stupid leadership this country had at the time of the 2nd Lebanon War. After that it gets more abstract but the influence of the middle east is in there.
What is your musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?
Gad:It depends. If it's a personal song, a song that deals with relationships, friends and life in general - It's more of a sharing-the-experince kind of thing - "here's what I feel/think about what's probably going on with your life too".When the song's more about failing rulers or anti-war, we're trying to pass a different message to whomever's listening, whether the listener's from Israel or not from around - let's learn some lessons learned with pain and suffer, let's do this differently.
In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?
Aaron: I usually bring in riffs for a verse and chorus to the band and then we figure out where we want to take it. Sometimes we change the tempo completely and go off in a different direction entirely. I'm a big believer in keeping the big themes simple in terms of music and lyrics because I think it has more of a powerful impact. That said, time changes can bring a bit of spice to the music and grab the listener and demand his or her attention for a particular section or transition. I also like odd time signatures because they can instill a unusual feeling in the audience, like the 5/4 time in the verses of "Still" for example. The beginning and end of "Wishful Thinking" also involve some unusual time signatures, which I think pushes the listener off balance a bit and gives a feeling of being on a lurching cruise ship. At least that's how I was feeling that day.
How's the Israeli music scene?
Gad:First of all, it's important to say we do have a very vibrant and various music scene here. Besides the local oriental Mediterranean music and pop music, there are 2 major scenes in the Israeli rock - metal and indie.
The Israeli metal scene is full of good bands, some are around for quite a while now (Salem, Orphaned Land and Almana Sh'chora/"Black Widow") and some are not active for that long but are doing quite well such as The Fading that won the 2009 Waken Festival battle of the bands and Betzefer (signed with Roadrunner records). Without a doubt, the biggest, most successful representative from this scene would be Orphaned Land. They are signed up with Century Media and they're playing the biggest metal festivals all over he world.
Israeli indie rock has it's fair share of successful bands/artists but it's a more .... indie success. Names such as Asaf Avidan & the Mojos, Rockfour, Eatliz and Izabo have all enjoyed some success in and outside of Israel.
As a result, we have 2 kind of festivals, metal or indie, all year around.
Aaron: I love Israeli music (Infectzia, Barry Saharov, Arik Einstein, Shalom Hanoch, Amir Benayoun) but sadly I don't think it has any influence at all on what I'm writing. I didn't grow up on Israeli rock like the rest of the band. My mother was listening to the most commercial and banal Israeli pop when I was a child and I preferred Iron Maiden and Metallica.
Aaron: We had a bass player who was in another band at the same time and we both booked shows on the same day. He was supposed to play with his other band hours before our show but of course there was a delay and he only made it to the end of our set. But the show must go on so we borrowed a bass from the opening band and passed it around each song between myself and the other lead guitarist each song trading off who was playing the bass. It required some setlist and mental gymnastics. By some chance, we spotted our ex-bass player in the audience also and we also brought him on stage to play a song with us.
There's that and also a near riot we played to at a poorly organized "co-existence" festival in Lod. The show was put on in a vacant lot in a run-down area of the city not far from the most notorious open air drug markets in the country. Some kids in the audience of thousands of impatient locals tried to rush the stage causing problems for the acts playing. Some other friendly people in the crowd lit dumpsters on fire to show their appreciation. The band before us had some not so wonderful things to say about the police and the country in general. So by the time it got around to our slot the police decided to shut down the show and disperse the crowd. Not sure we would've survived that one anyway so maybe its for the best. Needless to say we haven't been invited back to Lod.
What makes a great song?
Gad:A well balanced mixture of sweeping energetic music, a chorus filled with hooks and mind grabbing lyrics
Aaron:You should feel like you are somewhere else... someone else. you are telling a story (or reporting a story maybe). Even if its an instrumental. Stravinsky was telling a story too without words. (OK he had ballet dancers. We don't have that kind of a budget here.)
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
Aaron:The first song I ever wrote that got played by a band I was in was called 1984. I think I had just read the novel in class in 7th grade. Maybe it wasn't the most original song (or title, or concept) but it was very encouraging to play a song you wrote in front of an audience. Even if they had no idea what the hell the singer was singing.
Gad:So far I can only speak lyrics wise. The first song I wrote for the band (and made it in) was a song called "Sunflower". The song sort of portrayed my desire or my efforts to get the best out of close people when you know they have a lot more to offer, a much bigger potential. I was so proud when it got Aaron's care musically.
We played Sunflower live for a while but looking back at it, the song wasn't *that* good....I guess it was more of a stepping stone for us on our way to writing, arranging and executing better songs.
Gad: I can't really put my finger on a specific song (again, I'm only speaking lyrics-wise). I'm proud of any of the songs I wrote that made it in and are still being played by the band, just as I'm proud of any of the songs we play in general, where I feel I contributed a little bit to it's progress with a vocal line or with a little part for an instrument.
One particular example which I still remember with a lot of joy is the time we played "Strong Wind", at the time still a "regular" song, in a rehearsal and I started "stretching" the lines, to ease some of the tension. It almost immediately resulted in the song turning into a jam and made it easier to turn it into a platform in which we could show our love for jam-rock (Dead, Phish, Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers)
Aaron: I'm very proud of my guitar solos in "Still" and "Strong Wind". For years I was the "rhythm guitar" player until my good friend Assaf pushed me in the direction of writing and playing leads. I'm still light years behind Assaf but I like to think I am at least moving in the right direction.
Who today, writes great songs? Why?
Gad: Music-wise, I can think of a few bands/artists that really caught my ear -
Jack White with the Racontures - Jack White, in general, is a very talented musician but his work with the Racontures really stands out in my mind. Though his feet stand firmly in the muddy banks of the delta blues, he somehow found the way to reach all the way to 2000's and with lots of catchy melodies and real passion in his singing and guitar playing - he won me over. The Racontures's 2nd album is really awesome.
Josh Homme - Whether with QOTSA, Kyuss, Desert Sessions or the latest outfit The Crooked Vultures - Homme always finds the twisted, interesting way to introduce you into his vision of how rock music should sound.
Mikael Åkerfeldt/Opeth - with memorizing melodies, vocal harmonies, beloved progressive parts and highly executed music in general were the first to open up a bridge for me to cross into heavy metal, heavier than I ever listened to before.
Lyrics wise I always thought Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder write beautiful songs. so far, minus Cornell's "Scream" material, they hardly ever failed to deliver the goods.
Aaron: Most of the music I listen to is from about 1950 (dawn of cool jazz and bebop) - 1980 (the end of the road for most progressive rock and 60s bands) but of the "new" music I'd agree with Gad about Opeth. I also like Hiromi (Japanese piano phenom). She just made an album with Stanley Clarke who I loved in Return to Forever. Strangely the "new" music I listen to is usually metal so I'd say Tool, Mastodon, Opeth ...
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Gad: Spin the black circle! :-)
Aaron: I understand the vinyl concept as a purer analog wave. On the other hand, why buy a vinyl record of an album which was recorded using ProTools and take it home and play it on your dinky record player which your Grandma threw out in 1965? I suspect that there's a huge nostalgia factor or a hipness factor there. On the other hand there is an advantage to playing the cd and not mp3 which is I tend to think the CD format encourages you to listen to the entire album in order as the artist intended. Nobody really uses the random function on a single cd player, do they?
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?
Gad:Where I live (Rehovot, about 20 km south of Tel Aviv) there aren't many record stores and only one store ("Panica") you can maybe lose youself in if you're into vinyls like me but in Tel Aviv you can for sure lose youself looking for goodies in the 3rd Ear store ("Ha'ozen Hashlishit").
Aaron: I'm very impressed by Ktzat Acheret ("a little different") in Tel Aviv on Frishman St and also the Metal Shop on the same street a few doors down. 3rd Ear is great too.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Gad:Don't ever put aside your instrument/iPod/mp3 player/cd player/record player. Let music blow your mind and take you places. Always look for the next band/artist that will excite you and support them.
Aaron: Don't be afraid to edit and revise your music, lyrics, and yourself.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The Ripple Effect is growing so big, so fast, there simply is no way for us to keep up with all the quality music that comes in. Our poor little staff of Racer, Pope, Woody, and Old School -- aided and abetted on occasion by Iggy and Birdman-- have got stacks upon stacks upon stacks of great music to write about. And now they could use just a little help.
Yep, the Ripple needs to expand and we've got openings for one or two more writers. We'd love someone who has a mind for lots and lots of metal. We mean heavy, dirty, deathy, blacky metal. We could also use a great mind who loves emo, electro, and indy pop. If it happens that both those minds are in the same person, then so much the better.
So, if you'd like to write about music, get lots of free music to review, and have your column syndicated across everything from GuitarWorld Magazine's website to USAToday, let us know. We can't pay ya, other than in good music, lots of love, and a lifetime membership in the Ripple gang.
All it takes is a desperate passion for music and the desire to tell people about it. As fun as the gig is, we'll only take people with a serious commitment to listening and writing. Nothing half-assed about the Ripple.
Send in a writing sample about an album you love, 5 or 6 paragraphs. Tell us why you love it, how it makes you feel and why the rest of the world should care. Create some ripples.
That's what we do here at the Ripple Effect. Create some ripples.
Harajuku! fashion is all about celebrating a love of Japan, being creative and mixing together different styles and influences, and has proved to be incredibly popular internationally. The fashion element is also a potent theme with the event fast becoming a key stop for a number of the freshest London designers. Party goers mix together different styles and influences and the competition for the best dressed character is fierce. Some characters dress up as idols from Anime, Movie while others focus on the looks of Gothica or Lolita.
The event has already gained a reputation with gaming communities as a great place to meet, socialise and play. At the new location, Harajuku! will be an even better experience as the night will benefit from its own Gaming Zone. Camden gamers will be able to choose from the large variety of PS3 and Wii games to play on the large screen including Xbox Rock Band, or bring their own handheld consoles to play in their own private area.
Manga aficionados will also have their own zone in one of themed ex-horse hospital stables, with screenings of Manga and Animee all night. Other themed zones include the BYODJ, featuring a bring your own MP3 player listening party, to share the best recommendations of Jpop with others and get new tips. This is not to mention the Karaoke Zone where attendees can party in true Japanese style!
There are various co promoters and Japanese event organisers involved including the DS Lite Group for handheld gaming, Teracotta Film who will be playing clips from their latest film 'Big Tits Zombie' in 3D as well as providing prizes for the Best Dresser Cosplayer! There are also London groups such as London Alternative and the Harajuku and Cosplay group involved.
Event Page: http://harajuku.criminalrecords.cc
More Event Info: http://events.criminalrecords.cc/harajuku_cosplay.html
Facebook Invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=14377148564935
THE KUT, are the show headliners. An all female dark indie rock band, who have been making waves in the UK and beyond, The Kut have already been reviewed as “the best all female band the UK has ever produced”. Currently in the studio recording their debut album, 'Lies My Mother Told Me' for release late this year, expect sultry vocals, kick ass guitar solos, strong songs and powerful melodies. Rave reviews all round make The Kut a must see band in 2010. http://www.myspace.com/thekutgirlsrock
M-TIGERS TAEKWONDO PERFORMANCE
Expect a spectacular performance of Martial Arts at its best, from London’s favourite multi-arts fighting group.
CAPELLE a hard rocking combo who came to prominence at the O2 Undiscovered competition. Combining over-driven '60s inspired Rock with tinges of Electro and Hip Hop, Capelle master a unique sound that will get melodists and headbangers all united in one big party.
IRAQ, a female fronted indie pop band, with hints of Morrisey and charming 80's swagger.
MATANIU, an 8-piece experimental combo which showcases an amazing variety of sounds and influences that create the perfect backing for the unique songwriting and amazing vocal abilities of singing goddess Mataniu.
FUZZ VALENTINE,a three piece fuzz-infected indie band from London, who combine boyish wonder with skittish pop music. Their single 'Far' received extensive airplay on London's Xfm. Get ready for a treat!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Abigail’s Ghost should have been formed a generation ago, following hard on the heels of noisemeisters like Nine Inch Nails and Curve, but there is a gap of 12 or 13 years before the guitar and powerhouse drumming sound of Abigail's Ghost came along as the natural followup. The bastard stepchildren of King Crimson’s love for unusual chord changes but with a love for the ‘90’s noise, the make a noble effort to combine both.
Abigail’s Ghost second album, d_letion, is a sonic battering ram. Expertly mixed the band turns in a killer opening track that lays down their intentions, with a guitar fuzz that morphs into a hard riffing song about an obsession that might be love or might be hate. Does it matter at a certain point? You can try to downplay me/But I’ll never go away/I’m getting close to breaking through/In spite of what you say/It’d be best to recognize/That I’m not afraid to put you on display The break moving into a sledgehammer of guitars with deliciously atonal solo from the Berkelee Graduate Lead guitarist Joshua Theriot.
Black lace wears its breathy sexuality on its sleeve. The New Orleans based Theriot sings about the rich girl that we’ve all seen: Prada boots and prescription pills/Born and raised in the Hollywood hills/She’s daddy’s little girl/Not a care in the world/With a trust fund paying the bills. But it’s the swirling break that catapults the song from its echoing arpeggios onto the edge of a dangerous cliff. "Sneak Peek" takes much the same approach, a beautiful lipstick tinged love letter from the stalker to the stalked. But, smartly, after bringing the hammer down on so many songs, "Sneak Peek" keeps its tension, never finding its sonic orgasm.
"Romantique Life" is my favorite track, the band, which has members living in two different cities, makes good use of sonic space, pounding the guitar intro into our brains before choking it off and using a moving, dancing bass line under the lyrics: Take a trip inside my head/Taste the fruit that makes me dead/A simple drug is a simple fix/And an amateur way for you to get your kicks. When the chorus finally comes in, the guitar returns, with a complicated riff out Living Colour’s impossible-to-play "babigails ghost". The echo drenched solos stretches from "Bridge of Sighs" to "Cult of Personality."
"Cinder Tin" combines the beauty of the velvet glove that Abigail’s Ghost loves to wield. The expertly controlled drumming of John Rodrigue and sonic landscape controlled by keyboardist Brett Guillory makes this the soundtrack of a movie that you’ve never seen but know by heart. By the time that Joshua Theriot and rhythm guitarist Randy LeBoeuf kick it in, they’ve highjacked the romantic thriller into Terminator-land with Theriot firing off a precise flurry of notes on a high speed solo.
"Gemini Man" makes some deeper statements about male identity that would seem out of place on an album like this, but they show Theriot and LeBoeuf digging a little deeper than the Bourbon Street beads. He’s someone to question/Who he wants to be/Decent family man/Or an absentee/All these lives put on a shelf/Compromise the one he’s made himself.
"Easy A" follows the album into the realm of unloosened sexuality, the anxious student, offering her self, seducing the teacher, who happens to be female as well. The carnival sideshow of mirror that highjacks the second half of the song may well as be the musical orgasm that was missing from "Sneak Peek". The most telling line of the song is the final one. After the seduction has succeeded, there is a knock at the door.
"Grave Concerns" closes out the album, a guitar player’s love of intertwining lines and notes. One can imagine Abigail’s Ghost Theriot and LeBoeuf figuring out the delicate fingerpicking over beers late at night and creating a beautiful two minute and twenty five second coda to an album of high powered and mood drenched rock.
Abigail’s Ghost second album is a winner and worth playing at high volume for its clarity of recording. Not a note gets missed.
Ready to head down to Bourbon Street himself – the fearless rock iguana
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Dark Ages starts off with some nicely distorted tremolo guitar on the 8 minute saga of “Stressed Elephant.” Slow and plodding like an actual elephant and just as heavy, the song goes through some complex tempo changes and blazing solos. Bison often gets compared to Mastodon and this song bears a strong resemblance, but they still have their own identity. “Fear Cave” is reminiscent of High On Fire, another band Bison gets compared to a lot. That means this song is really heavy. “Melody, This Is For You” is another 8 minute one with lots of Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy influences. The beginning has some really nice production values. Acoustic guitars that sound like tiny rubber bands, huge booming drums and a totally filthy bass sound before the band comes in with a pummeling riff
“Die Of Devotion” is a doomy one like something off the first Trouble record and is followed up with by the all out thrasher “Take The Next Exit.” “Two Day Booze” is not a good song to listen to with a hangover. Learn from my mistake. The album finishes up with the 7 minute “Wendigo Pt. 3 (Let Him Burn)” that features an acoustic guitar and piano. After about a minute and a half the band crashes in with a giant riff and some nice tripped out wah wah guitar.
Bison are a very tight band. At the live show, young drummer Brad Mackinnon really hammered his drums but maintained a crushing groove with bassist Masa Anzai. Vocal duties are shared by guitarists James Farwell and Dan And (no relation to Johnny Winter And). They scream, grunt and groan a lot but never veer into cookie monster territory. Dark Ages is a great metal album. It’s only fitting that it’s out on Metal Blade Records since there’s a lot of Slayer, Trouble and Voivod in this band. Play loud, bang hard. That is all.
Buy here: Dark Ages
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I was 16. Fiat keys hot in my hands and a brand new pioneer tape deck in the dashboard. I remember it as if it was yesterday, driving down the twisting, back-country road from my girlfriend's house towards the high school, Tom Petty singing out the soundtrack to my life.
Tom Petty has been around for so long, and produced such a consistently strong catalog of music that it's terribly easy to take him for granted. But we shouldn't do that. At the very least, Petty and his remarkably tight backing unit, the Heartbreakers, produced some of the most classic, pure rock songs of the late '70's and early 80's. In truth, Petty is much more than that and just may well be one of the best songwriters of his generation. Capable of pulling out a seemingly endless stream of perfect melodies, and capable of crafting a body of work that is entirely his and his alone.
Emerging during the punky/heady days of 1976, Petty initially got lumped into the punk crowd, with his jangling guitars, punky energy, stonesy swagger, and urgent vocal style. I remember clearly the first time I heard "Breakdown," and falling in love immediately with the 'difference' of it all. It sounded nothing like the Kiss or Aerosmith albums I was digging, yet is was so much more familiar to me than The Ramones or New York Dolls or Iggy. But Petty never was punk. Coming from the deep south of Gainseville, Fla, Petty combined the rootsy drive of the Stones with the southern soul of his roots, tossed in some jangly Byrds-esque Rickenbacker, and drove the whole shebang home with his impassioned vocals and intense energy.
Still, his first two albums only found moderate success, and by the time his third album was due to be recorded, Petty and his Heartbreakers felt they were ready for a breakthrough. An album to push them over the top. Their producer, Jimmy Iovine believed in them. Engineer Shelly Yakus brought a new sound to them.
And with Damn the Torpedoes, Petty delivered the songs.
As with all the chapters of the Classic Albums series, this DVD set really is the definitive look back at one of the all-time classic albums of American rock. Merging interviews with the band, Iovine, and Yakus, this DVD brings a totally new and fresh glimpse into the making of this iconic album. The struggles within the band, the legal problems the band faced. They're all here, but there is so much more.
One thing that comes across so screamingly loud and clear is just how virtuostic and talented the Heartbreakers were. It's not by chance that Petty kept them around for his entire career. In Mike Campbell, Petty had found a true guitar god, who manages to bring a sound that is so totally his alone to the proceedings without ever overplaying the song. As with all the Heartbreakers (and Petty himself) Campbell is massively under-rated as a guitarist. But few musicians are able to define a sound so distinctly their own as to be instantly recognizable. Campbell is one. Listening to him describe how the power of "Even the Losers," made a single string guitar solo sound weak, so he crafted the perfect solo playing two strings simultaneously just turned the light on my respect bulb for the guy.
Benmont Tench is another irreplaceable component of the Heartbreakers sound. Listening to him (and the others) describe the subtle intricacies of the album, the complexity of the arrangements, the thought that went into each passage, each song, each verse, brings brand-new respect for the creative process. As with all the Heartbreakers, under-rated in his virtuosity.
As usual, the best passages tend to occur when all the guys are gathered around the mixing board, discussing the various sounds they strove for. Dropping the knobs down to the left, bringing them up to the right, I felt like I was being completely educated into the mysteries of recording. The lucky breaks, the freak coincidences and the pure unadulterated genius. It's like a crash course for the uninitiated in record producing. A treasure of lessons, ideas, and facts.
Of course none of this would mean anything if the music wasn't so good. But damn, it is. Damn the Torpedoes holds up today just as strongly as it did back then. In fact, to my ears it sounds even better today. Perhaps it's just that I listen to music with a different appreciation now than I did as a hormone-driven teenager with a wobbly Fiat and a couple of blown speakers.
"Refugee," is truly a great American rock song, but the rest also sound so fresh. "Century City, " with it's powerpop drive. "What are You Doing in My Life," with it's adrenalinized venom. The languid daze of "Louisiana Rain." The majestic pop perfection of "Here Comes my Girl." And the singing-my-grand-theme-song "Even the Losers," sounding just as revelatory as ever. And then to find out that Petty made up the choral line "Baby, even the losers, get lucky some time," in a spur of the moment, top-of-his head, spontaneous moment of pure creation just boggles the mind.
Damn the Torpedoes is a timeless statement of pure rock and roll craft. An iconic album. One that has stood the test of time and will continue to for years to come. Any fan of Petty, classic rock, or the history of recording, mixing, and crafting a perfect album should not miss this one. ---Racer
Buy here: Tom Petty - Classic Albums: Damn the Torpedoes
Tom Petty - Classic Albums: Damn the Torpedoes [Blu-ray]