Monday, January 31, 2011

Roadsaw - S/T

This is an album that had to be made, and Roadsaw was just the band to do it.

Let me explain.  Every week it seems, around the Ripple HQ, Pope and I get into a fevered conversation about how America is poised to embrace real rock again.  With the schmaltz producers running out of retreads to retread, it seems that there’s a burning for something honest, something raw, something real.  Along those lines,  Small Stone, with its stellar line-up of bands like Lo-Pan, Sun Gods in Exile, and Suplecs, leads the way, and others like Hydro-Phonics, Tee-Pee, and even our own label, Ripple Music, with bands like Stone Axe, Grifter, Mighty High and Iron Claw, are poised and ready to pounce at a moment’s notice to unleash a fury of real rock onto the world.  Satisfying the hunger, feeding the craving.

But before that can happen, we need a bridge album.  An album fully steeped in the heaviness, grittiness, and muscle of real rock, but crafted with such a perfect eye for melody and--dare I say it—pop hooks, that it can capture the general public’s ears.  Threatening and, oh so violent, but deep in its melody, refined in its choruses, and smooth as an iced road in a Boston winter.  Dirty, but clean enough to actually break onto the airwaves.

Roadsaw have delivered such an album, and it’s a corker.

I was a big fan of See You In Hell, their 2008 album which I immediately placed on to my best of list for that year.  Expect to find the self-titled Roadsaw on this year’s list. 

Don’t let any mention of that awful P-word (pop) dissuade you from spinning this beast.  And I do mean beast.  Roadsaw hangs deep in the water of heavy like an overburdened barge weighed down under the immensity of its riffs.  Fuzz, power, gruff, it’s all here.  But so is something else.  I don't mean "pop" in the sense of sell-out.  Heaven forbid!  I mean "pop" in the sense of a killer accessibility, pop in the sense that you could play this album for someone who isn't already addicted to heavy rock and within moments you could get his head doing the man nod and her ass doing the feminine groove.

Since their last album, the cats of Roadsaw (founding members, Tim Catz (bass) and Craig Riggs (vocals), and guitarist Ian Ross and drummer Jeremy Hemond (also of Cortez and Black Thai) have matured as straight-forward songwriters in some sort of exponential way, allowing space to creep into their songs, passages of subtlety, even moments of jazzy breeziness, all layer upon some seriously catchy riffs and H1N1-infectious melodies.   The whole package just screams "we’re still heavy folks, fuck we’re heavy, but we’re so much more than that."

With rock radio caught in a chasing-their-own-tailspin, salivating at the return of Velvet Revolver, or AudioslaveCreedAlterBridgeNickleBoringSomething, this is the album that should creep into the playlists.  Like a midnight stalker, sneaking into the bedroom of the unsuspecting, Roadsaw should insinuate itself onto the airwaves.  Get the nation rocking again.

From the first cut, we’re off and running.  “Dead and Buried,” features a simply filthy guitar tone with its edges totally obscured by fuzz. Yet, somehow, it’s still clean at its heart.  The riff repeats and builds on itself in a fashion not too dissimilar from “Daytripper,” by the Beatles . . .  er . . . that is if the Beatles never shaved, tattooed skulls on their deltoids, and draped their brass-knuckled fingers around the handles of a Harley.  Still, the point is there.  As heavy as that riff is, it’s still totally accessible.  Add to that a thick, but melodic vocal performance by Riggs, and a chorus that should have every trucker singing as they head out I-10 and we got ourselves a candidate for our first heavy radio hit.   “Weight in Gold,” fuzzes the tone even more and ups the adrenaline a thousand fold, coming at you like some Feurezeug attack.  This is a fuzz-punk assault all the way through the impossibly scuzzed Ross guitar solo to its defining moment, 2:36 in.  Sudden tempo change, bass and drum lock into a groove that wouldn’t be out of place in a late night underground beat club, while the guitar squeaks through a tastefully frenetic flurry.  Then the riff heaviness comes back, leading right into the monster blitz of “Thinking of Me,” and again, we’re off and running.  Heavy? Oh, yeah.  But clear enough that this cut should appeal to anyone listening to The Boneyard on XM and wanting to hear something new.  Once again, Riggs outdoes himself on the vocal here, keeping it thick-throated, but accessible. 

“Long in the Tooth,” follows suit, marrying devastatingly heavy riffs, panzer-division bass, and Stuka attack drumming with a melody sweet enough to suck in the ears of the uninitiated.  Add a cool southern swagger to the vocal and we got radio hit number 2.  My choice for number 3 is “The Getaway,” which rides a frenetic riff straight down the throat of its knock-em-out chorus. 

Sure, some fans of only the heaviest and skuzziest history of Roadsaw might feel that the album is a touch too polished.  The impossibly slow and epic, “Electric Heaven,” may appease them a touch, with its Clutch-meets Sabbath bad trip vibe.  But this album isn’t about appeasing the old fans.  It’s about breaking ground with the new ones.  Keeping the past alive while screaming and kicking the masses in the teeth.   It’s about breaking new ground in the acceptance of the heavy and tilting the planetary axis a bit towards the equator of real rock.

It’s an album that had to be made, and Roadsaw was just the band to do it.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Sunday Conversation with Grammy Nominated World Music Performer Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon

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 epiphanies since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

A few different epiphanies at different stages of my life….that I remember enough to comment on…I grew up in a little simple town in India with a radio which played all kinds of  Indian music only – with two  channels - except on Saturday nights from 9-30 -11pm – a program called  Listeners’  Choice with only English pop songs.  I did not own a tape recorder to tape anything, or a turntable so I learnt all these songs by ear... I was in love with those Saturday nights

These were some of my hot favorites then…

Tom Jones’ Delilah – in my early teenage years –love, longing;

Dean Martin Sway – hearing a beautiful rhumba for the first time in my life and getting chills at the melody of the beat

The Seekers – (the Australian Group)( gerogy Girl, Morning Town ride)

I watched WOODSTOCK in a continuous show theater in Chennai for three days (4 shows each)...that is twelve times over two weeks…

I also sang many hymns, spirituals, marching songs and national songs as I studied in a Catholic Convent school..

Then came French music when I was learning French at the Alliance Francaise…

Les feuilles mortes (autumn leaves in French) and songs of Enrico macias (Paris tu m’as pris dans tes bras and fifty others) and Francoise Hardy (tous les garcons); Ne me quitte pas (if you go away)...Jacques Brel...when I shivered feeling the poetry and romance in French music- I sang them in many local performances often not fully understanding the meaning

The teenage and 20s my obsessions – I cried, I laughed, I imagined, I dreamed to these albums and groups

The Beatles – all songs, but the White Album – my constant companion for two years

Roberta Flack – Killing me softly /Quiet Fire (first time I ever saw your face; Will you still love me tomorrow)

Crosby Stills Nash and Young

Moody Blues

Full circle...back to Indian music and rigorous rigorous classical training again with the best masters of Indian music-every great you can name Jasraj, Sahasrabuddhe, MS Subbalakshmi, Vijay Kichlu, T Viswanathan, and of course my master teacher Pandit Girish Wazalwar

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?

For both my CDs, I literally woke up at 3 in the morning with the song and the music playing in my head...I groggily went to my instruments, and my keyboard and started singing them in whatever outline was coming to me..With my trusted tape recorder running...I think I recorded 5 or 6 tracks in outline form...then when I was awake, I called my teacher in India and sang some of the outlines to him as I wanted feedback..

Over the next few weeks and months I polished them, fussed with them, sang it to different people and created a final version…

I then sat with my instrument arranger to discuss what should be the kind of sound I was hearing for it...and then let him run with an initial version…

For example in track 8...I was only hearing guitars and violins...i was thinking of Malaguena and hava nagila and various other I was composing in this classically rigorous Indian scale!

Who has influenced you the most?

Given how far ranging my musical tastes and influences are, there really is not one person; I hear music everywhere ,in everything, every moment – consciously and unconsciously..

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

When I am in deep meditation, my mind is clear, and I am not “trying to compose” I hear the almost composes itself... In fact I was “trying’ to compose something else when SOUL CALL happened!

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

I really consider my music an Indian raga based world album with a universal healing chant that I hope will cross all boundaries and connect everyone in a circle of love…

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

I hope the music will break down every one’s boundaries and barriers and enable each one take a journey into themselves, to reach their own innermost grace...and as they do that, they can then radiate it to every one they touch…that is my prayer…

Another key goal of mine is that music should be a shared celebration…I made it simple enough so that everyone can sing along -

What makes a great song?

Music that lets you feel something deeper than you normally feel

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I have been writing rhyming poetry since I was in first grade and singing them to common tunes...the first serious song I wrote was a song about the power and grace of a woman – in English and Sanskrit...I am compiling some of these in one of my upcoming albums…

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

To be honest, I feel little ownership of came together with so many people working to make it beautiful – my teachers who commented on my compositions, my musical arranger who brought some of the best musicians of india to play on the tracks; the recording engineers in India and NY that took it on as a labor of love…so in a sense this belongs to many people…

I am happiest that so many people are being moved and are so openly and continuously sharing their feelings on face book and in hundreds of mails to me…I am happy that with no radio play we today debuted at no 11 on Billboard World music Charts and have been on the top of ITunes and Amazon at times…so something is happening which is beyond my limited comprehension….

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

I can’t even begin to answer this question – too many great ones, and the songs are more direct and more explicit now…and touch some raw spots... Also, being of a certain age, I am still stuck on some of the old writers…so I get my “ass kicked “all the time!

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

I am the world’s best crate digger…and can give you this info for many great cities in this world, as I have spent hours doing this, and still do. Music World, landmark – are the big outlets in Chennai, India. The Indian film industry produces thousands of films each year and each film has 5-8 the inventory is ever changing…and world pop is hot as is classical music…

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Open your ears open your minds and open your hearts – you never know what senses your waves may ride on; you might be surprised at what you might experience…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ektomorf – Redemption

Every barroom brawl should be so lucky.

When barstools go flying through the air, bodies topple over beer laden tables, and wild haymakers are thrown at lunkheads who think themselves man enough to take the eventual blow, one doesn’t want to hear the dreaded drawling croon of a country western singer. No . . . barroom brawlers don’t want to get down in their funky violent way with a soundtrack more suited for drinking whiskey, bedding livestock, or hanging oneself. Barroom brawlers want to break shit and break shit good! And what music is better fit for such revelry? Anything from the catalog of Ektomorf. Go back to my review from August of 2009 in regards to the bands album What Doesn’t Kill Me, get into some fisticuffs and tell me that didn’t feel right. Now, I have something possibly even better . . . the latest from Ektomorf, a sonic dance of malevolence called Redemption.

Folks, Redemption is one brutal piece of music. Sitting in a darkened office, brooding about a new diet fueled by lack of funds, spinning this new disc . . . I found by blood pressure build beat after beat, measure after measure, venom infused vocal line after another, until I was in the foulest of mood and ready to shut that kid up from across the street once and for all. I mentioned in a past review that I could feel this bands bitterness, their anger, their injustices as if they were my own, which is a truly rare quality in music. Nothing has changed in that regard. Redemption is jam packed with violent tones, dense guitars forming the walls to Farkas Zoltan’s foundation of pain and hatred. And within all of this bitterness, there’s a message of strength overcoming the bullshit and getting through life scarred, in multiple pieces, but still alive.

Naturally, the opening track acts as a lead track should. It gets the listeners attention by socking them in the face, and then once the listener is distracted by the circling birdies, the band socks them once again. “Last Fight” is a detuned beast that chugs and grooves its way into the blood stream, infecting the listener with its destructive disease, making said listener convulse with this otherworldly possession until they too become a being of ultra-violence. And here’s the wrinkle . . . Ektomorf slip in interesting little passages this time around to break up the one-dimensionality of the last record. Kudos on this point. No more a mindless beatdown, now things become more thought out and premeditated, which is always good for an extended stay in the local prison system.

The title track and “I’m In Hate” follow suit, throbbing, pulsating groove metal numbers that continue the barroom brawl to the point where the little fillies are busting glass mugs over the heads of the combatants. But it’s “God Will Cut You Down” that acts as the culmination of all the ill will that has been growing from the first three tracks. All of three minutes long and I feel like I’ve lived a full life of violence! This tune is flat out brutal . . . heavy as a Sherman tank, dense as a wall of lead, immediate and intense, I think I found the perfect track to usher in the apocalypse. And it’s not just all of these traits that make this song so absolute . . . it’s what Ektomorf do with the dynamics. A small break at the 1:24 mark where the instruments drop out of the mix and we’re left the chugging drive of the ultra-distorted guitars, and Zoltan’s “Ugh” propel this song through the air like a jet fueled warhead aimed for the soul.

And this intensity doesn’t stop as we drop directly into “Stay Away.” Redemption is brought to you by the letters F, U, C, and K as these letters in corresponding order happen to be used in every song, and generally multiple times in every song. Image if you will, being so angry that no other word will suffice. I’m sure Zoltan could have worked in words that had more poetry, more intellect to them, but no word conveys the emotion quite like “fuck”. We’ve all been fuckin’ pissed, wanted the world to fuck themselves, and to fuck shit up . . . see? Good word. There’s no question that there’s an emotion being conveyed here.

Ready for some more brutality? “The One” is an up tempo gem that barrels down a narrow street in Pamplona, sliding, skidding, and goring itself into red sashed wearing listeners. Warning though, we have another wrinkle from the band as they inject a healthy dose of melody in the chorus and it works perfectly to break up the sonic shellacking that we’ve undergone up to this point. Channeling some of that nu-metal sway and groove, using hefty doses of thrash and speed, and all held in place by the mortar of raw emotion, “The One” may be the song that defines Redemption as an album. Not to say that you don’t need to hear the rest of the album, just that if you only have time to hear one song and need to know what Redemption is all about “The One” is . . . er, the one.

Redemption has no crossover appeal to the mainstream and it’s not supposed. The album would suck ass if it did. This record is purely meant to be a cathartic exercise for both band and listener. What impresses me the most, besides the improved musical approach of the band, is that Ektomorf can retain this type of emotional intensity album after album. Most would have burned out after one. Even more would have collapsed or killed themselves after the second. Ektomorf? Nah, these cats have made a career of being pissed off at anyone who even thinks something partially negative about them. Rock it, brothers! Don’t change a thing. I need to know that in a year and half . . . maybe two years, a new Ektomorf album will keep me busy patching holes in my drywall and out of jail for moronicide (murder of morons  . . . for those who couldn’t figure that out).


buy here: Redemption

Ripple News - Exploding In Sound Unveils Latest Compilation WAX UNWOUND Featuring Black Mountain, Twilight Singers, Monotonix + More

WAX UNWOUND is the brand new snarling monster of a compilation from Exploding In Sound. While little introduction is necessary for volume eight of the taste-making website’s promotional compilation series, the good folks over at EIS honestly couldn't be happier with the end results. This is the collection the rock world has been waiting for, the one that will tear the paint from the walls with pure brilliant fury and infinitely enjoyable music from some of the best active bands.  Ladies and gentlemen, Exploding In Sound is honored to announce WAX UNWOUND and it's unbelievably amazing line-up including Zach Hill, Pulled Apart By Horses, Black Mountain, The Twilight Singers, Young Widows, Monotonix, Ty Segall, Sky Larkin, Alain Johannes, Grandfather, Shapes, and many more [full tracklist below]. Waste no more time, DOWNLOAD NOW. Please play this compilation at a high volume for maximum results.  You just may find your next favorite band.

DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE COMPILATION FOR FREE via or Exploding In Sound's official BandCamp page. As always, the compilation is a 100% FREE digital download, containing artwork from the amazing, band descriptions, links for further enjoyment, and more. The staff at EIS want to reach out and thank everyone who has helped put this collection together, especially the bands, their labels, and management. Without the help, interest, and cooperation of these incredible artists none of this would be possible, because after all this is about their music and artistic vision.

Sharing of the download link is HIGHLY recommended and encouraged to anyone and everyone.  As this is a FREE compilation, the goal is to gain the maximum audience, and word of mouth is always appreciated. PLEASE DOWNLOAD, SHARE, POST, and SPREAD the word to everyone you know. Great music is being made, and it’s up to the fans to deliver it to as many listeners as possible. ENJOY!


*Exploding In Sound:

*File Dropper:



1.       Zach Hill – Total Recall

2.       Pulled Apart By Horses – Get Off My Ghost Train

3.       Pile – Don’t Touch Anything

4.       Grandfather – Tremors

5.       Black Mountain – Old Fangs

6.       Alain Johannes – Endless Eyes

7.       She Keeps Bees – Gimmie

8.       Ty Segall – Caesar

9.       Monotonix – Give Me More

10.   Young Widows – Feelers

11.   Shapes – The Escapologist

12.   Young Adults – Impression

13.   Tweak Bird – Lights In Lines

14.   &U&I – Chancer’s Paradise

15.   Nassy – Paul Michael Alexander

16.   Sky Larkin – Kaleide

17.   The Twilight Singers – Blackbird & The Fox

18.   Capsula – Sun Shaking

19.   Shark? – Tiny Violin

20.   Dupec – MMIX

21.   Ladder Devils – Common Dogs

22.   Two Inch Astronaut – Spume

Friday, January 28, 2011

King Diamond -Abigail

One of the first cassettes I ever owned; it contained the awesome solo work of guitarists Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner, and the drum magnificat of Mikkey Dee (who's been in Motorhead for nearly 20 years now). It's NWOBHM telling a ghost story.

It's a concept album, the first complete one King Diamond released (the debut, Fatal Portrait, has a few songs unconnected to the overall story). Abigail is a traditional ghost story, which is unusual in metal: metal generally loves horror (death metal particularly) but not so much ghost stories, e.g., The Stone Tape, Hell House, The Haunting of Hell House, The Turn of the Screw, The Beckoning Fair One, etc.

The story concerns a young couple in 1845 who move into an inherited mansion in the middle of nowhere (so far so sweet), who initially are contacted by seven horsemen (those on the album cover) and told that essentially they should go nowhere near the house. Of course they do, where they are visited by the ghost of an ancestor of the young protagonist, who details to him the tragic backstory of the house, and why it does not bode well for the couple and their unborn child.

If you bother to read the actual lyrics (rather than a synopsis), they're pretty fucking creepy; especially as, being song lyrics and having to be as brief as possible, they give you each plot point or resolution one, maybe two times. You have to pay attention.

King's oft-debated vocals are admittedly an acquired taste, but if you think of them as characters in the story, it might ease your angst. Or maybe you should just get used to them.

Track 3, "A Mansion in Darkness" and its opening guitar solo, a beautiful haunting melody, set the musical tone for the whole record; solo-heavy, mid-tempo traditional heavy metal.

High point: "The Family Ghost," particularly the solos beginning at 1:30. (Just for reference, Andy LaRocque played a guest solo on At The Gates' Slaughter of the Soultrack "Cold," one that guitarist Anders Björler has laughingly claimed in interviews that he can't quite replicate.) His neo-classical runs still piss me off, they're so well-thought out, yet boldly metal.

Great, great shit.


Buy here: Abigail

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Field Report - Zig Zag Jones @ Longboards

There’s a buzz around town. No . . . I’m not talking about the contact high one gets when hanging around the back alley’s of Pacific Beach . . . though, I suppose that could count. No, no, no! I’m talking about the inaugural performance from San Diego’s latest reggae fusion, world soul, funkified R&B outfit called Zig Zag Jones. I’ve seen many a band’s first performances in my time, but never have I seen a place so packed as I did on Friday night, January 21st at Longboard’s in Pacific Beach. Holy spit . . . you couldn’t walk from one end of the bar to the other in under a half hour! Once you eventually got there and tried to order a drink . . . forget about it! And all of these revelers were in attendance strictly to see this new band break out and make some noise. Waveriders, this band puts on a hell of a show!

This seven piece outfit hit the stage and the place came unglued. There wasn’t a hip that wasn’t swaying, a toe that wasn’t tapping, a head that wasn’t bobbing . . . Zig Zag Jones hammered away through a little over an hour long set and impressed me on several different levels. First off, the rhythm section . . . tight, but not so tight that drummer John Sheppard, percussionist Ty Kiernan, and bassist Denis Sluka couldn’t go a little free-style or throw in some improv without losing the groove. This trio is the foundation of the band, sturdy yet retro-fitted to move in case of earthquake so the whole house doesn’t collapse. Then you have the flourishes of keyboardist Matt Trout and trombonist Jordan Morita, masters of adding color and texture to the songs, never overplaying their parts, yet always lurking in the shadows, prepared to jump out and give the listener that Wow! moment. Finally, the two man tandem of singer/guitarist Gerald Lee and guitarist Craig Mitchell, acting as MC’s, energetic frontmen, and ringleaders to this circus of world class musicians. Smooshed together . . . Zig Zag Jones. In your face, uncompromising, and fucking fun!

Highlights of the night were definitely the show opener “Zig Zag Jones” with its heavy groove, infectious melodies, and high energy musicianship, as well as “Dinner For Two”, “There’s Love”, and “I’ll Be There For You”. All of the songs incorporated a technical aspect that couldn’t be ignored, but also featured a soulfulness that couldn’t be manufactured . . . they balanced everything perfectly, keeping the songs organic, but not completely turning their backs on modern ingenuity. The way these guys would break down the songs, create tension within the groove, then bring it all back up . . . damn impressive. Every time I looked up on stage, I saw a band smiling, having a good time, doing what felt natural and that translated to a crowd that soaked up the reggae tinged R&B groove tunes and returned to the band even bigger smiles, squeals of delight, energetic dancing, and sing-a-longs that had me wondering how this was the bands first ever gig. If you were there and weren’t having a good time, you must have been dead or too stoned to know what was going on.


Wino - Adrift

I’m probably the last person you want reviewing an “acoustic” album. For the most part, acoustic guitar bores me to tears after a few minutes (Muddy Waters – Folk Singer is one of the few exceptions). But this is Wino we’re talking about, the master of doom, not some Jeff Tweedy snooze-fest so I approached it with an open mind and open beer.

Thankfully, the electric guitar makes an appearance early on and helped me to dive into this very solid album. Wino is an excellent player and it’s actually refreshing to hear him play acoustic. Lots of the riffs would probably work well in a band setting but playing them solo creates space for his great singing voice and powerful lyrics.

The title track starts off the album sounding like something The Who might have done in their early 70’s prime, energetic and moody. What really sold me on the record is the 2nd song, “I Don’t Care.” I’d imagine this is what Wino would say to me if I told him I was hesitant about listening to his acoustic album. It’s impossible for me to resist any kind of “fuck you” type of song extolling the virtues of having long hair and doing whatever you want. And then he rips into a great electric solo. Wino’s mentioned that Ross The Boss (The Dictators, Manowar, Shankin Street, etc) is one of his favorite guitarists and you can really hear the influence on this one.

“Hold On Love” and “Old & Alone” reveal a bit of a Beatles influence with big melodies to counteract the strong, personal lyrics. “Shot In The Head” is a great honky tonk shuffle. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Wino likes to drink beer and listen to Lefty Frizzell and Charlie Rich on a Saturday night. Even without bass or drums, it has a great boogie feel and killer slide guitar solo. The instrumental “O.B.E.” is all electric and lets him get all Frippertronic for 3 minutes.

 “Green Speed” is the fastest song on the album with killer dueling electric leads over a driving acoustic rhythm. But the real highlight of the album for me is the cover of Motorhead’s biker anthem “Iron Horse/Born To Lose.” It’s always been one of my favorite Motorhead songs (especially the On Parole version when Larry Wallis was in the band) and Wino really makes it his own. With all due respect to Lemmy, I don’t think he has a drivers license and shouldn’t really be operating any vehicles, while Wino is a well known die-hard motorcycle mutherfucker. The lyrics obviously mean a lot to him and his soulful vocals deliver the message hard.

Wino’s discography is pretty solid and Adrift is a great addition to it. Don’t let the “unplugged” thing scare you off. You can still play it loud n proud.

Buy CD: Adrift

Buy here mp3: Adrift
Buy here vinyl: Adrift

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random and K-Murdock - Forever Famicom

There are three words in existence that when put together create magic.  When read or spoken this incantation has the power to instantaneously transport any individual back in time.  Recollections vary from person to person of course, but in general the outcome remains the same.  Waves of memories and emotion will wash over the individual in an unstoppable flood of nostalgia.  Those three words are Nintendo Entertainment System, and this column is about two artists who combined forces to harness the energies summoned by those words to produce one magnificent album.

Only a short time ago in a galaxy exactly like our own a man named K-Murdock received a package in the mail containing two albums by a rapper named Random.  At the time K-Murdock was hosting an underground hip hop show on XM radio called SubSonic, and Random was hoping to get his music played on air.  One of the two albums, entitled Megaran, made a distinct impression on K-Murdock based on its use of music sampled from old Mega Man videogames.  In short order he communicated his desire to collaborate with Random on some new music.  It was at this point that Random realized that K-Murdock, host of SubSonic, was also the ace-producer K-Murdock of Panacea fame.  The two quickly bonded over their love of hip hop and videogames, and eventually the album Forever Famicom was born.

There are no two ways about it; Forever Famicom (which I will refer to as FF) is a special album.  Musically speaking, it holds a rather unique position.  While it is true that there have been other groups who have utilized classic video game music to flavor their own creations (for example Ripple favorites Urizen) as well as groups who perform straight cover versions of video game music (see the Minibosses), FF goes about things differently.  Historically K-Murdock’s productions have been labeled as “feel good music”.  This description holds true on FF where he expertly combines the sampled video game music in each song with drum beats, background vocals, assorted sound effects, and new orchestration to create lush soundscapes that envelop the listener like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer.  I guarantee that even people who do not recognize the video games the sampled music originally came from will find themselves involuntarily humming the tunes after only a couple of listens.  They are that memorable!  Once you get your head around the music, it’s time to address the other half of the equation.

Random is one of my favorite rappers.  He has been for a couple of years now, and he shows no signs of relinquishing his title.  Similar to K-Murdock, Random first came to my attention when I read a review of his Megaran album.  I recommended the album to a friend based on that review.  He bought it, listened to it, and immediately forced me to sit down for my own run through.  To say that I was impressed would be a massive understatement, and I have been buying up everything Random has put out since that day.  What I enjoy most about Random’s work is the same thing I enjoy about all other great lyricists’ work.  He not only has the ability to convey universal truths through autobiographical stories, but he can also deftly weave together fictional elements to create a story that sucks the listener in like a high end Dyson vacuum. 

The songs that make up FF effortlessly blend these strengths together to produce a work that can be appreciated by a wide range of people.  After reading my opening paragraph, did you immediately start listing off the great Nintendo games that you loved in your head?  Well chances are Random loved them too, and he conveniently runs down a cleverly composed list of titles on the song “Epoch”.  Instead of the classics do you fanaticize over current video games?  Listen to album standout “For the Gamers” where Random and featured guest rappers In80 and Schaffer the Darklord eloquently align themselves with the hardcore gaming crowd who strive for every gaming achievement to the detriment of sleep and their work.  Don’t like games at all?  That’s cool.  Songs like “Dream Master” or “The Girl With the Makeup” are there for you.  “Dream Master” tells the tale of how Random’s mother sacrificed and bought him a Nintendo Entertainment System in an effort to keep him off the streets of Philadelphia.  “The Girl With the Makeup”, my personal favorite song on the album, is about Random falling in love with the first girl he knew to wear makeup, only to foul up the relationship by desperately trying to be something he was not.  Everyone, without fail, can find something to relate to in both of these songs.  Still not satisfied?  How about something off the wall?  Try “Double Dragons” on for size.  That’s right.  A song about the events that unfold in the videogame Double Dragon, and it is just as awesome as you imagine!

I said it before but it bears repeating.  Forever Famicom is a special album.  It has established a near permanent spot in my music rotation since its release date last year, and it does not appear that it will wear out its welcome.  Was it my favorite album of 2010?  That depends on the day, but it was definitely my favorite hip hop album of the year, and I know for a fact that the album ended up on many other peoples year end lists as well.

Seriously people…there is a song about Double Dragon.  Who can argue with that!?

-- Penfold

Buy here:  Forever Famicom
Buy here mp3: Forever Famicom

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kirsten Thien -Delicious

The name of this blues and R&B album is dead-on.  Kirsten Thien is “Delicious.”

Her visage, light complected with long curly red hair, showing just enough softness and cleavage to be enticing, graces the front and the back of the CD   When I opened the case the credits for all thirteen tracks slowly unfolded.  I immediately noticed the names of legends and heroes among the liner notes.

There’s Hubert Sumlin, the legendary Howlin’ Wolf guitarist who is number 65 in the Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.  Sumlin is said to have been a major influence on the greatest of blues and rock guitarists, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. He plays on two of the tracks and is featured on Thien’s song “Please Drive.”

Arthur Neilson is also here.  He is the ultimate blues guitar session musician.  Neilson has played alongside Ronnie Spector, Otis Rush, James Cotton, Benny Mardones and Shemekia Copeland.  He has also shared stages with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton, and Albert King.   Neilson’s work can be found on six of the CD tracks.

Looking a little closer I found Tommy Mandel playing keyboards and organ on seven of the CD tracks. Mandel is a “go to” musician with vast experience.  He has played with Bryan Adams, Dire Straits, Clash, Bon Jovi, The Pretenders and many others,

Reading further down I discovered what Steve Holley has been doing.  Holley is a veritable rock ‘n roll icon..  His drums have accompanied rock royalty - Elton John, Paul McCartney and Wings and Joe Cocker.  He sits behind the kit on three tracks.

Other names popped out.  On two of the tracks bassist Johnny Pisano provides the bottom.  Pisano has played with a vertible session musician’s Who’s Who List. He has recorded with Ryan Adams, Deborah Harry, and others, yet you have probably heard him more often on movie and TV soundtracks. The CD’s producer, Eric Boyd, is also an accomplished bassist and plays bass on seven of the CD tracks.

With a little more scrutiny I noticed there is a horn section on some of the tracks, a vibraphone on two (played by Mike Freeman) and a special guest appearance by the 2009 Blues Music Award Instrumentalist Of The Year, harmonica player Billy Gibson, on Ida Cox’s classic “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues”  which Gibson plays as a duet with Thien sining and playing an acoustic guitar.

I thought, if those names and credentials don’t make you want to listen to this CD, I don’t know what will.

I inserted the disk and out of the speakers came a voice that was a mixture of Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi.  Her guitar playing right there alongside the legends with which she plays. This is how the blues and R&B were meant to sound. The musicians are in top form and they’re having fun. 

And that make it fun to listen to, too!  Thien wrote three of the songs by herself - “Please Drive,” “Treat ‘Im Like A Man,” and “A Woman Knows.”  She also co-wrote “Nobody’s Ever Loved Me Like You Do” and “Delicious” with Indie songwriter Noel Cohen; “Love That’s Made To Share” with Boyd; and “Get Outta The Funk, Get Into The Groove” with Boyd and pop artist Galia Arad. The band also performs a glorious rendition of Willie Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” and a rockin’ blues called “Taxi Love” written by Charlie Feldman and Jon Tiven, that will likely get a considerable amount of airplay.

Ultimately, it is Thien’s songwriting and voice that determine the fate of this album  Thien does not disappoint.  She is provocative, sexy, playful and emotional. Her delivery is gripping and gravelly, and her blues songwriting is world class.

I’ve listened to this CD three times today and I can’t get enough.  I’m eating it up.  Kirsten Thien is “Delicious.”

- Old School

Buy here: Delicious

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Electrifying Edifice of Ebullient EP's Featuring Restorations, Andrew Gharib, Pacer, and The Silver Liners

Restorations – Strange Behavior

As far as EP’s go, I gotta say, this package from Philadelphia indy, roots punkers, is about as gorgeous as they come.  Marbled blue vinyl, with a full color insert with lyrics and stuff.  12” 45 rpm, 4-tracks.  I mean, these cats didn’t spare any expense on this one.  So the question is; does the music make that beautiful package worthwhile?

And the answer is an alley-clamoring “yes.”  Occupying a niche firmly planted between the aggression of hard core, the earnestness of mid-western roots rock, and the jangly, shoegazng, intelligentsia of indy rock, Restorations sound unlike any other band I’d heard in quite some time.  With a rough-hewn, leather-bent to the vocals, delicate acoustic guitars, and an impending sense of danger, as if any song could explode at any second, these guys come across like The Replacements mixed with an acoustic Black Flag.   I’ve read that bands like The Constantines and Red Collar explore similar territory, but I don’t know them.  I know Restorations, and I know what I like.  And this is it. 

Each song plays out like a mini countrypunk-gothic epic, unfolding at its own leisurely pace, led in by a gentle strum or languishing pick.  But the danger is always there, hiding, waiting.   Whether or not each song explodes or not isn’t as important as the drama they create, the dark clouds that gather over the wind-swept fields of grain.  The demon about to possess the scarecrow.  Moving, effective stuff.

Andrew Gharib – Animal Confession

I’d been listening to a lot of Teardrop Explodes  Kilimanjaro recently (clearly one of my all-time favorite “desert island discs”) so that probably put me into the perfect mind frame to absorb this sonic delight by Andrew Gharib.  Not that Andrew apes Julian Cope in any way, but the music of Animal Confession carries with it a similar post-punk, darkly psychedelic bent on the world.  To that Andrew adds some serious guitar crunch a la industrial rock, and a serious helping of pop smarts.  Not to mention an immediately gripping voice.  Yep, I was hooked.

“A Thousand Lies,” is the first cut I heard from Andrew and seems to be the one I go back to the most often.  Recently, I’d spouted off on the glory of Jet Black Berries new album Postmodern Ghosts and the lead-off single, “God with a Gun.”  Here’s the flip side of a perfect compilation mix.  With its charging guitar opening breaking away to a chiming, hypnotic guitar verse, “A Thousand Lies,” is near-perfection in 3:55.   Big melody, a throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air and sing along chorus.  A mighty crunch and a dark sinister atmosphere.  Beautifully done.  I can listen to this song on repeat and never get tired of it.  Always some new nook or cranny to explore.

“Drown in You,” ups the distortion and heaviness, while also releasing itself to some exquisite slower passages.  I think the word here is dynamic, and “Drown in You,” has that in spades.   Echoes of NIN drift amongst the floating menacing psychedelia.   “Light my Way,” meanwhile kicks off with an echo reverb guitar reminiscent of U2 and loses itself from there into a maelstrom of sacrificing emotion.   It’s not everyday I find a songsmith who can capture me so quickly.

With Animal Confession we’ve found a new talent of the dark and mysterious.  A new Trent Rezner?  Time will tell, but Animal Confession proves that Andrew Gharib is certainly one to watch.

Pacer – No 1

I gotta tell you.  I’m a little tired of a lot of what passes for punk these days.  Whiny vocals, layered guitars, wimpy lyrics.  That ain’t the punk rock I know. 

Which is why a band like Pacer is so refreshing.  No strings.  No horns.  No mention of the word love or hurt feelings.  Pacer bring it on fast, pure, energized, and brimming with spit and polish.  This is good, old-fashioned punk.  Guitars with three chords, played amazingly fast with aggression and intent;  A bass that runs like a maniac being chased by the police, and a drum set taking a beating like it owed money to the mob. 

Add a good oi sensibility, some suitably gruff and impassioned vocals and I’m all in.  “Circles Around a Square,” is an in-your-face opener that could instantly make you regret standing too close to the clubs sounds system.   “Pasternak,” is pure oi punk, charging and racing like a gang of hoodlums off to wreck havoc at a football game.  

On top of all this pure punk adrenaline, the lads temper the affair with some mighty chops and true songwriting craft, keeping a melodic/pop leaning to the affair.   But don’t clump them in with Green DayPacer never forget the punk in pop-punk.  Great pogoing stuff.

The Silver Liners – S/T EP

It wasn’t that long ago that I was praising The Silver Liners last Ep, Just Like the Rest, a catchy batch of melodic punk indy pop.  Now the boys come charging back with another blast of refreshing and down-right captivating agit-pop.  And if anything, the time between releases has allowed the lads to bring their songwriting up a whole ‘nother notch. 

Bringing back two songs (“Just like the Rest,” and “Without a Face”) from the last EP, the Silver Liners drop in 4 new songs and package the whole thing together in a way that just seems to scream, “Here we are!”  Leaving the EP self-titled echoes that sentiment.  For the Silver Liners this is their statement of who they are.

And who is that you ask?  A damn fine guitar-driven pop band who churn out melodies as effortlessly as I stumble over cracks in the sidewalk.  “ Running Through My Head,” with its acoustic intro, infectious groove, and irresistible verse leading to a sweet-as-sugar chorus, is just one example of the way these cats can craft with the best of em.  

“Hot Mess,” keeps the heartbeat ticking with an aggressive verse diving into another heavenly-sent chorus, never losing the chops or the muscle.   Touches of pure power pop infect “American Girl,”  while “Better Than Your Boyfriend,” only needs a quirky video to shoot this one to the top of the YouTube charts.   With it’s irresistible chorus, you’ll be singing this one for months to come.   Should be a radio mainstay.  The Silver Liners are clearly a band on the rise.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Sunday Conversation with Red Hot Rebellion

Chatting with Jim, bass and vocals for Red Hot Rebellion.  Soundtrack to a bar fight indeed.

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?

The first song that really made me want to learn electric guitar was "Round And Round" by Ratt. It was a quick decent from hair bands into Iron Maiden -- in fact "Ides Of March" was the first song I learned on guitar. Once I mastered the power chord, I just kind of stuck with it and played metal and punk for years and then switched to bass cuz there were waaaaay better guitar players out there than me. So that was another epiphany: dude, you're not all that good at guitar, but you can play the shit out of a bass.

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?

Most of our songs start with a riff or a series of riffs from Doug (Spencer - RHR guitar). He's literally got thousands of riffs in his head and he records them all on a little digital recorder, so when its time to write new stuff he either pulls one out of his ass or "goes to the tape" and then we all collaborate or arrangements and extra parts. But it almost always starts with a riff that gets us all excited.

Who has influenced you the most?

Our dark lord Satan. And chicks in leather pants. And booze -- except no one in the band drinks except for me...but the other guys are still influenced by it. 

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

See above...Also we always think about the songs in terms of the live show. We continuously try to up the intensity and fun factor.

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

The Soundtrack To A Barfight.

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

We strive to rock people's socks off. We know we're not breaking any truly original ground here, and that's intentional. One of our main core tenets is to Keep It Simple.  Another is to Keep It Rocking. Yet another is to PLAY LOUD AND HARD. Rock n roll should be fun and exciting and we are striving to create something you don't have to think too hard about. Just something that hits you in the gut, maybe gives you a few goose bumps and want to shotgun a beer or two.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
I passed out at the end of one of our sets once...actually I had to end the set one song early, then stumbled out side and passed out for a few seconds and threw up on myself. I wasn't drunk, but I was the night before -- which was St. Patrick's Day. I had a wicked case of the Irish Flu, but since i am a trooper, I played the show and rocked it a little too hard. I was dehydrated and needed to be rebooted. Not one of my prouder moments, but shit happens.

What makes a great song?

The hook. The beat. The emotion. And a Les Paul and a Marshall doesn't hurt either.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

When I was 3 years old I wrote a song called "Cheddar Cheese." Its lyrics where the most profound thing I've ever written: "Buy cheddar cheese, and you get cheddar cheese" That's it. Over and over and over and over again. I would sing it for hours until my parents yelled at me to stop. That's when I knew I wanted to be a rock n roll musician. Cuz when you have a microphone and 14 millions watts of sound system behind you, they can't quite you down...

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

We are recording our first full length album as we speak -- so I'm going to wait until the recording is done to answer this.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Right now I love love love The Sword. They write about crazy shit like witches and interdemensional space travel and rock harder than most bands around these days. And put out concept albums. I am a sucker for concept albums. I highly recommend their latest "Warp Riders" -- badass!

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

Vinyl. Definitely. Love the large art. Love the process of pulling out a record an putting in on a turntable -- but I'm a bit of a hypocrite, because as I am writing this I am listening to streaming music via Pandora and my turntable and records are literally 2 feet away from me...

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

Beer. I once wound up in a tree during a hurricane where I proceeded to yell at the storm (or God) to try and kill me after drinking half a bottle of Jim Beam. The next morning the top half of the tree (where I was standing) had snapped I stick with beer now. 

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

They just closed the only cool record store in Dayton, Gen City Records. Cincinnati has a bunch of cool ones tho...

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

We always have fun and free stuff on our website ( Check it out and join the mailing list so we can send you more free stuff!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ripple News - California's Influential Surf Punk Rockers Agent Orange Return North, Play with Montreal Grunge Metallers Slaves on Dope

Can't help it, this one just gets me giddy.   Huge fans Agent Orange around these Ripple parts.

Tour Dates:

Feb. 2, 2011 - Imperial de Quebec - Québec City, QC - Tickets:

Feb. 3, 2011 - Bar Le Magog - Sherbrooke, QC - Tickets:

Feb. 4, 2011 - Foufounes Électriques - Montreal, QC - Tickets available at Venue

Feb. 5, 2011 - The Opera House - Toronto, ON - Tickets:

Feb 6, 2011 - 515 Concert Club - Cambridge, ON

     Agent Orange, California's influential punk/surf power trio, has been around longer than its loyal following can even remember. Formed in Orange County, California in 1979, Agent Orange immediately gained attention thanks to the band’s revolutionary, unique mix of punk rock and surf music. Often considered underrated to this very day, Agent Orange is back at it, having recently released Halloween Single and now hitting the road and coming back North after several years of absence.
Agent Orange will tour Canada with Montreal grunge metallers Slaves on Dope. The famed Canadian nu metal band reformed in 2009 when its founding members, Jason Rockman (Vocals) and Kevin Jardine (guitars), chose to reunite after a five year hiatus and begin work on their third studio album, "Over the Influence."

Slaves On Dope vocalist Jason Rockman comments.
''Kevin and I have been hard at work for the last 2 years. We believe that we have written the most honest and aggressive slaves album yet! We can't wait to unleash these songs on the world, and see what happens."

Poobah’s "Let Me In" Tops Rolling Stone Year End List!

As 2010 came roaring to an end, Poobah’s Let Me In, released on Oct. 12th found itself at the top of many Year End Lists, being hailed as a Re-Issue of the Year by David Fricke, senior writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, Pat Prince of Goldmine Magazine, Ray Van Horn, Jr. of The Metal Minute/Retaliate Magazine, and even going as far as being called “album of the decade” by Ray Dorsey of Ray’s Realm!

So, congratulations go out to Jim Gustafson for creating a piece of music with the vitality and staying power that Let Me In has, as well as a big round of applause to T. Dallas Reed for his countless hours of blowing off the sonic dust from the original 1972 analog tapes, and graphic designer Vic Jong for laboriously toiling over the details of the packaging reproduction in an effort to retain the visual feel of the original LP!

Here are a few more words to carry us into 2011:

“Between Jim Gustafson’s primal vocals to his gut wrenching licks on his Les Paul . . . they should have been huge, Black Sabbath Huge, because they were on par as far as sound and attack but it was not to be." -- Metal Exiles

"One of the highlights of the year!  Let Me In is an album deserving of any status this reissue can give it, be it “classic” or otherwise.” – The Obelisk

“On the basis of Let Me In, Poobah is more than just a shaggy curiosity from the Me Decade – it’s a band worth discovering for fans not satisfied with endless Grand Funk retreads on classic rock radio." -- Sleazegrinder

Catch Poobah on the road throughout the winter of 2011!

Fri. Jan.7 WRANGLER Whipple, OH 8:30pm
Fri.Jan.21 MARIETTA BREWING Co., Marietta, OH 9:45pm
Fri. Jan. 28 JACKIE O's Athens, OH 9:30pm
Sat. Jan. 29 HOME Tavern, Logan, OH 9:00pm
Fri. Feb. 18 IRON SADDLE Akron, OH 10:00pm     
Sat. Feb.19 HAPS Bar New Waterford, OH 9:45pm
Sat. Feb.26 LAKEVIEW Tavern Albany, OH 8:30pm
Fri. March 4 NICOLOZAKES Fairpoint, OH 9:45 pm

Ripple News - Benefit to Aid the Australian Flood Victims

We've all seen the horrible flooding down in Australia.  It's even affected the hometown of Ripple favorites, Grand Atlantic.

Here's a cool event for all you Aussie waveriders to have fun and help out a bit.


The Hi-Fi and Mucho-Bravado are proud to present Float On... A Brisbane Flood Relief Benefit, a very special event that will bring together some of the finest music our fair city has ever seen.

Featuring performances from seminal Brisbane favourites Custard, Regurgitator and Screamfeeder as well as Kate Miller-Heidke, Hungry Kids of Hungary, Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side and Little Scout, all proceeds from the show will go to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal, a Queensland Government initiative to help fellow Queenslanders who have been struck down by the recent disaster.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Weedeater - Jason... The Dragon

What we have here is... a problem I call the Metalli-Wizard Conundrum.

It's this: do you judge a new record by an established artist based purely on the album itself, or based on how it compares to previous (great) releases by that artist?

The conundrum, or "the 'nun" as I call it, is named for (duh) Metallica and/or Electric Wizard, both of whom have stellar, nay, world-changing records in their discography, but have then released albums that, while good in some cases, aren't anywhere even near the caliber of said great records.

Obviously, you don't need my help with the Metallica comparison: I actually liked Reload, but only after I stopped thinking of it as a Metallica album and just enjoyed it as an above-average rock record. Same with St. Anger: if you listen to it as if it were from a new band, you get "Man, this album is odd. Where will these guys go with this?" Whereas, listening to it as a Metallica record, you think "Holy Shit, how the hell did these guys get here?"

As with Electric Wizard. I don't care how it's reviewed now, with everyone squealing in delight over the new Black Masses-- it's a good album if by a new band, but compared to Dopethrone? Nuh-uh. Every other critic is masturbating his/herself over Black Masses, but it's only because EW release albums so rarely. Once it sinks in in a few months, people will realize that it's just a regular old cracker:

Which brings us to Jason... the Dragon.

As succinctly as possible: by itself, it's an awesome (some of the awesomeness in the promise of what this band could do) dirty, utterly sludgy (no surpise: Dixie Dave Collins was in seminal sludge band Buzzov*en), distinctly southern, bowel-rumbling bear of a record.

Don't get me wrong: if the tags stoner, sludge or doom mean anything to you, you should pick this up, and so quickly.


Maybe it's my problem. Maybe imagination is the destroyer.

I just expected more. In listening to Jason... I went back and listened to their previous record, God Luck and Good Speed, just to make sure my memories weren't stained by nostalgia. They weren't.

Jason... is essentially a variation on God Luck.... Almost like when jazz players release 25 live versions of their work. That's perfectly acceptable there, indeed, it's a pivotal part of jazz: how many versions of a melody can one make? How inventive can a player get?

Unfortunately, the test of jazz artists (to me) is a little bit compositional skill, and 95% improvisational ability. They're making new versions of old songs on the spot.

Weedeater have made, with Jason... the Dragon, a cool variation of God Luck and Good Speed. Unfortunately, they took a long damn time in the studio to do it. No points for improv.

Like Metallica did* with Ride/Puppets/Justice, there is seemingly a Weedeater "record blueprint": a couple of (filler) songs that are short, around a minute, and mostly feedback; two acoustic numbers; and several stomps that will rule you and your loved ones and are effing totally effing awesome. (And deserving of two effings.)

The title track is a crushing number that sways back and forth, like an oil tanker threatening to fall over, yet never going. "Palms of Opium" is one of the aforementioned acoustic numbers where Dixie Dave's raspy Tom Waits-ish voice works perfectly.

If only the whole album were as good as these two...?


*First song starts acoustically, but eventually becomes a really fast thrasher; second song long title track, third song slower, usually detuned, fourth song acoustic ballad, last song full-out thrasher from start to finish, etc.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Black Thai – Blood From On High

When the formation of Black Thai was announced in 2009 I couldn’t stop making references to ye olde Thai stick that you just can’t find anymore. No one ever invites me out for Thai food because they’re tired of hearing me complain about it. Turns out the name Black Thai has something to do with a drunken conversation about a restaurant, and luckily for me these guys are good sports and are polite when I bring up the subject of forgotten weeds.

I’d give them a good review just for that but luckily the music rocks, which is a nice bonus. Black Thai’s debut EP is 6 songs in 30 minutes – a perfect introduction to a heavy band like this. I wish more bands would put out all killer no filler EP’s. “Leave ‘em wanting more” is the one showbiz tactic that never goes out of style. These guys are sort of a Boston supergroup with Jim Healey (from We’re All Gonna Die) on vocals/guitar/red beard and Scotty Fuse from Cortez on guitar/black beard. Kyle Rasmussen played drums on the record but has been replaced by the Cozy Powell loving Jeremy Hemond, also of Cortez and Roadsaw. Cory Cocomazzi has the best Italian metal bass playing name since Anthony Fragnito of Black Lace.

There’s a strong Soundgarden feel to this band, but you can also tell that these guys grew up on a lot of the same bands that Soundgarden were influenced by – Black Sabbath, obviously, but maybe even some early Killing Joke mixed up with 70’s Judas Priest. Jim’s voice is very powerful, somewhere in between Chris Cornell and Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, and his lyrics are good, too. Too many bands concentrate on making the music heavy and then writing throw away lyrics. The dueling Les Paul guitars are heavy but not tuned down to mush and the rhythm section swings with authority.

Opener “The Ladder” has a heavy “Hole In The Sky” groove that gets your noggin moving and contains a great guitar solo. “Satan’s Toolshed,” “Saturation Point” and “333” are all over 6 minutes but never get dull. “333” is my favorite song on the EP and sounds like the type of song that if Johnny Cash was still alive, Rick Rubin would have him do a version of it. There’s also a killer Black Sabbath/Bad Brains riff at the end that they jam out and then ends unexpectedly. “Sinking Ships” is the shortest song at 4 and a half minutes that has a pissed off Motorhead vibe to it.

As good as this EP is, their live show is even better. I was lucky enough to catch them on their recent East Coast tour in Brooklyn at the acoustically perfect Hank’s Saloon. Despite an exclusive Sunday night crowd they blew the roof off the place and gave me a nice 2 day hangover. Is there anything better than that?


Buy direct

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Readymade Breakup - S/T

“Hello boys and girls.  My name is Mr. Penfold.  Pleased to meet all of you.  Your teacher asked me to come to your school today to tell you a story.  Would you like that?”
The children gathered around me on the floor eagerly responded with a “Yes!”, “Yeah!”, “Yea!”, and even a “Hooray!”.
“Good,” I said with a big smile.  “I was hoping you might say that.  Now…what story should I tell you all today?  Hmmmm?  Oh, I know!  I’ll tell you the story of Readymade Breakup.  It really is a wonderful adventure, and I just know you’ll like it.  What do you think?  Sound good?”
Another chorus of affirmative responses.
“Hahahaha, all right.  Well let’s get started then shall we?”  I opened the book sitting in my lap and began to read.

Once upon a time in a land not so far away from here called New Jersey, there lived four men, each of whom was a musician, who decided to form a band.  They named their band Readymade Breakup, and together they made it their goal to produce some of the catchiest powerpop music anyone had ever heard.  Everything was going swimmingly until one day an evil sorcerer intent on stopping the performance of their glee filled music descended upon their rehearsal space, cast a spell eliminating all of their sheet music, and ran away cackling.  “That’s okay,” said Paul Rosevear, guitarist and main songwriter.  “All of the songs were ‘Inside All Along’.”

The band began playing again right before the evil sorcerer made it out the front door of the building.  When he heard the band playing the songs without their sheet music he was furious!  This was not possible!  He rushed back to the practice space and demanded to know how the band could still play their songs without the proper instructions before them.  “It’s ‘Just’ the way it is,” replied Gay Elvis the bass player.  “We were ‘Waiting For You’ to come back.  Why don’t you have a seat and listen?  You might like what you hear.”

Too stubborn to admit that someone else might be right, the evil sorcerer scoffed and cast another spell, this time turning the face of guitarist Jim Fitzgerald into something akin to an old goalie mask made out of flesh instead of plastic.  “Mwahaha!  Now ‘There’ is a face for the ages.  Good luck playing your happy tunes now!”  With that, once again, the evil sorcerer ran out of the room.  Following his departure, the other three band members crowded around Jim to see if he was okay.  Jim used his hands to feel around his head, and after a moment wrote a note to the other three.  The note simply said ‘Unzip My Face’.

And that is just what they did.  Spicy O’Neil, the drummer, reached behind Jim’s head, felt around a little, and pulled a zipper from the crown of Jim’s head down to the base of his chin.  This broke the spell and restored Jim’s real, smiling face.  “Well would you look at that?” Spicy asked.  “Guys, that may be the ‘Bravest Smile’ I’ve ever seen!”  With everyone back to normal, the band decided that they had to try to change the sorcerer’s evil ways.  All he needed was to hear the songs the band played, and he would be forever changed.  It was clear however that he would not come to them.  No, they had to take these ‘Good Things’ to him.

The evil sorcerer lived in a creepy mansion on the outskirts of town.  The band set up their equipment on his front lawn and called for him to come outside.  “What are you doing here?” demanded the evil sorcerer.  “We’re ‘Not Through With You Yet’ evildoer!” responded the group.  Before the sorcerer could say another word, the band broke into song.  They played without break for around thirty minutes.  When they were through Gay Elvis addressed the sorcerer.  “Friend, through the power of our music, the evil inside of you has been ‘Erased’!”  With an enormous smile on his face the sorcerer thanked the band for their kindness.  “Thank you Readymade Breakup!  From now on I will only use my magic for good and to make others happy.  Thank you so much!”

And they all lived happily ever after.  The End.

My apologies if what I’ve written above has given you, my fellow waveriders, the impression that the music of Readymade Breakup is strictly for kids.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In reality, the music played by this band is well suited for babies, children, teenagers, adults, seniors, and anything else with a working pair of ears on their body.  That’s right, animals too!  Even though they cannot thank you with intelligible speech, believe me, they will be thrilled to hear this incredible album.  Actually, incredible is not an adequate descriptor in this case.  Let’s use stupefying instead.  As in, this album is so fantastic, it’s stupefying!  Over the past two weeks since I was first introduced to it, this music has bolted past mere ‘like’ status straight into the realm of ‘musical narcotic’ essential for daily living.  I fear the withdrawals!

Readymade Breakup
, as you might have pieced together from their tale, is a four piece rock and roll band.  When I first investigated them online a few websites slapped the label powerpop on them, so I’ll stick with that too for now.  But what does powerpop describe?  In my mind it is quite simple.  Think of music which has mass appeal, something easily sung along with or hum able, but that frequently has the full band amped to eleven.  We’re talking about tsunamis of harmonious singing layered atop pounding, intricate drums and thick guitar and bass lines that bypass your brain to go directly after your central nervous system.  Honestly, this album should come with a surgeon general’s warning along with a picture of the happiest person they can find to photograph.  Buyers beware!

As for the music itself, words nearly fail me.  The album rockets out of the blocks with “Inside All Along”.  The opening lyrics perfectly describe the structure of the song.  ‘It comes on real slowly, and builds to the only, sound in my head, like an old familiar friend.’  It begins slowly and peacefully to place the listener in their comfort zone, and then gradually builds upon itself before hitting the massive chorus.  “Just” is bombastic from start to finish.  Perhaps it is because of the echo-laden guitar lines, but “Waiting For You” feels more organic than the first two songs.  The bass tone on this song exudes warmth like a furnace as well.  I mean no disrespect to the next two tracks, “Waiting For You” and “Unzip My Face”, but I’m going to jump directly to my favorite two song combination in recent memory.  “Bravest Smile” has grooves as deep as the Grand Canyon, and effervescent choruses that get my head bobbing with excitement every time, without fail.  What comes next, “Good Things”, is one of the best songs I have heard in a long, long time.  There is not one thing about this song that does not connect with me on a deep, subcutaneous level.  Not one!  To complete the listening experience, the band switches things up with the touching ballad “Not Through With You Yet” before drawing the proceedings to a close with “Erased”, a perfect encapsulation of what they do so well.

It is a real shame that I only listened to this album at the beginning of 2011.  If I had managed to hear it upon its release late in 2010, the album would have easily made my top ten list.  Regrettably, due to the current timeframe, I can only offer up positively glowing statements and hope to draw as much attention as possible.  So here you go.  A perfect score!  Five out of five stars!  Ten out of ten!  Two thumbs way up!  Still in need of convincing?  That’s okay.  Go to the band’s website and listen to the full album.  You will not regret your decision.  Now back to the classroom.

I glanced up at my audience as I closed the storybook.  All the children were clearly enraptured by the tale of Readymade Breakup.  It took only a few seconds before a couple of them asked me to read the story to them again.
“Read it again Mr. Penfold.  Read it again!”
“I’m sorry kids, but your teacher says I’m out of time for today.  How about if I promise to come back next week and read to you again?  Would that be all right?”
This last question was greeted with a loud, sustained “Yeah!”.
“Good.  I’m glad you feel that way.  I’ll see you in a week.  Bye, bye for now.”

-- Penfold

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