Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vessels- Helioscope

I am a shallow music listener because usually I don't take the time to find out anything about the band I am listening to. I figure, they sound good, why bother finding out anything about them? Unless of course they are really, really good. (Did you know that Little Birdy was named after a Ween song?) The Vessels made me endeavour to discover something interesting as their music was so interesting, and this would also allow me to tack something onto the end of my recommendation.

“Have you heard the Vessels? Oh! You should they are good and *INSERT INTERSTING COMMENT HERE*”

So, off to google I go and the first thing I find is their webpage (handy thing > ) and discover they are British. This may not seem major to many people but I am a real sucker for British music (I know... I am a traitor to my own country) and this seemed like something I ought to follow on with. I then found out that they had a previous album that they released back in 2008 (Don't worry. It is downloading now.) They also consist of five members; Tim  Mitchell, Martin Teff, Tom Evans, Lee J. Malcolm and Peter Wright.

Moving on from my lame background information that most of you probably know already...

Helioscope. Good stuff. Actually, really good stuff. Considering I had to wait two hours for it to download because I went over my limit, it had better have been. It didn't disappoint.

The first song on the album "Monoform" served as a way of calming me down from the murderous- throw- my- laptop- out- of- the- window point I was at. It is sort of trippy and reminds me a little of "M4" by the Faunts but more rock. "The Trap" keeps the mood.

The first vocals on the album start at "Recur" and I like it. It is simple  and  perfectly compliments the complicated almost rock music your ears are now revealed to.

"Later Than You Think" opens with a calming soft sound that has you straining to pick out what exactly it is. The music then builds your suspense as it becomes louder and closer to you then fades off  and opens up to another complicated, rhythmic and creative part of the song. The sound at the beginning then fades out, and it opens up to reveal another layer, then comes back to the sound. It goes round and round like this and it is a piece of music that is very well thought out and planned but still holds a spontaneous feeling in it as you aren't quite sure what the next layer it holds.

So maybe I am just a little girl on the inside because I was giggling for several minutes because of the title, and the lyrics of "Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute", “We'll ride horses, After we bathe together.” This is not because I am an insensitive, immature person but because a few of my straight male friends were joking about riding horses naked together the very same night... Seemed like an odd and funny coincidence to me... After I got over my own personal problems I really had to respect this song for its creativity and musical talents. The eerie sweet tinkling music and right of stage singing gives way to the end rock climax.

"Art/Choke" then continues the rock mood "Meatman, Piano Tuner and Prostitute" just set up, but minus the vocals. It builds the rock mood, then breaks off to allow for some fancy frett work, then builds again. Heal takes you back into the electronic sounds that the Vessels seem to have mastered.

"All Our Ends" is my favourite song on the album. Vocals, electronic music, the complicated layering all perfectly matched and really hits the spot.

Finally,  "Spun Infinite" is the prefect end to Helioscope with note holding lyrics to electronic mixed music. It seems quite a sad song, due to the elongated sound over the minor notes.

All in all, a good album. The strong instrumental and electronic sounds are quite polished with the vocals enhancing the music instead of being the reason to have the music. Refreshing and invigorating to listen to.

- Koala

Buy here: Helioscope

Friday, April 29, 2011

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising

This is... gonzo journalism!

This is... method reviewing!

Come on, Strasberg and Stanislavski, let's rev up my affective (race?) memory and feel the pillage! (I'm German-American, so surely there's pillaging memory in there somewhere....)
I, in the spirit of the pillaging Viking hordes (pretty sure that name's copywritten), have written this entire review of Sweden's Amon Amarth and their newest, Surtur Rising, while drinking mead.

Mead-- the honey-wine every Viking and his mother drank.

You're welcome.
You know how Goddamn hard it is to find mead around here?

The things I do for you....

So: the Mead I actually found,  Oliver's Camelot Mead, tastes like, well, Honey wine (though apparently I should've tried this or thiskind).
A lot stronger than beer, less so than wine, it tastes like really light liquid honey with alcohol in it. I can't stand wine, but this is not bad. Not as good as beer, which I do so enjoy, but not bad at all.

One 5 oz. serving in:
Opener "War of the Gods" hammers in the intro theme with a crushing downbeat with melody that segues into a chorus that you could chant over a fire.... Amon Amarth sound confident and strong, and old Viking ruler --Odin?-- who's seen a lot and knows it back to front...will make you mad mead is so hard to get in comparison to beer;

Former albums have been fairly filler-dense, with a couple or three songs that are so good you forget the rest... I'm curious how this will pan out....

"Töck's Taunt: Loke's Treachery Part II" follows their pattern in songwriting: somewhat memorable verse followed by hooky-in-a- somehow-Viking way chorus... not quite as good as the first track, but quite good... we fade out into:

"Destroyer of the Universe"  which thrashes its ways, at 200 bpm, into a rager of a tune-- sounding like a cousin to "Twilight of the Thunder God" from their previous work, this time faster and with more solos and riffs....

"Slaves of Fear" a rager, though not to the previous degree, but is nothing near filler and rages and rages and rages....

Two Servings (10 oz.) in:
"Live Without Regrets" continues the Viking-themed melody with death metal vocals motif... but does little new with it, Amon Amarth's riffing in B standard, a fifth below standard tuning... somehow making up for the lack of nuance....

"The Last Stand of Frej" is suitable epic (and yet tragic) in its sonic recounting of the tale of the Norse goddess of majick, war and death... fades out to "For Victory or Death," which, clichéd title or no, which starts like a combination of Mercyful Fate and Bay Area Thrash....

Forget "Wrath of the Norsemen" overall, though at 2:10 it drops briefly into a nice little dirge/breakdown... "A Beast Am I" brings the fury back at 230 bpm, leaves behind the melody and just fucking rages....

 "Doom Over Dead Man," though I'm not sure what the title means, is perhaps the most emotional (read: bittersweet) track on here-- primitive instrument melodies about: conches, horns, shouts, abound... the rallying cry of a race (sadly?) long dead....

Long may they live...!!

And: though you know always what you're getting....

Bottom Line (15 ozs. in):

It's their stride.
This is feasting hall music.

This is music you scream with your barbarian friends after you've bested Grendel's Mother.

This is war music that manages to avoid the cheese of Manowar (said with love).

Now hoist your Goddamned tankards...!

To Amon Amarth!!! To Mount Doom!!!

May their kingdom resist weather, time and treachery...!

Buy here: Surtur Rising
Buy here Deluxe Box: Surtur Rising
Buy here mp3: Surtur Rising
Buy here vinyl: Surtur Rising

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Small Stone Triple Axe Attack – part II featuring, Suplecs, Lo-Pan, and Ironweed

I’ve been neglecting my pile of recent Small Stone releases lately. They’ve been sitting here for a few weeks now and every time I try to get around to writing them the demands of reality (ugh!) demand my attention and another day slips by. But not anymore! Here a triple decker of new stuff from the unusually consistent rock label.

Suplecs - Mad Oak Redoux

First up is the new one from Suplecs called Mad Oak Redoux. This New Orleans outfit has been going for about 15 years and show no signs of mellowing out. I’d never heard these guys before and really enjoyed their mix of classic influences like Black Sabbath and The Misfits merged with Soundgarden, Melvins and Nirvana. About half the songs are short and fast and they stretch out on some of the longer ones. “Stand Alone” reminds me a lot of forgotten Louisville titans Kinghorse with their mix of Sabotage-era Sabbath riffs with a big Danziggy chorus. “Fema Man” is a suitably pissed off song about hurricane Katrina and all the bullshit that went on afterwards. “Switchblade” and “2x4” are the longest songs, about 6 minutes each, and pound heavy. 10 songs, 40 minutes. Hit and quit it. Nice one.

Buy here: Small Stone

Lo-Pan – Salvador

If you keep your records in alphabetical order and have Thin Lizzy right next to Tool then chances are Lo-Pan is for you. Fast, heavy, pissed off music with strong vocals and plenty of good hooks. There are some great guitar freak outs that would make both Tommy Bolin and Piggy from VoiVod smile. Lo-Pan hails from Columbus, OH and try as they might they cannot escape the classic rock stranglehold that exists in that part of the country but they’re way too heavy for any commercial rock station. Good songwriting and plenty of dynamics keep some of the longer songs from getting dull. Maybe they can convince Eric Moore of The Godz to contribute to the next one.

Buy here: Small Stone

Ironweed - Your World Of Tomorrow

I always liked the name Ironweed and now that I’ve heard their music I like that a lot, too. Hailing from the New York state capitol, Ironweed are easily the best thing to come from Albany since Blotto. Ironweed are a straight ahead pummeling metal band. Two crushing guitars, pounding rhythm section and lots of good yelling, Ironweed remind me of another great Small Stone band Solace. Fans of anything hard n heavy ranging from vintage Judas Priest to D.R.I. will love Ironweed. Starving iron dogs will feast upon this bloody platter of raw riff metal.

Buy here: iTunes

It’s worth noting that all three of these releases were produced and recorded by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Boston. The sound is hard, clear and punchy and will definitely sound good in your car as flip off the slow pokes in the right lane.

-- Woody

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meekos &Me- Anxious Little Turtles

The first thing you will notice about the new LP released by this LA based band is the fourteen song length. Now, I am no expert but fourteen songs is longer than the average LP, especially if they are of this quality. All of the songs are really good and the sound is built to suit the content. Due to their changing style and story telling it manages to keep you interested throughout the entire fourteen songs.

As I have mentioned, Meekos&Me is a LA based band. They are comprised of guitarist, songwriter and singer Joey Colando and classically trained cellist Danny Grab. Anxious Little Turtles is their debut release and gives a glimpse of the greatness that is to come. It is difficult to sum them up into a single genre as it is clearly a work of creative collaboration rather than a decision to make a folk band or a rock band.

“Entropy” is the opening of the album. With good acoustics and cello support and creative, clever lyrics it gets you ready for what is to come.
“I say I love you,
You say you love me.
But oh my god,
Its been way too long.
Strength divides the weak from the strong”

It is surprising how well the electric sound from the guitar and the classical cello work together in “Grove Street”, accompanied with soulful vocals and lyrics about separation. Tied together to make a neat package.
“We've got green plants in the garden
It was nothing before we stared
And I know that
So stop your whining
Get away from me, if you are crying.”

“Underwater Dream” is a song about a merman's love for a human and is recorded to sounds muffled and bubbly, as if you were underwater as well. It really shows of the duo's creative outlook on their music.
“I can walk on water, on the bottom of the sea,
And when I talk to you, you can't understand me.”

“Animals in my Room” immediately caught my attention because of the opening with the Kookaburra laugh and the other lyrics that refer to Australian animals,
“Kangaroos, Polar bears,
Owls with their crazy stares,
And I am scared”
This was released as the single and it is easy to see why. It represents the album well with its eccentricity that still stays between the lines of normalcy. 

“Mountains in the Rearview” has a “hillbilly” sound to it with banjo like sounds and the pitch climb that hillbilly music has. Additionally, interesting lyrics.
“I'm going home,
Because you're back home.
Every night we are the last to fall asleep,
We talk about music
And we act so casually”

“Steven and Kirsten” is one of those growing up and moving on songs that most people are going to relate to. It is lyrically well written with a country sound to it (think tambourines). I especially related to it as it is pretty much how I ended up moving to the city. Just decided to one day and packed.
“All she wanted to know,
Is why you move so slow,
All you have to do is pack and go”

Joey Colando's talent on the guitar is on showcase with “Fantasies and Fairies” being carried by his brilliant fingerpicking style. With creative lyrics it is another exceptional song.
“Fantasies and flying fairies
Are you insane?
Act your age.
You gotta act your age
These days”

 “Umbrella” opens with Danny Grab's cello solo then breaks into being rhythm based. The cello stills features largely in this song and has a really good sound to it.
“I saw you laugh a lot the other day
You looked so cute
Do you think you look any other way?”

“If I Don't” has a great acoustics accompanied by soulful cello which is perfectly matched for this love song.
“I'll be with you some day,
I will.
I'll be with you one day,
My heart always will.”

“Whistle” is another sweet acoustic song that has almost dark lyrics to it. Unexpected but brilliant.
“But I whistle everyday
Cause I have nothing to say.
I lose my mind with you
I will someday
Oh, one day.”

“Kid Things” another song that is percussion and cello dominated but it then opens to a surprising electric guitar climax. It was really enjoyable hearing it open up and explode like that.

“Whistle (reprise)” is the only song on the album that is not full length. Whistling to the tune of “Whistle” it is a sweet way to wrap things up.

Overall, a really creative album. It is enjoyable to listen to and I will be on the look out for their next releases. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show - Revisited

It is Mardi Gras and Spring Break all rolled into one.  Then, lit and smoked.  The band members’  tongues are firmly pressed into their cheeks as they look for a party. They make you cry, laugh,  whoop and holler.  Then, they’ll roll you another one.  Yes, the Doctor is in the house.

First, there was George Cummings, Ray Sawyer and Billy Francis and it was good. Then came Dennis Locorriere and it was better.  In 1969 a club owner asked for their name.and their decision-making probably went something like this:


“We ah,” (pulls out another zigzag rolling paper) “we need a name” (rolls zigzag with one hand and licks it).  “The man wants us to give him a band name.” (takes a “strike anywhere”” match, scrapes it on his unshaven chin, lights the zig zag and takes a long inhalation.) “Well, any ideas? (the cigarette and conversation pass to the right.)


(Large puff, followed by a cloud of exhalation) “Damn, that’s tough.  Any of you got some pills? My head is killing me.” (Pockets are searched and contents placed on table)


(Looking at contents on table) “Wow!  Man,  that is a god damn medicine show!  Hey, let’s call ourselves the ‘Medicine Show.’” (large toke, and the conversation moves to the right.)

Sawyer (who wears an eyepatch due to a 1967 car accident):

“Naw, not good enough.  We need a hook.  That’s it!  How ‘bout “Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show?”   (Nods all around; mint juleps are sipped;  roach is extinguished.)


“Umm. What were we talkin’ about?”

Well, maybe not like that but that is how I have always envisioned  it  (according to wikipedia Sawyer is “mistakenly considered Dr. Hook because of the eyepatch.”) The band had a string of top 100 hits until 1983 when Sawyer left the band.  Their early, gritty, hits are the subject of their pre-disco 1976 Best of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show release called “Revisited.”

You won’t find the later hits “Sexy Eyes,”  "When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman" or “Walk Right In” here.  You will find an amalgamation of the band’s best “quirky” work, with almost all of the lyrics written by the late, great writer/poet Shel Silverstein. . Sure, you get the time-tested hit “Cover of The Rolling Stone,”  but you also get “Sylvia’s Mother,”  which tells of a man trying to telephone his ex-girlfriend, Sylvia Avery, to say one last goodbye, but unable to get past her mother; “Acapulco Goldie,” a tale about a beautiful Acapulco prostitute; “Freakin’ At The Freakers’ Ball,” a journey best characterized as a visit to San Francisco’s yearly Exotic-Erotic Ball; “Makin’ It Natural,”  about “going straight” over a woman; “Penicillin Penny,” which explores the life of a Sunset Strip streetwalker with venereal disease;  “Get My Rocks Off,”  a ditty about what things are needed for the singer to, well, get his rocks off; “Carry Me, Carrie,”  a poetic look at a delusional, alcohol addicted, street person; “Queen Of The Silver Dollar,” the saga of a female bar fly who is ultimately won by the singer; and “Roland The Roadie And Gertrude The Groupie,” the story of a roadie in love with a groupie who is only in love with groups.

Okay, this isn’t classic.  It isn’t pop.  It isn’t straight ahead rock.  It’s not jazz,  What is it?  It is Mardi Gras and Spring Break all rolled into one.

- Old School 

Buy here: Revisited
Buy here mp3: Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show Revisited

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taddy Porter - S/T

“Hey man, we got the kegs.  Four of em.  You ready?”

Ready?  The words trickle through my brain.  I’m 18 years old, finishing high school.  Hanging with my friends Jeff, Paul, Ron, John, and Chris.  Dave is there.  So’s Bob.  Gary's somewhere.  The beer is cold.  An abandoned barn has been pre-scouted as the spot du jour.  My “man-machine” the 1974 Fiat is gassed and ready, intimidating the world with it's huge rubber bumpers.  The word has been spread around the school.  It’s time for a good old-fashioned beer blowout. 

And it’s up to me to bring the music.

Now, in reality, that scene may have taken place in the late ‘70’s or early ‘80’s, but the perfect music to complete this scene just dropped into my hands, fresh and dirty in 2011.

Taddy Porter bring on a southern-fried, greasy blitz of big riff, blues-infected rock that just begs to be cranked up and blown out of ’67 Camaro’s, ’73 Mach One’s, and just about any pick-up truck ever made.  These guys are simply a party in a bottle.  This is retro-rock, near-perfection and should blow the band huge.  Their blues riffs are meaty and beefy enough to get the guys gathered around the keg head-bobbing in rock-mania unison, while the backbeat grooves and undulates with enough sex to keep the girls swaying their hips on the dancefloor.  Or in this case, the dance barn.

I knew I was in good shape from the very first seconds of “Whatever Haunts You,” quite simply a monster of retro-fried Zeppelin blues frenzy.  From the very first moment, the boys show restraint, inherently knowing what it takes to bring dynamic to the song.  A simple, bluesy guitar stutter brings us on.  A drum beats somewhere in the background, steadily, like someone making love behind the barn door.  Slowly, languidly, the pace picks up until . . . all blues hell breaks loose.  Andy Brewer belts out the opening with a gruff-Plant energy as guitars, bass, and drums kick into full fury around him.  Dust bellows from the abandoned barn as air guitars break out from the guys and those young girls start swaying in ways far too seductive to write about in a family music site.  Oh fuck that.  They’re sexy as all get out.  Guys lining the walls watching those girls grind and shake, fantasies filling their heads.  And in each of those fantasies, “Whatever Haunts You,” is playing.  Dropping down to a mid-song respite, bellowing back up with a raging guitar solo courtesy of Joe Selby.  Kevin Jones on bass and Doug Jones on the kit keep those female hips taunting and teasing.  A great modern blues rock number through and through.

“Big Enough” keeps the sexual energy driving with a country-fried blues work-out.  This is what I always wanted the Black Crowes to sound like.  Big muscular guitars, stop-start riffing, snotty backing vocals, and Andy spewing out lyrics that seem to be about just what you might think with a title like “Big Enough.”  Not sure about that, but on my imaginary dancefloor that’s what they’d all be thinking anyways.  Toss in a truly bopping chorus and this song is another barn burner.

“Shake Me,” rocks in a Bad Company vein, maybe with a touch of BTO or many other 70’s rockers.  The opening riff reminds me of half of an ELO track before it takes off into dirty blues rock heaven.   For the life of me, I can’t imagine why this song wouldn’t be a hit.  In the 70’s it would’ve been and Taddy Porter would be filling stadiums with their southern Arena rock approach.  And the crowd would’ve eaten it up.   Whiskey soaks through each note like a home-bottled brew of 70’s moonshine.  Each riff is powered with enough grit and dust to make it truly authentic.  These aren’t guys going through the motions and they aren’t living in the past.  They’re living this rock, day to day, moment to moment.  Authenticity drips from each song like blood from an opened vein.  Toss some Stone Axe into the mix and we got a whole new breed of modern 70’s rock. 

As the party rages on and the keg starts to dry up, “Long Slow Drag” offers a brief respite from the frenzied rock.  A momentary slow dance before “I Gotta Love,” attacks in Blackfoot intensity.   The party rages back to full force.  With that charging guitar riff and killer vocal hook, hands fly into the air, the dance barn fills, beer flies and spills.  “Mean Bitch” sums up the wallflower guys’ thoughts at all the girls who rejected them that night with a guitar solo that can burn off enough of these guys’ pent up sexual frustrations.

The first fight of the night erupts to the rocking second half of “Fire in the Streets” which escalates from it’s subdued beginning in true Bad Company fashion to a full-on fist-throwing guitar epic mid-section.  A few lips get bloodied.  A few girls start crying in high school dramatics.  It’s all good.  It’s a Saturday night at a barn beer fest. 

Finally, as the keg runs dry, Taddy Porter cool the crowd down with the restrained, mid-tempo closers of “Railroad Queen” with it’s tasty slide licks and southern boogie, then the finale of “King Louie” a guitar screamer with a fierce backbeat a la The Rockets or 38 Special when they were good.  Andy’s voice really shines here revealing some tastefully roughed up soulful vocal chords, and the band ushers the crowd out with some stinging guitar leads.

The Camaros fire up.  The Mach One’s drive off.  Empty kegs get thrown into the back of the pick up trucks and I climb behind the wheel of my . . . Fiat.  Testosterone burned.  Sweat stained.  Sexual fantasy induced.  It’s been one helluva night.

And Taddy Porter is on tap for next weeks blast as well.


Buy here: Taddy Porter
Buy here mp3: Taddy Porter (Amazon Exclusive Version)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Come Join The Ripple Effect Facebook Page - Your Source for Tons of Excellent Free Music!

Yeah, yeah, we know.  Although we've had a Ripple Music Facebook page going for some time with some 1300 friends joining us, it took us a while to get around to launching a true Ripple Effect FB page.

But the wait is over.

Best of all, we're making a conscious effort not to make the FB page a carbon copy of The Ripple.  Occasionally, we  may cross-promote some really cool news, or tour dates, or reviews, but for the most part we're planning on making the Ripple FB page a real companion to The Ripple Effect.

And primarily, that means your source for some truly excellent free music!  Yep, we're gonna use that forum as our place to upload all the links that come in to some great free albums, singles, compilations . . . whatever.  As long as it's good music, it's free, and it's legal, we'll get it up on the Ripple FB.

So far, we've already posted links to the killer Tsurumi Records free compilation, the latest awesome set from Exploding in Sound, Stoner rock nirvana from the Soda Shop, a Canadian Death Metal compilation and a single from the brand new band, Bowery Beasts.  All free.

So pop on over to Ripple FB.  Friend us.  Tell all your friends (please) and just wait to see what's the next free album we giveaway.

And, as always, drop off your thoughts, comments, suggestions.  We really do listen to our waveriders and want to make this community as fun as possible.


The Ripple Effect Gang.

Ripple News - Tsurumi Records Releases Free 10 song Sampler

Ardent vinyl lovers Tsurumi Records are extending their passion to digital giveaways this Spring.  Love is in the air and Tsurumi Records wants to share theirs with everyone.  It kicks off today with 10 free downloadable tracks that sample their catalogue. The Tsurumi Sampler will be available for free until the release of their 5th album Last Chance Summer Dance by latest label signee Fonzarelli. 

Tsurumi Records is home to garage punks The Beautiful Mothers, the lo-fi rock of The Second Academy, the elegant noise that is Tokyo’s Golden and now Fonzarelli, an epitaph solo project turned indie rock spectacle.

With a focus on a love for vinyl, Tsurumi Records has one simple goal: release music that listeners can’t live without.   Remember a time not too long ago when you could purchase an album without a sample listen, simply because of your faith in the label that released it? Tsurumi Records remains a trustworthy source for refreshing and interesting music. For more information on Tsurumi Records visit

To listen to and download the Tsurumi Sampler for free, click here:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cattle Drums- The Boy Kisser Sessions +3

The thing that works with pop rock is the mix of catchy pop and heavy rock sounds. This EP by Cattle Drum brings that together, but in an unexpected way. Usually in pop/rock albums, the music is rock and the vocals provide the sing along pop but not with this EP. The music almost reaches the point of pop, the vocals definitely rock. It is possible to even go as far as saying the only thing that makes it pop is the guitar riffs that make you want to play along.

The entire The Boy Kisser Sessions +3 EP is full of cryptic lyrics and is wildly unpredictable making it really fun to listen to.

The first surprise is delivered with the first song. "New Furniture and Wigs" is a great opening to the album with an awesome riff that makes your reach for your guitar to try and play. The surprise is really the vocals. After hearing the riff you are expecting something a little  Fall Out Boy in flavour, but you don't. You get hit with impact making, tuneful shouting. The same sort of taste follows with "Who Punched Pat Moore's Face"- really great riff.

Just when you are thinking, “Okay... I think I can get what they are doing here...” they pop in "Sluts and Coconuts" which brings the two fast paced impact hitting songs to a slower more relaxed point. With a smoother, higher pitched riff and lyrics you can almost follow. "Bovrg the Nag" keeps you on the same wave as "Sluts and Coconuts", which is something you can appreciate in the roller coaster that is this EP.

 "Two Pigeons" has a sweet little opening, with acoustic guitar and soft drums, transitions into the faster paced, and backs off again later in the song.

"Just the Right Height" has an electronic start opening up to the tuneful shout that, at this point in the EP, you are beginning to really like. The lyrics still baffle you with things like-

“Doc scaled the walls of the typhoon front line, but I don’t mind the drive underground. Put em’ up high. A left handed pitcher who only throws curves, throws a fit”

"All the Electric Secrets of Hell" begins with my favourite riff of the album because it is soft and engaging. The obscure lyrics have also grown on you and you can almost find yourself wanting to sing along to the chorus of-

“Uh oh I’ve been waiting up all night, for something sweet, to crawl in my mouth.
You’re cutting out 'land ho' I’m wasting away out of bounds, scraping off my nails, and chewing off my tongue, but I’m at it again wearing in the wrong shoes.”

"I Know Who Killed Me" tops off the unpredictability of The Boy Kisser Sessions +3 by opening with lyrics, which none of the other songs have done. This is my favourite song because it provides me with a mental picture in my head of some crazy imaginary world thanks to the opening lines-

“I want to be more than a dramatic silhouette spilling gasoline on my paper shoes, to waste away playing kicking the can in an uphill landscape full of loose connections, a landscape prone to open flame.”

It can be also noticed, that in this song the shouting has almost dissolved into talking and the final half with just the tapping throws me out of my imaginary land into a jungle waiting for a cannibalistic tribe to eat me.

It is as if the Cattle Drums just went insane during this EP, and that is why I like it. You have no idea what is going on, where it is heading and you can't even sing along because you are never quite sure if you are going left or right. It appeals to me, and hopefully to others, because it is unlike most other productions. If anyone works out the meaning of it all, let me know.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Horn's Black Metal Anthology! (Dragged Into Sunlight and Ogen)

Dragged Into Sunlight: King Diamond become more black metal, with D-beat groove, baby... they're sludgy detuned black metal, with basement (dungeon?)-esque production to boot... they're lovers of lots of overdubbed excerpts from sinister-sounding soundbytes/ movies, not unlike White/Rob Zombie, or bits of Exodus' Pleasures of the Flesh....

They've trebly-yet-low tunings, blast beats that segue well into lurching riffs, vocals so buried they're like a meth addict screaming from the apartment next door in your tenement in the Dis section of Hell....

They require some degree of desensitization to appreciate (like black metal)-- Tracks?

"Boiled Angel," lurches fro and to... "Buried With Leeches," (at 1:43 becomes noticeably louder; highlights cheap --tr00?-- production), and at 4:44 drops into a lurching two-chord riff with tribal drumming slowly emerging from underneath... then sounds like a thrash band's breakdown (but all while sounding like the same band, not a hodge-podge of styles), nicely blended....

Final track "Totem of Skulls," is purely ambient, studded with audio tracks of... excerpted psychotic manifesto talking points... Manson ready for CNN....

Severely-abused-child-with-psychotic-disorder's-drawing cover art aside, much more put together and worth hearing than you might think....

Ogen: Black Metal Unbound:

Nice production (i.e., bass), very cool chord changes (in tracks --"traccias"-- one and two), blast beats used sparingly, but well when so used....

Track two, "Black Tusk Retaliation," [Italian Black Metal etymology?] seemingly taps directly into the Archetypal Fear of Man, when Mankind was of caves and cookfires....

Evocative soundscapes/ almost soundtracks for a wilderness-- each track drops into rhythmic, almost "breakdown"-type parts to invoke the savage prehistorical dances of men around a fire at night, ecstatic with their however-temporary transcendence in appeal to God....

"Crest of the Forgotten" has cool 6/8 time choral section;

"As a leaden Sun shineth upon," shows you what you've been suspecting about the music so far: it's not the blast beats, or the open-chord over choral vocals, or the occasional gallops at 300 bpm (all the black metal staples, basically) that sets this album apart: it's the chord voicings, plus the odd, dissonant chord progressions that stick with you: initially they can be very disconcerting to the ear (and so the brain)-- the chords crash up against each other, sounding odd and eerie; however, after getting used to the alien beauty of the chords, "normal" chord progressions like you hear in every pop song, sound so bland so as to barely register as sound, let alone music: it's almost like Ogen is so heavy that even their chord progressions, not the Black Metal parts, but the so-called "relaxing" ambient/drone parts (without lyrics, usually) are desensitizing in and of themselves.

A heavier Alcest?

Songs nicely economical; short....

Not Winter music, like the cover would suggest, but late Autumn music: music pregnant with the sadness of the coming loss, the things to die, the fear that they may not return, the fear that you've angered the sun, that the dark may not go away, that your best days are behind you... a very primitive fear, embodied in these chord changes....

Dragged Into Sunlight is immediately gratifying; Ogen will grow on you.


Buy here: Hatred for Mankind 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bossa Nova & The Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s

Many find it hard to believe but I often need to take a break from high volume, head banging rock, punk and metal. The fact is staying away from what you love makes you love and crave it even more. And when I need to rest my battered ears I do not turn to mellow singer-songwriter crap, electronic “chill out” garbage or, even worse, Wilco. There are many other musical avenues I like to travel but one of my favorites is the high energy and rhythmically exciting realm of Brazilian music. I have many Bossa Nova compilations but when I saw that the well respected UK label Soul Jazz was putting out a double CD (also available on double LP) I picked it up without hesitation.

I’m far from an expert on the topic of Bossa Nova and its origins so I won’t bother to try and explain its evolution. Once you hear it, you’re hooked and there’s no turning back. Bossa Nova demands your attention and involvement. It is impossible to listen to this music and not start stomping your foot and banging on the table or nearest bottle. At first you may drive those around you nuts but before too long, they too, are tapping their pencil on the side of their coffee mug and a massive percussion discussion is happening all around you.

Like most compilations on Soul Jazz, there’s an excellent mix of well known and obscure artists. Big names like Joao Gilberto, Sergio Mendes, Gilberto Gil and Antonio Carlos Jobim are represented while most of the other artists were unfamiliar to me. There are 17 songs per disc and not a single one is even close to a dud. How often does that happen? As an import, it’s a little bit pricey but you get excellent value for money on this package. The 74 page book is very interesting and has lots of great photos. There’s lots more I could say about this but I’d rather listen. Loud, too.


buy here: Bossa Nova Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s

Buy here book: Bossa Nova

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Bell- Great Heat

This album come to me at a most ironic time as I was shivering in beanie's and other cold weather gear. There will be people going, “It snows in Australia?!” and my response will be no. It was just five degrees (Celsius) and I was freezing...

Moving on to the album...

The Heat is The Bell's second release (their first being back in 2007 with Make Some Quiet) and the Sweden based trio have been getting some attention for this one it seems.

The Heat held its appeal for me because it sounds like the 80's music I was brought up listening to- electronic and a little trippy on occasion.

It all kicks off with “Dope Makes You”, smooth riffs, electronic sounds and cool vocals.
“Dope makes you just likes like other men”

“Holiday” is more heavy on the electronics with the vocals also being shrouded with synthetics. It is also relies on the beat more.

“I Can't Change” is one of my favourites as it opens right away with really smooth, and rhythmic sounds, before going into more electronic vocals for the chorus.

“I can't change,
I can't the world”

“The Sound” isn't as heavy as “Holiday” on the synthetics but the chorus opens up and becomes really big electronic rock. The electronic sounds are back in quantity for “Tell Us You're Sorry.”

Opening with smooth sounds “Throw Me A Bone” is another stand out on the album, cool rhythms, raw vocals, catchy lyrics, it is all there.

“I knew it was over,
When you were gone.
You gained independence,
But you don’t know what from.”

“Today” takes you back to the heavy electronics of “Holiday.”

I don't want to wait another day”

“What Ever Did You Say?” is the single of the album. It is clean and has catchy lyrics.

“Around and around
With my head in the clouds
I was just about to tell you a lie
What ever did you say?”

Grouped with neat riffs, perfectly balanced synthetics and a good rhythm it is a great song. Well chosen for the single.

“You Fell Behind” goes back onto the heavily electronic. Although it keeps up with the lyrics you would expect.

“You fell behind,
So many times”

Despite being named “23 Seconds” it actually goes for a lot longer than that. It is also much, much cleaner than the other songs. The riffs are more audible now and the vocals are sweet but icy. It is a nice end to a great album.

“The page is turning,
The bridge is burning,
And ashes keep holding on.”

The Heat is a really great album. The Bell hit all of the right notes and buttons to create something that sounds 80's and electronic. Best savoured in cold weather.


From the last album

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Legendary Acid Rockers, JPT Scare Band, Drop Hard Rocking New Single and Video “Long Day” to Celebrate National 420 Day. Exclusive World Premiere on The Obelisk

After more than 3 solid months of Acid Blues is the White Man’s Burden, holding down a top 5 spot in CD’s Extended Jam Category, legendary acid rockers, JPT Scare Band come roaring back with a blitzing assault on their newest single, “Long Day.”  Featuring the sizzling guitar work of Terry Swope, “Long Day,” tears through more than 7 minutes of searing guitar leads, massive bass riffs, and mammoth drum jamming, all in the definitive JPT Scare Band style.

To make things even more appropriate, JPT Scare Band and Ripple Music will release the single and world-premiere of the psychedelic video on April 20, 2011, National Weed Day.  The term 420 originated from a group of teenagers at San Rafael High School in California in 1971. The teens met after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke out at the Louis Pasteur statue.  Since then, the date has become legendary in the Stoner Rock community.  An ethos JPT Scare Band embraces whole heartedly.

After years of plying their frenzied, hard-rocking, acid blues trade in near obscurity, the love and accolades keep pouring in for JPT Scare BandClassic Rock Magazine honored JPT by including their last single “Not My Fault” on their November cover-mounted CD.   After previously naming JPT Scare Band one of the “lost pioneers of heavy metal,” Classic Rock continued the love fest proclaiming that “JPT Scare Band plied a terrifying form of ear-bludgeoning hard rock that was so far ahead of its time, people are still trying to catch up.”

The world premiere of the hard-rocking, definitively heavy psych video for “Long Day,” will make its debut April 20th exclusively at The Obelisk, one of stoner rock’s premiere websites and the home of The Obelisk Forum, a watering hole for thousands of fans of hard, heavy, stoner and doom rock.  You can find the video here: The Obelisk

 “Long Day” will be available as a digital single from CD Baby and all fine digital music emporiums.   Meanwhile, Acid Blues is the White Man’s Burden is still available in limited quantities from Ripple Music in two-toned, gatefold, double-LP with two bonus tracks, Deluxe digipack CD, or digital at

Go here to check out the world premiere video.

Honeychild - Nearer The Earth

Well, the first time that I met you, I took your cd for a spin
I couldn’t stop it, 'cause that would be a sin
You had an indie rock sense,
Your harmonies blessed,
Laptop and two mics yet recorded smooth as glass
And the sounds that you express
Are among the best
I had to write a blast.

Don't you know you drive me wild
Oh Honeychild
Don't you know you drive me wild
Just about to lose my mind

Well the second time that I met you, you were a group of six
All your talk with strings, keyboards and sticks
“Nearer The Earth” wails
Anthems and tales,
“The Father,” “Tijuana,” “Driving Song.” “The Owl,” “Away We Go”
“Lonesome Tiger,” “Joker’s Wild,” “Don’t Take Me Home”
Recorded at home
Reseda, Valley San Fernando

Don't you know you drive me wild
Oh Honeychild
Don't you know you drive me wild
Just about to lose my mind

I found out since I met you, the whole cd is free
A download well worth it indeed
A talented band
Whose time is at hand
Loose, jangly and downright bluesy
Unsigned and self-promoted
I’m real choosy
But, now I’m devoted

Don't you know you drive me wild
Oh Honeychild
Don't you know you drive me wild
Just about to lose my mind

Honey, honey, honey, Honeychild
Don't you know you drive me wild

- Old School (with apologies to Bad Company)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Return of Earnest Rock - Featuring Tin Horn Prayer, Only Thieves, The White Soots, and Thee Nosebleeds

It's there.  Can you feel it?

Bubbling up from the underground.  Pulsating from the heartbeat of the punk clubs and rock stages.  Surging from the heart of middle America.  A return to true, earnest rock and roll.  Maybe it's a reaction against the overly-produced drivel that fills the airwaves. Maybe it's a statement about getting back to our roots, to what's core and meaningful.  Shit, maybe it's all in my mind.  All I know is that the Ripple Office has been inundated recently with a barrage of quality, back-to-the-roots of rock and roll albums from a diverse cross-section of bands.  And I for one, couldn't be happier.  They all do it in their own unique way, and they all kick my ass.

So let's get to them.

Tin Horn Prayer - Get Busy Dying

Featuring ex-members of such punky bands as The Blackout Pact, Only Thunder, Ghost Buffalo, Love Me Destroyer, and Pinhead Circus, Tin Horn Prayer come out of the speakers like a methamphetamine-fueled Tom Waits with a major chip on his shoulder and a suicide complex.   Man, does this one kick me upside down of Tuesday!  Major roots Americana here, including banjo, mandolin, and accordion thrown into the mix with the (mostly acoustic) guitars, bass, and drums.  These guys go way outta their way to prove that punk is a state of mind, not a function of electricity.  "Better Living," just may be one of my favorite lead-off tracks I've heard all year.  Yeah, we got that mandolin kicking us off in all it's spartan beauty, bass and drums bubble underneath before the whole band launches into just a monster of an acousti-folk punk song.  One helluva verse melody and just a choral hook that can't help but capture you like a hangman's noose.   I mean one for the ages.  Toss in some ridden-hard-and-hung-up-wet vocals and I'm in roots-punk heaven.  When I say weathered, I don't mean these vocals are whiskey-aged, I mean they're perfectly leather-cracked, barely escaping from the vocal chords. This song saunters and rocks and funks and grooves, and it's all punk, baby.

"Crime Scene Cleanup Team," may be just about the most clever suicide note ever placed to music.  Rather than scrawling a note to those who've wronged him, the author composes his final lament as an apology to the crime scene cleanup team who're gonna have to clean up his house after he blows his brains into a "red Picasso painting on the walls."  Take lyrics like that and drop them over a seriously rockin' uptempo, guitar and banjo raver and you'll get a good feeling where these guys come from.   Earnest?  Hell, yes.  They're like an unplugged Dropkick Murphys,  or a head-on collision between Son Volt and the Street Dogs.  Either way, I can't stop listening.

Only Thieves - Heartless Romantics

Another beer-soaked belch of churning earnest rock and roll, this time layered with a slacker sensibility and a hint of full-on Replacements instability.  Cracking guitar work, layered upon layers bring an old school post-punk indy vibe to this cascading wall of sound.  This is pure rawk and roll, layered with years of grit and road dust.  Hearts are bared fully on their sleeves, and those sleeves dripping with sweat, whiskey, and a touch of exasperated blood.

Back in the day, we had a band called The Call.  Oh yeah.  Talk about earnest rock, with Michael Been belting it out as if his soul's salvation depended on it.  Only Thieves mine a similar roots-angst vibe, with their chiming guitar assault, spraying punk spit, and pleadingly honest lyrics and vocals.  Take a song like "Flood Lights" and I can almost hear Micheal Been's spirit being channeled in righteous indignation (RIP Michael.  You left us too soon).  That's not to say Only Thieves are revisionist, they certainly aren't.  Just take that Call template, inject it full of Replacements rawness, some Superdrag and Lucero punk and indy savvy, and coat that whole thing with the leftover dust from an Uncle Tupelo concert and you'll get the feeling.   "All Sad Young Men," masterfully mixes big indy guitars with exploding percussion, pop smarts and punk energy.  "Discoveries" does the same with massive tsunami walls of churning guitars and zealot vocals.  Springsteen gone punk.  I like it.

The White Soots - S/T

A do-it-yourself effort that literally reached out through the speakers with gripping hands of fuzzed guitars, grabbed my ears in their icy death-grip and pulled me right back through the circuitry into their insanely hip world of retro-fuzz. stoner-fied, acid-garage mania.  A three-piece of brothers Kyle Byrum on guitars and vocals, Kraig Byrum on drums, along with Karl Benge on bass, The White Soots first came to my attention from all the love the fine gents at The Soda Shop have showered on them over the months.  And let me tell you, the Soda Shop boys were right.  The lava lamp has gone and completed exploded all over these guys.

'60's speed-cranked, retro garage fuzz dominates this blissfully deranged psychedelic haze of pop concoctions.   Kyle lets loose hallucination-inducing rivers of guitar solos (as on "If I Go") that are enough to cause cosmic waves to collide in time warped tunnels of psych madness.  The Black Keys are here.  The White Stripes wish they could be.   But don't let all this talk of garage-psych madness put you off, the boys channel enough retro-R&B into their songwriting menagerie to bust out numbers like "Don't Shoot" and "You're Evil," or the pure groovy, gotta-bust-out-my-bell-bottoms hipster-vibe of "Watch the Horizon."   Monster-extended, JPT Scare Band-worthy jams like the 11 minute "Give Me Back My Land," and it's fuzz, senses-shattering guitar assault sit comfortably right next to 2 minute plus primal-garage pop stompers like "Where Did You Go."  No matter how you slice it, you can't lose.

Thee Nosebleeds - S/T

Now that The White Soots dropped us off in the garage, we may as well stay there, crawling way to the back underneath the rusting piles of moth-holed radiators, oil-stained rags, and sludge-crusted carburetors.  Somewhere back there, behind the moldy stack of semen-stained porn magazines you'll find Thee Nosebleeds, doing their damndest to not impress anyone.

Guitars whiz by like drive-by shootings.  Drums dissolve into the mix like acid melting through '70's worn vinyl.  There's a bass there . . . somewhere, or so I'm told.   Probably hiding behind the draino-ate-my-trachea vocals.  And amongst all this chaos, you'll find a freaking gem of cocaine-garage punk like "South Street Shooting Spree," or the bathtub-brewed meth speed punk fest of "As Fast as You Can."   These guys are so grizzled they eat razor blades for breakfast and spit out metal links that they somehow chain together into remarkably catchy songs like the chemical-freak meets The Ramones blitz of "Kill Kill Rock N Roll/Miss West Philly USA."  "Pigfoot's Revenge," works a belligerent blues riff into the mix, while "Motormouth" is simply 440 horse power garage gun metal punk at it's finest.

I couldn't be happier that this album didn't come as a "scratch and sniff" cause there just ain't no part of me that want's to know what these guys smell like.  But listening's just fine.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Campaign - Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

(1) New Email:  “I don’t know if it is your style or not, but give it a try.”

My instinctual response was “oh dear..” but I downloaded it anyway and ran out of the door as I was once again going to be late... Fast forward a few days and I find the EP whilst cleaning my download folder. Hitting play I am thinking I may need to admit to myself that I actually enjoy this sort of music more than I like to think I do...

Campaign’s Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! is punk. It doesn’t have punk “flavor”, it is punk. The heavy vocals, heavy guitar, and heavy drums might deter some, but it is very neatly pulled together to sound intricate and interesting.

My favorite song of the album is “Old Haunts” and I personally think it is a great way to open. The music sounds as if it could have coped on its own, without the vocals, it is very well played and varied. That being said, the vocals are really what top “Old Haunts” and the whole EP if fact. Catchy lyrics too-

“I tell myself the score is worth settling,
Til I almost believe the lies that I’m peddling”

“Old Thrills” reminds me of those people in bars who progressively get louder and louder and think they are cooler and cooler... That mental image is probably fueled by the chorus which is sung louder and rougher than the rest of the song, with lyrics that read,

“After last call, I'll drink with the fishes
I'll end this drink's life
You'll be the witness.”

“Old Blues” has the good, rough music that provides the canvas for the lyrics that take the picture from black and white to colored -

“Out of time, burned out too soon,
Born to lose, blacked out and blue”

“Old Mess” closes off the album. Some of the lyrics hit a personal soft spot of mine, making it even more enjoyable to listen to.

“So call me up when you are feeling low,
Because we both know
That you felt like a notch on my belt,
But you stayed anyway”

To be frank, after these four songs you are left wanting more. Overall an enjoyable EP by a band that knows how to pull it all together.

- Koala

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Styx - The Grand Illusion

Having recently taken a stroll down memory lane, I have been hit with the memories of some of the classic albums that have changed my life. I could list the majority out for you, going a bit into each one, but I'd prefer to stick with the reason you're all here right now, to hear the word of the amazing album The Grand Illusion by the equally amazing Styx, and why I think it as such. For it is this album that is more steadfast in my memory then any others. It was their grand opus, their gift to the world and its people.

The Grand Illusion is a loose concept album, not so much in story, but in overall message. Its a tale of accepting who you are, enjoying life, love, and not getting caught up in the small things in life. All of the songs are uplifting and powerful, ranging in themes from sci-fi/aliens, fantasy, and day-to-day life. The album also plays paramount in Styx's rise to fame and popularity. From their formation, the group had always played around with progressive rock themes and ideas. Their first albums are heavily entrenched within prog, but as the 70s grew, so did the groups gap from the genre. Their songs began to take on a more pop-oriented/radio-friendly feel, becoming shorter and simpler as the years went on.

While I would say that this would normally have been a bad thing, for I dislike when bands go soft or simple just to sell some more records, in Styx's case, I'll let it slide. They did their best work as a popular rock band. I've listened to their entire discography, so I've heard the prog days, and while it is decent, it's not the best when it comes to the 70s progressive scene. It is because of their average talents at the full-progressive level that I deem them more then able to move into radio-friendly sounds. That being said, although their progressive themes had taken a nose dive by the end of the 70s, it still was present at least somewhat, The Grand Illusion is proof.

The album begins with the title track, which sets the mood for the entire album. It's a grandiose piece, sounding like a carnival coming to life. The themes and melodies first laid down here would make a continual resurgence throughout the rest of the record - which directs me to see this as a semi-prog album. To quote a repeating line of the song: "So if you think your life is complete confusion, 'cause your neighbor's got it made. Just remember that it's a grand illusion, and deep inside we're all the same!" This line if the backbone of the song, acting as the framework for the album. This line pops up again during the last song, "The Grand Finale," seemingly book-ending the release.

"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)," the album's seconds track and single, continues with the theme of being happy with your personal life. It's about a man, who has been given every shot to succeed, but he keeps getting into his own way. He could own the world, but he's too wrapped up in his own thoughts to do anything of the sort.

"Superstar" follows suit with "Fooling Yourself," but this time growing in scope. It's a story about love and ideology, and - I believe - a little bit of teenage delusion. It's about a famous man, a superstar, and one of his fans. Within the song, the Superstar is on stage, seemingly singing to the fan in question, calling out to him/her. The fan knows everything about the Superstar, staying up late fantasizing about their life together. Eventually the Superstar and the fan join forces, both becoming superstars, and falling in love.

This brings us to the driving force behind the album, the reason it became a mega-seller and an instant hit: "Come Sail Away." Even if you're not a Styx fan, or can't claim to know any of their music, odds are you can at least hum the melody of this one. This was their first single from the album, and their number one single of all time, catapulting The Grand Illusion up the sales charts. It's another song about love, but this time with adventure strewn in. The song is filled with metaphors, playing around a nautical theme. The pair will "search for tomorrow, on every shore" becoming a story of legend for others. The pair end up getting picked up by angels, who turn out to be aliens, who take them away.


I know it sounds kind of stupid, but you have to dive deeper, read between the lines. As I said, the story begins with a pair sailing, looking for love and adventure, pretty straight forward so far right? After the third verse, the style begins to shift somewhat, subtly moving from the present tense into the past. The singer starts acting like the story is a fable, of a pair of explorers who get lost and/or perish without a word. This is reaffirmed when the singer claims to see angels, who call to him, for him to "Come sail away" with them. So far the song has turned from one of excitement and love, to one of woe. This idea is questioned with the next (and last) verse, wherein the singer, who he originally thought were angels, were actually aliens, coming to take his love to the heavens and beyond, so they can keep on exploring. It's an odd shift of lyrical style, but when you think about it, it makes sort of sense. That's the way I see it anyway.

One of the more straight forward songs on the album, "Miss America" is a tale of how heavy the head is that wears the crown. It begins with a women, a recent Miss America pageant winner, being the "apple of the public's eye." Within the first verse, it is shown that she loves the attention and praise she receives, going to functions and parties. But, by the second verse, the woman is starting to get tired of this life, this "roller coaster ride (she's) on." And within the third verse, she's realized that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be, being in a "cage at the human zoo." It's actually a neat song, really powerful and rockin' one of my favorites off the album.

After the quick and jumping "Miss America," one might expect the album to continue suit, for the following track(s) to be cut from the same cloth. This could not be further from the actuality; "Man in the Wilderness" is a slow and soulful song about personal reflection. It's about a man who looks back upon his life and realizes that he's never really accomplished anything - nothing that matters anyway. No matter how hard he tries, he is still lost in the wilderness, unable to find a home or help, because no one understands him. Another message I think we can all understand and respect.

Keeping with the slower theme, although a bit more uplifting, "Castle Walls" is another song that uses metaphor to spell out a point. While most of the tracks off of the album are about not overextending yourself or keeping realistic life goals and plans, this song is about the opposite. It's about not keeping yourself too guarded, to venture out beyond your 'castle's walls,' and look for adventure from time to time. I really like the last verse/couple of lines, where the vocals begin with a lot power, much more then what was heard for the rest of the song ( "Far beyond these castle walls, where I thought I heard Tiresias say"), instantly switching to a light and graceful style ('Life is never what is seems, and every man must meet his destiny") to end the song. Having the clash of energy and style makes this particular passage stick in my head.

"The Grand Finale" sums up the entire album, using pieces of the melodies from several of the songs heard before it. It mostly uses themes from the first few songs; "The Grand Illusion," "Fooling Yourself" and "Superstar," but there are a few randomly strewn ideas from other areas of the disc. It's not a full song, being the shortest of the album (as well as using recycled music), but it's a nice wrap up of the entire disc.

Well there you have it, the entire album in a nut shell. I feel it's prudent to mention the reason why this song has such a strong hold on my psyche as it does. You see, when I was a child - 8 or 9 - my father and I would go on the occasional road trip/trip to the store (they are all road trips when you're that young). During these outings, he'd often have this album playing, to which we would belt out all of the lyrics, drums and guitar solos to "Come Sail Away." I mean the whole song. And once it was over, we'd do it again, mostly because I loved it. I'm sure I drove my dad crazy, with my incessant begging to hear the song over and over again, but it'll always play a high roll in my life, and one day I hope to do the same for my child.

Anyway, The Grand Illusion is an amazing album, obviously one of my favorite albums of all time (hell I just wrote about 3 pages about it), and easily the best Styx album they ever released. I was fortunate to have seen them live a few years ago (closer to eight at this point), and I saw the Styx cover band Light Up, which is just as good as the real deal ...except that you know you aren't seeing the real deal. But when I actually saw the band live there was only one original member, so it was almost a cover band itself... I don't know how that works. Regardless, I like Styx, would gladly see them live again, and I would be more then happy to hear The Grand Illusion played on repeat in my little slice of heaven forever and ever.


Buy here: Grand Illusion
Buy here mp3: Grand Illusion



Premiere Online Destination for Bundled Vinyl & Lossless FLAC Products

Universal City, CA, Tuesday, April 5, 2011 – Universal Music Group Distribution (UMGD), the award-winning sales, marketing, and distribution arm of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company, today announced the launch of Groovetown Vinyl (, an exciting new online storefront specializing in high-quality audio products for the discerning music fan. For the first time, visitors to the site will be able to purchase “lossless” audio FLAC files bundled with collectible high quality vinyl at a discounted price.

“In recent years, there’s been a revolution in sound quality and consumers are clamoring for the richest experience from their audio collection,” stated Mitch Rotter, SVP Marketing & Product Development for UMGD.  “Music fans have fallen in love all over again with the vinyl experience, from the packaging to the distinctive sound to the collectability, and the FLAC file provides the ease of digital listening without any of the sacrifice that normally accompanies digitally compressed audio files.  Groovetown’s quality audio products will satisfy all types of consumers - the audiophile, the technologist, and the true music aficionado.”

For a limited time, visitors purchasing bundled FLAC and vinyl products will receive a 15% discount on all purchases and free shipping on transactions over $50.00. Visitors can also enter a sweepstakes to win a vinyl starter collection consisting of 1 copy of every LP available on the site.  This promotion will run from April 5th to April 19th.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Metal's Unlikely Ally: Pop; Featuring Red Fang's Murder the Mountains and Bloodiest's Descent

Red Fang: single-length radio sludge/stoner rock.

An interesting combination, really: Murder the Mountains, in my mind, emerges as an attempt (not entirely successful, but not entirely un- either, which really says something) to radically detune the White Album.... Pop hooks with clever, legitimate songwriting....

Red Fang put songs first (there's a clear continuing vocal melody, with narrative lyrics that seem to thematically match the mood of the music-- when was the last time that happened?), and only THEN riffs...

...though fear not, riffs there are, and all the way down to C-- bravo for writing riffs that subsonic, that seismic, that respectably de-tuned, while actually being memorable.

"Murder the mountain"-- sounds sinister, but not sure what that entails-- some sort of deforestation project? They're coal miners of some kind? ANYhoo....

"Hank is dead" QOTSA-ish riff and vocals... vibes like the Partridge Family as backing band for sludge band in 2011-- there's a suspiciously-wholesome vibe to gang chorus....

"Throw Up," at 1:55 fires up a riff that sound like sonic spaghetti you might've eaten at some important dinner date: it just kept coming, and coming, and coming, winding itself around your fork....

"Painted Parade" has a cool Blink 182-gone-wonderfully-wrong vibe: surf rock for tsunamis... "Number 13" has a great, lazy, THC-dripping version of a Stevie Ray Vaughn riff: then trots back into 1950s strut territory with the verse....

"Into the Eye"-- very swank, cool opening riff in only two notes (Eb to C#), then into a 6/8 time thing like something from the 1950s or Danzig's "She Rides."

Bloodiest: Swans-y (not the place in Wales)-- extremely heavy pop music-- manages to be heavy, sludgy and intense with no or little distorted guitar....

Nutshelled: David Bowie's backing band, en route to a concert, can't make it and the only musicians on hand are Swans....


Til Lindeman (Rammstein singer) writes scores for Bowie's backing band...

Godflesh unplugged.


"Fallen" sounds like Eddie Vedder's alterna-sludge project....
"Dead Inside" starts with the identical drum fill from 1988's Operation: Mindcrime track "Spreading the Disease," yet slower and more sinister, and is quickly revealed to be the only thing those tracks have in common/ singer sounds like Til Lindeman, both in his timbre and his manner, which sounds like the exhortations of a semi-psychotic yet charismatic shaman or druid priest over his followers (and there is a tribal/ teutonic vibe to the songs, the energy is distinctly brooding Visigoth-ly, like a warriored tribe sitting around caves and cookfires, waiting for a battle...)... at around 5:00 the songs drops into an ugly funk'd groove, guitar and bass pounding in alternating riffs like a giant unholy piston in Kali's engine of death...

Hypnotic, ambient, repetitive/industrial alterna-sludge....

Both very worth your time my liege.


Buy here: Red Fang
Buy here: Descent

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