Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tony Haven - B Sides and Seasides

 B Sides and Seasides

PETA.  Look, I’m all for humane treatment of animals, but, let’s get something straight. Humane treatment of animals is not necessarily the same thing as the ethical treatment of animals.  Ethical treatment requires a social value judgment.  It asks, “Should we?”  Humane treatment refers to the actual treatment of the animals we use. It asks, “How should we?”   Don’t mix the two up.

There is a story by a fly fishing literature author, I believe it is John Gierach, where he recounts being pelted with rocks by PETA people from the top of a bridge.  In the river below he was trying to cast to a big brown trout.  The gathered activists screamed derogatory names at Gierach, said he was inhumane because they claimed the hookset caused fish pain, the fight of the fish was panic, and the release to live again after such a “fright” to the fish and removal from its environment, rendered Geirach a monster.  Geirach was driven from the water by the bombardment as it put down the fish and became dangerous to his physical well-being.  He thought angrily about the specie-ism of the protestors.  “You didn’t see any of them protesting the fish when they slashed and grabbed caddis flies off the surface of the river as the flies deposited their eggs, did you?.  Where are the ‘Save The Caddis Flies’ activists?”

Why do I bring this up?  Well, I listened to B Sides and Seasides, a March 30, 2012, seven track release by Tony Haven from which 20% of all of the income will go to the Animal Welfare Institute. No matter how good the music may be I was not about to promote or support a minority cause that tries to impose its morals on others.  Therefore, I went out and did a little research on the Animal Welfare Institute and, based on my research,  it appears the Institute is involved solely in the humane question - “How should we?” not the more judgmental ethical question - “Should we?”  I’m okay with that.   Thus, let me tell you about this outstanding new release since it will only be available for download until the end of 2012.

Tony Haven is an acoustic lap tapping acoustic guitar machine.  He was born in High Wycombe and raised in rural southwest England. He supposedly developed his guitar technique to the background noise of the ocean breaking around rocks on the southwest shore. 

On B Sides and Seasides four of the seven tracks feature vocalist Kieta Bennetts.  Bennetts’ voice has a Lauryn Hill/Rickie Lee Jones quality.  Singer Lara Regini also appears on two tracks.  Regini’s voice is more pop - a little like early Alanis Morissette.  When combined with Haven’s guitar, a little piano and percussion the whole becomes an engrossing, harmonious  trip in to the folk countryside.  It is wonderful coffee shop background material.  I wholeheartedly recommend it for winding down after a long day fly fishing.

- Old School

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mares of Thrace - The Pilgrimage

Mares of Thrace is guitarist/vocalist Thérèse Lanz and drummer Stefani MacKichan. They play largely-improvised alterna-doom metal. The Pilgrimage tends to sound like a combination of Kylesa and Black Cobra.

If you read the Hornmeister (patent pending) with any regularity, this you already know.

What you may be asking yourself, is: why is he reviewing this record again?

It occurred to me that I'd never reviewed the same album twice in rapid succession. Ghost's Opus Eponymous I actually did review twice, but there was a year and half between reviews.

Since I love jazz, I thought I would do the review again, but this time, live.

Whereas the first review was the considered, pre-planned studio version, here is the "live" one: i.e., exactly what I think at the time I hear some part of this (spell-corrected, but otherwise unaltered-- I swear my journalistic integrity on this claim*).

(For my psychology nerd homies --holla!--): the album review as projective test [Google it]!)

And thus:

"Act I: David Glimpses Bathsheba," a jagged 7/8 time riff before the Kylesa-ish shrieking comes in, some pick-sliding to add a strange dissonance to the background sounds during the main riff's transposition a half step up... tribal drums like High on Fire...

Track two, "The Pragmatist," uses what I think is a flatted fifth-based riff with a scrawly, rock-type riff thereafter, and tends to use the root chord to great effect, occasionally transposing up a half-step for maximum dissonance... "The Gallwasp," sounds like a Satanic blues, with its repetition and riff-based insistence, its sludgy languor... overall, the best track so far... actually, yanno what? They're starting to sound more like High on Fire now, but with a songwriting succinctness that HOF don't have....

"The Perpetrator," a flatted-fifth riff with a very vaguely-bluesy-rockish riff behind it... very Kylesa again, and not because of the female vocals, which are barely recognizably female... at 1:29 sounds truly daunting and powerful (is it weird that at this precise point I wonder what Thérèse Lanz must be like in bed?)....

At this point ("Act II: Bathsheba's Reply to David") that the pattern of songwriting emerges as obvious: opening riff in the root note/chord, occasionally hit the flatted fifth, and during the next song point (whether it's sidewalk, bridge, chorus, or whatever) use a spidery-vaguely bluesy-rock riff which also introduces the shrieked vocals....

And for the most part it totally works.

"The Goat Thief," is nearly drone in its minute-and-a-half intro, before it becomes nearly black metal in its sludgy, tremolo-picked riffs and erratic drums....

Overall: the more I listen, the more I like.

Maybe you will, too. Just sayin.
[The Pilgrimage is released 4/24/12.]
*Shut the fuck up!-- I do so have some.


link to Brooklyn Vegan and "The Gallwasp"--

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Status Quo - Quo Live

So it's Friday night and the party is just starting to get underway. You've already played both sides of Foghat - Live and you're wondering what live album to play next. It's too early to break out heavy hitters like If You Want Blood, No Sleep Til Hammersmith or Strangers In The Night. Then you see the perfect solution - Status Quo's double live beast from 1976, Quo Live.

Status Quo is a band who's been on my radar for many years but have barely heard anything by. They were never big in America and the only time I'd ever heard any of their music was from a lame albums from the 80's. On a recent Mighty High road gig in Rochester, NY our guitarists brother in law recommended that I check out any of Status Quo's albums form 1971 and up to the live one. As a live album fanatic, I picked it up the same day I also finally got a copy of Whitesnake's Live…In The Heart Of The City. Both of them have been in constant rotation ever since. All I need is a giant pile of vintage Sounds magazines and I'd be glad to stay home and live in a pre-Kerrang imaginary world.

I still haven't checked out any of Status Quo's 70's studio output yet, but Quo Live is definitely the missing link I've been looking for that bridges Foghat and AC/DC. Their catchphrase "Heads Down No Nonsense Boogie" was proven the second opening jam "Junior's Wailing" kicked into mid-tempo heavy rock gear. Quo's groove is based entirely on primo Chuck Berry boogaloo. Not as bluesy as Foghat and not as pummeling as AC/DC. "Is There a Better Way" points the way towards "Bad Boy Boogie" and before there was "Whole Lotta Rosie" there was "Big Fat Mama." Just about every song is a moderately fast paced Chuck Berry influenced boogie fest with only a few exceptions. "In My Chair" is a slower Jimmy Reed-type of blues song. Their cover of "Roadhouse Blues" goes on way too long and is the only dud on the record. "Forty-Five Hundred Times" is way longer, but way better.

Recorded live and loud at the infamous Glasgow Apollo in front of a very rowdy crowd over 2 nights in October 1976, it's interesting to compare this to what was considered a lot of punk rock, or roots of punk, in the UK. The British press probably loved calling Status Quo dinosaurs but they sound an awful lot like Eddie & The Hot Rods. Must have been the long hair and bell bottoms. Either way, this album rocks hard and belongs in the home of everyone who ever played air guitar with a tennis racket in the mirror.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RPWL – Beyond Man And Time

RPWL Beyond Man And Time album cover

You can call it art rock or prog rock and it all means the same to me.  I’m sure there are those dear readers out there who would argue with me and say that art rock is this and prog rock is that, and I’d just tell you to save your breath because you aren’t going to convince me one way or the other.  To my ears, the differences are so small that I’m not going to even try to figure out what they are.

But I do like art/prog rock, which is why I’m writing this review of the new release by German art rockers (their description) RPWL.  According to their bio, they’ve been around 12 years.  Also according to their bio, this is their first shot at a concept album.  We seem to getting a lot of these concept albums to review lately.  Maybe it’s just that time in the great circle of life when every band in existence decides that there just aren’t enough concept albums out in the world. 

The concept of this one is based on a line from Nietzsche’s work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”.   The first of line of this magnum opus reads, “ Six thousand feet beyond man and time….”, so there ya go, the title of the album.  Our protagonist is on a journey of insight, a revaluation of values, and he meets various characters of higher knowledge, etc, etc.  And that pretty much covers the lyrical content of the album.

There are some very good songs along the way.  My favorite is called “The Ugliest Man In The World”, which, contrary to what you might think, is not about former NBA player Sam Cassell, who looks like ET mated with a grouper.  The song does have some good lyrical content and probably the best musical themes of anything else on the album.  I also really enjoyed “The Road of Creation” and “The Shadow”.  Both have very strong musical themes, and also change things up in the musical direction of the album.  One little quibble I have, and I’ve mentioned it before in other reviews, is that these are some long songs, and with 11 of them, a long album.  It is all pretty much the same tempo, so any kind of change up is welcome, and the 3 tracks mentioned above do change things up nicely.

This is definitely the sort of album that grows on you and rewards you with multiple listens.  I enjoyed it from the first time I played it, but if you give it more and more time you begin to hear the many subtleties  in the songwriting, like recurring themes that surely represent our protagonist, very nice musical touches that really add to the listening experience instead of just being placed there to show how cool the musicians are, and some solid lyrics.  If you are expecting metal, give this a pass because there is nothing remotely metal about this release.  But it is solid prog rock and you will be happy you spent some time with this album if that is your cup of tea.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Single Life - 7" of Fun- Featuring Dinosaur Eyelids and American Sun

Dinosaur Eyelids - 21 Gram Salute

Do you remember the feeling that snuck up on you the first time you got high?  You know – “what the fuck is happening?” quickly followed by, “Where is my mind going?” and the ever popular, but unstoppable, “Why am I so damn hungry all of a sudden?”.  Yah, that feeling.  Only, this time it’s called déjà “VU’s”.  Reach for the Doritos mate.  Welcome to Dinosaur Eyelids.

I love it when a new song leaps off the player and slaps my eardrums silly.  These Joisee natives got it goin’ on (what the hell is in the water in the garden state anyway?!) with their Dick Dale surf roots sensibility embedded firmly in their upbeat desert sound and arrangements.  Much respect for actually doing their homework and not getting caught up in that seductive, commercial riptide trying to surf/coat tail ride a current bullshit pop metal trend (just mentioning the notion gives me the willies).

"21 Gram Salute" emerges from the frothy tide with a very laid back, “not-in-a-rush-to-impress”, cool, trippy vibe.  As the DE boys begin to set up camp, your earholes are tantalized by delectable lo-fi fuzzed out guitar tones that would make Josh Homme jealous.  They gently slide in like James Dean on a first date with the prom queen in the back of her Daddy’s Buick.  The impish boyish brash vocal hallmarks of Evan Staats offer up more than a hint of shit disturbing mischievousness.  Lyrically, they paint message driven, but mind expansive scenes of epic psychedelic political proportions.  Not willing to sit comfortably in one place (gadzooks!... how “unstonerlike”) the lads pull back to a cresting vocal run over a constantly evolving way cool headspace.  Then out of nowhere… BOOM!  The band smartly pulls back and blows their collective sonic load all over their Orange amps and Big Muff/Cry baby stuffed pedal boards and respond with a PUNISHING chorus!  Suddenly, they switch gears again and slip into a ska/reggae-like tripped out vibe that chills comfortably right in the middle of the track, augmented by some vintage keys.  Odd, I know.  But does it work?  You bet chur sweet bibby it does.  To their credit, it fits perfectly with the overall feel of the song.  They execute another seamless transition and then WHAMO!.. the trademark blowtorch riff comes roaring back matched by just as equally urgent vox.  Sweet guitar/pedal combo work flourishes throughout this kick ass little ditty.  The song eventually hits (remember,  they’re in no rush) the final rich head rush reprieve and ends with a big finish, like they’re headlining some DesertStonerBongFest to 10,000 peaked hukkaheads.

If you love all things desert stoner with a hint of alt college garage grunge tint and a dollop of surf you’re in the right place.  Despite the unpredictable, devious attitude that lingers in their sound, Dinosaur Eyelids demonstrates a maturity and focus in their song craft when it comes to knowing themselves, their sound and where they want to roll (so to speak) with it.  Their bio reads “their sound is like the Replacements being molested by Soundgarden”.  More like Weezer getting schooled by Nirvana.

Dinosaur Eyelids is singer Evan Staats, guitarist Patrick McKnight, bassist Scott Staats and drummer Dan Fishtein.



American Sun - S/T

Don't know why, but the thought of an all-female heavy psych band just sounds cool to me.  Sure, all-female bands aren't that much of a rarity anymore, but most of them ply a garage-y punk or pop vein.  There's been a few in the metal mind (like Girl School) and there's been women in doom (Undersmile) and stoner (Sahara Surfers amongst other) but Stoner/heavy psych/doom is such a male dominated field.  It just sounded cool.

So when the band contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in checking out their new 3-track 7", I jumped at the chance quicker than a pyromaniac being asked to attend a fireworks convention.  And I'm damn glad I did.

Based in Brooklyn, American Sun originally formed in October of 2010 by Holly Overton, Jess Poplawski, and Diana Potakh. They cite influences like T-Rex, CCR, She, Cock Sparrer, Motorhead, Christian Death and The Kinks.  And that's pretty much what we're talking about here.  Not heavy in the doom sense, this is still a 3-track golden nugget of fuzzed out psychedelia, played perfectly and doused in the heavy acrid smoke of multiple bongs being hit at the same time.   I'd probably toss a few other names onto that list like The Runaways, Baby Woodrose, and some garage noise like Dead Moon.  Let's even toss Siouxsie and the Banshees in there, at least as a vocal influence and you'll get the picture.

Guitars chime or fuzz or buzz over looping basslines and steady beats.  No song really tears it up as the Motorhead reference may imply, but still each moves along in it's own haze of fuzzy bliss.  Christian Death is there in the mood and tone, which never rises above a darkened horizon.  Which is a really cool contradiction to some of the rather sweet harmonizing the ladies do.   There's something familiar in this whole set, yet not derivative.  "American Sun" "Poor Girl" and "Indian Morning" all take their place comfortably next to your stack of Lorenzo Woodrose discs, with "Poor Girl" being the heaviest with that mutated bass.

Classy garage fuzzed psych pop.  But don't let me tell you about it, check it  out below.   And download for free at Bandcamp


Midnite Brain - Demo

From deep within the smug, *ahem,* I mean, fog of San Francisco, Midnite
Brain emerge.

Aside from being newly formed, Midnite Brain is one of
the better named hardcore bands from the city.  They've recently cut an
impressive 4-track demo -  a harsh lesson in 80s-style HC.

It's short, but hella sweet, as it kicks off with a cool arrangement that reminded me of
the beginning of Raw Power's Screams from the Gutter.  What persists is an
unrelenting sequence of fast, overdriven riffing that's held down by some
hard-hitting drums, all in all sounding more like Death Side or Lipcream.
The vocals and shouts sound great, too. 

I can hear more trace elements of 80s Japanese HC as clever, well-executed stop/start's and catchy solos drop-in recurrently.  I asked drummer Midnight Dan what they were all about.  You know, their "band philosophy.."

"It's all about being crazy and seeing beyond, ya know?  There are these cosmic brains
that are always flying around.  You have to be inebriated to see them.  Huffing glue helps," said the Brain's Midnight Dan.


Don't worry, one needn't huff glue in order to enjoy Midnite Brain.    I'm pretty sure that it's some of the better HC I've heard come out of the Bay Area in recent years.  So, If you're in the Bay Area and like honest, no-nonsense hardcore punk that kills all the bogus nonsense that has hijacked the genre, then I really suggest you drop in to check 'em out live!

On Friday, March 30th, Midnite Brain will be delivering their sonic assault, live to the masses, at 24th and Vermont in S.F. with Ratface (Pittsburgh) and Permanent Ruin (San Jose).  On Sunday, May 27th, Midnite Brain supports legendary UK punks, Antisect, at the Rocket Room in S.F.

Can't make it to the show?  Don't fret!  You can check out the demo on Youtube.  Just click the link below.  Also, be on the lookout for a 7" flexi to be self-released sometime this Summer.


Monday, March 26, 2012

The Life - Alone Deluxe Edition

Speaking of lost treasures!

How the world managed to close their ears to the chiming guitar post-new wave of The Life back in the '80's is really one of the world's mysteries.  Named the best Northwest band in 1987, The Life occupied a rare space in Seattle music history.  They weren't new wave, they weren't grunge.  What they were was brilliantly composed powerpop with a madman guitarist who could propel songs with the vibrancy of his Edge-inspired playing.  Alone originally was released in 1987 to critical praise and world-wide indifference.  Seattle just wasn't the musical nexus of the world yet.   So the album vanished without a trace.  A follow up album, Witness the Will, was recorded but never released.  The band broke up.  The Life became road dust on the rock n roll highway.

Until now.

Tom Dyer, the eccentric genius who runs Green Monkey Records, has remastered and re-released Alone in all of its glory with the complete 17 track previously unreleased Witness the Will included as a bonus disc.  An amazing collection of Life.

So what's it sound like?

Again, get past thoughts of Seattle as the birthplace of grunge.  The Life took their cue from such post-punk bands as U2, The Silencers, and the Alarm.  Big, resounding, chiming guitars, soaring melodies, and anthemic hook-em chorus.  Just one listen to opener "If it Works (Don't Fix it)" and you'll get an idea of everything this band stands for -- bristling energy, big guitars and even bigger chops.  Most importantly, while clearly taking inspiration from U2 and the Edge, The Life don't ape them.  They simply fit right onto the same bill; as effortlessly and honestly as any American band I've ever heard who play that style of music.  Add to their pristine sound, a slightly darkened edge and a little depravity and we really got something.  Singer Jimm McIver isn't above roughening up his sweet tenor with guttural roars and the occasional punky wail.   Meanwhile, deceased guitar firebrand, Tony Bortko was infamous for being a loose cannon, who'd spit on members of the audience if they looked at him wrong.

Now, I'd already had The Life in my collection before Green Monkey had re-released Alone.  Long ago, after hearing two tracks from The Life on the Green Monkey Sampler album, It Crawled from the Basement, I simply had to have the album.  Through a little diligence, I tracked down a copy on eBay and it was everything I'd hoped for.  Still, as a fan, how could I not be excited about this Deluxe reissue with the entire unreleased second album included?

So, back to the music, shall we.  Alone stands . . .er . . . alone as a perfectly crystallized moment of shimmering powerpop perfection.  Each track, just as tuneful as the prior, each held together by the mesmerizing guitar work of Bortko and McIver's vaguely Bono-esque voice.  And let's don't forget the contributions of Casey Allen on bass and Eric Lichter on drums who keep everything running straight on line.   "Love by the Wayside," is another pristine example and a stark slap in the face of world-wide radio that they never picked this song up.  Bortko's guitar simply goes wherever it wants in glistening, radiant runs.  McIver keeps his voice mostly in check except when he needs to burst out, bringing just the right emotion to the song.  The band is tight.  The melody infections.  The chorus memorable.  Many will reflect on the U2 qualities of the song, but to me, The Life always sounded a bit more The Silencers, than U2, but still . . there it is.

So Alone is simply one of my favorite "unknown" albums.   The question then is what's Witness the Will like and is it worth the fuss?   And the answer is . . .oh yeah.  Song's like "Down" sound even bigger than anything on Alone.  More epic.  Grander.  This is lost arena rock of the '80's in the best sense of the world.  Way too big for a small basement Seattle club.  "Bridge of Bones," is the same.  Simply a huge song in the best of the U2 tradition.  "A Broken Man," busts out into a powerpop jangle-vibe of punchy guitars and perfect melodies.  "The Dead" is angry and dark and heavy with its tribal drum and detuned guitars.  "The Empty Space," rocks with an unbridled Plimsouls'-like abandon.

Conclusion:  One of the great unheard albums in rock was immediately followed-up by one of the great unreleased albums in rock.

If you're a powerpop fan, or a fan of the chiming guitar pop of the late '80's, you've got a treat awaiting you. I got mine already.   Go to Green Monkey and get yours.


Enslaved - Isa

I had a dream. Not quite what the good Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had in mind, I’m sure . . . but a dream nonetheless. This one, in particular, had me sitting in a wooden box positioned in the middle of a frozen lake. With nothing but a case of beer and my thoughts as my companions, I was alone in the middle of a frozen wasteland . . . alone. Then there was a knock at the door of my hut of solitude. Unnerving, to say the least, for who knew I was here . . . and how did anyone get out here? The door slowly opened and five long haired and imposing figures, draped in practically nothing, stood in the ice encrusted doorway and with one simple statement claimed, ‘It’s time.’

I awoke from my deep sleep and, rather than incur the wrath of these wraiths sent by Morpheus, I pushed play on my iPod (no sense incurring the wrath of the wife either . . . it was two o’clock in the morning) and, as if by the hands of fate, Enslaved’s Isa began its musical transcendence.

Released in 2004, Isa was the much anticipated follow up to one of my all-time favorite records, Below the Lights . . . an album that I once referred to as the musical equivalent of ice fishing, something not meant for everybody, but for those into such things, a short moment in time of sheer bliss. Blistering extreme metal that originated from a black metal core and wound up becoming one of the more intriguing progressive metallic sounds around, and Isa took that Below the Lights blueprint and propelled it through the stratosphere. To say that Isa was a grand leap in direction and sound for Enslaved would be a massive understatement. But, then again, there’s that unique back step that the band takes with their sound . . . incorporating a little of that 70’s prog-rock into their sound, as well. Isa is a fascinating amalgam of, then, current extreme metal mixed with the sounds of yesterday to create a sound all unto its own.

 This album starts off in sheer creepy fashion with the absolutely chilling “Intro: Green Reflection”. Put this song on while walking through a forest and you’ll be shitting ice cubes. If that doesn’t work, wait a few seconds because when “Lunar Force” drops in, the pulse rate will increase. Horrifying demonic vocal screeching complemented by a wall of guitars and wrecking ball of rhythms fill every crevice of space of sound, but this is where I first recognized that this wasn’t the black metal that I thought it was going to be. The guitars don’t have that piercing or grating quality that traditional black metal has. These guitars are cold and icy, but enveloping like an early morning frozen fog. The ambience that the music creates has a sinister organic vibe to it . . . almost like turning over a rock and seeing the creepy crawlies writhing over one another. Then the band takes a massive left turn and gets mighty progressive on us . . . instead of a wall of sound, Enslaved serve up a staccato guitar riff over an off time and complex rhythm. Listen close and absorb the brilliance of the musicianship as all of the players are meshed around each other with their performances, shifting from standard 4/4 to some wild double and triple time rhythms . . . and then feel it as the song begins to build with more and more tension . . . creeping along the forest floor, rummaging for sustenance, and then getting supremely psychedelic before exploding into the main theme again. This song gets better and better with every listen!

Follow that up with “Isa” and the musical journey through the heart of darkness continues. Heavy ass guitars and rhythms again pummel the listener, and the vocals of longtime vocal/bass stalwart, Grutle, assail us with so much venom and piss and bile that you can’t help but feel your skin crawl. But here’s the new wrinkle . . . Enslaved incorporate clean-ish vocal harmonies that further add a discordant chill to the music as they work in contrast to the hellish belch of Grutle. Hehe . . . the Hellish Belt of Grutle . . . my new band name. Keep trudging over the decaying leaves of the haunted forest and hear how the band drops in a little keyboard flourish to add another sinister element to the overall sound. Great use of instrumentation and composition to create a world of fantastic dimension!

For you fans of intricate patterns within music, “Ascension”, especially the first two minutes or so, will call for your love. And again, Enslaved inject clean vocals that add heft and weight to the already burdensome sounds of the band . . . not the type of weight that we dread trudging along with, but the kind of weight that actually feels welcome, gives us substance and the air of accomplishment. Sprawling and magnificent, this song is that song that takes us from wandering around the forest floor and puts us on the back of a soaring eagle, diving though the clouds, hugging the mountainous terrain as we ride the air currents that Mother Nature blows our way.

Something else to consider on Isa is that this is the first time that I really recognize the use of keyboards in the band’s sound. There were some on Below the Lights, but it seems that Enslaved made better use of them on Isa . . . or this album was better produced to better capture the keyboard sounds. I can only think that this is one of the reasons I find this album as compelling as I do. The added depth with the keyboard sounds mixed with the already established traditional metal sound creates a world of intrigue that always makes the music interesting, even if I’ve heard it a million times before.

The entire work of Isa is a fantastic voyage. “Bounded By Allegiance”, “Return To Yggdrasill”, and the near 12-minute epic, “Neogenesis” are further examples of the musical growth that Enslaved has shown over the course of their lengthy career. Where Below the Lights was a dark album with a constant flitting and flickering ray of light to guide us, Isa is a harsh and cold landscape that is showing a little color of Spring breaking through the winter frost. The musicianship throughout this album is top notch and always surprises. Extreme metal, indeed, but I love how the band starts to work in simple little elements of vocal harmony and haunting melody to greater effect. Still a band that won’t appeal to the masses or be everybody’s cup of tea, thankfully . . . sometimes, I don’t like to share . . . a little 70’s rock influence, a heavy dose of nuvo-prog, and a mean streak of extreme metal . . . Enslaved, a band that pays homage to their influences, but refuses to get pigeon-holed into one genre and continuously pushes the envelope on creative expression.

I’m going back to sleep now . . . hopefully I won’t have any more spectral visitors and can get some much needed rest!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Eternal Fall - Emptiness Vol 1 + 2

The Eternal Fall is a very strange band. I loved half the album and didn't like the other half at all. The great songs are light, punky trad goth, while the others petered off into mindless whining. I barely got through the first tracks on the album, "Beneath the Stars" and "You Are Always in My Mind." But "Always It's the Same" is a fantastic song. It's almost as if the Cruxshadows went trad goth and met the Cure halfway. It's actually one of my favorite songs right now, that's how awesome it is.

"Broken Dreams," "Empty Eyes,"  are some more phenomenal trad goth sounding songs of the album. The Eternal Fall has a really good sound, if they could just keep it going. The tracks that were good were REALLY good. But the tracks that weren't so good stuck out like Snooki at Wave Gotick Treffen. Minimalistic piano and synth paired with ghostly lamenting sounds good on one or two songs, but not on half the album. "Ich Denk ed Dich," and "The Pain," straddle both styles perfectly though, he's not wailing the whole time, he's singing, and moaning, but it's balanced with guitars and drumming that keep the song moving in the right direction.

I think that's the problem, the songs aren't balanced enough. By the end of the album I could tell which ones were going to be crap and which ones were going to be good, just by the pattern it was following. Albums shouldn't follow patterns, they should be a listening experience, full of twists and turns, surprises at every corner.

On the really good songs, the sound is phenomenal. Upbeat synth and drums with groaning guitars swirled in make for a very romantic goth, punchy sound. As I said before the ones that are good, are really really good, I just wish the whole album had been like that. Also, another thing worth noting, this album is supposed to have two dics, but I only got disc one, so I can't tell you how the other one sounds. I would listen to this band again, but I would listen to the whole album before buying it.

-- Gorgeous Nightmare

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blind Willie McTell - Experience Blues

Blind Willie McTell was born Willie Samuel McTell on May 5, sometime between 1898 and 1903, blind in one eye. He lost the sight in his other eye before he became an adult, To survive he played a six string , but primarily a twelve string guitar, and sang on street corners for change.  He is considered a true blues master.  He began his recording career in 1927 with Victor Records in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Before World War II McTell traveled the country singing, playing and recording under a number of names and for a variety of different labels - Blind Willie McTell (Victor and Decca), Blind Sammie (Columbia), Georgia Bill (Okeh), Hot Shot Willie (Victor), Blind Willie (Vocalion), Red Hot Willie Glaze (Bluebird), Barrelhouse Sammie (Atlantic) and Pig & Whistle Red (Regal). He continued to record in the Atlanta, GA area through the 1940’s but never achieved any substantial commercial success.  By the 1950’s McTell’s health started to deteriorate from diabetes and alcoholism.

Edward Rhodes, an Atlanta record store owner, in 1956 discovered McTell playing the street for quarters and lured him to his store with a bottle of corn liquor.  At the store Rhodes recorded a few final performances on tape.  The tracks were released posthumously on Prestige/Bluesville Records as Blind Willie McTell's Last Session.  McTell died of a stroke in 1959.

McTell is the nexus between early country blues,  the raw Mississippi blues of the first part of the 20th Century, and the jazz-based East Coast Piedmont sound.  If you are a rock or blues enthusiast you have no doubt heard some of his songs.

In 2002 Our World Records released Willie McTell - Experience Blues, a compendium of 16 McTell tunes cleaned up and digitally enhanced.  Many believe other albums of McTell’s work are better than Experience Blues.  In fact, most others choose well known McTell tunes, and there is a full compendium of all of his 149 recordings.  On Experience Blues you won’t find hits.  It doesn’t have such classics as Statesboro Blues or Travelin’ Blues,  However, what it does have is incredible sound - so good it feels like you are sitting in front of Blind Willie and his guests at a small intimate nightclub venue.  No easy task, Some of the original recordings are almost 90 years old.  The release also has a connoisseur's collection of interesting and obscure McTell blues performances.  This is really the abridged edition of the story of McTell’s life told not in his hits but in iconic period pieces.

The last track on the album is Broke Down Engine, a song that summarizes McTell’s life.  Bob Dylan called it “a Blind Willie McTell masterpiece ... it's about Ambiguity, the fortunes of the privileged elite, flood control — watching the red dawn not bothering to dress.(sic)"

Blind Willie McTell is a giant in the history of blues and early rock ‘n roll. How great is he?  We still listen to and speak of his work with reverence 56 years after his last, and 90 years after his first sound recording.

- Old School

Friday, March 23, 2012

Black Breath - Sentenced to Life

Sentenced to Life is pretty much an album of Entombed covering hardcore acts like Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, Discharge, and even Bad Religion. It's on Southern Lord.

For most of you reading this, that's pretty much all you need to know. I don't even need to make a judgment call here; you've already decided if this if this is for you.

For the rest of you, it's really. Goddamn. cool.

It's the detuned death metal Sunlight Sound from Sweden, interpreting the rage of NYHC.

Like Sons of Satan Praise the Lord (an Entombed covers album) or Slayer's Undisputed Attitude, in other words.

Opener "Feast of the Damned," is stupidly riff-tastic, and at 1:44 drops into a great sludge riff breakdown before taking off again....

This formula is maintained during the first four tunes, and is only broken on "Endless Corpse," with its slow-burning building up over "The Small Hours"-esque chords.

That is, until 1:38-- when shit just got real.

At this point, I actually feel bad for the drummer-- this shit has been flying, all-out, at redicu-fast tempos-- this guy's hands have got to be shredded by now.

Ah, and there it is-- about two minutes later we get the slow-down, into something like Overkill would've put on Horrorscope, particularly, well... "Horrorscope."

Of course, the next tune, "Mother Abyss" flies even harder and faster than anything before it, like they're suicidal geriatrics on a treadmill, determined to induce their own heart attack from sheer velocity... "Of Flesh" starts with a Left Hand Path-type trill riff that's fucking sweet....

ANyhoo, prolly top 10 of 2012. Take that as you will....


[Sentenced to Life is released March 27, 2012.]

John Coltrane -The Olatunji concert: the last live recording

 Olatunji Concert: Last Live Recording

I have literally all of Coltrane's Impulse! label CDs, as well as the vast majority of his recordings for a myriad other labels.

The Olatunji Concert (below reviewed, if you're patient) is Trane's last live recording: he died at age 40 in 1967.

Putting any Coltrane CD/record on is like devout Catholics lighting a censer: I trust it completely.

Coltrane taught me to love jazz (and was my gateway drug to the whole genre, if you will); he is why I play tenor and soprano sax. He is why I play anything but a guitar and drums.

In my mind Coltrane, like early-era Metallica, is the ideal artist:

in the grandest, most pretentious, and most indespensible way possible, he's what all humans should aspire to: he does what he wants, when he wants, in an attempt (however futile or not, depending on your view) to connect to Divinity.

To express himself as purely as possible, and to be heard in this way by others.

So with this first of the posthumous releases (obviously?), we get what is referred to as "late-period Coltrane."

For those of you not up-to-the-minute on jazz mythology (which probably speaks well of you), "late period" Coltrane means free jazz, which means solos as absolutely-goddamn-long-as-we-wanna-take-them.

In all honesty, it means the type of jazz that may've, in some great probability, turned you off of jazz in the first place (if you're not a fan). It means noodling, and annoying effete intellectuals describing using the "negative space" in soloing-- it means balding geeks who majored in music composition talking about "playing what's not there, man...."

Now, you're gonna have to trust me here. But I think I'm onto something, and you might benefit from reading further:


is the greatest form of music-- ever.

Even beyond metal-- and this is from someone who has listened to, for the most part worshipped (and reviewed, as perhaps you've noticed) metal for over 30 years.

I love metal like a mother loves her children-- no hyperbole.

But jazz, real jazz, is music with talented musicians who feel each other's presence like Jean Gray psychically feels Scott Summers-- it's the closest humans get to God Making Sound.

I know:  it's quite a claim.

Both 'Trane's grandfathers were preachers-- and I genuinely doubt this is a coincidence. If you listen to a typical interview with him, he sounds like the archetypal preacher-- slow-spoken, contemplative... suggestively all-knowing, yet humble.

I owe a small fortune, the GNP of a small island nation, in student loan debt for my psychology degrees-- but I would punch Carl Jung and Rollo May in the FACE for the chance to talk to John Coltrane, even for a few minutes.

The fact is, I could've review any Coltrane album: for my own site, I've review several of his (in my mind, however limited that may be) better records. But note the cover photo, above: we're talking about a man who made his reputation on playing a particular instrument (the tenor, and later the soprano, sax) and was so debilitated by disease that he couldn't continue to play the tenor sax physically (they usually weigh about 22 lbs) and SO LAID DOWN AND CONTINUED TO PLAY THE FLUTE ON SOME TRACK BECAUSE IT WAS ALL HE COULD PHYSICALLY LIFT.

This fact embarrasses me when I complain about my callused hands from playing the guitar.

The wailing, the noise from the tenor, pushes you towards some questions:

is it clinically interesting, as in "so this is what a psychotic break sounds like?";

is it viscerally interesting, as is "Yes! This is touching God!";

Yes to both, though I guess is depends on for whom you're rooting.

It's three (though essentially two) tracks over its hour-long-ish running time. The first track is a half-minute intro from Dr. Billy Taylor (who unfortunately died recently) and the remaining two tracks are "Ogunde," (29 minutes, from Trane's recent Expression LP, his last studio recording),  and the Coltrane standard "My Favorite Things" (35 minutes) in a form Julie Andrews only dreamt of in her opium night-sweats. Assuming she had those, I mean. She seems kinda clean-cut, but you never know.

Pharoah Sanders is here too, on the tenor, as is Coltrane's wife Alice on the piano, along with Jimmy Garrison on the bass, Rashied Ali on drums, Algie DeWitt on the Batá drum and Jumma Santos on percussion.

If you're new to jazz, genre-curious, one might say-- do NOT start with this.

That would be like someone who's decided they like might like Bon Jovi being told to check out Watain. This is the extreme end of free-jazz, and even many jazz aficionados don't like it. If you want to dip your toe in, start with Coltrane's Ballads or Miles Davis' (also featuring Coltrane) Kind of Blue. Then decide if you wanna go further.

If you do play it, play it loud and give it your utmost attention. I'm not gonna lie-- this record is perfectly suited to being very, very high.

You know, like the best metal.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ripple Theater - Ballad Of Mott The Hoople DVD


Against all odds, I've become a big fan of Mott The Hoople over the past few years. I always liked some of their songs but never bothered to explore their music in great depth because I never thought I'd really like it. I've never been a fan of Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones and both of those artists are big parts of the Mott sound. They have an association with one of my all time least favorites, David Bowie. But for some reason I was drawn to them and started checking out their first few albums that were released on Island Records. Probably had something to do with the fact that I've always loved the Dictators version of Mott's "Moon Upstairs" on their live album Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke. The original version is on a great album called Brain Capers that's become a real favorite of mine. In 2009 I was a guest on the Ripple radio show and wound up talking a lot about the Mott reunion with Ripple friend Bob Vinyl and his cousin who went to England to see one of the shows. So when in 2011 it was announced that the Ballad Of Mott the Hoople documentary was being released on DVD I couldn't wait to check it out. It was a pain in the butt to actually find in a store but the incredible Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ had it in stock.

The story of Mott is pretty unique in the history of rock n roll. Named and molded by insane record producer Guy Stevens, Mott The Hoople recorded 4 albums for Island Records between 1969 and 1971. Guy was impressed when guitarist Mick Ralphs burst into his office demanding an audition after waiting around hanging around for a few days. Guy was even more impressed when they lugged a massive Hammond organ up a couple flights of stairs to play for him. My band practices on the 3rd floor of a walk up. I can verify that doing something like this requires a HUGE commitment to your art. They didn't have much commercial success but attracted a rabid following for their high energy stage shows. The band decided to break up but were encouraged by David Bowie to continue and he offered his services as producer and gave them their first hit "All The Young Dudes." Bowie's manager had Mott wear glammy clothes and they finally achieved success.

All of the band members are interviewed and their honesty is very refreshing. It was Mick Ralph's idea to go in a country rock direction on the album Wild Life and he says that he wound up apologizing to the band for this mistake (Mild Life is how they refer to it). Ian Hunter's especially blunt and delivers some great quotes. Roger Taylor of Queen talks about how they gave Mott a run for their money when they opened for them. Ian says "we never had any problem following them." Some of the band members talk about how once they became popular that Ian became the leader of the band and it was no longer a democracy. Hunter's reply is "the band was always a democracy. That was the problem." I also really like how the band all agreed that it was great that Bowie helped them out but they wanted to get out from his shadow immediately. They dumped Bowie's manager and declined working with him as a songwriter or producer. Turns out they were right. The follow up album to …Dudes simply titled Mott was a bigger hit and contained even better songs. I've always thought "All The Way From Memphis" was a much better song than "All The Young Dudes." Watching the live footage of the band in their prime (wish there was more of it) made me realize why I liked the band so much. Even in their glam clothes Mott The Hoople was a kick ass band. It's obvious they were all real rock n rollers and were very confident on stage but never resorted to Jagger-esque pantomime. Watching bassist Pete "Overend" Watts is hilarious. It's obvious Pete Way of UFO got a lot of inspiration from him and we all know Steve Harris of Iron Maiden patterned his onstage persona on Way.

This DVD should be required viewing for anyone in a rock band. When Mick Ralphs presents Ian Hunter with a bunch of songs that Ian feels he's not capable of singing, Ralphs departs to form Bad Company. There were probably some hard feelings at the time but both of them agree that it was the best thing to happen to each of them. Rather than compromise, they moved on and Ralphs works with Hunter off and on to this very day. Replacement guitarist Ariel Bender is also honest in the fact that he rejuvenated the band on stage but fell short in the studio when it came time to write material. The DVD ends when Hunter departs on his solo career with Mick Ronson. The rest of the band got in some new members and carried on simply as Mott but not much is mentioned about that here. There could easily be another documentary about that bands sad demise along with Ian Hunter's career ups and downs. If you don't know much about Mott The Hoople this documentary will be very enlightening and entertaining. Ian Hunter is touring again in 2012 and is playing right in my own neighborhood at the end of March. He's in his early 70's but word has it is still putting on great shows. For an even more Mott The Hoople madness, check out the new issue of Shindig Magazine for a massive article in the current issue with some killer photos.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mirandom - The Memorandum

This episode of Music Cops was filmed on location somewhere inside the continental United States of America.  We pick up the action riding along with Officer Penfold.

Wednesday, 7:44 PM
“Attention all units.  This is dispatch.  We have received reports of a four fifty-five in progress near the corner of Commonwealth and Main.  Multiple suspects.  All units in the vicinity please respond.”
“Copy that dispatch.  This is Car Ripple.  I’m four blocks away from suspects’ location.  Officer Penfold en route.”
“Transmission received Car Ripple.  Proceed with caution.”
“Roger that dispatch.”
The cameraman in the passenger seat keeps his lens pointed towards Officer Penfold as he mashes the accelerator and activates the car’s siren.  Officer Penfold addresses him moments later.
“Man, another four fifty-five?  Persons listening to terrible music.  I’m telling you, these incidents are happening far too much for my taste.  This is the fifth call in the past two weeks!  It makes you wonder why people have such a hard time finding the cream of the musical crop.”
In less than a minute the patrol car reaches the corner of Commonwealth and Main.
“All right, let’s see what we’ve got here.”
The camera pans right to show beams of light pulsating through the open doorway and darkened windows of a nondescript, one story building.  The building’s interior is packed full of people gyrating in rhythm to some obnoxious song.  Three more patrol cars pull up moments later, and the four officers they carry quickly take direction from Officer Penfold.
“Okay, here’s the deal.  Our holstered hand speakers aren’t powerful enough to cut through this noise.  We’re going to need the heavy artillery.  I need each of you to position the rear of your vehicle so that it’s pointed towards the front of the building.  We’ll use our customized trunk speakers to play some high quality tunes that will draw the suspects out.”
“Will do Penfold.  What music are you going to play this time?”
“The same album I used the last three times Johnson.  It’s the new release from Mirandom.  Now go!”
All four cars backed into position, popped their trunks, and powered up their speaker arrays.  Officer Penfold wirelessly networked the other three cars’ speaker systems with his stereo, inserted the Mirandom CD, and hit play.  It took only a few moments before the righteous music blaring out of the monstrous police speakers lured the first few suspects out of the building.  One minute later the terrible music inside had stopped, and shortly thereafter everyone who had been inside the building was gathered behind the police cruisers.  Penfold stopped the music and addressed the crowd.
“Good evening everyone.  My name is Officer Penfold.  My fellow officers and I were called out to this location tonight because you were all committing a crime.”
“Are you going to arrest us,” asked someone in the crowd.
“Perhaps.  Listening to terrible music is a crime that not only affects you, but those around you as well.  Therefore, I’d like to now remind you of your Musical Miranda Rights.”

‘You have the right to listen to good music.  Any bad music you listen to can and will be held against you in the court of public opinion.  You have the right to speak to a music fanatic.  If you do not know a music fanatic, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?’

The cameraman caught everyone in the crowd nodding their agreement.
“Very good.  I’m going to let you all off with a warning this time, but don’t let me catch you listening to sub-par music again.  For now take this Mirandom album and play it when you go back inside.  Have a nice night.”

My fellow waveriders, it’s that time again.  That’s right!  It’s time to discuss a terrific new hip-hop album!  Hooray!  What is the name of this fantastic work you ask?  I’ll tell you.  The album is entitled The Memorandum, and the dynamic lyrical duo which made it is known to the world as Mirandom (a combination of their two names, Random and Mr. Miranda).  This is an album that you all needed to know about yesterday, or better yet, last Wednesday.   Perhaps that whole ‘last Wednesday’ thing seems strange right now but trust me, after one listen to this album it will all make sense.

Those of you familiar with my work on The Ripple Effect may recognize the name Random.  One of my first writeups laid bare my love of Forever Famicom, an album he made with producer K-Murdock.  Random is far and away one of my favorite artists today.  Not only is he tremendously prolific, but his work has never disappointed me in any way, shape, or form.  Not once!  In fact my only problem with Random is that because I know with absolute certainty that I will like whatever it is he releases, I sometimes hold off on listening to his work in favor of trying to find someone new.  The Mirandom album neatly sidesteps around that pitfall thanks to the presence of Mr. Miranda.  While I had heard of Mr. Miranda thanks to a couple of song collaborations with Random over the years, I’d never actually sat down and paid attention to what he was about.  Well waveriders, I can tell you that The Memorandum changed that quick, fast, and in a hurry!

Both of these emcees have what I describe as an athletic lyrical flow.  Their wordplay speeds up and slows down based on the needs of the song and what type of feeling they’re trying to convey.  It is a great testament that both lyricists maintain an almost conversation-like atmosphere throughout the entire album.  This comfortable atmosphere succeeds at welcoming the listener into whatever world they are creating.  Speaking of world creation, Random and Mr. Miranda prove repeatedly that they are not only great rappers but great storytellers as well!  Anyone desiring proof need look no further than “The Untold Story” where the two create a new urban legend describing how they met.  Personally, I can’t help but laugh every time I listen to the highly amusing wingman’s lament “Busted One”.  Is storytelling not your thing?  Maybe you’re looking for some conscious hip-hop instead?  Take a listen to “Home” or “Eastsider”.   Still not satisfied?  Perhaps you want a little battle rap?  Well I won’t call it a straight up battle rap but “Big Beat Jawn” comes very, very close.  The bottom line here is that The Memorandum is an exceptionally versatile album.

Before I wrap this up I would like to make a couple of things abundantly clear.  First of all The Memorandum does not contain any misogyny, overt violence, or glorification of criminal activity.  I can’t even recall any serious curse words.  I’m not implying that music incorporating these elements has no place in the world.  I for one lost count a long time ago as to how many parental advisory albums I own.  No, I just want to clarify that if those things happen to be what you are looking for in your hip-hop you won’t find it on this album.  Second, and more importantly for me, this is intelligent music.  This is smart hip-hop made by two smart wordsmiths supported by a few excellent producers.  No element of this music has been dumbed down.  Don’t get me wrong folks.  Your enjoyment of this album does not hinge upon whether you’ve received your Doctorate yet.  Not one bit!  All I’m saying is that it’s always refreshing to hear hip-hop artists using impressive vocabularies inside sophisticated rhyme patterns.

Waveriders, do you need to hear an album that will lift your spirits?  Do you like music that makes you think?  Do you need an album that will make you smile?  Is clever wordplay something that you enjoy?  Would you like to listen to some tunes with production that will allow you to get your groove on?  If the answer to any one of these questions is yes you need to head over to and sample the wares.  Just don’t blame me when you too become a repeat customer!



Imminent Sonic Destruction – Recurring Themes

Imminent Sonic Destruction.  When you read a band name like that, it makes you think twice before you open the file and start listening.  I mean, what if the band name is literal?  What if you start listening and unleash destruction upon the planet?

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  In fact, there isn’t much about this release that would lead you to think of destruction at all.  Not that it is all pretty music or anything like that.  But I’ve heard music that makes you think that the end of the world is like, right now. 

This release reminds me a lot of Devin Townsend Project stuff.  There are some real prog touches in here, mixed with some heavier, metal type music, and some flat out death metal vocals at times.  There are some very interesting juxtapositions of pretty synth parts with raging metal guitars, blasting double bass drum and the aforementioned death metal vocals.  Things that you don’t normally hear in a metal release, but then, that’s what makes an album like this standout.  This isn’t cookie cutter stuff that sounds like everything else.

Imminent Sonic Destruction is a project of Detroit based guitarist and vocalist Tony Piccoli.  He has recruited various other Detroit musicians to form this band and put out this release.  Most of these guys have a pedigree in prog styles, along with some metal, and it helps create some really good music.  This is the kind of album that rewards you with multiple listens, but even from the first listen you get pulled in by the melodic hooks.  There are some crazy time changes that keep you on your toes, and some very interesting songs that really keep your attention.

My favorites on the album are “Monster” and “Sick”.  Both are just awesome examples of how to put a variety of metal styles together in ways that just work.  And the lyrics to “Sick” will stick with you; there is definitely some weight to the subject matter in that one.  Overall, there are some shorter songs, although nothing shorter than 5 minutes, and a few really long ones, and the shorter songs seem to work a little better for me.  I’m still trying to decide if prog is really my thing and the longer songs have a lot of different passages that just don’t grab me as much as the shorter ones.  But to each his own, and the album overall still works very well.

If you dig Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, or Dream Theater, or wished all 3 of them would just do a mash up album, then you will think your prayers have been answered with this release.  Put it on, chill out, and enjoy!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Exciter - Death Machine

Unlike my previous long winded rants that read like overstuffed versions of “War & Peace”, this is less a review of Canadian speed metal band EXCITER’s new album “Death Machine” and more of a tribute to the band itself.  You see, unbeknownst to some, EXCITER is a pioneer and founding father of the speed metal sub-genre movement, as well as being influential in the North American thrash movement in the early 1980’s.  It’s a salute to their pioneering spirit, their ability to break new creative ground and help forge new sonic paths, their tenacity, longevity and focus on staying true.  This is a tribute to their pummeling musical legacy.  This is EXCITER.

Exciter got their early start way back in 1978 originally as the band Hell Razor.  Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario Canada they came barrelassing out of the woodwork laying down a new brand of sonic mayhem the likes of which the world had barely seen.  “Having sold nearly 2.3 million units in the USA and racked up total sales of 10 million units worldwide they are widely considered to be one of the first speed metal bands on the planet and a seminal influence in thrash.”

Sure they’ve had more members over the years than you can count on Hindu god Durga’s many hands (14 to be exact, but who’s counting?... band members, not arms).  And they circulated through the band faster than the revolving door at Macy’s the week before Christmas.  But to the band’s credit, they can brag that they’ve toured with everyone from fellow Canuck metal heads Anvil to RATM to Flotsam and Jetsam to Motorhead to Manowar to Anthrax to Accept to Megadeth to Mercyful Fate to Steel Attack and played every Eurometalfest  from the Tradate Iron Fest in Italy to Bang Your Head!!! in Balingen and Keep It True VI in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany to Metalcamp in Tolmin, Slovenia and the Atarfe Vega Rock Festival in Granada, Spain plus a few more stops in between on their home turf and south of the border.  Not many bands can say that, especially in one breath. 

Exciter has cranked out no less than 11 albums with somewhat varying approaches and feels between 1983 and 2010 as well as a live album, a compilation album and an EP and have been on no less than 7 labels including Megaforce and Shrapnel.  In that time, they’ve “garnered numerous positive reviews from many Euro fanzines”.  At one point in their long career, they even worked with Motörhead producer Guy Bidmead.

The new album?  ELECTRIC!... with all the intensity you’d expect from a first class speed/thrash record.  It delivers nine head bashing tracks of pure unadulterated mayhem.  Veteran Exciter Producer Manfred Leidecker was behind the helm once again and steered the band through their trademark grinding rhythms at a crackling pace that bespeaks the band's name as “one of the most classic speed metal bands ever”.  Lyrically the theme of the album addresses “sadistic unforgiving torture and the demented individuals who deliver such horrific pain and suffering onto others.”  OK!... anybody up for a rousing game of Rumoli?

Of note, the title track DEATH MACHINE pays homage to and momentarily smacks of Judas Priest’s “Rapid Fire” and POWER AND DOMINATION has a driving, knuckle dragging beast of a head banging Accept feel to it.  If shrill, screaming, guttural Orc-like vocals, great musicianship, obsessive bloodied chainsaw guitar tones, tight pummeling instrumentation run amok at a breakneck, racehorse pace riddled with rip snare solos galore is what flicks your Bic, then you’ve come to the right place.  Exciter isn’t really breaking any new ground here musically, but what they do within the framework of their sound they do well.  Any speed metal fan worthy of their stripes should have more than one Exciter album in his or her collection, including this one.

EXCITER (currently)is transplanted Brooklyn, New York native Kenny "Metal Mouth" Winter on vocals, mastermind and founding member John Ricci on guitars, Robert "Clammy" Cohen on bass and Richard "Rik" Charron on drums.


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Boss Mustangs - S/T

Lost along the top margin, printed in tiny block letters, are the words "File Under: The Boss Mustangs - Rock and Roll."

Hell yeah!

I mean, HELL YEAH!

The Boss Mustangs come raging from outta where ever it is that they come from sounding like the kinky bastard sex child of the Sonics and the MC5 or the bloody aftermath of an epic night of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, a case of whiskey, a fist full of uppers,  and some unknown substance to be identified by the science lab later.

File Under: Rock, indeed.

Revved up, amped up, frantic old school garage rock is the name of the game here and the Boss Mustangs bring it on full throttle, raw and full of badass '60's attitude.  Imagine an illegal drag race on the mean streets of Detroit circa 1969, beer and oil spewing, speed and bennies flying, girls lurching and churning, men angry and throwing fists, as big motored muscle cars tear the shit outta the asphalt.  Yep, that's the Boss Mustangs.

From their too-cool-for-words matching Nero jackets to the authentic fuzz of their dual-guitar assault, The Boss Mustangs don't miss a trick.  So let's dig in shall we?  First, did I say fuzz?  I meant it.  Whereas, Dave Davies famously took a razor to his amp to produce that fuzz tone for "You Really Got Me," The Boss Mustangs took a freaking chainsaw.  Thick slabs of distorto guitar cranking through 3-chord rave-ups of the first order and guitar solos serious enough to show that these guys got real chops.  Not a lost note here, just crunchy spewed out garage guitar nirvana.

The singer?  Well, I wouldn't want to be an epithelial cell on his vocal chords.  When this dude wants to rave, he can reach down and screech with the best of em.  Serious vocal chord shredding loss of abandon like the best moments of those crazy Sonics songs like "Psycho."  And when he's not letting it loose, the guy can actually sing.  Soft or loud, we got that covered.

So that leaves just one thing.  The songs.  From the first moment that big guitar comes in after the high hat intro to "Turn On"  I was sold.  Toss in a fertile scream, set the rhythm section loose like a pack of angry attack dogs and we got one of the damn best garage-punk songs I've heard in ages.  I mean this song has it all. Wailing guitars, big hooks, and a beat that'd drive the Go-Go dancers crazy, shaking that frilly stuff covering their hips and asses in an orgasmic frenzy.  No matter what anybody else says, this should be the party anthem for pool parties the nation over. 

And The Boss Mustangs aren't one-trick ponies.  "Mrs. McKee" b/w "Hazel Holly (Please Come Back) was the bands first 7" and both cuts are included here.  The first being a pounding retro-60's beast of burden with more fuzz than an orchard of peaches, while the later brings in some sweet songwriting dynamics before launching into that crushing riff and mayhem that follow.  Both cuts got big melodies and serious garage chops.

Then there's "New York Francine."  Damn, I know I've heard this song before.  It was at that speed party in the basement underground club.  1969?  Detroit?  Chi-town?  Don't remember.  Too many dead brain cells but the booze was flowing, the girls were loose, and . . . well, I'll never tell.   Needless to say, "New York Francine" brings out all the best of Motor City madness.

The Boss Mustangs call what they do Powergarage RocknRoll.  Yep.  They say they nail the sound of heavy post psychedelic-era Detroit and London.  Check.  Raw and ragged, high energy, oil can smashed to the face, garage rock stompers.  I'm there.  Liked the album so much I immediately ran out and bought the 7"  vinyl.  You should too.

File Under: The Boss Mustangs - Rock and Roll.


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