Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kraanium – Post Mortal Coital Fixation

 Post Mortal Coital Fixation

So I received this album to review and I was pretty excited about it, because I had heard a few things about this band and this release in particular, and I wanted to hear it.  Lo and behold, not only did I get to hear it, I get to write about my experience. 

I tend to like the more extreme ends of the metal spectrum, so I will readily admit that this particular band and genre are not for everyone.  I’m going to share some song titles with you in a moment and tell you that they made me laugh out loud (or LOL, for the kids out there).  And then you are going to wonder just what kind of person I really am.  Let me just say you won’t be the first, or the thousand and first.

This is a release in the vein of Cannibal Corpse, that style of death metal with gruesome song titles.  There is liberal use of audio clips to help move the songs along, or perhaps give us a clue as to where the song titles came from.  As for song titles, how about “Slurping The Vaginal Pus”?  Or “Bursting Rectal Sores”? My personal favorite title is “Entrails Full Of Vermin”, for the simple reason that it uses two of my very favorite words in one title (entrails and vermin, in case you were wondering).  There’s “Coprophagial Asphyxiation”, (coprophagia is the act of eating poo).  Shall I continue, perhaps with “Baptized In Boiling Sewage”? Or “Stillborn Neurotic Fuck Feast”?  I think you get the idea.

There are many ways that most people would describe these titles.  Sick, twisted, ewwww, are some that I can come up with.  And you may want to ask me, “Dude, you laughed at that, what the fuck is wrong with you?”  Yes it is shock value, a way to get the attention of the record buying public.  Or maybe scare of those who are not adventurous enough to listen to this.

The simple fact is, there is nothing ground breaking here.  This is a style of metal that has been around for at least 20 years now, and it wasn’t really ground breaking at that time either other than the use of the graphic songs titles and album art.  You either like this stuff or you don’t, and I love it.  Kraanium are very competent in what they do.  Most of the songs are the same tempo, there’s not a lot of variation in what they do, but there is nothing wrong with sticking with what you do well and making the most of it.  When you get into a niche genre like this, you pretty much know who your fans are going to be.  Count me as one of them, and if you are a fan as well, go get this album. 


Monday, July 30, 2012

Revenge of the Quick Ripple Bursts - the Rock Edition; featuring Alunah, Paisty Jenny, 1000 Mods, and Catapult the Smoke

Alunah - Call of Avernus

Doom purveyors Alunah are well-known around the Ripple halls, their previous EP Fall to Earth having made it's way onto our Ripple player.   This time around, Alunah have really upped the ante and jumped into the game all-in.  Cards be damned, this is fiery stoner-laden doom, with smoke screens of fuzz and a gambler's debt of groove.  While the EP was a good debut, something about it never quite worked for me, and I think it had to do with the vocals of Sophie Willett.  Being coy, almost babydoll-esque, her tone just seemed to clash with the band, in my mind.  Not so here.  She's more powerful, like on "Living Fast in An Ancient Land," really belting it out while maintaining her unique style.  Personally, I think the vocals could still be higher in mix to bring them more to the front, so she's not overpowered by the raging stoner metal behind her.  But that's mild.  Her tone is what really sets the band apart from their male-led counterparts.

Thick and raging, this is some heavy shit.  Pounding and monstrous as any other doom purveyor out there, Alunah have a sound all their own.  Mixing stoner, rock and doom into one seamless whole, Call of Avernus is Alunah's real coming out party.  Welcome to the poker match of doom, my friends.  Alunah's not taking any prisoners. 


Paisty Jenny - Head in a Haze

They've already had a single get major airplay across the midwest.  They've been produced by Michael Beck who's also worked with  Chimera, Black Dahlia Murder, and Soilwork.  They've opened for Kid Rock, Brett Michaels and Vince Neil.  With that resume you can probably guess what road Paisty Jenny plows. 

Yep, full on modern arena rock of the type that woulda made Mr. Neil's full-time band proud.  Melody rich, chorus thick, guitar mad arena rock with tattoos and a sneer.  Not really the new coming of Motley Crue so much as Buckcherry with a touch of Guns n Roses.  I actually don't care for the leadoff single "Anything" that much, a tad whinny and generic for me through the chorus, but the album really kicks off with the GnR-inspired "Back of Your Hand."  A flat out arena rocker that could get even the back row of the audience to leap to their feet.  "Hypocrisy" is just as mean and nasty with some tasty chops.  "Head in a Haze" harkens back to the days when the Crue were actually good.    Amped up and snotty rock n spittle. 


1000mods - Super Van Vacation

Apparently, there's a killer stoner/doom scene in Greece.  Who knew?  1000Mods knew.  Coming from the land of antiquity, these killer van dwellers waste no time in causing the pillars of the ancients to tremble and quake under the power of their detuned bass and massively fuzzed out riffs.  Forget Zeus and Athena and the others, 1000Mods worship at the alter of Kyuss and present their sacrifices to the image of Fu Manchu. 

Doom,  psychedelic rock, stoner, heavy rock, Greece.  Those are the tags at the bottom of their bandcamp page.  Nothing more needs to be said.  Heavy, heavy, grooving, fuzzed out stuff.  There.  That's my contribution.  Oh yeah.  And good.  Very good.  Check em out. 

Catapult the Smoke - Born in Fire

From Sweden.  Stoner rock with a blissed out fuzz.  Doom with a heartbeat.  Did I say they're from Sweden?   Need I say more?

Ok, I will.   Catalpult the Smoke take the template of Fu Manchu and Kyuss and other stoner masters of the 90's and drape the whole thing with layers and layers of darkness so thick the sun can never shine in that desert.  Like a beautiful landscape the day after an atomic bomb.  Desolation and despair hang thickly in the air.  Guitars are huge constructs sweeping across the wasted horizon, like terminators scanning for survivors.   Heavy, heavy stuff.  Should appeal to all doom fans out there.


Paisty Jenny


Catapult the Smoke

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Earthrise - Eras Lost

Eathrise, from the Twin Cities, will crush you with a down tuned, down tempo, post Doom assault!!! Period!!!

 No, this is NOT your typical “Doom” or, “Metal” release at all. This is a refreshing look into what down tuned and down tempo music could be. The beats are not the single, drone driven 4/4 bashings with an oft fill to make sure the players are awake or know when to change chords. This release has an edge to it that cuts with every track and will make the listener go for the ride.

 If you’re thinking of buying this, first think of Meshuggah, but slowed down. Then think elements of Godflesh, then a touch of YOB for some atmosphere.

 This is an odd/off tempo (at times) attack that blends Metal, Doom, some drone and sample to front with an amazingly produced impact.

 For fans of modern Doom or, Metal fans looking for a bridge to something Doom, this release will give the player and anyone wanting more than a nod and stop listening experience a strong taste of something different and good.

 This is definitely a release worth picking up and seeing played live!!!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Karney - Love & Respect

I can’t get it out of my mind.  It is haunting.  The voices, the orchestration, the words.  The music is folk, rock, alternative, indie, psychedelia, acoustic-electric. The lyrics are topical, touching, disconcerting, defiant.  It is high-powered protest music.

The package is so clean and pleasing.  Karney is a San Francisco-band, steeped in railing against the man.  Yet, here the rage is delivered in beautiful harmonies, and catchy hooks, not screams and screeching guitars.

There is a foray into indian mantra-based rock psychedelia, in the song, “Wild Green”. From Karney, the singer/songwriter who fronts the band, it is expected.  This is flower-powered stuff and not the first time she has decried the harsh penalties for pot use and trafficking, as Karney’s website puts it, “.  .  . exacted upon the “happy majority” of adults who choose to use marijuana under today’s draconian drug laws and enforcement policies.” 

There are musical textures upon musical textures. Unusual instruments join the orchestration - caxixi, doumbek, “International Slide Guitar” alongside acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, organ, drums, bass, tambourine, timbales, congas  Syncopated and interesting rhythms punctuate Karney’s incredibly strong and enticing voice.  The recording is impeccable.  It is a thinking man’s music with a wild streak.

So there it is - Karney’s ten song album Love & Respect, scheduled for a July 16, 2012 release..According to the hype the release is targeted “to raise exposure for this new album and for Karney as a band, as a brand and as a touring entity.”. Listen.  Then, listen again.  Try a black light with the track  “Wild Green” or a strobe with “Snake Oil Salesman.” Mellow out while you let “Across The Planet” and  “Aurora” swirl in your brain.. Feel finally raised up when “On My Knees” plays to its abrupt end  This album certainly should provide Karney with exposureas it and Karney deserve some “Love & Respect.”

-- Old School


.  .

Friday, July 27, 2012

From the Horses Mouth - Ollie on Medamaki


This wasn't written as an actual review, but when I read it, I thought it was so cool I'd share it with all you waveriders.

In case you were ever curious how bands talk about each other, and support each other. Here's a glimpse.  Ollie from UK rockers Grifter wrote us to share a band, Medamaki.  He wanted to stoke our fires, maybe help the boys out a bit.  His letter was classic band digging another band, and works as a great review and introduction for ya.


I have to tell you about this incredible band. They're friends of ours and they're called Medamaki. They come from Evesham which is about an hour south of Birmingham. They've been going quite some time, we first played with them in 2006 and they kicked our asses into the next week!! They've had some bad luck...they signed to Fury 76 who put out our first EP and released an EP called Warbird at the same time as ours. The label though was useless and the EP kind of disappeared. Since then they've had trouble keeping momentum...starting families, then children being ill...etc...but they're firing up the machine again to get out and get on the circuit once more. I have their EP and it's an incredible collection of 4 tracks. Unfortunately the production did suffer as they were being rushed by the label, which as it turns out was a waste as the releases was delayed anyway. The songs though are amazing...kind of like a more metallic Clutch or a more bluesy Down, either way you want to look at it. I haven't heard any more recent recorded stuff but I've heard newer songs live and they absolutely kill!!! From what I can gather from the guys though they have been working towards getting a full album ready and recorded.

They're also a great live band. Max is a great frontman with a huge voice. I can honestly say they are one of the very few bands over here we really get a kick out of playing with as they kick our asses and make us up our game every time. So many of the UK bands that people rave about over here can't even hold a candle to them to be honest.

Anyway, I've ranted enough, here are some links but bear in mind this will all be older stuff





Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rose Tattoo - Live From Boggo Road Jail 1993

 Rose Tattoo - Live In 1993 From Boggo Road Jail

Rose Tattoo playing live at an Australian prison in 1993 is all you need to know about this DVD, but I'm very happy to ramble on at length about it if you want to know more. Boggo Road Jail was shut down in 1993, a little over a century after it was constructed. It was the site of numerous hangings. There were hunger strikes and prison riots over the poor conditions. A concert featuring The Divinyls, Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs and Rose Tattoo was booked to celebrate the closing of this hell hole.

Rose Tattoo had broken up in the late 1980's but reformed in 1993 to do a tour with Guns N Roses in Australia. Judging by the performance on this DVD, they must have blown them off the stage every night. From the opening note of "Out Of This Place" (very appropriate song for a prison) Rose Tattoo come out storming. No bullshit, nothing fancy. Just pure rock n roll at it's best. I hadn't seen any of this footage before so I really didn't know what to expect. That was foolish because it's obvious that Rose Tattoo don't step on the stage unless they're going to destroy the place. The rhythm section of bassist Geordie Leech and drummer Paul De Marco isn't very pretty to look at, but jeezus, do they swing hard. The guitar team of Mick Cocks and Pete Wells are incredible. (Pete was the bassist in the killer proto-metal band Buffalo. Make sure you get a copy of Volcanic Rock if you don't already have it). It's so sad they both passed away too young from cancer. Mick's rhythm guitar is rock solid and Pete's slide playing gives the band such a unique sound. It really sounds like Johnny Winter sitting in with AC/DC. Then there's the powerhouse vocals of Angry Anderson. Covered in sweat from the first song he pours his heart out into the microphone.

"Bad Boy For Love," "Assault & Battery," and "Tramp" are pummeled out in rapid fire succession. The closest thing Rose Tattoo gets to a ballad is the bluesy "The Butcher & Fast Eddie," another great song to play in a prison yard. The pace picks back up for a great cover of "Street Fighting Man" followed by "Rock N Roll Outlaw," "One Of The Boys" and their anthem "Nice Boys (Don't Play Rock N Roll)." They encore with a very fast version of Freddy King's "Going Down" that has Billy Thorpe guesting on guitar and vocals.

This DVD left me feeling inspired and depressed at the same time. It's always inspiring to watch a great rock n roll band do what it does best, but it also made me sad that there's no one this good out there right now. It takes a lot of commitment to really boogie and most people don't want to put in the hours to rock this hard. Buy this pronto. Play it loud and proud.


Nightstalker - Dead Rock Commandos


Drop your cock and grab your socks.  This one will make you move.

I got my Superfreak on a couple (three) years ago and have wondered from time to time what happened to Nightstalker.  Now I know.  The squad has accomplished its black-ops mission and returned with a new album - Dead Rock Commandos - this time on Small Stone Records.  Hell yes.  I'm all gung-ho to hear fresh tunes from the hardened rock veterans in Greece.

Better respect your superiors, soldier.  This four-piece has worked for years to earn the high rank of Major in underground rock's most elite special forces.  Commanding vocals and laser-guided riffs are deadlier than ever.  Their armory of beats and grooves has always been fully stocked with explosive ordinance.

Time to blow more shit up with this assault on the senses.

I feel the piercing sonic shrapnel from bombs like the title track and the opener, "Go Get Some".  These guys haven't lost their touch at all.  Oh, hell no.  If anything, now they're even more experienced and their skills are much more honed.  Nightstalker slay me on "Soma" and "One Million Broken Promises".  The troops take me prisoner with tracks like "The Boogie Man Plan", "Rockaine" and "The Underdog".

Others, such as "Back To Dirt" and "Children Of The Sun", are much more stealthy in nature, like a Navy Seal sneaking up through the sand and slitting your throat in your sleep.  It must have taken rigorous training to be in such fine form.  So lethal.

This record will help whip my ass into boot-camp shape with all the head-banging and jumping around while jamming a digital copy of this monster.  My neighbors must think I suffer from uncontrollable spasms.  I do - but it's not PTSD.  They're just side-effects from heavy doses of rawk and will wear off eventually, along with the ringing in my ears.

Dead Rock Commandos should report for active duty on Aug. 28th.  The digital version is already on iTunes...go get some.

Meanwhile, I'm almost battle-ready and hoping for camouflage vinyl.


--- Heddbuzz


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #1

From April 4th to June 4th The Ripple Effect ran a campaign on the excellent online music website ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com).  This campaign allowed any artist or band registered with ReverbNation to submit their music to The Ripple Effect for possible review on the site and airplay on The Ripple Effect radio shows.  When all was said and done we had received 4,799 submissions!  Incredible!  The purpose of this column is to highlight those artists and bands whose musical submissions I accepted as being worthy of consideration.  While these are not reviews per se, I’m going to provide a brief rundown of what to expect from each artist/band, a sample when available, and a link to check out more on their corresponding ReverbNation page.

Evans Blue – This is an alternative rock band from Saint Louis, Missouri.  The song they submitted caught my ear based on the strong production.  Also the vocals were often sung in a manner that mimicked reggae artists in regards to how the words flowed into each other.  If you like listening to ‘cutting edge’ rock music radio stations I suggest checking these guys out.

ReverbNation Page – http://www.reverbnation.com/evansblue
Song Sample – “ThisTime It’s Different”

Aboi Doyle – This gentleman is from London.  His music is a combination of pop and R&B that relies on synthetic beats to propel the music forward.  I found his voice to be very ear pleasing and would recommend anybody into electro pop check him out.

ReverbNation Page - http://www.reverbnation.com/aboi5
Song Sample – “Pls Don’t Go”

SPECYPHI – Coming at you from Cincinnati, Ohio is this four piece hard rock band.  Their sound in my opinion can best be described as post-grunge, modern hard rock with a heaping helping of Pantera thrown in for good measure.  Their music sports a meaty guitar tone, and a suitably in your face bass presence.  Those looking for a pummeling might dig this.

ReverbNation Page - http://www.reverbnation.com/specyphi
Song Sample – “From Your Lipps”

Marina V – A pop singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, California.  I found her voice to be rather striking.  Quite flexible too based on the fact that it jumped from sounding elegant and full to somewhat childlike several times throughout the song.  The song she submitted had an electronic drumbeat, but a couple of others featured all organic instrumentation.  Worth a look I’d say.

ReverbNation Page - http://www.reverbnation.com/marinav
Song Sample - “Run”

The Last Good Year – I love the opening line to their bio.  “Four guys, no gimmicks, just rock.”  Rockin’ is what it’s all about right?  Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana this band does just that.  They rock!  And they do so in a manner heavily influenced by the classic rock bands of the 1970s.  TLGY currently has a song entitled “Steady Road” featured on ESPN.  It’s being released on Itunes July 31st.  Check it out.

ReverbNation Page – http://www.reverbnation.com/lastgoodyear
Song Sample – “You More Than Me”


Sacred Gate - When Eternity Ends

Where do these killer power metal bands keep coming from? Sacred Gate is a hidden gem. I’m listening to this and thinking about just driving somewhere far away in the summer night, windows down, this cd cranked to my speakers breaking point. Sounds like summer metal to me. You know the band that you associate with your summer festivities. 

 Awesome guitar lines. Pure power here. Good solid driving riffs. Songs are chugging along at breakneck speed. This is not the typical metal act though. Some of these guitar runs are insane! Early Lizzy Borden…that’s the sound that I hear within these songs. Awesome.

 “Burning Wings” is hands down one of my favorites. Power metal with some thought behind it. They crafted a real sonic assault here and it works. 

“The realm Of Hell”….Holy crap are you kidding me. This is a wrecking machine of guitar musicianship. I love this tune. Epic in its form yet not too overdone. This album is getting better and better…and louder.
“When eternity Ends”, “Freedom or Death” are two more standouts. Solid drum and bass. Behind every song on this album is a crunchy lock-tite rhythm section that kicks ass. And the vocals are fiery and powerful. This dude has a set of pipes on him that are earthshattering yet commercially viable.

  “Vengeance”….wow…just a great song

O.K.  Stop reading this and buy this album. Then jump in your car and ride. Metal is meant for the road. Play this loud and proud!!!!!!!!

7 out of 10 horns up!!!


The Company Band - Pros & Cons

What can I say about this band? What's the word I'm looking for? Wait I know. ROCK!...yeah, that's it my brothers and sistas ROCK!

If you're planning on blowin down the highway this summer in the fast lane with the windows down...well then...your gonna need Pros & Cons by The Company Band knockin down your audio speakers. The Company Band is Dave Bone, Neil Fallon (Clutch), Brad Davis (Fu Manchu), Jess Margera (CKY) and James A. Rota (Fireball Ministry)

Neil Fallon's vocals is the audio juice for any internal combustion engine rippin down a two lane blacktop. The track that just blows my mind,  is "El Dorado". Okay maybe I'm biased because my ride for many years was a 1971 Caddy Eldo. Just like the Caddy at the end of Rob Zombie's -  The Devils Rejects. This cut "El Dorado" just kicks ass on all levels.  So crank that sucker, and fuck the air conditioner.  Roll down those windows man. Hit the highway with your baby. Make shure she's smellin like coconut suntan lotion. Wearing cut off jean shorts and barefoot,  is just a bonus dude.  Pros & Cons by The Company Band is one of those records that are made for summer. Slip on your mirror aviators, cram in this CD and get your ass on a long road trip.  Straight up ROCK for any summer time Bonnie&Clyde roadtrip to the beach.  I'm  bet'in  your woman's legs will get sexy hot, and stick to the leather seat after hearing this. Bring on the dog days of summer.

- Wino Chris

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MOS GENERATOR Announce New Album Title and Release Date

It’s been five years since the world has heard new material from MOS GENERATOR, and fortunately, that streak is about to end! The brand new MOS GENERATOR full-length album is called Nomads and will be available world-wide on October 23rd, 2012 through Ripple Music. The nine track album features the heaviness and elegant melody that have become the trademark sounds of the band, but this time lyrically exploring the introspective path of soul salvation.

“Nomads, as a whole, is the literal journey that Mos Generator has made,” states guitarist/singer Tony Reed on the theme behind the new record, “The songs are interpersonal tales about the struggles that we’ve all faced with each other, our personal lives, the making of this record, just getting through life. And, of course, there are some science fiction themes, as well.”

The Port Orchard, Washington rock n’ roll nomads spent almost a year tracking, recording, and mixing the new album until they were happy with the end result, constantly holding the material to the light, never wanting to release anything less than stellar.

“The album had to stand up to the Mos history,” continues Reed, “We’ll never put out something that we feel is inferior, and admittedly, there was a lot of second guessing with some of the material selections and mixes.”

Nomads will be available through Nail/Allegro Distribution in the U.S., Code 7 in the UK, and Clearspot International through continental Europe. Look for MOS GENERATOR to hit the road throughout the Pacific Northwest in late September and then possible more road work later in the year and early 2013.

Track List:

1.       Cosmic Ark
2.       Lonely One Kenobi
3.       Torches
4.       Step Up
5.       Solar Angels
6.       For Your Blood
7.       Can’t Get Where I Belong
8.       Nomads/This Is The Gift Of Nature

Winterfylleth – The Ghost Of Heritage

The Ghost of Heritage

So here we have what seems to be a bit of a growing trend in the metal community, a re-issue of an album that only came out a few years ago.  I get why it happens, sometimes a band puts out a debut release and maybe the production quality wasn’t quite what they wanted, or the mastering, or something.  Then they get a little bigger label behind them and they are able to put out the album the way they really wanted it to be.  And that appears to be the case here.

Whatever the reason, it really doesn’t matter, because it allowed me to hear this gem of an album.  This is the debut release by Winterfylleth and it’s really a good one.  I had heard of these guys but never got around to checking them out, so I’m glad this opportunity presented itself.

“The Ghost of Heritage” seems to be written around a historical theme, the Battle of Maldon in 991 AD.  The battle took place in England when hordes of Vikings were coming ashore and hoping to pillage and plunder.  From what I was able to learn, it seems that many British towns took the path of least resistance and just gave the Vikings what they wanted.  But the town leaders of Maldon said, “Not in our house”, or whatever the olde English equivalent was of that.  And so there are old poems commemorating this event, and now a very nicely done metal album as well.

I would say this is primarily a black metal album, as most of it is done in that style.  And there are of course some trademark acoustic interludes that even fortify the black metal stylings.  But there are also moments of some serious blackened thrash, as in the leadoff track “Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain)”.   There are some really well-crafted songs here such as “Brithnoth The Battle Of Maldon (991 AD)”, title track “The Ghost Of Heritage” and “Guardian Of The Herd”.  They are black enough that you definitely know the genre, but they don’t just follow the usual tried and true formulas of the genre and they take you to some new and interesting places.  Always the sign of a band that actually has some thoughts as to what a genre could be like and is not just aping what has gone before.

The original version of this album had 9 tracks and that has been augmented for this re-issue with 2 bonus tracks.  Unfortunately I was not able to track down whether these bonus tracks were related to the original theme or if they were just written around the time of the original release but maybe left off because they didn’t fit in.  Again, whatever the reason they are very good examples of the song writing skills of this band and well worth the inclusion and the time to listen.  I mention the time because this is a long album, especially with the addition of two tracks each coming in at around 9 minutes.  The album is well worth the listening time and it really is incredible to listen to it all as a piece, just make sure you’ve got the time to sit and enjoy it.  Because enjoy it you will.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Leather Nun America - Kult Occult

It's getting harder and harder for me to write a review about Leather Nun America.  After pouring my soul into reviews of two of their albums so far, what do I have left to say about their latest long player, Kult Occult?

How about it's even better.  How about the heavy is heavier and the beautiful is beautifuller.  (?)

Let's face it, Doom is a rather limited template.  The framework was established over 40 years ago by Black Sabbath, and it frankly hasn't changed much since then.  Leather Nun America faces this challenge by fully embracing the entiretly of their doom heritage while not being afraid to mix things up a touch.  Drop in a stoner riff here and there.  Mix up the tempos.  Flavor the stew with rock and grunge and metal.  Dribble in some Vitus and Obsessed and Wino.  Create your own magic powder spice.  Stir with a detuned bass.  Flavor to taste. 

And as before, the resulting concoction is deadly.  Kult Occult is the work of a band fully at ease with their music, stretching their arms and legs against the frames of their genre barriers, and coming up with new ways to destroy their rock.  "Murderkkult" shows this off beautifully.  Doom is the word here, hard and heavy and plodding and thick, as the song trounces in at a brontosaurs pace.   And the earth feels it, trembling under each massive note.  The dual vocal effect is cool here, as is the ascending guitar riff that flavors the end of the verse.  Then, just as the song may be reaching a point where the plodding pace is becoming too familiar, lightning strikes!  In a second, the riff is transformed, the drums infused with adrenaline.  John Sarnie explodes into a guitar solo that sears the screens of my speakers as it flares out.  Another riff changed, another breakdown.  We're into full-on, fist-pumping stoner/doom/metal/rock/whatever mode here and the song is a corker.  The band drop back down to the opening doom to wrap things up and the whole thing feels about as complete as a messy, satisfying orgasm.

"Indra" has a guitar tone so fat and thick you could melt it down to pave roadsides.  I'm think Wino here in one or all of his variations, but it's all Leather Nun.  As always, they manage to find the groove that grabs the song and pulls it out of doom doldrums.  That groove so obese I could saddle er up and take her out for a ride.  Leather Nun have always done this over the course of their career.  Found that groove.

"Lasting Dose" is an example of the beautiful.  Yeah, Iommi established that template also, adding brilliant acoustic/classical passages to Sabbath albums to create a break from the pounding.   And every band since has found a way to work that thread into their album fabric, but Leather Nun do it better than most.  Sarnie's guitar is just so beautiful and the arrangements of the atmospheric numbers add to the depth of the album, not just serve as a distraction from the heavy.  In fact, I could argue that "Lasting Dose" with it's stark acoustic guitar, gentle hand percussion, and long-effected guitar is just as heavy and just as haunting as the heavy numbers. 

Start to finish, Leather Nun America have released one of the best doom/metal albums of the year.  Sarnie is an under-rated Axe master and should be whispered in the hallowed halls of the doom guitar Gods.  Noel Holloway and Mark Markowitz lay down the foundation with precision and abandon.   I hear lots of talk on the internet about bands like Elder and Orchid.  They're great bands.

Leather Nun America should be spoken of in the same sentences.  And Leather Nun America should be mentioned first.



Sunday, July 22, 2012

House of Light - Come Into My Night

I first came across House of Light thanks to the recommendation of our very own Penfold. He had stumbled upon them and suggested I give them a listen, based on his knowledge of my own musical tastes. Quite frankly, I’m rather glad he did, because I think they’re a lovely little bit of dark indie rock, perfectly suited to be the soundtrack for a dark, underground bar for a few  drinks with a few (possibly ever so slightly depressed) friends.

Come Into My Night sounds like a miasma of smokey bars, black jackets and regrets. There are pretty strong post-punk influences (particularly from Joy Division) from the very beginning, but overall they have a very alternative/indie sound. The best way to describe the whole feeling of the album is hazy. The guitar and keyboard work in particular give a wall of sound that’s just perfect to zone out to. One thing that I am particularly fond of is that one listen lets you know exactly what to expect from the band as a whole. You can tell this is the work of a fashionably dressed, gloomy young outfit with a genuine love for the sounds they make.

Opener “House of Love” kicks in with some nicely fuzzy bass and guitar under melancholic, yet strangely catchy piano. Vocals are nice and distant, blending in with the lush tones of the other instruments and delivered in such a way that you can just tell they were sang with eyes closed. Somehow, it sounds like a radio hit from a parallel dimension, where the pop charts are ruled by the likes of Radiohead or The Smiths. It’s deliciously catchy, but more in the sense that you’d find yourself humming along to the whole song, as opposed to just screaming the chorus at the steering wheel of your car.

Second track “Naked in a Dream” is my personal favourite though. Opening with frantic drumming, it gradually adds in near-psychedelic guitars and distant, haunting vocals which blend perfectly in with the wall of sound. I found myself trying to sing along to the vocal melody during my first listen, despite not knowing the lyrics, which, talking of free falling,  wanting to sleep and seeing too much, fit the morose tone of the song perfectly. This one I found really hard to pigeonhole, and I for one absolutely love when I find something I can’t easily classify or categorize. It’s what I live for. Well, musically anyway.

“Zeitgeist” opens with a curveball of a guitar riff that really threw me off guard. I was expecting the entire album to be gloomy and atmospheric, much like the first two tracks, but after all, aren’t we all a sucker for a big tasty lick? The guitar on here really takes centre stage, giving it a much more traditionally alternative rock sound. Despite the atmospherics taking a slight back seat though, the gruff vocals, keyboards and synths keep everything layered nicely together and tie it in nicely with the sound established by the first two tracks.

I’m not too pushed by “21st Century Prayer”. It’s not necessarily a bad song, and it does have a very definite HoL sound to it, but I find it just lacks that little bit extra to really make it stand out. There’s no real catchy hook or clever atmospheric trickery going on, and while it does work in the context of the album and its tone, it strikes me as the kind of track that couldn’t stand on its own. One I’d skip if it came up on shuffle, so to speak.

“New York City” marked the first time the vocals really hit me before the instrumentation. In particular, the “we won’t sleep tonight” near the beginning really jumped out from my first listen. This one again gives me the feeling of a particularly dark pop song. Something about this track in particular makes me really want to see these guys play live. Also, the bass really shines brightest on this track, which makes for a nice change. Something about this makes me think it’d be best enjoyed live. There’s some kind of energy to it that I think would really suit an intimate live show.

“Radiate” is probably the best song to show someone who has never heard of the band to give them an idea of how they sound overall. The intro is ethereally calming, reminiscent of looking out the window of an apartment building as the city sleeps beneath you. Then it kicks in fully, and we get the full House of Light experience – steady bass, solid drums, wailing synths and guitars that go from clean and picked to psychedelically fuzzy, all held together with deliciously sullen vocals. As I’ve said, I still find “Naked in a Dream” to be the real jewel in the crown, but in terms of really nailing every aspect of the House of Light sound, I reckon “Radiate” hits it dead on.

Closer “Still Life” is the perfect coda for the album. The whole song is held together by slow, steady drumming, with intricate guitar and soothing piano chords gently winding things down. Vocals are also at their clearest here, and there are some really nice vocal harmonies which flow with the instrumentation to give an upliftingly haunting vibe to the whole track. It wraps things up nicely, managing to straddle the line between optimism and pessimism perfectly.

My favourite thing about this album overall though is how it polished it sounds, and that’s not just referring to the production. Rather, it sounds as if House of Light have genuinely put their heart and soul into crafting these dark little gems to sound exactly as they do on here. There’s an excellent blending of indie, post-punk and even dark pop (that is a real genre, right?) that all swirls together into a delightful maelstrom of cigarette smoke and late nights. For those of the nocturnal persuasion, I’d definitely recommend giving it a spin. Because, hey, who wants to listen to something uplifting at 2AM?


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kevin M Buck - Musick for the New Aeon

Let’s get serious.  We are not going to dance or throw back double shots of Maker’s Mark. Well, maybe we will. But, first, on his new album, Musick for the New Aeon, Kevin M Buck brings forth a cavalcade of classical-tinged progressive metal guitar speed beginning with the short track “Love and Light” and an ethereal classical five plus minute rock symphony worthy of Malmsteen in the title track. Not bad for the founder of the highly successful Ozzy Osbourne tribute band The Blizzard of Ozz.  Okay maybe us “we are not worthy” guitarists can start shootin’ bourbon right about here in despair that our chops will never be this good.

Buck shows off Black Sabbath style on Roger Water’s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.”  Add in a little arrangement that echoes Deep People with inspiration from Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar and Jon Lord-like keyboards, and this one ends up being royally raucous. Buck follows it up with “Aliens Coming,” a not too subtle musical nod to Joe Satriani’s “Surfing With The Alien.” 

Buck first played violin before he ever played guitar and nowhere is it more evident than on the melodic and hypnotic track “The Kid from Lyons.”  If the title track “Musick for the New Aeon” is a symphony, “The Kid from Lyons” is a sonata.

The track “The Burning of the Witch” in another thing entirely.  It is a blaze of classic heavy metal lead arpeggios, twisting, twirling suspense and angst - it is a movement.  Buck becomes Beethoven on a Jackson Rhoads. .  High intensity Zakk Wylde worthy, “OTO” strafes the eardrums with heavy metal music, vocals and harmonies complete with monsters, midnight sun, demons, damnation, and danger.

The track “fugue in Gm” is just that, a Bach fugue in G minor.  Make no bones about it, just from it. Kevin M.Buck is classically trained..

If ever there was a song title fitting of the mood set by a song it is the track “Impending Doom.” The beat drags ever so slightly; the arpeggios are ever so dissonant and building, and the lead guitar is a waterfall of doubling notes and delay.  The entire composition then explodes into a driving dark metal with a one time halting two beat stop and explosion into anarchy punctuated by fits of panic and fear that resolve in an arpeggiated conversation to allow you to catch your breath before the listener is again up and running and finally falls back into a stuttering dragged airiness.

Buck can also play the classic rock/blues/jazz and proves it on “Laura,” a traditional blues chord progression song, played with a bit of country lilt and Stevie Ray Vaughan tone.  It is the lullaby on Buck’s Musick For a New Aeon and ends in an overblown classic rock guitar that sounds like Buck also learned from the classic rock band Boston.. The album closes with “Lament,” a stark classical acoustic guitar piece that could easily be a Bach bouree.

Kevin M. Buck is a master guitarist and he spends much of his time teaching other guitarists.  He has even produced a few instructional DVDs.  Roger Daltry called him “one of the greatest guitarists ever” and Daltry played with Pete Townshend who Rolling Stone rated as No. 50 of the top 100 greatest guitarists to ever live.  Who am I to argue with Roger Daltry?

- Old School

Friday, July 20, 2012

Christine Plays Viola - S/T EP

For me, darkwave is an interesting genre.

I was raised by parents who loved The Cure, The Smiths and Joy Division, so it was probably inevitable that I’d end up veering towards the more sombre side of  music eventually. That said, I have a tendency to gloss over modern darkwave, preferring to stick to the classic s, like the aforementioned bands, as well as more shoegazey bleakness like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain when I want a bit more ambience to go with my sorrow.

Italian darkwavers Christine Plays Viola managed to really grab my ear though. Not only do they have the all-too-familiar gloomy atmosphere that gothic music is both loved and hated for, but they also have a very definite sound of their own. Nevertheless, they still manage to pay enough homage to the founders of the genre to give classic goths something to be happy (or deeply, deeply sad) about.
Instrumental opener "To Woke" is a damn fine way to kick this EP off. It builds up nice and gently, with distant, hazy sounding percussion and deep, rumbling bass. I may completely lose you here, but the best way to describe this track is the bastard son of the intro to Pearl Jam's Once (yes, Pearl Jam) and The Cure's "Plainsong." While I’m aware this may sound like an INCREDIBLY strange marriage of styles, it’s the best way I can put into words how it sounds. Seriously, check it out and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

"To Woke" bleeds nicely into "Keep My Scorn Warm", probably the standout track on offer here. Introducing the *gasp* grim vocals of lead singer Massimo Ciampani, a man who, judging by his gruff tone, obviously doesn't get enough sleep and is about as likely to write cheerful lyrics as he is to wear colourful clothing, as well as some haunting female vocals courtesy of guest vocalist Rosetta Garri of The Spiritual Bat. The bass and drums in particular remind me a lot of The Cure’s classic album Disintegration, and trust me, that is not something to be taken lightly. (or should that be darkly? Eh? EHH!?.. I’ll stop with the goth puns soon. Promise.)

Next up is yet another instrumental, the aptly titled "It’ll Be Cold This Winter". An evocative, ethereal little number, which really stands out thanks to the haunting keyboard and guitar work, as well as bringing violin to proceedings . The ambience on this is absolutely gorgeous, suiting the title impeccably. The high pitched, morose violin wails add so much emotion to the whole ebb and flow of this piece. It’s very easy to imagine this playing as some raven-haired, trenchcoat-clad girl glides ever so gracefully across a field of pristine white snow. While crying tears of blood. Into a black rose. Near a church. At midnight. And yes, this is a good thing. Remember, we’re dealing with goths here.

Final track "Apocryphal Supremacy" brings the sullen vocal work of Ciampani back, and this time with plenty of reverb to keep everything sounding beautifully distant and melancholic. Yet again, the drumming here reminds me a ridiculous amount of Disintegration, and, again, I can not stress how much of a good thing this is. Of the entire EP, this is by far the most interesting song dynamically, starting off menacing, before getting back to sombre, and then on to a truly chilling, stripped-down climax. Just thinking about the haunting piano chords and gentle whispers is giving me tingles again.
The production is also excellent throughout. Everything sits so well in the mix. There is literally no sonic space left unused. It’s the care given to the ambience of each individual track, as well as to the atmosphere of the EP as a whole that makes this a really solid offering for fans of black nail polish and eyeliner, just bursting at the seams with sorrow, melody and bats. Just be sure to keep your red wine and crucifix handy.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baroness - Yellow and Green

 Yellow & Green

A double album in 2012? Who the hell has that much money for studio time? Who has an hour and fifteen minutes to devote to listening to one artist? Oh wait, Baroness has put out a double album? Alright, for them I'll make an exception. Baroness is a band that works hard on their music and it's not surprising to me at all that they've pushed themselves to try their hand at the double album gonzo.

2009's Blue Album had a strong Wishbone Ash influence. Yellow And Green does, too, but has a greatly expanded range of influences on the songwriting, musicianship and production. Baroness started life as a heavy band but, like Mastodon, has gone through considerable changes. They've lost some of their original audience but have probably picked up a diverse crew of young musicians, weirdos into prog rock and some indie rock kids. There's a lot to learn from the guitar team of John Baizley (who does most of the singing, as well as playing bass on the album) and Pete Adams. There's definitely some heavy riffing but the majority of their playing is melodic and offers lots of intriguing turns of phrase. Drummer Allen Blickle has a lot of ability but is never show offy or intrusive.

It's hard to pick any one particular song as a stand out on either the Yellow or Green records. Breaking the album into halves is the way to go if you're trying to get into this thing. I listened to the first half a few times and then left it alone to check out the second half. Listening to it that way almost reminded me of getting a mix tape from a friend who's into a lot of stuff that I don't know much about. There are definite Wishbone Ash influenced songs but then others that bear the mark of Eno's work with Robert Fripp or Peter Gabriel (who also used Fripp). The variety of crazy effects on the guitar solos helps keep things from ever sounding too redundant. They must have spent a shitload of time mixing this record.

Overall a very solid and interesting listen. People half my age will probably compare it to Radiohead and Queens Of The Stone Age, but what do they know about obscure 70's rock? Take it from an old man. Try it, you'll like it. A double CD for ten bucks with killer art work is excellent value in today's marketplace.


Abrahma - Through the Dusty Path of Our Lives

Parlez-vous sweet heavy-psych?  Extra emphasis on the heavy.

Feel this album and you might understand:  Abrahma.

Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives, their 70-minute Small Stone Records debut, is something I must experience, not just hear.  Ya dig?  It's...dare I say: epic?  Yes, in every sense of the word.  One may want to set aside some time for his or her first rock-filled trip, which is what I did after hearing the hype, reading the rave reviews and tasting some teaser tracks.

Taking cue from what I can only assume is the image of an obscure god of riff-creation on my cover-of-the-year so far, I sit cross-legged on the floor and place my forearms on my thighs, making the same circles with my index fingers and thumbs.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Try like hell to levitate...but just can't.  Damn gravity.

If the short intro, "Alpha", shows me the way to the light, then I get a sense of dark shadows from next four or five songs.  Pulsing riffs on "Neptune Of Sorrow" are ominous and brooding, leading to a dynamic chorus, and  "Tears Of The Sun" is a muddy, gritty damn boogie-fest.  The grungy, "Dandelion Dust", and southern-tinged, bluesy "Honkin Water Roof" are nasty numbers.

Two more of my highlights are in the middle..  Just after the mystical "Headless Horse" - maybe my number-one song on the whole album - Monster Magnet's Ed Mundell plays a staggering solo on a sinister "Big Black Cloud".  Just the fact that the legendary guitarist would make an appearance on this impressive record should tell you something.  It did to me.

I think "Loa's Awakening (Prelude)" - combined with the "Vodun" trilogy (tracks, 7, 10 and 13) - could have been a decent ep by themselves. Part I, "Samedi's Awakening", makes me think of Pearl Jam's predecessor, Mother Love Bone.  Great vocals and an upbeat funky groove.  Act II, or "I, Zombie", has a rich Deep Purple swagger and the last, "Final Asagwe", has a dark southern swamp edge to it.

"Oceans On Sand..." is cool, a short narrative accompanied by blues guitar, which gives way to a bass-filled expansion of the mind, "...Here Sleep Ghosts."   Tripped-out guitar effects as I begin to wind through "The Maze", one of the most kaleidoscopic heavy-psych tunes I'll hear this year.  I'm sure of it.

Hold on...I think I'm levitating now.  Either that or my ass is going numb.  This a freakin' long album.

Ends with the mind-bending instrumental "Omega", another one of my top picks.  Over six minutes of stomping grooves and psychedelic greatness.  Awesome.

For me, there is an obvious drawback to owning a recording as epic as this one.  It will probably have to be a double-album if I get it on vinyl, which means it will cost quite a bit more than the records I usually buy.  Maybe I should start saving now.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DEVIL TO PAY Sign With RIPPLE MUSIC; Enter Studio to Record New Album For Vinyl and CD

RIPPLE MUSIC is proud to announce the signing of acclaimed, hard-hitting American Doom rockers, DEVIL TO PAY to their ever-expanding roster!

The band’s fourth, as of yet untitled, album is set for worldwide release on RIPPLE MUSIC in the coming months and the band will subsequently tour to knock the crowds out of their skulls, including appearances in all the major heavy rock/doom festivals.

DEVIL TO PAY commented yesterday upon the new alliance; “We are stoked to be a part of the Ripple family and to work with one of the most genuine heavy rock labels in the world! Having released our first three albums independently, it’s clear that these guys don't compromise in terms of putting out creative music and are the true believers of heavy rock. The variety of bands and the sheer quality of music they’ve released speaks for itself. We are very much honored that our music earned its place among their ranks!"

DEVIL TO PAY was formed in the beginning of the millennia as a doom rock band with metal/stoner and rock tangents, effortlessly crushing skulls while simultaneously coaxing them to sing along. The band hails the almighty riff, but unlike many of their contemporaries, the song is still king.  That is what separates the great bands from the shoulda & coulda bands.   Now celebrating their 10th year anniversary, DEVIL TO PAY has aged like Kentucky bourbon, distilling a culmination of years of sweat, highway miles, cigarette smoke and hangovers into crushing compositions and bone-jarring, heavy musical moments.

With a catalog of underground releases, DEVIL TO PAY gained accolades, awards and a hard earned cult-like status. They have established themselves as the go-to band for those searching out more than just a few killer riffs; a foundation of heavy that will flourish under the Ripple banner.

For more information on the band, please visit:


Grave Digger - Home At Last

The history of this band is written on the walls of heavy metal heroes and legends….written in blood and steel. They are a juggernaut of thrashing riffs and solid vocal assaults. A little heavier than Accept at their height. Very close to early savatage. But enough of any attempts at mere comparisons, Grave Digger stand on their own as inheritors of the metal throne.

This album, “Home at last” swirls around your skull and pummels you with some really intense songmanship. They know what their audience likes and they play that. No questions asked. This is true metal. Speed and fury is intermixed with some killer lyrics. Wow, I am listening to this and it just keeps getting louder and louder. Pure metal ecstasy.

6 songs of pure power metal. My favorite? Hands down… “Heavy metal breakdown” the live version. What a killer track. “Home at Last” and “Metal will never die” are also two great tracks from this album. My only complaint…..I want more songs!!!! But that’s just me...I get funny like that when I really like a good solid metal band.

9 out of 10 horns up!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Wheel Stunt Show – Wonderful Life

I love a band that just gets better and better.  It shows that their hearts are in it.  It shows they care about what they are doing.  And good Lord, this CD should be proof to anyone and everyone that The Big Wheel Stunt Show are in it to win it, as the kids say.

This is a remarkable step up and forward for these guys.  First I have to say that addition of the keys as a permanent part of the band is a genius move.  The keys are so well integrated into these songs that you would think they’ve been a part all along, when in fact they are a very new addition.  The second comment I have is that the production by Kurt Bloch of Fastbacks fame is perfect.  This is a band that is in their element on stage, and previous recordings have not quite captured that.  On “Wonderful Life”, you get a sense of that immediacy that live performance brings you.  I especially love the way all the vocals, lead and backing, are placed in the recording.  They are warm and up front and you can hear the various harmony lines.  Truly great recording and engineering.

“Wonderful Life” is the story of, well, a life.  All of it flows together as a story so the lyrics are definitely worth a listen.  The songs also stand apart and alone as well as individual songs, something not easily done.  Many bands try this idea but do it in such a ham fisted way that even the overall flow of the album does not work.

The playing and songwriting on this album are just superb.  There are many moments when your jaw will hit the floor, thinking “did they just pull off what I think I heard?”  Evan Nagle’s voice is in fine, soulful form, his guitar playing is on fire.  Justin Gimse’s drums are always right where they need to be, adding to each song and not detracting in any way.   Jake Melius on bass is like a love child of Cliff Burton and John Entwistle, if men could have babies.  And Andy Basinger on keys, the new guy, plays all the right stuff in all the right places.

Personal favorites on the album?  How about track 2, “Bad Thing” a straight up raging rocker that gets right to the point.  And then I’ll take “Situations”, a song that is seemingly ever changing in the way it is performed, and this recorded version captures the full essence of the talents and abilities of this band as they stretch it out and jam a little.  And because I’m a sucker for a well written slow song, “To Believe In” just knocks me out.
But the entire album is stellar from start to finish.  Sometimes I listen to an album and I think, “why the hell is THAT on here”, or something like that, and you know what I mean.  There are none of those moments on this release.  Do me a favor, no, do yourself a favor.  If you are a fan of solid rock and roll, great jams that sound like they came from the 70’s, get your hands on this album.  You will thank me.


The Other - The Devil You Know

First thing noticed, the song titles are kind of cliché. But The Other make up for it in a horror punk album that delivers the goods. Rod Usher howls as if he is Danzig’s heir to the horror punk throne. His vocals are equals parts punk shouting/singing, and gothabilly wails. Sarge Von Rock drives the band forward in a haze of growling and chugging riffs. Victor Sharpe’s bass locks in with Dr. Caligari’s drumming and both crush along remarkably.

Horror punk isn’t the genre to go to for lyrical finesse, but The Other moved past the usual, “Halloween, we’ll kill you, we’re freaks” subjects of horror punk on some songs, and added a bit more angst, such as in “Skeletons In the Closet.” Speaking of “All the truth will be revealed…leave me alone. All the bones are piling up, and you might be the next in line. Now that you are here, I can’t let you go.” They bring up some always popular anti-religious views such as in “Where’s Your Saviour Now?” “Down on their knees, they beg and they pray to get out of their sins in every way.” Also some hopelessness is brought up on “Puppet On a String” “I can’t explain this pain…..I will never love again. Lose the fight…like a puppet on a string forever tied!”

The more emotional lyrics allow “The Devils You Know” to have a more natural listen to it, other than the usual lackluster forced efforts by others who never stopped listening to “Famous Monsters.” There’s a certain key to the sound of The Other. It’s not merely horror punk; it’s Goth, death rock, rockabilly, and all the overlapping genres in between.

Of course there are some gems on “The Devils You Know” that stick to the classic horror punk formula. Key tracks: “My Home Is My Casket”, “Take You Down”….I could go on and on, basically all of “The Devils You Know” shines as a soon-to-be classic.

Memorable songs, powerful vocals, punching guitar, gripping drums, everything works in this record. Fantastic effort by The Other. “The Devils You Know” shows that The Other definitely can still throw down better than all the rest ten years into their career.

--Gorgeous Nightmare

Monday, July 16, 2012

Punk Me? Punk You! featuring Revillers, Pipes and Pints, Sir Reg, and Strawberry Blondes

Revillers - S/T

That's what I'm talking about!  Pure, old school UK-sounding punk, taking it's cue from those it should; Sex Pistols, Clash, Sub-humans, with the fury of Oi! and some good 'ol Boston work ethic.  This is the punk that's been charging me recently.  Anthemic, fiery, pissed-as-hell, and fused with chugging guitar riffs, fist-in-the-air singalong chorus, and an actually melody. 

Coming from Boston, where street punk is the city pastime, Revillers do it all right.  "No Bullshit Reactor" is the perfect combination of meth-crazed speed, vitriol, and gangland chants.  Forget whatever feelgood song the corporations try to push down our throats as the song of the summer, this should be the anthem of the season of our discontent.  From there, the album is a blur of flying fist, elbows and dislocated joints.  "Revision" pummels with pure punk fury and abandon.  "Fifth Column" will get the pit into a foam-mouthed frenzy.  "1860" is timeless punk that demands a black leather fist pump to the chanted chorus.

No emo crap here.  No pretense at being pop.  Bet the guys never saw a bottle of mascara in their lives.  Just brilliantly played, heart-felt Boston punk.  God bless em.

 On Patac Records, who are having a 10% off Summer of Scum sale right now.  Go there.


Pipes and Pints - Until We Die

God, nothing sounds better in a good punk record than the screaming wail of bagpipes.  Just something about the blend of heart-splitting guitar abandon, guttural vocal spewing, and bagpipes.  They just lend that touch of mournful indignation to the resistance and rebellious nature of punk.   I've been digging on a lot of Celtic punk recently -- even devoted a whole radio show set to some of the better stuff that's come into the Ripple.  Now I got another.  Pipes and Pints.

As the name suggests, this album goes down better with a flagon of ale, a crew of rowdy mates, some buxom barmaids, and a tavern that doesn't mind being doused in suds and torn up from the floorboards by the mosh pit.  The real mindfuck here is that the boys aren't from Ireland or Scotland.  Not even from Boston.  They hail from Prague, Czech Republic, but you'd never know it from Until We Die.  This is revolutionary Celtic punk ready to stand up with the best of em.

Guitars chug.  Drums flatten.  Bass compresses.  Vocals spit.  And the bagpipes, those glorious bagpipes.  They soar, man. They really soar.

Each song is a frenetic assault of spit-in-your eye rebel punk, elevated to a higher level by the pipes. On Unrepentent Records.  If Celtic punk is your thing, check this out without hesitation.


Sir Reg - A Sign of the Times

Speaking of Celtic Punk . . .

Speaking of Celtic Punk coming from someplace you'd never expect. . . .

Allow me to introduce you to Sir Reg, wailing Celtic punksters from that capital of Celtic music. . . Sweden.  Yep, Celtic punk is truly universal.

No bagpipes here, instead we got a fiddle adding that touch of class to the proceeding, and well done.  Sir Reg play things with a bit less fury than Pipes and Pints, with a bit more of a folk touch, but still fit squarely into a league with The Pogues, The Men They Couldn't Hang, the Dubliners, or Boston's own, The Dropkick Murphys.

Misplaced Dubliner Brenden Sheehy leads Sir Reg, so we got an Irishman singing while backed by a crack crew of Sweden's finest blitzing out the raucous noise.  "A Sign of the Times," is about as rousing an opener as you'd want to find.  Chugging along folk punk sure to get the punters cheering along.  "Dying to Rebel" ups the ante a bit, with some killer fiddle work and some stop start chant-alongs.

Just good fun stuff all the way through.

On Heptown Records.  http://www.heptownrecords.com/

Strawberry Blondes - Rise Up


If I'd never heard of a little band called The Clash, I'd think Rise up by U.K. punkers, Strawberry Blondes, was just about the cat's meow.  Rousing choruses, big guitars, rebellion in lyric.  It's all there.  Add to that some good harmony vocals and the album really kicks.

The problem is, I have heard of The Clash, and while Strawberry Blondes do a good job of trying to rise above their influences, it all just sounds so familiar.  I mean familiar, as in Clash debut album part II.  They claim Rancid as another influence.  But really, Rancid were just a fancy Clash cover band, weren't they?  So, if The Clash were the only band that mattered, what do you do with a Clash tribute band?

Again, there's nothing bad here.   I like it all.  Start to finish, it's a good album, but it just hangs so thick with the Clash influence that I have no idea what the guys sound like on their own.

So, if I'm not a fan, why include it here in the Ripple, you may ask.  Because, the guys got talent and they're really good at what they do.  Each song has adrenaline and melody and chops.  I'm hoping that they'll step away from the shadow of the Clash and show us what they can really do.  And if they do, toss in a few other influences--stretch themselves-- I bet they got a killer album in them.

We'll see.



Pipes and Pints

Sir Reg

Strawberry Blondes

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fear Factory - The Industrialist

 The Industrialist

 (another Ripple scribe's take on the latest Fear Factory.  You can check out Odin's view here)

With the new Fear Factory release, Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares continue and further a legacy of tightly crafted and well techno-minded thrash for the masses.

 This effort is a conceptual offering that can be easily set in today’s modern quandary.
 Starting off with the title track, The Industrialist, it tells of a world where the company owners and robber barons of this world have total control over thought, will, life and death. It is stark and current in content and well done.

 Continuing with Recharger, the trade mark Bell vocal swells intertwine with stops and rhythm time changes that deliver the vocals intent with direct effect.

 New Messiah speaks of new birth to the listener. It isn’t a pretty picture painted yet one of pain and suffering. The future expected is driven into your head with a mix of driving beats, pounding riffs, keyboards and sample noises to color the musical tapestry fully. This is continued into God Eater. A tempo change but no less focused in message and delivery. The samples are picked out well and the atmosphere of this tune is one that speaks of the plight of the masses.

 Depraved Mind Murder steps up the Industrial feel with more mechanical sounds that add to the tight rhythm punishment dealt, while Virus of Faith continues this vein of mechanical entwinement with a message of blind faith to the system and death to those who do not assimilate to the new authority.

 Track 7 Difference Engine, is a turning in the concept where there is a change in the air and revolt is eminent to the overlord oppressors of the story line. Variance in tempo and timbre are scattered throughout this track. It fits the change in story and the chaos and upheaval found in the reality of change.

 Disassemble brings you a straight beat down of the indifference felt and the feeling conveyed of taking a system gone wrong, back to the basics of a beginning.

 Track 9, Religion is Flawed Because, begins with some air and atmosphere to the mix, in a 1:52 interlude in the story that leads into the final 9:01 track, Human Augmentation. The vocal processing on this track is itself augmented and is laid over the backdrop of a factory production line in operation.

 This is a well conceived release with a polished production and music that is direct and punishing.
 I wonder if Bell can deliver the vocals to these songs with the same level of performance as the recording in a live format. I’m sure Dino can punch the guitar riffs with exacting accuracy.

 Now, fans of Fear Factory just have to wait for this duo to select a low end section to round out a live ensemble and get dates booked to deliver this person.

 This reviewer likes this offering from these Industro-Metal veterans and overall feel this is one of their best releases to date. Lyrical content and production are current to the times but, veiled in a future setting. The samples and sound effects are well chosen and mixed to maximize the songs impact.

 If you are a long time fan of FF or, looking to expand your Metal pallet with some variety, pick up this release in digital or, CD format and hear what The Industrialist is all about.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brad Hatfield Blues Band - Uphill From Anywhere

What is it about physical disabilities that makes great musicians? Ray Charles, Art Tatum, Stevie Wonder, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, Sonny Terry, Ronnie Milsap can’t or couldn’t see.  Itzhak Perlman can barely walk due to polio. Tony Iommi and Jerry Garcia had partial finger amputations. Hell, Def Leppard’s drummer, Rick Allen, lost an arm. Beethoven couldn’t hear a thing. 

If those examples of triumphant success in the face of adversity don’t grab you, maybe Brad Hatfield and his new album, Uphill From Anywhere, will.  The album is stuffed with some of the best barroom blues of the year, much of it written by, but all of it present by, blues singer and harmonica player Brad Hatfield and the Brad Hatfield Blues Band. Hatfield’s exquisite heartfelt lyrics, gritty vocals and world class blues mouth harp result in one of the finest blues releases of 2012.

Hatfield channels inspiration from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bobby “Blue” Bland, even John Lee Hooker, but it is unique and all Hatfield,  The eleven tracks - from the delta-tinged  “Witness To My Misery” to the country blues “She Got Time” then to the concluding track,  an acapella version of “John The Revelator,” via the slow blues of  “Livin’ Out The Lie” and a juke joint variety of rocking, pleading, simmering harp, guitar and organ tunes in between, make it an album to savor.  

So, what disability does Hatfield have that I named him in the same breadth as disabled musical icons Ray Charles, Art Tatum, Stevie Wonder, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, Sonny Terry, Ronnie Milsap, Tony Iommi, Jerry Garcia , Rick Allen and Beethoven? Hatfield was a guitar player from the age of ten but, had to give it up at age 25 when he was left paralyzed in a construction accident.  After years of rehabilitation, in his mid-30’s he was able to take up harmonica and started to sing.  After listening to Uphill From Anywhere you will be definitely glad that he did.

- Old School

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Friday, July 13, 2012

A Conversation with Pink Monkey

Pink Monkey are three cheeky, expert musicians who love irreverence and the musical manifestations of said attitude toward reverence in the form of musicians like The Ramones or Frank Zappa. Fortunately, for music in general and me specifically, they also just happen to play jazz.  What follows, as perhaps the above lede suggested, is the Sawtoothwave.com Interview.*

Sawtoothwave.com: If you yourselves could interview one musician, who would it be, and why?

[All] Frank Zappa, he was one of the original musical smart asses.

Your music seems dangerous, like jazz seemingly hasn't been in decades (to most modern listeners, particularly kids)--  like Coltrane and Dolphy getting in shit with Downbeat magazine in 1961 over their alleged “anti jazz” ... do you ever consciously consider precedents like that? What do you think of more "extreme," compared to most jazz musicians anyway, musicians like John Zorn or Peter Brötzmann?

[TK-- Tim Koelling, Saxophone] A big reason why Pink Monkey is so simple and out is kind of a rebuttal to the modern jazz scene. I love going to jazz clubs, but eventually I get bored - there is no reason “jazz” has to be accessible to only other musicians who understand what’s going on, or as background music. We all want to be rock stars!
[MK- Mike Koelling, Bass] Like Tim said, a lot of modern jazz gets boring. It’s just so cerebral that the common guy at the bar doesn’t get it. We would much rather be playing to a crowd of smiles than a few heads nodding in appreciation. We listen to a lot of John Zorn - We’ve even covered a few of his tunes. The Bad Plus is also a huge influence. Most importantly though we try to have a good time and keep things accessible and interesting.

Why "Pink Monkey"?
[MK] We had been playing for a few months and as a band bonding exercise we headed to mayfest in Chicago. After a lot of German beer, I ended up buying Tim a Pink Monkey and told him he had to wear it around his neck for the rest of the festival. A few steins deep I proclaimed “Let’s name our band Pink Monkey until we think of something better.” Five years later, we still haven’t come up with a better name.

For sax:
What type mouthpiece/ sax/ reed?
[TK] I play a Selmer series II alto, Otto link 7 mouthpiece, usually vandoren java 3's with a vandoren optimum ligature

The sax work on Ink suggests a bit of Zorn with Jackie McLean (particularly the intro to "A little bit off") and Rosco Mitchell... influences?
[TK] John Zorn is a big influence in my approach to pink monkey songs. Ne'eman from Masada was one of the first pink monkey "covers" I brought to the group. It's funny you mention Jackie McLean, one of my jazz professors my freshman year of college noted the tone similarities, but I had never listened to him at that point.

Whom do you think you sound like, versus who you actually wanna sound like (besides yourself, I mean)?
[TK] My favorite player, who doesn't really come out in the pink monkey project is Cannonball Adderley. The guts that are present in everything he plays, and sheer fluidity of all of his ideas are something that I continually strive towards. Other influences are Eric Dolphy, Andrew D'Angelo and all of the AACM guys. I want to sound like me though. My approach towards playing focuses more on melodic and sonic interpretation and manipulation rather than technical perfection or speed. It's about more than the notes I play.

If just alto, why just that? Many current sax guys use many types....
[TK] I play alto because that's my voice... It's also the only horn I owned until buying my first tenor last year (I added a soprano to my lineup last month). I've tried playing tenor in the group, but I hear everything on alto, and tenor gets lost in the bass and drums. I don't feel like the other horns speak the same language.

How does that growling through the alto hurt your throat, or does it? (I admire you, by the way, for that. I personally hate to growl.)
[TK] Growling doesn't hurt... It comes from the back of my throat, and at first was the byproduct of playing really loud and overblowing. I started learning to growl when transcribing cannonball in college trying to get the same intensity of his inflections and aggressiveness of his playing.

For Bass:
What type of strings/bass? Influences?
[MK] I play an American P bass special with La Bella flatwounds that are about 5 years old. James Jamerson got a great tone out of it, so why can’t I? My biggest influence is hands down my first bass teacher, Sam Greene. Sadly, after a little over a year of taking lessons with him, he was in a motorcycle accident, and most likely will never play again. I noticed him as the stand out player in the Chicago blues scene at the time. I went up to him after a show and asked him who I could take lessons from to sound like him. He gave me his number and told me to come by on Tuesday afternoon with $20. Still to this day every few months or so, something I learned from him will sink in and I’ll have one of those ah ha moments where something he told me 4 years ago will finally make sense.

Whom do you think you sound like, versus who you actually wanna sound like (besides yourself, I mean)?
[MK] I’d love to play like Victor Wooten. Sure, technically the guy is amazing, but the thing I like the most is that with all of his skill, he always seems to be having a blast no matter what he is playing. I also absolutely love Mingus. Nobody can swing like Mingus! I suppose I’d like to be somewhere between the two of them, but there are so many great bass players that I discover every day. I’ve really been digging Nathan Navarro lately. That guy has been pushing the boundaries of what live bass is supposed to sound like. I end up playing a lot of rock in my other projects though, so I suppose I sound like Nate Mendel trying to sound like Nathan Watts.

For Drums:
What type of drums...?
[NK-- Nick Kokonas, Drums] I play a Gretsch new classic four piece with zildjin new beat hi hats, a 20" zildjin flat ride, my main ride is a Sabian 20" artisan series, and a Ludwig speed demon bass pedal from the early 80's at least.

[NK] All the jazz greats, I gravitate toward elvin, art blakey, tony williams (before he went into fusion), current Dave king, ?uestlove, Matt Wilson then billy cobham, Alphonse mouzon, and Peter Erskin.

Whom do you think you sound like, versus who you actually wanna sound like (besides yourself, I mean)?
[NK] I am really not sure who I sound like. I know I don't have the clarity of some of those guys, I play a little bit sloppy for what i want but fell in love with Dave king's playing and I'm constantly working on control and clarity in my playing. Rodney Holmes is always a strive with his tone. The thing that really inspired me was seeing Dave Brubeck at the Chicago symphony center. Hearing command of an instrument like that was an outstanding experience.

Best concert ever of yours? Worst? Describe in ridiculous detail.
[MK] The best show we had was definitely the release show for our live album. We knew it was going to be our last show for a while because Tim was leaving the country for a year, so we went all out. We had name tags for everyone that walked in the door ranging from “Batman” to “That kind of girl” to “looking to get laid”. It was an all out party. We had a piñata that was filled with candy and condoms and did a raffle for the leftover merch stock and shots of whisky. We gave away all of our CDs and I don’t remember much after that.

[TK] The worst concert ever never happened. In 2008 we were on the road heading to Des Moines, IA for our first “tour”. About halfway between Chicago and the middle of nowhere the oil line in our borrowed SUV blew and we were stranded on the side of I80 for 6 hours waiting for a flatbed tow truck. We ended up staying the night in Rock Falls, IL in the oldest, creepiest Holiday Inn ever. That wasn’t the worst part though, since we got there about 2AM we couldn’t buy any beer. We waited around most of the next day for friends with cars to come get us and drive back to Chicago. When we got back we had an impromptu BBQ at my sister’s place, got wasted, then proceeded to a bar to perform the most belligerent karaoke ever.

Who first inspired each of you (musician or not) to play your respective instruments?
[TK] Cannonball Adderley.
[NK] There was a bunch of kids growing up in my neighborhood that played drums. When I got to start playing music in school at age 12 I immediately said I want to play drums.
[MK] I can’t really say that there was one person that inspired me to take up the bass. I’ve always been a groove guy. I played trombone, rhythm guitar, and I even produced techno music for a while. I didn’t discover that my musical voice was best suited for bass until my mid twenties.

Each of your favorite albums lately?
[NK] I've been listen to a lot of now vs now which is amazing stuff. I just popped in Geoff Bradfield African Flowers (a former teacher of mine) again today and that will probably be in my cd player for a week or so
[TK] Lettuce - Fly
[MK] They don’t have an album out that I’ve been able to find, but I absolutely love the treatment that The Dirty Loops have been giving pop covers in their youtube videos.

How do you plan to arrange tracks? Is it pure improv? Do you agree on a key or a head arrangement ahead of time?
[MK] Arranging tracks is a crap shoot with this project. Sometimes Tim has a melody, sometimes, Nick has a beat, and sometimes I have a Groove. 10 Below was actually written by Tim and Nick while they were trying to play something energetic to keep warm in the practice space we were squatting in - in Chicago in February with the heat turned off- while I took a dump. Nick played a beat, Tim started playing sax and when I finished my business I played an active bass line. We usually have a head and some resemblance of form, but when we play we go mostly by feel. We all know how the tune will start. From there it’s like a tornado. The tunes tend to take on a life of their own and I just do my best to keep up with wherever they are going.

How do you record? Do you use the first takes of songs, or have these been played many time before live?
[MK] Just about all of the songs on INK have been performed live many times over the last 4 years. Most of the recordings were first takes. We’ve tried recording cleanly and doing overdubs, be every time we tried it, we lost the energy that comes from our live performances. When we recorded INK we knew we had 4 hours, and that was it. It’s not the cleanest recording, but it captures what we’re about better than anything else we’ve ever recorded. I also like that we each took one track to stretch out and do our thing. Each band member contributed one track independently of the rest of the band. For me that was Pike, Tim’s track was It was Yours, and Nick’s was Apple Skin.

Musically, how did the Ramones influence Pink Monkey? Did they?
[MK] I don’t know if they influenced us much musically, but they sure did influence our attitude. I love the attitude of punk rock. That punk rock attitude of “anyone can do this” is something we try to bring to jazz.

What kind of musical training do each of you have? How did you meet?
[TK] I grew up in a musical family, playing drums before I could walk while Mike sang.
I played Violin for 3 years starting when I was 9, all Suzuki method which is mostly ear training - probably what lead me to improvised music. I started playing sax at 10, in school. I started playing jazz around 12, learning scales, modes, and basic theory at summer band camps. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing public school music program with gigging musicians as teachers who encouraged us to practice a lot. They pushed the talented musicians a lot - if you were sitting around the band hall on a break they would force you to have an impromptu lesson, and would often write passes excusing you from other classes to spend more time playing. I got to play at Lincoln Center with our big band because of this, and my senior year of high school our music program was the first ever Grammy signature school, in 1999.
I studied music, jazz studies and saxophone performance at Webster University in st Louis my freshman year of college, then transferred to University of Iowa as a comm/sociology major. I think the 8 hours a day of practicing I did in High School burnt me out... and I wanted to learn some social skills that don’t come easily when you spend your time shut off in a practice room. I still played music at Iowa, continuing studies in jazz combos and big band.
I moved to Chicago to have access to a bigger music scene, but mostly played guitar for the first few years I was here (neighbors would complain when I played sax). Eventually we formed Pink Monkey. I’m also active in other bands, playing lead alto in a composers big band called The Heisenberg Uncertainty Players, playing and writing horn lines for Band Called Catch, alto in an awesome soul cover/tribute band The New Balance, and with whoever calls me on any given week. I even had a stint with a Billy Joel Cover Band.
[MK] I grew up in the same musical family that Tim did. We were encouraged to be musical from an early age. Looking back it was sort of weird. I actually got my start playing trombone. I may have worn wal-mart clothes to school every day, but I had a pro horn when I needed one. I went to the same amazing high school. I can’t say enough great things about it. You were expected to improvise over changes by 14 and play bebop at bebop tempos by 17. It’s actually the recordings of my band that won the Grammy, but Tim has the medal. We had amazing guest clinicians and got to play gigs with Clark Terry and Willie Thomas to name a few. I played in a section that could play Four Brothers to tempo on Trombone. It’s still probably the most talented band I’ve ever played in. Most of my band went on to Berklee or North Texas.
After high school I went to Missouri Western State College on a full ride musical scholarship, but I was disappointed. As a freshman, I was already one of the best members of the band. I dropped out of school, and started DJing Raves. I loved that the turntable was the first instrument that I didn’t fundamentally understand. Over 8 years, I forgot most of my music theory, but learned to groove. I moved to Chicago with the intention of continuing my DJ career. On a whim, I picked up the bass, and I rarely touch my turntables anymore. Shortly after I started fooling around on bass, I put out a craigslist ad, and Nick answered it. Originally we were going to play as a pop rock trio, but then Nick asked if we played jazz. It all took off from there.
After Pink Monkey started, I broadened my horizons and started playing in other acts. I learn a lot by playing in different genres. I learned how to up the stage show by playing in a kids music band called Super Stolie and the Rockstars, and I learned a lot about networking and hustling with my rock band, The Prime. I also do a fair amount of work on sub and cover gigs. I’m always learning something even if it isn’t advanced music theory.
[NK] I started in grade school band. I didn’t do much jazz in high school as I grew up in the alternative rock age. After high school I started playing hand percussion in a jam band and really got immersed in world music. From that I backed into the kit and immediately went into jazz.
How are you generally received live?
[MK] We are received very well live for the most part. Club owners who hate jazz love us. We do take some flack from some jazz artists, but we know how to have fun. I remember playing a gig with one group that played standards. During their set everyone was sitting in their seat, and even the musicians had a glazed over look in their eyes. We finished with Blue Monk and invited them all back up to jam, and they were having a blast and the entire audience had kicked their chairs to the side of the room to dance.

What kind of fans do you see? Mostly jazz? What kind of t-shirts do they wear, for God's sake??
[MK] Our typical fans are as diverse as our musical palate. My favorite fans are actually the people that happen to be in the bar when we take the stage. They are always surprised at how we sound. We can sure bring down the house in dive bars. Generally, we’ll play more rock clubs than jazz venues. I love the sight of a long haired dude in a slayer T-shirt digging some Monk inspired changes.

What standards did you start out playing? What "popular music covers?"
[MK] Like so many other jazz artists, we got our feet wet playing real book tunes. It didn’t take long for our stage antics start influencing our behavior though. I think Pink Monkey’s attitude was born when we were playing a martini bar and some buy walked out in the middle of our set. Tim followed him out of the bar and ½ way down the block while Nick and I kept things going in the bar. We do play popular music covers as well. The Bad Plus is one of our biggest influences in how to cover pop music. I can’t say we’re anywhere close to them technically, but we do our best to keep things interesting.

Have you actually been kicked out of a martini bar? if so, good for you.
[MK] Not officially, we have been locked into a Martini Bar though. Lefco, if you’re reading this, we love you, but my liver told me we can’t ever play the Blue Stem again.
I personally believe jazz should be energetic, outrageous, utterly, perfectly free to sound how it wants, whenever it wants (which, I would argue, is quite different than most modern jazz fans/players think); what non-jazz music do you listen to when not playing?
[TK] I listen to everything from Radiohead, The Low Anthem, Punch Brothers, Passion Pit, Rubblebucket, Son Lux... too many to list. If it’s got an interesting twist it goes on my playlist.
[NK] I love mos def and blackstar, the roots, d'angelo, lots of bluegrass and radiohead, i dig John butler trio, great players, Anit Cohen (sorry that's jazz but just killer), I am always checking out what's playing in the radio too, you need to know what is going in pop culture wise in this day in age in order to get music heard. Death cab for cutie, foo fighters, incubus (before there most recent album)
[MK] This is a tough one for me. My Ipod always has what I need to play for my next gig cued up. Lately I’ve been digging on some classic Stevie Wonder, The Dirty Loops, and Foo Fighters.

Closing: Yannow, it's nice when a band you're interviewing is more sarcastic than you; you don't have to worry about possible double entendres in interview questions that won't be comprehended and/or appreciated. Also, sorry if these questions were too jazz/instrument-specific. Although if you feel that way, you Philistine and/or Luddite whore, you can totally suck it.

*I always wanted to say that. It sounds better than I'd imagined, frankly.

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