Friday, August 31, 2012


Black Magician 'Nature Is The Devil's Church' Artwork

A dark, oppressive mist is slowly, very slowly snaking from the waters of the Mersey River and twisting through the streets of Liverpool; a gloomy, gothic fog that threatens to overrun the city before setting its sights on the rest of the world. Not gothic in that cheesy 80’s sense, no, this is born from bleaker times…a Hammer Horror sense of the gothic, or maybe Poe or Lovecraft. Imagine the soundtrack to the dark streets of Victorian Whitechapel where Jack The Ripper plied his evil trade or the sombre atmosphere of Dartmoor where the Hound of The Baskervilles terrorized the locals.

Black Magician are the perpetrators of this demonic, nightmarish world as they take the core foundations of doom metal and twist it into an acrid smoke filled epic fantasy. Sounding like early Cathedral playing a Hammer Horror soundtrack, Black Magician take their slothful rhythms and mix in dank, epic riffs with spine chilling organ sounds that are both integral to the Black Magician’s wicked rites.

Kicking off with a minute long, spooky introduction the band pummel into the first track proper,"Full Plain I See, The Devil Knows How to Row",  which introduces us to the band’s murky world as it grinds through nearly 8 minutes of oppressive yet catchy doom, topped off with Liam Yates’s tortured vocals before kicking into high gear and thrashing out to the conclusion like “To Mega Therion” era Celtic Frost. Yates’s vocals are worthy of note here. It is impossible not to make reference to Lee Dorrian as Yates plumbs his guttural depths and enunciates his lyrics in a very similar manner to the Cathedral front man. He does, however succeed in sounding far more authentic and less cartoonish than Dorrian suiting the music to a tee. An Ozzy copyist would simply have not cut it here, this is just a step beyond Sabbath in its vampiric world of horror.

“Four Thieves Vinegar” is over ten minutes of more glacial, crushing doom that follows on from where the previous track left off. When Yates intones the words “Bring Out Your Dead” it sounds for all the world as if the bodies may be subjected to some nefarious purposes and not given a true Christian burial. Interestingly the monolithic guitars of Kyle Nesbitt go far beyond mere Sabbath worship to create a sound that is built far less around simple riffs being hammered into submission and more around snaking, twisting patterns that circle back round on themselves to create a recognisable cycle…the effect is almost symphonic in its scope.

Nesbitt breaks out the acoustic for “Of Ghosts And Their Worship” which flirts heavily with pastoral folk without losing the dark occult overtones that feature so heavily elsewhere in the band’s heavier songs. When the keyboards float in one can almost envisage Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle leading the faithful in a merry dance in The Wicker Man.

Final track, the fourteen plus minute epic “Chattox” builds slowly from a soft keyboard intro and some tasteful lead playing from Nesbitt…something which is a rarity on this album and only used sparingly and effectively. When the doom kicks in around the three minute mark the track has left of the complexity of the other tracks here displaying its strength through a much sparser guitar arrangement that owes more to Celtic Frost’s slower moments than the twisting, weaving guitar and keyboard interplay they’re displayed elsewhere throughout the album but to no less mesmeric effect.

The album may seem short on tracks but it’s certainly not short on length or ideas and will certainly not leave any dedicated doom fans wanting. Alongside Undersmile’s “Narwhal” album this is sure to be one of the finest doom releases issued this year and should see Black Magician’s rise to bigger stages and higher accolades take a very quick turn. Buy the CD by all means but this album was mastered by Stone Axe/Mos generator main man Tony Reed to be heard on vinyl so do yourselves a favour and grab this as a slab of wax first and foremost.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Punk Me, Punk You! Featuring Wolves at Bay, The Scutches, and Kite Party

Wolves at Bay - Only a Mirror

Combining full-on spittle-faced hardcore fury with a post-hardcore/angular rock sensitivity, Wolves at Bay get this punk rock column off to a maniacal start.  Opening cut, "Bedside Maner" starts off with an indie-kinda guitar intro that made me hesitate that I'd be subjected to some whinny, masscara-faced preening, but immediately the lads dispense all those thoughts.  This is pure hardcore with double vocals that blend together seamlessly, both shredding their voice boxes with equal abandon.  Guitars morph into churing buzzsaws, tearing through the melody.  Yes, there is melody.  Enough to keep the song hanging together and adding that post-hardcore vibe.  The second half of the song ups the hardcore quotient with chugging frontal-bone smashing guitars, plowing through the violence.

From start to finish, the whole album sounds like someone took a red-hot burning poker and pressed it right up against a raw nerve.  Emotive, violent, self-vilifying, and blistering.  And at the same time, cuts like "I Have Nothing to Offer"" snap the hardcore smashing with moments of pure post-rock, indie beauty.  Yes, it's still rough, but makes for a great blend from the pure punk.   "Breaking in Two" even includes a mid-way breakdown, with silence slowly morphing into an almost jazz like interlude.  It's moments like that that rise this album above the norm of post-emo punk that comes our way.  Worth checking out.

The Scutches - Ten Songs, Ten Years

Moving over to a much more radio-friendly, pop-punk vein, we got The Scutches with their post-Ramones, post-Green Day platter, Ten Songs, Ten Years.  What we got here are . . . yes,  ten songs of melodic yet still aggressive pop-punk juiciness.  I got no problem with  with pop punk as long as the choruses are catchy, the chops still mighty, and the singing not too whiny.  Check, check, check.  This is pop punk done with flash and flair.  Fun songs, loud guitars, substantial pounding drums. 

Taking their cues from masters of the past, The Dead Milkmen, Queers, with a dash of The Ramones, plus tossing in a chunk of Weezer and even some of the innocence of Buddy Holly, Ten Songs, Ten Years is a whirlwind of hooks and melodies all crammed into 26 minutes of pop punk goodness.  "Weekend Boyfriend" would've even sounded great if it'd been released by the Ramones and wouldn't have sounded out of place on their greatest hits album.   "Don't Go" has got a simple vocal hook that will effortlessly embed itself in the toughest cortex and reel itself right into the brain.

Nothing here to change the world, but good clean punky fun.

Kite Party - Baseball Season

Definitely blurring the boundaries of what we call punk, Philadelphia's Kite Party tread a path through the jungles of emo punk, skirting around the rain forest of indie rock, all the time avoiding the quicksand that can sink both genres into parody.  Emo originally sprang from the world of hardcore punk, incorporating real singing, unusual time structures and more introspective emotions.  But what became known as emo to the general public, and to me, was whiny, nail-polish wearing wimps, crying about lost dates and facial breakouts.  Kite Party are here to change that.

This is emo as originally intended.  It still has an inherent ferocity (not a manufactured, MTV-ready amped up pace) but it is definitely pop-friendly and melodic.  Songs go in and out of time changes, mood changes, pace and tone changes.  Indie rock seems to reign supreme, but not in a fey sort, more in an experimental sort.  Guitar textures are played with.  In the end it all makes the album feel . . . big.  And it is.  It's a real big album and in that sense, a kind of masterpiece of its sort.

A song like "Spirit Gum" represents all this in one brief capsule.  Beautiful at times, intensely melodic at times, experimental in tone and structure, yet still, at times aggressive and near-violent.

In the end, it's a terrific album that challenges me on every listen in the best sense of the word.  I never thought that I liked emo before.  Now Kite Party have proven me wrong.


Ripple Theater - Last Days Here DVD; The History of Pentagram

If you have any interest in developing an addiction to crack and/or heroin, please watch this documentary about Pentagram mainman Bobby Liebling. I always knew Bobby was an insane drug addict but I had no idea of the depths of his insanity. Holy shit, this guy is nuts. Last Days Here is an extremely accurate portrayal of his manic lifestyle. Bobby is undoubtedly a talented and visionary musician. It took people decades to appreciate what Pentagram started doing back in 1971 (me included).

In most stories concerning obscure rock bands, the blame is usually dumped on the manager or record company. In the Pentagram story, it's all down to Bobby. He's alienated just about everybody he's ever played music with or tried to help his career. The movie starts with him looking frail, high and insane living in his parents house. Sean “Pellet” Pelletier is a Pentagram fanatic trying to help get his hero's life and career back in order. If there's a heaven, Sean will have a VIP pass. Musicians are a weird breed. There's a weird mix of insecurity and ego that forces someone to perform. Bobby makes Iggy Pop seem like an easy going guy who's a delight to work with. His elderly parents acknowledge that they've enabled their son's poor behavior but refuse to turn their back on him.

The history of Pentagram is long and confusing and some of the anecdotes are priceless. There are some hilarious/pathetic tales told by former member Joe Hasselvander about Bobby turning up so late for a show that he gets there in time for the end of the last song. And then there's the time he OD'd on stage. Still want to be in a band, kids? Murray Krugman, who was involved with Blue Oyster Cult and The Dictators, had big plans for Pentagram but Bobby blows it by mouthing off and ruining their chances. Former drummer Geof O’Keefe's version of that story is heartbreaking.

But for all the doom n gloom of this film, there is a happy ending. Bobby swears on camera to give up drugs and eventually gets clean. His relationship with on and off again girlfriend Hallie results in marriage and a baby. That's where the movie ends. Since the film was completed Bobby has been rewarded with a stable line up and the triumphant return of guitar hero Victor Griffin. Victor's been clean for a long time and he vows to split if Bobby fucks up. Last year they released the solid album Last Rites and I caught the band in NYC and was thrilled at how great Bobby sounded. His voice has not let him down and Victor played incredibly well. I'll get another chance to see Pentagram in September when they headline a festival in Brooklyn that features heavyweight support from Agnostic Front, Negative Approach and Poison Idea. If Bobby manages to stay clean then a sequel to this film would be pretty dull, but that would be fine with me.


Wodensthrone - Curse

Have to admit that I'm not well-versed in the field of black metal. Of course, the genre was "born" around the time I hit my twenties and I did listen to it somewhat but I was never mesmerized by it. So if I'm not "that into" it why write about Wodensthrone from northern England? Simply because their new album Curse is fantastic!

Wodensthrone have really mastered the art of building atmospheres with their music which is an essential ingredient in black metal but they have managed to push the envelope with Curse. The core of their music is classic black metal e.g. furious buzzsaw-like guitars backed by Armageddon sounding drums. And the vocals are taken straight from the depths of Hell. What makes them stand out is their inclusion of keyboards, clean vocals and folk music. Fret not die hard back metal fans, this is not a weird amalgamation of wimpy music. No Wodensthrone's greatness lies in their sparse but extremely effective use of these three elements. The keyboards are always there but are mainly used for effects throughout the songs and the clean vocals and the folk music parts are exclusively used in the few slower parts Curse presents.

As any black metal album Curse is dark, brooding and angry but this cd is so beautiful in all it's grimness and bleakness. And this is something that further sets Wodensthrone at the top of the black metal community. Their ability to switch so easily between tempos and moods creates atmospheres that gets my imagination going and paints beautiful imagery despite its angriness. Also the band has structured each song perfectly which prevents any tediousness to creep in, something that happens all to easily with any kind of genre. Instead they have a perfect flow to their music which which enhances their music even more.

Another thing Wodensthrone has done that in my mind elevates Curse is the production. I am an advocate of less is more with a lot of things in life but with music I prefer good, big, fat sound. It should at least be done with a band's best knowledge, ability and intentions. The first wave of black metal was extremely minimal when it came to recording and as the style gained in popularity many bands kept it minimal to be true. Many times it sounded crap because of that. Wodensthrone has avoided all that and the production-side of Curse is excellent. You hear every instrument clearly despite the furious and chaotic music and that just makes the atmospheres and visions they create even better.

Whether you have been into black metal for a long time or you want to start out, Wodensthrone's Curse is an album you don't want to miss out on. It's a great album in it's own right regardless what genre you're talking about. This is the first time I have ever heard of the band but they have another full length cd released along with a 7" and two splits that I am definitely going to check up on. Because Curse is magnificent and you're a fool if you don't pick up a copy!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #5

From April 4th to June 4th The Ripple Effect ran a campaign on the excellent online music website ReverbNation (  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.

Our Future Leaders – From Orlando, FL comes this four piece rock band.  The song submitted made a solid impression on me with its dueling guitar lines.  They definitely got my attention.  As the song progressed I was treated to big, big melodic choruses and one sweet breakdown before the band went into overdrive once again.  Overall a very nice mix of classic metal and modern hard rock.

ReverbNation Page –

Song Sample – “Enemy”

Atoaji Radellant – While it’s not exactly fair to this emcee from Richmond, VA the first thing I noticed was how much he looked like another emcee named Illogic.  Putting aside the visual similarities I found his song submission to be very enjoyable.  His wordplay is pretty fluid and all of his lyrics are annunciated well.  If pressed, I’d label this guy a conscious rapper.  See what you think waveriders.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “Learn Bout Me”

Pete Herger – This band comes to us from Danbury, CT.  The song submitted (“Yell It Out”)begins with a very Bruce Springsteen-ish vibe to it musically.  Impressively, as the vocals build the feel of the song switches completely to remind me of U2.  It should be noted that the production of this song is very good.  I would recommend this to anyone modern pop rock fans out there.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “A Train”

The George Brown Band – An ear pleasing five member jam/rock band from North Hampton, NH.  The song I listened to had a very nice, laid back feel to it with some classy vocal harmonies throughout.  Their bio page compares them to Ben Harper, Dave Matthews Band, and DISPATCH.  I’d say if you enjoy any of those artists, this band is worth your attention.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “Song For Winter”

Don L Castor – Well this was a nice surprise!  This Los Angeles, CA artist submitted a poppy R&B/soul track that I found highly enjoyable.  Right off the bat, I think this guy has a great voice.  Also, the mixture of modern pop sensibilities with classic soul elements sounds quite refreshing to my ears.  His bio references Seal, John Mayer, and Kem as similar artists.  I couldn’t agree more.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “Pieces”

SjW – It takes guts to say that your band sounds like Rush, The Police, King’s X, and Genesis, and then actually get me to agree with you.  However, listening to this Reading, UK band’s song submission easily validated those comparisons in my eyes.  I heard elements of each band in the overall musical mix, and the best part was that I didn’t feel the song was derivative.  See if you agree with me waveriders.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “The Keeper”


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Forgjord – Sielunvihollinen

We’re in the midst of what passes for a heat wave in the Seattle area as I write this.  I know, we’re wusses of the highest order around here.  It’s like 85 or 90 for a few days in a row and everyone starts bitching about the heat, and August is usually the only month when we really, truly get summer around here.  And we still complain about it after a few days.

I bring this up because I’ve wanted to write my review of this album for a while, and I figured that maybe if I listened to some really grim, Finnish black metal that maybe the frostiness would seep through the speakers and I might cool down a little.  Didn’t work, but this is a kickass album and it’s time you know about it.

This is the 3rd album for Forgjord, although damned if I’ve heard of them before.  After doing my radio show and writing these metal reviews for some time now, I’ve come to the conclusion that are a virtually limitless number of these bands that are really good, but at the very obscure end of the underground metal world, so unless you literally stumble over them you’ll never hear them.  Which is really a shame, and why I like to review these album especially, so at least a little light can be shed on these bands.  Not too much light though, or they’ll get pissed off.  Some of these guys just crave the darkness.

The album title translates roughly to “Soul Nemesis”.  At least that’s what the promo sheet tells me, and who am I to argue when I don’t speak Finnish.  It’s a fitting title, as the music contained here just sounds pissed off, aggressive, grim and basically the antithesis to a soul.  At least as I think of it, the soul is supposed to be the source of all things good and light and spiritual, and this music is anything but.  Topics covered in the lyrics include hatred, anti-Christianity, lycanthropy and death.  So not exactly the life of the party for most people, but those of us who love black metal aren’t usually the life of the party anyway.  I’ve had a couple days lately where I’ve been just pissed off with people in general, angry with the state of the world, and I tell ya, this release really hits the spot when you feel that way.  It has provided a much needed release for me even though I can’t understand the lyrics.  It’s the atmosphere that truly matters in black metal anyway, and these guys truly deliver.

Track 2, which Google Translate says is called “Death Is Not Worth It”, is a superb piece of black and roll, but the rest of this is just pure, evil European black metal.  You can imagine that frost blasted, forsaken Finnish landscape, where nothing survives, nothing is good, and the ethereal bleakness just takes over your soul.  And it feels so good.  If you understand what I mean, find this release. 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Wolfshead - S/T

I was overjoyed when Racer posted a Bandcamp link to Wolfshead a few days back. Not that I was particularly waiting for the link or anything, it was just . . . well, when I hit the little play button and my world got turned upside down, I felt an exhilaration that doesn’t come around all that often. Thank you Racer for going to the effort of getting this link up!

So, Wolfshead is a two-piece stoneriffic, doom-y sludge metal band (Eh? How’s that for muddying up the categorical waters?) hailing from England. I guess one could say these cats are part of the resurgent new wave of heavy British rock that’s going on right now, and like a bunch of the bands in this particular scene, Wolfshead are creating music their way . . . starting with a basic sound rooted in heavy blues and then letting the music go where it needs to go. What I hear is a classic hard rock sound mixed with Monotheist-era Celtic Frost . . . an order of something really heavy with a side order of even more heavy!

“Warbringer” kicks this sampler off with a thrash-y groove laden riff and rocks along at a good pace. I’m digging the little guitar flourishes that they drop into the verse, almost giving the song a classic NWOBHM feel. The gang chants of “Hail! Hail!” makes me throw my fists in the air, making typing an absolute bear, but oh-so-much fun! The end section breakdown is crushing in heft and weight, brutally distorted and reminds me of some of the finer moments from Lair of the Minotaur.

The first play through of this recording had me mouth agape in awe when “Garden” pummeled me senseless. This is where the Monotheist Celtic Frost sound comes seeping out of the well water. Thunderous and overpowering, the guitars vibrate everything in the immediate area of my speakers to ash, and the vocals are about as ominous as they can get, channeling a bit of the Tom G. Warrior tormented angst. I love the subtle guitar licks these guys throw in every so often . . . always keeping things interesting, keeping the music moving forward, and not allowing things to get stale. Fucking killer song!

“Pissin’ Blood” (always a good time), is an upbeat thrashing garage rock burst of audio excitement! If your head isn’t bobbing up and down on this one, you’re damaged. It’s alright. It’s nothing personal. This track, probably more than any other on this sampler, is the most accessible in the sense of fitting in with any particular genre or scene. It’s short, to the point, non-stop rollicking fun, and while it doesn’t really venture outside of the retro sound, it does have little nuggets of intrigue mixed into the mix.

As if these guys were saving the best ‘til last, “Death Priest” is a punishing escapade through the surreal. This six minute epic excites me more than any other because it’s out there . . . it’s dynamic and experimental, but no less accessible than the rest of this rocking set of music. Within the first minute of the song, Wolfshead bring a number of different moods. Opening with a stonerfied and fuzzed out riff for a few measures, the boys then drop into a dirge-y Sabbathian palm muted riff that includes some sexy guitar licks. Then the music opens up again, longer sustained notes creating a break in the tension created by the palm muted and spartan verses. The vocals, while strained in places, crack in all the right places and make this song feel like a horrifying travel through the darkest recesses of the mind.

Word has it that Wolfshead are working on a full length album, to which I can only sit here in stunned silence with a stupid grin on my face. If their full length follows the footprint of this sampler, I’m gonna have a damn good time rocking from here to eternity! This sampler isn’t perfect, but then again, it doesn’t need to be. The energy is there, the structures are there, the musicianship and vision are there . . . Check it out, drop the guys a buck or two and download the tunes for yourselves. Or, sit in front of your computer and listen to the stream for the rest of your lives. Either way works for me. Just do it.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Occupy This Album - Various Artists

“Occupy This Album” is what every liberal political junkie should have on hand. I realize that’s a bold statement. But “Occupy This Album” truly shows, just like the Occupy Movement, that people from different walks of life, different bands, different genres, different colors, and different beliefs can come together for one purpose, to help each other out, and to show that the 99% will not back down!

Spanning four discs, and seventy-seven vastly different artists, “Occupy This Album” is the sound of a movement that will never die. And with that many songs, I’m pretty sure this album will never die, or end. Seriously, there’s over five hours of music on it. Maybe I’m dumb for trying to review an album with approximately four thousand different genres on it, but like I said before it’s not just punks that are protesting now, it’s everyone. Everyone that is tired of being pushed around by the rich and the government. There are artists from every genre, from punk to rap to jazz to bluegrass to alt rock to pop and everything in between.

Obviously with that many different styles on one disc, I didn’t like some songs, but that’s not due to the artist not having talent, it’s just because that’s not my genre of preference. Every artist on here has talent coming out of their ears. There’s not a poorly produced or ill-put together song on this album. There are so many songs that shine on this album, it’s impossible to name all the great artists.

There are HUGE, I mean, HUMONGOUS names on here. Willie Nelson. Anti-Flag. Deborah Harry. Third Eye Blind. Patti Smith. Yoko Ono. Our Lady Peace. The list goes on, and on, and on…. Seeing big name artists join indie-label bands is truly refreshing to hear. It’s again going back to that everyone is struggling and fighting this. I mean, obviously Willie Nelson isn’t hurting in the cash department, but those big names bring money, focus and help to the cause. I’ll admit it; I was much more excited about this album when I saw Anti-Flag on it, so there you go, an example.

Another reason I liked seeing big names next to smaller ones, is that it gives the chance to discover a lot of really talented artists you weren’t aware of before. Richard Barone, Matt Pless, My Pet Dragon, Build the Sun, and various others are ones that I liked in particular. Don’t write this album off for not having your favorite genre on it, (though I cannot imagine one it missed) because you probably will find an artist on here that’s from a completely different genre than you’re used to that will blow you away. True story, happened to me.

Not all of the songs on “Occupy This Album” are protest songs. There are songs for uniting (We Stand as One, Come on Come on Come On, Smile {Get Up and Sing}, Under the Bridge, others). Ones clamoring for peace and love (Love {Only Love}, Take a Stand, A Peaceful Solution, others), And, Ones shouting that rebellion is the way to go (Rebel, Worldwide Rebel song, People Have the Power, Fight the Good Fight, Revolution, others). And of course the protest ones (Nothing Recedes like Progress, This Is What America Looks Like, GREED, Which Side Are You On?, others).

All in all, a powerful album that shows up any compilation album of many artists of the last few years. A real prize, it’s not an album to be missed.

--Gorgeous Nightmare

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Late Show - Portable Pop

"They don't make music like they used to." 

That's how dinner started.  My friend Jack was about ten years older than me and was travelling through on his motorcycle so I invited him to share a meal.

"Where are the bands with beautiful soaring melodies, jangly guitar and catchy writing?  You know, like the early Beatles, Byrds,  Stones."

I hadn't seen Jack in ten years, since a certain bizarre scene that involved police, illegal apartments, fisticuffs and a room of plants.  It was clear he was fixated on the rock music of the early 1960's.  Not a bad fixation as far as fixations go.  Jack was 22 in 1969, and always spoke most passionately about his attendance at the Beatles 1965 Shea Stadium concert, Woodstock, the Fillmore and Winterland.  He was a rock music snob, played guitar and prided himself on the breadth of his pop music knowledge.

I looked up from my plate, sipped a glass of wine and said, "Remember The Late Show?"

Jack countered, "Don't really like Letterman and I've got to be on the road way before 11:30."

Actually it was a relief to hear that he would be gone before 11:30.  While I like Jack I can only deal with him in small doses.  He is rather vulgar and opinionated, but always with an amusing story and the need for a dollar.   

"No, I'm talking about the band The Late Show.  Remember them?" I asked.

He reached for a roll, tore it in half, took a bite, responded, "No,"  and continued to chew with gusto.

"Here, let me queue up their release "Portable Pop."   I got up, pulled up the album on the tablet and pressed play.  Jack said nothing and continued to down all of the salad, lasagna and wine within reach.  I came and sat back down at the table.

Portable Pop consists of 16 absolutely stunning 1960's sounding pop songs written and performed by Don Main, Mark Moran, Chris Pyle and Rick Clayton as the band The Late Show.  Here's the thing - The Late Show was formed in 1972 at North Central High School in Indianapolis, but were discovered a year or two later by well-know music producer Jack Douglas.  Portable Pop was their debut album and was recorded in 1979, but was only released on vinyl by Rave Records in 1980.  The band continued to record until 1988 although it never got a major label record deal.

Fortunately, Trashy Creatures Records recently reissued Portable Pop and threw in a number of awesome goodies. The CD features the original twelve-song LP, plus four previously unreleased studio bonus tracks. The cassette reissue is pure sugar; it contains the album and a ten-song live concert from 1980. I also have it on good authority that The Late Show is readying a release of all new material to be issued by Trashy Creatures in 2013.

Jack listened intently, said nothing, but continued to shove food in his mouth and drink all my wine.  As the second track, "Stop" finished I said, "Well, remember this stuff?"

"That second song sounded a little familiar, but not really. The music is great..  Beautiful harmonies and Beatles-esque arrangements.  Keep it on.  Let's hear a few more tracks. " he said as he used a corner of his napkin to pick his teeth, and then he asked, "what's for dessert?"

The album played on and, quite frankly, for the next three quarters of an hour it was the only thing that made the remainder of Jack's visit tolerable. There's my ringing endorsement of The Late Show and the album Portable Pop - makes trying friends tolerable.  Actually this is really beautiful genre stuff that deserved to be reissued. I suggest you find a place for it in your pop music library.

- Old School

Take A Chance -

Just A Matter Of Time -

Hey Sue -


Friday, August 24, 2012



The Cult premiere their new film clip for the track, "Honey From A Knife" on VEVO today. "Honey From A Knife" is the latest single from The Cult's critically acclaimed new album, Choice of Weapon     

Directed by Rick Rodgers and produced by The Cult's Ian Astbury and NYC based film company Mechanizedmules, the "Honey From A Knife" film clip was shot on location in the Washington Heights nieghborhood of Manhattan on a RED Scarlet camera with Super Speed lenses provided by ARRI.   

"Honey From A Knife," rooted in the seductiveness of addiction, was inspired by the following Buddhist precept, and Ian Astbury states that the accompanying film reveals a "desperate descent into a fractured psyche" 
"Wealth and beauty, to a man who will not relinquish them, are like a knife covered with honey which, even before he has had the pleasure of eating the honey, cuts the tongue of the child that licks it".  
The Cult are currently on tour in Canada before continuing on to Europe for dates in the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany. Full tour dates are below.  
8/24/12     EDMONTON         EEC   
8/26/12     CALGARY            COWBOYS   
8/28/12     REGINA              Event Plex at Evraz Place   
8/31/12     TORONTO          Phoenix   
9/01/12     MONTREAL         Métropolis   
9/02/12     Quebec City       GRAND THEATER   
9/10/12     MANCHESTER     APOLLO          
9/11/12     Newcastle         O2 Academy
9/12/12     Sheffield           Academy   
9/14/12     GLASGOW          BARROWLANDS   
9/15/12     BIRMINGHAM      ACADEMY   
9/16/12     LONDON            HAMMERSMITH APOLLO   
9/19/12     Paris                Bataclan   
9/20/12     Amsterdam        Melkweg   
9/21/12     Krefeld              Kulturfabrik

"Chilling hard-rock album filled with punk swagger and metallic power.." - Billboard
"As epic and compelling as nearly anything in The Cult's catalogue." Magnet
'Brilliant!" Q MAGAZINE (UK)
A-     Entertainment Weekly

Helmet - Meantime

Pre-1992, they reportedly blew out CBGB's PA system.

They were allegedly the subject of a 22-label bidding war.

This... was all my teenage self needed to know.

This, I'd gleaned via glossy paper from the (pre-internet) magazine called RIP, specifically from its "buzz" subsection, toward the front, where they'd talk about unsigned bands.

Many, many years and permutations of metal and hardcore later, this is still a great, experimental (Page Hamilton and all his abstract jazz talk payed off) heavy metal album.

It's difficult to nail into any specific sub-category, (industrial maybe, though there are no samples that I recognize)-- and is all the move innovative for that.

Opener "In the Meantime" is probably the best-known Helmet tune (arguably next to track 4, "Unsung"), and solidifies their hardcore/industrial/ metal/ alt-rock riff-based blueprint... "Ironhead" then swoops and lopes and ambles admirably, sounding clichéd now, but being pretty unusual back in 1992... "Give it" is very nearly too optimistic to sound like what would be known as the Crowbar sound... "Unsung" is justifiably memorable pop-sludge... "Turned Out" is an uneven-numbered-time-signatured anthem-at-the-chorus (and an underrated classic)... "Better" is "Unsung" volume II....

Overall, the influence (perhaps just of the Zeitgeist, and not conscious imitation) of the emerging grunge rock from Seattle is palpable, but only in its East coast, hurry-the-fuck-up-Jesus-how-much-time-do-I-have-to-wait-behind-you-GodYouPissMeOff way.

It's also one of very few reverb-less guitar tones (Jake E. Lee being the only other one I can immediately think of), and one with very low gain-- there's massive volume (of the EQ of the guitars versus everything else), but little gain. A very cool and unusual combination that I can't remember being duplicated anywhere else.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Forsaken - Beyond Redemption

How the hell can you go wrong when the first song of your new album starts with the singer belting out motherfuuuuuucker???

You can't! About ten seconds into the opening track, and title track, Beyond Redemption, singer Anders Sjöholm gets in my face screaming motherfuuuuuucker as the band kickstarts the album. And I'm onboard immediately. My inital thoughts are heavy, brutal, fast and unrelentless and that does not change at all throughout the 10 tracks. If a band isn't careful that could ruin the whole effort because boredom and repetitiveness can easily set in. That's not a problem for these Swedish death metal stalwarts though.

Beyond Redemption is their 4th full length release, the first in 9 long years and although I'm not very familiar with their previous albums all those years of inactivity hasn't hurt them at all. They crush everything from the word go and leave a wasteland in their wake. What helps the band in their quest for annihilation is, apart from excellent musicianship, a supercrisp production. Each instrument is perfectly audible as is the vocals and nothing gets drowned in the mix. Regardless what music a band is playing such distinctions are extremely important but even more so for a death metal band, at least to me it is. How does this work out for The Forsaken then? First of all, every beat from the drums smashes my face in and pounds me deep into the ground. Secondly the razor sharp guitars cuts through me like chainsaws backed by a thunderous bass. When the last song Blessed With Wrath is over I'm left mangled like a bloody pulp.

All is not full frontal annihilation and coming at me at 200mph, Only Hell Remains show how diverse The Forsaken are. Don't get me wrong the song is heavy as hell but the band moves perfectly between faster and slower segments and they have woven together these changes perfectly. As soon as I think I have a moment to breathe, they shift gear leaving me gasping for air. And this is how the band conducts Beyond Redemption and I love it!

Stand out tracks are Beyond Redemption not only for the motherfuuuuuucker intro(it helps though) but because The Forsaken show they are back in full force; Only Hell Remains for it's diversity in all it's heaviness; As We Burn because of the apocalyptic visions I see when listening to it; The Light Divine for pulverizing mankind for all its stupidities...brutal indeed!

If you like superheavy death metal look no further, Beyond Redemption is what you need then. The Forsaken are not reinventing the wheel but they sure as hell are great. My doctor advice to you is to play the album to release tension because it will help. Any frustration or anger will wash get a copy and cure yourself. If not, I have my battle axe ready.


Prollhead! - Prall!


It's always exciting getting a package from Germany. I've become friendly with a Mighty High fan in Hamburg who's seen some amazing shows, most notably Scorpions when Michael Schenker rejoined the band in late 1978. So when he sends me something I know it's going to be good. The most recent gift was an original vinyl copy of the debut album from Prollhead!. I had no idea what to expect but the busty lady on the front cover got my attention right away, so off I went to the turntable. The hairy chested dude on the back cover holding an electric razor made me a little uncomfortable, though.

As soon as the needle hit the groove I had to look up the release date. Judging by the sound, I was convinced this was a Dieter Dierks production I'd never heard of. Dieter got his start with Krautrock bands like Tangerine Dream and Nektar but  also produced many classics from Scorpions, Accept and Coup d'État by the Plasmatics. His metal specialty was a very hard, precise crunch in the guitars and that's exactly the sound of this Prollhead! album. My guess was a 1985 or 86 release date, but was shocked to find out it was released in 1994! I guess it was allowed in 1990's Europe but this kind of sound would have been completely rejected by any American record company. The lyrics sung in German didn't help them get a US deal, either.

Anyway, Prall! by Prollhead! reminds me a lot of Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, the band assembled by some members of The Dictators in the late 80's/early 90's. Prollhead! is a bit more metal but has a similar AC/DC influenced heavy rock feel combined with a sense of humor. Album opener "Typen Wie Dich" sounds like Lovedrive era Scorpions tackling "Chinatown" by Thin Lizzy. Non-German speakers will find it entertaining that the chorus sounds like they're screaming "tooth decay." "Sie Hat's Drauf" is pure "Highway To Hell"/"Allright Now" anthemic autobahn boogie. "Hey Punker" borrows heavily from "Hell's Bells." I need someone to translate this one for me but my guess is that's it's making fun of pretentious punkers. Prollhead! put their "Balls To The Wall" on "Hasch Und Rock." Starting off with someone doing a massive bong hit, the slow boil riff is the heaviest on the album.

There are two cover songs on the album must be heard to be believed. On side one there's "Na Und?," an unbelievable version of the filthy "So What?" by the Anti-Nowhere League (later covered by Metallica) and on side two there's "Rauch Auf Dem Wasser." Yes, that means "Smoke On The Water" in German. Hearing lyrics like "Frank Zappa seine Mutter" and "und fewer in der luft" (fire in the sky) are entertaining and educational. "Kleine Lust" is not a Bob Dylan song but starts off with a hilarious Dylan imitation. By strange coincidence, one of Prollhead!'s members has a last name of Zimmermann to add to my foreign language confusion.

I would have to imagine that Tesco Vee of the Meatmen loves this band. Anyone who likes Turbonegro would probably like this, too. Hell, anyone who loves good hard rock and has a sense of humor would. Actually, anyone who doesn't like Prollhead! is just a boring party pooper and deserves an eternity of Wilco bootlegs.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #4

From April 4th to June 4th The Ripple Effect ran a campaign on the excellent online music website ReverbNation (  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.

Gertrude’s Hearse – The song submitted by this five member outfit from Seattle, WA took me by surprise.  First of all, with that band name I expected to hear some dark metal.  Second, and more importantly, this song is a fantastic blend of Americana/alt. country with some early rock and roll trappings for good measure.  A boot scootin’ country song featuring saxophone?  Sign me up please!

ReverbNation Page -
Song Sample - “Yellowing Pages”

Shining Through – Anybody out there like pop punk music?  Yeah, I thought so.  Have you heard of this quartet from Encinitas, CA?  No?  Well you have now.  The music is suitably punchy and energetic, but the real star of the show in my opinion is the intelligent lyrical content.  Honestly, this is some of the most intricate wordplay I’ve come across lately regardless of genre.  Very impressive!

ReverbNation Page -
Song Sample - “San Diego Summer”

Jacob Waters – Attention those of you searching for heartfelt singer/songwriter fare.  This young man from Philadelphia, PA submitted a song that instantly soothed my worldly concerns.  I really like this guy’s voice.  In fact, I’d go so far as to describe it as serene.  This particular song also features the honeyed tones of a perfectly complimentary female background singer.  I suggest you take a look.

ReverbNation Page -
Song Sample - “Inside Your Hands”

Dead Gumbies – After starting up the song submitted by the two gentlemen who make up this band my first thought was that this music reminds me of The Dictators.  I like The Dictators!  As the song progressed it made me think of Alice Cooper.  I like Alice Cooper too!  A couple of their other songs have far less of a punk feel and lean more heavily on the rock end of the equation.  Have a listen.

ReverbNation Page -
Song Sample - “Subliminal Overdose”

Glenn White – Are there any jazz fans in the house?  If you’re a fan of modern jazz saxophone players you might want to check out this gentleman from New York, NY.  His fluid playing impressed me with how easily he seemed to transition from calm soundscapes to more technical passages.  I also find the warm tones he coaxes from the instrument rather appealing.

ReverbNation Page -
Song Sample – “Time In Transit”

Robert Thornton Kent – This gentleman from Oklahoma City, OK plays some mighty fine folk/Americana music.  I really like the way his slightly weathered voice sounds coupled with the acoustic guitar and string instruments.  If you like Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt you should definitely give this music a chance.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample –


Doro - Under My Skin

     2 cds
     30 tracks

      As for me I would tell you that this is still not enough of the great and legendary Doro Pesch! This release will feature some timeless classic cuts like, "All We Are", " I Rule The Ruins", and "Angel in the Dark". Alongside  these gems are some great lyrics from one of the female voices in metal.  I had the personal joy of meeting Doro in New Jersey at a metal fest along with testament and virgin steele. This was at the height of the American grunge movement and the crowd was lackluster at best for all bands.  She was the nicest and fan focused musician I have ever met. It is her dedication to this art of metal that sets her apart. Her lifelong pursuit of metal  integrity and honor is a tribute to her own perseverance.

     Doro answered the call many years ago and still holds that flag high. Each song here does not reflect changing times or attitudes. This is not a sellout hit maker. this is a purist in the finest sense of the word. The musicianship she assembles around her powerhouse vocals is second to none. Her sense of timing and flow in the lyric department is noteworthy. I always enjoyed how she wraps her almost harsh vocals around such delicate melody. Doro is truly an artist. Her canvas is steel and her paint is the color of metal. 

      These songs and some hidden treasures, are a testament to her staying power. When the wall of metal fame is constructed someday, it will be her songs and her spirit that will help keep it standing. This was one of the easiest reviews I have done, simply because I already had most of these songs. In addition to the standout tracks already mentioned I would recommend "Breaking the Law", and "Lonely wolf", as must listens.

     You must have these two cds in your collection not because it seems like it will be good. No, you will buy this collection because it is beyond good. 30 songs on two discs may seem like a lot but it is well worth it. This is a historical metal anthology of a woman who has sacrificed her life to bring you pure hard, and heavy, unassuming, heavy metal.


10 horns on my 10 horns up scale.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fen - Of Losing Interest

Was gonna go a totally different direction with this.

I was going to tell you all about how Fen's mind-blowing music helped shape a small part of my life for the past year or so.  I wanted to explain how their last stunning album, Trails Out Of Gloom, took me straight to the doors of Ripple Music.  How those doors opened up a line of communication with the president of the upstart label, which eventually landed me here at The Ripple Effect.

The point is that my Ripple relationship started with Fen.  If you're not familiar with them, then you definitely need to be.  Progressive and heavy, modern and melodic, with strikingly powerful and passionate vocals akin to Tool and Chevelle, Fen is among my favorite underground bands.  I feel like I owe the Canadian rock group because this past year has been such an enjoyable ride for me.

But this isn't supposed to be about me.  Let's talk Of Losing Interest, the latest breathtaking album due for worldwide release on August 14.

Well...maybe a little about more about me, too.  Don't sigh.

In one word: amazing.  No, not me, silly.  The album.  Amazing is exactly what I said in my buzzing head.  I think it's even more remarkable than Trails Out Of GloomOf Losing Interest seems much more forceful and energetic to me.  Less mellow - even more electric - with tons of timely tempo shifts and smooth transitions which Fen have perfected over their years together.

"It's heavy on guitar and bass and rock riffage in general.  There's a lot of solos too," the band says collectively.

I think that's putting it mildly.

I could tell from the first machine-gun riffage on "Riddled", that Fen entered ultra-heavy mode on this album.  A pleasant surprise.  There are more explosive riffs by Doug Harrison (vocals, guitar) and Sam Levin (guitar) in the first half of the new the album than all of their previous effort, as far as I'm concerned.   Solos?  Yeah, lots of solos throughout.  Sometimes 2 or maybe more in a song.  And there are rumbling spots on the album, such as during the title track, when all you hear are the heavy bass lines by Jeff Caron.  The drumming from Nando Polesel is f-in phenomenal.  And they didn't even mention the vocals.  Harrison hits notes on this record that I don't think he tried on the first Ripple release.

It was exactly 4 minutes into "A Long Line" when IT happened.  You know.  I'd already been rocking the hell out when, amidst a stomping beat and upper-body-convulsing riffage, Fen take it to another level.  Yet another solo kicks off and I start to feel every hair on my arms start rising.  The feeling works its way up my arms to my neck.   It's the chills people.  After 40 seconds of ripping solos, the song ends suddenly and I'm literally breathless.  It's like a shot of pure adrenaline straight into the veins.  Wanna know the best part?  I get that feeling every time I listen.

"Light Up The End", affects me much differently, like an emotional roller coaster.  I suppose it's the lyrics - presented along with light acoustic guitars in the beginning - that make me reflect on my own past and look forward to what future I may or may not have left.  It also leaves me asking a few questions.  Why does music do this to me?  Am I the only one who gets such strong feelings?  I know I'm a freak, but surely I can't be the only one who gets so overwhelmed.  At least, I hope not.

Sure, I could describe each song and tell you how I feel, talk about all the interesting lyrics, and go on about how much I enjoy the new album but I think you get the hint.  I don't think I can do it justice with my middle-school writing skills anyway.

Something I don't like?  The title.  I don't want anyone to lose interest at all - I want the opposite.  A lot more people need to know about the tunes by this band.

I think Fen are the gigantic waves at Ripple Music.  If there's one group on the label who I'd love to see sweep across the globe - and who I think has the talent to do that - it's this one.  I might get some flack for saying it out loud, yet I don't care.  I'll grin and take it.  I owe those four guys for the great time I've had so far at The Ripple Effect.

Maybe Of Losing Interest could touch your life in some way.  You can get the cd today, before it hits the shelves, straight from the Ripple Store.


Monday, August 20, 2012

A Phantom Pack Of Black Hounds – APPOBH

Something strange happened to the Pope on the way to  . . . well, wherever the hell it was he was going. Really not sure if this story is as strange as Pope typing in third person, but work with me here . . . it’s been awhile since I’ve written about a piece of music.

So, here it is . . . a metal band out of Finland that’s combining the death ‘n’ roll, grooved out fuzz of a band like Transport League mixed with the detuned and distorted tones of Bloodbath, but playing it with a hardcore punk attitude. It’s blackened metal, but not black metal. It’s deathly metal, but not death metal. It’s kinda’ sludge-y, kinda doom-y, but much more up tempo and violent. Extreme metal, for sure. And, quite possibly the most interesting blend of metal that I’ve heard in a long, long time.

A Phantom Pack of Black Hounds (yeah, it’s a mouthful) have no official physical release, but they have a bandcamp page that y’all can go to and support the boys. Four songs are available for name-your-price download, so do them a solid and give ‘em a buck or two when you download the material . . . they’re working to get an official album out and need all the help that they can get. I’ve already requested the release be on vinyl. Hey . . . I have my needs!

Anyway, to the music . . . as I mentioned, there are four songs available, all of which are awesome! “Give It A Push” has that Sarke meets Transport League meets Bloodbath grooving onslaught going on. I love the way these guys change tempos and add interesting guitar licks in the middle of the chaos. A little gang vocals add to the intensity of this tune, and the lead vocals actually make my swollen tonsils feel good . . . I mean, that’s some blood curdling shit! And the guitar solo! Holy style and class, Batman! The whole band works in perfect unison on this one . . . keeping things generally simple, but adding incredible points of interest to give a three and a half minute song monster dynamics.

All four songs on the bandcamp page have the aforementioned vibe going on . . . in every track, there’s something unique and ear catching going on. “Living Token” has a brief Slayer-esque moment before the guitars soar to the heavens and the vocals take on a volatile hardcore slant. Speaking of vocals . . . this dude can belt it out like a veteran. To the point, the vocals start taking on a life of their own, becoming part of the sonic background while the instruments are cutting ears to shreds.

“Flesh Revolt” is a headbanging, horn waving festival of debauchery. Great musicianship, fucking awesome guitar licks and breakdowns . . . possibly my favorite tune so far, this tune is one of the more dynamic tracks. Bile spitting vocals, chugging guitar riffs, roiling and toiling rhythms, “Flesh Revolt” blows my mind. Watch out as we get towards the end of the tune and the boys drop from 5th gear to 2nd, sludging and trudging our way through a land of devastation. Love it!

Finally, “Drewerstone” is a senses shattering, haunting creeper of a tune that’s no less rocking than the rest of the representatives of this download. Gothic-like in its darkness, a little reminiscent of Enslaved’s Isa before it explodes into a furious fight between two rabid wolverines. Chunks of fur and flesh flying through the air amidst a spray of crimson . . . fuck it . . . A Phantom Pack of Black Hounds. These guys are awesome and I’m hoping some of these great underground labels take a chance on ‘em. As I mentioned, I’m in on the vinyl release!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Miasm - The Dark Roads

Sometimes, music manages to go beyond being just sounds. It paints a picture in the listener’s mind, connecting them to the artist and sharing with them all of the emotions and energy that it was written to convey. It’s not often that an artist can manage such a feat, and normally, it takes a full album to get the entire experience. But The Dark Roads, a work in progress album from one-man musical project Miasm, manages just that, and absolutely oozes with atmosphere from start to finish. 

At the exact time of writing this review, Miasm only has 36 likes on Facebook. Given that Jeremiah Savage is offering the (currently) 6 track album for free to those who like the project’s Facebook page, I feel there should be AT LEAST 2 extra digits on that number. Every single track has so much character, it’s damn hard to believe this is all the work of just one man. And what’s more, the album isn’t even finished yet, being continually updated as each new song is written, and still all for free. It’s admirable, to say the very least.
“Origin Of Nothing” starts the whole affair off as it means to go on – namely, with sorrow-drenched guitars dancing elegantly together, with moody, menacing undertones. In fact, sorrow drenched in menace is about the best way to describe the general Miasma sound, although it doesn’t really do it justice - it’s hard to find one particular word to summarise the experience adequately. The vocals are a key factor in the atmosphere, and there’s something very shoegazey about Savage’s delivery of them on the opener in particular. His own lamentations bleed effortlessly in with those of the guitars, keeping the melancholic tone steady throughout. The piano near the end is particularly ear-catching, and manages to send shivers down my spine every time, without fail.

While the opening notes of “Cradle Void” lead you to believe it will be an equally downbeat affair, it actually takes on a slightly more optimistic tone. This time, the bass and drums take on a more central role, both moving slowly yet carefully, like vultures circling a wounded animal, waiting for it to draw its final breath. Vocals again play a key part in setting the mood, and again have an almost post-shoegaze feel to them, the plentiful reverb adding layers of atmosphere on top of the already moody sounds beneath them.

“Face On The Water” opens with simultaneously the most morose and catchy (yes, you read that right, catchy) guitar work on the whole album. Of course, just because you may find yourself humming the intro does not at all mean it’s the kind of thing you’d expect to break into the charts any time soon. The sparsely used piano on here is one of my favourite things about the entire album. Vocals are at their most audible so far, this time letting the atmospheric guitar work set the pace. Even the drums at the end seem to have layers of emotion within them. And I for one would love to knowhow Savage managed to convey such emotion with nothing more than a floor tom!

Probably the closest thing to single material on here is “Elysium”. Acoustic guitar and piano mingle perfectly under Savage’s nearly whispered vocals, while synth and electric guitars add lashings of ambience underneath. “Elysium” is probably best described on the whole as being bipolar. It switches from absolute despair to rising optimism and back again throughout, never once letting any one emotion truly overpower the other. As cheesy as this may sound, this song reminds me of a constant struggle between light and dark, where neither can ever really win (sorry to sound like such an angsty teen).


A Sunday Conversation with Mike Southworth

In a few weeks, Ripple Music artists, Fen, will be releasing their fifth full-length album and eagerly awaited follow up to Trails Out Of Gloom. With Of Losing Interest in the can and buckling our building supports with its sheer volume, we wanted to get to the root of how this disc came to be so awesome . . . so, we went to Fen co-producer, Mike Southworth, for the low down on how he gets sounds from the artists heads into our ears.

Mike, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions!

What’s the history on Mike Southworth? How long have you been in the production game?

I’ve been producing albums as my main job for about 10 years. I feel really lucky to be able to make a living doing something that I love. I went to a music school in Nelson, Canada called Selkirk College in the late 90s and then moved to Vancouver and started producing and playing full time. A couple of years after moving here, I started Creativ Recording Studios. It was a small-ish studio with basic gear but I did a ton of albums there. We’ve now expanded to a 3000sqft facility with two control rooms, a big live room and tons of great gear and instruments.

How did you acquire an ear for capturing sound to tape? Is it something that you’re taught or more of a raw talent, like a musician, who is continually crafting their art?

Like playing an instrument, recording is a never-ending learning experience. Styles and equipment are always changing so you have to keep learning if you want to stay current. I think I’ve always had a good visualisation of what I want from my recordings but over time,  I’ve gotten better at actually knowing how to get there.

Digital or analog recording, which do you prefer? What’s your pro’s and con’s for either format?

Since most of my engineering experience has been post 2000s, I never really got to use tape much. There’s a few people that still use it, and it does impart cool tonal qualities to a recording, but for my workflow I’m way more comfortable in the digital realm. Plus, the scarcity and costs of using tape makes it prohibitive on most projects. Digital plugins have come so far in the past 10 years. At the rate they are improving, I don’t think it’ll be long before digital plugins makeup the majority of the signal processing chain.

When you work with an artist, how much input do you have? I’m sure it depends greatly on if the band comes into the studio with a set idea of what they want, but do you ever try to influence an artist’s direction?

It really depends on the artist or the project. Some albums I co-write, produce and play most of the instruments on - others, like FEN’s, it’s more of an engineering/co-producing gig. The guys in FEN always have a very specific idea of where they are going with each song which usually is a good thing. I just help them get there and do a bit of steering along the way. ;)

Fen’s Of Losing Interest is a full sounding, thick and multi-layered album, and being that it’s your fourth album with the band, what did you do different on this one? What did you learn from recording this album?

Since it’s FEN, there’s still lots of thickness and layering, but we really made an effort to strip it down in comparison to their previous albums. I really used the live room and it’s tall ceilings to make all the instruments blend together. We wanted the album to sound like a hyper-realistic version of being at a FEN live show so I made liberal use of room mics and tracked less overdubs than on the previous albums. FEN’s previous album, ‘Trails Out Of Gloom’, was very overdub heavy and more acoustic based. ‘Of Losing Interest’ is back to more of a classic FEN sound with Nando and Jeff on drums and bass.

How many artists do you typically work with in a given year? Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve had the pleasure of working with?

I usually work with about 15-20 artists per year in a wide variety of styles. For example, in addition to the new FEN album, I’m just finishing a lullabye album with my wife Hilary Grist, a roots album for Karly Mundy, an R&B/Pop album for Dawn Pemberton & BJ Block and an album with singer-songwriter Ailsa Rose. Some of my proudest productions are Warren Dean Flandez’s ‘Vintage Love’ - Nominated for a 2012 WCMA, Hilary Grist’s ‘Imaginings’ and of course all of the FEN albums! ;)

As a producer, who has influenced you the most? Are there certain producers that you would like to collaborate with?

I’m a huge fan of Jon Brion’s production and playing, he’d be fun to work with. I also love Justin Vernon (Bon Iver)’s work. Then there’s the classics like Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. It would be really intimidating working with those guys though!

Thanks again for taking the time to field these questions!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Josh Gilligan - Flesh and Blood

This artist's name made me chuckle.  Josh Gilligan, the last name I immediately associated with comedian Bob Denver's character in his 1960's "island-based" situation comedy; the first name I saw as “jive, put-on or joking around”.  Yet, after I listened to his debut release Flesh and Blood I can tell you Josh Gilligan is no joke.  He is an up and coming contemporary folk/alternative artist.

There is depth to Gilligan's lyrics.  There is beauty in his voice - it is smooth silk, mature beyond Gilligan's 21 years.  His arrangements are well-rounded and the orchestration is superb.  If there is any problem with this effort it is in the way the instruments were recorded.  Some of the sound is so unprocessed and clean that it actually detracts from an otherwise fantastic track.  This is particularly evident on "Take Your Love" and "Stowaway," both beautiful melancholy love songs. Unfortunately the microphone picks up the screech of guitar strings on every change to a new chord position.  However, that does not totally detract from what Josh Gilligan has accomplished with Flesh and Blood.

Gilligan offers a complete kaleidoscope of sound and texture on this eight track effort.  The final cut, "Beaten Path"; is a stark balladeer-like guitar song. "Open Eyes" is full of driving harmonies. “Fear” is a building, drumbeat folk rock anthem.  "Let Go," provides a syncopated, composition with echoes of Al Stewart in the voice and arrangement;  and the effort's namesake, "Flesh and Blood," is  an unusual orchestrated sorrowful country rock ballad.

What made Paul Simon a superstar was not just his performance.  There are plenty of  great performers.  It was his ability to write beautiful, inspiring songs and deliver them with meaning in his (and Art Garfunkel's) voice.  It was a sound that helped shape a generation.  Flesh and Blood shows that that Josh Gilligan has many of the same ingredients found in early Paul Simon - great writing, a beautiful voice, and a broadly accessible and attractive presentation.

Yet. I can't shake a vision of Mary Ann, Ginger and Lovey swooning as Bob Denver in his red shirt, white pants and sailor hat sings and plays an acoustic guitar accompanied by the Skipper on lead guitar, Thurston Howell, III on bass guitar, and the Professor on drums.  Good job little buddy!

-  Old School




Friday, August 17, 2012

Henryk Gorecki - Symphony No. 3

Hey! You!

Are you a stoner?

Do you truly and uniquely appreciate a "dank nug?" Do you love a pre-blaze snack? Are mangoes your favorite fruit? Is the "trees" sub-Reddit your home page?

Sure they are.

Do you love the stoner rock, or the stoner metal, as the kids say?

Sure you love it.

Now. Stay with me here--

Have you ever wished your chemical (and your musical genre) of choice has musical versions in ALL other genres?

Why, of course you have!

Hi there. I'm reviewer Horn McClure, star of such reviews as Blood on the Blackened Highway and The Lonesome Death of Larry Metalhead, and I'm here today to improv my way --though this hilariously, and don't you forget it, mister...!

--though your musical tastes...

...and my wallet!

Oh, stop me! I'm outta control. Outta control...!

So. Anyway.

I've got a question for you, you stoner bastard. Seriously, maybe take a shower or something. Jesus, find a stream-- water's free. Anyhoo--

Have you ever wished there was a stoner/ psychedelic version of classical ("European art") music? (Since everyone knows Wagner is the doom metal version, I mean.)

Why, of course you have!

So have I....

Got a deal...

For YOU!

Check you out one Poland's Henryk Górecki, and his Symphony No. 3, also known as the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs," first released in 1976.

Been listening to this since 1994 (I read about it in Details magazine, you see). Back before the internet. And all that.

There's no consensus on what, if anything, the work is a response to....

Don't let the title or cover put you off-- though there is a distinct elegiac quality to these tunes (three movements to be precise, Opeth-y, huh?), they are distinctly harbingers of a burgeoning beauty, a very shy and reluctant hope, one rearing its head after a tragedy... like the shallow breaths, those barely able to register in the garden of one's senses, of one Thought Dead...

Part I, Lento—Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile, takes a good six minutes to even be completely audible, very gradually swelling and churning and rising... instrumental for nearly 13 minutes, little or no percussion and a floating tempo, nearly rubato in spots... as a single female voice voice, with just a piano under it, enters...

...and the music morphs like mercury on...



Here's my suggestion:

Put whatever playback method you have on its maximum levels (I say this in complete, non-ironic seriousness):

most of the time, this bad boy will be  just below conversational levels;


every now and then,

sometimes building, sometimes out of fucking nowhere--

he'll BLAST you at jet engine volume;

at yet, even in retrospect, this True Musical Dynamism doesn't seem forced, or even intentional-- just stylishly minimalist and appropriate. The appropriate note at the appropriate time-- a delicate and discreet, yet passionate, understanding of acoustics, and by extension, life.

Anyway, what I'm saying is, put your bubbler down for two Goddamn seconds and check it out.


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