Sunday, September 30, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #12: Featuring Wooster, Pete Special, Maquina Mono (The Monkey Machine), Red Emery, Junior Toots, and Squeaker

 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.

Wooster – All right, all right.  This five piece band from Santa Cruz, CA caught my ear thanks to their slow simmering song submission.  The vocals are heavily influenced by reggae, and they sound perfect against this musical backdrop.  Another song I listened to is quite a bit faster and reminds me of a track by Maroon 5.  Similar artists include The Black Keys, Foster The People, and Mason Jennings.  If you’re looking for something mixing rock, reggae, funk, and blues this is your band.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – Live In Sebastopol

Pete Special – Okay waveriders.  When I read that someone played with Levon Helm and “The Band” you have my attention.  This gentleman and his two musical cohorts out of Chicago, IL play some mean blues with prominent strains of classic R&B and Southern soul.  The first comparisons that jumped to mind vocally were Dr. John and Michael McDonald.  Very impressive!

Song Sample – “Mississippi”


Maquina Mono (The Monkey Machine) – Blasting out of New York, NY comes this seven member Latin rock group.  Their song submission is bursting with signature Latin rhythms, an active horn section, and exceedingly catchy vocals sung in Spanish.  “Music to listen to & dance all night” they say in their bio.  I couldn’t agree more.  Similar artists include Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Mana.

Song Sample – “Dejame”

Red Emery – Question.  Who’s in the mood for a dirty, sleazy, down-tempo Portishead/Garbage sounding song?  Me too!  I listened to the incredibly refreshing submission sent in by this five member band out of Montreal, Canada multiple times.  Ultra groovy music, and the female vocals are downright sinful.  If you have any liking for trip hop and groups like Massive Attack this band is for you.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “Kept In A Cage (Sample)” 

Junior Toots – I’ve said it before waveriders.  Reggae is not a genre of music I can be considered knowledgeable about.  I do know what I like however.  Junior Toots, the son of Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals, fronts this five piece band out of Berkeley, CA that takes the sonic blueprint of reggae and adds some ska, roots rock, and dancehall elements to the mix.  It sounds fantastic!  Hear for yourselves!

Song Sample – “Puss & Dog” 

Squeaker – Man, if this is what all pop rock sounds like in Adelaide, Australia then I need to hear more!  Considering what I’m used to this song submission would fall squarely into the heavy alternative rock category.  This female vocalist sounds superb, and I really like the electronic/industrial elements throughout the song.  Reminds me of Nine Inch Nails.  Along with NIN other similar artists listed on their bio page are Garbage, Pat Benetar, and Evanescence.  Click on the link waveriders.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “You’re A Star” 


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Black Pistol Fire - Big Beat '59

Let me shoot from the hip on this one. 

It only took one play to know this Canadian duo, by way of Austin, Texas, is something special. Blues-based with a classic garage rock feel and a tinge of country, guitarist and lead vocalist Kevin McKeown teams with drummer Eric Owens to provide down and dirty slide guitar and cymbal infested raunch 'n roll.

Their debut album, Big Beat '59, came about because Producer Jim Diamond heard them live and saw their potential.  He was absolutely right.  Diamond has produced The White Stripes,  The Von Bondies and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.  He happened on Black Pistol Fire at a venue in Austin.  The result is a full length CD, an onslaught of eleven glorious band written tracks of frolicking distorted guitar, edgy processed vocals,  and drumming excess.

The first track, "Beezlebub",  is a Muddy Waters-ish blues rocker that is followed by "Stripes or Keys", a much heavier rock tune (somewhere between Deep Purple's "Strange Kind Of Woman" and Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks").  Then comes a bouncing slide guitar bonanza of harmonics and drums with "Crows Feet", a song that turns down and dirty before it becomes up and frantic.  The tune "Busted & Blue" is an absolute rocker.  Cymbals explode, guitars echo, repeat, slide and rumble.  It is electric swamp blues at its finest.

Black Pistol Fire 's idea of a slow down is the more country-tinged rock ballad "Hot Mess".  Yet it resonates or, should I say, McKeown's resonator resonates.  From "Hot Mess" the duo moves on to explore hard classic blues rock with "Drop The Needle" a driving ear burner of the highest caliber.  The song "Young Blood" is a lilting early rock-influenced ballad and, for me, the least enjoyable track on the album but YMMV.  The two more than make up for it with "Bombs & Bruises", the most radio ready alternative rock offering that McKeown and Owens provide on Big Beat '59.  It slips from alternative to country to rock to country to pop - it's the ultimate non-cross-over cross-over tune. 

When McKeown starts "Lay Low" you know you are in store for a ride.  He yells, implores and pounds out heavy riff after heavy riff as he cautions "You better lay low."  The trip doesn't stop with "Lay Low". The heavy, heavy blues rocker "Slow Burn" continues you on this sonic journey.  The album comes to an abrupt end as Owens’ syncopation skills get a work out on "Dead Love",  a song on which McKeown resorts to an acoustic guitar.  This final track comes off as an extraordinary Page and Bonham-esque modern sharp-edged "Misty Mountain Hop."   

Just like Black Pistol Fire, this album is smokin'.   You should definitely give it a shot.

- Old School

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Heavy Eyes - S/T EP

An onslaught is coming.  It rides a wave of massive, blood-hungry fuzz and a rhythm section that is dead set on force-feeding that bass and drums right down your gullet.  The Heavy Eyes ride an oceanic wave of distorted guitars through a current smack dab between chunky garage pop and thick stoner mania. 

Sure, there are lots of bands like this out there, but the Heavy Eyes do it all just a bit better than most.  For me, I don't care how heavy the riff or massive the fuzz, what keeps a good song together always comes down to melody and groove.  The Heavy Eyes, got both, in spades.  "Yoytek" brings on the groove right off the bat, that massive wall of fuzz locking right onto the late-60's garage groove tighter than a pitbull with lockjaw.  Timely breaks for vocal hooks, and a sultry, porntastic vibe make this song a feast for my ears. 

"5%" comes on all mutated, psychedelic distorto-guitars and crash, before losing itself in a miasma of swirling smoke and strobe lights.  Mid-tempo, we're truly lost in stoner heavy here.  I can see the lava lamps and smell the acrid smoke as things get dirty on a beanbag.  Lusty and wet.  This is as much sex as I've felt in a heavy psych in a long time.  "Pinwheels" ups the pace and the rock, with dual guitars of fuzz cutting the way for that drum sound to beat me senseless.  Still, a 60's garage vibe rules underneath the assault.  These guys just know how to write a song, that's all.  "In Need" wraps it up by sinking into a scummy sinkhole of doom-laden heaviness and blackness, from which I may never escape.  Dig the near freeform jamming that kicks this off and just pray it's available on vinyl.

Quality stuff all the way around.

And it's a free download.  Check it.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ripple Library: Dee Snider - Shut Up and Give Me the Mic

Since record sales have been in the toilet for years now, more and more rock musicians are publishing memoirs. It makes sense. Their audience doesn't want to hear any new material from them and the musicians don't have to share any royalties with their bandmates. A lot of them are obviously ghost written and are often full of questionable details. In his forward to his autobiography Shut Up and Give Me the Mic, Dee Snider goes out of his way to let everyone know he wrote this book himself and that he was sober enough to remember it all. As he points out, junkie rock stars don't keep journals - "Have you ever known a junkie? They can't remember what they did thirty minutes ago, let alone thirty years ago." And "Real heroin addicts can't hold their own dicks; forget about a pen or pencil." One of the things I've always liked about Dee is that he's not afraid to say what he's thinking.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Dee's book. Most people know about Twisted Sister's huge popularity from their huge Stay Hungry album, but I'm a hardcore old-time SMF lover of the Under The Blade era. I figured that part of the story would get glossed over to get to the glory years. I was totally wrong. The first half of this 400 page book is a headbanger's delight. You get to learn all about Dee's childhood of dealing with being the oldest of six kids fighting for attention and battling with his angry father. It's no wonder that he was attracted to the original heavy bands. Dee refers to himself as an "original headbanger" and he certainly is. He bought the debut albums from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad as new releases. One of his high school bands only played Sabbath songs. The guy knows and loves his heavy metal. Something I never knew was that Dee was in a few bands with Don Mannello, who would later change his name to Don Fury and become a producer/engineer of Agnostic Front and many other hardcore bands.

There are so many great stories of the early days of Twisted Sister when they were a New York Dolls influenced glam rock band covering David Bowie, Mott The Hoople and Lou Reed in the bars of New Jersey, upstate New York and outer boroughs of New York City. A cover band like Twisted Sister never played cool clubs like CBGB or Max's Kansas City, but to underage drinkers in the suburbs. Eventually Dee starts to move the band in a heavier direction influenced by AC/DC, Judas Priest and Motorhead. This is when the band's real identity started to come together. Dee's wife Suzette started to dress the band in her homemade costumes. By the late 1970's Twisted Sister were a huge band on the local club scene but desperate for a record deal and international rock stardom. Rejected multiple times by every record label, the band continue to slog it out 4 or 5 nights a week in the clubs blasting out 3 sets a night. One of my favorite things in the book is when Dee talks about a club in Portchester, NY called Detroit. I always heard it referred to as "Detroits" and Dee gives an important NYC grammar lesson - "Hey, youse goin' tuh Detroits tuh see Twisted?"

Easily my favorite part of the book are the chapters on the years 1980 to 83, the peak era for metal freaks like me. Going to the UK to blow minds playing huge festivals with Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Michael Schenker Group will make you want to build a time machine. During this time Dee was writing all the rowdy headbanger anthems on the classic Under The Blade and You Can't Stop Rock N Roll albums. This was such a great time for metal. Things were getting heavier and faster all the time creating a new audience. Twisted Sister live was just as heavy as anything else out there but they also helped do cultivate a look that would become known as "hair metal." None of those other bands ever had the pedigree that Twisted Sister had. While all this is going on, Dee's completely sober, married and having kids. Not much in common with Vince Neil, here.

When the band finally does achieve massive success in 1984 with Stay Hungry, Dee goes into extreme detail about how they blew it in the following years. Over-exposure, musical mis-steps and massive financial mistakes. When it all ends with the abomination of the Love Is For Suckers album everyone in the band hates each other. Dee's attempts at a solo career are also failures and he digs himself so deep into debt that he's reduced to working for his brother at $5 an hour. The stories of his lean years should be required reading for any musician or actor who never thinks the bottom is going to drop out. Through it all, he manages to keep his family together and eventually switched gears into radio, acting and voiceover. I cringe a little whenever I see Dee on television but his great sense of humor usually wins me over. I cringed a lot when I heard he was putting out an album of show tunes, but luckily I have not had to hear any of it and don't plan on doing so. All I know is that this is a great rock book. You don't have to be a Twisted Sister fan to enjoy it. It's well written and very entertaining. Read it loud, mutha!


Buy from Amazon

Alunah - White Hoarhound

psycheDOOMelic has a gem on their hands here and they are doing the world a huge favour by releasing Alunah's second full-length album White Hoarhound. This quartet from the Midlands, England has a lot of weight on their shoulders playing doom and hailing from the same area that spawned the forefathers of doom, Black Sabbath.To my ears though they have no worries about this at all, instead they conjur some deft and highly original and magic-inducing heaviness. Already at the first note I am hooked and completely captivated.

Every time I listen to White Hoarhound a line from Masters Of Reality's song High Noon Amsterdam keeps popping up..Stuck my nose in a rose in a hole and it felt like a dream. For me that sentence is the essence of Alunah. Their music is lead-heavy, trippy, slow and riff-ladden and also very evocative, so all these ingredients are why the words of Masters Of Reality epitomizes what Alunah are and play. So light it up, toke, stick your nose in the hole and let Alunah take you on a headfuck of a space trip of unsurpassed magnitudes!

The music is of course a key factor in creating Alunah's spaced-out heaviness but let's not forget Soph Day. The vocalist/ guitarist's voice is so beautiful and entrancing that it elevates the band to dimensions beyond the sun. While she on the one hand sounds very delicate and almost frail, on the other hand she has immense power and this combination is absolutely fantastic. Her singing backed by the excellent band makes Alunah and White Hoarhound just about other-worldy.

Gaz Imber and Jake Mason are laying down the law on bass guitar and drums respectively. Whether the music is heavy or a bit softer, they keep it together perfectly allowing Dave Day and Soph to space-out, jam and riff without any restraints. And that's an awesome trait which unshackles their music. In all it's heaviness there is a beautiful flow thanks to Alunah's unrestrained musicality.

Another important ingredient for the band is their pagan leanings and their love for Mother Nature. The first song, Demeter's Grief, is a good example of this. However Mother Nature is a constant presence in whatever Alunah do. And the combination of the heavy music, Soph's awesome etheral yet powerful voice and the pagan/nature themes in their songs are what makes Alunah so great!

Surprises are nice when they bring something good. I consider myself a doomhead but I still hadn't really heard of Alunah until I was asked to check them out for a possible review. And what a surprise White Hoarhound is. Each listen gives a new nuance adding more to the band's greatness each time.
If you like excellent epic music White Hoarhound is a must. If you simply like great music period you're a fool if you don't add this album to your collection. Get a copy, listen and get mesmerized and then spread the gospel of Alunah to everyone you know!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #13: Featuring LB Collective, Sue Quigley, Faire D'Ophelia, Unsound, Blak Lyons, and Parlor Kids

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.

LB Collective – What’s this?  A pop rock duo from Atlanta, GA that’s what!  Their song submission made a big impression on me thanks to its unique lyrical content.  Seriously, I can’t come up with one other song dedicated to the disillusionment people feel concerning the declassification of Pluto as a planet.  Brilliant I say!  It also helps that I find Laura Benjamin’s voice fairly enchanting.  Similar artists include Sarah Bareilles and Joni Mitchell.

Sue Quigley – Now this waveriders is one talented singer songwriter.  She calls Seattle, WA home and her song submission really wowed me.  It rocked!  I dug everything from the earnest, honesty-exuding vocal performance to the grungy electric guitar work anchoring the song’s verses.  Another song I sampled sounded quite a bit sunnier but still maintained a rock edge.  Very nice!  Similar artists include Brandi Carlisle, Matt Kearney, and Cat Power.

Faire D’Ophelia – This one’s for all those folks out there yearning to hear some medieval Celtic music performed with a classic rock feel.  Of course this trio is from Australia.  Adelaide to be exact.  I found their submission to be rather powerful for a vocal/acoustic guitar driven affair.  Wonderful vocal performance!  Similar artists include Fleetwood Mac (unplucked), Celtic Women, and Blackmore’s Night.  Take a listen.

Song Sample – “Maiden Of The Night”


Unsound – Ah yes, metal.  Sweet, sweet metal.  This five piece band from Raleigh, NC comes out of the gate swinging for the fences.  Their song submission begins with some crunchy guitar riffing and proceeds to mash the accelerator pedal.  The vocals are mostly clean and melodic, but during the choruses a screamer is added and the pair sounds great.  If you are a fan of modern melodic metal give these guys a shot.

Song Sample – “Prodigy”  


Blak Lyons – Straight out of Buenos Aires, AR comes this alternative/indie rock quartet whose song submission completely caught my ear.  Said submission has a strong 1970s blues vibe at its core.  As the song progresses I’m able to hear a little post grunge influence creep into the mix as well.  Totally groovy stuff!  Two of their other songs sounded great too!  Similar artists include Kings Of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, and The Killers. 

Song Sample – “Pursuit”  

Parlor Kids – Goodness gracious does this young man’s song submission groove!  This Austin, TX based artist has a bio that labels his work rock/psychedelic.  Well whatever he chooses to call it the music harkens back to vintage rock and roll of yesteryear, and it sounds fantastic!  Simply undeniable groove.  Follow the link waveriders, but don’t blame me when listening to one song is not enough.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Samothrace – Reverence To Stone

The Riff is our master.  The Riff will guide and protect us.  All will be well if we but follow the Riff and allow its goodness to wash over us.  We must give ourselves over to the Riff, and life will be full, meaningful, and a blessing to our souls.

If you believe in the Riff, then you must hear this album, NOW.  I am biased, I love this band and I know one of the guys in the band.  I have waited 4 years since their debut release, “Life’s Trade”, came out to hear what new levels of incredible music these folks would put out.  And this doesn’t disappoint.

Samothrace give us 2 tracks that clock in around 35 minutes total on this new release.  They are slow and sludgy, and I’m pretty sure glaciers move faster than some of this.  But the key to me, the impressive part, is that this music is not dense.  It is full of intricacy, and there is always something very interesting going on if you just open your ears a little bit.  And all is not sludge here.  The songs do change tempo, but not in any jarring ways.  Everything done here seems to all belong exactly as it should.

I have often said that the music I love the most is music that moves me, and this album does that.  It might be hard to understand how music that moves so slowly can move me, but it does.  It actually does my favorite thing, it gets me to close my eyes and do the slow head bob.  It is music that you can feel and that makes you feel.  This is a band whose members have gone through some shit in the past few years, and you can feel that in the music.  You can do to the depths and stare into the abyss and know what that feels like.  And thankfully, you know what it feels like to come out the other side of that as well.  All is not doom, all is not despair.  There are passages here that sound downright joyful too.

The songs are well crafted, and if you think about it, you gotta know what you are doing to put a 20 plus minute song together.  It is easy to lose your way and to lose the purpose and the point of a track that long, but these guys nail it.  Again, it might seem strange to say that something slow and plodding can also be done with a certain precision, but here is your proof right here.  Just get to about the 8 minute mark of “A Horse Of Our Own” and you’ll have a great idea of what I am trying to say in this review.  It moves, if feels, it is precise and intricate and it fucking slays.  All of this at probably no more than 60 bpm.  This is the real deal, and another one of those albums that I am better for listening to.


Monday, September 24, 2012

A Ripple Roadtrip - The Way Back - Featuring Joey Ramone, the Bombay Royale, Corsair, White Light Cemetery, Jazzanova, and The Orb featurng Lee Scratch Perry

Not quite 30 hours after arrival - time spent taking Ripple inventory, eating burritos, doughnuts, and watching way too much bad sci-fi with my recuperating Ripple partner, the Pope -- and I found my self back on the road.  Early Sunday morning, up before the sun, desperately aiming to get through the quagmire of LA before . . .whatever.  LA just sucks.  Let me get through there as fast as possible. 

Which I did.  Man, I set a land speed record.  San Diego to downtown LA in 1 hour 15 minutes.  To the downside of the Grapevine in 2 1/2 hours and all the way home to SF Area in 6 1/2 hours.  Flying!

Not a lot of time for music, but the player was always going.  Here's what played.

Joey Ramone  - Ya Know?

Ok. We all know Joey Ramone.  A posthumous collection of songs can often be a dicey affair.  Were these quality songs left behind by a legend or crap demos rushed out by greedy record execs to capitalize on his still surging fame?   Fortunately, and undeniably, the former.  When Joey Ramone died from lymphoma in April of 2001 he left behind a cache of songs in various states of completion and fidelity. Some of them appeared on Don’t Worry About Me, released in early 2002.  Now a decade later comes another batch of Joey classics.   One cool thing is that the music itself was re-recorded by a handful of Ramone’s friends and collaborators over the years, including Joan Jett, the E Street Band’s Stevie Van Zandt and Plasmatics guitarist Richie Stotts.  Sure, they're a bit more produced than we'd expect from a Ramones release, but the quality of the songs deserves it and never do they suffocate under the production.

Instead, what we got are some slightly poppier than expected, but still full-on Ramones-esque cuts like, "Rock 'n Roll is the Answer, and "Going Nowhere Fast."  Joey's voice is perfect throughout.  That same voice we've known all these years, sounding strangely liberated, having fun, and more soulful at times than I'd expect.  All in all, songs that do the legacy of Joey proud and make us realize just how much we miss him.

The Bombay Royale - You Me Bullets Love 

As the Pacific Ocean began to fade away to my left side, and the sprawl of Orange County took over, Joey Ramone popped out of the player and this . . . this . . .  well, this way cool disc popped in.  The band name and album title kinda say it all.  Imagine if Peter Gunn took a rocketship to Bombay in the mid-60's.  James Bond in New Dehli.  Freaky cool spy-theme instrumentals mixed with Bollywood psychedelic cinemascopic dreams.   Trumpets, trombone, keys, sitars . . .it's all here.  Some violin, some almost flamenco sounding horn.  Even a beach guitar vibe.  It's just crazy cool.  A lost 60's spy-flick soundtrack in search of the perfect love-in groove-fest movie.  Put this on as the party starts and watch the eyebrows raise, the hips shake, and the lava lamps flow.  Groovy.

Corsair - S/T

Another band I know well making the perfect accompanyment to my drive as I blow through LA.  And in case you can't tell by now -- I just can't blow through LA fast enough.  It was a while back that Marie Landragin dropped their debut EP into my lap, and now they're following it up with a ful-length.  Yep, everything I loved about the debut is still their.  That fantastic dual lead harmony guitar work, the raw and roughened production, the faint NWOBHM DIY feeling, all the way down to the self-printed CD cover.  Perhaps this one leans even more into the Thin Lizzy camp, with a track like "Chaemera," sounding like it could've been a lost outtake or demo, with the harmony guitar leads and the very Phil Lynott-voiced phrasing.  In truth, I'd love to see them bust a bit more away from the Lizzy blueprint and explore some of their own territory, but if you're looking for an old school, guitar rock album, look no further.

White Light Cemetery - S/T EP

Ok.  LA is behind me.  Hell yes!  Open road ahead.  Time to rock.  In pops the new White Light Cemetery Ep and I'm groovin' just fine  Hands pounding the steering wheel in manical fits, head bopping dangerously away from watching the road, foot stomping on the gaspedal like a damn bass drum.  That's what WLC does to me.  A bit post-grunge, NOLA rough 'n ready rock.  Yeah, there's lots of COC in there and the songs aren't complicated, but who the hell says rock has to be?   This is balls out sludge-fest of gutty vocals  and pounding shit.  I know these guys.  I love these guys.  I put them on the Ripple Effect Presents: Volumen One, didn't I?  Now go listen to them.

Jazzanova - Funkhaus Studio Sessions

Getting closer to home.  Ears starting to bleed.  Need to calm things down a bit.   Jazzanova have been around for years and years.  I've got lots of their chill-out jazz/soul triphop stuff lying around and I've always dug them.  This album is no exception.  A bit more R&B at first than I expected, but good R&B.  Not overly produced. Soulful with dynamite vocals.  Playful and fun.  It's allowing my ears to rest as the album plays out through moods of gentle dance, downtempo, funk, jazz and always soul.  Always soul.  Definitely worth checking if you dig R&B and can't believe what the producers have wrecked upon that once proud genre.

The Orb - Featuring Lee Scratch Perry - The Observer in the Star House

Ok.  Home stretch.  Pulling off the 5 onto the 580 and close enough to home that I can smell my dogs waiting for me.  In pops the "scariest " CD of the batch.  What do I mean by that ? Well.  I know Lee Scratch Perry.  He's a well-deserved legend of dub and reggae.  And I know the Orb, and I've been less than impressed with their overly-synthed dance/trance stuff over the years.  So what happens when you combine a legendary producer/toaster with an electronic dance outfit that hits me like fingernails on a chalkboard?   Surprisingly, a damn fine dub record.   Fortunately, the album is all about Lee Perry.  His unique scratch of a voice, his tone, his phrasing.  In fact, it's not that different from the last Lee Perry album I reviewed.  But the Orb do make their presence felt, in very understated, wel-done effects, tones, and beats.   Swallowing the 20 billion beats per minute flavor of modern dance/trance, The Orb blend beautifully with the vibe of Perry's dub.  It all just flows and ebbs and does so seamlessly.  Diehard fans of the Orb's ambient house may hate this album.  But fans of experimental dub have nothing to fear.  A perfect ride to end my drive. 

That's all. . . until the next roadtrip.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #11: featuring Attacca, The Stacy Jones Band, Cameron Toy, Chuck Hughes Band, Stone Circle, and Jerry Juden

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.

Attacca – Call me crazy, but I found the song submitted by this quartet from Blue Springs, MO to be very refreshing.  They label themselves as a rock/progressive rock band, but what I was listening to sounded like an evolved grunge band who decided to make things a bit funkier with more emphasis on the bass.  I could also hear a definite 1970s groove creep into the mix.  Earnest vocals too.  Take a listen!

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “Pretty”

The Stacy Jones Band – Once again I made the mistake of assuming what the music would sound like based off of the band’s photo.  Dumb, dumb, dumb!  This quartet from Seattle, WA belts out some electrified blues rock like nobody’s business.  Stacy Jones’ voice is extraordinary and she can play a mean harmonica too!  If you miss vocalists like Janis Joplin then stop what you’re doing right now and follow the link.

Song Sample – “Heavy Water”  


Cameron Toy – Straight out of Los Angeles, CA comes this alternative/indie rock musician who’s looking to satisfy any fan of bands like Interpol and Death Cab For Cutie.  Yes, I know those bands sound very different from one another, but I believe this guy’s music can bridge the gap.  A second song I listened to had a groovy garage rock thing going on as well.  Check him out.

Song Sample – “Little Ghosts”  


Chuck Hughes Band – Oh yeah baby!  Anyone looking to swing the night away to that classic rockabilly sound need look no further than this trio from Denver, CO.  You know what I’m talking about waveriders.  Super clean guitar sound, slap happy upright bass, and hi hat heavy drumming.  It’s all here.  Similar artists include Reverend Horton Heat and Brian Setzer.

Song Sample – “Leavin’ Colorado”  


Stone Circle – What is it about bands from Australia?  This quartet from Perth, Western Australia barrels out of the chute with a superb modern alternative rock sound.  I’d go so far as to say that their overall sound is very radio friendly, but I’m not sure I can convince myself something this groovy would get airtime.  Their similar artists list is disparate to say the least; Van Halen, Rush, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, and Foo Fighters.  You’re telling me you’re not interested in finding out what this band is all about?

Song Sample – Live in Bogota, Colombia 

Jerry Juden – Wait, I’m confused.  This man’s music is labeled Americana first and foremost, and power pop second.  I suppose I can get behind the power pop angle, but Americana?  I don’t know about that.  His song submission is pretty funky for a pop song, and the vocals are Beatles-esque to my ears.  I suppose it really doesn’t matter what this California artist calls his music.  I’ll just call it good.  If you’re looking for something cheerful and pleasant, X marks the spot.

Song Sample – “Hello, Hello”  


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Brad Hammonds Group - Greene Street

I was eleven.  It was Sunday.  We picked up Grandma and we were on our way to listen to chamber music in the dome of the Palace of the Legion of Honor. I had protested going for days to no avail. That morning my Mother dressed me in suit and tie, and hard Buster Brown shoes, and hurried me in to the rear seat of an Oldsmobile 88.  This was to be quiet and listen music and I was neither quiet nor willing to listen.  However, a few stern looks and physical reminders from my Father kept me in line in the audience before the music began.

From my folding chair I bent down and picked up a handbill for a Bill Monroe concert off the floor of the rotunda.  I forget where the concert was scheduled to occur.  I was intrigued to see banjos, fiddles, guitars and stand-up bass.  Then I didn't really know much about bluegrass music other than you can't be sad and listen to a banjo.  Try it.  You become happy or you have to turn the music off.  I daydreamed about banjos and guitars and the fun of bluegrass, and happily sang Buck Owens' "Pfft, She Was Gone"  as the chamber music group took center stage. My Father boxed my ears and told me to pay attention.

I watched as a string quartet entered - a cellist, a bassist  and two violinists - dressed in tuxedos.  I got slapped on the back of my head for swinging my legs and was scolded in a whisper to be quiet, polite, watch and listen.  I did.  I became fascinated by the intricate arpeggiated interplay of the strings, how plucked strings sounded different from bowed strings, and how the sound swirled as it echoed off the cupola.

My fascination and eleven year old patience waned after about ten minutes.  I wished I were casually dressed and yearned for the sound of a guitar and some percussion in the mix.  It wasn't that I didn't like chamber music, it was, well, just too sedate and formal.  Even then I recognized the virtuosity of the players but I just could not enjoy a full helping of the product.  Looking back, if they had then existed it was at that moment that I really needed the Brad Hammonds Group.

The Brad Hammonds Group is an unusual string quartet that consists of guitarist Brad Hammonds, cellist Will Maritna, percussionist Mathias Kunzli and bassist Jason DiMatteo.  They released their debut album, Greene Street, this July.  It is an electic collection of ten virtuoso instrumental tracks that combine elements of bluegrass, folk, classical, chamber, jazz, acoustic rock, Americana and World music. Hammonds’ guitar work is masterful as he plays progressions at a rip-neck pace, changes genres or solemnly leads an instrumental game of tag.  The sound is unadulterated, sophisticated and cerebral, but does not require coat and tie or tuxedos.   The album provides a musical style and genre synthesis, with novel sonic surprises, that compels this listener to listen attentively. 

Sitting in the Palace all those years ago Brad Hammonds Group's album Greene Street could have easily held my interest for the entire half hour running time of the album - probably even longer if the show had opened with a banjo.

- Old School  

Brad Hammonds Group - “If This, Then That”

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Lord Fowl - Moon Queen

 Moon Queen

Hey waveriders, call me Headshot. I'll be your pilot for the next few paragraphs.

    I'm sitting in a chair on my back porch watching the evening sun bathe itself in somnambular hues of purple and red.  I have a list of albums to listen to, but it's the end of Summer. Autumn air is creeping in through the trees and all the sludge and doom that dominates my list isn't whetting my appetite. I'm in the mood for something fresh, something wide sounding. I start flipping through the list.

    "Meh, not so much, welllll.....oh...wait....Moon Queen, that sounds cool."

    I  queue it up. As the first track, also the title track, opens up, the clouds form florescent letters; the name LORD FOWL shines iridescent in the dusking sky. This song has it all: tons of fresh hot riffs, great vocals, and music that is heavy as a really heavy thing, yet mellow and sure of itself.

    That first listen was a couple days ago, I've listened to the whole thing several times since then. It's getting stuck in my head, it's catchy and there's nothing wrong with that.

    The one thing this album has, above all else, is dynamic. Every song, while sounding like the same band, has its own personality and groove. The band keeps variety at hand.

They go from an easy going mix of "Time Travelin' Blues" era Orange Goblin and KISS on tracks such as "Touch Your Groove" and "Moon Queen" to the almost Foo Fighters colored "The Queen is Not Impressed."

    The album ends with the stoned epic, "Pluto." The song is a glorious amalgamation of too many things to mention. One of the greatest moments on the album is the guitar solo in this song. The groove is slow, it takes its time, it's mostly empty air. It lets the guitars breathe. It's absolutely appropriate, and beautiful. It reminds me of the end of H.G. Well's The Time Machine , seeing the purity of a dying planet and the grace of infinite atrophy. Yeah man, space and shit.

    Go buy their album, like them on facebook, send them creepy letters about how you want to have their babies, whatever your thing is.



    As an aside, here's a little about me, since I'm new. My name, as  you know, is Headshot; I enjoy long walks on zombie infested beaches, feeling the toxic sludge between my toes and, and frolics in ruined urbanscapes.  I meandered my way into the ripple by trying to get my band, Deadweight, heard. We've got a new EP coming out. But, I won't plug you too much just yet. There's plenty of time for that later. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Proto-Metal Report: Scorpions - Fly To The Rainbow

 Fly to the Rainbow

I've been totally negligent in listening to new music lately. In about 2 weeks my schedule is going to allow me to listen to more of the great stuff that I've been sent to check out for Ripple reviews but in the meantime, here's a proto-metal report about the album I've been playing a lot lately. Everyone knows I'm a huge fan of the Uli Roth era Scorpions and recently a friend gifted me with a vinyl copy of this album in all it's RCA budget label glory. It's such a great album and this copy is extremely clean. My remastered CD sounds great, the mp3's on my iPod are perfect for blasting in the car but LP is where it's at for this underrated 1974 psychedelic hard rock gem.

Scorpions released their tripped out, almost Krautrock debut Lonesome Crow in 1972 but when guitarist Michael Schenker left to join UFO, the band broke up. Founding Scorp guitarist Rudy Schenker and vocalist Klaus Meine teamed up with the incredible Uli Roth and the rhythm section of his band Dawn Road to form a new superpower. They eventually rebranded themselves as Scorpions and and recorded Fly To The Rainbow.

Side one's opener "Speedy's Coming" starts off with some vintage Stratocaster whammy torture from Uli before the rest of the band blasts in. It must have been a shock for anyone expecting the dreamy grooves of the previous album. Klaus' vocals are much more aggressive and his lyrics on this song have always been a great source of entertainment for me. "You like David Bowie & friends at the Royal Albert Hall" is a classic inside joke/put down amongst a small circle of my friends. The song is no joke, however, just kick ass 70's hard rock with incredible guitar playing. This is a great example of a guitar team that works well together. Rudy's tight rhythm guitar blends so well with Uli's virtuoso leads. "They Need A Million" starts off with Uli on acoustic guitar and ballad-ish vocals from Klaus. After about a minute Rudy fires up a strong riff and Uli's lead gets doubled by some proggy synths. The real surprise is that Rudy takes his a turn as lead vocalist with Klaus backing him up. "Drifting Sun" is Uli's chance to show off all of his best Hendrixisms. Killer wah-wah licks and his laid back Jimi-delic vocals. Klaus joins in on the chorus and Rudy sings the psychedelic bridge through some kind of rotating speaker effect. All of this is just a build up for an outstanding groove that Uli's guitar soars over. It's about 8 minutes long but could easily have been longer. Play this for your snobby Krautrock friends and don't tell them who it is until after the song's over. They'll freak! Side one wraps up with the slow, bluesy "Fly People Fly" that was co-written by Klaus and Michael Schenker.

Flip it over and "This Is My Song" fades in from mid-jam into a solid mid-tempo heavy rocker. "Far Away" is the type of ballad that would become a Scorpions trademark. Written by the usual Kluas/Rudy team it also features contributions from Michael. The title track ends the album with a 9 minute epic. It's also the only song co-written by Michael Schenker and Uli Roth. Michael probably wrote it before he quit for UFO and Scorpions wisely decided to hang on to it. Part of the acoustic intro also show's up on UFO's "Crystal Light" on their album Phenomenon (also released in 1974). Uli must have finished the music and clearly wrote the words, even though Klaus sings it. There's some great twin guitar parts that pre-date Thin Lizzy's harmonies and it's obvious that young Steve Harris was taking notes for future use in Iron Maiden. Uli's guitar playing is once again incredible and the live version on Tokyo Tapes is even better.

Fly To The Rainbow often gets overlooked compared to the more hard rocking In Trance, Virgin Killer or Taken By Force. As a metal youth it was the one I listened to the least but has grown to be a real favorite of mine over the years. It sounds great alongside Sad Wings of Destiny by Judas Priest, Rainbow Rising, UFO's Phenomenon and Thin Lizzy's Nightlife. You have all of those, right?


Alaric/Atriarch - Split

This is a first for me since I have never reviewed a split before, but when given this proposition it was too good to neglect. So without further ado here's the West Coast collaboration of Alaric and Atriarch.

First out is Alaric from Oakland, CA, with the songs Memory Assault, So Far Down and Weep. Upon seeing their name I thought of the King of the Visigoths and immediately expected to hear only goth music - I know I am a moron sometimes. Instead I am treated to a real nice version of early 80's Killing Joke mixed with a dollop of doom...and actually a pinch of goth. Not as much as I thought though. Doom is one of my favourite genres and I grew up on a healthy dose of Killing Joke. So Alaric had me from the word go.

What they bring to the table is some very cool atmospheric yet demented and punishing the best possible way! They're not super fast or brutal in their approach instead they opt for a mid-tempo range that allows their insanity to run free and I love it. When you think everything is good and calm they immediately change and you feel the craziness press you down while the demons in your head are escaping. All three songs almost works like a three-chapter story depicting a truly demented person's mental sufferings. Fantastic!
A great start to this split and I will definitely check out their self-titled debut that is already out on 20 Buck Spin.

Atriarch from Portland, OR, finish the album with two songs, Oblivion and Offerings. They kind of have Alaric's love of early 80's Killing Joke and doom but they add a bit of aggro-punk into the mix along with some trippy elements. That is the most apparent in their second song Offerings. Oblivion is a fast in-yer-face tune that brings forth Atriarch's punk influences. Singing-wise its almost hardcore but the music keeps it punkish, hard and raw. Offerings is a slower and longer song, it's almost pshycedelic yet they maintain their punk attitude while putting some death metal into the fray.

I like their music but it took me longer to grasp it but that doesn't matter, sometimes it takes a while for a poor ruined mind like mine to comprehend things. As long as you grasp it whether it's good music or not. Atriarch are in my ears more adventuros than Alaric by stepping out of the box more and explore more avenues that will fit into their scheme of things. Maybe that's why it took the Swedebeast some time to understand the Oregonians.

Despite their common love for Killing Joke and doom both bands are two distinct entities and move within their own spheres. However working together on this spilt they connect so beautifully in all their respective insanity. There is such a fantastic flow through all the songs that keeps everything together even though the songs wants to explode and set free the madness!
20 Buck Spin released a beauty here and, even though its a 5-track split-LP, should be regarded in it's own right. The bands have created a beast that should be unleashed to the masses....although I strongly believe the masses would crumble and fall under the weight of this sonic onslaught of dementia. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Holy Knights - Between Daylight and Pain

End of the Light Records
Dario Di Matteo - Vocals / Keyboards
Simone Campione - Guitars / Bass
Claudio Florio – Drums

     Now this is symphonic metal at its finest. The first song ripped my ears off and left me wanting more and more. Perfect symmetry in its musical approach and attack. Holy Knights have nailed their sound down tight and solid. The keyboard work alone is stellar, now add in all the other instruments and it is amazing. Production is crisp, clear, and controlled.

     "Wasted Time" is one of the strongest tracks on the disc. I had that song cranking along as I hit the highway. Pure power metal here. The interplay between guitar and keyboards is astounding.

     "Mystery", and "Frozen Paradise", are incredible snapshots of what the band can do. I can only imagine what this sounds and looks like in a live venue. Often we find we these "keyboard" driven bands, that they lack a certain guitar edge or power to propel them above the masses. So many either over drive the keys or hide them and the guitar or both , that we lose the essence of a great power metal act.
     "11 September", and "The turning to Madness" showcase a vocalist who has all the chops for this style of metal. He doesn't overplay his voice. There is a power in there but also a controlled reasoning not to go off into the stratosphere of high notes. He can and does , but here and there. I like his voice. Reminds me of Sonata Artica.

     I like this disc. It moves me and makes me want to drive! Well conceived and executed, this cd is one you must get. The obvious Helloween and Kamelot influences aside, this is one stand out band.

8 horns up on my 10 horns up scale


It Came From ReverbNation #8

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.

Donna Hopkins Band – This two person unit from Tucker, GA sent in this lovely blues-ified ballad that reminds me of Eric Clapton’s “Change The World”.  The music is very tastefully done, and Donna Hopkins has a tremendously soulful voice that is raspy at all the right times.  Her guitar work is top notch as well!  If you’re looking for something to soothe your day away, look no further.

Song Sample – “Meet Me In The River” 

North Lawrence Midnight Singers – These four men from Philadelphia, PA seem intent on defying simple classification.  I can best describe the sound of their song submission as classic rock mixed with Americana and folk, as sung by a mix of Roy Orbison and Tom Verlaine.  While this song seemed underwhelming at first, it quickly sunk its hooks into my brain.  If you like The Jayhawks or The Replacements this band is for you.

Song Sample – “Last Great Saturday Night” 

The Michael Louis Band – Can you say Southern power trio?  I can!  If I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn that the song submitted by this band was recorded in the mid-1970s by some peers of The Allman Brothers Band.  The fact that the band’s base of operations is Brooklyn, NY is downright shocking!  Seriously.  Great vocals, great instrument work, fantastic groove…this band has captured my interest!  Check them out waveriders.

Song Sample – “29 Ways”


The Higher Concept – Hello hip-hop heads.  Can you hear me out there?  Good, because I think you should check out this powerful three member outfit from Staten Island, NY.  All three emcees have nice lyrical flows and I really appreciate their positive messages, but there is one aspect that really distinguishes this group from the pack.  I’m not sure I’ve heard another hip-hop group that utilizes overtly poppy sounding productions (music you might hear on modern pop radio) behind their raps.  These guys do, and I think it sounds sweet!

Song Sample – “Everything” 

Line Of Force – Man oh man does this sound fantastic to my ears!  Let’s go down the list shall we?  Ultra funky groove?  Check!  Fantastic male and female vocals?  Check!  Nice use of horns?  Check!  Undeniable overall swagger to the song?  Oh yeah!  This sounds like an amped up Dr. John track to me, but I can totally buy the proffered comparison with Michael Franti and Spearhead.  Seriously waveriders, this music is awesome!

Song Sample – “Jefferson’s Blues”


Remy de Laroque – Here we have an indie/folk rock artist from New York City, NY with a very ear pleasing voice.  I imagine that English was his second language based on how he phrases some of his song lyrics.  It adds a very interesting element to his music.  His bio lists Wilco, Nick Drake, and Bon Iver as similar artists and who am I to argue?  I would add that the song he submitted reminds me of The Police on many occasions.  Good stuff!

Song Sample – “Where We’re From” 

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