Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #22- Featuring Holocene, Rosa & the UltraTight, Michaela Burger, Joel Cote, Centric, and Paul Y Justin

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.

Holocene – This gentleman from Auckland, NZ really impressed me with a song submission that sounded like a reggae-focused take on Pink Floyd’s “Money”.  Both the music and his vocals were very ear pleasing.  You could say that I was pretty surprised when the next song I listened to ended up being a heavily distorted, grungy affair.   Very cool, and very different.  Clearly this man has a variety of tunes to offer the listener.  Similar artists include Nirvana, Bob Marley, and Scott Weiland.

Song Sample – Beg Me Please 

Rosa & The UltraTight – This four member unit calls New York, NY home and based on their submission they have more bounce to their pop/rock ounce than anyone off the top of my head.  Seriously, my foot wasn’t just tapping to the rhythm.  No.  It was as if a spring had been augmented into my calf muscle!  Also of note is the fact that Rosa’s vocals really stand out from the crowd in my opinion.  Similar artists include Madonna, Alanis Morissette, and Elton John.

Song Sample – Move Higher 

Michaela Burger – Waveriders, I can think of only one word to describe the submission we received from this energetic artist hailing from Adelaide, AU.  That word is infectious.  She has quite the powerful voice and her singing immediately grabbed my full attention.  Quite the vocal range too!  Her bio defines her as a folk, singer/songwriter, but the song I listened to was much heavier on the pop side of the spectrum.  Similar artists include Missy Higgins, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos.  Take a listen folks!

Song Sample – Measure My Love  

Joel Cote – Wow!  What an arresting song submission!  To my ears it’s a crazy mish mash of hardcore punk, rock, and a splash of reggae thrown in during the choruses.  I may be wrong, but I believe the lyrics are in French.  The second song I listened to was almost completely at odds with the first, being a downtempo, swinging blues rock affair.  I love it!  I’m telling you waveriders, there’s something special going on in Saint-Luc, QC, CA.  Click the link and see what I’m talking about.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – Rumble Dogs 

Centric – Looking for some downright propulsive modern melodic southern metal?  Good, because the four men that make up this band from Knoxville, TN are ready to deliver what the doctor ordered.  Armed with some serious riffs and nasty guitar tones they should have no trouble accomplishing their goal of “(taking) the mainstream by storm”.  Similar artists include Pop Evil and Alice In Chains.

Paul Y Justin – And now for something completely different!  Do you like artists like Devo, Ween, and Joy Division?  Yes I realize that those artists are very different from one another, but if you can imagine them getting together to make music than you should have an idea of what to expect from this group out of San Diego, CA.  The vocals on the song I listened to are Devo through and through.  The music sounds like a more aggressive version of Joy Division with heavily distorted electronic elements.  Altogether a very interesting band!  Go forth and listen waveriders.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – Bury Me  


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Record Label Round-up - Webbed Hand Records

the webbed hand

Coffee speeds in boiling shades of strange neon dreams and sleepless nights through my veins. I've been awake, reading about strange aeons gone by and lost things, forgotten inside the rift millennia. I'm awake for awakes sake.

Nights like these call for a special type of soundtrack. Something to fit the mood, a cacophony of tension at times and a single calming drone at others.

The sound of rain falling.
The sound of the earth dying.
The sound of planets conversing.
The sound of tectonic plates copulating.
The sound of webbed hand records.

I found Webbed Hand about five years back, purely by chance. I was meandering around a legal torrent website and tried out a random smattering of things. WH stood out. An album called "Hasenpfeffer" by Djinnestan was the way I slept and woke up and went through my day in the winter of 2008. If you ever listen to it you'll realize that I've probably summoned a great old one, or two, in my time to be able to sleep to this stuff.

When people ask me what kind of music it is, I have a hard time answering. It's not "music," in the traditional sense, usually. It's usually a collection of sounds, or notes. It's moody, it's colorful, but I'm not sure if I'd call most of it music so much as sonic landscapes.

One of the coolest things WH does is the "rain" series. Most of the artists on the label have done at least one "rain" album. They usually consist of sounds reminiscent of rain. They're all unique though, they all have a specific touch. Every "rain" album is a full length recording. WH describes thusly: Each “Rain” is a CD-length ambient recording ideal for quiet listening while meditating, writing, or going to sleep. Typically the recordings in this series are minimalistic soundscapes, with motifs played out cyclically rather than progressively, in order to induce relaxed states.

 Akashic Crows Nest's rain album, for example, conjures images of a lonely interstellar voyager, traveling, doomed, through an cosmic shower. Most of the sounds in ACN's rain are created using an image synthesizer, to translate pictures into sound. It works.

Webbed hand is everything from darkdrone, to acoustic ambient, to electronic soundscapes. There are several gems in their catalog, and they're constantly adding new stuff. The best part about it is that, you can listen to their entire catalog for free. Everything is creative commons licensed. They do appreciate donations, so if you enjoy what they do, spare a couple bucks for them.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Eldorado - Antigravity Sound Machine

There's something in the air.  I can feel it.

Living music as much as I do, day after day, it just feels like something big is happening.  More and more it seems that the world is waking up to real rock n roll.  The time of overly-produced, radio-fodder, corporate commercial pap is ending.  People want to rock.  They want real instruments and passon and energy.   I sense a longing for old-school 70's festival shows like the famous Days on the Green in Oakland. People want real, retro hard n heavy rock.

And this seems to be happening all over the world, not just the classic music staples of the U.K., Sweden and Germany.  Just check Miss Lava in Portugal.  Concrete Sun in Serbia, and now, Eldorado from Spain. 

I hadn't heard Eldorado before, but I've learned that Antigravity Sound Machine is their third album; their second with new singer Jesus Trujillo, and their second album sung in English (first album with Trujilo was in English and Spanish).  Cool.  Now that means I gotta go back and track down their first two albums because I'm a sucker for rock blasted out in a band's native language.  Particularly if those albums sound half as good as Antigravity Sound Machine.

Full on retro-heaviness Zeppelin inspired rock is the name of game here.  Blazing guitars and ballsy rhythms for days, played with zeal and fire.  Trujillo ably brings a Plant-esque command to the music without ever aping the master.  In fact, despite the retro-influences, Eldorado never fall into the "too-heavinly influenced by the masters" trap.  They combine their Zeppelin meal with other 70's touches courtesey of Sabbath, and Bad Company, some 80's spice from the cookbook of The Black Crowes, and some stewy gobs of 90's grunge to the scene a la Soundgarden, fusing it all into a paella of simmering rock tastiness.  I've seen a lot of references to Rival Sons, The Answer, and Wolfmother, but Eldorado seems much more real to me.  The closest comparison I hear is Portlands, Ape Machine, and that's a damn fine band to be compared to. 

"Background Radiation" is all Zep and Soundgarden swagger with soaring bluesy vocals and massive chunky riffs.  Think Crowes, "Too Hot to Handle" existing on a diet of Red Bulls, weed and uppers for 20 years.  It rages, it steams, it kicks some serious ass.  "Like a Lost Child" builds off a simmering bass intro to layer in huge Deep Purple, Hammond organ, before dropping into a groovefest of mid-tempo blues-fueled stadium rock.  This song just explodes with some tasty psychedelic guitar licks and groove.  "Another Bright Sunday" is an explosion of ballsy, hard-rocking madness with massively thick grooves and a killer, guitar-vocal harmony verse.

From start to finish, Antigravity Sound Machine is a kick-ass journey through the world of retro-rock, with band finding ample room to explore and show off their chops.  Quality from start to finish. 

If the sounds of retro-70's rock are your thing, take heart, the world is right there with you.  What started out as an underground rumble is becoming a world-wide roar.  Rock is back, and Eldorado rightfully take their place leading that charge.

Don't miss it.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stolen Babies - There Be Squabbles Ahead

I recently caught Stolen Babies in Dallas at the Epic Kings and Idols show, having never heard of them prior. With Devin Townsend bringing them on board as an opening act it should come as no surprise that Stolen Babies are quite…..odd. Getting the nod of approval from the almighty Devy himself certainly lends them some credibility to the uninitiated, and after witnessing their wacky odd-ball live show (highly enjoyable even though they had about as much stage room to work with as you could cram into a phone booth) I was immediately compelled to run over to the merch booth and pick up There Be Squabbles Ahead, complete with a little yellow window sticker that says Stolen Babies On Board (I thought this was funny as hell, my wife not so much).

Despite an A for effort stage show that was a bit underwhelming due to the venue’s less than stellar sound system, I am pleased to report that There Be Squabbles Ahead, released way back in 2006, is a very strong and, perhaps more importantly, unique album. Picture an Alice Cooper mentality in theatrics, with a Halloween (the holiday, not the band) feel, and competent punk rock riffs balanced with more aggressive metal breakdowns and you have an idea of what you’re in for. The most notable feature of the band is the diversity of what is used in the music. Just reading out of the liner notes, we have a glockenspiel, jaw harp, mandolin, baby sitar, toy piano, tuba, euphonium, and a “shriek of fervor”. Oh and the lead singer, a female with a nice smoky jazz parlor styled voice that also dips into some growls here and there, plays an accordion. Yep, a friggin accordion. At the concert this detail was sort of lost in the wall of sound effect, however on the album it shines through and gives a very nice flavor to the music. Other touches are the use of an up-right bass on certain songs, and various effects accomplished with chains and so on, that all lead to a very playful vibe that is never really lost, despite the more often than not aggressive nature of the songs.

Awful Fall, Filistata, Tablescrap, and Push Button are all standout tracks, with the latter having a very cool video to it. So Close is by far my favorite of the album, with a heavy groove and insanely catchy chorus. On the downside, I think songs like Spill and Mind Your Eyes lose a lot of the unique qualities I enjoy in favor of a more aggressive and standard approach. Swint? or Slude? is also an unnecessary interlude that I skip every time.

Overall There Be Squabbles Ahead is a fun album that will certainly be appreciated by those with an ear for more “out there” fare. Energetic and perfect for Halloween, this is one hell of an enjoyable album.

--Audio Renaissance

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Les Paul & Friends - American Made World Played

Will they drop by for my birthday?

No. This can only happen to you if you are a guitar God. 

What else can you call Les Paul?  His real name was Lester Williams Polsfuss. He was born in 1915, played jazz, country and blues guitar, and pioneered rock and roll.  He invented the solid-body electric guitar and was one of the first to experiment with overdubbing, tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording.  He is a worthy member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1950's Paul and Mary Ford ruled radio, and later television airwaves, with witty repartee, Mary’s country singing voice, and Les Paul’s virtuoso guitar playing and musical inventions.

Paul died in 2009 of pneumonia at the age of 94.  Four years prior to his death he was venerated by the world's greatest popular music artists through this compilation of recordings.  At 90 years old, for his birthday, Paul got together with a group of his worshippers and produced an extraordinary album of rock and blues covers called American Made World Played.  It is an absolute wonder that should be a mainstay in every rocker’s collection.  Check these tracks out:

The album opens with the introduction to the Les Paul Radio Show and flows directly into the hottest version of "Love Sneakin' Up On You", sung by Joss Stone and Sting with Les Paul on guitar, that you will ever hear. Before you catch your breath the album ignites with a version of "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" with licks and lyrics traded by Paul, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Edgar Winter, and Mick Hucknall (Simply Red). Then, Paul sits down with Eric Clapton and they perform a moving version of Sam Cooke’s "Ease Your Troublin' Mind".   As Clapton leaves Peter Frampton takes his place and he and Paul play "So Into You".  Alsou, a Russian synthpop artist, cuts together audio tape from the old Les Paul and Mary Ford TV Show and inserts the clips into an ethereal version of Paul's hit and jazz standard "How High The Moon" that she performs with Paul.

When Alsou departs ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons arrives. He and Paul cook up a driving version of "Bad Case Of Lovin' You." Next to sit with Paul are Journey’s Neal Schon and singer Beth Hart. Paul and Schon take the opportunity to back Hart on a version of "I Wanna Know You" that summons the soul of Janis Joplin.  Schon and Hart cede the chair next to Paul to Jeff Beck so Beck and Paul can record the best version of Sam Cooke's "(Ain't That) Good News" that, in my humble opinion, has ever been recorded.  Paul then offers a chair to Ritchie Sambora and they play a gritty version of Paul McCartney's "Let Me Roll It." 

A solo Paul effort, a quick, harsh, highly processed version of "Caravan,"  which sounds nothing like Paul’s 1950's hit, marks a interlude before Buddy Guy, Keith Richards and Rick Derringer drop by.  They join Paul on a rockin‘, dirty version of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl". Guy, Richards and Derringer bug out and give Goo Goo Dolls lead singer and guitarist Johnny Rzeznik an opportunity to play "All I Want Is You" with Paul. Paul then provides a second personal interlude with a funky, highly processed and high energy progressive jazz version of "69 Freedom Special".

Paul has his Godson sit down and play with him.  First, there is an audio clip from the Les Paul Radio Show of an interaction between the Godson, Steve Miller, and the Godfather, Les Paul, where Paul make prescient comments about, and compliments Miller on, his boyish screaming/singing.  The track morphs into Miller and Paul playing a beautiful stripped down version of "Fly Like An Eagle". The album ends with an amazing performance of one of the greatest blues songs ever written, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know", that is performed by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Paul, former Kid Rock guitarist Kenny Olsen and Hucknall.    

Some birthday party, huh!?!  Best part is they recorded it and we can listen anytime we want.  It is a birthday present that keeps giving from the late Les Paul and his amazing friends.

- Old School  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Doommantia Vol 1 Compilation Available to Help Keep Doommantia Alive

Doommantia Vol. 1 compilation was put together to raise money to benefit Ed Barnard of He suffered two heart attacks and due to huge medical bills, he is now homeless. has helped thousands of fans to discover new bands and countless number of bands to promote their music.
Now, 39 bands from all around the world have contributed over four hours of music and a $7 donation gets you these tracks but you can donate more if you have the means to do so. Killer artwork was donated by Coby Ellison. 

All the proceeds will go to help get Ed back on his feet and keep Doommantia alive!

Serpentine Path's eponymous debut and Hooded Menace's Effigies of Evil

As my BlogBrotherFromAnotherMother Racer said: when reality conforms to your expectations, "Sometimes Life just works."

I'm not used to that-- to life just... working. I'm used to life just working against me. Or seemingly to, at any rate. I'm a bit freaked out when it actually works in my favor.

I'm... suspicious.

And yet, here-- it seemingly has.S

[Sidenote: I just bought a new computer, after six years... and via these downloads from Racer, it's very weird to me to have only 16 tracks on iTunes (normally it's over 10K)... I took this as Somehow Important, Somehow Monumental....]

Herein follows two fucking awesome releases from Relapse records-- Hooded Menace's "Effigies of Evil," and Serpentine Path's (featuring members of Unearthly Trance, Ramesses and Electric Wizard) self-titled debut.

Both are doom metal. Both are doom metal so obsessed with unholy/infernal vocals that they border on death metal, but are also too obsessed with the riff to truly be death-- the sludge, the stoner riffage, the tempo, the sheer DOOM is too obvious to be anything other than than death metal-influenced doom/sludge/ stoner metal....

First, Serpentine Path's debut:

We open with "Arrows," with its approximation of the intro to Maiden's "Number of the Beast," but this not as cool: too wordy, too long, too high in pitch, not nearly as evil/ metal.... The overall vibe here is of Ramesses meets Unearthly Trance (perhaps not surprisingly, what with the common members-- I love it when life is actually logical)... next there's "Crotalus Horridus Horridus" (apparently the timber rattlesnake in Latin)... which makes me think: how awesome would it be if every song from Serpentine Path's record was named somehow for a snake...? It would be the doom metal equivalent of Marvel comics' serpent society.
Of course, then Captain America would show up and kick its ass, but still...! Cool, right...?

Both these bands, particularly SP, are what I'll call... I dunno... "Lovers of the Detuned Octave."

Even more so than say, Bongripper, these songs are written around the essentially-ceremonial concept of Detuning a Guitar and then Playing the Lowest Note There, and then: The Next Octave Up on the Scale... and all this, whilst growling over this chord "selection."

And it's worth stating explicitly: I'm not hating-- this is rather awesome.

"Bats Amongst Heathens," and its opener, is the best riff on here, but the beginning of "Obsoletion," with its spirally, "Am I Evil?"-ish trudging is also Rather Quite Awesome, as is the entire tune. "Aphelion" bangs out of the gate with a nice forebeat-bashing riff... "Compendium of Suffering" comes pretty close to Candlemass (were they a death metal band)... and closer "Only a Monolith Remains," with its minor-third harmonies, chillingly ends the record.


Hooded Menace and their Effigies of Evil are just as detuned as Serpentine Path (in B standard, it seems), and it lets you know this immediately on "Vortex Macabre," once the infernal winds of the intro pass away... this is a Hallowe'en record, and it's no less metal and/or great for this... it almost sounds like something Serpentine Path might record as a covers album... each song somehow seems familiar, whilst also being seemingly new, as well as being detuned badassed-ness....

Hooded Menace are much like Serpentine Path in terms of execution and intent (if I may be so bold as to assume I can accurately posit and understand their intent), if only very slightly more (NC-17-ly) cartoonish: larger-than-life, more obviously-yet-obliquely Robert Crumb-ishly evil, and at the same time metal: they're not mocking metal at all-- they're trying to sweet-talk it and ass-fuck it in the same night....

Bottom line: Serpentine Path and Effigies of Evil will both make my year-end top 10 list. Assess this statement accordingly.


Michael McDermott - Hit Me Back

…sitting on my back porch with the fire lit, a Knob Creek in hand and an Alec Bradley New York (cigar) in the other hand, I begin my journey into the world of Michael McDermott’s newest album, “Hit Me Back.”  Having no idea what I’m about to hear, I decide to kick my feet up and get ready for anything.  Little did I know what beautiful surprises were in store for me…he poetically outlines the hurdles of his own life married with the storytelling prowess the likes of Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet and Van Morrison.   His whiskey soaked-smokey vocals are reminiscent of Springsteen, Bon Jovi and even some of the country greats of the past decade…with a smidge of Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20.  I can’t decide whether this is old school secular, Christian or cross over country…but in the end, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is the way in which his songs relate to me and make me feel…the journey has only begun…

The album starts off strong with “Hit Me Back” and then pulls at your heart and soul with “Let It Go.”  You can actually feel the pain through the straining of his smokey-stained vocals.  I was surprised as the next song took me to the Caribbean with “The Prettiest Girl in the World,” a Van Morrison meets Jimmy Buffet composition that makes you want to reach for a Mai Tai and the REWIND button.  Like I said, the journey has only begun…I chose those words carefully as the songs are all molded in a way that makes you feel like you are on a trip…a vacation…a road trip if you will.

“Dreams about Trains” made me reminisce about being a child and the dreams that go along with those memories…the simple things.  The power and passion of those dreams are felt throughout this song.   Just when I think I’ve been brought to a place of inner peace (mind you at this point, my Whiskey is almost gone), the songs “I know a place” starts spinning…a beautiful acoustic songs that is refreshing lyrically and soft on the ears.  Dynamics in any story or song are imperative to capturing the true essence of the storytellers vision...I feel like I am right beside him as he walks through life…Quick to follow is probably the most relative song to the current music scenes’ “sound” (if you will)…”Ever After.”   “Scars from Another Life” completely illuminates Michael’s journey.  Although this isn’t the end of the album, it is the epitome of reflecting on where he was to where he has arrived and the rest is only icing on the cake.

If you like hear felt, soulful music that will reach in and slow you down…quiet your thoughts…and take you on a journey to a place you may have only visited…this album is for you!

 I give them 4 out of 5 Fish

--The Fish

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pale Divine - Painted Windows Black

High expectations on the arrival of an album can really ruin the actual release. It has happened to myself many times in the past because you know and like a band a lot, and the mere fact they are about to release new material makes you attach all these, sometimes unsurmountable, hopes and attributes to it. This in turn can make it all come crashing down fast. For the release of Painted Windows Black these expectations were running extremely high since Pale Divine is one of my favourite bands of all time. Add to the fact that it took the band 5 long years to create a follow-up to their excellent Cemetery Earth and I was really worried what it was going to sound like. However, any fear I had was unfounded as Painted Windows Black is a master piece in any sense of the word! I should have know better than to doubt these guys...

Rarely has an album affected me as much as Painted Windows Black has from the very moment I first listened to it. The instrumental opener Nocturne Dementia shakes and rattles my foundations to a near meltdown with it's heaviness. It is a bold move for any band to start off with an instrumental piece but Pale Divine is a band that pulls it off excellently. Even without lyrics they convey the feelings Painted Windows Black depicts throughout its 67 minutes. Musically it's a joyride as they still play their fantastic blend of heavy 70's rock, doom and heavy metal but they have stepped it up a notch. Greg Diener's guitar playing is so perfectly unrestrained; on the one hand he keeps it together in the rhythm department and on the other hand he plays some truly wicked solos and he is jamming out at full blast. Darin McCloskey to me is an old school drummer in the sense that he plays like the great ones from the 70's, Brian Downey and Ian Paice especially comes to mind. It can look and sound simple when in fact his drumming is rather complex, intricate and face-blowingly heavy! And those are the traits of a great muscian, they make it look simple and easy when it really isn't. They are backed up by Jerry Bright on bass guitar and he does a great job keeping the songs in place which allows Greg especially to venture off with his magical solos. Great stuff folks indeed!

When The Prophet, the second song starts, the biggest change with Pale Divine is apparent and that is Greg's voice. He has always been an accomplished singer but both on albums and live he didn't always enunciate words giving a feeling of shyness. A big factor might be that he plays guitar and focus' more on the playing than the singing. This time around though, well all I can say is holy hell!!! He sings with such passion, power and he hits notes I could never have imagined him reaching before. How great that works in The Prophet. The desperation and angst in Greg's voice pulls me in and I really live the song. In fact I live every single song until Painted Windows Black ends. And despite the fact that the album deals with death, loneliness, despair, fear, angst, the end of the world I keep it on repeat. I don't want it to end; I want their music to take me away and comfort me while the lyrics are digging their way through my mind and soul until I am so emotionally drained I'm about to pass out.

Painted Windows Black is one of the most complete albums I have heard in a long long time. There is not a single bad song on it as they all complement each other fantastically well. However, there are three tracks that stand above the rest: Angel Of Mercy, End of Days and Black Coven. And this trio of songs defines all that Pale Divine are. All they've done and accomplished up until now are in these songs...the music, the lyrics, the talent, the emotions and all the evocations they conjur. Whether I'm happy or down Painted Windows Black works equally great and takes me to different places regardless my mood and the visions I see are so beautiful. I can't honestly say the last time an album affected me this much....truly amazing!

If 5 years is what it takes to complete a master piece like Painted Windows Black then let it take that long. I honestly never thought Pale Divine could surpass their previous release, the magnificient Cemetery Earth. Definitely emulate it but not surpass it but they did and then some. And I am very pleased that they proved me wrong. So in that respect half a decade isn't long at all.
Of course as a long time supporter of the band I prefer quicker releases but Painted Windows Black made me see the light finally. Let the band take the time they need because the final result will be mind-blowing as always!

This release is a definite must in any music fan's collection. It's one of those albums that only comes along once every decade or even less! And you, dear reader, are a fool beyond words if you don't pick up a copy of Painted Windows Black.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It Came From ReverbNation #19: Featuring Whiskey Rodeo, Close to Nowhere, NerVer, Requiem for Oblivion, Chris Allen, and Tripo9

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.

Whiskey Rodeo – Yee-haw waveriders!  This Southern rock/Americana/Funky-Tonk quartet from Flagstaff, AZ definitely made an impression on me with their song submission.  It grooved, it had attitude, and it rocked.  If you’re a country fan looking for something more aggressive look no further!  Similar artists include Lynyrd Skynryd, Govt Mule, and Bad Company.  Check them out.

Song Sample – “Deadliest 8”

Close To Nowhere – This quartet from Burlington, VT impressed me with a bluesy, mid-tempo song submission that I suspect was recorded live.  Very nice, expressive vocals and I like the guitar work.  The bottom line is that I found this band’s sound to be totally ear pleasing, and recommend them for somebody looking for a classic rock fix.

Song Sample – No Sample

NerVer – Yes indeed waveriders!  This four man hard rock wrecking crew from Altamonte Springs, FL would like to make your acquaintance.  In the beginning this band was a solo studio project for Casey Daniel from Seven Mary Three.  Thankfully the three other members were found and this riff happy beast now has a life of its own!  Similar artists include Soundgarden, Clutch, and Queens of The Stone Age.  Do you like modern hard rock with a significant bite?  Of course you do so click on the link and get happy!

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “No Cage” 


Requiem For Oblivion – Well now, what do we have here?  Could it be an interesting progressive death metal band?  Why yes it is!  This quartet from Erie, PA impressed me with their willingness to completely change the feel of their song submission seemingly at will to jump from a completely in your face riff based metal assault to significantly more melodic passages.  Very well done in my opinion.  Similar artists include Opeth, Agalloch, and Katatonia.  If you like your metal extreme, you should check these guys out.

Song Sample – “Conflicted”

Chris Allen – This singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, CA really impressed me with his vocal approach that effortlessly switched between a normal register and falsetto-like high notes.  Another aspect that distinguishes this gentleman is the fact that there are twenty three musicians who at one time or another play in his band.  Based on the couple of songs I’ve heard thus far, I’m willing to suggest that they are all very good musicians.  Similar artists include Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd, and The Eagles.  This is music worth hearing.

Song Sample – “When Your Walls Are Down” 

Tripo9 – When was the last time a musician played something that soothed your very soul?  Yeah, it’s been a while for me too.   But then I came across the song submission from this gentleman out of Bronx, NY.  Waveriders, I was swept away by this man’s graceful voice!  His sound is a mix of alternative, dance, and Afro-pop.  Similar artists include Seal and Tracy Chapman.  The bottom line is if you need some peace injected in your day, this is the man to see.

ReverbNation Page –
Song Sample – “How Do People Live” 



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tsar Bomb – Neowarfare

Sometimes a good musical pummeling is just what you need.  I would never want to be physically pummeled, that doesn’t feel good at all.  But a good, metal pummeling is just what the doctor ordered sometimes.  You put on the music, it kicks the shit out of you and all is right with the world.

Which is what I wanted when I listened to this release, and I knew I was probably going to get it as I had heard an EP from this band earlier in the year.  It didn’t prepare me for the full onslaught of this full length, though.  This is some brutal music right here.  I guess that when you name your band after the largest atomic bomb ever detonated, which resulted in the largest artificial explosion in the history of mankind, you kind of have something to live up to.  Tsar Bomb fully live up to their namesake.

Hailing from Malaga, Spain, these guys absolutely take no prisoners.  This album is full of songs about the destructive capabilities of mankind, the different weapons of mass destruction we have created to do in our fellow human beings on a massive scale.  And, as their press release puts it, “as Lucifer looks on in sadistic pleasure”.

These guys straight get after it.  Another band that has created a very good black/death hybrid, this is very well written and executed music.  Listening to this is gonna hurt, and definitely will leave a mark.  And that is why we listen.  I do not want something bland, something generic that I have heard a hundred times before.  I want music that kicks my ass and does it in a way that hasn’t happened before.  And there is something about European metal that is different, heavier, more evil and nihilistic than the American counterpart.  Go ahead, argue with me if you want, but it’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

Tracks that I love from this release?  “Nuclear Feast” has some killer riffs and makes great use of riffs that are played in unison as the band really tears it up.  “Zyklon-B For The Human Race” is a great example of what this band is capable of as they slow it down and still manage to be brutal as fuck.  And as far as song titles, nothing is more brutal Zyklon-B, the pesticide turned agent of death by the Nazis and their gas chambers.  Title track “Neowarfare” just rips from beginning to end with some truly pummeling beats and speedy playing.  And album closer “Nammu” just hits all the right spots for me.

I also have to mention the drums.  They are programmed, but they sound like a real drummer, which is the way it should be.  Many times programmed drum tracks wind up being very generic sounding and you can totally tell they were programmed.  I did not know these were until I read the notes.  Kudos to the band for that.

This is a new band definitely worth checking out.  They have something to say and do so in their own voice, which is harder to do all the time as metal lurches along.  Many bands have come along, many styles have been established, and to be able to stand out is a big accomplishment.  Dig this album now and look forward to many more great things from Tsar Bomb.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Monks of Mellonwah - Neurogenesis EP

No idea where the band is coming from with their name, but I know exactly where they're going with their music.  No way to get fancy here, I'm gonna cut to the chase.  This is simply fantastic modern progressive rock in the vein of our own Fen, Muse or even Headspace.  The title cut just bleeds melody, as if someone cut the jugular of the melody-holding God and let it spill like manna from heaven all over this track.  The guitar tone fits somewhere right inbetween beautiful and rocking, so it can fit any mood; aggressive or pensive.  I dig the singers voice too.  Far too often this sort of modern rock gets ruined by overly-whinny or fey vocals.  Not here.  His voice is clean and pure, not too high-pitched or falsely heavy.  Add in the harmony vocals of a song like "Neverending Spirit" and the vocal work here is simply sublime. 

I must've listened to this EP 15 or 20 times by now and just can't find a flaw.  Impeccably crafted, progressive pop and definitely deserving of a larger audience. 

But don't take my word for it.  The Monks are coming off their big win for "Best Indie Rock Artist" at the Artists in Music Awards 2012, and have been nominated for best International Artist by the LA Music Awards.  Now, you know as well as I do that winning awards really has no bearing on the quality of the music, but it does here.  Neurogeneis is chock full of "huge" sounding songs; songs that all build and reverberate, and soar and climax.  Songs that provide a big payoff for the listener, whether in emotion, or power, or that stuck-to-the-brain chorus.

Top-flight musicianship, songwriting that is indelibly tight, melodies of grace and power, and enough muscle and chops to keep everything rooted in solid rock.  A big future awaits these guys. 


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Set It Off - Cinematics

As I sit here listening to Set It Off’s debut full length album Cinematics, I try to find the words to describe the auditory excellence pouring out of my speakers.  The words aren’t coming to me easily.  They don’t fit into my usual “dark” style of music that I enjoy.  They’re definitely pop rock, but there is something so much more to them. 

    It all begins with front man Cody Carson.  By far, he’s the most incredible vocalist I have heard this side of Dustin Kensrue.  His voice is a Swiss Army Knife.  His beautiful singing ability and melodic runs can give way to intense screams and wails.  It’s very rare for a singer of this type of music to be able to truly convey a sense of anger and emotion in his music without it coming off as forced.  His lyrical content is as heartfelt as any I’ve heard.  In “Dad’s Song”, Carson croons about his deceased father over an orchestral piano and synth violin in a way that makes one almost tear up.  He beautifully sings the words “I finally wrote your song at last, sorry that this one came out so sad, every tear I had was shed for the man that gave me a better sense of life and meaning, to motivate, there’s no shortcut to success, I’ll wait for his guiding hands, my guardian angel until the very end”.  It’s a gorgeous song, and a definite highlight on an album chock full of them. 

    Every song is lyrically from the heart.  It’s easily relatable and very real.  His vocal performance drives this home.  It’s an incredible mix of heart, grit, and truth.  I absolutely love it.

    Now, for the music.  It’s well produced without having that “overdone” quality that some major bands have.  The album has a sticker on it that says “for fans of My Chemical Romance and Panic at the Disco”.  I don’t think those words do this band justice. 

    While they share a similar punk-pop vibe, there is some major orchestration underneath the guitar driven rock.  I’m talking full symphonies on every song.  Synth violin, trumpet, piano, clarinets, other strings, it’s a buffet of sounds that comes together in the most impressive and beautiful way. 

    That’s not to say that the band can’t throw down.  There are breakdowns and parts of songs that sound absolutely brutal.  If I had to compare these guys to any major artists, it would be Emery, Thrice, and I might keep the Panic reference.  They are heavy, but they don’t try to hide the fact that they see beauty in music. 

    My band had the pleasure of opening up for them in Columbia, South Carolina.  They top off this
incredible album by having one of the best live shows I have ever seen, and I have been to a ton.  The energy is intense.  Carson is electric as a front man.  He gets into the audience and engages them in a way that seems so natural that you just feel he is singing for you.  His band doesn’t stop moving.  Maxx Danziger, Dan Clermont, Zach DeWall, and Austin Kerr deserve an amazing amount of credit for the energy they bring to the stage and the album. 

    I have never been this impressed with a group that I had never heard of before.  They deserve every bit of success and popularity I feel they are about to get.  Please, I implore you… download or purchase Cinematics.  This orchestral rock band will not disappoint you.  This is easily one of my favorite (if not the favorite) albums of 2012. 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rick Wakeman - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth

It has been a trying week.  Nothing seemed to go as planned.  Drama and misfortune permeated the atmosphere.  I just wanted to escape.

Yes escape, but not in a fog of self medication.  This had to be soothing, yet adventurous.  I had the urge to travel in mind and imagination away from my daily grind, trials and tribulations.  I wanted to be here but feel as if I was somewhere else - just for a little while.

There's nothing new in that.  Long before recording, TV, even telephones, science fiction writers would sell dime store novels that allowed the reader to escape, at least for a few hundred pages, into an exciting parallel universe of the unknown where the physics of reality were a bit skewed.

One of the best of these early escapist tales is "A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth",  written by French born science fiction writer Jules Verne and first published in 1864. It would later be published alongside other Jules Verne works, such as "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea"  and "Around The World In Eighty Days", as "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth."  Verne's stories explored impossible feats and journeys into the then unknown.  The tales are yarns and speculations about what man would find should he undertake these journeys or perform these feats.  Verne was writing at the start of the Industrial Revolution and there was a sense that man would soon turn these speculations into scientific fact.

I considered pulling out the Kindle and downloading an escapist book to read but I was really too tired to focus on reading and just wanted to let the evening wash over me.  I started to flip through my music collection and suddenly remembered a progressive rock gem of a recording from my high school days. Back in 1974 composer and keyboard player Rick Wakeman took leave from the band Yes to produce a series of solo recordings. One of them was a grandiose interpretation of Jules Verne's 1864 novel.  Because the cost to produce the album in a studio would have been prohibitive Wakeman recorded the album live during the second of two concerts at the Royal Festival Hall in London. To compose and perform the album Wakeman hand-picked the musicians, vocalists and the London Symphony Orchestra to help him with the endeavor.   Although Wakeman sought Richard Harris as the narrator, he rejected the job and Wakeman ultimately settled on actor David Hemmings as the narrator. 

I quickly looked up the album, started it and eased back in the recliner. For forty minutes Wakeman, his keyboards, band, the London Symphony Orchestra, narrator and live audience, took me on an adventurous orchestrated sojourn through the crust, mantle, caves and underworld before returning me to the surface. Wakeman's keyboards are mesmerizing, the points and counter points, chorales echo as if in cavernous spaces; it is an aural motion picture.  The soundtrack is provided; you provide the movie.

As the album ended I felt refreshed and invigorated.  I was again ready to tackle the challenges of the skin atop this world.  I had returned from my Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.  Man, what a ride!

- Old School

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