Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blackfinger - S/T

Holy hell, you hear?! Holy hell! 2013 is not over yet and here we have a contender for album of the year 2014. I am not kidding you waveriders. In reality I shouldn't be so awestruck since I have had the privilege to see Blackfinger live. But as great their self-titled debut is I was caught off-guard as the band steam rolled me and then some.

Formed and fronted by one of doom's most legendary singers, Eric Wagner, Blackfinger has taken their time to release their first album. About four years in the making, the guys knew that allowing themselves time a beast would be unleashed on an expectant audience. And what a wise decision it was not to rush things because 'Blackfinger' is as good as it gets.

Having brought in Rico Bianchi and Doug Hakes on guitars, Ben Smith on bass, and Larry Piatz on drums, Eric's desire to create new and excellent music must have been a revelation for him with these guys on board. There's such a perfect flow to everything they do and it sounds so relaxed. So when I start to peel 'Blackfinger' and layer upon layer of intricate parts unfold, the ease they play all this with is flabbergasting. Add the emotions Eric brings out in the lyrics with his voice and you have massive album in your hands.
I rarely review an album song for song but with 'Blackfinger' I feel inclined to. There's something significant to say about each composition, so please indulge me if you will.

Starting out with 'I Am Jon' bold but great move. Most times it's a commercial suicide not opening with a blistering rocker, however this is not your ordinary wax. Slow, melancholic, foreboding and eerie the song is one to burn the midnight oil to, while contemplating thoughts and questions about life. 'Yellowood' picks up the pace with earth shattering riffs leading the way. Where 'I Am Jon' was the end of dark times this one gives you solace and piece of mind, where you can heal and reconstruct yourself. I find myself bouncing off the walls unable to restrain any kind of order when 'Why God' is unleashed. While Ben and Larry are laying down the law and groove on bass and drums respectively, Rico and Doug demolish what little resistance there is left in me with some amazing riffs. 'On Tuesday Morning' is for the most part a slow beautiful almost trippy creation but it virtually explodes in the chorus. To me this song represents the whole album, at least musically. What I mean is, the way it goes back and forth between different tempos is exactly how the songs on 'Blackfinger' are placed. Doing it this way gives the album room to breathe and it grows more cause each listen brings different nuances. All that could have been lost if it was done differently, instead the band has recorded a truly amazing album.

'As Long As I'm With You' is reflective and melancholic in nature and draws a lot from Pink Floyd musically. And I mean that in the best possible way. A piano and a cello takes the center stage along with Eric and they are backed only by Ben and Larry. Off the wall - no pun intended - just like Floyd did it but if you have the talent and confidence it will work, as it does here. It's a very beautiful track, indeed. Making up for their omission on the previous song, Rico and Doug are riffing ferociously through the beast that 'Here Comes The Rain' is. Picking up the pace my walls are shaking as the unrelentless twin-guitar attack give no respite. ' Keep Fallin' Down' brings 'I Am Jon' to mind although this one is semi-acoustic and very introspective lyrically. The heaviness returns with 'My Many Colored Days'. It's not a romper stomper kind of rocker but a mixture of heavy doom and psychedelia especially leading up to the blistering solo in the middle. Great stuff indeed!

The Pink Floyd influences return on 'For One More Day' although Eric reminds me of David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust era. A great kind of trippy song with a fantastic guitar solo...just close your eyes and drift away you hear! Going into bulldozer mode on 'All The Leaves Are Brown' Blackfinger simply crushes. The rhythm section keeps pounding me into the ground while the guitars shreds me to bits. Short, sweet and brutal and I absolutely love it. The band ends their debut with a groovy, heavy knuckleduster in the shape of 'Till Death Do Us Part'. And they couldn't have chosen a better way either. Coming at me like a prizefighter I struggle to duck and dive to avoid the blows aimed at my already broken frame.

As you have noticed Blackfinger's founder, Eric Wagner, has not been mentioned much and that was deliberate on my part. When talking about him it's virtually impossible to not mention his previous band Trouble and I wanted to keep that separated from Blackfinger...for the simple reason that they are two different entities. True, Eric is Trouble in many ways especially because of his remarkable voice but to be quite honest Blackfinger makes Trouble look like your average band.

It's been a very long time since I heard Eric sing on an album and I am absolutely stunned. You can tell he has wanted this for a long time because there is so much passion, emotion and fire in his voice. And best of all he sounds better than ever! This long wait for Eric's return is more than worth it since he has given us an incredible album.

Welcome back!

- Swedebeast

The Grime Weighs in on the Year in Music that was 2013

Sooo.....I’m notoriously hard to please when it comes to listening to music.  Shocker. Turns out, I’m not real shy about it either.  I listen to a bunch of it.  I just don’t like all of it.  Even with what seems to be an abundance of fresh jams every year ends with me scrambling to put together my “best of” list.  Well, this year I was prepared.  What I wasn’t really prepared for was the onslaught of the dark and heavy retro doom that swept the first quarter or so of the year.

The drab and dreary months of late Winter and early Spring were filled with retro occult loving groups from Europe, such as Kadavar and Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, and retro-power rock groups like Scorpion Child.  Ghost (B.C., ...whatever) probably sold the most records which is to say that they actually sold some.  However, I still wasn’t impressed.  If you ask me, Satan was the biggest winner there.  Well, him and Ozzy.  Definitely not Bill Ward.  I don’t know if having Bill on board would have made the Tony Iommi snooze fest that they called 13 any more tolerable or not, but it set the tone.  Have the old gods fallen?  Nah.  Not really, it just didn’t move past what they were doing 20 years ago.  Maybe they really did forget the 70‘s.  With Black Sabbath’s stolen wizard’s staff, Orchid’s new album got a praise.  They wish they remembered the 70’s something fierce.  They also had a lot of decent help out of Metal Blade Records.  It seems that stoner rock is now worth their time along with Nuclear Blast, Napalm Records, and other established underground metal labels.  I just thought we liked this stuff to get away from metal?  I could be alone on this and that’s cool.  It’s a good sign.  The scene has grown.

There were plenty of good releases but this was the year of the label.  We saw a BUNCH of labels pop up or add stoner bands to their roster.  STB Records and Lay Bare Recordings certainly made some great records happen.  Ripple Music had another stellar year of releases, many of which are making year end lists.  Small Stone snatched up some serious talent this year with some surprises like Sweden’s Jeremy Irons and The Ratgang Malibus and very understandable signings like Neon Warship.  I’m anxiously awaiting a new Lo-Pan record like the rest of the world.  It’s going to make for a serious 2014.  That’s the good news and it’s barely scratching the surface. 

Still, the bands who released their own records and promoted them without a label showed up strong.  That’s my favorite part. You never know who is going to step on a fuzz pedal next and that’s exciting.  While the year was slow to start for my listening pleasure, the rest of the year was filled with more good records than I could have possibly listened to.  Soo....meat and potatoes, anyone?

In my ever so humble opinion, these are the top 20 records that are the best stoner rock records of 2013. 

1.)  Sasquatch - IV

I didn’t think I was much of a Sasquatch fan before this record came out.  Boy, was I was wrong.  Just about everything that I thought was missing from the records that came out this year found their way into my ears via IV.  IV takes number one on my list by the simple reasoning that I played the shit out of it for a month straight without really listening to anything else on my IPod.   Ok, not really, but pretty much the truth there.  Most repeated track:  Drawing Flies.

2.)  All Them Witches - Lightning At The Door

These guys are something.  I can’t find anything to gripe about on their record except that they didn’t let anyone know that they were releasing it.  Well, it certainly caught my attention.   I thought it was a ballsy move and it paid off.  Lightning At The Door is everything I want to listen to in a rock record.  In fact, I made a conscious decision to make sure I didn’t play it to death as to extend the freshness of it.  It’s still doing it for me.  This is my vote for band that needs signed the more than anyone else at the moment. 

While I’m at it, these guys are totally from Nashville and not from Memphis.  Sorry about that, dudes.

3.)  Clutch - Earth Rocker

I was relieved that I loved this record.  After Mick left the band there was a hole in the sound that needed filled.   Well, Earth Rocker doesn’t suck and they tightened it up a whole lot more since Strange Cousins From The West.  It in fact rocks the Earth...hard.  I waited for the hype of the record to die down before I listened to it.  It was well worth the wait.  It’s still getting played regularly on my speakers and headphones.   I think everyone needs a little DC Sound Attack!!! in there life.

4.)  Mos Generator - In Concert

I had some time to catch up on some bands that I might not have really dug my teeth into as much as I wanted to over the past few years when I was stuck in the satan worshipping, bong huffing retro doom vortex.  Mos Generator’s live record was perfect for that.  Recorded on tour with the big bad grand daddy of doom, St. Vitus, it straight up jams with tracks from one end of their catalog to the other.  They toured the shit out of the beginning of the year and this record is the proof on how they destroyed where they treaded.  Also of note, this is the first release from Lay Bare Recordings.  I’m excited to see what happens with the label. 

5.)  The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic - S/T

Ed Mundell is a beast!  Returning to where he left off with The Atomic Bitchwax, Ed put together a super trippy, jammed out instrumental record early in the year and it shreds in the nicest way possible.  It was my shining light during Ghost and Uncle Acid’s reign (btw, nothing against them...I just don’t dig it),  UEMG’s psychedelic hard rock was definitely some of the best released this year.  I really think that an Allman Brothers Band fan could sit side by side with an Electric Wizard lover and smoke a fat one in peace while grooving on this one.    I would listen to this over the last few Monster Magnet records any ol’ day.

6.)  The Flying Eyes - Lowlands

I was really anticipating Lowlands.  I dug it’s predecessor, Done So Wrong and I feel like they are just catching stride as a band.  They tour a lot.  That’s good.  They also added a producer to the process and it really helped take their sound to the next level.  Their video for ‘Under Iron Feet’ is probably the best done and my most favorite video I saw this year.  I think what The Flying Eyes are doing is working...at least in Europe.  The U.S. is going to be slow to catch on, if at all, but I do hope they go over well here with their next release.  They sure do love ‘em in Austin.

7.)  Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse

This record is probably going to be on a lot of the lists this year and for good reason.  It’s a heavy stomper with a lot of existential conundrums thrown in for good measure.  stoner/doom fans love that sort of thing.  It’s pretty heavy metal but still hangs on to the fuzzy vibe that they have done such a good job of honing over the last decade.  Ripple picked these guys up just in time to release their record.  That was a good move.  Someone needed to. 

8.)  Geezer - Gage EP

Geezer is a great band.  Their unpretentious way of heavy grooving was really something I needed to hear this year.  It reminded me of why I got into the genre in the first place and I really appreciated that.  Guitarist and singer Pat Harrington knows his stoner rock and it shows.  For the nerds, he also does The Electric Beard of Doom podcast.  Released on STB records, The Gage EP is a great record to listen to if you are stuck in a rut.  It was that for me at least.  Suggestion:  Roll up your Sunday gage when listening.

9.)  The Heavy Eyes - Maera

I have a feeling that every time The Heavy Eyes release a record it will make my best of list.  These guys have it down cold.  Fuzzy, groovy, retro-reverent, and all around fun to listen rock and roll that falls perfectly in the stoner groove.  I don’t know why they haven’t been picked up by a label here in the U.S.  Maybe they don’t tour enough.  I don’t know.  Their records are fantastic. 
Highly suggested track:  One Hand On The Buffalo and all the rest of ‘em too.

10.)  Left Lane Cruiser - Rock Them Back To Hell

I’m from Indiana and I can tell you that voodoo isn’t something that we know a lot about around here except in the cases of my boss’s Cuban daughter-in-law and Left Lane Cruiser.  They have got serious juju.  LLC only get stronger with every release.  Their reverence for roots music mixed with their seriously hard rocking delta-punk tendencies make for a sound to make your back bone slip every time.  They’ll “paralyze ya” just like they said they would.  
File under:  Hard Lessons In Rock and Roll and Play It Fucking Loud

These records are also very much worth your time to get to know and stood head and shoulders above most of the rock music that I listened to this year.

11.)  Tumbleweed Dealer - S/T
12.)  Luder - Adelphophagia
13.)  The Dirty Streets - Blades of Grass
14.)  The Golden Grass - “One More Time/ Tornado 7”
15.)  Gozu - Fury Of A Patient Man
16.)  Summoner - Atlantian
17.)  Pater Nembrot - Extended Pyramid EP
18.)  Neon Warship - S/T
19.)  Black Pussy - Galaxies
20.)  Vista Chino - Peace

While I have your attention, I want to give a shout to Grip of Delusion Radio for fighting the good fight and trying to blow this shit up with your internet radio station, Slade’s Stoner Rock BBQ for being the coolest stoner rock themed blog on the planet, The Electric Beard of Doom for being the best stoner rock podcast, and Paranoid Hitsophrenic for the amazing job of cataloging and organizing the doom charts into something worth reading every week.  I also officially nominate Bill Goodman as the official Patron Saint of Stoner Rock.  All in favor?  Cool.   Finally, The Ripple Effect couldn’t have been anymore welcoming and tolerant of my questionable writing skills and opinions.  Why?  I have no clue.  However, you guys help keep me sane and I appreciate it more than you know.  Cheers! 

Year End Best - The Kiddies in the Pool Weigh In

The Swedebeast's top eleven list of 2013

1. Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose
2. Beelzefuzz - Beelzefuzz
3. Admiral Browning - Give No Quarter
4. Iron Man - South Of The Earth
5. Samsara Blues Experiment - Waiting For The Flood
6. Argus - Beyond The Martyrs
7. Ihsahn - Das Seelenbrechen
8. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
9. Monster Magnet - Last Patrol
10. Trilogy - Burned Alive
11. Kimi Kärki - The Bone Of My Bones

There could have been so many more but I have to draw the line somewhere. 2013 has been such a great year for heavy music.

Odin's Top Ten List for 2013

1.    Carcass – Surgical Steel  When a band goes 16 years between releases, you really hope that they don't embarrass themselves and tarnish their legacy.  Mission accomplished, and then some.
2.    Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed This band has come so far, and this album is so good
3.    Lux Interna – there is light in the body, there is blood in the sun  Amazing album that showed me a very different side of heavy
4.    Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt  This veteran band just continues to impress with their growth.  Many gave up on them years ago.  Your loss.
5.    Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu  Psychedelic space black metal.  Bet you never thought you'd hear that category. 
6.    Watain – The Wild Hunt  The band that you smell before you see flips the black metal script and does it oh so well.
7.    Satyricon – S/T  What can I say, I just love this album
8.    Batillus – Concrete Sustain  Heavy, droning grooves, pummeling drums, freaky keyboard sounds and samples.  Yes please!!
9.    Call Of The Void – Dragged Down A Dead End Path  Put the band name and album title together and you pretty much know what this sounds like.  Nasty, brutal feel good music.
10.    Cnoc An Tursa – The Giants Of Auld  This release really surprised me.  Some pagan metal that I can actually enjoy.  We want more!!

The Professors Top 10

1.    The Ocean- Pelagial
This album is the run-away winner for me in 2013.  This album is best listened to in one sitting, as the descent from the surface to the depths is mesmerizing.  Incredible vocals surround an amazing metal package.  This is one of my favorite albums of all time.

2.    Protest the Hero-Volition
This is the best album made by this incredible shred band.  Listening to Protest the Hero is a unique experience.   It provides the brutal riffage of a metal band, with the incredible clean singing of a rock band.  Crazy good.  

3.    By the Bull- The Witch

This album has it all.  Incredible depth, amazing vocals, and some of the best drumming I’ve heard all year.  This has “classic” written all over it for my personal library. 

4.    This Town Needs Guns-
A completely unique album, TTNG (as they are now called) has music that is difficult to describe.  It is beautiful and haunting, yet catchy.  This was a fantastic discovery. 
5.    Vorov- Vorov

Brutal.  Destructive.  Primal.  All words that describe Godzilla.  Vorov would be the Soundtrack to Godzilla.  If he was real.  I don’t know.  Great album from some great musicians, and the best “truly heavy” album to come out this year. 

6.    O’Brother- Disillusion
This album’s haunting brilliance will stick with me for a long time.  Heavy, sludgy, yet with a rock sensibility that makes them easily digestible.  One of the most intricate listens of the year. 

7.    Fusebox Poet- Who Are You Now?
This music is high-energy, emotionally charged, well-produced, and completely awesome.  Quick rock with organ?  I’m sold.  Singer Drew Cyphers hard charging and gorgeous vocals make this a one of a kind band.

8.    Death of Paris- Gossip
Jayna Doyal puts on the vocal performance of the year on Death of Paris’s new release.  Slickly written and impressively orchestrated by the instrumentalists, this is a perfect pop-rock package that doesn’t sacrifice musicality and expression for cheesy hooks or dance beats.  This is legitamete musicians making pop… and it is so, so good. 

9.    The Lonely Island- The Wack Album
I  know, I know… this isn’t a very “Ripple Effect” choice.  But hate away… I laughed my ass off. 

10.    Tesseract- Altered State
This album would be higher on my list if so many songs didn’t run together.  However, the vocals are amazing, and the grooves are tight.  It’s wonderfully heavy and dense.  Just a great album. 

You asked for out Top 10 of the year…tough call there have been some great releases this year and whittling it down to 10 is a real trial but here you go…they’re numbered but I honestly can’t really put them into an order.

Ollie's Top Ten

1)       Clutch – Earth Rocker

2)       Five Horse Johnson – The Taking Of Black Heart

3)       Motorhead – Aftershock

4)       Wild Eyes – Get Into It

5)       Carousel – The Jeweller’s Daughter

6)       Black Spiders – This Savage Land

7)       Black Sabbath – 13

8)       Hot Lunch – S/T

9)       Gonga – Concresence

10)   Carcass – Surgical Steel

Honourable mentions go to Mos Generator, Black Star Riders, Goat Leaf, Ape Machine, Mothership, Devil To pay, Larman Calmor, Luder, Blues Pills.

There you go…if you haven’t already checked out Wild Eyes and Carousel you should!!!!

Penfold's Top Ten Of 2013

In alphabetical order

Corsair - Corsair
dUg Pinnick - Naked
Gogol Bordello - Pura Vida Conspiracy
Greenhouse - Bend But Don't Break
House Harkonnen - Vol. 7
Janelle Monae - Electric Lady
Monsterworks - Album of Man
Russkaja - Energia!
Sgt. Sunshine - III
Zud - The Good, The Bad And The Damned

Honorable Mentions & Albums I Discovered Too Late

All Good Funk Alliance - Jacks of All Trades
Bangladeafy! - The Briefcase
Conny Ochs - Black Happy
deM AtlaS - Charle Brwn EP
Elvis Costello And The Roots - Wise Up Ghost
Moon Tooth - Freaks EP
Random - TRAP / River City Random / Castlevania: The Nocturnal Cantata
Thesis - All Mixed Up

Srikanth Panaman – Bevar Sea

Vhöl – Vhol

Members of Ludicra, Yob, and Agalloch get together for this awesomely fun black/d-beat project. Hope there’s more coming from these chaps.

Hatriot – Heroes Of Origin

Zetro is probably my favourite thrash singer along with Bobbly Blitz, so him making a comeback and with music more rooted in classic thrash than what Exodus has been doing since Zetro’s departure has been very welcome. He thrashes out with two of his kids that too. Talk about proper parenting. Killer thrash, as long as you can look past the corny band name.

Leslie West – Still Climbing

What a fucking monster of an album from the man himself. The only thing I would’ve had it differently would’ve been to not have these guests on his tunes. Leslie is a beast, his guitar tone is roaring and his songs and singing are top notch. This is the best heavy blues can get, but please – we don’t want Tremonti wanking over this.

Iron Man – South of the Earth

Maryland doom represent! This is also their best sounding album to date.

Monster Magnet – Last Patrol

It’s finally hit them that they should be doing the more psychedelic heavy rock instead of trying to capture the QOTSA market with repeated duds. This is a glorious return to form from the band.

Windhand – Soma

One of the best releases this year, plagued only by the over-indulgent last song where a riff keeps looping for over 10 minutes. Amazing doom record.

Church Of Misery – Thy Kingdom Scum

Holy moly. As kick ass as ever, and of course nothing new with the sound, just new serial killers to write songs about. Exactly what you expect from a CoM album.

Age of Taurus – Desperate Souls of Tortured Times

Great Candlemass style classic doom from the UK.

Victor Griffin’s In-Graved

This was a great little new project from one of doom’s legendary guitarists. Always a treat to hear him sing as well.

Entrails – Raging Death

This is the most fun I had listening to a death metal album this year. Lots of bands are now doing the Sunlight Studios thing, but not many are having as much fun as these guys are. Great production, great songs, trippy solos et al.

Spiritual Beggars – Earth Blues

The previous album was their worst yet, but this was a great return to form for the band. If you can imagine Michael Schenker playing for Deep Purple or Rainbow, you’re somewhere in the ballpark. Just a great sounding album all round as well. Appollo on vocals is doing so much better on this one.

Legend – The Dark Place

I don’t even remember much of their classic album from back in the day, at least not as much as I remember the likes of Satan or Pariah or Pagan Altar, but this album was so good.

Dragonauta – Omega Pentagram

Crushing doomy proggy metal from Argentina. One of my earlier favourites this year.

Satan – Life Sentence

This would be my best album this year as far as guitar playing goes. The rest of the band bring it too. So good to have these guys back.

Hail of Bullets – III The Rommel Chronicles

Goddamn, these guys dropped another new one this year, and have made it into a concept album about one of the most interesting characters from the world wars, Rommel. More punishing Bolt Thrower style death metal from these Dutchies.

Inquisition – Obscure Verses For The Multiverse

I’m not even sure if any of this is black metal, because I get the feeling that Dagon has been listening to a lot of 80s hard rock and metal. The Marshally guitar tone is in full force here with the tasty mid-range, the drums are very natural and heavy sounding, and Dagon’s voice is as mesmerising as ever. Essential album for anyone even remotely interested in black metal.

Beyond – Fatal Power of Death

Ironbonehead productions has been on a roll this year, and this German death metal band produced a true gem. Hard to pin-point the sound but they definitely draw from the classic American death metal bands from Florida and NY, and have a very dirty murky production. If you have to listen to one death metal album this year, let it be this.

New Keepers Of The Water Towers – Cosmic Child

One of my most played albums this year. Imagine Pink Floyd circa Echoes played doom metal, and you’d get something like this. A little heavier second half of the album would’ve make this perfect, but damn, this was one hell of an album nevertheless.

Cathedral – The Last Spire

What a way to bow out! The last album was a bit of a cut+paste referential prog rock endeavour, but they’ve brought the doom back and how! Total madness.

Kongh – Sole Creation

More Swedish goodness. These guys are doing what I wished Mastodon would do after Leviathan came out ten years ago.

Other contenders:

Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum
Anagnorisis – Beyond All Light
Altar Of Plagues – Teethed Glory & Injury
Raven Black Night – Barbarian Winter
Motörhead – Aftershock
Inter Arma – Sky Burial
Sasquatch – IV
Ulcerate – Vermis
Trouble – The Distortion Field
Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats – Mind Control
Saxon – Sacrifice
Manilla Road – Mysterium
Sgt. Sunshine – III
Voivod – Target Earth
Egypt – Become The Sun

Rhythm Slayer's, in no particular order, a dozen reasons to celebrate a spectacular year in

Most brutally emotional aural experience/Most potent f-bomb: "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu", Neko Case

You better be sitting down when you listen to this one, nestled in the middle of
Neko's latest brilliant full-length offering. A harrowing, minimalist first
person account of her happening onto a mother suddenly and viscerally launching
to a barrage of hateful abuse on her child.  When Neko validates the experience
for the benefit of the unnamed five year old girl, if you don't choke up and
feel the chill in your bones, check into a morgue.


Latest proof that the Clash is the greatest band to ever have walked the earth -
Sound System

Fans of the only band that matters should dig deep and shell out the money for
this comprehensive document of the band's brilliance, not to mention posters,
stickers, and assorted SWAG, if only for spectacular alternate versions of
"Pressure Drop" and "Capital Radio", plus two 'brand new' tracks "Idle in
Kangaroo Court" and "Beautiful People are ugly too",  buried on one of the 3 cds
chock full of extras outtakes and live versions (ok, by the umpteenth iteration
of 1977, I think even I had had enough...).  These two heretofore unknown
nuggets from the Combat Rock era that might not come close to bumping your
favorite Clash song theirs off its perch (actually, it would be fairly
shocking), but they are enjoyable nonetheless.


Best conjuring of the ghost of Sid Vicious:
"Johnny Bagga Donuts", Palma Violets

One of the standout tracks from the immensely promising debut from this
London-based quartet features maniacally peripatetic bass player Chili Jesson on
lead vocals in place of the more sublime crooning of guitarist Samuel Fryer, and
here's one emphatic vote for seeing Chili take on more of a leadership role in
their next project.  Melodic power chords and anthemic harmonies summon up Stiff
Little Fingers but when Chili barks and flails around during his leadership
turn, the lanky bassist is the one who comes to mind first.


Most effective use of profanity:
"Hip Hop Kids", Portugal the Man

Check these lyrics from the strongest track on PtM's Danger Mouse-produced

Yeah the punks are tough
But those rock and rollers...
All the hip hop kids
Think we give a shit well...
We don't, we don't, we don't..


Bam!  Take that, you naysayers who think there's no room on mainstream radio for
glam-rock channeling, P-Funk loving Alaskans...

Best intersection of quality alt music and mass popular culture:
"Trouble Ahead", Little Hurricane

Apple's use of the Fratelli's "Flathead" to hawk its IPod was recently cited in
this space as a positive example of the positive effect that mass marketing
might have on a good band's fortunes.  Well, when the smokin blues licks of this
San Diego duo smoldered in the background in the latest Doritos promotion of its
locos tacos brand, one can only hope that legions of new followers will be
turned on to their White Stripes-influenced stripped down but bodaciously
boisterous jams.


Most deserving of massive mainstream success:
Tie, "Thrift Shop", Maclemore, and "Royals", Lorde

Hard not to root for a stand-up guy who wedded the year's most devastatingly
headnodding beat with quirkily catchy lyrics so accessible that my six year old
daughter raps along, and ditto for the spectacularly promising,
poised-beyond-her-years crooner from New Zealand who recalls the best of Bjork
and Kate Bush while staking out her own niche with her arachnidlike twitchy
dance moves.

Most devastating 1-2 punch to open an album "Do I Wanna Know" and "R U Mine",
Arctic Monkeys

Blistering guitars, sophisticated and nuanced lyrics brimming with psychosexual
tension, scorching rhythm section - all there in buckets.  Too bad the album
falls precipitously off a cliff from there on out, though i realize I'm in the
minority there.  I for one am rooting Alex and the boys cool their jets on the
Memphis Brylcream-soaked honky tonk ethos and stick a little closer to Sheffield
roots on their next release.  Does anyone think Get Happy is Elvis Costello's
greatest work?  Yeah, me neither.

Song that lasts about 4 minutes that one wishes went on for 20 more (and song of
the year for my money):
"Afterlife", Arcade Fire

The band's Reflektor cd blazes a wide swath of ambition, and not everything
works perfectly, but this keyboard-driven jam with the rhapsodic chorus, evoking
memories of Talking Heads' epic "Once in a Lifetime" three decades earlier, was
crafted with such irresistably dynamic energy that you WILL blast it out of your
car window.  And memo to Noel Gallagher, who spewed the hate at the band for
"reverting" to disco - you broke the code - apparently you and Patrick Carney
weren't listening when your moms told you that if you can't say something nice,
be quiet.  You may now go back to rooting for the Clippers of Manchester (recent
thrashing of Arsenal and qualification for the next round of the Euros
notwithstanding), and leave the critique of genre-defying awesome North American
bands to us , thanks very much.


Stellar album that made you yearn that they'd snuck in a cover of "Surfin Bird"
- "Trouble will find me", the National

Brilliant album of the year contender that far eclipses their last offering High
Violet, but my goodness, guys, lighten up a little?  Please?  Thankfully Matt
Berninger peppers his live shows with playfully self-deprecating humor inbetween
songs or we'd be forever drooping our heads in pathos.


Most disappointing collaboration -
"Wise Up Ghost", Elvis Costello and the Roots

Well I guess I just ignored my own rule as soon as I stated it, but I will be
respectful at least. I was salivating when I heard the legendary English
songwriter paired up with the equally legendary Philly hip hop crew but the
resulting album was astonishingly anemic.  Not sure why lead rapper Black
Thought was nowhere to be found, but he appears to have been the smartest in the
room for making himself scarce.  But, still glad to see genre-busting projects
even when they don't quite work.

Most unabashedly pleasant paean to 70s love songs

"A Place to Start", White Denim
Irresistable if a little saccharine closer to another album of the year
candidate.  Seals and Crofts, anyone? And, can we just enshrine this woefully
unknown, infinitely likeable Austin-based quartet a place in the rock n roll
hall of fame yet please?


Best album inspired by another medium:

"Regions of Light and Sound of God". Jim James
One of our most talented bandleaders/jam guitarists threw us a bit of a
curveball on his first fullfledged solo release early this year.  Long on
spirituality, boppity keyboards, and genuinely positive messages, not at all
heavy on the reverb guitars, his interpretation of Lynd Ward's "God's Man"
stands tall as one of the year's most satisfying experiences.


Monday, December 30, 2013

On the Ripple Desk - Vinyl Overload; featuring Haggard, Three Man Cannon & Lee Corey Oswald, Galactic Cannibal, and Brief Lives

So much vinyl coming in, so little time.  Let's catch up.

Haggard - Various Stages of Ice

Wow!  Where'd this come from?  Self-described as "a cult rock outfit of foolish young gypsies" Haggard unleash a feast for the ears of heavy psych-vibed out heavy rock.  I'm not always a fan of female vocals in heavy rock (chauvinistic, I know) but Kerrin is simply a scene stealer here.  Her ethereal crone coming across like a stoner rock version of Siouxie Siouxx.  Tony and Chains envelope her undulating voice with alternating passages of acrid-smoke lovliness and hell-bent heaviness.  Overall, it's like some mutated heavy stoner version of the Cocteau Twins, and that's saying a lot!

The perfect combination of crushing doomy heaviness and stoned out psychedelic bliss.  I've seen no buzz about this one on the heavy sites and haven't even been able to find a review about it, but damn, don't be surprised if this doesn't make my Year-End Top Ten list. 

Three Man Cannon/ Lee Corey Oswald Split 12"

I like split LP's because you never know what you're gonna get.  Both sides here are purveyors of modern (emo-edged) punk and both bands have been lurking around the underground for awhile now.  Three Man Cannon get the better of the battle for me, because the vocals are a tad more expressive and less nasal, and their indie take on basement punk has a nice thread of Americana running through it.   However, I gotta say, I dig the chugging guitar work on Lee Corey Oswald, and these dudes know how to write a song.

Even though this brand of punk isn't really my thing, even I can tell that both bands should be rising quickly through the ranks of pop punk/emo.  Tight songwriting and catchy hooks seem destined for the big time.

Galactic Cannibal - We're All Fucked 

This is a bit more up my alley.  Straight ahead punk, snotty and growly and full of vitriol.  Bombastic hardcore without being to screamy or shouty, simply raging with pissed of bile.  Full on charging rhinocerous of thundering guitars, sneering vocals, adrenaline, bathtub meth, back-alley grime, and vomit.  Reminds me of the classic emerging hard core punk from the UK back in the day, like the Subhumans.  "Up Against the Wall," maybe simply the best punk anthem I've heard all year. 

Everything you'd expect from an album titled "We're All Fucked" and done exceptionally well.

This one's a keeper.

Brief Lives - Whistleblower 7" EP

This one was a grower for me.  It's described as 2 tracks of "angular-yet-melodic blast of DC-inspired punk rock."But that doesn't seem to sum it up for me. There's a ton going on here in these two cuts, and really, they come across as a cool blend of Quicksand-metal with a touch of grunge, a punky attitude and even a bit of shoegaze. There's a touch of Fugazi, some hints towards Henry Rollins band.  There's huge slicing guitars, angular riffs, dynamic time changes, mood shifts.  Like  I said, there's a ton going on here.   Both songs aren't afraid to drop it down to very cool mid-song breakdowns that only serve to elevate the songs.

Nothing pretentious here.  Just some quality post-Quicksand heavy rock.  Good shit.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Arrison Kirby - The Micro Jackson EP

So I’m going through my Ripple Effect email and I come across this EP called ‘The Micro Jackson EP’ by Arrison Kirby released on El Death Records.  It just looked like a good combination of words. Enough to be compelling at least.  I figured the linguist hiding in me thought it was worth the spin if there was going to be that much phonetic finesse waiting for me.  Turns out that 6 songs on The Micro Jackson EP were really worth listen.  I’m still enjoying it.

Arrison Kirby’s sound falls somewhere in that niche that holds by Beck and every other Americana and/or Indie artist this side of Minus The Bear that has delved into sampling beats and using vintage keyboards.  Arrison Kirby has a flair for it.  The sound of the record is clean, but lacks a little in the fullness department...mostly because there really isn’t a real drum set on the record.  However, clever song writing and steady musicianship from AK and crew pull it together including a a cover of Freddie Mercury’s “Living On My Own”. 

In short, I think this record will really appeal to the art school student looking for a weird band from Somewhere, Anywhereland (in this case, Knoxville).  Not that they are weird, but definitely fit the “obscure” tag well.   It’s a great little production where they obviously used what they had to work with it and that is admirable.  I’d like to hear where this Arrison Kirby guy goes with his sound.  Most guys like this fall into the musical void of the working/family life and life catches up with them.  Hopefully, even if that is the case, Arrison Kirby will avoid the chasm and continue to produce songs.  Then again, maybe he might turn into the SIngle Politician life that he sings about.  I think it could go anyway. 

  The Grime


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rocket and the Ghost – S/T EP

Brooklyn based Rocket and the Ghost describe themselves as having all the elements of a rock and roll band according to their bio however after listening to their self titled EP, I think they may have been a little too quick to pigeonhole themselves.  Reading their bio I was partly expecting a fuzz driven rock and roll assault, the reality was somewhat different, and certainly not in a bad way.

Let’s get it straight, these guys have all the ingredients of your typical ten a penny hipster band but there’s something a little more unique about them.  Rocket and the Ghost are sunshine.  Pure and simple.  Uplifting jams and stunning vocals, these guys are sprinkling a little bit of sensitivity and soul back into the world of alternative rock and indie.

A particular stand out track for me is “Howling”.  If Thunderclap Newman had decided to have more than one hit (ten points if you can get it without googling), and jammed with Radiohead, you’re probably getting close to the sound of Rocket and the Ghost, this track particularly.

Also, KEYBOARDS!  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a healthy bit of keyboard action to go along with your riffs folks, something Rocket and the Ghost have picked up on and it’s lovely to see.  Bringing back the glory days of bands such as The Hollies and mixing a fresh, almost Nashville sound, their jams are infectious and you can’t help but bop along.

This is an outstanding debut and I’ve a funny feeling we’ll be hearing quite a lot more of from these guys.  I’m really excited about listening to a full album’s worth of tracks after this nice little morsel of an EP.
Check out the track Goodbye…

P.S. Here’s the Thunderclap Newman track for good measure…

--The Rockfairy

Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau - Tennessee

How I came to Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau's Tennessee is more convoluted than the Mason-Dixon line. Through a friend, Steve Sage, a dynamic guitarist, educator trained at the Musicians Institute and music performance professor at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA, I received a student recording.  Steve thought the student's song had potential and brought the track to my attention.  It was nice enough overall, but, I thought the mandolin player was extraordinary.  I asked Steve about the mandolin and he told me it was played by a friend of his, Richie Owens, and he introduced me to him via facebook.  Thereafter, I met Owens in person at NAMM and heard him play.

Owens is a unique musician. He is homespun, edgy and entrepreneurial, with a deep sense of place, and an apparent love of Americana, roots music and American History.  His music store in Nashville, TN, "The Old Time Pickin' Parlor," is located in the same former Marathon Car factory that houses "Antique Archeology," a store of picked items by TV's American Pickers.  The Parlor is primarily dedicated to acoustic roots instruments, such as guitars, mandolins, banjos and dobros.  It also holds weekly jams.

The state of Tennessee is Richie's home.  It is where he was born, cut his teeth in the music industry as a performer and worked on product development for Gibson's lines of dobro and resonator guitars.  With the recent release of the album, Tennessee, it is apparent that Owens knows his home state, appreciates its people and history, that it is there that he truly wants to be, and that he is a hell of a songwriter.

Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau are as roots Americana as Americana can get.  Guitars, mandolins, dobros . . . this is traditional country blues, folk and bluegrass modernized into a truly Americana roots music.  It has echoes of the Cumberland Gap, the melancholy attendant the Civil War, rural industry and wild country backwoods moonshine parties.

The tracks on the album are mostly originals written by Richie with about half noting a co-writer, Albert Styles. Each song explores an aspect of one of the things Tennessee-born Owens knows best - Tennessee.
Richie explains how the album came about:

I have been writing songs about where I’m from all my life but never thought to put them together or write towards an album of songs about the place I live and was born. That is until after the Nashville flood happen [sic], the house I lived in was damaged by the flood and my family was forced to find another place to live. We were fortunate enough to find a place still in the city to rent that was close to all we like to do, it was a little stone cottage on a hill called Love Circle which overlooks Vanderbilt University and the city of Nashville, and as the landlord gave us the keys she said to me, well you know someone tied to the Grand Ole Opry used to own this place and live here, of course I wanted to know and she said do you know who George D. Hay was? Absolutely!! That’s the Solemn Old Judge, as he was known, the guy who named the Grand Old Opry as well as named most of the acts that played it when it first started. So the place already had a great vibe to it and I was already in the middle of moving my recording studio from the location it was at, I immediately set up to record and with all the history in this place and having recently reopened The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor in the old Marathon Car factory it really hit I should finally get it out of my system and make an album of songs about Tennessee. I started these recordings there in the Solemn Old Judge’s house and eventually moved the recording gear to The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor and finished them up there. This was the type of recordings it never occurred to me to do until a lot of these events happen as they did but it became a labor of love and am so happy me and the guys did it, for I feel blessed to have been raised in a family [of] story tellers and to be born and part of the great state of Tennessee.  

As I listened to Tennessee I was transported to the events described in the songs.  The music is reminiscent of The Band, Bob Dylan and the Flying Burrito Brothers, but, with a harsher tone and an occasional tinge of bluegrass.  Listen closely and you can also make out the influences of country legends such as Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Sleepy John Estes, Homer and Jethro, and Flatt and Scruggs.

Get us some good old Tennessee moonshine, put this album on and join me in the Volunteer State thanks to Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau.

 - Old School


Friday, December 27, 2013

I've Got Your 7 Inches Right Here #1 featuring Bombs of Hades and Horrifying

Bombs of Hades – Carnivores

I get a lot of music to review.  A good deal of it is full length releases that really could have done with some editing, be it in number of songs, length of songs, etc.  So I can really appreciate these 7 inch releases.  They've got a few songs, usually the bands best work, you're in, you're out, you're feeling good about that band. 7 inches is a good size, it's a good fit, it's good for both parties.  There's nothing wrong with a good 12 incher if you're ready for it, but it can be a lot to take in.  Most of the time, 7 inches is just right.

So our inaugural 7 incher comes from Bombs Of Hades.  It's called “Carnivores”.  When it first started, it sounded like it was going to be a long, dragged out affair, and since it's digital, I thought that they were just playing around with the 7” designation.  But they got right down to business and I think it's plausible you could fit these 5 songs on a 7” vinyl.  Hell some of these grindcore bands fit, like, 27 songs on a vinyl single.

This is really good death metal.  There is some very inventive song writing and every song has a really killer riff that pulls you in.  It veers a little into the melodic death metal scene and that's fine by me.  You can be brutal and melodic, I don't always want to just have the crap pummeled out of me.  I dig every song on this release.  “Necronimicus Kanth (The Hounds Of Hell)”, “Twisted Decay”, “Slaughter The Dead”, “Disrespect Their Bones”, and “Coffins” all have something a little different to offer, which shows some talent in their writing abilities, and the lyrics are well written as well.  The singer is one of those rare guys who pulls off the death metal growl in such a way that you actually understand the lyrics.  All around top notch effort and well worth your time to hunt this one down.

Horrifying – Euphoric Existence

Next up we have Horrifying with a tasty little black metal nugget called “Euphoric Existence”.  I think maybe they were having a little fun with that title because there is absolutely nothing euphoric about this release unless being chained in torment is your idea of euphoria.  Basically two songs on offer here with a short intro, this is black metal that hews pretty closely to the formula, but it is done very well.  There's even a little taste of death metal in the guitar tones used and the guitar playing itself, and that works really well with the songs.  Unlike our first band, I couldn't tell you about the lyrics because in true black fashion, they're doused in reverb, buried somewhat in the mix, and done with shrieks and growls.  Perfection. 

This one start off with the short intro, “An Agonic Death”, which leads straight into “Euphoric Existence”, so maybe what they are saying here is that once you die, the euphoria really begins.  Just my guess, I didn't create this music and don't want to put words in their mouths.  But they wouldn't be the first band to posit that theory.  “Petrifying Hallucinations” wraps things up nicely, and if you could see what those opening guitar sounds are conjuring up, I would be petrified indeed.  I love it when the music that the band comes up with matches the title of the song like that.  This is another one for which you should pop down to your local record store and look for right away.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Ripple Conversation with Dave Wyndorf- Monster Magnet

It's not everyday you get to talk to one of rock's most acclaimed main men, especially one that you have admired for a long time. I first heard Monster Magnet late in 1994 when a college friend played 'Superjudge' for me and I really liked what I heard. Then a few months later, early in 1995, 'Dopes To Inifinty' was released and that was it, Monster Magnet had me hooked. So being given the opportunity to have a one-on-one with Dave Wyndorf to discuss his band's latest magnificent album 'Last Patrol' and what the future holds, I couldn't be happier. Armed with a freshly brewed pot of coffee sitting comfortably in the morning sun on my balcony I dialed the phone number I had been given. After two rings someone picks up and "- Hi, this is Dave" greets me at the other end...and the rest is, as they say, history.

It's been three years since your last album 'Mastermind' came out. What have you been up to since then?

"- Oh, we've been touring man. Probably for a year and a half to two years, pretty much non-stop. We make the music and bring it to the people. Then I took a couple of months off to clear my head and re-charge".

And it's not hard for you to get back in writing mode after all this?

"- It definitely is! But after those months off to shake my brain I start to sketch a little bit, just to work on ideas to get back into the groove. Then I begin to piece the sketches together and eventually the old obsession "I have to finish this" kicks in and the writing process really takes off".

Most of the lyrics were apparently written in one week in February. What happened?

"- Well it was me not budgeting the time right. Apart from writing the album I produced it as well. Told the band let's hit the studio and finish the music and I'll deal with the lyrics later. We kept doing 12-hour days recording until it dawned on me the lyrics aren't done and time's running out. So I took a week off to do nothing but write the lyrics. I started each day with a huge cup of coffee and then I wrote non-stop. And I've always done it this way. Don't know why but the words come out much easier when I'm under pressure. Got to get that old fire under my feet to pull everything together and get the best out of me".

So you write everything yourself? The music as well as the lyrics?

"- Yes I do but it starts out in an almost childlike fashion. I play chords and riffs, that's about it. Leads are not for me because I'm not good at them but I want them in the songs and I know where they should go. So I sketch even more on what I have, just like a film director if you will, and then I bring the ideas to the real people, you know the guys in the band. I show them the sketches, explain what vibe I'm looking for and what direction we should aim for. So I'm like a music director".

I think it's a very bold move to start 'Last Patrol' with 'I Live Behind The Clouds' which isn't an explosive song but more of a build up kind of track. And then you end and tie up the album with 'Stay Tuned' which is in the same vein as the opener. To me it's an even bolder since most Monster Magnet albums are more in-your-face explosive rockers and now you stepped out of your box quite a bit.

"-You got it! Thanks man, it's great that you see it that way. It means a lot to me when people see where I'm coming from. I love big rock music but you can't do that all the time. And I really like albums that initiates you into the story. A build up if you will and that's what I wanted to do with 'Last Patrol'. You know, here's a journey for you, so I sequenced it that way which adds more dimensions to the music".

Is that how Donovan's 'Three King Fishers' entered the fray?

"- I wrote 16 songs for the album and I was looking at them and started to weed out the ones that weren't good enough. While going through this process I felt 'Last Patrol' needed an authentic mid-60's psych song and a knuckle dragging Black Sabbath song. I picked up my sitar and was messing around with it and I kept hearing Donovan all over my playing. So I took his song 'Three King Fishers', added some knuckle dragging parts and that was it".

Most times bands play identical versions of cover songs making them bland to say the least. But you did it the right way by keeping traces of the original version while making it your own. To me it sounds like Jethro Tull gone Stoner.

"- Yeah, I like the way you talk, Jethro Tull! I thought about that a lot. How do I take this and make it fit with Monster Magnet? It was a challenge but I did it. Turn it up in the middle and reinvent the end. Kill two birds with one stone".

Going back to 'Stay Tuned', apart from tying up and ending the album, does it also signal the end of Monster Magnet? The way the song plays out it kind of offers that question.

"- No, there will be more Monster Magnet records. I don't like to look too far into the future cause it will make my head hurt hahaha. 'Stay Tuned' is more of me day-dreaming about checking out from society which I think we all do at some point in life. You know, "I'll see you later" or "we'll see what happens". In all honesty I did toy with the idea of making 'Last Patrol' the last one though. It would make sense since this is album number ten and we've been around for over twenty years. But I have too much fun making records so I'm not going to stop".

Will there be any side projects from you?

"- There might be, or actually, most likely I should say. And that means even more music for me".

Your two previous albums, '4-Way Diablo' and 'Mastermind' are not bad but they never moved me the same way as previous Monster Magnet albums has. You said in the press release that with 'Last Patrol' you found your way back to the old Monster Magnet vibe and recording style.

"- Yeah I lost the plot a little bit with them two. A big time constraint brought a lot of that on but they were albums I had to make you know. As for coming back to Monster Magnet's roots, it was time for it. Like I said earlier we've been around for a long time, making ten albums in process and I've taken left turns and right turns along the way. But in the end I always return to the original idea of this band. And that's what happened with 'Last Patrol', the time was right".

The very moment I heard the first bars of 'I Live Behind The Clouds' all I could think was "Yes! This is how Monster Magnet should be!" Also the album works in so many ways. Regardless what frame of mind I'm in, every time I listen to it I feel good, relaxed and happy.

"- Cool, that's awesome. I'm glad cause that's what I want to hear. I'm trying to forge a new way to write and record the rock music I love without being so much in your face, the way I thought I had to write in the past. So I tried to create a collection of songs that works as a total thing and write this midnight record, if you will. It's designed to whisper in your ear "come on in, wait for this scene and this one", just like a movie. I really liked doing 'Last Patrol'¨this way".

The track order is one slower, mellow trippy song followed by a heavier, faster song and back to a more mellow. Was this intentional?

"- Yes, very much so. It's to give you a little breathing room or thinking room. Rather than releasing a full-on album similar to a live show, making 'Last Patrol' this way makes the record grow on people wanting them come back for more...which in turn makes it a more lasting release. So having the track order the way it is was definitely on purpose. I had to change the Monster Magnet song-writing formula or I would go crazy".

What are your touring plans for 'Last Patrol'?

"- We start in Michigan on November 14th and tour the States for a month. Then we head over to Europe at the end of January and stay there for a month. After that we fly out to Australia, then return to the States for the second leg of our North American tour before the festival season starts in Europe. It will be non-stop for us, man".

This is the first US tour for Monster Magnet in ten years. Why the long wait?

"- A bunch of reasons but the main reason is work is better overseas. Better shows, bigger production levels and bigger crowds. It's a bigger scene for Monster Magnet in Europe where more people are into our kind of music. Ten years ago that was gone here in America and it has been bumming me out because this is my country and I don't want to play here anymore. Hell, rock'n'roll was invented here and then no one wanted to know. There was nowhere to go for psych music, our music, so we said "fuck it, we're only playing over in Europe where people understand us". Therefore, this time around it seemed to be right. The interest in Monster Magnet has been a lot better with the release of 'Last Patrol' so now's the time to be on the road stateside. And I couldn't be happier because I've wanted this for a long, long time".

Our conversation is drawing to a close so it's time wrap things up and bid adieu to Dave. It's been a pleasure to talk to him and hear how 'Last Patrol' went from just an idea to become an amazing album. Make sure you get your hands on it and of course catch Monster Magnet whenever they visit your town because you will go on an amazing trip either way.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Double Dose of Headshot; Featuring Death Hawks and Germ

Death Hawks - Death Hawks

So, the promo for this album talks about the band's "intense psychedlia" throwing out phrases like "in your face" etc. I don't hear that here. Not at all. That's a good thing. We live in a world inundated by bands who don't know how to chill out. Death Hawks do, it's wonderful.
This is a longish album for 7 tracks, but it's a good album to get a buzz going to. Trippy, yes. Intense, maybe. Heavy, in your face? Nah.
The sounds are actually pretty folksy, it's like Tool meets Iron and Wine, in a sense. By Tool, I'm of course talking about the long tribal compositions and chants that permeate the fabric of this journey. That's what this album is, a journey. Get it, drop out.


Germ - Grief

Oh, boy. Black metal. I hate black metal, it's cheesy and usually borin...say, this is, woah, this is good music.
This album may have actually changed my opinion on black metal (though the jury is still out, thanks to Fadades [embed this link plz in fadades http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp9V2bpT1cI])
Ok, so it's not "technically" black metal, but it relies heavily on the style.
The compositions are AMAZING. I can't even really explain how this made me feel. Still, the wispy BM cliche vocals that happen on this album come off as corny to me at times, but really I think they fit. I almost think the cheesiness is intended too, but that might be my bias toward this amazing record.
I've only given it a couple listens, this album deserves a more thorough review, but this gets my point across, which is this: if you have any sense of self worth, you will listen to this album.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kink Ador - Free World

Hailing from Nashville, TN, Kink Ador has been making and mixing sounds and genres for the last few years...generally under the radar.  We could call this an “indie” rock record and move on, but that just wouldn’t do the talent in this band justice.  Comprising of bassist/vocalist/sometimes trumpeter Sharon Koltick and guitarist Nicklas Hamilton, Kink Ador plays a fresh and modern mix of rock music that borders on “New Wave” and fits in nicely with all of the other danceable rock bands performing today.  Pitchfork would be smart to feature them on their website and music festival.

Kink Ador’s new record, “Free World”, features six songs, all of which I find to be highly enjoyable and quite energetic.  Good thing too.  Anything short of energetic would be a disappointment if you have ever caught them live.  Sharon is nothing short of the real deal in the female rock star category.  The girl has chops, looks, and talent.  Imagine Sting and Blondie got together and had a love child and then raised on “Stop Making Sense”....it’s kind of like that.  She’s a blonde bob top with more rock moves that most machismo driven bands.  It’s refreshing. 

Nicklas Hamilton is the perfect counterpart.  His knowledge of guitar layering wizardry fills out Koltick’s thick and pummeling bass lines.  On stage, he is every bit of a blur of motion as Koltick.  Having 318 guitar pedals to keep track of kind of helps keep him busy when he isn’t rocking out. Never a dull moment if you as me.  It all translate to record very nicely.  Here’s my honest critique of “Free World”.  It’s too short.  It leaves you wanting more of the record..but it just isn’t there.  That’s ok and it’s a good thing.  The top notch production of the record mixed with the upbeat songwriting sucks you in just in time for the last track to come to an end.  I was stuck with the awkward dead space on my stereo, realizing the record was over and I was a little sad.  Guess we get to wait for the next record.  If you can’t wait...check out their earlier releases.  I hope some record label with the bank roll to make it happen for Kink Ador gets wise and soon.  They totally deserve it.  “Free World” is available now on ITunes.

The Grime

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Single Life - 7" of Fun; featuring Lawnmower, Control Group, The Street Dogs, and the Jons

Lot's of punk singles have been coming into Ripple HQ recently, slumped in by our fearless mailman Sal.  So let's dig in, shall we?

Lawnmower - Whack Yer Brain EP

4 songs here of post-Weezer/Husker Du alt-punk bringing back some of the halcyon days of the peak 90's.   The brainchild of Travis Bravender, Lawnmower specialize in the indie-rock resurrected sounds of that bygone decade.  Strong song writing, a touch of grunge, a touch of pop, a bit of punk--that's just about sums it up, for a band that probably cut it's teeth on a steady diet of Nirvana, Weezer and maybe even Superchunk.

Four catchy cuts of big guitars and big hooks.  If you long for those lost days, check them out. 

Control Group - Shoes of the People b/w Leave it Alone

This one was a total surprise.  About as DIY as it gets, with hand numbered, photocopied paper cover and blank labels.  I obviously had no idea what to expect, but one spin of Shoes of the People and I was hooked.  Control Group is a new rock combo made up of three lead singers: Darren Korb, Jeremy Parker, and Evan Reynolds. The band’s sound is a combination of nostalgic guitar punk, DIY indie rock, and 90s pop. Imagine early Dinosaur Jr crossed with Foo Fighters with a bit of The Smiths thrown in.

But that doesn't quite sum it up.  This is two slices of catchy as hell, indie-pop-punk with big grooves and massive hooks.  Yeah, it reminds me of so many artists I can't even name em all, but it doesn't sound like any of them.  Simply a gem from the underground.  Check em out.

Street Dogs - GOP b/w Not Without a Purpose (Live)

More Street Dogs!  Heaven.  And it's not even Christmas yet.

Yes, The Street Dogs come raving back with a scathing attack of quality Oi!.  With a song titled "GOP" you better expect the Street Dogs to deliver a verbal onslaught against America's Republican party, and the boys don't let us down.  With it's verbal barb of a chorus, "GOP, GOP, GOP, GOP, You're full of Shit! Shit, shit, shit!" you get everything you'd hoped from the boys.  Charging blitzkreig of political punk.   Originally written and recorded as "GLC" by Menace in 1978, the lads have made this one their own.

Originally released as 20,000 flexi postcards hand distributed by fans and friends to Republican events across all 50 states, this scathing musical criticism of the American right shows the timeless nature of a good punk rock song and the Street Dogs wear their passion on their sleeves.

Side B features a devastating live performance of "Not Without a Purpose" showcasing all the energy and bile that make the Street Dogs famous.  They really are the top of the genre and a true American treasure.

The Jons - Walk Towards the People b/w Grass on the Wicket

The JONS formed at the start of 2009 and by all accounts have been riding a wave of successful gigs and gaining fans all over their home area of Essex. Their blend of Indie, Punk, Ska and was voted “best new band” by the people of Essex.  What it all translates to is a catchy-as-hell blend of aggit pop, kind of reminding me of the long lost Woodentops mixed with The Libertines.  Punky, poppy.  Catchy.

"Walk with the People" is the real charmer here with it's agitated, angular, percussive attack.  Simply a classy pop song.  B-side "Grass on the Wicket" is a charmer also.  Look for more to come from these guys.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Rising Sun Expierence - Beyond the Oblivious Abyss

Portugal'sThe Rising Sun Experience are a modern day psychedelic rock band.  Drawing heavily on influences from the 60’s and 70’s, they present classic psychedelic rock elements with modern tones and productions.  Their new release,Beyond the Oblivious Abyss, showcases their dedication to their craft and influences well.

Beyond The Oblivious Abyss features 8 tracks that walk all over the rock and roll gamut by utilizing a wide range of instrumentation, vocal delivery, and dynamics.  They are far and away from one trick ponies.  I wasn’t sold on the record at first listen.  It was a little too clean for my tastes.  I felt like it deserved a second spin on fresh ears.  I would say this record is dense as a positive point.  TRSE are great musicians making great rock music.  It is certainly better than anything on modern rock radio right now, despite being modern rock.  When will they learn?  Hopefully one day for TRSE to make it on there.

When I listen to the record I pick up on mid-90’s alternative rock but with a groovier twist. I’m pretty sure that is what they are going for.  Maybe this is weird to say, but I think that the lack of super heavy hard rock from the mix that is common with bands in the genre makes them more accessible.  Guys, what I’m saying is that if you are into this stuff...it might be a good one to turn your girlfriend on to so that you can have something to talk about.  

At their heaviest, they get into the groovier rock riffs similar in construction to that of The Bakerton Group and Clutch, but of course, less beardy. At their grooviest, they will take you on a extended, spaced out trip across the bulk of the album, landing softly at the end.   A lot of this is due to the prominence of percussion and organ/keys in the TRSE’s sound.  They are definitely working with a full palette of rock and roll musically that most bands don’t have access to.  It’s pretty smooth for being a rocking record.  I suggest giving it a go if you like tight distorted guitars and spacey interludes.

The Grime

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ripple Field Report - NRBQ 12/8/13 at the Met Cafe, Pawtucket RI

I was honestly nervous when I got to the Met Cafe on Sunday.  NRBQ was one of my all-time favorite live bands.  My misspent youth was made up of many drunken nights spent laughing and singing along at NRBQ shows.  Looking back, those were some of the best times I ever had.

It would have been hugely disillusioning if the new line-up couldn't live up to the legacy.  Well, it took them about 4 notes before all my worries were put to rest.  THEY SOUND LIKE NRBQ!!!   

This line-up is fantastic.   The kid on guitar, Scott Ligon - he sings like Joey and plays like Al!   Casey the bass player was a bit more anonymous, but solid as hell.  And it goes without saying that picking up Bobby Lloyd Hicks from the Skeltons was a genius move.  He has the same touch and swing as Tommy had.   Terry looked like a proud papa, prowling the stage and waving at the crowd.   

Highlights - just about everything.   It was the usual mishmash, no set list.  One cute bit was the 4 of them playing Xmas carols on bells for the start of the 1st encore.   Lots of laughs, lots of audience singing, lots of fun.    They played a solid 2 hours that felt like 20 minutes.  They even had Whole Wheat Horns for this gig!

I am SO glad I went.   We got the Dictators back in 2012, we get NRBQ back in 2013?  This decade is shaping up nicely!! 

-- (Guest contributor) Salvi C

Grel Reveals Tales from the Road - Merlin - The Magicians Alliance

My band, Grel, played with Merlin at Davey's Uptown Rambler in KCMO on tour to Stoner Hands of Doom. They put on a good show. Their cd's were burned from home, put in cheap packing envelopes, with hand drawn cover art. Cool. I picked one up. Live show was cool, lots of fake blood, and noise. Slow psych/doom stuff, very much a mix of Sabbath and Pink Floyd's early-post-Syd stuff. It was very fun to watch. 

This is about the CD though. So, it's good. Well produced for something they were very obviously DIY about. The vocals are sparse, more sparse than their live show. Think: all the sludgy goodness of Ozzy's early stuff with hoots and howls ala bands like Suicide thrown in for savor. The music usually feels understated, almost eerie in its execution. A lot of the reason for that is that the album is recorded in such a way that all the sounds blend together at times, nothing too crisp (except the occasional guitar solo) or clear to cut through. Just a tapestry of color and foggy sound. 

Most of the album is drone-like. The songs meander some, but it makes for a unique psych trip. It sounds like they're figuring out the songs as they go, much of the time, which isn't a bad thing in my books. You don't hear enough of this kind of underground doom. There's this cool 60s garage/Hasil Atkins feel to a few of the songs. It's like if Sean Jovi's project "Nazi Drugs" took mescaline and turned up the fuzz. 

Much goodness. 


PS: I'll be reviewing more CDs from bands we met on the road. Look out for them. 

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