Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bangladeafy! - This Is Your Brain On Bugs and The Briefcase

10:30 AM 
Senior Agent Penfold exudes confidence inside one of the many anonymous federal buildings situated around New York City.  He steps in front of a group of highly trained operatives who upon his arrival immediately hush themselves.  Everyone in the briefing room was handpicked for this task force.  They all knew what to expect.
“Is everyone present and accounted for Agent Smith?”
“Yes sir.”
“Good.  Alright people listen up.  Today is the day.  This is the day we have been waiting for!  Thanks to multiple anonymous tips we know that our two main suspects will be making a drop at their usual spot this afternoon.  Suspect One and Suspect Two will be together, and they will have the briefcase.  This is our best chance at stopping the spread of ‘bugs’.  If we apprehend the suspects’ briefcase our crack team of scientists can reverse engineer this new ‘bug’ narcotic they’re peddling and come up with an anti-toxin.  Now, do I need to remind any of you agents about the importance of this mission?”
“No sir.”
“I didn’t think so.  It’s go time people!  Get your gear on and mount up.  We roll in fifteen minutes!”

1:45 PM
 “Sir I’ve just intercepted an incoming call.  Suspects have arrived.”
“Good job Signals.  Lookout?”
“I have eyes on both suspects.  They have exited their vehicle and are approaching the target building.”
“Are they carrying a briefcase?”
“Affirmative Agent Penfold.  Suspect Two is carrying a brown leather briefcase.”
“Lookout, have they entered the building?”
“Yes sir.  Both suspects have now entered the target building.”
“Copy.  Strike teams one and two.  You are go for assault.  Repeat.  Go, go, go!”

7:00 PM
“Good evening.  My name is Agent Penfold.  Earlier today we took a giant step forward in our fight against the dangerous new narcotic known on the streets as ‘bugs’.”
“Excuse me Agent Penfold?”
“I’m sorry Mr. Reporter, but it is not yet time for questions.  As I was saying…”
“I have an inside source that tells me the two gentlemen you arrested earlier this afternoon have already been released from custody.  Is that correct?”
“Yes.  That is correct.  Now if you wouldn’t mind waiting till the appropriate time to…”
“And all charges have been dropped?”
“Well…yes, but like I said before I am not taking…”
“I’ve also been informed that the so-called ‘bugs’ you were looking for were not found inside the briefcase you confiscated.  Is that true?”
“Look Mr. Reporter.  I don’t know who you think you are but…”
“Would you tell us what WAS inside the briefcase Agent Penfold?”
“I will not comment any further about this ongoing investigation.”
“Then I’m wondering how you can claim to have made a giant step forward in your new drug war?  Thus far you’ve wrongly arrested two young men and confiscated a briefcase full of non-evidence.”
“Look buddy, isn’t there some lost pet or celebrity scandal you should be covering right now?”
“Agent Penfold, are you sure you’re not on ‘bugs’?”
“This press conference is over!”

See?  See what happens?  Do you see what happens waveriders when I take too long to review music I like?  I’ll tell you what happens.  My boss Racer X sends me a message that tells me I might want to check my email.  I open the browser window and boom, that band whose work deserved a timelier writeup has released something new.  Oh, and guess what?  That new music?  Yeah, just as good and just as interesting as the music that preceded it.  Uggh.  I hang my head in shame.  So at this time I’d like to tell you about not one, but two terrific releases from a band called Bangladeafy!.

Yes Bangladeafy!.  The name alone caught my attention.  It turns out that it was generated by combining drummer Atif Haq’s Bangladeshi heritage and bass player/vocalist Jonny Germ’s sensorineural hearing loss.  Clever and catchy!  They call Brooklyn, New York home and they create some extremely interesting music.  Yes indeed, you can chalk Bangladeafy! up as one of those bands that is very difficult to classify.  Their music is highly technical and is bounding with energy.  It contains elements of punk, heavy metal, progressive rock, noise and funk.  Much of the music is instrumental.  Inspired by a piece of advice found in the liner notes of the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album I like to hear these compositions as a ‘psychic-musical war’ between the two musicians involved.  Their playing perfectly complements one another, yet it is no big leap to imagine their performances as epic battles of one-upsmanship.

Bangladeafy! first came to my attention when I received a copy of their debut album This Is Your Brain On Bugs.  I popped the disc in my stereo, hit play, and was greeted by the sound of what I equate to be a spaceship achieving faster than light travel in some early arcade game.  That pulsating electronic sound faded away, the music kicked in, and it was off to the races!  Bugs blasts through ten songs in just under twenty five minutes and it is some kind of ride waveriders!  The musicianship is absolutely top notch.  Song tempos vary wildly, often shifting unpredictably several times in the same song.  Each track has its own unique sonic blueprint.  When they appear the vocals sound urgent.  It’s all invigorating for the astute listener. 

Comparisons to other bands fail to do Bangladeafy! justice, but I’ll throw out a couple of the most obvious ones.  “Bedbugs” sounds the most like Primus, “Carsick” could be on the next Beehoover record, and to tie into one of my earlier statements “Young Curmudgeons” has a Jimi Hendrix Experience vibe to it.  Also, while perhaps this is only in my head, the song “Tomahawk” has a gypsy-punk atmosphere that reminds me of Gogol Bordello.

The Briefcase is the name of Bangladeafy!’s brand new EP and it falls squarely in line with the standard of excellence established by Bugs.  One major distinction of note between the EP and the LP is the use of a keyboard or synthesizer to help create the atmosphere during each song, especially “Dumpster Fire” and “Pest Control”.  “Elixir” gets my vote for the group’s most frantic, frenetic recording yet it still takes the time to get your head nodding.  “Show Me The Gold” utilizes strong Latin flourishes to easily distinguish itself from the other tracks.  If I had to choose a favorite “Show Me…” would be the one.

Waveriders, those of you looking for music that is new and exciting have come to the right place!  Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay Bangladeafy! is that I can think of no other group that sounds quite like them.  Pick up either This Is Your Brain On Bugs or The Briefcase EP, or better yet get them both at the same time since Bugs is free on their bandcamp page!  Bottom line, this dynamic duo’s chaotic mix of punk/metal/etc. is a blast to listen to and definitely not something anyone who hears it will soon forget.


Buy Here -


Show Me The Gold

Daily Bandcamp Album; HighKicks by HighKicks

Good old fashioned rock and roll. All killer and no filler. Those are words I'd use to describe this self titled album by HighKicks. This high energy thriller of an album will have you on the edge of your seat from the moment you press play until it's done. This is a party album, something you put on at your shindigs and watch everyone get down to it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

George Duke tribute/Frank Zappa - A Token of His Extreme

On August 5th, George Duke passed away from leukemia. I had no idea that he was ill and the news hit me hard. George Duke was a great musician and someone that I really admired. I first heard him play on Frank Zappa's Bongo Fury album, the first album I ever bought with my own money, way back in 1975. Later on I checked out some of the albums he did with Cannonball Adderley, like The Black Messiah, and was knocked out by his incredibly funky electric piano playing. George had an amazing career. He played with Miles Davis, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Michael Jackson and many, many more in addition to a few dozen solo albums. The guy loved to play and could play anything. People that worked with him always praised his musicianship as well as his positive, upbeat personality. Anything that I've heard him play, and it's only a small fraction of his discography, always sounded like he was having a blast and wanted you to have one, too. Ride on, George. There'll never be another.

Cannonball Adderley  - "The Black Messiah"

George's passing reminded me that I needed to pick up the recently released Frank Zappa DVD A Token of His Extreme. This DVD is the first official release of a concert that Zappa filmed at KCET-TV in Hollywood during August, 1974. It captures one of his greatest bands, maybe his best ever, playing in front of a very small crowd in a TV studio. Some of the footage has been released before but never the entire show as it was broadcast. The line-up is Frank Zappa on guitar, percussion, vocals; George Duke keyboards, vocals; Napoleon Murphy Brock sax, vocals; Ruth Underwood percussion; Tom Fowler bass; Chester Thompson drums. These musicians are the core on some of Zappa's best albums like One Size Fits All, Over-nite Sensation, Apostrophe (') and Roxy & Elsewhere. There are some other great live recordings by this band but this DVD is hard to beat. Not only is the music great but there's plenty of Bruce Bickford's completely insane claymation woven throughout the music. If you've never seen what this guy can do with clay, be prepared to have your wig flipped.

The band does killer versions of 1960's Mothers songs like "Dog Breath Variations," "Uncle Meat," "Oh No," "Orange County Lumber Truck" and "More Trouble Every Day." They're all completely re-arranged from the originals and feature great playing from everyone. Songs written for this line up like "Montana," "Florentine Pogen," "Stink-Foot," "Pygmy Twylyte" and "Inca Roads" contain amazing solos and improvisations totally different from other versions I've heard before. The band is unbelievably tight but they're also having a lot of laughs on stage, too. Zappa's guitar playing is incredible. His solos are blistering with a ballsy, bassy tone. Napoleon Murphy Brock is a lot of fun to watch. He has all these Tina Turner type stage moves and really works the crowd. Throughout it all George Duke is up there with his keyboards wailing away with a big smile on his face. He even comes down to the front to boogie with Napoleon for awhile when he really gets the spirit.

Zappa fans definitely need to pick this up. Even some of the people that can't stand Zappa's lyrics might want to check this out. The music is pretty remarkable and truly one of a kind, plus Bickford's claymation must be seen at least once in life. Zappa did some crazy editing on the live footage, too, that will really bug you out. There's also a great bonus feature on the DVD of Zappa's appearance on the Mike Douglas show from 1976. The other guests on the show were Jimmie Walker ("dyn-O-mite") and Kenny Rogers. The conversation between these four is completely bizarre and represents the 70's at its best!

Buy from Amazon

"Inca Roads"

Hexenhaus - Jumalan kosto 1983-1987

At first I thought this was a compilation of the Swedish band Hexenhaus who morphed into Memento Mori before reverting back to Hexenhaus. How wrong I was! This is/was a Finnish post punk band who spread their nihilistic horror punk between 1983-1987 and this release, Jumalan kosto(God's Revenge) contains their debut single, Ikiyö/Katacombi, an unreleased single, a bunch of demo songs as well as their last ever recording, Suutele minua Kate. Two of the most interesting and upcoming labels, Svart and Ektro, are releasing Jumalan Kosto jointly and I couldn't be happier. However, if I had heard this band back then, I was 12 when they started, I would have shunned them vehemently. At that point their kind of music was far from the stuff I was listening to. As the years roll by I guess opinions change and I absolutely love this album!

I have to admit I had to do some extensive research on the band's lyrical content because I don't speak a word of Finnish and they only sing in their native tongue. Apparently The Cramps, Peter Straub and Herman Hesse inspired their storytelling which focuses on the dark and bizarre. But digging under the surface there's a twisted tongue-in-cheek sense of humour amidst the bleak, harsh landscape. If this research is correct then their lyrics makes sense because to me it goes so well in hand with the Finnish melancholy.

Musically this is a raw, unpolished mix of Killing Joke, Bauhaus, The Mission, Fields Of Nephilim with a coldness that I can only attribute to the band's hometown of Pori. When Hexenhaus were active Pori had been a heavily industrialized city but with the world economy taking a huge nose dive this affected Pori horribly. And a few years after the band broke up the unemployment had reached over 25% and this in a city with less than 100,000 citizens. This must have played a huge part in the music Hexenhaus made. After all, we are to a large extent products of our enviroment.

On many of the tracks the bass guitar is lifted up front and almost acts like a rhythm guitar which to me, is one of the stronger trademarks of the band. That and the disharmonic song structure. Often-times at least one instrument is out of key but purposely so...making Hexenhaus stand out in the best possible way. What I mean is they never followed any set norms, instead they just plugged in and played what came to mind and they stuck to it. And this is what made them so good.
A good number of the songs on Jumalan kosto are purely demo recordings and subsequently the sound quality is not always the greatest. Again though, this adds more to the greatness of Hexenhaus because they utilized the means available in a time where you couldn't sit in your bedroom in front of a computer make great-sounding music. I don't know for sure since there's very little information available about them but these demo songs sounds like they were recorded live in their rehearsal room. This is only my assumption though from listening to this album countless times so I do apologize if I am wrong.

Surprises like this one are awesome because it opens up my world to more avenues of great music, music that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Also it expands my view on different styles in general, you know my narrow-mindedness shrinks and I look more openly on bands and artists that I probably wouldn't pay any attention to at all. Hexenhaus are of course sadly no more but Svart and Ektro have made us all a huge favour by releasing this compilation album. Now the nihilistic and harsh yet humourous outlook on the world that Hexenhaus had will live on thanks to Jumalan kosto. If you are already into post horror punk you will love this. If you on the other hand want to check out unchartered territory Hexenhaus are the perfect start!


Daily Bandcamnp Album;Young Enough To Know It All by Well Hung Heart

I'm not really sure where to begin with this. At first I thought I was getting a hard rock album, then a punk. It's kind of somewhat all over. The band certainly has a Rival Sons meets PJ Harvey meets Mazzy Starr vibe going. "Bullshit" opens the album and it's a fast paced song. By time you get to "Wedding Song," it's a bit slower and mellower. Then it picks up. Overall I like the album a lot. I like how they mix it up. It sounds good, really good. You'll like it. Listen all the way through.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Folks Behind the Music - Spotlight on Ian Gerber, The Grime - The Soda Shop, The Ripple Effect, and The Heavy Co.

Today's spotlight on Soda Shop and Ripple Scribe, The Grime, also the lead man of rootsy, stoner blues voyagers, The Heavy Co.

Start at the beginning, how did you get started with this crazy idea of writing about music?

I got involved with writing about and reviewing music with The Soda Shop shortly after I started my band, The Heavy Co.  Bill Goodman is a righteous dude.  Seriously, he is one of the stoner rock blog scenes patron saints, no doubt.  His enthusiasm for my band kind of floored me and still does.  Through our conversations, I got the notion that I might have some stuff to say about the scene at the time and he was really open to letting me express myself as a writer for The Soda Shop.  I got to interview some really awesome people who gave life to the modern stoner/psychedelic/doom/desert/retro/heavy blues music today like Tony Presedo (founder of TeePee Records), Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man), and Scott Reeder (Kyuss) to name a few.  After a few articles, my Facebook page blew up with people from all over the world who read my articles and reviews.  I had never experienced such a cohesive music scene and I was hooked.

We're all the product of our musical past.  What's your musical history?   First album you ever bought?   First musical epiphany moment?  First album that terrified the hell out of you?

I don’t think I have ever admitted this before, but the first record I really HAD to have was by a Christian band called Bleach.  It’s funny now, but the album was called Space.  They were an “alternative” band following in the great post-Nirvana sound.  It sounds nothing like a record by the same name would sound today if I pulled it off a blog or something.  :)  But that’s the truth and super fucked up when I think  about it.  I was raised in a weirdly conservative christian household and on top of that we were really poor.  I had to scrape some money together to get that tape (a CD player was expensive).  I really loved that record.  It started me down the path of wanting to play rock music with electric guitars.  

I burned out on religion and the pre-approved music real quick though.  During that time though, I heard some hardcore bands that were HEAVY.  One band in particular, Overcome, was the first band that made me reconsider what I called music.  They were screamers.   I still haven’t heard a band with screamed vocals that connects the way that did.  I would listen to the tape on my way to school and kind of worry what people might think if they knew how scary the music I was listening to was.  

Along with the conservative Christian upbringing in a small Midwestern town came all of the anti-heavy metal sentiments ala Tipper Gore and the PMRC.  There was this propaganda movie where some fucked in the head preacher told every weird lie and association with the occult that he could, but I would watch the video because it had music least parts of them...from Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe, Iron Maiden, The Beastie Boys, etc.  It scared me, but I also got over it.  My musical tastes are more refined these days, but it sucked me in for sure.  The intro to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” is still creepy though.  Tool and Marilyn Manson were also huge when this was happening to me.  I wasn’t a Marilyn Manson fan, still am not, but I was really driven to de-mystify his whole schtick.  Things like that affect you really differently when you are 13 then when you are, say, 25.  That kind of thing really scared me, but once I saw through it, it helped me to be less fearful of....everything.

I think the moment I knew what kind of sound I wanted to hear, and in turn make, was when my brother busted out the 6 or so CDs that were with the CD player next to the Nintendo at my Dad’s house.  On tape we had Sgt. Pepper, which I don’t think I quite understood at the time, and Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd, which I absolutely devoured.  I still have that tape in my car.  It’s a prized possession.  There was The Guess Who’s  “Best Of”, or whatever it’s called, and a compilation of 70’s rock songs like “Green Eyed Lady” and “Lola”.  This all pretty much was all in one weekend. Not to sound ridiculous or too personal, but it was also the last weekend I really ever spoke to my pops.  Before he took me home, he gave me his record collection.  My brother Aaron is still pissed about that. When you put it all together,  I had a new religion and a reason to follow it.  I don’t know if it’s working out for me, but I wouldn’t change it.

What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen? 

That’s a tough one.  I have been missing those kind of listening experiences in my life for a while now.  Maybe I’m jaded or overly critical.  I though the latest Colour Haze record was absolutely amazing.  I think that last record that really “insisted” that I listen to it was The Raconteur’s Consolers of The Lonely.  I got into it this winter/early spring.  It’s a few year old now, but I have always been a slow listener.  The production is absolutely PERFECT.  I wanted to hate Jack White for a long time, but at least on this record, he is absolutely on fire.  Brendan Benson does him some huge favors though.  He really off sets the quirky things Jack White has and replaces them with a more refined song writing style.

Between that and producing the Loretta Lynn album, I had to reconsider my stance on his talent.  Before that, I think the last record that I thought was completely amazing was Brothers by The Black Keys.  I think it set a standard, or at least re-iterated, for what a rock album can do within pop culture standards.  It makes me a little hopeful that *real* rock music might make a come back.  I don’t know though.  It’s wishful thinking.

What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?

That’s a really broad question.  I mainly follow the stoner/doom/psychedelic thing because my band kind of falls in that genre, so I’ll start with that.  I’m not really excited about the retro and/or Satan worshipping, bong huffing doom that is a big deal right now.  I think Ghost is overrated.  Orchid is great...but really?  Someone was going to get the Sabbath schtick right on the money, so in that sentiment they are awesome.  But I’m bored with it.  Kadavar and Uncle Acid are both really great.  I especially like the Kadavar record.  They are really musical as opposed to bombastic.  It just bugs me that a lot of it has to do with the visual appeal of a lot of the bands.  If you don’t look like Lemmy’s bastard spawn then you might not be taken seriously.  I got into the underground to escape the fashion scene.  No one has really called that out yet or maybe even noticed, but I totally think that it is there.  Then again, those Swedish dudes can’t help it that they have good genes.  The thing is though, five years ago  I was ripping on Kyuss knock offs.  It’s always going to be something.  I just find what I like and stick with it. 

On the mainstream front, I think it’s interesting that Country music is competing with the pop singers.  That’s a good sign to me.  At least singer/songwriters have a fighting chance and the records are made with real musicians.  I have to listen to it everyday at work and it’s been that way for 8 years.  Whether you like it or not, you can’t deny that someone like Brad Paisley is a bad motherfucker of guitar player.

When I got into the underground stoner/doom thing, I realized that it was a STRONG scene.  While I just bitched about bands like Ghost, Orchid, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, and Kadavar, the are all on great record labels that didn’t previously care five to ten years ago.  Those are same labels, Nuclear Blast in particular, that has given the world some of the best heavy metal albums to ever be made.  I don’t think there is any more money to be had from them (I’m speaking from a musicians standpoint here) but the fan base is growing larger and larger.  I’ve watched it grow and that is exciting to me.  Even though I wasn’t really, it feels like I got in on the ground floor.  I’m waiting to see who breaks through to the next level...a major label.  There are a lot of bands that might.  There is still a lot of momentum to be gained, but it is definitely keeping a great stride.

The other side of my dislike for the current stoner/doom trend is slightly personal.  I got into the scene because there are bands that really hit a cosmic/existential groove, not a heavy earth ride of a drag.  I think both trips are important, but I think that there is the potential for band from the modern psychedelic scene to be the next Grateful Dead.  What I mean by that is a  band that can fucking JAM, but also provides an environment to let people develop deep thoughts that make them realize that some thing can be done better.  In the same vein that Jimi was looking for an “electric church”, there are some bands that are the verge of setting up the next round of psychedelic enlightenment.  Maybe I’m just a wishful thinker, but Electric Wizard doesn’t scream “It’s going to be ok” at me, you know?  Shit is rough.  It’s easy to drown in your sorrows and the doom bands (some who I find to be amazing) don’t necessarily provide the right ambience to drag yourself out of what might be, at time, real despair that needs addressed.  Maybe that’s a heavy statement or too personal, but that is my personal opinion.  It’s the yin and yang idea.  We need both, but I’m really looking for alternative at the moment.  It seems like the shit has been dragging on a long time.  The world could use some good news.

With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do?  What's your unique take on the music and writing?
I don’t do anything special.  I just try to be honest.  If I’m seem to be excited about a record, it’s because I am.  The best thing about this little corner of the internet (the independent rock blog scene) is that up and coming bands get feedback where 10 - 15 years ago they couldn’t.  It’s leveled out the playing field as much as it can.  I know that as a musician, I really appreciate every review.  You can count on them for that fact that at least one person took the time to listen and found something they liked, generally speaking.  This goes for the upstart and small labels as well.  So this is what I do...I try to support.  Sure, I have my opinions, but everyone seems to be in it together.  I hope it stays that way for a while.  Since there is no money, there isn‘ a lot to fight over and it’s a special time in that regards.  It is amazing to be a part of a community of music lovers that give a shit and also get along.  It’s wonderful and when I started in music, II never thought I’d encounter it.  It was just something I read about in books and magazines.  I’m a really independent kind person, in general, but I found that I’m apart of a group of people who are like me.  We are passionate enough about the music to make it happen, whether it’s starting a band, a blog, a label, a promotions company, or Facebook group.  It is the actualization on the promise of Hardcore’s DIY attitude and the grass root efforts of a lot bands in the 90’s. 

Illegal free downloads on your site.  Yes or no, and why? 

Since I don’t run my own site, I’ll just give you my opinion on it.  The music lover says...awesome.  If it wasn’t for Napster and it’s legacy, I’d be kind of screwed.  It has made the whole stoner/doom scene happen in a way it wouldn’t have.  I’ve downloaded a lot of records.  I’m not necessarily proud of it though, because....

As a musician, it hurts.  I watched The Heavy Co.’s Bandcamp sales literally disappear when Midwest Electric went up on the download sites.  We gave away, and still do, the first EP.  The reaction was AMAZING.  It’s been downloaded and listened to ten of thousands of times.  That wouldn’t have happened if it we charged for it.’s a vicious cycle without a real answer.  I think it’s a double edged sword for bands, but it would be nice to be able to sell enough records to press the next one.  In my case with my band, I just file it under “fair is fair”  I’d like to believe in karma or “The Golden Rule”  or whatever you want to call it.  Obviously it’s great for those who download, but it also is killing the possible longevity for the small bands they download.  It’s easy to say “Fuck (INSERT MEGA BAND) and (MEGA LABEL) !!!” because they were rich before digital downloads.   Labels like Small Stone or RIpple are much more vulnerable to illegal downloads.  It’s the socio-economics of the music scene.  It’s just how it is for now.  I think that if a record is really great, then you should have no problem paying for it.  There is only so many hours in the day, why download more than you can listen to?  I know I stopped illegally downloading a while ago and even though I am a poor son of a bitch, I find the dimes to buy the records I really want on vinyl.  I have quite a hit list going. 

What's been your all time greatest "Find"?  That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?

Finally an easy one.  :)  Devil To Pay.  They are the reason I came to know the term “Stoner Rock”.  It was a breath of fresh air to find a band (WITH BEARDS!!!) that weren’t playing nu-metal or thrash metal.  I’m from Lafayette, Indiana and Indianapolis is just down the road.  I couldn’t believe that this style of music that made so much sense to me actually existed.  I really appreciate those dudes.  When they signed to Ripple, I was so happy for them.  They finally got to take a step further in the business and they deserve it. 

I didn’t start spreading the word on them, but they were the catalyst for me spreading the words about other bands that I found after them. 

I got to catch some early Lo-Pa, as well, before they got signed...through DTP shows.  So...there you have it.

If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why?  What makes that song so important?

Shit, another tough one.  I’d have to go with “Green Onions” by Booker T. and The MG’s.  You can cover a huge part of American and rock and roll history when you start talking about them.  Their importance can not be overstated enough, whether you are considering them a symbol of the civil right’s movement or the fact that they literally wrote a huge part of the American rock, soul, and R&B songbook.  “Green Onions” is an instrumental, but when I hear it, it always speaks to me.  That and you will NEVER find a thicker groove, ever.

Give us three bands that we need to keep our eyes out for.

I hate making predictions or talking up a band too much.  When I do, they break up or something. 

I really enjoy Tumbleweed Dealer.  I wouldn’t say they are unique, but they have something going on in their sound that is worth paying attention to.  it’s kind of heavy and totally psychedelic.  With song titles like “How To Light A Joint With A Blow Torch”, you can really tell that these guys “get it” without taking it too serious.

Jeremy Irons and The Ratgang Malibus just signed to Small Stone Records and are from Sweden.  I really enjoyed their last record, Bloom.  They are pretty mellow by Small Stone standards.  Their singer is one of the few rock singers that can get anywhere near Jeff Buckley’s tone and range.  It’s sort of amazing.  They are hard to describe...they have a really crystal clear, classic rock/psychedelic sound with a really talented singer.  How can you go wrong? 

Out of Italy is Pater Nembrot.  I ran into them through The Soda Shop’s submission catalogue the same time I found Jeremy Irons and The Ratgang Malibus.  I think they are on Go Down Records.  Heavy tones and riffs but catchy.  Their singer/guitarist, Filippo Ispsardi, gets into Chris Cornell territory.  They just released an a 3 song EP that was more of an extended piece than 3 songs.

There are so many more though....Guacho, The Flying Eyes, The Heavy Eyes, The Dirty Streets... Guess I have more writing to do. :)  It ain’t easy being greasy. 

Tell us about your personal music collection.  Vinyl?  CD?  What's your prized possession?

I don’t have a huge collection of music.  My computer crashed and hard drives have crashed, so I don’t really keep up a digital library anymore.  Easy come, easy go...but we already talked about that.  I play music games with myself and make Spotify playlists out of them.  It’s a little more interactive than downloading and sorting through a bunch of albums.  I like the easy access. 

I generally don’t write about a band unless they have a Bandcamp.   If I want to listen to a whole record, that’s where I go.  That site is a huge resource and catalyst for music in general, but especially for the stoner scene. 

I lived in Indianapolis for a little while and I threw out the majority of my CDs.  Probably about 500 of them.  I probably just caused a disruption in the force as people are reading this.  I worked in a CD store and ended up with so much stuff that was irrelative to my listening preferences and I didn’t want to move them.  No big loss.  I have a solid memory for the important stuff. I’m doing with vinyl what people did with CDs and upgrading my library.  If it’s worth keeping a physical copy, I’ll drop the money on it.

I have a lot of vinyl, but not near as much as most people that I know who are vinyl hounds.  I don’t have a lot of living space and my music has to share that space with my guitar and studio gear.  One day I’ll have a nice room with lots of shelves to fill with albums and books on music, but for now I run light and compact.  I consider my books part of my music collection too, since most of them are on the subject.  Because I was so poor growing up, still am, I didn’t have access to a lot of music other than the radio, but I did have access to books and I learned a lot about my favorite musicians by reading about their music before hearing much of it.  I knew I was listening to the solo in Freebird on the radio for the first time without anyone having to tell me, it just had to be the song because how many times I had read about it in magazines and such.  I have a graphic novel of Jimi Hendrix’s life called Voodoo Child.  I’d say that is my most treasured item right now.  That or a book called Jambeuax that is about a fictional band.  Only I know what that band sounds like to me.  It’s kind of neat.  They are great.

What makes it all worthwhile for you?

When I was in high school, I had to write an essay on where I thought I’d be in 10 years.  Of course, it was the Almost Famous fantasy version of it, but I’m doing it.  I’m playing music.  I’m putting out records.  I have a studio to work in.  I have open dialogues with FANTASTIC musicians all over this time.  I get to talk with writers, promoters, and record label people.  I’m not even that great of a writer, but this scene is really accessible.  I just enjoy participating.  My band can’t always play out, but it seems like our audience just gets bigger and bigger anyway.  That’s why I do it.  I feel like I can pull my weight in most areas of my life, but here I feel like I fit in.

How would your life be different if you weren't writing about music?

I’d be bored and frustrated.  My creative outlets would be reduced by a ridiculous amount.  For me, that’s terrifying to think about.  I’d rather not.

Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan? 

Nah.  I haven’t bashed anyone that bad yet.  What I did find out though is that a lot of people who think that they are opened minded are full of shit.  They just want to hear themselves talk and get really upset if you have another point of view.  Generally speaking, though, the people I have met and dealt with are intelligent, congenial, and respective.  I think you call that being an adult.

In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?

I want to be remember and someone who gave a damn about something, Turns out, that is music for me.  I would love to be known as a musician, but since that isn’t really in the cards, I would like to be remembered as a patron of the arts; music in specific.  I’m not shy in saying that I had some really amazing psychedelic trips.  During one particularly memorable one, I realized that I could treat my time as a big art project.  I go to school for sound design.  I’d like to work in the great studios of the world.  Writing is just one thing that I do.  I look as my writing to not only be expressive but a utility for myself as well.  The better I can express myself as a musical writer; the better I can communicate in general.  What I’m rambling on about here is that what I want to accomplish is multi-faceted.  I want to be remembered for accomplishing an artistic existence with music as a lifestyle; not a career or a hobby.

Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay.  Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?

I work in a candy store.  It’s a busier job than someone might expect.  But when there is downtime or a job that requires tedious repetition instead of concentration, I get to zone out and think about music.  I’m sure everyone else does this too, but I worked there for 8 years, largely due to the fact.  That and my boss is really supportive.  Her son is a professional wrestler and that is really similar scene when you compare it to being in a band.  We trade war stories all of the time.  Lots of travel, hard work, and little or no pay.  He has a wrestling school called Wrestling Is Heart.  I could just as easily say Music/Writing is heart.

What's next?  Any new projects?

I’d love to do more of this or that, but my plate is FULL.  I’d love to graduate  school sometime in the next 17 years and hopefully get a job in a performing arts or musical environment. 

Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?

Well, there isn’t much else.  I’d say that my other passion is Humanism.  It’s a broad category, but I feel that Humanism and music are the same thing. That’s a big existential statement, but I think you get the idea.  But really, I want to find out how to be a better human being and help other do the same.  I have a few ideas, but I have to do them for myself, by myself first.  Music is my chosen medium for the pursuit.

I might just be pipe dreaming, but that is the fact of the matter.

Single Life - A Touch of Pop - featuring Smash Fashion, Minoti, and Alejandra O'Leary,

Lots of "pop" music comes in through the Ripple doors, and when we're not busting our brains by headbanging against heavy objects, we appreciate the sublime nature of good pop.  Here's a quick run down on some of the gems that have come through recently.

Smash Fashion - Blame it on the Brandy b/w Marionette

Sweet power-pop perfection is the name of the game here, with melodies and hooks sugary enough to drift you into a diabetic coma but chops muscular enough to keep the heart pumping.   In fact, it's that combination of power and pop that really makes Smash Fashion stand out.  "Blame it on the Brandy" is just pure summer fun.  A touch of T-Rex glam, some Cheap Trick guts and a hint of the Raspberries craft.  "Marionette" rides a chugging opening guitar riff to pound out some powerchords and guitar licks.  Vocals are perfectly braced for the song, which has hooks for days and even some cool "oh la la" harmony parts.

File this one next to some of the 60's flavored powerpop masters of days gone by like The Records or The Beat.

 Minoti - So Will You

Got to love these precocious kids.  Minoti grew up in Mumbai, India and moved to Los Angeles, CA on my own when she was 19. Back in India, she started writing songs at the tender age of 11 and released my first EP online at 16. In 2010 she started her own label and released her first album "The Fictional Truth," which was comprised of mostly acoustic songs. In August 2012, she successfully funded her 2nd album funded through Kickstarter and" Secret Garden" hit the streets March 4, 2013. And yes, she engineered, produced, wrote, composed and sang on the entire album.  She calls it "raw Indie-Pop album with some 90's Alternative influences."  I call it catchy as the ebola virus.

Not to make too much of her Indian heritage, but there's definitely a little "sound of Hindi" hiding within the structure and music of "So Will You."  Just an air of an Eastern/exotic vibe that makes the song really stand out for me.  Essentially a "fuck off" song to the betrayal of a friend or lover, Minoti's voice is understated and the music moves with a clever coolness.  Apparently, there's a big Superwholock vibe to the video.  Now I gotta figure out what that means. :)

Alejandra O’ Leary and the Champions of the West - New Low single

Today we have a single from Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Alejandra O’leary and the Champions of the West.  That’s the most American name I have heard in a while.  :)  So seriously, it’s a catchy ditty.  Citing influences of Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Lucinda Williams, and David Bowie, Alejandra and her band have made a dreamy, mid-tempo, slightly angsty pop sound with their new single “New Low”. 

It’s a pretty straight forward song.  No crazy turns in the song writing process.  The production is very clean and full featuring beautiful harmonies and keys with some queues that remind me of my future wife’s, Norah Jones, last record or two...and not just because it’s a female fronted pop group. 

I checked out a couple of her other tunes, I think she has a good going on if you like your music to have the consistency of cotton candy: light, airy, and pretty sweet.   I hope she takes a turns towards the Blondie and The Talking Heads in the future.  I think it would fill out the songwriting a bit and make the group a little more danceable, but for now, it’s a solid effort.

Official Website:


Daily Bandcamp; La Chinga by La Chinga

Hard rock done right. That's how I would describe this Canadian power trio. They have the whole Led Zeppelin, 70's hard/classic rock vibe going. The music really kicks a lot of ass, is easy on the ears and is more than worthy of repeat listens. Speaking of Zep, I'm pretty sure if Plant, Paige, and Jones were to hear these guys, they would get their blessing 100%. Give this one a spin then order up your vinyl.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Folks Behind the Music - Spotlight on Woody- The Ripple Effect, The Obelisk and Mighty High

Today's spotlight on another of Ripple's own, Woody, a multi-talented and music brainiac who also shares his knowledge with columns at the Obelisk and his stoner punk misfits, Mighty High

Start at the beginning, how did you get started with this crazy idea of writing about music?

I was inspired by Bob Muldowney's writing in his awesome metal fanzine KICK*ASS during the early to mid-1980's. He really wrote from the heart and had a great sense of humor. That motivated me to write a few things for my high school newspaper, including an interview with Reed from C.O.C. right before Animosity came out. Bob Muldowney was nice enough to print a review I wrote of a Black Flag/Saint Vitus show I saw at Irving Plaza. Getting my name is KICK*ASS is something I'm still very proud of. For about a year I did album reviews for the college paper. They would always try to get me to review something the other students had heard of. I really didn't think there was any point in writing about The Outfield or Mr. Mister when they were getting played on the radio every five minutes. When I was working for Caroline Records in the early 1990's, they did an in-house fanzine called Swill. They'd send it out to record stores to give away. I had some fun interviewing Killdozer, Laughing Hyenas and Wayne Kramer for that. I didn't do any music writing for many years until I discovered the Ripple Effect while promoting the first album by my band Mighty High. I was impressed that they had reviews of so many different types of  music. They asked me to write about my favorite live album (Grand Funk's Live Album, of course) and here we are 6 years later. That led to me also doing some writing for The Obelisk site and the NJ weekly paper The Aquarian.

We're all the product of our musical past.  What's your musical history?   First album you ever bought?   First musical epiphany moment?  First album that terrified the hell out of you?

I have three older brothers. Two of them were heavily into music and the other one, to this day, is pretty indifferent to it. We totally ruined it for him. I was exposed to a lot of stuff at a very young age. By the time I was 7 or 8 years old I was buying records. Frank Zappa, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper were my favorites. My eldest brother Joe was heavily into soul music. We'd watch Soul Train every Saturday morning and listen to his James Brown, Chuck Berry, Isaac Hayes and Booker T & The MG's albums. I still listen to all of that music regularly. The first LP I ever bought with my own money was Bongo Fury by Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart in 1975. It really flipped my lid. My first musical epiphany had to have been when I heard Alfred E. Neuman's incredible song "It's A Gas." It was on a cardboard 7" single that came with an issue of Mad Magazine. Lux Interior of The Cramps once said it was his favorite song of all time. I'm inclined to agree with him. The first album that ever terrified me was definitely Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare. Listening to it on headphones freaked me out, especially side 2 with creepy songs like "Years Ago" and "Steven."

What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?

Probably At Her Majesty's Pleasure by Gentleman's Pistols. Man, I love that album! Holy Shit by Superchrist, too, and the last few by the Italian band Ufomammut.

What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?

There's a lot of great, new-ish classic rock inspired bands like Gentleman's Pistols, Mothership, Gypsyhawk, etc and lots of good metal bands, too. It's unfortunate that more old dudes like me don't go out to see bands anymore. It's easier to stay home and watch sports, I guess, but not as much fun. Bands don't sell records like they used to so they have to tour so much. They burn out  a lot faster and burn out the audiences by playing too often. The biggest problem, really, is that there are too many bands all doing the same thing. That's always been a problem but it's even bigger now.

With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do?  What's your unique take on the music and writing?

I only write about what I love. Hardly anyone gets paid for writing music reviews anymore. I do it purely for the love of music and wanting to connect with the other freaks out there like me.

Illegal free downloads on your site.  Yes or no, and why?

I think it really depends on if the record is out of print or not. There are so many places to hear stuff for free online now it's not really necessary to have downloads.

What's been your all time greatest "Find"?  That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?

I'd have to say Motorhead. I read an article about them in Creem and knew I'd never hear something like that on the radio. It was pretty hard tracking down a copy of Ace Of Spades even in the suburbs of New York City back then. Once I got it, I played it for everyone. Most people thought it was horrible but those that did like it are still my friends to this day.

If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why?  What makes that song so important?

I could write 1,000 words about 10,000 songs easily. I'm never short on words when it comes to music I like. Or music I don't like, either!

Give us three bands that we need to keep our eyes out for.

All the bands I mentioned already. And everyone needs a copy of Screamin' by Jack McDuff. Smokes!

Tell us about your personal music collection.  Vinyl?  CD?  What's your prized possession?

I have around 1000 LP's and probably double that on CD. I'm not super snobby when it comes to format. The music is the most important thing for me. All my albums are prized possessions but a few stand out - a copy of Black Sabbath's Volume 4 signed by Ozzy; Isaac Hayes - Live At The Sahara Tahoe signed by Isaac and his drummer Willie Hall; End Of The Century autographed by all four Ramones, etc. 

What makes it all worthwhile for you?

When denim and leather brings us all together to set the spirit free, of course!

How would your life be different if you weren't writing about music?

I might have a few extra hours a week but it wouldn't be as interesting.

Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan?

Not yet. Like I said, I only write about what I'm into. I'm sure there are people on the internet that think I'm an idiot but that's OK.

In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?

I wish I had more time to write. If anyone remembers anything I've written, that's their problem.

Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay.  Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?

I am a full time parent, part time student and play guitar/sing in Mighty High. I was a more prolific music writer when I had a full time office job. I was able to listen to a lot of new stuff all day and could usually crank out at least one review a week during a lunch break. It's way more difficult to find the time to listen to new stuff at home because it has to compete with a wall of classic albums for stereo time. I'm sure I will be back in full time office hell soon enough and will need the distraction of new jams.

What's next?  Any new projects?

I have to finish this interview, then go to class. I also have a batch of new Mighty High songs that need to be finished. There's a writing project that I've been wanting to tackle for years that would require a lot of research. I'd like to get down to the real nitty gritty of exploring the very first rock n roll records of 1954 and 55, putting them into a timeline of when they were recorded and released. I think a lot of people would be surprised at the sequence of events.

Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?

My family, food, beer, triple Marshall stacks. That's about it.

Alfred E. Neuman - "It's A Gas"

Ramming Speed - Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die

Witness that cover, in terms of metal archetypes:

2 snakes,
2 eagles,
1 wolf, 1 skull, 1 diamond, 1 eye-of-Sauron-ish eyeball (at bottom).

This perhaps-symbol/ possible logo of the band perfectly encapsulates (or really bursts apart that capsule) their sound: metal, via any and every sub-genre. There's definitely thrash, definitely hardcore, some grindcore that may or may not be death/grind, a bit of NWOBHM, wafts of power metal, even a sense of humor not unlike Scatterbrain (e.g., I'm sure they know the Army of Darkness/ Ben Hur reference that is their name)-- and it works together like a good chili: tons of ingredients, but one overall taste.

Remarkable that these Bostonians have managed to have an easily-ID-able sound so soon in their career. Well done, men. Well done.

Needn't bother with song titles, here's the album, sonically-speaking:

Open with Dio-ish, end of the world chord which bleed into perfect thrash with raspy appropriate vocals... man that drummer is fucking good... vocal powerful like Chuck Billy... oh, now there's blastbeats... now we've Scatterbrain as thrash band, gang vocals on the title track... these guys don't give a fuck with this solo... "Anticipating Failure," starts with the perfect, furious thrash, via MOD or Gothic Slam...?

Primarily? Thrash. More specific? Thrash with blackened, deathly, hardcore-ishly-doomed power metal.  Overall? Just heavy metal, man. Or:

A heavier, meaner-yet-more-humorous Revocation?
Shit, I don't know. Just listen and/or buy it already, eh?


Daily Bandcamp Album; The Decline Effect by The Decline Effect

"This incredible debut marks the reuniting of the local iconic Abromavage brothers, Mark (once of Kinghorse) and Chris, with veteran Louisville musician "Dirty" Dave (the Glasspack) on the mic and the power house drumming of Jae Brown."-Tom Haile, 28:48 Records"

This is something else. Punk rock mixed with hard rock, a little noise and a whole lot of kick ass. Bass heavy too which is good since a lot of bass is buried under other instruments. Check this one out, unless you're scared of killer music.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Geezer - Gage

Have y’all heard of Geezer?  By now, you should if you follow the online stoner/doom blog scene.  I noticed Geezer making the rounds with their Gage EP and the remarks on it are typically complimentary.  It’s easy to see why.

Pat Harrington has a cool voice.  It’s gruff...but smooth.  It’s pretty soulful really.  You feel what he is saying.  That’s a good start.  The swampy, slide riffs are a real treat too, especially in the raga-esque studio jam “Dude, It’s Molecular”.  There aren’t enough stoner/doom dudes taking up the bottleneck.  It’s hard as fuck to play, so that makes sense.  With that being said, obviously, the Geezer guys give a fuck about what they are making and don’t give any if it’s considered cool.  It shows up in their heavy but laid back groove that is the backbone of Geezers particular brand of heavy blues.  I hate saying this, because it usually comes off as a backhanded compliment, but the truth is that I think Geezer is on to something.  Maybe not new (Left Lane Cruiser comes to mind), but I’d love to hear where the sound this band makes after some more rounds of gigs and writing.  The subtle psychedelic texture and delta influence grooves that Geezer are experimenting with really set their sound apart.

Gage is set to be released on vinyl through STB Records and you can download their EP and first full length on their Bandcamp.

Here's the official word on the STB release.

Geezer and STB Records are proud to announce that we have joined forces to release Gage (EP) as a special Limited Edition Vinyl Release.

Pat says of STB, “Up until now, Gage has only been available as a digital download. Our main goal has always been to press it up on vinyl. Ever since I saw their first release, the Die Hard Edition of Dopethrone’s Demonsmoke, I knew STB was the label I wanted to work with. STB Records is reinventing how vinyl is packaged, marketed & sold.”

Steve from STB Records says, “I have been a fan of the Electric Beard Of Doom podcast for a while now.. Once I met Pat and started talking to him it was only a matter of time that we started to collaborate on ideas. One night he let me hear the new Geezer EP and I was sold.. The rest is history.. STB is truly honored to be a part of the US Doom revival along side Geezer and The BEARD!!

Geezer: Gage (EP)
Limited Edition of 100 (color vinyl)
Hand numbered, hand screened cover in a hand sewn burlap outer jacket which will then be hand screened.
Artwork, colors, and other details are still being developed
*The EP will include 2 previously unreleased tracks that are being specifically recorded for this Ltd. Edition release


Photo credit: Doug Seymour
Baroness has unveiled a live video for “March To The Sea” via Vevo (, which was filmed at the Union Transfer in singer/guitar player John Baizley’s adopted hometown of Philadelphia.
The four-minute clip, which opens with the enthusiastic crowd chanting “welcome back” to the obviously emotional band, highlights Baroness’ first live performance following the well-documented accident that left the band members severely injured.
Baroness has been on the road steadily since May, having performed at several festivals including Bonnaroo, Orion Music + More, Lollapalooza and most recently FYF Fest.  Entertainment Weekly described the band’s Lollapalooza performance as “a volcanic eruption of thick riffs, spry solos, and wicked vocal bellows” while Rolling Stone’s FYF Fest review highlighted Baroness’ “feats of stunning metal artistry.”  The band wraps up their North American tour dates on Sept. 6 at KISW’s Pain in the Grass before heading to Europe in late September as well as trekking to Australia in February for the Soundwave Festival.
Baroness tour dates (Royal Thunder opens on all non-festival performances)
August 27     Tucson, AZ      The Rock
August 28     Las Vegas, NV     Backstage Bar
August 30     Salt Lake City, UT     Urban Lounge
September 1     Spokane, WA     The Knitting Factory
September 2     Seattle, WA     Bumbershoot
September 4     Vancouver, BC     Venue
September 5     Portland, OR     Musicfest NW
September 6     George, WA     KISW Pain in the Grass
September 27     Tilburg, Holland     KZ
September 28     Köln, Germany     Stollwerck
September 29     Antwerp, Belgium     Trix
October 1     Paris, France     Le Trabendo
October 2     Luxembourg     Den Atelier
October 3     Dortmund, Germany     FZW (Visions Westend Festival)
October 5     Copenhagen, Denmark     Loppen
October 6     Trondheim, Norway     Sorslaen Samfundet (UKA-13 Student Festival)
October 7     Oslo, Norway     Rockefeller
October 8     Stockholm, Sweden     Debaser Medis
October 10     Hamburg, Germany     Markthalle
October 11     Berlin, Germany     Postbahnhof
October 13     Wien, Austria     Arena
October 14     München, Germany     Backstage Werk
October 15     Milano, Italy     Tunnel
October 16     Zürich, Switzerland     Aarau Kiff
October 18     Tourcoing, France     Le Grand Mix
October 19     Wolverhampton, UK     Slade Rooms
October 20     Glasgow, UK     Cathouse
October 22     Manchester, UK     Club Academy
October 24     London, UK     Electric Ballroom
February 22     Brisbane, Australia     Soundwave Festival
February 23     Sydney, Australia     Soundwave Festival
February 28     Melbourne, Australia     Soundwave Festival
March 1     Adelaide, Australia     Soundwave Festival
March 3     Perth, Australia     Soundwave Festival

Admiral Browning - Give No Quarter

Life is good again, life is glorious! My favourite shipmates are back with a new fantastic album, Give No Quarter. Armed to the teeth with 7 new songs the admiral and his brave crew are ready to take us on another journey across the seven seas and back. As is the case with them Admiral Browning push the envelope and are more adventurous, innovative and balls-out heavy than ever before with their sea-faring skills. So be prepared to go on a trip beyond your wildest dreams and imaginations. Strap on your life vest and keep your eyes on the horizon for anything unusual coming your way.

Upon leaving shore Admiral Browning sets the tone immediately with Theme For Evil. Hitting turbulent waters right away the opening track takes us through the first obstacle with heavy seas rolling over us as our vessel maneuvers elegantly to safety. Ron McGinnis' thumping bass keeps the ship steady while Tim Otis' drumming pushes it forward and Matt LeGrow's guitar playing shoots down any danger approaching us. Thinking the danger is over Leeroy Jenkins pounces on our unsuspecting team. However this extremely talented crew ducks and dives avoiding all problems and difficulties going at it at full speed playing some real heavy stuff.

Zee Birds follows suit as the speed of this ship continues unabated as Admiral Browning never cease to amaze me. The beginning of it is a slower drum-driven part that gradually builds up before exploding. I have followed these guys for years and they just keep evolving. Somehow they manage to retain their own sound - technical, fluent and unashamedly great heavy instrumental rock - while incorporating new bits and pieces that elevates them to a whole different plateau than most other bands, world-famous or unknown. They surpass most of them by light years. Live the band has started to incorporate singing and on Zee Birds Matt handles that elegantly. And the singing continues in Malachai's Lament where Ron sings together with Helena Goldberg from Akris and Lord. The tempo is brought down a notch as the Admiral guides us across calm seas. The stillness is not long-lived as the guys out-do themselves with some truly out-of-this-world playing as they steer us away from even more dangers. By far the most technical of these 7 sea shanties there is such an air of unrestrained beauty within it. While going bonkers with odd time signatures and tempos Admiral Browning keeps everything very structuralized as well. All this combined equals greatness! Having survived plentiful of dangers so far the brave crew launches into more upbeat tones in Traps. Starting out as a mix of jazz and swing it quickly changes to a straight up heavy-ass rocker. The end has a resemblances to the very end of Rush's 2112, side one that is...and it is amazing!

Slowing down the pace of this vessel for a little bit Las Arañas Lobo is initially very Latin sounding where I thought the band had brought Andrés Segovia back from the dead. What Matt plays on the acoustic guitar is beyond worlds and my jaw drops to the floor every time I listen to it. He has always been a great guitar player but the work he does on this song is...I can't find words for it...hmm, put it this way. All you other guitar players out there either stop what you're doing or take notes and lessons from this guy! Gradually the band builds up the tempo and as is the trademark with Admiral Browning Ron and Tim joins in and play lead instruments. Kind of like in jazz but where that genre can be all over the board they keep it flowing. What I mean is when Matt is playing a lead part and either Ron or Tim or both do the same, they still keep the structure of the song intact. There's always a sense and a reason behind what they are doing and that keeps it all together so easily.
Rogue Planet is the last of the sea shanties and we are now adrift on a dead calm sea. No wind is blowing and we're all standing on deck taking in the view while contemplating life. This is another piece where the tempo gradually increases as our ship finally catches some wind again taking us towards the end of our incredible journey.

Individually the three members of Admiral Browning are masters at their respective instruments. I have already mentioned Matt's prowess on the acoustic guitar on Las Arañas Lobo but that's just a part of it. There is nothing he can't do with a guitar but his class is that when playing incredibly difficult technical parts he does it with such ease. And he makes his guitar talk instead of simply playing chords and riffs....truly amazing! Ron is the one who keeps it all together with his earth-shattering DeArmond bass but oftentimes he takes the center stage playing the lead or he and Matt trade solos back and forth like a twin-guitar attack. The swiftness, elegance and ease of him changing from rhythm to lead to solo and back is beyond me and the sooner I stop to try to figure it out and just let his playing absorb me the better...because I'll go crazy in the process! The steam engine that is Tim Otis keeps the ship going but just like his two shipmates he steps forward and play lead parts as well. With the flick of a switch he goes from barely hitting the drums to completely annihilate them to make them whisper and make them sing before reverting to a rhythm position. Never missing a beat whatever he is doing his amazing drumming allows Matt and Ron to do anything they want to. And while they all are following the tapestry of any of their fantastic songs, Tim can just break out and play odd off-the-wall stuff with a furiousness akin to Animal but before you know it he is back in line keeping the beat for the others to follow.

Admiral Browning are revered by those who knows about them but they are criminally overlooked by the larger masses. Maybe that's how they want it and they are simply following their master plan. For a longtime supporter though it's frustrating to see and hear the crap media focus on when bands like this won't get the time of day. America has a bottomless well of musical talent where Admiral Browning are in the extreme top tier but they have to rely on DIY ethics when they should be in top of all charts out there. Don't get me wrong because I don't mind the DIY movement at all, it's a healthy counterpoint to the megalomaniac attitudes of the major labels. However, it doesn't stop me from getting pissed when a band as amazingly great as Admiral Browning are still in the fringes. So don't only make yourself a favour but real music in general by getting Give No Quarter because this album is just about as great as it gets.


The Folks Behind the Music - Spotlight on Chris Carr - The Small Takeover

 Today's feature is on Chris Carr, former co-writer at and the longtime author of The Small Takeover, his take on music reviews of punk, doom, metal . . .pretty much anything.

How did you get started with this crazy idea to write about music?

I can't remember exactly when I started.  Not terribly long ago dug up a diary at my parents' place where as a teenager I wrote about the videos and bands that impressed from the UK TV music "TheTube" and "Max Headroom".  I wrote that I was impressed with The Jazz Butcher, Balaam and The Angel and The Style Council".

  Later I wrote unsolicited scene reports from my small city in New Zealand for a free national music magazine under the pseudonym O.range.   My local student radio station had a scene report from most New Zealand cities and my hometown wasn't covered in the national music press so I wrote down what was said and sent it in. 

 I didn't really start going to gigs until I was eighteen due to living in a farming community and the usual age issues, which was in reality quite close to the city but transport issues always made attendance difficult.  That all changed when I bought a motorbike.

Much later, I sent a review of a Pantera gig I went to another magazine and it was my sample writing when I applied to a Journalism school as it was the only thing I'd written under my real name.   I wasn't accepted and never ended up going down that career path although I do now possess a degree in Media and Communication studies.

I think I first started blogging about music ten years ago, just writing reviews of bands I'd seen but after a couple of years, the blog platform got swallowed up and disappeared.  Google's blogspot has been much kinder as the present incarnation of the blog has existed for six years.

We're all products of our musical past.  What's your musical history?

 Neither of my parents have ever really been big music fans so it's been a voyage of self-discovery.  My mother had a few records by The Seekers and my father had a few jazz records.  Although I do remember them buying a Rolf Harris cassette on a family trip to Australia back in '79.

I think the only instrument I ever learned for any length of time was the drums when I was seventeen.   I had to give it up as I started a job where I never knew exactly what time I'd finish and would often be working 7 days a week so my timing was bad poor not only to lack of practice. 

 My town had a place where you could rent instruments and practice for very little money as it was funded by the local council.  Friends always talked about learning instruments and forming a band but it never happened due to work, girlfriends and the usual drifting apart.

First album you ever bought?

A dubbed copy of Twisted Sister's "Stay Hungry" was the first album I bought with my own money.  I'm not sure if my friend pocketed the money or there really was a fee for dubbing tapes at his mother's work as it was back in the day before every tape deck had a twin cassette player.  First proper album with artwork was a cassette copy of DIre Straits "Brothers In Arms" because older  guys at my swimming club were talking about it and the first vinyl was a coverless version of U2's "Under a Blood Red Sky".  The first CD was Bauhaus's "Peel Sessions".  I have no memory at all of the first musical  download although I do remember being taught how to download about six or seven years ago.

First album that terrified the hell out of you?

Slayer's "South of Heaven" was the album that really seemed like forbidden fruit due to the sinister nature of the lyrics and the fact that I came from a church-going family.  It's now one of the albums I listen to most as it served as my introduction to Slayer.

First musical epiphany moment?

It's a toss-up between the day I first heard the song"Holiday in The Sun" from the Sex Pistols "Never Mind The Bollocks " on student radio as a 13 year old and the night later on that I bought and played "Master of Puppets" back before Metallica had made their first music video.  Both made me realize that loud, heavy fast and abrasive appealed to me and most of my close friends really couldn't handle either band back in the mid-80's.

What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?

I recently reviewed this young Finnish rock power trio, Mojo Waves first full length "Lo and Behold" and man, the guys mix alternative rock, garage rock and psychedelia coupled with these shrieking vocals that sound like a whole lot of helium sucking has been going on just moments after a number of energy drinks were consumed by all three band members.  I can see them appealing to the garage rock crowd, the psychedelic crowd and alternative bunch.  It's an attention demander!

What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?

I don't really think things have changed all that much.  There's always been a lot of short-lived bands and great musicians holding down full-time jobs but that happens throughout the arts and always has.  Maybe there are more great bands who are forced to work full-time worldwide due to the money not being there but I don't think the money has really been there anyway as expenses such as recording were way higher a few decades ago.   Venues tend come and go as do regular gig-goers. 

 It's easier to track down those obscure releases that you wanted for years thanks to the internet.  I'm really  not a great fan of I-tunes but know of underground bands and musicians  collecting minor royalties from it.   I prefer to use bandcamp more myself though.    Promotion is easier than ever but there are many out there who will just send a random email to all the music blogs they're aware of whether or not they're aware of the genres the blog covers.  It's all too easy to have an inbox overloaded with music and I find it a lot easier to ignore or miss a download link than a CD.

Facebook, message boards and email have made communication between bands and fans easier.  I'm still blown away when band members of highly established bands  post on messageboards but on the flipside but then there's bands who reply to negative comments when they should just walk away.

Despite being the age of downloads, there are still a lot of small and great record labels run by true music fans.  "Good to Die" records from Seattle is one that deserves not only the press it gets but so much more.  It's really obvious Nik is a fan of all his bands and quality over quantity is a factor on his roster which swelled quickly.  

Something I think is negative but really comes down to personal taste is that there are a lot of cookie cutter death metal, hardcore and grind bands.

With so many music sites, what's your unique take on the music and the writing?

I don't think there's really anything unique about it although I started at a time when there were a lot of download blogs that would offer a picture of the album and a link to download the album.  I often found it frustrating that the blogger didn't tell you anything at all about the music but then again the internet is international and a few of my favourite sites were  like that(but they have all disappeared) were made by people from Germany and Japan so there's a potential language issue right there.  

  Cosmic Hearse was one of my favourite download blogs because Aesop Dekker updated daily and was always able to give the music some context with his short write-ups.  I'd often read his writing and not download.  I'm certain his writing influenced mine even though he started later.  I used to post a lot more frequently than I do now so the hits aren't really there anymore.   

 I now only write reviews and haven't been scared to say if I think something was terrible.  I use a rating system 1-5 rating system with 5 being the best and have been known to give out both 1's and 5's.  I even have a 0 review, which I wrote for another site, stored away on my computer.  That was actually fun to write but the feedback I received told me it wasn't fun  for the band to read. Haha.  Still, it was pretty clear to the people who did actually read it that the band sounded like a bad version of Biohazard and ultimately it's the info about the music that I hope people want.

Illegal downloads on your site.  Yes or no and why?

There was a time when I'd upload albums and the self-imposed rule was that they had to be out of print.  There was a great blog called "Totally Fuzzy"  where bloggers would list the albums they'd uploaded that day and a few hours after uploading, the hits would really come in if the album wasn't superobscure.  The whole Megaupload  versus the FBI saga happened in my home country  but by then I was concentrating more on reviews so it didn't really effect my blog although some of the stuff I've had removed from my Mediafire account surprised me due to its obscurity.  During that point in time, some bloggers ended up having albums from their own bands removed.  There's so much great stuff out there that is downloadable for free with the band's permission these days so I now I just give a free download link if there is one.

What's been your all-time greatest "find"?  The band you "discovered" before anybody else and started the word spreading?

Recently, that's probably Beastwars even though I'm certain there were a few other music writers based in New Zealand, who were at their first and second shows where they were supporting a HLAH reunion show.  I was telling all  sludgy, stoner rock or just generally heavy bands that were sending review material to check them out and often got an email back saying they were blown away.  If you haven't yet you should look at some of their stuff on youtube.  The Sunday Sessions are amazing.  You have this really heavy music and the audience are all sitting down on chairs. It's weird, if you're into heavy music, because they're definitely a band you don't want to be seated to watch regardless of your age.

If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which song would it be?  What makes that song so important?   

The Buzzcocks "Orgasm Addict".  It's important because most music is largely about pleasuring yourself and I first heard it when puberty was hitting hard and it felt like the song was a forbidden fruit.  It was possibly the first pop-punk song to reach my ears and "Singles Going Steady" is still the best punk band compilation out there.

Give us three bands we need to keep our eyes out for.

There's a Michigan doom metal band called Stone Magnum.  I received their self-titled around the time the latest Sabbath and it's definitely Sabbath-worship.  I'm in the process of writing a review of their latest which is strangely closer to Candlemass.  The before-mentioned Finns, Mojo Waves.  Flesh Juicer from Taiwan are a metal band who recently impressed live.  They had a frontman wearing a dog mask and light brown suit with a jacket in the tropical summer heat of Taipei so visually they were striking but they were great musically too.

Tell us about your personal music collection?  Vinyl?  CD?  What's your prized possession?

I keep wanting to get rid of all my vinyl.  I only have about twenty LP's at the moment.  There's a few I just can't bare to  part with despite no longer owning a turntable.  I have a couple of thousand CD's and still keep buying more.   A large percentage were rescued from sale bins.  These days I only buy them at shows.  My prized vinyl would be Sticky Filth's "Weep Woman Weep" album.  It's an 80's  New Zealand punk album and had two limited releases with different covers.  One from a New Zealand label and the other from a German label.  I owned both pressings at one stage.  I paid a ridiculous price for the NZ pressing and then sold it at a small loss but there's no way I'm parting with the other copy.  They were the first band I ever saw in a bar.   I saw on their facebook page that the song recently reached number 10 on the New Zealand charts as the title song has been re-released on vinyl.

What makes it all worthwhile for you?

I still get pleasure goosebumps and hair standing up on the back of my neck when I hear great music and it's the desire to both capture that euphoric feeling for myself and share it with other like-minded souls.  It's a buzz when people tell me they like reading what I've written and I'm still the same excited kid when someone has taken the time and/or money to send product for review.  I love getting comments on the blog and the interaction with other bloggers has lead to a number of long friendships and then there's a few real life friendships that have just come about due to being a music fan.

How would your life be different if you weren't writing about music?

I probably wouldn't be staring into a computer screen so much or would be a Candy Crush expert.  I've attempted to walk away from writing about music a few times but keep getting drawn back in.
  I don't know.  Maybe I'd be writing about cars and test-driving them instead.   I'd likely see more of friends and family who aren't so into rock music.

Ever been threatened by a band or ravenous fan?

Not physically but I've upset a few bands with bad reviews and even slightly above average review scores and their feedback is often difficult to take seriously.

In the end, what you have like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?

If someone reads a review and checks a band out and likes them, I've accomplished what I've set out to do.  As for being remembered, I don't really care as that's never been important to me.

Many people may not realize the hours you devote what you do for little or no pay?  Is there a day job?  If so, how do you find the balance?

During the course of The Small Takeover's existence I've had a few jobs.  The one that I stuck at longest was a part-time postman job.  It was only a few hours a day and at that point in time, I was able to update the blog regularly and write for a couple of other sites.

 I'm presently teaching English as a Foreign Language in Taiwan.  I usually have around 25 teaching hours so there is a little spare time to update the blog but often I just don't feel like sitting down, listening to music and writing after dealing with a classrooms filled with noisy kids.  I tried to get another reviewer as I was being sent a lot of death metal and it's definitely not a sub-genre I particularly care for.  I had a nibble but wasn't able to reel a death metal expert in

What's next?  Any new projects?

Totally unrelated to music but I keep toying with the idea of starting an Asian movie blog.  I'll have another go at getting a reviewer or two for The Small Takeover willing to work for less than a single peanut first.

Finally other than music, what's your other burning passion?

Travel, food, movies and books.  I've written a few reviews for a movie site under the  moniker, Phlegm.  Admittedly a few were music related but the other stuff was mostly low budget horror.  I guess languages are there too as I speak reasonable Mandarin Chinese, a little Thai, Korean, Japanese, French and Spanish.
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