Thursday, December 29, 2011
As the year draws to an end, as we're naturally prone to do, it's time to come up with our views on the albums that left the greatest impressions on our psyches. And just like last year, we're thrilled to be joining an ever-growing, impressive collection of like-minded music writers, who've all banded together to share their thoughts.
At the end of this post, please check out the links to these other great sites and see their thoughts. Argue with us, agree with us, it's all intended to stimulate conversation.
As for our list . . . well, it's a bit different this year. First of all, we cover more than metal at the Ripple Effect, so only creating a Top 10 List of our favorite Heavy Albums seemed a bit too limiting. Also, with our ever-expanding roster of writers, all with different tastes, well, let's just say we're a bit eclectic. It should also be noted that not every writer hears every album, so while I (Racer) may have loved Rival Sons or Dixie Witch, I simply haven't heard them. Finally, while several Ripple writers were thrilled with Ripple Music releases, both Pope and Racer felt that it wouldn't be right to place our own label's releases on our lists (even though they should be there!)
With all that said, below we hope you'll find an eclectic collection of what passed through the Ripple this year and what we just couldn't forget.
SuperGiant - Pistol Star
Gideon Smith and the Dixie Damned - 30 Weight
Roadsaw - S/T
Ape Machine - War to Head
Kamchatka - Bury Your Roots
The Bloody Hollies - Yours until the Bitter End
Rick Barton and the Shadow Blasters - An American Rock Song
Gangstagrass (featuring Tone-Z) - Lightning on the Strings, Thunder on the Mic
The 1-10's - Fighting for a Golden Age
Year of the Goat – Lucem Ferre
SuperGiant – Pistol Star
Opeth – Harvest
Dornenreich – Flammentriebe
Elemental Zazen – Nothing to Lose But Change
Voivod – Warriors of Ice
Forgotten Tomb – Under Saturn Retrograde
Onslaught – Sounds of Violence
Horned Almighty – Necro Spirituals
Forest of Stars – Restless In Flight
Grifter – s/t
Roadsaw – s/t
Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
Rival Sons – Pressure And Time
The Jim Jones Revue – Burning Your House Down
Sigiriya – Return To Earth
Heavy Glow – Midnight Moan
Samsara Blues Experiment – Revelation and Mystery
Gideon Smith and the Dixie damned – 30 Weight
Dixie Witch – Let It Roll
Gentleman's Pistols - At Her Majesty's Pleasure
Motorhead - The World Is Yours
Yob - Atma
Ghost - Opus Eponymous
Grifter - Grifter
Backwoods Payback – Momantha
Dixie Witch - Let It Roll
Pentagram – Last Rites
Loafass - Smoke & Mirrors
Groan – The Sleeping Wizard
Favorite reissues -
Miles Davis - Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1
Twisted Sister - Live At The Marquee 1983
Bossa Nova & The Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s
Alice Cooper - Old School box set
Deep Purple - Come Taste the Band
Iggy & the Stooges "Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans"
1. YOB - Atma
2. Karma To Burn - V
3. Elder - Dead Roots Stirring
4. Borracho - Splitting Sky
5. Catapult the Smoke - Born In Fire
6. Witch Mountain - South Of Salem
7. Ogressa - Warts And All
8. The Heavy Eyes - The Heavy Eyes
9. Lo Pan - Salvador
10. Freedom Hawk - Holding On
Top Ten For 2011 In Alphabetical Order
2 Ton Bug - Wedding Of The Century
Beehoover - Concrete Catalyst
Conny Ochs - Raw Love Songs
Einvera - In Your Image
Jim Wilson - Jim Wilson
MC Frontalot - Solved
Mr J Medeiros - Saudade
Pharoahe Monch - W.A.R.
Rhode Island - Light The Windows In These Places Let Through
The Meads Of Asphodel - The Murder Of Jesus The Jew
Random - Check out anything he put out in 2011, it's all good!
K-Murdock - Several high quality projects including 'The Ronin'
Reissue Crushing Most Of My New Albums
Mos Generator - Mos Generator Deluxe Edition
1. Brutal Truth - End Time
2. Revocation - Chaos of Forms
3. Fuck the Facts, Die Miserable
4. Lock Up - Necropolis Transparent
5. Northless - Clandestine Abuse
6. Yob - Atma
7. Acephalix - Interminable Night
8. Anaal Nathrakh - Passion
9. Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1
10. Atlas Moth - An Ache for the Distance
The Gates of Slumber – The Wretch
Atriarch – Forever The End
Bell Witch – 2011 Demo
The Big Wheel Stunt Show – Cheetah Milque
Curse Of The North – Revelations
Rich Robinson – Through A Crooked Sun
Hammers Of Misfortune – 17th Street
Electric Wizard – Black Masses
Ronnie Wood – I Feel Like Playing
Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestial Lineage
Cicatriz: (in reverse alphabetical order as to not play favorites.)
Wolves Like Us - Late Love
Weekend Nachos - Worthless
Toxic Holocaust - Conjure and Command
Thrice - Major/Minor
Nick 13 - Nick 13
City and Colour - Little Hell
Childish Gambino - Camp
Cerebral Ballzy - Cerebral Ballzy
Bret Detar - Bird In The Triangle
The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual
1) Lykke Li -Wounded Rhymes
2) Adele - 21
3 )Foster the People - Torches
4) Cults- Cults
5) The Black Keys - El Camino
6) Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde
7) Zola Jesus - Conatus
8) Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
9) Young the Giant- Young the Giant
10) Bon Iver- Bon Iver
Old School’s Response To A Top 10 List For 2011
“You want me to do what?!”, I thought when Racer said, “time to get your year end Top 10 list together. We usually publish it the last week of December. Should be new albums for this year . . .”
Come on Racer, give me a break. Don’t you remember what I wrote when you asked for this last year (see Top Ten Lists Of Top Ten List Lists - by Old School?) What makes you think I’d do this now?
Sure, I received and reviewed some awesome music this year. There were Tom Principato’s “A Part Of Me,” Joe Purdy’s “This American,” Modern Day Moonshine’s “Refuge,” Ari Hest’s “Sunset Over Hope Street,” Honeychild’s “Nearer The Earth,” Red Wanting Blue’s “These Magnificent Miles,” The Mattson 2’s “Feeling Hands,” Julius Pittman & The Revival’s “Live Tonite,” Aaron Williams & The Hoodoo’s “10:49” and Only Living Boy’s “Hide Nothing,” just to name a few. Can I say one is better than another? No.
Look, I’m not going to judge whether Metal is better than Alternative Rock or Classic Rock is better than Punk Rock or Americana is better than Electronica or Blues are better than Jazz, or vice versa. I have no desire or need to try to discern which release was better than another in Maslow’s Music Pyramid. It’s basically a “Beatles or Stones” argument and I don’t buy it. It’s all good and, each year, there is so much I haven’t heard it could never be complete. How could one ever produce an empirically valid Top Ten List of artistic musical efforts? You can’t. You’ve just got to make your own.
All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/
Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/
Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/
Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/
Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com
Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/
Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/
Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/
Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/
Metal Excess — http://metalexcess.com/
The Metal Minute — http://rayvanhornjr.blogspot.com/
Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The press release that came along with this album says, “Maax can only be described as pure, old school, alcoholic heavy metal hellfire scathing the night with buzzsaw riffage of fist-banging, slutfucking black thrash n' roll to haunting passages of Luciferian menace.” So I guess if that’s the only way it can be described, my work here is done. Adios!
Just kidding. Although there is a lot of truth in that press release, I can elaborate a little. This is definitely an album with an old school feel. The production values feel a lot more like a black metal release, especially the vocals. And there is also that Motorhead-like, take no prisoners, vibe. The first track smacks you right in the mouth and the hits just keep coming. For an American band they sure have nailed the European metal style, and I certainly mean that in a good way. From reading their bio it appears that they have an issue with revolving door band members and if they could stabilize their lineup I think this band could make some serious noise in the metal world.
I guess if you are going to use the phrase “slut fucking” in the description of your music, it goes without saying that you refer to women as sluts in your lyrics, and have lots of songs about fucking and drinking. And fighting. And Satan. And lyrics like “Rot and roll, we are the new breed, Fuck you, this is our new creed”. Good thing these guys came along now instead of the days of the PMRC.
There is actually an impressive variety of music on this album. The first 6 tracks are along the lines of what you could call black n’ roll, mostly with an emphasis on just some solid rocking. “Do What Thou Wilt” has that kind of punky, Motley Crue feel, like something from their first 2 albums, before they went all hair metal. “Purge of Depravity” and “Overthrone” veer off into black metal territory. “Black Thrash Em All” has a nice, thrashy feel, hence the name. I tell ya, you don’t have to be a genius to write these things.
MAAX has 2 previous releases and based on what I heard here I will seek them out and see what they sounded like. This is definitely a band that you want to file away in your memory and keep an eye on. They are not a carbon copy of anything else that I am familiar with and take several elements of metal and combine them in their own way. Metal is a genre that needs some originality and these guys have it. Next time I go out on a Saturday night for some drinking, fighting and slut fucking, this is my soundtrack.
“…take away my diplomas and honors, eh? I’ll show them!”
“…call me crazy. Me!?!? After all that I’ve done…”
“…finish building this, my masterwork. They’ll all have to believe…”
“…going to revolutionize everyone’s thoughts on the subject…”
Fast forward three months. Fall was in full effect. The 2011 California World Fair was scheduled to begin that very night with an elaborate ceremony that would be televised all over the world. What no one knew was that the mad scientist Penfold planned to hijack the proceedings with the help of a select few hired hands. After the sun had gone down and a capacity crowd had gathered in the Fair’s primary outdoor plaza the plan was set in motion. When the Governor of California paused to take a breath following the first sentence of his welcoming speech, pyrotechnics exploded and the enormous black curtain concealing a large stage at the end of the plaza fell to the ground. Standing in the center of said stage was a man wearing a startlingly white lab coat. He raised both his arms, his palms pointed skyward, and began speaking into the microphone in front of him.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Thank you for coming to my grand unveiling! My name is Penfold. I apologize if I startled any of you with those loud blasts. I’m a showman at heart I’m afraid.”
“Now wait just a minute,” screamed the Governor from across the plaza. “I don’t know who you are or what you think you’re doing here, but you have no idea what kind of trouble you’re…” The Governor’s voice abruptly ceased after Penfold made a quick ‘cut his mike’ gesture to one of his team members.
“Thank you Governor, but your teleprompter reading services are no longer necessary. Folks, I don’t wish to waste your time so allow me to cut to the chase. I’m here today to show you my latest invention.” He held up a small black box and proceeded to press the circular white button in its middle, raising a small podium beside him on stage to the level of his waist. On top of the podium was an object covered by an opaque sheet. “People, I ask you. What is the number one concern of humanity going forward? I’ll tell you. It’s energy! Clean, sustainable energy! No one has been able to solve this perplexing riddle…until now. With my new invention, I can harness the power of rock and roll to generate immense amounts of electricity. Citizens of California, and everyone watching this around the world, I give you…the Mos Generator!”
Penfold quickly withdrew the sheet covering the object on the podium unveiling what appeared to be an old Victor Victrola machine. The only noticeable difference was a thick cord running out of its back that disappeared through the floor of the stage.
“Judging by the amused looks on some of your faces, I can see that a demonstration is in order. I completely concur.” He reached inside of his lab coat and brought out a vinyl record. “This is the debut album of the band whose name I borrowed for my invention.” Penfold pulled the record from the sleeve, placed it on the turntable, and lowered the needle. The music started. Moments later countless machines whirred to life behind the stage and a wonderland of lights nearly succeeded in turning the night sky into day. The crowd collectively gasped and gawked. The mad scientist smiled so widely it nearly tore his face in half.
“Hahaha! I guess none of you knew that there was a fully functional amusement park behind this stage. Take a good look folks. Everything you see is made possible by my Mos Generator. I invite you to enjoy yourselves with the amusements on offer. I assure you, I’ll be available to anyone who has a question for me, scientific or otherwise.”
And with that, Penfold walked confidently off the stage.
Waveriders please excuse me for a moment, because I’m going to break one of my cardinal rules. If you have read any of my previous reviews you might have noticed that when it comes to language I like to keep my writing G rated. Well…I’m afraid that I can’t contain myself this time. Holy ****! The debut album by Mos Generator is so ******* awesome I can hardly ******* stand it! This thing is so ******* fantastic, it makes every other hard rock album I’m listening to (and I assure you that includes some very good albums right now) it’s *****! ***** *****! ******* ****, why did I not know about this album ten years ago when it first came out? Palm meet forehead repeatedly.
Right, now that I've purged myself of the need to use coarse language let’s get down to business. Mos Generator is a power trio out of Port Orchard, Washington. The three titans of rock who make up the band are Tony Reed on guitar/vocals/keyboards, Shawn Johnson on drums, and Scooter Haslip on bass. Yes that’s right, I said titans of rock and I meant it. Mos Generator play rock and roll music. They play hard rock music, the kind of hard rock that is clearly rooted in the 1970s. That means their songs are built around tremor inducing guitar riffs coupled with a lock step rhythm section that is both backbone and harmonious support structure. Yes the obvious go-to reference point is Black Sabbath. That’s unavoidable but honestly, being a huge Sabbath fan myself, I never find myself listening to Mos Generator thinking boy, that sure sounds like that (fill in the blank) Sabbath song. On reflection, that is one of the biggest compliments I can give this band. Despite wearing their influences on their collective sleeve they are clearly their own band sonically.
My first actual exposure to Mos Generator came through a Facebook post made by one of my two bosses, Pope JTE, which allowed me to listen to one song from the debut album. Waveriders, I played that song at moderate volume and I had to question whether or not I had just lived through an earthquake. Shortly thereafter I heard the song “Sleeping Your Way To The Middle” and I knew I couldn’t live without a copy of this album any longer. While I realize that all three band members had been making music with other acts before forming Mos Generator the quality level of this, their first album, is stunning! Top to bottom it is smack you in the face, forehand and backhand good! The original album is made up of seven songs that clock in at just over thirty minutes. I know that may not seem like a lot of time but trust me, you won’t be left wanting. This album is the very definition of ‘all killer, no filler’. I guarantee that you’ll be hitting the play button again and again in record time. Oh, and I suppose I should mention the bonus materials. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.
With this deluxe reissue not only do you get the bulletproof original album, you also get about two hours of extra music including unreleased studio demos, a half hour rehearsal jam, and all kinds of live tracks. And waveriders let me tell you something. Those live tracks, including one full show that saw limited release under the name Live At The Manette, are awe inspiring. Yes there is plenty of energy in the studio recorded songs, but live Mos Generator sounds like a runaway train that’s about to derail itself! I can’t imagine anyone attending one of their shows and remaining seated. Well…unless they lack a pulse or they happen to be deaf. Truly, when the band gets going it feels like they are performing a high wire routine with no safety net underneath, and it is intoxicating. I would happily pay for these ‘bonus tracks’ separately no questions asked. The amount of musical goodness contained within this reissue is positively absurd!
Let’s put a bow on this shall we? You may have never heard of Mos Generator, or you may be a fan wanting to complete his or her collection. The bottom line here is this waveriders. If you are looking for an ultra-high quality 1970s inspired, ridiculously talented, musically inventive band your search has ended. You know what, scratch that. If you call yourself a hard rock fan you absolutely must own this album! Believe it!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Lately when I want that part of my brain tickled, I've been reaching for Along the Gallows, the debut full-length album by The Bailey Hounds. Uh-huh. I like this one a lot. Ironically, I discovered this band via Pantera's Phil Anselmo, who shared a video of them playing an extremely unique cover of "The Great Southern Trendkill". Now I have another reason to thank Anselmo and I'm including the video here, along with an acoustic version of the title track from the album.
Philly's The Bailey Hounds have been called indie-folk or even alt-country, but I prefer 'cemetery blues', like the band members say. I think that describes them, and Along the Gallows, much better.
From their press kit: "The Bailey Hounds are an open grave in autumn or a dilapidated cabin in the dead of winter. Old sounds of Americana peak through their often melancholy & sometimes raucous collection of tunes stirring up images of withered cemeteries, lost love, and the devil Himself. The Bailey Hounds fall somewhere in the musical realm of Gothic Americana, playing folk & blues-inspired songs with lyrics of a melancholy and often macabre nature."
Ryan Pedrillo (vocals, guitar) is an accomplished songwriter/lyricist and has one of the most calming and reassuring voices I've ever heard. I say that even though I don't usually put a huge focus on vocals. Every once in a great while, though, a voice will touch me like no other and I'll be sure to let you know, just like I'm doing now. Ladies, you might even start to cream your jeans when you first hear this guy, so prepare yourselves.
"Along the Gallows is an album we've been waiting to make and release for a while," Pedrillo told me. "We worked on these songs and reworked them and explored opportunities in the studio and ended up with what we feel is a cohesive work, representative of the styles of music we enjoy writing and listening to. Americana is woven throughout, and there's some dirt and grit rubbed in there, too. Circus freaks and gravediggers. Ghosts of the Civil War and Satan. A few headstones pokin' through the grass here and there. Yeah, we're pleased it's finally out, and we've started working on our next batch of songs."
I'm happy it's out, too, and I can't wait for more. Honestly, I could tell I was gonna love their music when I first heard The Bailey Hounds play that Pantera cover. Along the Gallows might the only Americana-infused album on my portable music player, but that's okay with me. It's fulfilling enough.
Harmonica and a delicate drum beat greet me instantly on "Those Devils Don't Scare Me", a wonderful opening track, but like a lot of albums, one of my favorites ends up being the last song. "Devil Tree" is touching and sweet-sounding musically and gets kinda psychedelic near the end, but I think the lyrics are definitely some of the darkest on the album. I wanna climb that tree.
"Devil Tree was originally going to be a straightforward acoustic track, contrasting the Satanic imagery of the lyrics with a soft, melodious tone," Pedrillo said. "I think I had Lars von Trier's Antichrist in my head while writing this...along with 15 years of listening to Pantera, White Zombie, and Danzig, I suppose. Anyway, we started playing it as a band in the basement and it just progressed and developed into its own beast. Lyrically, there's a lot of personal stuff going on, but on the surface, you know, there's some Alighieri in there...with some Anton LaVey too, of course."
There isn't one song out of the 11 on Along the Gallows that I even think about skipping over, but a couple other standouts to me are "Malleus Maleficarum" and "Gold & Bones". I don't know exactly why, but these two touch me so deeply on an emotional level that I do end up wiping away a few tears, and I'm not bashful about admitting it. I 'm too lazy to look it up for myself, so I have to ask what the first one means.
"Malleus Maleficarum literally translates into "The Witches' Hammer", The Bailey Hounds frontman said. "The 'Malleus Maleficarum' was essentially a witch hunter's manual created by two inquisitors in the 15th century and was used for prosecution, persecution, and determining whether or not someone was, in fact, meddling in the dark arts. This is one of the earlier songs written for the album, but I recall giving it that title almost immediately after writing the first verse. I wrote this a few days before leaving for Scotland for a year. Anyway, witches & wolves...aye."
Aye, indeed. Now, I'll admit that I don't listen to a lot of music that's labeled 'Americana', and maybe you don't either. Maybe you've never listened to it. Well here's your chance, people, but once you let The Bailey Hounds sink their teeth into your emotions, you might not want them to ever let go. Don't say I didn't warn you.
You can stream and buy Along the Gallows at The Bailey Hounds site . They're also offering their Bob Dylan cover, "Don't Think Twice, It's All right", for free download. I highly recommend you get both the album and the single, and if they would've recorded that Pantera cover, I'd say get it, too.
Excuse me, but I have the sniffles now and I need to go blow my nose.
Monday, December 26, 2011
I love music duos. Whether it’s rock, electronic or whatever I love when two awesome musicians come together and create wonderful music. Ever since The White Stripes were fading away in the mid millennium, it seems like I was going to have a void with music duos. Luckily, awesome artists like Justice, She & Him, The Ting Tings, The Kills, MGMT, The XX, The Black Keys, Matt and Kim, and the Cults emerged.
Depending on if you wanted a louder hard rock sound (The Black Keys), electronic (Justice), indie electronic (MGMT), indie pop (She & Him, Ting Tings, The XX and Cults) and/or indie/garage rock (The Kills), there was a music duo to cover your needs. Until now I never consciously realized there has been a resurgence of quality indie music duos. Cults is one of these mysterious bands worth discovering.
Cults is shrouded in mystery, both musically and physically. For the longest time I had no idea who Cults were…literally. It wasn’t until I searched deep in the liner notes and cross referenced with the internet that I discovered there are only two permanent band members in this fantastic, fresh and fun band.
New York duo Cults is the latest music duo that has captured my heart and ears with their infectious indie pop music. The band is comprised of former New York University film students turned musicians Madeline Follin (vocals) and Brian Oblivion (vocals, guitar and percussion). Their throwback 1960s sound instantly blew my mind away with this sensational debut album. I hope more people will soon discover this mesmerizing, mysterious band.
Much like the band Fitz & The Tantrums, Cults rely on a melodic vintage sound that possesses a twist, which makes their music sound both classic, yet fresh. If you enjoy bands like Dum Dum Girls, Drums, EMA, Girls, Yuck, Tennis, Phantogram, and Smith Westerns then Cults is a band up your alley.
Cults electric and invigorating eponymous debut album kicks off with “Abducted,” which describes falling in love as being kidnapped. The heartbreak of someone “stealing your heart and running away” is just one of the many relatable emotions conveyed on this album. Follin’s addicting, sensual voice is so sweet and innocent that I missed what “Abducted” was all about upon my first few listens. After several more times I heard the message loud and clear, “I knew right then that I'd been abducted/ I knew right then that he would be taking my heart… He tore me apart because I really loved him/ He took my heart away and left me to bleed out, bleed out/ He broke my heart because I really loved him/ He took it all away and left me to bleed out, bleed out.” I love discovering something new with a song I thoroughly enjoyed. You may even say I have been “abducted” by Madeline Follin’s voice.
Their 1960s pop/ girl group sound embraces the wonderful quality of that musical era and at times feels reminiscent of a Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” production. There is something irresistible of combining the innocence of catchy choruses, yet at the same time remain mysterious while describing dark emotions. The dreamy “Go Outside” is the second song featured on the album and is their best known song. The song encourages listeners to do something instead of just laying around all day inside and actually “go outside” to enjoy life. It’s the perfect song to motivate yourself and remains one of my favorite tracks to listen to while working out.
The moment “You Know What I Mean” came on I honestly thought my iTunes was messing with me because the 1960s girl group aspect sounded too realistic. After double checking my iTunes library a few times I was relieved to find out it wasn’t on shuffle and I didn’t randomly download The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Ronettes, The Supremes, or The Shangri-Las. Follin’s youthful voice perfectly captures that 1960s element efficiently, energetically and most importantly, effectively. “You Know What I Mean” is a song you can lose yourself in.
The deep, dark “Most Wanted” utilizes Follin’s unique and childlike voice. When it’s accompanied by a treacherous instrumentation, her voice showcases the drifting feeling we occasionally experience when contemplating doing something we know is wrong. “Back in my home late at night/ All alone, I'm flying/ Flying above all my troubles/ My mind's a gull/ When I am happy my heart starts to slow/ What I most want is bad for me I know” are just some of the stellar lyrics used.
“Never Heal Myself” is the next track worth mentioning. Follin’s conviction, whether sweet and sincere or a frustrated outburst, is always able to convey mystery with whatever she is singing about. This song is one of my favorites and I really love the ending lyrics, “Yeah I try to heal myself/And turn around cuz someone else/ But I can never be myself so fuck you.”
Powerful beats propel this album to create an exhilarating mixture of emotions. The combination of wonderful melodies with Follin’s flawless voice produces the best damn debut album of 2011. For the past four years, one of my favorite albums of the year also happens to be a debut album. This year is no different. Those artists and albums for the previous four years were Vampire Weekend with Vampire Weekend (2008), The XX with XX (2009), Neon Trees with Habits (2010) and now Cults.
Without a doubt, Cults is an awesome album that entertains you for over 30 minutes and is a must buy. I absolutely adore everything about this 11 track gem. Go discover their wonderful wall of sound and you won’t be disappointed when you join this cult. After all, there is no punch drinking involved.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
My friend and fellow music writer, Racer, forwarded an email from Nick Cooke who records under the name cuttooth. Nick had submitted his new album, Elements, for review by The Ripple Effect and Racer knows me well enough to sense that I’d click with this release and as usual he was right. I tend to like trippy, spacey music and ambient hip hop and Elements hits on all of these styles.
Elements opens with "Intro", a spacey little appetizer reminiscent of Boards of Canada featuring a single spoken line slowed down to eerie effect. The second track, "In A Dream", opens with a bright and echoing guitar chord ringing out as a downtempo beat slowly fades up underneath. Not that it was necessary, as the track is dreamy enough, but a voice chanting “in a dream” repeats in the background. This creates a nice bit of tension in the piece.
cuttooth makes excellent use of ambient sounds, spoken word samples and layers of disconnected sounds to weave a dreamscape. Rather than bore you, dear reader, with a track-by-track analysis I will attempt to describe the album as a singular piece of work:
Are you a fan of lucid dreams? Are you apt to daydream? Do you go off into a reverie when your senses are hit with a certain sound, smell or visual that suggests something beyond our limited physical surroundings?
If you fit the above profile, I’d highly recommend giving this a listen. This is an album for the dreamers among us. This is headphone music. For me, that’s the highest compliment I could pay Mr. Cooke.
Cuttooth - Elements [Psychonavigation Records] PSY045 Samples by psychonavigation
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Sometimes I get spoiled by living in Los Angeles. Whether it’s walking down the street and bumping into a celebrity or knowing about a “hot” band before they make it seems completely normal. Sure the latter part of that statement will probably ostracize me from some of my readers, but it’s true.
Although it seems pretentious and snobbish, it feels weird constantly saying, “I have been listening to this band for X amount of years before anyone knew who they were.” After a while you become accustomed to this feeling and jaded since a lot of breakthrough bands emerge from the LA area. Even when I travel in “touristy areas” of Hollywood and LA I feel so cynical because it’s no big deal. Every once in a while I get that way with music, but it’s not entirely on purpose. I just assume everyone knows who I’m talking about when I mention popular LA artists like Baths, Local Natives, Active Child, Warpaint and Young the Giant. It’s the last band I want to discuss.
Since they first emerged several years ago, Young the Giant has been a band to watch. Originally named The Jakes and after a few personnel changes, they became Young the Giant in 2008. After playing South by Southwest and receiving some airplay from KROQ with their hit song “Cough Syrup,” Young the Giant was signed to Roadrunner Records. In Fall 2010, their eponymous debut album, Young the Giant, was digitally released and a few months later it was physically released on January 25, 2011.
While hanging out with some friends recently we read about possible bands playing KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas in December and came across Young the Giant. Everyone then looked at me and asked, “Who are they?” I knew then I absolutely had to write about them. This is my daily plight: knowing way too many good bands that most people haven’t “discovered” unless you follow the alternative/indie music scene and are a music aficionado.
Over the past few years, KROQ has done an awesome job of noticing local bands that have created some of the best mainstream rock songs in recent years. Certain bands that I first noticed because of KROQ airplay early in their careers included Redlight King with “Old Man,” Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” and Awolnation’s “Sail.” I believe Young the Giant’s “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” are two of the best songs physically released this year.
The album Young The Giant was mixed at the world renowned Electric Lady Studios in New York and was produced by multiple Grammy award-winner Joe Chicarelli, who has worked with Tori Amos, Beck, Minus the Bear, My Morning Jacket, Oingo Boingo, The Raconteurs, The Shins, The Strokes, U2 and The White Stripes.
Young the Giant is composed of Sameer Gadhia (vocals and percussion), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar/vocals), Payam Doostzadeh (bass) and Francois Comtois (drums and vocals). Ehson Hashemian and Sean Fischer, former band members of The Jakes, contributed additional help to the album Young the Giant. Hashemian contributed additional keys and vocals on “Garands” and additional vocals on “Cough Syrup” while Fischer played cello on “Strings,” “12 Fingers” and “Cough Syrup.”
The album kicks off with their first Australian single “Apartment” and we’re introduced to the sweet voice of Sameer Gadhia. The dreamy, sweeping sound of Gadhia serenading listeners is a great way to introduce yourself to this amazing alternative band. The hooky and infectious “My Body” grabs a hold of all your senses. With catchy guitar riffs and a song so danceable you can’t help but rock out to multiple times, it’s no surprise why it remains popular. After all, “My body tells me no/But I won't quit/Cause I want more/ Cause I want more.” This irresistible rock anthem with an awesome chorus is a song you just want to leave on repeat. I could listen to this song all day and still be content. “My Body” is one of my favorite and best songs of 2011.
The melodic “I Got” follows up, but seems more of a buffer between two great songs “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.” At times it feels a Coldplay and Fleet Foxes hybrid song, but is still quite enjoyable. Gadhia’s voice at times does sound reminiscent of Chris Martin, but it doesn’t bother me. Like I just mentioned, “I Got” is overshadowed by Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup,” arguably their best known and most famous song featured on their debut album. The song was previously released when they were still known as The Jakes on their 2008 EP Shake My Hand. “Cough Syrup” is by far the best song on this album and is one of the main reasons to check out this delightful debut album.
“Cough Syrup” highlights the immense talent possessed by Young the Giant. The song starts off, “Life’s too short to even care at all oh/I’m losing my mind losing my mind losing control/These fishes in the sea they’re staring at me oh oh.” I guarantee you will be humming this song all day. Even as I finish this album review I have played it ten times thus far since starting. I absolutely love this song and it’s definitely in my Top 5 Songs of 2011.
The fantastic “Your Side,” the absolutely amazing “12 Fingers and the breezy “Strings” makes you feel like you’re in paradise. You can close your eyes and immediately feel transported to a beautiful beach lying in the sand and sitting back enjoying a delicious beverage. The summer vibes presented by this tropical trio gives you a warm feeling inside.
Two other songs worth checking out are “Garands” and “St. Walker.” Overall, Young the Giant is a magnificent, memorable debut and one of the year’s Ten Best Albums. It’s not surprising that Young the Giant has opened for bands like The Futureheads, Neon Trees and Minus the Bear. Starting in February, Young the Giant will embark on their 2012 North America Headline tour with Grouplove and Walk the Moon.
If you like alternative and indie bands like Voxhaul Broadcast, Bear Hands, and/or any of the bands previously mentioned in this article then you should absolutely enjoy the greatness that is Young the Giant.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Y'ever watch True Blood or read the Sookie Stackhouse novels?
You say you're a heterosexual male... so no?
Let me re-phrase.
Have a girlfriend/wife?
Y'ever passively listen while True Blood plays in the same room as the couch you're sitting on, while waiting for Anna Paquin to get naked again?
That's what I thought, you coy motherfucker.
In said world, "V" (vampire blood) is used as the ultimate psychedelic/ opiate/ steroid/ stimulant drug.
Impetuous Ritual and their full length, Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence, is like V--
but only if it came from Cthulu!
That's right-- Impetuous Ritual creates the suggestion of mainlining the very life fluid of the most ancient of the Old Ones.
More evidence of said controversial thesis:
One, it's like they're seriously trying (facetiously?) to out-complex-name Carcass and the 1000 death metal bands and their obsession with medical textbook terminology that followed in their wake (e.g., just dig that album title);
Two, if Portal weren't fucking weird enough for you;
Three, if you love Sunn O))) and their obsession with sound and its effects on the human body for their own sake (rather than as music);
Four, if you love that photo above (no shoes or shirt, big-ass 7-string string guitar, grizzly fuck-off beard, bloody face, wrist spikes);
Then THIS is the death/black metal/noise band for you.
Impetuous Ritual, Australian, formed from two members of Portal, released Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence (on Profound Lore) in late 2009; since then apparently it has been worming its way to me, presumably via the Pacific then Atlantic Oceans.
That's a creepy thought-- thought it somehow also makes me feel loved. Or at least attended to.
It's low-fi, noisy, blast-beat-ridden, shriek-filled, violent, menacing, incoherent fury that very nearly, if not altogether, transcends the normal functions of music as we know it.
"Convoluting Into Despondent Anachronism" blasts out of the gate and later drops into a sweet noise/doom riff at about 3:00; "Coalescence of Entropy" features some stupid-hard drums, both blast-beats and wildly high-metre 4/4 (I'm guessing around 350 bpm-- and the music-training programs I usually use to practice only go to 340); "Ceremonial Disembowelment," at about 0:50, lurches down into a great tremolo-picked doom riff before it takes off again periodically into blast beats; "Destitution" (instrumental, and my fave so far) is nearly all doom, with a a stupidly-detuned riff in what sounds like fourths (not the fifth of the power chord we all know and usually love); "Ritual of the Crypt" has a fucking cool vibrato'ed doom riff at about 0:50 (new favorite!), and the album closes out with the slow, dirgy "Dirge."
If you're in a mood that's open this type of sound (only scarcely a type of music-- though this isn't an insult)-- this is some cool shit.
Though in all honesty, if you consistently have this on, and love it-- you might seriously consider antipsychotics and/or antidepressants. No functioning human being should be in this mood all the time.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Writing about the first album I ever bought with my own money (Zappa/Beefheart's Bongo Fury) set off a huge Frank Zappa LP listening frenzy that is still on-going. And the one that's been getting daily spins is Roxy & Elsewhere, a (surprise, surprise) double live album from 1974. In Zappa's huge and diverse discography, this is often mentioned as a real highlight and I'm inclined to agree that it is one of his best. The band he had at this time and their repertoire successfully combines rock, jazz and classical extremely well and is a great introduction to someone looking to get acquainted with his music.
Speaking of the band, this is truly one of the best units Zappa ever had. The players are all extremely skilled and can execute tricky written arrangements as well as improvise off of anything and transition between styles effortlessly. Joining Zappa on lead guitar and vocals is rhythm guitarist Jeff Simmons, bassist Tom Fowler, his brother Bruce Fowler on trombone, Napoleon Murphy Brock on saxophone and vocals, the incredible George Duke on keyboards and vocals, percussionist Ruth Underwood and the amazing double drum team of Chester Thompson and Ralph Humphrey. That is a serious group of players and Zappa wrote some incredible tunes that showcased all of them at the best of their ability.
Each side of the album starts off with a spoken introduction by Zappa engaging a rowdy crowd before launching into the music. Once the music starts all the songs flow together one after the other like a suite. There are definitely some edits here and there but Zappa was well known for having the tightest band around and could splice parts from one show to another and the tempos would be consistent. The majority of the album was recorded over a 3 night stand at the Roxy in Hollywood as well as shows in Illinois and Pennsylvania plus a bit of studio recordings. The Roxy shows were also filmed and some of the footage has shown up, hopefully a complete show will someday be released. Being able to watch this band in action is something I've always wanted to see. I know a guy who saw this band with the Mahavishnu Orchestra as the opening act play Brooklyn College in 1973 or 74 and he said it was absolutely the best show he ever saw.
Side one is possibly the most accessible. "Penguin In Bondage" is a racy tune with a great groove that doesn't go through too many time changes and flows right into the short "Pygmy Twylyte" and the hilarious "Dummy Up." If you can imagine a collaboration between Duke Ellington and Cheech & Chong, that will give you a good indication of what "Dummy Up" sounds like. Sides two and three are mainly instrumental but contain a catchy vocal tune like "Village Of The Sun" before the band really cuts loose. "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" is a dazzling jam that bears some Charles Mingus influence and seamlessly jumps through many styles. It's followed by the percussion highlight "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing." Most drum solos are kinda boring but this one is not. The two drummers trade solos before setting up a stomping groove for Zappa to play a burning solo over. "Cheepnis" is a funny song paying tribute to low budget 1950's monster movies before segueing into radically different versions of the old Mothers Of Invention songs "Son Of Orange County" and "More Trouble Every Day." The songs are slower than the original versions and have a funkier jazz and blues inflections. The drummers do some incredible work on "More Trouble Every Day" and a few years later when Chester Thompson went to go work for Genesis, some of the same drum fills showed up on their live album. Side four is dedicated to a single song called "Be-Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen's Church)" that has some inspired improvisation and audience interaction. Unlike a lot of prog rock or jazz fusion, Zappa always got the audience involved and would often tailor the concert to who was in the crowd on that night.
Back when I was in high school a lot of the guys I hung around with were really into Yes and the Grateful Dead. Some of their parents were more lenient so we could hang out and smoke pot in their rooms without too much hassle. The only drawback was having to listen to Yes and the Grateful Dead for hours on end. It was pretty lame but better than doing nothing or standing around outside in the wintertime drinking Jack Daniels by myself. Eventually when they were really baked they'd let me play an album side and I'd usually pick one from this album. I figured they'd like the music when they were high but it was usually too overwhelming for them and after a few minutes it was back to Tormato or Europe 72 for the millionth time. A couple of those guys wound up with serious drug problems and suffered pretty hard lives. Some of them are no longer with us. Maybe all the crazy time and stylistic changes on this album kept me a little more awake. Either way, I've always loved this album and am very happy have it back in regular rotation.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
What a year it's been!
Following the debut Ripple releases of 2010, which found Ripple Music topping several Year-End "Best of Lists," Ripple returned in 2011 determined to build upon the love music fans have shown for authentic, guitar-driven rock 'n roll. And to say 2011 was an exciting year would be an understatement!
Following the release of the Stone Axe debut album with bonus live material, and a companion DVD, Ripple released more Stone Axe via the Heavy Ripples compilation double 7”, with Mighty High, Grifter, and Sun Gods In Exile. And speaking of Grifter, their Ripple debut album is already finding it's way onto several year-end "Best of" lists. Ripple then followed that with the deluxe 10 year anniversary re-issue edition of the long-out-of print first Mos Generator album with a killer vinyl, CD, and digital download package that has been flying off the shelves!
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the year, was the overwhelming response to the Ripple release of Scotland’s Iron Claw, and their first recorded material in 40 years, A Different Game. Metal Odyssey has hailed this release as the "Comeback Album of the Year!" and the band as one of the greatest rock n roll comeback stories of all time!
To celebrate all this music nirvana, Ripple Music will help get the music into the listener's hands with a special, Year-end sale at the Ripple Store. All Ripple releases will be 20% starting December 16th and running into the new year, ending on January 2nd. That's 20% off all releases! All vinyl, 7", CD's and even the special "packages" like the ultimate Stone Axe package (debut vinyl, Collector's edition CD/DVD, and Stone Axe/Mighty High split).
It's just Ripple's way of saying thank you to its loyal customers, the waveriders, and a way to spread the music around as Ripple prepares for an even bigger 2012!
RIPPLE MUSIC STORE
A week before the public schools let their students out for the summer my news station received a disturbing tip from an anonymous source. This tipster informed us that all was not right behind the cheery outer façade of Camp Glover, one of the premier summer camp destinations in Los Angeles, California. My station manager attempted to get more details from our tipster, but the only concrete statement he could get was that the children ‘were being brainwashed’. The tipster begged my manager to investigate, and he agreed. Due mainly to my seniority I drew the assignment. I checked out the necessary surveillance equipment from the station’s inventory and enrolled myself in the camp using their online registration form. Once I shaved my facial hair completely off, greased my hair, and put on some designer tees and a backwards baseball cap I resembled a seventeen year old boy. Huzzah!
I won’t bore you with every detail that emerged from the audio/video surveillance over the next couple of weeks, but I will highlight the event that I found most shocking and strange. On the very first night, the boys and girls were separated. The boys all gathered at the ‘Meeting Hall’ after the evening meal. My video cameras caught everything. Two young men addressed the assembled crowd from a stage at the end of the hall. One of the men sat in a throne-like chair and was identified as the founder of the camp, the Childish Gambino. He never spoke a word. Instead he allowed the second man (his Consigliere), to dole out all of the important information.
“Greetings campers. Welcome to Camp Glover. My name is Derrick. We are going to have a great summer, but first I need to let you know about a few important guidelines you’ll need to follow. First of all, the girls attending this camp along with their leader Belanie are not to be trusted. Treat them with respect, but never forget that they all live solely to break your heart.”
“Second, it is against the rules to refer to any of your fellow campers as a ‘bro’. There are NO ‘bros’ here, end of story. On a related note, you will not find any Nintendo gamecubes around this camp that ‘bros’ might ask you to play with them.”
“Third, every other Friday starting next week will officially be opposite day. We strongly urge you all to not go along with the scheduled activities on those days. Not attending these events will result in your ongoing residence at Camp Glover.”
“Lastly, I wanted to let you campers know about the exciting educational trip we have planned for the end of the summer. If any of you were unaware, there is a long running historical bond between Wallmart and Six Flags. History books willingly gloss over this subject, but trust me when I tell you that the connection is deep and profound.”
Attention waveriders, this is your captain speaking. If you would point your eyes towards the nearest available TV screen you will notice we are only running video clips highlighting a man named Donald Glover. You see, Donald Glover is a man of many talents. You might not know this folks, but besides being a terrific comedic actor (see Community) with hilarious stand-up material (recently featured on Comedy Central) he is also a very talented hip hop artist. The music is released under the name Childish Gambino, and for the next little while we are going to be discussing his debut album Camp.
Let me make this abundantly clear up front. Donald Glover is a very funny man but his music is not, I repeat not, a joke. Is it amusing? Absolutely! Could someone dismiss any of the songs on Camp as simply novelty music? Absolutely not! Each of these tracks provide exactly what I’m looking for when I listen to hip hop, honest expression based upon that artist’s unique perspective/experience. Seriously that is the main thing I’m asking for. The very first verse from album opener “Outside” is a great example.
I used to dream every night, now I don't dream at all / Hopin' that it's cause I'm livin' everything I want / Used to wake up in a bed between my mom and aunt / Playing with this land before time toy from pizza hut / My dad works nights / Putting on a stone face / He's saving up so we can get our own place / In the projects, man that sounds fancy to me / They called me fat nose, my mom say you handsome to me / Mrs. Glover ma'am, your son is so advanced / But he's acting up in class and keeps peeing in his pants / And I just wanna fit in, but nobody was helping me out / They talking hood shit and I ain't know what that was about / Cause hood shit and black shit is super different / So I'm talking hood shit and cool it now like New Edition / Mom and dad wouldn't listen / They left the Bronx so I wouldn't be that / All their friends in NY deal crack / It's weird, you think that they'd be proud of him / But when you leave the hood they think that you look down on 'em / Truth is we still struggle on a different plane / 7 dollars an hour, with vouchers, it's all the same / Facebook messaging hopin' that could patch up shit / But all they get now is, "can your son read this script?"
Need another example of the kind of lyrical content I’m refering to? Try this second verse from “Hold You Down”.
The reason that they say I'm nothin' what they seen or heard's / The same reason Will Smith always opposite Latino girls / They only see you how they wanna see you / 'Til you make them see you in some other way / I'm trippin' off the other day / Cause God knows what these white kids sayin' / Dude you're not not racist cause The Wire's in your Netflix cue / Subtle racism / It's hard to pin it cause you'd only understand / If you were me for just a minute / This one kid said somethin' that was really bad / He said I wasn't really black because I had a dad / I think that's kinda sad / Mostly cause a lot of black kids think they should agree with that / If you're a father, you should stick around if you could / Cause even if you're bad at it, you get Tiger Woods / MJ / We warriors, we all need senseis / Change everything that we've done so far / I don't mean makin' B.E.T. T.E.R / I mean just the way that we see each other / I won't stop until they say, "James Franco is the white Donald Glover" / Yeah, these niggas wanted Cookie but instead I gave 'em Loch Ness / Sick Boi for life, my swag is in a hospice / Aimin' for the throne, Jay and Ye said to watch that / They ask me what I'm doin', I say I'm stealin' rock back
I’m not suggesting that every lyric in every song is going to set your listening world on fire. That’s preposterous since everyone identifies with and enjoys lyrical content differently. I’m merely suggesting that it would be well worth your time investigating Childish Gambino.
Now a few words about the production on this album. Camp maintains a solid, radio-friendly sound for its entire running length. Mr. Glover and production partner Ludwig Goransson clearly studied under the tutelage of Kanye West (no, not literally). Several tracks strongly remind me of Kanye’s work. I mean that as a compliment because I can easily imagine hearing every song on Camp being played on the radio. If the world is just, that may happen.
Waveriders, Childish Gambino is really good. No, scratch that. This Childish Gambino album is fantastic! If I had listened to my best friend and coworker (Horn) when they tried to expose me to this artist months ago, best believe you all would have heard about him much sooner. Ah well. Better late than never. Waveriders I urge you to pick up this album immediately. If you like quality hip hop, you’ll love Camp!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Wh-what's this I'm hearing? No...it can't be. Has the new recording from Black Sabbath already been leaked?
Oh, wait...this is Freedom Hawk's new album from Small Stone Records. Now I remember - and I love everything about it. I think these guys are dope and they have to be one of the best early-Sabbath-sounding rock bands out there right now, other than the newly-reunited legends, of course. I mean, just play these songs I've included from Freedom Hawk's, Holding On, and I'm pretty sure you'll agree.
First, there's vocalist/guitarist T.R. Morton , whose voice can sound exactly like a young and lively, hand-clapping Ozzy, only more powerful. There hasn't been one other rock singer I can remember who sounds so much like Ozzy to me. He's so spot-on and I think I'm listening the Prince of Darkness himself. Really. And that's not a bad thing at all, at least for me. It doesn't hurt that the riffs flow effortlessly from his fingers, either.
Matt Cave completes Freedom Hawk's twin-guitar assault and, along with his brother, Mark Cave (bass), and Lenny Hines (drums), the members produce such thick, rich, 70's-inspired rock music that you just have to hear it. And own it.
The songs, "Edge of Destiny" (link below) and "Nomad", are two of my favorites and they're prime examples of the strong, solid Sabbath aura that Freedom Hawk invokes throughout Holding On. "Zelda" is a short instrumental near the middle of the 13-track album which reminds me of "Planet Caravan". Bongo drums are the only things missing, if you ask me. "Flat Tire" is another gem, but hell, I think they all are. Believe me, I could go on and on.
From their bio: "Hailing from a beach town in Virginia, this quartet blends heavy riffs, a rolling groove, and soulful guitar melodies to produce the sound that is Freedom Hawk. Their brand of rock coupled with a high energy live show, leaves many wondering if they’ve stepped through a time warp, which has taken them to rock’s heyday in the 70’s."
I didn't listen to 70's hard rock until the 80's, when I was a young teenager. Like many others, I started with bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, the earliest Judas Priest and....Sabbath. If you're like me and you can't wait until the Black Sabbath reunion album, then Freedom Hawk are just the band to tide you over. Once you listen to Holding On, though, they'll probably become one of your current favorite bands like they did for me.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Another band the Ripple crew found exciting enough to review twice. Here's Odin's take.
A few months ago my brother and I were at a show and Dying Fetus was one of the bands on the bill. We were listening to all the people talking how they kick ass, rule, and various sorts of comments about how great Dying Fetus are. At one point we just looked at each other and laughed, because only at a metal show would you find people extolling the virtues of a dying fetus.
And then here we have NUNFUCKRITUAL, and wouldn’t you know, I’m going to spend some time telling you how great they are. Metal is so awesome!!
If you are looking for something to lift your spirits and soothe your soul, look elsewhere. Like now. This is some seriously bleak, filthy, raw, evil black metal. Listen to this a couple of times and you’re going to feel like you got dunked in a 55 gallon drum of putrefied remains, then dumped out and rolled through a room full of broken glass, and finally hosed down with battery acid.
This music is truly unrelenting in its corruption. It is absolutely some of best black metal I’ve heard in a while. Sometimes you hear bands that play black metal and you wonder if they are really into it. There is no doubt, when you listen to “In Bondage To The Serpent”, that these are guys are into it. They live it, they breathe it, and the end result is that you, the listener, feel it.
Each track clocks in at 6 minutes or more. They go together, they fit together, yet each track is unique and none of them sound like the others. That’s a huge point in this genre. The tracks stamp their individual marks of evil upon you and the cumulative effect makes you glad to be alive, if you’re into this shit.
NUNFUCKRITUAL have crafted an amazing album that does everything a black metal release should. The evil seeps from every note, every riff, and if you are not in league with Satan, then these 6 tracks tell you what you have to look forward to. And none of it sounds even remotely enjoyable. And that’s the point.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Metalcore!? What the fuck does that mean? Is it metal? Is it hardcore? Is it some kind of awesome hybrid much like a zonkey or a manbearpig? Or is it a shitty excuse for a talent-less band to claim to be both metal and hardcore in order to gain notoriety playing to a bunch of tweens who are just discovering “heavy” music. All of these things are and can be true. With this said, anytime I am sent a new band to take a listen to and they label themselves a metalcore band I both cringe and die a little bit inside. This however was not the case in regards to Fit For A King’s latest album, Descendants.
The boys in Fit For A King start things off with the instrumental track, “Il Diluvio” which leads into the heavy breakdown laden, “Ancient Waters”. Now I am not a religious man but that has never shied me away from listening to my fair share of “Christ core” bands. This song is about the return of Jesus and the denouncing of Satan. Pretty good song full of angry and clean vocals, with plenty of breakdowns.
“I have come to destroy his work, to cleanse the Earth of his name. Let my words pour down and consume this flame. You will know judgment. You will know suffering. The currents of this world have pulled you under, will you overcome these tides? You have been weighed down by the very thing that made you feel alive. Do you have the strength to stay above the waves or stay on dry land? Or are you weak standing in the dark and just coming up for air? (Do you have the strength?). Tonight we'll see this through. And now my heads above the water as I'm reaching out to you. Tonight we'll see this through. The waves are crashing over me as I try to get to you. Every eye will see him and the Earth will shake. Everyone will fear him until there's nothing left. (Everyone will see him, and everyone will fear him). Will you survive? Tonight we'll see this through. And now my hands above the water as I'm reaching out to you. Tonight we'll see this through. The waves are crashing over me as I try to get to you. This is the voice of God pouring from my lungs. Will you survive?”
Another stand out track on this album is “Buried”. Much of the same. Heavy breakdowns and a good mix of clean and screamed vocals. This song is about most of the same, struggle between good and evil.
“I sit here humble and meek. I stand still looking to fill this void. Step into the light. What are we searching for? With our hands held high. There is nothing to lose. Will you take the leap? I'm only scared of tomorrow. We need to die today. Pull the reigns. Can't you control yourself? Buried in thought we waste our lives questioning and what do we have to show? Stained red, You paid the price. Stand your ground, stand face to face. We are getting darker, but I can see what's fast ahead right in front of me. The world is falling deeper, but you're the light I see. The light we see. Alpha of love. Omega of death. I am buried, I am born again. Consumed by love, your love has changed me. Consumed by love, your love has saved me.”
Overall if, if you’re looking for a good nostalgic Metalcore album look no further. Honestly I think I liked this album more than I should of…but that’s a good thing.
Fit For A King goes good with: Gwen Stacy, Underoath, Horizons, Close Your Eyes, Sleeping Giant, Hands
Saturday, December 17, 2011
As the song suggests, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and I couldn’t be happier. Christmas is easily my favorite holiday of the year. Until recently I had been feeling pretty blue, but luckily the holidays have changed my attitude completely. Although it’s my favorite time of year, it can be my most frustrating and annoying time when it comes to music.
It seems like anyone and everyone has released or plans on releasing a Christmas (or as the politically correct would like me to state “holiday”) album. Whether it’s the cast of Glee or Kenny G, everyone seems to be cashing in on the holiday spirit. In the past five years, there have only been two Christmas albums that have made a lasting impact on this Christmas music Scrooge. Back in 2006, Twisted Sister released their Christmas themed album A Twisted Christmas, putting their twisted spin on holiday classics. A Twisted Christmas is a must listen and must buy for all hard rock/metal fans. Now I have a new Christmas CD I adore, which was recently released by the folk duo She & Him called A Very She & Him Christmas.
She & Him is comprised of award-winning actress Zooey Deschanel (best known for her roles in films like (500) Days of Summer, Yes Man, Almost Famous and Our Idiot Brother) and Matt Ward a.k.a. M. Ward (Monsters of Folk). She & Him also happens to be one of my favorite musical duos. Ever since I first heard Zooey Deschanels’s astonishing voice in the film Elf (2003) I knew she would be an awesome lead singer. Fortunately for all of us, she has done just that with She & Him. When I first heard the news about A Very She & Him Christmas I was extremely excited and wanted to buy the album immediately. During my Christmas shopping (in November) I gave myself an early present and bought the album. I could hardly contain myself as I was extremely ecstatic with my purchase.
Zooey Deschanel is a very underrated actress and singer. Deschanel’s hit TV show New Girl highlights her talent not only as the star of the show, but as the composer and singer of the delightful theme song as well. Deschanel is simply irresistible and the whole package. Much like contemporaries Jack Black (Tenacious D), Jared Leto (30 Seconds to Mars), Adrian Grenier (The Honey Brothers), Billy Bob Thornton (The Boxmasters), Jason Schwartzman (Coconut Records), Juliette Lewis (Juliette and the Licks and The New Romantiques),and Shane West (The Germs), Zooey Deschanel has sustained a fruitful film career while also maintaining a successful music career.
After releasing their critically successful debut album Volume One in 2008 and their sophomore album Volume Two in 2010, She & Him continue creating quality music. Besides being the primary lead singer, Deschanel also plays piano, banjo, percussion, xylophone and ukulele while Ward contributes guitars, mandolin, vibes, synthesizer and organ. She & Him released their sweet and satisfying A Very She & Him Christmas before Thanksgiving. The album consists of 12 impressive tracks, which are hip and awesome renditions perfect for the whole family. Zooey Deschanel is absolutely adorable throughout and proves why she is an indie darling.
The album kicks off with “A Christmas Waltz” and “Christmas Day,” but its track three when the album truly begins with a soulful, subtle rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Originally performed and introduced by Judy Garland in the musical Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is best known for Frank Sinatra’s version and has become one of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time. This slow, sexy performance is an interesting interpretation.
Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is iconic, but She & Him do it justice with an equally moving version in their own right. I love this impressive indie take on a classic song I adore. The interactions between Deschanel and Ward on “Christmas Wish,” “Silver Bells” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are remarkable and warrant rejoicing. Their happiness creates undeniable warmth on this solid Christmas album.
Deschanel’s bouncy voice on “Sleigh Ride” is one of the album’s highlights. When Deschanel and Ward are singing together, the sweet sound of their voices is the perfect gift for this Christmas. Another delightful track worth mentioning is "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Brenda Lee’s version is phenomenal, but She & Him’s version gives me goose bumps. Like a light switch, this version turns me onto the holiday spirit. The first few times I listened to it I was dancing around my house because I was super excited. I love that feeling!
No one can beat Bing Crosby’s version of “Silver Bells.” However, how many awesome versions are played with the ukulele and sung by an angel? Only on this album does that happen. This version is a subtle, sincere rendition for folk fans to enjoy this holiday season. She & Him have mastered making merry Christmas covers in their own unique way. The affectionate endearing "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" showcases both Ward and Deschanel’s singing capabilities. This delightful duo demonstrates what beautiful music they can create and I love every moment of it.
Every single time I hear “Blue Christmas,” I immediately think of the Christmas special The Year Without A Santa Claus. Elvis Presley popularized the tune and it has since become a Christmas staple in country music. Even this rendition feels very folksy and country-like with its super slow pace, but extremely effective and emotional. Maybe it’s just because I’m recently single, but this song really resonates with me. Nonetheless, it’s a touchy song I thoroughly enjoy.
Not many people can create a catchy cover, but somehow She & Him accomplish that with “Little Saint Nick.” Much like “Silver Bells,” the ukulele is utilized and perfectly captures the energy and originality of The Beach Boys’ classic. Brian Wilson and Mike Love’s cool Christmas classic remains fresh, catchy and feels like you can play it all year round.
Friday, December 16, 2011
God, that band name sucks. Seriously?
It sucks particularly because it makes genuinely interesting, lushly textured music hard to take seriously.
Anyhoo, Nunfuckritual (aka Danny Lilker in Culted) are, genre-wise, what I'm now calling doom/black. It's got the cool hyphen, like death/grind, and also sounds sorta meme-y, like you're cool for knowing the contraction that for that particular genre of music. As you might guess, they're (atmospheric, sometimes nearly ambient) doom metal with distinct black metal imagery, production and vocal trends (i.e., the fucking of nuns, one can only presume; a very "chilly," i.e., treble-heavy mix; and a strangled shrieker of a singer). Think Sunn O))) with Mortuus singing, and occasional drum usage.
"Theokotos"-- atmospheric/ celestial (irony?) blackened doom/ drone; quite beautiful, like a guitar-heavy Henryk Górecki, until about 2:25 when the vocals enter, and sound like something GG Allin would scream (still over the Górecki-isms, though, you see, herein lies the uniqueness).
"Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen," hits like Rammstein's "Mein Herz Brennt" if it were played without machines....
"Christotokos," the ambient soundscaped sounds (and not necessarily music) of the damned.... "Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore," confirms the Sunn O))) comparisons, and goes for long without any drums, simply a droning guitar line. Of course, when the drums return, they're blast beats. And it pretty much works.
"Parthenogen," continues the Sunn O))) worship (though again, chillier, with less bass in the mix), then becomes a lurching behemoth (though not Nergal and co.) of a doom metal tune; this is maybe the best track on here: it comes off as confident through its many stylistic changes over the nearly 8-minute running time.
Why does this music appeal to me so much? Goddamn-- I need a new therapist.
Overall, an "unrated/ NC-17" vibe here, like anything can happen at any time; menacing, and musically-speaking, surprising; drearily beautiful, like funeral mists that catch a sparkling moonlight.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
This holiday season there are some very cool presents for the heavy rock fan in your life (i.e. yourself, your dad, older brother, the dude you buy weeed from behind the gas station). Deep Purple has a killer looking 2LP/2CD collection of all their BBC sessions and there's a box set of all the good Whitesnake albums (meaning the ones up to 1982). But number one on everyone's wish list should be this monster 6CD/1DVD Thin Lizzy box set of all their BBC recordings. Jeezus, these guys were busy! Thin Lizzy was pumping out albums on a regular basis and touring constantly but still managed to do all of these killer radio sessions and concert broadcasts.
Thin Lizzy did a total of eighteen sessions for the BBC between 1971 and 1977 and all of them except four are represented here. Given the BBC's tendency to erase tapes from the library it's a miracle we have 3 very full CD's of primo performances in excellent fidelity. Disc one is with the early trio version of the band with Eric Bell on guitar. This is an era I'm the least familiar with so it's great to finally get acquainted with songs other than "The Rocker" and "Whiskey In The Jar." This line up was clearly Hendrix inspired but also trying to find their way. The playing is top notch and the songs are good but it's easy to see the band still had a ways to go before becoming the powerhouse unit we all know and love. Disc two is killer because about half of it is still the trio but with Gary Moore as the guitarist. I'd always wanted to hear more from this line up and now I finally have it. Too bad they never did a full album together in 1974 but the 12 songs here are the closest we'll ever get until we join Gary and mainman Phil Lynott upstairs. Gary smokes on a raunchy sounding "Little Darling" and the VD inspired "Sitamoia." There are very funky versions of "Showdown" and "It's Only Money" that hint at what Thin Lizzy would later do on "Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed."
The second half of disc two and all of disc three is the classic line up with Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on twin lead guitars. Phil was tired of guitarists quitting the band leaving him as a duo with drummer Brian Downey. It's fun to compare their version of "It's Only Money" from just a few months after Gary's version and hear how it changed. It took awhile for this group to find their niche but when they did, they were totally unstoppable. I don't care how many times you've heard "Rosalie," "Emerald," "Warriors," "Killer Without A Cause" and all the other classics before, having different KICK ASS performances of them is totally mandatory. The arrangements are the same as the records but the takes are more raw and a bit faster.
Speaking of fast and raw, the other three CD's are all live recordings. It's well known that I love live albums and this is definitely my favorite half of this great box set. There's a show with Eric Bell from 1973 that opens with an excellent version of "The Rocker" and a Jimidelic "Gonna Creep Up On You." Brian Downey really pounds his drums hard and young Phil's voice is spectacular. A 1974 concert with Gorham/Robertson finds the band playing with even more confidence and laying down a heartfelt "Still In Love With You." The solos on "Showdown" are very funky. By 1981 Brian Robertson had been replaced by Snowy White and disc five contains a full hour from Hammersmith Odeon in London. The albums this line up made are kind of a mixed bag but they were still a potent live band. Heavy versions of current songs like "Angel Of Death," "The Pressure Will Blow" and "Killer On The Loose" mix well with the older classics. Disc six from 1983 captures the line up with John Sykes replacing Snowy White. Sykes definitely gave the band a heavier sound and he plays great. Sometimes he plays a bit too much and his use of pinch harmonics can be a bit annoying but that's a minor complaint. The addition of keyboards to the band was never really a plus in my book, either, but there's really no reason to complain about any live Thin Lizzy, is there?
The DVD contains the same "Live And Dangerous" show you've owned for years as well as the 1983 show that came as a bonus on the original DVD. There are appearances on Top Of The Pops from 1973 through 1981 that's the band lip synching to their current hits. It's cool but nothing you're going to watch too often. The footage of Gary Moore & Friends from 1979, however, you'll watch all the time. You've probably been drooling over it on youtube for a few years now but now you can enjoy it in better quality. Gary Moore, Cozy Powell, Scott Gorham and Phil Lynott make an incredible team. Too bad they didn't do more together.
Anyway, 2011 has been a pretty crappy year but you've been good. Do yourself a favor and end the year with a bang and treat yourself to this. You won't regret it. Special thanks to Joerg in Germany for hooking me up with a cheaper copy due to the shitty US economy and favorable exchange rate for Europeans. Cheers!