Sunday, May 31, 2009
Just like the Pope babbled incoherently the day Tommy Victor stopped by our office, I peed myself like a little school girl when Vinnie Moore, the dynamic solo artist and lead guitarist for my all-time heroes, UFO, walked in through our Ripple doors and plopped himself down on our red leather interview couch. Once I picked my jaw up off the Ripple floor, and the Pope found my tongue and gave it back to me, I started a conversation with one of rock and roll's most firey and technical guitarists, talking about his songwriting craft, and his time with the reborn UFO, hot on the heels of their stunning new album, The Visitor.
When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music.UFO's Lights Out was another, as it sounded unlike any hard rock I'd heard before. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
There have been many. Hearing Jeff Beck the first time. Ritchie Blackmore, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Al Dimeola, Larry Carlton….on and on and on……………….
UFO are deservedly legendary, were you a fan of the band before joining? Can you tell us a little of your impressions/feelings for UFO before you20joined?
I was a fan and had Obsession, Lights Out, and Force It. I really liked these records and they had an influence on me for sure
How did your union with UFO happen? Who called whom? And, in truth, was it an exciting idea or an intimidating one, with so many old fans married to the Schenker years?
The band was looking for a guitarist and from what I am told…they were having a little difficulty finding someone who they felt was the right guy. We had a mutual friend who thought I would be a good fit and he recommended me. I was asked to send a cd of my stuff to Phil. A couple weeks later I got a call and was told that Phil wanted me to join. It was a good feeling to be joining the band. I don’t get intimidated very easily on a musical level.
Vinnie Moore has such a unique original sound, Michael Schenker has a unique original sound and UFO has a unique original sound; how do you fuse all this together as you're creating new music with the band?
I honestly don’t think about it. I just write and go with the creativity and whatever comes out…comes out.
How has your relationship with Phil Mogg as songwriting partners developed over the three albums?
It hasn’t changed really as far as the process of doing it. But I think we are more familiar with one another stylistically and so this helps us hit the nail on the head more immediately.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place??
The music comes first. I will write a song and then Phil will write lyrics and sing over it. Sometimes sections may get shortened, lengthened, or rearranged during the process.
In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?
Honestly, I don’t look at any of those elements. The less thought the better. I think creating is much more of a feel thing. Like when you make love to a beautiful woman, you don’t think about doing this or that, you just feel it and go with the flow.
I don’t think you’ll find much time changing in UFO. That’s for nerds who watch too much star trek.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
I am always listening to different kinds of music. I play guitar a lot, and by nature always seem to be searching for something new that will excite me musically. It’s just a labor of love for me.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
One time onstage in Korea I broke a string when my tech was in the middle of working on my spare guitar. I handed him my main guitar and he just froze because he had nothing to give me. I was supposed to be playing a solo and was just standing onstage with no guitar. So I went to the mic and screamed jokingly…”somebody get me a fuckin guitar.” I think our drum tech got one from the opening band and I was able to finish the song. But the whole audience certainly understood English very well because they laughed their asses off.
What makes a great song?
Something that makes you “feel” something when you hear it.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
I used to write a lot of little things with maybe 2 parts and then jam on them. This was how songwriting started to develop for me. I don’t really remember the first full song I wrote. But I do remember feeling a sense of accomplishment. This is probably why I still write and play music today…it is what rewards me most.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
Most of the stuff on my new solo CD called To The Core. Lots of different influences on that and I am proud that I wrote it.
Who today, writes great songs? Why?
Too many people that are doing many different things so it is hard to really mention just one or two.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
I listen to music mostly with my ipod now. So that’s my favorite gadget even though the quality of the compressed files is not the greatest. As far as sound quality, vinyl with a high quality stylus. CD has the potential to be so much better but is unfortunately stuck in the digital ice age. 44.1k/16 bit is real shit and I have no idea why we are anchored there. I can record in my studio at 96k/24 bit but it’s kinda pointless when your music is gonna end up on a cd with a much lower quality anyway. I dunno why no one is making cd players that will play discs with different formats.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
You can go to Bert’s on Concord Pike.
Vinnie, thanks for stopping by, good luck with the new album, and plan to see my smiling face in San Juan Capistrano and San Francisco on the UFO tour. Pope, can you please pick up my jaw for me again!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Initially a powerful mixture of black and thrash metal, Susperia's music became a true melting pot of various genres, connected together with the insurmountable heaviness. These exclusive re-releases of the group’s first two albums – Predominance and Vindication – showcase the birth of this talented metal act.
In October 2001, the band entered the legendary Abyss Studios in Sweden, where under the careful eye of Peter Tägtgren, they began recording their debut album – Predominance. The LP saw the light of day in March 2001, instantly winning acclaim among critics and fans. The band introduced an amazing blend of thrash, death and black metal, bringing ten powerful tunes of sheer destruction. Some reviewers saw the group as a combination of Cradle of Filth and At The Gates, while others spotted influences from such acts as Moonspell, Opeth, Children of Bodom and even Dream Theater. With such tracks as the opening “I Am Pain”, the Dimmu Borgir-styled “Illusions of Evil” and the vile “The Coming of a Darker Time” the band proved that their musical formula was a well-crafted killing machine!
On May 6th Susperia released their second album, called Vindication. Again recorded at the Abyss Studios, this time the LP was co-produced by Peter Tägtgren who, believing in the band’s great success, charged them nothing for the production duties! Vindication was a straight-forward continuation of the ideas gathered on the debut album, with more variety and more power. The group’s songwriting skills had improved - crushing riffs and catchy melodies. The highlights of this album included such tracks as “The Bitter Man”, “Anguished Scream (For Vengeance)” and “Bleed Yourself” – all of which became long-time Susperia classics.
Metal Mind Productions will re-release both albums on 6th July in Europe and 11th August in USA (via MVD). And if that's not enough, the new 2CD digipak edition includes 5 bonus tracks and is limited to numbered 1000 copies. Digitally remastered using 24-Bit process on a golden disc. Don't miss this baby. With only 1000 being produced, once they're gone, they're gone.
Predominance / Vindication (remastered + bonus tracks)
CD 1 – Predominance:
1. I Am Pain
3. Illusions Of Evil
5. Journey Into Black
6. Of Hate We Breed
7. Objects Of Desire
8. The Hellchild
9. Blood On My Hands
10. The Coming Of A Darker Time
11. Behind Consecrated Walls
12. Of Hate We Breed (Live)
13. Vainglory (Live)
CD 2 - Vindication
1. Cage Of Remembrance
2. The Bitter Man
3. Anguished Scream (For Vengeance)
5. The Bounty Hunter
8. Dead Man’s World
9. Cast Life Into Fire
10. Bleed Yourself
11. Anguished Scream (Live)
12. Petrified (Live)
Friday, May 29, 2009
Upon receiving Lazarus, and having some prior knowledge for what I was in for, I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat back in my desk chair, closed out the rest of the world, and proceeded to let the music flow over my body. Hacride combine brutally heavy metal that is as imposing a blend of metal as there is with some fabulous progressive movements that give the music space to breath, then add enough melody to make the music memorable and, with a touch of flamenco guitar, they keep things constantly intriguing. I mentioned earlier that this was complex, and it truly is. So complex, in fact, that more than one listen is required to grasp the full impact of what’s going on in the music. Fortunately, Hacride made the music accessible enough that on first listen you’ll realize that there’s so much more that you need to hear and you’ll look forward to revisiting the album on numerous occasions.
“To Walk Among Them” kicks the disc off with an almost psychedelic sounding guitar run through effects boxes before building up into a senses shattering barrage of heavy metal blasts of distortion, cymbal crashes, and vocal outbursts. Fifteen minutes later and mopping sweat from the brow, we’ve listened to the band power out frenzied blasts of techno metal, shift to melodically rich atmospheric passages, and give us a glimpse at the inner workings of their minds. Mixed in the flurry of style changes, Hacride incorporate some acoustic and flamenco guitars, which helps separate these guys from anything else that’s being done out there. What I really dig on this track, as well as many of the others, is the guitarist’s approach. He mixes palm muted riffs with sustained chords as adeptly as someone like Adam Jones of Tool fame. I never really noticed how much texture that this style of playing added to a piece of music before, and for that I’m even more thankful that I happened upon Lazarus.
“Awakening” is a flat out amazing! Opening with a clean toned guitar running through a goth-y sounding piece immediately makes me think in sepia. There’s just something creepy about that sound and it makes my imagination create old Victorian homes with a lot of woodwork, smartly dressed men and women drifting in ghostly fashion from one darkened room to another, and an air of classic horror is suddenly upon me. Once the melodic vocals kick into this tune, “Awakening” becomes otherworldly. Note the acoustic guitars strumming softly in the background. Again . . . little things that add a wonderful element of texture. As to be expected, the song doesn’t stay in this mode for all too long. This is Hacride, after all, they’re bound to change things up and get a little aggressive on our collective ass. Sure enough, the palm muted guitars return and the steady drums drive spikes through the forehead. But again, listen to the guitar approach as those extra and very subtle notes are dropped into the middle of the riff, making the pattern sound different every time through. The musicianship on this track is seated at the right hand of God. To cap the song off, the lads go free form jazz on us unsuspecting listeners. The guitars are run through some nasty effects that make everything go in orbit around Saturn, the bassist plays a pattern channeling the late great Jaco Pastorius, and the drums come at you like a sudden storm of golf ball sized hail.
Lazarus is made up of seven songs running at just a hair under an hour, so that should tell you that these are no popcorn or bubblegum tunes. All seven tracks come across as epic pieces of art, filled with vibrancy and emotion. The nine minute epic “My Enemy” is a metal classic mixing all of those qualities that we’ve come to expect from these guys. “My Enemy” drives with all of its reckless abandon, yet soothes with its more atmospheric passages. The guitar solo near the 5:30 mark has a fabulously rich tone, partly because of the gear being used, but also because of the way the song is arranged with the layers of guitar dropping out of the mix and creating this open space for the notes to soar. There’s so much going on in this song that I tend to forget that its nine minutes long! “Phenomenon,” which happens to be an instrumental is a tune I just have to squeeze in and make mention to. The build up at the intro with its steady rhythmic strumming and the textural clean phrasing all the way to the point where the whole band collapses into the groove is a jaw dropping execution of composition. The groove on this tune shows that aforementioned guitar approach of the palm muting mixed with sustained chords. The tension that this technique creates is overwhelming and, combined with the steady drum pattern and overbearing bass tone, makes this song a ravenous bear preparing to be released on an unarmed band of Christians in the Roman Coliseum.
I’ve been spouting on about the brilliance of the French Renaissance of Metal, or the French Collective, or whatever you want to call it, for quite some time now, and Hacride are yet another band helping to push the movement forward. Waverider Alex from All About the Music and I have been in many a virtual mosh pit celebrating the grandness of the music, not just because its heavy as all hell, but because its musically experimental and progressive. None of the bands coming out of France seem content with just playing straight up thrash metal or death metal or black metal . . . they’re all putting their own spin on things, pushing the envelope on their own creativity, and they’re all doing a fucking awesome job! Lazarus should pull the spotlight off of bands like Gojira for awhile simply because it’s just as progressively complex and metallically heavy, but also because the melodies are intoxicating and more atmospherically uplifting. Viva la France! - Pope JTE
Buy here: Lazarus
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Then I completely forgot about them. Their new album Ape Uprising! has guaranteed that I will remember them from now on, and investigate their previous 7 records. Turns out these guys have been around for about 20 years and put out their first album in 1996 under the name The Lord Weird Slough Feg.
This is great old-school metal. If you love the first 2 Iron Maiden records as much as I do you’re gonna be into it. It sounds like this band rejected most metal created after 1982. There are some contemporary doom metal influences but very little thrash. The best way to describe this is to imagine if Wino from Saint Vitus replaced Paul Dianno in Iron Maiden rather than Bruce Dickinson.
Ape Uprising! is a concept album about our friends in the hominoid kingdom rebelling against their human oppressors. As a fan of all the Planet of the Apes movies (and Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible soundtracks) I knew this was going to be interesting. Not a lot of metal bands would tackle a topic this weird but I get the impression Mike Scalzi is kind of a weird guy. He’s a philosophy teacher after all. You can never be too sure about guys like that.
Album opener “The Hunchback of Notre Doom” sounds exactly how you would expect it to – slow, heavy, doomy. You’ll be dragging a giant cross up the nearest hill as soon as you hear it. “Overborne” is a short, speedy tune that sets up the epic 10 minute title track. The lyrics are very funny with references to “opposing thumbs/but our battle's begun.” “Simian Manifesto” has the apes screaming that they’re never coming down from the trees over a riff straight out of Motorhead’s “(We Are) The Road Crew.”
“Shakedown At the Six” is a fast metal tune with scorching axe solos. I hope they get to play venues large enough so they can put one foot up on the monitor when they jam out. “White Cousin” gets my vote for funniest song on the record and has some Zep III acoustic guitar to give things a little variety. “Ape Outro” and “Nasty Hero” wrap up the album and story with some solid rocking. How does the story conclude? You’re just gonna have to buy it and find out.
Buy here: Ape Uprising
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sunshine, pool parties, BBQ's and cookouts. Softball games, beer, 3rd degree sunburn, and pulled hamstrings. Nothing quite like it.
Personally, my idea of summer fun it to jump right into that hammock you see right outside the Ripple office and drift off to the sounds of the ocean crashing against the sand. After the nap, stroll on down to the water, grab a cold one with my buddy the Pope, call up up Woody, Iguana, and Winston, and join in on the Ripple office beach party. But that's just me. Whatever it is that you like to do, what we've got here is the sounds to fill summer days. Gather your friends for some dogs and horseshoes, some crawdads and corn, or some brisket and beer. It's all good, and this is the music that'll make it all go down just a little smoother.
Don't know exactly what it is, but there's just something about a country beat, a singing slide guitar, a wailing fiddle, a rootsy voice or chiming mandolin that just cries out relaxing summer fun. So, with that in mind, let's dig into what sounds await your next backyard party.
Audio Moonshine - Let's Be
For whatever reason, I've got a long history with this disc and a lot of apologizing to do. You see, the good folks at Audio Moonshine sent this rootsy treat to our Ripple office nigh on a year ago. After falling head over heels in love with the track, "Slow Motion," I just didn't quite know what to do with the rest. See, at the time, we were being flooded with metal and such, and the down home, countryish feeling to Audio Moonshine's brew just didn't connect with me. But still, I knew there was something there, and over the next year, wouldn't you know, the Audio Moonshine disc kept creeping into my CD player. Time after time. Finally, like lightning coming from the sky, it all clicked, and from that moment Let's Be has become one of my favorite all-time Ripple discs. And that's saying something.
What I got wrong on first listen was thinking this was country music, and convincing myself that I don't like country music. What the fine moonshiners brew up in their Idaho backyard bathtub isn't country at all, it's just exceptionally written, impeccably performed, immaculately crafted roots rock Americana with a heapin' helping of pop smarts. The closest comparison I can give you is along the lines of Sister Hazel, and if you're a fan of that band, I can nearly guarantee that Audio Moonshine should find a place in your liquor cabinet. . . er, CD collection. Starting from the first scratched acoustic chords of the title track, we're on an Americana treasure hunt here, ambling down the dusty roads of Boise, Idaho, leisurely uncovering one gem after another. Twanging guitar jumps in next, followed by Jake Ransom's deeply soulful, beautifully expressive, slightly affected vocals. The melody here is a natural, flowing out slow and easy like an Idaho river, and Jake tosses out snippets of his quirky wisdom like some modern philosopher; my favorite line being "I don't know why my ADD gets control of me/it's like natural speed." Perfect harmonizing female vocals aid in the chorus, which is as tightly crafted as the best of Tom Petty.
"I Can't Breathe," is another stunner, riding a rolling guitar intro over a mid-tempo beat. The boys let the band breathe naturally, organically, building up steam in it's tale of lost love. "Crazy," is a killer cut, kicking off with some fine finger-picking acoustic, while Ransom spins his northwestern/country wisdom, all the way to another mule kick-in-the head gem of a chorus. Hearing this I think of the best of the Gin Blossoms, if you can remember how in their day they could move effortlessly through a tune. But without a doubt, the stunner on the album is the track that tattooed this disc in my head, even before I knew I liked it, "Slow Motion." Unlike it's name, this gem moves at it's own damn happy clip, dancing across the guitar, harmonica, mouth harp opening, right into one of the best damn vocal hooks I've heard in ages. The band jumps in at the chorus, propelling this one into footstomping territory, drops it back down, then kicks it up again to it's raving, hand's clapping over your head, midsection. The rest of the disc flows out just as easily, absolutely perfect craft. Play this one at your backyard BBQ party and just wait for the folks to come up asking "who that damn band is." Don't hesitate to answer, just pour them a big mug full of this moonshine and let the high times follow.
Old Californio - Westering Again
Kicking up out of the dust of the San Gabriel mountains, mixing tones of country, shades of bluegrass, a dry wind of The Eagles laid back melodies, a hint towards the sunshine pop of California's past, the dusty psychedelia of the Moby Grape, and the easy flowing jams of The Grateful Dead, Old Californio comes on like some long lost chronicler of California's musical past. This is feel-the-sunshine-beating-down-on-your-head while you're hiking a sun-baked trail through the California desert mountains, buccolic rock and roll. And it's damn good. Unless you have an allergic reaction to quality songwriting, beautifully complex arrangements, and a down-to-earth, homegrown warmth that permeates every second of this disc, you're guaranteed to find something to medicate your musical addiction here.
Recorded in their old chicken coop garage turned recording studio, this is the real, dust-covered boots deal. Let your mind drift back to the old days of the 1849 California Gold Rush, miners working their asses off panning for gold, settling down in the saloon at night for a whiskey and a good time. Now imagine what the house rock band would sound like at that saloon if they'd invented electric guitars and you'll get the feeling of what we've got going on here. "Mother Road," stomps out in it's Grateful Dead glory, infinitely organic in it's feeling, warmly textured in its execution. The music wraps around you like the smell of a new leather saddle, picking you up and carrying you away, leaving you feeling warm all over. Perfect harmonies, bright guitars, and Rich Dembowski's twangy vocals lay out like a welcome mat, just asking you to come on in and make yourself at home. Make this song the soundtrack of your summer and I promise you, it'll be one to remember.
"Riparian High," is my standout track on an album full of winners. Beginning with a fantastic old-feeling acoustic guitar passage, Mexican horns sound out, taking to the skies like the flight of a red-tailed hawk, soaring over the California desert. Echoing shades of Ripple favorite, Calexico, Eagles-perfect melodies layer on with touches of mandolin and a bunch of instruments I'll never be able to name. This is a rousing song, an absolute beauty, that actually has the power to unfetter my soul and allow it to soar free. "City Lines," brings on more of the bluegrass-flavored Grateful Dead in an immaculately crafted moment of California sunshine. "Warmth of the Sun," finds the boys heading back deep into their garage, kicking the chicken coops aside, and cranking up their amps for an unabashed fuzzed garage rock blow out. Highlighted by some damn intense guitar riffing and an inspired vocal performance by Dembowski. This will add some punch to your cookout. "Lazy Old San Gabriels," brings on a opening guitar intro that shimmers as brightly as those mountains do in the waking morning sun, something that could be said for every track here. A disc not to be missed.
Ted Russell Kamp - Poor Man's Paradise
Back when I lived in Houston, come summer-time we'd wait til the sun and the heat died down a touch (only a touch) before we'd head out to some big BBQ joint and plop on down on the deck, lemonade in hand, and let the music while us away til the wee hours. I saw some great bands on those decks, always sounder somehow better in the East Texas humidity, but if I'd had my choice, it would have been the weaving tales and easy-feeling southern soul of Ted Russell Kamp that entertained me every night.
Longtime bass player for Shooter Jennings, Ted Russell Kamp proves with Poor Man's Paradise that he's a songwriter of no compromise, great depth and in possession of a knack for a great line. Recorded on the road, in buses, hotel rooms, and probably the occasional bus stop, weigh station, and greasy pit cafe, Ted's wry sense of humor, keen observations and strong songwriting blend effortlessly into a highway journey of nomadic Americana storytelling. Blessed with an ear for a melody, and a voice that proves he's nobody's sideman, Ted's music is a spirited, at times somber, blending of The Band melodies, Leon Russell storytelling, the road dust of Kris Kristoffersn, and J.J. Cale southern-fried rock and soul.
"Just a Yesterday Away," should be a single tearing up the charts of alt-country stations across the nation's mid-section. Immediately, Ted's voice bleeds out full of emotion and warmth, through a weary tale of love lost with the remaining flicker of hope. "Just Go South," bounces down the empty highway with a southern funk flavor over a jaunty bass and some slick pedal steel guitar. The Band comes to mind here, as Ted's soulful voice leads us through this roadtrip anthem and it's twangy guitar interplay. "Let the Rain Fall Down," tosses in some mournful trumpet painting this lonely track in somber, plaintive tones. (Again with the horns. Damn, used right they can just melt my soul!) "Long Distance Man," is a double-entendre groovin' trucker of a tune, while "Dixie," is a Melencamp-esque look back through life's rearview mirror, and feature's one of the album's most infectious choruses. Another gem to add to your backyard BBQ or any occasion to while away the summer days.
Pope, grab me a lemonade, we got us a beach party to get to.
Ted Russell Kamp
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Ok, here's the thing. At the Ripple, we're proud to confess our membership in the Dave Allen Groupie Club. Whether his pioneering work with Gang of Four, his funk blow-outs with Shriekback, his big sound swamp rock with King Swamp, or any of his other projects, Dave Allen never fails to amaze, entertain, and some times boggle our minds.
With that lead in, we're thrilled to learn that Polyvinyl Records released Dave's new project, Faux Hoax, "Your Friends Will Carry You Home," on May 19, 2009.
Not much is known about Faux Hoax. Are they a band? Is it a studio project? And adding to the mystery, will these be the only songs the group ever records?
Faux Hoax (pronounced "Folks") consists of Danny Seim (Menomena), Dave Allen (Gang of Four), John Askew (Tracker), and features Joe Haege of 31Knots and Adam Gnade of Asthmatic Kitty. The debut 7" titled "Your Friends Will Carry You Home" relies heavily on exactly that - friends. The goal, according to Seim, is to focus on a new project that involves all sorts of collaborators contributing to songs written by core Faux Hoax members. Intended to be experimental and unique, Faux Hoax will surely leave listeners surprised.
"Your Friends Will Carry You Home" Tracklist
1. Your Friends Will Carry You Home
2. Hippies Will Rule
*Digital Bonus Tracks
Foxworthy (Digital Bonus Track) - MP3
Monday, May 25, 2009
We’re going to make a quick stop in New York for a refill of fuel and drink (Woody ran out of olives and vermouth for the martinis,) so we’ll take this opportunity to stop in and visit one of our rocker friends. She goes by the name of Queen V and she’s released a scalding set of tunes entitled Death or Glory. Everything here is pretty much straight up rock ‘n roll with a dragged through the gutter type of grime to it. What first caught our attention with this disc was the who’s who of guest stars including the likes of the legendary Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead,) Vernon Reid (Living Colour,) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave.) To paraphrase one of those crappy sappy chick flicks, “You had me at Lemmy.” Anyway, getting past the star studded exterior of Death or Glory, there’s some meat to this recording. “Continental” is ballsy and the melody sticks with you like my sweaty gym socks slapped against the locker room wall, “Runaway” grits along with a raspy vocal performance, and “Cry For A Minute” shows an added dimension by slowing the tempo way down and demanding that we pass the whiskey bottle as a sympathetic gesture. “Cry For A Minute” is actually my favorite tune from the album because it’s a ballad-y bluesy tune, it’s heavy and it’s gritty, burning with passion and emotion, and selling the whole song is the vocal performance. Some will inevitably compare her to Joan Jett, and that’s fair, but our Queen isn’t putting another dime in the juke box, she’s grabbing the mic and rockin’ it. Most of her stuff is available to preview on her page, so check it out. www.myspace.com/queenv
The problem with stopping in New York is that there is so much going on here that we realistically could spend an entire columns worth of time hanging around town, digging through the bargain bins, looking behind the dumpsters, poking our heads in the basement bars, and finding every imaginable form of music. Case in point, the full on drunken punk vibes of World War IX. These guys take irreverent to a whole new level with tunes like “Intervention,” “I Was Drunk When I Met Ya’,” and the title track to their latest album “Portrait of Sobriety.” There’s something about this album that keeps me coming back, and it’s probably because it reminds me of that time when I was a kid in the mid 80’s hearing the Sex Pistols for the first time. Unlike the Pistols there’s no huge social or political message being spouted on about here, for the most part, it’s all about getting wasted and being pretty damned proud of it. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Check out their MySpace page and then swing by Zodiac Killer Records to pick up the album. Woody . . . how’re them drinks coming? www.myspace.com/worldwarix
Well, that transatlantic flight was something, wasn’t it? The Rock Iguana’s shadow puppet interpretation of My Fair Lady was otherworldly! So, here we are in beautiful Dublin, Ireland . . . not California, and I want to get you up to speed on this incredibly experimental, barroom bluesy, garage-y band called Killing Lazarus who dip their big toes in the constantly bubbling pool of prog rock. Check out tunes like “We Rot” and how they move that acoustic guitar sound through the wringer and create this sorrowful, yet vibrantly exotic epic tune. In the next breath, they bust out the distortion and fuzz boxes to, up the tempo and with the use of some beautifully executed textural sounds hand deliver the track “Hide and Go Eek.” Follow that up with the proggy, spaced out ambient tune “Germinate” and then drift into the low-fi acoustic, distorted vocal piece, “Split the Sky,” and you’ll hear a band that’s taking the tired musical formula and injecting a healthy dose of caffeine through its veins. Love the melody of “Split the Sky” . . . man, feel the emotion on that one! www.myspace.com/killinglazarus
En route to our destination in Sweden we had to make an emergency landing in Norway. While the Sheriff diligently hands a roll of duct tape to the Red Neck Wookie for some oh so necessary repairs, we’ll stop in and visit a band that I stumbled on in recent days. The band is called Sarke and they’ve released an album called Vorunah that will remind some of you of bands like Khold. Well, that would be for good reason. You see, guitarist / bassist / drummer Sarke, along with vocalist / bassist Garde formed the groovin’ black metal band Khold, so one could see the musical similarities. The music is heavy as all get out, but the tunes have the power of the groove in that they’ll inevitably get the body swaying in time with the rhythm. The tune that caught my attention and wouldn’t let go is “The Drunken Priest” and then, of course, I stumbled on “Primitive Killing.” Awesome stuff! Before we get back on board the Ripple Effect crop duster and head towards our original destination, I’m gonna’ stop in at Indie Recordings and pick up a copy of Vorunah . . . on white vinyl. You should too . . . it’d be like this bitchin’ souvenir. www.myspace.com/sarkeofficial
The mechanical adjustments that the Redneck Wookie made seem to have done the trick and standing on the tarmac of Karlstad, Sweden’s airport has never felt like more of a blessing. There to greet us are our good friends Space Probe Taurus with the exciting news that they were getting set to start demo work on a bunch of songs that they had written. That can only mean that the near future should include a brand new album from the lads, which elicited so much excitement in Racer that he fell into a fit of uncontrollable hiccups. It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. If you don’t remember the Space Probe Taurus review, then we invite you to go back to July of last year to read up on their self titled release, which Racer described as “ a full on assault of methed up, fuzzed out, biker garage rock, brimming with enough muscle and punk energy.” Oh yeah . . . and the music is even better than that. Swing by their MySpace page and see for yourselves. www.myspace.com/spaceprobetaurus
Keeping our passports handing, we next find ourselves landing at the Portela Airport situated in the heart of Lisbon, Portugal. I’ve never been to Portugal before, but I hear it’s lovely. The main reason we’re stopping off here is because word came across the wire that there was a band that we had to check out. The band is called Factory of Dreams and are masters of atmospheric progressive rock. Chief songwriter and mastermind behind the project Hugo Flores guides the music through the multiple twists and turns, moods and emotions, dynamics and dimensional interludes, while vocalist Jessica Lehto provides the ethereal vocals that gives the songs a bit of a gothic feel. Check out the track “Weight of the World” and hear how they take the classic proggy sounds and meld them with an industrial groove. Well worth the layover before our return trip home. www.myspace.com/projectcreation
With the NHL playoffs in full force, Racer thought it would be cool to make a stop in Toronto, Canada. I hated to remind him that the Maple Leafs didn’t make the playoffs this year. In fact, at this point, there are no Canadian teams remaining in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Sigh. So, while we’re here we’ll stop in and see a band that I’ve known about for a number of years now. The band is called Hellhitch and they play this down south, blues-y, Skynard meets C.O.C. type of rock. The reason I bring mention to these guys is that one of the tracks that they have posted has, and probably will always be, one of those songs that gets me every time I hear it. The song is called “Broken Bones” and you simply need to hear it. Its infectious, it rocks, its soulful . . . it’s damn near perfect. www.myspace.com/hellhitch
Speaking of the South, I’ve pointed Racer towards the Mason Dixon line and we’re bee lining it towards Georgia. There are a couple of bands that we need to stop in and see while we’re here. First off, back in July of last year I made mention that the band Echovalve had to put the kibosh on their tour due to the almighty dollar kinda’ fuckin’ things up. Well, word just came down that they’re back in action. In fact, so much so that they’ve posted a new single on their page that demands your ears. The song is called “Because of You” and has a nice, slick production that enhances they’re groove oriented rock style. Their blog goes into greater detail as to who the major players are in this renaissance and everybody involved should take this brief moment to take a bow for your efforts. Good job, chaps! www.myspace.com/echovalve
A few miles east of Echovalve’s home of Atlanta, we come upon Augusta where we find the rockin’ metal sounds of L.I.E. They have a bit of a progressive vibe going on and have some intrigue. The musical passages have something there, though I think these guys teamed up with a quality producer would enhance the sound tenfold. But this page will give y’all a good idea of the thought behind this music. Cool compositions, strong musicianship, well thought out ideas . . . yeah, this could definitely go somewhere with a tighter mix. We’ll keep an ear out and keep everyone posted as to any updates that come out of their camp. www.myspace.com/lostrockonline
Finally, back home on the West Coast and if you’re not exhausted then you didn’t flap your arms hard enough. Last bit of news comes from Los Angeles, the new home Tommy Victor and Prong. Word has come to our ears that they have a new web site up and running that features a free download of an unreleased song from the Power of the Damn MiXXXer sessions. What you’ll need to do is follow the links and sign up for the mailing list. That simple. They then give you the keys to the castle, er . . . the code to unlock the ancient treasure chest, er . . . the password to allow for a safe and secure download of this mysterious track. www.myspace.com/prong. Now that we’re back home and I’ve stopped laughing over the Rock Iguana’s presentation of Spartacus, I’ll begin downloading in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .
See you next month!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
That's funny because I had the similar background. I mean my Dad thought the Beatles was "jungle music". The only "rock" group he could stomach were the Carpenters. Seriously, he would say they had really "nice songs ".
Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water". I heard that on AM Radio back in '72 when was a kid and I lost my mind.
Later on I heard Killing Joke's "Change" at the Mud Club in NY and that impressed me a lot.
The Chrome album "Third From The Sun" really change a lot for me as well.
Do you get a sense of accomplishment when you hear that newer, up and coming bands refer to Prong as one of their greater influences?
What bands do that? Tell them to send me a check then I'll think about it.
That changes. At one time I was a bit of a communist. I lived on the Lower East Side in squalor and that was what I stood for. The lyrics on the first three Prong records show the disgust for mainstream ideas. But one grows out of rebel rock. "Cleansing" had a lot of songs about what I thought was truth. "Another Worldly Device" sets the tone for that record. If there is a message it involves abstinence from the trappings of society. When I got to California and lived here for awhile, I changed a lot. The message wasn't a message. Much of it was selfish, personal and reflective. "Dark Signs" on our record "Rude Awakening" is different than the title track, which falls into that last description. That song is a warning. That one repeats the same mistakes through desire. Now my lyrics have a mixture of both mentalities. "The Banishment" is almost an anthem for the homeless. It could be political like "Beg To Differ" as well, where you leave society as a choice, not through force. "Worst Of It" is classically misanthropic. It's another "Don’t be bothered, relationships are a waste of time" song.
Looking back over your twenty plus year career with Prong, any regrets? Conversely, what’s your proudest accomplishment?
I'm asked this question a lot, in one form or another. I laugh to myself. Any regrets? Try like a good 400 page book worth. On the other hand I don't feel very accomplished. I'm sorry that's just honest. It's just the way I am. I think I could have chosen a more useful career than this.
In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?
This isn't American Idol music. There are no formulas. Its all gut feeling If another part is needed, one has to figure it out. If the vocal isn't cutting it, you dump the song. A great drummer like a Ted Parsons or an Aaron Rossi helps. A mediocre drummer can really make a song mediocre. Of course, good riffs are important. But it's not totally necessary. A lot of bands have these worn out heard it before riffs but good songs. Other bands have amazing riffs and guitar calisthenics but their songs are weak. Time changes work, but not too often for Prong. Some songs maintain a groove and just keep pounding and it works.
The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?
Asking the tough questions, huh? It's scary. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about "what am I gonna do?" I don't know. You bust your ass to maintain a career in your art and it's tough to keep it alive. You want to keep going mostly because of all you invested in it. But time will tell when to hang it up. I still have a job. It's like the US automotive industry. I's dying. Eventually it will be over. Unless you are Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears or Metallica, whatever.
Do you pattern any of your writing style after that of your "heroes”?
No. I know a lot of people who do. Actually most do. They study their heroes. Copy the whole thing. Most people don't realize nor know, so who cares right? That's writing for a purely commercial reason, or marketing potency. I don't know if that's artistry. But in the end all be all, who really cares?
When you write a piece of music, do you consciously write from the mind set of being different than what's out there now?
I'm ahead of the game. I don't know what's out there now. It doesn't interest me that much. Sure if I see a band live that blows me away like Meshuggah, it's influential. But I listen to liquid Metal and I yawn. It seems like I've heard it all.
The Swap Meet soundstage in Bakersfield on the last Prong US tour was pretty lousy. It was a Mexican swap meet in a dilapidated out of business Walmart. The stage was next to a taco stand. The worst. You KNOW you've made some mistakes when you hit places like this at my age.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Saturday, May 23, 2009
"When Death Comes,” received rave comments in the soundcheck done by the journalists of the German Heavy Magazine. The album is ranked at no.5 leaving behind new albums of bands like Amorphis, Voivod, Primal Fear or TYR to name a few!!!
Artillery’s soundcheck will be featured in June’s issue of the magazine which hits the street on 27th May!
“When Death Comes” will be released by Metal Mind Productions on 15th June in Europe and 11th August in USA. The album will be released as a jewel case CD and as a digipak CD including 2 bonus tracks. Japanese edition of the album will include an exclusive bonus track which won’t be available elsewhere.
Also, the world-premiere of ”10.000 Devils” video, the album's lead track and Artillery's first professional video, will take place Monday, 18th June on MMP’s profile on YouTube! Check it!
Friday, May 22, 2009
For good reason.
Arguably, no single individual has left his stamp on the developing world of neo-prog more indelibly than the one man prog phenom and musical prodigy Steven Wilson. Through his work with his own bands and collaborations, Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Bass Communion, and Blackfield as well as his multi-textured production work, found on such prog-death metal classics as Opeth’s “Blackwater Park,” “Deliverance,” and “Damnation,” as well as albums by prog mainstays Fish, Marillion, OSI and Paatos, Wilson has created a massive ephemeral resume of atmospheric experimental progressive rock, molding the world of music to fit his particular muse.
And nowhere will you see this vision so exquisitely realized as his work with phenomenally popular band, Porcupine Tree. What started out as a Spinal Tap joke, with a made up discography and body of music, Porcupine Tree quickly became
And despite all the critical love and attention Porcupine Tree gets, in some ways, it's still not enough.
“Wedding Nails,” brings this contradiction to the forefront, a terror of raging metal, searing guitar riffs before breaking down into a free form avalanche of space guitar, cosmic interludes and ambient fills. Menace fills the air with each murderous chord. And it’s this unpredictability that best describes
Perhaps no song greater than "Trains," sums up the subtle beauty of Wilson's vision. With his delicate voice, fragile in its vulnerability lilting above the acoustic guitar, the looping bass swoops in from underneath. Acoustic and powerful, it became the show closer for years after it's release.
Accessible without being predictable. Powerful without ever losing subtlety. Haunting in its tone and atmosphere, yet clear as a catchy pop song. This is modern prog at its most complex without being overly burdened with technical wizardry. Heavy and light in one breath.
That’s Porcupine Tree.
Buy here: In Absentia
Thursday, May 21, 2009
No, what we're referring to are albums that, on close listen, are actually damn good, or at least have enough good points to make them valuable additions to a respectable record collection, despite the fact that the "real" fans rarely give them the time of day. Usually, the reason for the fan apathy is embarrassingly petty, like the band line-up changed, the band tried a new musical direction, or --heavens no -- the band cut their hair.
In fact, the response we've had to yesterday's post by the Pope on COC's Deliverance is a perfect example of what we're talking about. Rather than allow a band to move onto a new direction, to try a new sound, to incorporate a new member, "fans" of the band criticize them for not sounding like the punk band they were originally. The point of Pope's review was that the past doesn't matter. Each album needs to be listened to with open ears, evaluated on it's own merits. As such, Deliverance holds a revered place in the Ripple office, regardless of how different it sounds from Animosity. It is simply, a frickin' fantastic, fully accomplished album.
We're going to present these vilified albums and explain why we like em. Some of you may agree, many will disagree, but that's all part of the fun. Let's create a conversation about these Vilified albums, shed a little light on them, and discover why we think they should be Rippled. Send us your thoughts for future vilified albums, or better yet, your own reviews of albums that fans shun, but really deserve a little love.
So without further ado, we at the Ripple, proudly turn our computer keyboards over to Woody to present . . .
Aerosmith - Night in the Ruts
“When was the last time you listened to Night In the Ruts?”
That’s the question I’ve been driving everyone crazy with lately. It had been at least 20 years for me and I’m not sure why I decided to pick it up, but I grabbed it along with Draw The Line and Rock In A Hard Place at the same time. Draw The Line turned out to be not as good as I remembered. It has a few great songs (title track, “Kings & Queens”) but for a short album it has a lot of filler. Rock In A Hard Place I knew was not very good but it was cheap and I always liked the songs “Lightning Strikes” and “Jailbait.” But Night In the Ruts really surprised me. It’s not a great or classic album like Toys In The Attic or Rocks (my personal favorite) but it is a kick ass hard rock album and one that hasn’t been played to death.
This album was made as Aerosmith was falling apart in 1978/79. Joe Perry and the rest of the band were at odds so Joe left during the making of it. He plays most of the leads on the finished product but Jimmy Crespo and Richie Supa fill in a few holes here and there. You can get the full story in Aerosmith’s very entertaining autobiography called Walk This Way (co-written with Steven Davis, author of the infamous Led Zep bio Hammer of the Gods). Even if you’re not an Aerosmith fan at all, it’s a good read.
The album kicks off with the autobiographical “No Suprize.” It tells the true story of the early days of the band playing at Max’s Kansas City in NYC and Clive Davis saying he’s gonna make them a star. There’s also the line “the backstage is rockin and we were coppin from the local police” about when cops would give the band confiscated weed at their shows. That’s one of the reasons why rock was better in the 70’s than it is now. The song itself is a total Aero-classic that combines their Zep and Stones influences into one big joint. Classic rock radio should play this song.
Classic rock radio should also play “Chiquita.” It starts off like Led Zep’s “Custard Pie” before settling into a powerful groove with Joey Kramer really bashing his drums and Tom Hamilton’s bass booming. This song is a great example why Steven Tyler is revered as a rock singer. His voice really soars over the band and commands that you turn up the volume.
In Aerosmith’s early days they got compared to the New York Dolls a lot. They shared the same management and often played together before the Dolls imploded. Ultimately, the New York Dolls were too raw for the mainstream and Aerosmith succeeded where they failed. Another thing they shared in common was a love of 60’s girl groups. Aerosmith’s cover of The Shangri-La’s “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” was issued as the single off Night In The Ruts. I’m sure David Johansen was happy when it stiffed since his wife left him for Steven Tyler in 1978. Overall, it’s an OK version of the song but is a little too melodratic. It’s also a little creepy hearing Steven Tyler in his drugged out late 30’s singing a song that was written to be sung by a teenage girl.
“Cheese Cake” is another highlight on this record. Joe Perry starts up the riff on slide guitar (which owes a debt to Zeppelin’s version of “In My Time of Dying”) before Brad Whitford and the band joins in. About a minute and a half into the song, it takes a left turn into double time. The lyrics are raunchy (“cheese cake, my finger’s in her pie”) and then slows down again for Joe’s lap steel guitar solo. In the autobiography he says the entire basic track was recorded live and he did all the parts in 1 shot. Pretty cool.
The band tries to get a little bit topical on “Three Mile Smile” about the 1979 nuclear accident in Pennsylvania. Does anyone want a political song from Aerosmith? Not really but it’s a good mid tempo rocker. And the next song is a cover of the old blues “Reefer Headed Woman” in case anyone was worried they were turning into The Clash. They were both on the same record label back then, maybe they did some blow together?
Brooklyn’s in the house on the uptempo “Bone To Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy),” another song about sex. This is the fastest song on the album and is a real ass kicker. There’s some great guitar solos on this one, who knows who played what.
Speaking of guitar solos, there’s a cover of the old Yardbirds song “Think About It” that has a some more good ones. Aerosmith always cited the Yardbirds as a huge influence. Songs like “Rats In The Cellar” from Rocks and the end jam on “Sweet Emotion” have some killer Yardbirds style rave ups. Garage rock hipsters love the Yardbirds but hate Aerosmith. Too bad for them. Aerosmith is one of the few bands that could really pull off an exciting double time work out. The album wraps up with a Steven Tyler piano ballad called “Mia” that was written for his new daughter that he had with Cyrinda Foxe (David Jo’s ex).
Night In The Ruts was to be the last album from Aerosmith before it all fell apart and Joe Perry was replaced by Jimmy Crespo. The fans and the band never really accepted him in the band. Even Brad Whitford’s replacement Rick Dufay said they should get Brad and Joe back. Things have never been the same since. Sure, they had huge hits in the late 1980’s and 90’s but I don’t consider that the real Aerosmith, even though it’s the same original 5 guys.
The current list price for this CD is only 7.99 so you really have no excuse not to buy it and crank it up.
Buy here: Night in the Ruts
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Let’s just pretend for the better part of this review that Corrosion of Conformity was never a punk band. Let’s just pretend that there was nothing before Blind. I know I’m asking a lot, but let’s forget that C.O.C. existed before guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan joined the band. I’m asking you Waveriders to do so because this band needs to be perceived for what it is, or rather, what it’s not. C.O.C. made the transition from a hardcore punk band to heavy metal sludge lords. Yes, they started off playing music fueled by adolescent rage, and guess what? Like all of us, they grew up. Growth. Personal . . . musical . . . emotional . . . maybe they should have changed the band’s name to match this stylistic change, but they didn’t. They’ve moved on, and so should the rest of us. Okay . . . I’m stepping down from my Pope-box and getting into the album now.
“Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” were the chart topping hits from the album, so odds are that I don’t need to go too much into either of these. For those who don’t know about these two mainstays you should probably know that they’re heavy in detuned Sabbath inspired riffagry, brimming with groove and swagger, and laced with venomous lyrics about Lord only knows. Like most of the lyrics from the band, they can be interpreted in a number of different ways. These two songs in particular could be about drug addiction, suffering through life surrounded by inhumane humans, dealing with the injustices of the world, or ironing a silk shirt. It’s up to you to decide, or better yet, call Pep to get his take on the lyrics. The short story of these two tracks is that the riffs are compelling, especially that of “Clean My Wounds,” and will inevitably have you riff hungry Waveriders coming back for repeated listens.
Interwoven between the dense musical tones, C.O.C. was kind enough to give us short interludes to gather ourselves before the next wave of hard hitting tunes roll in. “Without Wings,” “Mano de Mano,” and “#2121313” are all subtle instrumental pieces, strategically placed within the arrangement of Deliverance to help build the tension of the whole album. Without these tracks, the album would simply lack depth. On first listen, these songs may seem like nothing more than filler, but stop and listen to the tunes, specifically “Without Wings” with its pinched notes and airy acoustic guitars, and you’ll hear that there’s some serious musicality shining between the darkness of the heavier stoned out vibes. Think Zeppelin III to some extent.
“Senor Limpio” is C.O.C.’s musical equivalent of someone getting brained or, at the very least, sucker punched. The opening riff drops in like a pallet of ceramic tile pushed from a thirty story rooftop. Perfect guitar tones help propel the riff and Pepper’s vocals shift between that crazed out, psychedelic distortion to his straight up whiskey rich bellow, adding a million elements of emotion conveyed through a bevy of vocal utterances. I love drummer Reed Mullins approach on this one as well, as he assaults the bell of his ride, creating that ever so unique chiming sound. You gotta’ remember, back in ’94 we were listening to Pearl Jam mumble on about some guy and his butter, Scott Weiland sounded like he was swallowing his tongue while singing about flies and Vaseline, and that chick from The Cranberries was yodeling about Zombies. And while there was the whole black metal underground scene that was building itself on the ashes of burnt out churches, there was nothing quite this heavy hitting the mainstream. On this track, also pay attention to the guitar interplay between Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan. Loose approach and filled with passion and soul.
The title track, “My Grain” with its funked out Mike Dean bass vibe, the acoustic and mournful “Shelter,” and the Sabbath-y doom groove of “Shake like You” are all stand out tracks that deserve high praise. In fact, there’s not a bad track on this album. I never felt that Deliverance so much as fell into the stoner metal category as much as people didn’t know where else to put it, so that’s where they put it. The album’s too thrashy to be stoner, and too sludgey to be Southern rock, and too metal to be punk, and too good to simply be dismissed for not being what people want the band to sound like. Its heavy metal aside from any sub genre and it’s preformed by four cats who wanted to separate themselves from the rest of the music world at that time. Hell, that was fifteen years ago . . . the songs sound just as vital today as they did back then. I stand by that earlier sentiment . . . perfect metal album. - Pope JTE