Monday, August 31, 2009

Rumors Heard in MySpace, Vol. II, Episode 8

Happy end of August, Waveriders! The kids are getting their fresh new haircuts and being prepped for the return to school, the summer nights are a little more chilled, big men in pads and leotards are chasing around other men holding an oblong object of sorts, all of these events just leading to autumn. Sigh . . . that means hockey season is right around the corner. You can’t see my smile right now, but ever see a picture of the Cheshire Cat? Yeah. I think you’re getting the picture. Anyway, I digress once again. This has been a super quality month in music and I’m pleased to pass on the word to y’all. We’ve got rock, we’ve got vocal performances, we’ve got metal, we’ve got acoustic music. In essence, we have it all. As always, if you’ve already heard of the bands, great! Go tell a friend. If you haven’t, sit back and read up on ‘em here, then swing by their MySpace pages (I’ve included links,) and then . . . go tell a friend.


Recently, there was a movie that hit the big screens about a group of guys who road trip it to Vegas called The Hangover. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve been told that it’s pretty damn funny . . . unless this has actually happened to you, in which case the whole viewing experience will feel like a terrible flashback. Apparently, during the movie, there was a song played by a band called Revolution Mother, which is a band fronted by veteran pro skateboarder Mike Vallely. Racer told me to go check out the band, so I did, and here’s what I found . . . some pretty fuckin’ high energy, devil may fuck himself, rock ‘n roll. Who do they sound like? Fucked if I know! A little Ramones here, a little Bad Religion there, may be a hint of OffSpring? Fuck it . . . they rock! The tune “Born to Rock ‘n Roll” is a mover and the kind of tune that plays well on the freeways of Los Angeles. Roll down the windows, light up a smoke, tuck the can of Schlitz between your legs and roll out! “Ride the Sky,” the song from the movie, is a burner and makes another great soundtrack tune for driving at excessive speeds. They have an album out there for your listening enjoyment called Rollin’ With Tha Mutha, which appears to be available through Ferret Music




I woke one morning this past month to read that one of my favorite extreme metal bands was releasing a new album on October 13th. The band is called Skeletonwitch and the album is titled Breathing the Fire. Wanna’ know what they sound like? Okay. They sound like a chorus of souls being tortured by the very pitchfork of the devil. Big thrash-y guitar riffs, titanic waves of drumming fury, and guttural vocals . . . y’know, the sound of modern metal. For the metalheads out there, swing by the bands page and check out the new tune, “Crushed Beyond Dust.” C’mon! That opening guitar riff is awesome, and that groove! See? This is why I dig this band so much! Breathing the Fire, like Beyond the Permafrost before it, will be released through our friends at Prosthetic Records. www.myspace.com/skeletonwitch


On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, we have an amazingly talented and soulful vocalist named Mariah Scimone. Now, she dropped by and introduced herself to the Ripple Family a few weeks ago and I was simply blown away! My God, people! This woman has a voice that will take your breath away. Mariah has that kind of voice that is deep and rich, filled with wondrous flavors and soul. She sounds a bit like Tracy Chapman, y’know, that voice that tells the tale of tortured pain of life, but Mariah cuts loose from time to time and her voice has a power to it that could stop a herd of raging buffalo dead in their tracks. The first track that she has posted is called “I’m Alive” and this is the first experience I have with her talent, and I recommend that you start there and work your way through the rest of the posted material. “Sun On Your Skin” is the next moment that is just got floored. Great lyrics, great performance . . . I could rave for days. I’ll go grab a drink while y’all spend a few minutes listening. www.myspace.com/mariahscimone


Alright, you guys made it back. Thanks for rejoining me. This next guy has an interesting tale behind his music. Singer / Songwriter Scott Krokoff dropped the more practical professional world of tax law to play his music for folks like you and me. Kinda’ romantic, huh? Hang up the suit and tie, jump out of daily grind, then pick up the ole six string, and find a coffee shop or street corner to serenade the guys in the suit and ties who are still toiling away in the soul sucking confines of Corporate America. Scott . . . you’re our hero! Like most singer / songwriters, Scott’s music is a bit on the folk-y side, close to the heart and sentimental lyrics make up the core of the songs from his aptly titled debut album, A Better Life. Check out his page . . . it looks like he’s posted the entire album to stream, and it also appears that he’s offering all of the songs for free download. www.myspace.com/scottkrokoff


Here’s one for you, Waveriders. The guys name is Nicholas Howard and he’s got this great jazzy, soul filled gospel thing going on that is compelling for me mainly because it’s not like your straight up gospel stuff sound. The vocals are filled with these great harmonies, the songs have a smooth criminal swagger to them, and the structures of the songs are all over the place . . . slow and groovin’ for the first half and then busting into an up tempo passage to make sure that you were paying attention, and then back to the groove again. The album is called God is in the City and it’s a remarkable album packed with stellar moments of cool. I get a vibe of that ‘20’s or ‘30’s blues / jazz club scene from listening to this. The fella’s in their stylish suits, hats cocked over their eyes, and a cigarette hanging from the lips. The women . . . all dressed to kill. There’s a sexiness here . . . sultry and steamy. Nicholas has five songs posted on his page, but you’ll want to pick up the album because God is in the City holds two more gems that you just have to hear in “My Hands Are Rough” and the chilled out jam of “Scotch on Her Lips.” www.myspace.com/nicholashowardmusic


Now, for something a little more high energy, let’s head on up to Toronto, Canada and check out the barroom brawlin’, straight up hard rockin’ Surefire Machine. They released a self titled album sometime back and its jam packed with burly, fist clenched rockers that borrow from a simpler time of rock ‘n roll. In other words, there’s no dreamy musical sequences where we sit back and contemplate the creation of a universe or how the Grand Canyon was formed. Surefire Machine write, record, and perform rock unfettered and uncompromising rock songs, and they do a great job of just getting to the point. Their MySpace page features five of the eight songs from the album, plus a handful of interviews. But here’s the coolest thing that the band has to offer, they have a “Secret Single” download that they do every month. Ya’ just click on the SFM logo and viola! Also, take a little extra time to stew on “Walking Tall.” There are some great breaks in the steady bludgeoning and they do a masterful job of selling the tune. Oh, word also has it that one of the guitarists got himself a tattoo while skydiving. That alone should tell you what you’re in for when listening to these guys. www.myspace.com/surefiremachine


On act that I stumbled on, or who stumbled on us, that really surprised me is The Dandelions. They’re an unsigned band with a mere two songs to listen to on their page, but those two songs . . . wow! Somewhat sugary pop oriented stuff, but not bubblegum. There’s an edge to this stuff and I can’t put my finger on where that edge is coming from. Is it the dual vocals, male and female, that create the tension? Is it the more complex that usual arrangements to the song? Don’t know . . . but it’s one of those questions that will sit with me as I kick back and marvel at these guys until the end of days. Both songs are rich and fantastic musical adventures, brimming with compelling sounds, and I’m gonna’ bet that you’ll sit in front of your computer doing the same thing I was . . . working fruitlessly to close your mouth. www.myspace.com/thedandelionsmusic


Before we head out and put the wraps on another months worth of information, I need to point out, primarily to the metalheaded Waveriders, that there are a couple more bands from France that are stirring things up. The first is Way To End, bringing a dark and complex black-ish metal vibe to the scene. They just signed to Listenable Records, home of Hacride (y’all know how much I love Hacride,) and their newest album should be seeing the light of day on September 25th. Check out the tune “Unconscious Evocation of a . . . “ and note that these guys are tackling the black metal genre their own way. We’re not pummeled by a barrage of blastbeats, but rather, we’re soothed by a beautiful acoustic guitar followed by some melodic guitar lines before the vocals leave us incapacitated. www.myspace.com/waytoendmetal


Out of the Toulouse area, we found Manimal. Part man, part animal, and the music conveys this symmetry damn near perfectly. It’s well thought out in the way of composition, but there’s an animalistic approach to the vocals that gives the music a primitive and feral vibe. The vocals are very Mike Patton-esque without sounding like the maniac, and the influence of Faith No More is evident. Now take that influence and combine it with some of the nastiest death metal that’s out there and Manimal is the band that is born. “Check out the tune “The Dark Half” to see what I mean. Fascinating stuff and I can’t wait to find more from these guys! www.myspace.com/manimale


Just as I was getting ready to close the door on this month’s report, I got a juicy piece of information across the MySpace wire. Gov’t Mule are back and ready to release their first album in three years. The album is called By A Thread and is going to be in stores on October 27th. The boys even posted a new track on their page called “Broke Down on the Brazos” and it features the guitar talents of the legendary Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top for the uninformed.) The song sound just as soulful as anything they’ve ever done in the past, but there’s an aggressive groove to it, probably due to new bassist Jorgen Carlsson. Nice guitar duel going on . . . man! I can’t wait for this one! www.myspace.com/govtmule

Surefire Machine Skydiving Tattoo


Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Meldrum

A little over a year ago and shortly after the recording of their new album, Lifer, guitarist and band namesake, Michelle Meldrum passed away due to a cystic growth on her brain. Where it would have been a hell of a lot easier for her surviving band mates to wallow around in self pity, they decided to walk a different path, to put the final touches on the disc and to soldier on in the memory of their fallen sister. Vocalist Michele Madden was kind enough to spare a few minutes between rehearsals and work outs to give us a glimpse of the passion and gut fire that drives this band. Be sure to catch them on the road as they devastate the West Coast this September.



How are things in the Meldrum camp? The band has a new album, Lifer, getting ready to hit the streets, tell us a bit about it.

Its all good in the Meldrum camp! I feel like a pitbull on short lead right now. Love being on tour and can’t wait to hit the road. The new album is a sonic clusterfuck and I couldn’t be happier.



With Michelle’s passing last year; there was a pretty significant outpouring of sentiment for what y’all were going through. How did that support help you cope with the loss of, not just a friend but a sister?

It was great to know that people were out there and it was sweet to hear from so many but on a personal level I shut down and am still dealing with it. Some days are better than others. It broke my heart.


Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

I don’t think that I will ever fully mellow out or run short on ideas and motivation when all I have to do is look outside my door and see the seething mass of bovine humanity that continues to turn all that it touches to shit. That motivates me to write and tour.



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?

I write everyday. A lot. I take it to the engine room (Gene and Laura) and we make it happen.



What piece of your music are you particularly proud of?

All of Led Zepplin 3.....oh, sorry, MINE..well......I don’t think that pride really comes into it for me. I am just happy that I have left some solid tunes in my wake.



What are the plans for Meldrum after your upcoming tour? Do you carry on with Michelle’s name or do you call it quits?

I can’t see that we are gonna stop anytime soon.


Anyone who’s spent more than a couple of minutes in the music business has to have had a Spinal Tap moment or two. Share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?


A 7 foot (tall) black metal dude waiting by my dressing room door with a Hello Kitty soft toy for me.



Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

I am romantic on vinyl, practical on CD and thanking Elvis in all of his infinite glory for digital when I am training my ass off.



Any parting words for our readers?

Get off your asses and support your local and touring acts. They are bringing it and the least you can do is turn up and rock out.The sofa and playstation are never gonna beat a good mosh. See ya on the road!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ripple News - Punk Label Black Numbers makes Entire Catalog Donation-based Digital Download

Beginning today and continuing for the next two weeks, New Jersey independent punk label, Black Numbers, will partner with Bandcamp.com to offer its entire catalog as a donation-based digital download. All albums are available in several bitrates and formats, including mp3, AAC, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis and Apple Lossless.

To start downloading - and ideally, donating - go here. If you chose not to donate (and why should you? I mean, it's not like the label and bands dumped a ton of cash into recording, manufacturing, advertising, touring and promotion, right? And there really isn't anything I should do to support them, is there?) then all Black Numbers needs is your email address and you can continue to live your fancy pants, free-music-having lifestyle.

Featuring Al's Moustache, the newest 7-inch from Higher Giant (members of Token Entry, Grey Area, Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, WARZONE), Black Numbers' discography also includes releases from Static Radio NJ, Rock, Star and Purpose.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Grand Atlantic - How We Survive

Sometimes you just know.

It doesn't take more than a second. An instant. One note, one beat, or in this instant one mutated guitar tone exploding into a spectacle of crashing chords and resounding bass. That's all it took for me to know.

Grand Atlantic have produced one of my favorite albums of year.

Coming from Brisbane, Grand Atlantic molds the psychedelic post-punk ethereal moods of their countrymen, The Church, with the shoegazing swirling madbeat of The Stone Roses, and toss in a touch of garage crunch a la Ripple favorites The Thieves just for kicks.

The results of this combination of psychedelic distillery are intoxicating. The sound of Grand Atlantic is as grand as their name suggests and as open and vast as their namesake ocean. Many bands have tried to navigate these same post-Oasis waters, with variable degrees of safe passage. But Grand Atlantic captain their ship with absolute fluency.

When I say this is an addictive album, I mean it makes crack cocaine seem like salt water taffy. This is absolutely hypnotic, mind-numbingly good sixties-flavored alt pop of the sort the entire world needs to pay attention to.

Like I said, it only took a moment for me to know I was in more than capable hands. "Coast is Clear," is a stellar opening track, floating in waves of sound, riding a Church-esque psychedelic vibe. The boys play effortlessly with mood and tone, the production perfectly underscoring their reaching grasp. Moments of brilliance shine like the light of a nearby supernova, then gently disperse into a nebulous cosmic cloud, only to be reborn again in another galactic swirl of chiming guitars, harmony vocals, and undulating bass tones. This is a huge sounding song, seeming to take up volumes of space, yet it's never overwhelming. Guitars layer in multi-tracked beauty, synths add tone and texture. Phil Usher's vocals are instantly grabbing, understated and remote, they lay a cool edge to the proceedings but still hint at a burning passion underneath. Much like Ian Brown at his best, the vocals gently pull you in while hiding their true menace. The back beat is hypnotic as synths follow the song to the end like the trailing dust of a passing comet.

Then instantly, the rock comes down. "Tripwires," uses unusual synthesized sounds and powerful garage guitar riffs like the best of the Heavy Young Heathens. Power wrestles with the beat, drums crashing in perfect time, as the mutated guitar whines through the melody. Big crunching riffs add the muscle that keeps this song rushing to the end. Usher digs down deeper in his vocals here, roughing up the smoothness that graced "Coast is Clear," adding a touch of spit and snot, and the song rocks because of it. His sneer adding a nitro burst of soul, the result is a picture-perfect moment, a garage psychedelic pop rock masterpiece.

Oh, if only Oasis could write em like this, they'd still be relevant today.

And we're only getting started here. "She's a Dreamer," is the song garnering the most radio attention around Australia, and rightfully so. Add some big chiming guitars, hypnotic psychedelic flourishes, a can't miss rhythm section with absolutely dreamy melodies, and a stunningly gorgeous chorus and what you get is another moment of pop perfection. We hear lots of music here at the Ripple and rave about a lot of it, but even so, we realize that certain bands and certain styles of music will never have universal appeal. They will always be cult or buried in the underground. Grand Atlantic isn't one of those. This is big, big pop music, the likes of which should be pouring out of stereo systems and radio station antennas the world over. I can guarantee you, it will be pouring out of the Ripple Radio Show speakers often. We will make it our mission to break these guys in America!

Those first three songs were enough to make me completely hooked on the band. The strength of the songwriting and the confidence in the performance absolutely won me over. Combine that with the bigger-than-the-Milky-Way production, and the exquisite way the whole shebang was put together, and I already knew this album was headed straight for my year's end list. But, fortunately for me, the album doesn't stop there. "Freeway," continues on in the same vein, gentle and gorgeous, guitars ringing out like church bells resounding against a bright sunny sky.

For the title track "How We Survive," the boys open up a big bottle of Beetles juice and pour it straight over their already tasty brew. Shades of Sgt Pepper roll across the trombone fills, drum rolls, rich harmony vocals, delicate-yet-sweet-as-molasses melody, and full orchestrated production. This song is a mini-epic in itself, a tribute to Beatles-inspired melody and layered studio wizardry. It's actually frightening how beautifully this song is put together.

Then, lest you think the boys are starting to lose it in the world of knobs and buttons, "Used to Be the Sensitive Type," brings it all back earth-bound riding across the back of some nicely strummed Rickenbackers and harmony "sha la la's." Another dose of cotton candy melodies fills this song out with a chorus that will leave residue in your cerebellum for days. "Just Another Ghost Town," picks up the pace and the garage crunch without ever straying away from the beautiful creation already in place.

And it goes on from there. Through one brand of impeccable psych-infused power pop after another. Whether roughing it up with the garage fuzz of "Holding Pattern," or layering on the Beatles-flavored sensitivity with "Don't Say Goodnight,' the entire album has an effortlessly easy, feel-goodedness about it.

Soon the whole world will tune into these cats and their name will be bandied about as effortlessly as the bands I mentioned like Oasis and The Stone Roses. But before that happens, Grand Atlantic need to break into the world's consciousness, one set of happy ears at a time. Do yourself a favor, buy this album now. Make your ears happy, sit back in your chair with a Chesire cat grin, and smile at your brilliance at discovering these cats "way back when." Because soon the rest of the world will catch on, and you don't want to be left behind.

--Racer

www.grandatlantic.org


www.myspace.com/grandatlantic





Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dozer - Beyond Colossal

Dozer’s been around for about 14 years but I never paid any attention to them. Probably because Killdozer is one of my favorite bands I figured that just plain Dozer couldn’t match the herculean efforts of the Madison mad men. Turns out that was a dopey move on my part. Dozer’s 2008 album Beyond Colossal lives up to the title and makes them worthy to share the second syllable of Killdozer’s potent name.

Hailing from Sweden, Dozer sound like if Union Carbide Productions worshipped Pentagram and early Alice Cooper instead of The Stooges and MC5. In reading some other reviews of this album I was surprised to see the band compared to Clutch, Fu Manchu and Kyuss. There’s definite similarities with those bands, but Dozer has a much darker and original sound. Maybe their past records are more generic, but Beyond Colossal offers a refreshing change of pace from the usual 3rd rate Black Sabbath rip offs usually found in the derivative “stoner rock” genre.


Having said that, opening song “The Flood” starts off with a riff that sounds like a faster version of Sabbath’s “Hole In the Sky” but with some definite psychedelic touches. This is a song that gets the Sabbath influence right – the rhythm section really swings, the guitars are heavy without being tuned down too far and there’s an actual melody. The vocals are distorted but not buried in the mix so you can hear the words clearly.


Songs like “Exoskeleton (Part II)” and “The Ventriloquist” sound like something Pentagram could have done in the 1970’s if they had access to a good studio and Bob Ezrin. The production on this record is very impressive. There’s a wide variety of guitar tones from clean to heavy to prevent the songs from getting monotonous. Tommi Holappa plays the leads and singer Fredrik Nordin plays rhythm. The bass is nicely distorted but still discernable from the guitars. My guess would be that Johan Rockner plays a Rickenbacker bass through a guitar head into a enormous bass cabinet. Always a good sound. Drummer Olle Marthans pounds some vintage tubs with considerable fury. Lots of killer fills and rolls that make you want to air drum along on your legs.


Neil Fallon of Clutch does guest vocals on the songs “Empire’s End” and “Two Coins For Eyes.” “Empire’s End” is fast and furious but has hints of Blondie’s “Call Me” in the melody. Neil has the audacity to actually sing “smoke on the wind” during his verse! “Two Coins For Eyes” is almost 7 minutes long that starts off slow and builds the tension and heaviness as it goes along. It goes through so many peaks and valleys it sounds like 2 or 3 different songs that flow together.


If the song “Grand Inquisitor” was released by Queens of the Stone Age you would be hearing it on modern rock radio right now. Too bad that will never happen. Dozer’s a band that deserves more than to be stuck in the “stoner rock” ghetto. This is the type of record that classic rock fans who complain that today’s music sucks would love. It’s rooted in the 70’s but not stuck there.

--Woody

buy here: Beyond Colossal

www.myspace.com/dozerrock

http://www.dozermusic.com/

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ektomorf - What Doesn't Kill Me

Y’know, there’s that fine line with angst ridden metal.

On one side of this line, it can be insipid, self gratifying, meathead music. On the other side, it can actually be honest, vibrant, and a snapshot of one’s mental anguish over deeds done wrong. From that line, the drop to negative is an incredibly steep drop to the bowels of derisive mockery. The reward from walking this treacherous, corpse ridden line is that those who survive and do it right, come out with a product that can excite and inspire all who believe in it. A Hungarian bunch figured out the proper steps along the path. They call themselves Ektomorf, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from this offering (I’ve been feeling negative with submissions of late.) What I got when I dropped the needle on the record was an overwhelming sense that these guys were pissed off about something and I too suddenly wanted to run amok and break shit. What has come over me? I’ve heard angst-y music before and most times I find myself thinking, “Really? Is it all that bad?” With Ektomorf, I finally felt the angst that these other bands so fruitlessly tried to pass off. I felt the bitter resentment of physical, mental, and emotional persecution. I felt the pain, and the hatred, and the violent need to react with force. What Doesn’t Kill Me is a cathartic release of demons that possessed a group of guys from a small, impoverished nation, and frankly, I’m buying what they’re selling.


“Rat War” crushes through the walls like a tank! The tune is a detuned, throbbing groove number, reminding me at times of Streetcleaner era Godflesh. It’s heavy as all hell, aggressive, unrelenting, punishing with its low end power, and to the point without meandering to some deeper psychological meaning to it all. It’s all about dealing with the cock mangler’s who try to keep us down. Fighting the power with a clenched fist and a violent mind, standing up for your rights regardless of how beaten down you are. Anthemic in spirit, punk rock in attitude, this is the kind of song that goes with a cup of coffee better than a dozen glazed donuts. High energy from start to finish, “Rat War” immediately grabbed my attention and made me reassess my previous feelings about angst laden metal. Being just a hair over two minutes long, this song is perfectly penned to capture the essence of the pure, unadulterated revilement towards the status quo in a concise manner. Finally . . . a band that’s come along who can deliver the goods, as the great Rob Halford would say. But, would the rest of the album hold this kind of intensity?


Whoa! “Nothing Left” picks up exactly where “Rat War” left off. A bit slower in tempo, but the intensity is more than adequate. Again, overwhelmingly heavy, it’s filled with great breaks and enough instrumental texture to keep the song from sounding like a standard 4/4 beat down. Most importantly, the message comes across loud and clear, never once feeling like the nonsensical ranting of a privileged pretty boy. The honest delivery of the vocals, filled with enough venom to kill upon contact, take center stage as the music crushes small villages that stand in its way. One part hardcore, one part metal, one part industrial . . . damn, Ektomorf have pretty much covered all of the musical styles that have no problem flexing muscle. Though, What Doesn’t Kill Me is a bit one dimensional, in that there aren’t a whole lot of a variations of emotion, the band does an excellent job of adding slight textural wrinkles within the music to keep it interesting.


The workout song of the decade is the title track. “What Doesn’t Kill Me” is the perfect mindset for this album and aptly captures the mood for the entire album. The tune is a chugga-chugga fest, packed with intense guitar riffery and the kind of attitude that usually starts a riot. Again, the vocals are like a steel trash can being crushed over the back of the head. In your face, filled with rage, and perfectly reflecting the attitude that this dude’s had enough of the bullshit. He’s faced the ridicule and torment of social inequality, and he’s stronger from it. This is a bad ass tune!


Fairly simplistic in structure, the songs on What Doesn’t Kill Me follow the rule of simple is beautiful, or at least, sometimes the simple ways are the better ways. Let’s face it, What Doesn’t Kill Me isn’t going to win any awards for Breakthrough Technical Album of the Year, but that’s not the point of the album. As the vocalist so eloquently states at the beginning of “Love and Live,” “all I feel is pain!” this album is about that pain and dealing with it, whether it be strictly through the conviction of beliefs or fighting against the oppressive forces that have turned the perception of the world black. This is the first time that I’ve ever felt an angst ridden metal album come across so damn honest! On more than one occasion while living with this album, I’ve pictured with my mind’s eye being so frustrated with life that I’ve holed myself away in my closet and screamed at the top of my lungs for the world to die. Every negative emotion that runs through our being has to be released and Ektomorf have exorcised those demons in concise and systematic fashion. There’s not much else to say about this. If you’re in need of an album that’s gonna’ get the blood flowing, whether it be for a physical work out, getting pumped up for that big sales meeting, or just getting out of bed, What Doesn’t Kill Me is the album that should be within arm’s reach. - Pope JTE



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ripple News - Stone Axe Tour

Now, it wasn't that long ago that Tony Reed and his partner Dru Brinkerhoff blew us away with their blues-stewed concoction of amazing retro-rock, Stone Axe. Knowing that this was another project from the ever busy Mos Generator madman, Reed, I just assumed it would be a one-off sort of project with no hope of a tour or chance to see the guys blow through their fiery Free/Bad Comapny/Whitesnake rock live.

Yep, count me wrong.

Great news for all you waveriders, Stone Axe is indeed going out on tour and damn if it isn't going to be dandy. I'm planning on catching them Oct 23rd in San Francisco (hey Pope, you free?) but in truth, I'm kicking myself for missing the chance to watch the amazing Stone Axe tear it up with our own Ripple brother, Woody and the Mighty High gang out in Brooklyn. Oh yeah, Ripple favorities Sun Gods in Exile are on the bill that night also. A show for the ages.

Wherever the opportunity arises for you, don't miss this chance. Stone Axe are the real deal, and I can almost personally guarantee you they'll slay it live.

Here's the dates from the Stone Axe myspace.

Upcoming Shows ( view all )
Aug 21 2009 9:00P
COO COOS NEST(w/ 3d witch hunt) Port Angeles, Washington
Aug 22 2009 9:00P
WINTERLAND(w/dirty hollywood) Bremerton, Washington
Aug 28 2009 9:00P
THE BIT SALOON(w/kandi coded, all bets on death, the kamikazies) Seattle, Washington
Aug 29 2009 8:00P
HELL’S KITCHEN(w/jucifer) Tacoma, Washington
Sep 3 2009 9:00P
GENO’S (w/sun gods in exile) Portland, Maine
Sep 4 2009 8:00P
THE CHARLESTON(w/sun gods in exile) Brooklyn, New York
Sep 5 2009 3:00P
KRUG’S PLACE - Stoner Hands of Doom festival X (3:00) Frederick, Maryland
Sep 6 2009 8:00P
THE EAST END(w/sun gods in exile - many more bands tba) Newark, Delaware
Sep 7 2009 8:00P
McCORMACK’S(w/inter arma) Richmond, Virginia
Sep 8 2009 8:00P
DRIPS(w/ asound) Hickory, North Carolina
Sep 10 2009 8:00P
SHENANIGANS(w/ chuk cooley acoustic) Tulsa, Oklahoma
Sep 11 2009 8:00P
ROCK STAR (w/blood of the sun) Fort Worth, Texas
Sep 12 2009 8:00P
HEADHUNTERS(w splithoof & blood of the sun) Austin, Texas
Oct 10 2009 9:00P
THE RED ROOM Portland, Oregon
Oct 17 2009 8:00P
CLUB MOTOR Seattle, Washington
Oct 22 2009 9:00P
ASH STREET SALOON Portland, Oregon
Oct 23 2009 9:00P
tba San Francisco, California
Oct 24 2009 10:00P
THE ALIBI (the shankers & the ravens) Arcata, California

Monday, August 24, 2009

Garage Rock Mania! - Lost in Tyme Fanzine CD and the Debut 7" from The Royal Hangmen

We've got a special twofer going with today's post, but the intentions are the same; to alert all you waveriding fans of classic, vox organ-tinged, maximally fuzzed out 60's garage rock and roll of the hottest thing going on in the genre you love.

If the descriptions in that last sentence appeal to you at all, or if names like The Sonics, The Standells, The Electric Prunes, The Kinks, The Seeds, or the Animals get your blood going, and you've been dying to learn more about what's happening these days in the Garage Rock scene, then I've got just the thing for you.

Coming from the garage rock captial of . . . Greece . . . Lost in Tyme is a mini-media empire in the budding that you need to acquaint yourselves with. What originally started out as a garage rock fanzine in 2004, rightly became much more with the introduction of Lost In Tyme Records, a vehicle for LIT mainmen, Peris and John Alexopoulos (leader of the Greek garage band Sound Explosion) to bring to vinyl all the classic garage rock that bleeds through his veins. Previously, we'd written about the classic 7" platter served up by LIT's Garage Gods; today we're going to take a little deeper look into the musty garage that Lost in Tyme calls home.



The Royal Hangmen - Mary Jane b/w You Better Tell That Girl

Hailing from Zurich, Switzerland, The Royal Hangmen make their LIT debut in a raging fury of swirling vox organ and helter-skelter screaming vocals. And let me tell you, these cats got it down right. From the mod-sixties styling on their 7" cover to the insane garage-rock blow-up that lingers inside, these guys are the real deal. Pulse-pounding riffing starts "Mary Jane" on the right foot, complimented by some pulverizing bass playing and floating organ chords that will get your head spinning faster than a 7-11 hotdog on the rotissarie. Add in some seriously enthusiastic Sonics-styled vocals and we got ourselves a burner.

Flipside, "You Better Tell That Girl," does nothing to slow down the proceedings. Adding a slightly more pop-friendly sheen of jangly 12-string guitars and some real radio-friendly melodies, this song torches all the way through the damn fine sing-along chorus. A real treat for all fans of 60's inspired garage rock, and not one to be missed. Pressed in limited editions, you might want to pop on over to the LIT myspace page right away to claim yours before they're all gone.




Lost In Tyme Fanzine - #3 with 30 Track CD Compilation

Like I said at the beginning of this article, the Lost In Tyme empire started with one man's love of garage rock, an undying, single-minded determination to find the best of it, and a relentless desire to make sure it never dies. All of this love and passion originally manifested in the Lost In Tyme Fanzine and CD that started in 2004 and continues to this day. So far four issues have been published, of which I've read two, and let me tell you as clearly as I can; if garage rock is your genre, you don't want to miss this.

For the sake of shortness (so I can get back to listening to some pounding LIT singles) we're only going to talk about issue #3, the first issue I read, and my portal into the low-fi world of Peris and John's minds. The love this guys puts into his project is mindboggling and more contagious than the swine flu. This cat lives, breathes, eats, sleeps (and probably lots of things we can't mention in a family website) garage rock. He searches the world, digging through the earth of places I'd never think of, to unearth anything garage and good. And damn, can he find em! Besides new updates on old classics, this one issue alone introduced me to a boatload of new garage rock bands that I'd never even heard of, but now can't stop listening to.

Lost In Tyme fanzine+cd Issue #3 contains exclusive interviews with: Question Mark & The Mysterians, Sick Rose, Bo-Weevils, Purple Merkins Vipers, Mod Fun, Waistcoats, Rookies, Glads, Movements, Evil Thingies VS The Way-Outs, Teddy Boys From The Crypt, Fabio (Hunchmen), B-Back, and the Fleshtones. Articles introducing you to new bands like: Cheaters, Ravens, Brain Drain, Mojomatics, Riots, Phantom Keys, Rockdoras, Spinns, and Higher State. Add in some articles about Peruvian Rock of 60’s, Ping Pong Records and a great article about the 60’s Underground Press in USA. There's also news about the genre you love and more than 70 reviews (Lp, 7”, Cd, Fanzines and Dvd). And the whole shebang is dressed up with a great cartoon cover by Darren Merinuk!

And that's not all. When I say the fanzine comes with a 30 track compilation CD, I don't mean it's a random assortment of crap, collected together and dumped on you to steal your dime. Jesus, I have no idea where they find all these bands, but the CD is a truly amazing collection, absolutely alone worth the price of fanzine. As I'm writing, Riots are blasting a rough-and-tumble mash-up "Tell Me Tonight," through my stereo speakers and it sounds fucking phenomenal. And this already followed rave-ups by Sick Rose, Mod Fun, Waistcoats, Rookies, B-Back, Movements, and so many more. The Ravens hit me with a jangly, bluesy "Lonely Eyes." The Purple Merkins explode in a gas-and-smoke puff of fuzz for "She's Coming Home," meanwhile the Phantom Keys get the party started with the jumping "In the Summer Time." We've got garage rock from just about every country imaginable; from Sweden, Canada, Germany, USA, Italy. . . they even got garage rock from Peru!

To make this package even more irresistible, these aren't old retreads of songs floating around the interweb. Each of the 30 tracks is either an exclusive, previously unreleased, or unheard demo material. All brought together in one package guaranteed to make the intense collector melt into a bubbling puddle of drool.

Seriously, if you're a fan of the Nuggets series, you gotta check this out. The fuzzed out, psych-inflected garage rock you love isn't dead, it's alive and well and living in Greece.

www.myspace.com/lostintymercords
www.myspace.com/lostintymefanzine

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Sound & Shape

Complex. Melodic. Virutostic. Compelling. Just a few words that could be bandied about when describing the intensely cool new band, Sound&Shape. Squeezing the band onto the Ripple red leather couch, we asked guitarist/singer Ryan Caudle and drummer Jerry Pentecost to fill us in on what makes the band tick.

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. 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?



Ryan: For me the biggest one, the one that has had the longest lasting impact, was hearing the Beatles for the first time. My first grade teacher brought in Help! on vinyl to play while the class read. As soon as he put it on I freaked out. I actually closed my book and took my chair and went and sat in front of the record player. I went home that night and asked my mom about the Beatles and to her credit (and probably her regret years later haha) she went out and bought me like 5 Beatles tapes the next day. I wore those things out. After that I got into Zeppelin ( I think I had a Journey period around the age of 11 or so) and so on and so forth. The next real big epiphany came when I listened to The Wall all the way through and actually understood it! Haha. It's always great discovering a piece of music that you can relate to and really hits you. Hopefully we can provide that for people at some point.


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?


Ryan: It works in a few different ways. We write a good portion of the music collectively so I normally wait to write lyrics until after the songs are fleshed out for the most part. Having said that I have a few notebooks filled up with lyric fragments, fully formed ideas, or just pairings of words. On all the new stuff we've been writing it's definitely been a more collaborative process than ever before. Out of the ten new songs we have I think maybe only 1 or 2 of them were brought in fully formed by me and one of them is all Dave. Otherwise it usually starts with one of us bring a riff or a chord progression in and we'll all learn it, internalize it, and see where it takes us. Sometimes it takes us in three different directions but that's where you have to learn the art of compromise haha. Lyrically, I spend most of my days pondering the cosmos (haha) so I tend to come up with really expansive themes and stories, but I am making a concentrated effort to distill these ideas down to their rawest components and tell the whole story in one song, instead of spreading the narrative out over the length of the whole album.



Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Ryan: Life in general really. Everything has movement to it...a rhythm...a melody. Without getting too cosmic about it, an everyday conversation..either one I am having or maybe its one I am overhearing on the bus or at work, can unleash a flood of inspiration. Something most people don't think about is that everyone has a story. People are mostly self-centered and don't realize that just because someone walks out of a room, they don't stop existing. They have a past, present and future...they have a story too. The beauty of being a musician is you can take the amount of time that this person was in your life, be it 3 minutes or 30 years, and use your experiences and creativity to fill in the blanks. That's what's great about both sides of the musical equation. As a lyricist I can write something that I feel very strongly about, in reaction to something that happened in my own life, and someone all the way across the world can hear it and relate to it on an emotional level. If you're truly tapped into the honestly creative part of yourself even the most mundane detail of daily existence is enough to open the floodgates.



Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

Jerry: Raw, aggressive, thought provoking, progressive and not only in the way that we're a prog band. I don't believe in labels. All music should be progressive.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel

Jerry: I don't think there's a main message we are trying to spread. We're just 3 guys that love to play music. If there is anything I want to share with them it is passion. I like to inspire people to find something that makes them as happy as drums make me.


In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes

Ryan: I personally think that if you start "looking" for things in a song it almost always zaps the passion from it. We write very naturally. When I come up with a part I play with it until the next part comes out organically. The tricky part is then when we get together as a band. Whoever's idea it is that we happen to be working on will normally have a few changes in mind that they feel are "right" or "correct" but somebody else will feel differently. And that's where the beauty of collaboration and compromise comes in. You have to really love the people you're writing with to be comfortable with changing something from what you originally felt in your heart. You have to let go of your ego and realize that just because the idea is different it doesn't make it "wrong". There are no "rights" or "wrongs" in rock and roll. I'm definitely the most stubborn in the band when it comes to that though haha. I'm ok with calling myself out in that respect. But I trust Dave and Jerry with my life so how could I not trust their musical opinions? Egos ruin more bands than anything else. It's a sad fact.


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?

Jerry: This business is cutthroat, but I love music enough that it could never put out my fire. That's why we are independent. We have worked with shady people in the past and we have learned our lesson. It's hard to find good people in this business so if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. We try to put out good, honest music and let the fans decide. Really, the power is in your (the fans) hands.


Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Ryan: There are so many it's hard to know where to begin. There have been hospital visits, arrests, we've played every kind of venue imaginable from the snack bar of a little league ballpark to a giant inflatable dome. We've played stages so small we literally had to be on top of each other and stages so big we had to shout to talk. Jerry and I have both fallen onstage a number of times...it's the random craziness that makes touring so much fun.

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

Ryan: That's a tough one. Artistically I'd have to say wherever the muse takes us. I hope in ten years time we have established enough of an audience that's interested in our work to keep us on our toes.


What makes a great song?

Ryan: That's another tough one and to be honest I don't think I can answer it with any amount of truth. I'd love to be able to explain why a Dylan song like "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" captivates as much as a Yes song like "Close To The Edge" does. Actually now that I think about it I'm glad I can't explain it. That's what makes music such a powerful thing...the fact that it conjures up different emotions in different people. You can't describe to someone else what a specific emotion feels like.


Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

Ryan: Jeeze...that was a long time ago! I remember where I was and how old I was but I couldn't tell you a single thing about the actual song haha. I was about 10 years old and I remember I hid the piece of paper with the lyrics on it in between my mattress and box spring so nobody would find it. I remember thinking "I know this isn't good...but I can get better." A couple years later I was going through a family issue or 2 and I would stay in my room for hours and hours recording songs on my dual tapedeck....just going back and forth between the two overdubbing stuff. It sounded absolutely terrible! I would do the drums and bass on my dads keyboard, an old Yamaha DX7 (the Full House synthesizer). None of the stuff was groundbreaking, to put it mildly, but I definitely think all of that has had an impact on who I am now as a person and a musician.


What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Jerry: I am most proud of my work on "The Solitary Journey" which is the last track on The Love Electric and a song we did as a B side for "Where Machines End Their Lives." It will never be released but it was a good song.


Who today, writes great songs? Why?

Ryan: Not knocking modern music really but the people writing great songs today are the people who have been writing great songs for the last 40 years...Dylan, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Springsteen, etc. There are many great new writers and new bands out there but the sad fact is they are being overshadowed by the current state of the mainstream. I personally tend to stick to the classics myself. Having said all that I think the new Mastodon record is quite amazing and I am super glad to see a band like that getting the recognition they deserve.



Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Jerry: I don't really have a favorite. I have tons of cassettes, cds and vinyl. I'm not really a fan of digital but I do have a bunch of music on my laptop. I like have physical copies. I love looking at inserts.



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?

Ryan: Nashville has a few really good ones...The Great Escape and Phonoluxe, but the one you REALLY have to hit is Grimeys. Amazing selection, great staff...they are kind of the hub of the Nashville rock scene.

Thanks guys. Waveriders, check out the band's page and be prepared to be blown away and enraptured at the same time.

www.myspace.com/soundandshape1

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ripple News - Paul Collins of The Beat and John Wicks of The Records Exclusive Videos and Living Room Tour Update


The Pope and I just can't get over how extremely cool this is.

The chance to see two major pioneers of powerpop, shedding the amps, and playing a series of intimate, acoustic, living room show in your own fricking living room just doesn't come around everyday. These two cats shouldn't need any introduction. Paul Collins (along with Peter Case in the Nerves, and then in his own band The Beat) and John Wicks (with his beautifully melodic powerpop in The Records) essentially created a genre of music that lasts to this day. Their seminal records stand the test of time as true classics.

As we reported earlier, they're setting out on a series of concert dates and living room shows. The West Coast tour kicks off Aug 23rd (which is tomorrow) at McCabes in Santa Monica. Tickets are available at the McCabe’s website at http://www.mccabes.com/condata.html. Following the Mccabe's show, John will be joining Paul onstage for a few of the Beat west coast shows and then they will cap things off with a short tour of Spain.

And finally, John and Paul did living room shows this past summer and the news is that things went wonderfully, so well in fact that the guys would like to continue doing more. They're planning a house tour of California in Nov/Dec and we already are making plans to have them stop by the Ripple office for a live performance, simulcast over the ever-popular Ripple Radio Show!

If any waveriders would like information on having John and Paul perform at their home, email Rich Rossi, for more info at martinitimerossi@gmail.com.

Now, as a special teaser, we at the Ripple are thrilled to present to you two exclusive videos. The first one is the cats doing The Beat classic, "Rock and Roll Girl," and the second is "That's What Life is All About." Both videos were made by Tom Weber Video Services, Pittsburgh, PA, and are from John and Paul's first ever appearance together in May 2009.

You won't find these videos anywhere else, so dig in and enjoy!




Friday, August 21, 2009

1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame

Wrapping up our week from Candlelight Records, we’re proud to shine the spotlight on one of the darkest, most imposing discs to leave scorch marks of Hades flames across my desk. 1349’s Revelations of the Black Flame has stirred up some controversy in the realm of black metal, though I can’t quite comprehend it. Revelations is, to my ears, black metal perfection in the way of Enslaved’s classic Below the Lights. Every song adds something new, intrigue in dynamics, and the album as a whole doesn’t relegate itself to being limited to a genre’s definition. Don’t get me wrong. This is a brutally dark and sinister slab of molten black metal, but these guys have taken this desolate form of expression and added layers upon layers of nuance to the music. So much so, that the whole thing becomes a compelling and addictive listen. I had read bits about 1349 for a few years and naturally, my curiosity was peaked. I was fully expecting the blackened screech of a thousand tortured souls to greet me as I dropped the needle on the record, and in so many ways, that did happen. However, there was more to the experience. While listening to Revelations, I never expected that I would spend the next hour with my jaw firmly nestled in the fibers of my carpet.

In my mind’s eye, the musical swirls like the smoke rising from a thousand burning corpses. Through the smoke and flames, jagged mountains jut from the earth, cast in shadows and bathed in hues of red. A line of robed figures drag limp forms of humanity along paths etched in the sides of the mountains, their way lit only by the burning torches in their hands. The valley below is immersed in smoke from the dying fires. And through it all, the slow, methodical and patient sounds of the musical intro builds. The tortured screams of those thousand souls eventually grow silent as the primitive sounding beat of steel against steel rings out, and the mega sized guitar riffs creep into the mix. Folks, within three minutes, 1349 grabbed my attention to the fullest extent and had me clinging to every note that spilled from the speakers. “Invocation” is as fascinating an intro as I’ve ever heard and I found it amazing that the fusion of these sounds could have such a powerful impact on my psyche. Oh yeah . . . it’s dark. The introduction screams let you know that right off the bat, but the songs then flows into a pool of ambient sounds before the hard edged metal sounds poke their head through the surface. All budding black metal mongers should take note of this song, as it perfectly sets the mood for the entire album and acts as a guide line for a compelling, and attention grabbing introduction.

1349 tears through a variety of moods throughout Revelations of the Black Flame and it’s the midpoint of the album that best emphasizes that point. Fourth track, “Maggot Fetus Teeth Like Thorns” blasts with all of the guitar rifferery of men trying to expel their demons . . . deep tones, something that’s raised an eyebrow or two in the black metal community, and a definite element of groove give the song a weight to it. This particular guitar tone reminds me of the groovier black metal bands like Khold or Sarke, but it’s the power house drumming that separates 1349 most distinctly. The drums are up tempo affairs, for the better part of the tune, throwing in bass drums that rattle away at triple time. Then the drums explode into a flurry of blast beats, shoving everything that’s not bolted down from its path; guitars scream in their solo-rific way, strings bending to the impossible. It’s a classic style extreme metal song, full of obscene power, obnoxious volume, and overpowering attitude.

Then, something completely different happens. To follow up the blast beat chaos, 1349 drop a somber tune in our laps. A piano quietly plinks out its notes, painting a beautiful picture of desolation and loneliness. It’s a striking piece when put in context with the rest of the material on the album. And, even taken out of context, it’s a moving song. Doom-y elements and textures eventually overtake the piano work, but the song, thankfully, never explodes into a blast beat frenzy. I say “thankfully” because to go all extreme metal again would have ruined the vibe of the song. “Misanthropy” is perfect the way it is, shining a little light, no matter how bleak the tones are, changes up the mood of the album. It creates a sense of despair without the cacophony, and adds its own weight to an already incredibly heavy album. Kind of like a psychological horror movie versus a straight up slasher flick. Revelations has its blood and gore, but the truly scary part is what it does to the mind.


“Uncreation” follows up the psychological thriller with an epic black metal masterpiece. Distorted arpeggios reverberate from the speakers, the drums crash down in a steady mid temp beat, and the vocals are packed with the guttural sinister violence that one would expect from the genre. Double bass drums erupt and the guitars tighten up with a heavy palm muted riff . . . the tension building in huge waves before dispersing to the opening arpeggio riff. Again, this song has a groove to it. Though, the band doesn’t feel bound to leaving it in a box. They expand on the ideas and push the walls of the box out, tearing walls down where they feel that they need to so that their musical ideas can stretch out and develop into the epic. Artsy, but devastating, ambitious, but violent, “Uncreation” is the song that draws me back time and time again.


Yeah, I don’t get it. I don’t get how some people in the metal, specifically black metal community can be so close minded as to feel that Revelations of the Black Flame doesn’t belong in the black metal family or genre or whatever they’re bitching about. In my opinion, they’ve done everything right. They’ve created a dark album, pushed the music into aural crevices that have never witnessed sound before, dropped blast beats on top of icy grooves, painted pictures of rotting bodies, serpents, skulls, blood, and death, and they wear corpse paint. I’ve always respected the bands that push the limits on their respective genres, the black sheep of their particular communities, simply because playing by the rules is no fun. It’s music, for Loki’s sake! It’s supposed to be about expression and following the muse that creates sound to the delight or chagrin of the artist. Look at Enslaved, for instance. Without completely turning their back on black metal, they’ve redefined their style by adding elements of prog in their music, and honestly, their more recent works are much more interesting than their early works. Their early works are revered by one sect as “true” black metal, but it was limited in scope. 1349 have essentially followed a similar path and experimented with their sound. I, for one, am thrilled beyond belief that they did and I’m excited as to where their sound will go in the future.

-- Pope JTE

Buy here: Revelations of the Black Flame




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