Tonight : Iced Earth

Since 1990 Iced Earth are one of the sole American power metal bands able to wave the flag more often held by their European counterparts, but they do it with more balls than bands like Hammerfall, who are often little more than Helloween impersonators. They are also one of the few bands who do this sort of thing post eighties that I give much play time. They come across as darker even in their more Dungeons and Dragons moments.

Their 12th album  and second with Into Eternity singer Stu Block fronting the band. While Block has impressive pipes and can bring a more death metal dimension to their sound he stands in the shadow of the mighty Matt Barlow who might be a technically inferior singer to Block but the die hard fans will defer to Barlow's work as the band's classic sound. But I am going to give Block a chance live as it will be interesting to see how he does on the older tunes that the band can't ignore. If I am willing to give him a chance you should too.

They are going to bring the heavy metal thunder into the Masquerade for only 22 bucks, significantly less than Manowar and Sabaton opens. The Doors are at 6 for this all ages show.

Tonight:500 Songs For Kids

500 SONGS FOR KIDS Memories 2007-2013!
Cee Lo GreenManchester OrchestraJanelle MonaeButch Walker & Peter Stroud
Brett DennenArrested DevelopmentZac Brown BandShawn Mullins

Angie AparoEdwin McCain and Drivin' n' Cryin'Pete YornMissy Higgins

Once again it's time for the years most interesting musical event 500 Songs For Kids, a charity event created by local musician Josh Rifkind . Over the course of 12 nights musicians/ bands are assigned one of Rolling Stone's top 500 songs of all time which ranges from Bob Dylan to Motley Crue and Lady Gaga to Public Enemy, so it encompasses a wide variety of popular music . It always proves to be a great chance to catch all the bands in towns whose names you have seen , but never caught. This year the event is pay what you can and the organization which benefits Scottish Rite Hospital  will take additional donations at each event now spread out over three venues, Smith's Olde Bar where it kicks off tonight as well as the Earl  and the Loft. So don't miss this amazing event that brings the city's best talent to the stage every year to perform all the songs you know and love. 

Picking Up The Slack For Mtv: MGMT - Cool Song No. 2

 From the moment this video starts there's an air of a secret underworld that the audience is about to be privy to. The 70s era Nissan Z and the African man cruising around at night and the same man many times sitting in a dark room with a blue light overhead staring off into nowhere and clearly confused about his situation and what he's gotten his self into. The strange plants being harvested and processed in a underground laboratory by the prerequisite beautiful scantily clad expressionless girls often found in underground laboratories. And then just the right music as the soundtrack - droning bass parts, ominous piano transitions, occasion howls by monkeys in the distance, and coinciding drums along with cryptic vocals that tackle topics I can't officially pin point. It all appeals to me in the usual way songs not unlike this one usually do.

Album Review: Plastic Yellow Band's "Breathe Air"

Singer song writer Gerald Jennings has put together an homage to the Beatles solo years that is not too far removed from Pink Floyd's more radio friendly moments or Jeff Lynne . His nod to Lennon on   "She's My Woman" comes with a dirtier blues sound.

 Jennings  straight forward approach sometimes decorate the songs in psychedelic touches , but is less Rubber Soul and more focused on the Tom Petty like strum of the guitars, invoking  the Travelling Wilburys,  . They step into a more modern sound on " Nervous Stuff" recalling Adrian Belew penned King Crimson, but with liberal winks to Hendrix in the manner the solo rolls out backwards and forward in a wavering wall of trippy haze.There is a range that extends beyond the Yellow Submarines, from the unexpected  female vocals on "I Want to Feel Your Love"  to the more rock moments of "Oil Kings"  The album returns to the often angular melodies that remind me of Adrian Belew or even Utopia era Todd Rudgren. This territory leaves room for guitar heroics like those seen on " Alone(It's Hard) ".

While piano ballads like "Climate Change" don't play upon the bands strengths.The guitars do drift into post- Roger Waters era Floyd, but without the melancholy of the Division Bell. The album takes on an ambitious third act with the "Sunlight" trilogy of songs.The idea of this is more proggy than where they take this. I can hear elements of XTC, on this sort of thing. It's not until the guitar solo pops in that the first part of this trilogy ever reaches a dynamic shift. Sunlight variations strikes a more flowing stride and the piano parts work with the song to create a sense of movement. The piano part takes off into one of the albums guitar solos that enhance the album rather than take the spotlight away from the song's momentum. The guitar tone is very David Gilmore, an impressive feat in and of itself.

The drum solo that's lead into the third movement of the Sunlight variations, is a little more Beatlesque. This is due to the tight harmonies that are well produced. This further emphasizes the Jeff Lynee element that haunts this album. Which in turn brings about these Travelling Wilburys comparisons. The harmonies achieve the intended goal and the album as a whole finds a more authentic place than many of the alternative bands who flirts with such aspirations.This album well produced and  written , fans of the more radio friendly prog will want to give this album as it focuses more on melody than bathing you in dripping sonic head trips. There is a great guitar sound on this and any aspiring guitarists might take note of the dynamic yet tasteful playing on this album.

Album of the Week: Lael Summer's Burden to Bear

EDM might seem like the latest craze, but dance music has known many forms over the years. The origins of button pushing came from a time in the 70's when dance music was created by real musicians playing real instruments, sure it owed more to funk than to their drug dealers, but it was real. With real singers who belted it out not unlike the young Lael Summer, who conjures up the type of melodies that once belonged to the disco queens , but Lashe is not too divalicious. From my friends over at True Groove out of New York comes this young singer Lael Summer whose influences are clearly dipped in the soul classics of the 70's.   there is a disco queen feel at times , but Lashe is not too divalicious. She does have a mean streak like the line 'we both know/ that I've got twice the balls that you do."

"Too Much" groove into an almost Alicia Bridges know "I love the Night Life"   These are real instruments played by real musicians, so they fact that these beats are not a by product of a computer program might be a turn off, but even if you like Bowie's Young Americans album, you will find some common ground, as the sax lines are very Bowie to me.

The obligatory piano ballad comes on "Make You Whole" ,which is well sung, she has some pipes on her , but it's not really my bag. The grooves come back on "It's About Soul" . To her credit she has hooked up with the right posse to achieve the sound she is going for. The sass of the melody could be something Christina Aguilera might have done at one time, but with a more organic and authentic sound to it. She dips back down and gives you a breather on the more Norah Jones flavored "In Time".

This album sounds great, it recreates the warmth of the era it takes the most from without being a total backward glance into retro nostalgia. The more Diana Ross flair rears up again on "Kiss and Tell" , it also reminds me of Olivia Newton of course.

The more Sade classic torch song meets soul comes in the powerful cover of  Hall and Oates "Do What You Want" ends up with the sultry punch of "Is It a Crime", which is a pretty high compliment as I place Sade in my top ten female vocalists of all time. Her knack at vocal over dubs help establish her identity here. Her upper range that she projects from her chest voice is pretty impressive as well.

The disco funk heats up on " What Do I Know (about love)" , the chorus isn't as strong as the verses here, but they create such a tension until it doesn't have to have a big build to be dynamic and is really capturing more of a sixties feel. There is fittingly a more of New York groove to "Look Around" that brings to mind the days when G.e Smith was leading the Saturday Night Live Band . Tomas sets his blues influence on the back burner for the majority of the album letting it surface on "Unconditionally" . It's less dancy than the more disco like numbers, but is well played.

There is a more Alicia Keyes element to the closing ballad "The Good Fight" which seems to have a 12 step element to the lyrics, but hey it takes one to know one.The guitar solos add the best colors to this song and her harmonies help the dynamics bring this song up to the level of the others when some of the cumbersome lyrics seem like they would weight the her phrasing down, but she pulls through and the song ends up with a more 80's feel to it  but with an almost Broad way bravado.        

Tonight at Drunken Unicorn: Swank Sinatra, Hot Wives & More...

Swank Sinatra

Easily one of the most entertaining bands in Atlanta, Swank Sinatra is a mixed up mash-up of many raucous styles rolled into a 3 piece band. They're music ranges from punk to punk-pop, to down right weird and spurts of melancholy and vocals that never let up. Randy Garcia's drums are consistently spot on and these guys are tight. Quite frankly, they're incredible musicians and both of their shows I've been to I was totally transfixed and couldn't stop watching this melee of music being projected at me by men in tighty-whiteys.

Their most recent video below is an excellent example of the surly live experience you'll get tonight at The Drunken Unicorn. 

Hot Wives

Another great Local Band on the bill tonight is Hot Wives. Their brand of "Speed Country" gives off a vibe not unlike the band above. Their sound will certainly make you want to get drunk and ride on the hood of a car and chase tornadoes.

Also on the bill for tonight are The Hungry Ears and BearKnuckle.

Doors open at 9pm. $6. 21+

Album of the Week : No Carrier's Wisdom & Failure

If you are one of our regular readers then you will know how picky I am when it comes to using the G word...yes , goth. But this cross continental duo have earned the title on there third album .Having been around since 2001 , they like to take their time. This shows as the song writing is finely tuned and a blend of both the classic club sound from the 80's is mixed with the more Electronic feel the genre had begun to adopt in the late 90's.

This is not to say this is a retro affair as the opener will make fans of Bat For Lashes want to take notice. The singer's sp;Her su;turty alto isn't ethereal enoughh to come close to Chelsea Wolfe's fevered darkness. There lingers 80's pop inflection, falling some where to the left of Kate Bush, though a though shade lighter than Siouxsie and the Banshees.

I like there sound this is something I would likely to keep listening to. it gradually darkens . The almost Annie Lennox, like manner her voice weaves around the melody. At  other times the singers voices holds the same resonance as the singer from Cowyboy junkies. There are more edm elements on songs like "Sunset Castle". Her melody takes a more Siouxsie slant though with a more operatic element to it tonally.

This album is an interesting journey. What I respect about it the most is there is little pretense. They blend elements that reach back into the more classic vaults of goth, with texture and ambiance that evokes the gray landscape as the Cure and the Cocteau Twins. While it is clear they have their roots in this era, there is an equal dose of the cyber dread generation of goth , that falls closer to edm than anything from the batcave.

From the winks to  Switchblade Symphony to the more happy gpo lucky dance moments that would appeal  to fans of the Birthday Party Massacre. The bright plastic bubble gum sound I associate with today's brand of electro goth, it has a more organic feel and still is cloaked in a generous coat of melancholy.

If  Zola Jesus is to minimalist and artsy for you and doesn't, retain enough of the more classic cold wave sound then these guys are worth a listen. I think the biggest praise I could give this band is not in picking apart the finer points of their sound, which doesn't reinvent the wheels on the hearse, but to say of  all the music I am sent over the course of the month , this band actually earned a place on my iPod which is a feat considering the amount of music I ingest not just for reviewing but for my own  personal enjoyment.  So this means that they are taking up valuable space that artists I have been

Listening to for years fight for.  So that is the highest praise I can give  an artist is to say I have been listening to them on a regular basis .