Track of the Week : The Unravelling's "Revolt"

The Calgary duo the Unravelling are back with an impressive new single called "Revolt. The industrial revival has not come back full swing yet. Nine Inch Nails put the hard edged guitars away in favor of a more edm styled sound. So if that is something you have been missing then you have come to the right place. Though this project doesn't have the same stiff chugged feel many of the bands that came out in the wake of "Psalm 69". This is the first we are hearing from the group after their lead singer was out of commission for a year due to heath problems making this the first new music since their 2010 release “ 13 Arcane Hymns”. This shows the project evolving from being just another Tool influenced hard rock stuck in the 90s to something more promising.

Though their influences are not always worn on their sleeves they do shine through rather brightly in some moments. The first comparison that came to mind was this is what it might sound like if Devin Townsend decided to cover Nine Inch Nail's "Reptile". I think the results would not be too much unlike this. The guitar carries a similar chug to the one Reznor captured on that album. If you can be compared in any way to the "Downward Spiral "then you have made something on that has to at the very least be on the upside of decent, as that album is one of the best sounding albums ever recorded. This makes the work of the due’s instrumentalist Perhaps these guys are into progressive rock as they claim on their Bandcamp page, but this much closer to industrial than prog. Nothing wanders out of place, the song is only four and a half minutes, which is what the intro to a prog rock song would be. 

The vocal delivery falls closer to the God Lives Under Water side of industrial rock, when he backs of and uses a more subtle dynamic it's much more Nine Inch Nails, as is the trickling single note melody. If you missed out on when this music peaked in the 90s these guys have a grasp of the more Head banger’s Ball style industrial, where the emphasis is the guitar rather than the electronic smoke and mirrors. The lyrics are one of this project’s strengths, they cloaked in metaphors while still being a harsh, but spot on criticism of big American materialism that spreads it's infection on a global level. 

Who would have thought that the band would come across heavier without being as centered around guitar as their previous efforts? This might not rival Ministry’s tougher moments and Meshuggah has nothing to fear, this has a tangible emotional rawness that makes up for the lack of blast beats and gurgled growls. I look forward to hearing what an entire album heading into this direction will bring from this project which has no shortage of talent and has begun to carve our their own identity for themselves with this release.  Check it out below.

Tonight : Swans

Tonight Michael Gira brings the loudest show on Earth back to Terminal West. This  time in support of  their 2014 album "To Be Kind" which graced many end of the year best of lists including mine a review of  it can be found here....
You might want to familiarize yourself with it as Swans are anti-greatest hits and will be either playing songs from their 2014 release which were born from the stage much like some of the sonic excursions you can expect to be taken on this evening. A Swans show is felt as much as it is heard.

Way ahead of their time when the band crawled out from the under belly of the New York punk/ noise scene they are one of the fore fathers of both industrial as well as what is being called post- rock. If not for Swans bands like ... Neurosis, Tool, Godflesh, Tombs, Godspeedyoublackemperor!, and  Ministry would not exist and that is pretty much just the tip of the iceberg  on their profound influence on heavy music today. Swans are not heavy as in metal but sonically dense. They employ a similar pound to what black metal bands have since adopted , but with a more orchestrated blend to their chaos and some times finding their way back to the melodies of Gira's rich baritone that one more recent outing as become more of a maddened rant.

If you are a fan of intense music, you are fooling yourself if you think you know what intense or loud if you have not attended a Swans show. If you are a metal head who is proud for having withstood the volume of bands like Motorhead and Slayer, you are a pussy unless you can make it through a Swans show. They go up 12 while you are stuck at 11.

Little Annie Featuring Paul Walfisch On Keyboards
Sat, March 28, 2015
Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

$20.00 - $25.00

Album of the Week - the Splashing Pearls' "Tabloid Tales"

This is actually the trios' faith release, so it no wonder they are so self aware in their sound. They originally formed as a duo called "Daydream Hostages" until the bass player brought his niece in to add vocals and their sound has continued to evolve from there. The first thought that came to my mind upon hearing the band was old school Decemberists mixed with swanky cabaret. There is some of the bar-haze ambiance the likes of Tom Waits paints, but different brand of theatricality involved. The steel drums at times brings a more sea shanty quality . The Decemberists don't have a Caribbean flare and were way more anglo in their ventures back in time. On "Voodoo Love" You can almost hear  Disney's animated characters singing this in one of their films , think "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid if sung by Amy Winehouse.

This must be listened to by large bodies of water, and while Delaware is close to water it's nt the setting you would think this would come from. The pick up into more of a pop jangle on "Awkward" Lyrically they are just as smart. "Emerald City" takes another look at Dorothy perspective. The male vocals on "Mr. Splitsville" have an almost rockabilly  meet rag time feel to them, of course the music surrounding them captures more of the ambiance new Orleans carries which the lyrics reflect upon.

the lounge jazz of "Soldier Girl Blues" feel authentic to the time being recaptured here and have a wider ear for the world than just trying to replicate what Amy Winehouse created. When in truth she too was pulling from an area of girl groups. The twang and honky tonk of "Good Idea" swings more like steampunk than punk rock. "This Old Building" takes you to Paris for the jazz torch singing that came from the brothels. The Perfect Storm get back more into the era of girl pop, but with the trio's own spin on it. There is a reggae skip to " Only a fool" allowing the singer to show a strong sense for hooky melodies on the chorus and this song would certainly sit well even on pop radio between Bruno Mars and Pink.

By the time they close out the album with more introspective and oddly progressive "Cactus Flower" I find myself giving the band the biggest compliment I can by debating what to delete so I can fit them on my iPod, considering how much music passes through my inbox on a daily basis this means the band has something that makes them stand out. This has elements you already love in music , but are put together in a unique way and with all the bizarre stuff I listen unique doesn't come easy.

Album Review: Kings of the Brushwood Thicket's "the Lies You Leave Behind"

This might be the best Brit-pop album you would have missed out on by not clicking on this review. King of Brushwood Thicket is the  side project of  the guitarist  from Dog Society.  First off going into this there had already been some Bowie comparisons, and when those  arise I really polish my magnifying glass because David Bowie is my Elvis. The first riff of the album reminded me more of Pink Floyd's "Wish Your Were Here". I could  hear way more T-Rex in this album than Bowie, especially on the song "He Was a Man". The vocals are what this album is all about, every thing else is just the back drop. Some of the melodic choices remind me of unplugged Stone Temple Pilots. Another fair reference point from the grunge era would be Mother Love Bone. That is not to say this album is draped in flannel, as Mother Love Bone was the most 70's glam influenced of all of the bands that would come tumbling down. Throughout the bulk of the album guitar remains laid-back and the percussion is minimal.

The first glimpse of electric guitar that will make you take notice is on "An Open Letter to GOD". It sounds like it could have been left off of the soundtrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. This album might be put together like a folk album, but aside from "Push it All Away" it tends to avoid sounding folky. The title track ambles along like GnR's "Paitience" without the hair metal power ballad build up.It's surprising the almost country ballad "Time Moves On" came out of Jamacia Queens. "One Moment in Life" recalls some of Led Zeppelin's mellower moments with a dash of pyschedelics at the end. This album touches on almost the entire Brit pop famaliy tree as "Losing Her Again" carries a dreamy Beatles melody .

Overall Brit Pop fans, and fans of 70's glam, who are more often than not one and the same, will have something to rejoice about. It would sit in shuffle mode alongside, both the Verve and T-Rex. Not a rock album, and indie rock has become such a broad term that I'm sure this could fall into someones definition in the same way Bright Eyes and Elliot Smith do.

Album Review-The Great Game 's s/t Lp

Normally if you tell me to think of a jazz album that has hints of Mr. Bungle, I would picture John Zorn. This is not that sort of jazz. It doesn't defy you to keep listening. The singer sounds more like dude from Embodyment than Mike Patton. His vocal chords are nowhere near as elastic as he stays in a smoky baritone. There are other voices that join in as well, as varied brass instruments. The opener is the one of  the few songs that flirts with the Dream Theater side of prog, though "Bipolaroid" does get a litter meaner, but in almost a Living Colour sense. The crazy sax that runs wild in the middle of this song is the only John Zorn moment.

Estradasphere is a good reference point when it comes to some of the gypsy touches that crop up such as the ballad like "El Hechizo De Hoy". Sometimes the poetry of the album finds an odd way of going into motion, as mariachi collides with jerky math-rock, while caress by a Norah Jones like vocal. This is expanded upon on "Television" with the instrumentation carrying them off into a wild gypsy dance.There are other times the band reminds me more of Morphine like lounge, "the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma" being one of the most notable. There is an almost big radio rock  chorus like something Aaron Lewis of  Staind might do on "Pax Romana", but this is not the norm even this song mainly basks in a jazz smoothness.

Lyrically they delve a little deeper into the human condition, but do so with an often playful cadence with a song like "Relgionism" taking on a cheerful ska bounce. The horns are more adventurous than your average stab at ska, making me wonder i these guys are fans of the Urge. There is a similar dynamic, though they are much less rock, than the whole 311 scene that came out of the 90s. That's not to say there songs don't have some smoking grooves to them. The Great Game is not like Mr. Bungle or their clones as they don't just pulls any genre out of their hat just o catch you off guard, they have a sound very rooted in jazz, which is a cohesive exploration of the roots of this tree. This cohesive sound may get more zany in some songs than others.

The rock elements put their foot on the monitor during "And the Blind Man Lead the Way". I don't think this side of the band is always their strong point, some of the quirkier vocals lines are a little pitchy in places, which surprises me a band so precise about everything else would allow to slip through the cracks even if it was more of a character voice.But the musicianship generally distracts your from this. The metal growls would be lacking to regular readers of this blog. They take you back to more of a System of a Down type place, despite the lower narration that is supposedly more Mike Patton. They make better use of rock trappings on "Slave Magic". The vocals don't try to push, but relax and let it come more naturally. This is a lesson easily learned from jazz, which goes with the flow, but the testosterone of harder can obscure this.

The song that is their name sakes feels like it is playing it safest, despite the Adrian Belew like approach to the vocal pattern. They stroll along an up-beat jazz groove that dances along more of a middle path than some of their more exploratory work. Overall if you are looking for a jazz album that can get an attitude as it travels the globe, then here you go. If you normally like rock but want to broaden your horizons after growing out of Incubus, Rush and the rest of the radio fare this is also worth a click. They are offering free downloads on their website, so have a taste below.

Album Review : TJ Doyle's "On the Horizon"

This is TJ  Doyle's 2nd album, the followup to his 2009 debut  " the One True Thing" . He has certainly nailed the fragile wavering  of Neil Young's reedy tenor. The layering of gospel like backing vocals and blues guitar add a different dimension, you might associate with someone like Eric Clapton, more than Neil Young's typically more stripped down approach. The backing band is as rough around the edges like Crazy Horse, which later went on to inspire Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder as grunge rose in the 90s. There is a more somber western feel to "Cold Rain" that brings to mind both the Eagles and Bad Company.  Doyle's voice uses more flexible pop intervals than Young, the delicate cracks are more stylistic accents than like Young, whose pleading style was on the edge of his excesses. The guitar solo fires out from the song like something an 80's arena rock power ballad.

The guitar solos are blues based but very clean, reminding me more of John Mayer's playing style, who is proficient but not rock.His song writing is Doyle's strong point, "Rosemary's Wishes" might not have the same feeling that infuses "Cortez the Killer" , but it is a very concise ballad, with more in common with David Gilmore  post- 80s Pink Floyd. The marginally more upbeat "Something for You" glides along a middle of the road rock feel, but provides the perfect backdrop for Doyle's lyrics. There is a slightly more modern rock element to "Living in Our Dream", but by and large Doyle remains blissfully deaf to the current radio trends. Instead he lives in a time when even what as once called adult contemporary rock had musicianship to it. By today's standards this sound might even be thought of as country, especially on "Everything", since today's country artists are just as influenced by the Eagles and Jimmy Buffet as they are Hank and Willie. 

The bass takes a prominent role to help drive the verses of "Human". The smooth James Taylor like grace that coats his melodies continues to be the song's focus. The chorus continue to reach for big soaring choruses. The more typical romantic themes crop up on "Everything" . The pristine guitar leads in "Favorite Places".  Lyrically he goes for more of a reflection on how we are treating mother earth. He backs off again another ballad. It has the big arena rock chorus. When he pulls out the acoustic guitar for the closing "On the Horizon" it is a little more authentic to what comes to mind as far as Neil Young goes. The chorus is more polished than where the southern man normally goes.

His song writing is refreshingly honest so it is surprising he is coming from the plastic sheen of the L.A. scene. The album had a lot of time , money and attention to detail put into it as it was recorded at  Studio City Sound  with the talents of  Grammy award winning engineer Tom Weir at the helm, so it sounds impeccable one of the best guitar tones your are going to hear this year , if you are a tone junkie, then take note. It might owe a lot to the West Coast rock of the  70s, but it is lyrically relevant and a good relaxing listen. The album comes out on April 8th so keep your ears out for it and in the mean time check out the video for "Everything " below.

Album Review: Rock Masters Band - "Hit the Lights" / "Diamonds"

Rock Masters Band are an underground super group from Finland. With the amount of drinking the Finnish indulge in it only makes sense that it is one of the countries' biggest exports. An impressive array of rock bands have hailed from their shores Nightwish, H.I.M,  Apocalyptica, Rapture, Lordi, and Beast Milk.  They are more upbeat than the bulk of their contemporary countrymen.The Helsinki based band formed in 2007 and features members from the bands Species and Spiha. They already have a couple of albums under their belt, so have decide to avoid stagnation by bringing ina fresh batch of musicians to back them and different producer with each session, to explore other perspectives to approaching their songs and discovering new sounds.

Rock Masters  have found a niche no longer occupied by other artists today, that provide them a  unique place in today’s musical landscape.  They might not be  the first band to touch on wave of post-David Bowie British Glam that came out of England in the 70s, but they are putting a spin on it that is not retro, but infused with the band's DNA. Many artists like Muse swing for the fences and attempt to use Pro-tools to achieve the grandiose layers that Queen was able to pull of without the benefit of such studio tricks, but Rock Masters goes for a much more stripped down and organic sound, which ranges from the more Rolling Stones like swagger of "Hit the City" to the more gaudy androgyny of "Diamonds". 

With even rock Godfathers like Gene Simmons saying that "rock is dead " this  celebration of rock n roll  is encouraging . No matter the era they are they are deriving inspiration from. It draws you in. While the chorus to "Diamonds" having a hook that digs a little deeper into you than "Hit the City", but both songs are worth checking out below if you are a fan of 70s glam along the lines of T-Rex, Mott
the Hoople and Sweet.