Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Live & Kicking: Road Rock Vol. 1: Friends & Relatives - Neil Young - 2000

Road Rock Vol. 1After posting yesterday about double-live (or bigger) sets I love, I thought it would be fun to also sort through some lesser-celebrated live albums that also deserve a second listen. This album, in particular, requires a different approach as it impresses not with fireworks, but flares instead. Recorded during the North American tour in 2000, Road Rock Vol. 1 is a slow-burning, smoldering live set from Neil Young, one of only a handful of artists who should be given carte blanche to release live albums at will. From Time Fades Away to Year of the Horse, there's not a throwaway in the bunch, which is likely why spoiled fans were quick to trash Road Rock, which while being a mid-tier album for Neil, ranks right up there with any other live releases in recent memory.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Double Live Gonzo

Often avoided by many in favor of studio releases - and rightfully so as so many reek of dashed-off contractual obligation - I'm a sucker for the live album. I've waded through plenty and, of course, appreciate all the established classics: Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Live Rust, The Who's Live at Leeds (now available in 307 different configurations), James Brown's Live at the Apollo, Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison and so on and so on. The last decade has seen the release of a number of big live sets worthy of addition to the revered canon - some old, some new. Four favorites I now deem essential to any collection:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Opus Eponymous - Ghost - 2010

Ghost was absolutely unknown to me until, a couple weeks ago, I was intrigued by the cover of Decibel magazine's June issue and grabbed it up. James Fiend at None More Negative seems on the cutting edge of everything I slowly work my way toward and confirmed the record's quality with a few timely tweets and I knew it was a must-purchase record. Opus Eponymous found its way into my hands a few days later and has remained in heavy rotation ever since (and is also singlehandedly responsible for me dusting off the Blue Öyster Cult catalogue as of late).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie - White Zombie - 2008

Let Sleeping Corpses LieMan, I hate to admit it, but I was disappointed with Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.

Ironically, I wasn't expecting much in terms of content and am still pleased to have a partial "one-stop shop" for White Zombie's records (all studio records are here with soundtrack and tribute album one-offs, but remix EPs, for example, are nowhere to be found). I knew what I was getting, track-wise, and cannot complain. For the newbie, much of this stuff has been hard to come by (fans in the '90s could still get Make Them Die Slowly in record stores but the first albums were generally findable only via bootlegs (albeit decent ones)). The noisy scumrock left many of the neophytes turned on by La Sexorcisto, frankly, turned off and many were perfectly happy to accept the Geffen debut as an alternative starting point. These early tracks sound great here and are cool to have in "official form."  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crud on Monster Island - Crud - 2010

The more I write about new music, the more that comes my way. It's an exponential payoff as, an admittedly jaded listener who figured not much new was worth too much attention, every now and then I come across something like Crud. And Crud is not quite like anything you'd guess. From photos, brief blurbs and their Motor City origins, I was expecting some version of Cramps via the Thrill Kill Kult. And while some of those elements exist, Crud is, despite their name, refreshingly new. Retro elements abound but they're decidedly in the now. Their sophomore release and latest record, Crud on Monster Island, has landed itself a permanent residency in my car stereo rotation for this summer - maybe even longer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Great Song - "Career of Evil" - Blue Öyster Cult - 1974

Secret TreatiesBlue Öyster Cult is a beautiful thing. Everyone has heard their name and hardly anyone has heard anything other than "Don't Fear the Reaper." They're nearly impossible to categorize but are revered by serious musicians across all genres. Basically a heavy metal Steely Dan, Blue Öyster Cult create intricate, hooky music with an intellectual bent (frequently turning to literary figures for inspiration and lyrics) that is at the same time heavy and sinister. They have yet to create an album that isn't a must-own worthy of multiple plays (though they tried damn hard with Club Ninja). Their black-and-white trilogy from '72-'74 is the essential cornerstone of their discography and the best of that bunch, Secret Treaties, is chock full of stone-cold classics and kicks things off with the best of the best from BÖC, "Career of Evil." 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Got a New Sickness. I Got a New Favorite. I...Got...Jungle Rot!

I know it isn't glamourous and, even as out-of-the-metal-loop as I am, I know they're not offered much respect from the snarkier side of metal fandom, but I got a bad case of Jungle Rot. And by bad, cool as I am, of course I mean "good." And by good, I mean, "I bought one CD, banged my head and then turned around bought five more."

I know this much: Jungle Rot gives us death metal. About death. Specifically, death in wartime. In great detail. They are brutal in their simplicity. And they do it over and over. They cannot be troubled with solos. Jungle Rot are basically a rolling riff, death metal Motörhead. And, my God, they're so good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Matador - Zoroaster - 2010

MatadorWell, that sucked. Zoroaster's Matador was another record I grabbed never having heard a note because a) it was cheap ($5.99 new) and b) its cover, depending upon how you count and classify, has a skull with up to ten horns on it. A quick glance online described this as "psych metal" in the same vein as Melvins, Sabbath and Mastodon (the latter of which, I have learned, basically just means that someone in the band has a big beard). Whatever. I loaded this stinker onto the iPod, took it out for a run and ended up slowing down, sitting down, falling asleep and waking up some 45 minutes later actually farther away from my destination than I was when I stopped. Somehow Matador was so terrible it not only negated my pursuit of physical fitness, it actually set me back in time and space. Not to mention $5.99. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Worth the Effort: The Reincarnation of Luna - My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - 2001

Reincarnation of LunaIn a class with few others (White Zombie, perhaps?), My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult were, in fact, the soundtrack to the best B-movie you never saw: sex, Satan, sex, horror, sex, motorcycles and sex all set to a danceable industrial beat. Originally Wax Trax darlings, the Kult peaked commercially in the mid-nineties, started bouncing from label to label and their records, while always remaining engaging, were hard to find new and fell out of print almost as quickly. Rykodisc has recently rescued most of the catalogue but one great title, The Reincarnation of Luna, remains the domain of secondhand stores. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Remake/Remodel Your Music Collection - A Roxy Music Buyer's Guide

SirenCurious about the music that is Roxy? Wonder if there's any substance behind the style? Go no further. This guide should help the Roxy-curious sort the diamonds from the pearls to whet the appetite, but be forewarned - you're eventually going to need it all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In the Mood for a Little Music? Enjoying the Extended Play.

I love the EP. I don't know how you discern it from a "maxi-single" or a really short album other than, to me, it somehow defines itself with tracks not appearing on proper full-length LPs, no tracks considered as b-sides to any other included song and substantial enough in its content to stand alone as an entry in a band's catalogue. Whether it's a 7" or two, a 12" record or a single CD, there are several EPs on my shelf that hold their own against any other bands' grandest double-albums. A few of my favorites:

Friday, May 20, 2011

One-Off Wonder: Web of Dharma - Graves - 2002

Rising from the ashes of the Misfits Mark II, vocalist Michale Graves and drummer Dr. Chud formed the almost-immediate Graves and quickly turned out one very good, barely-heard, still-hard-to-find album, Web of Dharma. Graves featured "Left Hand Graham" Westfield, of Sound & Fury and Fast Times, on bass and Tom Logan, from Angelsin and The Empire Hideous, on guitar. Web of Dharma appeared on Michale Graves' website just months after the final incarnation of the band was formed. I got my own copy through the frequently-changing site via old-school "print out an order form and mail with a check" e-commerce and I am sure there were also copies for sale at the band's few shows during their short-lived run.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Great Song - "Kicked in the Teeth" - AC/DC - 1978

AC/DC have a huge canon of well-known, beloved songs all more than worthy of their popularity. Despite the fact that they're overplayed by classic rock radio repeatedly, I never get tired of "Highway to Hell," "You Shook Me All Night Long" or "Back in Black." They're that good. Casual fans without an appetite for multiple purchases seem to stick with Back in Black and consider their AC/DC collection complete. Or maybe they don't even know any better. When I was sharing my plans with a co-worker to see the band on the Black Ice tour she replied, "AC/DC - oh, yeah! I have their album!" And while any band in the world would likely sell their soul for a record half as good and successful as Back in Black, any true-blue AC/DC fan will tell you that there's a lot more to enjoy if you dig a little deeper.

Powerage (Dlx)One deep cut one of the less-celebrated albums of the Bon Scott era that always makes my playlist is "Kicked in the Teeth" from 1978's Powerage. Nestled in between Let There Be Rock and Highway to Hell, Powerage brought AC/DC closer to the Top 100 and introduced us to bassist, Cliff Williams. A rock-solid slab of hard and heavy blues-tinged numbers, Powerage gets very little, if any, play on the radio and is frequently acknowledged as a favorite of other musicians, most notably Keith Richards. There's not a weak point from beginning to end and, in my opinion, the album's closer, "Kicked in the Teeth," is also its high point.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Been There, Heard That and Batting .500

Seems like a long time since last Monday. I ordered a load of new music by four artists I'd never heard and, now that everything's come in and been spun a few times, experienced some mixed results. Here's a quick rundown of where I landed with Miss May I, Volbeat, Skindred and Havok.

Just yesterday, I wrote up my opinion of what I now know is metalcore and, simultaneously, Miss May I. My caution erased by allegiance to those just a stone's throw from the front door, I blindly ordered both of the band's releases unheard and ended up with, basically, two copies of the same album, differentiated only by a slipcover and a shitty ballad. You can click back to yesterday's post to catch that synopsis but I've grown more bitter as twenty-four hours have passed. I realize Miss May I are off somewhere rocking much harder than I ever will and, from what I read, pleasing fans of their style a great deal but I cannot help but feel frustrated in the way a parent does at a child that isn't living up to its full potential. But, really, they are kids. They've got time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh, so this is Melodic Metal Mathcore...

Apologies Are for the WeakJust about a week ago I placed an order for some music by bands I've never heard of, including Troy, Ohio's own Miss May I, described in Metal Hammer's article as "pure-blooded metalcore." I'd heard the term "metalcore" prior to this article but, frankly, never intentionally sought out a band described as such to identify what that really meant. Now that I've gotten my Miss May I, I know. It means: "Sounds like Trivium's Ascendancy." Now, that's not a bad thing, necessarily, but in my case, eager to support the local boys, I grabbed both their albums, 2009's Apologies are for the Weak and 2010's Monument. I may just as well have chosen one or the other. Or just listened to Ascendancy again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Upcoming Releases and Reissues - May 23-June 14, 2011

Good stuff coming just around the corner...

Box Set - Orange Goblin - May 23, 2011
The domestic release of what was a limited edition five-CD box set from the stoner band containing five albums recorded for the Rise Above label: Frequencies From Planet Ten, Time Travelling Blues, The Big Black, Coup De Grace and Thieving From The House Of God. All albums presented in deluxe digipacks including bonus material. Features never before seen pictures and exclusive liner notes from singer Ben Ward. Click here to order.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Time Is Up - Havok - 2011

Time Is UpLast week I sent away for a stack of new metal, all of it from bands I had never heard, based solely upon write-ups in magazines and music blogs. A few records showed up late in the week and one has made such an immediate impression that I cannot get the word out quickly enough that Havok's Time Is Up is a must-buy, must-listen, must-share. Of course, reading up this week, those with the fingers on the pulse of the scene beneath the mainstream have been singing Havok's praises since before their formal debut from 2009, Burn. I never claimed to be on the cutting edge of music but am thrilled to be enjoying a band that is hopefully just out of the gate in what I imagine could be a long, fruitful career.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rock & Roll Submarine - Urge Overkill - 2011

Rock & Roll SubmarineHow can 16 years seem at once an eternity and the blink of an eye? It depends on your perspective. Waiting for a follow-up to Exit the Dragon, it's definitely the former. Pushing play on Rock & Roll Submarine, the latter. Urge Overkill never left, after all. They were just off recording what may well be the best damn straight-up no-frills rock and roll album in years.

If Exit the Dragon was one last, late-night round at the darkest club in town, Rock & Roll Submarine is a weary - yet ragged and ready - morning after. And what a new dawn it is. From the very first note, Rock & Roll Submarine is invigorating in its immediate presence as gimmick-free rock. Never too clever for its own good, as the Urge of old sometimes wandered, it's sly and wry without being sarcastic.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Worth the Effort: 12 Hits from Hell - The Misfits - 1980/2001

 I have loads of out-of-print records in my collection and plenty deservedly so. I then have a neat few that never were officially in print at all. And a few of those really desperately need to be. The Misfits' 12 Hits from Hell is just one of those records.
Misfits/12 Hits From HellRecorded in 1980 and slated for release on Halloween, 2001, 12 Hits from Hell was canceled at the eleventh hour, almost literally. Stories differ as to why and the official explanation from Caroline Records was a line about packaging, layout and mixing (if nothing else, the Jerry Only-fronted Misfits also had a leftovers compilation, Cuts from the Crypt, slated for release the same day, which could not have pleased Mr. Danzig 
too much, I am sure). Well, some copies made it into stores anyway. Quite a few, as a matter of fact, and I happened to snag one. And I can say the layout, packaging, mixing - the whole damn thing - is just fine. In fact, it's probably the best Misfits recording out there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One Great Song - "Down Again" - Black Country Communion - 2010

Black Country Communion (CD/DVD)Black Country Communion was a safe bet as soon as it was announced. Rock and soul vocal powerhouse (and damn fine bassist), Glenn Hughes, turns about anything he touches into gold so the combination with Joe Bonamassa on guitar, Jason Bonham on drums and Dream Theater's Derek Sherinian on keys made Black Country Communion an instant supergroup among supergroups (a bumper crop of which were on the shelves when the first album landed among debut - and hopefully not final - efforts by Them Crooked Vultures and Chickenfoot).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Penguin in Bondage - The Little Known History of the Mothers of Invention by Frank Zappa

Mothers Day is now May 10. May 10, 1974. Zappa.com just blasted out an iTunes-only release from the Vault.

Order it here. Details from Zappa.com:

What Sophomore Slump?

The second album for a new band is critical, especially following a strong debut. More often than not, the results underwhelm or, worse, crumble beneath the pressures and expectations and, for many, it's a swift downhill slide into obscurity. For a handful of great artists, though, the second record not only improved upon the first but, looking back historically, came to be considered as the high point in their discography. Eight that I regard as just such an achievement:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sight Unseen (and Sound Unheard) - New CDs on the Way

I spend any cash I can spare on new music. I hate to drop a few bucks eating out, die a little inside at the thought of the price of a movie ticket and depend on the local library for most of my reading. That said, I always reserve a nice little stack of bills for a few magazines a month. UK imports Metal Hammer and Classic Rock are two consistent must-buys on my list. They're mainstream enough to be found on the shelves of any respectable newsstand, sensible enough to avoid political and social commentary, and each cover a wide variety of sub-genres with consistently high-quality writing (and each usually come with superb CDs compiling the newest sounds). Each is a pleasure to pore over cover to cover again and again and, within days of picking up a new issue, I have an all-new shopping list with which to burn through the rest of my dough. The May 2011 issue of Metal Hammer hit my bookstore this week and, combined with the previous month's copy still in my satchel from last week's travels, I just placed an order today - especially exciting as it's all new music from bands I have never heard a note from before:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Motherly Love

Take some time today to reflect on the one you love above all others. The one who has done so much for you that you could never repay the debt. The one who has shaped your adult life. Frank Zappa.

And you may want to call your mom, too.

After you've called your mother and/or enjoyed the finest brunch Holiday Inn has to offer, head over to Barfko-Swill and do something for yourself. You deserve it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gotta Get it All: Build a Komplete, Khronologically Korrect KMFDM Kollection - Part II

(continued from May 6, 2011)

Back in the U.S.S.A. - The New Millennium

In 2002, the believed-defunct KMFDM was reborn on a new label, Metropolis, and a new cover single, Boots. Then came the onslaught - a born-again, guitar-heavy, drum-bashing ATTAK. A live record with Raymond Watts' Pig, Sturm & Drang Tour 2002 followed later in the year (also captured on DVD).
KMFDM - Sturm & Drang Tour 2002

KMFDM jumped labels to Sanctuary and delivered nothing less than World War III in 2003. The label affiliation lasted only throughout the year and provided a live document in CD form, WWIII Live 2003, as well as DVD.
WWIII (World War III)