Monday, February 28, 2011

Bands I Love: The Decemberists

Well, after listening to The Hazards of Love twice last week, and ranting about how amazing that album was, I've been continuing with the theme and have been going through the entire discography of The Decemberists. My initial goal was to write a Retrospective of the group, but those are very time consuming, and I really don't know the band well enough to make the usual observations about their playing style over their career. Sure I know a couple of albums well, and an additional handful of songs, but I would be struggling though it all - with indie folk not being my strong suite. So, I'm keeping it simple, just sticking with a 'Bands I Love', because truly, I love this band.

I am a fan of folk, whether it be metal, rock or traditional, something about these songs - often born from woe and doom - speaks to me. The simple instrumentation (for the most part) and the emphasis on vocals and story is what drives the genre, and it's what make's it memorable. But, even with this history, I view The Decemberists as doing something special, something different. They are an American band, from the North West coast, but bring in heavy influences of British folk. This bending of ideals is what draws the group to me - myself being born of both of these worlds (half British and half American).

As well as this, I think the lead singer and songwriter, Colin Meloy, puts a particular spin on the ancient genre. Besides having an awesome name (Colin (with one 'L') is a favorite of mine), the man has an amazing voice. It's thick and immersive, like water flowing over you, forcing you to ride the current in whatever direction he deems. The man's lyrics are something to behold as well, most songs have strong narrative, some story that makes you think, but even the songs that don't have this compelling notion still are filled with historical references and witty banter that makes me chuckle.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rant: I Want To Hear From You

Ok, as I've been struggling recently with keeping up the daily postings, I'm going to be scaling it all down a bit. Nothing major, I'm just going to be posting on the week days: Monday through Friday. The Monthly posts of 'Albums Listened To' and 'Everything I Didn't Review' will still be posted on the first and second of each month, regardless of the actual days, but for the rest of it, I'm sticking to five days a week. It's just been getting increasingly and increasingly difficult to keep it up. My writing quality hasn't been the same, I'm rushing articles and finding shortcuts to take to get the posting done. I'd prefer a better product opposed to a more frequent one, as (I would hope) you do too.

So that's my part, now here's the part I want to hear from you. First I want to know what you like/don't like about The Guide. Second, if you would like to see more of something, some segment (videos, retrospectives, reviews, etc), or have an idea new segment I'd love to hear it. I like my new additions of 'Weekly Dose of Prog,' 'All In The Family,' and 'Bands I Should Like, But Don't' but I'm never sure if you all do as well.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Periphery - Periphery

Of the blossoming sub-sub-sub-(sub?)-genre of djent there are three forerunners, that is three fairly well known names/bands that are leading the curve, Cloudkicker (which I've already gone into), Animals As Leaders, and Periphery. Djent, for the majority that don't know (I just recently discovered the term) is a new genre of progressive metal which the only continual classification I can find is that the guitars are frequently palm-muted. That's it. Other then that the only thing that is frequently seen (that I've noticed) is it's all pretty damn fast, a large selection of the groups are instrumental, and I'm going to be the first to throw out that it's got a splash of industrial mixed in. I don't think that the genre is big enough or has evolved enough to know exactly what it is, what makes it up, and what bands really fill the void (hell apparently Meshuggah is included some how). As time passes we will have more acts popping up to further describe the sound and style of djent, and I look forward to it, because the genre isn't half bad.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rant: 20 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original II

So I wrote the first installment of this article way back in 2008, as one of my first articles, and while I do have a ton of cover songs in my arsenal, it's hard to pick 20 more songs that completely blow away the original versions enough to be made mention of. That is why the long pause (over two years) between articles. I've tried on a couple of occasions to compile a new list, but this is the first time I feel that I have found enough amazing songs to warrant a list of 20.

1. Andrew Clayton - "In My Time of Dying" - Traditional, notably done by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin
The fact that I was a direct part of the recording for this song may have something to do with it, but I think the other half is that it is so different from most of the other cover versions out there. It's got a bar room quality to it; a bunch of friends drinking and jamming out. Nice and chill.

2. Black Robot - "Cocaine" - Originally by J.J. Hale, made famous by Eric Clapton
An off-shoot from some of the members of Buckcherry, Black Robot's debut self-titled debut was an alright foray into the world of radio-friendly rock, but their cover of "Cocaine" really does the group some justice. While it's not amazing, it is a completely different direction for the legendary song, and I think the refresher works well.

3. Black NASA - "I Don't Have to Hide" - Originally by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
A song that I had for a while before I even realized it was a cover, and for that it will always shine brighter. The only reason I discovered that "I Don't Have to Hide" was a cover is from the two great editions of the Sucking The 70's collections. When I was jamming through them originally (all 4 discs worth) I came to this Black NASA song and was confused. This was a song I already owned and had heard many times before, it wasn't a cover was it? It was, and a favorite cover was born that day.

4. Blind Guardian - "Spread Your Wings" - Originally by Queen
One of my favorite covers of all time. Hansi Kürsch, the vocalist for Blind Guardian, cites Queen as one of his major inspirations and he knocks this one out of the park. His amazing vocals, coupled with the rest of the band's fluency with their instruments, makes this a song to behold. A lot of emotion is heard on the original, and it is doubled on this new version.

5. Blind Guardian - "The Wizard" - Originally by Uriah Heep
I know, I know, not only two Blind Guardian songs on the list, but two originals by Uriah Heep (see number eighteen for the second), but sometimes it's worth it. The original is great, and Blind Guardian don't stray far from it, but, once again, Hansi Kürsch's vocals make it go the extra mile.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Retrospective: Frank Zappa - 1966-1969

If you count all of the studio albums, soundtracks, live albums and posthumous releases, Frank Zappa, and his affiliated projects, has over one hundred albums to his name. That is one of the most proficient composers/writers/musicians I have ever heard of. It's going to take me weeks to even make a dent in his impressive catalog - and I only have forty-seven of them! I kept my collection to only the albums that were released during his lifetime, and only a handful of live albums (mostly his 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore' series). Just because of the sheer number of albums, I'm not going to be writing a large amount on each, just a couple of lines, and also for this one I'm going to give each album a rating (something I normally don't do), which will be based on the listenability, when compared to his other works (some of his stuff is waaaay out there). If you haven't ever heard any of Zappa's stuff, use this as a loose guide on where to begin.

Some of these albums are attributed to (originally) The Mothers Of Invention, then Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, some are just as Frank Zappa & The Mothers, while most are Frank Zappa solo. It's all Frank Zappa to me.

Freak Out! - 1966 (4/5)
The first album, and really quite a good start. It's a bit split on song quality, with some being some great compositions of verse and music, with others being a progressive oddity. Unlike the following few albums (and mostly until we get into the solo years of Frank Zappa) Freak Out! actually was almost entirely made up of what could be called 'songs.' While some were winners and some were losers, they were songs nonetheless. I enjoyed it overall, finding it a great launching point for a long career.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Retrospective: Johnny Cash - The American Recordings (Part 2)

I tried to get all of Johnny Cash's albums from The American Recordings within one article, but I had too much to say about each album. After I conceited defeat to that idea, I had plenty of room to go back and give the works the attention they deserved.
The chilling conclusion below:

American IV: The Man Comes Around - 2002
Much more somber then the previous albums within the American Series, The Man Comes Around is all the better for it. It's as if Johnny Cash realized that this would be the last of the series to be released during his lifetime, with him dying in September in 2003. This album is the largest percentage of covers, and these are some of his strongest of the series; songs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "I Hung My Head," and "We'll Meet Again" (one of my favorites) really are benefited by the man's particular simple style (covers of Simon & Garfunkel, Sting, and Vera Lynn, respectively). And then there are the songs that are an amazing shift from their original, Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt" (which people still don't believe Johnny Cash didn't write himself) puts a lighter note on a dark, dark song, and his version of "Personal Jesus" is a far cry from the original, semi-industrial style of Depeche Mode. Really some solid work on what would be Johnny Cash's last album released during his lifetime. Not a bad way to go.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bands I Should Like, But Don't: Coheed And Cambria

While the main focus of The Guide over the year has been overwhelmingly stoner and doom oriented, I do have a soft spot for progressive music as well. I enjoy hearing the complex rhythms, the stylistic changes jammed together, the often epic story-lines, and the seemingly-random (but still somehow together) generation of sound and song. As an avid reader, and a science fiction/fantasy nut (both in novel and live entertainment form), the concepts that propel most modern progressive music call out to me. By this definition, Coheed And Cambria should be one of my favorite bands. Hell, they have a (so far) five album story-arc, telling of a science fiction-heavy war and the world corrupted by it. This story is told throughout the songs and albums, but also through comic books, online videos, I've heard rumors of a novelization of the story and perhaps even a movie in the works(??)! But even with all this, the epic story and all the accoutrements, I still can't stand to listen to this group.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bands I Love: Holy Martyr

I had some extra time this week (not that I ever have a pressing schedule) so I was album to squeeze in some bands that I really enjoy, but rarely get a chance to listen to. One of these was Holy Martyr, a epic/power metal band I discovered a few years ago, but haven't actually heard in over a year. I've got their two albums, Still At War, and Hellenic Warrior Spirit, released in 2007 and 2008 respectively, so I was able to make an evening of it. And hot damn, I like their version of metal!
Holy Martyr is an Italian band that sings about Greek stuff, mostly based on Spartan/warrior legend. Their songs are all of war and legend, sacrifice and power, and they all kick some major ass. Think, a more power metal version of The Sword, with some cleaner vocals, and it wouldn't be a bad comparison. They plays a powerful version of heavy metal, their songs are all full of epic sound and remind me of a more melodic Manowar, just relying more on the guitars and drums and less on the vocals. Epic stories, mighty guitar and drum work, and some damn good vocals really propel the albums along.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Video: Johnny Cash - "Hurt" (Originally by Nine Inch Nails)

I figured, with me listening to the discography of Johnny Cash and writing about it (at least the American Series) I might as well put up the video of one of his most songs from the collection. "Hurt" was originally released by Nine Inch Nails, but I think it was done way better by The Man In Black. Hell, most people only know of the Cash version, and are surprised when I point out that it's a cover. This song is amazing in both formats, southern/acoustic and the industrial original, but Johnny Cash's baritone and simplistic recording style really pushes it over the edge for me.

I'm sorry about the intro, advertising for whatever YouTube persona that is. I looked long and hard for a better version, but they all wouldn't allow me to embed it into my site (that is to bring the video here, and not make you go you YouTube). This one is someone else's edited version, although after the first minute or so it gos directly into the official music video. I don't doubt if this gets pulled soon, but if it does, let me know and I''l look for another copy. It is a great song, and I think you all need to hear it in some fashion.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

(I'm also including this article in my 'Favorite Albums' list, because well... it is)

Usually known for their folk melodies - and some great ones at that - for their 2009 release The Decemberists went all out. While still keeping true to their folk roots with The Hazards of Love, they insert much more progressive elements into the album. For long-time fans (such as myself), the addition of the progressive sound is not wholly unexpected, with previous songs branching into this genre ("The Mariner's Revenge Song" being the first to pop into my mind), it's just the scope of the progressiveness that caught me off guard. The Hazards of Love is a rock opera in any possible description (again not wholly unexpected, as The Crane Wife had some rock opera elements within, just not to this extent), with a full cast of character revolving around a diverse and evolving plot.
Even before putting this record on again, I am already struck by the memory of the opera. The lyrics of "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid" (mostly the chorus/title line), and the repeating melody of the Queen's theme; the heavy guitars of this section are great, much heavier then anything else The Decemberists have done, and the repeating melody (whenever she makes her appearance), heard throughout the album, is what I love about progressive concept albums.

I was in a bad mood and really didn't want to write this article (I put it off til the last minute again), but by the second song - or first true song after the intro track, "Prelude" - I had a bit of a smile on my lips. I was still a bit pissed but the lulling effect of Colin Meloy's voice does wonders for my soul. Something about the folksy guitar, overlayed with his velvety voice, really reaches me. This is one of the main reasons I like The Decemberists, I believe. With any other singer, something fundamental would be missing, the bit that makes The Decemberists, The Decemberists. The Hazards of Love is my favorite release by the band, and one of my favorite albums of all time. I've heard it several times now, and it always brings about a circle of emotions from me; smiles and a bit of head bobs at the begging, goosebumps and sort of introspective at the climax, and a bit melancholy at the last song, as it all ties in together. Simply superb.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Retrospective: Johnny Cash - The American Recordings (Part 1)

Johnny Cash is a legend in any time. His style of music changed with the times - originating in gospel then to country (and the outlaw variety) to rock and roll and finally to a voice and a guitar (the American Recordings) - always keeping himself fresh and original (even when he was doing covers). During his life (and some after) he released *9 albums...that is amazing for any man, band, and genre! For this particular article, I won't be going through all of that, instead opting for my favorite series of Cash recordings: The American Recordings.
The American Recordings are a six-disc set (some could add a couple) of re-recorded Cash songs amongst covers the songs that he thought were worth listening to. A neat idea, and one he pulls off amazingly. His style of just his voice and his guitar (some have an accompaniment from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, but even that is limited) is something to behold. For my last Current Trend I went into my love of this simplicity in music, that a song with an empty background strikes more into my heart then a full orchestra. Johnny Cash does it amazingly, and that's what I want to go into to.

American Recordings - 1994
His fist album joining the American Recording Agency, from whence the name of the album comes from, American Recordings is the most focused on re-recording his own material out of the series, and as someone who didn't grow up on Johnny Cash (me) it is kind of nice to hear his older stuff in this new light. Songs like "Like A Soldier," and Nick Lowe's "The Beast In Me" come into haunting focus under this new musical direction. This is my least favorite of the group, but it still is a great disc, and a great place to start. It was ranked 364 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, so that's saying something. And while this isn't the best of the series (no matter what Rolling Stone says), it does lay the groundwork for further amazing albums.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bands I Should Like, But Don't: Queens of The Stoneage & Co.

I was at work today, and I began to think of acts that by all accounts I should like, but for some reason I don't. Some, while I love the genre in general, their particular representation of it doesn't, or I like all of the previous works by one of the members of the band, but can't quite grasp the new direction they're headed in. And so, because without much thought I was reminded of two such bands - and I'm sure if I put more effort into it I could think of more - I decided to create a new segment dedicated to this notion.

After my 'All In The Family' based on the members of Kyuss, I thought it prudent to continue with the subject and focus my debut 'Bands I Should Like, But Don't' on one of the best-known of the off-shoots of the legendary stoner rockers: Queens of The Stoneage, and the following off-shoots, Them Crooked Vultures and Eagles of Death Metal, basically anything that Josh Homme has his hands in.
I'm a big fan of stoner rock/metal, as anyone who spent any time reading The Guide could confirm, varying across the numerous sub-genres of this sub-genre. From blues to southern, psych to sludge, I think that every one of these stoner off-shoots bring something to the table, something that needs to be paid attention to. What I don't like is the stoner that moves into the pop direction (I'm not sure is stoner-pop is another sub-genre, but I'm going to use it as such). Bands that combine radio-friendly poppy-sounding rock, with the fuzz and attitude of stoner.It's not a mix that I like very much, and I lament the bands that make this stylistic progression.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Retrospective: The Sword

I began this Retrospective of The Sword back in September of 2010, after the release of Warp Riders, but after a strong beginning, the article fell by the wayside. Although I was excited as hell to listen to the new album, for some reason I didn't get around to it until December. By that point I had been writing reviews like mad, trying to get everything I wanted to listen to heard before the end of the year, so I banged out a review for Warp Riders and that was that. Well here we are in February and I re-discovered this half-finished article. And because I've been banging through CDs like crazy I figured I could take a couple of hours out of my morning and finish the Retrospective.

I was lucky enough to see The Sword when they opened for Clutch about two years ago now. It was in support for their (then) new album, Gods of The Earth, and they ripped it open. At this point I hadn't heard much of the new album (if at all, I didn't even know they were opening for Clutch until the day before), and only knew the words of two of the songs off of Age of Winters (just like now), but I still had a good time. I have that concert written down somewhere, I should find that and post it up here...if I ever find it that is.

Age of Winters - 2006
I'm not going to lie, the only reason I even heard of this group and their fist album, Age of Winters, initially is because of Guitar Hero. Having "Freya" as a playable track was a great idea by this band, and the song became one of my most played of the game (even though it was hard as hell to pull off). Well, however I heard it I was in love with the sound. Their blending of doom vocals with a more upbeat musical sound (which I later heard called stoner and I agreed) was pretty new to me at the time. Although I have heard this album several times, I have the hardest time understanding what the fuck the singer is saying. The only songs I know any amount of words to is "Freya" (guess why) and "Barael's Blade." That's it. The rest is a jumbled mess of wailing and guitars. But it still blasts my ear-drums and I love it. Some of my metal friends can't stand the singer's style, but I like the uniqueness of it all. Other stand-out tracks include "The Horned Goddess" and "March of The Lor." As a side note I like the pseudo-folk of their music too. I know it's not folk metal in the least, but the songs (at least by the titles and what little of the lyrics I can pick out) sing of the folk/power metal symbolism of war and ancient gods. I feel that this adds to their charm for me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rant: 20 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original - UPDATED!!!

This is a direct copy from my original 20 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original, but I was working on my list of 20 more kick-ass covers, and I decided that I needed to go more into detail with these songs, telling why they are so amazing. I'm doing it with the new list, so why not update the old? Plus it opens up my new readers to one of my first articles as my 'career' as a 'writer'.

1. Bruce Dickinson with Godspeed - "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" - Originally by Black Sabbath 
A great opener for the list; although Godspeed was a short-lived act (barely making it two year), with Bruce Dickinson with the lead vocals they could have amounted to anything. This song is from the Nativity In Black tribute album to Black Sabbath, and it is one of the most played tracks for me.

2. Demons & Wizards - "Immigrant Song" - Originally by Led Zeppelin 
Those guitars, those vocals, that double bass drum... the entirety of this song shoots far over anything Led Zeppelin ever have done. I love both Demon & Wizards albums (waiting/wanting for a third...) but this song seals their legendary status for me. I can't even stomach the original, because after hearing this version, you will swear the original is by an indie band, there is that much of a difference between the 'rock' and the 'metal.'

3. Dope - "You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)" - Originally by Dead or Alive
A so-so band covering a crappy disco song. I really don't know why I included this one originally, but it was two years ago. This is still the only Dope song I listen to (an Ex is the one who introduced me to the band), but even that is sketchy. Still, I'd rather hear Dope shout it out then Dead or Alive, that is for sure.

4. Eric Clapton - "Cocaine" - Originally by J.J. Cale
Ok, this one is a bit of a cop-out, as most people have never heard of J.J. Cale, and as such have no inkling of what the original brings. This is still a Clapton staple, and I don't know a single person who doesn't love this song, whether it be the original or the unplugged version, you can catch anyone and everyone humming along whenever it pops on the radio.

5. Eric Clapton - "I Shot The Sheriff" - Originally by Bob Marley
The first in a long line of 'Oh, I thought that was the original artist,' "I Shot The Sheriff" has been argued over countless times. Was it Marley or Clapton who recorded it first? Which one is better? Yadda yadda. Well I am here to tell you it was Bob Marley who originally wrote and recorded the song, but Eric Clapton re-recorded only a year later, which then launched to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, causing all the confusion.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Album: Angels of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1

So the weirdest thing, I'm drinking (that's not the weird thing) and listening to Earth's newest album, Angels of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1, and (here's the weird thing) I'm actually enjoying it; quite a bit. Now I have heard some Earth before, but I've never been a fan of their or of the whole drone scene altogether, so much so that I was hesitant in even picking up this album. But, as fate would have it, sometimes you need some all-encompassing dredge to get you through the day. I almost got fired today from my job, and I'm pretty sure they are going to stop me from working on The Guide while at work (which will cut my productivity down considerably), so I threw the album on for nothing but a soundscape while I grabbed a drink and took a shit. I know, graphic, but such is life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Album: Wo Fat - Noche Del Chupacabra

I was really excited to get the newest album by Wo Fat, intriguingly named Noche Del Chupacabra, but then I realized that I didn't remember what the group actually sounded like - aside from stoner/groove - because I hadn't listened to them in almost exactly a year (and well before I started taking The Guide seriously). So I preambled this album by listening to their discography, hearing both The Gathering Dark and Psychedelonaut over the two days prior to hearing Noche Del Chupacabra, which I think gives me a better understanding of this, the group's newest release.

The thing I've noticed, over Wo Fat's discography - which holds true for Noche Del Chupacabra - is that the group can put out some really great songs.... then follow them up directly with some really dull ones. It seems every album is plastered 50/50 with these sonic extremes. I found "Bayou Juju" uninspired and boring, sounding more like a garage band then a triple-release act, but enjoyed the shit out of "Descent Into The Maelstrom," which had some substance and layering to it. That work of art is followed directly by the 'sort of interesting' "Common Ground," and then immediately by "Phantasmagoria" which is a semi-psychedelic, repetitive, sort-of-droning song. The final song, the title track, is likewise semi-psychedelic, but in this case I can find it interesting; the song rises from nothingness into a groove-laden song and story. A great way to end any album, I just wish there was more substance to the songs before.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (')/Over-Nite Sensation

So I haven't been keeping up with my progressive music and writings. This week has been hectic with doubles at work, dealing with the government and being sick, so instead of writing a Weekly Dose of Prog about some new artist I found, I'm going into the classic range, with Frank Zappa's double album (complied such in the era of CDs anyway), Apostrophe (')/Over-Nite Sensation.

Keeping with the usual eclectic Zappa theme, Apostrophe (')/Over-Nite Sensation, is an experimental/avant-garde/progressive mess - in all the right ways. The songs vary wildly in style, composition, tempo, and thought pattern, and truly the only thing keeping the album together is the complete disharmony within the tracks themselves; they are so uncollected, that they fit together perfectly. What intrigues me most about the album is the title. You see Over-Nite Sensation was released a year prior to Apostrophe (') so I don't know why on the re-issue they would reverse not only the titles but the song numbering as well. Maybe it sounded better this way, as The Saga of Nanook of The North is a great opener, but truly I don't know, and probably never will.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Album: Andrew Clayton - Fire In The Milky Way

Before I do anything I must make it known; Andrew Clayton is my best friend. I've known him for going on seven years, we've had more combined experiences together then anyone in my life, and I know more about him (and vice versa) then anyone else. That being said, when he asked me to review his debut album, Fire In The Milky Way, I told him that I wouldn't take it lightly, reviewing it favorably just because of our history, It would be a true review. He concurred, saying he wanted a truthful review, just like any other band. Luckily, we needn't have worried, as there is no question in my mind: this album is really damn good. Even after only one listen through, I found myself memorizing lyrics and tunes, something that doesn't usually happen, especially with the amount of music I listen to.

Andrew Clayton plays an almost archaic style of rock; blending blues, soul, and folk within a coating of warm tunes and compelling stories. The album, Fire In The Milky Way, unlike so many other folk rock acts (especially debut albums), does not stick to one style or genre or even a single thought, instead meandering as a river through a whole host of sub-sub genres of American folk. There are quick songs, some so fast you would swear he has two mouths, some grooving straight-forward rockers, and some soulful tunes that almost bring a tear to your eye. It's a smorgasbord of styles and themes - all of which are neck deep with a vocalized story.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Band: 3 For The Fire

3 For The Fire is a bit of an interesting band, besides being led by a blind man (which really doesn't do anything for the music, but it is an interesting side-note), their debut, self-titled, album progresses in sound and style in a cyclical way. Beginning with one style, shifting through two more, before returning to their original. With this variance of sounds, my interest in the album is very split. Overall it's decent, but certain parts are great while others fall behind the pack. But it's interesting throughout, and that is notable.

The first point I must make, about their sound, is that the entire record falls clearly within the stoner category; it's full of fuzz and groove, and could be on any enthusiasts collection and not stand out of place. That being said, the album itself moves through at least three distinct styles of stoner; from a funk/blues to a progressive sound (my favorite), then a dirty rock 'n roll, and back once more to the funk/blues. There is a little for everyone, but not enough for fans of any one genre.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In The Beginning: Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Another new segment, this one dedicated to where it all began; the beginnings of heavy metal itself. Just a short ditty on bands and albums that predated or laid the foundations for the future of music as we know it today!

Iron Butterfly is a band that few have ever heard of or even remember today. The majority of those who do remember them, probably only remember them for their tripped-out psychedelic seventeen minute venture titled "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," which really was their claim to fame. Hell even me, with my immense collection have only ever heard the album of which this title track is found on. But this a band that we need to take notice of. For a full year before Led Zeppelin released their debut - they being often erroneously titled as metal's originators - Iron Butterfly had released two records, solid in down-tuned guitars, and heavy with the drums (including the massive drum solo within "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" itself). Now, I'm not going to call Iron Butterfly as the origin of heavy metal as we know it, but they need to be looked at as a solid influence at the quickly evolving sound.

Monday, February 7, 2011

All In The Family: Kyuss

I'm listening to the Kyuss discography and I realize that I recognize the singer, John Garcia, from another band, Hermano. Of course I know what Kyuss was, and I know all the members splintered off to create their own legacy, but thinking about it, I have come to realize that the group has built a solid network of projects, band and albums, listing into the dozens. Then I gave it some more thought, and I know of at least three other acts, off the top of my head, that have a similar legacy; thus, All In The Family was born. Now this is not going to be a weekly segment, or even a monthly, but like the Retrospectives I do, they will come out whenever I feel like it, and after the initial group, whenever I find another act that has as much influence as bands like Kyuss.

Kyuss has been legendary for the stoner genre, if not the first, they are the most well known of the beginning wave. Everyone cites them as an influence, and every stoner act is compared to them. They rose and fell without much fanfare, only becoming recognized for their genius years later. Throughout the act's short career they were host to numerous artists, the list being: John Garcia, Bruno Fevery, Nick OliveriBrant Bjork, Josh Homme, Scott Reeder, Alfredo Hernández, and Chris Cockrell - many of whom have become house-hold names to those fans of the genre.

John Garcia - Lead Vocals (1988 - 1995, 2010 - Present)
The original - and current - singer of Kyuss, John Garcia's gritty vocals have become synonymous with stoner and desert rock. Along with Josh Homme, Garcia is the only member of Kyuss to make it all the way through their initial run, and with the new incarnation of Kyuss Lives! is the sole continual driving force of the band. After Kyuss John Garcia went on to form a pair of short-lived acts, Slo Burn & Unida (which featured Scott Reeder for a short time as well), both of which have collected some of Kyuss' strong following. After these two bands had broken up, he joined producer Dandy Brown to sing in a side project, what would become Hermano, releasing three studio albums and one live LP.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Completely Unrelated: Let's Go Green Bay!!

I know this isn't really the venue, but me trash talking my friends has gotten a bit old. I just want to throw it out there that I am a life-long fan of the Green Pay Packers - even living in Florida my whole life - and they are going to mop the floor with those wussy Steelers.
Also here are some music for you; a collection of Green Bay tribute songs, some recent, some from the 1996/1997 seasons. This second one is a release by the bar-room band The Wedgies who performed covers of classic rock songs with a Green Bay theme. I'm only posting this cuz it took me forever to find all these songs. It needs to be up somewhere. Took me a while to get it all, I had to look long and hard. Also most of the quality is pretty bad, I had to get most of it off of YouTube.
Green Bay Mix

The Wedgies - Brat Out of Hell

...That is all

New Band: Desert Storm

Discovered as just another random band from a random site, Desert Storm has been getting mixed receptions across the net. While the word on their their debut album, Forked Tongues, has been almost unanimously positive, there have been an equal number of naysayers for their particular style. The unavoidable comparison to Clutch, with like grooves and similar vocals, which to some is a praise, to others it seems to be their downfall. As the majority of the complaints are that they sounds a little too much like Clutch. Ed over at Doommantia had their sound a little more varied, comparing them to Clutch, Down and Orange Goblin, giving a little more variance but still keeping the underlying Clutch theme and it being a negative (he has sense changed his outlook a bit, upping the albums rating in the comments section of the post). I know reviews are opinions and everyone has their own, but this is not my outlook.

To me the Clutch references, while accurate, are nothing but a good thing. Even before reading Ed's review, or knowing much at all about Desert Storm, when I heard the first two tracks of Forked Tongues the comparisons slap you in the face. The instruments are all heavy groove, down-tuned, and jamming, and the vocals are deep, with a hint of growl. These first couple of songs, and the last three or four, could have easily come off of a Rare and Unreleased album by Clutch, coming from the era between their debut album, Transnational Speedway League, and their follow-up, Clutch. The only part that truly stands out, as an individual band, is the inclusion of a female on vocals; it adds a simple nuance to the track or two she is a part of. While it doesn't make any really big changes or contributions to the overall sound, it's an added layer that really stands out in my mind.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Artist: Edward Rizo - Soundscapes Volume One

**DISCLAIMER: This is a album review of ambient music.***

Hard to see, but there is album art
A good friend of mine, Edward Rizo, composed this album.  This album is way different than anything else on this blog and a lot of this review is going to be more opinionated than previous reviews - and after listening to it, you'll hear why.

The album opens with the track aptly named "Chasms".  It was correctly named.  When I head this I had the feeling/visions of flying over and through canyons, and of course other Chasms. I feel that this track and the second track are more of  two halves - two movements to the same piece.  Hypothermia builds off of that "soaring" feeling - but as the title says, it provokes a cold feeling.

Track 5 "Pressurization" is just an awesome track.  I can foresee this track in a movie, right when the antagonist is berating the protagonist, right until the hero can't take it any more and bursts into a rage of fury.

Some of the tracks invoke a very ethereal-type feeling.  Track 8 in particular "Consummate" - Seems as if it could be in a Stephen King movie.  The way the that the chords are constructed in this track ....It's almost Creepy

All in all this is at least an interesting album to listen to - just to get out of the "Heavy Metal" genre if that's what you're interested in.  Personally, since there are no lyrics and this is ambient music, I like to turn this on while I'm studying, just for the background music.

Tracks are available for listening and free downloads here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Haken - Aquarius

Continuing my review of some of the best progressive albums of 2010 (so says ProgArchives) I come onto Haken and the number two album of the year (when I saw the list, it is always updating, and they are in fact number one at the time of this writing), Aquarius. The album, and thereby the band (as this is their first release), is a really well put together semi-symphonic, progressive metal release. It is filled with powerful vocals, mostly clean but able to growl or reach guttural tones when needed, there is a heavy piano hand present throughout, being more of the central focus point then any other instrument. The guitars and bass - while present - seem to play a lesser role then most rock/metal albums, subbing in keyboards and strings for the majority of the moving melodies. It brings an interesting view and twist of the prog genre, that in itself is something, to bring a example of a genre that is almost defined by it's individuality of bands and albums.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Band: Devil

I picked up Devil's debut EP, Magister Mundi Xum, a couple of weeks ago, and their unique name (how has that one never been taken yet?), their neat album artwork, and the reviews I've been reading about them (still scarce, I'm trying to do my part) all combined to make me bump this up on my listening schedule - plus I was in the mood for some killer doom. What I got was not something at all what I was expecting, I'd hesitate to call this release 'true doom,' 'traditional doom,' or whatever moniker you put on the less out-there sub-genres, even though this reminds me more or the origins of doom then any other recent release. It's just something unique and fresh, especially nowadays, where it seems like everything new with the genre has been accomplished.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Everything I Didn't Review In January

Another new segment - I know! Am I crazy?? - this one being based on that although I write articles for most of the new music I hear, I just don't have the time and energy for them all. This series will be nothing but really short reviews (often one or two sentences) about the music I listen to, that may not have made it into an article. Of course, reviewing it here does not mean I won't review it later, but this is a simple way for me to get the word out there about the smaller acts I hear. 

Andrew Clayton - Fire In The Milky Way
My best friend's debut album (but that hasn't blinded me to the music). There will be much more about this one in the months to come. Andrew Clayton is the rising king of great Americana Folk rock.

Atlantean Kodex - The Golden Bough
Good power doom metal. Some extremes between the album's best songs and their lesser ones. This album has been getting some great reviews, but it doesn't stand out to me as anything special. I just like the epic scope of the music and vocals of Atlantean Kodex.

Backwoods Payback - Use Magic To Kill Death (EP)
Just a quick little EP I found by Backwoods Payback, and I wish I had more. It's a really enjoyable triad of songs; very groovy, with a great connection between the vocals and the music.

Black Pistol Fire - Black Pistol Fire
Some very British-sounding stoner. I'm not sure if Black Pistol Fire is actually British (I'm working on an article, I'll do some real research then), but there are some serious influences of the Brit scene. Pretty damn good, on par with Black Spiders as far as song quality.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Albums Listened To In January (66)

...And thus ends the month of new. I'm not going to do my usual rant about the good and the bad this month, mostly because I have a new monthly article that will do all of that for me. This month has been nothing but shit for me, from day one (hour one) to day 31, I am over January, and 2011 as a whole frankly. I'm ready for 2012 and the end of the world.

I am very excited to announce, that beyond my shitty life, The Klepto's Guide continues to grow in popularity! While December was a record month with 2,300, in January it acquired a whole host of new visits, topping at over 7,100! Now, I did cheat a bit, writing an article for Angry Chairs that linked directly to my own site, which gathered up around 2,000 visits in a handful of days, so it's all inflated a bit. I was/am averaging between 150 to 200 visits a day, which should bring my usual monthly average to around 5,000, which I am still ecstatic about! Spread the word, tell your friends, and lets see if we can get a legit 7,000 visits for the shorter month of February.

There were a lot of great bands this month, and an oddly high number of crap ones, but I guess that is to be expected. I'm going to work on some older music for next month, try some classic bands' discographies out and write a retrospective or two about them, but I'm going to try and keep the new music at a high percentage as well. It'll be a tug-of-war for my time and love.