Jokes! Episode 6: Sinbad, Make Me Wanna Holla

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Sinbad is back. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

If only you could just take my word for it, right? But seriously, Sinbad  is back with Make Me Wanna Holla: an all new stand up special recorded in Detroit, MI. If all you know of Sinbad is from television shows like A Different World and films like Jingle All The Way and Necessary Roughness (How awesome is this movie still?) then you don’t know anything about how funny this man truly is. Make Me Wanna Holla is the perfect introduction to this comedic genius as he points out the pratfalls (and pitfalls) of everyday life.

Like a gruffer Bill Cosby with a quick wit and no-nonsense attitude, Sinbad dishes out parenting tips one minute (On “Tough Love”), talks about the mindset of the “Commander In Chief” the next (“He’s ready to go home!”), while contemplating getting older during “Foot Problems” (“Gout! I can’t have gout!…what’s gout?”).

He waxes poetic on “Kids These Days” (“You do know TV used to go off, right?”), ponders how it’s possible that the new generation is “Flunking Kindergarten” and worries about the current trend that sees teachers sleeping with students on “Kids & Women”(“Teachers, why you datin’ your children????” “Where was you when I was in school?”).

Through it all, Sinbad delivers well over an hour of comedy gold. Make Me Wanna Holla is out now through Comedy Central Records. You can get yours here and here and view clips and more over at Comedy Central.

 

Mike Dean: A Rock and Roll Fables conversation

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Corrosion of Conformity bassist/vocalist Mike Dean has the perfect answer for those out there looking for a description of his band: “Well, it’s kind of an eclectic long standing heavy band that was originally born out of the American hardcore and crossover metal/punk hybrid era of the mid to late ’80’s. We went through many line up changes and configurations and have sort of landed in this spot where we just dabble in various Black Sabbath-inspired swarms of musical expression. That’s kind of it. It’s just heavy stuff with a little melody and attempt at being timeless.”

On their latest, IX, Dean along with guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin are once again in the trio “configuration” and that suits him just fine: “There’s less participants in the creativity but maybe the opinions are stronger. I think there’s a clearer sort of focus. You can play more notes. You can try crazier things harmonically when you don’t have a second guitar (In terms of the bass and the guitar). Things will come across a lot better but if they’re not working it’s really obvious because there’s nowhere to hide basically. Politically, it’s expedient. Financially, 33% is pretty good compared to 25%.  It’s another format. I like the 4-piece band. It’d be awesome to play with Pepper (Keenan, guitars/vocals). I like Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies and things like that so that’d be cool. We’re open to his contribution and kinda logistically just trying to make that happen and it’s something that everybody wants to do but for now, I like this format a lot as well. We’re just gonna roll with the changes or lack thereof and see what happens.”

Speaking of Keenan, Dean says the door is always open for his return but please don’t expect the current band to attempt any Pepper-fronted songs: “At some point we just figured that Down was too busy for us to do something with Pepper. Most of that stuff is just not gonna happen without Pepper. I don’t know, man. It just doesn’t quite feel right to take any of that on. We were supposed to do some shows with him in 2010 and it turned out he couldn’t make ’em and when he heard we were gonna go ahead and tour I think that’s one thing he was really concerned about is we would just take a lot of work that was his and try to ride the gravy train and that’s not something we’re interested in doing, y’know?”

Elaborating more on the song writing process and the songs for the latest record Dean continues: “I think the approach to writing is pretty much the same. It’s not like we’re great troubadours that sit down and we’re moved by seeing this bird with a broken wing singing to her mate and we wanna write a sad song and compose lyrics and music on the spot. We’re basically heshers. We come up with some cool riffs and some ideas, we show ’em to each other and make a basic structure and at that point it’s time to see what sort of vocal and lyrical ideas it compels you to produce. The basic style of writing is the same and some times we do it by committee collaboratively and sometimes we bring compositions that are nearly complete to the group.”

“As far as writing lyrics…since we come from traditional hardcore and at that point we were all 18 years old and we knew everything the songs would be pretty topical, pretty on the nose, taking on weighty issues and things like that. Over time we’ve kind of moved on towards more evocative type of lyric writing. We like to put things that will work to different people at different times in different situations and still resonate. We’re looking for imagery and sometimes there’s an agenda there that’s a little sneaky and a lot of times we’re just starting off with the usual gibberish the universe gives us.  Put that together with some nice turns of phrase and you start to see a coherent pattern merging. There’s a little bit of a stream of conscience element to it.”

“An early favorite was “On Your Way”. We kinda fast tracked that one to do a little music video that’s probably gonna be nice and strange. We were working last night at a very hot warehouse location deep into the morning hours just this morning. Y’know we’ve been playing that one live and it works pretty well. Beyond that, “Trucker” is one of my personal favorites and the riffs that Woody brought for “Brand New Sleep” in the studio just fell together. I really like writing lyrics and coming up with vocal melodies for songs with musical structures I didn’t have anything to do with much and I’m hoping we end up playing that piece for sure.”

Outside of C.O.C., Dean has reactivated Righteous Fool with Mullin which came about initially during the gap between 2005’s In The Arms Of God and 2012’s S/T album and handled live bass for Vista a Chino: “I would looove to work with them down the road. I went and did a couple tours with them and I felt musically Bruno (Feverey, guitars) and Brant (Bjork, drums) and John (Garcia, vocals) and I were communicating really well. It sounded really good. It felt really good. It felt like they were coming out the other side of a dark period imposed on them by an overly litigious legal action concerning the Kyuss Lives! name. It actually felt like there was some blacklisting type of activity going on that I was witnessing and privy to.”

“All in all it was pretty positive. I just enjoyed playing with them and enjoyed their new material. For awhile, John has been hatching the idea of doing a solo project so he went ahead and did that so Brant kinda did the same thing  so they’ve got these simultaneous solo endeavors which is cool cuz it gives me time to work on C.O.C. and dedicate some time to that. I would anticipate with one record remaining on their contract that certainly within the next year and a half they’ll probably reconvene on some recording. I hope they ask me to take part in that because that’s sort of what we were planning  and to play with Bruno Fevery is an awesome thing. Brant and Bruno and I would jam quite a bit and I thought we could be really comfortable just winging it and come up with a pretty good musical result just about every time so I’m looking forward to continuing that. But, y’know, those guys  have a great musical contribution whether separately or combined or whatever. Whether it’s with me or not, there’s amazing chemistry between Mr. Feverey, Mr. Garcia, and Mr. Bjork.”

Looking back, Dean agrees it’s a completely different world for musicians these days: “I would say the major difference is the landscape for music. Rock music, in particular, is not as big a piece of the cultural landscape and certainly a lot less of the cultural economy simply because there’s so much competition for our attention in terms of entertainment and all types of online time-sucking activities (Or inactivities really). Plus, the collapse of actually being able to sell a musical document to people when they can just figure out the bit torrent situation. That has kind of eaten away at the economy of it and while it’s been a great equalizer in a way it’s sort of taken out some of the meritocracy of the situation because anybody with with a certain amount of money can go and produce their music and, to some extent, distribute it so there’s actually kind of an overload of sort of mediocre to incompetent musical output with very little audience. It’s kind of an unfortunate situation in that regard but I like the egalitarian aspect of it in theory but the actual result of that development is less than ideal as far as there being a lot of music I want to listen to. I mean, there is a lot of music I wanna listen to but you have to dig around to find it.”

Thankfully, you don’t have to dig hard to find Corrosion of Conformity’s latest, IX, which streets on June 24th through Candlelight Records. Our review (With pre-order links) can be read over here.

 

Emma Ruth Rundle: A Rock and Roll Fables conversation

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Emma Ruth Rundle wants you to dance to Some Heavy Ocean. No, seriously. “If somebody figures a way to go and make a choreographed dance to it I think it’d be pretty funny. I’d be pretty impressed!” says the songstress via phone soon after the release of her debut solo album, Some Heavy Ocean, which is definitely not Pop music.

Jokes aside (Except when comparing her painting to her music: “I kind of describe them as having a mistress: you can kind of go between the two and it keeps things interesting. If I feel sort of stunted in music I can switch over to drawing or painting but the art thing happens in compulsive spurts. I never studied formally so it’s a huge leap to call myself an artist. I think ‘professional doodler’ would be more fitting”), Rundle describes her debut outing as a “very heavy thing and emotional for me” but hopes fans take away from it what she feels when listening to Sun Kil Moon or Mark Kozelek: “Obviously some of that stuff he’s talking about is heavier or painful for him but it really relieves something in me and I hope [Some Heavy Ocean] does something like that for someone else “.

Speaking of the genesis of SHO, Rundle continues: “The Some Heavy Ocean experience was really unique in the sense that I was living at Sargent House. Cathy (Pellow, owner/manager) had taken me in after where I was living before was completely burglarized and I had to leave. And I really had to leave with nothing.  We moved in and then Marriages went on tour with Deafheaven. The opportunity came when I came back to the house because Chris (Common), who had engineered the record and also filled in on drums for that Marriages tour had a studio in the house. He was like “Yeah, let’s just start recording when we get back”  because there was nothing that either of us had to do immediately. It was just something I had talked about doing for a long time and we kinda locked ourselves away to the studio in the house.”

“The song “Oh Sarah” was meant for my sister. I had wanted to make a record for her and ended up making Some Heavy Ocean which ended up being more for me than for her. “Shadows Of My Name” was a song I had written from start to finish as an acoustic song and we were going to be doing a Glass Room Sessions for Sargent House which is sort of equivalent to Marriages unplugged. That song, Greg (Burns, bassist in Marriages) had gotten really attached to because he heard me sing a demo of it and really loved it and wanted to do it as a Marriages song. It worked really well for that Glass Room setting but once we tried to take it back from the acoustic setting into the world of Marriages, which is a lot louder, it just didn’t work at all. It ended up sounding more like The Nocturnes and I did not want Marriages to ever go in that direction.”

The conversation shifts towards her various bands (Red Sparowes, The Nocturnes) and what role she most feels comfortable in: “It’s hard to say. Everyone’s different. For me, it was never “I’m gonna be a frontperson for a band!” You start doing music and it very much becomes a part of who you are and what you do. I worked at this music/guitar/folk store [which was] sort of the epicenter of folk culture in L.A. and worked there for a very long time. I started hanging out there when I was 8 so it sort of becomes who you are and it somehow shifts over to what your career is and your professional life more and more as you start doing it more.”

“Out of everything I’ve been in I’d have to say I loved being in Red Sparowes. I loved getting the opportunity to just play guitar and speak through the instrument without having the attention put on me, the attention of being a front person or a solo artist. It’s not something that I’m trying to run away from anymore but I loved Red Sparowes and that there was an anonymity to it in a sense that there were four other people on stage. The guitars would speak to one another and I felt very immersed in something that was happening between several people. There’s a lot less pressure in a situation like that. A lot more freedom and certainly the ability to hide a little bit more.”

Looking forward, it’s just been announced that Rundle will be opening for Buzz Osborne on most dates of his summer tour while the second Marriages LP should finally see the light of the day as well: “We’re wrapping the record up right now and hopefully it will come out sooner than later. It’s different and we’ve got Andrew Clinco as a writer. He’s a full member, he’s the drummer. It seems like we get thrown on tours sort of out of the blue so we might be doing some tours, too.”

Some Heavy Ocean is out now through Sargent House. You can read all about it here and be sure to catch Rundle this summer on tour with Buzz Osborne and with Marriages. For a complete list of dates, go here.

 

 

 

Take a trip Once More ‘Round The Sun with Mastodon!

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Sometimes I think it’s great that Mastodon is free from the shackles of the concept album, having completed their “Elemental” 4-album stint with 2009’s Crack The Skye. Other times I am not so sure because albums like The Hunter come about. While The Hunter is a great album, it’s still hard to wrap my head around in the grand echelon of Mastodon supremeness. Great songs but a little directionless.

The same can not be said about their upcoming album, though. Once More ‘Round The Sun sees Mastodon at another pinnacle in their illustrious career thus far. Is there a concept in here? There’s always a concept in there somewhere but regardless, OMRTS is the greatest collection of songs Mastodon has ever put together and quite possibly their strongest album since Leviathan (Gasp!).

The riffs are greater, the singing is stronger, and the production is dirtier (Thanks to the indomitable Nick Raskulinecz). From the get go, OMRTS is seemingly so full of life and new found energy as the acoustic opening of “Tread Lightly” transmorgifies into one of the most powerful guitar assaults Mastodon has ever conceived filled with riff after humongous riff and vocal harmonies that are out of this world (Thanks to drummer Brann Dailor who’s taken on a more active role vocally). This is just the beginning, people! It gets so much better from here.

Dailor takes center stage on “The Motherload” and bares all with a masterful lead vocal performance coupled with the insane fills he ravages throughout. If anything, OMRTS sees a band that was already seemingly the best get even better. At everything. Dailor has really developed as a singer with a style that’s somewhere between Ozzy and Dio. It doesn’t make sense when you read it, but hearing it is fantastical. Meanwhile, guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds are unstoppable machines here apparently saving the most colossal riffage and sweetest solos for this album. Let’s not forget Troy Sanders, fresh from his stint with Max Cavalera and Greg Puciato in Killer Be Killed, who is absolutely on point during “Feast Your Eyes” with a thunderous yowl that guides the most balls out rocker Mastodon has ever written and performed.

If you were enticed to buy Once More ‘Round The Sun solely on singles “Chimes At Midnight” and “High Road” then this is the gift that keeps on giving. I know that Faith No More weren’t the first to use a cheerleader-style chant in a song but hearing the dazzling conclusion of “Aunt Lisa” (“Hey, Ho, Let’s Fucking Go! Hey! Ho! Let’s get up and rock and roll!”) inevitably brings back fond memories of “Be Aggressive”. And what new Mastodon record would be complete without the token appearance from Neurosis’ Scott Kelly who rears his head on the lengthy and sinister closer “Diamond In The Witch House”.

While 2014 has yet to conclude, I don’t see any reason why Once More ‘Round The Sun shouldn’t take the crown for “Metal Album of the Year” home now. Remaining metal acts with releases slated for July 1st and beyond: Consider yourselves warned!

Once More ‘Round The Sun is out on June 24th. Pre-orders are available here.

 

Jokes! Episode 5: DL Hughley, Clear

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I had forgotten how much I loved DL Hughley’s stand up. The stand out of The Original Kings Of Comedy is back with his first new special since 2012’s Reset. Recorded at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, Hughley delivers yet again.

Did you ever wonder about his appearance on Dancing With The Stars? The sacrifices he has to make to rationalize eating at Chick Fil A despite their stance on gay marriage (“So as a compromise, I decided to eat the chicken but I’ma leave the bun alone…”)? Why legalizing marijuana is great for preventing suicide (“Now where’d I put that rope….what’d I come into the garage for?”)?

All this and more is answered honestly and hilariously on Clear. He even goes on to discuss the Paula Deen controversy and how Catholics might have been worshiping the wrong Jesus all along (“Scholars believe based in the region of the world he lived in and the diet those people ate that he was short AND hunchback. So all these years we’ve been worshiping Danny Devito!”). If you want the full experience, however, you need to get Clear now!

Clear is available through New Wave Dynamics on Amazon and Itunes.

Corrosion Of Conformity in peak form on IX!

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Do I miss Pepper Keenan? Sure do! My Corrosion of Conformity education began with 1994’s Deliverance but I understand why things are the way they are now. Making it easier to swallow is the fact that Mike Dean, Reed Mullin, and Woody Weatherman are still putting out some of their finest work regardless of Mr. Keenan focusing on that other band for the time being.

Following the release of last year’s free Megaladon EP, IX follows the same design set forth on 2012’s self-titled monster which sees the Animosity-era line up once again delivering some of their finest work with that vitriol firmly intact albeit presented in a more laid back fashion.

It’s that sound developed on Deliverance that’s subtly transformed from plain Southern rawk  into a monstrous force of Black Sabbath-sized riffs and grooves merged with that old school intensity of C.O.C.’s early years. First taste of IX, “The Nectar”, is a perfect example of that as is opener “Brand New Sleep”. Bassist/vocalist Mike Dean is in top form during the infectious “On Your Way” while guitarist Woodroe Weatherman shreds the shit out of his instrument laying riff after earth shattering riff and Reed Mullin follows suit pummeling away on his kit.

If it’s straight up rawk that you’re after then by all means skip on over to “Denmark Vessey”, an old school punk rocker, or “Trucker” which is a blues-infused mega jam that sees the collective “wisebloods” rocking harder than most. Still not enough? Try on “Tarquinias Superbus” which sees the band at their most metal with a Dean-spewed chorus that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. IX eventually culminates with “The Nectar Reprised”. They end with a reprise, people! Who does that these days? Nobody! That’s who. Yet another reason that IX is not to be missed.

There’s silly and there’s stupid. If you’re neglecting C.O.C. these days while holding your breath that Keenan will be back tomorrow then, quite frankly, you fall in the latter category. IX is out through Candlelight Records on June 24th. Pre-order bundles are available over at Indiemerch or get yer digital on over on Itunes.

 

 

What’s In A Name? Ravioli Me Away premiere video for “Cat Call”!

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To really experience Ravioli Me Away you need to ignore whatever it is I’m blathering on about right now and click on the video for “Cat Call” now.

Has it been three and a half minutes yet? Were you sucked in by the “choreography”? The video’s insane, right? But special. It’s oh so very special and fits with the song perfectly I must say.

The band is Ravioli Me Away and this London-based trio is looking to start some trouble in the music world with the release of their full-length, The Inevitable Release, in August. If it’s anything like “Cat Call”, an empowering anthem on sexism, then it’s bound to be worth a listen or two or three.

The Inevitable Album is out on August 18th through Good Job Records.  You can watch “Cat Call” below.

 

Speak deliver sophomore album Pedals, musical heavens explode!

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Listening through Speak’s sophomore album and I’m immediately transported to that scene in Back to the Future in which Marvin Berry is on the phone with his cousin shouting excitedly: “Chuck! Chuck, it’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry! You know that new sound you’e looking for? Well, listen to this!”

Friends, if BTTF was remade today (Please gahd, don’t!) Speak would be that “new sound”. They absolutely sound like nothing out there today.  Part electronic, part Pop, part ’80’s throwback….however you choose to describe them, the sound they create on sophomore album Pedals is undeniably massive.

The minute “Gates” opens up Pedals listeners are instantly enveloped in that massive sound. It’s singer/keyboardist Troupe Gammage’s monolithic keys, Nick Hurt’s epic guitar solo, Jake Stewart’s percussive stomp…just everything about “Gates” is fantastic. And that’s just the first song! Later still, bassist Joey Delahoussaye lays down some funky lines that would make John Taylor jealous while “Oh Lord” has hints of The Faint somewhere within. Gammage, meanwhile, vocally treads a fine line between Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and Adam Levine during the more falsetto moments making the densely layered songs he writes even more interesting.

Think of Speak as a marriage of Vampire Weekend with Tears For Fears if you’re looking for comparisons. The best thing about Speak, though, is that once you think you have them figured out they go to the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum. The quiet, acoustic, instrumental “Weiss” segue’s perfectly into “This Much I Know” with bits of Country and even Gospel early in the album but then drummer Stewart gets to flex his chops on the march of “Heavy Metal War” complete with a horn section further in. It’s this kind of diversity from song to song that is truly the beauty of Pedals and Speak.

Pedals is out on June 24th. Pre-order yours on Itunes and Amazon now. But more importantly, head on over to Speak’s official website to see when you can catch them live on tour with Gemini Club and The Griswolds.

Bright Light Bright Light up the ante once again on Life Is Easy.

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Rod Thomas is back at it again as Bright Light Bright Light and inspired by some new friends (Sir Elton John, in particular, who appeared on the I Wish We Were Leaving EP earlier this year) on his sophomore stunner Life Is Easy. Expanding the Bright Light Bright Light sound even further this time around, Thomas ups the dance and synth quotient considerably making Life Is Easy an easy contender for “Club Album of the Year” (Is that even an award?).

“There Are No Miracles” invokes the spirit of Pet Shop Boys just starting out in 2014. “I Wish We Were Leaving” pairs Thomas with Sir Elton on a beats driven track with an expansive electronic soundscape which further accents the pure chemistry when John’s and Thomas’ voices mesh. “An Open Heart” is this gorgeous synth-heavy jambalaya of sonic awesomeness that’s sure to get your ass out of your seat and dancing around your house or office like a maniac (Pair this with Maximo Park’s “Brain Cells” for the most epic interpretive dance-a-thon of the year). “Good Luck” is another banger that adds some elements of Reggaeton making this one of the most upbeat tracks here despite the not so upbeat lyrical content (“Good luck being lonely/Look after yourself/Good luck finding somebody else”). “More Than Most” is just gorgeous on its own but add a choir towards the end and the song goes way beyond.

Did I ramble on about the songs for a bit? I guess but when all is said and done, every song on Life Is Easy is beyond great. Things don’t slow down until the seventh song people! Thomas’s songwriting and evocative vocal style have truly gone to the next level on his sophomore offering. Life Is Easy is out on July 8th through Self Raising Records/Megaforce Records/RED. Don’t miss out on one of the greats of 2014, pre-order your copy here and here.

 

Welcome to Joyland, courtesy of Trust.

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Have you ever gotten into a band at the absolute worst time possible? Like, you just fully immerse yourself in an album only to find that said band has just come through town? That’s my experience with Toronto’s Trust. Until next time then but for now I can still experience their latest album, Joyland, over and over and over again.

Somewhere between Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys with a twinge of Peter Murphy, Brad Roberts,  and Sigur Ros thrown in for good measure lies Trust. They’re one of those bands that’s so good that if Joyland is your first taste of the band, you’ll be instantly inclined to go back and devour their back catalog (I did and it is soooo worth it!).

From the onset of first track “Slightly Floating”, Robert Alfons’ voice will mesmerize, hypnotize, and utterly pull you into Trust’s world. “Geryon” picks up the pace and layers on the synths bringing to mind previous album, TRST. Speaking of their stunning 2012 debut (Take a listen to “Shoom”, “The Last Dregs”, and “Sulk” please and thank you!), Joyland presents only a slight departure sonically from that album but sees Trust even more focused and driven on songwriting and structure to give listeners the most exquisite listening experience (Check out “Are we Arc?” for more on that) this time around.

I’ll also admit that I was under the delusion that the soprano vox on Joyland were obviously done by either one of the two female band members or a guest vocalist at the very least…but nope, I was totally wrong. After watching a live clip (Live in Cologne), I discovered that Alfons does it all! His range is another factor which makes Trust a true stand out in today’s electronic music scene. Whether it’s switching from a deep baritone to a soothing mid range on “Four Gut” or taking his voice to even greater levels of sensual seductiveness on songs like “Ichabod”, Alfons is unlike any vocalist in modern music today. Joyland is available now. Find your copy here and then head over to their FB page to see when you can catch them live in NYC and L.A. this fall.