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.

 

 

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.

VANIISH go goth and beyond on debut album, Memory Work!

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It’s hard to describe VANIISH to someone who hasn’t heard them before. If She Wants Revenge went the way they should have, if I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness actually recorded a follow up to their stunning debut, if The Soft Moon were a tad less mechanical, If Bauhaus put out an album in 2014….

Does that help? Are you getting the feels? Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?

Anywho, former member of aforementioned The Soft Moon (As well as Wax Idols and Veil Veil Vanish) Keven Tecon is back after some tumultuous times with VANIISH ready to fulfill all of your gothed out musical hopes and dreams in the year of our lord 2014.

Unlike many of their contemporaries, VANIISH prove to not be a one trick pony on debut album,  Memory Work. Tracks like “Succession” and “Kaleidoscoped” easily exemplify how VANIISH stray from the pack with dense, lush songwriting similar to The Cure, who are known for easily navigating between the dark recesses to a sunny disposition from album to album. Just listen to the chorus of “Memory Work” and the bright, shimmering synths as Tecon anguishes “Nothing to remember/Nothing to forget” for proof of that.

Speaking of the title track, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” permeates throughout setting this one up as this generations new goth anthem with its throbbing beats and sinister air. If “Memory Work” is your speed then try “Fragment/Fatigue” next which sees Nick Ott playing a nasty snare echoed by Tecon and guitarist/keyboardist Adam Beck’s sexy guitars and synths. As for the low end in VANIISH, Amy Rosenoff provides the driving bass lines on Memory Work especially during the bombastic “Search And Replace” and the serene grooves of  “Cold Fascination”.

Memory Work is out on now through Metropolis Records. Get your limited edition vinyl copy here and a less limited (but still equally awesome) digital copy here.

On third LP it’s anything but Luck for Tom Vek!

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On Luck, Tom Vek’s third long player, the London-based artist manages to effortlessly connect the dots between all of his projects and previous albums to make an album that’s both cohesive and progressive.

Maybe it’s to be expected on a Tom Vek LP, but first track “How Am I Meant To Know” like on predecessors (“Hold Your Hand” on Leisure Seizure, “C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)” on We Have Sound) is just jarring and discordant. It could be a test by Vek on each outing: if you can survive this track then you’re prepared for the rest. If you can survive those first 3-4 minutes without skipping then you’re in for a treat….and honestly, to truly experience any album these days you have to listen all the way through.

“Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)” is next and is a hybrid of Vek’s collaboration with DJ Shadow in 2011 with his token sound adding more post punk guitar to the electronic aspects with a low end that just constantly grooves. Elsewhere, the clothing designer and app-innovator continues to expand musically on tracks like “Ton Of Bricks” that starts with a singular synth line until the guitars and percussion rise to a crescendo turning the song into a futuristic version of The Police.

Throughout Luck, though, there’s not one misstep. From “Broke”, which takes beats not unlike those found on We Have Sound to the next level, to the guitar-driven/bass heavy drone of “A Mistake” Vek has produced yet another masterpiece that manages to top his earlier work.

Other highlights (But really, each track is its own highlight) include “The Tongue Avoids The Teeth”, another jangly guitar-driven anthem with a smooth beat, and “Pushing Your Luck” which builds to an unbelievable jam led by Vek’s uncanny vocal delivery.

Luck is out today overseas and on June 10th in North America through Moshi Moshi Records. Pre-orders are available here, here, and here.

What’s in a name? Beastmilk is here to rock your world!

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Anything Deathwish Inc or GodCity/Kurt Ballou related immediately piques my interest. Unfortunately, the fact that this one slipped through the cracks and I found out about Beastmilk through a Pantera anniversary issue of Revolver is entirely on me.

Yep, the name is gonna throw you: What kind of music is this? Are they serious? I’m telling you, though, look past the name and go for the meat and potatoes which is, of course, the music!

These Finnish former death metallers have crafted an album that puts Matt Skiba and Alkaline Trio to shame. Add some epic guitar ferocity in there along with some early Danzig and a small helping of Bauhaus for a better view of the “beast” that is Beastmilk.

But man oh man, these songs! “The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls” is an anthem and a half…you know, the kind of song that you just feel deep in your bones and makes you scream along at the top of your lungs during the chorus? “Fear The Mind” is one of THE best rockers out there with ungodly guitar tones that just moves the song to other levels of excellence. “Genocidal Crush” is the post punk single to end all post punk singles with an infectious sing-a-long refrain while “Ghosts Out Of Focus” sets a different mood altogether, slowing down but never stopping the intensity.

The only fault this album has is that it eventually has to end.

Climax was released late last year so you might have missed it but the important thing is that you know about it now so you can go  here and get yours.

Bob Mould continues musical reign with Beauty & Ruin!

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Apparently Bob Mould wasn’t done with  guitar rock after  the 2011 “See A Little Light” concert retrospective event inspired 2012’s brilliant Silver Age. If anything, the just released Beauty & Ruin is even more visceral and potent than its predecessor really harnessing the power of the Du at points.

It’s inevitable that anything Mould puts out is going to be compared to his older works but never in his career has he put out something so all-encompassing as the collection of songs found on Beauty & Ruin.

“Low Season” is a bit of a slow burn but paves the way for one of Mould’s most driving albums to date. From there, things get hectic. “Little Glass Pill” could be a new Husker Du tune and the same could be said for “Kid With Crooked Face” which is also the fastest Mould and co. have played in a long time. Speaking of “and co.”, the continued presence of Jon Wurster and Jason Narducy has reinvigorated Mould with a line up that really clicks on stage, in the studio, and with audiences.

The band continue to excel on first single “I Don’t Know You Anymore” featuring Mould’s signature songwriting prowess, on the pop punk “Hey Mr. Grey”, and on the Sugar-esque  “Nemeses Are Laughing” which really shows off Wurster’s drum skills.

Silver Age was just the prelude. If you thought that one was fierce then boy, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet! Beauty & Ruin is out now on Merge Records. Get your copy here!