Lazer/Wulf bring some “thinking man’s metal” on The Beast of Left and Right

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Holy crap! Behold excellence! Are you still not feeling Mastodon’s evolution? The good news is that Lazer/Wulf is here to comfort you during this difficult time.  Some Metallica, some Masto, some Kylesa (They are on Retro Futurist after all), and a little bit of the (melvins) on speed make for a very interesting musical concoction.

Set aside all the aspects of The Beast of Left and Right that make it technically great and go with this: if you like to rock the eff out then this is the only record you need to own this year.

Okay, now back to the brilliant parts.

Nothing about this record is conventional which makes it even more, ahem, brilliant (Sorry, it’s true!). In some spots there’s no song structure but it still works so freaking well. Take opener “Choose Again (Right Path)”. Sean Peiffer, Bryan Aiken, and Brad Rice just come at you full force with their bass, guitar, and drum attacks respectively. When you expect the song to “start” after such an epic intro, it doesn’t. But then there’s a breakdown around the minute and a half mark. Then it gets heavier and a little mellow and then there’s some vocals around the six and a half minute mark. Makes no sense but is pulled off spectacularly.

“Lagarto” is a thunderous three and a half minute sonic vortex of amped up goodness with a sick bass solo leading to an all out groovefest. “A Conflict of Memory” is a spacey little ditty with hints of Tool and staccato bursts of guitar fury. “Beast Reality (Center Piece)” brings in some familiar themes as does “Choose Again (Left Path)” making for a monstrous second half.

Some bands are just too smart for their own good. Gods among men? Maybe. Luckily, you don’t have to be a member of Mensa to enjoy The Beast of Left and Right. You just have to like good music.

The Beast of Left and Right is out on July 15th through Retro Futurist.

 

Raum Kingdom deliver on debut EP!

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If Maynard James Kingdom fronted Neurosis the end result might be Raum Kingdom.  On their self-titled debut EP, Raum Kingdom set the bar very high as to what’s to come with five songs that are unrelentingly melodic yet intensely brutal.

Forget Isis. Forget Pelican. Raum Kingdom is the evolution you’re looking for. Equal parts Neurosis and Tool (Especially on “This Sullen Hope”), Raum Kingdom incite the kind of slow burn riot fans of that genre (and beyond) have been hoping for.

“Wounds” is a visceral monstrosity of a song opening the floodgates of what’s to come with vocalist Dave Lee’s screeches cutting through Andrew Colohan’s epic riffing and Mark Gilchrist’s thunderous, oceanic drum bashing. “Barren Objects” settles into a softer groove before a wall of noise opens up underneath Lee’s surprisingly soft whimpers while bassist Ronan Connor rumbles below.

This is just three of the five, people! To really experience Raum Kingdom, you need to sit down and really listen from beginning to end. Essential listening in 2014? Definitely.

Raum Kingdom is out now. Get yours here.

 

Information Society say _hello world again this fall with new album!

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I was never a fan of Information Society during their beginnings and perhaps that’s a good thing. The best thing I could recommend when venturing into  _hello world is to come in with a fresh perspective and an open mind. If you do, you’re bound to be blown away. Chances are, if you do go in familiar with InSoc and with high expectations the results will be the same.

First off, how can anyone not love an album that has a track centered around a Schwarzenegger line from Total Recall? That’s “The Prize” for you, a slamming dance track with a chorus that’s sure to set clubs ablaze this summer. As a whole, _hello world is this glorious slab of new world disorder that’s equal parts Electro, New Wave, New Synth, Synth-Pop…look, it’s just awesome, okay? There’s bits for fans in all wakes of life here bringing to mind modern electroluminaries like The Faint, Bright Light Bright Light, and Pet Shop Boys. Speaking of Nebraska’s favorite sons: If you like The Faint’s swagger but feel they’re a little too out there then check out “Where Were You” while “Get Back” is a neat little amalgamation of VNV Nation and some of the more contemporary pop hits out today (Think Lady Gaga).

If you’re looking for nostalgia, then how about a Devo cover? “Beautiful World” even features Gerald V Casale and is a hyper-stylized refurbishing of a new wave classic. Further on, songs like the floor throbbing “Let It Burn” or guitar driven opener “Land Of The Blind” are constant reminders of how vital and relevant Information Society is thirty plus years into their career.

_hello world is out on September 23rd through HAKATAK International/MVD.

 

Those Mockingbirds give you THE summer rock album!

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If you frequent RNRF at all here or follow us on Facebook, then you already know of our love for Those Mockingbirds. We were introduced to them when they hit Cambridge’s Middle East back in March with singles like “How To Rob A Bank” and “A Ballad From Hell” and fell for them immediately. Singles are one thing but an album’s worth of original material is what separates The Good, The Bieber and The Ugly. So which category does Penny The Dreadful fall into?

The best thing I can say about Those Mockingbirds is that there is absolutely no way you can pigeonhole (Only bird reference, I swear!) their sound into a nice, tidy category, sub-category, what-have-you. At one point during Penny The Dreadful they’re the raucous saviors of good old fashion Von Bondies-style rawk and/or roll, the next they’re the fuzzing out their sound even more like CKY on “Teenage Fantasies” while “Loose Leather” transitions to some solid sing-a-long Pop.

Take opener “A Ballad From Hell” as another example. It acts as the calm before the storm until “How To Rob A Bank” rips through your speakers with Tory Daines’ violin gorgeously accenting the down home overall Southern feel of the song yet Those Mockingbirds hail from New Jersey.

They’re an “enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery” and if one tries too hard to figure Those Mockingbirds out then they’re just taking away from the fun of listening to the band and not giving a damn who they sound like. Just let the band churn out some solid tunes with reckless aplomb, sit back, relax, and be thankful that there is still some originality left in the music world today.

Penny The Dreadful is out, um, NOW! What are you doing still reading this? Go get yours right away. Here!

 

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.

 

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.