What’s In A Name? Steak offer up some Corned Beef Colossus on latest EP!

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John Garcia recently revealed that he recorded some vocals for a band called Steak. Being a Garcia/Kyuss/Vista Chino/Slo Burn/Hermano fan, the news piqued my interest and I am happy to report that the music world is about to explode once they get a taste of Steak.

On their most recent (May 2013) release, Corned Beef Colossus, London’s Steak offer up some sumptuous sounds that are bound to fill your ear holes with delight. “Black Milk” opens the 5-track EP with Pepper Keenan-era COC swamp boogie giving way to some fuzzed out Blues For The Red Sun riffage and feels on the, ahem, colossal “Liquid Gold”. Vocalist Kippa is one of those truly exceptional vocalists. Switching from some blues-filled swagger (“Black Milk”) to some fierce growls (“Glanshammar”), Kippa delivers a performance that’s easily worth the price of admission.

That’s not to say the rest of Steak slack at all. The aforementioned “Liquid Gold” is an epic six and half minute masterpiece showcasing Reece’s intense guitar playing while “Acid Dave” hits that Kyuss sweet spot and sets up Cam and Sammy as this generations Reeder and Bjork (Sorry Nick!).

Corned Beef Colossus is available now through Steak’s bandcamp page. Get yours here. For more on Steak and info about their upcoming release, check them out on Facebook here.

 

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 4 (Godflesh, Decline & Fall)

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The news on the new Godflesh front was becoming increasingly quiet and I was wondering if A World Lit Only By Fire was ever going to see the light of day. I can only imagine that Godflesh must have sensed my concerns (Obviously!) because not only has their new album been slated for a Fall 2014 release but, to tide fans over, they’ll also be releasing an EP entitled Decline & Fall on June 2nd.

This is what you’ve been waiting for kiddies! The first new Godflesh material in 13 years (Along with the cover of Slaughter’s “F.O.D.” released as part of Decibel’s Flexi Series late last year) is here and it’s everything you hoped and dreamed for. Didja like Streetcleaner but prefer the vocal stylings a little more polished a la Selfless? Well, it looks like you got your wish here because opener “Ringer” reeks of both albums.

Want your Godflesh even more aggressive? Justin K. Broadrick’s bark is absolutely seething on “Dogbite” while “Playing With Fire” drones on with industrial aplomb. If you want the full experience, though, turn your ears towards the title track, “Decline And Fall”, which brings equal parts intensity and slight glimpses towards what the future of Godflesh hold.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for early Godflesh then Decline & Fall is sure to get you going and hyped for the upcoming full-length. It’s a nod to the past with a solid foot in the future and, hopefully, a vision of what’s to come this fall.

Decline & Fall is available through Avalanche Records on June 2nd. Get a copy here and here. North American fans can get their copy on bandcamp now.

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 3 (Prong, Ruining Lives)

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Prong can do no wrong in my book and, to be honest, I’m just happy they still exist because there seemed to be a time where that might not be the case anymore (Happily, that reality is in the distant past). Not only is Prong reinvigorated after 2012’s jaw dropping Carved Into Stone but the band has bounced back with one of the quickest turnarounds for a new studio album ever (For Prong, anyway).

The result is Ruining Lives which is undoubtedly more straightforward and more vicious than its predecessor. Probably the greatest surprise to be found on Ruining Lives is the amount of melody found within. Sure, it’s Prong through and through but RL succeeds the most when it takes the elements that made Carved Into Stone so great and experiments further. Where as CIS experimented with song structure, RL focuses instead on mastermind Tommy Victor using his voice in another way: to actually sing! Sure, the snarls and sneers are still there but the overall vocal presence on this one suggests a more mature Victor as lead vocalist.

For every thrasher like “The Barriers” and “The Book Of Change” (And boy, are those two thrashy!) there’s a pummeling song like “Windows Shut” with a chorus that’s just out of this world for Prong. Or take “Remove, Separate Self” which combines all the shredding Prong is synonymous for with another chorus that makes the song destined to be the next great crowd pleaser . Producer Steve Evetts returns once again to craft this next Prong classic along with new members Art Cruz and Jason Christopher on drums and bass, respectively.

Ruining Lives triumphs and strengths (Which is the whole of the album) also further proves why Victor is a staple when it comes to new albums by legendary personalities like Glenn Danzig and Al Jourgensen and why he has constantly served as a mentor for so many young musicians because at this point, and with the bass/drum revolving door within, Prong IS Tommy Victor. Prong band camp perhaps?

Ruining Lives is available now everywhere. Get your copy here now!

 

Jokes! Episode 3: Patton Oswalt, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time

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Let’s get one thing straight: I love Patton Oswalt. Not in the crazy way Paul Aufiero loved the NY Giants in Big Fan but in a totally platonic “he’s a cool guy” sort of way. I proudly wore a “sadness bowl” badge on my lanyard for work after Werewolves & Lollipops came out. He inspired a fun-filled night of drinking and Death Bed as well because of that album! Currently I enjoy his stints on Justified and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.L.D  as I wear my Shirts And Destroy tee with an Oswalt quote about the Boston Marathon Bombers (I don’t really wear the shirt while watching shows he’s on, just wanted to mention I own it).

That said, stand up comedy-wise I fell out of love with Oswalt when Warner Bros. snatched him up and he released My Weakness Is Strong in 2009. I don’t know what it was about that album but it didn’t seem to have the bite of his previous efforts. Cut to today and his latest album, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, and Patton has won me back. Back on Comedy Central Records since 2011’s Finest Hour and being a newer Dad has done wonders for the man and his comedic stylings.

Here, Oswalt’s notorious wit is in full effect as he talks about being an equally great and awful Dad, what adorable racism is, and being an undercover comedian to catch prostitutes (Not really). He also shares why you should or shouldn’t live in Maine, Florida, and Berlin (Apologies to those who already live there). And that just barely scratches the surface of Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, a brilliant return to form by Oswalt.

Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time is available now everywhere! Try Amazon or Itunes or go right to the source at Comedy Central.

 

Kristen Ford bids Boston adieu at the Middle East on May 24th!

download Courage comes in many forms. There’s facing your fears head on, quitting a job you hate to take care of your kids, running into a burning building while others run away, or leaving behind the city you know and love to live in a van and tour full time. While those are some extreme ends of the courage spectrum, it’s the latter that we’re talking about today because that’s scary and that takes a lot of courage. Which is what brings us to Boston’s own Kristen Ford who will be saying goodbye to Boston for a while but not before gracing us with one last show at the Middle East (Tonight!) which also serves as a record release for her new album, Dinosaur.

 

For over four years Kristen Ford has been a staple of the Boston indie rock scene. Whether singing the national anthem at Fenway, playing all over the area with her band or organizing various queer dance parties or open mics, Kristen has constantly given back to the place she calls home. On Dinosaur, Ford is poised to break out of Boston and conquer the world. Just listen to her subtle vocoder vox on “El Camino” that breaks into cries of “Music’s gonna save my soul” or the soul scorching guitar cries that complement Ford’s heartfelt words on “Be Your Girl” and tell me that Dinosaur isn’t an album destined for great things. If ever an album was meant to be taken live on the road cross country, it was this one.

 

Produced by Jesse Ciarmataro (AKA Quill, who will be one of the support acts this evening along with Goli and the George Woods Band) and Dan Cardinal at Dimension Sounds in Jamaica Plain, Dinosaur will be available at the show tonight. However, if you’re impatient you can grab it over on bandcamp now When you get tired of Boston Calling (And you will!), head on over to the Middle East in Cambridge to say goodbye to Kristen and wish her luck (And maybe buy some merch, too?). Doors are at 6:30 (18+, $10) and tickets are available here. For more on Kristen Ford, head on over here and here.

 

Front Line Assembly rules all, releases remix album ECHOES!

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Let it be known that I do not like remix albums. At all. Of my favorite artists to do so, there’s only a handful that I find tolerable (Nine Inch Nails’ Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D, Death From Above 1979’s Romance Bloody Romance: Remixes & B-Sides immediately come to mind). I guess I just tend to like the originals more and I’m usually just impatient waiting for another studio album. That said, with a remix artist roster like the one Front Line Assembly has but together for ECHOES, the remix companion to last year’s ECHOGENETIC, my skepticism has been quelled because this is a remix album that’s actually worth a damn.

It doesn’t get much better than this line up: Former FLA-er Rhys Fulber, upstarts Youth Code, Cyanotic, tweaker, and the indomitable force that is Primitive Race are just a few of the artists reinterpreting songs from Bill Leeb, Jeremy Inkel, and Jared Slingerland’s latest opus.

Doing a track-by-track would be a disservice to ECHOES as the the album needs to be experienced as a whole but I will say that it really hits the sweet spot and kicks into high gear when Blush Response’s (Joey Blush of Scar The Martyr) version of “Echogenetic” strikes. Then you get Henrik Blackstrom’s “Exhale”, HECQ’s “Prototyp”, Slighter’s “Leveled”…what I’m saying is, listen to it! It’s epic and undeniably Front Line Assembly at the core.

Did I mention that ECHOES also features two BRAND NEW SONGS? Well, it does! Co-written by Sneaker Pimps’ (Gone, but not forgotten!) Ian Pickering, “Contagion” which opens the album is the result if Delerium and FLA were to make an album together (And yes, I know what the connection is there) while “Next War” is a heavy dance track more in tone with last year’s ECHOGENETIC without the dubstep.

You can get all this and more if you shell out for the digital version of ECHOES on Itunes which features 4 bonus tracks or go with the standard edition which is also available now through Metropolis Records.

 

Emma Ruth Rundle unveils Some Heavy Ocean, the music world explodes!

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Listening to any of the outfits that Emma Ruth Rundle is affiliated with (Red Sparowes, Marriages, The Nocturnes) is a religious experience so it should come as no surprise that if you choose to listen to her latest offering, Some Heavy Ocean, you’ll be a convert for life.

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Emma Ruth Rundle goes it alone this time and bares all for an album that’s equal parts brilliant, beautiful, and undeniably earnest. Some Heavy Ocean brings a different kind of “heavy” then what you might expect from Rundle but it’s no less potent. Stripped down but all encompassing nonetheless (This is definitely a “must listen with headphones” kind of album), SHO opens up with the slow crescendo of its title track featuring Rundle in backwards-speak mode and setting the tone immediately: expect the unexpected!

If you follow Marriages social media at all (Check em out here and here!), you might remember they premiered a version of next track “Shadows Of My Name” early in 2013. Here, you get the complete version and it’s a little more subdued than the Marriages version but no less amazing.

Throughout the album, Rundle continually astonishes showcasing a vocal range that is unparallelled when compared making her one of the best female vocalists, no, make that vocalists out there today. And that’s not even touching the exquisite song structure and lush arrangements that she brings to Some Heavy Ocean!

Moving forward, “Oh Sarah” really focuses on Rundle’s angelic side while “Haunted Houses” features a gorgeous string orchestration that brings a certain air making the song truly “haunted”. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Run Forever” which is easily one of the best tracks of 2014 off one of the best releases of the year.

Some Heavy Ocean is out now. Get a digital copy instantly through the almighty bandcamp or if you like to hold your music in your hands (I’ve already got my vinyl), then head over here.

 

Jokes! Episode 2: Hannibal Buress Live From Chicago

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“I’m Hannibal Buress, represented by Hannibal Buress”

That statement alone about sums up what you’re getting into when you turn on Buress’ latest, Live From Chicago. Penguin sandwiches, who’ll die first: Buress or Will Smith,  why he’s not currently Scarlett Johansson’s baby daddy, why pissing in your sink is the way to go, or scamming his way into a $75 Eddie Griffin show (See the above statement) are just some of the topics that will have you falling off your seat laughing on is latest.

And that’s just scratching the surface of Live From Chicago. Delving deeper into his special and you get his take on performing for the troops (“A lot of comedians go overseas and perform for the troops…and I don’t”, “The troops have Youtube? I have a bunch of shit on Yotube!”), opening for Tracy Morgan, and why Buress loves New Orleans (Drinking in the streets and throwing yourself a parade are some highlights).

I’ll admit, I’ve been hearing a lot about Hannibal Buress but hadn’t actually heard the man until Live from Chicago came across my desk. Pressing play on this was the best decision I’ve made as far as comedy choices are concerned and it’s the best decision you’ll make, too.

“Yeah, 630 (AM) on Monday…that’s Hannibal time right there.”

That might be the time that’s right for Hannibal Buress throwing himself a weekly parade in New Orleans (See my favorite,  “New Orleans Is Amazing”) but after listening to Live From Chicago it’s pretty apparent that anytime is Hannibal time.

Hannibal Buress, Live From Chicago, is available now over at Comedy Central Direct. The extended and uncensored DVD is available exclusively through Amazon.com and is available digitally though iTunes, Xbox Video,  Sony Entertainment Network, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, and Target.

 

 

The Afghan Whigs, Do To The Beast: Album Review

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It’s been 16 years since The Afghan Whigs last album. Frontman Greg Dulli has successfully navigated a post-Whigs career by fronting additional acts (The Twilight Singers, Gutter Twins) and through solo work. Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder and on the new Afghan Whigs album, the labor of love is heartfelt.

With reunions, I always wonder about missing pieces – especially when it comes to recorded material.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter at all because some musicians are simply hired hands as opposed to actual collaborators in the make-up of segments of a discography.  Steve Earle is no longer behind the drum kit and Rick McCollum (guitar) is also no longer a part of the current line-up.  Let’s face it, The Afghan Whigs has always been Greg Dulli steering the ship, but the music borne out of the collaborations under the Whigs moniker has always been distinct and have made a lasting impression on myself and anyone interested in musical acts with true legacies.

The album’s lead-off, ‘Parked Outside,’ begins with a chugging, gritty – if not simple – beat.  Dulli’s voice as good as ever.  The guitar solo’s just over-the-top yet classic enough.  Some signature hand claps along the top of the percussion signify this is a tightly wound affair.  More groove find it’s way on ‘Matamoros,’ as Dulli raps in r&b timing a kiss-off letter to a lover he’s wiped his hands of as a middle-eastern guitar snakes it’s way around to an even stronger middle eastern bridge.  The shortest track of the ten fades out in  a wall of guitar before seguing into the piano and strings driven ‘It Kills’ which juxtaposes themes as Dulli agonizes of losing (‘It kills to watch you love another…’).

On first listen of the single, ‘Algiers,’ one is taken aback by it’s decidedly pastoral bend.  With continued listens, the depth of the track and it’s placement on the album makes complete sense.  Once again Dulli’s vocals bring everything into focus around the music.  Another killer guitar solo (I know not which musician gets credit here between Jon Skibic, Marc McGuire or Dave Rosser) dots the track over the acoustic strumming.

While the first four tracks are a strong return to form (sprinkled with new tricks), the next six are largely a mediocre affair.  The trilogy of albums from 1993-1998 (Gentlemen, Black Love and 1965) traversed the alternative rock landscape and updated R&B, Soul and Funk within their rock and roll ethos.  The sonics employed on ‘Lost in the Woods,’ ‘The Lottery’ and the largely instrumental (if overtly U2-esque) ‘Can Rova,’ are stock, at best.  ‘Royal Cream,’ however, stands up to the best within the bands previous oeuvre, with John Curley’s bass driving the song’s structure.

‘Royal Cream,’ segues neatly into ‘I Am Fire,’ a quiet, moody soulful piece.   Album closer ‘These Sticks,’ is aided by the drama of the horn section and the building percussion and guitars.  Still, the album heads out into its final coda with a whimper and one wonders – will this reunion continue or is this it?  Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad to have Dulli back and creating music again with these cats.  I just hope the creative juices continue to flow and, for as much as other reports out there indicate that they are being progressive in their songwriting, I hope they’re not resting on laurels like a good portion of Do To The Beast seems to do for stretches at a time.   So while it’s a welcomed return – there remain question marks throughout…

 

 

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 3 (4.18.14)

PromoImage-4Oh my, the riffs! It’s as if Karma To Burn finally found the right vocalist, added some Hermano soul and a touch of Clutch’s Southern fried rawk. That’s Pet The Preacher. They rule all and you’d be a fool not to sit up and pay attention.

The Cave & The Sunlight , The Danes second album, begins with some ’70’s soaked out fuzz that lies in the form of “The Cave” but soon shows its’ true colors as “Let Your Dragon Fly” lets loose with some tight Hermano/Unida-style jams.

“Kamikaze Night” begins with a thunderous drum line that would effortlessly fit into a modern version of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac but infused with some bass stylings that put Karma To Burn to shame. “Remains” slows the pace a little but ups the ante in terms of songwriting and diversity but “Fire Baby” brings it back to show what kind of riff mongers Pet The Preacher truly is. “What Now” is another ditty that follows this pattern chugging along as a mostly instrumental monolith except for the chants of “What Now” littered throughout.

Pet The Preacher’s The Cave & the Sunlight is easily a must own if your musical stylings tend to spend their time in the desert primarily.

The Cave & The Sunlight is out through Napalm Records on April 25th. Get yours here and here.