Monday, December 11, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #145

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Psycho Killer, by The Talking Heads

This has always been one of my favorite songs by The Talking Heads. The subject matter is rather gruesome and frightful, but at the same time I can't help but get into the groove of it and like it anyway. Personally I think that is the mark of a true artist. When you can take such a horrific subject matter and get people cheerfully moving, grooving, and singing along to a song about it then you truly have a respectable level of talent.

2. Creep, by Radiohead

I've posted the Postmodern Jukebox version of this tune before, but I feel it's time to give the original its due credit. It is a truly remarkable song that I think many of us (myself DEFINITELY included) can relate to to some degree or another. The way it goes from soft to harsh and then back again is lovely. It gets the emotions it means to portray across flawlessly. I know I still shed a tear or two when I listen to this in the right mood.

3. Black Hole Sun, by Soundgarden

Losing Chris Cornell this year was definitely a heavy loss for not just alternative rock, but music in general. The man had an incredible level of talent and soul. This might be one of his most overplayed songs, but it has earned the right to be. Even if we have all heard it a million times, it still has the same profound impact with each listen. On a side note, I remember the first time I saw the video. I was legitimately freaking out thinking I was tripping balls even though I was completely sober.

4. (Don't Fear) The Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult

MORE COWBELL! This is the song that made the cowbell the well recognized and beloved instrument in modern pop culture that it is. Personally though I've always loved it more for the dark atmospheric vocals and lyrics. When I was a kid I would always feel completely drawn in and enveloped when the song would come on the radio. The whole rest of the world would fade away and I would just be focused on analyzing the lyrics and finding my own meanings in them.

5. The Boll Weevil, by Leadbelly

Leadbelly is one of those blues men from the delta blues movement that sadly seems to have been forgotten by a lot of people these days. The song he is playing here is an old folk song that has taken many forms since its inception in the 1800's, but his arrangement of it is the one that many other artists who have covered it over the years have referred to when performing it - myself included. It's surprisingly good for getting the audience energized when played right.

Writer's Moment:

This is going to be my last week of regular posts for 2017. Next week there will be another 5 Songs post, but then all of that week there will be a post every day until Friday highlighting what I feel are the 10 best albums of this year. After that I will be taking Saturday, December 23rd until Wednesday, January 3rd off in order to spend time with my friends and family during the holidays. Enjoy the last week of regular posting of 2017!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Aerosmith's Joe Perry Premieres New Solo Song With Cheap Trick's Robin Zander

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry is in the midst of putting out a brand new solo album - his first that isn't a holiday album in eight years. The album is titled Sweetzerland Manifesto and is due out January 19th. To give the fans a taste of what is coming, Perry has released a track named Aye, Aye, Aye - a track he collaborated on with Cheap Trick vocalist Robin Zander (which can be listened to here).

To me Aye, Aye, Aye doesn't sound like anything particularly ear grabbing, but it still sounds a lot more like the kind of rough n' tumble Aerosmith kind of rock n' roll we know and love than the band's last album Music From Another Dimension did. That said, it's a very energy filled performance. There is a lot of passion flowing and I will give Perry and Zander credit for that. I just wish that there would have been one of Perry's signature style riffs placed in there to give it more of a hook.

I am still very much interested in hearing what the full album will be like. Perry lined up a lot of great talent for it from what I've heard. Whether or not it all comes together in a way where it is the next great rock n' roll record however is yet to be seen. I will do my best to not expect too much from it, but it's difficult to not get a bit excited over it. We'll see how it turns out.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Throwback Thursday: "Stormbringer", by Deep Purple

In 1974 Deep Purple were in the midst of a renaissance. A couple of years prior their iconic Mark II line-up was no more when singer Ian Gillan quit the band and bassist Roger Glover was subsequently fired. Bringing in then unknown singer David Coverdale and up and coming bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes helped blast them back into the stratosphere with their 1974 album Burn. This new happy family situation didn't last particularly long though, because within a year a storm was on the horizon with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore not liking the direction the band was going and thus wanting to quit. All of this and more can be heard in Mark III's 1974 final album Stormbringer.

Where Burn featured only occasional elements of funk and soul, Stormbringer brought them to the forefront as the main musical focus. Where Deep Purple had once been mainly focused on hard neo-classical meets blues rock, now they sounded like a Motown band out of Detroit for most of the album. In all fairness though, the heavy rock n' roll sound wasn't entirely gone as it is very much still present in songs like Stormbringer, Lady Double Dealer, The Gypsy, etc. The most well known song from this album however is an acoustic ballad by the name of Soldier of Fortune.

Love Don't Mean a Thing is the most funky, soulful, Motown-esque song on the entire album. It has that clavinet and bass driven groove that many of us who know 70's dance music are very much familiar with. The vocal falsettos get incredibly high and the harmonies absolutely tasty. I wouldn't by any means consider this a Deep Purple song, but I would be lying if I said I didn't absolutely love the way this song grooves.

Stormbringer is one of the only songs aside from Soldier of Fortune that Blackmore brought to the table for the writing of the album. It is a driving, powerful hard rock tune that I would even say is borderline heavy metal. The riff sounds like a very proto-metal kind of idea. The lyrics are very fantasy themed, but that is no surprise considering that is the kind of thing Blackmore is into. The musical themes of the solo would later go on to be used in Blackmore's new band Rainbow's masterpiece Stargazer. They are very gypsy scale oriented and bring a certain level of mystique to both songs.

This is not Deep Purple's greatest album by any means, nor is it even Mark III's best album. That said, it isn't a bad record at all. It's still REALLY good despite the tension that was going on and how phoned in Blackmore was being at the time. These are some good funky jams mixed up with some classic Deep Purple hard rock themes. They blend together in such a way where it isn't too jarring to go from one track to the next. This is definitely still worth checking out.

Stormbringer, by Deep Purple receives 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Stormbringer
2. Love Don't Mean a Thing
3. Holy Man
4. Hold On
5. Lady Double Dealer
6. You Can't Do It Right (With the One You Love)
7. High Ball Shooter
8. The Gypsy
9. Soldier of Fortune

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Op-Ed Piece: No Good New Music Any More?

I've been wanting to cover this topic for a while, but I just haven't gotten around to it. Now seems as good of a time as any. Something I hear ALL the time from people from all walks of life is that there is no good music being made any more. All of the good artists are now a thing of the past and there is no one to step up to the plate to carry on the torch. Everything sucks and nothing makes sense any more. The future of music is doomed.

This is something I most frequently hear from fans of classic rock and metal, but not exclusively. Many people my own age who are into pop, rap, or whatever else feel that there has been nothing good since the 90's or early 2000's. This has brought up some points in my mind that I would like to go over.

Before I go on, I'd like to pose the following question:

Is there really no good new music any more or do you just not like anything that came out after you graduated high school because what is in the mainstream now isn't being marketed toward you any more?

Let's face it. The youth are the most loyal, avid, and profitable consumers of new media, be it music, film, TV, video games, the internet, or anything else. Why would the big fat cat record labels focus their time, effort, and money on an older demographic when the teens and people in their early 20's are the more profitable one? The whole point of the music industry is to make money. What demographic brings in the most cash? The younger folks.

What also helps the record labels is that young people will also do a lot of the advertising of an artist for free. They will plaster the music, imagery, websites, social media, etc. of an artist all over their own social media accounts. They will talk about them online, spread the word, and create further awareness of the brand. That is something not a whole lot of people in older demographics do.

It kind of sucks when you get to a point in your life when you realize you're not the target audience for the popular new stuff any more. That said, if you're one of the people feeling there is no good music any more you're not the first generation to feel like this. The generation before felt the same way about the music you liked as a kid and currently like. It made no sense to them and they felt that there wasn't any good new music any more. They felt like the world of music was going to Hell in a hand basket and that their generation of music was the last of the good stuff. They too went through the same thing where they stopped being the demographic being marketed to.

However, just because you are no longer part of the key demographic any more that doesn't mean your musical journey has to come to an end. Although what constitutes as good music is entirely subjective, if you don't like what is being pushed by the mainstream media there are other options for you. We live in an age where we have access to countless hours of music of all kinds with just the click of a mouse or more commonly these days the tap of a phone screen. If you're willing to dive down the rabbit hole and explore, you might just find something you absolutely love and never would have known about before had you not taken the journey.

There are SO many artists that don't get attention from the mainstream media that are still making rock n' roll, metal, other pre-existing genres, or even doing things that are entirely new and experimental. Just because you don't see them at first on the surface, it doesn't mean they aren't there.

In order to find them, you have a myriad options. You could go on Pandora where right away you can have a FREE online radio station catered to your tastes. You can put in a genre or artist you like and within 10 or 20 minutes there is a good chance you will have heard something amazing by someone you had never heard of before.

What I used to do as a teenager to find new music (and still some times do to this day) is deep dive through YouTube. I would look up a song by an artist I like. Then maybe I would see a link to another video with that band collaborating with another artist. I would then look into the collaborating artist and see what they have and then go from there. There are all kinds of ways I to go about this, but this method brought my attention to so many of the bands I know and love to today.

Spotify is also a good way to discover new stuff as well. This is also free unless you decide to go premium. You can put on some of their pre-made playlists for different genres and a song will come up by an artist you haven't heard yet. I can guarantee there will be songs you haven't heard before and that you might just find a new artist to look into.

These are just some of the ways in which you can discover music that is being made in this modern era right now. It's ok to have specific tastes in music. You are entitled to like what you like. However, don't be so quick to say that there is no good music being made any more when you haven't really taken the time to go out and look for it. Don't be the type of person who stops listening to anything new once they get out of high school. There are so many up and coming artists who are BEGGING for you to check them out and give them a chance. By doing so you might just find something that will change your life for the better.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Stone Temple Pilots to Tour in 2018 With New Singer

Photo courtesy of Michelle Shiers

Stone Temple Pilots have been pretty quiet for a while, as they have been without a singer for some time now and their original singer Scott Weiland passed back in 2015. Now however, it seems they are gearing up to make a big comeback by going on tour next year with a brand new singer.

The singer is Jeff Gutt, who has been the front man for Dry Cell and also appeared on two seasons of the American reality TV series The X Factor as a contestant. The band so far has planned to appear at the annual Rock on the Range festival this May in Columbus, OH and have also just announced the first dates of a US tour that they will be embarking on early next year. Dates can be found below.

I decided to do some digging around on YouTube for any videos of Gutt. I found one of him playing the STP classic Plush unplugged (which I will link below). He DEFINITELY has the right voice to do these old songs. The problem I have though is that his voice is TOO right for those songs. What I mean is that he sounds pretty close to if not almost exactly like his predecessor. He still has qualities to his voice that are still his own, but the similarities are haunting.

Stone Temple Pilots 2018 U.S. Tour Dates:

March 2 – Santa Clarita, CA @ The Canyon
March 4 – San Diego, CA @ Observatory
March 8 – Pasadena, CA @ The Rose
March 9 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
March 10 – Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee
March 12 – San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
March 13 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
March 15 – Portland, OR @ Roseland
March 16 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
March 17 – Billings, MT @ Pub Station Ballroom
April 28 – Jacksonville, FL @ Welcome to Rockville
April 29 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Fort Rock Festival
May 20 – Columbus, OH @ Rock on the Range

Sunday, December 3, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #144

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. I'll See the Light Tonight, by Yngwie Malmsteen

This is one of the very few Yngwie Malmsteen songs that I actually like. This is back when he could play not as sloppily and his ego hadn't yet inflated to the point that it's at today (though it was well on its way). Regardless, Yngwie's neo-classical playing combined with Jeff Scott Soto's insanely high and semi-operatic voice makes for a rising force to be reckoned with. Has a bit of a We Rock vibe to it, but I don't mind that so much.

2. Knights of Cydonia, by Muse

I always found the video for this song to be rather odd, but the song is pretty damn epic. It feels like it's futuristic spaghetti western combined with prog rock. The bridge is honestly my favorite part, the way it gets soft and just builds up in such a way that makes the hairs on your neck just stand rigidly at attention. The synth and guitar blend together into a cocktail that is just ever so delicious and quite frankly I can't believe a man can sing that high and not hurt himself.

3. Keelhauled, by Alestorm

If nautical nonsense be something ye wish, then you have come to the right place. Alestorm are one if not the absolute best pirate metal bands around. If you didn't know already these guys take both old pirate songs and turn them into some brutally heavy metal songs as well as writing plenty of their own songs. This one is one of my person favorite original songs of theirs. You can't help but sing along to the chorus, which in turn is kind of sad because it's a pretty cruel one.

4. Flick of the Switch, by AC/DC

In my opinion this is one of AC/DC's most under rated songs of all time. It doesn't have the polish and shine of albums like Back in Black or For Those About to Rock, but at heart it's the down and dirty, nitty-gritty rock n' roll that we know and love AC/DC for. The chorus is big, the riffs are monstrous, and everything is in your face. This really should have been considered an AC/DC classic, but I guess it got lost among the waves.

5. Whitesnake, by David Coverdale

Before the band Whitesnake existed, singer David Coverdale had a post-Deep Purple solo career going in the mid/late 70's. His first album and its title track were the name of what would become his musical baby. This tune in particular has a nice rocking groove to it. It swings and sways while very much being a loud and proud rock n' roll ruckus. Lots of good vocal harmonies are going on in this tune, but considering the amount of studio musicians Coverdale had at the time that's no surprise.

Writer's Moment:

As you very well know we are now in the month of December and the holidays are fast approaching. That said, as has been the case in years passed I will be taking the holidays off to enjoy time with my friends and family. The last post will be on December 22nd. The week leading up to that will as usual be my Top 10 Albums of 20XX posts. Once I make the final post I will be gone until January 3rd. That said, enjoy the holidays and the last of this year's posts!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Metallica's "No Life Til Leather" Demo Release Cancelled Due to Track Credit Problems

Before Metallica broke out with their big 1983 debut album Kill 'em All they had previously done a bunch of demo recordings of songs compiled on a demo released called No Life Til Leather that would end up on future albums. Many of these were written or at least co-written by then lead guitarist and now Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine. The band until recently had plans to re-release all of these songs until problems with track credits arose.

According to Mustaine, drummer Lars Ulrich wanted writing credits for songs that he had no part in writing and that Mustaine had wrote entirely himself. Mustaine explains this in a tweet, saying:

"James contacted me 2 years ago. We were going to officially release the No Life Till Leather demo as a record, w/27 tracks, pics, the whole enchilada, and the talks broke down because Lars wanted credit on two songs I wrote every note and word to. I have the texts. I passed."

Quite frankly I can't say I blame Mustaine for this. Metallica have been profiting off of his writing for decades without Mustaine even being in the band since just before the first album. Plus, Lars is known for being a rather greedy S.O.B. and it doesn't surprise me that he would want to snake his way in to take credit where he hadn't earned it. Say what you will about Mustaine, but if he wrote the entirety of the songs then he should be the only one to get credit for them.

I just think that it's a shame that now we won't be getting what would have been a pretty special release. Honestly, this would be the best Metallica release in a VERY long time. I've heard quite a few of the tracks via bootleg and they're really something else. Mustaine's playing on them is phenomenal and the band was on fire at that time. They were hungry and it showed. This re-release would have given us a window into that special time, but unfortunately Lars had to be his greedy self and ruin it for us.