Thursday, July 20, 2017

Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore Open to One Final Deep Purple Show

Guitarist and cofounding member of Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore has not played a show with the band in 24 years. For the longest time they seemed to be at odds with one another, but over time things seem to have been smoothed over for the most part; so much so that Blackmore is now open to the idea of doing a one off final show with his old band for old times' sake.

In a recent interview with Rock N Roll Reporter, Blackmore opens up about his wish to jam with Purple one more time, saying:

“I think if they were interested and our dates didn't clash, I would perform a single show – for old times.

But I don’t believe that Deep Purple would be interested. They have their niche and wouldn't do it. We're friends and I have been doing my music for 20 years, while they have been doing it for 20 years. It's probably not likely to happen.

Their management wouldn’t like it – even if it was just for a single show. Their management wouldn’t allow it, I'm sure.”

This wouldn't be the first time Deep Purple's management had supposedly gotten in Blackmore's way. Blackmore wanted to attend the band's induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, but according to Blackmore their management had prevented him from doing so. That said, I'm not sure how I would feel about Blackmore being on stage with Deep Purple again. I mean, Ritchie doesn't exactly have that fire in him that made him play like a madman in a blazing whirlwind any more. He has definitely slowed down and softened his playing quite a bit. Then there is also the fact that Steve Morse has now been with the band for almost a quarter of a century at this point and has breathed life into the band that had quite frankly been gone since the late 80's. I would still eagerly watch such a performance, but I'm still not sure it's the best idea.

Writer's Moment:

After this post I am going to be having myself a little summer vacation. I have a lot going on today, Friday, and this whole weekend. That said, I'm going to take the rest of this week and all of next week off so I can just enjoy the Summer while it's still here without worrying about having to make a post. I will return on Sunday July 30th/early Monday July 31st.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Op-Ed Piece: Is There More to Being a Good Guitar Player Than Shredding?

When I first started playing guitar a decade ago, I wanted to be the next big guitar hero like many teens who pick up the axe. I had dreams of learning all the scales, chords, techniques, etc. and being on the same shred level as greats like Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Buckethead, etc. Over the years as I progressed in my learning and playing however, I came to realize that there is a lot more to guitar than just being the fastest and most technically inclined.

Let's back up a little bit, though. I grew up with a HEAVY leaning towards blues based rock n' roll from an early age. I was inundated with Motown, soul, 50's rock n' roll, etc. Stuff like James Brown, Elvis Presley, The Jackson Five, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, etc. As I started to get a bit older though I became starstruck by the likes of bands like AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, etc.

Those are the bands I started listening to ALL the time. The blues had essentially become ingrained in the very core and every fiber of my ever living being. When I finally picked up guitar at the age of 16 that was the kind of music I primarily leaned towards even though I had the desire to become some world renowned guitar virtuoso. All of the songs I was learning were based in the blues in some way or another, whether they were classic rock, punk, metal, or any other genre.

That said, that's not to say I didn't learn to play fast at all. After a few years I learned quite a few hot licks and patterns that I could execute at a respectable speed. Got me noticed by quite a few of my peers around the area. Some of it was positive, some not so much. That's a whole other story, though. That said, they were primarily in the style that I had come to love over the course of my entire life.

As I got older I got a bit bored of listening to the same bands over and over again. I decided to venture outside my box a little bit and discovered a handful of newer bands that were actually to my like, such as: The Black Keys, The White Stripes/Jack White, Rival Sons, etc. These bands over time also began to have a noticeable impact on my style of playing. It was still the blues, but just a different way of playing it.

What I began to notice though was one thing these bands had in common: simplicity. Some of the sounds they made might seem wild and out there, but the technique and playing itself was rather simplistic. It was a million miles a second like the guitar wizards I mentioned earlier, but it was still mind blowing. It wasn't because of how much technique they had down or how much speed they had, but because of the way they could take something so simple and make it sound so unchained and expressive; unlike anything I'd ever heard before.

These guitar players would make a straightforward riff or lick that might have been boring before come sparkling with new life in the kinds of layers of sound they added onto it either through amplifiers, pedals, modifications on the actual guitars, or some other method. It made me realize that there was a whole side to this instrument I'd spent the entirety of my adult life learning that I had never fathomed before. It was something I could latch onto as firmly as a clamp.

Getting back to the present, I've learned as a player that it is more about nuance, expression, and engaging your listeners rather than trying to learn every last musical technique and bit of theory that ever existed. As long as you have been honest in your playing, entertained your audience, and left them something worth remembering then you have done your job as a musician. You can learn all the technical stuff and become super robot fast if you want if that's really your thing, but it isn't necessary.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #126

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. Steady As She Goes, by The Raconteurs

This is the big song Jack White's late 2000's side band were best known for. Honestly it sounds a lot more pop punk than a lot of the other stuff I've heard out of them, so I'm kind of wondering what made them choose to go in this direction for the song. Then again, when The White Stripes put out Seven Nation Army that sounded drastically different from the vast majority of the other stuff in their catalog as well. Maybe they just wanted airplay?

2. Love Potion No. 9, by The Searchers

This is another one of the songs I first remember hearing on the radio a lot when I was a really little kid. My mom used to play nothing but the oldies station back then (this was the early 90's, so oldies was 50's and 60's stuff) and stuff like this came over the airwaves and into my ears pretty often. I always found the melody rather entrancing. In more recent years though, I've come to realize that the lyrics sound like they were written about doing drugs.

3. This is a Call, by The Foo Fighters

The first track of the first Foo Fighters album. This has always been one of my favorite songs that they ever did because it is full of balls to the wall guitar sound and charges you with energy that makes you want to get up and accomplish the big thing that you want to accomplish. Dave Grohl definitely wasn't messing around when it came to recording his debut album outside of Nirvana and it shows right from the get-go.

4. Minority, by Green Day

In my opinion this is the single most under rated song Green Day has ever put out. The melody is so catchy and memorable that it never lets you go. Ever since I first heard it years ago I've hummed it a lot to myself even though I forgot the name of the band and artist until only a couple years back. It's loud, has a big social justice message, and gets you moshing around until the last note fades from your speakers.

5. Dance the Night Away, by Van Halen

Van Halen in my opinion will always be the kings of pop rock. They have the crunchy catchy riffs, the vocal harmonies, the swagger, and honestly one of the single greatest guitar players to ever bless our ears with his chops. This tune is less on the hard rocking side, but it is still chocked full of energy, but knows where to lay off a bit and let you feel like there is something actually there to dance the night away to. A classic for a reason.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

White Stripes Release First Performance Recording for 20th Anniversary

Despite the fact that they have been broken up for six years now, The White Stripes (or rather Jack White) just celebrated their 20th anniversary by releasing a high quality recording of the very first performance they ever did via Third Man Records (White's personal label that he runs), which was at an open mic night at the now closed Gold Dollar Detroit in 1997.

The release is titled: The First Show: Live on Bastille Day. It features only three songs (which makes sense, seeing as they were playing an open mic slot rather than a full on show), two of which would make the cut on the band's 1999 debut album The White Stripes (full track list below).

Personally I feel this a really cool time capsule to be able to peer into. This is The White Stripes at the genesis of their existence. For one thing, it was interesting to hear St. James Infirmary Blues played on guitar rather than piano. This is by far nowhere near the best performance they ever put on, but you can hear the raw talent and potential in just the three songs they played. They might have been rough around the edges, but you can easily tell that with a bit of time, hard work, and determination they would become the dominating force in rock n' roll that they eventually became.

The First Show: Live on Bastille Day, by The White Stripes track list:

1. St. James Infirmary Blues
2. Jimmy the Exploder
3. Love Potion No. 9

You can listen to the full thing on Spotify here:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Van Halen II, by Van Halen

In 1978 the world of rock n' roll and heavy metal were forever changed when out of nowhere a band from Pasadena burst onto the scene with some of the most otherworldly guitar work anyone had ever heard. This little band was Van Halen. With the release of their debut Van Halen, the band that was quickly taking the world by storm needed a solid sophomore release and fast. The result came the following year when they released yet another solid classic: Van Halen II.

Van Halen II is pretty much just a continuation of their previous album's pop rock meets crunchy riffs and lightspeed melodic guitar solos from Eddie Van Halen. However, that is exactly what makes the album work. At the time it was still fresh and what the fans were wanting more of. To this day it still holds up with singles like Beautiful Girls, Dance the Night Away, You're No Good, and the flamenco instrumental masterpiece Spanish Fly.

Beautiful Girls has to be one of my all time favorite Van Halen tunes of all time. It has everything a good Van Halen song needs: the cocky swagger of vocalist David Lee Roth, the sexy guitar work of Eddie, the sunshine backing vocal harmonies of Michael Anthony, and the in your face drum styling of Alex Van Halen. It's a steady rolling tune that makes you feel like you're strutting down a beach in Cali on a sunny day with not a care in the world while enjoying the sights of all the gorgeous women lounging around.

Spanish Fly is in my opinion one of Eddie's most underrated compositions. If you were to make the classic Eruption into an acoustic piece, but with a flamenco edge you'd have Spanish Fly. The way he makes two hand tapping work on an unplugged instrument is unreal. To me, this is more impressive than Eruption for that reason. There is so much intricate finger work at play here that you won't really catch it all unless you really sit down and listen closely a few times.

Van Halen II in my opinion definitely deserves to be put in the pantheon of classic Van Halen albums. It has awesome track after awesome track and holds up just as well as any of the early albums that put them in the spotlight. There is a lot to enjoy here, whether you are a casual fan or a guitar player looking to learn from one of the great masters of the six string. It will help you rock out and put a smile right back on your face for certain.

Van Halen II, by Van Halen receives 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Track Listing:

1. You're No Good
2. Dance the Night Away
3. Somebody Get Me a Doctor
4. Bottoms Up!
5. Outta Love Again
6. Light Up the Sky
7. Spanish Fly
8. D.O.A.
9. Women in Love
10. Beautiful Girls

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Foo Fighters Premiere Sixth New Song: "Arrows"

At this point I really think Dave Grohl is going to play the upcoming Foo Fighters record Concrete and Gold in its entirety long before it even comes out on September 15th. This time they have premiered a song called Arrows.

The performance was filmed in Acropolis for a TV show called Landmarks Live in Concert, hosted by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. It also featured Grohl's daughter joining the band once again to perform the Queen hit We Will Rock You.

Arrows definitely has a 90's vibe to it. I mean, I know that the Foo Fighters got started mid-90's, but their sound has evolved a great deal since those early days. I kind of feel like this is a bit of a throwback in some ways to the grungy sounds of the mid-90's in terms of guitar and vocal melody. It fits in quite well with the rest of the band's set.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie: "Life Outside of Music Had No Meaning"

Before re-entering the fold of Fleetwood Mac after a 16 year absence, keyboardist Christine McVie says the years spent alone in retirement sent her into a dark place until she sought the aid of a psychiatric professional.

McVie had left the band in 1998 before making a full time return in 2014 after a handful of guest appearances. Drummer Mick Fleetwood incidentally suggested a meeting to her right before she went to go visit him herself. In a recent interview with Jam, McVie discusses the whole situation, saying:

“I think in my mind I was playing the role of the retired rich lady in the country, baking cookies, raising my two dogs and driving my Range Rover. That kind of world ended up being inconsequential in the end – just nothing. It didn’t have any meaning at all, which slowly led to a bit of a dark place for me. I became very isolated.

I went to a great psychiatrist who got rid of my fear of flying, and made me buy a ticket to Maui to visit Mick. But I didn’t even have to do that because Mick phoned me. This is where serendipity comes in. “He said, ‘I’m coming to England, Chris – are you going to be there?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am. Where else would I be?’ And he says, ‘Wait for me, and we can both fly back together.’ So that’s what happened. I ended up playing in his little blues band in Maui and I got the bug.”

I know a lot of people often think that rock stars come back from retirement because they have run out of or just want more money. In McVie's case however, I really feel that her need to perform and write with Fleetwood Mac again was a genuine personal need. I am glad that she finally got back with and recompleted such an iconic band. It's a shame they're retiring as a group soon, but I'm sure she will still keep busy.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #125

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. Grinnin' in Your Face, by Son House

This tune is a Capella, but it has more soul and passion to it than most songs with instruments these days. In this song the legendary blues man who taught Robert Johnson sings of how one must be careful whom they trust, not worry about how they live, and how few true friends there are out there because no matter what you do people are going to smile to your face but stab you in the back when you aren't looking. You can hear the experience and honesty dripping from his voice, for sure.

2. Howlin' for You, by The Black Keys

This song often gets played and the melody chanted and stomped along to at sporting events. I guess I can kind of understand that given that it does have a pretty big, beefy, memorable riff. Even though I'm not a big sports ball fan, I can still get on board with blasting it at top volume as well because all that aside, it rocks. It's definitely one of the best songs that The Black Keys have come up with since they went the more highly produced commercial rock route.

3. Break-in City (Storm the Gate), by Tenacious D

Even though Tenacious D is not meant to be taken seriously by any stretch of the imagination, I still can't help but rock out whenever this tune comes on. It has such an 80's non-hair metal vibe to it that I head bang right along. The guitar work is tasty as hell and it showcases the fact that Jack Black does actually have some legitimate vocal talent even though he uses it for comedic purposes. Definitely one of the D's best songs if you ask me.

4. Ted the Mechanic, by Deep Purple

Even though there is only a handful of songs post-Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple that I'm a big fan of, this one is definitely among them. It shows off that even though the band had just gone through a huge transition and were getting older they could still shake a groove. Steve Morse proves that he is more than capable of handling axe duties and filling the shoes of his predecessor and then some. If you're looking for something with a funky edge to it, look no further.

5. I Love Rock and Roll, by Joan Jett

Who doesn't know and love this song? You can't put on a classic rock station for more than 20 or 30 minutes without hearing it at least once. This is one of those songs that you can tell was meant to fill up and excite a huge arena of people. It just has that gargantuan presence to it. You can feel the unbridled wild passion of Jett pounding away at her guitar and singing her lady balls off into the mic. It is definitely a rock anthem for a reason.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Beastie Boys "Sabotage" Video Gets Big Bird Treatment

As many of you are all aware, the internet is full of great number of silly things. What I have in store for you all today is certainly no exception. A fan of the Beastie Boys who goes by the alias Mylo the Cat has created a tribute to their music video for the classic hit Sabotage by giving it a shot for shot remake featuring beloved Sesame Street character Big Bird.

The footage is taken from the 1985 film Follow That Bird in order to redo the Spike Jonze directed classic. Big Bird is being looked for by a social worker as well as all the rest of his Sesame Street pals after having been kidnapped and taken all over the country. It seems there was all of the right footage from the film to piece together a remake of the Sabotage video.

Quite frankly, I think it's awesome. I've never been that huge into the Beastie Boys myself, save a few songs but I think it's really something else when someone can get this creative and make something that is not only amusing, but actually in some ways impressive. Mylo has also done muppet mash-ups of Beastie Boys’ So What’cha Want along with Warren G.’s Regulate and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony‘s Tha Crossroads.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Attack & Release, by The Black Keys

By the year 2008 The Black Keys had put out four moderately successful albums, all of which they had made by themselves in their basement with no professional outside help at all. Now that the band was picking up traction and starting to evolve in their sound a bit however, they got picked up by V2 Records and were brought into an actual studio for the first time with famed producer Danger Mouse at the helm to write and record the album Attack & Release. This would be the start of a musical partnership that has taken The Black Keys through all their best known albums up to today.

Attack & Release showed what The Black Keys could do when given a studio and a budget to make their music. Where the music no longer had a raw, bluesy, punchy feel, it now had a more refined produced sound. While the band had always had a bit of a psychedelic tinge to some of their previous music, this is the album where they started to delve further into it. It helps that now the music had more than just guitar, vocals, and drums. Now there was bass and keys (played by Danger Mouse) among other guest musicians on certain instruments. Some of the best known tunes from this album are ones like I Got Mine and Strange Times.

I Got Mine is sort of a middle of the road transitionary piece in my opinion. You can still hear that punchy bluesy overtone that made the Black Keys famous to begin with, but you can also tell that this time there was some more studio craftsmanship going on. The guitar sounds a lot more crisp and defined and there is bass to add a bottom layer. It has a solid groove to it like the old stuff, though you can also hear Dan Auerbach starting to transition from his old deep soulful vocal style to the more falsetto pop rock style that most folks associate with him.

Psychotic Girl has to be one of my favorite newer Black Keys songs. It's primarily played on banjo and bass with drum backing, but doesn't sound jangly and country-esque. It has more of a foreboding psychedelic vibe to it, which I think suits the lyrical content about a crazy girlfriend trying to do you harm. You wouldn't think such a thing could be done with a banjo, but it works out beautifully. One of my favorite aspects of the song though are the subtle touches of piano sprinkled throughout certain parts of the song to make it sound more mysterious.

Overall this is nowhere near my favorite Black Keys album and it does mark the end of my favorite era of the band, but that by no means makes it any less of a solid album. You're not going to get the raw, untamed straight-up blues sound here but what you will get is some more refined psychedelic rock in the style of Pink Floyd meets The Beatles meets maybe one or two others. It's good for if you want some music that will open your mind a bit and make you jump down an aural rabbit hole.

Attack & Release, by The Black Keys receives 3.2 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. All You Ever Wanted
2. I Got Mine
3. Strange Times
4. Psychotic Girl
5. Lies
6. Remember When (Side A)
7. Remember When (Side B)
8. Same Old Thing
9. So He Won't Break
10. Oceans and Streams
11. Things Ain't Like They Used to Be

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Foo Fighters Premiere New Song "Dirty Water" Live in Paris

Dave Grohl lead band Foo Fighters don't seem to be shy about showing off the material on their upcoming album Concrete and Gold (which will be out on September 15th). At a recent concert in Paris, they premiered another new track from the album, Dirty Water (the fifth song they have premiered from the album so far).

Dirty Water has a pretty solid Foo Fighters vibe to it. It's an ear pleasing blend of speaker punching riffs, melody, rawness, and has one hell of a build-up. It's kind of hard to describe it as any one particular thing because it sounds as rough and loud as any hard rock song of today would, but at the same time you can hear melody coming through in a very pronounced way.

I kind of get the idea of what Grohl was saying recently when he said he wanted to make this record sound like it was Motorhead doing their own version of The Beatles classic Sergent Pepper album. I really do hear that in this song. I'm definitely stoked to hear what the whole rest of the album will be like if it's anything like what we've heard here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ace Frehley Reveals Further Details of Gene Simmons Collab

It was recently made public that former Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley had his former band mate founding bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons collaborate with him on two songs for his upcoming solo record. This is the first time they have written together since 1998's Kiss release Psycho Circus. Simmons made the announcement, but now Frehley has weighed in with further details.

In a recent interview with Eddie Trunk, Frehley describes how it all went down, saying:

“I just shot him an e-mail and said, ‘C’mon, let’s write some songs together for my new record. Next thing you know, he’s down here [at my house in Rancho Santa Fe, California] and within three hours we had written two songs together, which was, like, a record, for me and him. We ate in the backyard while I was watering my palm trees. [Laughs] He was going to [my fiancĂ©e] Rachel, ‘This is something new I’ve never seen before.’ He’s eating a sandwich and I’m watering a palm tree in my backyard. But it was a lot of fun.

Once the dining and gardening was done, we just started jamming. We initially each picked up an acoustic guitar. I don’t remember who came up with the beginning of the song. One guy plays one thing and then I play another thing. I think Gene actually came up with more ideas than I did and I just kind of complemented them. And then I started writing lyrics for a song title, which I don’t wanna give away yet. And then we kind of took a break and then he started playing this bass line and said, ‘Ace, play these three chords against it,’ and within thirty minutes we had a second song. I was really pleased, and so was he.”

To me it sounds like Simmons and Frehley definitely had some fun working together again for the first time in almost two decades. I doubt there will be an official Kiss reunion any time in the foreseeable future (you saw how it went the last time they tried that), but at least the two of them seem to have mended their friendship enough to at least jam together and hang out. I'm stoked to hear what the two of them came up with.

Monday, July 3, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #124

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. Snow (Hey Oh), by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Can't go wrong with some funky jams from the Chili Peppers. This song got overplayed a LOT in 2006 and 2007, but I can live with it because it's still great to begin with. I remember hearing it on the local alternative station ALL the time during that summer while working in a cooler. Kind of fitting, right? That said, now that it's had a decade to cool off some it's ok to listen to again. I would for certain consider it a modern/mid-2000's classic.

2. Roll Over DJ, by Jet

I always thought that this was one of Jet's best tunes, but I never hear anyone talk about it or hear it on the radio at all. It's a shame because it has some great riffs that will hook their way right into your brain and not let go. Plus, I like the message it has about EDM DJ's not being real musicians and not having anything to actually say with their music because they really don't. They just steal from other artists so they can push a play button and still get chicks. Maybe that is just me being judgmental, but that's how I feel.

3. Ogre Battle, by Queen

This is hands down the absolute greatest song Queen ever made. "But Josh, what about Bohemian Rhapsody?" Overplayed and nothing compared to the melodic loud heavy metal awesomeness of this song. This is back when Queen was a band that actually had some serious balls to their music. Their popular stuff is great too, but these guys could go toe to toe with even the best of modern metal bands. The harmonies, riffs, melodies, rhythms, etc. come together to make something AMAZING.

4. Whole Lotta Rosie, by AC/DC

Queen isn't the only band who can rock a song about fat bottom girls making the rocking world go 'round. This tune will ALWAYS get a joint going no matter how dead it is. It's hard, crunchy, and fast. It's also the highlight of any AC/DC show because they bring out a HUMONGOUS blow up doll of the character Rosie from this song. It's a great tune to fist pump and shout "Angus!" along with for certain and will get your blood pumping.

5. Moby Dick, by Led Zeppelin

Need more drums in your life? Have the best drum solo ever put to tape. Jon Bonham is considered to be the greatest drummer to ever live by countless musicians and fans spanning multiple continents and generations. Even though this is only five minutes, it changed the way people approach the drum kit for years to come. Everyone from that point forward aspired to be the next Jon Bonham and to be able to do things the way he did.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Op Ed Piece: Is Selling Out Really a Bad Thing?

To many people, one of the worst things a musical artist can ever do is sell out. This is usually where an artist will do something with their music just for the money, like for instance be used in a commercial or be put on mainstream radio. Lately however, I've been wondering if stuff like that is really all that bad.

In an age where it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to make it big as a musician, is it really such a bad thing for an artist to take an opportunity to get their name and music out to the masses? For one thing, it costs money to make music. There is just no way around it. Instruments, gear, studio time, promotion, etc. isn't free. Any of that that is is probably not going to be all that great and won't help you all that much in the long run. You can't keep the lights on and doing what you love on artistic integrity.

That being said, why is it considered artistic integrity when you pass up an opportunity to profit off of your passion and get your name more recognition? Is it somehow cooler and more honest to stay in a crappy basement and barely get by, only playing the pitiful local stuff in your area? The way I see it, you're only shooting yourself in the foot by doing that. You're stunting your growth as an artist and preventing yourself from having more opportunities in other areas of life as well. In that sense, keeping yourself in a box like that is the opposite of artistic integrity because you're just doing the same thing over and over again and not evolving.

I'm in an up and coming band myself as many of you may know. I have absolutely no qualms with anything that might come our way that would make us money and/or give us the opportunity to get our name further out there because we want to have a larger audience and we do want to get to a point where we're making a living out of this. I would LOVE if some fat cat corporate person came knocking on our door with a huge check and an offer to put one of our songs in their advertising campaign (as long as it wasn't for anything illegal/immoral). We would be able to gain exposure and have a bit more cushion in our living situations and collective artistry. We could grow as artists due to the opportunities afforded to us by such a thing.

The only point where I would consider selling out a bad thing is when you change your music in such a way that you're only making that way in order to make more money and have a wider commercial appeal. It's one thing to change your sound because that is the organic direction you're going in. It's another if you're just doing it to put more zeroes on the left side of the decimal point in your bank account. At that point you have lost sight of what being a musician is all about in the first place.

All in all, as long as the music you make comes from the heart and is honest in every fiber of its being then as far as I'm concerned you should sell out BIG TIME. Take every good opportunity you can get if its offered. It's tough out there these days and if you can catch a break then don't let some hipster tell you you're wrong or bad for accepting it. Make all the money and get all the exposure you can. There is nothing wrong with it.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Get Born, by Jet

In 2003 rock music was barely hanging on by a thread in the mainstream. You had bands like The White Stripes, The Black Keys, and maybe a couple of others but that was it. Enter Jet, a straight up no frills attached hard rocking garage rock band from Melbourne, Australia. When they hit the mainstream rock scene with their debut album Get Born, they shot straight up the charts with multiple hit singles and made it cool to rock again.

Get Born sounds like a raucous blend of everything we have all loved over the years about bands like AC/DC, Iggy and the Stooges, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, etc. It has that 60's garage rock vibe blended with the heavy punch of 70's hard rock and the driving raw nature of punk. Some of their best known songs came from this album, such as: Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Roll Over DJ, Cold Hard Bitch, etc. Needless to say, this album cemented Jet as a household name in the world of rock n' roll from that point forward.

Cold Hard Bitch is one of my all time favorite rock n' roll tunes. To me it kind of embodies what rock n' roll is all about in terms of its gritty in the gutter lifestyle vibe that is somehow pleasing to the ear. That driving chorus gets me singing along and punching into the air every time. Hell, I even have it as my ringtone for my exes. It's got some great crunchy riffs with only enough polish to make it sound good through a speaker. The rest is just loud, ear thrashing, fun loving rock n' roll.

I guess I can't review this particular album without mentioning Are You Gonna Be My Girl. This is the album's main single and what got the band noticed and so huge to begin with. It's been played and overplayed so many times over the years, but for good reason. The way it just builds up with one instrument after another and breaks into a rock n' roll dance party is something you don't hear a lot of any more. From there on out it just pushes the pedal to the metal and makes you want to just shout "F*** YEAH!" the whole time. It's a definite classic.

Get Born is a MUST have for rock n' rollers of any age, whether you're an older folk looking to have some faith in a newer generation of musicians or a kid looking for some great musical inspiration to help shape your tastes. It's got something for everybody who has ever been in love with the kind of raw, honest, down to the bone rock n' roll that doesn't get all high produced and pretentious. I can't recommend it enough.

Get Born, By Jet receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Last Chance
2. Are You Gonna Be My Girl
3. Rollover DJ
4. Look What You've Done
5. Get What You Need
6. Move On
7. Radio Song
8. Get Me Outta Here
9. Cold Hard Bitch
10. Come Around Again
11. Take It or Leave It
12. Lazy Gun
13. Timothy

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Gene Simmons Collabs With Ace Frehley on Frehley's Newest Album

Over the past couple of years or so former Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley has been getting back in touch with his former band mates. Not necessarily to get back in the band, but to at least smooth things over. Recently this has culminated in Frehley getting Kiss bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons to collaborate with him on a couple of new songs for his upcoming album.

In a recent interview with 92 KQRS Simmons spilled the beans on the collaboration between the two old friends, saying:

“Literally two days ago I was with Ace. He asked me to write for his next solo record. So I went over to his place, way out in the desert some place, and we wrote two things.”

This will be Frehley's first release of new original material since 2014's Space Invader. This is also the second collaboration Frehley has done with former band mates as last year for his covers album Origins Vol. 1 he worked with Kiss rhythm guitarist and vocalist Paul Stanley on a cover of Free's Fire and Water.

Personally I'm glad that Frehley is on good enough terms with his old band mates to at least be friends and occasionally work together again, even if it isn't under the Kiss banner. Maybe it's better that way. They still get to be friends and work together but they don't have to deal with the drama of being in a full time multi-million dollar band. Plus, Frehley's stuff sounds a lot more like Kiss than Kiss's last album did anyway.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Unreleased David Bowie and Queen Collaborations May See Light of Day

In 1981 one of the single greatest collaborations between musicians to ever come into existence occurred: Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure. To this day it is still considered a classic and sends chills up the spines of countless listeners. However, it has recently come to light that this was not the only song that they wrote during this time and said material may now see the light of day.

In a recent interview with Mojo, May discusses the sessions and how they didn't stop with the one song, saying:

“It wasn’t easy. He described us (Queen) as all precocious boys and could be forceful. Those are the things that happen in a studio, that’s when the sparks fly and that’s why it turned out so great. “[They locked horns] in subtle ways, like who would arrive last at the studio. So it was sort of wonderful and terrible. But in my mind, I remember the wonderful now, more than the terrible. Not all of what we did in those sessions has ever come to light, so there’s a thought … ”

I for one would be absolutely ecstatic to hear more of the collaboration between Bowie and Queen. I can only imagine how passionate and creative such music must be if it's even a fraction as good as Under Pressure. What I'm wondering however is why they didn't put it all out or why they haven't done so yet considering how many times they have rereleased the entire catalog and released greatest hits album after greatest hits album. Regardless, they will definitely get my money if they put those songs out.

Monday, June 26, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #123

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. It's a Man's World, by Rival Sons

Rival Sons absolutely kill it with their version of the James Brown classic. They definitely put some more rock n' roll balls into it. If anything, I think I actually prefer this version even though I'm quite the fan of Brown. It feels like it has a lot more passion and soul in it. You can feel the angst just dripping from Jay Buchanan's vocals and the absolute power of the whole rest of the band. It takes the song and blasts it into outer space.

2. Rock the Nation, by Montrose

This tune sadly doesn't get played much if at all, which in my opinion is a shame. It's not the crowning achievement of Montrose's debut album, but despite that it is a pretty solid rock n' roller and will get you amped up for sure. You can hear just how great Ronnie Montrose's guitar work really was when he was still with us. Sammy Hagar also gives it that much more of a shine. Can't really go wrong there, can you?

3. Hypnotize, by The White Stripes

This song is the definition of hidden gem. It's only a minute and a half long, but you'll want to rock out the entire time it's going. It is pure punk rock from start to finish. It's loud, fast, and thundering. It's like even though this was around the time the band was getting big and more diverse and creative in their sound, they still didn't forget their roots as musicians. You won't hear this one getting mentioned or played a lot, but in my opinion it is still a jaw dropper and will have you hitting repeat over and over.

4. Nothing But a Good Time, by Poison

Every now and again I still need my trashy cheesy 80's hair metal fix. I loved Poison when I was in high school and I'd play this song among many other Poison classics day in and day out. It's not something I would consider a work of art, but it's fun. Nothing but a good time, you might say. In all honesty, that's all it needs to be. I can't really say I fault them for that despite the fact they were just using this kind of music to get chicks and money.

5. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, by Cage the Elephant

Who says I don't listen to anything more recent? I dig the slide guitar in this tune for sure. Not a whole lot of bands seem to really make slide guitar rock any more. No, I'm not counting country bands because that isn't rock n' roll. Anyway, this is another one of those modern classics that you have to crank at top volume while driving down the highway. It has that solid groove to it that will just get you moving and swaying the entire time.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Foo Fighters Announce New LP: "Concrete and Gold"

It's been almost three years since Dave Grohl's passion project the Foo Fighters put out their most recent release: Sonic Highways. Now however, they are about to make a big return by putting out what they consider to be their heaviest, yet most harmonic record yet on September 15th titled: Concrete and Gold.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 1's Annie Mac, Grohl opens up about the album in terms of what it sounds like, how he feels about it, and how there are some twists with it, saying:

“We’ve made the biggest sounding Foo Fighter record we’ve ever made. I’m not just saying that. I said to Greg, ‘I want to make a record that sounds like Motorhead doing Sgt. Pepper,’ and he was like, ‘OK.’

So we recorded an 11-song record with him and honestly, I think it’s going to take a lot of people by surprise. Every band says it’s the best record they’ve ever made, but it’s definitely the hugest thing we’ve ever done.

For six months, I’ve been trying to keep this a secret and I can’t wait for people to hear it because this is the first record I’ve ever been this proud to play for people.

We have bunch of guests we haven’t told anybody about. Some will really surprise you. There’s one who is probably the biggest pop star in the world – and I’m not kidding. They sing back up on one of the heaviest songs on the record and we’re not telling anyone who it is.”

This sounds like a rather intriguing record to say the least. While I have the bad feeling that it is probably going to sound like every other Foo Fighters record of the past decade or more, maybe I'll be pleasantly proved wrong. I really hope I am because this sounds like a pretty cool idea if it comes out the right way. As for what pop star is on the record, I'm rather curious about that as well. I honestly can't say for sure who it could be.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Montrose, by Montrose

Ever wonder where super star rock singer Sammy Hagar got his big start? As years go by it becomes less and less common knowledge, but in 1973 Hagar was hit up by then famous guitarist Ronnie Montrose seeing if he wanted to start a band after the two of them had been introduced to one another by a mutual friend. The two seemed to hit it off and quickly came out with what many consider to be one of the best hard rock records of the early/mid-70's: Montrose.

Montrose is blues tinged hard rock through and through from the first track to the end. It really doesn't give you much time to breathe. No slow tunes/ballads or anything. Even to this day that is a fairly uncommon practice for most rock n' roll and even heavy metal bands. That said, the whole album is all killer and no filler and is meant to be played at the highest volume you can get out of your stereo. It's big, crunchy, thundering, and yet at the same time melodic. Everything a good hard rock record should be.

Bad Motor Scooter is one of the most well known songs Montrose ever put out. Even if you didn't know it was them playing it, there is a good chance you have heard it at least once if you listen to classic rock with any sort of frequency. I just love how all throughout the song Ronnie makes his guitar sounds like it's a motor scooter revving and zipping up and down the country roads while at the same time knowing where to make things stay musical. It's an upbeat, loud, and will definitely get your blood pumping.

Rock Candy is another one of the more well known tunes Montrose put out in their short run with Hagar on the mic. It has this gigantic, thunderous, room filling vibe to it. You could definitely picture it blasting out through an arena with its steady rhythm and riff and soaring gritty vocals. In some ways it's reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, but at the same time it is still doing its own thing as a song. Montrose's guitar work is top notch here. You can hear all kinds of bluesy intricacies being noodled throughout it. The solo of course is up to Montrose's high standards.

Montrose is one of those albums over the years that I have been able to listen to every single tune on it from start to finish on repeat and not get tired of despite the fact it is all hard all the time. I'm sure you'll find multiple songs on it that you will like yourself. It's a must-have for anyone who is a big fan of Sammy Hagar or even classic rock in general. If you didn't know about this band and album, you have for sure been missing out.

Montrose, by Montrose receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Rock the Nation
2. Bad Motor Scooter
3. Space Station #5
4. I Don't Want It
5. Good Rockin' Tonight
6. Rock Candy
7. One Thing on My Mind
8. Make It Last

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dave Grohl's Daughter Makes Live Debut with Foo Fighters

One of the coolest things ever in my opinion is when a big shot rock star will bring their kid(s) on stage to jam with their world renowned band at a huge show. Good Guy Dave Grohl has done just that by bringing out his eight year old daughter Harper during a Foo Fighters show in Iceland for a performance of the Queen classic We Will Rock You (which can be viewed in the video above).

Grohl introduces his daughter to the crowd, saying:

“About two weeks ago my daughter said, ‘Dad, I want to play the drums.’ I said, ‘OK, you want me to teach you?’ She said, ‘Yes.’

“And I said, ‘Do you want to get up in front of 20,000 people in Iceland and play?’ She said, ‘Yes.’"

Personally I think that is one of the coolest things Grohl has done yet. I knew he was a good guy to begin with, but he seems to be an even better dad. Harper seems to have inherited some of his talent as well. Maybe when she gets older she will join the band full time or have a band of her own? Who knows? Regardless, it will be intriguing to see what this kid does in the future.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fan Makes Epic Mash-Up of Iron Maiden and Michael Jackson

Metalheads and pop fans are usually sworn enemies, but every now and again fans of both genres will make them shake hands. Such a thing has happened with this unlikely, yet amazing mash-up of Michael Jackson's Beat It and Iron Maiden's The Trooper (which can be listened to in the video above).

Normally people would never associate the king of pop with one of the greatest metal bands to ever grace this plane of existence, but a YouTuber by the name of Nightmare Lyra realized that it was possible to make the two songs work together. They took the instrumental parts of The Trooper and bits and pieces of the instrumentation and the full vocal track to Beat It and mixed them into something that is a fun listen for sure.

I never would have guessed that these two songs could blend so well together, but I was pleasantly surprised. I know some people will call this blasphemy, but it's a cool experiment that yielded some fun results. I think it would have been cooler to include bits of the vocal track from The Trooper, but it still turned out well enough. It's worth listening to at least once just for kicks.

Monday, June 19, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #122

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. Baby It's You, by Haley Reinhart

I first found out about Haley Reinhart through Postmodern Jukebox, a YouTube channel that turns contemporary mainstream songs into jazz tunes. I didn't realize she did stuff on her own till today when I found out that she had a new music video of her own out. Needless to say, my jaw hit the floor. It's still a fairly jazzy tune, but it has a lot of rock n' roll vibe to it as well. I hope she manages to take off. She has one hell of a good voice.

2. Too Far Gone, by Buckingham-McVie

This is the one song on what is essentially the new Fleetwood Mac album that actually rocks. Not saying that the other songs are bad (which they aren't by any means), but this tune like ROCKS. It has a serious bluesy ballsy guitar riff from Lindsey Buckingham and it gets you PUMPED. You can tell that the rhythm section is having a ball with it and feels right at home due to the fact that it's not too different from what they did in the end days with Peter Green.

3. Dutchman, by Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry put out one hell of a swan song with his final album. It's a shame he couldn't see it be released and enjoyed by his fans all throughout the world, though. This tune in particular is one hell of a bluesy swagger and rather than sing, he speaks throughout it; telling a story set to music. I knew Chuck had his roots in the blues, but hearing this song and having it brought to the forefront like this just kind of blew me away. Maybe it will do the same for you.

4. King of a One Horse Town, by Dan Auerbach

This is one of those songs that took a bit of time to grow on me. When the album came out a couple weeks ago I'd heard this song as a single maybe once, but with repeated and closer listenings I've come to appreciate it a great deal more. The more I listened to the lyrics, the more I was able to vibe with it on a personal level. To be honest, this is one of my favorite kinds of songs for that specific reason. I like something that grows on me with further investigation.

5. Matrimonial Intentions, by Jack White

Jack White recently participated in a PBS special called The American Epic, where contemporary artists record on one of the first kinds of record making machines ever created. In order to keep with the vintage vibe, White and his band recorded an old traditional tune in a genuinely ragtime style. It works out incredibly well. You can't even tell that this was made in 2017. You could easily mistake this for something out of the early 1900's.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Album Review: "Chuck", by Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry as many of you know is one of the greatest rock n' roll legends there is. In the 1950's he was one of the pioneers of the genre. Some might even argue that he was the true king rather than Elvis Presley. That said, countless folks across the world were stoked beyond imagination when they found out Berry was releasing his first album of new material since 1979. Sadly however, Chuck was to become more of a memorial rather than the big celebration it was originally intended to be due to Berry's death at the age of 90 earlier this year.

Chuck was recorded over the course of 23 years between 1991-2014. The album wasn't announced however until 2016, well after everything was recorded and done with. It was produced by Berry himself and put out on Dualtone and Decca Records. The nice part about this album is that much of his backing band was comprised of his children as well as members of his live backing band from over the years he was still touring.

Chuck is a return to form in many ways for Berry. You can hear many of those classic 50's style guitar riffs (very similar to his iconic hit Johnny B. Goode) and then some tunes with a bit more of a Latin rhythm to them. At least two or three songs on the album go into that familiar territory, but that is perfectly fine. When you put on a Chuck Berry album you expect to hear something like that. Having such tunes makes it a more complete experience.

What was a rather pleasant surprise to me however was how many tunes weren't really straight up rock n' roll, but rather straightforward slow moving blues shuffles. You can hear a lot of Berry's early blues influences in there and it makes you hear the man for what he really was and what moved him as a musician. These are tunes I found myself getting caught up and lost in the groove of, making the short amount of time they carried on feel longer (but in a good way).

One of the things that also pleasantly surprised me about Chuck is how good Berry's vocals sounded. They were surprisingly pristine and in some moments somewhat close to how he sounded in his 50's heyday. You could hear the age in his voice a lot of the time, but it didn't sound anywhere near as rundown as you would think it would be for a man his age. I really do have to give him props for being able to keep such a good sound for so long.

Normally I don't care for sequel songs, but I particularly enjoyed the way Lady B. Goode was written and how well it tied in with the story of its predecessor. It had the same upbeat rock n' roll boogie that Johnny had, which makes sense in a motif/storytelling sense. I liked the way it weaved in and out narrative-wise and also managed to be its own thing outside. You can tell Berry put some serious thought into how the song would be written.

That said, only half the album really felt like rock n' roll. The rest was mostly blues. I don't necessarily have a problem with that, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little taken aback and surprised. I kind of expected to hear songs that sounded similar to the hits all the way through. Instead I got something that was quite creative and soulful. I never took Berry for the creative exploratory type, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out he was.

For a final album, this is one hell of a great way for Chuck Berry to go out. I don't know if I'd call it a masterpiece, but it has several tunes on it that are worth going back to again and again for various reasons; whether it's just to rock out, get lost in a groove, or listen to a story being told through song. You can tell Berry picked up a few new tricks as a guitarist and song writer over the decades. I was actually rather blown away. I thought it would just be the same old Chuck Berry-type tunes, but with modern production. A bit of it was that, but much of it wasn't. That said, Chuck is a must have album for sure.

"Chuck", by Chuck Berry receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Wonderful Woman
2. Big Boys
3. You Go to My Head
4. 3/4 Time (Enchiladas)
5. Darlin'
6. Lady B. Goode
7. She Still Loves You
8. Jamaica Moon
9. Dutchman
10. Eyes of a Man

Buy the album on Amazon:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday: For Those About to Rock, by AC/DC

In 1981 AC/DC had just finished up the tour for its biggest commercial success, Back in Black. Only a year prior the band had been on the brink of collapse due to the death of front man Bon Scott. However, they decided to press on and hire Brian Johnson to fill the vacant slot. Not only did the band manage to survive, but they absolutely THRIVED. Now it was time to bring on a follow-up album to keep the big success train rolling and clacking at high speed down the tracks. The result: For Those About to Rock.

For Those About to Rock has pretty much the sound you would expect a Johnson lead AC/DC album to have. It's loud, pounding, riffy, shredding, screaming, and filled to the brim with sexual innuendos and references. It's nothing more and nothing less. One of the major pluses of this album is it contains the greatly heralded classic which they use to end all their concerts: the title track For Those About to Rock (We Salute You). One of the downsides however is that this is the only track from the album that is still remembered by the general public today.

Night of the Long Knives is one of my personal favorites from For Those About to Rock. While not the most memorable track, I've always loved how big and catchy the chorus is despite the fact that all it is is the band singing "Night of the long knives..." over and over again. It was one of my favorites to play along to when I was first learning drums. There is some bit of depth to the lyrics though, if you listen closely enough. However, no one really listens to an AC/DC song for that. That said, it's still big, punching, and raw like a good AC/DC song should be.

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) is one of AC/DC's most iconic songs, and for good reason. It builds up slowly, but when it finally breaks it's like a gigantic 21 gun salute to rock n' roll through your speakers. You can just picture the band playing this in some absurd sized arena packed to the rafters throughout the tune. They give you moments to breathe here and there, but not long. They're cut short by blasts of sound that will shake you to the bone in all the most thrilling ways. By the time the song ends you are more pumped up than you could have ever possibly fathomed.

Overall, For Those About to Rock is definitely far from AC/DC's greatest album. Aside from the title track there are a few decent ones sprinkled throughout, but it definitely feels like a bit of a let-down after the tremendous balls to the wall all killer, no filler album we got from its predecessor. That said, it isn't a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. It just wouldn't be one worth remembering if it didn't have one hell of a killer title track.

For Those About to Rock, by AC/DC receives 2 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
2. Put the Finger in You
3. Let's Get It Up
4. Inject the Venom
5. Snowballed
6. Evil Walks
7. C.O.D.
8. Breaking the Rules
9. Night of the Long Knives
10. Spellbound

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Album Review: "Buckingham-McVie", by Buckingham-McVie

Ever since long time Fleetwood Mac keyboardist Christine McVie rejoined the band back in 2014, many fans of the band have been thrilled and have been hounding on whether or not there was to be a new album. However, many hopes were dashed when vocalist Stevie Nicks said that she had no desire to do such a thing due to the fact that putting all that time, effort, money, and soul into something would be a waste considering no one would buy it. However, that was not going to stop the rest of the band from being creative. The result: a collaboration album between Christine McVie and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham titled Buckingham-McVie.

What makes Buckingham-McVie even more special is that it features Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood as the rhythm section. Essentially, this album was made by Fleetwood Mac sans-Nick (which in my opinion is an improvement). It was written and recorded over the past three years at Studio D at the Village Recorder, where Fleetwood Mac had written and recorded their acclaimed 1979 album Tusk in order to recapture some of the band's old musical chemistry.

Buckingham-McVie is like going into uncharted territory, but with an old friend at your side. It's still the kind of light soft pop rock you would come to expect from Fleetwood Mac, but turning a corner you didn't anticipate. You can definitely tell that they wanted to recapture some of the old Fleetwood Mac sound, but take it into some new directions in order to keep from getting stale and making the same albums over and over again as so many older artists are prone to do.

Moments where some of the older Fleetwood Mac sound shows through is in tunes like In My World, especially in the rhythm section. That McVie/Fleetwood rhythm machine is unmistakable no matter what the context. Red Sun sounds like a classic Christine McVie lead song. It is rather simplistic love-lorn pop ballad, but that's all it needs to be. For the most part it sounds like it could have easily been from their 70's/80's heyday. What really knocks it out of the part is the vocal harmonies in the chorus. They're incredibly rich and filling.

You can definitely tell this is a newer album though not just in the crisp, clear audio production, but just in some of the musical styles of the songs. Most of the album for the most part sounds fresh, although you can swear you have heard some of these songs before on your local light rock radio stations.

That is not to say that there is nothing original and new about them, but I swear I've heard countless tunes like Sleeping Around the Corner and Feel About You over the years with the kinds of basic tambourine and drum rhythm and vocal melodies and harmonies. I cut them some slack though because Fleetwood Mac invented pop rock as we know it today.

What I appreciate about Buckingham-McVie is all of its minor subtleties in terms of production. This is most certainly a headphone album because if you're listening close enough you can catch so many little details you might have easily missed otherwise. The stereo aspects of the production also make it that much richer of an experience. Lindsey Buckingham of course is one of the best producers of all time, so that definitely helped the album in this case.

Overall I wouldn't call Buckingham-McVie groundbreaking or a modern classic, but it is a very solid album. It shows that Fleetwood Mac still has a lot of chemistry and many things left to say as musicians. Nicks was definitely mistaken to pass up on this, but I think her absence made it that much stronger of an album. You can tell everyone was just trying to have fun and not trying to live up to a legacy or stroke their egos. It just goes to show you this band can still make good music without all the Rumours-era kind of drama going on. That said, you're sure to find some tunes on it that you like and find yourself singing along to often.

Buckingham-McVie, by Buckingham-McVie receives 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Sleeping Around the Corner
2. Feel About You
3. In My World
4. Red Sun
5. Love is Here to Say
6. Too Far Gone
7. Lay Down for Free
8. Game of Pretend
9. On With the Show
10. Carnival Begin

Buy the album on Amazon:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Album Review "Waiting on a Song", by Dan Auerbach

It has been over three years since The Black Keys put out their most recent album Turn Blue. After the massive tour they did to promote it, the band decided it was time to take a break for a while. Since then guitarist and front man Dan Auerbach has been spending a lot of time in Nashville writing and recording day after day with a multitude of legendary local talent (though Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler played on the single Shine on Me); the end result being his second studio album Waiting on a Song (his first solo album in eight years).

Waiting on a Song was written and recorded over several months at Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, which is the record label owned and run by The Black Keys. Auerbach and his friends wrote and recorded at least 200 songs and then picked and chose from the best of them in order to make the album. The album of course was produced by Auerbach himself, since naturally he knew what he wanted most from each song being put on the album.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard Auerbach was recording a solo album. I knew he had done one before a while back, but I hadn't heard anything from it. That said, it made it all the more exciting because the lack of expectations meant that whatever I did end up getting was going to be fresh and not be compared to anything else. That said, I was still a bit surprised by what Auerbach put out. Waiting on a Song definitely isn't a rock n' roll album by any stretch of the imagination, though it doesn't really fit into any category for that matter.

Honestly, it has a bit more of a country meets psychedelic meets pop meets southern rock meets so many other things vibe to it. It's just its own thing. It isn't a loud or raucous album, really. It seems more focused on melody and lyrics than anything else. Actually, it's kind of nice to see Auerbach take such a creative departure from what he usually does with The Black Keys. You can really tell he is exploring and having a great time doing it.

You would think that something that is so eclectic wouldn't really be so cohesive, but it is. Waiting on a Song has this overall presence to it that no matter what track you're on it still feels like you're right in the same yard. Everything flows from one tune to the next seamlessly no matter how different they may be. I have to give Auerbach props for that. It takes a lot of creativity and a steady hand to be able to pull something like that off.

These are such simple songs at their core, but the way all the musicians came together to put layer upon layer upon layer on them is what makes them a feast for the ears. At the same time, the big band playing all these songs doesn't get so grand that it takes away from the rawness and pure emotion driven feel of them. Auerbach and his band managed to strike a rather delicate balance, which is in my opinion something special.

The songs on Waiting on a Song feel like they have been around a lot longer than they really have, and it's not just because of the retro feel some of them have. They have this ageless and timeless quality to them that makes them feel like they have been a part of your life forever but have only just now shown up on your turntable/CD player/playlist/whatever. You feel like you're at home, just drinking a beer on your deck looking up at the stars on a warm summer night from the moment you put the record on.

If you're a fan of the loud rocking Black Keys sound, this might not be the album for you. It's not something to play if you want to shake the rafters and blow out your speakers. If you go in with no expectations though, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I find myself playing Waiting on a Song over and over and over since it came out, finding some new detail that I didn't notice before that I can appreciate now. If nothing else though, there are at least a few catchy tracks that you'll have a hard time getting out of your head.

Waiting on a Song, by Dan Auerbach receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Waiting on a Song
2. Malibu Man
3. Livin' in Sin
4. Shine on Me
5. King of a One Horse Town
6. Never in My Wildest Dreams
7. Cherrybomb
8. Stand By My Girl
9. Undertow
10. Show Me

Buy the album on Amazon:

Monday, June 12, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #121

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. Houses of the Holy, by The Temperance Movement

This is without a doubt the best Led Zeppelin cover I've heard in a while. It's faithful to the original while still doing its own thing here and there. It definitely packs a lot more punch than the original in terms of production, so this is a tune that NEEDS to be CRANKED through your speakers at top volume no matter where you are and no matter what time of day it is. Your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. will understand. If not, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

2. Livin' in Sin, by Dan Auerbach

Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach a little over a week ago put out his second solo album. The singles were what drew me in, but this song definitely made me stick around through the whole album. It has sort of a early/mid-60's Beatles/Monkees kind of pop rock vibe to it. The lyrics might be a little different from what you would have heard back then, but overall it still has the same spirit to it and will get you putting it on repeat for days.

3. Smoking in the Boys Room, by Motley Crue

In my opinion, aside from Home Sweet Home this was really one of the only good and notable songs on the Crue's 1985 release Theatre of Pain. To be fair though, this was during the worst of their drug habits. Still, despite that they managed to take what was already a cool song to begin with and amp the coolness factor up times 10. It cranks and has that metal crunch, but at the same time it still has that bluesy rock n' roll atmosphere and vibe to it.

4. Shadow of Your Love, by Guns N' Roses

Sadly this song was never put on a Guns N' Roses album. It was written and recorded during the time they were working on their debut EP Live Like a $%&$ Suicide. It was left out of the final cut, unfortunately. I've always thought that it was one of the most fun and driving songs they ever came up with during their early days. It could have easily made it onto Suicide or Appetite For Destruction. Thanks to the internet though, stuff like this is spread around a lot these days and we can all listen to it anyway.

5. Satisfaction, by The Rolling Stones

This is one of the first songs any rock n' roll guitar player should ever learn to play. It's just a few chords and that fuzzy iconic guitar riff. Incidentally, that riff was played acoustically but recorded through a kind of tape recorder that made it sound all fuzzy and distorted. I always thought that that was really neat. That was in a way my introduction as a young lad to the magic of studio production and the kinds of neat tricks people use to get interesting sounds.