Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Blurst Of Times. 2012's Best...

2012 was a year plagued with REALLY bad records, yet some truly stellar ones. New bands came to the party, while some older ones showed us all how it's done. It's almost poetic how good the Code Orange Kids debut LP is and hearing the proud J Bannon from Converge talking about how much he loves them. Meanwhile, Converge wrote a record that crushed nearly everyone else, including the young upstarts he's promoting and putting out on his own Deathwish label. A seminal band from my youth returned with a solid record, while others kept churning out others in long line of killer LP's.

No more bullshit. Here's my Best of 2012 list. Enjoy and support bands/labels. Without your money, they don't make records. Without those records, you will be forced to listen to radio rock and pop swill. And Pop Country. Think about it.

1. Deftones- Koi No- Yokan (Warner Bros.)
2. Converge- All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph/Deathwish)
3. Lamb Of God- Resolution (Epic)
4. Soundgarden- King Animal (Seven Four/Universal)
5. Pro-Pain- Straight To The Dome (Goomba Music)
6. OSI- Fire Make Thunder (Metal Blade)
7. Mark Lanegan- Blues Funeral (4AD)
8. Brad- United We Stand (Razor & Tie)
9. Witchcraft- Legend (Nuclear Blast)
10. Father John Misty- Fear Fun (Sub Pop)
11. Every Time I Die- Ex-Lives (Epitaph)
12. Crippled Black Phoenix- (Mankind) The Crafty Ape (Mascot)
13. Band Of Skulls- Sweet Sour (Vagrant)
14. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- The Heist (self-released)
15. High On Fire- De Vermis Mysteriis (E1)
16. Nonpoint- Nonpoint (E1)
17. Shearwater- Animal Joy (Sub Pop)
18. Katatonia- Dead End Kings (Peaceville)
19. Code Orange Kids- Love Is Love // Return To Dust (Deathwish)
20. Gaza- No Absolutes In Human Suffering (Black Market Activities)
21. Demon Hunter- True Defiance (Solid State)
22. Split Cranium- s/t (Hydra Head)
23. Rush- Clockwork Angels (Anthem/Roadrunner)
24. I Am Heresy- I Am Heresy (Magic Bullet)
25. The Unwinding Hours- Afterlives (Chemikal Underground)

Honorable Mentions to the following:

Early Graves- Red Horse (No Sleep)
The Sword- Apocryphon (Razor & Tie)
METZ- METZ (Sub Pop)
Baroness- Yellow & Green (Relapse)
Gojira- L'enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)
Melvins Lite- Freak Puke (Ipecac)
Meshuggah- Koloss (Nuclear Blast)

Best EP's:

Down- Down IV (Down Records)
Crosses- EP II (self-released)
The Melvins- The Bulls and The Bees EP (Scion AV)
Marriages- Kitsune (Sargent House)
Pelican- Ataraxia/Taraxis (Southern Lord)
The Company Band- Pros & Cons (Weathermaker Music)

Looking forward to these in 2013:

Cult Of Luna
Alice In Chains
Pearl Jam
Mark Lanegan
Steven Wilson
Killswitch Engage

...and finally seeing Tom Petty live. C'mon, you fucker!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Neil Old

I finally saw Neil Young live the other night. Was my first show at the historic and legendary Hollywood Bowl and my first time seeing Uncle Neil. I was twice as excited, since it was Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Big riffs, no whiny shit and the possibility they might play "Fuckin' Up".

Here's how it went down...

It was a mixed crowd. Eight to eighty. Maybe ninety. Old dudes. I mean OLD. Fringed jackets, white t-shirts tucked into the bluest Homer Simpson-style denims you've ever seen. Grey and silver as far as the eye could see.

Los Lobos opened and they killed it. Crisp sound, a ridiculous percussionist and some killer jams.

Then we waited for at least an hour...

Neil and Fossil Horse took the stage at what I can only assume is their usual bedtime, yet proceed to lay into some killer riffage and a monsterous 20 minute opener. A few new tracks (including the epic "Walk Like A Giant") and a few solo songs ("Needle and the Damage Done") and a killer rendition of "Cinnamon Girl" definitely kept the audience enthused. They did play "Fuckin' Up" and it ruled, but it was bittersweet. Seeing Neil's guitarist keep giving the audience the finger during each chorus seemed more akin to an old guy telling teenagers to get off his property, rather than what the song actually means. You know, fucking shit up. Every day.

The evening came to a close with Neil and Co playing a super-long rendition (he loves those lengthy tunes, that one) of the Buffalo Springfield classic, "Mr. Soul"...A song he said he played on that very stage over 40 years prior. Pretty intense.

All in all a great, expensive night (after the obligatory raglan purchase, highway robbery parking and ticket prices that only Rolling Stones fans can afford). I truly appreciate that well into his sixties, Neil Young is playing and sounding as young as ever, as he always sounded somewhat grizzled. His music is still challenging, yet accessible and he's certainly not turning into some bear/Tom Waits-ish creature, as Dylan is.

Neil is and always will be Neil.

Not the most exciting show, but one to cross off the bucket list for sure. Tom Petty, you're next!

"Fuckin' Up" @ the Hollywood Bowl: 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Adam Yauch

Today we lost a very important human being. Adam Yauch was not only a rapper, an entertainer, a musician. He was a poet, a brilliant lyricist, a criminally underrated MC and to me, one of the first examples (perhaps the first) of a musician that actually spoke articulately, carried weight with his words and never pandered to anyone.

The Beastie Boys, a group who started off as a shitty little punk band, turned into mouthy rappers, turned into accomplished performers, turned into humanitarians...But NEVER lost sight of what they were at their core: A band. A fucking brilliant band who knew EXACTLY how to have fun. Check Your Head is probably the finest example of true hip hop/rock crossover material. They never made bad records, but this one is especially noice (natch). A Desert Island Disc for sure. MCA had the dopest rhymes, the best lines, the gruffest tones. He was their Tom Waits. Their Bob Dylan.

 I really don't know what else to say. I'm beyond heartbroken over his passing. I hope his family and friends will find peace, now that his struggle is over. "I got more rhymes that I got grey hairs. So that's a lot because I got my share". Best. Line. Ever. Rest In Peace, Adam Yauch. A Legend.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Cat's In The Bag...

Ask any Mike Patton fanatic what the most consistently solid post-Faith No More project is and I'd assure you that over 90% of those folks will tell you it's Tomahawk.

That's because it is.

Three albums. All unfuckwithable. Well maybe Anonymous was "unique" in ways the first two weren't, but when a band writes songs like "101 North", "Point & Click", "Birdsong", etc...they can do pretty much whatever they want.

So, about six months ago, I had this crazy idea. I wanted to have the three Tomahawk records on vinyl. That first record was BUILT for turntables the world over. I have a working relationship with Ipecac Recordings, so I laid out a concept:

- Tomahawk box set for Record Store Day 2012
- All three albums on vinyl for the very first time
- House that shit in a box that leaves room for the fourth Tomahawk album, coming out in Summer/Fall 2012
- Keep it affordable, but limit it, so once they're gone, they're fucking gone

Patton and the lovely folks at Ipecac dug it. We made it. It's available Saturday.

To say I'm beyond proud of this project is quite the understatement. Faith No More is my favorite band and has been since 1989. I'm also a die hard Helmet fan, so getting to curate this project, involving musicians from bands that formed my musical palate and to this day, are STILL my favorite bands, is an actual dream come true.

Please go out and support your local indie record stores and buy a bunch of records on Saturday. Unload thy wallets.

Thank you to Mike, Shawn and Greg at Ipecac for having an open mind and taking my crazy idea and making it a reality. And to Mackie Osbourne (Buzzo's wife and Melvins album art guru), for making the box look proper.

"Birdsong" Live (2003). The fucking jam.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Ocean Make Friends With Russia

The Ocean is a beast of a band. A collective, if you will. The brainchild of guitarist and primary songwriter Robin Staps, The Ocean have been creating their thunderous, complex, yet memorable epics for over a decade now, and soon they will be unleashing a 3-DVD set on all of us. The discs will contain a complete documentary on the history of the band (which I hope includes info on their revolving door of singers and cavalcade of guest vocalists early on in their career), TWO complete live shows and what has surprisingly captivated the shit out of me...Their tour video blogs.

i know, it sounds very exciting to hear a band talk about random nonsense along their endless tour routes, but this one is very, very different. The Ocean released two monoliths of albums in 2011 and decided to go out and tour these things proper style...By heading to Russia and even out to the vastness of Siberia. The shows look like they were all incredible, with the band in top form, now with a finally stable lineup. Lots of partying with fans, making new fans, playing venues with stages too small for coffeehouse acoustic performances, let alone The Ocean.

Check these out and buy all of their records. All of them are brilliant.

NOTE: Trying to understand the concepts of their releases makes me feel 12% smarter. Could just be me, I suppose.

Tour Blog Part 1:
Tour Blog Part 2:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Least Worst of 2011

2011 was a tough year for good music. It was out there and there were some gems, but overall, not a golden year. However, I found some keepers and a few future-classics.

Cave In returned. Destroyed. Mastodon became ZZ Top on speed. Approved. Will Haven also returned. Decimated. Matt Good found a piano and went to town. Exciting, right?

It was the year of stellar EP's. Crosses (Chino Moreno & Shaun Lopez get sexy, Glassjaw drops two slabs of awesome, while Coliseum unleases a min-album that destroys literally everything. The special little guy here is a dude that goes by jakeL. Check out his Bandcamp page, yo. Also shocked by how good Childish Gambino's debut is. Donald Glover might just be the best thing about the whole damn year. Save Community!!!

Here's the list. Go forth and get learned.

TOP 25:
1. Cave In- White Silence (Hydra Head)
2. Mastodon- The Hunter (Warner Bros)
3. Will Haven- Voir Dire (Bieler Bros)
4. Times of Grace- The Hymn of a Broken Man (Roadrunner)
5. Matthew Good- Lights of Endangered Species (UMusic)
6. Blindside- With Shivering Hearts We Wait (INO)
7. Dub Trio- IV (ROIR)
8. Junius- Reports From The Threshold of Death (Prosthetic)
9. Foo Fighters- Wasting Light (RCA)
10. Childish Gambino- Camp (Glassnote)
11. Trivium- In Waves (Roadrunner)
12. Rob Crow- He Thinks He's People (Temporary Residence)
13. Rival Schools- Pedals (Photo Finish)
14. Fences- Fences (Onto)
15. Trap Them- Darker Handcraft (Prosthetic)
16. Santah- White Noise Bed (No Sleep)
17. 40 Watt Sun- The Inside Room (Metal Blade)
18. Earth Crisis- Neutralize The Threat (Century Media)
19. Ghost Brigade- Until Fear No Longer Definies Us (Seasons of Mist)
20. dredg- Chuckes & Mr. Squeezy (Superball)
21. City of Ships- Minor World (Translation Loss)
22. Long Distance Calling- Long Distance Calling (Superball)
23. Chimaira- The Age of Hell (E1)
24. Machine Heads- Unto The Locust (Roadrunner)
25. Russian Circles- Empros (Sargent House)

...and the rest:
My Morning Jacket- Circuital (ATO)
Ryan Adams- Ashes & Fire (Pax-Am)
The Dears- Degeneration Street (Dangerbird)
Most Precious Blood- Do Not Resuscitate (Bullet Tooth)
Thomas Giles- Pulse (Metal Blade)
Devildriver- Beast (Roadrunner)
Rotten Sound- Cursed (Relapse)
Cavalera Conspiracy- Blunt Force Trauma (Roadrunner)
Amon Amarth- Surtur Rising (Metal Blade)
Thursday- No Devolucion (Epitaph)
Jesu- Ascencion (Caldo Verde)
In Flames- Sounds of a Playground Fading (Century Media)
Unearth- Darkness In Light (Metal Blade)
Sepultura- Kairos (Nuclear Blast)
Thrice- Major/Minor (Vagrant)
The Fling- When The Madhouses Appear (Dangerbird)
Karma To Burn- V (Napalm)
MonstrO- MonstrO (Vagrant)
Primus- Green Naughyde (Prawn Song)
Dream Theater- A Dramatic Turn of Events (Roadrunner)
East of the Wall- The Apologist (Temporary Residence)
Animals As Leaders- Weightless (Prosthetic)
Young Legionnaire- Crisis Works (Wichita)

1. jakeL- Shelter EP (self-released)
2. Coliseum- Parasites (Temporary Residence)
Clouds- B Chuggas Are Logging (Hydra Head)
Glassjaw- Our Colour Green (self-released)
Glassjaw- Coloring Book EP (self-released)
Crosses- Crosses (self-released)

...and seeing Soundgarden absolutely demolish the Forum was a night I'll never forget.

2012, don't front. Bring it.

Gambino. Freaks and Geeks. Dope.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2011, No Thank You

Is it just me, or are the vast majority of 2011 rock/metal releases lacking in the quality and "staying power" department? Sure, we have gems from Mastodon, Cave In, Trap Them, Blindside, City of Ships (to name a few), but I'm just not finding the passion I once had for a ton of other bands.

Am I getting older? Yep. Am I old? Nope. Do I give a shit that there's a new Megadeth record out soon? Not a chance.

I've always known it's quality over quantity, even though I had a CD collection into the thousands, but this year, it's become glaringly obvious that:

a) I don't care about CD's anymore, other than my very favorite bands
b) New bands, for the most part, are shit
c) Old bands, for the most part, are old shit

For example, I actually think the new Dream Theater is a great listen. Apparently, 35,000 other DT fans thought enough of them to check it out as well, as it clocked in at an impressive #8 on the Top 200 in its release week. I think it's better than their last two lackluster releases, but still, not one note on that record got me excited for repeat listens. Not a one. Same goes for the snoozefest that is the recent Explosions In The Sky and the new Unearth. All solid releases...all headed into the obscurity bin of my brain. Just notes, no memories.

...and some records are just bad. Steven Wilson, you're better than this, dude. Queensryche. So very, very, bad.

The releases that truly separated themselves (Mastodon, Cave In, Foo Fighters, to name a few) are something special. Fantastic albums that I will spin for years to come. I just wish there was more of that to go around.

Currently spinning:
Mastodon- The Hunter
Cave In- White Silence
Bayonet- s/t EP
Thrice- Major/Minor
Wilco- The Whole Love

Spinning about to get underway:
Ryan Adams- Ashes & Fire
Will Haven- Voir Dire
Dreamers of the Ghetto- Enemy/Lover
Junius- Reports From The Threshold of Death
Rob Crow- He Thinks He's People

I'll be posting WAY more often. Seems like the thing to do.

Buy more records.

In the mean time, jam on this...

Will Haven "Held To Answer":