Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Gutter Twins - 3/19/08


I was lucky enough to see my second great concert in just as many nights on Wednesday when The Gutter Twins played at Webster Hall in New York City. The Gutter Twins, Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli, were joined by a lead guitarist, bassist, drummer, guitarist/keyboardist, and Dulli playing guitar as well. Their live show is very true to the feeling and mood of their debut album, Saturnalia. Dark, drifting melodies, with tight, sharp rhythms set the back drop for the two soulful singers gritty harmonies.

Their voices are every bit as good as on the record, with Dulli's maybe even being a bit better live. Hard to imagine, but these two men delivered a show that was powerful and hypnotic. Opening with "The Stations," they played through the first three songs of Saturnalia in album order, creating a very cohesive sounding start to their set. Lanegan's gravel whiskey throat voice was in perfect form. I personally could not believe how great he sounded, but was concerned for him, as he did not move from the stance he began the show in the entire time. After watching numerous videos of him performing throughout his career on YouTube today, I realized that's just how he performs. Singing as penetrating and intimately as he does, I can't blame him. What he lacks in stage presence and in-between song banter, Dulli happily adds into the mix. Pumping the crowd up with his movements as well as his words, the combination is like something sent down from the heavens.

While they harmonize together on much of the album, they did even more so live. Making sure to still leave passages of each singing solo that complement and exaggerate the difference in the texture of their voices, they also joined forces together more often. Beautiful harmonies that mix the low baritone of Lanegan with the higher soulful wail of Dulli were front and center in each song, as these two masters of rock have aged like a fine wine. The uproarious rocker "Idle Hands," served as the heaviest point of the set, with the band driving that mesmerizing riff deep into the club. While I'll be the first to admit that the strange breathing/humming sounds could easily be removed from the song, as they are live, this one is capable of tearing down the walls of any venue. "Circle the Fringes," was great live with the multiple guitar attacks, and a heavy bass melody. Dulli sings with the utmost beauty while smoking cigarettes between songs. If smoking has done anything good in this world, its crafting these two men's voices. After a life long abuse of drugs, these two men are clean and making some of the most passionate music of their careers.

"Seven Stories Underground," was another highlight of the show for me as Lanegan showed his strength for the soulfulness as this song conjured up a swampy blues feeling. The backing band sounded great during the entire show, improving on the sound of the album with heavier drum grooves and wailing guitar licks. "I Was in Love With You," a track that is sung almost entirely by Dulli on the album was reversed, as Lanegan took lead vocals during the show, while Dulli sat down to add some keyboards. "Bete Noire," one of my favorite tracks on their album, was equally impressive live. This song was another great example of their two distinct voices coming together in one beautiful harmony. "Each to Each," sounded great with it's trip-hop beat being played on live drums. They ended the set the same as the album, with "Front Street." Starting with the two harmonizing over the single semi-acoustic sounding guitar line, until they really let this song take off into a wall of sound. Dulli's vocals soared over everything, with one of the strongest live vocal deliveries I've seen in my constant concert attendance.

Not only did they play just about every song from their album, they also played previous collaborations written during Dulli's Twilight Singers albums, which Lanegan was featured on regularly. They performed the beautiful and haunting "Live With Me," as well as a stunning rendition of "Number Nine." Dulli also took main vocal duties on his tortured soulful rendition of "Amazing Grace." While I would think this to be an odd choice by most grunge era musicians, there is something about the way that these two men and their spirituality meshes that just makes it work on a grand level. The smooth silkiness of Dulli's voice cuts through the low growls of Lanegan creating the most incredible harmonizing I've heard two rock vocalists produce.

When it came time for the encore, Dulli gave a funny speech about how encores were not set in stone, and you had to work for it. Then he went on to ask if Mozart played encores, and quickly added, "not that I'm comparing us to Mozart." When the band did take the stage again, they played several other Twilight Singers songs as well as Mark Lanegan solo tracks like "Hit the City," "Methamphetamine Blues," and "The River Rise." As a long time fan of his solo work, I was real glad to hear these live, as I've never been able to catch a Lanegan solo show! An all around amazing concert, and I can't wait till I have the chance to see them again!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fu Manchu & Burning Brides - 3/18/08


Last night I went to see Fu Manchu and Burning Brides live at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City. This was my second time seeing Fu Manchu, so I knew I was in for a great show. My expectations were exceeded by both bands performances, and the near sold-out crowd was certainly sharing the feeling.

Burning Brides are a three piece band out of Philly, originally comprised of singer/guitarist Dimitri Coats, bassist Melanie Campbell, and drummer Mike Ambs. They released two albums from 2000 to 2004, and both were critically acclaimed. Music magazines were hailing them as the next big garage band. The Brides developed a large, dedicated, and growing fan base due to their constant touring schedule and great live show. Their label, V2, did very little to promote or market the band, and Mike decided to quit. Around that time, Dimitri and Melanie got married, and joined with Pete Beeman as their new drummer. They left V2 Records, and used their own money they had made from touring to finance and release their next effort, 2007's Hang Love. While this move didn't help them to gain any exposure, the album is their best yet, and one of the best CDs of 2007. The Brides developed their sound into a mixture of modern alternative music with Sabbath inspired undertones, and a great sense for hooks. The songs come across as being dark and aggressive, while catchy and accessible at the same time. The band shed their garage sound vibe to become a band that could have easily fit in with the grunge scene of the 90's, without sounding like a rip off. The artists of that time respect and admire Coats, as he has played on albums from both Chris Cornell and Mark Lanegan.

Hang Love is truly an infectious album that is growing on me more with every listen. In preparation for the concert, I listened to the album yesterday while at work, and when it was finished, I started it over immediately without hesitation. They create a rare blend in this era, of heavy guitars that combine with pop-sensibilities without sounding manufactured. With no record label giving any sort of input on their sound, they are making music for themselves, the way they want it to sound. Their efforts paid off, as this album delivers beyond what most can. The first time I listened to them was when Maynard, of Tool, recommended that you support acts such as them, Isis, and Autolux because they don't have the kind of money and support a band like Tool does. I couldn't agree with him more, as Burning Brides deserve to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of this album. Support great music, go pick up this CD!

On to the show! Burning Brides set was made up of mostly songs from Hang Love, which I was glad to hear, and several new songs that they are currently working on for their new album which should be available in a few months. The new songs sounded incredible, almost reminding me of Cave In's best work. The band played with... (gasp!) smiles on their faces. Unheard of in heavy rock, the band actually looked happy to be presenting their music to the fans, and looked as though they really enjoy their band. I personally thought this was great, as I want to know they will continue on making new records and touring for a long time. I know I'll be sure to catch them next time they tour, hopefully headlining, as their set was only about 45 minutes and I would have loved to see them continue playing. They played with great energy and enthusiasm, and it was easy to see why their live show has attracted so many new fans.

Following them was the almighty stage show of Southern California's veteran stoner rockers, Fu Manchu. Formed way back in 1990 by Scott Hill and Brad Davis, they are considered pioneers of the So-Cal desert rock scene that spawned bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and more of their extended family of musicians. With 10 albums and 18 years under their belt, Fu Manchu has come just about as close as possible to perfecting their live shows. Their music, a mix of the thickest fuzz guitar effects known to man, surf rock, punk attitude, and the skater aesthetic is simple and soaring. Songs that deal with space, muscle cars, beards, and whatever else the surfer/stoner culture holds dear have long been staples of their live show, and nothing has changed. Fu Manchu rock out their catalog playing mainly fan favorites that sound like they were made to be played live. With heavy hitting rhythms and some of the most crushing guitar licks possible, Fu Manchu bring the sunny, stoned, swirling atmosphere of the Southern California culture to wherever it is they may be. During the encore, they were playing so loudly and had rocked the crowd so thoroughly that Hill's amp started sparking and crackling as if it were on the verge of exploding. Their live show is one that you must see to believe, and if you can make any of the remaining dates on this tour, I suggest you do so!

P.S. - I took this picture of Fu Manchu's Scott Hill from my camera phone!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Now's the Time, The Time is Now...


I want to acknowledge the fact that Silverchair's debut album, "Frogstomp" is a true grunge classic. Was it revolutionary? No. Was it groundbreaking and inspiring? Not really. Does it come across as raw visceral energy with towering riffs that take no prisoners? You better believe it! The album was released in 1995 by Sony Records, and was recorded when each member of this Australian three-piece were only fifteen years old. Fifteen! They were mere high school kids, whose music didn't change the industry by any means, but certainly left a blistering mark in the grunge archives. People compare them to being clones of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Bush, but when you get down to it and actually listen to their album, they don't really sound like clones, but more a combination of their influences. Certainly the guitars have their Pearl Jam influence, as can be seen on their smash hit breakout single, "Tomorrow." Daniel John's voice however soars with a raw angst that is very genuine. Even the band looks down upon this album, as they no longer will perform any of its tracks live. In an interview, Daniel Johns spoke on the album as being from a high school garage band. Well Mr. Johns, it just so happens that high school garage band went on to sell over four million copies of their album worldwide, and firmly placed Silverchair on the map. The entire album was recorded in less than two weeks time, after the band had won an independent radio contest in Australia. "Tomorrow" achieved massive radio airplay in America, Australia, as well as Europe. The track served as the most played Modern Rock track of 1995 on U.S. radio. An excellent track, with great guitar textures, and an awesome video to accompany it.

While Johns' wails of anguish and teenage angst can sound like a mix of Eddie Veddar and Gavin Rossdale's voices, is that really a bad thing? It is hard to believe that a fifteen year old kid can sing like that at all. His voice doesn't sound like any high school kid I've ever met! His lyrical subject matter is diverse for a grunge act, ranging from genocide awareness, child abuse, and family issues, to the more typical songs about animosity, alienation, and suicide.

The music rages and chugs like a train speeding into a tunnel, while Johns' vocals soar high above the heavy sludge. Stand-out tracks include: "Israel's Son," "Tomorrow," "Pure Massacre," and "Shade." A solid and consistent release from start to finish, it is truly remarkable how young they were yet still possessing such musical talent. While they may not have been the strong songwriters they have become these days, that should not take away from the moody intensity and sheer rock fury they have created. The band develops sonic sculptures crafted from the overdrive and distortion of their sound, to come together as a comprehensive simplistic raw unnerving masterpiece.

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Today marks the release of my BRAND NEW mix, Dan Goldin presents...Good Rock Music vol. 17! With my recent discovery of the unreleased Toadies album, as well as the release of The Gutter Twins album, a new mix was much needed. Most of the selections on this edition come from albums and artists I have been writing about on this blog. While taking the time to write in depth track by track analysis, I have been discovering great new appreciations for many of the songs.

NOTES:

Christian Langdon made his songs available to download on myspace and I am pleased to have my own copy of "Rock n Roll." That really is a great, simple song.

The Whigs are a far more indie band than I typically listen to, but I just can't stop listening to this song of theirs. I saw them perform it live on Conan O'Brien one night, and I've been hooked since. Their new album is a thorough mix of all things 90s.

The Gutter Twins music is hypnotic and mesmerizing. You would be hard pressed to find two singers whose voices complement each other greater than the pairing of Dulli and Lanegan.

Glacial are an underground band from Salt Lake City, Utah of all places. I first discovered them on CDbaby.com when they were recommended for fans of Failure, Shiner, and Pelican. The thought of these three bands sounds all being mixed together intrigued me, and I ordered the CD. When it arrived, it was every bit as good as I imagined it would be. Their style of mixing wide heavy atmospheric guitar riffs with the space rock melodies, progressive drums, and great vocals blows me away. Imagine the sheer thunderous musicianship of Isis, with the vocals and melodies of a Ken Andrews project. A full review of their album will be coming in the near future.

I gave White Zombie my first real listen of their music since I was probably in elementary school, and I definitely enjoyed it. The same Rob Zombie singing as always, but the band chugs and churns behind him with a heavy b-movie groove. Doom filled sludge that somehow gives way to monster funk and psychedelic blasts.

I realized that until the very last mix I made there were never any Stone Temple Pilots songs on any of the previous fifteen volumes. I have no excuses for this other than a lot of their songs are almost "too classic," and seem redundant to include. Never-the-less though, they have countless great songs that have a timeless quality to them. In light of their reunion this summer, I thought I'd include one of these.

Last month I was lucky to have a friend recommend the band Barkmarket to me. They were the brainchild of super producer Dave Sardy, Rick Rubin's right-hand man, and released albums from 1987 to 1996. Their music is certainly not accessible to the mainstream and can be difficult to describe. The sound is about as gentle as sand paper, with roaring guitar arrangements that almost seem randomly placed throughout the songs. Heavy distortion and carnage run rampant in their music, while all somehow seem highly calculated at the same time. Picture a combination of "Downward Spiral" era Nine Inch Nails mixed with the dense heaviness and crunch of Helmet. A full post about their album "Gimmick" is coming very soon!

dan goldin presents...GOOD ROCK MUSIC VOL. 17 (compiled and released on 3/14/08)

1. The Octave Museum - Red Headed Butterflies (S/T)
2. Tripping Daisy - Motivational (I Am An Elastic Firecracker)
3. Christian Langdon - Rock N Roll (www.myspace.com/christianjameslangdon)
4. Toadies - Waterfall (Feeler)
5. Local H - California Songs (Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?)
6. The Whigs - Right Hand on My Heart (Mission Control)
7. The Gutter Twins - Bete Noire (Saturnalia)
8. Glacial - Complicated (S/T)
9. White Zombie - Thunderkiss '65 (La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1)
10. Stone Temple Pilots - Big Bang Baby (Tiny Music Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop)
11. Toadies - Unattractive (Cable Guy soundtrack)
12. Tripping Daisy - Prick (I Am An Elastic Firecracker)
13. The Gutter Twins - Circle the Fringes (Saturnalia)
14. Toadies - Send you to Heaven (Feeler)
15. Barkmarket - Whipping Post (Gimmick)
16. Graveyard - Thin Line (S/T)
17. Shun - Michael in Reign (Michael in Reign)

DOWNLOAD HERE: Good Rock Music vol. 17
password - Rishloo

ENJOY & LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Happy as a Clam


It just dawned on me last week that as much as I love the Toadies, there was research I had to do. I knew they had problems with their label in between releasing their two albums, which was to blame for the six year wait. I never really bothered to look into what those problems were however. That is, until last week. I began a temp job at Interscope Records, the former home of the Toadies, and the very label they had so many problems with. I've read in interviews that they decided to break up shortly after releasing "Hell Below/Stars Above," largely because of label woes and all that came with being signed to one of the majors. While I do enjoy working here, even if it is only for a month, I am not proud that they ran one of my favorite bands out of the business.

Things soured between the band and the label over what was to be their sophomore album. In 1997, Toadies recording "Rubberneck's," follow-up effort, "Feeler." An album that is pretty much complete, except for maybe some more mixing and production features, was given to the label for release. The label however did not like the direction the Toadies had gone, and wanted them to repeat the formula from the platinum debut's success. The label told the band they would not release this album, and that they would have to scrap the majority of songs and start from scratch. To this day, the album has never been released by any means, with Interscope claiming to have lost the masters of the recordings, preventing an independent release.

Until last week, I had never heard any mention of "Feeler," but you better believe once I did it became priority #1 for me to somehow obtain a copy. It took about 5 days, but I finally found the unreleased album. While I'm not sure if the tracklisting is in the correct order, or if there was ever one set, the album still sounds phenomenal! If I were not the huge Toadies fan that I am, I could somewhat understand the labels refusal. The album is a complete departure from "Rubberneck," and everything else the Toadies have ever released for that matter. Gone are any hints at heaviness, and their grunge meets Pixies sound has lost the majority of grunge to it. This could be result of the mix, or lack of equalization on the tracks, it's hard to say. The vocals are more forward in the mix then the typical Toadies recording, as its main counterpart, the screeching sonic stew of the guitars is tamed and pushed back in the mix. That's not to say the guitar playing is not up to their caliber, as it always is, but the sound of them is just far less crushing and dense as the Toadies we've come to know and love. Not being able to tear and break-through the rest of the music, I think this is probably due in most part to the mixing. The drums are not recorded in the quality you would expect either, as this was most likely not the final setting for the levels. Regardless, this does allow the bass lines and vocals to shine at all times throughout the record. Just in case you needed any more convincing that Todd Lewis has a great voice and delivery, his melodies soar all over the place on this disc.

The mix isn't the only change here though, as this album comes almost completely clean from the darkness. The majority of the tracks that did not get re-worked for the next album have a happy, upbeat, southern feel to them. This can be heard right away from the first track, "City of Hate." With its country twang feel to it, you can already tell this album is going to be far different, but that won't be a bad thing. This is one of those feel good out in the hot summer sun kind of tracks that you may expect an alternative rock band from Texas to create. "Pink," is another upbeat track with an almost minimalist approach in its sound. The heavy distortion and overdrive of the first album is gone, and left in its wake is a happy-go-lucky rock song that could have just as easily come from the 60s. Expanding on that very idea comes "Twitch," which you could very possibly dance to. While the idea of a danceable Toadies track sounds pretty strange, it actually works. With a strong groove and boogie down feel to it, the song talks of "the good days." I guess Interscope just couldn't bring themselves to release an album from a "grunge" band that was...happy. "Tornado," which was actually written in 1959 by bassist Lisa's father's band, The Jiants, sounds like the era it was written. Toadies are delivering nothing more than straight forward rock n roll, in the truest sense of the words.

"Mine," is another interesting track with a great heavy bass sound, and a quiet guitar lick that bounces right along with it. This is a fairly good assessment of what the Toadies may sound like as an indie pop group. With strong intertwining melodies, it comes across great. Some of the tracks almost seem reminiscent of indie revolutionaries Pavement, while still having the distinct Toadies aura in great presence. "Your Day," comes complete with bubbling harmonics and a vocal melody that could be used as theme music for a cartoon show or buddy sitcom. I can't help but feel however that if some heavy overdrive was added to the guitar it would have a completely different vibe. "Waterfall," is a great track that they are known to play regularly live. This song appeals to the grunge they're known for, and does not feel stale or dissappointing. "Joey, Let's Go," is another Pixies styled indie influenced track. The sonic siren sound of Toadies guitar playing is present, but is firmly seated in the back of the mix. "Send you to Heaven," is the closest thing to a country, soul, 70s pop-rock infusion as the Toadies are going to approach. With classic rock n roll not only inspiring the sound, but the lyrics as well, this song is a beautiful and stripped down ballad. That is till the end of the track, when all hell breaks loose with a rarely seen (on this album) aggression.

There are certainly tracks that are similar to what you would be expecting this release to sound like. "Dead Boy Boogie," "Suck Magic," and "Clarksville," are still filled with the angst and anger of their debut. A full produced version of these tracks would easily fit in with anything from "Rubberneck." "Little Fish," is a dark sounding moody ride similar to the style of "Jigsaw Girl" or "Doll Skin." "ATF" is an instrumental track that has become a live fan favorite. Intense and abrasive, this song comes across as a very familiar sounding Toadies grimy grunge jam.

While this album sounds more like demo quality production than a studio release, that only adds to its appeal. A stripped down Toadies sound where the songwriting and melodies get a chance to shine just as much as any other aspect. This album proves that the Toadies were set to release another classic album, rocking from start to finish with great tracks, and no filler. It is a shame this never came out, as it would have been one of the most unique sounding albums of the era. This is the greatest album ever to not be released, and I can only hope these songs get a proper release at some point in the future.

I don't want to post the entire album, as I don't think it's fair to the Toadies just in case they may be planning on releasing this in the future. However, I do want everyone to be able to hear this amazing album, as the odds aren't good it will ever come out in stores, and it's extremely hard to find online. So if you already own all of their official albums, and feel like you would do just about anything to hear an entire unreleased Toadies CD with songs that are brand new to your ears, then I understand. This is an album that all Toadies devotees should have the opportunity to hear.

DOWNLOAD HERE: Toadies - Feeler (1997)
password - Rishloo

ENJOY AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Start With a Strong & Persistent Desire


When I look back on the scene most commonly known as "nu-metal," the genre started by bands like Korn, Deftones, and their peers, I don't have too many fond memories. That's not to say nothing good came from it, as there were a handful of great artists. Producer Ross Robinson helmed a large portion of this scene's releases, as it seemed everything he touched was destined for success. While a lot of the bands he worked with were extremely similar and generic, he did produce efforts from the mega-influential Glassjaw and At The Drive-In. Both of these bands have huge underground fan bases with little media exposure, and spurred revolutions in their respected genres. Not every band on his resume was as lucky though. I want to talk about one of my favorite bands from this time, Vex Red. In 2002, Robinson signed London's Vex Red to his own I Am Records, a subsidiary of Virgin. He would also produce their debut album, "Start with a Strong & Persistent Desire," a dense, electronic, darkly melodic beautiful sonic landscape. While this could sound in text to be something like NIN, Vex Red truly have a sound that is all their own. They use countless well thought out layers of music with screeching guitars to cut through the thickness, and lead singer Terry Abbot's top notch vocals. His melodies carry over the sonic thunder to deliver sweetness to their electronic grunge atmospherics. Creating extremely catchy, memorable lyrics, Vex Red were like nothing else out, and still maintain a style that has been unmatched. Trying to pin down any bands to use as reference is difficult, but there is a bit of Radiohead meets Tool sensibilities with grunge like explosions. They create a sound that is familiar in theme and heaviness, but new and exciting in their extreme range of dynamics. Tracks like "Vert," and "Untitled," begin as slow, calm, quiet compositions with the melody provided by Abbot's singing, only to collapse under the thick distortion heavy chaos that seems to come at a moment's time from out of nowhere. What seems to be a soft piano ballad smoothly withers away into a wall of crushing sound. Abbot's voice has a beautiful sincere emotion to it, and when mixed with the swirling guitars and mechanical fuzz tendencies, it creates a sound that stays fresh after five years of listening.

The band broke up shortly after this release which is an incredible shame, as they were one of the best new bands I'd heard in a while, with a promising and refreshing new sound. "Start With a Strong & Persistent Desire," was a true complete masterpiece, and grows on you more with every listen. The entire album is a great straight through listen, but for those who are looking for tracks to sample, I recommend "The Closest," (which can be downloaded on the 2nd disc of the mix below) "Untitled," "Dermo," and "Itch." So check them out, and let me know what you think.

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Seeing as I haven't posted a new mix in a while, here's a 2 disc set...

Dan Goldin presents...Good Rock Music Vol. 6 was my first two disc effort. As I am getting ready to make a new mix, I compile a list of songs starting as soon as the previous mix is completed till I have about 30 or so. Then I narrow them down removing songs that aren't as strong, can wait for the next mix, or just don't fit with the rest of the tracks. Every now and then though, it will be too difficult to decide what to get rid of, and there will be enough tracks selected to make two equally strong mixes. I consider them two discs of the same volume because they were compiled at the same time with the track selections carefully being picked to make sure both CDs are equal in enjoyment! This mix was made on November 21st, 2006, and marked my true return to the appreciation of the Toadies and Silverchair's debut effort, Frogstomp. While I have enjoyed both since their initial releases back in the early 90's, I found a new degree of greatness in both of them this time around. These albums both are undeniable alternative rock classics as far as I'm concerned. Without further ado...

DISC ONE...
1. Black Label Society - The Blessed Hellride (The Blessed Hellride)
2. Silverchair - Israel's Son (Frogstomp)
3. King Crimson - Dinosaur (Thrak)
4. Black Sabbath - The Wizard (S/T)
5. Toadies - Away (Rubberneck)
6. The Sword - Freya (Age of Winters)
7. The Mars Volta - Viscera Eyes (Amputechture)
8. Army of Anyone - Goodbye (S/T)
9. Porcupine Tree - Even Less (Stupid Dream)
10. Helmet - Wilma's Rainbow (Betty)
11. Black Label Society - Losing Your Mind (Pride & Glory)
12. Candlebox - Change (S/T)
13. Toadies - I Come From the Water (Rubberneck)
14. Unida - Human Tornado (Coping with the Urban Coyote)
15. Bad Wizard - Black Navigator (Sky High)

DISC TWO...
1. Silverchair - Stoned (Mallrats Soundtrack)
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers - She's Only 18 (Stadium Arcadium)
3. Vex Red - The Closest (Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire)
4. Audioslave - The Shape of Things to Come (Revelations)
5. Black Label Society - Crazy or High (Hangover Music Vol. 6)
6. Porcupine Tree - Slave Called Shiver (Stupid Dream)
7. Toadies - Quitter (Rubberneck)
8. Eagles of Death Metal - Don't Speak (I Came to Make a Bang!) (Death by Sexy)
9. Isis - Wrists of Kings (In The Absence of Truth)
10. Wolfmother - Colossal (S/T)
11. Primus - N.I.B. (feat. Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath cover) (Nativity in Black II)
12. Year of the Rabbit - Hunted (S/T)
13. Silverchair - Pure Massacre (Frogstomp)
14. Deftones - Beware (Saturday Night Wrist)
15. Orange Goblin - Jesus Beater (feat. John Garcia) (Coup de Grace)
16. The Octave Museum - Spirals in her Eyes (S/T)
17. Melvins - Going Blind (Kiss cover) (Houdini)

Yes, it's a lot of new music to take in, well worth the listen though. Featuring diverse acts ranging from the groove oriented heaviness of stoner rock bands, distorted grunge rock bands, beautifully polished progressive rock, bright alternative sounds, and oh so much more. So download and enjoy. If there is anything you particularly like, I would recommend checking out the artists' complete album.

DOWNLOAD Good Rock Music Vol. 6 (both discs separately) HERE
password - RISHLOO

ENJOY and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Alive in the Superunknown


Soundgarden's Superunknown will forever be regarded as one of the greatest and most ground breaking grunge/alternative releases created. Soundgarden are among the originators of the Seattle based grunge sound in the mid 80's and took the genre to new heights with each effort. They were the first grunge band to ever be signed to a major record label, leading the way for the scene to make its push into the mainstream. In 1994 with their fourth album, Soundgarden pushed the envelope of their sound to a new level, while raising the bar for their competition considerably high. A damn near perfect album from start to finish, they once again showed the very essence of grunge through bleak, brooding, and despair soaked songs.

The album begins with a bang created by the opener, "Let Me Drown". As the title will suggest, this is a not a happy song, but that doesn't stop it from still containing a brilliant beauty. Lead guitarist Kim Thayil takes little time to show off his Black Sabbath meets Led Zeppelin chops. The sound created is such a pure blending of their influences, and is only more powerful with the addition of Chris Cornell's unbelievable pipes. His lyrics are mellow and filled with anguish as he begs to drown. The rhythm section pulsates and a quiet piano is mixed within to add great texture. While only the first track on the album, this is one of my favorites, and a great way to kick off the CD. "My Wave" continues in the glory, as one of five major radio hits from the album. With an almost Eastern sounding melody mixed with some psychedelic guitar effects, this song contains a strong heavy groove. Lyrically, Cornell sings of his disdain for popular culture and being labeled a youth subculture. The ever alienated "Fell on Black Days" follows, in all its beauty and bleakness. Filled with as much gloom a song can possess, this song creates a mood like being stuck under a thousand pounds of mud and meagerly attempting to crawl your way out. As beautiful as it is dark, this is a true classic, by any standards. Cornell's lyrics are heavy as bricks, without being hard or shouted. His mellow drone leads way to his soaring hopefulness. When this album was released, I was in elementary school, and the black and white music video for this track of the band performing in some seedy basement never did it for me. As I have grown older, I think the video is an amazing accompaniment, as it fits the song perfectly.

"Mailman" comes next, and starts with a slow doom like metal dirge of guitars. Cornell shows exactly why he is one of the best singers of the 90s with his vocals tones switching from low to high seamlessly within just words of each other. A very grunge heavy track, with a dark winding hook, and a thick trance like flow. The title track, "Superunknown," is an extreme psychedelic trip through the far depths of space. Thayil shows his guitar wizardry with wide exploding guitar licks to complement Cornell's wailing delivery. The subsonic bass sound and hard hitting drums are Led Zeppelin like in their quality as the song travels deeper into the acid induced visions, and Thayil lets loose with his solo. The lyrics are great as they contain the mysterious dangers of living in the "Superunknown". If "My Wave" showed Eastern philosophies being introduced, "Head Down" brings them to the forefront. This song comes across like a journey floating through the ocean, with its psychedelic wanderings creating a peaceful flow, combined with crashing waves of guitar sounds and more Bonham like drumming. This song uses multiple vocal overlaps creating a great texture and thickness to Cornell's sordid dreamy delivery.

The album than reaches the super mega smash hit, "Black Hole Sun". I don't believe there is any one who bothers reading this that doesn't already know and love this song. With the creeping intro rolling out like the fog, this songs vocal imagery is unmatched throughout time. Cornell's vocals sound fine tuned and incredible as he carries long melodies that scream with disenchantment, while offering up a certain degree of hope as well. This song came along with arguably the best music video of the 90's, that brought to life the imagery already storming throughout the track. With a dark black sky that looked ready to begin Armageddon, those creepy surreal faces, and the melting of all things evil and unnatural, the video is a real gem. The almost equally popular smash hit success of "Spoonman" follows, and doesn't allow the intensity of this album to let up in the least. The incredible time shifting drum and spoon-playing solo captures a mystic spiritual sound reminiscent of a snake charmer, before the song stirs right back into the heavy swirls of the chorus. The entire band is really on point, and takes time to venture throughout the spectrum of sounds they can create.

My two personal favorite tracks on the album, "Limo Wreck," and "The Day I Tried to Live," continue in pushing the bar higher and higher for this timeless album. They both have an apocalyptic sound that creeps along, side by side with the best riffs Sabbath ever wrote. "Limo Wreck," really is a downward visceral doom filled saga. Thayil plays an incredible weaving guitar line, as Cornell delivers his passionate wails filled with intensity. Then comes the greatest track I personally thing Soundgarden ever wrote, and one of my favorite songs ever written. "The Day I Tried to Live" begins with an incredible deep space soar of guitar melody. The bouncing bass line stomps in with the drums, and Cornell steals away the attention with his beautiful uplifting vocals. If a song could be considered perfect, this is it. This song ages like a fine wine, and remains just as powerful and sincere as ever. Cornell really shows his penchant for songwriting in this progressive leaning epic song.

"Kickstand," is a fast and furious rocker, coming in at only a minute and a half in length. Many consider this track to be album filler, but its the contrast created on the album, that makes this song so important. Coming after "The Day I Tried to Live," it picks the pace back up and adds yet another style variety. "Fresh Tendrils" comes next and continues in the despair and gloom of the album. The musical structuring of this song is almost progressive, and with out a doubt intelligent. The band sounds so cohesive as a unit, it's hard to believe they would only release one more album. Next up is the slow doom grunge of "4th of July." One of the most underrated songs on the album, Cornell's vocals are beautiful even as they come across as being overly detached. Doubling his duties with two vocal lines simultaneously, both a low drone and his soaring wail, he sings the incredible hook, "I heard it in the wind, I saw it in the sky, and I thought it was the end, I thought it was the 4th of July." Thayil takes the end of the world feel to new heights with his solo during the bridge, and overall dirt and sludge of this track. The contrast of the beauty in the vocal melody with the crushing gloom of the music make this one of the best tracks in the set.

"Half" follows with what is far and away the strangest track they have released. Vocal duties come from bassist Ben Sheppard singing in a high pitched distorted sound. The key switches from major to minor, creating a cool texture that is heavily India flavored. Not the best track in the world, but creates further flow to the album as a whole. "Like Suicide," rounds out the classic offering, with some of the deepest and most powerful lyrics of the album. A tale of a couples experience with suicide and death, this song has a slower pace, that is softer than most of the rest of the album, but just as sonically heavy. The drumming by Matt Cameron is crisp and on point, and sounds great with the blistering guitar solo Thayil unleashes. Thayil starts the album with the hard rocking licks of the very first track, and does not let up the amazing pressure and intensity of his playing until the very last note of the album.

It is a shame that Soundgarden are not still with us, creating new music. The directions they were heading in were incredibly original and ultimately profoundly interesting. Luckily for us though, we will always have this album to play as often as desired. No matter how many times I've enjoyed this classic crowning achievement of the grunge era, it still manages to get better with every listen. Please do me, and yourself a favor, and listen to this record. If you haven't heard it in a while or if you just listened to it yesterday, throw it on again and enjoy the masterpiece that is Superunknown.

The Ghost of Trent Reznor


Tonight marked the arrival of the self released new album from Nine Inch Nails, "Ghosts I - IV". The album is entirely instrumental, and covers almost two complete hours of music. Joining Reznor during the 10 day recording of this creation was Adrian Belew, Alan Moulder, Atticus Ross, Alessandro Cortini, and Brian Viglione. As NIN left their label last fall, the album is being released by Reznor himself, one of the pioneers of the anti-record label format. Having been signed since the late 80's, Trent Reznor has embraced being able to do things his own way and at his own pace. This album is available exclusively through www.NIN.com. They are offering several different formats of the album, at various prices. Not sure if you really want to hear an entirely instrumental NIN album? Download Ghosts I for free from the website. Enjoy what you heard? Download the entire album, 36 tracks total, for just $5. Included in that download is a 40 page PDF booklet that you can be sure contains great typical NIN artwork. If you're like me, and you still love having a CD and hard copy of the album, that also is available for the low price of $10. While the CD wont ship until early April, the ability to download the album in the meantime is included free of charge. Seems like a great idea to me, as I am impatient and don't want to wait, but do very much want a real CD copy of the album.

The albums sound is pretty much like what you would expect Nine Inch Nails to sound like if Trent wasn't singing. They do explore more avenues of sounds and style than normal, given enormous amounts of freedom. Ventures into almost complete ambient soundscapes compete with industrial distorted mayhem, slow piano compositions, and more on this eclectic collection.

Personally, I have a great deal of trouble listening to entirely instrumental music. No matter how talented the musicians are, I always can't help but feel like I'm waiting for the lyrics to begin. While bands like Mogwai, Red Sparrows, and Explosions in the Sky are all able to portray stories without the use of vocals, I still find myself far less inclined to listen to them on a regular basis. This opinion of mine is only strengthened by this release. Already knowing the amazing voice of Trent Reznor, I am left feeling like I'm missing out on what could have been. Don't get me wrong, the music is great, everything you would expect a Nine Inch Nails album to be, and then some. Trent Reznor's vocals however, are what really brings out the melody in NIN songs, taking them from strange musical tinkerings and thrashings, and tying them all together.

Having said that, I still bought the album as I will actively support anything Trent Reznor does for the most part. I do of course have an idea to take this album from a cool project to certifiable greatness! So if anyone reading this has anyway to contact Mr. Reznor, please let me know, or let him know. I think it would be exceptionally incredible if he were to later release an entirely a cappella vocal album to coincide with this. Listeners could then put on both albums simultaneously for an amazing NIN experience. Just the thought of it excites me more than you know!

This is the second release album Reznor has released through the "pay if you'd like" model since leaving the majors. The first is a phenomenal album he produced and co-created with hip-hop/spoken word artist Saul Williams. I've said for years that Reznor would be a great hip-hop producer, and he decided it was finally time to prove me right. The album, "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!," is available to download for free or $5 at www.niggytardust.com. Wondering what exactly this sounds like? Imagine NIN making a hip-hop album with incredibly conscious lyricism that rivals any MC in hip-hop today. Add in the melodies of Trent and Saul singing together to create a sound so unique and fulfilling. Oh, and there is even an awesome cover of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." A great album, filled with social and political commentary, that I highly recommend to fans of both rock and rap/hip-hop music alike. Share this album with friends, as it really is a must hear to believe. Saul Williams is currently going on tour in support of this album, and I am sure to catch this when it rolls around to NYC. Will Trent Reznor be there accompanying him? I can only hope so!