Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Music Review: Tales from the Porn - H.M.M.V




The new band, Tales from the Porn, is an interesting story.  The band started in Brazil where a bunch of mostly 20-somethings started a band based on their favorite rock genre, 80's sleaze rock.  The band started writing music for an album, but they realized they were missing the type of lead singer they needed.  Through a friend of friend, they were able to get in contact with Stevie Rachelle, who was the lead singer of TUFF back in the day, for help.  Soon a friendship began, Stevie joined the band as the lead singer and he added his touch to some of the songs the band had written.  The end result is H.M.M.V which is pure sleaze rock magic.

The album immediately announces its roots with the excellent Back to the 80's which lets listeners know exactly what this band is about.  Stylistically, this band will remind you of early Motley Crue, RATT and LA Guns.  This album isn't overproduced at all and feels raw and dirty.  Each song has killer riffs, fun lyrics and the type of anthem choruses that will stay in your head long after you stopped listening to it.  Songs I'm really digging include Back to the 80's, Hot Girls Fast Cars and the super badass Tales to the Porn.  There isn't a bad track on this album.  In fact, my least favorite song is their cover of Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone and even that is good.  

What was most surprising for me to find out after listening to this album is that band members from Brazil and Rachelle have never actually met in person.  This means the band recorded the album in Brazil while Stevie did the vocals in Los Angeles.  Despite recording the album miles apart, the album sounds unified and flows really well.  If you dig sleaze rock, this album is for you.




GRADE:  A-



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Clue Documentary: Who Done It - Teaser




One of the most underappreciated comedies of the 80's is the hilarious film, Clue.  The movie bombed at the box-office in 1985, but it developed a cult following thanks to its video release and people with good taste discovering it.  It Looks Fake Productions is giving us an inside look at Clue with their documentary, Who Done It.  I am super pumped for this documentary and they just released a teaser trailer and it looks solid.  Check it out.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Def Leppard's Hysteria is 30 Years Old



Def Leppard's Hysteria came out 30 years ago today and was an album that poured gasoline on my love of rock music.  Hysteria sold 12 million in the United States and over 30 million copies world-wide.  The album had seven hit singles including the smash hits Pour Some Sugar On Me, Love Bites and Armageddon It.  It is hard to believe it has been this long since this album ruled the chart, but the album sounds as good today as it did then.

Happy Birthday Hysteria!!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Music Review: Rebel Machine - Nothing Happens Overnight




You gotta love a band that knows their music is worth getting out to the masses whether they have a record deal or not.  Brazil's Rebel Machine is such a band.  Nothing Happens Overnight is the self-released debut album from Rebel Machine and it is a solid start to their career.  The album came out back in 2016 and it just hit my radar several weeks ago.

Stylistically, Nothing Happens Overnight is your classic 'balls to wall' style of hard rock album.  They are a guitar riff band that reminded me of current bands like Australia's Airbourne and Great Britain's The Treatment.  Each song on this album is a rocker with solid vocals and powerful choruses.  For me, this album took me several listens to really get into, but once I did, I really dug it.  Songs I am really liking include Don't Tell Me I'm Wrong, Down The Road and Goodbye Honey.  But the song that I am really loving is Life Is Fuckin' Good which is my jam right now.  My only complaint with this album is it is only 8 songs and it left me wanting more, but that is a small complaint to have.  I don't know what the rock music scene is like down in Brazil, but these guys should be huge down there and I'd love to see a rock music based label like Roadrunner, Century Media or Megaforce sign them to get them the audience they deserve.





GRADE:  B+

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Music: Body Count - No Lives Matter



I remember back in the early 90's when Ice-T's band Body Count came out with their song Cop Killer and controversy exploded.  Lost in all that controversy was a real problem that black youth were dealing with in the inner-city.  It is crazy to think that this issue is still around today.  Ice-T and Body Count are back with a new song that focuses on social injustice and I am digging not only the message, but the song as well.

So check out their new song, No Lives Matter:



Monday, February 13, 2017

Music: Best Albums of 2016

The Virginmarys



I think it is only fitting that the day after the Grammy Awards, a night that awards record label manufactured music, that I write about my favorite music of 2016.  In my opinion, 2016 was one of the best years for rock music in a long time.  No, rock music doesn't sell worth a crap anymore here in the States, but that doesn't change the fact that there were a ton of great rock albums released this past year.  All told, I checked out 48 new albums in 2016 and by checking them out, I mean listening to them over and over again to really get into them.  It wasn't just rock music I listened to this year as there was also funk, pop and indie music albums as well.  Because there were so many great albums this year, I decided to do a 'Top 15' list.  So check out the list and be sure to check out the music as well.


TOP 15 OF 2016

15.  The Like Magnets - Amazing Pulsar

The Like Magnets features one of my favorite singer/songwriters (Walt Lafty) and this project finds him going a more indie rock route than in his past.  The songs are great and hopefully we get more albums from this band.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

14.  Crobot - Welcome to Fat City

Crobot is a band that is unique to itself with their stoner rock meets rock style.  This album is explosive and full of energy.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

13.  Wolfmother - Victorious

Andrew Stockdale continues his Black Sabbath inspired rock and Wolfmother's fourth album is a worthy to the 70's style of rock from which it is inspired. My thoughts on the album can be read here.

12.  Airbourne - Breakin' Outta Hell

Looking for a band that is similar to AC/DC?  Look no further than Australia's Airbourne.  They not only share the same country as the legendary band, but they share their energy, riffs and attitude.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

11.  Sixx AM - Prayers for the Blessed

Sixx AM put out two albums this year and both were excellent.  Nikki Sixx shows that while Motley Crue may have ended, he will continue to put out great rock music.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

10.  David Bowie - Black Star

The last album that Bowie gave us is a special one.  It infuses different style's of music with  cryptic and emotional lyrics.  He will be missed.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

09.  The Heavy - Hurt & the Merciless

The Heavy mixes rock, funk and soul to create an album that really grooves.  Not only is the music solid, but the lead vocalist can really sing.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

08.  Prince - HitnRun Phase II

His name is Prince and he is funky.  How fitting is it that his last album that he would release is the funkiest one he has done since Musicology.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

07.  Billy Talent - Afraid of Heights

My favorite Canadian band is Billy Talent and their fifth album is just as good as their debut album was.  Their highly harmonized punk style is what separates them from other bands.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

06.  Rival Sons - Hollow Bones

Seriously, a band whose style reminds the listener of bands like Led Zepplin, Deep Purple and Bad Company?  Need I say more?  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

05.  StoneRider - Hologram

Not to repeat myself, but any album that sounds like Deep Purple and Pink Floyd made an album together is really all that needs to be said.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

04.  Butch Walker - Stay Gold

Butch Walker is my favorite singer/songwriter and Stay Gold continues his tradition of great albums.  His last album was an emotional one, so it is really great to get another fun rock album from him.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

03.  Sixx AM - Prayers of the Damned

Sixx AM put out two albums this year and while Prayers for the Blessed was #11 on this list, Prayers of the Damned comes in at #3.  This album proves that Nikki Sixx and James Michael are a great songwriting team.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.

02.  The Struts - Everybody Wants (US Version)

The British release of The Struts Everybody Wants was my favorite album of that year and that made me almost not want to put the US version of the album on this list.  I decided to do so because this album has some new songs on it and quite frankly, it is just too damn good to be ignored. My thoughts on the album can be read here. 

01.  The Virginmarys - Divides

So far The Virginmarys are two for two.  Their 2013 album was my favorite of that year and their second album is my favorite album of 2016.  There isn't a band whose future I am more excited about than theirs.  My thoughts on the album can be read here.


Albums That Just Missed the List

Monster Truck - Sittin' Heavy
Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis
The Dead Daises - Make Some Noise
Cheap Trick - Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello
The Cadillac Three - Bury Me in My Boots


Most Disappointing Albums

Zakk Wylde - Book of Shadows II
Air Traffic Control - Black Box
Spraygun War - Into the Blackness

Favorite Songs of the Year

Xtraloveable by Prince
Your Chains by StoneRider
Since You've Been Gone by The Heavy
When We Were Gods by Sixx AM
Halo in Her Silhouette by The Virginmarys
Descending by Butch Walker
Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats by Billy Talent
Hollow Bones Part 2 by Rival Sons
Blackstar by David Bowie
The Ol' Switcheroo by The Struts






Friday, February 10, 2017

List of 2016 Albums



I've been spending the last month or so re-listening to all the 2016 albums I checked out this past year and I decided to share that list with you.

The Like Magnets – Amazing Pulsar
Sam Means – 10 Songs
Wolfmother – Victorious
David Bowie – Black Star
Prince – HitnRun Phase II
The Struts – Everybody Wants
Air Traffic Control – Black Box
Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy
The Temperance Movement – White Bear
The Treatment – Generation Me
Black Stone Cherry – Kentucky
Cheap Trick – Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello
Weezer – The White Album
The Heavy – Hurt & The Merciless
Zakk Wylde – Book of Shadows II
StoneRider – Hologram
The Virginmarys – Divides
Rooney – Washed Away
Sixx: AM – Prayers for the Damned
Spraygun War – Into the Blackness
Panic at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor
Rival Sons – Hollow Bones
Scorpion Child – Acid Roulette
Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
Billy Talent – Afraid of Heights
The Dead Daises – Make Some Noise
The Cadillac Three – Bury Me in My Boots
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Wayside
Butch Walker – Stay Gold
Michael Sweet – One Sided War
Jack White – Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016
Aaron Lewis – Sinner
Deap Vally - Femejism
Airbourne – Breaking Outta Hell
The Sword – Low Country
Crobot – Welcome to Fat City
Eric Hutchinson – Easy Street
RavenEye – Nova
Alter Bridge – The Last Hero
Sully Erna – Hometown Life
Shovels and Rope – Little Seeds
Kings of Leon – Walls
Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
The Wind and The Wave – Happiness is not a Place
Bon Jovi – This House is Not for Sale
Sixx AM – Prayers for the Blessed
Taylor Hawkins – Kota (EP)
Metallica - Hardwired to Self-Destruct

From my count, that is 48 albums.  In all honesty, I found 2016 to be a great year for music and I enjoyed the hell out of a lot of these albums.  There were some albums I wasn't able to check out every album I wanted to yet, but I did the best I could.

My 'Best of 2016' list is coming very soon... 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Music Review: Deap Vally - Femejism



Way back in 2016, I went to see Wolfmother perform in Orange County, CA.  Wolfmother was great, but what I left the venue really thinking about was the opening act, Deap Vally.  Deap Vally is a female hard rock duo that kicked ass on the stage that night.  I checked out their debut album and liked it and in late 2016, they put out their second album, Femejism.  The crazy thing is I normally don't care for female vocal bands, but this band connected with me.  Style wise, I would say that Deap Vally is The White Stripes meets Joan Jett.

What I really like about Femejism is the albums attitude.  This album shares a message about female empowerment in the male dominated rock music industry.  The songs also are about a female sexual independence and a woman's place in the world.  I'm a guy, so these lyrics don't really speak to me on a personal level, yet I love the attitude in which they are delivered.  It makes the songs work.  Songs that are seriously badass include Smile More, Royal Jelly and Two Seat Bike.  There a couple filler tracks on the album, but overall, this album is worth checking out for hard rock fans.  I also recommend seeing Deap Vally live and they are great live.




GRADE:  B

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Music Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen - The Ride



Here is a weird concept for me, in Britain there is an entire generation of young rock bands who grew up on and are influenced by Oasis.  This is weird for me because I don't think of Oasis as being around that long, but they have been.  One of the new bands making a splash in Britain with their Oasis influenced rock is Catfish and the Bottlemen.  I discovered this band watching them on the Conan O'Brien show and I liked their performance enough to check out the album.  Their album, The Ride, is their second album and it debuted at #1 in Britain.

So how does a new Oasis influenced band sound to these ears?  Pretty damn solid.  Listening to the entire album, it is evident that Oasis is their biggest influence, but they don't try to sound exactly like them.  I think Catfish and the Bottlemen are a little more mellow compared to classic 90's Oasis.  They are also a little more clean sounding.  In other words, I think they played it a bit safe by making sure the entire album is a perfect fit for the radio.  This isn't a bad thing, it is just the main difference I hear compared to Oasis.  The Ride is a cool album and it has a lot of songs that are easy to listen to and enjoy.  The songs 7, Oxygen and Soundcheck are all killer songs that would satisfy any Oasis fan.  There are a couple average songs here and there, but overall it hits the spot.

  

GRADE:  B

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Music Review: Eric Hutchinson - Easy Street



Eric Hutchinson is a pop singer/songwriter who really should be a lot bigger than he is.  He writes catchy pop songs, has a great voice and is very talented.  Perhaps the fact that he can write his own songs, plays instruments, can sing (without auto-tune) and produces his own album is a reason that people don't give him a chance.  Whatever the case may be, Easy Street is Hutchinson's fourth solid solo album and you should give it a listen.

Easy Street continues with Hutchinson's pop fused soul music that is very positive in not just style, but lyrically as well.  The songs on this album, like all his albums, feels very upbeat in style and substance.  Each song features melodies and choruses that hit the spot.  While I do like the album, I feel this is his weakest album of the four he has released.  While all the songs on the album are good, this album lacks the handful of great songs he usually has on his albums.  I also don't like the fact that this album only has eight new songs and then two remixes of songs from this album.  Those remixed songs are filler and I have no interest in that.  Put two more new songs on the album for goodness sakes!  Complaints aside, songs that I really like include Dear Me, Anyone Who Knows Me and Bored To Death.  If you've never heard of Hutchinson, I'd recommend checking out his album Moving Up Living Down (which is excellent) first and then check out the rest. 




GRADE: B




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Music Review: Zakk Wylde - Book of Shadows II




Zakk Wylde is one of my favorite guitarists.  He got his start as a teenager playing guitar for Ozzy Osbourne and he helped Ozzy achieve some of his biggest commercial success as a solo artist.  His writing had a huge influence on the Ozzy classic, No More Tears which was a huge album.  When he hasn't been working Ozzy, he has had his own projects including Pride and Glory, Black Label Society and his excellent solo album, Book of Shadows.

Book of Shadows came out in 1996 and is pretty much an all acoustic album that has hit legendary status among Zakk Wylde, hard rock and metal fans.  There is no doubt in my mind that the album features some of best writing and singing of his career.  20 years after that release, Zakk finally gave the fans Book of Shadows II which continues the original's tone and style.

I was pretty excited about this album after Wylde announced he was going to release it, but like with most sequels that come out decades after its predecessor, it failed to live up to expectations.  While one could argue that having high expectations is unfair to the new album, but upon repeat listens, I just don't find the songs to be as good overall.  Book of Shadows II starts off strong with its first five songs all being good.  After that, the songs become...well...boring.  I wouldn't say any of the songs are bad, they are just dull.  The album does end on a stronger note with its last couple songs, so that helps it a bit.  Songs on the album I really like include Autumn Changes, Lay Me Down and The King.  While I appreciate Zakk trying to do duplicate Book of Shadows, at this point in his career, I think it makes more sense for him to continue to put out music with his band Black Label Society who still kick kick ass.




GRADE: C+

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Music Review: Aaron Lewis - Sinner



I have mentioned on here before that I don't really like country music as it is just not my thing, but every once in a while, something connects with me.   Aaron Lewis is the lead singer of one of my favorite nu-metal bands, Staind.  One of my favorite things about Staind has always been Lewis' vocals, so when he came out with a solo EP back in 2011, I was pretty excited.  Imagine my surprise when I heard the album the first time and it was a country album.  A strange thing happened though and I actually liked it, well, most of it.

Sinner is Lewis' third solo release and is his second full length album.  When listening to the album, there is no sign of the Staind days at all as this is a real country album.  I have no idea what country purists would say, but to this country music novice, this sounds like some real country music.  In fact, I recently listened to country legends Alabama to get a feel for real country music and I think Lewis' album fits.  Lyrically, the album is like most country songs I've heard: America, whiskey, trucks and sticking to your grandparents core values.  Now, for me, those types of lyrics get old pretty quick, but with Aaron Lewis singing it, I like most of it.

Some of the songs that stand out on the record for me are Sinner (featuring Willie Nelson), Northern Redneck and That Ain't Country.  While the vast majority of songs on this album are all good songs, one of the issues I have with country music in general, is an issue here too.  That issue is I really don't care for country music ballads and this album has too many of them in my opinion.  Except for the song Mama, I get bored with them upon repeat listens.  I'd really prefer Lewis putting more upbeat songs on the next album because I really like those.  Of course, that is just me and like I said, most of the songs on this album are good, so don't let that deter you if you dig Aaron Lewis or country music.




GRADE:  B

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Music Review: Sixx AM - Prayers for the Blessed



It is always good when a band can give you one solid album in a year, but for a band to give you two full length albums in one year that are great is a rarity.  Early in 2016, Sixx AM released the excellent Prayers for the Damned and by the end of 2016 they followed that up with the very good Prayers for the Blessed.  Sixx AM is a band started by Nikki Sixx which used to be just a side-project for him, but now that Motley Crue is done, it has become his number one priority.  Two studio albums in one year proves that.

When it gets down to it, Prayers for the Blessed is really a continuation of Prayers for the Damned.  You can tell all these songs were written within the same time frame.  The creativity must have been flowing like crazy because this album has songs that equal the quality of the songs on Damned.  Originally I thought Blessed would basically be the throw away tracks from Damned, but that just isn't the case.  These songs have focus and purpose.  A few of the stronger songs are We Will Not Go Quietly, The Devil's Coming and the emotional Helicopters.  The only misfire on this album is their remake of Harry Nilsson's 1972 classic, Without You.  I'm just not sure why they added this to the album.  Don't get me wrong, it is a good cover, but for some reason, the song interrupts the flow of the album in my opinion.  Besides that, Prayers of the Blessed is very strong and just a slight step down from Prayers for the Damned.




GRADE: A-