Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Police-- Zenyattà Mondatta (1980)

The third album by a group that seemed to create their own sub-genre of post punk/new wave music, Zenyatta Mondatta was a rushed affair that the group claim they have always been greatly disappointed by. But to the music lover/Police fan, this is an album of clever tunes and the usual literate and distinctive stylings of a band who could not be imitated (and obviously still can’t be). There is the slight edge of dub and reggae that they were known for back in the 80s, but nowhere as prevelant as in their earlier albums. Some fans would even say this is the beginning of the transition to the more accessible sound of their biggest selling album, Syncronicity (1983). What most casual music listeners will remember most about this album is "Don't Stand So Close To Me", a song which references classic literature in the form of Nabokov's "Lolita". But there are some really great sonds on this album that most people might have missed (unless you're already a fan of their music, that is). I'm talking songs that are as catchy and hum happy as "Canary In a Coalmine" and "Man In a Suitcase", which have a sort of common musical thread if you listen to them back to back. There's also some rather complicated songs, such as the excellent "Driven To Tears", "When the World Is Running Down" and "Voices Inside My Head". And let's not forget that classic of social rebellion, "De-Do-Do-Do-De-Da-Da-Da", which on the surface comes off as a silly song, but the lyrics are filled with anger.
This is an album that is at once a fly stuck in amber and a still socially relevant catalogue of political and social commentary. It also happens to be a classic rock album, so if you don't have it yet, get it. Add it to your horrorhead collection, without delay.

1."Don't Stand So Close to Me" – 4:04
2."Driven to Tears" – 3:20
3."When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" – 3:38
4."Canary in a Coalmine" – 2:26
5."Voices Inside My Head" – 3:53
6."Bombs Away" (Stewart Copeland) – 3:09
7."De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" – 4:09
8."Behind My Camel" (Andy Summers) – 2:54
9."Man in a Suitcase" – 2:19
10."Shadows in the Rain" – 5:02
11."The Other Way of Stopping" (Copeland) – 3:22

(Visit The Police official website here)

--Nickolas Cook

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Ocean Blue-- Cerulean (1991)

The Ocean Blue's 1991 Cerulean is definitely a 'lost' classic of the dream pop movement of the late 80s and early 90s. It's got a perfect synthesis of smooth vocals and jangle guitar sound. Released just as the grunge sound exploded worldwide, these guys were unfortunately overwhelmed and forgotten, like other dream pop\shoegazer bands of that period, and unfairly so (Ride comes to mind as well). Listening to this album really brings you back to that moment in time when jangle was king on the alt music charts. It's definitely time these guys were rediscovered and remembered.
Funny...despite the definite British accent to their songs, they're from Pennsylvania and were big into the local Christian pop music scene.
This album fits smoothly into the small, but well produced, catalogue. Find it, listen to it, and learn why shoegaze is still one of the best movements we missed.

1. Breezing Up 4:12
2. Cerulean 3:58
3. Marigold 3:06
4. A Seperate Reality 4:06
5. Mercury 4:12
6. Questions Of Travel 3:45
7. When Life Was Easy 4:20
8. The Planetarium Scene 3:42
9. Falling Through The Ice 1:25
10. Ballerina Out Of Control 3:54
11. Hurricane Amore 4:48
12. I've Sung One Too Many Songs For A Crowd That Didn't Want To 3:54

(Visit The Ocean Blue official website here)

--Nickolas Cook

Murderdolls-- Women and Children Last (2010)

First off let me start by saying Women and Children Last is a very much more mature album than their first release Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls. Drummer/guitarist Joey Jordison of Slipknot fame had always said that the first album was very much recordings from two different bands brought together for the sake of making an album. This time around Joey and singer Wednesday 13 came together to write the new album from scratch. The result is a much more mature heavy/alt punk sound. The glam sound is still there just not as blatant as it was on their first album.

As I mentioned the album is very different sounding from their first release but that’s not to say that they have strayed away from the Murderdolls format. They still like to say fuck a lot and still have themes surrounding their infatuation with death, drugs and rock and roll. Songs such as “Nowhere” and “Summertime Suicide” are very reminiscent of their previous work, especially the guitar riffs.

Their single “My Dark Place Alone,” is very much departure from their previous work and is much more radio friendly than their older material. The song has a dark punk feel to it straying more on the heavier sound of metal. They really were out to change their overall sound and they have definitely succeeded.

Overall Woman and Children Last has some good notable songs on the album such as the previous mentioned songs as well as “Whatever You Want I Got” and “Blood Stained Valentine.” One criticism I do have for their new sound is they sound a little too much like Avenged Sevenfold now. When I first heard the album I had to look at my ITunes list to make sure Murderdolls was playing and not Avenged. I’m not a huge Avenged fan so a little more distinguishable sound would have been acceptable considering they very much created their own sound with their first release. With Slipknots future in question it’s quite possible this may be Joey Jordison’s primary band for the near future.

Track List

1. The World According To Revenge
2. Chapel Of Blood
3. Bored 'Til Death
4. Drug Me To Hell
5. Nowhere
6. Summertime Suicide
7. Death Valley Superstars
8. My Dark Place Alone
9. Blood Stained Valentine
10. Pieces Of You
11. Homicide Drive
12. Rock N Roll Is All I Got
13. Nothing's Gonna Be Alright
14. Whatever You Got, I'm Against It
15. Hello, Goodbye, Die
16. Motherfucker See, Motherfucker Do [Explicit]
17. The Funeral Ball
18. A Moment Of Violence

(Visit The Murderdolls official website here)

--Steven M. Duarte

Disturbed-- Asylum (2010)

I haven’t decided yet if I have become bored of Disturbed’s sound or have just moved on to other metal bands as I found myself skipping through majority of the tracks from their new release Asylum. Now don’t get me wrong it’s not a horrible album it’s just very much of the same Disturbed formula we have previously heard with Ten Thousand Fists and Indestructible. I remember listening to The Sickness and Believe and feeling so pumped to hear the entire album. Not so much now.

So why such a negative startup to this review? The production values are top notch, and the instrument work and vocals is standard Disturbed. I think I’m just flat out burned out from them. I own all their albums have seen them live twice yet didn’t leave with much after hearing their new album.

Their first single Asylum has a good bass riff intro with some standard David Draiman grunts. The song is decent but not the strongest of the songs on the album. Bands generally want to take the best track from their album to create a single to create buzz for the album. Asylum is good not great. Definitely didn’t push me towards buying the album on the song alone. I personally would have chosen “Never Again” as the first single as it better captures the older Disturbed sound with an angry pissed off David Draiman. Another notable track off the album is “Another Way to Die.”

Asylum is a political infused album just as their recent previous releases. This time around the band touches upon issues such as the Nazi’s treatment of Jewish people during World War 2 and the environment. Who said Disturbed didn’t care about the environment? Asylum is definitely a departure from the anti Bush message that was carried in the Ten Thousand Fist album.

Disturbed is a mainstream metal band that achieved fame with “Down With the Sickness.” Now that fame has caused them to fall into the population of the many bands out there making metal music. Considering their metal history they need to change it up a bit and either take it back to their roots or……dare I say it, create a concept album. Some bands find success in making a concept album and it may just be what Disturbed needs to kick start their career again.

Track List (Special Edition)
1. Remnants
2. Asylum
3. The Infection
4. Warrior
5. Another Way To Die
6. Never Again
7. The Animal
8. Crucified
9. Serpentine
10. My Child
11. Sacrifice
12. Innocence
13. Ishfwilf
14. Down With The Sickness (Live) [Explicit]
15. Stricken (Live)

(Visit Disturbed's official website here)

--Steven M. Duarte

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Steely Dan-- Aja (1977)

What can you say about one of the biggest selling albums of the 70s? This was certainly Steely Dan's most popular album of their long musical career, both as a group and combined solo efforts. That's not to say that this is even the best thing they've recorded, but there was a certain kind of magic about this collection of near-perfect recordings, a smooth blend of rock jazz, that spoke to the American culture in the late 70s like few other albums could. It wasn't disco enough to make the club rounds, but it sure hit the right notes with Mr. and Mrs. Suburban America. Not doubt this was on every hi-fi turntable across the country at least once a week.
If you've never had the pleasure of hearing some of the tracks on this superior album, do yourself a favor and find it, buy it, listen and learn. Between Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, these songs find a place in the American cosmopolitan soul and stir the energies that make for heady times in a nighttime cityscape, driving neon lit streets and steamy back alleyways.
Personal favs, definitely Deacon Blues (see video below), a song that has a sort of anthem-like quality for the disenfranchised; another song that hit the airwaves and took over was Peg, a devotional to a glamorous beauty, perhaps an homage to the spirit and excitement of the 70s.
Oh, and I'm sure any fan of the Doobie Brothers is sure to recognize some of the backing vocals are courtesy of Mr. Doobie himself, Michael McDonald.

1. "Black Cow" – 5:10
2. "Aja" – 7:57
3. "Deacon Blues" – 7:37
4. "Peg" – 3:57
5. "Home at Last" – 5:34
6. "I Got the News" – 5:06
7. "Josie" – 4:33

--Nickolas Cook

Byron Metcalf\Mark Selig\Steve Roach-- Nada Terma (2008)

This is an aural experience meant to lull the listener into a trance-like state. There's a heavy emphasis on drums running counterpoint, along with sustained low octave keyboards and several instruments that tend to mimic Tuvan throatsingers and didjeridus. Perfect for lowering the lights in the sweatlodge and letting your consciousness fly free for a bit. This is great mood music, if you're looking for something to just drift through, mind and spirit as one, man.

1. Nada Terma, Pt. 1
2. Nada Terma, Pt. 2
3. Nada Terma, Pt. 3
4. Nada Terma, Pt. 4
5. Nada Terma, Pt. 5
6. Nada Terma, Pt. 6
7. Nada Terma, Pt. 7

--Nickolas Cook

Bruce Springsteen-- Nebraska (1982)

Nebraska was recorded in The Boss's bedroom, on a simple 4 track cassette recorder. This is one of the starkest albums you'll ever hear. A soundtrack for lost dreams and the disenchanted across an American wasteland. Stripped down beautifully to vocals and acoustic guitar and harmonica on most of its songs, Springsteen's ability to tell stories with his lyrics has never been more powerful than this album. It'll bring tears to your eyes to hear songs such as My Father's House, and then he'll make you boogie down to Atlantic City. Not a mediocre tune on the whole thing. This is American folk rock at its best and most emotive.

1. "Nebraska" – 4:25
2. "Atlantic City" – 3:50
3. "Mansion on the Hill" – 4:01
4. "Johnny 99" – 3:41
5. "Highway Patrolman" – 5:41
6. "State Trooper" – 3:09
7. "Used Cars" – 3:04
8. "Open All Night" – 2:52
9. "My Father's House" – 5:36
10. "Reason to Believe" – 4:06

--Nickolas Cook

Korn III-- Remember Who You Are (2010)

I’m really starting to think that Korn is not sure what direction to take with their new music. They were supposedly “starting over,” as the 1st track off their untitled album was called in their 2007 untitled release. This previous album was their big new direction and was supposed to show how they evolved as a band. They even had a song called evolution on the album. That album was definitely different as they used more electronica sounds and bordered the mainstream pop sound.

So now three years later and yet there going through another change of direction in their career. This time Korn has decided that it’s best for them to go back to their roots. The album is called Remember who you are as they wanted to go back to their sound from the Korn (1994) album era. Now that’s completely fine with me but a little bit of consistency would be nice. I mean come on your either old school Korn or you’re a new evolved version of Korn. There shouldn’t be any back and forth. Ok now that my rant is over on to the music.

Remember who you are really is a different album from their previous release. They have gone back to their previous sound that they made famous during the mid to late 90’s. Their first single Oildale really shows this new more aggressive Korn sound. Fiedly’s bass pops are much more pronounced as they were back in the old days. Recent releases have tamed down his sound so it’s nice being able to hear him loud and clear again. Pop a Pill has heavy down tuned guitar playing by guitarist Munky and is also very reminiscent of something they would have originally been put out in 1998. There are a couple of songs that still carry over some of the sound from the previous album. The Past could have potentially been on the previous album as a bonus track. So while they have changed their sound they still have retained some elements from their “experimental album.”

The album is much better than their previous release even though some consider their previous release to be a concept album. Even so I never saw their previous release as a concept album just as a confused band of not knowing where to go. I am happy to say that Korn appears to be back on track and will continue to tear down arenas with their old nu metal sound.

1. “Oildale (Leave Me Alone)”
2. “Pop a Pill”
3. “Fear is a Place to Live”
4. “Move On”
5. “Lead the Parade”
6. “Let the Guilt Go”
7. “The Past”
8. “Never Around”
9. “Are You Ready to Live?”
10. “Holding All These Lies”

--Steven M. Duarte

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Cars-- The Cars (1978)

1978's debut album from The Cars is one of the most impressive debut albums in 70s rock. This album is pretty much a greatest hits collection because all but three of the nine songs contained herein were released as hit singles. How many albums, let alone debut albums, can claim that? From 1978 to 1980, a two year period in which The Cars dazzled critics and fans alike with songs like "Just What I Needed" and "Let the Good Times Roll". One of the first bands to really utilize the new electro studio instruments in a pop format, every song has great little electronic and keyboards hooks to compliment a strong sense of rock guitar and harmony. This is an album that truly could come only from the 70s, when a musical revolution was in full swing in the back alley clubs of London and NYC, where punk was metamorphosizing into something angry, but increasingly more palatable to the 70s radio listening audiences. The Cars found that perfect balance of musical rebellion and popular acceptance, due in great part to the lyrical equivalent of a punkrock smooch from the underground. This an album that definitely belongs in any classic rock library.

1. "Good Times Roll" 3:44
2. "My Best Friend's Girl" 3:44
3. "Just What I Needed" 3:44
4. "I'm in Touch with Your World" 3:31
5. "Don't Cha Stop" 3:01
6. "You're All I've Got Tonight" 4:13
7. "Bye Bye Love" 4:14
8. "Moving in Stereo" 4:41
9. "All Mixed Up" 4:14

--Nickolas Cook

Boston-- Boston (1976)

Boston's 1976 debut self-titled hit album did what few albums have even been able to do: at the time of this writing, it has gone platinum and incredible 17 times! What a damn near perfect blend of rock and roll harmonies and ballsy bombast; a great mix of guitar riffs and swirling keyboards, thumping bass and clean drums. It's an album that plays like a Boston's greatest hits because 6 of the 8 songs were released as singles over the course of two years. For many people, it pretty much defined the AOR sound. Legend is that the demos were recorded on a home 8 track recorder, but they sounded so good that the record company released them as is, no studio editing needed. If you're looking to add one of the quintessential 70s rock albums to your collection, BOSTON is it.

1. "More Than a Feeling" 4:45
2. "Peace of Mind" 5:02
3. "Foreplay/Long Time" 7:47
4. "Rock & Roll Band" 3:00
5. "Smokin'" 4:19
6. "Hitch a Ride" 4:11
7. "Something About You" 3:48
8. "Let Me Take You Home Tonight" 4:43

--Nickolas Cook

The Rolling Stones-- Let It Bleed (1969)

1969's "Let It Bleed", the 8th studio album by The Rolling Stones, is definitely my favorite of their discography to date. With such darkly menacing rock-soul classics as "Gimme Shelter", "Monkey Man" and "Midnight Rambler", this is the Stones when they were still edgy and focused on creating their own brand of rock/soul/blues. There's not a bad song on the album and it all ends with perhaps their greatest 60s songs, a biting salvo at the death of the counterculture movement, "You Can't Always Get What You Want". A lot of people will pick "Exile on Main Street" as the quintessential Stones album, but for my money, "Let It Bleed" still has more power per rpms than "Exile..." in my opinion. It sums up the end of the 60s in a way that few albums did. It's definitely a must own classic album for any great music collection.

1. "Gimme Shelter" 4:30
2. "Love in Vain" 4:19
3. "Country Honk" 3:07
4. "Live with Me" 3:33
5. "Let It Bleed" 5:27
6. "Midnight Rambler" 6:52
7. "You Got the Silver" 2:50
8. "Monkey Man" 4:11
9. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" 7:30

--Nickolas Cook

May 2010 Concert Review of Living Legends-- Iron Maiden's THE FINAL FRONTIER TOUR (with extra special guests, Dream Theater)

The venue was in Phoenix, AZ., 2010:
compiled and reviewed by Stsven M. Duarte

Iron Maiden has been one of those bands on my list that I have not seen live. I have an all inclusive list of acts I need to see before I perish this wicked Earth and Maiden was high up there. Thus I set out on a 2 hour drive to neighboring Phoenix to see the might Maiden. Our trek was long and sweaty but well worth the pain and anguish that is the Arizona heat. Dream Theater opened up their set with As I am and finished with their classic Pull Me Under. Considering that each Dream Theater song is about 9+min they only played 6 songs. While not a large number of songs they played for about 50 min.
Then it was time for Maiden. They took the stage around 9pm. Their new stage setup had a space vibe and started with a background of glaring stars. Bruce Dickenson popped up along with the rest of the band into a wicked rendition of the Wicker Man. This was my first time seeing Iron Maiden live and I have to say Bruce can really sing. There’s no studio trickery here, the man’s got some lungs on him. They treated the audience with their new song El Dorado, off their soon to be released album The Final Frontier. The song sounded good and I actually was into it considering it was my first time hearing it. They then went into a couple of songs off their Matter of Life and Death album. One of the highlights of the night was Fear of the Dark, which had everyone chanting along with Bruce. They bid farewell to the crowd after singing the track Iron Maiden. Everyone stayed out chanting their name when all the lights dimmed and we heard the beginning spoken voice that begins before The Number of the Beast. The crowd went wild, as the band ran back on stage. They finished their encore set with Hallowed be thy name and Running free.
Overall my first Iron Maiden concert was a very positive one. I do have to say that I was a bit let down that some of my favorite Maiden songs were left off the set lest. Classics such as Run to the Hills, Minutes to Midnight and The Trooper were noticeably absent from their set. They played some of their newer songs within the last 10 years along with a couple older classics. I can’t help but feel that I need to see them again to get the full complete package. Regardless you can be mad when the show that was presented was still kickass, Irons up!!!!

1. The Wicker Man
2. Ghost Of The Navigator
3. Wrathchild
4. El Dorado
5. Dance Of Death
6. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
7. These Colours Don't Run
8. Blood Brothers
9. Wildest Dreams
10. No More Lies
11. Brave New World
12. Fear Of The Dark
13. Iron Maiden
14. Encore:
14. The Number of the Beast
15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
16. Running Free

Dream Theater's preceding set was muc different than these titans of old school metal.  As an opening act,their stage set was much more subdued, even if their music was NOT.
Anyone who has yet to learn the dark mathematical beauty of Dream Theater, this was a venue in which to do so with ease and comfort.
They took the stage without their much well known and worshipped bandmates' explosive entrance, or even the ear splitting sound levels. They also took the stage with less well known fare, but that did not slow then down as they gave it allfor their allotted time, playing such classics in their repetoire. as well as select few cover tunes from bands which these still consider great musicians and influences on their growing discography. Each song is lovingly crafted into different progressions and soundscapes, giving the listener the sense he hay found the Ox-ian road of golden bricks which will lead to some new unknown place.

Various shared Setlist with Iron Maiden throughout this tout:
(June 9, 2010 - July 20, 2010)

As I Am
A Rite of Passage
Constant Motion
Panic Attack
Pull Me Under
Pull Me Under/Metropolis pt. 1 (added only on July 9, 2010 in Quebec City)

(Setlists without Iron Maiden (June 21, July 2, July 5, and July 10, 2010)

(Setlists on June 21 and July 2, 2010)

A Nightmare to Remember
Constant Motion
Hollow Years
The Mirror
A Rite of Passage
Panic Attack
As I Am
Pull Me Under/Metropolis pt. 1
Encore: The Count of Tuscany

(Setlists on July 5 and July 10, 2010)

A Nightmare to Remember
Constant Motion
A Rite of Passage
Hollow Years
The Mirror
Panic Attack
As I Am
Pull Me Under/Metropolis pt. 1
Encore: The Count of Tuscany

--Steven M. Duarte.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Callisto-- Providence (2009)

Callisto's is one of Finland's most respected prog metal bands, and, in my opinion, these guys sound like no other metal band out there right now. They don't let the metal label stifle their creativity in the least. In fact, I'd say if Radiohead ever went all dark doom metal and shoegazer, they'd sound like Callisto. Great use of harmony, both vocally and instrumentally, with some rather sophisticated lyrics and timing changes. And unlike most nu-metal vocalists, it's obvious they want you to hear their lyrics. They aren't obfuscating them beneath overdrive and distortion and screamo pretensions of pretended rage. They even go so far as to use trumpet, violin and saxophone in their compositions. I'm pretty impressed with this metalgaze sounding album and can't wait to hear more from these guys.
Oh, and if you really pay attention to the lyrics, it'll become evident pretty quickly that they consider themselves to be hardcore Christians. But, even if you're not in the least religious (like myself), you'll still love this album.

1. "In Session" — 6:34
2. "Rule the Blood" — 6:42
3. "Covenant Colours" — 7:45
4. "Eastern Era" — 5:38
5. "New Canaan" — 6:55
6. "Stasis" — 7:37
7. "Where the Spirits Tread" — 6:27
8. "Dead Weight" — 6:09
9. "Drying Mouths (In a Gasping Land)" — 7:08
10. "Providence" — 7:27

(Check out this exciting band's official website here)

--Nickolas Cook

Steve Roach-- Immersion: One (2007)

Steve Roach is, for my money, the king of pure ambient soundscaping. This is the first in his famous Immersion series and there's a good reason why they're called the Immersion albums. Listening to them is, quite literally, like being aurally immersed in a sensual soundscape that pulls you under its ethereal waves and pulses.
If this doesn't put you into a state of deep concentration and set your imagination free to roam the swirling depths of your consciousness, then you might be on crack. Highly recommended for shutting out the world for an hour and fifteen minutes. But be sure to use good earbuds for the total aural expreience. It will stretch you wide and far.

(Steve Roach maintains a great website for listening samples and purchasing his entire discography:

--Nickolas Cook

Lush-- Spooky (1992)

Lush's Spooky is an ear-pleasing mixture of the ethereal and sinister, with gorgeous cascades of shimmering guitar and thumping, driving basslines, from one of the 'shoegazer' school of music's greatest groups--and, God, how I miss that particular musical movement. Quite simply no one could harmonize like these shoegazer angels, Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, two of the most beautiful rockers I've ever seen. By the mid-90s, Lush was right on the cusp of huge fame and fortune, and then their longtime drummer, Chris Acland, hanged himself in his parents' home, leaving the band in despair. Their official dissolution was almost immediate.
Spooky remains for me their most impressive work, the culmination of what the 'shoegazers' were all about and a sort of soundtrack for my 20s.

1. "Stray" 2:07
2. "Nothing Natural" 5:54
3. "Tiny Smiles" 4:26
4. "Covert" 3:34
5. "Ocean" 4:49
6. "For Love" 3:29
7. "Superblast!" 4:07
8. "Untogether" 3:33
9. "Fantasy" 4:27
10. "Take" 3:28
11. "Laura" 3:22
12. "Monochrome" 5:05

(For those who want to relive the old 'shoegazer' days with members of LUSH, visit this officially sanctioned website: LIGHT FROM A DEAD STAR)

--Nickolas Cook

Muse-- The Resistance (2009)

With a running thematic core of revolution, politically and spiritually, they manage to create not only one of the most lyrically relevant albums of 2009, but also musically. These guys clearly are more than just an alt-rock band of the first order. They're on a mission. The sonic soundscaping they achieve is nothing short of amazing, a unique admixture of rock, electronica elements and pure classical phrasing, using piano and full orchestra. They've even managed to write a three-part symphony called 'Exogenesis' that's just beautiful. This is a must own album for music lovers.

1. "Uprising" 5:03
2. "Resistance" 5:46
3. "Undisclosed Desires" 3:56
4. "United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage)" 5:47
5. "Guiding Light" 4:13
6. "Unnatural Selection" 6:54
7. "MK Ultra" 4:06
8. "I Belong to You (+Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix)" 5:38
9. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)" 4:18
10. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 2 (Cross-Pollination)" 3:56
11. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)" 4:37

(Check out MUSE's Official Website here for details on tour dates and news)

--Nickolas Cook

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Otis Redding-- The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (1965)

By this, his 2nd album, Redding was already considered the most exciting new voice in Southern soul music. With his trademark soulfully rough tone and his ability to make even previously revered classics by such masters as Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson his own, this soul classic leaves no doubt why he was worshipped in his time as the GREAT! Otis Redding. If you have two good ears and a soul and have never heard this album, shame on you. Get it and play it with the lights turned down low and with someone you love. Then go out and get the rest of his albums and teach others the importance and almost forgotten value of American soul music.

1. "That's How Strong My Love Is" 2:24
2. "Chained and Bound" 2:25
3. "A Woman, a Lover, a Friend" 3:18
4. "Your One and Only Man" 2:48
5. "Nothing Can Change This Love" 2:59
6. "It's Too Late" 3:00
7. "For Your Precious Love" 2:49
8. "I Want to Thank You" 2:35
9. "Come to Me" 2:38
10. "Home in Your Heart" 2:10
11. "Keep Your Arms Around Me" 2:46
12. "Mr. Pitiful" 2:26

(Yes, Otis is dead, but his legacy lives on at this great little website filled with merchandise, music and memories:

--Nickolas (SOUL MAN) Cook

Catherine Wheel-- Ferment (1992)

Catherine Wheel's 1992 debut album, Ferment, was a magic sounding album! This thing epitomizes for me (along with a handful of other great albums) the damned exciting potential of the 90s alternative music scene. It is a legendary shoegazer classic. At times Ferment's sound is a sonic wall of thick fuzziness and at others, there are moments of crystalline beauty. An album like Ferment comes along very rarely. Not a bad or indifferent track on it. With hit songs like Black Metallic and I Want To Touch You, this should be in the music collection of any serious devotee of the alt-90 sound. It's like a melancholic freeze frame of what could be, before the greed heads decided to place their formidable weight behind the push for what they wanted alt music to sound like. In short, before the douchebags ruined probably the most exciting time in music since the 70s psychedelic movement. All in all, Ferment is a great representation of that time in music history when anything seemed possible and music had the power to create revolutions.

1. "Texture" – 4:19
2. "I Want to Touch You" – 4:40
3. "Black Metallic" – 7:18
4. "Indigo Is Blue" – 5:31
5. "She's My Friend" – 4:16
6. "Shallow" – 3:28
7. "Ferment" – 5:10
8. "Flower to Hide" – 4:43
9. "Tumbledown" – 4:08
10. "Bill and Ben" – 4:09
11. "Salt" – 5:26
12. "Balloon" – 3:56

(Although The Catherine Wheel have disbanded, lead singer Rob Dickinson has a wonderful MySpace page to check out:

--Nickolas Cook

The Cocteau Twins-- Milk and Kisses (1996)

Still one of my favorites by the masters of the ethereal shoegaze movement. Elizabeth Fraser's angelic and rapturous voice just dances like shimmering light through the swirling jangle of Robin Guthrie's guitar. An album full of complexly melancholic beauty. Both soul stirring and ambient, a truly potent combination after midnight in the desert. Music made for full moons and chill wind and the distant call of coyotes out in the ice colored arid wasteland valley. If you want to build a great shoegaze collection, this is one you MUST own.

1. "Violaine" – 3:45
2. "Serpentskirt" – 3:57
3. "Tishbite" – 3:50
4. "Half-Gifts" – 4:18
5. "Calfskin Smack" – 4:58
6. "Rilkean Heart" – 4:02
7. "Ups" – 3:34
8. "Eperdu" – 4:38
9. "Treasure Hiding" – 4:55
10. "Seekers Who Are Lovers" – 4:45

(Get all the latest news and updates on their website:

--Nickolas Cook

Deftones-- Diamond Eyes (2010)

Review written by Steven M. Duarte

The Deftones have gone through a lot since they last released Saturday Night Wrist in 2006. They were originally working on a concept album titled Eros. They had a majority of the work done on the album before tragedy struck the band. The bands bassist Chi Cheng was in an automobile accident which left him near death. At the time his status was unknown and the band went on a short hiatus. This occurred in 2008 and while Cheng is still comatose his condition is considered to be stable. The band felt that they could not use what was created with Eros and decided to start on new material. Thus we now have Diamond Eyes with former Quicksand bassist taking over for Cheng.
Diamond Eyes is very much a Deftones album. Much heavier than Saturday Night Wrist Eyes reminds us of the heavy sound they came out with on Around the Fur and Adrenaline. The album is also a departure from the sound that came forth in White Pony which was also very much a concept album. Now don’t get me wrong I loved White Pony and was patiently waiting for Eros but there’s just something about the Deftones and a really heavy sound that makes them who they are today.
From the very start of the album Diamond Eyes starts with the album titled track. Diamond Eyes prepares you for the heaviness that continues through the entire album. You’ve seen the Butcher is a song that is very reminiscent of a track that you might find from the White Pony sessions. The track is a slower paced melodic romp where lead singer Chino Moreno wails along with the guitar. Beauty School has a Lincoln Park vibe going on with the start of a hip hop beat which then goes into a slower paced rock ballad.
There’s no denying that Chino Moreno is a vocalist in his own category. Chino has always had an awesome unique voice that simply cannot be imitated. The only other vocalist in rock who has a better voice would be Maynard of Tool. It was only appropriate that they did a song together on White Pony called. If you’re new to Deftones this would be an excellent album to start off with. For Deftones fans you’re in for a real treat as you reminisce about the good old days when Deftones first started and Korn was still a good band.

Track List
1. "Diamond Eyes" – 3:08
2. "Royal" – 3:32
3. "CMND/CTRL" – 2:25
4. "You've Seen the Butcher" – 3:31
5. "Beauty School" – 4:47
6. "Prince" – 3:36
7. "Rocket Skates" – 4:14
8. "Sextape" – 4:01
9. "Risk" – 3:38
10. "976–EVIL" – 4:32
11. "This Place Is Death" – 3:40

(Check out tour and news on their website:

--Steven M. Duarte

Gorillaz-- Plastic Beach (2010)

Review written by Steven M. Duarte

My favorite animated band, the Gorillaz is back with a follow up to their multi-platinum Grammy award-winning album Demon Days. It was after the release of Demon Days that lead singer Damon Albarn stated there would not be any new Gorillaz releases. Well fast forward to 2010 and Albarns words were not true as the Gorillaz return with more pop/hip hop goodness.
Demon Days is a very tough act to follow. Pretty much every track on demon days is really good or at least decent which allows for multiple listenings with no track skipping from start to finish. I had very high hopes for Plastic Beach as I expect an album that will either match or surpasses Demon Days.
Well good news is the album matches the greatness that is Demon Days. Bad news is it just barely matches its predecessor. Anytime I review a group that I personally enjoy I always hold them to a higher standard than a group I may only listen to from time to time. So what issues did I have with the album?
For starters one of the guest vocalists that Gorillaz have included on Plastic Beach is none other than the Doggfather himself Snoop Dogg. While I don’t dislike Snoop I do feel that he is a bit out of place for the Gorillaz. The Gorillaz have always had a hip hop vibe and have shown this side over their previous albums. One ongoing theme they have had in the past is featuring either true hip hop or indie rappers. They have never really had any mainstream rappers in the past. De La Soul has worked with them before but I consider them more indie and more true hip hop. Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach featuring Snoop just doesn’t feel like it should be on a Gorillaz album.
On the plus side they do include the great lyricist Mos Def as well as indie rappers Bash and Kano. De La Soul also makes a return on the funky Superfast Jellyfish. Plastic Beach also makes use of Orchestra’s on White Flag and Sweepstakes. Plastic Beach incorporates a little more electronic sounds than Demon Days which results in a more techno dance sound. Some standouts on the album include Stylo, Empire Ants, Some Kind of Nature, and Rhinestone Eyes. The album begins to lose a bit of steam towards the end.
While Plastic Beach is not exactly Demon Days, it still is a very well made album and a decent effort from the Gorillaz is way better than the best effort from most other acts out right now. There are no real bad songs on the album, I just don’t think the songs are as memorable as the tracks on Demon Days.

1. Orchestral Intro
2. Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach
3. White Flag
4. Rhinestone Eyes
5. Stylo
6. Superfast Jellyfish
7. Empire Ants
8. Glitter Freeze
9. Some Kind of Nature
10. On Melancholy Hill
11. Broken
12. Sweepstakes
13. Plastic Beach
14. To Binge
15. Cloud of Unknowing
16. Pirate Jet

Visit The Gorillaz Official Website

--Steven M. Duarte

Harold Budd-- The White Arcades (2003)

Harold Budd's The White Arcades is another elegantly melancholic treasure of minimalist ambient music from one of Brian Eno's best collaborators and production studio mates. Their tear inducing work on The Pearl has been a fav of mine years, and led me to explore Budd's solo works. I found his The Room to be one of the best produced albums of ambient. And I fell in love with his music after that and went on to collect all of his albums. The White Arcades is just simply beautiful to listen to and is guaranteed to get you mellowed in short order. But be warned, as with all of Budd's music, there is a dark and forlorn thread within its weave of slow piano and broadly reverb-ed and sustained electronic soundscaping. It is music by which to swim slumber's blissful tides for a while.

1. White Arcades
2. Balthus Bemused by Color
3. Child with a Lion
4. Real Dream of Sails
5. Algebra of Darkness
6. Totems of the Red-Sleeved Warrior
7. Room
8. Coyote
9. Kiss

Visit Harold Budd’s Official Website

--Nickolas Cook

DJ Spooky (aka That Subliminal Kid)-- The Secret Song (2009)

The newest release from one of music's most exciting and mercurial artist: DJ Spooky-aka That Subliminal Kid is just as exciting as his other releases. With The Secret Song, he swings full force back towards his hiphop roots, constructing a strange combo of hardcore and triphop beats and mishmash, sprinkled liberally with all those awesome ear bending little tweaks and twitters which his diehard fans (myself included) love about his albums. One can never be bored with DJ Spooky's compositions, as he does an instrumental cover of the metal classic Dazed and Confused and then offers a blissful electro dub song and then a song rapped in Mandarin Chinese! Seriously, who else in the Western world would even think to do such? Guests artists this time around include Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and The Jungle Brothers and more. If you like the eclectic stylings of groups like The Gorillaz, you'll dig on The Secret Song.

1. Intro- The War Of Ideas
2. 5 Million Ways To Kill A CEO- feat. The Coup
3. Multiphonic- feat. Rob Swift
4. Dazed And Confused Dub- feat. The Golden Hornet Project
5. Measure By Measure- feat. George W. Bush
6. The Secret Song- feat. Jing Zhou
7. Myxamatosis
8. Where I'm At- feat. Zimbabwe Legit and Mike G. of The Jungle Brothers
9. L'Autre- feat. The Golden Hornet Project
10. Heliocentric- feat. Peter Gordon
11. Azadi (The New Complexity)- feat. Sussan Deyhim
12. Composite Refraction Drum Solo
13. Pax Per fidem- feat. Post Modern jazz Quartet
14. Iago's Lament- feat. Vijay Iyer
15. Known Unkowns- feat. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Mike Ladd
16. Salt Satyagraha- feat. Abdul Smooth
17. Point- Counterpoint
18. No Quarter- feat The Golden Hornet Project
19. Cognitiva- feat. Emah Fox , The Golden Hornet Project
20. Duality

Visit DJ Spooky’s Official Website

--Nickolas Cook

Goblin-- Collection 1975 to 1989 (1995)

This is the seminal collection from the single most important band in all of horror.
Yes, all you horrorheads, that's right: I'm talking about Goblin: Collection 1975 to 1989. And if there is a more important horror soundtrack collection in the history of horror, please let me know, cause I gotta have it!
This album is comprised of no less than 27 compositions written and performed by the Goblin boys. Everything from their lesser known works (at least lesser known here in the USA) such as Chi?, to their genre making classics such as the themes for Suspiria, Tenebre, Dawn of the Dead, Deep Red and Phenomena. There are tons of outtakes and demo tracks as well, but for us diehard Goblin lovers, it's finally getting a chance to hear the complete themes for such lesser known horror greats as The Church and Wampyre (known in the US as Martin) that makes this an indispensable album. This goes from rockin' prog tracks to ambient beauties, made up almost entirely of electro beats and keyboards.
Seriously, if you don't own this collection, can you really be that much of a horrorhead? Don't even get me started on Keith Emerson's awesome solo soundtrack work for Argento on Inferno or his weirdly sensual work for 1981's The Burning.

1. Profondo Rosso (Main Title)
2. Death Dies - M32 [Original Film Version]
3. Profondo Rosso - M15
4. Profondo Rosso - M31
5. Wampyr (Finale)
6. Chi, Pt. 1
7. Chi, Pt. 2
8. Patrick - M 32 Bis
9. Patrick - M 1
10. Patrick - M34-34 Bis-35
11. Suspiria (Main Title)
12. Via Della Droga - M 1 IV
13. Via Della Droga - M 2
14. Via Della Droga - M 6
15. Via Della Droga - 31
16. Alba Dei Morti Viventi
17. Buio Omega - M6
18. Buio Omega - M25
19. Buio Omega (Main Title)
20. St. Helen (Love Theme)
21. Contamination - M 3
22. Contamination - M 8
23. Tenebre (Main Title)
24. Bass Theme
25. Phenomena - M 12
26. Phenomena - M 15 [Alternate Version]
27. La Chiesa

Visit Goblin’s Official Website for more news and tour info

--Nickolas Cook

Calabrese III-- They Call Us Death (2010)

Review written by Steven M. Duarte

Calabrese is band that has steadily gained popularity in the states. I myself am new to their music and was excited to hear their new album “They Call Us Death.” I can happily say that I was left with a good impression of their sound and look forward to not only checking out their back catalogue but waiting for new releases from the trio.
I have always been very clear on not wanting to label how a band sounds, but if someone were to ask I would point out Calabrese’s heavy influence from Misfits, Type O Negative and even the great Ramones. They have a good sound with a touch of Rockabilly thrown in for good measure. The vocals which are handled by Jimmy and Bobby Calabrese are very reminiscent of Evil Elvis himself Glen Danzig.
Calabrese’s lyrics and sound centers on horror themes with the use of B-movie sound bites. During my many listenings of this album, I was often reminded of 70 to late 80’s era Misfits. Calabrese definitely has the sound of an evolved modern Misfits.
Many of the songs found on They Call Us Death are very catchy tunes. Calabrese does a fine job of creating catchy tunes without having each one sound the same. Too often bands come up with hooks that just sound too damn similar. It can sometimes sound like your listening to one long song. Two of my favorite tracks from the album include the title track “They Call Us Death,” and “Black Anathema.”
“They Call Us Death,” is an album that grabbed my attention and appealed to both my horror and metal side. Calabrese is a band to look out for in 2010 so do yourself a favor and buy “They Call Us Death,” to share in the nightmare that is Calabrese.

Track List:
01. They Call Us Death
02. Black Anathema
03. Deep in The Red
04. Near Twilight
05. Blood of the Wolf
06. Within the Abyss
07. Venomwolf
08. Summon the Beyond
09. Violet Hellfire
10. The Machine of Instant Death
11. Endless Night
12. Loveless God

Check out their official YouTube Channel for interviews, videos and other special reports:

(Visit Calabrese here)

--Steven M. Duarte