Friday, November 30, 2007

Review: Van Morrison - Still on Top - The Greatest Hits

Label: Exile Productions Ltd.

Released: November 6, 2007

In over 40 years of performing, Van Morrison has released records on a variety of labels. Until now, there has apparently not been a best of culled from his entire catalog. Still on Top is a single volume anthology of Van the Man's hits ranging from his time in the mid-60s with Them up to 2005's Magic Time. As such, it is a bit inconsistent as were the times.

The album is organized chronologically and while that isn't terribly creative, it avoids the trap of using some indecipherable organization into which so many anthologies fall. Without a doubt, the best material on the album comes early. There are no surprises in the track selection other than the absence of a few favorites like "Into the Mystic." The first batch of songs ends in 1973 and the next picks up in 1978. A lot changed in those intervening years, for Morrison and music in general. He still sounds great, but the songs, both the writing and arranging, date themselves, making that period, which runs up into the late 80s, his weakest. Morrison did return to form in the 90s and 00s and happily some of that is reflected on this collection, providing a strong finish.

Because it's only a single disc, there are plenty of great songs left out and because it tries to be career-spanning, there are some weaker ones included. However, this isn't some hack stumbling his way through the material, the is Van Morrison. So while there is a lull in the middle, it's largely only because he's reached deep into his soul for so many of the songs on either side.

Rating: 7/10



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Review: Paris Luna - City Lights

Label: Severe Records

Released: December 4, 2007

A superficial reaction to Paris Luna's City Lights might be to dismiss it as light folk rock. While it does have a few nods to bands best left forgotten like America, there is more behind it. Over the course of the album, Paris dabbles in folky pop, bluesy rock, light funk and soul as vehicles for her rich voice. That alone isn't going to sell anyone on this album though. The thing that makes it stand out is that while she sounds a bit like Natalie Merchant, she feels more like Chrissie Hynde. What does that mean, you ask? It means that her voice is technically strong, but more importantly, she has the ability to sing to you and not just at you. She has the ability to cross gender barriers and touch everyone. She makes her songs personal, not just to her, but to her audience as well.

She does make the all too common mistake of re-writing "Sweet Jane" on "Someday," her voice tends to call 10,000 Maniacs to mind a bit too often and she occasionally sounds like she could be an opener at a Dave Matthews show, but she also dabbles in Tom Petty and occasionally even conjures up the ghost of Zeppelin III (or at least the Black Crowes). The band's playing is generally sparse though bright and clear, but their purpose is clearly to support and they do that well. While her tendency toward breeze rock might be disconcerting at times, she always manages to dispel that lightness when her earthy voice reaches right out of the song.

Rating: 6/10



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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Review: Gang Green - You Got It, Older...Budweiser, Can't Live Without It

Label: Metal Mind Productions

Re-issued: 2007

Metal Mind Productions has recently re-issued Gang Green's Roadrunner catalog on limited edition CDs. While this period may be just past their prime (1985's Another Wasted Night), they still find Gang Green in high gear. You Got It is a lot closer to its predecessor than I remembered and it remains one of the best albums in the skate rock sub-genre. 1989's Older...Budweiser finds the band drifting a little further down the metal path, but not to the point of being bloated and lethargic as many punk-cum-metal outfits had. The bonus tracks are none other that the hilariously-titled Van Halen parody, I81B4U EP. The only trouble is that it fits better with the punk-oriented You Got It, but that's just a minor complaint. Can't Live Without It, their 1990 live album and their last release for Roadrunner, was a first time listen for me and it reminded me of why I regret never having seen Gang Green live. All of their wild rebellious fun is captured here in all its glory. The album errs on the side of energy rather than quality, but I can't imagine anyone who would want it otherwise.

These three re-issues are a reminder of a band that may have been lost in the historical shuffle over the years, but not so easily forgotten by punks and skaters who grew up in the 80s. Gang Green should have no trouble resonating with a new generation of kids as, for better of worse, punk, skateboarding, beer, anger and fun seem to be as popular as ever.

You Got It - 8/10
Older...Budweiser - 6/10
Can't Live Without It - 7/10



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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review: Led Zeppelin - Mothership


Released: November 13, 2007

Is there really such a thing as a comprehensive Led Zeppelin box? Yeah, it's nine discs and includes I, II, III, IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti, Presence and In Through the Out Door in their entirety (I think we can let Coda and The Song Remains the Same slide). Of course that's the whole studio catalog, but it's pretty much all essential. I suppose, if forced at gunpoint, I could narrow it down to seven discs (the first five albums, the one great album's worth on Physical Graffiti and the best tracks from the final two releases), but to narrow it down to a double CD is ludicrous. Just looking at the track listing, I notice immediately that my two favorite Zeppelin tunes ("Tangerine" and "Out on the Tiles") are absent. Of course, I can't exactly figure out what I'd remove to make space for them though, because everything here is essential, the collection is just woefully incomplete.

Having established that Mothership falls well short of what would make up an essential Zeppelin collection, I do want to note that two things were really done right. First, the remastering (under the watchful eye of the three living members) is very good. I've been listening to these on vinyl, so this may be a step down for me, but for those who've spent their days listening to Zeppelin on CD, Mothership should prove to be a richer experience. Second, the package is beautiful and over ten pages of liner notes from David Fricke certainly adds value.

In addition to the regular two CD set, there is a limited edition set that also includes a DVD with a collection of live videos. The footage is decent and the performances are strong, but it is marred by the insertion of stills and cheap effects that interrupt the raw power of Zeppelin's performances. Still, the limited edition is only $5 more, making it a no brainer if you plan to pick up a copy of Mothership.

Rating: How do I rate this? The music is clearly 10/10 and while the package is a nice one, it isn't essential since you already own all the albums. You do have them all, don't you?



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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

RIP: Kevin DuBrow

I'm not good at writing these things, because I so hate the dishonesty of sentimentality that I end up giving dead people a hard time rather than a break. However, I did read two fitting tributes to the colorful Quiet Riot singer. Metal Mark's tribute takes an honest look at DuBrow's public self and Ray's is a little more personal. Both avoid being overly sentimental and dishonest and, in the end, do more justice to DuBrow's life than absurd "things won't be the same without you" statements.

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Queensryche Contest Winner

Taotechuck is the winner of the Queensryche - Take Cover giveaway with this definition for Queensryche:

queens • rÿche (kwēnz rīk) v.
1. To act in a cold and emotionless manner. The girl finally mustered the nerve to speak to the odd-looking man in the Gold's Gym t-shirt, but she was devastated when he queensrÿched her.
2. To place unnecessary umlauts in a word. Your parents totally queensrÿched you, Böb.

He even put in the extra effort to include the umlauts.


Review: Lizzy Borden - Appointment with Death

Label: Metal Blade Records

Released: October 2, 2007

When I saw that Lizzy Borden had a new album coming out, I had mixed expectations. While I liked several of their early albums despite the silly theatrics, I began to lose interest in the late 80s and didn't even pay attention to their thin output over the last 17 or so years. Face it, odds are that a band who faded out of their prime and then had huge recording gaps in their catalog isn't going to put together anything all that exciting. Still, I had some hope and that hope was rewarded with Appointment with Death.

This is the first Lizzy Borden album in seven years (unless you count the Starwood album from 2004) and all I know is they must've been resting up for this one, because it flat out rocks with a nearly live energy. It isn't without its flash, especially some of the Maiden-esque dual guitar leads and Lizzy's still strong voice, but none of that feels gratuitous as it does with so many metal artists. While a lot of metal has become more angular, only using melody to counter dissonance and crunch, Lizzy Borden walks the fine line between metal heaviness and hard rock melody. With little exception, it is an 80s metal album, yet the band's enthusiasm keeps it from feeling old.

While it's solid, it may not brilliant musically and it certainly is not brilliant lyrically. The album's theme obviously revolves around death which is frankly rather silly. However, despite its attempt to bare Lizzy's dark side, it's more fun than anything else. There's no doubt that it's a one-dimensional album, but the band does thrive in that dimension. It's unusual for an album to not offer anything new and still be worthwhile, but Lizzy Borden has served up an exception with Appointment with Death.

Rating: 7/10



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Review: DJ Axel - Breakin' the Law

Label: Holden Records

Released: 2007

There is no real question that mash-ups are a novelty. Unlike a song that merely contains samples, a mash-up relies strictly on the strength of the songs that are colliding. True, there is some talent to hearing that two songs will work together and then mixing them into one. However, the result is never greater than the sum of it's parts. In fact, it seldom results in something that equals the quality of even one of its parts. Still, if the tunes going into the mix are good and it isn't forced, the result can extract a little bit of extra fun. DJ Axel doesn't nail all that he attempts, but he gets enough of them to make Breakin' the Law better than the average novelty album.

I don't think anyone would be surprised that Queen's foray into disco could work with Clipse on "Another One Bites the Last Time." Likewise, it's no shock that Bob Marley and Lupe Fiasco can find common ground with "Could You Be Kicked, Pushed & Loved." A little more surprising is Dj Axel's marriage of Jay-Z with GnR on "Guns N' Hovas" which actually adds a healthy dose of energy to Jay-Z's generally dull delivery.

Since fun is really the name of the game with this light fare, the best track here is "Control Myself After Midnight." As if it wasn't enough of a good time to get Judas Priest, LL Cool J and J Lo on the same page, DJ Axel also throws in a few samples from the hilarious cult classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Along with "Shorty Wanna Feelgood," which brings Motley Crue and G-Unit together, Axel demonstrates that he actually has some real love for metal (even if it doesn't go into any deep cuts). He has sufficient understanding to weave it in rather than simply throwing a few guitar riffs at a hip-hop song.

A few fail to bring the two songs together. "Lil' Brick House" is sometimes the Commodores and sometimes Lil' Kim, but never truly both. "What You Know About Drop Dead Legs" is never the hip-hop Van Halen that it should be and I certainly hoped for more when Peggy Lee met Ludacris on "Stand Up Fever." The difference between this and most mash-ups though is that falling short isn't the rule. While none really expands on anything the original tracks offer, they do succeed in bringing the songs together for a novel good time.

Rating: 6/10



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Monday, November 26, 2007

Interview: Towers of Hanoi

Gainesville, Florida's Towers of Hanoi recently unleashed their third release upon us and Paranoia for the New Year is a shining example of what post-hardcore can be even while being brought down to earth by simple hard rock influences. It's the kind of album that makes you wonder, "Whoa, how did they do that?" In an effort to find out, I was able to get this interview with their guitarist, Travis.

RnRnMN: Your music seems to bring together two disparate genres: hard rock and post-hardcore. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of each and how do you bring them together? Was that the intention or a happy accident?

Travis: The line between post-hardcore and hard rock was never something we consciously drew. It's been more a matter of trying to write songs that get a certain feeling across rather than tap a certain genre. Parts of our music that would probably be called post-hardcore usually boil down to riffs we've written that make use of a lot of melody while still trying to fill in the rhythmic gaps since we only have one guitar. A lot of the harder rock parts are really just us trying to get a certain heaviness across while still playing rock & roll. We usually try to put things together as a band, so a lot of what happens in our songs boils down to spontaneous ideas thrown together at practice.

RnRnMN: How do your influences play into that sound?

Travis: We listen to a lot of different bands and different kinds of music. Sometimes we'll run a band or album we like into the ground to the point where we can't listen to it anymore. That's when elements ofthat sound start usually start showing up in our music. We never deliberately try to rip anybody off, but it's only natural to incorporate elements of the music you love into your songwriting. We bounce back and forth between bands and genres a lot, which is a good thing because it provides new sources of inspiration and keeps you from narrowing into a specific sound too much.

RnRnMN: Your previous album, Black Feathers, was a concept album. Paranoia for the New Year seems to work as a single unit, but I didn't catch a specific concept. Was there any specific concept for this album? What do you think gives it its continuity?

Travis: Paranoia For The New Year wasn't ever really intended to be a concept album lyrically, but we did have a very definite idea about the sound we were going after at the time we started recording, which probably makes it our most consistent sounding record to date. Black Feathers was sort of born out of chaos in the studio, and while it has some very concrete lyrical themes, it's less composed from a musical perspective. PFTNY took us 2 years to write, so we had a lot of time to kick around the songs and figure out what we thought would work together musically and lyrically. We learned a lot from our previous time spent in the studio in regard to how to get the sound we wanted for this record, and the recording of the core of the album was done in about two days. From a lyrical context it's a more open-ended record, but it does contain some basic elements of doomy-ness, which are inspired by a combination of the general affect in America today as well as repeated listenings to albums like Over The Edge by The Wipers.

RnRnMN: I know that at least some of you have other projects that you work on. Does that help or hinder the progress of Towers of Hanoi?

Travis: We think it's a good thing. It's pretty standard in Gainesville to be in at least a few bands. Towers doesn't really have any kind of schedule attached to it, so members being on the road certain parts of the year isn't really an issue. Playing in more than one band helps boost your creativity as a musician, which is a positive, and it's also nice having our records spread around the country a few times a year rather than just once for a two-week tour.

RnRnMN: Gainesville seems to be a pretty fertile spot for punk rock, with a lot of bands pushing the envelope creatively while remaining in touch with the raw roots of rock n roll. What do you think contributes to the scene producing so much good music? What is your role in this?

Travis: We've lived in Gainesville for a long time, and it's been awesome watching the music scene here grow over the years. There were a lot of great bands that played around town back when the Hardback Cafe was in full swing in the mid to late 90's, and then things settled down some when the Hardback closed. Growing up and watching those bands play made a big impact on a lot of people who were hear to see it, and when new bars opened up to provide a space for live music to thrive again, all of the inertia from those previous bands helped push music here to a new level. We've been playing around Gainesville for almost five years now, and we've made a lot of great friends in the process. These days, the scene here has reached a new peak with the combination of all the great bands, The Fest, No Idea, and great up-and-coming labels like Barracuda Sound.

RnRnMN: Aside form your records not going gold, what's wrong with music today? What's right?

Travis: Whati's wrong is there's not enough emphasis on the musical side of music. Kids growing up in the mainstream these days are surrounded by manufactured images of artists and aren't getting any exposure to what making real music is actually about. It's always been this way to a certain degree, but it seems worse today. It seems like records are looked at as something people don't want to pay for anymore, so to make a living as an artist, you have to tour constantly. What's right, is a lot of artists seem to be taking control of their careers and removing major labels that take advantage of them out of the equation. There's a bigger pool of independent bands today than ever before, and the upside of the internet is it allows people from all over the world to hear your music, which is pretty huge.

RnRnMN: Pick your favorite between:

The Beatles versus the Stones

Travis: Stones, pure rock & roll.

Sex Pistols versus the Clash

Travis: The Clash, a real band with real ideals

Fugazi versus Hot Water Music

Travis: Hot Water Music, Gainesville representin'

Hank Williams versus Johnny Cash

Travis: Hank, he's the grandfather...

Iron Maiden versus Black Sabbath

Travis: Sabbath Boody Sabbath...amen

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Myspace: Leagues

Leagues is a two-man show featuring Prize Country's Aaron Blanchard on guitar and bass and Andrew Gormley on drums. Leagues takes a more fluid and layered approach than Prize Country, but are by no means lighter. They express an interest in scoring films and that seems like a logical goal as their music is made up of anything but encapsulated pop songs. These are textured mood pieces that run the gamut from quiet and introspective to loud and manic. If these tunes end up in a film, I'd love to see it, because it'd have to be a real freak out.


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Review: Cheater Pint - Dark Side of the Pint

Label: Kinger Recordings

Released: September 11, 2007

Considering the album cover, a not-so-clever Pink Floyd parody, I had relatively low expectations for Cheater Pint. It didn't take long for the music to change that though. Cheater Pint play raw tunes that at times conjure up images of X, the Replacements, the Ramones, Cheap Trick and late-Angry Samoans even. The common denominator is that all of these influences strip away the pretensions of more complex bands, exposing honest what-you-see-is-what-get music.

The simple melodies are delivered with an edge that is engaging and even angry at times, but never bitter. The musicianship isn't what comes from a book or a school, but from playing together and knowing each other and its loose ramblings must work even better live. Like the cover implies, there's a drunken, devil-may-care nature to Dark Side of the Pint, but while that's often shakey ground, Cheater Pint manages to stay on solid footing throughout. This isn't an album that will change the face of rock music, but it may just remind you of why you started listening in the first place.

Rating: 7/10



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Review: Queensryche - Take Cover

Label: Rhino

Released: November 13, 2007

A cover here and there isn't a bad thing and often playing covers helps a band know itself. But there's a big difference between the occasional cover that pops up on an album or a live set and releasing a whole album of someone else's songs. This trend, similar to the current trend of Hollywood remakes, made me fear for the creative future of rock n roll until I realized that the bands making these albums are generally those whose creative force have either never been strong or are so far in the past that they may just as well not have existed. While most who can take honest stock of Queensryche today would argue that they are the latter, I tend to think of them as a band who was, despite a good deal of technical prowess, not all that interesting in the first place.

Needless to say, I didn't expect Take Cover to be very compelling and it wasn't. The covers on this album range from uninteresting to unlistenable. Of all the tracks, I suspected a band as emotionally crippled as Queensryche had the best shot at success with the deliberate coldness of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine." Instead of allowing their weaknesses to work as a strength, they feebly attempt to make it emotional. Of course, they fail, but success wouldn't have been much better. It's as if they never understood the song in the first place.

When I saw "For What It's Worth" on the track list, I was surprised, but Queensryche did kind of fancy themselves social commentators. Unlike Buffalo Springfield though, they failed to recognize that love is a big part of social protest and their cover doesn't have a drop of it. In most cases, I'm pleased when a band tries to add their own flair to the interpretation, but there's one caveat: the change has to work. This one doesn't. A band with all the political import of the Candyskins was able to move me more with their lite jangle pop version.

They go on to rob "For the Love of Money" of its groove (it's sad when you're outdone by the Bullet Boys), "Innuendo" of its power (Geoff Tate is a sad excuse for Freddie Mercury and he's closer than any of his band mates are to their counterparts in Queen), "Synchronicity II" of its urgency (did they read that one right off of the sheet music?) and "Red Rain" of its poignancy (I didn't think it was possible not to be moved by that song). I don't think I can even bring myself to talk about their misdeeds on "Bullet the Blue Sky," but it certainly would have been bad enough without extending it past 10 minutes. Were they being serious with that one or was it supposed to be funny? Even though I couldn't bring myself to laugh, I hope comedy was their goal.

The bottom line is that a good cover should do more than just a reinterpret the music. It should show an understanding and, more importantly, a love for the song. Either Queensryche doesn't love the songs on Take Cover or they are completely incapable of conveying their love. Either way, this album is a failure even among all the failures that make up this sad new convention practiced by bands that are desperately trying to show their relevance.

Rating: 1/10

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One Sentence Review: Queensrÿche - Take Cover

Listening to Take Cover reminds me that the word "good" cannot be made from the letters in "Queensrÿche," but the word "cheesÿ" can.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Review: Greenleaf - Agents of Ahriman

Label: Small Stone Records

Released: June 11. 2007

Despite all of its tackiness, the 70s seem to have provided quite a well to which bands seem to return again and again, some for a small drink before moving on and others for their very sustenance. Sweden's Greenleaf is among the latter group.

Stoner bands and their 70s hard rock influence may seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days, but while Greenleaf is among them, they stand just enough taller to be worth noting over many of the others. They do tap into the rich riff-laden grooves of early Wishbone Ash and fill out their sound with some heavy organ in the Deep Purple mold. Often the basic but catchy riffs are reminiscent of Ace Frehley. They even have that Zeppelin-like ability to push rather than punch. All of this would only add up to so much though if they were just a mix of the best 70s hard rock had to offer, but Greenleaf offers more. They have filtered the 70s through their own eyes, giving it their younger, hungrier excitement. Unlike their influences, they haven't become big and bloated and they offer a glimpse into perhaps what some of the great rock acts of the 70s were like before they signed their big contracts.

Greenleaf do not go down the road of extensive digital effects that plagues so many bands today. Instead they rely on the rich, full sounds of the old analog equipment. Not only does this tie into their retro leanings, it also helps beef up their sound. Their vintage sound with a youthful energy moves smoothly from bold to subtle and their quieter sections never feel like they're taking a break so much as laying plans for the passages to come. A superficial listen might assume that Greenleaf is merely a revival, but they're actually very much a modern band with an appreciation not for the past as a whole, but for the best the past has to offer.

Rating: 8/10


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Monday, November 19, 2007

Contest: Queensryche - Take Cover

I have a copy of Queensryche's new covers collection, cleverly titled Take Cover, for giveaway. I'll send it to the person who has the best definition for what a queensryche actually is. The best answer might be serious or it might be funny, who's to say. Go ahead and post your answers in the comments and I'll choose a winner on Monday, November 26. Check back to see if you're the winner, because I'll need to get contact info from you.

I'll have a review posted soon, so check back if you're interested.

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Live: Niki Barr Band, Action Action, The Cult

November 12, 2007, Rams Head Live!, Baltimore Maryland

Surprises at a show are a mixed bag. Most often they're of the unpleasant sort when the band you go to see doesn't live up to your (often over-hyped) expectation. Every now and then though, there's a good one. On Monday night at Rams Head Live, I got three of them.

The opening act was the local Niki Barr Band. Most small bands would play this opportunity safe. It seems so seldom that a local band throws caution to the wind and goes all out in the shadow of a headliner with the Cult's stature. Surprise #1: Niki and company played their all too short set as though they were the main attraction. Their performance had that intangible strength that comes from confidence. It wasn't the songs themselves so much as how they dug deep to play them. Their infectious energy didn't go unnoticed: The next day, they were invited to join the tour for two more dates in Buffalo and Indianapolis.

Next up was New York's Action Action and their angular neo-new wave. This is a fairly overloaded genre right now, but theirs is a better than average take on it. They didn't get bogged down in the synth parts (even though each band member contributed his share of electronic accents) and had a particular knack for smoothing out the right edges at the right time with nice melodic riffs. That being said, their performance was safe and planned even to the extent that they took a Jagermeister break served by a pair of over-sexy young women. I know that's the tour sponsor, but I didn't go to the show for a commercial break and any inroads Action Action had made with me were largely undone at that point. As the set moved into the its final song, I was left feeling pretty empty. Good music just doesn't amount to much live without at least a little heart. Surprise #2: Instead of limping across the finish line as I was expecting at this point, Action Action instead lived up tho their name and then some. The song rose in manic intensity as it went on and the previously lackluster band exploded through their last minutes in front of us. I'm not sure what held them back during the rest of the set, but that final barrage made up for everything else (even the Jager commercial).

The Cult are one of those bands that I've always wanted to see, but just never have. Based on the strength of their last two albums, I had high expectations that they would not have lost much over the almost 20 years since their popularity peaked. The Cult delivered. After some minor sound adjustments, the Cult hit stride a few songs in. Their set focused on both the new album as well as their 80s peak, ignoring their 90s releases entirely (except for "The Witch" from the 1992 Cool World soundtrack). I fully expected them to be able to pull off the old tunes every bit as well as the new and they certainly didn't disappoint. Ian Asbury's voice was as powerful as ever as was his Jim Morrison impression. What's amazing is that, as contrived as it seems when talking about it, the raw power and sexuality that Astbury exudes seems natural. Likewise, Billy Duffy's mastery of every conceivable guitarist pose would seem like idotic rock star ego from just about anyone else, but Duffy turns it into a natural extension of his performance. There were no surprises in the songs themselves. The Cult was every bit as dark and mystical as their music has been at its best. "Edie (Ciao Baby)" and "She Sells Sanctuary," for instance, were every bit the surreal experiences I'd hoped they'd be. Surprise #3: What I didn't expect was how down to earth they were at the same time. Astbury engaged in enough genuine banter with the crowd to translate into a more fundamental connection than just a band on stage would ever allow. Between the regular set and the encore, they showed their video for "Tiger in the Sun" that showed the upheaval in Burma as the people struggle to free themselves from a repressive regime. I'm not fan of planned encores, but this was an impressive use the otherwise tired convention. Unfortunately, the poignant moment was largely lost on the Baltimore crowd who engaged in the typical chanting as if the band's return to the stage wasn't a forgone conclusion. The encore, "Holy Mountain" and the title track from their latest as well as the still-etched-in-our-brains "Love Removal Machine," was looser and more relaxed, but unleashed every bit as much power, providing a fitting finish to a set that moved over the crowd in waves of sonic magic. Their ability to be both otherworldly and populist, to use rock cliches without being cliched themselves and to have all power of their younger years shows that the Cult may just be a perfect rock band.

It was a night of surprises: a bold opener, a strong finish to a lackluster set and a human connection with a band of almost transcendental power. But one thing was not a surprise: The Cult still have it.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Review: Hellcity 13 - s/t

Label: Break a Leg Entertainment

Released: October 24, 2007

Going into this review, I was under the impression that Helsinki's Hellcity 13 was just another Scandanavian glam band, but unlike the rest, they don't just want to revive hair metal, they want to revive the 80s almost as a whole. There is hard rock bombast that runs throughout the album, but I thought of Dead or Alive as often as I did Def Leppard. In many ways, they are able to bring AOR, glam, goth and synth pop together into one retro package. The trouble is that this combination, as seemlessly as they pull it off, is making music out of the least common denominator. Sure, they occasionally muster up a little bit of swagger and once in awhile they might even make you want to dance, but mostly they're just a reminder that rock and pop had hit a creative low point in the 80s.

They capture the musical aspects of the Reagan-era at all levels, from the writing to the performance to the production, and for those who aren't bothered by the decade's shallow veneer, Hellcity 13 are entirely competent to help them live in the past. For those who want anything more, move along. That's as much as this album offers.

Rating: 4/10



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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Review: The Flairs - Shut Up and Drive

Label: Bad Reputation

Released: November 2007 in Europe (June 13, 2006 in North America)

The Flairs play a brand of hard rock that falls somewhere between glam and punk. Shut Up and Drive is a peppy album of chunky rhythms and snotty vocals that seldom lets up. Aside from a 3/4 female line-up, it's nothing out of the ordinary. The music falls somewhere between the Donnas and the Pandoras, but lacks the light-hearted bluster of the former and the gritty toughness of the latter. Aside from their cover of Skid Row's "18 & Life," they are entirely listenable even if uninspiring. However, the cover is poor enough to drag the whole album down a notch. It does nothing aside from regurgitate the original only without the ability to sell its contrived nature as reality. There is nothing difficult about the Flairs and once the album is playing, there's no reason to turn it off. The trouble is there's nothing compelling to come back for another listen.

Rating: 5/10



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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Review: Paul Robeson - On My Journey: Paul Robeson's Independent Recordings / Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5

Label: Smithsonian Folkways

Released: August 28, 2007 (Paul Robeson) & October 9, 2007 (Pete Seeger)

On the surface, these two albums have little in common. But I happened to put them both on my iPod, and by hearing each artist's songs randomly mixed with Primal Scream and Pedro the Lion and Picastro (it was a "p" kind of week), I heard similarities that were wonderful and surprising.

Before I get to the review, I'm going to try to encapsulate two amazing lives in one paragraph. In addition to having a voice that's as full and rich as any in history, Robeson played pro football, earned a law degree, spoke multiple languages, acted in movies, and tirelessly fought for human rights. Seeger's reedy voice may be the antithesis of Robeson's, but Seeger has the same kind of powerful mind and personality that enabled him to accomplish things that are impossible for most of us to even imagine: he attended Harvard, served in the Army, protected the environment, and tirelessly fought for human rights. (Ironically, both men lost their own rights when they were blacklisted by the U.S. government during McCarthy's Red scare.)

They traveled in some of the same circles, so similarities in their music aren't that surprising. What's really interesting is the biggest difference between the two albums. Paul Robeson sounds like he's singing about the people he loves, while Pete Seeger sounds as if he's singing for them.

The spirit behind Robeson's work on these recordings is incredible and inspirational. Every song was recorded while he was blacklisted and unable to either work or leave the country. Each recording testifies to the strength of Robeson's conviction and character. But there's a problem. On nearly every performance, Robeson is accompanied by a talented, classically trained pianist. That would be fine if these were songs for concert halls and parlors, but most of these songs are about desperate and faithful people who struggled in the fields and fought in the streets. While Robeson's life at this time surely contained amazing amounts of both desperation and faith, the music here reflects very little of that.

The single exception is "Hammer Song," which was recorded in 1957 with Sonny Terry on harmonica and Brownie McGhee on guitar. Like all musicians who played with Robeson while he was blacklisted, Terry and McGhee ran the risk of losing their right to work in the music industry, but they wanted to make music with Robeson. And on this song, the only one that belongs in the bright daylight of the outdoors rather than the twilight glow of an Upper East Side mansion, Robeson made music whose passion shines.

Compared to Robeson, Seeger's voice is... well, it's awful. (That's not fair, of course, because pretty much everyone's voice is awful when compared to Robeson.) But the man has passion. Every song on the disc -- most of which are just Seeger and his banjo -- could've been recorded under a tree with a bunch of kids, outside a California farm with a crew of laborers, at a peace march in the South, or even in the twilight glow of an Upper East Side mansion. Seeger's performances exclude no one. He reaches out to every single person within singing range, and invites them to come hear some music.

American Favorite Ballads Vol. 5 is the last in a series of expanded CD re-issues of some of the most popular albums that Seeger recorded for Folkways between 1957 and 1962. Most of these songs focus on the American frontier, and they embrace everything from class war anger to drunken desperation. No matter how dreary the subject matter, though, Seeger is a masterful storyteller whose lighthearted touch provides balance to the often dark music.

Both On My Journey: Paul Robeson's Independent Recordings and American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5 have an enormous amount of heart, but Robeson -- intentionally or not -- erected a barrier of intellectualism and refinement around his music. Seeger is the one who reaches his hand out and invites you to come in for a listen, no matter who you are or what you know.

Paul Robeson, On My Journey: Paul Robeson's Independent Recordings: 6/10
Pete Seeger, American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5: 10/10

Website (Paul Robeson)
Website (Pete Seeger)

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Monday, November 12, 2007

The White Noise Supremacists review me!

This comes from Iféoluwa B. of the White Noise Supremacists regarding my review of their EP. At least I know she read it!

Avenged Sevenfold: 7
The White Noise Supremacists: 6

I could have put out the greatest record you'd ever heard and you'd still never say so. I had to read you begrudgingly like my record and make nonsensical remarks like "The name is the best thing they've done so far." So your opinion is that the name is better than the songs on that record? A name that is only "clever" if you know the context, which has obviously gone right over your head?

And then you bash Glare because it is too "indie-singer/songwriter" and has been done too many times before. I am an indie-singer/songwriter. What should my songs sound like? Polka? But you shat on it not because it was bad or there was "anything wrong with it". But because it wasn't as innovative or original as Avenged Sevenfold.

If you hate it, hate it. If you like it, like it. But don't put down my songs just because you want to seem like you actually have an opinion. To say the name is better than the songs and then go on to refer to the songs as "pop-mastery" seems like you are more confused than you say my musical direction is.

If it were anyone else, you would have raved about this record. But for some reason, you couldn't just flat out say you liked it without needless insults. If you want to be a reviewer, review music. Honestly. If it's shit, call it so. But my EP was so much better than you made it out to be and you know it. But you're safe. So you'd never say so. Well maybe I can just listen to Avenged Sevenfold and learn from the masters. What do I think of your review? I think I wasted 2 bucks on postage.

I have to say I got a kick out of this one. It's amazing that someone so thin-skinned is risking criticism she so clearly cannot accept. I have to ask, "If you knew that your CD was so good, why did you ask for my opinion?" Maybe if she put some of this fire into the music, it would have gotten a 7.

It's a good thing that I got this feedback though, because I was starting to think I was on par with Christgau or Fricke. I figured no one had offered me a full-time professional gig, because they were afraid to like me, not because I'm an amateur writer. Yeah, right.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Review: Agnostic Front - Warriors

Label: Nuclear Blast

Released: November 6, 2007

One of the earliest NYHC bands, Agnostic Front was also one of the first to cross over into metal back in the mid 80s. The 90s found them getting away from the heavy riffs and more into the singalong Oi! that influenced hardcore in the first place. Their latest release finds them returning to their early hardcore and crossover roots.

Warriors actually finds itself somewhere between the pure hardcore of Victim in Pain and its metallic follow-up, Cause for Alarm. Despite being almost 25 years since they first got together, Miret, Stigma and company are relentless on this album. Driving rhythms, chunky power chords and Miret's now deeper growl unleash AF's positive force. Their strength is still their self-reliance which came from the streets and stays with them to this day. Production courtesy of Miret's brother, Madball vocalist Freddy Cricien is crisp without toning down the raw power.

Agnostic Front has been able to pull off just about everything they've tried over the years from hardcore to metal to Oi! without raising questions about their conviction. Warriors finds them coming full circle back to their hardcore roots with a dash of metal to account for the other side of their early sound. They do it without missing a beat.

Rating: 7/10



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Review: White Noise Supremacists - Shadows

Label: I Eat Souls Records

Released: 2006

A clever name like the White Noise Supremacists could be a blessing or a curse. If the name's that clever, how clever must the music be just to live up to it? While the name may be the best thing they've done thus far, their off-kilter rhythms and subtle melodies shouldn't be dismissed.

Their sound is rather thin, seemingly by design. Over the first three tracks, the music changes just under the conscious radar, ranging from the noise pop of My Bloody Valentine to the controlled chaos of Husker Du, all the while picking up the subtleties of the Smiths' melodies. This makes for an interesting listen and leaves the verdict out as to whether this versatility is their strength or just the result of an effort to find their voice. Starting off the second half, "Glare" lends credence to the latter explanation. There's nothing wrong with it other than the fact that it's indie singer-songwriter sound has been done too many times already. Just when WNS made me doubt though, they finish the EP up with two rather subdued rock songs whose light airy, emotive vocals are vaguely reminiscent of the Cranberries. These two tracks move around a lot more, rather than ending just where they started as the first half tracks do. "If You Go," the last of these two and the album's closer, struggles to take off as the end draws near, but their restraint creates tension that makes for their finest moment on the EP. The greatest promise of all is WNS's good sense of pop music which always seems so baffling, because it is almost pure art and not be understood so much as enjoyed.

Ultimately, Shadows asks more questions about the band than it answers, but based on its early subtlety and its late pop mastery, there's good reason for positive speculation about what's coming next.

Rating: 6/10



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Review: Prize Country - Lottery of Recognition

Label: Exigent Records

Released: 2007

Prize Country's Lottery of Recognition comes off as a mix between the post-hardcore leanings of Fugazi and the dense hardcore of Quicksand. Or perhaps as the dark side of Hot Water Music. However, you describe it, their music is simply unrelenting. Its noisiness belies the band's tightness. They are riffy, but without any of the hard rock connotations that riffy typically implies. Instead, they are as odd and angular as the Fall or Bauhaus, yet nearly as heavy as modern hardcore. A melodic undercurrent adds texture to music that seems to be bursting at the seams throughout.

Prize Country have rightly focused on anger and emotion, allowing focus to fall upon their art as a whole, not its component parts in isolation. Like so many great rock n roll albums before it, Lottery of Recognition doesn't hold anything back. It's pure visceral, angry energy.

Rating: 7/10


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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Papertrigger video

Check out this crazy cool video from Papertrigger:

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Review: Awake and Alert - Devil in a Lambskin Suit

Label: Five One

Released: September 11, 2007

Awake and Alert's music centers around Maya Peart's voice. She has great range and movement and is as dynamic and smooth as a jazz vocalist, but at the same time, her voice is down to earth as if she's singing right to you. Unlike many gifted singers, she also trusts her voice enough to let it sneak into and around the music rather than showing it off selfishly. That's what really makes Awake and Alert special. Peart's voice may be the core, but it never tries to stand alone. It works with the band and is inseparable from it.

Like the subtleties of Peart's voice, the music is surprisingly intricate when you listen closely. Blake Kimball's atmospheric echoey guitar has shades of the Edge and its interplay with the rest of the band is often delicate, but never safe. The music moves around a lot, with parts coming and going. They facilitate this by abandoning the standard verse-chorus-verse structure and instead packing a lot of music into average length songs. The various parts don't have clear boundaries, but transition smoothly, almost unnoticed. It's interesting that each great component becomes clear while something else great is occurring and they manage to fit it all in without overload.

Awake and Alert have managed to create something complex without being ponderous. If I had to peg it, it'd be indie rock, but that definition, as much of a catch-all as it is, is just too limiting. It fails to account for jazz and blues and their sheer ability to ignore barriers and go where the music takes them. It is living music that flows within itself like blood flows within the body.

Rating: 8/10



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Review: Papertrigger - Riot Lovers

Label: self-released

Released: 2007

Papertrigger's Riot Lovers EP is an odd pop record that does more than just dabble in cabaret music. It is dense and often organ-dominated with jazzy rhythms and a dark, seedy undercurrent. While they play it loose and perhaps even a bit sloppy, the album shows their innate sense of being a band instead of a group of musicians operating independently. They do tighten up a bit at times, but even the fuzzy, psychedelic guitar breaks of "Fox Hunting" don't stray outside of the album's musical motif. Any bits of polish don't constrain the album's random feel either. They are in particularly fine form as the dragging rhythms of "The Inner Party" pull on the crescendo that tries to soar as the song draws to a close. It is this tension that makes the music so vivid. As if the album wasn't a peculiar enough affair, they close with a quiet piano piece whose false ending segues into a hidden track. That little bonus sounds as though it could be straight out of a documentary about deep space. It's an finale that is about as open-ended as they come.

In a way, Riot Lovers has the same spirit as the Doors' version of "Alabama Song." Papertrigger takes a very un-rock style and make it rock in their own way, not by making it loud or throwing guitars at it, but by shaking up its core with their own quirky point-of-view.

Rating: 8/10



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Review: Long Distance Calling - Satellite Bay

Label: Viva Hate Records

Released: September 21, 2007

When dealing with any of the post-this-or-that sub-genres, you're almost always going to have music that is a challenge to even the most patient ear and largely inaccessible to most everyone else. There are, of course, exceptions and Long Distance Calling is one of them. Their strong layered approach can be spellbinding both with a quick listen or a critical ear.

Throughout Satellite Bay, Long Distance Calling creates layers ranging from ambient noise to metal crunch, varying the music by subtly adding and removing elements. The care taken in constructing their music is evident from the first track which takes five minutes to build from it's quiet beginnings to its heavy climax. A pop song is over in less time than Long Distance Calling merely sets the stage. In both the airy and the dense sections, each component seems to be encapsulated as a standalone object that is nonetheless integrated perfectly into the whole. The ambient noise, seemingly multiple layers of drums and bass, echoy and crunchy guitar layers and voice samples in lieu of traditional vocals come and go as the music swells and recedes. This approach relies very little on any but the most subtle melody.

Half way through the album, it could end without complaint, yet the two truly heavy songs are yet to come. "The Very Last Day" begins as an ominous war march that ultimately becomes a crushing heaviness and "Built Without Hands" compresses that dense sound even further. Just before the intensity becomes too much, Satellite Bay draws to a close in much the way it began.

Long Distance Calling calls on the work of a number of experimental bands, from Isis' droning weight to Explosions in the Sky's noddling expansiveness to Husker Du's controlled noise. In the end though, they've concocted these ingredients into something quite its own and that something both pushes the limits for those who would takes its path and carefully pulls along the less adventurous listener until they can't escape.

Rating: 9/10



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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Review: Steve Grimmett - Personal Crisis

Label: Metal Heaven

Released: October 26, 2007

Time changes some things, but not all. This is certainly true of Steve Grimmett. The music hasn't taken any great strides, but time has tempered his once distinctive voice. Other than an occasional hint of modern metal (and I do mean hint), Personal Crisis doesn't explore any new territory. It is a fine mix of melody, tight riffs and solid 80s heaviness that crossed the Atlantic as the NWOBHM. Grimmett's voice, which certainly had its grating moments back in the Grim Reaper days, is toned down. While it isn't quite as distinctive, it is a lot more consistent, making the album more palatable than his past work. The band is capable of reaching technical heights, but never sacrifices the whole sound for the sake of the individual spotlight. While there may not be a truly new moment on the album, there's also not a dull one either as Grimmett and company rip through almost 50 solid metal minutes. For those who relish in the heavier side of 80s metal, this should be a treat, but don't expect to hear the future, because you won't find it here.

At this point, Personal Crisis is not available in the US, so you'll have to pick up the import.

Rating: 6/10



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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beatles Charity Auction

A charitable auction, benefiting The Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, launches on eBay today at 3pm PST. The auction lot includes the Beatles’ Help! flag, bearing the classic artwork of The Beatles’ 1965 movie, a luxurious trip for two to London, England and a deluxe, limited edition Help! DVD boxed set. Beatles fans around the world can place bids now until 3pm PST on November 16, 2007, when the listing ends. All bidders will be pre-qualified through Kompolt Online Auction Agency (

In addition to becoming the proud owner of the unique flag, accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity personally signed by Ringo Starr, and a limited edition Help! boxed set, the charity auction’s top bidder and a guest will enjoy a special VIP tour of world-famous Abbey Road Studios while on holiday in London.

Visit Ebay for more information or to place a bid.

All proceeds from the charity auction will directly benefit The Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation.

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Review: The New Dress - Where Our Failures Are

Label: Red Leader Records

Released: October (?), 2007

One of the best recent trends in punk rock is the burgeoning punk/folk (or punk/roots or punk/country) movement. While this may seem to have its roots in bands like Uncle Tupelo and the Violent Femmes, that's only partially true. Bands like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb and the amazing though little known Defiance, Ohio are at the forefront, but they aren't the only game in town. The latest band to fuse punk rock not with early rock n roll, but with its deeper roots is Brooklyn's the New Dress.

While some of the other bands have become so rootsy that they will likely alienate at least some listeners, the New Dress seems to strike a happy medium between accessible pop punk and the loose ramshackle folk whose spirit and technique they capture. Where Our Failures Are features nothing but two voices, of Bill Manning and Laura Fidler, and electric guitar. The simple guitar parts and lo-fi recording fit perfectly into the discord of their vocal harmonies.

The male-female vocal trade-offs at times butt up against each other like Shane MacGowan and Kristy MacColl's "Fairytale of New York," yet at others they work together in a strange out-of-sorts harmony. The influence of early Billy Bragg is clear even before the cover of "I Don't Need This Pressure Ron" comes up. They certainly have adopted some of Bragg's phrasing and simplicity, but more importantly, they have captured his ability to write very human social commentary.

It is their old time approach that focuses on feeling rather than technique that makes this plugged-in album more traditional than many albums with all acoustic instrumentation. They aren't a copy of the past. Like the best of their peers, they have brought the essence of the past into the present.

Rating: 8/10




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Monday, November 05, 2007

Interview: Pocus Whiteface

Just based on the strength of their 7", I thought Pocus Whiteface would make a fine interview. Since they're across the ocean, we did this one via email, but each member got his two cents in.

RnRnMN: Many of the bands that you list as influences fall into the post-punk genre and I can definitely hear that in your sound. However, I also hear a looser garage sound. Where does that come from?

Joe: When i was starting out playing guitar I played a lot in my grandparents garage, so it could be that. We always played with door open to get that loose "open" sound. Although i play drums now, there's a lot feel that you learn at an early age.

Theo: Possibly from me. I didn't start the guitar until I was 20 and as such I'm a fairly loose guitarist who likes to use distortion to get around my lack of precision. Also I'm probably more heavily influenced by that sort of music when I write my bits.

Will: Probably from Theo. I need to loosen up more. But I love how Theo's great loose style often dances over the top of the bass and drum groove.

RnRnMN: There are a lot of bands out there playing both garage and post-punk influenced material. Why should someone check out Pocus Whiteface? What sets you apart?

Joe: The Songs. Non-yankee sounding vocals. We're not trying to sound like the Killers, the White Stripes, or anyone recent. There's clearly a love for our favourite bands, but the influence swirl together like some kind of delicious ice cream.

Theo: It's not a question I've ever even considered. I'd have thought what sets us apart is a spread of styles that still sound strongly of 'Pocus' and somewhat humorous take on lyrics and song structure. I think we write in a way that's quite cooperative and makes the songs much stronger.

Will: We try to keep our songs interesting. There's often something quirky going on.

RnRnMN: If you had to pick a theme for Pocus Whiteface, what would it be?

Joe: something like the theme from Minder. Upbeat but with an gritty english sound.

Theo: 'Twisted' maybe? Not in a Marilyn Manson way obviously, but I think a lot of our songs have slightly odd ideas lyrically or tend to break up a straight song with something different. I once described us as sounding like all the unlistenable bits of In Utero, though I'm not sure how true that is.

Will: Um, probably paisley.

RnRnMN: Your EP is a free download on the internet. Obviously, you didn't plan to make any money on that directly, but there must've been a plan for how it would work out. What was the plan? How did it work out?

Will: As far as I remember at the time we didn't have a plan about anything. We'd played together for a couple of months only when the
Hemrig guy contacted us about putting some songs out through his website. Seemed a great idea. We gave him the best we had at the time.
I guess they're demo takes really. There's always the option of putting newer versions of these out on a future release.

Joe: It's all good publicity. :0) It's worked out very well.

Theo: well actually I don't remember there being a plan. Shortly after we put our music up, Tim contacted us to say he had a free net label and wondered if we'd let him put 5 or 6 tracks out as an EP. I guess the main plan I had was that we'd write a lot more good songs because it would have been a bit depressing if that stuff, good as it was, was the best thing we'd ever do. And I think we've written stuff as good as the best in the EP, and better than most of it since then, so that's good. We still play three tracks from it live in almost every gig and if we had a 45 minute headline slot we'd probably play more. The plan was to have that as an early free release and then charge something for music from now on, even if only a nominal amount, and I think we're doing that okay.

RnRnMN: The 7" comes in a really nice package (heavy sleeve, nice vinyl), especially for something self-released. It seems like the opposite end of the spectrum from the internet EP. I'm guessing that you aren't making a ton on this either, but that there is also a plan. How has the 7" worked out versus the free EP?

Joe: I love the 7" - two great songs and as you say, great packaging. We sell a few at each gig and it's a change from the ubiquious CDR's.

Theo: Ah, I've probably given too many away for free to hard-up friends but we're trying to push it now so that little independent stores stock it and trying to remember to bring them to every gig if possible. I think our 'profit' on each on is in the region of 20 pence but then there are always going to be ones you give away to friends, family, labels, etc. When we made them it wasn't to make back any money. We deliberately decided we'd rather have good artwork and a heavyweight sleeve and make sure it was really worth holding on to. We wanted to put those very early songs out there and their short length made this seem like a great way to do it; if we did it again now I'm guessing we'd put Dr. Emery's First Law of Arse and Keeps You from Mine on there or something but these things take so much time from conception, recording, mastering, etc.

Will: I've always loved the packaging a record comes in. It matters. I dunno how we are financially on this one. We're trying not to give too
many away ..

RnRnMN: Do you have a full-length release planned?

Joe: We've only just started talking about it.. but yes, there will certainly be an album next year. We've got the skills to record to a decent quality now, so we've just got to record an album !

Will: Maybe. We've almost got enough material for a solid full-length. We're probably about to do another EP first though. It might then be a little while longer before we can do a really good one without reissuing tracks from either this or the first EP.

Theo: Not as yet. We could do one but we'd really need a label to do it. So until then it'll probably be EPs or strange stuff. We're planning a 10 -copy ultra-limited run of 10"s done by our friend Doug who mastered the 7". Each one would be expensive and more about the collection and art value than the music, most likely.

RnRnMN: Will's artwork on the 7" is really cool. It's actually the first thing that attracted me to check out Pocus Whiteface. Will, how does art fit in with music for you?

Will: Pretty much as I said above. Though I guess I have a lot more music as mp3 than other formats now, I love the whole package you get when you buy a record. Like you say, I've checked out several bands because I liked the artwork. Maybe it shows that the band cares more about how the music is to be received. Especially when the band is closely involved in the artwork.

RnRnMN: Looking at your gig list, it seems that you've played mostly local shows. Do you have plans to expand that with a tour? Any plans to come to the US?

Joe: I love travelling, but there's the practicality of taking extended leave from work to consider.. It's be great to do a few gig in the US though..

Will: Yeah! When we get a sponsor. Early days yet. There's so much scope for playing in London there's not been much need to play anywhere else yet .. But we'd like to start playing shows further afield certainly.

Theo: We would love to play outside of London but it's hard to find promoters and then get those promoters to put you on. We don't have a big 'buzz' around us I guess and we don't have a touring vehicle, but we do have a willingness to spend our money to achieve these things. I am going to look at organising gigs in other cities maybe but it's a lot of money to have to lose really. As to the US, well I think we'd need some big label funding that.

RnRnMN: Pick one from each pair:

The Beatles versus the Stones
Joe: phew, tough one. Love the rockier side of the Beatles. Has to be Stones though, i really grew up on them.
Will: Stooges

Iron Maiden versus Judas Priest
Joe: I never really got Judas Priest. Iron Maiden anyday, especially the first four albums..
Will: Iron Maiden (esp. Number of the Beast)

The Buzzcocks versus the Fall
Joe: the Fall.
Will: Buzzcocks. Probably.

Husker Du versus the Pixies
Joe: I'm a bigger fan of the Pixies
Will: Pixies. Though Husker Du are brilliant.

Public Enemy versus NWA
Joe: Public Enemy -they held it together for more than one album !
Will: Public Enemey

Hank Williams versus Johnny Cash
Joe: johnny cash. Fulsom Prison is such a top album...
Will: Johnny Cash

Theo: I'm goint to pick 'Public Enemy versus NWA' so I look cool...but actually 'Husker Du versus Pixies' is probably more my sort of contest, and I'd be on the side of the Pixies there. (Oh and I'd pick Public Enemy over NWA but I don't really know much more than an album and a few singles so it's a bit of a cheat.) [I realise I answered the last question wrong. But Will said to keep it that way, so I have! :D]

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Review: Patty Winters Show

Label: Vacuous Pop Recordings

Released: October 29, 2007

This two song limited edition white vinyl 7" features two songs that straddle post-punk and indie pop. "You Are Wrong" contrasts quick rhythms and grating guitar with the low-key melancholy of indie pop vocals. At times, it has shades of Joy Division, but doesn't fully tap into the cold emotion that characterized that band. "You Can't Force People to Care" sticks more to the indie side, but edgy guitar crops up almost insidiously to poke at the superficial sweetness. The second track doesn't seem to explore its musical possibilities in the way the first one does, making it consistent, but unspectacular.

Rating: 5/10



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