Friday, November 13, 2009

Review: Incite - The Slaughter

Label: I Scream Records

Released: October 20, 2009

Considering they're fronted by Max Cavalera's stepson Richie, there's probably no way that Incite can avoid comparisons to Sepultura. That has to be a bit daunting for a young band on their debut album. After all, they're going to measured against one of metal's most intense and creative bands.

Incite, however, doesn't seem to be all that intimidated. On The Slaughter, they unleash 12 tracks of untempered intensity. Overflowing with the blast beats, lightning riffs and waves of heaviness, the album never holds back. It's rhythmically dynamic, but whether the pace is explosive and blistering or slow and churning, the music's potency is undeniable.

Does Incite live up to the inevitable comparison to Sepultura? Well, no. However, their debut has the raw passion of a hungry young band. That coupled with their abundant technical skill, still makes for a fantastic record. It also makes it clear that what is now an unfair comparison may be much more equitable in the near future.

Satriani: 9/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 8/10



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Review: Kiss - Sonic Boom

Label: KISS Records

Released: October 5, 2009

Before even listening, Sonic Boom suffers from some degree of disingenuousness just because they dressed Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer up as Ace and Peter. C'mon guys, at least Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent got their own Kiss persona. And gee, the cover art looks a little familiar too.

Sonic Boom does look back fondly on the band's classic years, particularly the loose, more distilled rock n roll of their first three albums. On the surface, that probably makes it their best album in a long, long time. Even their better albums of the last 30 years have generally been nods to current musical trends, so at least now they're giving a nod to their own success. Granted, "Stand" suffers a bit much from the late 80s in the chorus and "All for the Glory" is horribly generic, but overall, Gene, Paul and their hired guns make a pretty decent Kiss cover band. Sure, even the best songs on Sonic Boom aren't quite what they wrote 30 to 35 years ago and they don't have the fire that once fueled their drive to the top, but other hard rock bands have done worse. Much worse. Still, the cover is a better rip-off of Rock and Roll Over than the music is.

The package comes with a second CD collecting 15 old tunes, mostly from their first decade. It isn't clear what purpose it serves other than to point out the band's current shortcomings. There's also a DVD from a show earlier this year in Buenos Aires, but the performance finds them going through the motions of trying to be the Kiss of old when those days are long gone. They do shoot an impressive amount of confetti into the crowd though. It kinda makes one wonder what they're trying to cover up.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 5/10
Aretha: 4/10
Overall: 5/10

If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

DVD: Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Live at Hampton Court Palace

Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Released: October 13, 2009

When you combine Rick Wakeman with a celebration of the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's ascension to the throne of England, things are bound to be a bit over-the-top. Not to disappoint, Wakeman comes out in royal robes with six "wives" in period dress and the whole thing happens right in Henry's old home, Hampton Court Palace.

Wakeman is great. The English Rock Ensemble is great. The Orchestra Europa is great. The English Chamber Choir is great. From a technical point of view, all of this is to be expected. The venue is fabulous as well. For anything less bombastic than Wakeman's musical interpretation of Henry's wives, it might be overkill, but for this, it's perfect and it's completely clear why Wakeman always hoped to perform it here. While the venue is well-shown, the downside is that the players' faces get more screen time than their fingers. Wakeman is one of the most enjoyable keyboardists to simply watch. His hands do things that just seem unnatural and sadly, this film doesn't offer much opportunity to enjoy that.

The thing from which prog suffers most, and Wakeman is perhaps one of the biggest offenders in this respect, is its inaccessibility. Unlike most rock music, the average fan can neither pick up a guitar and learn the songs nor even understand the esoteric themes. What's beautiful in this concert is that it bridges that huge chasm that exists in a remarkably simple way: The performance is narrated by actor Brian Blessed and it is his dramatic readings and earthy humor that are not only engaging in their own right, but also bring the whole over-the-top performance back to earth in a way that even prog skeptics can appreciate.

This set also comes in CD format separately. While this will surely please Wakeman fans, the DVD is more exciting and has a much broader appeal.

Rating: 7/10

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Good Old War and Cast Spells to release split EP and tour

Sargent House will be releasing a split EP from Gold Old War and Cast Spells. The two bands will also be touring together on the East Coast in December, followed by a few California dates for Good Old War and Anthony Green.

Good Old War / Cast Spells tour:
12/03 Brooklyn, NY @ The Knitting Factory
12/04 Philadelphia, PA @ North Star Bar
12/05 Boston, MA @ The Middle East Upstairs
12/06 Hamden, CT @ The Space
12/07 Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater
12/08 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell's
12/09 Baltimore, MD @ The Quarter
12/11 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
12/12 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose Upstairs

Good Old War / Anthony Green tour:
12/28 Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse
12/29 Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
12/30 San Diego, CA @ Soma Side

Check out Gold Old War's latest video for "Maybe Mine":


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Paul McCartney's Good Evening New York City is coming November 17th

Considering that McCartney has done some of his best post-Beatles work over the last decade and a half, this new CD/DVD release is intriguing to say the least.

Check it out:

Get a free video and mp3:

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Monday, November 02, 2009

xo for the Holidays Volume II

Well, now that it's November, the holidays are looming. Get ready to be inundated with soulless advertising and hassled by over-zealous crowds. But it's not all bad. There's kids getting excited and the Salvation Army on the corner and Thanksgiving dinner and Midnight Mass...and this year's xo for the Holidays comp! Unlike most things this time of year, this one if free! Woo-hoo! Download it now!


Found in the Shuffle: Sweet - The Six Teens

I was talking with a friend today and Sweet came up. While "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox on the Run" are the best known tunes from their glam period, this has always been one of my favorites.

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Review: Creedence Clearwater Revival-The Singles Collection

Label: Concord Music

Released: November 3, 2009

Of the 30 tracks that make up the two CDs of CCR's The Singles Collection, over half are songs we all know like the back of our hands. However, unlike a traditional greatest hits collection, this one includes all the b-sides as well. Sure, some had two sides that were popular enough to be more like a double a-side single, but there are still plenty of lesser know gems here.

The liner notes, a crucial part of any anthology release, have some interesting material, but the more narrative style puts readability over information. The best part of the package though, music aside, is the poster showing all the single covers. It's not anything that hasn't been done before, but it's always great to see the original covers. The four videos on the DVD are a nice bonus as well.

In addition to the double CD, Concord Music is releasing a 7" set that includes all 15 singles with the original artwork in a deluxe box. If that doesn't sound like a winner, I don't know what does.

You can check out the whole thing at AOL Music.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 10/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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