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July 29, 2009

Music Review: Propagandhi – Supporting Caste

Filed under: Politics,punk — gazzabazza @ 10:32 AM
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Published on Blogcritics on May 27, 2009

Quite possibly the most political and politically active band is back with another long player and this time after parting company with Fat Wreck Chords in order to release it on their own label, The G7 Welcoming Committee. Given their well known ethos it makes perfect sense that a punk band steeped in grassroots politics should release its music independently.

This time there is also more bite to Propagandhi’s music as well;  where they previously delivered melodic and poppy punk they now play with more fire. The melody is still there but Supporting Caste exudes more energy and hits home with speed-core elements.

The first song “Night Letters” exemplifies this by being nigh on thrash-like half the playing time. This doesn’t come as a surprise when their inspirations are known — a perusal of Propagandhi’s website gives out the information that Supporting Caste is “a 50,000 watt no-holds-barred, forward-thinking tip-of-the-hat to the giants — Voivod, Rush, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Sacrifice, Razor, Guilt Parade — that have gone before them.”

None of this would matter very much if the album wasn’t any good, but it is. It has the fast pace of a good punk album with some great and thought provoking, and sometimes very funny, lyrics.

The humour is vivid on “Dear Coach’s Corner,” a ridicule of overly patriotic hockey pundits in their homeland and “Human(e) Meat,” where the stance towards meat eating is put forward clearly with the aid of their trademark melodic punk.

This aside, it is a bleak message exhibited on Supporting Caste — one of struggle and injustice, but the flicker of hope in the midst is always there. All of this is delivered with the band’s finest material in a long time, a quality that can stand alongside classics like Potemkin City Limits and Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes.

The nods toward thrash classic of old, alongside some old school hardcore blasters — “This Is Your Life” and “Incalcuable Effects” lean less towards melody and far more towards ferocious speed and aggression — should convince everybody of Propagandhi’s continued relevance.

The political agitating may be overbearing to some but this rebellion is part and parcel of these Canadians and is what all punk should be about.

Link to the review on Blogcritics

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Music Review: Aimee Allen – A Little Happiness

Filed under: Music,Writing — gazzabazza @ 10:29 AM
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Published on Blogcritics.org July 16, 2009

Link

Aimee Allen is described as an “explosive, outspoken voice” on her website, and that is probably right when considering her earlier work.

But now it’s hard to imagine that when this album, at least music-wise, exudes gentleness and serenity. It’s a collection of mostly acoustic tracks that sound tailor made for contemplation in the sunshine or sitting by a campfire. Without delving more into comparisons, these are the images brought up while listening to A Little Happiness — the mellow tones of the music inspire it. It’s only in the reflective lyrics that less happy themes come up like heartbreak and organized religion.

Allen has a great voice, part soothing and part sass, and the slow reggae-like tones definitely benefit. This album actually brings to mind the much missed ska punks Sublime. One of their finest songs, “Santeria” even gets the cover treatment here, with this version coming close to the sun-drenched perfection of the original.

The funky piano in “Crazy” is a nice touch, which along with the sing-along chorus provides the song with an even more upbeat feel. “Calling The Maker” has much of the same influence, but with a much more thumping drum beat and backing vocals that bring to mind gospel singing, a touch that makes it more memorable

Not all songs on A Little Happiness have that bouncy, happy sound though. A few, like “Silence is Violence” deal with the same musical template, but differ in the melancholy sound they carry. The same can be said about “La La Land,” a song about bad relationships and infidelity. Some of that edge that Aimee Allen is usually known for definitely comes across in the more sombre moments of this record. But A Little Happiness carries a more positive message in the end. Read the lyrics and this will come across.

This is a great summer album, perfect in every way for this season, but which will also sound good when listened to at any other time of the year.

July 9, 2009

Music review: Bulldozer – The hammers

Filed under: Music,punk,Review — gazzabazza @ 9:15 AM
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Published on Scenepointblank.com

Sadly this is not a album by recently reformed Italian thrashers Bulldozer but a disc made by a New York band playing bog-standard punk rock with melodic and shouty sing-along choruses.

It’s hard to get wet and excited over another punk band that has flashes of rock’n roll and sounds like they came straight from the practice room – especially since most have probably heard, by estimation, around eight poorly produced albums of the same sound with tin-pot drumming this month alone. Last time was probably when your kid brother’s band played in front of twelve people in some dive bar.

The problem is not that the music on The Hammers is thoroughly bad but that it’s just bland and doesn’t inspire any reaction. Bulldozer is the quintessential bar band – there to play songs like “The Cocksmen/ Gravedigger” to whoever wants to hear jokey rock’ n roll in the vein of Guttermouth on a Tuesday evening and doesn’t mind the utter lack of variety. The guys are probably aware of and content with the situation.

Throw in some thoroughly meat-headed lyrics – apart from “Guido Beach” which did raise a smile – and you have a recording likely to be forgotten within the hour of turning it of.

Link to review

Music review: Big Business – Mind the drift

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 9:11 AM
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Published on Blogcritics.com

Big Business is a band with a sense of humour. For proof of that take a look at some of the band photos over the years, or absorb the fact that they decided to create an audio commentary for the promo version of Mind the Drift, their third album and the first one recorded as a trio. It’s a surreal experience to hear Coady Willis, Jared Warren, and new member, guitar player Toshi Kasai talk about the recording process while the songs are playing, especially since some of it verges on gibberish. But it is funny too.

Mind the Drift also presents some differences and progressions in sound- overall the band sound cleaner here but still retaining their trademark sound. Big Business have always been a bombastic band, thanks to their massive drumming sound but the scuzzy, rumbling, and bass-heavy influence is now a part of a much leaner production, stripped of dirt but still heavy. With the addition of Toshi’s gentle guitar playing there is now an added dimension- instead of a straightforward rumble the music also has some texture throughout. At times it sounds as if Kasai doesn’t follow the bass and drums at all but digresses and plays a completely different tune but put together in the context of this album it is a vital part of the whole. Without this the songs would sound poorer.

Another small departure concerns Jarred Warren’s vocal delivery. On the previous two albums it was a raw, throaty and unpolished bellow and on Mind the Drift you get to hear a change in the deep and smooth singing- save for in the title track, a swaggering bluesy stomp that sounds more rock’n roll then anything out there at the moment. It would not be out of place on a latter day Melvins record which is fitting seeing as Willis and Warren also play with the cult heroes these days.

This could be their attempt at reaching a wider audience and there is nothing wrong with that. This is band that’s heavy enough to always be liked by the stoner rock/ doom contingent but also carries plenty of song writing prowess worthy of being heard by many more. They prove this with “The ayes have it”- a Hammond laden melodic piece that is one of the most refreshing things Big Business have put their name on. Its moody tunefulness makes it the standout track on Mind the Drift.

It all finishes with the 8 minute long “Theme from big business II, a slow psychedelic song that perfectly sums up their third album- slow, heavy but with added harmonies and experimentation.

European tour is hereby requested.

Link to review

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