Dapper Dan Man…

August 5, 2009

Music Review: Pike – Beneath Death Valley demo

Filed under: Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 10:24 AM
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Really good demo from a Swedish doom/stoner band- Could go the same way as fellow countrymen Kongh

Published on StonerRock.com – Link to review

August 1, 2009

For those unfamiliar with Pike – which currently must be quite a few – they are a Swedish trio playing groove-heavy doom metal who here offer up a promising demo consisting of two songs and an acoustic interlude. Not much material to dissect but this is easily overlooked since they’re still in the beginning of their recording career and since, in true doom fashion the two songs tick in at a length of over 15 minutes.

Beneath Death Valley draws a considerable influence from both classics like Sabbath and Motorhead, but even more so from contemporaries like High on Fire and particularly from the more grimy and rumbling jams on The Art of Self Defense, something evident on opener “Snowstalker.” Where Pike differ slightly is with the mix of psychedelic influences which function well as armament against a lack of variety.

It would be good to hear a recording with at least four longer songs on it next time, in order to make a more fair judgement of whether they can sustain the skill from Beneath Death Valley and spread it out over a longer period. It will especially be intriguing to find out if they can write another ten minute song with equal parts fast and doomy as good as “Manonian.” Until then Beneath Death Valley will do just fine.

http://www.myspace.com/pikesweden

Music Review: Carlton Melton – Live in Point Arena 7/8/08

Filed under: Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 10:18 AM
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Published on StonerRock.com

August 1, 2009 – Link to review

Carlton Melton is a band made to be a cult favorite among those that love improvisational and instrumental music. They sound too trippy and weird to ever be big, but they do know how to make something engaging out of what sounds like nothing more than impromptu jamming. The deal here is slow, long pieces of space rock with a hint of drone added in – the first two songs, “Happy Song” and “Against the Wall,” have a constant rattling buzz throughout – that are pleasantly soothing and atmospheric.

There are similarities with latter-day Earth but where theirs is a dry, dusty character, Carlton Melton literally rise above and offer up spacey and ethereal soundscapes. Live in Point Arena has the atmosphere of a record just born out of a will to improvise rather than plan any song structures. It sounds like the band just plugged in and went wherever inspiration took them at that moment in time. The fact that all song titles here are working titles further cements the view of a loose environment. “Root Ball” consists of not much else except for a long, slow guitar solo, whereas the back bone of “Inter Mission” is based on the strum of a broken up old acoustic guitar and another drawn out solo, albeit with more of a blues feel to it this time.

For those that appreciate music that breathes and takes its time, that is made for concentrated listening Carlton Melton are a new acquaintance to embrace. They may remain unknown but will be liked by those that still love rock with an experimental edge.

http://www.myspace.com/carltonmelton

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

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

May 29, 2009

The Poison Arrows – Casual Wave review

Filed under: Music,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:25 PM
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Posted on Wednesday May 27th, 2009 – Scenepointblank

Being from Chicago, The Poison Arrows have a style that unmistakeably brings to mind the old, early to mid 90’s alternative rock scene. Since that particular time spawned quite a few great bands then this can be considered a good prospect. The debut EP from this band doesn’t necessarily resemble the noisy endeavors of Steve Albini or the madness of The Jesus Lizard – instead, their languid, flowing sound has more in common with the dark and gritty sound of an underrated bunch like Girls vs. Boys, while the wash of the mellow synth and electronic sound behind them adds color to the urban feel.

This sounds like it was borne out of a concrete jungle, as the repetitive beats of the likes of “The Lure of Lore” evoke visions of city lights and neon reflecting over Michigan Lake. Casual Wave finds the band in a dark and contemplative mood, something they manage to bring to the listener with ease. It’s in the small details, like the moody trumpet in “Frozen Human State.” It’s just a tad frustrating that four songs are all we can listen to at the moment.

Should The Poison Arrows continue to deliver on the promise of this EP than those who like their brooding music have much to anticipate.

Link to the review

May 12, 2009

Landmine Marathon – Rusted eyes awake album review

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 4:23 PM
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Here, finally after several months’ abscence is a piece published on Scenepointblank.  It’s about Landmine Marathon, a death metal band from Arizona (my favourite place in America, but the again I am slightly disturbed.)

Link to the review on Scenepointblank.

Otherwise, read on below…

One of the biggest pleasures of listening to Rusted Eyes Awake was to hear the music and not walk away with the opinion that this is just another modern U.S. metal band labeled with the death metal tag that actually plays nauseating post-millennial death-core. Landmine Marathon still does have some of those influences interspersed but for the most part the Arizonians play old-school- caked death metal with a heavy nod towards the old Earache Records releases. Even the cover art is brings to mind Repulsion’s seminal Horrified.

This album is an almighty brutal attack, it has to be clarified. There aren’t many pauses for breath amidst the scattergun approach, save for the occasional mid-tempo, chugging breakdown that betrays the band’s modern hardcore influences. Aside from this, Landmine Marathon let rip with pummeling drums and buzzing riffs. Rusted Eyes Awake is the kind of album that raises your pulse and puts you in the frame of mind to do something physical. A two hour Thai-boxing session would seem like the perfect activity for the soundtrack, as elbowing a sand bag (preferably with the boss of London underground’s face plastered onto it) is what you will be most inclined to partake in.

“Bile Towers” has the ultimate tempo for an album starter, immediately charging at you with churning, bass-heavy riffs with a loving nod to Bolt Thrower and old Entombed records. Sometimes the guitar players sidestep this with a few melodic riffing turns, and harmonies are good when avoiding monotonous rumblings. Along with this comes a worthy vocal performance by Grace Perry. She is definitely up there with the best in terms of bile and vitriol and the acidic throat renderings in “Heroin Swine,” to use one example, definitely do their best to convince you.

What makes Rusted Eyes Awake even better compared to many other modern metal records is that it doesn’t get weighed down by an overt technicality, something that can be a problem in this genre. Old school feel and grimy, lurching and sloppy riffs are always better for sheer enjoyment than a frenetic wankfest.

This isn’t perfect album by any means but it’s a joy to annoy neighbors with it. Supposedly these guys tour a hell of a lot – they need to bring their desert asses over to Europe soon.



April 30, 2009

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 11:43 AM
Tags: , ,

Forget about genre classifications and under what category to place Isis; they have, as a band, always been bigger than that. When listening to Wavering Radiant all you have to do is take in the nuances of the record and think about how far the band has developed since the early stages.

Their brooding type of musicianship has travelled from the rhythmic and suggestive rumblings of “Celestial” to the more introspective nature of the spacey Celestial and the utterly majestic “Panopticon” where the mellowness of the electronica that was interspersed injected even more beauty to the music. They continued to develop over the previous album as well Wavering Radiant comes across as all their history and summed up into one recording. It is noticeable that the band has taken their time with developing this album, having also claimed to have done that. Every instrumentation and texture sounds as if it was given space to grow and create the perfect soundscapes.

“Hall of the Dead” starts of with a stuttering riff before kicking off with sludge-heavy grooves and Aaron Turner’s growling vocals. The keyboard that is utilized throughout the song adds an unmistakable depth, especially during the quiet breakdown when unified with the emotive guitar slings.

The following song “Ghost Key” goes the opposite way and begins with the placid and touching keyboard before the sludgy riffs are unleashed. It shares this characteristic with “Hand of the Host”, a song truly grand in the way its lush, thick riffs contribute to the epic ambiance. The interaction on Wavering Radiant between idyllic beauty and sonic darkness is what makes this, as all other Isis albums, such an enthralling listen.

Complex though it may be, it’s still a recording with a strong earthy feel to it and one — due to the songs creating a one cohesive whole — demands to be listened to in its entirety, the way all music should be enjoyed.

Wavering Radiant is the type of record where you need to just close your eyes and let the sounds carry you away and your mind wander. Isis have always had a strong cinematic feel to them due to the music having a palpable narrative structure to it, thus creating an overwhelming desire to hear their soundscapes as a backdrop to a movie.
The songs of Isis have always demanded concentration and many listens before one can even begin to grasp the nuances but
Wavering Radiant stands as an equal to their finest work so far, but its continuous growth tells of an album towering above its peers in the very near future.

Link to review on Blogcritics.org.

April 16, 2009

Music Review: Bigelf – Cheat the Gallows

Filed under: Writing — gazzabazza @ 3:09 PM
Tags: , ,

Written by Mirza Gazic
Published April 15, 2009

Many bands have a massive affinity with the seventies. They love the classic recordings of that era and those influences shine through in their own albums — homages to an era that most music lovers have a kinship with and a love for. This is not news to anybody, but most bands tend to have one musical part of that decade as a basis for their sound. Usually it’s the doomy heaviness of Sabbath or the proto-punk of MC5 and The Stooges but that is not the case with Bigelf.

They can be considered an amalgamation of nearly every rock and pop-based sound that the seventies had to offer and their latest album, Cheat the Gallows is the showcase. It is a sign of ambition and a restless nature to attempt such an album and in the hands of a lesser band it would have been a failure, but Bigelf have managed to create the right mix of bombast, trippiness and straight-forward rock here. They have surpassed the former characteristic of being a band simply influenced by Black Sabbath and The Beatles and incorporated much more.

This fact hits home right at the opener “Gravest show on Earth” with its operatic tone and influence made all the more unusual by the carnival music that suddenly appears. It may sound strange but it works to, at the very least, draw your attention to the album. Psychedelia and progressive inspirations are rich in scope on “Cheat the Gallows” and they are mostly prevalent in the anthemic “Money, it’s Pure Evil” that draws a lot from Pink Floyd and their rich sound and production can also be heard in “The Game”, especially in the lush and evocative guitar playing.

Some of the finer moments on Cheat the Gallows come in the form of “Blackball” and the southern rock jamming midway through that draws up images of a muggy swamp and the effect-ladden “Hydra”- this tune has instrumentation that, for lack of a better word, sounds bewildering.

The closer “Counting sheep” can be seen as a summation of the entire album, as it attempts to put all the influences into one 10-minute song. It’s erratic nature means that it is interesting more than good, but Cheat the Gallows as an album is a bold and ambitious piece of work. It demands concentration if you are in any way interested in music then you will feel rewarded for your effort.

Two reviews up here on the same day? Something must be wrong- judging by how briefly things come up here this means that I won’t be back on “The Ballad” for another month. Hopefully I’m wrong and I am expecting to write a piece on the new Isis album this week- stay tuned.

Review of the album up on Blogcritics.

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