Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Since no other label was willing to commit to releasing Songs About Curling on a tight deadline for the Olympics, Mike from Vista Blue ended up putting it out on his own label Radiant Radish Records. I love that Mike went to the trouble to get this record made. And I love that The Zambonis were so enthused to be part of this project! This is no joke record. Both bands brought top-notch contributions to this split. It works as a celebration of curling, and it works as terrific pop music. This is a limited vinyl release with a total of 300 copies (in several colors) available. You can order it here. Curling at the 2018 Olympic Games starts next Thursday, so cue up these tunes and get yourself ready!
Monday, January 29, 2018
Review by Mike Kimmel
Alice Cooper's 27th studio release is one of his best in a while – and I loved Welcome 2 My Nightmare. This one (Paranormal) reveals his "Paranoic Personality"; or, in other parts, his
There are plenty of the typical Cooper plays on words, twisted phrases, comments that at first don't seem to belong together. Think about them for a minute or two (or more likely, sometime just before the tune ends), and you suddenly find yourself thinking "Oh! I GET IT!"
In addition to that, he's got more background vocals going on than I remember in previous Cooper releases. Well, he's always had background vocals, but they were done by folks who were actually background singers. On Paranormal, it sounds like he uses the rest of the band for the backups; and it fits so well that you'll wonder why either he hadn't done it before or you hadn't noticed before.
Speaking of the band, personnel on Paranormal includes Neal Smith, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce, Larry Mullen Jr., Roger Glover, Billy Gibbons, Tommy Denander, Tommy Henriksen, Steve Hunter, and a cast of thousands!
Well, a cast of thousands on the live tracks that are included. The live cuts still sound tremendous. I guess sometimes it just might take an artist like Alice Cooper to breathe some OLD blood into younger musicians. Frankly though, it doesn't sound like these guys needed much help and they do the Alice Cooper thing to a T.
A nice, clean, slow-picked chord to start the opening track; the title track "Paranormal", and then it kicks into gear starring Cooper as the condemned paranormal being haunting some young lady. He's "…condemned to the long, endless night…", so she’s gonna suffer too.
Staccato drums accompanied by an equally staccato guitar/bass combination kicks off "Dead Flies". "Please watch your step, dear. The world is out to beat you. Don't you know there's cannibals designed to kill and eat you."
"And they'll kill you with their bible full of psychobabble vomit till they make you drink the Kool-Aid and you ride up on that comet. All lies! We're dead flies!"
Surely you catch the Jim Jones/Guyana reference there. Seems like perhaps a bit of a history lesson?
Then, as if to allay my fears (NOT!), track three fires up. "Fireball" isn't a paranoic's most reassuring message. "On a dark desert night. Lookin' to the sky. Something ain't right – a fireball."
People holding on to each other for support, reassurance, etc., etc., not that it's working or anything. A mass inquiry; "Almighty God… Is it today?" or "Almighty God… The city's in flames."
I generally despise it when reviews turn into political commentaries, and I ain't a-gonna do that. Well, except for one tiny comment about some Asian leader who actually had a desk brought out to a runway so he could sit in an "official office" while watching a test of a nuclear missile. Right or wrong, good or bad makes no difference – I think you have to admit that the "desk-on-the-runway" thing (novel and/or original as it may have been) is just a tad out there!
Which brings us back to track three. Another very good tune. Interestingly, the effect applied to the vocals of Uncle Alice makes him sound much like the vocals are coming over a low quality FM radio – as if in a newscast. Here's hoping the current, uh, disputes between countries of the world isn't about to become a history lesson.
But by now I'm beginning to think this project is a description of things going on in the world today. A long-time mantra of mine has been "Complete paranoia is perfect awareness". Well, that and "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're NOT out to get me."
That train of thought runs me straight down the track and into "Paranoic Personality".
We start out with the ballsy, sexy distorted bass I wish I could get (my T-Bird comes close, but so far no stogie). The tune is slower than, say, "School's Out", but the bass is vaguely similar with the short walk and then a slide. Where "School's Out" just drops, "Paranoic Personality" mostly climbs but climbs and drops from mid-song on.
If you LUVS you some Billy Gibbons guitar, check out track five: "Fallen in Love". First off, let me say I love the chorus; "My baby's love is hard. My baby's love is tough. If I was anybody else I'd have had enough. She treats me like a dog, not a cute little pup. I've fallen in love and I can't get up!"
You figure out what he's talking about there. Meanwhile, just enjoy the heck out of the song – it's one of the best from the album.
Another compliment to the rhythm section coming up. I mentioned the Billy Gibbons guitar. Pop on the headphones and give it a spin. The Dusty Hill-like bass and Frank Beard-like drums combined with Gibbons make it seem like Cooper is doing a guest vocal on a ZZ Top album. If you like Cooper and you like ZZ Top, you'll LOVE track five.
Does anyone else find it odd that Frank Beard is the only member of ZZ Top who doesn't have a beard?
Next is a strange contrast. "Dynamite Road" is probably my least favorite song from this release, and it's a really good song. Not to spoil the story or anything, but the ending is humorous. "I can understand why he forced the band to take their final breath. But did he have to trash my Cadillac, man? I loved that car to death."
Ever feel like you were going to have some sort of breakdown? Ever feel like you were already having some sort of breakdown? Finally, do you s'pose you can plan or schedule said breakdown? Yeah, probably not so much. So track seven is about his "Private Public Breakdown".
"I feel what's real just slip away. I hope you like my... I hope you love my… I hope you see my private public breakdown. The secret service? I make them nervous."
It's one of the slower-paced tunes on the album, but it has plenty of interesting lyrics and the yes, I've come to expect it guitar from an Alice Cooper release – I'm not talking about smooth or even chunky. We're talking extra chunky here! Bass? Drums? Steady, as expected. They provide a perfect rhythm section for Cooper's lyrics and the guitars setting them off. It's extremely interesting (well, to me, anyway, and some would say I'm a bit odd) how the drummer uses a cowbell in the tune.
"I don't need meds to tie me down. Or squads of feds to stand around. 'Cause I'll have floated off the ground. So welcome to my... I hope you like my… I think I love my private public breakdown."
HORNS?! ON A COOPER ALBUM?!?! Well, it's really not that unusual at all. He's shown over the past many years he's really not afraid to try anything, and he's not exactly shy, either. "Holy Water" keeps the hits a-happening on Paranormal.
The bass in "Holy Water" is tremendous! The horns, drums, and vocals are really way in the foreground on this track. The guitar is relegated to providing occasional accentuation, and the bass is pretty background, as well. That doesn't stop either of them from adding so much to the song.
"She is an angel. Her name is Tiffany. She kinda strange though, but my epiphany. I wouldn't change, yo! Cause she's a gift to me."
The ninth track of the 18 in this release is my favorite. Once again, my feets jis' won't be still. "Give the Rats what they want. Give the rats what they want. Open the cage. Give the rats what they want."
"Give 'em the cheese, the grill and the ride. Some bling and some sex and they glow inside."
"Let them run the maze. Let them ring the bell. Let 'em chase their tails. Let 'em go to hell. Let them multiply – that's what they do. You better give 'em what they want or they're comin' for you."
A minute 54 into it the tune, it sounds like it's ending. And that is downright depressing. It's not a long song, anyway, and at 2:38 it's over for real. Trust me, this one will let you know if your seat squeaks or not, because you won't be able to keep still.
Ha! A song about rats, and I said "squeak". Unintentional at first, but… I KILL ME!
"The Sound of A" brings us to the 10th and final new studio tune with Cooper's current band from the Paranormal CD basic release and is the slowest track on the album. But it, too, is a really good track. "The sound of A is in the air. The sound of A is everywhere. Meaningless noise is everybody's toy."
There's some very interesting stuff going on with the keyboard in this cut as there is with the vocals, as well. Probably best experienced (again) using headphones.
We're back in the studio again, but this time we're accompanied by Coop and members of his original band (with the exception of Glen Buxton - RIP).
"Genuine American Girl", written by Cooper, Neal Smith and Bob Ezrin, is the first of two brand new songs with his brand old band, and it is spectacular, vintage Alice Cooper rock and roll. The old guys have still got it! As a genuine rock and roll fanatic I have to say that… Well, let me just come out and say it, OK?
THIS TUNE GIVES ME GOOSEBUMPS!
It's got basically everything you have ever wanted from a Cooper tune, let alone expected. The bass. The drums. The guitars. Good grief, man! The lyrics.
"I do my hair. I paint my nails. It pours outside. It never fails. So the makeup runs down my pretty face. I'm a muddy mess. A mac disgrace. But when I hit that floor tonight I'm gonna look and feel alright because my mama says the world's an oyster and I'm the pearl."
"I look in the mirror and what do I see? An immodest little goddess looking back at me. The boys all whistle when I walk by so I toss my hair and wink my eye."
"So come and dance with me. Come take a chance with me. I'm only 30 out of 50 shades of grey. A feminine fatality."
Things might have headed back toward the history lesson (or lesson in pending history – I think probably one of those two) with the second original track by the original Cooper band. Cooper, Dennis Dunaway, and Ezrin teamed up again to write "You and All of Your Friends".
"We're burnin' down your city. The message has been sent. Angels without pity. We hold you in contempt. And this is how it all ends for you and all of your friends."
"It’s righteous conflagration. It's our way of paying you back for plundering our nation and painting heaven black. So this is where it all ends for you and all of your friends."
"And when the sun goes down tomorrow we will no longer be your slaves. And it will be the end of sorrow, 'cause we’ll be dancing on your graves. 'Cause this is where it all ends. Too late to make amends. For you and all of your friends."
I just realized I may have typed the vast majority of the lyrics for the song, which I'm not sure the laws of review-writing allow you to do.
That's OK, though. I mean, if it was the first rule I'd ever violated, I guess it'd be a more remarkable event. Further, your honor, when the lead/solo-type part of the song kicked in, so did my goosebumps again. Guess what, kiddies. The fossils still got it! (Maybe playing in a band with your grandfather could teach you a thing or two, eh?)
The two tunes with guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith finish things up on the standard release. If you have been paying attention over the past few months, you know that IF there is a deluxe version of a CD you are considering for purchase THAT should be the version you get.
Oddly enough, Cooper's Welcome 2 My Nightmare was the release that really drove that point home for me. To try and put the Paranormal CD into some sort of perspective. I absolutely LOVE Welcome 2 My Nightmare. I think it's a fantastic idea, and it builds on and is as enjoyable as the original Welcome to My Nightmare. In fact, I think I might like 2 a bit more than the original.
I like Paranormal more than I like either of the Nightmares, and as you just read, that's going quite a distance. The review isn't even over yet! I haven't addressed the six live tracks (recorded on May 6, 2016 in Columbus, OH) done by Cooper and his current band, who I've also already mentioned are by no means any slouches at all!
But rather than going through each of the live Cooper classics included, I think I'll just enumerate them and sum them up as a collection. I mean, after all… There's a better-than-average chance you've heard each of these songs and may already have an opinion one way or the other.
The six classics are "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Under My Wheels", "Billion Dollar Babies", "Feed My Frankenstein", "Only Women Bleed", and of course, "School's Out". They're all better live than the studio versions of the same tunes. His current band rocks them home as convincingly, as enthusiastically, as talentedly (is that even a word?), and as "true-to-the-original" as Cooper's original band.
Friday, January 26, 2018
Thursday, January 25, 2018
post I did on Mike Spent Black Belt back in 2016. After several decades fronting the Spent Idols, Mike Spent teamed up with Richard Duguay (Personality Crisis, the Hellhounds), Diane Nile, and Loren Molinare & Tony Matteucci of the legendary Dogs to form a super-group of punk rock veterans. With two band members over 55 years of age and the other three over 60, all of these individuals have clearly earned black belts in rock n' roll! Produced by Duguay, debut single "I Am A Lion" was quite a departure from the raw '77 punk of the Spent Idols. The band has just completed production on a video for the second track from that single, "Sun Goes Gray". The song was based on a riff that Molinare originally came up with over 30 years ago. It's an homage to the moodier side of '60s garage rock. Check out the video below. The full digital single is still available from the MSBB Bandcamp page!
Monday, January 22, 2018
In addition to the release of Legendary Junk, The Hormones are poised for their first release of new music since the '90s. The band, which reformed in 2013 after a 15-year hiatus, has set up a Go Fund Me page for anyone with an interest in investing in this project. The new record, called Sing, will be released as a six-song 12". The band will be working again with Dirtyflair on the release of this EP. You can even order Legendary Junk directly from the Go Fund Me page - which will help the band get Sing made!
Some of you will be well acquainted with The Hormones. Others may have never heard the band before. Either way, I highly recommend Legendary Junk to anyone who loves '77 style punk. I'll have lots more to say about Dirtyflair Record Company in the near future, so stay tuned!
Friday, January 19, 2018
Ever since the turn of the century, the Teenage Frames have concentrated entirely on releasing music in small doses. That "all killer, no filler" approach really suits the talents of a band so skilled at turning out brilliant pop songs. Essentially this is one of the great singles bands of my generation. If you went over to Bandcamp and bought the band's three most recent EPs, you could compile them into a single album that rivals just about any power pop LP from the last ten years. Between Still Pissed and the new Number Ones EP, the bar for great pop in 2018 has been set very high!
Monday, January 15, 2018
Friday, January 12, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Another Side of The Number Ones is available from Static Shock Records in the U.K. and Sorry State Records in the U.S.A. It's a very fine addition to an already stunning discography. I appreciate that The Number Ones have managed to mature as an outfit without having to fundamentally change what they're about. And what are they all about? Great pop songs! Let's hope that they will keep writing them for many years to come!
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
You may already be familiar with Freak Genes - Andrew Anderson's brilliant collaboration with Charlie Murphy. If you liked the Freak Genes record, you'll dig Leisure Opportunity as well. These "side" projects really show different dimensions of Anderson's musical talent, and that growth seems to be bleeding a little into The Hipshakes' music as well. If you like your punk music full of quirks and distinctively British humor, you're about to discover a real gem!
Monday, January 8, 2018
There's something about Japanese power pop bands that sets them apart from their counterparts throughout the world. And I'm not just talking about the obvious vocal differences. I cannot quite put my finger on the distinctive characteristics of Japanese power pop. But Boys Order exemplify them well. This is a band with very obvious inspirations, but what it does with them is absolutely unique and wonderful. Buy Do The Wild Cat and prepare to get hopped up on pop!
Thursday, January 4, 2018
"Gonna Find My Baby" is available from Murphy's own Nerve Centre Records. It may very well have been my #1 single of 2017 if I had paid attention just a little bit sooner. On the list of the great failings of my adult life, my procrastination on this review ranks way up there. What a perfect punk record!
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Perhaps this is just a limited-time offer, but Drunken Sailor Records has Weekend Rocker available as a name-your-price download over at Bandcamp and is only asking £4 for the digital version of the self-titled album. That's a deal and a steal! And if you want the vinyl, you better hop to it. Although Weekend Rocker was just released on LP on Christmas day, 100 copies on green vinyl are already gone. There were an additional 400 copies were pressed on black, and they're going fast!
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
McGovern worked on Don't Want A Future with producer Tim Schock from August through November of 2017. While immediately recognizable as a Prostitutes recording, this EP shows considerable progression from the band's existing body of work. It's still very much inspired by classic punk rock, but you can tell that great time and detail were devoted to crafting and refining these songs. Compared to the raw adolescent fury of the band's early recordings, these songs are darker and more melody conscious, but no less raging. And there's just no mistaking that voice!
I have long considered The Prostitutes to be one of the greatest punk bands of my generation, and Don't Want A Future only enhances the group's legacy. It pretty much writes the book on how the punk genre can "mature" without losing its edge. Longtime fans will love these songs, but I don't think you would require a familiarity with previous Prostitutes releases to appreciate this EP. It very much stands on its own. I suppose at this point, nobody should be surprised that Kevin McGovern has turned out another punk rock masterpiece!
Monday, January 1, 2018