Friday, 20 March 2015

Short Attention Span Record Reviews - March 2015 Part II

ALLISON MOORER – Down To Believing
If you still thought that country music is just banjos and fiddles (you shouldn't), then check out how bad this lady rocks. (8)

CANCER BATS – Searching For Zero
With catchy tunes and a sound falling somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between Clutch and Kvelertak this is quite appealing, if you can stand the vocals. (7)

DEATH GRIPS – Jenny Death
Look. Maybe I’m just an old cynical bastard but having listened to Public Enemy the first time around, Beatnigs/Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Consolidated, Meat Beat Manifesto the second time around and Dälek the third time around, Death Grips don’t sound new or impress me at all. (6)

Call this progressive black metal, psychedelic viking metal or whatever you like – no matter the label, it rules and will top quite a few metal “best of” year-end lists come December. (9)

GILL LANDRY – Gill Landry
Solo album by Old Crow Medicine Show member is a welcome departure from the flashy bluegrass virtuosity of his day job towards a more low-key, subdued sound. The songwriting’s still great though and the awesome Laura Marling is a guest. (8)

Karyn (from Crisis) jumps on the occult rock bandwagon two years too late, but she’s got a couple of guys from Immolation with her and she’s a witch anyway so it doesn’t matter and she’ll still kick your ass. (8)

Marling adds a dash of PJ Harvey to her generous portion of Joni Mitchell/acoustic Led Zep. Beautiful. (8)

LEAD BELLY – The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
Anyone interested in pre-rock ‘n’ roll era American music should own this box set: 5 CDs of classic and highly enjoyable acoustic folk/blues from Lead Belly, the man, the myth, the convict. And in case you suspected this is obscure ancient stuff please note you already know a few of these songs – they’ve either been covered or stolen by half the people in your record collection including Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Waits, Bryan Ferry, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Fall and Abba. (10)

LIGHTNING BOLT – Fantasy Empire
A bit more polished than their previous albums but still outrageous even for power-duo standards, “Fantasy Empire” is noise-rock’s King Crimson to “Head For the Shallow”’s Uriah Heep and will make you slamdance and laugh your ass off at the same time. Fantastic. (9)

Joey Vera told me years ago that he’s a huge fan of rockers Mother Superior, so he puts his money where his mouth is and joins superfan #2 Scott Ian’s project featuring Mother Superior’s own Jim Wilson, doing tougher cover versions of Mother Superior songs. (7)

OTIS TAYLOR – Hey Joe Opus Red Meat
Another “trance blues” tour-de-force from Taylor, featuring a fantastic version of “Hey Joe” as the concept album’s centerpiece. Play this in the dark, with no distractions. (8)

PRONG – Songs From The Black Hole
Cover versions of songs by Discharge, Sisters Of Mercy, Black Flag, Killing Joke, Husker Du, Fugazi, Bad Brains, Neil Young etc. Great tracklisting but the tunes could have been Prongified more. (7)

Straight outta Portland garage, this is pop that’s punk enough to love. Or the other way around. (8)

How can a duo playing doo-wop-infused garage punk on a badly tuned guitar and a minimalist drum set seemingly consisting of just a kick drum and a tambourine actually sound so much FUN? (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – An All Star Tribute To Pink Floyd: The Everlasting Songs
Α bunch of really old ex-rock stars and A-list session players do Pink Floyd karaoke. Totally pointless. (1)

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Heavy Metal Rules

... Και ο τίτλος δεν σημαίνει "Ζήτω Το Μέταλ", σημαίνει "Οι Κανόνες Του Μέταλ": Εν τω προκειμένω το "rules" είναι ουσιαστικό, όχι ρήμα. Διότι αν υπάρχει ένα μουσικό ιδίωμα που οφείλει να ακολουθεί πολύ συγκεκριμένους κανόνες, αυτό βεβαίως είναι το heavy metal.

Απ' όσο θυμάμαι τον εαυτό μου να ασχολείται με τη μουσική, εδώ και 100 χρόνια περίπου, πάντα υπήρχαν ομηρικές διαμάχες μεταξύ των μουσικόφιλων σχετικά με το τι είναι μέταλ και τι όχι, ποιος δικαιούται να αυτοχαρακτηρίζεται μεταλλάς και ποιος όχι και ούτω καθεξής. Καθώς λοιπόν οσονούπω κυκλοφορεί και νέος δίσκος Faith No More και προβλέπεται άλλη μία αναβίωση της συγκεκριμένης ακανθώδους συζήτησης, το I Was A Teenage Music Geek αποφάσισε να θέσει οριστικό τέλος στη κουβέντα καταγράφοντας τους 10 κανόνες βάσει των οποίων μπορείτε να μετρήσετε αντικειμενικά τη μεταλλοσύνη σας ως ακροατές και άνθρωποι. Πάμε λοιπόν να δούμε ποιος είναι μεταλλάς και ποιος όχι:

Κανόνας #1 Πρέπει να έχεις μακριά μαλλιά. Μοναδική αποδεκτή εξαίρεση του κανόνα: Να είσαι μέλος πενταμελούς παρέας ή συγκροτήματος (συχνά αυτά τα δύο είναι ένα και το αυτό) όπου τουλάχιστον 3 στους 5 έχουν μακριά μαλλιά, περίπτωση στην οποία τα κοντά μαλλιά ή οι καράφλες των υπολοίπων 2 μετράνε αυτόματα ως τιμής ένεκεν μακριά μαλλιά.

Κανόνας #2 Πρέπει να διαθέτεις στη γκαρνταρόμπα σου τουλάχιστον 7 μαύρα T-Shirts με στάμπες συγκροτημάτων. ΠΡΟΣΟΧΗ: Οι αληθινοί μεταλλάδες φοράνε T-Shirts που έχουν στάμπα μόνο μπροστά - οι μπλούζες με στάμπες στην πλάτη δεν απευθύνονται σε αληθινούς μεταλλάδες γιατί οι όπισθεν στάμπες κρύβονται από τα μαλλιά.

Κανόνας #3 Τα μαύρα T-Shirts με στάμπες συγκροτημάτων φοριούνται έξω από το παντελόνι. Μόνο. Ποτέ μέσα. Ιδιαίτερα οι μακρυμάνικες, δε σηκώνω κουβέντα επί τούτου.

Κανόνας #4 Ανεξαρτήτως των υπολοίπων ακουσμάτων σου, οφείλεις να έχεις ακούσει ΤΑ ΠΑΝΤΑ από τα εξής συγκροτήματα: Black Sabbath (1970-75), Judas Priest (1976-84 συν Painkiller), Iron Maiden (1980-88) και Metallica (1983-91), ή τουλάχιστον να ΛΕΣ ότι έχεις ακούσει τα πάντα από τα παραπάνω.

Κανόνας #5 Πέρα από τα παραπάνω απολύτως βασικά που έχεις ακούσει ή λες ότι έχεις ακούσει, πρέπει να δηλώνεις φανατικός οπαδός τουλάχιστον δύο συγκροτημάτων που δεν έχει ακούσει κανένας άλλος στην παρέα σου, π.χ. Cirith Ungol και Mind Over Four, ή Hirax και Sortilege.

Κανόνας #6 Από τους ήρωες των 70s πρέπει να δηλώνεις θαυμαστής των UFO ή των Thin Lizzy, ακόμα κι αν δεν έχεις ούτε ένα δίσκο των Led Zeppelin.

Κανόνας #7 Επίσης γουστάρεις τρελλά τα πρώτα 4 άλμπουμ των Manowar και δε ντρέπεσαι να το πεις.

Κανόνας #8 Στις συναυλίες που παρακολουθείς θα τραγουδήσεις Μεηντενικά "Ω-Ω-ΩΩΩ-Ω-Ω-ΩΩΩ", θα παίξεις air guitar, με το σόλο ντραμς θα πορωθείς αντί να βγάλεις φλύκταινες, ή all of the above.

Κανόνας #9 Σε κάθε τρεις φωτογραφίες που βγάζεις μετά από συναυλία με μέλη του συγκροτήματος που μόλις έπαιξε, πρέπει να κάνεις devil horns τουλάχιστον στη μία. Ποσοστό devil horns κάτω του 33,3% αυτομάτως σε καθιστά μη μεταλλά.

Κανόνας #10 Πρέπει να παίζεις κι εσύ σε μέταλ συγκρότημα, ή τουλάχιστον να έχεις προσπαθήσει να μάθεις κάποιο όργανο μέχρι που αποφάσισες ότι παραείσαι τεμπέλης ή ατάλαντος για να παίξεις ποτέ αξιοπρεπώς.

Η βάση είναι 8/10. Για πες μου λοιπόν, πόσο μεταλλάς είσαι;

Friday, 27 February 2015

Short Attention Span Record Reviews - March 2015

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – Holding All The Roses
The metamorphosis from rock-tinged country band to southern rock juggernaut has now been completed. This is truly enjoyable “meat and potatoes” stuff, albeit a bit weaker and more polished than their magnificent previous album. (8)


This is some seriously weird evil shit: Deeply rooted in black metal but boldly moving into progressive rock, avant garde, even jazz territory, “A Umbra Omega” sort of sounds like a John Zorn-produced satanic version of Voivod and will blow the minds of those brave enough to dive in. (9)

FRANZ NIKOLAI – To Us, The Beautiful!

Former The Hold Steady keyboard player manages to come across like an inverted cross between Meatloaf and Gogol Bordello. (7)


Gretchen wrote “Independence Day” for Martina McBride which is one of the 20 best country songs of all time, so I gotta love her. On her own latest album she gives as a bunch of fantastic, delicate, dark songs about mortality and I gotta love her even more. (9)

J. GEILS BAND – House Party Live In Germany

Everything you need to know about the J. Geils Band being the greatest live band in the known universe has already been written by Nick Hornby in his book “31 Songs”, and this concert DVD/CD package recorded in 1979 is the first visual proof ever commercially released so go get it now. (10)

LITURGY – The Ark Work

Pretty sure this is going to be the most divisive album of the year with 70% saying it’s a pile of shit, 20% swearing it’s a masterpiece and 10% thinking Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is just trolling everyone, and after the third listen I still haven’t made up up my mind about where I stand. But it’s definitely not black metal and it definitely has nothing to do with “Aesthetica”. (?)


Imagine a carnival in Florida. A band’s on stage playing a wild country/rockabilly/tex-mex/ska hybrid while big-haired gorgeous girls in sundresses and cowboy boots dance about, laughing. Then the band plays a touching ballad and a redneck gets on one knee and proposes to his sweetheart while the full moon above shines on the happy, smiling crowd. The Mavericks are THAT band. (8)

PELICAN – The Cliff

Three different remixes of a song off their last album, plus an outtake. Meh. (5)

RHIANNON GIDDENS – Tomorrow Is My Turn

If you’re wondering who’s the best breakout vocalist of 2015, just play Giddens’ cover of Odetta’s “Waterboy” from this excellent folk-blues album and be prepared to pick your jaw up from the floor. (8)

SONGHOY BLUES – Music In Exile

Tinariwen started it but now “desert blues” is a full-blown genre, and these guys from Mali deservedly are its latest stars. (8)

STEVEN WILSON – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

I’ve heard pretty much everything that Wilson has ever released and can safely say that this album is the one I enjoyed the most since Procupine Tree’s “Stupid Dream” in 1999. (9)

SUMAC – The Deal

It’s Aaron Turner from Isis with his mates, so if you’re a Hydraheadhead you’ll piss your pants listening to this sludgy post-metal rifforama. (8)

TORCHE – Restarter

High On Fire meets Jane’s Addiction. (7)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Short Attention Span Record Reviews: Feb 2015

ALASDAIR ROBERTS – Alasdair Roberts
Roberts’ Scottish folk music is VERY Scottish and VERY folk and a bit too pastoral for my tastes, but I’m sure it makes a very romantic soundtrack to shagging sheep on the highlands if you’re into that sort of thing. (7)


More than 50 years into her career as a soul and blues singer, Bettye’s voice still sends chills down my spine and makes the hair stand on the back of my neck. Fans of Solomon Burke’s “Don’t Give Up On Me”, check this out ASAP. (8)

BJORK – Vulnicura

I feared we’d just get another 60 minutes of fax-machine gurgling noises but this one actually contains powerful, emotionally charged songs. An uncomfotable listen despite the lush strings, compelling nevertheless. (8)

BOB DYLAN – Shadows In The Night

“Dylan doing Sinatra songs” seems like a counterintuitive, bad, bad idea, but it works surprisingly well: This is actually the most enjoyable Dylan record since 1997’s “Time Out Of Mind”. (8)

CHIP Z’NUFF – Strange Time

Enuff Z’Nuff mainman explores his psychedelic side on a solo effort featuring original G’n’R drummer Steven Adler. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes I truly believe that Enuff Z’Nuff’s “Welcome To Blue Island” is the greatest album ever made in the history of mankind, but this stuff is meh. (5)

HAYSEED DIXIE – Hair Down To My Grass

Yes it’s a one-trick pony and it’s lowbrow but somehow this joke never gets old, their bluegrass cover versions of hard rock anthens still make for lots of good clean fun. (7)

HOWLIN’ RAIN – Mansion Songs

Ethan Miller (ex-Comets On Fire) continues on his psychedelic folk rock trip with another one of those deep albums he always comes up with, the ones that slowly creep up on you. (8)

JELLYFISH – Bellybutton (Deluxe Edition)

Re-issue of the greatest pop debut of the 90’s that people never heard of, because people are idiots. This double-CD edition’s chock-full of extras such as live recordings and demos that only serve to reinforce the fact that Jellyfish is sorely missed today. (9)

JELLYFISH – Spilt Milk (Deluxe Edition)

Their second album re-issued, this one adds an extra dose of Queen to the band’s Beatles meets Cheap Trick approach. Also full of fantastic extras. (9)

JESSICA PRATT – On Your Own Love Again

There’s something almost magical about Pratt’s deceptively simple melodies and child-like voice. Fans of Anais Mitchell and Joanna Newsom will absolutely fall in love with this. (8)

KID ROCK – First Kiss EP

Oh god, this is worse than Nickelback. (3)

NAPALM DEATH – Apex Predator / Easy Meat

Skull-crushing, face-melting and extreme to the extreme, this is definitely going to be one of the year’s best metal albums, quite a feat for a band that’s been around for 34 years – longer than most of its fans. (9)

NATALIE PRASS – Natalie Prass

Wait a second, are you telling me that Jessica Pratt and Natalie Prass are two different persons? OK, I know I’m being unfair, I’m not sure if Pratt owns “Dusty In Memphis” whereas Prass definitely does. (7)

PERIPHERY – Juggernaut Alpha / Juggernaut Omega

Whoa. Huge step forward, caught me off-guard. This is quite excellent progressive metal and the singer finally testosteroned it up a notch or two. (8)


Minneapolis radio station The Current releases split 10” record of in-studio live performances to celebrate its tenth birthday. The Hold Steady side is mostly acoustic versions, but the Suicide Commandos side (a proto-punk Minneapolis band formed in 1974 that I’d never heard of before) is the real revelation, a full-on adrenaline blast that really blew me away. (9)

WHITEY MORGAN & THE 78’s – Born Raised And Live From Flint

Morgan’s songs are honky-tonk country but, being from Michigan, his attitude is pure high energy rock ‘n’ roll and so’s his facial hair. (8)

WILLIE NILE – If I Was A River

Cult Springsteen-esque rocker trades his guitar in for a piano and releases an album of touching ballads, the silliness of “Lullaby Loon” notwithstanding. (7)