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Category Archives: Music Review

10 Years – Division

Initially formed at the turn of our new century, 10 Years is a unique 10_years_divisionexception to the American alternative metal genre. Raised on Axl and Slash, Mozart and Beethoven, the music of 10 Years is based on equal parts provocative lyrics and massive sounds. Their influences range from Nine Inch Nails and Deftones to Simon and Garfunkel and Tori Amos. The backgrounds of the bands five members, who hail from Knoxville, Tennessee, are as diverse as their musical influences. They include an artist, a tennis champ, a rich kid, an outcast and an introvert. I guess you will just have to get to know these guys to find out which one is which.

In a quote from 10 Years frontman Jesse Hasek, the essence of their music is as much to do with what they aren’t then what they are.

Humanity is slowly shutting down

as he points to the current rock scene as prime example.

Music is supposed to be about intensity and feeling, but there is no thinking behind the music that’s out there today. We want people to think, to feel emotions again. We’re always plugged in or connected to something, part of the machine. But the more we plug in the less human we become.

The current line up for 10 Years is Jesse Hasek on lead vocals, Ryan “Tater” Johnson on one guitar, Matt Wantland on the other guitar, Lewis “Big Lew” Cosby on bass guitar, and Brian Vodinh on drums and backing vocals. The band 10 Years is similar in style to the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Nickelback, or Chevelle. But don’t plug them in altogether with those bands. After the second or third listen you get the sense of a different texture and tone. Just try and put your finger on it. 

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Posted by on December 23, 2008 in 10 Years, Division, Music Review

 

Steve Winwood – Nine Lives

The tell tale sign of growing older can be seen in the aging of the musicians winwoodnineliveswe listen to. This is the case with Steve Winwood who turned sixty this past May.  I was about sixteen when I first heard of Steve Winwood. A friend of mine had a Blind Faith album that I loved to listen to. This led me to some of Winwood’s earlier recordings with The Spencer Davis Group and the classic “Gimme Some Lovin’” which has appeared in numerous movie soundtracks over the years.

In the eighties Winwood pursued a solo career and his sound blended with the pop culture of that time. You could sit back and just mellow out to “While You See A Chance” and “The Finer Things” or dance to the sounds from “Roll With It” and “Higher Love“. One of my favorites of Winwood is “Back In The High Life Again” with it’s hint of mandolin playing throughout the song. In the late eighties and early ninties my musical tastes didn’t sway to far from hard rock and heavy metal so Winwood fell from my musical radar screen.

Over the past decade my musical tastes have diversified quite a bit. I have spread my eclectic wings to sample the goods from Rap (Toby Mac and KJ-52), and Country (although it’s mostly pop-country), to R&B and Big Band. Although my heart lives in the safe waters of hard crunching guitars, I have found some sonic pleasure in the dark waters of the less head-banging realm of music. This branching out has lead me to such music sensations as Duffy, John Fogerty, Mark Knopfler, and Josh Groban. Such is the sensation with my album review today.

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Posted by on December 9, 2008 in Music Review, Nine Lives, Steve Winwood

 

Tesla – Forever More

One of my favorite bands of the late eighties and early nineties is Tesla. Named for the Serbian-American tesla_forever_moreinventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, this band had some diverse music that fluctuated between head-banging hard rock to edgy blues rock. This band may have actually been the first rock music our youngest daughter Crysta heard. She was within weeks of being born when Robin and I attended their 1992 concert in Tampa, Florida. Tesla have sold over 16 million albums in the United States as of this year. Tesla has wrongly been categorized as a glam metal band with the likes of Def Leppard and Poison. I think it’s namely due to the fact their popularity rose about the same time as those “polished” metal bands. The band has proudly proclaimed that their music is pure guitars and drums with no synthesizers or anything to distort their sound. Their previous six studio albums have all proudly proclaimed “No Machines.” As a guitar player myself I recognized that their musicianship and skill set Tesla apart from all the other “hair” metal bands of the eighties and nineties. The current band lineup is still Jeff Keith on lead vocals, Frank Hannon on guitars, piano, and Hammond organ, Brian Wheat on bass, and piano, and Troy Luccketta on drums. The only exception to the lineup is Dave Rude who replaces Tommy Skeoch on the second guitar.

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Posted by on November 11, 2008 in Forever More, Music Review, Tesla

 

Black Stone Cherry – Folklore and Superstition

Those Southern rockers from Edmonton, Kentucky are back with their sophomore release “Folklore and Superstition“. The latest album from Black Stone Cherry was released by Roadrunner Records on August 18th, 2008. Straight from the back roads and hills of Kentucky, these guys know how to bring the rock with a Southern flare and a little spice of invention. As mentioned in a previous review, these guys formed a band out of the boredom of growing up in a small town. The hard Southern sound and attitude emanate from the pores of these guys with potency reminiscent of the edginess of Molly Hatchet and the down home mythical folklore of Lynyrd Skynyrd. This is my second helping of this Kentucky concoction of simmering rock hooks, classic rock riffs, and blues tinted solos, and it feels more their own than their debut release. Black Stone Cherry is still Chris Robertson on lead vocals and guitar, Ben Wells on guitar, Jon Lawhon on bass, and John Fred Young on drums.

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Queen + Paul Rodgers – The Cosmos Rocks

What do you do if you are one of the most popular and unique rock bands in history and your popular and influential singer Freddie Mercury dies from the AIDS virus? If you are as talented as Brian May and Roger Taylor you continue to perform, and write your music. If you are new to this planet you can read about this influential rock band known as Queen here. The two remaining members of the legendary rock group Queen (original bassist John Deacon retired in the nineties) have continued to perform at fund raisers and benefits over the years. In 2004 the time came for Queen to be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame so the two remaining members invited one of the best voices in rock music to come perform with them. The voice was Paul Rodgers. So much energy and excitement surrounded that performance that the musicians announced a world tour for the year 2005. With the success of that 2005 world tour, including dates in Japan and North America, the newly created band Queen + Paul Rodgers scheduled another tour for the spring of 2006 which included 23 dates in North America. Throughout these tours and time off from them the members continued to write and record new music. On December 1st, 2007 the first brand new song was released for World AIDS Day. The song is called “Say It’s Not True” and was written by Roger Taylor. The song was also simultaneously released as a free download through a number of the band related web sites.

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Demon Hunter – Storm the Gates of Hell

The very first time I heard this band was through their video for “Infected” on TVU the Christian rock 24 hour music video channel. I had heard other “screamo” bands before but Demon Hunter was different. Their genre of music is actually called Metalcore which is a hybrid of Metal and Hardcore or Screamo. At first glance Demon Hunter sound like other Metalcore bands with the harsh screaming vocals, thrashing guitars, and heavy pounding drums. But Demon Hunter created has created a mix of melodic choruses with almost ballad like song structure and hardcore guttural scream vocals. Demon Hunter is designated as a Christian Heavy Metal band, but unlike Petra and Stryper of old, some would say this band is scarier. With their symbolic demon skull with bullet hole album covers, to their hardcore metal sound and gutteral screams they have staved off the mainstream metal label. The band was formed by brothers Don and Ryan Clark in Seattle, Washington and release their first album “Demon Hunter” in October of 2002. The current lineup is Ryan Clark on vocals, Don Clark on rhythm guitar, Jon Dunn on bass guitar, Timothy “Yodi” Watts on drums, and Ethan Luck on lead guitar, and backing vocals. Luck is a very busy musician because he is also currently playing drums for the Christian rock band Relient K. Luck was also a member of the ska band The O.C. Supertones.

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Steve Stevens – Memory Crash

Unless you are a fan of the rock guitar or a big fan of Billy Idol you probably have not heard of Steve Stevens. Stevens was born Steve Schneider and is an American guitarist and songwriter. He can’t be all bad, we share the same birth year (1959) and same last name (Schneider). Stevens attended New York City’s prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts as a music major. He studied the guitar and graduated in 1977. He is most known for his performances and writing with Billy Idol during Idol’s rocket to fame in the eighties. He is also a well known session guitarist and played all guitars on the successful solo album for Vince Neil of Motley Crue. The Neil, Stevens relationship began in the recording of the successful single “You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come” for the movie “Encino Man”. Steven’s previous solo albums “Atomic Playboys” in 1989 and “Flamenco A Go Go” in 1999 both received some critical acclaim and brief commercial success. Steven’s has worked with many artists from Michael Jackson on “Dirty Diana”, to Peter Criss. He is most notable for his guitar effects work like the ray gun sound on Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”. He uses multiple devices and techniques to create the unique effect sound.

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Posted by on September 23, 2008 in Memory Crash, Music Review, Steve Stevens

 

Metallica – Death Magnetic

Metallica reminds me of a talented professional football team who are consistently their own worse enemies. When they are on, they are hard to beat. First of all and almost after the band’s birth, one of the founding members Dave Mustaine was kicked out of the band for substance abuse. Then in 1986 bassist Cliff Burton was killed when the band’s tour bus flipped over during their European tour. Over the past eight years the band has also had a love / hate relationship with their fans. In 2001 they filed a lawsuit against the peer-to-peer file sharing company Napster for sharing their copyrighted material. This began the alienation of their fan base who had already considered Metallica sellouts to the mainstream after their fanatically high powered album “…And Justice For All”. For many fans “Justice” was their last “trash-metal” genre influencing album. Then with the highly anticipated June, 2003 release of “St. Anger” fans found or didn’t find any guitar solos on the album, and gone for good were the long, addrenaline charged, thrash-metal songs. This was a total disappointment for their dwindling number of fans. The guitar soloing of Kirk Hammett had become a staple with this heavy metal band. Needless to say this latest effort by Metallica has not been as anticipated from the hard core Metallica fan as some of the past releases. They did release three songs early to iTunes prior to the album release. In an effort to try and win back their fan base Metallica, mainly Lars Ulrich, released a YouTube channel and a dedicated album website “Mission:Metallica” to personally plug into those fans once again. The anticipation of the new album release has gathered some momentum as of late. Many fans and critics alike consider the three songs that were released that of the “old school” nature. This has created a frenzy among fans to hear more. But in an effort to squelch the early sharing of their new music Metallica leaked false song names and fake recordings to the public. Again with the ped-execution.

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Posted by on September 16, 2008 in Death Magnetic, Metallica, Music Review

 

John Fogerty – Revival

Today I am back to do another music review after an absence of a couple of weeks. This week I am going back in time. I am reviewing an album that was released about a year ago by an artist who has been making music since the Bad Moon Rising. John Fogerty was the primary song writer for the American roots rock band affectionately known as Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band, also known as Creedence or CCR, gained popularity in the late sixties and early seventies with a string of successful hits. Creedence founded a new genre within rock music called swamp rock. The band was formed with John’s two other school buddy’s Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook, and John’s older brother Tom. The three younger members used to back Tom Fogerty at gigs until they decided to form a band together. Tom was the original singer but John took over the lead duties as Tom later stated “I could sing, but John had a sound.” Creedence eventually broke up over leadership and direction in the middle seventies and John went solo. He recorded one record called “The Blue Ridge Rangers” with the Creedence label. Then began the struggle to get out of his contract with that original label. It wasn’t until the early eighties when David Geffen’s Asylum Records bought out his contract for an estimated $1Mil before Fogerty released another record. His next major hit came in 1985 with the song “Centerfield”. However he refused to do any old CCR songs while on tour. He received many complaints about this during and after his shows. Finally in 1987 he lifted his self-imposed ban to perform the CCR songs at the persuading of Bob Dylan and George Harrison who had joined him on stage. According to Wikipedia, the persuasion went like this “if you don’t, the whole world’s gonna think ‘Proud Mary’ is Tina Turner’s song”. Today John Fogerty performs the CCR songs along with his solo material.

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Journey – Revelation

If I had not included a title for this music review posting would you have been able to identify the band with song titles like “Look Into the Future”, “Spaceman”, or “Next”? Probably not. Those songs were on the three pre-Steve Perry Journey albums. I say pre-Steve Perry because after he joined Journey they made hits that you probably will recognize. Songs like “Anyway You Want It”, “Don’t Stop Believing”, and “Open Arms” to just name a few. Steve Perry created quite a distinction in Journey. Prior to his joining the band and his eventual departure from it, they just were a different band.  Prior to Perry, the band Journey was formed out of the hugely popular Latin/Rock band Santana. Two members Neal Schon on lead guitar, and Greg Rolie on keyboards, joined with other studio musicians to create a backup band for established San Francisco Bay area musicians. They called themselves the Golden Gate Rhythm Section. They eventually abandoned the “backup band” concept and developed a jazz-fusion style of music. The original lineup became Schon, Rolie, bassist Ross Valory, and british session drummer Aynsley Dunbar. They would record the three albums mentioned previously before they became the epitome of what an arena rock band was in the late seventies and all through the eighties. In the nineties Journey recorded one studio album before Steve Perry had a hiking accident in Hawaii. He could not perform without hip replacement surgery, which he refused to undergo. Journey replaced Perry with several singers over the years but no one could match the style or popularity of Steve Perry. If you listen to any of the albums with those replacement singers you can hear that they were definitely trying to match the popular sound of the previous Journey.

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Posted by on August 19, 2008 in Journey, Music Review, Revelation