U2 are a Christian band giving you a gift called “Songs Of Innocence”. Why you wanna be so shitty?

Songs Of Innocence U2 Album review by Keith Hartel

U2biquity is nothing to fear.

ALBUME REVIEW: Here’s how Christian I think U2 is: I think they’re the benevolent equivalent of Mel Gibson, or, expressed more economically: Bizarro Mel Gibson. They take the title of their new album from William Blake, who can be described as a “Christian mystic”. Do you think U2 put a lot of thought into what they call this thing they’re giving to half a billion people? I’m gonna guess the answer is yes. So what’s a mystic? The way I’d describe is it is a mystic is someone who experiences the divine as subjective reality . Throughout history, there have always been nay-sayers who find these people insane. Sometimes they even kill mystics. Assuming Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure, one could make an argument that he was not literally “the son of God” any more than anyone else, but his mystical experiences convinced him that he was, and he went around talking about it. Big mistake. And now they wanna kill U2 too.

William Blake and U2 Songs Of Innocence

In terms of how much attention each of their new albums receives upon release, I believe U2 may be on top of the longest winning streak in rock and roll history. Last I heard, U2 are Christians (except for Adam Clayton, which is why he’s the one that went out with Naomi Campbell, I guess.) Since they’re Irish, religion isn’t simply a comforting aspect of their lives, or such is my speculation. What’s impressive about this to me is they don’t advertise or emphasize their spirituality but it has always been reflected in their work. This means they are in the faith, hope and love business, rather than the anger and selfishness business. For the most part, all my favorite artists are geniuses at expressing negativity, from John Lennon all the way down. I love that shit. If Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen or Elliott Smith of Kurt Cobain (extra points for suicides!) are selling darkness and despair I will put mustard (alcohol?) on that shit and gobble it down. But that’s the easy way. BTW: I gotta mention Cohen and Cave have also written many powerfully uplifting songs that express real feelings of transcendent sacred hope. Here’s an interesting snippet of Jim Morrison talking about where I’m going with this:

“A PIECE OF MUSIC IS THE PURE EXPRESSION OF JOY (1968) – JIM MORRISON

Apple and U2 have colluded to revolutionize what it means when a new album comes out, at least this once. What I’m interested in is what they have decided would be the thing they give to basically every person in the civilized world. So U2 being U2 and Apple being Apple, I believe careful consideration has gone into what they’re dumping into everyone’s library. A band doesn’t end up in U2′s position by accident. U2 always worked hard towards the aim of being being the biggest band in the world. U2 in general and Bono in particular have been committed to using their powers for good to the point of near absurdity. I find the reaction to their new free album to be cynical and jaded beyond all rationality, but that’s probably just because I’m looking at my Facebook feed, which consists primarily of crabby old punk rockers in their 40s and 50s who are living in the year 1983 (like myself). But boy, oh boy, do people love making wisecracks about U2 giving them an album they never asked for. The sheer effrontery of this grand gesture has got legions of middle-aged men acting like the snotty adolescent older daughter on all my favorite “golden age of TV” cable serials. It’s just another thing coming at you over the computer, get into it or ignore it or delete it but if you’re complaining about it it’s because you LOVE complaining. I love complaining. Complaining reinforces the ego with beautiful efficiency. But for me, this is no such occasion. I find “Songs Of Innocence” to be inspiring and uplifting and it gives me hope for the future of rock and roll and for humanity.

U2 have the elements of a “real” band. You can really hear the contribution of each of the four members on every song. Like the Who, each member has an idiosyncratically individual musical personality expressed through their style but like the Ramones there is no virtuosity, no element superfluous to the expression of the song. This is consistently the case throughout the album. Bono in particular is singing as beautifully Bono-like as ever but he sounds more interested in the song than he is in his own Bono-nature. He’s not going a step past what is needed. On any other U2 album from “Unforgettable Fire” onward Bono gets a little too rich for my blood, but never on this album.

The first song is “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”. They come out pushing all the right buttons for U2-80s-new wave nostalgia. They’re coming at you with the “whoa whoahs” and the moody minimalist piano vibes of “New Year’s Day”, then the Edge comes in sounding more crunchy and lo-fi than ever. This guitar is loud and distorted and rocking hard and obnoxious but NOT Ramones-like, which is a good choice. When the groove kicks in I like to imagine they were thinking of Adam and the Ants. It has the stick clicks of “Antmusic” and the “Whoah whoas” associated with Adam and the Ants (and also U2, of course). A little of the old military snare. They always were good at using the snare drum to remind you of a military band and thus the underpinning haunting subconscious knowledge of the ongoing inevitability of the never-ending horrors of war. It’s an Irish thing, these people didn’t just discover terrorism over the last 15 years. This is the first of many songs that evokes the “War” album for me, which is the best U2 ever were. Take into consideration once again, the demographic they’re appealing to is EVERYBODY. Also, most people who like U2 at all have liked them for a REALLY LONG TIME, decades. These guys have been around the block enough to know what side their bread is buttered on. All of us Gen-x-ers grew up with U2, whether we cared to or not. What I like about this song is it seems to say “remember that feeling, it has always been there”. No music gets under your skin like the stuff you got into when you were 14. Ask the surviving Beatles and Stones, who have always embraced this truth. This song is about connecting with what it means to find the healing powers of rock and roll at the most painful and confusing part of life, the transition of adolescence. It’s also a sexy and exciting time, full of the feeling of possibility and the FUTURE. I think this song expresses all of that. For me personally it does somewhat remind me of my favorite band when I was 13 and this song in particular:

and also around the same time I was way into this:

And the hook for the first song on their latest and biggest new album contains the lines:

“Everything I ever lost now has been returned, the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard”

That’s very beautiful to me. It takes me back to when music really was the thing that made sense out of the world. Before I grew up and “figured it all out” and worked out my “philosophy of life”. What’s REALLY deep about it is this: from U2′s Christian perspective, “everything I ever lost” can only mean the connection to God, or the collective-consciousness, “the higher power”, the ONE, the thing bigger than yourself, the thing that the so-called “soul” is said to be hooked into. The pursuit of ecstatic connection triggered by the mysterious powers of music (like, how does it work? Why does it DO that to us?) is an expression of this spiritual longing, just like the booze and drugs and sex and all the other good stuff. Television, for Christ’s sake! ANYTHING to feel connected and immersed in something larger than yourself that you can lose yourself in. So this song and this chorus contain for me all that is needed to show that U2 is back and they have something worthwhile to say to us. Remember, they’re old too, they’re in the same boat. This is a line that fits and is simple and contains the whole meaning of life. And it’s catchy and it has a good beat. The Edge does not lean on special effects here and he’s playing some real satisfying punk rock rhythm guitar. I’m assuming this song had to have been written and recordedy before the recent death of Tommy Ramone, which triggered a wave of nostalgia ultimately resulting in the canonization of the Ramones as second most important band ever. If this is indeed the case, U2 has their finger on the pulse in a way that continues to be SPOOKY! They do a great job of making an anthemic rocker that doesn’t in any way attempt to sound like the Ramones. “Vertigo” sounded more like the Ramones than this one does. They got good taste.

The second song is “Every Breaking Wave”. This song is shamelessly evocative of “With or Without You”, but faster, more driving, which only takes it slightly past the excitement level of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, but I’m really digging it. As a matter of fact, because you can easily picture Sting singing these verses, for the first time ever I know for a fact that I find Bono a million times less annoying than Sting. But this is a cool, middling Police-type song. I like the line, “Every gambler knows that to lose is what you’re really there for”. I’m not a gambler, but I’m familiar with the concept, it’s a big part of the psychology of self-destruction. Contrary to Bono’s assertion, I’m sure there’s a lot of gamblers out there who think they want the thrill of victory but Bono’s talking about the self-examining self-destroyer, who really knows he’s his own worst enemy all along. That’s a lot of extrapolation from one simple lyric and a great example of the strength of Bono’s words on this album. From the unique perspective of the Christian rock star, I find this to be a line that expresses sincere empathy and compassion, without judgement. You don’t get as big as U2 without making a deal with the devil, and I believe Bono is quietly and non-self-aggrandizingly grappling with his own demons, whatever form they may take. This song is about not waiting for the next big thing to make your life worthwhile. “To be swept off our feet and stop chasing every breaking wave” and “I thought I heard the Captain’s voice, it’s hard to listen while you preach” are examples of Bono sharing moments when he discovers humility is where fulfillment lies. “Are we so hopeless against the tide?” Good fucking question the song is asking. This is a song about strength in spiritual surrender, which is the only strength there is that won’t ultimately result in eating yourself alive, somehow. “We’re in love with defeat” has to do with the human condition in general. Did I say this song is about surrender? Bono uses a sweet falsetto that uncharactistically makes him softer at the peak of the melody. The message I take from this song is “the kingdom of heaven is within.” It’s catchy, it’s got a good beat.

I love an album that puts the best song 3rd, and for me this is clearly one of them. On “California” they kick into my favorite groove which my friend calls “The Sex Pistols beat” but I think of it as “the ‘Funtime’ beat” and here’s a couple favorite examples:

IGGY POP – THE IDIOT – FUNTIME

DAVID BOWIE – RED SAILS

But it makes me want to dance like this:

SCENE FROM FOOTLOOSE

Now I’m really digging this album. It is building momentum, the tempo is faster, dancier, but still rocking and the message is super-duper Christian! “There is no end to love”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s up there with “All You Need Is Love” and “The love you take is equal to the love you make”, as far as I’m concerned at the moment. This is a great song about Universal Cosmic Love. Warning: this Love does not disintegrate haters, it absorbs them. We got us a new Van Morrison here, Irish mysticism expressed directly and simply. That may be wishful thinking on my part, but there’s no denying this groove don’t quit. This is some super-entertaining new wave power pop. The synths in the chorus sound warmly soothing in a way that reminds me of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” (again with the 80s retro), but there’s also some subtle tasty string arrangement sounding stuff and then the Edge takes a melodic guitar solo that is more straightforward in expression of simple and loud and fat melody than I can ever remember hearing him do, he sounds like more like Television and the Skids, which he always credited as primary influences. Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton (from here on in referred to as “the rhythm section”) are appropriately propulsive. There is no song ever written where it is more obvious when you’re hearing The Hook and I mean that in the best possible sense. My favorite “whoa-whoahs” on the album. It’s real catchy and has a really good beat. Unfortunately, for me it’s all downhill from here. Plenty of quality U2 for the next 40 minutes or so, but I could listen to “California” all day. I hereby declare it is my favorite U2 song of all time.

This next “Song For Someone” starts with a nice acoustic Edge guitar. This is sort of a nice new “One”, if you want that kind of thing. I like it better than “One” which, again, is a little rich for my blood. Yet another “classic-U2″ sounding song on the album. Again, in his guitar solo, The Edge evokes his primary original influence, Stuart Adamson of the Skids:

THE SKIDS – CHARADE

Stuart Adamson went on to further refine his bagpipe-like melodic guitar style with a band called Big Country. He’s dead now.

“Iris” has the band as one rhythm unit. This is real old school U2, “Where The Streets Have No Name” with a little of the mood of the “War” album style but faster and leaner and meaner. The Edge has got his delay back and he remembers how to use it. Not a bad song, but maybe the closest they get to doing “U2-by-numbers” on this album. It’s a fairly silly love song (some people want to fill the world with them). I like the ending tagline “Free yourself to be yourself, only you can see yourself”. Positive energy!

“Volcano” starts with bass and drums, almost like an old Pixies tune. The chorus reminds me a bit of Siouxsie and the Banshees with maybe even a little REM “This One Goes Out To The One I Love” thrown in via the guitar line at the end. The 80s mood continues, this is the point of the album where I’m starting to suspect they front loaded all the really good songs, but that’s no crime. Total album track, not bad. There’s some nice guitar on here, as always. Single note-lines rather than chords makes it sort of modern-sounding.

“Raised By Wolves” builds tension through the first two verses with some typically minimalist U2 style piano, gradually increasing in volume. This song is about growing up in the urban blight of war-torn Dublin, and the tension builds until the chorus bursts out : “Raised by wolves, stronger than fear”. And what’s stronger than fear? Conventional wisdom says the answer is love, but they don’t come right out and say that, sneaky Christians that they are. The pattern of evoking nostalgia for the classic, early, “innocent” U2 is continued. On this track it’s a nice little bit of “New Year’s Day” style piano. So we’re back where we started once again, pretty much in a good way.

“Cedarwood” is all over the place. It’s got some incongruously non U2-like heaviosity that reminds me at times of Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” of all things and some great melodic bass playing from Adam Clayton. This song seems like it was built out of leftover parts that were too good to be thrown out. Every part is stylistically different, but it sounds like it should be four different developed songs instead of one string of different ideas. It’s all good, except I don’t think it works as a song.

“Sleep Like a Baby” has nice minimalistic synth work. These sounds reminds me of stuff like U2′s early contemporaries: Yazoo, early Depeche Mode, Heaven 17 and good old Human League mores than U2. Bono’s singing in a style and using some sort of vocal phasing effect that makes him sound like Marc Bolan, which is pretty fucking cool. The song ends up sounding almost like a cross between U2 and the Eurhythmics. Bono hits an incredibly high falsetto in this tune, so high it’s like he almost disappears into it. And the outré solo-is super rude and fuzztonish. Nice groove and sound, not a great song.

“This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now” sets up some nice vibes with acoustic guitar, more classic-style U2 piano and a group vocal that makes me think once again of the “War” album. Getting towards the end of this album, I’m thinking U2′s own “songs of innocence” culminated on their third album, “War”. Remember, they had the picture of the same little kid on the first album and the third album (and a handful of import singles, and the video for “Two Hearts Beat As One”). “War” was the end of the innocence for these boys. That was the album where they hit their stride stylistically and became big rock stars in America. Say, I wonder if that’s presently being rereleased on iTunes, in remastered form? (along with the rest of their catalogue) Wouldn’t that be something?

Now all of a sudden, at the last song, the plot thickens! Is U2 trying to edge themselves into the Beatles/Bowie/Stones/Elvis Costello category of artists who can sell you their old classics over and over again? The reason I ask this is I gotta say, I loved the first three U2 albums when I was a kid but I have never owned them since the advent of the compact disc, because I was too cool to buy U2 records when their latest hit was consistently omnipresent all throughout MTV’s entire music video playing era. But I’m starting to feel like I want to own those first three albums again, and it’s this album that is making me feel this way. You gotta be a certain age to get the urge to buy albums, or a weirdo. And that’s why Ace Frehley is at number 2 in the charts and Bowie releases a new old album every year.

So I digress, the second last song’s got “Soldier, soldier” in it and when U2′s got a gang of voices singing about anything to do with war, it’s gonna remind you of “War” in some way or other. The Edge is doing some great, semi-Radioheadish electric guitar in it in the intro. Or is it ZZ Top? And then it goes disco. A more 70s version of “Achtung-era” U2, another winning period for the group. As a matter of fact I’m gonna say it’s got “Achtung” verses and “War” choruses. The Edge is playing some real cool spiky single note rhythms on this. Even with all these assets the song seems to deserve it’s placement as second last song on the album, a traditional dead spot. Not that anyone’s ever gonna listen to the whole thing all the way through. AND it’s the longest song on the album! Nice touch. I guess it just HAD to have that superfluous acoustic breakdown!

So finally, the last song is a long, slow, boring thing called “The Troubles”. Starts out with some female voices. It’s a moody song that maybe gets into that mood of “One” but with a different approach. I’m not loving these lady vocals at the end of the album. This song starts from a low place dynamically, but really seems to try to have “moments”. Seems like all icing. At least they give The Edge the last word, with a long strong outré solo that is very traditionally Edge-like.

It occurs to me this album could actually be great it if it were 15 minutes shorter. The 35 minute album! That’s what I really miss and it’s one of the reasons we used to listen to entire albums. Overall, I enjoy this U2 album. It’s got all the elements I like about them and a few great songs. I don’t think they owe anyone an apology.

RELATED: What is going on with Tom Petty that he feels a need to rock so fucking hard at this specific time?

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Video: Drive Like Jehu Live Balboa Park, San Diego 2014

drive-like-jehu-video-san-diego-560x

LIVE VIDEO: DRIVE LIKE JEHU is one those groups we all hear from so many good indie rock bands that they influenced their sound in some way. Your truly unthankfully included. Jehu existed at the same time as Rocket from the Crypt in the 1990s and we dug them both. And it’s funny we (i mean me) talk about the 90′s like we do the 1960′s like we do Hendrix, Zep and The Who. Not that there is any comparison with the notoriety or the level of world wide influence as lets say Nirvana got who existed at the same time as Jehu. In fact they over-shadowed 100 of bands and Interscope was never really able to cash-in on them when there was the free-for-all. But basically bands from the 90′s are the results of having heard those bands and going the complete other directon by disregarding harmony and infusing a punk ethos and getting the opportunity to record a major label album like Yank Crime at not have a radio hit in the conventional sense. At least in my humble opinion this is one of the bands that defines the energy of Southern California and I am thankful for their existence and can’t imagine part of musical landscape without them. Think about it for a little while and then leave a comment if you want.

Anyway, there were always two sides of the fence and resentment from fans that these guys didn’t get as much fame as lets say Husker Du or The Replacements who came before as the attention Rocket from the Crypt got but in their brief Hey Day they were prolific and continue in the formats of Obits, The Night Marchers and of course Hot Snakes where they continue on building their indie rock empire and chapters in history. I like them all and in partcular enjoy the guitar interplay between Jon and Rick and they happy they get to rock for a living. It’s a rare thing to see and hear. These two are the few who mastered the art of re-invention in exploratory and irritating noise guitar. We say it’s a nusance because they do it so well. Needless to say the grinding in this video has tons of energy and maybe would be a fun show to see at some dive bar since the stage they are playing on is huge but either wayt when Rick Froberg thanks the audience “for watching their retarded music.” That is basically a nice summary of their formula and something for new bands to take notice of. This could be your 1960′s.

The annoying hum you can feel underneath the music is driven by the organ piping in some crazy bass undertones from the GIGANTIC PIPES behind the band. Not sure if you can notice it because the regular bass and drums are not feeding back but for the most part this sounds great and its a compilation of all the people who shot the band from various angles. Some in focus and some not. Eventually the hum calms down and the sound engineer gets it under control. So almost like you are there. Youtuber Fabio Cunha took the time to edit and sync the audio so kudos to that guy. The last song in their set just kills what guitared indie rock is all about.

RELATED ARTICLE: The story of Jon Reis Vs. Rock Froberg

DOWNLOAD SOME MP3s:
Here Come The Rome Plows by Drive Like Jehu from Yank Crime (1994 Interscope)
Rock N’ Roll Will Never Die(live) by Hot Snakes from Thunder Down Under (2006)

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Singles and Bands to Watch: The Young Wild, Manna Frost Trio and Galkin

Ok vacation is over but still working to get real life going, in particular my new business venture for making videos on a full time basis and digital support for viva la hara films + digital. Please take a moment and check it out.

THE YOUNG WILD - Just released their electronic data inspirared EP called For Now Not Forever. The 8 bit lyric video below is awesome. “Moment goes” is the name of the single and it’s pretty nice. We recommend seeking out the whole record. Think EMF meets YAZ in echoing Depeche Mode keyboard let chamber which should make your feet do the dancy dance. The kids were expecting another DJ spun EDM set but instead get these guys who can sing and have enough guitar tangle. Perfect for a movie soundtrack.

VIDEO: THE YOUNG WILD – MOMENT GOES (LYRIC VIDEO)

Stacy Harden - Manna Frost trio

MANNA FROST TRIO – Mellow yellow acoustic american folk rock. We dig this single “Empty Seats” from their new record Overgrowth. Sorta pink floydish psych on the other tracks but mostly not this song swoops along giving you plenty of visuals. The video mostly looks like it was shot by one person in the woods of North Carolina somewhere. I’m guessing Stacy Harden is the hippie camper depicted behind the cinematography but its all good. This will appeal to greatful dead and Neutral Milk Hotel fans a like. Maybe it will make you cry. Comes to you via sky core records.

“And I’ll always get sad
listening to the Dead
Driving down to Assateague
in my head”

VIDEO: MANNA FROST TRIO – EMPTY SEATS

pity-party

GALKIN – Find some slacker rock on the EP called Pity Party. Some weenesque vocal effects and some mildy droning guitar strumming gives you Toronto’s Mikhail one man band. We dig this so give these jams a go and space-out.

Ok facehookers give this a like to support the bands.

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Claude Coleman Jr – on a “Summer Road” with another great Amandla Jam

Claude Coleman Jr - Amandla Single Review

SINGLE REVIEW: “Summer Road” is a great closer for the Summer of 2014. Fuck, so much ear-candy on this song. He of course has fucking phasers on the drums. Classic Claude move – smoother than a brazillian waxing with plenty of guitar dueling solo action. Nothing brown about this song and a good teaser from his third album Laughing Hearts which we’ve been looking forward to for years. Claude Coleman Jr is of course the former Ween drummer and our brother from another mother. We met him in New Brunswick so many moons ago and saw his band Skunk play a few times and then in various projects since. Which were quite inspirational to guitar dorks like Billy Corrigans and myself. Listen back to back to Gish by the smashing pumpkins and Last American Virgin to hear what I’m talking about. Anyway, this single should set you straight that he’s beyond influences or ahead of them. Sure you initially hear the calming vocal tones of Elvis Costello and you will also notice the delivery on this jam is relentless. Just keeps giving on every listen because the church of rock is in session people.

To put it mildly you shall be overcome with fists of glorius crunching rock on the same level of The Hold Steady. Honetly, when Amandla does the tour thing you should do yourself a favor and go out that night. We will see you there. Claude’s music is uplifting and makes me smile a whole bunch of teeth ear to ear. Band website .

RELATED: The magic of Amandla – Before Tomorrow

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Michael Fiore – Noticing a Stranger – Danger on Santa Monica Blvd

michael fiore from Criminal HYgiene

ALBUM REVIEW: You would have to be a real asshole to not like Michael Fiore’s acoustic solo record. Now if I was walking by in hurry down Santa Monica Boulevard and I saw some kid playing guitar with his case open; you and me both would probably keep walking. He might even keep walking but by that fat fucking chance my ears would be listening to the right refrain or verse. I would stop for at least a complete tune. I did this a couple years ago when he sent me his band’s debut full length by Criminal Hygiene and I then decided I needed to re-arrange my record collection. I still enjoy their record today and have turned on lots of friends to their music. I’ve passed them this joint and again I pass this one to you guys. To all four Review Stalker blog fans who care about song writing in the raw. Just a dude and his guitar singing bits, maybe throw-offs that might be too Westerbergian for even criminial hygiene. Either way this is good song writing all the way throguh. Let me also point out I hate most singer song writers guys but came to terms that we are all this on guy corner in the end. He has a thankless job because he has the song maker bug. He’ll keep pluging away and in this batch there are jems. So enjoy and throw a $7 spot his way and grab a beer and enjoy.

Don’t be shy facehooker, give this a like because your mom might like this too.

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Spray Paint – No-No Wave/Dub/Scum Rock band

Spray Paint Austin Texas band

We like noise. We like trash. We like Austin’s Spray Paint’s tune “Threesome Can Wait” from their third lp Clean Blood, Regular Acid. If you like shit that seems to crawl on the walls and stick there with some weird stuff glistening as if you injected some delay into a box full of devo bobble heads then that is what this song sounds like. Plus drugs but I don’t think I can agree with the topic. Unless they are being sarcastic. Given the opportunity I would probably would give a long frozen stare. “What did you just ask me?” Then this noise would start to play in my mind at which point. I would get it. I would. website | Bandcamp

RIYL: Scratch Acid, Butholes, The Fall, Swell Maps

Catch their noise on tour in September.

9/19 – AUSTIN, TX @ HOTEL VEGAS #!
9/20 – MCALLEN, TX @ CINE EL RAY #
9/21 – HOUSTON, TX @ WALTERS DOWNTOWN #$
9/22 – NORMAN, OK @ THE OPOLIS #
9/23 – KANSAS CITY, KS @ MINIBAR #
9/24 – CHICAGO, IL @ EMPTY BOTTLE #
9/25 – DETROIT, MI @ PJ’S LAGER HOUSE #
9/26 – LOUISVILLE, KY @ CROPPED OUT #
9/27 – MEMPHIS, TN @ GONERFEST #
! – w/ Ghetto Ghouls
# – w/ The Rebel (Ben Wallers from Country Teasers)
$ – w/ Merchandise and Institute

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Singles and Bands to Watch: Plankton Dada Wave, Hidden Charms, New Mike Watt & Black Lady Soul

We like to champion new bands here at Review Stalker. Mostly because we wish there were sites or magazines or writers who looked beyond the hype and wrote about our bands or paid attention to the sounds that were hitting their ears. We like passionate writers and if you think you want to take a stab by all means get in touch. Join us. We’re just here bubbling up and weeding through all sorts of shit in our boring days to give you first listens to bands that might be just coming-up around in their scene. No matter where it is. We listen then judge your band name or band photo. Not the other way around. Honestly, if we had more time to listen and feature more than we do – we would. Important to know it is a total labor of love who we do decide to put on the site. We don’t get paid to do. Anyway, enough about us here’s a bunch of quick blips on some music.

hidden-charms-photos

First up here’s Hidden Charms which are four young lads from London who play Rhythm and Blues. You know like the stones used to claim. These guys sound more like the Zombies at least from the vocal perspective and are no where near as proficient as the Rolling Fucking Stones but still well produced getting some nice breaks with just their very first single being made available here.

Black Lady Soul from Ontario Canada give you some slow soul grooves on their latest bandcamp offering. Stand-up basss that swing you along along.

Black Lady Soul “The Fall”

VIDEO: Mike Watt in il sogno del marinaio “il songo del fienile”

One minute we’re checking out the latest offering from Mike Watt with some dudes from Italy from a band called il Sogno Del Marinaio and then BLAMO. We get bands from Italy sending us music. Which is the is coolest thing I love most about doing this blog. We get music from all over the world and always make a point to check them out because we’re all about your maximum rock-n-roll experience. Dangerous Minds has more details on this one.

 Haus Of Dada Plankton Data Wave

So Ladies and Gentlemen here’s Plankton Dada Wave and their latest bandcamp offering available as a 10″ called Haus Of Dada which goes for 13 Euro which I think is like 26 USDs or something(don’t quote me? Anyway comes with a nice multi-coloured Tee-shirt which is worth it right there. Oh the music you ask? Well son, if you dig when XTC got arty or watts bass playing on DOS. Then this interesting mix of psuedo prog punk will be your thing. This music is frenetic and whimsical. You know like a crazy persons must feel like with an entire circus of clowns going nuts in the inner lobe of their brains. The featured track “Ygolohcysp”, which if you were backing up into my blog you would see in your rearview mirror what this really spells. So tricky these Dada-o-ist. The lead track totally samples Trio and their tune Da Da Da and then they just blow it out from there. The lyrics are all in Italy so we have no clue what they actually singing about but the mood is totall fun. This music is brought you by Ghost Records. One listen through and you’ll feel nuts. Trust me.

Ok facebookers, ain’t nothing like the life of a pimp so give this a like.

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The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt… Surprisingly and Pleasantly Painful…

Gaslight_Anthem_Get_Hurt

ALBUM REVIEW: Brian Fallon, frontman for the Gaslight Anthem (GLA), always spoke in interviews of what to musically expect with each new upcoming GLA album.  Ironically, every time he declared the band was taking their sound in a bold, new direction, they delivered yet another kick ass collection of familiar “punk-n-roll soul” with gritty, Ness meets Petty vocals.

The Gaslight Anthem Get Hurt Album Review

This time around discussing Get Hurt, their fifth full length release, Fallon spoke about the wonder of some bands that drastically changed their sound and live to talk about it, a very risky move that often doesn’t end pretty for rock bands.  Get Hurt is by no means Achtung Baby or Kid A but for GLA it is.  Unlike their peers in the National and the Hold Steady, both recently releasing great but “safe” albums, in efforts to reach the next level of rockdom, it seems GLA courageously  said “fuck that” and decided to shake things up a bit.  The Garden State darlings finally kept their word, grew a pair and took the plunge, interestingly at a time when they too are eyeing that same rockdom and should play it safe.  Audacious?  Ballsy?  Yup…I agree.

Quite simply, Get Hurt is far more rock and far less punk, more Petty and less Ness,  full of ambitious, stadium size anthems with the band trying to live up to their very name. Sure you have the traditional punkish ferocity of “Rollin’ And Tumblin” that still packs a similar punch like “1930″ does on their 2007 debut album Sink or Swim or “Orphans” on 2012′s American Slang, but is also the closest “typical” GLA song on the entire album and smack right in the middle of the playlist, reminding their fans that they didn’t forget where they come from and still punk as fuck. The intriguing title track sounds like a scrubbed up, leftover Horrible Crowes (Fallon’s side project, check out their excellent debut record, Elsie) number that is just begging for radio play. Other standout tracks include “1,000 Years,” “Helter Skeleton,” “Selected Poems” “Stay Vicious” and “Dark Places” (my favorite track thus far).

But yet again, perhaps both GLA and their fans should have seen it coming since it isn’t like the band didn’t flirt with different ground before .  Mixing punk driven rock with 50′s sha la la’s and 60′s R&B groove has been constant in their music since 2008′s The 59 Sound (their second full length release).  Or check out the Cure-ish “Old White Lincoln “on the same album.  Then try listening to “Get Hurt” and “Here Comes My Man” from 2012′s Handwritten back to back.  Pretty complimentary if you ask me.  One could even argue that the band has already been mildly indulging in experimentation with 2008′s Senor and the Queen EP since the recording has a much different, almost disjointed feel to it despite decent songs (especially “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts.”).

Overall Get Hurt is a solid effort and, I will say it again,  a ballsy move by a band whose engines have been noticeably sputtering a tad bit on their last 2 releases.  If you are looking for the blue collar punk of the past you may be let down but I am kind of relieved GLA sound has pleasantly aged and matured from the first time I saw them at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony on their 59 Sound tour and from the New Brunswick basement scene where they hatched. Will GLA fans get hurt with this new release?  If you grow a pair, dive in like the band did maybe you will suffer some scrapes or a bruise at most…and pleasantly so.

Give this a like Facehookers.

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What is going on with Tom Petty that he feels a need to rock so fucking hard at this specific time?

Tom Petty Heart Breakers -HYPNOTIC EYE Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: What has gotten into Tom Petty that he feels a need to rock so fucking hard at this point?

 Every now and again a very great and classic singer/songwriter/rock and roll type artist, who are believed to have more than earned the right to be “past their prime” and rest on their laurels, just for no apparent reason, up and make one of their greatest albums ever. My favorite examples of this are Dylan’s “Time Out Of Mind”, Bowie’s “Heathen” (well, maybe not one of his BEST but that’s a high fuckin’ bar) and of course the one that started it all; Neil Young’s “Ragged Glory”. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Hypnotic Eye” is one of THOSE albums.
  I suspect that the Petty camp has been appreciating the strengths of the post-modern, lo-fi, soulful, semi-ironic primitive blues-ness of the Black Keys. At least that’s the first thought I had listening to the first tune, “American Dream Plan B”.

  The sound is uncluttered and in your face with a “singing soulfully into a tin can” style vocal and a fat and rude low frequency distorted riff over a straight backbeat. It sounds like you’re actually listening to a guy in a room playing a drum set. Then, all of a sudden, the chorus comes and it is EXTREMELY Tom Petty-like:. “I’ve got a dream I’m gonna fight ’til I get it, I’ve got a dream I’m gonna fight ’til I get it RIGHT”. Somehow what he’s singing sounds both youthfully optimistic and worldweary-wise. It’s partly because of the music and partly because of the words, just like all great songwriting. And then Mike Campbell throws a crude, yet impeccably melodic distorted guitar riff in there, evoking (to this listener, at least) “Satisfaction” and Them’s “I Can Only Give You Everything”

Them – I can only give you everything

  But the most remarkable event happens after the second chorus: the band launches into a beautiful “acoustic-strumming-with-slide” George Harrison tribute lasting less then half a minute and then Mike Campbell rips into a manic guitar solo that sounds more or less exactly like Dave Davie’s on the Kinks “You Really Got Me”

the kinks- you really got me

Post-modern cut and paste playful cultural appropriationism reaches its zenith in the second song “Fault Lines”, which is a fucking rhumba!  But when the first crashing chord introduces the verse vocal, you instantly remember you’re listening to the new Tom Petty album. And the hook, line and SINKER: “I’ve got a few of my own fault lines running under my life” is just so classic it’s surprising no one ever came up with it already. “Red River” in the beginning reminds me of Aerosmith and the Stooges (in it’s use of the awesome one-note piano over heavy driving rock)

 So let’s talk about the players: I’d like to start by first recognizing Benmont Tench as team player supreme. This album is more guitar driven than any Tom Petty album (at least any I can think of right now) and the keyboards are used here in a way similar to bands that don’t have a specifically designated keyboard player in them. Like the early Beatles or Kiss on Destroyer or early Aerosmith or Ozzy, etc. On one song ( “Red River”) they go so far as to utilize piano like the Stooges used to (wait a second; is SCOTT THURSTON on this album? You bet your ass he is! So that’s the guy doubling Mike Campbell’s badass riffs in “Fault Lines”) My point is you only hear keyboard at certain times and even then it tends to be near subliminal. As for Ron Blair, everyone always wished he could come back to the band and he sounds beautiful on this album. His tone is McCartneyesque. I think his playing is too, except he never plays in a way that draws attention to itself, which McCartney had no way of NOT doing. But like in 60s music, this is an album where the bass lives in it’s own sonic space and is separate from the guitars. It is FAT and fun and sexy like bass is supposed to be.

 ”Forgotten Man” appropriates the Bo Diddley beat to perfect effect. The song is just classic Tom Petty. Mike Campbell’s solo sounds like Clapton on the Bluesbreakers (best possible way to sound).
 ”Sins Of My Youth” is a nice bossanova, sort of a callback to the earlier rhumba and just a little hipsterish. Beautiful tremolo guitars on this one. Most Steely Dan sounding of the Tom Petty catalogue thus far.  Not that it sounds very much like Steely Dan…

 Now here’s another thing to always remember: Tom Petty is a cool stoner dude and that’s why he has a laid back funky song called “U Get Me High” which swaggers in with stabbing guitars and some big round fuzzy swinging bass. Totally lives up to the title.  Do you think it’s got a good guitar solo? Mike Campbell, one of the greatest ever, on this solo, sounds like he may have heard Jack White at some point, and in a GOOD way. Show ‘em how it’s done, Daddy!  And then there’s some some golden-era of Clapton jewelry in the outro. Have I mentioned yet that this is really MIKE CAMPBELL’S album? The man is a national treasure.

There’s a tradition of the second to last song on a good album being the weak spot and they do a perfect job of it here. A blues called “Burnt Out Town” which is a fairly listenable showcase for the piano playing of Benmont Tench and the harmonica of Scott Thurston. I’m fine with it.

 The last song is called “Shadow People” and it’s sort of a Lennon “Cold Turkey” format song with bluesy double stops on the guitar punctuating every line of the verse. Then in the chorus the guitar plays a riff that’s really sweet and sad and reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult’s “I’m Burning For You”, which is a compliment. And the guitar solo is just unbelievably great. Mike Campbell has never sounded so aggressive and balls-out rock.

So in closing, Mike Campbell is God, but so is Scott Thurston and here’s your proof:

IGGY POP – NEW VALUES

Ok give this a like facehookers and leave a comment here.

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Yes I Am Leaving – Slow Release Australian crud rock

Yes I am leaving - aussie bands

ALBUM REVIEW: 11 songs of noise rock on Slow Release by the Australian power crud rock trio Yes I Am Leaving have a few sharp and dull knifes up their sleeves. The opening track “One” below is a jesus lizardesque pounder and a great introduction to the swinging future punk swagger on the rest of the record. You really need to be a fan of AM/REP bands to appreciate the first three tracks or generally scorching your inner ear drums with cork screw. As the record gets deeper it’s get a little more melodic and husker du sing/song which makes them omni directional. The tracks “Alchemy” and “Timer” picks-up with just a little more of a show-gazer song-scape mentality nod (see what I did there) that I am talking about. So something for everybody here to make you look up the playlist a few times. This record is a follow-up to their 2013 record Mission Bulb. I couldn’t tell you the difference just yet but I can tell you they will be touring the states in Oct/Nov 2014; at least that is the plan anyway and if you were worth the prize tag of your hoodie you would just pick this shit up and check them out. This is minimalistically melodic when needed and has mucho bass thuds to rock the crud out of your head with a swift kick of their boot. You can listen to this record backwards and forwards and it will still be just as good. Facehook| Homeless Vinyl | Soundcloud

RIYL: Janitor Joe, METZ, Today is the Day, Laughing Hyenas

Yes I am Leaving band

VIDEO: YES I’M LEAVING – FOUR CHORDER from MISSION BULB (2013)

RELATED:
Get some: July Crop of rock-n-roll singles (2012) w/ METZ, Fang Island, The Afghan Whigs
Day of the dead Kristen Pfaff RIP Janitor Joe download mp3 here.

BONUS NOISE:
Early Retirement MP3 by Janitor Joe from Big Metal Birds (1993)
My First Knife MP3 by Today is the Day from Willpower(1995)
Slump MP3 by Laughing Hyenas from Hard Times (1995)

Ok Facehookers give this a like on your stream. Thanks!

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