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.
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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.
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.
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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
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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
VIDEO: YES I’M LEAVING – FOUR CHORDER from MISSION BULB (2013)
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.
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)
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New Jersey is somewhat a musical paradox. Outsiders predictably only know about “The Boss” or Bon Jovi being from the Garden State, unless you grew up on Hardcore, then it the same two plus Turning Point, Vision, Bouncing Souls and Lifetime. Then the Gaslight Anthem eventually exploded onto the scene that even made this transplant proud of his new home state, where insiders never seem to talk about Real Estate, another NJ band that are both hugely popular and play everywhere else.
But after sniffing over the years, I have pleasantly discovered that New Jersey is chuck full of great bands with many indie labels supporting them. Pyrrhic Victory Recordings is one of those labels and the wonderful 65’s, GALANOS and Miss Ohio are some of those bands.
The 65’s I’ve Got You EP (2013) picks up right up where 2011’s kick ass Strike Hard! left off. A solid 4 song onslaught that starts with the punk ‘n’ roll steam roller “Have you Been Saved?”, continues with the darkly beautiful album title track and ending with is pretty acoustic twang of “Safety Net,” each song heavily complimented by the unique, husky Lucero-ish growl of front man/guitarist Joseph O. Pugsley. I Got You is never too far from my weekly listening pleasure, with the 3rd track,”Holes Dug Deep” being one of my personal favorites (“breathe in…breathe out…keep breathing she said“).
THE 65’s “I’ve Got You”
Next up is GALANOS‘ 2 song offering, La Loca, a dark and dreamy, surfy and heavy, beautifully droning offering of slowed down and fuzzed up songs of Velvet Underground-ish proportions. I could see either song (the title track or “Go Home Rose”) being on the soundtrack to the next Quentin Tarantino flick with a return of Uma Thurman dancing to either. Indeed a welcoming sight in my humble opinion! If this is just a the hors d’ourves of what GALANOS is offering, I am looking forward to a full meal and hopefully soon.
Miss Ohio’s latest EP, Whippoorwill Road, was officially released last week, delivering a perfect blend of power pop melody and guitar rock grit, with 5 songs that will no doubt make my personal best of 2014 release list. Oddly, the opening killer track of the same name always brings “Boys of Summer” (either Henley or the Atari’s cover will do) to mind, but in a good way. Tracks “Bobby Fischer” and “Lights” keep the momentum going (with the latter boasting interesting sounds from a vintage phaser pedal) while I find myself mentally humming the coquettish“Day Job” at least once a day while reconciling my own rock ambitions while working for the man. Finally I was one happy camper that they (re)recorded “KGB” one of my favorite tracks off of 2005’s underrated Another Wasted Summer. Homerun, boys.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Gustave Tigers – At The Idylls End starts off with a art school spoke Azalia Snail self titled diatribe which I tuned out on at first. Then the music quickly picks up the pace in what this Budapest band calls cathedral punk. Which is very fast, sharp like steak knifes and fitting like a casket demolotion derby (whatever that is). You how young bands have a energy and bounce to thir music because they might not know better? This music is perfectly dissedent in ways only their music can explain because I’m not fluent in Hungarian. Seems to be mostly female fronted vocal and by all accounts pro-feminist jesus fuckers. This noise goes by at a blisteirng pace and most evident in the star spangled rant called Clitoris Crucifix clocking in at :40 seconds giving Pussy Riot a lesson in song crafting. There are 14 tunes on here in total and not a dull moment to found. Noisy, dreamy, psychedelic with just enough of a vocal hook to remind you that you don’t need a keyboard to make good music. A bunch of delays and reverb but none the less Szurcsik Erika on vocals, Dorozsmai Gergő Guitar and vocals, Mezősi Péter drums and Szabó Csaba bass and vocals make a nice mess of things. You shall name your price on their bandcamp page although we give you a MP3 here for free courtesy of the band. Check them out facehookers but not sure it’s all in english. The name of the band is Gustave Tiger. This is their 2nd album and it’s sonic, dissident-pop in all the right angular hard to reach places, much hipper bands pretend to be but never are.
RIYL: Sonic youth, Alice Donut, Buthole Surfers, Trail of Dead, The Fall, weird art rock
DOWNLOAD: Sister Sybarite MP3 from At The Idyll’s End (May 2014)
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ALBUM REVIEW: I am starting to wonder what is in the water now that all global warming is melting all the snow in Canada because the rock-n-roll that is starting to come down by the likes of Champion Lover is getting meaner and darker. The Toronto based noise punks have their scopes set on getting you fucked-up a lot which we’re totally fine with being that we’re in New Jersey and our home state’s super hero is The Toxic Avenger. This is a monster sized caliber release with jagged distortion episodes that manage to get inside your worst dreams. At other times pretty trippy power psyche(yea we said this) where the bassiness will make your bad day get worse. Pounding you with the opener “Read my Mind” and wipe off the blood with “She Likes Wu-Tang”; these are the real champions on this debut. The last track “Vacant Heart (Spring Break)” is what we can only imagine is a bad trip gone completely sour. So put your head in the barrel on their bandcamp to dose yourself. You might not need drugs listening to them because they are drug rock and will make you scrape your face-off.
RIYL: Weekend, Sonic Youth, Place to Burry Strangers
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Review: Overlake Sighs – NJ Psyche
Singles & Bands to Watch: Mutes, Stagnant Pools, Milan Jay, The Van Doos and Distortion Girls
Singles and Bands to Watch: Sex Scheme, Dead, Barrows & De Duiven
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MUSIC REVIEW: LA’s Hudson’s(The Band) new release Into The Unknown is a rocknrolla Americana trip with some of your favorite classic rock moves. On this EP you’ll find citar sounds, beatles harmonies and billy gibbons blues stomps. These guys are pro-musicians and we don’t mean that in a derogatory sense as they can actually play their instruments. Which is a rarity and more than likely due to their commitment to doing residency shows which is paying off in beer tabs. We would say on par with the likes of the bluesmen in The Sadies which is a high compliment around these parts.. We love when the slide guitar is implemented right in your face because if you are going to commit to it. Do it all the way right in your face to the point where women and children are holding their ears. Their tune “Jezebel” has some bonham/John Paul Jones nod at the end and the title track “In the Unknown” is where you might want to save the children first. Check them out and let them take in their RV around much of the good music on one release. They really are owning this American Rock-n-Roll thing. If you are a fan of Jack White, Black Crowes and ZZ Top then you’ll more than likely wanna grab some icey PBR’s and tap the dashboard in your pick-up with these guys at your next tail-gate party. You can own the EP June 2nd on iTunes.
RIYL: Black Crowes, Sadies, Jack White
My band, Dollar Store Riot, humbly shared the stage with Overlake back in January 2014 @ NYC’s Parkside Lounge. When the show promoter told me we will be playing with a “shoe-gaze band from Jersey City” I was immediately intrigued. A shoe-gaze band in 2014? And from Jersey no less? Fate took the wheel as I was one of many completely blown away by their set and eagerly looking forward to their soon to be released record to validate that what I heard live beautifully transposed to any type of recording.
And boy, were things quickly validated.
Sighs, Overlake’s first full length release on NJ’s own Killing Horse Records, was released yesterday (4/15) , but I have been devouring the pre-release sale free mp3 download of the album for weeks now. Sure band members Tom and Lysa were sweet to buy me a birthday shot at the above said post-show, but that doesn’t influence nor change the fact that Sighs is hands down a consistently solid fucking effort and one of the best releases of 2014. For certain you can hear pinches of I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, dashes of Loveless and touches of You In Reverse. Based on the recent press, a lot of the equally impressed critics do too, claims the band won’t deny, yet somehow pull off their own smorgasbord of familiar sounds with unique freshness.
Sighs is simply a beautiful, whispy, swirly reverby experience (just what you expect from a shoe gaze band in 2014…from Jersey no less) from start to finish with too many good songs to mention (read: ALL of them, my favs being ‘Disappearing” and “Our Sky”). It is a perfect soundtrack for a stroll through lonely, rainy NYC streets or Sunday drive through the sunny, Jersey burbs. If you need further proof, Sighs is probably one of the very, very few records I overheard my 9 year old son whistling along too in the back seat. Get. It. Now.
BUY OVERLAKE: BANDCAMP | KILLINGHORSE STORE LP/CD
Fri 4/18 Court Tavern, New Brunswick NJ – Overlake w/ Wreaths, Cicada Radio, TV Sound – 4 Year Anniversary Show for Killing Horse Records
Mon 5/19 Baby’s All Right, Brooklyns – Overlake w/ The Everymen, The Brooklyn What
Singles & Bands to Watch: Mutes, Stagnant Pools, Milan Jay, The Van Doos and Distortion Girls
Are you a GBV/Nada Surf fan? Doug Gillard’s New Album ‘Parade On’ is Guitardedly Good
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Parade On – Out 4/8 on Nine Mile Records
ALBUM REVIEW: Some of you know who Mr. Doug Gillard is even without actually having his phone number in your contacts or perhaps you got his digits from his previous release Call from Restricted. If we lead you to any record this year please let it be his latest and greatest Parade On as it’s guitardedly good.
We mean this with all affection and not a single bit of sarcasm; this is a bus you must get on. Doug’s passion for manipulating a 6 or 12 string guitar is on the same level as Johnny fucking Marr; strum for strum and we never met that Brit. He’s a band leader who will lead you down a path with several possible outcomes. One, inspire you to make your next record greater than good and NOT just ok, but great. Two, in the process make you pay attention to the details, or you will do us a favor and quit playing music so the good stuff can bubble-up. Three – you’ll take a deep dive into the depths on a download binge 30,000 feet of stacked records. Four, sell some off your guitars (Maybe you’ll donate one to a charity like The Project Matters @TPMNJ) while you mull over the second option. Actually you might NOT have to do any of this because this one stands all on it’s own. However, if some of you actually happen to step foot into a record store (even if just on record store day next week) and look up the likes of Nick Lowe, XTC, or Death of Samantha. Some of you may consider seeing him play with his band or taking the leads in Nada Surf. The two shows he’s playing with GBV are sold out so your out of luck there.
The pointed point is this is his third solo full-length coming out on Nine Mile Records strewn out over a few years of being a professional musician. I can’t even count all his other releases he’s played for you but it does not matter that is what wiki is fucking for. If I were record clerk (I vowed never to do so this) — this is the album I would literally point you towards besides the song “I AM a Tree” he recorded once with Guided By Voices. There I said it and it only. Took me
two, three whole paragraphs. After that you are on your own.
We interviewed Doug Gillard last year, even played a show with him at the Asbury Lanes and enjoyed him nerding out talking about his guitar set-up. There is enough exploratory timeless guitaring on this album set forth as a reminder the guitar neck is an expansive and mysterious place. Dudes can play guitar and makes all the tones sound effortless while allowing you to hum along with vocal melodies. Our faves on this album are all of them. “Your Eyes” is the most Smiths like one, the opener is another classic similar to XTA or Nick Lowe with something off of Labour of Lust (1979) but don’t let us bore you with our shallow knowledge record store clerkdome. This one is going directly to our top 10 of 2014.
MP3s: New Guided By Voices 7″ on Fire Records
For nerds: Doug Gillard’s Guitar set-up
Donate a Guitar to The Project Matters to help teens stay out of trouble and learn a trade. Like professional rock musician. Contact TPMNJ on facebook to learn more.