Saturday, November 30, 2013

Team Sleep Still Haunts My Thoughts

team sleep blogspot
Of all the Chino Moreno projects that he’s worked on with other musicians, outside of Deftones, I think that Team Sleep is by far one of my favorite records that he has sung and worked on. The band consisted of some big names including Todd Wilkinson, Zach Hill, Dj Crook and more. The band is close to some of the Deftones songs in structure, but only in the way that Moreno’s voice layers across several different points of poetry. The lyrics are darker at times, and bit more “psychotic” at times, but they are still very much the same as you would find in a Deftones release, which leaves a lot of ambiguity to the wording and their meaning.

Team Sleep’s record flows through quiet moods, interesting percussion, and dj tracks that only add to the layers that are presented. If you listen to the album with headphones on, you will hear the sonic sounds that come through even more, as they shift from right to left on the tracking. This is something that is definitely noticeable, and one of the better parts about the record as a whole.

Deftones fans that love the slower stuff, the more moody tracks like “Teenager” will love this, as I do. There are haunting moments, including that of “Ligeia” which can only be something that you have to listen to at least once. Chino’s signature signing style is here but there is so much more to it as well. It’s for that reason that Team Sleep’s debut record still gets a lot of listens from me. The tracks are still as vibrant today as they were when they were released. The repetition, electronic sounds, and vocals alongside very jazzy drums and interesting patterns can only be appreciated by listening to the whole record and not just singles. You’ll find that to be true as you listen to every single song as a whole. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, you owe yourself a spin. Pick up Team Sleep’s haunting album by clicking here.

The Pietasters Oolooloo Is The Best Modern Ska Recording

The Pietasters Oolooloo Vinyl
I was only 11 years when I first was introduced to what ska was. The Jamaican export is a combination of several styles of music and it is often times only thought about in terms of the third wave version, but it has many different connotations to it. I won’t go into the complete history of the works, but what I will say is that there is a big difference between bands that are playing punk, skacore, and third/fourth wave styles. I first heard the traditional stuff while watching the Epitaph sponsored program Punkorama late nights on Friday and Saturday. On public access they would run an hour block of only punk rock television music videos with no VJ or anything like that. One of the mainstays was this band and while they were showing the video for “Yesterday’s Over” this album really stands out as their premier showcase of traditional stylings.

Some might argue that “Oolooloo” is not “traditional” because it isn’t straight of out Jamaica and the singer is not black, but I say that they are wrong. The song structure, the horns, guitar, drums, and every ounce of lyricism are particularly great. From the opening rhythm and horns that are attached to “Something Better” through the many different sing along parts, you get a taste for what traditional ska leanings were all about in the mid 1990s.

While many people didn’t catch on to the whole style or genre until 2000 when The Mighty Mighty Bosstones scored a multi-million dollar hit with “The Impression that I Get”, there were many bands like The Pietasters putting out particularly good recordings. That being said, this one features everything that you could possibly want from the genre of music. The bass lines are jazzy, the horns are given ample time to shine, and the lyrics range from jazzy scatting to punk and blues references, and of course who can ever forget “Maggie Mae” with that classic nod to Boston and Irish style punk rock.

The Pietasters “Oolooloo” is one of my personal favorite records, even though it’s not their most polished work. There is something to the overall rhythms, lyrics and style here. It’s rare to hear from a band that doesn’t over do the style and doesn’t try to shoehorn that “punk” style into their music. You will not get distorted guitars, metal riffs, or anything that you would probably expect from bands like Reel Big Fish, but instead you get a mix between ska, reggae, dub, and traditional calypso at times. If you’re into eclectic music, this is definitely one of the better options that you will want to add to your collection. You can buy this record by clicking here, or download The Pietasters' work here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Charlie Brown Christmas Vinyl Celebration

A Charlie Brown Christmas Vinyl LP
Few records can really bring out the joy of Christmas, which s why it’s sometimes important to look at which out of the thousands of releases have stood the test of time. Out of the many articles that I have written past and present, I think that there is one record that stands out above all others as the best record to bring in the Christmas season for all people. Regardless of your religion, background, or nationality, one album will sustain that happiness through the holidays, and that’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi Trio.

The Peanuts have an interesting special about the glory of the season and it starts off with Linus and Charlie Brown talking. Of course our young cartoon friend needs help battling depression and Linus tries to showcase the greatness of things. With this soundtrack album, you get all the music from the television special that was originally released in 1965. The soundtrack was produce on vinyl, and for my money it’s hands down the best way to hear it.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” on vinyl can be ordered here, and it comes in an all new heavier formatting. Listen to it enough times and those vintage pops and sounds that accompany records will certainly make you feel a bit nostalgic for this amazing special. As stated, it’s the best record to bring in the Christmas, or holiday season. If you don’t have a record player, than perhaps you may want to get it on mp3 download, or special gift tin, which is usually available around the holidays.

Check out all the items below and of course, enjoy your holiday season. I believe that this is the best record for Christmas or any special holiday celebration.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Best Doors Live Record

Live at the bowl 68
There are a lot of, and I do mean a lot of Doors live records available today. But for my money, one of the best records to be put out after the death of Jim Morrison, and updated for these modern times is that of “Live AtThe Bowl ‘68”. The Lizard King really shines in this release with a lot of elements working together to make this a memorable showcase of rock stardom.

Filmed at the glorious Hollywood Bowl, the sound resonates quite well and even though this is not exactly new footage, it has been remixed, mastered and attention to every detail has been made to make this an unforgettable classic rock experience. The Doors “Live At The Bowl ‘68” truly exemplifies what all the fans of their music would want and expect from the band at their peak.

The vinyl recording found here, is definitely worth picking up, as you will gain a sonic boom of cool throughout. The recording is impeccable, with distortions, static, and other problems that were previously heard now removed and cleared up.

The initial 1987 release wasn’t the full version, and many original vinyl and cassette collectors will make note of that. While that version is still interesting, it wasn’t well worth the investment. It was only 22 minutes and 18 seconds in length. However, the latest edition is far better, and has everything a fan would want.

The Blu Ray Disc Trailer reveals more to the musical prowess of these friends, creating exemplary music history:

The best Doors live record may in fact be “Live At the Bowl ‘68” as it stands out in my mind as one of the brightest moments for the band, at least in terms of audio and performance pieces. Obviously, longtime fans may disagree, but if you’re going to shop for a record from these guys and you want it live and raw, here it is in full spectrum. Pick up the Blu Ray Set here, and of course get the mp3 download or vinyl through amazon if you’d like, here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mad Season Reminds Me of Life and Depression

mad season deluxe
From the opening notes of the only Mad Season release to the final instance, there is a well of joy, despair, and comfort in each individual track that the super group put out. From the simplicity of the chord progression, to the drumming, you get a layer of musical competency that is not always reflected with rock music today. It’s the balance that makes this so compelling, including the boosts of energy that come through with the choruses and fountains of musical integrity lapping back and forth into a train of sounds, clashing, chords strumming, and bass guitar melodies that epitomizes the Seattle-esque sound.

There are solos, these solos carry own tunes in such a unique manner, not unlike metal in the 1980s or punk rock standards from time to time, but they lead to something so impressive, and that’s Layne Staley’s vocals and harmonies that carry above the music better than some of the tracks Alice in Chains put out. That’s not to say that this band is better or anything, as they have their strengths and weaknesses, but the poetry and simplicity at times really shines through and carries me to another place.

I battle depression.

It’s that depression that has cornered me many times, and the only thing left to do is fight back, and that’s how Mad Season’s record feels like. It feels like there are moments when the lyrics and the music battle to get away from the demons that are chasing them, but alas, it seems to be faltering.

As we all do, we try to think about the music in such a more in depth way, and the reality of things is that they hang over our heads. Mad Season does this so well for me, it helps and it hurts all in the same. It’s as though the lyrics of their single “River of Deceit” comes alive often, as the pain that I feel in my life, particularly in my mind is self chosen, and that’s perhaps the foremost reason that I love this record to death. It’s sad that we lost Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley in my lifetime, it’s just sad. I don’t want to be a victim, which is why I seek therapy through writing and music, it helps. It helps more than anything else, which is definitely a positive thing.

For those that perhaps haven’t picked up the Mad Season record, go for it. If you purchase the deluxe edition, it comes with their live performance from the Moore Theater in Seattle. It’s a throwback to a time where music seemed to have a certain rainy day feeling. I love it, a great deal, and perhaps one day it will help me lift away from depression for good.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The New Korn Does Not Suck, Perhaps I Suck

korn new records
I saw the new Korn video recently and was completely amused. The video showcases a much lighter, and radio friendly Korn than we have seen in recent years. I laughed out loud, and nearly shed a tear from the track that had Jonathan Davis talking about how he would never love again. Surprisingly enough Brian “Head” Welch, Monkey, and Fieldy were all there, in a new phase of the band that has me wondering if the 90s are back in full swing.

This comes after the fact that Alice In Chains has released a new record, I have rediscovered my absolute adoration of Mad Season, and Pearl Jam just released a new record as well. Whatever is going on with rock music today, it’s not being pushed out by Kroq and 98.7 FM which is too bad. I have been listening to 95.5 KLOS (the classic rock) a lot more. I never stopped listening to them, but would make fun of my stepfather for liking the station. I actually won tickets to see arena football thanks to the constant calling that I did to the station in the 90s.

Now, as for the new Korn disc, it’s called “The Paradigm Shift” and I found it to be quite good. The guitar riffs on many of the tracks are more than heavy, bring about a sense of noise and fluidity that you would expect from Korn, and the drums are very good. The percussion overall on the record positions this to be one of the better outings for the band. I found myself tapping my feet, wanting to do air-drums, and really enjoying the progression of the recording.

Korn has come a long way from being a nu-metal act, and really shines on this one. I haven’t heard any of the singles played on the radio, so perhaps the record may not be doing that well? I don’t know. I guess my initial response to their music video was wrong, as the new record doesn’t suck, perhaps I am the one that is sucking. If you want to get this record, go for it, it’s actually really good. Now, I will go back to whatever it is that I do these days, possibly spin the disc again.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Bootleg of the Bootleg by Jean Grae Shocks and Awes

Jean Grae "Bootleg" 5/5
Released in 2003, I didn’t know who Jean Grae was, and if someone mentioned her name I would only think about the mighty X-Men. As I hear the music of Glee being punched into my brain right now, I’m reminded of this record from my writing that I was doing yesterday. The stand out track right now is definitely the title track, with only 5 minutes in length it is a triumphant antithesis of Jean Grae’s career and hip hop music on the underground as well. “Hater’s Anthem” is probably the best track of lyrical assassination that you’re going to hear anywhere, and the rest of the EP flows through a lot of talent that you may have missed.

I know I did.

“The Bootleg of the Bootleg” seems short on paper, but it’s over an hour of one of the best hip hop that you’ll hear, and if you’re not a fan of females throwing down rhymes, than you will become a true believer with this one. It’s not a man’s game, although it is often times the men that get all the recognition. If you get some time, listen to this record, purchase it here, and marvel at the insane ability that comes through on this record. It’s inspirational to say the least, and Hater’s are on notice….a bit late, but come on, at least I spoke up.Here's the track that made me pick this one up, listen close, it's a great vantage point of talent that lives on today.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Deftones White Pony In A Urinal

Deftones "White Pony" 4/5
When I was a teenager I played bass guitar on the youth group worship band of the church that I frequented. We had leased a building that would become a Walgreens someday, but at the time it was just gutted Great Western Bank. That bank building would be host for a lot of things, including my old band Reject 37, Reject 37 fest that featured Broken Cedars, Downcast, Engraved, Brothers of the Creed, Means to An End, and many others. It was a day long festival of skateboarding and more, and it launched my record label in many ways. Drawn Close was supposed to play, but I don’t think they made it. The reason I mention this is because it was where I first discovered “White Pony” from the Deftones.

The street team that was promoting Maverick records at the time hit our bank building, since there was a lot of teens there, and they slapped stickers all over the men’s room. That meant that there were Deftones stickers everywhere, including the urinals. So every day I would pee on the sticker and poster from the Deftones record that would change the way I thought about heavy music.

“White Pony” would spawn several singles for the band, and some of my personal favorites including, “Teenager”, “Knife Party”, “Back To School”, “Change (In The House of Flies)” and much more. I even purchased both editions of the special record and am now staring at the possibility of getting the vinyl as well. In my collection, this record holds a lot of special times for me, and it’s mainly because of the legacy that Reject 37 failed to spawn. It was in that bank building that I would launch my music career, meet bands, and even print t-shirts. It was also the place where I learned to drop into a skateboarding ramp, and even was the first place where I started to gain a little talent on a skateboard. I miss it. But everytime I listen to Deftones “White Pony”, I’m reminded of those seminal times, when I used to have friends. Now, I’m old, a writer, and have few people to talk to, I wonder if that is how everyone else feels too. Odd how things change.

If for some odd reason you still purchase music, or you want to hear, buy, or download this record, you can do so by clicking here, and helping this site continue to write stories and reviews on records you may love, hate, or just forgotten.
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