Monday, January 25, 2016

Matt Skiba and The Sekrets Kuts Review

I have been a Matt Skiba fan for a long time. If I were to have one guitar player in my band, I would hire Matt Skiba, and that’s what Blink 182 did. Whatever the case is, this guy has so many musical outlets, it’s insane. What surprises me each time I hear about a new Skiba project is the fact that each one is tremendously well done. That’s what you’re going to get when you pick up “Kuts”, the latest release from Matt Skiba and the Sekrets. Holy crap, the guy can write a song, and the band is right on par with what you’d expect from their post punk, pop stylings.

Not Alkaline Trio, But Close

I’m not saying this in a bad way, but the record sounds a lot like you’d expect from The Alkaline Trio. However, the drumming and the guitar work is not as fast. This is not a fast paced, punk rock record like you’d expect from the trio. Instead, you get a more post rock, pop punk approach. That’s not a bad thing. The song writing is very well done, the bass tracks are layered in, and the drumming is on par with what you’d expect from Skiba’s musical output. The band adds a lot of interesting sounds, fuzz, noise, and distortion to make this a more complex album than you’d expect from The Alkaline Trio. This is definitely one of the more compelling releases from Skiba’s crew.

Bass and Drums Win Again

Lately, I’ve been blessed to listen to a lot of great records that have drums and bass as a big part of the sound. While Matt Skiba always has some good tone to the guitars, this record’s bass and drums are so good, you can’t miss them. Just listening to “She Wolf” with the fills and drops will absolutely stun. The attention paid to the structure of the song, with the mix of tones really works. It’s a classic example of how well you can put together certain sounds and rhythms within punk and rock in general.

A Good Throwback Post Punk Record

I call it post punk, but really, there’s notes of pop, alternative, and indie rock. Matt Skiba and the Sekrets puts on a clinic of musical elements, and each song is layered through an incredible tone. For my money, the bass guitar and drumming stands tall against Skiba’s unique vocals. The fuzz, shoegaze elements, and distortion on the guitar work also shines, especially on the first half of the disc. If you’re not familiar with Matt Skiba, then this is all going to seem foreign to you, but if you are familiar with is work, this record is going to be on repeat for months. I am completely in love with the record.

Buy Matt Skiba and The Sekrets “Kuts” by clicking here, and experience one of the best records of 2015.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Janes Addiction The Great Escape Artist Review

2011, what a year. This release came out in October of 2011 and it was the fifth record from the band Jane’s Addiction. I have been a fan of the band since I first saw Perry Farrell in “Been Caught Stealing” and of course my affinity for Porno For Pyros is also well documented in my blogs. This record came out swinging with a whole new attempt at capturing the magic of the band’s earlier material, without sacrificing too much. Was it really worth it? Did the guys really come through on this one, or was it another miss in a long line of bad rock records that came out in the 2000s?

The Heavy Bass Lines Makes The Great Escape Amazing

“The Great Escape” shows Jane’s Addiction’s prowess for song writing. The music is well produced, and what I find to be absolutely astonishing is the bass work. Dave Sitek’s bass guitar playing on this record is not to be missed. If you’re a bass guitar fan, then you have to listen to this record a lot. It’s fascinating how the record pulls through so well on top of the fabulous bass production. The drumming and guitar work are classic Jane’s Addiction with the rises and drops, palm mutes, and leads that you would expect, but it’s really the bass that drives a lot of it. Farrell’s vocals are on point as usual, but the drumming and bass keep me isolated inside the chambers of this record.

Dave Navarro on Guitar and Keyboards?

Here’s a tricky one, as Dave Navarro pulls off some great guitar work on this record, but it’s the keyboards that are going to fascinate you. The multi talented guitarist takes on keyboard duties in a lot of the tracks, and even does some vocal work. This creates an interesting dichotomy to the tracks, including his contributions on 1, 3, 5-10 as listed. He really does a great deal to put on a showcase. These tracks are really good, especially “Curiosity” kills, which represents such a strong rock effort from the band.

A Bass Heavy Rock Record That Shines

Jane’s Addiction is widely popular for their radio singles, but I honestly think this is one of their best records they ever recorded. The line up was solid, the bass heavy rock recording is just a stellar example of the progression that the band’s gone through. If you purchased the deluxe edition, you got a full live concert. However, the 10 songs that make up “The Great Escape Artist” are magical. It’s a record that you’re going to want to listen through from start to finish. I cannot say enough about Navarro’s guitar changes, and Sitek’s bass guitar, as well as Stephen Perkins drumming. On a side note, Stephen Perkins came into my video store once to rent a Clint Eastwood movie.

For those that are interested, you can buy “The Great Escape Artist” by clicking here, and add it to your collection.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else Review

It’s seriously cold in Indiana. I moved from Los Angeles to this Midwest staple, and can truly say that it’s very cold. Whatever the case is, here’s another review flying at you, because I write for an audience of one or two. The band Cloud Nothings is a band that has come out swinging from the Midwest. They are from Cleveland and they play a brand of rock that you most likely want to say is “indie”, but it’s far better than that. The band has a way of making a post punk sound feel much more important. Perhaps it’s the drumming, the bass heavy rhythms and Dylan Baldi’s guitar work. Tie that together with the urgency of Jawbreaker’s debut, and you have one hell of a band.

The opening track on “Here and Nowhere Else” should hook you, especially towards the end of the song where the drumming goes balls to the wall. There’s something incredible about the drumming in the opening track, and that pacing keeps things going through the rest of the disc. In this release from 2014, you are treated to 31 minutes of post punk fury. The songs are catch, solid, and really play on that post punk sound that you may not hear a lot on the radio. I was immediately floored by “Now Hear In”, “Quieter Today”, and “No thoughts”, which I had on repeat for some time.

Cloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else Is One Hell of A Record - 4 Stars! I Say! 

Cloud Nothings is a band that can do no wrong at this point. Their drumming is so good, the guitar work is not distorted and blown out through the noise of modern rock and roll. The singer’s quality of vocal is within perfect range and if you listen closely, the bass player is walking up and down the neck with reckless abandon. There’s punk moments, there’s hardcore moments, there’s a steady pace that screams, “listen to men”!

I’m late on finding out about this release, and well, that’s my fault. I’m an idiot. Cloud Nothings presents one of the single best independent rock records I’ve heard in a long time. For a band to come out swinging this hard is unique, and it’s not too unlike what I said about The Bronx when they first came out and people laughed at me for loving their no-nonsense punk rock approach. This band does the same, they hit you in the mouth with a wall of post punk noise, and do so while having a bit of fun. I love this. You’ll love this, Why aren’t you listening to the record now? Cloud Nothings is Dylan Baldi, Tj Duke, Jayson Gerycz, and are probably going to be your new best friends. Ok, maybe not. But this is a seriously good record, so listen to it, or get made fun of by an aging Mexican blogger (me).

You can buy Cloud Nothings “Here and Nowhere Else” by clicking here, and supporting the band.

The Chariot The Fiancee Review

Stop, go, stop, go, stop, bring in the roars, and then break down everything with a frenetic chaotic scream. That’s what you get when you put on The Chariot’s 2007 disc “The Fiancee”, and it’s one of the best metalcore records to come out of the Solid State Records camp in a long time. Not that it’s new, but for you that didn’t follow Josh Scogin’s departure from Norma Jean, you will definitely find this to be one of the most epic records to come out of the past 9 years. This is the second full length from the band, and everything about it was artistic.

The band received a Dove Award for best artwork the following year because of the intricate packaging that melted steampunk with modern design, and paper that was definitely intriguing. Aside from that, the band purposely named their tracks in a poetic fashion, creating even more art to complement the frenetic chaos that is the record.

Overall, The Chariot’s sophomore album is one of the hardest hitting metalcore albums I’ve ever heard. It features 30 minutes of music, and each track blends into another. The palm muted, dropped tuned guitar work has a duality to it, but it’s Scogin’s roar and the amazing drum work that makes this one of my favorites. The Chariot’s drummers have always been stand outs, with incredible timing and precision to make the wall of guitar noises fit into the frenzied vocal styling that made Scogin a household name in the hardcore scene.

If you haven’t picked up The Chariot’s sophomore record, then I encourage you to do so. It’s definitely one of their finest releases. It has so much weight to it, and while it’s not artistically the same kind of push that “Wars and Rumors of Wars” had in the physical release department, it is definitely not a sour spot for the band. I love it.

You can download The Chariot’s “The Fiancee” by clicking here, or not, what do I care.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Chariot Wars and Rumors of Wars Review

Yesterday, for those that are still reading my blog, I talked about The Chariot’s “Unsung EP”. It’s an EP that introduced me to the band Josh Scogin left Norma Jean to form and front. Initially released on May 5, 2009, this was one of the records that I remember absolutely falling in love with while I was living in Seattle, Washington. I had moved to Seattle in March of 2007 and was still building an insane collection of music at the time. This came out on Cinco de Mayo and if you remember the initial set up, there was a hand numbered and autographed set of discs put out with paper CD cases. I was able to pick up number 257 of the releases, and sure enough they were hand signed and numbered in pen. The Chariot did the classic “one up” thing with this release, as they put out “The Fiancee” in 2007 to good overall reviews.

You don’t need to know what was going on at the time to appreciate the heavy handed measurements of each song on this record. The Chariot goes balls to the wall, as it were, with stop, go, stop, go style metallic hardcore. There are some outstanding riffs found on this record, but it’s the palm muted, distortion fueled chaos that makes this record so compelling. The guitar work from Dan Vokey and Brian Russell Taylor stand out, even when you can’t tell where the bass guitar is in the mud of the guitars that pummel your senses on each track. If the guitar and vocal wall of noise doesn’t compel you, pay close attention to the drumming that David Kennedy creates here. There’s chaos, and there’s unity with the sounds, driving the songs like a pendulum from jazz era technique to stand alone hard rock drumming.

The stand out track for me is none other than, “Impress”, which is only 2 minutes long, but has a very melodic guitar framework to offset the incredible roar that Scogin presents alongside a deluge of heavily distorted, bass heavy noise. It’s the ending elements that really compel, like the end of a Bible reading at an orthodox church. The Chariot’s “Wars and Rumors of Wars” is a standout hardcore record from 2009, and really adds gasoline to the heavy music that Solid State Records has put out. Even though it was released in 2009, the production values and songs stand tall amidst more accomplished bands from the same era, and genre.

You can download The Chariot “Wars and Rumors of Wars” here. Turn it up to 11, it’s worthwhile.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Chariot Unsung Ep Review

The Chariot should’ve been the biggest band in the world, if you ask Josh Scogin and the people that saw him leave Cornerstone’s Norma Jean performance as his last with the group. The Chariot was formed, and the battle of the heaviest Christian hardcore band started. Previously, a lot of bands would take on the moniker, but this band was different. These guys had a lot of power within their ranks, and it was led by Scogin’s signature roar. Jake Ryan, Keller Harbin, Joshua Beiser, Neil Fox, and Mike Watts (mixing), took on 6 tracks and created a chess game of melodic hardcore glory with this record.

Released on December 6, 2005, the band took what should’ve been a forgettable batch of songs and made history, if you ask me. The strength of this EP was deep, which absolutely broke through to a jaded hardcore scene in 2005. The names of the tracks are funny, including “Phil Cosby”, “Vin Affleck”, and Donnie Cash”, all bring about some hilarity, but it’s the weight of the lyrical elements and the heavy guitar work that really shines here.

For those that loved Mike Patton’s contribution on several underground hardcore records, there’s incredible moments on this one. The drumming is definitely stand out, as well as the roars and screams from Scogin. Where you may see a moment of peace to breathe, the band finds ways to shock and stun your senses with a wall of hardcore noise. It’s violence on a disc. It’s heavy, but without losing connection to the pop sensibilities that made Norma Jean a stand out before they shifted record labels. This bridge between records is a true testament of how good 15 some odd minutes of metal can be. Not quite metal, not quite full hardcore, and altogether an impressive package, The Chariot’s “Unsung EP” is one for the collector’s, whether you’re a believer or not.

Download The Chariot’s 2005 EP “Unsung” here in mp3 format.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie Dead At Age 69

David Bowie has died at age 69. He was battling cancer. He just put out a record, make sure that you go and pick that up. There's a lot of death to start off this year on the blog. I'm not really sure what to write or why, since so much is going down. I'm sure I'll come up with something sooner than later.
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