Bad English On Unknown Sundays 2024

BAD ENGLISH ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION] W/PANELISTS

‘When I See You Smile’ I can face the world, and that they did for a brief stint.  The incredibly led American/British not-so hard rock supergroup, Bad English, by John Waite at the vocal front along with bandmates from Journey; keyboardist Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon and drummer Deen Castronovo, along with bassist, Ricky Phillips of Styx (as well as later with Coverdale-Page and Ted Nugent).  So basically, we’ve got Journey mostly, with a proven singles winning solo artist delivering the lyrics, and a pretty cool bassist.  Let’s do this and see where it goes because separately, at the time, none of them were gathering too much momentum on their own.  Will it work?  Did it work?  Let’s learn us some Bad English on Unknown Sundays.

How ever did they come up with that band name (one might ask)?  We already assumed it was a mistaken English to English translation among the band members of the two ‘English’ speaking countries.  Yes, but it’s a bit funnier than all of that.  They were playing pool in a bar together, and when John Waite missed a shot, Jonathan Cain made a comment on how bad his “english” was (referring to the spin a player puts on the cue ball) was off, and the band decided to use that in the naming of their band.  So, really, it’s all about the spin their putting on hard rock maybe?  In 1989, well most people were certainly digging it!  Even the first single, which was actually ‘Forget Me Not,’ only got to 40 on the charts.  I know that was not my point of entry on the band, but getting that far on the first single must have been encouraging, so they were hitting perfectly what was going on at the time (radio for sure).  Later, though, following the trend would be the end, but let’s enjoy the ride for now.

Music releases can be like a game of Texas Hold’em, depending on the flop you might not go all in.  You hold back, see where you’re at, suck them slightly in, and then when you know how strong your hand is, you bring it out.  This includes reading the table, even though you don’t know what they have.  Let’s just take a look at the charts, songs and bands at the time, so your know the table.  Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl, Phil Collins’ …But Seriously, Richard Marx’s Repeat Offender, and hot moving singles from Madonna, Tone Loc, Mike and the Mechanics, so the competition is fierce on all sides, and the table is full.  Bad English had this back pocket card to play, and the record label and band were wise to hold it, despite not being the song-writers of it (in fact written by one of the greatest female songwriters of all time, Diane Warren).  The contemporary (at the time) rock ballad, ‘When I See You Smile,’ would be the perfect radio hit in August of that year, and with John Waite’s voice and the talents of the band (keyboard rock experience from Journey) it went to number one, giving Bad English a soaring presence in a very competitive environment, even off their debut album.

This was my entry into the band.  At the time, it fit in the wheelhouse of my collections and taste.  My girlfriend at the time, really liked the track, and it was different enough in vocal, and same enough to fit into our playlists no matter where we were and what we were doing at the time.  It also worked well for our metal friends, due to the look of the band, and the ability for me to play the more hard rock hits, too.  So, our summer before Senior Year was in full blast, and that girl friend and I (now my wife of nearly 30 years, panelist Suzie Q) were digging what Bad English had put down as a debut!  From the rockers like ‘Best of What I Got,’ and ‘Rockin’ Horse,’ to the ballads ‘Possession’ and ‘Price of Love’ there was a direct contract to the relationships and the female audience.  Not to mention their look of the time (holy hair rock) was somehow enticing, putting them in a crossover category (not that I ever paid attention to that in music selection).

So what happened?  Well, if you do listen to the album, you already know.  They want a harder sound, and that’s not what the record company wants, and I’m sure John Waite is a victim of both (as his voice can do whatever is needed).  So in comes Backlash with a slight harder opening, but that pop-hard rock blend is still there, hedging the ballads, and utilizing the very good musicianship and talents of the band in the studio to make it fit, but if you — the performer — don’t connect with the material it will make playing hard.  And, they had toured on the first record with Whitesnake, so they knew the balance of the blues hard rock and ballad fan-loving connections.  Torn by it all, the band would not even survive past the recording studio.

At the time of listening to Backlash I thought it did a great job of joining the hard blues rock and pop-ballad, utilizing John Waite’s vocals to soar and attract.  But, when I look back at it now, I see where the hard rock side is pretty much even in less existence than the debut.  It had the same style with some great production and song choices like the blues bangers ‘Dancing Off the Edge of the World,’ and ‘Rebel Say A Prayer,’ but it’s ballad dominated even in while the tempo’s attempt to hold the hard rock.  It makes sense that it already wasn’t working within, even though it sounded great, was delivered well, and produced to the teeth.

They played a fabulous game at the table from 1989 to 1991, attempting to out ballad and connect amongst some the greatest pop/ballad singer songwriters of a generation, as well as the changing times, and utterly insane influx in variety that had probably ever happened in quite some time (maybe even ever).  So, at the game of Texas Hold’em, Bad English managed to stay at the table a little while, win some money, some respect, and continue their careers.  Not a bad spin they put on for that time frame.  Not bad at all.  No, it’s “not bad” it’s Bad English.

The Bad English Albums In My Collection:
  • Bad English (1989)
  • Blacklash  (1991)

Other bands to check out, in this line, as stated in our video presentation of this Unknown Sunday are;

  • Honeymoon Suite (in fact they have a new album that just released)
  • Aldo Nova
  • Hardline (which was the next project for Neal Schon and Deen Castronovo after Bad English)

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 7

This Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 7 we went deep off the radio radar for you!  While one of the performers is known for his participation in one of the greatest progressive bands of all time and his incredible guitar work, there’s no way this album is getting radio play these days despite the fearless rock progressive opera it is.  Then there’s the talents of death metal, hardcore vocalist, singer-songwriter producer who is definitely not interested in radio-play, but his talent and perception of his pocket of music has created a vibrant, scary beautiful and wondrous record with a potentially limited accessible window (don’t worry I’m going to work you into it).  Finally, we go psychedelic rockabilly cautionless with a wicked fun band out of Switzerland that knows how to spin, swing, and rock into your ears – young and old!  This Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 7 is ready to peak your interest, dip your toe, and press “play,” even if you’re slightly scared.

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews, again this weekend]

 

Ihsahn – Ihsahn & Ihsahn (Orchestral Version)

You know me, I’m trolling Twitter (call it “X” if you will – stupid name) with all my good music appreciating, multiverse travelling friends.  It is always nice to travel in and out of the hundreds of tweeters that span from comfort zone creatures, to off the beaten path far gone into a woods of potential no return.  They give their shout outs to old albums, favorites, and some shout the praises of something completely new (that I would’ve never seen coming, or maybe even given a touch to my ears).  I respect everyone’s opinion, even if I’ve listened and don’t agree (except for Alex, kidding).  So, Lisa – Hold Tight, her handle in parenthesis here (Sweary Music PR Director, practising inbox supremacy @holdtight_co w/@jimetal. Extreme Metal/Classical Fiend. Lover of light. Living a life of unexpected magic) was the one who brought Ihsahn to our attention.  There were a few others, too, but she was the most committed to the music cause, and I knew, once the solo album was released, we would be partaking of it to get the full effect.  Yes, virgins to the Ihsahn are we.  So, quickly, he’s the lead singer, songwriter for the band Emperor.  And, considering that title, you know where the metal mayhem is going.  It’s like a Robert Frost poem, dark and deep (and here’s a few other bands to drop, if you’re so inclined, that he was a part of);

Ihsahn is Norwegian (Vegard Sverre Tveitan), and his talents range from the singer-songwriter, composer and producer, to an instrumentalist with strong command of guitar, piano/keyboards, synthesizer, bass and drums, as well as the familiar guttural vocal, death metal operetic parts, and even clean post metalcore deliveries (which on this record are few and far between).  This record is a cataclysmic death metal recording that deserves complete attention, delivering exceptional modern expansion and compositional madness to the genre.  That is why, I listened past the vocal delivery.  This is why you should, too.  The musicianship is a reach beyond contemporary death metal (there’s a oxymoron sentence that I’ll probably get chastised for) sparing not a solitary inch of instrumentation on a common riff, thrashing of drums, or repetitive flow.  Ihsahn has composed an impressive, progressive, and darkly matured sound, surrounding it in orchestral and fierce metal integrity.  Who does that?!  He does!  And now — this next paragraph is why you should listen to this album, even if you’re completely turned off by this Satanist (yes, you read that right, and you’re not surprised), death metal gutter growler extraordinaire.  Please read on — I assure you, it’s worth it!

I already spoke of the musician that he is, and that which surround the solo record (this his eighth I think, so he’s got some years of absorption, perfecting and molding under his thick, metal belt, considering the other 90s death metal bands he was involved with).  The lyrics are formed by years of Nietzche and elemental darkness, as well as female followers of Bacchus, as on ‘Pilgrimage to Oblivion,’ which are engaging despite their darkness.  But you should be listening elsewhere, my ravaged friends, to the background the orchestra and the band.  This is where the incredible action lies.  You know why Metallica is so popular?  Accessibility, making the darkness accessible, letting you touch it, hear it, and then be comforted by riffs and thunderous drums.  Ihsahn doesn’t care, delivering it with absolute belief and conviction, so that’s the scary part, and the extreme pursuit of more sound and orchestration on top of it all.  Yes!  The instrument side – he’s surpassed every element surrounding death metal and just sent a thunderous warning shot that he’s completely absorbed in this new creation, and that’s what I absolutely love about it.  No, I hate the guttural vocal, but I understand it — the consumption.  It has to be there.  It’s why I don’t really enjoy Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, the vocal seems less fitting to the pursuit and all that surrounds it.  Ihsahn is all of it, even in the slow deliveries of ‘A Taste of the Ambrosia’ in it’s love torn sickness.

Okay, I’m going to help you have another experience with this record.  If guttural vocal will wreck you, don’t listen to it.  What?!  Listen to the Orchestral album first, so you can appreciate something of which you’ve probably never heard before.  This is the most amazing use of orchestra you will have ever heard!  Then go back and listen to ‘A Taste of the Ambrosia’ so you can be a little more aware of your surroundings and the author/vocalists’ intent and complete absorption.  I can’t imagine you not being complete enthralled.  I know I was, and I am.  This record is growing on me intently.  No, I’m not converting into oblivion anytime soon, and I’m certainly not going to start falling down the death metal rabbit hole with reckless abandon.  But, I am completely blown away by the recording.  That orchestra has things going on that should not be possible in strings.  It’s beautiful, sinister, ridiculous paced, and an earful unlike any soundtrack you could have possibly imagined.  Good luck…and shhh…god’s speed (oh no, I think he heard me).

The Band

  • Ihsahn – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, production

Additional Musicians

  • Tobias Ørnes Andersen – drums
  • Chris Baum – violin
  • Tobias Solbakk and Angell S. Tveitan – percussion

The Orchestra?  Is it all by these people above?  How?  I have yet to find proof one way or the other.  If that is the case (for the above) how even crazier good is this?!

Ihsahn – Tracklisting [Orchestral Album same titles]

  1. 1. Cervus Venator
  2. The Promethean Spark
  3. Pilgrimage to Oblivion
  4. Twice Born
  5. A Taste of the Ambrosia
  6. Anima Extraneae
  7. Blood Trails to Love
  8. Hubris and Blue Devils
  9. The Distance Between Us
  10. At the Heart of All Things Broken
  11. Sonata Profana

 

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion Back In Time

So you remember last year when we reviewed the wonderful rockabilly record from Australian blues man, Jimmy Barnes and Jools Holland (England’s favorite piano player and music show host)?  Not only a great record start to finish, but made our tops of 2023, and was one of the most watched Album Listen Challenge shows!  Well, let’s take that to a very interesting, female and male singer level, throw in a pint of psychedelic, a pinch of swing, a half-cup of blues, a splash of old school southern rock and surf, and even a fabulous off-beat Parisian number with a hint of an Elvis song in there, and you’ve got an earful!  Welcome to The Hillbilly Moon Explosion experience from, can you guess (without looking), no you can’t…Switzerland!  What?!  That’s right Zurich had a hell of a rockabilly scene hit up in the late 1990s, and this one still remains one of the most respected, and on Back In Time, we found out exactly why!

Back In Time, while the album’s title fits extremely well, is a genre stompin’ rockabilly lovin’ toe tappin’ and earful of a record.  But we don’t start off quite in the wheelhouse I’ve described, as the band does like to spruce and spit things around some!  ‘Sometimes Late At Night’ doesn’t start us there.  It’s a surf-psychedelia bender with the female vocal whipped back in time to an easy rocker, and that cliche, clever, guitar shiver slide down the fret.  Love that.  And they don’t linger in long songs, so you’re in, and then you’re out, into a noire Parisian slow, jangle country-slide guitar slinkiness of ‘Summerlove’ (and I’m hearing a close inflection and lines with ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ in it).  Simply a odd cafe delight!  The musical surprises and genre rock-in-a-billy adjustments are incredible throughout, and are never ever repetitive.  One of the reasons is the entry of male lead vocals, too!  When it hits, so does the familiarity and style and lyrical cleverness.  While our female vocalist continues sometimes in harmony, or a ghostly opera howl.  Whatever you call it, the sound is darn right cool, swanky, and bluesy enough to get you swinging on any dance floor.  And of course, there’s a banger on here, too, ‘Jet Fuel Rock N Roll‘ that brings down the house!

If you had a pension for the Barnestormers, but want some Squirrel Nut Zippers, and neo psychedelia with throwback appeal, get your Swedish moonshine ready, your stereo cranked, and your mood set to — here to — ‘Let’s Go’ (Back In Time)!  Guaranteed to satisfy until the next moon explosion.  Perfect for a lunar eclipse party, too!  And you, US clubs, you might want to think about booking this band, as apparently only Florida back in January was smart enough to get them in!

The Band

  • Oliver Baroni – vocals/upright bass
  • Emanuela Hutter – vocals/rhythm guitar
  • Duncan James – lead guitar/vocals
  • Sylvain Petite – drums

Back In Time Tracklisting

  1. Sometimes Late At Night
  2. Summerlove
  3. Knocked Down
  4. 1979
  5. I Live In My Head
  6. Sudden Ring
  7. Jet Fuel Rock And Roll
  8. Let’s Go (Back In Time)
  9. Nothing Takes The Place Of You
  10. Always Just You
  11. Death By My Side
  12. Reno

 

Steve HackettThe Circus and the Nightwhale

I don’t know who the ‘People of the Smoke’ are, but I hear the train coming (or is it leaving), and I know once the string come in that Steve Hackett (ex-guitarist for Genesis, legendary progressive solo guitar act) is set to deliver another progressive concept album, but this time it’s more of a rock opera in my ears!  I have certainly been a fan of his from Genesis and throughout the years, as his career and playing has evolved while still remaining true to his playing nature, which was something his bandmates of Genesis sort of left behind in a lot of instances to the feast and or foul of it all, depending on your musical enjoyment, era you were born in, or outside influences.  I love it all, so all the fractions of the beloved and not so beloved band are essential to the music multiverse.

The Circus and the Nightwhale is an impressive undertaking.  The album has an absolute killer (whale) production style and flow.  The instrumentation that goes beyond Hackett’s dynamo handling of electric (and acoustic — wait for it) is more than commendable — it might be the best I’ve heard in his career of non-Genesis albums.  There are so many interesting changes in the progressive pomp and ritual of this interesting musical tale (yes the pun is intended) that it even feels like you’re in an era-made journey, showcasing some interesting hommages of sound, as well as stretching the usual Steve Hackett designs.  The ‘Taking You Down’ edgy pop-rock into flamboyant saxophone is an awesome example of the creative nature and the grand production scale from track to track, as well as the all-encompassing nature of the project.

The 45 minute journey through The Circus and the Nightwhale leads to a variety of sounds, ear-settings, and intriguing bridges that you are never bored.  The slow jazz of ‘Found and Lost’ comes in soft and lovely with production rain, then adds in progressive piano and keyboard into harmonic vocals building that bridge of familiarity to the next musical story, ear driven location.  And, Steve Hackett and crew make you keenly aware of how they can weave and wind you up.  Flute to guitar to hard rock guitar solo, to drum crescendo.  It’s all powerful, purposeful, and progressively beautiful even to the climax and outro of sorts ‘White Dove.’

Is this Steve Hackett’s masterpiece?  I’m not close enough to the catalog of the artist to make that distinction.  I certainly am overcome and wowed by the passion in the music, even the vocals (which have always been the weakest link in the soloing, even when bringing in singer — as there is here, which ‘Ghost Moon and Living Love’ did a remarkable job of making work).  But it is the ever-changing virtuosity of Steve Hackett and the controls of the guitar that are the backbone of The Circus and the Nightwhale, and that is the very testament to the artist and professional player that he is and continues to be despite the lack of that surrounding the music multiverse over the last decade (for sure).  He is a treasure, whether it’s washed up on the shore from a Nightwhale, or left for dead in a back alley at Duke’s End.

The Band

  • Steve Hackett – electric and acoustic guitars, 12-string, mandolin, harmonica, percussion, bass and vocals
  • Roger King – keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements
  • Rob Townsend – sax
  • Jonas Reingold – bass
  • Nad Sylvan –  vocals
  • Craig Blundell – drums
  • Amanda Lehmann – vocals
  • Nick D’Virgilio and Hugo Degenhardt – guests on the drumstool
  • Benedict Fenner – keyboard (appearance)
  • Malik Mansurov – tar (Iranian Flute)
  • John Hackett – flute.

The Circus and the Nightwhale Tracklisting

  1. People of the Smoke
  2. These Passing Clouds
  3. Taking You Down
  4. Found and Lost
  5. Enter the Ring
  6. Get Me Out
  7. Ghost Moon and Living Love
  8. Circo Inferno
  9. Breakout
  10. All at Sea
  11. Into the Nightwhale
  12. Wherever You Are
  13. White Dove

God Lives Underwater On Unknown Sundays 2024

UNKNOWN SUNDAYS 2024 ON OUR YOU TUBE CHANNEL [CLICK HERE]

God Lives Underwater.  The first time I heard this band was on a radio show in Canada, the Thursday 30, on 102.1 The Edge, and it wasn’t even on the countdown, as it was an “up-n-comer” of sorts.  Canadian radio was our go-to for information, as there was no relying on US radio for what was coming.  They only cared what was already going on.  Education and forefront was the staple of great Canadian radio for so many years, and this band, from Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania gets known first on, of course, Canadian radio.  God Lives Underwater on Unknown Sundays 2024, from nowhere Pennsylvania into the grunge environment on the whim of a leaf, and the incredible intensity of programming-like scratches, industrial tinted guitar work and interesting yet darker dance gooves.

‘No More Love’ was the first single off that EP, which was picked up by a sideline record label of Rick Ruben.  When I first heard the track the vocal had not kicked in yet, and I had this immediate thought that Nine Inch Nails might be doing something slightly different.  Then it became obvious that this was a band had somehow developed a different signature, leaning heavy on the programming, but definitely pitching a curveball that had tones of the Stone Temple Pilots’ Tiny Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop (at least to me, and to be honest with you, I still feel that pace and vocal arrangement a lot through their catalog).  So, all-in-all, that first single had a strong conviction to something different and a confident delivery, but perhaps maybe a bit studio for the times?

With the EP now in my collection, and it’s about 6 songs in twenty-some minutes, it became an album to throw on in between the grunge albums in rotation.  Then came their debut album, Empty, right on the heels of that EP (because of the EP had actually been created back in 1993, and they’d been working self-promotion until Ruben’s label came along), which kept ‘No More Love’ on the album for obvious sales reasons (especially since it was utilized on the Keanu Reeves movie Johnny Mnemonic).  College radio stations in some areas found a connection, getting them into certain rotations, and I think a lot of that had to do with the idea of hearing something somewhat different and obscure from the normal artists in this time range (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Aerosmith resurgence, along with Madonna, Mariah Carey, and the infamous Jagged Little Pill album that dominated 1995).  Another band, that kind of slips into this wheelhouse, a different tempo and palette, is Prodigy (although a bit more club and EDM sounding).  Despite all of this, they knew their audience, small club tour, and we actually got to see them on their sophomore record, Life in the So-Called Space Age, which wound up being their best selling album at over 90,000 copies.  ‘From Your Mouth’ was one of the singles, and the video below, did garner quite the attention for featuring champion hot-dog eater Hirofumi Nakajima directed in reverse by Roman Coppala (although he was eating much more than hot dogs in this one take wonder video) ‘Rearrange’ is my favorite on the record, though.  I loved the pause and the programming.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they might have been a reason, along with Prodigy, that I can get into Dubstep and EDM, as it might have been the easy version of the so-called “drops” that I love in Skrillex, The Knife Party, or Excision.

A Depeche Mode tribute album called For the Masses, and God Lives Underwater has headline status with their version of ‘Fly On the Windscreen’ (even partly being responsible for getting bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, Monster Magnet and Hooverphonic to send in covers).  What also was driving their exposure to our ears was their tour’s attachment to bands like Econoline Crush and Stabbing Westward, which is really good company in that dark soul of music, as they were all in that new wheelhouse of slight industrial musicianship in the alternative and grunge mix.  Yes, Econoline Crush is from Canada, so the band apparently never forgot which country was leading the new charge of music.  So, they seem charged up, in the right position, and gaining momentum gradually.  Jeff Turzo was even mixing Skinny Puppy and Rob Zombie records (with help from Reilly).  So what goes wrong?  Money, fate, and tragedy of the most bizarre kind.

While the label starts to falter (we know how that happens, so we’ll skip that), the band tries to record and move past it.  But, tragedy strikes when lead singer, David Reilly’s fiance, Monica Young, was accidentally killed by a train while crossing the tracks while walking with headphones on (November 2000).  Reilly sank low.  His drug usage increased as a result, and at times was in jail, facilities, or on the street homeless.  . He also spent time in various jails and facilities, and claimed to be homeless at one point as well.  At this point, I’m not sure where the band is at, but the assumption would be broken up, and no chance of Off the Floor making the light of day (but it eventually does, drawing modest attention, and leading me to that tragedy mentioned above).   But, we’re not done, as Reilly creates a small solo album dedicated to Monica, under a different name, and a couple of others, which you can hear on Life in the So-Called God Lives Underwater Age, which combines those solo albums, as well as live performances.  It’s rare, but you can probably find that, more than you could a complete solo album.

Now, comes the fate and tragedy again.  David Reilly would die from a tooth infection, just after signing a record deal that would produce his final record, How Humans R(x).  Now at that point, I will state that he was moving to an rawer electronica style with some odd outliers, in some cases without vocal or some without electronica, but still worth looking up, as an extension to the listening scope of this artist.  Author and devout friend and fan of God Lives Underwater, Brian Paone, wrote a book about the entire life and times and experiences, Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts: My Memoirs of David Reilly, which I can understand might not be that fancy a read considering the rather unknown name of the man, but this is life in the so-called music industry, the logging of creativity, interaction, and of course what ‘Living in Syn’ was like.

The God Lives Underwater & David Reilly Albums In My Collection:

I will leave you with this about the final record, Up Off the Floor.  It has a much heavier sound, think Filter, as ‘1% (The Long Way Down)’ truly showcases the potential and expanding electronic passion and mixing skills of the David and Jeff.  They certainly had influences and have influenced many bands throughout their 10 years of music making and colliding with bands, studios, audiences and soundtracks.  It is a fine rabbit hole to go into, even in Reilly’s solo works which do showcase some acoustics and much trouble, real song-writing, which might be better than that of the earlier albums of God Lives Underwater.

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 6

What do we have for you today, my music multiverse travellers, on the Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 6? We’ve got a hard, stoner rock band that’s got a gritty yet underlying metal vibe with shuttering vocals, if that’s your rock shuttle.  Or, if you’re looking for a return to big, soul-funk bands with improvisation, tricks, and surprises galore, oh than we certainly have found your new go to! For the deeper, darker progressive rock lover, we have a veteran band that has been locked into a signature, but the precision and edge that is delivered here makes it an enticing listen, and one that could be a great starting point to a twenty-five year rabbit hole dive. Intrigued? You already know some of these?  Cool.  Let’s give these three albums a little review! Oh, and don’t forget the YouTube version of this and any of our blog posts. We work hard to make these Album Review Saturdays all they can be, and showcase all that we can!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews at the end]

 

Blazoner – Escape To Electric Land

When the album starts, Escape To Electric Land‘s minute intro, you’re way too bombarded with annoying under-talk and looping, until “shut your mouth and listen to me for a minute” comes from your inner voice and the actual voice of someone on the record.  Good, that’s right — the shows started — shut up!  Cool!  I get it.  I’ve been there, more times than I care to share (although if I had $1 for every time that’s happened I could do this show full time).  The hard rock guitar crunch, fuzz and blistering drums come in, and the vocal gritty-growl delivers.  The noise of talk and background are gone leaving only Blazoner’s hard rock alternative stoner triple threats to their loud and intense devices.

Let’s define the word blazoner for a second, as I’m going to use it, for the rest of the review.  It is basically one who foreshadows.  Well, I think this fits extremely well.  This three piece metal, hard rock band does a marvelous job of allowing the music to foreshadow, effectively what’s to come within the song and throughout the flow of the record (despite how easy the cliche of foreshadow is). What am I talking about?  Well, they start with hard rock and that hard stoner, but under the riff and ride you can feel what’s coming, as they give you a blast of it, or very noticeable hint.  Like ‘Fallout’ and that cliche cowbell, leading into ‘Onyx Stone’ and long lingering guitar weight that leads into the groove and hook.  You’ve been there, and you’re waiting for what’s going to happen next, even though you’re pretty damn sure what is.  And, it does come, that creepy edgy vocal that speak-sings, and the leads to crescendo banging refrain (the ‘karma’s a bitch, cause and effect, your innerself gets you out of bed).  The bass line is also a wonderful foreshadowing instrument on this album, too!  So, while there’s nothing above the norm, they take it all on hard and heavy, which is always great, engaging!  But, most importantly — it shuts the crowd up and blows the listener away who’s ready to escape to wherever the harsh rock of these blazing Virginians (Fredericksburg to be exact) wish to take you!  Hopefully, their debut journey is fortunate for you, and not misfortunate (knod to band songwriting here).

The Band

  • Stephen Sullivan – Guitar, Vocals
  • Brian Carnes – Bass, Vocals
  • Andy Murray – Drums, Vocals

Escape To Electric Land Tracklisting

  1. Electric Land
  2. The Servant
  3. Ghost
  4. Fallout
  5. Onyx Stone
  6. Misfortune
  7. Time Shift
  8. Full Stop

 

 

 

OrgoneChimera

A simple hanging organ sound, lingering amidst a clever drum fill, then the bass line kicks in, and soon after that we’re off to building, adding and fluctuation of great simple late 60’s – 70’s soul rock instrumental bliss.  We’re smitten, but the Chimera here is the band, because while they linger in the genre and soufilled mystique of the era, they have no problem giving you an improvisational tickle, rumble or jolt.  The continual changes in vocalists (although all part of this expansive band, apparently) add to the illusion and beautiful misdirection and ever-changing stimulations of the band.  You’ve got a great slow funk and R&B feel that definitely flows through most of Chimera (thanks to the organ/keyboard, drum and bass), but the next song you’re rolling funky and slightly modernized with trippy electronica-like paces and buzzy jazz (like in the second instrumental, ‘Basilisk’).  Welcome to Orgone’s fantastic, and properly titled, Chimera.

Wait, is that a southern blues guitar lick, now?! Could be, as ‘Parsols’ has the twang, but they use it not so close to form, which is again, another wonderful illusion (Chimera).in the instrumental part!  Trust me, you will not get enough of these brilliant interludes.  Then, you’re whisked off to bass heaven, toms and a catchy Rastafarian club for ‘Zum Zum’ with collaborative vocalist, Mermans Mosango.  Totally awesome!  And, there’s more surprises ahead to make this one of the grooviest, fun, imaginative, and tight experiences in the genre in a very long time.  If you’re a soul-funk rock fusion officianto, they might be on your radar, but this album goes into the depth and sound orgies of The New Deal (instrumental electronica out of Toronto) and Portishead (minus Ms. Gibbons).  I even think I heard the breathing of the Predator improved into a track!  All kinds of funky fabrications that work on every single track!  Now, a slight minus, they have a hard time ending a song, which I can understand, so they tend to just let the song fade old school (still trying to decide if that’s cool or not).  Considering the overall five start musicianship, pace and style of Chimera, I’m willing to go with cool, and you will probably, too!

The Band

  • Sergio Rios – Guitars
  • Adryon de León – Vocals
  • Dan Hastie – Keyboards/organ, Clavinet
  • Sam Halterman – Drums
  • Dale Jennings – Bass

Vocal Performances

  • Jamie Allensworth
  • Terin Ector
  • Congolese musical alchemist Mermans “Mofaya” Mosengo

Chimera Tracklisting

  1. Hallowed Dreams
  2. Lies and Games
  3. Basilisk
  4. Peace For You
  5. Parasols
  6. Zum Zum
  7. Running Low
  8. The Husk
  9. Tula Muisi (Dance Like Them)
  10. Coronado

 

 

The Pineapple ThiefIt Leads To This

The peaceful, sincere and contemplative vocals of Bruce Soord is the fragile author and provocateur of It Leads To This, which musically is the absolute near opposite (not always, but take for instance ‘Every Trace of Us’ and the drum muscle and dark desperate keyboard arrangements).  This is an album the features the struggle and choices and what it all has lead to, whether small or expansive in scope.  Think Rush, for a minute, and the vocal soft style of Geddy Lee against the drumming and guitar work surrounding a lot of their works.  Well, enter The Pineapple Thief, and their slightly darker, deeper progressive rock style.  It’s like brawn meets thoughtful intelligence and introspection.  While the musicianship is willing and ready to throw down, crush, or fall endlessly into an awaiting abyss, Soord is hanging on every word, attempting to deliver a last word, a hopeful plea, or maybe an aside.  And, if you don’t think this works progressively, for some reason, like this band is stuck in a rut, I don’t believe you’re understanding the very push and pull that has built a twenty-five year span.

It Leads To This is probably the first truly progressive rock record of 2024.  The passion toward the lyrics and the interwoven brilliance of drum, keyboard, and guitar that linger in the journey, and then push and shove the listener forward (that’s right – you can’t fuckin’ linger here – time to move) like a prison warden of life, are spectacularly and technically produced.  The simple piano goes from lovely and deep, to haunting and menacing.  A wave across the guitar could be emotional or pivotal at any moment.  And, the drums, the fills and the rhythm moves from a stroll, to a uncomfortable march, to a harrowing tumble.  Truly remarkable.  But, you’re not going to get this on one listen.  You’re not going to believe it’s there.  You’ve got to spend some time to ‘Put It Right’ as this recording was intended.  I assure you, the Genesis, Rush, and Riverside progressive rock themes and memorable moments all lead up to a gorgeous, yet dark, music experience that, if you’re like me a casual listener of The Pineapple Thief, will lead you to their intended rabbit hole of a catalog!

The Band

  • Bruce Soord –Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
  • Jon Sykes – Bass, Vocals
  • Steve Kitch – Keyboards
  • Gavin Harrison – Drums

It Leads To This Tracklisting

  1. Put It Right
  2. Rubicon
  3. It Leads to This
  4. The Frost
  5. All That’s Left
  6. Now It’s Yours
  7. Every Trace of Us
  8. To Forget

Dexter Gordon On Unknown Sundays 2024

UNKNOWN SUNDAYS 2024 ON OUR YOU TUBE CHANNEL [CLICK HERE]

When it comes to accomplished Jazz musicians that have stood the test of time, and they come to immediate mind in the music multiverse, and people have their definitive album, their greatest hits, and podcasters and YouTuber’s always name them, discuss them, and triumphantly attempt to rank their importance or their albums.  All of this I always enjoy and tune in for, whether it’s video, podcast, or just social media banter.  These are the Ella Fitzgerald’s, Miles Davis’, Thelonious Monks’, Dizzy Gillespie’s, Miles Davis’, and John Coltrane’s of the world.  And of course, there’s Louie, Charlie, Billie, Duke and Benny, which just the mention of their first name leads to their last name for generations of music appreciators old and new.  All are worthy, and there are some I didn’t include in this brief list to prove my point, which is, Dexter Gordon On Unknown Sundays 2024.  The legend you may not truly know, and a catalog that you have to experience to be a jazz officianto, or if for some reason you think those mentioned above are all that matters.

The “Sophisticated Giant” tenor saxophonist at the height of 6′ 6″ was the complete, jazz composer and band leader in the early ages of Bebop among the legends Dizzy, Charlie, and Bud Powell (whom I didn’t mention above).  Dexter’s father, a graduate of Howard Medical School, was actually the physician for Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie, which even back then was a fine who do you know  (or at least who your father knew).  In fact, on many occasions ‘The Big Man’ (Duke Ellington), would be over the house for dinner, and kids would line up at the window to get a glimpse of the famed musician.  Dexter’s talent for music, which started with the clarinet but turned to saxophone, was certainly the driving force of his recognition because before he actually recorded with Dizzy back in 1945, he was already in Louis Armstrong’s band, as well as Bill Eckstine’s, so he was definitely all-in, moving to New York City (following the music trail and immersing himself among the best).  Over his career, which is extensive, as a sideman and/or collaborator he has worked (besides those already mentioned) with Sarah Vaughn, Nat King Cole, George Benson, Art Blakely, and Tony Bennett, among many other legendary jazz musician session players.

Not only does he have accolades in the music industry, he is also the recipient of an Oscar for Round Midnight soundtracks with Herbie Hancock, as well as a Best Actor Nomination for his role as “Dale Turner.”  He was the first musician instrumentalist to receive an oscar nomination for acting.  The movie featured him as an expatriate jazz musician in Paris during the late 1950s based on Lester Young and Bud Powell, which also features the acting side of Martin Scorsese.  He would also be in Penny Marshall’s movie, Awakenings, as well as a guest appearance on Michael Mann’s crime drama, Crime Story.

Now that you have all that history and busy life of Dexter Gordon under your belt of interest, how is that the legendary John Coltrane is influenced by Dexter Gordon?  Let’s get back to those early years where it’s not truly about the album.  See the kids were playing their own heavy bebop and jazz at rehearsals, and some of those legends would come down to hear them.  Dizzy and Duke especially, and they were diggin’ what they were hearing.  This is the experience of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, three years or so his juniors.  So, the “Jazz Giant” is just pushing the saxophone into all kinds of jazz varietals, and John and Sonny were picking it up and laying it down.  And then, just a few years later, Miles, Sonny, and Coltrane started to shape Dexter’s jazz world, and the explosion of the jazz music multiverse became incredible!  And that’s kind of where, Dexter Gordon gets a little lost in the shuffle of the naming of the greats as time went on.  Dexter Gordon’s Go, is the essential, got-to-have, but the in actuality the live performances and collaborations of those earlier years and records are formative, creative and essentially special recordings that drove those that got the single names.

When I first started getting into Jazz, it was people dropping those names, that you had to experience.  And, while these names are very true.  We all know, in the music multiverse there are always gems, influencers, innovators, and stunning one-offs that can be extremely awesome memories in time that should be enjoyed — perhaps just as much.

The Dexter Gordon Albums In My Collection [that range from vinyl to compact disc]:
  • Dexter Rides Again (1958)
  • The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon (Jazzland, 1960)
  • Dexter Calling… (Blue Note, 1961)
  • Landslide (Blue Note, 1961–62 [1980])
  • Go! (Blue Note 1962)
  • Our Man in Paris (Blue Note, 1963, with Bud Powell, Pierre Michelot, Kenny Clarke)
  • Gettin’ Around (Blue Note 1965)
  • Wee Dot (SteepleChase, 2003 [1965])

I will leave you with a quote from the character, Dale Turner, in Round Midnight“You know, there’s been nights … when I’ve been working and playing, and at the end of the night, you know, I look at my mouthpiece … and it’s all bloody, but I haven’t felt a thing, you know. My life is music. My love is music. And it’s 24 hours a day.”   Mr. Gordon, who battled more than just the time table of musicianship, music eras, and wide variety of racial moments in history, was also a great stage presence, an ambassador of the arts, and a man who knew the struggles of addiction and the road to recovery.  His contribution to Bebop, Jazz, and the band arrangements will forever be a saxy piece of history.  Especially his keen sense of adding in little ditties of famous pieces into his playing!  It’s always great to find a Dexter Gordon record in a used bin, and then put it on and spot the little-cover-of anything from Peter Cottontail to Wagner’s opera(s).  Totally out of left field, and you have to be paying close attention because some of these are snuck in there seamlessly.

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 5

Here we are, Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 5, and I am already having problems picking from the plethora of albums across the genres, and of course keeping them in realm of Beyond Your Radio article experiences.  Sure, I can add three or four or more on the video, which I always try to do as many as I possibly can (giving a fair review), but there’s a lot so far, that I feel would be cool articles!  This Saturday, I spread the wealth again, taking an interesting contemporary country-slow rock with a singer songwriter I’ve been familiar with over the years, and might be one of those you might be surprised I enjoy.  The second album took some work, let me tell you!  I wasn’t sure what I was in for when digesting this party’s offering, and after all, I WAS cordially invited to listen to the album.  How could I pass that up?!  Then that Twitter (X) musical discussion feed had an interesting band name (way to simple), and a brief post from one my fav’s on there, so I sliced me off a chunk of time to spread this one over my stereo.  Hope you like!  Oh, yes, it’s all women in the vocal here, and they definitely deserve your attention!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discusses these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews at the end]

 

 

Sarah JaroszPolaroid Lovers

Sarah’s voice is effortless, enrapturing, and familiar, no matter what landscape of musicianship she tenders to be surrounded by.  In her past of alternative-folk, bluegrass and fiery Americana, she’s been a chameleon of sorts.  You will realize it right away (you probably heard her voice before — after all she’s won a few Grammys).  But, what you might not realize right away is that she’s floating warmly in jazz vocal style throughout contemporary musicianship, subtle country, and swaying soft rock.  This accomplishment puts her in some unique status with the likes of Jann Arden and Neko Case to name a few that come to mind immediately.

Polaroid Lovers is just one of those lovely albums that doesn’t have a solitary song flaw.  Unless, you might be taken aback by the bluegrass and alternative-country being heavily diffused into modern adult contemporary country-pop (this is not selling out, so listen)  These well crafted, intentfully arranged snapshots that feature all kinds of life capturing moments are ‘The Way It Is Now’ or at least for the song-writer that Sarah Jarosz has been maturing into (this album was co-written with Tashian, Jon Randall, Ruston Kelly, and Natalie Hemby).  This album has reflective commentary followed by beautiful areas where the artistry of the instruments gets to subtly shine, and this song is probably the best encapsulating example.  While I state, soft and subtle, the lyrics carry the weight of life’s hardships, sorrows, and uncertainty, as well as balancing and working it into moving forward, which is present not only in her voice, but in the strumming to picking of the guitar, mandolin, or other string devices.

If ‘Columbus & 89th’ is an actual place, which I’m sure it is, we have all been there in the longing we might have for it, or the memory of it.  This album and Sarah’s impeccable delivery is beckoning us to join her in that moment in our own lives — those places of significance in our own polaroid of love and life.  Polaroid Lovers is a wonderful singer-songwriter love letter to explore from the vocal, to the lyrics and into the depth and importance of instrument compositions and how they flow and lift the overall audio experience.  Again, this developed adult contemporary that pays close attention to the overall music experience in marvelous, inviting vocals and arrangements is neat experience that should be around at year end lists!  ‘Good At What I Do?’ (she asks) isn’t that something we all hope for validation somehow in — in all that we do?  To you, Ms. Jarosz, in the music multiverse, I can assure you that you certainly are, and this is outstanding proof for all to visit!

The Band

  • Sarah Jarosz – vocals, octave mandolin, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo
  • Jeff Picker – bass guitar, fretless bass, upright bass
  • Fred Eltringham – drums, percussion
  • Tom Bukovac – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, organ
  • Rob McNelley – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, resonator guitar
  • Jon Randall – harmony vocals
  • Justin Schipper – pedal steel
  • Emmanuel Valdez -acoustic guitar, electric guitar

Polaroid Lovers Tracklisting

  1. Jealous Moon
  2. When the Lights Go Out
  3. Runaway Train
  4. The Way It Is Now
  5. Dying Ember
  6. Columbus & 89th
  7. Take the High Road
  8. Don’t Break Down on Me
  9. Days Can Turn Around
  10. Good at What I Do
  11. Mezcal and Lime

 

The Last Dinner PartyPrelude To Ecstasy

From the orchestra bounding in foreboding movie soundtrack fashion, we feel the level of cordial invitation and the anticipation of what’s to come.  So, we sit down, at the table surrounded by the music multiverse, with our headphones on, and it begins.  ‘Burn Alive’ starts and the vocal hits you, immediately identifiable in a PJ Harvey, Florence Welch alternative beauty and edgy harmonies, putting you on notice that ecstasy is many things.  And so it goes, and dinner is served!

Prelude to Ecstasy has a lot of intriguing, bombastic and harmonic moments, leaving your ears in a true ecstasy if you’re open to the unscripted opportunities of art pop, alternative rock, and orchestrated crescendos that can leave you absolutely breathless!  Oh, and this is definitely is giving the ‘Feminine Urge’ to you with lock stock and two smokin’ albums sides!  The vocals, while captivatingly surrounded by and ever-changing musician-landscape from tickling piano to orchestral booms, are truly the “ecstasy” to the ear that holds the covers barely on.  It’s seductive from start to finish, and as a male listener, I’m drawn in to their pleasure seeking palette, ears perked, excitingly awaiting the next level of song (voyeuristic – if I can find the audio term for it – hell yes).  It’s also lovely and tender, too, where it is intended to be (all-be-it brief in most cases), like in ‘On Your Side.’

You know, Indie Rock, for me sometimes gets a boring wrap in my ears.  Indie usually means independently produced and a somewhat stripped down approach to the overall rock album process, admittingly raw, and sometimes (at least in the United States) guided by that which some areas of the country believe the sound to be (at the time).  Prelude To Ecstasy has none of these elements that I sometimes get bogged down in.  The album is produced with intentful passion and equal determination to be and sound empowering, and the ladies involved from London are pinnacle-ists for what ‘indie’ should mean (at least to me), completely independent from what’s going on in music at the time!  ‘Gjuha’ to ‘Sinner’ is exactly that moment in this album!  It is nothing you heard or expect, yet comfortable and utterly played to perfection!  James Ellis Ford, who produced this record, has another glorious addition to his outstanding production resume of pleasure and pain conceptual masterpieces (Depeche Mode’s “Memento Mori,” Artic Monkey’s “The Car,” and of course the aforementioned, Florence and the Machine).  He understands the true meaning and glory of Indie-Rock and how to release it from its definition artist by artist, album by album.

The Last Dinner Party was the experience of the year from start to finish!  I’m stuffed, bloated, and tripping over every moment in my memory attempting to savor the moment!  Oh, thank God, it’s an album in actuality, and I can just put the needle on the record again, unbutton my pants and consume more (did that come out right?).  Don’t miss Prelude To Ecstasy — it’s killer, and these ladies are astoundingly good at serving it all up in glorious indulgence!  ‘Nothing Matters’ right now except you getting this in your ears and trying to outlast them…good fuckin’ luck!

The Band

  • Abigail Morris – lead vocals
  • Lizzie Mayland – vocals, guitar, flute
  • Emily Roberts – lead guitar, mandolin, flute, vocals
  • Georgia Davies – bass guitar, vocals
  • Aurora Nishevci – keyboards, organ, piano, synthesizer, vocal

Prelude To Ecstasy  Tracklisting

  1. Prelude To Ecstasy
  2. Burn Alive
  3.  Caesar on a TV Screen
  4. The Feminine Urge
  5. On Your Side
  6. Beautiful Boy
  7. Gjuha
  8. Sinner
  9. My Lady of Mercy
  10. Portrait of a Dead Girl
  11. Nothing Matters
  12. Mirror

 

Cheddar – Psyche

Ok, let’s immediately address the beloved band name, here.  There is nothing cheesy about this band or this album.  In fact, grab a glass of a the most decadent red blend you can afford, and allow this poorly named Spanish quintet to take you into the modern, moderate occult hard rock sound that is Psyche.  Yes, that’s right, the title track is merely an intro piece that has chirping birds, keyboard and the words of someone you believe to be speaking on behalf of the struggle of human nature and the on-coming evil (oh no!).  Then the progressive entry of acoustic guitar and the elegant entry of the note-worthy Clara Dorronsoro, and then bass, drum and electric guitar seeps in like shadows — and we are off — brilliantly off!  Riff and booming, soaring vocals rise and swallow the full opening track ‘Chrysalis I’ making sure the hook is set and our ears are locked.

Psyche is a melded album of progressive metal (without keyboard) meets occult style hard blues rock (hence the dueling and beguiling guitar work), allowing the tracks to fall into the next, creating a seamless music experience.  The ethereal vocal can belt, whisper and engage cleverly within the crushing riffs, or a surprising beefy bass line like that of ‘Le Mort,’ and challenge the captivating and often dark drumming that snarls at every inch.  You want to psychoanalyze this band?  Do you dare?  Careful with Cheddar.  By the time I’m into ‘Imago I,’ I am starting to become aware of how self-aware they truly are.  They have this band name for some reason, and I’m starting to think the unconscious idealized mental image of someone is exactly why.  Influencing a person’s behavior, well that’s exactly the feeling ripping through this record.  Cheddar — how enticing cheese is in its power and connection to so many things!  Oh Cheddar, so indulgent.  The faults of human nature!  And now, ‘Limerence’ is bellowing in my ears, all beautiful and progressively dark — yikes!  Look it up (okay I looked it up for you:  a state of infatuation or obsession with another person that involves an all-consuming passion and intrusive thoughts).  Set the headphones down and step slowly away from the Cheddar…

Oh, but it’s so damn good.  She sounds so beautiful!  The music is amazingly hard bluesy metal and calling to me again.  Those dark grooves, hypnotic vocal plays calling from the dangerous nature of musical conception to be played again and again!  It’s so simple.  It’s Cheddar.  I’ve never wanted anything so much.

I agree.  “Dive into Psyche: fear and wonder, a struggle against the shadow that lurks among the collective sum of our minds”  Yes, what they said.  It’s all that and a board of Cheddar.

The Band

  • Clara Dorronsoro – vocals
  • Daniel Bitrián – guitars
  • Pablo Cabornero – guitars
  • Miguel Alonso – bass
  • Javier Macho – drums

Psyche Tracklisting

  1. Psyche
  2. Chrysalis I
  3. Chrysalis II
  4. Le Mort
  5. Imago I
  6. Imago II
  7. Limerence
  8. Lua

The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies On Unknown Sundays 2024

UNKNOWN SUNDAYS 2024 ON OUR YOU TUBE CHANNEL [CLICK HERE]

The year is 1993, and the southern blues rock scene had certainly heard an influx of new, up-n-comers as well as the return of some very solidified 1990s acts in that “wheel” house.  Enter The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies. Rock, southern gospel fused radio friendly style jumpin’ blues!  You didn’t have to be polished.  You didn’t have to be extremely tight.  And, you didn’t have to be gloriously produced.  You just had to be committed to hitting, being loose, and being emotionally convincing with the swagger of the sound and vocal!  Well, they had that the minute they met vocalist Mike Farris for sure!  The first five songs they ever all wrote and made together stuck, and with the band name slightly taken from a Far Side illustration, ‘Cheetah Wheelies’ (which could have been a cereal name for all I knew at the time), they had just about everything they needed.  Oh, yeah, they decided to add “Screamin'” in front, which makes absolute sense – yeah!  The self-titled debut hit on October of 1993, The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies on the well respected Atlantic Records.

It’s not surprising that the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies (known from here on out as SCW so we can shorten the words) got airplay, entered my ears, and then was quickly snatched up in my local record store.  It’s always good to have a Buffalo News reviewer who drops off promotional CDs into the ‘used bin’ for an obsessive like me!  From radio to rotation on my disc-changer in my Ford Probe, there was a lot of Southern Rock influences getting loudly exposed on every road trip!  Flipping from The Black Crowes, Cry of Love, and the Four Horsemen to Brother Cane and even hailing back to The Allman Brothers Band and off-shoots, we we’re lovin’ on the SCW.  The difference here, at least at the first two albums, is a heavier, grittier reach with almost metal solo guitar licks, and of course, that voice of Mike Farris.  It just screams SCW and separated their sound (perhaps that’s where they got the ‘screamin’ from?  They didn’t jam as long as The Black Crowes or The Allman Brothers Band, but they were definitive in their delivery and passion for the music, and it came out.  Even in the performance I was lucky enough to see, where they opened for a very popular band at the time, Blackfish, which had a hit single, ‘The Sugar Shack’ back in the same year.  The band was as advertised and then some.  Very much in the wild southern blues rock arena, and even par with those bands of the 1990s that were in the same genre.

Now, you have to put into context what’s going on in the music industry at the time.  This scene is not where the music industry money is, nor is it where the overall listener is.  Reminder, 1993 held Nirvana’s In Utero, Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream, and Vs by Pearl Jam.  That also doesn’t count in expensive record contracts and promotions of bands and artists like Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, U2, and Mariah Carey.  As well as the influx of indie-alternative from Liz Phair and Bjork and an adult contemporary rockers like Counting Crows and Sheryl Crow.  Oh, yeah, and something was happening in Compton, big time (Snoop, Cypress Hill, and a certain Doctor).  So that’s a lot of battles to fight in record sales, which we know determines attention and careers.  So, 1996 happens, and here comes their sophomore record, Magnolia, which I immediately grabbed when the price was right.  It even had a guest appearance by Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, which was just getting their own footing in the world of music at the time.  So, as you would expect, despite Magnolia’s considerable connection to the prior sound, and the better production, the Southern Rock Blues era was starting to lose a bit of footing (leaving new comers and keeping only a handful of those that came before, like The Black Crowes and legacy artists like The Allman Brothers).  No one survived.  Not Brother Cane, not Cry of Love, not Black fish (not southern rock), nor The Four Horsemen.  They were able to put out another album under Capricorn label, titled Big Wheel, which had a hint of sound changes, melding a bit of Blue Traveler sound and wavering back and forth between slow and hard rock and blues.  Still, a very feel good record with a lot of great engaging southern rock and blues guitar work.

No matter what, I’m glad that there was this six year span of the SCW to look back on.  They are still considered an unknown despite their tremendous grip on the genre and the vocal style and passion of Mike Farris.  Mike has been pretty steady in solo career with four solo albums: “Goodnight Sun” (2002), “Salvation In Lights” (2007) on INO Records, “Shine for All the People” (2014) on Compass Records, which won a Grammy for Best Roots Gospel album. He followed that up with “Silver & Stone” (2018) on Compass.  While he has the range, the solo is a lot more toward raw-blues rock, hammond organ grind with hints of Gospel and more vocal reach, including some tender ballad works, too.  The band members have had the following side projects that you can check out, as well (Stack, Black Mountain Prophet, Scale Hound and Blackwood).  And yes, The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies returned together for a Long Goodbye Tour in 2022, which centered around the Nashville area.  Wish I could have gone, would’ve been cool to hear their sound nearly in this decade live in comparison.

The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies have a place in the music multiverse, especially if you’re a lover of the southern rock-blues.  They hold up just as well as those bands we mentioned above, and even the solo work of Mr. Farris could also be a wonderful ‘Unknown’ to explore on any given Sunday!

Albums of The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies in my collection
  • The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies (Atlantic Records, 1993)
  • Magnolia (Atlantic Records, 1996)
  • Big Wheel (Capricorn, 1998)

Other albums, EP(s) out there:

  • Live Vol. 1 and 2 (Big Top Records, 2000)
  • Shakin’ the Blues (live) (Dark Reign Records, 2002)
  • Ten Miles High EP (2005)  – This has four songs that were from recording session that never made an album from 2000’s attempt.

Mike Farris Solo Albums out there (of interest):

  • Goodnight Sun (Mean It!, 2002)
  • Salvation in Lights (INO, 2007)
  • Shout! Live (INO, 2008)
  • Live from Westlake Studio B (Independent, 2009)
  • The Night the Cumberland Came Alive (Entertainment One, 2010)
  • Shine for All the People (Compass, 2014)
  • Silver & Stone (Compass Records, 2018)

 

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 4

On this Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 4 we spread our ears to two bands we’d never heard before, and one that’s attempting to escape it’s music multiverse type casting.  But honestly, we  found some great, fun sounds, new favorite discoveries, and a way to give “grin” away an hour.  We found a cool, frisky, and wicked vocal in a United Kingdom rock band that can reach some interesting styles that are accessible and familiar.  Our ears indulged in progressive rocker from Australia that has been around for 13 years without us having heard a single album (totally not fair to them).  Then we took on an album and band that live in a doubtful possibility.

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discusses these (3) albums + adds two (2) more reviews at the end]

 

Frank Carter and the RattlesnakesDark Rainbow

Let us set the record, here.  There is nothing wrong with catchy, rocky, and familiarity in sound design and structure.  Is the goal to get on radio?  I’m not even sure if that’s even the case anymore, as much as it used to be, considering the reach of streaming.  It’s probably more important to snag TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube attention.  However, when I heard Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes for the first time, on their brand new, Dark Rainbow, there was something familiar about that vocal, delivery that truly kept my attention.  First, let me tell you, when I see titles of bands that have “and the” I’m already skeptical, and that’s because of so many disappointing bands and records with cool names derived from the “and the.”  When the album kicked off with ‘Honey’ I was drawn in.  That’s right boys, start it off, let it rip a bit, and if I’m lucky — you’re still saving a lot up.  True!  By the time you get to ‘Brambles’ you realize that you’ve taken on some nice twists and turns in their sound without traveling to far away from any comfort zone.  Whether that’s by intention or not, I think it’s a concept to get your audience to trust you.  And, in the first few songs, I’m trusting that familiar voice (My Chemical Romance meets Royal Blood, if I’m going to name drop).  Then, from here, the band puts in the risks, the ballad, the song-writing, the essence and spunk required to let you (the listener) know that they’re worth your ear and time!

‘Queen of Hearts’ edge and stripped musicianship from the first part of the record comes at that perfect moment.  Maybe you’re thinking like I was, maybe it’s becoming very Killers-esque?  Did the vocal suddenly become the forefront of all of this?  What a beautiful second ballad, right on the heels of the last track!  The vocal is just suddenly not where we started, becoming the focal point against a solitary piano.  ‘Sun Bright Golden Happening’ is soft, real, and word-hanging song-writing that doesn’t have a lick of cliche, which I truly appreciate!  And, wait, is that a sax in the final moments — goddamn!  Now, it’s up to the final three songs to bring us home!  Got a feeling!  Oh yeah…

I’m not going to spoil it for you.  I know — you’re like — you freakin’ tease.  Believe me — I think this ways better!  I leave you with the lyrics from the next song, and then… it’s up to you.  ‘Dance like no one’s watching, Fuck me like they all are, Kiss me like you mean it, Baby, let me be your superstar.’  Insert your emoji here later!

The Band

  • Frank Carter – vocals, keyboards
  • Dean Richardson – guitar, programming, keyboard

Additional Musicians

  • Tank Barclay – bass guitar
  • Gareth Grover – drums
  • Elliot Russell – guitar
  • Lorna Blackwood – backing vocals
  • Ronan Sherlock – violin (tracks 1, 5, 6, 11)
  • Cam Blackwood – keyboards (track 4)
  • Simon Richardson – acoustic guitar (track 5)
  • Yasmin Ogilvie – saxophone (track 8)

Dark Rainbow Tracklisting

  1. “Honey”
  2. “Man of the Hour”
  3. “Can I Take You Home”
  4. “American Spirit”
  5. “Happier Days”
  6. “Brambles”
  7. “Queen of Hearts”
  8. “Sun Bright Golden Happening”
  9. “Superstar”
  10. “Self Love”
  11. “A Dark Rainbow”

 

 

Caligula’s Horse – Charcoal Grace

I don’t know if most progressive music lovers will agree with me on this one, but I would have to say that the genre has really seen some very expansive, important and uniquely engaging bands and artists both past and present in the 2020’s so far.  The time to find music attachment to this palette of audio creativity has truly never been better.  It’s not all crazy keyboards and elongated songs that sometimes are more of the journey than the album (to some listeners).  Accessibility, is the greatest avenue to give these bands and this very wide genre a new audience of appreciators.  Enter Caligula’s Horse into this race.  A thoroughbred created back in 2011 in the country of Australia, which has had some very cool bands of influence; Karnivool, Twelve Foot Ninja, Dead Letter Circus, and King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard.  Caligula’s Horse born into the progressive metal/rock arena of the genre seems to not only capture a lot of the inventive nature of its influencers (that post metalcore touches), but have found a true mantel to rest their musicianship on with Charcoal Grace.

Not only does this album house the element that I spoke of, but it harnesses prog-flow to add an intimate audio between and within the progressive rock construct.  Even the vocal arrangement soars to compliment the song-writing as well as rising and falling action throughout the record.  They don’t leave the guitar trapped in rhythm hell either.  They let it hit solo heights, gather momentum in riff and crescendo as well as signatured calm in the tempest moments.  They come at you hard hitting at track beginnings to showcase the musicianship, as well as remind you this is a progressive metal band, too!  That’s ‘Golem,’ for you and it’s a typical scorcher with great heavy pace and riff, even as it adjust the tempo slightly.  But, it’s the ‘Charcoal Grace’ suites that truly defines this album, which makes every bit of sense, considering the title.  The vocals find a place of storytelling nature, a bit more blaze in their delivery against a slightly more melodic approach to their metal, which is a wonderful shift.  This centerpiece is gripping and exploratory at the same time, as it still maintains the integrity of the band’s passion for progressive metal exploration, letting the music breathe in and exhale, too.  ‘Charcoal Grace: A World Without’ is lovely and light-filled on all edges, vocally, guitar patterns, and keyboard, and this is the moment which arrives like the present biggie bands like Haken, and Leprous or Sleep Token (although the latter two are bigger sound departures within albums)‘Charcoal Grace: Vigil’ allows Jim Grey to showcase a hint of Maynard James Keenan, too, which fits elegantly well.

The production on this hour and two-minute recording is magnificent throughout, and the details of the flow of the record are wonderfully arranged to give you a concept record experience in sound.  Caligula’s Horse gives it all to you, track by track and as a full on album.  Charcoal Grace was our first listen to Caligula’s Horse, which has now prompted a march back in time to discover that which we’ve been missing.  This is a prime example of bands being lost in the time we have, and the musical landscape surrounding our days.  We thank the music multiverse for allowing Caligula’s Horse to come galloping into our music landscape this year.  Even though we’re late, we know we can make up for lost time by audio emersion.  Caligula’s Horse is our new favorite at the progressive metal derby gates!

The Band

  • Jim Grey – vocals
  • Sam Vallen – guitars
  • Dale Prinsse – bass
  • Josh Griffin – drums

Additional musicians

  • Kate Derepas – cello
  • Sophie Willis – flute, clarinet
  • Victoria Taylor – trumpet
  • Samuel Andrews – violin

Charcoal Grace Tracklisting

  1. “The World Breathes with Me”
  2. “Golem”
  3. “Charcoal Grace I: Prey”
  4. “Charcoal Grace II: A World Without”
  5. “Charcoal Grace III: Vigil”
  6. “Charcoal Grace IV: Give Me Hell”
  7. “Sails”
  8. “The Stormchaser”
  9. “Mute”

 

 

 

The SmileWall of Eyes

This is the hardest band to review, in my opinion.  Radiohead is by far the most unique, influential and rock defying-re-defining band of the past twenty years plus.  It was 1985 when they began their journey, and it wasn’t experimental, alternative, ambient, electronica, avant-garde progressive to start.  I think we’re all aware of that commercial start with radio friendly ‘Creep,’ but what was to come was perpetual creation, re-creation, and obliteration of any defining rock or musical genre.  They became the biggest band on the planet.  They have one of the greatest produced albums of all time in, Ok Computer.  Not to mention the most critically acclaimed bands, consistently, since the Beatles.  The ear’s of music multiverse would long to hear whatever comes next from album to album with wonderment and astonishing, unabashed musical inventive minimalistic mayhem.  So, why is there this band, The Smile?

Let’s start with the drummer, co-founder of the jazz band, Sons of Kemet, Tom Skinner.  Why?  Well, considering he’s the only member who is not — Radiohead.  This is perhaps where the jazz, looseness of the sound of The Smile originates slightly from.  Although, when you’re huddled into a band of three, where Johnny Greenwood and Thom Yorke are the other two points on your sound triangle, you’ll have to elevate your game so as to not be a third wheel instead of a key point.  If Greenwood and Yorke felt trapped or embodied by their famous band, that seems like a tricky argument due to their ability to do whatever they seem to sound wise from album to album (as well as the time between some of them).  They can be harsh sounds, soft simple or elegant, as well as completely groovy.  Even if one of the members appears to be the driving, totalitarian force, the music fetches on all sides.  Here in the audio threesome of The Smile, the experimental and creativity is not in peril, nor is it overshadowed by any dominating force.  Ok, so, again, why this band, The Smile?

Let’s go to the production and studio, as we are again familiar with Sam Petts-Davies production, but this would be the only full album recorded at Abbey Road.  So, take into consideration the drummer (that avant-jazz man that he is) and the taste that Greenwood and Yorke had on The Bends (which they recorded some at Abbey Road), and maybe you come to grips that this album and band are about as intimately sound oriented as they can get away from their own shadow(s)?  What does that mean?!  The album is slow-fully immersive and aware of the space within Abbey Road.  So, it feels intentful in the production, including the orchestra (they had to be in the studio — place is huge).  This audio has space to levitate, it has slow, modern understated grooves that you won’t catch under casual listening, and it has the Thom Yorke signature lyrical one-of-a-kind weaving that can haunt when the song’s not disturbing in the least, or underhandedly deliver clever in the shadows and slipstreams of any instrumental fusion.

Wall of Eyes is a title I do not grasp, but we are all looking in, in wonderment again.  Our ears are wide open — maybe not on the first listen, but we know we’re in the midst of something creatively remarkable subtle.  It is a thorough soaking of ears, but not by means of professorship of prog-elongated material that takes hours to appreciate.  It’s still in my ear, and there’s more to explore within the depths of sounds captured, not only at the most famous studio in history, but by two of the most modern day famous musicians, as they are still trying to find a way to be more than a part of one of the greatest band in history.  The Smile, on their second record, might not be the right amount of distance to claim that victory — but for the music listener that’s been on this ride with these musicians, it is another accomplishment that puts them on parallel with that greatest band of all time.  You know whom I speak of.  Now, just think of those side projects from that band, and the critical reception and sounds. And, get back to me (because I’ll still be trying to separate — but I always always over-enjoy it all).

The Band

  • Jonny Greenwood – guitars, bass, piano, synthesisers, orchestral arrangements, cello
  • Tom Skinner – drums, synthesisers, percussion
  • Thom Yorke – voice, guitars, bass, piano, synthesisers
  • London Contemporary Orchestra

The Wall of Eyes Tracklisting

  1. Wall Of Eyes
  2. Teleharmonic
  3. Read The Room
  4. Under Our Pillows
  5. Friend Of A Friend
  6. I Quit
  7. Bending Hectic
  8. You Know Me!