Saturday, January 24, 2015

Marmozets - "The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets"

Marmozets - The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets
2014, Roadrunner

1. Born Young and Free
2. Why Do You Hate Me?
3. Captivate You
4. Is It Horrible
5. Cover Up
6. Particle
7. Cry
8. Weird and Wonderful
9. Vibetech
10. Love You Good
11. Hit the Wave
12. Move, Shake, Hide
13. Back To You

A female-fronted alternative rock band has a tough row to hoe these days. Mainly because they are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere. It takes a lot for a band to differentiate itself from all the others out there. Marmozets does just that. They are another of my You Tube finds - "Move, Shake, Hide" was the song. It was so raw and chaotic, then balanced out on the chorus with a little Paramore-esque melody. Don't mistake me though, Marmozets has little in common with Paramore. The guitar work is way too technical. They've got some crazy time signatures and little riffs and fills that reminded me a little of Silent Earth-era Coheed and Cambria. Vocalst Becca MacIntyre has taken up some of that intensity that Lacey Sturm had in the early days of Flyleaf. Though Ms. MacIntyre goes right off the edge and it's so cool. Definitely looking forward to what this band does in the future.

Useless Fact: This band is British. They've been together since 2007. I honestly don't know that much about them.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Freak Kitchen - "Cooking With Pagans"

Freak Kitchen - Cooking With Pagans
2014, Laser's Edge

1. Professional Help
2. Freak of the Week
3. Sloppy
4. Goody Goody
5. (Saving Up For An) Anal Bleach
6. Private Property
7. Mathematics of Defeat
8. I Don't Want To Golf
9. Hide
10. Comeback to Come Back
11. Ranks of the Terrified
12. Once Upon a Time in Scandinaviastan

Here's the weird thing about Cooking With Pagans - I'm kind of disappointed with it, but there's technically nothing wrong with it. The guitar work and vocals are stellar. The songs are good. I really like "Mathematics of Defeat" and "Hide." However, I feel like I'd pretty much digested everything this album had to offer in a few listens. It felt light... like there's not enough meat on the chicken bone. I'm not sure what the deal is. It's probably me. Kudos to them for having one of the weirdest song titles I've heard: "(Saving Up For An) Anal Bleach."

Useless Fact: There's a video for "Freak of the Week" that has some stunning animation in it. You should go watch it immediately.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tourniquet/Ted Kirkpatrick - "Onward to Freedom"

Tourniquet/Ted Kirkpatrick - Onward To Freedom
2014, Pathogenic

1. Onward to Freedom Prelude
2. Onward to Freedom
3. The Slave Ring
4. The Noble Case For Mercy
5. Let the Wild Just Be Wild
6. No Soul
7. If I Had To Do the Killing
8. Virtual Embryo
9. Stereotaxic Atrocities
10. Animal Crossing at the Rainbow Bridge
11. Drowning in Air
12. Cage 23

Oh gosh... I'm almost hesitant to write this review. Why? Because Onward to Freedom just doesn't sit well with me. I can't tell if it's the rather overt and insistent vegan message or the fact that it seems like the songs just don't come together for me. Granted, the last Tourniquet disc took a few spins to really register but so far this one hasn't. It's sort of a mash-up of a Ted Kirkpatrick solo album and Tourniquet. Thankfully, it's not six minutes of an ape bellowing over doom metal chords. No, it's more in line with an actual Tourniquet release except it's got a lot of guest vocalists. These (the guest vocalists) were actually pretty enjoyable. It's always good to hear Dug Pinnick sing no matter the subject matter. Michael Sweet also turns in a fine performance. I'm not sure who Gabbie Rae is but her voice is melodic and sweet and very enjoyable.

Though... I don't know... it's not really progressive enough to be a real Tourniquet record. That's okay, by the way. But the fact that after several spins I still wasn't really captivated by any particular tune on here is very disappointing. I loved Antiseptic Bloodbath but Onward just... I don't know...

And about that message. I'm all for more compassion toward animals and what not. My family tends toward free range organic whatever. However, I get the distinct impression that if you found yourself lost in the woods and had to feed off the land, Mr. Kirkpatrick would just rather you go ahead and die instead of harming an innocent chipmunk or something. Should we just... like... never have anything to do with animals ever? That's kind of the vibe I get here. I guess that's my issue, I just get irritated when I listen to this and it gets in the way of the music... and the music didn't wow me enough to get me to listen more.

Useless Fact: This album used to be referred to as The Tourniquet Ark project. Then it was just Tourniquet. they had a really cool Noah's Ark cover for it until they changed it. The new cover was a big fat rhino running out of a tunnel. I'm glad they added the raven cover because I like that a lot better.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jupiter VI - "mOVEABLE wALLS"

2014, Roxx Productions

1. Sleepless End Pts. I - IV
2. Wasting Away
3. Running
4. A Face in the Sky
5. A Message From Home, Pt. I

Let's talk about Shovel Knight for a minute shall we? For those who don't know Shovel Knight is a video game - specifically a side scrolling platformer in the mold of an old 8-bit Nintendo game. It takes a lot of its design from games like Mega Man, Castlevania, and Super Mario Bros 3. The game wears its influences on its sleeve. It's quite obvious. But... man... is it a fantastic and fun game. It's got all the charm of the retro platformer (cool sprite graphics, addictive gameplay) without any of the punishing characteristics of some of those old tyme games.

I think Shovel Knight and mOVEABLE wALLS have a lot in common in that it's quite easy to see where the inspiration for each came from. This particular album has all the makings of Pink Floyd, specifically, Wish You Were Here - wherein three shorter tracts are sandwiched between two epics. From the opening thunderstorm crash and guitar swells you just know that Jimmy P. Brown is doing his best Floyd impression. Here's the thing though, while this album is obviously an attempt at Floyd... it's so good. The melodies are haunting. The guitar work is stellar. And even though these are longer, more progressive songs they always keep their focus and are never boring. Heck, I can't even say that for Pink Floyd! You can tell that Jimmy really put his heart into this record. Who knew he had this kind of... soul? Seriously, there is some soulful stuff on here. I have quite enjoyed Jimmy's foray into the world of progressive rock and if he chose to stay there for awhile it would not bother me a bit.

So I'm gonna go ahead and recommend you pick up mOVEABLE wALLS... also Shovel Knight. You should buy that too. Listen to Jupiter VI while you play the game and I guarantee you will have spent your time well.

Useless Fact: I think Jimmy actually completed a second Jupiter VI album called A Message From Home, Pt. 1 and even turned it in to Retroactive Records for release but they never put it out. I have no idea why. This album also has a special edition with an extra CD with some bonus tracks and cover tunes.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Favorite Albums of 2014

This year has been simply amazing for music. There was so much cool stuff that came out and so much cool stuff I found. I briefly considered reworking the format I normally use but decided against it. Just know that it was really hard to narrow it down to five. Hard. I even considered making one of the spots a tie. There are so many albums I feel like should be here… Amaranthe, Icon For Hire, Tom Petty… oh gosh, I’d better stop. I will never be able to play the whole “which albums would you need on a desert island” game. As always, my picks don’t necessarily include stuff that came out this year – it’s just stuff I discovered this year. Anyway, without further ado…

My Favorite Albums of 2014

Haken, The Mountain – There were two prog-rock albums that pretty much dominated the first few months of the year: Haken’s The Mountain and Maschine’s Rubidium. Both of them are just fantastic albums from start to finish. The only reason why Haken is here and not Maschine is because I flipped a coin. Literally. That’s the cold, clinical kind of analysis you can expect from me!

Xandria, Neverworld’s End – In my original review I called Xandria “Loreena McKennitt metal.” I still stand by that. This year I got into a lot of cool symphonic metal bands like Within Temptation and Epica. Their albums were great but Neverworld’s End was the one I went back to the most. I think it’s that Celtic flair. Xandria’s new album, Sacrificium, is good too but Neverworld’s End is better.

Tess Wiley, Little Secrets – This actually came out two years ago so I’m just hopping on this train. Oh my word, this is such a good record. I wish that radio stations would play more pop music like this instead of some of the insipid garbage they play now. It’s simple, catchy, fun, and most of all, genuine.

Weezer, Everything Will Be Alright In The End – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: welcome back, guys. Everything is exactly what we need to hear. It’s one of the few times where a band’s “we’re going back to our roots” claim is actually true. This album was actually written by the guys who wrote Blue and Pinkerton. It’s not perfect but I can say, without hesitation, that it is the best album since Pinkerton.

Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil, Goliath – I’ve already reviewed this one so I won’t say too much about it here. Actually, no I’m going to talk about it more. It’s so good, guys. I’ve been listening to it for weeks and I’m still not done. I just hope and pray they make more!

Honorable Mentions

Knifeworld, The Unraveling

Devin Townsend Project, Z2

Bigelf, Into the Maelstrom

Dissapointments of 2014

None! – That’s right! With everything I listened too this year I did not encounter a single album that I could describe as a “disappointment.” How awesome is that? Years like this are rare as latinum and I will always treasure 2014’s music offerings!

Best Reissue of 2014

Daniel Amos, Doppelganger – We had some pretty good classic Christian metal reissues from Roxx with Deliverance and Vengeance Rising. However, the Daniel Amos reissue really took the cake. It’s got a great remaster, great packaging, great liner notes, an extra disc packed full of demos and such. The original was long out of print and impossible to find for a reasonable amount of money so this edition is a blessing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil - "Goliath"

Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil - Goliath
2014, Splint Entertainment

1. Only a Ride
2. Double Negative
3. Goliath
4. Moonshot
5. Rubberneck
6. The Sympathy Vote
7. Standing In Line
8. In Layers
9. Happy Go Lazy
10. A Life Preserved
11. Comedian

The thing that surprises me about Goliath is not its high quality. With this group of guys I don't think there's any way this could have ended up anyway but excellent. No, I'm surprised by its brevity. The whole album clocks in at a mere thirty-nine minutes. Many of the songs are under three minutes. Yet in that short amount of time this band accomplishes more than most bands can in double. The songs feel complete and weighty and after several listens over two weeks I'm still thirsty for more. I'm also surprised at just how aggressive Goliath is. "Only a Ride," "Rubberneck," and "In Layers" will rock your face off. Age has not slowed down any of these guys one bit. Steve's trademark wit and satire is in full force but the lyrics are a bit more vague, more akin to Chagall Guevara than his solo stuff. I think once the band is done doing this album they plan to go back to their day jobs. I would implore them not to. Please make more albums. Please. 

Useless Fact: Peter Furler from Newsboys plays the drums. I have very intense negative feelings toward the Newsboys but as it turns out Mr. Furler is a pretty good musician. Maybe I'll have to give the Newsboys a second chance. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

McKennitt, Loreena - "A Midwinter Night's Dream"

McKennitt, Loreena - A Midwinter Night's Dream
2008, Quinlan Road

1. The Holly & The Ivy
2. Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle
3. The Seven Rejoices of Mary
4. Noel Nouvelet!
5. Good King Wenceslas
6. Coventry Carol
7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
8. Snow
9. Breton Carol
10. Seeds of Love
11. Gloucestershire Wassail
12. Emmanuel
13. In the Bleak Midwinter

This disc has been on my "Christmas wish list" for a long time. Loreena McKennitt and Christmas music go together like peanut butter and chocolate. One think I like about this album is that it's not full of the same stuff you've heard a million times. There are some recognizable tunes, for sure, but there are a lot of different songs you don't often hear. I've never heard "The Seven Rejoices of Mary" but it's one of my favorite tracks. Also, while you do hear the first verse of "Good King Wenceslas" often enough in movies and television, people don't usually sing the whole song. I quite like this song as well. Basically, if you're a fan of Ms. McKennitt's music you're going to want this album for all your holiday rituals.

Useless Fact: Some songs on this album first appeared on a little Christmas EP called A Winter Garden.