Saturday, July 25, 2015

White Lighter - "White Lighter"

White Lighter - White Lighter
2014, Northern

1. Swan
2. Son of Dawn
3. City Sailor
4. That's Right
5. Breath Cancer
6. Heavy
7. Omens
8. Hard Love
9. Make Fire
10. Spearhead

I found out about White Lighter quite by accident. I started listening to Mark Solomon's (The Crucified/Stavesacre) podcast, "Never Was" and was interested in the music he uses for the intros and transitions. Turns out it's his new band, White Lighter, which consists of Andy Pricket (The Prayer Chain) and Steve Dail (Project 86) - making it a veritable super group. It's definitely got a retro vibe to it. Some folks say it sounds a little like early Black Sabbath. However, having never heard any early Black Sabbath I can't say. However, Mark does sound a bit like Ozzy on these tracks. Not that that's a bad thing. It's not really metal either, it's got kind of a mellow swagger to it with great little riffs and infectious hooks and grooves. Take "Son of Dawn" for instance - a tune that will stay in your head for days. I'd also like to give kudos for the lyrics which are very well written... very meaningful and unique. This is definitely on my list for my top picks of 2015!

Useless Fact: As if this band didn't have enough star power behind it, Jason Martin (Starflyer 59) produced the album.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Let's Play stuff!

Hello everyone! I've started a new venture - I'm going to be a dork that plays video games on the internet. This is my first "test" Let's Play of Star Trek: TNG Pinball. Check it out. My very first full LP will be of Gargoyle's Quest for Game Boy. I hope to upload every Friday. I will still be doing music reviews for those two or three of you who actually read my reviews, so fear not!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Atomic Opera - "For Madmen Only (Twenty Years Later)"

Atomic Opera - For Madmen Only (Twenty Years Later)
1994/2014, Feverdream

1. Joyride
2. Justice
3. Achilles' Heel
4. I Know Better
5. All Fall Down
6. War Drum
7. Blackness
8. December
9. This Side of the Rainbow
10. New Dreams
Bonus Tracks:
11. Joyride II
12. Hammer
13. Magic Castle

Years ago I got ahold of Atomic Opera's debut album. I listened to it one time and wasn't too terribly impressed. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when, for some reason, I decided to check them out again and was very impressed. I don't know what changed between then and now but I really got into it this time. Atomic Opera is another Texas Sam Taylor band like King's X and Galactic Cowboys. And like those bands, incorporates heavy riffs with layered harmonies for a most bodacious effect. I guess I'm channeling my inner Bill & Ted now. Atomic Opera does seem to have their own sound despite the similarities. There's also kind of a melancholy here that King's X and the Cowboys didn't quite have until years later. I can't believe I didn't like this the first time around! This particular edition is digital only but does boast a few extra tracks. "Hammer" and "Magic Castle" fit quite nicely with the original material. Having another version of "Joyride" is okay but hardly essential.

Useless Fact: Atomic Opera put out two other albums that I'm aware of: Penguin Dust and Gospel Cola. Both of which I'm going to have to check out.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Beastie Boys - "Hello Nasty"

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
1998, Capitol

1. Super Disco Freakin'
2. The Move
3. Remote Control
4. Song For the Man
5. Just a Test
6. Body Movin'
7. Intergalactic
8. Sneakin' Out the Hospital
9. Putting Shame in Your Game
10. Flowin' Prose
11. And Me
12. Three MC's and One DJ
13. The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin')
14. Song For Junior
15. I Don't Know
16. The Negotiation Limerick File
17. Electrify
18. Picture This
19. Unite
20. Dedication
21. Dr. Lee, PhD
22. Instant Death

Hello Nasty continues in the vein of the B-Boys previous albums - infectious rap songs bundled together with experimental alternative tracks. They've gotten a bit more electronic here, eschewing the more organic sounds of Ill Communication and Check Your Head. I don't have a problem with this. The raps are still just as catchy as they always are. I will say that after listening to all these Beastie albums I definitely prefer it when they just write awesome rap songs instead of wandering into artsy-fartsy territory. Also, this disc is about three tracks too long. "Dedication" is really kind of boring. "Dr. Lee, PhD" is a rambling track with some guy pontificating over it. It's about as captivating as watching paint dry. Also, the closing track "Instant Death" is a similar snooze fest. This is probably why I really like To the 5 Boroughs... even though it's not a fan favorite. There's no garnish on that one. I really enjoy Hello Nasty despite my complaints.

Useless Fact: In the video for "Intergalactic" the band pays homage to Japanese Kaiju movies. They pilot a big robot and fight an evil monster. I know... everyone's seen that video but I'm not exactly a Beastie Boys expert yet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Taylor, Terry Scott - "Avocado Faultline"

Taylor, Terry Scott - Avocado Faultline
2000, Stunt

1. Cowboys With Engines
2. Startin' Monday
3. Capistrano Beach
4. Pie Hole
5. The Afternoon
6. Built Her a Cloud
7. Angels Must Smile Like That
8. With What I Should Have Said
9. Pretend I'm Elvis (For Just One Night)
10. Papa Danced On Olvera Street
11. Kind Word

Listening to Avocado Faultline after just having come off John Wayne was a bit of a gear shift. Whereas the latter album was raucous and loud, Faultline is more mellow. It's sort of a combination of country, folk, and Americana - a bit more like a Lost Dogs album perhaps. "Built Her a Cloud," the sole "rock" track could also have been a shoo-in for a Dogs disc. Surprisingly, I like some of the "country" songs the most, like "Cowboys With Engines" and "Pretend I'm Elvis (For Just One Night)." While I always enjoy whatever Uncle Terry has to bring to the table, I do have to be in the right mood for this one.

Useless Fact: Speaking of the Lost Dogs, they pretty much all show up on "Pretend I'm Elvis."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taylor, Terry Scott - "John Wayne"

Taylor, Terry Scott - John Wayne
1998, KMG

1. Writer's Block
2. Mr. Flutter
3. Too Many Angels
4. Boomtown
5. You Told Them Exactly What I Didn't Say
6. Big Shot & Miniature Girl
7. Ten Gallon Hat
8. Hey John Wayne
9. Chicken Crosses The Road
10. You Lay Down

I tried buying this awhile back but the webstore I used told me they didn't have it in stock! So... take two? I guess? John Wayne should be pretty comfortable listening to fans of Daniel Amos' Kalhoun, or Bibleland, or even Dig Here, Said the Angel. It's pretty straightforward alternative rock. That's not to downplay how good it is though. It's so good, guys. Tim Chandler's warbly wandering bass lines are all over this disc. The hooks are strong as well, especially on tracks like "Mr. Flutter" and "Boomtown." The disc veers over into some country-lite territory with "Ten Gallon Hat." This album has kind of a melancholy tone as a few of the songs seem to be about Taylor's lack of mainstream musical success. It's totally worth picking up.

Useless Fact: Terry Scott Taylor wrote the soundtracks for both The Neverhood, Skullmonkeys, and the upcoming Armikrog - games by Doug TenNapel. TenNapel also contributed some art to the liner notes.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Haken - "Visions"

Haken - Visions
2011, Sensory

1. Premonition
2. Nocturnal Conspiracy
3. Insomnia
4. The Mind's Eye
5. Portals
6. Shapeshifter
7. Deathless
8. Visions

My good buddy recommended I check out Visions as we both went nuts over the band's latest full-length album, The Mountain. So I bought it, because if he says I'll like it, chances are at least 98.9% that I will like it. Surprise! I really like it! It's actually a good deal heavier overall than The Mountain. Whereas the newest album falls a bit more on the "progressive rock" side of the spectrum, this one is more on the "metal" side. The shear amount of talent here boggles the mind. The bass playing is astounding and the sense of melody is captivating. Emotion just pours out of this music. Remember when I was just getting into Dream Theater? I have to say, Dream Theater sounds almost sterile and antiseptic compared to some of the stuff I've gotten into since then. Especially this. I think I might actually like this better than The Mountain. Though I don't know... I'd better listen to The Mountain again...

Useless Fact: This does seem to be a concept album about time travel, vampires, and murder, but I'm not exactly sure what the story is.