Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost Dogs - "Mutt"

Lost Dogs - Mutt
2004, Fools of the World

1. If You Want To
2. The Lust, The Flesh, & The Pride of Life
3. Like a Cloud
4. Grace is the Smell of Rain
5. Sunshine Down
6. To Cover You
7. It's So Sad
8. Ain't Gonna Fight It
9. Beautiful Scandalous Night
10. I'm Setting You Free (But I'm Not Letting You Go)

So I've been on a bit of a Lost Dogs kick if you couldn't tell. Mutt is basically a cover album. The Dogs cover songs from each other's bands. Does it work? Abso-friggin'-lutely. I really didn't go into this album expecting much but I came out with that much more appreciation for the songwriting talents of Terry, Derri, and Mike. I have to say that it really made me appreciate the 77's songs more because I've never been a huge fan for some reason. Naturally this makes me want to check out some more 77's. This is a quiet acoustic album not unlike Nazarene Crying Towel but I think I liked this one better simply because I was more familiar with the songs and enjoyed the arrangements. I can't say that they completely top the originals, but they are great versions that stand side by side with them. I'm starting to think that I'm going to have to take back every bad thing I said about the band's post-Gene work because I've ended up really liking it.

Useless Fact: The only new song on this album is the closer "I'm Setting You Free (But I'm Not Letting You Go)" which is about Steve Hindalong watching his daughter go to college. This naturally made me think about when my 9-week old Alexis inevitably goes off to college and turned me into a blubbery mess. So thanks for that, Steve.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Music Musings: 5 Underrated Drummers

The title says it all. Here are five drummers that I think are underrated for one reason or another. Basically when the subject of "awesome drummers" comes up these five names are seldom (read: never) spoken, which is a shame. I will endeavor to remedy that now.

5. Jerry Gaskill (King's X) - King's X probably makes more "underrated" lists than just about any other band I know. Jerry's never been a huge "technical" player. He doesn't need some 100-piece set, he's just a wonderfully consistent drummer. He lets the guitar and bass do what they do in the song and adding his own little flair when appropriate. He's number 5 because he's probably the most recognizable name on the list which makes him less underrated than others.

4. Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend Band/Devin Townsend Project) - I can tell whenever Devin hires this guy to play drums because the drums aren't just background anymore. He's phenomenal! He's just all over the place with fills and is a monster with the double bass. I like it when drummers have their own style and character. He's number 4 because I think he's still young yet and could very well become "un" underrated if he hooks up with the right people. Though hooking up with Devin Townsend is a pretty good start.

3. Chris Hyde (Deliverance, Vengeance Rising) - I'll tell you what impressed me about Chris Hyde. I was listening to (or I should say slogging through) the third Vengeance Rising album, Destruction Comes. It's not very good. The production is muddy the songs aren't that great. However, as I was listening my attention started drifting to the drums. They really made that CD just a bit more enjoyable. If the guy can fight through all of Roger Martinez's craziness, overcome that album's terribleness, and make me smile while listening to the single worst Vengeance disc, I think he deserves to be on this list.

2. Steve Hindalong (The Choir, Lost Dogs) - Steve's another drummer who's not necessarily a "technical" player. You won't here mind boggling solos or double bass or triplets or blast beats, but that's okay. He's got his own unique style that comes through on whatever record he's on. It sounds like he uses brushes and those sticks that are little sticks wrapped up together (I don't know what the technical term is - drummers feel free to educate me) and it lends to his peculiar sound. Not to mention that I think he'll use just about anything that makes noise to drum on. I suppose using the term "sloppy" to describe someone's drumming style wouldn't be considered a compliment, but in this case it is.

1. Jayson Sherlock (Mortification, Horde, Paramaecium) - If anyone asked me who my absolute favorite drummer of all time is, it's Jayson Sherlock. The Mortification debut is a great example of his skill. Sure he can play fast, sure he can do double bass, but he's got this flair that brings the drums right out front and center with the rest of the instruments. He uses the bass drum, toms, and cymbals like an artist uses color and brings vibrancy to death metal. It's never just pounding away as fast as his hands can pound - he is an artist. His drumming truly brought something unique and interesting to those early Mortification albums. He's number one on this list because I think he is truly an underrated drummer in every sense of the word. I also think he doesn't quite get as much recognition because he's usually playing death metal.

So there you have it. 5 Underrated Drummers. In the future I'll be featuring other underrated musicians in bass, guitar, and vocals. Let me know if you have any nominations for those areas!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lost Dogs - "Old Angel"

Lost Dogs - Old Angel
2010, Fools of the World

1. Israelites & Oakies
2. Dancin' on the Devil's Elbow
3. Turn It Around
4. The Glory Road
5. America's Main Street
6. Traveling Mercies
7. Dust in My Bowl
8. Pearl Moon
9. The World Is Against Us
10. Wicked Guns
11. Goodbye Winslow
12. Desert Flowers
13. Dead End Diner
14. Carry Me
15. Old Angel

In a just world Old Angel would be a high profile release. The Dogs would be on the covers of magazines and you'd be able to run on down to Walmart to get their newest release. Sadly, with the sorry state of the Christian Music Industry, Old Angel, will struggle in obscurity. It's sad because it's probably their finest release to date, but in a way I'm okay with that. Old Angel is way too good for the Christian Music Industry anyway. They would have taken the concept and either destroyed it before it was born or turned it into fluffy feux-evangelistic nonsense. Fans know that this disc is the result of a road trip taken by the Dogs in 2008 in an endeavor to follow the old historic Route 66 for no other reason that it might be fun to do so. The result is fifteen (er... maybe fourteen) finely crafted songs all about that Glory Road.

The band replaces most of the genuine country influences embedded in the Lost Cabin disc with a bit more folk and alt-rock. There aren't any truly "country" songs here which I can't really say hurts my feelings any. "Israelites & Oakies" much like "Broken Like Brooklyn" start the disc on a somewhat quiet, mellow note. Of course it picks up with "Dancin' on the Devil's Elbow" - a folksy romp that showcases Steve Hindalong's saw-playing skills. You heard right - saw playing. Old Angel also includes an arrangement of the Daniel Amos song "The Glory Road" - a song which appeared on the Songs of the Heart disc in which Route 66 played a pretty big part as well. The song sounds a lot better when it's sung as opposed to the talky version of the original. I wasn't too impressed with "America's Main Street" which recalls the rock-a-billy swagger of Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." The song just didn't work for me with the talking and the sloppy blues riff. It's like the album takes a break from being excellent. Of course we get the beautiful ballad, "Travelling Mercies" afterward so it's all good. "Wicked Guns" is a hard rocker written by Hindalong about Wild Bill Hickock. Other tunes lament the tragedies of those in the Hooverville camp in 1932. My personal favorite is "Dead End Diner." Usually I don't say "monster hook" when talking about the Lost Dogs, but if you don't like that song and find yourself singing it regularly then you, my friend, don't like music.

Now I think I'm going to pay this disc the biggest compliment I can give it. It threatens to replace Little Red Riding Hood as my favorite Dogs disc. And if it doesn't replace it, it's certainly an easy second.

Useless Fact: Both the disc and the DVD were supposed to be released simultaneously but since the DVD isn't ready yet, the band released the album anyway so we all wouldn't lose our minds during the wait. Nice of 'em I think.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lost Dogs - "The Lost Cabin and the Mystery Trees"

Lost Dogs - The Lost Cabin and the Mystery Trees
2006, Fools of the World

1. Broken Like Brooklyn
2. Devil's Elbow
3. The Lost Cabin and the Mystery Trees
4. Whispering Memories
5. One More Day
6. This Business is Goin' Down
7. Hardening My Heart
8. Only One Bum in Corona Del Mar
9. Get Me Ready
10. Burn It Up
11. That's Where Jesus Is

After Gene's unfortunate passing I lost interest in the Dogs. Part of the reason was because I had gotten out of music all together and the other is because...well... I just missed Gene too much. I never thought the Dogs' output was as good. Sure I can listen to Nazarene Crying Towel every now and then, but it's not one of my favorites. However, I'm happy to say that the Dogs have truly been reborn with Lost Cabin. Steve Hindalong, drummer for The Choir, joins the fold as a full-fledged dog and it's nice to have his eccentric drumming style backing up the band. As for the songs... they're wonderful. It's one of the few albums I've listened to all the way through and then immediately wanted to listen to again. While I still cringe a little at the weepy steel guitar in some of the "countrier" songs, the songs are strong enough that it doesn't bother me as much. I think mainly because it's not accompanied by some redneck whining. Anyway, probably the only song I don't care for is "One More Day." It's the only song penned by Mike Roe and I don't really have a good reason for not liking it as it's not a bad song - I just get bored with it. I really like the melancholy "Broken Like Brooklyn," the silly "Only One Bum in Corona Del Mar," and "Burn It Up." The latter sounds like a genuine song from The Choir (not surprising since it was written by Derri and Steve). I'm happy to say that the Lost Dogs are back and I'm glad I took a chance on 'em!

Useless Fact: The title of the album and the song are based off of a legend about some cabin under which a cache of gold was supposedly buried.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Music Musings: A CD Hunter's Guide

I miss the old days. Granted, that's not much of a surprise. After all, this entire website is mostly constructed with nostalgia. One of those things I miss about the old days? CDs. Not CDs being for sale, but going to a store and finding several discs that I wanted and only having money for one. It's one of those feelings that's agonizing but totally fun at the same time.

These days I have to buy online for the most part. There's a few mainstream releases that I like to pick up (as evidenced by my last few posts) but there is NOWHERE to find obscure stuff anymore. Have you been in your local Christian store? Good luck finding the latest CD from the Lost Dogs or the 77's. Interested in Retroactive Records stuff? Hope you like buying online.

There's still hope though. That's what this edition of Music Musings is about - where to find CDs. Good ones. I'm going to go through a few CD hunting methods and give them an arbitrary rating that I will think of off the cuff.

1. Christian Music Stores - This used to be my "go-to" place for music but as I've gotten older and the Christian music industry has changed I don't find anything there anymore. And unless you like the "flavor-of-the-month" in terms of music you won't either. Chain stores like Lifeway and Family Christian Stores will occasionally have some lost gem for cheap, and I do mean occasionally but for the most part they stock music like Walmart - extremely current. It's understandable - Christian music is such a niche market they have to stay current to make any money. Though I'm pretty sure that when I went into stores back in the day they'd have more than just the current album of a certain band. Your only real luck will be through mom & pop outfits that aren't constrained by a corporate system. Rating: "O How the Mighty Have Fallen" Award for being awesome and then totally sucking.

2. Pawn Shops - Pawn shops are a pretty mixed bag and depend mostly on your location. If you live in a bigger city with a good music scene you'll find better stuff. I used to live in Ft. Wayne, IN and they had a large church-going population as well as a thriving music scene. I found a TON of good stuff in the pawn shops there (Daniel Amos' Motorcycle and the Choir's Diamonds and Rain were among my many finds). Now that I live in Nowhere, Georgia the pickings are slim as there's only three styles of music down here: country, southern gospel, and Lynard Skynard. I still go in them every now and then but never find anything exept the same sun-bleached copies of Enigma that were there a year ago. Rating: "Amazing" Award for how you can find cool stuff in one shop then bupkiss in another.

3. Goodwill - Goodwill is actually worth looking into. Even where I live I've found several discs that would have been good finds had I not owned them already. Also in Lexington, KY where I popped into a Goodwill while visiting in-laws, even they had good stuff. So if you've got a Goodwill in town head down there and check out their wares. You may be shocked and happy at what you find! Rating: "The Rifleman" Award for being surprisingly cool.

4. Chain Stores - I'm talking about the FYEs and the Sam Goody's of the world. I used to be able to find the odd gem here and there (did I mention I found Now the Truth Can Be Told for $4? Yeah... I think I did) but in the last couple years they've stopped taking stuff they can't sell right away. If that CD doesn't come up in their system they won't buy it. Which means people can't get rid of just anything anymore. Which means the chances of you finding a copy of Vengeance Rising's Human Sacrifice is about slim to none. It's worth looking once to see if something is still there but once you've seen what they've got they're not getting anything new.
Rating: "Children of Time" award for being slavishly devoted to what's current and "cool."

5. - Amazon has been my main provider for just about everything. You can find some pretty good stuff for CHEAP! You have access to sellers that are willing to sell just about anything. The only downside is that if you want a mint copy of The Swirling Eddies Let's Spin you're going to have to pay for it... but at least they have it. Also, you don't get the experience of being in a store and checking out all the new stuff which I always think is half the fun. But still... Amazon remains my go-to place for music.
Rating: "Restore My Soul" Award for helping me collect so much cool music over the years.

6. E-bay - I used to use Ebay a lot but haven't bothered with it in forever. The main reason? I can usually find what I want on Amazon and don't have to worry about being outbid or having the price balloon up to some absurd amount. Rating: "Terrible Mystery" award for the people who list CDs for hundreds of dollars. C'mon people... they're just CDs.

7. CD Trading Websites - and Music are dang near useless. If you sign up you'll get some decent discs right off the jump but it will slow to a trickle and dry up soon. See here's the problem: people want GOOD CDs and they don't want BAD CDs. What does this mean for you? It means there's a million people wanting to get rid of their Hit Me Baby One More Time dust collectors, but few wanting to give up their Alarmas or Doppelgangers. Rating: "Yellow-Haired Monkeys" Award for being a silly idea in the first place.

These aren't the only places to get stuff. If you're lucky enough to have a used CD shop in your town make sure you kiss the owner on the lips and then buy lots of stuff. Those shops are a dying breed and once they're gone they NEVER come back. You can also find music on sites like Rad Rockers or Divine Metal Distro which usually carry the always-awesome Retroactive stuff.

Finally, I've been wondering how long it will be before music goes completely digital. My 15-year old niece has tons of music but doesn't own one single disc. Everything is digital on Itunes. It won't be long before you won't own ANYTHING at all. You'll pay ten dollars to sort of have permission to listen to music that you downloaded. As much as I'm for advances in technology and how they can help musicians, the digital movement, in my opinion will be a way for record companies to charge something for nothing. But that's another column for another time...