Month: January 2014

Band Of The Week: Open Hand


Open Hand, formed in 1998, and has been a highly underrated yet powerful band throughout their career. Their influences are scattered through the genres of rock though most can be found in the  post – hardcore music of the late nineties. Over time, Open Hand has  constantly combined genres and grew musically. Both their albums “The Dream” (2000 / Trustkill Records) and “You and Me” (2005 / Trustkill Records… co-produced by Open Hand & Paul Malinowski of Shiner) made serious impacts in the underground scenes. Extensive touring turned the rest of the world on to their live experience. It looked as though Open Hand were poised to break through. The group released “Honey” in 2010 on Anodyne Records after years on Trustkill Records. The record was co-produced by Open Hand & Hum frontman Matt Talbot, incorporated new styles and arrangements. Due to the label folding during Honey’s release, proper touring was put on hold. The band during this time  went from being a 7-piece, complete with back-up singers and keyboards, to a commanding power trio. As this new 3 piece, Open Hand released a 10 minute track titled “Mark of the Demon” in 2011 that encapsulates what has become of Open Hand. Now in 2014 sees the band ready to unleash new songs . Currently in pre-production is the long awaited follow-up to “Honey” The band are gearing up to release their upcoming album titled “Weirdo”

I’ve had the opportunity to see them live recently and Open Hand packs one hell of a punch. The new songs are great and translate wonderfully live. As a 3 piece they really have a full lush sound that blends perfectly into one another.

Open Hand is:

Justin Isham – vocals, guitar
Erik Valentine – bass, vocals
Ethan Novak – drums, vocals

Hard Night:

The Hand:

The Kaleidoscope:

By: Brian Lacy

2 For Tuesday and Underrated and Influential: Dredg

Bug Eyes:


Dredg are one of the most intriguing artistic bands that have come out in the last 15 years. Formed in the bay area in the mid 90’s, they found success as an independent band when they released their debut Leitmotif (their first concept record) in 1998. Shortly there after in 2001 Interscope records came calling and signed the band. El Cielo was released in 2002. The album was another concept record which was based upon sleep paralysis, a piece by Salvador Dali and was recorded mainly at Skywalker Ranch. Songs such as Sanzen, Same Ol Road, Triangle, and Sorry But It’s Over, really open your mind to a strange insightfulness. During that time Dredg toured with bands such as Deftones, Sparta, Glassjaw and Onesidezero. Their follow up Catch Without Arms was released  in 2005 and was produced by Terry Date (producer of Deftones, Pantera and many others). This album again had a concept about positives and negatives. Catch Without Arms featured some amazing songs that take you on a journey of heaviness and melody, all the while showcasing the tightness of the band. The songs Bug Eyes, Ode To The Sun, The Tanbark Is Hot Lava, and Jamais Vu really encapsulate the vibe of the concept. Not long after the cycle was complete, Dredg began working on their next album The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion another concept record based on an essay by Salman Rushdie. This record saw Dredg leave the major label machine of Interscope records. This record featured a more interstellar vibe all the while still rocking. Featuring the tracks Pariah, Lightswitch, Information, Savior and I Don’t Know all showcase why Dredg have never compromised their true nature of being artists. After a break Dredg returned to the studio to work on Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. This album was a departure from their previous efforts and focused more on an electronic tinge. Dan The Automator was behind the boards for this one, and it shows. There are quite a few standouts on this album such as Another Tribe, Down Without A Fight and The Though Of Losing You. All in all Dredg has always stuck to their guns and stuck with their artistic integrity. The members also are quite remarkable, Gavin Hayes has a silky smooth voice that caresses the lyrics and melodies. Dino Campanella plays the drums with such force it’s almost like he has a dozen arms when he plays. Mark Engles has such a clean guitar tone that really compliments the songs beautifully. Drew Roulette drives the rhythm home with his mighty touch of the bass.

Dredg has influenced quite a few newer bands over the last 5 years. They are also a band that should’ve been a lot bigger than they are, if only the label they were on marketed them properly.

Here is a full show from 2007:

By: Brian Lacy


There must be something in the water in Los Angeles as of late. An influx of great bands have been coming out and revitalizing the artistic integrity of playing honest music that is self gratifying ,but also has the ability to connect with many others. Enter LIGHTSYSYTEM. Comprised of John Kyle (drums), Danny Byrne (Vocals/Guitar), and Jason Greenly (Bass), they have taken the atmospheric art rock sound to another level. There are pulsating drums, thumping bass and shoe gaze guitars that are reminiscent of Isis and My Bloody Valentine. Vocally and lyrically they almost connect automatically. The whimsical nature of the soundscapes pull you in deeper and deeper. Their album Lost Language which came out in 2013 is quite an epic. Songs such as Plurals, Time and Shape and Mirrors really drive in the notion of being epic. There is something to watch out for here. Lightsystem have what it takes to pull you out of the dark and expand your mind.

By: Brian Lacy

A Second Look: DOWN (and 2 For Tuesday)


Many “supergroups” have come and gone. Some have been great while others were put together to capitalize on the members names. One group that has always stood out to me is Down. During it’s inception, Down was meant to be a side project for the members during their downtime while in Pantera, Corrosion Of Conformity, EyeHateGod, and Crowbar. Comprised of Philip H. Anselmo, Pepper Keenan, Jimmy Bower, Pat Bruders, and Bobby Landgraf, (Rex Brown and Kirk Windstein have since parted ways with the band to focus on other projects) these gents have put together a formula of righteous heaviness. A lot of people pronounce Pantera as the holy grail of heavy, but I’ve always though that Down was the better band. Sure I get a lot of flack for this opinion, but I stand by it. All you have to do is listen to the songs. There really is something special about the music that these guys made. Not to take anything away from Pantera, Down just has had more of an impact on me.

Their first album NOLA, is quite a classic in todays heavy rock circles. Songs such as Temptations Wings, Stone The Crow, Losing All, Jail, and Bury Me In Smoke, all portray such vulnerability and strength in the delivery of them. After NOLA was released and a few shows were played, Down was put on the back burner until 2001. When Down reconvened, they did so at Phil’s home and transformed his barn into a studio and wrote and recorded their next album Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow in 28 days. While the album wasn’t as solid as their debut, there are still quite a few gems on the album such as Ghosts Along The Mississippi, Learn From This Mistake, Beautifully Depressed, The Seed, and New Orleans Is A Dying Whore. In 2002 Down toured as part of Ozzfest, only to take another break soon after. Then again in 2006 they reformed in the wake of the travesty of Hurricane Katrina and the death of Dimebag Darrell. The result was Down III: Over The Under which proved to be every bit of what fans would expect the album to be. It’s raw and filled with anger, remorse, sadness, and hope. Quick side note it’s also the only of their albums not to have any profanity on it. The album features some truly great well written songs including The Path, On March The Saints, Beneath The Tides, In The Thrall Of It All and the epic Nothing In Return (which has become one of my favorite songs ever). In 2012, the release of part 1 of their 4 EP set was released. The Purple EP was a slight return to the raw unpolished sound of their original material. Misfortune Teller the closing track on the album really showcases this return.  Down are now gearing up to release part 2 this year.

Down has been able to wrangle themselves into quite the group. They are honest musicians that create music that satisfies the savage beast in all of us. They can write songs that are heavy as heavy can be but also can take you on an epic trip. If you’ve never really given Down a listen you should really sit back and enjoy what they have to offer.

Nothing In Return: I love listening to this song to end my evening after a night out or just when I’m coming home from work.

Bury Me In Smoke: Another great song to end the night to, also a great song to just listen to while driving with the windows down.

Why The Whisky A Go Go needs to GO GO AWAY!

The “Sunset Strip” is one of the most legendary places in Los Angeles. The musical history that surrounds the area is rich and full of greatness. Everyone knows the stories of The Doors, Motley Crue, Guns n Roses, etc. Everyone has dreams of playing at the venues up and down the strip. The sad thing is that today in 2014, there isn’t much left of the greatness that once was such a legendary place. There is no scene anymore, and venues are closing down. The Key Club and The Roxy are no longer open. All that is left is the Whisky and The Viper Room, and the little bit of nostalgia that you get from walking around the area.

I recently attended a show at the Whisky to see Fear Factory. In my mind I thought this will be great to see them again and at the Whisky of all places. I remember seeing them there back when their album Obsolete came out. Boy was I wrong. First off they were horrible live and Burton C. Bell couldn’t hit the notes. They seemed like a second rate version of what they used to be, holding on to what they once were thinking that they still had “it”

The main reason for this piece is to detail how downhill the Whisky has become. Nevermind the history of the place, plain and simple this place is a hole in the wall now. The exterior alone needs a drastic update. The people working the ticket booth are some of the laziest rude people ever. It’s 2014 people, it’s about time to start taking credit cards to buy tickets. Security wise, I understand the need to pat people down, but don’t grab my ass. If I wanted to get felt up I’d stay home with my lady. Once inside the stench of mold, sweat, and filth fills the room. The carpet has got to be so old they are afraid to rip it up and see what lies beneath. The layout downstairs doesn’t make any sense. Why have booths downstairs in an area that takes away from the standing room? The Roxy had a different area for that, same with the Key Club. They understood the need for continuity in the building. The bathrooms, are a travesty to all ends. The upstairs area is where the booths should be. Thus providing the “VIP” experience. Instead there are plastic chairs that you would find at your local Home Depot. Another aspect of the place is the crappy sound system. It looked like they updated the board, but not the speakers or the direction of how the sound travels.

One of the worst parts about the Whisky is the way they stack the lineup for the night. It makes no sense to have 6 bands on a bill before the main band of the night. Not to mention have them sell tickets at an outrageous amount just to cover their own cost. Pay to play is one of the biggest scams ever. The sad reality is that most of the bands that do this really aren’t that good at all. During the night that I was there, not one of the bands that opened for Fear Factory were good. They were so bad in fact that my friend and I left and went to a bar next door to wait out the time till Fear Factory went on (thank goodness for the rule of in’s and outs for those 21 and over). One of the other main things that is wrong about the venue is their lack of crowd control. First of all there was way too many people inside. It’s almost like they oversold the event. The way they handle the “pit” is non existent. Not everyone wants to be involved in it. While my friend and I were leaving mid set (due to Fear Factory being horrible) we had to walk through the pit instead of a clear walk way. Perhaps they should get someone in there and prevent the large people from hurting the other people in attendance.

Times they are a changing, and the Whisky needs to do the same or follow in the footsteps of the other venues that closed down. There is no need for any of what I just mentioned to happen. For a place that once was a spot that bands dreamed of playing at, they really let it go. How about really taking the time and care about your place and make it that way again. Otherwise shut your doors and walk away.


Since I wrote this article, I’ve been back to the Whisky for countless shows and they really have stepped up and worked to make this venue better. The sound system seems new(er) and the rate of speed between bands seems to be tighter. Sure there is still room for improvement but, they are getting their act together. This venue is historic and special and needs to be treated that way. A coat of paint inside and good pressure wash could do wonders for the place.

Band Of The Week: Ghost Idols


Ghost Idols was created in 2012 with the intention of creating a sonic experience of all their influences combined. As a trio, Ghost Idols have crafted quite the wall of sound. Taking cues from Hum, Failure, and I’d even say My Bloody Valentine, the music and lyrics combined, take the listener on quite an excursion of heaviness and melody. The song Shrines really captures the essence of the bands sound. Back in May of 2013, Ghost Idols released their self titled EP. It is 5 songs full of chunky riffs, bombastic drums and fuzzy bass, all the while blended ever so delightfully with vocals. Be on the lookout for Ghost Idols.

By: Brian Lacy