Instrumental bands are unique, in that they take you on a musical journey allowing you to make your own interpretation as to what the song is. Without lyrics to guide along, the listeners imagination is allowed to run wild. Which brings us to Barrows. Hailing from Los Angeles, this four piece band takes their brand of instrumental rock and throws in psychedelia, prog rock, and ambience to create a soundscape that is lush and full. The music is able to breathe and sways gently with the rhythms. The guitars are crisp and clear, even when the distortion is turned on. The bass simmers amongst the etherial sounds. The drums have a way of pulling you into each change with great emotion as certain parts are played harder than others. Barrows recently released their second album entitled Red Giant. The cover art is vibrant, just as the music that accompanies it. As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words.
Some bands have the ability to completely conquer a venue and make you forget that you are at a dingy place. Dekades did that for me. Their powerful set was a buildup of ambience to all out rock, playing songs off their EP 1.1 and then some. Singer/guitarist Arden Fisher has a voice that is amazing live as it on on record. She believes every word that is being sung and does it all very convincingly. The band themselves are very sound in their playing especially the energy coming from the drummer during their set. His facial expressions encompass his passion for playing and being in the band. The other guitarist and bass player were right in the pocket despite the strange conditions from the sound. The keyboard effects add to the already bombastic sound. Even with the venue being what it is, Dekades owned the night. One can only imagine the great things on the horizon for them.
By: Brian Lacy
Year Of The Rabbit was assembled and fronted by Ken Andrews of Failure fame. Soon after Ken stopped writing and performing music as ON, Andrews and ON’s drummer Tim Dow (formerly of Shiner) reached out to Dow’s friend Jeff Garber , and Solomon Snyder joined shortly thereafter. ON’s material had been created mostly by Andrews as a solo project, the harder-rocking sound of Year of the Rabbit is much closer to that of his previous band, Failure.
Their first release, the 2003 EP Hunted, was made available online only from outlets such as CD Baby, itunes, and the band themselves. The buzz from sales of the EP was enough to attract the attention of Elektra Records, who released their debut album shortly thereafter. Sadly as thing in the music business were in constant flux, Warner Music Company, was sold to a group of private investors, and many of the labels’ acts, including Year of the Rabbit, were dropped from their rosters. Two months later, Andrews declared on his official website that due to the shakeup at their label, the band had been put on indefinite hiatus.
The album itself though is a gem. This was as close as anyone who was a Failure fan was going to get to that vibe. The entire album is full of melody, hooks, and that signature tone, that so many guitarists have tried to duplicate. Lyrically this album is very deep and personal. There is not one ounce of filler either. Tracks like “Lie Down,” “Last Defense,” “Hunted,” and “Say Goodbye” are beyond stand out tracks. The instrumentation on here is simple and raw but with the right amount of polish to make it all shine through.
Though they released only one album, 10 years later this album still holds up, and sound like it fits in today more than ever. Ken Andrews was always ahead of his time it seems.
By: Brian Lacy
A bands first show can go one of two ways, it’s either a huge success or it just doesn’t hit the mark. For Sidewave, it hit the mark in a grand way. Singer/guitarist Phil Golyshko and band kicked off their set with one of their newest songs from their upcoming split with Anakin (a previously featured band here on the site). The set featured mostly songs from their most recent release “Big Time” featuring the songs “Honest To God” and “Sundrop”. The last song of the evening was a wonderful cover of Air’s “Playground Love” off the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. Sidewave’s brand of heavy shoe gaze and space rock, is loud and clean without missing a beat. Vocally, this band is in sync and comes across with great clarity. This first show is a sign of great things to come for Sidewave.
Also playing this night was Los Angeles based hard rock band Hidden Amongst Us (also previously featured here on the site). Their blend of hard rock with melodic vocals stirred up a high energy performance. Their set which featured songs off their recently released album, was powerful and melodic. Singer Evan Michael Mentone is a deep raspy yet clear voice which guides the songs along.
It was a great night for live music despite the dinginess at the Silverlake Lounge. It had been years since I last attended a show there, and I remember why I never went back. Looks like someone needs to up their game. If the bands can bring their A game why can’t the venue!
By: Brian Lacy
Heavy music has some of the most dedicated hard working people in the bands. The music is not necessarily accepted by the mainstream, but the fans of the genre are die hards. Mixing their love of Black Flag and Black Sabbath, Obliterations have an unrelenting sound of fury and destruction. They recently signed to Southern Lord Records and recorded their upcoming full length at Studio 606 (Dave Grohl’s studio). The band is made up of current/former members of Black Mountain, Saviors, Night Horse and Pink Mountaintops. Singer/Screamer Sam James Velde has a raspy yet take charge vocal style. Stephen McBean’s guitar playing is heavy and crunchy with a very clean style of playing. Austin Barber and Flo Schanze are an extremely tight rhythm section that can explode and play blisteringly fast or in the laid back pocket. Obliterations have released two EP’s so far. Both are in your face with their driving force. Their sound harkens back to the days of real hardcore punk and heavy rock. Obliterations is part of the solution to the junk that is mainstream!
By: Brian Lacy
Filter has always been an underrated band. Richard Patrick has one of the best voices in rock. You can feel every word he sings/screams. Their version of The Turtles song “Happy Together” was originally done in 2009 for a movie that I’m pretty sure no one saw. Then last year when the new version of The Great Gatsby was released, and Filter’s cover found new life.
By: Brian Lacy
Phil Anselmo has one of the most distinct voices in the heavy music community. He has lent his talents to a few bands over the years. Here are some of those.
Vision Of Disorder- By The River (From The Album: Imprint)
Iommi- Time Is Mine (From The Album: Iommi)
Anthrax- Killing Box (From The Album: Volume 8 The Threat Is Real)
Jarboe- Overthrown (From The Album: Mahakali)
By: Brian Lacy
30 years ago, Metallica stepped up their game following their debut album and released Ride The Lightning. The album was recorded in Denmark by Flemming Rasmussen, who would go on to produce their next two albums. Ride the Lightning is the last Metallica album to credit former guitarist Dave Mustaine, with co-writing any songs. He is credited on the title track, “Ride the Lightning”, and instrumental track “The Call of Ktulu.” Though only eight songs are on the album, the 47 minutes of sheer intensity is very prevalent. Starting off the album is “Fight Fire With Fire.” This song opens with a very classical melody then jumps right into the thrash madness. The title track “Ride The Lightning” balances the harmony of dueling guitars with a crunchy churning riff. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” has one of the best bass parts ever. This song is beyond recognizable and is still a crowd favorite at Metallica shows. Cliff Burton really shines on this song. “Fade To Black” wasn’t well received upon first listen, but this song really showcases the ability of the band to write great songs. The entire arrangement of the song from the melody, lyrics, and riffs are spectacular, not to mention the closing solo. “Trapped Under Ice” is a very underrated thrash song. The speed of the playing on this song is intense. “Escape” is a wildcard on the album. This song has a more melodic sensibility to it. Though it does show what kind of range James was starting to develop. “Creeping Death” is my personal favorite Metallica song, it was also the first song of their I learned to play, so there is some sentimental attachment to it. The riff on this track is heavy as hell. The interesting part of this song is the lyrics as they are all about the biblical exodus and the plagues of the Jews leaving Egypt. Closing out the album is the instrumental “The Call Of The Ktulu.” This song is epic, melodic, and heavy, all the things that Ride The Lightning represents.
Ride The Lightning was definitely a step in the right direction for Metallica. James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett really started to come into their own as a great guitar duo. Cliff Burton was a beast on the bass. Lars actually played with a passion. For many Master Of Puppets is considered their best album, I for one am in the minority in thinking that Ride The Lightning is. Not to take anything away from Master, I just have more of a connection to this album.
By: Brian Lacy
Often times when a band makes the jump from indie label to a major label, there is something in the music that is lost. Perhaps it’s the pressure or the fact that the label itself is trying to make the band something else. That was not the case in 2006 when Brand New released their spectacular album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. This album offered more in the way of contributions from the other members of the band. The title of the album was inspired by a friend of singer/guitarist Jesse Lacey who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This album also contains no filler. Starting off the album is “Sowing Season” which captures a raw emotional feel from the band. There is a definitely a 90’s feel to this song. “Millstone” is a song that continues the same raw emotion and also has very catchy sing a long type of chorus. The second single released was “Jesus Christ” is a mellow and quaint song. “Degausser” is another song that cradles the quiet/loud structure. The vocals on this song are powerful and pure. “Limousine” is nice mid tempo jam that features a very cool guitar solo. “You Won’t Know” is a true highlight of the album. The riff is punching and heavy. The vocal melody is aggressive without losing the melodic nature. “Welcome To Bangkok” is a great middle of the album segue. “Not The Sun” has a bit of a pop vibe to it but doesn’t lose their integrity that Brand New is known for. “Luca” has a similar vibe to The Mars Volta. This song is one of my personal favorites that the band has ever come up with. “The Archers Bows Have Broken” carries a melody that is akin to The Cure, and continues on with a pop vibe but adds an element of shoe gaze and feedback to dirty it up. Closing out the album is “Handcuffs” a very solemn and moody song that sums up the album in a great way.
Brand New are a very underrated band and great songwriters. They have the ability to connect with their personal attributes and storytelling. Musically they took many parts of the 90’s and mixed them with a sort of post hardcore structure. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside me is one of the best albums to come out in the last 10 years.
By: Brian Lacy
Rock N Roll was in full effect last night as two very talked about bands took the stage at the Roxy, England’s Royal Blood, and former Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk’s new band The Last Internationale.
Kicking the evening off was The Last Internationale. This female fronted three piece takes their love of 70’s rock and adds thought provoking lyrics that deal with more social issues. Singer/bassist Delilia Paz has a voice that is reminiscent of a cross between Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick. The dirty distorted bass lines that come from her side of the stage are commanding. Guitarist Edgey Pires plays with a more bluesy soulful approach that is lost amongst most guitarists today. Brad Wilk still has one of the tightest drum sounds around. His energy behind the kit is very noticeable. Their upcoming debut which was produced by Brendan O’Brien will be out in the next couple months.
Royal Blood is on the cusp of breaking out. This two piece band has more guts and gusto than other two pieces like The Black Keys and The White Stripes. Their music is loud, melodic and heavy. Vocally and lyrically they are steps ahead of those other bands mentioned. Starting their set with the song “Hole,” got the crowd into a frenzy of head bopping and dancing. “Come On Over” has a very Muse inspired riff all the while, a sort of sexy vibe to it. Newer songs from their upcoming full length sounded great, if not better than the songs already released. Closing out their set was their hit “Out Of The Black.” The crowd erupted when the drums for the song started. The more harder tinged songs really got the crowd worked up. My friend and I were left stunned by how good they were live. Having only released an EP so far, the people in the crowd knew all the words to those four songs.
The Last Internationale are a terrific band and put on a great live show as well. I’ve said it before and I stand by it Royal Blood is what The Black Keys would sound like if they had balls!
The Last Internationale: https://www.facebook.com/thelastinternationale
Live From Austin:
Royal Blood: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalBloodUK
Come On Over:
Figure It Out:
By: Brian Lacy