David Bowie was a huge fan of The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. So much so that Bowie often tried to emulate Lou. The Lou Reed album TRANSFORMER, was also “produced” by David Bowie. The classic Velvet Underground song “White Light/White Heat” had been part of Bowie’s live repertoire since 1971. The Velvet Underground originally released the song in 1968 on their second album, White Light/White Heat. Bowie’s version wasn’t released officially until 1983, on the Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture soundtrack. Interestingly, Bowie’s version was supposed to be released on Pin Ups. Anyhow, enjoy David Bowie’s take on one of my all time favorite bands songs.
In 1967, The Velvet Underground released their seminal debut album. This album is said to have influenced everyone that bought it, to go out and start a band. On this album is the song “Heroin.” Written by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, this song tells a very dark and deep tale about the use of the drug. The version that most people are familiar with comes from the 1967 album but, there is another version that takes it further down the hole. The 1974 Lou Reed album Rock n Roll Animal, features a new take on the song. This version is almost double the length of the original and it’s a different take on the original. Lou Reed has often been misunderstood (more on that for another day) but, he’s the epitome of what an artist is. Anyways, this is one hell of an alternate version that should be heard and enjoyed.
Lou Reed- Heroin (from Rock n Roll Animal):
The Velvet Underground- Heroin (from The Velvet Underground & Nico):
There is truly something great about heavy bands that can add in the right amount of melody to their sound. Whether it’s rock, metal or whatever, it’s the melody that ties it all together. I’d like to introduce you to Alphamega. These gents have that perfect balance of heavy rock/metal with just the right helping of melody to complete their sound. Alphamega is made up of Adam Ryan (Vocals), Michael Muenzer (Guitar) and Chrissy Warner (Drums). Their first single “Lords Of The Flies” is melodic metal done right. The song has a catchy hook to it that is memorable without being over the top or cheesy. On the band’s site they have a quote that says “Beautiful things come from ugly places.” That couldn’t be more true about this band, as there is a positive and bright element about Alphamega that separates them from the pack. Look for more new music from Alphamega soon.
When I first heard Birds In Row’s new album, We Already Lost The World, I knew I had to go see them live. There is this electric energy about this record and a sense of urgency to it that really was compelling. It’s like that book you’re reading and can’t put down. So, the moment I saw they announced a Los Angeles date, I was going to have to be there.
Around 9:15 on a cool May evening, the crowd moved in closer to the stage, the three members of Birds In Row took the stage and then an ferocious explosion occurred. For the next 50 minutes, the intensity that radiated from the stage to the audience was astounding. Blasting through their album We Already Lost The World with songs like, “We Count So We Don’t Have To Listen,” “We vs Us,” “15-38,” “I Don’t Dance,” “Love Is Political,” “Remember Us Better Than We Are,” as well as “O’Dear,” and “You Me & The Violence,” showed that the punk spirit they inhabit is alive and well. These songs are more than just songs, they are anthems. This wasn’t just a show, it was an exercising of anger and frustration and a coming together of like minded people. Members B (guitar/vocals), Q (bass/vocals), and T (drums) are beyond tight and together as a band. They played off each others energy and absolutely crushed. As I mentioned above, the sense of urgency that they play with comes through in their performance. The songs live have a different vibe and really come to life.
Birds In Row are the type of band that take a chance and create something that is full of vigor and vision. The bands sound definitely blurs the lines of punk and hardcore but has a helping of melody to balance the aggression. They are definitely one of those bands that when they come through your town, you should run and go see. This performance last night is in the top 3 of the shows I’ve been to this year. I can’t wait for them to come back.
Those songs you heard back in the 90’s really have a lasting impression. At times I find myself randomly singing a part of some song from that time. One song that I can’t seem to get out of my head is “Low” by Cracker. The song from the bands 1993 album, Kerosene Hat, has become one of the 90’s most recognizable songs. The song itself is a catchy yet keeps with the alternative nature of the band. David Lowery’s voice is the perfect compliment to this song as well. The memorable video had singer David Lowery losing a boxing match to comedian/actress Sandra Bernhard. I still remember that video. The song has also been featured in countless films and TV Shows like Hindsight, Rectify, The Wolverine, and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (which on a personal note, is my favorite book and the film is pretty damn good as well). So take a moment and revisit this classic 90’s jam.
I know I keep going back to the 90’s but, it truly was a magical time. Just like the 60’s and 70’s for our parents (well most of ours), the 90’s was a revolution musically for a generation and then some. The sheer amount of groundbreaking and legendary albums from this time is astounding. The legacies that those bands have to this day are beyond what many of them ever expected and the influence and inspiration that those bands and albums have had on countless other bands, well, that’s the gift. There was a band that came out during this time, made up of three teenagers that really left a mark. That band was Silverchair and their debut album Frogstomp, was quite the exceptional record and one that, to this day, still excites people.
Recorded in 9 days in December 1994, Frogstomp would go on to put Silverchair on the map. At the time of recording, Daniel Johns (vocals/guitar), Ben Gillies (drums) and Chris Joannou (bass) were all 15 years old. John’s would later comment on the recording “The songwriting might not be genius, but I think sonically, the performances are really good. It’s really honest; it’s just three Australian kids thrashing it out in the studio and that’s exactly how it sounds.” I couldn’t agree more. Some critics wrote the band off as Nirvana/Pearl Jam wannabes but, they were not some flash in the pan copycat band. These kids had depth and substance to what they were writing. The song “Tomorrow” is a great example of the power and intensity they had. I will admit, when I first heard this song, I thought it was Pearl Jam but, after it was done and they announced who it was, I knew I had to go buy the album. Rolling Stone magazine’s David Fricke had said about the album “Truly shameless wanna-be’s like Bush should be so lucky to have the hard smarts that Silverchair – particularly the band’s main writers, singer-guitarist Daniel Johns and drummer Ben Gillies – show on such Frogstomp-ers as “Pure Massacre” and “Israel’s Son.” When these guys turn 18, they’ll really be dangerous.” Which is quite interesting because by the time they were 18/19, they had released Neon Ballroom, and that album is an Unsung Masterpiece.
Frogstomp is to this day one hell of an album. Everything from the songs, tones, style, grit, and so much more have made this an everlasting album. Songs like “Israel’s Son,” “Pure Massacre,” “Tomorrow,” Shade,” “Suicidal Dream,” “Findaway,” and “Leave Me Out” have stood the test of time and continue to influence and inspire. One of the songs that always grabbed me besides the ones above was the instrumental track “Madman.” The energy of this track is exhilarating and I’ve always wondered what the lyrics and vocals would have been for this song.
This album laid the groundwork for what was to come for this three piece. The strong songwriting ability of Johns along with the powerful tenacity of Gillies and Joannou made this band what it was. If it were anyone else, this band wouldn’t sound the way they did. Throughout their career, they would constantly push themselves to get better and mature. And they did with Freak Show, Neon Ballroom and Diorama. Their album Young Modern, was a strong departure from what the band once was but, it still showed how great of a band they were. Now, if only they would get back together and celebrate what they created, that would be amazing.
Old School is still one hell of a funny movie. I was watching it recently and made a note to include the scene with Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” as part of this topic. This scene is funny and shot very well, and the use of “Master of Puppets” is perfect.
There is something really interesting and creative happening with heavy music these days. Mixing genres and styles have made for some of the best new bands and albums in the past few years. Recently, I came across a band that has blended post-hardcore along with black metal with bits and pieces of ambiance and dream-pop. I’d like to bring your attention to Glassing. This three piece band hailing from Austin, Texas has released their second full length album, Spotted Horse, and it’s fucking rad. Glassing has created an album that is full on immersing with volume and magnitude as well as well thought out songs that bend genres. Listening to Glassing is a real experience. It’s equal parts experimental, heavy, disruptive and engulfing. I can imagine their live shows to be sonically bombastic, technical and full of energy (maybe even a bit of brutality) that radiates from the stage to the crowd. These guys have carved out a niche for their powerful sound and I’m quite interested to see where they continue to go.
Glassing- Spotted Horse:
Bush is back and it seems they have brought a “heavier” approach to their new music. Today the Gavin Rossdale fronted band released the song “Bullet Holes.” This track was co-written by Gavin and Tyler Bates (you might recognize him from his work with Marilyn Manson as well as his work on film scores like John Wick and Guardians of the Galaxy). “Bullet Holes” is also featured in the new John Wick film (John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum). This is definitely the sound that many older Bush fans have been waiting for. Bush plans to release their new album titled, The Mind Plays Tricks On You, this fall, and it features 4 songs co-written by Rossdale and Bates. In my personal opinion, after what Tyler Bates was able to do with Marilyn Manson on his The Pale Emperor album, I’m quite intrigued by what he can do with Gavin and Bush.
On August 9th, Slipknot will be releasing their new album “We Are Not Your Kind.” The first single “Unsainted” was released today along with a video directed by the bands M. Shawn Crahan (aka Clow,n, aka #6). Guitarist Jim Root has stated about the upcoming album “This is most time we’ve had to write a record, and work stuff out together. One of my inspirations this time around was those artists that recorded full length albums – not just songs. While the industry is moving toward singles, Slipknot wanted to make an album experience, front to back.” Interestingly, the previously released song “All Out Life” is not on the album.
01 – “Insert Coin”
02 – “Unsainted”
03 – “Birth Of The Cruel”
04 – “Death Because Of Death”
05 – “Nero Forte”
06 – “Critical Darling”
07 – “Liar’s Funeral”
08 – “Red Flag”
09 – “What’s Next”
10 – “Spiders”
11 – “Orphan”
12 – “My Pain”
13 – “Not Long For This World”
14 – “Solway Firth”