If you aren’t familiar with Author & Punisher (aka Tristan Shone) you must be living under a rock. Author & Punisher is a one man band formed in January 2004 by mechanical engineer and artist Tristan Shone. Most of the instrumentation and controllers he uses, entitled “Drone Machines” and “Dub Machines”, are custom designed and fabricated by Shone from raw materials and open source electronic circuitry. Since the inception of this project, Tristan has released 8 studio albums (9 counting the new one Kruller). By mixing industrial music and doom metal, Tristan has conjured up a sound that not only is impactful but also thought provoking. Having seen this live a few times, I can honestly say that you need to see it live to full embrace the impact the music has. On his new album, two songs have been released so far “Drone Carrying Dread” and “Maiden Star” both of which are absolute bangers but with a new sense of melody that brings out the influence and inspiration of bands like New Order and Depeche Mode. February 11 will see the release of this epic album!
This is very exciting. Meshuggah have finally announced the release date for their long awaited new album. On April 1st, Immutable is released to the world. The first single from the album “The Abysmal Eye” is one hell of a track. I don’t think I need to go into all the vibes you get from this track as it’s MESHUGGAH and you know damn well what you are gonna get, a total onslaught of heavy!
Remember when Coachella was still a good festival to attend? When the lineup was something you saw and were in awe? Yeah, I remember that too. One of the ones I remember most and was at was in 2008. When the lineup was announced I was zoned in on one band in particular, Portishead. This would be their first live shows in over 10 years and I was determined to be there. When it was time for Portishead to take the stage the crowd frenzy was stirring and the excitement was astounding. For the next hour or so, Portishead ran through a set that encompassed their previous 2 albums as well as their newest album, Third (which features my second favorite Portishead song, “The Rip.”). Witnessing Portishead live is an experience all on its own and one that I highly recommend. Also, I have a bootleg of this set that is straight from the soundboard that almost rivals the Roseland Ballroom show in 1998.
Portishead- Live At Coachella 2008:
01) Silence 02) Mysterons 03) The Rip 04) Glory Box 05) Wandering Star 06) Machine Gun 07) Over 08) Sour Times 09) Cowboys 10) Threads 11) Roads 12) We Carry On
Back in late 1997 there was a song on the radio that you couldn’t escape. The song would go on to crack the Billboard top 40 chart (peaking at number 4) and was number 1 on the modern rock charts for a record 15 weeks (later broken by Nickelback). The song I’m referring to is “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground. It’s a very quirky, weird song that while simplistic is super catchy too. The song has some very interesting history too. This was the bands only “hit.” The song was so successful that for a while it had it’s own accountant. In a strange turn, the head of radio promotion of the bands label felt that the song actually hurt the bands career and MTV News even called the song a “career killer” making them a one hit wonder in the end. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Singer John Wozniak has even said he was pleased that the track “became a quintessential ’90s moment.” And it has remained a constant on 90’s playlists and soundtracks. Marcy Playground is still out there playing shows and releasing new material with “Sex and Candy” being a huge staple of the live set.
Radiohead is one of those bands that are truly awesome. Their evolution as a band has been one of the most interesting to listen to and watch happen. The Bends will always be my favorite album of theirs but, 2000’s Kid A is a very close second. That album is one of the best since the change of the century and ever! Not only is it a fantastic album it also has my all time favorite Radiohead song on it, “How To Disappear Completely.” This song is so beautiful and haunting. I still remember the first time I heard Kid A and when it got to this song, I immediately had to put it on again. It’s one of those songs that just has all the right elements and arrangements, plus where it was placed in the sequence of the album is something else too. “How To Disappear Completely” is one of those songs too that isn’t played live too often (only 188 times since Kid A was released according to Setlist.fm) but, when it is, the crowd truly listens and lets the song take over. Singer Thom Yorke has said that this song is “the most beautiful thing we’ve done.” An interesting tidbit about this song, guitarist Jonny Greenwood is the only one in the band with music theory training and According to longtime producer/collaborator Nigel Godrich, when the band heard Greenwood’s score “they all just sort of burst into giggles, because they couldn’t do what he’d written, because it was impossible – or impossible for them, anyway.” Needless to say they figured it out and it became one of the most epic songs they would play live.
Radiohead- How To Disappear Completely (Live 2001):
This is a fun topic to get into. I listen to a ton of music on a constant basis but, there are always certain albums or songs that just stay with me and I’m compelled to continuously keep them in rotation. Being that we are only a few weeks into 2022, I still have a few albums and songs that have remained in constant play. So here’s a few albums and songs that I can’t stop listening to!
01) Centershift- My Own World (Single):
This song is tremendous. It’s the right amount of melodic rock that I dig. The accompanying video for this song is stunning and really captures the essence of the song. Definitely give this song a few spins and check out Centershift at their upcoming shows.
02) Quicksand- Colossus (Live Version):
The moment I heard this song from Quicksand’s new album, I was hooked. This song is so damn good. The riffs and rhythms along with the vocals/lyrics are superb. I had the pleasure of seeing Quicksand live a couple months back and they absolitely rocked the Troubadour. Plus having Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Old Man Gloom, Mutoid Man, etc) on tour with them as their second guitarist and hearing him play on these new/old songs was out of this world amazing! If you haven’t heard the new Quicksand album, you should get on that!
03) Sparta- Air (Live Version):
I still remember when the debut Sparta album Wiretap Scars came out. I remember putting the album on and letting it play. A couple songs into it and then I dead stopped and started the song that just ended again. I was in total awe. That song was “Air” and it hit me at the right time. This is a perfect example of a great song with great dynamics. I remember too seeing them live back when this album came out in 2002/2003 and when they played this song live, oh my! Listen and you’ll see why almost 20 years later this song is still a gem!
04) Jane’s Addiction- Three Days (Live Version 1998 w/ Flea on Bass):
A friend of mine has been looking to expand his musical palate and I’ve been recommending bands for him to delve deep into. One of the ones I suggested was Jane’s Addiction. Naturally, I went back into the Jane’s catalog a bit too but more on the side of demos and live versions. One of my favorite eras of the band was around their Relapse reunion and Kettle Whistle album release. During this time Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers joined Jane’s for a tour and he was awesome with them. The first time I saw Jane’s was around this time and it’s forever been stuck in my head. Enjoy this one!!
05) Blink 182 with Robert Smith of The Cure- All Of This:
The other day I had a song stuck in my head but just the music and I couldn’t figure out who it was. fast forward a few hours later and I figured it out. The end result was a killer collaboration between Robert Smith of The Cure and Blink 182. On the latter’s untitled 2003 album there is a track on it called “All Of This” and it’s so damn good. Hearing this song back in 2003 was what made me buy their album. Actually, the untitled album is a great album and the best thing Blink ever did! This song is one of those that you will want to put on repeat for sure.
2022 is already getting off to a good start with new music. This week a ton of new songs have been released that deserve your attention and here they all are! New tunes from Stabbing Westward, Ghost, The Halo Effect (ex In Flames), Matt Heafy’s Black Metal Project IBARKAKI, Centershift, Grumpy Plum, Sound and Shape, Taryn Hadfield and Alphamega
Stabbing Westward- Ghost:
Ghost- Call Me Little Sunshine:
The Halo Effect- Feel What I Believe:
IBARAKI (Matt Heafy of Trivium and Ihsahn of Emperor)- Tamashii No Houkai:
Billy Corgan is truly one of the best songwriters of all time (you can argue with me if you want but, you will lose). One thing I do want to point out is what an underrated guitar player he is. In the past few years I’ve done a huge deep dive into every Smashing Pumpkins album and b-side and it’s astounding that he’s never been truly recognized for his playing. From Gish all the way to CYR, there’s a choice solo on each album and then some. One of the ones I’ve always loved is the solo on “Cherub Rock” from Siamese Dream. It’s a simple solo but it is so perfect with the song. The guitar tone and the effects on the song is another bit that makes it great. Interestingly, “Cherub Rock” was one of the last songs written for Siamese Dream. The prominent effect part of the solo was by recorded to two different tapes which were then run simultaneously, with the speed of one tape slightly altered. It’s such a fitting part of the song and live, it’s even better! Take moment and appreciate this great song and tremendous playing!
This topic about track one songs is quite fun and interesting. The first song on album more often than not sets the tone for what is to come and on this particular song, it does just that. On the debut album by Drive Like Jehu, they not only kicked open the door with “Caress” but they made damn sure that the impact from the track would sonically blow you away. This is one of those songs that is often copied but can never be truly duplicated. The intensity, subject matter, tonality, production and performances on “Caress” as well as the whole album is astounding. On a side note too, “Caress” was covered by Deftones and released as a b-side on their Diamond Eyes album.
If you are like me and grew up in Southern California, there is a good chance you might have stopped by the legendary Cobalt Cafe at some point to see a show. For those of you that don’t know, The Cobalt Cafe was a little club in the San Fernando Valley and was around for over 20 years. It was an all ages venue and it was a staple in the area not just for bands to get a placeto play but many of your favorites over the years got their start on that stage like Incubus, Hoobastank, Jimmy Eat World, A.F.I., Linkin Park and Avenged Sevenfold to name a few. The Cobalt is back in a whole new way and bringing the fun vibes from back in the day to today!
The 31st Anniversary was a two day event that featured bands from The Cobalt’s past as well as up and coming new bands as well as a couple new bands featuring members that have played at The Cobalt in its heyday. Night one took place at Corbin Bowl and featured the bands Speed Of Light, The Moon Rocks, The Scuba Kids, and Angelo Moore aka Dr. Madd Vibe of Fishbone. Kicking off the night was up and comers Speed Of Light. This three piece band made up of siblings are ferocious and killer. Not only did they get the energy and crowd going, their set reminded me of being back at The Cobalt and discovering a great new band for the first time. Their hard charging punk rock energy definitely set the tone and made everyone in the venue look up and pay attention. Be on the look out for this band! Next up was Dr. Madd Vibe and his saxophone and introspective poetry. Listening to Angelo speak was very interesting. When you consider where the world is at today and you hear the words he was saying, you could definitely take something away from what was said and apply it to society today. Following that was The Scuba Kids. Their infectous ska/punk set was an absolute blast to watch. This was also the bands first show in over 6 years and it’s like they never lost a beat. I will admit I’m not much of a ska guy but, I do love a good ska show as fun as their set was. The Scuba Kids were one of the bands from back in the old school Cobalt days and they really made it a fun step back in time. Closing out the night was The Moon Rocks. Just like Speed Of Light, be on the look out for this band when they are playing shows. Not only do they rock but they absolutely kill! There’s a real sense of urgency and passion in the songs and performances of the three members of The Moon Rocks. They are one of the best bands in the Los Angeles area and it shows! What a great first night to kick things off!
Night two was just as fun if not more than night one. Just like on night one, this night was filled with bands from the past and present of The Cobalt featuring the reunion of Lava Diva, Centershift, Seven 40 Seven, Madam Bombs and Powder Pink and Sweet. The Federal in North Hollywood was on fire as every band that played brought the goods and slayed! First up for the night was dream pop/shoegaze band Powder Pink and Sweet. Their charming set got the night started off tremendously. Their songs have a very awesome 90’s alternative vibe mixed with a bit of an 80’s goth tinge a la Siouxie and The Banshees or The Cure. Next up was the explosive and electric Madam Bombs. These girls absolutely kick ass. Playing as a three piece this evening they took no prisoners and left the audience in awe. Their set was mixed with originals (which are killer) and covers that they have made their own including a cover of The Rolling Stone’s “Paint It Black,” which is now the only way I can listen to that song now. As I mentioned above about Speed Of Light and The Moon Rocks, Madam Bombs need to be on your radar as well!! Following the Madam Bombs is no easy task but, fellow Cobalt alumni Seven 40 Seven brought their rock to the stage and did just that rocked it! If you are looking for a really fun and good time rock band to see, Seven 40 Seven is that band for you. It was a pleasure to watch these guys love what they do on stage and it shows. Next up was a quick set by Dr. Madd Vibe and he delivered an inquisitive set as he set the table for Centershift to take the stage. My homies in Centershift just released their new single and video for their song “My Own World.” Check it out when you get a moment! It’s worth noting that Centershift singer/guitarist Jasan Radford (formerly of Onesidezero/Abloom) is also a Cobalt alum as he was instrumental in starting one of the first open mic nights at The Cobalt. Playing songs from their upcoming debut album, Centershift’s brand of melodic rock mixed with a bit of a post hardcore vibe makes for one hell of a fun set. Closing out the night was Lava Diva. If you don’t know, Lava Diva was a trio from about 1992 to 2002. The band is/was made up of Dawn Frinta on guitar/vocals, Johnny-G (Gianna Sabella) on bass and on drums/percussion was Greg Bernath. It’s been a minute since the three of them have been on stage together and it’s like they never left. Without missing a beat they tore threw their set as though it was back in the bands heyday, complete with the crowd not leaving and demanding one more song at the end.
What a great celebration for The Cobalt Cafe and its legacy. As I mentioned, The Cobalt is back in a whole new way. Instead of having a set venue, Cobalt nights are coming to venues all across Southern California. Every person that attended these shows left with a smile on their face and some new Cobalt memories. Bringing together the new and older generations at shows like this is truly awesome. It’s a bit like passing the torch to the new school in a total good way. Do yourself a favor and check out all the bands that played and make a point to come out to the next Cobalt show (Friday February 4th at Corbin Bowl)!!!