Over the last few years, there has been a surge of instrumental bands that have changed the landscape of what you can do without vocals. Certain bands have come to the forefront of that and have released seminal albums that have a lasting impact. Caspian, is one of those bands. Through their career, they’ve released a wide spectrum of albums that have reached the heights of cinematic and grandiose rock with an accompaniment of thunderous rhythms and riffs galore that would can shatter glass. It’s been 5 years since their last album, the very highly regarded, Dust and Disquiet. Now, Caspian have unleashed one hell of an epic album with On Circles that, is one of the most captivating of their career. There’s an intimacy on this album that comes out more and more as you listen, while at the same time, there’s an immediacy to it that drives you to tune in closer and closer. On Circles, is Caspian at a creative height and pushing themselves to step out of their comfort zone even more, for example, on closing song “Circles On Circles,” guitarist Phillip Jamieson adds vocals to this very introspective song.
Hands down, Caspian have released the first great album of 2020. This album is definitely going to be talked about through the whole year, as it should be. It covers a wide range of elements the band has become known for and touches on new ground that doesn’t feel out of reach for their capabilities. Caspian are back and ready to set sail on one hell of a journey with this album.
Ever since I heard Wiretap Scars by Sparta, I’ve been hooked. As much as I dug on At The Drive-In, I loved Sparta more. Well, now Sparta is back and getting ready to release a new album, Trust The River (to be released April 10). The first song released, “Believe” is quite an uplifting and promising song. It sort of has a vibe that harks back to their second album Porcelain. Either way, I’m stoked on having a new Sparta album and tour dates as well! 2020 is sure shaping up to be a pretty damn good year for new albums already.
Sparta Tour Dates:
04/23 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
04/24 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
04/25 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
04/29 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
04/30 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
05/01 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
05/02 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
05/03 Somerville, MA – ONCE Ballroom
Pearl Jam will release their long awaited new album, Gigaton, on March 27 2020. The first song released from said album is “Dance Of The Clairvoyants.” It’s quite a departure from the Pearl Jam you are used to. This song is quite experimental for the band. It’s got a cool Talking Heads vibe to it along with a tinge of ambience a la Brian Eno. I have a feeling that this song live will be a pretty stellar track.
Clint Lowery of Sevendust is gearing up to release his debut solo album God Bless The Renegades next year (January 31st to be exact). This is the first release he’s put out under his own name. His other solo related projects all had names attached to them be it Hello Demons, Meet Skeletons (which is pretty damn awesome) as well as Call Me No One (the band he started with Morgan Rose of Sevendust). On this album though, it’s all Clint, with the exception of the drums, which were played by Wolfgang Van Halen. So far, two songs have been released from the album, “Kings” and the title track “God Bless The Renegades.” These songs share a bit of the similarities you’d find in Sevendust but, it’s a bit of a departure from that style. Instead, it’s more rock driven but, full of melody. Clint to me has always been the secret weapon in Sevendust, and on this release, he gets to spread his wings a bit more and experiment with things that normally you wouldn’t find on a Sevendust album.
35 Years ago, before Ministry became what we all know them to be know, they were a very cool synth pop/new wave band. In 1984 they released the song “(Everyday) Is Halloween.” For many, many years though, that song went unplayed until late 2018, when Al brought it out of retirement at a Los Angeles stop on tour, accompanied by Dave Navarro. Well after that happened, there seemed to be a resurgence of people listening to the song and clamoring for more of it. So, here we are and now, Al along with Dave have released a new acoustic version of the song and, it’s quite a great version. Enjoy!
Ministry- Everyday Is Halloween (featuring Dave Navarro):
There are bands that come around every so often that are truly inspiring and remarkable. More often than not, these bands never get the due they deserve because of the genre they are a part of as well as not playing by the generic norm of the industry. And that’s what makes heavy music truly great. There are no rules to abide by and there are no compromises when it comes to making the type of music and albums these bands want to make. There’s a band from Orange County, CA, that have been carving their own path for some time and with the release of their new album, they have cemented themselves as torchbearers for a genre and have set a standard for what’s to come from this style of music.
Reverie of the Revolving Diamond by Seizures, is an album that is truly outstanding and genre defining. The ability this band has to mix metal, jazz, punk, atmospheric sounds as well as deep and poetic lyrics is something that should not be overlooked by anyone. The instant that the first song “Mazarine” begins, you are immediately drawn into the soundscapes and almost psychedelic undertones. “The Cycles Unnumbered” unleashes a fury of off time playful chaos and delicate jazz scales directly into the rush of blood to your head of “In A Valley Of Twilit Meres.” “Toxophola” is one of the more experimental songs on the album but still maintains the ferociousness that resonates through the entire album. This song also features Keith Barney (of Eighteen Visions/ex Throwdown). “The Ponds You Dried Yet Still You Stare” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It has everything I love about this band all wrapped in one song. Listen and you’ll hear why. “Atollian” continues to expand upon the atmospheric undertones of the album and keeps it tasty as a sweet transition right into the decimating “Of Indigo and Seven Crows.” “Severnaya” provides a really cool interesting vibe as it serves as an entry into “Bedlam Blues” which is the most straight forward song on the album but not in the way that defers from the spastic nature of the album. “On Saturine Shores” is another moving interlude of sorts. These little atmospheric jazz breaks in between songs give the album and listener a breath in between sonic assaults. Closing out the album is “Eru” and this song is epic and like “The Ponds…” this too has a bit of everything that Seizures has to offer and then some.
Seizures have released an album that stands up with the best albums as their contemporaries and the ones that inspired and influenced them. They have a sound and style that is ferocious and brutal yet delicate and oddly soothing. Reverie of the Revolving Diamond is an album for today as much as Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan was 20 years ago. The band live is a whole other beast as well. I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing them once but, they truly left a mark on me and I’ve been anticipating this album since I saw Seizures. Do yourself a favor and take a chance on something that might (well it probably is) out of your comfort zone and discover what this band has to offer. This album is definitely in my top ten of the year as well.
In 2017, Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. That album was quite exquisite and it brought life back into Liam along with his legendary voice. Now, here we are a couple years later and Liam has released a new album Why Me? Why Not. This record picks up where the debut left off but, on this one, it gets a bit deeper and more expressive. There’s a nice layer of nostalgia to the album but, it doesn’t rely on it to make it’s point. Instead it’s an album that covers many things from being introspective to what the future holds. The songs and especially Liam’s vocals really draw you in just as the classic Oasis albums did.
The album starts off with a great rock song in “Shockwave.” It’s a very in your face track that will sure be a stellar live song. It’s also got a lot of attitude to it that propels the album as well. “One Of Us” is very blatantly about his brother Noel. It’s also one of the most profound songs Liam has ever sung. There’s a particularly great dig at Noel in the song when Liam sings “You said we’d live forever/Who do you think you’re kiddin’?” a nod to the Definitely Maybe track. That part is so striking. Even the video is stunning. “Once” is another very powerful song that will get all your feelings going as you listen. It’s a very retrospective song that no doubt will have people wanting to reach for their Oasis albums. “Now That I Found You” is a very heartfelt song to his daughter that is full of great melodies. “Halo” is a really solid song that also helps to bring the album back up to a more up tempo beat. “Why Me? Why Not” is a very Liam does John Lennon-esque song. It’s a very sincere and humbling track. One that should be celebrated as a rebirth of sorts for Liam. “Be Still” (which is my favorite song on the album as of this writing) is an edgy rock song that, if played live will be huge. It’s also a soaring song with lyrics and melodies that really help to make this a stand out. “Alright Now” is another song that is pretty deep and chock full of maturity that a young Liam would probably snicker at. “Meadow” is a bit of a solemn song with a sense of optimism and hope to it. The organ and guitars have this cool swell to them which helps to make this song have a cool swing to it that makes it sort of psychedelic. “The River” is another huge song on the album. It’s got a bit of an anthemic feel to it to go along with a later 60’s vibe. This is another one that live will be stellar. Closing the album out is “Gone.” This song feels like it takes on a message of what the whole album is about. There is still a bit of attitude and swagger to it while at the same time it’s almost like a coming to terms with life type of song.
Why Me? Why Not is one hell of an album. It’s honest, pure and humbling. Liam has even said he’s not much of a songwriter so, with the help of Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, they have helped to make sure Liam’s words and voice are put on a pedestal and celebrated as each song plays. This isn’t Oasis by any means but, these songs have the ability to stand up with a slew of the classic songs from that era. There is obviously a throwback of sorts to Oasis and the past but, this album doesn’t live there. It’s modern and feels inspired while keeping true to who Liam is not just as a person but as a singer, lyricist, and the rock star that he is. Why Me? Why Not is the perfect name for this album. It’s everything you’d want to hear from Liam and then some. He’s still got the charm and rasp that made him a star to begin with only now, he’s more mature and can see the error of his way. As You Were and Why Me? Why Not can stand up against anything Liam has done in his career and look back on with delight. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this album, you won’t regret it.