In the age of the internet releasing new singles, collaborations, mix-tapes and even full albums can be done in minutes – giving fans the music they so ravenously desire without having to leave the comfort of their couches. Despite the World Wide Web taking precedence in every genre of music – it seems as though old-school viral marketing may still be viable.
Hosted over Memorial Day Weekend was one of underground hip-hop’s biggest yearly events – the Soundset Festival – a gathering of more than 30 of the industry’s biggest names all in one place. The brainchild of Rhymesayers Entertainment since 2008, the festival draws tens of thousands of fans from across the globe.
While the most exciting part of the festival is always going to be the music, it is also a perfect opportunity for the Rhymesayers label to drop some hints on upcoming releases.
Originally posted by Reddit use “diablodow,” it seems as though the great MF Doom will be back with his first release since 2014’s “NehruvianDoom” with Bishop Nehru. Handed out at the Soundset Festival was a booklet featuring an image with the caption “COMING SOON.”
On that booklet is a sketch of a man who appears to be a mix of MF Doom and Dem Atlas, another artist signed to the Rhymesayers label. While Doom’s iconic mask is in the forefront of the sketch, there seems to be dreadlocks (Dem Atlas) doming out of the back. Additionally, scrawled on the front are the words “MF Dem,” though it is quite hard to make out.
While the appearance doesn’t indicate for sure the collaboration is happening, it does seem somewhat likely. While discussing the festival on a recent edition of “Sway in the Morning,” Dem Atlas answered some questions regarding his current projects.
The 23-year-old rapper said that he had “several” projects that he was working on at the time, any of which could be a potential collaboration with MF Doom.
“Actually sooner than later,” he said when asked when to expect his releases, “some cool s**t to look forward to this summer, that’s for sure.”
Will Dem Atlas be joining the huge list of artists who have put out amazing albums with the great MF Doom?
We hope so.
Minneapolis, Minn. based rapper-producer Kyle Smith, better known by his stage name Cecil Otter, hasn’t released any solo material since putting out his debut full length-album, “Rebel Yellow” in 2008. That changed recently when Cecil released a new single, “Cross Countries” via Doomtree Records.
While Cecil may not be a well known name in his own right, the musical mastermind has had his hand, ear and musical styling in several releases in the past several years. Most noticeable among his work is his participation in rap collective, Doomtree, of which he is a founding member. Doomtree most recently released “All Hands” last year.
Outside of Doomtree, Cecil rose to fame as one half of the mash up duo, Wugazi, the other member being Swiss And. Wugazi was a remix project combining the raps of Wu-Tang Clan with the sounds of Fugazi. The project went instantly viral and garnered strong feedback from both national music publications as well as several prominent figures in the industry.
While “Cross Countries” is Cecil’s most experimental style yet, there is a haunting callback to the sounds of “Rebel Yellow,” while still showing how a near-decade of time has changed the Minnesota rapper.
Beginning on a note of familiarity, the song quickly expands past its acoustic foundation, all layered over Cecil’s calm, yet anxious rhythmic lines. Transitioning into an indie-rock vibe, there is no rush in the music, the only break coming past the two-minute mark for a brief interlude.
Though Cecil has been a part of several music projects over the past several years, the release of his own upcoming album, “Porcelain Revolver” has been a point of much anticipation for many in the underground community. While “Cross Countries” is more than likely an indication that “Porcelain Revolver” is coming soon – all we can do is hope.
Check out “Cross Countries”
During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine about the 40th anniversary of rock band KISS’ fourth studio album, “Destroyer,” bassist Gene Simmons shared his feelings with the current state of affairs of the music pop charts, and the industry in general.
"I am looking forward to the death of rap," he said. "I'm looking forward to music coming back to lyrics and melody, instead of just talking. A song, as far as I'm concerned, is by definition lyric and melody … or just melody."
Simmons didn’t end there, he foretold of the genre’s demise.
“Rap will die,” he continued. “Next year, ten years from now, at some point, and then something else will come along. And all that is good and healthy."
So, will rock and roll come to the rescue? Simmons doesn’t think so. He said that, in his opinion, rock was dead – having stagnated years ago. He said that no “new” bands are out there. He referenced bands like the Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Pearl Jam being examples of the last rock bands.
Have no fear for as earlier quoted, Simmons does not believe that rap is the end of all music.
"As far as I'm concerned,” he said, “if Lady Gaga dropped the disco and the pole dancing and all that stuff and put together a rock band, that would be legitimate, because she's got the musical goods. She can write songs, play instruments and can actually sing. And she understands the fearless quality of spectacle. I'd love to see her do Queen-style music. She can do it. Madonna cannot."
Simmons didn’t reserve his distaste for rap; several other artists from Jennifer Lopez to Shakira also fell within his distaste for being dishonest with their fans and singing on backing tracks.
Not all modern music displeases Simmons, though; he did express some appreciation for EDM (electronic dance music).
“EDM is honest,” he said. “EDM says, 'Here's a guy onstage who does f--k-all, he does nothing. He presses a button and puts his hands up in the air. He doesn't pretend to be lip-syncing to a track.' He has a light show and it's an honest relationship.”
While Simmons’ opinion on rap music seems harsh, is it all that surprising that the 66-year-old bassist from a metal band formed in 1973 feels that way?
Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled unmastered” released earlier this month, a surprise from the Compton, Calif. native, and the album instantly set the hip hop world on fire. While many instantly compared the collection of B-sides and unfinished experiments to Kanye West’s earlier release of “Life of Pablo,” K-Dot has once again shown that he is indeed sitting on the throne.
Whether the tracks are comprised of banter between artists, outtakes or different versions of songs from last year’s award winning “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar has cemented his place as one of modern rap’s most influential and talented minds.
Each of the songs on the album lacks an official title, only the dates it was seemingly recorded on. Songs like “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013.” had already been performed live on “The Colbert Show,” while others had been heard by audiences at live venues or on other television shows.
While the album is better approached at a B-side, Lamar by no means holds back. One of the most amazing aspects of the album is Lamar’s range of vocal manipulations. Whether electronically altered or not, he truly showed off his musical gifts through the range of vocal performance.
More than just a musical success from an artist who has nothing to prove (looking at Kanye), “untitled unmastered” has also proven to be a success on the Billboard charts.
According to the Billboard’s data, the album debuted at No. 1 on the top-200 chart, earning 178,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 10, according to Nielsen Music. Of that total, 142,000 were in pure album sales.
The album, released March 4, also marks Lamar’s second chart-topping release in less than a year. “To Pimp a Butterfly,” released March 16, last year, debuted at an astounding 363,000 equivalent album units in its first week, of which 324,000 were in pure album sales.
“untitled unmastered” was released to digital retailers and streaming services through Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Records. A physical CD release followed on March 11, while an edited version is due out March 18.
For an album of leftovers, “untitled unmastered” is a must-have for any hip hop head.
Lemmy is dead. Those are word I can BOTH not believe I am writing and am shocked that I have not written before. Lemmy, the lead singer and bassist for Motorhead and before that Hawkwind, seemed both invincible and feeble at the same time. Think a badder, bolder version of Keith Richards.
Lemmy was, well Lemmy. Ian “Lemmy” Killmeister was a legend as much for his persona as his music. He looked as much like a hit man from central casting as he did a rock star, and he would probably prefer it that way. Despite writing some amazing rock songs, he was still the old guy playing video games at the Rainbow in Los Angeles.
In many ways both Hawkwind and Motorhead are better known by their reputation than their music. Hawkwind was one of the earliest space rock bands, forming during the dying embers of the 1960’s and Lemmy joined as bassist in the early 70’s and only spent a few years in the band before a drug arrest led to his firing and the formation of Motorhead.
Motorhead was a power trio and while they sum up a lot of what is great about heavy metal, they are really a hard rock band with punk and metal tendencies, though in reality they predated both genres. They were, in many ways, the forefathers of thrash, speed metal and crossover, but Lemmy did not want to claim his offspring. He influenced metal heads, got along with the punks and at the end of the day he just considered them a rock band.
They looked like bikers and utterly lacked pretention. If you bought a Motorhead record you knew what you were going to get. You’d get fast guitars, sweet riffs, bombastic drums and Lemmy's trademark voice which sounds as if he topped the obvious years of booze and butts with a healthy habit of gargling broken glass.
This was ugly music, played by ugly guys, which was the perfect soundtrack for a night of dive bars and questionable decisions.
There were no ballads, no concept albums, no 20 minute epics. As NME once said, their guitar solos were just long enough “to open another bottle of beer.”
Their music was a black denim vest and a scuffed pair of cowboy boots with silver toe tips. This music was a shiny black Cadillac with ripped interior and a busted headlight.
The music was not complicated, but neither was Lemmy. He liked his stiff drink, his cigarettes and his black cowboy hat with the crossed sabers. When he was not on the road, he could be found nursing a drink (drinks) and a smoke at the same corner spot of the Rainbow. He lived around the corner with his books and his German military memorabilia.
I won’t pretend that Motorhead was my favorite band, but I dare you to listen to “Ace of Spades” and tell me it is not one of the best rock songs of all time.
Motorhead will always have a special a special place in my heart. For years “Ace of Spades” was my unofficial theme song before I did radio interviews and I pretty much have made it my Las Vegas theme song for the past decade and a half.
Or maybe we should just let Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters fame say it best, “Lemmy's a living, breathing, drinking and snorting f- - -ing legend. No one else comes close.”
Last week former Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver front man Scott Weiland was found dead in his tour bus. Sadly, this came to the surprise of no one. Few musical artists had their battles with addiction so well chronicled. Those who did, Amy Winehouse, Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain come to mind, are dead.
When he was at his best, he was a rock star for the masses, but he let his pretension and “artistry” get in the way of rocking out. Had he decided to be the alternative/grunge era’s Foreigner, we all would have been better off.
He would take this as a compliment, even thought it is not, but STP were the 1990’s version of the Doors. A band better when they were just a straight ahead rock band. “Crackerman” was their “Roadhouse Blues”, “Sex Type Thing: their “Break on Through.” Poetry and pretention be damned.
Like the Morrison and the Doors, he thought himself to be more an artist and less a rocker. As his career progressed, he tried to distance himself from his post-grunge roots and the music suffered. Oh, the critics like the later STP albums, but Core and Purple were the superior records.
What STP’s debut album “Core” lacked in originality it made up for in groove and strong songs. Sure, they were one of the first bands to find inspiration in Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, but they wrote great songs. From the opening, distorted vocals on “Dead & Bloated” to the final, melancholy moments “Where the River Flows,” Weiland delivers a fantastic vocal performance on a fantastic album. “Sex Type Thing” and “Crackerman” are hard rock classics, “Plush” is a near perfect power ballad, that strangely got labeled a Pearl Jam rip-off, though it sound little or anything like a Pearl Jam song.
Their follow-up “Purple” was nearly as strong, though more and more of Weiland’s pretention crept into the lyrics.
“Vasoline” and “Unglued” showed they could still rock, while “Big Empty” was the perfect sequel to “Plush” and “Interstate Love Song” would become an alternative rock staple.
The rest of their discography would see Weiland trying to escape the tag of “grunge imitators.” They would embrace more glam and psychedelic sounds. They saw a little more critical acclaim, but each subsequent record would see less and less popularity.
Eventually the band seemed to tire of his constant battles with addiction and they separated. Although they would go on to release one more record together the past 15 years have been more about Weiland’s solo records and two-album stint in Velvet Revolver, which also led to his dismissal.
He was the consummate rock star, but he was also the rock star cliché of a life of excess. Every interviewed feature the cigarette and the outlandish clothes. He looked the part, a chameleon who could go from glam rock to GQ in one concert. Leather pants or the fur coat. Bowie or T-Rex or Sunset Strip he could pull it off.
But of course, any mention of Scott Weiland was the mention of drugs. Whether it was the heroin of the 90’s or the cocaine that was found in the tour bus, he was synonymous with his demons. As his former band members wrote in an open letter following his death “part of that gift, was part of your curse.”
It is impossible to ignore the demons, but the best way to remember him is during his finest moment. A young, healthy looking Weiland singing an acoustic version of “Plush” on MTV. That should have been his lasting moment, but alas, it is not.
Some shows just give you more bang for your buck and that was the case last Monday night when Clutch, Mastodon and Corrosion of Conformity played the rialto. While none of the bands have enjoyed long term, mainstream success, all three are legitimate headliners with terrific core followings.
Ironically enough, opener C.O.C. has probably had the most mainstream success, but have the most varied history. The band has morphed a lot over the years, but returned with their best known line-up featuring Pepper Keenan on vocals and the bulk of their set was played from their later, southern rock influenced albums. The crowd was into it from the start, but really got into the final three songs, “Vote With a Bullet”, “Albatross” and an extended, spaced out version of “Clean My Wounds.”
There were early mic troubles for co-vocalist Brett Hinds, but that did not slow down Mastodon. The hard to peg band from Georgia usually gets billed as progressive metal and they certainly showed off their chops. The heaviest band on the bill, they also had the most energetic stage show and arena worthy lighting and lasers.
Last time through Arizona they seemed to avoid playing the more melodic songs of their last two albums, but this time out they did not shy away from the sing along choruses of “The Motherload” or “Ember City.”
While primary vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders does not talk much with the crowd, he is the most animated of an already energetic band. Looking like the cross between a possessed wizard and a back woods preacher, he was in constant motion, whether it was aping the moves of a 80’s hair band, staring at people in the crowd or marching in place like the drum major of the Manson family.
Clutch’s on-stage energy comes from manic front man Neil Fallon, who often times channels his inner tent revivalist preacher.
The set list was a bit curious as they dipped to older albums on three occasions, and while they spent the rest of the night was spent on their latest records, they skipped some personal favorites that seem perfect for the live setting (D.C. Sound Attack and Noble Savage specifically) but the fans did not seem to care much.
The 1-2 punch of “X-Ray Visions” and “Firebirds” off the latest “Psychic Warfare” got the show started and fans did not miss a beat, singing along to “Crucial Velocity” and “Cyborg Betty” off of 2013’s “Earth Rocker.”
New track “Sucker for the Witch” had the live impact that it hinted to on record. They showed they could slow things down on the dreamy “Spacegrass” and the somber “Our Lady of Electric Light.”
The band ha been playing either “Regulator” or “Electric Worry” as art of the encore, but not both, despite both being among their biggest songs in the mainstream. “Regulator” was featured in an episode of Walking Dead, while “Electric Worry” was the soundtrack to a video game commercial a few years back. This night they chose the bluesy “Regulator”, a haunting song of jealousy and revenge, much to the chagrin of the three drunk fans next to me who were “amped up” to sing along with arguably the band’s catchiest chorus.
“The Mob Goes Wild” was the second song off the band’s “Blast Tyrant” record and after the slower “Regulator” it got the crowd back rocking out. With a full moon and Halloween on the horizon, the band ended the night with the fitting “The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…”
Veteran hard rock/stoner rock band Clutch will bring their well-honed concert chops to the Rialto on Monday night. The band had not played Tucson in quite some time, but came through town in support of their last record and return less than two years later.
Drummer JP Gaster says that the band is likely to go through Phoenix on one leg of a tour and then hit Tucson on another leg. In this case they played Phoenix over the summer but hit Tucson in support of their new record “Psychic Warfare”
The band switches up the set list every night but are playing a good chunk of the new record as well as a solid slab off of 2013’s “Earth Rocker.” The set list changes a bit each night because each band member crafts the set list each night.
“We each take turns writing the set list,” said Gaster.
For the most part each show opens with X-Ray Visions and Firebirds, the first two cuts off of “Psychic Warfare” after that things have been different from show to show.
The band is known for their live shows, they bring great energy and Gaster fees the new songs have really taken a new life as they are getting played every night.
“We just want to bring an authentic experience to the stage,” said Gaster.
Clutch is co-headlining with progressive, sludge rockers Mastodon and Corrosion of Conformity - Blind is opening. C.O.C. - Blind is a touring band with Reed Mullin and Karl Agell who played on the1991 C.O.C. album “Blind” and will play songs from the album.
Doors open at 6:00 and the show starts at 7:00.
If there was any justice in the world rock music would be more popular and Clutch would be among the biggest hard rock bands in the world. Alas, rock music has slipped in popularity of the past decade and while Clutch’s latest debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard top 200 chart and No. 1 on the Billboard Rock and Heavy Music Charts, lead singer Neil Fallon is not even the most famous person in his own family. That honor goes to his younger sister Mary Alice Yeskey who on the Food Network show “Ace of Cakes.”
Their latest album “Psychic Warfare” is their third produce by Machine, joining “Blast Tyrant” and “Earth Rocker”. Those two rank amongst not only Clutch’s best albums, but two of my personal favorite albums and “Psychic Warfare” is right there with the other two.
While the band never stands pat, they also do not stray from their core sound, which incorporates blues, hard rock, psychedelic rock and stoner rock with a DIY punk rock attitude.
While Psyching Warfare is not a concept album the first three tracks, as well as the outro are all tied together. The Affidavit is the opener and the story starts as a detective/investigator asks for someone to “start at the beginning.” This launches right into “X-Ray Visions” which is a typical Fallon absurdist story about a paranoid narrator who may or may not be out of his mind hiding out at a sleazy motel. The song is a full tilt rocker with a catch, sing along chorus. The tale continues with Firebirds, where the unnamed protagonist picks up a hitchhiker in the seedier parts of California and all she wants is “Firebirds and energy weapons” and all he has to offer is a Datsun. The song is another rocker, and continues the big, catchy choruses of the previous installment of the story.
“Quick Death in Texas” was inspired by the environment where they recorded the record and musically it takes a note from ZZ Top, complete with Fallon singing “apologies Mr. Gibbons.” The song is a little slower and incorporates some of Texas boogie and groove.
“Sucker for the Witch” is a ode to bad girls everywhere and should work very well live as Fallon’s on-stage delivery is one part rock star, one part tent revival preacher and this somewhat autobiographical song should slide nicely into the live set.
Midway through the album things slow down with the instrumental “Doom Saloon” which could easily fit into a post apocalyptic cowboy movie and it flows seamlessly into “Our Lady of Electric Light” which maintains the slow, melancholy vibe.
Things don’t stay slow for long as “Noble Savage” begins with a driving guitar riff that just screams “20 miles over the speed limit.” Ironically, the lyrics to the song stem from mundane conversations the band has had with loan officers and other professionals who inquire about their lives as professional musicians.
This is what Fallon does. He eschews the typical rock and roll lyrics of loving, losing and partying and looks for more interesting themes and word play.
One recurring theme album to album is the use of mythology in his lyrics and “Behold the Colossus” has them in spades, with mentions of gorgons, Cyclops, gargoyles and, of course, the colossus.
“Decapitation Blues” was inspired by Fallon’s neck surgery, but he takes it to the extreme with a sci-fi tale of someone whose surgery was a little more experimental and supernatural than he was led to believe.
“Son of Virginia” ends the record on a slower note, with some good swamp boogie blues. Much like mythology, the south and the civil war are also common themes on Clutch records and “Virginia” alludes to both. The song is an epic way to close the record and is already being used as a set closer or encore on their latest tour. At the end of the track is the final spoken word outro as the investigator wraps up the interview despite “somewhat vexed by your statement.”
Fans of Clutch or just hard rock in general should not be vexed. “Psychic Warfare” is not only another great offering in the Clutch canon, but a serious contender for album of the year.
Unlike most of their 80’s heavy metal brethren, Iron Maiden continues to produce quality albums. Instead of chasing trends, (anyone remember Winger’s grunge album or Tommy Lee rapping?), Maiden has slowly evolved their sound. They still possess the power metal gallop of 80’s classic “Number of the Beast” or “Powerslave”, but have also embraced their prog leanings and interests in longer, less radio friendly songs.
Their newest offering “Book of Souls” continues this trend. It is one of their strongest records since their 2000 reunion with vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and may be able to hold its own with even most of their classic cannon.
The fact this record was even made is a testament to Maiden’s desire to remain on top of the rock world. Not only is the band in the fifth decade of releasing records, but Dickinson battled tongue cancer after recording the record.
Book of Souls is a double album, the first for a studio release from the band, though it has just 11 tracks, but nearly half the record runs past the 10-minute mark and no song clocks in under 5:00.
While not a concept album, there is a sort of Mayan theme with both the album title and the depiction of band mascot Eddie. Several songs, including opener “If Eternity Should Fail” have some Latin/South American flare.
“Eternity” opens the album and is a catchy song, but is not the radio friendly single that most of their post reunion output has boasted.
Ironically, the first single off the record was the second track, “Speed of Light”. The cowbell heavy intro actually sounds a bit like Guns ‘N Roses, that is until Dickinson’s air raid siren wail joins the processions. From there it is vintage Maiden, with a big catchy chorus. Oddly enough, the cosmic lyrical themes would not be out of place on the previous album “The Final Frontier.”
Although it is a strong song, “Speed of Light” shows us our first glimpse of what sounds like Dickinson’s voice straining just a bit. Without employing studio tricks, his voice has a raw quality on a few songs. The band seems to want a real live quality to the vocal tracks, forgoing studio polish and shine. This fits in with the “live vibe” the band wanted for the record. Although he has done a great job preserving his voice, he is 57 years old and has been fronting bands since the 70’s. Add to that the recent cancer battle and it is no surprise that there is a rawness to his voice. Despite that, Dickinson’s voice is one of the most iconic in metal and he still possesses great range.
“The Red and the Black” may is arguably the strongest song on the record and could hold its own with nearly any track in the bands discography. It also shows one of my frustrations with the current incarnation of the band. The song clocks in at over 13:00 and there are a few songs on the record that could use an editor. Three songs on the record clock in at over 10 minutes and two more are at least 7:30. This has been a recent trend of the band. Of the post-reunion records 17 of the 52 songs clock in at over 8:00 and another eight eclipse the 7-minute mark. Often this works very well, a number of songs deserve the epic treatment, but a few could benefit from some trimming. By way of comparison, Maiden’s three classic albums “Number of the Beast”, “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave”, just one of the 26 songs is longer than 8:00 (the epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which deserves all 13:00 minutes it receives) and just three others pass the 7-minute mark.
Although I spent a paragraph complaining about song length, “The Red and the Black” hardly disappoints. The catchy sing-along “whoah-ohh” chorus will be a live staple as long as the band keeps touring.
“When the River Runs Deep” and “The Book of Souls” are both solid tracks to close out the first disc, but disc two opener “Death or Glory”, has some real high points. It should come as no surprise that the band is inspired in a song about the Red Baron. Dickinson is a pilot and some of Maiden’s best songs have come in songs about flying and/or war.
“Tears of a Clown” is an odd song, at least lyrically. It is a tribute to Robin Williams, though there are no overt references to the comedian who took his own life.
The record concludes with what has become the longest song in the band’s discography. “Empire of the Clouds” clocks in at over 18 minutes and features Dickinson on the piano accompanied by orchestration. Dickinson receives the sole song writing credit and it seems to be a passion project for him as the song depicts the 1930 crash of the R101 experimental airship. The song is a microcosm of later era Maiden. It is epic in scope, a bit experimental in places, but still harkens back to the band’s roots with their trademark guitar gallop, guitar harmonies and, of course, big solos. Dickinson alternates between tender soft passages and big, over the top singing.
It is not a perfect record, but it holds its own with the rest of the bands discography. There are some top-notch songs, and more importantly, no clunkers. Fans of the band’s increased debt to their progressive leanings will love what the band does, while those who prefer radio friendly classics, will still have some things to enjoy.