December 27, 2009

My favorite rock/metal albums of 2009

Amazon Listmania!

Artist: Devin Townsend Project
Album: Addicted
I Say: See my review here.

Artist: Baroness
Album: Blue Record
I Say: Sludge metal; second full release.

Artist: Revocation
Album: Existence Is Futile
I Say: Boston area thrash; signed to Relapse Records in 2009.

Artist: Hot Leg
Album: Red Light Fever
I Say: See my review here.

Artist: Devin Townsend Project
Album: Ki
I Say: Referred to by Townsend as "an aperitif" as the first album of the four-part series under the Devin Townsend Project pseudonym.

Artist: The Wildhearts
Album: Chutzpah!
I Say: Ninth studio album from Ginger and the England rockers.

Artist: Lazarus A.D.
Album: The Onslaught
I Say: See my review here.

Artist: Them Crooked Vultures
Album: Them Crooked Vultures
I Say: John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss).

Artist: Tenet
Album: Sovereign
I Say: See my review here.

Artist: Spinnerette
Album: Spinnerette
I Say: Brody Dalle (The Distillers), Tony Bevilacqua (The Distillers), Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eleven, Pearl Jam) and Alain Johannes (Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age).

November 29, 2009

Album review: Devin Townsend Project - Addicted!

Addicted is the second album of the four-part series under the Devin Townsend Project pseudonym, essentially a project featuring Townsend and musicians he hand-picks for each album, which is really cool. Ki, the first part released six months prior, serves as a delectable appetizer with mostly tranquil listening. It’s controlled and teases with letting the wrath loose, and Addicted picks up where Ki left off, the perfect second course. The building anticipation in the title track is heavy. It’s exciting.

There’s a plethora of sounds and protruding from them all is the experienced, yet virtually unheard of Anneke van Giersbergen, female Dutch singer. Her gentle voice is everywhere – sometimes in the background, sometimes in the forefront, and she surprisingly complements Townsend’s wild side. One song that features her alone is the revamped “Hyperdrive” from Ziltoid the Omniscient, formerly with Townsend’s vocals, but now with Giersbergen’s.

While Townsend’s subtler stuff like Ki doesn’t go unappreciated, it’s the radical stuff that most people really love, and Addicted brings back the “wall of sound” but in a more melodic fashion. Each and every song is catchy with metal elements. Most songs are “Material”-like (Physicist) with a whirlwind of layers & effects, varying degrees of Townsend vocal intensities, and just plain greatness. The exception is the relatively tame “Ih-Ah!” and ironically it’s one of the better songs. Try not to sing along.

Addicted is more commercial than previous solo projects and is beautifully heavy. It’s very easy to get in to and will likely go down as one of Townsend’s most approachable albums.

August 9, 2009

Album review: Dead Cats Dead Rats - Dead Cats Dead Rats

The place is dark, poorly lit. A few townies sit hunched over at the bar cradling their pint glasses. On the floor there are a few interlopers bearing flannel shirts and tattered jeans amongst a standing, waiting crowd of friends and random comers. Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are nursed inside while outside people smoke cigarettes waiting for the next rockers to go on. This is the scene.

Dead Cats Dead Rats (yeah, you know, like The Doors tune) hail from the North Shore of Massachusetts, and while just a trio, they pack a sick, grungy sound that would indicate they’ve been doing this thing for awhile. How long have they been together? Don’t know; they have just the self-titled release and a quality music video for “Marla” which can be viewed at their web site and YouTube. They have also been esteemed as contestants for the highly-renowned WBCN Rock N’ Roll Rumble.

The band’s sound is a concoction of grunge, punk, and garage rock. Singer/guitarist Matt Reppucci’s delivery and angst is much like that of Kurt Cobain – a little raspy, a little screechy at times. This fits the hasty Misfits-esque riffing of songs that average about two minutes in length. It honestly wouldn’t be the same if the songs were any longer. They need to be quick and in your face to be effective. And there aren’t any solos. It’s just rock, a lot of it really catchy, and there literally isn’t enough time to squeeze in fancy doodling.

What I like most about Dead Cats’ style is that the bass is so prominent. This isn’t to say it’s the focal point, but it’s not muddled out by the guitar and drums like so many bands unfortunately do to the instrument. The bass is not just a foundation here. It’s tasty and heavy in numbers like “Donkey Lips” and “Cross Bones” and there’s tapping or something to begin “Marla.” Both guitar and bass together make for that grungy, dirty tone.

Of all the bands in the Boston area, Dead Cats Dead Rats are one of my favorites. Make them one of your’s.

May 19, 2009

Album review: CKY - Carver City

Carver City is the first release for CKY under Roadrunner Records and is a great offering to start the band’s term with the label. And it’s also a great start to their “reunion” after being apart for some time for personal reasons. The music is refreshing (more on this later) and the last release on Island Records, An Answer Can Be Found, just seemed a little out of character for the band. A change in scenery can make a world of a difference.

So what or where is Carver City exactly? It’s a fictional New Jersey town the band came up with as a theme for the album, a seaside town that represents inspirations of childhood nostalgia and memories. One such inspiration derives from a Deron Miller family getaway which becomes “The Boardwalk Body.” It’s an intriguing theme considering the songs derive from actual events.

The band seemed to have lost that skater rock, disdainful style they had (they were once on the Warped Tour and were then kicked off in true CKY fashion, mind you), and their third release, An Answer Can Be Found, is a testament to that. There was just something off about that album. The passion and poise weren’t there. It was a solid effort but not what the band’s following was probably looking for. But CKY have resurged with grandiosity for their fourth release, a follow-up which shatters all expectations.

Once an artist changes style or heads in another direction, it’s not common to see a return to old form, but CKY defies this logic. “Hellions On Parade” is the third part in the Hellview theme, preceded by “96 Quite Bitter Beings” and “Escape From Hellview.” Not bad company, eh? It’s also the first single, the first track, and the first sign of a triumphant return. Following suit, “Rats In The Infirmary” is another song reminiscent of Volume 1 with dark, perhaps even industrial tones. Further, “Imaginary Threats” and “A#1 Roller Rager” have the fuzzy, little riffs and melody found abundant in Infiltrate-Destroy-Rebuild.

Carver City is everything CKY has come to be, and it’s a breath of fresh air... and a relief!

March 17, 2009

Album review: Static-X - Cult Of Static

Cult of Static, Static-X’s sixth studio release, marks a decade since the band released their debut, Wisconsin Death Trip. One thing is for sure of late, I don’t have to wait long for releases – the band has released three albums in three years, the sandwiched album being Cannibal Killers Live, a box set featuring footage from the tour in support of 2007’s Cannibal. So when Wayne Static, front man and founder, announced in 2008 that a new album was nearing completion and would be released soon, it came as a backhand to the face. I asked myself, do these guys ever stop to smell the roses?

Cult of Static is a reference of thanks to the devoted followers and fans that have supported the band’s efforts to get them where they are today. The first track, “Lunatic,” was released on the Punisher: War Zone soundtrack, and then re-recorded for this album to feature a guitar solo from Megadeth icon Dave Mustaine. The solo seems just slightly thrown in just because they had Mustaine’s partnership (and it sort of was judging how Wayne Static described it in a Headbanger’s Blog interview), but it’s cool nonetheless.

Cult of Static is also somewhat of a symbolic pennant of Wayne Static’s new flame, Tera Wray, former adult film star. Not only is her name in song titles, but she appears to be featured on the artwork front cover – both Wray and Static pose as a crowd of clones of themselves. The first single, “Stingwray,” is really the only song that’s classic Static-X, so it’s no surprise this was the first choice.

That said, the rest of the album is where the direction changes. Not only are the songs darker than before (the band had their blinkers on in Cannibal, but just didn’t make the turn), but they run longer with an epic atmosphere. “Tera-Fied” at over five minutes is the epitome of this including solemn, mysterious synthesizers. With mystifying loops and sounds, intense piston-pumping riffs, “meedley meedley” guitar solos, and powerful, gritty vocals, the “evil disco” sound we strive for is here but with a darker tinge. Static-X have certainly had different sounds over the course of a decade, and Cult of Static remains to differ from anything they’ve done, but it’s all gravy.

March 8, 2009

Album review: Hot Leg - Red Light Fever

The wait, although really not as long as it could have been, for a new album from Justin Hawkins is over. His British Whale synth pop alias was essentially a tease with just two singles released, so the anxiety over more available material has since heightened. Enter Hot Leg, Justin's new band consisting of himself and three friends. They label themselves "man rock," which is amusing but fitting (silly outfits are out, sweatbands and leggings are in). This is Hawkins' baby as he wrote, recorded, and produced everything. And what a beautiful baby it is!

Red Light Fever is arguably deserving of comparison to The Darkness' debut, Permission To Land. The guitar licks, fun, and flamboyancy are all there. The flavor of The Darkness goes wherever Justin Hawkins goes, and further proof exists in what his former band mates have done in Stone Gods - they just aren't the same or as popular without their departed mastermind. Hawkins is carrying Hot Leg on his back now and the band is looking to make their mark in the man rock charts.

Some songs which sound Darkness-esque, "Cocktails" and "Gay In The 80s" as two examples, are actually both co-written by Chas Bayfield, an unknown friend/writer of sorts. Was he around in The Darkness days? "Cocktails" is a very catchy song, but don't allow yourself to be caught singing the chorus aloud... `Cock [cock]/ Cock, cock, cock, cocktails/ Cock [cock]/ Cock, cock, cock, cocktails.' And then you have uncharacteristic songs like "Ashamed" featuring Beverlei Brown harmonizing with Hawkins, "Trojan Guitar," described as a medieval five-minute-plus epic, and "Kissing In The Wind," a relatively mellow album closer.

There are actually several outtake songs which would be fantastic as a part of Red Light Fever, but a few are offered as freebies from the band's website. Check those out, let Hot Leg give you a dose of man rock, and prepare to be swooned with this album.

January 17, 2009

Five Boston rock bands worthy of your attention

Band: Bang Camaro
Where I discovered them: Heard a song on WBCN's Boston Emissions show (Sundays 10-midnight) called "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" and thought having a dozen singers was cool. But at the time I had no idea I was listening to a local segment. I thought it was just typical radio, which just goes to show Bang Camaro is good enough to jostle with the big boys.
Where you can discover them:,
The music: Alex Necochea, co-founder, labels the band anthem rock. I might add arena rock on top of that, even though anthem rock essentially says it all. Without all the singers, Bang Camaro probably wouldn’t be able to pull off the sound they’re going for. Enter a wicked vibe with everyone singing their faces off. There are far too many influences of their’s to list, but I would compare them to your typical 80’s rock band, but with a multitude of singers, of course. It’s a rockin’ sound you really need to appreciate for yourself. You can check out my review of their latest album here -

Band: Anarchy Club
Where I discovered them: WBCN's Boston Emissions show (Sundays 10-midnight).
Where you can discover them:,
The music: The sound is a combination of rock and electronica, and maybe even a dash of industrial. It's just two guys, Keith Smith (vocals & guitars) and Adam von Buhler (all instruments), and yet it doesn't sound like the work of two minds.

Band: The SnowLeopards
Where I discovered them: Browsing myspace music pages the default photo for The SnowLeopards' page featured a face I recognized. That face belongs to a guitarist I saw on stage playing guitar for Bang Camaro at a local record store. On that basis alone I checked 'em out.
Where you can discover them:
The music: It's pretty darn poppy ("I'm On Fire" was played on the show The Hills), but elements of hard rock are there. If they were straight pop I wouldn't even bother. The singer is female, she looks look Amy Winehouse, but her voice is pretty typical albeit still great. My taste for female singers is fairly lacking, but I really like her in this band.

Band: Hooray For Earth
Where I discovered them: Opened for Bang Camaro's CD release show in Boston at the Paradise Rock Club.
Where you can discover them:,
The music: Bryn Bennett of Bang Camaro says in a myspace blog, "They have somehow found a way to mix the sounds of Nirvana, The Beatles, and NIN into a form of music that can only be called "beautiful." Every one of their songs in a dark masterpiece. Singer Noel Heroux, is also the only guy I know who has glued a delay pedal to his guitar."

Band: Dead Cats Dead Rats
Where I discovered them: Heard a song on WBCN's Boston Emissions show (Sundays 10-midnight) called "Donkey Lips" that was about a minute and a half long it seemed, and if it wasn't that short and fast-paced it wouldn't have been any good.
Where you can discover them:
The music: If Nirvana and The Misfits joined forces, this is what they'd sound like... except playing out of a garage. An average song is about two minutes long, but they're all addicting. You could spin their self-titled album twice within an hour, and chances are you'll want to anyway.