Thursday, June 30, 2016

Apple Patents Tech That Could Stop Amateur Concert Filming

Technology has made a lot of things great and more convenient in recent years. A major example of that would be the smart phone/iPhone. However, like with all things for as many good things there are there are also some downsides. A major downside of having the world in your pocket is that many people use this technology to film concerts rather than actually experience it - some times also getting in the way of other people who actually are trying to enjoy the moment. However, now Apple Inc. has patented new technology that could potentially prevent this from happening.
According to 9to5Mac the patent says the technology would:
"For example, an infrared emitter can be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited, and the emitter can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands to disable the recording functions of devices. An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command" 
If this technology comes to fruition, it could also prevent people from recording in movie theaters, on or near movie sets, etc. However, it can also provide things as well instead of only taking them away such as displaying information about something you're looking at in a museum or historical site.
However, if this does happen it probably won't be for a while as the patent was only just recently filed. Also, Apple often files patents for various technology that never sees the light of day. That said, I wouldn't count on seeing anything like this any time soon unfortunately.
Personally, I have two different feelings on this. On the one hand, it would be unfortunate if you couldn't at least snap a few pictures at a show. On the other, it would FINALLY eliminate all those people who just stand there watching the show through their phone screens the whole time rather than actually getting the experience they paid to have. I personally do hope this happens because people who just stand there filming concerts not only get in the way of other people trying to have a good time, but also it kind of steals the energy that an artist/band thrives on. Without crowd energy, it's hard for a musician to really get into what they're doing on stage. It kills the moment. I think this would be a step forward because it could be the start of us putting down our phones and living real life for a change.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mike Portnoy Rocks a Hello Kitty Toy Drum Kit

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy has been known for being a rather good natured and funny kind of guy. He recently decided to show off his sense of humour as well as his mad drumming skills by doing a silly video (which can be viewed below) of him playing some rock and metal classics on a Hello Kitty toy drum kit.

Portnoy joined forces with Loudwire to do this video. At the beginning of the video, he walks in the room with the kit and jokes around before laying down some Kiss, Rush, and Slayer beats better than most drummers could on a real kit, saying:

"What the fuck, where is my tour manager? I specifically requested the Pokemon kit. I never play Hello Kitty. Obviously the fucking guy did not get the rider. And a single pedal? I'm supposed to be doing Slayer tunes on this thing. But I'm an artist and a professional. I will rise above."

I'm not surprised that Portnoy would pull a stunt like this. He is one of the few people who could get away with getting behind a toy drum kit marketed toward little girls and make it rock so hard that most other drummers would throw up their sticks and quit. Plus, I'm always more impressed by a drummer who can make the most of a minimal kit than anyone behind a 100 piece kit.

Monday, June 27, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #79

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Beautiful Girls, by Van Halen

This is one of my favorite Van Halen songs of all time. If ever you need a tune to accompany your warm breezy day off in the sun in Summer then this is the one for you. It's bright, catchy, and fun. It's trademark Van Halen with Eddie's signature riffing and soloing, Michael Anthony's sunshine backing vocals, Alex's no frills attached drumming, and David Lee Roth strutting around like the west coast bleach blonde rock god he used to be back in the day.

2. 2000 Man, by Kiss

For one of their last big albums of the original line-up's run, Kiss actually covered The Rolling Stones, though not one of their bigger songs. They also decided to put lead guitarist Ace Frehley at the helm for vocals - which worked out quite well. It's a lot more shiny and driving than the original tune, but honestly I think that's ok because the Spaceman blasts this song into the cosmos here. I'd even venture to say that it beats the original.

3. All My Love, by Led Zeppelin

Although guitarist Jimmy Page kind of just decided to sit back and put his feet up on the table while this album was being written and recorded, his lack of presence by no means makes this tune any less good. It shows that bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones could play a wickedly addictive synth and Robert Plant could still write one hell of a good song without Page being all that involved. The fact that All My Love still gets constant radio airplay to this day is a testament to this fact.

4. Girls Got Rhythm, by AC/DC

Highway to Hell was a BIG album for AC/DC. This is where they were in a bit of a transitionary period between the raw rough sounds of their first few albums and the bigger, better, and more polished ones they would have in the future once Brian Johnson replaced Bon Scott as singer. This song in particular shows that you can still cater to the average listener a little without having to compromise on your own sound and sense of artistry too much. AC/DC still got to be AC/DC, but with a little more shine.

5. The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) [live], by Judas Priest

This is a cover of a Fleetwood Mac song that Judas Priest included on their album Hellbent for Leather. The original is absolutely fantastic, but this song from what I can tell is what the song was truly meant to be, even if Peter Green never realized it when he originally penned the tune. It's riffy, it's dark, it's powerful. This live performance of it is even better. It has one of Rob Halford's best vocal performances of all time near the end and the guitar solos are phenomenal.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Iggy Pop Considering Retirement

Proto-punk rocker Iggy Pop has shocked the world in so many different ways in his 4+ decade career, but recently he has given credence to something that is more shocking than any of his other escapades: he is considering retirement.

After recently releasing a new album Post Pop Depression with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme Pop admitted that doing another album would be a big undertaking for a man of his age (69 years old). He feels he doesn't have a whole lot of energy any more and feels it might be time for him to "step back".

In a recent interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Pop expands on this statement and gives more thought and depth to it, saying:

“There’s a lot of things I can’t do now that I could do when I was 25. But because I was basically kind of a loony, what’s happened with me is that the less I can do, the better off I am! But I can do a music show, and I enjoy that. And I can do an advert, or a part in a film, or a radio show. And I really enjoy those things.”

I can kind of understand Pop's desire to retire, though I'm a little baffled considering there are guys older than him still going strong well into their 70's and beyond. However, I guess it is a little different in his case considering that Pop has always been known for his high energy performances both on stage and on record. It's probably difficult to keep that kind of thing up forever and it would be better to burn out than fade away.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Led Zeppelin IV, by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin just won a major court case recently regarding alleged plagiarism recently. Their most well known and over played song Stairway to Heaven was accused of being a rip-off of a song called Taurus by the band Spirit. To celebrate this victory, I'm going to do this week's Throwback Thursday about this 1971 monster of a classic album which not only had Stairway on it, but quite a few other well known classics as well.

Led Zeppelin IV has even less of the straight up loud proud outer space blues sound that Led Zeppelin had started with in their first couple of albums. This continues the more straight up rock with moments of folk music interspersed throughout it that Led Zeppelin III had begun to bring on previously. Classic songs like Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, When the Levee Breaks, Rock and Roll, etc. still get TONS of radio airplay all the time. That much of an album being broadcast after four decades is definitely a testament to how fantastic and big it truly was.

Stairway to Heaven. It's that one song that always gets requested at a bar band's gig (aside from Free Bird) or people always muck up horribly when dicking around in a guitar shop. People have also over-analyzed the lyrics to death for four decades as well. Over played though it may most certainly be, it has earned it. It's definitely Led Zeppelin's maximum opus. Jimmy Page probably did some of his best writing and guitar work in this song. It seamlessly blends soft acoustic folk with harder hitting electrifying rock n' roll. The beauty part about it is that it starts off with minimal layers, but gradually builds up more and more to the point where it becomes this epic breakdown that carries on until the very end.

Black Dog in my opinion is one of the greatest straight up rock songs Led Zeppelin ever created. From the moment Robert Plant sings that opening line, you know that something awesome is about to happen. The band needless to say does not disappoint. This is rock at its most raw. It's just a few guys going absolutely balls to the wall on their instruments/vocals while keeping things simple in all the best ways; focusing on volume, simplicity, and passion rather than technicality or composition. For the more hard rocking person, this is the tune to go to.

Led Zeppelin IV was where I started when I first started listening to Zeppelin way back in the day. Honestly, I still would have to say that this definitely isn't the worst place to do so. It has tons of their best songs and shows just how versatile they could be during their best years. Whether you like hard rock, folk, or something in between you're bound to find something on this record that suits your fancy. Kind of hard to go wrong with an album where at one point there is a straight up Lord of the Rings reference.

Led Zeppelin IV, by Led Zeppelin receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Black Dog
2. Rock and Roll
3. The Battle of Evermore
4. Stairway to Heaven
5. Misty Mountain Hop
6. Four Sticks
7. Going to California
8. When the Levee Breaks

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Steve Vai Streams New Song: "Dark Matter"

Guitar god Steve Vai is gearing up for a big 25 year anniversary re-release of his highly praised and celebrated solo album Passion and Warfare. This re-release will not only feature the album itself, but a second CD titled Modern Primitive - an album of material he wrote between his 1984 solo debut Flex-able and Passion and Warfare. To promote it, Vai has already released a rather funky yet very much Steve Vai sounding tune Dark Matter (which can be listened to below).

In a recent interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Vai talks a bit about how he feels about Modern Primitive, saying:

"Performing this record from top to bottom, with some very special surprises in the works, is something I've always dreamed of doing. There are songs here I've never performed before, and I'm delighted that 25 years after its release, I feel as though my guitar chops are as much up to the task as ever before."

Like I said earlier, Dark Matter has a lot of a funky vibe to it - in a rather Jimi Hendrix flavor. However, it isn't too long into the song where you hear the kinds of runs, bends, and harmonies that are trademark 80's/90's Steve Vai sound. However, the modern recording of the song makes it sound less dated. It could easily fit on anything he would put out in this day and age.

Passion and Warfare + Modern Primitive will be released on June 24th.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dave Mustaine: Nick Menza Tribute Show Won't Happen if Family Doesn't Want It

Former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza sadly passed away at the age of 51 last month during a performance with his band Ohm. His former bandmate and band leader Dave Mustaine wants to have a memorial concert with all former members of Megadeth to raise money for the late drummer's family. However, there is a bit of uncertainty at this point as to whether or not that will happen.

In a recent interview with EonMusic, Mustaine talks about how the family is working on getting their affairs in order so that their kids can have something to live on until they can sustain themselves.

Mustaine says:

“There’s some stuff going on right now where the family is doing a GoFundMe page, and I’m not involved in that. If they need our help they know where we’re at. We love them, and want the best for them. Our involvement is to help Nick’s legacy for his children,” he says. “He’s got artwork. He’s got a lot of music that he’s written outside of Megadeth.

If people really love Nick and want to support him, look at his artwork. Focus on the music he did, Megadeth or otherwise. Nick was a man in transformation – he had a new band, he had a new energy, he had recently finished his biography. He was living life right, working out, mountain biking, going to bed early and getting up early. He was the happiest he’d been in a very long time. Nick just played drums with more passion than his heart could take, and that’s the truth.”

It doesn't sound to me like the family is saying no to the concert just yet, but I could be wrong. Personally I would think they would want all the help they can get financially. Plus, it would be a sucky dick move for them to block what could be the most epic Megadeth concert to ever happen. Can you imagine Marty Friedman playing with Mustaine again for the first time in almost two decades? How rad would that be?

Monday, June 20, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #78

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Number of the Beast, by Iron Maiden

If Iron Maiden had only one song that they had to be known for, it would most definitely be this one. It's iconic; from the quote from Revelations that opens it, to Bruce Dickinson's banshee-like scream, to its thunderous riffing. Though on a surface level it seems like a very Satan worshiper kind of song, if you listen to the lyrics it's actually a warning against Lucifer and his evil forces. That is, if you believe in that kind of thing anyway.

2. Love Bites, by Def Leppard

Love Bites is 80's hair metal ballad cheese at its most glorious. As much as well all jab at bands like Def Leppard for using way too much hair spray and having some of the the cheesiest songs, they really did know what they were doing musically. Sonically this is a rather ear pleasing tune because the guitar melodies, the harmonized backing vocals, and the right amount of vocal grit in the right places really make Love Bites knock one out of the park.

3. Now I'm Here, by Queen

When I saw Queen a few years back, it was really something else. Yeah, Adam Lambert is no Freddie Mercury, but he did the music a lot of justice - especially when they chose to open with this epic rock n' roll number. It starts off with this awesome beefy riff that only leads into something even more big, grand, yet still very much rock n' roll. This was one of the first songs that had the sound that Queen would become associated with over their decades long career.

4.  Long Live Rock and Roll, by Rainbow

Ritchie Blackmore put together a new incarnation of Rainbow recently! This is pretty exciting news, considering he hasn't played rock in about 20 years. He has focused on his Renaissance music project Blackmore's Night with his wife Candace Night. That said, it's fun to dig up and remember the old songs of his we know and love such as Long Live Rock and Roll - a rather upbeat driving hard rock tune that is actually a bit more bluesy than most of Rainbow's compositions.

5.  American Man, by Velvet Revolver

This is by far one of Velvet Revolver's most under rated songs. It has quite a bit of a flamenco feel to it, but at the same time it's still a very balls to the wall hard rock song - something one could expect of a band comprised primarily of former members of Guns N' Roses. The best parts are Slash's guitar solos. They are like little songs in themselves and really add to the dramatic and epic atmosphere that the song provides to the listener.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Eddie Van Halen Gets Out of Traffic Ticket Because He's Eddie Van Halen

You read that right. I kid you not. No, this is not from The Onion. Van Halen guitarist and founder Eddie Van Halen actually managed to get out of a ticket purely on the merit that he is Eddie Van Halen.

Van Halen and his wife Julie were doing a test drive when he decided it would be more fun and would take them less time to get where they were going if he put the pedal to the metal like the true rock n' roller he is. In an interview with Car and Driver Van Halen describes the incident, saying:
“Since I bought the V-8 R8, Audi contacted me and offered for us to go up to Infineon [Sonoma Raceway] to test-drive the V-10 on the track. You know, just go crazy. So [my wife] Janie and I drove up in her Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. It’s a long drive and we’re doing about 90, 95 in a 65, and I get pulled over and the guy writes me up for a ticket.
I’m going, ‘The last thing I need is a speeding ticket for that much over the speed limit.’ We get home and I get a letter from my office; the patrol guy who gave me the ticket, his captain voided it. He said, ‘You don’t give Eddie Van Halen a ticket,’ and I had a letter to prove it. The letter came straight from the captain.”
As big of a fan of Van Halen as I am, I still am a bit flabbergasted that he actually managed to get away with speeding just for being who he is. I guess when you're a rock star though the world really does treat you a lot differently than if you were just a regular joe-shmo. Must be nice to be able to get away with anything just for being able to play guitar well. Maybe that's just my bitter side talking, though.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Iron Maiden, by Iron Maiden

When most people think Iron Maiden, they think of albums like Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, etc. While those are of course amazing classic albums, they did some fantastic work before that as well with their original singer Paul Di'Anno (who was subsequently replaced by Bruce Dickinson). That said, their debut album Iron Maiden which came out in 1980 was not only a great album, but it actually brought a great deal of momentum to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Movement that began in the late 70's and would carry into the mid-80's.

Iron Maiden lacks a great deal of the polish and luster that their more famous albums would have, but it makes up for that with a great deal of energy, good song writing, and musical prowess. You can hear even early on just what kinds of epic things they would do later on, except in a more raw street punk kind of way. In some ways, you can hear a lot of the punk influence Iron Maiden had early on (despite the fact that bassist, primary song writer, and founding member Steve Harris says the band despised everything about punk) before they went in a more power metal direction. It works out really well.

Running Free is the main single from Iron Maiden, and for good reason. It is bass heavy and the rhythm has this engrossing swing to it laid down by drummer Clive Burr that is hard not to get caught up in. Plus, who can resist belting along to its rather simplistic chorus? The guitars are actually meant more as a way to add a bit of extra punch to what the bass is already doing. To this day Iron Maiden still uses it as a focal piece in the show where they extend some of the bass centric parts and Dickinson introduces each individual member of the band. It's a great way to get your blood hot and your body moving when you need an extra shot of energy.

Phantom of the Opera in my opinion is one of the single greatest things Iron Maiden ever wrote and recorded. This is the track where the band really strutted their stuff in terms of their skill with their instruments and song writing. Clocking in at about 7 minutes it has multiple distinct parts to it, blindingly fast melodic guitar solos where Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton harmonize together so incredibly well. In a way it kind of takes you on this epic heavy metal journey. This is what I was referring to when earlier I mentioned even early on you could hear the traces of the epic things Iron Maiden would do later on.

Iron Maiden is definitely an under rated must have of an album. If you want to hear where Iron Maiden got their start or just want to hear some great heavy metal in general then you really have no excuse to be looking around any further than this. It's definitely a lot more raw and less shiny than what Iron Maiden has become famous for, but the greatness is still there. You just need to pick it up and give it a shot. If you're not playing this at 11 then you definitely have something wrong with you.

Iron Maiden, by Iron Maiden receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Prowler
2. Sanctuary
3. Remember Tomorrow
4. Running Free
5. Phantom of the Opera
6. Transylvania
7. Strange World
8. Charlotte the Harlot
9. Iron Maiden

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Axl Rose Just a Regular Guy", says AC/DC's Production Manager

Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose has become rather infamous over the years for being a rather big primadonna and diva. He has been known to be a rather difficult to work with, according to popular sources. However, there are people who would disagree with the media's notion entirely - such a person being AC/DC's production manager Dale Skjerseth.

According to Skjerseth (who has worked with Rose before the tour he is doing with AC/DC to fill in for Brian Johnson who had to bow out due to hearing problems), the public has the entirely wrong idea of what Rose is like as a person. In an interivew Skjerseth did with he says Rose is in fact a regular person just like you and me. He doesn't do all the kinds of things one might think he would.

Skjerseth says:
“He’s not the diva – he never has been. I’ve worked with him many times before. He’s like any artist – he loves his show. He is a regular guy – we’re all different, we all can be weird, but that’s okay in life. That’s what makes him who he is."
Skjerseth then went on to talk about how Rose's helping out with the band is going and how it's made some rather positive changes, saying:
"He’s enjoying himself, the band is enjoying him. They play old songs. The show is longer now too. It used to be two hours, it’s now two hours and 20 minutes. Who knows what they’ll come up with? The production is the same. They’re not taking anything away. They’re playing and Axl is walking it out – he is doing this with honor. … They’re sounding fantastic and it’s a great show. At the end of the day, it’s AC/DC the way they always intended it to be.”
I'm definitely glad to see that Rose is having a positive impact on AC/DC in their time of need. Pulling out all those old Bon Scott era songs has probably helped them immensely. I've always kind of known that he isn't the big diva that everyone makes him out to be because it's not that difficult to realize that the media LOVES to blow things out of proportion and sensationalize them. Regardless, it looks like the general public is starting to realize this too since Rose has been doing such a fantastic job on the AC/DC tour.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Album Review: Hollow Bones, by Rival Sons

LA based outfit Rival Sons have definitely made their own big splash in the ocean of classic rock despite the fact that they are a younger more recent band. While their sound definitely has some main stays like many of the songs having big fuzzy British blues infused riffs and howling vocals backed by a thundering rhythm section, it definitely evolves over time. Their fifth studio album that just came out last week (June 10th) Hollow Bones is certainly no exception to this.

As with many of Rival Sons' previous albums, Hollow Bones was produced by Dave Cobb at LCS Studios in Nashville, TN. Now that the band has had time to get really used to having bassist David Beste as part of the band it seems like they have really gotten in sync again, but this time they're using that unity to explore the way they have been since the beginning - though in a different direction. This time around they have moved away from the British Invasion sound they had in their previous album Great Western Valkyrie and somewhat returned to what they were doing before with Head Down, though not to an extent to where they were rehashing.

Hollow Bones definitely tones down the heaviness that its predecessor had in some respects, but many of the heavy and bluesy psychedelic aspects still rear their heads in certain tunes like Pretty Face and Fade Out. However, some of Rival Sons' mild surf rock under tones have also managed to come back into the fold in tunes like Baby Boy. It's also nice to hear that Scott Holiday can still churn out the catchy guitar riffs for songs like Tied Up and Thundering Voices. That kind of thing is what has always drawn me into the Rival Sons sound.

When listening to this album I have this weird feeling like there is something missing. Like, there are a bunch of songs on it that are pretty darn good. Maybe that's the problem, though. The songs are pretty good, but there isn't all that much besides maybe a couple of songs that are particularly GREAT.

However, it could have something to do with the fact that Hollow Bones has only 9 songs and clocks in at 37:06. One of the songs on it Black Coffee is a Humble Pie cover that they did originally as a single for Record Store Day last year and I have a feeling that they threw it on to film up record space. Though it's not their shortest album time-wise, I feel like something more is needed. It doesn't quite feel like a full album. However, with a few more full listens to it I could easily change my view on this. Some times Rival Sons albums do take multiple listens before you fully get and groove with them. I hope that is the case here.

I am willing to give Hollow Bones multiple more listens though because I can tell that there is still that love of being creative in there. While this might not be what fans are used to from Rival Sons, maybe that's a good thing. Anything worth listening to for years to come is going to require you to delve deeply into it and explore territory you have never traversed before. There are moments when you hear classic Sons, but then the song will transition into something completely different. It can be an ambient more introspective tone or psychedelic and grooving. To Hollow Bones's further credit, it does have its moments. It has its rockers, its groovers, and its ballad (All That I Want is one of the absolute sweetest love songs I have ever heard singer Jay Buchanan or anyone for that matter write).

Overall I don't think Hollow Bones is my favorite album from Rival Sons (at least not yet anyway), but it is by no means a bad or just ok record. It is definitely good and worth picking up because if you're into big ballsy bluesy classic rock then you're bound to find quite a few tunes that you really like. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE just about everything Rival Sons does with a burning fiery passion. I guess when compared to the rest of the band's catalog it's hard for me to feel it to the degree I do the others. Over time though I'm sure that it is bound to get more plays from me, but this is kind of where I'm at with it at the moment. Time will tell.

Hollow Bones, by Rival Sons receives 3.85 out of 5 stars

Track List:

1. Hollow Bones Part 1
2. Tied Up
3. Thundering Voices
4. Baby Boy
5. Pretty Face
6. Fade Out
7. Black Coffee
8. Hollow Bones Part 2
9. All That I Want

Buy the album on Amazon:

Monday, June 13, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #77

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Thundering Voices, by Rival Sons

Californian British blues infused rockers Rival Sons just put out a new album called Hollow Bones a couple of days ago! The whole thing sounds pretty big and rumbling and this track is no exception. This song has those big fuzzy catchy riffs that many have come to associate Rival Sons with. It actually does have a rather noticeable Led Zeppelin vibe in certain places, but overall it's still very much it's own thing. You really ought to check it out. It's a unique new rock n' roll experience that you haven't heard on the radio hundreds of times yet.

2. Crying in the Rain (1987), by Whitesnake

This is a redo of a song Whitesnake recorded on their 1982 album Saints & Sinners, but this time around with John Sykes on guitar it has a much bigger, crunchier, heavy metal feel to it while still keeping the bluesy soul of it alive. The guitar solo is also one of the best things on the Whitesnake/1987 album. It's like a whole song in itself. If you're covering it and you don't play it note for note then you aren't really doing the song justice. That said, if you have a broken heart and you want to weep and moan, then this is right up your alley.

3. Lit Up, by Buckcherry

This is the defining Buckcherry song. It's the first song of the first album, and right from the get-go you know exactly what kind of band this is. It's all sex, drugs, and rock and roll. This is straight up no frills attached rock n' roll with serious attitude. The guitars punch, the vocals are powerful, and the rhythm just pounds the ever living crap out of you in all the best ways possible. There is no real lyrical depth to it, but let's face it. That's not why you listen to Buckcherry. You crank them up just to rock out. This song helps you do just that.

4. Knockin' on Heaven's Door, by Bob Dylan

This is probably American singer-songwriting legend Bob Dylan's most iconic tune. Also the simplest too. Despite the fact that throughout the song it's just the same four chords played over and over again it has a heavy impact and unlike the previous song on this list has some profound lyrical meaning to it. It's rather haunting if you put on some headphones and just let yourself get caught up in the ambience of it. Definitely for those of you who are interested in a good ballad that in some ways really did change the songwriting game.

5. Now Mary, by The White Stripes

I like that while this is very much a rock song, it has some flavors of country thrown into it. It's a very nice balance of the two genres. It's one of those tunes you can just let yourself sway and move to one moment while the next you're banging your head for a bit. You wouldn't think that such a thing could work, but it actually flows along quite nicely. The only thing I DON'T like about the song is the fact that it clocks in at only 1:46. Another verse, chorus, or both would have done quite nicely. Regardless, it's still some fine music.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Cult Still Has Relevant Things to Say, says Ian Astbury

Many bands will do what they can in their later years to stay afloat and to make as much money as they can while they can. However, there are a select few who do what they can to avoid this - as they want to stay relevant and push forward rather than just focus on being a legacy act. The Cult is one such band.

In a recent interview with Canoe singer Ian Astbury was asked whether or not the band had come full circle. His response indicates that they feel they have done no such thing, but rather are doing what they can to keep pushing forward as they have more things to say.

Astbury says:

"Not so much, because we’re not really taking stock – we’re just getting on with it. We’re trying to make choices based upon instincts. We’ve been offered a lot of opportunities to make money touring with artists who maybe had commercial and artistic successes several decades ago. But we choose not to do that. We still believe that we have a lot left to say. We’re driven and responding to the world we live in today. We don’t want to be a pastiche of what we did 20 years ago."

I have to admire Astbury and the rest of The Cult's desire to keep on moving forward into the future and make music that matters, rather than go on dozens of greatest hits tours like countless other famous bands of yesteryear. At that point in a career like that it's easy to just cash in and take the easy money route. Tons of fans would pay top dollar just to see their favorite band play all their big hits and have nothing new to present to them. I think when you do that though you have kind of lost the right to call yourself an artist rather than just a living jukebox.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Dr. Feelgood, by Motley Crue

By 1989 Motley Crue were already one of the hugest hair metal bands on the planet, but then they put out the one album that would skyrocket them even further to success and to be considered a staple of rock music forever: Dr. Feelgood. This album was a record company's wildest fantasy come true. It got rave reviews from critics and fans and it went on to go 6x platinum in the US and did astoundingly well internationally as well.

Dr. Feelgood is one of those records that from start to finish just sounds BIG. This is of course thanks to Nikki Sixx's song writing and Bob Rock's production job. The album is kind of the definition of 80's arena rock. It's crunchy, loud, pounding, and has sleazy lyrics all over the damn place. Dr. Feelgood contains a great deal of Crue's biggest hits such as Dr. Feelgood, Same Ol' Situation, Kickstart My Heart, Without You, etc. It also has a bunch of rock royalty as guest musicians such as: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Robin Zander and Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick, all of Skid Row, etc.

Slice of Your Pie in my opinion is one of the most under rated tracks on the Dr. Feelgood album. It has this sexy groove that has all the punchy guitar goodness of the rest of the album. Naturally the song like many of Motley Crue's songs is about girls and wanting to get in their pants. Be that as it may, it doesn't matter because the music itself is what we're all there for. It's definitely something you can move your hips to if you're into that kind of thing. Great for strip clubs if they get bored of the other tracks from this album they constantly play.

Kickstart My Heart is probably one of the biggest songs Motley Crue has in their catalog. It's used at racing and sporting events all over the world and has been for the past nearly three decades. For good reason too. It has that intensity and that build-up in the intro that breaks into a pedal to the metal vibe that hits you in all the right ways. Make sure you're not actually driving while listening to this because you might accidentally speed and get pulled over by the police. As much as this song rocks, it's not worth getting a ticket over.

Dr. Feelgood is the number one essential Motley Crue album. If you were going to get only one or figure out where to start with them, this would honestly be the one I would advise you pick up. It's the one album that got me into Motley Crue in the first place and I'm sure it will do the same for you too. There is virtually nothing not to like about it. This is where hair metal peaked and became as perfect as it could possibly be. It's loaded with hits and plenty of B-side material that is just as good, if not better in some ways.

Dr. Feelgood, by Motley Crue receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. T.n.T. (Terror n' Tinsel Town)
2. Dr. Feelgood
3. Slice of Your Pie
4. Rattlesnake Shake
5. Kickstart My Heart
6. Without You
7. Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
8. Sticky Sweet
9. She Goes Down
10. Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
11. Time For Change

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Axl Rose Working on New GN'R Stuff and Possibly with Angus Young of AC/DC

Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose has been one busy guy. Not only has he taken a big chunk of time out of his life to temporarily front AC/DC as they finish their Rock or Bust Tour, but he is also getting a GN'R reunion tour underway. To top that all off, Rose is working on new GN'R material with lead guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan and there exists the possibility that he will be working on new stuff with AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young.

In a recent press conference at The China Exchange (which can be viewed in its entirety below) Rose went into detail about a number of things, including the new material for sure being worked on as well as the hinting at working with Young.

In regards to that, Rose says:

"We are working on new stuff. I got a lot of stuff together and I played some stuff for Slash and Duff and they liked it, they might be on it...we don't know. Angus and I are talking about working together."

Personally while I'm naturally stoked at the fact that new GN'R material is being worked on with Slash and Duff I'm intrigued by the idea of Rose working with Young. While both of them have fairly similar musical roots they both have veered off in noticeably different directions with their work. Young is more along the lines of raw, straight up, in your face no frill blues based rock n' roll while Rose has gone a more grand and artistic route. I'd be curious to hear what exactly original material from them would sound like, all of that considered.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Brian Johnson of AC/DC May Be Able to Hear Properly Again

Former AC/DC singer Brian Johnson has been through some serious hell with the fact that hearing loss due to years of not protecting his hearing at the race track caused him to have to step down from his post in the band. Fortunately however, there is a way that he may yet be able to return.

After a big social media campaign was put into motion, Stephen Ambrose of Asius Technologies reached out to Johnson to see if he could help him with the gizmos they are working on. Johnson so far has been thoroughly impressed.

In a statement made on Ambrose's Facebook page, Johnson sings Ambrose's praises saying:

“It works. It just totally works and you can't argue with that. I was really moved and amazed to be able to hear music again like I haven't heard for several years now. I can't wait for it to be miniturised so I can use it in every situation from normal communication, going out to noisy restaurants, to performing live music on stage.”

Personally I hope that Johnson can get what he needs from Asius. It would be great to see him finish his career on his own terms rather than from health reasons like what he has been dealing with. That said though, I'm still pretty stoked about Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose temporarily taking over the post. He has done one hell of a great job and has even helped the band pull out some classics they haven't touched in YEARS. All that aside though, I think Johnson needs to be back in the band because it just wouldn't be right to permanently go on without him.

Monday, June 6, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #76

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Big Balls, by AC/DC

This is quite frankly one of the most humorous songs I've ever heard from AC/DC. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was about 13 or 14 years old at a drum lesson. My instructor played it for me and I being the immature middle schooler I was laughed my ass off. That said, it's some of Bon Scott's more clever song writing in that he makes you think he is talking about genitals when really he is merely talking about the kind of balls where people dress up and there is lots of dancing. That kind of thing was sort of Scott's niche.

2. It's Alright, by Black Sabbath

This is one of the few softer ballad moments that Black Sabbath ever had in their 4+ decade career. It's unique because rather than lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne singing drummer Bill Ward takes the mic instead. It's quite a haunting song if you just sit back, relax, and really let it envelope you. Tony Iommi does an absolutely extraordinary job playing both piano, organ, and guitar too. It's beautiful to a point where you might even shed a tear.

3. Blitzkrieg Bop, by The Ramones

This is the iconic Ramones song. In a way this is the tune that gave tons upon tons of punk bands for multiple generations the blueprint of how a punk rock song should be written. It has the energy, the punch, and the attitude. Though The Ramones might not have been the first punk rockers around, they certainly helped pave the way for the rest of the genre. Blitzkrieg Bop is a big highlight of this achievement.

4.  God of Thunder, by Kiss

This is Gene Simmons's big moment in every Kiss show. He gets to fly around all over the stage and then pretty much sing the most pulsing, pounding badass song about being a god of thunder that could ever exist. He might not be anywhere near the best vocalist in the world or even in Kiss, but that really doesn't matter during this song. It's just too cool and awesome for it to really be of any concern. Just crank this song up and pound your foot along with it.

5. Moonchild, by Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher in my opinion is one of the most under rated and overlooked blues and rock guitarists of all time. It's a big shame, really. This tune in particular shows off his more hard rock side. He showed that he could keep up with all the big boy flashy guitarists of the time while still also staying true to his own soulful roots. If you're looking for something classic rock sounding that hasn't been played to death on the radio, look no further. 


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Nikki Sixx Wants Fans to See Motley Crue's Film "The End" as a Celebration

Motley Crue has always been notorious in the media for the drama that goes on between the four of them. The coverage of the band's film The End of their final concert that includes interviews with each band member is no exception. Bassist and primary song writer Nikki Sixx isn't too pleased about this and would rather the fans see it as a celebration of the band's career.

That said however, the film does explicitly show how the members of Motley Crue have grown apart as friends/fellow musicians. At one point in The End, Sixx states that while they are not enemies they are not friends either.

Sixx doesn't want the focus to be on that however and addressed it in a recent Facebook post he made, saying:

"Motley Crüe has always been about passion. We did things our way and ended it honestly "Our Way".The press has obviously seen a screener of our last show THE END and is only using the parts of interviews that push drama for them and aren't concerned with the millions of fans and the beauty of our last show together. You can't wrap up a 35 year career with a couple sounds bites to get attention for your websites and programming. THE END is a combination of everybody's hard from production people, crews, managers,agents and the band but the most important aspect is the fans.
There is a whole story here to be told through music and lyrics. Can't wait for it to come out so we can get back to the music and show. Thank you. Nikki"

I guess we'll all just have to wait and see what The End is really like before making our own judgment calls. After all, the media always does take just the bits of things that they want in order to make a story something it isn't necessarily in order to make money. It's no secret that the Crue has had issues over the years, but there is no need to blow things out of proportion. I'm more looking forward to the film for the concert anyway. The music is what it's always been primarily about anyway.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday: American Idiot, by Green Day

By the year 2004, much of Green Day's mid-late 90's fame had for the most part declined. The band was on the verge of falling by the wayside and fading into obscurity until with some hard work and a stroke of luck, they launched a ginormous comeback with the release and tour for their award winning album American Idiot. Chocked full of chart topping hits that mainstream radio would NOT stop playing, this is the album that blasted them even further into the limelight than they had ever been.

While American Idiot still keeps much of Green Day's punk spirit alive, it differs from the band's previous works in that it has more grand studio production, more complex song structures, and more profound lyrics. The main theme was the connection between contemporary American social dysfunction and the rise of President George W. Bush. This was definitely an undertaking of massive proportions. The effort put in clearly paid off because not only were they able to successfully tell a large story through creatively written music, but they also scored multiple hits like American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Holiday, Wake Me Up When September Ends, etc. Even long suites like Jesus of Suburbia did quite well.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams is probably the one song that almost everyone knows Green Day for. It was impossible to escape it in the mid-2000's. It's kind of the anthem for lonely people/lone wolves who walk their own path in life. The verses are rather sedate and more focused on getting the message of the song across, but when the chorus comes crashing in through the speakers it makes the song pack that much more of an emotional punch. Add on that it has an incredibly catchy vocal melody and it's no wonder that it became such a big hit.

In my opinion, Jesus of Suburbia is one of the absolute greatest things Green Day has ever done. It's a nine minute song composed of five distinct segments that all flow together quite seamlessly. It's the story of an anti-hero named Jimmy who hates his town and those around him and leaves for the city to find something better. Each part represents a different part of the beginning of his journey and the music reflects that with punchy driving chords to light hearted acoustic strumming. It's one hell of a journey if you have the time to set aside for it.

American Idiot might not be considered true punk or be very favored by Green Day's older fans, but that by no means makes it any less of a fantastic rock album. It tells a compelling story, talks about big socio-political issues, and brings a whole new level of musicianship to the band's sound. It definitely brought the band into the 21st century and helped them establish a firm footing as a titanic presence in mainstream music. Though poppy in some aspects, the band still packs a serious punch and has some real balls here. Definitely worth a full listen.

American Idiot, by Green Day receives 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. American Idiot
2. Jesus of Suburbia
3. Holiday
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
5. Are We Waiting
6. St. Jimmy
7. Give Me Novacaine
8. She's a Rebel
9. Extraordinary Girl
10. Letterbomb
11. Wake Me Up When September Ends
12. Homecoming
13. Whatsername

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Deep Purple Finished Recording New Album

Titans of rock Deep Purple seem to be just about ready to give the world a fresh taste of what makes them the power house of a band they are and have been for the past 48 years. There have been rumours floating around for some time now that they have been working on a new album, but there was never anything substantial - until now.
In a recent phone interview with TASS keyboardist Don Airey confirms that the band has a new album in the can and now it is being mixed into a marketable product. He doesn't provide a whole lot of information, but it is encouraging to know that some new Deep Purple music is on the way.

Airey says:
"As far as I know, it's all recorded and now it's on the tender mercies of [producer] Bob Ezrin; he's going to mix it. I haven't been given a release date. I know nothing about that as yet. If I knew, I'd tell you, but I don't."

This will be Deep Purple's follow-up to their 2013 release Now What?!. Ezrin who has also produced artists like Kiss, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Kansas, among many others produced their previous release as well. I'm pretty pleased that Ezrin is back behind the mixing console for this album as well because he really knows his stuff when it comes to producing. He did one hell of a job for Now What?! and other albums he has worked on. I'm pretty stoked for a new Deep Purple album too, even if guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboardist Jon Lord won't be on it.