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Album Reviews artists

London INVADES…..PALMA VIOLETS…..Number TWO

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It’s time to do a 180. That’s the title of a supreme British Punk Record for the year 2013. The album title is based on the studio in Lambeth, London where the band tends to perform. Palma Violets are a pretty radical group. They are the first of two British bands that made it to the top of my countdown! What does that tell you? I LOVE British bands! They just know how to do it for me. For the fans of bands like THE CLASH, look no further. So these guys are named after an old-fashioned British candy, apparently. The lads of this gigantically buzzed-about indie-rock four-piece from southeast London look like they blew their first paycheck on facials and cigarettes—so far. But Palma Violets have a great sound all of their own, even if it has been pieced together from their favorite records. But that’s ok. The band’s debut single, “Best of Friends,” featured an awesome and stylish organ, plus loud drum pounding and background shouting that recalls the Who or something that begs for a round of drinks and earplugs. Animal like noises blast at times. I even hear a bit of Syd’s Piper in it. No matter. The songs get their rugged physical strength and vocals from the likes of Nick Cave and surprisingly the deep and fantastic Joe Strummer. Give this video a view and a listen! Modern Rock to the MAX Baby!!!! It’s pure brilliance!

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Album Reviews artists

Coming in 3rd place….ARCADE FIRE

ARCADE

REFLEKTOR

Who are we?
Where are we going?
I am someone who is distracted
Aren’t we all distracted?

Attention Deficit Disorder
is a modern day problem
But when it comes to music like this
None of it matters anymore

It’s one of Indie Rock’s finest moments
with a full spectrum of music influences
Rock
Reggae
Folk
Jazz
Pop
Punk meets Gary Glitter

Now I admit that I just wasn’t always a fan of Arcade Fire. Not sure why. I simply wasn’t feeling the grooves before this DOUBLE album came out in October. For two months straight I have been playing this record repeatedly. So many touching songs. There are numerous dancing moments that suddenly get shattered into a million disco pieces smothered by hardcore punk and then swallowed whole by Bob Marley’s spiritual side. It can be silly at times when this Canadian group speaks of Joan of Arc in a Doo Whop style. Boy its just all over the place. It never gets boring. There are live induced moments that seem reminiscent of old radio programs at times and then it just takes off into these cosmic space directions. In a strange way I am reminded of Pink Floyd’s The wall mixed with a jazzy disco groove.

Perhaps to say that there is a U2, Radiohead, Neil Young and Velvet Underground vibe all mixed up on this record would not do it justice. Because its a double album, one could say that this is their ultimate concept album like so many others have done before. But its fun to take risks and let it all go and see what the masses have to say. After all we only have one life to live. Embrace this video below…..of the song…Afterlife. You just might get BLOWN AWAY!!!

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Uncategorized

I won’t hesitate. Nine Inch Nails is number SIX

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Trent Reznor is a genius. Yet he comes from a small town in Pennsylvania and his parents got divorced when he was really young and he grew up with his grandparents. So he had a somewhat different upbringing. When he was only five years old, he started to play the piano and then down the road he started messing around with the saxophone and then he got really into computer generated music. Trent is a multi-instrumentalist and has a lot going on in his head. For him, the music he has created since 1988, its all about an escape. Escape from reality, a normal life and the celebrity world that he never really felt was kind to him. A lot of his lyrics deal with torture, submissiveness and being dominated. A sense of danger seemed to encompass the world of Nine Inch Nails, his industrial rock group. Reznor started producing soundtracks and really, he became this sort of “mood composer.”

In the studio, Trent lays down all of these digital tracks with guitars, drum loops, computer tricks and a techno vibe that definitely creates a dancing yet ambient sound of regret and pain. However dark you might think it sounds, his stuff is so catchy. He has a band but they only play live with him on stage. Otherwise, all of these noises on the albums pretty much just come from his creative mind and body. It has been his responsibility for the direction that this band followed over the years. He is aggressive yet he is passionate. Several albums over the years have defined his sound. Pretty Hate Machine with its “Head Like A Hole” anthem or The Downward Spiral’s infamous recordings at a house where Sharon Tate was murdered all seem to sum up the kinds of atmosphere associated with that of the Nine Inch Nails sound.

NIИ is the popular symbol, by the way. There is no true meaning as to the name or what it means. Only rumors have circulated over the years. So this album, Hesitation Marks, truly is a brand new music moment for me. I grew up in the high school and college years always listening to NIИ and wearing hats and shirts with that symbol. It was all about a gothic, grungy, indie and hipster kind of fashion era of my life. But with this new release, it is like Trent flipped everything in his life upside down on its back and emits the same noise but with the opposite feelings about his former drug and alcohol usage. He is married now with two children and he is sober. However those dark sounds and dismal lyrics are still present.

The “hesistation marks” title suggests that of someone who contemplated taking his own life but only leaving “cutting traces” as a reminder but never going through the actual deed of ending his life. He must live with the pain but use it as energy into a positive direction with a digital masterpiece of a record that does everything its supposed to do. It is a way to get all of these real emotions out there in a vulnerable sort of way without fear or remorse and just let it be. I have attached a new video with insane imagery and a layer of sounds that truly define him as an artist before (pre-dating today) and Trent’s music now as a homage to himself and to his fans that no mater what you go through in life that as long as you’re not compromising your true feelings then people will still love you, no matter what. Good job Mr Reznor. Thanks for staying with me for all of these years.

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Album Reviews artists

Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9

…..that was a Beatles reference (from The White Album)

Anyway

ARTIST = Neko Case

ALBUM = The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight…

neko neko

So, who is she?
Why do I like her so much?
Why is her new album Number Nine on my list???

She has the voice of an angel
Much revival enthusiasm with arresting beauty
Her inspiration comes from respected artists
like Loretta Lynne, Hank Williams and Tom Waits
She’s embraced country music but
truly influenced by David Lynch Films
and unusual noir styles
She’s incorporated dreamy imagery
of the rights of animals
love, loss and what it means to live in America

So the blue spotlights flicker on
We hear the noises of Submarine sonar pings
Fog fills of the stage
The crowd goes wild
Much applause
Our red-headed hero is ready to jam
She’s ready to expose her soul
Her melancholy mixed with humor
It’s just her way of entertaining
Aggressive guitars
Yet laid back
-me and my words

Her stuff is truly a nice blend
of Indie, Alternative, Rock and Country
One of the most stunning moments is a gorgeous acapella
done by her and co-singer Kelly Hogan.
Shocking language
just their two pleasant voices
in this abstract location
just made me realize why I love her so much
No fear to express her and dear friend’s voice
in an honest and real way.

Thanks for the inspiration Neko

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Memories Uncategorized

Cranberries? I thought they were a fruit!

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The Cranberries are actually a band from Ireland. They are to the 90’s what bands like, The Police were to the 80’s. Something brilliant about them set the mood for this unique generation I belong to. They entered my life during senior year in high school. I wanted to experience love in many ways and this song, Linger, evoked that for me. Dolores O’Riordan is an outstanding singer. Her voice sends chills down my spine. Soothing, deep, passionate and even frustration comes from her voice. She is also a very stunning looking woman.

So let me take you back to 1993.  I had my first car, a red Dodge Omni. A piece of crap is what it was but it was my first car. But while taking drives around the block, across the river in town, or out of town to an ice cream stand with friends in my car I discovered this song…Linger. What an awesome experience it was hearing this play on the radio for a 17 year old kid with no direction. But he knew one thing for sure, this song rocked.

The first time I remember hearing it was at a party after a high school dance at a friend’s house. A bunch of us were sitting around talking and laughing. Some were drinking. (I wasn’t really one of those people drinking on that night….cuz you know, I was underage) It was dark and it was late. Someone brought out a small stereo and played The Cranberries.  I paid particular attention to the violins, the peaceful sounds of the guitars, the meaning it had for me in that moment and the beautiful sound of Dolores’ voice. What a voice. “Do you have to let it linger?” I got in trouble for being out late and not calling my parents to let them know where I was but I’ll never forget my first encounter with that magical song.

Why was it magical? Why did I turn the volume up in my stupid car every time I heard it? Quite simply, the desire for love found me. I had the urge to scream to the top of my lungs! Poetry entered my brain that made me feel alive. Passion was something that I finally felt. I would carry this feeling with me for almost 20 years. Wow! That song made a difference in my life. Go find it and listen to it! It blows me away every time I hear Linger.

APPENDIX

The Cranberries are still together in 2013. They have had a number of hit singles over the years. They released a brand new album and continue to go on tour.

Fond memories.

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Off Topic

Nostalgic Evening Under The Stars….THE DRIVE-IN MOVIES!!!!

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I’m at the drive-in with my wife. We’re at the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago. It’s a classic and has been around for several decades. This place is one of the few remaining in Illinois. We decided to take a trip down memory lane and relive our youth from the 1980’s. We pulled up to the booth earlier to get our tickets. The lady saw me hand her a credit card and was like, “We only take cash. Sorry” in a concerned tone for us. I did not realize that they do not take credit cards. Ooops! She suggested that we drive a few blocks away to an ATM in order to get cash so we can still enjoy the movies. So we did a U-Turn, pulled out of there as the dust and smoke spread from the gravel road as we peeled away! I was frantic! You would have thought I was on 10 cups of espresso! Although, I did have a couple of coffees earlier. But, nonetheless, I was panicked and freaking out! So off we went to the ATM.

Then we finally got back after the 15 minute delay. We made our way to our parking spot which took me a few extra minutes because I was trying to get the “right” spot! Got to be suited perfectly. I hurried out of the car to set up the lawn chairs. Everybody has their chairs either in front of their car or behind them if they backed in their space. Tailgating of course is an option too. The gravel is everywhere. The chairs are everywhere. There’s a little puppy on a leash off in the distance. They’ve go classic 50’s and 60’s music playing over the P.A. system. People are throwing footballs around. It’s kind of funny and nostalgic all in one.

You got to love the tall white screen projector up ahead, far in the front. No obstructed views, which is good. This truly is a thing of the past. Even some classic convertibles start pulling in. There’s the infamous snack bar that’s sort of recessed like a dugout off in the distance behind us. The sun is slowly setting to the west. The portable radios can be attached to your window. Just cranking the volume is good enough. All of the speakers scattered around the gravel parking lot echoes enough to hear what’s going on. Plus you can tune your radio station to 88.5 FM and listen to the films on your car stereo. I am just sitting here waiting for the movie trailers to begin.

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It’s the middle of August. It’s fairly cool outside. Not freezing but it’s certainly not blazing hot either. Just cool enough yet just warm enough for I can sit here in my jeans, t-shirt and a light jacket and I’m just fine. We may have to eventually climb into the car once the temps drop and the bugs come out. But for now, it’s all-good. It’s all right because now Booker T and the MG’s are playing their famous song, “Green Onions.” It’s good to see all ages here. You got ten-year-old kids walking around. There are people our age in there 30’s reliving their own youth. Plenty of people our parent’s age doing the same thing. We kind of have all of the age groups represented here to recollect this fond memory of drive-in movies. A dying breed. These outdoor theaters may stick around for a while. But I don’t know for sure.

As my wife sits next to me in her chair, she has her sketchbook on her lap as she doodles and tangles away some splendid artwork. Denny loves to draw. She achieves Zen from doing this. But it’s so nice to sit here in front of the car and relax as the daylight fades and watch people walk around and go get snacks and just simply walk around to “walk around.” That’s what we like to do. Plus its good exercise. Good way to stretch the legs. Be active. Socialize. Chat. Catch up. No booze allowed, of course. But there are always a few who sneak it in. I haven’t seen any myself but it wouldn’t be that hard to slip it in your car and take a swig here and there. But that’s not why I’m here. I think other people are here to just escape. Perhaps some of the kids in high school are here to make out in the backseat of their car.

I will admit those speaker devices are very interesting and I have no idea how old they are. It would be interesting to research that fact. It’s sorta like going to the carhop where you roll your window down. The girl on roller skates brings out your food on a tray and kinda hangs it off your window. Clearly the device is intended to clip on your window as you listen to the film. It’s something they have definitely retained here at the Cascade and they certainly refused to part with them at all for they are here in abundant quantities. All of this instrumental, pop radio from the baby boom era like what you would hear at the diners is a nice treat for my ears. It’s a fitting touch.

Now they do play new movies here. Our double feature here tonight is KICK ASS 2 and ELYSIUM. Both of which seem quite favorable action and sci-fi flicks! I would imagine that some of these places have those #throwback nights. I don’t know for sure, but its certainly a #throwback environment. The mood is evoked, even with a digital projector. Sorry, no film reels or cigarette burns here. You get a better high definition for the outdoor viewings. The time now is seven minutes after eight. The anticipation is starting to get real. I recommend this kind of a movie experience for everyone.

Time to enjoy to movies!!!!

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Playlists

My “33” Favorite Songs From The 1950’s

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Ahhh yes the 1950’s. My parents grew up. Music really started to take shape. Rock N Roll was born. I got exposed to this culture especially the music when I grew up in the 1980’s. Why? Because of oldies radio stations and cassette tapes my dad played in his Ford pickup truck. So what’s so special about the 1950’s?

Rock n’ roll was a creation of the Fifties; bringing with it, the attitudes of teenage rebellion that still exist today. It was during the Fifties that the Beat poets (like Allen Ginsberg) let loose a radical literary howl against boring mainstream culture. And it was during the Fifties that tons of radical technological innovations—even beginning with the computer—began to shift a change the way we were used to living our lives……forever. Dramatic changes in technology, transportation, culture, race relations, and social structures all came heavy like a ton of bricks during the Fifties, and all of these things left their mark on our modern world.

The decade was, more than we usually imagine, a time of change. Radical cars, fashions and Cherry Cokes. But Music did it the most, for me.

In the early days of what is referred to as “rock and roll” styles of the late 1940s and early 1950s, either a piano or saxophone would be the lead instrument, but they eventually got replaced by guitars in the middle to late 1950s. The beat is basically a blues rhythm. Snare drums became the “back beat.” So many styles evolved from this simple twist and “shout.”

So now I present to you the 33 great artists and their essential songs. I choose 33 because it represents the “33 & 1/3 rpms” of a record. Just being clever. The artists and songs were all chosen primarily on my personal favorites but I also incorporated the trends, chart positions, popularity and reviews in various magazines. So what you are about to read is a collection from the true representations of these amazing artists. Feel free to go to Youtube and see and hear these great songs. Here’s the list (not ranked….no particular order):

(THESE ARE THE TRUE MALT SHOP MEMORIES)

1 Chantilly Lace Big Bopper
2 Rock Around The Clock Bill Haley & The Comets
3 Who Do You Love Bo Diddley
4 That’ll Be The Day Buddy Holly & The Crickets
5 Blue Suede Shoes Carl Perkins
6 Tequila The Champs
7 Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry
8 Yakety Yak The Coasters
9 At The Hop Danny & The Juniors
10 A Teenager In Love Dion & The Belmonts
11 There Goes My Baby The Drifters
12 Summertime Blues Eddie Cochran
13 Heartbreak Hotel Elvis
14 Wake Up Little Susie The Everly Brothers
15 Blueberry Hill Fats Domino
16I Only Have Eyes For You The Flamingos
17 Why Do Fools Fall In Love Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
18 Be-Bop-A-Lula Gene Vincent
19 Please, Please, Please James Brown
20 Great Balls Of Fire Jerry Lee Lewis
21 I Walk The Line Johnny Cash
22 Greenback Dollar The Kingston Trio
23 Rumble Link Wray & His Ray Men
24 Long Tall Sally Little Richard
25 Sincerely The Moonglows
26 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes The Platters
27 What’d I Say, Pts. 1 & 2 Ray Charles
28 Poor Little Fool Ricky Nelson
29 Donna Ritchie Valens
30 You Send Me Sam Cooke
31 Shout Isley brothers (1959….most people think 60’s….it was not)
32 Etta James – The Wallflower (Dance with me Henry)
33 Screaming Jay Hawkins- I Put a Spell On You

So there ya go. I don’t have the patience to post sound clips. But the internet is a wonderful thing. Feel free to contest what I posted and/or offer something I totally missed. But I am pretty sure I have most of my bases covered. Comments are still welcomed.

I leave you with this……….cool cars right?

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Categories
Album Reviews

Be sure that you’re in the right mental state to handle this

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Have you ever hear of THE RESIDENTS?

I always wanted to hear Gomer Pyle sing through a megaphone! Ahhhhh…….yes!

This avante garde group formed in the early seventies. Their album cover of MEET THE RESIDENTS is a parody of The Beatles famous record. They sound like nothing else I have ever heard of before.

I guess you could compare them to the likes of Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart. Perhaps some strange jazz compositions as well. Vaudeville, carnivals, weird voices, rock n roll noises and disorienting sound effects all make up this art form.

Just like The Gorillaz, this group of musicians keeps their identities mysterious. They wear disguises to maintain their anonymity.

So on the first album (of an amazing 60 altogether), known as MEET THE RESIDENTS, there is random piano strikings. It all sounds sloppy and even amateur but on purpose. Somehow their riffs are catchy while annoying too. At first I was confused but somehow became hooked on their stuff.

It’s really weird and playful with silly dialogue

It’s collage art but with various noises instead of pictures pasted together.

It’s genius
it’s mood altering

it’s the first record in a series of my future postings

I’ll give you a clue and requirements of what I consider to be weird, obscure, talented, classic and bizarre.

My criteria for excellence is quite simple. Two concepts. One is…..Many artists invent a new language for music and emotion OR the second…..artists use that language in an emotionally powerful way. The greatest albums do both!

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Album Reviews

Flashback to the land of Spiders!

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Spiderland? What the hell is that? In 1991, a record from a band called Slint landed on the shelves of record stores representing the underground scene. It is a real celebrated album. Spiderland opened doors to a great progression in music and reinvented rock without leaving its primary components behind. Brian McMahon’s voice is a balance of grungy growls and soft whispering with narration. This creates a sublime atmosphere. A cold and dark mood surrounds the record. Actually, it is really intense, sometimes appearing to arrive at the doorsteps of suicidal states of major depression. I would not be surprised if some of the guys in the group had to be committed during the recording sessions. When I listen to the music of Slint, its like I’m floating downstream and being told a story without a happy ending. There are disturbing aspects of adolescent life that are painfully exposed through Brian’s vocals.
But, these guys were actually pretty simple fellas at the time. Upon listening to the first couple of tracks, you realize that it is opening up in a calm environment but slowly progressing towards a shady and swampy era. Guitar relationships and distortions create a strange and yet original effect. I swear these instruments literally sound as if spiders or creatures from the deep are awakening and actually crawling all over the strings and amplifiers. The sound and tone of Spiderland is slowly building towards a climax with heartache and bruises along the way until it reaches it’s energizing finale. Most certainly, the final track entitled, “Good Morning Captain,” is the album at its peak. It is their most well known composition too. Every time I hear it, I get chills thinking about the loss of friends in a terrible event. The combination of a two guitar approach with creepy narration (no singing) create beautiful  and near perfect ambiance. All of this brings us to the final explosion, with a fierce scream of “I’m in hell, I’m in hell, I miss you…”

The recording, in general, makes the listener aware of difference in our world. The band creates an extremely depressing atmosphere with subtle guitar riffs. The sound is trembling, tense and nerve racking. I feel like I am getting close to the edge but not quite going over. It is mind blowing to grasp that four young kids had an amazing visionary construction of rock, opening doors to bands like Helmet, Tool and well much of the post-rock scene. I implore all grunge enthusiasts out there to find your way to a mom and pop record shop. While you’re there, grab a copy of Slint’s Spiderland on cd, vinyl or even on a cassette tape. Play it loud too. This is going to resonate with you for a long time.


Categories
Album Reviews

What the Hell is an Idler Wheel?

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So what did I think when I listened to this one?

First off, don’t listen to the skeptics or the folks who listened to this album one time and somehow had an epiphany in just a few minutes that this album sucks and is not what they wanted Fiona Apple to do for them. This record will not instantly satisfy you. It truly ages like a fine wine. For some she is an acquired taste. Her voice is crystal clear on the production. It feels like she is pouring out her vocals while sitting in my living room. Her voice and piano alone could carry an album. On this record, it is essentially those two elements with some obscure jazz drumming and random noises, but it works beautifully.

This is not an over-produced “cookie-cutter” record to cater to the silly and simple-minded music listeners out there. This is a work of “art” that drips like lava from Fiona’s heart. It’s disappointing to hear from the supposed “fans” who do not have the patience to give a record more than one spin.  No….instead they’ll jump to snap judgement…and then begin to try to rain on my parade, someone who actually wanted to pick this one up because I am brave enough to take a gamble like this. But it was soooooo worth it! Fiona is a raw talent and not your typical polished studio musician.

After my first listen (while doing the dishes) or two (working on paper work at my desk), I knew this was completely different from previous releases, going back to the “Criminal” and “Shadowboxer” days from the 90’s. After giving it three spins today, it really hit me that this is Fiona vomiting her emotions out like never before. She is really letting loose and her voice sounds better than ever.

The writing and creativity is excellent. I’m not going to go into a song by song breakdown like everybody likes to do. That’s saved as a special treat for the “real fans” to experience on their own. I’m here to say that this is some of the most glowing and emotional work I have heard from this beautiful yet violent and passionate musician…but it takes a little time and “patience” to learn. And once you do, it is an amazing album where she really lets her inner self right out there. Quite an intimate record. She has truly grown by leaps and bounds and this record is a huge step forward.

The complete title is called, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

She’s a whimsical young lady and I am glad she takes her time recording new material. Afterall, it’s been 7 years since her last one. And yet, we patiently waited for her best record ever and perhaps one of the best releases of 2012. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this appear in next years Grammy’s.

In my opinion, it’s a masterpiece that resonates and will be talked about for a long time. Give it at least two listens, you just might agree with me?