Monday, December 7, 2009

Black Diamond Heavies

Black Diamond Heavies
Alive as Fuck
buy the album here

By now, most of you should know who in the hell the Black Diamond Heavies are, being that they are quite possibly one of the biggest and most electrifying forces to be reckoned with on the rock and roll circuit today. They are the messiahs of all that is loud and rowdy as they bring the good news to the masses with their own blend of "punk ass blues", causing heavy alcohol consumption and an ass load of sweat all around the world. As it stands now, the Black Diamond Heavies will be our exclamation point to the 2009 year in music with their latest release, Alive As Fuck.
A strong point for the Heavies has always been the fact that they can pull off live material that far surpasses what they can lay down in the studio. Don't get me wrong, the studio albums are phenomenal, however it would be nearly impossible to recreate what these two, yes I said two, lads can bring forth on a dim lit stage in a smoky bar. The thick sludge of emotion, grit, and soul that spills from their gear out onto the crowd is full of road tested material that blends everything that is good about Muddy Waters, Tom Waits, and Mahalia Jackson if they all joined together with the MC5 backing them up. With two members, the Black Diamond Heavies bring a bigger sound than any other band that boasts five or six members and continue to push the boundaries as far as what a drumkit, Fender Rhodes (run through a Big Muff mind you), and Hammond organ can do. Alive As Fuck is the majority of material from a live show that was recorded on July 24th in Covington, Kentucky at the Covington Masonic Lodge. This album finds the Black Diamond Heavies with their eye on the prize and the pedal to the metal, giving the crowd amped up and energetic versions of songs from both previous studio albums including "White Bitch", "Take a Ride", and "Fever in My Blood." The band sounds tighter than ever, John Wesley Myers' voice is as mean as a pole cat, and the groove seems to be growing into its own beast as Myers and drummer Van Campbell continue to spread the word of what might possibly be the best live band in the world.
Thank God that the Black Diamond Heavies and Alive records have given us an early Christmas gift, making sure that 2009 won't fizzle out but end with a damn punch in the face. Alive As Fuck is the perfect stocking stuffer for those who love blues, punk, and just plain old rock and roll in its rawest form. Try and keep still while listening to this one. My bet is that you won't be able to. -Andrew Bryant

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Del McCoury live instore this Friday

Live in-store Friday, November 20th at noon

Vince Gill says it simply, and maybe best: "I'd rather hear Del McCoury sing ‘Are You Teasing Me' than just about anything." For fifty years, Del's music has defined authenticity for hard core bluegrass fans-count Gill among them-as well as a growing number of fans among those only vaguely familiar with the genre. And while the box set Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury, like its distilled companion, By Request provides an opportunity to look back on a unique legacy, it's also one that Del McCoury's rolling past with a wave and a grin and some of the best music he's ever made.

"Del epitomizes the bluegrass musician from the previous era, and also this one," says acclaimed resonator guitarist Jerry Douglas, a member of Alison Krauss + Union Station and producer of several of McCoury's 90s albums. "You can finally make a living playing bluegrass, and a large part of it is because of Del McCoury; he became like the new Bill Monroe..."

Del McCoury will be performing at the Bijou at 8:00pm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Skeletonwitch-Breathing the Fire

Breathing the Fire
purchase here

Whenever a curious customer requests something new and exciting from the world of thrash/death/black metal, I always head straight for Skeletonwitch. Each and every time, these individuals are satisfied and join the growing masses who are singing this band's praises and spreading their music like wildfire. Hailing from Athens, Ohio, they are undoubtedly one of the strongest heavy outfits on the market, with a sound that transfers flawlessly from the recorded material to the live setting, creating one of the most outstanding musical experiences that one can find these days. In fact, for romantic weekend getaways, my wife and I opt away from the spa retreats and cozy mountain inns in order to travel to see the mighty Skeletonwitch anywhere and everywhere we can. Trust me, they are just that good.
With their new album, Breathing the Fire, Skeletonwitch brings forth a sound that expands their already massive brutality, at the same time remaining in the same stride that all fans have come to love. Their sound IS brutal, but not too overwhelming. Like the first album, Breathing the Fire is loaded with epic heavy metal that will satisfy fans ranging from Iron Maiden to Venom, to even Gorgoroth. With this record, Skeletonwitch aren't quite thrash, nor are they straight ahead, meat-head death metal or corpse paint-wearing, unholy black metal. They are simply a great, great heavy metal band. Vocalist Chance Garnette delivers both the growls and the throaty rasp that serves as your master of ceremonies during this musical journey. It is grand to hear a vocalist today who can do both well, giving the low rumble without the mind-numbing, Cookie Monster vocals entirely and the higher, faster register without losing all that he is saying. Trust me, the lyrics are meant to be heard on this one. Guitar wise, both Nate "N8 Feet Under" Garnette and Scott "Scunt" Hedrick pull off the double lead lines smoothly and lay tons of meaty, tasteful licks into the mix, keeping those long-haired heads bobbing. Both N8 and Scunt have a great ear for original hooks and appropriate placement, thus this guitar work and harmonies will have you humming these songs for days. The rhythm section brings the horsepower throughout the entire record and is the driving force behind these new songs. Drummer Derrick "Mullet Chad" Nau is a beast, whose double kick drum work ventures far beyond 32nd and 64th notes blast beats, giving a great sense of groove to the low end with tons of half and double times shifts, triplets, and straight 4/4 count single grooves. His tom fills and snare attacks set up the different tempos perfectly and can turn the mood of a song on a dime. Bass wise, Evan "Loosh" Linger reminds me a great deal of a player much like Steve Harris who can and does hold his own with the shredding guitars, while keeping things filled in down below. For me, highlights on this record include the uber epic, "Stand Fight and Die" and dark sounding "Released from the Catacombs" and "Gorge Upon My Soul."
Breathing the Fire is the total package, complete with great and synergistic artwork, lyrics, music, and attitude . From front to back, beginning to end, it is a strong album and another beacon added to the fog of heavy music in the future. Skeletonwitch is just getting started and the world should beware!-Andrew Bryant

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Left Lane Cruiser All You Can Eat

Left Lane Cruiser
All You Can Eat
purchase album here

Left Lane Cruiser is the real deal. They are blues at its best, filth at its finest, with just two men who are evoking enough inner demons to populate an entire circle of hell. Raising a ruckus, punching throats, and blackening eyes all the way from Ft. Wayne Indiana, Left Lane Cruiser makes a bigger and louder racket than most five-man operations, never once sacrificing songwriting or musicianship for the sake of bombasity.
Their third album, All You Can Eat, released on mighty Alive Records, is a great reality check for 2009; a raw, unabashed boogie and boot-stomp feel where everything sounds better when turned up loud, with a glass full of elixir. Deemed as "punk blues" by many, LLC lays it all out on the table from the word go with this release, with some of the most intense, in-your-face, and aggressive music out there today. With guns ablaze, guitarist/vocalist Frederick "Joe" Evans IV and drummer/noise-maker Brenn "Sausage Paw" Beck roll out of the gate with "Crackalacka" featuring squealing, overdriven slide guitar lines and a stuttered, "train" drum beat. Sending it straight to the bayou, "Ol' Fashioned" finds Evans falling back to his trusty old International resonator guitar with the perfect soundtrack for a hot and sticky, front-porch sittin', sweet tea-drinkin' southern Mississippi evening. Another highlight is "Black Lung" which takes a song that is somewhat reminiscent of the early Black Keys work, adds two tons of smoke, grit, and dirt to the mix, and brings forth a sound that is much thicker and heavier than any material that the Keys ever could imagine.
It's always great to see bands like this still releasing great music in a time such as this when laptops and ironic, hipster haircuts are flooding the mainstream of American music. Make no mistake of it, I doubt that you will ever see these boys in girl jeans and pastels, collaborating with Danger Mouse or Justin Timberlake. I suspect that they will keep getting meaner and nastier every time we see them. Thank God for that! -Andrew Bryant

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nathaniel Mayer Why Won't You Let Me Be Black?

Nathaniel Mayer
Why Won't You Let Me Be Black?
purchase album

If I was a bettin' man, I could make a wager that most lovers of R&B music haven't the slightest notion as to who Nathaniel Mayer is. A cult icon and legend in the garage and soul communities around his home in Detroit, Mayer's biggest break came in 1962 at the age of 18 with "Village of Love." With a gritty,gravel throated voice and a raucous stage presence, his name remained in the underground rock and soul scenes throughout the country, only occasionally releasing an album on small, obscure record labels. As he reached his sixties, Mayer began to make more music and tour more frequently, eventually signing a record deal with Alive Records, a perfect fit for his eclectic sound and appeal. Before his death in 2008, Mayer and many of the Alive alumni, including members of Outrageous Cherry, The Black Keys, and the Dirtbombs, booked two sessions that would indeed be has last. Alive released the first of these installments, Why Don't You Give it To Me?, in 2007 and now has given us the second.
Like the first session, Why Won't You Let Me Be Black? is not crisp, clean, or polished. This session captured exactly what Nathaniel Mayer was all about: the moment and the emotion. The production for Why Won't You Let Me Be Black? is extremely lo-fi with rough edges, giving this album a laid back, improvisational sound. The contributing musicians match the grit and sass that literally drenches every syllable that emits from Nathaniel Mayer's mouth, making this album a statement in raw emotion where what you hear is what you get. When his voice wains and stretches to finish a line or hit a certain note, it strikes a chord deep within and you know exactly what is on his mind and in his heart at that particular moment. Musically, things are sparse and never overpower Mayer's vocal delivery. The right touches are added in just the right places whether it be simplistic percussive rhythms or an almost out-of-tune upright piano, exhibiting the strength and quality of musicians on hand. On a more somber note, knowing that this will be the last we will hear from Nathaniel Mayer makes this album even more of an emotional blast than it already is. -Andrew Bryant

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mindy Smith-Stupid Love

you can purchase it here
or come visit us live and in person
2615 Chapman Hwy

Monday, July 20, 2009

come see Copeland for free

Saturday July 25th at 3 pm Copeland will be playing a live acoustic set in the store!
Come on down and meet the band

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Astra The Weirding

The Weirding
purchase album here

Every year there is a record that comes out of nowhere that absolutely floors me. Several years ago it was Witchcraft with their self-titled monster, resurrecting the classic Black Sabbath and early Pentagram sound and last year it was fellow Swedes, Graveyard doing nearly the same thing with even longer hair and an artillery of Orange amplifiers. With artists such as these, I was almost sure that anything I was going to go mad for in the future would indeed be from Europe, where musicians seem to do things the way they did when rock and roll was at the top of its game in the late 60's and early 70's. However, this year you can raise the flags, blare the trumpets, and bang a gong because 2009's discovery is actually from the good ol' United States of America. Hailing from the west coast of course (San Diego to be exact), Astra with their debut, The Weirding on Rise Above Records has taken listeners by storm and sent everyone into a frenzy to get their hands on a copy of this album. In fact, if you are at all curious at the end of this review, you should call and reserve your copy, because as soon as a shipment comes in, they are long gone by the end of the day.
Labeling Asta's sound as vintage would indeed be an understatement. Unlike a great deal of the bands out there that exhibit a retro vibe, Astra makes their own distinct music and doesn't borrow too heavily from any of their diverse range of influences, which include Meddle-era Pink Floyd, early Genesis, and King Crimson, all cloaked in the darkness of the Black, both Sabbath and Widow. Recorded and produced by the band themselves in their own Black Widow Studios in the Autumn of 2008, this album is arranged absolutely beautifully and evokes the rich instumental tone and song craft that only could have been captured by Astra in their own element. With five members all of the same mindset, Astra brings forth a sound that ventures far beyond the typical effect-laiden guitars, bombastic drums, and organ swells, complete with Moog electronics, Arp Odyssey synthesizers, mellotron, flute. and echeplex. The opening track, "The Rising of the Black Sun" serves as more of an intro of sorts and sets the tone of the album with windchimes, cymbal screams and scrapes, flute trills, and various guitar drones that build and expand into a creshendo that results in a driving tempo complete with a frantic rhythm section underneath soaring guitar harmonies and thick layers of synthesizer. Following is the title track to the album, which clocks in at over fifteeen minutes and is arguably the strongest song on the record. Both Richard Vaughan and Conor Riley's vocals harmonize perfectly overtop of the big, but never overpowering wall of instruments and sound eerily close to the tambor of David Gilmore and Rick Wright on Pink Floyd's epic, "Echoes", mixed at times with just a smidgen of Ozzy Osbourne's vocals circa Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Other highlights include "The River Under" which sounds as though it could have been plucked from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and the seventeen minute instrumental beast "Ouroboros", also known as the bastard child of King Crimson, Goblin, and Zombi.
What is most impressive with this paticular album is the strong attention that was paid to the detail and dynamics of the songs themselves, never getting too out control and leaving the space in between the cracks in order to keep the instrumentation from getting too busy. At the same time, Astra does an incredible job at keeping things fresh and avoiding redundantcy which is of immense importance on this album that falls just short of the eighty, yes 80, minute mark. Though a long record, it flows together perfectly and can hold the listener's attention through its entirety. The Weirding is without a doubt one of the strongest records for 2009 and a great introduction to Astra, a band that is no doubt just getting started. -Andrew Bryant

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dead Weather

the Dead Weather Listening Party!!

Tuesday July 14th - Noon
Free Pizza and Sodas!!

Jack White's most recent project, the Dead Weather's story began when another of White's groups, the Raconteurs, was completeing a US tour with the Kills. White was ailing from bronchitis, so Kills singer Alison Mosshart sang most of his songs. After the tour ended,White and Mosshart enlisted Raconteurs bassist, Jack Lawrence, and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist, Dean Fertita, and the Dead Weather was born...

After releasing two very successful vinyl singles the Dead Weather's debut album Horehound is due out next week. Come see what all the fuss is about next Tuesday, July 14 at Noon. The Disc Exchange will provide some refreshments so come spend your lunch hour with us and sample Horehound, from the Dead Weather. Horehound will of course be ON SALE...

Brian Olive

Brian Olive
Brian Olive
purchase here

Brian Olive's solo debut, released on the all-mighty Alive Records, is a warm, fuzzy adventure in the world of vintage, psychedelic soul. Part Memphis rhythm and blues, part British psychedelia from the Nuggets era of the 1960's, this album is the perfect complement to your summer merriment. Recorded and mixed by Brian himself on analog tape, this album screams a throwback sound along the lines of such artists today as A Band of Bees and The Blue Van. This album sounds so vintage that I can almost guarantee you that, like myself, you will have to keep checking the production and release dates to make sure that you haven't stumbled upon some long lost gem from yesterday. Olive sings, plays a multitude of instruments (guitar, keys, and saxophones to be exact), and drowns it all in thick, syrupy reverb that alleviates any of the modern era from seeping through. Joining him on this musical kaleidoscope are a revered group of musicians including Jared McKinley and Craig Fox of the Greenhornes, Mike Weinel of the Heartless Bastards, and Dan Allaire of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Opening the album with "Ida Red", Olive and company leave absolutely no wonder as to what kind of album that we are in store for; fuzzy vocals, background harmonies, and acoustic guitar rhythm lines that are eerily similar to the banjo attack of the Monks. Following suit, Brian brings several other mid-tempo garage numbers to the table including "The Day is Coming" and "Killing Stone." Shaking things up a bit, Olive and company add some blistering soul numbers to the pot with the Beale Street beat of "Strealin" and the open, celebratory choruses of "Jubilee Line" that could have graced the Stax label many years ago. Though one of the softer selections on the album, "Echoing Light" is the icing on the cake. The slow, acoustic subtleties, wind chimes, and percussive brush work make me want to fire up the tiki-torches and sip on some umbrella drinks out in the garden. What more could we ask for in a summer time album? -Andrew Bryant

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunn O)))

Sunn 0)))
Monoliths and Dimensions
Purchase album here

When it comes to Sunn 0))), we usually know what we are getting even before the first notes of the albums transpire. These kings of black-cloaked drone play heavy music and do so in two fashions, very slow and extremely loud. On nearly every recording, Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley unleash a sub-sonic attack on the eardrums with notes so low that we, as mere mortals, never knew they existed, that is until the fillings in our back molars rattle loose and our heads throb from the reverberation. Though not every one's cup of tea, Sunn 0))) has developed a very strong following that spans across the spectrum from lovers of heavy rock and metal, to noise, to experimental jazz nerds.
With their new album and seventh release, Monoliths and Dimensions, Anderson and O'Malley expand the Sunn 0))) sound and add more dimensions to the overall picture with the addition of strings, brass, and vocal arrangements. Not that they are changing much about their sound or getting soft on us however, because this is most definitely a Sunn 0))) album in all its glory, complete with a massive sound and dark overtones. Opening the album up in great form, "Agartha" features the classic Anderson and O'Malley calling card: down-tuned chords that seem to last for an eternity and are best consumed at an extremely high volume setting. This foreboding tale of the legendary city that lies at the Earth's core, features Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar with a primal monologue that seems to be evoking some sort of prophecy from the old world that will open a direct vortex to this Land of the Living Gods. Csihar, who has worked with such black metal greats as Tormentor and Mayhem, brings forth a guttural and damn right creepy vocal performance throughout the entire album that makes Vincent Price seem like a Sunday school teacher and is highly appropriate for the dark imagery being painted by both Anderson and O'Malley. "Big Church" could easily be a long lost gem straight out of the Omen or 2001: A Space Odessy soundtrack repertoire, and features Earth's Dylan Carlson on guitar, a Viennese women's choir, and composer Eyvid Kang with brass and string arrangements, all of which add their own crucial layer to the mix. Despite several guests on this album, Kang seems to have the biggest contribution, with his string and brass work that sets Monoliths and Dimensions apart from the rest of the Sunn 0))) catalog.
This album is both brutal and beautiful; heavy as hell and scary as shit. It is the perfect accompaniment for a stormy night, a dark drive in the country, and a night alone with only candles burning. A word to the wise, however: when listening to Monoliths and Dimensions, don't let your mind play tricks on you, for it is only an album and the sounds you are hearing emit only from your speakers. Or do they? -Andrew Bryant

Monday, June 8, 2009

Scott H Biram

Scott H. Biram
Something's Wrong/Lost Forever
purchase here

The Reverend Scott H. Biram can do no wrong in my book. Like any good parishioner, I will follow the good Reverend's lead in all things, from consuming my communion of whiskey and biscuits, not taking shit off of anyone who comes my way, and knowing that the good Lord, Jesus loves me just the way that I am. Like most who take Biram's word as the gospel, any and everything that he has released musically stands the test of time and constantly remains at an arm-length, ready to be consumed when and wherever the spirit moves me. Something's Wrong/Lost Forever, the newest testament in the gospel of Scott H. Biram, is just what the doctor ordered, the best of both worlds, conjuring the bombastic boot-stomp and the drunken heartbreak in all of us.
At face value, what is most impressive for a mere passerby is that, like everything he does, Scott pretty much handles it all on this album, from writing, to singing, engineering, producing, stomping, and hollering. This indeed makes the album all his own, the exact portrait that he wishes to convey in the exact way he wants, whether it be slapping us in the face or lending a friendly ear and warm glass of bourbon. Something's Wrong/Lost Forever is a much more laid back Scott Biram than what we have seen in the recent past, almost returning to the days of Preachin' and Hollerin'. Not that he has gone soft on us, no sir. It's just that there seems to be much more of an emphasis placed on the craft of songwriting, along with his overall grit and raw emotion. These songs include the laid back "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue" and "Wildside" on which Biram seems to be channeling more of a Hank Williams feel than ever with more twang and drawl than you can shake a stick at. These tracks are plumb pretty at times, sad at others, and make you want to drown your sorrows at the bottom of the bottle. Once the sacrament has been consumed, there are plenty of rowdy moments on the album to get the blood flowing a bit faster, including "Judgement Day" where Biram preaches the gospel in his own twisted way and "I Feel Good" on which Van Campbell and John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies add their own flair and burn the whole damn barn down in the process. Ending the album in the absolute perfect manner, Scott H. Biram shows his true blues and gospel roots and raises the spirits by giving an a capella rendition of Leadbelly's "Go Down Ol' Hannah", showing more soul than most R&B singers combined.
All in all, another great album by the man, the myth, the legend that is known as Scott H. Biram. His music brings together blues, rock, gospel, all in a punkass manner that appeals to an extremely broad variety of individuals, that are ever growing in number and variety even as we speak. I see this new album as propelling him into the league in which he belongs, especially in the circles that hold Hank Williams III in such a high regard. And make no mistake about it, Scott H. Biram is most definitely an outlaw whose music goes far above and beyond reflecting just that. - Andrew Bryant

Monday, June 1, 2009

Trainwreck Riders

Trainwreck Riders
The Perch
purchase here

From the get-go, I thought that I had the Trainwreck Riders pegged. With the descriptors of country and rock, I was sure that they were going to be a more modern version of a Parsons Burrito Byrds conglomerate, yet I couldn't have been more wrong. Hearing their music for the first time threw me an instant curve ball, probably because I was expecting to hear upbeat shuffles with quirky pedal steel lines and instead was dished out a serving that was a bit more rock than roll. Hailing from San Francisco, the Trainwreck Riders consist of vocalist and guitarist Pete Frauenfelder, Andrew Kerwin on drums, and his brother Steve on lead guitar and vocals.
For the most part, this album is a modern cowpunk record that brings to mind obvious influences from this genre including the Meat Puppets and the Mekons. Part rock, but never over the top, the Trainwreck Riders are a pretty safe, middle-of-the-road bet that never gets too out of control on the volume and tempo end of things. Not a face-melter at all mind you, The Perch, though chocked full of momentary lapses with Dobro, lap steel, and fiddle, can best be described as an alternative country rock album with a sound that is highly similar to that of Built to Spill and Modest Mouse. Highlights include"Don't You Know", a track with an extremely laid back tempo that could seamlessly be added to any Modest Mouse record and "Chug Along", a soft, acoustic song complete with resonator guitar, brushes on the snare drum, and a warm, summer evening feel that makes you just want to put your feet up on the back porch and watch the sun go down.
Though not what I expected at first, the Trainwreck Riders have delivered an album that is perfect for the warm weather that is upon us. The Perch is yet another point chalked up in the plus column for Alive Records and I am sure that we will more from the Trainwreck boys hopefully soon.-Andrew Bryant

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wayne Hancock-Viper of Melody

Wayne Hancock
Viper of Melody
purchase here

Like any good Southerner, there are a few things that I have no shame in taking a shine to. One being whiskey, the second is wearing cowboy boots year round, and the third is good country music. I am not talking about CMT, Nashville FM, or pop country. I am talking about the real deal country music that makes you want to throw on your cowboy hat and Sunday finest, grab your gal and head to the nearest honky tonk for a night of cold beer, two-stepping, and everything in between. Thank God there are still a few good souls still making a racket that has the twang, attitude, and gumption to still be considered true country music, artists who are keeping the sound and genre alive for those of us who prefer things the way they once were. A legend in the alternative world of country and rockabilly music, if there is such a thing, is Wayne "The Train" Hancock keeps the true country spirit alive with others including Hank Williams III. Hancock's newest album, Viper of Melody, is indeed some of the sweetest sounding music this year that will keep the toes tapping and glasses full.
Described as the "world's finest purveyor of juke joint swing", the album proves that he is indeed just that. This album swings its ass off and would it damn near impossible for anyone to sit still during a listen, especially in a juke joint. Vipers of Melody is the perfect backdrop for sitting belly up to the bar in dim lit room, illuminated only by the neon beer signs and swirling jukebox lights, and enjoying only the finest of frosty beverages with your best gal or gals. The music on this album is not "outlaw country" per say, but most definitely the music of outlaws. This music swings, Texas swings that is, and is not jazz by any stretch of the imagination. Mix in the perfect amount of blues and rockabilly influence and there you have the noise of The Train. If I had to sum up Hancock's sound with Viper's of Melody, I would have to say it sounds like Hank Williams Sr. fronting a paired down version of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys. The Train's voice has the perfect amount of twang and old-time grit to bring to mind the aforementioned godfather in country music in addition to other legends including Jimmie Rogers. Every song on Vipers of Melody except one was penned by Hancock himself and further proves his greatness in the songwriting arena. These are songs of good times and bad, heartbreak and hell-raising all bundled into one package that is surely to be one of 2009's greatest releases. Highlights for me include the boogie-woogie of "Jump the Blues" and "Freight Train Boogie", and the weeping steel lines and heartbreak of Jimmy Campbell's "Midnight Stars and You."
Do yourself a favor and get this record. -Andrew Bryant

Monday, May 4, 2009

Radio Moscow-Brain Cycles

Radio Moscow
Brain Cycles
purchase this album here

Ah, remember a day when rock and roll was in its prime and just plain sounded the way it should; a day when guitars weighed a ton, hair was long, and the amps had knobs that were as big as pie plates. This was a day when you could still hear the hiss of the 2 inch tape on albums and bands could venture to the heavy end of the spectrum and not scare off the good spirited masses who were merely looking for a new album to throw on the turntables, space out, and expand both their mind and musical pallets. Fortunately for us, there are still musicians out there who abide by these creeds of the late 60's and early 70's, and could easily be considered contemporaries of their heroes, keeping great rock and roll alive in a world in which the majority of popular music has gone to shit. Hailing from Ames, Iowa of all places, Radio Moscow is one of these bands that does things right, from playing through vintage gear and joining forces with Alive Records, a label that can do no wrong in my book. Their newest album out of the oven, Brain Cycles, is a step above their 2007 debut with a greater confidence in both song-writing and musicianship.
I might be beating a dead horse by comparing Radio Moscow to Hendrix, however there is no denying the obvious influence that this music has on this album, from the guitar leads, tones, and effect choices. At the same time, Brain Cycles reminds me a great deal of other behemoths from back in the day including Cream, Blue Cheer, and the Groundhogs. Front man and guitarist Parker Griggs comes from a school of thought in which fuzz and wah are kings and the guitars are loud. Its a good thing too, because this young man has massive chops and an ear for the way rock and roll songs should be written. Chalk another one up in Griggs' column for his percussive work on the album, playing all of the drum parts himself. This leads me to the question, what can't he play? No kidding, there are hundreds of artists out there that would kill to have drum sounds like this, part Mitch Mitchell, part Carmine Appice. On the low end of things, Zach Anderson's bass lines are prime, tasteful, and in the pocket, perfectly complementing the guitar and drum work at hand. Brain Cycles is all about the driving riffs and psychedelic swells that will make the brain swim, swirl with an Are You Experienced? production quality. In fact I would almost require it to ingest Brain Cycles via a great pair of headphones.
Let's raise our glasses once again to Alive Records for bringing another of this year's best to the listeners. And most definitely hats off to the Radio Moscow boys for tapping into something that was in or added to the water back in the days when rock and roll was all about throwing on the cans, lighting some incense, and freeing ones mind. -Andrew Bryan

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Black Math Horseman

Black Math Horseman
purchase this album here

As a fan of all that is considered throwback, psychedelic, doom, and stoner metal and just about everything in between, I usually jump at the chance to give a listen to anything that certain record labels have to offer. These aforementioned labels include Rise Above, Candlelight, MeteorCity, and most recently, Tee Pee Records. I have always loved the majority of the Tee Pee artist roster: everyone from Alive to Witch, Sleep, Entrance, and of course Graveyard, whose debut was my album of the year for 2008. Lately, it seems that Tee Pee, along with Alive Records, has had the golden touch, producing some of the best rock and roll that the world has to offer including Los Angeles quartet, Black Math Horseman who just released their debut album, Wyllt, joining elements of doom, psychedelic, and space rock in a dark cloak amongst a heavy haze.
Wyllt gets started with an extremely relaxed pace, with "Tyrant", an opening track that would be the perfect sound accompaniment for an opium den. All kidding aside, this song makes your head swim and your innards feel all warm with a hypnotic groove and guitars that swirl, swell, and snake around the droney, smokey vocals of frontwoman and bassist Sera Timms, who sounds to me at times like a melding of young Grace Slick and the clean vocals of Kylesa's Laura Pleasants. In many ways, Black Math Horseman reminds me of a much more laid back, doomier Kylesa in that they have a strong, but not cliche female voice leading the charge, they both can freak out psychedelically without getting too monotonous or obnoxious, and they pay close attention to the dynamics of their songs at hand, making the album flow for an easy listen. For the majority of the album, the pace remains constant, never straying too much from their calm, but massive sound. This sound is achieved by maintaining riff-oriented grooves established by Timms' bass and the heavy, almost tribal drumming of Sasha Popvic, joined together with the layered and dynmaic guitar work of Bryan Tulao and Ian Berry. This music is extremely delicate and beautiful at times, transending into tritone-based, Sabbath-influenced doom riffs, and returning back to the drones and swells that eventually dwindle to nothing.
Many, including myself, are having a difficult time categorizing Black Math Horseman. Are they psychelic rock? Are they doom metal? Whatever the case may be, they have achieved a highly distintive and addictive sound that caught the ears at Tee Pee records, the concert-goers at the 2009 South by Southwest Music Conference, and soon the world. -Andrew Bryant

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wolves in the Throne Room

Wolves in the Throne Room
The Black Cascade
buy the album here

I can't really put my finger on what draws me to the music of Wolves in the Throne Room. Never being a huge fan of black metal, I was always reluctant to give them a shot, expecting to hear the same old chaotic shrieks and chest-rumbling blast beats regurgitated over and over again. What I found, however. was an extremely intelligent and enlightened band that goes above and beyond the traditional black metal subgenre, reach into their strong eco-spiritual belief system for direction and influence, in addition to bringing prominent elements of experimental and ambient music into the mix as well. Their music is beautiful and captivating, dark and heavy, and puts the listener in an almost trance-like state with some of the most unique music that is being released today. In my mind, they are as much like Mogwai, the Grails, and Red Sparrows as they are Burzum and Gorgoroth, appealing to vast amounts of eclectic music lovers across the boards.

With The Black Cascade, Wolves in the Throne Room are delivering the music that they have always desired to, very heavy and at the same time beautiful. Unlike their previous releases, Diadem of 12 Stars, Two Hunters, and even the Malevolent Grain EP, this album puts a great deal of the atmospheric experimentation on the back burner and is much more heavy and aggressive. Not saying that The Black Cascade isn't gorgeous, far from it in fact. Part of this great beauty lies in the primitive, minimalistic approach that the Wolves take with their sound throughout the entire album. There are no obnoxious guitar solos or machine-gun triggers blasting through double kick drum attacks in this music, rather it is layered and extremely organic, all of the different parts joining together for the overall sound as a whole. The four tracks making up the album that clocks in just over fifty minutes, are meant to be listened to as a whole and make it damn near impossible to decipher when one song ends and the others begin. The album is extremely dynamic, not getting as ambient as Two Hunters and Diadem of 12 Stars, however still maintaining the balance between the light and dark within the sound. Interspersed amongst the musical elements of the album are samples of nature including rain in the Pacific forests and the ringing of what sounds to me like temple bells or Tibetan prayer bowls. The Black Cascade sounds as though dark mountains, caves, streams, and forests that surround the commune on which Wolves in the Throne Room make their home are actually more responsible for this music than the players themselves.

If the earth were to speak, if the trees had a language, and if the elements communicated freely, these are the sounds that they would make. And I am sure that Wolves in the Throne Room wouldn't have it any other way.
-Andrew Bryant

Friday, April 17, 2009


They will be at the store signing copies of their latest DVD Ashes of American Flags

for all the details check out the store site here

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Saturday April 18th from 9am to 9pm come on down and support your local record store!!
We'll have prizes, giveaways, sales, exclusive new releases and live music for most the the day
Sweet P's BBQ & the Copa Cabana will be on hand selling food and a quick thanks to Rik's Music and Backline Pro for providing the backline for the day!

here's what we have planned so far

12pm Van Eaton
1 pm Greg Koonz
2 pm Wilco - Ashes of American Flags DVD Screening with prize pack give
3:30 pm Rockwells
4:30 pm Wild Sweet Orange
5:30 pm Tenderhooks
6:30 pm John Paul Keith
7:30 pm Cuttthroat Shamrock

Check out the store site for some more information

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Heavy Hands Review

Heavy Hands
Smoke Signals
Album Review

Heavy Hands snuck up and bit me on the ass. They came out of nowhere; I had no idea of who in the hell they were and had heard none of their music. I was intrigued merely by their name and unique album artwork, so I dug a little deeper and found one of 2008's strongest psychedelic releases flying under the radar. Signed to Drag City's Language of Stone Records, Heavy Hands are New York City, neo-psychedelic three piece that look backwards toward early 70's progressive rock and 1960's garage and psychedelia for their sound and inspiration.
In some circles and on several reviews they are cited as being partially a stoner rock/stoner metal band, however I have to go ahead and disagree. Don't get me wrong, a great deal of this record is made of of distorted riffs and heavy drones, yet doesn't line up in my mind at all with what is considered stoner metal. After listening to the record several times in its entirety, I can see where the attribute of "stoner" anything would come to mind. This album makes you feel a little fuzzy in the head and hazy in the vision department just by listening. Who am I kidding, you can almost hear the bongs ripping in the background. The best way I can describe the sound of this record is The Stooges meets Black Sabbath. There is definitely something about Heavy Hands that reminds me a bit of Dead Meadow, however things are amped up a great deal, more emphasis is placed on the groove element of the rhythm section, and the vocals pushed higher in the mix. The music itself turns out to be very conducive to the personal exploration of one's headspace. In a nutshell, this means that Smoke Signals is an extremely hypnotic album that you can easily get lost in. Highlights include "From Stonehenge", a heavily percussive trance-like track and "Can't See Through", that could just have easily been taken from the outtakes of Funhouse.
Good album. Not life-altering, but a great debut and way to get things going for Heavy Hands nonetheless.-Andrew Bryant

Scott Miller release party!

He will be performing in conjunction with the release of his latest album
For Crying Out Loud
Monday April 13th at 7.30 pm
2615 Chapman Hwy
Knoxville TN

Henry's Funeral Shoe

Henry's Funeral Shoe
Everything's For Sale

By now, the whole two-piece rock phenomenon doesn't pack the punch that it once did. It has been proven time and time again that two musicians can bring enough to the table to suffice for a full band sound and folks aren't as easily blown away as they once were. Therefore, bands that choose to go this route are forced to put a hell of a lot more blood, sweat, and tears into songwriting and musicianship just to stand out in the crowd. Like most other two-piece rock outfits in the Alive Records arsenal, Henry's Funeral Shoe remain deeply rooted in the blues rock traditions, at the same time bringing something refreshing and new to the genre with a great ear for hook-laden songwriting and tremendous musical talent.

In a nutshell, these Welsh rockers are not as gritty and don't kick you in the teeth as do several of their Alive brethren including the Black Diamond Heavies and Left Lane Cruiser. They fall more along the lines of early Black Keys, if the Black Keys grew up listening to a lot more of the Who and other British powerhouses. With Everything's For Sale, Henry's Funeral Shoe keeps things simple, with a large emphasis placed on the melody of the guitar riffs themselves and the tones used by guitarist/vocalist Aled Clifford. The guitar work is warm, fuzzy at times, and heavily steeped in the blues, reminiscent of early Peter Green and Marc Ford. Vocally, Aled Clifford sounds a great deal similar to the late, great Shannon Hoon and even a smidgen like Jon Spencer from time to time. Aled's younger brother, Brennig fills the percussive duties that are very heavy on the tom-toms and kick drum, which thickens the low end of things for the overall mix of the album itself. Highlights for me include, "Down the Line" and "Stranger Dig" that bring a Southern, delta blues feel in the mix, complete with mean slide guitar work that would bring a smile to John Lee Hooker's face. Another standout track is "It's a Long Way" which is much darker than their other material on the album, reminding me somewhat of a Morphine tune. Everything's For Sale winds down in the end with "Mary's Song", a beautiful, acoustic number complemented with light harmonica and brush work on the snare drum.

Henry's Funeral Shoe is a band that I have been hearing about for a while and this debut was damn sure worth the wait in the end. A band couldn't ask for a better sound than what was achieved on Everything's For Sale and I feel that they are only hitting the tip of the iceberg with this one. I am sure that Henry's Funeral Shoe and Alive Records have great things planned for us in the future and all we can do now is sit on our asses and wait patiently. -Andrew Bryant

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Static Tensions

I can't lie to you, it took me seeing them in a live setting to fully appreciate and enjoy the music of Kylesa. I took a chance and decided to see a live show and was hooked instantaneously with their massive sound and high energy, both of which I felt were missing from their records. Not that their first three releases were bad, I just never could quite grasp what they were trying to do. I liked what I was hearing, but it never floored me and I always thought that it could easily be so much better with just a little tweaking. With their fourth and newest album, Static Tensions, this Savannah, Georgia five piece have remedied this, evoking the gods of thunder with one of the best releases for 2009 thus far and is right on par with what they deliver live.

As with their previous material, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint what kind of music Kylesa can be categorized as. Part experimental, part sludge, part psychedelic stoner metal; they are big, loud, and full of piss and vinegar. It is heavy music at its finest, with massive amounts of percussion(having two, yes two stellar drummers), heavy guitar work, and brutal vocals from two very distinct vocalists. The album gets things started out just right with "Scapegoat", with a thunderous groove established by drummers, Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez. Now is a great time to praise to these hitters of the skins, who provide the driving force behind the entire album, with effective poly-rhythmic play and tribal unison sessions which makes this album one of the best by far in terms of percussive work. Guitarist/vocalist and founder Phillip Cope lay down a heavy pallet of fuzzy guitar noise and chunky riffage that thickens the stew and adds more to the overall power of the album itself. Guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants puts most men in the metal world to shame with her guitar work, perfect tone choices, and lead lines that pour out of her Les Paul GoldTop and snake through the thick, meaty wall of heaviness that is barreling out of control, full-throttle for the majority of the album. Laura's vocals range from full-on growls to clean tonal vocals that are treated almost like another instrument in the mix. Cope's vocals are a bit more one dimensional and gruff, providing a great contrast with the others on the record. Like a lot of great heavy albums, all of the tracks bleed into one another and listens better as a whole than broken up into parts. Highlights include "Said and Done" and "Unknown Awareness" with a lead guitar line that will worm its way through your ear and ring in your head for days after.

If you like heavy music, you will like this record. Something for everyone, from speed freaks to lovers of psychedelic post rock. Kylesa has truly found itself with Static Tensions, therefore things are looking great for their future. -Andrew Bryant

you can purchase the album here

Friday, March 13, 2009


We have the new album for sale today plus swing by this afternoon from 6-7 for a meet & great with the band.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zombi-Spirit Animal

Spirit Animal
Album Review
purchase it here

I am not going to beat around the bush, Zombi is weird and I would not prefer them any other way. Fueled to by two creative minds from Pittsburgh, influenced by the music of Goblin and the horror movie soundtracks from John Carpenter films, Zombi brings forth some of the greatest neo-progressive, cinematic space rock that continues to mesmerize metal heads, movie geeks, and music lovers from all across the spectrum and bring them back thirsty for more. Zombi was always a guilty pleasure for me, but lately I have met so many individuals who are literally mad about this music, loving every minute of its synth soundscapes and poly-rhythmic percussive work. What I love most about Zombi, is they love what they do and are consistent in the music they make. With their third full length, Spirit Animal, they bring music that is intense, beautiful, and could easy be used for a suspense/horror film circa 1981.

With Spirit Animal, Zombi is both bombastic and intricate, exhibiting obvious influences far beyond the Goblin/John Carpenter dichotomy, ranging from Tangerine Dream, Yes, and even a hint or two of early Gabriel-era Genesis. Compared to the rest of their catalogue, Spirit Animal sprinkles a bit more space/prog rock into the mix, still remaining true to the overall cinematic effect of the music itself. This album mixes together the perfect goulash of atmospheric swell and dramatic contrasts, progressive rhythms and dark cheesiness that would tickle the fancy of any prog/metal head, horror movie buff, and stereotypical music weirdo like myself. The opening track, which also serves as the title track is very large and almost regal sounding, as if it were announcing the arrival of something gargantuan, for instance the large, stampeding bull elephant as depicted on the front panel of the album. The record moves on to tracks that are much more progressive, some sounding close to the accompaniment to a long-lost video game of the 1980's. Most of all, what Zombi and Spirit Animal are is a breath of fresh air; something new and different in a day where most music sounds the same and a reminder of how things once were in the worlds of music and horror cinema.
-Andrew Bryant

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Urges Review

The Urges
Psych Ward

Throwback rock and roll seems to be pretty popular these days. Like most folks who enjoy rock and roll the way it used to be, I am sucker for a good band that sounds as though they could have been around back in the 1960's and 70's. In the case of The Urges, I am still trying to figure out if they really are a modern band, and not some long-lost Nugget from the 60's garage era. Both the band's look, sound, and production quality looks and sounds absolutely nothing like anything that has been around in the past 40 years. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, The Urges are Little Steven Van Zant's newest endorsement and are very deserving of his praise.

The Urges' Psych Ward is what it is: a great rock and roll record in its purest form. These young Dubliners aren't trying to be ground-breaking and innovative with this release and thus makes it an even stronger album. With twelve tracks, Psych Ward clocks in at 35 minutes, with most songs under the three and four minute marks. The one exception is "The 13th Floor", a slower, more psychedelic song that tips the hat to the 13th Floor Elevators, which almost reaches five minutes. The album opens up with with a bonus track, a raucous version of "Jenny Jenny" which would make the Sonics mighty proud. Another highlight is "The Urges Theme", which adds some surf-rock to the mix.

For those who want a great, consistent garage rock album that could have easily been released in the mid-sixties, The Urges are a safe bet. Loud and rowdy garage punk at its finest. -AB

Black Diamond Heavies Review

Black Diamond Heavies
A Touch of Someone Else's Class
There is something about the Black Diamond Heavies that commands attention. This two-piece monster, hailing from Chattanooga, TN/Louisville, KY, brings with it one of the biggest sounds out there, mixing together a concoction that is equal-parts blues, soul, punk, gospel, and gritty rock and roll. Together, John Myers and Van Campbell as the Heavies meld their musical influences into something that sounds like Tom Waits and Middy Waters presiding over a junkyard revival with a communion of corn liquor and razor blades. Their second album, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, tones things down just a smidgen bringing a more "Memphis meets Detroit" record. The music will still make your heart pound and the sweat pour, but will make the ass shake a bit more than their previous album. Not taking anything away from either, both are very unique and offer a different side of the Heavies, yet still maintaining their highly distinctive sound.

Released on Alive Records and produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, finds the Black Diamond Heavies embracing the soul end of the spectrum, with an album that grooves more and is not as bombastic as the previous. However, as with all of the Heavies' material, the sound is loud and overdriven and the music seems like it could break loose and get out-of-control at any moment. With the opening track, a rawkus version of Tina Turner's "Nutbush City", kicks the album into high gear. The Heavies also pay homage to several of their other influences with covers of T-Model Ford's "Take a Ride" and Nina Simone's "Oh, Sinnerman" which is one of the strongest points of the album, a very sparse track with an infectious eighth-note pulsation from John's keys. His voice is as gritty as ever on this album and his keyboard work includes more B-3 and upright piano along with his trusty old Fender Rhodes. Campbell's drums sound huge and thunderous as always and provide the perfect grooves and pallets for the songs to build upon. Other highlights include "Bidin' My Time", a slower reminiscent song in which Myers' voice melds into that of a heart-felt crooner and "Happy Hour", a piano-bar boogie that is the perfect end to the album that makes you want to raise your glass, hoot, and holler.

Alive records and the Black Diamond Heavies have done it again with some of the best material to date in 2008. The music is raw and the sound is bigger than most bands with twice as members as the Heavies. Anyone who is in awe of two-piece bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys need to give a listen to anything the Black Diamond Heavies have to offer.-Andrew Bryant

Friday, February 20, 2009


we've got them back in stock sour cream & onion, bacon & salt 'n vinegar flavors

Monday, February 16, 2009

Elder Album Review

Album Review
Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you that I am indeed a sucker for heavy, throwback music. If its sounds like something that would have been blasted through a Laney or Orange stack in the 1970's amidst a thick, smoky haze, I will more than likely enjoy it. Most recently, I discovered Elder, a three-piece from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, whose self-titled debut was just released on Meteor City Records, the official in-house label of Unlike many new found gems of late, this album does not sound note-for-note like something from the founding fathers of heavy metal that blasted the ears of the late 60's and early 70's. Instead, Elder adopts the tones and basic riff structure of these behemoths of yesterday, gives their own spin on the music, and makes it much, much heavier. This album breathes more early Sleep than Sabbath and is your quintessential stoner/sludge/doom metal hybrid along the lines of Electric Wizard. However, if you are looking for a new take on the whole stoner rock sound, don't expect to get that out of Elder. They do what they do and do it well I might add, sticking to everything that is attributed to this sound from almost any band in the subgenre. Each song clocks in above the seven-minute mark, with the entire album flowing together as a whole much stronger than if you looked at each song individually. Thus, it is extremely hard to pick out a favorite or highlight track from the five song album that weighs in at over 40 minutes of music.

Musically, the album is thick and meaty with heavy riffs that are well established throughout, often taking presidence over the lyrical and vocal elements within. The tempos range from slow to medium pace, often changing course several times during the album's extremely long tracks. Their rhythms are pretty simple and add to overall sludge feel of a great deal of the music, with a heavy emphasis on the crashed ride cymbal patterns and distorted bass lines that you almost feel more than hear a great deal of the time. Elder uses a production quality that is not over the top at all, keeping things loose and almost lo-fi at times, and seems to have recorded a great deal of this live in studio with minimal overdubs. Added layers of sparse keyboard work, acoustic/classical guitar, and fuzz harmonies add another dimension to the music and the sound of the album, broadening the horizons beyond your traditional three piece fare. Some of the sections in which the organ is featured brings to mind an almost Type O Negative feel, which might sound strange in this stoner arena, but honestly works quite well. Vocally, Elder pulls off a mid-range dirge, sounding similar to Al Cisneros of Sleep and, at times, Lemmy from Motorhead. The vocals are sparsely placed and take the backseat to the heavy riffs and massive weight of the music itself, as is the case in most stoner rock/metal endeavors.

Elder's self-titled debut is a great addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys great heavy music, whether it be rock or metal. They stay within the boundaries of what makes a great heavy, hazy release and are beginning to earn a place at the table with other greats in this circle. Again, no new territory is covered with this release, but who are we kidding? Those who try to stretch the boundaries too much are cast out and thrown to the curb for the Metal Gods to devour. -Andrew Bryant

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the Features

Start your evening out right
Come see the Features play tonight at 5 pm
2615 Chapman Hwy

What is your favorite romantic film?

Dirty Dancing
The Notebook
Notting Hill
When Harry Met Sally
An Affair to Remember
let us know what your favorite is!

Happy Valentine's Day

stop in for those last minute gifts. We have a great selection of romantic movies on DVD, music to set the mood and love rats everyone needs a love rat for Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brimstone Howl Album Review

Brimstone Howl
We Came in Peace
Album Review
Lincoln, Nebraska four-piece, Brimstone Howl might just be "an ass scratch away from the truth." Their fuzz/reverb laden goulash of punk, garage rock, and blues just might be part of the answer to the lame state of affairs in the mainstream of American rock and roll today. Produced by Detroit's Jim Diamond and released on Alive Records, who seem to have the golden touch in my book, We Came in Peace is a Frankenstein album if you will, a mixture of several different and eclectic musical influences from the days when rock and roll still meant something and had a larger place in society. We could just have easily seen the Brimstone boys sharing the stage in the CBGB heyday with the Voidoids and Television, but no one is criticizing or complaining. Hell, better late than never.
With this high energy record, Brimstone Howl seems to be living by the Viv Savage mantra: "Have a good time, all the time." This album starts things out with a full throttle, keeping it wide open for the majority with up-tempo, out of control songs that flow together like a Ramones concert using quick transitions and similar chord progressions. You hardly get a chance to catch your breath as one track ends, when the next one comes barreling out of the gate, kicking you while you are down. Make no mistake however, this is not strictly a punk rock band or album. The sound is more of an amped up Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins on speed, with a hint of garage psychedelia and dirty blues. Vocalist John Ziegler reminds me of a mixture between Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine, and Lux Interior (R.I.P.) of the Cramps, with a bit more of a blues swagger at times. The guitars, along with vocals and everything else at one time or another, is drenched in reverb, keeping things echoing at every moment on the album and adding to overall vintage feel. The tones are fuzzy and dirty, with thick rhythms and soaring lead lines that whine and snake in and out of each verse and chorus. Rhythmically, drummer Calvin Retzlaff is the driving force throughout the entire album, with his four on the floor and fast eighth-note snare and floor-tom grooves. Apart from the music itself, the lyrics really caught my attention and are indeed in the spirit of great rock and roll. I mean, how can you go wrong with lines like, "Said the big red rooster to the mother hen- I'm back the shit again." Probably my favorite passage comes in "The World Will Never Know", a psychedelic narrative that sounds similar to the early work of the Electric Prunes, and states, "Her mother gave me a red glare of millennial loathing, so I gave her one arrogant finger. And I covered her porch in gravel. That made the correct impression." Come on now, how much more rock and roll can we get? For me, it is not the fast paced, make-you-sweat songs that stick out, though they are mighty fine indeed. Personally, I feel that the songs that stretch the influential boundaries take the cake and make the record much stronger indeed. These include the aforementioned "The World Will Never Know" and the psychedelic blues in "Easy to Dream" and "Obliterator." What comes to mind first with "Easy to Dream" is the Velvet Underground in the heroin years, complete with a hypnotic eighth-note feel among the sleigh bells, piano, and tom-toms and guitar lines that fall in and out of tune and tempo. "Obliterator" seems to channel a big Canned Heat influence with mainly spoken, sometimes howled lyrics that could easily be a personal take on Conrad's Heart of Darkness. No shit, this track is like John Lee Hooker speaking of his own "blood rituals of the Congo land" and is just the kind of color and spice that gives this album its cherry on top.
Bravo to Brimstone Howl for doing something different and giving us more of the rock that we all once loved. Do yourself a favor, if you love old rock and roll, garage, punk, and the blues, lend this band your ear and definitely check out anything that Alive Records has to offer. They do things right in the way it used to sound back when rock and roll was much stronger. One can only hope that bands like Brimstone Howl and entities like the good folks at Alive will keep it going to hopefully see things come full circle. It is about damned time. -AB

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Antony & The Johnsons

performing live at the Big Ears Festival this weekend in Knoxville
Live at the Bijou on Saturday February 7th enter to win tickets here

Serpent Throne

It seems almost cliche to attribute a band as sounding like Black Sabbath, especially if you listen to half of the bands that I do. However, it is nearly impossible to critique the sounds of new doom/stoner rock and metal bands such as Witchcraft, Electric Wizard, Blood Ceremony, and Graveyard without drawing some sort of comparison to Sabbath and other pioneers in the field including Pentagram, Coven, and Black Widow. What first grabbed my attention with this small new release of last week (1/27/09) was the large sticker on the front of the album reading, "For fans of Black Sabbath and early Scorpions." Hmm, sounded just like my cup of tea. The name Serpent Throne didn't hurt matters either, so I decided to give it a listen. What I found with Serpent Throne was one of the most authentic sounds and approaches to the whole 1970's revival with no vocals whatsoever and some of the best guitar work that would give founding fathers among the likes of Tony Iommi and Richie Blackmore a run for their money.
The tones on this record are what first hit me like a ton of bricks. This Philadelphia four piece has done their homework, kept things simple, and might really be on to something. I don't miss vocals at all and feel that this instrumental format really gives the listener the freedom to draw their own conclusion with the album. Unlike many other similar bands today, I hear more than just heavy drones and slow tempos on this record. With this album, much like their debut soundtrack to Ride Satan Ride, Serpent Throne focuses as much on the 70's boogie element as they do the heavy blues riffs. I hear much more than just Sabbath on this record, though there is no denying the strong influence that they have on the sound, especially in the guitar work. Both Demian Fenton and Don Argott, are monster players and have honed their guitar tones to complement each other in the all instrumental format here. Neither overplays and each gives exactly what is needed to make things sound big and thick, at the same time making the lead lines harmonize well and soar over top of the songs' main riffs. Apart from the obvious love of Black Sabbath, I also hear a great deal of Deep Purple, Leafhound, and Cactus coming through especially in the rhythm section. Drummer Sean-Paul Fenton and bassist Colin Smith keep things loose on the low end and keep the record moving throughout with a great pocket feel that is never rushed or forced. Unlike most records, it is nearly impossible to pick a favorite track and, to be honest with you, it is hard to notice when one track ends and the other begins. Not a bad thing per say, but I find myself getting lost in the record and not looking up until the album has concluded. The whole thing flows together near perfectly, with a great attention to dynamics and tempos.
Like their first album, this record would make a great soundtrack to a 70's biker/outlaw film and would be the a perfect companion to riding a motorcycle across the desert in the middle of the night. So let your hair down, crank your chopper, and load your bongs. All in all, this record sounds like stepping back into 1973. -AB

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


the Boss is back with Working on a Dream

need Lucero tickets?

check out the DE store site and purchase some here.
The show is February 21st at Barley's!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ben Nichols

Ben Nichols
The Last Pale Light in the West
find the album here

Part Springsteen, part Steve Earle, part punk-rock country troubadour, Ben Nichols has always represented something that lies deep within all of us, whether it be heartbreak, angst, or reminiscence, and puts it to music and lyrics in a way that makes you say, "hell yes, I have been there." With Lucero, his whiskey soaked tales of love, loss, and everything in between have become a staple in the musical favorites category of an eclectic group of music enthusiasts, mixing rowdy rock and roll with heart-wrenching elements of country music, giving them a kick in the teeth and a light for their Marlboro Red. Nichols' writing comes from first-hand experiences and that is one of the biggest factors in the success of his song writing. These songs are extremely believable and after hearing his delivery on record and at live shows, you feel as though you have indeed lived them yourself. Every Lucero record is unique in its own right, yet still maintains the overall synergy of the band itself. Though their new record is slated for later in the year, those of us who have come to love this Memphis band were thrilled to find out that Ben Nichols' solo release, The Last Pale Light in the West, is some of the first great music that 2009 is going to offer.

Ben took a different direction with this eight song album, putting aside his personal narratives and basing the entire record on Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, a.k.a. Evening Redness in the West, one of the most violent and controversial novels in all of literature. With his voice gruff and borderline gravely, Nichols is the perfect narrator of this dark tale from one of the most famous Southern Gothic novelists of all time. For this mini-album, Ben strips things down to the bare bones, with the majority of the work being from his acoustic guitar and vocals. For depth and color, he employees Rick Steff (Cat Power, live touring Lucero member) on accordion and piano and Todd Beene (Glossary) on peal steel and electric guitar. This musical sparsity creates the ideal pallet on which the story is told, each track illuminating a different character from the novel and the personal story that they have to tell. The struggle between good and evil, as it is in the novel, is one of the main aspects to this release, both in the tone and subject matter of the songs. The opening and title track of the album begins with a stuttered acoustic guitar line and whole-note piano chords as the pedal steel literally weeps. Beginning with this was the right move, as it is some of Nichols best lyrical work to date. With passages like, "And I ask for no redemption, in this cold and barren place; still I see a faint reflection, and so by it, guide my way," he strips things down to the meat and potatoes of the situations at hand, accurately describing what he desires with little to no fluff. The seven songs following each focus on an important character to the novel itself, with lyrics and tones that exemplify their corresponding personalities and storyline. "The Kid" tells of the main character, who was born in Tennessee in the mid-19th century and seeks more in life, as he travels west and joins a group of bloodthirsty mercenaries who are devoted to a life of slaughtering Indians, Mexicans, and everyone else in their path. The music of this track features a heavy emphasis on the accordion and piano, giving the song a sea-faring feel, which symbolizes the travel and adventure surrounding the life of the protagonist. For me, "Chambers" is probably the most Lucero sounding song on the record, with similar structures to some of my favorites including "The War" and "She Wakes when She Dreams." The closing track to the album, "The Judge" is an instrumental piece depicting the antagonist of the novel and arguably one of the most evil characters in all of literature. This track is extremely dynamic, tense, and ominous, with drones, swells, and chordal contrast that give an auditory life to this character who embodies everything that is vile and malevolent.
Though only eight songs long, The Last Pale Light in the West, is a masterpiece and the perfect representation of the literary greatness of one of Knoxville's most famous transplanted-sons. Ben Nichols really makes this Western-of-sorts come alive with his music and song writing, creating a great listen for those who are Lucero fans, and fans of rock and country music in general. If this is any indication of what we have in store from the new Lucero release, I am sure that we are in for one hell of a record. But make no mistake of it, The Last Pale Light in the West holds its own among those full band releases and is a great solo effort from one of the best song-writers in the business. -AB

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Drive-by Truckers

want to see them at the Valarium on January 29? Try to win tickets here


Loud is the Night

It seems that as of late, there are countless artists that are chasing after that throwback sound from the 1960's. Some have got the market cornered on sounding authentic, keeping true to the ways of their forefathers in respect to production and song craft. A handful of these artists do an excellent job and keep the music fresh, while others seem to get bogged down in trying to sound too vintage and sacrifice songwriting and the overall flow of the album. Hailing from south central Texas, Hacienda is one of the very few bands who sound as though they truly could have been transplanted straight from the 60's pop/rock/garage scene, write hooks that you can swear that you've heard before, and deliver some of the best vocal harmonies that hold their own with today's releases and the music from way back when.

What sparked my interest first about Hacienda, before even giving it a listen, was that this album was produced by none other than Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and was released on Alive Records, both of which were responsible for two of my favorite albums in 2008, The Black Diamond Heavies and Buffalo Killers. However, the album is nothing like what I expected it to be. Unlike the Heavies and Killers, Loud is the Night is laid back and delicate, full of vintage pop sounds that are indeed groove oriented, but never over-driven or distorted. The album's production sounds as authentic as the songs themselves, leaving everything open and airy, relying heavily on the layers of acoustic instruments and background vocals that are carefully placed far back in the mix, just as it would have been done in 1965. The record is mixed somewhat quiet, bringing the album that low fidelity sound that is a must in achieving what they do. The opening track, "She's Got a Hold on Me", grabs your ear with a stellar fuzz-bass tone that sets things up and is the perfect way to kick things off for Hacienda. Though the album is steeped in Beach Boys style influence throughout, this one gives things a nod to the early Kings of Leon sound with a bit of the power pop feel similar to that of the Velvet Crush. Changing gears, Hacienda follows up with "Angela", that could easily be a long-lost Zombies gem, complete with distant oohs and ahhs that complement that lead vocals. This aspect of the band is, in my opinion, one of their strongest selling points. Of course, being comprised of all brothers and one cousin really brings the tight vocal harmonies to the table, as it is almost always the case that family members sing best together.

This album has been flying under the radar and often, as in my case, gets overshadowed by the other releases from Alive Records that are a bit rowdier. Loud is the Night is anything but loud, and that in itself sets Hacienda apart from other artists that look towards the 60's for influence. They embrace the subtleties of the music rather the raw grit, focusing heavily on the layers of vocal harmonies and complementary instrumental parts, creating a sound that is light and relaxed. A perfect listen and new discovery for those who enjoy rock and pop from the 1960's and those who have embraced the sound of newer artists, such as The Strokes and the Redwalls. -AB
preview some tracks and buy it here

Monday, January 12, 2009

Marc Ford

Marc Ford
Neptune Blues Club

My Lord, does guitar playing get any better than Marc Ford? Now, I know that many of you are asking yourselves right now, "who in the hell is this Marc Ford?" Well sir, he is the man with one of the best guitar tones that your ears will ever be graced with and is one of the most tasteful players to date, on any end of the spectrum. Some might remember his long stint with the Black Crowes (lead guitars on Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Amorica, and Three Snakes and One Charm), others might remember him from his early days in Burning Tree, and some might have seen him briefly with Ben Harper. Marc is doing his own thing now and has never sounded stronger. His newest album, The Neptune Blues Club does not disappoint, bringing elements to the table that will satisfy the pallet of any rock/blues fan and absolutely any lover of great guitar work.
Don't get the wrong idea about Marc, he isn't a noodler. He can get more feeling and emotion out of two or three bends and slide licks that others can't even come close to with all their tapping and thousand-note-per-minute runs. Like everything else Marc Ford has released, I am immediately impressed with the songwriting and vocals that he has, sounding a bit like Bob Dylan at times, Tom Petty at others. Aside from being a Jedi with his guitar, Marc is a pretty darn good front man and crafter of albums to boot. The Neptine Blues Club, released on Blues Bureau International is far from a straight-up blues record. However, it is Marc's most bluesy release to date, mixing some funk and Stonesy sounding material into the mix that stretches beyond the traditional 12-bar progressions. Highlights for me include "Go Too Soon", a bar-room boogie-woogie number which could easily have been a track from a Stevie Ray Vaughn record and "Don't Get Me Killed", a down right dirty song that has some nasty slide guitar trading licks with a over driven harmonica.
Whether you are a lover of old rock and roll or the blues, you will undoubtedly love the newest release from Marc Ford. The Neptune Blues Club has got it all, complete with dirt, soul, and little of everything else in between. As always, Ford delivers some of the best guitar work from any release in 2008 with this one and makes the horizon look a bit brighter for those of us believe that rock and roll should stay what it is, or rather what it used to be .
Andrew Bryant
-Garage Deluxe
"Southern Pentecostal Junkyard Boogie"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best sellers for 2008

check them out here and you can also check out some employee favorites here