Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Album Review: dredg: El Cielo

This is the second full length album from Los Gatos prog rockers, dredg, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest things that I have ever heard.

I have already mentioned that I am a sucker for a concept album. El Cielo or "In Heaven" in spanish ( which is where I feel I am when listening to this masterpiece) is a concept record focussed on sleep paralysis. The way that lead vocalist, Gavin Hayes, went about creating lyrics was ingenious. Hayes decided to collect letters from people who experience sleep paralysis to write to him. He then used the visions and experiences described in these letters as inspiration for the lyrics. Some lyrics are verbatim excerpts from these letters.

El Cielo is a true "album". Every song needs the song that precedes it and succeeds it. There is not a second of wasted time here. And the music is top notch. You will hear some of the most powerful chorus' of your life on songs : "Same Ol' Road", "Sanzen", "Whoa is Me" and "It only took a day".

I encourage anyone with an open mind to new and interesting concepts in music to check this record out. It has influenced and inspired many and gets daily rotation in my cd player 6 years after it's release.


They are the kings.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dredg : Saviour

This is the new single from my favourite "active" band, dredg. This band needs about as much help and attention as is humanly possible. Check it out, and you are nuts if you don't classify it as either

  • Bumpin'
  • Jammin'
  • Rockin'


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Album Review: Forgive Durden: Razia's Shadow: A Musical

"The unrelenting constancy of love and hope,
will rescue and restore you from any scope."

Forgive Durden, once a full piece band is but one member strong now. His name is Thomas Dutton, and the vision he had for the band was not exactly "traditional". This could be the reason behind him cleaning house and placing the responsibilities of the band solely on his shoulders.

Instead of recording a standard rock record, Dutton decided to take his childhood love of musicals as inspiration to write his very own. With the help of his multi talented brother, Paul, the brothers co wrote "Razia's Shadow: A Musical". 

Put simply, the story of Razia's Shadow is a creation myth. Put even more simply, it is a love story. The main character of the first half is Ahrima, an angel created by the "creator" character, O The Scientist. Ahrima believes he has plenty more to offer the world and is discouraged that O The Scientist refuses to acknowledge his true greatness.

This story ark leads to Ahrima's eventual downfall, and without revealing too much, the entire world suffers the consequences of his selfish actions. It is then told by the Oracle, that someone very similar to Ahrima will set the world right again. Enter: Adakais.

Adakais is the protagonist of the musical, and the main character of the second half. He is very similar to Ahrima, and has the same aspirations of granduer. However, Adakais seeks to clean up Ahrima's mess. 

The musicianship and production of this record are incredible. The main attraction is the character work which is supplied by vocalists from a litany of bands, some more popular than others. Perhaps the most notable cameo is supplied by Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco fame. Urie plays Adakais' evil brother Pallis with perfection and conviction.

You will get to experience Say Anything's, Max Bemis, as the persuasive and cunning Barayas The Spider. As well as Chris Conley from Save's The Day as Toba The Tura, the angelic judge of the world who labels Ahrima with his fate. Fans of lesser known bands such as: The Dear Hunter, The Hush Sound, Portugal. The Man, and Gatsby's American Dream will see their vocalists appear in certain roles throughout.  

The single greatest piece of character work is provided by Shawn Harris of The Matches as Doctor Dumaya. It sounds like Harris literally BECAME the doctor, and at times you can feel him channeling Heath Ledger's Joker.

All I can say is check this album out, it is definitely unlike anything you have listened to recently. I can guarantee that. Anyone seeking out something new and fresh, this is it.


Me and my friend, Rob Burke, have been lucky enough to be chosen by Thomas Dutton as one of 50 people to receive legal rights to the musical, an instrumental version of the album and the script to stage our own PRODUCTION!! We are very excited about this, and are going to work our hardest during the summer to make it a Fall/Winter release. I hope to see many of you there!

Recommended if you like: Musicals, Panic at the Disco, The Dear Hunter.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Album Review: Thrice: The Alchemy Index Vol. I and II: FIre and Water

Hot off the heals of their genre blending release Vheissu, the boys from the OC, Thrice, have released one of the most ambitious concept albums I have ever listened to.

Many fans were not too pleased when the band decided to stray from their pop-punk roots to expand their sound and explore new instruments, and sonic barriers in Vheissu. Gone were the poppy, youthful anthems from The Artist in the Ambulance and Identity Crisis.

So with a fan base already split between "New Thrice" and "Old Thrice", what is the natural response for a band? In the case of Thrice, it was to leave their label, become independent, and self produce a 4 album conceptual project. Entitled The Alchemy Index, these 4 e.p.'s each focus on an element (Fire, Water, Air, Earth). I will be reviewing Volume 1: Fire and Water.

The Fire album begins with the aptly titled "FireBreather", which has a very ambient, delayed, distorted intro which has the musical quality of a siren. It gives warning to the powerful, menacing chords that follow. This song gets the ball rolling on Fire with an epic intensity, a better album opener could not have been chosen. 

When one thinks of fire, you conjure mental images and thoughts such as: harshness, intensity and destruction. This is precisely the sound you will receive from this e.p. In many ways it is reminiscent of earlier Thrice. Musically, and lyrically the e.p. has a very angry, destructive tone. You will hear a lot of distortion, vicious guitar attacks, and vocalist Dustin Kensrue belting out lines such as, "I love this city, I've set and numbered its days. I love this city, enough that I'll set it ablaze."

Does water have a sound? What are some adjectives used to describe water? Lush, wet, ambient? Ask Thrice. Because they have somehow captured its essence on the Water e.p. Fire and Water are the classic contrast in terms of elements. So it was an obvious choice to package the Fire and Water  discs together. But I am pleased they did, solely because the 2 e.p.'s have absolutely NOTHING in common with each other musically, or lyrically. It truly allows the listener to appreciate their artistic range.

After the punishing ferocity of Fire, the Water disc begins with the subdued, almost underwater nature of "Digital Sea". The lyrical refrain, "Im drowning in a digital sea, here my voice grow to ones and zeros" gives the listener a sense of anxiety, which is quickly quelled by the lush, relaxing atmosphere of the instrumentation. Water's most aggressive moment comes in the 6 minute instrumental song "Night Diving". A beautiful, lush instrumental which seeks to tell the story of a night diver's ups and downs through musical progressions. 

"Open Water" is a MUST HERE song. Lyrically, this is Dustin Kensrue at his prime. He has an innate ability to write in simile, and he puts on a clinic in this song. The somber refrain, "I'm starting to believe the ocean is much like you, because it gives and it takes away." is one of the most powerful moments on either e.p.

If pressed, I would have to say that Water is the stronger e.p. and probably the more accessible for the average listener. Not only for its lush instrumentation and beautiful vocals, but also for the fact that Thrice somehow made an e.p. that sounds like water...which is ridiculous.

Before ending this review, there is one more aspect to this project that needs to be mentioned. Each e.p. concludes with a musical sonnet. The same structure of 14 lines, and 10 syllables per line is followed in these sonnets. Each sonnet is meant to be an expression of that element. Vocalist and lyricist Dustin Kensrue explains, 

"Each sonnet is written from the point of view of the personified element, speaking to mankind, and lamenting our various failings. The Fire sonnet deals with fire being resentful and ashamed of the way it's been used in destruction and war, while the Water sonnet deals with man's pride, and the futility and idiocy of that pride, come face to face with the power of the sea."

recommended if you like: alternative rock, ambient music, concept albums, poetry, the elements?


Friday, February 6, 2009

Album Review: The Gaslight Anthem

"See I've been here for 28 years.
Pounding sweat beneath these wheels.
We tattooed lines beneath our skin.
No surrender, my Bobby Jean."

These are the opening lines to The Gaslight Anthem's song, Meet me by the river's edge, and they give a pretty accurate assessment of what you can expect from the Jersey quartet's sophomore release: The 59' Sound.

Their lyrics reference all of the classics from Tom Petty, to The Counting Crows, to Bob Seger and inevitably The Boss. The title of the record, The 59' Sound, is a reference to the infamous  "day the music died". Song titles such as, Miles Davis and the Cool, only heighten the nostalgic feeling of this record.

Clearly, this is a band that respects the roots and history of music. A quality that seems to be fading in the current era. The album opener, Great Expectations, actually begins with the sound of a vinyl player being scratched by the sound of a needle. From this point on, the record sets the tone for what is to come. 

"Born to run" era storytelling, juiced up reverb on the vocals, countless references to rock 'n' roll legends and musicianship at its finest. All of this, and the band still seems to effortlessly fit into the notorious "Jersey" sound. 

The sheer honesty, and passion behind the vocals of lead vocalist, Brian Fallon, are what makes this band so endearing. He seems to have a voice that speaks to the everyman: earnest, believable and strained in the most believable way.

The 59' Sound is the "raison d'ĂȘtre" for this band. Not a single note, or lyric seems forced or unnatural. This is some of the most honest music you can listen to.

Girls, put on your poodle skirts. Boys, find your favourite white t-shirt and pair of blue jeans. Listen to The Gaslight Anthem's, The 59' Sound, and live the experience. Become a believer that honest, inspired music is not dead. And that the legends of our past still sing a sweet tune. It is undoubtedly my pick for best album of 2008.

Recommended if you like: Springsteen, blues+pop punk, The Killers, The Jersey sound, GOOD MUSIC.