Music Monday: Volbeat

I thought for sure I’d posted here about Volbeat before.  But it looks like I was wrong.  Volbeat are a Danish hard rock/metal band that are like some bizarre cross between Elvis, Metallica, and Social Distortion.  I know that combination doesn’t sound possible, but seriously these guys pull it off and then some.  Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil, in addition to having a baddass title, has absolutely no bad songs on it…seriously not a one.  I’ve got three videos for you here, laboriously culled from youtube, of my three favorite songs off Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil.   If you like what you hear hit up your retailer of choice for the whole album; you won’t regret it!  (I don’t own it yet but Guitar Gangster and Cadillac Blood sounds pretty awesome as well.)

1.) The Human Instrument.

2.) Sad Man’s Tongue (this is probably the most Elvis sounding song on album, great stuff)

3.) Radio Girl (this one reminds me a bit of Social Distortion)

Tuesday Music Post: Notes on a Show

I deferred yesterday’s Music Monday post so I could write something about the concert I went to last night.  Seeing as how I’ve managed to attend at lest 1 concert every month since January I have wondered, frequently, if it is something I should write about.  Since the nominal goal is to hit at least 1 concert a month for the year (yay, New Years Resolutions!) there will be more concerts to come and I suppose something ought to be said.  Yesterday, on a Monday of all days, me and my good friend Val trekked out the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ (one of the oddest locations for a moderately sized music venue) to catch Flogging Molly.

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Music Monday: Mega Man Rocks

The Megas, Get Acoustic
The Megas, Get Acoustic

I’ll be honest I’ve never beat any Mega Man game. In fact I can probably count the number of hours I’ve spent playing Mega Man games and still have a couple of fingers left. Both facts which my love for music from Mega Man all the stranger. Or maybe it isn’t that strange given the Japanese title for the series: Rockman. I would go ahead an argue that Mega Man has some of the best video game music in any series today as catchy and head bob inducing in its 8-bit glory as any modern rock song is today.

All of this is to highlight my musical selection this pollen infested miserable (re: beautiful spring) day: Get Acoustic by The Megas. The Megas are, surprise surprise, a Los Angeles based rock band who sing songs inspired by, and structured, around the songs from Mega Man 2. Their first album Get Equiped, released in 2008, is a grand tour through Mega Man 2 in epic hard rockin’ fashion, but I think pales in comparison to their acoustic version Get Acoustic, that released back in March.

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Nerdcore Twofer

Unless I’m mistaken I have found no traces that anyone at all has reviewed or spoken about Schaffer the Darklord’s


2009 release Manslaughterer.  Schaffer, or STD, is one of the best rapper….excuse me rappists operating in the nerdcore scene and has put out another fine entry with Manslaughterer.  Schaffer is at his best when he is both irreverent and over-the-top (Night of the Living Christ, F*ck this song, Revenge of the Attack of the Clone Fuckers, being some of the best things I’ve heard in recent years) and that is a trend that continues in Manslaughterer. Standout tracks like Godammit, a tongue-in-cheek exploration of an oft-used expletive, and Very Bad Man evidence Schaffer’s penchant for ignoring boundaries and tackling topics head on and knuckles first.  Indeed Schaffer’s penchant for foul language and occasionally disturbing though oft-hilarious lyrical imagery is even mentioned in a short skit with MC Frontalot.  Schaffer even pokes fun at internet hate mail with H-Mail, in many ways a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Eminem’s Stan, compiles a rock-and-roll super creature with MC Lars in Monster of Rock and narrates the epic battle royale to determine who is the top font in Battlefont.  So, if you’re looking for quality, diverse nerdcore rap that embodies the elements that make it such a fun genre then look no further then Manslaughterer by Schaffer the Darklord available via your download service of choice and the ever awesome CD Baby.

Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more free perhaps you might consider checking out Kabuto the Python’s free EP Shed Skins for a sampling of this distinct rapper’s work.  He has a unique voice, laid back style, and undeniable talent.  God of War, Mad Rappers, and Star Wars LOL are some pretty sweet tracks worth listening to; especially at the grand total of 100% free. 

Shed Skin
Shed Skin

Shed Skin even includes acapella versions of its contents which are fascinating to listen to.  Of course, Kabuto also put out a free full-length back in December that I’ve yet to have a chance to listen to so if you like what you hear on Shed Skins you might want to give the Parseltongue Mixtape (also free!) a try.  Kabuto is one talented dude and well worth your time; trust me!   You can, of course, sample the enigmatic Kabuto the Python at his myspace page.

Music Review: Kitty, Daisy and Lewis

Kitty Daisy and Lewis
Kitty Daisy and Lewis

Kitty Daisy and Lewis
Kitty Daisy and Lewis
Downtown, 2009 [US]

While I tend to talk more about metal and progressive music here on this blog I have, over the last several years, been fostering a growing interest in the blues.  I prefer the acoustic blues styling of Mississippi John Hurt (if you don’t own or haven’t heard Avalon Blues, do yourself a favor and do so) but the emergence of electric delta blues in the 1950s (mainly through the work of John Lee Hooker who, despite being born in Mississippi, recorded and played in the Detroit and Chicago area at the start of his career) produced some of the best music in American history.  Music whose influence can still be heard today; whether it be in contemporary blues acts or in the hard rocking tunes of bands like Black Label Society.  While discussing my interest in blues, and Chuck Berry, with a co-worker one day he mentioned a new British trio: Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis who had recorded and released an album of 50s era rock, blues, and R & B tunes.  While it took me a while to finally pick up a copy of their debut I’m certainly glad I did.

A sibling trio from the UK whose self titled debut hit US shores last year, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis recorded all tracks using analog audio equipment.  Each track, every one of them, sounds absolutely one hundred percent fantastic.  Part of that is the timeless quality that 50s American roots music seems to have and the rest is the energy and vitality that the siblings bring to the preceding.  Quite simply these kids (ages 17-21) rock.  They’re young, their myspace page even lists their parents Graeme and Ingrid as the guitarist and bassist for the group, but they are phenomenally talented and enthusiastic about music and music history.  I’m not going to do a track by track break down, check out the samples over on their myspace page as I’m of the opinion the music sells itself better then I could.  If you’re a fan of good music and American Roots music then I think you’re going to enjoy what you hear.

High Speed GTO

High Speed GTO by White Wizzard
High Speed GTO by White Wizzard

“Traditional” metal band White Wizzard released their 7 song EP yesterday and while enjoyable none of the other 6 songs manage to match the energy and charm as the opening title track “High Speed GTO.”  That doesn’t mean they’re bad, far from it in fact, and if old-school, high energy, leather and denim clad metal is something you’re missing your life than this is EP is likely exactly what you’re looking for.  In fact I would argue that the title track alone is worth purchase of the entire album; it is that much fun.  Don’t believe me?  Hit the jump for the songs completely awesome music video.  Seriously, if this video doesn’t make you smile then there is something broken inside you.

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Another Music Post!

I was listening to the Seattle Geekly podcast this morning when a snippet of a song caught my attention.  In fact it caught my attention that immediately ran into work and popped open the show notes to find out its name.  Turns out it is by talented and hilarious singer/songwriter/all around cool dude John Anealio whose blog, Sci-fi Songs, I’ve run across before but somehow never managed to bookmark.  What song was it?  A little number called “Summer Glau.”   It is a short song and, given her recent tenure as a robot killing machine, I think in need of a few extra verses!   Anyhoo, check out this nice little fan made montage/video of the song after the jump:

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Metal Review: As the Path Unfolds by Crimfall

As the Path Unfolds
Napalm, 2099
Crimfall at Myspace

One word comes to mind when listening to this album: Epic.

First, a bit of history.  Crimfall is the brainchild of Jakke Viitala who, after recording some demos for himself decided he liked the material so much that he sought out two vocalists: Mikko Häkkinen and Helena Haaparanta to help make his vision come to life.  Throw in a bevy of talented studio musicians and pitch perfect production and you have one powerful piece of metal musicanship.

Crimfall falls squarely into some new range between progressive, folk, and viking metal.  Häkkinen provides the harsh gutteral vocals familiar to fans of viking metal while Haaparanta’s smooth, silky vocals are on par with anything Nightwish has to offer.  Viitala employs a broad range of guitar work from the heavy crunch and ponderous tempo of vikining metal to a clean toned delicate approach to some technically trickery that typically rears its head when you least expect.  However the album would be nothing without the studio musicians who add a texture and sense of the  grandiose that is hard to ignore.

The opening track Neothera Awakening surprised me and will likely have new listeners wondering what movie it came from.  For some reason it had me reliving fond memories of playing Baldur’s Gate II.  As the Path Unfolds plays out like it should be an epic fantasy so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I found my thoughts drifting in that direction.  The occaisonal sound effect does reinforce the album’s almost theatrical production but never veers into the realm of something likey Night Falls on Middle Earth.

   There are moments on this album when I feel like it might be slipping into more pedestrian and well traveled areas of the metal genre but this is almost always immediatley assauged by some new bit or original touch that suddenly swoops in and carries you away on some new and interesting journey.  Despite my love for this album I think that it’ll be an aquired taste for some.  By combining several different niches of the metal genre Crimfall has the potential of being a band that appeals to some of the more disaparate areas of metal fandom but at the same time the folk and progressive trappings of the album will due little to draw fans who are already set against both.  Check out the band’s myspace page to hear some free samples, I think the power and quality of the music really speaks for itself.  Regardless As the Path Unfolds is a remarkably mature debut from a new band and I for one can only hope for greater heights in future endeavors.

2008 Bests: Music

I didn’t come across too much new music that really excited me this year; especially new items released in 2008.  While Metallica’s latest entry Death Magnetic was certainly hard hitting and leap years beyond their previous album it didn’t really capture my imagination.  Likewise Chinese Democracy was a huge letdown.  While that band is Guns n’ Roses it is GNR in name only.  The album tries to walk a little too close to the line between the glory of yesteryears and a modern sound; it never quite succeeds in either.

By a large 2008’s strongest release was by OpethWatershed is in my opinion one of the greatest progressive rock/metal albums of all time.  It is a carefully constructed piece of work full of soaring melodies and intricate features of intense musicianship.  If you’re at all a fan of metal, or progressive music, you should own this album.  By and large this is my favorite album of 2008 from a band that lacks real name recognition outside it’s genre; which is a shame since these guys are absolutely phenomenal.

Two albums that were constantly returning to my playlist this year were 2007 releases that I discovered in 2008.  Italian progressive metal band Raintime’s Flies & Lies offers a more synth-heavy approach than Opeth and manages to produce some staggeringly anthemic riffs including the heaviest cover of a Michael Jackson song you’ll ever hear.  I suppose Five Finger Death Punch are a thrash band but with definate leanings towards metalcore but their debut album, Way of the Fist, features some hard-hitting tracks with some seriously impressive drumming and an aggressive sound that is impossible to ignore.  That isn’t these guys only shtick as they were, for a while, doing a mini tour of Best Buys playing acoustic sets.  Their acoustic version of their single The Bleeding reveals a band as technically proficient and musically talented as any other veteran band on the metal scene.

2008 was also the year of the geek for me as I delved even further in the Geek music scene.  Newer video game bands eclipsed some of the older ones.  Minibosses while classic, cannot hold a candle to Powerglove and few video game bands have quite the range and sounds of jazz/funk/rock band the One-ups.  I also delved beyond the MC Frontalot level of the nerdcore scene, snatching up some of the RhymeTorrents compilations, and the advent of the Childs Play Benefit CD from Penny Arcade introduced me to Nerdcore rapper Beefy whose debut album Rolling Doubles features some smooth tracks.

All in all it was a good year on the music scene, though not a great one, but I look forward to a 2009 filled with many more awesome releases: God Forbid’s Earthsblood (2/29), Sepultura’s A-lex (1/26), Lamb of God’s Wrath (2/24), the JoCo concert DVD  just to name a few.  2009 looks to be a good year for the metal scene; here’s hoping at least.

Games and Music

After seeing Powerglove open for Dragonforce this past Wednesday I’ve had video game music on the brain.  Apparently SF/F web zine Strange Horizons has a direct feed to my thoughts as they posted a thoughtful essay on the topic, which attempts to explain how music in games differs from music in other media.  A post about Left 4 Dead over at Gamers with Jobs also had some interesting comments about the music from the first Halo game.  I hadn’t realize quite how intertwined gameplay and audio were in that series but as this interview proves, Martin O’Donnell (composer) is intimatley aware of the subtle complexities involved in the creating a game soundtrack.  However one might feel about the Halo series they’ve always done production value well and that transaltes into some truly stunning and engaging music that is memorable and epic in scope.

Anyhoo, just some thoughts on this exhausting post-holiday Monday.  Be sure to check out Music 4 Games for news/review of the last video games soundtracks and music.