Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CD Review: The Ettes Want “Power” With New Release

The Ettes released their third album entitled “Do You Want Power” and have also just returned from a successful European tour opening for the Kings of Leon. Their music is raw and upbeat that makes you wanna move. The trio does a great job filling-in the sound while having each instrument sound alone.

The Ettes new album showcases the progress of the band's song writing as their music flows from punk rock to folk ballads. The album's opener, "Red In Tooth and Claw" runs in the same vein of music as the White Stripes and Jack White’s latest band “The Dead Weather”, but The Ettes dare you to “give them a chance”. The band's punk style shows through in "I Can't Be True". The sound is similar to their recent touring partners Kings of Leon. With the first few songs having a familiar sound, the band truly starts to come into their own on “Take It With You”. The chord changes in this song keeps the energy flowing right through to the vocals. The beats of "Blood Red Blood" and "Seasons" give a much needed edge to their songs, while the softer side of The Ettes is also a breath of fresh air. "Love Lies Bleeding", "Keep Me In Flowers" and "While Your Girl's Away" keep the listener focused on the lyrics as the music floats by in the background.

The Ettes are currently on tour in the western half of the United States. Their songs will be featured in upcoming episodes of HBO’s Entourage and in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut “Whip It”. Their new album is available on itunes as well as at amazon.com. For more information, check out the band’s website www.TheEttes.com.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Concert Review: Alice Cooper’s “Theatre of Death” Comes To The MGM Grand

At 61 years of age, Alice Cooper has mastered the art of “dying” onstage. His demonstration of this ability of illusion was spotlighted in his current “Theatre of Death” tour. Cooper’s theatrics are definitely not made for Broadway, but play perfectly to his legion of fans.

As the curtain dropped, the sound of a ringing school bell and lead guitar intro of “School’s Out” blared throughout the MGM Grand Theatre. Cooper’s masterfully planned set list did not shy away from his hits as he incorporated them perfectly into his sequence of “deaths”. His breakthrough hit, “I’m Eighteen” led to the evening’s first “death” scene as one of Cooper’s henchmen/stagehand was speared by a giant pole. The thunder and lightning of “Welcome To My Nightmare” took life out of a dancing bride. Cooper proceeded to dance with the bride’s corpse during “Cold Ethyl”. Back to back 1971 hits “Is It My Body” and “Be My Lover” brought an end to the life of “Nurse Rosetta”. But that evening, even Alice Cooper himself could not escape death’s hand as he was killed on four different occasions throughout the evening. He first met his demise at the conclusion of the “Ballad of Dwight Fry” as his head was separated from the rest of his body by a guillotine. His biggest hit in recent memory, “Poison” led to his second “death” by a needle injection. The ballad “I Never Cry” was sung with a noose around his neck as the stool was knocked out from underneath the singer’s feet, displaying his lifeless body for a moment. Cooper’s band proceeded to take over the stage, performing the instrumental “The Black Widow”, as Alice Cooper would later appear again to shouts of “vengeance” from last year’s song “Vengeance Is Mine”. Cooper’s final “death” of the evening followed the decapitation of a doll’s head during “Billion Dollar Babies”. Forced into a box, Cooper was on the receiving end of sharp swords at the conclusion of his song “Killer”. Alice Cooper reappeared once more to end his 90-plus minute set with the anthem “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels”.

The one song encore found Cooper sporting a mirror plated jacket, complete with tails and a top hat. The school bell rang once again as Cooper emerged from a smoke-filled stage to finish the evening with his biggest hit “School’s Out”. The “Theatre of Death” tour has certainly lived up to its billing with no less than 8 separate killings performed that evening to the delight of his fans.

Setlist:
School’s Out
Department Of Youth
I’m Eighteen
Wicked Young Man
Ballad Of Dwight Fry
Go To Hell
Guilty
Welcome To My Nightmare
Cold Ethyl
Poison
The Awakening
From The Inside
Nurse Rozetta
Is It My Body
Be My Lover
Only Women Bleed
I Never Cry
The Black Widow
Vengeance Is Mine
Devil’s Food
Dirty Diamonds
Billion Dollar Babies
Killer
I Love The Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
School’s Out

Monday, September 21, 2009

CD Review: Hard Work Pays Off For Janus

The band Janus hails from Chicago. Studying the hard rock/punk bands of the nineties, Janus has built upon their foundation by adding more to the music than just drums and guitars. Their music feels more mature, intricate and complete as shown on their new album "Red Right Return" released September 22 on Realid Records. The album was recorded, produced and created by the band themselves.

The album's opener "Six Letters Sent" just hits you in the face with its pounding drums and buzzing guitars while David Scotney's vocals flow over the top. The energy of the rhythm section of Alan Quitman on bass and Johnny Salazar on percussion is on full display of "If I Were You". The first single from the album, "Eyesore" shows the band firing on all cylinders. Scotney screams the chorus with unworldly passion. The band's power continues with "Skin Deep" before turning the energy down slightly for the politically charged "Your Arms". Guitarist Mike Tyranski gives "The Nerve" its edge, with Scotney's vocals following his lead. Janus never lets up, finishing their album with the high-powered rockers "Stranger" and "100 Years".

Their music has been featured on both MTV and NBC television shows and has been spreading throughout the airwaves of the radio. A video for the single "Eyesore" is currently available on the band's myspace page. The band is currently on tour in the south and Midwest region of the country before heading to the west coast. For more information on Janus' "Red Right Return" visit the band's website www.janusmusic.com.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meriden's Matt Beal Is California Dreamin'

Meriden native Matt Beal has found the success he was looking for, but not here. Growing up, Matt idolized the heavy metal guitarist of the 1980's. As soon as he heard Randy Rhodes peel off guitar chords, he knew that was what he wanted to do. Instead of sticking close to home, Matt was drawn to the California rock scene and his gamble has paid off. Matt released his solo album debut in 2006. It's an album that displays all of Matt's hard work. Written, recorded, produced and released on his own, "Contributions For An Atom Bomb" proudly displays the talents of Matt's guitar abilities.

The album carries a classic rock sound modernized by Matt's singing. Right from the beginning of the opening track "Atom Bomb", Matt's guitar becomes the main focus. "Sabrina" has a Bon Scott era AC/DC sound with the lyrics being belted out as if the ghost of Bon Scott himself was singing. "Awake" carries a Black Crowes swagger to the lyrics. Matt displays his talent as in the hard rock, fuzz guitar of "CuffViMitt" and the 90's alternative "Guarantee". The soul-baring rocker "Things I Don't Need" gives way to pop sounds of "Love's The Drug". With so many different sounds, this album becomes a sampler of Matt's talents as a songwriter and guitarist.

Since the release of his album, things have taken off. He established his own record company called Corporate Anarchy Records. He's performed with a number of well-established artists in the music business. Matt recently played at Cheech Marin's wedding, performing the Cheech & Chong classic "Earache In My Eye". He has also been featured in a couple of coffee table books about music celebrities. But, some of his biggest challenges lie ahead of him. Matt has put the wheels in motion for a music festival. A "sort of" street festival that would feature rock and heavy metal bands from Los Angeles as well some other well established names. He wants the focus of the festival to be about the music and less about the money. Matt is also currently working on his follow-up solo album. He has already written a number of songs and has contacted Mike Inez (Alice In Chains) to perform bass duties for the album. Matt wants to get away from the production aspect of the album and be able to concentrate more on his music and lyrics. Matt notices that "Kids love all the classic stuff on Rock Band and Guitar Hero. That's my sound."

"It's been a real interesting journey out here and a lot has happened", giving Matt some life lessons that I'm sure will be spun together for future songs. For more information on Matt Beal visit myspace.com/mattbealrocks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Record Shows

Now that summer's almost gone, and the kids are back in school, it is time once again for the Cromwell Record Riot. It has been 4 months since the last Cromwell Record Riot (I hope you saved your pennies). The Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, CT will once again be swarmed with vendors and collectors looking for that missing piece of music collection. This Sunday, September 20, is the date. The Crowne Plaza is located off exit 21 from I-91. Admission is $3. Come early (9:30 am - 3:30 pm) as not to miss out on some great deals on CDs, vinyl, DVDs, T-shirts, posters and more. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list to receive notices and admission discounts.

Now, if your Sunday is bogged down with picnics, parties and football, there is hope. On Saturday, September 19, there is the aptly titled "Back To School" Record Convention. It will take place at the Hamden Elks Lodge. Easily located off I-91 and Route 15 (Merritt Parkway). Admission is $3. The "Back To School" Record Convention will feature over 20 vendors, DJs, food and cash bar. This record show is open to ALL AGES from 10:30 am - 5 pm.

Both shows will be filled with plenty of music paraphernalia. So stop by either Saturday or Sunday or both days and check out all the great deals this weekend.

If this weekend is bad for you because of poor timing, do not fear. The next New Haven Record Riot will take place Sunday, October 11 at the YMA Annex in New Haven. Admission is $3 and will run from 9:30 am - 3 pm. So, I don't want to hear any complaints that their isn't any good places to buy music anymore. Here are 3 reasons to go out and get some new music for your collections.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is Connecticut The "Jamband" Capital Of America?

It is a very good question and definitely one worth considering. After all, four (The Dead, Allman Brothers Band, Phish & Dave Matthews Band) of the most popular jambands of all-time performed in Hartford this year. Not to mention that, Widespread Panic was brought along with the Allman Brothers Band last month to close the Comcast Music Theatre's summer events. Now I'm sure that a lot of states can say that those five bands have played in their state this year, but let us continue the debate. Another popular jamband, Umphrey's McGee performed in New Haven, CT earlier this year to add one more to the list, but the "icing on the cake" is the annual Gathering of the Vibes festival held in Bridgeport, CT. This festival is one of the largest summer festivals in the country, bringing some of the best "jambands" year after year. So I would say that Connecticut has a very good argument at being the "jamband" capital of the country, wouldn't you say so.

Monday, September 7, 2009

CD Review: Assembly Of Dust "Required" Listening

The new album by Assembly of Dust appropriately titled "Some Assembly Required" is refreshing blend of "back to basics" instrumentation and poetic lyrics. If only more bands took this similar approach to making an album. Not only do you get some of AOD's best songs, but each song features a guest musician or singer to help them out. AOD does a great job utilizing the strength of each guest to their advantage.

Beginning with the acoustic folk strumming "All That I Am Now" featuring Richie Havens. The band seems to have fun with the folk legend, daring him to "one up" their performance. The crisp acoustics of "Cold Coffee" get highlighted by the mandolin master David Grisman. The song sounds like an out-take from The Band's "Music From The Big Pink". Guitar virtuoso Keller Williams is featured on the album's lead-off single, "The Second Song". Keller Williams adds his guitar flavor to the song, but I believe more of his talents could have been utilized. The song "Leadbelly" is one step away from country-song glamor. Jerry Douglas' dobro/pedal steel guitar echos Reid Genauer's vocals nicely. Guitarist Tony Rice appears twice on this album, once on "Light Blue Lover" with Grace Potter, who helps out on the chorus. She gives the song a much welcomed soul blues vibe. The other song featuring Tony Rice is "Revelry" which features the electrical vocals of Martin Sexton. These acoustic songs give the album a very laid back, front porch swinging feeling, but AOD also knows how to plug in. The songs "Pedal Down" and "High Brow" feature some exceptional guitar work. These songs could definitely be turned into jams when performed live. One of the biggest names on the album is Mike Gordon from fellow "jam-band" Phish. His addition of bass and backing vocals on "Arc Of The Sun" gives the song a Phish vibe, but not enough to call it an imitation. Assembly of Dust do a great jobs keeping these songs all their own, by not giving in to the styles of the guests, but instead expanding the guests to perform in their style.

This album was released in July 2009 and is available through the band's website as well as itunes and amazon. The band is currently on tour in New England before heading out west in October. Check out aodust.com for more information on this release and more.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Music Festival For A Good Cause

The Quassy Amusement Park in Middleburry, CT will play host to the Are You Dense MusicFest. It will take place on Saturday, September 12 and proceeds from the festival will go to the "Are You Dense?" organization. The "Are You Dense?" organization is devoted to educating women about dense breast tissue and the early detection of breast cancer.

The all-day festival will feature gospel bands, acoustic artists, heavy metal and more. The headliners of the day are The New Rascals (Groovin', Good Lovin') featuring original members Dino Danelli and Gene Cornish. Tickets for this event are $35.00 in advance and $45.00 at the gate. Tickets include the MusicFest, all day Quassy Amusement Park ride pass, parking and tickets for food and drink.

For more information about this event and about the "Are You Dense?" organization, please visit www.areyoudense.org.