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All posts for the month February, 2013

George-Harrison

By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

Lyrics in Sir George Harrison’s “Run of the Mill” launches an attempted analysis of unexpected solo careers such as the quiet Beatle’s (who was actually the first of the four to have a solo record) and who was one of the most monumentous solo artists because he ventured outside of his previously associated genres to accommodate his messages.

Most fans were aware he wrote and/or performed at least one or two songs for most Beatle albums. And while in the earlier years, they were oftentimes not “A-sides,” the songs he composed himself progressed as some of the most substantial songs in music history.

Indeed, one of the masters, Frank Sinatra, recorded “Something” and was once quoted as saying, “[it was] the greatest love song of the past 50 years.” Even more substantial are the songs written after the supposed muse of said composition cheated on him and left him for his best friend. (Oh, but giving him a guitar a while later was sure to be an even exchange!)

Maybe it was. George later asserted the song was actually about God. (Hindu god, Krishna, who is also a god of music).

Joshua M. Greene, writer of Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, quoted Harrison in the book:

“Actually,” George said, “it’s about Krishna. But I couldn’t say he could I? I had to say she,” adding with a twinkle in his eye, “or they would think I’m a poof.”

Greene went on to say, “George rarely elaborated on his work, preferring to let the music speak for itself. Still, in many songs he had begun equating love between a soul and God with love between a woman and a man – it was often hard to tell what which he meant.”

This is where he became a guru in his own right.

The longstanding and respected tradition of a sacred student-teacher relationship in Indian culture extended into his training with Ravi Shankar, a renowned sitarist. He reflected such sentiments in his solo lyrics. These sorts of relationships, and friendships, were most praised. Incidentally, it was this approach that gained the love of fans that really appreciated records such as, “All Things Must Pass,” and “Living in the Material World.”

Though he never gave me lessons like how Ravi and he had, he has taught me so much about life and death.

Mr. Harrison would have been 70 on Feb. 25, 2013. Happy 70th, Georgie! But you don’t care what age you are or aren’t. You were always a kindred spirit of mine. I secretly wished you could have been my teacher. But he was anyway. Just listen to the records, kids.

“Music is the higest form of education.” – The Rig Veda

The Solo Harrison Discography:

  • Wonderwall Music (1968)
  • Electronic Sound (1969)
  • All Things Must Pass (1970)
  • Living In the Material World (1973)
  • Dark Horse (1974)
  • Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975)
  • Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)
  • George Harrison (1979)
  • Somewhere In England (1981)
  • Gone Troppo (1982)
  • Cloud Nine (1987)
  • Brainwashed (2002)
Skull'Rz Bane: Drew Johnson (vocals, guitars) and Roxanne Johnson (drums, vocals).

Skull’Rz Bane: Drew Johnson (vocals, guitars) and Roxanne Johnson (drums, vocals).

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

After floating in and out of various projects, guitarist and singer Drew Johnson formed Skull’Rz Bane in 2005 with the intent of taking his brand of leather-clad, soaring heavy metal up a notch. However, it wasn’t until a year later that Drew’s daughter, Roxanne, sat behind the drum kit by complete chance, that the band’s line-up was solidified. And what began as a simple jam between a father and daughter, sparked something far beyond what either of them could have ever fathomed.

“And from that moment on, I was the drummer,” said Roxanne.

Skull’Rz Bane then took on a bit of a heavy metal White Stripes vibe, when the father-daughter team began charging forward. And after a slew of bassists that came and went, the band realized that remaining a duo was the perfect route.

“After going through several bass players, Rox and I decided to just move forward as a duo. And it’s been great, we know what to expect from each other and we have a great time doing this!” said Drew.

Skull’Rz Bane have quickly risen to become one of Northeast Ohio’s premiere hard rock/heavy metal acts, continually playing gigs and leaving their mark.

“We’ll play anywhere that lets us and to anyone who’ll want to see us,” said Roxanne. “We also keep a list of every show we’ve ever played.”

It’s this exact mentality, along with innovative promotional tactics, that have propelled the band from a local, to regional, to a quickly blooming national act.

“We’re always looking for new ways to push ourselves and our music and reach new people,” added Drew. “Social media is very important these days and we take advantage of every outlet we can.”

Over the past six years, they have embarked on a handful of tours along the east coast, building a buzz and leaving a lasting impression along the way.

“We have fans in central Massachusetts that are asking when we’re going to come back. It’s a really cool thing,” said Drew.

Despite the increasing success, Skull’Rz Bane remain extremely humbled and focused. They play every gig they possibly can and reach as many fans as possible too. Their determination is unbridled, as they never cancel gigs, not even when one of their own has a serious injury.

“I had a sprained ankle and had to finish the show,” said Roxanne. “My foot was killing me afterward and we had a show the next night. So I kept it iced and wrapped and tried to stay off it as much as possible so I could get through the next night’s show.”

After being stabbed in 2010 and having his wrists broken in a separate instance, Drew remained completely optimistic claiming that good karma had worked in his favor in both of the unfortunate events.

“I was born with some organs out of place. But after the stabbing, I noticed I was able to sing better and harder because I could better control my breathing,” said Drew. “Before I broke my wrists, I was suffering from arthritis in my hands and it would’ve eventually affected my guitar playing. But having the bones broken, it released the arthritis and I haven’t had a problem since.

Not only are the members of Skull’Rz Bane extremely driven individuals, they have killer music that has blown fans away across the region. The crushing thrash-like riffs of “White Crosses” and “Run For Your Life” can appease even the most jaded metal fan, while others like “Welcome to My Prison” and “Masterpiece” showcase their incredibly tight musicality as a two-piece heavy metal band, with the latter also showcasing Roxanne’s unique vocal ability. Cuts from their latest offering, 2012, can be streamed via their ReverbNation page.

Since 2008, Skull’Rz Bane have been the masterminds behind the annual ROXfEST. What started as a birthday celebration for Roxanne with a handful of their peers rocking and partying hard, has now spawned into an annual festival featuring over 40 bands, two stages and an endless supply of ass-kicking, loud rock and roll!

“It’s really cool to be a part of something like this and the people just love it! We can’t wait to do it again this year!” said Roxanne.

ROXfEST 2013 will again take place at Buffalo Hollow, just outside of East Palestine, Ohio on Aug. 23, 24 and 25. Pre-sale tickets as well as submissions for bands and vendors are available at www.roxfest.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Meshuggah-Pitch-Black-EP-604x604

 Artist: Meshuggah

Album: Pitch Black (EP)

Release Date: 2/5/13

Rating: 3.8/5

Fans of Swedish extreme prog-metalers Meshuggah usually expect to wait a few years before hearing any new material. Just look at the sizable gap between 2008’s obZen and last year’s Koloss. It seemed as though all signs pointed to another lengthy gestation period between releases. However, they’ve managed to keep up the momentum with the release of a new EP, Pitch Black.

It is most likely because Meshuggah take so long to write and record new material that this is just an EP, and not a new LP. But it also marks partnership between the band and Scion AV, who are offering Pitch Black as a free download via their website. The release is basically a two-track morsel, or appetizer, to briefly satisfy fans’ appetites as they await the proper follow-up to Koloss.

Pitch Black kicks off with the title-track, a mid-tempo stomper crammed full of their signature use of polyrhythms, time signature shifts and the 8-string chugging riffs of guitarists Mårten Hagström and Fredrik Thordendal. While it’s not a huge departure in sound for the band, one noticeable difference is Jen Kidman’s vocals. They’re less guttural yet slightly more sinister. The front man sounds like he’s possessed when he snarls about stepping into oblivion and being consumed by voids of perpetual darkness over the course of the track’s six minutes. Add one of the band’s unconventional atonal guitar leads (not a traditional solo in anyone’s book) around the two-minute mark, some hypnotizing droning in the middle followed by a furious conclusion, and you have a track that epitomizes Meshuggah’s ability for writing songs that not only push, but obliterate the boundaries of extreme music.

One of the most fascinating aspects of a band like Meshuggah, is they don’t appear to write complex music just for the sake of it, rather their unorthodox songwriting comes quite naturally to them. While many songwriters would never dare venture outside the realms of a safe 4/4 time signature, they seem most comfortable when they’re experimenting with skittering rhythms and off-kilter grooves. That being said, a song like Pitch Black” may be impressive for its sheer musicianship alone, but its most striking feature is that it simply sounds like Meshuggah; a feat no other band can replicate.

The second half of the EP is a live recording of Dancers To A Discordant System,” a track taken from obZen. Sure, it’s not exactly a second offering of new material that some were hoping for, but it’s still a near 10-minute reminder that Meshuggah are a tight-knit unit in a live setting and that their music isn’t just mere studio trickery or ProTools.

I realize Valentine’s Day has already passed by the time this will be published. So let’s think of it as preparing for next year. Who knows, you may be in a new relationship by then. Or you may be one of the unlucky few who got dumped before Cupid could come around and restart your relationship with one of his arrows. Either way, you’re going to need something to listen to when the time comes. And here are some of my humble suggestions.

– Joel Anderson (Art and Poetry Editor)

Break-up songs

Train in Vain (Stand by Me) – The Clash

Wish Me Well – The Bouncing Souls

Yes It Is – The Beatles

Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots – Saves The Day

Operator – Jim Croce

Cold Hands Warm Heart – Brendan Benson

Tomorrow Too Late – Saves The Day

Save Me – Queen

When Did Your Heart Go Missing – Rooney

The Alternative to Love – Brendan Benson

Lovefool – The Cardigans

The Receiving End Of It All – Streetlight Manifesto

Dear Ms. Leading – The Dear Hunter

Somebody to Love – Queen

Break Up Song – The Bouncing Souls

Oh Lately It’s So Quiet – Ok Go

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon

Drunk Again – Reel Big Fish

Nothing Better – The Postal Service

Red Rubber Ball – Streetlight Manifesto

Devotion and Desire (acoustic) – Bayside

Missed Again – Phil Collins

You’re a Waste – Be Your Own Pet

Who’s Gonna Save My Soul – Gnarls Barkley

Another You – John Mayer

Love Songs

It Must Be Love – Madness

She’s Always on My Mind – Phantom Planet

Look at Me – John Lennon

Alive With the Glory of Love – Say Anything

Missing Piece – Forgive Durden

Don’t Talk Put Your Head on My Shoulder – The Beach Boys

Anybody Else But You – The Moldy Peaches

Lover Rock – The Clash

El Scorcho – Weezer

I Will – The Beatles

Everlong – Foo Fighters

The Book of Love – Peter Gabriel

She Love Me So – Anthony Green

She’s Always a Woman – Billy Joel

If I Had a Gun – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Blue Veins – The Raconteurs

I Love You – Under The Influence of Giants

My Beautiful Rescue – This Providence

Maybe I’m Amazed – Wings

Real Love – John Lennon

How to Hang a Warhol – Little Joy

After Hours – Velvet Underground

Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughn

Crazy Love – Van Morrison

Something – The Beatles

My Bloody Valentine circe 1991. Photo courtesy of alternativepress.com

My Bloody Valentine circa 1991. Photo courtesy of alternativepress.com

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

More than two decades after releasing their seminal masterpiece, Loveless, My Bloody Valentine reemerge with a follow-up simply titled, MBV.

Believe it or not, the last time My Bloody Valentine, the half-Irish, half-English, half-male, half-female quartet had a record out, grunge ruled the airwaves, cell phones were the size of milk cartons, the Internet was in less than 10 percent of American homes and people still listened to music on those tiny round discs, just to put it in perspective.

Loveless, released in 1991, garnered the band heavy critical acclaim with a large audience among the alternative and indie rock scenes. The album epitomized the “shoegaze” movement, which consisted of post-punk rock filtered through a screen of heavy guitar distortion with atmospheric, and often eerie effects. My Bloody Valentine embodied this completely, crafting pop songs that sounded like they were being dragged through the dirt.

The band supported the album with the typical world tour which earned them the reputation of one of the underground’s most exciting acts, with great anticipation for a follow-up.

And then… Nothing happened.

The band fell off the radar and disappeared completely. By 1997, a handful of performances happened with the project’s mastermind, guitarist and chief songwriter Kevin Shields, stating that a new album was in the works. These plans fell through as Shields and other band members went off and collaborated on a variety of other projects. By 2007, rumors again began flooding the Internet of the band’s return, but still nothing. Finally, in late 2012, with a handful of new gigs booked, Shields announced that a new album had been recorded and was ready to be mixed and released via the Internet.On Saturday Feb. 2, MBV was released exclusively through the band’s website. The site was down within minutes as the high volume of traffic crashed the server, making it difficult for anxious fans who’ve been waiting 22 years to get their hands on new material.

Often times when a band or artist releases a much-hyped album after years in the making, it can be difficult to live up to that hype and well, they sometimes fall flat. This is what’s come to be known as Chinese Democracy-syndrome (Chinese Democracy, being the highly anticipated Guns N’ Roses album, 17 years in the making, that proved lackluster to many). However, Kevin Shields is no Axl Rose, and MBV clearly indicates that whatever he was up to for the past 22 years, he took his time and got it right.

The album opens with the dreamy “She Found Now,” reintroducing My Bloody Valentine to the world with their signature droning sonic attack. From there, the riff-heavy “Only Tomorrow” and “Who Sees You” take flight, slamming Shields’ signature tremolo and distortion with lead singer and guitarist Bilinda Butcher’s haunting vocals. From there, the raw noise of “If I Am” and the throbbing bass line of “New You” clearly set the focus of the album, only to be followed by the thumping “In Another Way” and “Nothing Is.” Finally, the album concludes with the atmospheric, Stooges-esque guitar freak-out of “Wonder 2.”

Fans of My Bloody Valentine had a lot at stake when it was announced a new album was possibly finally coming out. So much time had passed, it truly was a gamble on whether or not the album would not only live up to the hype, but if it would even be any good at all. MBV picks up right where Loveless left off, sounding as though it could have been released the very next year. It has all the elements the band have become synonymous with, yet still sounds fresh and relevant in 2013.

All in all, MBV is a superb record to add to any collection of great music. For the band who were a great influence to bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and Interpol, they have proved once again that they are the kings and queens of modern alternative rock. The proof is in the music. And sorry Axl, but Mr. Shields and Co. have proven that time is nothing more than a number!

for Mindi

Fear, of course, your dreams

of driving over kids walking

in black at night on the shoulders

of roads. That’s why you inspect

the front end of your little car

every morning for crumpled fenders,

blood and hair, or sniff outside

your neighbors’ doors for

decomposition after dismemberment,

though the edge on your dad’s machete

dulls in the dark

of a closet back in Philly.

But also how you wax me

in gin, remember every card

I’ve’ ever discarded.

And though born just twenty-

seven years ago, you know

all the boomer R&R,

the way Dustin Hoffman in

The Rain Man knows the names

of every horse that ever won a race.

Up all night, wine bottle drained

and dropped, you weep

for the AIDS orphans on TV.

 

May you never stop writing

poems, or drinking too much, or

remembering me,

sixty-year-old orphan who needs

your aid, placer in the last race

at Hialeah: Junior out of

Atlanta, three lengths

behind the filly Rain Girl.

The good part is how you get

to jettison all the shit

you’ve saved for over thirty years.

 

The bad part is how bad you want

to salvage all the shit

you’ve saved for thirty years:

 

the vase from Venice, jug

from Jamaica, platter that traveled

two thousand miles swaddled

 

in smelly socks and split-crotch shorts,

the jar of Cymru clay we thought

would be the urn to hold our ashes.

 

And now that knot we thought

even death could not undo

has raveled.

 

Where was God when the serpent

joined us in sweet sin, then

severed us forever? When

 

the moving van backed up

to the gates of Eden,

loaded up and drove away

 

eastward, to stop at one house,

unload, and then drive on

to another?

When it came on the radio

tonight I began to weep,

not for the musical,

or the flat, red-dirt state

I was driven through

by those bastards who knew

they weren’t going to hire me

even before they flew me there,

and who, when I asked them

what happened to the trees, said,

tornadoes ripped them all out,

 

But for the grandfather

I never knew,

the Welsh preacher,

north Georgia circuit-rider, who,

instead of shunning his only son’s

fifteen-year-old bride,

met them at the station,

how he drove them, singing,

“Oh, what a beautiful morning”

the whole way home.