Alternative

All posts tagged Alternative

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By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

A great perk to following a local music scene is the undoubted authenticity of hungry musicians. At nearly every turn, in every local venue, there are new and unique artists, experimenting with the future or improving on the past. Those who put in the blood, sweat and tears, especially while maintaining a family and a day job, is nothing short of impressive. But it’s the passion that keeps the scene alive.

Such passion can be unlocked in the music of Spy Convention. As one of the Valley’s most intriguing newcomers, Spy Convention consist of two local doctors, Asif Khan and Zafar Sheik, who, by near accident, decided to take their passion for music to the next level.

“We met by chance at a school function for our kids about 3 years ago, and one day Zafar came over with his family,” said Khan. “There was a guitar sitting in the house, he picked it up and started singing. I was totally impressed and shocked! I had no idea he could sing. We only started writing together in January of 2015, and wrote ‘You Are Not Alone.'”

Featuring a refreshing blend of Post-Punk and early Goth/Darkwave, tracks like “Baltimore” and “Gravity” channel The Psychedelic Furs and Echo and The Bunnymen, while “You Are Not Alone” hints at Interpol’s more updated Indie sensibilities.

With their first batch of singles, Khan and Sheik carve out a unique sound that’s both reminiscent of the past yet feels like the present.

“We both have influences that are quite varied. However, we think everybody has a connection with the music they grew up with and, being of a certain age, that 80s sound resonates with us. It’s kind of in our minds so it naturally comes out in the songwriting process,” said Khan.

Khan indicated that both Indie and Alternative music have both played a crucial role in their musical development.

“As fans of music in general, we have a tendency to search out new music, and there’s always lots of great music being made. We’re fans of indie and alternative bands so all those sounds we’ve heard from the 80s to the present is just a part of us,” said Khan.

With the music of Spy Convention relying heavily on atmosphere, covering such music depth as a duo can get tricky. However, Khan said that both him and Sheik have found a rhythm to crafting their sonic structures.

“We do everything ourselves, drums, guitar and bass primarily by me, and vocals synth by Zafar,” Khan explained. ” Zafar writes the music and lyrics as an idea for a song. We get together and start throwing more ideas out, very simple piano lines for example, and it starts to blossom from there. Our approach is to layer instruments together to get a full sound.”

He also indicated that it’s important to be their own worst critic and to keep it honest in order for the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts.

“Occasionally we will scrap an entire song and start over if need be. This happens rarely but needs to be done if we don’t like it. We also made it a point to criticize without any ego involved. If something is horrible, we say it,” said Khan.

Asif Khan of Spy Convention. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

Zafar Sheik of Spy Convention. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

He added that most importantly, they have to be having true fun in order to keep it worthy of their efforts.

“We started the project first as a diversion with no real expectations. We still really don’t have any expectations. It’s fun, and ZERO pressure. We have kids and lives that demand our attention, so music is purely an escape,” he said.

With the Post Punk Revival of the last decade or so, artists as diverse as Interpol, The Killers and Death From Above 1979, along with relative newcomers like Cloud Nothings, Health and Soft Kill, have in their own unique way, channeled the likes of 80s greats such as The Cure and Joy Division, but have expanded on those ideas to varying levels of success, both artistically and commercially. Spy Convention have focused on, if not perfected, the atmosphere of the era while giving it a new spirit.

Khan said it’s the impact of the song that transcends both genre and era.

“It’s not a style or genre necessarily, but the song itself. If you connect with the song, that’s what really matters,” Khan said. “We both love Interpol and The Killers. We don’t really focus on longevity of bands, but we appreciate the song. The song is what stands the test of time. There have been one-hit wonder bands and everyone latches on to it because it’s a great song. Nothing else, more or less.”

He explained too that what he found in the music that inspires him also had the ability to move him, and that good music lasts because of its ability to do so.

“What is it about that music that connects with people? Maybe it’s the simplicity of the music, like the driving bass line, or a well written vocal line that allows everyone to participate, sing along. Was it the production? It could have been current events. It’s hard to say, but for a song to move millions of people is quite amazing, and powerful,” he said.

Heading into 2017, Spy Convention looks to hit the stage, and is currently in the process of auditioning live members to round out a live lineup.

“We have desires to play live and are currently auditioning musicians,” said Khan. “Ideally, we’d love to play live in 2017; we’ll see what happens. We aren’t looking for much, but all the attention is great. We are grateful people like the songs and we’ll just keep writing as long as we can and have fun doing it.”

A full-length release is in the works for the next year as well.

“Our next phase is to complete an album of 7-10 songs,” said Khan.

Spy Convention have released a slew of singles, some of which have been in regular rotation on The Homegrown Show on 93.3 since August 2016. Those tracks, along with a cover of INXS’ “Don’t Change” and Rush’s “Time Stand Still,” can be streamed exclusively on the band’s official Soundcloud page by clicking here.

Where's Winona Now? left to right: Ryan Augustine, Lucy Sawyer, Connor Lane and Tyler Toporcer. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

Where’s Winona Now? left to right: Ryan Augustine, Lucy Sawyer, Connor Lane and Tyler Toporcer. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

As the seeming endless pool of unique original talent continues to pour out of every corner of the Mahoning Valley, one quartet is bringing the raw intensity of unrefined punk rock to the forefront.

Where’s Winona Now?, a fresh-faced teenage punk rock outfit, is carving quite the niche into the local scene. With memorizing high-profile performances throughout the area including Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts in Youngstown, Dave Grohl Alley in Warren and the Outpost Concert Club in Kent, as well as a slot on one of 2016’s most-hyped events, Revive Arts and Music Festival, the band continue to steamroll their way onto the scene, picking up fans at every turn.

Through heartfelt and empowering lyrics, partnered with powerful music, the band are set to lead the next generation of the Steel Valley music scene.

Consisting of vocalist Lucy Sawyer, guitarist Tyler Toporcer, bassist Ryan Augustine and drummer Connor Lane, Where’s Winona Now? formed out of friendship, and a general love for music. The band’s sound is primarily in the vein of punk rock, with the influence of the fuzz-soaked alternative scene of the 1990s.

“Lucy is into a lot of Nirvana and Bikini Kill, Ryan likes Nirvana, Green Day and classic rock, Connor is into more metal bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica, and I’m all over the place,” said Toporcer of his influences.

Despite coming from a much younger generation, Sawyer said that growing up, classic rock radio was a staple in her home.

“Definitely! My dad was always playing non-stop music,” said Sawyer.

“My dad listened to a lot of Metallica, and we’d listen to Rock 104, and I got into music that way,” added Lane.

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Much like the band’s key influences, Where’s Winona Now? connect with their audience through deep personal lyrics that reflect where they are in their lives. Through long jam sessions, the band carefully sift through their music and piece together each song.

“I write all the lyrics. Definitely about personal events, relationships and not-so-good relationships. They jam and I pick out the parts that I like,” explained Sawyer.

One of the recurring themes through the band’s songs is the idea of embracing imperfection and being comfortable in one’s own skin.

“I think the point of [the band] is that we’re not perfect. And we want to reach people like that, we want to make sure everyone knows they have somebody,” said Sawyer.

“It’s a nice thing to relate to,” added Toporcer. “Not being pressured to be perfect, just be yourself.”

This is a sentiment that Sawyer said is lacking in popular music today.

“It’s just really general stuff, and I get that. But there’s not much that’s real personal that makes you feel that way too,” said Sawyer.

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The members of Where’s Winona Now? all agree that they are at their best in a live setting, where the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. Original songs such as “Tell Me Why,” “Bad News” and “Her Song” capture the raw emotion the band conveys through both their music and lyrics. And with a slew of noteworthy, attention-grabbing live performances already under their under their belt, the band has successfully hit the ground running.

One area the band have most successfully carved a niche into is the revived downtown Youngstown music scene, where the band feel most at-home.

“I definitely think it’s better that the scene is coming back here, because we had to drive up to Kent and Akron to play shows a lot,” said Sawyer.

It’s nice to play shows where people around here are excited to hear us rather than try to get 20 people to pay for tickets to drive up to Kent to see us,” added Augustine.

Sawyer said that she believes it’s very important to have a strong scene in a central location such as that of downtown Youngstown with all of the great culture and talent that surrounds it.

“I think it’s important just because locally it feels like we were culturally starved for a little bit, especially after the Wickyards shut down,” said Sawyer.

As the downtown Youngstown scene continues to expand and rebuild, Where’s Winona Now?, along with a handful of their peers, find themselves smack in the middle of an exciting new movement.

While band look to hit the studio for their first proper recording in the near future, they have a few high-profile performances to keep fans satisfied for the meantime.

“We’ll be at the BuzzBin Arcade and Music Ship in Canton on June 3 and Revive Arts and Music Festival in downtown Youngstown on July 16,” finished Toporcer.

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By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Filter

Album: Crazy Eyes

Release Date: 4/8/16

Rating: 9/10

Few survivors of the industrial rock scene have remained as consistent as Filter. Since their debut in 1995, the Richard Patrick-led project have pumped out one great record after another. With the industrial scene eventually fading into the background of metal or goth-techno by the late-90s, and genre pioneers like Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails taking long hiatuses, there was little representation of the golden age of industrial rock; save for Filter. Despite waxing and waning mainstream attention, the band have retained a core audience that spans the likes of alternative, industrial and heavy metal listeners.

At the core of Filter is Patrick, the one-time Nine Inch Nails guitarist who exited the band on the eve of their most commercially-successful era. He formed Filter, looking for a less synth-driven and more guitar-driven sound. Their iconic 1995 debut, Short Bus, dropped at the height of the industrial-alternative crossover, when the sound was at it’s peak popularity. The follow-up, 1999’s Title of Record, was a massive success propelled by the crossover hit, “Take A Picture.” But for much of the 00’s, addiction issues and an evolving alternative scene kept Filter out of the limelight, despite releasing the underrated gems The Amalgamut and Anthems For the Damned. In 2011, Filter came back hard with the slamming The Trouble With Angels record, boasting a return to the sound that brought Filter to fruition. 2013’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight further featured the rage and socio-political disdain that was synonymous with industrial rock. Few artists have captured the heaviness of the original industrial scene as well as alternative rock sensibilities quite like Filter.

With their latest release, Crazy Eyes, Filter dive head first into a classic industrial rock sound with pulsating synths, distorted bass lines, mechanized drums and grinding guitars, matched with a primal rage against a failing system. Tracks titles like “Pride Flag,” “The City of Blinding Riots” and “Your Bullets” quickly indicate the social commentary that’s to come, while “Nothing In My Hands” and “Welcome To the Suck (Destiny Not Luck)” tease up the anger and disdain.

Crazy Eyes opens with the classic industrial slammer, “Mother E,” a synth-heavy stomper that finds Patrick screaming the refrain; “I got my reasons and my reasons are sound,” as a wall of swelling synths build to a head-banging groove. “Nothing In My Hands” looks at the Ferguson and Michael Brown case, while capturing all of the socio-political angst the industrial scene had/has to offer. From there, the more accessible, and dare I say, poppy, “Pride Flag,” keeps in tune with the album’s feel, looking through the glass at a society spiraling into chaos.

Filter mastermind Richard Patrick, circa 2016. Photo courtesy of blabbermouth.net.

Filter mastermind Richard Patrick, circa 2016. Photo courtesy of blabbermouth.net.

Tracks such as “The City of Blinding Riots” and “Welcome To the Suck (Destiny Not Luck)” feature a more atmospheric, KMFDM/Combichrist-esque stomp, while “Take Me To Heaven” and “Head of Fire” boast a more groove-heavy bass-driven feel, with sneering hooks in the vein of NIN. “Tremors” is also write with Ministry-style mechanical percussion, circa Land of Rape and Honey.

Most of Side B on Crazy Eyes leans a little more in the rock direction, with tracks like “Kid Blue From the Short Bus, Drunk Bunk” and “Your Bullets” featuring the more classic Filter sound of heavy alt-metal, most prevalent on Title of Record. The album concludes with “Under the Tongue,” a slow-building heavy groove tracks that spirals into a wall of distortion, before descending into the acoustic comedown of “(Can’t She See) Head of Fire, Pt. 2.”

All in all, Crazy Eyes may be Filter’s strongest album since Title of Record. While the last few records clearly showcase Patrick showing his teeth and muscles, it’s few and far between they feature his ability to write really interesting songs. Crazy Eyes ebbs and flows, and although it’s consistently heavy and brooding, both sonically and lyrically, it ties together many small concepts into a central theme. Standout tracks are difficult to pinpoint, but would certainly include “Mother E,” “Welcome To the Suck (Destiny Not Luck)” “Your Bullets” and “Pride Flag.” For fans of the golden age of industrial rock, this will surely spark an interest in a scene long stagnant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRV51e753f8

Bowie

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Just days ago, music lovers and critics alike rejoiced with the release of David Bowie’s highly anticipated new album, Blackstar. But few knew this would be his last great masterpiece.

On Friday, Jan. 8, Bowie turned 69 and simultaneously released an exceedingly ambitious and artistic record, adding to an already colorful catalog. With Blackstar, Bowie channels the surrealistic minimalism if his late 70s works such as Heroes and Low, while giving it a modern darkness. The advanced singles “Blackstar” and “Lazarus” saw Bowie taking on a strange new persona, equally intriguing and mysterious.

Days later on Jan. 10, the news of his death following a lengthy battle with cancer, sent shockwaves across the world. Millions of fans young and old have voiced their love for the recently fallen star. Through his art and dozens of personas, Bowie was larger than life, showcased by his mysterious last days and romantic death.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH1M4Ya8

Bowie’s career has undergone its umpteenth renaissance in recent years, beginning with his surprise comeback for 2013’s The Next Day. It was a quieter album, indicating a older yet hungry artist still managing to channel what made him great. Although the album had no smash radio hits, it struck a nerve with a new generation of indie rockers, while long-time die-hards were equally pleased.

With The Next Day, Bowie has proved his unique ability to remain contemporary despite hailing from the golden era of Classic Rock Radio. Since his swearing off touring over a decade ago, the Thin White Duke has rarely made any live appearances. However, his hefty discography and wide spanning influence (Iggy Pop, The Psychedelic Furs, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo and Arcade Fire to name just a very few) have kept him both relevant and respected in nearly all circles. And it comes as no surprise with a career as staggering and intricate such as that of David Bowie’s.

1967-69

The musical journey of David Bowie is one of humble beginnings. His early singles and self-titled album were a collection of mere typical 60’s folk rock and baroque pop, much in the vein of Bob Dylan and early Beatles. Cutesy love tunes made up most of his early repertoire, although writhe with his signature charm. But by 1969, change was in the air. Mankind turned toward the sky as the first human took his first steps on the surface of the Moon. Inspiration struck, and a “Space Oddity” was born. Bowie’s first smash hit single saw the beginnings of many personas, alter egos and overall realities he would come to perfect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYYRH4apXDo

1970-72

By early 1970, the Psychedelic and Art Rock that was dominating the musical landscape was shifting and splintering. Glam Rock had risen as a more pop-friendly yet equally-sophisticated counterpart. With the rise of artists such as T. Rex and Roxy Music, androgyny was all the rage. In the center of this was David Bowie, who had now traded in with folk-y acoustic guitars for thunderous hard rocking electrics, ready to dominate a new era of Rock and Roll. His albums The Man Who Sold the World and Hunky Dory perfectly encompassed his strange new direction. The success of early 70’s radio hits “Life on Mars?” and “The Man Who Sold the World” set the stage for what would change the history of Rock and Roll and popular culture from thereon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7Bd3iJSFyE

1972-74

With the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie not only perfected Glam Rock, but the art of the concept album and alter ego as well. The success and continuing influence of that record stands head-to-head with that of any by the Beatles, Rolling Stones or Pink Floyd. The Ziggy Stardust persona was larger than life and otherworldly, yet terrifyingly human and vulnerable; one trait Bowie seemed to carry with him throughout his life. He followed Ziggy up with the equally dynamic Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs, taking his high-concept art to uncharted territory in popular music, all before ditching it completely reinventing himself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaqMwE5NKaM

1975-76

The sounds of Philadelphia Soul Music influenced Bowie so heavily, that by 1975 he had traded in his signature make up for a soulful crooner. Young Americans saw the massive success of “Fame,” a songwriting collaboration with John Lennon, and his first major U.S. hit. He even landed a gig on the up-and-coming national television sensation Soul Train to perform the aforementioned track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD3etldXtTU

1977-79

The late 70s saw a darker time, both musically and personally for David Bowie. Punk Rock had risen and killed off nearly all of his early 70s contemporaries. Although his music would come to inspire many early punk and New Wave outfits (New York Dolls, Ramones, The Damned, Blondie), it didn’t look as though Bowie had the momentum to keep up with the angst-filled movement. As he retreated to Berlin to kick some substance abuse issues, he teamed up with Roxy Music mastermind Brian Eno for a trilogy of what would become his most complex and dark work. Beginning in ’77 with Low, his new Art Rock sound wasn’t ready to tear up Top 40 radio, but certainly indicated a huge artistic evolution. Artists such as The Talking Heads and Sonic Youth would go on to hail it as extremely influential. Later that year, Heroes, spawning the hit single of the same title, would boast a massive hit featuring the virtuosic guitar talents of none other than Robert Fripp of King Crimson. 1979’s Lodger would conclude this era of experimentation and artistic expansion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgcc5V9Hu3g

1980-82

By 1980, Bowie returned to Top 40 with Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Propelled by the smash hits “Fashion” and “Ashes To Ashes,” Bowie adopted the sounds of New Wave and Post-Punk; genres that in many ways were pioneered by his previous works. He seemed to fit right at home, connecting with new and older generations of Rock fans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMThz7eQ6K0

1983-93

Bowie tried his hand at pop music for 1983’s Let’s Dance to an astounding outcome. The now former Glam rocker had recruited Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and a young Stevie Ray Vaughn for this magnum opus, yielding favorable results and scoring some of the biggest hits of his entire career with singles like “Let’s Dance” and “Modern Love.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4d7Wp9kKjA

Bowie would continue this sound throughout most of the 80s to mixed results from fans and critics. However, his role as Jareth, the Goblin King, in the children-targeted film The Labyrinth, had yet again propelled him to an iconic status, after becoming a cult favorite among 80’s children and beyond.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViftZTfRSt8

1995-98

By the mid 90s, Alternative Rock was the dominant musical force both in Top 40 and underground circles. And at the forefront of mid-90s alt-rock where Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor. Before Cobain’s passing, his iconic cover of “The Man Who Sold the World” as one of his last live performances sparked a renewed interest in Bowie. Reznor, also at the top of his success, wasn’t shy about Bowie’s influence either. By 1995, Bowie had released the industrial-tinged Outside, and hit the road with Nine Inch Nails. Bowie and Reznor went on to collaborate on the soundtrack for the 1996 film, Lost Highway, and on Bowie’s 1997 album, Earthling. Through their collaborations, Bowie yet again found relevance among a new generation of audiences.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPVrFIP0CMs

1999-2004

Always staying three steps ahead, Bowie made history in 1999 with his album Hours…, marking the first album to ever be released exclusively through the internet. His following albums, 2002’s Heathen and 2003’s Reality were both moderate successes, bridging the gap between contemporary fans of Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie and his classic rock audience. Following a massively successful world tour in 2004, Bowie announced his retirement from touring and focused on small projects. It seemed as though Bowie had all but retired completely with little new music released in later years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8NBpfkpyZw

2013-16

Much to the delight of fans young and old, Bowie announced his return with the critically-acclaimed album, The Next Day, in early 2013. Its highly anticipated follow-up, Blackstar, served as a bittersweet swan song for a man of so many notable accomplishments. Groundbreaking both sonically and visually, Blackstar will undoubtedly live on as a final gasp of inspiration, of what any artist, young or old, hot or not, can accomplish.

https://youtu.be/kszLwBaC4Sw

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Chelsea Wolfe

Album: Abyss

Release Date: 8/7/15

Rating: 9.5/10

Chelsea Wolfe is very much unlike any of her contemporary indie singer-songwriters. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Black and Doom Metal, and having a real affinity for the dark, she dares to dabble in areas that not many artists in today’s musical landscape would dare. Therefore, there’s much more than the average “doom and gloom” to Wolfe’s haunting soundscapes and blurred vocals; this being most evident on her latest effort, Abyss.

Rewind just five years earlier, Chelsea Wolfe introduced herself and her unique songwriting approaches and dark folk-meets-neo-psychedelia her debut album, 2010’s The Grime and the Glow. However, it wasn’t until her follow-up, 2011’s Apokalypsis, that her droning Goth Rock style began to take shape. She went even further with 2013’s Pain is Beauty, incorporating more synthesizers and electronic textures.

Fans of Goth, Shoegaze, Doom and Black Metal alike began to take notice, although the signature heavy/distorted guitars of said styles were either not present, or set somewhere in the background.

This is certainly not the case for Abyss, Wolfe’s noisiest and heaviest effort yet. Inspired by her own experience with sleep paralysis, the album is truly the soundtrack to a 3 a.m. nightmare. Opening track, “Carrion Flowers,” sets the tone with a terrifying Post-Industrial wall of synth noise that’s enough to give Trent Reznor or Nivek Ogre nightmares! From there, the volume hits 11 with the guitar-heavy “Iron Moon” and “Dragged Out.” The opening trio of songs set the tone for what’s to come, while successfully catching the ears of new and old fans, as it’s not exactly what one might expect from Chelsea Wolfe… until now!

Chelsea Wolfe. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

Chelsea Wolfe. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

From there, the piano driven “Maw” changes the pace sonically, while only descending deeper into Wolfe’s terrifying trip. Tracks like “Grey Days” and “After the Fall” showcase Wolfe’s lyrical ability, creating moods and emotions not unlike a painter’s brush on a canvas. “Crazy Love” and “Survive” nod to earlier material with a Goth-Folk vibe, with “Simple Death” and “Color of Blood” let ambiance take the lead. Finally, the droning “Abyss” closes the record with an eerie detuned piano and haunting string session, placing the listener into Wolfe’s mental state following the series of night terrors.

Don’t let the over-bearing darkness fool you, Abyss is equally beautiful as it is haunting. Chelsea Wolfe has a real raw emotive power to her voice, much in the way of PJ Harvey. She could bring a room to tears, or perfectly erupt into the noise of her band at any given moment, while barely raising her voice. This album is the sound of Chelsea Wolfe in prime, both as a songwriter and an artist who is continually challenging herself, yet successfully remaining true to her roots.

All in all, Abyss is Wolfe’s best work yet. This is a true testament to artistic progress. Standout tracks include “Carrion Flowers,” “Dragged Out,” After the Fall,” “Survive” and “Abyss.” This album is great for new fans. Those who appreciate the work of Curve, Om, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Swans or early Nine Inch Nails and PJ Harvey should find instant appeal.

Chelsea Wolfe will kick off a North American tour alongside Wovenhand on Aug. 27 in Las Vegas. Abyss is out Aug. 7 via Sargent House Records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buzz Osborne. Photo courtesy of metalinjection.net.

Buzz Osborne. Photo courtesy of metalinjection.net.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Buzz Osborne of the Melvins has been making plenty of headlines in the past month, due in large part to his criticism of the Kurt Cobain documentary, Montage of Heck.

The Raw Alternative talked to King Buzzo last week while he and his band mates were in Columbus, Osborne talked Cobain, new music and vinyl.

Whenever the topic of Nirvana or his late friend comes up, you can always expect the truth and some sarcasm thrown in from the Melvins singer.

This time there was a bit of surprise expressed.

“Getting all of this attention about that documentary has been surprising, I can’t believe people care about what I have to say regarding it,” Osborne said. “I’ve already said everything that’s been needed to say about the shitty documentary. What good is there to say? Kurt was a close friend of ours and he’s dead, tell me what the good part of that is?”

Osborne said the only reason he even watched Montage of Heck was because another outlet asked him to do a review on it.

The singer has been critical of the movie, saying, “90 percent of it is lies, false, made up bullshit.”

Buzz first met Cobain in high school and the two quickly forged a friendship, as the young Cobain became a roadie for the Melvins who heavily influenced the future Nirvana leader.

Fan reactions have been mixed about his comments. Some agree, some do not, while others are claiming Buzz is a “Bitter, old man that is jealous of Nirvana’s success.”

Osborne’s answer to that is priceless.

“Yep, that’s it! They are exactly right, I’m bitter, I’m old and I’m jealous,” Osborne sarcastically quipped. “Whatever people want to think is fine, if they want to assume I’m not successful, that’s great! I could care less.”

“I know what happened and what the documentary portrays is not how it happened, I was there from the beginning all the way to their final show when Kurt walked on stage for the final time.”

The Melvins will be walking onto the Grog Shop’s stage on Thursday as they continue to tour behind their release of the EP The Bulls and the Bee’s and the rerelease of 2001’s Electroretard all on one CD.

Melvins-cover

The main reason behind the rerelease of Electroretard (an album full of reworked songs) is because it was long out of print and Buzz and drummer Dale Crover wanted to give fans a better chance to have a physical copy.

“We felt it was a good time to put it back out there, to give fans a chance to get a copy, I think it was a good idea,” added Osborne.

EPs are something that Osborne says he’s fond of and believes that today’s generation may feel the same way.

“I think it’s an attention span thing, plus I would rather hear five or six really good songs rather than a LP that may be half good and half shitty,” Buzz added.

The vinyl release of “The Bulls and the Bee’s” has been delayed due to delays at factories because of the overwhelming demand for vinyl.

It’s no secret that every hipster imaginable has jumped on the vinyl bandwagon, but Osborne say’s he really doesn’t mind, nor does he care that chain stores such as Barnes and Noble have also jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s cool, I don’t mind it, it give’s more people ways to listen to music. The more opportunities there are for people to listen to my music the better. With so many stores carrying vinyl now, it makes it easier for the consumer to get a hold of music, it’s definitely an industry changer,” Osborne added.

The Melvins, however, are not new to vinyl; they have been releasing albums on the format for many years, often limited runs that fans snatch up quickly at shows.

Not to mention the limited edition posters, pins and other off the wall and rare goodies the band is known to sell at their concerts.

While Buzz admits that he doesn’t collect vinyl, he says he understands the mind of a collector.

“I get the whole mentality of it, I collect stuff too, so I understand how a person can get into collecting vinyl, it’s all pretty similar,” said the 51-year-old.

Though 2015 is half way over, the Melvins still have plenty of plans for the rest of the year as well as 2016.

The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvin’s Tale is a documentary on the more than 30 year history of the band and will be released in early 2016.

Started as a Kickstarter fund, the project raised nearly $100,000 and has plenty of cool extras that fans could snatch up for different dollar amounts during the pledging stage.

Stay tuned, as the Raw Alternative will have all of the latest Melvins news.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Faith_No_More_-_Sol_Invictus_Album_Cover

Artist: Faith No More

Album: Sol Invictus

Release Date: 5/19/15

Rating: 9.5/10

Back in early 2000, at the age of 14, I remember being in an Internet chat room (remember those?) for Mike Patton’s record label Ipecac.

The versatile singers company was still in its infancy as was his new band Fantômas.

Still in love with both Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, I asked a question that I doubted would be picked amongst the thousands of questions being submitted.

To my surprise, however, it was.

The question: Will Mr. Patton ever reunite with Faith No more to make another great record?

The answer: Hell no, never!

At least that’s what the moderator, via Patton, said to me and the other faithful fans, much to my chagrin.

Never say never.

Back “From the Dead” 15 years after that moment, Faith No More has released it’s seventh studio album, Sol Invictus.

What can you expect from a band that hasn’t put a record out in 18 years?

When it’s Faith No More, an album that stands shoulder to shoulder with anything they put out in the past.

This effort ranks somewhere above Album of the Year and the two pre-Patton records. And somewhere between King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime and The Real Thing.

Faith No More circa 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

Faith No More circa 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

The record starts out with the title track and kind of eases you into the album, with its soft piano and Patton’s unique vocals.

When “Superhero” kicks in, it’s like a swift kick to the gut as Patton and keyboardist Roddy Bottum alternate screams in a track that meshes new and old together perfectly. A track that could have easily have been on 1992’s Angel Dust.

Up next is “Sunny Side Up” one of those songs that kind of sneaks up on you and can quickly become your favorite, with its contagious chorus.

“Separation Anxiety” is an ode to classic faith no more, with Billy Gould’s heavy bass and Mike Bordin’s signature drumming patterns. It’s very reminiscent to their heavy, funky grooves off of The Real Thing.

The songs heavy finish is enough to keep any long time fan happy.

Other highlights of this album include, “Cone of Shame’ and the album finishes off fantasticly with it’s final three songs.

“Motherfucker,” “Matador” and “From the Dead” are the perfect ending to a near perfect album.

The lead single, “Motherfucker” was a bit of a surprise, since it features Bottum’s vocals on lead.

But after a few listens, it was well deserved, as his quiet vocals (which he nearly raps) are the perfect leeway for Patton’s strong voice.

“Matador” is a song that has been around for a while, since the first time Faith No more got back together in 2009, and it sounds even better on the record.

Patton’s vocal chops are on full display in this one, hitting unconceivable notes and proving why he is one of the best singers of our time.

The band proves that they are still weird and willing to try new things on the closing track “From the Dead.”

It doesn’t sound like anything they have ever done, an ode to the 60s hippie revolution.

“Homecoming parade/welcome home my friend,” Patton croons on the opening line all while shaking a tambourine.

“We come back to history in present times/Watch your watch unwind/We’ve been turning miseries to nursery rhymes,” Patton sings, almost ironically, at the end of the song.

Indeed Faith No More is back from their long slumber, taking us back to a time when music was good and with Sol Invictus, it’s as if they never left.

I have listened to this album over and over, trying to find fault with one of my favorite bands, but I can only find one; that there are only 10 songs.

Black Francis of Pixies live in 2015.

Black Francis of Pixies live in 2015. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

The auditorium was nearly pitch black as soon as college alt-rock heroes Pixies took the stage on Sunday evening.

Joey Santiago’s guitar let out an eerie whale as the music slowly crept in, the atmosphere almost like something out of a David Lynch film.

Fittingly, Black Francis begun to sing “In Heaven, everything is fine” from the song “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)” written by Peter Ivers for Lynch’s 1977 horror-head trip movie, Eraserhead

After the opener, things went hard and fast as the quartet smashed through 34 songs with quickness and reckless abandon.

“Andro Queen” and the classics “Wave of Mutilation (UK surf edition)” and “Ana” followed in frantic style.

David Lovering’s booming drums led the way on 2014’s Indy Cindy and 1989’s Crackity Jones, proving just how underrated his drumming skills is.

Pixies performing live in 2015.

Pixies performing live in 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

Though many long time Pixies fans were undoubtedly missing co-founder and bass player Kim Deal, touring bassist Paz Lenchantin did a fantastic job of taking her place.

The versatile musician, who has played in countless bands such as, A Perfect Circle and Zwan, has developed a great stage presence over the years.

Her laid back, summer-time fun personality counteracts Francis’s intense insanity perfectly and her sweet melodic vocals almost made hardcore fans forget about Deal.

Classics such as, “Gouge Away,” “Debaser” and “Bone Machine” sounded as fresh as ever and Lenchantin’s vocals on the later two were spot on.

The band noticeably left out a couple of songs that Deal had lead vocals on, most notably “Gigantic” off of 1988’s Surfer Rosa.

As the band chugged along during the humid Cleveland night, there was no crowd interaction at all, after one song ended the next quickly begun.

The crowd, with its mix of Gen-X’ers and young adults, had no quips, as they seemed transfixed on the rejuvenated rockers, particularly on the somewhat mysterious Francis.

“Hey, been trying to meet you/Hey, must be a devil between us or whores in my head,” Francis fittingly belted out during “Hey” with sweat pouring off his face.

When the quartet returned for an encore, they fired through a great performance of “Here Comes Your Man” and “La La Love You” much to the crowds delight, but soon vanished off into the night.

As almost mysterious as the show was, there was one thing certain.

This is a band, which not only influenced almost every grunge band, but also continues to influence a new generation today.

 

Torche. Photo courtesy of the band's official Facebook page.

Torche. Photo courtesy of the band’s official Facebook page.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Most bands strive to get better with each album and tour, but few achieve this. Miami based Sludge Metal outfit, Torche, however, has.

Now four LP’s deep, the quartet, consisting of Steve Brooks (guitars, vocals), Jonathan Nuñez (bass), Rick Smith (drums) and Andrew Elstner (guitar, vocals), continues to evolve with each new album.

Nuñez said that every record is a snapshot of where the band was during that particular time period.

“I think every album showcases where we were during that two or three week period that we recorded the specific album, or what we were doing at that time,” said Nuñez.

Torche’s new album, Restarter, is just as sludgy as it’s predecessors, but shows the band maturing with poppy hooks and a broader sound. Though the album, which Nuñez said got its name because it connected well with the songs on the album, was released in February, the band laid the groundwork for it a year ago.

“This album is a little over a year old to us,” added Nuñez. “I feel this represents us very well and is a bit more sludgy than our other records. Our last record (Harmonicraft) was more up-tempo… A big reason why our records sound the way they do is because of our straight forward approach to song writing, we focus more on the power of each song.”

Restarter

Anyone who is a fan of the band will instantly love songs like “Bishop in Arms” and “Minions” as both are prime examples of Torche’s well-oiled rhythm section of Nuñez and Smith.

The duo has been playing together for more than 10 years and Nuñez said this is why the two are so tight musically.

“On the records our playing is more straight forward, but when we are on tour we open up our playing a little bit,” he said. “When we are playing live, we like to jam on a lot of the parts and leave room to embellish a bit.”

The jams will continue to roll as Torche is currently on tour (The band played Cleveland Height’s Grog Shop on March 17) through March. The group will then head to Europe for the entire month of May.

Though touring can sometimes be a drag, filled with little sleep and constant traveling, Nuñez and his band mates enjoy being out on the road and seeing friends, both new and old.

“We all love to tour, it’s great getting out and seeing old friends. From touring so many years we literally have friends all over the United States and overseas,” the bass player said. “It’s also great to hit up certain restaurants in different city’s and eat some great food and search around for some used gear.”

Playing shows in Europe though, is a whole different experience, from the culture to the food. But it’s something Nuñez said he always looks forward too doing, ever since he first played overseas back in 2006.

“It’s so exciting playing in Europe, it’s like a different world between the culture and the way people act. The food is amazing and it’s a great place to go exploring. What’s also neat is how we often will cross paths with a lot of different bands while over there and we try to check out their shows. We have had a ton of great experiences,” Nuñez said.

Checking out and listening to a wide variety of bands is nothing new for the men of Torche.

Their influences range from Sublime to African beats and classic rock to metal. Nuñez said that each member likes different kinds of music, but in the end it all blends together to make the bands signature sound.

Nuñez and company also happen to be a productive band; in fact, they are already three or four songs deep into their next record. Though they have no clue when the next album will happen, they are pleased with the head start.

“We started around January and have three, maybe four songs nailed down with some other jams we are playing around with,” said Nuñez. “A lot of our songs come together from jam sessions, we are a very productive band and are always writing and looking forward to the next stage.”

One of the main reasons the band keeps pushing forward is because of their fans, which have stuck with them from the start.

Perhaps the biggest show of support came after lead singer Steve Brooks came out as one of the few gay musicians in the “Metal” scene.

Brooks had no fear of any backlash, as he was certain he would have the support from his fans and band mates.

“Steve, along with the rest of the band, never received any kind of negativity over that. Obviously we all support him and so did our fans and people around the whole ‘metal scene’ or whatever you want to call it. We have a lot of great fans and open-minded people,” Nuñez stated.

“We have a lot of chill, liberal fans that come to our shows, at the end of the day, they don’t care about our sexuality or anything like that, they just care about the music and want to have a good time at the show.”

Restarter was released via Relapse Records and fans can visit their website torchemusic.com and play an exclusive 16-bit video game called Torche vs Robots: Annihilation Affair that features the band fighting robots.

 

The Gaslight Anthem circa 2014. Photo courtesy of buffablog.com.

The Gaslight Anthem circa 2014. Photo courtesy of buffablog.com.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

After putting out five albums in 10 years, most bands would probably feel like they’ve “made it.”

Though they have accomplished a lot in the past decade, The Gaslight Anthem feel they still have a lot to do in order to cement their place in Rock ‘N’ Roll history.

“I feel like, bands that think they have settled into some sort of groove, or that they have mastered this whole music thing are the ones that usually become stale pretty quick,” said drummer Benny Horowitz in a recent interview with The Raw Alternative.

“Being complacent can be an artistic curse, not just in music, but with pretty much anything from a painter to a film director. We are critical of our own work and we push ourselves to do better with every album and every performance.”

The quartet did indeed push themselves on their latest effort, Get Hurt, which was released in August and peaked at number four on the US billboard 200 chart.

Their fifth album is perhaps their best to date as it displays the bands growth and maturity more than anything else they have released in the past.

Recently, lead singer Brian Fallon said that Pearl Jam’s No Code was a huge influence on this album and after giving it a listen, you can see why.

It’s no wonder, as Pearl Jam is one of those rare bands that continue to change and evolve.

“Brian sometimes pulls influences into his songwriting and we all kind of pull from Pearl Jam,” Horowitz said. “Pearl Jam has a lot of records and they have changed and taken chances throughout their career. No Code represented a change for them, just like Get Hurt does for us, we need to keep expanding.”

Eddie Vedder and company is not the only band that Horowitz is into. He also stated that he likes bands such as the openers on the tour, the Northcote and the Scandals, as well as some hip-hop. Another well-documented influence has been Bruce Springsteen, but gone are the days of fans chanting “Bruuuuuuuce” at the band, expecting to hear a cover of the fellow New Jersey native.

Finally fans and critics alike are starting to see the band for what they are: Themselves.

“Sure, it got old hearing those chants and we struggled a bit creating separation, but it turned into something that we took as a compliment. To be lumped in with one of the greatest musicians of all-time really isn’t a bad thing,” said Horowitz.

The Gaslight Anthem's fifth album, "Get Hurt," is out now via Island Records.

The Gaslight Anthem’s fifth album, “Get Hurt,” is out now via Island Records.

New Jersey has a rich tradition of great music. From Springsteen to the Misfits and Frank Sinatra to Ricky Nelson. The question is: Will the Gaslight Anthem ever be mentioned amongst those greats?

“If we’re lucky, yes,” Horowitz added. “It’s cool to think about, especially growing up a Rock ‘N’ Roll fan. Actually one of the coolest experiences for me, so far, was after we released our third record (American Slang) we officially started being cataloged at record stores.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but I use to work at a record store and I remember the rule of thumb is, once a band has three full-length albums they get their own tag with the band name on it. It was a feeling like ‘hey, we made it,'” said Horowitz.

Though the band is happy with the way Get Hurt turned out, Horowitz said they are still hungry and want to expand their music in ways they have not done yet. Though it’s tough, for any band, to predict how the future will turn out, or even if they will still be a group, Horowitz also indicated that he doesn’t focus too much on the future.

“If there is one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that you can only control what you can control. The stuff I can’t control I don’t even worry about. Right now we are focusing on touring and the whole creative process,” said Horowitz. “In a perfect world, I would hope that 10 years from now we would still be relevant and making albums and it would be the same four members in the band.”

Currently on tour, the band will make a stop at Cleveland’s House of Blues on Wednesday for what will undoubtedly be an energetic show. Canadian band, the Northcote, as well as fellow New Jersey punk rockers the Scandals will be opening as mentioned earlier. The Gaslight Anthem will be switching up the set list every night and sprinkling in new songs, with all of the classics to keep things fresh.

Horowitz added that the entire band loves playing in front of their fans and hope that all that come can enjoy themselves and leave all of their troubles at the door and just have a good time.

Tickets for the Cleveland show are $36.00 and $42.50.