Category Archives: Review

CLASSIC ALBUM REISSUE: The Obsessed

a2742210829_10Earlier in 2017, The Obsessed released that incredible new full-length album through Relapse Records, called Sacred, after a long hiatus of well over 20 years (and every last cut was on point, btw). Now, they’re closing the year out with a fucking stellar reissue of their eponymous debut album. Relapse really came through, giving it top-shelf treatment with all of the extras you’d look for in a 2xCD/2xLP definitive edition package.

This version plays with 23 tracks altogether; nine original, four demo, ten live. The first nine originals are remastered but otherwise left alone, so that heavy first impression as a massive earthmover is still effective. 58a6677586c4a440f35e8788783a76c1“Concrete Cancer,” “Feelingz,” “Mental Kingdom,” and “Hiding Masque”—all taken from the band’s highly sought after Concrete Cancer demo—alone are worth the purchase and subsequent spins. They actually give the comprehensive collection of work a different, sturdier presence. The last ten songs comprise a full set performed at the legendary Washington DC venue The Bayou on April 15th, 1985. From start to finish, both the audio and the band’s performance is on the money. By the way, the Concrete Cancer demo recordings are available on limited vinyl format.

This reissue played like a welcome reminder. It struck me like it had the first time I heard it years ago. Honestly, it kinda hit in the same way Sacred had earlier in the year. It’s always a good thing to hear, a great iconic band preserve their musical integrity, retaining its fundamental values and intensity. The two albums feel like they were cut from the same cloth, really. It’s common to see The Obsessed referred to as an American doom metal band but there’s always been more than that going on inside of their tunes. Wino’s got an uncanny ability to take elements from styles like the blues, southern rock, bare-bones rock & roll, punk, etc., and bend them to his will for purposes of creating music that’s alive and perfectly capable of surviving time and change. As far as The Obsessed goes, their legacy is bookended by their best offerings. Luckily, this happens to be a time when you can easily trap both releases.

Physical copies of the reissue get a load of expanded artwork and obscure and exclusive photos that’re tied together by the extended liner notes from Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich. So both original and new fans are gonna benefit from picking the release up. The music should be the primary incentive to grab a copy, but the extras will seal the deal. Obviously, there’s a super convenient digital version available, but those physicals sure are fucking cool.

Pick it all up here.

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If for some reason you missed Sacred, you should check it out just below. Also, find the updated list of tour dates for a stop near you.

theobsessed2017wintertour
The Obsessed are out on the road with Clutch and Devin Townsend Project. It’s a final push for 2017 that’ll take them up to the end  of the year. They’ll wind the stint up on December 31st in Columbus, Ohio. The Obsessed will have one-off shows scattered throughout the tour that’ll feature them only. You can find all of the scheduled dates below.

THE OBSESSED w/ Clutch, Devin Townsend Project: 
11/29/2017 Cone Denim Entertainment – Greensboro, NC
11/30/2017 Ground Zero – Spartanburg, SC *
12/01/2017 House Of Blues – Myrtle Beach, SC
12/02/2017 Revolution – St. Petersburg, FL
12/03/2017 Revolution – Fort Lauderdale, FL
12/04/2017 Will’s Pub – Orlando, FL
12/05/2017 Backyard Stage @ St. Augustine Amphitheater – St. Augustine, FL
12/06/2017 Vinyl Music Hall – Pensacola, FL
12/07/2017 Tavern – Hattiesburg, MS *
12/08/2017 Varsity Theater – Baton Rouge, LA
12/09/2017 The Aztec Theater – San Antonio, TX
12/10/2017 House Of Blues – Houston, TX
12/12/2017 Gillioz Theater – Springfield, MO
12/13/2017 Bourbon Theater – Lincoln, NE
12/14/2017 Livewire Lounge – Chicago, IL
12/15/2017 Limelight Eventplex – Peoria, IL
12/16/2017 Marathon Music Works – Nashville, TN
12/18/2017 Golden Pony – Harrisonburg, VA *
12/20/2017 Middle East – Boston, MA *
12/21/2017 Geno’s – Portland, ME *
12/22/2017 Photo City Improv – Rochester, NY *
12/23/2017 Black Cat – Washington, DC *
12/27/2017 Upstate Concert Hall – Clifton Park, NY
12/28/2017 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
12/29/2017 The National – Richmond, VA
12/30/2017 The International – Knoxville, TN
12/31/2017 Express Live – Columbus, OH
* THE OBSESSED only
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The Heartbreakers’ ‘L.A.M.F.’ Live Release Announced – All-Star Lineup

JVD0124DMVD just recently announced the DVD and CD release of a live performance of the Heartbreakers’ classic rock & roll landmark L.A.M.F. in its full glory. Captured over two nights at NYC’S Bowery Ballroom during November 2016, a curious, albeit impeccable, lineup led by Walter Lure—the only living Heartbreaker. He shared the stage with Tommy Stinson, Clem Burke, and Wayne Kramer—of the Replacements, Blondie, and MC5, respectively.

The DVD, colored vinyl LP, and CD continues the 40th anniversary celebration of L.A.M.F. that began with the release of the remastered edition and an extended Definitive Edition box set 4xCD/3xLP of the albums that included copious mixes and demos. For all interested inquiries you can find these new pieces here.

FREUDCD124The release coincides with Walter Lure taking the L.A.M.F. show on the road again. Joining the tour with him will be the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock on bass, Social Distortion’s Mike Ness on guitar & vocals, and again Blondie’s Clem Burke on drums. They play six dates starting at the end of November 2017 covering the east and west coasts of the US. They play in Los Angeles, San Diego and New York at the end of November/early December 2017.

FREUDBX104-CLAMSHELL BOXL.A.M.F. is arguably the best album from the first generation of punk rock. It was the only album released with all of the Heartbreakers included together. After 40 years, every song on the record still holds up. If you don’t know the album, you should check it out. And MVD (Music Video Distributors) is a top-notch resource for video titles from almost any of your favorite bands and artists, a lot of which are hard to find or otherwise obscure. The quality of their products have always been impeccable in every experience I’ve ever had with them. So this L.A.M.F. release is bound to be fucking incredible.

A couple of years ago I spoke with original Heartbreaker Walter Lure before the release of the band’s live release from Max’s Kansas City. I’ll repost that conversation in the coming weeks to accompany this upcoming release, so keep checking in!

REVIEW: THE PROFESSIONALS – ‘What in the World’

cover press-05It’s practically been a generation now since the UK rock band the Professionals released their debut LP, I Didn’t see It Coming. Originally formed by Paul Cook and Steve Jones out of the wreckage of the Sex Pistols, the Professionals released their first album back in 1981 but a serious accident whilst on tour in America sidelined the band indefinitely. Fast forward to 2017. From seemingly out of nowhere they recently announced the release of their insanely overdue follow-up LP, What in the World, 35 years later. The band created an excellent PledgeMusic campaign, allowing the fans to be a part of this unique release.

What in the World is built on a foundation of a reliable, true-blue kind of rock & roll that carries the album through to its finish line. Rarely, if ever, does it stop to catch much of a breath. Guitar-driven and anchored with hearty rhythms that never weaken, regardless of tempo, the Professionals churn out twelve expertly structured and refined rock & roll hymns. AHM_9456Though theirs tends to be a classic sneered-lip approach, nuances inside of guitar lines sometimes generate atmosphere reminiscent of the final, post-American tour Pistols’ recordings. In the songs that play like anthems, the catchy, hook-laden choruses beg to be sung along to—with one arm around the person beside you and another one holding sloppy pints in the air as they sing, especially in places like the opening track and “Take Me Now.” Cuts like “Extremadura” and “Bad Baby” play somewhat outside of the lines, adding more dimension to the album and taking the band’s sound to relatively unexpected places.

The band itself is a trio that is Paul Myers, Tom Spence, and Paul Cook. Every song on the album boasts recognizable, even iconic, names that include Duff McKagan (Guns ‘n’ Roses), Marco Pironni (Adam & The Ants), Billy Duffy (The Cult), and Phil Collen (Def Leppard). The Clash’s Mick Jones also pops up in a track, as does the band’s original guitarist, Steve Jones, who appears on three cuts.

An album like What in the World doesn’t come along every day. Not even every year. But when such a band does produce such a release, we’d be wise to drink in every last note in every last measure. Thank the Universe that there’s still good, old-fashioned, salt-of-the-earth rock & roll to be made and that there are still those bad motherfuckers hanging around who know how to make it.

Get the Professionals’ What in the World here

DVD REVIEW: L7 Pretend We’re Dead

31-ogThere’s gotta be a better way to describe the rawness of the unrefined rock & roll that rose to popularity in the 1990s than ‘grunge’. At any rate, L7 was an absolute force to be reckoned with back in those days. Their breakthrough cut ‘Pretend We’re Dead’ was an anthem of subversion, revolution, sex, Generation X’s subversive revolution of the sexes. It’s one of those songs that’re delivered with a simple superficiality cloaking an inner profundity. The song has real staying power to the extent that it’s just as sonically effective in 2017 as it was in 1992 which is pretty phenomenal, albeit somewhat anomalous, just because they produced dozens of equally strong and affecting songs over the span of their five album career.

Like the band itself, ‘Pretend We’re Dead’ has an overall presentation that’s comparatively unorthodox in that it doesn’t necessarily abide by a typical formulaic documentary arrangement, though the story is still told chronologically. Comprised almost completely of archive material—early gigs, travels, recording sessions, extensive touring, interviews, intermittent general time-killing fuck-aroundery—the visual story is told through 10+ years worth accrued video and film footage, much of which has never been seen before now.

Rather than telling the tale via oral narration, the band members engage the audience with pertinent commentary as the film plays through. As the band’s history is retraced, they sometimes delve into deep, and often candid, admissions and discussions. Suzi Gardner’s severed ear, Donita Sparks’ live television bush, the infamous tampon matter; they gladly recount the mishaps and controversies. On the flip side, the’ve included the moments that recall the disillusionment, misfortune, even tragedy during the chaotic whirlwind of a ride.

L7_Mary ScanlonOther than clips and footage, the individual band members don’t really make any appearances in the film, though many of their peers—including Alison Wolfe, Shirley Manson, Alison Roberts Krist Novocelic, Valerie Agnew—show up throughout. The first significant sighting of contemporary L7 comes in the form of recent festival performance footage at the tail end of the movie, which works surprisingly well because it’s almost like an ultimate reveal for the curious anticipation some people might build during the film, to see how the band sounds and appears today. After the dust has settled, ‘Pretend We’re Dead’ is a well-crafted affair that plays as a reverent ode to a band that refused to be labeled or characterized, while insisting on being seen, heard, and felt (even smelled).

Order ‘Pretend We’re Dead’ here

Why You Should Buy The DVD
For those people who need more than just a great movie, you’re in luck. As always, a DVD’s extras usually always make a great argument. With ‘Pretend We’re Dead’ you get the DVD and Blu-ray versions, which worked beautifully for me. Inside the case is an extra thick booklet full of photographs laid out in full color that goes on for 12 pages. The added performance footage is great and expounds on their legend as a life force of nature. And then there’s the movie; a second film. ‘The Beauty Process’s is a second feature that turns out to be a fantastic cheeky extra feature mockumentary that’s directed by Krist Novocelic; the same Krist Novocelic that played bass in an L7 buddy-band called Nirvana.

EVIL INVADERS: On a Strict New Diet

714_EvilInvaders_CMYKOne of the best things about writing about the music I’m diggin’ on, is speaking with the artists who make the music I love. The older I get I’m finding that closing my mind to certain musical genres as a young person was really ridiculous. But heavy metal always made the cut, speed metal being among the favorites. The 90s were dark for the majority of those fans, so now that things are full-circle and the youth has managed to catch on and give the scene some new wind. And it’s been great, for the most part anyway. Belgium’s Evil Invaders is a band I fortunately came across really early in their evolution. Their vocalist, Joe, and I eventually struck up a rapport so it’s been awesome to watch them take shape as a band. Just recently, I spoke with Joe again about this awaited new LP, Feed Me Violence. Apparently a lot has transpired for the band since release of their debut LP, just about two years ago, now.

“I think it’s the best we’ve ever sounded,” Joe says with regard to the state of the band as they gear up for the new album release and another busy cycle. It doesn’t take long to hear developments within Evil Invaders’ overall sound. Since their first album, Pulses of Pleasure, they’ve maintained a fairly hectic schedule filled largely by touring and festival participation. As a result, over the past two years they’ve sophisticated their sonic presence to become a sharp, intricate killing machine—kinda like Joe’s guitars;>) They’ve gone through some necessary personnel changes, which turned out to offer new perspectives that certainly helped to cultivate their already stellar attack.

Opening the record up, “Mental Penitentiary” doesn’t waste any time showing of an elevated level of songwriting, and Joe’s vocal diversification, which he goes on to really drive home in a fantastic way throughout the rest of the album. “As Life Slowly Fades” opened their ‘In For the Kill’ EP last fall, so as it turns out the band had given us a quick peek at the new full-length.

Joe pointed out that “Broken Dreams of Isolation” and “Among the Depths of Sanity” are the band’s slowest and fastest tunes ever, respectively. So, Feed Me Violence is essentially an album of polar opposites. The former is the only cut on the album that is comprised of material held back from the Pulses of Pleasure sessions. “Sometimes there are parts have to sit for weeks, months, or even years before it can find its way into a song,” he explains. “Just because you have something doesn’t always mean it’s worthy of being used.” Talking to him, I can hear his resolve, distinctly. That particular song also clearly demonstrates Joe’s newly revealed range as a vocalist. The song definitely stands out as a clear album highlight.

Feed Me Violence boasts nine tracks that both carry over the band’s initial musical direction and establishes a platform for Evil Invaders to expand their creative energy. They’re not the kind of band that fits a bag-full of riffs and sections together for the sake of amassing a quantity of material to occupy maximum area on a disc. “I would rather spend the time writing 10 great songs that will all be used, rather than writing 20 alright songs to pick through.” Personally, I’m completely with that. It’s always a good thing to get another new release from a great band but if more wait time means receiving a higher grade of material, waiting isn’t the worst thing in the world.

And then, again, there’s a brand new band lineup, which features new guitarist Max, bassist Joeri, and Senne behind the drum kit. Feed Me Violence absolutely benefits from having the new perspectives. Not to mention the escalation of musicianship and technical executions. Every single cut feels inspired, kinda like they’re a new band with everything to prove. “Max is a better guitar player than I am, everyone in the band is great,” Joe acknowledges. “I want to have people that are better so the band and the music will continue to get better every time, and it pushes me to be a better guitar player.” Being a relatively young band of hungry musicians, Evil Invaders’ Feed Me Violence is but the next logical step for a band that lets their music do the talking, and it’s promising great things are still yet to come.

JOE’S CUSTOM J-AXE GUITARS

Take a look at the guitars Joe plays. Those headstocks, the sharp, sleek body contours, the unique colors and finishes; he makes his own guitars. That’s what he does with his manufacturing imprint, J-Axe. There’s also a photo of bassist Joeri in action with a customer J-Axe piece. If I had a better personal situation and steady income flow, I’d commission a J-Axe guitar in a heartbeat. When you go back and listen to his maniacal performances within his songs, you can get a pretty good idea of how guitars’ capabilities and performance. Give him a look or a shout, here.

FEATURE REVIEW: GARY NUMAN – ‘Savage (Songs From a Broken World)’

12_GF_SLEEVEIt’s unfortunate that Gary Numan isn’t always deservedly hailed for reinventing himself. Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Elton John, even Madonna—all professional reinventers—have historically been recognized on a wider scale, though Gary’s rebirths have been equally remarkable. Maybe it’s just an admirer’s bias but Gary Numan belongs among them.

Gary’s last LP, Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’, was a conveyance of personal introspection and reflection. It also happened to be one of his most lauded releases in his 40 year career. There was bound to be some pressure and stress following that album up. Then while he was engaged in his writing process, something fucked up happened on the way to the forum, and that ham of a scoundrel Donald Trump somehow usurped the Oval Office. So ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ has a loose, quasi-conceptual basis in a world society where such leaders have allowed the planet to be neglected and ravaged by the human race and soulless giants of industry. Set in a not too distant future, ‘Savage…’ could double as a contemporary cautionary tale.

The presence of Middle Eastern flavors embedded within the layers of melodies and synth lines enhance the mood and add depth and dimension to the music. Gary’s incorporation of such elements really reinforces his unwillingness to play it safe. Throughout ‘Savage…’ the underlying feeling of impending unrest, even ultimate demise, never really goes away. Being a lifelong fan of heavy metal, among other persuasions, I was immediately impressed with the overall heaviness of the album’s vibe, both conceptually and musically. Even from the beginning with “Ghost Nation”—an easy album highlight—, the mood created by the sonic depth of the synth line has an almost crushing presence underneath the catchy chorus hook. “My Name is Ruin,” “When the World Comes Apart,” “Pray For the Pain You Serve,” are all memorable heavy-hitters. With the marching cadence that introduces it, the latter provides a feeling of cold, driving militancy. From time to time, sounds that resemble the cruising of airborne projectiles enhance that vibe.

Though ‘Savage…’ isn’t all doom and gloom, there’s a dystopian bleakness that enshrouds this collection of songs. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gary’s timeless classic “Down In the Park” and the innate tension the synth melodies seem to generate, but he’s managed to create a different kind of tension that feels somewhat direful in a ‘this could really come to be’ kind of way, thereby making it much more ominous. Gary’s effort and commitment given to this new LP have really paid off. In a lot of ways ‘Savage (Songs from a Broken World)’ is one of the best releases in Gary Numan’s 21-album catalog, hands down.

Check out Gary Numan’s store now

FEATURE REVIEW: L.A. WITCH – S/T

Casually rifling through pages on Bandcamp, the click of the mouse landed me on a page belonging to a band called LA Witch. Their eponymous debut LP was streaming. Luckily, this is the kind of find that I’ve come to hope for on such dalliances; something that demands attention and radiates with promise. They’ve been making some real waves on the strength of live performances and a handful of solid singles and EPs released over the last four years or so.

Since receiving the album, I play it from beginning to end on a regular basis. The opening cut, “Kill My Baby Tonight,” still gets me, with vocalist Sade Sanchez promising, “I’m gonna hurt my baby tonight,” in a distinctive and engrossing monotone drawl that turns out to be her primary delivery and one of the band’s most valuable assets. Her resolve sounds almost as eerie as it does cool, being carried by the song’s subtle mid-paced tempo. There’s a natural flow occurring as they segue into the slow burn of “Brian”; an absolute stand-out track marked by one of the album’s most captivating riffs and Sade’s ultra sultry vocal execution. It doesn’t take long to realize that each song has its own presence, which is essentially established by the tempo variances that tend to feel only slight if the album is left alone and allowed to ruminate as it’s playing out.

LA Witch basically operates with a skeleton crew comprised of Sade Sanchez’s double-duty performance of vocals and guitar, bassist Irita Pai, and Ellie English on drums. Together, the trio sound capable of embodying sonic versions of Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill’s villainous vixens, Varla, Billie, and Rosie; alluring, tough as nails, badass, and quite possibly deadly. There’s a feeling of something simmering just below the surface that’s equally hypnotic and disturbing. Maybe even menacing. The music’s filmic qualities remain thick and present for the whole of the album. Fairly regularly throughout the album, there’s a tendency for the music to build ethereal ambiances that I imagined felt like being swathed in a dense, gauzy fever-dream atmosphere. Listening to the music on a portable device, it almost takes on a mono-phonic sound form, but plugged into stereo, Irita Pai’s restless bass walking gives LA Witch a whole other dimension that makes testing the comparison worth the time. Besides, what the hell else do you really have to do? So, it really does take all three musicians to do that thing they do.

It’s likely that bands like L7 and Babes In Toyland will be tethered to comparisons of LA Witch’s sound. As a band of strong women with a dominating presence, it might be on the money, but LA Witch is coming from a vastly different musical direction. There’ll be plenty of people that just don’t get LA Witch’s swirling, desert-punk, psych-a-billy, rock & roll style. So, it’s gonna be cool to see what the next few years of their future reveal. When I come upon an album I really dig, like this one, I always want to speak with the artists, so I’m going to shoot for a conversation with the band in the near future. Be sure to look out for updates.