Show Reviews

Release Radar – J. Roddy Waltson & The Business

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This week it’s really all about only one new release – Converge’s “The Dusk In Us”.  The legendary Massachusetts hardcore/metal/punk/touch of jazz band is not for most people since they are extreme all the way around.  But they feature incredible musicianship, thought-provoking lyrics and innovative song writing.  But vocalist Jacob Bannon is intense, so you will need to absorb those thought-provoking lyrics as they are passionately screamed into your ears.  This is album #10 for them and it’s been over 5 years since their last release.  The 4 members of Converge all also play in other bands, and guitarist Kurt Ballou is one of the most sought-out hardcore/metal producers in the industry. I’m such a fan of his work, I actually have a t-shirt with a photo of his GodCity studio located in Salem, MA.  There are no other notable releases worth pointing out this week, but if you’re curious I’ll be checking out new albums (with low expectations) from Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Blitzen Trapper, Tracy Bonham, 21 Savage, Kid Rock and Ty Dolla $ign.
If you read last week’s email, you may recall a comment I made about Chris Stapleton hypothetically destroying all other contestants on The Voice if he were to go on the show and sing “Either Way”.  Well lo and behold one of The Voice contestants decided to sing “Either Way” this week.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out for him, but he’s not Chris Stapleton (but he did a fine job – Blake just wanted to keep the other guy on his team because he was very unique).
I have written a piece about J. Roddy Walston & The Business before, but they have a new album out titled “Destroyers Of The Soft Life” and you should check it out.  This four-piece Southern rock band originally formed in Tennessee 15 years ago, but quickly relocated to Baltimore.  They initially had a few lineup changes, but have been steady lately with J. Roddy Walston on vocals/guitar/and the hardest rocking piano playing you’ll ever see, Billy Gordon on guitar, Logan Davis on bass and Steve Colmus behind the kit.  These guys have developed a huge live following, because 1) they have some great songs to play live and 2) J. Roddy Walston is a formidable presence on stage.  I’ve never seen anyone headbang playing the piano like he does.  Check out some live performance clips on YouTube to see it for yourself.  Anyway, this is just the band’s 4th proper album, and it appears that they are gunning for more commercial success with this release.  The songs are less raw and are more polished and radio-friendly.  So you lose a little of the rawness/excitement factor, but they could gain an even bigger audience.  J. Roddy Walston moved to Richmond, VA since their previous album was released (his wife is from the area).  He and the band built their own recording studio in Richmond, where they worked on “Destroyers Of The Soft Life”.  This local connection is personally nice for me because the band frequently plays in Richmond.  In fact, Thanksgiving weekend they have a 3 night stand at a local club and I’m dragging my wife, son, sister-in-law and nephew to one of the shows – promising them an entertaining evening.  The band has their own unique sound, but you’ll hear elements of My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon and The Band.  When trying to select songs to highlight from the album, I realized I had marked 8/10 tracks on the album.  So yeah, to say the least it’s a strong album (I can’t remember ever having that many songs from an album to draw from).  And none of these below are even the initial singles from the album.  At the very least, when they come around to a venue near you, go check them out.  You will be entertained.
You Know Me Better – The lead track on the new album, and this song sounds most like their older material.  Maybe that’s the reason it’s my early favorite song on the album.  Plus I’m sure this is going to be terrific live.
I Called You – The band does have a slower, softer side and this track is one example of that.  This is also an example of a more carefully crafted song that is an attempt to broaden their fan base.  Nice use of a big drum sound to really boost the choruses.   
Bleed Out – And here’s a mid-tempo example, but the chorus is massive.  J. Roddy puts everything he has behind the vocals on this track.
If you can’t be bothered to do a search on YouTube to see a performance video, here are a couple of live clips: – “Take It As It Comes” – “Don’t Break The Needle”

Release Radar

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This week has an overflowing handful of interesting new releases including the debut solo album from Amber Coffman (formerly of Dirty Projectors but when you break-up with your boyfriend and he’s the leader of the band a solo career suddenly seems like a really good idea) “City of No Reply”, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is releasing his second? solo album “Waiting on a Song”, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) is releasing his first solo album in quite some time “Is This The Life We Really Want?”, Alt-J are dropping “RELAXER” and on the harder side Mutoid Man featuring Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) and Ben Koller (Converge) share their second album “War Moans” and Philly-rockers Elder give us their 5th album “Reflections of a Floating World”

Chris Cornell’s toxicology report showed multiple prescription drugs in his system, including 4 Ativan, Narcan (from EMTs), Butalbital and Pseudoephedrine (decongestant). Clearly he wasn’t in his right mind and it resulted in a catastrophic impact.

For you Tool fans (or the curious) here’s a link to the show I was aa a couple weeks ago in Virginia. If you’re not familiar with them, go right to 1:38:36 and watch their final song. Another good part to check out is the 18:00 mark with “Schism”.

G Eazy in Reno, NV

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G Eazy Concert Review
April 9th, Reno Events Center

​My grandma bought me and a homegirl a ticket to go for my birthday with my step sister and her boyfriend. We showed up at the Events Center at 6:30 to get in line for the doors to open at 7. The line was backed up like 2 or 3 miles!! When the doors were opened, so many people packed in that room; it was awesome!!! The show opened up with Nef the Pharaoh and Big Tymin, the intro to G Eazy was so awesome. He was rewording some of his lyrics talking about Reno, his intro song to ‘Random’ was biggg! In my opinion, he is better live! His voice just sounds better when its not recorded. He is a very attractive rapper, definitely. Two of my favorite songs by him are “some kind of drug” and “of all things”. This concert was poppin! It is the second concert I’ve ever been to, I LOVED IT!

​In his song “Everything will be okay”, he tells his life story of how he is just getting to find himself of who he is as a rapper and how his mom left him as a young child. Tragedy took over him and his dad’s life when his step mom came into place, he came home one day, found Melissa dead on the floor from an overdose. His realist line in the song is when he says, “toughest pill to swallow, but we lost, that’s forced reflection.” Gerald has such a good heart, hes just a lost soul who came to find out that rapping was his greatest will power.

​My favorite part of the concert was the end when they played “some kind of drug” and “I mean it” off of his other album. The crowd sure knew that song; hearing them all singing along with him is the best thing ever, G Eazy is definitely my top knock.

Foo Fighters and Yes’ Jon Davison Cover Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”

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If you are a fan of music then you know that a live cover creates a memorable experience on stage. That is why it is only logical for a band to invite a popular musician on stage to join them for the performance. Then they can cover a famous song in which that musician is known for. But in a recent Foo Fighters performance, this did not exactly happen.
The band “Foo Fighters” recently performed in Anaheim. While they were there, they invited the lead singer of the English rock band “Yes” up on stage to join them. The leader singer, Jon Davison, has been friends with the drummer of Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins, since they were children. In fact, they have been best friends every since they were in second grade. Hawkins even told this to his audience before bringing Davison out on stage to perform with the band. He even mentioned how they were big fans of rush and that they used to have huge mullets.
So when Davison came out on stage, everyone assumed they were going to play a popular song from Davison’s “Yes” band. However, the Foo Fighters band decided to play Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” song instead. Dave Grohl, the front singer and founder of Foo Fighters, explained the reason for this is because the “Yes” song is too hard. Besides, Grohl has always been more of a fan of Rush and the vocals used in their songs. Not only that, Grohl doesn’t have the close personal connection with Davison that is drummer Hawkins has. And since Grohl is the lead singer and has to carry the song, he wanted to perform something that he felt confident that he could play well. If he had taken a chance and played a “Yes” song that he wasn’t confident at playing then it may have been a lousy performance and a slap in Davison’s face. So instead of doing that, he thought it would be better to just focus on singing a song he knew would be a high quality job.  
As a result, the audience didn’t mind at all. They loved the fact that so much diversity took place in the performance. They had members of two different bands on stage who were playing the song of an entirely different band than theirs. Perhaps Grohl was right in his decision to play a song he liked to perform. Most musicians will agree that you need to have passion and love for the song you sing in order to perform it well.

Madonna’s Tour to Feature ‘Sexuality and Religion’!

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Whether you are a music fan or not, chances are you have already heard of Madonna. She is literally a household name that everybody loves and respects, which is why she is given the name “Queen of Pop.” One of the things that are most appealing about Madonna is the sexual essence she gives in her music and performances. Now it seems like Madonna is going to mix religion and sexuality into her next performances while she goes on her “Rebel Heart Tour.”
The 56-year-old pop star stated in an interview that she has been inspired by what she calls “deconstructing concepts” related to her next world tour. She wants to deconstruct the concepts of religion and sexuality because normally these two things are not supposed to go together. In Madonna’s world, these two things apparently do go together and she wants to let the world know it. So how is she going to represent religion and sexuality? Well it was revealed that her tour will feature pole dancing nuns. Some people find it controversial, while others who are fans of Madonna find it exciting and entertaining. As for Madonna, the thing she is looking forward to the most is being able to perform new material on the tour from her recent album “Rebel Heart.” The pole dancing nuns are just something new that will add entertainment value for the audience.
The hardest part for Madonna is balancing her older material with her newer material. Madonna realizes that her long time fans want to hear the music of hers that they originally fell in love with. So Madonna has been spending up to 12 hours each day preparing for her tour and figuring out a way to satisfy fans that want to hear new and old music of hers. What Madonna came up with was a plan to turn her older songs inside out by making them more iconic. Fans who go to her European tour should expect originality in all aspects of her songs and performances. If there is one thing fans know about Madonna, it is that her concerts are never without originality. She understands that the presentation is just as important as the songs being performed. If she were just some has-been going on stage and singing her songs straightforward, her concerts would probably not be as popular. Madonna has pretty much redefined the music scene, which is why the Queen of Pop nickname suits her well.

Foo Fighters Cancels All European After Grohl Injury

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The Foo Fighters European tour is going to be finished early after Dave Grohl broke his ankle recently. He was able to make it through his last concert with a broken ankle, but he won’t be able to finish the tour with it. The pain and the limping will be too unbearable for him to continue. As a result, the Foo Fighters had to cancel their recent European tour. Some people say they should have just gotten a replacement for the singer and continued the tour that way. But the fans probably wouldn’t have liked this because Dave Grohl is the frontman of the band. If he is not there then it would definitely be noticeable.
Dave Grohl broke his ankle because he fell onstage during a concert in Sweden. For a short period of time after the fall, he left the stage to get medical attention. But then he managed to find his way back on stage and finish the show with a bandaged leg. After the concert was over, an X-ray of the broken ankle was tweeted to the band’s followers on Twitter. Grohl did get surgery for the broken ankle, but his doctors were unable to predict a recovery time for it. The fact that Grohl had to cancel the rest of his tour had made him sad. He did release a statement thanking his fans for all their support and he apologized to them for the cancellation. These cancellations will mostly affect people who were going to see him in Belgium and the United Kingdom.
The Foo Fighters is a rock band that was form in Seattle, Washington back in 1994. Dave Grohl had been the drummer for Nirvana and formed the Foo Fighters as a one-man project after Kurt Cobain died. Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of his previous band “Nirvana.” So naturally, Grohl wanted to do something new and create his own band. The name “Foo Fighters” comes from the UFO sightings by Allied aircraft pilots during World War II. These UFOs were given the name Foo Fighters because no one knew what they were. The name stuck with the band quickly and became a household name for all music lovers around the country, and eventually around the world. The Foo Fighters will eventually go back on tour again after Dave Grohl’s ankle heals. Then fans of the band can look forward to the exciting return of the legendary frontman and his legendary band.

Van Halen Tour!

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Van Halen made an appearance last night at the Concord Pavilion and it was the 3rd show on their 2015 tour. This is the third tour they’ve done since reuniting with original vocalist David Lee Roth 8 years ago. I took my son to the show,and the tickets were a birthday present that he had to patiently wait over 3 months to actually enjoy. The band’s current line-up is close to the original group – David Lee Roth on vocals, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, Alex Van Halen on drums and the newer guy – Wolfgang Van Halen on bass. That’s right, Eddie, his brother and his son are the current musicians. David Lee Roth is the odd man out, in oh so many ways with this band. I have a few comments regarding the show:
• Nice stage set-up, not too plain and not too much flash. I thought it was perfect for the band. It was interesting prior to when they took the stage since they had 3 or 4 guys out totally mopping down the stage floor. Even my son made the call on that – they were getting it very polished so DLR could “slide” around the stage with his dance moves.
• The band was playing very well, especially Eddie and Wolfgang. They even did a very nice job with all of their background harmonies. Eddie was pretty much flawless on guitar, he still has it even at his age. He seemed legitimately joyful to be up on stage playing, beaming throughout the entire show. He also looked like he was in much better health than during the 2012 tour, which is good to see. His guitar solo was amazing and he seemed genuinely touched by the crowd reaction afterwards. Interesting side note, Wolfgang right now is a doppelganger for a cousin of mine. If you told me that was my cousin up there playing with Van Halen, I couldn’t have disputed it just by looking at him.
• David Lee Roth is such a hot mess. He must be so frustrating to work with. While his vocal contribution is a unique part of Van Halen’s sound, he flirted with bringing down many songs throughout the evening. He did pull it together a little better for the final 25% of the show. Most of his banter was inane, he slowed down many of the songs and was killing momentum throughout the set. But I have to give Eddie credit for smiling throughout all of his shenanigans and replying to DLR’s stupid questions. DLR does have a lot of charisma, but the band right now is giving him a little too much leash. My son asked me towards the end of the show – “is he like this in real life or is it just an act?” I had to tell him, yes this is actually how DLR is all the time. His singing ability is pretty much shot, he doesn’t even try to fake it these days, he just kind of speak/sings or focuses on key works in lines. Right now, the band may be better off finding a DLR imitator like Journey did for Steve Perry and not have to deal with the rest of the package that DLR brings to the stage. I can definitely see why they experimented with other vocalists over the years. I’ve never been to a concert where I thought, “let me take over the vocals for this song because I’m sure I could do it better”. On the other hand, the riffs that Eddie wrote during the DLR era are timeless and unstoppable so you want to hear those songs.
• The 25 song set highlighted just how awesome this band was during the DLR era. Eddie wrote so many awesome guitar riffs. The band had a great set list, pulling some deep album cuts along with many of their most famous songs. They played two songs they’ve never performed live before, one which happens to be one of my favorite songs from the album 1984 – “Drop Dead Legs”. The other was “Dirty Movies”, a solid track from the album Fair Warning. They opened with “Light Up The Sky” which they haven’t played in 35 years. They also played “In A Simple Rhyme” which they haven’t broken out in 37 years. They are playing another show at Shoreline next week. If you like Van Halen at all, you should try to go check it out. This could be your last chance. You will be entertained.
• I’m highlighting a couple of the lesser known tracks from the Van Halen catalog that they played live for the first time this week.

Dirty Movies by Van Halen

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“Dirty Movies” – A track from “Fair Warning”, Van Halen’s 4th album and what I’ve always considered their “grittiest and dirty” sounding record. Maybe it has to do with some of the guitar effects Eddie uses on the album or the nature of the songs, but this has always seemed to be a darker album from the band. Even the album cover stands out as being different for them. When I was younger I didn’t listen to this album as much but now I enjoy it much more and listen to it as much as any other album. This is not an atypical track where Eddie starts off with some slower guitar work before breaking out into the main riff for the song. It’s always a nice rush when the main riff kicks in and the rest of the band locks in with the groove. This song is a little unique with the chorus being a bit slower and mostly featuring the harmonies of Eddie and on the album Michael Anthony and live Wolfgang. David Lee Roth is up to his usual antics on this song and has plenty of room to adlib during the live performance.

Drop Dead Legs by Van Halen

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“Drop Dead Legs”–This lesser known track from the album “1984” (which spawned “Jump”, “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”) immediately put a smile on my face when Eddie broke into the opening riff. I love how well Eddie’s guitar lines integrate with the heavy rhythm section driving this song. You also have classic David Lee Roth vocal styling and the band’s classic back-up harmonies on this song.

that album cover makes me smile every time I see it

Higher Ground by Playing for Change

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This organization does it all when it comes to getting people together for the sake of music! For each episode and song they create, this organization travels the world and finds music students, artists and children to participate in creating one song all pieced together from small parts each person preforms. The finished art work looks like a well put together travel video made up of all the artists. The best thing about this organization? They give all their proceeds to building music and art schools for children around the world.

Listen on!