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Friday, July 1, 2016

Sue Saad and the Next - s/t

Name: Sue Saad & The Next
Album: s/t
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave, Power Pop, Rock
Similar Bands: Kim Carnes, Patty Smyth, Scandal, Pat Benatar, Blondie, Girlschool, Cold Blood
One Word Review: Sleazy Power Rock
Based Out Of: LA, CA
Label: Planet Records
 Sue Saad and the Next - Cover & Record
Sue Saad and the Next - Back & Record
Sue Saad and the Next (1980)
  1. Your Lips-Hands-Kiss-Love 4:11
  2. I Want Him 3:15
  3. Cold Night Rain 2:46
  4. Won't Give It Up 3:33
  5. Danger Love 4:10 /
  6. Gimme Love / Gimme Pain 3:18
  7. It's Gotcha 3:05
  8. Prisoner 3:40
  9. Young Girl 3:57
  10. I I Me Me 3:13
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Sue Saad - Vox (Calliope)
James Lance - Drummer, Producer, Vox (Calliope)
Richard Perry - Producer
Tony Riparetti - Guitar, Vox (Calliope, Beastie Boys)
Billy Anstatt - Guitar
Bobby Manzer - Bass

Unknown-Ness: I have never heard of this band. But I like their borderline new wave punk look, and focus on blacks and reds in the artwork. They are literally standing outside of a garage, so the idea of them being a garage band is not lost. The main question is how tame the vocals will be: smooth, or jittery, but either way, this looks like a cookie cutter new wave band from 1980.

Album Review: Sue Saad was one of the first new wave bands to be signed to Planet Records. This album was produced in less than 20 days and only cost $50,000 3x less than most albums at that time. Their second album was self produced, and just came out this year (2016) as a digital purchase. Toward the end of their career, they got involved with soundtracks and Sue Saad was even in the film Radioactive Dreams.  Because of the film, Lance & Riparetti were hired to record more soundtracks on their own. Lance moved on, and Riparetti continued solo, at one point worked with the Beastie Boys, and eventually setting up his company Sound Logic to continue low budget soundtrack production.

“Your Lips-Hands-Kiss-Love” revs up with spoken, echoy female vocals over a pulsing riff, and then a power pop guitar spews its hook, and the song begins to take it’s staggering form. The chorus is a bit call and response, as each word in the title is sung with a bit of follow up. It is pretty fun. The song fades out with the vocals and the power riff playing off each other.
“I Want Him” is another driving, slightly dark melody, with jangley, jittery guitar notes buried under basic power pop chords. Not too special, but it still posesses a nice build and delivery. The vocals are a bit raspy as they gain energy, like a higher pitch Janis or Jefferson Airplane, or even 10 Wheel Drive or Cold Blood.
“Cold Night Rain” starts out quiet and meandering. The slow kick drum comes on about 45 seconds later, and it seems like a power ballad. The vocals are powerful, reminding me a little of the current Philly band Sheer Mag. The song just kind of ends without warning.
“Won't Give It Up” has a fun, bouncy skiffle beat, and is playful from the get go. The chorus is also just as fun, pushed on with a fun bass line, with a little vocal and guitar call and response. It has a little of the Jam’s Motown inspired feel, like on Town Called Malice (but not nearly as catchy).
“Danger Love” at its base, is dark. There is some renegade guitar work that tries to stick it out on its own, and keeps the song interesting. But the rest of the song bounces along nicely. It is basically trying to be sleazy hard rock.

“Gimme Love / Gimme Pain” carries on with the raspy female vocals that feel very authentically emotional, like they are going to crack at any point, particularly in the chorus. The song is built up nicely, and delivers through a sturdy, building, bridge with a pleasant & catchy chorus.
“It's Gotcha” starts off with an intense jittery guitar, and never lets up. This nervous, coked up, driving drum and guitar melody never lets up, and only releases a bit of the energy in the chorus. The nice thing about the song is that it could just be two dimensional, but they make efforts to keep the sections different and interesting. After two run throughs, there is a bit of a psychedelic breakdown and mocking melody, but the driving beat remains underneath, it finishes out with final flourishes and ends with some power chords.
“Prisoner” slows things down, with a slow, chugging head banger. The vocals carry lots of emotion, but the music lets her have full range without interference.
“Young Girl” adds a little sly ska rhythmic guitar under the brooding, reflective lyrics…thinking Elvis Costello Watching the Detectives. The chorus reminds me a little of the Fiddler on the Roof song “If I were a Rich Man,” with a very 80’s rock vibe.
“I I Me Me” ends the album on a rocking, near B-52s surf note. The song is straightforward, without any kitchy B-52’s elements, except the short surf hook. It a driving song, and the whole band shares in the chorus. There is an odd breakdown that reminds me a little of Devo, again minus their specific sound, perhaps just in melody progression. 

Stand Out Track: It's Gotcha


Friday, June 10, 2016

(the) Stylistics - s/t & Round 2

Name: (the) Stylistics
Album: s/t* & Round 2~
Years: 1971*, 1972~
Style: R&B, Soul
Similar Bands: Spinners, Harold Melvin & Blue Notes, Bee Gees, Del-Fonics, Al Green, O'Jays, Four Tops
One Word Review: Delicate Pre-Disco Ballad Scores
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, PA
Label: AVCO
 s/t - Cover & Record
s/t - Back & Record

Round 2 - Cover & Record

Round 2 - Back & Record
s/t (1971)*

  1. Stop, Look Listen (to your heart) - 2:54
  2. Point of No Return 2:45
  3. Betcha By Golly Wow 3:47
  4. Country Living 2:57
  5. You're A Big Girl Now 3:14 /
  6. You Are Everything 2:55
  7. People Make the World Go Round 6:26
  8. Ebony Eyes 2:21
  9. If I Love You 2:05

Round 2 (1972)~
  1. I'm Stone In Love With You 3:19
  2. If You Don't Watch Out 2:34
  3. You & Me 2:43
  4. It's Too Late 4:37
  5. Children of the Night 7:00 /
  6. You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart) 3:38
  7. Break Up to Make Up 4:00
  8. Peek-A-Boo 2:53
  9. You're Right as Rain 3:46
  10. Pieces 3:09

Album Rating (1-10):*7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Thom Bell - Produced, Conducted, Arranger*
Russell Thompkins Jr - Lead Vox*~ (Monarchs, Russel Thompkins Jr & The New Stylistics)
Airrion Love - Vox*~ (Monarchs)
James Smith - Vox*~ (Monarchs)
Herb Murrell - Vox*~ (The Percussions)
James Dunn - Vox*~ (The Percussions)
Linda Creed - Vox*~ (Spinners, Dusty Springfield, Phyllis Hyman)
Barbara Ingram - Vox*~ (The Sweethearts of Sigma, The Philadelphia Angels, The Sweeties, The Sweethearts, Ingram Kingdom...many more as back up)
Norman Harris - Guitar*~(MFSB, Salsoul Orchestra, and producer to many others)
Roland Chambers - Guitar*~
Ronnie Baker - Bass*~ (The Trammps)
Earl Young - Drums*~(The Trammps, Harold Melvin & Blue Notes, Ten City, MFSB, Salsoul Orchestra and many others in the Gamble & Huff era)
Larry Washington - Congas*~
Vince Montana - Percussion*~ (MFSB, Salsoul Orchestra, many, many more, including the Pet Shop Boys)
Lenny Pakula - Piano, Organ*~
Joe DeAngelis - French Horn*~
Stephanie Fauber - French Horn*~
Robert Martin - French Horn*~
Rocco Bene - Trumpet*~
Bobby Hartzell - Trumpet*~
Jack Faith - Alto Sax, Flute*~
George Shaw - Flute*~
Vincent Forchetti - Trombone*~
Bob Moore - Trombone*~
Richard Genevese - Trombone*~
Don Renaldo - Strings*~
Tony Sinagogo - Strings*~
Albet Berone - Strings*~
Rudy Malzia - Strings*~
Alngelo Pretrella - Strings*~
Romeo Di Stefano - Strings*~
Charles Apollonia - Strings*~
Davis Barnett - Strings*~
Richard Jones - Strings*~
Hershel Wise - Strings*~
Mary Gale - Harp*~
Fredric Cohen - Oboe*~

Umknown-ness: I have heard of them, but never associated anything to them. I'm pretty confident in  assuming that it is going to be Philly-soul/R&B, since there are hints at that all over the back covers. I'm not sure the order or when I got these records, but I like the huge contrast in artistic style between their breezy, psychedelic self titled cover and the socially & politically charged Round 2 only a year later.

Album Reviews: The Stylistics were one of the early 70’s bands that fit in nicely with the Philly sound, and were one of the most productive and charting bands. The band had 12 top-ten US R&B singles in a row, and a bevy of famous backing help made these first two albums sell very well, and offered a distinguished resume of Gamble & Huff contributing and studio artists. There is even a variation of the Stylistics still playing and touring today (2016). They were inducted into the Vocal Group HOF in 2004. And the was more than once where I swear I was about to listen to the Four Tops “Ain’t No Women Like the One I’ve Got.”

“Stop, Look Listen (to Your Heart)” was a single. It is light and airy, similar to early Bee Gees, with lots of vocal harmonies popping up here and there. This melody is slow and crawling. The soaring falsetto vocals offer a tender mood.
“Point of No Return” picks up the bubblegum pop beat a little more, and is a more fun song. It has more of a doo-wop feel than the adult contemporary smooth R&B. The Falsetto vocals lend themselves to early disco sound, but that’s easy to say, knowing what was to come next.
“Betcha By Golly Wow” was a single. It slows the tempo down again, but with confidence. Swirls of strings and woodwinds create a magical soundscape.
“Country Living” starts out sounding like it could be a Belle & Sebastian song. The only difference is the vocals, but I could easily hear Stuart’s twee vocals fill in for the falsetto. It is a steady, jangly tempod song with some punchy vocals punctuated with strings bursting in the background and following in melody. It features a repetitive backing vocal that could also be taken advantage of it were it a B&S song.
“You're A Big Girl Now” was a single and regional hit on Sebring records before they were picked up by AVCO. The song has a little of a Jamaican vibe, and is not immediately led by Thompkin’s vocals, although he does take over for the verses. There is a breakdown that features spoken word, deep vocals talking to the presumptive daughter, echoed by the falsetto vocals, almost like he’s reading a letter in a memory.

“You Are Everything” was a single. I recognize this song. It is a slow and steady ballad, with double layered harmonic vocals that break away from each other to take occasional turns. There are swirling ambient effects, and the term lush is very fitting for the accompanying music.
“People Make the World Go Round” was rerecorded by Mac Dorsey and used in Spike Lee’s Crooklyn. It has a slow, delicate vibe, and is even a little sinister, in a James Bond way. It feels like a slower version of the Four Tops’ “Ain’t No Women Like the One I’ve Got.” The song is unnecessarily lengthy, where it repeats the same vibes hook over and over with slight flute and other percussive effects varying underneath.
“Ebony Eyes” is a nice little basic tune. It features a fun, rolling vocal melody, and simple music accompaniment.
“If I Love You” is much grander, with a whole orchestra of pulsing effects, and pre-disco film scoring. The sentiment is upbeat and fun. The vocals sore over the precise score, supported mostly by strings when they do.

“I'm Stone In Love With You” opens with a quiet, early morning folky Disney cartoon melody with a burgeoning energy. The song progresses methodically, but delicately.
“If You Don't Watch Out” has a nice side to side doo-wop pop melody and tempo. It is polite and non-threatening, but a very catchy beat, maybe a bit like the Sesame Street theme.
“You & Me” is a little darker, but still, nothing threatening. The chorus loops back on itself, supported by strings, is more pre-disco in style, like a less coked-up hustle.
“It's Too Late” is a cover of the Carol King song, but I honestly did not recognize it until the chorus hit. It was also covered in 1972 by Billy Paul & The Isley Brothers. This version begins with a bass hook and vibes, followed by horns, which sounds like it could set up the scene for a gritty 70’s cop drama. The song levels out, and loses the edge as the vocals are added and on display.
“Children of the Night” begins with children’s vocals at play in the distance. The ballad is slow and thoughtful. It is cautious, adding a little darkness into the melody. The song wanders as it hits the instrumental section for the last two minutes, featuring a guitar solo accompanied by some la-la-la-la’s; all done precisely.

“You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)” picks up with the 70’s love boat vibe of strings and congas. The vocals are light and airy here, and build up to a plateau in the chorus.
“Break Up to Make Up” was a single. It brings us back to the slow ¾ dance ballad. This song is at least famous enough for me to recognize too. It is sentimental and reflective.
“Peek-A-Boo” enters with a drum fill, and has a slightly more upbeat tempo than BU2MU, but it still falls on the side of a reflective slow dance, and a little Four Tops.
“You're Right as Rain” begins with piano only. It feels like a reprise of some of their other songs fit together. Slow, ballady and reflective make up the familiar refrain.
“Pieces” ends the album on a bit of a fun, R&B tone, with more proto-disco, thanks to the vocal melody and string accompaniment. It is steady paced, not rampant and swirling, and ends as a fade out.

Stand Out Track* Country Living
~If You Don't Watch Out


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sisters of Mercy - A Slight Case of Overbombing: Greatest Hits Volume One

Name: Sisters of Mercy
Album: A Slight Case of Overbombing: Greatest Hits Volume One
Year: 1993
Style: Goth, Dark Wave, Industrial
Similar Bands: Fad Gadget, KMFDM, Jesus & Mary Chain, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, Borghesia
"One-Word" Review: Bleak Factory Rhetoric
Based Out Of: Leeds, UK
Label: Elektra, Warner Music UK
 A Slight Case of Overbombing: Greatest Hits Volume 1 - Tape & Cover & Notes
 A Slight Case of Overbombing: Greatest Hits Volume 1 - Tape, Lyrics

A Slight Case of Overbombing: Greatest Hits Volume 1 (1993)
  1. Under The Gun
  2. Temple of Love (1992)
  3. Vision Thing
  4. Detonation Boulevard
  5. Doctor Jeep
  6. More
  7. Lucretia My Reflection
  8. Dominion / Mother Russia
  9. This Corrosion
  10. No Time to Cry
  11. Walk Away
  12. Body & Soul
Album Rating (1-10):

Members & Other Bands:
Andrew Eldritch (Andy Taylor) - Vox (Sisterhood, Sarah Brightman)
Gary Marx (Mark Pearman) - Guitar (Ghost Dance)
Doktor Avalanche - drum machine
Craig Adams - Bass (Sisterhood, The Mission, Colorsound, Expelaries, Spear of Destiny, The Alarm, The Cult, The Vaynes, Theater of Hate)
Ben Gunn (Ben Matthews) - Guitar
Wayne Hussey - Guitar (Dead or Alive, The Sisterhood, The Mission, Hambi & The Dance, Quadra, Walkie Talkies)
Patricia Morrison - Bass (Gun Club)
Jim Steinman - Producer
Larry Alexander - Producer
Tony James - Bass (Sique Sique Sputnik)
Tim Bricheno - Guitar (All About Eve, XC-NN)
Andreas Bruhn - Guitar (Doc Cheng, Earthbound, Favola, Fourth INC, MCV, MLB Project, Max Melvin, Miller & Floyd, Newman & Reece, Shadow Queens, Low Riders, Upserver)
Adam Pearson - Guitar
Boyd Steemson - Manager
John Perry - Guitars
Maggie Reilly - Vox
Ofra Haza - Vox
Terri Nunn - Vox (Berlin)
Andrea White - Illustration
Billie Hughes - Producer
Ian Stanley - Producer
Roxanne Seeman - Writer
Dave Allen - Mixing & Producer

Unknown-ness: I might have heard of them in passing before, but I've definitely heard of them since picking up this tape. Don't really even have to guess to know this is dark wave with gothic tones.

Album Review: From 1977 – 1990, the band, basically a project of co-creator & hard-to-deal-with Andrew Eldritch, his drum machine named Doktor Avalanche, and a revolving door of musicians, produced three albums before rebelling against  their management and record label and never produced another album. He still tours under the name, and they have written new material, but they have not release any official follow up albums. There have been a bunch of breakaway bands form ex-members, most famously perhaps, the Mission UK (UK added here in the states). And as much as their music is attributed as goth, the band is adamantly against that classification, preferring “rock band.”

“Under The Gun” was recorded for this 1993 release, the final label released track for Sisters of Mercy. It has dark, deep vocals and ominous, droning atmospheric effects. Powerful guitars and female vocals supplied by Ofra Haza add to the stark, barren soundscape. Eldritch’s chanting vocals are layered underneath.
“Temple of Love (1992)” chugging guitar and soaring female siren vocals. Male vocals pick up with a dark, steady mechanical tone, reminding me of German industrial or KMFDM. Once it kicks in, it becomes dark and danceable. Could see this used in a stereotypical film set trying to show a vampire dance club or a gothic audience.
“Vision Thing” starts with a heavy metal guitar, where screeching vocals are expected, we have the continued authoritarian vocals chanted like demands and laws brought down from a restricted society. Supposedly this, the title of the album it came from, was a quote from VP George HW Bush, so the mood and theme probably are derived from US politics.
“Detonation Boulevard” carries on the theme of buzzy metal guitar chords played over a dark, angular, mechanical backdrop. Vocals parody Iggy Pop and other deep, steady, rhetoric-fueled sounds. 
“Doctor Jeep” is motivational song with a training montage musical pace. Crystal synth creates a bleak landscape under the driving tempos. And as the male vocals are steady and monotone, the female vocals have a nice melody and complement well.
“More” builds up in pieces for the first minute and breaks back down after the drum brake hits. Quiet vocals and Running Man atmospheric keyboards add until it really kicks in at 1:50 with some power chords and a chorus of energetic female vocals to clash with the drab, bleak lead vocals.

“Lucretia My Reflection” kicks off with a solid bass line and simple bass/kick drum mechanical rhythm. The vocals explode with the guitars (as much as monotone vocals can) about 1:30 in and the propaganda-chanting echos imagery of dark and cold communist USSR. This is another solid darkwave dance track. The instrumental section seems to go on a lot longer than necessary, not covering any new ground as it proceeds.
“Dominion / Mother Russia” starts with an industrial bass & metal sheet-drum beat, and features a watery guitar loop overlaid. The shuttering monotone lead vocals brood and follow a melody bolstered by angelic female vocals in the chorus. Once the song transitions to the Mother Russia part, with the same basic elements as Dominion, it begins to sound like a dark wave Talking Heads song.
“This Corrosion” has more of an Iggy Pop / Richard Butler vocal style with more melody than previous songs. The female chorus still echoes darkly, but at its heart, the song is actually upbeat and quite catchy – at least comparatively – with its Hank Kingsly-ish Hey Now Now chorus. Of course, this version is over 10 minutes long, so I could have dealt with the radio edit.
“No Time to Cry” cryptically begins with a few simple instruments then picks up like a dark New Order song. The vocals are deep and dark. There is a Devo-ish pogoing vocal in the background of the chorus. The lead vocals feel a little forced at being creepy.
“Walk Away” leans a little more toward arena rock, but on top of the cold, jangly guitars is that steady drum machine loop that makes it feel like industrial music underlying Dracula vocals.
“Body & Soul” almost has an oriental feel to it at the outset. The power guitar comes in, followed by the dark vocals. The song is pulled in the three ways, and it carries an overall mystical tone. 

Stand Out Track: This Corrosion (radio edit)

offical site
AV Club: This Corrosion
FB Community page

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

(the) Michael Stanley Band - ~You Break it...You Bought It, *You Can't Fight Fashion

Name: (the) Michael Stanley Band 
Albums: ~You Break It...You Bought It, *You Can't Fight Fashion
Years: ~1975, *1983
Style: Blue Collar/Heartland Rock, Pub Rock
Similar Bands: Todd Rundgren, Utopia, John Cougar Mellencamp, J. Geils Band, Bruce Springsteen, Big Star, Bob Seger, REO Speedwagon, Kavaret, Michael McDonald
One Word Review: Dated Middle America Rock
Based Out Of: Cleveland, OH
Labels: Epic, EMI
You Break It...You Bought It - Cover & Record
You Break It...You Bought It - Back & Record
 You Can't Fight Fashion  - Cover & Record
 You Can't Fight Fashion  - Back & Record
You Break It...You Bought It (1975)
  1. I'm Gonna Love You 4:04
  2. Dancing In The Dark 2:59
  3. Step The Way 3:32
  4. Waste a Little Time on Me 3:36
  5. Lost in the Funhouse Again 3:40
  6. Gypsy Eyes 3:40 /
  7. Face the Music 4:36
  8. Sweet Refrain 3:59
  9. Highway Angel 5:25
  10. Where Have All The Clowns Gone 4:17
  11. Song For My Children 3:01
You Can't Fight Fashion (1983)
  1. Hard Time 4:25
  2. Just Give Me Tonight 4:31
  3. Someone Like You 5:47
  4. Highlife 5:04 /
  5. My Town 3:58
  6. The Damage is Done 5:04
  7. Fire In The Hole 4:12
  8. How Can You Call This Love 4:20
  9. Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels) 4:41
Album Rating (1-10):~ 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
~*Michael Stanley - Guitar, Vox (Silk, the Resonators, Ghost Poets)
~Jonah Koslen - Guitar, Vox (Snake Eyes, Breathless, Ghost Poets)
~Daniel Pecchio - Bass, Vox (Glass Harp, Phil Keaggy)
~*Tommy Dobeck - Drums, Comgas (Browns All-Star Band, Circus)
*Bob Pelander - Keys (Ghost Poets)
*Kevin Raleigh - Keys, Vox  (Paper Sun, Freeport Express, Freeport, Dynamite, Pictures)
* Michael Gismondi - Bass 
*Rick Bell - Sax
*Danny Powers - Guitar
*Bob Clearmountain - Producer, Mixing
~Asheton Gorton - Cover
~Jimmy Wachtel - Design
~Allan Blazek - Engineer
~Ed Mashal - Engineer
~Paul Harris - Keys (Manassas, Southern-Hillman-Furay Band, session work)
~Huey Chopburn - Percussion
~Henry Diltz - Photography
~Bill Szymczyk - Producer, Engineer
~Albhy Galuten - Synth (other work)

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but between the general head-of-a-band name, and the mechanical / factory nature of the artwork, I'm guessing this is roots rock n roll: general Americana midwestern hick rock. Just how much will it be like Bruce Springsteen, though (not that I am a fan of or know much of the boss's catalog)

Album Review: Michael Stanley and the MSB are the epitome of local superstars with only moderate success outside of the region. Michael Stanley began in a band in college, and recorded two solo albums after that, while regional managing a record chain. From there he started the MSB in 1974, and starting in ’75, released an album a year for 12 years (skipping ’85). Most were on major labels, until they were unceremoniously dropped following You Can’t Fight Fashion. Their final 2 records were self-released. They hold some local concert attendance records, and their hit My Town, from YCFF, is still played by the Ohio State band at sports events. They finished their career together with a string of 12 concerts back in 86.

~”I'm Gonna Love You” was a single. Power Pop chords and a driving bass drum beat start off the slice of Americana pride. It rocks out with some near country electric guitar and fades out in the end.
“Dancing In The Dark” begins like a Big Star track, then changes direction into piano ballad territory.
“Step The Way” has a slightly dark town, and comes off like a prog rock track, reminding me of Kavaret.
“Waste a Little Time on Me” sounds like a country rock slow dance with some dated synth at the very end.
“Lost in the Funhouse Again” is a funky prog rock song, thanks to the disco bass. The whining electric guitar plays the song out over a gospel chorus of whoo-ho-hoos.
“Gypsy Eyes” relaxes from the energy in the last song with a soft whisper of a ballad. Power builds into the chorus, but the delivery is slow and methodical.

“Face the Music” was also a single. It starts right away with a fun bouncy bass line, dipping into bluesy pub rock and applying an underlying psychedelic organ. The chorus is powerful and catchy. This is the best song up to this point.
“Sweet Refrain” shifts gears quite suddenly to another quiet AM Radio ballad. Right before the chorus it uses a hook stolen from the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane.”  Perhaps that is the reason/ inspiration for the song in the first place.
“Highway Angel” begins with some slide guitar and funky guitars after a bit of dialogue. This would fit into the country rock camp.
“Where Have All The Clowns Gone” ” is a soft song, with a bit of a Soul Asylum feel to it, such as the soft verse in Black Gold.
“Song For My Children It is a respectful sentimental song and bleeds right in from the previous track. The end talks about being so high, and it feels like a mellow cloud walk, so I can only imagine the meaning.

*”Hard Time” starts off with a chugging bass line and dark, wind swept guitar and synth melodies. The vocals are drawn out and accented a little like Michael McDonald.
“Just Give Me Tonight” blasts out with sax and an upbeat tempo. Blue Collar vocals and general rock power through, along with some harmonies. The chorus sounds a little like Jackson Brown’s “Somebody’s Baby” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
“Someone Like You” was a single, and sung by Kevin Raleigh. It reached #75 on the Billboard Magazine chart. The vocals are higher, perhaps a little Rod Stewart-ish, without the raspy-ness. But there is a very nice, fun drive in the chorus. Maybe sounding a bit like The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.” And it ends on an energetic high that fades out.
“Highlife” is a sinister synth song, with sax intro. The vocals are the exaggerated McDonald style again, and the chorus gives a lighter clarity to the song’s dark verse.

“My Town” was a single, and is still performed by Ohio State’s band. It reached #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It has a very Bruce Springsteen or John C. Mellencamp feel to it right away. It’s a chugging, energetic sing along.
“The Damage is Done” is a reflective slow piano based song with lots of ethereal, ambient synth sounds in the background. It sounds very dated to the early 80’s era…complete with sax solo.
“Fire In The Hole” is about a mining disaster. It has a nervous, synth energy, and the vocals are different than the first couple songs full of loud emotion. The end of the song has a bit of call and response with an army of miners chanting the song title at each other.
“How Can You Call This Love” sounds like it is sung by a woman. It is a typical smoothly energetic Footloose style song, swinging tempo from resting to rushing at the drop of the chorus. Electric guitar flourishes, reminding me a little of Beat it, are added for texture.
“Just How Good (A Bad Woman Feels)” is a country hard rock song, with exaggerated vocals a bit like Michael McDonald.

Stand Out Track: ~Face The Music
*My Town


Monday, February 22, 2016

Shoes - Present Tense~ Tongue Twister*

Name: Shoes
Album(s): Present Tense~, Tongue Twister
Year(s): 1979~, 1981*
Style: Power Pop
Similar Bands:Cheap Trick, The Knack, Records, Big Star, Marshall Crenshaw, Squeeze, Kaverat, Jesus Jones
One Word Review: Gentle Hooks
Based Out Of: Zion, Illinois
Label: Elektra, Asylum
 Present Tense - Cover, Sleeve, Record
 Present Tense - Back, Lyrics, Record
 Tongue Twister - Cover, Sleeve, Record
Tongue Twister - Back, Lyrics, Record

Present Tense (1979)
  1. Tomorrow Night 2:55
  2. Too Late 2:42
  3. Hangin' Around With You 3:20
  4. Your Very Eyes 3:04
  5. In My Arms Again 4:00 
  6. Somebody Has What I Had 3:14 /
  7. Now & Then 3:10
  8. Every Girl 2:40
  9. I Don't Miss You 4:02
  10. Cruel You 4:07
  11. Three Times See Me 1:14, Say It 1:02, Listen 1:35 (3:51)
  12. I Don't Wanna Hear It 2:46
Tongue Twister (1981)
  1. Your Imagination 2:28
  2. Burned Out Love 2:42
  3. The Things You Do 3:07
  4. Only In My Sleep 2:38
  5. Karen 2:26
  6. She Satisfies 2:58 /
  7. Girls of Today 3:06
  8. Hopin' She's The One 2:26
  9. When It Hits 2:46
  10. Yes or No 3:01
  11. Found a Girl 2:53
  12. Hate to Run 2:26
Album Rating (1-10): ~7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jeff Murphy - Vox, Guitar, Percussion~* (Allrise, Bradburys, Dan Kibler, Insanity Wave, Tommy Keene, Fishy Motion, Dean Goldstein, Fun With Atoms, Guster, Harry Chalmiers, Day One)
John Murphy - Vox, Bass, Guitars ~* (Wayne Boyer, John Earl Walker Band, The Divine Comedy, Herb Eimerman, The Associates)
Gary Klebe - Vox, Guitar, Percussion~* (Bradburys, Fun With Atoms, Day One, Herb Eimerman)
Skip Meyer - Drums, Vox ~*
Dan Bourgoise / Bug Artists - Manager~*
John Brand - Mixdown Engineer~
Ron Coro - Art Direction~*
Marlis Duncklau - Tape Op~
Mary Francis - Art Direction~
Elliot Gilbert - Photography~
Yoshiro Kuzumaki - Mastering Engineer~*
Johnny Lee - Art Direction~
George Marino - Mastering~
Mike Stone - Engineer, Production~
Yumie Takei - Artwork~
Richard Dashut - Producer*
David Dominquez Ahlert - Engineer*
Terry Dunavan - Mastering*
Daniel Lazerus - Second Engineer*
Hernan Rojas - Engineer*
Randee St. Nicholas - Photography*
Larry Vigon - Cover Art*

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of Shoes. But I imagine it is a standard 80's pastel power-pop band. Catchy songs, nothing heavy or alarming to parents. Just some good old Americana power pop about love and life. I'll be pretty surprised if it is any different.

Album Review: Friends and a brother formed the band in high school and have been making music since, even releasing a new record back in 2011. After their record label that released these two albums plus one more, they made their own recording studio, and even produced records from Material Issue until 2004. They even had a song in Mannequin 2 (1990), and were one of the first big MTV bands with four videos off of Present Tense.
~“Tomorrow Night” was a single with a video played on MTV. It kicks off with a drum beat and jangely guitar. The vocals are light, as if recorded in a different room. Bass is a little dark, but blends nicely. The chorus is catchy, and the whole song is a nice piece of power pop.
“Too Late” was also a single played on MTV. It again brings for the jangley guitars and power pop chords. This is even more upbeat and non-threatening. It builds nicely to a smooth and harmonized chorus. The only fault with it is that it does not have much of a punch at all. It falters to create a strong memory, and meanders in basic Americana pop.
“Hangin' Around With You” starts with a bit more swagger and personality in the chugging tempo and electric guitar. The vocals are very light again, a little like a bland Glenn Tilbrook. The bridge has some catchy guitar chords.
“Your Very Eyes” quietly fades up, and the vocals are not much more than a whisper. But as the song begins to form, the basic melody is very AM Radio / singer songwritery, but it is a very catchy light rock song. The verse & bridge consist of better hooks than the chorus, however. It reminds me very slightly of the melodies in Kaverat. An electric guitar carries the instrumental section, but the Big Star influence is not lost on this song.
“In My Arms Again” was not a single, but they aired it with a video on MTV. It starts with bass and a kick drum. And it transforms into a driving power pop song, but not too forceful. The chorus of the song is a breakdown and divergence from the driving tempo. More squeeze comparisons can be drawn from the vocal style for the final section of the song.
“Somebody Has What I Had” has a weird tempo that is hard to jump on board with. It changes as the song progresses, and for all the emotion it tries to build, it still feels like the feelings just melt away. The bass line shifts to a darker tone like in the opening song. There are many sections that make up this song, but they are not necessarily tied together smoothly.

“Now & Then” starts side two with a rocking tempo. The vocals strip all of the anxious nature that the music projects, and the harmonized vocals make it an even wimpier impact. But it still carries on with some descent power pop chord changes.
“Every Girl” plays in with a jangley guitar and heat-like drum beat. This is the type of musical support that blends better with the effortless vocals.
“I Don't Miss You” was a single. It kicks in with a steady echoing drum beat, and a pulsing bass. Fuzzy guitar chords are layered over, and then a second set of chords that remind me of a Dressy Bessy song (Roundabout) fill the gap before the vocals begin with a start stop chord structure.
“Cruel You” was not a single, but had an MTV video. It chugs right from the get go with up/down chord strumming. The vocals are a little more rushed/urgent, and the melody rolls forward and it begins to really sound like a Squeeze song, especially with some of the minor harmonizing. This one actually works well on all accounts, and has enough changes and differences to keep it interesting.
“Three Times: See Me, Say It, Listen” comes in three parts. The first section begins as an acoustic ballad. It kicks into part two with acoustic chord strums and a folksy tempo. The final section of the song feels like a nostalgic throwback. It is relaxed and sentimental, but it lost the momentum from the middle section.
“I Don't Wanna Hear It” has a jittery drum beat and bass beat once it kicks in. The guitar is rushed and sloppy in a refreshing, driving way. The vocals are still reserved, but follow along, with a little gristle, particularly in the power pop driven chorus.

*“Your Imagination” was a single. It kicks off with a strong guitar, power pop hook, and the vocals are already more inspired than on the first album. The chorus has a bit of a call and response with a “yeah!” in support of the lyrics. The vocals remind me a little of the vocals from the 90’s band Jesus Jones.
“Burned Out Love” has a nice tempo to it…not rushed or driving, but steady. The guitar hook layered underneath just acts to punctuate the chorus. There is more emotion in the vocals of one line in the verse than any of the previous album, reminding me again of Jesus Jones. The guitar is turned up and played through a massive effects pedal for a very bold sound in the instrumental.
“The Things You Do” was the b-side to their Your Imagination single. Sounds like a new wave track with synth effects, although the liner notes proudly proclaim “No Keyboards.” The rhythm guitar sounds like a general college radio track. The vocals channel a Tilbrook melody, with a couple of harmonized words / phrases. The song is not all that lively, it maintains a steady middle ground.
“Only In My Sleep” is a jangley power pop song, channeling the minor urgency in Big Star songs, with harmonic accents and a gentle ride of hooks. It is a catchy song when you are listening to it, but it fails to leave a lasting impression.
“Karen” was also a single. It continues the Squeeze-like jangle-pop format, but it has a much more memorable rolling melody than the couple of song before it. It is a little more stripped down and sedated, with the acoustic guitar and drums balanced in the background, letting the vocal melody drive the song.
“She Satisfies” was a b-side to their Karen single. It wakes the listener up with a blast of guitar riffs. The vocals are a little raspier, when it hits the bridge; the fuzzy electric guitar is abandoned for a jangley guitar, and a nice smooth building vocal. This leads into the chorus where the guitar comes back in at full force, and the vocals pick up energy, sounding like Jesus Jones. All three sections of this song are very catchy, and are rearranged at the end to avoid the bridge.

“Girls of Today” again sounds like it has a synth keyboard in the background, but I guess it is a guitar played through an effects pedal. The chorus is very catchy, and a good release of built up momentum. It is weirdly sexually controlling with a lyric like “I’ll find a way to keep you inside me.” The vocals sound a lot like Tilbrook in this song, especially when he gets more emotional.
“Hopin' She's The One” begins with a darker bass line, and power pop guitar melodies. The chorus is a call and response between the lead, and a chorus of backing vocals singing “the one…hoping that she’s the one.” I am not going to be much use for the rest of this review, and I can’t stop hearing the vocal comparisons of Jesus Jones and Glenn Tilbrook.
“When It Hits” has a looped electric power-pop guitar hook. Most of the song is a reiteration of the chorus, singing the title, and following it with “It’s gonna hit so hard” After two verses, the tone is shifted up for a verse, but it returns to the same repetitive chorus.
“Yes or No” a jangley guitar loop and a steady bass line start the song off as if it is already in the middle of the song. The lead guitar has a rising riff that reminds me of the start of Cracker’s “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now).” It also sounds like a sedated version of “She Satisfies.”
“Found a Girl” begins with what sounds like a church organ effect on the guitar. It has a sad, sentimental tone at the outset, and maintains that throughout, making it their slow ballad
“Hate to Run” starts off with some harmonized “ah-ah-ah’s” and is a pleasant, poppy way to end the record. It carries the sentiment of not enjoying the end of something by showing just how much energy they still had with this rolling momentum song. The chorus is not very stand out different or catchy, and ultimately ends the album with a feedback fade out.

Stand Out Tracks: ~Cruel You
* She Satisfies

Official Site
CD Baby
'12 NPR Article

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Nick Forte - Pasted Lakes

Name: Nick Forte
Album: Pasted Lakes
Year: 2004
Style: Ambient Electro Experimental
Similar Bands: Ghostwriters, Aphex Twin, Manuel Gottsching
One Word Review: Chaotic Static Techno
Based Out Of: New York Ciry
Label: Schematic
 Pasted Lakes - Cover, Sleeve & Record
Pasted Lakes - Back, Sleeve, Record
Pasted Lakes (2004)
  1. Green Language 4:31
  2. Drumming in Circles 2:34
  3. Cram Corridor 1:19
  4. Sugar Lemonade 1:14
  5. Did you Feel That 1:33
  6. Thistle Rue 2:47
  7. Swallowing Gel 1:10
  8. Crack and Crevice 1:42 /
  9. Fragged 0:31
  10. Kill Your Carpet 2:26
  11. Blender Dance 3:05
  12. Forgotten Music 2:45
  13. Avenge Me 1:07
  14. Wolf Cry 3:58
  15. Join Us 2:13
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Nick Forte - Guitar, Effects, Artwork  (Rorschach, Beautiful Skin, Computer Cougar, Christmas Decorations, Felipe & Forte, Sky Dripping Venom, Hells Hills, Hamsoken, Beautiful Skin, Raspberry Bulbs, Radio to Saturn)
Stacy Wakefield - Design

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of Nick Forte. But based on the collage-like artwork, I'm guessing it is going to be an album of fun, indie songs. I like the bright colors, and am excited to hear what is on the album.

Album Review: So Nick Forte is an experimental guitar and ambient noise songwriter. He was part of the band Rorschach in the 90’s and left focusing on guitar distortion and effects. He had a lot of on-the-job training when he worked for Electro-Harmonix, testing faders, pedals and other equipment. He’s been involved with a lot of different projects and duos, with this 2004 release being his first solo record, full of ambient, electronic, and chaotic noises in mostly short spurts. It is not what I expected based on the artwork. But if I knew more about the label (who also has Crash Course in Science re-releases), I’d have known better. The song break-ups are not always easy to tell, so I’m going to go by my best assumptions, and noted song lengths.

“Green Language” features some Aphex Twin like backwards skipping stumbling horror effects and heavy marine buoy bell ringing. Haunting synth lines float along in the background, mixed with echoing guitar licks. The skipping effects give out to the end for a segment, but come back in, stuttering and spitting.
“Drumming in Circles” starts with a synthetic steel plinking ball bouncing around pinball bumpers. Drum raps sound like old fashioned scorecard flipping around, and haunting deep see notes reverberate, echoing loud to soft. The pattern of the ball sounds comes and go, while the submarine pings continue
“Cram Corridor” is a stretching and shifting of time and space effect, combined with static charges pulsating trying to break through to stay consistent.
“Sugar Lemonade” sounds like the thump-thumping of a brotastic club beat heard muffled through the walls. It is kind of back-skipping with pauses where it comes up for air to maintain a solid note.
“Did You Feel That” is an onslaught of heavy gurgling sound, with a nice, skipping wood block beat as the tempo.
“Thistle Rue” starts with a straight forward house four-beat. It becomes manipulated, and fractured, all while trying to maintain itself. It becomes muffled and still struggles to maintain consistency. Synthetic twsiting and growing steel beam sounds are brought into the rhythm, and cause necessary chaos, and it ends abruptly.
“Swallowing Gel” is a chaotic mashing of watery, gurgling sound clay, while a bouncing racket/pong ball rebounds around in the background.
“Crack and Crevice” slowly grows like an infrared light shining on things beyond the visible light spectrum. There is jitteriness to the growing tone, and scene jump cut sound effects are layered over as dstraction.

“Fragged” is a short haunting crystal, tone, quickly taken over by murky, slowed down revving.
“Kill Your Carpet” continues with the that slowed revving sound as if filtered through plasma. Crashing, crushing tinny effects are placed over the rev-hum, and skitter and dance around in the foreground in heavy, unforgiving overcoats. Echo chamber static hums begin to take over at the end, and if in battle with the bouncing, cruch-thumps
“Blender Dance” begins as a pulsing electronic washing machine grows louder. Static charges are emitted in the background, and highway cars pass by to create only a bit section of the Doppler effect. As if coming through from an adjacent radio station, a delicate simple drum beat tries to gain footing in the mix.
“Forgotten Music” sounds like electric pulses strumming a rubber band to a definite beat. Haunting organ notes rise and fall slowly in the background.
“Avenge Me” is a short skittering of static and a looping Rube Goldbergian sound effect. An echoing zoob tube sound is added just toward the end.
“Wolf Cry” has a lurching video game sound effect of pong bouncing back and forth, picking up speed between the oscillations. The volley finds a constant pace, and the knobs are twittered ever so slightly to create different tones with each connection. In the background is the standard haunting base that rises and falls. The volley stops and starts as if it is playing through a channel that can’t bring in the picture quality well, and is filtered through static. The station is changed back for the last 20 seconds or so for a very clear sound.
“Join Us” could be seen as a haunting spaceship landing slowly in a cold winter field. Haunting wind gusts funnel through the large UFO, as the landing system pulses. The sound moans and wales, like whale mating calls in the deep.

This is not an album I would seek out and put on, but I enjoyed the frantic, yet relaxing vibe it emits, and I enjoyed the remarking about and visualizing the instruments and sounds.

Stand Out Track: Avenge Me / Wolf Cry

Official Site
Schematic interview

Monday, February 8, 2016

FM - City of Fear

Name: FM
Album: City of Fear
Year: 1980
Style: Space Rock, Prog
Similar Bands: City Boy, Rush, Yes, Styx, Journey
One Word Review: Watered Down Power Prog.
Based Out Of: Toronto, Canada
Label: Passport
 City of Fear - Cover & Back, Record
City of Fear - Gatefold, Record
City of Fear (1980)
  1. Krakow 4:37
  2. Power 3:28
  3. Truth or Consequences 4:13
  4. Lost and Found 4:25
  5. City of Fear 5:07 /
  6. Surface to Air 5:18
  7. Up to You 4:21
  8. Silence 3:22
  9. Riding the Thunder 4:06
  10. Nobody at All 4:09
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Larry Fast - Producer (David Pritchard, Synergy, Peter Gabriel, Fire Inc, Tony Levin Band)
Ben Mink - Violin, Mandolin, Vox (Murray McLaughlin, KD Lang, Heart, Raffi, American Flyer discogs page)
Cameron Hawkins - Lead Vox, Synth, Bass, Piano (David Pritchard, Ken Ramm, Nash the Slash, Kick Axe, Marty Simon, Ed Bernard)
Martin Deller - Drums, Electric and Acoustic Percussion (David Pritchard, Ben Mink, The Travellers, Ken Ramm, M+M, Nash the Slash)
Murray Brenman - Artwork, Design
Charles Conrad - Engineer
Jim Frank - Engineer, Pre-Production
Mark Wright - Engineer, Recording, Pre-Production
Cliff Hodsdon - Asst Engineer
Scott Rea - Asst Engineer
Bob Ludwig - Mastering
Ian Murray - Pre-Production Asst, Crew
Eric Staller - Photo Cover
Paul Till - Inner Photo
Bob Rock - Stand Ups Photo
Pamela Silverstein - Spoken Word
Rob Onedera - Synthy Maintenance
Ed Stone - Pre-Production
Ian Dunbar - Pre-Production, Crew
Kitty Cross - Crew
Fred Bunting - Crew
Bob Rodgers - Crew
Andy Murray - Crew
Phil Morrow - Crew
Peter McMullen - Crew

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of FM. But they look like any long haired hard rock band from the late 70’s early 80’s, like City Boy, or Heaven. I don’t expect it to be anything out of the ordinary, perhaps metal lite with prog rock tendencies.

Album Review:  FM was a space or Sci-Fi Prog Rock band based in Canada. Starting in 1976, they had a revolving door of band members and set ups, starting off as a two-piece lacking any guitars. The front man (Hawkins) sang, played keys and some bass, while Nash was in the back, a mysterious shrouded figure playing electrified string instruments, a drum machine and occasional backing vocals. Four albums followed the departure of Nash as well as the addition of a live drummer. This album is the final of those four, acclaimed as catchier than being prog-heavy, and featuring shorter song lengths: both are seen as pros or cons depending on who you talk to.
“Krakow” begins with a simple driving bass line, reminding me a little of the intro/verse of Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild. The vocals begin solo, with a chorus echoing in tow. They are similar to that of a hundred other new wave bands, kind of nasally, and computer-cold. After a brief fake-out soundless section, the instruments come back. The song is of simple construction, verse and instrumental in trading off sections.
“Power” explodes with Prog synth notes, and transitions into power pop guitar chords, which sets the tone for a marching tempo. It builds nicely leading up to the chorus, which is a bit of a chaotic reshuffling and sped up drumming. The sections come together nicely for the grand finale.
“Truth or Consequences” starts with a pounding bass line, and soaring strings. The song then shifts gears into a mid tempo pub rock song, with parallel synth & bass lines in the chorus. It has a nice energy build and release in the chorus, even if it is not incredibly catchy.
“Lost and Found” begins with a trash can drum beat. Very synth effects and mid-later period Oingo Boingo-style (thinking Two Twisted Trees) vocals are sung over the snickering synth. The song is strained, pining and kind of dark wave / cold war / industrial once the synth strings and heavy drums kick in.
“City of Fear” on the other hand is much more upbeat and happy tones, with a prog like opening that blends with heavy guitars. Very Rush-like. The verse is very modern, and catchy, and the bridge / verse 2.0,  before the drab chorus, is heightened an octave higher even more catchy. The instrumental breakdown is all lead guitar (even though there is no guitar).

“Surface to Air” is a simple, repetitive keyboard loop, with similar tone to Journey’s Separate Ways intro. The synth line establishes itself and soars along. Calm, non-threatening vocals start, and begin the mid-tempo verse, punctuated by prog flourishes. The chorus is energetic, and catchy. The instrumental breakdown is a duel between the prog power strings and synth melody soaring across the soundscape like a video game.
“Up to You” single chords strung together in with a sinister string effect. This song reminds me of Thomas Dolby a little. It builds nicely in the bridge between verse into the chorus, but does not quite deliver a single catchy release. The second time through ends up at the instrumental, which is powered by the soaring strings solo. That gives out, and the remaining Phil Collins drum loops brings us back. The song is just missing one big thing to make it a great song.
“Silence” begins as another cold, echoing, rhythm based song. It moves forward staggering and segmented. The song is pretty forgettable, with no memorable hook. It feels like it just fills a space, where the melody is tough to pin down, and the vocals are not loud either. I guess Silence is a good title for this mellow, meandering song.
“Riding the Thunder” for a couple of chords, it sounds like it is going to be the Black Crows Hard to Handle. But the power chords never converge into a super catchy, rattling hook. They just hover there, and repeat themselves, bearing the brunt of the tempo. There is a lot of angry energy in the vocals, but they seem diffused by the minimal instrumentation. The instrumental section kicks into overdrive, and the song blasts forward. Just when it seems to return to the slowed up section, it powers on with more synth and distortion effects over the strings, and even the vocals later on in the “instrumental.”
“Nobody at All” begins with spoken work, and a delicate piano. The vocals take the song back to a more elegant era, revitalized through the hair band power ballad. This school dance ender doesn’t fit in too much with the rest of the album, unless you go with the stereotypical record of the day that needed to include a slow song. There are some proggy-crystal elements to the synth at times, but it is mostly a piano ballad with a semi-hard edge at times. 

Stand Out Track: Surface to Air

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