Sunday, December 29, 2013

Semi-Finals #2: Discipline Vs. In The Court of The Crimson King

After submitting my last article an observant reader made this comment:
"Red is emotional in a more direct way, the lyrics are clear and the vocals up front. His voice on Larks sounds distant and pretty meek. I could sing you most of Reds lyrics and none from Larks except for the "Ea-syyy Mo-neyyyy".
The mixing sets Red apart too, I guess."

While I could recall the majority of Easy Money's  lyrics I think the reader made a spot on observation about how Lark's Tongue in Aspic was mixed compared to Red.  It just goes to show how important mix can be in creating a great album, and how the mix of an album can reflect the emotion and feeling of an album.

These are two different concepts.  A bad mix is just a poor balance of sounds, either due to a lack of know-how or budget restraints.  A poorly thought out mix is different, as the mix can be reflective of the mood of an album.  Sometimes a rough mix better reflects the feel of the music, and sometimes it benefits from a clean sounding mix with everything being truly distinguished.  While the later concept is purely subjective you sometimes get the feeling the musician or producer either gave the mixing stage a big 'ol "aw fuck it" or had a far different idea for their music than the listener did.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Saturday Night Hype Masters 12-28-2013 (Noisia)

Alright, y''s time for another 5 hit combo of hype shit to get you ready to take on yet another Saturday Night! This time, your fuel for the fire is none other than Noisia! Jacks of all trades, they can handle multiple genres and still get the groove goin'! Even got some music in a couple games, too! Check 'em out in the later entries in the "Wipeout" racing game series, and their original music score for the Devil May Cry reboot! So get to listenin' and I'll see you all next week AND next year!

-Kenny Riot-

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Tournament for the Court of the Crimson King Semi-Finals: Lark's Tongue in Aspic v Red

So just to get everyone back to speed I have revised the bracket.   Because of my terrible art skills it still looks modestly like garbage, but this is the tier of quality equated with Riff 'N Ralk Music Tock
Before we begin with our semi finals I wanted to share a quote from someone who has been reading this feature since I started it in September (thanks!)
"While I disagreed with a couple of the first round results, I like your final four and based on that bracket setup mine would've ended up the same. "

I think that this is a sentiment that could be shared across most Crimson fans.  While I know some would disagree with my first round choices I think we have the best four albums here at the end.  Each showcases Crimson at its peak in for one reason.
In The Court Of The Crimson King for its quintessential progressive rock nature.
Lark's Tongue in Aspic for its encapsulation of their improvisational nature
Red for being the final evolution of the British progressive invasion
Discipline for showing that progressive means more than 15 minute songs about fighting dragons

Let us begin the finale
File:Larks tongues in aspic album cover.jpg  VS File:Red, King Crimson.jpg

Monday, December 23, 2013

I Hate Christmas Music – Except for Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart

It's that time of year again where Christmas music is inescapable. If you've put on Sunny 99.1 lately you won't be hearing the tuneful melodies of soft rock icons like Phil Collins or Michael Bolton. Instead, you'll be hearing the wretched tones of “You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!” or “Baby, It's Cold Outside.”

That's right. Wretched tones. I'm calling Christmas music out because frankly it sucks. I'm not convinced a legitimately great, or really even good, Christmas song has ever been written, and I grow more sure of this every insufferable year.

There is, however, one man who managed to inject enough whimsy, enough wackiness, and enough self-effacing ridiculousness into Christmas music to make it bearable: Bob Dylan, whose own Christmas in the Heart should set the tone for any and all Christmas music written in the future.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Night Hype Masters 12-21-2013 (Original Sin)

A'ight, y'all! Kenny Riot is back again with a brand new fiver for y'all, tonight! This time, we're gonna skank to the fine musical stylings of Original Sin. He's got a wonderful energetic style that has mostly fueled the "Jump Up" style of Drum & Bass, but he's also done work in the Dubstep and Drumstep genres, and doesn't slack even so much as a little, there. So, tonight, get yourself hyped up with this playlist before you go off doin' whatever it is you're gonna be doin' tonight! Catch you next week!

-Kenny Riot-

Monday, December 16, 2013

Round 2 Finale: Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With vs Lark's Tongue in Aspic

A commenter made a valid point the other day about this whole project stating that comparing some of these albums is like comparing two different bands.  He was absolutely right in his statement, that in essence every time King Crimson reforms it is almost as if a new band is there, that is the essence of the group.  With that said I still find it appropriate to create these comparisons, despite the huge differences there are many similarities as well.  Fripp has the tendency to write Crimson material is specific ways.  Not only that, but it is still quite feasible to explore the quality of execution of each album.  Some of that is interpretation on my behalf, but in essence all art journalism is (is this journalism?).


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Night Hype Masters 12-14-2013 (Gridlok)

'Sup, y'all? So, a while back, Alex asked me if I'd be interested in doin' some shit for Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock, and I agreed, but I racked my brain for a while to figure out WHAT to do, exactly. So, Startin' today, I'm gonna set up 5 track playlists focusing on artists and producers I think are dope as hell and that you should try out. For this first entry, we're gonna go with one of my personal favorites, Gridlok. Get ready for some deep ass Drum & Bass to get you hyped up for Saturday Night! So get to listenin' and enjoy this first installment of "Saturday Night Hype Masters"!

 -Kenny Riot-

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ryan reviews Arcade Fire's Reflektor

What happens when you reach the top in music, when you are globally hailed as being the best in the music industry? The Beatles broke up and went their separate ways. Kanye went nuts. Elvis became a drug addict. The Arcade Fire, after winning the Grammy for Album of the Year, made a dance album.

Reflekt this, haters!
Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, Reflektor carries on the band’s tradition of having very catchy songs while capturing the sound of a fledgling indie band. It is amazing that they have maintained their sound after winning such an esteemed award (of which a bunch of terrible albums have been nominated/won ie: Babel). Not only that, but Reflektor is a double album. Songs such as “Normal Person” and “Joan of Arc” really make evident that creatively the Fire are still at the top of their game. This album, however, blends the past with a very dark present; adding in a lot of electronic elements and macabre lyrics to dampen the mood throughout. The song “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” being the most evident example of this darkening tone(perhaps maturing?).
What did I mean when they made a dance album, however? In Reflektor, they released quite a few songs with deep dance influences. Songs such as “Here Comes the Night Time” and “Afterlife” draw heavily from different dance genres. The former sounding more like an M.I.A. song and the latter like an early 80’s pop song (ala the Go-Go’s). The sound is mostly captured by the drums, bass and upwards of three keyboards/synths, giving the relatively dark lyrics a peppy feels. Every time I listen to those two songs I instantly think of being at a small, hidden bar in Milwaukee.
There were a couple of parts of this album that I didn’t particularly enjoy. The first being that this double album only had thirteen total songs. The final song “Supersymmetry” being mostly ambient filler. They easily could have shaved it down to a single album(or added more content!). I was also not a huge fan of the song “Flashbulb Eyes,” it tries a little too hard to emulate dub reggae, my least favorite genre. Other than those few criticisms I think overall the album is good, not Album of the Year good, but I don’t think many albums are.
My favorite song on the album is the titular “Reflektor”. It’s catchy beat is that of mid-seventies disco, complete with a range of percussion instruments sprinkled about. Clocking in at seven and a half minutes, this single sets the tone for the following songs very well. Of course, the best part is when David Bowie makes a very surprising contribution. A double album collaboration with Bowie and The ‘Fire sounds like just what the ailing world needs, but sadly David Bowie was only on the one track, maybe next year. The album is still a success nonetheless.

Key Tracks: “Reflektor”, “You Already Know”, “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”

Final Say: B+

Episode 16

Episode 16!
Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock finally can reveal their unedited episode 16! We tackle Miley Cyrus Gary Numan Official and Panic! At The Disco. My best creative efforts can be heard around the 33:45 mark.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Round 2: Beat v Red

I had a brief moment where I felt I was hitting my wall with this whole affair.  Writing about one band for so long would lead to you getting burnt out it seems.  I hit my second stride this weekend as I enjoyed a King Crimson show from 1971, their genuinely dysfunctional years.  Despite the band being a complete mess it was shocking to hear how many great ideas were had that would never surface again.  The use of effects on the drum kit was a big one, as the drum solo in Groon turned from a classic 70's thrashing to a phaser induced seizure.  Another highlight would have to be their mocking blues-oriented rendition of In The Court Of The Crimson King, a tongue in cheek jab at the shouting demands of the rowdy Detroit audience.  Robert Fripp has done something incredible with his DGM catalog that more bands should mimic.  Although I find his prices for his shows a bit steep ($10 for a digital  live album), his desire to share with his fans as many live recordings as possible is a genuine testament to his love for his them.  Some may say otherwise, considering his affinity for playing in the shadows and demanding no photography be taken to the point of walking off stage if he sees any.  A strange man indeed, one that would warrant his own article, but perhaps I have enough on my plate as is.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Round 2: Discipline v THRaK

There is a definite challenge I have realized in writing about an album more than once.  As I began to process the thoughts that would be this project I realized I would have to talk about an album up to four different times.  I found myself purposefully omitting thoughts and ideas to allow for myself to have something to discuss in the next round.  As was probably obvious, usually the losing album just received a verbal lashing as the winning album just had an occasional nod.  This, going back, was most apparent in the final pairing of the first round.  Upon completion of the write-up I realized THRaK only had the briefest of mentions, hiding off stage as Lizard received its judgment.  Do not worry my few readers, for now we finally explore the THRaK conundrum.  I guess I will have to discuss Discipline too....


Monday, November 11, 2013

Round 2 Begins: In The Wake Of Poseidon v In The Court Of The Crimson King

Round 2 is finally underway!  I'm so excited to finally move into the top 8.  For those of you who are not keeping track at home here is an updated bracket (with poor photoshop skills abound!)

Well we finally get to discuss this one.  In The Court got a free ride into the second round by sheer name alone and now we can get to finally talk about it.  Now it must face up against its follow-up, the often ridiculed younger brother.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The First Round Finale: THRaK vs Lizard

And after nearly two months of endless writing we come to the finale.....of the first round.  I wonder to myself what in the world I signed myself up to do, as this task is beyond overly indulgent and relentlessly time consuming.  On the other hand, I am not stressed to think of new writing topics at this time, able to simply gush about one of my favorite bands.  Time consuming yes, but in the midst of academic paper writing this is an exercise in self-care.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ryan reviews Yoko Ono’s Take Me to the Land of Hell

Ryan reviews Yoko Ono’s Take Me to the Land of Hell

                As I queued up this album, I could only think to myself, “This will not end well for you.” Yoko Ono is widely regarded as the worst thing to ever happen to popular music (or music in general). Everywhere you turn she is screaming in places of fine art, or screaming on live television, or doing other crazy non-scream related things. Yoko’s latest endeavor was releasing the third Plastic Ono Band album since their reformation with her son Sean Lennon. The name of the album is Take Me to the Land of Hell. It is frightening.
Yes, this is a real thing. And no, you don't have to listen to it.
            The first song on the album, “Moonbeams” begins with Yoko imitating a bird call. This is followed by a very strange poem about the moon. Just like that, it begins. Like two cars crashing into a flock of geese, Yoko wails for what seems to be an eternity. Her guttural sounds are at once pained and ecstatic, immediately giving me the creeps. This song flawlessly segues into the next song, “Cheshire Cat Cry.” Which has a pretty funky bassline and clearly aims to be the most accessible song on the album. The Plastic Ono Band recently went on a late night comedy show and performed this song, they sound radically different. I guess that is the point of Yoko’s art, to be very in the moment.  Although, listening to this album begs the question, “What the hell is going on in her head?” I assume that it is a nightmarish hellscape of man/monsters competing for dominion over her image of the world. It is a situation where no one wins but Yoko.

            The third song of what feels like onehundred but is actually thirteen is called “Tabetai.” It has more of a late 1980’s synth melded with African polyrhythm feel. If God were truly benevolent, it would be an Enya song instead of a Plastic Ono Band song. “Bad Dancer” is a song about a bad singer also being a bad dancer accompanied by bad programming from Pro-Tools. Do not listen to it. It will give you nightmares of Yoko Ono giving you a lapdance, of which, ironically isn’t that bad.

            At this point in my listening, I took a brief reprieve. I went out and smelled a flower. I delicately shaved my face as well, then took in a movie. I realized what this album was. It was designed solely to show us the absolute bottom of music. The spike-filled pit of yodeling and awful beats. Through this moment of clarity I understood that it was a necessity. We need music like this to fully appreciate the hard work of other, talented musicians. I then woefully dragged myself back to the stereo.

            “Little Boy Blue” gives the illusion of being a normal song until it devolves into a clusterfuck of moans and cries for ninety seconds straight…

            The only serious song on the entire album is “There’s No Goodbye Between Us.” It has an emotional tone about death and coping. Yoko may be addressing the loss of John Lennon. She may also be referencing her own time left on Earth. Who knows? Coincidentally, it is the shortest song on the album (aside from the final, silent track). They have no time for sad songs that actually illicit emotion from the listeners. For the song, “7th Floor” (featuring ?uestlove), I will simply leave you with this:
Don’t cut my hands – can’t strangle you.
Don’t cut my legs – can’t walk out on you.
Don’t cut my tongue – can’t spit on you.
Don’t cut me off – I’ll kill you.

            The titular song “Take Me to the Land of Hell” does just that. It is essentially a dark song about a blood river. Which is not what I think about when I imagine Hell. It is, in fact, listening to the Plastic Ono Band. “Leaving Tim” is a jazzy song about breaking up with a guy named Tim, who may or may not be “…the son of Dracula.” It is a thoroughly confusing song and the only thing that got me through is knowing that there is only one more song left. Of course, the final song of the album is four minutes of an effect laden Yoko Ono wailing about absolutely nothing. I hate everyone responsible for this album. I wish them pain. But, the knowledge that the producers and engineers and writers had to listen to each song multiple times is punishment enough, I guess.

Final Word: Just, don’t.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Episode 15

Click here for Episode 15!
Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock is back for our big fifteenth episode! We review Elvis Costello and The Roots Wise Up Ghost and Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks. 

A brief intermission: A note on some of Crimson's live work

Aside from THRaKaTTaK I haven't really discussed live Crimson.  I'll save you, the reader, from reading my mouth foaming fervor about it as well and simply make a few suggestions.  There is a lot of live material, the list is astonishing to say the least.  If I set up a tournament just for live material we would be here until the next presidential election.  So here are some good starting albums.  None of these are bootlegs and are available through DGM Live or other means.

VROOM VROOM or Live On Broadway - both are wonderful examples of the 90s Thrak era sound.  I have heard other live albums from this era and the mix is iffy at best.  VROOM VROOM has the better track list, but Live On Broadway sounds better and does a better job of accentuating the dual drummer model they had.  You could not go wrong either way, and it really is based on whether you prefer a better mix or setlist.

USA or Live In Asbury Park - Both are stellar albums.  USA is easy to find on vinyl which gives it bonus points.  Asbury Park is just an insane performance.  These two showcase the '73/'74 era.

Live In Chicago 8.7.2008 -The line-up that never was.  This form of Crimson lasted only a handful of shows before falling apart in a quick blaze of glory.  The dual drummer format is back and the mix allows for it to be showcased brilliantly.

Live at The Greek Theatre 8.3.1982 - I think the Beat tour was the best for 80s Crimson, they had the best selection of material and were creatively firing on all cylinders.  As is painfully obvious, I don't think any of the Three of a Perfect Pair material added much to their shows, and just added songs I'd rather not hear.  I know there are other great shows from this era, but this is the one that actually showed me how good 80's Crimson was.  Waiting Man as the show opener is just breath taking, and Bruford's violent drum solo for Indiscipline shows that there was great drumming in the 80s (you just had to find it).

Epitaph - A multidisc collection of live performances from the original line-up featuring more versions of 21st Century Schizoid Man than you could ever need.  Also features some songs that would eventually be reworked on to In The Wake of Poseidon and ones that simply faded away.

Round 1 nears the end: Beat vs Starless and Bible Black

Robert Fripp once said that King Crimson was a live band first and a studio band second.  Considering the recent activities of the band it comes to no surprise.  Crimson's live presence is monstrous, filled with improvisation and creative redesigning of previous genius.  How would you translate 21st Century Schizoid Man into a lineup with twice as many drummers, bassists, and guitarists, and no horns?  Somehow he figured it out.  It is something I love about Crimson, its intent on reinventing itself with new songs, while also approaching old material with a new perspective.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ryan Reviews Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Part 2

By: Ryan Burns
No use hiding JT, we can all see you.
                Just when I thought Justin had made a pretty enjoyable album for 2013 he turns right around and releases a second part that no one knew about. Rumor has it he had a boxing vocabulary-littered album slated to be released before 20/20pt.2, but he lost the flash drive with the only copy of the album on the way to the manufacturer. In the stead of that tragedy, we have been treated to the less impressive second installation of 20/20.
Exactly forty-eight hours after “Suit and Tie” had faded from the airwaves and the catchy melody of “Mirrors” had solidified in our ear canals, the narcotic-infused hit “Take Back the Night”…hit. It reminds me of Robin Thicke’s numerous efforts of building on the catchy themes of 1970’s R&B and Disco songs, only better. “Take Back” is 100% a party song, complete with numerous background voices akin to certain Marvin Gaye songs. The various people singing along carry on the melody at the end of the song as if the recording studio had a hootenanny going on during the sessions. It truly is a delight. Due to its freshness, it isn’t as annoying as “Suit & Tie”, but I feel that soon may change, like every single top 40 hits since 1992.
                Jay-Z makes a delightfully hilarious appearance on the song “Murder” saying crazy shit like “She got that Yoko Ono. You know that shit that made John Lennon go solo. Know that shit gotta be lethal, if that pussy broke up the Beatles.” The song is otherwise set up to be a club hit. Throbbing bass and horns set the scene for JT to play around in. It’s a pretty good song, but has the potential to be quite annoying if overplayed.
                Much to my surprise, the song “TKO” caught me off guard. This gem is filled with boxing terms! I can only imagine that it is a callback to the lost fisticuff concept album JT was planning to release this year as well. A sort of memorial for what could have been. This song graces us with such wonderful lines as, “Tried to go below the belt, through my chest, perfect hit to the dome“. Further into the song, Timbaland lent his voice, discussing getting his ass kicked by a vagina or something. I wept with joy during this song.
                The effect heavy “Only When I Walk Away” was a very unsatisfying song. It seemed too long and there was nothing particularly interesting about it, UNTIL the last minute. I don’t know what the producers were thinking. Out of nowhere this fucking song turned into a bad throwback to 1970’s dub music, complete with awful reggae horns that so many contemporary University town DJs love to use. It seemed that the producers aim was to be ironic and nostalgic. All it made me think about was other, better music I could have been listening to. Fortunately, the song ended and the rest of the album was quite enjoyable.
                Overall, the album is kind of impressive. JT clearly had numerous songs built up from the 20/20 sessions. I’m not sure if this was intended to be a follow-up album or B-sides. A lot of songs are pretty good and catchy, but they certainly don’t stand up against the monster album Future Sex/Love Sounds or even 20/20pt.1. I can only hopelessly wonder what could have been if only JT had been a little more careful with the master recordings for Welter Weight, the boxing album that should have been…

Final Say: Buy the Complete Experience. It’s worth it as a whole.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Round 1 progresses The Power to Believe vs Discipline

Pity is a strange thing.  I rarely feel pity in a serious situation.  In those times my sense of empathy is surely at full throttle, but never pity.  Pity is reserved for moments that are near silly or ridiculous.  I pitied John McCain as he performed his march of death into the 2008 election.  I pitied Indiana University in 2011 as they were seemingly mauled to death in a 80-7 loss over the University of Wisconsin.  Pity is reserved for situations where they should have known better, but still paraded into the lion's den for one reason or another.

So in the same way I feel pity for this next review since it really is not fair.  There are a few first round pairings that even now I am not sure how they will end and some that were painful to write because of how one-sided the pairing was.  Red v THRaKKaTaK is a choice example of a match-up that never had a chance of being remotely fair and here we go again with another one of them


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Round 1 Cont. Lark's Tongue in Aspic v Islands

As we continue on our tournament I look at the pairings and realize how this all could have played out different depending on how things were set up.  There are always losers in a tournament.  Everyone but the winner is a loser in reality. There are great albums that will fall in the first round for no other reason than it was paired against a much stronger entry.

In our next match-up we have a pretty interesting situation.  We have the death of one line-up going against the birth of the next.  Fripp dismantled King Crimson after the supporting tour for Islands.  He would then go on to form the line-up that would create the album Lark's Tongue in Aspic.  How do these line-ups fair against each other?  Did Robert make a mistake one way or the other?  Let us find out.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Round 1 Continued Red v THRaKaTTaK

When the pairings were made initially Red automatically was going into the second round based on its high ranking.  As I scoured through Crimson's back catalog I realized that there was indeed an album it could go against.  No, it was not a long lost LP, or even an EP for that matter.  Rather it is a compilation of live improvisations from the Thrak era called THRaKaTTaK.  I shrugged and threw it into the mix, not totally aware of what would happen next.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Five Musicians You Never Knew Wrote Books

Recently I took a look at some of the finest writers in rock. Artists like Leonard Cohen, Lee Ranaldo, and Nick Cave have been producing quality fiction and poetry for years and could almost be as well known for that side-career as their amazing musical output. But in researching those musician-authors, a lot of other names came to mind who maybe aren't such prolific, famous, or even, well, good writers.

Oh, I'm not saying all these are bad. But there's a reason they didn't quit their day job and there's a reason you probably haven't heard about their forays into the written word before. That being said, there's a good chance some of you out there might be interested in checking these out regardless of their quality. If you're anything like me, the very fact that these books are obscure and of possibly poor quality will make you want to hunt them down. So let's take a look, shall we?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Round 1 Continued: In The Wake of Poseidon v The ConstruKction of Light

Wow did this became strangely relevant in the past day or so.  In case you are not aware KING CRIMSON IS BACK!  3 drummers, two guitars, bass/stick, and horn.  This line-up has a lot to be excited for, and a lot to wonder about.  What kind of sound this monster will make is something I can not even fathom.  

The fun part about this activity is the process.  Most times when I read a “best of” piece it usually is in the form of a list.  Lists provide a definite ranking to the items , which I guess can be good.  On the other hand when I think of a list, it requires a definite answer to “how do these items line up?”.  That is part of the reason I went with this bracket format instead.  You will see albums that are genuinely great lose in the first round simply to the pairing.  What that does not say is where it “ranks”, but rather it defines what I feel is better between two different albums.  That is much easier to define than a straightforward list.  I would never be able to provide a list such as that, it would be impossible for me to differentiate between some of those albums.  If you see an album you like out in the first round, you can now take solace in that it is not necessarily because it is a bad album, but rather because I would rather listen to the other option.  


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ryan reviews “Wilburn Burchette Opens the Seven Gates of Trenscendental Consciousness ‘A Transcendental Ballet for the Mind of God’”

By: Ryan Burns

A few months ago, my father gave me a handful of records. Among them were various Indian chant albums, a reading of Khalil Ghibran’s “The Prophet”, and the weirdest looking album I have ever seen. The cover had a giant orange-red eye on fire spewing pink tentacles out of it in outer space. It of course was, “Wilburn Burchette Opens the Seven Gates of Transcendental Consciousness”. 
Art by artist Caren Calaway. It's art.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Round 1: Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With vs Three Of A Perfect Pair


            Is it easier or more difficult to insult something as opposed to praising it?  While that may seem like an easy question to answer I don’t believe it is such.  Criticizing something, properly anyway, requires the ability to break down why the subject is bad.  A simple “it sucks” hardly suffices in an actual debate.  Perhaps if you are screaming like a cable news troglodyte it is a different story, but here in the real world of real people you need to articulate your opinion.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Tournament for the Court of the Crimson King

So it has been a while hasn't it since a written piece.  After the power hours I decided to sit back and brew on what to write next.  I love writing longer pieces as it gives some form of direction to my craft.  As I pondered what to write about next I reflected on what had been some fun discussions with some good friends of mine.  They revolved around King Crimson, best albums, worst albums, funny moments, questionable material,  and Robert Fripp's love sprinkles.

So after some pondering I decided it was time to finally tackle the issue of what was indeed the greatest King Crimson album.  Now, I could simply just tell you that answer, but I wanted to make it a more exciting affair.  So I decided to device a fun little "tournament" so to speak.   I even made a bracket....well in MS Paint, but hey we have a bracket!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Episode 14

Click here for Episode 14!

After much wait the showdown between Jay Z and Kanye West is finally here by Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock. Which is the better buy? Who has more money? Who has the PICASSO BABY!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Episode 13: stuff and VMAs and stuff....

Click for Episode 13!

Ryan and Alex talk about some random stuff.  Albums they've listened to lately, and then berate the VMAs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Corey's August Music Round-Up

[Depending on how you want to look at it, I'm right on time or a day late with this. I don't really care either way.]

 With a great deal of regret, I must announce that this month really got away from me. I did some listening, but I hardly kept up with music this month like I typically do. It's been a crazy month and I've been working long hours and spending little time by myself. So I didn't get to do a rundown of a lot of albums this month, but there were some gems that came out. Unfortunately, most of them were albums which were already out that I was just catching up on, like the featured album above, Mariam the Believer's Blood Donation.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Riff 'N Ralk In The Lab #1

A Quick Interview with The Main Squeeze

Check out the interview here!

Alex was brought backstage to ask a few questions to a couple members of THE MAIN SQUEEZE . Find out what inane questions he could think of on the fly.

Warning: Audio is pretty loud.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chetwynd Cassette by Sheepman: The Review

Listen to Chetwynd Cassette on the bands Bandcamp page

"It's pretty different, a style that's emerging out of Montreal right now"  said Adam Gravelle, bassist and keyboard player for this two track release from Sheepman.  He had asked me earlier if I would give his bands new release a listen and I happily obliged, always eager to test my ears on something new.

To be blunt I know nothing about Sheepman, other than that they are likely from Canada if they are making Montreal style sounds.  Apparently the Canadians are doing something besides ripping off American music for once (I kid I kid....) and the result is presented to us in this two track Cassette Tape Chetwynd Cassette.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Episode 12:

Click here for the episode!

Well after a month Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock is back with 3 new reviews.  Ryan and Alex invited Corey back to tackle a few of summer's hits.  We also get wildly tangential discussing Guns n Roses, Dio, Genesis, and Portishead.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Adrian Belew Power Hour #4 (Finale) Discipline

So we come to the end of our little journey, and in a lot of ways the end of Adrian's journey as well.  Amidst the imploding Talking Heads and souring of the Tom Tom Club sessions, Adrian was looking to do something that did not involve sitting in the middle of four New York art snobs bickering.  Fortunately for him, a better offer did come along.  The ever emotionally charged, yet musically gifted Robert Fripp offered Adrian to join his new band Discipline.  Adrian saw the sinking ship behind him and decided it would be a wise move to make.  Adrian would be joined by session heavy weight and the one of...maybe four people who could play a Chapman Stick Tony Levin, and former King Crimson and Yes drummer Bill Bruford to form what was called a "Rock Gamelon" group.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Corey's July Music Round-Up

[Hey everyone, it's Corey. In what I think will be a great move for everyone, Alex and I have agreed to start hosting my monthly music round-ups here at Riff 'N Ralk Music Tock. You may be familiar with these from my Tumblr blog, and you can check out June's round-up here. Moving forward these will be hosted exclusively on Riff 'N Ralk. Though it is unnecessary to catch up on earlier months unless you want to see what I did and didn't enjoy in the first six months of this year, my ratings do bear some explanation. These will be explained in the key below. These, of course, are just my opinions, and I am wont to change my mind often even after submitting a rating for an album in a given month, so don't take this too seriously. This is mostly to spark discussion and debate, and to showcase highly rated albums you may not have heard of before.]

Wow. What a busy month. It really felt like this one would never end and I listened to a seemingly infinite amount of great singles and new albums of every stripe. July featured two albums which you may have already seen reviews for in my Best of 2013 so far round-up. If not, go check it out here. You also may have already seen my reviews for albums by The Tomas Doncker Band, Marla Mase, and Monks of Mellownah. This has definitely been an exciting summer for music fans, and judging by my list of upcoming albums, it only has more in store for us. Without boring you further though, here's the ratings!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Corey Deiterman's Best Albums of 2013 So Far

We're a little over halfway through the year (okay, more than halfway; when I started this it was the beginning of July) and so far 2013 is shaping up nicely. It's looking like it will be remembered as the year old bands made comeback records, which is fine by me because I've seen some of my favorite bands make their return in a fashion that didn't even embarrass their legacy!

We've also got a lot to look forward to, so this is hardly a definitive list. With so many albums yet to drop, it would be foolish to try to decide on the best of the year yet, so this is only the best so far. Which ones will make my end of the year list? I guess that remains to be seen. But up til now, these are the best candidates to make it.

And note that this is in no particular order. They're all great albums in very disparate genres; why try to compare them against each other? Music isn't a competition.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: Marla Mase – Speak Deluxe

Marla Mase is a New York City based activist, artist, and musician whose new album Speak Deluxe is a mass conceptual piece which features a live show with dances inspired by the songs and a whole lot of poetry. Amazingly enough, it isn't absolutely pretentious or repulsive. Mase deftly skirts the typical pitfalls artists with such high ambitions fall into and, with the help of guitarist Tomas Doncker, turns in an upbeat pop, funk, and rock infused album that is actually fun, despite its lofty conceptual bias.

You may remember Doncker from my review of his band's Howlin' Wolf covers EP. He's back again playing guitar and co-writing this record with Mase, which may be what lends its weighty expectations with the necessary amount of pop whimsy to keep it entertaining.

Not that Mase doesn't try to stray into big idea artist territory. “Lioness” is marred by poetry delivered in a tone that makes it sound like Mase thinks what she's saying is a much more clever metaphor than it really is. She does the same again on “New Cell Phone.”
Photo by Juan Carlos Hernandez

But where the album really excels is when the band plays a beat or a groove so funky or so catchy that Mase can't help but get into it. Check out when she lets loose with an actual, honest-to-God sensual falsetto performance over the rollicking bass and guitar workout on “She Hooked Him Up,” or her angry Alanis Morissette impression on the admittedly very Morissette like pop rock of “Queen of Imperfection."

Of course, sometimes the pop aspirations don't exactly work out. While Mase is a fine poet, she might not have been meant to write pop hooks, as the chorus to “Piece of Peace” is exactly as annoying as the title would have you guess. “AnnaRexia” is also a pretty poor pun, and the reggae imitation on it completely falls flat.

That pastiche is somewhat indicative of the record in general. Mase, and by extension Doncker, both clearly have a love of a lot of genres, so they run through experiment after experiment through the record. For instance, “Blog” is a slow, simmering ballad with a soaring, shredding guitar solo from Doncker that will truly blow you away. Immediately following it is “Dance the Tango,” which verges on the kind of country-western pastiche that Morrissey is fond of recording. It's a jarring transition, but it is nice to see Mase unafraid to do whatever she wants to. It's that kind of artistic freedom that Speak lives and dies by.

Photo by Juan Carlos Hernandez
Ultimately, Mase's willingness to be completely indulgent and unabashedly free with her art is impressive and it carries the recording through its many twists and turns with amazing agility. However, Mase's restlessness is also at fault for the records many flaws, allowing for weak author interest tracks to make the cut, like the aforementioned “AnnaRexia” and its subsequent remix by Bill Laswell which ends the record with a turgid six minute running time.
Maybe Mase would benefit from an editor, or at least she might better satisfy her pop aspirations with one. However, her music would be by leagues less interesting, so maybe it's better that we take the good with the bad. Either way, Speak succeeds in satisfying all of its creator's goals and makes for a definitively enjoyable, if uneven, record.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Episode 11: An Interview with Rainbow Records owner John Thominet

Ever wondered what kind of person opens a record store?  Look no further!  We were so happy to get this opportunity. John is a hilarious guy who has a serious passion for records and music.

Click here for the link!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Monks of Mellownah – Ghost Stories EP

Monks of Mellownah's new EP, Ghost Stories, is the first part in a three part trilogy which will form the foundation of their first full-length record, Turn the People. It's a novel way to release an album, but it leaves one feeling unsatisfied at the end of the three songs since they weren't written to stand by themselves. Regardless, as a preview EP, it at least shows some strong potential for growth.

Ghost Stories gets off the ground with some nice John Frusciante influenced lead work from guitarist Joe de la Hoyde, but then moves into a fairly bland verse/chorus combo that suffers from the sort of generic catchiness that plagued the last few Red Hot Chili Peppers. To be sure, de la Hoyde provides some nice riffs, but they're too languid to satisfy even when the drums pick up the pace in the chorus.
Where the song shines is at the end, when de la Hoyde lets loose and and the band starts to jam out a wah-wah lead riff and a solo that carries them into the outro, but this burst of energy at the end is wasted because it's merely an outro, and not one worth listening to the rest of the song to get to.

A lot of this has to do with production. The songs are compressed far too much and have few dynamics. This is modern rock production 101 and it just sucks the life out of everything the Monks bring to the table. Where the riffs are supposed to be getting harder in the song, and you can even imagine the band really showing off and rocking out during these parts, they sound no louder or harder edged than the soft intro. They don't grab you because they have no dynamic range.

Photo by Billy Pasco
I do enjoy the Arctic Monkeys influenced riff that carries the second track, “Vanity,” but I must admit to being somewhat turned off by some of singer Vikram Kaushik's Anthony Kiedis-isms. In case you haven't noticed, this is a very Red Hot Chili Peppers influenced band, and Kaushik's enunciation evokes Kiedis at every turn throughout “Vanity” in particular. It's fine, but I've personally never dug Kiedis' voice. Your mileage may vary on that.
Still, “Vanity” is a good rock song, but the greatest moment of the EP comes toward the end of the last track, “Sailing Stones.” Whereas the song itself is mostly built on a fairly generic '90s rock template straight off the good old alternative radio, de la Hoyde comes out of nowhere toward the end of the song with a brilliant seemingly Middle Eastern inspired solo that reminds one of something Marty Friedman might have played in Megadeth's glory days. There's strings backing him up and it's completely ridiculously grandiose, but it works so well that it makes the whole song.

What that tells me is that there's some serious talent going into this thing, but these guys are also of a mind to reach an audience. They're all very capable, and they all showcase tremendous potential, but they wear their influences on their sleeves in trying to build the perfect beast. Ultimately, despite the good moments, the short Ghost Stories leaves me cold because I want more than this out of Monks of Mellownah. I know they can give it to me, but I'm not hearing it. Yet. Again, this EP is part of a three part cycle, so perhaps the rest of the Turn the People suite will really turn me. But for now, I need more proof, because I'm unconvinced by part one.

Review: The Tomas Doncker Band - Howlin' Wolf EP

Tomas Doncker stared his career in New York City in the midst of the no wave movement, playing guitar for bands like James Chance and the Contortions. No wave was all about deconstructing music; it was punk rock to the absolute logical extreme. Lydia Lunch, a prominent player in the scene, has admitted to never learning a single chord on guitar, yet she played guitar for her early band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. She was also quick to point out they had nothing in common with punk. After all, punk still used chords and progressions, and no wave was a rejection of that.

So it's fascinating to me that here we are some thirty years in the future and Tomas Doncker not only ended up becoming a well regarded session player (still in the realm of experimental though: one prominent person he played sideman to was Yoko Ono) but is now applying his skills to a covers EP with his new self-titled band of Howlin' Wolf classics.

But it does make sense in its own way. If no wave was the most primal deconstruction of rock music, then the next step is the first foundation; the primordial ooze so to speak. Is that not the blues? This is just the next logical step in evolution for Doncker, albeit thirty years after he had moved to different styles (he describes the one he primarily plays now as “global soul”).

Photo by Phillip Jarrell
The real surprise then, though it shouldn't be if you noticed his contributions to studio sessions all these years since he gave up deconstruction, is the technical prowess and verve with which Doncker and his band approach the Howlin' Wolf songs on their new EP.
The production is bold and lush, and maybe you can attribute that to the time Doncker has spent in the studio with famous names. He clearly knows how to make a record sound good. It's even full of dynamics, a rarity in our extremely over-compressed world. It is not raw though, that's for sure. Rawness was not the goal. This isn't a punk take on the blues; it's a pro take on the blues.

For better or worse, Doncker's become a pro through the years. That means the playing on this EP is superb and they run through the songs with all the dirt and grit of a seasoned bar band. You see yourself sitting in a night club, hearing this live under blue lights while you're sipping on a stiff drink.

It lacks the rawness I often appreciate in my blues, though. It's not wild or chaotic. It is executed with precision, like it or not. That works for what they're doing though, especially on album highlight “Shook Down,” where Doncker and his band take a restrained, sensual approach to the song, bringing it low until the very calculated moment when they explode into a blaze of sexually charged blues rock.

It all works extremely well, but at the same time, you get the impression this is even more energetic and highly charged live. You feel like you're there, but you're not, and you want to be. One can only imagine hearing them run through these songs in the moment. To be sure, they're probably more spontaneous and fueled.

If you can't see them live though, the Tomas Doncker Band has provided an excellent documentation of their sound to give you the next best thing. There's nothing like the real thing, but it's damn close.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Adrian Belew Power Hour #3 Remain in Light

Like a good hit of a drug, Adrian Belew continued to be passed around throughout the late 70s.  After his stint with Zappa, he toured with Bowie.  Adrian retreated to Springfield Illinois to start a new band GaGa after his time with Bowie was over.  GaGa was offered to open for Robert Fripp's then group The League of Gentlemen.  Somewhere in that hubbub Adrian was offered the chance by Brian Eno to record some solos for what was then Talking Head's soon to be newest album Remain in Light.  After the sessions, Adrian was added to the expanded touring line-up and played along with the band.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy 10th Anniversary to De-Loused in the Comatorium

10 years is a long time.  As people we change considerably.  We grow and change with the times.  Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.  The value of those changes is when we can look back and see how much we have changed over the course of time.  It is nice to see how we got from where we started to where we are now.  Sometimes its a critical event that forever changes and shapes our landscape.  Sometimes it can be far less.  

For me, Riff 'N Ralk Music Tock would not have even been a glimmer in my eye if it had not been for De-Loused in the Comatorium  An album that shook my foundation of musical appreciation to its base and helped start the construction of a new interest in sound.  This is a journey I'd like to share with you.  It really is not about De-Loused itself, as you can read about in so many other places, but rather the impact it had on my musical taste and how it proved to be a launching pad for my appreciation of all kinds of sounds. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Episode 10

Click Here for the unedited Episode 10!

Episode 10 is up! I am hoping our unedited version will be around soon. Until then, enjoy this youtube version.

Ryan and Alex take on Macklemore x Ryan Lewis - The Heist LPVampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City and Daft Punk'sRandom Access Memories

DJ Feature #1: DJ Wily

A little bit ago we made a call-out to any DJes, mixers, producers, and all around cool people to provide us with some mixes we can showcase to you our listeners and readers.  I am happy to say that we have our first mix.  Although not made for us, DJ WILY was kind enough to give us a mix to showcase to all of you.  The mix is called Tribute Man and features songs from artists that really inspire him and move him.  For the next 67 minutes allow yourself to be swaddled by the sounds of M83, The Postal Service, and Imagine Dragons as DJ WILY takes you through his

DJ WILY is a mainstay at Bikini Bottom and Grill in West Dundee most Friday nights where he plays a mix of the newest tracks, and whatever fun stuff he stumbles along.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Adrian Belew Power Hour #2 Lodger

In order to keep up with the ever-growing field of published music, Riff N' Ralk, Music Tock has expanded to the printed word to review music. Want Alex, Ryan, or Corey to write a lengthy, well-thought-out essay about your favorite albums? Leave a comment below, or write on our Facebook wall and we will give it a fair shot!

By: Alex Gomory

Adrian only toured with Frank for one year.  During his time, Frank caught some band members using drugs (a big no-no in Frank's bands) and it was expected he would be cleaning house, which he ended up doing for the most part.  Adrian, concerned about what the future may hold for him in Frank's line-up was already open to new opportunities.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Our HUGE Summertime Playlist (with flair!)

In chronological order, here is Alex and Ryan's Summertime Jam Playlist! Have yourselves a minimally hot and sticky summer. But make sure that it is maximally fun!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Episode 8 Bonus:

So here at Riff 'N Ralk Music Tock there is a lot of material that gets cut from episodes, often because it's just a bit too vulgar, stupid, or immature for our demanding standards.  Once in a while, however, something too brilliant comes together and we must recognize its pure brilliance.  Here was an excerpt from Episode 8 that showcases that we are indeed human.
Click for extra content!
Don't worry, Alex has his coming next episode....

Episode 8

Click here for Episode 8.  Right click and "Save Link As" to download the mp3!

Riff 'N Ralk Music Tock is back! Ryan and Alex take on The Dismemberment Plan's The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified and the new album from The Jimi Hendrix Experience Official Page's People, Hell, and Angels.

Here is  link to the youtube video.  For some reason at the moment it won't let me imbed the video