Saturday, May 24, 2014

Welcome to our new home

Thanks for your support.  Continue to read our posts (and enjoy the back catalog) here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Songs That Must Be Played LOUD

Some songs work no matter how you listen to them: soft, loud, through a broken speaker system, or even being butchered by a bad karaoke singer.  Some, however, only work in one context, either through the rawness of a live performance, the careful arrangement of a studio recording, or as we will explore today, through maximum ear splitting volume.
This is by no means a top 10, but rather ten anthems to the joys of obliterating our eardrums.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed


The debut album from supergroup Killed Be Killed has finally landed, 3 years passed since the first news of a supergroup featuring The Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato and Soulfly's Max Cavalera created a little snowball of hype that has grown and grown after the incorporation of Mastodon's Troy Sanders and Dave Elitch (currently drumming for ANTEMASQUE).

Considering the background of each of it's members it was easy to predict the result was going to be heavy, but what they were going to sound like remained a mistery for almost 3 years. So now that the album is out (and assuming you haven't heard the first "singles") you must be wondering... was it worth the wait?.

The album kicks off at full strenght with the first two singles, "Wings of Feather and Wax" and "Face Down", the first featuring Max, Greg and Troy sharing vocal duties between different parts of the verses and bridge, while singing the choruses together. The next two songs are slightly reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan, just much more radio friendly. After track 5 the album is mostly traditional, radio friendly trash metal, much closer to a simplified version of Soulfly than DEP or Mastodon, in fact if it wasn't for Troy's vocals there wouldn't be anything on "Killer Be Killed" that sounded like Mastodon's spacey prog rock.

Most of the guitar work is comprised of very traditional rhythm guitar riffs with heavy distortion, there's rarely a solo or a memorable guitar lead, and the same goes for the drums. I've been following Dave's work since he joined The Mars Volta in late 2009 but while he's certainly very skilled I have yet to see him play a memorable drum beat or fill, and this kind of music doesn't really demands for creativity.

How much you can enjoy this record will most probably be determined by which main project brought you here, I can't really say I'm a big fan of Cavalera's previous work (or trash metal in general), and was probably expecting something more adventurous or groundbreaking, so the best thing to do is just take it for what it is, enjoy the catchy hooks and varied vocal performances, and avoid thinking about what this could have been.

Ranking: decent
For fans of: thrash metal, hardcore
Accessibility: radio friendly
Highlights: "Wings Of Feather And Wax", “Snakes of Jehova”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ryan takes you back to the year... 2013!

The year is almost over, and so many artists have released records that most of you won’t listen to. Last year was the same. In fact, there were so many records that you may have missed some. So Ryan has taken it upon himself to review all of them in this five part series! Accompanying each album are a few choice tracks that really stand out, listen to them. Make sure you like and share us on the internet or else we won’t return the favor.

Welcome to the Past!

Part One:
The 1975: The 1975- European pop-punk band tries to express themselves with this lackluster album. Akin to a British Panic! At the Disco, The 1975 tries to be upbeat and make songs about fooling around with girls they like. It is nothing you haven’t already heard. So you can just politely ignore this one.
Good songs- “Chocolate

Adam Ant: Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter- The master of Neo-Romanticism is back with the goofiest named album in decades! Aside from the moniker, Adam Ant ‘s style of storytelling is wacky and engaging. The mix of Glam and Alternative rock is amicable, but does not make it a total success. (And for some reason the vocal mixing is terrible)

Gary Allen: Set You Free- An un-obnoxious country album. This very accessible album is pleasantly devoid of pointless tropes that plague contemporary country. Contains some heartbreaking songs about addiction and other afflictions. Thankfully there is only one mention of a dog; no mentions of a truck. Check this one out.
Good Songs- “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” “Bones

Antiphon: Midlake- Spacey rock. Nothing I haven’t heard before. Very laid back sound. Not exerting too much effort. Letting the instruments play themselves, more or less. Seems like the band was over their own sound while they were recording, not worth it.
Good songs- “The Old and the Young

A$AP Rocky: Long. Live. A$AP- There is nothing special about this album. Once again another lowest common denominator rap record about hanging out, having sex, making money and being better than other people. We have all heard this before. You can pass on this.
Good Songs- “1 Train” “Phoenix

John Batiste: Social Music- Exciting Jazz album from a group of talented musicians. True highlight is the songs that flirt with gospel like Mingus used to. Some fairly creative takes on standards like “St. James Infirmary”. Definitely worth a listen.
Good Songs- “Let God Lead”, “San Spirito

Sarah Brightman: Dreamchaser- Made for your local Dentist’s office. Easy listening at its easiest. With such covers as Wings’s “Venus and Mars” and Sigur Ros’s “Glosoli” you are sure to find at least one song you will mildly tolerate then swiftly begin to hate! You are better off just listening to the originals.
Good Songs- “Breathe Me” “A Song of India

Bullet for My Valentine: Temper Temper- This metal album does little to extend the reach of the genre. It is a very straight forward effort, and the band clearly plays it safe by reusing the same chord progressions from they’re last album. Merely opting to slightly change the subject of the lyrics, emphasis on slightly. There are much better metal albums out this year.
Good Songs- “Truth Hurts

Nick Cave: Push the Sky Away- Singer-songwriter Nick Cave took his time with these nine focused, brooding ballads. Ever the storyteller, Cave makes sure you get no pleasure from the tales he weaves. This a fairly major departure from his more recent, melody centric albums. It is slow, methodical, and you will take no pleasure in it. Which is the point, I guess.
Good Songs- “Mermaids

CHVRCHES- The Bones of What You Believe- Scottish synth-pop group has their sights set high, and their sound set low…fi. Reminiscent of other European effect heavy bands like M83 and ABBA. Their sound has many, many low tones and flirts with shoegazing. Good listen for those who enjoy pop or synth-pop. The single, “Lungs” is a nice diversion from other pop bullshit on the market now.
Good songs- “Gun

The Civil Wars: The Civil Wars- This group brings a very refreshing take on the country genre. The harmonies entwine throughout each song. Both singer/songwriters know how to make truly gripping songs. It stinks that they split up. A must.
Good Songs- “I Had Me a Girl” “Devil’s Backbone” “Disarm

Deltron 3030: Event 2- The second album from hip hop heroes Del “The Funky Homosapien” and Dan “The Automator”. This albums packs in a wide spanning scope of sounds and imaginative, spacey lyrics sure to please any listener. This concept album about a guy going on a space trip is well worth the money. For some reason, tons of celebrities lend their voices to this project as well. Talents such as David Cross, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Lonely Island and Joseph Gordon-Levitt help make this album unforgettable.
Good Songs- “The Return” “What is this Loneliness

Drake: Nothing Was The Same- There is nothing worse than this album.

Dropkick Murphy’s: Signed & Sealed in Blood- Legendary Celt-Punk band’s newest work is pretty much made for people who like to get drunk and yell. Perfect for any occasion! Each song is as engaging, and predictable enough, for even passers-by to join in on the merriment/sorrow. So play these songs and yell at those you love and hate.

Everything Everything: Arc- Surprisingly creative and deep. A true work of art! This British indie band is like what Panic! At the Disco could have been if they didn’t suck but weren’t as emo as Fall Out Boy. If you are looking for a unique and sometimes complex band, start here.
Good Songs- “Cough Cough” “Choice Mountain” “Undrowned

Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic- This group sounds like a mid-sixties psychedelic band going full swing on some heinous shrooms. It’s all about sending good vibes and love and grooves and impeaching Nixon. Foxygen also isn’t too shy about flaunting their deep blues roots either. This album is a pretty worthwhile listen.
Good Songs- “On Blue Mountain” “Shuggie

Josh Groban: All That Echoes- This guy can sing! It’s like the Phantom from that Opera play got twelve songs all to himself. Each song kind of has the same tone of being sad or amorous, which kind of gets boring. This album is best as a sprinkle amidst your playlist.
Good Songs- “Falling Slowly” “I Believe

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up!- Good God this album sure has got the blues. The first two songs are somewhat lacking, but once they get rolling, they hardly let up. One of the standout moments of the album is on the song “Blood Side Out”. This heavy, heavy song gives both musicians a chance to pair up and really show how bad they have the blues. This album has some really good parts and some pretty mediocre parts. Listen to the songs below.

Icona Pop: This is…Icon Pop- Super-synthy-lowest-common-denominator-dubstep-infused dance music that is surely to become your guilty pleasure of the year. Today’s equivalent of 80’s music, in as positive a way as possible.
Good songs- “All Night”, “Light Me Up

The Joy Formidable: Wolf’s Law- This Indie-Metal band’s newest release has some pretty catchy songs. Their high energy riffs are perfect for working out. They are the kinds of songs that energize you to win a video game, or bungie-jump. Check out the “Maw Maw Song”.
Good Songs- “Forest Serenade” “Little Blimp

Juicy J: Stay Trippy- A prime example of how truly awful music can get. Filled with bafflingly unimaginative lyrics that may or may not be just what J was doing (or would rather be doing) at the moment. If you want to get high and party, this is for you.
Good Songs- “Wax

k-os: Black on Blonde- International superstar k-os gets deep on this synth-heavy album. He gives plenty of time to state his influences and inspirations (God). Melding singing with rap verses, this work has plenty for any Hip-Hop fan. I would put this album squarely in the conscious rap genre in the vein of Arrested Development and Anthony Hamilton.
Good Songs- “Nobody Else” “Try Again

Talib Kweli: Prisoner of Conscious- Hip Hop extraordinaire returns with another solid offering. Kweli once again proves he can manipulate his unique brand of storytelling over any beat. A really fun album with great guest acts.
Good songs- “Favela Love” “High Life

LL Cool J: Authentic- I do not know why this album was made. It starts with a song about getting high on bath salts (“Bath Salt”), and continues in that vein for the remainder of the album. Each of these songs are superseded by the next in how embarrassing they must be for LL Cool J. “We Came to Party. Hey look I got my hands up on your body.” Enough said.
Good Songs- “We Came to Party” “Bartender Please

John Legend: Love in the Future- Smooth and soulful! Wonderfully produced album filled with some pretty good covers. If you are in the mood to make babies, throw this bad boy on!
Good Songs- “All of Me” “Open Your Eyes

Lowrider: Black Stones- There is plenty to like from this melancholic indie album. The band borrows from different areas, mostly soul and blues, to make a really engaging album. Lowrider excels at sounding like a wide variety of different bands but are wholly themselves. Easily in my top twenty of the year.
Good Songs- “Golden Sun” “This City” “Go Get Gone

M.I.A.: Matangi- This album is frightening. Kind of like a collection of songs a crazy ex made for you while tripping on ecstasy. The beats are sporadic and effect heavy, borrowing heavily from dubstep and other subgenres MIA helped inspire. MIA’s lyrics are mostly about vengeance and love, and in different vocoder settings, further making this album a trip. A little too inaccessible for me, but still classic MIA!
Good Songs- “Warriors” “Double Bubble Trouble” “Exodus

Major Lazer: Free The Universe- This album is perfect for stoners. Multi-elemental melodies that are made for wonderers and mind expanders of all sorts. The duo of Diplo and Jillionaire combine reggae and dancehall music to create a pretty great album. Also good for the clubs! Not really good for quiet spaces, though.
Good Songs- “Get Free

Paul McCartney: New- Very fun album from a well-known musician. It is no mistake that so many bands list the Beatles as their main influence. McCartney harnesses a keen ability for song writing that is quite unique. One of the best songs on the album, “On My Way to Work”, is about riding a bus and masturbating. McCartney’s other non-solo projects are a little more profound and legendary, but this album is still a delight.
Good Songs- “Early Days” “Everybody Out There

Tim McGraw: Two Lanes of Freedom- This album borrows from the worst aspects of country music: Beer, Girls in cut-offs, and Trucks. Mr. McGraw then takes these elements and makes it worse by trying to make it relatable to today’s youth. Sentimental songs of youth, long nights of partying, and of course Lil’ Wayne. Please, don’t listen to this.
Hilarious Songs- “Two Lanes of Freedom” “Truck Yeah

Moby: Innocents- Very mellow and engaging album from the master of ambient electronica. Blending many different elements into a smooth, buttery concoction that will have you hooked. Also available in chunky!
Good Songs- “Everything That Rises” “The Perfect Life” “The Last Day

Janelle Monae: The Electric Lady- Funky soul rap installment from one of the most underappreciated performers to date. Janelle Monae adds a level of flavor that is sadly missing ever since Outkast’s last album. The compositions in this album are as bad as they want to be. Never a dull moment on this genre-blending adventure!

The Polyphonic Spree: Yes, It’s True- The famously huge group plays it very safe with this vanilla effort. It sounds more like a Passion Pit B-side than their earlier albums, which may be giving it too high of praise. The album is syrupy and fails to capture one sense of wonder despite the non-stop efforts. Not made for everyone.
Good Songs- “Let Them Be

Robert Glasper Experiment: Black Radio 2- The Experimental Jazz group is at it once again, this time bringing with them a dozen or so Hip-Hop and R&B stars. This album flawlessly weaves a multitude of jazz influences into a thick and smooth sound that anyone will fall in love with. The addition of such artists as Jill Scott, Brandy, Anthony Hamilton and Snoopzilla to these songs are sure to excite the listener. The final song of the album, Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day” quaintly ties up what is one of the best albums of the year.
Good Songs- “I Stand Alone” “Calls” “I Don’t Even Care

Rudimental: Home- The first album from U.K. electronic duo mixes soul, dancehall, house and a passable amount of dubstep. These songs will draw you in and put you in an unescapable groove. I am surprised these songs aren’t as popular as they should be.

Good Songs- “Feel the Love” “Powerless” “Not Giving In


Silverstein: This is How the Wind Shifts- Emo band follows the blueprints of mediocre suburban punk music to a fault. There is nothing new in this album that hasn’t already been done at least a dozen times. There are plenty of other good (read: listenable) albums that have come out this year. Ironically, the best songs are in the form of short vignettes.
Good Songs- “Arrivals” “The Wind Shifts

Scott Stapp: Proof of Life- Very predictable solo album from former Creed frontman. Each song has riffs taken directly from previous Creed endeavors, leaving only an embarrassing grasp at relevancy. Absolutely nothing surprising about this album to the point where it seems lazy. Not good at all, but better than Nickleback.
Key tracks: “Hunghaga!” “Randassa Fromand Ah

Starfucker: Miracle Mile- If you like weird music that doesn’t go anywhere fast, you will love this album. Reminds me of MGMT and Animal Collective; both bands came out with albums this year, by the way. I saw this band live and they were pretty good. The studio recordings don’t do the band justice.
Good Songs- “Atlantis

Tegan & Sara: Heartthrob- The Queens of Indie stay true to form on this outing. Mixing their unique voices with energetic samples and nonstop drums. A great choice for most occasions. Make sure you aren’t doing any dangerous tasks because you may get fatally distracted.

Yo La Tengo: Fade- Indie giants Yo La Tengo continue their long trend of making mellow albums and living in their parent’s basement. Always eating all the food and refusing to do their chores (ie: mowing the lawn). I swear, if they don’t do something productive before putting out another half-baked album, I am going to lose it.
Good songs- “Paddle Forward” “Before We Run

Monday, May 5, 2014

Episode 21

It's a brand new day. And time for a brand new episode!
This time round Alex, Ryan and a very special guest review:

Taking Back Sunday: Happiness Is...
Skrillex: Recess

So get something to eat and join us for this episode of.....

Website| Facebook| Twitter

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us


California based prog metal band Cynic is back with their third album in 21 years, yes, it's been 21 years since Cynic released "Focus" back in 1993. While Nirvana was in the spotlight and Metallica was still touring their most commercially succesful album (don't get the idea that I like Metallica), Cynic released the influential debut which originally received mixed-to-bad reviews from the metal scene. Cynic cited the backlash as one of the reasons for their break up in 1994, but when they returned from their sleep more than a decade later, metal had gone a long way since 1993 and "Focus" had become a cult classic, inspiring bands like Scale The Summit and Between The Buried And Me.

Fifteen years after the release of "Focus" came "Traced In Air", which was a direct continuation of the sound of their debut album (only a little softer), and was generally well received by fans of "Focus" and progressive metal in general. A series of experiments with the softer and more melodic side of the band came later ("Re-Traced", a reimagining of "Traced in Air", and an EP titled "Carbon Based Anatomy), which bring us to the release we are looking at today.

"Kindly Bent To Free Us" is the culmination of around 5 years of experimentation, and though it retains the sound and textures of their previous work it also makes away with the heavier guitar work and harsh vocals of "Focus" and "Traced in Air". The music remains moderately complex, the drums are groovy and constant and there's still guitar solos here and there, but Cynic no longer sounds like a metal band. With a runtime of just over 40 minutes the album feels a little short for a 6 years wait and it's 8 songs are over too soon even with a 5 minute average lenght.

The lyrics are someplace between spiritual (there's a little excerpt of a speech by Alan Watts) and just cryptic, but with a little imagination you can make something out of them (except the lyrics in "True Hallucination Speak", which sound just like that). The vocals retain the robotic and cold style of their previous albums, if a bit more melodic, but the main strength of the "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is the instrumental section.

Guitars, bass and drums never outshine each other, not even during solos, so the music feels generally complete and engaging, like some kind of futuristic version of a rock band from the 70's. The zeppelinesque riffs (yes, that's apparently a commonly used term), the sweet fretless bass and a  good use of ghost notes give the songs a pleasant sense of speed and groove, and while the music is generally a little cold the album certainly climaxes with the song "Moon Heart Sun Head", a 5 and a half minutes little progressive piece.

Cynic may not have reinvented themselves, they rather disposed of half of the elements that composed their early sound, but the end result doesn't feel limited, if anything it leaves them a lot of ground to explore.

Ranking: recommended
For fans of:  modern prog rock, post rock
Accessibility: moderate
Highlights: "Moon Heart Sun Head", "The Lion's Roar"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[Review] Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion

Animals As Leaders are back with another intricately designed musical journey through progressive metal, jazz and beyond. The third album by the trio takes a different direction than the last two releases and it's their most refined album so far. Their debut (or to be precise, Tosin Abasi's debut, since the trio only came to be before the second release) was basically a demostration of Tosin's skills on 8-string guitar, the compositions were spacey and contained more riffs and solos than one can memorize. 

The second album, "Weightless", showed an emphasis on shredding within more "classic" verse-chorus composition, while still mantaining a heavy progressive element. Many fans of the debut album thought it was a disappointment but in my case it was my introduction to AAL and personally I enjoyed it much more than the self-titled.

Now, 3 years after the release of "Weightless" lands the third album and second trio release, "The Joy Of Motion". One thing instantly caught my attention when I first listened to it, the album features much less soloing in favor of creating sonic landscapes and a constant sense of groove; the combination of clean tones and heavily processed guitars (and often electronica) is great and the songs shift constantly through both.
This time around the album was produced by Misha Mansoor and Nolly Getgood (both from Periphery) and their influence is pretty obvious in the djent infused "Tooth And Claw" and closer "Nephele", but it doesn't stop the album from being pretty colorful and varied, from the jazzy "Another Year" to the synchopated slap guitar and bass of "Physical Education", one of my favourite tracks on the album.

"The Joy Of Motion" has one of the things I like to come across the most when a listen to an album, a collection of songs that are varied, keep you interested and at the same time feel like a coherent entity, something very few bands manage. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Listen to the title track off Jack White's upcoming album

The second single off Jack White's upcoming album "Lazaretto" has been released, and as expected it includes a screechy guitar solo. You can stream the track via Youtube below and preorder the album here.

1. Three Women
2. Lazaretto
3. Temporary Ground
4. Would You Fight For My Love?
5. High Ball Stepper
6. Just One Drink
7. Alone In My Home
8. Entitlement
9. That Black Bat Licorice 
10. I Think I Found The Culprit
11. Want And Able

A quick update

Good morning,

It seems that I have been rather quiet here as of late, and I wanted to take a quick minute to address the whys, hows, and huhs about it.

Actually there is nothing that exciting to say on the subject, but transparency does have its perks.  Primarily that there is a tendency to actually believe what I have to say.  I am sure there is a witty comment about the government in there, but frankly it is too early in the morning to find it.  I am sure you can think of it yourself, and when you do let me know so I can steal it.  At least I'm being transparent!

Basically there are two large factors at play here.  First of all is the website which instead of writing I have been busily working on.  I'd say we are at about 75% now and slowly progressing.  I'm hoping around May it will be ready for an 'official' launch.  We are discussing the best method of going about that, and what we want to do to celebrate the occasion, but nothing official is set in stone.  Suffice to say that if you live in the Chicagoland area there should be some festivities to be had in the not too distant future.  We will make sure to make a big brouhaha about it when we do make a decision.  Just so you know, spell check told me to spell brouhaha that way.

The website has been a much larger task to take on than I had imagined, but it has been a really powerful process for me.  Just the ability to see this thing begin to take shape and come to life has been really an awe-inspiring experience.  It started off as a jumbled mess and is now a jumbled mess that somewhat resembles a website.  I can't wait to share it and show you what we have been working on for the past few months.  I think you will really like it.  There are a few things I am working on that may not be quite finished by the time we launch, but the bulk should be good to go.  The biggest hurdle has been transferring everything over and making all look clean and uniform.  Thanks to some help from my 'tech support' the process has been getting progressively streamlined as it has happened meaning the work is getting faster and faster as it happens.  That is pretty great, and it means each step is less daunting than the last.

Naturally this leads to the question of why this has been taking so long.  Easy, and this goes into the second issue of why I am not writing much (for fun) lately.  Mainly it is because school this semester has been a monster and the time I can commit is relatively small to writing.  This has also, in turn, stunted work on the website which has been my primary focus.  Even as I write this I am cringing at what obligations I am ignoring.  This is all compounded on the fact that this venture into building a website is all new to me, and therefore when a problem arises I can not solve it immediately, it is a slower process than I'd like it to be.

What all of this means is that writing has stalled a bit on my end, and that is a disappointment.  I have a few ideas bubbling for when I have time to commit to writing again, and I hope the summer will be filled with endless journalistic nonsense for you to sink your teeth in.

With all of that said I do have to politely plea (again) that you take the time to share our page once it is up, does not matter what social network you use, but help us out.  The more eyes on us, the more it motivates us to grow and do bigger and better things (Like the fabled Riff 'N Ralk G-string).  I think it is safe to say we will likely never be as powerful a machine as say Rolling Stone, but if we can carve out our own niche than I think we have done a good job.

Before I vanish again into the series of tubes that is the soon to be .com I wanted to take a quick minute (because I also want to procrastinate just a bit longer) and also introduce a few additions to our team.

First is Nathan, who created the colorfully bizarre Fookcast early in the month.  He has been doing the show for a while and his show has now found a home here.  It is still very much 'his show', but we are so glad to have him use us as his base of operations.  I think its a great symbiotic relationship.

Then, and I don't think I ever introduced him, we have Kenny who since late December has been doing the weekly Saturday Night Hype Masters mixtapes.  Kenny used to (still kind of does) run s'Tracks on the Daily' and this is sort of a spiritual successor to that.  We will be building a log of all of them for the site as well so make sure to keep looking.

Finally we have Dante, who is from Argentina (we have gone global!).  Dante created El Espectro de Color some time ago and because I'm a horrible human being I offered to take him from his child and join our growing and ballooning Riff 'N Ralk monster.  Dante still runs El Spectro and contributes to us as well.  He will be providing album reviews and news commentary, an area we had not really delved into just yet so I'm glad to be able to check that box.

I hope to have a clear 'launch date' soon.  Keep looking and thanks for waiting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Antemasque Announce Debut Album Details

Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodriguez Lopez have announced the release date of their new project's debut album featuring Dave Elitch on drums and Flea on bass (it has not been confirmed whether or not Flea will be featured on all the songs on the LP). 
After several song reveals and bits of info falling into place, Antemasque have announce that their debut album will arrive on July 15th and July 1st for those who bought the initial three singles from the same service (Bandcamp or iTunes). Additionally, the first 10.000 people who pre-order the album starting midnight April 16th will receive a bonus track called "Drown All Your Witches", which you can preview here.
More exciting news are expected tonight when their new label Nadie Sound's website is revealed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[Review] Periphery - Clear

Periphery is definitely not for everyone, with 3 guitar players and a tendency to make a joke of themselves with silly song titles and some cheesy melodies/lyrics it's easy to understand why the band is so polarizing. To make it more difficult for the newcomers their records are harder to digest than a bag full of scissors, but their new EP, "Clear" takes the band in a different direction.
Their second EP (a little distraction before the release of their long awaited third LP "Juggernaut") is composed of 6 songs, each written by a different member of the band based on the general theme of the "overture" which opens the album.

The idea is nice, and it's certainly entertaining (I would love to see other bands like Mastodon do something like this), by listening to each song you can separate the elements that form Periphery's sound and find out who's behind them, and who are their influences. "The Parade Of Ashes" for example, written by vocalist Spencer Sotelo, shows a clear Nine Inch Nails influence during the first half, while the chorus on "Feed The Ground" sounds a lot like Slipknot (they recorded a cover of a Slipknot song for their second album), and with the exception of the songs created by guitarist Misha Mansoor and bassist Adam Getgood (both instrumental), the rest are much more straightforward than most of Periphery's work. The only drawback (not counting whether you can absorb some of the cheesiness or not) is that the songs don't actually feel like a continuation of the overture, but the idea still comes across. 
In short, if you are a fan of Periphery, you should check this out, and if you aren't it's a good starting place to be introduced to their sound, musician by musician.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Episode 19
Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock episode 19! We are joined by the ever funny Job Grob to discuss
Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes 
Lawrence Arms - Metropole


Episode 20!
We made it folks, the big 2-0!

Ryan takes a stab at editing this episode so watch out as we review
St. Vincent 
and Kimono Kult

Scope it! Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Linkin Park Is Recording A "Prequel to Hybrid Theory" And I Don't Even Know What To Think Anymore.

Wow, that's one hell of a long title, so... where do I begin? As a teenager I was kind of obsessed with Linkin Park, though I never saw them live (they never came to my country in that period as far as I know) I had all their albums and I spent a lot of my free time listening to them. I'm sure most of you are familiar with their first two albums, but basically it was very basic, cheesy, hip hop meets pop-metal, which was trendy back in 2000-2003. So it's easy to see why so many people love them and why so many people hate them, I went through both stages before I completely forgot about them.
But one day I decided I was listening to too much prog rock, experimental music and all kinds of weird shit and I didn't want to be a pretentious asshole, I needed some guilty pleasure music to balance things a bit. So what I did was check where the hell Linkin Park had gone after I basically erased them from my life, and I was quite suprised to see that they had gone experimental... but wait! I don't mean experimental in the King Crimson/The Mars Volta sense... but more like "let's try to expand our sound" kind-of-experimental.
Last time I checked Linkin Park had recorded a "mash up" album with rapper Jay-Z, things could hardly get any more mainstream... well, it seems a few years later they decided they wanted to piss off most of their (huge) fan base by ditching their nu-metal sound in favour of other kinds of modern music. As it is to be expected from a band whose fan base is comprised mostly of teenagers and "ex teenagers" which can't deal with their favourite band trying new things, people hated the follow up to "Meteora" (2003), to be fair it was all over the place, "Minutes To Midnight" (2007) had a few decent pop rock songs but mostly it was a bunch of ideas the band decided to explore. 
But as if they didn't have had enough with pissing off half of their fan base by removing the "angry" lyrics and hip hop elements present through all their career, they decided they wanted to double the bet by getting rid of all the harsh vocals and heavy, processed, guitar riffs... the result was the quasi-progressive electronic pop experiment called "A Thousand Suns", this definitely was the final insult to the most conservative part of their fanbase, no harsh screaming, no heavy guitars, almost no hip hop and a lot of instrumental interludes. Suprisingly I loved it, after spending countless hours listening to bands like The Mars Volta, King Crimson, Mastodon, etc, memorizing all their solos, bass lines, drum patterns and every little bit of noise, I was really enjoying their music.
At this point you are probably wondering where the hell am I going with this, well my opinion is Linkin Park is one of those bands that are very easy to hate (or should I say it is "cool" to hate them?) but I think everyone should leave all bias aside and give their albums a try. All their albums are different and if there's one thing you can't deny is that their songs are catchy as hell. Don't expect to find amazing musicianship (at least not in the technical sense), just try to relax and enjoy it. I'm not going to talk about "Living Things" (2012) and their next album "The Hunting Party" (coming soon) so you can listen to them and decide whether it is your thing or not yourself, torrent all their stuff and give it a try, just please... PLEASE don't listen to "Recharged"...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fookcast #1: Hang On to Fook

Fookcast returns with a new monthly series, taking you through a full hour of mixtape-meets-podcast entertainment.
... jp incorporated JAZZBOT XTREME ... ninja sex party FYI I WANNA F YOUR A ... ariel pink and jorge elbrecht NO REAL FRIEND ... connan mockasin FOREVER DOLPHIN LOVE ... colin stetson AWAKE ON FOREIGN SHORES/JUDGES ... dawn of midi SINOPE ... team sleep 11/11 ... the smashing pumpkins MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS ... ariel pink and jorge elbrecht HANG ON TO LIFE ... mark kozelek and desertshore LIVINGSTONE BRAMBLE ... björk POSSIBLY MAYBE ... otto rollo ENJOYSOLITUDE ... devin townsend DEVLAB ... zach hill UHURU ... boris JUST ABANDONED MY-SELF ... william basinski DLP 6 ... chris cornell WHEN I'M DOWN ...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Jack White Album Out In June

Jack White has announced the released of a new solo album due this year through his label Third Man Records. The album, titled "Lazaretto", will have a limited edition release featuring "a Lazaretto LP pressed on split-color blue and white vinyl coupled with exclusive album art, a lustrous blue vinyl 7-inch with two early demos of songs that appear on Lazaretto, a 40-page hard bound Lazaretto book and a letter-pressed linen postcard".
"Lazaretto" will be out on June 9th and the first single, the instrumental "High Ball Stepper" has been released to the public, with the title track scheduled for release later this month.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 3-22-2014 (Katy B)

'Sup, y'all? Been workin' a lot and so, I've just been feeling either chill or tired, most of these days now. Due to my tired mood this weekend, I'm gonna hit y'all with a slightly more chill 5 hit combo of the lovely vocals of Katy B. Homegirl sounds good in everything she's in, and wisely dabbles in various genres to ensure she's staying fresh and reaching a wide audience! Hope you enjoy this one...until next week, y'all.

- Kenny Riot -

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 3-15-2014 (Danny Byrd)

OOOOH MAN! How're y'all doin' on this fine Saturday Night? I'm lackin' sleep, but I'm still in a good mood and that means I gotta drop some FUN music for y'all, up in here! Time to get right with one of my personal favorite producers, Danny Byrd, because his Drum & Bass stylings are just so damn fun to listen to, and in a genre with fans trying to be all hard and serious, it's nice to just have some "good times" tunes, y'know? Get hype, and I'll catch you all next week!

-Kenny Riot-

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 3-8-2014 (DJ Hazard)

Whoadamn. Sorry this is a day late, y'all! I had a lot to do yesterday, so I ended up leaving long before I normally write this feature. Anyways, Last night ended up being hype as fuck, so I'm gonna drop a really hype as fuck Drum & Bass producer on y'all right now, in the form of DJ Hazard! Never mind that tomorrow is Monday, and never mind that today, we lost an hour of sleep (or in my case, an hour of partying in the city), use this to get yourself ready for the week ahead! until next time...

-Kenny Riot-

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why The Mars Volta Reuniting Is Good For Rock Music And Your Ears

While nothing is 100% confirmed reputable sources have stated that the two brainchilds behind the project have begun talking again and may play together in 2015.  It is a long way off and the possibility of variables to mess it all up are high.  Ideally though, we could expect a small tour with some festival shows layered on top around the summer/fall of 2015.  There is a group that are jumping up and down with anticipation and another group that are groaning in anticipation of more falsetto squealing "over-indulgent guitar wankery".  While no doubt both points are valid (one more so than the other) there is some value for everyone in the return of the formidable musical monster.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 3-1-2014 (Ajapai)

Hey, guys and ladies! This week, I've got a mad interesting five hit combo for y'all! Check out Ajapai, who has a very distinct heavyweight dubstep style, and a seemingly polar opposite funky house style. Dude definitely gets you movin' though. Like what you're hearin'? Check out his soundcloud for even more dope tracks! See you next week!

-Kenny Riot-

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 2-22-2014 (Evol Intent)

'Sup, y'all? Hope your weekend has been as entertaining as mine has been, so far (save for this morning, but I digress), 'cause now I gotta get the hype goin' for tonight! Check out these five dope ass tracks from Evol Intent, a trio of mostly Drum & Bass Producers that also dabble in some other projects and genres. If you like what you're hearin' here, then definitely hit up their soundcloud page and follow them, since every Thursday, they give away a newly mastered version of one of their classic tracks in their own "Throwback Thursday" celebration! Hope ya like it, 'cause I'm out for now!

-Kenny Riot-

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 2-15-2014 (aarabMUZIK)

'Sup y'all!?! Chicago is seein' yet another snowy Saturday Night, but more flakes don't really matter because this 5-hitter heats the streets right up! Tonight, we're gonna get hype to the sounds of aarabMUZIK! He's a dope ass hip hop producer with a sick portfolio. Mostly worked with The Diplomats (Dipset), but he's got plenty of his own instrumentals for y'all to get right with! Look him up on if you're feelin' what you're hearin'! Until next week...

-Kenny Riot-

Friday, February 14, 2014

Episode 18

Episode 18: We share our winter playlist so you can enjoy it for the last few weeks of winter.

Ryan also reads some R. Kelly Lyrics and we reenact a bit too much of The Whisper Song.

Bonus for you guys:  I read the Kimono Kult description at the end.

Hope this is the last episode we debut on blogspot and not the website

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Riff 'N Ralk Music Tock. A Reflection After One Year.

Roughly a bit longer than a year later and this project still stands and functions.  Frankly after so many other failed projects I am astounded that it has survived this long.  It has been a fantastic year and I am excited for what the future holds for Ryan, myself, and our guest contributors.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 2-8-2014 (Reso)

'Sup, y'all? It's time to hit you with a very special 5-hit playlist tonight, as this one showcases who is probably one of my all time favorite producers ever, Reso. He's so unique in his sound, and all kinds of diverse as well, so you never even get tired of listening to his own stuff. Dubstep, Drum & Bass, Glitch Hop, Garage, and some really chilled stuff, too. Thing of it is, this playlist is barely the tip of the iceberg of just how diverse he can be. If there's anyone I've posted that you haven't really delved further into, you should DEFINITELY go through Reso's body of work. You will most definitely find somethin' of his that you're going to like. Tonight's playlist is even more fitting for me, as I've got three completely different events to attend, tonight. At least they're all free and all around the same place in the city. Anyways, Press play and get yourselves hype with this list!

-Kenny Riot-

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 2-1-2014 (The Mars Volta)

A'ight, y'all. So today is our dude Alex Gomory's birthday, and I wanted to do a band that he got down to, for this weeks Saturday Night Hype Masters, so I know he's probably talked a lot about this band already, I actually think they're pretty hype as fuck, too. Thing is, I was only slightly familiar with them, and never really went out of my way to listen to their stuff, but the little bit I did hear before, I liked. Same thing happened when I was picking tracks for tonight...everything I heard, I liked, so this was fun to put together. So, for Alex, press play and get HYPE AS FUCK, tonight!

-Kenny Riot-

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Brief (Yea Right) Thought on Sunday's Grammys

Another year has gone by and thus another awards ceremony where music's 1% has been paraded around on stage like a show dog has illuminated our television sets.  Each year is a mix of celebration for those in the 'in' crowd and scathing critique from those outside of it.  Sometimes those critics are even invited inside the coveted circle of The Grammy cabal, and more often than not they fall rank and file into the collective.

Every year that passes by we get a similar set of writings and musings from armchair critics (like yours truly) who point out that The Grammys are pointless, poorly constructed, and should die out much like the African Black Rhino (too soon?).  They are not in the wrong either, as most do make a valid point.  There are plenty of well developed and well thought criticisms of the awards show that pin-point the massive errors that are ingrained into the architecture of the ceremony.

Monday, January 27, 2014

5 Bassist to Listen to for Inspiration

The bassist is the musical foundation for which so much of rock music formed.  While the drummer (usually) is tasked with keeping time, the bassist creates the basis for which we determine what notes to actually play.  Unfortunately, like the drums, this often limits the bass players to simple chord progressions only being allowed to let loose for a few brief moments.

Sadly, all too often bass parts are really dull and boring.  Anyone who has had got stuck playing bass parts in a Rock Band session knows how monotonous the bass can be.  Today we are celebrating some fresh new perspectives on the bass and what it can offer.

A reader commented that when I got to this article I better include Victor Wooten in my write up.  While I agree 100% I must unfortunately not include him on my list for the sheer fact that I do not have too much knowledge of his music and could not fairly comment.  Either way you should probably listen to Victor Wooten.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 1-25-2014 (The Upbeats)

'Sup, y'all? The polar vortex may still have us gettin' layered up to fight off the shivers, but a good dose of hype will give anyone the power they need to get out there and make something of their day. So, let me get you your weekly dose courtesy of New Zealand's finest producers, The Upbeats! While mostly puttin' out some pretty amazing Drum & Bass Bangers, they've also diversified their audio portfolio through trying out Dubstep, and "Half Timed" Drum & Bass, and even a little Hip Hop. So start this playlist up and get hype!

-Kenny Riot-

Friday, January 24, 2014

Episode 17

Click Here For Episode 17

Episode 17. We Review Lady Gaga's ArtPop, Melt-Banana's Fetch and do an end of the year wrap up. Steve Clark and someone named Alex guest star.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 1-18-2014 (Camo & Krooked)

Damn, so my broke ass can't make it out to a free Drum & Bass event due to a lack of surplus gas money, so I'm stayin' in and sharin' a cool 5-hit hype combo for y'all, tonight! This week, I'm hittin' y'all with a tag team that I regularly get hype with, Camo & Krooked! So pump those speakers up and get yourself hype for the night life!

-Kenny Riot-

Sunday, January 12, 2014

5 Drummers to Listen to for Inspiration

Guitars are a pretty phenomenal instrument, it fits so well and into so many roles in a band, from lead solo, rhythm support, and even simply obnoxious noises.  It's purposes are near infinite.  Perhaps this is why we see so many covered in dust in our friends rooms, because at some point we all dreamed of being in one of those roles.  Sadly many of those dreams are dashed as the never ending supply of guitarists means only the pick of the litter get tapped in.

Drums are different.  While they can be many things, their role tends to be pigeon-holed into that of carrying the rhythm.  Many bands do work hard to make the drums something more than just a 4/4 drum machine.  Some of these attempts fail to really stand-out beyond some yawn inducing drum solos, while others create unique and fresh textures with the percussive instrument.

As a novice drummer myself I seek these re-inventors as a way of forcing myself to change the way I play my instrument and to change what I see as a drum kit.  The five drummers below have really altered the way I see the drums as an instrument, and also encouraged fresh new ways of interacting with them.  There are many more than have motivated me, but these five are ones that have made me go "Oh wow, I never thought of that!" and had me rushing to my stool.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 1-11-2014 (The Prodigy)

'Sup, y'all!?! I know this 5 hit showcase might be done by a producer that many of you would know, his music is still quite capable of gettin' many, including myself, hype as fuck. The Prodigy wasn't called the, "King of Raves" for nothin', right? So turn those speakers up and get yourself hype for tonight!

-Kenny Riot-

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Tournament For The Court Of The Crimson King: Final Thoughts and a collection of links

Fuck me, what a ride.  Nearly four months and one too many essays later we have made a final decision on this long winded matter.  I wanted to thank everyone who stuck around and read all these articles, and a huge thank you for all the kind words said during my feature.

5 Guitarists to Listen to for Inspiration

Oh my goodness it feels good to not have to write anything about King Crimson in the header.  I felt for my first writing piece since my over indulgent tournament I would venture away from discussing albums and back to talking musicians.  This January I will be writing four articles, each about five musicians that you should check out for inspiration, but each week will be a different instrument.

By inspiration I mean that if you are an aspiring musician it may help your growth to check out these performers for some new and fresh ideas.  While we all are aware of the Steve Vai's and Jimmy Page's of the world there are so many other musicians who not only do not get fair attention, but also are exploring some wild new frontiers with their instrument of choice.

I will note that I am not including Mr. Belew in this article since I have written more than enough about him over the course of our lovely blog. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Night Hype Masters 1-4-2014 (Gavlyn)

A'ight, y'all! Here comes another dope ass 5-hit combo for y'all to get right by, on this chilly ass Saturday Night (as told by Chicago, anyways...)! However, this time, we're not doin' EDM like I (seemingly) normally do, 'cause this time, I'm droppin' some fine Hip Hop on y'all by way of Gavlyn. I only just found out about her late last year, when I was lookin' up random rap battles to watch on Youtube, and then she just showed up in one of the recommended viewing lists, so I gave her a shot. Gotta say that I'm really feelin' her style, as it's not only nice to find a dope ass female MC, but one that isn't constantly spittin' about how much her booty pops (not that that doesn't have its place, but you get what I'm sayin', right?), which is somethin' a lot of people out there need more of. So, props to Gavlyn and here's to hopin' I've amassed some new fans for her. Catch y'all next week!

-Kenny Riot-

The King Crimson Finals: Red Vs Discipline

The ability for me to finally write "finals" in that subject heading brings me great joy and a sigh of relief.  As much fun as it was to undertake this project I also realize how immobilizing it was.  For nearly 4 months I have written about nothing but this band.  It has definitely allowed me to indulge in this group and explore it to its fullest extent, finding new live shows and other bits of trivia, but I also fear that you the reader have become burnt out on the single subject meandering that I have subjected you to.  Perhaps if I attempt another "tournament" I will explore a band with a much smaller discography and also write more diligently.

For now, one last time.  Let us indulge.