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.