Archive for October, 2009


Happy Halloween From HI-Fi!


I felt this fitting for Halloween!

Yes, the mighty space overlords GWAR are on tour right now!  They are playing in Worcester, Ma  for Halloween; I’m sure it will be very entertaining!

They are coming to my home town (Albany, NY) on December 11, 2009 at Northern Lights.  Hi Fi will let you know about that show after a few days of recouperation.

Update!  Click the HiFi banner above to see the recent entry review from the 12/11 show!!! GWAR was awesome!


The Libertines (2004)

LibertinesA few months ago I was listening to an NPR segment that focused on the music coming out of Britain.  The commentator felt it important to highlight a band called The Libertines. In NPR’s opinion The Libertines were one of the best bands in recent years to surface and perhaps, had made a significant contribution towards a second “British Invasion”.  “Poppy-cock!” I say, this band is truly dreadful to listen to and one has to ponder how they were able to get signed to a major label; tt truly is beyond me.  Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief about the music that NPR reviews; and worse, what they feel important enough to bring to their listening audience’s attention. 

Most people who know me will agree that I am one of the most open-minded people when it comes to music.  I like metal, country, jazz, classical, rockabilly, punk, even easy listening (and the list goes on and on and on).

 However, I cannot bring myself (after multiple listenings both with and without scotch whiskey) to appreciate what these guys are offering musically.  From the first few songs I thought that NPR had been joking, wondering if this band was a spoof.  Perhaps The  Young Ones had decided to put out an album just for laughs sake.  Nope. This was a genuine album, by a band that actually thought they sounded good, and further more (adding insult to injury) so did a bunch of other people who had bought it.

The Libertines as a band are so poorly out of tune throughout the entire album.  Honestly it sounds as if the band got together at the last minute to play in their parents garage.  The first song  Can’t Stand Me Now is rememiscant of something The Clash would have put out (this album is produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, so that explains much of the sound).  The Libertines clearly are trying too much to be The Clash, and perhaps that is there downfall.  The song is raw and  unrefined and I get this is the punk sound they are attempting to achieve.  Sadly, it’s not even done well to create something remotely entertaining.  In all honesty, and I have to laugh, the wood block or cowbell part of the song just reminds me of Will Farrell in the SNL band spoof.  To it’s credit Can’t Stand Me Now has a slight melodic rhythm for a portion of the song, but clearly it doesn’t save the listener from wanting to hit fast forward. 

The second song is Last Post on The Bugle, is also terrible.  The beginning is remiscent from some from either Morrissey, The Smiths, Big Audio Dynamite, or perhaps, The Clash, again (sigh).  The beginning of the song has the sound of either someone ripping paper or snorting coke, why?  It has no place in the song and is just random which again exemplifies the adolescent structure of their music.  Perhaps it the punk thing to do to just put in random distractions in a song to sound like you don’t care, right? The lyrics are not even in synch with any of the music and again, the listener is left wondering how these dudes ever got signed.

My ultimate favorite in this album is Don’t Be Shy.  It could quite possibly be the worst song ever written; and I’m not kidding, it’s truly awful.  Listeners who bought this album for this song (if there were any) clearly need to seek some medical attention and proves that there is “a sucker born every minute” if they bought this album for the “great music”. 

The first time I heard Don’t Be Shy I looked for the mallet to hit the gong, it would make every dog bark in your neighborhood.  Clearly this song was The Libertines attempt to really rock out and produce a song that jams, but it’s nothing but a humorous attempt at writing quality music and just falls so short of the mark.

Amazingly, this band was compared to the likes of The Hives, The Strokes, and other bands that had a raw garage like sound, yet made good music.  Perhaps it was simply that the album was produced by Mick Jones; if he put his seal of approval on the band they were good to go, I dunno.  What I do know is that the band has had terrible reputation for drug addiction.  One of the lead singers, Pete Doherty was both a crack and heroin addict which created more press for the band than their music.  But, any press is good press right?  I think that people may have found this facet of the band an intriguing part and thus purchasing the album. 

In sum, The Libertines were a bunch of kids that became successful in an impossible field, made millions, became reckless and addicted, and then broke up.  The only contribution I see this band making is proving that you can be absolutely terrible at music and someone, somewhere, will perhaps discover you and voila! 

The only good song on the album is Road to Ruin, but one song does not save an album.  If you want a punk bands to listen to you are better spending your money on bands like Rancid or The Used.

Please avoid this album at all costs.  I think this band was found to be cool and cutting edge because they actually were terrible and everyone knew it.  Sometimes liking bad music is a cool thing, I guess? Anyone with half a brain can tell that this band is not even remotely close to a conributing factor in the British sound at any level  They are simply just another garage band attempting to be a rebirth of The Clash sound. 

The offspring of the break up of The Libertines was called The Babyshambles, and a much more fitting name in my opinion.

The Libertines album gets a 0 out of 5.


Free Rush Radio

RushUpon reflection of my recent trounce of Rush’s soon to be released Working Men dvd I felt perhaps I can make amends by providing readers (Rush fans specifically) a link for streaming Rush radio for their listening pleasure.

It’s not bad with about 40+ songs in the selection, some recent and some vintage Rush mixed together. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 2112’s Overture & Temples of Syrinx, Cygnus X-1 part I & II, and Passage to Bangkok are featured, nice! Find your favorites by dragging the small gray rectangle on the right up and down.  You can go to it by clicking here, and then click in the middle of the snake icon; it should launch.

After listening to Digital Man a few times already, I’m going home tonight to blow the dust off my Signals cd and get re-aquainted with Sir Geddy, Sir Alex, and Sir Neil; it’s been far too  long.


Rush DVD Release – “Working Men” 11/17

Rush-band-1978Geeks unite! The Rush website has announced that the band will be releaseing a new dvd entitled “Working Men”; this dvd will feature the best of their live performances over the past few years.  I was hoping that part of it would include footage from Exit Stage Left, Signals, or Grace Under Pressure, sadly it will not. Working Men will only feature live performances from their recent tours (Rush in Rio, R30, and Snakes and Arrows) which is kind of lame in my humble opinion.  Rush fans appreciate their newer material don’t get me wrong, but most fans (like me!) attend their concerts to hear vintage songs off of albums like Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, and 2112.  Would it not make more sense to release vintage Rush performances?  Why can’t we get a live version of Cygnus X-1 in its entirety? As a band, Rush has been incredibly protective with rare footage or songs that never made it to album; in addition bootlegs or rare concert material has always been difficult to find, yet this is the stuff that fans want!!!!

Luckily, if you want some classic Rush concerts or videos your only resource is to go to YouTube.  YouTube has become a repository of classic Rush featuring TV appearances and videos of them playing songs off of Moving Pictures.  Sadly, Working Men is not a retrospective dvd collection but rather another Rush dvd that fails to hit the mark and satisfy our thirst for rare Rush material.


Jesus Rocks Redux!

stryperbandYes, at one time Jesus did attempt to rock in the 1980’s with Stryper (don’t forget the Isaiah 53:5!!) and most of my friends from high school drank their kool-aid bubblegum metal, but not me.  Even in my headbanging days I just could not get into them;  their “message of Christ” just made my stomach turn and forced me (and my Aiwa walkman) to get as far away as I could.  Even with the big hair, cool outfits (well, at least at the time we considered them cool) and fret burning power ballads worthy of your Bic lighter, I thought they still were lame.
I’m a practicing Catholic so I’m not against religion, but when a band markets themselves as “Christian Rock” or “God Metal” I just feel they lose their credibility.  When a band focuses on a message rather than simply playing music (as exemplified by Stryper)I became bored and  preferred to listen to Iron Maiden or Quiet Riot.  Awesome music and no message, except the message that Eddie was a cool mascot, Steve Harris was an awesome bass player, and that “metal health” would drive you mad!
Case in point would be 20 years in the future with today’s bands like Evanescence, Creed, or even as an other Hi-Fi reviewer mentioned Matchbox 20, I never catagorized them as religious rock, but I guess they are? The difference perhaps is these bands are not so much in your face about God as Stryper attempted to be; I happen to find Evanescence very talented; I actually own both of their albums and play them on a very regular basis. 
Somehow Evanescence as a band has been able to market itself as metal with a gothic look and a mainstream sound (and a very,very,very subtle message about god) that appeals to a vast majority of rockers. It wasn’t until recently did I notice one of the lyrics as “my god, my tourniquet”, but I really didn’t think too much about it and I don’t think they wanted you to either. 

Many of Evanescences’ songs focus on regret and despair, taking your own life, why it is not worth it doing, and also that there is so much to live for; although reoccuring themes of almost all of their music, it appears to be the formula  they use in making a darkish persona for the bands sound.  Perhaps a strategy to be respected in the metal scene; yet underneath it all they are  a christian rock band? Themes like “regret”  and “despair” for songs are not unique solely to Christian rock bands. How many tradiational rock songs focus on those themes? Plenty do and always have, or any movie, or novel for that fact? C’mon, any rock fan knows that  anger, resentment, fear, remorse and all the other positive things in life (oh, don’t forget booze, girls, and drugs too!) are the fuel for writing rock and metal songs in the first place.

Christian rock is actually cool if people like it, I think that Hootie and Blowfish and Jars of  Clay do well at marketing themselves with those demographics without question.  I played in a band once and getting any noteriety at any level was near impossible, perhaps that’s where these bands are smarter.  They see how they can make a true living out of playing to a captured audience with a product they need. I’m not saying that these bands don’t believe in what their message is, but they definitely have carved a nitch for gaining fame (the fame all bands seek!) especially in a difficult career path such as music.  Rather than just being another alternative band trying to make it to the general public, they’ve decided to specialize and hit a targeted market; and one that has money to buy albums and fill arenas. Good for them I say!

However, the bottom line for me is for bands to focus on their music and not a message; whatever the lyrics are and whatever someone thinks you are saying is totally subjective unto themselves.  Simply put, if I want to hear about “Jesus and his turning water into wine” I will attend church on Sunday.  If you want to point out that “some dude can change water into booze and parties hard as a result” add some hard metal riffs and a drum solo, brother you’ve got me hooked, amen to that!


Wolfgang’s Vault – Vintage Concerts Free!

Wolfgang_GrahamMany of the contributors here at Hi-Fi Central are die hard classic rock fans not just new music.  There is a rare gem of a website called Wolfgang’s Vault that houses a plethora of rare concerts from those that layed the groundwork for todays rock stars. 
This site has everything from vintage Black Sabbath concerts to rare Bob Dylan concerts and memorabelia.  The site is a tribute and reflection of the vast collection of music promoter Bill Graham had in his possession.  Graham was instrumental in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the classic rock scene from The Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix. 

It’s a very cool site and something you should check out if you like rare live music, the sound quality of most of the concerts are very good.

Check it out!


Attention Record Labels – Send us stuff!

Guitar_geekIf you are an indie label and would like us to review your latest releases please send us either the cd or mp3 (or website where the albums can be downloaded) and we will review them on our blog.  With over unique 100 readers visting our blog per day it’s great exposure.

Wish I had this vehicle for propoganda when I played, we were left to stapling posters on telephone poles.


Superdrag – Last Call for Vitriol (2002)

Superdrag - Last Call for VitriolUpon reflection of my recent review of Superdrag’s newest release Industry Giants (2009) I felt compelled to perhaps go back into my CD vault and re-listen to an album they released in 2002 entitled Last Call for Vitriol which upon second and third listens (after I blew the dust off) is a really good album.  So, yes, perhaps I will take back some of my harsh critique and replace with it with some praise.  

Last Call for Vitriol is a solid album but if you are looking for an album of non-stop rock and intensity this is not it.  Last Call for Vitriol is more of an amalgum of both hard rock and mellow ballads.  The best songs on the album clearly are songs #2 and #3.  Song #2 (I Can’t Wait) and song #3 (The Staggering Genius, quite possibly the best song I’ve heard from them since Sucked Out) are powerful and intense, great songs that anyone would want to see played live.  In addition, they are also songs that the listener wants to hear more of, but sadly Superdrag  immediately lose pace and the listener is left with with an album of calm, mellow songs that forced one to push the button for the next song always longing to hear where the album picks back up; it never does.  For me, the album just never regains my interest after those two songs. 

Click here to listen to a sample of The Staggering Genius

Does that mean that the songs afterwards are duds, no, they are actually very good and reflect just how good John Davis is as a song writer, but for those of us looking for an “in your face” rock album with song after song of blistering power chords that make Superdrag fun to listen to, it fails to satisfy. 

This album was actually rather successful for the band and perhaps one of their closest since Regretfully Yours (1996) to make it to mainstream college radio.  My advice with todays access to purchasing music online is save yourself the money of buying the album used for $7.00 and spend $2.00 on just those two songs.  You should be happy with your purchase I’m sure.  And that is the thing about Superdrag, you can always pick one or two songs from each album that you really like. I can only imagine if they just were to produce one solid album of these songs, it would be incredible.

If you download these songs, tell us what you think!


Jesus Rocks?

10346922Christian rock music. This is a topic that has interested me for quite some time. I’ve always thought it strange that while such a huge percentage of this country is Christian, Christian rock music has failed to make any dent in mainstream popular music.

So what’s the deal? I’ve heard many Christian rock bands, and they’re not bad…I mean, for those who like the warmed over, watered down sounds of Matchbox 20 or The Gin Blossoms, a lot of Christian bands have that same sound. So is it the lyrics? Do church-goers not want to hear the same stuff that they hear every Sunday coming out of their cd players? The only cross-over in recent memory would be Creed’s album from the late 90’s which featured “Higher.” That was a wildly popular song and Creed did very well for a time, but then faded from the scene. So why did they get any recognition while everyone else has not? Is it because the lyrics to that song aren’t overtly religious and the masses didn’t realize it was “Christian”?

Is it that people go to church out of guilt and fear, but people listen to rock and roll because they like to be sinful?

In other words, people don’t like to mix their religion with their fun stuff too much. There are crazy born-again types that might go for Christian Rock, but most Christians were raised as such and don’t want that shoved down their throats when they’re trying to have fun.   Of course a lot of the songs I’ve heard aren’t evangelical – the lyrics aren’t about sin and hellfire and such. They’re uplifting spiritual songs. Basically take the lyrics from a Counting Crows or Jason Mraz song, and replace the word “baby” with “Jesus,” and it’s the same song.

Maybe it’s that they might not really want to be Christian, but figure there’s a slight chance that Hell actually exists and don’t want to risk it. So they go to church and pray and repent or whatever the hell it is that they do to keep their asses in saved status, but want to keep the rest of their lives secular.

What do YOU think?


The Hot Rats – Free Music

the-hot-ratsIf your like me you appreciate it when artists make their music available for listening to for free on their websites.  Although you cannot download the songs (unless you are a techno-wizard which I am not) you can listen to them multiple times over on their player. 

The Hot Rats is a side project from Supergrass singer-guitarist Gaz Coombes and drummer Danny Goffey.  While Supergrass is recording their 7th studio album due out in early 2010, these two decided that a side project was cool as well.  You can listen to 5 tracks on The Hot Rats website; the second song Big Sky is pretty cool cover of the Kinks classic, I love it! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Hot Rats U.S. Tour Dates:
1/12/2010 – Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY)
1/14/2010 – Bowery Ball Room (NYC)
1/19/2010 – Spaceland (Los Angeles, CA)
1/21/2010 – Troubadour (West Hollywood, CA)

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