Archive for November, 2009



19
Nov
09

Dada Web Radio

Sadly, these days the power-trio Dada is an rather obscure group to many, but in the late 1990’s Dada had a grip on the alternative music scene with their big hit Dizz Knee Land on their debut album Puzzle (1992).  Theycontinued to pump out solid albums afterwards with mild praise

Although Dada is still together (playing random shows from time to time primarily on the West Coast) they have always had a devoted fanbase who is always looking forward to a new tour or album (we continue to hold our breath). 

I saw these guys several times when I lived in Boston in the 90’s (at the now defunct Aerosmith founded Mama Kins and still active Paradise Rock Club); their shows were always tight and energetic, definitely a fun band to see when they came to town.
Per their website (www.dadatheband.com) members have focused on solo side projects:  X Levitation Cult (bass player Joie Calio’s project) and Michael Gurley and the Nightcaps and Butterfly Jones (lead singer Michael Gurley and drummer Phil Leavitts partnered projects).  I have not heard Calio’s X Levitation Cult; but have heard Butterfly Jones and was fairly impressed. 
If you are not familiar with Dada’s albums, I would personally suggest El Subliminoso (2004) as an introductory album; it is one of my favorites.  You can currently pick it upon Amazon.com for about $4!!  Dada recently created a web radio station free for the masses, check it out.  It offers a variety of their more mellow songs from various albums but worth a listen ; click here to check them out.  The highlighted songs in the recent player list are I’m Feeling Nothing, Crumble, and Who You Are;  the other songs are mellow in comparision.
Let us know what you think of them.
16
Nov
09

The English Beat – On tour?

english_beatYes, it’s true The English Beat (or The Beat if you are cool) are currently touring the U.S.  If you are not familiar with this legendary Ska group pick yourself up I Just Can’t Stop It and you should be converted in a short time. 

I’ve provided a link below of some cities they are hitting for the rest of the year; I would imagine they put on a great show. 

11/20/09 Poughkeepsie, NY – The Chance
11/22/09 Teaneck, NJ – Mexacali Live
11/23/09 Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall 

  Click here to see more scheduled shows.

I’ve provided a sample of their hit Mirror in the Bathroom check it out and tell us what you think.

13
Nov
09

magnetic metallica

metallicaNo, that wasn’t an earthquake shaking downtown Albany last night.  It was the sonic assault of the one-time reigning metal gods reclaiming their divinity.  Metallica’s 2-hour show at the Times Union Center re-solidified their status as heavy metal heroes, drawing on a wide variety of songs to please both the old hardcore fans and the newer ones alike.

The darkened stage blazed into a net of laser beams as the first notes of “This Was Just Your Life,” the opening track to their newest album Death Magnetic, blasted out of the speakers.  Singer/guitarist James Hetfield was barley illuminated as he belted out the lyrics, while drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo danced in shadows around the open stage.  Upon the final notes of the 7-minute song, all the stage lights burst to life, finally giving the crowd a good look at the veteran rockers.  To say the crowd greeted them enthusiastically would be quite understated.  Hetfield whipped the fans into a frenzy between songs, spouting rhetoric about everyone being a part of the Metallica family, blah blah blah…but the audience ate it up.

Following another new song “End of the Line,” long-time fans of the old Metallica got an unbelievable treat – “Ride the Lightning,” the title track of their second album.  And Metallica cranked it out like they just recorded it yesterday rather than 25 years ago (and they probably hadn’t played it live in 20 years at least).

The preamble to “One” featured a monstrous pyrotechnic display as nearly the whole stage erupted in flames, echoing the sounds of war that precede the song.  In my opinion, “One” is about as perfect as a metal song can be, from the beautiful, haunting opening melodies, to the eerie, descriptive lyrics that take us inside the mind of a quadruple amputee who also loses his sight, speech and hearing and is waiting to die, to the final few minutes of machine-gun riffs and wailing guitar solos.  And they played it perfectly.

They played a good number of songs from Death Magnetic, the other highlights being “All Nightmare Long” and “The Day that Never Comes,” both showcasing the band’s return to a much more thrash-metal sound.

Another fantastic surprise for the old fans was “Welcome Home (Sanitarium),” a fantastic blend of beautiful melodies and hardcore metal.

As the set began heading to the finish line, they broke out two of their best – the title track to “Master of Puppets,” for which Hetfield was more than happy to let the audience sing most of the lyrics, and then, taking me and probably everyone by ecstatic surprise, “Battery.”  This is one of the fastest songs they’ve ever recorded, and they played it like they were still in their 20’s instead of pushing 50.  It was astounding…my neck hurts from head-banging.

They closed the set with the overplayed but crowd-pleasing “Enter Sandman,” complete with fireballs and audience sing-a-longs.

They left the stage for a few minutes and came right back with three more oldies: their cover of Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” and then two tracks from their first album Kill ‘Em All – “Motorbreath” and “Seek and Destroy,” and during the latter giant Metallica beach balls rained down from the ceiling and bounced around the crowd.  It was a fitting end to a crazy, fun show that, as I alluded to in my previous post, brought all Metallica fans together.  Hmm, maybe that clap-trap about the “Metallica family” has some merit?

(See the full set list here:  http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/metallica/2009/times-union-center-albany-ny-63d73a87.html)

Prior to Metallica, Virginia’s Lamb of God played for almost an hour, shoving their pounding death/thrash metal down everyone’s throats.  Lamb of God is arguably the best metal band to arrive on the scene in the last decade.  Their riffs are incredibly tight, and singer Randy Blythe’s demonic snarling vocals are a great fit.  I saw them open for Slayer about 3 years ago and they nearly upstaged the speed-metal icons.  Last night they probably recruited a lot of new fans who hadn’t heard them, but they probably also turned off a good chunk of the crowd.  Metallica fans have a diverse fan base, and those who really like more radio-friendly metal probably found Lamb of God a little too intense.  But they played well and Blythe interacted a lot with the crowd.  Unfortunately the vocal mix was not loud enough, making it hard to hear the lyrics.

Opening band Volbeat was pretty good.  Their sound was kind of rockabilly-meets-punk, with a little thrash thrown in.  They were very entertaining, and the sparse crowd seemed to enjoy it.

This Metallica concert gets 4 out of 5 stars!

11
Nov
09

…And Metallica For All

metallica_death_magneticLet me preface this by saying I never thought I’d ever have anything positive to say about Metallica ever again.  With their self-titled 1991 release (aka the “Black Album”), the band really toned down its hardcore metal sound for a more mainstream hard rock/metal blend, and ended up polarizing their fan base.  The hardliners (of which I was one) who worshipped the legendary sounds of Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and …And Justice For All now found themselves disillusioned and disheartened by the new direction Metallica was taking, while more casual fans and those who didn’t care for the band’s thrash metal style now found these new songs much more accessible and easy on the ears.  The term “sell outs” was tossed around in Metallica’s direction, which, for the record, I disagree with.  I don’t think they simply went in a new direction just to make money.  I think they were genuinely interested in going new places with their sound.  Unfortunately the music suffered greatly from this decision; the quality of their lyrics and overall sound took a nosedive.

So for all of the 90’s and up until the release of Death Magnetic about a year ago, I thought, as I’m sure many did, that the downward spiral would be the status quo until Metallica eventually called it quits.  But this new album and current tour have proved otherwise.  They have managed to create an album that recaptures a lot of the old head-banging riffs and double-bass drum thump, but does not completely slip back into the thrash sound of those early albums.  In essence, they’ve made an album that should please old hardliners and the newer fan base alike.

The opening track “This Was Just Your Life” immediately brings to mind the Justice album – very similar production quality and riffs.  And the pounding drums and machine gun guitar strumming don’t let up much throughout the album.  “Broken Beat and Scarred” really lets drummer Lars Ulrich let loose, giving his arms a workout they haven’t had in probably 20 years.  The deceptively slow start to “The Day that Never Comes” gives way to some lightning-fast chord changes and Kirk Hammett solos.  “All Nightmare Long” will definitely not disappoint Metallica fans of days past, with its heavy riffs and James Hetfield’s tonal howling.  The album is not without its misses – “The Unforgiven III” is the one ballad, and really doesn’t add much to the album.  Let’s hope this trilogy of mediocrity ends here.  Hetfield is at his best writing about death and destruction, not introspective love songs.  “Judas Kiss” is another throw-away track; it’s not bad, but isn’t nearly on par with the other tracks.  Following a great tradition of instrumental Metallica songs (“Anesthesia,” “Call of Ktulu,” “Orion,” “To Live is to Die”), we get “Suicide and Redemption” on this album, and unfortunately it can’t come close to those classic aforementioned tunes.  It’s not without its charm, but the tempo changes seem forced and disjointed.  The album closes with “My Apocalypse” (death and destruction!), a fast and heavy ending to a pretty fast and heavy album.

I will be seeing their live show tomorrow night (with review posted here following), and I’ve peeked at some set lists from other shows this tour.  They are pulling out quite a lot of old classics, along with much of the new album, and thankfully they seem to be avoiding the albums during that space in time when their fans were at opposite ends of the Metallica spectrum.  Like Death Magnetic, it seems this tour is reuniting all Metallica fans…Metallica for all!

Death Magnetic gets 3.5 out of 5 stars

10
Nov
09

Frank Zappa – The Man From Utopia (1983)

Zappa_UtopiaAfter the overwhelming response to my review of Shut Up and Play Yer’ Guitar I felt compelled to enlighthen the masses about another fantastic Zappa album: The Man From Utopia.  As with nearly every Zappa album, there is always a new twist to the experimentation with rhythm, tempo, vocals and of course content of songs.  Man From Utopia is a fun, energetic and basically an awesome album that just keeps the listener wanting more.  God how I wish I could make a living creating this stuff like Zappa did, so cool!

Man from Utopia is an album that just reflects pure Zappa; relaxed and in his element. Zappa just creates great music and lyrics that just flow and work together.  Cocaine Decisions is well written and just has a great feel for the beginning of an album. The next song Sex is again, well written and refined in its composition and lyrical content.  Tink Walks Amok clearly reflects Zappa’s inate ability to write funky, flowing, and complex instrumental pieces with precision and timing.  As most Zappa fans know only the best musicians could play his compositions; that is why Zappa surrounded himself with such talented guys!  Zappa’s band were basically the only ones that could play this stuff!  Man From Utopia is the second album that  credit’s Steve Vai with “impossible guitar parts”….so that should explain much.

The Radio Is Broken and the Dangerous Kitchen are as brilliant as they are hilarous.  Steve Vai actually had to detune his guitar to play along with Zappa’s out of tune vocals, who does this?  That is the brilliance of Zappa: innovation and creativity in his music.  We Are Not Alone is another incredible instrumental song that just signifies how unique and unapprecaited Zappa was in the larger music world, pure genius is reflected in this song and really, this entire album.

The song The Jazz Discharge Party Hats, well, listen to it with an open mind, laugh out loud and just enjoy Zappa’s unique style.  

Luigi and The Wise Guys, is an interesting song and really shows how much Zappa appreciated the 50’s doo-wop sound. Songs like this can be seen on other albums such as Cheap Thrills (On Cheap Thrills-1998)  and WPLI (Son of Cheap Thrills-1999).  I think this aspect of Zappa is often overlooked and under appreciated.

As I mentioned in my earlier review of Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar (which is purely an instrumental album), if you are willing to overlook what most would consider offensive lyrics (retards); you will discover that Zappa offered so much in the way of talent and variety in his music.   On the other hand, if you decide not to learn what Zappa contributed to the music world you are really doing yourself a disservice.  Please give him a listen and then make an educated decision.

Is Zappa for everyone, certainly not.  But for those of us who appreciate “good music” and appreciate those that push the limits of musical ability and structure Zappa is one not to be ever overlooked.

Joe’s Garage is often the “Zappa training wheels” introductory album for the novice Zappa listener, however, if you decide to choose Man From Utopia as your first introduction it too is a perfect choice in getting to know Mr. Zappa up close and personal, enjoy.

Man From Utopia gets a 5 out of 5.

10
Nov
09

Please Complete our Poll

voteHere at Hi-Fi Central we are on the edge of our seats curious to know if Thomas Dolby or Falco reigned supreme.

Yes, to you it may seem sad that we long for this kind of information; to us it’s important scientific research .
Vote, won’t you?

The poll can be found on the right side of your screen on the sidebar.

09
Nov
09

King of the 80’s pop?

Waterviola’s review of the perfect pop song got me thinking about who held the title of best song between Falco (Rock Me Amadeus) or Thomas Dolby (Blinded Me With Science)?  Love to know the WordPress readers vote, let us know! Vote on the right sidebar!

FalcoRock Me Amadeus – Click here to listen

dolbyBlinded Me With Science – Click here to listen




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