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05
Apr
12

Get Back! Rise of The Little Beatles?

Could you imagine if the spawn of the Fab Four were to get together and form a band, hiliarious eh?  From what I have read though, life is stranger than fiction. Reports are that there has been talk between James McCartney and Sean Lennon; clearly most of it has been baseless rumors and unfounded gossipy BS (like found on this blog!) and is sheer speculation at this time, nothing more. 

I recall there was a band about a decade ago called “Bloodlines” that was comprised of Erin Davis (son of Miles Davis), Waylon Kreiger (son of Robby Kreiger), and Berry Oakley Jr. (son of Berry Oakley Sr., duh!), but the band amounted to zilch.  I think the notion of the a revival or tribute band comprised of the children of The Beatles is a fun idea, I’m not sure that I could take it seriously to spend the money.  Iv’e not been overly impressed by Sean Lennon’s past work, but his older brother Julian was as close you would get to the sound of their late father, but apparently his day has come and gone.  As for Dhanni Harrison, he looks almost exactly like his father but can he play?  And as for James McCartney, he’s apparently a musician and songwriter, but who knows what his talents.  Zak Starkey on the other hand is a well accomplished drummer who has been a member of both Oasis and toured with The Who is recent years, so he doesn’t really  need the work nor seek the validation.

I would imagine as the child of a celebrity, there is always the want to vicariously experience or attempt to achieve the level of success of your parents.  But here is the dilemma, on the one hand you’ve got a huge leg up in the industry, yet on the other hand the public will may or will constantly compare your parent  good or bad.

Anyhoo, I thought it was worth informing the readers about since is fun, but I’m more impressed with how much they look like their parents, crazy!

26
Mar
12

Black Keys Print Releases!

Hot on the news of the Dan McCarthy print release for the recent Boston show posted last week, it would now appear that famed street artist Shepard Fairey will be offering his prints for the MSG show, wow!

As always, and I love Shepard for this, his prints are being offered for a mere $45 and are limited to an edition size of 550 each.  Usually the release times are super random which limits your ability to grab his prints (often selling out in minutes, so be forewarned!).

This time Fairey has been kind enough to inform hopeful buyers that there will be two release times on 3/27  for each print:  Between 10:00 and 12:00 PST for the first print and between 3:00 and 5:00 PST for the second, be mindful that these release times are PST and not EST. 

As usual, Fairey works in his trademark red and black silkscreen colors with a brilliant use of negative space, as always his creations result in vibrant and striking imagery.

You can check out more about these prints at www.obeygiant.com  and good luck grabbing one…or two!

Dan McCarthy’s print is also now available for $40 at www.danmccarthy.org  but I’m unsure of the edition size.  If you know, please update us here at HiFi Central.

21
Mar
12

Black Keys Boston Show Print – Dan McCarthy

If you have followed this blog in the past you are well aware of HiFi Centrals obsession with limited edition art created for rock bands.  Last year I ran a month long posting about “The Art of the Music Business” and highlighted several of my favorite prints and also the artists who have mastered and re-defined this medium.  Granted, rock art posters are nothing new we can thank the legendary Bill Graham for much of the popularity even today.

I’m a huge fan of The Black Keys and so is fellow blogger NYMike (read the prior post about his show review at Madision Square Garden).  One of my favorite artists is the guy out of Massachussetts named Dan McCarthy; my wife and I have several of his prints and he always seems to come up with fun and imaginitive designs consistently.  I happened to check out his website this morning and noticed that he created a print for a recent show (March 7th) at the TD Garden in Boston; apparently they were also on sale at the event as well.  Dan posted that he will have a limited amount available on his site later this month.

His prints usually sell around $40 and go quick, so check out www.danmccarthy.org to and see ifyou can snag yourself one when released.  Let us know if you get one too!

02
Dec
11

Free Phish Friday!

HiFi recently received an update on the companies iPhone that Phish will broadcast highlights of the legendary 1997 Hampston/Winston-Salem shows Thursday (yesterday), Friday, and Saturday at 2:00 via the LivePhish.com website radio.  There is no need to sign up; it simply requires a click of your mouse on the Listen link and viola!

I listen to the LivePhish.com radio station on a very regular basis and have found it easy to use and often updated with fresh live material.  This special stream they are offering at 2:00 should be a treat, check it out if you can!

29
Nov
11

Opeth – Swedish metal fun!

Recently during the wee hours of the morning when I was having trouble sleeping I decided to check out my list on Tivo of shows that I randomly decided to record and check out later; one was another installment of the 2011 Sonisphere concert.  I had seen the past installments with Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth but not some of the lesser known acts.  For example, this particular artists featured this included Sum 41, Cavalera Conspiracy, Diamond Head, In Flames, and Opeth.  To be fair, these are not household names around the halls of HiFi Central, but perhaps they are in your abode.  Clearly they are “popular” to someone otherwise they would have never made the bill for Sonisphere in the first place. 

Out of the fore-mentioned bands I found myself listening to the Sum 41 set, which was more nostalgic than eye opening, the guys are good and still popular perhaps, say in Indonesia these days. Sadly, Sum 41 is not involved in the main music scene in the US these days; an underground fanbase I would assume keeps them alive here.  Sum 41 has not put out any radio worthy music in years; and in some ways reminded me of a goofy Green Day wanna be band on Sonisphere.  I’m sure the shoppers at Zumiez or Hot Topic may think they still are incredible, but here at HiFi Central we use their poster as a dart board and cd’s as drink coasters.

Cavelera Conspiracy had my attention for about 25 seconds and then I quickly found them utterly boring, especially when the lead singer Max Cavelera opened his mouth.  It wasn’t until I realized why I knew the name Cavelera and then zingo – Sepultura!  I always liked Sepultura’s instrumentals but never liked the vocals, hmmm, guess what?  Still don’t! After listening to the reincarnation with Cavelera Conspiracy, it was like trying liver again at 40 – I still think it sucks, sorry.

Diamond Head was merely a special reunion for a 1970’s metal band that some of todays bands merit (Megadeth and Metallica) with being highly influential.  Ok I guess, personally for me it was a bunch of old geezers having a good time and if they played my town I would disregard them as a decent garage band, the music was nothing worth really noting and I pressed fast forward (thank the Lord for TIVO!!!) 

After watching this chapter of Sonisphere 2010 the only bands that stood out for me were Swedish metal bands In Flames and Opeth.  I was familiar with In Flames since they recently had a show locally and I am kicking myself for missing the show; they are REALLY good!   Opeth was a complete mystery to me and I was amazed how good they were.

In Flames and Opeth are equally talented bands and exemplify some of the best Death / Progressive metal coming out of Sweden.  I found myself entranced with both bands sound and vocals;  these bands are accomplished masters of the metal sound and have discovered the ability to make quality music.  In Flames, although very good, is somewhat one-dimensional when compared to talents of Opeth. Opeth is clearly more of  a mix of conceptual progressive rock, death metal, and classic rock.  To make it a bit more precise, it would be fair to say that Opeth is a culmination of Dream Theater, early Rush, and Lamb of God mixed all together to create a tasty goop of hard driving riffs, strong choral arrangments, constant time changes, acoustic breaks, and the occasional growling vocals added at the right times. 

What I think appeals to me most about this band is the variety of music they have created over the past decade, albums range from mellow acoustic arrangments echoing with haunting vocals exemplified by the concept albums My Arms, Your Hearse (1998) and Still Life (1999).  Both albums remind me of an early Rush concept album like Hemispheres, not in the vocals but the story line.  In Still Life a character returns to his town after years of banishment due to his faith, a faith that contrasted with the majority and he comes back years later to find his true love. As the album moves forward it introduces those who originally banished him and the bad things that follow. 

Concept albums can be fun; especially when artists use the songs exemplify the chapters and progression of the character and development of a story as a whole; I think Opeth does a good job in these two albums.  As a sidenote, and clearly coincidental, the album My Arms,  Your Hearse offers three instrumental songs, one is named “Madrigal” (as found on Rush’s Farewell to Kings (1977)) luckily it’s not a cover.  Regardless, I still found this humorous; and “Rush-like” quality can be found on the first song off of Still Life called “The Moor”; very Cygnus-X1-like with a journey of soft haunting guitars setting the tone for a deep story full of twists and turns.

Opeth has been smart not to rely on the same recipe for their albums; they keep to a constant style, yet manipulate the arrangments very smartly.  This constant shift from acoustic to metal can be reflected in more recent albums where a much more hard driving non-stop Death metal style of growling vocals and blistering guitars is introduced sparingly.  I liken their albums to a “metal roller coaster ride”, albums may start off with a soft haunting vocal and guitar backdrop and then transition into fast paced dark anger and fury, then back to mellow.  Much of this style can be highlighted on an album such as Blackwater Park (2001); at the same time you can find a mix of both acoustic melodies and metal offered Watershed (2008).  So far I have found that Opeth put out very solid albums that keep the listener enthralled and not yearning to advance to the next song.  It’s actually more anticipation to see what’s next and I like that.

As much as I want to continue writing an indepth analysis about the the body of Opeth’s work, there is simply too many albums and not enough time for me to fairly be overly critical  (positive or negative); however, I can say with great conviction that from what I have heard so far, I am very impressed!

 This band is clearly on to something and I can’t wait to see if they ever have a show in HiFi Central’s hometown of Albany, NY.  If you are interested in learning more about Opeth see if you can snag their Still Life album as a starter; Still Life is one of my current favorites.   If you have seen Opeth or like their music please drop us a comment, we’d love to hear what you think.  If you have not heard them before and decided to check them out via this blog, please let us know if we made a good suggestion or whether we suck at making suggestions.

10
Nov
11

11/11/11 – Nigel Tufnel Day!

Don’t forget that although November 11th is primarily observed in the United States as Veteran’s Day, it will also be the one-time only celebration of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel Day.

The next time to see this rare happening (like a comet) will be in 2111!

Please take the time tomorrow to reaquaint yourself with the cult classic and pay homage to the only true metal rock god who’s equipment (custom made of course!), goes to “11”.

If you are not aware of what I am talking about please click here for the classic scene.

08
Nov
11

Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger: The Egg 11/9/11

I received an email from our local liberal artsy-fartsy venue called The Egg; a venue that HiFi has visited on several occasions to catch excellent past shows like Dweezil Zappa and Al DiMeola.  Most of the time The Egg tends to pander to international dancing acts, modern dance groups, or musicians that often tend to be more underground yet accomplished in their own right, such as Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin.  At times The Egg will have mainstream performers such as ex-Audioslave and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell or Phish bass-player-extrodinaire Mike Gordon rolling through for a rare appearance.  Often these shows are for smaller audiences and thus offer a far more up close and personal experience all around.  My only gripe in the past has been The Egg’s lame ticket policy of offering the best seats to “Egg Members” and then offering the very same seats (if the don’t sell) closer to the actual night of the show instead of when they release them to the general public. 

The Egg has two theaters, one big (Hart Theater – 982 seats) and one small (Swyer Theater – 450 seats); while each theater may reflect half of each size, it can be truly said that there are no bad seats perse.  However, during the Dweezil show (held in the larger Swyer Theater) HiFi was seated far right of the stage and were unable to see the movie screen, bummer, but not the end of the world.  For the DiMeola show it was held in the Hart Theater and it was more than cozy and probably one of the best $35 I’ve spent on a concert; truly worthwhile.

Appearently The Door’s legends Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger are touring and will play the venue on Wednesday, November 9th, cool.  As much as I am curious about an evening with members of The Doors, and I’m sure it will be a solid show, I can’t help but wish the bill included Ian Astbury (ex- The Cult) as the faux-Morrison lead singer.  Astbury has toured with them over the past few years and has imitated Morrison impecably!  I’m not sure if HiFi readers have seen a clip of Astbury channeling Morrison, but it’s pretty friggin’ awesome! 

Since Astbury will not be featured I feel affects the overall price of the tickets; simply listening to Manzarek and Krieger play will cost you the range of $35 – $60, a bit steep in my opinion.  Later in the month at The Egg, the legendary Ray Davies, the lead singer of The Kinks, and is only charging $39 – $49 for tickets! Sorry, but Manzarek and Krieger were merely backing musicians and I can’t justify that kind of cash.  It’s like paying $50 for Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones as a night with Led Zeppelin, but it ain’t.  I dunno, although Manzarek’s keyboards were an integral part to The Doors sound, I just still can’t see spending my hard earned cash.  I’m thinking more 1/2 The Doors = 1/2 the price, no?

If you check the show out I’m sure it will be good, I’m not trying to take anything away from their legacy, but without Astbury providing his rendition of Morrison I’m less inclined to want to spend the money.  I’ve provided you a clip of the Astbury version of “Break On Through” with Manzarek and Krieger backing; tell us if you think the price is worth it without him?

08
Nov
11

Jessie J – Who You Are (2011)

Ok, so for those of you who have been reading this blog for the past three years know that we here at HiFi Central never shy away from controversy, especially when it means reviewing an album out of our usual genre of metal, rock, electronica, etc.  Last year I think we reviewed a Gwar concert and then a Tango album review, so if that doesn’t prove how random and diverse we are here, nothing will.

Much like going to a therapist to reveal some dark hidden secret you have, I must admit (and perhaps, with a bit of guilty pleasure and shame) that I have a place in my heart for what I call “bubblegum music”, yes, the top-40 rotation that often makes your head blow up listening to the same 6 songs  over and over, and over.  Well, to be honest the only time I indulge in this act is when I have a week off during the summer to paint a room in my house; often involving more than paint, more a rehab and then paint.  Regardless, these projects have taken multiple days and I have found myself drawn to the local pop station to get my yearly dose of “bubblegum”; and trust me, a week of this stuff catches me up on the entire year of what’s apparently popular in that genre, ugh.  Honestly, as absurd of a cop out as it may sound, it actually has kept me motivated and focused painting a room.  The reality is that eventually I have heard enough “bubblegum” to know all the words the song and find myself mumbling like a paraniod schizophrenic.  Eventually I complete my home improvement project and then like a hibernating bear, I leave my self-imposed “bubblegum den” and get back to my regular life and what I consider much better music.

So one day, on a lark, I decided to ask someone I knew for the entire Jessie J album just to see if her hit “Price Tag” was a  one-hit wonder off the album, and/or whether there may be some merit to this genre after all.  I guess my curiousity began with this years MTV music awards show; a show that in the past decade has become more of a goofy spectacle of spoiled rotten musicians pandering to clearly a tween population.  Having said this, I was flicking channels one night and came across the show and figured I would watch for a few minutes.  I mean, the only thing more entertaining than the MTV music awards show is watching Billy Mays selling Mighty Putty or perhaps, a hot poker to the eye, your choice.    However, the most entertaining portion of the show was Jessie J belting out her own songs and covers during the intermissions between performances, and the chick can sing!  I was honestly in disbelief; there she was sitting on a mock throne belting out these songs and wearing a leg brace.  Sadly, MTV only showed a snippet of her performances and then faded out to commercial, in my humble opinion SHE was the show and everyone else was her filler, pretty awesome. 

Who You Are is a solid album intially but as usual with pop albums it too gets weaker towards the end.  British born Jessie J (who’s real name is Jessica Ellen Cornish) had been writing songs for other artists over the past few years and remained out of the limelight either by choice or simply timing.  As a debut album, Who You Are  creates for the listener a lively assortment of Cornish’s vocal range and talent, along with very catchy beats and tempo’s.   The first three songs on the album (Price Tag, Nobody’s Perfect, and Abracadabra) are well placed and provide a fun introduction to a variety of unique beats and Cornish’s ability to sing over and with everpresent time changes.  Price Tag is a fun song and appeared to be the signature song of the album and was heavily played on rotation.   It is apparent that Cornish sings with a geniune amount of emotion and passion with each of her song’s, and this can be especially reflected with the song Nobody’s Perfect

The album takes a detour with a live performance of Big White Room; I feel that this was very clever on Cornish’s part since it provides some real authenticity to her album and ability to sing.  “Authenticity” is something I feel is often lacking from most pop performers; their great in the studio yet terrible on stage; clearly not for Cornish.  At first listen, I had no idea that it was a live performance until the crowd erupted with applause. 

The next song Casualty of Love is ok, a bit mellow yet appropriately placed in the middle of the album, it is clearly a soulful ballad with its own merits deserved.  The song Rainbow brings the listener back to the upbeat tempo of a classic pop album, it’s nothing really worth noting other than its beat.  To be brutally honest, it feels like a blatant corny ethical message about racial equality and how we are “all colors of the rainbow”. barf! Perhaps this would appeal to Roy G. Biv or leprechauns but for me it just feels cheezy, the listener will be forced to skip to the next song in anticipation of something better.

Who’s Laughing Now is clearly Cornish’s personal statement and moment of justification towards all of those who ever doubted her talent or dreams now that she has made it.   Although it’s a fun song it feels very plastic and childish; not what I would consider her best song; I would have left it for a b-side.  Do It Like A Dude is a song with a good beat, but it  makes me feel uncomfortable to play anywhere other than my car with the windows rolled up.  In this song Cornish does her best to singilke she’s tough and attempts to compare herself to being able to “do it like”a brother”, huh, what?  At one point Cornish attempts a reggae-dancehall accent, although a noble attempt it is probably best left to the professionals from Jamaica.  If she sang this at the MTV music awards I can only imagine what Little Wayne, Jay Z, Rihanna and Nikki Minaj must have been thinking about some white British chick singing about “doin’ like a brother”?  While it’s a interesting song, again, I think it’s where her album begins its downward slump. 

Song’s like Mama Knows Best, L.O.V.E, and Stand Up are nothing worth writing about and actually create for the album a repetative quality and where I begin to lose interest very quickly once again (sigh).  Perhaps the only redeeming quality is the song I Need This, since once again it shows off her vocal talents and is not too over produced.  The last track is the title-track of the album Who You Are, and while a good way to end an album on a mellow note, it seems more appropriately placed in a movie soundtrack compilation, it’s good, but not mind-blowing.

The album starts off well with the first 5 or 6 songs and then quickly, as most pop albums, becomes all the same often making the listener fall in love with the just the hits and disregarding the filler.  As I mentioned before, Cornish is very talented and I think that she has my respect after watching the MTV music award performances, but her album is fun for only a few select songs. 

Jessie J’s Who You Are gets 3.0 out of 5

04
Nov
11

Ye Upper Crust – true Rock Nobility

After reading the last post about the band Shpongle and then watching the video I began to chuckle when I saw the chick with the mask and white wig; thoughts all started streaming back about a band I use to see in Boston from time to time named Upper Crust.  With band members  such as Jackie Kickassis, Count Bassie, Lord Bendover, and Duc D’istortion, how can you not love these guys?

Although the make up, wigs, and baroque  schtick was pretty outlandish; these guys actually can play a pretty solid set of punkish rock and rock-a-billy style songs, always entertaining and always full of non-stop energy.  It’s been years since I’ve seen them and I guess they do play from time to time.  Although I’m no die hard fan perse, I felt compelled to mention Upper Crust for the hell of it.  If you want to learn more about these privileged and pompous Earl’s of electric audacity, please check out their website by clicking here.

31
Oct
11

Shonen Knife – Japan’s Punk Queens on Tour!

While checking out the local club scene about upcoming acts online  this past Tuesday I noticed that the legendary Japanese rock trio Shonen Knife was coming to HiFi Central’s stomping ground of Albany, NY.  The venue is Valentine’s which is a shoe-box of a club normally associated with local hardcore and rock acts that I often choose to overlook on a  regular basis; however though, at times they have had some national acts roll through worth checking out.  The last band that  I wished I had known about was the California rock group Dada; one of the best nationally unknown rock bands to come out the 1990’s.  It would have truly been pretty incredible to see them that close and personal, bummer I missed it.

So, after missing that show I’ve checked the listing from time to time just to see who may be randomly doing a one-night stand.  Well, clearly the waiting and random checking of their site has been well worth the effort since Shonen Knife will be dropping by on Sunday, November 20th (18+ show).  Shonen Knife has been around since 1981; the only remaining member making Shonen Knife still Shonen Knife  is lead singer and guitarist Naoko Yamano.  The remaining founding members Atsuko Yamano (Naoko’s sister) and Michie Nakatani left the band to pursue other interests, but the replacements for these members have held their own over the course of the last decade never losing the true Shonen Knife sound.

Over the course of the past 20 years the band has released 19 albums and toured with the likes of  Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Mudhoney, and perhaps the coolest bragging right, Nirvana.  The band has appeared on the BBC with famed rock radio host John Peel,  performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and has been featured on MTV’s 12o Minutes.  The band was a featured act on 1994’s Lollapalooza tour as well.  So, even though they have not reached the heights of fame since their decade long run in the 1990’s, they still have a loyal following and are anything but a goofy band hanging on to remnants of fame.

HiFi is heading to this show with great anticipation; I would not be surprised if it might be the last chance for you to see them in the US for some while.  This tour is supporting a Ramones tribute album entitled “Osaka Ramones” released this past July, so I’m sure that it should be a fun and unique show!  Get your tickets soon since it will be sold out, especially since Valentine’s only holds about 50 patrons; and be sure sure to bring your earplugs!

HiFi will provide a full review of this show, so check back.

You can check more out about the Valentines show by clicking here.

You can check out some samples of Shonen Knife’s “Osaka Ramones” by clicking here.




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