Success has a way of messing with a good band. First world problems compared to the millions of bands that never make it, sure. However, so often when an emerging band that has fast become a genre leader, big corporate record labels can foul up the flow. This was almost the case of White Pony by Deftones, and the case where the hype was lived up to by pencil pushers, bean counters, and greed almost wrecked the game. White Pony is the band’s pivotal third album, where they built off the stylistic changes that came in with Around The Fur (Maverick) and pushed their sound further than before. In the process, they severed themselves far from the Nu-Metal wave that was exploding at the time and firmly created a new camp of “Deftones Music” as a category. That is, until, the label got in their business later on. Continue reading
Well-known singer, Daniel Tompkins kicked down doors as the vocalist for progressive music scene bands like TesseracT and Skyharbor. He has a legion of fans and has managed to reinvent himself on every release in his career. In the background, he has been working on solo material what would eventually become his debut solo album. Finding common ground with Russian producer Dmitry Stepanov, Tompkins is ready to shatter fans expectations for what they have come to expect from him, revealing new levels of artistry only hinted at. Freed from the genre rules or really any expectations, Castles (Kscope) arrives free of conventions or any other weird airs most signers fall prey to when they create a solo album. Continue reading
While being able to pull together a record as eclectic as The Road: Part I back in 2017 was certainly no easy task, being able to produce a follow-up that exceeds it in ambition, as well as a run-time, is almost herculean. The hero’s journey is wrought with dangers, but the founder of the acclaimed electronic outfit, James Lavelle, is not one to shy away from a challenge, and with The Road: Part II (Lost Highway) (Songs for the Def) we’re not so much retreading old ground as we are revisiting it with a fresh perspective. Continue reading
One of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2018 back into the spotlight. Jokes about another musical project impeding the appearance of a new Tool album aside (categorically untrue, but funny) the much-loved and missed band hasn’t so much as roared back into the light to get our attention, as they rolled through with a purposeful stride and made themselves known by clearing their throats. “Ahem. Pay attention dumbass.” What presents itself for inspection might be the best release from the band yet.
In France’s hugely abundant and ever reaching music scene, Fursy Teyssier is a name that should be heralded as a driving force and an important figurehead within its wealth. Formerly a part of both Alcest and Amesoeurs’ fabric (in different capacities), Les Discrets is Teyssier’s main outlet today and represented a chance to branch out in artistic ways he could not in previous. With such a pedigree in the Shoegaze/Black Metal that Alcest are especially renowned for, it may surprise many to see the stylistic shift that third full length Prédateurs (Prophecy) has undertaken; but its sheer quality and artistic integrity should not be a shock. Continue reading
When Blur reactivated in 2008 with founding member Graham Coxon, it was a cause for great celebration among fans and the music press. Coxon was really the author of the sound of the band at their pinnacle, along with front man Damon Albarn’s chameleon voice, that put the band on the map during the Brit-Pop explosion of the 90s. But twelve years between albums can be a killer prospect for many artists, especially these days. The band found inspiration to churn out a new album after a chance extended stay in Hong Kong after a canceled tour. That experience is all over the finished result of The Magic Whip (Parlophone) and it’s brilliant.
While every band and other mother is jumping on some sort of revival bandwagon, Blur is not tripping on their own toes. They have turned in a thoughtful and passionate album that furthers stretches out their legacy, rather than repeats it. From the introspective opener ‘Lonsome Street’, and the sleepy ‘New World Towers’, to the electro-folk pondering of ‘Ice Cream Man’, Coxon and Albarn still have a knack for slick songcraft. ‘Go Out’ rocks with a twangy chord progression right out of the work of Carl Perkins. There is more terrific guitar work here as well as the ultra catchy sing-a-long ear-worm part under the chorus. ‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’ might be the album’s centerpiece, philosophical, patient and rewarding. With deft dynamic elements and post-trip hop beats, this track just burrows into your chest and holds your heart.
And it still rocks in spots too. ‘I Broadcast’ and ‘My Terracotta Heart’ don’t rage with the vitriol, but are driving tracks that demand your attention. Other ones such as there ‘Are Too Many of Us’ and ‘Ghost Ship’ sounds as if the late 70s Rolling Stones met up with New Order in 1988 to write some jams. The balladry of closing song ‘Mirroball’ is not a dirge, nor a celebration, but a memory made to last in you, long after the final guitar lines reverberate and dissolve.
Blur is back ladies and gentlemen, and showing us all how a band makes a comeback album without trying too hard at all.
As sometimes happens in the world of music journalism, one finds out last minute that they are going to a show that night. A quick shift in gears in order to make it to the show on time, and it’s off to the races, er the venue. Lucky for me weeknights in Boston are easier to get around than other cities I have lived in, and I wanted to get in just after doors opened. I had a chance to grab a rare weeknight adult beverage, mingle with my Metal New England crew, and catch opener’s Death Valley High. It was definitely an odd mix of metal fans in the room, obviously brought out mainly for Chino Moreno and his new band Crosses or †††, and vis a vie his other notable groups Deftones and Team Sleep.
Death Valley High hit the stage and they seemed to have ten guys in the band, packed on to the little stage taken up with gear. It was really only a handful of dudes, but they had a stage presence you couldn’t help but notice. They we’re a wake up call to the crowd that certainly wasn’t expecting this. Front man Reyka Osburn, with his Adam-Ant ca. 1982 make up job, is a one-man tornado on the stage. Screaming into the mike, playing guitar, and just generally whipping the crowd into a frenzy, he certainly was entertaining. It took the audience a few songs to grasp the deft blend of Nine Inch Nails style arena ready electro-goth, alt- rock posturing, with some legit throwback 80s synth work, but I dug it right away. The burned through a bunch of songs from their debut Positive Euth (Minus Head Records) and even tossed in a brief cover of ‘Rebel Yell’ by Billy Idol that has people moshing. By the time the band was ready to leave the stage and mentioned it was their first ever show in Boston, the crowd gave them a big reaction, for a little known opener.
Normally a band like Nostalghia comes along and I am all about it. Those that read these reviews of mine, perhaps think of me as a meat-and potatoes prog-rock nerd and thrash junkie going back to my childhood. But on a normal day the weirder and more out of the box a band is, the more I am apt to give them a fair shake and check them out. I prefaced this all with a detour into Keefy-land because Nostalghia came on the stage and instead of setting an ethereal mood before the headliners, they sucked all the energy and good vibes out of the room. I just wasn’t feeling it, and by the bewildered looks in the room, many felt the same way. Likely in a different setting than this, I will give them another chance, but tonight they didn’t impress me one iota.
After getting some fresh air and a fresh beer I was ready for Chino and †††. Obviously the band is not just about Chino, but he does tends to be the focal point in anything he does, doesn’t he? The group is as much as Shaun Lopez (Far) and Chuck Doom’s as it is Chino ‘s pet project, the music being the sum of their combined creativity. Also much hyped is whether the band is a witch-house group, but I hate to break it to the sub-genre gestapo, they are not. Still, they hit the stage slowly as if we were at an art presentation, coming out one at a time to opening track ‘†hholyghs†’ as the final reveal. Chino is a smooth bastard if nothing else, acknowledging the audible oohs and ahhs from both sexes as he came out. It was an orgy of Chino fangirl and fanboy worship that made me wince with every orgasmic “I love you Chino!” cried out, but at least he lived up to it with his performance.
The band was excellent as they cut through just about every song in the bands catalogue. Chino, in this setting is more like a Jazz chanteuse or a 70s R&B crooner; adopting his breathy soulful feminine wail, for the club acoustics and improvising here and there with certain phrases. There is no cheating live with Chino as so many others do, and he was in fine voice. He certainly enjoyed himself here and frequently stepped on to speakers that brought him closer to the crowd, each time making a connection with the fans. The unsung hero of the band is Lopez, who laid down a wonderful torrent of droning guitar parts, and slick keyboard work. If I had only one complaint tonight it was the electronic snare sound of Dino Campanella on the drums. The guy is a powerhouse player and a fine performer. However, he alternated between two clackity clacking snare timbres that ranged from mildly annoying to grating on my last fucking nerve all night. Oh well.
Most of the night the audience was transported away between lush trip-hop and pop anthems, to shimmering post-rock flourishes. The killer set list included hits like ‘Bi†ches Brew’ and ‘†he Epilogue’, but also the underrated numbers like ‘Blk S†allion’. The simple stage set up with just the minmal giant crosses with alternating lights fit the music perfectly sparse. Someone should give their lighting designer a medal, because i have have seen folks go too far in the past. When they came back out to the steamy, packed room for the encore and did a cover of ‘Goodbye Horses’, I totally started freaking out and lost my shit. The song made famous by Q Lazzarus is famous for its inclusion in the film The Silence of Lambs and now has a big place in pop culture too. Being a massive fan of anything Thomas Harris, I went berzerk. The cover was totally unironic and worked well with the bands musical style. Closing out a fun night with ‘†he Years’, everyone was left exhausted and satisfied.
††† Set List:
†his Is a †rick
Nine†een Eigh†y Seven
Goodbye Horses (Q Lazzarus cover)
Nostalghia on Facebook
WORDS BY KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
PHOTOS BY GREG WALKOWIAK