Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

January 2020 – Part 2

Here is the Spotify playlist that covers both posts.

The January 2020 Part 1 post is here.

There’s a worldwide revolution happening to the ears of music consumers and it’s all because of the internet.

You see, when the music distribution chain was decimated by Napster and not dominated by the US labels and their affiliates, suddenly everyone could play in this new world. But this new world didn’t really take off until Spotify started. This streaming tool and all the different digital distributors that have appeared in the last 10 years made this new world a reality.

And artists are coming up from every corner of the world to play.

My previous 2020 list had an artist from Mongolia on it. The list below has bands from Finland, Mexico, U.S, Sweden, England, Wales, Italy and Canada. And as a fan of music, it’s a great time to be alive because a lot of the music below would probably have been available via import in Australia.

Poets Of The Fall – King Of Fools

These dudes from Finland can rock but this is an acoustic piece from a Theatre session album released on Spotify.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Mettal EP

I love this EP and the work these two do.

They cover “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” from Megadeth, “Battery” from Metallica and “Season In The Abyss” from Slayer.

How can you not like it?

Especially the way Gabriela percussively lays down a rhythmic foundation and flamenco’s her way through it all. The true star of this duo.

Khymera – Walk Away

I love me a dose of melodic rock Euro style. Nothing earth shattering original but a great listen and excellent musicianship, plus a keyboard lick that’s addictive like sugar.

H.E.A.T – Come Clean

Another melodic rock gem and the Frontiers label is cleaning up in this era. They have kept the style alive for so many years.

Asking Alexandria – Rise Up

This isn’t a January 2020 release song, but it came into my life this year via a Spotify “Rise Up” playlist. And I like it.

Pop Evil – Divide

Same deal with this song. It didn’t come out in January 2020, but it came into my life via the same “Spotify “Rise Up” playlist.

Allen/Olzon – Worlds Apart

Russell Allen is a great vocalist and so is Annette Olzon and this is another cool Frontiers project full of melodic metal.

“Worlds apart, no matter how close we are”

What a great line.

Because it happens, you can be in the same room and be worlds apart, even more so these days with our tech devices giving us access to communicate with people from all over the world, instantly.

Those Damn Crows – Never Win

From Wales and their new album “Point Of No Return” came out this year.

A solemn piano riff kicks off the song and I was interested.

Then the vocal melody starts and I pressed like.

If I worked to the bone, pay for all we own, would you let me in?

Sometimes the expectations of others is a chain around the neck. How can we measure up when the rules are made up every day and are constantly changing?

There’s no more I can do, I have proved to you, I will never win…

Relationships are a compromise. How much people are prepared to compromise determines how the relationship goes.

I know we were far from perfect but I fought so hard for you

I’ve had friends who told me they never argued, until they did and separated. Arguments are a part of life and relationships are littered with them. At first it’s towards each other and why things got said. Then when children come, the arguments are about them. And there is financial pressure and suddenly someone is suffering in the relationship.

I can never win

It’s better to walk away than stay.

Breaking Benjamin – Aurora album

I’m a fan of this band and have been since the “Phobia” album.

My friend once described their music as depressing, but it’s exactly why I like this band, because life is not perfect. If you want to hear Breaking Benjamin do some of their classic songs in acoustic format, then “Aurora” is a perfect album.

Dirty Shirley

How dirty can Shirley get and how many more projects can George Lynch be involved in?

“I Disappear” is heavy foot stomper, “The Dying” sounds like it came from George Lynch’s “Sacred Groove” album and “Siren Song” sounds like a “Tooth N Nail” cut with just a mild distorted sound.

And its cool how the Frontiers label is getting people from different countries but with similar tastes, to write and create.

Dino Jelusick is one hell of a vocalist and from Croatia. There are YouTube videos of him doing “The Last Time”, a Badlands cover and his band “Animal Drive” released a covers EP of some hard rock gems along with a full length album.

But this dude needs more exposure and George Lynch is always up for a project because he knows that to survive in the current market it’s all about creativity. And once they added Will Hunt on drums Dirty Shirley became to be.

And the jury is out if these little projects are actually working or just a copyright grab from Frontiers to secure as many copyrights as it can, so they have a better negotiating position when it comes to streaming deals.

But like Revolution Saints, I would like to see Dirty Shirley get a few more chances to record albums on Frontiers.

British Lion – Last Chance

Do we listen to British Lion to hear Steve Harris recreate Iron Maiden or do we listen to this to hear Steve Harris do something different?

“Last Chance” is a good track. It starts off with an apreggiated riff which reminds me of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. At 55 seconds the song kicks in and Steve’s bass is rolling along.

How good is that lick from the 1.15 mark?

The verse riff is brilliant.

And the vocals are an acquired taste.

If you listen to this and expect Dickinson style vocals, then don’t bother.

I read a live review that blasted the vocals in a live setting and how the vocalist lacked any charisma and stage presence. Maybe so, but from the sound of the voice, the vocalist sounds more like an acoustic melancholic singer than a rocker. Even the debut had that same vocal vibe.

“Is this the end of me and you?”

Not really, I will give British Lion another chance.

Storm Force – “Age of Fear” album

This album surprised me and made me press like on a lot of songs and thanks to the Thunder Bay blog for sharing their music with us.

Opening track “Because Of You” has the symphonic keys for about 50 seconds before it goes into a “Won’t Get Fooled Again” style riff from The Who and once the verses kick in, I felt like I was listening to a seventies act.

“I heard on the news today, it’s all about to change, but I think well be okay”

The human spirit sees hope in all situations, because our DNA coding is to survive and we find that strength in ourselves and because of others.

“Age Of Fear” is a foot stomper of a title track with Scorpions like harmonies in the intro.

“It’s the age of fear, where you spread your made up stories”

It’s a sign of the times when everyone surrounds themselves in their own echo chambers and the people in power are trying to influence others by spreading fake stories.

“Breathe – Words” starts off ominous and the opening lyric sets the tone of depression.

“You’ve got nothing to live for, nothing to wish for, nothing to hold on”

There is always something to live for, something to wish for and something to hold on to. Resilience and survival go hand in hand.

“Breathe with me, just let it all go”

That’s all we want in life, someone to talk to and breathe with.

“Breathe with me, just take control”

Take control, let the past die and embrace the day, for you have everything to live for.

“Ride Like Hell” makes me want to jump in the car and speed 55. And there a lot other good tracks on this, so it’s worth the check out.

And this is a wrap for January 2020.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Best Of January 2020 – Part 1

My end of year lists this year will be a simple post as I’m wrapping up each month this time around. And here we start with January.

Saint Asonia – The “Flawed Design” album

No one even knows the personnel in this band and the platinum awards they have had as previous members of “Staind” and “Three Days Grace”. It’s the times we live in. Everyone is unknown, unless you’ve released a sex tape.

So, in case you are not aware, Adam Gontier from Three Days Grace is on vocals and Mike Mushok from Staind is on guitars. And this time around, they have surrounded themselves with some heavy duty guest vocalists.

“Sirens” features Sharon Den Adel from Within Temptation (who have filled the void left behind when Amy Lee decided to put Evanescence on hold) to awesome effect.

Have we been standing on an empire?
When every floor is made of sand

That sinking feeling when you know that everything you owned or thought you had sinks and disappears. Because history always carries a lesson of empires falling and new opportunities arising, of people losing everything and finding hope to rise again.

“Beast” and “The Fallen” are all great songs along with “The Hunted” which features Sully Erna on vocals.

I’m fighting with this beast inside
Will it ever die? Will it ever leave me alone?
Leave me alone

That inner fire, the voice which whispers to get back up when you are knocked down, is the same beast that fires rage and hate when the fight or flight trigger is pushed. It never leaves us, its always there.

It’s the way life goes
When we are waken we get taken

From “The Fallen”, about a life who struggles to find clarity and purpose and once they find the answers, it’s too late as their time on this Earth is at an end.

The Hu – Wolf Totem

The version with Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach crosses over brilliantly.

The song isn’t original in its riffage, but its original in its sound, with the use of native Mongolian instruments. And if the feel and groove of this song doesn’t get you pumped up for a fight, nothing will.

If the lions want war we go fight em till the battle ends
If the tigers come running we go fight em till the battle ends

And the madness begins.

Smile Empty Soul – Hang Your Head

The main riff of “Hang Your Head” got me re-interested in the band. There was a period the band had me as a fan and then sort of lost me.  But they got me back again.

The dark machine will crush your dreams again

I’m not sure what the song is about, but the lyric sticks with me because the dark machine can be our thoughts, our fears, our devotion to the family and to not disappoint them.

CrashCarBurn – Under A Falling Sky

It’s s a great song.

Suddenly we find ourselves faced with overwhelming odds

What a great lyric to kick off the verse. A snapshot of society and the pressures to survive in this fast paced world.

Undivided enemies, they come to change the way we see things

We cant escape the hive mind, manipulated and controlled by strings we cannot see who try to change and control who we are.

Mustasch – Go To Hell

“Go To Hell” sounds like it’s got elements of “Run Like Hell” from Pink Floyd.

And these moustached dudes from Sweden really take their love of hard rock and classic metal into the modern world with a metal kick up the butt.

And I love this song as they just sit on this groove which makes me want to break my desk in half with abilities I don’t really possess.

Archon Angel – Fallen

Zachary Stevens from Savatage has such a unique singing style and voice, its so easily recognizable for any fan who has owned a Savatage album from “Edge Of Thorns”.

Here along the distant road lie memories as thoughts unfold

We’ve all been there, cruising in our cars, thinking and contemplating and replaying events from the past and dreaming of a future.

Life is full of forceful lies

Do we really tell the truth to each other?

We are left alone to find our way

We might have mentors and parents and others to help us and provide advice, but the journey is lonely and the decisions are ours, and ours alone.

I’ve waited so long but the dream never came

Because utopia never survives reality. Our emotions and needs and wants always divert us from our paths. But then again, no one said the path to achieving dreams is all straight and easy.

The Night Flight Orchestra – Divinlys

I am a sucker for the melodic rock approach of TNFO. It’s another song which sounds like many of their songs that came before, but still pleasurable to listen to with its modern take on an old sound.

And I always love how most of their songs start off with that double time drum beat. I call it the “Strutter” beat.

Free Spirits Rising – I Would Love To Rock The World

Drums, bass and a call to the promoters trying to get a show kicks off the song about a person wanting to rock the world and who wouldn’t want to rock the world.

Sign me up please.

But then all the messages left are unanswered trying to give rock a go. Still, I would like to sign up because by the end of the song, he would do it all again if given a chance.

Sons of Apollo – Desolate July

The album is a disappointment compared to the debut. But that’s okay, the debut had enough there to keep me interested in the band. And the standout track is “Desolate July” as it kicks off with a massive bell ringing, which reminds me of “Hells Bells” and “For Whom The Bells Toll”, but it sounds like neither. Instead it’s a retrospective slower tempo rocker.

And “Desolate July” is about David Z, the bass player for Adrenaline Mob who died tragically when an out of control truck hit their touring van stopped on the side of a road.

Without reason / A dream becomes a tragedy / I’m still not believin’ / Is this reality?

And it’s reality, that someone who is doing what they love, like playing music for a living, loses their life.

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

He’s coping flak for writing with Elton John, but he never wrote with Elton John. Elton just sings on a second verse. The song is written by other musicians like Duff, Chad and Andrew Watts. Plus Slash delivers a killer solo, while Duff and Chad Smith deliver a great foundation.

And it sounds like other ballads that Ozzy has done like “So Tired” and “Road To Nowhere” and “Old LA Tonight”. But it still rocks.

The Ragged Saints – Secret In Our Hearts

Another melodic rock gem which is a modern take on an old sound. And I’ve been a fan of this band from Melbourne, Australia, since their 2013 album called “The Sound Of Breaking Free” entered my life via a cyberlocker that specialised in melodic rock titles. Yes I obtained it illegally.

The album, “Sonic Playground Revisited” also came out a few days ago and “Absence Of Light” really stood out, with it’s Rainbow/Malmsteen (Odyssey) era feel along with “Turning Cold” which has this Aussie pop rock sound crossed with Euro melodic rock.

Mark Morton – Ether album

Mark Morton is really showcasing his diversity. He is so much more than just the guitarist in Lamb Of God.

“All I Had To Lose” and “Black” (Pearl Jam cover) feature Mark Morales on vocals, “Love My Enemy” features Howard Jones, “The Fight” features John Carbone on vocals and “She Talks To Angels” features Lzzy Hale. Here is a pretty cool review.

Shakra – Too Much Is Not Enough

The riffing has this Five Finger Death Punch vibe, and it connects and the vocals are melodic.

Apocalyptica – Rise

I felt like crying and I still felt hopeful at the same time.

Jasta, Howard Jones – Heaven Gets What It Wants

Jasta is another artist that is showing his diversity and songwriting chops. Hatebreed is what brought him to the masses, and he wrote and produced most of the songs for Dee Snider’s solo album “For The Love Of Metal” and his solo output is a who’s who of modern metal talents. And on top of that, he has his highly successful podcast.

Avenged Sevenfold – Set Me Free

When this band plays straight ahead metal and rock, I’m in.

And there is a lot of guitar here, which I dig especially when that open string lead break starts about the 4.10 minute mark.

This track also hooks me, because it was recorded for 2013’s “Hail To The King” album, which is my favourite album (their sort of “Black” album) and it’s just behind their self-titled “White” album.

Red – Sever

I really like this band. The moods they create with the music and the vocals just resonate.

Paralyzed the soul that I bared again
I gave more than I could give

We don’t know how much we have given until we are back on our own and doing all the things we stopped doing while we kept a relationship going.

Time won’t stop another setting sun
Facing this pain like a loaded gun

There is one thing certain in life, time always moves forward, never back. And unresolved emotions and memories from the past, will never go away unless they are settled and resolved.

With the turning of this knife
I’ll sever

That’s it Part 1 done, Part 2 coming up.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

Decade Of Teachings

DONT SELL YOUR RIGHTS

The recording business thrived on getting artists to sells their rights to the labels in a shot at fame. And the label would keep the bulk of the sales/payments. So when sales started to decline and streaming started to rise, the artists who did not sell their rights or got their rights back, started to grin.

PAYMENTS

You will get paid as long as people keep listening. Or do what Dave Coverdale does with his anniversary editions.

MARKETING

It’s all about word of mouth. What the press promotes, does not crossover to public acceptance anymore.

TOURING

Artists who can play get an audience on the road once they have some streaming numbers on cities. So they build online and capitalize on the road.

ONCE

One offs are one offs. They never happen again to the same scale like Radiohead’s pay what you want model or Kickstarter fan funding to the tune of a millions or PSY’s “Gangnam Style” viral video or Guitar Hero consoles.

STREAMING

Promoters book you based on your streaming numbers. And in most cases, artists break on streaming services before radio and music news websites jump on the bandwagon.

SUPERSTARS

Everyone can play the modern game and if you look at peoples EOY lists for favorite releases, there is a lot of variance.

A lot of variation and each fan has an act which they see as superstars.

So the days of an artist crossing over into the conversation on all levels is done. Satisfy your core, who will sustain you.

RELATIONSHIPS

It’s between the artist and the fan, not the label or the promoter. If the artist doesn’t have that fan relationship, the labels and the promoter make nothing.

PLAYLISTS

Don’t waste time or money trying to get onto a playlist with the hope that you will be discovered. It doesn’t work and to make it work, costs time and money, which nobody wants to pay to fix because streaming services haven’t made any profits yet. And the record labels are just takers.

REPETITION

It hardly exists. Skimming and skipping tracks is the current emperor. But when we do get hooked then we listen forever.

NEW MUSIC

Create because you want to create. Don’t be like the artists who say “it’s not worth it, to write and release new music”.

Don’t put money first.

SAFETY NET

There isn’t one in music. Just because you spend time creating, it doesn’t mean you will be taken off financially.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Don’t waste too much time each day on promoting yourself there. Keep writing and releasing. 10 percent of your followers/fans on these accounts make up your fan base. The rest are not interested.

And use social media to your advantage.

There is no need to do a press tour and interviews with various websites. All you are doing is driving traffic to them who then use it to sell ads.

Drive traffic to you.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Persistence and the meaning of Making It

I just came back from a shopping experience with the wife and the kids.  You leave in the morning, happy, all together and as a family.  You come home, angry with each other, yelling at each other and wondering where did it all go wrong.

Does the above sound familiar to any bands out there?  How many rock stars have called the band they are in FAMILY?  Let me tell you.  That is complete B.S.  Bands are not families and never will be.

90% of the bands have one or two people working hard to get the band running.  In most cases, the songwriting is even done by the same one to two people.  All the organising comes from the same people.  For a while, this is cool, however it then comes to a point where it all explodes or implode’s (depending on which side of the line you are on).  Bands are dysfunctional.  Anyone that tells you differently is a liar.

The difference between a band/artist making it or not making it is persistence.  It could be the love of the music that keeps them going or it could be something else.

Now making it, to me has a different meaning to what others have it.  Making it is being able to live off your music/art.  It doesn’t mean that you are rich.  It doesn’t mean that you sell out arena’s.  It doesn’t mean that you are the mainstreams darling.  It means that you have found a niche, and that niche has found you, and you are in this ride together supporting each other.  You deliver music that the niche desires and the niche rewards you with the support that they desire.  You can make payments on loans and keep the lights on.

So if you are in a band (which to me, is a ridiculous idea if you are the main songwriter) and you expect to be famous like Bon Jovi.  Guess what, it aint going to happen.  The entry-level into music these days is zero.  The gatekeeper model of the past has lost its war with the internet.  Distribution was controlled by the Record Labels.  Not anymore.  Marketing before, was to over saturate the mainstream media outlets like radio, TV, magazines and newspapers with the hope that people will buy blind.  The majors still do this.  The Justin Timberlake 20/20 promotion is living proof, where I even saw his posters in a heavy metal section of a record shop.  Yeah, his album moved a million units in its first four weeks, however, will it have longevity, like Def Leppard’s Hysteria, Adele’s 21.

So what does this mean for you.  How do you get from Point A – starting out to Point Z – making it.

Persistence.  You can never reach Point Z if you quit.  You need to be on this road forever.  Once you are clear on that, you can start the journey.  The first part of the journey is building connections.  These connections are not built by promoting a song you have just released, or telling people you are writing this great song and you can’t wait for them to hear it.

Connections are built by life experiences.  Talk about a concert you went too and how did it make you feel.  Others that went to that concert could latch on.   Talk about your life experiences and pretty soon, hundreds of others will connect that have similar experiences.  That is the start.  Build on it.  Leave the music/art promoting out of it to begin with.

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