Music, My Stories, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Derivative Works, Unsung Heroes

Australian Method Series; Airbourne – Black Dog Barking

“Black Dog Barking” is album number three, released in May 2013 via Roadrunner Records.

By now, everyone knew that Airbourne sounds like AC/DC.

But on this album, they amped up the AC/DC sounds with a bit of 80s rock like Cinderella and the first two albums from Def Leppard along with some Euro Metal like Scorpions.

And those backing vocals.

The Personnel for the album is Joel O’Keeffe on Vocals and Lead Guitar, David Roads on Rhythm Guitar, Justin Street on ass and Ryan O’Keeffe on Drums.

Producer Brian Howes has worked on the slick productions with Nickelback and Puddle Of Mudd, but on this album he captures the energy of the band performing live.

Ready to Rock

The blast out of the gate with it. It’s loud, aggressive and it feels like a circle pit punch up in a pub.

Animalize

I think of Kiss and Paul Stanley singing this tune.

No One Fits Me (Better Than You)

A take on “Let Me Put My Love Into You”.

Back in the Game

This one is the best song, bringing that Acca Rock and Euro/80s Rock vibe. There are Whitesnake, Cinderella, AC/DC and Scorpions influences.

Firepower

This one reminds me of “Let It Go” from Def Leppard in the verses and I like it.

Live It Up

The whole Intro is Acca Dacca with that open string acting as a pedal point while a melodic riff is played on the other notes. Think of the Intro to “For Those About To Rock”.

Woman Like That

This could be on a Bon Jovi album or a Cinderella album and not be out of place.

Hungry

Another favorite, which borders on speed rock.

More WASP like and it has a cool Spanish like guitar lead,

Cradle to the Grave

Crank it and enjoy. While the verses are stock standard hard rock, the Chorus has some of that Euro arpeggios.

Black Dog Barking

It closes with the barking and aggressive title track.

Airbourne does what they’re good at, the same way that AC/DC does what they’re good at.

Its better produced and the songwriting is concise, as the album is done in under 38 minutes.

This is rock’n’roll, the way it should be. Loud, aggressive, dumb and no ballads.

And Joel O’Keeffe gets a lot of credit for his vocal chops, i also believe that his Lead Guitar playing should also get some notice.

Because the dude can play.

Crank it.

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Australian Method Series: Airbourne – No Guts No Glory

Released in March 2010, “No Guts. No Glory.” is album number 2 for Airbourne, the follow-up to their 2007 debut “Runnin’ Wild”. While the debut caught a lot of people by surprise, the follow up was anticipated. On the same day of its release, the “Iron Man 2” soundtrack hit the shelves, which is seen as an AC/DC “Greatest Hits”.

You can’t get too much Acca Rock.

The album cover forecasts what the album would sound like. There is a steel works, an out of control truck driven by Lemmy, alcohol, women, raising the flag at the Eureka Stockade, a twister, the band and an Explorer guitar raised high like a trophy by one of the band members.

Airbourne is Joel O’Keeffe on lead vocals and lead guitar, David Roads on rhythm guitar, Justin Street on bass and Ryan O’Keeffe on drums. Production is handled by Johnny K and mixing is done by Mike Fraser. All songs are written by Joel O’Keeffe and Ryan O’Keeffe.

The album was recorded in Chicago at Johnny K’s studio. The band even slept in the studio.

“Born to Kill”

The intro guitar lick is like an out of tune national anthem. Then the rock and roll power starts, to kick off a song about being in a rock and roll band, being loud and doing what you love.

“No Way But the Hard Way”

It feels like “Rock N Roll Aint Noise Pollution”.

The idea of the song originated when the guys in the band lived together in a house (like a band house), while on welfare payments and trying to get the band up and running, and noticed.

As told by the band members in the track by track breakdown of the album on YouTube, after the album was released they were touring in Canada. The vehicle they were in, skidded off the road. They were stuck in freezing conditions for 24 hours, waiting for help.

No way but the hard way indeed. It’s a very Bon Scott like title.

And the film clip has them taking their rage out on the record labels as they enter the office of one and smash it all to bits. As I read in one interview, the labels are big powerful monsters who get demos from thousands of bands so they could put it in a box and never respond. So it was an F.U to them.

“Blonde, Bad and Beautiful”

“For Those About To Rock” or “Powerage” gets a makeover into a “Blonde, Bad and Beautiful” wrecking ball woman with long legs and the moves to break a man.

“Raise the Flag”

An anthem. Airbourne hit the market at the right time, just when AC/DC’s album output was slowing down and they quickly became the next best thing.

So if you love rock and roll, raise the flag. That’s the simple message of the song.

And how good is the intro?

“Bottom of the Well”

The title is self-explanatory, from being in a crap situation to turning it around. This song is more Kiss than AC/DC.

“White Line Fever”

More Kix like but still sounding like it came from the Aussie Pubs. Lyrically, I guess it’s that time again when you’re feeling stressed out.

“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”

The fastest track on the album. Like “Let There Be Rock” just faster.

“Steel Town”

It was written for people from working class towns. Australia has a few “steel cities” so a lot of their fans here can relate.

“Chewin’ the Fat”

Read the lyrics. It sums up oral sex.

“Get Busy Livin'”

It feels like a Free cut at the beginning, but when the whole band kicks in, its AC/DC all the way.

“Armed and Dangerous”

The intro and verse riff rock.

From the words of the band members, just think of a hot chick walking past and you get a hard on, well you’re armed and dangerous. Enough said. Press play.

“Overdrive”

It’s about living hard and no sleep, having a good time and not caring about the next day. Easier said when you’re young.

“Back on the Bottle”

Another fast rocker, to close the album off, and a subject matter about getting on the piss.

I guess I’ll have one more glass of whatever then.

It charted well in Australia and New Zealand, and it also did good business in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Canada. In the U.S it peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hard Rock Charts as in some states they rocked and in other states they were unknown.

A shrewd business decision by the band and its management to license a lot of the songs from the album to various video games and movies, which brought in a different source of revenue, much higher than what the sales revenue would have generated.

“Born to Kill” is featured in the film “Jonah Hex”.

“Heads Are Gonna Roll” is featured in the video game “Madden NFL 10” and the official trailer.

“Raise the Flag” is featured in the video game “Twisted Metal”.

“Bottom of the Well” is featured in the video game “NHL 11”.

“Blonde, Bad and Beautiful” is featured in the trailer for the film “Bachelorette”.

“Back on the Bottle” is featured in The Good Guys episode “The Dim Knight”.

It’s not original in anyway and there is no great “hit” song to sell the album. But it’s a fun album, cool to listen to and in the words of Bon Scott, “Let There Be Rock” as the album has its foot on the accelerator pedal from the outset.

P.S.

Here is a little playlist that Joel O’Keefe told Guitar World readers in the July 2010 issue. I guess there are no surprises in the list.

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

Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Spin Series – Airbourne

Here is the usual prologue.

My blogger pal Deke over at Thunder Bay had a cool Northern Hemisphere Summertime Series between July and August. Each week, he wrote about albums he spun during the summer.

Well, the real Earth summer is between December, January and February in the Southern Hemisphere. So the good act that Thunder Bay is, boarded a Qantas plane, landed in Sydney, survived 14 days quarantine in a Sydney hotel and is finally here to present the “Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Series”.

And all the acts will be Australian acts.

So let’s get airborne and run wild with a familiar sounding debut.

Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild

A lot of bands came out that sounded similar to AC/DC in the 80’s like Krokus, Gotthard and Accept. Then we had Australian bands like The Poor, Screaming Jets, Choirboys and The Angels that had these kind of influences. Of course, AC/DC didn’t just come up with their sound. The black blues musicians like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Robert Johnson and Johnny Lee Hooker played a big part in shaping the Australia rock sound.

And in the early 2000’s, bands like Jet and The Vines merged AC/DC influences with Rolling Stone influences. Then in 2007, Australian hard rock band Airbourne built a career off their love of AC/DC.

“Runnin’ Wild” came out on 23 June 2007. It did good business in Australia. On 29 January 2008, through Roadrunner Records, it got an official U.S release. They filled a void left by AC/DC due to AC’s long delays between new albums.

Airbourne are Joel O’Keeffe on lead vocals/guitar, his brother Ryan O’Keeffe on drums, David Roads on rhythm guitar and Justin Street on bass.

Bob Marlette is the producer.

“Stand Up for Rock ‘n’ Roll” starts off like an Y&T song, before it moves into that AC/DC style groove with a bit of peptides and steroids chucked in. And the title was perfect for the time, because by 2007, rock and roll, the way I knew it, was part of the undertow. It never went away, but it wasn’t a commercial force the way it was. And what the press classed as rock made me puke.

But change was afoot as the acts from the 80’s had gotten control of their masters and started to promote their music to a new generation.

“Runnin’ Wild” is probably one of the best songs that Cinderella didn’t write for “Night Songs” or Kix for the “Blow My Fuse” album.

“Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” has a pretty funny comment on the YouTube video which says, “looks like early Metallica and Maiden, sounds like AC/DC”. And that intro riff resides in that AC/DC territory.

“Diamond in the Rough” has this “TNT” vibe in the verses which I like.

If you like the “Flick Of The Switch” and “Fly On The Wall” albums then you will like “Fat City”, “Blackjack”, “What’s Eatin’ You” and “Girls In Black”.

“Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women”, “Heartbreaker” and “Lets Ride” close the album and yep they sound like AC/DC tracks.

It doesn’t mean they don’t rock.

Check em out and get airbourne.

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The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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One Thing Cannot Be Disputed; Those Artists Who “Steal, Copy, Imitate” Are The Most Successful

So you are one of those artists that has a song or a few songs in the list of 4 million that haven’t been streamed yet on Spotify.

Then you hear a song that sounds very similar to your song.

Do you scream “theft” and lawyer up, preparing for a court case that you don’t have the funds for?
Do you just shrug your shoulders and move on?
Do you send the artist an email and ask him to acknowledge you as a songwriter to their song?
Do you use the fame of the current song to bring attention to your song?

I am sure in 90% of the cases, everyone will do the first part. Everyone will scream theft and then they will start a long and expensive court process. If the publisher controls the copyright, then this will happen 100% of the time.

Since the Copyright industries have grown into Corporate monoliths, it is suddenly uncool for an artist to use previous works as influences for further works. Even the audience of certain bands weigh in on the argument, calling certain bands rip offs and so forth.

However, one thing cannot be disputed, those artists who “steal” are the most successful. Those who “imitate” are the most successful. Those who “copy” are the most successful.

Led Zeppelin built a career on copying blues and folk standards.

Metallica built their career by copying their NWOBM influences and many others.

Oasis built a career on copying from “The Beatles”.

The Beatles built a career on copying from blues and rock standards.

Coldplay has built a career on the “progress is derivative” model.

Bon Jovi has built a career on re-writing their hits. Seriously, if you look at their catalogue, “Living On A Prayer” has been rewritten for every album that came after “Slippery When Wet.” New Jersey had “Born To Be My Baby”. Keep The Faith had the title track. Crush had “It’s My Life”.

In the rock and metal worlds let’s look at the songs burning up the rock charts.

Five Finger Death Punch – “Lift Me Up” has a vocal melody in the verses similar to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy Osbourne. A lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery. The song is getting the plays. People are paying attention and that is what artists want.

It is not about sales anymore, it is about listening. Are people listening to your music?

Avenged Sevenfold – the whole “Hail To The King” album copies from other artists who of course copied from other artists for their own music. Again, a lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery.

Megadeth paid homage to Black Sabbath’s, “Children of the Grave” in their new song “Kingmaker”.

Alter Bridge also paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Revelation Mother Earth” in the solo section of their song “Fortress”.

Continuing on with Alter Bridge, the song “The Uninvited” has a strong resemblance to Tool’s “Schism”. Do these odes to their influences make them unoriginal? No chance. The “Fortress” album is a great showpiece in technical riffage and great melodies.

Airbourne is making a career referencing AC/DC.

Motley Crue borrowed from Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and Stevie Wright’s “Eve” for their song “Sex”.

Black Sabbath copied from their own past to create ’13’. “The End Of The Beginning” is basically the song “Black Sabbath” re-written again in 2012

Call it the Rick Rubin effect. He even convinced Metallica to rewrite their earlier albums for 2008’s “Death Magnetic.”

Dream Theater even borrowed from the Rick Rubin effect. They got some flack on “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, as the songs followed a similar structure to songs from “Images and Words”. Dream Theater did do a great job at masking it, as the songs do come across as independent “stand on their own” compositions, however the hard core fans will pick up the references to their earlier material.

The next time a person is creating their little masterpiece and it sounds like something that is known before, don’t abandon it. Chances are it will connect with millions.

It is a shame that we have a generation of people that have grown up with a belief that music is created in a vacuum and they decide that legal threats is the best way forward. When Balance Sheets are affected, these industries will do anything to hold on or maintain their profits.

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