Music

The Road 

Who would have thought that James Durbin would front the version of Quiet Riot that exists today. 

In case anyone is confused as to who Durbin is, he’s the guy who brought Judas Priest to American Idol. 

There’s a YouTube clip of him doing “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”. He didn’t win Idol, but he came Top 5. His first album dropped in 2011 and its a hard rock album. “Higher Than Heaven” is my favorite track. It’s melodic and heavy enough to rock. It’s also a co-write with James Michael and Marti Frederiksen. If you don’t know these musicians, I suggest a Google search. 

Then album number 2 dropped in 2014 and it was not what I expected, more in line with the Imagine Dragons style of rock. So I just moved on. And then “The Road” came up on the New Release Playlist as I was driving. I had my headphones on and my phone in the slot on the side so I had no idea who the artist is. 

The song is a slow rocker and as soon as i heard the voice, it was familiar. Isn’t that the great thing about music, when you hear something familiar but you can’t put a name to it. 

I’d like to tell you that I knew it was Durbin on vocals just from hearing him, but I had to google it to find out. Hell I had to Google who was in this version of Quiet Riot. 

It’s a cacophony of noise out there. 

It’s good to see that Quiet Riot is still releasing new music, even when the two founders in Rhoads and DuBrow have both left this Earth for astral planes far and wide and main songwriter from the 80s Carlos Cavazo is now bending strings for Ratt which looks like to be on hiatus anyway. 

So who is in this version of QR?

Frankie Banali has been the drummer for the band since DuBrow reformed it in the 80s after the death of Rhoads. Bassist Chuck Wright replaced Rudy Sarzo and has been in and out of QR since the 80s. Guitarist Alex Grosso has been in a lot of hard rock bands and ended up in QR in 2006. 

So now to the album “Road Rage” that features Durbin on vocals. Go and listen to “The Road” first, then “Renegades” and “Freak Flag”. They are songs that should remain around for a lot longer. 

Who knows if that would be the case in our tech driven lives. I bet a lot of QR fans or even fans of the 80s would not know QR has new music. And for music fans born in the late 90s and onwards, you shouldn’t think of this album as an 80s band releasing new music. You should see it just as new music.

The Road

Feels like we just got back
I’ll kiss my family and I’ll be out the door again
We’re running around in the dark
We are together apart

Unless your family is travelling with you, then the road is just you, the guys in the band, some members of the road crew and lonely miles between cities and fans. 

A lot of artists don’t come back from the road. Randy Rhoads didn’t come back home. Steve Ray Vaughan didn’t come back. Kurt Cobain came back but didn’t want to go back out. Chris Cornell didn’t come back. Chester Bennington didn’t come back. AJ Pero didn’t come back. David Z didn’t come back and the other guys from Adrenaline Mob got pretty banged up. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary for a musician. 

Renegades

The intro riff is the vocal melody of the Chorus.

Line up all the degenerates
Just to prove their innocence

It doesn’t happen much today, but back in the times when I had my long hair and what not, I would not get served in a retail store. I’ve got cash to burn and no one to serve me. If a person was dressed in anything else except a black metal T shirt and jeans, they will get service before me. Judging people on appearance is real. We all still do it, even when we don’t want to. We might have good intentions over it, but we still judge and we always will.

We stand silent
It’s not our problem
Your reliance
Will fall down in disarray
And in silence
We’re raising renegades

Our ancestors went to two World Wars against an enemy who wanted to remake and reshape the world in their own image. That’s how the winners tell it and the losers have no voice. 

And democracy is far from perfect. It’s corrupted by the wealthy that influence legislation in their favour, so they get even wealthier while the working class gets torn apart and devastated. And this is where the next battle is taking place. The war between the haves and have nots is real. It won’t get to the same beheadings of the French Revolution, but change is afoot, because in silence people are raising renegades for the future to come.

Freak Flag

It’s the AC/DC vibe that gets the foot tapping.

Put your hands up and get your freak flag flying

In the 80’s, the metal/rock heads had all kinds of names attached to them. Satanic, anti-social, drug takers, freaks and what not. And when the freaks got together in stadiums and arenas, the establishments trembled because of the devotion people showed their favourite artist.

How can an artist be more powerful than the law enforcement officers and the elected leaders?

The record label honchos who really held the power to make or kill a career suddenly had their power diminish because MTV made artists into global superstars instantly. 

How could these freaks tell the business executives where to go? 

It was real, it happened and then the freaks became business executives themselves. It always happens. The people who control the money can buy out anyone or anything.

In this case, they amped up the greatest Ponzi scheme ever created and started paying millions of dollars to the rights holders. Copyright, Intellectual property, call it whatever you want, basically takes money from one source to give to the rights holder who then gives moneys to the creator as an advance fee on future earnings. And then the people in charge of Copyright (the government and the corporations) find new ways to bring in new sources and the cycle repeats over and over and over and over again.

In the end the road taken by James Durbin to be a musician is a unique one. Each road is unique and personal for all of us. It’s not always right and sometimes you might get stuck on the roundabout. But we keep going forward. It’s human nature. 

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Songs Based On Inspiration Rather Than Logic

That is the difference between everlasting music and throwaway crap. You wanna know why Shinedown had a lot of success with “The Sound of Madness” in 2008. It’s because the songs were inspired and genuine. The audience loved the throwbacks to the classic rock of the Seventies. The fan base connected with the lyrical themes. Look at Spotify and YouTube and you will see that one of the most streamed/viewed songs from the album is “Call Me” and it wasn’t even a single.

You see, when fans get behind a band there are so many reasons why they do it. It could be a lifestyle choice. It could be a song connection. There is no exact formula, however the labels will still try to re-create those successes by signing many other bands in an attempt to emulate what Shinedown achieved with “The Sound Of Madness”.

Sort of like how Daughtry and James Durbin went off into the sunset to chase the pop trends of Coldplay, Casting Crowns and Train. Logic will tell you that if you write a song that is of similar calibre it will connect with an audience. But for both of those artists, it failed to pay off. “Baptism” and “Celebrate” both took a long time to complete and they more or less disappeared from the conversation within a week.

Why is “The End Of Heartache” from Killswitch Engage seen as an important album?

The reason why this album is seen as an important album and a classic is that it gave every guitar player hope for a future. The guitar playing on the album is phenomenal and it brought back metal to the masses in a major way. And with anything that is successful, people copy it and try to emulate that same success with other bands. The record labels saturated the market with copycat acts which more or less ensures that the metalcore movement suffers the same fate as the glam/rock movement. The media labelled it as metalcore. For Adam Dutkiewicz and crew, “The End Of Heartache” is basically a band that was refusing to dance to someone else’s tune.

“It’s almost like today’s songs are all written with the same formula – they have the same snare sound, the same bass sound and that generic heavy rock guitar tone.”
Jake E Lee said the above in an interview with Guitar World September 1991 issue.

Why do I mention it?

Because it is TRUTH.

Anyway remember the bands at the forefront of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal. Bands like Bleeding Through, Shadows Fall and Chimaira. All gone. God Forbid is also gone. After 15 years plus in the game, they couldn’t work out how to stay relevant, how to find new fans, how to maintain existing fans and how to create new music that cuts through the noise.

On a personal level, I supported Chimaira and Shadows Fall. On their last couple of releases I was getting the feel that their songs started to focus on a more logical structure. Robb Flynn recently referred to this situation as “samey”.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Chevelle, Sebastian Bach, James Durbin, Black Label Society and The Used. And Artists Wonder Why Fans Cherry Pick.

Listened to some new music today that I have been wanting to check out for a few weeks now. The beauty of Spotify.

Chevelle – La Gargola

Chevelle blew my mind when they came out with their Tool infused pop stylings.

It was perfect back in 2002 and 2004. Now it is getting old. In saying that, “One Ocean”, “Choking Game”, “Under The Knife” and “Twinge” are stand out songs, however only the hardcore fans would go that deep into the album. The rest would check out the single, and maybe the first five tracks and move on.

Sebastian Bach – Give Em Hell

Skid Row was powerful with Bach on vocals. There was an X Factor there. Sabo and Bolan couldn’t get signed with all of the previous vocalists and then Sebastian comes on the scene and suddenly the band is hot and dangerous.

One hell of a talented vocalist and with this solo album, Bach is in top form. It is a solid album from start to finish with each song written by a who’s who list of musicians and producers.

And Devin Bronson on guitar, playing hard rock/metal music is triple A. If there is a fault, 12 songs are too much. 9 songs really stand out.

James Durbin – Celebrate

The memories of Durbin doing “You Got Another Thing Coming” from Judas Priest on American Idol still live on. It was that cover song that got me interested to check out his original music when the time came. So the debut comes out and the opening track “Higher Than Heaven” blows me away at its heaviness and popiness.

And now here we are in 2014. It is a good album. It is worth a listen. My wife will love it. In the end if you want to hear James Durbin pretend to be like Kate Perry or One Direction that “forever, ever, ever line” in “Live Right Now” is just too much or the “Jump! Jump! Jump!” in the song “Parachute”.

Noteworthy tracks are “Louder Than A Loaded Gun”, “Real Love” and “Children Of The Sun”.

It’s time to go back to those thirty rock songs that didn’t make it on the album and get them released, because a rock career is forever, whereas a pop career is fleeting.

Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Love Zakk Wylde. I still remember having a poster on my wall around the “No Rest For The Wicked” period. Zakk was just a skinny little blonde kid. Now he is like a Viking marauder, ready to take over this town.

I like Black Label Society for the same reason I like AC/DC. You know what you are gonna get and it is a good thing. It’s groovy hard rock and metal, with Zakk’s Ozzy meets Layne Staley style vocal phrasing and great guitar playing.

Zakk has nurtured and fostered his audience with this sound. He has put a bikie culture and mentality around his audience and each time he plays a town, he calls on the local BLS Chapter to come out in force. And he gives them what they want. Beer soaked groove rock and metal.

“My Dying Day” is a full strength brewski. “Angel Of Mercy” for a ballad is also a full strength brewski. “Damn The Flood” has a Goddam wah-drenched solo section. So another brewski for that. “Empty Promises” is a double full strength brewski.

The Used – Imaginary Enemy

My first exposure to The Used was in the first Transformers movie and that car chase scene between Bumblebee and the Decepticon Police Car. I loved that riff, so I tracked down the soundtrack and found out that the song was called “Pretty Handsome Awkward” from a band called The Used. I really enjoyed the “Artwork” album.

And I have no idea what The Used is trying to achieve with this album. I’m hearing it and I am thinking about the latest Daughtry album that alienated the hard core fans in its quest for the One Direction and Train pop dollars.

In music, your only as good as the last song you released or the last album you put out or the last show you played.

Start getting a few D grades in both and expect your career to disappear.

At least their club and theater shows are selling out.

The takeaway.

A lot of time was invested to hear the sixty plus songs across the five albums and I only clicked the save button on my Spotify account 20 times. And then artists wonder why the fans cherry pick. And nine of them came from Sebastian Bach’s effort.

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