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

August 2020 – Part 4

Use My Voice – Evanescence

Amy Lee is a musician I would want around for a long time. The sound of her voice (which can be mournful, aggressive, rageful and happy) always gets me interested and the messages in the songs are genuine.

Relationships are difficult and they become even more difficult when one side tries to force their personality onto the other, speaking for them and even questioning them in a negative way in front of others.

Use your voice people, don’t suppress it. Its special and unique to you. This applies to everything in life and not just to relationships. Because no one is entitled to speak for you except you.

Space – Biffy Clyro

This band is hit and miss for me. They have me interested, then they lose me and then they get me again.

And this song has me back again about having a space in your heart for the special someone who is in and out of your life.

Maybe It’s Time – Sixx AM with guests

I liked this song when it appeared on their 2016 album “Prayers For The Blessed”.

It’s been redone now with a lot of guest vocalists to raise awareness of addiction and recovery.

“When I was young, I was dumb”

Indestructible. 

Getting old was never in my thoughts. 

Jumping out of moving cars, getting drunk and generally mucking around, sometimes dangerously, was bred out of pure boredom.

And not of all of us got out alive. People committed suicide and others got addicted to drugs, living a hard life right now with shakes and aliens in the fridge. 

“Maybe it’s time to deal with the pieces in my life”

There has to be a reawakening, a turning point. Some people believe they need to help you see it, but I believe you need to get to that point yourself.

For me, it was lying in a hospital bed with my foot broken and my face bruised and bleeding because I was drunk and jumped out of a moving car. I just had surgery to insert screws and a long road to recovery.

Cruel Hands Of Time – Tygers Of Pan Tang

It’s a crazy world we live in when “Tygers Of Pan Tang” are putting out some of their best music. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member left from the 80s.

The riffage on this song is straight from the Sunset strip and I’m pretty sure it’s from the fingers of Michael Crystal who has been in the band since 2013 and vocalist Jacopo Meille has some nice pipes, so the melodies are infectious.

Talk To Me – Apocalyptica with Lzzy Hale

These dudes from Finland have been on my radar since they covered Metallica songs on the cellos. And they have done everything, from the covers, the instrumental originals and the vocal originals.

This time they have Lzzy Hale, the best rock voice.

Satellites – Andy James

That chorus lead melody that kicks in at about the minute mark is emotive and the harmonies just add a nice complexity to it.

One of the best instrumental guitarists right now.

World On Fire – Daughtry

It’s so good to have Daughtry knocking on the door of hard rock again. He’s angry and the addictive melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings So when society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

The final part to August 2020 is coming up.

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

August 2020 – Part 3

Our Last Night, Fractured Amygdala, A Sum Of Our Parts

Damnation Angels

From the U.K. 

I came across them years ago on an Amazon recommendation for the “Bringer Of Light” album in 2012, and with so much music being released between the years since and so little time to listen to everything, I lost track of them.

Here we are in 2020, with their third album “Fiber Of Our Being” (fourth if you include the EP in 2009).

Life in a band is tough. It’s even tougher these days, with so much music being released, it’s hard to be heard. From when they started to now, only the Garney brothers are left.

And my favourite tracks are not the main ones, but more of the album cuts like “Our Last Night”, “Fractured Amygdala” and “A Sum Of Our Parts”.

The soft piano on “Our Last Night” has some great vocals with a spine tingling backing choir.

How can you not like a song called “Fractured Amygdala” (instead of using a generic “Fractured Mind” title, they went to the science and pulled a specific area of the brain to write about) with its Nightwish and Symphony X like sound? 

And if the amygdala is damaged, there is a reduction of fear and aggression.

“A Sum Of Our Parts” closes the album with its melancholy.

And I hate the genre “symphonic metal” which these guys get lumped with. It’s stupid and dumb.

Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye Joe Bonamassa

It’s a stand-alone song, separate from the album that is just below and co-written with Bernie Marsden as part of his Abbey Studios Recording.

You do know who Bernie Marsden is right.

A co-writer with David Coverdale and the guitarist in Whitesnake, with songs like “Here I Go Again”, “Young Blood”, “Fool For Your Loving”, “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues”, “Lovehunter” and “Trouble”.

And Bonamassa had this to say in a Facebook post about the track;

“I wrote ‘Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye’ about a previous relationship that I was in. We were together for five years, and we held on until the very last day. We fought for it, and fought for it, and we finally figured out it just wasn’t going to work. So that song was very autobiographical. It’s hard to write that way, I’ve always found. But my best songs are like that. Bernie Marsden and I wrote that song together. He has a great way of harmonically putting chords together, and the music has his stamp all over it.

Bonamassa is his own businessman. He has his fan base which likes his British Blues Rock and Mississippi Delta influences. And of course, with Covid-19 putting a dent in the live business, artists like Bonamassa are affected, because his normal gross average for a gig is over $300K for about 2500 tickets sold.

But Bonamassa has and still continues to build his career, so when others have come and gone, he’ll still be doing the rounds.

A New Day NowJoe Bonamassa

When Bonamassa rocks out in his bluesy Cream and Bad Company way, with a bit of Skynyrd, I am all in.

And the songs which capture that spirit on the album are tracks like “Cradle Rock” which has a section after the lead break that reminds me of Eddie Van Halen.

“Miss You, Hate You” is country rock and it’s probably the best song that Skynyrd didn’t write. “A New Day Yesterday” is a blues rock stomp.

“Colour And Shape” has a memorable guitar lead and it’s a fusion of different styles, while “If Heartaches Were Nickels” is a blues ballad while “Don’t Burn Down That Bridge” rocks out with its fuzzed out riffs and stompy bass guitar.

MedicationRoyal Bliss

Another interchangeable blues rock riff kicks off the song, but it’s the vocal melody that hooks me in and the chorus chords are like “I Love Rock N Roll” with a memorable hook. 

So where’s my medication, you got yours and I want mine. 

If it wasn’t for streaming, I wouldn’t even know about Royal Bliss, but from streaming I have become a fan.

Déjà vu10 Years

Their modern rock style is something I like.

Turn off my brain it all sounds the same

And the lyric keeps morphing to say, turn off the songs, they all sound the same and turn off the screens, they all look the same.

We are surrounded by things we like and follow, which leads us to an echo chamber. And the internet is a copy system. It survives by copying. So we read essentially the same story across different websites with just a few journalistic changes and suddenly everything sounds the same.

I’m in my mid 40’s right now and all the new music I listen to sounds the same, basically a new take on an old sound. I still like it, but I get what all the older people I knew back in the 80’s and early 90’s like my school teachers, guitar teachers and work colleagues who grew up in the 70’s said, “that all of the 80’s music was a new take on the 60’s and 70’s sound”.

To them, everything sounded the same.

Stay tuned for parts 4 and 5 for August 2020.

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

April 2020 – Part 2

April 2020 has finished and a lot of new music has hit my earbuds and I am still listening to tunes released between January and March 2020. While the last post started off with the songs from previous months, this post will start the new ones;

Here is the Spotify link.

Here is post 1.

Ishtar’s Gate
False Prophet
Testament

“Souls Of Black” is a great album and it was my introduction to Testament in a post “Metallica Black Album” landscape. The earlier stuff is technical like thrash with Alex Skolnick creating jazz fusion solos over the chromatic riffs from Eric Peterson. Then Skolnick left and I was like why.

And throughout the years I have been following Testament and their releases. I don’t own a lot of the bands stuff, but I did have a pretty cool mix tape from the era and I recently purchased their first five albums in a CD box set for $23AUD.

And Peterson just kept writing excellent riffs that covered power metal, thrash, groove metal, nu-metal and black/death metal. Chuck Billy would sing, growl and spit those vocal lines out. Then Skolnick returned and so did my interest in the band.

These two songs stood out to me on their recent release. The riffs are top quality.

Walking On A Thin Line
Hartmann

Oliver Hartmann has been a mainstay in the German rock scene for the last 20 years. He sings in Hartmann, and he is the lead singer for “Echoes”, a Pink Floyd tribute band.

And he plays bass and has done a lot of guest appearances on other records from European artists.

“Walking on a Thin Line” sounds like one of the best Scorpions songs that the Scorpions didn’t write.

Honesty Files
And You’ll Say
Urge Overkill

Ken Taylor from sunny “10 degrees Celsius” Melbourne commented on a blog post recently and he told me to check out an album from Urge Overkill (as I had mentioned the “Sister Havana” song and how the band was like a one hit wonder), which I did and I saved two songs. This album is from the mid 90’s so it doesn’t really belong on the April 2020 new music, but hey, its new music to me, as I heard it in April 2020.

We Will Rock You
Empires Fall
Welcome To The Night
Stranger In The Room
Darkness Remains
Night Demon

“Night Demon” is another recommendation from Ken Taylor. Their energetic take on the NWOBHM and Iron Maiden is fresh. I really like how bands these days take an old style and sound and make it new.

Every song you play, will have something familiar from a previous song you may have heard. And of course they do a rocking cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

Billy’s Got A Gun – Live
Def Leppard

One of my favourite Def Leppard songs.

Can you feel it in the air?

Danger!!

What You Give Is What You Get (Edit)
Dance (Edit)

RATT

The RATT Atlantic Re-Issues are disappointing. Each album has an EDIT of a song released as a single as its bonus track.

The “Round And Round” edit cuts out DeMartini’s guitar solo and it goes straight into the harmony solo. The whole solo is a favourite of mine, so I couldn’t add that “edit” to the list. And from “Detonator” they have a dance funk mix for “Lovin’ You Is A Dirty Job” which is basically a joke.

I find it hard to believe that there is no extra material laying around or demos of the album songs. I remember reading an interview with Juan Croucier many years ago, and he states how he has over 60 songs left over from his RATT days, which either had him as the main songwriter or as a co-writer.

I play guitar and I know that even though a song is finished, there is another one in the works and other riffs been written. You just don’t stop creating.

The Canary
Protest The Hero

From Canada.

Protest the Hero (known as PTH from now on) are one of my favourite bands. They had a recording contract for their first three albums between 2005 and 2011. They built a cult following and then got dropped by their label. The label even said to them they have “no audience”.

So they went the fan funding route in 2012, trying to raise $125K USD and they ended up getting $341K.

I was on board with the Indiegogo fan funding campaign for the “Volition” album.

I was also on board with the Bandcamp six month “Pacific Myth” subscription campaign, where I get a song a month for six months, with a video that highlights the making of, plus the sheet music and I get to download the cover of each song, plus the track and the instrumental track.

Then they released that as a six song EP.

And then it was all quiet on the Canadian front, until “The Canary” flew in. And I’m back in the cage, ready to support them again.

Part 3 coming up.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

RD Friday

There is a saying “Just because you can make it, doesn’t mean anybody cares”. And with music these days, there are so many artists creating, how do they make people care. If the goal of the artist is world-domination, maybe they need to re-assess their goals. All artists have to operate in their niche and maybe they will cross over to the mainstream. And even then, once you crossover don’t expect everybody to know. 

Release Friday is upon us and my Spotify playlist is up and cranking.

Sweet And Lynch – Unified

Another song appeared on my Release Friday playlist today, so I figured I would check to see if the album is out. I clicked here, clicked there and 11 new tracks appeared. Brilliant, because back in the day, I would need to leg it, train it and leg it again only to find out the record store didn’t have it in sold out of it.

The first album caught me by surprise how good it was. It was creative, nostalgic and modern sounding. The second one on its own is a good album but compared to the first album, it’s not as good. But that’s okay, because there’s still good tunes to unpack.

“Promised Land” is the opening track and the first single in the lead up to the album release. This song deserves more attention, but it’s hard to break through the noise. Each new track is competing against all the hit records plus everything in between.

“Take my hand, the promised land”.

“Unified” has this cool Lynch jam like groove that appears a lot in his work post Dokken.

“Defiant we stand, united we will fall”

“Bridge Of Broken Lies” has a cool lyrical theme about strangers hiding behind the faces of trusted people. It’s a ballad, that rocks hard.

“I never guessed you would be someone I’ve never known”

“Better Man” is a clichéd title. Pearl Jam probably has the definitive take, but Art of Anarchy’s version is not that far behind, especially when Scott Stapp sings, “it’s time to come home”. This one is more like a love song.

The first thing that hooks me is the riff. It’s classic Lynch with a lot less distortion.

“When I’m not with you baby, I want to be a better man”

Babylon A.D – Revelation Highway

Their self-titled major label debut I have on LP and man it got a lot of spins. It was a perfect blend of hard rock and melodic rock. I even own it on CD. “Nothing Sacred” is also a favourite, and I have that on CD. And that blend of hard rock and melodic rock heard on the first two albums is evident on “Revelation Highway”. Also, because I’ve been cranking “Whitesnake 87” and “Diary Of A Madman”, I’m hearing influences from both albums on this one.

“Rags To Riches” is one of the singles released in the lead up and it hooked me in with its “Atomic Playboys” style riff. Musically its excellent and that solo break with that riff underpinning it, is just brilliant.

“Rags to riches, young girl got her wishes”

With the whole #METOO movement and people speaking up, maybe the young girl didn’t get what she really wished for. It’s a relevant lyric line regardless in what context you read it.

“One Million Miles” is a pretty cool mid-tempo melodic rock track. “She Likes To Give It” is also cool and basically a clone of “One Million Miles”. Nothing wrong with that at all.

“Floating on a Jetstream with the cool wind in my face, sinking in the green grass in the calm of your embrace”

“Last Time For Love” sounds like the best Def Leppard song that Def Leppard hasn’t written. It immediately transports me back to 1987.

“Last time for love, I won’t be hanging around your door”

And the lead break with the underpinning riff just works a treat. I press repeat just to hear it again.

“Saturday Night” reminds me of those “Saturday Nights” from a time long ago.

“On a Saturday night, we will rock to the morning light”

Shakra – Snakes & Ladders

They are from Switzerland. When I Googled them, I was surprised to read that they’ve been around since the mid 90’s and their first album dropped in 1998. It’s been a long time, but they are playing the game to succeed and picking up fans day by day.

“Cassandra’s Curse” is a terrible song title, but the song is awesome. The music is foot stomping and the melodies are perfect.

“Snakes & Ladders” has one of the most simplest but truthful lyrical lines.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you fall, snakes and ladders”.

“Rollin’” is one of those bluesy hard rock style songs which you can listen too driving your car.

“I Will Rise Again” is the bomb. It’s tempo and foot stomping / back breaking drum beat work brilliantly.

“Open Water” is a ballad but not a clichéd. Lyrically it’s got that Euro Purple/Whitesnake vibe like “Sailing Ships” meets “Lost Without You” from Three Doors Down.

Artists don’t operate in the old world anymore. 

MTV might have made artists global superstars, instantly, but they fell back to earth just as fast as they got outside the atmosphere. Now streaming rules and anybody can play, but only a limited number of artists get attention. Today, these three artists had my attention. Tomorrow it will be someone else. They might come back at another time and get my attention. Maybe they won’t.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Releases 

Just put out the damn album. 

When we laid out cash for the 10 to 15 albums we used to buy a year, we had time to digest and live with the music for a long time. So back then we would endure the two month hype run and sales would keep the LP going for a while. But the old hype model doesn’t work anymore. People seem to forget it’s called the music business, not the hype business.

The 8 week lead up to the release is extensive especially when the LP run could be over in a month after it’s released. The first week sales while they might look great on paper are irrelevant. Check the second week streaming numbers. Then the third, then the fourth and so on. Those numbers will show you if the fans care for the music or if only the press (that your marketing team has paid to promote your product) cares.

And people will complain about streaming revenue and how it doesn’t pay enough. Control your rights, have a song that people connect with and you will be paid well and forever.

That’s right. YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music will pay forever. Isn’t that better than the one off transaction between the record store and the fan. That fan could have purchased the album, taken it home, played it once and traded it. Maybe that fan played the album a million times. You as an artist wouldn’t know that behaviour. 

But with streaming you will know how many times fans are streaming your music and from what cities and states they are from.

The truth is today’s hit artists will be paid by streaming services forever and this is a good thing. Data tells us what’s hot and what’s not.

And like it or not, it’s always been about the hits. To me a hit isn’t the song that takes the number 1 slot on a chart.

“Fear Of The Dark” or “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Creeping Death” or “Fade To Black” or “Master Of Puppets” didn’t set the charts alight but the fans made those songs hit’s, especially with the sing along guitar harmonies of the Maiden tunes. They are songs that connected and spread like wildfire amongst the fan base.

We don’t live in 1989, where mediocre stuff on the radio gets some traction because of the marketing/hype dollars invested into the promotion. We live in the era of connectivity and virality and hits and streaming that pays forever.

But you need to release a continuous stream of product to win.

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