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

October 2020 – Part 5

Here is the final post from the October releases.

Atreyu

“Save Us” has a monster riff. It’s simple but heavy.

Whose side will you align with?
Will you just stay silent?
Riot, riot
We won’t stand in a line compliant
Time for your fire
It’s time for the riot

And the lyrics are angry.

While the internet has connected us, we stand divided in our political views. A lot of people will let discrimination slide as long as their bank account balance keeps ticking up and leaders play on that. This is what the band said recently;

“This song feels like the anthem that we all need right now. To us, it’s a call to action to light the fire in ourselves. We can begin to make great change – but only if we look inside first.”

Saul

From Iowa, U.S.

Formed in 2007, they released a few EP’s and “Rise As Equals” is their label debut on Spinefarm (a Finnish label which specialises in heavy metal and hard rock). They are made up of vocalist Blake Bedsaul, guitarist/backing vocalist Zach Bedsaul, bassist/backing vocalist William McIlravy, and drummer Myles Clayborne.

Saul is one of those bands that merge all these different kind of metals into one metal. Old school metal + Nu metal + progressive metal + grunge + hard rock = Saul. They are doing Disturbed better than Disturbed is right now. Hell, they even got David Draiman to write with them over Zoom on “King Of Misery”.

My favourites today are “Looking To Fight”, “King Of Misery”, “Get It Right” and “The Toll”. Plus there is an excellent cover of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome To The Machine”.

And the album is good. Other songs like “Levee”, “Rise As Equals”, “Brother” and “Trial By Fire” take over depending on my mood.

Joe Bonamassa

He’s been releasing a lot of new music these last few years. “Royal Tea” is the latest.

“When One Door Opens” starts, the intro riff grabs me and in the solo section it moves to bolero hard rock. Aggressive bolero hard rock, that is.

“Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye” is a favourite, a song I’ve already written about. “Lookout Man!” has a swampy heavy blues riff. “A Conversation With Alice” sound like a Bad Company cut and I like it. “Beyond The Silence” has this Cowboy Western colonial vibe.

Pearl Jam

The “Live MTV Unplugged” album.

“Black” and “Jeremy” are my favourite tracks ever from Pearl Jam and my go to tracks on the “Unplugged” album.

Thin Lizzy

Phil Lynott has been dead for 34 years, but the music he created with Thin Lizzy has been kept alive.

Apart from the songs appearing on radio and TV shows or movies, John Sykes kept the name alive for a good decade, touring as Thin Lizzy, then Thin Lizzy reformed with Ricky Warwick on vocals and they changed their name to Black Star Riders.

And artists have kept on covering Lizzy tracks. Metallica did “Whiskey In The Jar”, Megadeth did “Cold Sweat”, Europe and John Norum have covered a lot of Lizzy songs.

And they have released a massive collection called “Rock Legends”. The “Decca Era and Mauger Tape Rarities” is also included in the “Rock Legends” set.

Sink your ears into em and spend some time with Lizzy. She will love ya for it.

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

October 2020 – Part 4

Architects

“Animals” is the song.

We’re nothing but a bunch of animals

I was listening to an album from a German act called Long Distance Calling. They are predominantly an instrumental act with vocals and voiceovers appearing in some songs.

Their latest album has a voiceover on the song “Ashes” about how other beings from another world see humans;

I would like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I have realised that you are not actually mammals.

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.

There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern; a virus.

Maybe we should paraphrase the lyric to be, “we’re nothing but a bunch of viruses”.

Soilwork

Readers of this blog know that I am a fan of The Night Flight Orchestra and as a by-product Soilwork, which is vocalist Bjorn Strid main band. While TNFO is melodic AOR, Soilwork is melodic death metal.

“The Nothingness And The Devil” is the single and the main riff gets me interested to learn it.

Lyrically, guitarist David Andersson said, “that our views of gods are old and that we need to create our own new gods if we need them, because no God will correct the mess that we have put ourselves in”.

Sevendust

The album is called “Blood And Stone” and for a band which has survived bankruptcy, addictions and relationship breakdowns, “Blood And Stone” is a fitting title for album number 13.

The heavy stuff is the heavy stuff, sometimes interchangeable with each other and then there are tracks like “Feel Like Going On” which always hook me in. It’s one of those mid-tempo tracks that Sevendust does so well.

And its followed by “What You’ve Become” which is intense.

Other favourite tracks are “Criminal” and “Against The World”.

Armored Saint

I’ve always kept coming back to Armored Saint.

Their new album is called “Punching The Sky” and for a band that has had survived record label accounting, the death of lead guitarist Dave Prichard and losing one of the most formidable front men to Anthrax in the 90’s, the title of this album is perfect.

Because when John Bush returned to the band, they have gone from strength to strength in my world.

Opening track “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants” had me interested. “End Of The Attention Span” blows glass out of the speakers before a speed metal riff takes over for the verses.

And how good is John Bush on vocals.

The sounds of metal hitting metal kick off the groove laden “Bubble” and the metal on metal sounds return in the headbanging interlude section. “Do Wrong To None” is a groove thrash song and that syncopated open string riff in the verses is headbanging material.

“Missile To Gun” is one of those tracks that reminds me of Judas Priest. Its fast, like “Defenders” and “Screaming” era. Guitarists Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan are having fun with all of this, riffing their way and decorating each song nicely.

“Fly In The Ointment” has a catchy chorus, reminding me of Savatage and a nice harmony solo. “Unfair” is a ballad like song, but a proper metal ballad, not a sappy love song. And the album closes with “Never You Fret”, a high energy thrasher. Joey Vera’s bass thunders and locks in with drummer Gonzo Sandoval.

Bruce Springsteen

“Letter To You” is the album and the title track was an instant save when it was released in the lead up to the album. “Last Man Standing” is an overused title, but with Springsteen, its fresh and new. “The Power Of Prayer” has a piano arpeggio riff to kick it off, before the major key acoustic strumming riff kicks in.

“The criminal clown has stolen the throne” is a lyric in the song, “House Of A Thousand Guitars”.

It’s my favourite song on the album.

The reference to the criminal clown is based on a certain leader of a democratic nation that just lost an election. If you need any proof of what Springsteen thinks of Trump, then google, “Springsteen views Trump” and watch for yourself.

House of a thousand guitars, house of a thousand guitars
Brother and sister, wherever you are
We’ll rise together till we fire the spark
That’ll light up the house of a thousand guitars

And the song is about the people, and how they need to be as loud as a house with a thousand guitars.

But democracy is not like that.

In the name of freedom and the right to vote, we are free to express our views. In other words, we are united in democracy while divided when it comes to politics.

Part 5 for October is coming up.

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

October 2020 – Part 3

Silvera

The song “Edge Of The World” (which is also the title track) reminds me of the “Bounce” album from Jovi, which was Jovi’s modern take on the Creed sound and the lead break is pretty cool.

So I was interested to hear more.

“Generation Z” has that head banging riff that reminds me of the 80’s and there’s another guitar hero lead break. “Light In Life” and “The Reckoning” were one of those pre-release singles that got me to follow the band on Spotify.

“Filling The Void” has this Killswitch Engage melodic metal feel in the music and a vocal line which could come from a Shinedown album.

Album closer, “Promise” makes me press repeat, just to hear it again.

The Smashing Pumpkins

I still check out The Pumpkins because of “Siamese Dream” and “Mellon Collie”. And this time around, I actually liked the electronica in the music. It’s almost like “The Cure”. And I can hear “The Cure” influences on songs like “Cyr” and “The Colour Of Love”.

Sanctuary

While Sanctuary never got the sales on the board like other metal/thrash acts, they did become a cult favourite and when half of the band went on to form Nevermore (vocalist Warrel Dane and bassist Jim Sheppard), the spirt of Sanctuary lived on. But then Nevermore finished up and Sanctuary was reformed, releasing the excellent “The Year The Sun Died” in 2014.

Then Jim Sheppard left in 2016 and Warrel Dane passed away in 2017 and we never got to hear what could have come next.

But 30 years after the release of “Into The Mirror Black”, it gets the anniversary treatment and man, it’s so good to hear these songs again.

There are songs that sound like they came from a Queensryche album or a Megadeth album or a Testament album. In other words, it’s just a good metal album.

The Norseman Company

I don’t mind it when bands show their influences and pay homage to em. Sometimes it gets too much “likey likey” and sometimes its subtle.

For too much “likey likey”, check out “Here Comes Rock And Roll”.

As soon as you press play, “I Love Rock And Roll” from Joan Jett comes to mind, then in the verses, its “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Let’s Get Rocked” from Def Leppard. Now, I know that those songs also had their influences and Joan Jett’s is a cover, so the cycle goes round and round.

Then when you press play on “Master Of The Dark”, an unknown song called “Rainbow In The Dark” comes to mind.

Very likey likey.

But.

I’m interested, let’s see what comes next.

And all I know about the band, is that it’s a guitarist with guest vocalists.

Teramaze

From Australia.

“I Wonder” is their seventh album and it’s the first time I’m sinking my ears into em. Progressive Rock has a bad concoction these days, associated with a million notes over complex chord changes or in Tool’s case, long laboured grooves that move in and out of complex time signatures or polyrhythms. But there are a lot of bands that can take it all and make it sound easy, not complex and not too long.

Teramaze is one such band.

The first two tracks, “Ocean Floor” and “Only Daylight” are heavy rock songs, with emotive and melodic vocals, with distorted guitars chugging along, they keep jarring me out of the melancholy.

The “Sleeping Man” has a chorus hook of “I’ve awoken the sleeping man inside”. It’s catchy, its hard rock and its perfect.

And the riffs.

“I Wonder” is also a favourite.

Tomorrow or next week, it will be others.

DGM

From Italy and on the Frontiers Label.

Metal music with a bit of prog always gets me interested. Stand out songs for me are “Surrender”, “Stranded” and “Tragic Separation”

“Surrender” is the standard AOR heavy song on a progressive album. Dream Theater always have tracks like these.

Tracks like “Stranded” and “Tragic Separation” remind me of “Images And Words” and “Falling Into Infinity” Dream Theater.

And underpinning these three tracks are riffs that remind me of EVH.

Signal Red

“Alien Nation” is the album. There are two types of songs on this album. Melodic Rock songs and songs with a bit of prog Metal and a lot of melodic rock chucked in.

So it’s no surprise my bias gravitates to the songs that sound like metal with a lot of melodic rock chucked in.

“Invisible Scars” is a progressive track and it got me interested, so I went googling. This is their second album.

The first one “Under the Radar” coming out in 2018. They are from the UK.

“Rocket Fuel” starts off with a progressive syncopated style riff and it has a solo section with a rhythm section that reminds me of “Kashmir” while the guitar wails away. “Awakenings” reminds me of Deep Purple and Rainbow.

“Tide Of Life” has a kicking intro which I like. “Pure Shores” has a piano riff to kick it off which is catchy. “Alien Nation” has a guitar hero lead break. “Standing On Top Of The World” has duelling lead guitars to start it off and it’s major key sounds brings a sense of hope.

Stardust

Another melodic metal/rock act.

Just think of Steve Perry singing in an act that is more aggressive in their riffs.

As soon as I heard “Runaway”, I knew I had to google to find out more.

The album is called “Highway To Heartbreak” and it’s on Frontiers. The band is from Hungary and somehow the guys in the band have turned their Hungarian names into Adam Stewart, Ben Martin, Dave Legrand, Facey and Tim Keeley. Nice English names for Hungarian boys.

They’ve mentioned how they like three specific bands in Def Leppard, Winger and Journey, along with all the 80’s stuff. It’s a broad canvas.

There is a high energised cover of “Heartbreaker” from Pat Benater.

“Bullet To My Heart” reminds me of Babylon AD.

“Perfect Obsession” is “I Remember You” or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or “I Saw Red”.

“2nd Hand Love” feels like a Bad English song in the intro, with John Waite singing. But when the pre chorus kicks in, it feels like a Mutt Lange/Def Leppard Pre Chorus and when the Chorus kicks in, it has a bluesy vibe, like the work that Bryan Adams did with Mutt Lange in the 90’s.

“Shout It Out” kicks off like “Have A Nice Day” before it morphs into a EVH style riff for a few seconds and then the bass and keys take over the verse. The vocals are catchy and that chorus is also so catchy, it remains for a long time after the song is over. Plus did I mention that the song has a killer guitar hero solo.

“Can’t Stop Loving You” is basically Def Leppard “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion). And I like it.

“Eye To Eye” is back to the hard rock with a bluesy chorus, like Black Stone Cherry, but the song is a lot more. It has keys which enhance it and riffs on some sections that remind me of Whitesnake. Did I mention that the guitar solo is a highlight moment as well?

“Hey Mother” could have been written by Tommy Shaw. Once you hear the Chorus melody, you would know what I mean.

And did I mention that the song has an excellent guitar solo?

“Blue Jeans Eyes” has another guitar hero solo spotlight and “The River Is Rollin’” closes the album with a massive Don Henley vibe.

Part 4 is coming up.

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

September 2020 – 10 Years

From the US and formed in 1999. Signed to a label a few years later.

But I didn’t get into em until 2008.

Basically from 2000 onwards, I was really into the groove progressive rock of Tool.

But Tool songs just kept getting longer and I was looking for something to listen to, which was similar and more accessible.

So bands like Chevelle, Adema, Earshot, Deftones and 10 Years appeared on my radar, who played that form of groove rock and metal and I became a fan.

“Violent Allies” is produced by Howard Benson. Benson also produced the “Feeding The Wolves” album back in 2010.

That album is a favourite of mine, but there is a portion of the fanbase that hates what Benson’s generic pop production did to 10 Years.

If you don’t know what I mean, just check out his albums with Daughtry, Seether, Skillet, Theory Of A Deadman, Scott Stapp, Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down, Red and many others. But for me, it’s that style of pop production I like.

The band entered the studio with 20 songs written and Benson cut 75% of the songs. The band then to write new material and revisit some of the other material to make the songs stronger.

“The Shift”

I never knew a shift was happening / The scenery just seemed to be stuck on, stuck on, stuck on repeat

And that’s how people pull one over you. Governments give us a tax break here, a stimulus payment there and in secret negotiate trade laws and tax laws that create monopolies and suddenly we are living in a democracy that’s more about supporting big business than its people.

We go from silence to sirens without a space between / we are a violent virus without a remedy

We are scared of an actual virus that infects and kills us, but are we the biggest virus to the planet and each other.

Killing each other, no problem.

To reflect superiority over each other, no problem.

To reap every resource from the Earth, no problem.

All that we’ve managed to make is just a comfortable cage / Oh god, I gotta get out

And once we are in that cage, which is basically our home, we are comfortable, we are safe and we don’t want to change. We don’t want a shift to happen. All we want is a job till retirement so we can pay the bills and mortgage.

“The Unknown”

It’s a bit softer than the opener.

But time moves on and carries us / Into the wild of the great unknown

Kids today will be working jobs that haven’t been created yet. They will be living in places and buildings that haven’t been built. It’s exciting that the future is a great unknown.

“Déjà Vu”

Turn off my brain this all feels the same

The echo chamber of social media can get overwhelming as our finger keeps going on the infinite scroll.

Then we read the news and it feels like we’ve read this before or seen the TV footage before. Police brutality is nothing new. Citizens protesting against injustice is nothing new. Corporations and politicians filling their pockets with profits of the Earth’s resources is nothing new. Another copyright suit against a famous song is nothing new.

So you got heart and soul
Born to break the mold
You’re oh so original like someone I used to know

We are all young for such a brief time and believe that we are born for something different. So we pour our heart and soul into our work, thinking we will be rewarded with untold riches.

But it doesn’t work that way.

“Without You”

I am brand new now without you / Everything I can do now without you

Truth.

You don’t realise how stifling and restrictive a relationship could be until both sides are free of it.

“Cut The Cord”

I lied to myself to stay above the tide and ignore the warning signs

I used to have this viewpoint to “stick with things forever” because I’ve spent time on it already and I don’t want to waste the time I’ve spent to start something new, because it means that all that time spent was for nothing.

Just reading what I typed is doing my head in.

It took me a while to realise that the time spent is all learning and preparation for the next thing to come. This is true for everything, from self-development, to changing jobs and relationships.

“I Wish”

Take it all in and let the flood begin to wash away our sins
Open your mouth, let the fire out and burn me down
All is fair in love and war

It’s a great set of lyrics to sum up arguments, because as soon as the barrage starts it’s like a flood or a fire.

You can fire back, you can ignore it, you can escape it or you can apologise if you are at fault.

Trying to get the other person to see your point of view or your side is pointless because that just doesn’t happen.

“Start Again”

As these hands of time tick on by the song remains the same
Circling the drain, I’m done

It’s the end, there is nothing else that could have been done. Once you start circling the drain, you end up in the wastewater.

And there’s going to be one more final post to wrap up September 2020 releases because 10 Years took over this post.

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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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