A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Indie Route

How Grammy Nominee Brent Faiyaz Built His Music Career Off Streaming (HBO) – YouTube

It’s from Vice News and there is so much good stuff in the 5 minute segment.

Brent was offered a major record deal and turned it down. The highest offer was a $250K advance and a $300K recording budget. A lot of people would have taken the offer and become slaves to a system designed to favour the record label. But he turned them down, because the terms bothered him.

He looks at the money from a 100% pot. So when the label is offering him an 18% royalty rate, what is happening to the other 82% of monies earned?

If the artist makes a million dollars in gross, the label will get $820K and the artist $180K. Suddenly, it makes the advance and recording budget look like small change. But the label will not share any of the gross with the artist. They will discount the gross into a net and then share it. And from the net profit, the label will recoup the advance and the recording budget.

So Brent and his manager invested $30K of their own monies to record the debut album.

They then went on a 3 month tour using streaming data to lead the way. Streaming has changed everything. An artist can be a moderate successful indie artist with a few million streams on a few songs. It will not pay much in streaming royalties, but when you take into account the streaming data by city, you can then organise tours based on the data.

“Artists have to be smarter and they have to tour more and they have to do more to make sure fans come”

The lawyer in the segment said the above line. The old plea of “putting in your blood, sweat and tears” into your new music doesn’t cut it anymore with the audience.

Having a million followers on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean you have a million fans. I’ve seen Sebastian Bach post something like, a million plus followers on Facebook and only 10,000 people purchased the record. It’s old school, one sale = one fan thinking. Social media gives artists a way to connect and engage with fans. That’s it. That’s all it does. Dave Mustaine is trying to get to a million followers on Twitter. Why? For what reason and if he does get to a million followers, how do you connect and engage with them and turn them into concert ticket sales? A quick look at his posts and he gets comments from less than 30 people at a time.

In January 2018, Brent made $25K from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple music. His team mines the data from those streams to find out exactly where and when a show will sell out, spending $18 a day on ads to target those cities.

The data tells them were the demand is in the market and they use the streaming data to estimate how many tickets they can potentially sell. They look at the analytics of their top 50 markets and spend the money on ads on those markets.

Spotify’s data also highlights the listeners and super fans, city by city.

Super fans are fans of the artist who have streamed the music for 45 days in a row. For example in Philadelphia, Brent has 13,600 listeners and 3,186 super fans. They used this data to target ads in Philadelphia, sold out the venue and earned $3,880 in revenue. In Baltimore, there are 10,000 listeners and 5,743 super fans. Again, they targeted their ads to the city, sold out the venue and earned $5K in revenue. After 17 tour stops and royalties from song placements they walk away with $30K a month. Management takes 20%.

Streaming data also showed strong fan bases in Europe and they sold out shows in London, Paris and Berlin.

There is a reason why Trivium are selling out show after show across the US, Canada and Europe. There is a reason why Machine Head are selling out shows. There is a reason why Papa Roach are selling out shows. Streaming is a game changer.

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

Forgotten 80s Part 4

I read an article about how a computer system was only shown how the pieces move in a chess game. Then the system was told to learn how to play the game. 24 hours later, the system had all the chess moves worked out and it was beating strong chess programs convincingly.

Then I watched the “Metalhead” episode from Black Mirror and then I read a story about how Nissan wants to create a car that reads your mind and it got me thinking of the original Terminator movie and suddenly I was in the mood for 80’s music.

So here is another list of forgotten songs from the era. Just click on the number for the previous Forgotten lists, one, two and three.

Better Days
Taking On The World
The Feeling Within
Gun

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal. With their debut album, GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands because that’s the only way the record labels knew how to promote music. Compare it to something else which is popular and hopefully you get 10% of that audience to buy blind. 30 years later, it’s still the only way record labels know how to promote music.

Better Days

The groove captures me instantly and the vocal melody is so far removed from the LA Sunset strip, it’s perfect.

Living in the same scene way too long
Everybody hopes that one of these days
Everything you want is gonna come your way
Everybody knows what they have to do
Everybody dreams like me and you

Dreaming and hoping is easy. Deciding how to make those dreams and hopes come true is hard because making decisions is exhausting. It means you need to investigate, analyse and most importantly take responsibility for making a decision. We all know what we need to do, but so few do it.

Things could be heaven but this feels like hell
So hold your head high cause you know I’d die
For better days

And sometimes, decisions made with good intent could end up going bad. It doesn’t mean it’s the end. It just means a re-calibration is necessary and further analysis is needed, because our dreams and hopes for better days, make us push through the worry and fear.

Taking On The World

The acoustic strumming sets the sombre tone, but it’s the vocal melody which is captivating. It’s unique and catchy.

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away
You’re taking on the world

Life is a process. You try things and you fail. You get into a relationship and you separate. In ten years’ time you would be using a technology that hasn’t been developed yet. The world evolves and you need to evolve with it, if you want to take it on.

And the lead break is full of thought out phrases that outline the chord progression under it.

The Feeling Within

The vocal tone of this song sounds like a cross between Jim Kerr (Simple Minds singer) and Michael Hutchence (INXS singer RIP).

You don’t know what silence means (you can pray for me)
You don’t know about shattered dream
You don’t know that I can’t run (you can set me free)
Set me free from the feeling within

Those lyrics in the brackets are sung by vocalist Mark Rankin’s cousin Sharleen Spiteri, of the band Texas.

Now Forever After
Stargazer
Kingdom Come

The most well-known version of the band only lasted two albums and one touring cycle. By the late 80’s the record labels didn’t care about artist development. It was all about platinum certifications. If the band got one, they had another shot. If they didn’t get one, they got dropped. Kingdom Come went platinum with their debut and their follow up didn’t set any sales record alight, even though it was better musically than the debut.

Musically, Kingdom Come had three sides. One side was the 70’s inspired classic rock of Led Zeppelin. The other side was the blues rock of AC/DC, while the third side was the Euro melodic rock inspired by Deep Purple, Scorpions and Rainbow combined with a little bit of Toto and Styx.

Now Forever After

“Now Forever After” is from the debut album released in 1988 and it falls into that melodic rock side of the band.

It’s now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
For better or worse
Until we die
Now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
Until the end of time

If only it’s true. Actually for some it is, for others it takes a few goes to get it right.

Stargazer

“Stargazer” is from “In Your Face” released in 1989. That keyboard intro which blends into the guitar lead just works brilliantly. This is another that falls into the Euro melodic rock side of the band.

Ooh, just to know what’s the reason for making us
Is what I would like to know

How did we come to be? So many theories out there, rooted in science and religion.

Stargazer
Live it out
Meet the Maker

Our ancestors looked to the stars for answers. Then they changed to religion. As humans got wiser they turned to nature and science for answers. Everything ends, including you and me. We thought we would live forever, but this proved to be untrue. And you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I Believe In You
Knock You Out
Hands Of Time
Y&T

For many, “Earthshaker” was a landmark album. In my opinion, it also became a major influence to any hard rock musician around the world who heard it. It you took all of the different rock stylings happening at the time, and put them into the Y&T blender, “Earthshaker” would be the result.

For Y&T, they were just happy to have a deal with A&M, after two albums on a different label who had had no clue what to do with the band. Coming into the album, Y&T had already played the songs live quite a bit, hence the reason why everyone who heard the album said, “wow, these songs would really work live”.

By 1981 bands didn’t really do ballads or power ballads. They did songs with slower tempos that just kept on building up to a huge ending.

I Believe In You

“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well along time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us, so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record; well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship so the song inspired itself more or less.”

Dave Meniketti

The music business is full of rip offs. There are so many stories of former managers claiming the rights on songs from artists written while they managed the artist, but released many years later, while the band had new management. So many people who contribute nothing to the Arts make money from the Arts.

Even record labels do it. They sign an artist and they will spend some money for the artist to record a demo. They might give the go ahead for the songs to be recorded for a release or they might not release them at all. If they are not released, the artist is in limbo. Ask Tom Keifer, Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner, just to name a few. And if they leave the label they need to buy back their songs at an extortionist fee the label sets themselves.

Your phony friends, they all counsel you
The things they say
Oh, you know aren’t true

Ahh, yes, who doesn’t have friends like these in our lives?

Breaking up with your partner is a lot more than just breaking up with one person. When a relationship ends, people take sides. Suddenly the friends you believed you had are not there anymore.

Knock You Out

How good is the riff that kicks off this song?

Up against the ropes
I’ve been there before
I’ve been hit by the best, but never hit the floor

Proving you’re at the best when you do it your way. Never forget that. You can make your own decision. Awards are irrelevant. It’s the art that remains. Y&T remain more relevant than some of their 80’s peers who achieved platinum sales. Y&T never did.

Hands Of Time

This appears on “Down For The Count” released in 1985. I swear that intro riff was used by Winger in “Headed For A Heartbreak” to platinum glory. Progress is derivative right.

Don’t be a prisoner of your memories
They steal from your future
And fill you with lies

Negative thinking stops us from taking action. And our tendency to attach an emotion to a past event is our biggest downfall.

‘Cause you can’t turn back the Hands Of Time

What is done, is done, so move forward because time keeps marching forward.

Abandon
Heartbreaker
Dare

Both songs are from the “Out Of The Silence” album released in 1988 on A&M records. Wikipedia tells me Dare was formed in 1985 by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton after Phil Lynott had dissolved the band. They had some success and when their second album “Blood From Stone” released in 1991 tanked in the sales department, the band was dropped.

Abandon

I can’t forget the things that you said to me

We rarely forget. We move on but we don’t forget. Actually, we can’t forget, because if we do forget, then how did we learn from those events.

I wish I could say that the rest of the song had some earth shattering lyrical message but it didn’t. A lot of the problems with the 80’s rock bands are the lyrics. Even Dare, coming from some experienced musicians couldn’t get decent lyrics written. Some people are good with words and others not so much. But the music is still good.

Heartbreaker

It’s got a riff that reminds me of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” merged with “Fantasy”.

She got no money and she got no pride
Don’t let her tell you she got nothing to hide
So full of passion with a wounded heart
I still remember when our love fell apart yeah
And when everything’s right, how could I be so wrong? so wrong?

While it was right for you, it was all wrong for the other half. They just haven’t had the courage to tell ya yet.

Lovers
Fate

It’s from the “Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ album released in 1988. A friend of mine had this album and he dubbed it on a blank cassette for me around 1992. I knew nothing of the band back then and I still don’t know anything about the band today, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for a derivative and clichéd melodic rock song and as soon as the Aldo Nova “Fantasy” influence kicked the song off, I was hooked.

Future World
We Came To Rock
Yellow Rain
Loud’N’Proud
Rodeo
Pretty Maids

They should have had more mainstream success. Not sure if the band name helped their chances or hindered them.

Future World

It’s the title song of their 1987 album.

Oh future world
There’s nothing left to save
They blew it all away

We will in troubled times and even more so today where “stable geniuses” are in power.

In troubled times
We saw the writing on the wall
We heard the fools
Who brought the human race to fall?

The human race always suffers because of a few individuals. Released in 87, this would have been referencing the Cold War between the US and USSR. Today, it’s the US vs North Korea. Leaders out of touch with reality and the people they claim to support and serve.

We Came to Rock

It’s from the “Future World” album and it’s one of those clichéd songs about going to the rock and roll show and joining the cavalcade.

If you’re feeling out of nowhere
If you got no place to go
If you’re feeling lost and lonely
When you’re down the open road

The heavy metal community is the most loyal and there is always a place for you and everyone else.

We are the faces
We are the guardians of the night
We’ll rock the ages
It’s all right
We’ve seen the fire
We are defenders of your rights
We’ll take you higher
Gonna take you to the sky

It’s easy to say in words that you are a defender of our rights, but only Dee Snider went to the US Senate hearings and defended the rights of US metal head citizens. It cost him dearly at the time, but today, he’s seen as the defender he set out to be in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Yellow Rain

Also from “Future World” and this one references Vietnam. Musically it starts off acoustically, like Gary Moore’s “Victims Of The Future” before it becomes a speed metal song.

Left home as heroes
Fools when they returned
Blamed for all the damage
And the villages they burned
Betrayed by their leaders
Murderers they were called
Denounced as crazy maniacs
And locked behind the walls

It was the first war that was all over TV and the prime time news. Everyone saw the burning children, the napalm bombs and Agent Orange. And the poor soldiers didn’t come home to a ticker tape parade. They came home in pieces, mentally and physically.

Loud’N’Proud

It’s also from “Future World” and it wouldn’t be out of place on the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

Gonna hit this town tonight
Let your troubles out of sight
Scream out, spread the word around
Get all up and stand your ground

Again, it’s all about going to the rock and roll show, being part of community and don’t let institutions get in your way of living out your dreams.

Rodeo

Also from “Future World”

I was born and raised on the street
I grew up in a jungle of stone

Like all of us. All social circles have become concrete jungles.

I walked my own directions
For fortune and fame

The ones, who made it, walk their own path and the ones who follow might make it, but they don’t last.

Life is a rodeo
Somebody makes it
Somebody don’t
And even though
You feel like losing
Don’t ever let it go

It’s the unwritten rule of life. Never give up, keep on going. From when we are born, we fight for every breath, for every step, every single day.

And sometimes when I came to a crossroad

Should I stick to the left or the right?

We always try to make the best decision with the information we have at the point in time. It might be right, it might be wrong, but we still make it. Because we need to.

Under The Gun
Turn It On
Danger Danger

For a band formed in 1987, they had Al Pitrelli on guitar for a brief time, then after they got a recording contract, Pitrelli left and was replaced by Saraya guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey (who actually played on the debut album) before returning to Saraya and Andy Timmons replaced him and played on the rest of their debut album, which was released in the same year.

Under The Gun

From the debut album released in 1989 and its the same lyrical theme as “Runaway” and “Fallen Angel”. But musically and melodically it’s addictive.

Turn It On

Also from the debut and the guitar playing from Andy Timmons is what hooks me. The way he colours each bar with arpeggios, power chords, palm-muted pedal tones and double stop inversions is brilliant.

Long Way From Home
Angel In My Heart
Britny Fox

Carbon copy of Cinderella, Britny Fox formed in 1986 in Philadelphia. In fact, the band had former members of Cinderella in its roster and their connections to Cinderella allowed the band to secure a major recording contract.

Long Way From Home

The debut album is not on Spotify, however the follow-up “Boys in Heat” released in 1989 is.

My love’s with you always, oh yeah.
Long way from home.

On the road is a killer. You are away from friends and family and the band mates are suddenly not as likeable as you thought they were when you saw em only a few hours a day for practice.

Angel In My Heart

Also from “Boys in Heat”, it’s a simple hooky song.

Misery Loves Company
Nobody Knows
Hard Luck
Letters In The Rain
Lillian Axe

Formed in 1987, they caught the attention of Ratt’s management which led to a record deal with MCA and Ratt’s Robbin Crosby producing the band’s first album, Lillian Axe.

As Wikipedia tells me, neither the debut nor the 1989 follow-up, “Love + War”, met commercial expectations and the group was quickly dropped.

Misery Loves Company

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

The intro riff is a derivative version of “Breaking The Chains” from Dokken.

The poor get nothing while the rich get fat
Start living good, the I.R.S. takes that
I kinda wonder if there’s really any good at all, at all

While the rich pay nothing and hide their billions in offshore tax havens.

Nobody Knows

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

Nobody knows when there’s clouds in the skies
When there are tears in your eyes
Nobody knows when you’re hurting so bad
So what if they had?

Exactly. So what if people knew how bad your hurting or how low your feeling. What can they do to change it? How people deal with pain and disappointment is very subjective. Each person has their own unique way of overcoming obstacles.

Hard Luck

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988. The lyrics are forgettable, but the music and melodies work.

Letters in the Rain

From the follow up, “Love + War”, released in 1989, the lyrics deal with a person reading letters his ex-partner left in the rain, and after being heartbroken for so long, he finally moves on, only to have the ex-partner return asking for a second chance. But the music and melodies are cool.

The Right To Rock
United Nations
King Of The Rock
Don’t Say You Love Me
Keel

The rock is strong with Keel.

The Right To Rock

Released in 1985, it’s the title track.

All my life I’ve been fighting
For the right to make my stand

So what happened? How did we go from fighting and making a stand, to not caring?

Don’t internet users in the U.S care about net neutrality?

Don’t people in Australia care about the power corporations have with the courts and our leaders?

Don’t let anyone tell you
How to live your life

But they do tell us how to live our lives. If you have a credit card, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. If you have a mortgage, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. God forbid if you are late. If you have are employed, you are told how to live your live every single day, just so you get that fortnight or monthly pay into your account.

‘Cause it’s our way of life
I’m fighting for freedom
For the golden rule
The right to say what I feel

But we are too scared to say what we feel in case we get ravaged by the social media righteous police.

United Nations

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

We are the new generation
We got the inspiration
We’re feelin’ strong so spread the news
The youth of every nation
Will make this declaration
This is the way of life we choose
Together we will rock
Forever we will roll

We thought hard rock would last forever but it didn’t. All great empires fall, and rock was no different.

And someday we will rise
To take control

1986 was the year metal and rock took control.

We are united nations
Under the flag of rock and roll
We are united nations
United we will stand

If only we remained united, but we didn’t.

King Of The Rock

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

In the arena is the kingdom I call home
This coliseum is my dome, whoa!
I make my own rules, I call the shots
I’m not afraid of you and I’ll fight for what I’ve got

By 1987, we had moved on. The call to arms about the rock and roll show got old.

This concrete battleground is where I’ll make my stand
If you’re with me, raise your hands

We had splintered by now. Metallica went on tour with James Hetfield having a sticker on his guitar that said something like “Kill Bon Jovi”. Mustaine called Queensryche “Yuppie metal”. Any artist that introduced keyboards or had keyboard players got labelled as sell-outs. Any artist that brought in outside writers also got labelled sell-outs. The label marketing machine was in overdrive creating new genres. We had Glam Rock, Pop Metal, and Glam Metal.

We had hard rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and pop rock. We had thrash metal and speed metal. We had heavy metal and technical metal and progressive metal. Death metal was becoming a thing. Europe was having their own thing happening with power metal, progressive classical metal, folk metal and the embers of a black metal scene were beginning.

In the states, hard core was a thing and when it became heavy, grindcore became a genre. Punk was just punk, once upon a time. Then it became post punk, punk rock, punk metal and punk pop.

It’s like that scene in “The Warriors” with Cyrus trying to unite the gangs. It didn’t end well.

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Daily Mix

My Spotify daily mix was full of niceties today. It started me off in 1994 (Motley Crue), went back to 1986 (Van Halen), then to 1987 (Whitesnake), then back to 1986 (Tesla), then back to 1988 (Europe), then back to 1987 (Dio and Twisted Sister), 1991 (Skid Row) and back to 1987 (Great White)

Power To The Music

The Motley Corabi line up kicks off my day. Tommy Lee kills it behind the kit as he grooves this song to perfection. The self-titled album is the forgotten album in the Motley Crue revisionist history. It’s like 1993 to 1996 never happened.

Power To The Music
Who said the music’s dead in the streets?
Don’t know what they talk about.
They gotta put a bullet in my head if they want to keep me down

When I first heard this song, the message was load and clear. The record labels might have put their support behind new musical movements, but rock music was far from dead.

Good Enough

“Hello baby”, screams Sammy, before the Van Halen brothers and Michael Anthony thunder in and Sammy starts singing about how a fine woman is like U.S prime grade beef. Totally 80’s and totally male.

Wow, U.S. Prime, grade A stamped guaranteed
Grease it up and turn on the heat
You gotta throw it down and roll it over once, maybe twice
Then chow down, down, down, down

Don’t Turn Away

It’s a forgotten song from the mega selling 1987 album. I love it because of the up tempo ending. It reminds me of the ending of “Still Of The Night” and you don’t want it to end.

Rock Me To The Top

Tesla’s music to me is timeless. It doesn’t sound dated or tied to a particular era. Yeah, I know they got lumped in with the Sunset Strip bands, but Tesla was so much more. And they proved it in the 90’s, when all of the Sunset Strip bands got dropped, Tesla continued to make records and tour to great success. They took risks and backed themselves to deliver acoustically. Not a lot of bands could have done that to the quality Tesla did.

“Rock Me To The Top” is written by vocalist Jeff Keith and estranged guitarist Tommy Skeoch. The riff is foot stomping hard rock to a tee.

I’ll take command, take control
Now I see you comin’ back for more
I see you like it, but you don’t need it
Ooh you wanna feel it

Yep, I’m pretty sure Jeff Keith is singing about driving a car.

Sign Of The Times

That keyboard riff is as iconic as “The Final Countdown” riff. It’s a tragedy the song is not well known.

All The Fools Sailed Away

What a voice? Rest in peace Ronnie James Dio, you’ll be forever missed.

The drumming is epic, great vocal melodies, great movements between loud and soft and when the chorus comes in with the backing vocals; it’s time to sing along.

We are the innocent
We are the damned
We were caught in the middle of the madness
Hunted by the lion and the lamb

Society is founded on the persecution of races. And as we get more advanced, persecution exists between the have and the have nots.

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Sailed away

People need to move and find new lands/cities to thrive and survive.

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)

It’s another anthem for the SMF’s, the black sheep and the down trodden to wake up and stand together against corruption and oppression.

Who the hell are they to say?
What we can do and how we can play
We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

It’s the war cry against censorship. Freedom comes with a choice and sometimes, we sign away our freedom because we like to create an enemy, someone to blame when it all goes to hell.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

Around the world, our internet is under attack from governments and corporations. They want to control it, regulate it and charge a premium for it. The Net Neutrality war is real and it’s happening and only a handful of people are speaking up against it. The rest are ignorant.

Slave To The Grind

It’s the thrash metal title track from album number 2, which went straight to number 1 on release. Skid Row could do no wrong musically, even though the internal politics and bickering between Bach and Bolan/Sabo had reached Don Dokken/George Lynch volume levels.

Rock Me

After a few verses, I was thinking what’s next and then the Chorus kicked in. I became a fan instantly.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

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

2017

Every year, I see album of the year lists. And I’ve done em as well. But in truth, a large percentage of those top 10 albums that make it on lists are due to just a few songs that connect with people. Well that’s how it happens with me these days. Of course some albums are great from start to finish, but it’s a rarity.

So this year, my 2017 list is made up songs that I’ve come across in 2017’s Release Radar (in other words released in 2017) or Discover Playlist from Spotify that I’ve heard the first time in 2017 and have connected with me.

In order to compile the list before year-end, I stopped adding music to the playlist at the end of November. So here is my playlist of new music I heard in 2017.

Also in 2017, Spotify gave me a ton of stats.

So I listened to 66,157 minutes of music, which equates to 1103 hours, which equates to about 3 hours of listening each day.

7,084 different songs make up my listening habit for 2017, which is made up of 1,680 different artists. Hell, I even skipped 2,274 songs. Back in the 80’s I listened to less than 30 artists.

My five top artists for 2017 are The Night Flight Orchestra, Whitesnake, Coheed and Cambria, Trivium and Ozzy Osbourne. And here is my Spotify generated playlist of the top 100 songs I listened too in 2017 across all decades.

Life Ain’t Easy (For A Boy With Long Hair) – The New Roses

Who would have thought that a German act would sound better than the American acts that influenced them?

So what can I say
Things got that bad
I stood before the mirror
To shave my head
But then I looked into my eyes
And I knew right then
You’ll let your hair grow
And start a band

Hilarious but it doesn’t take away from the story setting. We don’t know what we should do sometimes. And when it comes time to make a life-changing decision and dealing with the unknown, it’s important to remind yourself of your true calling.

And as the years went bye
Fashion went and came
And everybody changed
But I’m still the same
Now you try to dress up
Like a rock and roll star
You don’t look cool
And you won’t get far
What you’re looking for
You can’t just buy and wear

There is so much truth in the above. I can put on a T-shirt from companies who endorse MMA fighters and it doesn’t mean I support the sport. The same goes for people who wear Harley Davidsons T-shirts while they drive around in 4WD’s. Rock and metal wear is an attitude as much as a lifestyle choice. It was never about looking cool or a fashion statement. It was about acceptance and being a member of the tribe.

Freedom – Revolution Saints

It’s the best song on the album. Deen Castronovo is one hell of a vocalist and he kicks off this song with a great drum groove. Musically it sounds like a Deep Purple song from the Coverdale era and there’s nothing wrong with that influence whatsoever.

Freedom
Sweet freedom
Coming my way

It’s the mood the music sets that hooks me in and the way it builds in the verses.

Gemini – The Night Flight Orchestra

On each album TNFO have a disco pop metal rock track. “West Ruth Ave” took the spot on the first album, “Living For The Night-time” took the spot on the second album and “Gemini” takes the spot on the third album. So many influences are present in this song. It’s like Styx, The Police, Divinyls and Blondie got put into a blender and out came “Gemini”.

Blind Leading The Blind – Adrenaline Mob

Man the “Mob” has suffered on the road. AJ Pero didn’t survive the tour he was involved in and recently David Z lost his life when a truck slammed into their van parked on the side of the road.

The world is running out of time
We all think we know what’s wrong or right
It’s the blind leading the blind

Our governments work for the corporations who are only interested in making money. They don’t care about global warming or our natural resources. The debates between the two sides don’t even exist. How can one side argue their point if the other side doesn’t believe there is a point to argue.

Goodbye Forever – Volbeat

The mighty Michael Poulsen is one hell of a songwriter. As soon as the song starts off with his major key lead and 60’s rock feel, I’m hooked.

Did you say the thing you wanted?
Have you ever felt in love?
A moment where no problems would ever get you down
Free as an eagle but only for a day, yeah listen

Live every moment like it’s your last.

Take the arms that embrace, no more being afraid
Feel the sun on your face or goodbye forever

Live in the now, don’t be afraid.

We are the birth
We are the end
We are the souls
We have a name
We are the rising and fallen ones
We are the spirit forever more

This is my favourite part of the song. I dig how the military style drumming works with the syncopated guitar lines and the gospel backing vocals. Just brilliant.

They Don’t Care About Us – Saliva

It’s a great re-imagining of a Michael Jackson song in a hard rock context. It’s from their “Love, Lies and Therapy” album released in 2016. Hell I don’t even know who is in the band anymore. They sort of dropped off my radar after Josey Scott left.

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, aggravation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us

“Bang, bang, shot dead.” The two biggest man-made killers of people are guns and cars. So it’s not surprising that terrorists are using the two to cause chaos in major cities. But what about the home-grown madman, who takes bags of guns into a Las Vegas Hotel and then proceeds to play target practice at a Country Music Festival. Even though the song was in response to Rodney King’s beating at the hands of LA Police, the message remains the same, 20 plus years later.

Every time mass shootings happen, the Government fails to do anything. And it doesn’t matter who is President. Mass shootings happened under Trump and he has done nothing. They happened under Obama and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Jnr and he did nothing. They happened under Clinton and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Snr and he did nothing.

The Government is voted in by the people, but all they do is please the lobby groups and corporations.

Mass shootings happened in Australia under previous Governments; however when the “Port Arthur” massacre happened while the Liberal Government of John Howard was in power, we finally had a leader and a Government that stood up and made change. Since then, we haven’t had a mass shooting.

People always remember what people do.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of being the victim of shame
They’re throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came

After 9/11, our rights all around the world disappeared as the democratically elected Governments passed a lot of laws to “try and prevent future disasters from happening” which in turn made these democratically elected governments similar to totalitarian governments.

The laws passed involved the invasion of our privacy. Our phone calls either could be or will be recorded, our emails would be stored and analysed by an algorithm, our Google searches would be reported for certain key words and analysed, our text messages and so much more.

We are the victims of Government corruption to protect the faceless people who pay the politicians to speak for them.

Periscope – Papa Roach

One of the bands I was involved with in the early 2000’s covered “Last Resort” because it had that “Bring Your Daughter (To The Slaughter)” riff.

I don’t want to dive in first
You don’t want to hear these words
It’s only going to make it worse

So the band with each album has been on my radar and with each album they surprise with their diversity. This is another surprise. There’s hardly any distortion but the song still rocks hard.

Black Rain – Eclipse

They are from Stockholm, Sweden. They formed in 1999 and currently they are on Frontiers Records. Singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson also has a side gig writing songs for other artists. Frontiers Records constantly use him to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints even covered an Eclipse song on their debut album.

This song is here because of the lead break. The riff under it reminds me of “Hangar 18” by Megadeth, while the actual lead break itself is reminiscent of the “Mr Crowley” outro lead and the “Tornado of Souls” lead by Marty Friedman.

No Surrender – Art Of Anarchy
Changed Man – Art Of Anarchy
The Madness – Art Of Anarchy

I was really surprised by this release. Actually I was blown away by it. The lyrics more or less reference the schizophrenic breakdown of Scott Stapp. Hell you can call it a concept album.

“In ‘No Surrender’ I addressed those moments in life where you’ve reached a personal crossroads or crisis. That place where your back is against the wall and you’re left with two choices — to cave in and crumble allowing whatever circumstance to break you forever, or to rise up and fight through holding on to that never give up spirit that lies deep within. I detail in the verses personal experiences, as I lived them, that have taken me to that critical place of choice. Am I to give up, stay down and fade away or get up, fight on and never surrender.”
Scott Stapp

In “No Surrender”, Stapp is singing, “No way out, hit the flat line, we get up, no surrender, it’s your time, grab the lifeline, we get up, no surrender, no surrender”. There it is, the human spirit fighting for its place in society and the world at large.

In “The Madness”, Stapp is singing, “The madness keeps me from the other side”. And the other side is where he wants to be. Its greener, full of love and his family is there. He wants to be there with them.

In “Changed Man”, Stapp is singing, “Give me one more chance, cause I’m a changed man, it’s time to come back home”. You can hear the sorrow and regret in his voice.

You live, you make mistakes, you learn from the mistakes, you create memories and experiences and then you write songs about them. And while a lot of people I know pretend to be perfect and happy, reality is so much different.

The Violence – Rise Against

I came across this band via Guitar Hero. My kids had “Savior” up and man it was a pretty wicked song and I’ve been a fan since.

Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
Is the violence in our nature just the image of our maker?
Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
To become something greater
Than the violence in our nature?

I guess a few madmen who are in charge spoil it for the billions who don’t seek violence and war.

Pariah – Steve Wilson

Porcupine Tree or solo!

Does it really matter for Steve Wilson?

I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself

Can we ever really disconnect from society and people in our current social media driven times?

Carry Me My Bones – Corroded
A Note To Me – Corroded

It’s the acoustic version from “The Nevo Sessions”.

“Carry Me My Bones” in distortion is a pretty good song, but man, the acoustic version is swampy and groovy and rawer and better.

Carry me my tired bones

If only our bones could talk and tell us the secrets they hold of how they kept our body together in times of stress, being overworked, being drunk or depressed.

“A Note To Me”

I’m just a coward who hates everything about me
Everything I’ve done was a lie
It’s hard not to cry

Self-assessment or awareness of invulnerability is what makes us better.

I stand before you in my nakedness
I admit that I was wrong
My only hope is that you will forgive
And that someday, someday, will forget

I’m not perfect. I’ve said words that have hurt people. Some of them have forgiven me and others haven’t. But I’ve learnt from every word said in spite to be better.

Light Me Up – Doom Unit

It’s got this swampy bluesy feel which I really dig. Plus the vocal melodies are addictive. And they are from Finland. I’ll be honest, there is something in the culture water’s around Northern Europe because there is so much good music coming out of the region.

When I start another day
I’m slowly drowning all the way
Light me up

When the day isn’t happening the way you planned and nothing is going right for you, you need to focus on what you can control.

Human (Jim Eno Sessions) – Ran’n’Bone Man

Elton John reckons Rag’n’Bone man has the best new music out there. If you haven’t heard “Human” then you should. It’s a hit and it’s getting there slowly, as all good music does its converting people like me into it. This version is a simple piano/acoustic guitar version. It’s raw and the vocals are emotive.

I’m only human
I make mistakes

We all make mistakes. And we get a lot of chances to make amends and learn from those mistakes.

Playing With Fire – I Am Giant

I’m through with playing with games in the presence of a liar

It’s the opening line of this groovy little number.

Are we dragging up the past when I’ve walked the line already

Yes, our memories can have a negative impact. There are always things in the past that we regret. But, for some, regretful words, choices and actions remain with them forever. Every single memory from the past comes with an emotion. Get stuck with a past emotion and you roadblock your future.

Lost – Death Angel

I thought this was Adrenaline Mob when I heard it. And even though the song came out in 2016 on “The Evil Divide” album, I only just heard it, so it’s in my 2017 list. And it’s that bridge section that comes in at 2.50 that hooked me in.

Rain down on me and wash this pain away

In every ancient text, rain is seeing as the great redeemer. It’s part of Mother Nature’s arsenal to destroy the sins of man-made structures.

From The Flame – Leprous

I had to Google to find out more information about Leprous. Wikipedia tells me that Leprous is a Norwegian progressive metal band formed in 2001 and the band gained prominence as the backing band for former Emperor front man Ihsahn’s live shows.

You’ll find me here when I’m gone
Where I made my surrender

There is always a street, a home, a beach, a park where something went down. A paradigm shift so big that the person’s life was/is changed forever.

Send In The Clowns – End Of Green

This song is so gloomy but I like it. I have no idea who End of Green is or how the album sounds. All I know is that this song came up on my Release Radar playlist and it’s been a save from the outset.

So I went to Google to find out more. Check out what Wikipedia tells me.

End of Green is a German gothic/doom metal band formed in Stuttgart in 1992. According to singer Michael Huber, the band’s name implies the end of the colour green, which typically symbolizes hope. This fits with the type of music the band produces. The band describes its style as Depressed Subcore. The lyrics are about loneliness, depression, pain and death.

Damn right it’s depressing and yet there is something hypnotic about it.

In this moment so painful
I’ll wear the chains of the past

So true.

When we feel down, it’s the memories of the past that keep us weighed down, unable to get out of the hole. The words said or not said and the actions taken or the lack of actions taken. And those memories of the past normally come with an emotion. It we allow that emotion to control us, our current days will be pre-loaded with pain and angst.

All my life they have pushed me around

At some point in time, we will hit the wall. Like it or not, endings are real and there’s nothing that can be done. But all endings serve a purpose and are necessary. An un-loving or over controlling or violent relationship prevents us from reaching our potential. So what do we do, when we take back control of our lives?

Basically, good things cannot start to happen unless the bad ends.

Promised Land – Sweet & Lynch

People who know who I am and what my faith is all about know that heaven is often referred to as the Promised Land. That’s exactly what the song is about. How we struggle through life yet through it all, we need to stay strong and focused. Eventually, we’ll see the Promised Land.
Michael Sweet

“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”.

The promised land can be any place or event that you have kept a discipline or focus to get to. It could be the home you built or purchased or a personal achievement or goal.

My Fate – Vimic

Is this Joey Jordison’s third or fourth post Slipknot band?

The reason why this song is here happens from 3.15 to the end. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

And that outro guitar solo. You need to hear that as well to appreciate it.

I am the author of my fate

One of the best lines I’ve heard. The buck stops with you. The place you are in right now is because of you and the decision you made. You are the author of your fate.

Here I Stand – In Whispers

I got no idea who this band is and how many albums they have released. But this song came up on a Release Radar or Discover playlist and it was good enough to end up in my 2017 playlist.

The song originally hit YouTube in 2011. The album “Sound The Alarm” came out in March 2013. The first time I heard the song is in 2017. It’s the way of the world. Things take some time to get our attention.

Are you still around when it happens?

The main riff hooks me in, a combination of Judas Priest style riffing made famous by Avenged Sevenfold and Black Veil Brides in their songs. ‘Knives and Pens’ by Black Veil Brides sounds like Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Unholy Confessions”.

Here I stand
And I won’t fall down
Mercy me
With both my feet on the ground
Shame on me
Forever holding you down
Here I stand
And I won’t fall down

Every time I hear “Here I Stand” I think of standing before someone (a powerful entity, a corrupted employer or a loved one) to face judgement or punishment for some act in the past. Who gave the right to these people to judge upon me?

The Road – Quiet Riot

As soon as I heard the voice, it was familiar. 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 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.

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, the road is just you, the guys in the band, some members of the road crew and lonely miles between cities. A lot of artists don’t come back. Randy Rhoads didn’t come back home. Steve Ray Vaughan didn’t come back. A lot of the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t come back. Cliff Burton 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.

American Rock ‘n Roll – Kid Rock
Greatest Show On Earth – Kid Rock
Stand The Pain – Kid Rock

From his newest album “Sweet Southern Sugar”. I can’t say I’m a huge Kid Rock fan, but I do check out his stuff from time to time. I also caught him live on the Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour. He’s a showman and a very good one at that. These three songs are hard southern rock all the way and man, they are a joy to listen too. It’s like one big party jam committed to tape.

American Rock ‘n Roll

It’s the laid back rock of the 70’s which today is known as country rock.

“Headlights shining on rusted fences as I pass the rail yard”

I love the lyric. It brings back memories of the past regardless where you lived.

Fire up the lighter and a Lucky Strike
The radio’s saying “Take a walk on the wild side”

If you are a smoker today, you are seen as a fool.

Why would you put a cigarette in your mouth when you know how it kills ya? But once upon a time, smoking was a part of life, especially socially.

Give me that heart and that soul
American rock ‘n’ roll

Amen.

Greatest Show On Earth

It’s the in your face album opener. Again, it’s dirtied up blues in Kid Rock’s own unique way.

I’m a full-blown
Down home rolling stone
I’m a cyclone
I’ll shit wherever I roam

The attitude, groove and lyrical phrasing in the verses hook me in. Like any rocker who hits the road, they come and leave like a cyclone.

The Chorus, is the best Chorus that Aerosmith didn’t write.

Welcome to the greatest
Love you when you hate us
Welcome to the greatest f….. show on earth

A showman Kid Rock is. I saw him opening up for Bon Jovi on the  “Because We Can” tour and he nailed it. He had the stadium crowd in his hands and he took us on his journey. Even my wife, you never heard one single note from Kid Rock enjoyed the show.

Stand The Pain

It’s got the same message like all the rock anthems of the past. But it’s not a rocker. It’s a laid back rocker.

When it feels like you just can’t stand the pain
And when it feels there’s nothing left that you can do
Just bow your head down and plow right through

Working smarter is better than working harder. If the day’s events caused a massive change in your life, there is no use in attaching emotions to them because it will always end in pain. The best way is to move onto the new day and into new beginnings.

Sometimes life’s plans can be postponed
And it’s hard to step back out into the unknown

I’ve been in situations like this. I can plan for some future state but life is full of random variables which can never be foreseen. And suddenly, when these variables strike, I am navigating unknown roads, looking for answers.

You and Me – Farmers Boys

It’s weird to explain this band. It’s like Muse went a bit heavier. Wikipedia tells me they are a heavy metal band from Stuttgart, Germany and have been active since 1994. They reached their peak of popularity with their album “The World Is Ours” in 2000. Wikipedia further tells me their musical style is a blend of Machine Head’s groove metal and Paradise Lost’s gothic metal. Add Muse to that list.

You and me against them all; this is how it ends

Humans are excellent at finding something to be afraid of. This ranges from our partners, to the people in the shadows, to the faceless network of people conspiring against us and what we stand for and so forth. However, if there is someone who lets us down, it’s normally ourselves. Our doubt cripples us. Because of doubt, we don’t trust in our own abilities to try to do something new. But a time comes in all of our lives, when we become brave enough to rise.

We never giving up giving in
That’s how we bring the system down.
You and me carry on
’till all the kingdoms fall

Redefined – H.E.A.T
Best Of The Broken – H.E.A.T

H.E.A.T is a Swedish hard rock group formed in 2007. These songs are from album number 5. Yep, back in the 80’s, if an artist went global or continental, they might get to album number 5. In the internet era of 1999 plus, artists are getting to album number 5 and above without getting out of their own continent.

Redefined

You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we’re redefined
You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we are redefined

Our roles in society, relationships and our lives in general are constantly redefined. Sometimes by choices we made or by choices of others. And it’s okay if we make short-sighted bad decisions based on short-term thinking. Everyone does it. However not everyone can correct those decisions.

Best Of The Broken

Welcome, now, say goodbye
Good men will be sacrificed
We are the industry, running free
Wearing rings of cyanide

Damn right. The recording industry makes a lot of money. And that money buys them influence. When you have influence, you are basically allowed to run free and do whatever you want. However, when the internet introduced a new distribution system which the recording industry couldn’t control, they screamed and moaned and paid a lot of dollars to get laws written to give them back control.

Smalltown Boy – Apollo Drive

When I first heard the song I thought it was a Coldplay song from their earlier albums. It’s got an iconic piano riff and I’m thinking, this song is massive, why isn’t it a bigger hit. So I Google “Smalltown Boy” and I find out the original artist who performed it is Bronski Beat on their 1984 album “The Age Of Consent”. On their Spotify account, the song has 24 plus million streams, while the Apollo Drive account has only twenty thousand streams.

Anyway, I prefer the Apollo Drive. And it’s weird that in this day and age, I know nothing of the band. A quick Google search tells me they are from Sweden and they took their band name from a LA street where the deal was done to form the band.

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home
The love that you need will never be found at home

People had to escape their towns and head to the cities if they wanted to make something of themselves. Some succeeded, some failed and some just didn’t make it. It doesn’t have to be that way today. You can be somebody from the confines of your bedroom walls, while you still live with your parents.

Karma – Cyhra
Closure – Cyhra
Dark Clarity – Cyhra

I had to Google who Cyhra are. It’s like a Scandinavian supergroup. It features former Amaranthe vocalist Jake E., ex In Flames guitarist Jesper Strömblad, ex In Flames bassist Peter Iwers and drummer Alexander Landenberg from power metal outfit Rhapsody. The foundations are all based on friendship and a desire to create music.

Karma

Consumed by greed
You trade your hearts away
You don’t practice what you preach
Well you’re planting your own dismay

Is it about a band member that did them wrong or a manager or someone else that ripped them off? Either way, it’s a brilliant verse.

And the song is a cross between the Euro modern metal vibe of their earlier bands with Bon Jovi style Choruses. It’s brilliant and I’m a fan.

Closure

It’s got some wicked harmonies for a ballad.

And every single argument’s
Like walking on glass
Whatever the setback
I’ll never look back

Damn right it is. An argument is never fully finished because each party feels like they should have said more, so it just sits there until next time.

Dark Clarity

Again, harmony guitars kick off the song and once the drums come in, it’s moshing time.

I’m romancing a cliché
In this life we portray
We conduct our own demise
I want to break out

We wear so many masks in our daily lives. Sometimes it gets so much living a cliché, we just want to rip those masks off, before it’s too late.

Angel Of Mercy – Black Label Society

I don’t know what it is, but man this song gets the hairs rising on the back of my neck. It brings back memories. I can just imagine lying on my bedroom floor listening to this on headphones! For those that don’t know, the song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society. It’s not a 2017 release but it’s been in my playlist since it came out in 2014.

The lead break is pure magic. It just explodes out of the speakers and builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display. The song will never be a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

Til It’s Gone – Kenny Chesney

He’s a country rocker and this song sounds like those southern rock bands of the Seventies for some reason. It’s from his 2014 album, “The Big Revival”. I had to look him up to see what’s the go because to be honest I don’t follow country music. Wikipedia tells me he has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. Goes to show that you could be king of your niche/genre but it doesn’t mean that everybody in the world knows who you are.

Got nowhere to go and all night to get there
But I’m going there with you

It’s the opening line of the song and it hooks me in.

The Doomed – A Perfect Circle

I really dig A Perfect Circle. “The Doomed” is their first piece of new music since 2013 and scheduled to appear on their fourth studio album, their first in 14 years. I suppose anything that involves Maynard from Tool, takes time to fruition.

Wikipedia tells me that the song’s origins go back to a small orchestral part written by guitarist/founder Billy Howerdel, who was writing the soundtrack for the indie film D-Love during the band’s downtime in 2015. The part didn’t end up making it in the film; however Howerdel sent the part to band vocalist Maynard James Keenan which Keenan then in return asked Howerdel to write a song around it.

And with anything involving Maynard, the lyrics generate a lot of debate.  Howerdel mentioned that, to him, the song is about how power corrupts the people in control of the world.

Behold the new Christ
Behold the same old horde

It doesn’t matter who gets voted in or who leads a nation or a company. The people who forced out the previous leader are still there. The faceless horde is still scheming and plotting.

Blessed are the fornicates
May we bend down to be their whores?
Blessed are the rich
May we labor, deliver them more

I guess not much has changed in human history. The majority of People are still building the dreams of a few people.

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful

If you have a pure heart and a utopian vision, you are doomed. Lies and deceit rule the day. Ignorance and race rule the day. Money and power rule our lives.

You’re on your own!”

We are always on our own.

Rags to Riches – Babylon A.D

“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.

Wanderlust – Black Country Communion

I dig this “super” group. First, I am a fan of Joe Bonamassa on guitar. Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals is a no brainer. Then when you add the rest of the personal, you can see it’s got some serious cred.

I don’t know what the song is about lyrically. I don’t really care, because the sounds, the groove and the feel hook me in.

Forever Alone – Bigfoot

I dig this. It’s got a cool Journey vibe circa 1980-1983. So I had to Google them to find out more and to be honest, the Google search didn’t give me back much information except they are on Frontiers Records (which is no surprise),

What I did find is they are a 5 piece Hard Rock band based in Wigan, England, formed in 2014. Their website tells me they have influences stemming from many different genres from The Eagles to Pantera.

And this song sounds like Journey.

The Outsider – Black Veil Brides
My Vow – Black Veil Brides

You either dig BVB or hate BVB. There is no in between. Personally, I got into the band because of the guitarists and by album number 3, the songs started to grow on me. These two songs are from album number 5, called “Vale” due to be released January 2018.

The Outsider

You know how A7X copped flack for cloning some great metal songs on “Hail to the King”. Well, I think BVB cloned the whole A7X album on this song. And that my friend is why I love music. The familiarity of the melodies and the sounds.

This wall of stone
That they built to cage our minds

No truths or facts will change a mind that doesn’t want to be changed. And our viewpoints from birth are shaped by the social tribes we grew up in. Eventually as we get older, we start our own research and start to form our own views. And some of us just remain with the views that we grew up with.

Say a prayer, every night
All we hear must be right
I am the outsider

The power of religion is huge. Those words in the Bible are treated like truth. But people are forming different views. I always say that the entities with the power get to rewrite history in a way that it suits them. The wealthiest entity in the world is religion.

My Vow

The way the song starts off hooks me in. The riffs are classic heavy metal straight from the metal 80’s.

Like a bomb that ticks when my heart clicks
I’ll be left for dead with what I’ve said

Such a cool lyric about the moment when the words you say are like a bomb going off in a room.

And that lead break is shredalicious.

Bloodline Lullaby – Otherwise

As soon as it starts, I am reminded of “The Afterman” by Coheed and Cambria.

Another day, another moon

So true.

Any time you’re feeling lonely
Just listen to the wind, you’ll hear me
Sing your song across the sky
This is our bloodline lullaby

It’s about being a parent, the bloodline that ties father to child.

Crazy as it seems, love in the spotlight
Chasing out a dream, living through fault line
You are all I need, you’re my everything
Counting down the hours, so how the time flies
Running the miracle mile, crossing the state lines
I’m right here with you, always true

And that’s the truth. Once you become a parent, your priorities change. Suddenly the spotlight you craved ceases to be the most important thing in your life. And on tour, you are counting down the days before you get back home to see your son or daughter. Not all artists have those same feelings, only some.

God of the Sun – Sons of Apollo
Alive – Sons Of Apollo
Labyrinth – Sons Of Apollo

When I read that Portnoy/Sherinian started a project together I wasn’t interested. However as a fan of Ron Bumblefoot Thal, I was suddenly very interested. And when I read that Portnoy/Sherinian tapped Jeff Scott Soto to do vocals, I was very intrigued.

Any fan of progressive rock/metal will love this album. It has everything that all the great albums have. Even the musical interludes are memorable and hummable, which has become a forgotten art form over the last 15 years as bands play more technical and physically exhausting intricate passages in their songs.

God of the Sun

The Arabian Middle Eastern feel in the intro hooks me in right away and when Bumblefoot kicks in with the riff at 1.20, its breaking desk time. But it gets even better at the 2 minute mark with another head busting, desk breaking riff. And when JSS starts singing at the 2.30 minute mark, the feel is laid back and very Kashmir like in the groove.

Cause I am the light
Surrender tonight
I am the face of tomorrow
Now I’ve just begun
You can’t hide or run
Cause I am the god of the sun

JSS brings out his Dio influences in the chorus. Hell, this passage could have appeared on a Dio/Malmsteen album.

Then at the 5 minute mark, the song moves into a laid back solo section before going all proggy at the 7 minute mark.

Even though I am not a drummer, I remember watching a video of Mark Portnoy discussing how he drums certain songs and he spoke about a cool little technique called Stretch and Grow. It’s like they play a 4 bar riff, with a 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, but this time, the 2 bars of the melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, and the now 3 bars of the melodic passage. You can see how they are stretching and growing the 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff and 4 bars of the melodic passage.

Then they start contract the “Stretch and Grow” back to the 1 bar melodic passage. So it basically goes, 4 bar riff, 4 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 3 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 2 bar melodic passage and it all ends with the same 4 bar riff and 1 bar melodic passage.

And that my friend is Prog 101.

Alive

It’s about drug use. Hell, most of the addictions we have these days are legal ones. Prescription drugs, nicotine and alcohol are all-powerful legal drugs.

Colorize the sadness; the fear is black and white
Tunnel of denial, looking for the light
The devil on my shoulder, the master of disguise
Can you hear him singing?

The song is a power ballad.

Labyrinth

Stare at the wall
Pray for reflection

The black mirror screens we stare at are the walls that reflect back at us.

Cause it takes me in
And I can’t let go
But I’ll never win
In this labyrinth

Social media is a labyrinth. Our quest in connection has created a labyrinth which takes us in and never lets us go. I know the song is not about social media, but making the connection is easy.

Time stands still in this virtual land
There’s no winning this losing hand

And the way the song weaves in and out of progressive rock and hard rock, is like a labyrinth.

Internal Masquerade – Galactic Cowboys

This band had a lot of promo from Geffen Records back in the day, but the audience just didn’t come. Eventually they got dropped and disappeared, only to return. And what a nice return it is.

As soon as the intro riff kicks in, I’m hooked. It’s a combination of natural harmonics and scalar runs, outlining the chord progression.

I’m your fear from deep inside
I’m the hate that you can’t hide
I’m the demons that comprise your very soul
I’m the rose amongst the thorns
I’m the angel with the horns
I’m the deeper darker side of you

How many times have you smiled but really felt like ripping the other person’s head off in rage. We all have that darker side.

The Sin And The Sentence – Trivium
Other Worlds – Trivium
Beyond Oblivion – Trivium
The Revanchist – Trivium
Endless Night – Trivium

It was the James Hetfield vocals on “The Crusade” that hooked me in. Fast forward almost 10 years later and Trivium is still at it and still kicking some butt.

The Sin and the Sentence

The first thing that comes to mind is the T1000 Cybernetic drummer. Wow, the speed and precision. Human capabilities never cease to amaze me.

You better practice your lines
You better practice your words
I know that real monsters lie
Between the light and the shade

Hell, this could be directed at any leader of a democratic country. Isn’t it funny how democratically elected leaders want to turn their country into a totalitarian state, like the same ones our grandfathers went to war to defeat?

You condemn me
Cause you don’t understand me

And that my friend’s is life in a nutshell. The politicians are so out of touch with society and reality, they don’t understand us. They are so wrapped up in their ivory towers I bet if a journalist asked any leader of the U.S, U.K or Australia for the price of bread and milk, they wouldn’t know the answer.

Beyond Oblivion

Matt Heafy sure knows how to write a catchy chorus.

(What have we done?) Creations devised
(What have we done?) To put an end to all life?

Have you seen the AI demonstration that Elon Musk put out on his twitter account. It’s scary. Very scary.

A dead road, a dark sun
Now waits beyond oblivion

Maybe in our quest to conquer nature and get other people to work for us, we create tools that will end up destroying us.

Other Worlds

Cause we’re living in other worlds
Breathing in other worlds

Let me see how many worlds I live in. My home world, my work world, my sporting world, my music world, my social world, my parents world and to be honest I can keep on going forever.

The problem in relationships is when one person spends their time living in a world more than the other person. For example, one person is spending their time living in their home world, while another person is spending their time living in their social world. Suddenly we have a disconnect and a problem.

The Revanchist

Hell I didn’t even know what “Revanchist” meant. Google dictionary tells me it’s “an advocate or supporter of a political policy of revanche, especially in order to seek vengeance for a previous military defeat.” Hell, World War II is a perfect example. The song is a perfect example of storytelling.

I’ve been waiting here on the outside
I’ve been watching you from afar

It sounds like the revanchist is vetting supporters.

You say you’ve lost your world, you say you’ve lost your faith
I’ll be the shelter in the dark, clothe you in my hate

Indoctrination.

Profiteers and preachers
Sycophants and leachers

It doesn’t matter from what social circle you come from. The Revanchist will accept and indoctrinate all.

The Revanchist, his thoughts become mine
How deep they become intertwined
He said, “Submit for salvation, submit for salvation”
The age old lie

The followers are ready to submit themselves to the war of the revanchist. It’s their salvation.

Thunder High On The Mountain – Joe Satriani

It’s one of Satriani’s stronger songs released recently. Just the way it starts it off, with the war like click drum, the orchestra hits and a finger tapped legato line, is brilliant. I’m hooked and I’m paying attention. And the movements between section works.

New World – Robert Plant

This song surprised me when I heard it. The mood, the groove and the vocal melody all work together.

In songs we praise a happy landing
On yet another virgin shore
Escape the booming world
Embrace the new world
Out here the immigrant takes hold
Across the planes and over mountains
Put flight to all who came before
They’re barely human
It’s time to move them
And let them kneel before the sword

Human’s quest for land and power led to cultures being eradicated or enslaved.

Find Your Way Home – King King
Broken – King King

There is a lot of good music out there and artists like “King King” are virtually unknown in the major music markets. It was their cover of Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy” that made me a fan.

Find Your Way Home

It’s a cool bluesy ballad.

How did it work out they we’d be enemies?
Where did everything go wrong?
When the sun goes down on your memories
Please find your way home

He’s basically saying, those memories with emotions attached are killing the relationship. When the sun goes down on them and basically kills em off, come home. He’ll be waiting there for you.

Broken

This world is broken
We can’t hold on
My hope is fading
Our faith is almost gone

We need something to change. The world and our governments of the free world have been hijacked by money.

This Is War – Audrey Horne

My favourite supergroup of extreme metallers (along with “The Night Flight Orchestra”) is back with a new album that brings back memories of the Seventies and Eighties. Once the harmony guitars that sound like “Fear Of The Dark” from Maiden kick in, I’m ready to throw my computer screen at the window.

It’s brilliant.

We will never be silence or divided
This is war

My 2017 call to arms.

Miracle – Story of the Year

I Swear I’m OK – Story of the Year

This band is a favourite of mine. They can be rock, metal and pop all on one album. Their label stuffed em up, by labelling them that whole emo rock/hard-core tag.

I need this more than you know
I need a miracle
Tell me I’m not alone
Please don’t let me go

You are in the situation where change is needed. Your old self needs to be washed off and a new being needs to rise. But you need to make hard choices. Are you read for what will come after? Are you read to let go of what you know?

I’m not the man I promised I would be

It’s from “I Swear I’m OK”. I never make promises as they always lead to disappointment. I can try to commit to do things differently but promises can never be measured.

Nevermore (Acoustic) – Art of Dying

For some reason, when “Art Of Dying” goes acoustic, they rock harder.

Waking Lions – Pop Evil

Waking the lions in me
I’m waking the lions in me

We all have that grit and resilience inside of us. If we choose to do something with it, is a different story all together.

And that my friends brings 2017 to close.

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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, Unsung Heroes

Difference Between A Million and 7 Million

It’s great to see David Coverdale celebrate the 20 and 30 year anniversary of the 1987 self-titled Whitesnake album.

Dokken and the work Lynch did with the band is another favourite of mine during this period and Lynch’s guitar work is a huge influence on my guitar playing and style. But “Back for the Attack” released on November 2, 1987 gets no anniversary treatment. It gets no attention and is rarely part of the conversation.

But back in 1987 it was everywhere. The momentum started with “Dream Warriors” which was released in February 1987 to promote “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”. Back in those days, fans from different regions had to deal with windowed releases. The U.S got it first, then a few months later Europe got it and a few months after that Asia/Australia got it. Basically, for nine months, Elektra Records flogged “Dream Warriors” to death over a staggered windowed release.

So when the album dropped, people purchased. I was one of those people who devoured all the credits on albums. I don’t know why, I just found it interesting to see who wrote the songs, who produced the album, who mixed it and the places used for recording it. And I always asked myself why a band would use so many different recording studios to record an album. It doesn’t make sense to set up, pack up and reset up at another studio. And I saw a lot of different studios on the “Back For The Attack” credits and I had to google it to be sure.

The band recorded in 5 different studios around LA. The record labels are not stupid. They get the studios at a discounted rate and then charge the band the general rate + 20% for using them, which the labels will then recoup from the sales of the album. Even though the album sold in excess of a million copies in the U.S, I bet ya, the band was still in debt to the label.

So what does 1 million sales in 1987 mean in 2017.

Well if i use Spotify stats, 1 million sales in 1987 leads to 1.7 million streams of “Dream Warriors”. “Alone Again” has the most streams on Dokken’s Spotify account at 6 million plus streams. Being on a Spotify playlist of 80’s Power Ballads does help. What the stats do show is how a million sales in 1987 doesn’t equal a million fans. The same way a million illegal downloads don’t equal a million lost sales. As I’ve said many times on this blog;

  • A person could have purchased the album, heard it once and traded it
  • Another person could have purchased the album, heard it 10 times and then just added it to the collection or traded it.
  • Another person could have purchased the album, listened to it and still listens to it today.

Even in YouTube, “Alone Again” has 1.5 million plus views. “Dream Warriors” (official music video on RHINO’s account) has 985,000 plus views and on the 80sRockClassics account it has 2.72 million plus views. Compared to how big Dokken was in the 80’s, these numbers are anaemic, because “Is This Love” from Whitesnake has 37 plus million streams while the “Here I Go Again” version from “Saints and Sinners” has 40 plus million streams and when you add the 60 million streams from the 1987 radio edit version and 1987 remastered version, “Here I Go Again” is topping 100 million streams.

Why the large disconnect?

Coverdale sang about not knowing where he is going, but he knew where he had been. And he’s made up his mind that he needs to keep going over and over again, so he can keep those promises he made to himself in the past.

And people from all walks of life and different musical genres could relate and connect with the words of Coverdale.

Don Dokken on the other hand sang about how there’s no justice in falling in love because it gives someone blindness when they are the one because a group called “they” are holding the gun. Seriously, they are the dumbest lyrics I have seen/heard, which is a shame because “Heaven Sent” has excellent music and melodies.  Meanwhile in “Kiss Of Death” Don’s telling us about a brief encounter in the woods with a female vampire and in “Dream Warriors” Don’s weary eyes couldn’t face the unknown and he doesn’t want to dream no more. I’ve heard soundtrack songs that don’t follow the movie storyline which work and I’ve heard soundtrack songs that follow the movie storyline which also work and some which don’t work. Musically, Dokken the band was top-notch, but lyrically, not so good. Seriously, “Unchain The Night”. How can you do that?

And the choice of words, my friends, is the major difference between 7 million in sales and 1 million in sales. The major difference between 100 million streams and a million streams. The major difference between albums getting the anniversary treatment or not.

There’s a reason why “Livin’ On A Prayer” is more popular than “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and the rest of Jovi’s songs. There’s a reason why “Kickstart My Heart” is more popular than all the other Crue songs. For Metallica, “Enter Sandman” is the most streamed with 185 million streams due to it being on Spotify’s own playlists of metal essentials and also by being very high up on the playlist. However, “Nothing Else Matters” is the song with the words that connect and it has 163 million streams.

In the end lyrics matter and that’s why people who don’t play in bands and write songs for others have a career in music. Because they can write good lyrics. It’s why Sharon Osbourne hired Bob Daisley over and over again to write lyrics for Ozzy. You can beat a good lyricist.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Attention 

Once upon a time I was thrilled to see my heroes in mainstream publications. But now there are a billion online outlets and we get most of our stories direct from the artist via social media. And the generation born from the mid 90’s onwards want an immediate bond with the artist, a connection. They don’t care about interviews artists do when they are releasing an album with magazines and blogs. By working in the old rules, the artist is handing over their own narrative to someone else to control. It doesn’t make sense especially when the tools are right in front of them to take ownership and tell their own story, the way they want to tell it. 

But humans do tend to be lazy.

EBay has 171 million users and it’s struggling to stay relevant. So how is any different for an artist. I constantly come across news stories of artists telling people who don’t care their streaming payment after a million streams. Want to make money in streaming, get over a 100 million streams. Want to make even more money, get over a billion streams. One thing is certain, streaming will pay you forever, so metal and rock fans need to stream en masse. 

Which means metal/rock bands need to get out of the “album mindset” and focus on the “continuous stream of product mindset”. If you want to win, you need to play, so it means you need to be in the marketplace all the time. The new way is to release music first and the hype comes after. But artists/record labels are still focused on hype first and then release.

There is money to be made, but the music needs to have longevity. It needs to sustain. Bubbling under the surface is better than exploding fast and then falling fast. And if something doesn’t work, you adjust on the fly. That’s how it works in the digital world. Nothing is set in stone. It’s chaos, anarchy. Artists need to create anarchy with their product instead of following the 1930’s marketing 101 rules.

And how many times have you heard of an act employing a scorched earth publicity campaign, which they hope will turn people onto the band or make people believe the band is bigger than what they really are. But they forgot that the music accompanying the release is of substandard quality. And it’s the music that will survive, not the publicity campaign.

Remember, all the digital places that lost our attention. It’s no different for an artist.

People will care about you; love what you do, your music and your connection to them via social media. Then some of those people will grow and change and fall out of love with what you do. You need to accept that and understand that your fans are telling you one thing; your style of music is not for them at this point in time. And once you are aware of this information, what will you do with it to get back their attention.

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