The Melvins commemorated their 30 years of existence as the single most consistent & recognizable troubadours of American metal and hardcore with a anniversary tour that summarized their entire career with key members of the band in-tact. Supported on this leg of their tour by the Southern metal group, Honky, the Melvins stormed into Slim’s and hit the crowd with a walloping set that reminded their loyal fans how vital their music is.
Buzz Osbourne, or King Buzzo, took the stage in a sort of spaced-themed muumuu with his signature hair now grayed but majestic as ever. One of the more admirable and larger-than-life figures I’ve ever seen live, his voice and chops were fully on-point as he tore through classics like “Hooch’ and “Lizzy”. The signature bruising rhythm-section was incredible, as well. Drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren pounded through songs together, while Crover and Willis linked the setlist together with solo interludes and a bombastic outro.
The Melvins continue to be prolific, live and on record, with a covers album, Everybody Loves Sausages, released earlier this year and a new full-length with original member Mike Dillard, Tres Cabrones, due out in November.
James Mathé’s Barbarossa is quite an interesting and unique band. I realized this when getting into the first song of his new album called Bloodlines. One of the things he has said about the creation of his songs is that “ The best stuff usually comes when I’m hungover or not really thinking. The minute I try to be clever with words, it just sounds shit.” That is just brutal honesty right there and I love it! Emotion is the most important thing to me personally when expressing yourself; if you turn it into a practiced routine everything gets stale and the art suffers. This is not the only album James has done, his debut album Chemical Campfires released in 2008, since then he has gained notoriety as being one of the leading edge acoustic musicians in the British music scene.
Barbarossa is considered electronica, but doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard before due to the use of the acoustics he has within his album. The organ is just sooo funky! The use of the organ brings a haunting yet familiar tone to his works, it’s almost chilling and allows his lyrics to hit their target with even greater accuracy. In his first song entitled Bloodline he begins with the slow lead in of the organ followed by a drum beat. The rhythmic beat those two create really feels like a requiem that you would see at a funeral. I don’t think you would see many requiems these days but that doesn’t matter as this type of work is still prominent today, and as we see here it’s still used. Even though this may all seem sad it isn’t, the song’s lyrics speak of moving and carrying what you can with you. A positive message if I ever heard one. The load is more of something I would hear from electronica, but the beats definitely have more of a rock feel to them. I like how electronia bands are branching out and becoming a lot more varied than just the techno scene they were once known for. I for one never knew a lot of this was possible until the past few years when artists began to experiment with emulating what acoustic bands do. His lyrics are again powerful with a lesson about taking things for granted that we can all be accused of. Barbarossa seems to have taken a heavy tone with this album and is touching on some deep subjects. Another interesting piece of work is Battles, which makes use of the drum beat that imitates the battle drums of wars long past. Talk of silence amongst the physical confrontation of the song by both the lyrics and rhythm integrate here exceptionally well. The song emanates the feeling of loss and conflict quite well.
It’s always hard to catch problems with an album you like but we’re going to try anyways. I do feel his lyrics were a little weak and hard to understand in some songs, I had to look up what he actually said a couple of times. The organ that I love within many of his songs also does feel out of place here and there. I don’t think it was easy to incorporate it so that meant that there were a few mess-ups along the way. He did state however that he recorded this album on analog equipment because he intended there to be mess ups to increase the organic feel of the album.
Overall Bloodlines was a very good album, I enjoyed the uniqueness of the sound James Mathé has created. It has a funky and very fresh new look to electronica, at least here in the states. I would recommend this album to someone who is interested in fresh perspectives and deep thought when they listen to their music. Bloodlines is on sale now so go check it out!
Run The Jewels shook up the hip-hop arena when they released a 33 minute album with the biggest set of balls on it this year. When the first show at The Independent sold out, they opened it for another night. I was lucky to see their set on Tuesday night thanks to Jill from Another Planet Entertainment – many thanks for giving 402 access. Before diving right into the review, here’s a bit of history on how the hell Killer Mike and El-P ended up recording this collaboration together:
After El-P produced Killer Mike’s critically acclaimed “R.A.P. Music” – the two hit it off so well that they found enough common ground to mix their sounds into a new syringe. Initially El-P wasn’t planning on doing Killer Mike’s full record, as he was working on Cancer 4 Cure at the same time. But after phone calls from the studio, and Mike himself phoning daily, El-P broke down and dove in – discovering magic once the two went into the studio full time.
Killer Mike’s lyrics have always been socially conscious and rage-filled while El-P keeps his flow esoteric and abrasive. There’s a comfortable middle ground on this record as the two create tongue-in-cheek humor with a brooding seriousness.
El-P had Despot open, who still hasn’t released his album produced by Ratatat (obligatory shit for making us wait). He speaks like Mitch Hedberg and flipped a switch into sharp tongued flow. There was no doubt why El-P was promoting the hell out of this guy, and why fans are eagerly awaiting his debut. The set was a one-man-show with Despot controlling his own beats in between tracks and rapping over them. By the end of his set, he left San Francisco with the promise of a release very, very soon. We can hope!
Killer Mike took the stage to perform his solo material, and it was as raw and sincere as I’ve been told. In equal measure he rapped and talked about social injustice and localized movements in San Francisco – thanking the audience for being so progressive. At one point, he came into the audience and rattled off a verse that had the everyone huddling into a shoe gaze of goosebumps. I have a snippet on my cell phone, but said “fuck it”, I’d rather not watch it through my “retina screen” – eyes are better…ok, here’s the clip…
El-P came on next with a darker stage setup and brought out some old material along with the more screaming Cancer 4 Cure stuff. When “The Full Retard” skipped over the speakers, the place exploded like a grenade.
The real wait was for the two to join up on stage and, unlike other shows, they didn’t give anyone time to make bar runs. Before I could take another breath, the two came on stage and started their Run The Jewels material from track one. With chains placed over their heads like a proper English ceremony, they shook hands and began the slaughter. The two had constant nods to each other on stage as the energy and chemistry was incendiary – shoulder leaning, chain adjusting, and a Killer Mike on speed.
THE ALBUM REVIEW
402 Productions have been fans of El-P and Killer Mike’s work for a while, so when we heard about a collaboration album, we had high hopes. I was fortunate enough to take on this review and give my thoughts on what made it so special.
Run The Jewels flows through its 33 minute cycle without a single skip, and each play through brought out something new I hadn’t noticed before. By listen number 30, I was still finding myself throwing it on in the car and playing it through. The abrasiveness is cut with humor and absurdity, but not enough to make it a running joke. In fact, the flow is so strong that it sounds effortless with production that is some of the most dynamic and complex you’ll find. In this way, it was the antithesis to recent hip-hop. I want to mention Kanye West’s new album that was hailed (rightfully so) as being one to watch this year. I loved the auditory slam he was able to rap over as it was experimental and a departure into the dark. But after hearing Run The Jewels, it brought me back down to earth and made me realize that the production on the record was hiding some of the biggest flaws in the lyrics and fluidity. The list of producers is so long on Yeezus that it should be a David Foster Wallace novel. Not only did El-P and Killer Mike organize an audio slaughterhouse, but they created a lyrical dynamo in the same breath. Just another day in Brooklyn.
If two guys can pull off a record that is, as promised, “the most beef and broc on your fuckin’ block”, it makes you wonder what’s to be said of huge production teams behind an artist who sings about being a god…waiting for his damn croissants.
Run The Jewels is the heaviest record of the year, the most lyrically complex, and the most well produced. El-P has proven himself in the industry, and collaborating with Killer Mike not only showed his versatility, but how far he can raise the bar in a genre bloated with sameness. If you haven’t heard it, it’s cheaper than the white tee shirt Kanye was selling for over $100, because it’s free, and you’ll have it on repeat in your car for the rest of the year.
This was a reminder that good hip-hop is still evolving and pushing back against the mainstream cluster – even with a tweaking Miley Cyrus plaguing us on Vevo…unless you like that sort of thing. Hip-hop needed a slap to the face, and it was delivered so well that I’d be shocked to see someone challenge the skill. Big props to both artists for mixing a socially conscious message into a brilliant lyrical atmosphere.
I’m nominating Killer Mike and El-P’s collaboration “Run The Jewels” for the 2013 Album of the Year. Real talk.
Simone Fiorletta’s “Personalities” is an instrumental metal/rock album that was released on June 7 and was somewhat elusive to me for quite some time, however it was all worth it in the end. Fiorletta is an Italian rock guitarist that is starting to garner attention worldwide with his instrumental albums. He began his career in instrumental rock with his first album entitled “The Life Inside” in 2004 and has garnered much momentum by building upon his work and refined it to a more mature level. He uses a wide range of attitudes, or personalities if you will, throughout his new album to weave a multifaceted and complex sound experience.
For me “Personalities” has been a completely pleasurable experience to listen to. The album itself has an incredible uniqueness to it that has made it unlike any other instrumental album I have encountered. It really reminds of how Japanese rock sounds with a twist something I can’t put my finger on. Japanese rock has a special place in my heart from when I was kid and watched anime, especially Bleach. His first song of note is entitled “Waiting To See You Again” and it is absolutely my favorite song at this point in time. The rhythm, tempo, and timbre of the song are absolutely spot on for producing a feeling of excitement and call to action. This is the song that reminds me of those long 16 episode anime fights I used to watch . It’s also a great workout song because of its rhythmic tone that just gets the blood pumping when you need it most! “Thirty” is also another amazing song that is worth discussing. Another blood pumping type song, his sense of how his rhythm flows within the song and makes his guitar scream is just incredible. Fiorletta has a near sixth sense with his guitar, he utilizes everything it has to offer in the creation of this wonderful album. In “Time of War”, Simone brings out his funky guitar and really brings the 70s back to the present. With his impressive rifts throughout the piece he really gives the current generation a taste of the old funk rock of days long past.
For the first time since I started reviewing albums here at 402 productions I have zero complaints about an album. The only one I can think of is it’s a crime that people who enjoy rock/metal haven’t heard this album yet!
Overall this album is a must buy. If you are a fan of the guitar and love instrumentals you NEED to pick up this album. It’s worth the effort to pick up “Personalities” as it is an impressive collection of what Simone Fiorletta is capable of. I really think he is someone that should be watched because he is only going to get bigger from here on out. So do yourself a favor and pick this album up today and before you know it your hair will be standing on end and doing an air guitar like I do when I go through his album! Happy listening!
Hands brought their recently buzzed-about synthpop sound to San Francisco’s Brick & Mortar Music Hall this past Friday. Supported by local upstarts Be Calm Honcho and the dark bluesy folk of Ally Hasche & The Bad Boys, Hands played through their debut album, Synesthesia, and the soaring melodies and impassioned performace of singer Geoff Halliday and crew really won me over into the thinking that this is a band to look out for.
The melodic choice cuts of the album, such as “Brave Motion,” “The Game Is Changing Us,” “Take It All,” and “Nothing But Animals” were things to behind in their live forms. Nuances were unearthed in live incarnations of the cuts that didn’t jump out at me on the record such as the circuitous, call-and-response track “Lonesome Body,” and guitarist Ryan Sweeney’s creeping arpeggio on “Elegant Road.” The rhythm section of Scott Hess and Alex Staniloff was, incredibly, just as lock-step tight as on record, which is no small feat given the twisty, dynamic compositions.
The combination of a fresh new band and an intimate venue combined well and the crowd didn’t seem quite prepared for such a flawless set. As Hands continue to ride the cresting wave of “bands you should know” media buzz, this crowd is going to multiply fast.
The Thermals recently came through the New Parish in Oakland to finish a massive tour supporting their new LP, Desperate Ground. Supported by the up-and-coming Audacity and the local group Victory and Associates, the trio of singer/guitarist Hutch Harris, bassist Kathy Foster, and drummer Westin Glass ran through a great setlist, spanning their 10+ year discography with mammoth energy. Slicing through songs like “How We Know,” “The Sunset,” and “Here’s Your Future” at a blistering pace, the Thermals combined their great songcraft with a exhaustively passionate performance.
If the crowd was any indication, the Portland group has amassed an awesome following with their decade of service to the literate-poppy-post-punk community.The Thermals responded to their eager throng with crowd-dives by Harris and Glass and heartfelt gratitude throughout the set.
After accumulating a great deal of press for their brilliant 2012 debut LP, Light Up Gold, Parquet Courts rewarded a sold-out crowd at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop with a raucous set. Bay Area openers Pang and Cocktails primed the crowd well for the Brooklyn-via-Texas foursome, who would send them into the throes of a sweaty, drunken rumble.
Parquet Courts played much of Light Up Gold, yet introduced a few new tracks as well as some deeper cuts to round-out their set. Alternating between barn-burning punk and slightly more languid rock, the band displayed an ability to both condense and stretch-out moments.
Songs like “Master My Craft,” “Light Up Gold,” and “Yonder Is Closer To The Heart” are Mark E. Smith-influenced lyrically, yet pack more jagged, straight-ahead energy than most of The Fall’s material. Comparisons are odious, however, and Parquet Courts do plenty live and on record to justify their hype.
Welcome to the second day of the FPSF recap. Day one was exhausting… the sun was relentless and the amount of people didn’t help matters any. Day two, however… was much nicer. During the night and the morning it had rained quite a bit and remained cloudy until around 5 that afternoon.
As we made our way to see Matt and Kim, we stopped and listened to Cat power for a few songs.
Matt and Kim
I never realized just how energetic this duo is!! They really know how to get an audience going, and if they come back to Houston soon, i’ll definitely be seeing them. Also, they sound amazing live…. probably even better than in studio.
Of Monsters and Men
The whole reason I went to Free Press… was just to see this band. Sure the other bands were totally worth it… but this was what sold my ticket. I love Of Monsters and Men. My Head is an Animal (their first and only CD) as been in my car for about 6 months. So was I disappointed? Heck no… they were great, and we actually got really close to them. The setlist did need some tweaking, because at one point Ragnar Þórhallsson (male lead singer) said “this next song is about friendship, and it’s called “Your Bones” (queue me screaming like a little girl) “. Then the band did a little huddle and they changed the song to “Love Love Love”. The audience and I sort of felt cheated because, they had promised us “Your Bones” only to never play it…. bummer. Still a great show though.
Macklemore… sort of
Okay, so Of Monsters and Men ran over, and we were late to Macklemore. this was the closest we could actually get.. it was insane. The walk there seemed like a parade because everyone was heading to the same venue. I will say though, that I was impressed with his performance. Even though we pretty much were watching him on the two big screens, he is a very gifted rapper. The crowd when wild for “Same Love” and “Can’t Hold Us” and I assume they did the same for “Thrift Shop” as well.. but we missed it.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
That woman you see above… as more talent than some famous people in the spotlight today. She was a powerhouse… not many people can cover the Black Sabbath classic “War Pigs” and make my jaw hit the floor like her and her band did. She’s balls to the wall rock n’ roll as she is sweet and sensual. I had a blast watching Grace Potter and the Nocturnals preform, we were pretty close and the surrounding mood was light, and so was the crowd. Which turned out perfect for us because we managed to get pretty close.
For those of you who don’t know, Free Press Summer Fest is a huge annual summer festival in Houston, Texas. The festival, which is two days long, takes place in Eleanor Tinsley Park located near Houston’s Theatre District. The festival was PACKED!! In the weeks before the show, it sold out… for the first time it’s the festival’s history. Ticket prices skyrocketing from $70 t0 over $180.. and that’s only General Admission as room in the park became limited. All of the pictures you see are only from day one. Keep in mind that the show was sold out, and brusting at the seems with people. My camera work might not be the best, but I made do with the equipment (or lack there of) and stage distance (thank you 12x optical zoom).
This was the first band we was, and they sure do know how to please the crowd. If you’re a fan of the band’s smash hit “Hold On”. Then you should be pleased to know that the picture right above is taken right right from the beginning of the chorus “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD OOOOOOONNNNN”
Arctic Monkeys did a Fantastic job. The weather was at it’s hotter for their show, and they blazed through. The setlist was lengthy and well chosen.
They talked more than they rapped, but they were still worth seeing. They paid a nice tribute to all the firefighters in our nation and those lost their lives in the recent tornado outbreaks. We actually thought they were opening for Two Chainz, until we realized we were at the wrong stage.
Two Chainz… Well the crowd for Two Chainz
When we finally did get to the Two Chainz stage, this was the closest we could get. I will say that the sound equipment for the festival is top notch. well worth my $80 admission fee.
Passion Pit was incredible. ”Take A Walk” was the stand out, of course.
The Postal Service
I saw Postal Service mainly for “Such Great Heights” I’m much more of a Death Cab fan, but PS made me appreciate Ben Gibbard 10 times more. They were a great way to end the night.
Water, it comes in many forms but I bet you didn’t know it was music too! Anton Zap’s new album entitled “Water” is a mix of new and re-released songs that all express a different quality of water in each of them. Anton is a veteran of the electronic genre, he has been around since the 90s and has done pretty much everything that electronica has to offer including ambient mixes, industrial, and old fashioned house music. There are only 7 tracks to this album but they are all long cut tracks with very little lyrics to them.
Anton does a wonderful job infusing this album with the sounds of water. His first song entitled just “Water” involves the listener in a rainstorm of percussion and slow drag on the bass. The song itself imagines a steady rainstorm that is revolving around its own rhythm. The listener sits under a corrugated aluminum roof watching waves of rain go by and soak the emerald green field in front of him with a dark sky over head. I really like this song because it makes me think of the lovely rainy days that I’ve experienced in my life, it just feels like the world is at rest. “Miles and More” goes back to Anton’s roots in industrial and gives his water theme a metallic quality. There’s a lot of reverberation off of metal like objects in a busy percussion environment. For me it resembles a city that is in the middle of a rain storm. The hustle and bustle of city life wrapped within the tranquility of the usual routine. Humans are creatures of habit and tend to practice our routine as a sort of safety blanket, which I feel rain adds an increased sense of relaxation to whole situation.
The final song in the album entitled “Miniature” creates an ambient tone that represents possibly a spring thaw. The tone starts off in a pristine manner and slowly adds the drum beat to it suggesting melting taking place in this pristine soundscape. I picture it as a forest scene covered in ice and snow and is slowing springing to life as water begins to drip from everything in the area. The creek in the background raging faster and faster as each drop coalesces into it.
I often have trouble trying to point out the flaws in the albums I review because each album has its own unique flares about them and they contribute in a positive way to the album itself. I would say one of the more obvious cons to this album is that there are so few pieces on it and only a few of them are new tracks. I don’t mind re-releases but with a small album I feel that this hurts the overall selling point of it. Another negative here that some of the pieces like “Miniature” have a sort of generic soundscape tone to them that I’ve heard elsewhere. I’m not saying his music in general is generic because it’s not as there are some wonderful pieces in there but I feel like I have heard a couple of these songs in the past and I have never listened to this artist before now.
While some of the more powerful negatives have hurt my judgment of “Water”, I still think it is worthy of a purchase but only if you have not picked up some of his previous albums. “Water” is a good window into the electronica world and it acts like a sampler of the different sub genres contained within it such as industrial, and ambient. It does not lack on polish whatsoever, Anton Zap knows how to finely tune his pieces for his audience. “Water” will be released June 18 so you have a few days to make your decision if it is worth it to you or not.