Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: Whiskey Myers, "Early Morning Shakes"

At the end of the year, there always seem to be a handful of albums laying aorund that I really like, but haven’t reviewed for some reason. I’m not making any promises, but I’m going to try to catch up on those at the end of this year, beginning with this one.

I discovered Whiskey Myers quite by accident when I stumbled across “Ballad of a Southern Man” on YouTube one night. The song, which hit home for me, led me to pick up their 2011 album Firewater, and I loved the mix of country and fire-breathing Southern rockers the boys from Tyler, Texas, brought to the table.

Their most recent release, Early Morning Shakes arrived in February, and it delivers more of the same with, I believe, some even better Southern-fried grooves.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: Black Crown Initiate, "The Wreckage of Stars"

I’d heard a little bit of the buzz around Black Crown Initiate, but hadn’t taken the time to check the band out.

I’m super picky when it comes to the more extreme subgenres of metal, and unless I get a promo on it, I’m not usually one to run out and find music from a death metal band. When the video for first single “Withering Waves” showed up on a social media feed, it was an easy click to check it out, and I was astounded.

In short, Black Crown Initiate gives me what I’m missing from Opeth since their move to a 1970s prog rock sound. I wouldn’t call them a clone, but what Opeth did better than anyone else, Black Crown Initiate also does exceptionally well. They deliver crushingly heavy death metal parts, interspersed with moody and dark melodic pieces and plenty of progressive bursts.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Texas Hippie Coalition, "Ride On"

For their outstanding 2012 album Peacemaker, Texas Hippie Coalition brought more of a Southern rock flavor into their brand of groove metal. It worked fantastically.

Before the release of their latest album Ride On, frontman Big Dad Ritch said Texas Hippie Coalition wanted to honor the sound of their earlier records as well as what they did on Peacemaker. At least in the early going, they very much do that on Ride On.

The first two tracks on the album, “El Diablo Rojo” and “Splinter” have just a hint of those Southern elements, but the overriding feel of them — particularly “Splinter” — is more of a modern metal sound. Both are good songs, but I have to admit by the end of “Splinter,” I’m missing the redneck noise.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Slash, "World on Fire"

Slash’s 2012 record Apocalyptic Love blindsided me. I went in for a half-hearted listen, and it turned out to be one of my favorite records of the year. Of course, that means the expectations for the follow-up were much higher.

World on Fire races out of the gate with the same vibe and energy that Apocalyptic Love brought, but it doesn’t sustain that drive and fizzles a bit toward the end.

I appreciate Slash wanting to give fans more bang for the buck with 17 tracks on the album, but maybe it should have been pared down a little as many of the tracks that come late on the record kind of blend into each other.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: DLR, Dio, Living Colour, Metallica, Soundgarden

A nice variety of hard rockers from classics to new stuff, from glam to grunge ...

David Lee Roth, “Tobacco Road.” From the album Eat ‘Em and Smile (1986). I always forget how much I love this cover until I hear it again. Steve Vai’s screaming guitar licks are perfect, and the bombastic, showtune tone of the song is right down Diamond Dave’s alley. It could very well be my favorite track from my favorite DLR solo album.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Dead Earth Politics, "The Queen of Steel"

They had me at “Redneck Dragonslayer.”

If you know anything about me at all, then you know the title of the lead track on this three-song EP from Austin-based metal band Dead Earth Politics is going to immediately get my attention.

The three tunes here, though, do more than pique my interest. They hold it from start to finish and leave me wishing for more.

There’s an interesting blend of metal sounds in these songs, and that starts with that opening tune. The first riff that guitarist Tim Driscoll throws at us on “Redneck Dragonslayer” is rooted deeply in New Wave of British Heavy Metal. It reminds me, perhaps, of something from the Paul Dianno era of Iron Maiden. Then vocalist Ven Scott starts to roar, and it takes a turn.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Hank Jr., Sturgill Simpson, Dash, Lillian, Ratt

We start this week's installment with a little redneck noise, take a trip through Louisiana, and end up in L.A. ...

Hank Jr., “Attitude Adjustment.” From the album Major Moves (1984). There was always this mix of hell-raising country rebel and goofy fun in Hank Jr.’s older work. This tune, about a guy who can’t learn his lesson, definitely fell in the latter category. It’s silly, but much more likeable than some of the humor songs that came later.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: "Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Motley Crue"

I remember the early days of the tribute album. One of the first, and one that helped launch the format, was 1994’s Kiss, My Ass. (Yes, I know the original title didn’t have a comma in it, but I fixed it for them.)

Among other “gems,” it included a Garth Brooks cover of “Hard Luck Woman” (surprisingly one of the better tunes there) and a sleepy (yes, sleepy) cover of “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Toad the Wet Sprocket. For many years, that album stood, in my mind, as the worst example of a tribute album, and I thought it would always hold the crown.

How could I have known, 20 years later, that Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Motley Crue would be unleashed on an unsuspecting world?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Testament, Crue, Danzig, Pantera, Anthrax

This week's shuffle is a pretty hard-hitting lineup ...

Testament, “Electric Crown.” From the album The Ritual (1992). Testament never got the press of the Big Four of thrash, but they can stand with the best of them. This album was a bit of a shock at the time with a couple of ballads and, at times, a more accessible direction. Over time, I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for it. This is just a great heavy metal tune, not as thrashing as perhaps what we expected from them, but with a great hook.