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.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Aerosmith, Infectious Grooves, Slayer, Van Hagar, Dee Snider

A couple of overlooked gems, a song that shouldn't be in my shuffle and Dee Snider on Broadway ...

Aerosmith, “Hangman Jury.” From the album Permanent Vacation (1987). Permanent Vacation was really the record that started Aerosmith down the sordid pop rock path that led, ultimately, to atrocities like “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” That said, the album had its moments, and this is certainly one of them. It’s one of the few songs on the record where you really hear the blues rock influence. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Something Borrowed: "Tobacco Road," David Lee Roth/The Nashville Teens/John D. Loudermilk

Every now and then my shuffle hits a song from David Lee Roth’s Eat ’Em and Smile album, and I remember how much I loved that record.

Sure, it’s silly, corny and completely over the top, but that’s precisely what I want from Diamond Dave. That flamboyant, and at times, yes, goofy personality is part and parcel of why I’ve always loved him and why, in my mind, Sammy Hagar was never a replacement for him despite really being the better singer. 

Roth also has a knack for surrounding himself with great musicians, and that was especially true of this record, which featured the likes of Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums.

At a time when Van Halen with Hagar was moving toward a more pop-oriented sound, Eat ’Em and Smile was a loud blast of wild-eyed rock ‘n’ roll that was essentially a middle finger to what Roth’s former band was doing. At least that’s how I saw it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Soilwork, Tesla, Anthrax, Scatterbrain, Alestorm

Pretty heavy lineup this week -- some new stuff, some old stuff and ending with some fun ...

Soilwork, “Memories Confined.” From the album The Living Infinite (2013). One of the tracks from the mellower, more melodic side of last year’s Soilwork double album. It’s not really one of the more memorable, but it’s not bad, either.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: Skid Row, "Rise of the Damnation Army: United World Rebellion, Chapter 2"

United World Rebellion, Chapter 2 marks the first Skid Row record that I’ve actually had some anticipation for since Subhuman Race.

That’s because Chapter 1, released last year, was such a great EP. It was the first to really recapture the feel of their classic material. Rise of the Damnation Army follows that well. I’ll admit that I don’t find the songs on this EP as immediately catchy as some of those on Chapter 1, but they’re solid rockers, and they’ve grown on me with each listen.

This one follows the same basic pattern as the first one. There are four hard-driving rock tunes and one ballad. This one adds a couple of cover tunes.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Alestorm, "Sunset on the Golden Age"

Though lots of pirate metal bands have popped up since Alestorm’s 2008 debut album Captain Morgan’s Revenge, none have captured the feel and spirit of it better than these Scots.

On their fourth full-length album Sunset on the Golden Age, Alestorm has just as much fun as on the previous three. By now, you mostly know what you’re getting from the band — thrash-influenced songs about wenching, plundering and grogging, a stray sea shanty here or there and plenty of bombastic symphonics worthy of a pirate movie soundtrack.

I’d like to begin this review by thanking Christopher Bowes and company for immortalizing me in song on my personal favorite track (for obvious reasons), “Mead from Hell.” I’m joking, of course, but it adds to the fun since I don’t hear the name Fred in the music I listen to much. It’s just not a very metal name. That aside, the song is just a great, catchy romp across the sea, as is most of the record.