Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interview: Tom Keifer of Cinderella

Tom Keifer has seen the view from some of the highest mountaintops in the music business and had to claw his way out of some of the deepest pits.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Keifer fronted hard rockers turned blues rockers Cinderella. The band had multi-platinum records and filled arenas with a spectacle of a show that included Keifer descending from the ceiling behind a white baby grand piano to perform their hit ballad “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).”

Times changed, and in the 1990s, so did Keifer’s fortunes. First, there was a shift in the music scene as the grunge movement and a more grim outlook ushered out the good-timing hard rock that Cinderella was known for.

“I still want to get a shirt that says, ‘I survived the ’90s,’” Keifer jokes of the period.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Skid Row, "United World Rebellion, Chapter One"

After a very uneven first album with new singer Johnny Solinger and a second album that was full of jokey novelty tunes, I didn’t hold out much hope for the future of Skid Row.

Until now.

United World Rebellion Chapter One, the first in a series of EPs that will make up their new album, is easily the best thing released under the Skid Row name since 1995′s Subhuman Race.

The band gets right down to business on the first track, “Kings of Demolition,” which sounds like it was ripped straight from the Slave to the Grind recording sessions.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Jamey Johnson, Guns 'n' Roses, Tesla, Nine Inch Nails, Soilwork

Quite a variety this week, from country to industrial to melodic death.

Jamey Johnson feat. Lee Ann Womack, “This Ain’t My First Rodeo.” From the album Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (2012). One of the best current country songwriters Jamey Johnson singing songs of one of country’s most prolific songwriters. How could you go wrong? The songs on the album, including this one, are very faithful to the originals and usually pretty good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Freebies: Century Media Records offers up a 40-song sampler

Century Media Records is offering a 40-song sampler for free download. Go here to get it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Gloryhammer, "Tales from the Kingdom of Fife"

Christopher Bowes may be on the verge of becoming a new musical hero of mine. First he gave us Scottish pirate metal, now Scottish epic fantasy metal, and it’s just as much fun.

If you’re familiar with Bowes’ other band, Alestorm, it will be no surprise that Gloryhammer’s music is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s no joke. Yes, Bowes and his cohorts dress as wizards, warriors and elves, and they skewer some of the tropes and conventions of the power metal genre with some laugh out loud moments. But when it comes to the music, it’s no laughing matter. This outfit is tight, and they play the style much better than some of the “serious” power metal bands out there.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Freebies: Hellbound Glory covers Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues"

Hellbound Glory is offering a free download of their cover of Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues." Go here to get it.

Saturday Shuffle: Skid Row, Danko Jones, White Wizzard, Luna Mortis, Hellbound Glory

Some old-fashioned hard rocking, a little bit of extreme, and some nontraditional traditional country this week ...

Skid Row, “Sweet Little Sister.” From the album Skid Row (1989). Skid Row’s debut album was a little more in line with the 1980s glam rock scene than their later, heavier albums, but there are still some great songs on it, and this is one of them. Energetic, catchy, fun, everything that was good about 1980s rock. This is one 1980s band that I would love to see back together.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: "The Merciless Book of Metal Lists" by Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins

I think there’s something innate in music fans that drives them to want to make lists. And then, of course, to argue about those lists to the death.

With "The Merciless Book of Metal Lists" ($18.95, Abrams Books), Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins take it to a new level. After a foreword by Slayer’s Kerry King (which is really more of a Q&A, actually), they jump right into all of the obligatory lists — best metal bands, best guitarist, best singer, best drummer, best bassist and so on.

Sure, those are fun to agree or disagree with, but it’s the other pieces of the book that actually make it so entertaining. It’s quite possible that even the hardcore metalhead might find something to explore in some of the lists where they play it straight.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Interview: Bob Wayne

Though his music is very much set in the world of traditional country, filled with banjos, fiddles and, for the most part, nary a distorted guitar to be found, Bob Wayne is not what you’d call a traditional country musician.

He curses like the proverbial sailor, sings songs about the party life, rubs elbows with heavy metal bands and really doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. He’s a songwriter that lives for the story and a wanderer that lives for the road. Pick a night, and you’ll find him in a dive bar on the corner, or maybe opening for a metal band in a larger venue. He’s on stage 300-plus nights a year and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Freebies: Get the title track of Amon Amarth's upcoming LP

Listen to and download "Deceiver of the Gods," the title track of Amon Amarth's upcoming new album.

Saturday Shuffle: Hank Jr., Van Zant, Jesse James Dupree, Savatage, Kiuas

We open this week’s shuffle with a decidedly Southern-flavored trio of songs.

Hank Williams Jr., “Sometimes I Feel Like Joe Montana.”  From the album Stormy (1999). This song is pretty typical of Hank Jr.’s later period. It’s not a bad song about longing for the glory days, but it certainly doesn’t live up to his classic material. Then again it could just be that, as a Saints fan, I still have bad thoughts about Joe Montana and those 49ers from the NFC West days. That could cloud my judgment.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: Suicidal Tendencies, "13"

Most metal fans are probably looking a little more forward to another album titled 13 later this year from a barely known band called Black Sabbath. Me, too, but I was also quite intrigued by Suicidal Tendencies’ album of the same title.

I was a big ST fan in the 1980s, both the energetic hardcore punk of their self-titled debut and the thrash sounds of their later albums in the decade, like Lights, Camera, Revolution. The 1990s were a bit shaky for the band, though, with the very commercial The Art of Rebellion (which I haven’t revisited in quite a while, but seemed anything but rebellious to me at the time), the more metallic and underrated Suicidal for Life and a couple of uneven albums in Freedumb and Free Your Soul … And Save My Mind, both of which had their moments, but were fairly unmemorable.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review: Anthrax, "Anthems"

After hearing Joey Belladonna’s cringe-inducing vocals on Anthrax’s version of Rush’s “Anthem,” I didn’t have much hope for this EP of covers from the thrashers, especially considering the rest of the lineup included covers of Cheap Trick, Journey and Boston.

The good news is that “Anthem” is far and away the worst thing on this record. The bad news is that it’s still a mixed bag.

For the most part, this is hard rock karaoke. Anthrax doesn’t take any chances with any of the songs here. They don’t play them in their own style or try to do anything different with them. They deliver note-for-note renditions of the originals with maybe a little extra crunch here or there, but not much else.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Amon Amarth, Sabbath, Metallica, Charlie Daniels, Alice in Chains

From Amon Amarth to Charlie Daniels in two songs. That path creator thingie online has nothing on me.

Amon Amarth, “A Beast Am I.” From the album Surtur Rising (2011). The day always goes better with a little Amon Amarth. I’ve always loved the blend of death metal and very catchy melodies and hooks that Amon Amarth delivers, and “A Beast Am I” has those. It’s like death metal for non-death metal fans.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: Adrenaline Mob, "Coverta"

I kind of chuckled when I saw that Adrenaline Mob had chosen three Ronnie James Dio-related songs for its eight-song covers EP, but now I get it.

As a fan of Symphony X, I knew that Russell Allen was a hell of a singer. In fact, I thought he was sorely underutilized on much of Adrenaline Mob’s debut album Omerta. When I played the version of “Stand Up and Shout” on Coverta, I had to do a double-take and make sure that I had not accidentally clicked on the Dio version.

Allen pretty much channels the legend on the track, and follows suit on the cover of Rainbow’s “Kill the King” and Black Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules,” though those don’t hit as close as “Stand Up and Shout.”

Freebies: New track from King Diamond and Volbeat

King Diamond and Volbeat are offering a free download of the track "Room 24" from the upcoming Volbeat album "Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies." Click here to get it it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Still Spinning: Metallica, "Metallica"

OK, I guess it’s about time I delivered a mea culpa on this record after all of my years of badmouthing it. It’s actually not a bad album.

There, I said it, as foul as those words taste in my mouth.

I’m joking, of course, but not entirely.

When Metallica’s self-titled album came out, it was a shift in my musical landscape. When I picked it up, on release day naturally, I initially liked it, though not as much as past works. The simplicity of the songs was a bit of a turn-off, but there were some pretty catchy tunes there.

It didn’t take long for my opinion to change drastically. All of a sudden all of the people around me — many of whom had made fun of me for years for liking heavy metal, Metallica, in particular — were driving around with their windows down blasting this album. It was more than the angst-filled teenage version of me could take.