Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Def Leppard – Hysteria 30th Anniversary Reissue

In 1987, I was 8 years old and Def Leppard was all over MTV, filling arenas and dominating the radio. My younger brother and I both had our own cassettes of their blockbuster, pop-metal masterpiece, Hysteria.  (I also somehow convinced my parents to let me slice holes in my jeans like Joe Elliot’s and wear them to school!) Def Leppard’s 12-times platinum fourth album, produced by Robert “Mutt” Lange was led by seven mega-hit singles, "Love Bites", "Pour Some Sugar on Me", "Hysteria", "Armageddon It", "Animal", "Rocket", and "Women".  Not since Michael Jackson’s Thriller, had one artist been able to chart as many major hits from one album.  The aptly-titled Hysteria was and is inescapable.      
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hysteria, Def Leppard in conjunction with Bludgeon Riffola/Mercury/Ume, has recently released a newly-remastered 2-LP reissue of the album on vinyl that comes in a limited orange colorway or in standard black.  Vocalist Joe Elliott acted as executive producer of the remastering sessions that were completed by the band’s long-time sound engineer Ronan McHugh. Additionally, the 5-CD/2-DVD Super Deluxe Edition includes the newly remastered original album, various b-sides (including fan favorite “Ring Of Fire”) and remixed versions of the album tracks as well as the first ever audio appearance of the ‘In the Round’ concert film.  The 2 DVDs contain the Classic Albums documentary, as well as their BBC Top Of The Pops appearances and the promo videos from the era.  To top it off, 4 books are included that contain rare and previously unreleased photos of the band and ephemera from the era including backstage passes, an in-depth history of the album written by Mojo and classic Rock writer Paul Elliott and an intriguing track-by-track oral history from the band members themselves.  After 30 years, this album remains a classic and will still be considered one in another 30 years!    
For more info or to order:

Watch “Armageddon It” here:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Live – Mental Jewelry 25th Anniversary Reissue

The year 1991 was an absolutely amazing year for music.  Monumentally classic albums from Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many, many more were released that year, forever altering mainstream music.  Another great yet somewhat overlooked album released that year was Mental Jewelry, the debut album from Philadelphia alternative rock band Live.  Vocalist/guitarist Ed Kowalczyk, guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey went into the studio with producer Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and created an album with socio-political and spiritual lyrics set to music that combined the anthemic and big-hearted earnestness of U2 and R.E.M.’s jangly college rock with touches of funk and folk for good measure.  On the strength of the standout singles, “Pain Lies On The Riverside and “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)”, Mental Jewelry went multi-platinum, setting up Live for a long successful run of hits. 
Now, after a lengthy hiatus during which frontman Kowalczyk left the band for a spell, the band reunited last December and is currently on a worldwide reunion tour.  In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of Mental Jewelry, the band and Radioactive/Geffen/Ume Records have just released a deluxe reissue of the album. The newly remastered album is available now on vinyl for the first time in a long time on purple or standard black and also on purple cassette.  The Deluxe Edition of the album is a 2-CD set that includes the original album as well as 4 extra tracks including a club remix of “Pain Lies On The Riverside” by Hank Shocklee and “Born Branded” an previously unreleased studio track recorded during the Mental Jewelry sessions as well as “Negation” and Heaven Wore A Shirt” from the band’s 1991 Four Songs EP.  Additionally, a previously unreleased live recording of a 13-song 1992 concert recorded at The Roxy in Los Angeles completes the set.     
Recently, I interviewed Ed Kowalczyk of Live about their reformation, the possibility of new music and more for the Dayton City Paper in preview of their Rock On The Range performance in May.  (Originally posted here:
Live reformed late last year with original vocalist Ed Kowalczyk rejoining the original lineup for the first time since 2009. What was the impetus for the reformation, and has all of the bad blood been forgiven?
Ed Kowalczyk: I believe the old cliché of “time heals all wounds” applies here for sure. The space that the break created between us allowed the reemergence of all of the amazing history we shared together to come to the surface. I can definitely say that the current “spark” we feel together on-stage and off wouldn’t be as strong had we not taken the break that we did. We are chomping at the bit to get back out and do what we do!
What song are you most excited about to play live again and why?
EK: All of them! Come back to me after a few dozen shows and I will try to whittle it down…but seriously, there is such a level of excitement about doing this again, that I am really looking forward to all of it.
I know it’s early, but are there plans to record any new music and if so, where are you in that process?
EK: We started writing music and experimenting in the studio almost immediately following the first reconnect that we had as a band. We are keeping it really fun and not putting any deadlines on ourselves for an album, etc. That said, we probably have five or six songs that we are excited about. Some sound like classic Live, if you would; some are pushing the boundaries a bit.

Stream “Pain Lies On The Riverside (Live From The Roxy 1992)” here: 

Friday, August 11, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Jeremy Pinnell – “Different Kind Of Love” (Out today on Sofaburn Records is Jeremy Pinnell’s sophomore album Ties Of Blood And Affection.  The excellent new album was recorded live to analog tape and the Kentucky-based singer-songwriter continues to perfect his classic Country & Western sound highlighted by his honest, personal songwriting that deals with themes of family and faith.  The aching pedal steel and twangy guitar lines that wind around Pinnell’s melodies like a back country road serve as the perfect companion to his whiskey-soaked voice.)          

Downtown Boys – “Lips That Bite” (For Cost of Living - their third album - the Providence, RI punk rock band moves to Sub Pop and have recorded with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto.  Their music is both infectiously fun and wildly confrontational, creating anthemic protest songs that you can dance to with saxophone and synths adding color to their wall-crushing grooves.  Lyrically, they are bi-lingual and aim to open minds and confront the latent racism, greedy capitalism and other oppressive powers that are destroying our world.)

The Lurking Fear – “Vortex Spawn” (The Lurking Fear are a new death metal supergroup-of-sorts  led by vocalist Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates along with Jonas Stålhammar of God Macabre and Bombs Of Hades, Fredrik Wallenberg of Skitsystem and Andreas Axelson of Disfear  and Tormented.  Their debut album, Out Of The Voiceless Grave is out today on Century Media Records.  Their retro-minded sound mines the old school sounds of early Slayer, Death and Morbid Angel; paying humble homage to their influences while putting their own distinct mark on their music with dense Swedish-style riffs and blackened vocals.)      

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Jane’s Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual Alive At 25

Credit: Michael Tullberg
Last year, in celebration of their breakout 1990 album’s 25th anniversary, alternative rock legends Jane’s Addiction embarked on the "Sterling Spoon Anniversary Tour” and played the album Ritual De Lo Habitual in its entirety.  Last Friday Cleopatra Records released a live CD/Blu-Ray/DVD entitled, Ritual De Lo Habitual Alive At 25 that was filmed and recorded at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in Irvine, CA during the tour.    
Across 20 cities worldwide, vocalist Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro and percussionist Stephen Perkins along with bassist Chris Chaney brought the classic album to life with their incendiary live show, complete with visuals, special guests and more.  The album, led by the smash single, “Been Caught Stealin’”, “Stop!” and the epic “Three Days” was an instant classic as they combined elements of funk, glam, metal and punk into something entirely new.   
Ritual De Lo Habitual Alive At 25 was recorded on May 30, 2015 with 20 cameras and was directed by Barry Ritchie (Madonna, Kanye West) and is available now as a 3-disc Deluxe Edition Combo Pack that includes the performance on CD, Blu-Ray and DVD.  Also included is a 20-page booklet with tons of photos and the track list is rounded out by such fan favorites as “Mountain Song” and “Jane Says” for the perfect tribute to one of the 90’s most influential bands and albums.        
Stream the live version of “Stop!” taken from Ritual De Lo Habitual Alive At 25 here:

Friday, August 04, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Soccer Mommy – “Allison” (Soccer Mommy is the recording moniker of Nashville singer-songwriter Sophie Allison.  Out today on Fat Possum is Collection, an EP of new songs and re-recorded songs that were previously released via her Bandcamp page.  With a bump in fidelity, it is clear that Allison’s biting, wise-beyond-her-years lyrics, breathy but assured vocals and jangly, guitar-led songwriting make her an artist on the rise and Collection is the perfect introduction to her bittersweet brand of bedroom pop.)    

Wage War – “Witness” (The genre-defiant Florida-based metalcore quintet returns today with their highly-anticipated sophomore album, Deadweight, on Fearless Records.  The new album’s strengths are in its duality; it is their heaviest - with brutal breakdowns and raging riffs - and also their most melodic, with catchy, soaring vocal melodies.  Likewise, the lyrical themes scan very personal yet are equally politically-minded and they approach each topic with the same intensity and passion.  All of this combines for their best and most complete album yet.)  

Lo Tom – “Covered Wagon” (Lo Tom is the new band fronted by David Bazan along with Trey Many and Jason Martin of Starflyer 59 and Pedro The Lion bandmate TW Walsh; their eight-song self-titled debut album was recently released on Barsuk Records.  Forgoing the electronics of his most recent output as well as his usual low-key folk sound, Lo Tom creates driving and grungy alternative rock with rootsy elements and catchy melodies that give a nostalgic nod to their past work.)   

Monday, July 31, 2017

Stream It From The Mountain: Sex Snobs – Emotional Stuffing

The Oklahoma City-based quartet Sex Snobs released Emotional Stuffing, their second full-length release and label debut for High Dive Records last Friday.  The nostalgia-drenched sound created by vocalist/guitarist Alex Barnard, bassist James Hammontree, guitarist Tommy Mckenzie and drummer Billy Reid hearkens back to the 90’s grunge, noise-punk and alternative rock scenes.  So it is fitting that the band recorded Emotional Stuffing in Chicago with living legend Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Breeders) who gives their quirky hooks and fuzzed-out guitars the raw and ragged production they deserve.  The 9-track album is over before you want it to be with several of the tracks barely crossing the minute-and-a-half mark; fans of the Pixies and Weezer will have Sex Snobs’ short, bittersweet bursts of catchy, noise-addled and punk-fueled alt. rock on repeat the rest of the summer. 

Stream Emotional Stuffing here: 

Friday, July 28, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Arcade Fire – “Electric Blue” (Arcade Fire return today with Everything Now, their highly-anticipated fifth album and label debut for Columbia Records.  The new album- with production assistance from Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter - continues on the path set by 2013’s excellent Reflector with their synth-driven, disco-inspired and euphorically infectious dance-pop enhanced with added touches of New Wave, dub/reggae and timely social commentary for yet another sparkling addition to their oeuvre.  Check out the Blondie-esque single here.)  

Expulsion – “Total Human Genocide” (Expulsion is the new old school death metal/grindcore hybrid project from Matt Olivo of Repulsion, Matt Harvey of Exhumed and Gruesome, Danny Walker of Intronaut, Exhumed, and Phobia, and Menno Verbaten from Lightning Swords of Death.  The supergroup’s impressive debut release, Nightmare Future is out now via Relapse Records and it is packed with vile lyrics and short bursts of punishingly propulsive rhythms and raw, raging riffs that are both modern and retro-minded.)

Armstrongs – “If There Was Ever A Time” (Armstrongs is the aptly-titled supergroup of punk rock royalty made up of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Rancid’s Tim Armstrong along with Billie Joe’s son Joey and Tim’s nephew Rey.  Their debut track – out now on Hellcat/Epitaph Records - is an anthemic rally-cry with proceeds from the inspiring single going to assist 924 Gilman, the Bay Area punk rock venue where both Green Day and Rancid got their start.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Stream It From The Mountain: Lioness – Time Killer

Lioness is a new, Dayton-based 11-piece folk-rock collective featuring members of local  favorites such as Captain of Industry, Motel Beds, Me & Mountains, Shesus, and Ohio Casket.  Their impressive debut album, Time Killer was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Micah Carli (formerly of Hawthorne Heights) at Popside Recording and was recently released by Dayton imprint, Magnaphone Records.  Led by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Nathan Peters, the collective creates colorful folk-rock with the same infectiously anthemic rush of early Arcade Fire with inventive and engaging arrangements featuring swirls of strings, subtle synths and close-knit harmonies courtesy of vocalists Elizabeth Cooper, Maria Dixon and Kimberly Passmore. 
I could have just as easily dedicated one of my 3 Songs: On Repeat features to Lioness with the stellar, statement-making opening track, “America’s Greatest Country Freedom Song”, the eerie, David Bowie and Southern Gothic-tinged standout track, “Relations” and its piano-led follow-up “Sham Wow” making the cut but just listen to the excellent entire album below; it deserves to be heard by the masses!   
Stream Time Killer here:   

Friday, July 21, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat (Extended Edition)

Shattered Sun – “Burn It Down” (The Texas-based six-piece metal band returns with The Evolution Of Anger, their sophomore album, out today via Victory Records.  The band is managed by Chuck Billy, vocalist of thrash metal pioneers Testament, and they take 80’s thrash riffs and add to it prog-rock intricacies, a passionate punk-fuelled anger and enough anthemic melody to create a fresh take on the heavy metal genre, while totally avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump.)    

Dasher – “Sodium” (Kylee Kimbrough leads her band Dasher from behind the drum kit and her playing and scorched, screamed vocals are violent, visceral and cathartic, matching the intensity of the music on their debut album, Sodium, out now on Jagjaguwar.  Kimbrough and crew create a heavy brand of sneering punk rock that incorporates elements of 90’s noise-punk, psych-rock and post-punk’s sense of rhythm and melancholy for a very impressive debut.)      

Offa Rex – “The Old Churchyard” (Offa Rex is the new collaborative folk project from English singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney and The Decemberists, their debut album, The Queen Of Hearts was recently released on Nonesuch Records.  Led by Chaney’s gorgeous and malleable voice, the 11-song album – produced by Tucker Martine and Colin Meloy - consists of new arrangements of traditional English, Irish and Scottish folk songs that are woven with harpsichord and the same psychedelic folk-rock elements you’ve come to expect from The Decemberists yet entirely new.)

Stanton Moore – “Java” (Drummer extraordinaire, Stanton Moore of New Orleans funk band Galactic is set to release With You In Mind: The Songs of Allen Toussaint today via Cool Green Recordings / Mascot Label Group.  As a trio with keyboardist David “Tork” Torkanowsky and bassist James Singleton, Moore pays loving tribute to the late New Orleans jazz legend Allen Toussaint, reimaging his songs in their own unique and funky style.  Some of the guests on the album include Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Trombone Shorty, Maceo Parker and Cyril Neville.)

Stream the lively instrumental “Java” here:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fourth Of July – On The Plains (Tenth Anniversary Vinyl Reissue)

Ten years ago, the Lawrence, KS-based band Fourth Of July emerged with their near perfect debut album titled, On The Plains.  The band was led by Brendan Hangauer along with his brothers Kelly and Patrick Hangauer and rounded out by Brian Costello, Steve Swyers and Adrianne Verhoeven (now DeLanda) of The Anniversary and Extra Classic.  Together they created a jangly and folksy brand of anthemic indie rock with conversational and confessional lyrics that struck a chord with listeners instantly.  It was one of my favorite albums of that year and continues to be to this day.  In the ensuing years, Fourth Of July released two more excellent albums – 2010’s Before Our Hearts Explode and Empty Moon in 2013 - before Brenden went solo, recording under the moniker, Empty Moon. 
Originally released via Lawrence-based Range Life Records, Fourth Of July’s On The Plains is being released on vinyl for the very first time through K.C. label High Dive Records, to celebrate its tenth anniversary.  Out now, the album is available in a very limited bone with orange splatter colorway and on classic black here:

Stream On The Plains here: