Monday, August 21, 2017

Stream It From The Mountain: Dressy Bessy – Summer Singles Vol. 1 & 2

Last year veteran Denver-based indie-poppers Dressy Bessy ended an eight year hiatus with the release of their sixth album, Kingsized.  Now to follow that up, the band led by vocalist/guitarist Tammy Ealom, recently signed with the K.C. label High Dive Records (Shy Boys, Fullbloods, Sex Snobs) and have just released a 4-song 7” titled, Summer Singles Vol. 1 & 2.
Dressy Bessy has combined bubblegum-flavored power-pop and crunchy punk-rock since emerging from the Elephant Six Collective in the late 90’s and these new singles will surely please old fans and provide the perfect introduction for new listeners.  The first track, “Hey Alice!” is an almost textbook example of their fun and colorful sound, as it is both jangly and fuzzy with handclaps and cowbell to boot.  Another standout is the closer, “Wind Me Up” with its chugging, squeaking guitar riff and sing-along call and response chorus. 

Stream Summer Singles Vol. 1 & 2 here:

Friday, August 18, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

The Districts – “Ordinary Day” (The Pennsylvania-based indie rock band recently released Popular Manipulations, their third album. Out now on Fat Possum, the eclectic yet cohesive new set of guitar-led songs recalls early 2000’s indie rock powerhouses such as Wolf Parade, Interpol and The Strokes; with quirky yet anthemic and danceable melodies.  They pay homage to their influences without sounding like a direct copy of them all while growing into a powerhouse themselves.)  

Broken Social Scene – “Skyline” (After a five year hiatus, the Canadian indie rock collective has surprisingly returned with their fifth album, Hug Of Thunder.  For the new album - out now on City Slang/Arts & Crafts – Brendan Canning, Keven Drew and crew brought in outside producer Joe Chiccarelli who reigns them in a bit, though their music is just as big and anthemic – like the aptly-titled standout, “Protest Song” – and laced with full, lush arrangements that skip between atmospheric dream-pop and guitar-led rock with layers of horns, synths and such for a most triumphant return.)

Dead Cross – “Seizure And Desist” (Dead Cross is the new noise-punk supergroup featuring Mike Patton of Faith No More, etc along with former Slayer drummer-extraordinaire Dave Lombardo and Retox members Justin Pearson and Michael Crain.  Their self-titled debut album - produced by Ross Robinson - is out now on Ipecac Recordings.  Led by Patton’s crazed and malleable vocals and abstract yet politically-charged lyrical themes, the quartet creates an intense sound that fuses fast and furious old school hardcore punk and unhinged noise-rock into an impressive debut.)     

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.)