Thursday, April 5, 2012
Pullo Performing Arts Center, York, PA
Photos by Marcy J Royce
Review by Marcy J Royce
I first became interested in BLUE OCTOBER in 2007 after I listened to their 2006 release, Foiled. A part of the genre I don’t usually find myself having a gravitation towards. But some of the music and some of the lyrics had me intrigued. So when I knew I would be afforded the opportunity to photograph Blue October, and review their performance, I was thrilled.
The night at The Pullo Performimg Arts Center began with an acoustic performance by singer songwriter Justin Furstenfeld. It was a 25 minute solo set that included heartfelt, personal lyrics entwined with guitar and an electronically created drum beat that seems to have shed some light to the audience what Justin had experienced in his past. Meaningful and passionate peppered with jokes and laughter lent itself to a very intimate connection with a man so instrumental in leading BLUE OCTOBER.
Next up was GIRL IN A COMA. I really had not listened to any of this trio’s music prior to their set. These women started right out of the gate with hard rocking tunes that had decent riffs and hooks. Hard rocking and edgy, they proved that the audience should take them seriously as rockers. The growls of front woman Nina Diaz, the rupturing bass guitar of Jenn Alva and the drums of Phanie Diaz makes this lineup from San Antonio impressive. The crowd seem to really dig them.
The real treat was about to begin with the 90 minute set from BLUE OCTOBER. Kicking off the night with “She’s My Ride Home” from the successful 2006 release of Foiled got the crowd to their feet quickly. And singing along. Next up was “Say It” from the 2009 release of Approaching Normal and “Sound Of Pulling Heaven Down” also from Foiled. The lights stayed dimmed but the musicians shined brightly with every chord and every word. If Justin had been demure and awkward during his solo set he certainly did an about face as he slid right into the
charismatic frontman he is known to be.
The crowd seemed to be quite familiar with most of BLUE OCTOBER’s catalog of songs. Singing more loudly as the set progressed. Most of the setlist contained songs from 3 releases; Foiled, Approaching Normal, and the newest release from the fall of 2011 Any Man In America. The biggest hits of the night, and most popular with the crowd, were “Into The Ocean” and “Hate Me”. The crowd was delighted and sang along very loudly. Very happily they showed their enthusiasm and the band fed right from that energy. BLUE OCTOBER are one of those bands that seem to have somewhat of a cult following. Sometimes being viewed as an acquired taste.
Here is a link to my listing of the setlist for the night:
Here is a link to my video for “The Feel Again”:
For more info on BLUE OCTOBER including tour dates, tickets, media, merchandise, and bios, visit http://www.blueoctober.com/site/
I want to give a big shout out to Tim Tatulli of RED Music for making this opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. Thanks!
JANUS- ‘Nox Aeris’
REALID Records/Warner ILG
Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed By: Jay Rybak
The first time I heard the single ‘Eyesore’ from Janus’ 2009 debut Red Right Return, I became an instant fan. Needless to say I had been impatiently awaiting the latest offering from the Chicago based rockers… and good things come to those who wait, very good things. For those of you unfamiliar with Janus, think 10 Years meets Filter. The perfect blend of melodic, yet heavy, with a hint of electronic.
As evidenced by the first single ‘Stains’, ‘Nox Aeris’ is that quintessential Janus album, yet with this offering there is one thing that really stood out to me. Not to detract from the great talents that comprise the rest of the band, but Johnny Salazar is a phenomenal drummer. You get a little taste in the first track ‘In Flames’, but the cymbal-crashing, double-bass smorgasbord ‘Stray’ is a glaring example, with the track that follows, ‘Numb’, serving as a delicious dessert.
Pair this newfound respect for Salazar, with the shredding of Mike Tyranski, and the vocal prowess of David Scotney and the stars align. The band as a whole clicks on all cylinders in the heavy hitters ‘A Promise To No One’ and ‘Polarized’, my two favorite tracks off the album, and two more reasons why ‘Nox Aeris’ is in constant rotation in this writer’s playlist, and should be in yours.
To put it simply, if Duran Duran got massive testicular implants, and broke onto the scene in 2012, the result would be ‘Nox Aeris’. This album is a must have and comes very highly recommended.
‘Nox Aeris’ is available now on iTunes, and hits stores Tuesday, March 27th. For more info on Janus, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit the band’s official website.
Friday, March 16, 2012 – Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD
photos by Marcy J Royce
review by Marcy J Royce
Check out my video of Boss’s Daughter:
As some of you know, I am no stranger to the music of POP EVIL. I’ve been a fan for a few years. Each and every time I get a chance, I try to catch them as they pass through my area. I was once again afforded that opportunity.
Friday night couldn’t come soon enough. The anticipation in my world was building all week. I put the music of POP EVIL on exclusive play in my iPod leading up to this show. No rotation the last few days before the show. I was even quoting lyrics in my Facebook posts. Ha ha!
My husband and I arrived at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD just after 8pm. We caught the end of Landsdowne’s set, and all of Otherwise’s set. A good size crowd was building. And the 2 openers were okay. I say that because I was highly anticipating POP EVIL. No disrespect intended.
I was ready to have my face melted and my body rocked. In the dimly light preshow fever, I staked ground in the press & photo pit. Knowingly I chose my spot right in front of Tony Greve. That guy sure provides this happy chick with hot licks and awesome riffs. And catching them that up close is pure ecstasy. He’s one of my very favorite “Guitar Slingers”. The intro was cued and everything went black. And one by one they entered the stage. Lights blasted and the beginning chords of Somebody Like You rang out from wall to wall. Holy shit! The place immediately turned electric. They boys ran that stage like a herd of fierce buffalo running down the plain. They always remind me just how much they mean business when they are gonna rock their fans into a frothy frenzy. During that first song Leigh Kakaty belted out lyrics with gusto and fever. Matt DiRito is always jumping, and flinging that gorgeous long hair, smiling the entire time. Dave Grahs is magnificient to watch and take in. When you least expect it he just explodes all over you with his power. And Josh Marunde (aka Chachi)… my oh my… what a drummer. I’m always entranced with the drummer. Drums and bass always have my attention. Part of the foundation, part of the backbone, of any performance.
Capturing these emotions with my camera is one of the greatest highs for me. POP EVIL certainly is not one of those bands who stays in one spot for very long while they perform on a big stage such as Rams Head. And as a photographer, I love that! Motion and emotion make the shot. And these guys deliver it to me each time. Next up in the set was Save The World and then Daisy Chain. Why do those first three songs need to go so fast???? I’m just getting into the photography groove and BAM! Security is making all of us exit. Oh well.
I vacated the pit and headed for front of house to change lenses. As I walked on my way Shinedown was starting. I couldn’t help but get swept up in it all. As the set progressed with wailing solos, intricate melodic guitars, pound your chest drums & bass, and purposeful lyrics, the crowd just drew in closer to that energy. All these things, that when woven together properly, will make a band shine. Pepper in raw emotion, unbridled spirit, unending energy and you have all the makings of a truly talented band that will break the chains and move up the genre ladder.
The songs that followed were: Unstoppable, 100 In A 55, Purple, Let It Go, Hero, Breathe, Broken & Betrayed, Stepping Stone, Boss’s Daughter, Monster You Made, and for the finale… Last Man Standing.
The one thing I did notice is during this performance is just how far POP EVIL really has come in the last 2 years. They have become polished, honing their craft to the best it has ever been. A tight performance with high energy. I did, however, notice that Leigh’s voice was not quite up to the usual standard. He was singing an octave or two lower than he usually does to some parts of some songs. Not everything was different, just a few things here and there. Enough to make me notice. The final thing I noticed was the sound engineer had some difficulties until mid set bringing out Leigh’s vocals. The guitars were overpowering him. Finally, that issue seemed to get worked out. But for most fans, whom by the way were singing along loudly to each song, they probably didn’t even notice. And that’s the beauty of it all. The crowd enjoying the band they love. And that, my friends, always makes this photographer and fan, extremely happy every time!
For more information and all that is happening with POP EVIL including tour dates, and to find out where to purchase music and merchandise visit http://www.popevil.com/
Also check these sites:
And for really cool stuff: www.evil-nation.com
YouTube videos you should check out:
For War Of Angels Last Man Standing: http://youtu.be/4YB6H5q_gyU
For Lipstick On The Mirror 100 in a 55: http://youtu.be/DcfmwfY2GOE
Special thanks to George Cappellini, Sr., at G & G Entertainment, and Chris Iteen, Tour Manager, for helping to make it happen.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed By: Jay Rybak
Staten Island based Four Nights Gone formed in 2010, with one purpose in mind, to take the rock world by storm. With the recent release of their debut EP, it appears a storm is brewing. The quartet cites such bands as Breaking Benjamin, and Chevelle as their biggest influences; my ears agree and then some…
This five song offering is a musical melting pot, a tympanic twist of Breaking Benjamin-meets-Five Finger Death Punch sprinkled with a healthy dose of Maidenesque guitar wizardry. Highlights include the title track, “Crash & Burn”, and the lyrically brilliant single “My Last Call” . I would, however, be the shittiest, deafest music critic ever if I didn’t single out the album’s shining star, “The Message”. “The Message” is the complete package that sets your mental music player to repeat, a radio friendly rocketship poised to shoot this foursome straight to stardom; but even more importantly, it’s the reason I’m about to deliver you this message… Click here, buy the album, and show these guys some fucking love!
For more Four Nights Gone visit their Bandcamp page.
The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live
Eagle Rock Entertainment
8 out of 10
STYX puts on one hell of a live show. They have more hits than you might think, and when they do a standard ‘greatest hits’ show, you are blown away not only by how many hits they’ve had, but by the sheer musicianship and epic songwriting skills the Chicago Prog Rock band has. Yes I said Prog Rock. They may not be as spacey as Pink Floyd or as intricate as Rush, but they were one of the greatest Prog Rock bands of the 70’s.
The Grand Illusion was released in 1977 and is still their best selling album (according to them). The songwriting on this opus ranges from grandiose and bombastic to sheer brilliance. The opening title track The Grand Illusion shows off their writing skills as much as it does their musicianship and it is one hell of a way to open an album let alone a live show. Flowing right into Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) the crowd is on their feet rocking out and transported back to a time where huge epic songs ruled the airwaves and the charts.
The show starts out with a video screen showing an homage to the Star Wars opening in space with the yellow letters taking us back to 1977. It then cuts to a young man’s bedroom where he is shuffling through his stack of LPs (you remember those right? Vinyl baby, old school!), until he finds The Grand Illusion. He puts it on the turn table, grabs his head phones, and the band kick into the intro to The Grand Illusion.
The hits just keep on coming with Come Sail Away and Miss America. With Castle Walls being an amazing stand out live, you tend to forget what an incredible album The Grand Illusion was from beginning to end until it is right there in your face.
After a short intermission, we go back to the video and the young man putting Pieces Of Eight on. The second half of the concert is really for the old school STYX fans. While Pieces Of Eight has its hits like Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) and the perennial Renegade, the rest of the album may not be as familiar to the radio fans of STYX.
STYX released Pieces Of Eight in 1978 marking a very prolific time in the history of STYX. Once The Grand Illusion took off, it rocketed the band from the clubs, to opening for KANSAS, to headlining Arenas before they took a short break to record and release Pieces Of Eight.
I’ve seen STYX live at least 5 times over as many years, though I missed this particular tour unfortunately. They are consummate musicians and throw a great party when they are on stage. And to take two albums, dust off songs that they have never played live before, and put them out there thirty some odd years later, and be as entertaining as they are is no mean feat.
The music comes across great in this Blu Ray release and the surround sound will give you goose bumps at times when they go into Castle Walls, Renegade, or Miss America. The camera work was a little annoying however, in that every third shot was out of focus! At first I thought I was imagining it, and then I thought maybe they were trying to be artsy with it. Then I realized, the camera men were simply shooting it out of focus most of the time. Other than the video editing and camera work, it is definitely a must have for the hard core STYX fans. And if you are only a radio fan of STYX, this is a great place to start to learn more about them, where their music came from, and why 30 plus years later they are STILL all over Classic Rock stations around the world.
You can purchase STYX: The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live right here.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed By: Jay Rybak
Take one cup Virgo’s Merlot, add one part Eye Empire, mix in two parts Evanescence, topped off with a pinch of Sevendust, and you have the mind-numbing rock recipe that is DARK NEW DAY. The supergroup consisting of vocalist Brett Hestla (Virgo’s Merlot), drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence), guitarists Troy McLawhorn (Evanescence) and Clint Lowery (Sevendust), and Corey Lowery (Eye Empire/Stereomud) on bass, are about to release their highly anticipated sophomore release, New Tradition on Feb. 28th. The album has been five years in the making, and believe me it was worth the wait.
The opening track, “Fist From The Sky”, rips into your ears with the finger-bleeding bass and gritty guitar reminiscent of early Down. As we delve further into “New Tradition”, we find the killer up-tempo rocker that is “I Don’t Need You”, a masterful sonic blend of STP meets Default. Other highlights along the way include the title track, and “Tremendous”, by now I’m rocking out so hard I’m fit to be tied. What a coincidence, here comes the “Straightjacket”, a track that, if one didn’t know any better, could easily be mistaken for Whitfield Crane’s bridge from Ugly Kid Joe to Another Animal.
Now on to the three way tie for my favorite songs on the album. Is that a new Taproot song I hear? No, it’s way better. “Caught In The Light” has a “Hello Taproot, meet your far superior evil twin” feel to it that can’t be ignored. Nor should it be. Enter the next contender, “Fiend”, this is pure Sevendust meets Sixx A.M. Enough said. You want radio friendly? You got it. While the entire album is somewhat radio friendly, and moreso kick-ass, “Breakdown” screams rock radio staple.
This album comes very highly recommended. Don’t be the inferior evil twin, get your ass to your local record store on Feb. 28th and pick up your copy. Or if you’re too busy plotting and scheming you can pre-order it here.
RAIN: A Tribute To The Beatles
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Hershey Theatre, Hershey, PA
Review by Marcy J Royce
As luck would have it, RAIN was making a stop in nearby Hershey,PA at the Hershey Theatre on Thursday, January 26. Being a Beatles fan I was eager to have the opportunity to see these guys perform as the fab four. In years past having attended shows by 1964 The Tribute, another Beatles tribute band, I wanted to see what RAIN had to offer.
There is no question as to why RAIN has been a extremely success national tour for decades.
The cast of RAIN includes 13 people in all, according to the current website. Most of these members rotate in their portrayal of our beloved Liverpool mop tops. Close my eyes and I thought I was hearing the real, live, one and only Beatles. These guys are right on the mark with their look, vocals, and mannerisms. “George” even did his shuffle, much to my delight. “Paul” did his head bob and wrist swish. “George” did his usual smiles. And always my favorite Beatle, “John” did his bobbing up and down in front of the microphone. The entire live show is meant to recreate and transport the audience back in time through the career of these iconic men. Even the stage props, mood lighting, wardrobe, and videos assist in the real feel. A bonus for me was the trivia before the show and during the intermission and also the era commercials. A true delight to the audience this night. And ya know, I even got most of the trivia RIGHT! My husband was surprised I knew the working title to Yesterday was Scrambled Eggs. Ah ha! I one upped him. (giggle)
RAIN actually got its start in the 1970’s as REIGN in night clubs in California. This tribute band then became a descendant from the Broadway show, Beatlemania. In 1982 as the show waned to its end at that time and cast members started to filter into RAIN’s lineup. Many changes have happened to members since that time but founder Mark Lewis is still involved to this day. Most recently, from October 2010 to July 2011 “RAIN” was on Broadway and entailed 300 performances in New York City’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre. But enough about the history, let’s get to this performance at the Hershey Theatre.
I was afforded the opportunity to photograph from the area of the soundboard. A good place for this short gal. And I wasn’t interfering with any patrons view. Very important. The night started as the crowd delighted in those first chords. RAIN encouraged crowd participation several times during the performance. The first full audience stand was for Twist and Shout. The energy was energizing. The first half of the performance included songs from Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, and Help. The second half of the performance included songs from Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let It Be. It’s a hard task to do as many songs in a performance as there are so many hits and so many favorites. In my opinion I feel the setlist encompassed those songs well. The cast of RAIN was having a blast on stage. Bantering, joking, and laughing. But very serious when it came to presenting the songs to the audience. From start to finish, you couldn’t have asked for a better performance.
The setlist for the evening included such hits as: I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving, A Hard Days Night, Twist & Shout, Yesterday, Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, With A Little Help from My Friends, When I’m 64, Eleanor Rigby, A Day In The Life, Strawberry Fields, Hello Goodbye, I Am the Walrus, Norwegian Wood, In My Life, Going Home, Come Together, Get Back, Revolution, Give Peace A Chance, Let It Be, Hey Jude. I know I’ve missed some however this is my best recollection as I was singing along and getting caught up in the performance.
For more info on RAIN including tour dates, tickets, media, merchandise, and bios, visit http://www.raintribute.com/the-band/
I want to give a big shout out to Melissa Hazek from Anita Dlonkiak and Associates, Jeff Albright from Albright Entertainment Group, and Melissa Stradnick from Hershey Entertainment for making this opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. Thanks!
Air Castle Records
Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed By: Jay Rybak
Salt Lake City’s own Royal Bliss are just the latest band in a long line of those self-releasing their music on their own label. At first listen, I was admittedly, a little on the fence, but that’s why we listen more than a few times. My first introduction to the aforementioned came in the form of their single “Save Me”, off of 2009′s Life In-Between; having been a fan of such 90′s era bands as Candlebox and The Nixons, I was immediately drawn to them. In fact, the first few times I heard the song, I swore I was listening to a new band formed by Jimmy Newquist of Caroline’s Spine. Surprised? I think I just heard a collective ‘WTF? You’re a fan of that stuff?’ but what can I say, I’ve always had an appreciation for some of the more obscure rock bands of the 90′s, call it a guilty pleasure of mine. This album is no different. Waiting Out The Storm, the follow up to the band’s 2009 major label debut will be hitting stores this Tuesday, January 24th, and it promises not to disappoint.
Who says you can’t start out in fifth gear? The debut single “I Got This” warms up the engine for what promises to be a wild ride. Neal Middleton’s dynamic vocals are the perfect compliment to Taylor Richards’ screaming guitar which at times bears a remarkable resemblance to the play of Tony Rombola (Godsmack). The pace continues through the next track, “Monster”, before downshifting to the anthemic ballad “Bleed My Soul”.
Middleton and Co. then ask ‘Why don’t we “Wake Up” in what could easily be a cut off of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. The album again slows it down for traffic through the next few tracks, before driving head on into what is perhaps my favorite track off the album. “Sunburn” is the perfect blend of Our Lady Peace-meets-Fuel that leaves our ears screaming for more.
All in all, Waiting Out The Storm is the quintessential blend of melodic rock and poppy hooks that packs more punch (and better teeth) than an Elton John vs. Madonna cage match. This album comes very highly recommended, and if you’re not at your local record store on Tuesday to purchase it, you deserve to have your ears gnawed off by both of them!
For more Royal Bliss visit the band’s official website here.
Deep Purple + Orchestra Live At Montreux 2011
5 out of 10
For DEEP PURPLE fans there are a ton of great DVDs that have been released over the last couple years that give you a look into the different versions of the band and show you why DEEP PURPLE should rank at the top of everyone’s list for greatest band ever, and most influential band! The fact that the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame continues to snub them is ridiculous and just shows you why it is completely irrelevant and a joke.
The latest DEEP PURPLE offering is a recent live show shot in 2011 in Switzerland at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The hook is that DP was touring with an orchestra and on July 16th they filmed the show for a DVD release.
There have been many hard rock and metal bands that have been performing lately with an Orchestra with varying results. Most notably was the biggest hard rock/metal band in the world, METALLICA performing with the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Michael Kamen (R.I.P.). The resulting CD/DVD of those two shows are phenomenal and set the standard for what a rock and symphony show should be.
KISS recorded a live show with the Sydney Symphony and it just doesn’t translate well at all. Dennis Deyoung performed STYX songs with a symphony. The point is most of them don’t translate well. METALLICA’s worked because Michael Kamen wrote the music for the symphony that COMPLIMENTED the music of the band, and didn’t just rework the band’s songs for strings, woodwinds, brass, etc. If you listen to the Just Symphony audio track of the DVD S&M you won’t be able to figure out what songs they are playing most of the time because they are not just playing the song the way the band wrote it with different instruments, they are playing all new original pieces that compliment the band’s songs.
DEEP PURPLE has always worked in and around symphonies from time to time with varying success. When John Lord (former keyboardist) wrote Deep Purple: Concerto for Group and Orchestra it worked because it was a symphonic piece and written as thus. It wasn’t a rock song or songs that they had the symphony play on. It was an experiment melding rock and symphony and written as such. That is why it worked.
Their new DVD doesn’t work. Because of the reasons stated above. The symphony is playing along with the band, not playing to compliment the band. They aren’t playing original pieces that work within the framework of classic DEEP PURPLE songs like Highway Star, Woman From Tokyo, Knockin’ At Your Back Door, Lazy, and Smoke On The Water. And it is this reason that the symphony here seems to take the teeth and the edge right out of the songs. Instead of building up the songs the symphony here seems to actually water down the DEEP PURPLE sound. It is unfortunate really because in any band’s music would work well with symphonic treatments it would be DEEP PURPLE’s. But on this show it is simply not the case.
I am always heralding ANY release by DEEP PURPLE because I feel they have never received the respect they deserve as being one of the first to perform Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Yes Black Sabbath is regarded as the Fathers of Heavy Metal but Deep Purple started a year before Sabbath did. They’ve released more albums, and pushed the envelope further than Black Sabbath ever could.
Sadly, I can’t recommend this DVD as it is just not a good representation of DEEP PURPLE and their legacy. But there are plenty more CDs and DVDs out there that are worthy of your time and I strongly suggest you go check them out. You’ll thank me later.
For more DEEP PURPLE click here.
Possession with Intent
Isabelle’s Gift Label
8 out of 10
South Carolina’s ISABELLE’S GIFT have been described as ’The second most dangerous band in the world’. Their ‘balls out’ raw energy approach to hard rock is very reminiscent of early Guns & Roses. And with their lyrical content wavering between illicit drug use, child molestation, rampant self immolation and desecration, titty bars, cocaine pentagrams, lascivious worship of the female form and orgiastic liquor consumption, it’s really no wonder they wear that tag as a badge of honor.
Their latest album, Possession with Intent, isn’t just another Isabelle’s Gift album; it is a middle finger to the state of rock and roll. It’s a .45 caliber bullet to your temple. It’s everything a good hard rock album should be, and then some.
Upon first listen, as the opening track Million Dollar Joke begins, you may think to yourself, ‘Self, why is Nickelback blaring from my speakers?’ And you wouldn’t be far off. The opening riff could be pulled right off the latest Nickelback disc. And this isn’t a bad thing, as it is a killer riff; it just grabbed me immediately and made me check to make sure I put the right disc in my stereo. Even after the bass and drums kick in, it still doesn’t quite have that IG signature sound to it, until it breaks down, and as Chris Sutton’s voice comes in, you sit back, relax, and begin the descent into monster swinging riffs, and a cavalcade of madness, piss, and vinegar from one of rock’s unheralded best frontmen out there today.
While Million Dollar Joke may be a pleasant ‘slight’ departure for the band, Sonofabitch is 100% born and bred Isabelle’s Gift fare. I hate to say ‘classic guitar sound’ of Kyle and James because most of you have sadly never even heard of IG until right now. But the tone, the riffs, the rawness is all IG and for those of us privileged enough to be in the know for several years, it has become a signature sound.
Sonofabitch and 88 show the anger and venom that boil beneath the surface of the best of Isabelle’s Gift’s music. From the strung out junkie redneck vibe to the white trash romance gone bad, to the simple misunderstood man standing amongst the shit hole that is his life somehow; the music is a bombastic rock and roll soundtrack to the glorious highs and lows of being at times simultaneously high and low.
It seems impossible to do at times, and not many can do it as well as IG, but from one lyrical line to the next they can celebrate the excesses of music and drugs, of tittybar superstars and pill head rockstars, the highest highs that only succeed in bringing on the lowest of the lows. The band doesn’t glorify the lifestyle they may lead and or portray in their music, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there is some sick and twisted shit going on in lead singer Chris Sutton’s head to bring out a song such as Edward 40 Hands or Lazy Suzan.
The nihilistic excesses of rock and roll are alive and well and the band named after a sexually transmitted disease is flying their scars, demons, and drive high, loud, and proud. Nothing exceeds like excess and Isabelle’s Gift is here to prove that creed.
My only complaint is that the second half of the album is/was their last EP. So if you are already following the band, then you are only getting what amounts to two EPs. Bubblegum Diesel (Sunnshine, Kill the Cheerleader, Save the World, and West Virginia) then 4 new songs, (Million Dollar Joke, 88, Sonofabitch, and Haulin’ Oats and Ass) and a reworked Edward 40 Hands off their last full length album American Idol.
Still, all told, the nine songs that make up Possession with Intent are better than almost anything you are listening to right now. And sure as shit it is 100 times better than ‘the most dangerous band in the world’s’ Chinese Democracy.
Yes, while this should really be considered an EP of new music, it will surely be on my top ten list of albums for 2011. Because even 4 new Isabelle’s Gift songs are better than no Isabelle’s Gift and because they are better than EVERYTHING you can hear on FM radio today.
Download Possession with Intent on amazon.com and iTunes today. You’ll thank me later.
For more Isabelle’s Gift click here.
Sunday, November 27, 2011 – Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD
Photos by Marcy J Royce
Taking You Down
Over and Under
You Make Me Sick
I was excited that EGYPT CENTRAL was going to be an opener for STAIND in Baltimore, MD. What a bonus for me! However, to me they are still a relatively new band. And I say that because their first release (Egypt Central) was in 2008 and their second release (White Rabbit) was in 2011. Even though they formed in 2001/2002. Fellow journalist/photographer here at Away-Team, Jason Rybak, had an interview with singer John Falls earlier this year and I was eager to catch their live show (link for interview: http://www.away-team.com/rock/2011/05/the-writing-on-the-wall-an-interview-with-egypt-centrals-john-falls ).
This band has had me intriqued since I first learned of White Rabbit back in the spring of this year. I’ve listened to the cd quite a few times and keep toggling between songs as to which one is my fav. So I was really, really glad to see Kick Ass, White Rabbit, and The Drug in the set. Being an opener doesn’t afford a band the to chance to really showcase more of what encompasses them. But the songs they chose did the job well for the limited time they had. Seeing these guys for the first time, and up close in the pit through my lens was killer, and a high. I was smiling a lot as I spent my time photographing them for those first three songs. I just felt every bit of energy they spewed into the crowd. EGYPT CENTRAL certainly did not treat this as though they were an opener, they made me feel like they were the headliners. They gave it everything they had. And that is why my personal opinion is they should have gone on JUST BEFORE STAIND, not first. They had a much better set than the band that followed them. I was more enlightened and drawn to their performance than the next band.
I left the pit after those three songs eager for more. I headed for higher ground to get a few more photos that I couldn’t get right up front. I only photographed two more songs since I knew their set was just seven songs long. I made my way back downstairs and took my usual position in the back, slightly off center. I try to always position myself for the best sight line since I’m short and for the best possible intake of the sound. WOW! What a set for EGYPT CENTRAL. I am certainly glad I was there. They left me wanting more. And the crowd also. I can’t wait for them to come through my area again. And I do hope that I can photograph them again. They are just one of those bands I can’t photograpy once or twice, they have so much to their performance that it will take me a few times to truly encompass who they are and convey that through my photos to you. I’ll be watching their tour cities and hoping it’s not too long before I see them again.
Check out everything EGYPT CENTRAL at www.egyptcentral.com
I want to give a shout out and a high five to my girl, Amanda Cagan at ABC Public Relations, for working with Away-Team to be able to bring you the best of the best.
Sunday, November 27, 2011 – Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD
Photos by Marcy J Royce
Eyes Wide Open
So Far Away
Throw It All Away
Country Boy(Aaron Lewis song)
It’s Been Awhile
Something to Remind You
On the heels of their self titled and seventh release in September 2011, STAIND kicked off their current headlining tour just 2 days before they pulled into my area in Baltimore, MD. I own several STAIND cd’s, but it’s beyond my comprehension as to why I had not yet caught them live. Other things in life keeping me busy I guess. So here was my chance.
I learned it was a sold out show a few weeks earlier so I just knew Baltimore was licking its chops to dig into STAIND on the Rams Head Live stage. One of the BEST places to catch a live, intimate performance. Albeit the place holds around 1600-1700, so it’s not too intimate but not a arena. We arrived just 30 minutes before Egypt Central jump started the night. (Read Egypt Central’s show review under their photos). Next was Adelitas Way. And finally at 9:45pm, STAIND took the stage to a crowd frothing at the mouth. The energy was high and the screams deafening. I was anxious to see new drummer, Sal Giancarelli, but not my luck from the pit. The drum riser was too high for this short gal. But I would get my chance later during the set. But before the band came out I was entranced by Aaron’s mic stand and the plethora of picks on both sides. See my first photo. Pretty cool, and entertaining to see what some of them had to say. Ha Ha!
STAIND dove right into the night with Spleen, followed by Falling, and then Right Here. Fairly good choices to start the set. I was okay with it. I snapped off quite a few photos in the pit during those first three songs. Interesting LEDs had me waiting for the good light. Red is not a good color for photos, as I tell my husband all the time since he’s an LD himself. I was captivated my Mike Mushok, that man can groove. And he’s really feeling the music he plays. And I thoroughly enjoyed Johnny April. Loved his bass and the way he played with the crowd and me. He smiled for me a time or two and I captured that. BONUS! Next I made my way to higher ground, in the stadium seating area. From there I FINALLY got to witness new drummer Sal. Not bad, he’s still getting used to his new shoes though. I will wait and see what he does in his future with STAIND before I have a full opinion of him. I do have a thing for drummers and will follow what he does in the coming months.
As I finished off my last photos from the second floor, I decided it was time to place my camera in my bag and go back down to the first floor and enjoy the show as a fan. I really enjoyed Throw It All Away, Paper Wings, Eyes Wide Open, Not Again and Failing from the newly released album. I need to listen more to this cd. It takes me about a dozen times to truly give a cd a fair assessment. So Far Away and Mudshovel were perfect for the set. But I do question why Mudshovel was not the encore. Seems to me it would be a better fit than Something To Remind You. But this is just my opinion. The band has its reasons. I respect that. But I hope they do give some thought to changing it. All in all the show was fabulous. So glad I had the opportunity to catch it this time through my area.
Special thanks to Kymm Britton of 60 Cycle Media for making it all happen for me and the Away-Team.
Songs from the Small Machine Live in L.A.
10 out of 10
Lindsey Buckingham is the most underrated guitarist ever. Here, let me share that with you again…. Lindsey Buckingham is the MOST underrated guitarist ever. From his beginnings with Buckingham Nicks (the guitar work on their debut album still sounds amazing 38 years later), to his Fleetwood Mac body of work, to his seven solo albums from 1981 to 2011. He has released or been a part of 13 studio albums, numerous live albums and seven movie soundtracks. The man’s body of work speaks for itself.
Whenever I get into a discussion about guitarists I always bring up Lindsey Buckingham. When I’m poo-pooed about my choice for the best and most underrated guitarist ever, I simply put on Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance, and the track Big Love. During that song Lindsey is on stage alone, playing 2 guitar parts at once (he uses a picking and strumming method simultaneously) and make them watch him at work. That song alone usually shuts them up. Then I mention the fact that when he left Fleetwood Mac in the 90’s it took two guitarists to do what he did by himself live.
Well its 2011 now, he is still in Fleetwood Mac, though as usual they aren’t releasing albums in any great rush, so he has plenty of time to put out more solo work, this time in the form of Seeds We So which shows Lindsey to be once again at his best. The man is a maniacal machine when it comes to his solo work. It can be very eclectic and sometimes takes a bit to get into, but once you are there, the music simply envelopes you and takes you on a journey unlike any other artist.
Lindsey has spent the last few months touring theaters bringing Seeds We Sow and his amazing prolific body of work to those special enough to have gotten tickets to this amazing show.
The set begins as it should, with just Lindsey and a guitar. In fact he mentions this about three songs in that he chose to start the set as he started in music, just a man and his guitar, just a voice, and guitar. And really, there is no better way to see or experience Lindsey Buckingham, than to have it be just him and a guitar.
One of the most powerful songs that Lindsey now does acoustically is Go Insane, it is a haunting ballad of loss and despair that ever so slowly builds to climax and a single vocal note held longer and cleaner than any 62 year old should be able to hold a note.
The acoustic opening set covers solo material as well as some reworked Fleetwood Mac favorites such as Never Going Back Again. But again, on Big Love the man shows the world why I’m right and why he is the most underrated guitarist ever. Again I can’t stress enough, sit down watch that song alone, and you’ll realize that it is a 62 year old man playing two guitar parts at once and never using a pic. It is just his fingers and nails the whole time.
When he shifts into the full band mode I think a little bit is lost, only because it takes away from just his voice and a guitar. Not that it doesn’t sound great and the band does a great job on cuts like Second Hand News and Tusk not to mention his new and older solo works, but I think Lindsey is at his best when it is just him. I don’t think enough people have been exposed to him as a guitarist and an artist in a solo environment and the best way to showcase it is just that.
If you are a Lindsey Buckingham fan then you’ll love this concert because it has everything you could want in it, Go Insane, Trouble, Under The Skin, All My Sorrows, In Our Own Time, Stars Are Crazy, and more are featured here.
If you are a Fleetwood Mac fan, then you’ll love being exposed to his vast solo catalog not to mention FM favorites like Big Love, I’m So Afraid, Go Your Own Way, and Tusk.
Second Hand News sounds great as just a Lindsey piece without Stevie and Christine’s backing vocals.
I think maybe the one song that really needs a backing band to make it more ethereal and let you get the full impact of a man lost amongst his own feelings of loss a betrayal, is I’m So Afraid. And the desolation washes over you wave after wave as Lindsey and Neal Heywood’s dual guitar solo explodes into Lindsey’s signature Afraid guitar crying solo that should erase any doubt that the man is a guitar legend and should be mentioned up there with Clapton, Hendrix, etc, but because his ‘band’s’ music was more California Rock ‘pop’ than Clapton, Hendrix, or Vaughn, his guitar playing was somehow less impressive than theirs.
You can purchase Lindsey Buckingham Songs from the Small Machine Live in L.A. right here.
For more Lindsey Buckingham click here.
30th Anniversary Tour
I think I’ve said on here once or twice that I am a huge Queensryche fan. If not, here ya go. That being said, I have tried to like their newer albums. American Soldier actually was a good album, their best since Promised Land, but the rest just fall a little flat for me.
I have listened to Queensryche since I first heard the EP in 1984. I first saw them in 1988 when the opened for Metallica on the Damaged Justice Tour in San Francisco. Loved the music but thought they were lost on stage in an arena (I was really high that night too, so it could have just been me).
I wouldn’t have the chance to see them again until Building Empires Tour in 1992 where they blew me away by performing Mindcrime in its entirety! They filled the arena and performed like they deserved to be there too.
Many years have gone by and Queensryche has released several albums that the fans (me included) have debated whether they were Ryche worthy or not. But one thing Queensryche has always done well (at least since 92 for me) is perform well live.
They have made sure that they always have a reason for you to come see their show, whether it’s performing suites (large sections of albums) or albums in their entirety, they always give you a reason to see their next tour (besides being a tremendous live band now).
For their 30th Anniversary Tour they have actually reverted back to the old fashioned tour dogma of playing a little something from everything. And I do believe every album was represented (other than their recent covers album) in the set they performed here in Raleigh.
The band in their infinite wisdom didn’t just come out and perform ‘The Lady Wore Black’ and run through their hits chronologically, they mixed it up, Starting the set with the latest ‘Get Started’ and moved on to a brilliant version of ‘Damaged’. The sole representation of Promised Land was a real treat for me and live was great and no small feat to pull off in my opinion!
‘Desert Dance’ off of Tribe was actually a great tune live. And maybe that’s what their latest studio albums need to bring them to life or more favor to their fans, to be performed live. You can always tell the newer tunes (anything after Promised Land in my opinion is the ‘newer’ stuff) when they’re performed because they just seem to be a little less… connected maybe? It is very difficult for me to describe, but my girlfriend was with me at the show (her third Queensryche show thanks to me) and she would even turn to me during the newer stuff and remark that it must be a newer song because it was missing something. It wasn’t as ‘rich’ as the other tunes and this is from someone who only hears them when I play them and live she can even tell the difference between pre-Promised Land and post-Promised Land material.
The highlight of the night for me had to be ‘The Real World’. I have never seen it performed live and never thought I would considering it was a cast off from the soundtrack to Last Action Hero. And I wasn’t sure they could pull it live considering the heavy string arrangement by the late Michael Kamen (RIP Sir) but it sounded fantastic and had half the crowd shaking their head wondering where the song was from and the other half drooling over it.
Queensryche‘s run from NM 156 to Screaming In Digital was a stroke of brilliance and I’ve often wondered why they haven’t done it before. Geoff Tate’s voice hasn’t lost a step over the years, he may not be able to hold the higher notes as long as he used to, but he still puts on a hell of a show and sings his ass off and does himself and the band proud. In the age of all these 80’s bands trying to sing their old stuff after 30 years of vocal abuse and simple age and mangling their legacy doing so (see Joe Elliot of Def Leppard, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, etc, etc, etc) it is great to see someone able to still sing their material correctly and not just that, but very well done!
The Ryche may not be headlining arenas anymore but based on their live shows they should be. The theaters we’re seeing them in today makes for an intimate setting but the sound that the band generates should be filling arenas around the world. A live Queensryche show is always something to behold and they always come up with a new reason to go see them, and see them you should. The band has been around for 30 years for a reason, and their live show says everything you need to know about them. Michael Wilton is a great guitarist and Parker Lundgren holds his own with Michael and the band. Eddie Jackson has always been a beast at the bass and there may only be one or two people better on the drums that Scott Rockenfield. The man can certainly go step for step with Mike Portnoy and Neil Peart. And as I’ve already stated, the showmanship and vocals of Geoff Tate are nothing short of spectacular 30 years on!
For more QUEENSRYCHE click here.
Digital Summer- Counting the Hours
Rating: 10 out of 10
Reviewed by: Jay Rybak
As many of our loyal readers already know garnering a perfect score from this critic is a rare task, but this year I have managed to dole out more perfect scores than Metallica’s “Lulu” has fans. (That’s two if you’re counting.) The most recent being the latest offering from Arizona based rockers Digital Summer. Filled to the brim with active rock deliciousness, this 16 track monster is the perfect recipe of Staind-meets-Deftones sprinkled with a dash of Cold that is sure to satisfy your eardrum’s appetite.
Highlights of this aural entree include the single “Just Run”, an up-tempo rocker which has a slight Sevendust feel to it. Speaking of Sevendust, I would be remiss not to mention the fact that Sevendust skinman Morgan Rose lends his talents on three tracks, including what is hands down my favorite track on the album, “Playing the Saint”, where Morgan’s signature scream adds the perfect finishing touch to an already killer song. “Shallow” (Closer Than the Angels) follows up with a sound that could’ve easily been mistaken for a long lost Cold song.
Remember when I said I gave out two perfect scores this year? Well, “The Thrill” could’ve easily fit right in on the first perfect 10, the sound is a perfect compliment to “The Drug” off of Egypt Central’s White Rabbit. Now let’s take that EC sound and mix in a little Sevendust and you have another favorite, “Not Even God”, if this track isn’t enough to make you run out and buy the album then ‘not even God can save you’!
The monster sound on Counting the Hours would be a shadow of itself if not for the lyrical brilliance of frontman Kyle Winterstein. The album abounds with metaphorical mastery, complimented by killer musicianship, and is a MUST HAVE! This album comes Very Highly Recommended! So what are you waiting for? Get off your ass and “Just Run” to your local record store to pick it up, or if you’re a lazy piece of shit like me you can head here and learn more about the band while you’re at it.