Friday, September 30, 2011

Music News: Erik Kish R.I.P.

The Critical Mass family want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Erik Kish, lead singer and guitarist of Chicago's own Hi Fi & The Roadburners. Erik was killed in a motorcycle accident in the early morning hours of September 29. A Facebook tribute page has been made, and we hope you join and share your fond memories. No word yet on any memorials that may take place. But as soon as there is any news, you will hear it here.
UPDATE: 10/3
Here is a link to a write up in the Chicago Sun Times. The article has a brief history on the band as well as info on an upcoming tribute party to be held in Erik's honor this coming weekend. 
Here is the Facebook page for the memorial service. All the info you'll need is on this page. I hope many of you will make it out for a night of music and memories.  
 UPDATE: 10/5
It has been announced that there will be a benefit concert for Erik to be held at Double Door on Sunday, November 6th. As more details are available, you'll get it here.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Music News: New Deluxe Rolling Stones Releases

"The greatest rock n roll band in the world", the Rolling Stones will be turning 50 in 2012. And rumors are floating around of a possible tour and album to commemorate the anniversary. But in the meantime Mick, Keith and the boys are busy with some new releases in time for the holiday season. 

First up is the "Six Ed Sullivan Shows Featuring The Rolling Stones". This deluxe 2 DVD set, out November 1, will feature all 6 complete Sullivan shows that featured the Stones performing live from 1964 to 1969. All the early hits are here. From "Time Is On My Side" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" to "Gimme Shelter" and "Honky Tonk Women". 17 performances total. It's ALL HERE remastered for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Bonus material in the deluxe edition includes a 24-page booklet featuring rare Ed Sullivan Show documents, photos, TV production files, liner notes by Greil Marcus, and a replica ticket to a 1966 "Ed Sullivan Show" starring the Rolling Stones.

For those who don't want to drop the $40 for the deluxe version, on October 4, there will be a scaled down version of 4 complete shows featuring 12 performances on 1 DVD, and no bonus material. 

Besides the Stones, the complete Sullivan shows will also feature performances from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tom Jones and Petula Clark, comedians Phyllis Diller, Robert Klein and Rodney Dangerfield, plus the Muppets, dance troupes and opera singers.

On November 21, a re-mastered, expanded, Super-Deluxe, Deluxe and Digital editions of the 1978 Stones classic album "Some Girls" will be released. This album has been compared to other Stones milestone albums as "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile On Main Street" and featured such hits as "Miss You", "When The Whip Comes Down" and "Beast Of Burden". 

The Super-Deluxe edition of "Some Girls" will include a stunning, previously unseen Helmut Newton photo session from 1978, an essay by esteemed author and journalist Anthony DeCurtis putting the album in its cultural context, and a 7” single of Beast Of Burden/When The Whip Comes Down in its banned sleeve. 

And if that isn't enough for you, a one-night in-theater concert event on Tuesday, October 18, will feature "The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live In Texas". 

Unveiled for the first time in more than 30 years, this rare, never-before-seen concert was captured live in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 18, 1978. Digitally re-mastered to HD with Cinema Surround Sound, this legendary footage includes a mixture of classic Stones hits such as "Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Women," "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Tumbling Dice," paired with blues numbers and Chuck Berry covers, as well as songs from the then newly released "Some Girls" LP including fan favorites "Beast of Burden" and "Miss You." 

This tour has never been released via broadcast, cable television or DVD before. The special event will also include an exclusive 20-minute interview with Mick Jagger filmed in August 2011 where he reflects on the fabled 1978 U.S. tour, which is widely believed among fans to be one of the band’s greatest tours and strongest musically.

You can view the trailer HERE.  Be sure to check your local theater for times

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Music News: DVD/Blu-Ray Release Dates, Bands Reunited News, RNRHOF 2012 News

Music DVD and Blu-Ray News:
Canadian power trio Rush are set to release their new concert DVD "Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland" on November 8th along with the 2 CD set as well as a live version of their seminal 1981 album "Moving Pictures" on vinyl and digital download only. Bad news for those who are looking to get the Blu Ray version. You'll have to wait until December 20 for the Blu-Ray to hit store shelves. No word from the Rush camp as to why there will be a close to 2 month time difference. But I'm sure it will be well worth the wait.

In other Rush related news, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart has released a new trailer for his upcoming drum instructional DVD "Taking Center Stage: A Lifetime Of Live Performance". In the new trailer Neil talks about how the band came up with the set list for the 2010/2011 Time Machine tour and playing MP in it's entirety, as well as the song "Presto" live for the first time ever. The DVD will hit store shelves on November 8th as well. You can view the new trailer here.

Now onto "Bands Reunited" News:
                                                                        D Generation
New Yorks own D Generation is currently out on tour playing in select cities across the U.S., and having just finished shows overseas in Spain and the U.K. This is the bands first tour since 1999, and the first with the classic D Gen line up of Jesse Malin, Danny Sage, Richard Bacchus, Howie Pyro and Michael Wildwood. Bacchus left the band in '98 and was replaced by Todd Youth who recorded and toured with the band behind their 1999 album "Through The Darkness". Rumor has it when the tour ends the band will begin writing songs for a new album. And Ryan Adams has even commented on his Facebook page that he's willing to releases the album on his own label PAX*AM Records. If all goes as planned this will be the first D Gen album with this line-up since 1996's "No Lunch".
                                                                                               Diesel Boy
According to their Facebook page, Diesel Boy are about to get together for a "super secret meeting" in San Francisco. I'm guessing it's to discuss a new album and possible tour. Singer/guitarist Dave Lake recently hooked up with lead guitarist Justin Werth and began writing some new songs. The bands last album "Rode Hard And Put Away Wet" was released in 2001.

Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame News:
                                                                                                   Guns N' Roses
The nominees for the 2012 RNRHOF have been announced. And the list includes:

· Beastie Boys
· The Cure
· Donovan
· Eric B. & Rakim
· Guns 'N Roses
· Heart
· Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
· Freddie King
· Laura Nyro
· Red Hot Chili Peppers
· Rufus with Chaka Khan
· The Small Faces/The Faces
· The Spinners
· Donna Summer
· War
                                                                                     Red Hot Chili Peppers
To be eligible for induction the artist must have released its first single or album no less than 25 years ago. And more than 500 voters will determine who, of this years 15, will make the hall. New members will be inducted at a ceremony at the hall of fame in Cleveland on April 14. Now, I understand why SOME of these bands are on the list this year, and I'm not gonna say who shouldn't be inducted. But it would REALLY be a shame if Guns n Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Donovan get snubbed. Donovan and RHCP both have been snubbed on years passed. Let's hope they get their just desserts this year. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview With The Mustard Men

 L-R Scott Wolz (guitar, vocals), Matt LaMantia (guitar, vocals), Dan LaMantia (bass, vocals) and Danny Behrens (drums, vocals)
Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guy's. For those who are new to the band, can you give us a little history on how you got started?

Mustard Men: Well we originally started in Feb 2009 as a three piece with Matt our current guitar player on drums. we played a lot of shows and wrote a lot of songs as a three piece but the three of us decided in late summer 2009 we needed Matt to move to guitar and we needed to make Danny Behrens our drummer. Since then the Mustard Men have really flourished. As a band we all write songs and we all sing. We the Mustard Men are a topical band and we write about whatever we want. We write mainly about the suburban lifestyle, its experiences and our passions. Most of our songs are short and sweet because we celebrate the attention deficit. We dont want to hear a 5 minute punk rock serenade so we dont write them.

CM: I know you have a new EP coming out in October. What can we expect from the new EP? Will it be in the same vein and last years self titled album?

MM: This SNUFF EP, which drops October 14th, is similar to our first record in the vein that it sounds like Mustard Men, However its a lot more intense in sound and subject matter. We are very proud of our first release (our self-titled album) and we are equally proud of the SNUFF EP. The SNUFF EP offers a different perspective of our view of the world, music, and humor. It has songs about Oprah, Michael Bay, Aids and even Killer clowns just to name a few. Unlike the first album were giving away a song off the EP called S.K.A.T.E. for FREE on our website. You can also listen to two other tracks off SNUFF EP on our website and even pre-order order yourself a digital or psychical copy.

CM: I hear some surf and hardcore in your sound. In your own words, what are some of the bands musical influences?

MM: Each one our band members have their own unique writing styles and their own influences. We do like similar music, and there is a lot of overlap in our individual influences. Some influences would include : The Cramps, Big Boys, Gray Matter, MinuteMen, Black Flag, Converge, Fugazi, The Bad Plus, and The Germs to name a few.

CM: You guy's have played around for some time now, doing gigs around Chicago and the 'burbs. Are there any plans to play outside of Illinois in the coming months?

MM: In 2012 we defiantly plan on doing some micro-touring of IL's College towns. We are an entirely DIY band, which means we would have to organize everything ourselves and that takes time and money. Were hoping that the SNUFF EP does well so it could potentially fund a small tour or two.

CM: The band has a fast and heavy sound on record. Are your live shows just as energetic as the records sound?

MM: Its funny you ask because we put so much time and dedication into our recordings and releases but people still tell us that we are much better live. We are all very energetic and animated when we play. We love what we do and its definitely conveyed on the stage. We have a lot of fun playing and we love seeing the audiences reaction. Weve played for crowds of people motionlessly staring at us aswell as the entire crowd being immersed in a giant mosh pit, sometimes at the same show haha. Its always fun to play for people and interact with them.

CM: Besides the new EP and last years album, you guy's have also had tracks on a couple comps. With everyone in the band contributing to the songwriting, will we see more comp tracks or singles in the near future?

MM: Yes definitely, We love doing comps. Its a great way to get the name out and to meet more of our fellow bands out there. We usually try to make it special and release something never before released every time we do one. We havent been asked to do one in a while so were hoping that someone decides to throw one together soon.

CM: With 2011 coming to a close shortly, are there any gigs coming up in the last few months of the year?

MM: We have several suburbs shows in October to promote the EP. The Mustard Mens show schedule changes day to day with new shows constantly being added so keep a close eye on our website and catch us the next time we play near you.

CM: Are there any websites that you guy's wanna plug? Where we can get up to date news, upcoming gigs or get some merch?

MM: Why yes, our website, we launched it a few months ago and it has all the stuff you mentioned. Merchandise, show info, news, FREE downloads and all our contact info can all be found on our very own website. You can even leave comments so please stop by and give us a shout out or just tell us what you had for lunch, its up to you. You can order basically anything we sell at our shows; buttons, stickers, shirts and CDs. Sign up there for our mailing list as well and have all our news and info emailed directly to you.

CM: Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass guy's. I'm stoked to hear the new EP and see you guy's live. Thanks again.

MM: Thank you very much. We hope you enjoy SNUFF EP and we hope to see you at a show soon. Yell out your favorite song of ours at the next gig and well play it!

Friday, September 23, 2011

"My Personal Top 10" - Steev Custer from My Big Beautiful

 This weeks featured artist is a talented songwriter and guitarist who has in the past played in The Bomb and The Boneyard Brawlers and is currently in My Big Beautiful. He also runs his own guitar repair and instructional company, Gearhead Guitar Repair. Now with his "Personal Top 10", Steev MF Custer!

10. My House. Also known as 65CHR or The House That Rock Built. I managed to buy this place shortly after losing my job and starting my own business, while going through a divorce. It truly is the punk rock version of Pee Wee's Playhouse. It's the perfect location to go through a mid life crisis!

9. Memphis, TN - I'm proud to have been born and raised in Joliet, IL where I'm nice and close to the Chicago music scene, but if I could move anywhere in the world, Memphis would be it. Gibson guitars is there, Sun Studios is there, and the whole city just oozes Rock N Roll.

8. My musical counterparts. I'm been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by some really talented people. Paul Garcia and I have been making music together since high school, and I've been in MY BIG BEAUTIFUL for 18 years now. I got to play bass in The Bomb with Jeff Pezzati and John Maxwell, and all of these guys are top notch musicians that I got to learn some things from.

7. My family. I'm the youngest of 6 children. I have 5 older sisters, and each one of them is nothing short of amazing. We can be dysfunctional as hell sometimes, but when it comes down to it, we've got each others backs. Which leads to....

6. My Mom. I'm a momma's boy, and I'll readily admit it. My mom is a saint and has gone above and beyond when it comes to parenting. I got the short end of the stick as far as my old man is concerned, but my mom has more than made up for him without even trying. I don't even want to think about here I'd be without her.

5. Guitars. I own a '76 Fender Mustang, and a Fender Aerodyne bass, but I'm a SUCKER for a Gibson. I own 4 Gibson's, my favorite being a '91 ES-335 Studio that never fails to kick my ass.

4. My Career- Let's face it: one way or another, I play guitar for a living. It's a blessing. I teach lessons and repair instruments and love each and every minute of it. My worst day at work is far better than my best days when I worked in printing. I don't miss that shit a bit.

3. Women- They're all beautiful in their own way and I'm a shameless flirt. Ladies: I LOVE YOU.

2. My Friends- Another dysfunctional group in my life, but I wouldn't trade my friends for all the money in the world. This group of people have been there for me through thick and thin, and I love each and every one of them, no matter how fucked up they are. lmfao.

1. My kids. I have a 9 year old daughter, Lennon, and a 4 year old son named Lucas. They've taught me more about life than I ever thought possible. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world, but I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. Everything I do in my life is for them. The make me smile everyday, and I'm exceptionally proud of the people they're becoming.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Music Reviews: Outsiders - "Outsiders EP"

Whenever I get a new album or EP to review, it's always a gamble. It could be amazing, great, so so, mediocre or just plain horrible. Sometimes I'm blown away. Other times, not so much. But I always try to find something good in each record. Whether it's a particular musician, sound or lyrics. I try to find something good. And not being able to write a song to save my life I can only imagine these bands put everything into their music. And it must be crushing to read a bad review. With that said, it's time for my review of the new Outsiders self titled EP, out on Underground Communique Records.

When I think of Wellington, New Zealand, I don't normally think of catchy punk rock! Boy was I surprised when I heard the first song "The Beginning Of The End". It very well COULD have been just that. But it's wasn't...not even close! The song starts out very low-fi, making you think this is a cheap ass recording job. Then I turned up the volume just in time for it to kick in full throttle! Loud and abrasive! I went to turn it down, only to realize this is the only way to hear it...LOUD! The song is very up front and in your face with a rousing sing along chorus. A great way to start off this EP.

Key stand out track "Crazy Jenkem Party" has a great super catchy guitar riff and a great beat. It's sure to be a crowd pleaser when played live. A song that will
definitely have you raising you fist in unison and singing along. Next up is "Bonships And Friendfires" (which is also featured as a live bonus track at the end). It's all about unity and positivity. It's almost cliche' to have songs like that in this day and age of punk rock. But these guy's do it with urgency and make you BELIEVE in it. Not just talk about it because it's "the thing to do" so to speak. GREAT song!

"Sleeper" is another rollicking good time via song! It has great melody and enthusiasm. I honestly can't find a sour spot in this song. It has jangly guitars in certain areas, killer down strokes in others, and again, more great fist pumping action. Throw in a scorching solo, and you've got another blast of fiery punk rock on your hands.

Of the 7 songs on this EP tracks, 1-5 were the bands first EP recorded in '08. Track 6 is a demo from '09. And the last track was recorded live in '09 as well. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. This is a band with a fire inside and the strength to go the long run in a world of "here today, gone later today" punk bands. I hope to see this band around for a long time. They just landed in America for a tour. Get out there and SEE this band when they hit your town. I know I'll be there when they hit Chicago.

Track Listing:

1 -
The Beginning Of The End
2 - Walk Away
3 -
Crazy Jenkem Party
4 -
Bonships And Friendfires
5 - Sleeper
6 - Finding Reason
7 -
Bonships And Friendfires (live)

4 / 5 Stars

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Music News: Rush Plan Multiple Releases In The Coming Months

As I posted yesterday VH1 Classic will be debuting the new Rush live DVD "Time Machine: Live In Cleveland 2011" on Weds September 28 (a week from today) in a 2 hour edited version, well over a month BEFORE the official release date of November 8. 

Now news has broke that there will be theatrical release of the live concert as well. The full length feature will hit theaters on October 26, almost 2 full weeks before the official DVD/Blu-Ray release date.

And if that isn't enough Rush news for you, it has also been officially announced that there will be 4 Rush related releases on November 8. With the release of the "Time Machine: Live In Cleveland 2011" DVD, the band will also be releasing the double CD companion. We're still not sure if the live CD will be from the Cleveland show this past April, or from multiple shows from the very successful Time Machine Tour 2010/2011.

The band will also be releasing, as a separate package, "Moving Pictures: Live 2011" as vinyl and digital releases. Recorded at the same show as the "Time Machine" DVD, I'm guessing this vinyl release may be a limited edition item. No official word yet though.

Along with the live DVD, double CD and vinyl version of "MP Live", Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart will also be releasing his instructional DVD "Taking Center Stage: A Lifetime Of Live Performance" on November 8 as well. 

All in all, 2011 is a big marketing year for Rush. You can get all the up to date news at the bands official website.

Interview With David Brent From Caves

Critical Mass - Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guy's. Can you give us a little history on the band? How and when did you get together?
Dave Brent - (Singer/guitarist)
Lou(ise Hanman) and I met through a mutual friend after she moved to Bristol from Liverpool, we were both looking to form a new band and so it all went from there. We've been together from 2009. Minty (bassist Jonathan Minto) joined us late last year and because we've been playing so much we've really honed our sound.

CM - The bands new album "Homeward Bound" just came out this past July. And you recently did a tour in the U.K. with Sundials. How was it touring with Sundials?
DB - Touring with Sundials was great, they are all ace guys and really easy to share a van with.
CM - Are there any plans to cross the pond and visit us here in the U.S. in the near future?
DB - Yes we are playing Fest 10. We'll be doing Tampa Pre-Fest on the Wednesday prior to Fest and Gainesville Pre-Fest on the Thursday at 1982. We've also got some tentative plans to come over sometime in the
Spring next year.

CM - You also have a split with Sundials that just came out a few weeks ago. Is your catalog available in the States? Or are your records imports only?

DB - You can get our split with Sundials, the LP and I think our split 10" from Kiss Of Death Records, other than that Interpunk stock both our CD's and also the LP.
CM - Besides the new album and split, the band also has a track that will be available on a Tsunami Benefit comp that's in the works. How did you get involved in this project?

DB - Akihiro, who runs Eager Beaver Records, distributes loads of bands from outside of Japan. He got in touch with Specialist Subject about using a track off of the new album and we were stoked to be involved. The guy does an awesome job in getting bands heard over in Japan. And this comp is a way of helping those affected in the recent Tsunami.

CM - Do the 3 of you have a hand in songwriting? Or is there 1 major songwriter in the band?

DB -  Lou has been the main songwriter. When Minty joined the band he has written a few and they've started collaborating also. Things are getting really exciting in that respect!
CM - Who are some of the bands influences?

DB - We're not the most versatile band. Whatever we write comes out sounding like it does because that's just how we play. As far as band influences, we love Lemuria, Superchunk, Good Luck, Latterman, Iron Chic, Lawrence Arms, loads of 90s stuff. Not to say we sound like any or all of these but that's just what we love listening to I guess.

CM - With the year drawing to an end soon, will there be more tour dates coming up?

DB - Yeah we've got a few shows with RVIVR when they're over in the UK, plus a very short sprint over to France in November with our friends OK Pilot. Maybe some more little weekenders in the UK also.

CM - Is there any websites that you would like to plug? Any place where fans can get up to date news on upcoming releases, tour dates and merch?
DB - /

CM - I really love your sound and songs. I wanna thank you all again for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass. I hope we get to see you in Chicago at some point. Thanks again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Music News: VH1 Classic To Premiere New Live Rush DVD In September

According to the Rush Is A Band website VH1 Classic will premiere the new live Rush "Time Machine" DVD on  September 28th as part of their yearly 24 hour Rush-a-thon, "Rush Hashanah". 

The show, which will be a 2 hour edited version of the official 164 minute DVD that will be released on November 8, was filmed in Cleveland, OH at the Quicken Loans Arena this past April. 

Also in the works is a new live album from the 2010/2011 Time Machine Tour which will be released on the bands new States side record label, Roadrunner. No set date has been announced as of yet for the live set.

You can pre-order your copy of the DVD at Amazon. And check out the Rush Is A Band blog, as well as the bands official website for all your up to date Rush news.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"My Personal Top 10" - Danny Sage from D Generation

10. The Ocean.
When I was young I found a lot of peace in and around the ocean. It got me through a lot of hard times when I was very young. It's always there. Always gonna be.

9. Women
They look good and smell good too. And they've always been extraordinarily nice to me. To quote Mr. Dylan, "I can't help it if I'm lucky..."

8. Driving
 I didn't start till I was in my 20s, well, not officially or legally, anyway. I spent part of my youth in the front seat of my father's car, which is weird if you're a New Yorker. I always liked it. Which brings me to number...

7. The Radio
Sitting in the front seat of my dad's car, I was always playing the radio. And when I was little, it was AM radio, and it was goooood. the Beatles, the Stones, James Brown, Elvis, Sly and the Family Stone, the Supremes, Motown, bubblegum stuff, and top twenty kind of stuff. Just amazing. oh yeah, Elton John...

6. Elton John
When I was little, I was obsessed. I listened to him every day. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" was the soundtrack to my early grade school years. That, and "Honky Chateau". I love Davey Johnstone, the whole band, the songs. I wanted to be Nigel Olsson. But I was more Davey.

5. Jimmy Page, Mick Jones, Steve Jones, Mick Ronson, James Williamson
OK, I'm cheating. These guys (and about 20 others) were the people I looked up to and thought about when I was little, and thinking about what I wanted to "be" when I grew up. or, didn't grow up.

4. Electric Guitars
They just captivate me, still. Even "ugly" ones. People take it all for granted nowadays, they're just everywhere.
When I was a kid, you'd sooner see a unicorn than a really cool electric guitar. I would go see bands just to be around "real" gear. My first Les Paul was "lucky", my black beauty... that I still am fortunate enough to own. When I saw her, I bought her without ever playing her. I saw her hanging on the wall, and I just said, "I want that one!" She just looked like we belonged together. There's nothing like a Gibson Les Paul.

3. The Sex Pistols
I was in public school in Queens, really into Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Kiss, Aerosmith. And a little later, I heard the Pistols. It was the greatest sound I had ever heard, since I had first heard the Beatles. Just everything about it grabbed me. The look, the feel, the attitude. But especially that sound. "Never Mind The Bollocks" is brilliant, Steve Jones is brilliant.

2. The Beatles
Without whom, for better or worse, I would have never picked up a guitar. My mom let me take the "White" album out from the library, I never returned it...I was 6. My dad bought me the "Red" and the "Blue" albums, and I was off and running.

1. New York City
I love it, I hate it. I was born there, my great grandparents came here 130 or so years ago, all lived in Harlem and the Lower East Side. I guess it's just part of me. The biggest, best city in the world. They're trying to kill it off, but it still is beautiful to me sometimes. I can't shake it. Home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Music reviews: Mexican Cheerleader - "Genghis Puss"

When I think of all the great bands to come out of Chicago I usually think of Naked Raygun, Bollweevils, Screeching Weasel, Effigies and The Methadones. Now I'm adding Mexican Cheerleader to the top 5...make that top 6! 

Their new album "Genghis Puss", out now on Underground Communique Records, is a true fucking rocker in every way possible. It's catchy, loud, funny and awesome! Who else could write a song like "You Owe It To Charo" with a straight face? Nobody, that's who! 

"Genghis Puss" is the bands first album in 5 years, and it's well worth the wait. The bands comedic genius is still intact. Songs like "Parking Lot" and "Hole In Your Head/Heart" are true punk anthems with great riffs and lyrics. "You joke but no one's laughing. Your soul devoid of  action. You're sweating beads like oysters, pure chewing satisfaction." Pure poetry! 

Antagonistic cocky fun is on tap, and I'm drunk on it! I can't get enough of this album, and neither should you. "(There's A) Crowd In The Crowd" is a fast little number, with a tip of the hat to Deep Purple's "Highway Star", that sounds like it could be about YOUR local music scene. A scene full of assholes who are just there because they think it's "cool" to be part of the "crowd". You gotta hear it to believe it. 

Another song about the phony punk rock bandwagon jumpers is "I'm A Mess". Nothing more true then the lyrics "Revolution canceled on account of stormy weather. The mohawk and the safety pin, the new suit and tie." Sad but true folks! Sure, there's a bunch of phony dicks out there that call themselves "punks", but as long as we have bands like Mexican Cheerleader pointing them out in the crowd, our little scene will still thrive. 

 Now, onto the BEST cover of an obscure 80's tune ever. The band whip through Gleaming Spires semi hit "Sex Girls" like it's 1984 all over again. Hands down the best cover I've heard in years! You may remember this song from the cult 80's geek fest film "Revenge Of The Nerds". 

I can't say enough good stuff about this album. It's a fun record, and not one that loses it's appeal after a couple listens. This is a true classic! But this record NOW! Or go by the new crappy Blink 182 album. The choice is yours. You can download the album for FREE here. Now do the right thing, and listen to this album. There's no real reason NOT to!

Track Listing:

1 - Genghis Intro
2 - You Owe It To Charo
3 - What Are You Afraid Of?
4 - Parking Lot
5 - Plastic Boys
6 - Hole In Your Head/Heart
7 - New Broadcast
8 - Sex Girls
9 - (There's A) Crowd In The Crowd
10 - Never Do It
11 - Catastrophe No More
12 - Back-Door Bishop
13 - No Connection
14 - I'm A Mess
15 - Moist Glove
16 - 1993 Song

4 / 5 stars

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Music News: Neil Peart To Release New DVD In October

2011 has been a big year for Canadian power trio, Rush. They wrapped up their 2010/2011 Time Machine Tour with big box office numbers, have a new live DVD from the tour coming out in November, singed a new record deal with Roadrunner Records, and now news has just hit that drummer Neil Peart will also be releasing a DVD called "Taking Center Stage: A Lifetime Of Live Performance". The DVD, which will be released on October 14 through Hudson Music, will feature over 6 hours of footage including,
*Neil's personal drum rehearsals
* Setup and soundcheck footage
* Backstage interview as Neil warms up for a RUSH concert
* Detailed discussion of classic
RUSH drum parts, with slow-motion, drums-only demonstrations and e-Book with transcriptions
* Live, drum-camera performances of every song on the
"Time Machine" tour
* One-hour interview, explanation, and demonstration of new
RUSH song "Caravan"

You can view the official trailer for the DVD HERE.

All in all this will be one of the busiest years for the band who are set to enter the studio soon to finish work on their long awaited album "Clockwork Angels". This DVD will be a must have for drummers and Rush fans alike.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"My Personal Top 10" - Darren Vorel From The Scissors

Here at Critical Mass, I'm starting a new column called "My Personal Top 10" written by featured artists who have been affiliated with CM in one way or another. This will be a weekly feature every Friday. "My Personal Top 10" is just that. It's an inside look at what influences artists. Where the artist of the week can share a little something about themselves. What drives them and inspires them to be creative. My first artist is a personal friend of mine, a talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and an all around great guy...not to mention the first person I ever interviewed. From The Scissors, Mr. Darren Vorel.

My Personal Top Ten: Darren Vorel

10. Sushi Station in Rolling Meadows, IL. - The sushi rolls around on a huge conveyor belt that spans the whole restaurant. It’s my lady’s favorite spot, which kinda makes it my favorite spot. Always crowded so you know it’s good and the food’s cheap which is a bonus. They also have Kirin Ichiban on tap. The bus boy that’s been there for the last 3 years looks exactly like the lead singer from the band, Bayside. I swear it’s him.

9. HBO Original Series – I don’t have enough bread to afford HBO, but I do have Netflix. That’s really opened the door for me to catch up on this stuff. First series I watched was “Six Feet Under” back in ’06 or ’07. It’s got an incredible cast and Alan Ball is one hell of a genius.  I’d say it’s my favorite series, but I also loved “Deadwood,”  “John Adams”, “OZ”, and “True Blood.” Interested to see “Boardwalk Empire” but haven’t had the opportunity yet. TV in general has been pretty excellent in the last few years, with shows like “LOST”, “24”, “Dexter”, and “Always Sunny” as some notable leaders.

8. My Cat – I think he fits in right around here. Never really named him. Over the years “Kitty”, “Guacho”, and “Tito” have suited him. Bitches at the door to go outside every chance he can. He even loses his voice doing it. Totally tempermental and a one of a kind loner with the worst attitude you’ve ever seen on an animal or human. Every now and again he’ll come hang out while I’m writing, or watching a movie. He’s my best friend of like 16 years or so. Probably ‘cause we’re earily similar. Been through it all together and i’m lucky to have him.

7. Film Noir – Movies like “Detour”, “Woman In The Window”, “The Third Man” and Billy Wilder’s “ Double Indemnity” to name a few. What’s not to like? Guys getting caught up in some maniacal plan cause they fell for some shady lady with a cigarette attached to her mouth for 2 hours or so.  We’ve all been there right?

6. Sam Cooke Live at The Harlem Square Club – Let’s face it. Live albums are mostly terrible. These days a “live album” consists of 10% live performance and 90% studio overdubs. Not this one. In fact, it might be the best record anyone’s ever made. Listen to Sam tirelessly working the crowd with a voice that’s straight outta the gospel choir…with a little grit from his soul to make you move. His intro to “Bring It On Home To Me” gives me goose bumps every time. “I said I don’t want you operator….I want my BAAAAAAABBYY!” You really, really, have to hear this. It’s a must for anyone who likes genuine real deal no fucking around music.

5. Wrigley Field, Chicago – If you’ve been to Wrigley then you can understand. There’s nothing like walking into that place on a summer day in July, having an Oldstyle and watching the best damn team in baseball. I got to see Sosa hit #61 and #62 with Mark McGwire and The Cardinals in the stadium. That day was pretty damn magical.

4. Dick Biondi and any radio station that’s lucky enough to have him. – Dick is a serious legend. I’ve lived in Illinois all my life and I don’t know what Chicago radio is without Dick Biondi. My dad used to crank up Oldies 104.3 when we’d go for a drive and we’d sing along to the songs he’d play...all the hits, all the time. He KNOWS music and he’s a great guy on and off the air. A voice that is as recognizable as Elvis Presley’s. Long live Dick Biondi and the great memories he’s given us!

3. Vertigo (1958) – My favorite movie of all time. James Stewart and Kim Novak star in Hitchcock’s most personal film. I’ve seen it about 40 times to date. To me, it’s got everything you’d want in a feature. Drama, suspense, lust, love, detectives, ghosts, cigarettes, booze, mystery, costumes by Edith Head, and a pretty damn haunting score by Bernard Hermann. It’s the first movie that made me look at film as an art form, as well as entertainment.

2. The Ramones – I’m aware that liking The Ramones is a bit cliché these days in the punk rock community. I don’t care. That doesn’t change the fact that this band is my favorite band of all time. How does someone really get into the Ramones? Well, I got to see them perform live. I heard a few of their songs before the show and thought, “this is terrible.” I remember hearing “Beat On The Brat” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” and really trying hard to understand what the guy was saying.  I got the ticket as a birthday present from my brother’s friend Rob. Walking into the Riviera, you could hear people chanting “Hey Ho Let’s Go” from the doorway. It was Magical and Life Changing. Even in ’96, at the end of their time…still put on one of the best live shows ever. Saw ‘em two more times after that. Even caught one of Johnny’s pics which has dirt on it from his Mosrite. One of my prize possessions. Through them I got into bands like The Clash, Screeching Weasel, The Queers and Mr. T. Experience. Then I started my own group.

1.  Playing in a band – ‘Cause you gotta do what you love while the good lord allows it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Music reviews: My Big Beautiful - "The Way Things Are: The Soundtrack To My Life Vol. 1"

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's discovering an album that's been under my nose for so long and I never got around to hearing it. What's worse is when you love that album so much that you can't understand WHY you haven't heard it! This is the case for me and a little 'ol band called My Big Beautiful. Their album "The Way Things Are: The Soundtrack To My Life Vol. 1" (Underground Communique Records) is a great album front to back. It's pop punk at it's finest. It's got well crafted songs with good hooks, catchy lyrics and a great beat. Sure the album came out in 2006 and I'm just now getting around to reviewing it. But hey, better late than never! This album needs to be heard.

The album opener "The Triumphant Return Of The Kid With The Mispelled Name" get things going with great harmonies and lyrics about fighting adversity and coming out on top. It's a true anthem for anyone who's felt like an outsider just trying to fit in, only to find out it's better to be your own person than trying to be like everyone else. This is the theme for the album. Stand tall, be yourself and you'll win every time!

Later there's a wonderful gem called "People Places And Things". I'm not one for lovey dovey songs. But this is an exception. It has BALLS musically, but has sentiment at the same time. Who can deny lyrics like "I've been drinking with DeNiro, smoking cigarettes with James Dean. Singing with Sinatra just trying to make the scene. But of all the people that I've known, the friends I've had in the past. There is one thing that I know for sure. You and I are built to last, yeah! You're everything to me." This song is so sweet it makes sugar taste like salt!

Singer/bassist Stev Walker is an amazingly strong singer and really brings out the best in guitarist Steev Custer's lyrics. They both, along with drummer Mark London, really bring their A game on songs like "Turned It All Around" and "The Strongest Signal" (complete with a sound bite from Pulp Fiction). These songs are so fun they had me singing along with the first listen. Great playing and lyrics that everyone can identify with make this a real piece of ear candy. Don't be like me, waiting so long to hear this. You can stream the album and purchase it here. Give it a listen and if you like it, buy it. Your ears will thank you later.

My Big Beautiful will be playing tonight at Mojoes in Joliet with Smoking Popes, About The Mess and After The Fight. Go and show some love for a great band. And let's HOPE we get a "Vol. 2" soon. 

4 ½ / 5 stars