Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Music Reviews: Sink The Bismark - "Sine Metu"

Anyone who knows me personally or reads this blog on a somewhat regular basis will know I make no bones about my love of catchy pop punk. And the Midwest has some of the best pop punk bands out there. So, if you're like me, you'll really dig Sink The Bismark's latest album "Sine Metu" (I Hate Punk Rock Records). This album is a 10 song power blast of super cool punk rock. The band hail from St. Louis, MO and cite bands like Against Me!, The Loved Ones and The Menzingers as music influences. The album has lots of sing along choruses and big harmonies, which is what really makes pop punk so great, in my opinion.

Songs like "Dear Baltimore" and "Liars Last Call" have an equal amount of punch and catchy riffs that keep the listener focused on the tunes themselves. These are a couple real stand out tracks for me. Singer/guitarist Andy Binder has a really good voice. You can hear some influences in his vocal styling, but at the same time he's got an original sound as well. The band, guitarist Matthew Brennecke, bassist Mike Kostecki and drummer Calvin Simmons, really hold things together with tight playing, never letting the song take on more than it really needs. The songs are well written and precise in their approach.

"A Midwestern Classic" is a great song about unity and friendship. If you're luck you'll have a few really close friends in your lifetime who'll have your back, and you'll have theirs. This is a song about those friends. Just a great tune! "Closet Monsters" is the hardest track on the album. With lyrics about dealing with the daily in's and out's of being a hard working blue collar guy, it's a song I know I can relate to. And I'm sure a lot of you can relate as well. The album closes with "I Pass Like Night". With it's soft ska start you may be fooled into thinking it's something it's not. But it takes a sharp right turn and lets loose with a great hard riff, guitar solo and more sing along lyrics. This one caught me off guard, that's for sure.

I honestly like this album a lot. It's got power, passion, great playing and well crafted songs. Sink The Bismark really nailed it with this album, which is a feat in itself. Most of the time it takes a band a few releases to really hit it's stride. I think these guys have hit it already. I like the structure of the songs and the way it makes me THINK as well as groove with the beat. I'm looking forward to hearing more from this band. And I'm interested in seeing these guys live when they come to Chicago. All in all "Sine Metu" is a really great album by some cool young upstarts.

4 / 5 stars.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Music Reviews: The Hellfish - "Laughing With The Sinners"

The Hellfish are a quartet from Malverne, New York who play a mix of garage rock, punk and power pop splashed with catchy hooks and riffs. The bands latest album "Laughing With The Sinners" is a fun album made for good times. And with summer right around the corner it's all about good times and good tunes. So this will be getting plenty of play on my stereo this summer.

Kicking off with "On The Radio" the band, Nick B. (rhythm guitar/vocals), Lou Fiore (lead guitar), Liam Ledwith (bass) and Matt Lynch (drums), show what they're made of layering this single with harmonies and killer guitar riffs. And the rest of the album is pretty much the same musically. "Painkiller" "First Impression" and "Stuck On You" are straight up rockers that get the blood pumping. There's nothing wrong with good old catchy rock n roll music. And The Hellfish have mad amounts of it to share with the world. This album is definitely a guilty pleasure album with it's slick production and riffs for miles.

"Shake Up The Night" and "Stay Awake" are true 80's inspired power pop gems. The band must have listened to huge amounts of new wave and power pop growing up and it's obvious in the style of playing and songwriting. I really like this record. It fits in well with The Knack, Cheap Trick and all the other great bands of yesteryear. If this band keeps writing catchy tunes like these I think they'll be a big deal in the underground scene. Let's face it, they'll never get much radio airplay considering the radio is covered in horseshit music. But that's okay. If rock radio ever does rear it's not so ugly head, The Hellfish will be right here waiting to get some much deserved airplay.

4 / 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Music Reviews: Joey Ramone - "Ya Know?"

When Joey Ramone died in 2001 from Lymphoma he left behind a musical legacy of which no punk rocker before or since has been able to match. With his band the Ramones he recorded 14 studio albums as well as countless live and best of compilations. In 2002 came Joey's first solo album "Don't Worry About Me", an album he was in the middle of recording at the time of his death. The album was well received by fans and critics alike. And now 10 years later the follow up "Ya Know?" is finally hitting the streets.

The albums 15 tracks here are not just in the vein on old Ramones albums. Joey's able to spread his wings in a way that he wasn't able to with his old band. It's just a shame that he's not here to see how much we love it. The albums first track is also the first single "Rock N Roll Is The Answer". It's a great anthem for today's generation of autotuned garbage, teen pop and hip hop. Let's get back to REAL music! Let's face it, rock n roll IS the answer people! "New York City" is an ode to Joey's hometown. This song has a really cool guitar riff that you're not used to hearing in a song Joey sings. But again, this is Joey branching out in another musical direction. In a complete 180 turn there's the tear jerking ballad "Waiting For That Railroad". This has one of the best vocal performances Joey has ever given. Pure beauty.

The album, produced and arranged by Joey's brother Mickey Leigh, is a labor of love from his family and friends including Andy Shernoff and Richie Ramone who also play on the album. The production is spotless really bringing out the best in Joey's voice, layering tracks when needed and cleaning up the demo's from which these songs originally came from. "Party Line" is another stand out track that features Joan Jett sharing lead vocals with the man himself. This could very well be a hit if released as the second single. Time will tell if this will be the case. Either way, it's a great song.

There are a couple of re-recorded Ramones tracks that appear on this album as well. "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" is stripped down from the original form and turned into a slow burning torch song with a real 50's style rock n roll feel. Not a bad remake at all. And an all acoustic version of "Life's A Gas" closes out this wonderfully beautiful and breathtaking album by our fallen hero. Joey really loved what he did and he also loved his fans. And we loved him right back. When he sings "don't be sad, cause I'll be there", he meant it. He's with all of us in spirit and in the music he left us. Cherish the music and remember the man behind it. Joey, thanks for all you've given us. We truly miss you.

4 ½ / 5 stars

Monday, May 21, 2012

Music Reviews: About The Mess / Seized Up - "White City Blackouts" 7" split

I'm not gonna lie, I'm not a big fan of split releases. Usually it's one great band mixed with one less than great band. Sometimes you'll hit it out of the park. But most of the time it's a waste of time. But I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the latest split by About The Mess and Seized Up called "White City Blackouts", out on June 5th on Whoa! Records. All 4 songs are actually really good! Chalk this one up folks! It's a real winner!

About The Mess have been Critical Mass faves gong back to last years live EP "Give Me The Mic, I'm Drunk Already" and their studio EP "Anthem Of Imperfection". Both solid releases in their own right. Now the bands back with two new tracks. The opening track is the anthem "I Remember '94". This is a catchy little ditty about how the punk scene of years ago was much more acceptable and cool than the current day's watered down version. I remember '94 like it was yesterday. Good times! And this song will have those who were around then reminiscing about how great those days were. Next up is "Angry Bastard".
This is the hardest tune I've heard yet by ATM. And I really like it. It's got a fast paced beat and a great guitar solo. Since the band has had a slight line-up change on this release, I do miss former guitarist Mike Carlson. But new guitarist Adam Instefjord is a capable player who fits in well with the band.
These two songs are a little more polished production wise, but are equally as effective as a whole. Good stuff.

Side B is all about Seized Up. This Detroit 4 piece are really good musicians and songwriters bringing their A game to this split. "Keep On Truckin' " is a cool tune with a great beat and a sing along chorus. I like catchy tunes that make you wanna sing along the first time you hear it. And this tune has it all. "Million Little Pieces" is another great tune. It kinda reminds me of The Lawrence Arms a little bit. But just a little. These guys have the chops as not only musicians but as songwriters as well. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Seized Up. All in all I'm warming up to the fact of split records. If all of em can sound this good, I would have no issues at all.

4 / 5 stars

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Music Reviews: The Creeping Ivies - "Ghost Train EP"

As much as I love punk rock and old school metal, I have a lot of love in my heart for good old fashioned garage rock. And one of my favorite new garage rock bands is The Creeping Ivies. The band's last release "Rock N Roll Party EP" was one hell of a party! And the party has been extended with their new 3 song EP "Ghost Train", out June 1st.

This amazing duo from Scotland play rock n soul music that'll have you shaking your booty like there's no tomorrow. Singer/guitarist Becca Bomb and drummer Duncan Destruction are at their all time best on "Don't Cry". It's just got such a funky 60's feel to it that it's hard not to imagine this tune blaring out of a sweaty night club in Detroit some 40 years ago. The title track is another feast for the ears. Becca sings lyrics about traveling on a supernatural train to hell. AWESOME! I absolutely love this band! "Chicken Voodoo Blues" is another sonic blast of energy with Becca making the promise that she will "fight for rock n roll!" Keep fighting the good fight girl! We have your back!

If garage rock is your thing and wanna hear some great new music by a great new band I highly suggest you hit The Creeping Ivies up. You can stream the new EP at the groups Bandcamp page now. It's a must have if you still like it raw and in your face. I would love to get the band over to the states at some point for some shows. So show some love for this power duo and lets make that a reality. 

4 ½ / 5 stars

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Music Reviews: Strong Intention - "Razorblade Express"

Since forming back in the mid 90's, Strong Intention has gone through many line-up changes, but have stayed a true force to be reckoned with in the hardcore scene. With each release the band lets you know that true hardcore is a life long passion. It's not just a bandwagon you jump on for a few months than move on to the next flavor of the week. And nowhere is this message more clear than on the bands new EP "Razorblade Express", out now on Patac Records.

This album is 6 songs of intensity that'll make your head explode with firey guitar work and drums so fast they'll make Slayer look like amateurs. Singer Mike IX Williams of EYEHATEGOD shreds his vocal chords on tracks like the self titled album opener, and keeps the blood flowing hard and heavy on "Holes In The Wall" and "Rat Factory". The music is fast and furious, making a mosh pit inevitable by the end of the first track. These guys have toured with everyone from Impaled to Anal Cunt. and they fit the bill to a fucking T! THIS is angry music for an angry generation. Make no bones about it, these guys are here to fuck some shit up. And if you don't like it, they'll fuck YOU up too!

"Slaughter Intelligence" ends this manic feast for the ears with speed and precision not seen since D.R.I.'s landmark album "Dealing With It". The band has got the speed to make the frets on the guitar turn into ash. But they also play without sounding sloppy and talentless. This is one hell of an album from a band with nothing to prove, but so much to gain. When hardcore seems to be a dying breed it's nice to see bands like Strong Intention still making great records and staying true to what they believe in. Pick up this EP and show some love for the old school punk scene, and let it be known that underground hardcore is STILL around to kick your face in.

4 / 5 stars

Monday, May 14, 2012

Music Reviews: Haley Bowery & The Manimals - "Born Strange"

In this day and age society will consider pretty much anything punk rock. If you have knee hole jeans, you're punk. If you wear old crusty shirts, you're punk. If you wear those nuthugger jeans and a studded bracelet, you're punk. You get my point, I'm sure. And it's not just a fashion thing. If you're in a band that has a guitar player, you're a punk rock band. When Avril Lavigne, Ashley Simpson and Paramore are considered punk rock, you know the term punk rock has lost any sort of credibility. And following in this class of wannabe's is Haley Bowery & The Manimals, who's debut full length "Born Strange" hits the streets in the coming days.

This 10 track album is aimed more at the Katy Perry and Pink fan than at the Clash or Misfits fan. It's over sweetened pop music disguised as a punk album with titles like "Blitzed", "Lobotomy" and "Dream Of The Chelsea Hotel". If I had to say something good about this band it's that Haley Bowery isn't that bad of a singer. It's just that she's trying to hard to be something she's not. She's more of a pop singer than a supposed punk rock singer. If this was called a teen pop album it would fit that category like a glove. The album is over polished and I don't think it could be pulled off live without a backing track and some choreographed dance moves.

The band seem competent as musicians. It's jangly at certain points, especially on the ballad style track "29" and the soft teen inspired "Undertow". But they also have some light crunch on tracks like "
Halloween". But to call this heavy would be false advertisement. If you're a young girl dealing with coming of age issues in high school, this could be the soundtrack to your sophomore year. And maybe for the thirty and fortysomething soccer mom's who want a little more edge in their lives, this would be a nice little rebellious album. And that's all fine and dandy. But it's just not what I would consider, or call a punk rock album. Different strokes for different folks. It's just not my kinda band of music.

2 / 5 stars

Friday, May 11, 2012

Interview with former Iron Maiden and Praying Mantis guitarist Dennis Stratton

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, Dennis. I really appreciate it. You've been recording music and touring the world for over 30 years now. What are you currently up to? Any new music or tours coming up in 2012?

Dennis Stratton: Basically Chris, since playing full time in England we built up regular work throughout the year, from Christmas to Christmas. So over the last couple of years, in England, I have 3 bands that I work with and a duo. So basically we work all the time, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes on bank holidays. So, it's regular playing, regular work all the time. In between these, regular work in England, I travel a lot to Italy to do the Iron Maiden Conventions over there. It's quite big shows and festivals. And these can sometimes take me to Germany, South Africa, Bulgaria. So, it's a mixture of regular work in pubs and clubs with the band or duo and the odd trip over to Germany or wherever the festivals are. So that's what keeps me busy. Since (playing in Praying) Mantis (this) is the first time I have not been involved in a full time band, so it gives me freedom to work with different people. So, in 2012 there will be some festivals. We just came back from Germany and there will be some festivals in Italy depending on what comes up in the future.

CM: I'm sure people remember you as one half of the Iron Maiden guitar duo that was featured on the self titled debut from the band. How did you get hooked up with the band originally?

DS: One of the bands I work with in England, Remus Down Boulevard, in the 70's we signed to Quarry Management with Status Quo. And we went on tour with Status Quo back in the 70's. And we were resident at a pub in East London, The Bridge House in Canning Town. And Steve Harris and Dave Murray used to come up and watch us play. So when Iron Maiden signed a deal with EMI, back in '79, there was only 3 of them, Paul (DiAnno) Dave and Steve. They were looking for another guitarist who could sing and a drummer. So, basically they asked me to join the band because I had a lot more experience than them because I was a bit older with recording and touring. So, basically I joined the band as a fourth member. And then I took Clive (Burr) along and they asked Clive to join and that was the band all set and ready to go. And that's how we got hooked up, because they used to come watch us play before I played with Iron Maiden. 

CM: I always felt that Maiden's debut album was one of the best debuts in music history. And that Paul DiAnno, Clive Burr and yourself never really got the credit you guys so rightfully deserved. When you look back at the time you spent in Maiden, what are some of your favorite memories of that period in your life?

DS: Yeah, the debut album could have been better. Better produced. Better played. Because it was quite rushed. As I said I joined the band and they were waiting to record the album for EMI. And I got Clive in and we rehearsed and basically the album was recorded. It was very very rushed because we were booked to go on tour with Judas Priest. So I suppose, you say we never got the credit the guys rightfully deserved, well I think you're right in some ways. But then in them days we were very young and I think that if the five of us had stayed together a little bit longer we might have been a little bit different. Y'know the line-up changes started and people were arguing, so yeah. When I look back on it some of them are great memories. But I also had lots of memories before Maiden with RDB and Status Quo. So, the short time, the two years with Maiden from '79 to '80, there's lots of good memories. The Kiss tour and everything else. And they still are good memories.

                                           Iron Maiden circa 1980. L-R Dave Murray, Steve Harris, Paul DiAnno (sitting), 
                                                         Dennis Stratton and Clive Burr
CM: You also played in the band Praying Mantis with both Paul and Clive, at different times. Why did you leave Praying Mantis? And are you and the Troy brothers still close?

DS: I played with Praying Mantis. The problem we had there was, again Praying Mantis consisted of meself, Tino and Chris Troy. But I went into that band in 1990 to go to Japan to celebrate 10 years of The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. And DiAnno came with us which was a bit of a mistake, but there you go. And as Praying Mantis went along, year after year, the record company wanted us to stay with them and record more albums. So, basically Bruce was on drums,
Bruce Bisland, and we used to get a singer in. We had all different vocalists. But meself, Chris and Tino were the nucleolus of the band who wrote all the material. And we rehearsed and recorded the album. Bruce would then put the drums down and then we would get a singer in to do the album and the tour in Japan. DiAnno only came with us once, and it was a big mistake. Clive came in as a debt for Bruce because we were due to go over to Japan to do the tour as usual. But they wanted us to record a double CD/DVD live in Tokyo and Bruce fell off his bike and broke his arm. So, basically, we grabbed Clive and said "Look Clive, we've got this recording to do." So Clive came in and he sort of learned the songs. He came to Japan with us and did the recording. And, yeah, it was fine. It's just a shame that when we came back that Clive then found out that he was ill and slowly got worse.

I still keep in contact with Tino and Chris. I was with Tino and Chris last week at the Keep It True festival in Frankfort. Amazing festival, 5,000 (fans). Myself, Tino and Chris flew over and we were together for the whole weekend. So, yeah, we still see one another. And we still do gigs in England with me doing this...I sometimes do this Maiden set, which is the first album with "Wrathchild" included. And we go out and we do the whole 50 minute, 1 hour set. So, I still see the Troy brothers because sometimes we do some festivals in England which I can then play the Iron Maiden songs and they can still play the Praying Mantis songs.

CM: After so many years of playing with a couple legendary bands I gotta ask you who some of your musical influences are? And how long have you been playing guitar?

DS: I started playing guitar when I was 16. I started pretty late. In them days is was pretty hard because there was no internet. There was no websites to learn guitar on. You had to sit in your bedroom with a Led Zeppelin album playing"Whole Lotta Love" just trying to find the notes. I've got many influences. A lot of my influences come from America with Steve Lukather from Toto. And the reason he stands out for me is because the different styles he plays. Y'know your Yngwie Malmsteen's, you know, they're brilliant, brilliant guitarists. Fantastic. But they've got one style. Whereas if you listen to guitarist Geoff Whitehorn here in England and Guthrie Govan they can play all different styles. But for me Steve Lukather, Neal Schon, they're the sort of guitarist, the melodic guitarist that can play different styles. And that's a lot of my influences.

                                   Praying Mantis L-R Bruce Bisland, Tino Troy, Dennis Stratton and Chris Troy
CM: You been endorsed by Caparison Guitars for many years now. How did your endorsement come about?

DS: Yeah, I am endorsed by Caparison Guitars. But, that was again in Japan. In 1990 we (Praying Mantis) went over there, as I said. We spent 15 years backwards and forwards in Japan until 2005, which is when when I left the band. It came about because we were asked by Charvel Jackson to use their guitars when we went to Japan. So they gave us a Charvel Jackson guitar each. And we played em. And a guy who worked for Charvel Jackson, his name
Itaru Kanno. And when Charvel split from Jackson, so they went separate ways, Itaru Kanno asked us if we would be interested in staying with him because he was starting this new company called Caparison. And basically we stayed with Itaru and we've been with him ever since. I still play the Caparison guitars. As I said, I went to America in 2004 with the Metal Fest guys. And when I came back I was told by Tino and Chris that the record company in Tokyo, Pony Canyon, had sort of basically closed. So we didn't have a record company. And, y'know, we're sitting around doing nothing. I still have my regular work I still do from Christmas to Christmas in England as I already said. And things start to dry up, so you can't sit around. So, what I did was, I said to Chris and Tino "Look, if we're not doing anything I'm gonna get out there and play with a few different people." So, that's what I've been doing. And that's where all these gigs from Italy have come from and Germany. Y'know I do the Maiden set at different festivals. I go out as a special guest at a lot of these festivals. And it's great. And as I said we're still mates, so there's not a problem. So, yeah that's how we come to get Caparison because Itaru Kanno set the company up.

CM: What equipment do you use now when you play live? Can you give us some info on your current rig?

DS: Well, I still got the old Marshall Valvestates. I've got two of those. The old Stereo Chorus Valvestates. And they're just old amps, but they do the job. So, I've got the old ME5, which is about 40 years old now. But it's the sound that I use and it still gets by. In the pub I may use a little reverb unit just to give me a little more space with the solos. But, yeah, it's mainly the Marshall Valvestate and the ME5.

CM: Is there a website you wanna plug where fans can get up to date news on what you're up to, get show dates and buy some merch?

DS: Well, I have a website as you can see if you put me name in Google. But, to be honest with you I don't really concentrate much on the website because Facebook, for me, Facebook can be a very good friend if you use it the right way. Basically, I have a lot of friends and a lot of contacts through Facebook. So, when people take pictures from like when we came back from Germany over the weekend, there's about 40 photographs on there from fans, which is quite easy because they can put the pictures on themselves. I sometimes leave messages on Facebook. I don't answer messages on Facebook because there's too many and I'm too busy to sit at a computer all day. My fingers don't work that fast. So, I can't sit at a computer all day answering hundreds of questions. So, I have actually said on Facebook "please don't leave messages" but they still do. But as I say, it is an asset because people know where I'm playing, they can post pictures on there, and the fans keep in contact. So, it's an easier way of working. So, Facebook is the one to go with me.

                                                          Dennis with old bandmate Steve Harris
CM: I can't thank you enough for talking with Critical Mass, Dennis. I wanna thank you for all the years of music. It truly changed my life in more ways than one. I also wanna wish you all the best in the future. Thanks again man.

DS: Well, that's very nice of you to say. Perhaps I should say a big hello to Critical Mass! And anytime you want us to come over there, I would love to come over and play. So, good luck to everyone and love to the future. And Chris, thank you very much for this chance to tell my story. Speak soon. Bye bye.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Interview with Rawhide

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, guys. I appreciate it. For anyone new to Rawhide can you give us a little history on the band and how you got started?

Rawhide: Rawhide have been around for about ten years now, it´s been kind of on and off whit a lot of different band members but now we have find exactly the right people on the right places to play the music we always wanted to play!

CM: I have your 7" "Branded For Life" and think it's amazing! Is this the bands first release? Or is there more material out there?

RH: Thank you! We really appreciate that you like "Branded for life". We have released a couple of demos, the first one in 2002 called "A man who loves whiskey and hate kids can´t be all bad"
We released a demo compilation called "Plenty Ain´t Enough" on Dybuck Records in Mexico. And at the same time as "Branded For Life" on Patac Records, we released the 7" " Build To Blow" on Hellrocker Records in Poland.

CM: Who are some of the bands musical influences?

RH: All the band members listening to a lot of different music and different genres but we have one band in common and that is Motörhead!

CM: When it comes to songwriting is it a group effort? Or is there a primary songwriter in the band?

RH: We all have our part in the process of making new songs but Rob is the one who writes most of the lyrics maybe because he also are the singer in the band.

CM: Do you guys tour outside of your hometown at all? And are there any plans for a possible tour in the coming months?

We don´t have any tour planed right now, just some gigs now and then.

CM: Can we expect any new releases from Rawhide in the near future?

RH: At the moment we´re working on our full length record that will be recorded whit Thomas Skogsberg in the famous studio Sunlight Studio in the end of the summer.

CM: I gotta ask you guys, the name Rawhide is just fucking great! How did you guys come up with the name?

RH: Another thing except for Motörhead that we have in common are Clint Eastwood and the name Rawhide is from an old western tv show from 1959-66 whit Clint Eastwood in it. 

CM: Is there a website you guys wanna plug where we can get up to date news on new releases, tour dates and get mercy?

RH: We got our MySpace site www.myspace.com/rawhidedeathpunk but we also have a real website that is under construction and it will be found at www.rawhide.nu

CM: Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass, guys. I dig what you're doing and can't wait to hear more from you. Maybe we can get you guys to Chicago for some shows soon. Thanks again.

RH: If you can arrange for Rawhide to come to Chicago we would love to do so, we can promise you that you want get disappointed! And thanks Critical Mass for the interview and a big thanks for the review on "Branded For Life". Cheers mate!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Music Reviews: The Wild Finish - "Damn Near"

Have you ever put on a brand new CD by a new artist and have the music transport you back in time to when life's simple pleasures where just that, simple? Well if you're a fan of old school alternative with a dose of modern rock thrown into the mix then you're gonna love The Wild Finish! This quartet from Chicago play, what they like to call "adult contemporary punk". I'm not sure if that's quite accurate...but I'll take their word for it.

If you like jangly guitars and great pop sensibilities you gotta pick up the bands latest release "Damn Near". This EP is 5 amazingly catchy tracks of alternative rock blasts that will have you digging out your old Gin Blossoms and Soul Asylum albums. Not that this band is a knock off of those bands...far from it. They just have that kinda have that alt rock feel to em. The albums opener "Kicks" just has that 90's feel to it with it's killer guitar riffs and amazing vocal approach. But at the same time tracks like "Anne Marie" have a modern feel to em but still maintain that old school sound. I'm really digging this record.

 "Eight Hours Long" is a more in your face sounding track. It's a cool song about working 9 to 5, hating your job and wondering why you're there in the first place. We've all been there. No matter how much money we make, we all hate our jobs. And these guys are no exception. The band, Ryan Sias (guitar/vocals), Evan Kalway (guitar), Toby Schmidt (bass) and Russell Ford (drums) have so much to say, and they put it into pop infused rock n roll songs for your listening pleasure. This is a surprisingly great EP by a really talented band. Being only 5 songs I really wanna hear more. But like all great bands who put out great EP's, you'll just have to wait until the next album to blow your mind with it's sonic intensity. And I have no doubt that The Wild Finish WILL blow me away when their full length is released. I just hope it's sooner that later.

4 / 5 stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Concert Review: Steel Panther @ House Of Blues Chicago 4/27/12

"We were voted one of the Top 25 metal bands to come out of California in the month of April" said Steel Panther guitarist Satchel mid way through the bands set at Chicago's House Of Blues on April 27th. The sold out crowd ate it up too. This is the bands second show in Chicago in less than 5 months, and the band didn't let the fans down. They played an energetic, and often times hilarious, set of now classic Steel Panther tunes. The band opened with "Supersonic Sex Machine" and for over an hour it was hit after hit mixed in with some hair primping, crude jokes about fat girls and having sex. But this is what you expect from a mock hair metal band made up of 4 guys in their 40's who wear wigs (well, 3 of the 4 at least), spandex pants and razor blade slashed t-shirts.

The crowd was a pretty heavy mixture of middle aged metal heads, suite and tie guys, late teen college kids, punk rockers and even a few yuppies which made for great joke material. If the band where not already seasoned vets of the road and accomplished musicians in their own right, they could have held their own as a touring comedy act. The band, singer Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, bass player Lexxi Foxx and drummer Stix Zadinia, played great and pulled out all the stops for this set. In between songs like "Tomorrow Night" and "Asian Hooker" Lexxi posed in his gem and sparkled encrusted mirror and Starr and Satchel played off the crowd asking who's seen Steel Panther before and then asking how many fat girls there were in the audience. Classy! But it wasn't all bad jokes and duck facing, they even played their idea of the power balled in the forms of "Community Property" and "If You Really Really Love Me" with the crowd singing along word for word...even if the lyrics are not PC correct.

Even if you're not a fan of heavy metal you'll become a Steel Panther fan and actually believe the lyrics to the song "Death To All But Metal". The band have a knack for taking cheese and turning it into gold! Spandex and Aqua Net drenched gold! Check out the bands latest album Balls Out and after the initial shock wears off you'll be singing along with every song and pretending to be in a 80's Warrant video. Sure, it's schlock and kinda tacky at times. But it's all about FUN! And like I've said before, if you can't have fun then you're no fun! Chicago has mad love for Steel Panther, and they have lots of love for our city as well! Hell, Michael Starr is a Chicago native after all. When the Panther hits YOUR town I highly suggest checking em out. It's a show you really have to see to believe.