New Music Alert: Rush’s Clockwork Angels Due May 22!!

To say that I’ve been looking forward to this CD for years is really kind of pointless. Anyone who is familiar with Rush has had their hopes up for this release since about June 2010. The “teasers,” as it were–“Caravan” and “BU2B” (short-hand for “Brought Up To Believe) were released, and the world felt right. It felt whole. It felt lighter.

Then the wait began. Little did we know that it would be almost 2 years until the new CD would come out.

But we have an official release date! May 22, Clockwork Angels will be released world-wide. That means at midnight, I will be on iTunes, waiting for the CD to “hit.” That also means that I will be going on Amazon later today as soon as they have a pre-order page for Clockwork Angels!!!

I have been following them since I first heard Presto back in 1989. Not gonna lie … it wasn’t my favorite CD at the time. I was in to Metallica, Van Halen, and other bands over them. I wish I could go back in time and tell that kid to appreciate them for what they were then and are now–talent beyond comparability. I even remember Rick Burton lauding the praises of Hold Your Fire and talking of how Neils completely electronic drum set was “revolutionary.” I remember where I was sitting on the bus, where Rick was sitting, and even what he was wearing (which isn’t hard … he *always* wore a gray hoodie over whatever other t-shirt he may or may not have been wearing).

Rush got me through my college years. Rush has been a part of my marriage. Up until 2010, I was severely afraid that I’d never get to attend a Rush concert with my wife. She came on board the Rush train with Vapor Trails, quickly latching on to “Earthshine” as her favorite track.

I think of the sheer joy their music brings me. I think of the incredible quality of their music. The camaradarie the 3 of them share as band mates for almost 40 years. I think of the chance I have to share their music with my kids … and it leaves me breathless, misty-eyed.

I can wait 2+ more months. I may not like waiting, but I have 18 other studio CDs, 9 official concert CDs, and countless bootlegs to keep me company.



Azam Ali’s New CD Comes Out Tomorrow!

Azam Ali’s new CD comes out TOMORROW. I’m extremely stoked about this. I have all her solo material, her work with Vas and Niyaz, Roseland … there isn’t anything she does that’s not incredible. I pre-ordered the new CD on Amazon this morning, but I highly doubt they’ll get it to me by tomorrow.

I wish I had checked her site last week. I knew her CD was coming out either in April or May, but I didn’t know it was tomorrow, ya know? So now I have something else to look forward to this week other than playoff hockey (Go Sabres!).

Review: The Family Crest – The Village

I’m really starting to realize the advantage of moving to San Francisco. The music scene there is exponentially more in motion than that of Salt Lake. We do have some good local artists, but I’m really starting to dig what I’m hearing out of the Bay Area.

Recently, I discussed the luscious sounds of Pomplamoose. Right up there in quality and amazement is The Family Crest–a 7-piece group that borders on classical folk rock. Employing the use of such instruments as the viola, violin, cello and flute, this band is poised to take college radio stations by storm. In NO way is that meant as a slight to their potential; indeed, if anything, it speaks volumes about the state of popular (read: canned, utterly un-original drivel that any typical top 40 or “alternative” station will spit out with their Musak-style “DJ”ing) radio music today. It would be one of my greatest musical joys to see these guys meteorically rise to the top of every applicable Billboard chart. Alas … these guys are so good and so original that I’m afraid that it simply won’t happen. Don’t ask me to tirade about the quality of the cookie-cutter tunes that stale the airwaves on any given day; to do so would be wasteful and futile.

Having said all that, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the 7 core members.

  • Liam McCormick handles vocals and guitar.
  • John Seeterlin plucks the bass.
  • Jacob Steuer beats the drums and other percussiveness.
  • Laura Bergmann graces us with her flautist skills, voice, and the occasional percussion.
  • Lucas Chen gently plays the cello.
  • Sarah Dabby plays the viola and provides the operatic vocals.
  • Owen Sutter  rounds out the core with his skills on the violin.

Again, these 7 constitute the core of The Family Crest. From here, the band further diversifies its sound by bringing in “extended family members.” This list is extensive, and it is lovely. Angelic choirs, various brass instruments, more string … they enjoy experimenting with different instruments and sounds. On a few of their songs, I heard either a cornet or a trumpet … not sure which. I hear a timpani on another track. A multitude of different instruments pervade each and every track on this CD, and they’re all beautiful and incredible.

So what are some of the stand-out tracks?

This is one review where I’m not going to isolate individual tracks because that implies that I prefer those over the other ones on the CD. While the vast majority of my reviews do precisely that–review three or four songs–this CD is so incredible that no one track is more worthy than another. Seriously … it’s that good. Instead, here are my thoughts on their music.

Every song is simply epic. I don’t mean that in the modern colloquialism that something is “insanely cool.” I mean it in the sense that every song is so deeply layered that there is simply no other way TO put it. I know that “epic” traditionally deals in length. To some degree, the epic scale applies here, but not across the horizontal plane. In this instance, the epic nature of these songs is due to their sheer layering and number of instruments played. There is a timeless feel to these songs that transcends decades and genres. You hear these, and there is simply no way to pin a time period on them. This isn’t like 80s synth pop or hair metal, or 90s grunge sound, or even 70s disco or classic rock. With those sounds, you can easily identify within at least a couple of years of when the song was released. No–with these tracks crafted and polished by The Family crest, you simply hear music that could have been plucked from a bygone time, or they could have been written 20 years from now. They’re limitless in their ability to spellbind your mind and captivate your attention. I’ve listened to this CD 5 times today already, and every time I hear something new on each and every song! That has never happened with any other CD I’ve ever owned.

If you live in the San Francisco area–or anywhere within 150 miles, or if you have the itch to take a road trip, make SF your destination and catch a Family Crest show. Let’s get them some attention so they can hopefully come to a town near you!

To my SF connection, I am forever in your debt for pointing out these guys and Pomplamoose. Thank you!

More Upcoming Music for 2011

I was really just looking for music coming out this week. Instead, I got a pretty large list of things coming out for this year. Check out this link. Isn’t that sweet?! It may or may not be comprehensive. I’m betting it’s not, but it’s a healthy-sized list regardless.

Of interest to me are:

  • Motorhead (actually came out yesterday)
  • Bright Eyes
  • The Dears
  • Mogwai
  • Sonic Youth
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • R.E.M.
  • Green day
  • Soundgarden (*really* stoked for this one!)
  • Mountain Goats
  • The Kills
  • Vivian Girls
  • Lady Gaga*

I’m sure I’ll become excited for more of those bands as I start researching them and seeing what they have to offer, but for now, my list from now until the end of April is looking pretty healthy. Not to mention the unscheduled-yet-semi-confirmed list!

Two interesting CDs from the no-date-confirmed list are from The Cars and Human Leauge. I thought that Human League had all but fallen off the face of the earth. Not too far from it … they’ve only released 3 CDs since 1986’s Crash gave us the hit “Human.” The Cars, on the other hand … they haven’t released a studio CD since 1987, if I remember right. The notable absence on this new release will be Benjamin Orr, who passed away in 2000 from cancer. I’m curious to hear how this new CD sounds without him.

Anyway, happy perusing. I hope your favorite band is on the list!

*yes, crystal … that was my little joke to you. 😉

Review: Malatese EP

Well, today was rather interesting. As you’ll recall, I recently reviewed the Gypsy Death and You EP. WHO, by the way, made it on the newest NWShoegazing compilation! Congratulations to Alex and Emily! Excellent cover, excellent band. Again, if you haven’t checked them out, do it! They’re on muxtape.

Malatese is Jon Reed (drums), Graham Brouder (bass, vocals), Travis Legg (vocals), and George Dodson (guitar). They’re from Harrisonburg, Virginia.

So apparently Gypsy Death and You are friends with the guys from Malatese. I’m assuming they read my review of the GDaY EP because they very kindly sent me a link to their music to check out. Here are my thoughts.

My wife is with me, listening to their stuff as well. Her first reaction to “Time Mask,” the first song on the EP, was that they have a somewhat similar sound to really early U2 from about 34 seconds in. I mean, we’re talking Boy-era U2–not The Joshua Tree type material. So, you know … that’s a pretty good thing. I think it is, anyway. She also compared their sound to Weezer. I didn’t get that from their sound, but to each their own, right? I think they have a much more aggressive sound than either of those two band. Not violently aggressive … just aggressive. As in, “Hey guitar … I’m gonna pwn you. Just get used to it.” Or “You are *my* drum kit. You *will* obey me!” You know … stuff like that.

The first thing that strikes me is how well balanced the mixing is, even though it’s obvious this wasn’t recorded in a professional studio. Despite that, the drums sound as raw as if you were sitting right in front of them; the bass comes through with a very prominent distinction. I’m pretty sure I’m hearing two guitars here. Now … I don’t know if this is on purpose or not, but one of them sounds a hair out of tune. If that was on accident, whoops. If it was on purpose, congratulations–you’ve stumbled on some kind of sonic dissonance that doesn’t suck–in fact, it’s actually pretty damn cool. Edit: Uneless I’m mis-reading their email, there is but one guitar. Guess I need to break out the headphones instead of listening on iTunes.

“Heaven Would Melt” has me scratching my head. During the chorus, there’s some kind of squawking falsetto screaming that I can’t quite … get. It just doesn’t seem to fit the song. Now … to be fair, in the interest of full disclosure, with the kind of muted vocals and over-emphasized distorted guitars, it’s a bit hard to make out all the lyrics, so the squawk shrieking might very well be completely relevant. However, I have no idea.

Remember The Misfits? Ever heard of Samhain? Yah … there’s a very Glenn-Danzig-meets-Jim-Morrison kind of quality to the singer’s voice and style. For the music, it totally fits. I’m liking it.

One thing the band told me when they wrote and said, “Let us know of any comments you have, for we did everything ourselves and won’t turn down any kind of feedback.” I have one suggestion: find a way to get some funding for a professional studio because I would *love* to hear what you guys can do with some better recording equipment. I mean that with all the respect I have for what you’ve accomplished so far. Your sound is raw and raging, and I like that. I really do. But you owe it to yourselves to see what would happen in a professional studio. Hey … ya never know what you can pull off!

So I’m filing this one under “bands to watch.” I don’t know if they’ll ever score a radio hit with their sound, but ya know what? These days, that’s probably a *very* good thing. 🙂 Actually, let me amend that: I can see them becoming a college radio circuit phenomenon. That would be very, very cool cuz most college radio stations don’t play crap, so if they hit that stream, good things will happen.

Online Malatese hang-outs:

Her are some music vids they sent along as well.

Thanks for the music, gentlemen!

Upcoming Releases for Fantastic Music

This morning, as I was heading in to work, Alela Diane’s “White as Diamonds” shuffled through my phone. Having not listened to To Be Still in a while, I “unshuffled” my playlist and started from “Dry Grass and Shadows.”

There are few voices as distinct as hers. There are also few voices that can evoke such emotion–such raw, visceral feeling. She pours her soul into her music. Not that most artists don’t, but hers … sweet cabbage and mutton, how does she do it?

I started wondering if she has anything coming down the pike. In the “HUZZAH!!” category, we have this bit of news straight off her website: new CD coming out in the spring. No specific date, but her site is in a state of overhaul, I guess … at least that’s the illusion on the front page, so maybe more news will be forthcoming with the new site.

So THAT got me wondering who else has new stuff coming in the near future. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of potential releases in the next few months.

  • Alela Diane – Spring release.
  • Sarah Fimm – A new release is immenently close at hand. She’s taunting us with talk of a new song on her Facebook page.
  • Azam Ali – From Night to the Edge of Day, March or April.
  • The Dears Degeneration Street, Februray 15 (though this might just be a Canadian-only release date … not sure)
  • Dredg – early 2011 (nothing on their site other than a post from August targeting an “early 2011” release)
  • Eisley The Valley, March 1

Brief interruption … looks like the good folks from Gypsy Death and You are hooking me up with some tune-age. Again, I refer you to NewBandDay‘s post about them for “Crocus” and “Something I Can’t Have.”

And now, back to the list. On with the show, as they say, blah blah blah.

  • Samantha Crain – coming at some point hopefully in 2011, but it looks like she has a lot of projects that are keeping her well booked, so we’ll hope. She’s writing new stuff, so that’s good!
  • Well, crap. I wanted to post that Rush will be releasing their new CD this year, but it looks like they’ll resume recording in the late summer or early fall for Clockwork Angels, which will probably be released in early 2012. Well *that* sucks.
  • Howling Bells – early to mid year (?). Looks like they’re done with the recording and they’re well into the mixing stage, if not past it. Of interesting note is the fact that Mark Stroemer, of The Killers fame, is producing the CD. Hmm.
  • Marissa Nadler – Her site has a donation page set up, and the funding has been met as of December 9th. Not sure if she’s in the studio or not, but you can follow her blog here.

Honestly, I’m sure there are a ton more, and I’ll do some more research later, but for now, that’s enough to whet just about any musical appetite. Stay tuned …

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