Thursday, November 27, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Review of 2 Albums -
Songs in the Key of Blue
Reviews by Joseph Timmons: Xombiewoof Magazine
From the start, the music of Matt Pless reminded me of another soft-spoken radical that would, without intention wind up changing the world and the way people think, yet unlike Dylan, Matt Pless would come from a more angst ridden generation, with an ideology that is intertwined with an abundant humor and is uniquely his own. From his bio, Matt is “a musician who can't read music, an artist who can't stand most aspects of the pretentious art community, and a writer who usually has fairly poor grammatical skills” yet his articulation in verse is admirable if not savant.
Combining elements of folk, punk, pop and roots rock, Matt has created in his youth a discography that already rivals most “professionals” with thought-provoking witty lyrics, his music spans topics from love and loss to social commentary, from drug abuse to friendship. Performing in coffee shops, clubs, basements, living rooms and wherever there are people who want to hear his music, Matt Pless and his guitar are at the ready. He books his own tour dates and along the way has managed to share the stage with Maroon 5, Fallout Boy, Ani Difranco, David Amram, Rilo Kiley, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ghost Mice, Ramshackle Glory, The Queers, Warren Haynes, Ryan Harvey, Bad Brains, and others. A consummate performer with a high energy stage presence, Matt’s universally relatable songs will leave you talking, thinking and dancing in your mind’s dance hall.
When Matt set out for NYC for the first time, he spent his first night playing in the subway for tips. He continued to play for change and added Washington Square Park to his busking list. As a result of his street singing, he was approached for inclusion in “The Noise beneath the Apple”, a book documenting buskers and street performers in New York City. His song, “New York Monday” is featured on the book’s accompanying vinyl compilation. Eventually, his talent led him to play many of the top songwriter venues in the Big Apple, including The Sidewalk Café, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Café Vivaldi and The City Winery.
Matt continued to tour relentlessly, supporting Irish folk duo “Heathers”, traveling to Indiana to play at a popular underground punk gathering called “Plan it X Fest”, and spending the bulk of the spring and summer of 2011 broadening his fan base in as many states as he could. Early that fall he ventured to Zuccotti Park in NYC during the Occupy Wall Street protests to play some music there and ended up becoming the impetus behind a benefit compilation cd called Occupy This Album. He contributed his original composition “Something’s Got to Give” to the cd which also included tracks performed by artists like Joan Baez, Crosby and Nash, Debbie Harry, Tom Morello, Thievery Corporation, the Guthrie Family, Yoko Ono, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith and Willie Nelson, among others. Matt also created the cover art for the album, recognition of his lifelong talent for drawing and the visual arts. In the months that followed, he appeared in national music publications such as Rolling Stone, Grammy.com, Relix magazine, as well as The Huffington Post, interviews in Forbes magazine and an appearance on the Tom Hartman show.
In late February of 2013, Matt released his first 7 inch record on the newly formed Fake Art Records label. This vinyl, soon to be collector’s item (only 300 copies were pressed) included the songs "Dirty Needles' and "Of Love and Loss". Around the same time, a Canadian indie label called “You Look Like Shit” Records released a cassette tape collection of acoustic tracks entitled "Tumbleweed" which we will review, It included alternate versions of some older songs, as well as many new compositions, such as the anthemic crowd favorite "Ashtray" and a melodically dreamy tune called "the Book of You and I". To coincide with these to releases, Matt set out on a 3 month tour of the US that March.
Matt has performed at major festivals such as The Hot August Blues Fest, Clearwater Folk Festival, and Great South Bay Music festival in Long Island New York. He was also chosen as one of 25 New York musicians to be a member of the much sought after slots in MUNY (Music Under New York) subway performance program. He is also one of the featured songwriters in an upcoming independent film about Greenwich Village folk music from the ‘60s through today called “Bleeker and Macdougal”.
Tumbleweed, an all-acoustic tribute to the feeling of limbo, as the cover implies, one is a puppet to another. The songs, with a strong sense of mirth, also have some darker signs that would imply a feeling of loss yet to be, but a hope for a brighter tomorrow anyway. Not a negative or depressing flow of complaints, but a whimsical and upbeat story in 12 parts. Seemingly as if to take a shallow breath between songs, the album is composed perfectly and in perfect order. Each song leading into the next and on to the end a single story that travels many lifetimes in a single voice. Matt Pless is of the new guard, a generation of bards with no loyalties to tradition, yet keep the faith with the virtue of a saint. Whereas Tumbleweed is available at his Bandcamp page for as little as zip, give this man at least a $20, very much worth every penny and if this is the beginning, one can only imagine what he will create tomorrow.
Songs in the Key of Blue is amazing, where Tumbleweed was guitar only acoustic daydreams in verse, Songs in the Key of Blue is a sign of what Matt is capable of with a full entourage backing him up, with the accompaniment of a full band, his words hold an amazing power, bursting with thought provoking message and anger at the direction we are heading, the most powerful of these 60’s fueled rockets of truth is Breadline, every word rings true and the song is remarkably timeless. In fact all of the songs, The Devil May Care, I Hope You’re Happy Now and Barren Grove could be hits in each of their own right, but all 4 together on Songs in the Key of Blue is a grand combination and were meant to be heard.
Songs in the Key of Blue is available on Vinyl on OGC Records and on his Bandcamp Page, you can find all of his Releases, 12 in all, serious fun and serious music from Matt Pless. Follow Matt Pless on Facebook and visit his website http://www.mattpless.com
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Support New Music and Independent Artists – PAY FOR YOUR DOWNLOADS – It’s not free to make and it’s the right thing to do!
Saturday, November 22, 2014
The evolving sound for Cloudkicker can be heard on Soundcloud - http://www.soundcloud.com/bmsharp.
Cloudkicker and Intronaut Tour dates; http://www.intronautofficial.com
By Mike Ritchie
There was an addictively contagious energy in Oddbody’s on Saturday November 8th. Maybe it was due to the night being the top off, after party to three days of multi diverse and cultural information given by respected academic scholars at the University of Dayton on the global impact and culture of metal music and its growing community of supporters.
Maybe it was because each of the three bands that performed on stage were handpicked from a group of over a dozen hopefuls from around the state to play for a crowd of appreciative metalheads and also….because one of the distinguished conference guests of the day was in attendance to watch them throw down.
The three full days of lectures and presentations were a true international experience for the 85+ in attendance. With 32 of the 36 presenters being from esteemed collegiate institutions bringing their knowledge and expertise to the eyes and ears of over 50 undergraduate/graduate students and a few select pillars of the local community.
Seven countries were represented including the US, England, Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Puerto Rico with Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Utah, Missouri, Texas, California, Florida and Illinois also represented.
Over the course of the conference over 40 attendees averaged each presentation so all information brought and taught was welcomed, wanted and assimilated by ‘suit and tie guys’ and ‘long haired metal heads’ possibly at the same table. Mr. Skolnick averaged the biggest audience with over 50. The film March of the Gods on opening night drew 32 attendees and the art exhibit "Mask: Face Paint, Head Coverings, and Masks in Popular Culture" drew approximately 35 for the formal showing plus more during the week.
Conference topics included: "Queer Metal Matters: Metal, Sexuality, and the Future", Metal and Religion, Community and Metal, Extreme Metal and the Aesthetics of Community, Metal Under Totalitarianism, Metal and Culture, Cultural Legitimation of Metal, Metal and Education, Metal to the Extreme, Women and Metal, Metal as Performance, "Louder Education-Alex Skolnick," Defining Metal, and "Heavy Metal: A Business, A Lifestyle, Past, Present, Future"
It’s not every day an Ohio band gets to play a show with a man who’s traveled and performed on the world’s stages with the roaring bellow of Chuck Billy and Bay Area thrash legends Testament. A man many on stage with a guitar idolized and many within the crowd grew up head banging and moshing to his music. On the evening of Saturday November 8th, Alex Skolnick was at Oddbody’s.
The event helped raise money for Project Read of Dayton and the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. Each band played with sincere strength, passion, energy and vigor representing their scene and the Ohio scene as a whole. As the night progressed the musicians performed as if standing in front of a packed, screaming arena.
Cleveland’s Lick the Blade brought the second coming of Iron Maiden from the north with the soaring, searing Ted Anderson hitting Manowar pitch notes with a power metal groove. Dayton reps Engine of Chaos brought the middle ground dividing the night with a slower, smoother bluesy groove mixed in its Dio meets Cornel Seattle sound and finished with the always intense mammoth thrash attack of Forces of Nature.
An arena sized passion was present and played from the beginning with a collective unity showing visitors from other cities, states and countries what Dayton can deliver.
Cleveland’s Lick the Blade brought the modern day classic sound of Iron Maiden mixed with power metal sounds and the endlessly high octaves of vocalist Ted Anderson who ranged from Dickinson, to Halford to Tate peaks. Formed in 2004, they decimated locally, going through a few member changes before acquiring Anderson and songwriter/guitarist Brian French. Signing with Cleveland based metal label Auburn Records in 2006 they released their debut Graveyard of Empires in 2009. From growing popularity overseas they were invited to perform at the sold-out Headbanger’s Open Air Festival in Brande-Hörnerkirchen, Germany. “Royal Blood,” from Graveyard, earned spots on compilation CDs from both Germany’s Heavy and Poland’s Hard Rocker magazines and Lick The Blade was voted “Best Metal Band of 2009″ in Cleveland Scene magazine’s 2010 issue of its annual “Cleveland Music Awards” feature. They’ve opened for Loudness, Exodus, Vader, and 3 Inches of Blood and more currently with a certain amount of musical irony, former Iron Maiden vocalists Paul Di’Anno and Blaze Bayley. Their second album The Sun and Time is out now.
The “Mark of Nero” opened with galloping guitars as Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens aka Anderson owned on old school early Dickinson era maiden. There was history in them riffs on “Guns, Germs and Steel” as they went back to the Di’Anno club days when Eddie was just a face on a sign. They headed back to the inspiration of Ra and the Powerslave era on “Blood-Soaked Majesty.” The chalice runneth over with glorious crimson on the celebration table. “Voyage of the Damned” could be their “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as the ship traveled through the sea of madness through murky fog, where spirits of dead pirates waited to steer their vessel a foul.
A majestic opening with Anderson singing a soft wail of woe of land not seen till forever’s end. “Twilight of the Idols”, it’s metaphysical with twilight in the sky of the ancient and eternal idols. The hooded Charon the Ferryman made an appearance, pointing his oar to all souls looking for transportation after adding to his pouch of coins. “Charon’s Obol” gave protection to the soul with safe passage to the next world. Album title track “The Sun and Time” was next followed by “Thanatos” bringing the death of us all riding the battle plight of “The Trooper.”
Engine of Chaos came out ready to deliver the midsection of the night’s metal from Ohio selection with a set heavy with jam, groove and blues. Sirens went off as guitar reverb filled the speakers and bass thundered in. The first crunch of the almighty riff hit with the thunderous melodic yell of Scott Toops. Title track from Uncover the Bones brought forth some dirty buried secrets straight from the depths of Nola, LA. They went down with conformity playing the warriors call, marching with stained feet from “Blood on the Shore.” The guitars got slow, moody and melodic with their own super-“Unknown.”
The silence of the swamp was mucked up and smashed by the “Tug River” as watery guitar notes slithered down the river like hissing snakes venom. The bouncy thrash infused blues of “The One” was fused and followed by the dark tale of the “Deceiver.” Some bitches were born to deceive.
They got a lil’ Sabbathy on the “Change” then the premiere of the new/unreleased “Dream the Past.” Dude Mounts guitar chugged and marched with searing notes, telling them God-Damned “Lies.” “7 Demons” finished up the set with special guest vocalist Joseph Palmer.
Then a special encore happened with the world renowned guest guitarist. “This song needs no introduction. If you’re a metalhead you’ll know this.” Toops proudly proclaimed. “Are you guy’s metalheads out there? Are you mother------‘s metalheads out there?” The opening notes of one of the greatest metal anthems began. “I wanna hear ya Dayton Ohio, get the f- up off your chairs (in the back) and get up here!” Tonight Dayton gathered in their masses, to see Alex Skolnick on stage, shredding Sabbath, kicking our asses.
Forces of Nature came forth and played with the power and passion of the gods and goddess’s. Marc Godsey took the mic speaking with genuine, heartfelt emotion about how incredible the last few days had been, the knowledge gained at the conference and the feeling of true love, unity and dedication displayed by the local scene. Not to mention meeting one of your guitar idols and being on stage with him. He stamped the statement with “and I CAN’T WAIT to play this set.”
The opening iron welding riff and yelling notes of “Magnus Lee” shot out of Jimmy Rose and Marc Godsey’s guitars laying inflamed ground work for Tate Moore’s screeching serpent’s tongued dark demonic delivery. It was a sharp, hard punch to the face with a warm hello, saying we’re here, now f-----g pay attention! It started raining blood in the “Forest of Corpses” from a lacerated sky. Drums hit guitars grinded and riffed upward in a tale of tortured self-hate. Mary’s one messed up bitch, in a moshed up f’n mess.
“Throwing Fists” in a cage or a concert, you’ll get hit back either way… and the cage is safer. Drums tapped ushering in the ram-rodder guitars smashing TV’s with wrecking balls, sledgehammers and other hardcore fist shaking plunder. It’s the only way to get that crap off “A.S.O.T.” “Nevermore” slows it down ‘a bit’, enough for a short pit-break before your personal “Apocalypse” comes on reentry. Get ready you stupid, stupid, stupid son of a bitch! Rose shined on the six minute instrumental opus “Dark Carnival” bringing the addictive emotional darkness and thrash poetry from his fingers. Something wicked as shit, this way came. The heavy pair of double D’s was shown in public again with “Deception” and “Devices.”
After the show Rose got his guitar neck signed by Skolnick and enjoyed a few surreal, inspirational moments with the guitar legend as did other members of Forces and other audience members throughout the evening.
Read more from the pit articles and reviews by Mike Ritchie on his web site www.coveringthescene.com
More about the amazing and multi-Talented Alex Skolnick at http://www.alexskolnick.com
Images by Mike Ritchie