I Just Don’t Get The Bosnian Rainbows

Bosnian Rainbows - Um, yeah.

Bosnian Rainbows – Um, yeah.

 The other night I was listening to an old playlist I’d made a while ago, and amongst other music The Mars Volta track Ouroboros’ burst into my eardrums like an explosion. It was a bit late and I was a bit high and it happens to be one of my favourite TMV tracks, but fuck me, right there and then it blew me out of my chair! You see, I’ve been a little bit in mourning since they broke up. I was gutted when I heard the news, if not too surprised, and since writing about it in these pages I’ve not really listened to them very much at all. Instead I’ve been listening to other stuff, the new QOTSA, the new NIN, lots of Puscifer and all kinds of other stuff. Anything but TMV, because like a break up with a long term girlfriend, the pain was all too fresh. I needed to get over it, time to accept the reality. Yeah I know that all sounds a bit melodramatic and I do say it with tongue half pressed in cheek, but they were my all time favourite band and I was pretty choked. I like a lot of music, I like a lot of styles of music, but if there was one band that encapsulated everything I like about music in one place, it was The Mars Volta. Hearing that track at that moment, reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with the band in the first place, the brutal power, the sublime majesty, driving bass lines that dripped with soul and funk and feel, frenetic drum lines that seemed to defy reason all interwoven with insane guitar licks that made no sense but made perfect sense. Hearing that track out of the blue just served to stir up all the regret and frustration I felt from the fact that my favourite band were no more. So much in fact that I nearly tweeted! I didn’t cos it’s pointless but anyway, I was gutted all over again that they’d broken up.

And what for? For Bosnian Rainbows. What a pity. I am a huge Omar Rodriguez fan. I pretty much own everything he’s ever put out. For me the guy is some kind of musical genius, like a modern day Frank Zappa in terms of work ethic and creativity. The man is prolific. You get the feeling just as you did with the legendary Frank that music is as much Omar’s life as is breathing, eating and the need to dump. And so it really pains me to say that as far as Bosnian Rainbows is concerned, I just don’t get it. I really wanna like them. I try really hard to like them. But it just ain’t happening. And I think I know the problem, in fact I know I know the problem – it’s the singer Teri Gender Bender. Personally, I think she sucks. I mean, she proper stinks! Her lyrics (If she writes them herself) are woeful. Her delivery is amateurish at best. Melody lines? Forget it. People talk about her incredible stage presence almost in a way that seems like they are trying to deflect from her shortcomings in all other areas, but to me her stage presence seems like she is acting weird for the sake of acting weird. I just don’t get it. I saw a clip on YouTube the other day, I forget the song (it was very forgettable) but there she was wailing away in the foreground like a really bad Debbie Harry, stomping around like she had a bad dose of piles, while Omar was flailing around in the background seemingly out of all proportion to what was actually being played, almost as if he was trying to convince himself that he was ‘into’ the sound they were making. Now I am sure that he was, but that’s just how it came across to me, insincere. Of course I understand the need for musicians to change and evolve, it’s natural. I accept that the time of The Mars Volta has probably/possibly passed. Their last album was my least favourite although it still towers above BR’s record in every way possible. And I understand that there are probably a few people who like the direction Omar has taken with his new band, that’s fair enough – I will never knock anybody for liking any particular music. I guess my problem is that I am still disappointed that the problems Cedric and Omar had with each other couldn’t be resolved and that Omar’s new project, for me, doesn’t come close to the quality of anything he has done before. As a long time fan, I am disappointed but I guess shit happens?

What about Cedric? Well he’s working on his new project called ZavalaZ, which I think is due to be released early next year, and actually if there is one good thing that’s come from the TMV break-up it’s seeing Cedric emerge from of the shadow of Omar to grow as a fully fledged songwriter himself. There are some cuts on YouTube of his new band which sound nothing like anything he’s been associated with before but on first listen, sound to me to be pretty good. You can judge for yourself below. In the meantime Omar always says that he never closes the door on anything he’s done in the past, he simply opens new ones. So there is the chance that The Mars Volta could come back bigger and better and stronger than ever before. I really hope they do. Because when you hear the beauty of tracks like ‘Empty Vessels…’ and the raw power and energy of tracks like ‘Molochwalker’ from their last record, it seems pretty clear to me that as a band, as a partnership, as a joint creative force, if they can just sort out their shit they still have a whole lot more to offer. I can but hope!

Bosnian Rainbows – Worthless

ZavalaZ – Lacewing

The Mars Volta – Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound

The Mars Volta – Ouroboros

Permanent link to this article: http://bloodsweatmusic.com/i-just-dont-get-the-bosnian-rainbows/

Queensrÿche – ‘Queensrÿche’

Queensrÿche - Don't Look Back!

Queensrÿche – Don’t Look Back!

A little while ago I wrote about the lamentable goings on within and around the Queensrÿche camp. You can read about the ins and outs of one of the biggest bust-ups in modern music history back in these pages, but with the dust settling a little bit, all parties move on under the moniker of ‘Queensryche in a bid to lay a permanent claim to the Queensryche name. Tate laid the first blow, although it was more of a tickle really, with his album ‘Frequency Unknown’ being released to a pretty tepid response. The big ‘F.U.’ on the cover indicating that he’s possibly still feeling a bit indignant about the whole situation. Shame. And now the other Queensrÿche, and in my opinion the more legitimate Rÿche with three founding members of the band, have released their self titled effort with new vocalist Todd La Torre and longstanding guitarist Parker Lundgren.

So what is it like? Well, it’s good! The first thing that strikes you is La Torre’s voice. I don’t know what the brief was, but he sounds a lot like a young Tate. Time will tell whether he can do it live but on record he nails it. I mean really nails it. You will not miss Tate when you hear this guy, he hits notes Tate gave up trying to hit twenty years ago. Love him or hate him now, Tate’s voice was a big part of this band’s sound so it was vital for them to find the right replacement if they were to have any chance of keeping their core support. First box ticked then.

Now the music. Straight off the mark it sounds like a Rÿche record, with Scott Rock opening things up with some pounding drums as a guitar cries in the distance à la Mindcrime or Rage.. nice! The album then gets under way with the first real track, ‘Where Dreams go to Die’. An awesome track that builds to trademark dueling harmonic guitars in the solo. Oh yes! I remember this band! Next track Spore keeps up the pace, maintaining the momentum, nice riff, great solo where EdBass and Scott Rock deliver the menace while the guitars deliver the beauty. Okay, I am excited now! The next track kinda chills things out a bit, ‘In This Light’ starting off quite slow but then growing into something quite heavy and majestic. Reminds me of something from Mindcrime 2. Then BAM, ‘Redemption’ and ‘Vindication’ crank things back up again, the second of the two bursting from the speakers like a juggernaut with swirling guitars and frenzied drums – old school Rÿche at its very best! Time for a breather, and we get it with ‘Midnight Lullaby’ that sounds just like you might imagine from the title, a spooky little segue into ‘A World Without’, another classically sounding Rÿche ballad that could have come from any of the Rage/Mindcrime/Empire writing sessions. By now you are realizing that this is a very good album. The best track of the album comes next, ‘Don’t Look Back’, sounding something similar to ‘The Needle Lies’ maybe? Whatever, it kicks arse! This is as heavy as they have been in twenty years, and what a joy to behold. Did I say the last track was my favourite? I might’ve lied, cos ‘Fallout’ is another cracker. Fast, heavy, QR to the very core. Then before you know it you are at the last track, ‘Open Road’. They know how to end an album, classic QR closer that has you reaching out to hit the play button allover again. It’s a short album, barely 35 minutes, and that’s maybe why on the UK version at least they have added a couple of live cuts, ‘Queen Of The Reich’ and ‘En Force’ closing things out with La Torre doing an awesome job on both. Geoff who anybody?

You have to remember when listening to both of these new Rÿche albums that they were created under very difficult circumstances, and I think it’s fair to say that the second of the two with the more legitimate Rÿche line-up is by far the better record. The Tate record sounds like a Tate record and should have been labelled that way. He’d led Queensrÿche down the road to obscurity over the last twenty years, and it’s maybe quite surprising that it took them so long to get rid of him? With La Torre involved the band sound refreshed, invigorated, they sound like they are enjoying being in Queensrÿche again, and as a fan it’s so great to hear. I cannot wait to see what they come up with for their next record, when they are given the opportunity to create a record in their own time, in their own space where everybody has an equal say and Todd can have his own input – without the outside pressures of having to prove a point or justify themselves. I am excited to be a Rÿche fan again, my favourite band are back and they are back with a serious bang!

 
Hitler thinks Tate sucks too!

Permanent link to this article: http://bloodsweatmusic.com/queensryche-queensryche/

Motorpsycho – 20 years in hiding!

Psyched about 'Psycho

Long hair and beards rock!

We all like the bands that we like for the reasons we like them, and unless the bands that we like are liked by everybody else too, we often wonder why they are not? Still with me? I mean if WE think they are the best thing since sliced bread, then why doesn’t everybody else? Ok, well obviously in most cases that mindset is a bit silly. We all like different stuff, and not every band can be the next Zeppelin or Floyd or even the RHCP and appeal to the masses. And also, compared to 40 years ago when the likes of Zeppelin were strutting their stuff, the amount of choice we have as consumers has probably increased one hundred fold, maybe more? Sure, easier accessibility benefits the artist too, but it’s a double edged sword because competition to get seen and heard is fierce, probably more fierce than it ever was, and as such the ability to become the next huge thing becomes diluted. There are kids with guitars sitting in their bedrooms uploading their ‘art’ to social media sites in their thousands, 99% of which is a right load of crap, and that crap needs to be waded through to find the good stuff. Add to that the huge bias that the record companies seem to have in favour of signing artists from the States and to a large extent, the UK, all of which makes it difficult for talent from anywhere else to really make a big impression on the world scene. This in my opinion is a big shame.

I think it’s high time we all started to look in different directions for our music. To places like mainland Europe and Australia. Places maybe overlooked before. Places where rich seams of talent are coming to the fore, slowly penetrating our blissful ignorance and our attitude that anything that isn’t from the UK or USA could be worthy of our attention. Artists like Tame Impala and Gotye just to mention a couple, are making us realise that if we just broaden our horizons, there is bounty to be found on unfamiliar shores.

Motorpsycho are a band from Norway, and not a new band at that. They’ve been around for more than twenty years peddling their wholly unique brand of progressive/psychedelic/crazy-arse rock. I only recently discovered them myself on iTunes when searching for something else, I forget what exactly. And despite the euphoria of instantly knowing I’d discovered something a bit special, I was a little frustrated that I hadn’t come across them before. I am an avid music fan, I write a blog that nobody sees simply because I love music. It’s my passion. I am constantly looking for new stuff to enjoy, to share, and believe me, I look everywhere! So when I heard how good this band is, I was somewhat dumbfounded as to how they had escaped me for the last twenty years because if there was ever a band that deserved global recognition, or atleast recognition in their field, Motorpsycho is it.

They are essentially a two piece, with Bent Saether and Hans Magnus ‘Snah’ Ryan forming the core from the outset, and other players coming through the band over the course of the last twenty years. The latest of which being Kenneth Kapstad who was invited in 2007 to join the band as an official member on drums. Their output is prolific, with at least 15 studio albums, 5 live albums, not to mention EPs, singles, special editions and collaborations with other artists. I have so far to go in catching up with all their material! Their style is really quite difficult to pin down, I mean, i just don’t know how to describe them? I am a huge Zappa fan, and at their free flowing best I would compare them to his mid-seventies Roxy era sound. But that would be way too narrow a description because at times they sound just as much like Kyuss or Queens Of The Stone Age or even Porcupine Tree as they do the Mothers Of Invention or Esbjorn Svensson Trio (RIP). Essentially they sound like Motorpsycho, which is a compliment in itself because they are truly unique. If these guys had been around 40 years earlier they would be huge news, selling out arenas worldwide and packing out stadiums. Instead, very few people outside of Scandinavia and northern Europe and maybe Italy have heard of them, and to me that is a travesty.

Believe me when I say this is high quality music, and I know I say that a fair bit but I don’t write about anything that I think is shit. However, this is music of the very highest calibre. Their creativity knows no bounds, encompassing all kinds of styles into their sound and making it their own. From sprawling stoner rock to sublime jazz fusion, from 4 minute freak outs to 20 minute epics, they are a joy to behold. They are the kinda band that if you don’t really know what to listen to at any given time, put on the fantastic ‘Heavy Metal Fruit‘ and prepare to smile as you cast aside reality and drift away on a sumptuous journey of rich, delicious noise. And if you happen to be high at the same time then strap yourself in cos you’re not gonna be coming back down to earth for a very long time! And when you do come down, bang on the live album ‘Roadwork, Volume 4 – Intrepid Skronk‘ to fire yourself back out into orbit!

It’s not often that you discover a band that instantly slots right in at the top of your all time favourite list, but in almost a single listen Motorpsycho achieved that feat for me. And their back catalogue is HUGE! Oh what joy! I can’t wait! Now the only question remains, why doesn’t everybody know about this band? It makes no sense. They really should be huge, at least within the Prog Rock scene. Should I be sad about that, or should I just be pleased that I have discovered this special little secret from Norway that nobody else seems to knows about? Take a listen and decide for yourself!

‘Starhammer’ from the album ‘Heavy Metal Fruit

And if you liked that you’ll love this!

And now that you are completely hooked, check out ‘Ratcatcher‘ from the new album, ‘Still Life With Eggplant

Permanent link to this article: http://bloodsweatmusic.com/motorpsycho-20-years-in-hiding/

QOTSA – ‘…Like Clockwork’ – Album Review

Queens Of The Stone Age - '...Like Clockwork'

QOTSA – ‘…Like Clockwork’

When it comes to hyping up an album, the Queens Of The Stone Age are masterful. About a month ago, excited and enthused I wrote about the upcoming release of their latest effort ‘…Like Clockwork‘. I was hopeful after hearing all the teasers, that it would see a return to form for the band, who since the release of 2003’s ‘Songs For The Deaf’, had been accused of perhaps losing a little focus and direction. That’s not to say that 2005’s ‘Lullabies..’ and 2007’s ‘Era Vulgaris’ were in any way weak efforts, both had the QOTSA DNA running right through them with some great tracks on each. But like every band, living up to the albums that change boundaries, such as ‘Songs For The Deaf’ and ‘Rated R’ can sometimes prove a difficult task.

Well QOTSA just changed the boundaries allover again. ‘…Like Clockwork’ is a masterpiece. It’s truly, truly brilliant. For me it’s the best thing the band have ever produced, by a margin. Die hards might recoil in disgust at the suggestion that anything could eclipse the vibrant creativity of ‘Songs For The Deaf’ or the majesty of ‘Rated R‘, but this record does. It really does. It may have taken a near death experience and a bout of depression for Josh Homme to really find his mojo again, but fuck me has he, and it’s dark as fuck! This is QOTSA for grown ups. The rash, brash, carefree nature of past classics has been cast aside for something wholly more thoughtful, considered and mature. This record is deep and introspective, dark and brooding. It sees the band and more namely Josh Homme in a place we have never seen him before. Clearly the events over the last few years have had an effect on him, and he has conveyed this to his music. I’ve always maintained that sad music is the most powerful of music. Music fueled with genuine angst and emotion always leaves a bigger imprint on your soul and your psyche. Look back at records like ‘Dirt’ by Alice in Chains or Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ These are records penned with the blood, sweat and tears of the writers. Raw emotion, bared souls turned into chords and melodies that strike at the very core of the listener. This record does that.

And it does it from the very start, opening track ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled‘ a slow, lilting stomp shrouded in darkness, rumbling like an oncoming storm, a flash of wailing guitar breaks like lightning on the horizon as Josh sings, ‘And I know you will never believe, I play this as though I’m alright’, hinting at his state of mind before the song morphs into a spiraling whirlwind triggered by the lyrics, ‘If life is but a dream, then WAKE ME!’  Straight off the bat it’s clear the band have veered onto a different path, hinting at the past but looking to the future through cynical, desperate eyes. Next up is ‘I Sat By The Ocean‘, this track is pure Queens.. A strong bass line drenched in melody and lyrics that sing of love broken by a lie. It should be sad, but the feel of the song is the opposite. As I said, classic QOTSA. The third track is where things get serious. ‘The Vampyre Of Time and Memory’. It opens with a slow piano, and a somber sounding Josh eventually singing of loneliness and questioning his purpose in this life after emerging from the darkness of a near death experience, possibly? I dunno, lyrics are subjective, but that’s what I take from it. The track builds slowly to a fabulous guitar solo steeped in dark emotion. This is the track that confirms that Josh and this band have matured possibly in a way that nobody really expected. An awesome piece of music. Next comes ‘If I Had A Tail’, this is another pure QOTSA track. It lightens the mood after the previous number, mid paced, catchy, another one that gets your head nodding and your face smiling. Effortless class.

images

Awesome artwork courtesy of Boneface

Track 5, and already signalling the midway point of the album  is the awesome single, ‘My God Is The Sun’. This track hits the ground running with wailing guitars and crashing cymbals. The bass line kicks in with a groove of epic proportions and I can’t help but think classic Mars Volta, and considering they are my favourite band ever it’s no bad thing! I really don’t have a clue what this song is about other than the obvious, that without sun there is no life, but it doesn’t matter, it kicks arse! Next is ‘Kalopsia’. Before making this album and during his recovery from death and depression (yeah I know it sounds stupid but it’s kinda true, he died and got better), Josh made it clear to his bandmates that if they wanted to make a record with him, they had to ‘come into the fog’. This track is the fog. It’s beautiful, it’s sublime, it’s a little bit crazy, it’s a stunning piece of music. It makes no sense yet makes perfect sense. I could listen to music like this forever and once again it shows a different, more mature side of this band, even in its eccentricity. ‘Fairweather Friends’ follows. This is another accomplished piece of music, with a strong riff  and some fantastic guitar work. Josh is really on fire throughout the entire album on guitar. But this is another heavyweight track that’s slick, clean, concise and powerful. No QOTSA record would be complete without it’s sexy track, and ‘Smooth Sailing’ fits that brief to a tee. I kinda stole that description from somebody close but she wont mind. Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears features on this one and it almost sounds like they could’ve written it. It’s groovy, and yes it’s sexy, it just makes you wanna move! It’s like a ray of positivity piercing through the fog. Get up and dance cos everything is gonna be okay. Or is it? Track 9, the absolutely perfect and poignant ‘I Appear Missing’, is quite possibly the greatest track the band have ever written. And yeah, I know, the die hards. Fuck’em, this track is pure, fucking brilliance. The band gave us a little teaser of this track before the album was released, posting half of it with a video by the awesome Boneface up on the web. It was the first half of the song and it was clear it was something special. The full length version is just sublime, with the mainly instrumental second half section completing a thing of desperate beauty. For me this song harks to Josh’s near death experience again and the turmoil within when he realized just how close he had come to leaving this earth. I really do not know whether that’s the case, but who the fuck cares, it’s amazing. It is however the penultimate track and leads into the finale, the title track, ‘…Like Clockwork’. How many QOTSA songs make you wanna cry? This track makes me wanna cry. It’s a sad song with a frank message. Josh sings beautifully, the structure is sublime, the musicianship is second to none. Another thing of pure melancholic beauty and a fabulous way to end an amazing record. True perfection.

If I ever had any criticism about this band’s previous albums it was that they tended to lose a little focus towards the end, and that’s where this record stands tall above all the rest. This album hits the mark from start to finish, there isn’t a track on the album that shouldn’t be there, the track listing is perfect. Yeah it may seem a little bit short but anything more would have been too much. I cannot imagine Queens Of The Stone Age putting out a more complete, more focused piece of music. Even the artwork is perfect. This band have delivered us an astonishing piece of music, after 15 years as an entity, this band have delivered us their masterpiece. You can check out the vid below to get a taste of the album but really don’t fuck around, just buy it!

Permanent link to this article: http://bloodsweatmusic.com/qotsa-like-clockwork-album-review/

QOTSA – Everything running ‘…Like Clockwork’

Queens Of The Stoneage

Queens Of The Stone Age

Josh Homme knows how to tease. Ever since news broke that the new Queens Of The Stone Age album was gonna feature the likes of Elton John and Jake Shears (yeah really!), fans around the world have all been fascinated as to what the new record was gonna sound like, well at least I have!  Add to that Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri, two players everybody desperately wanted to see return, and the legends that are Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor, plus a bunch of other names, the ingredients must surely be there for something a bit special? Luckily we don’t have long to find out, with a release date of June 3rd pretty soon we are gonna know whether or not QOTSA have released another cracker? And the band have been eager to crank up the anticipation, drip feeding us part songs and live cuts, as well as the lead single ‘My God Is The Sun‘ which along with ‘I Appear Missing‘, you can check out below.

Now I may be completely wrong, but I don’t imagine the recording process for any QOTSA record to be an ordered, organised affair. I mean I guess it has to be to an extent, but I kind of picture smoke filled studios, lap dancers, alcohol, bongs, small dogs (check out Matt Berry and Steve Agee’s very funny Secrets Of The Sound to understand that final reference lol) but invariably from this madness, if indeed it is madness, comes a fine piece of art. And given it’s been 6 years since their last offering, 2007’s ‘Era Vulgaris’, I am hoping that all that time, and events in-between including the supposed death and revival on the operating table of main man Josh Homme, will provide a deep well of creativity and inspiration from which to draw upon. I have to admit in being completely biased as far as this band are concerned, I have loved everything they have ever done and I just can’t see how this current bunch of players can deliver anything supposedly ‘sub-standard’. I will of course offer my opinion when the record comes out but in the meantime check out the teaser vids to get just as excited as I am about how good this record might be!

Oh and as if that wasn’t enough to get your knickers wet, Alice In Chains release their new album entitled ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’ on the 28th May (more to come on that soon) –  2013 is already a great year!

Permanent link to this article: http://bloodsweatmusic.com/qotsa-everything-running-like-clockwork/