Sunday, January 26, 2014

Song Of The Week: 1/26/14

Song: "Here Comes Devereux"

Artist: None More Black

Album: "Icons"

Year: 2010

"Here Comes Devereux" is a song that appears to be about the vocalist's insecurities. Whether that is being uncomfortable in public settings or around women or just not being able to harness his own creative juices when it comes to writing music and songs. You get a sense that he just wants to fade away in the shadows of the corner of a room and not be seen. He just doesn't seem comfortable in his own skin, even when it comes to doing what he loves to do, creating music. None More Black formed as a band back in 2000, hailing from New Jersey. Lead singer and chief songwriter Jason Shevchuk left his former band Kid Dynamite to finish up film school. While at school, however, Jason began writing some new material and ultimately decided to form a new band, None More Black. The band's first released material came in the form of a 7" for Sub Division Records in 2001. In 2002, after several line-up changes, a demo circulated to Fat Wreck Chords who signed None More Black to their label. 2003 saw the band release their debut album for Fat Wreck entitled "File Under Black". In 2004 the band released an EP called "Loud About Loathing". The band continued on in 2006 releasing their second full length, "This Is Satire". After touring to support this album, the band decided to go on hiatus in 2007. They did announce they would play shows every now and then however. The hiatus of None More Black was short lived as the band would reform in 2008 and announce that they were indeed going to be working on a new album. This album would be released in 2010 and was called "Icons". None More Black displays a sound that is reminiscent of melodic punk with gritty vocals. Comparisons to Hot Water Music or The Flatliners are not too far off base. A lot of their song titles and album names are takes on various forms of pop culture. They often reference things from the Seinfeld show and This Is Spinal Tap, just to name a few. Where a lot of punk bands are overtly political, None More Black often uses humor and satire in their songs, kind of like The Lawrence Arms or Dillinger Four to name a few. I'm not too sure about the current status of None More Black. Their last release was in 2010 and they did tour to support the album, but now it's pushing almost four years since that release. A lot of the time, when you have bands like None More Black, their members actually all have other jobs to make ends meet. They're not hugely successful, like a Bad Religion, where their music and touring can be their main source of income, hence the long downtime between albums possibly. Whatever the reason, None More Black is a good, solid punk band that's worth checkin' out.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Song Of The Week: 1/19/14

Song: "D'You Guys Wanna Fuckin' Party After This? No."

Artist: The Sainte Catherines

Album: "Fire Works"

Year: 2010

"D'You Guys Wanna Fuckin' Party After This? No." is a song that to me appears that the vocalist is finally at a place in his life where what he does is fun. You strive to get somewhere or accomplish certain things with what you're doing and you have to endure a lot of ups and downs and obstacles along the way. I think in this song you sense that he is past all the bullshit and is content with where he's at. He's finally enjoying the moment and his surroundings. The Sainte Catherines are a melodic punk band that formed back in 1999. They took their name from the famous Sainte Catherine's Street in downtown Montreal, possibly the city's most famous street and where most travellers spend their time when they visit the city. Of course, The Sainte Catherines hail from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Their first album was 1999's "Those Stars Are For You". Oddly enough, this album was released on a German label, Yoyo Records. In 2002, the band signed with Eyeball Records and released "The Machine Gets Under Way". 2003 saw the band release "The Art Of Arrogance" through local label Dare To Care Records. This album started to generate some buzz around the band, so much so that they began generating interest from famous punk label Fat Wreck Chords. In fact, The Sainte Catherines became the first band from Quebec to sign with Fat Wreck and in 2006, they released "Dancing For Decadence", probably their most successful album. The band would play their 500th live show in 2006 and also release a split 7" with the bands Fifth Hour Hero and Whiskey Sunday. In 2007, the band released "The Soda Machine", a compilation album which featured most of the band's b-sides and rare tracks throughout the years. In 2010, the band signed with Anchorless Records and released their fifth full length studio album, "Fire Works". 2011 saw The Sainte Catherines release a 7" entitled "Dead Dogs", which featured two unreleased tracks. Unfortunately, this would prove to be the band's last official release. After going on a farewell tour with The Hunters, The Sainte Catherines officially disbanded in April of 2012. Currently, some of the band members formed a country/folk band called Yesterday's Ring. Also, lead singer Hugo Mudie and Fred Jacques began touring together as far back as 2011, performing acoustic sets. The two would eventually release an EP, titled "Miracles". If you enjoy melodic, hardcore punk bands with gritty vocals, along the lines of Hot Water Music or Off With Their Heads or Swingin' Utters, then you'd probably enjoy The Sainte Catherines. They're not breaking any new ground or totally standing apart from the rest, but they are a solid punk band no doubt.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Song Of The Week: 1/12/14

Song: "Hear My Train A Comin'"

Artist: Jimi Hendrix

Album: "Valleys Of Neptune"

Year: 2010

"Hear My Train A Comin'" is an epic blues number by legendary guitarist and performer Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix had been toying with this song from as far back as 1967 but the version I chose was a studio recording featuring the reunited Experience line-up with Jimi on guitar, Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. This masterpiece was dusted off and released on the 2010 album "Valleys Of Neptune". The song itself appears to be about maybe being discarded or written off in your hometown as you're growing up, but then leaving that all behind, becoming huge and successful, then going back and proving that those people knew nothing, kind of like throwing it in their faces. Jimi Hendrix received his first guitar in the mid to late 50's and never looked back. As a teenager, he formed several bands before joining the Army. While in the Army, he met Billy Cox, a bass player, and the two had jammed several times. Cox would show up later on in Hendrix's career. After getting a discharge from the Army, Jimi began to make his main focus music. From 1963 till 1966, Jimi performed in many backup bands including those who worked with the likes of Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, The Isley Brothers and Little Richard. Chas Chandler, formerly of the band The Animals, saw Jimi perform live and decided he wanted to work with him. He felt Jimi's version of the song "Hey Joe" could be a huge hit. Chandler got Noel Redding to play bass and Mitch Mitchell to play drums and formed The Experience. "Hey Joe" was released as a single in 1966 and reached #6 on the U.K. charts. In 1967, Jimi and the Experience released "Purple Haze", reaching #3, and "The Wind Cries Mary", which peaked at #6. After working on several more songs, including "Are You Experienced", "Foxy Lady", "Red House", "Highway Chile" and "Fire", the band released their debut album, "Are You Experienced". This album peaked at #2 on the U.K. charts, only The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's" held them from the #1 spot. In the U.S., the album reached #5 on the Billboard 200 charts. In June of 1967, Hendrix appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival. This performance cemented him as an artist that would transcend the rest. He literally became a star after that performance, in the U.S. especially. In December of '67, The Experience released their second album, "Axis: Bold As Love". This album would reach #3 in the U.S., thanks in part to songs like "Spanish Castle Magic", "Wait Until Tomorrow", "Little Wing", "Castles Made Of Sand" and "Bold As Love". 1968 saw Jimi release his most successful album of his career, "Electric Ladyland". His cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" became his highest selling single, so powerful that Dylan himself declared "Watchtower" Jimi's song! The album also featured such classics as "Crosstown Traffic", "Gypsy Eyes", "Burning Of The Midnight Lamp" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". This album saw Hendrix really take control of the producing aspect of his music, a move that caused Chandler to sever his professional relationship with Jimi. Hendrix, along with the help of engineer Eddie Kramer, would handle all recording aspects of the album. In 1969, Noel Redding left the band after several conflicts with recording processes. Redding would be replaced by Jimi's old Army buddy Billy Cox. The newly formed band would now be called Band Of Gypsys and their first major event was headlining the historic Woodstock Festival in August of 1969. Shorly after that performance, Mitchell was replaced on drums by Buddy Miles. In 1970, the Band Of Gypsys were recorded on several nights at the legendary Fillmore East. Select recordings were put together as the live album "Band Of Gypsys". This album featured the epic "Machine Gun", one of Jimi's finest and most innovative performances. Shorly after that release, Jimi released the single "Stepping Stone", a single that he wasn't happy with production wise. By this time, the Band Of Gypsys had run their course and it was said that the original Experience would be getting back together. Mitchell was in, but Jimi informed Redding that he would not be a part of the band, choosing to stick with Billy Cox instead. The "new" Experience played their last show in the United States on August 1, 1970. The last time Jimi appeared on stage ever was at an appearance at Eric Burdon's new band War's concert. Burdon, of course, is most known as the lead singer of The Animals. It would be less than 48 hours after this small appearance that Jimi Hendrix would be dead. After spending the night with his girlfriend, she woke up to find Jimi breathing but unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital where he died of what appears to have been a toxic combination of barbiturates and sleeping pills. At the young age of 27, Jimi Hendrix left this world as the greatest guitarist of all time. His innovations were legendary and his influence was staggering. His music still stands up today against anything that comes out. It's timeless. Luckily, Jimi left enough material, whether it was studio recordings or live material, that has seen the light of day in the years following his death. In 1971, "The Cry Of Love" and "Rainbow Bridge" were released and in 1972, "War Heroes" was released. All of these releases featured new material that Jimi had been working on prior to his death. Eddie Kramer was not happy about these releases because he wanted to put together the closest product of what would have been Jimi's next album. In 1997, Kramer got his wish when he produced "First Rays Of The New Rising Sun". This album is probably the best window into where Jimi was heading musically, even though Jimi felt that a lot of that material was unfinished or at least not up to his standards yet. In 2013, Experience Hendrix LCC, the family run estate that watches over the Jimi Hendrix brand, released "People, Hell & Angels", which was similar to "First Rays". In 2010, Experience Hendrix LCC in partnership with Sony Music's Legacy Recordings, released "Valleys Of Neptune", whose title track was one of the last remaining unreleased songs that Hendrix fans were yearning to have. Currently, it has been confirmed that Experience Hendrix LCC is in possession of several demos that Jimi had been working on in the months prior to his death for a concept project called "Black Gold". There has been no official release date for this material as of yet, nor any inkling as to what they are going to do with the material or how finished a product it is. Of course, anything new from Jimi will be well worth the wait!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Song Of The Week: 1/5/14

Song: "Smile"

Artist: After The Fall

Album: "You Don't Have To Sleep To Dream"

Year: 2010

"Smile" is a song that appears to be about a relationship that is growing and moving in many directions but the one constant is their burning passion and love for each other. No matter what obstacles appear between the two, it's her smile that overcomes everything else. You get a sense the vocalist is saying that no matter what comes up in their life, they will make it through because they have each other. There is not a whole hell of a lot of information about After The Fall on the internet. I know they are from Nebraska and probably formed around 2007. The band should probably think about changing their name because when you search "After The Fall", mostly what comes up is information about the long running Albany, New York hardcore band After The Fall. Nebraska's After The Fall is much more Red Jumpsuit Apparatus or Taking Back Sunday than the hardcore punk of the band from Albany. In 2007, After The Fall released a five song EP entitled "We Invented A World". In 2010, they self-released their first full length album, "You Don't Have To Sleep To Dream" and in 2012, they released another EP, "Your Final Goodbye", which featured four songs. Currently, the band remains unsigned as they continue to tour to make a name for themselves and possibly earn a recording contract. My advice to them.. change your band name so that you are not confused with someone else. I think that could be the first step in the right direction for this band.