Slipknot Has a New Drummer?

Casagrande at Wacken Open Air in 2015

Yesterday, the metal world took notice when the drummer for Sepultura, Eloy Casagrande surprisingly left the band on the door step of the Celebrating Life Through Death Farewell Tour. The band announced it on their website yesterday, naming new drummer Greyson Nekrutman.

That in itself is pretty surprising, but the timing got the internet teeming with anticipation. It is unlikely that Casagrande left the band this close to a farewell tour unless something else is afoot. Couple that with the fact that Slipknot ended their relationship with drummer Jay Weinberg on November 5th, and that they, too, are about to perform at a live show in April and are in need of a drummer- people started speculating that the move is not simply coincidental.

It totally makes sense putting those pieces together.

  1. Leaving the band to pursue another project this close to a tour is strange.
  2. He seemingly fits with Slipknot stylistically and technically.
  3. Slipknot is two months from a number of shows and will need time to build rapport with the new drummer prior to playing live. (That seemed to be a problem with Weinberg)
  4. His time with Sepultura is limited as this is the farewell tour. Slipknot plans to continue on, experimenting with various styles of music.

As a fan of Slipknot, I hope he is the fit the band needs. I, for one, and I believe I am in the minority here, am excited for a chapter of Slipknot that is experimental and opens new doors. I don’t need another Iowa. I already have that. I, like the band, have grown and changed. Bring on the new! Anything else would be fake and disingenuous. It has been reported that Casagrande has done some demos with the band and has a bond, but that is pure speculation at this point.

I also don’t buy into the notion that Corey and Clown make all the decisions and just go all willy-nilly firing band members. That is a slap in the face to Mick, Sid and Jim that they are so weak that they just accept being ruled by the pair. I believe it goes deeper. I believe that there have been issues with substance abuse. I believe that there were issues with the chemistry in playing style and technique. I believe that there is a vision in place that not everyone was in favor of. Clown mentioned as much in response to the firing of Weinberg, “We’ve moved away from things that don’t belong and we are continuously moving away from what is in the way. There are no hard feelings. There’s no anger or hate. Nobody’s wrong. No one’s mad, it’s just that we’re very aware of us. If you’re a Slipknot fan, then you know what that means. The future is very very exciting. I’m excited, because no one really knows what we’re capable of – as usual.” credit: Web is Jericho. Hopefully, Slipknot has done the homework and found the rhythm section leader to take them into a new direction following their leave from Road Runner.

The fun part of this is that we won’t actually know if he has joined the band because they won’t tell us. He will join and wear a mask. The speculation will begin- Tortilla Man 2.0??? or is that already taken by the new Craig? Time will tell.

I Ya Toyah Panic Room Video

On Monday evening, Metalhead Mundy and I interviewed a lovely, unassuming, humble young lady named Ania Tarnowska. She goes by the name I Ya Toyah which means “It’s Just Me.” While Ania seems shy and reserved on the surface, she is anything but. I Ya Toyah is a self proclaimed movement, and she isn’t joking. She is a dedicated musician, a creator, a coach, a maven of makeup and a driven philanthropist.

I Ya Toyah has an EP, a full length album and covers of beloved songs to her name. Do yourself a favor and check out her versions “It’s No Good” by Depeche Mode and “Lovesong” by the Cure. Wonderful covers. For many of her songs, I Ya Toyah has created thoughtful, artistic videos. Her latest single, Panic Room, is the latest to get the video treatment.

Panic Room is a song that depicts a panic attack. Ania explained on Wanderings and Woolgathering that she does indeed get them from time to time, so she is speaking from an authentic place. It’s a feeling of the walls closing in. Here lyrics use personification to embody the panic that one feels.

Give me your hand give me your hand she says
Give me your heart give me your heart she says
Give me your pain give me your pain, give your pain
She takes it all until I have nothing left
Again
I’m feeling closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic!

In the case here, “she” is the anxiety that causes panic. “She” overwhelms the senses. For those listening, “she” could represent drug abuse. It could be alcohol abuse, stage fright, etc. The song meets the listener where he or she is and that makes it powerful.

In the video, I Ya Toyah cuts from performance shots of Ania playing guitar, keyboards and singing to shots of herself in the midst of panic- bedraggled, chained and closed within a cell. It’s confining, closing in on her causing further panic. The shots are tight and uncomfortable. Those scenes represent what is going on in her mind during an episode and it’s painfully rendered.

I Ya Toyah uses the theme of mental health on a number of songs. It’s important to her, and she has made it her mission to bring awareness to the topic. Subscribe on her website, iyatoyah.com, and send her an email requesting a Crisis Hotline 988 bracelet. She sends them free of charge. The bracelet is also adorned with her logo, a combination of a peace symbol and an anarchy symbol- a perfect summation of who she is as an artist.

For the full interview you can check out Wanderings and Woolgathering on Youtube, Soundcloud or you can find us on your favorite podcatcher. To find out more about the artist I Ya Toyah go to her website and find out why she is so committed to mental health. While there, listen to remixes and acoustic versions of her songs. Watch her videos and check out her line of lipstick. This lady is a one woman wrecking machine who is making major waves.

Full Lyrics to Panic Room:

Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic! Room!

Here she comes my way
I thought I’d never see her again
Every time she’d stay
She’d ring the bell, bring me hell
Again

Why haunt my mind
Take it slow
I’m an open book
You’re in control

Give me your hand give me your hand she says
Give me your heart give me your heart she says
Give me your pain give me your pain, give your pain
She takes it all until I have nothing left
Again
I’m feeling closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic!
And I am closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic! Room!

How does she find the way
To crawl inside me on my strongest day
Rain, rain, rain, but it’s ok
Rain, rain all over again again again

Give me your hand give me your hand she says
Give me your heart give me your heart she says
Give me your pain give me your pain, give your pain
She takes it all until I have nothing left
Again

I’m feeling closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic!
And I am closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic! Room!

Here she comes my way again again again again!
I thought I’d never see her again!
Every time she’d stay
She’d ring the bell bring me hell again again again again again

I’m feeling closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic!
And I am closer, I’m closer to death
Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic! Room!

Panic Room! Panic Room! Panic! Panic Room!
Panic Room! Panic Room!

Smashing Pumpkins – The World is a Vampire Tour Review

On Saturday, September 9th, I attended my 7th Smashing Pumpkins concert at Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana. It was the last stop on the band’s The World is a Vampire Tour. The Pumpkins played 21 songs- a mix of fan favorites, some new songs from Atum and a few covers. From my first show in 1991 to my most recent, the three hour behemoth Shiny and Oh So Bright tour, I have never seen the band play with such joy. Billy Corgan has always been an artist who fought for respectability, who pushed the envelope of what a band can do, and followed his vision in the face of scrutiny. With that mission comes a serious edge, I suppose, but that veil was lifted Saturday. There was a joy that permeated the stage and came through in the music and performance.

Highlights:

The coolest part of the night happened during Tonight Tonight. Following some presong banter between James Iha and Billy, in which they teased about a song about condiments, insinuating Mayonaise, the two embarked on a wonderful acoustic rendition of Tonight Tonight. During the song, there was a lot of audience participation and love for the performance. At one point, Billy stepped back and tapped his heart, pausing before returning to the song. He looked genuinely thankful and in awe of the love they were receiving. Sometimes during shows, the audience gets some canned bits that all audiences receive. This one seemed genuine and of the moment. Very cool!

Next, any tour has a focus on the new music. From Atum we got three new entries: Spellbinding, Empires and Beguiled. All three are amazing songs and were performed brilliantly. I loved Empires and Beguiled from the moment they came out; they are bangers. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Spellbinding. It has a synth edge to it and, on the album, has a build up that allows for the triumph of the story and song to come through. (see the Atum story for its placement and message) I loved the live version; they managed to mix it well and the super catchy melody fits neatly with the Mellon Collie era of Pumpkins that many love. Spellbinding was definitely a highlight for me.

The classics- as I said in my Pumpkins album breakdown, Siamese Dream is my favorite record of all time. They played four songs from this album, including my favorite and very underrated Hummer. This song is everything that is right with music. A super cool groove building to some sweet, heavy layered guitars. Soft moments. Loud moments. Beautiful lyrics. Perfection. They also played Today, Disarm and Cherub Rock. Today and Disarm got a lot of audience participation. Great high points during the concert.

Ava Adore scored some points for me. Typically I don’t love that song or the album. However, on this night, Billy put down the guitar and went all vocal and performance. He looked like he relished the moment. The song was played well and played hard. Billy added theatrics to the lyrics and made it a memorable performance.

Cool moment- the band played Jelly Belly for the first time on The World is a Vampire Tour. It emerged seamlessly from a cover of Hubble Hubble by Manfred Mann. They played Hubble Hubble differently than the original- it was a scorcher. After screaming guitars and solos, the band shifted into the drum heavy Jelly Belly. It was amazing. Jimmy Chamberlain put on a performance of speed and power. I was so happy to see this live.

Merch– I never buy merchandise at shows. They are overpriced normally and I already have enough. Well, now I can say that I “rarely” buy merch. I couldn’t resist the light blue zip up “The World is a Vampire” hoodie. It was a lot, but it was totally worth it. I may just be a little cooler now.

Drawbacks:

My only drawback from the show was the opening. While I do enjoy The Everlasting Gaze and Doomsday Clock, the mix was just off. It was fuzz heavy and nearly drowned out Billy’s voice. If I was there and didn’t know these songs, I would have had no clue. It would simply have been a wall of noise. Thankfully, that quickly changed with a Talking Head’s cover followed by an amazing performance of Today. And, then a non-synth version of Perfect…..oh, and then Disarm…. oh man, did it good after the opening:)

Will I see them again? Of course, next time they come around. Billy said that they recorded new music at the end of last year. Hopefully we will hear that soon and they will embark on another tour next summer!

The Setlist:

The Everlasting Gaze

Doomsday Clock

Once in a Lifetime

Today

Perfect

Disarm

The Celestials

Purple Blood

Ava Adore

Tonight Tonight

Bullet with Butterfly Wings

This Time

Spellbinding

Hubble Bubble (Toil and Trouble)

Jellybelly

Empires

Hummer

Beguiled

1979

Cherub Rock

Zero

Check back to Wanderings and Woolgathering for more album, music reviews.

Smashing Pumpkins- Ranking the Albums

On Saturday night I will be seeing the Smashing Pumpkins in concert for the 7th time, my first going back to 1991 in while in college. To prepare I have been ripping through the albums. In my mind, I was secretly ranking them. Some I knew exactly where they would rank, but there were some surprises for me. Typically, Pumpkins fans of my age will praise the first three, throw a few accolades at Adore and then dismiss the rest and make a pejorative statement about Billy. That’s not me. If you have listened to the Wanderings podcast, we have praised artists through the years for not mimicking what they did in early years- those artists who have a vision and push the boundaries of creativity. In my mind, Billy Corgan is the epitome of digging in and creating his vision, critics be damned.

Without further ado- my ranking of every Smashing Pumpkins album. (Pisces Iscariot is included because why not)

1- Siamese Dream

Greatest Pumpkin album- Siamese Dream: Not only is this my favorite Pumpkins record, but it’s probably my favorite album of all time. I know I have listened to it more than any album ever! I was blown away at Gish, but this follow up takes what was promising and perfects it. Tracks like Mayonaise, Hummer, Cherub Rock, Sapceboy, and Rocket stand out for me, but the entire album is a roller coaster ride of layered guitars, virtuoso drumming and beautiful lyrics that are both poetic and meaningful with beautiful phrasology. No matter how many times I listen to this record, it always sounds fresh. This is a truly a unique and inspiring album. Did I mention Soma or Geek USA? Oh yeah, they are great too!

2. Gish

Gish is the first album released by the Pumpkins and my entry point to the band. I was blown away initially by the unique sound and vocals. At this time, grunge and the “Seattle sound” had taken hold and was ubiquitous on the airwaves. This had the same alternative inspiration but was singular in its delivery. No other band sounded remotely like the Pumpkins. I’m still blown away to this day by Siva, I Am One, Rhinoceros and Bury Me. In a world of music filled with copy cat alternative bands, the Pumpkins created their own path and still follow it today. This is raw Pumpkin sound in its nascent form.

3. Picses Iscariot

Yeah, it’s technically not a studio album, I get it. I know this is a weird choice, especially to place it in front of Mellon Collie. Plus, it is basically a compilation of throw aways and B-sides. However, this is a hodge podge of greatness. Songs like Frail and Bedazzled or Hello Kitty Kat belong on any album and harken back to Gish. (sweet spot with me). Landslide and Girl Named Sandoz prove the Pumpkins can take a classic and improve upon it. Plume, Whir, La Dolly Vita and Obscured show the cool grooviness that underlies a lot of more of their well known songs. This cobbled together album is better than most of what is out there. Top three for me and likely top five for most Pumpkin fans.

4. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness could easily be the greatest Pumpkins album of all time. It has some of the greatest Pumpkin songs, and it is by far the most ambitious. If I were to rate the albums on ambition, Mellon Collie and Atum would be 1 and 2. However, I can’t do that. While I love most everything about this record, there are some missteps for me that hold it back as a cohesive piece. The band was at the height of its popularity. They played Tonight Tonight at the Grammy’s. Everyone was singing “rat in a cage” regardless if you liked heavy music or not. The first six songs on the record are arguably the best start of any record ever. Plus, one of my favorite Pumpkin songs, 33, appears here. However, there is too much here. Too many ideas that don’t quite fit. If the band had chosen their best 12-15 songs, it could have been the best album of all time. 28 songs was too much and slightly bloated. Not my top three, but absolutely a classic!

5. Oceania

I feel like Oceania goes unnoticed, or underappreciated, by many Pumpkin fans. It was five years after the divisive Zeitgeist and 12 years after the positively reviewed Machina. There was a clear tonal change, but the integrity and vibe is there. While more electronica is included, this one has plenty of Billy melody and layered guitars, albeit slightly more sparse. This album has a sweet groove from beginning to end. Songs like Quasar, Panopticon, The Celestials, My Love is Winter and The Chimera are standouts here. And folks, listen to Inkless– total old school Pumpkins vibe. This is one that I can listen to beginning to end with no skips every time. Very underrated. Give it a listen!

6. Atum

Atum is Smashing Pumpkins most recent album. Initially Atum was released one song at a time on Billy’s podcast- absolutely the coolest idea. I love a concept record. Rush is my favorite band, aside from the Pumpkins, so concept rules! This one has a cosmic story that started with Mellon Collie: Zero to Glass to Shiny, and ends here with Atum. Musically, this one is all over the place in a good way. Like Mellon Collie, it’s a mixed bag. When it shines, though, it really shines. 33 songs- 2/3 or more are bangers. I would say that the first 8 songs are amazing and completely set the tone for the musical experience. For those who love hard songs, Empires, Moss, Beguiled, and Harmageddon fit the bill. Others like Hooligan, Neophyte, Sojourner, Cenotaph or Spellbinding provide a smooth Pumpkin groove that we have become accustomed to. For 33 songs, this is entirely listenable and at times completely shines! The breadth and ambition are commendable.

7. Zeitgeist

This album for me is tough. I really like it. It’s hard. It’s rhythmic and it has some great grooves and melody. Essentially, it’s Billy and Jimmy, how we like it. However, it feels like they are trying too hard to recreate the past. Too many layers. Great album. I still listen frequently. Doomsday Clock, Bleeding the Orchid and Tarantula withstand the test of time.

8. Machina/The Machines of God

Machina is unfulfilled expectations. It was a return to form, a sounding bell for the end of D’Arcy, and a continuation of a story that wouldn’t be fullfilled for 23 years with Atum. This album has some amazing music (thank you for coming back Jimmy) and some great songs, but is not complete in form – as a supposed concept record it falls short. Songs like Everlasting Gaze, Stand Inside Your Love, I of the Mourning, This Time and Glass and the Ghost Children are the best offerings here. I enjoy this record, but it is not one of the greats. Atum, however, has made it more interesting recently.

9. Shiny and Oh So Bright

Shiny was a bit of a surprise for me. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It’s a tight record of only 8 songs with four very strong songs: Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts), Solara, Marchin’ On and Seek and You Shall Destroy. Those are wrapped by softer, melodic songs that tie this one together nicely. Definitely an underrated outing.

10. Adore

Adore is the fourth studio album from the Pumpkins. It is a departure from their previous outings, choosing to use far more electronics. The absence of Jimmy is clearly evident as well. Adore falls pretty low on my list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some shining moments, because it does. Ava Adore and Perfect are both excellent songs. The rest fall flat for me. They are ambitious and I applaud the effort to expand and explore, but it seems they weren’t quite ready for that much change. I think the lack of Jimmy working with Billy is apparent. Nice effort, but lacks the spark and consistency of their better albums.

11. Monuments to an Elegy

Monuments to an Elegy is an interesting record. It’s not bad, but it’s also not great. Four songs really stand out here: Tiberius, Being Beige, One and All (We Are), and Drum + Fife. In fact, Drum + Fife is one of my favorite 2000s songs from the band. The problem with the album is that the other songs are good, but not great. I enjoy it in the background, but don’t prefer it loud and in my face.

12. Cyr

Cyr is simply not an album I like. There really isn’t anything bad, but it’s not really good either. It just simply “is.” That’s a problem when you create art. The response cannot be “meh.” I simply wasn’t moved by this one. I do enjoy The Colour of Love, Wyttch and Purple Blood, but that’s where it ends. It’s a long album with little for me to hang on to.

So there you have it- all Smashing Pumpkin records rated from best to worst. Hopefully, we will be listening to Machina 2 in it’s glorious remaster soon. Feel free to comment and tell me what I got wrong. I’ll post thoughts after the concert on Saturday. Check that out too. You can find it here.

Whitney Tai- Lexington

Written and performed by Whitney Tai.

Produced by Whitney Tai and Tim Janssens

Whitney Tai is an artist who transcends genre. Tai has grown through her own records: Metamorphosis and Apogee, while adding lyrics and vocals to Beauty in Chaos and Chuck Wright’s Sheltering Sky. Whitney Tai has a beautiful voice and more impressive presence. Both Michael Ciravolo and Chuck Wright saw this and added her to their own projects.

Tai is certainly one who can add to the works of others, but she is even more impressive on her own. Of course it would be easy to fall back on the success and following of others, but Tai is an artist- an artist with a voice. Her most recent offering is a prime example of this.

At the end of June, Whitney released a single called Lexington. We reviewed it here. Since that time, Ms. Tai has released a video for the song. Based on the lyrics from the song, I was a bit baffled. The song details her time in NYC, the big city. She focuses on places: the Cooper Hewitt, the MET, 70th and Lexington. The video, however, shows Tai walking through a park. Not Central Park. A simple park.

After a few views, it’s clear. While those moments in the big city impact a person, so do the quiet moments. While Tai no longer lives in NYC, the impact of those days live with her. Throughout Lexington, Tai reminisces about her time in NY. Each moment etched in her mind. Each moment a part of who she is now. I would imagine that she had no clue that those moments were important while she lived them, yet they have impacted the person she is now.

With introspection like that, the clear conclusion is that the small moments matter. And THAT is where this video shines in its juxtaposition. In the video, Whitney walks around with an old school microphone singing about Lexington. The background is sparse, as is the hustle and bustle of life here. While she may sing about NYC and the craziness that comes with that, this video is more about the quiet moments- those moments with family, friends and pets. In totality, all those moments that make up a person.

Lexington is a place, but it’s also a state of mind. Tai brilliantly uses her art, her skill, her vision and her talent to make a point about life. We are a sum of our parts- embrace and celebrate them. If you don’t believe me, head over to Lexington!

Pick up some cool merch here.

Devah Quartet – Prometheus Pre-release Review

Devah Quartet is back and more ambitious than ever. Continuing on the footsteps of their last release 2112, Prometheus is packed with a behemoth 33 minute progressive epic, a song about Joan of Arc, a few radio friendly songs and a tribute to Tool. Devah Quartet is a group that defies categorization. They are classical by the nature of their instruments- it’s a string quartet after all. They are prog rock due to their influences and lengthy structure and lyric matter. They are heavy. They are quiet. They are masters of their instruments. But above all, they are simply an amazing group that demands your attention. If you want to hear these songs on our world premier show, check out this link to Wanderings and Woolgathering on YouTube. Or wait until August 1 to hear the official versions.

Grain of Sand is the first track on the double album. This one kicks off with a cool groove laid down by cellist Liza McLellan and drummer Mack Longpre. The violins fill in the background making this one feel full. In typical Devah fashion, the breakdowns are filled with heavy strokes from Liza on cello and violins complementing and expanding the song. Liza takes a turn on vocals for this one- Not something she felt entirely comfortable doing in the past, but she does an outstanding job. At four minutes long, I could imagine this one on the radio. It’s super catchy.

Lateralus is a cover of Tool’s Lateralus, the title track to their 2001 album of the same name. This version is entirely done within the context of a four piece string ensemble. There are no vocals, but a beautiful reworking of the original. Like their work with Rush’s 2112, McLellan manages to rework the song in a new and interesting way while paying 100% fidelity to the original. You know it’s the same song, it’s unmistakeable, but this version feels fresh and new. Please pay attention to the 7:04 mark. The song drops and Liza kills it with her deep cello groove. NOT TO BE MISSED!

Prometheus is Devah’s most ambitious song to date. It comes in at a whopping 33 minutes and eight seconds. It is broken into seven parts: I. Overture, II. Drifting / Touched with Fire / The Voice, III. the Gift: Cursed with Knowledge, IV. Early Warning / The Asteroid, V. No Time for Caution / See the Pattern / Listen, VI. Launch / Sudden Impact / Dying Day, VII. Deus Ex / Believe. Songs like this can be daunting for listeners who have limited attention or only feel comfortable with radio friendly fare. The listener should look at this as an experience- a musical story or poem. Singing on this one is David Michael Moote. He has a huge voice, similar to what you might hear on Broadway.

Prometheus begins with a long intro, the movement and short strokes on violin and cello give the impression of going on a journey. From there we get a tempo and tonal change leading into our first vocals at the five minute mark. It’s here that we meet David, a listless man wandering through life. Cleverly, he is linked to Don Quixote through “Tilting at Windmills” as David has demons that are not real. It furthers the idea that David is lost and struggling mentally. In the background of this part, there is an “otherwordly” sound. It gives the impression that change is on the way. It’s the classic adventure where someone, seemingly insignificant, must answer the call. David must die to his current self and become something entirely new whether physically or metaphorically- a savior.

Then comes the asteroid, which brings up all kinds of questions about the state of man and our place in the world. What is David’s role? Is there anything that can be done? When Prometheus arrives, is he here to burn the world down or ignite the fire within our protagonist? Can we highlight our problems to solve them, “paint it white?” Will belief save us? How do we react in the face of impending doom? Or, is this simply a drama playing out in the mind of David? There are no easy answers, but it’s delivered in a nifty package of strings. You will have to listen to see how it all plays out- no spoilers here.

Each of the seven movements has a distinct musical change. The music matches the lyrics thematically and induces the proper reaction in the listener. There are minimal effects throughout the song, but there are some atmospheric keyboard/synth touches in Dying Day. The piano-esque sound hits the mood. Following that is a beautiful instrumental that paints a somber picture- all sad, slow strings. It’s a nice respite from the intensity that preceded and the “shattering fragments” in the sky that follow.

There is no doubt; this song takes effort. It’s long, it’s intricate and it’s thought-provoking. Your effort is definitely rewarded. Prometheus is bursting with excellent musicianship, structure and lyrics. Listen close- you’ll be glad you did.

The Awakening – Shadow Call

The third single from The Awakening’s This Alchemy, Shadow Call, released as a stunning new video.

Lead singer and lyricist for The Awakening, Ashton Nyte, has been a busy young man. Right before the Covid epidemic in 2018, Ashton collaborated with Human Drama’s guitarist and Schecter Guitar’s president Michael Ciravolo on a few songs for his project called Beauty in Chaos. In that same year, he released an album with The Awakening called Chasm. In 2020, Mr. Nyte released a solo album called Waiting for a Voice with an accompanying book of beautiful writings and poems. Then, in 2021, presumably because Ashton is a fount of inspiration and hates down time, he released another record with The Awakening, the band’s 10th.

Shadow Call is the third single off the record. Ashton Nyte describes Shadow Call this way, “The song and video are essentially about dealing with depression and other forms of mental illness. I believe that if we feel safe enough to speak about these challenges, we have a better chance to cope with them and hopefully overcome them.”

The video is black and white with stunning composition. In light of Nyte’s description of the song, the video creates a world in which a person is trapped. The band is goth, the music dark and the castle sets the tone. With visual sweeps of the misty landscapes and a birds eye entry into the castle (for lack of a better term), we begin the journey of the mind.

The castle is a metaphor for the mind. Nyte, here ,is the protagonist and locked in the castle. His straight jacket and barbed wire surrounding the outer walls ensure there is no doubt. Within the walls are demonic like figures wearing masks and we travel through dilapidated tunnels leaking water. There is a sense of foreboding oozing from every frame of the video.

Nyte plays chess with a mysterious figure in black. Life, like chess, requires making the right moves. Here we get a sense of Nyte playing for his life. From there cuts between a locked prison door with a small eye view port and Nyte singing the lyrics- the mind can truly be a prison. We get a really cool, worms eye view of a corridor within the castle. It’s outside, but it’s a steep, windows adorn the walls, yet it is seemingly an insurmountable obstacle.

The video continues with dark imagery. A light, signifying hope, fizzles out and explodes. There are people in water reaching and splashing. As we see cuts of Ashton singing and playing guitar, we return to the character and chess. He removes the mask……it’s Ashton Nyte.

Again, another beautiful metaphor that we can be our worst enemy. We can work against ourselves in our fight to recover. Nyte, here, alone has little chance. His point is that being trapped in your own mind can be insurmountable on your own. Mental health requires help.

This song and video are beautifully haunting. More importantly, it’s art doing what art does best- expressing emotion and depicting the human condition in a way that makes it easy to confront. Simply stunning effort!

Check the video out here:

Not totally unrelated, there is another song that deals with mental health and uses a mansion as a metaphor. It’s by NF and called Mansion. It is completely different in terms of tone and genre, but equally powerful in message about mental health. You might check that one out.

Come back to WanderingsandWoolgathering for my music news and reviews.

Snapped Ankles- Forest of Your Problems

Last week I posted in the Post Punk New No Wave Noise Rock Facebook page asking for recommendations for some new post-punk music. I got a ton of recommendations and I am wading my way through. Earlier this week, I wrote about Last Sadness that was recommended by Josh Hines. You can find that here. Today I’m listening to Snapped Ankles, brought to you by group member Stefan Wenger.

My limited experience with what post-punk has become has left me woefully unprepared for what I’m about to hear. I expect the Cure, or maybe Modern English, or Psychedelic Furs. When I popped on Forest of Your Problems by Snapped Ankles I was blown away. This is not your mother’s post-punk band. Not only are they enigmatic as a group, once performing in ghillie suits, but this album breaks all convention. (or perhaps the convention has simply embraced all the movement in the early 80s with synthesizers and keyboards.) It’s part punk, post punk, dance and elektronica, among others.

This record is bristling with energy and bursting at the seams. The album begins with the title track and some slow building percussive elements- nothing amazing, but sets the tone. Where the album really gets going is on the second track, The Evidence. Again, comes in with cool percussion before kicking in with a very catchy keyboard groove. It’s peppy and engaging. The lines revolving around “the evidence” are sung reminiscently of the late 70s punk.

Shifting Basslines of the Cornucopians is the third track and one that embraces a true punk lyric aesthetic. The song calls out big business and those who make profit off the poor. My favorite line, “Sometimes you’re the pigeon, sometimes you’re the statue” is clever and reminds me of the Pearl Jam lyric, “Don’t know whether I’m the boxer or the bag.” This one is a little more visual. The song has some cool drum beats and a deep base line that sounds eerily similar to a tuba. Very cool. Check out the video:

Post-Punk Last Sadness Emotion is Energy in Motion

My post-punk history lies with groups like The Cure, Modern English, Bauhaus and Echo and the Bunnymen. I love those groups and I love that sound. When I hear that signature guitar tone and mixture of elements not strictly defined by genre, I find a happy place in memory. I have, however, fallen off the modern post-punk offerings. I was happy to find a Facebook group dedicated to post-punk music. One simple post and I’ve been given a lot of music to listen to. Per my commitment to the group, I will listen and discuss each suggestion given to me by the group.

The first entry to this journey is Last Sadness and the recent record- Emotion is Energy in Motion. This suggestion was made by Josh Hines. So, without further ado, is Last Sadness worth a listen?

The short answer is YES. Last Sadness, apparently a one man band, is relatively new with only one album prior to the latest release coming out in 2020. It was called Quarantunes and features remakes. The new EP which came out in August is called Emotion is Energy in Motion and features five new songs.

The first song is called Symbiosis. It begins with keyboards, before hitting with a snappy drumbeat and that beautiful guitar tone. The vocals kick in and I warm up instantly. There is a raw quality that feels like it’s being sung in a phone booth. He feels British, but it’s not absolute. What is, though, is he sounds great. Unfortunately, I was not able to read the lyrics. I connect more to meaning, but I will grade on musicality alone.

The second song is Who Flies Against Time. This one begins with guitar instead of keyboards. Drums kick in and we get that familiar up tempo post punk beat. Vocals join and we have a melodically smooth jam. It’s a basic 4/4 with some quick drum fills. After the second verse, some cool rising synth joins the song and then gives way again to the guitar. The song marches to the end, up tempo with interesting elements added as it cruised to the end. This one is epic.

The third song is called Somnium. The third song opens in the third different way. The song begins with a drum beat, giving way to synth being played as if it were a guitar. Forty seconds in the guitar begins and drops into a cool beat. Vocals are more distinctive on this one. Sound great and great intonation riding the music. This one begs to be sung. The songs ends with repeating chorus accompanied by some cool synth. Just a fantastic song.

The fourth song is called Stesk. This one opens with a pronounced guitar with clean notes. Enter drum beat and a sick bass line accompanied by keyboards. Vocals bounce over the instruments. Bass takes back seat to some cutting guitar licks. Breakdown for lyrics- turns beautifully melodic. This song is cleverly constructed- fade repeating chorus out.

The final song on the EP is Saudade. This one begins with a cool drum beat with some dream keyboards behind. Enter a dirty bass line and grungy guitar. The killer bass here leads the song. Great departure from the rest. Another melodic chorus here with a more familiar post-punk guitar under the lyrics. The bass is the story and plays under the lyrics the whole way.

As a whole, I think this is a solid EP. Each song seems connected, yet offers something different. Its elements are familiar but always feels fresh. I wish I had a lyric sheet to really connect on a more personal level, but on the surface, this is fantastic. Great suggestion Josh. Can’t wait to check out the next suggestion.

Keep coming back to Wanderings and Woolgathering for more post-punk reviews.

This Day in Music History- John Lennon

In 1972, John Lennon released his most controversial song and his lowest charting single. The song- “Woman is the Nigger of the World.” The song was included on the album “Some Time in New York City” by the Plastic Ono Band, which featured John and Yoko Ono.

The song was so controversial, as one could imagine, that radio stations refused to play the song due to the use of the N Word and because the song unfairly compared sexism to racism. Yoko had coined the phrase during an interview in Nova magazine. The phrase was not meant to lessen racism in any way, but to highlight the state of women in society. The spirit of the song is pre-feminism. The message was heard loud and clear by the National Organization for Women (NOW). They awarded John Lennon and Yoko Ono the Positive Image of Women Award because of its strong “pro-feminist statement.”

While the song received little radio play and only made it to #57 on the Billboard Hot 100, John and Yoko did manage to perform the song on the Dick Cavett Show. Prior to the song being played, Cavett had to make a statement apologizing for ABC about the content of the song. Here is the explanation and the beginning of the performance.

See ya tomorrow for This Day in Music April 25 – another snapshot into the history of music.

This Day in Music History- The Beatles

Beatles tape found in attic – 1995.

I don’t know about you all, but I’m a collector. (fancy name for hoarder:) I collect comic books. I always marvel, pun intended, when someone falls into a big find. A man finds an Action Comics #1 in his grandfather’s closet or in a shed. Someone stumbles upon a Detective 27. These stories pop up from time to time and are so intriguing. I know when I drive by a garage sale, I look for the distinctive long box. Who knows what treasure might await me. I’m usually disappointed as they are nearly always filled with 90s foil covers.

This scenario, however, is exactly what happened to Peter Hogdson in 1995. Apparently, and according to the London Times, Hogdson found a tape in his attic that contained 16 early recordings by the Beatles. The songs, which were recorded in 1959 included “Hello Little Girl,” “Ask Me Why,” “When I’m 64” and Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah, I love her so.” He handed the tapes over to Paul McCartney and spent a day with the music star in his private studio playing instruments and chatting.

There is some mystery around the tapes, and some even propose that it was a con job. I, however, love the story and hope to someday stumble upon a pristine Daredevil #1. So, I’m leaving this here- on this day in history, April 23, it was reported that a man found a long lost Beatles tape in his attic. That much we know is true and makes April 23 pretty interesting in the music world.

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened on April 24.

This Day in Music History- Public Enemy Edition

In 1989, Spike Lee brought the world Do the Right Thing. It was both a commercial and critical success. Do the Right Thing was lauded for its reflection of race relations in America. It came out after my senior year, before I headed off to college. It just felt different and delivered an important message. Very eye opening for this midwestern kid.

A movie this powerful needed an anthem. Spike Lee looked to Public Enemy and Chuck D to supply its anthem. And boy, or “yeah boy,” did they deliver. Public Enemy came up with Fight the Power, which would appear on its 1990 release Fear of a Black Planet. On this day, April 22, 1989, Public Enemy shot the video for the song.

Fight the Power (FP) was perfect for the movie and a success on its own merit. FP rose to number one on the US Rap chart. It came in at number 20 on the US R&B chart, 24 on the Dutch charts and 29 on the UK chart. Like the movie, the song was a critical and commercial success. The message is clear:

Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be

The inspiration behind Fight the Power goes back to when Chuck D, or Carlton Ridenhour as he was known then, was 15 years old listening to the Isley Brothers song of the same name, Fight the Power. The line that rang true for Chuck D was, “I tried to play my music, they say my music’s too loud.” When thinking about the anthem that Spike Lee was looking for, Chuck looked to the original. “We were in the middle of R and B — that’s Reagan and Bush. So I said, “We don’t want to sample from the record. What we want to do is carry the torch of the meaning — to yell and scream back at hypocrisy.” That is exactly what they did. Public created something new and fresh while reaching back and building on what had come before.

So, let’s celebrate April 22, 1989 as the day that Public Enemy brought Fight the Power to the world. This song, and Public Enemy, mean so much to me. They changed the way I see the world and have inspired me to question the way things are. Their video is fantastic, but the opening sequence to Do the Right Thing, using FP as the opening song, is even better. Check it out here.

Come back to Wanderings and Woolgathering tomorrow for This Day in Music History- tomorrow’s edition.

What songs will make the new Slipknot setlist?

Last week, Corey Taylor made some waves with Maggots across the world. He stated, “I will tell you this — you’re gonna see some songs that haven’t been played live in a very long time, straight up,” the singer said. “I just redid the set, and we’re dusting some stuff off, and we’re bringing out not only some old school shit, but stuff that people have been asking for for a long time.” (Loudwire) With that in mind, what will the new set look like? What old songs will reappear? Of course Corey tends to work in hyperbole when describing new music, so who knows what old songs we will get. To figure it out, let’s look at the average sets from each album cycle. Some songs were performed from time to time, but typically, the boys stuck to a fairly tight set. Using those average setlists, I will build the set for the next tour.

In 1999-2000, the self-titled set was very basic. It was an opening band set and based on one record; it featured the intro and anywhere from seven songs up to eleven songs.

742617000027

(sic)

Eyeless

Wait and Bleed

Liberate

No Life

Prosthetics

Surfacing

Purity

Get This

Eeyore

Scissors

Jump to 2001-2002 and the Iowa tour, the setlist inched up to 12-13 songs with two intros. Seven songs from the previous tour reappear plus one more from self-titled, and six are added from Iowa:

People = Shit

Disasterpiece

Gently

New Abortion

The Heretic Anthem

My Plague

Now we move to Subliminal Verses Tour 2005. With the new album, the setlist grows to 17 songs. For this tour, Slipknot adds: (the most from any album added to a tour)

Prelude

Blister Exists

Before I Forget

Left Behind

Vermillion

Pulse of the Maggots

The Nameless

Everything Ends

Duality

Get This (self-titled)

Now let’s jump forward to the All Hope is Gone tour in 2008. For this tour, the average setlist had 15 songs. In addition to the new songs from AHG, Liberate makes another appearance after being left off the last tour and Only One from Self-Titled makes an appearance. AHG songs are numbered to two:

Dead Memories

Psychosocial

In 2015, Slipknot toured .5 The Gray Chapter. They go back to 17 songs and add five tracks from the new record. In addition to the new songs, they add Vermillion and Sulfur. New songs:

Sarcastrophe

The Devil in I

AOV

Killpop

Custer

Opium for the People – first time since 2004.

My Plague- first since 2002

Purity- played a few times

In 2019, Slipknot began touring We Are Not Your Kind. The only song on the initial part of the tour was Unsainted and the Halloween released All Out Life. The band began adding more, including Solway Firth before Covid hit and cut it short. Slipknot also broke out Prosthetics, a fan favorite and periodically played Eyeless.

If Slipknot tours a 17 song set, which is average for the past few years, here is a potential list. I will hold out two spots for new material- Chapeltown Rag and one new one from the new record to be released this Spring. That follows their approach to WANYK. So the remaining 15 songs are made from classics, to songs not played in a while, to a few that have never been played:

People = Shit– every tour

Surfacing- every tour and the Maggot anthem

Spit It Out – because we need to jump the F up

(sic)– well because it’s sic

The Heretic Anthem– a must

Disasterpiece– classic and reminds me of Joey

Duality– Clown needs a song to bat a keg

The Devil in I– makes sense to represent .5

My Plague– It’s been a minute- love this one live

Pulse of the Maggots– rarely on the setlist- another sort of anthem

Liberate– rarely on setlist

Eyeless– fan fave and doesn’t typically make the main cycle- and AMAZING

Blister Exists– Been a while since it was in the main setlist

Gematria: The Killing Name– never played live

Spiders– never live- as the group continues to evolve, this could be really cool live

Or

Critical Darling- never played live- it has the chorus that Corey loves these days

Of course, this will probably not look anywhere near the actual setlist, but it’s fun to think about. I think many of us would love to see a resurgence to a lot of older material, but let’s be honest here- we are going to get the classics, some new songs off the new record, a few more off of WANKY since they didn’t get to complete the tour, and a mere few that are dusted off for our pleasure. Can’t wait to find out when Slipknot hits the road.

For more music news, click on the Music News tab.



Read More: Corey Taylor – Slipknot ‘Dusting Off’ Old Songs for Upcoming Tour | https://loudwire.com/corey-taylor-slipknot-old-songs-upcoming-tour/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

Beauty in Chaos is back with “Behind the Veil”

Beauty in Chaos, the lovechild of Michael Ciravolo, is back with their third studio album, fifth if you count remix records. This time, Ciravolo has chosen six powerful women to helm the microphone on Behind the Veil. Each woman is unique, bringing something entirely different than the others, yet all fit seamlessly on the record. Credit here to Ciravolo and Michael Rozon for creating music to match the muse while keeping the quintessential nuance that is Beauty in Chaos.

Afterlife

The first song is Afterlife, which features Tish Ciravolo on vocals. The wife of Michael, she is a musical powerhouse, playing bass on previous records, writing lyrics and singing my favorite song on this record. Afterlife is built around questions people ask when facing death or thinking about their own mortality. The short questions delivered in slow measured verses crawl around in your brain as the pacing allows the listener to ruminate and connect to the singer. The questions are interrupted by a cool synth breakdown that breaks the pace and signals a change in the singer. As Tish sings we are lead to her conclusion. Perhaps we don’t know what is in the Afterlife, but we can do what is important now: love more people and pray for the rest. Ths song is beautiful and a message that this world needs right now.

The Kiss of the World

The second track is The Kiss of the World featuring Elena Alice Fossi. I recently reviewed that one here.

Not Your fault

The third track on the record is Not Your Fault by Pinky Turzo. Turzo has the most distinctive voice on the record. At first, I was taken aback. It’s so different than the others Michael has invited on. However, after a few listens, I really gravitated to her sound. She sings the mellow verses, beautiful soaring choruses, and soft pre-breakdown whisper with equal passion. The lyrics tell of a person who desperately wants to help another ,but nearly gives up through the struggle. In the end, love wins out:

It’s not your fault

Just look into my eyes

Trust this love you see

It’s not your fault

That you were dealt this hand

Let me take it from you

Pinky Turzo was the perfect choice for this song. Again, Ciravolo’s choices are impeccable on these records.

Orion

The fourth track features Whitney Tai. This was an early release and I reviewed it here.

Open Wound Heart

The penultimate track is Open Wound Heart featuring Cinthya Hussey. As usual, the music is perfect for the song. The guitars drive the tone and mood. But for me, it’s the lyrics all day and twice on Sunday. I love poetry. I love word choice. I love cool word play. I love words that allow me to exist in a moment experienced by someone else. What a way to start a song!

Sunset sets her senses on fire

While Gods and Demons rally to conspire

Screaming scarlet scars

Howling unclad under the stars  

An incandescent soul

Plowing on glowing in an ice cold world  

The stage is set for what is outside of our control. The singer, or protagonist, is at the mercy of a cold world, the gods, or perhaps an unrequited love or love lost. Throughout her struggle, there is a sense of desperation here as: “With her desires undisclosed, she stares and blinks in morse code.” Who will come to her rescue? She is vulnerable and suffers from an Open Wound Heart. Maybe giving in to it all is the answer. Who knows? Eros may have something to say before it’s all said and done. Beautiful song with no clear answers and beautiful poetry.

Grasp the Stars

The final track on the record is Grasp the Stars featuring Betsy Martin. This song has the hardest edge of all the songs on the record. Ciravolo’s guitar is cutting and angry, and even offers a little tasty feedback. Conventional drums here are replaced with drum programming from Michael Rozon. Martin’s vocals are unconventional and work well above the harder edge presented here. She is raw and emotional, belting out the lyrics almost as if she is trying to convince herself that, “It’s not that bad, it’s not that hard- cool down, it’s not that bad.” This song exudes desperation both lyrically and musically. Great album closer.

With the third record, Behind the Veil, Ciravolo has done it again. His core team of Beauty in Chaos is able to switch out the parts over and over again and create new gems. As with the other albums, Ciravolo has invited some folks to create remixes. The remixes can be ordered as part of a 2 CD set. See what the buzz is all about. Go to beautyinchaosmusic.com and place your order now. Music ships on 2/22/22.

Bend for Eleven – Pure Gold

Bend for Eleven is back. For the band from Thessaloniki, Greece, it has been nearly two years since their release of Rebel Day- their last full length album. You can find a review of the album here. Last April, Bend for Eleven released another single: Feel Me. It saw the band stretching and delving into new territory. Great song- check it out here.

Yesterday, December 21, Bend for Eleven released another single: Pure Gold. Like their previous offerings, the music is simply enjoyable upon first listen. The band has an excellent control of melody and rhythm. Pure Gold is a vocally driven song. After a brief guitar intro, the vocals are relentless for the next two minutes. The message here seems to reflect the temperature in Greece at the moment. The rich getting richer on the backs of the poor in a struggling economy. The problem- no one is fighting back any more. There is an acceptance, a malaise that has taken place.

“In a sea of mishaps,

I saw something odd

Noone fights nobody

for nothing’s wrong no more, I sense the

silence.

I’m in doubt, I feel so lost”

Of course, the lyrics are cleverly written so that anyone can make meaning in their own lives. Who hasn’t been taken by a conman and wanted to get even? We’ve all walked in those shoes.

“Yeah! I want you to know that….

All the words I hold back

Are moments with a conman

Who serves you for pure gold.

It has been so wrong but…

if you do the math right

the result’s a payback

And that is your pure gold.”

At the 2:25 mark, we get an excellent breakdown with clean guitar notes, and underlying smooth bass beat, quick snappy drums with a chorus of vocals over the top- “lose control.” This is an excellent respite from the frantic nature of the song and the powerful vocals. It then returns to the chorus and catchy beat to close the song. Pure Gold is relatively short, clocking in at a little over three minutes. What it lacks in time, it definitely makes up for in energy and passion.

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjR0_x1GF_U

   

Pure Gold is more in line with the songs on Rebel Day than the single Feel Me, and is another excellent addition to Bend for Eleven’s catalogue. Head over to Apple Music, Spotify or Soundcloud to check it out. Bend for Eleven has spun pure gold with Pure Gold….pun intended.

You can connect with the band on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=bend%20for%20eleven

Make sure to bookmark the Wanderings and Woolgathering music page so you don’t miss a single revie

Sheltering Sky- Army of Me

In 1995, Bjork released her second solo album, Post. It featured a song called Army of Me. It was a personal song for Bjork that featured heavy synthesizer and a John Bonham sampled drum beat. In 2005, Army of Me was covered by various artists for a charity record. Flash forward to 2021, another artist and project is giving Army of Me a new look.

I’m not sure I understand why people are so eager to cover Bjork. Anytime an artist covers a song, being compared negatively to the original is a real fear, especially when being compared to Bjork. She is pure inspiration, original, and beloved by most every music fan…..oh, and did I mention she has an amazing, sometimes quirky voice with a huge vocal range? 

So, if you want to create a new version, what do you do?

Chuck Wright from Quiet Riot had a pretty good idea- do what he does best, rock! The original version features heavy synth throughout and drum samples. He wisely changes that here. The synthe is still present, but nestled into the background. The foreground has been replaced with guitar- not heavy chords, but more sparse, drawn out, individual notes. Towards the end of the song, Lanny Cordola from House of Lords breaks into a traditional guitar solo to close the song. The drums, which were originally samples of John Bonham on When the Levee Breaks, are now actual drums. The changes here from industrial synthe to rock create a very different version, but both equally support the power of the lyrics and message. Of course, having a song built around a rhythm section created by John Bonham lends itself to a rock treatment, so it was an easy choice. (When the Levee Breaks is actually a song written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, but made famous by Led Zeppelin)

Now to the real problem of covering Bjork- finding a singer who can deliver a powerful performance without being a knock-off Bjork mimic. Wright could have chosen someone a little more quirky like Billie Eilish, but wisely chose Whitney Tai who recently won Best Vocalist at the Intercontinental Music Awards. Tai has her own style, her own voice, and it’s powerful. For those who aren’t familiar, check out songs like Surrender off of her most recent album Apogee or Enigma off of Metamorphosis in 2015. On both, Tai shows a deep dynamic range. On Army of Me, it is no different. Tai approaches the verses and the chorus differently. She sings slowly, impassioned on the verse as she implores the listener to be better, to get up and do what’s right. On the chorus, her voice soars, hitting bigger notes as she gives the ultimatum- do what I say or meet an Army of Me. 

What Chuck Wright and company have done so well here is adapt a personal song from 1995, widening its message to a 2021 society that needs the message. He uses Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the video to bolster the point of doing what’s right in the face of adversity. The song and the video are beautiful re-imaginings of the original. 

Army of Me is the first song off of Chuck Wright’s Sheltering Sky record which is coming in 2022. The record features over 30 guest performers including members of Mr. Big, Skid Row, Tesla, Dream Theater, Asia among many others. And for those of us who are fans of Whitney Tai, this is not the only song on which she sings. If this song is any indication, The Sheltering Sky sounds like an album worthy of our attention.

Come back to Wanderings and Woolgathering podcast and website for album reviews.

Beauty in Chaos – The Kiss of the World

Beauty in Chaos’ next record won’t be here until February or March, but never fear fellow Chaosians, Michael Ciravolo and the gang behind Beauty have dropped another single to whet our appetites. Back in September, Orion, featuring Whitney Tai, was released. You can find our review here. Yesterday, the second single dropped. It is called The Kiss of the World and features Elena Alice Fossi of Kirlian Camera, among other ventures.

When this video showed up in my inbox last night, I was elated. I love new music and I love to see what our old Wanderings pal Michael is up to. It does come with a little trepidation because I don’t write negative reviews. Someone else can put negativity in the world. I’m independent and prefer to share all things awesome. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to turn him down. Instead, I get to share another gem with the world.

For those who have followed Beauty over the past few years, this will fill that same niche with that hallmark sound that highlights various singers. This time, Michael has chosen Elena Alice Fossi. Fossi is best known musically for her time with Kirlian Camera, a synthe-pop (for lack of better classification) band that has been around since the late 70s. Fossi joined in 1999 and has been with the band ever since. The band is heavily layered with synthe using Fossi’s voice as a bit of an instrument. Fossi can be tender and soft. She can deliver full, rich vocals to compete with the best pop vocalist. She can be angry, with some grit in her voice. And, the band plays with the vocals electronically. If you haven’t listened to them, it is quite an experience. I recommend I Became Alice off of Cold Pills. 

On The Kiss of the World, Fossi uses her full range against a very different background. Beauty in Chaos does use synthe and some effects to create texture and mood, but is much more guitar driven than Kirlian. Beauty is fresh, but does have one foot in the post-punk movement. Those guitar notes and grooves take me back to Disentegration every time. (And that’s a great thing by the way) After a brief musical intro with soft rhythmic drums and simple guitar notes, Fossi begins singing softly, beautifully while delivering biting lyrics. “If I look at you now that mocking wrinkle takes your face. No, it’s not a simple mark of time. It tells me about your crimes…” This juxtaposition works hauntingly. A woman scorned then belts out the chorus. Fossi here hits those high notes and flexes her voice, only to return to a soft verse to continue the story. This back and forth continues until triumphantly our protagonist in the song, opens her eyes, sees the truth and breaks free. It builds in a way that creates tension throughout using music and lyric to its fullest effect.

With Orion and The Kiss of the World, Beauty in Chaos is well on its way to another fantastic record. Somehow, Ciravolo picks the perfect singer for each song. It is truly a gift to not only find these folks, but to get them to commit to the project. You can tell on each song that there is no coasting. And here again, Elena Alice Fossi delivers an amazing performance to a fantastic song.

For more info on Beauty in Chaos head here.

And now your truth is like snow,
it is melting with every step of the sun
Talk, talk Spit out your side of the story again.
Move your arms with your winning look
I’m not falling for that!

If I look at you now that mocking wrinkle takes your face.
No, it’s not a simple mark of time.
It tells me about your crimes,
tells me about a coward, hidden in the shadow of false clemency,
where you trapped the light under the covers of a golden bed.

Shut up for a moment
and listen to the black muse!
Then break the chains around your dome.
Nothing’s the same, no more …

We were so close at that time.
The days were short and the fear seemed gone.
Hey you, do you remember at the rides?
You were talking about how life is a good cake.

I’d have listened to you for hours
but reality roughly came,
changed the cards on the table,
Nothing’s the same, no more

Now your soul is Satan’s fresh meal, your blood his wine.
You fell asleep in the lost maze of the undead,
where you now lie with everyone else.
And your mask has now lost its thickness.

My eyes see the truth now.
Here’s to you the noose you deserve
or break the seal, break the chains, come to my side
and break the flag of the shallowness.
And break the chains, listen to the black muse

The black muse …

Come back to Wanderings and Woolgathering for more music reviews.

Beauty in Chaos – Orion and Happy Birthday

Michael Ciravolo’s love child Beauty in Chaos is back this week with a new single, Orion. This week also marks the third anniversary of their original release Finding Beauty in Chaos. You can find our review of that here: Wanderings and Woolgathering.

It’s certainly a big week for the Schecter Guitar president, and one worth mentioning for those not familiar with the project.

Michael Ciravolo is known for forming Human Drama in the 80s and later for his time playing guitar for Gene Loves Jezebel. While he still performs with both on occasion, while still managing to run a company, much of his attention now is on his project Beauty in Chaos.

Michael works with his friends like Michael Rozon, his wife Tish, and a slew of artists he asks to participate on the tracks. For me, and the rest of the Wanderings crew, we were thrilled to listen to works from Robin Zander, Dug Pinnick, Ice T, Al Jourgensen and Simon Gallup. But the real beauty of this project is not just listening to our faves, but the introduction to new artists.

I had never heard Ashton Nyte before. After a quick search, I’m suddenly listening to his solo work and his music with the Awakening. Kat Leon has become a favorite of all of us on the pod. We love her voice and her vision with Holy Wars. And, I’ve really come to appreciate Wayne Hussey. He has an wisened, grizzly voice that begs for attention.

So, who does Michael highlight on Orion? It’s Whitney Tai. Tai has two albums: Metamorphosis in 2015 and Apogee in 2020. She has a beautiful voice that soars when needed, but can equally nail the quiet moments. Her albums tend to lean more pop than the usual Ciravolo choices for vocals.

So, what do Ciravolo and Rozon do? They tone down the guitar; it’s subtle here. It gives way to some texture and mood. Tish, too, is dialed back on bass. Instead, they allow Tai’s voice to breathe here and take control of the song. That’s not to say that the music isn’t solid, because it is. Ciravolo provides his usual post-punk guitar sound while also adding a tasty break near the end with percussion moving to the forefront while he provides clean notes alongside. Tai rides the wave here with her lyrical-less vocals soaring above the whole. Great choice to use actual drums rather than electric drums here.  The song works because the Michaels know how to highlight Tai’s talent while playing to the groups own strengths. That is why this project is so successful- great musical choices.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the video. Michael may be the most down to earth guy, but he can still play the music star when he needs to. The video is polished and feels like Hollywood. Great visuals, composition and fog giving way to a first person camera moving through a chess set. Like the song, the video highlights Tai front and center. Song and video are a great marriage.

It’s nice to hear the band back with another outstanding track for what will hopefully be part of their fourth album. What Michael Ciravolo is doing here is worthy of your attention. If you haven’t checked them out, go back to the beginning and listen through to Orion. You will enjoy the ride. For more music reviews, check us out: Wanderings and Woolgathering. 

Rush Top 25 Songs

Last week, I picked my top five Rush albums , and there is no stopping now. This week, I am picking my top 25 Rush songs. It’s a huge task, but I am here to generate some talk and show some of you just how wrong I am.

For a fun twist, fellow Rush fan Alan Tiresias is joining me. He politely called out my top five list last week and added his own.

https://twitter.com/alantiresias/status/1450592966087790596?s=20

So, it seemed only right to add him to the fun. Without further ado, Rush Top 25 songs.

25.

Steve: How It Is – Fantastic song from Vapor Trails- a bit of a folksy song with a cool bass line. I use it for inspiration. A little imagination can take me from how it is to how it ought to be.

Alan: Bravado-Lifelong advice!!!

24.

Steve: Bastille Day – Powerful Rush song. I love the allegory here using an historical event to teach us a lesson for the present day: “guide the future by the past.”

Alan: War Paint-teenage advice

23.

Steve: Bravado – I love this song for the message, “we will pay the price, but we will not count the cost,” and I love the complex, yet more subtle drumming.

Alan: Mystic Rhythms-love the drums

22.

Steve: Red Sector A – An emotional song inspired by Geddy’s mother’s experience in a concentration camp. The source alone makes this one unique, but as usual, Peart is non-specific enough to be about anyone in that situation.

Alan: Middletown Dreams-Did they get out of Middletown?

21.

Steve: Losing It – Heartbreaking song about aging out of what you were once good at, but are now unable to do. As I age, I can see this much more differently than I did when it came out. Plus, it has a nod to Hemingway. You can’t beat that.

Alan: The Trees-Was used in my undergraduate philosophy class

20.

Steve: Mystic Rhythms – This is a unique Rush song, often overlooked. I love the philosophy of this one. The grandeur of nature and our connection to it if we let it happen. It has a cool, funky beat with the keyboards so plentiful at that time.

Alan: Red Sector A-One of my favorite songs from my favorite album

19.

Steve: Fly by Night – Absolute classic. I imagine that most fans have this one much higher than I do. Great song for sure, just not my favorite.

Alan: YYZ– Heavy chops

18.

Steve: Jacob’s Ladder – great song depicting a natural phenomena. I love the build up, bass line and pay off in this 7 minute song with sparse lyrics. The imagery of the clouds preparing for battle before the rays peaking through is brilliant.

Alan: Red Barchetta– Another great song with visualization

Rush Top 5 Albums

Scrolling through Twitter, I see Top 10 charts for songs, albums, guitarists, etc, and, heck, I’ve even done a few. They are subjective and really just great starting points for talk amongst fans who love music. I have shied away from doing Rush because all of the albums and songs are like my kids- it’s hard to choose my favorite. Alas, after disagreeing with various charts, it’s time for me to put up or shut up. So, without further ado, my top five Rush albums. These are not what are considered the most significant or albums that I think are the tops in terms of popular opinion. These are simply my top 5- the ones I go back and listen to the most.

Rush Clockwork Angels
Photo Courtesy Rush

5. Clockwork Angels – This may come as a surprise to many Rush fans, as it came late in the discography; in fact it was the last studio album release. Sadly, there is a rift among Rush fans with some fans falling off shortly after Moving Pictures when the music became increasingly experimental. Those of us who dug in and followed along were in for some huge treats. Clockwork Angels is one of those treats. The album was released with a novel of the same name. The album does not need the novel, but enjoying them together is a rare treat when music marries story. CA brings back the heavy more satisfyingly than previous releases since the mid 90s. Caravan and BU2B kick off the album and it doesn’t let up. Like early thematic albums, this one keeps a consistent story while providing individual gems like Headlong Flight and The Wreckers. And, the true reason this album holds such a high place in my heart is the final song, The Garden. Satisfyingly, The Garden is the last song to appear on any record and it is the most fitting way to finish a career as a band. “The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect. The way you live, the gifts that you give.” I would say no other line encapsulates the life of Neil Peart and the gifts that he has given each of us. If you slept on this one, read the book and give it a listen. You will be glad you did. If you are interested in more discussion about this record, check out Liza McClellan from Devah Quartet and me as we discuss the album and novel here at Soundcloud.

Rush 2112
Rush- 2112 Album

4. 2112 – If I ever have 20 free minutes, this is the one I break out. Every time I listen, it sounds as fresh as it did the first time I heard it. I didn’t hear it when it first came out; I was born in 1971 so I would have been pretty young to appreciate it fully. I came to enjoy it in the mid 80s, but really fell in love after reading Anthem in college. At that point, I was more appreciative of the intricacies of music and able to appreciate what Neil had done with the story and lyrics. There are parts of the song that still floor me today, such as the “learning of music” when our protagonists finds the instrument. It’s powerful at times, soft at others, a true masterpiece. I would probably put 2112 a little higher, but I don’t love the rest of the record. I really like Lessons and enjoy Passage to Bangkok and Something for Nothing, but they are not songs I go back to frequently. I rarely listen past 2112.

Rush_Permanent_Waves
Rush Permanent Waves

3. Permanent Waves – This was my first entry into Rush. I was eight years old and my brother bought the vinyl. I remember recording it onto a cassette tape and taking it with me everywhere. What I didn’t know at the time was that this album had everything that made Rush what they are. It was a bridge of sorts from the concept records to more radio friendly offerings. The Spirit of Radio, Freewill and Entre Nous brought Rush to a whole new group of listeners, while Jacobs Ladder and Natural Science lent itself to the prog rock basics that fans of the previous records loved. As I grew older, I appreciated that fact more and more. it was a huge step and one that was made successfully. I see Permanent Waves as the first of what became a trio of excellence. The only I song I didn’t mention from this record is Different Strings and it’s a beautiful song. Interestingly, it doesn’t get played live, ever due to a Hugh Syme piano addition. Adds some mystique to the record. That’s why it is #3 on my list.

Rush Moving Pictures
Rush Moving Pictures album

2. Moving Pictures – The only surprise with this choice for most would be that it isn’t number one. What can be said about this album that hasn’t already been said? It is literal perfection; it’s an album that can be listened to from beginning to end every time. For me, this album hit at a great time. I was 10 years old and gaining my musical tastes. Thankfully, my brothers had amazing stereo equipment and bought the record. I spent hours laying on the bed listening while looking at the cover and liner notes.  This album is so strong if you made a list of top ten Rush songs, four of these could appear by a large part of the fanbase: Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ and Limelight. For me, YYZ is the highlight here. It’s prog perfection. I get giddy every time I put on my headphones and hear the panning of the chimes morse coding YYZ. That isn’t to say that the rest of the album isn’t great because it is. Another highlight is Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear)- it’s part of four songs dedicated to different aspects of fear. Would we expect anything less from Rush? I think not.

Rush_Signals
Rush Signals Album

1. Signals– My favorite all-time Rush album is Signals. This may come as a surprise to some, but I think there is a fairly substantial love for this record. It sits firmly in the early 80s movement to synth, yet still hits with guitar solos and powerful drumming. For me, though, this album hits perfectly with the themes. (Perhaps the theme of Analog Kid is similar to Clockwork Angels and that’s why I hold it so high.) Subdivisions is very strong in synth, probably the strongest to date at that time. The lyrics explain a restlessness of youth. The ordered life of a “subdivision” does nothing to sooth that restlessness. The Analog Kid sits firmly in this dilemma. He eyes what the big city may offer, but will it be better than his current life. He doesn’t know what he’s hoping to find or what he is leaving behind. Digital Man is already entrenched in his future- moving at breakneck speed toward death. New World man seems to have found the balance. Perhaps I feel this more distinctly since I work with kids who face this on a daily basis as I work myself to death:) And, this album offers a gem that rarely gets discussed, Losing it. Seemingly a nod to Ernest Hemingway, it’s a poem in its truest form, both in scheme and message. It sits perfectly on this record about aging greats dealing with the impossibility of returning to form. “The bell tolls for thee…” indeed. Musically this album is perfection.

Next week, I will be choosing my Top Ten Rush songs of all time. Come back to Wanderings and Woolgathering to find out what songs make the cut.

Slipknot Iowa- 19th Anniversary

Slipknot Iowa Retrospective

On August 28, 2001, Slipknot released their sophomore album, Iowa. There was a lot of expectation and high hopes following the release of their self-titled debut in 1999. (Mate, Kill, Feed, Repeat aside) The record executives were looking for something more radio friendly, something more palatable. The boys from the 515 delivered an answer that spat in the face of convention. They would be no one’s puppet. They would not sell out. “All the money in the world can’t buy me.” Oddly enough, that attitude and ferocity endeared fans to the band- their debut album likened them to other nu-metal bands, but Iowa separated them and defied expectations which truly birthed maggots for the long haul.

This day marks the 19th anniversary of Iowa. For me, it really marks my start with the band. Self admittedly, I was not a maggot on the first record. Somehow it flew under my radar. I’ve told this story on the Wanderings and Woolgathering podcast. Basically, I was introduced to the band by my 8th grade student who burned a copy of the record for me. One listen to the insane drums, fierce guitar riffs and truculent lyrics- I was sold and still am.

The beautiful thing about Iowa is that it still stands up today as a tour de force in terms of metal albums. The album digs in emotionally with Sid’s screams over the death of his grandfather on 515 and then doesn’t let up from there. The next five songs: People = Shit, Disasterpiece (amazing drum cam footage here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4y1HPrKa8I, My Plague, Everything Ends and the Heretic Anthem are arguably the most solid five songs in a row on any album in history. Throw in Gently and Left Behind which follow, and there is no stopping this album. The Shape is aggressive but offers some softer more melodic moments and then I Am Hated takes us back to Self-titled a bit with some rap and dj moments. And then, Skin Ticket- the enigmatic fan favorite. “Come see my cage, built in my grain”- allusion to the state of Iowa or clever word play on “migraine? Don’t know- don’t care- love it! The New Abortion screams for individuality and self actualization. Metabolic- “My demise, I took a life worth living and Made it worth a mockery”- don’t throw it away folks. And finally, Iowa- the behemoth album closer. It has a crazy backstory and an even more crazy recording story. It is the punctuation on the album and indicative of the treasure that Iowa is. Here is a brutal performance of Heretic Anthem on the Conan O’Brien show during the album cycle.

Slipknot has six albums, yet none will compare to Iowa. Self-titled, Vol. 3- Subliminal Verses, All Hope is Gone, .5 the Gray Chapter and WANYK are all excellent albums. All are regularly on my playlist. Jay, V-Man and Tortilla Man are worthy replacements. The Knot will live on and I can’t wait for more “Music for the Maggots!” However, nothing will ever replace the ferocity, the aggression, the lyrics and the magic that is Iowa! Today- August 28- let’s celebrate by cranking Iowa to the Heavens. If you’re 555…..well, you know the rest. Stay Sic my friends.

Make sure you come back to WanderingsandWoolgathering.com for more music news. And be sure to subscribe to the Wanderings and Woolgathering podcast: linktr.ee/Wanderingsandwoolgathering

Winter’s Verge- I Accept

A few months ago, I became acutely aware of a burgeoning rock scene in Greece. We had Ody and Marianna from Project Renegade on our podcast and I reviewed another record from Bend for Eleven. There are other groups I will be addressing, but a very interesting band has caught my attention- Winter’s Verge. To categorize this band would do them a disservice. They are rock for sure, a little metal, a little symphonic and a whole lot ambitious.

On September 11, Winter’s Verge drops their seventh full length studio album called The Ballad of James Tig. It is a concept album with lyrics written by playwright Frixos Masouras. It is a nine song album with the following tracks:

1. It Begins 2. A Thousand Souls 3. Dead Reckoning 4. Timeless 5.  Khilagorak 6. I Accept 7. Blood on the Foam 8. The Sea 9. The Ballad of James Tig

Anyone who knows me or has listened to the podcast knows that an album like this is totally in my wheel house. I love concept records. Rush’s 2112 and Clockwork Angels are on my regular rotation. Iron Maiden’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner wowed me as a kid and led me to my favorite poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I even found a sweet spot for 21 Pilots following their last release, Trench, which we reviewed on the podcast.

Of course, these artists couldn’t be more different, but they all deliver concepts that successfully run through an entire album and tell compelling stories. At this point, we have only heard one small part of The Ballad of James Tig, but if “I Accept” is indicative of the entire record, we are certainly in for a treat. They recently released the lyric video, below:

Highlights for me: The song opens with a piano and a choir. Background ambience belies an intense scene. The rock portion kicks in with George Charalambous belting out lyrics that would make Bruce Dickinson proud. A beautifully ominous female voice joins midway during the break to add depth and foreboding. George returns following a technical guitar solo. For a concept involving the sea, we needed some proper tropes to make this familiar. We get them: seagulls, morning mist, a veil, a myth, a curse, guilt, etc. This song, and seemingly the record, seem to be on the right path. Can’t wait to hear the entire record and hear this tale. Be sure to check back for a full album review.

Check Winter’s Verge out and give them a Like at  https://www.facebook.com/WintersVerge

For more reviews, click on the Music News tab at Wanderings and Woolgathering.

Bend For Eleven- Rebel Day Review

Bend for Eleven is a rock band from Thessaloniki, Greece. Greece is a hotbed for exciting new artists; you can check my review for fellow Grecians- Project Renegade here. Like Project Renegade, Bend for Eleven has a lot to say, yet is relatively unknown in the United States. With Rebel Day, that could change quickly.

Rebel Day
Courtesy Bend For Eleven

Listening to Rebel Day for the first time, I find this album incredibly easy to listen to. It has that quality that says, “This band is good at their craft, understands rhythm and tempo, and lets the various members shine from song to song.” Without reading a single lyric, I loved this record.

Yeah Yeah Yeah

This song is an excellent choice for the album opener. It’s a rocker, it’s singable and it sends a message that the band is here on a mission. The song opens with a catchy guitar riff that feels both post-punk and grunge at the same time. The lyrics come shortly therein and are accompanied by a guitar break and some excellent work on the bass. The groove is deep and supports the vocals. The lyrics seem to be the band saying, we stepped away, reassessed and are now ready to conquer the world.

“Let the leaving build my strength now
Let the coming feed my soul”

“I can do it on my own now.”

The album opener is important. All great albums have them. Rebel Day is no different and Yeah Yeah Yeah is up to the task.

Rebel Day

Rebel day hits very differently with a quick snappy drum beat courtesy of Nikos Siaxabanis that leads to another catchy guitar riff. In many ways, Rebel Day is a throw back to heavier pop rock days. The enigmatic lyrics are aggressive and seem to point to the cost of rebelling, or casting off your old self. Rebel Day feels familiar and fresh at the same time.

All of My Memories

All of My Memories starts with a climbing guitar groove. The vocals soar on this one, like the aforementioned guitar groove. Lead singer Antonis Tsars does an excellent job with emotion and inflection. Again, the theme of succeeding in light of that past recurs- defeating the enemy.

My Inner Sight

My Inner Sight is the longest song on the album. It is a nod to prog rock in the best of ways, recalling elements of Tool. It’s a slow builder that adds elements as it progresses. Simple guitar notes and sparse drums lead to heavier drums and added guitar weight. The tempo picks up leading to the vocals. Like the beginning instrumentation of this song, the feelings are lying right below the surface. The speaker can’t outrun his demons which are deep inside and surface repeatedly. The marriage of music and lyrics is perfect here. Truly an excellent version of prog rock. And, the video, well I will just leave that here. Wow

Project Renegade- Order of the Minus

Project Renegade- Order of the Minus Review

Project Renegade:

Vocals: Marianna

Drums: Ody

Guitar: Nick K

Bass: Jay

Order of the Minus marks the first full length album from the Greek foursome. Formed by Marianna and Ody in 2014, they released three songs under the single title Cerebra in 2017. Order marks their most ambitious effort to date as Project Renegade (PR) comes out of the gates swinging with a seriously biting collection of songs. It’s interesting that a band in its relative infancy could produce an album this tight, aggressive, and musically diverse while delivering a clear consistent message of change, hope and desperation. And that is exactly what we get.

The Big Boss

The album opens with a speech explaining that the government is the most successful group of gangsters of all. It explains that children are identified as subversive or revolutionary and must be rounded up. I was unable to find the source of this speech, but it was profound, ominous and set the tone for the entire record.  The tricky part about opening with a spoken word track means that the following track must land with heft and continue the message while hooking the listener with musical precision. I’m reminded of Slipknot’s self-titled “the whole thing I think is sick” followed by the fan favorite “Sic,” or Iowa’s “515- death” followed by “People =Shit.” Clearly the bands are very different, but the formula is the same….if done correctly. 

Liber8

Cleverly, Project Renegade opened Liber8 with warning sirens. The opening message is realized and the album begins to pulsate with aggression. Heavy guitar riffs ensue, occasional double bass drum kicks while Marianna sears our ears with beautiful soaring lyrics that bite with anger and rebellion. The message is clear in the chorus:

“Sick of the way we’re treated
We’re gonna rise against their lies and they will pay for everything”

It’s a song filled with melodic hooks, yet breaks frequently to remind us things are ugly. The most effective moment in the song takes place when the music drops away twice and Marianna sings:

“The reins of suffocation burn in every bone and vein”

“The tears for our salvation fuse all of our hate and pain”

Accompanying her haunting lyrics is a simple drum roll and snare drum giving a militaristic, marching feel. At this point, it is impossible not to take this song seriously.

Ashton Nyte – Waiting for a Voice

The time prior to an album release is kind of like being a kid a few days before Christmas. It’s not lost on me that that analogy is a bit silly considering I’m nearly 50, but it speaks volumes about my love of music and its effect on me. I’ve had this experience recently on the 40th Anniversary release of Rush’ Permanent Waves and Slipknot’s We Are Not Your Kind. And now, I’m completely chuffed about a release from a musician I only learned about a year and a half ago.

When I heard Ashton Nyte on A Beauty in Chaos‘ release Finding Beauty in Chaos, I was blown away. He was featured on Storm, which he re-envisioned and somehow made better, Bloodless and Fragile, and Finding Beauty in Chaos. I immediately searched his catalog and dug in. I found that he has 19 studio albums since 1997 both solo and in his band the Awakening. The albums are eclectic wavering between goth rock, post punk rock, straight up rock, and a little folk. As a listener, it’s exciting because you aren’t sure what you might get, other than brilliance. In the past few years, Ashton gave us a more upbeat, post punk album in Some Kind of Satellite ( and my favorite Ashton song Halo in the Dirt) and a seriously rocking song, Back to Wonderland, on the Awakening’s release Chasm.

Side Note: I wish I was aware of the Awakening in 2000. The Dark Romantics is a song that could make me visually remember where and when I first heard it.

So, that brings us to Waiting for a Voice. As I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect. His last two records, both solo and with Awakening, were a bit more upbeat. This one, like his live Facebook show, is more intimate and more poetic. That isn’t to detract from those other releases, it’s just that this one from a musical perspective, ethereal lyrics and visuals from the album and book lend itself to a soul baring bit of poetry.

Waiting for a Voice -The album opens with a short, melodic and sad song. It’s beautiful and haunting. The speaker speaks desperately to the ocean and a tearful willow waiting for a voice. It’s interesting to note the beauty surrounding him, yet he chases horizons- those things out of reach rather than reveling in what is. Perhaps, our speaker is at the beginning of a journey and is still a bit lost.

Ocean Song– Ocean Song opens with a groovy guitar and fingers sliding on the strings. The intimate nature of the song is clearly on display here as the instruments are stripped down allowing us to sit in the room with Ashton. This one is interesting in that in the album opener, he is listeneing for a voice, but here he is surrounded by voices. He needs to accept what they are saying. We can’t wait on what is not there.

This Isolation– This one opens with some beautiful guitar work with Ashton crooning over the top. It’s a sad song that offers hope. “Standing at the edge, but the story never ends.” I love that notion and the true poetic nature of those words can be used in any facet of our lives. That is the mark of an effective poet.

Has Anybody Seen My Love– Ashton begins singing here with a slight beat and chime in the background. As the first verse ends and the chorus begins, the song picks up with a heavily pronounced guitar. “My days of blurry echoes and with empty nights. The morning holds no promise without a light.” Ashton’s word play on this record is so clever. He is painting with broad strokes here so the listener can connect in a more personal way. I get the feeling that there is a very personal message here, but our message isn’t taken from us.

Dark Star– This one is a definite groover. It has a catchy guitar and vocal melody. The percussion kicks in and immediately invokes head nodding or foot tapping. Ashton’s vocals ebb and flow before a very cool keyboard-like string effect kicks in and takes this one to another level. “Dark Star in the sky, I wanted to be you. Your silent glow is so removed from the things I need to prove, from the cracks below the truth.” I’m not sure what the inspiration is here, but again, the speaker here seems to be looking outside of himself for answers. This motif is apparent throughout the album; sometimes the answers are out there and sometimes inside. The enigmatic nature will keep me guessing for a while.

I Asked For Nothing– This is a departure from the last song. It has a much more folksy feel. We continue our trip through nature. A man is washing his soul in the fountain. Again, nature may hold the key to our happiness or fulfillment. My favorite line on the album, or any other album I have heard recently appears in this song, “And there’s the truth meets pain, for comfort. We talk in rhyme just to prove we believe.” Paradoxically- I love this. Best song on the record.

Jack the Radio – Creatures

Creatures is the fourth studio album from Jack the Radio. It’s a fourteen song mix of southern rock, blues and country filled with a lot of heart and positive messages. For this release, Jack the Radio has paired with comics company A Wave Blue World to create an ambitious album/comic book experience. This, of course isn’t the first time music has been paired with a  visual medium. Recent examples like Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s Secret Path, or Stone Sour’s House of Gold and Bones comic series, or even Neil Peart and Kevin Anderson’s novel accompaniment to Clockwork Angels come to mind. This one, however, is different in that Jack the Radio has invited a number of different creators to bring their individual songs to life. It is a tapestry of visions. Like those other brilliant examples, this one is visually stunning. Upon listening and reading, does it hold up? Metalhead Mundy and I dig in to find out. 

Electric Haze and Introduction from George Hage

Steve: This is the only song without an illustrated story. Instead Mr. Hage gives us the intro to the issue and explains the concept. Electric Haze, like the intro, has no story or lyrics. It simply serves as a bluesy sampler for what’s to follow. The song starts with a slow driving beat and heavy guitars. It breaks shortly into it and leads into the slightly funkier Don’t Count Me out.

Don’t Count Me Out – art by Brandon Graham 

Steve: First of all, Don’t Count Me Out is an outstanding song with a bluesy sound, smooth vocals, and a positive outlook. The sequential art is spot on here with the lyrics serving as narration. Graham interprets the animals hanging out in a clever way and shows the moon secretly “conspiring” which adds to the battle for our protagonist Jack. As the song climaxes following Jack’s fall, the art show’s the metaphorical and literal fall ending with Jack breaking the fourth wall as he looks up following his fall on the beach, “But don’t count me out.” Powerful and inspiring. The story ends with a triumphant Jack with his hand in the air, “Walk on.” The marriage of story and music is well executed; the art truly enhances the experience. 

Trouble – art by Jorge Corona and Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Steve: Trouble is another song with a positive message. We will have troubles in our life, but we have the strength to persevere. Steel guitar meets keyboards here as Hage sings this slow builder. Jeanne Jolly joins Hage with backing vocals that  round out the sound and give it depth. The lyrics here are beautiful and poetic. The story shows the journey through life as a car ride for Jack to his next gig. There are boulders and dinosaurs, and highlights like space flight. Eventually, Jack finds his place at what appears to be a bar, guitar in hand. Cool concept for a simple, straightforward message. I really love the depiction of Jack here with suit and tie, magic eight ball on his keys. Another great entry. 

Metallica's Black Album, Mr. Bungle Show Dates, Lana Del Ray News

Wanderings and Woolgathering

Mid-week news:

Peter Murphy suffers heart attack

Metallica’s Black Album 28th Anniversary

Mr. Bungle reunites for select dates with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo’s assistance

Tool – Fear Inoculum track listing announced

Lana Del Rey notes:

Looking for America “All my proceeds from this song will go to Gilroy garlic festival victims relief fund, El Paso community relief fund and Dayton foundation.”

Stories To Tell In The Dark

Season of the Witch song

Movie trailer

Great Gatsby – Young and Beautiful

Norman Fucking Rockwell Release date: Aug 30

“Album Trailer”

CD/Cassette/Vinyl (lime green)

Intro and Outro Music by justplainpaul ©2019 JPP Creative Media