Thursday, February 23, 2017

Album Review: The Mantle - The Mantle

The Mantle
*** out of *****

The old adage, never judge a book by its cover is a decent phrase, but sometimes you need to throw it out the window. On The Mantle's self titled debut disk the cover has a purple sky, oceans, swirling clouds, planets shooting stars spaceships and old style schooners. If that doesn't scream prog-metal I am not sure what does.

The New York based three piece (Max Gorelick - guitar, Jake Miller - guitar, Asher Bank - drums) are instrumental experts, even on their first release the technique and talent are instantly apparent as the band weaves their way through thick and heavy passages of sound.

Opener "Dragons in the Purple Sky" sums up everything the band does well, soaring riffs, heavy fret-board action, tempo changes, acrobatic drum work all around an ear for melodic phrasing. The first comparison that comes to mind is Dream Theater as music nerds will rejoice with the cascading notes that flow out.

There are some variations, "Seabreather" amps up a bit of the stomp and heaviness, "The Feeling" is brighter, "Sisu" becomes frantic at the end, "Trident" is chunky/groovy, both "Virulian"and "A Sense of Scale" shoot for the grandiose. All however are in the same mold, firework instrumental work and lots of structured changes that paint pictures for the ears.

The album (like everything in this genre) runs long and can become monotonous at times even with all the skill on display. Less a knock on The Mantle in particular but the genre in general there is a robotic aloofness that doesn't feel soulful and can become background music after a few spectacular numbers. Keeping lyrics and vocals away are a smart move, but in doing so some of the humanity is removed.      

The trio continually race up and down the scales and cymbals as they flash their skills over and over again. For fans of progressive metal this band will scratch your itch, others may enjoy a few tracks and move on, but what can't be denied are that the Mantle have chops.
Another bandcamp find, support the band, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah Releasing The Centennial Trilogy

One of our favorite finds during our Jazzy January series was when last year we stumbled upon Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah and his fantastic Stretch Music. Now, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the first Jazz recordings from 1917 he will be releasing three albums.

The first album from the trilogy is called Ruler Rebel and the first single released is titled "The Reckoning" you can listen to it here:

We love the track, it sounds fresh and inventive as well as rooted in Jazz tradition. Here is some more info on the releases:
Collectively titled The Centennial Trilogy, the series is at its core a sobering re-evaluation of the social political realities of the world through sound. It speaks to a litany of issues that continue to plague our collective experiences. Slavery in America via the Prison Industrial Complex, Food Insecurity, Xenophobia, Immigration, Climate Change, Sexual Orientation, Gender Equality, Fascism and the return of the Demagogue.
The first release in the trilogy, Ruler Rebel, vividly depicts Adjuah’s new vision and sound – revealing Adjuah to the listener in a way never heard before via a completely new production methodology that Stretches Trap Music with West African and New Orleanian Afro-Native American styles.
Here is some more live music from him:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Album Review: Robert Randolph & The Family Band- Got Soul

Hey all, got a new review up @glidemag which you can read Right C'here!!!

It is of the newest release from Robert Randolph & The Family Band titled Got Soul

We have been a fan of the group since they literally got their start; RtBE were on board early with this band. We saw them live at one of their first performances at Wetlands and caught them every chance we could that year, including their (still) best release Live At Wetlands

The band (like most jambands) is just much better live than in the studio. Got Soul is OK, but they butter their biscuits each and every night they play to the sold out crowds. Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dylan Cover #264 Mountain "Highway 61 Revisited"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Mountain playing "Highway 61 Revisited":

This month we will focus on the band Mountain's fairly recent Dylan Cover album Masters of War

Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover of this tune:
A great blues rock number that has a touch of silly from Bob with the "Siren Whistle". The original version of this tune found on the album of the same name strikes me as a bit of a put on, Bob obviously loves the historic feel and the bizarre middle American heritage but the lyrics and whistle soften the blow. The track gets increasingly better in the live versions where Dylan's backers can rev up the honky-tonk and boogie down south as the group did for us up in Saratoga back in 2000. Tony Garnier the bass player for the group lead things on a thumping rollick in the encore and the band all hopped on board as Dylan sang about God/Abraham. It was the last rocker the group played that night putting fourth a ton of 6-string energy. (They would go on to finish with the crowd singing along to "Blowing in the Wind").

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
January we are going to focus on Mountain. Here is some info on the group, we have never really known them or been a fan outside of classic rock radio. Regarding the bands decision to do a full album of Dylan covers here is the rationale:
After 5 to 6 years on a recent worldwide Mountain tour, we were asked to record a new CD. During the touring Leslie heard Neil Young's rendition of Blowin in the Wind and decided to perform it acoustically at our shows. The reaction was clearly overwhelming leaving Les and I to a serious look, again, at the musical and political significance of Bob Dylan's repertoire. I personally felt that Leslie's vocal power would match the power in Dylan's lyrics. The melodies simple and direct would match Leslie's lyrical guitar expressions. The drum feels were spontaneous and most of the basic tracks were first takes in the studio. Personally, I just tried to punctuate the hell out of the song. It took about 3 years to contemplate exactly what Dylan material we would decide to record Mountain style. The final result is Mountain CD MASTERS OF WAR
Thoughts on Cover:
This one isn't our favorite this month as the "hard rock" posturing is a bit much. The swagger helps some songs, but not this one. Until next week...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Album Review: Sun Volt- Notes of Blue

Sun Volt
Notes of Blue
*** and 1/2 out of *****

The eighth studio album from the Jay Farrar led Sun Volt is a short burst of their Americana laced rock sound as Notes of Blue stands firm lean and true.

Farrar's lead vocals are terse and while there are flashes of Neil Young in delivery and songwriting the band has incorporated lots of sounds, but sticks to the main avenues of american popular music of the last eighty plus years. The opener "Promise of the World" and "Cairo and Southerners" are the most laid back tracks on the disk as a gloomy pedal steel sets the tone on the early song and a sense of resignation infuses the latter with acoustic picking and sparse piano.

"Back Against The Wall" is an ode to persistence and can be reflective of the current cultural political scene, of the bands career or of life in general as fuzzy guitars ring out. That blaring energy seeps into the next track "Static" that is aptly titled as gritty guitars buzz and white noise rage penetrates the speakers. "Lost Souls" also kicks up the rocking feel with slapping snares and strutting riffs to start before exploding into a full sonic gale to close.

The blues take center stage on a number of tracks as well, but these aren't your back porch summer time blues, there is an apocalyptic current running through all the tracks. "Cherokee St." has a swampy back woods aggression as the pace quickens, "The Storm" focuses on picking and sliding while "Midnight" plunges into the chaos and depths of the soul.  Closer "Threads and Steel" could be about the devil himself as the twanging blues smolders ending the disk on a creepy note.      

The track "Sinking Down" seems to combine all of what Sun Volt does well on this album as the tempo shifts between rocking and reflective over blues tinged lyrics and a sense of futility but one with a keen sense of melody and rhythm.

Combining country rambles, bluesy riffs and rock stomps the band shines confidently on Notes of Blue. While there is no standout individual offering, the overall sound of the disk will be welcoming to long time fans of the group and newcomers alike.
Support the band, buy the album, stream for a limited time over at NPR and peep some video below:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jason Isbell New Album and Tour This Spring

One of our absolute favorite songwriters going today, Jason Isbell, is coming out with a new album and will be touring behind it this spring. RtBE can not wait to hear it and see the fantastic band.
The group is touring this spring, playing NYC's Beacon Theater at the end of June (tickets on sale Friday) and we loved the last show we saw them play there. While the show (or shows) will be great, the album is even more anticipated.

According to an interview Isbell did with Rolling Stone, this one (still untitled) is going to rock a little more and will be credited to Isbell as well as his backing band The 400 Unit. RtBE are greatly anticipating this disk and can not wait to hear it.

Also announced recently, for Record Store Day in April the band will be releasing a cover album titled Live from Welcome to 1979. Covering some of our favorite Stones Songs (including the criminally underrated "Sway") as well as John Prine and Candi Stanton we are excitd to grab this one when it it comes out. 

Until then, lets check out some live Isbell and 400 Unit. Enjoy:


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Album Review: Meatbodies - Alice

Hey all, got a new review up @glidemag which you can read Right C'here!!!
It is of the Meatbodies newest album Alice. Albums like this are the reason we love to write for Glide. The kindly editors sent us this album and having never heard of the group we were super surprised it is solid. 

Fun stuff from these California boys and it is a freaky fun ride. Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below.