Thursday, July 2, 2015

Album Review: Mephiskapheles- Mephiskapheles

*** out of *****

When it it comes to the ska genre we don't have too many touchstones from our listening past, but the be all end all for RtBE has always been the NYC classic, God Bless Satan from Mephiskapheles. There are certain albums that will always be in the collection via all forms, vinyl, digital, CD and God Bless Satan has been there through thick and thin. It is with great joy that we find that the band is back together and writing new material, such as this recently released self titled album.

While not expecting it to approach one of our all time favorites this S/T album more then holds it own with crisp devilry horns, funky drums and feedback crunched guitars. Opening with the EP's best song "Satan Stole My Weed" the band continues its humorous romp through infectious horn hooks and shout along choruses.   

The old man get-off-my-porch of "Hell On Earth" bemoans reality TV as well as smart bombs and today's current horrors while a trumpet blare kicks off the upbeat dance heavy "Let Them Come". Things drag a bit during the sluggish "Snakes In The Garden" but the energy pops back up instantly for the ska-tastic "Friends Like You" before the disk closing "Any Fool".  

It is great to have one of the more interesting mid 90's NYC acts back in the saddle and creating fresh music again. Here's hoping Satan keeps inspiring these hell hounds.
Support the band here, buy the album or stream the album on their bandcamp page, or below:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Album Review: Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD- Sour Soul

Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD 
Sour Soul
*** out of *****
Ghostface Killah has been incredibly busy lately releasing an album a year since 2013 and this is the first of two scheduled for 2015. On his last effort, 36 Seasons, Ghost partnered with The Revelations a Brooklyn soul band who added a calming retro touch to the chaotic comic book/superhero story trying to be told. On Sour Soul Ghost has again teamed up with a live band, this time the Toronto based trip-hop/jazz outfit BADBADNOTGOOD, the result is a freer looser and more enjoyable effort then 36 Seasons but not a career milestone by any stretch.  

The band plays that retro soul style that fits the Wu Warrior's verses like a glove even managing to toss in a few instrumentals like the easy string laden "Stark Reality" or the horn blown "Experience" album closer. When the front man comes on though he does it in his trademark style, uncut repeating the ghetto war stories of yore and coming on the heels of 36 Seasons, he does have a feel of going through the motions as a lead MC. Far from poor he still links words and syllables effortlessly but there is a sense of having heard it all already that creeps in.  

Things are mixed equal measure for BBNG's smooth sliding beats and Ghostface's pimp rhymes ("Tone's Rap") or pumped up with energy when it is called for over crisp drums and keyboard choruses ("Mind Playing Tricks"). The guests add a nice texture update with Danny Brown injecting a verse for "Six Degrees" and Elzhi trumping Ghost's power on "Gunshowers".

The upbeat tone though is fleeting, the mainstay is the 70's retro soul vibe and BBNG perfectly play it, if without a distinct feel; if anything they replicate the sound too perfectly it almost feels sampled. The best combo of all the styles is the Tree helped "Street Knowledge" which rolls along effortlessly with musical flares from the ether and rhymes from the gutter.  

This album feels par for the course (not a major highlight far from a letdown) just more of the same smooth jams and gruff vocals, a pattern Ghostface has seemed to settled into nicely over recent years.
Support the artists here and here, buy the album here, stream the album here, and peep some video below:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Watt from Pedro Show with Rob Cambre

A pretty cool meetings of the minds as Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose, The Stooges) hosts his webased radio show and interviews a friend of ours Mr. Rob Cambre (Rough 7, Anxious Sound)  on his Watt from Pedro show which you can stream here.
The Watt from Pedro Show with Rob Cambre
Watt plays a lot of music (setlist is below) and Rob and Mike reminisce on their first meeting, Watt being scared to talk to Richard Hell and how Rob's obsession of overtones/distortion got him into playing guitar.

It is a long show (3 Hours!) with a lot of tunes and chatting. Fair warning if you are unfamiliar with Watt or Cambre, but the music presented here fits both of their styles, all over the map ranging from experimental noise to country hoedowns to rock. To be honest Mike isn't the best interviewer but Watt does do a good job explaining the lesser known artists he plays, lots of variety there from around the world.

For RtBE's money it is really cool to hear a lot of the experimental jazz Rob is playing such as "Kobo". I am pumped for Rob having interviewed him as well for Glide and hung with him in his home town of New Orleans. Congrats! 

hour one:

"naima" (alternate version - take 1, incomplete) john coltrane
"circle bar 3" dry bones trio

"kobo" (temporary title) cambre/miller/nakatani
"kamti beashmoret" barbez
"windshield smasher (longmont potion castle remix)" black moth super rainbow
"soup bones" umpio
"waitin'" banditos
"sakav da se zaljubam" bernay's propaganda
"not enough" the spacepony
"playing football" seb + the rahh dicks
"dead mouse in a fire bucket" howie reeve

hour two:

"circle bar 4" dry bones trio
"nineteen century man" can
"quicksilver" boris
"orion canyon" insect surfers
"thinkers mix" thollem/wimberly/cline
"light & grace" nudity

"preacher by day" rough 7
"grand inquisitor" surfer blood
"I am that I am" ben lee
"chat noir" panorama city
"wrong side" todd congelliere
"hurrying kids to hell" can can heads

hour three:

"circle bar 5" dry bones trio
"quit my job" fredrik kinbom
"alligator suitcase" atomic sherpas
"fairlane swain" murcielago
"dark blue sea" (no horns mix) labor camp
"eye rack" john wilkes booth
"shape shifting" family room

"one man army" gg allin & the jabbers
"smoking unit" revolver flavour
"the long game" no volcano
"I'm not in love" the father figures
"the aliens are trying to save us from ourselves" the peasants
"street light b" round eye
"have love will travel" the portugal japan


Monday, June 29, 2015

Dylan Cover #192 Abhishek Mukherjee "Love Sick"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Abhishek Mukherjee playing "Love Sick" 

Thoughts on Original:
From our first cover take on this song:
The opener on Dylan's 1997 classic Time Out Of Mind, signaled to the world, that the old bard had tons of great songs left in him. Considered by some (not RTBE) his comeback album  Time Out Of Mind showcased stark songs with biting lyrics and most importantly lush sounding production; Dylan ditched modern sound for one he liked better. The result was a true winner, no better seen then on this disk opener. Dylan identified with every human via the lyric, "I'm sick of love/and I'm in the thick of it". Who hasn't been there? A great song that kicks off a great album, it would be nice if he played it live though...  

Thoughts On Cover Artist:
I do not know Abhishek Mukherjee but a quick search reveals that he has a few other covers up on his youtube channel. 
Thoughts On Cover:
Abhishek talks us through how he recorded this version: 
I played my Yamaha F310P acoustic guitar through my Cort CM10G amp, and sang along, recording the first take. The guitar was kind of drowning off the vocals, so I had to record another vocal track later and add it to the video. I played a simple guitar solo also, and synced it over the chords in the appropriate place in the video, too. I made a backing track which contained some bass and strings as well, and I mixed all the tracks together finally, threw in some reverb, and this is what I got. The software which helped me were FL Studio 9, Sony Soundforge and Windows Movie Maker. Enjoy!
 It is a solid cover and a great way to start the week.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Full Show Friday: Mastodon 8/15/01 CBGB's, NYC

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...Mastodon!

 We have a special theme this month as we focus on full live shows from the historic NYC shithole CBGB's

We saw many a filthy show there, and while the bathroom was the worst in history, the sound was absolutely fantastic. Our only regret is that we never had a chance to play it. This month we focus on some of the great bands who did, tackling one show from each decade the venue was in operation. 

Well we skipped over some better quality shows to get to Mastodon from their early days because we wanted to reach each decade that CBGB's was open, so we got the 70's 80's 90's and 00's represented now this month and it is fun to see a young and lot less hairy Mastodon do their screeching metal from back in 01. We didn't like their recent album so much, in retrospect that star rating was too high, but this is a good show if the lyrics are almost inaudible. Hope you enjoyed this series, we have and we also found a bunch more shows that will pop up on future Fridays from the LES dive bar so fear not if we missed your favorite.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Album Review: Neil Young + Promise of The Real- The Monsanto Years

Neil Young + Promise of The Real
The Monsanto Years
** out of *****
Protest has lead to some of the greatest rock and roll ever. Whether rebelling against injustice, or oppression of any shape or form the angst that spews creative music is vital. Neil Young has built a career on this and he has been pretty haphazard at to what gets his goat from album to album.

This time out it is big business on the album titled The Monsanto Years, which finds Uncle Neil plugging in, fronting Promise of the Real whose normal leaders are Micah and Lucas Nelson, sons of Willie, playing the supporting roll here. The album is consumed with the sense that big business in the form of Monsanto (a multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation ) is strangling farmers and with the help of other corporations, hijacking the rights from every individual in this country. 

The songs spread the blame around, linking Starbucks ("Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop") Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ("Workin' Man") grocery chains like Safeway ("Monsanto Years") and all other big box stores ("Big Box") and even the individuals ("People Want To Hear About Love") into the problem. This isn't a clear thematic progression or rock opera though, it is more like a collection of gripes. That is fine and dandy if those issues fuse into more then melodically backed simplistic rants. In order for an album like this to be supremely successful an artist, especially one the caliber of Young, needs to transform an issue into an artistic statement that can't be denied (to borrow a phrase).

Unfortunately this album never rises to those heights or to much more then average electric roots rock with shoehorned lyrics about the big bad Monsanto. It is as if halfway through the project Young took to heart the lyrics of "People Want To Hear About Love" and decided he just didn't have the fire to burn down the evil corporations in these songs.

As for the backing of Promise of the Real, there is a tentative fit. Perhaps in Crazy Horses hands a track like "Rules of Change" would be exploited for that crucial underlying dark feedback rumble but here the players never full mesh. It is to be expected, and for a reference point one only needs to look at Mirror Ball, to see a great band not fit into Young's loose (possibly even tossed off) recording style.

Unlike Mirror Ball that wooly sense of abandon and energy is sacrificed for a loose half baked theme and probably the simple age of Young, also there is no "I'm The Ocean" (a criminally underrated recording/song/experience) to buoy the whole project. The Monsanto Years ends up being the worst thing a protest piece of art can be; dull.        
Always happy to hear Uncle Neil play electric, but this one felt undercooked in every way.

Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below:  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Album Review: Bully- Feels Like

Feels Like
*** out of *****

The Nashville quartets Bully's first release Feels Like is a packed bullet train ride with eleven tracks clocking it at just over twenty seven minutes. It is a warm summer album with tight poppy punk/indie rock playing and vocals provided by front woman Alicia Bognanno.

Backing up Bognanno is Stewart Copeland (not that one), Clayton Parker and Reece Lazarus as the young players provide deft work through a mix of feedback, basic rhythms and at the albums best moments dreamie rock."I Remember" starts things on the bands hardest edge with a screechy Bognanno recalling some not so fine moments urgently over poppy punk rock.

The band takes control leading things through various changes on "Reason" and the dream-pop first single "Too Tough". "Six" motors in a danceable rock and roll way, an overall sense of fuzziness is behind the songs but there is a distinct sheen of radio friendly polish buffed over all the tracks. "Trash" slows things down and puts a focus on the bass but even their sludginess and angst  the band still manages to sound pretty.      

The best thing the band accomplishes is keeping the tracks short yet still packing enough of a melodic hook for them to stick. Never do they overstay their welcome and Bognanno's female take on things lyrically, especially on tracks like "Trying", give the band an engaging twist. A solid first effort from the youthful band an enjoyable listen all around for rock lovers of any age.
Support the band here, buy the album here, peep some video below: