SOME STUFFS: The Reptilian make cuddling with lizards fantastico

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They are The Reptilian, and their Boy’s Life album (Count Your Lucky Stars) has been gathering a collective of approving thumbs from many. People love their brand of uncontrolled rock, although with many calling them “math rock” there has to be some kind of control and organization. What people like about them is how you can’t tell.

As they head out on tour, the group just recorded music tonight for a 4-way split LP, which means an album with them and contributions from their Count Your Lucky Stars labelmates: Annabel, Joie De Vivre, and Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate). With new music freshly recorded, they hit the road tomorrow. Here is their on road path:

DEC 30 – Dekalb, IL @ The Zappa Zappa Zappa House w/ Loose Lips Sink Ships, Joie de Vivre
DEC 31 – St. Louis, MO @ LEMP Arts Center w/ Cloud Mouth, Native, La Dispute
JAN 01 – Warrensburg,MO @ 141 Grover w/ Cloud Mouth
JAN 02 – Forth Worth, TX @ 1919 Hemphill w/ Cloud Mouth, Native, La Dispute
JAN 03 – Friendswood, TX @ Stevenson Park Pavilion w/ Cloud Mouth, Giant Battle Monster
JAN 04 – San Antonio, TX @ TBA w/ Cloud Mouth, Sohns
JAN 05 – Austin, TX @ Trailer Space Records w/ Cloud Mouth, Empire! Empire!
JAN 06 – Dallas, TX @ TBA w/ Cloud Mouth, Big Fiction
JAN 07 – Louisiana @ TBA w/ Cloud Mouth
JAN 08 – Little Rock, AR @ 315 Schiller w/ Cloud Mouth
JAN 09 – Memphis, TN @ TBA w/ Cloud Mouth
JAN 10 – Nashville, TN @ Little Hamilton Collective w/ Cloud Mouth
JAN 11 – Louisville, KY @ House of Wax w/ Cloud Mouth
JAN 12 – Chicago, IL @ Ronny’s w/ Cloud Mouth, Noumenon, Former Theives
JAN 13 – Kalamazoo, MI @ The Strutt w/ My Heart to Joy. Victor! Fix The Sun
JAN 14 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 3040 Hollister SE w/ My Heart to Joy, Victor! Fix The Sun
JAN 22 – Traverse City, MI @ American Legion Hall w/ La Dispute, Loudcat and Tiger

The band still needs help in a few of these days, so if you can be of assistance, please email

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: “I’ll Ram My Ovipositor Down Your Throat And Lay My Eggs In Your Chest But, I’m Not An Alien!” (5.9mb)

Bad Album Covers Of 2010: Rhymester’s “Manifesto”

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I’ve come across a number of “Worst Album Covers Of 2009” lists, so I’m working a year early. I came across this CD by the Japanese hip-hop group Rhymester, who have otherwise come out with some great music with decent artwork. Manifesto is their forthcoming album scheduled for release in February 2010, and… well, I don’t know what to make of it. I really hope this is just a fake image to boost awareness of the album. If not, how could they top this/make this any worse?

VIDEO: The Young Punx featuring Count Bass D’s “Ready For The Fight”

The Young Punx have put together a video for a song that features Count Bass D. The song is from The Young Punx’s forthcoming album, Mashpop & Punkstep, due out in February. The video was created by Han Hoogerbrugge.
The Young Punx – Ready For The Fight on MUZU

8’s From The 808: Cecilio & Kapono’s first album (1974)

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As far as Cecilio & Kapono‘s debut album for Columbia Records, it received as much airplay as Beyonce Knowles does today, you could not escape the power of C&K in the mid-70’s and who would want to. Not only did Hawaiians buy it, but transplanted Hawaiians who had to have this album. They were a bit like Hawai’i’s own Seals & Crofts, and people were proud of this. By being on Columbia, it of course made non-Hawaiians curious about this group that combined pop, rock, country, folk, and soul. The album frequently pops up at used record stores, thrift stores, and garage sales, proving its lasting power. Their cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “All In Love Is Fair”, with its lush orchestral arrangement, still brings a tear to the eye.

The album also reminds us transplanted Hawaiians of the “smile that are real”.

SOME STUFFS: Judas Priest gets the audiophile treatment

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Many heavy metal fans have wondered why albums in their preferred genre have not been given the audiophile treatment on a regular basis. I myself remember a time when heavy metal and hard rock on compact disc was feared because it was assumed the volume and clarity obtainable on a disc would damage stereo equipment. It shows how little we knew about CD technology back then, and of course how much we’ve progressed since the cold ages of digital.

Audio Fidelity will be releasing a brand new, 24k gold CD pressing of Judas Priest‘s classic 1978 album, Hell Bent For Leather. Known outside of the U.S. as Killing Machine, this new remaster was done by Steve Hoffman. To avoid confusion between the US and UK pressings, Hoffman used the American track listing for this, so it will feature their version of Fleetwood Mac‘s “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)”. The Audio Fidelity disc will be released on January 19th.

  • In addition to the audiophile CD, vinyl junkies will be pleased to know that Back On Black will be releasing most of Judas Priest’s Columbia output that featured Rob Halford as the lead vocalist, including 2005’s Angel Of Retribution (Halford left the band after the Painkiller tour in 1991). The albums that are not a part of this vinyl reissue program are oddly enough, their two live albums, Unleashed In The East and Priest: Live!.

    Since track listings on the Back To Black website also show the inclusion of bonus tracks featured on the remastered CD’s done by Jon Astley, fans are wondering if these LP’s are simply using Astley’s remasters. A number of Judas Priest fans have commented on various music boards that they did not like what Astley did to the albums, with a few hoping that they would use the original master tapes and have them worked on by someone who might do a better job. Nonetheless, the albums will be reissued throughout 2010, with Stained Glass and Sin After Sin making it out first on February 22nd.

  • REVIEW: Mary J. Blige’s “Stronger With Each Tear”

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic As the coffee slogan used to go, “MJB tastes good when it should”. Unfortunately in this case, MJB hasn’t tasted good in awhile, it’s that coffee that has been in the pot for too long, and even when there’s a moment in the cup with a good amount of flavor, you just wish you didn’t sip.

    I of course am not speaking of coffee, but am using to describe the musical MJB, Mary J. Blige. Stronger With Each Tear (Geffen) starts and ends with hints of the Mary she used to be. The opening track, “Tonight”, has her representing “me, myself & I” as she prepares herself for a good night ahead. After that it’s flatline. Blige has been “happy Mary” since her third album, and really since the success of “Not Gon’ Cry”, and nothing against that, but she no longer has the rich bluesiness that made her who she is. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that she remains R&B’s Billie Holiday or Janis Joplin, but then again it was Blige herself who said there was no more drama in her life. Now she comes off like a PTA mom, and the stories in her songs are just boring.

    Or if they’re not boring, they’re poorly written. Here’s an example from “Kitchen”, which has her using kitchen metaphors as advice to a man:
    See, I’m sorry but i’m have to shut them burners down down down
    So we can keep it cool
    Cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool, yeah
    See, I don’t need no extra ingredients
    There’s not enough cabinet space for two two two two two two two two

    To be honest, if you listen to it while imagining it as being a long lost Motown song, or really something Clarence Carter or Ruth Brown would have done to perfection, there’s humor. But there’s a slightly cheesy quality when Blige seems to sing it with force, which is unnecessary.

    Speaking of Motown, “In The Morning” is her Northern Soul nod, and oddly enough it’s boring, maybe because everyone else from Amy Winehouse and Solange Knowles has done it before, and better. Fortunately she saves the best for last in “I Can See in Color”, one of the deepest songs I’ve heard her do in awhile where she manages to reach a dark corner Prince has perfected in the last 30 years. I think a Blige/Prince collaboration would be great, but here it’s as if Blige remembered and admits to the darkness she used to sing about so well, and brought it back to say “this is why I was, this is still a part of who I am, let me sing this… but with courage”. It’s the Mary that made me a fan after loving the greatness of What’s The 411? and finding My Life to be her ultimate masterpiece.

    Maybe Blige is comfortable in being automatic, in not having a need to create masterpieces anymore. I still cringe sometimes when she sings with too much force, as if she wants to show a bit of a church vibe and she never gets there without stumbling. She’s not about being smooth, she’s Mary and fuck if she cares what anyone thinks, she’ll yank off her earrings and throw blows if need be. But she’s also a grown woman who has lived much more, experienced so much, and perhaps she doesn’t feel a need to revisit the greatness others still seek in her music. Maybe Blige has found her comfort zone, but at least with the bookends on this album, she hasn’t forgotten where she came from. “You Remind Me” indeed.


    REVIEW: Ramesses’ “Baptism Of The Walking Dead”

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Ramesses are a UK doom metal band with the kind of crunch and rawness that sounds as if they’re bowing down to LORD SATANA and preaching the words that are burning in their hearts. It’s a very brutal, low-end sound where every repetitive warble is just a drill into the unknown parts of your mind. Baptism Of The Walking Dead (HCP Industries) may be a mere 3-song EP (released as a 3 inch CD) but what they’re able to do with these songs is generate a type of vibe that is fitting of their artwork and song titles. It sounds devastating and beautiful in its own way, the drones can take off into new places while the bass work of vocalist Adam Richardson is in tandem with the lyrics (most likely intentional).

    If there’s one problem I had on an EP with some very meaty songs, it’s how the drums were recorded and/or mixed. Apparently these are alternate mixes of songs that will be on their forthcoming album, Take The Curse, but it should have been released after the album and not before. I love the big bold sound of the bass and guitar, but the drums sounded as if they were recorded in a cardboard box. If this was released as a 7″ 33 1/3 rpm single, maybe I would not have noticed, but in the digital realm, everything is enhanced. If they are ever able to remix this so that the drums sound big and bold (and I don’t mean have it sound like Motley Crue arena/butt rock), or at least full and rich, this could have been incredible.

    I’m hoping the album will sound better, but Baptism Of The Walking Dead is not lousy. It’s just that I would have loved the drums to have sounded as powerful as the guitar and bass.

    REVIEW: Thavius Beck’s “Dialogue”

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic L.L. Cool J once said in “Going Back To Cali” a line that said “pop in a cassette and push play.” Ever since then, it seems in order for rappers to drive down the popular route, they have done just that: create music that sounds like it was done without effort for the sake of maximum profits. Whether or not they made maximum profits is not of my concern, but what I still like to hear on a hip-hop album that sounds like there was an effort to create… anything. Thavius Beck has gained a reputation for his work as an electronic music producer, although one can say the same thing about many of today’s hip-hop producers. Whether or not calling him an “electronic music producer” gives him a bit more legitimacy (opposed to being called nothing more than a guy who pushes buttons) is unknown, but get rid of any pre-conceived notions.

    If you bought K-The-I???‘s most recent album, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (which I reviewed in The Run-Off Groove #221), then you will know what Beck is all about. He handles the ol’ boom bap perfectly, but what makes him who he is is not just the way he is able to chop and filter drum beats, but also the carefully-selected samples that he uses for atmospherics. Basslines boom in the deepest way, Hammond B-3’s running through Leslie speakers blare and deafen, it’s mindblowing.

    When you have a producer that makes music fearlessly, and an MC who shares those same ethics, it becomes a statement. When you happen to fill both positions, in that you’re the MC knowing the music from the inside out, or the producer who knows how to excite your producer in the best ways possible, there’s a self-contained chemistry that fits perfectly when done right. You’re hearing brain matter at work, it’s an album you have to listen deeply in order to get the full gist of what’s going on. Even if you know of Beck’s work as Adlib, that’s just one click of the Cube. Dialogue (Big Dada/Mush) is an album that defines… well, maybe that’s not a right way to put it, so let me try again. Dialogue is communication defined, between MC and producer, between artist and fan, between hip-hop and the world, between brain matter and electronics, between human and binary code, it’s the lost language amplified to great levels. No, that’s not right either.

    Maybe it would be best to just say “those who wondered why hip-hop has not been as innovative as it once was can look to Thavius Beck as not so much a pioneer, but an explorer of the potential untapped.” I like that, let’s call this review a “wrap”.

    (Dialogue has already been released in the UK through Big Dada, and can be bought digitally in the U.S. through Mush Records, who will give it a formal (i.e. CD) release on January 26, 2010.)

    REVIEW: The Reveling’s “3D Radio”

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Reveling‘s 3D Radio is a 4-song self-released EP that works as a demo and a mini-LP release to introduce themselves to people and in the process, make fans hungry to hear much more. Their style of punk rock is mixed in with the pop sensibilities of bands like The Buzzcocks, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and Blink 182, and early Green Day, with a minimal amount of doodling and a maximum amount of powerful lyrics, strong messages, and instrumental strength. Even the dual guitar solo was a nice touch, something that might be called a cliched hair metal tactic by some but it’s not in this case.

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    Drummer Jay Weinberg is the son of E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, and his drumming skills shows the love and admiration of his father. Vocalist Sean Morris, guitarist Dave Kramer, and bassist Dennis Murphy play in a way that shows the influence of all of the melodic punk from the early 90’s, proving that Generation X wasn’t just an era of slackers after all. Perhaps these guys, with an unabashed energy that is most welcome, will gear up for what will be an explosive decade of music, and help sections of the world rock once again. It makes me feel younger again when I used to go to cramped VFW halls waiting for bands to fill up rooms with a capacity of a mere 72, and while that dates me as an old-man-to-be, I’m not old enough to forget what this music means and can mean to those who need to hear this.