Tag Archive | CD Reviews

Gail's Top Ten Favorite CDs of 2012

Tame Impala Lonerism CD Cover

Tame Impala, Lonerism

People who’ve taken a lot of psychedelics (raises hand) and listened to way too much music while lounging in a room lit only by a black light bulb will often talk about how certain albums sound like they were made while the band was on drugs. Tame Impala’s sophomore album, Lonerism, is drugs.

Read my awesome review of Lonerism at This Link.

Darkness Hot Cakes CD Cover

The Darkness, Hot Cakes

Hot Cakes is my favorite Queen album since A Night at the Opera.

Read my amazing review of Hot Cakes at This Link.

Little Barrie King of the Waves CD Cover

Little Barrie, King of the Waves

Little Barrie’s King of the Waves was Number One on the list for most of the year until The Darkness nudged it from the top spot, only to be further nudged by Tame Impala. This only means it was a pretty fucking great year for Rock & Roll.

Read more of my opinion on how Little Barrie Saved Rock in 2012 at This Link.

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The SheepDogs

It is my belief that The SheepDogs operate in this realty via  adept use of a well-oiled Time Machine.  Read more about my hypothesis at This Link.

Matt Boroff's Filling In The Cracks CD Cover

Mott Boroff, Filling In The Cracks EP

My mind was blown away last year by the discovery of Matt Boroff, an artist who refers to himself as a “Gold Medalist in the Best Kept Secret Olympics.” Read more at This Link.

Killers Battle Born CD Cover

The Killers, Battle Born

I like This Album.

Bento Diamond Days CD Cover

Bento, Diamond Days

I was in the process of reviewing Diamond Days when I was unexpectedly evacuated from my apartment due to the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy. Drama! Bento is the solo project by Ben Gillies, former drummer for Silverchair. I interviewed Ben once and he was hilarious. If you enjoyed Siverchair’s artsy fartsy 2007 Swan Song, Young Modern, you will probably dig this album.

Vaccines Come of Age CD Cover

The Vaccines, Come of Age

The first time I played this CD each song managed to distinguish itself from the next, so it gets to be on this list.

Lita Ford Living Like a Runaway CD Cover

Lita Ford, Living like a Runaway

No pain, no gain. Guitarist and Rock Godess Lita Ford bounces back from a messy divorce to make the album of her career. My indepth review of Living Like a Runaway can be found at This Link.

Mike Viola Acousto de Perfecto CD Cover

Mike Viola, Acousto De Perfecto

If real musical talent – quality songwriting, musicianship, charisma – were still rewarded with popularity and financial success in the way they were back in the ‘70s, Mike Viola would be as revered as Elton John and sell out bigger concert tours than Lady Gaga.

Read more from me about Mike Viola and Acousto De Perfecto by clicking Here.

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Metallica Demands that Online Journalists Remove Reviews of its Music

Metallica

I Believe that Their New CD is Called Douchebags Of The Universe

I really thought that Metallica, easily the most hyper-litigious band in the history of music, had hit rock bottom when they sued Victoria’s Secret over the name of an eyeliner pencil that contained the word “Metallica” in the description of the shade. Apparently, I was incorrect in that assumption. This post from Arstechnica.com about Metallica’s management requesting that bloggers remove reviews of its newest album proves that these guys have, in fact, hit bottom and started to dig. It’s nice to see that Metallica didn’t want the reputation they earned from the Napster debacle to be forgotten.

Note: It appears that the story at the link above has been updated in Metallica’s favor!

Rad CD of the Week: MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular

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Hot Band of 2008: MGMT

The new CD by NYC-based psychedelic pop-electronic outfit, MGMT, is my favorite album of the year so far. That lofty classification puts it in the company of exactly one other CD, Opeth’s Watershed, which is just insane. To me, MGMT sound like what might happen if “Waiting On A Friend”-era Mick Jagger teamed up with Beck. The songs, oh yes, they are so good, and the album is produced by Mercury Rev’s Dave Fridmann, so you know it sounds amazing. I’ve been listening to Oracular Spectacular all morning and I’m not even close to being sick of it. Every song on the CD is great but I’m particularly fond of the single, “Time to Pretend”; a combination ode to/indictment of the Rock Star Lifestyle that praises/slams everyone from Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix to members of Duran Duran. Check out the lyrics:

“I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life.
Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.
Yeah, it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute.

Forget about our mothers and our friends
We’re fated to pretend

I’ll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I’ll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I’ll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I’ll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone.

There’s really nothing, nothing we can do
Love must be forgotten, life can always start up anew.
The models will have children, we’ll get a divorce
We’ll find some more models, everything must run its course.

We’ll choke on our vomit and that will be the end
We were fated to pretend
To pretend”

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Gail In Print: Modern Drummer, May issue and Metal Edge, April Issue

Tomas Haake: Math Rocker!

Check out the May issue of Modern Drummer, with Mesuggah’s Tomas Haake on the cover, for my Rad updates on Ben Gillies of Silverchair and Sean O’Shea of Orgone.

Also, look for my retro-reviews of classic albums by Warrant and Quiet Riot in the article “25 Essential Hair Metal Albums,” found in April’s edition of Metal Edge.

Ozzy Is Still Alive

Gail's Top Ten CDs of 2006!

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Like, Better late than never, right?

Top CDs of 2006, According to Me

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#10. Black Stone Cherry

Initially, I was very resistant to the idea of Kentucky-based, Southern Rock Revivalists, Black Stone Cherry for two sharply pointed reasons. One being that unless a “Southern Rock” band is going to improve on Molly Hatchet’s “Flirting With Disaster” or Greg Allman’s “I’m No Angel,” why even bother? The other being that 99% of modern hard rock sounds like ass. But Black Stone Cherry come on like Soundgarden-meets-The Allman Brothers. My god, what a much needed gasp of fresh air in the vacuum! Not to mention, but you can see I am about to, their drummer, John Fred Young (check out the guy on the far left with that crazy mane of dark curly hair) is what we used to call in my day a stone solid fox. And having a little eye candy in the band never hurts.

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#9. Little Answers, Earlymay

Remember back when music that passed for adult contemporary rock actually had balls? Neither do I. But if I were programming the Adult Contemporary format at radio today I’d scrap the Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bolton and flood it with songs by amazing bands like The Verve Pipe and Earlymay. Little Answers comes highly recommended if you like U2 but wish Bono would just get over himself already.

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#8. Richard Butler

I wasn’t much of a fan of LoveSpitLove, former Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler’s first post-Furs outting. But on Butler’s sublime debut solo excursion, he won me over with moody, soporific songs that sound like they were written by a less acid-damaged version of Julian Cope rather than a guy who was once married to notorious groupie Bebe Buell for about fifteen minutes. Downside: Abysmal cover art that makes him look like he has the plague, or something worse.

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#7. All Blown Up, The Blank Stares

The Blank Stares are a band from San Francisco who contacted me through Myspace and asked if they could send me their CD. Now, I don’t want all you independent, undiscovered, unsigned, un-good bands out there to get any ideas, but if your shit sounds like The Beatles, feel free to look me up.

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#6. Hot One

A Power-Quarter based in NYC that also features rock chick bass legend Emm Gryner, Hot One “observes the tradition of rock and roll as a medium for social protest, a la the Clash, Public Enemy, Psychic TV, Woody Guthrie, Minor Threat, the MC5.” I took that statement off their Myspace page. I love Hot One’s sexy glam rock/power pop amalgam (favorite cut, “Sexy Soldier”), but I also dig that they throw in a little George Bush hating on the side.

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#5. Tunnel Vision Brilliance, Scott Reeder

Is there a serious metal head alive who doesn’t/didn’t worship Kyuss? Because if there is I want to know who they are so I beat their faces in. Former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder is a fucking genius for making the best Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here. Heavy Mettle indeed.

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#4. Elf Titled, The Advantage

Six Words: “Nintendo Game Theme Song Cover Band.” Nothing more needs to be said. This CD is brilliant from start to finish. And I’ve never played Nintendo in my life.

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#3. Electric Satisfaction, Crash Kelly

Canadian Rockers Crash Kelly excell at producing stellar Modern Glam Trash for people like me who go out of their way to live in the past.

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#2. Yeah!, Def Leppard

Seriously, how can you possibly go wrong if you’re already Def Leppard — who are, without a doubt, a genius band — and you decide to make an album of covers that includes Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and Mott The Hoople’s “Golden Age of Rock & Roll”? How can you go wrong, I ask yez?

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#1. Never Hear The End of It, Sloan

I have to thank Frank Griggs for sending me this Sloan album on the fly when he was doing their publicity last fall, because otherwise I never would have heard the BEST ALBUM OF 2006! No amount of clever compound adjectives can fully describe how awesome this CD is. Those tasteless dicks over at Rolling Stone only gave Never Hear The End Of It three-out-of-five stars, but here’s their review:

“For more than a decade, Sloan have been big in their native Canada without even reaching Guided by Voices-level fame stateside. With thirty, count-’em, thirty songs (several of which bleed together and clock in under two minutes), their eighth studio album is a power-pop record that flows like the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime — but with glam rock and acoustic balladry in the mix.”

So just go out and buy it already.

Honorable Mention

These are some genius discs that didn’t quite make into the Top Ten, mostly because I could only fit ten selections into a list of ten. Logistics, you know.

1. Benevento Russo Duo, Play, Pause, Stop
2. Dirty Royals, Obsessed America EP
3. David Gilmour, On An Island
4. Ambulance, New English EP
5. Gosling, Here Is…
6. Hellacopters, Rock & Roll is Dead
7. American Hearthbreak
8. Barrett Martin, Earthspeaker
9. Wired All Wrong, Break Out The Battle Tapes

10. (Guilty Pleasure) Taylor Hicks
Don’t even start with me on this one. I may be a self-confessed huge fan of American Idol, but nobody was more surprised than me when I fell in love with former spazz Taylor Hick’s fake Elvis swagger and his “Takin’ It To The Streets” mock-soul funk. This album is probably the best piece of commercial “product” that the big corporate machine has crapped out since I even listened to mainstream pop radio. And thank god someone got him to dye his hair.

Like a Complete Unknown: What it Means to Write for Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Intern

Back in March of last year, my friend and fellow rock journalist, Nicole, phoned me up to read me an ad she’d just seen somewhere on line. “You’ll never believe this,” she says to me – which is what she always says when she’s about to hip me to something that’s totally ridiculous. “Rolling Stone is looking for writers just out of college to intern at the magazine for some stupid REALITY TV SHOW!

The irony is, I didn’t have any problem believing it at all.

At one point in my career, when I was kicking the ass of the rock journalism world and editors were calling me at a fairly steady clip, I spent about three years writing CD reviews for Rolling Stone online. It stung a little bit that I was never able to penetrate the print publication, but once a couple of my friends started working at RS, I got over it. One woman, an intern who eventually cracked enough breaking news stories to secure a staff writer position, left after three years of banging her head against a glass ceiling. The other, hired as an associate editor, went out of his way to champion bands that actually wrote songs and knew how to play their instruments. He was fired after a couple of years when he refused to stop writing about good bands and just cover hip-hop “artists” and faceless, flavor-of-the-week wankers. I don’t know why I was surprised, considering the fact that I was once asked to remove the word “flanged” from a CD review because the editor did not know what the word meant. Another review of mine – a 50 word-count blurb on the latest Bettie Serveert CD – never ran because another editor felt I did not make enough references in my review to the band’s seven previous releases. In a fifty word review. Right.

And let’s not forget that Rolling Stone once fired the greatest living rock critic Jim DeRogatis, because he wrote a negative review of a Hootie and The Blowfish album. I wish I were making that up.
The Future of Music Journalism?

Here’s a brief encapsulation of what we’re likely in for on I’m From Rolling Stone, (Sundays at 10 PM on MTV) from Heather Havrilesky’s “I Like To Watch” column on Salon.com.

“Of course, how interesting would this show be if there were competent professionals involved? The first two episodes of I’m From Rolling Stone suggest that, just as spitty outbursts and drunken street fights are the main event on The Real World, any amusement we can find here is going to come from witnessing the flailings of young people about to bungle their first big job in a wide variety of ways. Russell, the only experienced reporter, is a smooth, intelligent interviewer and a solid writer, but he has a criminal history and it’s pretty obvious that they chose him because he appears to have a habit of slacking or quitting when the going gets tough. Krystal, a poet, not only seems likely to produce overwritten prose, but also romanticizes Rolling Stone to an extent that’s bound to make reality disappointing. Tika seems foolishly overconfident, Krishtine comes off as lazy and disrespectful, Peter seems to be a drunk, and Colin appears to have a pea-size brain and the poise of a nervous squirrel. In short, I’m From Rolling Stone is an exercise in sadism that’s so mean-spirited and condescending, it could only have been dreamed up by someone who works in the wild and wonderful world of magazines.”

Oh, awesome. Like we need another reason for people to not take journalists seriously. Honestly, this line of work is challenging enough with pathological douche bags like Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair fabricating news stories, getting fired from their respective publications and then getting book deals to reward them for their lack of character!

We don’t need Rolling Stone – a magazine I once worshipped and lionized to the point where writing for them was for many years my ultimate career goal – imbuing the TV viewing public with the indelible impression that we’re all a bunch of binge-drinking, air headed, unprofessional clowns. Jesus, way to shoot yourselves in the foot Rolling Stone!

Gail's Top Ten CDs of 2005!

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As a special New Year’s treat, here’s a preview of my Top Ten Favorite CDs of the year, to be elaborated on ad-nauseum in my upcoming 2005 Year End Rewind!

Gail’s Top Ten CDs of 2005!

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1. Crash Kelly, Penny Pills (Liquor & Poker)

When I got the advance of this album last winter, I predicted that Penny Pills would be my favorite CD of the year 2006 and, no surprise here, I was right. Embracing a full-on 70s sensibility of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out and T Rex at its most glam, Penny Pills is the only drug you need.

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2. Lake Trout, Not Them, You (PALM)

Baltimore’s Lake Trout bring us acid rock for the aughts and are one of the best live bands around.

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3. Kasabian, S/T (RCA)

Kasabian are such a great band I can’t even believe they’re signed to a major label, let alone RCA. Which reminds me of joke:

Q: How do you stop the spread of AIDS?
A: Let BMG distribute it.

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4. Eric Anders, More Regrets (Baggage Room)

Eric Anders is an obscure, independent singer songwriter whose unaffected ability to turn a phrase and otherworldly knack for arranging transcendent, melancholy melodies would have made him superstar, you know, if records still sold based on talent.

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5. Porcupine Tree, Deadwing (LAVA)

I still love the Prog rock and nobody bends the mind quite like the dark masters of the genre, Steven Wilson’s Porcupine Tree.

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6. Turbonegro, Party Animals (Liquor & Poker)

What’s going on up there in Scandinavia that gives bands hailing from that part of the world such superior ass kicking power in the Rock & Roll arena? Norway’s Turbonegro might say it’s a higher tolerance for alcohol.

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7. The Greenhornes, East Grand Blues EP (V2)

The Greenhornes play fuzz-toned garage rock that’s impressively faithful to the sonic hallmarks of the classic British Invasion bands (Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds) and their counterparts in the original wave of American garage rock. East Grand Blues EP completely obviates the need for The Strokes to ever make another record.

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8. Fear Factory, Transgression (Liquid 8)

Managing to stay authentically dangerous without becoming a parody of itself, heavy metal juggernauts Fear Factory have in Burton Bell and Raymond Herrera the best lead vocalist and the best drummer, respectively, in the genre today.

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9. Black Halos, Alive Without Control (Liquor & Poker)

My hands down favorite band to see live and, individually, my very favorite group of band dudes to hang out with, Vancouver’s Black Halos sweat Rock & Roll from every pore. I just adore them.

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10. Peppers Ghost, Shake The Hand that Shook The World (Hybrid)

Five words: Ziggy Stardust meets Sergeant Pepper.