Overlooked or Underrated: Lights…Camera…Revolution

I strongly believe that music is very contextual and is highly indicative of the moment in which it was recorded or released. However, not everyone will have been around at said moment, or maybe a record or artist only strikes a chord years later when circumstances have changed – never hear the expression “ahead of his time”? – or maybe a record was just kind of missed through poor marketing. Sometimes an album is just very good and maybe in retrospect deserves another chance. Whatever the case may be, this section of “Overlooked or Underrated” aims to retrospectively examine albums that are worth going back to or maybe you just missed them first time round. Lets go to 1990…

lightscamerarevolution
When people think of the great Thrash Metal albums they tend to remember records like ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Reign in Blood’, ‘Rust in Peace’, ‘Among The Living’ or any of the other classics from the big four. Sepultura may also get a mention for ‘Beneath the Remains’ or ‘Arise’ along with Bay Area bands like Exodus or Testament or nu-thrash classics from Slipknot or System of a Down. One band which tends to get overlooked, partly because they came in through the back door of California hard core and skate music, is Suicidal Tendencies.

Probably as a result of the band’s punk roots, Suicidal Tendencies were blessed with a sense of melody, whilst eschewing traditional Metal symbolism, both lyrically and stylistically, often singing about more personal issues such as anxiety and depression. The fiercely intelligent Mike Muir proved himself an astute lyricist and with the addition of future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, who brought a funk influence to compliment the more traditional metal of guitarist Rocky George, Suicidal’s sound found its tropes on the superb ‘Lights…Camera…Revolution’.

“Lights” is most definitely the sound of a band reaching its peak and is surely a forgotten classic of the thrash genre. From the ragingly defiant opener, ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’, through to closing track ‘Go’n Breakdown’ you get ten perfectly balanced tracks of melodic yet furiously fast heavy assed thrash.

The opening track is a masterpiece in itself, super fast riffing with high octane solos blazing away, before the mid-section time changes and Muir’s quasi-rap of home truths – it’s breathtaking stuff. The album then works through a selection of quality numbers like the brooding ‘Lost Again’, the conversely upbeat ‘Alone’ and the funky ‘Lovely’, each one incorporating the Suicidal’s style while retaining individuality in terms of rhythms and arrangements.

Besides the obvious instrumental depth and quality, one of the most striking things about the record is the versatility of Mike Muir’s vocal performance. He can sing slow, aggressive, tongue twistingly fast or even incorporate elements of rap or punk; whatever the situation though, the vocal is never overpowering, always neatly complimenting the band’s musicality. ‘Give it Revolution’ is a prime example, whilst ‘Send Me Your Money’, tackling the issue of TV evangelists, is a superbly catchy, ultra-funky thrash around.

In fact there are plenty of hooks throughout and it’s a very easy record to sing along to, with plenty of earworms; be it the intense ‘Emotion No.13’, the punky hard core of ‘Disco’s Out, Murder’s In’ or the superbly constructed finale of ‘Go’n Breakdown’. Basically, it’s all killer, no filler, even the seemingly throwaway ‘Get Whacked’ rocking hard.

All in all, 1990’s ‘Lights…Camera…Revolution’ is the sound of a versatile band at its best and is an album that successfully challenged the conventions of thrash and brought a lot to the genre in highly listenable fashion. By embracing different styles and playing to their strengths, Suicidal Tendencies came up with one of the most likeable albums of the era that has stood the test of time.

Check out http://www.suicidaltendencies.com/ for more information on the band and upcoming tour dates.

The Definitive Megadeth Top 10

With the release of Megadeth’s fifteenth studio album ‘Dystopia’ I was charged with the task of flexing my writing muscles on a “Starter Pack” piece for Already Heard as a kind of introduction for the uninitiated. As such, I spent many a waking hour with Mustaine and Co blasting through my headphones at breakneck speed as I explored their ample back catalogue; I must have listened to pretty much everything they have ever done! Although Dave’s work is consistently high quality, even some of the newer releases boasting hidden gems, Dystopia itself also being pretty damn good, there are a handful of songs which stand head and shoulders above the rest. So here goes my take on a Megadeth top ten, buckle up!

10) Good Mourning/Black Friday
Not really the first song that springs to mind, but recent listens to ‘Peace Sells…’ revealed it to be one of their finest tracks. The atmospheric intro and sinister guitar lines to ‘Good Mourning’ was something nobody else was doing at the time. The song gathers in brooding atmosphere, taking its time, before exploding into life with a blistering solo. ‘Black Friday’ then rocks to a mid paced groove and engine like riffing, before accellerating for a ball busting race to the end. Breathtaking.

9) Hook In Mouth
One of Megadeth’s most underrated tracks from an album many overlook. ‘Hook In Mouth’ deals with the issue of censorship and the moralistic stance of the PMRC (the reason we have those parental advisory stickers). It is a more measured track, but is a prime example of Mustaine’s songwriting prowess with its intelligent lyrics and top drawer arrangement.

8)Rust In Peace…Polaris
Only Megadeth do this – the two part song thing I mean – and ‘Rust’ is one of their finest examples. It puts the icing on the cake of their best album, Mustaine putting in one of his most vicious vocal performances on this politically charged track, whilst also delivering a killer hook. Just when you think it’s done the second part kicks off and basically it’s a guitar frenzy as solos blaze and riffs chop and change, while Nick Menza provides the groove.

7)Countdown to Extinction
As a whole, the ‘Countdown’ album lacks the teeth of earlier releases, yet it showcases the bands highly developed songwriting skills; the title track itself being one of its standout songs. The whole thing is highly accomplished, from the riffing being expressive of the lyrical matter, past the killer chorus and on to the hot rocking solo – it has everything a top rock song needs. Not surprising that it won awards.

6)Tornado of Souls
After the first two killer tracks on the R.I.P album some of the other songs pale in comparison to their monumental attack. However, ‘Tornado of Souls’ is similarly special and is surely one of the most complete Megadeth numbers. This is a guitar player’s song; the wonderfully complex arrangement layering riff upon riff, whilst giving Marty Friedman free reign on a raging solo. The rhythm work is also superb and Dave even manages a hint of melody to the hook; quality.

5)Peace Sells
The first Megadeth track to show off Mustaine’s ability to write a hit. Killer bass line, killer hook, frantic thrash finale. “Can you put a price on peace?”

4)Hangar 18
The partner in crime to Holy Wars; you can’t hear one without the other following. Hangar is the ultimate conspiracy theory and one of the band’s finest moments.

3)Foreclosure of a Dream
Normally when people talk about ‘Countdown to Extinction’ they remember the title track, ‘Symphony of Destruction’ or ‘Sweating Bullets’, but for me Foreclose is untouchable. It’s got everything that epitomizes Megadeth, from the riffing to the solos but also has a killer hook – seriously underrated song.

2)In My Darkest Hour
Famously written in one hour, upon hearing of the death of ex-band mate, Metallica’s Cliff Burton, ‘In My Darkest Hour’ is a monster of a song. It broods intensely on the back of grinding riffs as Mustaine spits his bitter lyrics, before exploding into a thrashing finale, love it.

1)Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
‘Holy Wars’ is without question one of the greatest rock songs in history. It has everything: Powerhouse riffing, scorching solos, sublime time changes, politically charged lyrics and a level of technical excellence beyond compare; thrash metal perfection goddammit.

If you haven’t already done so, check out the new material on ‘Dystopia’, it has some fine moments that stand up in comparison to the tracks on display here; ‘Fatal Illusion’ being particularly special.

Here’s the link to the starter pack piece mentioned above: http://alreadyheard.com/post/137748764480/starter-pack-megadeth
And here’s a review of ‘Dystopia’:

Barcamundi no Solar do Botafogo – Live Review

O Pré-Show
Nesta terça-feira, dia 19, O Solar de Botafogo, um teatro idealizado pelo ator Leonardo Franco com a filosofia da “Arte Total”, serviu do palco perfeito para a descolada banda niteroiense Barcamundi oficialmente comemorar o lançamento do seu primeiro CD. Disponível desde julho de 2015, o disco homônimo é um trabalho repleto de canções bem elaboradas, abrangendo vários estilos musicais desde folk até indie rock num som complexo e cheio de toques sutis de múltiplos instrumentos.
Solar

O Show
O Solar – carinhosamente chamado pelos seus admiradores – é uma joia rara na cena musical local, possuindo uma boa estrutura de som e luz e dois andares para acomodar a platéia. Portanto, com um espaço intimista e convidativo, e com o palco lindamente enfeitado com barquinhos de papel colorido, pendurados juntos com outros origamis e luzes brancas e coloridas no chão, foi o cenário ideal para o show. A sensação era de um grande encontro de amigos, reunidos com um único propósito: ouvir uma boa música juntos, e quem não conhecia a banda com certeza se surpreendeu positivamente com o talento dos seis integrantes.

O show foi composto pelas músicas do CD da banda, além de algumas músicas inéditas e ‘Bloco da Alegria’ da Gragoatá (com participação especial da Rebeca Sauwen) e ‘Rie Chinito’ do Perota Chingó, que, segundo eles, já consideram uma música própria, já que tocam em todo show que fazem, brincaram. Foi uma surpresa encontrar músicas inéditas e convidados especiais tão carismáticos – foram seis, no total – amigos de outras bandas que subiram ao palco, enriquecendo ainda mais o espetáculo.

‘Todo Dia’ foi a música de abertura do show e a sintonia entre os integrantes da banda era nítida com todos muito entrosados, as vozes da Gabriela Autran e do João Barreira se complementando de forma bacana. João lidera tranquilamente, desde sua postura até iniciativa em cima do palco, apresentando os convidados, enquanto Gabriela trás um toque feminino especial à banda, não deixando as músicas ficarem pesadas ou “frias” demais. Com certeza era a integrante mais emocionada com o lançamento do CD e agradeceu inúmeras vezes a presença de todos.
joao e gabi

A canção ‘O Trem e O Pássaro’ foi muito comemorada quando começou e foi incrível a maneira como, através do olhar do vocalista, era possível enxergar a importância e o carinho que João tem por essa música em especial. Com Agnes Lima, alem de Thiago Cosenza, cantaram uma música inédita, ‘Ligeiro’, com letra forte, no qual a banda pareceu bem animada e muito entrosada com a convidada. ‘Silêncio ou Solução’, também contou com a participação da Agnes, e, a letra, do guitarrista Matheus Ribeiro representa a diversidade da banda; momento este que o João nominou como “loucura musical”. ‘Navalha de Occam’, com Nino Navarro também foi muito comemorada com muitos da plateia cantando junto. Sem dúvida os convidados foram um dos pontos fortes do show, uma vez que a Barcamundi estava muito entrosada com cada um deles; Thiago Cosenza marcou presença em várias músicas na percussão, enquanto Gregory Combat contribuiu com voz e alfaia na ‘Quem Vive Calado’.

As músicas são muito interessantes, com letras originais e de autoria dos próprios integrantes. A quantidade de instrumentos utilizados em cada canção é algo nunca visto antes, de uma originalidade sem fim. O talento que o Leon Navarro tem com instrumentos tradicionais e exóticos é de deixar qualquer músico brasileiro com inveja. Com a percussão do Gil Navarro e o baixo do Pedro Chabudé o som do Barcamundi é realmente complexo. Porém, como novos instrumentos aparecem a cada canção, o som – principalmente do Leon – apresentou algumas falhas, mas a banda mostrou seu profissionalismo lidando com a situação com muita tranquilidade.
Palco

Com a casa lotada, amigos e familiares prestigiaram o lançamento do primeiro CD, ouvindo atentamente cada música, com os fãs de carteirinha cantando junto com o João e a Gabriela. A reação de muitos aplausos era a mesma após cada canção e a plateia contribuiu muito para o show, gritando os nomes de suas músicas preferidas e comemorando o início de cada uma delas.

As canções ‘A Grama do Seu Jardim’ e ‘Se Você For Embora’ foram os grandes destaques da noite. A primeira foi muito aplaudida pela plateia com o piso inferior ficando em êxtase e até fazendo uma coreografia com as mãos. A muita comemorada ‘Se Você For Embora’, seguiu ‘Bloco da Alegria’ para fechar o show, também contando com a participação especial da Rebeca Sauwen e Fanner Horta na guitarra, e com a plateia toda de pé, cantando junto e aplaudindo durante toda a apresentação. Um, inclusive, abriu um guarda-chuva, em homenagem à letra:
“Eu vou usar o meu chapéu
Para evitar que minhas ideias se espalhem pelo céu
Ou vou usar um guarda-chuva
Pra guardar todos os meus sinais
Se você for embora vai chover demais”

O primeiro show do lançamento oficial do CD foi nada menos que um triunfo, consagrando o trabalho de qualidade feito por essa banda de talentos ecléticos. Basta olhar as fotos para sentir todo suor envolvido sendo merecidamente recompensado.
barca palco finale

O Bis
É nítida a diversidade do background da banda, mas, o que mais impressiona é a inovação e a criatividade de cada música, onde a inspiração em bandas nacionais e internacionais é clara, porém a Barcamundi consegue escapar do clichê. A quantidade e diversidade de instrumentos utilizados entre uma música e outra é um dos pontos fortes da banda, no qual o espectador se depara com flauta, bongo, escaleta, entre outros. Sem contar os instrumentos tradicionais que “amarram” as canções. É admirável o trabalho que está sendo realizado pela Barcamundi e o primeiro CD da banda já pode ser encontrado no Spotify, iTunes e Deezer. Espero que esse seja o primeiro de muitos CDs lançados por esses seis talentosos jovens e que possamos ouvir falar mais sobre o sucesso deles fora do Rio.
barca finale

Os Bastidores
Fiquei muito feliz em poder contar com a participação da Laís Vargas como meus olhos e ouvidos no show espectacular dos amigos da Barcamundi. O trabalho crítico dela, as fotos e ajuda em elaborar o texto foi indispensável e sem ela essa matéria não teria acontecido. Podem encontrar mais trabalho dela na plataforma “Medium” aqui:https://medium.com/@lais_vargas

Também gostaria agradecer João Barreira pelo convite para cobrir o show – tenho muito orgulho de poder ter participado de sua formação e fico muito feliz ver você e seus amigos trabalhando de uma forma tão admirável – parabéns!

https://barcamundi.bandcamp.com/

Noam Bleen – Noam Bleen EP Review

Front Cover Formed in 2010, Noam Bleen is an Italian three piece with a love of heavy tube distortion. This self titled EP, dedicated to David Bowie, is a strong debut in the world of alternative rock and there is depth to its heavy nineties feel.

‘Underplay’ opens proceedings with some cool riffing and a strong hint of Foo Fighters, but it’s a well worked track and hits the spot. ‘Placebo Button’ is heavier, with a more alternative grungy feel, and is the standout track. It rocks pretty hard and there is a nice break for a downbeat solo, before exploring instrumental soundscapes on an epic finale. Great track.

The rest of the EP has a similarly heavy air, but the songs are well thought out and they seem to be trying to find their own niche. ‘Vent Your Spleen’ building in intensity and taking an instrumental twist, while ‘Specious Present’ is quite dark and disjointed. There are also a couple of short instrumental pieces in ‘Solivagant’, with its atmospheric synths, and the acoustic ‘At Dawn’ which is quite lovely; whether they might work better as intros within other tracks is a debatable point.

The only track which is maybe a bit superfluous is ‘Star’s End’, its down beat grunge by numbers not really going anywhere. I have the feeling that the band wanted to make an LP, but were a song or two short, so just put everything out as an EP, when maybe they could have held something back and kept it a little shorter; four or five tracks is normally enough to showcase a band’s strengths.

However, the EP has plenty to offer and Noam Bleen write interesting, highly enjoyable, songs that, despite giving away their influences, manage to walk their own path. With improved production they could get even more out of the adventurous side to their songwriting; I look forward to hearing what else they have up their sleeves.

7.5/10

Noam Bleen is a D.I.Y release available from January 20th.
https://noambleen.bandcamp.com/
https://m.facebook.com/noambleen?_rdr
https://twitter.com/noam_bleen

What’s Hot in My House – January 2016

It’s kind of weird at this time of year because I’m half on holiday following the Christmas period and as such have much more free time than usual – I have actually been reading books and even watching a little television! Paradoxically though, I am listening to less music than usual and have had the occasional headphone free day, which makes my ears itch uncontrollably. Nevertheless, I have been working a little with private classes and have been putting my bus time to valuable use; here are the aural delights that have been spinning on my wheels of steel.

Patti Smith – Horses
This is one of those albums that basically left me on the island, (to be honest I always found Patti a little scary, can’t think why), so I just never listened to it – it was just one of those records people talked about as being classic – so yeah, ok, whatever. Anyway, whilst reading the fabulous Viv Albertine book, ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys.’, in which the ex The Slits guitarist gives her perspective on punk etc, she waxes lyrical about ‘Horses’ and gives me the push I needed to give it a go. Have to say that I’m pleased I did. A few weak tracks aside, like ‘Redondo Beach’, it pretty much lives up to the hype, considering the context in which it was made, ‘Gloria’ and the monumental ‘Land’ being particularly impressive. I now look forward to reading Patti’s own book ‘Just Kids’, reflecting on her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe – a kindle snip at 99p!

Megadeth
In anticipation of the release of the new Megadeth album, I was the first to shoot my hand up when my editor at Already Heard offered up assignments on upcoming releases. I then had the (un) enviable task of wading my way through their entire back catalogue, so as to be able to produce a bio and comments on three albums; finding someone that cites them as an influence has proved far more difficult however! There were days when I listened exclusively to balls to the wall speed metal ballistics, and although some of the newer material was a little hard to digest, especially ‘Super Collider’, it was a pleasure to dissect earlier work like ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying’ and ‘Rust in Peace’. I wandered down memory lane and was transported back to longer haired days when fast was synonymous with good and was pleased to find that, in thrash metal terms, these albums were labelled classics with good reason. The new album has also proved to be a surprisingly good listen, but nothing they could do today will ever reach the dizzying heights of ‘Holy Wars..The Punishment Due’. Classic.

Conrad Keely – Original Machines
My first review of the new year for AH, (link here:http://alreadyheard.com/post/137154188770/album-review-conrad-keely-original-machines#_=_) was such a pleasant surprise that I can’t stop playing the damn thing. IMHO this will go on to be one of the albums of 2016, I may well be totally wrong but I can always put this down to a series of stupendously good releases to come later in the year that I have no idea about right now. But if I am right, I will appear sage and all knowing with gifted insight into what makes a record good, besides one’s own opinion. Either way, check it out, Conrad is enormously talented with fingers in many musical pies and he has made a wonderfully imperfect record that may well encourage a little pause for thought.

David Bowie – Blackstar
What an achingly tragic week it has been with the loss of such an icon, quickly followed by the death of another much loved Brit, actor Alan Rickman, under frighteningly similar circumstances. The only good thing is that David was gracious enough to release the sublime ‘Blackstar’ as a parting gift to us mere mortals; donating another slice of his remarkable talent, which, along with his enviable back catalogue, we must content ourselves with to fill the Bowie shaped hole in the fabric of modern culture. Had it on repeat most of the week.

David Bowie – Blackstar

David-Bowie-Blackstar-640x640Finally got round to listening to ‘Blackstar’, which in the context of the death of David Bowie proved to be a cathartic yet delightful experience. In the current musical climate Bowie’s final (?) work stands out as profoundly daring, easily eclipsing much of what passes for popular culture nowadays. It is befitting that such an artist has been so experimental, creatively speaking, right to the end; producing a work that surely rates among his best.

“Ain’t that just like me?” (Lazarus)

There’s a great deal of musical history wrapped up among these songs, as if reflecting upon the five decades Bowie’s career has spanned. You can hear the echoes of time in the jazz riffing, the vocal melodies, the varied guitar parts and the electronic elements, further listens revealing ever deeper textures to the music.

The single, ‘Blackstar’, opens the show in dramatic fashion with pulsating break beats and repetitive vocals, the sweeping orchestration and piercing saxophone adding depth to the challenging opening section. The mid-section provides sharp contrast however, the familiar melody reminding me of the Space Oddity era, with its tempo changes and storytelling vibe as the insistent refrain worms its way into the subconscious.

‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’ follows with uptempo drumming and off kilter riffing of the horns, a very jazzy prelude to the laid back vibe of the intro to ‘Lazarus’. Hauntingly beautiful saxophone then soothes the discordant crashes as Bowie’s poignantly familiar voice subtly building the emotional intensity alongside skittering sax breaks that pull at the heartstrings. Under the circumstances the first person lyrics are emotive to say the least, adding greater dimension to this already sublime song, the atmospheric guitar lines reminiscent of The Cure. Superb.

‘Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)’ is not as easy to get to grips with, but it works in the context of the album; the dark jazz vibe and staccato guitars that ricochet off the irregular rhythms make it a challenging listen. The bright simple vocal melody of ‘Girl Loves Me’ soon takes an equally dark turn as the cello riff pounds along to elements of electronica and break beats pulsating beneath the surface.

The final two tracks make for more comfortable, yet deeply moving listening. Easy piano and smoky saxophone tease an introduction to ‘Dollar Days’ and the seventies tinged folky melancholia of this hauntingly autobiographical track. The saxophone swells like a bursting heart as David sings “I’m dying too” – it’s emotional stuff, the piano picking away slowly in the background before searing guitars segue into the rolling beats of ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’, whose vocal melody is classic Bowie. The orchestration is beautiful as we get all the textures of David’s voice; the saxophone runs and Gilmour-esque guitar lines bringing the record to an optimistic close.

On Blackstar Bowie appears to have tossed the shackles that had contained him and allowed his artistic expression to flow in profoundly moving fashion. It is a challenging yet disconcertingly wonderful record, but somehow a fitting finale to the life of one of the most important entertainers of our time. Oh my.

10/10

David Bowie

http://store.davidbowie.com/

David Bowie

“Don’t believe in yourself
Don’t deceive with belief
Knowledge comes
with death’s release”

January 10th 2016 will forever be remembered as the day the world lost David Bowie. He innovated and created to the very end, having just released his (now) final album, barring the retrospectives, re-issues and studio outtakes that are sure to appear in the future. Thankfully, his inimitable work will resound in the collective conscience for generations to come. Few artists have left such an indelible mark on the world of entertainment and even fewer have been as unique or half as influential.

Bowie was always innovative, constantly updating and renewing, never afraid to move on without looking back; though the temptation to resurrect Ziggy Stardust and other such heroes may have been great during more difficult times. Instead he continued to create, up to his dying days, not only influencing his peers but allowing himself to be influenced by the world around him.

“I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test.”

John Peel once said:
“Pop is a car-boot sale, a parade of trinkets, junk and handicrafts, most worthless, some capable of giving a few moments of pleasure with a few glorious items made more glorious by their unexpected appearance in this market. Then in an unpredictable double-bluff, the worthless can, within a few years, take on great worth and the glorious become merely laughable.”
Bowie’s appearance in said market was always unexpected and mostly glorious, with any apparently worthless work standing the test of time and taking on great worth.

“Written in pain, written in awe
By a puzzled man who questioned
What we were here for.”

It’s incredible that one man has had such a profound effect on the human race and left such a massive cultural footprint behind. To say that I am saddened by his passing is not really the best way to put it. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing him, we were not friends, like most people my relationship with David Bowie is one of fan – artist.

Nevertheless, for me, as I’m sure it is for many, it goes much deeper than that; he has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember, his work has always been there, his influence has spread to other artists whose music I also love. It’s kind of strange because that familiar figure, with all his guises, is not there anymore, they’ll be no more interviews with those mismatched eyes and that broad smile on his face and his self deprecating laughter, no more groundbreaking albums and no more parts being played.

His music will live forever though, and the memories we have all created that are intertwined with his incomparable body of work cannot be taken away from us. My earliest are of hearing ‘Ashes to Ashes’ on the radio, Major Tom already known to all. Then there’s my Mum’s copies of ‘Aladdin Sane’ and ‘Pin Ups’ with their striking cover art. Then came all those hits from the 80s, ‘Lets Dance’, ‘Absolute Beginners’ and ‘China Girl’ – someone had a copy, I no longer remember who. And of course the collaborations on ‘Dancing in the Street’ with Mick Jagger for Band/Live Aid and the unforgettable ‘Under Pressure’ with Queen. Which also reminds me of the stunning performance of ‘Heroes’ at Live Aid.

But it was as a young adult that I really discovered Bowie, my best friend introducing me to ‘Hunky Dory’, which along with ‘Space Oddity’ (a.k.a ‘David Bowie’) got played to death in the first home I ever owned. I once tried to get tickets for a “secret” gig at a small London venue but it was such an exclusive (comeback) show that not even the touts could get hold of them; I had to resign myself to never seeing him play live and to being content with ‘Live from Santa Monica’ and ‘At the Beeb’.

With his passing it is this evoking of bittersweet memories of how and when his work touched us that forces us to reexamine our own lives and contemplate our own existences. And therein lies the sadness – I’m not sad that David Bowie has died; he led a full and rich life and was one of the most significant artists in the history of humanity, I’m sad for what his death means to me, to everyone he touched and to our society. It moves me deeply to think that where once there was a constant that could be relied upon to challenge and inspire in equal measure, whilst sound tracking our very existence, now there is an empty space.

“I’m stuck with a valuable friend
“I’m happy. Hope you’re happy, too.”
One flash of light
But no smoking pistol…”

Rest in Peace David Robert Jones, you will be sorely missed.

Six Reasons Guns n Roses Shouldn’t Reunite

I love Guns n Roses. I was 15 when I was first blown away by ‘Sweet Child O Mine’. I was 17 when I first saw them live at Wembley Stadium. I went on to see them three more times; Wembley again, Milton Keynes and Rock in Rio in 2001, which in retrospect wasn’t half as good as I thought at the time (also borne out by radio replays). I still have Appetite for Destruction on vinyl with the original artwork. I wrote an essay about them for my English Literature course work. They were a massive part of not only my teenage but also my adult life, I mean I still listen to them.

Which is precisely why I am NOT in the least bit excited about the “reunion”. Dammit, yet another nail in the coffin of new music as nostalgia continues to dominate.

Let it lie, it’s not going to be the same, Axl is a completely different person and singer, and the hunger that made them just isn’t there anymore. I was there when the Sex Pistols reformed in 1996 and they managed to pull it off; basically because Johnny Rotten’s voice hadn’t changed and given the band’s premature break-up, they still had something to prove. Moreover, they needed the money! GnR don’t need the money, which makes it ugly; have nothing to prove, and are therefore beating a dead horse; and Axl’s voice has changed beyond recognition.

OK, I’m sure it will be fantastic standing in a field reliving your teenage years screaming “whoa – oh – oh – oh sweet child o mai-ee-ii-ee-iiiine” but lets face it, it’s not going to have anything like this kind of passion.

Yeah sure, they’ll play all those tunes that you know and love so well, but they are hardly “The most dangerous band in the world” anymore.

No amount of rehearsing is gonna get them this tight again.

There’s no way they will have this kind of energy, or shorts (thankfully).

Even if there’s a small miracle and Izzy Stradlin joins the fun, no way will it be this cool.

Even if all the planets align and it all comes together and is somehow really fucking good, there is still no way they will ever be this badass again.

Looking back at what this band once was and what made them great just turns the whole circus surrounding this comeback all the more disappointing. Think I’ll stick with the memories.

Forever Still – Tied Down

Forever-Still-Tied-DownThe debut album from Danish power trio Forever Still is a very personal affair sure to strike a chord or two. This conceptual record amalgamates a series of D.I.Y EP’s into one full length album, covering issues like anxiety and depression, whilst also providing a little light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone who’s ever had a tough time is sure to relate.

Stylistically speaking, the Danes are in similar territory to the likes of Evanescence, though lead singer Maja Shining has her own style and a superb range, shifting easily from lullaby tenderness to searing screams. There is a lot to like about this emotionally intense band; they know how to write a riff, they can pull off epic and have some interesting touches along the way.

Opening track ‘Scars’ kicks off with a hard assed rolling riff and a commercial edge to the chorus; but there are some nice stops and it has an intense contemporary feel, cool track. ‘Once Upon A Nightmare’ has a more epic feel and a killer hook, the melody sounds familiar though. Equally epic sounding is heartfelt power ballad ‘Miss Madness’ with its atmospheric piano and some more killer guitar work.

Despite having a signature sound, there is plenty of variety on offer, ‘Awake the Fire’ being a frantic up-tempo rocker, while ‘Breathe In’ shows off some powerhouse riffing that would be great live. There are some synths brooding under the surface on the nicely structured ‘Alone’, while the piano on ‘Break The Glass’ provides an atmospheric contrast to the bass heavy track.

Although in general they manage to pull off the conceptual idea, the emotional torture aspect begins to wear a little thin after a while, as on ‘Your Light’, and personally, I’m also a little reticent about lyrics being almost solely in the first person. Even so, tracks like the monumental ‘Save Me’ with its insistent chorus, and the atmospheric meanderings of album closer ‘Tied Down’ more than compensate.

All in all, this is a very well executed, highly enjoyable debut from Forever Still; there are plenty of good hard riffs and massive choruses on these songs of substance. It would be nice to see them spread their wings a little wider on future releases, but in the meantime ‘Tied Down’ is well worth a spin.

8/10

Tied Down is out on January 15th, in the meantime check out their bandcamp for some free downloads: https://foreverstill.bandcamp.com/

Kapitu

Kapitu

Recentemente escrevi um artigo gigantesco sobre o estado (precário) da cena musical local em Niterói/Rio de Janeiro, comparando-a com a situação de bandas “grass roots” da Inglaterra. Descobri que os países tem muito em comum quando se trata de musica no fim da cadeia alimentar mas, realmente a situação das bandas fazendo musica autoral, especialmente se for “indie” ou rock alternativo, é mais complicada ainda aqui. https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/rock-in-rio-literally/

O artigo em questão foi escrito baseado em entrevistas conduzidas através de email e pessoalmente, e contei com a participação de membros do Barcamundi, Ambstract, Anxtron e o projeto “On The Rock”, além da grande contribuição do Fabricio Figueiredo do Útero Ruídos e Victor Cunha de A Conspiraçao Produçoes. Porém, uma participação que chegou tarde demais para ser incluída mas é tão interessante que merece publicação, vem do Felipe Viana, vulgo Jahba, guitarrista da banda Kapitu. Ele conseguiu abranger todas as ideias do artigo original de uma forma interessante, especialmente vindo do ponto da vista de uma banda que já conseguiu avançar um pouco mais nas estradas do rock brasileiro.

Kapitu é uma banda que combina aquele som clássico da música brasileira, reminiscente dos anos oitenta, com uns ares de “hard rock” contemporânea. O resultado é mais que agradável; com composições bem pensadas, repletas de uma variedade de “riffs”, refrões marcantes e, de vez em quando, um solo fulminante. Sem medo de misturar os estilos e ritmos, a banda consegue abranger vários aspetos do “rock n roll” e manter uma qualidade invejável.

A seguir estão as respostas profundas do Jahba sobre a cena musical do Brasil:

Quais são as dificuldades mais comuns do cenário musical no Rio?
Acho que a dificuldade maior de se tocar no Rio de Janeiro, fazendo som autoral, é conseguir espaços com boa estrutura de som para tocar. Há um circuito independente no Rio relativamente extenso, mas, no geral, ou são casas underground ou são lugares que não têm shows mas são adaptados pros eventos acontecerem. Isso prejudica muito as apresentações. É ótimo tocar nesses lugares e sempre serão o berço das bandas de rock e nunca devem sair do circuito, mas esses são praticamente o ÚNICO espaço que a cena independente tem.
Se a gente pegar como exemplo nossa cidade, Niterói, quase exclusivamente uma única casa abarca esse tipo de evento, o Convés. Quem é mais das antigas vai se lembrar que existiam outros espaços como o Arab’s Café (em Piratininga) ou a BOX 35 e São Dom Dom (ambos na Cantareira).

A Internet ajuda ou atrapalha as bandas?
Ajuda (e muito!), mas se você souber usá-la. No princípio (ou para sempre), você não vai ter rádio, televisão. Sua vitrine vai ser a internet. Lá é o canal oficial da banda e onde você vai divulgar as primeiras demos, lançamentos de EPs e discos, clipes, vídeos ao vivo. No começo da banda será seu círculo de amigos e companheiros de som que divulgarão seu trabalho.
O erro que muita gente comete é achar que a internet é um local à parte do mundo e que as coisas andam sozinhas, por si só. Primeiro, a internet está o tempo todo em diálogo com as movimentações da “vida real”, ou seja, você precisa estar em conexão com os produtores, bandas, agentes públicos da sua região. É preciso sair de casa e tocar, tocar, tocar, tocar. A internet virá dialogando, complementando e amplificando tudo isso.
Segundo, você precisa divulgar seu material ativamente. As pessoas não vão escutar sua música uma vez e pensar que você é um gênio e automaticamente seu som vai viralizar no mundo inteiro. Tem que tomar a postura de enviar todo o material que estiver produzindo para todas as pontes possíveis. E, de maneira contínua, estar sempre atualizando o material.

O cenário musical aqui do Rio é muito competitivo?
É competitivo no sentido de que tem muitas, muitas bandas de alta qualidade circulando por aí. Só em Niterói sei de cabeça umas seis bandas que já lançaram materiais de alto nível. Facção Caipira, Bow Bow Cogumelo, Parola, Lougo Mouro, Bezouros Verdes, RivoTrio. E teriam outras que nem material lançaram ainda…
Repito: essas são as que eu mais conheço e as de Niterói. Existem muitas, muitas mais.

Kapitu 2

Dá para ganhar dinheiro com música aqui?
Dá sim. Na Kapitu, Marcolino e Yuri, por exemplo, vivem de música. Eles participam de outros projetos, autorais e não autorais, e seguem esse caminho. Mas é importante lembrar que viver de música autoral, é muito difícil. Um caminho que poucos ainda conseguiram traçar, mas que, depois de uma longa estrada, é possível sim.

Em relação a música, quais são seus planos de curto e longo prazo?
Vou responder aqui pelo KAPITU. O plano sempre foi poder fazer nosso som da maneira mais honesta e autônoma possível. Até agora, penso que conseguimos fazer isso. Mas o caminho é longo!

É fácil de se arrumar lugar para tocar aqui, e/ou de se produzir e fazer seu próprio show?
Não… Mas como te disse, desde 2008 estamos circulando de maneira quase frenética. Tocamos em muitos lugares, participamos de festivais, shows coletivos, viajamos, etc. Já temos um público que nos acompanha e sempre recebemos convites para participar de shows e fazer parcerias. Isso não quer dizer que nos acomodamos. Continuamos produzindo nossos shows e produzindo nosso material. Temos de fazer constantes reuniões para planejar as coisas, como produzir vídeos, músicas, compor, dar entrevistas. Acho que quanto mais subimos, mais tarefas, e cada vez mais complexas, vão aparecendo. Nossas últimos desafios foram produzir todas as etapas de confecção do disco, fazer um “crowdfunding” e produzir um clipe!

Com que frequência sua banda ensaia?
Semanalmente, por 3 horas. Mas dependendo da atividade que estivermos mais engajados, concentramos mais nisso. Por exemplo, no começo da banda ensaiávamos até 2 vezes por semana. Antes do primeiro show compomos e ensaiamos durante 10 meses. Na época de gravação do último disco, o “Vermelho” (2015), chegamos a ficar várias semanas tocando quase que diariamente para terminar os arranjos. Em épocas que temos que nos concentrar mais na produção executiva da banda, podemos substituir o ensaio por reuniões também.

Você gostaria de contribuir mais alguma coisa?
Não sei se teria algo mais a acrescentar. Só gostaria de reforçar para galera que está começando: se organizem, toquem em qualquer buraco e façam exaustivos ensaios! Ter controle sobre o que se está fazendo exige muita responsabilidade, humildade e trabalho. Ser roquenrou é arriscar e meter a cara por aí! Então, mãos à obra! Te juro que é compensador.

Muitíssimo obrigado Felipe pelo seu tempo e suas respostas legais. Valeu!