Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Album 365: Day 22 - Ghost - Opus Eponymous

Opus Eponymous

Favorite tracks: Con Clavi con Dio, Ritual, Satan Prayer
Sleeper tracks: Elizabeth, Stand By Him

Probably the best way to celebrate Halloween (even though it's sunny out as I write this)

I learned about Ghost through my friend Clint.  He sent me a YouTube link to a show they did.  I was totally blown away by the stage show and really dug the music.  It frustrated me that a week prior, the band played in St. Paul.  Clint and I were rewarded earlier this summer by being able to see them open for Mastodon.  It was a great show and I'm glad I was able to add the band to my favorite concerts list.

I wish Ghost would have been around when I was in junior high.  The whole 'nobody knows who they are' mystique would have been a trip at that age. I could see myself buying a huge Ghost tapestry to hang in the bedroom.

They're best described as a mix of Blue Oyster Cult and Mercyful Fate.  I hope they're second release comes out before Album: 365 is finished.

Thanks Clint. I owe you one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Album 365: Day 21 - Opeth - Deliverance


Favorite tracks: Deliverance, Master's Apprentices, By the Pain I See In Others
Sleeper tracks: A Fair Judgement, For Absent Friends

Evil music for the evil holiday.

I first heard about Opeth during my rock n roll school days at Music Tech.  I picked up their Blackwater Park release and wasn't too thrilled with it.  As I started recording metal bands at Oarfin, I rediscovered the band with this album.  Something happened in that 1 year that allowed me to appreciate the band and gave them a place on my favorites shelf.

I still say that the song "Deliverance" is one of the most perfect metal songs I have heard.  Fast, slow, fast, it grooves, it's in 7/8 for a good portion of the song, "cookie monster" vocals AND great singing.  The album is filled with long songs and great musicianship (the guitars are super fun to listen to).  It's not my favorite Opeth album but it's the one that contains the song I go back to quite often.  Listening to this record gets me excited for the days when I can add the band's other releases to Album 365.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Album 365: Day 20 - Marillion - Sounds That Can't Be Made

Sounds That Can't Be Made

Favorite tracks: Sounds That Can't Be Made, Pour My Love, Lucky Man
Sleeper tracks: Gaza, Montreal

Another sleeper disc.  I don't think I was expecting glory; but I was not expecting to be as bored as I was with this record.

Marillion has been a band I have tried to like ever since I heard "Kayleigh" on MTV.  THAT is a great tune. The band opened for Rush in the 80s and growing up, some of the bands I liked really dug Marillion.  The bass player is in Transatlantic and I previously stated how much I love their albums.  I never explored their calalog outside of this album, Seasons End, and Misplaced Childhood.  I will probably give them a couple more chances during Album: 365.  For now, I can say that this record was too "moody" for my taste.  There weren't any points in the album where I found myself grooving to the music.  It felt small and too contrived (old guys trying to be current).

Album 365: Day 19 - Spin Doctors - Pocket Full of Kryptonite

Spin Doctors
Pocket Full of Krytonite

Favorite tracks: What Time is It?, How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me?), Shinbone Alley/Hard To Exist
Sleeper tracks: Little Miss Can't Be Wrong, Two Princes

Another guilty pleasure band.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I own this band's entire catalog.

I can't remember when I first heard these guys.  It was probably on MTV or the radio.  My friends and I used to dig on this album quite a bit.  There's great guitar work throughout and Aaron Comess was a drum inspiration through high school (that god awful high tuned snare was all the rage.  I even used his Zildjian 3A drumsticks for a spell).   The song "Refrigerator Car" is in 9/8.  That's not the norm for a 5X platinum  pop album.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Album 365: Day 18 - Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever

Bridge Across Forever

Favorite tracks: Duel With the Devil, Suite Charlotte Pike, Stranger In Your Soul
Sleeper tracks: Bridge Across Forever

I've grown weary trying to defend this band.

2nd release from the group.  I've played this hundreds of times since its release.  Think Beatles meets Emerson, Lake and Palmer meets Genesis while listening to Rush and Yes.  That cool...that masterful.

My favorite tracks are 26, 14 and 30 minutes long.  That should give you an idea of how progressive this band is.  Drummer from Dream Theater, bass player from Marillion, guitar player from The Flower Kings, singer from Spock's Beard.  Enough bombast and melody for the thinking man.   If you want to commit 80 minutes of your life to an album...try this release.  Seriously.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Album 365: Day 17 - Live From Heaven - Live From Heaven

Live From Heaven
Live From Heaven

Favorite tracks:  Look the Other Way, Fear of Failure, Eucatastrophe
Sleeper tracks: Invincible Children, Beautiful Nothing

Live From Heaven is another band that I worked with at Winterland Studios.  I recorded everything but the drums and piano for this release (add recording a bong to my resume, thank you).  Very Chili Peppers/Muse influenced.  They were fun guys to work with.  I was really impressed by the musicianship and the ideas the bad had for the album.  Scott, the singer and guitar player, did a great job with the amount of time we had to do the overdubs.  I always wished we had more time to work on things.  The guitar solo for "Look the Other Way" is one of my favorites I've recorded.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Album 365: Day 16 - Montrose - Montrose


Favorite tracks: Rock the Nation, Bad Motor Scooter, Rock Candy
Sleeper tracks: Good Rockin' Tonight, One Thing On My Mind

I just finished reading Sammy Hagar's autobiography and it inspired me to listen to one of my favorite albums.

I credit my uncle Bill for turning me on to this album.  The record reminds me of summer drives to Red Granite, WI with him.  We'd spend the day swimming at the quarry and this album would be cranked as soon as we got in his car.  My friend Mike (singer in my band) was a fan of the album and there were times during high school where this didn't leave the CD player.

It's been heralded as one of the best rock albums of the 70s and it's truly one of my favorites...a definite party album. R.I.P.  Ronnie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Album 365: Day 15 - Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Led Zeppelin
Houses of the Holy

Favorite tracks: The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, No Quarter
Sleeper tracks: D'yer Mak'er, The Crunge

A tip of the hat to Zeppelin and their recently released concert movie 'Celebration Day'.  I saw it last night and was happy to hear 2 of my favorite tracks from this album.

This was one of the first 3 compact discs I purchased.  I grew up listening to Zeppelin played on the radio and Zeppelin 4 was a staple for every young musician/drummer.  Houses of the Holy was the first Zep album that I could listen to with headphones and be 'enchanted'.  I thought the album was stellar and anthemic.  The Song Remains the Same still gives me goosebumps when the main riff comes in.  Hell, I was listening this morning and realized (for the first time...I'm so embarrassed) that The Rain Song drums are played with brushes all the way through.  This album marked the start of my favorite Zeppelin era.  The stuff they did after this was to me, their best work.  I can't wait to listen to those later this year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Album 365: Day 14 - Van Halen - Van Halen II

Van Halen
Van Halen II

Favorite tracks: Somebody Get Me A Doctor, Outta Love Again, Light Up The Sky
Sleeper tracks: Bottoms Up!, Beautiful Girls

Chalk another one up for my parents.  I loved playing this album as a kid.  I would follow along with the lyrics and stare at the photos on the sleeve for the entire 32 minutes of playback.  I didn't realize that Van Halen I was the more popular of the 2 records when I was that young.  Alex Van Halen's drumming on my favorite tracks was something I gravitated towards.  I have spent countless hours playing along to this record and will always it over any other VH release strictly out of loyalty.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Album 365: Day 13 - Pretenders - Pretenders


Favorite tracks: Tattooed Love Boys, Wait, Mystery Achievement
Sleeper tracks: Space Invaders, Stop Your Sobbing

Here's another tribute to my parents.  Thanks for having this album around when I was a kid.  Before I understood lyrics and figured out Chrissie Hynde likes fucking and singing about it, I was spinning this record  and wishing I was as cool as Pete Fardon (guy on left with Triumph jacket).  There are some really great songs on this album and James Honeyman-Scott's guitar work was very influential.  It's sort of a mystery to me why I liked this record.  No big-ass drum kits, no 12 minute songs.  I wouldn't have dreamed to attach myself to this record in my teens.  I think it's safe to say that if it wasn't a great album, I wouldn't still think about it today.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Album 365: Day 12 - Live - Secret Samadhi

Secret Samadhi

Favorite tracks: Lakini's Juice, Graze, merica
Sleeper tracks: Ghost, Gas Hed Goes West

I think that everybody could say  they were introduced to Live through MTV.  It's not a bad thing since the band was pretty good at writing great songs that people liked.  I dug Throwing Copper almost as much as the next guy but Secret Samadhi was a breath of coolness when I first heard it.  I think it was one of those, 'I'm buying this album from Live because I liked their last one'  albums; and it was more than I expected.

The production on the record is really tasty.  The songs are some of the best that the band wrote.  Hooky chorus' and great guitar riffs.  I always liked Chad Gracy's drumming on this one.  Tight and song-serving.  This is an album I always look forward to hearing and I get excited whenever I choose to play it.

Album 365: Day 11 - AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
1981 (US)

Favorite tracks: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Love At First Feel, Problem Child
Sleeper tracks: There's Gonna Be Some Rockin', Squealer

This is the first album that I ever bought on my own.  I was brought to Pipe Dreams in Appleton, WI by my aunt Sue.  It was probably around the time the album came out in the US (1981) so that would make me 5 or 6.  I was an AC/DC fan already, playing the crap out of my parent's Highway To Hell 8-track.

AC/DC had released their albums later in the US than in Australia.  This record was done in 1976 but didn't see the states until 81 (after Bon's death).  That was confusing as hell for a kid.

The album is classic early AC/DC: a bit raw with minimal production.  Mutt Lange hadn't begun to work with the band yet and the lack of production expertise shows on the backup vocals and songs like "Squealer".

Oh, and I love the album cover.  One of many albums I'll be listening to created by Psignosis and/or Storm Thorgerson.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Album 365: Day 10 - Rush - Counterparts


Favorite tracks: Animate, Between Sun and Moon, Alien Shore
Sleeper tracks: Nobody's Hero, The Speed of Love

Rush should be the fist band I list twice in Album: 365.  Today marks the 19th anniversary of the release of Counterparts.  I remember going with my friends/bandmates to Apple Emporium for the midnight release of this album and Pearl Jam's Vs. album.  It was the ultimate in fan duties: anticipating the songs (we had only heard the single, "Stick It Out" on the radio a few times), endlessly talking about the song and album titles, going downstairs to jam,  waiting for midnight, driving to the store, opening up the CD and listening to it for the first time...on a school night.  That pretty much describes a perfect day for me at the age of 17.

Sonically, Counterparts is the band's second best sounding album (Moving Pictures is number one) and it's a really dark record musically.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Album 365: Day 9 - Chris Duarte - Texas Sugar Strat Magic

Chris Duarte
Texas Sugar Strat Magic

Favorite tracks: My Way Down, Shiloh, Scrawl
Sleeper tracks: What Can I Do?, Borrowed Love

I discovered Chris through a band mate of mine.  He borrowed me the CD right around the time the local rock station in Appleton, WI started playing the first track from this album.  He played a pretty big show in the dead of winter at Ryans Ballroom, Combined Locks, WI...1996 I think.  The place was packed and I couldn't believe how loud it was in this converted school auditorium/gym.  I think the music world was looking for the next SRV and this album came out at the right time.  It's a great representation of mid 90s Texas blues and Chris does a great job with the vocals.

I have seen Chris and his band perform about 8 times since I discovered him.  He puts on a hell of a show.  He would play in the bar of Ryans Ballroom quite a bit; and my friends and I would get there early, help set up, haul gear and hang with him and the band.  He was always gracious, thankful for the help and never was annoyed by us being there.  It was a shame that his popularity dwindled to a point where he would be playing in front of 30-40 people when he came through town.  He did have a revival after those days but when I would see him at Famous Dave's in Minneapolis, the spark wasn't there. Haven't figured out if it was him or me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Album 365: Day 8 - Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger


Favorite tracks: Outshined, Slaves and Bulldozers, Jesus Christ Pose
Sleeper tracks: Searching With My Good Eye Closed, Mind Riot

I found out about Soundgarden on Easter Sunday, 1992.  The Easter Bunny left me an issue of Modern Drummer.  There was an article about Matt Cameron and I was intrigued by what they wrote about him and the band.  What's funny to me is that Elvin Jones was on the cover of that issue and Cameron has since been described as the Elvin Jones of his generation (more on Elvin later in this blog).

I think it was a few months later that I heard this album.  I really liked the first 4 songs but thought the last 4 weren't very fun.  In later years, Slaves and Bulldozers became my favorite song and I was able to appreciate the rest of the album.  My snobby drummer side loved how Matt was able to make odd time signatures sound cool and tough.  The drop D tuning of Outshined was probably the sludgiest thing I heard up to that point.  It is a really good metal album and I still go to it often.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Album 365: Day 7 - Jimi Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune

Jimi Hendrix
Valleys of Neptune

Favorite tracks: Bleeding Heart (Elmore James cover), Lover Man, Lullaby for the Summer
Sleeper tracks: Valleys of Neptune, Fire

I was introduced to Hendrix by my parents and FM radio.  I always had a fondness for him as a musician but I was one of the few who thought A) he was a better rhythm player than people realized and B) his band was never given enough credit.  'Fire' was a staple for the band I was in during high school.

This album was released in 2010.  I know I said that I wouldn't listen to compilations but Valleys of Neptune was promoted as Jimi's unfinished 4th album.  I first heard the  Seriously, this is the first I knew of this Hendrix album.  There have been so many greatest hits releases of his work that I just assumed this release was another way to make some money by switching the song order from his other greatest hits albums.  Most of the songs were new to me and the versions of "Stone Free" and "Fire" weren't as good as the ones we are accustomed to.  I'm glad I listened to it but I didn't hear anything that struck me as much as his first 3 albums. Sorry Johnny.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Album 365: Day 6 - The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

The Joy Formidable
The Big Roar

Favorite tracks: I Don't Want To See You Like This, Whirring, Chapter 2
Sleeper tracks: Buoy, The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade

I came across this band via a Facebook post.  The person linked a video and I think they were going to go see them in town.  Tonight was the first time I played the album all the way through.

I came up with a new genre of music.  I call it 'Cell phone commercial rock'.  You know, the kind of music you'd hear in a cell phone commercial.  This record would fit into that genre.  I will admit that it was hard to get into this album.  I did really like the song 'Whirring'. ' Chapter 2' was pretty decent too.  There were some good riffs and despite what some people might tell you, I DO appreciate chick singers besides Ann Wilson.  There's just something about this one that didn't grab me.  I might be wrong and I can accept that.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Album 365: Day 5 - King Crimson - Red

King Crimson

Favorite tracks: Red, One More Red Nightmare
Sleeper tracks: Providence

My aunt Lisa used to play early 80s King Crimson for me when I was a kid.  I liked it.  I liked the quirkiness of Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp's music was interesting. I didn't really dig the band consistently until I was in high school.

I found Red at a used CD store in Appleton, Wisconsin (Disc-Go-Round or whatever it was called by 1997).  I asked to hear the CD in one of the listening stations and skipped through the intros of the songs.  I got to "One More Red Nightmare" and the hook was set.

This is probably King Crimson's best album ever.  It's one of my top 50 albums for sure.

Album 365: Day 4 - Billy Cobham - Spectrum

Billy Cobham

Favorite tracks: Quadrant 4, Searching for the Right Door/Spectrum, Stratus
Sleeper tracks: To the Women In My Life/Le Lis

I came across Billy Cobham through countless hours of reading Modern Drummer magazines.  I didn't really hear him until 1992 when a drum teacher of mine suggested I find some of his stuff on record.  I am ashamed to say that it took me a few years of being stupid to appreciate the perfection of Billy and this album.  Christ, the band he put together is a dream: Jan Hammer on keys (Miami Vice theme is the worst thing he did), Lee Sklar on bass (that big bearded guy who played with Phil Collins for years), Tommy Bolin on guitar (underrated player, played with Deep Purple after Blackmore left but this is probably his coolest contribution to music as far as chops are concerned).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Album 365: Day 3 - Align - Blue Book Value

Blue Book Value

Favorite tracks: Lost On The 10, Rapidan, Never Less Than Once Removed
Sleeper tracks: Dress Down To Home, Quest For Townies

Throughout Album 365 I will be listing a few albums that I have worked on.  There are a handful of albums that I'm really proud of and some, like Blue Book Value, are really fun to listen to.  I've referred to this album as my 'Raking Leaves' record.  Think rake air guitar in the front yard.

This album is special to me because of the guys in the band were cool and allowed me to be part of the recording process and hilarity during the moments of downtime.  I recorded the bass, guitars and vocals.  I can say that the drums on this record are probably the best I've heard come out of Oarfin Studios in the almost 3 years that I worked there.  This album was done on 2 inch tape.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Album 365: Day 2 - The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full of Blues

The Blues Brothers
Briefcase Full of Blues

Favorite tracks: Messin' With the Kid, I Don't Know, "B" Movie Box Car Blues
Sleeper tracks: (I Got Every Thing I Need) Almost, Soul Man

My parents had this record and it quickly became mine when I discovered it.  I used to put on shows for people, singing along to the album.  I listened to it quite a bit but only when I was in my mid 20s did I realize what a kick ass band it was.  Steve Jordan's drumming is phenomenal and the whole band is littered with awesome musicians.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Album 365: Day 1 - Rush - 2112


Favorite tracks:  Overture, Presentation, Grand Finale, Lessons
Sleeper tracks: Tears, The Twilight Zone

I thought I'd start this adventure with my absolute favorite album.  My aunt Jodie gave me a copy of this record when I was 5 and it started my love affair with the band and progressive music.  I've listened to this album hundreds and hundreds of times and this morning, I heard a subtle vocal flub I had never noticed before.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Album 365: Listening to an album a day.

I got this idea from somebody on a forum I used to frequent.  What's funny is that the forum's main subject was a text-based football simulation game I have loved to play since 1998.  Strange how worlds collide.

The idea is pretty simple:  Listen to 1 album a day for a year.

It's quite an undertaking but when I sit back and think about it, it's not too daunting of a task.  I grew up with albums (records or whatever you wish to call them) and still appreciate the art form of the long play.  In this age of downloadable singles, a person can lose sight of what an album represents.  It's a piece of art that was meant to be listened to as a whole (at least in my enchanted view of music).  I've always complained that there isn't a portable music device that has enough storage to hold all my albums.  I usually pick a band's song and listen to the album associated with it.  You sit through the sleepers and are rewarded with the deep cuts.  It's a give and take that has kept me interested in music listening for the last 33 years.

I've come up with a few 'house rules' or guidelines for this adventure.  It'd be foolish to not catalog the feelings and thoughts that come with each spin (or click as I'll probably be listening through my phone, computer or iPod).

  • Can't repeat any albums in the course of the year. 
  • Any extra listening I do on a given day can't count for blog entries later on.  
  • I'll post band, album title, date of listen along with brief notes about the record. It's not going to be a full review...just a few comments about the selection.  
  • While I dig EPs, I have enough albums in my collection that will probably allow me to skip over the shorter releases.  Unless I'm really inspired by it, I won't be selecting EPs, greatest hits, compilations or tribute albums.
  • I'm going to try to not listen to the same band 2 days in a row.  That might be a challenge but it also may lead me to explore bands I haven't listened to before.  I actually have things in my collection I haven't played.  
  • The album doesn't have to be listened to in one sitting but I will try to do that.  It's more fun to do that and allow yourself to concentrate on the whole of the record. 
  • Have fun and don't think of it as a chore. 

I hope to start this tomorrow.  The worst thing about starting this task is that I get sidetracked really easy.  I also tend to get lazy with things I don't HAVE to do.  If I don't start tomorrow, I will start by the end of this week.  From there, it should be a long, strange trip (I won't be wasting my time with Greatful Dead albums).