Posts Tagged ‘Devin Townsend


Dr. Lemmy (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love 2011)

Oh, Lemmy.
















You grizzled Adonis. You Saint of Beer. You destroyer of ear drums.

The last time I saw Motorhead was nine years ago and it was amazing. The moled man you see before you opened the Concord Pavillion with a question:

“Con-cord, eh? Never been here before.”

Then they proceeded to whoop everyone’s ass for an hour. It was the best opening act I could have seen as a 16-year old, especially seeing as how Dio and Iron Maiden were next.. The power trio finally made sense and witnessing those same three men playing just as fast at a higher volume nearly a decade later was most excellent. In my review, I mention how the band is very cross-generational, something that grabs attention from all shapes and sizes, but I think they are in an echelon only shared with the great AC/DC. Maybe greater!

Enough hyperlinking…let’s get onto the longwinded portion of today’s topic: 2011 album releases!

Continue reading ‘Dr. Lemmy (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love 2011)’


Cheese part 1, Burger part 2

Zen master Devin Townsend is currently recording the final piece to his four album series and has released a bit of recording footage for his followers. We get a sneak peak at all song titles, a few solid chunks of more than a few tracks, and lots of drum and solo tracking.

The first track on the first album by Steve Vai was Little Green Men and twenty years later Townsend writes “Ziltoid” about a little green man taking over the Earth. I’m not saying that A caused B, instead I believe similar minds spawn similar thoughts. The difference is what makes Devin Townsend so great is his ability to understand the entire musical aspect and not focus near-soley on one instrument: the guitar. His addition of amazing drummers, guitarists, and vocalists is most impressive and only provides the optimal surrounding for his guitar mastery to shine its brightest.

2012 cannot come soon enough, although I’m nervous as to how much material will produce post-Deconstruction. His tours are amazing and his recent capturing of a whole new audience should sustain Townsend’s career for as long as he wants to have one.

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What I’m Listening To

It is difficult to stay up and fresh on the constantly changing landscape of modern music. The constant influx of tunes is always attempting to take my time away from classics and hidden gems I’ve only recently discovered. Here is a gathering of some of the best stuff I’ve been enjoying lately, along with a slice of each one to really make it count.

Pretty Lights – Glowing In The Darkest Night

The always appreciated Denver mastermind has released three EP’s this year, with Night being his most recent. It tends to tread in familiar waters of his first two releases, but that is not a knock. What PL does so well is mix soulful grooves with danceable beats with a focused precision unseen until Smith broke onto the scene. One of the best examples of this is the track “So Much In The Dark” which takes that build-up and really blends it into the meaty guts of the track. PL proves you don’t have to be fast to be electronic, you don’t have to be repetitive to be successful, and you certainly don’t have to be into this kind of music to enjoy.

Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans

I don’t know how to quit you, Sufjan. Regardless of the my mood, employment status, hunger level, emotional output or sexual drive, Sufjan Stevens is always a great listen. His concept albums about the states he’s lived in (Michigan, Illinois, NY) make for sprwaling tales of life and death, but his early work resonates most with me. The track “Sister” will bring tears to your eyes in the right light. It’s a slow churn, from standard guitar chord strumming to solo wankery, finishing off with Stevens’ buttery voice singing some of his best lyrics to date:

What the water wants is hurricanes,
and sailboats to ride on its back.
What the water wants is sun kiss,
and land to run into and back.
I have a fish stone burning my elbow,
reminding me to know that I’m glad
that I have a bottle filled with my old teeth.
They fell out like a tear in the bag.
And I have a sister somewhere in Detroit
She has black hair and small hands.
And I have a kettledrum
I’ll hit the earth with you.
And I will crochet you a hat.
And I have a red kite;
I’ll put you right in it.
I’ll show you the sky

A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders

The landmark hip-hop album that schooled me to the magical ways of Phife and Q-Tip. This track really speaks for itself, and is the opener for their best album. Q-Tip’s furious final stanza is so impressive it still puts MCs to shame years later. Buy this album and never be sad again.

Bison BC – Quiet Earth

I saw this band live a few months ago and my beard clapped when they finished playing…it was that metal. Forget the obvious Mastodon comparison, ignore the semi-generic name and mythos in the songs, and focus your attention to the intricate skill and detail of a badass metal band such as this. Each track does a great job of setting up the others, really giving it that thought-out concept feeling.

Devin Townsend – Infinity

The mad scientist of metal’s best album is…up to you. I love them all. Infinity is potentially his wackiest  and most schizophrenic, therefore winning me over time and time again. I present to you “Bad Devil.” The horns, the swing, this should have been the theme to Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” and made Townsend a cultural icon! Ok, maybe not…

Marty Robbins – Big Iron

Goddamn you, Fallout: New Vegas. You make me listen to this song every twenty minutes I play, and after 46 hours, it’s been ingrained in my DNA. NOW I PASS IT TO YOU!!! HAHAHAHA…sorry, but listening to this song over and over has made me slightly crazy.


Holy Christ on a Cracker, I’ve Been Busy

After getting the job with The Examiner, I didn’t expect to be working a whole lot. I figured an occasional band might stroll into town, and maybe something appealing would be nearby…but that was before concert season started. Now I’m adding hundreds of miles to my car and paying for parking more than a funeral procession.

What have I been up to, you ask? Ok, you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Continue reading ‘Holy Christ on a Cracker, I’ve Been Busy’


What I’ve been up to…

The Bonnaroo blog is coming along and I’m nearly done with the next post…

But in the meantime I’ve been writing in other arenas. I have had the chance to interview a handful of artists, but last week I had my best interview yet. Tommy Rogers of Between the Buried and Me has been an inspiration and excellent musician for many, many years. The metal kid inside of me was stoked when I got to talk to the man himself.

The interview is here and it was in support of a small tour they were on.

I caught the LA show of that tour and reviewed it here. It was fairly excellent, but made me miss the old venues in the Bay Area I went to before moving. The dingy, sweaty, unforgiving, cramped boxes that somehow fit amps, musicians, and 300 fans. Nothing rivals those experiences, and as cool as it is to see those bands grow and fill arenas with a gigantic occupancy, I still yearn for those dirty shows. Those venues seem to foster the metal kid mentality, whereas a classy joint like Hollywood Palladium has a legacy to maintain and respect. I’m not saying I’d like to set the place on fire, but the possibility of that happening always made those shows more fun. The anarchy factor has gone down considerably.

I’m interviewing Boots Riley of The Coup and, more recently, Street Sweeper Social Club for some insight into the Rock the Bells tour. It’s an amazing collaboration of classic and current hip-hop/rap artists, with the stars recreating their definitive albums live.

Here is a list of shows that I MIGHT be covering soon, along with interviews I hope:

August 12th – Coheed and Cambria/Porcupine Tree at Hollywood Palladium

August 21 – Rock The Bells

Sep 16/17 – Primus at Club Nokia

Sep 28 – Nevermore at Key Club

Oct 2 – Matt and Kim at Henry Fonda

Oct 14th – Devin Townsend at Key Club

Oct 30/31 – Tiger Army at Grove of Anaheim

Nov  24  -Black Mountain and Black Angels at El Rey

More posts to come, I swear!


Top Ten of 2009 – #5 and #4

This man is a God.

Meet Devin Townsend: guitar virtuoso and metal master. This Canadian skullet-wearing frontman has put out nearly a dozen albums under his name and half a dozen with the band Strapping Young Lad, one of the best in the past few decades. He has produced everyone from GWAR to Becoming the Archetype and has created a style of production similar to the late, great Frank Zappa.

This man breathes talent.

This year he bestowed upon us loyal subjects a double-dose of Devin. After taking a musical hiatus for a few years, he stopped drinking, stopped smoking, had a baby (well, his wife did), and cut all of his hair off. Unlike Samson, his powers increased as he wrote over 60 songs that he is spreading out into  four album epic, the first two of which were released earlier this year, which brings us to the number five album of the year…

The Devin Townsend Project – Addicted

This is actually the second album, and its just slightly under it’s predecessor, but through no fault of its own. Let me back up…

Addicted is the most grown-up metal album I’ve ever heard. Townsend didn’t just stop drinking and then write amazing music about being sober. He stopped his vices and started learning from them, started creating productive music. Townsend is one of the few fathers of modern metal that understands that the genre is stale when it sticks to its roots. Like everything, a bit of spice and variety will bolster the tunes to new heights, and part of that is lyrical subject matter.

Devin drops mature knowledge like

I don’t want to save my soul now
I don’t want to lose control
And even if it takes a lifetime to learn
I’ll learn.

All while shredding and making his amp scream. Honestly, this style of music is not for everyone, and it’s tough to explain to those not familiar with his prior work. And it’s the little things that make this album work so well: The bleeding from one track to another, the female vocalist (Anneke van Giersbergen), the infuzing themes from prior albums and material, and of course the subtle production is unparalleled.

To hear a grown man (in his 40’s now) scream “Stay away form me pornography!” in an attempt to cure the things he can’t wrangle his soul from is powerful, even more when you understand that he’s not doing this for the money or the fame. He’s a musician’s musician. And speaking of musicians, the fourth album of the year has one of the wackiest line-ups I’ve seen in years.

The Devin Townsend Project – Ki

Devin took a kid working in a Guitar Center, and a dude that played drums for bands like Heart and Jefferson Airplane, and cranked out a work of fucking art. He added another female vocalist, brought in a keyboardist, and wrote, mixed, recorded, produced, and birthed Ki.

This album is more than a collection of songs and thoughts: it’s a stream of consciousness. It begins so soft, so slowly, until about halfway down the album explodes, and this angry father/husband/man expresses his rage.

The album opens with “A Monday” which is a nice, breezy little tune to start things off. it lets the listener know that a ride is about to being and to hang on.

The second track, “Coast”, speaks for itself.

“Gato” and “Heaven Send” are the biggest standouts, with groovy bass lines wiggling in and out. A subtle call and answer string along the latter track, which includes a shift from chill to chaos, with musical volcanoes going off all around you.

This track is followed by a three minute free-form jam session between the band members, this slides perfectly into “Winter”, another instrumental track that chills you out even more. Then, out of nowhere, an Elvis country jam called “Trainfire” erupts into a hormone fueled message about the perils of sex and booze addiction.

And then the album mellows back out, going from slow to molasses, the entire time keeping the sweeps, keeping the intensity, and keeping the themes alive. It really is a thing of beauty.

The man is no stranger to trying new things, as the flute solo and brass swing section of his last album with Strapping Young Lad will tell you. This album features an acoustic version of “Cum On Feel the Noize”, with new lyrics and a new attitude, and he, of course, named it “Quiet Riot.”

It saddens me that guys like Devin Townsend aren’t household names. Rarely do such honest musicians come out and share so much art with the public. And when he puts out such experimental material, his meat-head metal fans give him shit for not playing what he used to play, not able to accept change and growth in their artists. The fact that this guy took a leave of absence, changed his life, and put out music better than he ever has before is a testament to his talent, his work ethic, and his creativity. Because of that, his two albums sit firmly in my top five albums of the year.

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