Archive for March, 2008

Album Review: Cody’s Dream

March 26, 2008

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Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands – Cody’s Dream.

For those that do not know about Mark Pickerel, he was the original drummer for seminal alternative band. The Screaming Trees. He has also worked along such alternative luminaries such as: Kurt Cobain, Mike Johnson, Ben Shepherd, Jack Endido, Krist Novoselic, Steve Fisk and final Screaming Trees drummer, Barret Martin. Steve Fiskis also the producer of the Praying Hands debut album, Snakes in the Radio as well as Cody’s Dream.

This is the follow up to the Praying Hands’ debut album, Snake in the Radio. This album is along the sames lines as Snake in the Radio, but where Snake in the Radio could be considered Alt. Blues of sorts, Cody’s Dream is full-blown Alt Country. It loosely follows the same path of telling a story throughout the album, but it is much looser. Mark also talks more about religion then he did with his previous effort. He seems to back away from religion in some songs, but is drawn back to it again in others. The same thread of “works for some, not for me, though” seems to be a persistant theme. Very much like his fellow maverick Mark Lanegan does time and time again. (Maybe a concidence, but they did play together in the Screaming trees from 85-91).

The album starts off hard and fast with the title track and gets you prepared for the journey that Pickerel and His Praying Hands is about to take you on. Mark’s soft brooding vocals are like that of a soft spoken gentleman that has an aura of trust and experience. Some songs are faster than others, but the album flows really well. There is a lot of great music on this record.

Mark shows his comedic side with the song “Leaving with the Swamptones” as he tours from church to church throughout the country looking for pretty girls. “First stop is gonna be Charlotte. I’ll just bet she’s hot”. As Brian Chidester (Editor in Cheif of Dumb Angel Magazine) so aptly put it, ” ‘Last Leaves’ is a song the Neil Young wishes he wrote”. Religion and relationships are very thematic throughout the record and that can relate to everyone in any faction of life. We have all experienced one or the other, if not both, but we can’t put words to it. Luckily, we have people like Pickerel to do it for us. I highly recommend this album to anyone who likes good music and a good time.

Todd

Cody’s Dream and Snake in the Radio are available at BloodshotRecords.com

Love Battery

March 10, 2008

In the midst of the “Seattle Scene” of the late-80s-Early 90s there were a lot of bands that were well known, and A lot of bands that were swooped up by major labels intent on capitalizing on the new wave sweeping over music. Sadly, Love Battery never reached the pinnacles of success that the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Melvins, Afghan Whigs, or even the Screaming trees reached (More on those bands at a later date).

The band formed in 1989 at the height of he indy explosion in Seattle. Their debut single, Between the Eyes, was a moderate hit for Sub Pop (and a great song that you need to hear) and Sub Pop included it on their venerable grunge retrospect CD, The Grunge Years (1991). Love Battery scored with their first full-length album, “Dayglo”. While not commercially as successful as they would have liked, it was a critical success and gave them credibility as a band. Their next release was disappointing for a few reasons. The first, and most glaring, is that after “Dayglo”, the band signed to a major label (Polygram) and wanted to release “Far Gone” on their new label. However, there were contract disputes with Sub Pop and the label dumped it. Sub Pop released their own, rougher, version of “Far Gone” but it was not well received. They planned to re-release the album on Polygram in 1994, but the never materialized.

In 1994, they continued on with Atlas, a subsidiary of Polygram, and released “Nehru Jacket EP“. the label did not get behind it, however, and it suffered due to lack of exposure. Another bad break for a great band. Their last effort on Atlas was 1995’s “Straight Freak Ticket”. This was a great release that, once again, received little fanfare. By the mid-90s the tide of grunge music had ebbed and the record industry was looking for something different. Love Battery was too connected to the Grunge movement and was lost in the shuffle. too bad, its a great record.

After a hiatus for 4 years, Love Battery released “Confusion Au Go Go” in 1999 for the C/Z label. You might know C/Z for the “Teriyaki Asthma” releases. Because it was an indy label, it did not have the money or the resources to really promote the album. Several stand out tracks including, “Colorblind”, “Snipe Hunt”, and my personal favorite, “One Small Step”. This is a great album that came out in the midst of a lot of terrible albums. (you may remember 1999 for acts like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and the like unless you have blocked it from your memory). This is one album that is not to be missed.

Currently, Love Battery is on hiatus and have not recorded an album since “Confusion Au Go Go. I, for one, hope that they make another album because I have never been disappointed with a release of theirs.

Todd.

The Soulsavers feat. Mark Lanegan

March 2, 2008

On Sunday night, December 2nd, I had the privilege of going to this amazing concert. The night I had been waiting over a year for had finally come to pass. The show started with the band Spain playing the opening act. They were good, but I could not wait for them to be over because I, and the rest of the packed Troubadour, knew that the Soulsavers were coming on next. For those who do not know the Soulsavers, let me tell you who they are. The Soulsavers are a British electronica/hip hop/gospel band. They are incredibly talented musicians who have received overwhelming critical acclaim for their first release, Tough Guys Don’t Dance (2003) as well as their newest CD It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land (2007). They received a lot of notoriety for their second album because, not only is a phenomenal album, but also because of Mark Lanegan’s contribution. Mark wrote and sang on most of the album. Mark is the kind of musician that brings instant credibility to any label he is on, or any band that he sings with and the Soulsavers are no exception, even though they are very good on their own.

They started off the night with a rocking version of the instrumental “Ask The Dust” that was awesome. When that song was completed, he man himself, Mark Lanegan, walked out and began to sing “Ghosts of You and Me”. They played Lanegan’s cover of Junior Kimborough’s “All Night Long” and then went back to their own “Paper Money”. The gospel singers they used for backup were simply amazing. Instead of doing all their own stuff, the band took risks and were rewarded greatly when they covered “Effigy”, “Codeine”, and “Feels So Good”. The song, “Spiritual” (written by vocalist Josh Haden who appeared on their first CD, “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”) really took the crowd into another world as Lanegan, desperate for companionship, cried out to Jesus to help him. Really powerful. They even spliced in Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning” to their own “Cabin Fever”. “Cabin Fever” is the only song they played from “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”.

After “Cabin Fever” the band walked off stage only to come back out a minute later to blow us away with the lead single off “It’s Not How You Fall, It’s the Way You Land”, “Revival“. they ended the show with a gospel version of “Midnight Special”. I pity the man who has not heard a gospel version of “Midnight Special”. It was a great way to end the show. The show was just amazing. The band was extremely tight and the musicianship was outstanding. Nothing like being five feet away from your favorite musician.

Todd

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Cultural Historian?

March 1, 2008

What comes to mind when hearing those words? Is it someone who collects historical data about a culture and shares the information for others to learn? If it is not, then it should be. However, more often then not, it is applied to people who like music made before the 1960s. This is not only wrong, it is ignorant. Music is music, and music is timeless. Music has a history, but music is not history. Sure, if you are like me, you can hear a song and know what decade it is from. But, I ask, why is a song made in 1937 not as good in 2008? There is a disconnect of logic there.

The Problem with music today is that they do not study the history of music and seemingly disregard all songs that were written before 1998. they learn how to play the guitar and sing lyrics that some would define as catchy. Their record does well and they think they are bigger then music and get sucked into an alternate reality that only they are contained in. I don’t care who you are, how many records you’ve sold, or how many magazine covers you have been on, you are not a better musician then someone like Robert Johnson. He gets cast aside, though, because he had the misfortune of being born in 1911. You will not anyone more entertaining then someone like Louis Prima. He is irrelevant, though, because he made music in the 1950s.

I know what you are saying. You are saying that songs back then played to the popular trends of the day and we cannot identify with that culture. I am going to let everyone in on a secret. Fashions and trends of today will fade away and no longer be popular. Everything will fade. Why not learn about other periods of time? It will allow you to appreciate more music than you ever thought possible. You will go from saying “That was a great song for 1920″ to “That was a great song”

Todd


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