Category Archives: Progressive Rock

Album Review: Bad Luck Jonathan – Bad Luck Jonathan

Bad Luck Jonathan is the band your father probably told you about that never actually existed.

Sounding like they are straight out of the 70s, this Jon Langford project carries the fuzz, the soul, and plenty of the mean deviation of a progressive space rock act that could fool any naive music listener into thinking that this band is an obscure band from the past.

For those who have not heard of the name Langford, you should probably stop what you are doing and go check out a few songs from  his first band, The Meckons, a punk band that took root 40 years ago.  The dude is a fricking legend, but be forewarned, Bad Luck Johnathan is a lot more astray from what Langford once started with and mind you, the Meckons were all over the place.

I should probably mention that Bad Luck Jonathan is not just Langford though.  Former Whiskeytown guitarist, Phil Wandscher and Martin Billheimer joined forces with Langford along with the Waco Brother’s very own Joe Camarillo and Alan Doughty (who also happened to be in Jesus Jones).  It’s been said they came together on an island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest in very specific circumstances.

Realizing they were on to something good, the band, with help from Cleveland’s very own Blue Arrow Records, dropped a spacey, sludge rock self-titled album.  That descriptor alone right there just sounds bad ass.  Well, so is the album.

Album opener “3 Eyed Piranaha” was a space rock blues jam that pretty much opened the gates of what was to come on this album.  It was like listening to Mike Watt, Suicidal Tendencies, Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughn all smashed together.  It was beautiful.

“Bad Luck Jonathan” carried a very Doors-y feel at the beginning, but went the path of Bowie and beyond.  “Strong Engine” was a mysterious sounding track with some catchy guitar lines backed by smooth bass playing that erupted halfway into a full-fetched jam.

“Clowntown Collapse” closed the album down with a distortion-driven almost cowpunk sounding track that I really got a kick out of.  I could only imagine this song being played live in a dark, small venue, especially by the end when Langford commented into the mic, “that was great” as the song ended.

Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, I can tell you this is not just some quickly thrown together album.  Personally, by the end, I was hoping for more as it was a hell of a listen.  There is a lot of talent thrown into these six tracks and I’ve personally listened to it over a few times now as it carries a unique sound I am really digging.

The LP version of this album was pressed by Gotta Grove Records and looks killer thanks to the red opaque color of the wax.

If you want to snag a copy, head over to Blue Arrow Records.

I got a kick while reading an interview with Lone Star Music Magazine and felt the need to share.  Langford joked about working with Blue Arrow by saying, “we made an album that’s coming out on Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland; their only other artist is Jonathan Richman, so they only work with artists with Jonathan in their name.”

Langford is a trip, and judging by the video below, so are his live performances.  I really need to check these guys out live next time they roll through Cleveland.

 

Album Review: Davenport Cabinet – Our Machine

Travis Stever is a pretty busy man.  You may have heard his name before as he is one of the founding members of some small, little band called Coheed and Cambria.  When he is not touring the world playing to his die hard fans, Stever has his own solo project called Davenport Cabinet.  Earlier this year, Stever dropped his second solo release titled Our Machine.  Full of a folk alt-rock sound at times, the album is quite catchy and just further showcases how great of a musician Stever really is.

Now when say I folk rock, don’t go thinking I am talking about the folk rock that is stealing the music scene these days.  This is a much more intriguing sidestep into a great genre of music.  When listening to this album, I thought of everyone from Pink Floyd to Rush, as well as Queensrÿche and even Van Halen.  Sure, combining all of those bands might sound a little off, but I tell you, this sophomore release by Stever is far from that.

Starting the album was the instrumental “Night Climb” that kind of set the level for what I was about to hear.  Acoustic guitars played over electronic sounds for less than a minute while someone beat on on a drum.  I really was not sure what to expect from this.

“Deterioration Road” was the song that for whatever reason reminded me of Van Halen and honestly, it was because of the singing style.  The music however was very much more progressive and just well put together.  In fact, the beginning of the song is where I could hear Pink Floyd.

“Simple Words” was an acoustic folksy jam with Stever’s cousin Tyler Klose (thanks for the correction via tweet Travis!) sounding a lot like Geoff Tate.  Don’t let that discourage you in any way though, this was a great jam especially when Stever’s other cousin Laura Tsaggaris met Klose making for a great duet.  The harmony those two created was just perfect.  You can tell that a lot of thought was put when recording this track, it is flawless.  If there is one track on this album you need to check out, make it this one.  Hands down, this was my favorite song on the album.

“Sister Servent” followed with a certain Coheed and Cambria sound I have grown so accustomed to but instead of Claudio Sanchez taking on vocal duties, Klose however did his own thing and pulled it off quite well.  The drumming and the guitars on this track were so captivating switching from a distorted riff to a modest jam on guitars while impressive beats backed them all up.

Stever dabbled with some electronics in “These Bodies”, and interesting track that really was a lot darker than previous tracks.  Seeming to talk about redemption and dying, the track sounded good but just caught me off guard.  Then came “Our Machine”, a poignant and fun acoustic song that really screamed folk rock but also did not let go of the progressive feel.  This track was a foot-stomping jam that I enjoyed quite a bit.  Once again, you can literally hear the all the hard work put into this track.  I especially loved hearing the banjo being plucked throughout.

“Black Dirt Burden” once continued with the banjo and one of my favorite effects that Stever played with Coheed and Cambria, the talk box.  Immediately following was his trademark tearing-apart-the-guitar-solo, but only for a moment.  Once again I am could not help but think of 80s rock throughout this track, but not without gracious amounts of guitar solos and even a little more talk box.  This track really proves how talented Stever really is and not just because he busted out the talk box.

I liked the change up in “Drown It All”, a more country folk sounding track.  Use of the slide during the song was perfectly ok to this listener.  Leaving behind the progressive sound, this track sounded quite cheerful yet I have reason to believe it was speaking of addiction.  I could be wrong of course. “Dancing On Remains” sounded like Peter Gabriel took over singing duties for a moment.  This track seemed to lose some of the momentum captured in many of the previous tracks.  I just could not get into this song at all.

Thankfully “At Sea” caught my attention again, but not entirely.  Of all the tracks on this album, this was the one I felt just had too much going on.  “Our Father” ended the album with a slow start that soon morphed to a overly-distored guitar riff that soon was met with some smooth guitar solos.  The instrumental soon faded out leaving me wanting to hear more of the chaotic experimental guitar playing.

I’ve seen Coheed more times than I have fingers on my hands and I have always enjoyed watching Stever just kill it on guitar solos and play the talk box during select tracks.  It is no surprise to hear from him the exceptional musicianship on Our Machine.  Sounding prog-rock at times, many of the songs really remind me of a distant Queensrÿche relative, but the folk sounding tracks are what captivated me the most.

If you could accept The Prize Fighter Inferno from Sanchez, then you have no reason not to do the same for Stever.  This album is full of great tunes and really should be dismissed as a solo project as Stever, with help from friends, has really put together a solid album for all to hear.

Rock On The Range 2012 Lineup Announced!

Now in its 6th year, the ever popular Rock On The Range is taking over Columbus, OH, from May 18th to the 20th at Columbus Crew Stadium.

“If you thought last time was a blast, then this time we are gonna blow your f#@*ing mind,” – co-headliner Rob Zombie.

The current lineup for RotR 2012 is as follows: Incubus, Rob Zombie, Shinedown, Marilyn Manson, Five Finger Death Punch, Slash, Megadeth, Chevelle, Cypress Hill, Mastodon, Theory of a Deadman, Volbeat, Down, The Darkness, Halestorm, Escape The Fate, P.O.D., Lacuna Coil, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Cavo, Attack Attack!, Trivium, Bobaflex, Falling In Reverse, Redlight King, Aranda, Emphatic, Otherwise, James Durbin, Black Tide, Kyng, 12 Stones, SOiL, Rival Sons, Eve To Adam, and Ghosts of August.

That’s a pretty healthy lineup!  I do not know about you, but there a few bands playing this year that I would not mind checking out, including The Darkness, Volbeat, Mastodon, and Down.

To make things even more fun, the Friday Night 4Play returns, which is an absolutely FREE with every RotR weekend ticket purchase. The May 18th party will be featuring performances from Hairball, Foxy Shazam, Hells Bells and more… Did someone say Foxy Shazam???

Tickets go on sale on Friday Feb. 10th at 10am.

This has proved to be a fun weekend festival year after year.  Don’t miss out!

God Is An Astronaut

Can’t say that I am that familiar with the Irish post-rockers God Is An Astronaut, but after seeing their video for “Route 666” today, I am hoping to change that.

In celebration of their 10-year-career, the band recently remastered their entire catalog with plans of releasing CDs and LPs this year starting next week.  The band released this in regards to their success:

“We would like to thank all our loyal fans for supporting us over the last 10 years through some of the darkest and happiest moments of our lives. It’s been an absolute privilege to share our music with so many people over the years; this is not the Beginning of the End but the End of the Beginning.” – God Is An Astronaut

I think I am most impressed that this band had done their thing all by themselves.  Since 2002, they have been releasing their own albums and setting up their own tours resulting in building a pretty huge fan base.

If you dug the above and want to pick up an album or two, head over to http://www.superadmusic.com/god/shop.html.

New Coheed & Cambria Song…

Well it’s been a little over a year since prog-rockers Coheed and Cambria dropped new material. Today the band released “Deranged”, a track to appear on the upcoming compilation called Batman: Arkham City – The Album.  For those of you who do not know, Batman: Arkham City is actually a video game that is going to be released in mid-October.

Check out the track here:

Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez had this to say about the song:

“I write in a very conceptual format with the stories that surround Coheed and Cambria, but Batman has a much larger, defined history and rules that go along with it. My goal was to find universal themes from Batman’s existing history to help give the lyrics legs and dimension so that the song could live within that world.”