Category Archives: Experimental

Album Review: Electric Six – Human Zoo

Electric Six - Human ZooI remember the very first time Electric Six (E6) hit my ears.

I was working at a Borders Books, Music & Cafe in some fancy Cleveland suburb one night just minding my own business.  One of my co-workers was unpacking all of the promotional CDs for the listening booths and asked me to help him out.

Flashback Memory: As I am sure many of your remember, there was a time when CDs were the staple of the music industry and at Borders, we literally had to manually input CDs into the CD players that were locked below the CD shelves.  This was done so all you consumers could come in and check out an album prior to its release.  Duh.

Anyways, I remember seeing a copy of E6’s debut release Fire sitting out on the counter.  For whatever reason, I picked up the CD to see what it was all about and soon flipped it over to see the track titles.  I decided to sneak in a listen after I put the CD into the listening station.  I have been a fan ever since.  I just sat there on the floor of the music department loving every song on that title.  Needless to say, I snagged that CD the day it officially released and have had it in rotation for years.

I can’t say every release since Fire had as huge of an impact on me, but I have always appreciated what Dick Valentine and crew have done for 10+ years now.  Last years Mustang left a pretty good impression on me, but I just was not blown away completely.

The Detroit garage/rock/funk/disco/jam/electronica/jack-of-all-trades genre-bending act just dropped an all new album titled Human Zoo.  I am happy to say I mostly enjoyed the living hell out of it and I am pretty confident any E6 fan out there will too.

“Karate Lips” opened with an enthusiastic chant of “Electric Six” that quickly changed to “karate lips”.   The song, clearly about some tough-ass women, was heavy on the funk with an electric indie rock style that closely resembled stuff you might hear from the The Faint.

“It’s Horseshit!” was almost too much for my brain to compute yet I loved it.  It was like listening to a late 80s boy baElectric Sixnd infused with Daft Punk.  Definitely a track that people can get weird to.  The music and just overall feel of this song really resembled that vibe I first felt on Fire.

Valentine swooned beyond senselessly in “Alone With Your Body”.  I listened to this track a couple of times over because I liked it so much.  This was like the working man’s love jam.  Valentine sang as a simple man with plenty of Detroit soul backing him up.  I adored the back up singing as well as candid lyrics like “I’ll be there in a jiffy with a stiffy”.

“Satanic Wheels” grew on me after listening to it a couple of times.  I loved the synth throughout.  I felt like I was listening to typical E6 but with keyboard playing taking queues from 80s arena rock bands.  It was psychedelic yet indie if that makes sense.  I guess what I am trying to say is that this song ruled and was one of my favorites on the album.

“Gun Rights” was bizarre and unexpected.  I thought I was listening to Ween mashed with Mike Patton.  “Don’t take away my rights, my gun rights” repeated over and over with a fun Mexican folk melody.  The quick spoken-word of Valentine in the middle just kept things even more interesting.

“I Need A Restaurant” just did not do it for me.  The song seemed to just downgrade from all the craziness I previously was engulfed in.  Sadly, I skipped this track halfway into and barely made it through “Worst Movie Ever”.

“I’m the Devil” sounded more like something Tenacious D would have done one of their albums.  It was not terrible by any means but seemed more of a skit than a song.  I almost wish Dave Grohl would have jumped in on this track dressed as the devil.  I did like the Young Guns-like guitar playing style.  The best part of this track was at the very end when apparently Jesus Christ had a speaking roll.  Who knew he was such a burnout?

“The Afterlife” ended with a synth-pop tune that thankfully did not let the album end on a bad note for this listener.  I wish it were a little more sped up but for what it is worth, it was not a terrible listen by any means.

Human Zoo overall was a blast.  E6 continues to entertain but I will admit the latter portion of the album kind of fell short.   Regardless, most of the release got me all sorts of excited just like their debut did over 10 years ago.  This band in my opinion still entertains on a higher level.

Album Review: Xerxes – Collision Blonde

Xerxes - Collision BlondeI was waiting for an album to drop this year that would completely steal my undivided attention.  Xerxes has just done that to me.

If any of you know me, chances are you know my love for bands like the Refused, Murder City Devils, Gallows, Thursday and At The Drive-In.  The vocal styles of all those acts is one of the main reasons I have such an appreciation for them.

Xerxes’s new album Collision Blonde seemingly took queues from all those acts and more throwing them together into one killer release.

I love it.  I adore it.  Thank you Xerxes and thank you No Sleep Records for throwing their album on your label.

This young post-punk act from Louisville, KY mixes in so many different musical styles in their jams, I almost hate to classify them into one genre.  With elements of punk,  post-hardcore, goth rock and more, this avant-garde act blew me away the moment I heard their sophomore release Collision Blonde.  

This album overflows with plenty of mental anguish guaranteeing to satisfy any emotional train wreck out there.  Pain, love, and drugs seemingly fueled this release and I’m pretty sure anyone who hasn’t always been in a positive path through life will totally get into Collision Blonde.

Once “I Was Wrong” started I knew this was going to be one of those albums I listened to all the way through with no interruptions.  Calvin Philley just destroys his voice throughout with plenty of distortion that would make Trent Reznor proud.

“Criminal Animal” appealed to me with a garage rock start quickly morphing to something a little more hardcore.  I got a huge kick out of Philley switching to almost a furious spoken word only to start singing again.  “Knife”, toned things down for a moment and clearly was about some object being stuck into one’s back.

“A Toast” had this Cure-like melody and bass line hiding behind intermittent hard riffs and screaming vocals making for a great listen.  The transitions from the singing to the spoken word throughout this track made it even better to listen to.

“Collision Blonde” was beyond a daunting track with Philley just spilling his guts out on top of a melody that easily could be mistaken with The Jesus And Mary Chain or even Bauhaus.  Although dark and lonely, this track really was amazing in so many ways once you got past the emotion and pain.

“Nosedive” ended the album with Philley screaming “just make it stop” over and over.  It was almost like this entire album was a brutal nightmare and it needed to come to an end.

I am not sure if this album was a revelation of pain or a public cry for help.  Regardless, it is powerful lyrically and musically making  Collision Blonde easily one of my favorite releases of 2014 so far.

Perhaps I took in this album a little differently from others.  Having grown up listening to darker styles of music in the 80s and 90s like The Cure and Jesus and Mary Chain, I always wished it were heavier back then.  I loved the music but craved more vocals.  Xerxes seriously captured some of my favorite band styles and added their own harsh twist on it satisfying that younger request.  The result is just insane and I adore it.

Collision Blonde drops on Oct. 21st.  You can pre-order it now over at No Sleep Records.

Friday Night At The Gurley House

Once again, the Gurley House in Akron, OH, has proved for a great evening of music.  There is nothing quite like seeing a show in the basement of a house that just makes it that much more personal.

Tonight I got to see four bands, some of which I have heard of and some who I have been wanting to check out after hearing about them through friends.  The result was four performances by different genre bands all of which caught my attention in various ways.

My resident pal Roscoe started off the night with an electric acoustic solo performance.  He played some of his material, some of which I really think needs to be recorded.  Seriously, it was good shit and even though he hardly plays solo shows anymore, he had no problem jamming out a few tunes.

The Ohioans followed with an acoustic set.  The last time I saw them is when they opened for Jeff Rowe in the very same basement a few weeks back.  I was really impressed by their initial set and really enjoyed the acoustic session.  If you like folky rock you need to check out this up and coming local act.  Head on over to their BandCamp page and download their  self-titled album for free and see why I dig these guys so.  Check out the track  “512”, one of my favs off the album.

Michigan’s Protected Left were supposed to be the headliners of the night, but one of the bands was running late due to a previous commitment.  The threesome had no problem shifting slots and just rocked out hard to the gathering of music loving people.  This band seriously rocked.  Mixing punk, metal, and thrash (sweet sweet thrash…), the band got all technical at times when playing reminding me of shit Strung Out likes to pull yet kept a melodic pop-punk feel throughout.   I loved this band’s sound and really hope to see them push out a full length one day.  Until then, head on over to their BandCamp page and download their 3-song EP titled Songs Of The Doomed for free.  Check out “At Least I Didn’t Cut My Ear Off” and tell me it is not catchy and just bad ass to listen to.  Not only do they play good tunes, but they are also a bunch of cool peoples to hang out with.  Really stoked I had the opportunity to meet them and see them play.  Can’t wait thill them come back to Ohio again.

The last band to play the night was a local act I had heard of through friends but had never seen (or heard) before.  The band, Cherry Cola Champions, not only has a great name for their two man act, but also pretty much blew me away with their set.  Just download the Cherry Cola Champions EP for free and see what I mean (check out “Fievel Goes Midwest”).  I honestly did not think I was going to be able to get into them after their first song, but suddenly I was hooked.  It was experimental at times and very post-hardcore.  I look forward to seeing these guys again.

So that was my Friday night.  What did you do?  Never mind telling me, I’m too tired now…  Just do me a favor and check out the bands I just talked about.  They are all free downloads and worth listening to.

Atari Teenage Riot Return To Cleveland!

I may very will lose my hearing at this show and I am perfectly fine with that…

The last time I saw Atari Teenage Riot live was in 1998 when they opened up for Wu Tang Clan and Rage Against the Machine. I only caught a couple songs from them but loved it. I was a fan already but just could not get into Blossom that quickly. I also missed them when they played with Beck at the J.A.R.

This time I don’t plan on missing them. This show is going to be insane.

Monday Sept. 26th @ Peabody’s – Tickets $17 / $20 d.o.s.

Tri-C: Coheed & Cambria + Cleveland

Who:   Coheed & Cambria w/ special guests Porcupine Tree and The Dear Hunter
When:  Aug 26th – 7:30pm   
Where: Nautica Pavilion (or whatever the hell it is called)

Progressive indie rockers Coheed & Cambria return to Cleveland this week with special guests Porcupine Tree and The Dear Hunter.  I really didn’t think I was going to make it to this show but a pair of tickets landed in my lap and there is no way I am going to miss seeing them.  Having been to multiple Coheed shows over the years I know they never fail to impress.  Looking forward to seeing Porcupine Tree finally as well as taking in The Dear Hunter.