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Mudfoot – untitled

Grab a bottle of hand sanitizer, a towel, some bleach, a bar of soap, mouth wash, and for good measure get yourself a silver cross because today we are breaking down an album by MUDFOOT, and by the time we are done you will feel dirty.

Usually found singing for nickles around the liquor store on East 72nd and St. Clair, Mudfoot is a blues/rock band intent on drinking, smoking, and taking out the ladies…to drink and smoke. This seven song love affair with hard liquor and partying is a fun ride that takes you from the east side of Cleveland out to the mean streets of Chardon.

“Foxy Little Freak” is a smooth number perfect for a Billy Dee Williams movie from the 70’s. Think SNL’s Ladies Man meets Cleveland’s own Unified Culture. The Rapture observed on their last record that dancing has become a lost art form, but one listen to this tune and even the whitest dudes will find a little rhythm.

Though I don’t smoke myself I can’t help but wish “Smoke Every Day” was my theme song. Ultra cool, ultra catchy, and impossible to hear without getting the room to sing along. Funky guitars swerve over laid back percussion and a simple yet effective bass line. The lyrics may seem straightforward, but I think if you live in Mudfoot’s world you can understand that to live the life can be tough.

That tough life can be draining, thus Mudfoot breaks it down on “We Gonna Get Rocked”, an introspective number that philosophizes on the finer points of partying all night long, strong liquor, and the ultimate question, “Why am I here?” Laugh if you want, or pass this band off as a joke, but I dare you not to get hooked with lyrics like, “If you’re sitting all alone then you can drink with me. Just don’t bother me with your tales of misery.”

Parents, are you having trouble teaching your kids about drinking? Try track 6, “Cheap Ass Beer” before the kids at school tell your kids the wrong way to drink.

Closing out the disc is a straight blues track that is as universal to life as, say, “We Are The World”. Everyone can relate to the song’s message in one way or another. The thing that differentiates this track is the sleazy, thick, dirty, lead guitar line that leaves you searching for a bar of soap to clean off the residue. “You a cold-hearted woman, baby, and I think I’m ’bout freeze. If it wasn’t for this here whiskey I’d have your frostbites all over me”. It’s a memorable line from “Cold Hearted Woman” that welcomes all the lonely hearts and thirsty mouths to drink, slug, slam, and chug their drinks of choice.

The best part about the album? You can listen to the whole thing free at http://originalpranksta.com/mudfoot.php and I suggest you do ASAP.

Menomena – Mines

Menomena - Mines CD cover

A solid album that will turn on many new fans and leave other fans scratching their heads, Mines, is the latest collection of tunes from Menomena. It’s not that this album is radically different than previous offerings from the band musically, but the tone of the album is much darker and deeper.

The opening track, “Queen Black Acid”, begins slowly with a simple guitar riff and key patch building towards an “Animal Collective” type hook. Bassist/vocalist Justin Harris sings, “I made myself an open book. I made myself a sitting duck” with heavy reverb on his vocals as a guitar feeds-back.

Hand claps, piano, and a fuzzy bassline are an undertow of sound as the refrain of, “Dirty Cartoons” repeats creating a hypnotizing atmosphere.

“Tithe” is a signature song from Drummer/Vocalist Danny Siem who has loads of classic lyrics and vocal patterns on this disc. “Someone retired on a percentage of the Tithe that paved these roads. They lead to nowhere, but they’re still grid locked. Made of Solomon’s pure gold.” The song, which begins with a chorus of bells, ends mid-word/mid sentence.

Very rarely can a band sustain three vocalists sharing the spotlight, but Menomena seem to play off each others talents song to song. They create wonderful melodies, multiple vocal patterns at once, and never seem to step on each others toes.

Compared to previous albums it appears Menomena stepped up their game as far as engineering and production quality. This album however does seem to be missing some of the experimental innocence of previous Menomena discs as if they have built some guide posts to stick to this time around rather than the wide open palates fans have grown used to.

What could be the catchiest sing-along chorus of 2010, “Five Little Rooms” is one of the few songs to have saxophone featured prominently in the mix. I can’t pretend to understand what the lyrics are talking about in the song, but I can admit that every time I listen to this song I sing, “All this could be yours someday” embarrassingly loud, and I encourage you to do the same. Not that you will have a choice as, like I said, it’s as catchy a hook as you can have.

Brent Knopf who plays piano, guitar and more for Menomena shines on “Sleeping Beauty” with his effects-laden voice playing off the groove so well I almost want to raise my lighter…but since I don’t smoke and I am at home alone I will just raise this cranberry ginger ale to my lips. I would’ve preferred to hear more of Brent’s vocals on the disc, and I wonder if there is a reason he is not used as much.

The song “Taos” seems to stick out from the bunch as a loud, clunky, New York City club scene song that is a great song, but doesn’t fit the vibe of the rest of the album.

Overall, this album is full of beautiful, fun, eye-opening, creative, soul-bearing, thoughtful musical moments, and I recommend it highly. Though, as I stated earlier, go into the album with an open mind and forget everything you know about Menomena previously.

 

The Rotten Bastards – Year Of The Bastard

The Rotten Bastards - Year of the Bastard CD cover

Skyla Talon is back at it with his own brand of L.A.-infused gutter rock with Year of the Bastard – the debut offering from his latest project, The Rotten Bastards.

“Kill the Bastards!” is full of gritty bumping and grinding and sets the stage for the rest of the album well. Short on polish and full of balls, all without being crass, it plays well with some of the “mellower” tracks on the album. “Back to You” is similar, yet poignant – slow but still edgy, melancholy without being sappy. That same measured grit oozes out of tracks like “Away” and “Long Time Gone”, giving the album its heart and giving the listener a chance to break out their lighter for as close as the Rotten Bastard are going to get to a ballad.

“Soul Turns”, on the other hand, injects 100% octane into the mix. Other songs like “In Your Arms (I’m Dying)” and “Enemy Inside” have the same Hollywood and Vine party vibe, as does “Bombed Again” with Skyla’s signature big guitar sound and punishing jackhammer drumming. These tracks are the soundtrack of every drunken bash and brawl along the Sunset Strip and The Rotten Bastards don’t shy away from that in the least.

The sleaze rock movement may have passed but for plenty of people, it IS party rock – enough adrenalin to keep things going and enough restraint to make it a party instead of a rumble. With albums like this, it will always be the year of the bastard.

-Late

Year of the Bastard

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

Phable (demo)

A Kentucky-based two piece, Phable is an American band through and through, calling to mind the likes of Live, a sound borne out in their brief two track demo.

“Musek Box” is ably produced for an indy effort and does a really good job of building from the intro into the body of the song – the track is a track one in the making for a full length. That said, the songwriting is a bit simplistic – particularly lyrically. For a band that isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel anyway, though, it works and the song plays with definite conviction. The swells throughout, as well as the carnival barker drops in the middle and the outro speak of a band that really have something they want to say and they’ll do whatever it takes to get the listener’s attention.

Even a short demo needs a ballad and that track is “Abagail”. As adrenaline-drenched as “Musek Box” is, “Abagail” is just as moody and brooding – the shift in gears is staggering and impressive for a young band with only two tracks to work with. Understated bass sets the stage and then is overwhelmed by wailing guitars and gut wrenching vocals in a song no less ambitious or convincing than the raucous “Musek Box”.

In a world full of short, self-produced demo discs, Phable stands out. You can check the band out on ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com/phabletheband) – you won’t be disappointed…and that’s no fable.

-Late

Phable (demo)

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

Slayer – World Painted Blood

Slayer - World Painted Blood CD cover

For thirty years the name Slayer has been synonymous with brutal, violent, in your face thrash metal. The years have seen them experiment with and tweak their sound with various levels of success and their latest, World Painted Blood is no different – borrowing inspiration from most of its predecessors, while continuing to add to the Slayer sound and legacy.

The intro to the title track harkens back to “Dead Skin Mask” before launching into a barrage of punk riffs – at Slayer’s patented high speed pace, of course. “Hate Worldwide” is much more stripped-down, but tracks like it and “Unit 731” still show that same speed punk vibe that is unmistakably Slayer. These are the songs that Slayer was built to play and while they may not make for great promo material when trying to recruit new fans, tracks like the ultra-fast “Public Display of Dismemberment” and “Psycopathy Red” are sure as all Hell Slayer. Even “Snuff”, which may be a bit more technical than your average Slayer track, has a mood and vocals that can trace their roots all the way back to the Reign in Blood days, if not earlier and “Beauty Through Order”, though a bit updated, has the same gloomy feel as Christ Illusion-era Slayer.

The one possible throwaway track is “Americon”, which shows that characteristic Slayer hatred of the political system, but that’s about it. The distortion on the guitar is too heavy and the rest of the instrumentation sounds like it was cobbled together – this is the one track that sounds like they sat down and tried to write a Slayer song because they needed one more song or had a cool lyrical riff that hadn’t found a home.

That’s not to say that World Painted Blood is a rehash of their previous albums, though. “Playing with Dolls” may be some of the best songwriting to date for Slayer for its organic feel and ability to move from one emotional extreme to another mid-track. “Human Strain” is definitely not something you’d expect from the Slayer catalog – it’s slower and more deliberate, and I defy any listener to listen NOT to get creeped out midway through this track with Dave Lombardo’s paramilitary drumming poured over dissonant guitar and Tom Araya’s spoken word. “Not of This” God also shows a lot of experimentation and does a better job of mixing in some standard Slayer-esque fare and may be the one go-to track for someone looking for a quick taste of what World Painted Blood is really all about.

There has been talk that World Painted Blood may mark the end of the Slayer era. Tom Araya, at least, has been quoted as saying the album could prove to be their last. If so, it marks a fitting send-off, chronicling everything that Slayer has been and done over the years both musically and lyrically. Hopefully, though, it simply marks the next step in Slayer’s continuing campaign to paint the world in blood.

-Late

World Painted Blood

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

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