Friday, October 27, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 389 - dada - American Highway Flower

Album – American Highway Flower
Artist - dada
Key Players – Michael Gurley – guitar and vocals.  Joie Calio – bass and vocals. Phil Leavitt - drums
Produced By – Jason Corsaro and dada

Release Date- September 30, 1994

Overview – This is the second album released from the California based trio.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”) – The 58 minute, 13 song album opens with “Ask the Dust”.  Right away Leavitt gets over on the ride cymbal as Calio walks the bass over it.  The song has a “Police” feel to it with the bass and drum, and the guitar is almost the third instrument you hear, even though Gurley gets around it pretty well on the track and towards the end really steps up, leading to the fade out.  The band is tight and has great harmonies on “Feet to the Sun” and it rumbles forward with one of the singles “All I Am” and the infectious harmonies on the chorus really stand out.  The tension that slowly builds in the latter part of the track really gives it a punch and once again Gurley shines on guitar. “Scum” begins with just acoustic guitar and solo voice and then switches to an electric guitar quick burst.  By the second verse there are strings and a fuller “feel” but there are no drums.  By the third verse the drums return, and the song swerves in and out of electric and acoustic.  Leavitt gets to call the shots as “Pretty Girls Make Graves” opens.  The kit sounds thunderous and the ringing guitars are a great touch.  The vocals are a bit subtle, but as the chorus approaches the band swells to a much fuller sound. Almost “per the norm” there is a great little guitar solo.  The band likes to mix up the use of electric and acoustic guitars again and “Gogo” is evident of that.  “Feel Me Don’t You” is a heavier track and the band settles back a little on “Real Soon”, but that is short as come the second verse the bands opens up with that ‘big’ sound they seem to be able to generate with ease and as the track continues the frantic vocals add to the aura.  “S.F. Bar ‘63” has some vocal effects that make it feel different.  Musically it is what you’ve gotten used to thus far.  We mellow it out on “8 Track” and get back to the vibe of the record on “Green Henry”.  Hey, this track has that cymbal that goes “sploosh” when you hit it after all and the great guitar work resurfaces.  Settle down spell check the next tune is “i”.  A little more laid back track, yet still complex musically enough to be interesting.  The record closes with “Heaven and Nowhere”, again with a  great guitar solo to close it out.

Where are they now? -  The band is currently doing a 25th anniversary tour.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? – I’ll be honest, I did their debut record on this site ages ago. See for yourself ( Here) This was just something I knew I hadn’t listened to in a long while, and it’s a lot of fun. These guys are great musicians, the songs are fun…it’s just a “good” record.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 388 - Pelican - The Fire in Our Throats will Beckon the Thaw

Album – The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Artist - Pelican
Key Players – Trevor de Brauw – guitar. Bryan Herweg – bass. Larry Herweg – drums. Laurent Schroeder-Lebec – guitar.
Produced By – Greg Norman (Mix and recording), John Golden (mastering)

Release Date-  May 22, 2005

Overview - This is the second full length release from the Chicago based band Pelican.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”) - The seven track, 58 minute album opens with “Last Day of Winter”.  After a slow 30 second build up the band all comes in.  The guitars are clear and right up in the mix with the bass and drums holding it tight.  The band locks in to a repeated riff for a bit and then breaks off in other directions with a few looser moments before pulling back in.  The good 3 minute interlude is met with the band thundering back in as one.  The track ends with an acoustic guitar that almost feels like an entirely new song.  The acoustic guitar set up “Autumn Into Summer” quite well as it too takes a little more of an atmospheric approach at the intro.  It has almost a “slint” like feel to it with minimalist chords and light drum fills.  The slow build finally seems to reach a point around the 3 minute mark where the band is ready to take off some and when it does the wall of guitars give pause for a giant exhale…the band just fires it off.  The latter part of this song is what I personally think is the “sound” of Pelican.  Perfect roll in to the longest track on the album “March to the Sea”.  Released on an ep a few months prior this a “shorter” version (still over 10 minutes long).  The big giant riffs of this track need to find that right TV/Movie soundtrack moment.  All killer stuff, that even have the bass brought up for some melodic fills.  The listener gets to exhale with the shortest track “.”  Dual acoustic guitars and very light percussion is used on this track.  “Red Ran Amber” is a return of the big riffs and the band wastes little time in getting rolling, and holding to it as well. The track is the second longest on the record and the final few minutes found the band really on to something, you almost want to start all over again (like I did) just to hear it again.  “Aurora Borealis” is a shorter song (in terms of this record) but conforms to the feel of the record.  It is a really solid and “to the point” track.  We close out the record with “Sirius” another fine example of the bands capabilities.  Just big riffs that pull you in and leave you ready for a “replay”.

Where are they Now? – The band is still active.  Lebec left the band in 2012 as part of an amicable split.  They continue to record, with their most recent release being an ep in 2015 called “The Cliff” and the band tours and will be part of the US version of the DunkFest which took place earlier in October of 2017.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? – There is no denying I love myself some good old instrumental “rock” music.  Pelican was one of the first “heavier” instrumental bands that I discovered and they never seem to disappoint.  They pace themselves with releases and touring so you have a lot of time to marinate on the records.  This is a great starting point for new listeners.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 387 - Papa M - Live from a Sharktank

Album – Live From A Shark Tank
Artist – Papa M
Key Players – David Pajo - everything
Produced By – David Pajo, Nat Gleason, Steve Albini and Tim Gane

Release Date- October 25, 1999

Overview – This is the first album by Papa M.  This is a pseudonym used by David Pajo

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”)
Clocking in at just under 60 minutes the 11 song album is bookended with “Arundel”. The first is a very short track, shortest on the record, at 1:04.  Its simply Pajo on guitar.  “Roadrunner” explores a bit more with a simple back beat and a looping keyboard progression. ”Pink Holler” is pretty acoustic track that has flashes of electric guitar tones played over, even banjo makes an appearance later in the track.  The same feel of the record continues as “Plastic Energy Man” continues. This few tracks in to the record you need to realize we are not going to “rock out”.  This is a really cool selection of tunes put together by Pajo.  They have that late at night, lets run the recording machine, and see what happens.  They are tighter and more complete than you’d ever imagine.  We get electric guitar on “Drunken Spree”.  The full nine minutes are a very moody, yet calm.  The tension seems to arise as what almost appears to be a sitar starts its haunting tones.  “Bups” is another very short tune that is a piano track (or toy piano).  “Crowd of One” opens with a recorded phone message and is the sole track up to this point that has any sort of “vocals”.  Everything has been instrumental up to this point.  The phone messages keep phone #’s intact and give you a voyeuristic look in to someones life.   The longest track on the album follows in “I am Not Lonely with Cricket” (just south of 15 minutes long).  When it ends you are surprised.  The time seems to pass effortlessly.  David just finds a place and lets it take him over.  Light guitar, keyboards etc, despite the length at the outset you are never bored.  Banjo returns with “Knocking the Casket”.  Filled out with acoustic guitars it’s a slow track, where the fewer notes played seem the better (on guitar).  “Up North Kids” is the first track that feels like a “full band” with a bit more of a melody and structure.  Feels like a “song”.  Keep in mind that much of the record feels like “loose jams” (that are very good) this just feels…right.  A lengthier version of “Arundel” closes the record.

Where are they Now?
– Pajo is one of the more prolific musicians.  Most notably was as a founding member of Slint.  He also played with Zwan, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and many more.  David had a sad turn of events and attempted suicide in 2015.  He survived.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? – First, if you want to get a party started I wouldn’t put this record on.  You are going to get some blank stares.  If it gets later, and people are chill, toss it on…it may work wonders.

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FDF Volume 4 Issue 386 - Probot - Self Titled

Album – Probot
Artist - Probot
Key Players – Dave Grohl virtually “everything   See each track for more information
Produced By - Various

Release Date- February 10, 2004

Overview – This was a side project of Dave Grohl.  Here he has instrumentals and other tracks recording with musicians he “admired”.  Grohl played most of the instruments on the album, but was featured on drums for the entire collection.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”) – We will break this down a little differently since there were so many guest spots and go track by track in a list format.
Centuries of Sin (features Cronos of Venom) – a drone loop begins the track and it slowly builds over the first 45 seconds until the guitar and drums come up.  The tempo is quick and Cronos begins to sing.  There is a heavy growl to his voice but it suits the track.  Grohl is heavy on the drums to match the feel, a great opener.

Red War (features Max Cavalera of Sepiltura and Soulfly) – keeping with the big drums Grohl makes heavy work seem simple setting up for Cavalera’s vocals.  Per the liner notes the track was written just a few weeks before 9/11 and since then have taken a new meaning to the lyricist.  

Shake your Blood (features Lemmy of Motorhead) – with Lemmy on bass and vocals it’s a Motorhead song..its that simple.

Access Babylon (features Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity) -  Even from the start this track didn’t grab me.  It is what it is.

Silent Spring (features Kurt Brecht of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles D.R.I) – The sheer “thunder” of this track is worth multiple spins.  If you want to shake the dust off your brain, this one will do it.  The vocals are pretty clean, even though they seemingly are spat at you (which is fine)

Ice Cold Man (features Lee Dorian of Napalm Death and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden) – Thayil does add a noticeable layer to the track with his guitar.  This is the “slowest” track (at least the speed of vocals delivered) up to this point, but it still has a thunder rumble to it.

The Emerald Law (features Wino of Saint Vitus and Obsessed) – Seemingly quiet at the start the drums roll the tempo with some bass portions tossed in as Wino slowly comes up.  After part of the first verse we are off to the races and the track takes off.  There is a great guitar solo and it slams back down to wrap it up (I feel like Jack Black come out vocally too..a little harder/bolder version of him, but I keep “hearing” Jack Black vocally)

The Big Sky (features Tom Warrior of Celtic Frost) – This just feels like a simple 4x4 rock tune.  Didn’t really pull me in much.

Dictatosaurs (features Snake of Voivod) -  The speed is back on this track, and Grohl hits them as heavy as ever.  Vocally this track seems to have the most layers too it as well, almost with harmonized chorus’ portions as well.

My Tortured Soul (features Eric Wagner of Trouble) – Track has some big swampy blues riff feel to it.  Reminds me a lot of “Goatsnake” material.  Just these big buzzy guitars but sort of a laid back howling vocal (if that makes ANY sense).  This has piqued my interest in the band “Trouble” as well.

Sweet Dreams (features King Diamond and Kim Thayil) – No this is not a cover tune.  The slow intro is awash with percussion instruments and King keeps the tension before opening up.  His trademark screams are evident and the track keeps a pretty steady pace.  Thayil has a great solo in the track and it ties it up strongly.

I am the Warlock (features Jack Black) – The “hidden track” on the record.  It starts at the 8:55 area of the prior track.  Black sings with a heavy growl, but it is easy to pick him out.  The music is as heavy as its been on the tracks of the album.  A pretty fun “find” on the album.

Where are they Now? -  David is still very active.  A new Foo Fighters single is already out and a new album (and tour) is sure to follow.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off?
– Considering it took Dave over 4 years to complete this project its pretty solid.  A co-worker of mine is RAVENOUS for this record and that had be back listening.  Its good, and it is great to hear some of these guys doing something a little “different”.  Worth tracking down if you are fan of Dave, or any of the cast members honestly.

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Friday, October 06, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 385 - Kaiser Chiefs - Employment

Album – Employment
Artist – Kaiser Chiefs
Key Players – Ricky Wilson – vocals. Andrew White – guitar. Simon Rix – bass.  Nick Hodgson-drums, “Peanut”- keyboards.
Produced By – Stephen Streef, Stephen Harris

Release Date- March 7, 2005

Overview – This is the debut album from the Leeds, West Yorkshire England band.  The album sold moderately at first, but then started to garner some awards and would end up peaking at #2 almost a year later.  Tracks were featured in popular video games and the band would win “Best Album” by NME a year later.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”) – The 12 track 44 minute album begins with “Every day I Love You Less and Less” and the band quickly sets the tone.  It’s a punky/rocky fueled rumble of a track.  Choppy vocals with punctuated drum strikes and chopping guitar chords.  The song that pulled me in was “I Predict a Riot”. The sing along at the top of your lungs chorus is all that needs to be said.  Click the link and prove me otherwise.  “Modern Way” shows the band a little more laid back, letting the band fill in a bit more as Wilson eases back some on the urgency.  We get back to the pop fun sensibilities in “Na Na Na Na Naa” and then switch to a keyboard drenched track “You Can Have It All” that finds the band in a laid back swing mood.  “Oh My God” intros with a nice piano and solid bass section before the vocals come up.  The track is interesting, but feels off in tempo just a little.  After the intro you want it to be a bit more “driving”, but it’s a solid tune and then you realize come the chorus it’s perfectly paced.  “Born to Be a Dancer” is another track that opens with a pretty piano before the drums set the tempo for another great poppy track and “Saturday Night” continues the back to back party.  “What Did I Ever Give You”? is a little more laid back track, but what is nice is you get to really hear the band members shine and hear how competent they are (as expected), often that can be easily overlooked.  The bass, the percussive fills etc all pull the track together nicely.  The track also has what could be call the first “guitar solo” on the album.  Despite the seemingly slow start “Time Honoured Tradition” gets to be a lot of fun with the build up to the chorus and the chorus itself, while “Caroline, Yes” slows it down again.  Strong showcase for the band members and what each brings to the table.  The album concludes with “Team Mate”, a song that, to these ears, never seems to get off the ground much and feels like a slight let down.

Where are they now? – The band is still active, and largely intact. Hodgson left the band in 2012 to focus on other projects.  He has teased by social media his new album is complete.  The Kaiser Chiefs released their last album (their sixth studio album) in October of 2016.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off?
– There are some really fun tunes on this record.  I bought it for one track I’ll admit, but ended up liking the bulk of it.  What is interesting is I don’t own any of the bands other stuff, I guess I need to get cracking.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 384 - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Dap Dippin'

Album – Dap-Dippin’ With…
Artist - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Key Players – Otis Youngblood – tenor saxophone. Jack Zapata – baritone saxophone. Binky Griptite – guitar. Bugaloo Velez – congas. Earl Maxton – organ.  Bosco Mann – bass. Homer Steinweiss – drums. Anda Szilagyi - trumpet
Produced By - Bosco Mann

Release Date-  2002

Overview – This is the debut album from the band.  This also helped launch the label (Daptone). The funk/soul band was based out of New York.  

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”)
– The album opens with a track called “Introduction”.  Griptite emcees and introduces the band over a real funky beat.  The song fades and then “Got a Thing on My Mind” comes up.  The deep funk bass and off tempo back beat finds Jones quickly singing her verse.  Your head, your feet (or both) all follow the tempo.  The band is TIGHT.  The band does a solid cover of “What Have You Done for Me Lately” that actually has more funk to it than you’d ever believe.  To me, its better than Miss Jacksons…there..I said it.  “The Dap Dip” follows.  The band has created a dance (and the steps on how to do it are in the liner notes).  Jones gives instructions over a funk bed.  Basic idea, just cut loose. “Give Me a Chance” has some great conga work and the chopping guitar really grabs you, but as always Mann’s bass stands right out.  The horns into “Got to Be The Way it is” and the backbeat is held with percussion instruments and Jones is spitting lyrics with venom, but it all is charming and wonderful.  It has to be the funk right? Maxton gets showcased on the organ for the first time as a “lead”.  “Make it Good To Me” and “Ain’t it Hard” are two different spectrum's for the band.  “Make it” is similar to much of the record while “Ain’t it” has a great long organ intro and a rumbling bass line that finds Jones in much more of laid back delivery. Slowest track on the album to this point and Jones sounds great.  There are even some backing vocals to fill it out nicely.  We are back to what makes the album so great when “Pick it Up, Lay it in the Cut”.  If you are not moving when you hear this, I really can’t help you.  The album ends with “Casella Walk”, an absolute burner of a track.  It has it all!  Tucked 7 minutes after the song ends there is an instrumental song.  Focus’ largely on the bass and guitar yet is awash with horns.  There is a reason some of them ended up playing on “Back in Black” released a few years later by Amy Winehouse.
Where are they Now? -  Sharon Jones died on November 18, 2016 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  Nothing specifically has been confirmed with regard to the status of the band.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off?
– This is a fun record.  Sharon Jones was an absolute powerhouse and presence in a live setting and it actually works on the record too.  A talented crew of band members and a charismatic singer with catchy hooks.  Grab this, throw it on at a party and count the number of people who will ask you “who is this..its great”.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 383 - Hoodoo Gurus - Stoneage Romeos

Album – Stoneage Romeos Artist - Hoodoo Gurus Key Players – James Baker – drums. Clyde Bramley – bass, vocals. Dave Faulkner – guitar, lead vocals, keyboards.  Brad Shepherd – lead guitar, vocals, harmonica, percussion.
Produced By – Alan Thorne

Release Date
- 1984

Overview – This is the debut album from the Australian band.  The band took the name of the album from a Three Stooges film.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”)
– The 11 track 37 minute album opens with “I Want you Back” a very catchy, bass fueled track.  The acoustic guitars have a great ring as Faulkner comes up in a strong powerful presence.  Sends a strong precedent for the record.  “Tojo” is just a great pop song with the urgent lyrics and punchy drums.  “Leilani” is also similar with a punchier chorus just ripe for sing alongs.
“Arthur” opens with the guitar ringing and Faulkner giving a hearty yell.  Bramley locks a groove and Baker is there to oblige, hitting them hard but keeping in check at the same time.  Shepherd has a great little slow after the chorus.  “Dig it Up” has a bit more of a darker, slow roll to it.  Sort of the first “gear shift” to this point on the record.  The tempo is up for “(Let’s All) Turn On” with Faulkner repeating “cuz that’s what I like…that’s what I like….” To a break neck toe tapping drum line and “Death Ship” is also very similar. The band has found a groove.  Bramley’s bass is a bit more evident here as well. “In the Echo Chamber” and “Zanzibar” are two different tracks.  The first follows suit of the record while “Zanzibar” has a much more mellow approach. Faulkner is in no rush, the bass rings out with more chords and the drums are just a simple back beat.  The bands “quiet” moment.  “I Was a Kamikaze Pilot” (one of the more unique song titles ever..) finds the band back with the buzzsaw guitars and driving beats.  “My Girl” closes out the record on a little more of a mellow tone.  The focus here would be on the vocals, just a pretty song that is not too rushed.  It’s a nice tune, don’t get me wrong, but the rumbling they’ve given us would have been more what I’d have expected as a closer.
Where are they Now? -   After a hiatus that ran from 1997 to 2003 the band has been active.  Faulkner, Shepherd are the two original members.  The band was inducted in to the Australian Recording Industry Hall of fame in 2007.  Their last studio album was “Purity of Essence” released in 2010.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? – This is a good “rock” record.  They got to be more popular in the states with their follow up record, but there are few solid gems here.  If you are a completest I’d recommend it, but you probably have it already.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 382 - Ben Folds Five: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

Album –  The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Artist -  Ben Folds Five
Key Players – Ben Folds – vocals, piano and keyboards.  Robert Sledge – bass and backing vocals.  Darren Jessee – drums and backing vocals.
Produced By – Caleb Southern

Release Date-
April 27, 1999

Overview – This is the third studio album from Ben Folds Five.  The band, based out of Chapel Hill North Carolina would release four studio albums and take two hiatus sessions.  This was the last album for over 10 years until “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” was released.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”)
–   The 40 minute 11 track album finds Folds on solo piano starting up “Narcolepsy”.  He is a very accomplished player and does a few pretty runs before the band full comes in with a fuzzy bass and gong crash.  There is a string section playing along with all this thundering bass and drum rumble.  By the time Folds sings the first lines we are close to 1:30 in.  The vocals seemingly secondary to the instruments as the bands plays with much fervor whole Folds never seems to break his steady vocal pace, until the song gets even livelier with the vocals and instrumentation.  “Don’t Change Your Plans” follows.  In is interesting that the first two tracks are the longest tracks and the focus is on the full band experience. No one instrument seems to be “the leader” and the group seems ready to explore on this record.  “Mess” has a bouncier feel, but the band hasn’t really varied a lot from the previous two tracks.  “Magic” is a little on the mellow side and I am waiting for things to get rolling by this point. The opening track had a lot of potential, but since then we’ve been sort of “just there”.  Another orchestral tune.  Ready to move it here…but “Hospital Song” is not going to get us there either.  We finally get there (to these ears) when “Army” starts right out of the gate.  This is the Ben Folds Five I find the most fun and interesting.  Fun lyrics with some great stuff from three guys.  A nice full sound with some great bass and drum breaks as well as some great sing alongs (as evident when the band would pair off the audience against one another in a singing battle on future tour dates).  The horn section really fills this out nice.  A tremendous/stand out track.  “Your Redneck Past” is another fun track so we have a great duo here at the mid-point of the record.  The track “Your Most Valuable Possession” is a phone message played over a smooth jazzy back beat.  “Regrets” is back to the earlier portion of the album, until Folds seems like he wants to take it elsewhere, and it has a good clip to it and we get more of a percussive back beat pushing it along.  Sounds more like an electric piano for “Jane” than the standard grand Folds plays.  Jessee and Sledge continue to be solid cast members, on this track and for the entire album.  The album concludes with the aptly titled “Lullabye”.
Where are they Now? -  The group has taken a few years off on two occasions.  They released a live record in 2013.  Sledge keeps busy teaching music and playing gigs in Chapel Hill.  Jessee works a lot as a sideman.  He’s played with Sharon Van Etten’s band and Hiss Golden Messenger.  He also is on the latest War on Drugs LP.  Folds has released a few solo records and continues to tour at his own pace.  Ben appeared in the second season of the Showtime series “Billions” playing himself.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? – Even when this record came out I wasn’t floored and it didn’t do a ton for me on this recent revisit.  At the time the band was in a transition.  They’d done three records, toured heavily etc and this was a departure for them.  Admitting I have not even heard their “latest” record which I sort of want to do now.  The first two records are ones I’d suggest to new fans.

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