Friday, May 28, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 186 - Gwen Mars - Driving a Million

By: March

Album - Driving A Million
Artist - Gwen Mars (sometimes all one word)
Key Players - John Boutin - drums. Matt Westfield - bass and backing vocals. Michael Thrasher - guitar and lead vocals.
Produced By - Gwenmars and others per track.

Release Date - Fall of 2001

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I was looking for an idea for this week, and just started looking...and saw their two cds..just decided for no real reason to go with this one.

Overview - Sorta blending grunge and glam Gwen Mars would release two records to not a lot of fan fare. The first album would spawn a very minor college radio hit in "Cosmic Dick" but the band would take a few years before the follow up and by then the music industry was seeming to go in a different direction than what the band was doing. From what I can gather they are officially disbanded.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A short buzzy feed back starts up "Neon Tom". The music is slow and vocals are distorted, but it has a certain bounce to it. It keeps a basic rock feel to it, with the vocals working with backing tracks. Its a decent album opener and sets the listener up for what is in store. Acoustic guitars open "She Hung the Moon" a track that is full of strings but the vocals are compressed once more. The band doesn't even really come up until the chorus, and even then the bass and drums are not a big part of it. They use the sting section to fill it out. They never break that mold, but seem to show they are capable of spreading their wings, even in a place like this where the core members are largely left out. "Radio Gun" is another buzzy affair, with swirly guitars as well, and the vocals are less compressed and they tend to soar over the top a little more. The end is a big pay off as it kicks it up more and seems to get louder and more chaotic. "Venus" jumps right out at you with buzzy bass and a frantic keyboard and it just rips. It actually is a guitar doing all the work, and it goes from this feel, to the really super buzzy guitar. It is frantic throughout and very strong track. The music is a little more crisp and focused on "Come Here". Acoustic guitars appear when the verse is sung and its a welcome change on the record. We get back to the bigger guitar sound on "Hurry Up". Once again its noisy, but when the vocals start the acoustic guitar appears and tandems off the electric guitars. Boutin is pretty basic on the drums, but hits them hard and has for the entirety of the record. The guitar riff that is tossed out at the tail end of the chorus should have been used more, or in a more prominent roll, it has just that great blend of crunch and urgency to it. "Train Song" is another real shining moment as the band works the buzzy guitar and frantic drum beat. They use some poppy guitar chops as well you'd hear on some albums from years older. The stand out track for me personally is "Electro". The guitars, the buzzy vocals, the soaring chorus...I implore you to download this'll get it.
"Strawberry Ice" has a ZZTop feel on guitar as it starts. The guitars bass and drums all are choppy, punching it up a notch. The band is on a roll here and the last few songs are setting the bar high (perhaps a strong place would have been earlier on the record?). The call and response on the frantic chorus is a strong touch. "Lisa Candy" is similar to what you've been hearing. The guitars are slow to build off the rim shot slow build of the drums. After part of the first verse is done it picks up, but quickly changes back to the tempo from the start. It gets more aggressive as the track draws to a close with a quick run of the guitar a few times. The album closes with "The Race". The bass is up more in the mix, and you can hear it working more, even if it is not overly complex. The guitars work to a long and steady build. This is about as much a ballad as the band would offer up. Thrasher doesn't vary is vocal delivery much at all on this or other tracks, yet they seem to blend, and work at all the right times. Its the lighter side of the band, but a strong album closer.

Where are they now? - I am not really sure. There is no Wiki page, a facebook fan page is out there with less than 40 members. Their official site has long been shuttered and a myspace page doesn't appear to be run by the band. I've also put each guy in a search and haven't found really anything. If anyone knows or has info let me know and I'll gladly update.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I saw the band one time in an opening slot for Catherine Wheel at Club Babyhead on Providence on September 1, 1995. They were pretty strong live, and by the end the few that arrived early to catch them seemed to really dig them.

FDF Overall Take - There are some very strong points on the record and the band is has a great sound and vibe to them, but I am not sure much would translate to today's music scene. It has the buzzy rocking side, but also hard rock drone to it as well. Its a mixed bag, not a terrible record that is for sure.

The band on myspace.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Radio Gun

Tracks taken from "Driving A Million" which, although out of print you can still find for purchase here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, May 21, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 185 - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - B.R.M.C (debut)

By: March

Album - B.R.M.C.
Artist - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Key Players - Peter Hayes -guitar and vocals. Robert Turner (Robert Levon Been) - bass and vocals. Nick Jago - drums.
Produced By - BRMC

Release Date - April 3, 2001

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I am sometimes unsure about doing albums that are not even 10 years old, but when it follows in to "when was the last time I really listened front to back" I am okay with it. Also, I recently saw the movie "Smokin Aces 2" (yeah I know..2?) and they used a track from this disc (Red Eyes and Tears) so I felt it was a sign.

Overview - Formed in San Francisco, California in 1998 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, or, B.R.M.C. embraced the garage rock sounds of the time and played a wild combination of shoe gaze to hard rock, sometimes in the same song. Rumored to be named for the motorcycle gang in the 1953 Marlon Brando film "The Wild One" their debut (originally self released in 1999) set a strong precedence within the new genre that was popping up on radio and although album sales would be slow, they'd gain many fans based off their live shows. Hayes had left the band "Brian Jonestown Massacre" and formed up with Been and then Jago joined the fold. They'd go on to release 7 (and counting) albums, but US popularity continues to elude them.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - "Love Burns" starts with a slow build, almost like a piano line on a loop and runs for 40 or so seconds before and acoustic guitar and percussion start the track moving. A few repeated riffs and Jago's simple back beat starts. The vocals are hushed and atmospheric, sung a little monotone until the chorus when the guitars bass and drum all join forces. A short electric guitar burst brings the verse back. The band is no stranger to distortion pedals and reverb. It really gets rolling by the second run at the chorus. "Red Eyes and Tears" is a much darker sounding track with some guitar parts chopping at you before the guitar comes up, then the now classic drum beat gets going. The verse is sung and as it comes towards a head the buzzy guitar really kicks up and loops around the listener. The guitar work is terrific and it really sets a tone for what is to come on the album. We really get "rocking" for the first time on "Whatever Happened to My Rock N' Roll". Again starting with a buzzy (bass guitar) we are counted off and the whole band hits down. The rhythm is tight and holds the rock bottom as the guitars rush over the top. The vocals and lyrics are the fastest we've heard so far. It ends if a fury of feedback before the much more calm "Awake" begins. This is a much more "clean" and melodic track from the band. The bass line is sweeping underneath the light guitar and drums. The vocals are soaked in reverb and sound haunting as the song slowly works towards the chorus. It tricks the listener with its laid back approach but gets more aggressive with the chorus. Everyone turns up and fuzzes out before returning to the earlier melody. The payoff really comes as the song begins to wind down. The music appears to be very chaotic, but really tight at the same time. The vocal part does not waiver amid all this wall of sound either. Very strong track. "White Palms" begins with the guitar and percussion before Turner runs the bass through a fuzzy amp. The vocals are a little buried in the mix on this, but that could be done on purpose. The bass seems to be the focus on this track as it is very prominent in the mix. The cymbals have a certain "splash" to them as well. Turner works the bass even more on a breakdown before the Hayes guitar runs over it with very choppy and delayed guitar riffs. Turner gets to run it again and the song starts heading towards completion. Tuner continues to shine as the intro to "As Sure as the Sun" is a solo bass riff. Accented only with the occasional guitar chime over the top for a few bars before the fullness of the band is brought in. The song doesn't hit a chord vocally with me personally but musically its a gem. Show casing each members strengths it comes back around to real strong instrumental moments. Sounds like chanting start up "Rifles" as lyrics are looped over one another, when in fact it is an interlude before the proper song begins. The bass is tight and by the time the guitar and vocals come in you are bobbing your head to the deep and dark groove that has been put forth. File this under a late night driving song. Not fast, just cruising. We do the build up to "Too Real" as well. Drums have a bit more of a "thwap" sound to them at the start, but it locks back in to a laid back feel quickly. The vocals are wavy at times, like the batteries in your player are starting to die out, its a very odd sound. We return to the formula that is most appealing on "Spread Your Love". The guitars are buzzy, the tempo tight and the vocals actually are on the upswing as well. The guitar tandem as the track progresses is very strong and Turner tosses some high bass notes. Jago never gets overly complex on this, or any other track for that matter but you can feel his attention to keeping tight time. "Head Up High" falls back to the more groove oriented feel the band can lay down from time to time. The vocals are hushed and the guitar and bass work tandem with each other. The album closes with the longest track (6:06) called "Salvation". Another track that slowly builds with a lone guitar and then some light drum work. The song continues the slow crescendo and everyone is sort of laid back with their playing. The vocals are pretty and very "breathy" which adds a great touch. It never strays from its pattern and is actually a very strong album closer.

Where are they now? - The band is still active in the studio and on the road. There have been slight line up changes. The band was dropped from Virgin records in 2004 and there had been a few years of tense relationship with Jago. Jago had been having addiction issues and the band struggled to soldier along but would release the "Howl" album with him just on one track. He'd rejoin in 2007 but by mid 2008 he had left the band (he claims he was fired, the other two say he was not and that he needed to clean up). Leah Shaprio has been the bands drummer since 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Only saw the band one time and that was August 8, 2001 at the Met Cafe in Providence, Rhode Island. The crowd was very small and the band had some late set tech issues that resulted in one song going 20+ minutes in length. It was decent, but meeting the guys after the show sort of soured me. I understand everyone has their days, but it was well after the tech issues when my friends and I approached only asking to have our cds singed and they were less than friendly about it. Even with all that, I've bought all their cds, just haven't seen em live again.

FDF Overall Take - When the album first came out there were a lot of comparisons to the Jesus and Mary Chain, but this album seemed to focus more on a melody vs the distortion that JaMC were famous for. The band has some strong lyrics and talented players. I personally still find this record to be their most accessible record and it would be the first I'd recommend to a new listener.

The official band page is here and the myspace page for the band is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3s have been removed.
Red Eyes and Tears

Tracks taken from the self titled album that you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, May 14, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 184: The Mission - Carved in Sand

By: March

Album - Carved in Sand
Artist - The Mission
Key Players - Wayne Hussey - lead vocals, guitar. Mark Gemini-Thwaite - guitar. Craig Adams - Bass. Mick Brown - drums.
Produced By - Tim Palmer

Release Date - February 1990

What caused me to blow off the dust? - This is a cd that I recall hearing a lot in my early college years but when I went looking for it I found I had it on tape, I recently updated to a used cd version of it. They just have been on the brain for bit I guess. As a note, this album was re-issued in 2008, the write up here is based off the original studio release.

Overview - This was the fourth studio album from Leed England based "The Mission". Formed out of a disbanding of "Sisters of Mercy" singer Wayne Hussey and bassist Craig Adams formed the goth/hard rock band and would go on to release a total of nine studio albums. The album did the band so well that an album of outtakes was released in the fall of the same year called "Grains of Sand".

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with the track "Amelia" that pains me to say that I love. The song just rips, but is about childhood rape and incest. The lyrics are just stomach churning but the music does its best to get you to forget about the subject. Hussey is in really terrific voice pushing himself in vocal range and the band is full and hammers down the melody. Adams and Brown are rock solid and Gemini-Thwaite runs some cool guitar effects over the chorus that combines a flange and chorus. It ends quickly and quickly goes in to the track "Into the Blue". A trade mark big guitar opens up the track as the bass and drums chug underneath. Guitarist and sometimes Bowie axe man Reeves Gabrels assists on the guitar work. Hussey is a little laid back at the outset using his deep baritone. There is more of a guitar solo on the back end of this song, but you are hit so hard with the booming bass and drums it almost seems buried. One of the bigger tracks from the record was "Butterfly on a Wheel". This is much less rowdy track than the other two so far. The slow guitar build splashes with an acoustic guitar strum here and there and the drums seem to pushed to the side with a metronome keeping the beat on a computer sounding drum. The track is more awash with keyboards than bass/guitar/drums. As the chorus draw the band seems to come together but they never get carried away. This could be a great acoustic/unplugged song. It is a pretty song, but feels like it could be just "that much more". Hussey shines on the last run of the chorus, but by then it feels a little too late. Its a great song, don't get me wrong, perhaps so good you just want "that much more". Sitar opens up "Sea of Love" and it keeps a neat "Indian" vibe until about 1:20 in before the band all comes in and we get a little more rocking once more. The sitar remains but the bass and drums are tight and Hussey is in fine form vocally. The splashes of guitar add a nice accent to the sitar. The vocals get some studio trickery done before the band has a tight jam in the middle. The track runs a great verse/chorus/verse in the latter half. A strong track. The music hardly fades before "Deliverance" begins. Another massive sounding track with chiming guitars and big downbeats from Brown. Adams tosses in a few bass notes here and there and the song slowly builds. It has the same urgency and vibe as the first track on the album, and offers a really huge sound. A defining track from the band without a doubt. We are much more laid back on "Grapes of Wrath". Opening with long keyboard tones that flutter with an occasional second or third note. "Belief" is much the same as "Grapes" in that there is just a full sound, but we are kept in check never letting it get too wild at least for a bit. As the chorus approaches they get a little more urgent, but fall back to the steady pace from the start of the track. This is a longer track from the band clocking in at over 7 minutes long, and they keep busy the entire time, it is not just fill. An acoustic lead "Paradise (Will Shine Like the Moon)" opens up very strong. It sounds like a perfect campfire sing along, but on the rocking end of it. The long acoustic is crisp and Hussey sings the song with urgency and drives it forward. It gets even more rocking and the full band joins in and it seems to grow faster and faster and there runs a great guitar solo as well. "Hungry as the Hunter" has the first rowdy drum opening on the record. The electric guitar is right there at the start as well and then doubles up. The bass gets a deep workout and all this is before the vocals come in. When they do the band is locked in and it rocks out. It is never as flashy as the intro, but one of the more flat out "rockers" on the album. The track "Lovely" closes out the record. It begins low key with percussive instruments and acoustic guitar

Where are they now? - The band was active until 1996 and then they reformed once again from 99 to 2008. Hussey has been the sole long term member and in 2008 he said he was taking a break from "The Mission" For the other members and what they are up to check out this link

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I am actually surprised at this..I have not seen the band live. The real head scratcher on this is that I have a cd that is a split with the Wonder Stuff, whom they toured with at one point, and I really dug the Wonder Stuff and have no idea why I would have missed them. Need some help old friends? Did the tour get cancelled?

FDF Overall Take - I have to admit, that what I like on this disc I really like and wanted it all to be more on the rocking side. Sure the mellower stuff shows they are not comfortable with just one set mood. With that, this is a pretty strong record and I think if you own it, you agree, and if you don't own it you might be curious enough to check them out.

The band has an official site that is very well kept. Also, they are on myspace. For even more check out this link that has links to fan site, member and former member pages

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the songs have been removed...

Sea of Love

Tracks were taken from "Carved in Sand" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.