Friday, April 27, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 264 - Men at Work - Cargo

Album - Cargo
Artist – Men at Work
Key Players – Jerry Speiser – drums and backing vocals. Ron Strykert – guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on”Setttle Down My Boy”. Colin Hay – guitar, lead vocals, synclavier. Greg Ham – flute, keyboard, saxophone, backing vocals, lead vocals on “I Like To”. John Rees – bass and backing vocals.
Produced By - Peter McIan

Release Date – June 28, 1983

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I have to admit, it was the death of Greg Ham Overview - This is the second album from the Australian band “Men at Work”. The album would have four singles released. It was a critical follow up to their massivly popular debut (Business as Usual). Formed in late 1978 the band would toil around some and add members before forming as a “unit” the following year. The bands debut would actually be rejected by the label twice in America, but touring and persistence of the management team had the record released. They'd be rewarded for their hard work and receive the Grammy Award for Best new Artist (A first for an Australian act) in 1983. Cargo was already completed, but held back due to the success of the debut. The band would release another album and disband by 1986.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - “Dr Heckyll & Mr Jive” opens the record with a slow fade up and a clock bell tower ring. It quickly jumps in and the band finds their poppy bounce. Hay doesn't try to hide his accent and you can quickly hear the strong bass line from Rees. The guitars and drums are all held back some. This was one of the four singles released to radio and it has that sound that fans of their previous ablum would be comfortable with. The band is tight with good harmonies and solid mix on the instruments. There is a short instrumental section before the verse returns as well as an additional run at the chorus. One of the bigger singles “Overkill” follows. This track would peak at #3 on the top 100 (the highest charting single). Ham is a strong component on the track with the sax playing off the drums. Not to be left out though is the solid bass line from Rees and the quick guitar chords from Strykert. Ham has the sax be far more in the front on this track running a few notes at the after the first line of the chorus. Strykert gets a longer electirc guitar solo while the others seem to ease in to the back. After the guitar Ham gets his run at the solo before the verse comes back. Hay sounds great with a nice baritone, but pushes himself up in range after the solo to push the track further. Strykert takes the lead vocal duties on “Settle Down My Boy”. Rees has some bass work more up in the mix. Strykert has a fine lead vocal “voice”. His accent doesn't seem as obvious as the tracks from Hay. The track has a light feel to it with a solid backbeat pushing the band forward. Everyone, again, seems to be comfortable with their roles. Hay and Strykert have a nice section of harmonies before the guitar solo comes in, sounding almost flamenco at times. Ham has a great solo, albeit it very short at the end before the harmonies come in again. A very solid “deep track” with Ham taking off at the end. “Upstairs In My House” is another track with a slower and quiet fade up. It lasts about 30 seconds before Ress and Speiser seem to want to get things moving. As the vocals start its a bit quicker than other tracks, but other than the speed of Hay and Speiser things seem to be the norm for the band. Hay seems to push himself with his range on the chorus and they are short lines, saying on the song title and nothing furher. Upstairs is held for a bit, 16 or more beats worth. Strykert takes a guitar solo that is just the right length, not over playing and keeping things moving. Hay really goes up on the final few runs, a really solid “eye opening” track. Top notch. Strykert plays a few notes and “No Sign of Yesterday” begins. Hay joins in after a few bars, but it just the two of them. After a verse Rees and Speiser join in. The track continues to be slower with the focus on the vocals. The song is nothing too crazy and then suddenly Strykert comes in with a big guitar solo. Its not fast, but the overall sound is sort of that big “dramatic” slow note type solo. Speiser does some big rolls across his kit, and Ham rings out on the sax and even Rees comes along. It sounds like it would be a live set closer, which it may have been? Another one of the bigger singles from the record comes in “It's A Mistake”, this too would crack the top 10 (peak #6). Strykert plays a few short notes before Rees compliments on the bass and then the band all comes in. You can hear the smile in Hay's voice on the track. Rees is rock solid on the bass allowing Strykert to punch out a few strong chords during the chorus. A very solid example of the bands compitence. Excellent choice for a single. “High Wire” is another one of the four singles released. This charted on the “mainstream” chart vs the hot 100. This has more of a big rock sound again, with the full band taking off from the start. Speiser gives the drum kit a good workout and the vocals working with the layers of horns from Ham are solid. Ham starts right up as “Blue For You” begins. We are much more laid back, almost with the reggae feel on the track. It is not bad track, and as it played I just sort of listened. Nothing really strood out. Greg Ham takes the lead vocals on “I Like To”. This has that early 80's sound. That makes little sense when the record you are speaking of came out in 1983, but if you heard for the fist time you'd say “okay what 80's band is this?” Not a band thing to say, it just has that sort of pop and speedy backbeat to move things along. There is an odd guitar solo, mostly high up on the neck. Sounds a little campy but the band seems to gel on it just fine before the solo gets a better direction if you will. The song really seems to speed up and then comes to a crashing finish. The album concludes with “No Restrictions”* This has that big 80's feel as well with the guitar sound and electric drums. Hay's vocals seem to have a little effect thrown in on them. The speed on the track is right up there and the band is all but willing to play along at the speed. Ham has his most “up front” flute solo on this track. It adds a great touch and you want it to be longer. It has a quick tempo change, then it ends.

*there was a re-issue of the album in 2003 which includes 5 additional tracks.

Where are they now? - Extensive touring took a toll on the band. Speiser and Rees were let go by the management and Strykert followed later. The band would dissolve in 1986. Ham and Hay would reform the group and tour in 1996. Strykert released a solo record in 2009 called “Paradise”. Rees is a music teacher in Melbournse. Speiser plays drums for the band “The Afterburner”. Colin Hay has continued to write and perform live as a solo artist. He also played woth Ringo Starr in his All-Star Band. Greg Ham passed away on April 19, 2012.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I never saw the band live.

FDF Overall Take – I recall in the early days of the compact disc it was hard to find the “less” popular cds. My girlfriend at the time wanted this on cd and we looked at many places. I would ask her “don't you mean you want Business as Usual?” and she'd say “No..I am sure its Cargo that I want”. I couldn't understand it then, but listening now I get it. There are some really strong moments here. Cast off for whatever reasons as just an 80's nostalgia act it is a shame. I've been hearing great things about the solo Colin Hay stuff as well has his shows. I really think its time I smarten up. All that aside, these guys are talented and write a decent song that doesn't sound dated. Well worth tracking their stuff down, its all in the “cheap” bin so treat yourself.

The band on myspace
Colin Hayofficial site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC! Upstairs at My House (Live) before the album was out Upstairs at My House (studio) Highwire (audio only) High Wire (sort of bad audio) official video Overkill (just because/Colin Hay solo acoustic) You can still track down the record here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sorry in advance..blooger made some changes and I am not sure how formats will be once we are live. There might need to be some edits. Hope you will hang tight while we work though things. Thanks!

Friday, April 20, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 263 - High on Fire - The Art of Self Defense

Album – The Art of Self Defense
Artist – High on Fire
Key Players - Des Kensel – Drums. George Rice – Bass. Matt Pike – Guitar, Vocals.
Produced By – High on Fire and Billy Anderson

Release Date – March 7, 2000

What caused me to blow off the dust? - The band released a decent new record and I wanted to go back to listen the older stuff.

Overview – This is the debut album from Oakland, California band High On Fire. After Matt Pikes band “Sleep” dissolved he went on to form High on Fire. Blending heavy metal, with a little of stoner, sludge and doom the band would release a series of records and tour. The band has remained a three piece since its inception.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The six song album (yes its a full length) starts with “Baghdad” in which Pike sets the buzzy tone with overdubbed guitars. Kensel finds the floor toms for the heavy bottom and Rice has a deep crunchy bass. Pike doesn't have much of a vocal range. It's gruff and he doesn't break out of the shell too much. He will go higher on the chorus, but you can tell he is straining. Doing this just makes it heavier and darker. The riffs are big. Real big. The tempo is surprisingly moderate for the weight of the tune with Kensel really finding the deep bottom of this tom toms. Pike takes a run at a solo and it is a decent length that is neither too fast, nor too busy. It comes back to the big buzzy guitar of the intro for a good round off point. A decent solo for the track. “10,000 Years” starts almost with no fade of the prior track. Kensel takes the lead on a slow rolling drum line before Rice joins. His bass seems to find the lowest of the low range and Pike works up over the top before he steps on the overdrive and the guitar gets going. When there are vocals they are short verses, leaving more room for the big wall of sound. Nearing the three minute mark Rice and Pike seem to find one another and the bass has a cleaner punch to it. Kensel just slaps the snare and the band roars back to attention finding those big swampy riffs. They seem to like the riff as they sit on it for a little too long before Pike takes a run at a solo. Kensel and Rice are not to be out done holding everything down tightly. “Blood From Zion” has the slow, swirly then buzzy build up. Kensel rings off the cymbals before the band bears down and takes off. The drum line is a little robotic, but it holds things together as Pike is busy throwing out big riffs as always. Rice has the same line on the bass so he is a little buried until they come out of the verses. About the two minute mark the band changes direction ever so slightly and you can hear Rice go one way as Pike goes the other, only to meet a few bars later. It is a nice break for the guys to show some diversity. You are up against a big wall of sound, and it is easy to get lost in just that “sound” so when things break out it can be refreshing. It keeps right on going as “Last” is up quickly. The band hardly seems to have broken stride and the feel continues to be heavy. The cool part (at least to me) is that music can be heavy like this, but not this fast, over the top double bass drum speed stuff. Its just HEAVY. You want to take a shower after listening to these tunes. Also, you get to think of the times where you hear these trios and wonder how the heck so much noise can be made. Pike really seems to shine on this track with what appears to be his longest, and most complex guitar solo. Rice is the lone player as “Fireface” starts. Striking out a few notes at a time, a progression he follows for the first minute or more of the song before Kensel hits the bass and floor tom with a thunderous “thud” and Rice goes back to his progression. Pike can be heard slowly swirling in the back then it all takes off, but not until two minutes in. The guitars buzz in and out of the bass line from Rice. There are few sections of instrumental breakdown which is always a plus leaving each member on their own. They go for the big downbeat chords and drum strikes over and over before coming to the big rock finish. The record concludes with “Master of Fists” and it finds Pike as the lead doing the slow build and then the band joins in. Pike sounds particularly gruff on the intro to the track. It is another slow burner, really dark and Rice and Kensel keep the thunder rumbles as Pike heads to the solo. After the solo the vocals come back and Pike howls even more aggressively. You can hear his throat seemingly shred to pieces. Pike solos again and the bass level rises up so you can hear more of the melody from Rice.

Where are they now? - The band is still active having just released “De Vermis Mysteriis” on April 3rd. Des and Mike have been constant members. Rice left the band after touring for the follow up (Surrounded by Thieves).

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – Actually seen the band four times. The first was June 28, 2000 at the Linewood Grill in Boston. The funniest point of the night was right before taking the stage, Matt Pike took the mic and said “I am going to go outside and get stoned before we start to come join me”. It was a solid, and very loud set. Took me six years to get to them again when I saw them at the Living Room in Providence on February 4, 2006. By this point it seemed like High On Fire was always playing multi band bills. This night there were four. I did enjoy Big Business, but don't recall much else, other than a fairly tame audience. October 12, 2007 was back at the Living Room to see them again. Again, a multi band bill, but they key on this Mono, a band from Japan that I really like was on the bill. (review I had done for the show can be found here). The last time was December 7, 2009 at the House of Blues in Boston, on support for Mastodon/Dethlok tour. They were great, playing to those that showed up. (Review for that one can be found here). I also swear this is one other time, with them opening for Nashville Pussy, but I don't see the date in my file.

FDF Overall Take – This might not be up your alley as an every day listen, but, if you like some heavy swampy rock and roll, this is for you. I'll be first to admit that Pike doesn't have the best voice (but hey does Bob Dylan?) its all in the music and vibe of the band. Worth checking out and if you get a chance to see them live its usually pretty darn tight.

Get info on it all via the bands web site
Listen to some on myspace
Like em on Facebook

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Blood From Zion (Studio version)

Blood From Zion (live)

Last (studio)


Grab the cd

Friday, April 13, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 262 - The Jesus and Mary Chain - Honey's Dead

Album – Honey's Dead
Artist – The Jesus and Mary Chain
Key Players – Jim Reid - vocals and guitar. William Reid – vocals and guitar. Steve Monti – drums and percussion
Produced By – William and Jim Reid.

Release Date – March 23, 1992

What caused me to blow off the dust? I heard the track "Head On" (actually the Pixies cover) and I realized it had been a long while.

Overview – This is the fourth studio album from the Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain. The band (brothers Jim and William Reid) began playing in 1983. There are various reports on where the band got their name, ranging from a movie to a “prize” you could mail in for off a box of cereal. The band would write and perform (sometimes not even asked to do so) they'd release their first single in 1984. The band would gain notoriety for loud, short and violent filled shows. Over time they'd release more records and “calm down” a lot. The band would break up, but have since re-formed.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Since the brothers both sing and both play guitar I'll use first names. Also after the song names if “blank” Jim had the lead vocals. William for example sings on track 4 (Almost Gold) so I've indicated as well to them singing. The album opens with a controversial track “Reverence”. The lyrics “I want to die like Jesus Christ” and “I just want to die like JFK” got the single banned in the UK. The track is heavily fuzzed out with drummer Monti keeping a steady pace but the brothers just hit you will the swirling wall of guitar. Jim has a fitting voice for the vibe of the band. Slightly nasal, and not a ton of range, but perfectly fitting. There is a longer guitar solo, one keeps the steady pace as the second takes over. The tracks machine like drumming remains a constant through out. “Teenage Lust” seems a little slower tempo wise, but still very dark. Monti is slower on the drum strikes and the guitar has a deeper bass feel, but still full of fuzz. The band seems to find a groove as the chorus approaches with bigger chords and more of a full sound vs the singular buzzy guitars working over the drums. “Far Gone and Out” is a track that found its way to radio. A quick track that has just the right mix of the fuzz and melody that make a solid track. One guitar has a fair more 'bright' sound to it as it rings off the top of the buzzy guitar that maintains the bottom The drums are accented with more percussion than prior tracks. We are even more “mellow” on the track
“Almost Gold” (William). The band is much less rushed and the instruments each seem to stand on their own not relying on such a “wall” of sonic sound. Nice to hear the band seem to try different things. “Sugar Ray” returns to more of the fuzz of earlier tracks. One guitar seems to sound like a siren while the other meshes with the drums for a seamless back end. The track is not overly quick, but feel “sonic” at times, just hammering the listener with the walls of sound. The vocals come right out of the gate as “Tumbledown” starts. Keeping with the vibe of the “Jim” speedier” fuzzy tracks it has a faster, almost “industrial” type feel at times. They actually seem to have enough fun they duplicate it on the back side of the track. We slow down again with a deep bass driven track as “Catchfire” (William) starts off. William is more of a “whisper” singer. His delivery adds a unique feel to the track which is refreshing. Jim tries to match William and “Good for My Soul” starts off calm like the previous track. The percussion starts to get the track moving more but it doesn't ever really take off, it keeps the steady pass. Monti clicks off “Rollercoaster” and the guitars are back up in your face. One guitar finds the same few chords chime out as the second really takes a more sharp attack. Monti never really has had a chance to open up it seems, and hits them hard, but keeps it in check. Still, this is one of the more “tight” sounding tracks on the record. “I Can't Get Enough” (William) has a “brit pop” jangle to the guitar at the start. The tambourine, whenever used, (on all the tracks) is right up on the same level as the guitars it seems adding, dare I say, a playful feel. “Sundown” (William) is a calm track from the band where the guitars really ease up, and the drums are seemingly played with brushes. As the track is played out the drums get hit a little harder, but it never really gets that full buzzy/heavy feel of other tracks, or so you think...listen as the track winds down. The album concludes with the William sung “Frequency”. The lyrics used are the same as the album opener. The tempo and feel of the track is the same as the first track, but the vocals are less distorted, thus leaving it open for the guitars to be even louder than before...and more heavily distorted. The track quickly ends though..leaving you wanting more.

Where are they now? - The band broke up whole on tour in 1998 after years of tensions between the brothers. They have since re-formed (2007) and play live shows from time to time. In reading they say there is new music forthcoming, but a number of years have passed since these updates.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) August 7, 1992 was the only time I saw the band live. They were part of the Lollapaloosa tour. I recall them being in dark clothes (the stage was the shaded main stage) but it was daylight and there were a lot of people walking around. I recall one of the band members shouting “Where is everyone going?” They were not so bad that people were leaving, they were just not holding attention of a noticeable many. The band has said this was the “Worst experience of their lives”.

FDF Overall Take – The Jesus and Mary Chain are one of those bands where if you know who they are you dig them. It is sort of sacred ground for music fans so it can be a tough path to go down. There are some really solid moments on this record, and hardcore fans might point right away to any other record as being “better”. A few singles might strike a chord with the new listener. You can find their stuff used easy enough and your music cred goes up just a smidge if you've got one of their cds in the collection.

Official page

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Reverence (live)

Far Gone and Out

Far Gone and Out on Letterman

You can still find the record here.

Friday, April 06, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 261 - Don Caballero - American Don

Album – American Don
Artist – Don Caballero
Key Players - Ian Williams – Guitars. Eric Emm – Bass. Damon Che - drums
Produced By – Steve Albini (credited as “the proprietor”)

Release Date – October 3, 2000

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Had a tune come up on shuffle recently and decided that a full exploration was again needed.

Overview – First, Don Caballero is a band, not a person. The name was taken from a Godfather Parody done on Second City Television. Formed in Pittsburgh in the early 1990's the band set out to have a singer, but it never materialized. “Math Rock” is the format typically pinned to the band they'd tour for a bit, gain, lose and regain members, move to Chicago, tour more, break up and re-form......This is the bands fifth studio album, and seen by some as the final under the “creative core” of Che and Williams.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Just as a note, so much goes on in these songs each track could get an albums worth of write up. I'll do my best to get you the point, but be as brief as I can in doing so. “Fire Back About your New Baby's Sex” is the first in a long line of tracks names that make you re-read it to be sure you read what you read. Che hammers the high hat and then Williams layers a few short guitar parts. Emm chugs out a few rumbling bass notes and then Che switches to his tom toms. The track feels like it will really take off, but the band suddenly slows it down and Williams finds a comfortable riff and the band seems to loop around on that. Then about the 2 minute mark everything seems to stop. Williams delay loops a few short guitar parts for half a minute, then Che comes in with quick tight bursts on the drums and then about the three minute mark you really get an idea what Che can do. Its not this super fast metal like drumming,but REALLY listen to what he ends up doing its impressive. All the while Emm and Williams continue their driving core set of notes. It continues at a torrid pace and even for sort of a convoluted set of notes, it all blends perfectly. Stellar opener. “The Peter Criss Jazz” is a much slower track with far less time signature changes. Che is kept in check for a lot as Williams speeds up the guitar well over two minutes in. Che seems to rumble the same drum line. Emm offers some distorted bass riffs, but Williams seems to want to keep the track on focus, even with the feeling it is about to burst at any moment. This seems to go on for a long time (the track is over 10 minutes long) at the 7 minute mark you think its wrapping up, it fades but comes back up with Emm finding a cool bass riff and Williams adds to the chaos. Still, Che holds it down with such precision. “Haven't Lived Afro Pop” starts off with each member seeming to go in different directions. Emm's bass is higher in the mix and Williams seems to pluck single strings as Che finds, what seems to be, a new drum to strike. At 1:20 the band just takes off. The chopping guitars match the drumming spot on. Then, Che decides he is going to have some fun, and it feels like follow the leader. Emm does okay for a bit, but Williams makes it his own. The hi hat is clapped together at such a rapid pace it seems like triple time. Emm and Williams seem to them trade off harmonics on their instruments for a very cool sound. Another great song title comes up in “You Drink a Lot of Coffee for a Teenager”. Again, it feels like the band is tuning up but wait for it. Emm strikes some bass, Williams does something, then Che is on the drums almost saying “lets go guys!” The key to remember on this one is Che doesn't have a double bass drum. That is all a single kick drum. Listen from 40 seconds in. Go ahead..I'll wait. Okay...tired? I am. Sheesh. Good thing the whole track seems to slow down for the second half. Everyone needs to catch their breath. Seem to slow it down again with the track “Ones All Over the Place”. Williams layers his guitar, but Che isn't really pushing the tempo. Emm drops a few big bass riffs but, that is well after the song has started. Williams seems okay with repeating his guitar line as Emm and Che seem to “wait” for the chance to jump. This is another longer track and the band seems to use the space and time to spread out. It never really takes off, but it is pretty interesting none the less. Switching between speakers the guitar bounces on “I Never Liked You” at the start. Che then jumps on his kit and Emm gives the thundering single bass notes to really grab the listener. Williams has a cleaner guitar sound on this track. With a song title like “Details on how to get ICEMAN on your License Plate” you'll be wondering what is really up! The band each seems to want to go in a different direction. Williams loops a guitar section and then plays over that. Emm and Che then find their pockets and roll with it. Emm seems to be doing the most interesting things and keeping it on point. Che, not to be outdone, takes off on his own moments later and it seems like Williams just wants to keep up. Che takes the lead as “A Lot of People Tell Me I Have A Fake British Accent” gets rolling. Emm and Che take off and make it a heavy rocker. Both Williams and Emm drop off and let Che rumble on the kit some. It is not really a solo as much as it is an interlude. They all come right back around and rumble forward. Closing out the record is “Let's Face it Pal, You Don't Need That Eye Surgery”. Emm repeats the same bass notes at the start as Che hits each drum like it stole money from him. Williams is slower to join the fold and he and Che seem to find a tandem in notes and structure. They all seem to want to go out on a high note and nobody shows any signs of backing down. Solid album closer.

Where are they now? - The band broke up while on tour for this record. The band was tired, and tired of each other and decided they'd break up after the tour. Their van hit a patch of ice on the way to Detroit for what was to be their final show. The van crashed into another truck and was heavily damaged. The members survived, but they disbanded on the side of the highway. The three have all gone on to other projects. Emm joined the band “Good Morning. Damon Che played drums with Bellini but has since re-formed Don Caballero, beginning in 2003 and they have released two more records. Don Caballero is listed as still being “active”. Ian Williams is the guitar player in the band “Battles”.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I never saw Don Caballero live.

FDF Overall Take – Many people may struggle with the odd time signatures, or lack of vocals. There are a few really shining moments on this record of some stunning playing. Sure even I as a fan listen to parts and say “ehhh” but overall it impresses more than it disappoints. If you are scoring a record bin, or see any of their stuff its worthy of a few bucks. Something you might not toss on every day, but then again if you tossed the same music on every day you'd probably stumbled upon this web page, and read this far, by sheer accident.

The band on Touch and Go (label for many releases)
Relapse (new version)
Just what the heck IS Math Rock?

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Fire Back About Your Baby's Sex (studio version)

Live version of same tune

You Drink A Lot of Coffee for a Teenager

You can still track down the album on