Archive for September, 2012
It has been a very long time since I first saw Thrice in Scranton PA. USA, as they headlined at the touring punk festival institution that is the Warped Tour 05. I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea who they were and we only stopped to watch because they were on the stage closest to the exit. A came away that evening screaming their names from the highest towers as they were simply brilliant. Couldn’t tell you why, or what they sounded like, it was just great aggressive rock music.
It’s an easy observations, but 7 years later on we have matured. Thrice have gone from angry punked youths to methodical prog tinged rockers. both veins given a run out this evening, the latter style kicking off the night with tunes from their latest album Major/Minor which showed their more restrained noise, but most expressive melodies. There is no questioning the quality and scope of tonight’s setlist, mainly because it was informally selected from by an online fan poll. Taking songs from each of their albums they covered angry riff driven metal/punk of early day albums Identity Crisis, The Illusion of Safety and The Artist in The Ambulance on numbers such as Phoenix Ignition and To Wake And Avenge The Dead and set highpoint eponymous The Artist In The Ambulance.
The crowd were at their most moshiest during these tunes, especially during some huge breakdowns (prime suspect Silhouette) which had even the most recently converted fans heads a wagging. The fans tonight were truly awesome, each opening chord, note or vocal this evening was met with a huge roar of “yeeeeeeeeees!!!”, followed by manic leaping and mouthing of each and every word. There was a sense of reverence and unhinged emotion in the air, for this was possibly the last time Thrice would ever set foot on a UK stage again.
Musically the band played their part too. Vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue was on top form who in combo with lead axeman Teppei Teranishi created a glorious racket of clashing riffs , mellow atmospherics and angst fuelled thunderous power chords. When they decided sharpen their the progressive edge and revisit albums Vheissu and their Alchemy Indices I-IV, beautiful brutality and caressing sound scapes were never far behind. Tracks such as the dreamy Red Sky and the cataclysmic Firebreather showcasing the best efforts.
Thrice played on through an epic length of time extending the track list to 24 songs in just under 2 hours, returning for not 1 but 2 encores, the latter where they played their first ever single T&C’s. A brilliantly palm muted duelling guitar riffed melody which launched into a full-on energy and thrust that extracted the final reserves of the fans long exhausted voices providing the final chance to dance (I say dance, I mean bounce/clash).
Taking a collective bow Thrice bowed out of the UK on a high, when/if they return is a question for another day. Tonight all that mattered is, we were there!
Beyond the handful of singles there was little more tunes to recommend. One album and an unreleased EP of pretty similar sounding material was their eventual downfall. Despite changing tempo (mainly slowing) the variety was seriously lacking, eventually leading to yawning and mind meanders. So plenty of work still to be done and plenty of time to cement their status as headliners, which in my opinion has come one album to soon.
So overall Little Comets did not hit the highs expected of their lively pop antics, all in all…It’s A Cosmic Shame.
Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora is back with his third solo release:
Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
Richie Sambora’s fist solo release for 14 years shows a more personal side to the man behind some of the greatest rock anthems of the last 30 years, as he indulges both his guitar heritage as well as the slick production of Bon Jovi’s megahits.
Flying out of the blocks with a blast of retro blues swagger, the opening bars of Aftermath of The Lowdown are as steeped in Samora’s bluesy roots, as it is raw power. The painfully simple but effective effect drenched riff backed with high alarm like note wails, driving organs, a long forgotten extended emotional guitar solo and catchy vocal hooks sets the bar high.
What’s apparent, is this opening gambit, Burn That Candle Down, a vastly different song from his day job money spinners which sets the album out on a great trajectory. Which is why I was a tad surprised to find that the next tune tilts and fades towards standard jovi-esque balladry.
In fact this becomes a distinct theme throughout the album as songs flit from high octane hard rock numbers soaked in punchy blues licks and rollicking keys to Richie’s smooth soft pop rock crooners (even if the lyrical content is far from uplifting covering many unhappy memories including his divorce for one). The former however burst with vitality and insistent energy which is equal parts hard rock riffing, harmonic squealing and driving power chords. Nowadays layered power chords and Sugar Daddy’s na-na-na’ing riff driven riot showcasing the best this rich rawkus vein has to tap. The latter heard on Every Road Leads Home To You feels like just another Jovi ballad, as does much of the uninspiring tail end of the record. The pick of these lighter swayers being Seven Years Gone, a lamenting tale of woe which is both heartfelt and uplifting.
Only when the two approaches are combined does a true Sambora signature spark spring to life. Takin’ A Chance On The Wind, showcases this approach with a superb popped up mid tempo, almost country tune flexing trademark fret board flashes of genius, smooth vocals and a powerful layered multi instrumental backdrop.
Sambora’s vocals are solid throughout and are probably at their best when effect loaded in the up-tempo mood. His soulful voice however does almost as fine a job as his partner in crime JB Jovi’s with balladry, only without those high notes.
This release has finely trodden the line of adding in early blues influences without alienating both Sambora’s core fan base of soppy ballad babes and bon jovi boys. In pleasing all, inevitably this leaves Aftermath of the Lowdown without top marks, but it has scored well enough in the ‘good time rock and roll category’ to warrant a firm recommendation for all rock, blues and pop lovers.
DoesItRock Overall Score: 7/10
Listen to Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown now on Spotify!
19th-20th April 2012
Motion City Soundtrack – Two Nights, Four Albums
Greeted with an almighty queue at XOYO we were slightly surprised to find a packed basement venue, a whole lot smaller than anticipated. Quite frankly it’s tiny for a band of Motion City Soundtrack standard. It did however make us feel rather lucky that we had tix to such a special series of shows. Two Nights, Four Albums, a titanic feat, only attempted once before in their hometown of Minneapolis MA. Being able to witness one of my favourite bands up so close playing every song they have committed to LP was a classic in the making.
Arriving spritely, their first set comprised of a pretty manic run of album number 1, I Am The Movie. A predominantly upbeat, punked album full of euphoric sing-alongs, huge electro hooks and contagious guitars. They had a lot to get through so lead singer Justin Pierre barely paused for the now customary (at such events) insider tit bits on the songs. Something he later fessed up as being because he had no idea what they were originally about. One of the only comments I can recall were that he wanted to get the words no-stick frying pan into a song. This goes some way to explaining their fun outlook and ridiculous lyrics.
Early material which best stood the test of time were the signature single The Future Freaks Me Out, exhilarating electro Don’t Call It A Comeback and joyous straight up pop punked Red Dress.
Motion City Soundtrack
Being one of our long term favourite albums here at DiR.net Commit This To Memory, part 2 of 4 was never going to be anything but stratospheric. With greater songwriting prowess and upped pop swagger, these songs mixed up synths, heartfelt verse, attacking power chords and more nonsensical lyrics to up the ante once more. This album showed a lot more of their sombre side with an influx of semi-ballads such as the lyrical conundrums of LGFUAD and the melodramatic Resolution. Best of the rest included the spritely Everything Is Alright and synth loaded Time Turned Fragile.
Singer Justin was clearly revealing in being amongst his admirers, although after stating he’s sticking around to meet everyone (both nights), he added that he would not actually speak. Not massively unexpected given he had just roared 2 albums worth of material in a little under 2 hours.
Returning a little wiser/earlier on night 2 meant we had a much better vantage point to enjoy the continuation of the series. Again wasting little time MCS took to their third album, Even If It Kills Me with reckless abandon. For me this was their strongest album, as it showcased the best of their sound. Hook heavy pop (This Is For Real), driving synths (Fell In Love Without You) and increased bonkers lyrical content (Point of Extinction). With amore complex instrumentations, many melody mash-ups and greater variety, this set never tired, thus getting my nod for best of the 4.
It was during this album that Justin first found it tough going in recalling the lyrics. MCS songs are noted for their verbose vocal sheets and the fact he only required the words on a couple of tunes throughout all 4 albums is remarkable.
Which sadly brought us to the final album, My Dinosaur Life. Being our least favoured LP this was surprisingly great. Taking on a bright, optimistic and upbeat persona each tune was instantly likeable and had a tendency to root deep in the brains melody centre. The best being the rawkus Disappear, acoustic strummer Stand Too Close and Hysteria which cause said emotion throughout the front quarter of the crowd.
What made this series of shows stand out greater than the sum of its vast parts was the intimate setting and the immense crowd reciprocation, every lyric, every line, every song, every melody. Although the sheer sardine nature of stage front meant any kind of exuberant dance pogo effort was reduced to an amusing gentle swaying.
Motion City Soundtrack stand alone in attempting a feat such as this series of shows. Their recreation of 48 songs, many long forgotten, shows their love for playing live and in the process giving their fans a night to remember. I can decree, they succeeded! A fantastic 2 nights which lit up Shoreditch.