Monday, January 31, 2011

Season 2 Preview Post

Hello, followers, readers, friends. I do apologize for the sudden end to our first season in October, although I do think it was a good place to stop for a while. Anyhow, I'm back, and just wanted to give you guys a glimpse into what's happening on the new season!


That's right! We'll have a new sweep of bands coming from all different genres, places in the world, and new reasons to enjoy them. To give away two of the bands we'll be looking at, just for teaser purposes, we'll be enjoying Mumford and Sons, Neil Young, and many, many more. And yes, I'll give you a head's up as to when I'm making the final post of the season.


I feel as though making these super long bios about the bands, I'll be putting more of my time and energy into finding the words to describe the bands in words that typically fail me. This way, instead of turning into the guy at the party who has all the useless facts, like me, you can become super aware of what's happening in the music, and eventually learn (if you already don't) to be able to find out exactly what you like about your personal taste in music, and what you don't. 


What?!? Surely you can't be serious! Silence, screaming fangirl. Yes, it's true, and don't call me Shirley. The amount of posts I plan on making this season will make last season look like neglect. Yes, think posts every 2 days, or something along those lines, as well as the posts being longer than they usually are!

Yes, I'm sure this is going to be one hell of a next season. I hope you all stick around for more, coming tonight. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Next Act: The Nekromantix

                                                          Albums in chronological order

So, as you know, I have a broad range in musical tastes. One of my favorite genres would have to be... Pyshcobilly. A form of Rockabilly semi-mixed with Punk and often Blues. So here's one of my favorites of the genre, The Nekromantix.

The band was formed in 1989 in Copenhagen, Denmark by Kim Nekroman. Fun Fact! Kim Nekroman is married to Patricia Day, the bassist/vocalist of The HorrorPops. He plays lead guitar, and sings backing vocals for them.

After 8 years in the Royal Danish Navy, Nekroman decided to leave, and start a career in music. I'd have done the same thing. He formed the band with Paolo Molinari (guitar), and Jens Brygman (drums), though Molinary and Brygman can't be heard on any of the albums. If you couldn't tell by now, the band was named after Nekroman himself.

After 2 local shows in Denmark, a mere 6 months after their first rehearsal session, The Nekromantix were billed for a huge psychobilly festival in Hamburg, Germany in 1989. This resulted in a recording contract with Tombstone Records, and the release of their first album, "Hellbound". The lineup on this album consists of Peter Sandorff on guitar, and Peek (Sebastion) on drums. I'm leaving out Kim, because he's in on every album on Bass and vocals.

Fun Fact!

Kim Nekroman's first "Coffinbass" was handcrafted from an actual child-size coffin. The more you know...

Their second album, "Curse of The Coffin" consisted of the same lineup, released in 1991 on Nervous Records. It was produced by Mickey Mutant and recorded at Madhouse Studio in London, England.

Their third album, "Brought Back to Life", had a change of lineup in the band. A new guitarist, Ian Dawn and drummer Grim Tim Handsome were added to the band. It was recorded in 1992, and released in 1993 under Intermusic Records, produced by Kim Nekroman himself. The album earned itself a Grammy award for "Best Heavy Metal Album". This was one of my favorite albums, but there will be a list at the end with my 10 most recommended songs, which will obviously turn out to be more than 10.

In other news, in between these 2 albums, I was born and Kurt Cobain died. A pretty tragic year, if you ask me.

1995 brought us a new album, and a new lineup to the band. "Demons Are A Girl's Best Friend" was released in 1996 back again on Nervous Records, and once more, it was produced by Kim Nekroman, recorded at  Here, we find ourselves with a new guitarist, Søren Munk Petersen.

But wait... What's this?

Undead 'N Live! The live album by The Nekromantix, recorded in 1999 brings back to us a familiar name... None other than Peter Sandorff, ladies and gentlemen! The guitarist for their first album "Hellbound" comes back for an exquisite return. The concert was recorded at Stengade 30, where their first 2 shows were played before the festival in Hamburg. The song "Nice Day For A Resurrection" was played, previously unreleased until their 2002 album "Return of The Loving Dead".

Peter and Kristian Sandorff remained in the lineup for the next 2 albums, "Return of The Loving Dead" (2002), and "Dead Girls Don't Cry" (2004), both released on Hellcat Records. This was sadly the last time they've been in the lineup since then.

2007 brought us once again, a new lineup and a brand-spankin' new album, "Life is A Grave & Dig It!", with Tröy Deströy on guitar, and Andy DeMize on drums. This is their most recent album. However, Tröy decided to leave and seek out a solo career. Tragically, on January 11th, 2009, DeMize was killed in a car crash. Nekroman got together with a new lineup for performing, starting in 2009. The new lineup is now Franc on guitar, and Lux on drums. And in 2009, the Nekromantix toured both with The Reverend Horton Heat, and a different tour with Rob Zombie.

The Nekromantix have been located in L.A, California since the release of "Return of The Loving Dead", touring and recording 2 albums with The Horrorpops. Actually, The Nekromantix recently came to my town, Seattle, but I was sadly away overnight. I would have killed for a ticket.

So, why on earth would this lowly teenager from Washington like a band like this?

Well, incredibly rude personal Q&A participant, I've got an answer so amazing, your head will literally fall apart.

So, I'm a big fan of rockabilly. You'll find more about that next time, but I am. I find psychobilly in general to be an amazing work of art, ranging from bands like The Koffin Kats, to The Nekromantix, to Elvis Hitler. But the reason I like THESE guys so much, is that they bring a new brand of psychobilly to the table. They really put the psycho in it. Songs like Monster Movie Fan (Brought Back to Life) and Who Killed The Cheerleader? (Brought Back to Life Again) will show you this much.

The guitar, no matter the lineup is always mindblowing. Personally, I favor Return of The Loving Dead, but I do have more listening to do. The vocals are a classic voice, kind of crunchy, but sometimes cleaned up. I think these guys really define psychobilly by themselves. Their tunes still have that kind of a 1950's swing to it sometimes, but other times, it's a downright fast-paced rocking song, but that doesn't make them rock any less.

Included in my finale, as the curtains draw, and the crappy "GET OFF THE STAGE" music plays in my head, I leave you with a list of my favorite songs of theirs I think you should listen to.

1. Nekrofelia - Brought Back to Life
2. Dial 666 - Brought Back to Life
3. Devil Smile - Curse of The Coffin
4. S/M - Curse of The Coffin
5. Subcultural Girl - Return of The Loving Dead
6. Return of The Loving Dead - Return of The Loving Dead
7. Haunted Cathouse - Return of The Loving Dead
8. Brought Back to Life - Brought Back to Life

Goodnight, folks, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Surprise! Part 3 of Frank Sinatra:

So, it occurred to me only moments after posting Part 2, the supposed "finale" of our singer's story... I never told you folks why I love this classy fella so. I guess we're gonna have a part 3, then. Enjoy.

When I was a kid, if you asked me who Frank Sinatra was, I'd probably cock my head, ignore you rudely, and watch Spongebob Squarepants with a bag of Dorito's 3D and the really cool cans of Cherry Coke. My mind wasn't very widely expanded, having only been listening to motion picture soundtracks and Looney Tunes Sings The Beatles. No, my mind didn't really bridge the gap of "expanded" until I moved up to Seattle in 2002. And at that point, all I listened to was N'Sync and The Backstreet Boys, and Smashmouth.

However, as I grew older and older (I was about 8 at the time), I started liking the heavier music my brother played around me. It was at this point I started getting stubborn. If it wasn't heavy, it was some wuss who'd never heard of growling nor distortion. But then I heard of a little band called Led Zeppelin. This was the big change for me.

I was in 8th grade, at Puget Sound Community School which was located in the University District at the time, when my teacher came up to me and said "Luke, do you know a band called Pink Floyd?", to which I said "N-n-no?". I didn't have a stutter, I was just nervous. She then proclaimed she would be teaching a class called "Classic Bands You Should Know" which covered classic rock like The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, all that jazz (rock). This music just blew my mind! How could I have been so oblivious to this music the whole time? This sparked a whole chain of events, leading me to the Treehouse of Horror XVII, where they parodied War of The Worlds.

After hearing "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" by The Ink Spots in the closing credits, I thought "My god... this music is amazing!". I downloaded the song off iTunes, and in the "Customers Also Bought" section, I saw the name Frank Sinatra. It was familiar, so I downloaded the album "In The Wee Small Hours" album, expecting some big band music, like I'd heard in movies. I was disappointed, obviously, but I decided to just get "My Way - The Best of Frank Sinatra", just for the big band tunes. I accidentally let my favorite song run into the next one, and I just fell in love. I've been listening to him for about a year, and I felt I had to give him a 2 part story, with a 1 part encore.

Here's to you, Frankie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Frank Sinatra: Part 2

And we're back with Frank Sinatra, part 2. Thanks for your patience, as I promised part 2 would be posted last night.

So, in our last installment, Ol' Frankie had just terminated his contract with Capitol Records, started Reprise Records, and released the album "Ring-A-Ding-Ding" which peaked the Billboard charts at #8. Not bad, Frankie, not bad. He then starred in the feature film Ocean's 11, also starring Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The film is to this day recognized as the screen outing of "The Rat Pack".

So we find ourselves in the 1970's.  In June of 1971, at a benefit concert in Hollywood, Frank Sinatra announced his retirement, bringing a close to his 36-year career in show business.

But let's not be too hasty, ladies and gents.

In 1973, he burst out of the chains of retirement, hosting a television special and releasing an album, both entitled "Ol' Blue Eyes is Back". The album was arranged by Gordon Jenkins and Dan Costa, and hit the charts like a classy hammer. It reached #13 on the Billboard charts. The special was highlighted by a dramatic reading of "Send in The Clowns", originally written by Stephen Sondheim, and was read by Sinatra himself.

Getting back into the spirit of the biz, Sinatra made his return to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He had sworn never to return there after the manager, one Sanford Waterman pulled a gun on him during an argument in 1970. Waterman had been shot recently, and Sinatra felt he could finally perform there once again.

In this moment in time, we see a defiant point in Sinatra's comeback. In Australia in 1974, after being badgered relentlessly by the press, he described them onstage as "Fags, pimps and whores". This obviously pissed off the press, and the union workers went on strike, demanding his apology. He had none of that. He instead demanded their apology for "the 15 years of abuse I've taken from the world press". The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) leader, who also insisted upon his apology, came to an agreement with him, and his last concert of the Australia tour was televised.

In October of the same year, Frankie appeared in Madison Square Garden in New York for a televised concert, where he was backed by Woody Herman, bandleader of Young Thundering Herd. The concert was recorded, and released under the title "The Main Event - Live". It was as well the title of a TV special, culled from various tours during his comeback career. It was an "eh" success, with the album peaking at #37 on Billboard charts.

And in 1979, Sinatra performed for Anwar Sadat, the 3d President of Egypt, in front of the Egyptian Pyramids in Vegas, celebrating 40 years of his career, and his 64th birthday, and was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award at a party in Caesar's Palace. I'll use this as a happy note to end the '70s on. Sound good? Good.

Here we are in the 1980's. I like to think of this as the decade of the keytar and bad haircuts, but there was a shining beam of light, and that beam of light was titled "Trilogy: Past, Present, Future". The first album in six years by Frank Sinatra that found himself recording songs from the "Past", such as "The Song is You" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, "It Had To Be You" by Isham Jones and Gus Khan, and "All of You" by Cole Porter. Songs from the "Present", like "Something" by George Harrison, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, and "Theme From New York, New York" by Fred Ebb, and John Kander. The songs from the "Future" were new songs, where we experience a new side to Sinatra, singing in a musical theater styling with lyrics pondering the future.

In '81, he progressed the success of "Trilogy" with the album "She Shot Me Down", which reinvented himself in an old styling of his darker Capitol years. The critics praised it as a "vintage late-period Sinatra", and Frank himself described it as "A complete saloon album... tear-jerkers and cry-in-your-beer kind of things".

Also in '81, he embraced himself in controversy, as he worked a 10 day engagement in Sun City, South Africa, breaking a cultural boycott against Apartheid.

In '83, he was selected as one of the five recipients of the annual Kennedy Center Honors, alongside fellow receivers James Stewart, Katharine Dunham, Virgil Thompson, and Ella Kazan. Ronald Reagan quoted Henry James, an old friend in his speech to Sinatra, saying "Art was the shadow of humanity". He also said that Sinatra had spent his life "casting a magnificent and powerful shadow".

In 1983, Quincy Jones stepped into the career of Sinatra for the first time in about 20 years. They worked together and recorded the album "L.A is My Lady", which was a substitute for another Jones project, which had to be abandoned due to Sinatra's prior engagements.

We find ourselves in the 1990's. I like to think of this as the decade of Grunge music, crappy boy bands, and my eventual birth.

Also the year of an event that would forever change music. 

In 1990, Frank Sinatra celebrated his 75th birthday. And what better a way to celebrate than a national tour? I guess it just comes with being as classy a fellow as Sinatra. He was also awarded the 2nd Ella Award by the Society of Singers, based in Los Angeles.

Things were looking up for the singer. The mayor of Hoboken said about the singer "No other singer has sung, swung, crooned and serenaded into the hearts of young and old as this consummate artist from Hoboken". He made a surprise return to Capitol Records and the studio for his 1993 album "Duets" which was released in November. The artists who added their vocals to the album worked for free, and recorded with him a follow-up album "Duets II" which was released in 1994, and hit #8 on Billboard.

Still touring despite his various health problems-- Uh oh...

Ladies... gentlemen... Here's where we hit a bump in the story.

Sinatra remained the biggest global act during the first half of the '90s. But, during numerous concerts, Sinatra completely lost his memory, and a fall onstage in Virginia in 1994 signified further problems.

This is where we start going further downhill.

His final public appearance took place in December 1994 in Japan's Fukuoka Dome.

On February 25th, 1995, he played to a private party of about 1200 on the closing night of the Frank Sinatra Desert Golf tour. This would be his very last performance. "Esquire" did report however, that Sinatra was "clear, tough, on the money and in absolute control". His closing song was "The Best is Yet to Come" from "It Might As Well Be Swing".

Skip ahead about 2 years. Folks, our story is nearing an end. I thank you for your patience.

1997... This is the year where things were winding down for our main character. In January, he suffered his first heart attack. In the few following months, he made no further public appearances due to his health, and developed/developing senile dementia. This went on for some time...


Frank Sinatra died at 10:50 PM, on May 14th, 1998, with his wife Barbara by his side. He was in good hands at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles California.

His final words were... "I'm losing..."

This world ain't the same since you left.

Rest in peace, Ol' Blue Eyes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Band 4: Frank Sinatra, Part 1 of 2.

Ol' Frankie... You've lead quite a life, haven't you? A career spanning 60 years, recording a total of 272 songs between 1952 and 1963, not including the 5 albums done between 1940-1942, singing for Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. I personally have no clue how many songs or albums he did before he became famous. Sorry for the letdown, folks.

There's a lot to cover, so please forgive me if I miss anything.

Born to Italian immigrants Natalie Della and Antonio Martino Sinatra in 1915, Francis grew up in Hoboken, NJ. 47 days after starting high school, he was expelled for "rowdy conduct" (pfft), and singing loudly when not supposed to. I find it funny how that insinuates there was a time in school with the sole purpose of loud singing.

Growing up in the great depression, his mother always had steady pocket cash for outings, whether they be with friends or family, and could even afford fancy clothes. This was probably because she ran an illegal abortion clinic out of their house, a crime for which she was arrested several times, and convicted twice.

Onto his career, his very first record was released in July of 1939, singing for the Harry James band. His one year contract payed $75 a week. The album, titled "From The Bottom of My Heart", sold only 8,000 copies, making it a hard/rare find for collectors. And in November of that year, he was asked by none other than Tommy Dorsey himself to replace Jack Leonard. This meeting sent his career sky-high, being signed with one of the hottest bands of the time.

They made their first public appearance in Illinois in 1940, and in their first year of recording, they already released over 40 songs, with "I'll Never Smile Again" topping the charts for 12 weeks. Personally, I liked "Whispering" and "The Sky Fell Down" better.

Jump ahead 10 years, to 1950. With the rebirth of his career, having stalled in 1948. This revival was brought on by co-starring in a film titled "From Here to Eternity" in 1953, a movie for which he won the Academy Award for "Best Supporting Actor". In the time of 1950 to 1960, Sinatra starred in a 25 episode radio series "Rocky Fortune", signed to Capitol Records, reinventing himself, and showing a darker, more emotional side in the 6 albums released that year,  "Swing Easy!" in 1954, "In The Wee Small Hours", in 1955, "Songs for Swingin' Lovers", in 1956, "Where Are You?" and "Come Fly With Me", both released in 1957. "Swing Easy" was named Album of The Year upon its release.

Jump ahead another 10 years to 1970. In the decade, Sinatra grew tired of Capitol records, and started his own record label, Reprise Records. His first album in the label, "Ring-A-Ding-Ding" became a widely known success, peaking at #4 on Billboard charts. On September 11th and 12th of 1961, he recorded his final songs for Capitol Records, ending his contract. He starred in the original movie Ocean's 11, starring Frankie himself, Sammy Davis Junior, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The feature film will forever be known as the original screen outing of the Rat Pack.

And on that note, I bid you farewell, and I'll write and post Part 2 tomorrow evening. Goodnight, everybody.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Band 3: The Fray

Welcome back to my blog. I thank you for the visit. 

Over the last few months, I've fallen completely in love with The Fray. The alt. rock band that formed in Colorado in 2002 by 2 old schoolmates. Now, you may be asking yourselves, "Who were these fine young gents?". Well, internet, I've got some superb facts to lay on you.
The 2 that originally formed the group were pianist/vocalist Isaac Slade and guitarist Joe King. The men in question reconnected after high school, and started regular jam sessions. The 2 began writing songs, and soon added drummer Zach Johnson, and bassists Caleb Slade, the younger brother of Isaac.

As goes with younger brothers, Caleb was soon asked to leave the band. This caused some ripples in the brothers' relationship which inspired their song "Over My Head (Cable Car)", one of my personal favorites. Around the same time, Zach Johnson resigned his position in the band to attend art school in New York. 
Ben Wysocki, who was once in a band with Slade, joined the band as their drummer, while Dave Welsh, another ex-band mate of Slade and Wysocki, joined as lead guitarist. The band, with their new members named themselves "The Fray". 

Within the first year or 2 of their band being fully formed, they released their 2 EP's, "Movement", and "Reason". 'Westord', an alternative weekly distributed newspaper gave them this review for the "Reason" EP. "The music is epic, no doubt, but it's played on a wholly human scale". I could not agree with this statement further. 

In December of 2004, Epic Records, having discovered the band through their review in 'Westword', signed The Fray to the label. Their first album "How to Save A Life" was released September 15th, 2005, and the first single "Over My Head (Cable Car) hit the Modern Rock Tracks chart, coming out at #37. Fourteen weeks later, it reached #8 on the Hot 100 chart. The unofficial single "How to Save A Life", mere weeks after being used in an advertising promotion for the season premier of Gray's Anatomy, their second Top 40 Hit rolled into #3 on the Hot 100 charts.

I'm going to try and pull this to a close so I can get to why I love them so.
Their 2nd album, "The Fray", was released in February of 2009. The lead single "You Found Me" debuted at #28 on the Hot 100 chart, marking their highest debut chart hit. It later peaked at #7. The other singles included Never Say Never, which peaked at #32, while Syndicate never made any notable success in the U.S.

Now, why do I love them? 

First off, having piano as a lead instrument of a rock band is something new with modern music. It's astounding, really. Take the song Hundred from their first album for example. It's a song containing only piano and vocals, but it's so much more than that. The beauty is literally audible. The piano presents to you a line of chords, traveling/slowing down. It has a classical sounds with the modern feel that makes it their own. 

The piano plays a line, repeats the beginning, and brings itself back up again, with a somewhat depressing feel to it, though it's beauty is as apparent as ever. The music fades into silence... soon followed by a deep breath. 

"The how, I can't recall. Now I'm staring at what was once the world... I separated east from west. Now they meet amidst the broad daylight", he sings with a voice that holds power, yet it holds the entire man. I really hated how cliche that sounded, but I couldn't think of a better phrasing for the life of me. 

All of the rest of this album is simply amazing. I really recommend you get your hands on it, by any means.

This post took me at least 3 hours to write. Just passing through pages of research, and facebookery, and television.

Thanks for popping by.

Band 2: Green River

So, I live in Seattle, Washington, where a lot of my favorite bands come from. I do like a wide variety of music, though, so don't expect to throw your computer into the pit whenever you visit.

I don't know too much about these guys, but I do love them.

Alright, tonight's second post is on Green River, if you couldn't tell already. They formed in Seattle in 1984, them being Mark Arm on lead vocals and guitar, Steve Turner, also on guitar, Alex Vincent on drums, and bassist Jeff Ament, who would later become a part of Temple of The Dog (Maybe next post?) and then Pearl Jam, and Bruce Fairweather. Stone Gossard, who would also later become part of Temple of The Dog and Pearl Jam, joined in later to play guitar so Arm could concentrate on singing.

They, like Mad Season, only released on album, given a long active career (1984-1988). The album, by the name of Dry As A Bone/Rehab Doll, a combination of their 2 EP's was released on Sub-Pop records in July of 1988(?).

If anything, constant fighting between Ament/Gossard and Arm took the spotlight over the music once recording for the Dry as A Bone EP started. Ament and Gossard wanted to pursue a major-label deal, and Arm wanted to remain independent. On Halloween night, Ament, Gossard, and Fairweather told the band that they were going to quit, but continue work on the full-length album.

While Arm and Turner recruited Matt Lukin, the bassist for The Melvins at the time, and Dan Peters, the drummer for Bundle of Hiss to form Mudhoney, Ament, Gossard and Fairweather went a different route. They joined Malfunkshun ex-vocalist Andrew Wood as a cover band named Lords of The Wasteland. They soon became Mother Love Bone. They quickly rose to popularity in Seattle, and just before their album debut in 1990, Andrew Wood suffered a fatal overdose.

That same year, Gossard and Ament joined forces with Chris Cornell, Matt Cameron and Mike McCready to form the Andrew Wood tribute band Temple of The Dog.

And that was that. Green River reunited for 4 shows in late 2008, but nothing since then. Cornell continued his work with Soundgarden after Temple of The Dog, and Gossard, Ament, Cameron, and McCready formed together with Eddie Vedder and Dave Krusen to form Pearl Jam.

I guess it kind of worked out for everybody.

Now, why are they awesome?

To me, it's that sludgy, somewhat Stooges-inspired punk rock. They were considered to be one of the very first grunge bands, and I believe it to be true.

Their raw sound, with the crunchy, epic lead guitar lines, and fast paced sewer punk, and killer vocals made them who they were. The songs I'd recommend are... well, their entire album, except maybe Ain't Nothin' to Do. Not my favorite.

Thanks for stopping by.