Results for Hard Rock
Jim gets to unleash his inner thirteen-year-old this week as he and Greg sit down with Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of the Canadian prog-rock legends Rush. All three members of Rush are known for their ridiculous virtuosity on their instruments – drum god Neil Peart, Lifeson on guitar, and Geddy Lee, who manages to play bass and synths and sing simultaneously. Lee and Lifeson met in junior high in Ontario and released a couple hard rock albums with drummer John Rutsey in the early '70s. But the band really hit its stride when Rutsey was replaced by Neil Peart, who also became the primary lyricist. They began crafting epic progressive rock concept albums like 2112 and Hemispheres featuring side-length sci-fi suites. The albums Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures brought Rush radio hits in the early '80s, and the band moved into a synth-driven phase. Over the ensuing decades, Rush has continued to evolve its sound and adapt to new styles, while growing a cult fanbase that is intense to say the least. The band just celebrated its 40th anniversary with a tour and live album called R40 Live. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson discuss the band's evolving styles, the existence of female Rush fans, and whether the band will continue.Go to episode 535
Many fans know Tom Morello through his electric guitar innovations in Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. So it was a surprise to hear he had unplugged and donned a new guise as The Nightwatchman. The Chicago native has a new solo album out called One Man Revolution, and during a visit home he stopped by the Sound Opinions studio to show off his new incarnation. During his discussion with Jim and Greg it starts to make more sense why the famed electric guitarist would go acoustic. Tom has always been a fan of folk rockers like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. And, the one man + guitar formula lends itself to the political content Tom has always been known for.
Tom explains that he was seeking a political and musical outlet that would fulfill that side of his personality. The hard rocking side gets fulfilled by the arena rock group Audioslave. However, Tom reveals that the band might be no more. He and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell were both in Chicago at the same time, but haven't communicated in a while. Luckily friend and producer Rick Rubin encouraged Tom to branch out on his own with this record. And of course, Jim notes that the guitarist always has a political career to fall back on. Like his mother Mary Morello, Tom has always been a social activist. He also worked for Senator Alan Cranston for a number of years.
One person Tom Morello did hook up with while he was in town is fellow Rage Against the Machine member Zack de la Rocha. The Rage frontman joined Morello in a couple of protest rallies in support of low-wage immigrant farmworkers. And of course, as fans have been anticipating, the two will appear with Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk for Rage Against the Machine's first performance in seven years at this weekend's Coachella Music Festival. For a sneak preview, check out Morello's rendition of the band's song "Guerrilla Radio," as well as an exclusive bonus track.Go to episode 74
The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America
Next up is the third release from New York rock group The Hold Steady. Boys and Girls in America continues the band's streak of "bar band" music, but our hosts disagree about this record's big musical influences. Greg hears a lot of AC/DC and '70s hard rock in the songs, but Jim really only hears one thing: Bruce Springsteen. As Sound Opinions listeners know, for Jim, this is not good. He calls The Hold Steady's music“lousy,”and finds their blue-collar lyrics really put-upon. Greg doesn't think that Jim is giving head songwriter Craig Finn enough credit. He finds his storytelling smart and very believable. Boys and Girls in America gets a Trash It from Jim and a Buy It from Greg.
AC/DC Black Ice
According to Dr. North's study if you like harder rock you tend to be gentle and creative, but also suffer from low self-esteem, and a bad work ethic. On the plus side you will probably be happy to hear the next review. Classic hard-rock group AC/DC is back with a new album called Black Ice. After waiting eight years for a new release, fans are probably curious to hear what's new. The answer is not much. While they are trying out a new distribution model by making their album available only at Wal-Mart, AC/DC is not trying out a new sound. On Black Ice you‘ll still hear the band’s hallmark rhythms and riffs. Jim and Greg aren‘t disappointed though. They’ve heard this sound for over 30 years and it's still a great one. Greg just wishes their new release was as short and sharp as their former ones. He gives it a Try It, and Jim goes with a Buy It.
The Deftones Saturday Night Wrist
Next Jim and Greg review The Deftones' fifth release, Saturday Night Wrist. This Sacramento band came out of the nü metal explosion of the mid '90s. That's“nü”with the umlaut, Jim likes to point out. He feels the rap-rock genre that combines heavy metal with a DJ is played out, much like the gangsta rap genre mentioned earlier. But, he explains, The Deftones moved away from nü metal into a more inventive sound with their 2000 release White Pony. Jim witnessed their evolution first hand when he interviewed the band years ago for a Guitar World magazine interview. Now the band has hired producer Bob Ezrin, the man behind Alice Cooper's albums and Lou Reed's Berlin. Greg considers this“an interesting record in terms of tone and texture,”a“plush-sounding record”that would sound great through headphones, and he applauds the band for making such progress. Yet Greg feels the songwriting lacks substance, so he can only rate the album a Burn It. Jim disagrees and gives it a Buy It. He feels the album is for anyone interested in "hard rock that is trying to push the envelope and redefine itself."
Halloween Picks 2006
During the final segment of the show, our Halloween-loving hosts play their picks for scariest rock songs.
Greg's first choice is "Dead Souls" by Joy Division. This band didn't necessarily look scary, but they definitely have a dark history. Lead singer Ian Curtis suffered from epilepsy and would often have seizures onstage. He committed suicide in 1980, cementing the band's tortured image.
Greg's second song is Johnny Cash's cover of "The Mercy Seat" by Nick Cave. Cave is often associated with the Goth movement, but Cash is not someone you usually think of on a spooky Halloween night. This song fits perfectly into Cash's repertoire. It tells the story of a death row inmate on the last night of his life. Benmont Tensch's backing music in particular lends a haunting feel.
Jim wanted to illustrate Goth's influence on other genres with his first pick. The group Bloodrock is composed of your average hard-rock“buffoons,”according to Jim, but Jim can't think of anything more gothic than the subject of their song "D.O.A." It tells the tale of a car crash victim on his way to the other side (and it sounds like the bad side).
Jim's final track is by Susan Janet Dallion, otherwise known as Siouxsie Sioux. Siouxsie emerged out of the Bromley punk scene to join the Banshees and form her own distinctive sound. Her look and her sound solidified the singer as female Goth icon. The Beatles' song "Dear Prudence" isn‘t particularly scary, but Siouxie’s menacing vocals give it an ominous tone. In this rendition, Jim imagines that Prudence's fate is not unlike that of most horror film heroines.Go to episode 47
This week Apple CEO Steve Jobs called on the music industry to start selling songs without copy protection software, or DRM. Right now, music purchased digitally may not be compatible with all music players. And, in an open letter, Jobs explained that this kind of protection is not only a challenge for the consumer, but doesn‘t actually thwart piracy. Jim and Greg never expected to hear this kind of statement being made by a major corporate head, but they wonder what his motivation is. It’s unlikely that the labels will actually follow Jobs‘ advice; more likely they’ll all agree to use the iTunes format.
Target entered the music business this week. In an attempt to cash in on a vital demographic, the retail corporation has started a music label geared at“adult”consumers. While much of the music industry is going digital, there are still older music fans who want to buy CDs. With a roster that includes artists like David Cassidy, Kenny Loggins, and Kris Kristofferson, Jim recommends Target set up kiosks in local nursing homes.
Another slick business move is being made by the "Prince of Darkness." Ozzy Osbourne and wife/impresario Sharon Osbourne announced that tickets for this summer's Ozzfest will be given away for free. Instead of relying on ticket sales, they plan on making up costs through the sale of concessions and on-site advertising. Ozzy will headline the tour, which is in its 12th year of bringing hard rock and heavy metal across the nation, but it doesn't appear that any other big names are on the lineup. Jim and Greg suspect that the Osbournes plan to book smaller acts that warrant a ticket price of $0. But they are all in favor of such a creative business move, especially in an industry that desperately needs a new paradigm.Go to episode 63
Hard rock gods Led Zeppelin announced its surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones will perform live for one night only at England's 02 arena. The missing John Bonham drum slot will be filled by his son Jason Bonham. This event is all for charity. It's in honor of the late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegün. All proceeds will go towards the Ahmet Ertegün Education Fund. Robert Plant's altruism and high regard for Mr. Ertegün must be quite substantial considering he had this harsh thing to say back in 2002 about the band reuniting. Jim points out that nowadays no band ever stays broken up and predicts that once the band finishes this gig, they'll launch a world tour. Zep heads everywhere are crossing their fingers.
"Amateur" singer-songwriter Marié Digby rose to pop success this summer from her“DIY”video of her covering Rihanna's "Umbrella" on acoustic guitar. The video has been viewed 2.3 million times and launched her into US radio and iTunes success. It turns out her entire“amateur”marketing campaign was orchestrated by the not-so-amateur Hollywood Records. The Disney owned Hollywood Records signed Digby back in 2005 — well before she/the machine posted her YouTube video. The fact the she was on a major label was kept hidden until only very recently. Greg points out how this shows you how much a sham the major labels have become when Digby herself states she didn't think people would like her if they knew she was on a major label. Greg feels now that the artifice is exposed, her 15 minutes are over.
Pioneering jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul died recently at the age of 75. Zawinul was one of the founding members of the 1970s jazz fusion band The Weather Report. According to Jim and Greg, the band was the pinnacle of the jazz fusion sound, a melding of rock ‘n’ roll and jazz. Zawinul introduced the synthesizer and electronic instrumentation to jazz. He helped pioneer the jazz fusion genre with Miles Davis on Davis's In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Jim and Greg also ask listeners not to blame Zawinul and Davis for where the jazz/rock fusion led to. As a tribute to Joe Zawinul, Jim and Greg play The Weather Report's most iconic song, "Birdland."Go to episode 94
AC/DC is following in the path of Garth Brooks, The Eagles and Journey. The veteran hard rock band inked a deal to sell its forthcoming album exclusively at Wal-Mart. This formula has been successful for bands in the past; The Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden sold almost 3 million copies, all without the help of a record company. But, AC/DC is still on Columbia Records, which makes Jim and Greg wonder about their motivation. They'll be curious to see how the profits break down between the band, their label and the retail store when the album is released this fall.
The latest in the line to follow the Radiohead record release model is Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis. The sample-based artist and former Sound Opinions guest is following up his underground hit Night Ripper with a new album due out soon. Like In Rainbows, Feed the Animals will be a pay-what-you-want release. But the real question is if Girl Talk will have to pay. The new album will have over 300 samples — none of which Gillis legally obtained. As more fans take notice of his work it's possible more lawyers will as well.
The godfather of soul passed away two years ago, but James Brown left behind a treasure trove of his earthly goods. Many of these items will be auctioned off at Christie's later this month. Who will reap the benefits of the sale is unclear due to the chaotic state of the singer's estate. But fans can get hold of such artifacts as Brown's Grammy and Kennedy Center Awards, his baby grand piano and Hammond organ, as well as personal notes and photos. Jim and Greg are most interested in all his grooming products though. Just imagine the hair magic Greg could produce with Brown's pick.Go to episode 133
If you were one of the unfortunate few to tune in to last week's Golden Globes“ceremony”then you know first hand how the Writer's Guild strike can affect awards season. Now it appears the Grammy Awards might be next to fall. The Recording Academy is seeking an interim agreement from the WGA to insure that the Feb. 10th awards broadcast will go off without a hitch. While they have gotten support from other industry unions, a WGA spokesperson didn't recommend betting on a waiver. Jim, for one, would welcome a trimmed down Grammy Awards. But, Greg doesn't think that audiences will tune in without the promise of star power. The one upside — perhaps this year the Grammys will actually be about music.
By next year Live Nation will not only have severed ties with Ticketmaster, but become its biggest competition. The concert promoters, turned music moguls, announced plans to launch their own ticketing company. Therefore, they'll have their hands in every aspect of the music industry: production, marketing and sales of both albums and concert tickets. According to Jim and Greg, this brings up a lot of ethical issues that make them question how the consumer will be served. Ticketmaster is also blurring the lines of business; the company made its own announcement regarding the purchase of TicketsNow. That website is the second-largest site in the secondary-ticket market behind StubHub. Ticketmaster has been criticizing these kinds of brokers for years, but…if you can‘t beat ’em, join ‘em. As Jim and Greg explain, now there isn’t a lot stopping Ticketmaster from withholding a large quantity of tickets from the first round of sales, only to jack up the prices and make a huge profit the second time around.
The other big area of competition is turning out to be the summer concert festivals. The concert promoters behind Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California are headed east to set up shop in New Jersey. The Liberty State Park event will be held on August 8-10 — the same exact dates as the Vineland Music Festival. That event is being put on by the promoters behind Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Can New Jersey handle two 3-day concert festivals with a similarly diverse bill of hundreds of bands? Jim and Greg think no. The stage is set for“a blood bath”between the two corporate giants, but the real victims are probably going to be music fans.
From the concert wars to the real war… In an effort to boost morale, the U.S. Army has put out a request for a“professional rock band.”Following suit with the National Guard, who used 3 Doors Down to help them recruit moviegoers, the Army is looking to get a little more rock and roll. Or rather, Southern Rock, Pop Rock, Post-Grunge or Hard Rock. If you play these genres of music and are some kind of celebrity, national or local, and also don't mind suiting up in kevlar and being shipped off to Kuwait or Afghanistan, then submit your“proposal”today. Sound Opinions H.Q. can think of a few music celebs they'd nominate to be shipped off.
Next up Jim and Greg warn you to get ready for a full-blown Michael Jackson revival. That's right, the man who many of us reduced to an E! True Hollywood Story may actually return to being an important music figure. A 25th anniversary edition of Thriller is scheduled for release next month, and Jermaine Jackson has said that his brother will be joining the rest of the Jackson 5 for a reunion tour later this year. But kicking the revival off is rapper Rhymefest, who just posted a free download of The Michael Jackson Dedication Album on his website. The album was produced entirely with Jackson song samples, as well as inventive skits featuring the rapper and his pop idol. Jim and Greg both recommend listeners check the album out, with Greg adding that it's the best thing Michael Jackson has had his name on in two decades. Rhymefest fans should also check out his appearance on the show.Go to episode 112