Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review - Them Crooked Vultures

Rating: 8.0

Note: I posted this review some time ago but accidentally saved the recent Animal Collective review over it. Whoops.

As a concept Them Crooked Vultures seems hard to fault - the group's star-studded roster ought to give rock fans some pause at the very least, bringing together Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), David Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and, most compellingly, veteran Led Zeppelin bard John Paul Jones, by more than a quarter of a century the band's undisputed veteran. A snarkier critic might wonder aloud if Jack White was busy, though a) he probably was, b) he really wouldn't fit in this band and c) musicians of this caliber are probably sick of upstart critics cracking jokes on laptops on their way over to the cupboard for more Cookie Crisp anyway.

On paper the band's formula is still pretty thrilling, with TCV mostly carrying over the Queens of the Stone Age sound and aesthetic (honestly, with Homme on vocals and axe this is hardly surprising). The band plays with the unity and grace of decorated musicians who have had four years to accustom to each other, carving together meticulous, angular riffage, the nihilistic stuff the kids and other people with taste enjoy. Reading like a continuation of the Queens' final record Era Vulgaris and the less manic rock of QOTSA's and frankly even Kyuss's previous albums, this disc and this band capture more than an hour of the sort of nihilistic, pounding, tight sounds that made rock great without sounding like a hodgepodge of the personalities involved.

The Zeppelin connection actually comes mostly in hindsight; with Jones in the mix it's pretty clear that both Hommes' work and Grohl's owes a great debt to the ground blazed by the band that essentially laid the ground for metal, grunge and "stoner" rock to exist in the first place.

And Them Crooked Vultures, as an album, is as meticulously crafted and thematically consistent as any album you're likely to hear from a supergroup this year (and you can quote me). This album is more about the sound (which is topnotch) than any mood or message - if you don't require your music to be emotionally relevant to be a keeper, knock this score up a point or so.

---Dustin Steinacker

[mp3] Them Crooked Vultures - "Gunman"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review - Animal Collective: Fall Be Kind EP

Rating: 6.8

Animal Collective has never cared for much beyond sharing the unadulterated joy of creating music. Their fans can be thankful for this and their proliferation, having released eight full albums since their 2000 debut as well as four EPs, while earning their place in the upper echelons of music. Not many bands get mentioned in the same breath as Radiohead, or with the same reverence.

The band's last EP Water Curses seemed like something of a companion to 2007's acclaimed Strawberry Jam, showing a band at the same strange high just a few short months later, but with the looser compositional standards that an EP provides. Likewise, with its gentler sound and demeanor, still eccentric but lacking roughness, it's easy to compare this record with the band's Merriweather Post Pavilion, released earlier this year.

Earlier records from this band were defined by their incorporation of ostensibly hellish sounds and extreme dissonance into a wonky world music/pop formula without compromising the benevolent feel of the music. MPP, on the other hand discarded tactile dissonance almost entirely, relying more on classical musical styles of dissonant build-up and resolution for its effect. Like all Collective releases, the recorded succeeded on the strength of its textural strength and melody, though some of the color was gone.

Fall Be Kind clearly follows this pattern, giving the band a playground to sate its tendencies toward drone, occasional mid-song shifts and cacophonous displays of drum and vocals that seem to beat most chamber pop at its own game while remaining delightfully unconventional. Unfortunately, without the rigid construction, and the wonder of unpredictable musical violence Animal Collective has offered on all of their releases, Fall Be Kind comes off only a little bland and unmemorable. It isn't that the music isn't topnotch, for the most part, but that this style has already been done on Merriweather Post Pavilion and more effectively; for every nice instrument blast or vocal harmony that excites me, I can't help but think of a moment on the previous LP that pulled off the same maneuver just as memorably.

In a vacuum Fall Be Kind would be impossible not to recommend.

---Dustin Steinacker

Time Capsule: Serart

Serart (2003)

It's easy to like world music, but often difficult to get really enthusiastic about it. It's a given that music in foreign tongues and tones helps us to build a kinship with the human race and makes us feel cultured to boot. But it's difficult to deny the perspective barrier between an artist a hemisphere away and the listener picking up her LP on a whim. Ergo, the the thrill of exploring new cultures and sounds often subsides long before you take the disc back to the library.

But Serart is folk music unlike any other, a collaboration between famed Armenian musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan and fully half of the members of System of a Down. Despite what you may expect given this description, it's legitimately soulful and contemplative, incorporating some traditional elements as well as some modern trappings without cheating either. Serart celebrates culture and heritage while remaining fully entertaining in its own right - it's a soulful, intelligent album, well-written and produced without being overly-glossy or feeling calculating. Arto gives the project focus without repressing Serj's natural tendencies to squawk and meander appropriately, resulting in a very forward-looking record that nevertheless expresses a mostly-shared cultural heritage without alienating the Western listener.

--Dustin Steinacker

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Three Weeks

Here's our interview with local Utah band and my personal friends, Three Weeks!

    -Where did you come up with your band name and is there some meaning behind it?
       It was a late night and we were in a silly mood.. we were talking about putting things off, and procrastinating.. our drummer at the time made the statement.. "yeah dude.. it's like three weeks til sunday..."  And we thought that's could be kind of a cool name.. so we were 3 Weeks til Sunday for several years, until we we released our album last April.. at which time we dropped the til Sunday part, and now we are just THREE WEEKS.  It's more user friendly for people announcing us and stuff.. the name got confusing for people sometimes..
- Who are some of your musical influences?
        I grew up listening to the Beatles, Eagles, Kansas, Journey.. you know the classic rock that our parents love.. so that really is the biggest influence in my writing.. trying to write songs that are catchy, and hopefully timeless.. other more modern influences would include Eve 6, Fountains of Wayne, and the Killers.
- Do you have a certain theme or feel for your current album?
     The album is called Alive Again.. and in it we deal with archetypes like  Rain, birth, resurrection... the album was produced in a time of great growth for the band, and preceded  some even bigger changes and bigger growth.  It really represents our first real steps and address to the world.
- Describe your sound/genre.
     We just call it chill rock.. it's all pretty easy to listen to..
- Who are the members of your band and their roles?
      Bryce Wood- Lead singer, guitar, songwriter
      Austin Wood- Keys, guitar, vocals, songwriter
     Christian Hathaway- Bass, vocals
     Kent Scott- drums, vocals
     We also have a full tech team that runs our light and sound headed up by Mark Lusk, Joseph Ditton, and Stuart Olsen
- What would you like to accomplish or achieve with your music?
     Show the world that there is more to listen to than just hip hop.. that music really can mean something again.  I look back at the songs that have had an impact on my life, and it's those songs by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle that high school kids are showing to their teachers saying.. "Listen to this new band!  They have this awesome new song called Sounds of Silence!"  I want to help people rediscover the real magic of music.
- What is your creative process like?
     I do most of my composing with my brother Austin.. Some songs almost write themselves, while others have to ripen on the vine.  I get a lot of my ideas in the shower of all places:)  Usually one of us will have a concept for a song, and we get together, and just hammer it out.
- What instruments do you use (technical specs for the nerds)?  
     I play a Talman thin body electric acoustic, and I also play a squire telecaster.  Our keyboard is a Yamaha.. nothing fancy, our bass is a Fender vintage precision bass, and our drum kit is a pearl with zxt symbols.  I sing into a sure beta 58 mic, the back up vocals run on pg 48 mics, and our system is a combination of behringer, peavy, and crown boards and amps, with Kustom speakers.
- If you could work with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Paul Mcartney!
- What's on your MP3 player currently?
     I actually don't have one!  I'm still in the stone age!
- Any upcoming concert events or releases?
     We will be doing a concert on Dec 4th up Utah State University Campus.. cost is $5.00 at the door, and all public is welcome
- Any final thoughts, shoutouts, tips or words of advice?
     Never be afraid to pursue your dreams.. I started writing music because I wanted to do a band, but wasn't good at playing covers.. it's amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.  Do it for the love of it.
     Please check out our website, and find us on facebook.. we do have a fan page for the band, or add me personally.  We have a lot of videos from past shows and stuff.  If you want us to come play just email me or facebook me!  Thanks much!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nate & his Kite

 Read on for our Q&A session with band, Nate & his Kite, an experimental rock band from Indiana.

-Nate & His Kite, very quirky but it leaves me wondering...who is this Nate and what about his kite?  Where did you come up with your band name and is there some meaning behind it?
The name “Nate & His Kite” probably has an even more quirky story.  During the spring of 2005 the majority of our band was attending college together.  Our good friend Nathaniel spent day after day ditching class and flying his kite.  It was the free spirited attitude of this that seemed to parallel the music we were making.  In 2008 Nathaniel joined our band after playing trombone on our album.  It just seemed right.
- Who are some of your musical influences?
I personally am influenced by everything I hear.  I really try to keep an open mind about genres and try to give everything I come across an honest listen.  The big influences for me are The Beatles, Tom Waits, Oingo Boingo, Talking Heads, The Format, Ozma, The Blood Brothers, and The Mars Volta.  As a whole we listen to a wide variety of things including The Beach Boys, RX Bandits, Horse the Band, and a wide range of hip hop and R&B artists. We also pull a lot from classical, jazz, and world music
- Do you have a certain theme or feel for your current album?
The idea of being isolated was a really big concept lyrically.  We tried to give each song a different perspective on that.  Musically, we focused on applying the right kind of genre to fit the mood of what we were trying to say.  It was a bit like working on a massive jigsaw puzzle, trying to find that one piece that fit in just the right place to get point across and have everything still feel like a complete song.
- Describe your sound/genre.
It’s sort of a giant collage of the music we’re influenced by.  We jump around with styles a lot and really try to make sure each song is fun but has substance.
- Who are the members of your band and their roles?
Collin Magdziarz: Lead vocals, keyboard, guitar
Robert Herrold: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Clifford Evans: Bass Guitar, Vocals
Nathaniel Ertel: Trombone, Keyboard, Various Instruments
Josiah Greatens: Drums, Vocals
- What would you like to accomplish or achieve with your music?
We really want everyone to have a good time listening to our music and take something substantial away from it.
- What is your creative process like?
Usually, a song begins with a simple idea, a few bars, a melody, or some sort of storyline or topic one of us feels strongly about.  We all have a great deal of input into the writing so it truly is a collaborative process.
- What instruments do you use (technical specs for the nerds)?
Collin: Guitar: Gibson Les Paul Standard Double Cutaway with the capacitor cut out. Amplifier: Vox AC30CC2
Robert: Guitar: Fender Stratocaster Amplifier: Vox Valvetronix
Clifford: Bass Guitar: Ibanez 5 string Amplifier: Crate
Nathaniel: Blessing Trombone, various instruments
Josiah Greatens: Mapex Drums, Sabian Cymbals
we also use a korg microkorg, casio privia, and propellerhead reason for live shows.
- If you could work with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I suppose I would have to say Tom Waits and Danny Elfman.
- What's on your MP3 player currently?
I have way too much music on my iPod to list but I have been listening to the new Fun. album endlessly.
- Any upcoming concert events or releases?
We’re playing The Elbo Room in Chicago, IL on November 15.  We’ve just started booking for winter and spring of next year so there should be a number of things coming up soon.
- Any final thoughts, shoutouts, tips or words of advice?
It’s very important to keep an open mind about music and art.  There are wonderful things beneath the surface that make you think and feel new things if you just give them a chance.

For more information or streaming music please visit

The album Nate & His Kite and the Articifical Scenery is available now on iTunes.

Kill The Drama

Here we have an interview with Steve of the Alt. Rock band Kill The Drama. Enjoy!

-Kill the Drama, easily words to live by.  Where did you come up with your band name and is there some meaning behind it?
Back when we started, we had a female lead singer who created some serious drama within the band so I suggested we call the band something with "drama" in it. A few days later our bassist at the time, Skinny, was traveling with Adam from the band "Triggers" on a roadtrip. He called me and suggested "Kill the Drama". At first, we were a little skeptical because it made us sound like a metal band, but at the time the Killers were just coming out, and they were Indie rock / alternative so we went with it.
- Who are some of your musical influences?
This is a loaded question since we all have so many. Bryan loves bands like Coheed, Zeppelin, Deftones, Floyd, and is really inspired by great guitarists like Randy Roads and David Gilmour. He also pulls from musical theatre for his vocals as he was classically trained in that capacity. I bring a riff inspired style and some of my favorites are Tool, Placebo, Failure and Muse and I also pull great inspiration from Tom Morello and the Edge among others. Jason's real into drumming from the 90's like Dave Abruzesse from Pearl Jam and Jeremy Taggart from Our Lady Peace. He also told me he first wanted to be a drummer from watching Dave Grohl with Nirvana and that probably has a lot to do with his energetic style. Mars brings an element of Janes Addiction and Perfect Circle style basslines that can give the bands direction more of a haunting quality and groove. When you throw all of that together and more it gives us the KTD sound.
- Do you have a certain theme or feel for your current album?
Lyrically "Close Friends with Sharp Knives" is a reflection of different times in our lives. I think it captures love, death, hope, rebellion, the human spirit, betrayal,  and the grind of trying to achieve success rather well. There's also a bit of humor mixed in at times and some flat out interpretive art for the listener. Musically, the songs run the gamut from aggressive to passive, poppy to pure dynamic rock. Its not a mess though without direction. Every song had a purpose and fits on the album I think. Its the foundation of emotional-type rock the music we've been writing the last year or so.
- Describe your sound/genre.
Eurosex rock is what someone called it. I guess because of the romatic European quality to the vocals and music at times but at the same time having a sort of sexual energy to it. We've also been called arena rock because of the big riffs and grandiose elements we have in our songs. I wish we could play a full arena to see if it would carry the energy through the crowd like how we intended it to.
- Who are the members of your band and their roles?
Bryan - Vox / Guitar
Steve - Guitar / Vox
Mars - Bass
Jason - Drums / loops
- What would you like to accomplish or achieve with your music?
To continue to make real honest music and to do it for a real living where we can focus all our time and energy into it. Right now we work efficiently with the time we have and do a pretty good job of balancing creating music with recording and the lvie shows. I wish we could find someone who can take Kill the Drama to the next level. Maybe we finally can try that Arena rock thing someday?
- What is your creative process like?
Sometimes it starts with a guitar idea or bass idea that we come up with before hand and present it to the band. Other times things just kinda happen at practice. Its hard to say. Vocals usually come next where Bry writes the lyrics and sometimes pulls some ideas from a bunch of non-sensical lyric ideas I send to him. That's the real genius he has. He know what words sound good coming out of his voice and knows how to phrase them to work with the music. He's also great at writing a vocal melody which really brings the song along in the process. After we get a good start, we add a bridge or an ending. Sometimes we kinda just pull it together on the fly. The good thing is each song is different and has its own story.
- What instruments do you use (technical specs for the nerds)?
We've been experimenting with some different instruments lately. I think that you can say Bryan is a Les Paul  and Marshall guy and I'm all Strat and Hughes and Kettner Tri-amp for my thick tone. The sounds between Bry and I blend super well. Jason was on Ayote and still uses their Kepplinger snare. Mars changes gear quite often. The constant is his GK heads and cabs.
- If you could jam with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I'd say Tom Morello from Rage. I'm known for pulling solid riffs off the top of my head and would love to throw riffs back and forth with him. Would be incredible. I'd also like to see Bryan jam with Queen personally. He has the tone and range to basically sing whatever or however he wants. I think he could crush some Queen songs
- What's on your MP3 player currently?
So many different things. Listening to Vampire Weekend right now which is a bit odd for me. I've also been listening to "Around the Fur" by Deftones when I work out mixed with Weezer and Phantom of the Opera at times. My MP3 player is a real eclectic mess right now. You should hear it on shuffle
- Any upcoming concert events or releases?
We just recorded a video for our song "Sunshine". See it at or . We'll be recording soon. We have about 14 songs right now and a handful of others to finish writing. I honestly have no idea when that will be done. Hopefully by early 2010.
- Any final thoughts, shoutouts, tips or words of advice?
Next time you drink a red bull and vodka, think of us.

For more information, streaming music and videos please visit: