1. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (2)
2. UNWIND – John Defeo (3)
3. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (1)
4. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (4) 41st week on chart
5. SUCH A SIMPLE THING – Ray LaMontagne (6)
6. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (5)
7. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (9)
8. COLORS – Beck (11)
9. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (12)
10. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab for Cutie (20)
11. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (7)
12. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (13)
13. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (14)
14. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr (16)
15. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (17)
16. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (8)
17. BROKEN – lovelytheband (10) 23rd week on chart
18. KAMIKAZE – WALK THE MOON (19)
19. JUMPSUIT – twenty one pilots (N)
20. BLOOM – Troye Sivan (23)
21. GIVE YOURSELF A TRY – The 1975 (24)
22. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson (28)
23. FLAWLESS – Dorothy (29)
24. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (15)
25. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE (N)
26. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (18)
27. TRANSITION – The Winachi Tribe (30)
28. FEVER PITCH – Rainbow Kitten Surprise (N)
29. LIVING IN THE FUTURE – Dawes (N)
30. LASH OUT – Alice Merton (N)
Anna Mitchell is a singer/songwriter based in Cork, Ireland, and she’s released an astonishingly beautiful album. Her self-titled Anna Mitchell dropped in January, and it’s as close to perfection as any recent album I’ve heard. This is Anna’s second studio album, which follows her 2015 debut effort Down to the Bone. With a lot of albums, it can take a couple of listens for the music to grow on me, but with Anna Mitchell I was blown away the moment I heard it. Each new track was a revelation, leading me to quickly recognize that here was an exceptional work of musical art.
Drawing inspiration from some of the best singers and songwriters in music – including Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Ray LaMontagne, Stevie Nicks, Tim O’ Brien, Bob Dylan, Shawn Colvin and Gillian Welch – Anna melds folk, country, Americana, rock’n’roll, pop and blues influences to create exquisite songs that speak to oft-covered subjects of love and relationships, and the joy and pain they bring. Her strong, clear vocals could easily go toe to toe with many of the aforementioned singers. The album was recorded independently, with musical assistance from well known Irish musicians Davie Ryan on drums, Brian Hassett on bass and Alan Comerford on guitar. It was engineered and co-produced by Brendan Fennessy.
Anna Mitchell opens with the gorgeous ballad “All These Things.” Anna immediately casts us under her spell with captivating vocals that seem to float and soar above layers of stunning, richly-textured guitars and a humming bass line. Davie Ryan provides just the right amount of percussion, and the lush horns add a jazzy flourish later in the track. The song’s unusual video is extraordinary:
Anna dials up the tempo on “It Pours,” a great pop-rock song with the kind of strong driving beat that I love. The bluesy guitars are terrific, and Anna’s sultry vocals turn passionate as she admonishes one to stop whining and start living: “Hold your tongue, hold your tongue, I’m not listening. You’re not the only one with sadness or sin. I feel the weight of the world creepin’ in. And if you don’t start kicking you won’t stop sinking. It pours outta you, outta you.” The trippy video shows blacklit images of faces painted with phosphorescent colors in the dark.
“Radio Waves” is a lovely but bittersweet Country-rock song with slide guitar, piano and organ as the primary instruments. Anna earnestly sings of escaping from life’s troubles through music: “Radio waves, audio slave, turn me up ’cause I’m down.” On “Never Learn,” Anna’s smooth vocals are accompanied by a bewitching piano melody as she tells someone their broken relationship is beyond repair: “You can waste your time, but keep your hands off mine. Past the point of no return.” Staying with that theme, on the Country-rock track “Get Out” Anna tells a man in no uncertain terms that she’s through with him: “It would be nice to stop and chat, but I don’t like you. Well they say that you’re a really good catch, but I don’t want you / Do you just feel like a man when you shout? Oh, get out! Just get out!”
One of my favorite songs is the rousing foot-stomper “Dog Track.” Thanks to heavy, distorted electric guitar, buzzing bass and pounding drum beat, the track’s harder and edgier than the others. And like the music, Anna’s echoed vocals are more aggressive as she snarls the lyrics about a guy she finds attractive who’s also bad news: “Is that a wolf howlin’ or is it just the wind?Well I met him down at the dog track. He was walking around like he was on the attack.”
Here’s an electrifying live performance of “Dog Track” with the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra.
Anna’s impressive songwriting talents are showcased on the melodically complex “Better Life.” The mysterious and powerful song features a strong bass line overlain with tremolo-heavy guitars and an array of instruments, including piano, slide guitar, organ, violin, and drums. “Slice of the Pie” is a call for respect for the working class in their struggle to make a living: “You don’t judge a man, just by the way he found to feed his children. Everybody wants a slice of the pie. They’re just like you and I, trying to get by.” The album closes with Anna acknowledging she was wrong, asking her man to “Come Home.” She teases: “I like your bedside manner / Come home, when you coming back to me?”
Anna Mitchell is a phenomenal album that needs to be heard by as many ears as possible. I’m so glad Anna reached out to me, and I’m thrilled to do what I can help promote her and her incredible music.
Those of you in Ireland can see Anna and her band at one of these upcoming shows:
Saturday, February 10 Levi’s Corner House, Ballydehob 8 PM Friday, February 16 Whelan’s, Dublin 8 PM Sunday, February 18 John Cleer’s Bar & Theatre, Kilkenny 8 PM
1. WITHOUT YOU – Disciples of Babylon (1)
2. KINKY – Oli Barton & the Movement (3)
3. ONE FOOT – WALK THE MOON (5)
4. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (2)
5. I LOVE YOU BUT I’M LOST – Tears For Fears (4)
6. LIVE IN THE MOMENT – Portugal.The Man (11)
7. RX(MEDICATE) – Theory of a Deadman (10)
8. ANGELA – The Lumineers (12)
9. NO ROOTS – Alice Merton (13)
10. SOBER UP – AJR ft. Rivers Cuomo (14)
11. LOVING YOU IS SO EASY – Wide Eyed Boy (6) 19th week on list
12. LAY ME DOWN – Candid (8)
13. DEVIL IN THE DETAILS – VERIS (9)
14. THE SKY IS A NEIGHBORHOOD – Foo Fighters (7)
15. I ONLY LIE WHEN I LOVE YOU – Royal Blood (17)
16. PASSION – AWOLNATION (18)
17. SAFARI SONG – Greta Van Fleet (20)
18. HIGHWAY TUNE – Greta Van Fleet (15)
19. SO TIED UP – Cold War Kids, Bishop Briggs (16) 19th week on list
20. SCARY LOVE – The Neighbourhood (N)
The long-awaited and highly anticipated release of the new Disciples of Babylon (DOB) album The Rise and Fall of Babylon is finally here, and it’s a revelation. I’ve been following the Los Angeles-based rock band since 2015, and it’s been a pleasure watching them grow both musically and professionally. They’ve been gathering national and worldwide acclaim and a rapidly growing base of loyal fans, not only because of their exceptional, dynamic sound and thought-provoking lyrics, but also their appreciation and undying support for their fans. I know I’m in good company when I say that I love this band!
All accomplished musicians in their own right, DOB are Eric Knight on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Ramón Blanco on lead guitar, Gui Bodi on bass and backing vocals, and Chris Toeller on drums. The guys have had quite a year. In June, they performed at the extreme sports event Dew Tour 2017, and on July 8, they kicked off the 2017 Gladiator MMA Championship Series with a performance at the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Sports Coliseum. Also in June, Ramón and Gui had the thrill of playing in the backup band of Luis Fonsi when he performed his monster hit “Despacito” on Conan, and then in September, Chris joined Ramón and Gui to once again play backup for Luis Fonsi’s appearance on Ellen. Doesn’t get much better than that, except for DOB themselves to one day perform on Ellen!
DOB premiered The Rise and Fall of Babylon in front of a capacity crowd on Thursday, October 5 at the legendary Viper Room on the world-famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, and they all but blew the roof off the place. The crowd reception to the new tracks was ecstatic – no surprise given the band’s exciting and charismatic stage presence. Along with all seven tracks off the new album, they also played songs from their terrific debut EP Welcome to Babylon, plus an awesome cover of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Immigrant Song.”
Here’s a video I shot of them singing their hit song “KARMA.”
The Rise and Fall of Babylon features seven powerhouse tracks, some of which speak to issues facing America today. Eric feels passionately about social justice, and has strong opinions about the current state of affairs in our country, which he took time to express Thursday night. In a previous interview, Eric explained the impetus behind the new album: “These are precarious times we live in. The Rise and Fall of Babylon signifies something that I feel has been a long time coming. Babylon, meaning the USA, is slowly spinning out of control and entering into vast turmoil. I feel we are at the beginnings of a revolution. one of which the likes we’ve never seen before. As a nation, we are no longer viewed in the regard we once were. The title reflects this shift and quite possibly a prelude of what’s to come.”
The album was produced by GRAMMY award winner and longtime DOB producer Andres Torres, one of the producers behind the Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee smash hit “Despacito.” The album was mixed by GRAMMY award winner Curt Schneider (Augustana, Richie Sambora, Joe Bonamassa), and mastered by Dave Kutch (Bruno Mars, The Strokes, Outkast, Joe Perry).
The guys get right down to business with “Freedom,” a thunderous full-frontal assault on tyranny as powerful as anything I’ve heard in a long while. Ramon lays down blistering jaw-dropping riffs as Chris hammers out a galloping beat on the drums, anchored by Gui’s pummeling bass. With a passion that borders on fury, Eric brings goosebumps as he screams the searing lyrics:
Oppress us no more We’ve waited for this day Our rights have been taken Your rule is coming to an end The faster that we rise above And we scream from our lungs Freedom! Give us freedom back! We crave freedom Yes, we stand strong
Next up is “Without You,” the album’s lead single that I reviewed upon it’s release in late July. The hard-hitting track is a defiant rebuke to someone who’s betrayed you, killing the love you once felt toward them. Brimming with awesome instrumentals, the track is an exhilarating rock song. Ramón’s guitar work is a thing of wonder, and Gui nearly blows the speakers with his crushing bass line, aided and abetted by Chris’s pounding drums.
DOB slows things down a bit on the beautiful anthem “We Are the Ones,” a hopeful clarion call for us to all come together and unite in our fight against those who try to divide us. An especially notable aspect on this track for me are the gorgeous soaring backing vocals. And speaking of vocals, Eric has a phenomenal singing voice. As I’ve already noted, he can elicit chills with power and fury, or bring us to tears with heartfelt tenderness. He does both on the fantastic, emotion-packed “Lift.” And, needless to say, the guys unleash their sonic weaponry once again with mind-blowing instrumentals.
By this point in the album, I’m practically speechless at how incredibly good it is, wondering if DOB can sustain the high quality of the songs. I’m quickly reassured within seconds of hearing “Idiosyncracies,” a pile-driver of a track about struggling to keep a failing relationship from breaking apart: “I’ll fight to keep my sanity. I really want to believe in us, in you and me. There’s harmony, yeah! But I’ll fight to keep my spirit free.” And they keep on delivering the goods with the uplifting anthem “Simple Life.” This is one gorgeous rock song. Everything about it is perfection – lyrics, instrumentals, Eric’s vocals, and the superb production and arrangement.
The guys close the album with “Civilized,” a real head-banger of a tune. Gui sets the rhythm with a pulse-pounding bass line, then Ramon dives in with scorching riffs while Chris commences to attack his drum kit with all the strength he can muster. Eric snarls the lyrics that speak to someone he’s obsessed with who’s hurting him: “I’m out of my head, every time I realize all those things you said to me. So cruel, unkind. From the moment I wake, with every step that I take, draws me closer into you.”
The Rise and Fall of Babylon is a meticulously crafted album on every level, and a testament to the exceptional songwriting and musicianship of these four supremely talented gentlemen. It’s an effort they should be extremely proud of, and I’m so proud of them! I’ve gotten to know them all personally, and they’re as humble and kind as they are skilled at making music. I’m honored to be their friend.
The rock band Follow No One is the brainchild of two highly accomplished musicians – singer/songwriter and pianist Rich Hall from Nashville, Tennessee & guitar virtuoso Pedro Murino Almeida, originally from Lisbon, Portugal but with roots in Brazil. Rich began performing at a young age in theater, but found his true calling performing and writing music. Pedro was classically trained in music composition, with a successful career involving his own musical acts, and his work has been featured in film and video. Together their music is influenced by such rock giants as Dream Theater, Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, Avenged Sevenfold, Imagine Dragons and Three Days Grace.
The duo released their debut EP – simply titled 5 – on September 1, delivering five hard-hitting tracks about relationships and the joy, pain and regret they bring. Each song is meticulously crafted, with passionate lyrics, intricate melodies and stellar guitar work – immediately evident in the opening track “Reflection.” Our ears are blessed with four minutes of blazing guitar riffs and thunderous drums galloping across a heavy bass-driven beat. It’s the perfect hard rock song.
Hall’s knack for writing catchy, yet compelling melodies shines on “Guardian Angel.” The track starts off with a jazzy little riff, then layers of heavier guitars are added as the song builds to a crescendo of shredded, wailing and distorted riffs so good they bring goose bumps.
“The Greatest Sin” is probably my favorite track, with a gorgeous haunting melody and powerful lyrics about trying to salvage a relationship that’s crumbling due to neglect, and regain the love and passion that existed in the beginning:
Not so very long ago, I was caught up in the web When lust and love draw the line Pictures of the days gone by keep running through my head But babe I guess that I was blind, so blind It starts out so easy, your will is so strong Then one day you wake up and your dream is gone The greatest sin is when we’re not together The greatest sin is when we’re apart
Musically, the song features jaw-dropping guitar work that runs the gamut from gentle chiming riffs to bombastic wails, and everything in between. And, as with all their songs, the supporting bass, percussion and synths are all in fine form. Hall made a video that does a terrific job of bringing the song’s lyrics to life. Take a look:
Follow No One tugs at the heartstrings on “No Regrets,” a lovely but sorrowful track about being filled with remorse for past mistakes, and wondering if you even have the strength or will to keep on living. Hall’s tender, heartfelt vocals rise with emotion as the song progresses from a gentle ballad to stirring rock anthem. Almeida makes his guitar practically weep in the bridge.
Every night I pray for the same thing That tomorrow never comes unless there’s changes I been holding on to a dream that I don’t want to And I pray to god I don’t have that much time left Hands won’t stop trembling, cause my eyes can’t see the ending But it seems so far away, so for now I’ll stay
Last but certainly not least is the title track “5,” a hard-driving beast with more incredible guitar work. I love the opening riff and – oh hell, I love all their riffs! Hall and Almeida are phenomenal musicians, and their debut EP is a work they should both be proud of. I expect – and hope – we’ll be hearing more great music from them.
Today I have the pleasure of featuring my first ever band from Germany, a three-piece from Erlangen, Bavaria called Le Poisson. They formed in 2012 and, like many bands, underwent some personnel changes over the years, but now have a solid lineup consisting of Louisa Stegmeyer on Vocals, Michael Le Noir on Guitar & Bass, and Antonis Kop on Drums. They play an eclectic style of progressive rock, with elements of hard rock, metal, and what they refer to as ‘vampire’ rock. Following up on their 2016 EP One in a Million, they just released a mesmerizing new single “Crush/You.”
The song opens with a beautiful guitar riff, immediately hooking us in with a captivating and rather haunting melody before Louisa’s lovely vocals enter the proceedings. With an earnest longing in her voice, she sings of the fervent passion we feel when falling for someone, but insecure and uncertain of their feelings for us. We search for a light that will reveal the truth:
There’s a light that shines on, shines on everyone We hold on We can reach an understanding Dreams are ascending Life is so demanding
Michael’s layered guitar work is really quite exquisite, going from a gentle riff to a more intense hard rock sound at the halfway point that conveys feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Louisa’s vocals become more impassioned along with the music, as does the intensity of the percussion. The instrumentals and vocals calm back down in the outro, leaving us with a sense of resolution. It’s a wonderful song.
1. THE MAN – The Killers (1) 5th week at #1
2. HOLDING ON – The War on Drugs (2)
3. UNFORGETTABLE – French Montana, Swae Lee (5)
4. EVERYTHING NOW – Arcade Fire (3)
5. THE WAY YOU USED TO DO – Queens of the Stone Age (4)
6. THE NIGHT WE MET – Lord Huron (7)
7. SO TIED UP – Cold War Kids, Bishop Briggs (8)
8. LITTLE ONE – Highly Suspect (9)
9. SUIT AND JACKET – Judah & the Lion (12)
10. LOVING YOU IS SO EASY – Wide Eyed Boy (13)
11. HIGHWAY TUNE – Greta Van Fleet (20)
12. FEELS LIKE SUMMER – Weezer (6)
13, CAN I SIT NEXT TO YOU – Spoon (11)
14. FEEL IT STILL – Portugal. The Man (16) 21st week on list
15. RUN – Foo Fighters (10)
16. IT’S A TRIP! – Joywave (17)
17. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (18)
18. WALK ON WATER – 30 Seconds to Mars (19)
19. THE SYSTEM ONLY DREAMS IN TOTAL DARKNESS – The National (14)
20. HIGH – Sir Sly (15) 20th week on list
Listening to the music of Guy Paul Thibault, it would be easy to assume he’s from somewhere like Nashville, Tennessee. In reality the singer/songwriter/guitarist – who plays tremendously satisfying folk music with strong country and rock influences – hails from beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. An accomplished musician, Guy Paul has written, recorded and produced six albums on his own. He’s also played acoustic, electric, bass and slide guitar, and sang vocals for original acts and cover bands. In June he released a new album It’s About Time, an appropriate title given the span of 17 years since his last solo album.
I’ve always loved songs that tell a story, and It’s About Time is loaded with them. Let me state right here that Guy Paul is an incredible wordsmith. Through poetic, heartfelt, and sometimes humorous lyrics, his songs address the oft-covered subjects of life, love and heartbreak, but in ways that reveal the contradictory facets of good and evil inherent in each of us. Furthermore, these colorful stories are delivered with his sublime vocals and accompanied by some pretty nifty acoustic and electric guitar. I usually like to highlight a few song lyrics in my reviews, but in this case I’ll be featuring quite a lot of them.
“Here She Comes” kicks off the album with a pleasing country-rock rhythm. Guy Paul instantly hooks us in with his laid back vocal delivery and nimble acoustic guitar. Gentle percussion sets the beat and the sweet violin in the bridge is a nice touch.
One of the best ‘story’ tracks is “Misdemeanor,” a catchy, guitar-driven and wry tune about an older woman who’s still got it, and always out looking for a good time:
Takes the complications with a delicate smile Avoids one night affairs, well she has for a while That’s what she says
Well, hello boys is her natural style
Moves on her prey like a cat in the wild With a closer look, well she’s showing her age But she’s still got her wit and she’s still got those legs
Ahh those legs
Guy Paul turns serious with “Hills,” a compelling song about people living a hardscrabble existence in rural America who’ve endured more than their fair share of military service and the consequential casualties, PTSD and societal breakdown:
You can hide a body forever in these hills A thousand square miles and a hundred little stills They took us from our homes and taught us how to fight Now justice comes in the middle of the night Now terror comes in the middle of the night
He strums his guitar with a forcefulness to match the searing lyrics, backed by an assertive military drumbeat and mournful harmonica. The generous use of electric guitar and bass also lend greater impact to the track.
The poignant “Tallest Man on Earth” addresses the realization that the father you once idolized, thinking you wanted to be like him, wasn’t so high in stature after all:
When I was just a young man, trying not to fall The only thing that seemed to matter was growing up and being tall Growing tall brings great things, like seeing past the trees You can’t hear the whispers, your head up in the breeze He seemed the tallest man on earth
His heart died alone they say, running against the wall He never could comprehend life wasn’t about being tall He seemed the tallest man on earth The smallest man on earth
Another powerful and standout track is “We Just Don’t Care,” a hard-hitting country-rock anthem that speaks to the apathy and sense of futility caused by feelings of betrayal by society and our government. Those sentiments are expressed by an attitude of entitlement – ‘I want what’s owed to me, and to hell with everyone else’:
Sacrifice is such a lonely word There’s not much left in this world We’re all trying the best we can Can’t see the beach for the grains of sand Belief is just a long-lost dream Slowly fades from what I’ve seen Lack faith in our fellow man Lost in time a simple slight of hand This is how we are now And we just don’t care
Guy Paul shows us his rocker side on “Saving Grace,” a rousing song with a driving beat and lots of terrific electric and rhythm guitar riffs. One of my favorite tracks is “Saturday Night,” a catchy and breezy country song about hooking up with strangers to avoid being lonely. The lyrics are rather bittersweet until he lightens things up at the end:
It’s alright, I still got my friends That’s what I’m talkin’ about Hey wait a minute, is that another bottle over there? Same time next week?
“Stay (For Riley)” is a lovely but wistful ballad about saying goodbye to a loved one – or a pet perhaps? “You were my best friend, chased all of my fears. Now you live in every tear. Stay.” Guy Paul serves up jangly guitar riffs on “If I Had,” a really nice folk tune about dreaming of enjoying life by hitting the road in his car with a girl and guitar. Wrapping up the album is the sorrowful “How Far Could I Fall.” The country song speaks of hitting bottom after his girl left him and he sought comfort with booze and drugs.
It’s About Time is well worth the wait of 17 years, as it’s superb on every level. In addition to Guy Paul’s impressive songwriting and musicianship, he was assisted on the album by the musical talents of David Bradshaw and Shawn Cherry.
As someone who cannot sing, play an instrument of any kind, nor read or compose music, I never fail to be impressed by people who can do those things, especially when they do them well. Even more impressive is when people create music that’s completely original and innovative, leaving me wondering how their minds ever came up with those sounds and melodies in the first place.
Such is the music of Manipulant, an imaginative and, dare I say brilliant, multi-instrumentalist/composer based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Born David Speakman, Manipulant creates “scientific sound spaces” – as so perfectly described on a few of the tracks on his superb second album Eclectro, which dropped in June. Following up on his 2016 debut album Méthode de Narration, Manipulant once again utilizes hypnotic rhythms, dark synths and unconventional instrumentation on Eclectro to tell his stories. And this time around, he’s joined by British chilled trip-hop artist Stoneygate and Italian Astrophysicist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi, who provide unusual and mesmerizing backing vocals for some of the songs.
The mysterious-sounding “Run” kicks things off with strummed electric guitar and spacey synths, then a powerful throbbing bass line and strong drum beat take over, accompanied by bursts of crashing cymbals and a retro 60’s surf guitar riff – the kind Dick Dale or The Ventures played back in the day. In her sultry, almost whispry vocals, Stoneygate sings the bleak lyrics: “World is changing. Ominous sky. The rats are hiding. The birds are silent. Seems we’ve lost our way. Sides are bickering. / Jump back, turnaround, run.”
As Manipulant explained in an excellent interview with the blog Keepsmealive, he wanted the song to be “Somethingdark and driving. It needed to try to capture the mood I was seeing around me in the aftermath of the U.S. elections and some of the chaos that was happening elsewhere in the world.” I think he succeeded quite well; take a listen:
“Methodical” has the kind of thumping dance beat that immediately goes for the hips, and I love it! The far-off echoed vocals, many of which are not understandable, lend an otherworldly vibe to this infectious track. Things turn ominous again with “Doctor, I Need Your Expertise,” in which the beautiful Dr. Terenzi – ‘Goddess of Acoustic Astronomy’ – speaks in her own tribute song. Opening with a menacing buzzsaw sound, Manipulant asks “Dr. Terenzi, where are you?” Her echoed, sci-fi sounding vocals add to the track’s eerie vibe as she says “You are listening to real sounds, scientific sound spaces,” while a pounding beat continues throughout the track.
Regarding the Kraftwerk-inspired EDM track “Marshmallow Fabrik,” Manipulant explained to Keepsmealive “I think many of us carry on as if we are living in a marshmallow factory. Everything is in order and it’s all fluffy and delicious. We don’t focus on things outside of our own space. We continue on with blinders as long as our personal factories keep producing things that make us happy.” Here, echoed voices spoken in German are accompanied by unusual synths that almost sound like a huge snorting alien animal.
“Faulty Tap” is a 30-second instrumental interlude that begins with a loud drip, followed by pounding industrial-sounding synths to create a mood that Manipulant explained “was an extension of the frustration of “Run” put into something as simple and maddening as a leaky faucet.” The organ takes a starring role on “jusq’à la mort nous sépare (The Organist).” It’s a reworking of “The Organist” from his first album, and the French title translated is “until death separates us.” The track is uptempo, with playful synths and a rapid but delicate drum beat that belies the rather somber lyrics, spoken in his echoed vocals: “OhI’m worried, I have a bad feeling about this.You must understand, as a fellow organist, when I’m thwarted I become agitated. You’re not in control here. I’m in control here.”
Next up is the one-minute long dirge-like interlude “Requiem for the 11th Earl of Sandwich,” which Manipulant explained represents the death of civility – Earl being ‘nobility’ which symbolized ‘civility.’ The mood abruptly shifts on the hauntingly beautiful instrumental “N / A / B / C / F“, which is a reworking of another track “Not All Birds Can Fly,” from his first album. (By now it’s clear that he loves strange and unusual song titles, but I digress…) The key instrument on this track is the sublime piano, accentuated by soaring synths.
Powerful throbbing bass and modulated buzzing synths make a return appearance on “The Doctor Meets 808.” And once again, Dr. Terenzi’s echoed vocals add to the eerie vibe, as she repeats the line “So you are listening to real sounds, scientific sound spaces,” as well as other lyrics. The track is essentially a reworking of “Doctor, I Need Your Expertise,” only with much heavier extended bass, as suggested by the ‘808’ in the song title.
Dr. Fiorella Terenzi
Eclectro is one of the most unusual and sonically amazing albums I’ve heard in a long while. At times disturbing, and other times gorgeous, it’s a brilliant, meticulously crafted album that Manipulant should be proud of. Another thing he – and we fans – are proud of is his winning a third place WIGWAM Online Radio Award for Best Indie/Alternative Act of 2017.
To learn more about Manipulant, check out his Website
It’s back to the UK to shine my spotlight on metal rock band Dead On Arrival. The Derbyshire four-piece was formed in 2011, and consists of Jack Dughan (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), Ben Calver (Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals), Connor Woodward (Bass) and George Lathbury (Drums). Drawing on influences from some of their favorite bands such as Metallica, Machine Head, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon, the guys make aggressive rock that’s melodic, raw and in-your-face. As they state on their Facebook bio, “Our passion is to write, produce and release our own music and then play it live and LOUD.”
Photo by Pete Key
Dead On Arrival released a full length debut album From the Ashes in 2016, and now return with a terrific EP Chasing Tides, which dropped on August 18. The EP delivers four scorching tracks that clearly demonstrate the band’s growth, both in songwriting and musicianship. Their song lyrics address themes of dysfunction and betrayal within ourselves, our relationships and our government leaders, and their ferocious instrumentals perfectly convey the strong feelings expressed in the lyrics.
“Vulture in the Waves,” released as a single in late 2016, kicks things off with an onslaught of shredded guitars, powerful throbbing bass and pounding drums – all hallmarks of the band’s hard-hitting sound. Dughan wails the lyrics that speak of someone wracked with guilt and tormented by his actions:
“Oh I’m the vulture in the waves Chasing tides to escape my mistakes Because I couldn’t live on Knowing what I’ve done And I hide in the shadows It’s the only way to survive“
Hammering drums and blazing riffs continue unabated on the hard-driving “Inside” and “Corrupted World.” Calver’s shredded and distorted guitars are mind-blowing, and the bass so heavy I felt it in my core. On the latter track, Dughan implores, “This is a final call. We will stand tall and fight against this corruption.”
As if the first three tracks aren’t aggressive enough, the guys unleash their full sonic arsenal on the bombastic “Sickening Thing.” The frantic guitar riffs rain down like thunderbolts, and Lathbury attacks his drums like a wild beast, nearly blowing out the speakers – and my ear drums! Woodward lays down a face-melting bass line, and Dughans’ fiery vocals match the brutal music note for note. It’s my favorite of the four tracks, and really shows what these guys are capable of.