hot cakes

REVIEW: The Stone Gods – Silver Spoons & Broken Bones (2008)

THE STONE GODS – Silver Spoons & Broken Bones (2008 Pias UK)

…and from the ashes of the beast came The Stone Gods, and they did lay waste to the land.

The “beast” from whose ashes that the Gods rose was The Darkness, an extremely talented band who were looked upon (either fairly or unfairly, you decide) as a novelty act. They split in twain, with singer Justin Hawkins forming the very Darkness-sounding Hot Leg. The rest of the band (guitarist and brother Dan Hawkins, drummer Ed Graham, and bassist Richie Edwards) stuck it out and renamed themselves The Stone Gods. Edwards, a fine singer in his own right, dropped the bass and became the frontman. New member Toby MacFarlaine was brought in on bass.

The lead single “Burn The Witch” was shocking in its metal ferocity.  This was not expected from 3/4 of the Darkness.

What made this band special is twofold. First, the undeniable writing talents of Dan and the band, proving that Justin was not the be-all and end-all of the Darkness.  Second, the voice of Richie Edwards. He truly has his own unique voice, something unusual in today’s soundalike music scene. It is part Bon Scott, part Halford, with a little bit of early raspy Joe Elliot thrown in, and 100% awesome. As a frontman, he was no Justin, but who is?  (Nobody!)

The band stuck solidly to a hard rock/heavy metal direction.  Ed Graham’s got his trademark cave-man drum fills, and it fits like a glove.  Dan’s guitar howls and shrieks like a thing possessed.  Above it all, Richie wails.  These songs rock.  Some, like “Defend or Die” and “Burn the Witch” are scorchers.  Others are hard rock classics.  Three tracks in particular fully qualify as Darkness-level rock anthems.  “Where You Comin’ From”, “Start of Something”, and “Wasting Time” each boast numerous hooks and arena-level choruses.  A track like “Wasting Time” has suitable weekend-ready lyrics.

My friends have all joined the rat race
It’s all suits, shirts and novelty ties
I’m not a fan of retirement plans
I refuse to change my way of life

Just about every song here is a winner; no losers.  It is important to note, however, that the album takes a turn for the lighter around the halfway point.  Indeed, the first three songs are a pure metal bludgeon.  After that, a few early-Def Leppard moments are thrown in (“Making It Hard”).  However it is never out of place, never too soft, never embarrassing.  It is simply a good time.  A well-rounded rock album with fists-a-flying, then a smoke break, and then some ass-kicking.  If you’re wondering why it sounds so good, I blame Canadian engineer Mike Fraser, who just nailed it.

Shortly after the album’s release, Ed Graham departed and was replaced by Robin Goodridge of Bush fame.  That’s him in the video for “Start of Something”. This great lineup recorded a yet-to-released second album.  But the Hawkins brothers could not be kept apart.  Robin returned to Bush, and the Darkness have enjoyed a very successful second era with brothers Dan and Justin back in action together once again.

Dan has indicated that the second Stone Gods album will eventually see release. If so, then this debut truly was the “Start of Something”.

5/5stars

 

Sunday Chuckle: Rick Likes Pancakes

If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty, then you know Rick Sanchez likes pancakes.  I appreciate that, in a recent episode, Rick is seen using Canadian maple syrup, so I thought I’d share that with you.

Some pancakes wisdom from Rick Sanchez:

“Now if you don’t mind, I have pancakes waiting for me at home; they’re about to reach that critical syrup absorption point that turns the pancake into a sticky paste.”

He’s 100% right!  There is a critical window that pancakes must be consumed in.  Rick knows!

 

Part 157: The Year in Review / Top 5

RECORD STORE TALES Part 157:   The Year in Review

So here we are, the tail end of 2012.  While I’m sure you’re just starting to get your drink on, we here at LeBrain’s Blog are tirelessly bringing you the rock even into the wee final hours.  This is the time, traditionally, when we look at the past year!

We used to do Top Five of the Year lists at the record store, when we used to have our newsletter.  Unfortunately I don’t have copies of any of those newsletters, not a one, which is a real shame since I poured my heart and soul into them as much as anybody else at the store.  It would have been fun to look back 15 years and see what my top five of 1997 was.  I do know for certain two albums that were on it:  Accident of Birth by Bruce Dickinson, and The Colour and the Shape by Foo Fighters!  The rest have been lost to the dusts of time.

Hey, if any of you guys are still speaking to me and have copies of the newsletter, lemme know eh? ;)

Back to the present for a moment:

What can I say about 2012?  Before I even thought about doing my own blog, events were in motion that pushed me in that direction.   My good buddy Craig Fee invited me down to 107.5 Dave FM for an entire week — Stump LeBrain Week!  I spent a week on the air, with listeners trying to stump me.  There were even a couple LeBrain Weeks and an entire month of LeBrainuary, where every single day’s 4 O’clock 4 Play quizzes were mined from my own brain’s knowledge.  It was a blast, and left me hungry for more.

I’d always been writing Record Store Tales.  The oldest ones were at least a decade old on my hard drive, but I had no idea what to do with them.  I’d also been writing reviews — well over 800 of them on file before I launched — that very few people had seen.  Craig said to me, “LeBrain, you need to get blogging this stuff.  Write something every day.  If you build it, they will come.”

So that’s what I did, and I thank you for reading.

Back to the Record Store Tales:

I published Part 1 on March 9 2012, the beginning of the story, called Run to the Hills.  It was about the very first time I heard Iron Maiden, a date I’ll never forget.  And thus LeBrain’s Blog and Record Store Tales were launched.

Some highlights from the early months that you may have missed if you’re fairly new here:

So, if you have nothing better to do on this New Year’s Eve, there’s a good waste of time for ya.

And now that we’re done with the preamble…let’s get down to business.

LeBRAIN’S TOP FIVE OF 2012

5. TENACIOUS D – Rize of the Fenix

KG and JB cannot be stopped.  This album is the “Deth Starr” of rock, The D aim “To Be The Best”!   Read LeBrain’s review of Rize of the Fenix here, including all bonus tracks.

4. THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes

I will never stop loving this band.  Welcome back.  Read LeBrain’s review of Hot Cakes here.

3.  RUSH – Clockwork Angels

My favourite Rush album since Counterparts, at least. Read LeBrain’s review of Clockwork Angels here.

2. VAN HALEN – A Different Kind of Truth

I’d never been more worried that a band would fuck up their big comeback.  Thankfully, Van Halen did not.  Read LeBrain’s review of A Different Kind of Truth here.

And finally…

1. KISS – Monster

You know this was gonna happen.  Aside from the fact that I’m the biggest Kiss fan around, it’s a fucking great record.  Read LeBrain’s review of Monster here.

Runner up:  Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson – TAAB2 Thick As A Brick 2.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

REVIEW: The Darkness – Hot Cakes (deluxe edition)

I wanna dedicate this review to Patrick from Dave Nation, a regular reader and Darkness fan!

THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes (Deluxe edition with 4 bonus tracks, 2012 Canary Dwarf Ltd.)

The Darkness are probably the band that came out in the last decade that I truly love most.  Something about this band just makes me feel GOOD.  They always have.  I love this band, much to the consternation of some of the people I used to work for at the record store!  I love this band, so I worked their music into our wedding reception, and played a shitload of air guitar to it!  I just love this band.

I loved the Stone Gods too.  But this is the original Darkness:  Dan, Justin, Ed and Frankie.

At first I was kind of “blah” to the idea of an original lineup reunion.  I liked Richie Edwards just fine too.  But Frankie co-writes a number of these tracks, and he has a great stage presence.  As for Ed, his trademark drum fills might not be Neil Peart material but he has his own identifiable sound, and his fills are always dead-on perfect for what the songs need.  Play air drums to The Darkness some time, you’ll see what I mean!

To get to the point, though:  Hot Cakes?  It’s magically delicious!

If you didn’t like their second album, the arguably over-elaborate One Way Ticket, then you’ll be happy with Hot Cakes.  They’ve brought things back to the basics of guitars, bass, and drums with only the odd embellishment along the way.

But the lyrics are certainly not toned down!

Every man, woman and chile wants to…

SUCK MY COCK!!!!!

Justin’s lost nothing.  He’s still bonkshit!* Except maybe just a hint (just a hint!) of his high voice.  Or maybe it’s just the production that make it seem that way.  It might even be my imagination.  So who cares?  And to sing and play lead guitar and run around like Steven Tyler?  That can’t be easy either!

The majority of songs here are great, and would make my road tape.  Much like the first and second albums, there are songs that I keep coming back to over and over again.  You become attached to certain hooks in them and then suddenly, BAM!  The song is stuck in your head!  Examples of this:

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” – Great fast catchy Darkness single, with one of their classic sounding choruses.

“With A Woman” – Simple, basic AC/DC rocker but with Justin’s flare and yet another catchy chorus.

“Everybody Have A Good Time” – “Come on people, tell me how you feel. You want a good time? Well you got yourself a deal!”  Along the blueprints of the feel-good tunes from the first album.

“She Just A Girl, Eddie” – Tied for best song on the album.  This is the one I can play 10 times in a row and still hit repeat (usually in the car).  As for the lyrics?  “There are four billion other girls, who want to make love to you.”  Eddie can’t argue with that math.  And speaking of Eddie, Ed’s drum fills are what I was talking about earlier — simple, powerful, perfect.

“Concrete” – Solid, riff-based song with great high Justin vocal.  Catchy as hell.

“Street Spirit (Fade Out)” – Holy.  Shit.

On the negatives:  The album somewhat follows the blueprint of the first one.  For example a ballad, “Living Each Day Blind” falls on track #5, the same place that the similar sounding “Love Is Only A Feeling” was on Permission To Land.  At times it gets predictable, but thankfully the song quality back it up.

I paid a fair chunk of money to have the deluxe edition shipped here from Amazon.co.uk.  I’m glad to say it:  These four extra songs are worth it!

There are two acoustic demos:  The campfire-like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love”, a song as good as any on the album proper.  Then there’s a demo version of the album song “Love Is Not the Answer”, which is better than the album version.  The album version seemed very much the answer to “Holding My Own” from album #1.  The acoustic version loses that soundalike aspect, and exposes bare Justin’s vocal prowess.

Then there’s “Pat Pong Ladies”.  No idea what this one is about since it’s not included in the lyric sheet.  This one has a more layered and operatic vibe, more akin to album #2.  Having said that, it’s a great tune, better than some of the album tracks.  It gets positively Queen at times.

Lastly, “Cannonball (Long Version)”.   As my fellow rock enthusiast, Heavy Metal Overload asked, “Where’s the short version?”  Maybe Ian Anderson knows.  He plays that flute part.  Of course!  But this isn’t a ballad, or even a Tull-like rocker.  No, this is The Darkness sounding like themselves (circa album #2 with some boogie piano underneath and layered screams)!

I’m so glad this band is back.  I hope to catch them live.  I hope Lady Gaga’s audience is into them…now there’s an odd pairing!

4.5/5 stars

 

* word coined by Statham

More New Arrivals!

You may have already watched me open my brand new Sloan – Twice Removed deluxe box set.  In that video, I mentioned a had a few parcels come in.  Here’s two more that I am currently enjoying!  Watch for LeBrain’s Reviews in the coming days and weeks on mikeladano.com.

 

THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes (finally, the elusive version with the 4 bonus tracks!)

Hot Leg and the Stone Gods are no more.  The original lineup is back, without missing a single beat!  It’s 2003 all over again!

MARILLION – Sounds That Can’t Be Made (deluxe CD / DVD combo set)

It’s far too early for me to say anything about the music or the direction this time out.  Early impressions:  Epic like Marbles, catchier than Happiness Is The Road, with a nod and a wink to Radiat10n, but certainly nothing drastically different.  The opening track “Gaza” is 17 minutes!

I love the cover art:  the Arecibo message! I have been obsessed with the Arecibo message since first reading about it in a long-forgotten science fiction story when I was a kid. Wish I could remember the story. Regardless, the message is cool in its deceptive simplicity, and I love that Marillion used it for their cover.  Printed faintly in behind is the binary version of the message.