sonic boom music

#361: LeBrain Goes to Toronto (Video)

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#361: LeBrain Goes to Toronto

Went to Toronto yesterday to visit Mrs. LeBrain at the hospital, and also visited Sonic Boom music at 215 Spadina while I was in town.  I’m tired, so all I had the energy for was this quick & dirty 4 minute video.  Hope you like it.  You know I found music to buy…

Road tunes:

  1. Deep Purple – Slaves and Masters
  2. Ted Nugent – Shutup & Jam!
  3. Whitesnake – Snakebite
  4. Whitesnake – Saints An’ Sinners
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VIDEO: Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto…Again!

MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO…AGAIN!

It’s finally done!  Enjoy this video souvenir from our (Mike and Aaron) 2014 Record Store Excursion in Toronto .


 

Of the albums I bought in Toronto, one stood out as an immediate killer.  Just an awesome disc, that I’ll be reviewing tomorrow.  See if you can guess which one blew me away.

For the videos from 2012 and 2013, click here!

REVIEW: The Black Crowes – Freak ‘N’ Roll…Into the Fog (2006)

The rather late first review from Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013!

 

CROWES FREAK ROLL_0002THE BLACK CROWES – Freak ‘n’ Roll…Into the Fog: All Join Hands, The Fillmore, San Francisco (2006 Eagle Records)

I somehow missed this when it first came out!  This double live album (acquired at Sonic Boom Music for the awesome price of $7.99), recorded in 2005, reunited the Robinson brothers with members from the classic era.  Returning are Marc Ford (guitar),  Ed Hawrysch (keyboards, from Toronto Ontario), Sven Pipien (bass) and original drummer Steve Gorham.  I believe the original bassist, Johnny Colt, was busy with Rock Star Supernova at the time…

Anyway, with a set concentrated on classic Crowes tunes from the earlier albums with a few other gems, this is an awesome collection.  There are a few later songs, such as a mind-blowing psychedelic version of “Soul Singing” (Lions).  Many of the songs, “Soul Singing” included, turn into long extended jams.  I wouldn’t call them meandering jams; they are spellbinding and with purpose at every moment.

The Crowes are backed by guests:  the Left Coast Horns and backup singers.  The horns kick ass on the extended “(Only) Halfway to Everywhere”.  They transform “Welcome to the Goodtimes” into something a little more sassy, likewise with “Let Me Share the Ride”, and “Seeing Things” from the first LP.  They also help stretch “Non Fiction” into 10 minutes of exploratory rock.  The backup singers really compliment “My Morning Song” transforming it into an ecstatic moment.

I have always taken a bit of flak from other Crowes fans over my favourite album.  Mine is Amorica, and most people I knew favoured Southern Harmony.  Regardless, it’s a delight to hear “Wiser Time” from Amorica on this album.  Songs like this are really special, and with most of the original players on it, “Wiser Time” shines.

I enjoy that the Crowes threw some rarities, covers and B-sides on Freak ‘n’ Roll.  “Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz” and “Mellow Down Easy” are among the highlights of these tracks, but I was most excited about “The Night they Drove Ol’ Dixie Down”.  The original is a favourite of mine so I couldn’t wait to hear the Crowes’ interpretation.  And guess what?  It’s awesome.  It would be ludicrous to compare it to the original by The Band.  All that matters is that the Crowes wring more soul out of the song than you’ll hear in modern rock on any given day.

The Walmart version of the CD came with a download code for a bonus track, the Stones’ “Loving Cup”.  I obtained it via the seedy underbelly of the internets.  On the DVD this was played after “Welcome to the Goodtimes”.  I’m glad to have this song because the horns really fatten it up nicely, and it’s also a great tune!

5/5 stars

Record Store Excursion 2013!

PART 1

PART 2

VIDEO: Mike and Aaron Return to Toronto

Making these videos is a lot of work (a lot more than it looks like, thank you Winblows*) but it’s a labor of love.

Aaron and I did very well on Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013.  We used modern technology, such as smartphones and GPS, to maximize our time.  The weather was gorgeous (absolutely perfect) the whole day, and boy, did we buy a lot of music.

If you wanna check out the 2012 Record Store Excursion vid, click here.  If not, enjoy this year’s videos embedded below (two parts)!

PART 1

PART 2

* Need to move on from Windows Movie Maker.  Its glitchiness made this way too hard.

FILM

Gallery: Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013 teaser

Not quite a year ago, Aaron and I went to Toronto to splurge on music.  Today I have returned from what is hoped to be a regular occurrence.  I present to you, the spoils of war below.  This is just a teaser.  My goal is to edit together another documentary video like I did last year.  This year I shot everything on my new BlackBerry Z10, which means I have to do some file conversion.  With any luck I’ll be showing you all the details and fun soon.  Until then, enjoy this teaser.!

REVIEW: Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning (180 gram vinyl with bonus 12″)

THIN LIZZY – Thunder and Lightning (1983, 180 gram Back on Black reissue)

I love this album, it was actually the first Lizzy studio album I bought, on vinyl, from Tom’s store way back in the late 1990’s.  I’ve always loved John Sykes from his work in Whitesnake and Blue Murder.

Thunder and Lightning is the final Lizzy studio album.  It’s definitely the most metal, but it’s not the best sounding one (gimme Black Rose for that honour). It just strikes that chord inside. You know how certain albums just click with you and you don’t know why? That’s Thunder and Lightning for me, but I think it reminds me of that general vibe of heavy metal music in 1983.  There are times it reminds me of Judas Priest.

This is the only album from the Lynott/Gorham/Downey/Wharton/Sykes lineup.  It is produced by Chris Tsangarides (Anvil, Judas Priest). Wharton and Sykes both scored songwriting credits, which may be why this album sounds so much more “metal”.  Wharton’s keys are not obtrusive.

Best track:   Gorham and Lynott’s “Bad Habits”. If there was one track that sounded like old Lizzy circa Johnny The Fox, it’s “Bad Habits”. It’s just a rock and roller of a song with killer lyrics.  Phil’s voice is noticeably a lot more raw, worn, but he works within his limitations as always.  His voice remains as expressive as ever.  In “Bad Habits” he sounds like he’s jonesing as bad as the title implies.

“Cold Sweat” is the one that Sykes co-wrote, and it is very metal, featuring his trademark guitar squeals and yet more great lyrics from Lynott. “I got a whole month’s wages, I haven’t seen that much in ages, I might spend it in stages, and move out to Las Vegas.”  Love it.  Sung by Lynott, those lines tell a whole story.

IMG_00000235_editReally, there’s not a bad song on this album. “This Is The One” has some relentless pounding drums courtesy of Brian Downey (one of the true greats). “The Sun Goes Down” is a slower one with a keyboard solo, very atmospheric. It reminds me of the similarly titled “Night Comes Down” by Judas Priest. “Holy War” is another relentless pounder with a message to be heard. Not a bad track to be found.

If I had any complaints it would probably be the mix/production which at times comes across as a bit too bombastic and 80’s.  I mean, it’s still Thin Lizzy, one of the classiest sounding bands ever.  Thunder and Lightning is pretty evolved in sound from a classic like Jailbreak, and that may or may not be to your taste.

Some vinyl and cassette versions of Thunder and Lightning came with four bonus live tracks.  They are actually from the Renegade tour and feature Snowy White on guitar instead of his replacement John Sykes.  Thankfully, the current Back on Black 180 gram vinyl release restores the rare 12″ bonus EP.  The four songs are “Emerald”, “Killer on the Loose”, “The Boys are Back in Town”, and “Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)”.  These are great tracks.  It also has a gatefold sleeve with lyrics inside.  It’s a very nice package.

I’ve heard that 2013 will see the release of more Lizzy deluxe editions, including Thunder and Lightning.  If that’s the case I will pre-order it as soon as I hear about it.  There are still several B-sides from this period that are not currently available, such as “Angel of Death”, “Still in Love With You”, and “Don’t Believe a Word” live, and a remix of “The Sun Goes Down”.  I don’t have these tracks, but it sure would be nice to get everything on one deluxe CD package, wouldn’t it?  You guys paying attention, Universal?

5/5 stars

LIZZY

REVIEW: Bidiniband – The Land is Wild

Part 2 of the Aaron Challenge:  He has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone.  Together, we will be reviewing some of the albums he bought in Toronto during Record Store Excursion 2012.  I’ve never heard any of these albums before, in fact I know almost nothing about most of these bands.  This time, I’m going into it at least knowing the Dave Bidini was in the Rheostatics!

Aaron paid $7.99 for each of these discs, at Sonic Boom Music.

Check out his thoughts on the exact same album right here!

For a cool interview with Bidini himself, check out my buddy Patrick Finch’s article right here!

the land is wild

BIDINIBAND – The Land is Wild

Last time, I took a look at In the Rock Hall, without knowing a thing about Dave Bidini.  Now, I’m a little more prepared.  And it just so happens that The Land is Wild is a very different kind of album, much catchier and more immediate.

Album opener, “Desert Island Poem”, is a beautiful acoustic guitar/piano tune with clever lyrics:  “Rheostatics eat their drummer,” and “Martin ran out of the van,” and then references to the incredible Drumheller Alberta, one of my favourite places in the world.  But lyrics aside, melodically and instrumentally this is just a great song.

Some more beautiful acoustics open track #2, “Memorial Day”.  It features one of my favourite instruments, under utilized in rock music: the clarinet.  It’s a slow mournful number juxtaposed with that playful clarinet.  This being Dave Bidini though, of course it takes a twist.  At 3 minutes it becomes more electric and distorted, but without losing direction.

“We Like To Rock” is a gleeful number with some catchy electric guitar licks.  It’s a melodic winner, I like this song a lot.  “This is how we like to live!  This is why we’ll never stop!  This is how we like to live, it’s how we like to rock!”  And how do they like to rock?  Not in any generic way, that is for sure.  This song is unique as any Bidini I have heard thus far, yet it’s a bit more straightforward and to the point.

The next song, “Take A Wild Ride” isn’t even a minute long and it strikes me as something jokey.  But fear not, for “Terrorize Me Now” is next, with an unforgettable chorus and a reference to both Malcolm and Roddy McDowell!  It’s just as playful as all the previous songs, with some intricate guitar parts and lush backing vocals.   I would have liked to have found the lyrics to this song online; no such luck though.

A longer song is up next, the title track, over six minutes, and little more along the lines of what I grew to expect from the last Bidini album I heard, In the Rock Hall.  It’s a bit more challenging, with some atonal guitar feedback, atypical drum beats, and different sections.  Good stuff.

“Last Good Cigarette” is a song I can’t relate to, lyrically, never having smoked one in my life.  Musically though, this is another nice acoustic number, with plenty of intricate guitar parts hanging around in the mix to grab my attention.   It’s over too soon though, and then we’re into the next one, “Song Ain’t Any Good”.  This is a funny self-deprecating number:

This song ain’t any good,
It’s not quiet, it’s not loud,
Its lyrics are warm and tepid,
Of them I’m not very proud.
This song ain’t any good,
You prob’ly heard these chords before,
Its melody is dry and chalky,
The words are lonely cold and boring.

He’s wrong though.  This song is great!

Then comes the 8 minute epic, “How Zeke Roberts Died”.  I had to look up who Zeke Roberts was (an old NFL player apparently, but I can’t figure out the lyrical connection).   This is a cool folk rock tune with several people taking lead vocals.  I love songs with multiple lead vocalists and this is a great one.  Awesome tune.

After such an epic, the playful “Pornography” came as a surprise.  It begins with a programmed drum beat and another humourous lyric.  For better or for worse, you’ll be walking around the house singing “Pornography, pornography…” after playing the album.  Be forewarned!  Ironically the song seems to be more about George W Bush than pornography!

“The Continuing Story Of Canadiana And Canadiandy” has more of that tasty guitar pickin’ that I love.  And of course, it also has more of those humourous lyrical acrobatics.  Another gleeful winner.  The guitar work is insane.

And then, the end:  “The Ballad of 1969” is an 8 minute epic, so the Bidiniband is not leaving you without filling your head with rock.  Delicate drums and electric guitars introduce the piece.  Eventually this morphs into surf rock “ooh ooh oohs” and riffing, but like many Bidini tracks it has multiple sections.  These songs have to be a bitch to play live!

But wait!  A hidden track about Tim Horton’s emerges?  And then…”Chad Kroeger, Chad Kroeger, you’re killing us now.”  Amen brother!  (This track is apparently called “The List”.)

This album is a hell of a lot more immediate than In the Rock Hall, but yet maintains the challenging arrangements and clever, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.  Strongly recommended.

4/5 stars

MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO

REVIEW: Bidiniband – In The Rock Hall

I’m done my series of Maiden reviews, so Aaron has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone.  Together, we will be reviewing some of the albums he bought in Toronto during Record Store Excursion 2012.  I’ve never heard any of these albums before, in fact I know almost nothing about most of these bands.  Here’s part 1.  Enjoy. (?)

Look for another Bidini feature on January 25.

Check out Aaron’s take here:

BIDINIBAND – In The Rock Hall

bidiniband

BIDINIBAND – In The Rock Hall

I know nothing about Dave Bidini, I know nothing about this band, and I know nothing about this album.  I didn’t cheat by reading up on them, or reading other reviews.  I truly went into In The Rock Hall blindly with open ears.

It’s obvious these guys don’t give a crap about commercial songwriting.  Anything considered standard, radio-friendly, or easy is tossed out the window in short order.  The songs twist and turn through different, sometimes contradictory sounding sections.  It sounds like it was painstakingly composed, piece by piece.  This is all good — I like a challenging listen.  It’s all done with a wink and a smile.  They sound like they’d be very loud, live.  It’s also obvious they love their ganja, as the subject comes up more than once!

The guitar work is striking.  Like I said, I didn’t do any cheating to learn more about this album, so I have no idea who the guitar player is, but he or she has weaved together some unorthodox hooks.  Riffs and melodies strike you from the speakers, demanding that you pay attention!

“I Wanna Go To Yemen” crosses acoustic riffing, latin-sounding clapping, unusual beats and electric guitars with some pretty funny lyrics:

I wanna go to Yemen,
I wanna go with you,
We’ll get high in the morning,
And in the afternoon

It defies categorization, which is a good thing.  I’m not too keen on the singer’s flat vocals, I’m hoping they will grow on me.  It reminds me of Pavement, a band I’m not too into.  But it demanded a second listen, on which it grew further.

“On Camoragh Lake” starts with annoying beeps and gratuitous “fucks”.  It’s pretty tuneless until you get to the chorus, which features some nice electric chords and female backing vocals.  The song takes a turn around the 2 minute mark, getting a bit more passionate and noisy.  It has some guitar squeaking that would make both Joe Satriani and Tom Morello happy.  This annoying song gets more and more catchy as it goes on.  It grows on you, with more listens.

Third is “Big Men Go Fast on the Water” (well, it was true for Vince Neil)!  This is the most melodic and straightforward tune thus far, very enjoyable.  This is the first song I can say I truly enjoyed from start to finish on first listen.

Another great tune follows, the passionate “Last of the Big Dead Things”.  This dark, acoustic, beautiful tune was instantaneous.  But just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, they go into a shouted section at 3 minutes, and then a quiet whisper.

“Needle Beach / Outdoor Motors” has a vague (but only vague) surf-rock sound, but it’s more distorted and twisty/turny than that.  I’m not sure why the band seems to be obsessed with water themes, but hey, it’s all good.  This one’s a bit too odd to get on first listen, but it does hit a catchy vocal part towards the end.

Better is “Hey Paul and Donna”, a nice acoustic one with a great chorus.  “Hey Paul and Donna, I’m glad you took the train to Taranna!”  That’s Toronto, for those who don’t know!  It has a vintage 1960’s sound, and is probably the simplest, instantly catchy song on the album.

“Popcorn” features some intricate catchy guitar licks.  It’s also a pretty simple catchy tune, the melody doesn’t do much for me, but that guitar part is truly great.  I wish I could play that effortlessly.  At 2:40 it takes another twist, with female vocals, almost sounding Christmas-carol-y.

Distorted robot vocals usher in “The Best Thing About The 80’s Was You”, complete with apropos drum programs.  If you like 80’s music, this is a whimsical homage.  If you don’t, like me, this one built for the skip button.  It’s all tongue in cheek, but it’s not for me.  “‘The Final Countdown’, the 80’s was you!”

There’s nothing simple about “Eunoia”, a 10 minute monster.  It starts as a poem, with Tom Waits-esque backing music and noise.  Then it goes into some nice guitar chords and understated vocal melody.  It’s powerful and melodic.  As you can imagine, it has multiple sections, each with some incredible guitar work, demanding that I pay attention.  Just when I’m getting tired of one section, it twists into something else.

Up next is the percussive “Earth (Revisited)”, a humourous retelling of human history.  It’s anchored by relentless drumming, and plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s.

The album closes with another long one, the title track, “In The Rock Hall”.  Somewhat obviously, this one is about the Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but with a tongue in cheek.  The lyrics are amusing, musically I felt like we’d already visited this territory.

Coming up with a simple rating is not easy.  One cannot overlook the chops, the unorthodox stylings, the variety, and the refusal to keep things simple.  On the other hand, I found the ooh’s, ahh’s, and la-la-la’s tiring, as well as the perpetually flat lead vocals.  I don’t know how often I’d want to come back to this one.  Striking a balance, I’ll rate In The Rock Hall:

3/5 stars

MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO

GALLERY: Record Store Excursion 2012 Supplimental

Aaron sent me these photos too late to include in my video report.  These were taken at Sonic Boom Music, and Pauper’s Pub.

Mmm, beer.

I’ve also compiled some of the photos of discs that I scored that day, from some of my review blogs.

And lastly, the video is below, in case you missed it!