10/27/2014 - sASSafrASS is in review! Check out their new album, Greatest Hits Volume One and the punked-out, exciting vibe they create!
10/26/2014 - Preview of the upcoming 2015 release from Brutha Smith and the extremely personal Effigy album!
10/25/2014 - New review on the incredible beats & skills from Rock Springs, Wyoming's Gentry Fox!
10/25/2014 - SBS Live This Week returns with Part IV of SBS But No BS - another all music episode you can't miss!
10/24/2014 - The New Ages are back in review with two righteously-ripping new singles!
sASSafrASS – Greatest Hits Volume One – Album Review
With what takes top-prize as easily the best band name I’ve seen since Balls Deep In Your Stepmom – the energetic rock explosion of sASSafrASS is a purely pleasurable experience. This album flows cohesively from end to end, drifting seamlessly from the playful-pop edge of rock to the thundering massive stadium sounds of anthem-rock to the tongue-in-cheek style & attitude of punk, shifting effortlessly from sound to sound.
Whichever of those particular sounds you like the most might dictate which of these become your instant favorites upon those first listens; but you can also count on sASSafrASS to bring a infectiously fun attitude and a seriously fun vibe throughout their music on each & every track. To me…this is like the B-52’s on acid. No wait….I’ve got it now…. This is like the B-52’s on waaaaaay more acid than they were probably ALREADY taking. Yeah – that’s better; now we can continue…
Take myself for example…I can’t get enough of one of the later tunes on the album, “Crack Whore Baby;” this song totally echoes right out of the riot grrrrrrrrrrl (Too many rrrr’s? Not enough?) movement, with vocalist/bass player Tish Ciravolo at her most engaging, focused & full-on confident. The track itself is as punk as punk can get, especially with its pre-chorus chant of “One, two, fuck you!” This cut is a complete mover…and the perfect way to end the album!
But perhaps we should rewind a tad here…god I’m old…I’m mean press-play again on your new-fangled giberrty-gadgets and let’s start this off right…
“Dirge” sets this album up though a subtle beginning, based in a melodic-rock. You can hear the opening menace in this track; it just wants to explode…ticking along with the hi-hats and the drums. Quickly switching into “The Majesty Of Rock,” you get a nearly Tenacious D feeling in this track as they put the instruments to work and do what they do best as they crank up the intensity and energy at the outset of this album. The advantage of Greatest Hits Volume One is that sASSafrASS doesn’t have to ever let the energy drop by roaming through a selection of ripping tunes to make the core of this album. True to that statement, follow-up tracks “Slave Girl,” and “Pink Slip” show the punk side completely revealed as they continue to drive the album faster & harder into your ears.
Now…if you didn’t buy my B-52’s theory yet….”Cherry Bomb.” I need not say more, but I will of course… You gotta appreciate tracks like this where you can hear the absolute love, passion & enthusiasm for the music; sASSafrASS is clearly having a good time – and as a result, so too, am I. As ‘silly’ as a track like this might seem at times, you can’t ignore the fact that the guitars are incredible, drums perfect, bass as well – and THEN you get the vocals which are having a completely genuine good time.
The switch halfway through “Back Off” is one of my absolute favorite moments on this album. The second-gear that this particular track finds is just perfect…again, taking it back to the grunge/punk sounds of the riot grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl (I think that’s about the right about of r’s…..) or perhaps even the current sounds found in bands like Tweens.
Just before like lusciously energetic “Crack Whore Baby,” which you already know I love…you get another tasty, tasty punked-out treat in “Touch Too Much.” Now – I wouldn’t be doing my job if I couldn’t identify a well-known track like this, and I wouldn’t even have a beard if I didn’t listen to rock all day…so let me just say firsthand, this is definitely an extremely worthy cover of the classic AC/DC tune by a band that clearly understands their underlying subtext and raunchy, all-out-fun attitude.
You gotta hand it to this band from LA…they keep the energy flowing and the good times coming at full speed with real heart & passion in their craft that can’t be mistaken for anything other than the genuine love of the music they’re making. That’s one contagious & beautiful feeling, and they captured it perfectly on Greatest Hits Volume One.
- Jer @ SBS
Find out more about’em! https://www.facebook.com/sassafrasskicksass
Brutha Smith – Effigy – Album Review
Sacremento, CA’s hip-hop recording talent, Brutha Smith, is back with a fresh set of rhymes with the album Effigy; the follow-up to his incredibly well-received album The Lotus Effect. While the beats often come at your ears with a playful bounce & rhythmic-groove, make no mistake – these songs can be pretty gritty when it comes to the subject matter. Effigy documents much of the personal story and struggle of Brutha Smith, but more importantly documents his determination to continue rapping and overcome any obstacle in his way in pursuit of his dreams.
Personally I really dig this kind of juxtaposition in music. With beats that range from the mellowed-out, smooth opening, title-track “Effigy” into extremely hook-laden, current beats like the following track “Never Knew Him,” no matter what the style or tempo is at, the lyrics come at you in a completely raw but relatable manner. His articulation and delivery over the mic pull you in to listen closely to what’s on Brutha Smith’s mind and beats like the ones found in “Never Knew Him” are the exact musical hook and way in that the listening ears need.
But what I truly respect above all things are when an artist has broken down all the walls like Brutha Smith has here on Effigy. Listening to a track like “Fish Bowl,” well…what can I say other than I can definitely respect the way this man thinks. There’s no topic off-limits, no subject he won’t take on. He’s got a real gift for words; the flow harkens back to the days of old-school with Biz Markie & KRS-One, updated in a modern way almost sounding like what you might find from Gorillaz in a rap track.
Something like the track “94” makes you appreciate this album as the art form it is here, rather than just another set of songs. Timeline in check, it leads into “Cobain,” a track that offers some real insight into the man that Brutha Smith was, is and becomes – mind you, this is thematically spread out throughout the album as well. It’s one of the more downbeat tracks on the album in terms of its subtle, chilled out groove; but again, completely effective in combination with the lyricism.
Taking you back as far as it can go – Brutha Smith gives the early history over the track “Mamma,” but also pays true respect to his family matriarch. Again, very cool to see just how much ground he’s been able to cover and what a vibrant story his life has had overall. The production is very well mixed, at times offering some brilliant sounds of that true-vinyl feel, warm and with that slight crackle like it’s spinning right in front of you. I mean…damn…I listen to a track like “A Taste,” and I can only just imagine this coming straight off the turntable. One of the more unique & diverse tracks on Effigy – this track just spins & grooves through Brutha Smith’s signature-style alongside a melodic guitar line that fits perfectly.
As this new album bumps into the final track “Freak,” Brutha Smith almost rhymes and snarls in ways closer to something Busta Rhymes or DMX might have put out. This track has flow, it has venom, hunger, commitment, passion…the perfect way to end this incredibly personal album by laying it all completely on the line one last time. Effigy officially drops on January 15th, 2015 – get them speakers shined & ready!
- Jer @ SBS
Follow Brutha Smith at his official page at: http://www.bruthasmith.com/
Gentry Fox – Rare Demo Shit Volume One – Album Review
When you come across an album name like this one from Gentry Fox, Rare Demo Shit Volume One, well – you never really know what you’re in store for as a reviewer. It could be a cold, hard stroll through the B-sides of a contractual obligation, or simply the cutting room floor from the last sessions…who knows what you’ll hear bump through the speakers. But the best case scenario, is the one that we have here today, where the music flows along like a high-quality mixtape and still contains a cohesiveness within the diversity to make it all feel like it comes together as one.
Rock Springs, Wyoming’s Gentry Fox has been busy, that much is clear. With a new album, The Inversion LP due out in December; this set of ten tracks serve as an extreme glimpse & preview into the mindset & music of Gentry Fox upcoming. And it comes at you quick! From the moment the intro track “Revengeance” slinks away through its Morgan-Freeman style opening, the beats come at you quickly and intensely as Fox displays his talents both on the decks and on the mic through blazing tracks like “Fatalis” and “Adoxography.” What I really appreciate is the old-school feel that comes along with the music of Fox; it’s aggressive, but it’s based completely in hip-hop.
A lot of the combinations of filters on his voice can add some busyness to the mix, but it’s all with a completely intended result; these tracks have a real genuine atmosphere swirling them, and it’s all due to the sheer style of Fox and his rhymes. “Deliverance” will give you a great example of what I mean by all this, and I would also assume that most people will be able to tune themselves into what Gentry is doing after a couple listens. Again – it’s a stylistic choice; you can hear the massive production on the following track “Ascension,” which we’re also playing during the extended review on Gentry Fox on our current episode of SBS Live This Week. The point we were trying to make by playing it? GET this song however you can. With a true display of conviction & belief – Gentry Fox’s delivery on this track is second to none.
Listening to “Memores” definitely confirms that old-school hip-hop vibe hidden in behind these modern-beats. I dig the jazzy aspect of this track; it’s simple and allows for the smooth flow of Fox to come through clearly over the mic echoing its signature swagger. It plays in good combination with the track to follow, “Overground” which brings in some incredibly innovative music with horns and strings backing up the constant beat, perfect verse delivery from Fox and a wicked sample from “The Humpty Dance” from the infamous Digital Underground.
Rare Demo Shit Volume One really seems a lot more thought out than some simple ‘throw-away’ demo songs and sample ideas, there’s a ton of meat on this musical bone. “Downcast” – have a listen to that and you’ll hear the strength and ingenuity of this natural born entertainer. In a down-tempo’d masterstroke, this track includes a sample from Eminem’s “Stan” and really goes on to recreate its own world with a dramatic piece from the movie Fight Club echoing off into the distance as this track fades out to set up the final two tracks in this sonic adventure.
Starting into the finality of the album – “Alive,” to me came out instantly addictive from the moment it started. At this point, I’ve got my ears fully dialed into the flow & style of Fox; and with this incredible backing beat smooth enough to make heads turn, this is a true gem on this album of strong beats & material already on display. Dropping into the more dramatic and dynamic final cut “Forever,” Gentry Fox puts it all on the line for this final track that rises, builds and swells to a massive size. It’s tracks like this where you can hear that hunger, that passion, that commitment that’s going to keep Gentry Fox heading full speed toward the top.
- Jer @ SBS
Find out more about Gentry Fox and the Rare Demo Shit Volume One album on this week’s episode of SBS Live This Week right here: https://vimeo.com/109988504
And follow Gentry Fox’s every move at his official page right here: http://www.gentryfox.com/
The New Ages – The Forest/Destruction Holds The Key - Singles Review
Awesome! Always love to see great musicians still out there making great music! Here we are, with The New Ages gracing our pages once again – it’s been awhile since we’ve heard from them with our last review for their EP Piper Man taking place at nearly this time last year; but still – that’s hardly a complaint. New music from this hardworking band from Birmingham, UK on a yearly basis could certainly only be considered a gift to the ears!
Throughout its subtle beginning, “The Forest,” contains that rhythm and pulse of a single-worthy track right from the moment it starts. This song, through and through, sounds like a complete hit; a simple but perfected vocal flow with an all-out chorus and truly ripping beat connect this track together seamlessly. The frantic, scattered vocals from their vocalist Ant come out perfectly with this track and really capture the intensity through both the lyrics and the delivery. Drums, bass, guitars; The New Ages are all completely at the top of their game in what is clearly a hit-song ready to roll out to the masses.
“Destruction Holds The Key,” made me check that review we had done a year ago on The New Ages. Did I hear all these elements of Rush, hints & notes of Placebo before? Yes. Yes I did. But here’s one that I didn’t that will serve as a great comparison for our Canadian readers out there…The Watchmen. Anyone that knows, remembers & loves their brilliant lo-fi debut called McLaren Furnace Room – The New Ages are certainly designed for your ears as well. It’s the incredible focus in this band that leads these four to victory every time they push record. You can tell from the sheer quality of these songs and their last EP that they clearly don’t release’em until they’re 100% perfect and ready to rock. “Destruction Holds The Key,” is another incredible ripping & thrashing beat from The New Ages with an anthem style chorus that will really ignite the crowd from a live stage.
It’s also clear, The New Ages aren’t going ANYWHERE; if anything they only get tighter & tighter as a unit as they continue to rock over time. We can only hope there’s a full album planned in this next year to come; these two singles are a complete indication that The New Ages are blazing the right trail with their gritty, melodic & inventive rock.
But even if there’s not an album coming…which all of my instincts tell me to seriously doubt…you better believe I’ll be looking forward to this same time around next year when The New Ages are bound to turn up again! But trust my gut – you always have you fine music-fans you…I’d put all my chips on a bet that we’ll hear more from this electrifying UK band a lot sooner than another year from now. With all the energy in their music – there’s no way The New Ages can stay contained for long!
- Jer @ SBS
Find out more about The New Ages at their official page: http://www.thenewages.co.uk
Tome – Nemesis – EP Review
Always interesting to me, is the synchronicity of music & life…how it all comes together so clearly at times… No sooner had I just put down the phone from having a conversation with Tyler Mayfield, lead singer for Vancouver band Lung Flower about their own heavy-rock sound, when I shortly after pushed play into a very similar sound being made from across the globe in Switzerland from the band Tome. Mind you – that similar sound comes through the music only; Tome is completely without vocals, making an intense brooding instrumental-rock that certainly shows depth and some extremely vibrant & strong songwriting.
For the most part – this entire Nemesis EP is completely written, arranged, performed, programmed, recorded & produced by the brainchild behind the music of Tome, Ian S. Cophin. With the exception of the merciless pounding drums provided by Beta Monkey, a poem written by Charles C on “Dark Conspiracy,” as well as some superb guitar work from Roberto Diana featured on “Edge Of The Void,” and “Dark Conspiracy” – everything else you could possibly hear on this enormous sounding EP has come from Cophin direct.
Starting with “Edge Of The Void (Intro)” is extremely cool way to open a new record. Guitar-meets-synth in this delicate track…the melodic calm before the raging storm to come; but in many ways, this track also stands out as one of the most unique and apart from the other four making up the Nemesis EP. At less than two minutes – it’s also the only track on this disc you probably couldn’t finish an entire meal while listening to…the rest all hover around the six minute mark.
That storm comes through the moment track one stops and “The Wayfarer” kicks in. Rhythmic, heavy, distorted…this track accomplishes a lot over these six minutes. What starts with a melodic-metal riff-fest….man, what can I tell you guys….this becomes so much MORE by the end of this sonic journey. Right around the four minute mark, this track just starts to open up and wind down these crazy musical avenues…just excellent guitar-work here…all leading back to that incredibly driving, melodic riff played at twice the intensity right to the end.
I can definitely appreciate the atmospheric textures that Cophin creates. “Dark Conspiracy,” plays out nearly like a alt-blues-rock experiment at times before accelerating into the earth-shattering crescendos. Haunting poetry added, as mentioned before; and an absolutely killer switch with less than a minute to go with Roberto Diana lighting up the guitar on an immaculate solo right to the end – while it all may sound dark, dirty and dank, there’s also no denying the extreme talent in creating an entire world of sonic density. The constant add of melody throughout the music gives it a thin veil of hope no matter how desolate or despairing the sound that any track might find itself in. What’s pulled off in this track, and the track to follow, “Anathema” are true trips into the very musical mind’s eye of Cophin. Heavy grooves, complex rhythms and timing structures…there’s an extraordinary effort here being pulled off sounding effortless.
“The Last Stand,” a track that reminds me much of some of my favorite heavy-rock work in bands like Quicksand and Failure…this is one huge track. Big, BIG fan of the guitar-work & bass together on this one – they play off each other perfectly, finding their way into the open space each time seamlessly. In a couple ways, it would be the most accessible track on the Tome EP with a heavier lean towards the melody & a somewhat-more traditional song-structure.
No one panic. Nemesis didn’t ‘sell-out’ at the end…I said SOMEWHAT…
Overall, it’s an excellent EP and really keeps an ear listening through some wickedly dark & diverse sounds. It’s impossible not to notice but also not to feel the true weight of these songs; the balance between the dark & melodic, the contrast between the brightness of hope & the dirt of the earth. The Nemesis EP from Tome is certainly worth a couple spins in your player with its full set of five heavy-grooves all completely tying into each other and twisting into one incredibly enjoyable, dark & mysterious listening experience.
- Jer @ SBS
Check Tome’s Nemesis EP out right here: https://tomemusic.bandcamp.com/releases
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