Author: Jake Gillen

Blacklisters – BLKLSTRS

Brash, noisy, and sonically blistering, Blacklisters full-length release ‘BLKLSTRS’ is reminiscent of so many of the great hardcore bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s, the post-rock genius of Fugazi and peers, the thrashy Millennials like KONG and Hawk Eyes (a personal favorite!). While nothing herein is groundbreaking or revolutionary, this album’s visceral appeal is undeniable. Starting off a little tongue in cheek, ‘Clubfoot By Kasabian’ (which is not actually a cover of ‘Clubfoot’ by Kasabian, or anything related to that tune at all), this tune was named this way due to the amount of people who, upon hearing the title, responded, ‘Oh, like Kasabian’s song?’ or something like that. Definitely NOT the Kasabian song, this tune has tortured screams, the tell-tale ‘AM Radio Speaker’ effect, tinny small voice over bombastic bass and drums. It’s a great start to this record, which stays strong throughout. Next up is ‘Swords’, which was released in 2011 as a sort of single/preview. I joined their mailing list and got the single as a perquisite! This song has a great, raging and roiling feel, a completely rudimentary yet kickass bass line, and more of the emotionally charged screams. It also has a chorus and pronounced song structure, which is like when someone on TV pretends to suck at roller skating: You actually have to know what you’re doing to pretend you don’t...

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T.R.A.M – Lingua Franca

One of my good friends told me about the fusion jazz act T.R.A.M. a few months back, and I was, frankly, pretty intimidated by the prospect of listening to jazz. It is just not my favorite genre, which may be why I have never explored it at greater depth. Hearing ‘Lingua Franca’ (which is a totally suitable name) has made me wonder what else, in the fusion jazz world, I may have been missing. Maybe this is my ‘gateway drug’ into the harder stuff! T.R.A.M. is a supergroup of sorts, with members of Animals as Leaders, a Mars Voltan, and a Suicidal (Tendencies that is) drummer comprising the band. I already was fairly familiar with Animals as Leaders, and their particular brand of progressive metal is already very jazz-like in some respects. For T.R.A.M., it’s the woodwinds, courtesy of Adrian Terrazas (The Mars Volta), that help the music into the realm of true jazz. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit to not only not being well-versed in jazz, but also not a fan of saxophones and clarinets (which feature prominently on ‘Lingua Franca’). I have come to the conclusion that it is not that I don’t like these instruments, it’s that I have not heard them played in a way that touched me. Played as they are here, with metal riffing and superb drumming, I find sax,...

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The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet

The Mars Volta’s latest “Noctourniquet” has already been the subject of quite a bit of debate among my music-geek friends and associates. One former The Mars Volta die-hard fan, a close friend of mine, mourned their ‘death’ on Facebook last week, stating that they have become creatively bankrupt (or something similar). I don’t happen to agree that this band no longer has anything to offer us, creatively, but I think “Noctourniquet” is, overall, not their best. Again, never a band to follow convention, “Noctourniquet” is a concept album, which in mainstream music almost always means (and has almost always meant) career suicide, but I don’t get the feeling The Mars Volta worry about that. The story behind “Noctourniquet” is pretty esoteric, even when Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the vocalist, sort of explains. I won’t go too much into his explanation, as it has already been widely written about, but at very least, combining a nursery rhyme (Solomon Grundy), with Greek myth (Hyacinthus) is intriguing. Less intriguing, unfortunately, is some rather average drumming from Deantoni Parks, on his first outing as The Mars Volta’s drummer. Maybe we got spoiled on some of the earlier TMV albums, which featured some true virtuosos behind the kit. So far it seems that this drummer is of lesser ilk than some previous drummers. Not so evident to me was the lack of John Frusciante guitars, a mainstay...

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Gypsyblood – Cold In The Guestway

Gypsyblood is an interesting and intriguing mix of Goth, Post-Punk, and Noise Rock all rolled into a surprisingly accessible package; I knew of them before taking on this review, but didn’t have the pleasure of having heard them before. Their sound, which I mentioned before is pretty diverse, reminded me a lot of the New Wave from the UK mostly, and made me feel both old and a little nostalgic. Deeper into the album, aspects of Lo-fi and Garage mix pleasingly with avant/noise reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. Intriguing for certain, and in spite of my rather clichéd comparisons, worthy of serious listens for fans of any or all of these genres. I mentioned that Gypsyblood has a very British New Wave, post-punk sound, but they are actually from Chicago, USA, and are signed to Sargent House (the Major of Indies!). If I had not done some research and read up on the members of Gypsyblood, I would have bet money that they were a UK or Irish band. I guess once you’ve heard Green Day (Yanks) imitating Stiff Little Fingers’ vocalist, Jake Burns, all bets around accents are off. It’s almost immediately clear that Gypsyblood don’t take themselves as seriously as many bands do. On ‘My R.K.O. Is M.I.A’, an upbeat gem with machine-gun punk rock drum rolls, the main vocal during the chorus is accented by a...

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Trigon – 2011

Every time I listen to the latest record from veteran ‘Jam-a-Delic’ German rockers Trigon, I wonder how in the hell I could have missed this band over the last quarter-century it has been in existence. HOW? Unfortunately for me, it’s probably due to the fact that they are German (I’m in the US), and also due to the fact that their music is almost entirely instrumental, which was not something I sought out in my formative (musically-speaking of course) years. Let me just say, now that I know about the brothers Lange (Rainer on guitar and Stefan on Bass)...

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