THE WHITE SWAN: Atmospheric Sludge Rock Trio Featuring Members Of Kittie And More To Release Nocturnal Transmission EP This Fall; New Video Playing At Revolver

[photo by Kandiss Bradley]

“…a gauzy, atmospheric brand of sludgy doomgaze…” — Revolver

View / Share THE WHITE SWAN’s “In Love And Ritual” Video HERE.

London, Ontario-based atmospheric sludge rock unit THE WHITE SWAN, spearheaded by Kittie’s Mercedes Lander, will release their entrancing Nocturnal Transmission EP September 18th.

The EP’s four tracks see the trio – Lander with Kira Longeuay and Shane Jeffers (Bloodmoon Collective) — wearing their collective heart on their sleeves, delivering over twenty minutes of sprawling, melodic sound waves. In December 2019, the band recorded three songs and a cover (Tracy Bonham’s “Tell It To The Sky”) of what can only be described as love songs. Lander has penned lyrics that chronicle the joy, desire, longing, and eventual feeling of completeness that comes with a romantic relationship. From the night drives through the snow in the early days, right through to the handcrafted guitar built as a wedding gift from her now husband, the intricacies of true love permeate every moment of Nocturnal Transmission

Reprising a long-time creative relationship with producer Siegfried Meier, Lander felt both at home and re-energized by the familiarity and collaborative nature of their work. Recording took just two days, retaining many of the hallmarks of THE WHITE SWAN‘s earlier output, but adding a slightly polished sheen to the proceedings. With vocal layering and touches of psychedelic synths adding textural elements to the songs, the result is an enveloping experience of fuzzed out guitars and molasses-like melody. Describing Nocturnal Transmission as a “turning point” for the band, the album art by collage artist Caitlyn Grabenstein reflects the feeling of standing on the precipice, staring into the unknown. Acknowledging that there will always be a constant sound to THE WHITE SWAN, Lander states that their main intention is to “grow and grow.” With an ever-developing sound and a solid combination of creative musicians in their ranks, Nocturnal Transmission is the latest in what is sure to be an ever expanding back catalog of triumphs. 

In advance of the release of Nocturnal Transmission, the band is pleased to unveil a video for opening track, “In Love And Ritual.” Now playing at Revolver, Lander elaborates, “‘In Love And Ritual’ is about finding the person that completes you and the journey of realizing how having that person in your life teaches us to become brand new; kind of like a rebirth of feeling and emotional connection. I really wanted to create space with this song, keeping the roller coaster of dynamics in the forefront with a touch of chaos running in the background. Having the lyrics and melody build with the music and really complement each other.” 

View THE WHITE SWAN’s “In Love And Ritual,” courtesy of Revolver, at THIS LOCATION.

Nocturnal Transmission will be released digitally and on limited edition vinyl via War Crime Recordings. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION.

Nocturnal Transmission Track Listing:

1. In Love And Ritual

2. Nocturnal Transmission

3. Purple

4. Tell It To The Sky (Tracy Bonham cover)

THE WHITE SWAN:

Mercedes Lander – drums, vocals, keyboards, guitar

Shane Jeffers – guitar

Kira Longeuay – bass

Blu-ray Review: Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

Right off the bat let me start with the fact that “Castle Rock” fans are going to be pretty disappointed with this release. First of all the first season of “Castle Rock” was released in 4K UHD, so where is the 4K release for season two? I guess we know sales weren’t as expected, I assume. Either way season two is a far superior than than the first. Let’s just say that Lizzie Caplan knocks it outta the park with her performance. So, great season but I am sure fans like myself were hoping for that 4K release as well.

Studio description: Stephen King’s multiverse, Castle Rock, is a place which combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of the best-selling author’s best-loved works. In season two, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes (Lizzie Caplan, Masters of Sex), Stephen King’s nurse from hell, gets waylaid in the small town of Castle Rock. Local businessman Reginald “Pop” Merrill (played by Academy® Award-winning actor Tim Robbins – Mystic River) is dragged into the fight, when Pop’s nephew, legendary bully John “Ace” Merrill (Paul Sparks, House of Cards), stirs up trouble. It’s another eerily unforgettable season of Castle Rock, as the mysterious town’s ongoing epic saga continues to unfold.

Season two of Castle Rock also stars Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) as Abdi Howlwadaag, Yusra Warsama as Dr. Nadia Howlwadaag, Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) as Joy and Matthew Alan as Chris Merrill (Snowfall, 13 Reasons Why).

Along with the ten one-hour episodes, the special features on the release are really sad. There is no commentary tracks included, which I am sure fans would have dug. All we get is new featurette called “ANNIE WILKES: Mother of Sorrow”, which runs about ten minutes. The Blu-ray itself still looks good even though its not 4K. The 1080p transfer is solid and sharp, works well with dark scenes. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks also carry the seasons mystery and suspense well.

10 One-Hour Episodes:

  1. Let the River Run
  2. New Jerusalem
  3. Ties that Bind
  4. Restore Hope
  5. The Laughing Place
  6. The Mother
  7. The Word
  8. Dirty
  9. Caveat Emptor
  10. Clean

Start a Band and Get Your Rock On

If you thought about starting a band for a long time but didn’t have the courage, perhaps these ideas and tips can help you with the process. If music is your passion and you want to play for the masses, there is no better moment than now to start living your dream. Here is how to do it:

Step 1: Find your bandmates

You need your enthusiasm to be shared by at least two or three other members to form a cool band, so look for people who sing and play all day long, without looking for a profit out of it.

People who play an instrument or sing just for the sake of it are more valuable because they are driven 100% by their passion and by how music makes them feel. Traditionally, any band has a guitarist, a drummer, a bassist, and a singer, but there are many other variations, depending on the sound you’re looking for.

You can also integrate horn players, pianists, violinists, or those who play more than one instrument. Or, the lead singer can also be the guitarist. No matter the formation, make sure your band clicks, and all the members get along well.

If you’re still short on people, one easy way to find your future band members is to make posters or post ads online. Talk about the sound and what kind of musicians you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to host auditions until you find the perfect match or go out on a scout yourself. Generally, bars and venues that host open music nights and talent shows are a good place to start.

Step 2: Find a cool name

Or an unusual name. Or something that doesn’t even make sense. No matter your option, the band is what represents you, so it should be unique, just like its members.

The band’s name should also be easy to pronounce in any language and not rhyme with obvious offensive or bad words. You also want to refrain from choosing a name that is open to jokes, especially if you want to be taken seriously by your fans and by recording labels. Pick something sexy, pick something a bit obscure, and, for what it’s worth, stick to one-two words.

Sure, you can find exceptions in any field, and Five Finger Death Punch or Red Hot Chili Peppers are all great band names. On the other hand, so is Queen, The Scorpions, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Abba, Mötley Crüe, and others.

Step 3: Have the right attire

A band needs good instruments, so make sure you’re up for spending several thousands of dollars on recording equipment and high-tech instruments, as well as amps and other accessories. The drum set Alesis DM6 should be a good start for drummers, while guitarists can always rely on instruments from Ibanez or Yamaha if they cannot afford the limited editions of the Les Paul Gibson guitars.

Step 4: Find a place to practice

Many popular bands started playing in old garages or house basements, so don’t dismiss these opportunities if you cannot afford to rent a professional studio or build one in your home. The key behind any practice space is to have good acoustics and to be big enough to fit all your equipment, without having to constantly watch the wires and the gear.

You should be ready for long playing sessions, especially before a gig or when you’re trying to come up with a new song, which means space should also include a couch and a few chairs to rest your eyes once in a while.

And, if you’re using a space near other people, soundproofing the room should be your number one concern. Don’t forget that you can also play with your headphones on but only when you’re practicing alone.

Step 5: Write music

Don’t be afraid to experiment with new sounds, instruments, or effects, as long as the final version of the song sounds good for you. Write down every piece of music that pops into your head or brainstorm for ideas with the help of your band members. Rewrite every solo and part of the song until it sounds right and embrace critics from your family members and close friends.

If you already established a fanbase, you can also ask them for help or for their opinion, to make sure the results are what you were looking for.

Help Us Put Todd Rundgren Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!

Hello…it’s me!

A few weeks ago I noted in a review of a concert I attended that Todd Rundgren was CRIMINALLY NOT IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. The time has come to change that.

Apparently someone at the hall took notice because this year Rundgren is one of the nominees for election. Right now he’s trailing in the vote (apparently only five performers/bands are inducted each year) so I’m asking everyone of our readers to click HERE and vote for Rundgren. The man has been a major influence on the rock and roll scene, both as a performer and a producer, for almost five decades. He deserves a place among the very best because he is among the very best. Thank you!!

Romantic Rock and Vans Footwear To Host “The Art Of Shoes” At Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show Saturday, December 21 In Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA — Romantic Rock’s highly anticipated Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show makes its return to Los Angeles later this month, with a grand opening night and red carpet artist reception onSaturday, December 21 at Self Help Graphics & Art. This annual art exhibition celebrates the fine art and photography of creatives who share a passion for both music and art, and this year has partnered with Vans Footwear to give back to the community through “The Art Of Shoes.” 

“The Art Of Shoes” will feature one-of-a-kind designs painted onto Vans shoes by Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show participating artists and other iconic punk rock musicians. Each pair of Vans shoes will be auctioned off, starting at $200 per pair, with all proceeds benefiting The Sidewalk Project, a Los Angeles non-profit whose initiative is to enrich the lives of the Los Angeles houseless community. “Each band and artist that is a part of this project is giving their time to support both The Sidewalk Projectand Punk Rock & Paintbrushes, and we are SO honored to have every single artist joining us,” says Emily T. Nielsen, founder of both Romantic Rock and Punk Rock & Paintbrushes. “Every artist on this project is connected to us and that is what this is about…the punk rock ART community.” 

Musicians and artists participating in “The Art Of Shoes” at the Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show include: Mike Ness of Social DistortionNoodles of The OffspringPete Wentz of Fall Out BoyMatt Skiba of blink-182 and Alkaline TrioAlisonMosshart of The Kills, Dan Pawlovich of Panic! At The DiscoWarren Fitzgerald of The VandalsEric Melvin of NOFXChristianJacobs of The AquabatsJennie Cotterill of Bad Cop / Bad CopPete Dee of The AdictsMatt Hensley of Flogging MollyEric Wilson of SublimeJason Cruz of Strung OutJared Watson of DIrty HeadsJen Razavi of The BombpopsJohnny NessSoma SnakeoilSteve CaballeroChadCantColor, and Chris Shary + LoriHerbst

These wearable works of art will be available online for early bidding starting on Saturday, December 14 at www.32auctions.com/SIDEWALKOn December 21 at the 

Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show opening night, the shoes will be on display with updated prices reflecting the online bids. The auction will be open for onsite live bidding until 11pm on December 21st, and again the next day from 11am to 4pmOn December 22 at 4pm the auction will close, and shoes will be awarded to the highest bidders. 

Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show will feature multiple original works, prints and more from select artists in the music community including Tim Armstrong, Matt Henlsey, Carla Harvey, Jim Lindberg,AlisonMosshart, Soma Snakeoil, Natalia Fabia, Johnny Ness, Sara Wright, and many others, along with music from special guest DJs including Noodles of The OffspringJonny “Two Bags” Wickersham of Social DistortionStacey Dee of Bad Cop / Bad Cop, and Joe Sib of SideOneDummy Records. The night will also boast a full cocktail bar, a coffee booth featuring Oakland Coffee, red carpet, photo booth, live body painting, and more. 

To RSVP to this all ages event, please visit: https://prpb2019.eventbrite.com The Punk Rock & Paintbrushes art exhibition will also be open on Sunday, December 22 from 11am to 5pm, and will feature musical performances from Warren Fitzgerald (of The Vandals) and friends of “The Sidewalk Project,” DJ RyToast of Tyrone’s JacketBent Duo and State To State

Sponsors for Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show include: Oakland Coffee (founded by Green Day), AO Hemp (owned/founded by Nathen Maxwell of Flogging Molly), Punk Rock Bowling, The Sidewalk Project, KROQ, Vans Footwear, and Jägermeister.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Rock of Ages”

ROCK OF AGES
Starlight Theater - Kansas City, Missouri
May 31, 2019

My first Broadway show was “42nd Street” in 1981. Yes, I’m old. But I’m also able to tell people that I saw Jerry Orbach on Broadway. And Julie Andrews. And Chita Rivera. But enough about me. I’ve seen plenty of shows in the past three-plus decades but I have never seen anything as fun and exciting as “Rock of Ages.”

Our story begins in the small town of Paola, Kansas. Yes, it’s a real town and, yes, it’s really small. My son’s baseball team used to play there every year and I remember the big hoopla when Walmart showed up! We meet Sherrie (Katie LaMark). She’s a small town girl…living in a lonely world. And her dream is to make it to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Despite her parent’s disapproval she heads west and ends up on the Sunset Strip. She is soon mugged and is rescued by Drew (Anthony Nuccio). Drew works at the Bourbon Club, famous for helping launch the careers of many a band. Drew gets Sherrie a job and soon….well, you’ll have to see the show.

Drew (Anthony Nuccio) and Sherrie (Katie LaMark) share a dream of stardom.

I’ve been seeing shows at Starlight for years, and this was, by far, the BEST one I’ve ever seen there. I had only seen the film so I wasn’t prepared for my evening at the Bourbon Club. The music is all classic 80s rock and metal hits. Pretty much every band you can remember is represented. Except, ironically, Def Leppard, whose hit song gives the show it’s name. We are told by the Narrator (an amazing John-Michael Breen) that there is no Leppard in the show because the band wouldn’t license their music. Ironic, isn’t it?

The performances were also outstanding. As Sherrie and Drew, LaMark and Nuccio have a strong chemistry and an underlying sweetness that has you rooting for them. Both also have great voices. During “Oh, Sherrie” Mr. Nuccio held one note for an amazing 33 seconds, which brought the already enthusiastic audience to near euphoria. I would love to see him tackle the lead in “Jekyll and Hyde.” And extra credit to Ms. LaMark for dealing with a major technical glitch (her face mic was not working at the beginning of Act II and, with her character having to remain on stage for some time, delivered a strong performance using a hand-held microphone. Also credit to the tech crew because, in the few seconds she was able to go off-stage, the problem was corrected. Fine performances were also delivered by the supporting cast, with many in the audience falling under the spell of Sam Harvey, who plays quintessential (and problem child) front man Stacee Jaxx – which is possibly the coolest rock star name ever. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the kick-ass band that provides the music.

John-Michael Breen

I’m saving this paragraph for the highlight of the show – John-Michael Breen. He not only narrates the show but appears as the Bourbon Club’s sound guy, Lonny. Lonny loves three things. Rock and Roll and his Fogmaster 5000 fog machine are two of them. Mr. Breen gives the show the majority of it’s laughs and both the cast and the audience feed off of his enthusiasm. I will definitely keep an eye on his career and hope to catch him on stage in the future.

As I said in the beginning, I’ve seen some great Broadway shows, from “Phantom” to “Les Miz” – from “Cats” to “Spamalot – and “Rock of Ages” has definitely jumped onto my all-time favorites list.

Curtain Call

“Rock of Ages” is only in Kansas City through Sunday, June 2nd. For information on upcoming tour dates, click HERE.

Romantic Rock Announces Third Annual Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show

Romantic Rock Announces Third Annual
Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show
Opening Night Reception on Saturday, December 15 in Los Angeles, CA

Exhibition to Showcase Pieces From Artists In The Music Community
Including Matt Skiba, Hunter Burgan, Soma Snakeoil,
Steve Caballero, Natalia Fabia, Matt Hensley and more!

Romantic Rock is pleased to announce that their Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show will be returning to Los Angeles, CA for its third year. Celebrating the fine art of creatives who share a passion for both music and art, Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show will feature artwork from Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio and Blink-182, Hunter Burgan of AFI, Soma Snakeoil, Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals, Matt Hensley of Flogging Molly, Carla Harvey of Butcher Babies, Jennie Cotterill of Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Kevin Seconds of 7 Seconds, Mike Gallo of Agnostic Front, professional skateboarders Steve Caballero of The Faction, Mike Smith, and Christian Hosoi, artists Natalia Fabia, Paul Kobriger, The Mad Twins: Olya & Vira Ishchuk, Chris Shary and photographer Madison Stern. Each artist will have multiple original pieces, prints, and much more.

The opening night and artist reception will occur on Saturday, December 15th at Innerspace Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles. From 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. the Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show will feature music throughout the night from resident DJs and special guest DJs including Noodles of The Offspring, Monique Powell of Save Ferris, Stacey Dee-J of Bad Cop / Bad Cop, and more! The event will also boast a full cocktail bar provided by Bulleit, a coffee cart, red carpet, photo booth, and more. This event is free and open to all ages, but RSVP is required. To RSVP, please visit: www.eventbrite.com/e/punk-rock-paintbrushes-2018-tickets-51212566164

Emily T. Nielsen, founder of both Romantic Rock and Punk Rock & Paintbrushes says, “Punk Rock & Paintbrushes is an incredible event to showcase these talented individuals through art and photography. We are taking their talent from the stage to the walls and showcasing it to the world. I am excited to work with each of these artists to support their art in our punk rock ways.”

“Last year’s Punk Rock & Paintbrushes event was amazing so when they asked if I wanted to DJ again this year I jumped at it,” says Noodles of The Offspring. “There’s going to be even more artists showing their work this year, and I’ll be DJing with Monique Powell and Stacy Dee. Great people, great art, and great music. It’s gonna be a blast.”

Butcher Babies vocalist Carla Harvey adds, “I love being a part of the Punk Rock & Paintbrushes family because of the sheer variety of art involved. You’ll find a fine art oil painting next to one of my glistening copic marker vaginas. The juxtaposition is what art is all about.”

A look at last year’s Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/249004910/adc8080569

Punk Rock & Paintbrushes will also be donating 10% of all sales during their December 15 opening night reception to The Sidewalk Project, a Los Angeles non-profit whose initiative is to enrich the lives of the Los Angeles’ houseless community. Through various mediums including art, music and film, The Sidewalk Project aims to be socially active in houseless communities around the world. They work directly on the street to share in a sense of connection and well-being. A video providing a more intimate look at The Sidewalk Project can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLMoZm9ddCA

Funds donated from the Punk Rock & Painbrushes Holiday Art Show will go directly to the streets and also assist with providing the art mural to Skid Row the very next day, working with houseless artists and the community at the “Holiday Sidewalk Party.” Punk Rock & Paintbrushes will also be raffling off a collaborative art piece created by PRPB artists, with all profits to benefit The Sidewalk Project. More information on the “Holiday Sidewalk Party” on December 16 can be found at: www.instagram.com/The_Sidewalk_Project

The Innerspace Gallery is located in downtown Los Angeles at 110 Winston Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The Punk Rock & Paintbrushes group art exhibition will also be open on Sunday, December 16 from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sponsors for Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show include: KROQ, Bulleit, Stickevape, The Sidewalk Project, and Romantic Rock.

For more information, visit:
https://www.instagram.com/punkrockandpaintbrushes
https://www.instagram.com/romanticrock/
http://romanticrock.net/

Guitarist Michael Landau Talks About His New Solo Album “Rock Bottom”

Michael Landau is world renowned session musician and producer who has worked with everyone from James Taylor and Michael Jackson to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis. Outside of his work as a session player Michael has released a hand full of solo albums and on February 23rd will release his newest solo album titled “Rock Bottom”. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Michael recently about the albums creation, his studio work and his touring plans for 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some details on your new solo album “Rock Bottom”?

Michael Landau: My last couple of albums had been instrumental albums. With this new one I reunited with my old pale David Frazee who I played with in Burning Water in the 90’s. We wrote a bunch of tunes and I got to rock again. I wanted to do vocal music again and put out something that had a little harder edge to it. We did this album to actual tape as I still have a tape machine in my studio. The album has a real nice creamy tape sound that’s just big and gooey.

AL: Are the songs that made it on the album all newly written songs or are there some that have been around for awhile?

ML: A few years ago I got together with my brother Teddy and Alan Hertz as I had some tunes I had written and we recorded those over the course of a couple days. It took me awhile to getting to finish those however once I reunited with David things came together pretty quickly and we also started to write new material.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit more about who you have playing on the album with you?

ML: The drummer is Alan Hertz who has toured with throughout the years. My brother Teddy who doesn’t really play professionally is a rock solid bass player. I love the way he plays as he has a really big tone. He actually co-wrote a couple of the songs on the album. David and I did those three or four records together in the 90’s and he is just a great vocalist and lyricist. He writes really interesting melodies and I am just a big fan of his. Also playing organ on the record is Larry Goldings. Any record I do I try and get him on there as he is one of my all time favorite musicians.

AL: When you are working with a group or on your own where do you traditionally start with your songwriting process?

ML: I play a lot every day. I don’t have a real practice regime or anything but I do play around the house quite a bit. Songs always start with some kind of riff. There was one song I wrote titled “Freedom” which is this sort of spooky ballad that I had lyrics for first. Mostly things start with toying around with riffs that come about when I am playing at home. From there I will edit them and move things around until everything comes together.

AL: Having done predominately instrumental albums over the last few years, what was it like delving back in to lyrical based music?

ML: David did most of the vocal on the record. I would say he wrote probably seventy percent of lyrics as well. There are one or two tunes that I sing but I don’t think I wrote the lyrics for those. It’s fun for sure as I enjoy singing if it’s a range I am comfortable with. Lyrics are fun for me to write even though I don’t write them that often.

AL: With you having done a lot of work/playing for other musicians how do you go about putting your personal touches on someone else’s material?

ML: One of the things I think I do well is backing up a vocalist. I try and contribute parts that will enhance the material while still being respectful of the tune. I kind of pride myself on being able to do that quite well. For a long time when I was doing sessions people would hire me as they had an idea of what I was about sonically so when you go in there you have to sort of fit in but push and add to things without taking anything away. Overtime with experience I learned that being able to edit myself made things quicker rather than having whoever I was working with at the time have to do it.

AL: The album is set for release in late February. What are your plans once it is out?

ML: The plan is certainly to get out there and play this material live. Europe is obviously easier for a musician like me to put together a tour over there. We actually have a nice four week run of shows set up over there in support of the album. We are looking at hitting Asia also this year along with some dates here in the States. After that I will be touring Europe with the Steve Gadd band right after my tour finishes’ so I will be over there for quite a bit. I have some more James Taylor duties to handle this year as well and those start in either April or May. There have been talks to end that tour by doing a couple shows with the Eagles so that should be really great.

For more info on Michael Landau you can visit his official site at www.mikelandau.com

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Book Review: “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” by Scott Ian

“Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life”
Author: Scott Ian
Da Capo
Hardcover: 243 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Anthrax guitarist and co-founder Scott Ian has seen his share of dive hotels, dirty tour buses and decrepit green rooms. “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” is a collection of his craziest stories recounting Ian’s life on the road as a touring musician. Along the way the guitarist shares his experiences and encounters with celebrities like Kirk Hammett, Dimebag Darrell, David Lee Roth and Steven Spielberg to name just a few.

As the follow up to his autobiography “I’m The Man” guitarist Scott Ian takes readers even further into the depths of the heavy metal underworld. Unlike Ian’s first book which was a more biography than tell all where “Access All Areas” is the total opposite recounting in detail some of the writers more interesting encounters. Very rarely do you get to hear let alone read in published form stories like those shared by the veteran guitarist. From his experiences as a Pro Poker player playing alongside Kiss’s Ace Frehley and ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill to a confrontational meeting with REM front man Michael Stipe. Easily my favorite excert from the book was that where Ian sets the record straight about his guest appearance on “Married with Children” which was to include a story line featuring Christina Applegate.

Over the course of “Access All Areas” 243 pages readers are treated to a bevy of laughable stories that have not been shared before. As I made my way through the book I just kept thinking that even having one or two of these experiences in a life time would be enough for most people but to be able to compile enough for a book was mind blowing. Scott Ian has certainly to this point lived quiet an interesting life full of off the wall experiences which he has candidly detailed in this book. You don’t have to be a fan of heavy metal to enjoy this book as there are plenty of other colorful characters outside of the music world that you will surely recognize making “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” a great pickup for any and all.

Blu-ray Review “Rock Dog”

Actors: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson
Directors: Ash Brannon
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Rock Dog” is the latest in the cheap animated films that get zero promotion and then slapped with an American cast. This one does actually pack some talent with Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, and Kenan Thompson but unfortunately the film is just completely forgettable and not worth your time. Young kids might like the music but parents will tear their hair out.

Official Premise: When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events.

“Rock Dog” comes as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD and Digital HD copy included. The Blu-ray specs are solid. The 1080p transfer is solid for the CG animation and the colors are vibrant though doesn’t make it feel any less cheap. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is a great track for the music in the film and works well.

The special features includes are not as bad as I would have expected. There are four featurettes included. The first “Finding the Fire: The Making of Rock Dog” takes us through the production. “Mic Check: Casting the Voices” looks at the cast. “A Rockin’ New World: Animating Rock Dog” shows how our characters were made. The last “Rock Dog and Roll: Exploring the Music” focus on the tunes in the film. Lastly there is a music video included for the track “Glorious”.

Book Review: “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars” by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

“From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”
Author: Virginia Hanlon Grohl
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 204 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When Virginia Hanlon Grohl first saw her son perform in front of thousands of screaming fans she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. And as Virginia watched her son’s star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children’s fame? Did they worry about their children’s livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children’s passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour?

All those answers and more are contained in “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”. Over the course of the books 204 pages you get a unique behind the scenes look like never before. However not from the stars themselves but from their mothers! Yes that’s right their mothers. Along with author Hanlon Grohl own story of motherhood we hear from other moms including Verna Griffin (Dr. Dre), Janis Winehouse (Amy Winehouse), Hester Diamond (Mike D of the Beastie Boys) and Bettye Moses and Harriette Brown (mother & step mother of Zac Brown) as they recount the years before, during and after their sons and daughters became house hold names. I don’t recall a book like this ever being released which adds to the appeal because who is better to ask about those earlier childhood years than one’s own mom.

The candid firsthand accounts are what really kept me turning page after page. “From Cradle to Stage” is a fun, fast read unlike any biography I have come across before. While the book does a great job showcasing several mothers’ journeys its underlying story about the bond between parents and children is its greatest attribute. Not only is this a great read for parents but also for anyone looking for a different look at some of music’s biggest artists and the moms who impacted their lives.

 

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Members of White Zombie, Queens Of The Stone Age, Primus, Ministry and More Expose Truths in New Tell-All Documentary About 90’s Alternative Rock

UNDERGROUND INC.: The Unsung Story of Alternative Rock
 
Members of White Zombie, Queens Of The Stone Age, Primus, Ministry and More Expose Truths in New Tell-All Documentary About 90’s Alternative Rock
 
Watch the Official Film Trailer Here
 
Make UNDERGROUND INC. a Reality by Supporting via Kickstarter
It was the early 90’s – seemingly out of nowhere, a little grunge band called Nirvana began outselling massive commercial artists like Michael Jackson. This immediately caught the attention of the giant record companies. These small underground bands branded as ‘alternative’ or ‘post-punk’, went from being inconsequential to being potential behemoths in record sales – and the hunt began.
 
Hungrily sweeping for the next Nirvana, a buying frenzy ensued as small indie labels were bought out by the commercial labels on a never before seen scale. A&R execs would see random alt-rock bands perform in a bar and appear after their set offering unheard of financial offers and immediate global exposure. It seemed these band members were set for life – so what happened?
 
Verity is revealed in UNDERGROUND INC.: The Unsung Story of Alternative Rock, an upcoming documentary destined to be the ultimate look at the alternative punk and metal scene in the 90’s, and a must see for serious music lovers. Told by the artists who pioneered a sonic subculture, this feature-length documentary tells the real story of the 90’s – exposing viewers to an amazing catalog of the era’s rarities and buried treasures, while re-living the struggles, triumphs and tragedies, as well as the debauchery. UNDERGROUND INC. will dig beneath the manufactured truth to explore what really happened, exploring a time unlike any other in the music industry!
 
UNDERGROUND INC. features interviews with members of seminal 90’s rock, punk and metal groups such as White Zombie, Queens Of The Stone Age, Primus, Bad Religion, Stone Sour, Clutch, Red Fang, Failure, Ministry, Quicksand, Helmet, Steve Albini, Sepultura and dozens more. Viewers are getting an in-depth, raw look at the scene from musicians who were at the forefront.
 
 
UNDERGROUND INC.‘s original music is composed by Peter Mengede (Helmet), Grammy nominated record producer Alex Newport (The Mars Volta, Bloc Party, Death Cab For Cutie) and Mark Bradridge.
 
In order to get this documentary out of the creation stages and into the homes of music lovers, the creators of UNDERGROUND INC. have launched a Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter campaign will run for 32 days, and the project goal is $40,000.
 

Concert Review: “Make America Rock Again Tour”

“Make America Rock Again Tour”

Trapt, Saving Abel, Saliva, Alien Ant Farm, Crazy Town, Tantric, 12 Stones
Friday, September 16th 2016
Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 2 out of 5 Stars

Trapt, Saliva, Saving Abel, Alien Ant Farm, Crazy Town, Tantric and 12 Stones all made their way to the quaint town of Big Flats, NY on September 16th as part of the “Make America Rock” tour. Despite the tour package boasting some of the biggest artist of the early 2000nds the night came up short making for a rather dull concert experience.

 

Taking the stage first was the group 12 Stones. The group probably had one of if not thee toughest spot on the bill as concert goers were still filing into the spacious outdoor venue and also waiting in line for their choice of tasty beverages so, needless to say the attention at this time was focused elsewhere. Despite these obstacles that band still appeared to give their all and should be commended for their efforts. Next up was the group Tantric whose song “Breakdown” dominated the airwaves in 2001 and still receives regular play to this day. The groups set seemed to be plagued by technical difficulties making vocalist Hugo Ferreira hard to hear almost the entire set. Luckily the technical setbacks did little to kill the crowds growing momentum though and the group forged ahead with their 5 song set. Crazy Town would be up next and surprisingly I thought had the best set of the night. Not only did the group display a tremendous amount of energy but they also appeared extremely well rehearsed which made their set undoubtedly my favorite of the night.

 

Alien Ant Farm was next on the bill and put on a performance that sort of had people scratching their heads. The bands front man Dryden Mitchell awkwardly milled about the stage while his band mates remained relatively immobile. Even during the bands hit cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” the band seemed less than interested in being there making their 7 song set list about 7 songs too long. The latest incarnation of Saliva which now consists of Wayne Swinny, Paul Crosby, Bobby Amaru and Brad Stewart would be up next and easily had the second best set of the night. Despite having a soft spot for the bands original line up the current bands configuration did a solid job as they blasted thorough their list of hit songs which included “Always” and of course “Click Click Boom” which closed out the nights set. Mississippi natives Saving Abel would be up next and put on a performance that sort of followed suit with the evening as it came of flat and at times a bit forced. Vocalist Scott Austin’s attempts to be the “crazed front man” were pretty lame and did little to entice the crowd who by this point of the night were running on fumes. However they did come alive briefly for the bands performance of the hit song “Addicted”. Trapt would close out the night this evening which in my mind was a bit questionable however, it was what it was and away the band went with a set that was just as flat as the previous bands performance. Of course the crowd appreciated hearing “Head Strong” but other than that both the band and the remaining crowd seemed to force themselves through the remaining moments of the night.
When a lineup of bands that all had their fair share of hits and exposure join together for a tour after having been away from the public eye for some time you would hope that each of the bands come out swinging and with their best feet forward. Sadly that was not the case for the “Make America Rock Again” tour. Despite solid performances from Crazy Town and Saliva the remaining 5 act seemed to do little for the medium sized audience who ventured to Big Flats making me wonder if everyone had gotten their money’s worth. I can’t say I would be down for checking out another show however if you want to throw caution to the wind and a little cash as well the tour will be out on the road through mid October for you to check out.

 

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Book Review: Keith Morris’s “My Damage: The Story of a True Punk Rock Survivor”

“My Damage: The Story of a True Punk Rock Survivor”
Author: Keith Morris w/ Jim Ruland
Da Capo Press
Hardcover: 309 pages

Our score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Keith Morris is known the world over as the real deal, a seminal figure in hardcore punk, revered by any fan of the genre. As a co-founding member of Black Flag and as the front man for the seminal west coast punk band Circle Jerks “My Damage” is a memoir that covers not only covers Keith’s forty-year history in music but also his struggles with his health and drug use, told straight through the eyes of someone who shared the stage with just about every major figure in the industry.

From page 1 to page 309 “My Damage” keeps the reader’s attention making this a hard book to put down. Through candid accounts of Black Flag/Circle Jerks front man Keith Morris’s early struggles within the Hermosa Beach community to the reincarnation of “FLAG” close to 40 years later the book covers immense ground in an easy to follow format which for readers who may not be as familiar with Morris’s work is a great feature. The books drive matches that of the author as it moves quickly and is unrelenting in details. No matter how edgy or unsettling the story may be Morris pulls no punches and tells the story as it was from his perspective. No phony names or reader friendly versions here folks.

The sheer realness of “My Damage” makes this book appealing to not only punk rock music fans but to readers looking for a candid takes-no prisoners approach to storytelling. Keith cuts out the unneeded drab and quickly gets to the guts of his life and his experiences in the music business. At times over shadowing those story is his struggles with drugs and alcohol which at several points made me question just how the author is still with us and able to recount his journey in detail he does. “My Damage: The Story of a True Punk Rock Survivor” is a must read for biography and music fans.

 

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Concert Review: Freedom To Rock Tour

“Freedom To Rock Tour”

Kiss, The Dead Daisies
Monday, August 29th 2016
Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Kiss blasted in to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY on August 29th as part of their Freedom to Rock 2016 summer tour. Along with the make-up clad Rock and Roll Hall of Famers was veteran rock super group The Dead Daisies. After an 18 year hiatus from the “Flower City” Both bands brought their A game to the near capacity crowd proving their return was long overdue.

Kicking off the night were The Dead Daisies a group whose current roster is made up former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi, Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, fellow Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy, former Ted Nugent/Thin Lizzy bassist Marco Mendoza and Australian guitarist David Lowy. The group seemed to be the perfect opener for the assembled Kiss Army as the band’s sound was the perfect blending of both classic and new rock tones. The hour long set featured original material from the group’s latest album “Make Some Noise” along with a sprinkling of covers which included a beefed up rendition of the Credence Clearwater Revival classic “Fortune Son” along with an in your face version of The Beatles “Helter Skelter” which the fans seemed to really dig. The set was fast paced as singer John Corabi and crew wasted little time addressing the crowd which in my opinion only added to the appeal of the group as they seemed to definitely be all about the music and their performance. After a thirty minute change over Kiss would take the stage where they proceeded to hold court for the next 90 minutes. This tours staging was much more scaled back than that of the previous “Monster” tour however the group performed just the same if not better than in subsequent years. The nights set list included a lot of the group’s staples including “Detroit Rock City” and “Love Gun” but also included lesser played songs like “Flaming Youth” and “Psycho Circus”. Despite a few missed vocal lines by Gene on “Cold Gin” and Paul’s voice starting to show it’s age the New York City natives did a solid job of transporting the crowd back to the groups 1970’s glory days.

From start to finish Kiss’s “Freedom To Rock” tour was a well oiled machine that provided an enjoyable concert experience for people of all ages. For the hardcore Kiss fans there may not have been enough diversion from the bands stock stage/set performance however for the band to still able to pull of this type of show in their 60’s is an impressive feat in its self. If your city is one of the few remaining on this season’s run then do yourself a favor and grab some tickets and get there early as you won’t want to miss either bands performance.

The Dead Daisies Set List:
1.) Whole Lotta Sabbath (Whole Lotta love/War Pigs mashup intro)
2.) Mexico
3.) Make Some Noise
4.) Fortune Son
5.) Lock n’ Load
6.) Long Way to Go
7.) Join Together
8.) The Last Time I Saw the Sun
9.) Devil Out of Time
10.) Helter Skelter

Kiss Set List:
1.) Detroit Rock City
2.) Deuce
3.) Shout it Out Loud
4.) Do You Love Me
5.) I Love It Loud
6.) Flaming Youth
7.) Bass Solo/ God of Thunder
8.) Psycho Circus
9.) Shock Me/Guitar Solo
10.) Cold Gin
11.) Lick It Up
12.) War Machine
13.) Love Gun
14.) Black Diamond
Encore:
15.) Beth
16.) The Star-Spangled Banner
17.) Rock and Roll All Nite