POSTING BY BIG ANGRY
Music has played an integral role in my life for several years now. From eliciting memories of my wilder years to the birth of my children, I always seem to have a soundtrack that correlates with each and every stage in my life. Now I’m not one of these people who, as they have aged, have pigeonholed themselves into listening to one period of music. Let’s face it, every generation has its hits and even more misses. Every generation. I never seem to find “the good ole days” behind me, for I’d like to think that I am resistant to the stagnation that draws one into rumination of the better days being behind them. Admittedly, there have been periods of my life that shine brighter than others; times that have been amazing and times that have been the lowest of the lows. However, its all a period of growth and, for better and worse, has continually inspired me to evolve.
That being said, I’m always on the hunt for new music to explore and inspire me throughout my life. Let’s face it kids, no matter how we try to avoid it, life will always move forward. Doesn’t it stand to reason that music should move with you as well? Not forgetting the past, but assimilating old and new into an ever-evolving psyche that prevents stagnation. Now, I’ve come across several bands in the past that I’ve enjoyed, but few seem to hold my attention for very long. Yet, when I find a band I do like, I’m hooked, dedicated until the end, and will not hesitate to pass this knowledge on to anyone who will give a listen with an open mind and open ear.
So, today my dear reader, I offer you a selection of the top five musicians who have lately garnered my attention and have managed to hold it. I tend to gravitate towards the lesser-known artists; not out of any sense of rebellion, but it’s just how it’s worked out. So I won’t be surprised nor offended if these don’t appeal to your ear and emotions as they do me. However, I hope at least one will. If not, screw you, it’s my favorites list, not yours.
5) CC Adcock: Combining many blends of southern flavors, this talented artist tickles the ear with his infectious brand of self-described “swamp pop”. First hearing CC on the premiere episode of True Blood, I found myself instantly drawn to his musical style. Granted, I only own one of his two solo albums (The Lafayette Marquis), it has been given a steady rotation in my musical playlist for more than four years. There are many flavors on this album and I could go on and on how each one fits a particular mood of my inner psyche. However, I suggest you take a listen for yourself. Those of you who are fans of rock, country, and zydeco should find CC’s brand of “swamp pop” quite satisfying.
4) The Loved Ones/Dave Hause: Yes, there’s a reason why I lump these two together. So, I’m dividing number 4 into two parts.
Part 1: The Loved Ones was a band that was slated to open for Dropkick Murphys a few years back during DKM’s St. Patty’s Day tour. Being one who likes to know what I’m in for when it comes to opening acts, I decided to check these guys out. What I found was a hard-driving, talented punk band that has managed to find a happy medium between melody and edge. I was never a fan of the “pop-punk” movement of the late-90’s, early-2000’s, yet, some of the older, sloppier punk bands never appealed to me either. I don’t believe that just because it sounds like shit, it’s art. It’s just shit. As far as a punk-infused rock goes, The Loved Ones hit the nail on the head repeatedly and forcibly. Unfortunately, I was never to see The Loved Ones open for DKM. Whether through ill communication or a scheduling mishap, they never toured with DKM. At this moment, The Loved Ones seem to be on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time. Which leads me to Dave Hause.
Part 2: In the time that The Loved Ones have been dormant, lead singer Dave Hause has been establishing himself as a solo artist. Having released his first CD “Resolutions” back in 2010, Dave has made a name for himself touring with bands such as Social Distortion, The Bouncing Souls, and The Gaslight Anthem. Leaning more towards rock vs his punk roots with his solo work (generally performing acoustically on tour), Dave loses none of the power in his voice nor his song writing. In fact, some of his most powerful work has been showcased through just himself and a acoustic guitar. I would recommend looking up his performance at the Ramones Museum on YouTube for glimpse of Dave’s strong song writing, vocal chops, and open approach to playing live. What I enjoy so much about this performance is Dave is constantly engaging the fans throughout and ad-libing in many parts. I, for one, am greatly looking forward to his second solo release, “Devour” out October 8th.
3) Richie Kotzen: With a career spanning nearly 25 years, it surprises me that I didn’t really begin to appreciate this soul-influenced guitarist/vocalist until 2007. While achieving his biggest commercial break playing with Poison in the early 90’s (playing on Native Tongue, Poison’s best album musically), Richie has also played with Mr. Big and has recorded several solo albums. What sets Richie apart from all of the other “guitar slingers” of the late-80’s and early-90’s is many of his songs have a deep, soul-inspired feel; going more for the musical aspect of the entire song as opposed to an all filler until the guitar solo approach seen so often. Don’t get me wrong, Richie belts it out both with outstanding guitar licks and an amazing singing voice. This isn’t Eddie Van Halen attempting to sing (am I the only one who remembers the frightful “How Many Say I”?). On the contrary, Richie has just as good vocal chops as he does guitar riffs. Be sure to check out his latest release, a band project featuring Richie on guitar/vocals, bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) called The Winery Dogs.
2) The Gaslight Anthem: Formed in 2006, this New Jersey based rock band has garnered a good underground fan base. Often lumped into the category of punk, I personally consider them a great rock band leaning heavily on a Bruce Springsteen influence. The Gaslight Anthem deliver with well thought out lyrics and it’s evident true emotions and heart go into this music. It isn’t staged or written based upon what style may be popular at the moment. Having released 4 full-length studio albums, they are showing no signs of slowing down. Yes, maybe their major-label debut, Handwritten, released in the summer of 2012 may have showcased a more commercially viable Gaslight Anthem. That being said, it isn’t a release where the band has lost it’s sound or integrity. They’ve grown a bit and that’s ok because the music is still genuine, emotive, and well…kick ass.
1) Vol Beat: This band, by far, has to be my favorite accidental discovery to date. If there was ever a band who could save us from the tired, cliched likes of Nickelback or the standard, repetitive growl and howl metal, Vol Beat IS the band. Now, this is why I love this metal band from Denmark: you don’t get the standard cookbook of metal songs. No, you get a mish-mash of sounds ranging from straight up metal combined with Johnny Cash, Social Distortion, Hank Williams, rockabilly, and much more. The unique sound of Vol Beat is further accentuated by singer Michael Poulsen’s baritone voice. Some love his one of kind voice, some hate it. Either way, it’s part of their signature sound and there isn’t any way you could confuse it with another singer out there PERIOD. Put it simply, Vol Beat is the band Metallica wishes they still were, only better.
Well, that about puts a wrap on my top musical finds of the past few years. Like ’em or hate ’em, there they are. Listen at your own risk, but at least listen with an open mind before you hate any of it. Not everyone is moved in the same way or by the same style. However, this is what currently moves me, and that’s what matters to yours truly.
Some of you that know me well may be wondering one thing: why no Dropkick Murphys on this list? It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of their music, so why are they so obviously absent from this favorites list? It’s rather simple, actually. They have a story unto their own for me personally which will unfold at another time and in another post.
This is Big Angry going out on a high note on The ThrowDown.