11 June 2010

Fools for Rowan - Twisted. Tied Up. Tangled.

The word ‘Tennessee’ reminds whisky to most people, the home of Jack Daniels. But to people like me it means a lot more if there is a ‘Nashville’ before that Tennessee. The city has been an inspiration for many musicians or anyone who is a little bit interested in music. It is the home to the marvellous Gibson Guitars and it’s many luthiers that build the custom Gibsons along with many other top-notch instruments. Fools for Rowan is a band I came across when I was wandering on MySpace. For reasons I’ve explained earlier, when you see ‘Nashville TN’ on the location your expectations are a bit higher than any other band. Fools for Rowan consists of Erin Mullins, Rachel Brandsness, Aaron Elliot, Ryan Nanney and Jordan Cullen. They are probably friends from high school or something but of course that’s none of my concern. Although I don’t like 5-piece bands very much, it is good to see a girl (Rachel) playing the lead guitar. These kids didn’t betray their hometown, both Rachel and Ryan plays Gibsons both on and off the stage. Erin stands out to be the only member of the group who doesn’t play an instrument.

Their first album called ‘Twisted. Tied Up. Tangled.’ was released in 2009 and has two singles so far. Fools for Rowan’s style reminds me of Evanescence, some how hard rock with a hint of punk and gothic looks. The album opens with ‘Burnt Around the Edges’, a proper rock song with catchy guitar riffs accompanied by some (probably double tracked) excellent vocals by Erin. The album’s hit song (IMHO) is ‘Dead’, the fourth track which also has an excellent video (can be seen here) but my favourite is the live version of the song that you can watch below. I must say this is one of the best live performance videos I’ve seen on YouTube so far.

I find it much better than the album version. I thought this was a song written by someone else but when you watch the video you clearly understand that it is written by Erin. It is also quite hard to understand why the producer added strings to this song. I am no producer or anything close but it definitely sounds much better without those strings. Besides you don’t hear any other strings during the album apart from this song. The rest of the album goes with a slightly slower pace and there isn’t any song that attracts attention. Track 10 ‘Living Dangerously’ reminds me of ‘Still Waiting’ by Sum41 a little bit. Actually it reminds me “a lot” of ‘Still Waiting’.

To sum it up, ‘Twisted. Tied Up. Tangled.’ is not the best album of the world but not bad either, it is exactly what you expect from a new band. My opinion is that they’re ready to go national. After all they’re living in a country where the Jonas Brothers are famous. If they play their cards right, and a little bit of luck they can be the next Evanescence. Members of Fools for Rowan seem to have enough musician skills and looks to attract rebellious teenagers but they still have to concentrate a little bit more on song writing.

09 June 2010

Muse at San Siro

Yesterday I was at the great San Siro stadium to watch Muse live. Home to AC Milan and FC Internazionale, San Siro (or Stadio Giuseppe Meazza as called by Inter fans) is the 8th biggest stadium in Europe and the biggest in Italy with 80,074 seats. Taking into account one third of the seats cancelled and the addition of the pitch the stadiums concert capacity was about 60 thousand. Before the concert the rumours were that there will be 55 thousand and today La Repubblica wrote it was 60 thousand. My approximate head count was about 65 thousand so let’s say 60 (±5) thousand. I think this is as big as it gets and it was clearly the most spectacular concert of my entire life.

Italy is quite a special place for Muse as Matt’s ex fiancé is Italian and he has a house in Como (yeah we’re neighbours he came to ask for some sugar the other day) and most young Italians love them. He also speaks some Italian I guess because his pronunciation of the word “grazie” was pretty good (I’ve heard much worse). The evening started fairly well as I entered the stadium at 5 pm (for a concert that starts at 9) and found a good seat. The girl at my back was dedicatedly kicking my back with her white converse shoes. I turned back and threw her a few what-the-fuck!? looks but she was with her boyfriend and he had the higher ground (star wars episode 3 reference). Soon the supporting acts started with Calibro 35 (locals) and continued with Friendly Fires and Kasabian. The sound during this acts were awful as we were in the second ring and there were tiny speakers pointed towards us. The stadium was clearly not designed to host a Muse concert so the acoustic was pretty bad. I couldn’t buy a field ticket because they were sold lightning-fast and I was left with this one. No trebles or guitars were audible we were just hearing some bass and somewhat mids. I didn’t thought that would be such a problem because I personally think half of Muse’s music consists of Chris and his bass. Then there was a soundcheck before Muse and the trebles got a little bit better.

I personally don’t think there is much to say about Muse’s performance. They were epic as always, the setlist consisted of 24 songs (with 2 encores), 8 more than what they played at Rock am Ring two days ago. The songs were mostly from The Resistance and Black Holes and Revelations. They played “New Born” and “Plug in Baby” from Origin of Symmetry and “Unintended” was the only song from their debut album Showbiz. While there is a controversy among the fans about The Resistance and especially “Undisclosed Desires”, it was the peak moment of the concert. They stepped on to a moving stage, which goes in to the crowd and ascends to provide better visibility for people in higher levels. I thought the stadium was about to collapse, all the girls were shouting and singing even if they didn’t know the lyrics. I think we might see this concert as a DVD in a near future as their performance was almost flawless, the crowd was perfect and the stage animations were perfect.

A surprising moment about the concert for me was when Dom invited Nic Cester, frontman of the Australian band “Jet” to the stage. The Australian sang one of my favourite songs “Back in Black” of the AC/DC which is also a great coincidence to my previous post. Matt showed once more what he could do with his guitar when he was not singing and his “Angus Young” performance was perfect in every aspect including the famous “Duck Walk” but he didn't wear shorts. The song sounded so good and I was pretty shocked how they could manage it with just one guitar where AC/DC plays it with two. After the concert a friend who was watching from the field told me there was another guitar. This was always a discussion about Matt. No one judges his skills with vocals, piano/synth and guitar on the recording basis but when it comes to live performance he is just limited by the human nature. Most of the time people talk about rumours that he uses a backstage guitarist. Although I personally don’t believe the backstage guitarist thing, on some songs there was a fourth musician on the stage to help them with the keyboards.

At the end Muse pulled off a perfect performance at the San Siro. It is not easy to play in a venue like this. When you look at the back you see that only major bands and artists like U2, Robbie Williams, Bruce Springsteen and some local rock legends like Ligabue and Vasco Rossi filled this incredible stadium and now Muse is just one of them. I think this is as big as a band gets, they have already registered their names to the British Rock Music History. Some people think their last two albums are no way near as the first three but the most accompanied songs were also from these two albums. Most people didn’t even notice the songs from the previous albums. Muse now has a younger and wider crowd and it looks like they’re having lots of fun.

I have to post this as well. This video is from a TV show in Italy’s national television Rai Due. The producers asked them to perform a playback on the show. They refused to do a playback but the producer insisted so they prepared this wonderful prank. In this video they perform “Uprising” Matt plays the drums, Chris on the guitar/keyboard and Dom with a left handed?! bass.

06 June 2010

AC/DC – Iron Man 2 Soundtrack

Everyone who slightly knows my music taste knows that I’m a huge soundtrack fan. I always think that the soundtrack plays a huge role in the movie. A good soundtrack can make a movie last much longer in our memories. It is also a great and easy way to discover new music but there is also a fact that no one wants to listen to a soundtrack album without watching the movie itself. Well I am no exception but when you see four magical letters with a lightning bolt in the middle everything changes.

I didn’t see the first Iron Man movie but heard that it was really good and since I didn’t see the first one there is no point on seeing the second one. What I do about this film is to enjoy it’s epic soundtrack. Director John Favreau is a huge fan of AC/DC and he decided to use 15 tracks both from Bon Scott and Brian Johnson era, ranging from ’75 to ’08. The tracks are picked from ten different albums. Only ‘Shoot to Thrill’ and ‘Highway to Hell’ were used completely uncut in the motion picture. The album can easily be considered as a ‘Best of’ including hit songs like Shoot to Thrill, Back in Black, Thunderstruck, Have a Drink On Me and many others.

There is not much to say, this album seems to be a win-win for everyone. The movie will attract more viewers (AC/DC fans). The new generation of will be exposed to the music of AC/DC and no doubt they’ll like it. Fathers and sons will finally have a chance to listen to music together. Even if one kid starts listenin AC/DC instead of Justin Bieber the world will be a much better place.

04 June 2010

A New Era

As some of you may have noticed, my blog was dead for about 9 months or so. During this time I’ve moved to a new country, travelled half of Europe, discovered lots of new music and attended some kick-ass concerts. From now on you will find new stuff. I am planning to write a few posts per week, some of them will be long and boring and some of them will be short and full of YouTube videos (sorry for those who live in a third world country where YouTube is blocked). I have also created a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page for the blog so you can keep up with it. The first post will be in a few hours I guess. During this time you can watch this video of Datarock who are pretty much my favourite band nowadays.

Three Norwegian friends founded Datarock during a festival. They then hired a fourth but sometime later they were left as a duo. To briefly describe their style, it is something like electronic indie pop/rock. They published their debut album “Datarock Datarock” by their own label in 2005. Their second album “Red” was released in 2009. This is their most popular song “Fa Fa Fa” which is from their first album.

06 September 2009

Negramaro - Mentre Tutto Scorre

It's been quite a while since I wrote a post. I said some goodbyes, packed some stuff, quite awkward but sold our good ol' car. Since some of you may know my computer is dead and I'm using my brothers old laptop which I've kept for emergency situations like this.

I haven't listened new stuff except what I have in my iPod, yesterday I decided to use the 30 song credit which Last.fm gave me (damn you Last.fm). I've typed "Italian" and started listening. The second track Last.fm played was Negramaro's "Mentre Tutto Scorre". I was very impressed by the song and Last.fm couldn't offer me better stuff since track 9 which was Toto Cutugno's classic "L'italiano". I've done some search and found out that these guys were quite famous in Italy. I listened to "Solo3min" which was also great.

Today I decided to write a post about their third studio album; Mentre Tutto Scorre. The album brought the band country-wide fame and "Best Italian Act" award at the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards. The title song was their first single and the fourth single of the album "Nuvole e Lenzuola" was selected for "Guitar Hero: World Tour" video game. Their music is best described as Alternative Rock, which stands for; somewhere between pop and rock, yet worth listening. Giuliano Sangiorgi is a very talented singer, he has a very characteristic voice, his vocal range is very wide and he can switch between high and low very quickly.

Believe it or not, I haven't listened the album completely yet (now I'm at track 9) but I am very very fascinated. Maybe because it's Italian and I don't understand anything except a few words but I always believe that music is more than just words. I can say that this is the first and so far the best Italian album I've heard. These guys know how to make good music and I'm quite happy perché I have a favourite Italian band before I leave.

17 August 2009

Les Paul (1915 - ∞)

A few days ago, as I was checking TV before breakfast I saw a shocking line saying "American Guitar Virtuoso Les Paul Dies at 94". It was kind of inevitable, nearly no one lives 94 years but what shook me was something much more interesting.

I was sitting with my family by the poolside when I saw a friend of mine coming. We started to chat about music and stuff. He plays double bass for my former university's orchestra and has a little recording studio on his own. We went to his place, we played stuff with his bass and guitar (which was a Les Paul replica), we watched various videos on youtube, discussing which guitar player is better. We watched Joe Pass, Zakk Wylde and many others and finally it came to Les Paul, I showed him this video and we were both amazed by this incredible man. Then I went home to sleep, and learned that he died when I woke up.

Les Paul was not just a Jazz/Blues guitarist, he was the most talented inventor the music industry has ever seen. Most notably, he invented solid body electric guitar and multi-track recording. The techniques he used was way ahead of his time. He recorded many hit songs in the 50's with his ex-wife Mary Ford, and with other legendary musicians including Chet Atkins. Most importantly, he was the inspiration to almost everything we hear today. When he had that famous traffic accident, he asked the doctors to bring his guitar, and the docs fixed his broken elbow according to his picking position.

When he was 93 last year, he was still playing at Iridium Jazz Club in New York on mondays. He was one of the few artists I wanted to hear live. I knew my dream was kind of impossible. He lived a very good life and with things he left behind, he'll live in our hearts forever. 

12 August 2009

The Red Special

It's not a Gibson, it's not a Fender, in fact it doesn't even have a brand. What we have here is the most unique guitar of rock music history.

Brian May, the lead guitarist of Queen built this legendary instrument with his father, they used what they had in the house so it's basicly a built-your-guitar-at-home! They used woods from an 18th century fireplace for the body. May stated that he has two wormholes at the neck. The inlay buttons were his moms nacre buttons. The tremolo system was taken from an old motorbike. Because May is a physicist, he knows a lot about electricity and he has done all the wiring, he bought three single coil Burns pick-ups and wired them in series instead of paralels. Which resulted more bass and less treble, also when all pick-ups are active, the output is triple. He installed on/off switches for all three pick-ups which is not something common in three pick-up guitars.

Despite it's features, the Red Special also has a unique tone which is impossible to replicate. When you listen to a Queen cover, you know there's something wrong but you can't tell what it is. Let me tell you, it's the Red Special, no guitar(ist) can match it's tone or Brian May's technique. Brian May built this guitar in 1963 and used it to record all Queen albums. Today he still uses this 46 year old guitar along with it's replicas which makes it one of the longest active guitars of all time.

If you have enough money, you can have a replica of the Red Special. Brian May founded his own guitar company called Brian May Guitars (wow what a creative name) and reproduces this important instrument for Queen fans. Do I want one? I'm not so sure, even if they had a lefty model, this guitar is meant and built to be played by Brian May.