KXM’s Sophomore Album Is A Focused New Effort

Courtesy: Rat Pak Records

This past March, rock outfit KXM released its sophomore album Scatterbrain to the masses.  The album is a solid new effort from the “super group,” which is composed of Ray Luzier (Korn) on drums, George Lynch (Lynch Mob) on guitar and dUg Pinnick (King’s X) on bass and vocals. That is evident early on in the album’s prog-metal infused title track and opener.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Calypso,’ which comes just a little ways into the record’s sequence, is another example of what makes Scatterbrain a solid new effort from KXM.  It will be discussed later.  ‘It’s Never Enough’ is yet another example of what makes this record so enjoyable and is hardly the last of the songs that could be cited in a discussion of what makes this record so impressive.  The ten songs not noted here could each be cited in their own right to support the aforementioned statement.  That applies both to the songs’ musical and lyrical content.  Keeping that in mind, the musical and lyrical content exhibited in Scatterbrain makes this record from start to finish a work that shows clear focus.  That focus, in turn, makes this record yet another record deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.

KXM’s sophomore LP Scatterbrain is a record that displays great focus both musically and lyrically from start to finish.  The result of that focus is a record that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.  Those statements are supported right off the top in the album’s title track and opener in part through the song’s musical arrangement.   The arrangement easily lends itself to comparisons to songs from Pinnick’s main band, King’s X as well as to Platypus and Liquid Tension Experiment.  That is not a bad thing, either.  That is because such comparisons form a solid foundation for the song; a foundation on which the song’s lyrical content rests just as solidly.

The lyrical content presented in Scatterbrain’s lead/title track is its own important part to this song because of its seeming commentary contained therein.  There is a mention of “people trying to kill you…when they don’t have the right” in the song’s lead verse and an added mention of time and life fleeting in the second.  Meanwhile Pinnick reminds listeners in the song’s final minutes “don’t be afraid, don’t cry, don’t let them scare you.”  One has to assume here that he is referencing the people noted in the song’s lead verse; those who would otherwise do others harm in whatever form.  It plays into the song’s second verse, too with Pinnick perhaps making note of how short life is.  If that is indeed the case, then Pinnick singing about not letting people scare them, that second verse would seem to be Pinnick telling listeners to not let life pass them by worrying about those people in question.  This is of course only this critic’s own interpretation and certainly not the only interpretation.  Regardless of the song’s true meaning, the manner in which Pinnick delivers the song’s lyrical content–and the content itself—makes for plenty of interest and discussion.  When it is joined with the frantic energy in the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song makes the song an impressive first impression for KXM in its second outing.  It also collectively makes ‘Scatterbrain’ just one clear example of what makes its namesake so impressive overall.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Noises in the Sky’ is yet another example of what makes Scatterbrain so impressive.

‘Noises in The Sky’ is another clear example of what makes KXM’s new album so impressive first and foremost because of its musical arrangement.  The arrangement presented here is the polar opposite of that presented in the album’s title track.  It is more of a blues-based rock arrangement that regardless, still boasts its own heaviness.  In the same breath, that comparison to King’s X is just as undeniable as in the case of ‘Scatterbrain.’  The song’s lyrical content is just as heavy in its own right with even more seeming commentary.  The commentary is inferred as Pinnick sings in the song’s lead verse, “Have you heard the noises in the night/Is this a warning/Sounds like a trumpet blowing high/Is this a warning/Whatever it is, is far and near/Is this a warning.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “The sun is bright/The flares are high/Is this a warning/Only for those whose ears can hear/Is this a warning/Something is happening/It just ain’t clear/Is this a warning.”  The instant thought that comes to mind in considering all of this is that the song is making a religious statement.  On another level though, maybe it could be a response to all of the doomsayers out there who like to preach so much about the end times.  No matter the meaning, it is certain to lead to some heavy discussion.  When that heavy discussion is joined with the heaviness in the song’s musical arrangement, the end result is a song that is yet another example of what makes Scatterbrain such a solid, focused record.  It still is not the last song that can be cited in exhibiting what makes the album so impressive. ‘Angel,’ the album’s closer is one more prime example of what makes this record stand out.

‘Angel’ serves to make Scatterbrain stand out just as much as ‘Noises in the Sky’ and ‘Scatterbrain’ because it stands out both musically and lyrically from those songs just as much as they stand apart from one another and the rest of the album’s offerings.  Musically speaking, this song is not necessarily a ballad per se.  But in comparison to the record’s other arrangements it is comparably softer and gentler.  That softer, gentler approach works well with the song’s softer lyrical content, too, which seems to be a bit of a bittersweet message, making the song in whole a truly touching work. The seemingly bittersweet message is inferred as Pinnick sings in the song’s lead verse, “You’re not like the others/Who left me alone/You said the right things and I couldn’t breathe/I don’t want to give in/But the truth always wins.”  He goes on to sing in the second verse, “I don’t want to do this/But it’s all I can feel/In my heart as it heals/I’ve heard it’s been said/That three times is a charm/But four times/You’re just a fool/I asked an angel to watch over you/But it came back and asked me/Why/Because angels don’t watch over angels/I’m waiting on my angel.”  The juxtaposition of those verses comes across almost as a story of love lost.  Yet even in that seeming story of lost love, there is still some happiness, again making that bittersweet feeling.  Again, the combination of that deeply emotional story and the song’s equally touching musical arrangement makes this song its own outstanding work.  In the bigger picture, it is yet another example of what makes Scatterbrain a solid, focused new effort from KXM.  When it is joined with the previously discussed songs and those not noted here, the end result is an album whose focus makes it enjoyable from start to finish and one more clear candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.

KXM’s sophomore album Scatterbrain is a record that is anything but scattered.  From beginning to end, this album shows great focus both musically and lyrically.  From seeming commentaries to more personal works, the album offers plenty for everyone to appreciate.  That being the case, it proves itself to be an easy candidate to be one of this year’s top new rock records.  More information on Scatterbrain is available online now along with all of KXM’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.ratpakrecords.com/kxm

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KXMofficial

 

 

 

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Soul Asylum’s Latest LP Could Mark A Positive Change In The Band’s Fortunes

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

The story of alt-rock band Soul Asylum is one of the modern music industry’s most interesting stories to date. This Minneapolis, Minnesota-based band has seen its share of highs and lows throughout the course of its now nearly thirty-five year life. Early on in its life the band struggled to make a name for itself. Even with ten albums under its collective belt (two of which went platinum–and one of which went platinum three times over–) thousands of albums sold around the world, and a number of hit singles, the band has never managed to achieve superstar status. Yet it has still maintained a solid fan base around the world and continued to make quality music. The band’s latest album Change of Fortune (its eleventh full-length studio recording) could very well mark the start in a change in the band’s fortunes. That is because this twelve-song record, which is currently slated for release on Friday, March 16th, presents plenty of songs that will appeal to audiences of all ages thanks to the mix of the album’s musical and lyrical content. The album’s opener ‘Supersonic’ proves that. The song’s catchy guitar riffs and driving beat couple with its interesting lyrical content to make for a song that will instantly grab listeners’ ears and have them singing and dancing along. ‘Dealing’ comes later in the album’s run. Its full-on alt-rock groove and insightful lyrical content makes it another good example of what makes this album a potential change of fortune for the band. The album’s title track, which the band saves for much later in the album, is one more good example of what makes this record so surprisingly enjoyable. Its musical content presents an infectious semi-bluesy groove that is sure to impress audiences. Its lyrical content is just as impressive. The combination of both elements makes this song one more piece that is sure to help make this album the start of a change of fortune for the band. And it most assuredly can be said that it isn’t the only remaining song featured in this record that could be cited in this argument either. ‘Cool,’ the album’s closer could just as easily be cited as could ‘Can’t Help It’ and ‘Ladies Man.’ Whether for those songs or the compositions more directly noted here, it can be said of the album in whole that it is an impressive return for Soul Asylum and a return that any Soul Asylum fan should hear at least once.

Soul Asylum’s latest full-length studio recording (it’s eleventh) Change of Fortune could very well be the beginning of a change for the band’s fortunes. That is saying quite a bit considering the band’s history. This twelve-song, thirty-nine minute record presents more than its share of solid offerings for audiences beginning right off the top with its opener ‘Supersonic.’ ‘Supersonic’ is a good start to this record with its catchy guitar riffs and driving backbeat. Both lines couple with Winston Roye’s bass line and Dave Pirner’s vocals to transport listeners right back to the 90s. The song’s lyrical content is just as poppy for lack of better wording. Pirner sings here, “Call me at the office/Call me sad but true/It calms me when you call me/It keeps me in my room/Supersonic/Just how you want it/Gin and tonic she’s always on it/Supersonic, she’s always on the way/Automatic autumn/Left it sound and safe/We are moving onward/Wasting away. Considering such content, one would think that this song wouldn’t be as upbeat as it is in terms of its musical content. But in fact the opposite is the case. Pirner seems to be coming across here as talking about someone that seems to have a certain amount of emotional control over another. That is just this critic’s interpretation. It is hardly gospel. The line in which Pirner sings, “We are moving onward/Wasting away” would seem to contradict that interpretation. That aside, the fact that Pirner could get audiences thinking an discussing so easily says plenty of these lines. The discussions and thoughts don’t end with those lines, either. Pirner goes on later to sing about meeting at a station and telling someone where to go.It is definitely an interesting line in itself. And together with the rest of the song’s lyrical content, the song in whole is sure to keep listeners talking and singing along. The discussions brought on by the song’s lyrical content come together with the discussions on the song’s blatantly 90s sound to show exactly why this song was such a wise choice to open Soul Asylum’s new album and why the song was an equally wise addition to the album in whole. It is just one wise addition to this album, too. ‘Dealing’ is another good addition to this record.

‘Supersonic,’ with its mix of 90s-influenced musical content and discussion-invoking lyrical content proves in the end to be a wise opener for Soul Asylum’s latest full-length studio recording. It proves to be just as wise of an addition to the album in whole. As with the album’s opener the main reason for this is the song’s musical content. The song’s musical content boasts a full-on 90s alt-rock groove that is sure to get audiences moving. It might come across as an odd comparison to some, but in this critic’s own view, the groove in question actually conjures thoughts of King’s X. Audiences that are familiar with King’s X will likely agree when they hear this song for themselves. In regards to the song’s lyrical content, it is just as interesting. The song comes across as a social commentary of sorts as Pirner sings, “Everybody knows/Anything goes/We were only trying to have a good time/Livin’ while you learn/You’ll get your turn/We were only living with the one line/When you point the finger/Do you often find it pointed back at you/When you look at the mirror/Do you wonder who is looking back at you?” He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus “This is what we’re dealing/This is what we’re dealing with.” As if that isn’t enough proof of that interpretation, Pirner sings in the song’s second verse, “Every move you make/Is like a slitherin’ snake/Winding up the coil/Wastin’ your time/I don’t know what you heard/This is absurd/Trying to set yourself up for the last time.” Pirner comes across, in considering both verses, and the song’s short, simple chorus, as making a statement about someone that is not the best type of person by any means. It’s as if he is commenting on those people who act one way in a situation but in reality are rather quick to blame others anytime something bad happens and who refuse to accept responsibility for anything. Again, that is just this critic’s own take on this song. So it is not meant to be taken as the only interpretation. It is just the starting point for discussions on the song’s lyrical content. Regardless of wrong or right, Pirner has once again presented a song in its lyrical content alone that proves to be another good addition to Soul Asylum’s new album. And together with ‘Supersonic’ both songs together strengthen this album in whole even more. Of course the two songs together are not the album’s only songs nor are they the only good additions to this record. The album’s title track, which comes late in the album’s run, is just as impressive of an addition to the album as those songs.

Both ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Dealing’ are prime examples of what makes Change of Fortune a solid return for Soul Asylum and a record that any of the band’s fans should hear at least once. As impressive as both songs are in the overall picture of the album, they are not the only good examples of what makes this record worth hearing. The album’s title track, which serves as the album’s penultimate composition, is another piece that proves the album’s worth. Its musical content is a good starting point in the discussion as to why. ‘Change of Fortune’s’ musical makeup presents a semi-bluesy groove a la Lenny Kravitz that will have listeners moving just as easily as any of the album’s other songs, including those already noted here. The song’s lyrical content adds a whole other element to the song that when coupled with that infectious groove makes the song in whole a piece that is one of the album’s most standout moments. What makes the song’s lyrical content so notable is the ways that it can be interpreted. There is some material that makes it come across as a song centered on a couple’s meeting and relationship issues. At another point it seems to have something of a social commentary turn once again. Yet the song’s chorus segments seem to hint otherwise. Considering this it is sure to have audiences listening perhaps closer than at any other point in this record. Together with ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Dealing,’ all three songs are equally certain to have audiences listening and talking. And they are hardly the only pieces from this album that could be cited as examples of what makes this record worth hearing, too. Every one of the songs not noted here will each have listeners talking just as much. All things considered, the fact that Change of Fortune could have listeners so closely engaged shows that it could very well be the turning point in the band’s fortunes in its decades-long history.

Soul Asylum’s eleventh full-length studio recording is a welcome new return for the veteran alt-rock band. Fans old and new alike will agree with that sentiment when they hear this record for themselves. That is thanks to the mix of the album’s classic 90s sound in its musical content and the equally interesting lyrical content in each of the album’s songs. The combination of both elements together over the course of the album’s twelve songs and thirty-nine minutes will keep listeners completely engaged from beginning to end. That is evident not just in the songs noted here but in every one of the album’s songs. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Soul Asylum’s body of work, every listener will agree to all of this in hearing this record. In doing so, they will also agree that this record is not just a welcome return for the band but a record that every Soul Asylum fan should hear at least once. It will be available Friday, March 18th in stores and online. More information on Change of Fortune is available online now along with all of Soul Asylum’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://pledgemusic.com/projects/soulasylum

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SoulAsylum

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South Of The Earth A Welcome Return From Iron Man

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records/Rise Above Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records/Rise Above Records

The Baltimore, Maryland based four-piece known as Iron Man has been making music for a number of years, flying just below the mainstream radar all along.  The band has been classified as a “doom rock” band for most of its career. However, its new album, South of the Earth is more akin to the sludge rock sound of Black Label Society, Brand New Sin, and the band’s label mates in Horisont.  The only real link to the “doom” genre would be the lyrical side of the band’s new album.  That being the case, this new nine-track release is one that any purist metal head will enjoy no less with each listen.

South of the Earth opens solidly with the album’s title track.  Whether one is familiar with the band’s sound or not, it is a powerful first impression from the band on this record.  Front man Screaming Mad Dee’s vocals sound like a cross between King’s X vocalist/bassist dUg Pinnick and legendary Black Label Society front man/guitarist Zakk Wylde.  That is quite the statement for anyone that is familiar with either singer.  For those that aren’t so familiar with either vocalist, suffice it to say that Dee is a powerhouse vocalist.  That his voice can go from almost guttural depths to ear-piercing screams in the blink of an eye without sounding like so many cookie monster growling figures makes an even bolder statement.  Bassist Louis Strachan and guitarist Alfred Morris III add even more punch to this song with their full-on one-two attack.  Morris’ solos in this song are the stuff that young guitarists dream of doing one day.  And drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann’s performance behind the kit shows such control in this slower song.  That show of control also shows just how much talent he boasts.  And along with his band mates, the whole unit makes the album’s opener one that will have listeners’ horns high instantly.

The energy doesn’t let up once the album’s opener ends.  The band picks right back up and keep things moving in the album’s second track, ‘Hail to The Haze.’  When Dee sings in the song’s chorus, “How much longer/How much longer/How much longer inside/Can this monstrosity hide/How much longer/How much longer/How much longer/Must I wait/To release my hate” the power in his voice does quite the job of exhibiting his subject’s personal inner struggle.  Again, add in the musicianship of his band mates, and listeners get what is one more shining gem off of South of the Earth.

South of the Earth is loaded with songs from start to finish that any true metal head will appreciate.  It boasts, as noted, both slower, heavier songs and pieces that are more up-tempo.  For all of its hard-hitting songs, there is one song that stands out among them all.  That song is the instrumental break that is ‘Ariel Changed The Sky.’  This roughly two-minute plus acoustic piece is a total contrast to everything else on this record.  It is a gentle, airy opus that gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breath before the band launches into its full-on musical assault again on the record’s second half.  It is a perfectly placed break.  And it is equally beautiful.  It’s one more show of talent from the band, and one more example of what makes South of the Earth a record that any purist metal head will appreciate no matter how old.

South of the Earth is available now in stores and online on Metal Blade Records and Rise Above Records.  The band will be playing a hometown show next Sunday, October 13th in support of its new album.  It will be performing at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore alongside St. Vitus, Pallbearer, and Hookers.  The band has more dates to follow.  Fans can check them out on the band’s official website, http://www.ironmanband.com.  Fans can also get more information from the band on its official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Man-Band/146118265408361.

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Rundgren Re-Invents Himself Again On New LP

Courtesy:  Cherry Red Records/Esoteric Antenna

Courtesy: Cherry Red Records/Esoteric Antenna

If Beatallica’s new album, Abbey Load is the most intriguing album of 2013, then Todd Rundgren’s State is a direct runner-up to the title.  Rundgren continues his tradition of re-inventing himself yet again with this new album.  The album opens with what is best described as an ear-opening mix of Pink Floyd, Devin Townsend, and Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) in ‘Imagination.’  This is a fitting title for the song, especially being that it is the album’s opener.  Its mix of electronica and rock make it a song that will definitely get many listeners’ imaginations running wild with all kinds of images.  Rundgren’s vocals on this song sound like a mix of Devin Townsend and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree).  Whether or not it was intentional, the prog influences are there.  And at over eight minutes long, listeners are sure to find their own connections.  Regardless of the connections made, what can be sure of this song is that Rundgren shows just how much ‘imagination’ and creativity he still has.

‘Imagination’ is just the beginning of Rundgren proving that he still has plenty to offer his listeners on this new record.  The album’s second track, ‘Serious’ is just as imaginative and creative as the album’s opener.  It boasts a rather interesting funky electronica/rock hybrid sound.  The backing choruses of the song sound rather familiar, too like a much older funk tune.  And his screams are solid.  They are reminiscent of King’s X front man dUg Pinnick, strangely enough.  That combined with the song’s mix of sounds easily makes this another highlight to this new album.  It’s not just another dance/electronica song.  It’s a bridge between two musical worlds that could potentially bring fans of both electronica and dance together if only for about four minutes.

It’s not until the album reaches just past its halfway point that Rundgren goes full on techno.  ‘Smoke’ is sure to be an instant club hit with fans of the dance/electronica genre.  This is one of those types of songs that will bring down the lights, and bring out the black lights and mirror balls in clubs around the country.  Its keyboard part and solid two-four beat makes it an easily danceable song.  Of course that electronica vibe doesn’t last long as he goes back to a rock/electronica hybrid in ‘Collide-A-Scope’ before eventually making his way back to a full on techno vibe with the album’s penultimate song, ‘Party Liquor.’  This is sure to be another club hit with its keyboard part and up tempo beats and crowd chants.  What’s really interesting about this song is that at times, one can actually hear a hint of a disco influence throughout the song’s bridge section.  Forget the fact that the song is seemingly about alcohol.  It’s the song’s music that fans will really hear.  And it’s that music that audiences will enjoy.  Though there are more songs from which listeners can choose for their favorite.  This is just a sample of what makes the album stand out.  It will be available next Tuesday, April 8th in stores and online.  The physical CD and digital can both be pre-ordered now.  It can be pre-ordered via iTunes at http://smarturl.it/STATEiTunes and at http://smarturl.it/DeluxeCD for the physical CD.

Todd kicks off a tour in support of his new album next month at the Infinity Hall in Norfolk, VA.  It all kicks off May 8th.  He will have eight U.S. tour dates before heading overseas for a European tour through most of June.  And on June 23rd, he will be back stateside for the second leg of U.S. dates beginning at the House of Blues in New Orleans, LA on June 23rd.  Fans can get a full list of tour dates online at Rundgren’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/toddrundgren or on his official website, http://www.tr-i.com.

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King’s X, Kansas announce Fall tour

It was only months ago that King’s X drummer Jerry Gaskill was hospitalized after suffering a major heart attack.  Now, after his amazing recovery, he and his bandmates in King’s X–dUg Pinnick (bass/vocals) and Ty Tabor (guitar)–will head out on tour this fall with fellow legends Kansas.  Both Gaskill and Pinnick spoke on the upcoming tour with Gaskill saying, “Not too long ago I was thinking I might not ever get back on a stage, now I’m ready and with the ok from all my doctors.” He added, “What better way to get back than to tour with the legendary KANSAS. Let’s rock…” 

When asked about the announcement, bassist/vocalist dUg Pinnick had this to say:  “I’ve been a huge KANSAS fan since the beginning. I remember sitting on the floor with my friends listening to the just released record ‘Song for America’…Fast forward to years later, KING’S X is going on tour with them!! It is an honor to be doing shows with them. This is gonna rock!!”

The band’s tour will be in support of its most recent release, “Live Love in London.”  The live show, recorded at the famed Electric Ballroom january 22, 2009, is available now in a dual 3-disc cd/dvd package, and as a doube disc cd-only set.  the show features some of the band’s biggest hits including:  “Lost in Germany”, “Over My Head”, “It’s Love”, and “Black Flag”. 

Kansas’ original member Richard Williams was asked about the upcoming tour, too.  He said of Kansas’ anticipation, “We are really looking forward to the upcoming shows with KING’S X. They’re a great band and a force to be reckoned with. It’s a tour like this that allows us to dig a little bit deeper into our catalogue and play a few songs that KANSAS fans haven’t heard for a while. It’s gonna be a lot of fun!”

Special opening act and one man band That 1 Guy (featuring Mike Silverman) will join the band’s on select dates on the tour.  So far, ten dates have been confirmed for the tour.  It will kick off September 13th at the Best Buy Theater in New York, New York. 

Fans can keep up with all the latest tour dates as they are confirmed on the official King’s X website, http://www.kingsxrocks.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KingsxFanPage, and on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/user/alienbeans

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