1/15/03 - Great Review 'n live stuff!
2/17/03 - The Murdering of My Years/ Co-aX and some nice words
3/16/03 - Potholes, Airplay and OSI
4/16/03 Italy - Dead souls completely inked
5/19/03 - Earwigs, Queens and Damnation
6/21/03 - Progress, Ytsejam and Black Utopia
7/18/03 - Retail Distribution
9/3/03 - Summer's Over
10/15/03 - Vacation
11/6/03 - Holiday Rant #1
11/17/03 - Azrael Block Released
12/10/03 - Holiday Rant #2
So the Holidayze are over. I hope all of you made it through relatively unscathed. If you did you were a good deal luckier than me. Xmas eve I enjoyed a bout of the flu virus that's been going around so Xmas day was spent hangin out watchin' the snow fall. Did I mention how much digging out sux. The Hudson Valley area of NY got like 14-20" of snow between the 24-26th. Oh yes, we had a white Xmas alright. New Years was fairly uneventful as well. Man am I getting boring in my old age or what. Anyways...
The band is pulling together really well these days. Our new bass player Joe has fit into our mayhem and has participated in our juvenile antics quite wholeheartedly. We have been working pretty hard getting our tunes together for the "live" thing and everything is starting to sound good. We are actually thinking of names for the band now. I guess it's getting serious. We are looking to get a set of 10 tunes down and then we'll prolly be headin' out to spread the gospel that is our music, can I have a Halleluja brother!
The solo disk presses on as well. Rhythm tracks for tune #10 are going down. Most of the tunes are between 5-9:00 minutes long so I guess you won't be hearing any singles on the radio anytime soon.(lol) On December 28th I performed a couple of my originals with a bunch of other guitar freaks at a local cafe called the Funky Bean. It was a great show and everyone did such a great job. My instructor, Lou Ubriaco, was on bass and Jason Brower was on drums. It's a great experience playing with these guys and I really appreciate them taking the time to learn my material. Joe was part of the program as well. He and Lou performed a medley of Metallica tunes on bass that was very cool. A couple of tunes that were played were "Evil Eye, Trilogy" - Yngwie, Guardian Angel - John McLaughlin, "Mediterranean Sundance" - Al Dimeola, some Allman Brothers excerpts, and a couple of Gary Moore and Santana tunes. This month on the 24th we'll be back at the Funky Bean for another go around except this time it is going to be all improv, no fixed structures. I worked out a cool funk/fusion dimished vamp in 9/8 which will be a trip. I am expecting some nice trainwrecks from yours truly but I know everyone else will be kickass. So feel free to come on by and check out some cool music.
This past month I was lucky enough to be reviewed at The Guitarists.com which is a great resource for all things guitar. You'll find everything from acoustic to shred. Definitley worth having a look!
Stuff I'm listening to:
"The Window Purpose" - Wolverine
-very decent disk. The tunes are fairly technical with prolly 3 killer stand out tunes that make it worth the purchase. All the instrumentation sounds good everyone seems to be playing for the good of the band as there are no stand out virtuoso types. As far as production goes there seems to be a bit too much high end on the mix for me but that's just my taste. The singer, Stefan Zell, is very listenable, kinda reminded me a bit of the singer from Zero Hour and Ice Age. Another interesting vocal aspect is that they incorporate some death vocals courtesy of the drummer (Marcus Losbjer). They don't do as much growling as Opeth but enough to get the point across. I find it effective. Also surprisingly enough the guitar solos while tastefully done by Mikael Zell and Per Broddesson, are undermixed. These guys can play, gotta boost them up a bit. Nice key sounds (Andreas Baglien) and they are well placed in the tunes. The drums sound crisp and cut through reasonably well. The bass (Stefan Zell) also should be a bit more present as well. As you can tell I'm kinda picky, I don't mean to be but dammit I want a progmetal disk with a killer mix so I can hear everything! </rant> Overall though, very enjoyable disk.
"Deliverance" - Opeth
-another great recording by this killer band. I first got My Arms, Your Hearse and was not really all that impressed. I then picked up Blackwater Park and found it much more accessible and was hooked. I'm not a death vocal type person but after a few listens you really kinda understand why it's there. On this disk I think the 13 minute "Deliverance" is the stand out track. The song packs all kinds of textures and moods into one piece. They even do some syncopated odd time at the end, very cool. Another cool thing is that Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) helps produce and you can definitley hear his touches on the vocal tracks. Speaking of production, this is typical Opeth wall of sound production. Accept there is more definition and everything sounds nice and tight and very well played. If you are an Opeth fan this is a must buy, if you are looking for your first disk I think Blackwater Park is a bit more accessible.
Yep, that's right. Mickey Zezima, author of "The Murdering of My Years", contacted me and wanted to know if I'd be interested in contributing to the book he was writing.
...but first the news
*commence news music*
News = it snowed...a lot...a whole lot.
Editorial = snow sucks.
Weather = it better not fucking snow anymore.
Sports = I haven't had TV in a year and a half so ya got me.
...thanks for tuning in and have a pleasant evening
So this book is about artists and activists who operate on the fringe of society and how they make ends meet. The book is in an interview format with commentary from the author. There are about 20 of us in the book who answer questions concerning: our living situation, legal issues, who inspires us, job experience, the future, etc. etc. There is also a humorous element in that the interviewees discuss, their sex lives, family situations, eating habits and even their views on clothes. The interviewees are from varied backgrounds and make money as painters, writers, actors, musicians, and even stuntmen. This book has some pretty powerful opinions and offers some new and different perspectives on things like racism, capitalism, war and many other touchy subjects. I was glad to be a part of this forum and put my .02 in concerning the music industry. To find out more about the book go here. If you want more info on purchasing the book go here.
-Some great quotes from "The Murdering of My Years":
-from Indio's bio - (Born: 1939): January 24, Harlem Hospital, slapped on my ass by this quack after he pulled me out of my mother's womb. Then the dude put me in my mother's arms 'n she allowed me to suck on her breasts. Yeah, I have been a sucker since day one."
-from Jason Kucsma's bio - "I recently graduated with a master's degree in American Culture Studies where I wrote a thesis about the radicalizing power of punk 'zines."
-from Richard Miller's bio - "I am a non-conformist, atheist vegan with a film degree and the promise of driving an ice cream truck this upcoming summer."
Thanks again Mickey for letting me share my views in your book.
The band has been named!! Yes folks it has been a red letter month as the band has now been officially named Co-aX. We are currently working on a logo and will be putting up a site soon (hopefully). The music is really turning out well the and lyrics are being written and developed. We are almost at our goal of having our set, just a couple more tunes to go. Then we just have to rehearse the hell out of it. Are new bass player has fit in quite nicely and has really been a motivating force. Thanks Joe.
Wyrd continues to gain a bit of exposure as people have now been contacting me about reviews and promotion. RNO from the Belgian based website, Beyond Webzine was kind enough to write a nice review on the disk. Check out the site as it is a great resource on all things rock and metal. Also Nick Martinelli from The ShredZone.com put up a very detailed and insightful review. His site is very thorough and deals with music industry news, signed and unsigned bands, lessons, and product reviews, all relating to us geetar players. Thanks Nick! Lastly but certainly not leastly Wyrd made it in Progression Magazine which is a quarterly magazine solely on progressive music. And it did quite well. Thanks to Alex Johnson for writing the review and also John Collinge for having me in his great magazine.
The new disk continues evolving into something very wrong. I'm starting to put down some melody lines and solos and it's kinda slow going. I worked really hard on the rhythm tracks so I don't want to screw it up with crappy soloing. The lines gotta compliment the rhythm tracks or else it's going to sound too clinical or contrived. I've been working on my chops but I don't want to turn it into a pure shredfest. There are too many guitarists who can do that. Instead I'm trying to make each song have some substance and convey something. In other words the tune has gotta be able to pull its own weight before the solo goes down. As far as the soloing goes I have to try and balance the technical with the emotional while maintaining my own style. I know that sounds kinda corny but there are some serious guitar players out there, and I gotta fit in somewhere!! It still will be very much a guitar driven album and it will be wacked out, dark and very progressive.
Stuff I'm listening to:
"GHS 3" - Gambale, Hamm and Smith
-oh man, just stop what you are doing and go find this disk. This is the third offering from, Frank Gambale, Stu Hamm and Steve Smith and it is killer! Definitely their best yet. I seems like Gambale is the star of the show here. His playing is top notch. The conviction and confidence that he solos with is pretty scary, especially when he enters the "sweep zone". This time out he plays acoustic as well. His acoustic playing is tight. I could try to compare him to Al DiMeola but there styles are way different. But Franks picking is very clean and very fast. Steve Smith (one of my favorite drummers), lays down some very nice grooves and does some tasteful playing. I wish he was a bit more up front in the mix as he gets lost a bit. He glides over odd meter very easily and has some nice solos as well. Stu Hamm, while primarily a rock bass player, gets the job done quite well. He holds the groove and is very melodic. His sound is crisp and clear and rounds out the trio nicely. Buy this.
"Music Machine" - Stride
-this is an progmetal instrumental disk that I picked up from Guitar Nine Records. They sound heavily influenced by Dream Theater, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The guitarist (Joel Gregoire), does some tasteful playing reminiscent of John Petrucci. Very melodic, and very fast when he wants to be. His sound is a bit to "produced" for my taste but compliments the band very well. The keys sound nice and have a lot of the classic "progmetal" sounds. The soloing is fiery and there are some nice guitar/key exchanges a la Symphony X. The bass (Marcus Johnson) holds his own amidst the chaos and grounds the band in groove and melodicism. The drums are decent. It would be great to hear some more soloing from the drummer as I think he has a bit more to offer than what is on the disk. In general this album is nicely produced and sounds very pro. I just wish the soloing was a bit more balanced to include the bass player and drummer more.
Well the snow is finally melting. It's supposed to get up to about 70 deg or so in the next couple of days so I'm hopin' to put away the snowshovel for good, as are a lot of other people in my area.
On to business...
Unfortunatley Co-Ax hit a major pothole these past weeks. Our bass player Joe decided to call it quits due to conflicting personality issues. Joe was a great asset to the band and will be sorely missed. I wish him the best and I hope he finds what he is looking for. Soooooooooooooo...we are back in "record" mode and trying to locate another bass player. Since our drummer Dale picked up a VERY nice set of V-Drums (Roland electric drums) we have spent some time tweaking out a killer drum kit for the disk. This will make recording the drums much MUCH easier as we won't have to worry about micing up an acoustic kit. We are undecided about rerecording the existing drums, I think we are just going to play it by ear and see what happens. Either way though we are very excited about continuing this project to fruition.
On the homefront my project is progressing rapidly. I'm in the midst of constructing solos and laying down rhythm tracks to the final song. The CD will prolly clock in at over an hour. I'm very psyched about this as I felt Wyrd was a bit short at 40+min. The disk has been tentatively named "Azrael Block" and there is a tentative track list below (order and names are subject to change).
1. Azrael Block
2. Deceiving the Industry
3. Tech Support
4. Uncle Knucklez
As far as artwork goes I have 3 (color) panels pretty much done so I'll be starting to work on the inside soon. Also I'm planning to launch a new site with the album so I have a bit of work ahead.
Wyrd continues to gain a bit of momentum as I've had some people contact me about airplay which is cool. You'll be able to hear me on "Les décibels sont dans les prés" (Radio Mercure, 87.6 MHz) outside of Paris and also the program "Guitarist" played on Radyokozmos out of Istanbul Turkey. Also there have been many stations on Mp3.com that have been kind enough to add me to their playlists. Check out:
BallBuster - Heaviness with passion, style and intelligence.
A Load Of Great Music - Major Label & MP3.com: AltRock, Top40, Punk
Progressive Metal MegaStation - 90+ reviewed prog/ metal songs.
FPT ROCKS - Dedicated to the art of guitar.
Progressive Epics - Intricate compositions and beautiful playing.
Guitar Player - Electric and acoustic guitar players.
StormShock - The best black, dark, and melodic metal.
The Fires Within - Instrumentals
Progressive for the Brain - Music from thought provoking musicians!
These are all great stations for guitar driven music and all the players are killer. Definitley worth a couple 'o listens.
So there ya go!
Stuff I'm listening to:
OSI - Kevin Moore, John Matheos, Mike Portnoy, Sean Malone
Very big departure for Mr. Portnoy as he takes on the role of follower instead of leader. His drumming is restrained and fits the music perfectly. His overalll kit sound is nicely defined and seems well produced. John Matheos' guitar sound is monsterous and very easy to listen to. I do wish there was a wee bit of wankery in there to satisfy us geetar geeks. His playing is very tasteful though and does the job quite nicely. Sean Malone played bass on this project and I feel should have been spotlighted a bit more as he is a great talent. Also he was a little under mixed, bummer. The real star of this show is the ex-DT key player Kevin Moore. Specializing in ambient soundscapes instead of technical virtuosity he makes his presence known through subtlety. He also pretty much ripped apart all the original tracks and put them back togther again according to his vision. With that said the music is ethereal in nature (a la Chroma Key) and is quite moody. There are some aggressive parts as well but you are not going to find any technical wizadry here. Kevin takes on vocal duties as well after Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation) left the project. I could see how Gildenlow's voice and this music would have been a bad fit. Moore's vocal stylings are very sedate and introspective. He definitley is not a belter by any stretch. But he gets the job done relatively well. All in all I think it's a great disk and I hope they go for a second.
The birds are singing, the taxes have been mailed, the raking is almost done, hey what's to complain about? Nuthin' so the ranting we'll be kept to a minimum.
Lessee...I finished the rhythm tracks for my last tune, (can I have a Hallelujah!) Solos are pretty much completed for three songs (Uncle Knucklez, Azrael Block and Tech Support). I also started laying out the new site to help promote this sonic abomination.
Wyrd continues to do well. (believe it or not) I can't believe it's been almost two years now. Anyways I was contacted by a couple of sites over in Italy (The Shapeless Zine, and Nero Opaco). They were interested in my disk so I sent them over for their evaluation. I held my own thankfully. Thanks again to Marius and Teo, you guys rock. If you want, you can check out the reviews here: The Shapeless Zine, Nero Opaco. They are in Italian so if you can't read Italian you can head over to Babelfish for a quick translation.
The band is shuffeling along at a pretty modest pace. We are making progress though. Jeff's been editing drum tracks and making sure all is cool before we start the rest of the tracks. Logo ideas and artwork are starting to come to fruition which is cool as well.
Stuff I'm listening to:
"Ink Complete" - Spastik Ink
Ok, this disk is way fucked up. Very progressive bordering on avante gard. It's like an experiment. The players include: Ron Jarzombek on guitars, Pete Perez on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums. The tunes are pretty much based on rhythmic concepts or simply stories brought to life through music. They also set limits on themselves by using a specific meter or scale pattern. On one song they limit themselves to only using two different notes (C,C#) over a 4/4 meter. Needless to say it sounds like they are using many more notes than just the two. It's very cool to listen to how these guys pull this stuff off. This is highly technical music played with pinpoint accuracy. This disk is definitley more than a novelty. I dig it.
"Dead Soul Tribe" - Dead Soul Tribe
Devon Graves (ex-vocalist for Psychotic Waltz) spearheaded this project, writing the music, lyrics and playing electric/acoustic guitars, bass flute, keys, percussion and singing. Adel Moustafa handles the drum kit and finally Volker Wilschko deals with everything else (whatever that may be). I think what struck me first was the packaging of the disk. It came in a very cool booklet type case with some very high quality graphic work. The inside of the booklet contains the obligatory pics 'o the band 'n stuff, but presented tastefully. Also lyrics are written out for each tune and they are accompanied by some nice artwork. On to the music. I kinda figured that since Devon Graves was the head honcho of this project I was going to be hit by some fairly progressive stuff. I was pretty off base on that assumption. While the music is good it is also a bit forgettable. Devon's vocal stylings are chameleon like. He can sound exactly like Maynard James Keenan or Rob Zombie with frightful accuracy. The music is the downtuned crunchy fare with some interesting meters and rhythms. Somewhat in the same vein as Tool but with more of a Nu Metal type sound. It is very well produced and easy to listen to. I just wish it retained some of its own identity. Afterall, the players have serious talent.
I can't believe summer is almost here. Man Memorial Day is in a couple of weeks and then it's time for the AC. Well I'm hoping it won't be too bad heat wise. Anyways...
Azrael Block has progressed...a lot. I've been burnin' the candle at both ends to try to wrap this thing up. Here's the update. The following have been tracked to completion: Unckle Knucklez, Azrael Block, Tech Support, Flatline, Sever and Difuncked. Solos need to be done for Deceiving the Industry, F.O.E., Interlude, Dinner and Dancing and Sneakers. Pretty much all the synth stuff is done as well. After solos comes tweaking, mixing and mastering.
The new web site has been layed out a bit and the hierarchy has been set up. I'm starting to pull new content together and consolidate some of the older stuff. I plan on having some cool wallpapers and screensavers relating to the release available for download. (woohoo)
Chris Ruel at Eclectic Earwig Reviews was kind enough to listen to Wyrd and give his feedback Check it out! (thankfully it was positive). Thanks Chris for taking the time and energy for writing such a great review. Also Metal-Rules' JP did a nice tongue and cheek write up on Wyrd as well. On the local front I'm very psyched that I got reviewed in a newspaper out of Queens NY called "Wide Angle NY". Mickey Z (author of "The Murdering of My Years") was into the disk so he did a nice piece on it in the "close up" section. Thanks again Mickey!
The band continues...Jeff has taken the lead on developing the Co-Ax website (with input from the two other boneheads of course). We are laying down some rhythm trax as well. Every thing sounds good so far so we shall see...
Stuff I'm listening to:
"Damnation" - Opeth
This is kinda like Opeth lite. If you are into the more mellow and acoustic pieces of Opeth sans death vocals then pick up this disk.
I think the disk is great! No really. They recorded this at the same time as Deliverance in the course of 5 weeks (I think). To be able to pull that off is a feat in itself. But to have two very different albums both of which are amazing...well that's just plain sick. Mr. Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame had his hands on this disk as well. It shows too. The production is excellent. Especially the electric guitar sounds. They sound moody as hell. The acoustics are crisp and present and the bass is also placed just right in the mix. The only thing that I find a little lacking is the drum sounds, especially the snare. It sounds kinda weak but that's just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions. The vocals are awesome. I never tire of his voice. They put some nice effects on his tracks that really accent the tunes nicely. As far as the songwriting goes it is pretty much what you would expect from the mellower side of Opeth. One thing that really caught me by surprise was the mellotron (or synth). They used it quite a bit and they used it well. What a cool sounding instrument. If you are a fan get this disk, if you are not a fan...get this disk.
Well hey there, the ark is finally done! HELLO...it can stop raining now!! HELLO!! Here in soggy Cortland/Yorktown NY it has been raining like, oh, I don't know 5,698,745,263 f%$@ing days!! Gettin' tired of gettin' wet. Rant rant, blah blah blah, bitch moan etc etc...
Azrael Block progress continued- (just in case ya'll wanna know)
-Azrael Block (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered))
-Uncle Knucklez (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Difunckt (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Flatline (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Sever (tracked to competion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Deceiving the Industry (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Dinner and Dancing (arranged-needs additional tracking)
-Interlude-A (rhythm tracks done-needs solos)
-Pickpocket (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Blackened (rhythm tracks done-needs synth work and solos)
-Tech Support (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
-Skitzophraniac (tracked to completion-needs to be mixed/mastered)
I'm gettin' there. These last few tunes are tough and I don't wanna wimp out on them, especially Blackened (no it's not a Metallica cover). Haven't worked to much on the website but I did put together some pretty cool wallpapers and I made a pretty disturbing screensaver as well. Yeehaw!
Ytsejam.com Hey what can I say Koggie rules. He was kind enough to let me take part in a compilation cd he is putting togethercalled "Ytsejams Vol II". There are some excellent artists on this disk. He put two tracks from Wyrd on there (11th Portal and Trust). I'm very psyched and appreciative. Here be the tracklist.
1. "11th Portal" by Greg Rapaport
2. "Down" by Black Earth
3. "Truth Undiscovered" by Mythologic
4. "She's Drowning" by Elsinore
5. "Some Kind of Concept (part 1)" by RWA
6. "New day" by Tony Piccoli
7. "World of Hurt" by Razor Wire Shrine
8. "When Angels Fall" by Elsinore
9. "Trust" by Greg Rapaport
10. "Into The Shadow" by Dylan Walter
Thanks again Koggie!
I wanna say thanks to Federico Marongiu at Music Extreme for an insightful review of Wyrd. Check it out here. It seems that people overseas are more inclined to listen to "experimental" music. But don't get me started on the whole US "music mindset" shtick.
The band continues...oh yes ladies an gentlemen we have made some headway. All rhythm trax are done and vocals are 90% there on our first tune "Crimescene". There is a lot going into this one. We still have to put down some samples, synth work, and solos. It's actually starting to sound like something. We are psyched.
Stuff I'm listening to:
"Black Utopia" - Derek Sherinian
I gotta tell you, I'm torn on this one. There is some amazing talent on this disk. First off, love him or hate him, you got Yngwie Malmsteen. Also Zack Wylde, Al DiMeola and Steve Lukathar all manning the guitar tracks. Tony Franklin and Billy Sheehan are on bass. Simon Phillips on drums, Jerry Goodman on violin and of course Derek Sherinian on keys. What's cool about this disk is the combination of these players on the different tracks. The second track "The Sons of Anu" has Al DiMeola, Yngwie Malmsteen and Billy Sheehan on it. "Axis of Evil" has Zakk Wylde and Malmsteen... very interesting. The combinations are enough to pique any guitar player's interest... sure piqued mine.
I have mixed feelings about the tunes. The first tune "The Fury", is essentially Sherinian laying down some pads behind a genuine harmonic minor shred frenzy by you know who. I lived through it, hey it's only 51 seconds long. "The Sons of Anu is next. I'm thinking that this may be the best track of the lot. Excellent songwriting and interesting changes. "Nightmare Cinema" is of course a Zakk tune. His signature downtuned swampy sound is all over this one. It's cool though. Nice 'n crunchy. Next up is "Stony Days" with Lukather. This one sort of crosses into the fusion realm. While a very nice tune it didn't really grab me. Lukethar does some nice melodic stuff here though. "Starcycle" features Lukethar again. This tune is much more interesting then the last. Cool key/guitar unison lines in the head. Sherinian does some nice soloing on this one as well. "Axis of Evil with YJM and ZW is a little bit too "80ls for me. The beginning especially sounds like "Bark at the Moon", by Ozzy. The thing that's cool is to hear YJM and Zakk trade licks just to see how their styles compliment eachothers. Overall nice aggressive tune. Next is "Gypsy Moth" with Al DiMeola on acoustic and Jerry Goodman on violin. Very cool interplay between the both of them. "Sweet Lament" is a balladesque tune which I really didn't get into that much. But it is a nice backdrop for some tasty playing by Lukethar. Last but not least is the title track "Black Utopia" which is essentially a good 'ole Zakk Wylde chug fest. While I find that for the most part the tunes were good I did notice a kind of sameness between them. Lemme explain, for example the tunes that Zakk was featured on had the same vibe to them, down tuned crunchy chugging with very similar riffs. Also YJM's solos all sounded very much the same, all fast and for the most part all in harmonic minor.
The thing that really bummed me about this potentially great disk is the production. What happened? "Inertia" and "Moonbabies" has stellar production. This disk is lacking a bit in this department. The guitars sound really thin and weak. Especially YJM's. Can't really here any bass on this disk as well. Man, if you have Tony Franklin and Billy Sheehan playin', bump 'em up in the mix a bit or at least dial them in better EQ wise. The drums sound decent enough and the keys are ok. But man the guitars...oh well you get the idea.
You can see how I'm torn here. The talent alone is amazing, but collectively, I was left nonplussed. I think if the overall production was better I would be more psyched about the disk. That's not to say that this disk is bad, it's just that I was expecting to be completely blown away.
Well another hot 4th of July has passed us by. I hope everyone blew up the appropriate explosives while keeping all appendages intact.
Azrael Block progress continued- (just in case ya'll wanna know)
-Azrael Block (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Uncle Knucklez (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Difunckt (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Flatline (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Sever (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Deceiving the Industry (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Dinner and Dancing (arranged-needs additional tracking)
-Interlude-A (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Pickpocket (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-No Solace (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Tech Support (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
-Skitzophraniac (tracked/mixed - needs to be mastered)
Blackened got changed to No Solace 'cause I don't wanna get sued by Metallica. The mixes are sounding decent. I had to do a bit of automation to smooth out the bumps but it looks real close. I'll prolly be putting up a track for download as soon as I wrap one up.
Ok the big news this month is that I got retail distribution for Wyrd. I am very psyched about this. It's going to be a lot of work as far as promotion goes but at least my disk will be in stores. I was able to sign with "Nation Jam" in conjunction with the Localeyez program (TransWorld Entertainment). So it looks like I'll be in the following stores to start:
FYE - Jefferson Valley Mall 650 Lee Blvd, Yorktown Heights NY
FYE - Palisades Center 3502 Palisades Cent. Dr. West Nyack NY
FYE - Nanuet Mall 75 W Route 59 Nanuet NY
Coconuts - Crossroads Shopping Cent. 413 Tarrytown Rd White Plains NY
Coconuts - Dalewood Shopping Cent. 355N Central Ave. Hartsdale NY
FYE - The Westchester 125 Westchester Ave White Plains NY
FYE - Newburgh Mall 1401 Rt. 300 Newburgh NY
Coconuts - 1400 Rt. 300 Newburgh NY
FYE - Danbury Fair Mall 7 Backus Ave. Danbury CT
Saturday Matinee - Danbury Fair Mall 7 Backus Ave. Danbury, CT
Strawberries -3 Backus Ave. Danbury CT
Coconuts - Ridgeway Shopping Center 2147 Summer St Stamford CT
Coconuts - Caldor Plaza Boston Post Rd. Port Chester NY
FYE - Poughkeepsie Galleria 2001 South Rd. Poughkeepsie NY
FYE - Paramus Park 102 Paramus Park Paramus NJ
Coconuts - 91 Route 4 Paramus NJ
FYE - Bergen Mall 224 Bergen Mall Paramus NJ
FYE - 5540 Broadway Bronx, NY
FYE - Galleria At Crystal Run 1N Galleria Dr. Middletown NY
I want to say thanks to Scott Ryder CEO of NationJam for all his help and advice on getting the ball rolling. I'm hoping to have cds in the stores sometime in August (details to come).
Also I had the opportunity to play at the "Funky Bean Cafe" on weds. 7/16. Lou Ubriaco (my guitar teacher) and Jason Brower (resident kick ass drummer) backed up a bunch of Lou's students including: Brian "Yngwie" Holt, Rob "Henderson" Derazmo, John "DiMeola" Dwyer, and a bunch of others. It was a lot of fun and we get to do the whole thing again this coming weds.
CO-AX is rolling along nicely as we have begun final mixing on "Crimescene" and it sounds really quite good. Jeff did a nice job on the vocals and his input on producing them was invaluable. We'll be putting up the track as a free download as soon as it's done.
Stuff I'm listening to:
"How The West Was Won" - DVD Led Zeppelin
Ok as a certified Zeppelin fanatic since age 9 I will try not to be too biased in this little write up...yeah right.
Zeppelin shines through this DVD. This collection of live footage makes "The Song Remains The Same" completely unworthy. When I put the disk in and they come out on stage of the Royal Albert Hall (1970) and Bonham sits down and warms up on the drums I knew that I was in for it. They broke into "We're Gonna Groove" with such attitude and power I got chills. Jimmy Page was wearing an argyle sweater vest looking like he just got out of school gives the performance an innocence that you would never thought existed. John Paul Jones is up in the mix and you finally see how invaluable he was in Led Zeppelin. He plays with such fluidity and stays with Bonham effortlessly. In fact I think this compilation really showcases the rhythm section of Zeppelin and how they really held the music together. Jimmy Page's performances were also much better than in "Song Remains The Same". He is much tighter but still has that raw urgency. Plant hits a lot more notes and his intonation is much more accurate. They play a lot of interesting tunes. My faves include: We're Gonna Groove, Moby Dick, The Ocean, In My Time of Dying, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Sick Again and Achilles Last Stand.
Royal Albert Hall - 1970
Madison Square Garden - 1973
Earls Court - 1975
Knebworth - 1979
Plus cool extras like: NYC press conference, assorted promos, TV performances etc.
This disk is a must have.
Summer is over...
so hey, I'll put up a new website. I busted my ass and slept maybe 20 minutes or so for the past 2 months trying to get this thing together but it kept me off the streets.
I made some wacky screensavers/wallpapers which are pretty entertaining so feel free to download 'em. There's also a bunch of sound clips from some stuff I worked on in the past and also there's a couple of new clips from Azrael Block. Feel free to check 'em out and rip me a new one on the guestbook. yeehaw!
Azrael Block is pretty much done.
Final track list is as follows:
-Azrael Block - (6:22)
-Tech Support (4:47)
-Uncle Knucklez (5:31)
-Interlude - B (5:15)
-Deceiving the Industry (6:06)
-Dinner and Dancing (6:14)
-No Solace (8:00)
All I have left is wrapping up the artwork, liner notes and getting it ready for replication.
I shipped out 120 CDs (Wyrd) to Trans World Entertainment the other day so I'm hoping they'll start to filter into stores in the next two weeks or so.
The CO-AX website is now up. So stop over there and download "Crimescene" because it freakin rocks! Also delight yourself in the profound and unruly commentary from me and Jeff Skee.
Stuff I'm listening/watching:
Since I live in the 17th century and have no cable TV (or any reception for that matter). I checked out the first season of The Osbournes on DVD last nite. Well I have to tell you I fell on the floor laughing quite a few times. I guess you could label it tragic humor? I love Ozzy, I was more into his solo stuff than Sabbath. Diary of a Madman is a classic. All those wannabe metal bands out there should observe a minute or two of silence for the Oz man. I liked it especially when he was on tour and the whole argument about the "bubbles". Classic. Also it was cool to see Rob Zombie and Zakk Wylde in there as well.
Sorry about the lack of updating up things have been a bit busy 'round here. I had to go on the ol' family vacation down to Disney World. Oh man, what a challenge. First off it was HOT, I mean like real HOT as in 90 degrees. We went down for 5 days. We caught an early flight and got to FLA around 10:30am or so. So we went right to Sea World before checking into the hotel. Day 2 we hit the Magic Kingdom (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz). Day 3 we went to the Animal Kingdom that wasn't bad. Day 4 we hit MGM Studios. That was pretty cool. I checked out the Aerosmith ride and it was fairly exhilerating. Day 5 I went on strike and hung out while everyone else went back to Sea World. I had had enough at that point. So we get home Fri. nite. Wake up Sat. morning and my computer shits the proverbial bed. So I had to completely wipe my hardrive and reinstall the OS and chase down a billion Windows updates and security patches and an assload of drivers. Essentially it took me 2 days to get my machine ready for work on Tues. Big drag.
On the music front things have been pretty quiet. I've been finalizing artwork for Azrael Block and putting everything together to send out. I contacted Magnetic Air, the replication company that I use, and unfortunatley they don't offer hard copy proofs of the graphics anymore. So they recommended that I take some of the artwork to a service bureau (printer) and have a print made of one of the jacket panels to make sure the color is where I want it to be. I learned that there could be quite a difference between a home printer printout and a pro printer printout. It seems that a home printer can widen the color gamet (range) and include colors that may not be available on a pro printer. Weird but true. So that's pretty much all I have left to do.
As far as Wyrd goes it continues to trickle into the retail enviroment. I'm going to try to pay a visit to a bunch of the nearby stores just to make sure that the disk isn't buried in the '70s easy listening section. I do have some pretty interesting news about Wyrd but I don't want to divulge it just yet because it's way to early and nothing remotely final has been decided.
Co-Ax continues its quest for the elusive bass player. We are to be having a audition on Fri. so we shall see.
Stuff I've been listening to.
Dennis Chambers -0utbreak
-this a cool disk featuring some great players and of course Dennis Chambers (one of my fave drummers). Some of the guests include the great Gary Willis (Tribal Tech) on bass and John Scofield (guitar).
Other players include:
-Bobby Malach (bass sax)
-Jon Herrington (guitar)
-Nick Moroch (guitar)
-Jim Beard (Hammond Organ)
-Rodney "Skeet" Curtis (bass)
-Arturo Tuncboyaciyan (congas)
-Randy Brecker (trumpet)
-Michael Davis (trombone)
-Bobby Malach (tenor sax)
-Aaron Heick (alto sax)
The disk employs a lot of my favorite styles and is a trip to the land of funk. Alot of great grooves which Dennis Chambers is famous for and the interplay between him and Gary Willis, or any bass player for that matter is truly inspirational.
Roll Call (Beard) - upbeat funk tune with horn section (featuring some great soloing). Pretty straightforward groove. Nice opener.
Otay (Scofield) - One of my faves on the disk. Willis lays down a very cool groove and Chambers weaves his way in and around it. Scofield lays down some nice melodic stuff and also does a little experimenting as well. Beard accents nicely with the Rhodes piano. The song is fairly remeniscent of a Tribal Tech tune. The overall groove is solid and almost aggressive but not overbearing.
Groovus Interruptus (Beard) - Clavinet!! You gotta love the clavinet. The song is a straight up funk tune. Nice horn melodies. A little bit repetive but cool nonetheless.
Paris On Mine (Herrington) - a low key song accented with some great drum work by Chambers. Actually his drum sound is excellent on this tune, especially the toms. Herrington lays down some fiery solo lines, very bluesy. He really brings the tune out front, especially when he doubles up with the sax.
In Time (Sylvester Stewart) - congas out front for the beginning of this tune. Nice interplay between all the instruments in this tune (cool with the headphones on).
Plan B - (Dean Brown, Beard, Herrington) - nice laid back groove. Almost like something MMW would come up with. Very nice soloing by Randy Brecker no this one. Chambers is super tight and plays just the right amount making this a fun tune to listen to.
Outbreak (Beard, Herrington) - Chambers and Willis lock it up with an aggressive groove that sets the tone for this song. The horns accent with an almost pad like melodicism while Chambers is relentlessly pushing them along. Beard on the Rhodes plays some nice solos accenting nicely with Michael Brecker's fiery sax lines. This tune is number 2 on my list.
Baltimore DC (Scofield) - pretty much a typical laid back Scofield tune. Not too much in the way of fireworks but the groove is solid and Willis lays down some nice lines. Scofield is his usual greasy self making use of the wah pedal and laying down some nice solo lines as well. Around 4:30 Chambers lets loose with a nice showcase of his talent. He is fast, smooth, and inspiring.
Talkin Loud and Sayin Nothin (James Brown, Bobby Byrd) - Nice remake featuring most of the players. Scofield plays some wacky lines in this one, angular and outside. Laid back in a good way and is a great closer to a great disk.
So now that Halloween is over one can concentrate on the commercial fiasco that is the Holiday Season. Oh yes, as the general population gets barraged with cataloges of crap that nobody can afford (theoretically), the retailers will put up their Xmas decorations and try to put everyone in the spend...holiday mood. Two words...Bite Me. Then you run into those people who have already finished their Xmas shopping..."oh yes, I finished a week or so ago. How about you, are you finished?". I mean do these people hold down a job or what?...Bite Me. Then you have to start thinking about what you are going to get your spouse, g/f, b/f. Hmmmmm...then when you ask them they say something like, "Surprise me", or , "Why don't you make me something". Make you something? Like what? Like a cake? Or a clay ashtray? C'mon. Who has time to make anything. So the best way to handle the situation is to put a list on the fridge that says "______'s Xmas List". Put it up now. They'll start to jot some stuff down. You know like that new "Sugar Hill Gang" cd, or that sweater they saw at the Gap. Problem solved.
Azrael Block has been sent out for replication. I should be getting them in a week or so (hopefully). The boys at Magnetic Air took care of it for me again as they always do such a bang up job. So in the mean time I've been trying to line up some reviews and airplay. Anyways I'm pretty proud of the disk, it was an incredible amount of work and I'm glad the project is done and out the door. Now of course comes the fun part. Marketing it.
I got a surpise in my email box the other day. It turns out a review popped up from a site that I had contacted a while back. The site, "Sea of Tranquility" is a great prog, rock, metal site. It has a large database of reviews and news. Very cool. So Mike Popke was kind enough to have a listen to my disk and write some commentary which you can read here. Also Wyrd is finally on the floor of most of the retail outlets that have it in stock. Finally. So while your out shopping for your significant other, pick up my disk and support us independent musicians!
Stuff I'm listening to:
Extraction - Greg Howe, Victor Wooten, Dennis Chambers
This disk be the shiznit yo. No really. Howe is in fine form on this album. He had a lot of problems with recording this disk due to non compatible sound files so unfortunatley he had to redo it. What a drag, but worth the wait. First tune:
Extraction - good tune to kick things off. High energy notey Howe type fusion. Also in the beginning of the tune Dennis Chambers lets us have a little drum solo, which is tastefully done and not drawn out to the point of self castration. Mr. Wooten plays more of a supportive role by hanging out in the pocket and delivering the goods.
Tease - hands down my favorite tune on the disk. *Gets on soapbox and goes off on tangent* I gotta get this off my chest. My wife picked up the new Outkast cd that everybody is raving about. Now I'm not a big rap, hip hop guy but I like a good groove just like everybody else. Now this Outkast cd is a double disk from two different artists (Big Boi and Andre 3000). So there is a lot of material on this album. I think if you added up all the groove and grit on this Outkast disk it wouldn't even equal the first measure of Tease. Some people need to stop playing with their beat boxes and samplers and get back to basics. (no offense intended). Needless to say this tune is full of attitude, grit, clavinet, and old school funk.
Crack It Way Open - solid fusion. The beginning wanders a bit but when the head comes in everything locks up nicely. Nice melodic bass solo, of course Wooten adds some of his shred slap sensiblilty. Chambers pretty much holds down the fort while Howe lets loose. Then does a nice musical drum solo with a bunch of his Chamberisms that make it so much fun to listen to.
Contigo - mellow tune with a latin feel. Not aggressive enough for me but nice none the less. The thing that bums me out about this tune is that I have a feeling Howe plugged in his electric acoustic instead of micing up an acoustic guitar. Other than that the song is a pleasant diversion.
Protocosmos - a perennial fave of mine. Originally written by Alan Pasqua and performed by the otherworldly Allan Holdsworth, Pasqua, Tony Williams and Tony Newton. Howe adds a rock dynamic to the tune and makes it even more aggressive and a great listen. Chambers cops Williams' riffs to a tee and adds a couple of his making it his own. Wooten adds some really nice lines as well, locking up with Chambers and creating a nice background for Howe too solo over.
A Delicacy - a solo acoustic piece showing Howe's versatility. It's a nice diversion but I'd rather hear a miced up acoustic instead of one plugged into the board. (my opinion)
Lucky 7 - More fierce funk. Howe doubles it up with a Rhodes piano with a nice melody line. Interjecting some nice odd meter grooves with the wah on the rhythm guitar makes for a nice listening experience. Definitley an old skool vibe here, very refreshing in a land of sampling and 808's and 707's. Wooten puts down a decent bass solo. Howe enlisted Dave Cook to add some keyboard solos which really add to the authenticity. Especially that Rhodes, perfect.
Ease Up - is a laid back tune employing some extraneous percussion for spice. The breakdown is pretty sedate with a flute sounding keyboard solo, good for contrast. Overall a pretty mellow tune with some nice melodic soloing. Not enough action for me though.
Bird's Eye View - is a bit more high energy with some nice dynamics to keep the interest there. The theme gets a little redundant though. Of course there is nice soloing by Howe and a great ensemble performance in general.
Other crap I wanna say about this disk:
The production is good, not great. I think the production on Chamber's album "Outbreak" is quite a bit better. I think Howe should get his disk mixed by Phil Magnotti 'cause that guy knows his trade. Overall performances were great. Howe was his usual high octane self which is what you'd expect . His guitar sounds are similiar to what he's used in the past. Except he isn't sounding quite as compressed (could be me though). What really stood out were his rhythm guitar sounds, man they sound great. Not harsh at all and very easy to listen to at high volumes. Wooten's performance was good as well. It seemed like he focused more on staying in the pocket and less on acrobatics this time around. Chambers was excellent as well. Nice grooves, nice fills, nice solos. His sound wasn't all that happening but his performance was on the money. 'nuff said.
Ok, no need for my ridiculous small talk. The disk is finally available. Everything looks great and from what I can tell sounds just as it should. (whew) I wanna thank the boys at Magnetic Air for their great work and attention to detail.
As of now the disk is available on Guitar Nine Records and CD Baby. If you decide to buy it feel free to email me and let me know how you feel about it (good or bad). I'm always up for constructive criticism. I also put up a couple more clips up off the disk for your sonic perusal. They are fairly decent in quality so you'll get a better idea of the tunes.
Well Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now the Christmas bells are ringing and mall santas are cringing. Oh yes, it's that time of year ladies and gentlemen. Time to empty out your pockets and spend waaaayyyy beyond your means. Ah... the commercial appeal that is Christmas. Frankly one of the best things about the internet is that if you plan well enough ahead you can get your shopping done without the lines, screaming, piped in played out holiday music and general mayhem. But I'll prolly end up in the mall on Xmas eve anyways, bleary eyed, wandering aimlessly trying to find the perfect gift for my better half. Oh well one can dream.
Azrael Block is out and available. Please feel free to pick one up for your guitar freak relative as it makes a neato holiday gift. I sent some presskits out for review so hopefully I'll have someone elses opinion on the disk besides yours truly. I also posted two more clips for your listening pleasure and I have actually started to record some new ideas for...ah forget it it's too soon.
An installment or two ago I posted that I may have some good news about "Wyrd", well I haven't gotten word yet so we'll see. Let's see anything else? Oh yeah this is pretty cool. My guitar instructor Lou Ubriaco down at U Music is putting together a Jazz Workshop which will be very cool. We've been working on a few tunes for it, Protocosmos, Freedom Jazz Dance, and Maiden Voyage. Protocosmos is pretty much set, Maiden Voyage, not too big a problem, but the beginning of Freedom Jazz Dance is spanking me pretty hard.
What I've been listening to:
Train of Thought - Dream Theater
Well this disk has really caused quite a brewhaha on the DT forum as of late. I for one was a bit surprised at how many detractors there were. Does this mean I like the disk? Well... yes and no.
Let's start with the yes.
- I think the riffage on the disk is great.
- The solos are shrederiffic.
- The drums are articulate and in your face.
- The bass can finally be heard *clouds part with a heavenly aaahhhhhh*.
- Keyboard parts are cool and supplement the music in a positive way.
- The vocals are good as they have good expression and can also get down 'n dirty.
And the no.
- While the riffage is solid and enticing it again comes too close to their influences.
- John Petrucci has upped the ante again when it comes to technique. His solos are insanely fast and well that's about it. Not too much melodicism. His previous solos complimented the songs while these solos kinda run around them.
- While the drums do get the job done quite well there is nothing really new here. I was hoping for some new fills, interesting polyrhythms or some new sounds.
-John Myung is an extraordinary talent and his bass parts can now finally be heard. Now we just need to turn him up louder!
-Rudess is an alien, there is no doubt about that. While I know that this is supposed to be Dream Theater's "metal album" I just wish there was more of Rudess's keyboard wizadry in there. I think that he has such a strong presence that he hasn't quite locked in with the band yet. Hopefully by the next album they'll take full advantage of what he has to offer.
-James LaBrie, you either love him or hate him. Well I fall into that skinny margin that thinks he's good on some stuff and not so good on other stuff. To be honest with you I think he did really well on this album. Think about it. All he does is pretty much execute instructions from other people. That's gotta be hard. The singer has to deal with the limits of his skill and anatomy while singing someone elses words and melodies.
And now on to the overall production:
Instead of recording at Bear Tracks Dream Theater kinda recorded at a few differents spots this time around. While I think that the production is on par with their last recording I think that it could probably use a little sprucing up. We don't really have a lot of dynamics in the recording. Everything sounds flat and one dimensional. Kinda like a big wall of sound. And as I'm writing this that is probably what they wanted for this type of record. Afterall it is a metal record. Me personally, I like a little depth and space that way when you put the headphones on you feel the music around you instead of coming straight at you, but again this is purely subjective.
Other crap I wanna say about the disk:
Dream Theater wanted to put out a classic metal album...I think they succeeded. They remain truly a progressive band. They keep trying new things with each recording and going in different directions. I think that is really commendable. To me this disk is like dessert, it's not hard to listen to, no storylines to follow, no underlying themes that I should be paying attention to. It's just ear candy... make that hard rock candy...metal candy?
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