Tag Archives: arcade fire

Bike Thief Offer Up Artful Rock

Bike Thief Album Review

We’re a bit late to the party, as this talented young quintet released EPs in 2011 and 2012 that never hit our radar at the farm. They received plenty of appreciation, but thus far, no huge breakthrough hits. That just may be about to change.

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Art rock? Folk rock? Progressive rock? Theatrical rock? Not really sure what label fits Bike Thief most comfortably, but it quickly becomes clear that they offer a distinctive blend of music and vocals that deserves to be on your radar.

At times their music reminds me of two excellent Alt-rock artists in Arcade Fire and The Decemberists; it’s creative, robust rock with a distinctive theatrical flair. For any old-timers reading along, I also felt a Renaissance or very early Genesis kind of vibe as many of the songs are adeptly dotted with precisely placed intricate riffs, runs and accents.

Refreshingly, in contrast to the majority of offerings flooding the current mainstream landscape, Stuck In A Dream is a true album, not just a collection of unrelated singles. There’s a nice easy ebb and flow to the album that connects all of the tracks and makes it more enjoyable to listen to.

I’ve always enjoyed rock music delivered with a healthy dose of violin and this offering is no exception. The album opens with a short, dark violin-powered instrumental; thereafter, strings are nicely weaved between creative guitars and keyboards throughout the album.

The vocals are different. Different in a good way. Again, I got a more theatrical feel from Febian Perez’s vocals, and he boasts a nice range. It wouldn’t work for every band’s music but seems the perfect fit for Bike Thief.

My two favorite tracks bookend the album. The opening track, “Ghosts Of Providence” is an upbeat rocker powered by aggressive drums and soaring keys. On the other end of the spectrum (and album), “Stuck In A Dream” is a maddening ten minute journey that is an absolute musical feast punctuated by chilling piano and scorching guitars.

Between the two aforementioned songs, we are treated to a captivating musical journey that is definitely worthy of a trip. Grab Stuck In A Dream from iTunes below and find out for yourself.

Rock On!
Cretin

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Tour Dates
22 Wed – Charlotte, NC – Muse
23 Thu – Atlanta, GA – Smiths
24 Fri – Birmingham, AL – The Nick
26 Sun – New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar
27 Mon – Houston, TX – Jet Lounge
29 Wed – Austin, TX – Holy Mountain
30 Thu – Ft. Worth, TX – Magnolia Motor Lounge
31 Fri – Albuquerque, NM – 1520 Calle del Ranchero NE, 87106; A Halloween house party!

NOVEMBER
01 Sat – El Paso, TX – Lowbrow
02 Sun – Tuscon, AZ – Flycatcher
03 Mon – Phoenix, AZ – Last Exit Live
04 Tue – Las Vegas, NV – Bunkhouse
05 Wed – Los Angeles, CA – Dirty Laundry
06 Thu – San Francisco, CA – Neck of the Woods
07 Fri – Eugene, OR – Wow Hall

The 25 Greatest Rock Albums Ever, According to Me


A few years ago, I started jotting down thoughts about the seminal albums of my lifetime, the pieces of musical genius that helped shape my musical being.  What better time to dig out that list and freshen it up, as RARA’s Farm posts our one hundredth article.

As a self-described rock ‘n roll freak, there were many fantastic albums to choose from, but what set these apart was that every song on every album was great. Not just one great “side” for you old timers. I will admit first that for most of these, there’s no great deep personal meaning, and for some, I don’t even know the lyrics – but hey, I liked the MUSIC, and it’s my list…

My self inflicted rules: No compilations, which ruled out Bob Marley, The Baby’s, Ramones and the Beautiful South; and no live albums eliminating Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Cheap Trick. Also, I only allowed myself one from each artist. So, with all of those considerations, I think what follows would better be described as 25 Great Albums, not quite the 25 Greatest.

The albums are listed in the order that I fell in love with each of these masterpieces. You can click the iTunes link after each album to check them out yourself.

Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed – my Uncle turned me on to this one and it was my first taste of album rock – a great suggestion by a smart man. Classic rock with a full orchestra, and some pretty diverse stuff. This psychedelic treat is an amazing headphones experience. It was a tough choice between this and Long Distance Voyager, only because Voyager bridged the gap from my Aunts’ and Uncles’ musical era into the 80’s and was the first big concert I attended. Days of Future Passed - The Moody Blues

Who – Who’s Next – sure I was first attracted to “They’re all wasted” from “Baba O’Reilly,”  but this album is packed with nothing but great rock, “The Song is Over” never gets enough credit – but it’s my favorite Who song of all-time. Most of these songs were penned for Lifehouse, Pete Townshend’s failed follow-up to Tommy. This was Townshend’s first major foray into integrating synthesizers and it works perfectly. Who's Next (Remastered) - The Who

Queen – Night at the Opera – My brother loved this album before I did. I actually liked the non-Freddy tunes at first, like Roger Taylor’s “I’m in Love with My Car”, or Brian May’s “39,” but later came to appreciate Freddy’s pure genius on songs like “Love of My Life” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Another very diverse collection. I’m bummed that I never got to see these guys live. A Night At the Opera - Queen

Kansas – Leftoverture – this album was the second album I heard where everything seemed to fit together perfectly (after Nights in White Satin). The best album ever for headphone listening – can’t imagine how many times I fell asleep to this one with those soup bowl sized headphones still on, as the eight track continuously clicked through the tracks. To give you an idea how good this one was, “Carry On My Wayward Son” is the only hit, but probably my least favorite song on this great concept album. Leftoverture - Kansas

Bruce Springsteen – The River – I loved everything Bruce did before this and a few after. With so many great albums, this was a tough decision – but this is a rarity – a double album where every track is strong. The album featured Bruce really diving into relationships and telling stories we could all relate to. “Sherry Darlin,” “Ramrod,” “Crush on You” and “I Wanna Marry You” are in my all-time list for Bruce. Born to Run didn’t exactly suck either. The River - Bruce Springsteen

Cars – Cars – an amazing debut album, and although they followed this with many hits, they never came close to a collection as complete as their initial effort. This is a rarity on the list, an album that I admire, performed by a band that just sucked live on stage. Absolutely love “All Mixed Up/Moving in Stereo,” and not at all because of the Fast Times flashback… The Cars - The Cars

Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes – This was fabulous the first time I heard it and grew better every time I listened to it. I remember playing this often when I first moved away from home to live at college, and the familiar feel eased the transition. Such a smooth diverse album. It starts off with “Refugee” and EVERY song after is better. Great stuff! Damn the Torpedoes (Remastered) - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Meatloaf – Bat Out of Hell – Meat sure could sing, but the arrangements and musicians on this album overshadow his great voice. This is one of the few where I knew every word to every song. These are still classic and timeless party songs, including Phil Rizzuto’s captivating play-by-play and the perfect boy/girl trade-offs of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” And, “No,” you don’t sound just like the record when drunkenly singing this at late night karaoke! Bat Out of Hell - Meat Loaf

Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – My first words as an infant were actually “Yeah, Yeah. Yeah,” from their 1963 hit “She Loves You,” but I never realized how great the Beatles were until I got this album. McCartney and Lennon at their best, but this one also features Ringo’s best “With a Little Help from My Friends.” The way the album ends with “A Day in the Life” is the best ending to any album EVER, which is appropriate, as this just might be the best of the best, from the best. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – I loved all of their efforts, including The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon and 1990’s under appreciated Division Bell. But this one, a tribute to the mercurial Syd Barrett is their most musically packed. This classic features “Have a Cigar” and “Welcome to the Machine;” then there’s all nine parts and 26 plus minutes of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,”  just amazing… Wish You Were Here (Remastered) - Pink Floyd

The Alarm – Strength – One late night on my first shift on college radio I popped in the cart for “68 Guns” and fell in love with this unknown band – two years later, they released Strength, and played close by. I skipped the show because the $3.00 price tag was the equivalent of 30 beers at the Bus Stop – figured I’d have plenty of other chances. Unfortunately a few years later Mike Peters walked off the stage in the middle of “Blaze of Glory” and they were done. This album features the classic “Spirit of 76,” and the song I walked down the aisle to: “Walk Forever by my Side.” Strength 1985-1986 (Remastered) - The Alarm

REM – Reckoning – yeah, I confess that I don’t understand the lyrics to half of these songs – but does anybody? Every one of the tracks off of the band’s second album is a memorable ditty. Simple, catchy and fun. My first “go to” album as a college DJ. “Pretty Persuasion,” “So. Central Rain (Sorry)” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” were the classics, but “Harborcoat” and “7 Chinese Bros.” were just as good. Reckoning - R.E.M.

Prince – Purple Rain – Truthfully, a girl named Nikki turned me on to this one, but I did not meet her in a hotel lobby…  Before this, I thought Prince was a flash-in-the-pan pop star. This album proved he was a rock legend, and that my first impressions were pretty pathetic and way off-base. Solid from the first note of “Lets Go Crazy” through the final chords of “Purple Rain;” and it includes my all-time favorite Prince song, “Baby I’m a Star.” Purple Rain (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) - Prince & The Revolution

Alice Cooper – Schools Out – Didn’t listen to this until long after it was released when I stumbled across it on my late night Heavy Metal show. It’s another great concept album, with lots of creative stuff complementing the title track. “Public Animal #9” is pure rock, and “Grande Finale” is fantastically diverse! Mr. Furnier never got enough credit for being a great musician, and this classic never gets its just due. School's Out - Alice Cooper

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold – 5 songs. “Industrial Disease” is the only one that ever got any airplay – but this is packed with amazing guitar work from Mark Knopfler. The 14 minute “Telegraph Road” is one of my Top 10 all-time songs, and one of the great drum songs of all time from Pick Withers. It was hard not selecting Brothers In Arms, too. Love Over Gold - Dire Straits

U-2 – The Joshua Tree – I loved Boy, too, and Achtung Baby and Unforgettable Fire, and… This one edges them out because the non-hits are better, including “Trip Through Your Wires,” “Running to Stand Still” and “Red Hill Mining Town.” The album was driven by the band’s new found infatuation with America, but starts off with an amazing song about Belfast, a place where the streets had no name. The Joshua Tree (Remastered) - U2

Thrashing Doves – Bedrock Vice – I’m about to leave the Chestnut Cabaret after an energy packed Chasers show, and these “kids” get on stage pimping their first album. I decide to hang around and loved their stuff. If you ever see this one in a bargain bin grab it. “Biba’s Basement” and “Beautiful Imbalance” were addictive, but “Jesus on the Payroll” was the most intriguing. Definitely the most obscure album on the list, but it’s an unknown treasure.

Paul Westerberg – 14 Songs – I know this will piss off Replacement fans, but I think this is better than any of his efforts with the quartet from Minneapolis. The first time I listened straight through I assumed this was a greatest hits CD – lots of great stuff. “World Class Fad” is tremendous and “Things” is a beautiful ballad. 14 Songs - Paul Westerberg

Barenaked Ladies – Gordon – I bought it for “$1,000,000” – but there were so many more valuable tunes in store. “Enid,” “Grade Nine,” and “Yoko Ono” are just a few of the fun ones.  The album also features the magnificent “Brian Wilson, and some of BNL’s most touching stuff.  The best song is the under-appreciated “What a Good Boy.” Gordon - Barenaked Ladies

Stroke 9 – Nasty Little Thoughts – another band I found by mistake. They opened for someone else – I think Lit – and I loved their stuff. Yup, this is the one with “Little Black Back Pack,” but it’s packed with a bunch of other great tunes. Still amazed this band never took off. On this album, we also get to listen to “Letters,” “Washin’ and Wonderin'” and my favorite S9 tune, “Not Nothin’.” Nasty Little Thoughts - Stroke 9

Flogging Molly – Within a Mile of Home – They admittedly get extra points because of my Irish romanticism. I love the diversity on this one, and the lyrics touch my soul. “Factory Girls,” with a guest spot from Lucinda Williams is a great ride. We get to see the band stretch themselves in new ways, and it works throughout.  “Tobacco Island” is a historic flashback sure to get your Irish up. Within a Mile of Home - Flogging Molly

Green Day – American IdiotDookie and Nimrod were great, too, but I selected this one because it showed how the band was growing and adjusting to the times, and because it absolutely kicks ass. The album is written around a fictitious character “Jesus of Suburbia” and his trials and travails.  The title track is great, and one of a handful of true classics, including “Are We the Waiting,” “Holiday” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  The non-hits include some of the band’s most creative efforts to date, as well. American Idiot - Green Day

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations – One of the first songs I heard on XM’s old Alternative Rock station Ethel was “Starlight.” I went out and bought the album the following day, and it is packed with hard charging rock and roll, pre-Twilight fame. The final track, “Knights of Cydonia” is one of the best songs of the new century. Black Holes and Revelations - Muse

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible – This one is a reflection of the times – The first selection on this list where I don’t own this album, but instead have the MP3’s. Haven’t seen them live yet, but I’m sure they’ll blow me away. From “Black Mirror” to “My Body is a Cage” – they are all powerful songs. Funeral, their debut album, was another great collection. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend – A surprise quirky Indie-Rock hit in 2008. This eponymous debut album was packed with gems that dominated Indie and Alt-Rock radio for a few years.  “A-Punk” was the biggest hit, but there were plenty of other excellent tracks. “Oxford Comma,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Walcott” highlight the band’s diversity. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Just missed – The Clash – London Calling – should have been a single album, there are a dozen or so great songs, but they unfortunately stretched it out to 4 sides, and Armed Forces by Elvis Costello – loved the songs and sang along, even though I still have no idea what “Green Shirt” and “Good Squad” were about…

So, there you have it – a bit longer than I thought, but that was fun for me. If you made it through the entire list, thanks for your patience, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below…

Rock On!
Cretin

Drowning Men Beheading The Song Bird

The Drowning Men
The Drowning Men

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Damn, just seeing that album title convinced me that I needed to listen to this band.  Beheading of the Songbird?  Twisted? Maybe. Interesting? For sure. I think I’d describe it as eclectic and hectic – and good for the ears.

I first became aware of this San Diego area quintet when Flogging Molly brought them on tour and subsequently signed them as the first act on their new Indie label Borstal Beat.

The album was originally released in the UK two years ago, but has just now been released in the United States.  It’s an excellent introduction to their powerful and divers music.  It’s a unique sound. I would imagine the progeny of Arcade Fire and The Pogues would have resulted in a band just like The Drowning Men.

Their music is deep and layered, packed with dark lyrics and filled with passion.  It seems as though it would translate fantastically into an excellent live show.  And, you’ll be able to see for yourself this fall, as they tour the country supporting The Airborne Toxic Event.

The selections on Beheading of The Song Bird are hit or miss, but the best tunes are very strong.  “Songbird” is a future anthem in the making. It’s a song about a troubled youngster struggling with the aftermath of something horrible he’s done: “I took all his worries, I cut away his charm. From the nest to the hand, What a mess Iʼve done.” The song starts with some nice keys from Gabriel Messer and features moving vocals from Nathan “Nato” Bardeen throughout; where he seems to channel Arcade Fire’s Win Butler.

“Oracle Meets Weeping Willows” is beautiful and is a fitting intro to another strong song, “Down These Days,” which resembles Arcade Fire.  “Get A Heart”and “More Than This” are also excellent arrangements that spotlight the band broad musical talent. The songs that feeatured piano and keyboards were the most memorable.

The cut with the greatest potential for airplay is “Rita” driven by the powerful drums of Rory Dolan, and melancholy vocals of a relationship gone bad.  It’s got a nice sing-along vibe despite the dour message.

“Courageous Son” is my personal favorite. The lyrics reflect tough times adjusting to life in America. “This is the wishy washy land, That you hold so dear. This is the final cure, This is America. In their hearts you will never win!” The music belies the lyrics and conjure images of a crazy musical carnival ride. It brought back good memories of The Killers and Pogues. Good stuff!

Check out the tracks on iTunes.

Rock On – Cretin

Thursday Thoughts at the Trough

Just a few random thoughts:

  • In an interview earlier this week with Eric James of The Last Royals, be mentioned Arcade Fire being the band at the top of their game right now.  Hard to argue with that. I love the band and was happy to see them win the Grammy for Album of the Year for their album Suburbs earlier this year.  Although Suburbs is indeed Grammy worthy. I think their 2008 release Neon Bible is better yet.  For fans of the band, SiriusXM’s and the band are sponsoring a free show in Montreal on September 22nd.  If you are not in the area, the show will also be broadcast live.
  • Say It Isn’t So – Van Halen is really planning a tour and new album with David Lee Roth, and without Michael Anthony? No way this turns out good. I’m a big fan of reunion tours, but this one just seems destined for disaster.
  • Former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri was charged with four felonies after a fight with his ex-girlfriend turned into a four-hour standoff with police. Oliveri was holed-up with his ex-girlfriend inside his apartment. When the 39 year-old was taken into custody, the police found a full-loaded rifle along with cocaine and meth-amphetamines. Not smart – it’s getting easy to understand why he was tossed from the band. He’s looking at 15 years in prison.
  • You’ve heard us mention The Dodos a duo out of San Francisco and their unique version of rock and roll. Well, they’re offering free tickets and downloads at their website.  Check it out at: The Dodo’s 
  • One of our Twitter followers sent us a link to listen to some new music from a Finnish band: Siberian Jay. It’s a little raw and under-produced, but there’s lots of potential there. Check it out, and thanks to FooFightHans for the suggestion. Follow us at Twitter: rarasfarm or Like us on Facebook to keep in touch and get immediate site updates.